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29 Aug 07:00

The luxury of cycling

A few days ago a senator tweeted this:

This weekend I attended the Ride to Conquer Cancer and cheered along my wife and the other members of her team as they completed a 250km ride from Vancouver to Seattle. It was moving to see cancer survivors and people who've lost loved ones to cancer, doing their bit to help fight cancer.

And let me tell you, these days I treat my ability to ride a bike as a luxury. It's all too easy to get struck down by any number of diseases and be unable to ride. To get into an accident and get injured so you can't ride. To live in a place that doesn't make riding possible. To have a family situation that makes it hard to ride.

A couple of years ago my sister got really sick. When I said I was thinking of doing the Gran Fondo "you are so lucky, I wish I could do that". So I did. And this year is my second race.

Oh and I pretty much obey all the traffic laws, unlike all the asshole car drivers who cut down the bicycle routes in Vancouver.

30 Aug 02:53

Apple will reportedly release new Mac products in October at the earliest

by Rose Behar

Apple might debut new Mac products as early as October 2016 and is also planning to release stylus-enhancing iPad software updates in the near future, according to prolific Apple leaker Mark Gurman of Bloomberg.

Bloomberg’s expansive report, which shares information from unnamed sources that are “familiar with the matter,” contradicts recent rumours that new Macs will be released during Apple’s upcoming September 7th mobile unveiling event, instead pushing the expected release back by at least a month.

Anticipation for new Mac products is already high, considering the only Mac debut this year has been the less-than groundbreaking 12-inch MacBook.

The updated Mac line, states Bloomberg, will include “tweaked” MacBook Airs with multi-functional USB-C technology, iMacs with an option for new graphics chips from AMD and a thinner MacBook Pro with a flatter keyboard.

The Pro will also have an intriguing new feature, according to Gurman’s sources, which shows digital versions of function keys– generally relegated to physical buttons that run along the top of the keyboard– on the bottom of the computer’s display. The function options shown will change depending on application. For instance, the function for searching words and phrases is displayed front and center in the Safari browser, while functions for cutting clips and sliding volume is key in iMovie.

This feature will be a part of the Sierra macOS, which could be released as early as the end of September, say the sources.

In addition, Bloomberg details an iPad update that will reportedly give the Apple Pencil stylus more purpose by letting users annotate with the tool in many more applications, including Mail, Safari and iMessage. This update could take place in either an iOS10 upgrade in early 2017, or launch with the next version of iOS.

Bloomberg also briefly mentions that Apple is working on a standalone 5K monitor with LG, which would offer over seven times as many pixels as 1080p displays.

Related: Apple to unveil next iPhone on September 7

SourceBloomberg
30 Aug 04:41

History Walk of the Working/Wild Side of Vancouver’s East End - September 3rd and September 17th

by James Johnstone




This new East End Itinerary was developed recently as a photographer's Walking Tour of Strathcona. This route is a History Walk through what I call the Working/Wild Side of Vancouver’s East End.

The fascinating immigrant history and architectural charm of residential Strathcona, Vancouver’s old East End, have come to be appreciated by many through a diversity of tours escorted by civic historian John Atkin, the BC Jewish Museum & Archives, the Architectural Institute of BC, and the Vancouver Police Museum.

CVA 677-921 - Corner store 478 Union in 1972


On this tour I focus on the lesser known, but equally interesting and photogenic, southern and eastern peripheries of Strathcona, Kiwassa, 



Vancouver's East End in the 1890s. The bottom of the map is North and the top is South


and the old False Creek Flats. Highlights of the tour include a walk by the old Restmore Manufacturing Buildings, known today as the Artist Studios of 1000 Parker, the Cottonwood and Strathcona Community Gardens (once the sites of Vancouver’s city dump and home during the Great Depression of a sizeable hobo village), 


CVA Photo Re N8.2 Three unemployed men in the hobo jungles at the City Dump, September 1931

the birthplace of Venice Bakery, Malkin Avenue and Prior Street, the birthplace of character actor John Qualin, 



John Qualin from the Grapes of Wrath

and a walk down Union Street to see the home of Michael Bublé's maternal grandparents, the home of boxing legend Jimmy McLarnin, the Union Market (which started as a Chinese laundry and was once a bootlegging joint), the birthplace of BC Premier Dave Barrett, Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church, the apartments were music legend k.d. lang lived, the site of a short-lived pre-World War I era brothel, the site of the railway blockade by the Militant Mothers of Raymur, and the historic Admiral Seymour School.

Dates: September 3rd (Repeats September 17th)
Departs: 10am from the corner of Raymur Avenue and Malkin (near the Cottonwood community Gardens) and ends in front of 1000 Parker Street
Duration: Roughly 2.5 hours
Cost: $20


CVA 1376-238 - Admiral Seymour School class early 1900s

To reserve a space on this tour or ask any questions about my history walks, please contact me at
30 Aug 06:30

Social Tools, Social Business, And Cleaning Out The Garage

by Richard Millington

Which of these do you think will have the biggest impact upon collaboration:

1) Letting employees use social tools (slack, instant messaging, blogging) to communicate with one another instead of email?

2) Ensuring employees know where to find every document on a shared drive and keeping them updated?

Once outside of the social business bubble, it’s not even close. The biggest frustration isn’t that employees have to use email to speak with one another. The biggest frustration is losing time and opportunities searching for documents they can’t find.

The temptation will always be to gravitate towards adding a new exciting tool to the mix so people can communicate better. But going from email to slack isn’t going to have anywhere near as big an impact as figuring out the best way to tag, share, and store the documents you already have.

Of course, saying you’re going to go through your documents, figure out the best file structure, and train employees to save documents properly is about as exciting as cleaning out the garage. New shiny tools and becoming a social business is far more fun.

Email certainly isn’t the best tool to use for anything, but it’s probably not broken. Your shared drive however is probably a jungle of redundant information people have to wade through to find what they need. I’d fix that first.

30 Aug 10:30

How to Set Up Your Brand-New Windows PC

by Kimber Streams

So you just bought a brand-new Windows computer—now what? We’ll walk you through the setup process, from taking it out of the box to configuring your Windows settings, uninstalling the nasty bloatware that companies include, and installing your own apps. Spending a half hour to set up your computer properly, rather than diving straight in with the default settings and crapware, will make it run notably faster and keep your data more secure.

Let’s go—whip that laptop out of the box and plug it in!

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Set up and update Windows

The best way to ensure a bloatware-free computer is to reinstall Windows from scratch as soon as you get your new machine. Most people aren’t up for that task because it’s a complicated process and could cause driver issues,1 but if you’re comfortable going that route, follow these directions from How-To Geek.

windows setup initial screen

Click the photo for a larger version. Photo: Kimber Streams

When you turn on your computer for the first time, Windows walks you through the setup process. After you choose your country and time zone, agree to Microsoft’s legal terms, and connect to your Wi-Fi network, you’ll come to the screen pictured above. Be sure to choose the Customize settings link hidden at the bottom left instead of the Use Express settings button at the bottom right, or else Microsoft will rush you through the process and opt you in to everything—including things you probably don’t want.

Whenever I’m setting up a new Windows laptop to review, I switch all of the settings on the next few pages to Off because it’s a quick-and-dirty solution, but let’s go through each one.

windows setup personalization location

Click the photo for a larger version. Photo: Kimber Streams

We recommend switching all the Personalization and Location settings on the first page to Off to prevent your computer from sending your speech, typing, inking, and location data to Microsoft, which stores this information in the cloud. Speech and handwriting recognition may not work as well with these settings disabled, but that’s a worthwhile trade-off to protect your personal data, and you can re-enable these settings later if you find you need them.

windows setup connectivity error reporting

Click the photo for a larger version. Photo: Kimber Streams

The next page deals with how you connect to the Internet and tell Microsoft about errors. Definitely turn off those first three toggles—under no circumstances do you want to connect automatically to open hotspots or networks that your contacts share. Unless you’re using a virtual private network (VPN), connecting to unfamiliar open networks can leak all kinds of private information without your even knowing it. Whether to send error data to Microsoft is up to you; it isn’t a huge privacy issue, nor will it affect the way your computer works.

windows setup browser protection update

Click the photo for a larger version. Photo: Kimber Streams

The first two options under “Browser, protection, and update” matter only if you’re using Microsoft’s Edge browser, but we recommend leaving SmartScreen on, because everyone has to use Edge at least once (or more, if it reverts to being to your default browser after you finish setting up), and malware protection is always handy. We do recommend turning off page prediction if you don’t want your browsing data sent to Microsoft, though. We also recommend turning off the last toggle on this page; otherwise, Microsoft will use your Internet connection to share Windows updates with other people. (With this setting on, the company saves bandwidth by using yours to distribute updates.)

If you accidentally chose Use Express settings at the beginning, or if you’re trying to clean up a computer that’s already set up, follow these handy directions from How-To Geek to disable the above settings elsewhere in Windows 10.

Once you’ve set up your computer, the next step is to get the latest Windows updates—although your computer is new, things have likely changed since it went into the box. Click the Windows button in the bottom left to open the Start menu, and select Settings. Then click Update & security and Check for updates. While those are downloading and installing, you may want to go have a sandwich.

windows setup

Sandwiches are delicious. Enjoy one while your computer updates. Photo: Nick Guy

After those updates are complete and your computer has restarted a few million times, explore that Settings menu a bit more and customize the operating system to your liking. Don’t want to see ads on your lock screen? Turn that off under the Personalization tab. Hate Windows 10’s bleeps and bloops? (I sure do.) Follow these directions to shut them off. Tired of Microsoft telling you to “Get Office,” or an app spamming you with notifications? Follow these directions to stop those alerts.

If you want to learn how to do something we haven’t covered here—perhaps disabling certain apps from accessing your camera, turning off unneeded system apps that run in the background, or changing how fast your mouse cursor moves—we recommend a quick Google search including the words “how to [the task] Windows 10.” You can find a ton of helpful resources out there, and most of them will walk you through the process step-by-step with screenshots.

Remove crapware

Crapware and bloatware are what most people call the “free” apps that come preinstalled with your computer—you know, the ones you never asked for and will never use. As of mid-2016, the bloatware situation is nowhere near as bad as it used to be. Some laptops we tested in the past came with more than 30 preloaded, unwanted apps that took a great deal of time to uninstall. Now, most of the laptops we test ship with only a dozen or so unnecessary apps, and some Windows laptops—such as the Signature Editions sold directly in the Microsoft store—don’t come with any crapware.

If you’re not using them, you should lose them. These preinstalled apps take up valuable space and can make your computer slower to start up, slower to run, and less secure. We recommend using an app such as The PC Decrapifier or Should I Remove It, either of which can tell you what unfamiliar programs do and how many other people uninstalled them. These utilities provide a helpful guide for what to get rid of, but if either app doesn’t give you enough information or you’re still not sure about whether you should uninstall a particular program, we recommend doing a quick Google search to find out what the program in question does and if you’re likely to want to use it. If you already know what you’re looking for, you can use the Programs & Features menu in Windows to uninstall apps one at a time.

Here are a few general rules for dealing with bloatware:

  • If it’s a preloaded antivirus program such as Norton or McAfee, get rid of it. These preloaded options do not offer the best malware protection available. On top of that, they slow down your system and spam you with annoying pop-ups, and the free trials run out in 30 days anyway. Then they start bothering you for money.
  • If it’s a toolbar or browser extension, throw it away. A toolbar has never made anyone’s life better, and untrusted browser extensions can generate annoying pop-ups and collect your browsing data.
  • If Java came preinstalled on your computer, uninstall it. You probably don’t need it, and it’s a potential security hole. (If a program you use demands it, you can reinstall it later.)
  • If a program says “Microsoft,” “Windows,” or “driver” anywhere in the name, don’t remove it unless you are 300 percent sure you don’t need it.
  • If a program includes your laptop manufacturer’s name (Acer, Asus, etc.), proceed with caution. Some of those apps are crucial to keeping your laptop updated with the latest drivers and BIOS. Others are unnecessary apps that no one wants, like an extra word processor. The best way to find out which category a particular app falls into is by using The PC Decrapifier or Should I Remove It, plus some smart Googling to find out what exactly it does and how many other people got rid of it.
  • If you downloaded The PC Decrapifier, Should I Remove It, or a similar tool, don’t forget to uninstall it using the Windows Programs & Features menu after you’re finished purging.

Install useful software

Now for the fun part: installing the software you need to make your computer feel like home. You can visit websites and manually install each program you want—but if you take this route, be sure to keep a sharp eye out for checkboxes that install useless (and possibly unsafe) toolbars and other add-ons.

windows setup adobe flash player

Uncheck those boxes.

For a faster way to install useful, free software, we recommend starting with Ninite. Go to the website, check the boxes for the apps you need, and download your custom installer. The program will download and install all your programs for you, directly from the makers, without nasty toolbars, so you don’t have to worry about navigating seedy third-party websites with misleading DOWNLOAD HERE buttons. Any programs that aren’t part of the Ninite bundle—say, Photoshop or LastPass—you’ll have to download and install individually. After that, you’re all set!

Keep it going

The work isn’t over once you’ve finished setting up your computer. Keeping your computer secure requires constant vigilance. Make sure to stay on top of updates for your operating system, browsers, antivirus programs (if you use them), BIOS, drivers, and oft-used programs. It’s easy to avoid updates because restarting is inconvenient and change is scary, but many updates include important security fixes that keep your data safe.

Stay tuned for more upcoming guides to the best security practices for your computer, including advice on password managers, virus protection, and VPNs.

Footnotes:

1. Drivers are the pieces of software that make all the assorted hardware in your computer (the screen, the Wi-Fi component, the trackpad, and so on) work properly. If something goes wrong with your drivers, some parts of your computer won’t function as intended. Jump back.

30 Aug 15:00

Ohrn Image — Public Art

by Ken Ohrn

Tenth Avenue, just west of Main.  This ominous riff on public space, awareness and evil intent is the work of the prolific and witty iheartthestreetart.  It’s not the only Vancouver mural with some bite to it.

Target

“Follow for Follow”


30 Aug 16:04

The value of a commuter’s time

by michaelkluckner

keepcalm

An interesting article in the Globe and Mail on Saturday, describing the sale of space in HOV lanes to single-occupancy vehicles in congested Toronto. Having recently driven from Montreal to Toronto, and experienced the monster traffic on the outskirts of the city on the 401, it caught my interest, as did the recent post here about the congestion on Vancouver’s north shore routes.

[For the permits,] The price is $180 for the three months, which works out to about $2.75 per weekday, with the promise of drivers saving up to 10 minutes each way. If provincial projections hold true, this would mean motorists paying about $8.25 for each hour of driving they eliminate.

This is much less than the $20 to $30 per hour of a person’s time often used by transportation planners when trying to justify a new project. If the QEW permit seems like a bargain, there are around 3,500 applicants who might agree with you, a level of demand that suggests the price was set too low.

Indeed, an internal government projection shows that they could have charged $150 per month – equivalent to about $20 per hour of time saved – and still had more applicants than the available number of permits. Their assessment concluded that 1,800 to 2,400 people would apply for the pass at that higher rate, compared to a projected 2,500 to 3,300 applicants at $60 per month.

Commuters’ behaviour seems to get locked in very early, making it even more important to try to establish effective transit into expanding areas.

Commuting patterns can be difficult to break.

Researchers say that one of the few times it’s possible to convince people to change how they get to work is when they change jobs or change homes. Without those major shake-ups, commuters tend to remain creatures of habit.

Price also matters. For all that people grouse about traffic on Highway 401, which tens of thousands of Toronto-area drivers clog every day, the tolled alternative nearby remains notably less busy. And the price difference between two options sometimes doesn’t have to be much for commuters to stick with the congested one. Although the QEW permits are over-subscribed now, the demand may drop if people don’t really feel they have a meaningful amount more time for the money they’re spending.

“Free time, it just gets sucked up by other things, we don’t really even notice it,” said Ms. Whillans, the UBC social psychologist. “Can we make time feel more valuable by reminding people that they can do other, better things with it?”

In an ongoing study in Vancouver, she is looking at people who use two particular bridges. In a phone interview she explained that the Port Mann is tolled while the Pattullo is free to cross. But the Pattullo is under construction and drivers face 15-to-30-minute delays compared to the tolled bridge.

“Even among people who say that the Port Mann would save them time, they would still prefer, hypothetically, to take cash, the equivalent amount of cash, as opposed to taking the toll bridge,” she said. “People kind of underestimate the value of having those 30 extra minutes of free time. So they kind of think having $6, which is how much the toll is, will make them happier than having 30 better, non-stuck-in-traffic minutes.”


30 Aug 16:22

Pay Attention to Montreal

by Ken Ohrn

Occasional PT correspondent Michael Geller writes in the Courier about seven lessons Vancouver could learn from Montreal.

Good old bike stuff, attitudes towards motor vehicle operation, delicatessens, types of residential building, and several more.


30 Aug 00:00

The Next Great Platform is the One That We Already Have

files/images/Mobile_Hits.jpeg


Josh Elman, Medium, Aug 30, 2016


The argument here is that although the social and mobile landscapes look bleak, with companies like Facebook and Google dominating the space, we're poised to see a flourishing of new social applications based on mobile platforms. "It was all user-generated content. There was no massive wave of platform change, except to the extent that there were more people getting online." The current landscape, goes the argument, resembles the web landscape back in 2004 when web 2.0 was just getting started. "I think there is a lot of room to create new experiences and connect people. What are the kinds of experiences that aren’ t happening yet in mobile? What core needs do people have now that aren’ t being met by our current crop of mobile and social apps?"

[Link] [Comment]
30 Aug 00:00

Facebook’s new Lifestage app: What parents and educators need to know

files/images/Screen-Shot-2016-08-28-at-12.33.16-PM.png


ConnectSafely, Aug 30, 2016


Facebook is testing a new iOS app aimed exclusively at high school students. All postings are public and the audience cannot be limited. You verify your membership with a phone number and the app is tied to your phone. Content can only be entered and viewed via the app. Parents and teachers are not permitted access; it`s exclusively for high school students. It sounds a bit like Mark Zuckerberg's dream version of the internet.

[Link] [Comment]
30 Aug 00:00

Canada's ad industry cracking down on paid endorsements on social media

files/images/celebrity-endorsement-kylie-jenner.jpg


Peter Nowak, CBC News, Aug 30, 2016


Not that I expect any major change, but it would be interesting to see all education and technology pundits declare their sponsorships and affiliations. "The new rules, expected to be implemented by early 2017, will require such individuals to disclose whether they've received payment — either in the form of cash, free products or other considerations —   in exchange for the mention. Bloggers will need to include statements within their posts or videos while  users of  social media platforms such as  Twitter,  Instagram  and  Snapchat  will have to include hashtags such as #sponsored,  #spon  or #ad."

[Link] [Comment]
30 Aug 16:32

Rethinking the Viaducts

by michaelkluckner

viaducts

A very well-argued piece by Kenneth Chan on Daily Hive.

The article is divided into several sections, with subtitles:

1. A new barrier: a ground-level eight-lane road replacement

2. A plan that is detrimental to the city’s cycling and pedestrian goals

3. A new steep wedge between B.C. Place and Rogers Arena

4. “The viaducts are an eyesore”

5. What’s wrong with the idea of excess road capacity?

6. The removal plan’s cost: a $200 million beautification project

Among the points that caught my eye was #4, and the statement that the city had done little thinking about how to make use of the space beneath the viaducts:

The land under the viaducts is not wasted land; the area is under-utilized due to a severe lack of imagination from the municipal government. The viaducts provide sheltered areas for our wet climate and the skatepark currently located underneath the viaducts at Quebec Street are examples of what can be built underneath.

It could accommodate civic plazas, park space, night markets, and even restaurants and shopping malls. The spaces between the viaduct structures could also be an opportunity for infill tower development, with commercial and offices on the lower levels and residential on the upper levels.

He notes Granville Island, in the shadow of the enormous Granville Bridge, as a prime example, and includes a number of photos from other cities of repurposed space framed by outdated infrastructure.

Check it out! It’s a classic ‘cat among the pigeons’ piece.


30 Aug 16:56

Google Dropping the Nexus Brand for Upcoming Smartphones

by Evan Selleck
Later this year, Google is expected to release a pair of Nexus-branded smartphones. At least, that was the expectation — until now. Continue reading →
30 Aug 15:45

The 'Day of Drones' Gave Me a Glimpse into a Future Without Privacy

by Mike Steyels for The Creators Project

Photos by the author

In 5th grade, I was crazy about spy gear. Fifth grade me would've loved drones. Adult me loves drones, too, actually. But adult me has some real misgivings about them—or, certain aspects anyway.

I had my first up-close-and-personal experience with them at a drone-themed party earlier this month. It comprised a panel discussion on drone racing, a mini-ramp for skateboarders, free wine and hors d'oeuvres, and the one and only Ghostface Killah on the mic; all under the banner of an energy drink-styled extreme sports event called #DayOfDrones. In the midst of a confused but trendy crowd were a few of the drone racers themselves, hidden behind VR-like goggles as they piloted their tiny, bird-sized drones above and between the socialites. It's pretty common to see footage from drones all over the web—in music videos, skate videos, and even mural videos—but having them film me offered a new perspective.

These little floating cameras were both really fun and also really creepy at the same time. They moved with the accuracy and size of a hummingbird, easily creeping up behind you—you wouldn't even realize you were on TV until you saw yourself projected onto the wall above, for all to see, via a glitched-out and grainy live feed.

At one point, a drone hovered in a circle around my face, its mischievous pilot provoking a response from me from another room. I jumped a little but laughed about it. It was, after all, The Day Of Drones, and to do otherwise seemed just a little uptight. And yet, despite this, I still saw people swatting them away. It was hard to not be caught off-guard because they were so stealthy by nature.

Ostensibly, the Bushwick event was meant to draw attention to the sport of drone racing, familiarizing the masses with the concept in hopes of commercial franchising. In some aspects, it did just that; the panel was interesting, the obstacle course setup intriguing, with an atomic green light throwing huge shadows all around. And the drones were cute, like any pet that size would be, especially when immobile, perched on a table, and watching in silence.

But the crowd mostly ended up drifting to the bar, their din making the panelists hard to hear towards the end. And apparently it was too windy to fly the course; so instead the drones just zoomed around the room, through doorways and over bannisters.

Instead, the lasting impression was of a world in which cameras can hover around you without your knowledge. It's not entirely different from the threat posed by creeps filming strangers on the train, or the invasive nature of most party photography—and that's not to say the footage didn't look great. Seeing live footage of a professional dancer doing the Harlem Shake while a camera floated in circles around him was novel and cinematic. And strapping those goggles on, which they also let us do, revealed the draw for the pilots themselves, making me even more sympathetic for their cause. 

But the fact that, even at an event where the word "drone" was spray painted in neon colors all over the place, people were still swatting at them, proved there's an unsettling edge to this new technology. Something about eyes in the skies might always be a little creepy. That doesn't, however, mean there's not a place for them—we just need to settle on when and where that space is. Races are one thing, but a party is another. 

Click here to learn about The Day of Drones. 

Related:

Surveillance Art Takes Action in a Post-Snowden World

Now Even Drones Are Taking Selfies

[Longreads] The Complexities of Drones in Art

30 Aug 10:00

Against the Clock

by Maya Binyam

Over at the Northeast Air Defense Sector’s command center, the NORAD exercise is about to commence. Here is how it goes: Russian Bears are piercing the airspace up off Alaska. The Tupolev Tu-95, known colloquially as Bear, has propellers that move faster than the speed of sound, making it the loudest plane in the world. The bomber — booming, blade tips spinning — slips through Alaska’s airspace like a pin, or a needle: the thing that does the pricking.

But the nick is just a simulation. Here is how the real thing goes: a plane, departing from Boston, blips green on an air traffic control screen. It blips away — blinking over Boston, Worcester, Pittsfield — and then goes dead just outside Albany. The air traffic controller who’s been monitoring the winks — their frequency, the speed — loses his shit. He calls the situation into his boss, who calls it into the Northeast Air Defense command center. An official takes the call, hears the news, then motions, anxiously, to his coworker, a woman, who is busy preparing for the Bears and their impending penetration. “I got a hijack on the phone,” says the official. “This is sim?” she asks. “No,” the man corrects. “This is real world. This is a no-shit hijack. It’s Boston.” The woman goes to talk to her boss: “Sir, we have a real-world situation here.”

The simulation, the situation, the Bears, and the boss are from a movie. United 93, which premiered in 2006, depicts United Airlines Flight 93, one of the four flights hijacked on September 11, 2001. This is the flight on which passengers launched a counterattack. They improvised weapons — blunt knives made for cutting breakfast omelettes, boiling water meant for tea — and pushed the hot food cart into one hijacker, two hijackers, and finally into the cockpit, where they tried to gain control of the yoke. The airliner, intercepted, veered away from its intended target — the Capitol or White House, no one knows which — and nosedived into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing everyone on board.

Anticipation of attack, in which possible futures are felt as real, can be manipulated as a tool of national security. On Flight 93, civilians gathered blunt knives, like a militia

This is a real-world situation, and so the drama is portrayed in real time, a filmic convention in which plot progression mimics linear time exactly. In this case, the movie begins in the hijackers’ motel room — precisely at Fajr, the morning call to prayer — and ends 110 minutes later, the hijacker-pilot yelling “Allahu Akbar,” the passenger-pilot grasping for control, and the plane, full of people, spiralling into green, the field, its death.

September 11 demands to be experienced live, which is why real time has become such a popular convention in American portrayals of the War on Terror. The TV show 24, for example — which premiered in November 2001, ran for eight seasons, and is scheduled for a reprisal this winter — opens every hour-long episode with a single refrain: “Events occur in real time.” Each episode corresponds with a single hour in the day (5:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m., 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m., etc.), with each 24-episode season comprising a single day in the life of Jack Bauer, an agent employed by the fictional Counter Terrorist Unit. Seasons one through eight track a terrorist plot underway (nuclear bomb, suitcase bomb, dirty bomb) and Jack’s attempts to thwart it before the clock, quite literally, runs out. Time is denoted by a stopwatch, which ticks onward at the beginning and end of every commercial break.

Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, which tells “the story of history’s greatest manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man,” has a ticking clock, too, though it isn’t introduced until the final 20 minutes of the hunt, when the man, Osama bin Laden, is almost dead. In the final moments of the film, the Special Activities Division (SAD) flies a group of U.S. Naval special agents to Bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan. They land; unseal the doors of the compound with tiny, hand-held bombs; kill three men and one woman; shoot Bin Laden twice in the forehead; gather up the survivors, mostly children; bind their hands with zip ties; and then depart the way they came, Bin Laden sealed into a bag and stored safely in the body of a chopper. All in all, the filmed assault takes 15 minutes, corresponding, exactly, with Bin Laden’s real-life capture, his quick and unexpected demise.


If these moving images share a perspective, it’s that of the forecaster: the person who controls the broadcast. Each employs the convention of realism to distend the myopia of real life. “September 11, 2001 was a day of unprecedented shock,” states the Executive Summary of the 9/11 Commission report. “The attacks of 9/11 were the biggest surprise in American history,” echoes George Packer. No one, in other words, saw the violence coming.

United 93, however, attempts to prove otherwise. “The big difference between this flight and the other three, of course,” writes Brendan O’Neill in a review for Spiked, “is that the passengers sensed what was going to happen.” The hijackers tasked with flying 93 were the only ones who missed their target that day, a malfunction lauded as victory and attributed to the victims of the crash, who, in death, became heroes. They saw what most Americans couldn’t, an impending attack, and prompted its arrest. If the assumption is that this foresight was unique — the thing that differentiated this flight from the rest, these passengers from normal civilians — it follows that anticipation, the sensibility in which possible futures are felt as real in the present, can be manipulated as a tool of national security.

In their discussion of the temporal politics of emergency, Professors Vincanne Adams, Michelle Murphy and Adele E. Clarke write that anticipation “gives speculation the authority to act in the present.” Anticipatory regimes — political systems in which the actual is displaced by the speculative “offer a future that may or may not arrive, but is always uncertain and yet is necessarily coming and so therefore always demanding a response.” The looming attack “sets the conditions of possibility for action in the present.” Civilians gather blunt knives, like a militia. They act as if the emergency has already arrived.

The anticipatory mode of the 9/11 Commission to “institutionalize imagination” isn’t one that predicts the perfect attack, but one that cements the possibility of perfect intelligence

Most Americans, so it goes, didn’t feel a sense of emergency, and that’s why they suffered. In the Executive Summary of the 9/11 Commission compiled by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, officials lament this miscalculation: “We did not grasp the magnitude of a threat that had been gathering over time… this was a failure of policy, management, capability, and — above all — a failure of imagination.” Considering what was not predicted, they continue, “suggests possible ways to institutionalize imagination,” a project whose immediate aim is to instruct Americans to foresee their own death. But the 9/11 Commission is charged with providing tools for national security, not masochism, and so it follows that this prescribed reimagining is meant to be recuperative: It makes the possibility of attack feel real, yes, but only to galvanize defense. The anticipatory mode being institutionalized, then, isn’t one that predicts the perfect attack, but one that cements the possibility of perfect intelligence.

Real time offers a corrective; it encourages viewers to more responsibly make-believe. When applied to nationalist portrayals of attack, real time enacts a politics of presumption whose affective qualities are twofold. Viewers are encouraged, on one hand, to suspend disbelief: to indulge, if only momentarily, in the fantasy of an attack thwarted, a nation kept secure. On the other, they’re encouraged to believe fully in the powers of speculation: to understand future attacks as necessarily real, and looming, in order to justify precautionary violence in the present.

When a civilian goes to the movies, she is presumed to relinquish subjectivity. But when the movie she chooses tells the story of a terrorist attack unfolding in real time, her panoptic vision, or ability to see danger as it approaches without fear of being harmed, mimics a superpower: surveillance. Like most networks of policing and imprisonment, surveillance is predictive: The state justifies its reach by codifying the anticipation of a possible catch. When asked why Guantanamo prisoners were being held without trial, for example, Secretary Rumsfeld answered that if they were not restrained, they were sure to kill again. The War on Terror, writes Judith Butler, “justifies itself endlessly in relation to the spectral infinity of its enemy.”

Like most filmic devices, real time postures as truth. And like most versions of the truth, it demands to be experienced live. But when the live experience is September 11 and the counterattacks launched in its name, bearing witness feels a lot like propaganda, or being made party to a regime that insists, despite all evidence, on the resilience of its sovereignty. The violence, put simply, gets to be a fiction. And if fiction is a kind of myth, something that can be manipulated to shine with a veneer of truth, then the promise of this particular fiction is what the real event, September 11, disproved: the triumph of a white nationalist agenda.


What is so frustrating about these movies is being made spectator to white people’s delusions, the fantasy that they’re in control. They’re not in control. They do not have their shit together. Jack Bauer of 24, for example, loses his wife, contracts a deadly virus, gets fired. Maya, the CIA analyst charged with gathering intelligence on Bin Laden, yells repeatedly at her coworkers, whom she believes are not doing enough to ensure Bin Laden’s capture; she takes a Sharpie to her boss’s window when he doesn’t do as he’s promised, keeping track of each day that passes without action. In United 93, the chief of air traffic control hears screams coming from the cockpit. We have no control, he announces. This is a national emergency. The passengers, meanwhile, are trying to take control. You’ve gotta get ahold of the controls. Get him off the controls.

White people operate under the illusion that they’re in control, which is why they get defensive when individuals who are supposedly under that illusory control recognize the delusion for what it is: racism. If real time obscures lines of power — normalizing both the anticipation of attack and the imperative to keep white nationalism secure — live streaming elucidates power’s perforations, the ways in which white sovereignty is always already unreal.

If real time obscures lines of power — normalizing both the anticipation of attack and the imperative to keep white nationalism secure — live streaming elucidates the ways in which white sovereignty is always already unreal

Before police officers shot and killed 23-year-old Korryn Gaines, they filed — and were granted — an emergency request with Facebook and Instagram to deactivate her accounts, taking her live-stream video of the confrontation offline. Her followers were encouraging her to resist arrest. They were trying, in other words, to control the situation. According to Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson, the spectators were getting in the way. They were ruining “the integrity of the negotiation process” by eliciting a future in which the police failed to exercise power. The anticipatory mode being acted upon, in other words, was one that predicted the preservation of black life. Police huffed the stream and took control of the situation, the negotiation, Korryn’s body. They killed the woman whom black viewers were assembling to protect.

When live-streams of black pain can be used to invigorate the power of the police, the state likes to tune in. On July 12, when the black victim of a shooting uploaded footage of his black aggressor on Facebook Live, U.S. Marshals watched the video, issued seven felony warrants, and then tracked down and apprehended the suspect while he rode his hoverboard. Although the investigation is ongoing, authorities have not asked Facebook to remove the video.

Live videos of black suffering choked the internet this summer. Korryn Gaines filmed the events that preceded her murder; Diamond Lavish Reynolds live-streamed footage of her boyfriend’s unconscious body after police shot him four times; bystanders filmed the police-shooting of Alton Sterling and uploaded it to Facebook and Instagram, where it played automatically, on feeds, for weeks. This is not a simulation: Black and brown people suffer daily. Our pain is played live and on loop.

Real time simulates the immediacy of black suffering to make white hurt — and its compulsory complement, white healing — feel live. Black people are hurting, but because our pain is made into spectacle, we rarely get the healing we need. The state codifies the anticipation of black death; of white suffering, it demands remedial care.

White people like to think that their pain is exceptional, which is why they call it tragedy. September 11 was a tragedy, but it is not synonymous with white suffering. According to the Center for Disease Control, 215 black people and 445 non-black people of color died on 9/11. Undocumented migrants cleaned up these dead bodies, among others; they washed bones and ground them into powder. But because September 11 is rhetoricized as an attack on American sovereignty, and because American sovereignty is mythologized as white exceptionalism, the tragedy of that day is presumed to justify the ensuing panic, or, as White America likes to call it, precaution. “Sovereignty,” writes Butler, “extends its own power precisely through the tactical and permanent deferral of the law itself.”

The events of September 11 — aggregated and replayed, as if to appear live — amalgamate to form the single lens through which American grief is named and visualized. But the stream is just an imitation. Here is how the real thing goes. White suffering replays itself in our image, and uses this mimicry to justify the thing that hurts us: the state, its reach, a terror called resilience.

02 Mar 16:44

I Pulled for the First Time in Two Years Thanks to New Twitter

by Bardi Golriz

I've just realised new Twitter is the first time I could pull-to-refresh on a Windows Phone app. Considering I've been a Windows Phone user since December 2010, it's puzzling that it's taken this long for an app to implement what's now a pretty common gesture on other platforms. The wait could be explained by of one of two reasons. Either I don't download too many apps i.e. there have been apps before new Twitter that support this gesture, which I was not aware of. Not unlikely and I hope this is why. Or, more worryingly, developers are not thinking different.

Update: The Verge forum user mgk69 reminded me of Twitter's patent application for pull-to-refresh as the possible reason why other apps on Windows Phone have hesitated from using this gesture. This doesn't wash with me because it was just an application that doesn't appear to have been granted yet. Moreover, since the application was made, UIRefreshControl was introduced in iOS 6's SDK. And high profile apps were supporting the gesture before the patent application and continued to do so after. Finally, another Verge user mleone47 let me know that Fancy on Windows Phone has supported pull-to-refresh ever since it was released; the date of its first user review suggest this was mid-July 2012.

Update 2: @Andersson shared this Loren Brichter April 2012 tweet. Of course, for those not in the know, Loren invented pull-to-refresh in Tweetie, which was acquired by Twitter back in 2010.

You can read more at http://blog.twitter.com/2012/04/introducing-innovators-patent-agreement.html

30 Aug 11:57

Docker comes to Raspberry Pi

by Matt Richardson

If you’re not already familiar with Docker, it’s a method of packaging software to include not only your code, but also other components such as a full file system, system tools, services, and libraries. You can then run the software on multiple machines without a lot of setup. Docker calls these packages containers.

Mayview Maersk by Flickr user Kees Torn

Mayview Maersk by Flickr user Kees Torn

Think of it like a shipping container and you’ve got some idea of how it works. Shipping containers are a standard size so that they can be moved around at ports, and shipped via sea or land. They can also contain almost anything. Docker containers can hold your software’s code and its dependencies, so that it can easily run on many different machines. Developers often use them to create a web application server that runs on their own machine for development, and is then pushed to the cloud for the public to use.

While we’ve noticed people using Docker on Raspberry Pi for a while now, the latest release officially includes Raspbian Jessie installation support. You can now install the Docker client on your Raspberry Pi with just one terminal command:

curl -sSL get.docker.com | sh

From there, you can create your own container or download pre-made starter containers for your projects. The documentation is thorough and easy to follow. You can also follow this Pi-focused guide by Docker captain Alex Ellis.

Docker Swarm

One way you can use Raspberry Pi and Docker together is for Swarm. Used together, they can create a computer cluster. With Swarm containers on a bunch of networked Raspberry Pis, you can build a powerful machine and explore how a Docker Swarm works. Alex shows you how in this video:

Docker Swarm mode Deep Dive on Raspberry Pi (scaled)

Get all the details @ http://blog.alexellis.io/live-deep-dive-pi-swarm/

You can follow along with Alex’s written tutorial as well. He has even taken it further by using Pi Zero’s USB gadget capabilities to create a tiny Docker Swarm:

Alex Ellis on Twitter

Look ma, no Ethernet! 8 core @Docker 1.12 swarm boom USB OTG @Raspberry_Pi @pimoronipic.twitter.com/frlSQ9ePpr

The Raspberry Pi already makes many computing tasks easier; why not add deploying remote applications to that list with Docker?

The post Docker comes to Raspberry Pi appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

30 Aug 12:28

How to find and cure common writing flaws (infographic)

by Josh Bernoff

It’s not enough to find the flaws in a piece of writing. Editors must know why they’re there. Good editors explain how the writer can cure the habits that led to the flaws. Writing Without Bullshit exists to reveal, not just how to write better, but why you don’t write better already. I don’t just want to make writing … Continue reading How to find and cure common writing flaws (infographic) →

The post How to find and cure common writing flaws (infographic) appeared first on without bullshit.

04 Mar 10:16

Multitasking on a Surface may be a Snap but is it Predictable?

by Bardi Golriz

Lukas Mathis considers the ability to swipe between two apps on Windows 8 to be clever, but also expresses concern:

This is pretty clever, but probably often results in showing an app the user did not expect. 
Until I set aside time to understand the behaviour, my expectations were being satisfied 50% of the time -  when I'd access an app through another. For example, when I'd tap on a link to Mail to open it in Internet Explorer, I expected a left-swipe to be interpreted as a back to last app gesture. And it did. The confusion arose when the subsequent deferred left-swipe was interpreted similarly when I didn't specifically want it to i.e. I was not working between two apps. For example, I was returned as expected to Mail, sent my mail, and wanted to swipe to another non-particular app but to my surprise was taken back to IE. Practically speaking, this doesn't make a difference as I wouldn't be looking to swipe to a particular app, but must admit being surprised every time this happened. Judging by feedback I've received from other Windows 8 users, I was not the only one, supporting Lukas' reservations. 

In the behaviour's defence, I consider this as logic assisting the user that doesn't necessarily need their knowledge. When you are working between two apps, it works how you want it to. In this context you're too immersed in your workflow that as far as you're concerned the device is running just these two apps, and nothing else, and so your expectations are met.

I think webOS and the Blackberry PlayBook solved this better, by spatially arranging running apps horizontally. This way, it’s always clear which app you switch to when you edge-swipe, because apps never «move»; the same apps are always located to the left and right of any given running app.

I've never used the Blackberry PlayBook, but I did buy my girlfriend a Palm Pre a couple of years ago for mostly selfish reasons (I knew the mirror back would make her warm to the device quickly). I had always been fascinated by webOS and wanted to play with one. The cards system didn't disappoint. It was only a week ago that I tweeted:

Having said that, I don't know how the PlayBook does it, but I wouldn't compare the edge-swipe on Windows 8 to webOS's cards. In order to switch apps on a Pre, you need to leave the app first and then swipe through the list of cards. That is, you can't switch between apps without passing through the home screen. 

That said, I do consider Windows 8's app-switcher to be its version of webOS cards. I never use it primarily because the gesture to invoke it is ridiculously unintuitive. If you get pass this, you'll notice apps on the list do get rearranged, unlike webOS cards. I originally thought they move up the list by one after every swipe, but after some rudimentary testing this doesn't appear to be the case all the time. I need to look into this more. But it's fair to concede, even at this point, that it's a bit of a mess and cannot compare with the predictability, fluidity and playfulness of webOS cards. I will say I'm not entirely dismissive of the concept of apps moving up the list, as they do on Windows 8's app-switcher, so long as the logic dictating the order is consistent. At the moment, it doesn't appear so but will leave that for another day to verify. 

Update: Lukas Mathis has clarified that the PlayBook, unlike webOS, does in fact support the Windows 8 like edge-swipe gesture to switch between apps.

29 Aug 13:57

On the Merits of Bug Tracking

by Mark Finkle

Yes, I wrote a whole blog post about bugs. Bugs are boring and managing bugs can be mind-numbing. However, all software has bugs and managing those bugs helps you understand the health and quality of your software, helps you understand the risk associated with new features, and helps you figure out if you’re ready to ship or not.

At some point in our careers, developers have a desire to fix all bugs before releasing. This might work for small projects or in situations where you don’t have a lot of testing. For larger projects, especially as projects mature, it’s just not possible to fix all the bugs before releasing an new version, so it’s time to manage your backlog. Creating good bugs helps reduce the time it takes to manage and fix bugs.

  • Summary – Be explicit and contextual. This is the text that shows up in bug lists. Something too vague, like “Crash when posting” will require people to always open the details to figure out the context.
  • Steps to reproduce – Be clear and precise. What was the expected behavior vs actual behavior? Does it happen all the time or is it intermittent and hard to reproduce?
  • Description – Is the bug a crash, broken behavior, performance or regression? Make sure you add these details. For UI related issues, add a screenshot or video. Can you provide a minimal test case for the issue?

You can’t fix them all, so it’s time to triage. Bug debt contributes to the risk of shipping, so you need to manage the set of bugs like many other aspects of your development process. Don’t be frightened by a large quantity of bugs in your backlog. It just means people are testing your software, which is a good thing.

Bug triage is the process of going through the list to find bugs that need assistance, escalation, or follow-up. This is usually done in a group, but sometimes individually to clean incoming bugs. Through this process the nastiest, riskiest bugs are identified.

  • Prioritize – Don’t guess. Use a decision tree, or some other system, to determine a real priority.
  • Estimate – Don’t guess. If it’s too hard to figure out, you should break the work up into smaller tasks. Link those sub-tasks back to the original bug.
  • Adjust – Bug metadata is not set in stone. Situations change over time, so can the bug priority.

Bugs have their own social networks. New code always spawns bugs so link those regressions back to the source feature or fix. Link duplicates back to the original issue. Sometimes those are not 100% duplicates and it’s good to verify all the duplicates are really fixed. Link code landings back to bugs. Code archeology is a real thing so make it easier by creating a map of bugs to code. You should be able to start with a line of code and easily find out why/when it was added. You should also be able to start with a bug and find the code used to fix the issue.

The bug metadata should be factual, but separate from the decision to ship. Don’t lower a bug priority just to make the decision to ship easier for someone else. Let those people own the decision to ship with a known level of quality.

Triage helps keep bug status up to date, which is how real-time roadmaps are created. In a time-oriented release schedule, release roadmaps can change because some features aren’t ready to ship. When the enough code lands and regressions that need to be fixed are fixed, a feature is ready to ship. Triaging bugs and managing feature status frequently allows you to be proactive about changes in roadmaps, not reactive.

29 Aug 20:42

The Trouble With Big Cities

by Helen Keegan
Although I live in London, I spend a lot of time with my Mum in the city where I grew up. I say city, but Worcester is actually very small when it comes to town and city sizes. And it's a long way from anywhere. It's quicker for me to fly to Barcelona than it is to visit my Mum. Worcester suffers on the GWR Hereford to London line as part of the route is single track through the Cotswolds. I read somewhere that the train journey takes longer now than it did in the days of steam trains. There are local buses, but you really need to understand the timetables as most services are not very frequent and don't run every day and don't have services after 5pm. How you are supposed to use those buses to get to or from work, I really don't know! And let's not talk about the local motorway traffic which seems to get more congested year on year.

As a city, Worcester seems to be suffering from lack of job and career prospects, especially for young people, despite being home to a large university. It's a nice enough place to live with beautiful countryside nearby, a river running through it, a sizeable Marks & Spencer in the High Street and some lovely places to eat and drink. But that's the trouble, the new job opportunities in the city are all hinged on retail and catering jobs. Gone are the days of the big employers like Kays Catalogue, Dents Gloves, Cinderella Shoes, Worcester Royal Porcelain and Metalbox. Maybe, it was like this back in the 1980s when I left school. The majority of my generation left Worcester at the earliest opportunity. A few stayed, but they could be counted on the fingers of one hand. A lot of us left for London. I certainly did and I wasn't alone.

I'd love to see an innovation space in Worcester - in the city centre - showcasing young retail and creative talent and giving them the opportunity to try out their ideas in the city and providing a business hub. I've always thought the old Corn Exchange would make a great space for that. It has been lying empty for so long with a string of failed restaurants behind it, yet it's in a central  location in an interesting and historical building. Or failing that, the Angel restaurant could be reverted back to a market hall but focused on new retailers and have a mix of small office and retail units. I'm heartened to find out that there is an organisation who have similar desires called The Kiln. I'm interested to see what they come up with and wish them every success.

I mentioned all this in passing in a conversation I had with friend and retail expert, Eva Pascoe, and she was telling me that the network effect of new technology was boosting cities and was keeping smaller towns and cities down. It's not something I'd really heard before but it made sense. This article, 'The problem with London Guilt' explains how that works in more detail and why London has become so dominant over other British cities over the years.

I'm not sure where that leaves places like Worcester but it makes for interesting reading to understand the dynamics we're living in right now and why the focus is on 'smart cities' rather than 'smart towns' or 'smart villages'.

I welcome your thoughts and comments on the topic.
29 Aug 17:56

Arbutus Greenway — Examples and Ideas

by Ken Ohrn

Operating on the premise that we’ve built Greenways before in Metro Vancouver, and don’t have to start from a conceptual vacuum, I rode the Railway Greenway in Richmond yesterday.  It follows the route of the ancient (1902 vintage), pre-motordom, Interurban tram line from (more or less) the north arm of the Fraser to Steveston.  History material HERE.

The Greenway map (above) is out of date, it seems, since the ride yesterday was on asphalt.  The Greenway passed through totally car-dependent suburbs, but still attracted people as you can see in my pix. It’s around 5 km long, roughly half the length of the Arbutus Greenway.

Richmond's Railway Greenway The Greenway splits here into two for a short distance, one gravel, one asphalt. Having some fun with the heritage, this is a mock tram schedule at a rest area (reminiscent of a tram station perhaps) Rest area.  Note the all-mode accessible path from suburb on the west to bus stop (not visible) on the right A more elaborate rest area, accessible to all. Note the pathway from the adjacent townhouse complex to the Greenway. And, oh my, blackberry bushes for all. The southern terminus, with the original tram tracks leading to the Interurban Tram Museum.

 


29 Aug 16:15

How a Japanese Printmaker Influenced 'Kubo,' the Biggest Stop-Motion Film Ever

by Beckett Mufson for The Creators Project

Images courtesy LAIKA Studios

The DNA of a Japanese woodblock printing master runs through the veins of Kubo and the Two Strings, which is shaping up to be year's biggest animated film (sorry, Sausage Party).

Boasting groundbreaking 3D printing technology, hybrid CGI innovations, and an 18' tall stop-motion puppet, LAIKA Studios' latest film is a behemoth. Like their previous films Coraline, ParaNorman, and The Boxtrolls, Kubo is a mix of larger-than-life action sequences and mature themes. In a setting electrified by Studio Ghibli-esque magical realism, young Kubo (Art Parkinson) deals with both exhilarating conflict and debilitating loss. Oh, and it doesn't hurt that the rest of the voice talent roster includes Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, George Takei, and Ralph Fiennes—or that the whole affair has received a media blitz that included everything from custom sneakers to custom Snapchat filters.

As part of that campaign, LAIKA invited me to visit their studio in Portland, Oregon where I got to see a mammoth skeleton called the "Hall of Bones," the robotic eye of an underwater monster, and a Smart car-sized model ship made from autumn leaves. But amidst all the film's visual delights, in talking to the creatives behind Kubo, one name was all but unavoidable: that of Japanese woodblock print artist Kiyoshi Saito.

Kiyoshi Saito, Village With Persimmon Tree. "'Village With Persimmon Tree’ resonated with me," says Lowry. "It had a distinctive shape language and lovely textures within those shapes. Saito uses texture and color to suggest detail rather than slavishly rendering them. We saw this as a way to illustrate the world of Kubo."

Early Saito-inspired concept art by texture artist Dan Casey

"Kiyoshi Saito was the key stylistic influence that was the unifying design element throughout the entire movie," Kubo director and LAIKA President and CEO Travis Knight tells The Creators Project. The artist's influence is evident in every aspect of the film, from the costumes and sets, to the framing of the camera.

"Saito's poetic view of the rich history of rural Japan struck a note with me. His artwork was a great place to start in the development of Kubo," adds production designer Nelson Lowry. "Our characters are stylized. The world they travel through needed to support that. During the development process we started adding some of this texture into set pieces and clothing. Rather than depicting every grain of sand and snowflake we used a woodblock like texture across most of the surfaces in the film to imply detail. The technique gave the film a slightly grainy look evocative of Saito's work."

Later concepts by texture artist Dan Casey

Even the CGI is inundated with Saito's woodblock print aesthetic. As VFX supervisor Steve Emerson explains in a presentation during the studio tour, "One of the signatures of the work he does is paying attention to the economy of space and simplicity. We knew that was something we were going to want to fold into the water system." While LAIKA goes to great lengths to keep their films as physical as possible, some problems needed to be solved with computer graphics. Two scenes that could not have been shot with practical set pieces—though LAIKA designers tried—were the massive wave from Kubo's eye-grabbing initial teasers, and an epic swordfight in a rainstorm at sea. Saito's textural qualities tie all the digital elements into the 'look' and 'feel' painstakingly crafted by LAIKA's production designers. "In the final water system for Kubo, if you were to stop the frame and zoom in, you would see the Japanese woodblock Saito texture patterning in every one of these rain drops," says Emerson.

"[Saito's] artwork is just so potent," Lowry says. "He had a wonderful way of organizing nature into distinctive shapes. We needed to do the same. The story of Kubo required us to world-build on an epic scale. Rivers, mountains and distant wheat fields needed to feel organized, understandable. Studying Saito's stylized approach to illustrating both natural and architectural subjects helped us do this, too."

Kubo and the Two Strings is in theaters now. Learn more about LAIKA Studios on their website.

Related:

Unpacking The Stop-Motion Magic Of "The Boxtrolls"

New Software Tool Lets You 3D Print Any Video Game Character Into Fully-Articulated Action Figure

Laika Uses Thousands Of 3D-Printed Faces For Their New Animated Feature ParaNorman

29 Aug 18:12

Ohrn Image — Multi-mode Travel

by Ken Ohrn

Rode the Canada Line yesterday with my bike, and saw the usual people on it with me. Somehow, this variety is always there, but the populist narratives of riders’ demographics don’t come close to matching it. Odd, really.

Heading to YVR with luggage:   check

Earphone dudes (heading to or from school or work):  check

Recreational dude with bike:  check

Dude in suit with bike:   check

Canada.Line


29 Aug 16:10

Apple Announces September 7 Event

by John Voorhees

As first reported by Jim Dalrymple at The Loop, Apple has announced a media event for September 7 at 10 AM. The event will be held at the Bill Graham auditorium in San Francisco.

Based on recent speculation and rumors, Apple is widely expected to introduce a new iPhone 7 line, which may eliminate the 3.5 mm headphone jack and include a dual camera system in the higher-end model. A second generation Apple Watch and refreshed Retina MacBook Pros may also be announced at the event. There have been few rumors about what to expect from a new Apple Watch, but the Retina MacBook Pro is rumored to be thinner, lighter, and include a touch sensitive strip on the keyboard that replaces the function keys and can be programmed to perform different tasks.

In addition to hardware, Apple is expected to announce release dates for iOS 10 and macOS Sierra, which have been in public and developer beta since WWDC in June. As in the past, Apple should release a Golden Master seed of iOS 10 and macOS shortly after the event, with a public release to follow within about 10 days.


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28 Aug 22:44

Twitter Favorites: [Justin_Ling] A social license saves you lawsuits, protests, political scandal, and, I can't stress this out enough, DEAD WORKERS.

Justin Ling @Justin_Ling
A social license saves you lawsuits, protests, political scandal, and, I can't stress this out enough, DEAD WORKERS.
29 Aug 01:35

Twitter Favorites: [adamrg] @sillygwailo entirely prediction. Ideally the idea's weight would carry the day, but real world id, CV, etc. acts like a checksum.

Adam Gessaman @adamrg
@sillygwailo entirely prediction. Ideally the idea's weight would carry the day, but real world id, CV, etc. acts like a checksum.
29 Aug 07:02

Twitter Favorites: [kaler] @allbombs You’re talking like a marketer. The cool kids are posting cool shit on Snapchat. IG Stories is all fake ass marketing.

Parveen Kaler @kaler
@allbombs You’re talking like a marketer. The cool kids are posting cool shit on Snapchat. IG Stories is all fake ass marketing.
29 Aug 18:52

Twitter Favorites: [jeffjedras] Sigh. Every vote does count under FPTP. Every vote counts doesn't mean everyone gets what they want; it means they all get a say. Democracy.

Jeff Jedras @jeffjedras
Sigh. Every vote does count under FPTP. Every vote counts doesn't mean everyone gets what they want; it means they all get a say. Democracy.
29 Aug 16:38

The Turnaround

by Eric Karjaluoto

Gary got the call on Tuesday. The clerk noted, “We’re terribly sorry… there’s a problem with your scheduled stay.” He went on to explain that the power company had an upgrade scheduled. This involved ripping open the adjacent street. As a result, the hotel would be without power for several hours.

Having planned this weekend some while in advance, Gary felt disappointed. He and his spouse, Amber, planned to see a concert, visit some good restaurants, and shop. Before he could dwell on this, though, the clerk continued, “We can refund your deposit if you’d like. Or, if you prefer to stay, we’ll give you a 20% discount.” Gary realized that a few hours without power wasn’t a big deal, and accepted the discounted rate.

Things go wrong. When they do, you have a couple of options. You can avoid your guests and hope they’ll eventually go away. (Not a great approach.) Alternately, you can take ownership, and apologize. The Victorian Hotel did the latter, and they even did one better: they gave Gary the option to choose which solution he preferred.

They didn’t stop there, though. On Saturday, the night of the power outage, Gary found a surprise in the lobby. There was a humming in the air—from a generator running in the back lot. It powered a set of decorative lights strewn festively about the space. (Guests received flashlights to use while making their way to their rooms.)

A TV was also plugged into the generator, and turned to the Comedy Channel to entertain visitors. Around it congregated a gaggle of guests. They all talked, and got to know one another. Meanwhile, the hotel manager took the evening to chat with folks like Gary—and share stories about the hotel business, and such. Additionally, staff members provided guests with complimentary champagne. Gary describes the evening as strangely joyful, almost like a special occasion.

Should that have been an ordinary night, I bet Gary and Amber would have retreated to his room to watched TV on their own. They would have had a fine visit, but never spoke of it again. That’s what’s so notable about what The Victorian Hotel’s people did. They turned an unplanned interruption into something rare: a memory.

Gary took 10 minutes, during our next meeting, to tell me about this experience. And now I shared it with you. This wasn’t a campaign. There was no Like Button. The hotel didn’t ask anyone to retweet anything. Instead, The Victorian Hotel gave Gary something worth mentioning—so he did.

Every marketer is happy to promote when all is well. However, when something goes wrong, they tend to fall silent. This is a mistake. It alienates customers, and allows others to control the narrative. Worse yet, it strips the marketer of an opportunity to show that they’re there for customers—in thick or thin.