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03 Mar 14:03

Announcing MongoDB 3.0 and Bug Hunt Winners

Today MongoDB 3.0 is generally available; you can download now.

Our community was critical to ensuring the quality of the release. Thank you to everyone who participated in our 3.0 Bug Hunt. From the submissions, we’ve selected winners based on the user impact and severity of the bugs found.

First Prize

Mark Callaghan, Member of Technical Staff, Facebook
During the 3.0 release cycle, Mark submitted 10 bug reports and collaborated closely with the MongoDB engineering team to debug the issues he uncovered. As a first place winner, Mark will receive a free pass to MongoDB World in New York City on June 1-2, including a front row seat to the keynote sessions. Mark was also eligible to receive a $1,000 Amazon gift card but opted to donate the award to a charity. We are donating $1,000 to in his name.

Honorable Mentions

Nick Judson, Conevity
Nick submitted SERVER-17299, uncovering excessive memory allocation on Windows when using “snappy” compression in WiredTiger.

Koshelyaev Konstantin, RTEC
Koshelyaev submitted SERVER-16664, which uncovered a memory overflow in WiredTiger when using “zlib” compression.

Tim Callaghan, Crunchtime!
In submitting SERVER-16867, Tim found an uncaught WriteConflict exception affecting replicated writes during insert-heavy workloads.

Nathan Arthur, PreEmptive Solutions
Nathan submitted SERVER-16724, which found an issue with how collection metadata is persisted.

Thijs Cadier, AppSignal
Thijs submitted SERVER-16197, which revealed a bug in the build system interaction with the new MongoDB tools.

Nick, Koshelyaev, Tim, Nathan, and Thijs will also receive tickets to MongoDB World in New York City on June 1-2 (with reserved front-row seat for keynote sessions), $250 Amazon Gift Cards, and MongoDB t-shirts.

Congratulations to the winners and thanks to everyone who downloaded, tested and gave feedback on the release candidates.

To learn more about MongoDB 3.0:

04 Mar 03:29

Designing for Humans

by Federico Viticci

The last hundred years or so have brought us a very, very long way. From the invention of the telephone and the automobile to telephones you can use to… order an automobile, technology has empowered and enabled not just gadgets and toys, but massive changes in the way we design, create, and produce objects of every size and shape.

And there are roughly seven billion people on this planet right now. So… who is all this stuff for?

The latest video in Dave Wiskus' excellent Better Elevation series reflects on designing experiences for more diverse audiences. This is an important message for any type of designer, and one that I should follow more often for the accessibility of MacStories.

∞ Read this on MacStories

04 Mar 06:19

via Blogspot:The Fitzjohn Coach Company was based in Muskegon,...

by illustratedvancouver

via Blogspot:

The Fitzjohn Coach Company was based in Muskegon, Michigan, and had a subsidiary in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. It sold 40-passenger Super Duraliners to Mexico until 1956, many built to an unusual rear-entrance/exit configuration. The company ceased in 1958. more here

04 Mar 05:35


Marcus Zarra on The Dangers of Misinformation:

To this day, there will be at least one conference a year where someone will walk up to me and say, “So about that blog post that Brent wrote…”

I bet they say “Brett,” actually. They think it was Brett Terpstra. :)

The response to that post continues to amaze me. I come right out and say, multiple times, that you should use Core Data. And yet it’s used as a thing about how Core Data sucks.

It doesn’t suck. Since writing that post I’ve shipped at least one app that used Core Data.

And: the problems I had with it five years ago aren’t particularly relevant now. Core Data has improved since then with new features that deal with some of the problems I had — and devices have gotten so very much faster since then.

04 Mar 06:20

MWC 15 – Day 2 – Different strokes

by windsorr

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Both MediaTek and Jolla raise eyebrows at MWC 2015.


  • It seems like MediaTek has been around for ages but it is a very different company now than it was even 12 months ago.
  • Most people think of it as the cheap and cheerful vendor of vast volumes of low end chips but things have evolved.
  • 12 months ago MediaTek launched its awareness campaign around “Everyday Genius” and since then it has built on that with the launch of “Helio”, a brand to compete against Snapdragon.
  • This message appears to be much more than just fluff as this MWC has seen MediaTek launch products that bring these marketing messages to life.
  • Furthermore, MediaTek’s strong presence in media devices has been put to good use by transferring technology into mobile.
  • The rapid autofocus, dynamic contrast for display visibility in very bright light, ultra slow-motion are good examples of technology that has come from the media side but translate into features that are differentiating in mobile.
  • This goes hand in hand with the launch of a range of chipsets that highlight the move into competing on performance not just on price.
  • The LTE modem is still missing but MediaTek is planning on having Cat 6 LTE sometime in H2 2015E.
  • These launches fit nicely into the strategy that is laid out but the real proof will come when it is seen how well these devices perform in the wild relative to their headline specifications.
  • The mobile chipset merchant market is no longer comprised of a technology leader and a cost leader but two companies that are competing hard against each other at most levels of the market.
  • This makes it increasingly difficult for others to fare well in this market and I suspect that exits and consolidation will continue.


  • The brave sailors of the Sailfish OS received a massive boost with the announcement that Intel will now also support the platform.
  • This combined with a nice update to the platform has propelled Jolla to be a talking point at the show.
  • I strongly suspect that a partnership with Intel will bring next to no commercial benefit but it hugely increases Jolla’s credibility.
  • The fact that Intel thinks that Sailfish is worthy of consideration will make it much easier for Jolla to get access to the large Chinese Internet players all of whom are trying to create their own ecosystems.
  • In this regard Jolla along with Ubuntu, Tizen and Firefox are the main options for anyone looking to create an ecosystem that excludes Google.
  • This appears to be exactly what the Chinese want and it also makes it possible for any handset vendor who makes GMS compliant devices outside of China to get involved.
  • Tizen is seen by many to be the child of Samsung and Firefox is very low end, leaving Sailfish and Ubuntu as the strongest contenders to be the basis of a Chinese ecosystem.
  • Furthermore, Jolla offers good compatibility with Android via its use of Myriad’s Alien emulator, and claims to have tweaked this such that the app performance has been vastly improved.
  • This means that the Android apps should run pretty well on Sailfish and meaningfully reduces the disadvantage that Jolla suffers by having no app store of its own.
  • With the device business now self-funded through crowd sourcing and $50m in the bank, Jolla has some resources to play with.
  • Jolla has survived the rough seas of the last 18 months and the future is looking better than it has for quite some time.
04 Mar 09:29

HTC’s lead designer explains why the One M9 looks like the One M8

by Rajesh Pandey
HTC retaining nearly the same design on the One M9 as its predecessor has disappointed quite a lot of potential buyers of the handset, especially when Samsung gave the Galaxy S6 a massive overhaul in terms of build quality. Now, in an interview with The Verge, HTC’s lead designer has explained the reason as to why the company did not go with a new design on the One M9.  Continue reading →
04 Mar 00:00

The troubling psychology behind how we decide who’s a scientific “expert” — and who isn’t


Chris Mooney, Washington Post, Mar 05, 2015

The trouble with experts, according to this article, is that they're unreliable (and our choice of who counts as an expert is unreliable as well). So we should let the wisdom of crowds prevail. Real scientific knowledge is emergent knowledge. "We should trust the scientific community as a whole but not necessarily any individual scientist. Individual scientists will have many biases, to be sure. But the community of scientists contains many voices, many different agendas, many different skill sets. The more diverse, the better."

[Link] [Comment]
04 Mar 10:12

Nokia’s iPad clone could be one of Android’s best tablets

by Daniel Bader

It’s difficult to be genuinely surprised by a facsimile — it is, by definition, unremarkable — but what is so fascinating about Nokia’s first Android tablet, the N1, is how surprisingly good it is.


Running a stock version of Android 5.0 Lollipop, the N1 looks and feels almost exactly what an iPad would look and feel like if it ran Android. And that’s a compliment. Nokia acknowledged this in my briefing with the company during Mobile World Congress, saying, “We think there is room for a premium Android tablet and that market is current unserved.”

Modelled on the iPad mini with Retina display, Nokia’s first post-Microsoft piece of hardware is built by Foxconn, the same company behind the real iPad, and feels nearly as premium. Its internals are moderately different, as it is optimized for Android — a 2.3Ghz quad-core 64-bit Intel Moorefield SoC, a high-2GB of RAM, and a high-speed PowerVR GPU, dual bottom-firing speakers, a 5,300mAh battery, and a high-resolution 7.9-inch 2048×1536 pixel display — but the intent is the same: to create a great Android tablet experience.


The interesting thing here is that, done well, a clone can be convincing — hence the name. Most iPad clones we’ve seen over the years have substituted metal for chrome-lacquered plastic, and high-quality components for the bottom of the barrel, but the N1 does not, and proves that there is a certain honesty in such a strategy.

The Lollipop UI is practically unblemished but for the addition of Nokia’s Z Launcher, a simple, gesture-based home screen replacement that feels spacious and natural on the larger tablet display. Nokia made Z Launcher available for free on the Play Store last year, but always intended to embed it on its own hardware.

What I took away from my brief time with the N1 is that, objectively, a 7.9-inch metal-framed tablet with a nice screen is just an objectively good experience; iOS has heretofore been the clincher, but stock Android 5.0.2 is a competent and sometimes superior substitute. With an increasing number of apps supporting larger screens, especially after the Nexus 9 introduced a high-quality 4:3 aspect ratio tablet to the Android world, the N1 could be a showcase for what Android tablets are capable of in 2015. That such a revelation is coming from Nokia — this Nokia — is even stranger.


There’s no word from Nokia about a North American release for the N1, but we’re holding out hope.

04 Mar 12:13

Samsung says next Galaxy Note edge could have dual curved edges

by Jane McEntegart

Samsung started experimenting with its curved “edge” display with the Note line last year. The company released a variation of the Note 4 with one curved edge and said that the product was a limited edition concept. Just a few months later, the company expanded this experimental feature to its flagship Galaxy S line. This time, though, the company put curved glass on both sides of the display.

Now it sounds like that change could make its way to the next Note edge. The Korea Herald cites Roh Tae-moon, executive vice president of Samsung’s product strategy team, as saying there’s a possibility that Samsung could bring the dual-edge display to the Galaxy Note.

This isn’t all that surprising. First impressions of the Galaxy S6 edge have been extremely positive. During his hands-on time with the devices, Daniel was impressed by the S6 edge’s “ subtle, seductive curved screen.” While he describes the more mainstream S6 as a “sight to behold,” the S6 edge feels like something brand new and Daniel says “holding the S6 edge is revelatory.”

What will be more interesting is if Samsung brings some of the design elements of the S6 to the Note. It seems unlikely, given the Galaxy Note is beautiful in its own right, but the metal and glass construction of the S6 edge certainly flows well with the curved edges.

04 Mar 12:23

Galaxy S5’s Lollipop update rolls out in Canada

by Killian Bell
While you may be itching to get your hands on the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge following Samsung’s Unpacked event earlier this week, the South Korean company’s new Lollipop update — which is now rolling out in Canada — will breathe new life into your Galaxy S5 in the meantime. Continue reading →
04 Mar 13:14

Launch Center Pro Coming to Apple Watch

by Federico Viticci

The cat is out of the bag… we’re working on an Apple Watch app for @LaunchCenterPro:

— David Barnard (@drbarnard) March 1, 2015

Launch Center Pro, my favorite utility to launch actions and apps on iOS, is coming to Apple Watch. As shown by Contrast's David Barnard, Launch Center Pro for the Watch will feature a list of actions with a simplified interface in line with Apple's guidelines for the new device.

I'm excited about the potential of bringing discrete automation to the wrist. And I'm curious to see how Contrast will slim down the experience to make sense on the Watch. The actions in the screenshot seem to be primarily web-based (likely powered by IFTTT) and they can work well with one-tap interactions and dictation, but I'm wondering if the more complex workflows of Launch Center Pro for iOS could have Watch counterparts as well.

∞ Read this on MacStories

04 Mar 09:51

#OpenBadges best friends to #ePortfolio practitioners best foes to ePortfolio platforms?

by Serge

Kate Coleman’s (@kateycoleman) has opened a discussion on “ePortfolios and OpenBadges – friends or foes?” (link). Here is my attempted response to her question.

Open Badges best friends to ePortfolio practitioners and best foes to ePortfolio platforms? Let’s face it: the ePortfolio platforms of today are not that different from those that existed 10 years ago and many ePortfolios do not use any dedicated ePortfolio platform. If ePortfolio platforms want to keep up with innovation they will have to do much better than adding a layer of Open Badges; they might want to reinvent themselves from Open Badges.

Open Badges will facilitate the building of rich, trustworthy ePortfolios. We will be able to create truly “open ePortfolios” — one should note that there is a significant difference between using an “open source” eportfolio system and creating “open eportfolios.” With Open Badges, ePortfolios won’t be simply “open” they will also be “distributed” and “shared” and it is these qualities that will contribute to making them “trustworthy.”

Eventually we could describe the difference between Open Badges and ePortfolios as the difference between identity as self-narrative (ePortfolios) and identity through others (Open Badges).

In a presentation I gave in 2009 on “ePortfolio, the engine for learning communities” I presented ePortfolios as “the threads of the social fabric constructing our identity.”

Due to the siloed nature of current ePortfolios, this didn’t happen. With Open Badges, things are slightly different: no more silos and many threads, the threads of Open Badges feeding our interwoven networks of trust.

If I had to revise the 2009 presentation, it would be:

Open Badges: the substance from which are made the threads of the social fabric constructing our identities

04 Mar 16:52

The Two-Hundred-Million-Dollar Coincidence

by pricetags

Keep in mind this number: a base amount of $200 million.  That (plus many millions more) measures three separate things – but together they say a lot about our perceptions and priorities.



$250 million


It is estimated the tax increase would raise $250 million per year to fund the mayors’ plan to spend $7.5 billion on regional transit improvements over the next 10 years.


* * * * * *


$240 million


That $240 million is a result of reduced costs and increased revenues to maintain current service levels and system investment.  Some trade-offs impacted customers and staff, such as reallocating services and reducing recovery times.


  • $90 million through cuts to administration and operating costs
  • more than $25 million in savings on goods and services
  • $45 million in revenue

* * * * * *


$230 million


During the budget briefing, Finance Minister De Jong confirmed there are no plans to bring in legislation to extend a tax rate increase from before the last election, delivering a tax reduction to the highest income-earners.


The first we vote on, the third is automatic, the second hardly anyone knows about, or dismisses.

04 Mar 13:55

[Members Only] How to Make and Use Bar Charts in R

by Nathan Yau

The chart type seems simple enough, but there sure are a lot of bad ones out there. Get yourself out of default mode.

Bar Charts in R

Continue reading →

04 Mar 15:01

Ohrn Image: Stone Tree Blossoms

by pricetags

Ohrn captured a shot of that extraordinary cherry that is so trunk-withered, it needs a stone for support.  A wonderful contrast with the blossoms.


Ohrn - Blossoms2


04 Mar 15:02

The Daily Durning: Defensive Architecture

by pricetags

From The Guardian:

From ubiquitous protrusions on window ledges to bus-shelter seats that pivot forward, from water sprinklers and loud muzak to hard tubular rests, from metal park benches with solid dividers to forests of pointed cement bollards under bridges, urban spaces are aggressively rejecting soft, human bodies.





“When you’re designed against, you know it,” says Ocean Howell, who teaches architectural history at the University of Oregon, speaking about anti-skateboarding designs. “Other people might not see it, but you will. The message is clear: you are not a member of the public, at least not of the public that is welcome here.” The same is true of all defensive architecture. The psychological effect is devastating….

Defensive architecture is revealing on a number of levels, because it is not the product of accident or thoughtlessness, but a thought process. It is a sort of unkindness that is considered, designed, approved, funded and made real with the explicit motive to exclude and harass. It reveals how corporate hygiene has overridden human considerations, especially in retail districts. It is a symptom of the clash of private and public, of necessity and property.


Spikes 2


Ironically, it doesn’t even achieve its basic goal of making us feel safer. There is no way of locking others out that doesn’t also lock us in. The narrower the arrow-slit, the larger outside dangers appear. Making our urban environment hostile breeds hardness and isolation. It makes life a little uglier for all of us.

Full story here.

04 Mar 14:51

Telling Your Community's Story

by Richard Millington

If you're running a community, you should be telling the story often.

You will tell it to employees in the business to justify why they should participate. You should tell is to prospective and current members. You should tell it to influencers and members of the press to get publicity. You should tell it to anyone that will listen.

...and it should be a story!

Almost every single community gets this wrong. They say who the community is for, what the community is/does, and even mention the features of the community. That's a sure-fire way to lose the recipient's interest. 

Tell the story of the community as a story. Think of the Pixar format here

  • Set the sense. Why does your community exist? What was wrong with the current status quo? 
  • Breach. What event/person caused the breach that creates the story? Who was the individual with their motivations?
  • The Struggle. Explain the early struggle and how your community overcame it. A couple of personal anecdotes go well. A good enemy also works well here. 
  • Explain the new, better, equilibrium and the community potential. How is life better for members now? What's next if everyone pulls together and participates? 

At the end of hearing your community's story, everyone should want to be part of it. 

Now put this in video or written format and published it on your website. It can replace the 'about' page. 

03 Mar 15:42

Microsoft’s multi-touchpoint machine starts to move

by Marek Pawlowski
Microsoft Windows 10 universal app platform architecture

Theoretically, of course, Microsoft should be well placed to embrace and lead the next generation of multi-touchpoint digital experiences. It has always had interests in a broad range of computing platforms, from its heartland of the PC to the Xbox games console.

However, time and again it has failed to capitalise on this breadth, struggling to find a unifying vision for these individual fiefdoms.

At last there are signs of change and they have become more frequent and significant since Satya Nadella took over as CEO.

Most recently, Microsoft’s Kevin Gallo published a blog post in which he explained how the Windows 10 universal app platform has been designed to facilitate multi-touchpoint experiences across phones, tablets, PCs, wearables, games consoles and more. At last, it feels as if Microsoft has both the technical capabilities and the understanding of user behaviour to make this happen at scale.

Here’s an extract of Gallo’s post:

Until now, mobile experiences have largely meant app and web experiences built for mobile devices – most often defined by the phone you carry with you.

But this is increasingly too narrow a definition for a growing number of customers who want theirexperiences to be mobile across ALL their devices and to use whatever device is most convenient or productive for the task at hand.

We see this preference for mobile experiences manifest itself most profoundly in what customers search for in the Store. Just a year ago, the experiences customers sought on Windows phones were different from tablet, which were different again from laptops and PCs, and different from the game console. This has changed – rapidly. Today, the top Store searches for each device type overlap significantly, both across and within app categories.

Building a platform that supports this new world ofmobile experiences requires not only supporting a number of screen sizes, but also providing flexibility in interaction models, whether it be touch, mouse & keyboard, a game controller or a pen. As a customer flows across their devices, they will often quickly transition from touch gestures (e.g. selecting a song or playlist, reading a news feed or document or viewing pictures from a trip) to keyboard & mouse for productivity (e.g. managing their playlist, writing a new blog post, or touching up that video or photo for sharing). To bridge the device gap (how many devices does a customerreally want to carry with them?), the industry is seeing the emerging trend of multi-modal devices, like the 2-in-1 Surface Pro 3. Within app experiences, an increasing number of apps handle this exact scenario – except developers are bridging this gap by building one or more mobile apps, a desktop application, and a website. We believe this can and should be easier.

With Windows 10, we are leading a new path forward for mobile experiences – breaking out of the limited box of just mobile devices and empowering customers take full advantage of all of the screens in their life. For Windows, these mobile experiences are powered by our one Windows core and the universal app platform.

The picture Gallo paints in his March 2015 blog post will, of course, be familiar to many in the MEX community. We’ve been exploring this notion of multi-touchpoint experiences unconstrained by individual devices for several years now (this blog contains an archive of all the MEX posts on this theme of multi-touchpoint UX).

Apple and Google have tended to be more forward thinking in bringing together the pieces needed to enable this vision in their ecosystems (I wrote an analysis of Apple’s Continuity initiative here). However, it would wrong to underestimate Microsoft’s ability to execute a rapid catch up. It has never lacked operational capabilities and it certainly doesn’t lack budget, but it has at times lacked an understanding of how user behaviour is changing.

What comes through in Gallo’s post is that Microsoft has started to acquire this understanding and refocus the disparate strands of its capability on a unified platform which will enable third parties to build and deploy experiences across touchpoints. None of the major digital ecosystems is fully formed yet in this regard – a strong offering from Microsoft, which makes it easier to deliver this vision on their platform – could represent their re-admission to a party they’ve largely missed.

Make no mistake – this is the future of digital experiences. While many remain focused on trying to ship smarter rectangles of glass and silicon, the next transformational changes to user experience will come from a different, multi-touchpoint approach. As Gallo hints in his blog post, providing an architecture to facilitate these experiences is complex and time consuming. A successful platform will need to handle diverse input methods, many forms of output – from touchscreens to voice and projection, and a huge variety of usage environments – from the living room to the great outdoors.

04 Mar 15:27

Winner: The Cat Box Contest

by pricetags

By a large margin – two-thirds of the 50 or so who voted:




It was submitted by ‘Downtown Charles’ – Charles Gauthier of the Downtown Vancouver BIA.  So I assume he’ll accept a Mink chocolate bar on behalf of Better Transit & Transportation.  Call, Charles, and we’ll go choose.

Interestingly, this was the only poster that did not have a mode of transportation (save feet) as the dominant image.  Confirming what Stephen Quinn said in his Globe column: “Show me why I should vote Yes for the transit tax.”

For the Yes side, this campaign, such as it is, has been all head and no heart. My head is sore from all the numbers, and my heart remains ice-cold.

Unfortunately, the Mayors’ Council campaign still hasn’t got the message.  Here’s an excerpt of the kind of thing they’ve been sending out:




No chocolate bar for them.

04 Mar 00:00

How Facebook Is Taking On "Dangerous" Speech


ReadWrite, Alicia Eler, Mar 05, 2015

Interesting article about Facebook's response to 'dangerous speech'. The article is situated with respect to "the Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu, who spent seven years in jail for inciting violence against Muslims and now advocates exiling them from Myanmar." The article lists five criteria for identifying "dangerous speech" (and therefore presumably for the banning of it or its utterers):

  • It takes place in a social or historical context ripe for violence, such as longstanding religious tensions or struggles to control valuable resources;
  • The audience has grievances or fears a speaker can exploit;
  • The speaker is highly influential or charismatic;
  • The speech is clearly understandable as a call to violence;
  • The speaker employs an influential medium— typically a radio or television station.

To me, the only criterion of any merit is the fourth: the speech is clearly understandable as a call to violence. The others are merely mechanisms for legitimizing dangerous speech emanating from more traditional agencies. I think teachers and educators should look at these criteria, and tackle the question of what counts as "dangerous speech", and what we should do about it, directly. P.S., why can't we have options like "'it’ s a rumor or has false information,' 'it promotes violence,' and 'it disturbs social harmony'?" Aren't these things dangerous in North America as well?

[Link] [Comment]
04 Mar 16:24

OnePlus One to be available in 16 new countries in the EU

by Rajesh Pandey
OnePlus today announced that its handset — the One — will soon be available in 16 new countries in Europe. The handset was already available in other regions of Europe since its initial launch last year. Continue reading →
23 Feb 08:26

Apple Investing €1.7 billion to Build Data Centers in Ireland and Denmark

by Graham Spencer
03 Mar 22:40

Huawei’s ‘Seeds for the Future’ program will bring 20 Canadian engineering students to China

by Jane McEntegart

Huawei has been talking about creating more jobs for Canadians since last year. The company already has a presence in Markham, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Ottawa, and Montreal, and job postings started appearing for a Kitchener location earlier this year. At Mobile World Congress, Huawei announced a different kind of opportunity for Canadians.

Hauwei took to the stage in Barcelona to launch a new “Seeds for the Future” program for Canadians. This program will see 20 third-year engineering students from Canada travel to China to visit Beijing and work at the company’s headquarters in Shenzhen.

The goal is to help develop Canadian ICT talent and promote a greater understanding of the telecommunications sector. Students will see demos of advanced technologies, visit Huawei’s labs, and interact with Huawei staff to gain a better understanding of how to be effective in a multicultural business environment.

“Today’s announcement reflects our continued commitment to Canada and to Canada’s flourishing ICT industry,” said Sean Yang, President of Huawei Canada. “It is our hope that this program will further strengthen the growing educational ties between Canada and China.”

The Seeds for the Future program will be open to Polytechnique Montréal, Carleton University, the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Waterloo, the University of British Columbia,the University of Ottawa, and the University of Toronto. Any student that would like to be considered must be a third year student of computer or systems engineering, or a related discipline. The application requires a 500-word essay, a demonstration of your academic acumen, an interest in telecoms, and an interest in Chinese culture. The closing date for applications is tomorrow, March 3rd, at 5pm EST. Click here to apply.

03 Mar 22:57

Trip report: Victoria

by Stephen Rees

It was my 66th birthday, and we decided to celebrate by taking a trip to Victoria. My partner had not been on a trip in a float plane. They do not fly at night, and anyway we had tickets for the Cultch on Friday night, so we left on Saturday morning in bright sunshine, with not a cloud in the sky.

Mount Baker from the floatplane

This was taken with my phone. A Canon A1400 PowerShot is a neat little point and shoot, but boy does it ever chew through its 2 AA batteries. I had spares in my bag, but that gets stowed at the back on a float plane, not under the seat.

Harbour Air Victoria terminal

Mostly we walked around Victoria, but we did take the bus out to the Belfry Theatre on Saturday night. The Transit app on my phone worked brilliantly, as long as we had access to wifi. Victoria does have free wifi on part of Government Street, but the quality is highly variable.

Scan 10

We noticed that BC Transit still uses paper transfers, and that buses do not have an on board display of the next stop: operators and other passengers were happy to help. We had to get a taxi back to our James Bay hotel, as the bus had stopped running by then. There is, apparently, no shortage of cabs in Victoria on a Saturday night. By the way, most passengers seemed to use passes, which they swiped through the reader on the top of the farebox. Cash fare is $2.50, no discount for seniors using cash, but equally nothing extra for the express bus all the way out to Swartz Bay.

BCT 9510

I used to work in Victoria for the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, which was then in the Jack Davis Building on Blanshard Street.

The Jack Davis Building

There is nothing on that building now to indicate who is using it. Across the street, where the Bay used to be is now a condo development, which has retained the frontage and has a public market on the ground floor which is something I strongly recommend you include if you visit.

Formerly The Bay now The Hudson

I am sure if we had been staying longer we would have used Farm Food To Go. What sets markets like this apart is that the people behind the counter actually welcome the opportunity to talk. There was, for instance, a man running a chocolate stall who was not so much a salesman as a  missionary. I still cannot understand why we did not actually buy any of his remarkable varieties of chocolate. Probably the “too many choices” problem.

Moon Under Water

There are plenty of microbreweries and brewpubs in Victoria – and many of the longer established ones have been shipping products to Vancouver for some time. Moon Under Water was new to me – and the bus driver. Unfortunately many breweries suffer due to our weird planning system – which treats them as industrial activities, and this puts them out of the way of the average visitor.


Spinnakers  has been established longer than anyone else, and will probably be where we choose to stay for the next trip – whenever that is. It has an unbeatable location – only a short Water Bus ride across the harbour for us, and a local told us of the phone number to call that gets you in touch with one of the skippers, who will get a boat to you to pick you up, if you cannot see one in the vicinity.

Victoria Harbour Ferry

By the way next week is Victoria Beer Week March 7 – 15  “Nine days, twenty two events, 43 breweries, infinite joy”

The trip back on Monday was intended to be more multi-modal than the way out, and a lot cheaper. Bus to Swartz Bay, walk on to the ferry than #620 to Bridgeport and on to the Canada Line to King Edward and the #25 home. It will infuriate the No vote trolls who now pester me, but the trip was easy, quick and uneventful. The double deckers on the BC Transit #70 up the Pat Bay Highway are really good British made Alexander Dennis buses, with an unparalleled forward view from the front seats on the top deck.

Douglas and Yates

They have been designed to maximize seating, so the legroom is only just acceptable for me, and would be an issue for anyone taller. The buses are timed to meet the sailings to Tsawwassen – as well as the hours in between. The schedules are co-ordinated. Similarly when we arrived back on the mainland, there were two newish articulated buses waiting to take people to Ladner, Richmond and beyond. The #620 benefits from bus priority measures so even though there was only one lane northbound through the Massey Tunnel we were not held up at all. Though that would not be true for those who drove. North of the tunnel the highway was nearly empty, and of course the bus turns off before the queue for the Oak Street Bridge – and again the bus lanes work really well.

Coastal Celebration

I did find myself acting as a transit guide, even though there was a Coast Mountain employee at the ferry terminal looking after the line up. I recognise, of course, that when you get to a certain age, retaining information can be a problem, so mostly I was just reassuring. Our bus was packed but as a senior I got a courtesy seat – and the bus behind was operating on the load and go principle that I have also seen used at Horseshoe Bay. I do like the quiet of the new hybrid artics, but the view from the inward facing bench seat leaves a lot to be desired. But we made the whole trip with 30 minutes left on our transfers. Which I think is impressive but is pretty much par for the course on that run.

You can get a good idea of the value of time from this trip. Of course fares on the float plane vary by day and time of day – and you could save a buck or so by taking the bus. This is cost per person for our trip including tax, fees and charges

Car2go home to harbour $4.36
Harbour Air to Victoria $176

Travel time door to door ~1 hour

Bus Victoria – Swartz Bay $2.50
Ferry to Tsawwassen $16.25
Transit to Home (3 zones) $5.50

Travel time ~4 hours

There is an option we did not take, which is Pacific Coach Lines, where the bus is loaded on to the ferry: downtown to downtown that costs $40 (not including the ferry) or $30.95 for BC Residents or Seniors both subject to GST. At the time we travelled this was only available for the 09:00, 11:00 and 17:00 sailings. That includes wifi on the bus.

I have to say that even when I was standing next to the computer desks I was unable to use the wifi on the ferry, but it was good in the terminals.

We stayed at the Oswego Hotel and got a deal booking a few days before departure with Hipmunk. Their wifi was the only issue: you have to keep logging in, and at one point we were not allowed on. I found myself talking to a Bell customer service rep rather than the front desk as they needed an IP address or MAC number for each device. Harrumph. It is quite a well located “boutique” hotel with a decent restaurant – but I am not sure how long that will continue. Over breakfast on Monday morning we overheard what sounded like an audit interview from a prospective chain. I have a nasty feeling that they are going to be swallowed by a franchise operation – which would be very sad. Currently it has a very nice individual feel: it would be shame if it swapped that for corporate blandness.

For three whole days I ignored both twitter and facebook and only went online for local information.  I needed a break from the the relentless campaign – which seems to have swallowed me whole even though I am not actually part of it. For one thing, the No side trolls are making life …. prickly. Take a look at what Gordon Price found about how the No side works. It is also worth taking a look at this Salon article about how three major US transit systems are failing   –

The great transit systems of the Eastern Seaboard are in crisis.

In New York, the Metropolitan Transit Authority is operating a subway system strained by record ridership and storm damage, where the increasing regular delays have been supplemented by a series of recent snafus that have stranded tens of thousands of New Yorkers. A meager capital funding plan is in limbo, threatening the progress of long-awaited projects like the Second Avenue Subway.

In Washington, ridership on Metrorail is down 11 percent since 2009. Mechanical failures smoked straphangers out of underground stations on three occasions… last weekend alone. In January, a third-rail malfunction near the National Mall caused a smoke-storm that killed one woman and sent 84 commuters to the hospital.

And in Boston, a record month of snow has spawned a transportation catastrophe with few modern equivalents. “It’s like a war, we’re taking this back station by station, line by line, switch by switch,” said T chief Beverly Scott. Some parts of the system were shut for days; replacement buses, when they ran at all, created block-long lines in the cold. The city’s tempo shifted into half-time.

These are, respectively, the largest, second-largest and fourth-largest rapid transit networks in the country. And despite their differences, they have a couple things in common. First, each of the three agencies shows a streak of incompetence that irritates and frightens commuters. Second, all three networks suffer from a worrisome lack of political and financial support.

As Boston’s recent debacle illustrates, it can be hard to sift the pebbles of internal mismanagement from the vast sands of disinvestment.

Some of that is extreme weather – but a lot is lack of investment. Which is not just confined to transit of course. It seems to be the hallmark of the Republican approach to government: cut or refuse to raise taxes, spend hugely on the military and prisons but ignore nearly everything else. Then look surprised when bridges start falling down. John Oliver does a good job of explaining what could well become our story too, if the No side wins. Listen to what the callers say when a gas tax increase is suggested. Sound familiar?

Filed under: personal thoughts Tagged: transit, Transportation
03 Mar 23:01

London. 42 years behind and counting. The revolution still hasn't started.

by David Hembrow
howfarahead("right"); Two years have now passed since London's cycling "czar" told the world that his city was 40 years behind Amsterdam. London's mayor, Boris Johnson, has now been in power for more time than it took to transform the entirety of the Netherlands for cycling, with no substantial progress occurring under his time in office. London's record on achieving press coverage is phenomenal.
04 Mar 00:08

GSM Association names iPhone 6 and LG G3 the best phones of the year

by Jane McEntegart

With all the new phones, apps, and services at MWC this year, the GSMA is taking a few minutes out of the show’s second day to honour all of the great mobile hardware and software we’ve seen since last year’s conference.

The Association has just released its full list of winners for its Global Mobile Awards 2015. This year’s awards included a couple of new categories, including ones for wearables, IoT, and accessibility and inclusion though, the top phone of the year will probably be the most hotly debated.

This year, GSMA actually named two phones under its “Best Smartphone” category. These were Apple’s iPhone 6 and LG’s G3. The first generation Moto E was named best Low-cost smartphone, which is no easy feat considering the steadily increasing competition in this segment right now.

Motorola snagged another award for wearables with its Moto 360. The company’s smartwatch was named Best Wearable Mobile Technology, which is hardly surprising given the positive response the 360 has received since it was first announced last spring. Rounding out the devices category was Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3, which claimed the “Best Tablet” award from Apple.

Though Bharti Airtel’s One Touch Internet was named “Best Mobile Service or App for Consumers,” the GSMA’s Judges’ Choice award for “Best Overall Mobile App” went to popular task automation service IFTTT.

Last year, the HTC One was named “Best Smartphone” while the Nokia Lumia 520 won “Best Low-cost Smartphone.” Apple’s iPad Air won in the tablet category while the Gear Fit from Samsung was honoured as best new device. CityMapper was picked by the judges as the best overall application.

03 Mar 16:50

San Francisco for Londoners

Below is what I’ve passed onto a few friends who have asked about getting around San Francisco. repeated here in the hope it may be useful.

The basics:

  • Get a clipper card
  • Wear sensible shoes, because it’s hilly as fuck. Also, because the floor is lava.
  • One Beer, One Dollar Tip.

Getting around and finding your way.

No-one uses street numbers, because the streets are ridiculously long, the numbers don’t match up on parallel streets, and everyone uses the address of the nearest cross-street. So you’ll hear “Folsom and 12th” and not “1582 Folsom”. Learn the cross street of your accomodation.

SF is mostly based on the grid system, with the notable exception of market (Dividing the centre into South of Market (soma) + North of Market), but many of the roads are so long that they curve.

It is very, very unlikely that you will go into sunset, presidio, noe valley, as the further you get away from market, the more suburban things get.


There are a fuck ton of hills. No matter which way you walk, you will be going uphill and downhill, and uphill again.

Traffic intersections work differently to the UK

  • Unsignalled crossroads work like zebra crossings. Cars will generally yield to pedestrians

  • Signalled crossroads work very differently, you get to cross when the traffic is going in the same direction as you, Crossings alternate between left-right traffic and north-south traffic. Cars can turn right through a red light, and not every crossroad has pedestrian signalling either.

You will eternally be confused by things being on the wrong side of the road.

Public transport.

If you plan to get on busses or trams, get a clipper card. It’s very similar to oyster.

There is MUNI and Bart. Bart is really only useful for getting to oakland and SFO airport, Muni is limited to SF.

MUNI is a $2 flat fare. You only have to touch in, not touch out. You have to step down to open the rear bus doors.

MUNI runs on its own idea of time. It will always be late. It will always be slow. It will often be smelly. The K and the T line are currently the same line.

Bus stops don’t always have signposts, signage, or timetables. Often bus stops are just poles with a small yellow strip indicating which routes stop there.

There is also the cable-cars, and the vintage F route if you want to travel on vintage trams and cars. If you want to go on the cable cars, get a day pass. Expect to queue for them (americans call this a line), and always try and stand on the edges - it’s way more fun.

Always look down before you sit down


Taxis have their roof light on when they are working, so you have no idea if you can hail them or not. There is a smaller, impossible to see light to know if you can hail them.

Taxis are cheap, and Uber/Lyft is ubiquitous. The ridesharing apps are usually much faster and quicker.

Food & Drink

US Coke tastes different. Mexican Coke tastes like it does in the UK.

SF is excellent for Pho, Burritos, but terrible for curry.

Get a burrito in the mission (between 14-24th). Preferably during the day.

Tip is normally between 15 and 20%. Tips is how people pay for healthcare, and to earn a living wage. Tip generously.

Beer, Bars, Dive Bars

There is no weights and measures act. Spirits are free-pour.

Pretty much every beer is hopped to fuck. Pints are smaller than in the UK, but craft beers generally are stronger on average between 6-12%. There is self-serve water at every bar. Use it. It is really, really, really easy to get drunk. It’s quite common to see people far more drunk than you would do in the UK.

The difference between a bar and a dive bar, is that you really don’t want to use the toilets in a dive bar. Some of the best bars, and usually all the dive bars are cash only.

Always Tip: Rule is one beer, one dollar. You will usually be given change with enough to tip, but having dollars spare will help.


Do yourself a favour, and get brunch with bottomless mimosas. Brunch is a religious thing in SF, and bars will pack out more on a saturday afternoon than a friday night.

Brunch is its own section because I have never encountered a place that takes brunch so seriously.


Cigarettes are cheap as fuck. No-one smokes rollups. You can’t smoke indoors. You must smoke outside, often by the kerb (or curb, as the americans call it), or at least 15 feet away from the exit. They are more anal about cigarette smoke than they are about weed.

Much of SF smells of weed, and people will happily try and sell you it on the street. Bear in mind, medicinal marijuana is state legal here, but not federal legal. It is still a crime, and unless you are carrying a medicinal card, you are taking a bit of a risk, especially as a foreigner.

The weed is incredibly strong, far stronger than it is in the UK and Europe. If you end up smoking in SF I guarantee you it will be too much. The same goes for brownies.

Gentrification, Poverty, and Crime.

If you’re not sure about an area, ask someone.

Like London, watch your stuff. Unlike London, SF is a bizzaro world of poverty and wealth. Imagine the compressing the inequalities of london down to a tiny city, and then ramp it up. You can walk one block along and everything changes. There are microclimates of wealth and poverty.

For example, Valencia is gentrified as fuck and the next block over, Mission, is slowly being gentrified, but still rough around mid-market, and between 16th and 24th. The latter is where the best burritos are. In six months this will have changed, so ask a local.

Similarly to London, poverty ridden areas tend to have higher crime rates. Tenderloin is where all the crack and meth generally are. You may encounter more dodgyness under the freeway, because it’s dry and sheltered from the occasional rainfall. There are countless people on the streets who are there because there isn’t really any healthcare or support for mental health issues. There is even an underclass of people who sort out the recycling and rubbish, and it’s common to see people collecting cans and bottles so they can redeem them for pennies.

The inequality will shock you and continue to shock you. Even if you’re used to London. People who have lived in SF for a while become numb to it, often taking the poverty as a point of pride for the city. “At least they won’t die out on the streets. Unlike other cities, we’re much less heavy handed about using police to clear them out of the city”. The californian liberalism is more of a passive agressive “fuck you, got mine”.

03 Mar 23:45

Moving out of Flatland (towards our 3D future)

(Note: Republishing this from a guest post over at TechCrunch )

If the past couple of years have been about one theme for me investment-wise, they have been about exploring the bridge between bits and atoms with a series of bets aimed to make a path between the digital world and the physical one we populate. And no, I am not talking about ordering a pizza from my smartphone or getting a maid-on-demand to come clean my house within an hour, but rather literally turning the bits on your screen into something you can touch, or conversely, the very room you are reading these words in into a digital model that you can inhabit.

I am referring to the worlds of 3D printing and virtual reality. Having made early investments in both the former (MakerBot, MarkForged) and the latter (Oculus VR), I am often asked when I decided that “hardware was hot” (short answer: it is not and will be one of the first investment categories decimated when the current cycle corrects). The question many fewer people have asked is: what connects 3D printers, virtual reality, augmented reality, and drones to a possible investment thesis and what might we expect to see emerging as important sub categories for investment over the next year?

Up until now, it’s been all tailwinds for the entrepreneurs and companies looking to make stuff happen in 3D. Recently though I’ve come to worry that the two tentpole categories (virtual reality and 3D printing) are about to enter the “trough of disillusionment” as known in the Gartner Hyper Cycle. This is an unfortunate but necessary period during which expectations for the new technology and the reality of what each can deliver today can cause people to doubt. What follows is one way we may get through this trough a little bit faster.

First, a little context. The reason this bi-directional bridge between bits and atoms matters is because of the large multiplier effect I believe this will have on getting back to solving the world’s big hairy problems with technology. Big as in energy, health, education, and infrastructure (the kind you drive cars on). As Neil Stephenson has written in the context of the decline of aspirational scifi, we’ve spent 20 years inventing, exploring, and wallowing in the Internet and, as history’s most democratic source of information and channel for human collaboration, I’m certainly not going to complain. But much like the flatlanders from the story Flatland, we’ve been stuck in a 2D world, with our collective imagination for what computers can do crippled by the obsession with the next app or newly emergent social phenomenon (excluding of course a couple of million mechanical engineers and high-end game designers who need our collective help given the magnitude of the problems they can now tackle).

Just two examples that make the point (though there are probably a dozen really compelling ones):

  • Education and MOOCs: we’ve put the power of a global network to democratize the classroom into effect by offering postage-sized resolution rectangles for instruction and ETS-like multiple choice questions for assessment. And yet we wonder why statistics courses are abandoned faster than Javascript frameworks on Github. How about using some of the 3D immersive capabilities provided by the Oculus SDK to simulate the power of probability in simulations or to model physical phenomena with calculus? The VR scape is being nibbled at from the edges by folks looking to develop immersive training experiences, but as I’ll argue below, we are far away from being able to move beyond the Youtube-ification of the classroom with today’s tools for the bulk of the most creative educators.

  • Mass customization: we are all unique snowflakes when it comes to the shape and size of our bodies and yet we live at the bottom of the industrial machine funnel for everything from the shoes on our feet to the prosthetics we use to see, hear, and move in the world. There have been good economic reasons for mass production but those economics are changing, and outside of truly bespoke prosthetics, we are only now scratching the surface of what is possible when you take distributed talent, insight, and experience and marry to it the means for low volume manufacturing.

While there are “success stories” for both these types of companies that grace the pages of our favorite techno-utopian blogs, looking beyond the headlines you see a recurring pattern: “Professor from XYZ university and team of slave grad students puts together a barely workable demo for more grant funding.” From this, the smell of the future does not emanate, even if William Gibson was correct in his claim that the future is here but just not widely distributed.

In order to move beyond demos, what this 3D world desperately needs is its Hypercard moment. And by that I mean a 3D authoring/simulation environment for the rest of us; one which ideally comes with about as steep a learning curve as Hypercard, and which treats both the bits and the atoms as two ends of the same continuum-- not two totally separate worlds.

Tinkercad is closest on the 3D printing side— a web-based CAD tool that almost anyone can master with a little patience but has been bumped around enough to be stripped of product vision beyond aping CAD in the browser (I do love how both of my children can use it expertly though, so it has been truly a force for good in CAD).

On the VR side, Unity and its associated ecosystem has done an admirable job of getting us out of the cycle counting “hardcore” age of performant game design. But this is only because of the starting point. It is hard for me to see the school teacher from Peoria with a better way to teach fractions sitting down to make a VR experience when he/she would need about a year’s worth of domain-specific knowledge to get there. If the Internet has taught us anything, it is that good ideas come from anyone and anywhere, so expecting the “experts” to give us the next Minecraft for the 3D world is unlikely to happen.

And while I am on Minecraft, let me end there. As far as 3D environments go, Minecraft is the LOGO (if not the Hypercard) of this generation. Through its simple model of crafting blocks, millions of kids (and adults) have recreated extremely complex real world environments. Minecrift was in fact one of the first Oculus demos I ran, and this MIT project showed great promise to going in the direction of the virtual-physical bridge mentioned above. Teachers have taught classes entirely on Minecraft -- both because it is easy to learn and incredibly powerful in terms of what it can express. And add the fact that its new owner has also announced a fairly impressive offering in VR/AR with Project Hololens and the possibilities become mind-bending.

Still, we can do more. What Hypercard did that was revolutionary was to engage not just gamers or musicians or even programmers, but all sorts of professionals, each of whom saw the elephant from a different vantage point. For some it was an everyday database, for others a powerful multimedia tool for storytelling. In much the same way, the 3D creation/modeling environments of tomorrow will not be just game engines or CAD tools, but software environments where we can ingest, modify, and output the very atoms needed to get after the big problems technology will solve over the next 20 years.

04 Mar 03:29

Samsung’s JK Shin explains lack of Snapdragon 810 chipset inside the Galaxy S6

by Rajesh Pandey
In a recent interview with The Korean Times, Samsung’s CEO J.K. Shin revealed the reason as to why the company’s latest flagships — the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge — don’t come with a Qualcomm processor.  Continue reading →
04 Mar 04:31


by Matt

It’s been a long road, but the WordPress mobile apps are finally making some major strides. WordPress iOS version 4.8 includes a visual editor so you won’t see code anymore when blogging on the go. (For anyone curious at home, WordPress originally shipped with WYSIWYG in version 2.0, and it was highly controversial at the time.)