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27 May 06:23

My daily commute by bike turned me into a witness of a truly tragic event

mkalus shared this story from TORONTO STAR | OPINION | COMMENTARY.

I’ve been biking to work year round from south Etobicoke to One Yonge St. for about eight years now, and when I strap on my helmet and head out, I don’t know what I am going to see that day.

I have seen so much beauty on these rides. Gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. A glowing orange moon rising behind the CN Tower.

I’ve seen stunning birds, lone coyotes on the hunt, mink swimming along the shore, ducklings learning to swim. I’ve enjoyed the laughter of children playing in parks and large families enjoying a picnic.

I’ve watched young adults racing dragon boats and a lone rower sneaking up the Humber River. I’ve been caught in spectacular lightning storms while I took refuge in a gazebo as sheets of vertical rain blew across the harbour.

I have also seen horrific scenes that have shaken me deeply.

Last summer, a male cyclist was speeding past me, weaving in and out of traffic by the Tip Top Tailor Lofts, going far too fast for the conditions, when he hit a post and cracked his femur in two. I was right behind him and saw — and heard — the devastating accident.

As the man cried out in agony, I was able to stop and call 911. The dispatcher insisted I stay with the man and three of us made sure he stayed conscious until paramedics arrived. We tried to comfort and encourage him as he went into shock. It was disturbing, to say the least.

I’ve come across accident scenes after the paramedics had left but police were still on scene. One involved a cyclist who apparently lost control after hitting the streetcar tracks at the wrong angle on Lake Shore Blvd. in New Toronto and fell into traffic. She was hit by a minivan and died. Her bike was still on the road, the lights flashing.

On another early morning, the road was closed to traffic on Lake Shore in Mimico, but I biked on the sidewalk and past the scene of a single-car accident. The driver failed to negotiate the turn, and hit a light post. The driver was fine, but the passenger’s arm was torn off. Another driver lost his life in a single-car accident after hitting a light pole in front of the Boulevard Club.

I’ve been nearly run over by cars on two occasions while riding on the path through an intersection. I had the right of way. Last summer, another cyclist rammed into me from behind, causing us both to crash onto the pavement.

But, on Wednesday, biking home, I witnessed the worst possible accident.

A 5-year-old boy riding his bike lost control somehow and fell into traffic on Lake Shore Blvd W. He was hit by a car. When I arrived the boy was still on the road, motionless, and people were pulling out their phones to call 911.

A man picked the boy off the road and put him on the sidewalk. I believe it was the man cycling with the boy. Others rushed to his side. The rest is a blur. The driver who hit the boy had gotten out of his car and was standing beside me on the bike path. He was beyond devastated. People tried to help the boy until the paramedics arrived. I don’t recall who started the chest compressions.

Others, including myself, tried to comfort the 29-year-old driver. A man on the path told me he saw the accident and there was nothing the driver could have done. The boy died later in hospital.

I’ve been trying to process what happened.

That stretch of the Martin Goodman Trail runs right beside a high volume road. There is no boulevard or barrier. And it’s downhill. Cyclists frequently ride too fast. Other cyclists agree with me that site has been an accident waiting to happen. On windy days, with powerful gusts coming off the lake, I’ve worried about being blown into traffic myself. I believe a guardrail could have saved that boy’s life . . . and, I’ll bet, a future life.

I also feel there are unnecessary dangers every day, for all commuters, on the path. I do see that pedestrians, cyclists, joggers, drivers, and rollerbladers are far too often reckless. Too many people are in a hurry. People aren’t looking. People are angry and quick to lash out at each other.

People need to slow down. The injuries and deaths I’ve described were all preventable. When I pass one of the accident sites, I often think about what happened there. The daily commute shouldn’t feel like running a gauntlet of life and death.

Scott Colby is the Star’s Opinion Page editor.

26 May 20:32

Sony Xperia XA1 Review: Camera-focused budget phone that doesn’t stand out

by Rose Behar

Budget Android phones usually have one great thing about them.

That’s because manufacturers can’t afford to push each spec to the limit like they can with premium devices, so rather than just aim for an overall mediocre but inexpensive device, they choose one element of the device to shine above the others.

For the LG X Power and LG X Power 2, for instance, that element was the battery — a 4,100mAh pack in the first generation and 4,500mAh on the second, allowing for multiple days of life. For the Sony Xperia XA1, it’s the camera.

With a rear-facing 23-megapixel shooter features a f/2.0 aperture, 24mm wide-angle lens and hybrid autofocus, the phone stands out from its peers at a similar price point. At least on paper, you aren’t about to find any device as impressively specced-out in the camera department for $320 CAD.

On the flip side, Sony seemed to have its budget in mind when it decided to include a 2,300mAh non-removable battery, small even in the arena of inexpensive devices.

However, just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a phone solely by its specs sheet — implementation and software are also major factors in ultimate performance — a fact that was reinforced by the XA1. After spending a few weeks with the phone, I found that both what I most anticipated and dreaded about this device turned out to be slightly misguided notions.

Simple and slim

Sony’s particular style of design for smartphones doesn’t generally appeal to me — they are too boxy and minimal for my liking — but I understand the brand has its fierce fans when it comes to aesthetics and I must note that while initially I disliked its simple, slab-like design, I soon began to warm to its aestheti, in part for its minimalism but mainly for its practical functionality.

Much like the Samsung Galaxy S8, the device’s form is long and thin — though at 67mm it beats the more premium device’s 68.1mm width. The 5-inch display spans across almost the entirety of that width, with only the slimmest of side bezels.

The comfort of this thin form factor can’t be emphasized enough. It makes it incredibly easy to navigate the device with one hand without comprising the overall size of the display. The XA1 far outdoes most of its competitors in this respect — including the LG X Power and its successor the X Power 2, the Moto G5, Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016), Alcatel Idol 4, Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 and the XA1 Ultra (which verges more into mid-range territory, offers a larger 6-inch display and hasn’t yet debuted in Canada).

Big bezels paired with small bezels

In terms of thickness and weight, at 8mm and 143 grams, it comes in generally in the middle of the pile compared to its competitors — not the best, not the worst. But those metrics both matter much less to me, as someone with small hands, than a comfortably thin width. The width also pairs with sharply cut aluminum edges, making it much more secure to grip than some plastic or metal devices.

I will note that the top and bottom bezels appear somewhat ludicrously chunky, though in reality, the bottom bezel serves a purpose in providing a thumb-rest. The rear of the phone has the camera positioned tightly to the left, and has a somewhat easily scratched rear surface.

Additionally, the device features a dedicated camera launch button, USB-C charging, dual front-facing speakers and a bottom-firing speaker, providing good quality audio for playing out loud.

Middling audio and display quality

Unfortunately, the wired experience isn’t quite as impressive. Sony says the device includes active noise cancellation, but it’s difficult to hear audio content though my wired earbuds in a busy urban environment or on loud transit, and all but impossible to use in a noisy plane.

The IPS LCD display also suffers in out door environments or direct sunlight, though it outperforms the Moto G5 and has notably less over-saturation. Unlike the 1920 x 1080 pixel Moto G5, however, it features an unimpressive 720 x 1280 pixel resolution with 291ppi density. It’s far from alone in the budget category when it comes to having a 720p resolution — the Galaxy J3 and both X Powers have the same resolution, for instance — but many more are offering more modern 1080p displays, including the Idol 4, XA1 Ultra and Redmi Note 4.

Overall, display tech doesn’t factor too highly into my estimation of a device, but it may be disappointing to those who frequently stream video or play mobile games.

Enough battery to get through the day

Then again, users who do either of those things also aren’t likely to look towards a smartphone with a 2,300mAh non-removable battery. Considering that’s smaller (in many cases much smaller) than any of the competitors I’ve listed, I was expecting to barely make it through the day using the Sony Xperia XA1.

But in reality, it’s not just the size of the battery that matters when it comes to overall battery life, it’s also important to consider the processor and its implementation. Yes, it’s only a 2,300mAh battery (and it should be removable), but the octa-core MediaTek Helio P20 chipset does a great job of sipping power moderately and the battery easily lasted me a day. This is similar to the Moto G5, which provided nearly two day battery life with its 2,800mAh battery and octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 chipset.

Of course, battery life is also highly dependent on usage, so it’s important to note that my common usage patterns in a day for this period included up to four hours of Wi-Fi music streaming, at least two hours of Wi-Fi browsing and 10 to 30 minutes of voice calling. I also got a little over four hours of screen time per charge, taking up about 900 to 1,000mAh of battery power.

All in all, I found the seemingly lacking battery more than adequate, and the phone also didn’t seem to have a tendency to overheat — perhaps in part because of its trickle-charging Qnovo Adaptive Charging technology — which should mean the battery won’t degrade too quickly.

An unimpressive camera experience

Leaping from the least impressive spec to the most, I would describe my experience with the Xperia XA1’s camera as mildly disappointing — mainly because the company attempted to shoehorn a premium camera into a budget device that seemingly can’t support it.

While better pictures are possible using manual mode, the rear-facing camera is prone to taking pictures that lack contrast and are easily washed out by bright expanses. Many of my photos featured sun flares alongside a lack of saturation. Pictures that may have made a statement if the textures and colours had been juxtaposed in strong contrast turned into boring, dull snaps.

On the flip side, the camera’s low-light shooting is a high point of this otherwise so-so camera package, providing relatively crisp photos in dim indoor areas with minimal blur.

Returning to another downside, however, the camera can take almost three full seconds to open from the lock screen — long enough to miss some moments or to create an awkward moment when you’re trying to snag a picture with Canadian celebrity Ben Mulroney (seen above). The autofocus was also a little slow to adapt, resulting in a few pictures with the wrong focus, and the photo capture has a bit of a lag, as well.

Having noted all that, the camera is still one of the most impressive I’ve seen in a budget phone — just not by any huge margin.

Solid performance

Other than the camera, most apps ran well on the device’s octa-core MediaTek Helio P20 and 3GB of RAM during my time with it, and I experienced no serious slow-downs or crashes, again pushing it slightly above many of its budget compatriots. The XA1’s competitors run the gamut when it comes to processors, from Exynos to MediaTek to Qualcomm Snapdragon and ranging between quad and octa-core, with speeds, reliability and performance varying as well.

As for internal storage, the device provides a respectable 32GB, expandable by microSDXC up to 256GB, with the system taking up 9.63GB of storage off the bat.

While Sony’s UI still contains a fair amount of bloatware, overall the manufacturer’s skin seems toned down from previous versions, and fairly close to stock Android, including swiping to the right from home to get to Google Now and a pre-installed app drawer (unlike LG). The pre-loaded apps include some extremely bloaty software such as ‘What’s New,’ ‘Sketch,’ ‘Lounge,’ and ‘Sony News’ — but only a few are permanent.

The post Sony Xperia XA1 Review: Camera-focused budget phone that doesn’t stand out appeared first on MobileSyrup.

26 May 20:31

Closed for Memorial Day

by (VeloOrange)
by Igor

VO is going to be closed on Monday, May 29th for Memorial Day observance and to give our fantastic staff some time off.

Orders placed after 3pm EDT today (5/26) will ship out promptly on Tuesday, May 30th. So if you need anything to go out today, submit your order soon.

Have a great weekend, and please enjoy this 60cm Polyvalent Disc build which a local, very tall rider will be trying out for a while.

26 May 20:31

OER Pioneer David Wiley Predicts All Community Colleges Will Dump Traditional Textbooks By 2024


Jeffrey R. Young, EdSurge, May 28, 2017


By 'all community colleges' David Wiley and Jeffrey R. Young no doubt mean 'all community colleges in the United States', because expecting a community college in, say, Namibia, to replace textbooks by 2024 is to expect the very very unlikely. But more, as insightful as Wiley is, I think he is hampered by a basic misunderstanding or misrepresentation of economics. "If it’s 25 percent cheaper to get your business degree here than it is to get it over there, you’re going to go over here," he says. But we know this isn't true: people don't select education based on price, and institutions certainly don't differentiate it by price, not even at community colleges. Perceived quality, location, reputation, networks and more all play a role. So, no, I'm not expecting Wiley's prediction to come true. Not by 2024.
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26 May 20:31

Underpaid & Overstressed: 4 Things Starbucks Baristas Say Is Wrong With The Company

by Ashlee Kieler
mkalus shared this story from Consumerist.

Millions of people count on Starbucks baristas to provide them with a jolt of caffeine each day, but those employees might be the ones truly in need of a little help: Baristas around the country are spilling the coffee beans on their employer, claiming they are overworked and strained thanks in part to the chain’s endless stream of pilot programs and new services. 

Business Insider reports that those behind the counter say they are feeling the pressure from the company’s attempts to bring in more customers via mobile ordering, testing new initiatives, increased food offerings, and limited-time drinks.

While Starbucks says it is striving to improve the working conditions for its partners (the company’s name for employees) and regularly engages with these workers to make their experience better, those actually wearing the green apron say things aren’t improving quickly enough.

From discouraging conversations with customers to understaffing locations, dozens of current and former Starbucks baristas shared with Business Insider just what they think is wrong at Starbucks. Here are 4 things we learned.


One barista says that in the seven years they’ve worked for the company the relationship between employees and customers has changed.

Whereas customers used to be like family to baristas, the employee says it is now frowned upon to stop and have a conversation with a regular.

“And it has sapped just about every last ounce of my energy to know that I am now a hindrance to the Starbucks (corporate America) agenda,” the employee tells Business Insider.


Several baristas say that while they’re often referred to as the most important aspect of the chain, they don’t always feel that way.

With Starbucks offering more and more ways for customers to order drinks and food — from mobile orders to delivery tests to drive thrus — the employees say they are “running around like crazy.”

This is only amplified, employees say, when the stores are understaffed.

“I’ve had people call the store to complain that we seemed rushed and upset. The stress is overwhelming, a current employee told Business Insider. “A four-hour shift is too exhausting at this point, because there’s nobody to help us.”


While the chain offers employees several benefits, such as 401(k) matching and tuition assistance, one barista says employees are just looking for enough money to pay for a place to live and groceries.

One employee tells Business Insider that if given the choice between college achievement programs and high pay, nearly 90% of partners would choose the increased pay.

Another employee referred to the companies as “a cult that pays $9 per hour.”


Despite running the registers, the hot and cold bars, the drive-thru, and making connections with customers, some baristas tell Business Insider they don’t feel like a valued member of the company.

But they don’t feel comfortable voicing those opinions on the company’s surveys of partners for fear of retaliation.

“I and so many other baristas don’t feel secure in our [roles] enough to tell them how we actually feel, because it is not anonymous,” one current barista tells Business Insider of the system that collects partner numbers.

A rep for Starbucks tells Business Insider that the company’s strengths come from its connection to partners, and it knows there is work to be done.

“We know when we exceed the expectations of our people, they, in turn, exceed the expectations of our customers. To us, every voice matters,” the rep said.

26 May 18:12

Denmark is appointing an ambassador to big tech | Matthew Hughes

Denmark is appointing an ambassador to big tech | Matthew Hughes:

Maybe this is just a realistic approach to dealing with the tech behemoths:

Speaking with the Washington Post, Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen said, “just as we engage in a diplomatic dialogue with countries, we also need to establish and prioritize comprehensive relations with tech actors, such as Google, Facebook, Apple and so on. The idea is, we see a lot of companies and new technologies that will in many ways involve and be part of everyday life of citizens in Denmark.”

“If we want to be part of what is going on, and we want to have our say in this story, then we need to have, I think, a tech ambassador.”

Denmark is currently looking for the best candidate for the job. It’s also finalizing the details of how it’ll work, although Samuelsen said that the candidate will work with Denmark’s international network of embassies and consulates.

26 May 18:10

Notes From An Emergency |  Maciej Cegłowski

Notes From An Emergency |  Maciej Cegłowski:

Maciej Cegłowski must be a conservative, because I find myself agreeing with his prognosis but not his prescription, and the prescription is hard to discern except between the lines.

26 May 18:10

Bots will soon be able to borrow our identities | Hossein Rahnama

Bots will soon be able to borrow our identities | Hossein Rahnama:

Hossein Rahnama envisions bots that emulate public figures:

Imagine you’re a tech executive trying to get a clear sense of how President Donald Trump’s views on net neutrality might affect your business. Soon you’ll be able to question Trump’s swappable identity on the matter directly. Or you could activate, say, Elon Musk’s or Jack Dorsey’s persona and get their opinion.

The process is simple: Activate the persona (or personality “lens”) within Siri or Slackbot, and ask your question. Semantics-driven algorithms will then search gigabytes of data, patterns, statements, and transcribed video statements, and the digital interface will show the answer to your question, including its level of confidence. Based on your interaction with the answer, the algorithm will adjust the confidence level for future interactions.

Back to our net neutrality example: By tapping into expert opinions on the matter, you have a better sense of what alterations to regulations may occur, which can help you ensure your company’s tech remains viable when those changes go into effect.

Yes, and I’d like to charge for the advice of my simulated persona, please.

26 May 18:10

"I can never decide whether my dreams are the result of my thoughts, or my thoughts the result of my..."

“I can never decide whether my dreams are the result of my thoughts, or my thoughts the result of my dreams. It is very queer. But my dreams make conclusions for me. They decide things finally. I dream a decision. Sleep seems to hammer out for me the logical conclusions of my vague days, and offer me them as dreams.”

- D H Lawrence
26 May 18:10

Kik launches Kin to drive mainstream adoption of cryptocurrency

by Jessica Galang
Kin logo horizontal

Kik announced the launch of Kin, its own cryptocurrency that the company says will serve as a foundation for a decentralized ecosystem of digital services.

Kin will be created as an ERC20 token on the Ethereum blockchain, and will be integrated into Kik as the primary transaction currency.

Kik founder and CEO Ted Livingston has been vocal about his dedication to combining payments and chatbots, calling payments “the missing piece” to making bots successful in an op-ed April 2017. Seemingly to boost this vision, the company also announced the launch of the Kin Foundation, which it “envisions” as a non-profit governance body for the Kin ecosystem.

The Kin Foundation’s mandate will be to grow an open ecosystem of digital services that consumers can find value in, while giving developers an open platform to develop and monetize those services.

“Kik believes that Kin can bring together a broad group of participants to create an open ecosystem of digital services that prioritizes consumer experience and choice,” said Livingston. “As a leader in the chat space, we want to bring a fair and sustainable model for digital services to the market and fuel an alternative ecosystem for communications, information, and commerce.”

Kin will be adopted as the transaction currency inside of the Kik app, which has “millions” of monthly active users. The company will also develop the Kin Rewards Engine, which will work to promote the use of Kin as a common currency by creating an incentive; through the engine, Kin will be introduced into circulation as a daily reward, which will be distributed among stakeholders by an algorithm that reflects each community’s contribution to the overall ecosystem. The company plans to make the engine a fully decentralized system based on smart contract technology.

“We believe cryptocurrency is the next important business model innovation in tech,” said Fred Wilson, partner at Union Square Ventures and Kik board member. “Kik will be the first mainstream application to integrate a cryptocurrency. This could be a watershed moment for the blockchain sector.”

This story was originally published on BetaKit

The post Kik launches Kin to drive mainstream adoption of cryptocurrency appeared first on MobileSyrup.

26 May 18:10

Trolling Aadhaar Critics

by Thejesh GN

It’s not a news anymore. @jackerhack has written about this in detail. To which after a denial, the man behind the accounts has apologized. I have not met Sharad nor done any business with him. I have attended a product nation conclave couple of years back.

Thank you @jackerhack for alerting me and everyone else. Bravo. Though I noticed a recent rise in trolling. I didn’t pay much attention until every Aadhaar tweet of mine started getting aggressive responses. Many times similar ones from different accounts. There was a pattern. I did a basic check on the usernames and joining dates. It was clear that it was a group effort. But I didn’t know who it was. I kept looking for details as they started harassing other Aadhaar critics. Thank you @jackerhack for alerting me and everyone else. Bravo.

Though Sharad apologized, we still don’t know everyone behind it. It was clearly a group effort. Also I am quite disappointed by the Twitterati who jumped into shower him with adjectives like “brave”, “bravo” etc. They did so without inquiring/talking to the harassment victims 1. Most of them didn’t even face the harassment nor did they condemn when it was going on. So to jump in to call him brave is dubious.

Twenty third evening I did a tweetstorms to express what I think about this whole thing. I am reproducing them here.

  1. I have been online long enough to understand how trolls work. It hasn’t changed much since flame-war days
  2. Hence all the lists and communities we created had just one rule “Be Nice”. Its easy to enforce on email lists, irc or on slack.
  3. One can present any kind of PoV but needs to be Nice to everyone else or will be kicked out.
  4. This is where Twitter is different from lists or irc. Its left to the participant to be civil or not.
  5. It also offers anonymity to people, specially the one who can’t afford to speak otherwise.
  6. But using anonymity for speaking up and using it to abuse are not the same. Specially by a person who is in power & in no danger.
  7. In this case ( #Aadhaar #iSpirit ) intention was to clearly abuse, hurt and mislead a very important discussion.
  8. Its so happened that at the receiving end there were people who had seen enough flamewars & capable of defending online harassment
  9. Imagine if abuse receivers were non technical, forget about outing a troll they would have stopped talking
  10. Which is what usually trolls want. They want you shut you. We have seen this again and again.
  11. For examples see the series #LetsTalkAboutTrolls
  12. This #Aadhaar #iSprit trolls are not very different from the trolls mentioned in #LetsTalkAboutTrolls
  13. Just that they got caught red hand, has a reputation to maintain in real life and hence the apology.
  14. It would be stupid to think abuse would have stopped if they weren’t caught & won’t transform into other forms like legal, IT, funding
  15. This is just the beginning because #Aadhaar conversation is not over yet.
  16. Calling an apology “brave” or “bravo” without enquiring about what kind of effect it had on community doesn’t instill confidence , imho.
  17. I expect #iSprit #Aadhaar community to act beyond calling it “brave”, work on rebuilding trust, which at this point frankly is -ve.
  18. Community building is hard. The most important raw materials are trust and providing safe area to express unpopular opinions
  19. So next few days IT/startup/tech community will watch how the whole #iSprit org/#Aadhaar community works to regain the trust
  20. Good night. EOF.

Again my issue is not that he used an anonymous account. Anyone and everyone is free to use anonymous account. But the issue here is using an anonymous account to harass critics.

I wish this trolling incident had not happened. Many more had just started talking openly on Aadhaar. This incident has a chilling effect on them.

  1. Yes, it was online harassment. Other Aadhaar critics got harassed much more than me.
26 May 18:10

Obi-Wan saying “Hello there” 67 million times

by Nathan Yau

This clip of Obi-Wan saying “Hello there” 67 million times amused me too much.

I think there’s a lesson in averages or small multiples hidden somewhere in there.

Tags: multiples, Star Wars

26 May 18:10

Most Popular This Week

by WC Staff
26 May 18:10

clavierm: micdotcom: Jimmy Kimmel “apologizes” to critics for...



Jimmy Kimmel “apologizes” to critics for saying kids should have health care

Yes… Call the scum what they are…

One quibble: newts aren’t lizards, they’re amphibians. But the point still works.

26 May 18:09

What Self-Driving Cars See

What Self-Driving Cars See:

Lidar is one of the key technologies in driverless ytransport, nearly as critical as the AI involved:

The biggest hurdle to widespread lidar adoption is an economic one, and that is where the battle is being waged.

When Google initially started its autonomous vehicle research eight years ago, the lidar sensors it used cost roughly $75,000. Those sensors were made by Velodyne Lidar, an industry leader. Velodyne declined to say what the current pricing is for such systems, but Waymo’s chief executive, John Krafcik, said in a recent presentation that his company had reduced the cost of its lidar system by 90 percent.

But even at $7,500, such systems are seen as too expensive to meet automakers’ demands.

“Car companies want it to cost $100 and perform 10 times better, be smaller — and very reliable,” said Omer Keilaf, chief executive of Innoviz Technologies, a lidar developer based in Israel. “So there’s a big vacuum in the industry right now.”

The race to fill that void is largely focused on producing solid-state lidar systems, which would shrink the size of the sensors, eliminate moving parts involved in the optical mechanisms and enable the kind of mass manufacturing that could bring costs down, said Hongbo Zhang, a research associate at Virginia Tech who is working on a lidar design. Established automotive suppliers, such as Velodyne and Valeo; technology companies like Waymo and Uber; and relative newcomers like Innoviz, LeddarTech and Quanergy all have their sights set on making less expensive sensors.

Solid-state lidars tend to have a reduced field of view, about 120 degrees compared with the 360-degree view offered by rooftop models. “So to create a cocoon around the car, you need to integrate four to six solid-state lidar sensors,” said Marc A. Morin, a spokesman for LeddarTech.

But most of the researchers working on these designs still believe they can produce them for much lower prices, and Hyundai has demonstrated in its Ioniq autonomous test cars how such sensors could be made less conspicuous and concealed in the bumpers and roof pillars of vehicles.

Luminar Technologies, a lidar company that recently came out of stealth mode, is focusing on improving the performance of sensors by extending the effective range of lidar past 200 meters. (Top-of-the-line sensors now have a range of 120 meters.) Austin Russell, Luminar’s chief executive, said the company accomplished the longer range by using a more sensitive receiver, as well as a more powerful light output that remains safe enough to avoid damaging people’s vision.

26 May 18:09

Some Lessons I Learned from the Dotcom Bubble for the Coming Crypto Bubble | Albert Wenger

26 May 18:09

The gig economy workforce will double in four years

26 May 18:09

More manufacturing jobs came back to the U.S. than left last year | April Glaser

26 May 18:08

Donald Trump Is a Menace to the World: Opinion

mkalus shared this story from SPIEGEL ONLINE - Schlagzeilen.

Donald Trump is not fit to be president of the United States. He does not possess the requisite intellect and does not understand the significance of the office he holds nor the tasks associated with it. He doesn't read. He doesn't bother to peruse important files and intelligence reports and knows little about the issues that he has identified as his priorities. His decisions are capricious and they are delivered in the form of tyrannical decrees.

He is a man free of morals. As has been demonstrated hundreds of times, he is a liar, a racist and a cheat. I feel ashamed to use these words, as sharp and loud as they are. But if they apply to anyone, they apply to Trump. And one of the media's tasks is to continue telling things as they are: Trump has to be removed from the White House. Quickly. He is a danger to the world.

Trump is a miserable politician. He fired the FBI director simply because he could. James Comey had gotten under his skin with his investigation into Trump's confidants. Comey had also refused to swear loyalty and fealty to Trump and to abandon the investigation. He had to go.

Witnessing an American Tragedy

Trump is also a miserable boss. His people invent excuses for him and lie on his behalf because they have to, but then Trump wakes up and posts tweets that contradict what they have said. He doesn't care that his spokesman, his secretary of state and his national security adviser had just denied that the president had handed Russia (of all countries) sensitive intelligence gleaned from Israel (of all countries). Trump tweeted: Yes, yes, I did, because I can. I'm president after all.

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Nothing is as it should be in this White House. Everyone working there has been compromised multiple times and now they all despise each other - and everyone except for Trump despises Trump. Because of all that, after just 120 days of the Trump administration, we are witness to an American tragedy for which there are five theoretical solutions.

The first is Trump's resignation, which won't happen. The second is that Republicans in the House and Senate support impeachment, which would be justified by the president's proven obstruction of justice, but won't happen because of the Republicans' thirst for power, which they won't willingly give up. The third possible solution is the invocation of the 25th Amendment, which would require the cabinet to declare Trump unfit to discharge the powers of the presidency. That isn't particularly likely either. Fourth: The Democrats get ready to fight and win back majorities in the House and Senate in midterm elections, which are 18 months away, before they then pursue option two, impeachment. Fifth: the international community wakes up and finds a way to circumvent the White House and free itself of its dependence on the U.S. Unlike the preceding four options, the fifth doesn't directly solve the Trump problem, but it is nevertheless necessary - and possible.

No Goals and No Strategy

Not quite two weeks ago, a number of experts and politicians focused on foreign policy met in Washington at the invitation of the Munich Security Conference. It wasn't difficult to sense the atmosphere of chaos and agony that has descended upon the city.

The U.S. elected a laughing stock to the presidency and has now made itself dependent on a joke of a man. The country is, as David Brooks wrote recently in the New York Times, dependent on a child. The Trump administration has no foreign policy because Trump has consistently promised American withdrawal while invoking America's strength. He has promised both no wars and more wars. He makes decisions according to his mood, with no strategic coherence or tactical logic. Moscow and Beijing are laughing at America. Elsewhere, people are worried.

In the Pacific, warships - American and Chinese - circle each other in close proximity. The conflict with North Korea is escalating. Who can be certain that Donald Trump won't risk nuclear war simply to save his own skin? Efforts to stop climate change are in trouble and many expect the U.S. to withdraw from the Paris Agreement because Trump is wary of legally binding measures. Crises, including those in Syria and Libya, are escalating, but no longer being discussed. And who should they be discussed with? Phone calls and emails to the U.S. State Department go unanswered. Nothing is regulated, nothing is stable and the trans-Atlantic relationship hardly exists anymore. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Bundestag Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Norbert Röttgen fly back and forth, but Germany and the U.S. no longer understand each other. Hardly any real communication takes place, there are no joint foreign policy goals and there is no strategy.

In "Game of Thrones," the Mad King was murdered (and the child that later took his place was no better). In real life, an immature boy sits on the throne of the most important country in the world. He could, at any time, issue a catastrophic order that would immediately be carried out. That is why the parents cannot afford to take their eyes off him even for a second. They cannot succumb to exhaustion because he is so taxing. They ultimately have to send him to his room - and return power to the grownups.

26 May 18:08

CAR2Go und DriveNow: BMW und Daimler gemeinsame Mobilitätsdienste

mkalus shared this story from manager magazin - News.

Künftig gemeinsam unter neuem Namen: Die Mobilitätsdienste von Daimler und BMW, Car2Go / DriveNow, wollen ihre Fusion noch im dritten Quartal perfekt machen


Künftig gemeinsam unter neuem Namen: Die Mobilitätsdienste von Daimler und BMW, Car2Go / DriveNow, wollen ihre Fusion noch im dritten Quartal perfekt machen

Die Autokonzerne Daimler Börsen-Chart zeigen und BMW Börsen-Chart zeigen planen eine unerwartet weit gehende Allianz ihrer Mobilitätsdienste. Unter anderem sollten die Mietwagentöchter Car2Go und DriveNow künftig unter einem gemeinsamen Markennamen operieren, berichtet das manager magazin in seiner neuen Ausgabe, die ab Freitag (26. Mai) im Handel ist. Die alten Marken würden wahrscheinlich wegfallen.

Die Unternehmen wollten die Fusion möglichst bis Ende des dritten Quartals perfekt machen, heißt es in Kreisen der Konzerne. Die Gemeinschaftsfirma werde wahrscheinlich in Berlin, vielleicht aber auch in München sitzen. Offen sei vor allem noch, wie viel die eingebrachten Töchter wert seien.

BMW und Daimler verhandeln inzwischen etwa seit einem halben Jahr über die Fusion. manager magazin berichtete in seiner Januar-Ausgabe als Erster über den Plan. Mit dem Zusammenschluss wollen die Autokonzerne den Markt für Mobilitätsdienste insbesondere in Europa zügig besetzen.

Neuer Verbund auch für zusätzliche Partner offen

Konkurrenten wie der amerikanische Taxivermittler Uber und künftig vielleicht auch der Internetgigant Google Börsen-Chart zeigen sollen es so hierzulande möglichst schwer haben. Nach den aktuellen Plänen wird Daimler auch den Taxivermittler Mytaxi und die Internetplattform Moovel in die Allianz einbringen. BMW betreibt unter anderem die Marken ParkNow (Parkplatzsuche und -vermietung) und ChargeNow (Aufladen von Elektroautos).

Der neue Verbund soll möglichst auch für zusätzliche Partner offen gehalten werden. Anfragen anderer Autohersteller gebe es bereits, berichten Beteiligte.

Streit gibt es bislang noch mit dem Pullacher Mietwagenkonzern Sixt Börsen-Chart zeigen . Dem börsennotierten Unternehmen gehören 50 Prozent von BMWs Carsharing-Tochter DriveNow; und Gründer Erich Sixt hat sich öffentlich gegen die Fusionspläne gestellt. Inzwischen heißt es im Sixt-Umfeld aber, der BMW-Partner könne sich auch eine Beteiligung an der gesamten Mobilitätsallianz vorstellen. Den möglichen Wert von DriveNow taxiert Teilhaber Sixt analog einer Analystenstudie von M. M. Warburg auf 480 Millionen Euro.

Mehr Wirtschaft aus erster Hand? Der obige Text ist nur ein minimaler Ausschnitt aus der Juni-Ausgabe des manager magazins. Das neue Heft (und die nächste Ausgabe) können Sie hier im Vorteilsangebot bestellen. Die digitale Ausgabe ist hier für Sie verfügbar, ab Freitag liegt die Print-Ausgabe am Kiosk. Abonnenten liefern wir das frische manager magazin am Donnerstag in den Briefkasten oder elektronisch. Oder beides. <img alt="" height="1" src="[value]=0.00&cd[currency]=EUR&noscript=1" style="display:none" width="1"/>
26 May 18:08

Toronto startup seeks to boost electric-vehicle charging options

mkalus shared this story from The Globe and Mail - Commuting.

Urban drivers who want an electric vehicle, but have no place to install a charger, are about to have a new option for juicing up their cars.

SWTCH, a Toronto-based startup, has developed a web-based platform that will allow homeowners with electric-vehicle chargers to rent plug-in time to other EV drivers. Similar to the lodging rental app Airbnb, SWTCH allows users to manage profiles, bookings and transactions through its interface.

“The idea is that we can expand the public charging infrastructure by leveraging private EV chargers and the shared economy,” said Carter Li, co-founder of SWTCH and a former management consultant.

Li’s co-founder, Laura Bryson said that data collected by the company shows that about 15 per cent of EV owners do not have regular home access to chargers. Reasons include the fact that some live in apartments or condominiums that do not have the infrastructure; others live in urban housing without garages or driveways and, as a result, park on public streets. Difficulty accessing a charger is also a big entry barrier for drivers who are interested in EVs but cannot accommodate the installation.

Li himself owns a Chevrolet Bolt, a plug-in EV that is new to the market this year and poised to shake it up because of its low cost (about $35,000 after taxes, fees and rebates) and long range (the vehicle can travel up to 383 kilometres on a full charge). Because he doesn’t have a charger at his downtown Toronto home, though, Li is often forced to look for publicly available, pay-for-service plugs. He frequents city-owned Green P lots as well as big-box stores such as Ikea.

“Depending on the week and my schedules, I try to plan ahead and see where I could charge,” he said.

Once Li has the ability to easily connect with other EV owners in his neighbourhood via SWTCH, he will happily pay them for use of their charger instead. How much he will pay varies. SWTCH has a built-in algorithm, he said, that calculates the cost of electricity based on the time of day, make and model of the charger and vehicle, and the duration of the charge. The owner of the charger, Li said, decides how much he or she wants to charge on top of that, meaning they have the option to make a profit for renting it out. SWTCH charges a 10-per-cent commission.

SWTCH appears to be the only current application aimed at creating a market for peer-to-peer charging rentals in Canada (there are other apps devoted to mapping charger locations, including some privately owned chargers, but none so far facilitate bookings or payment for users). Several similarly inspired electricity-sharing services have recently launched in other countries. Sweden has Elbnb, Britain has an app called Chargie. In Los Angeles, EVMatch is in beta testing mode.

In Toronto, SWTCH is also in beta mode and is looking for more residential charger owners to participate in its pilot. Once the company has built up a critical supply of charger owners in the city, Bryson said, it will look at further expansion into cottage country and, possibly, beyond.

Its timing is good. With more than 20 EV models available in Canada, the market is poised to grow. Ontario recently recorded its 10,000th EV on the road; the province, which is working to rapidly grow the number of green cars in Ontario, has some of the richest incentives in the world for EVs, including up to $14,000 back on the purchase of a new battery-powered car.

Ontario is also in the midst of installing a vast network of nearly 500 publicly available fast chargers. If SWTCH succeeds in growing a private electricity-sharing network, it will doubtless improve progress towards Ontario’s goals, which include boosting EV sales to 5 per cent of total vehicle sales by 2020. The number currently hovers around 1 per cent but is showing signs of swelling.

“As we move away from the early adopters to where we are now, this is really the tipping point of something that’s mass market,” said Wilf Steimle, president of the Electric Vehicle Society and a director of Electric Mobility Canada.

As the number of affordable EVs grows, so will the market’s demographic. Access to chargers will build on the trend, Li said. Quoting a recent report produced by CleanTechnica and EVObsession, he said that drivers are up to 40 per cent more likely to own an EV if there is a charger within a kilometre of their home.

“SWTCH will ultimately improve the adoption of EVs,” Li said.

Shopping for a new car? Check out the new Globe Drive Build and Price Tool to see the latest discounts, rebates and rates on new cars, trucks and SUVs. Click here to get your price.

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26 May 18:06

Arbutus Greenway Still Rolling Along

by Ken Ohrn

I visited the Greenway a few days ago and saw lots going on, as the temporary Greenway takes shape, giving hints about the future, and the abandoned railroad track becomes a memory.

As usual, click a photo to enlarge it.

At Burrard & Greenway, a traffic signal is now in place.  Greenway travelers get a signal pole on both east and west sides, each with a crossing button.  Note the new crosswalk on Burrard and painted lane dividers on the asphalt part of the Greenway.


At several places, a centreline divider is visible, with what appears to be potting soil awaiting plants.


Likewise, crews were spreading soil on the edges of the temporary pathway.  One person on the crew told me that the plan is to plant wild flowers there.  I like it.


26 May 18:06

The Whale

26 May 18:05

Nokia 9 appears on Geekbench with Snapdragon 835 and 8GB of RAM

by Igor Bonifacic
Nokia 9

While we’ve yet to see any of the Nokia-branded phones HMD Global announced at MWC arrive in Canada — or, for that matter, many other parts of the world — that hasn’t stopped the company from starting development on a new device.

In April, a report came out that said HMD Global planned to release a new flagship handset, known as the Nokia 9, by the end of the summer. At the time, it was believed the company’s new smartphone would include a Snapdragon 835 chipset and between 4GB and 6GB of RAM.

The Nokia 9’s latest Geekbench showing, however, suggests it will instead ship with 8GB of RAM.

As Pocketnow notes, the Nokia 9 wouldn’t be the first Android smartphone to feature 8GB of RAM. The Asus ZenFone AR, the next Tango Android device scheduled to arrive later this year, includes 8GB of RAM. ZTE is also rumoured to release a smartphone that features 8GB of RAM later this year.

Unfortunately, for all its hardware power, Unknown Heart (all previous HMD-made Nokia handsets have shared the Heart codename) performed abysmally, earning a 615 single-core score and 1116 multi-core score.

For the sake of comparison, the OnePlus 5, which is confirmed to feature the same chipset, scored 1963 in Geekbench’s single-core test and 6687 in its multi-core test. In earlier tests, the device performed markedly better. In a benchmark dated to May 17th, the Nokia 9 scored 1588 and 5455, respectively. That discrepancy likely speaks to just how early HMD Global is in the development of its next smartphone.

Source: Geekbench Via: Pocketnow

The post Nokia 9 appears on Geekbench with Snapdragon 835 and 8GB of RAM appeared first on MobileSyrup.

26 May 18:05

Android exploit named ‘Cloak and Dagger’ allows hackers to hide malicious activity

by Bradly Shankar
Lineup of Android robots

A new Android exploit known as Cloak and Dagger has been discovered, which uses various app-generated interface elements in the OS to hide malicious activity from users.  Researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology discovered the exploit. They say it affects versions of Android up to and including 7.1.2.

The team, made up of Yanick Fratantonio, Chenxiong Qian, Simon Pak Ho Chung and Wenke Lee, demonstrated that the malware creates a grid over the Android screen that mirrors a regular onscreen keyboard.

“These attacks only require two permissions that, in case the app is installed from the Play Store, the user does not need to explicitly grant and for which she is not even notified,” wrote researchers on a site dedicated to the exploit.

“The possible attacks include advanced clickjacking, unconstrained keystroke recording, stealthy phishing, the silent installation of a God-mode app (with all permissions enabled), and silent phone unlocking + arbitrary actions (while keeping the screen off).”

These attacks abuse one or both of the ‘SYSTEM_ALERT_WINDOW’ (“draw on top”) and ‘BIND_ACCESSIBILITY_SERVICE’ (“a11y”) commands.

The researchers say these issues have yet to be fixed. In the meantime, the team recommends users check which applications have access to the “draw on top” and the “a11y” permissions.

Specific instructions on how to do this for each version of Android can be found here.

Image credit: Flickr – Rob Bulmahn

Via: TechCrunch

The post Android exploit named ‘Cloak and Dagger’ allows hackers to hide malicious activity appeared first on MobileSyrup.

26 May 18:05

BMW Recalls 45,500 Cars Over Doors That Could Open Unexpectedly

by Ashlee Kieler
mkalus shared this story from Consumerist.

It’s one thing to feel the breeze through an open window or sunroof while driving down the road; it’s a very different experience when that fresh air comes from a door that opened on its own.

BMW has announced the recall of 45,484 model year 2005 to 2008 745i, 745Li, 750i, 750Li, 760i, 760Li, and B7 Alpina vehicles equipped with both the Comfort Access and Soft Close Automatic options.

According to a notice [PDF] posted with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the recalled vehicles may contain doors that appear to be closed and latched, when, in reality, the latch is not fully engaged.

Because of this, rough roads or inadvertent contact between an occupant and the door could result in the door unexpectedly opening while driving, BMW says, warning that the sudden opening could result in occupant ejection or increase the risk of injury in the event of a crash.

This isn’t the first door latch-related recall for BMW. In fact, the company notes in documents sent to NHTSA that the issue is related to the 2012 recall [PDF] of 7,485 model year 2005 to 2007 7-Series vehicles.

According to the chronology submitted by BMW for the new recall, the company was approached by NHTSA to discuss the scope and remedy of the previous recall based on the complaints received by the agency.

BMW reviewed and analyzed the complaints, determining they contained two issues: the door cannot close before driving away and the door could open unexpectedly while driving. Complaints about the door latching issues can be found in NHTSA’s customer complaint database.

The owner of a 2008 750Li tells NHTSA that they were driving the vehicle when the driver door came open and would not latch afterward.

In 2012, another owner reported driving at 73 miles per hour when the driver’s side front door opened and failed to lock again.

One owner of a 2006 750Li said that two of the doors on their car had this problem, though luckily not at the same time.

“While operating the vehicle, the front driver side door suddenly opened,” the owner wrote in May 2016. “On another occasion, the rear passenger door erroneously opened.”

After discussing findings with NHTSA in April, BMW determined that it was indeed possible for a door to unexpectedly open while driving if a latch or door handle failed. In May, the company concluded a recall was necessary.

However, the carmaker says a remedy for the issue has yet to be identified. Owners of affected vehicles may contact BMW at 1-800-525-7417 or email BMW at

26 May 18:05

The Mavericks & Heretics of Science

by David McCandless

Meet 40 mavericks & heretics of science whose “crackpot” ideas were proven correct. Eventually.

» See the visualization & analysis
» Check the data

26 May 18:05

Port Says Deeper Fraser River not needed, time to Twin the Tunnel, Nix the Massey Bridge?

by Sandy James Planner


The timing of this announcement after the Provincial election is puzzling.As reported in the Surrey Leader the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority announced yesterday that despite everything that is being said-“they have no plans to deepen the Fraser River to accommodate larger vessels.”

In a strangely late announcement, the Port emailed the media stating that “the port authority recently completed an analysis of the river and its potential to accommodate increasing trade, that considered a variety of possible uses of existing port lands and assessed dredging the river at different depths, both with and without the removal of the George Massey Tunnel. The port authority’s analysis, completed in 2016, determined that deepening the Fraser River would be extremely costly, requiring extensive environmental study and consultation over many years.”

The study showed that with more use of the Port’s existing terminals  and further development of the port authority’s existing industrial lands along the water, the Fraser River will be well positioned to accommodate Canada’s growing trade without deepening the channel,” said Peter Xotta, vice president, planning and operations at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.

So if the existing tunnel is not a challenge for the Port’s development potential (despite the release of previous documents indicating that the future deeper draft is a consideration) and the existing tunnel is “not constraining the current development potential of the river” then why was the bridge the single-minded solution offered by the Provincial government?

The Port maintains a 36 kilometer long channel on the Fraser River’s south arm. Studies show that 2.5 to 3.5 million cubic meters of sediment is “deposited annually” in that part of the river and it is dredged in the lower reaches for flood protection ad flow capacity.

In this bridge/tunnel shell game is the plan to offer a twinning of the tunnel instead of the overbuilt multi-billion dollar bridge in exchange for the Port’s rapid industrial development of their 200 acres of properties along the Fraser?



26 May 18:05

Socialization of youth (Part 4)

by admin


Sociology also examines the problems and deviations of the norm socialization. In general, the rate of socialization appears the result of a public mechanism of reproduction of the social nature of man (Kovalev, Lukow, 1999, 2012). Socialization rate is determined: first, as a result of successful socialization, which allows individuals to reproduce social relations, social relations and cultural values of the society and to ensure their further development; secondly, as a multi-dimensional model of human socialization, taking into account his age and individual psychological characteristics; Thirdly, as a well-established set of rules in society transmission of social norms and cultural values from generation to generation. Socialization rate is closely linked to the social norm, but not reducible to it. The essence of the distinction is to assign one or the other rules: the social norm for such a purpose is to regulate the behavior of individuals and groups for socialization regulation, together with the development of standards. Socialization norm due to the parameters of sociality of the society. Its advocates regulators culture, social norms and values. It does not change a tendency to ordering total and comprehensive control processes of socialization of individuals. Socialization norm correlated with social personality types, dominant in society, with the age characteristics of the individual, his status claims. The formalization of such a rule is carried out in the legislative and other normative legal acts, directly or indirectly related to the social reproduction of human society, fixed in various charters, programs, regulations, instructions and other documents regulating the livelihoods of people in social institutions and organizations advocating the socialization agent’s individuals. Socialization rate presented in the value consciousness of members of society, and is an essential component of public opinion, is an important regulator of informal behavior. Socialization is not always successful. The socialization of the individual is usually a deviation, which is determined by the mismatch of socialization as an objective and a subjective process prevailing in a given society at a particular historical juncture socialization norm. The oscillatingsocialization manifests itself in various forms of deviant behavior, and found a discrepancy of personal development of the individual standards set by society (Kovalev, Reut, 2001).


Reform of Russian society led to changes in the standards of successful socialization of young people, a collection of rules of transmission of social norms and cultural values from generation to generation. The main features of the socialization of the Russian youth in view of the transition from the Soviet model of socialization (uniform for normativity, with equal starting opportunities and safeguards to ensure the predictability of life’s journey) to another model (variability, stratified) were the following: the transformation of the main institutions of socialization; deformation of value-regulatory mechanism of social regulation and the establishment of a new system of social control; imbalance of organized and spontaneous processes of socialization in the direction of spontaneity; change in the balance of public and private interests in the direction of greater autonomy of the individual and the emerging space for initiative, creativity and initiative person (Kovalev, 2003, 2007, 2012).

Centralization and harmonization of social standards to some extent affects the processes of integration of young people into society, leaving considerable room for a variety of individual socialization practices. Ordered and managed the processes of socialization, set standards of personal development is always complemented by uncontrollable natural processes and alternative behavioral stereotypes.

Therefore, the real, “statistical” man is far from the normative sample.
A Case Study of socialization of young people it is advisable to maintain in view of the different levels of abstraction, as social processes occur as the individual entities operating on the micro level, and in objectively existing society. At the macro level. It is inevitable simplification of the society as multidimensional social phenomenon, which is the study of the subject has to be regarded as a self-developing organism. Thus abstracting accomplished by the fact that it consists of moving individuals and individuals. Even more simplification takes place at the individual level, for the individual taken into account means to take into account each individual, but in the light of the objectives of this study to take into account features of socialization of every young person.
The parameters of social reality cause the socialization process that occurs with individuals in the specific context of social reality. At the same time reveals the dependence of the social reality of how social is embodied in personalities.


Social reality determines the measure of social development as a human, balance and depth of the objective and subjective sides of socialization. It determines the actual boundaries of the socialization of its value-normative base, institutional and non-institutional components variants. It is more important to a person’s ability in a democratic society does not obey the formal schemes of behavior, and to consider them as a collection of his personal development tools. Then change these tools ceases to be dramatic and sometimes tragic for the person. He feels the more free than at least there is persistent pressure of the authorities. Any compulsion, directly or indirectly infringe the rights of the individual, it limits the possibilities of individual choice.

The post Socialization of youth (Part 4) appeared first on BookRiff.

26 May 18:04

The Dilemma of Affordable Housing Design

by pricetags

We never used to have a term called ‘affordable housing.’  If housing was produced by the market, it was affordable to local buyers or it didn’t sell.   Speculators could only function when scarcity existed, and there was always the risk that lower-cost housing could come on stream and drive down the price.

If government built the housing for those not served by the market, it was ‘social’ or ‘non-market’ housing.

But there was a problem.  Affordable housing tended to look like this:

Or, in multiple-family form, like this:

Both versions are Vancouver Specials from the 1960s: the least amount of architectural design, the most amount of density – where the land was a relatively small component of the final price, not the determining factor.

Imperial Towers, at 1255 Bidwell, is perhaps one of the most egregious examples. According to Emporis, it is the 26th tallest building in the city, the first to have 30 storeys, the tallest apartment building in western Canada at the time.

Designed by architect Peter Kaffka, completed in 1962, it was developed by former Vancouver mayor Tom Campbell (he became alderman in late 1962, mayor from 1966-72).  Talk about developers controlling City Hall.

When completed, this was the last wide-slab tower permitted in Vancouver.  After that, the floorplates were smaller, the towers thinner, the heights shorter.

The public backlash was understandable.  If growth was ever said to be ‘out of control,’ this was the time when public amenity and urban design were less used if not unknown terms in the approval process.

But here’s the irony: with increasing design control, slower approvals, more downzonings and constraints, both quality and price went up.  In other words, we induced scarcity by stopping growth from being ‘out of control’ and getting much better quality in amenity and design.

Today, the Imperial is still targeted to middle-income renters (one-bedrooms under $1,500), even though it sits on one of the more attractive sites with dynamite views in a very convenient neighbourhood, half a block from English Bay, next to Alexandra Park.

Yes, land cost is the most excruciating factor today – but it too is a function of scarcity that could be alleviated by significantly increasing density in return for negotiated affordability.  If we really wanted that.

There will be a host of new towers emerging on lower Davie Street in the next few years (already word among neighbours unaware of the 2015 West End Community Plan is that growth is out of control.)  While there is provision for more rental and some affordable housing, most of the new housing will not be considered by most to be ‘affordable.’

But would anyone really advocate we return to the era of the Vancouver Special and Imperial Towers?