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23 May 19:41

What Are Silicone Rings?

by Kevin Purdy
What Are Silicone Rings?

Marriages are held together by strong bonds, but wedding rings can be remarkably fragile. Two of the smaller heirloom diamonds on my wife’s ring have popped out of their prongs at the gym in the past couple of years—one inside a boxing glove, one during CrossFit. My own simple white-gold band picked up some dents and scratches from weightlifting, while also causing serious calluses on my palms.

We could have bought new diamonds and changed our behavior, taking off our rings when working out and either leaving them at home or in a locker, but then we’d feel anxious about losing them at the gym (and about forgetting to put them back on at home). But one of us heard about silicone wedding bands from a fellow gym-goer—and the other one works for Wirecutter.

a silicone ring being slightly squished between two fingers.
The author’s favorite silicone band, the SafeRingz Wedding Ring, in platinum metallic. Photo: Kevin Purdy

Silicone rings are not new—SafeRingz alone has been making them since 1996—but new brands have arisen to appeal to people engaged in strength training, CrossFit, boxing, and other workout activities. Before the fitness crowd came along, companies sold rubberized rings primarily to people who worked in factories, kitchens, labs, construction jobs, or other roles where getting a ring caught in something could be severely dangerous; they were also of interest to mothers of newborns concerned about scratching their child with a sharp stone.

I casually tested rubber-like rings from a half-dozen brands by wearing a handful of them for at least a week each over a two-month period. I also traded tweets and emails with a dozen people who mostly or permanently switched from precious metal to silicone rings, and I briefly chatted with a workplace-safety engineer about the benefits (and maybe overselling) of silicone rings’ safety.

After I mentioned I was writing about silicone wedding bands, a few people told me about injuries they’d seen or heard about involving metal rings, or mentioned Jimmy Fallon’s ring avulsion. One co-worker said he remembered a book titled Ring Injuries in the office of his father, an emergency-room doctor. Jeff Toberman, a 20-year veteran of electrical construction who has taught OSHA compliance and first aid for the past 10 years, said of silicone rings: “Safer, yes. Totally safe, no.” Silicone rings are nonconductive, eliminating shock and burning during electrical contact. But they can still catch on tools and equipment, bringing hands into contact with moving parts before breaking.

Rings from the six retailers I checked out typically cost from $13 for four to $40 for a single ring. Most brands offer a discount for buying more than one ring. Some offer discounts for military and first responders, while others donate a portion of the proceeds from certain bands to related charities.

After wearing silicone rings and showing them to friends, gym-mates, and co-workers, my wife and I thought bands from SafeRingz, specifically the precious metals variety, felt the best to wear, looked the most like a traditional metal wedding band (viewed at a distance, at least), and didn’t collect visible dust or slip around on our fingers. They cost less than newer, heavily marketed brands, but they look and feel markedly better than the cheapest rings you can find on Amazon or Alibaba. My wife also liked the more matte look and feel of Groove rings and their more snug-fitting design. In our experience, Groove rings’ matte surfaces tended to attract more dust and lint than competitors, but we saw it only when looking closely.

The SafeRingz Platinum Metallic Silicone Wedding Ring, on the author’s ring finger. Photo: Kevin Purdy

None of the silicone rings we tested will fool anyone looking at them closely into thinking they’re traditional metal rings. My wife and I have white-gold metal rings, and when we tested silver-tone silicone rings, the best the silicone rings could do was look indistinguishable from the white gold at a typical human-to-human distance. Gold rings seemed to be harder to imitate with silicone, judging from the silicone ring makers’ photos; rose gold might be a little easier to imitate. If you don’t care about having a facsimile of a metal ring, you have a lot more color options with any silicone ring.

This may say more about society than silicone rings, but nobody said anything about my men’s rings unless I asked them about it. My wife picked up a couple of “I didn’t even know it was rubber” compliments but got just as many quiet “oh”s (and one eyeroll). Obviously, a mostly flat silicone ring is no substitute for an engagement ring with a pronounced gem, and it makes for a very different look. The two of us sometimes switch back to our metal bands for formal occasions.

several silicone rings
Some of the silicone wedding bands we tested, in stacks. From left: Roq, Enso Elements, SafeRingz, Groove, Qalo, and ThunderFit. Photo: Kevin Purdy

We tested rings from a few other companies that we didn’t like as much as the SafeRingz. Enso’s Elements rings offered an interesting no-slip inner texture and lots of metal-like color options but had a bit too much sheen and an odd lip on the edges. The rings from Qalo weren’t impressive for their $30-to-$40 price; one of them arrived with an uneven outer seam, and two rings showed nicks or fractures on the inside edges after just a few days’ wearing. The ThunderFit and Roq rings both had an unnatural, glitter-like sheen, looking like something you’d find in a 25¢ plastic-egg machine. My wife said they felt like wearing a rubber band. Roq also sent the wrong rings in an Amazon order.

Tastes vary, of course. You may wear a silicone ring only occasionally for certain work tasks, or want your ring to look entirely different from a traditional metal band.

As a couple who works out often, my wife and I now wear silicone bands consistently. We’ve found that we don’t necessarily need to wear expensive, potentially injury-inducing tokens to honor our commitment to each other. Plus, it’s nice to have the option of trading them out when the occasion calls for that. And if anyone wants to question my decision to use a silicone ring, I’ll ask them if they could just quickly image-search “ring avulsion” for me.

23 May 18:08

How To Engage In The Comments: A Journalist’s Guide


Alexandra Bowen, The Coral Project, May 23, 2018


Although addressed to journalists, this article is nonetheless a good guide for educators as well. It describes why you should engage with comments, how to respond, and how to deal with negative or abusive comments. It's from the Coral Project, which is a service that provides "open-source tools and practices for newsrooms of all sizes," including in particular a commenting service. I've discussed it before.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
23 May 18:08

National Geographic's brilliant cover

by Dries

One of the best covers I've seen. Iconic!

National Geographic's

23 May 17:58

Apple affiliated chipmaker reportedly starts production on new 7nm iPhone processor

by Igor Bonifacic

One of Apple’s go-to chip-makers, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), has started mass production on the next generation of iPhone chips, according to a new report from Bloomberg.

Citing sources within the chipmaker, Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman and Debby Wu say Apple is likely to call the new chipset the A12 when it announces it later this year. What’s more, TSMC is reportedly using a 7-nanometre (nm) process to manufacture the new chip. Apple’s current top-of-the-line A11 processor is made using a 10nm process. Even without factoring in improvements to the overall design of the new chip, it’s likely to be more powerful and power efficient just based on the switch to 7nm.

Unless Samsung preempts Apple when it launches the Note 9 later this year, the new iPhone is likely to be the first smartphone to come with a 7nm chip. Bloomberg doesn’t explicitly whether TSMC is using extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography to produce the new chips, but if the chipmaker is, then the A12 will be a milestone in that regard, as well.

EUV lithography represents the latest advancement in chip-making. Unlike traditional chip lithography, the ultraviolet light used in EUV lithography can’t travel through air and can’t be focused using traditional optics and mirrors.

To date, chipmakers like Samsung have had issue manufacturing EUV-made chips at scale. At the end of last year, Samsung said it was on track to ship its first 7nm chip at the start of 2018. Its flagship Exynos 9810 chipset is still made using a 10nm process.

Source: Bloomberg

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23 May 17:58

Samsung might be developing a Wear OS smart watch

by Brad Bennett

It’s been a long time since Samsung has developed a watch with Google’s Wear OS but a new leak suggests the company is going to give it another try.

Notable device leaker Evan Blass has tweeted out that Samsung Gear watches running Wear OS — instead of the company’s propriety software Tizen — have been seen on some Samsung employees.

Samsung has made only one Wear OS watch before. Back when Wear OS was called Android Wear, the company tested Google’s operating system on one of the earliest smartwatches.

The old watch was called the Galaxy Gear and it came out in 2014 along with the LG G watch.

Since then Samsung has opted to use Tizen. The company told Fast Company in 2016 that Tizen OS was far more battery-efficient than Android Wear.

If Evan Blass’ leak is correct, it seems Samsung is reconsidering that line of thought and looking to take another crack at Wear OS.

Source: Twitter, Fast Company 

The post Samsung might be developing a Wear OS smart watch appeared first on MobileSyrup.

23 May 17:58

Dropbox has redesigned its mobile apps to make sharing easier

by Brad Bennett

Dropbox has updated its file sharing apps to add new mobile productivity features.

The largest change comes in the form of a home screen redesign. Now the home screen will present users with their notifications and starred documents right along the top of the screen.

Below this section, users can browse their files. Dropbox has also added an option that allows users to view files through as large thumbnail images instead of the standard list.

Dropbox has made it easier to see who has edited or viewed a saved project right in the apps preview mode. Whenever a user taps in to view a saved item they can scroll down to see who has interacted with that item before. Interactions can be things like edits, views, shares, or moving the location of the item.

Sharing has been revamped on the mobile platform so users can more easily comment on shared documents. The share button has also been redesigned to become more prominent to help users send their files to coworkers or friends quickly.

The app now supports drag and drop functionality on iOS 11 devices, iPad users can even drag files out of the app and into other applications.

These new features are available now for iOS and will start rolling out to Android soon.

Source: Dropbox

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23 May 17:58

Tapping the fingerprint scanner keeps display awake on Android P

by Jonathan Lamont
Google Pixel 2 XL fingerprint scanner

Android P lets you use the fingerprint scanner to keep the display from going to sleep — a welcome addition for mobile readers.

There’s nothing worse than tapping your screen to keep it from going to sleep and losing your spot because the text moved.

The feature works smoothly, as well. When the screen dims before sleeping, just tap your finger on the sensor. The phone doesn’t vibrate or respond to the touch, the screen just lights up again.

This is just one of the many small changes Google has made with Android P. Google also added fingerprint gestures to YouTube, added calendar and weather alerts to Ambient Display and put alarm and volume status into the notification shade. Together, the changes add up to some quality improvements. Sometimes, it is all about the little things.

Using the fingerprint to keep the display from sleeping appears to be part of the second Android Developer Preview. We tested the feature on our Pixel 2 XL running DP2 and it worked. However, the original Pixel running DP1 did not have the feature. It doesn’t work on Android 8.1 with these devices either.

If you’re running DP2 on your phone, give the new feature a try. Let us know if it works for your device in the comments below.

Source: Android Police

The post Tapping the fingerprint scanner keeps display awake on Android P appeared first on MobileSyrup.

23 May 17:57

Snap executive leaves company to join Tesla

by Brad Bennett
Tesla model 3 first production

A Snap Inc. executive is leaving the Snapchat creator to join Tesla as its vice president of engineering.

While at Snap, Stuart Bower was the company’s vice president of monetization engineering. His job at Snap involved overseeing the company’s social media advertising system.

A Snap spokesperson told online publication Cheddar that Bowers “has long had a dream to pursue his passion for robotics and we wish him the best.”

According to CNBC, Bowers will work on Tesla’s Autopilot program, along with a few other undisclosed projects.

The Tesla Autopilot program has been in its own version of turmoil with the heads of that department switching out at a quick pace.

Before working at Snap and now Tesla, Bowers worked on machine learning at Facebook and as a software engineer at Microsoft, according to his Linkedin profile.

Source: Cheddar, CNBC

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23 May 17:57

Apple launches $50 out-of-warranty battery replacement credit for iPhone 6 or later

by Patrick O'Rourke
iPhone X

Apple Canada has confirmed the launch of a $50 out-of-warranty battery replacement credit in Canada.

The rebate is valid for customers who purchased an out-of-warranty battery replacement for iPhone 6 or later iPhone between January 1st 2017 and December 28th, 2017. Apple says that the rebate is only valid for replacements that were completed at an authorized service location, including an Apple Store, Apple Repair Centre or Apple Authorized service provider.

The $50 credit is an extension of Apple’s $35 battery replacement program that went into effect back in December of 2017.  The original cost for iPhone battery replacements in Canada came in at $99.

Apple recently added power management options with iOS 11.3, the latest release of its mobile operating system, allowing users to shut off a feature that prevents unexpected shutdowns during peak power draw, by throttling the smartphone’s processor.

More information regarding the rebate can be found at this link.

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23 May 17:57

British Columbia and Quebec are getting new area codes

by Brad Bennett
BC app header

Residents of British Columbia and Quebec will soon have new area codes.

B.C. will implement a new 627 area code on May 4th, 2019. Like most new area codes, the 627 one is designed to help with the growing number of phone numbers in the province.

Quebec, meanwhile, is set to launch its new 367 area code on November 24th of this year. It will be part of the regions of Quebec that are currently served by the 418 and 581 area codes.

“The introduction of a new area code creates millions of additional telephone numbers without affecting the existing numbers,” said Glen Brown, director of the Canadian numbering administrator, in a recent press release.

B.C.’s new 627 area code will be mixed into the province’s existing area codes. The code will be introduced gradually with only some residents getting the new code until the old codes run out of numbers. The old codes in B.C. are 604, 250, 778 and 236. In Quebec, the codes are 418 and 581.

Source: Alliance des télécommunicateurs

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23 May 17:57

Morgan Freeman to voice announcements on Vancouver buses and SkyTrain

by Bradly Shankar
Morgan Freeman in Bruce Almighty

A popular internet meme revolves around Morgan Freeman’s voice — specifically, how situations can be improved by listening to the sound of his dulcet tones.

This has even led scientists to try to explain why the Academy Award-winning actor’s voice is so beloved around the world.

As it turns out, Vancouver also loves his voice. TransLink, the city’s transportation agency, has announced that Freeman has recorded a series of transit announcements that commuters will hear on buses and SkyTrain stations.

Specifically, Freeman is featured in Visa ads promoting TransLink’s new ‘tap to pay’ feature, which accepts payments from Visa, Mastercard and mobile wallets like Apple Pay.

Some of Freeman’s announcements will include “Good news, Vancouver. Starting today you can now tap your Visa to go anywhere TransLink takes you,” and “Hello transit riders, remember what your mom used to say: please keep your feet off the furniture. And also remember: You can now tap your Visa to go anywhere TransLink takes you.”

Freeman’s voice will be heard at six different yet-to-be-announced bus routes and at select SkyTrain stations between June 4th and July 29th.

Freeman’s announcements will also be played after B.C. Lions home games on June 8th, June 16th and July 14th.

While Vancouverites might find it a bit random to hear Freeman’s voice on a commuter, the marketing campaign makes sense, the given the acclaimed actor’s longtime role of Visa spokesman.

Individual transit stop announcements will continue to be voiced by Laureen Regan.

Image credit: Universal Pictures

Via: Vancouver Sun 

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23 May 17:57

Freedom Mobile customers now have wireless in Vancouver’s SkyTrain Dunsmuir Tunnel

by Rose Behar
Shot of Vancouver SkyTrain

Freedom Mobile is now offering customers wireless connectivity in the SkyTrain’s Dunsmuir Tunnel in Vancouver.

Freedom and Vancouver’s transit network, TransLink, made the announcement today, reporting that customers will have access to LTE at Waterfront, Burrard, Granville and Stadium-Chinatown stations, as well as in the tunnels that connect them.

This announcement is the latest in a series from Freedom and TransLink, including the 2016 launch of free Wi-Fi on all Vancouver SeaBus ferries.

Freedom’s not the only operator to offer wireless access on the SkyTrain. Rogers and Fido customers gained access to wireless across the full SkyTrain system in December 2017.

Freedom Mobile also offers connectivity in Toronto’s underground at all TTC subway stations.

The post Freedom Mobile customers now have wireless in Vancouver’s SkyTrain Dunsmuir Tunnel appeared first on MobileSyrup.

23 May 17:56

DHL and The State of Autonomous Logistics

by Stowe Boyd

What we can learn from a logistics giant and a robot startup

(Want to get insights into emerging tech on a more regular basis? Sign up for the official Traction Report newsletter here).

The world of logistics — the commercial activity of transporting goods to customers — where a ‘customer’ can be at any point in a global supply chain — is undergoing enormous change. There are many factors involved, but the two major forces at work are these:

  1. The continuing rise of e-commerce is leading to logistics firms, like Fedex, UPS, and DHL — and that new kid on the block, Amazon — gearing up their operations to meet that exploding demand. (The corresponding and complementary decline in physical retail sales is the other side of this coin.)
  2. The technologies that underlie autonomy — like LiDAR sensors, autonomous warehouse robotic systems, and the just-emerging capabilities of autonomous trucks — are revolutionizing the world of logistics.

I will explore the world of logistics by looking at two companies: Fetch Robots, a startup making autonomous mobile robots, and DHL, the world’s largest logistics company. Those end points will shed light on the revolution going on.

Startup of the Week

This week’s startup is Fetch Robotics (, the manufacturer of the Freight series of Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs), applicable to material transport and automated data collection. Fetch recently closed a Series B funding round of $25M, led by Sway Ventures with participation from existing investors O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, Shasta Ventures and SB Group US (‘Softbank’). Fetch Robotics’ total funding so far is $48 million.

A Fetch AMR

Underlying Fetch’s technology is the FetchCore cloud platform, positioned as an extremely fast solution to get up and running. The company says that at RK Logistics, the AMRs were up and running in a matter of days and now handle 30% to 50% of items in their facility. Fetch customers can also add or modify workflows with a few clicks without programming, and therefore they can adapt in real time to changing conditions.

In the mindmap below, I have categorized Fetch as an example of Mobile Robots, which have more in common with autonomous vehicles than they do with Stationary Robots—which are not shown here, but would be under the Industrial category. This is because their mobility requires the same technology stack as an autonomous car or truck: sensors (LiDAR, vision, etc.), mapping, collision avoidance, and so on.

Fetch Robots in the world of Autonomous Logistics

Note that DHL is a client of Fetch, as are a growing list of other companies, like RK Logistics, and Wärtsilä.

In order to understand the changes going on in logistics in general, we need to zoom in on two sorts of technological disruption that are having an enormous impact on logistics and transportation in general.

Back to the Stack

LiDAR is short for Light Radar, and is a critical technology in the autonomy stack. It’s a remote sensing method that uses pulsed lasers to measure distance, and is key to autonomy. These are like human eyes, that autonomous vehicles use to ‘see’ their surroundings, and from that calculate things like the trajectories of nearby objects and locations of stationary objects like trees next to a roadway or shelves in a warehouse. LiDAR sensors are often located on the roofs of cars, as multi-beam spinning devices, and from their signals and AI-analysis of them, the vehicles create a 3D map of their surroundings.

LiDAR, along with the enormous innovations in AI, are setting the context for a complete overhaul of logistics. As AI is being wed with conventional vehicles, we need to understand the levels of autonomy available today, and how far away we are from driverless trains, airplanes, and ships —>that carry goods great distances —> that are unloaded by robots and placed into autonomous trucks —>and driven to autonomous stores, —> or directly to our homes and workplaces. There’s a ways to go before we see that utopian reality.

Levels of Autonomy

In the world of autonomous vehicles a semi-standard model for levels of autonomy has emerged:

  • Level 0: No automation — Also thought of as ‘hands on’. totally steered and monitored by people, with no other options. Basically, your grandma in a 1968 VW Beetle.
  • Level 1: Driver assistance required — Think ‘adaptive cruise control’: when you come up on a slow driver in the left lane when adaptive cruise control is engaged, your car will slow down without your involvement. Likewise, ‘lane keeping assistance’ that guides you back into the lane when you drift out of it. But you have to remain completely focused on the car, and remain in control of the vehicle.
  • Level 2: Partial automation — Systems at this level will manage speed and steering under specific, limited conditions. They can match speed to cars around you, and follow the curve of the road in good conditions. But you must remain vigilant and prepared to take back full control if the system can’t deal with the situation. This is the level found in Tesla Autopilot, Cadillac Suprecruise, Mercedes Benz Drive Pilot and others.
  • Level 3: Conditional Automation — Audi has released the new A8, stating it is the first Level 3 automated vehicle available. The A8 can control your car in a traffic jam, by actively monitoring the situation, but once traffic gets back to over 37 mph, the driver would have to regain direct control of the car. This is the scariest sort of autonomy, because it requires a non-involved passenger possibly becoming the driver again.
  • Level 4: High Automation — These vehicles basically drive themselves except in rare conditions, such as extreme wether situations, or contexts that are completely unexpected. While these vehicles still have steering wheels and pedals, these controls may not be used frequently by human drivers.
  • Level 5: Full automation — These are fully driverless vehicles that can drive anywhere, anytime. For example, a car coming to pick you up at work after driving from your home, and where you get in the back seat and sleep all the way home.

At present, there are a few level 3 vehicles available, but no level 4 or 5 vehicles, despite marketing hype.

However, to make a serious impact in logistics, there are several intermediate stages that represent stepping stones towards full autonomy, and which could have significant benefits for all involved.

For example, platooning of trucks on highways is already available, where small groups of trucks can form ‘pelotons’ — so that only the foremost driver would be controlling the platoon while other drivers could rest or at least take their hands off the wheel and eyes off the road (the company Peloton is pioneering this approach). This does not line up exactly with the five levels of automation, but is rather a specialized variant of level 1.

Level 4 trucks that can operate autonomously just in the context of highway driving represent a major breakthrough, since they would only require human operators to drive the trucks to and from the highway on surface streets, or directly from distribution sites located immediately adjacent to highways. We can expect this specialized variant of level 4 autonomy before all others.

My recent education into the present and future of autonomous logistics was deepened by a recent event sponsored by DHL, the international logistics leader, where they shared their plans in the market. The following mindmap shows DHL as both a user of autonomous technologies as well as developing their own solutions, like the recently announced Streetscooter, which I describe in more detail, below.

The Logistics World of DHL

I attended DHL’s press event announcing a new product offering, Parcel Metro, which is an integrated effort by DHL eCommerce to orchestrate an offering based on the surge in e-commerce shipping. Parcel Metro is a DHL service offered in major US cities — currently Chicago and New York City, with other cities to come — that enables same day (Metro Same Day) and next day (Metro Next Day) delivery experience. DHL is also planning to offer an immediate delivery service — Metro Now — in the near future.

The interesting thing about this announcement is that DHL will not be providing the delivery fleet: they will be using other companies — local delivery services and other logistics firms — but will be basically offering their logistics system as a platform for e-commerce or retail organizations to leverage. When I asked if they would ever act as the delivery partner — since the company does deliver packages in the US that are shipped internationally — I was told that DHL is not getting back into US deliveries of domestic goods, after shutting down domestic operations in 2008.

However, DHL is expanding in a number of ways, reflecting its ambitions in a rapidly shifting world.

DHL has an enormous logistics supply chain, relying on hundreds of vendors. They’ve ordered 10 or more Tesla Semis, and are using autonomous warehouse bots from Fetch Robots and Fetch competitor Locus. In time, we can anticipate that every element of their systems will be as automated as possible. At the event, they demonstrated modern robot arms that can pack boxes using techniques that were unavailable until recently, as well as advanced techniques for AMRs to optimally collect packages in distribution sites.

But DHL is also becoming a manufacturer of vehicles: the company has developed and deployed its new Streetscooter vehicles, a modern urban delivery vehicle, designed to be more energy efficient and sustainable. Today’s offerings run on hydrogen fuel cells, and will be transitioning to electric drives in the near term. And the company is partnering with others — like chipmaker Nvidia, to create a world-class autonomous version of Streetscooter as soon as is practical.

DHL is demonstrating that even the most well-positioned and largest logistics companies must actively take on the challenges of autonomous logistics if they are to avoid becoming obsolete in this new era. And they have accepted the challenge and are pushing ahead, as Package Metro and Streetscooter show.

(Want to stay on top of the latest emerging technologies for the enterprise? Join the Traction Tech Council, and stay one step ahead of your competitors).

DHL and The State of Autonomous Logistics was originally published in Traction Report on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

23 May 17:54

The Case For 30 km/h Speed Limits in Canadian Municipalities

by Sandy James Planner


Recently, I participated in a CBC Radio “On The Coast” dialogue with CBC’s Michelle Eliot. Karen Reid Sidhu, Executive Director of the Surrey Crime Prevention Society, joined me in addressing motor vehicle speeds, and the question of why convenience is sometimes viewed as more important than reducing crashes, injury and death on our roads.

There are some organizations promoting the idea that vehicular speed has no impact on safe road use. For example, Sense BC ran a campaign against photo radar in British Columbia, which was implemented on highways in the 1990s to save lives. The program was disbanded, and as we reported in late 2016 deaths and injuries of vulnerable road users have increased in this province over much of the past decade.

Dr. Perry Kendall, recently retired as BC’s Provincial Medical Health Officer, has detailed the 280 annual deaths and injuries from vehicular crashes in his report Where the Rubber Meets the Road.

Meanwhile, Sense BC is running a campaign today odiously entitled, “Speed Kills…Your Pocketbook.”

It’s people like Rod King MBE (that’s Member of the British Empire) who are focusing on saving lives by advocating for speed reduction in municipalities in the United Kingdom. King recently spoke to the Scottish Parliament in support of a bill proposed to lower speed limits to 20 miles per hour (equivalent to 30 km/h) in cities, towns and villages. That’s down from the current 30 miles per hour (50 km/h). It is being considered seriously.

In London and several counties across the UK, slowing speeds has resulted in twenty per cent fewer people dying, and many more avoiding serious injury. As King observes:

If we want consideration for the amenity and safety of residents and communities to be a national norm, then at some stage we have to enter a national debate about the quality of our streets and whether we have rules built around optimising the speed of vehicles, or about the liveability of people. We need to end our thinking about 30mph from our warm, protected, comfortable windscreen view of the street, and consider it from the height of an 8-year-old on the pavement, or with the mobility of an 80-year-old trying to cross the high street to a shop.

And here’s why:

  1. From an emissions standpoint, a vehicle going 50 km/h requires 2.25 times the energy to sustain a speed 50 km per hour, compared to 30 km/h. A speed reduction to 30 km/h reduces diesel NOx and PM10 pollution by 8 per cent.
  2. The stopping distance required for a vehicle at 50 km/h is nearly double that of a vehicle at 30 km/h. A speed reduction to 30 km/h doubles the available reaction time for everyone involved, increasing the likelihood of avoiding a crash.
  3. The force of a collision involving a vehicle driving 50 km/h is 2.25 times that of a collision at 30 km/h; 80 per cent of pedestrians will die in a 50 km/h impact. At 30 km/h, 85 per cent of pedestrians will survive an impact.

The World Health Organization and the European Union Transport & Tourism Committee both state that 30 km/h is best practice for road speed unless there are separated cycling and pedestrian facilitiesOther organizations, like the International Road Assessment Program, and the Global Network for Road Safety Legislators, also recommend 30 km/h speed limits.

The International Transport Forum of the OECD (Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development) states: “Where motorised vehicles and vulnerable road users share the same space, such as in residential areas, 30 km/h is the recommended maximum.”

In the Netherlands 70 per cent of urban roads have a 30 km/h speed limit or lower. In Scandanavia, 30 km/h is the usual posted speed in towns and villages. In fact, throughout Europe, 30 km/h is increasingly being set as the standard, with the exception of arterial roads with segregated cycling facilities.

Slowing vehicles in municipalities not only about saves lives; it also allows the reimagining of schools, shops and services as places to walk or bike to, or simply to feel safer to congregate and recreate in, as eloquently expressed in an opinion piece in the Edmonton Journal last year by Anna Ho of Paths for People.  Earlier this year this Globe and Mail editorial simply stated that Toronto vehicular traffic needs to slow, and that in order to reduce road deaths a huge cultural change must occur regarding ‘the need for speed’.

Slower speed limits challenges us to rethink our municipal fabric, and how it can serve people, and isolate the motor vehicle as an adjunct to, not a replacement for, social space.

It is a concept that is finally coming to fruition elsewhere in the world, and it’s time Canadian municipalities responded.



23 May 17:54

Our Falling Tower – 1

by pricetags

As one commenter recently noted, we do seem to be giving Vancouver House (“Our Looming Tower“) a lot of love.

Perhaps because it’s so photogenic, as seen this last weekend.

But this is not the falling tower that is today’s subject.

While it’s likely that Vancouver House will be the iconic tower design of this architectural period, there’s another tower on the other side of the downtown peninsula that was once also, because of its height and visibility, representative of its era — the 1960s.

The Landmark Hotel on Robson Street, however, is coming down.

Just as Vancouver House reaches its full height, strapping is being fixed to the Landmark for the automated drilling machines which will, over the next year or so, remove this true Vancouver landmark from the skyline.

We’ll follow along.

23 May 02:08

Twitter to shut down Xbox, Roku and Android TV apps this week

by Bradly Shankar
Twitter app

Twitter has announced that it will be shutting down its Roku, Android TV and Xbox apps on May 24th.

The company made the announcement in a May 22nd tweet. No reason was given for the shutdown.

However, it’s worth noting that all three versions of the app have received significant negative feedback on their respective app stores, largely due to the fact that Twitter doesn’t allow users to tweet from their accounts on these platforms. Moreover, users aren’t able to sign in to their Twitter accounts to see tweets from those they follow.

Instead, users are only able to see curated Twitter commentary play in the background of their device. As a result, many users left one or two-star ratings (out of a possible five) and complained that the ap lacked functionality.

“I can’t sign in or see anything I follow. Just see celebrity nonsense. Useless,” wrote Xbox user Vegantichrist.

“Worst version of twitter i’ve ever used,” said user Limybro58.

Via: The Verge

The post Twitter to shut down Xbox, Roku and Android TV apps this week appeared first on MobileSyrup.

23 May 01:34

Vivo Apex FullView pop-up camera phone might have a release date

by Brad Bennett
The Vivo Apex smartphone

This year at Mobile World Congress Chinese phone manufacturer Vivo announced a new phone called the Apex FullView.

The smartphone had a truly edge-to-edge display with no notch. The notch was removed because the phone’s front-facing camera popped out of the top of the phone like a little Swiss Army knife.

The phone was originally only shown off as a concept device, but a few weeks after MWC the company decided to mass produce the Apex FullView.

A recent commercial by Vivo shows off a phone that looks identical to the Apex FullView and on the screen, it says “save the date 12.6.2018.” It looks like we might see more news on June 12th.

While I for one am always excited when a company finds a new and creative way to remove the notch on a phone, it will be even more exciting to see this device released to the public. That said, it’s unclear if the Apex FullView will be released in Canada.

Either way, it looks like Vivo is set to release a truly bezel-less phone in June.

Update: 23/05/2018: The video that teases the phone has been embedded into the story.

Source: Android Central 

The post Vivo Apex FullView pop-up camera phone might have a release date appeared first on MobileSyrup.

23 May 01:34

Delta Blues

Lately I’ve been trying to learn to play delta blues. I’m not ever going to play like Robert Johnson — nobody ever will — but I’d like to learn it as well as I can. Well enough so that, if you like the blues, and you heard me at a coffee shop, you’d enjoy it.

(Not that I’m going to start playing at coffee shops.)

I’ve been playing guitar for 38 years, and I’ve known the 12-bar blues progression and the blues scale for almost as long. But I always figured that learning to play like this would be way beyond my abilities.

* * *

The first thing to notice is that, in the hands of someone like Robert Johnson, it sounds like two guitars playing.

Roughly speaking: the thumb is doing a regular shuffle beat, often with two strings, while the other fingers are doing fills and melodies. At the same damn time.

I’m a life-long strummer and power-chord player. Flat pick. Rhythm guitarist. I’ve never had to develop this kind of coordination. It’s difficult.

The second thing to notice is that every single pitch your guitar can make is on the table. Sure, there’s a progression and a scale — but players regularly use notes outside the standard blues scale, and they hit pitches, by bending strings, that are between the notes.

And throw a slide in — which I’m learning to do — and it’s just nuts.

This music is incredibly complicated compared to the pop rock I’ve always played.

* * *

But I am learning it. Slowly. It’s going to take a few years before it sounds effortless. Right now I sound like a person trying really hard.

The thing is this, though, and this has wider application: for some reason, when I was a teenager, I told myself that I didn’t have the talent to play anything more complex than basic rhythm guitar.

I learned the cowboy chords, barre chords, power chords, notes in first position — and convinced myself I didn’t have the ability to learn fingerpicking or delta blues or anything that would make me a musician as opposed to just someone with a relaxing hobby.

I honestly don’t know why I thought that! I mean, I learned all this stuff, and figured I couldn’t keep learning at some point?

But here I am, now, learning it. It’s hard, but I’m learning.

* * *

Maybe I was confused by the word “talent.” I didn’t think I had that thing — where is it? I can’t see it — and I figured that, without it, I had hit my wall.

But… I’ve always been good at rhythm. It comes so easy that I thought everybody had that ability. And then I’ve seen other guitarists struggle at rhythm bits that take me no time to learn.

I’m also very good at remembering songs. It’s like I have a karaoke machine in my head. This comes with little effort at all — once I learn a song (sometimes just by hearing it) then, usually, I know it forever.

At least the chords. At least enough to be able to play it by the campfire. (Or at a piano, because that’s a thing I do too. Though I play piano like a rhythm guitarist. :)

Maybe these are some small musical talents that I actually do have?

But: hearing pitches and intervals and understanding melody is much harder for me, and that’s just come with a ton of practice. Mostly by listening, trying to recreate what I hear, and trying to figure out why it works.

* * *

I think I’m making a point about impostor syndrome. I told myself I couldn’t learn to play guitar at a deeper level — at the level of real musicians — and here I am at age 50 wondering why I told myself that, because here I am doing it.

Why did I wait so long?

And, sure, maybe I do have some small amount of musical talent, but whatever. If I hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t have been interested at all.

So maybe it’s a good bet that if you’re interesting in a thing, you may already have some talent for it. And maybe, just maybe, interest and talent are really synonyms, or close to it.

* * *

PS I started playing with a thumbpick to get that bass shuffle sounding good.

23 May 01:31

(Permanent) Progress along Vancouver’s Hospital Precinct

by pricetags

As of last week, this is what Vancouver’s upgraded 10th Avenue Bikeway looked like in the hospital precinct near Oak Street — still incomplete, but already being used.


This is the one that prospective NPA mayoral candidate Glen Chernen promised to take out with heavy equipment if elected.

Whether 10th Ave, Point Grey Road, Hornby Street, or any other piece of the network, it’s not going to happen — for at least four reasons.

(1)  Once complete it will prove to be a satisfactory outcome for the various users, as with all the other separated routes.  No ‘Mageddons will occur.  And almost no one will want to go back to the previous arrangement.

(2) It will cost a significant chunk of change to return the street to its previous condition — and waste all the money that was used to construct the improved route.  What a great way to brand the beginning of your term: ‘Wasting taxpayers’ money in pointless exercises of revenge!’

(3) It will mobilize opposition with a dramatic act — literally allowing defenders of active and safe transport to lie down in front of bulldozers. Cue the cute kids and seniors on bikes.

(4) The rest of council will probably vote against him, having realized that a 10th Avenue Bike Lane Removal Project is lose-lose-lose all the way around.

It’s an empty promise, thereby demonstrating that, as mayoral candidate, he has a big mouth, but it’s toothless.

23 May 01:31

Adventures in Blockchain!

by Bryan Mathers
Adventures in Blockchain

Anywhere there’s innovation being touted, good ol’ Blockchain won’t be far away. There’s no end to the possible adventurin’. Embrace the future!

The post Adventures in Blockchain! appeared first on Visual Thinkery.

23 May 01:30

Stop blaming mortgage stress tests for killing the housing market - The Globe and Mail

mkalus shared this story .

When things go wrong in the housing market, people get angry.

So expect to hear a lot of irate commentary on whose fault it is if house prices keep falling in Toronto and other places where people have been making lots of money off the housing boom. The narrative is already taking shape: The introduction of mortgage stress tests for home buyers by the federal government’s banking regulator has ruined the housing market and, in particular, hurt first-time buyers.

Allow someone who doesn’t make a living off the sale or financing of real estate to set you straight on all of this. What’s happening in housing is actually healthy. Slowing the market down now lessens the risk of a plunge that would traumatize this country worse than any stock-market crash ever.

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The stress tests ensure you can afford a mortgage if rates climb well above current levels. In some cities, people are finding that the house they want to buy wouldn’t be affordable if they had to pay a higher mortgage rate. The housing-industrial complex says this is bad – a cruel denial of every Canadian’s right to live the dream of home ownership.

The stress test, in fact, has proved to be a blunt instrument in how it can restrict people who already own a house from changing lenders on renewal. But if you look at what’s going on with interest rates right now, you’ll see how needed it is. The cost of fixed-rate mortgages has been rising this year and pressure is building for more increases. This is exactly the kind of stress regulators were thinking of when they introduced the stress test.

Buyers knocked out of the market by the stress test are being saved, not persecuted. People forget that today’s interest rates are still incredibly low by historical standards. We may never get back to the old normal on rates, but you have to be able to handle higher borrowing costs if you have a mortgage.

In the real estate sector’s blame game, the economy is another victim of the misguided attempt to address soaring home prices. Housing is a pillar of the economy, the argument goes. Constraining it hurts us all if the result is an economic slowdown.

An RBC Economics report from a year ago said 5 per cent of the economy is highly exposed to a sales slump in housing. That may undersell the impact of a sustained fall in house prices. If houses are falling in value, consumer confidence will decline and so might spending. Cumulatively, the economy could be seriously affected.

Given how far house prices have risen in some cities, a pullback of some sort is pretty much inevitable at some point. We have zero chance of avoiding a situation where the housing sector acts as a drag on the broader economy. Should we still be angry at the mortgage stress tests for triggering a housing slowdown in some cities? Couldn’t we have waited and let things unfold without intervention?

No way. There’s a housing mania in this country that has to be stopped before it collapses the entire market. Recent example: A report by CIBC World Markets and Urbanation Inc. found that investors accounted for at least 48 per cent of all buyers who took possession of newly built condos in the Greater Toronto Area last year. At least 44 per cent of those investors with a mortgage are currently in a negative cash flow position, which means rents charged to tenants don’t cover their mortgage payments and condo maintenance fees.

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This isn’t shrewd investing. It’s desperate speculation that distorts the housing market and adds to the danger of an outright crash in housing that is worse than anything caused by the mortgage stress test.

Despite the stress test, the housing market is thriving in some cities. Prices in Ottawa, Montreal and St. John’s were up 6 per cent to 8 per cent in April compared with the previous year, while the crazy Vancouver market was up 14.3 per cent.

In Toronto and surrounding cities, the mortgage stress tests are doing the important work of protecting lenders and borrowers in overheated markets at a time of rising interest rates. Given how emotionally and financially overinvested we are in housing, it’s natural that some people are angry about this.

22 May 19:09

Adobe acquires Magento to become “shoppable” — and maximally buzzword-compliant

by Josh Bernoff

Adobe announced yesterday that it would acquire commerce platform Magento for $1.68 billion. It’s clear that an army of lawyers and PR people spent days crafting the 1001-word announcement, with is laden with highly refined, state-of-the-art tech-vendor bullshit. So let’s take the announcement apart. I’ll highlight jargon in bold and meaningless weasel words in italic, and … Continued

The post Adobe acquires Magento to become “shoppable” — and maximally buzzword-compliant appeared first on without bullshit.

22 May 19:09

What Is a Network Switch, and Do You Need One?

by Andrew Cunningham
What Is a Network Switch, and Do You Need One?

A network switch—not to be confused with a light switch or a Nintendo Switch—is a box that you connect to your home router to gain more Ethernet ports. Think of it as functioning like a USB hub but for networking.

Because home routers usually come with three or four Ethernet ports built in, and because almost everything on a home network—laptops, phones, game consoles, streaming boxes, and smart-home accessories—uses Wi-Fi anyway, most people don’t need a network switch. But a switch is useful if your router doesn’t have enough Ethernet ports (like the Eero mesh router, which has only one port free after you’ve connected your modem), if you have a lot of wired devices in one place (such as in an entertainment center), if you’re trying to use wires to improve your speeds or cut down on wireless interference, or if you’re installing Ethernet ports in your home’s walls.

For adding a few more ports

The most common kind of switch, at least for homes and small businesses, is called an unmanaged switch. That means the switch itself has no settings or special features, and it exists only to add more Ethernet ports to your network. Your router continues to handle your Internet connection, letting your devices talk to one another and restricting what certain devices can do through parental controls or other settings—the switch is effectively invisible. In contrast, the kinds of things that managed switches do—such as monitoring traffic on individual ports or setting up virtual networks (VLANs) using the same switch—are really important only for large corporate networks.

Because unmanaged switches are so simple, models from different manufacturers all perform about the same. Simply find a Gigabit Ethernet switch with the number of ports you need from a reputable networking company like D-Link, Netgear, TP-Link, or TrendNet, make sure the owner reviews aren’t awful (both of the models we like have 4.5 stars out of five across hundreds of reviews at this writing), and buy that one. A good five-port switch, such as this one from TP-Link—with one port to connect to an Ethernet port on your router, and four to connect to your devices—should cost $20 or less. An eight-port switch should cost no more than $30. These options are well-reviewed and inexpensive, but they certainly aren’t the only good choices.

For adding Ethernet all over your house

A good mesh-networking kit saves you from needing to run Ethernet cabling through your walls no matter how big or complicated your house is, and it’s usually cheaper too. But if you want fast, lag-free connections in every room of your house—if you play online games, stream 4K video from a local server, or transfer large files over your network every day—there’s still no substitute for wired Ethernet.

A switch is just one part of a home wiring project, and you should read a full how-to guide before you decide whether this is something you want to try, even if you plan on hiring a contractor to do the actual wiring. Putting Ethernet cables in walls has become less appealing (and less necessary) as Wi-Fi has improved, and it might not even be an option for people who rent their apartment or home (though in that case you could still run wires along the baseboards if having cables out in the open doesn’t bother you).

Decide how many rooms you’d like to wire up and how many Ethernet jacks you’d like in each room, and then buy a switch with at least that many ports; we recommend getting a few more ports than you need in case you want to wire up more later, or in case a port on the switch dies over the course of its life. A 16-port unmanaged switch such as this one from TP-Link should run you $50 or $60, while a 24-port unmanaged switch like this one from Netgear typically costs between $70 and $90. Both options are from reliable manufacturers, have decent reviews, and are reasonably priced.

Here’s what to look for in wiring your home:

  • Pick a place where the switch will live: This spot should be out of view—larger switches are big, ugly boxes you probably won’t want to have sitting on a shelf in the open—but easy to access for setup and troubleshooting. It should also be easy to run cables to, and it must be less than 100 meters (328 feet) from the farthest room you want to wire, since that’s the maximum length over which most Ethernet cables will reliably work.
  • Get some cabling: Category 6 (or Cat 6) cabling hits the sweet spot of speed, price, and future-proofness.1 It can carry a 1-gigabit Ethernet signal for up to 100 meters and a 10-gigabit signal for up to 55 meters (10-gigabit Ethernet is still rare and expensive, a situation that’s unlikely to change soon). You can find lots of different kinds of Ethernet cables, distinguished by whether they are shielded from electromagnetic interference2 and what kind of coating they use. You should at least use “riser” (or CMR) cable, which is designed to be used vertically in walls to prevent fire from spreading from floor to floor in your home. “Plenum” (or CMP) cable is for horizontal runs; it’s more expensive but designed to stop fire from spreading more than 5 feet along the cable in any direction. A 1,000-foot roll of CMR cable costs about $90, while the same amount of CMP cable costs a little over twice as much.
  • Get ready to cut some cables: Buy Ethernet plugs and strain-relief boots so that you can plug the cables into your switch after you’ve cut them with your wire stripper and crimping tool. This YouTube tutorial on cutting Ethernet cables is quick and clear.
  • Get wall jacks: First, buy wall plates and mounting brackets for all the rooms you’re wiring up—you can easily find plates for as few as one or as many as 12 ports. Then, buy as many Ethernet keystone jacks as you need—they fit into the plate and are the part that you plug your computer or game console’s Ethernet cable into.

Using wires to improve your Wi-Fi

Once a good wired network is installed, it will improve your Wi-Fi performance by reducing the number of devices competing for wireless bandwidth. But if you have an especially large house or just want to improve wireless performance even more, Wi-Fi access points such as the Ubiquiti UniFi series can talk to one another over your home’s Ethernet wiring to make sure your devices connect to the access point that will provide the best speeds, evenly distributing your network’s load to increase throughput and lower latency. These devices entirely replace your existing Wi-Fi, but you’ll still need a router—you can either turn your current router’s Wi-Fi off and continue using it as a wired router or replace it with a wired-only router like something from Ubiquiti’s EdgeRouter series.

If you plan to take this approach, you may also want a switch that supports Power over Ethernet like this well-priced, well-reviewed 16-port switch from Netgear.3 This feature removes the need for separate power adapters on those access points, giving your setup a cleaner, simpler look—connect your Wi-Fi access points to the PoE ports on the switch, and they will receive both power and data over a single cable. Alternatively, you can buy PoE injector adapters to add PoE to any switch—the result will look messier in your networking closet, but this method is cheaper.


1. Cat 6 is not to be confused with the less-common Cat 6e, which can run a 10-gigabit Ethernet signal over 100 meters of cable but doesn’t matter for 1-gigabit Ethernet. Cat 6 is the best choice for home wiring projects as of early 2018. Most how-tos on wiring your home for Ethernet are a few years old—they’re still useful for planning purposes, but they may recommend older cables or switches if they haven’t been updated.
Jump back.

2. Your home will almost certainly be fine with unshielded cabling. Shielded cabling is more common in industrial spaces, where there’s a whole lot of power and other stuff already flowing behind the walls.
Jump back.

3. You can get smaller, five- and eight-port switches with PoE as well, but they cost three or four times as much as switches without PoE. Don’t buy one unless you need it.
Jump back.


1. Zack Stern, Wire Your Home for Ethernet, PCWorld, September 26, 2010

2. Ferrules Direct, How to Make an Ethernet Cable! – FD500R Crimp Tool Demonstration, YouTube, July 8, 2016

22 May 19:09

The Best Electric Pressure Cooker

by Lesley Stockton
The Best Electric Pressure Cooker

After 40 hours of research and testing—including cooking 15 pounds of brisket, 13 pounds of black beans, and 12 pounds of brown rice—we think the best electric pressure cooker for most people is the Instant Pot Duo 6-Quart. Of the nine cookers we tried, it offers the best combination of great performance at a reasonable price. The Duo 6-Quart will help you get dinner on the table in less than half the time of cooking in a regular pot. And unlike the finicky, volatile pressure cookers of the past, this smart electric cooker is totally safe and easy to use.

22 May 19:08

Salsa Dancing into the Social Sciences: Research in an Age of Info-Glut (my reading notes)

by Raul Pacheco-Vega

Granville Island dancersIf you’ve followed me on Twitter, or have read my blog for any length of time, you probably know that in my early years, I was a competitive salsa dancer. I was trained as a classical dancer as a child, and then moved on to salsa, tango, merengue and finally specialized in salsa, to the point where I competed in dance tournaments and I taught how to dance this particular style. I can dance decently now, but I am no longer competitive, because of course, the PhD. (By the way, these are two random salsa dancers on Granville Street back in Vancouver who allowed me to take a photo of them)

Anyways, I was VERY keen to read Salsa Dancing into the Social Sciences: Research in an Age of Info-Glut by Kristen Luker.

I won’t say that I dislike Luker’s book, because I didn’t. I did hope it would be written as *I* (a former competitive salsa dancer, and now a professor of political science/public policy) would do it. But then again, I think that’s a bit of a Reviewer 2
approach. Anyways, there are many things that are worth highlighting and that I enjoyed. There are also things I did not enjoy, as I said on Twitter. I sort of expected some connection between salsa dancing and sociology. I know Professor Luker IS a sociologist and I love her narrative style throughout the book. But I didn’t find salsa dancing moves here. No swaying, no footwork metaphors, no spins, no deep connection between dancers (a pre-requisite for salsa). Not even emphasis on technique.

My complaints about the lack of actual technical salsa moves’ metaphors in the text, Luker’s is a fantastic book for social scientists, primarily sociologists but useful for other disciplines, to be read on Monday evenings, weekly. My complaint stands, though. Yes, Luker talks about salsa-dancing social scientists and at some points I can see how her rhetoric mirrors flowy salsa movements. But, and I know I’m going to sound like Reviewer 2, this is not how I would have written a salsa dancing social science book.


I do thoroughly recommend it for several reasons.

  1. it provides excellent detailed explanations on actual research methods, eschewing towards qualitative and historical-comparative.
  2. links methods and mechanics of research
  3. describes how to do the research process and social science methods to conduct said research.

Certainly, Luker teaches more qualitative than quantitative methods but her Salsa Dancing book definitely has the inner thinking of a quantative scholar throughout.

It took me almost until the end of the book to REALLY understand what Luker meant by a salsa-dancing social scientist (someone who moves horizontally, nimbly and swiftly – this description is actually mine).

If you are a doctoral student, maybe you could read it during “Reading Break” and then work through chapter by chapter along with Luker’s exercises. I like that Luker combines the conversational tone of Bolker with methodological rigour of Dunleavy and exercises like Sternberg. And my warning stands, particularly those of you who like me may be actual competitive dancers.

22 May 19:07

After the Art Smash

by Ken Ohrn

Vancouver’s Granville Island, an urban oasis for tourists and residents alike, presents two uses for the same space.

The contrast is hard to overstate.

One such use is Art Smash 2018, where hundreds of people celebrate lovely new murals and have a fun time.

The other use is a cold, sterile parking lot — providing a lot of space for a few tens of people to store their vehicles.

This reversion to a hostile space for people creates an unpleasant reaction to the simple fact of being there; a glower from behind the steering wheel, the behind-the-scalp rumble of a steadily approaching vehicle.

It’s not a place for people to check out and appreciate the murals. It’s not a place for you or me.

As usual, click any photo to get a large-size slide show of them all.



22 May 19:07

Apple Confirms WWDC Keynote for June 4

by Ryan Christoffel

In mid-March Apple announced that WWDC 2018 would take place the first week in June, and today the company confirmed that, following past tradition, the keynote for that conference will take place on June 4 at 10:00am Pacific.

Apple is expected to unveil the latest versions of its major operating systems at WWDC, including iOS 12, watchOS 5, and macOS 10.14. If the keynote is anything like last year's, we may see several hardware products announced too. A live stream for the keynote has not yet been confirmed, but it remains likely since WWDC is one of the prime Apple events of the year.

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22 May 19:04

Sonos starts selling discounted speaker bundles

by Igor Bonifacic
Sonos One smart speaker

Over on its online store, Sonos has started offering new speaker bundles aimed at helping Canadian consumers save on outfitting their home with the company’s products.

If you visit the Sonos website at the moment, you’ll notice there’s currently no discount for buying several Sonos speakers at the same time. According to a company spokesperson, Canadian discount pricing will go live on May 25th.

In the meantime, Sonos has provided MobileSyrup with bundle pricing, which you can see below:

Starter sets

  • 2 Sonos Ones: $469 ($498 separately)
  • 3 Sonos Ones: $679 ($747 separately)
  • 4 Sonos Ones: $899 ($996 separately)
  • 2 Sonos Play:5: $1,169 ($1,298 separately)

Home theatre

  • 3.1 set-up: $1,649 (vs. $1,798 separately)
  • 5.1 set-up: $2,118 (vs. $2,296 separately)


  • Vinyl set (Play:5 + turntable): $999
  • Vinyl Pro set (2 Play:5 + turntable): $1,499
  • Vinyl Bass set (2 Play:5 + Sub + turntable ): $2,299

Sonos is expected to announce a new voice-activated home theatre speaker at a June 6th event the company plans to hold in San Francisco, Califonia. So it’s likely best to hold off on any of the home theatre bundles until after the first week of June.

Source: Sonos

The post Sonos starts selling discounted speaker bundles appeared first on MobileSyrup.

22 May 19:04

Instagram is letting users mute specific profiles on their timeline

by Brad Bennett

Instagram is starting to roll out a mute feature that will allow users to hide certain profiles from their timelines.

When a user mutes an account they’ll still stay friends so they’ll be able to visit their profile and send messages, but the muted profile’s posts will not show up on the user’s timeline.

Whenever a user is muted, it remains a secret. This means that they won’t know they’ve been muted.

To mute an account, hit the three dot menu button on a post and then select ‘mute.’ You’ll then be able to decide if you want to mute just posts, Stories or both.

So far the option hasn’t rolled out to me on iOS or Android, but since this news comes from the official Instagram blog it’s safe to assume the new feature will make its way to Canada soon.

This feature is similar to the ‘unfollow’ feature on Facebook that essentially works in the exact same way.

Source: Instagram

The post Instagram is letting users mute specific profiles on their timeline appeared first on MobileSyrup.

22 May 19:04

Microsoft’s social AI makes phone calls too, just to say hi

by Jonathan Lamont
Microsoft logo

Microsoft showed off its own phone calling social AI at an event in London, England today.

The company has been testing the social AI in China. The bot, named Xiaoice (pronounced “SHAO-ICE”), has 500 million ‘friends’ and over 16 channels of communicating with Chinese users, like WeChat and other messaging services.

Most of Xiaoice’s interactions have been through text, but Microsoft has begun allowing the bot to call people on their phones. Unlike Google’s Duplex, which makes calls on your behalf, Xiaoice has a conversation with you.

“One of the things we started doing earlier this year is having full duplex conversations,” said CEO Satya Nadella. “So now Xiaoice can be conversing with you in WeChat and stop and call you. Then you can just talk to it using voice.” In this case, the term ‘full duplex’ refers to a conversation where both participants can speak at the same time. It’s not a reference to Google’s Duplex. Google named the product after the jargon.

The bot has made over a million calls so far. Xiaoice can even predict what users will say next and respond quickly. In the video demo, the AI interrupts the user mid-sentence to alert them that there are strong winds and they should close the window before bed.

Xiaoice has become quite the celebrity in China. According to Nadella, the social AI has its own TV show, writes poetry and more. Xiaoice, which means “little Bing,” has even convinced some users that its a friend or human being.

It’s surprising that Microsoft hasn’t demonstrated the same capabilities in its Cortana digital assistant. However, the company’s last English-language bot experiment ended in disaster. Tay, a Twitter bot described as an experiment in ‘conversational understanding,’ was taught to be racist by users in less than 24 hours.

Despite the success of Xiaoice, the company could be hesitant to introduce another English-language bot.

For now, Xiaoice will remain limited to China, with many in the West blissfully unaware of the celebrity AI’s existence.

Source: The Verge

The post Microsoft’s social AI makes phone calls too, just to say hi appeared first on MobileSyrup.