Shared posts

19 Jan 22:49

Disruptive Change in Vancouver

by pricetags

Changing Vancouver just posted a particularly graphic example of possibly the worst transition from good to bad architectural and urban design in the city’s history.  It happened in the West End after the zoning changes of 1956.

Here’s a house in 1956, the year before it was redeveloped. The building that replaced it is an 80 unit rental building designed by Peter Kaffka, called Barracca Court when it was built in 1957. 

The home was the work of Parr and Fee, seemingly the architects to the upper middle class in the city who favoured that Queen Anne elegance in their wooden ‘mansions.’  And then, in the decade after the ’56 rezoning, it and hundreds of others would be bulldozed for the concrete towers, of which Kaffka was the architect of many – essentially simple concrete boxes with punched windows, surrounded by parking lots, a bit of grass and minimal landscaping.  Modernism used to justify the least design and the highest return.

The real mansions, of course, would be built in Shaughnessy, to where the rich fled from the West End after 1909, after which their homes would be transformed into boarding houses.

… by 1940 it was listed … as ‘rooms’, a role it retained until it was demolished.  … in 1956 it was known as The Pillars, split into 7 apartments.

Here, of course, is the irony.  The houses of the rich became the homes of the poor, providing critical accommodation during the Depression and War, after which the concrete highrises provided accommodation for the new class of service and corporate workers in the post-war boom.  Today, the West End is still home for lower-middle-class renters, despite the rising pressures of affordability.

That wouldn’t have happened if it had been declared a heritage neighbourhood, its original housing stock preserved and renovated, and its population kept to a fraction of the 40,000 it now accommodates.

19 Jan 22:47

Hacks or Value?

by Eric Karjaluoto

There are two common ways to look at marketing. One’s based on hacks. The other centers on value. I’ll describe each. (You’ll immediately know which you hold.)

The hacker approach is exciting. You automate your sales emails. You try to outsmart Google’s search algorithm. You make a video that might go viral. This mentality is seductive, as successful efforts have big pay-outs.

I love a hack as much as the next person. But, I find them impossible to replicate. My (few) successful hacks were lucky accidents. In every other instance, these attempts were time-consuming and resulted in nothing.

The value approach is slower. You talk to you customers. You build your website with accurate content and well structured metadata. You put client relationships over stunts. The value mentality is a commitment to service.

I’ve found success with the value mindset. In almost every instance, it’s led to repeat work, loyal customers, and more predictable cash flow. The only downside? It doesn’t feel like real marketing. This is because the value approach isn’t a game.

The value mindset represents a choice. It requires you to focus your energy on your customers. You learn who they are, and listen to what they need. You explain how your product/service can benefit them—and admit when it won’t. And (this is the important part): if they hire you, you keep the promises you made.

Like I said, the value mindset is slow. This means most marketers don’t have the patience for it. It demands that you practice the same habits every day. Often, it’ll feel like nothing’s changed. In time, though, you might find that your customers do all the marketing for you.

The post Hacks or Value? appeared first on Eric Karjaluoto.

19 Jan 22:47

Twitter Favorites: [benry] Dean Allen, R.I.P. — a huge loss. For me I used to work with Dean at Duthie Books. He taught me everything I learne…

Scott Baldwin @benry
Dean Allen, R.I.P. — a huge loss. For me I used to work with Dean at Duthie Books. He taught me everything I learne……
19 Jan 22:46

Have the Hip Hop BBQ

by Anil

I keep having to explain a principle I arrived at a few years ago when I realized the modern conservative movement is grounded almost entirely in a contrived sense of grievance, predicated on a false victimhood of its supporters. (That’s not to say some haven’t genuinely suffered some wrongs, but they consistently focus on imaginary ones instead.)

The clarifying moment for me in realizing how to deal with this was the stupidity of when right-wig media claimed Barack Obama was having a “hip hop barbecue” at the White House. Obviously, this met all of the signature tropes of such efforts: it was a lie, was a transparently racist dogwhistle, and featured absurdities demonstrating a profound cultural illiteracy — in this case, asserting that Common is a gangster rapper. Forsooth.

My conclusion then was simple: give them what they want. They’re going to accuse you of it anyway, at least do the right thing and give them a reason to pretend they’re victims. Eventually, Obama did have a Hip Hop BBQ of sorts, and it was glorious. What could the right wing media outlets do, except say “he’s at it again!” Who’s gonna pretend to get outraged twice?

Now, of course, there are limits. No matter how desperately the right may have craved Death Panels back then, we can’t give them the true version of that lie they created. But for the most part, if the fact-free media and its credulous supporters want to pretend they’re being wronged, we should follow improv rules and say, “Yes, and…” and be sure to double down.

If they said you had a Hip Hop BBQ, then you damn well ought to have one.

19 Jan 22:46

R.I.P Dean

by Matt

Dean Allen, a web pioneer and good man, has passed away. I've been processing the news for a few days and still don't know where to begin. Dean was a writer, who wrote the software he wrote on. His websites were crafted, designed, and typeset so well you would have visited them even if they were filled with Lorem Ipsum, and paired with his writing you were drawn into an impossibly rich world. His blog was called Textism, and among many other things it introduced me to the art of typography.

Later, he created Textpattern, without which WordPress wouldn't exist. Later, he created Textdrive with Jason Hoffman, without which WordPress wouldn't have found an early business model or had a home on the web. He brought a care and craft to everything he touched that inspires me to this day. As John Gruber said, "Dean strove for perfection and often achieved it." (Aside: Making typography better on the web led John Gruber to release Smarty Pants, Dean a tool called Textile, and myself something called Texturize all within a few months of each other; John continued his work and created Markdown, I put Texturize into WP, and Dean released Textile in Textpattern.)

Years later, we became friends and shared many trips, walks, drinks, and meals together, often with Hanni and Om. (When we overlapped in Vancouver he immediately texted "I'll show you some butt-kicking food and drink.") His zest for life was matched with an encyclopedic knowledge of culture and voracious reading (and later podcast listening) habits. I learned so much in our time together, a web inspiration who turned for me into a real-life mensch. He was endlessly generous with his time and counsel in design, prose, and fashion. I learned the impossibly clever sentences he wrote, that you assumed were the product of a small writing crew or at least a few revisions, came annoyingly easily to him, an extension of how he actually thought and wrote and the culmination of a lifetime of telling stories and connecting to the human psyche.

Dean, who (of course) was also a great photographer, didn't love having his own photo taken but would occasionally tolerate me when I pointed a camera at him and Om has a number of the photos on his post. There's one that haunts me: before getting BBQ we were at his friend's apartment in Vancouver, listening to Mingus and enjoying hand-crafted old fashioneds with antique bitters, and despite the rain we went on the roof to see the art that was visible from there. He obliged to a photo this time though and we took photos of each other individually in front of a sign that said "EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT." It wasn't, but it's what I imagine Dean would say right now if he could.

When we first met, in 2006, from Jason.
19 Jan 22:46

Reproducible Notebooks Help You Track Down Errors…

by Tony Hirst

A couple of days ago on the Spreadsheet Journalism blog, I came across a post on UK Immigration Raids:.

The post described a spreadsheet process for reshaping a a couple of wide format sheets in a spreadsheet into a single long format dataset to make the data easier to work with.

One of my New Year resolutions was to try to look out for opportunities to rework and compare spreadsheet vs. notebook data treatments, so here’s a Python pandas reworking of the example linked to above in a Jupyter notebook: .


You can run the notebook “live” using Binder/Binderhub:


Look in the notebooks folder for the UK Immigration Raids.ipynb notebook.

A few notes on the process:

  • there was no link to the original source data in the original post, although there was a link to a local copy of it;
  • the original post had a few useful cribs that I could use to cross check my working with, such as the number of incidents in Bristol;
  • the mention of dirty data made me put in a step to find mismatched data;
  • my original notebook working contained an error – which I left in the notebook to show how it might propagate through and how we might then try to figure out what the error was having detected it.

As an example, it could probably do with another iteration to demonstrate a more robust process with additional checks that transformations have been correctly applied to data along the way.

Anyway, that’s another of my New Year resolutions half implemented: *share your working, share your mistakes(.

19 Jan 22:46

The Hoaxist Year on Record

The Chinese hoaxsters had a busy year: look at how they made people say it was hot all around the...
19 Jan 22:46

Our iPhone X Review: The Smartphone of the Future

by Nick Guy
Our iPhone X Review: The Smartphone of the Future
Among Wirecutter staff, the iPhone X just may be the most controversial smartphone ever—but not for the reasons you might think. Most of us agree that it’s the best iPhone ever; many think it’s the best smartphone, period. If you can afford the higher price, the iPhone X is a fantastic phone. It feels like the first “new” iPhone since the original, while the iPhone 8 feels like the last “old” iPhone.
19 Jan 22:45

Twitter Favorites: [bmann] If you started following me recently because of my live tweeting of cooking, you should also follow…

Boris Mann @bmann
If you started following me recently because of my live tweeting of cooking, you should also follow……
19 Jan 22:45

Twitter Favorites: [Lesley_NOPE] This morning ALL of my TTC connections rolled up like clockwork and the elevator arrived on the dot for my medical appt. 🤩🤩🤩

Les Lesburlesquey @Lesley_NOPE
This morning ALL of my TTC connections rolled up like clockwork and the elevator arrived on the dot for my medical appt. 🤩🤩🤩
19 Jan 22:45

This week in references: echoes, breakbeats, the new sound of music

by russell davies

19 Jan 22:45

Peter Mayle gestorben

by Volker Weber

Die Tagesschau berichtet:

Der britische Autor Peter Mayle ist im Alter von 78 Jahren gestorben. Bekannt wurde der Schriftsteller vor allem durch seine Romane und Reisebeschreibungen über das Leben in der Provence.

Das ist ein großer Verlust. Die Scheffin liebt seine Bücher. Mit seinem ersten Werk kann man gut anfangen.
19 Jan 22:45

Stupid is who stupid does

by Volker Weber
In the year 2018, nobody expected human society would need an intervention to stop people from eating (drinking?) laundry detergent. And yet, actual thinking people are recording themselves consuming Tide Pods, which inspires others to follow suit on camera, begetting an endless cycle of Darwinian consequences. According to CNN, YouTube and Facebook have committed to taking down this content, proving so many critics of the internet right.

If this had happened just two years ago, the US might have elected its first female president.

More >

19 Jan 22:45

Using a Bike — Why and How Fast?

by Ken Ohrn

Results of a recent study from UBC asking 260 people about their bike trips — purpose and how fast (among other things).

It’s seems that the 2000+ bike trips were mostly for utilitarian reasons:  75% (school, errand, work).


Also, in the coming months we will share research reports and papers generated from this data on our website.

Dr. Alex Bigazzi
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Civil Engineering and School of Community and Regional Planning, The University of British Columbia

19 Jan 22:45

New (short) book from Microsoft: The Future Computed

by Volker Weber


It's a short read about AI and its role in society. Completely free, no registration required.

19 Jan 22:45

Using a Bike — Why and How Fast?

by Ken Ohrn
mkalus shared this story from Price Tags.

Results of a recent study from UBC asking 260 people about their bike trips — purpose and how fast (among other things).

It’s seems that the 2000+ bike trips were mostly for utilitarian reasons:  75% (school, errand, work).


Also, in the coming months we will share research reports and papers generated from this data on our website.

Dr. Alex Bigazzi
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Civil Engineering and School of Community and Regional Planning, The University of British Columbia

19 Jan 22:43

The Foundation Of World Unrest

by Stowe Boyd

Climate Change and Drought Spreading, and Large Regions May Become Uninhabitable

Long-term drought in many countries is leading to the destabilization of vast regions of the earth.

The World Resources Institute has identified 33 countries that face extreme water stress.

Ranking the World’s Most Water-Stressed Countries in 2040 | World Resources Institute | Andrew Maddocks, Robert Samuel Young, Paul Reig
Fourteen of the 33 likely most water stressed countries in 2040 are in the Middle East, including nine considered extremely highly stressed with a score of 5.0 out of 5.0: Bahrain, Kuwait, Palestine, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Lebanon. The region, already arguably the least water-secure in the world, draws heavily upon groundwater and desalinated sea water, and faces exceptional water-related challenges for the foreseeable future.
With regional violence and political turmoil commanding global attention, water may seem tangential. However, drought and water shortages in Syria likely contributed to the unrest that stoked the country’s 2011 civil war. Dwindling water resources and chronic mismanagement forced 1.5 million people, primarily farmers and herders, to lose their livelihoods and leave their land, move to urban areas, and magnify Syria’s general destabilization.
The problem extends to other countries. Water is a significant dimension of the decades-old conflict between Palestine and Israel. Saudi Arabia’s government said its people will depend entirely on grain imports by 2016, a change from decades of growing all they need, due to fear of water-resource depletion. The U.S. National Intelligence Council wrote that water problems will put key North African and Middle Eastern countries at greater risk of instability and state failure and distract them from foreign policy engagements with the U.S.

And the world’s largest economies aren’t protected:

While they will probably not face the extreme water stress blanketing the Middle East in 2040, global superpowers such as the United States, China and India face water risks of their own. High water stress in all three countries are projected to remain roughly constant through 2040. However, specific areas of each, such as the southwestern U.S. and China’s Ningxia province, could see water stress increase by up to 40 to 70 percent.

Can you imagine the wildfires in the southwest and California increasing by 50%? Will our local, regional, and federal governments take that as a starting point? Or are they simeply dreaming that things will ‘go back to normal’? The new normal is that there is no normal.

The recent flare-up of unrest in Iran is not just about the desire for a more relaxed society: it’s at the foundation all about water.

Warming, Water Crisis, Then Unrest: How Iran Fits an Alarming Pattern | Somini Sengupta

Iran is the latest example of a country where a water crisis, long in the making, has fed popular discontent. That is particularly true in small towns and cities in what is already one of the most parched regions of the world. Farms turned barren, lakes became dust bowls. Millions moved to provincial towns and cities, and joblessness led to mounting discontent among the young. Then came a crippling drought, lasting roughly 14 years.
Climate change is projected to make Iran hotter and drier. A former Iranian agriculture minister, Issa Kalantari, once famously said that water scarcity, if left unchecked, would make Iran so harsh that 50 million Iranians would leave the country altogether.

Iran, like many other countries, is pulling water from its aquifers more quickly than they can be replentished. And when there is less rain farming and industries that are most water-intensive increase the amount pumped up.

Sengupt points to Syria as cautionary tale:

For the leaders of water-stressed countries, the most sobering lesson comes from nearby Syria. Its drought, stretching from 2006 to 2009, prompted a mass migration from country to city and then unemployment among the young. Frustrations built up. And in 2011, street protests broke out, only to be crushed by the government of Bashar al-Assad. It piled on to long-simmering frustrations of Syrians under Mr. Assad’s authoritarian rule. A civil war erupted, reshaping the Middle East.

In the most extreme scenario, which is looking to be a near certainty based on global warming trends, large regions of the Earth — in particular the Persian Gulf region — become uninhabitable:

Study: Persian Gulf could experience deadly heat | MIT News
The study, published today in the journal Nature Climate Change, was carried out by Elfatih Eltahir, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at MIT, and Jeremy Pal PhD ’01 at Loyola Marymount University. They conclude that conditions in the Persian Gulf region, including its shallow water and intense sun, make it “a specific regional hotspot where climate change, in absence of significant mitigation, is likely to severely impact human habitability in the future.”
Running high-resolution versions of standard climate models, Eltahir and Pal found that many major cities in the region could exceed a tipping point for human survival, even in shaded and well-ventilated spaces. Eltahir says this threshold “has, as far as we know … never been reported for any location on Earth.”
This limit was almost reached this summer [2015], at the end of an extreme, weeklong heat wave in the region: On July 31, the wet-bulb temperature in Bandahr Mashrahr, Iran, hit 34.6 C — just a fraction below the threshold, for an hour or less.
But the severe danger to human health and life occurs when such temperatures are sustained for several hours, Eltahir says — which the models show would occur several times in a 30-year period toward the end of the century under the business-as-usual scenario used as a benchmark by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The Persian Gulf region is especially vulnerable, the researchers say, because of a combination of low elevations, clear sky, water body that increases heat absorption, and the shallowness of the Persian Gulf itself, which produces high water temperatures that lead to strong evaporation and very high humidity.

We can predict with near certainty that large scale heat-related die-offs will increase in the region, and this, and the unrelenting drought, will lead to a surge in climate refugees leaving their homes, and at first moving to cities. Then, these mass migrations combined with drought lead to economic disruptions and growing unrest. This was the case in all the Arab Spring uprisings and the civil war in Syria.

The world is unprepared for hundreds of millions of ecological refugees.

Meanwhile, the governing party in the US claims climate change is a hoax, we have relaxed CO2 standards, and we’ve dropped the corporate tax rate when we should be raising it. We should be raising business taxes worldwide to underwrite a war against the ecological collapse that has already commenced and threatens to destroy our world.

Brace yourself, because it’s going to get much worse, and it will be a thousand years before it gets better, even if we do everything possible. In the meantime, here’s the forecast:

The unrest in [fill in the blank from the dozens of affected countries] continues this week, as temperatures rise to extremely dangerous levels and the long-standing drought worsens. Migrants driven from their dust bowl towns and inhabitants of waterless cities are being stopped at the border of [adjoining coutries] demanding refugee status. But [adjoining coutries] say they cannot accept additional refugees given their own precarious situation.
In some locales, the border patrol and army units of [adjoining coutries] have reportedly fired into mobs of refugees when the migrants have stormed border crossings at [list of border towns in adjoining countries]. Reports are that thousands have been killed or injured, but this does not seem to slow the arrival of additional migrants.

Originally published at

19 Jan 22:43

Evergreen Diary #7: Syncing and Immediate and Deferrable Actions

There are, as I mentioned previously, two types of syncable actions: immediate and deferrable.

An immediate action is something like adding a feed: it requires that the server is reachable right now, so that the feed actually gets added.

A deferrable action is something like marking articles as read. The sooner the server knows, the better, sure — but it can wait if necessary. It can even wait for weeks or months.

I’ve decided to make it simple and categorize these actions like this: any structural action that affects the list of feeds and folders (or tags) is an immediate action, while any action that affects the status (read, starred) of articles is deferrable.

Or, in UI terms: if it’s something you do in the sidebar, it’s immediate; it it’s something you do in the timeline, it’s deferrable.

Most importantly: you can read articles while you’re offline.

Discarded alternate approach

You could argue that all actions should be deferrable. For instance, Evergreen could remember that you want to add a given feed, and add that add-feed action to the sync queue and wait for the server to become reachable again.

But doing so would add more chance for conflicts. Consider the case where the add-feed action got queued (on your day Mac) and then just sat there. Then, on your night Mac, you add the feed and it succeeds — then you decide you don’t like it after all, then delete it.

The next day, back on your day Mac, the add-feed call finally goes through, and then you have to delete it again. (And then you report an Evergreen syncing bug.)

There are other issues as well: do you add the feed locally? And read it? No, because this gets ambiguous quickly, as Evergreen’s article IDs won’t match the article IDs the server has assigned. Evergreen might not even have found the same feed URL the server found (in the case where you just gave it a website URL).

So we’ll stick with these two categories, immediate and deferrable.

To refine the definitions: a deferrable action is one where the state change can be reflected locally without risking serious conflicts or ambiguity.

Immediate actions

These will result in an immediate API call, and the result will be reflected in the UI. This is straightforward.

Deferrable actions

These actions will be stored in a database.

The simplest way to do this is probably a set of tables: articlesToMarkRead, articlesToMarkUnread, articlesToStar, articlesToUnstar. Each table would have one single column: articleID.

This layout is probably the most efficient way to add/delete articles.

This is not actually an ordered queue, but I think that’s okay. Most of the time all four tables will be empty.

When articles are marked read (for instance), then those articles will be added to articlesToMarkRead and deleted from articlesToMarkUnread. The system will then know that it has pending status changes to the send to the server.

Then, periodically, the app will attempt to contact the server. Most of the time this should happen within a minute or so.

Part of the idea is using this system to coalesce calls: the app shouldn’t call the server every time you select an article (which marks it read). Better to update the database and call the server very-soon-ish, but not necessarily this exact second, to allow for multiple articles to queue up.

The downside to this particular layout, which may make me change it, is that supporting additional status types means adding more tables. But the alternative is to add more columns to a single table, which is better but not necessarily that much better.

Another downside is that there’s no automatic guarantee that an article ID won’t exist in, say, both articlesToMarkRead and articlesToMarkUnread at the same time. But the answer here is simple, careful coding: a single bottleneck function that never adds to one without deleting from the other.

19 Jan 22:41

Twitter Favorites: [BenSpurr] The statistics for the King pilot the TTC presented today (right) are significantly different than those in the das…

Ben Spurr @BenSpurr
The statistics for the King pilot the TTC presented today (right) are significantly different than those in the das……
19 Jan 22:41

NewsBlur Blurblog: Internet Privacy Has You Scared Silly? Don't Just Stand There - Do Something!

sillygwailo shared this story from The Innovation Hubs.

With the turning of the New Year, and the miserable weather Toronto gets every January, you might be forgiven for keeping your head nestled firmly under the covers, hoping cold would pass and you could go on, oblivious to the miseries outside the window, and to those lurking inside our computers, too. 

Since last I wrote – which isn't really that long ago – we have witnessed the surfacing of data from an Imgur breach (of over a million usernames and passwords), an Ebay account leak that was thankfully patched within days (though still exposed sensitive details of user's purchase histories), and a California data analytics company that lost control of personal information for 120 million (yes, million. With an 'M') households. And then came the Spectre and Meltdown firestorm, which would make many users throw up their hands in disgust and despair. Many of you likely felt like this:

painting representing anger
(image, Anger, courtesy of liza23q on Deviant Art)

Why bother? Why even try, when huge companies employing millions of dollars of equipment and expertise cannot secure simple things like user names and passwords? In point of fact, popular tech 'blog' Gizmodo was in danger of wearing readers out with endless articles of 'who got hacked today'. So readers can be forgiven for wanting it all to simply go away. 

Much like a toothache or health problem that is ignored, it doesn't simply go away. It usually gets worse; in this case, as more and more of our lives are carried out online, as we access services, keep track of our commitments, and socialize near and far, our activities are logged, tracked, analysed, and sold. Routinely without our knowledge, or consent. 

What better time than the turning of the new year, to make a commitment to better online health? Start by securing your online accounts using strong passwords, and securing those passwords in a password manager. Check out the new (and fantastic) Security Planner for details, or sign up for a privacy class at your local library.

You can also hide your tracks online using a variety of tools, one of the best of which is the free Tor browser. Originally developed for military use, Tor is browser that bounces your signal through three voluntarily-hosted relays around the world, and wraps your communication in three layers of encryption to obscure it from anyone trying to look in on your activity. It remains one of the most powerful tools for internet anonymity available today.


And lucky for you, in celebration of Data Privacy Day, we are happy to host Tor developer Sukhbir Singh for a free workshop at Toronto Public Library. Mr Singh comes out of the University of Waterloo's Cryptography, Security, and Privacy (CrySP) group, and has been a software developer in the applications and community team of the Tor Project since 2012. He promises a hassle-free, no-question-left-unanswered, hand's on experience with Tor. 

So come on out, and learn just how easy it is to use the internet privately! Register in advance if you can, and bring your own devices to get the most out of it.

Start 2018 by telling the Internet giants that they will have to work a lot harder to get what they want from you. See you there.



19 Jan 22:41

Twitter Favorites: [Sean_YYZ] I Streetcar T.O.

Sean Marshall @Sean_YYZ
I Streetcar T.O.
19 Jan 22:41

Free Public Wi-Fi

by Ken Ohrn

Shaw and City of Vancouver have put in place around 550 free public Wi-Fi locations in the City of Vancouver, with more to come. Shaw’s PDF HERE.

Locations are clustered along commercial areas in the city.  Apparently, there is no cost to the city, and none to the public during use.

. . .  the Shaw offering also includes an additional 500 plus WiFi locations spread widely throughout the downtown core and surrounding areas, including the following highly-concentrated spaces:

• Broadway (Oak to Cambie)
• Commercial Drive (Venables to 1st Ave)
• Davie Street (Jervis to Burrard)
• Denman Street (from Davie to W. Georgia)
• Downtown Eastside
• Gastown
• Granville Street (from Drake to Cordova)
• Main Street (Broadway to E. 16th Ave)
• Robson Street (from Denman to Burrard)

It also includes 125 Mobi by Shaw Go bike station locations, of which 49 are currently enabled with #VanWiFi provided by Shaw.

Bandwidth speed will generally be 10 Mbps and there is no limit or cap on data
usage. No personal information is required to access the VanWiFi network.

To connect to VanWiFi:

  • Select the VanWiFi network name from your device’s Wi-Fi settings menu
  • Open your browser and you will be automatically re-directed to the WiFi terms and conditions page. Read and then click the button to accept the terms and conditions.
  • You will be re-directed to the VanWiFi home page ( and are then connected to the internet.
19 Jan 22:41

Twitter Favorites: [geerlingguy] Mollom is going away on April 2. DrupalCon is on April 9—if you don't have a plan for protecting your #Drupal site…

Jeff Geerling @geerlingguy
Mollom is going away on April 2. DrupalCon is on April 9—if you don't have a plan for protecting your #Drupal site……
19 Jan 22:40

Modern Retail in the Age of Amazon

by pricetags

Nordstroms, Friday afternoon.  What do you think, Guest, will hands-on sneaker construction pull them in?

19 Jan 22:40

Here’s what Google’s Fuchsia OS looks like on the Pixelbook

by Dean Daley

Google currently has two operating systems (OS) on the market — Chrome OS and Android — but the search giant is also unofficially working on a third unannounced OS called Fuchsia.

At the beginning of the year, Google added the Pixelbook as the official test device for its mysterious Fuchsia operating system. It took only three weeks before ArsTechnica was able to get the operating system up and running on a Pixelbook, Google’s recently released Chrome OS-powered laptop.


Taking a look at the lock screen, the time is placed front and centre, with an ‘X’ icon near the bottom right of the display. Tapping the X brings up shortcuts for ‘Wi-Fi,’ ‘Login’ and ‘Guest,’ but as of right now all of the links are broken. Moving past the lockscreen and onto the home screen, the time/date, Wi-Fi indicator and battery information are all found in the middle of the screen. Note that the card-based Armadillo user interface is still running on Fuchsia.

Below the Google Search bar and notification cards displays a contact’s a birthdays, how long it takes to get to a restaurant and Google Now-like cards. Tapping the Fuchsia logo at the top launches volume and brightness sliders, the airplane mode toggle, do not disturb and auto-rotate.


Apps or web pages opened appear at the top and users can move them around and open them up in split-screen mode.

Fuchsia is still its pre-alpha stages and many of the things seen will likely change.

ArsTechnica played with the unreleased OS last May and only was able to have it function on top of the Android OS. When the team showcased Fuchsia it worked more like an app than an actual operating system.

At the time it looked cool, it was completely card-based and had a multi-window system. However, it was mostly placeholder graphics and didn’t actually function.

Source: ArsTechnica

The post Here’s what Google’s Fuchsia OS looks like on the Pixelbook appeared first on MobileSyrup.

19 Jan 22:40

Canada is 7th most prepared country for self-driving vehicles: KPMG

by Dean Daley
Waymo self driving car

The 2018 KPMG Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index (AVRI) shows Canada is well on its way to being ready for a world full of self-driving vehicles.

The AVRI looked at the key factors required for a country to meet the challenges of self-driving vehicles, with Canada ranking seventh in terms of country readiness.

In terms of methodology, the study examines the progress and capacity for adapting to autonomous vehicle technology. The AVRI evaluates each country on four pillars that cover topics like policy and legislation and infrastructure and consumer acceptance.

Variables included within these pillars were, the availability of electric vehicle charging stations, autonomous vehicle (AV) technology research and development, and the population’s acceptance of the technology.

In terms of AVRI’s infrastructure pillar, the report found that Canada’s successful testing of the 5G network has positively impacted our score.

Meanwhile, the technology and innovation pillar Canada received the highest possible score, “for industry partnerships, […] research and development hubs and AV technology company headquarters.”

The country also received maximum marks on government-funded autonomous vehicle pilots, due to Ontario’s permits for allowing AV testing on public roads. Over the course of 2017, Ontario issued seven permits to companies including Uber, Continental, Magna and QNX — a Blackberry subsidiary.

“Southern Ontario has a perfect ecosystem to support AV research and testing,” says Gary Webster the national leader of infrastructure KPMG in Canada, in a press statement.

“It is the fourth largest exporter of vehicles in the world, with manufacturing facilities for GM, Fiat-Chrysler, Ford, Toyota, Honda and their supply chains. Its Waterloo-Toronto Innovation Corridor includes research universities and technology companies, convincing Uber and General Motors to move jobs there.”

Below are the top ten countries prepared for autonomous vehicles:

  1. Netherlands
  2. Singapore
  3. United States
  4. Sweden
  5. United Kingdom
  6. Germany
  7. Canada
  8. United Arab Emirates
  9. New Zealand
  10. South Korea

The report also finds that a country’s economic development correlates strongly with how prepared the nation is for autonomous vehicles.

Additionally, it notes that prepared countries are more willing to regulate and mange autonomous vehicle development, have excellent roads, a mobile network infrastructure and a private sector focused on investment and innovation.

Find the full report here.

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19 Jan 22:40

Instagram begins rolling out Giphy GIF search feature to stories

by Bradly Shankar
Instagram app on iPhone

Back in November, it was reported that Instagram was testing a number of features, including support for GIFs.

Now, a number of users are reporting that they are now able to use GIFs generated from Giphy in their Instagram stories.

So far, only users in Brazil, Indonesia, and the Philippines are reporting that they feature is live for them, with a small handful of GIFs currently supported.

Still, these sorts of features are usually rolled out to a small group of users before a larger audience receives them.

When reached out to for comment by The Verge, Instagram merely responded with “We’re always testing ways to improve the Instagram experience.”

Earlier this week, it was also revealed that Instagram rolled out a new feature that lets people see when other users were last online.

Via: The Verge

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19 Jan 22:40

Break into the Cryptocurrency Game with this Training—Now half-off

by MobileSyrup

You’ve likely heard of Bitcoin and the booming success it has had now that its value has surged past the $10,000 mark. While many of us missed out on investing in Bitcoin while it was still cheap, there exist other opportunities for making a profit in the cryptocurrency game.

Boasting a $50 billion market cap, Ethereum is expected to be the next Bitcoin, and its value is increasing regularly. The Complete Ethereum (Cryptocurrency) Guide can walk you through turning a profit with it, and it’s on sale for only $12 CAD [$10 USD].

Across 9 lectures, this collection will teach you the essentials behind trading Ethereum. You’ll discover how to make an Ethereum wallet, earn Ethereum via Fosethub, and more. Plus, you’ll have access to your training 24/7, so you can always refer back to it once you’re trading.

Now, you can get the Complete Ethereum (Cryptocurrency) Guide on sale for $12 CAD [$10 USD], saving half-off the usual price.

The post Break into the Cryptocurrency Game with this Training—Now half-off appeared first on MobileSyrup.

19 Jan 22:39

Apple’s redesigned desktop App Store takes a page from iOS 11

by Igor Bonifacic

Apple has launched a new redesign of the App Store’s desktop interface.

Taking a page from its iOS 11 counterpart, the App Store on desktop now features a more modern design in-align with Apple’s other platforms.

Each App Store page now features a “This app is only available on the App Store for iOS devices” disclaimer, followed by screenshots of the app (across whatever number of Apple devices it’s available on), a short description, update information, customer reviews and a section that includes more general information.

In addition, some developers have started to display screenshots of their apps in action taken with the iPhone X.

As 9to5Mac notes, the redesign comes following Apple’s decision to remove the App Store from the iTunes desktop app.

What do you think of the new interface? Let us know in the comment section.

Via: 9to5Mac

The post Apple’s redesigned desktop App Store takes a page from iOS 11 appeared first on MobileSyrup.

19 Jan 22:39

Build a Better Homepage

by Eric Karjaluoto

Source image Manolo Chrétien.

When you redesign your website, the homepage seems like a blank canvas. It’s your company’s “Hello, World!” and you can put anything on it.

Everybody wants to make a mark on that homepage. Sales wants product placement. Marketing wants social integrations. The content team wants to share stories. The brand manager wants to reinforce core messages. HR wants a Careers link. Operations wants to show hours and rates. And this list goes on…

When everyone has their way with that canvas, you end up with a cluttered painting. This means viewers won’t know where to look, or what to do. They’ll only find a mess.

If you fail to define the outcome, you fail

I shouldn’t compare a homepage to a canvas. It’s a bad analogy. A stop sign is a better comparison. A stop sign is singular. It does not provide options or ambiguity. It tells viewers to do one thing. Could you put more information on a stop sign? Sure. But you don’t—because that’d confuse viewers.

You might say, “Hey—our customers aren’t stupid. They’ll read through the options and find what they need.” —and I’d say you’re wrong. Most visitors will bounce from your website. Those who remain will read only 20% of the words on your page. As such, visitors will miss inexplicit calls-to-action. This shouldn’t surprise you. Users are drowning in messages, so, they learn to avoid them.

If you aren’t smart enough to show visitors what to do… If you can’t make that action clear… you will lose those visitors. As they look at your homepage others seek to pry them away. Emails, text messages, and phone calls interrupt them. Other browser tabs beg for their attention. Ambiguity on your part results in confusion. Once something shiny crosses their field of vision, they’re gone.

Big organizations often suffer from cluttered websites—because everybody wants their bit of homepage real estate. Expedia’s website shows a lot of options—that overwhelm the viewer.

Close the door, cover the windows, and answer one question

Want to build a homepage that works? Bring your colleagues together in a room with no distractions. Hide any website comps; you will not look at these. You will not talk about what the website could do. You will not look at your competitors’ websites. You will not talk about feelings, aesthetics, or technologies.

Instead, you ask one question: What do we want people to do, when they visit this page? There are many suitable responses. For example: “We want them to subscribe to our newsletter.” Or, “we want them to ask for more information.” Or, “we want them to donate to our cause.” What you want your visitor to do doesn’t concern me. What does, is that you define the action you want them to take.

That’s it. The first step in building a homepage that works, is in defining what you want it to accomplish. Until you do, you have no right to talk about how that page looks. Nor do you have the right to to ask whether you should add a carousel (you shouldn’t). Nor do you have the right to contemplate which social media widgets to include. None of these points matter until you define what you want visitors to do on your homepage.

This approach is efficient. It cuts through all the bullshit surrounding a website redesign. It casts aside questions of style and personal preference. It prevents department heads from getting sucked into a turf war. Defining the purpose of your homepage focuses your efforts. When you do this, you’ll realize that you can do the same elsewhere.


The one job of the Airbnb homepage is to get visitors to search their inventory. Sure, there’s other stuff beneath, but that’s secondary.

Treat every web page like it has one job

Create a list of every page in your website and identify the single thing you need each page to do. This might seem tedious, but it’s a valuable exercise. If you do it, your website will be better. It will be clear. It will direct the visitor. It will be free of unneeded content. And it will outperform your competitors’ websites.

Also, by identifying what you want visitors to do, you can start to measure such behavior. When there are 10 random elements on a homepage, it’s hard to know what’s working. Focusing on one desired action makes it easier to measure—and optimize for.

“Wait a second, Eric. Does this mean I can’t put anything else on my homepage?” Oh shit, no. Of course you can put other stuff on your webpages. But, those items shouldn’t conflict with the primary purpose of the page. You can avoid such conflicts by making secondary items smaller and less conspicuous. (Also, avoid adding more elements than necessary.)

In life, those who attempt to do everything achieve little. But, those who do one thing well often outperform the rest. The same principle holds for your homepage—and every other marketing tool you create.

The post Build a Better Homepage appeared first on Eric Karjaluoto.