The form factor of email is perfect for spam, and imperfect for everything else.
The form factor of email is perfect for spam, and imperfect for everything else.
Last month a cyclist died in an accident on Massachusetts Avenue in Boston. Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby thinks the solution is to get bikes off the road, but his editorial, “Urban Roads Aren’t Meant for Bicycles” is just a pile of non sequiturs and whining. Because logic and recommendations are missing from his piece, I’ll have to … Continue reading The Boston Globe’s Jeff Jacoby needs a bicycling lesson →
The post The Boston Globe’s Jeff Jacoby needs a bicycling lesson appeared first on without bullshit.
Thanks to all of you who responded to my post about seeking a publisher or self-publishing Writing Without Bullshit. I’ve made a decision, and many of you were very helpful in that choice. Justin McCullough asked me what my goal was. That’s the right question. My goal is to reach as many people as possible with … Continue reading My publishing path (and read my proposal) →
Yesterday evening we attended this free City program lecture by Larry Beasley and Jonathan Barnett. The large room was full and in his introduction Gordon Price said that bookings had filled up over the weekend after it had been posted late one Friday afternoon, something that had never before happened.
The event was video recorded and will be posted on the SFU City Programme site in due course. Here are two extracts from that notice
A couple of North America’s best urban designers have distilled two careers’ worth of knowledge into a new book:Ecodesign for Cities and Suburbs. The SFU City Program is pleased to host both Larry Beasley and Jonathan Barnett for a lecture that will explore the important themes from their book and their experience.
Come learn how cities can reshape themselves to limit global warming, re-energize suburban commercial corridors with bus rapid transit, reclaim wasteful transportation infrastructure for public amenities, and make cities more attractive for family living.
Specifically, Larry and Jonathan’s talk will cover the following:
- Solutions for a city’s environmental compatibility
- Diversifying movement choices
- Urban consumers’ aspirations for quality livability
- The pros and cons of community amenity contributions
About the Speakers
Jonathan Barnett is an emeritus professor of practice in city and regional planning, and former director of the Urban Design Program at the University of Pennsylvania. He has extensive experience as an urban design consultant as well as an educator, and he is the author of numerous books and articles on the theory and practice of city design. Along with his PennDesign colleagues Gary Hack and Stefan Al, he teaches an online course called Designing Cities, available on Coursera.
Larry Beasley is the “distinguished practice” professor of planning at the University of British Columbia School of Community and Regional Planning. Along with Ann McAfee, he was the long-serving co-director of planning in Vancouver during the transformative years for the core city. He now teaches and advises cities around the world through his consultant firm, Beasley and Associates. He has been recognized with an outstanding alumni award and an honorary doctorate degree from SFU. He is also a member of the Order of Canada.
The event was a book promotion but was sponsored by Concord Pacific. There were copies of the book for sale at the back of the room and most of the illustrations used in the presentation were taken from the book. I was somewhat surprised to hear that the two authors had not physically been together during the book’s writing. I was also expecting – given the title and indeed the predominance of the design community in the room – that the content would be mainly about design. The term “ecodesign” was apparently coined by Kim Yang an architect from Singapore applied to buildings. The authors stated that they were applying it to cities. There was almost no reference to design thereafter. Most of the talk from both presenters was about policy and implementation – and much of it concerned transportation. Very little of what I heard was either new or even very remarkable. Much of it would be very familiar to readers of this blog, and I feel that it would be pointless for me to type out the extensive handwritten notes I made during the presentation, which would be my normal mode of operation. As noted above for those who could not get in last night, they will be able to see a video in due course, which would be both more accurate and less coloured by my opinions.
I was also very surprised that both presenters read slabs of text from their book to top and tail their presentation, and while they did so the screen displayed what they were reading. Larry Beasley did not appear to have noticed too that there were slides to go with his opening introduction. Given that he is an educator, Jonathan Barrett’s presentation style was not exactly sparkling either.
In the section on mitigating the impact of climate change they concentrated on sea level rise – or rather the way that storm surges amplify that issue. They used New Orleans as one example. There is indeed a design issue here – as the US Army Corps of Engineers has now admitted. They also referred to the Thames Barrier in London, which was installed in the 1980s, long before sea level rise due to climate change was in the political cross hairs, but was said at the time to be a response to the south east of England slowly sinking. At least, as an employee of the Greater London Council at the time, that is what we in the Department of Planning and Transportation were told. It has apparently been raised far more often than was originally intended and will be inadequate by 2030.
I was also somewhat taken aback by a slide which showed a “regional solution” – which was not actually described in detail but shown on a map as red lines across the Juan de Fuca Strait and the outlet of the Salish Sea at Port Hardy. It was said that this would require international co-operation. Quite how the ports of Vancouver, Seattle and Tacoma would continue to operate was not revealed.
Larry Beasley’s section on how to get buy in from the suburbs was all about “experiential planning and urban design” by showing examples of what has worked in other places. By that he meant that people “spontaneously and of their own accord buy in to sustainable and more interesting practices” (as though the High Line had not been skillfully promoted for years). The book starts with examples and then tries to extrapolate common themes rather than starting from a theoretical construct. All the examples were familiar and a lot of them I have my own pictures to illustrate. Not Cheonggyecheon or Boston’s Big Dig, I’m afraid.
Promenade Plantee in Paris
Highline New York
False Creek North (Yaletown)
The big challenge will be the suburbs, and change there will of necessity be incremental simply because the area they cover is so large. Cars will continue to predominate travel for a long time even though traffic congestion is a symptom of “suburban dysfunction”. Growth boundaries are essential and work but behind them is business as usual. Tysons Corner VA was cited as a good example where an extension of the Washington Metro will facilitate TOD, but for others places Bus Rapid Transit was actually referred to as a “silver bullet”. But not a B Line as we know it.
I must admit I was a bit taken aback at this assertion. The 98 B Line was actually quite close to BRT standards on part of No 3 Road and might have been convertible to LRT had the province listened to what Richmond actually wanted. Within Vancouver, of course, the City’s Transportation engineers insisted that no bus priority of any kind was acceptable. And Linda Meinhardt ensured that parking along the curb lanes and access for her deliveries would never be compromised.
So the solution to our problems is – they said – adopting more generally the regulatory and management techniques pioneered by Ray Spaxman, the collaboration and public engagement as practised by Anne McAfee and regulatory reform which would expect rather less from Community Amenity Contributions than the current practice here.
I did not stay for the Questions and Answers. Sorry.
I am going to be travelling and will not be able to blog the following
The Urban Studies Program at Simon Fraser University is pleased to announce a pair of lectures from leading experts in urban transportation, who will be joining us this Fall. On September 22, Professor Jeffrey Kenworthy will reveal the challenges and opportunities of “Planning for Peak Car” and on October 28, Professor Robert Cervero will explain why “Mass Transit Needs Mass”.
These lectures are free of charge and open to the public, but they require advance reservation, and will fill up quickly.
Reservations can be made online at: www.sfu.ca/reserve.
Much of the conversation around gentrification essentially blames the people moving into urban neighborhoods. This feeling—that anyone who might be described as a gentrifier is doing something wrong—has even spilled into popular culture. …
But a comprehensive review of gentrification research by researchers at the University of California Berkeley and UCLA, published by the Federal Reserve of San Francisco, helps us better understand the real underlying drivers of gentrification. While the location choices of advantaged groups provide its immediate impetus, gentrification—and the actions of these very groups—is also shaped by large-scale government policies and public investments.
The largest, most important, and most obvious example is transit—subways, light-rail, buses, and other forms of urban mass transit—which the study dubs “transit-induced gentrification.” It is no secret that affluent people in large, dense, congested metros are drawn to transit hubs. Numerous studies have examined the clustering of advantaged groups and neighborhood transformation taking place along subway lines, cable cars, light rail stations, and along rail lines out to the older suburbs surrounding large cities. Reviewing a large body of research on the effect of rail transit on property values, the San Francisco Fed study does find evidence of a small to modest premium for properties located near rail stations.
My own research has found a connection between gentrification and transit within cities and across metros. And my University of Toronto colleague David Hulchanski has documented the clustering of affluent groups along Toronto’s main subway and cable car lines as the city has become increasingly divided between affluent areas along transit routes and in the core, and less advantaged areas, which are being pushed yet further to the periphery. Back in July, I wrote about a recent study of New York City, which found that, while more affluent groups have increasingly clustered around subway stops in both Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, the role of transit is bound up with other structural factors, contributing to an influx of more advantaged people into these areas.
The Fed study suggests that there are two reasons why transit is connected to gentrification. On the demand side, transit allows more privileged groups—especially in dense, congested cities and metros—to trade arduous car commutes for transit. By giving up their cars, these affluent residents can devote more money to housing, which drives up its cost in these accessible neighborhoods. On the supply side, investment in transit—especially substantial investment in new or refurbished transit lines—signals a large-scale commitment to neighborhood upgrading, which attracts more affluent new residents and also drives up property values. …
The reality is that the revitalization of our cities and the very structure of urban areas have long been shaped by massive public investments. These are choices made by local and federal officials, business interests, and other advantaged stakeholders who constitute the urban growth coalitions that have long shaped investment in cities. The location decisions of gentrifiers are shaped by this broader context.
Via Charles Marohn:
Last week Gracen Johnson introduced us to the idea of places-I-don’t-want-to-sit. The idea resonates; check out the hashtag #PlacesIDontWantToSit.
This week, Gracen released a beautiful video showing how to make places I DO want to sit: Making Places Where I Want to Sit by Gracen Johnson
A simple, incremental test to demonstrate a powerful idea.
Leaders ascend to their positions by mastering today’s (or even yesterday’s) business. Almost by definition, they don’t have first-hand experience with a disruptive shift in their market when they encounter it. A lack of intuition around the new and different can at best slow progress and at worst lead to serious strategic missteps.
What should a leader do? Dave Gledhill decided to learn to code.
Gledhill is Group Executive and Head of Group Technology & Operations at DBS Bank, a leading Asian bank with more than $300 billion of assets and a market capitalization of about $35 billion. Over the past few years, its CEO, Piyush Gupta, has been pushing an aggressive transformation agenda, with a specific focus on embracing digital technologies.
The smartphone is obviously an important emerging area for any bank going digital, and DBS has aggressively explored mobile-only banking offerings in markets like India. While Gledhill is a “fourth-generation” engineer with a degree in computing and electronics, his formal education was decades ago, well before the rise of smartphones and related apps.
“My coding days were 20 years ago, and none of this stuff existed then,” Gledhill said. “I was struggling to understand at a deep level what was happening inside the phone, which made it hard to function as a leader of technology.”
So Gledhill committed himself to develop an app. An evening event provided the inspiration. In Singapore, every car is required to have a reader with a smartcard that interacts with the city-state’s smart toll system and almost every parking garage. One time Gledhill found himself at an event where the host provided complimentary parking. Unfortunately, Gledhill forgot to remove his smartcard from his car, so the complimentary parking was rendered moot.
What if, Gledhill wondered, he could create an app that provided location-based alerts, which reminded you to do a certain thing only when you were in a certain location?
Scott D. Anthony is the managing partner of Innosight.
Too much overhead, too much VC and debt, and a failed bet on a low-cost research model.
the risk that inflation could get out of control — Alice Rivlin, Thoughts about monetary and fiscal policy in a post-inflation world (h/t…
I doubt much of the validity of Clayton’s pronouncements (just a recastingof the backwards-looking cherry picking of Michael Porter), but I…
Casey Newton, writing at The Verge:
Apple has launched a dedicated Twitter feed for gaming just days before the company is expected to reveal a new Apple TV that doubles as a gaming console. Apple confirmed the authenticity of the account to The Verge, which sent out its first tweet this morning. It included a GIF featuring some of the platform's most popular games, including Clash of Clans and Angry Birds.
Staffed by App Store Games Editors, the new @AppStoreGames Twitter account will feature various kinds of content, as Apple told The Verge:
The Twitter feed will feature more than just the usual picks for app of the week, the company said. App Store editors will run the feed, and plan to populate it with sneak previews of games, tips and tricks, and profiles of talented gamers. Editors will also interact with game developers on the feed, Apple said.
This is far from Apple's first foray into actively using social media, but in recent times they've become more sophisticated in the way they approach it, and the frequency to which they use it. Just a few short weeks ago Apple launched a Snapchat account for Apple Music, which has been incredibly well produced. Just looking at the first day of tweets from @AppStoreGames (a sample of which are embedded below) and it looks like this account is well worth a follow.
Tap. Tap. Hello, world. pic.twitter.com/zp9yT0PLpF
— App Store Games (@AppStoreGames) September 3, 2015
This is your new HQ for everything games, right from the App Store Games Editors. pic.twitter.com/yPwTtupyzK
— App Store Games (@AppStoreGames) September 3, 2015
If you’ve ever wondered why we pick the games we do, our reasons are coming up. pic.twitter.com/yKkQ4W3MwE
— App Store Games (@AppStoreGames) September 3, 2015
— App Store Games (@AppStoreGames) September 3, 2015
“I just know I’ve seen it before.”
You’re meeting Mike, who waits patiently while you mumble this. Browsing, navigating through files, searching. Something you were looking at just yesterday, something that would be useful… You remember telling yourself this is important, then getting sidetracked following up on the last in the list of emails you needed to exchange to set the time for the meeting, switching between checking your spam folder for misplaced messages and your calendar for available times, then a phone call… but that doesn’t help… you know you won’t find it. You briefly consider checking the browser on your laptop, but the thought of wading through two-dozen-plus spinning tabs as they load data you don’t need while trying to find something you can’t even describe precisely doesn’t sound like an inviting prospect. You give up.
The meeting moves on. You start to take some notes. Suddenly, a notification pops up but it goes away too quickly for you to see it. You don’t know what it is, so you load the app, disrupting the conversation and your note-taking. It’s a shipment tracking notification. You close the app and go back to your notes, now stuck at mid-sentence.
The flow of the conversation moves to a blog post Mike forwarded to you recently, but you can’t remember seeing it. You find the email, eventually, but after clicking on the link in the results page the window is blank and the page doesn’t finish loading. You wait five seconds. Ten. You give up, close the tab, and keep going.
Hours later, you are at home, reading through the news of the day, and you suddenly remember that blog post again. While it’s loading, you get an alert. Twin beeps. You glance at it. Meeting with Mike, 8 pm, it says. A second later, the phone beeps.
Meeting with Mike, 8 pm.
Two rooms away, you hear your tablet, beeping. You don’t need to go look at it. You know what it says.
Meeting with Mike, 8 pm.
It turns out that the time you set in the calendar entry when you originally created it was incorrect, the fixed one was a duplicate, and all your calendars are now happily notifying you of an upcoming meeting that actually happened hours ago. You dismiss the alert on your laptop, but this doesn’t do much for the alerts on your other devices.
In fact, an hour or so later, when you start using the tablet, the alert is still be there, even though it’s two hours after when the meeting should have happened. Now you’d like to finish reading what you had started earlier in the day, but the list of “cloud tabs” seems endless, and when you finally find what you want to read, you can’t remember exactly where you were in the article. You don’t want to read it all again, not now. You mark it to “read later” … and give up.
Oh, well. Maybe there’s something good on TV that you can watch on the phone.
Mathew Ingram has a post where he looks at the pros and cons of Twitter getting rid of the 140-character limit. I don't think there are any cons, they have to do it. Here's why.
Facebook is right. People don't click on links. It's not just true of mobile readers, it's true of all readers, everywhere, all the time. They. Don't. Click. Links. Memorize that.
Facebook wants to be in the news business. So does Apple. Probably a lot of other big tech companies. Will any of them have a 140-character limit? No need to answer that.
So there's Twitter with a package that can handle pictures, movies, vines, etc. But if you want to read a few paragraphs of text you have to click a link? If that limit lasts much longer it's an example of paralyzed management. Obviously there is no technical limit. If you can embed a video, you can include a few paragraphs.
The user experience would have to change a tiny bit. You'd see the first 200 characters or so, then a See More link, exactly like Facebook has. Or if they want to be a little more beautiful, they could put a triangular wedge there and allow it to expand and collapse with a nice animated effect. None of this is even slightly challenging to program.
Conclusion. They have to do it. What's amazing is that they've waited this long without doing it.
NetNewsWire 4 for Mac and iOS is shipping! Syncing is free.
It’s been a poorly-kept secret on my part that I was disappointed in how long this took — but shipping means everything is forgiven. :)
In an article about NetNewsWire 4, Dan Moren writes:
Of course, the real question is whether an RSS reader is still software that people get worked up about. With the demise of longtime RSS staple Google Reader and the incursion of social networks and alternative news reading apps like Flipboard, Nuzzel, and soon Apple News, an RSS reader seems decidedly last decade.
Is that the real question? I think it’s not. I think that, for some reason, many people think that that’s the real question when it comes to RSS readers.
There are plenty of software categories that are hot when they’re new, and then they settle down. RSS as a format remains huge (ask your local podcaster) — and RSS readers have become a type of productivity software that some people like and some people don’t. Simple as that.
I don’t mean to pick on Dan. Plenty of other writers write the same thing, which is why I bring this up.
By now, though, it should be clear that RSS readers are another one of those software categories that has quite a nice life after its hot period.
It’s official. I’m here at Mozilla for the indefinite future with a title of Head of Core Contributors, Participation. Basically, I’m responsible for enabling a team of volunteers and staff to grow the size and impact of our community of most-committed volunteer Mozillians.
As I considered this role, I asked myself: Why Mozilla? Of all of the places in the world that I can apply my energy and talents, why here? I wanted to share my answer (as of today).
The past 150 years has brought the greatest advances in freedom and opportunity in human history.
It has also brought (a) existential, complex global and local challenges, and (b) a centralizing of power. Centralized power cannot solve, and is often the cause of, these existential challenges.
The web is the single greatest (and maybe only) chance humanity has to address these challenges, because it can decentralize power and unleash the human ingenuity of millions of people.
But the web itself is being centralized and made less open. From locked-down content, to ring-fenced platforms, to the advertising/economics of the web, to technology stacks. The largest and most powerful organizations and governments in the world are eroding the openness of the web.
Mozilla is probably the world’s best chance to reverse this trend. We are the only organization in the world that is championing a vision of openness on the web, has the scale to achieve it, and as a mission-driven, not-for-profit doesn’t have its purpose corrupted by shareholders and profit motives.
At the same time, this is such a wildly ambitious organizational vision that only a movement of talented people working together — volunteer Mozillians and our allies — has a chance to see this vision become a reality.
What’s truly energizing about my role is that the Mozilla brand, user-base, financial resources and mythology is a platform to build a participation function that can scale to directly enabling millions to take actions aligned with their own passions and beliefs. This can be at the leading edge of what anyone has done before in organizing people globally and locally. And when we are successful, the web will be the platform we need to address humanity’s most pressing challenges.
Finally, to quote a great Canadian Marshall McLuhan, “the medium is the message”. The pattern of working that Mozilla is pioneering is transformative (or will be with the organizational changes that have been articulated in the vision of radical participation) — open, self-organizing and adaptive, creativity from the edges, distributed leadership and voice, each and every Mozillian accountable to each other and for the whole.
At a meta level, these are key to the broader global social justice changes I believe in. This pattern, and its impact on the millions of deep relationships we can build through participation, may be another of Mozilla’s enduring legacy and impact.
Logitech’s $40 K380 Multi-Device Bluetooth Keyboard is our new pick for best Bluetooth keyboard. It’s similar in design and function to the more expensive Easy-Switch Keyboard K810 and K811—same size, same slope, same ability to switch between three paired devices. Stay tuned for the full update. [The Best Bluetooth Keyboard]
In case you haven't seen this before, or are just beginning your career and an education consultant, here's a graphic represention of a couple dozen or so graphical representations of data. You too can feature the sandwich, universe or rollwer coaster in your slides.[Link] [Comment]
I saw Eric Normand's The Most Important Idea in Computer Science a few days ago and enjoyed it. I almost always enjoy watching a programmer have fun writing a little interpreter and then share that fun with others.
In class this week, my students and I spent a few minutes playing with T-diagrams to illustrate techniques for porting, bootstrapping, and optimizing compilers, and Normand's post came to mind. So I threw a little purple prose into my classroom comments.
All these examples of building compilers by feeding programs for new compilers into old compilers ultimately depend on a single big idea from the theory of computer science: that a certain kind of machine can simulate anything -- including itself. As a result, this certain kind of machine, the Turing machine, is the very definition of computability. But this big idea also means that, whatever problem we want to solve with information, we can solve it with a program. No additional hardware needed. We can emulate any hardware we might need, new or old, in software.
This is truly one of the most important ideas in computer science. But it's also an idea that changes how we approach problems in nearly every other discipline. Philosophically, it was a monumental achievement in humanity's ongoing quest to understand the universe and our place in it.
In this course, you will learn some of the intricacies of writing programs that simulate and translate other programs. At times, that will be a challenge. When you are deep in the trenches some night, trying to find an elusive error in your code, keep the big idea in mind. Perhaps it will comfort you.
Oh, and I am teaching my compilers course again after a two-year break. Yay!
Beamer, a favorite Mac app of the MacStories team, is today launching a public beta of their third major release. For those unfamiliar with the app, Beamer is a Mac app that enables you to easily stream video (in almost any format) to your Apple TV via AirPlay.
The tentpole new feature of Beamer 3 is that it can now stream videos to Google Chromecast. Beamer 3 also has a redesigned interface that looks better on OS X Yosemite and has improved functionality, making it easier to access key options such as audio tracks and subtitles. You can also skip to the next video in your Beamer queue by double clicking the play button the Apple Remote. Beamer's developer also plans to implement further improvements during the beta period.
The partitioning of the web into corporate empires continues. Apple is creating an iOS-only news application. Not to be outdone, Samsung is creating one of their own. And Facebook, as noted here before, already has their own. And let's not forget Twitter. This whole net neutrality thing is being, as the saying goes, rendered quaint. Via American Press Institute.[Link] [Comment]
Everybody works a little bit differently and there is no perfect recipe for us to follow. But people need good role models, and so I like articles like this, which point to outstanding examples of successful people and delve into their day-to-day habits, thoughts and feelings. In this article, Jane McGonigal points to the importance of pursuing non-work objectives in order to accomplish work objectives. "Completing a training run each day helps me feel productive and accomplished, even on days where I hit stumbling blocks or unexpected challenges with the work project." This is the same for me. A good cycling run (like yesterday's) makes me feel accomplished even when nothing of significance was otherwise achieved. “ The opposite of play isn’ t work. It’ s depression.”[Link] [Comment]
Back in 1999, scientists slowed light down to just 17 meters per second, and then two years later the same research group stopped light entirely — but only for a few fractions of a second. Earlier this year, the Georgia Institute of Technology stopped light for 16 seconds — and now, the University of Darmstadt has stopped light for a whole minute.
Last year I rather publicly deleted my LinkedIn profile and then, just before launching my consultancy business, hastily resurrected it. This was entirely for pragmatic reasons in the same way that I also using Google Apps for Work and continue to use Twitter despite their IPO-induced shenanigans.
However, since their acquisition of Lynda.com in April, I’ve actually been pretty impressed in (what seems like) the new direction LinkedIn are heading. Instead of being a glorified, shiny front end for a digital address book, they’re actually making life easier for professionals. I can honestly say it’s providing value for me that I don’t get elsewhere.
Take LinkedIn Pulse, for example. I was pretty unhappy when they pulled the previous iteration of this, as I found it a useful place to search on specific keywords. However, what they’ve replaced it with (‘up to speed in one news feed’) is a pretty decent blogging platform and discovery service. It allows you to serve up content specifically tailored for a particular audience in a place that they’re more likely to see it.
On my train journey home from London just now I wrote a post on LinkedIn entitled From Open Badges to learning pathways. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while it’s nothing earth-shatteringly new. But for those new to badges, or for those not from a learning/education/teaching background, it may be of help. Sometimes it’s explaining things that seem almost self-evident that can be most useful.
I’ll be curious to see how it goes down. LinkedIn Pulse seems like a useful tool to target a specific audience. But you needn’t worry about this blog: I certainly won’t be stopping my posts here anytime soon!
CC BY Sheila Scarborough