Shared posts

19 Nov 07:52

Here’s how DJ Steve Aoki puts his creative energy to work

by Liz Armistead

Photograph of Steve AokiDJ Steve Aoki is a two-time Grammy-nominated international producer/DJ, entrepreneur, and founder of Dim Mak Records. As one of the highest-grossing dance artists in North America, it’s no surprise he’s in high demand. His recently collaborated with the likes of Lil Uzi Vert, Bok Nero, T-Pain, 2Chainz, and Gucci Mane, to name just a few.

In today’s collaborative world of music entertainment, Aoki spends more time out of the studio than he does in it. For him, finding creative inspiration is about working with different people, from different backgrounds in different places. “One of the benefits of being on the road is that I’m always around new environments, new stimulus. I meet different producers, and ultimately I end up making music that I wouldn’t have made if I was just at home.”

In this day and age, you don’t need to be in this studio 24/7. I make sure that everything gets uploaded to Dropbox where I can share all my files and sessions from wherever I am in the world.

On his latest album, KOLONY, Aoki was inspired by entirely new collaborations—artists he hadn’t worked with before. “During the process of making KOLONY, I found it less about who I am and where I came from, and more about finding that new road with the artist.” This led to a creative output Aoki says he wouldn’t have found alone in a studio: “For me, it was about creating new music, something extraordinary and different. To do that, the way you make music has to change, and that’s where the magic lies.”

As a pioneer in digital creation and collaboration, Aoki uses technology both on and off screen to make his vision come to life: “In this day and age, you don’t need to be in this studio 24/7,” he explains. “I make sure that everything gets uploaded to Dropbox where I can share all my files and sessions from wherever I am in the world. I can do everything I need to do.”

To hear more from DJ Steve Aoki, see the video below.

19 Nov 07:52

Raspberry Pi – protector of the shed…

by Bryan Mathers
Shed temperature alert system

SOMEONE left the heater on in my shed.

You can read all about it here in the most recent dollop of thinkery to your inbox.

The post Raspberry Pi – protector of the shed… appeared first on Visual Thinkery.

19 Nov 07:52

ICYMI – D850 scan test results

by admin

Last month I published the results of my tests of the Nikon D850 “negative digitizer” on PetaPixel. Judging by the dialog and web traffic, a lot of people saw it.  I’m putting up a short synopsis here, along with a link for those who missed it.

The bottom line: great camera for scanning, digitizer not ready yet.

The Nikon D850 is a truly wonderful camera for scanning photographs as I outline in my book Digitizing Your Photos. It offers a significant bump in resolution over the Nikon D800 which I have been using. If you are looking for the highest quality camera scan from a 35mm style DSLR, then the D850 would be an excellent choice (as would the Canon 5DSR, or the Sony a7r II mirrorless).

The camera includes a “negative digitizer” feature which can flip B&W and color negatives into positives in the camera. In theory, this could provide some real workflow advantages over manual conversion. However, there are some problems in the current implementation. Here they are in brief:

  • Clips highlights and shadows too aggressively
  • Can only shoot JPEG, which means highlights and shadows not recoverable
  • Exposure compensation and contrast control disabled in digitizer feature
  • Uncontrolled variation between frames means that batch corrections are not possible

Blown highlights were a particular problem with flash photos. Because they are JPEG files, they are not recoverable. 

Here are two images from the same negative strip. As you can see, the color is rendered very differently. This makes it impossible to batch correct with a consistent look. 

Nikon’s unofficial response

At the PhotoPlus Expo, I got a chance to have an extended dialog with Nikon representatives. They had seen the PetaPixel article and understood the issues I raised. More important, they indicated that it’s essential to fix these problems. I left the meetings with the impression that there would be a concerted effort by the Nikon USA staff to address these problems.

When I hear back from Nikon, I’ll be sure to post an update on the situation. In the meantime, if you are interested in using your D850 (or any other camera) as a scanner, the best methodology is outlined in my newest book, Digitizing Your Photos.

Digitizing Your photos - a guide to photo scanning with a digital camera
Scanning your photos with a digital camera – a comprehensive guide by Peter Krogh

The post ICYMI – D850 scan test results appeared first on The DAM Book.

19 Nov 07:52

Firefox 58 Beta 3, November 17th

by Bogdan Maris

Hello Mozillians!

We are happy to let you know that Friday, November 17th, we are organizing Firefox 58 Beta 3 Testday. We’ll be focusing our testing on Web Compatibility and Tabbed Browser.

Check out the detailed instructions via this etherpad.

No previous testing experience is required, so feel free to join us on #qa IRC channel where our moderators will offer you guidance and answer your questions.

Join us and help us make Firefox better!

See you on Friday!

19 Nov 07:51

Data Science is Hard: What’s in a Dashboard

by chuttenc
The data is fake, don’t get excited.

Firefox Quantum is here! Please do give it a go. We have been working really hard on it for quite some time, now. We’re very proud of what we’ve achieved.

To show Mozillians how the release is progressing, and show off a little about what cool things we can learn from the data Telemetry collects, we’ve built a few internal dashboards. The Data Team dashboard shows new user count, uptake, usage, install success, pages visited, and session hours (as seen above, with faked data). If you visit one of our Mozilla Offices, you may see it on the big monitors in the common areas.

The dashboard doesn’t look like much: six plots and a little writing. What’s the big deal?

Well, doing things right involved quite a lot more than just one person whipping something together overnight:

1. Meetings for this dashboard started on Hallowe’en, two weeks before launch. Each meeting had between eight and fourteen attendees and ran for its full half-hour allotment each time.

2. In addition there were several one-off meetings: with Comms (internal and external) to make sure we weren’t putting our foot in our mouth, with Data ops to make sure we weren’t depending on datasets that would go down at the wrong moment, with other teams with other dashboards to make sure we weren’t stealing anyone’s thunder, and with SVPs and C-levels to make sure we had a final sign-off.

3. Outside of meetings we spent hours and hours on dashboard design and development, query construction and review, discussion after discussion after discussion…

4. To say nothing of all the bikeshedding.

It’s hard to do things right. It’s hard to do even the simplest things, sometimes. But that’s the job. And Mozilla seems to be pretty good at it.

One last plug: if you want to nudge these graphs a little higher, download and install and use and enjoy the new Firefox Quantum. And maybe encourage others to do the same?


19 Nov 07:51

Switching Jobs

by Nathan Yau

When people move to different jobs, here's where they go. Read More

19 Nov 07:51


19 Nov 07:51

A Programming Digression: Kaprekar Numbers

by Eugene Wallingford

Earlier this week I learned about Kaprekar numbers when someone re-tweeted this my way:

Kaprekar numbers are numbers whose square in that base can be split into 2 parts that add up to the original number

So, 9 is a Kaprekar number, because 9 squared is 81 and 8+1 equals 9. 7777 is, too, because 7777 squared is 60481729 and 6048 + 1729 equals 7777.

This is the sort of numerical problem that is well-suited for the language my students are writing a compiler for this semester. I'm always looking out for fun little problems that I can to test their creations. In previous semesters, I've blogged about computing Farey sequences and excellent numbers for just this purpose.

Who am I kidding. I just like to program, even in small language that feels like integer assembly language, and these problems are fun!

So I sat down and wrote Klein functions to determine if a given number is a Kaprekar number and to generate all of the Kaprekar numbers less than a given number. I made one small change to the definition, though: I consider only numbers whose squares consist of an even-number of digits and thus can be split in half, a lá excellent numbers.

Until we have a complete compiler for our class language, I always like to write a reference program in a language such as Python so that I can validate my logic. I had a couple of meetings this morning, which gave just the time I needed to port my solution to a Klein-like subset of Python.

When I finished my program, I still had a few meeting minutes available, so I started generating longer and longer Kaprekar numbers. I noticed that there are a bunch more 6-digit Kaprekar numbers than at any previous length:

 1: 1
 2: 3
 3: 2
 4: 5
 5: 4
 6: 24

Homer Simpson says, 'D'oh!'

I started wondering why that might be... and then realized that there are a lot more 6-digit numbers overall than 5-digit -- ten times as many, of course. (D'oh!) My embarrassing moment of innumeracy didn't kill my curiosity, though. How does that 24 compare to the trend line of Kaprekar numbers by length?

 1: 1    of        9  0.11111111
 2: 3    of       90  0.03333333
 3: 2    of      900  0.00222222
 4: 5    of     9000  0.00055555
 5: 4    of    90000  0.00004444
 6: 24   of   900000  0.00002666

There is a recognizable drop-off at each length up to six, where the percentage is an order of magnitude different than expected. Are 6-digit numbers a blip or a sign of a change in the curve? I ran another round. This took much longer, because my Klein-like Python program has to compute operations like length recursively and has no data structures for caching results. Eventually, I had a count:

 7: 6    of  9000000  0.00000066

A big drop, back in line with the earlier trend. One more round, even slower.

 8: 21   of 90000000  0.00000023

Another blip in the rate of decline. This calls for some more experimentation... There is a bit more fun to have the next time I have a couple of meetings to fill.

Image: courtesy of the Simpsons wiki.

19 Nov 07:49

This is how I started programming

by Volker Weber
19 Nov 07:48

Casey just started using the Note 8 Samsung is paying him to showcase

by Volker Weber

IMG 20171117 1223591

Samsung had a disaster last year with the Gallery Note 7 battery. To turn the tide the company is now dumping big money on Youtubers, or as Casey calls them "creators". Casey's problem is that he does not know much about technology. I bet he did not know that we could see all along he was using Twitter on iPhone (and the web) when he was pretending to have "always been the Android guy". When iOS had this terrible autocorrect bug that turned a simple "I" into "A (illegible)" it became apparent he was just a terrible liar.

I mean what can he do? His wife and kid hang out on iPad and he wants to Facetime and iMessage them. And Candice isn't going to give up her iPhone no matter what. He can wear his Samsung Gear on his wrist and hold up the Note 8 into the camera, but in real life he isn't shooting his videos with the Galaxy and he is a heavy iPhone user.

Now that he knows we know, he is stepping up his Note game and actually using it for Twitter as well. Just keep in mind he is being paid big bucks to pretend.

Update: This did not last long.


19 Nov 07:48

What I want from a TV screen

by Volker Weber

I believe my perfect TV does not exist. But maybe you know better. Here is what I want (and don't want):

  • A large 4k flat display, up to 100". Large is good. No 3D or curved glass.
  • A TV satellite tuner for those moments I need to see live TV.
  • Digital audio out via TOSlink. I don't need speakers. IR control for my Sonos.
  • HDMI-CEC, USB Type A, several of each.
  • All connectors in separate hide-away box.
  • As little software as possible.
  • No branding on the frame, or as little as possible.

I love the screen on my 2012 Samsung TV. But the software and especially the missing software updates have taught me to separate display and smarts. I just want the perfect screen.

Samsung PR was very quick to offer a test, but the logistics of setting up (and returning) are just horrible for a home. I will replace my existing TV eventually, but I can't do what I do with other tech. Replacing a smartphone takes only minutes, replacing a TV is a nightmare for me. I need to think this through.

19 Nov 07:48

Apple Delays HomePod

by John Voorhees

Apple issued an official statement to TechCrunch and other news outlets today saying that the release of the HomePod would be delayed until 2018. Originally announced at WWDC in June with a promised ship date of December 2017, Apple’s statement says the HomePod will be released in ‘early 2018,’ and the smart Siri-enabled speaker will be available initially in the US, UK, and Australia.

The full text of the statement made to TechCrunch is as follows:

“We can’t wait for people to experience HomePod, Apple’s breakthrough wireless speaker for the home, but we need a little more time before it’s ready for our customers. We’ll start shipping in the US, UK, and Australia in early 2018.”

Support MacStories Directly

Club MacStories offers exclusive access to extra MacStories content, delivered every week; it's also a way to support us directly.

Club MacStories will help you discover the best apps for your devices and get the most out of your iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Plus, it's made in Italy.

Join Now
19 Nov 07:48

“A Path That Leads to Failure”

by Federico Viticci

Jony Ive, talking about the removal of the Home button on the iPhone X in an interview with TIME:

How does Apple decide when it’s time to move on? It’s not a decision to get rid of an existing technology as much as it’s a willingness to accept that what’s familiar isn’t always what’s best. “I actually think the path of holding onto features that have been effective, the path of holding onto those whatever the cost, is a path that leads to failure,” says Ive. “And in the short term, it’s the path the feels less risky and it’s the path that feels more secure.”

As someone else put it 7 years ago – “sometimes you just have to pick the things that look like they’re going to be the right horses to ride going forward”.

→ Source:

19 Nov 07:48

Apple Encourages Developers to Update to watchOS 4

by John Voorhees

In a short note to developers on its Developer News and Updates site, Apple is encouraging developers to:

Take advantage of increased performance, new background modes for navigation and audio recording, built-in altimeter capabilities, direct connections to accessories with Core Bluetooth, and more. In addition, the size limit of a watchOS app bundle has increased from 50 MB to 75 MB.

The carrot of new functionality comes with something of a stick as well. After April 1, 2018, watchOS 1 app updates will no longer be accepted and all updates must be native apps built with the watchOS 2 SDK or later. New app submissions must be built with the watchOS 4 SDK.

Support MacStories Directly

Club MacStories offers exclusive access to extra MacStories content, delivered every week; it's also a way to support us directly.

Club MacStories will help you discover the best apps for your devices and get the most out of your iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Plus, it's made in Italy.

Join Now
19 Nov 07:48

Apple Fixes iPhone X Bugs with the Release of iOS 11.1.2

by John Voorhees

Not long after the iPhone X was released, there were reports that the screens of the devices became unresponsive when the temperature dropped rapidly. That issue along with ‘an issue that could cause distortion in Live Photos and videos captured with iPhone X’ were fixed in iOS 11.1.2, which was released a short time ago.

iOS 11.1.2 can be downloaded by going to Settings ⇾ General ⇾ Software Update.

Support MacStories Directly

Club MacStories offers exclusive access to extra MacStories content, delivered every week; it's also a way to support us directly.

Club MacStories will help you discover the best apps for your devices and get the most out of your iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Plus, it's made in Italy.

Join Now
19 Nov 07:47

Focos: Powerful Depth Image Controls in a Fun Package

by Ryan Christoffel

The iPhone's camera has long been one of its most important features. Every year when new models are introduced, it's a sure bet that camera improvements are part of the package. Last year that remained true, but it also proved an even more special year for the iPhone's camera setup. The introduction of dual rear-facing cameras with Portrait mode was something different – pictures no longer just looked a little better than on older iPhone models, they looked almost professional-quality.

This year, whether you picked up a new iPhone or not, Portrait mode is a better feature than before. Part of this is due to software improvements in iOS 11, but another key benefit is that third-party developers now have access to the depth information in Portrait photos. For the first time, Portrait images taken with the iPhone can be edited and enhanced in unique ways, and Focos is a new app that takes full advantage of that opportunity.

Focos serves both as a camera and an editing app. You can take Portrait-style photos with it, but you can also edit all Portrait photos taken on an iOS 11 device. While I've tried several other apps that specialize in editing depth data in photos, Focos is easily the most powerful and intuitive.

My favorite feature in Focos is the ability to easily change the focus point in Portrait photos. The effect is similar to what I've seen with Lytro cameras. All you have to do is tap the portion of the image you want in focus, and a shift will take place – the area you selected will come into focus, and the rest of the image will receive a blur effect. This works in real-time with images you take inside of Focos, but it also works with all existing iOS 11 Portrait photos in your library. It's a remarkable feature I'm planning to put to use any time my first attempts at capturing a Portrait image don't turn out perfect.

Like the simplicity of selecting a new focus point for photos, Focos' full editing mode is similarly easy to navigate, as there are only two primary settings to adjust: Aperture and Diaphragm. The former will adjust the blur level in your image so it can be more or less blurred to your liking, while the latter adjusts the shape of that blur effect. This is where another piece of Focos' uniqueness comes in. The app includes standard shape variations like circles, octagons, and more, but there's also a section of fun shapes you can use like stars, hearts, and even things like the Apple logo. The effect is subtle, and in most cases you have to be looking for it to see what difference it makes, but it's a fun way to add extra flavor to your photos.

If you want to tweak things outside of the simple Aperture and Diaphragm settings, you can do that, but Focos doesn't require it. The bulk of what you'll need most of the time lies behind those two simple settings. I do want to mention one more feature that's fun to play around with though: Effect mode. Tapping this option at the top of the screen will display your image in a 3D view powered by all the depth data embedded in the photo. You can pan around, adjust the bokeh, and see your image from a different perspective. If anything, it's worth trying just to marvel at all the depth information captured in a single photo.

Focos is the most fun I've had editing photos shot in Portrait mode. It's easy to use, with an intuitive layout of controls and a handy set of simple video tutorials to accompany each tool. Plus, the power behind the app is impressive, allowing you to adjust focus in an image with a simple tap, or see all the depth data in the 3D Effect mode. If you have an iPhone that can take Portrait photos, Focos is definitely worth checking out.

Focos is available on the App Store.

Support MacStories Directly

Club MacStories offers exclusive access to extra MacStories content, delivered every week; it's also a way to support us directly.

Club MacStories will help you discover the best apps for your devices and get the most out of your iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Plus, it's made in Italy.

Join Now
19 Nov 07:46

The “Third World” Is Not Your Classroom


Courtney Martin, Bright, Medium, Nov 19, 2017


This is an interesting and well-written article discussing the interactuon between young American university students and the developing world (though of course the observations apply more broadly). The thesis is that when these students come to 'help', they bring with them their own expectations, culture and epistemology, and are often, first, shock, and second, less than helpful. What is required, writes the author, is a clear setting of expectations by the organizers, and greater humility on the part of the students. It's an old message, but it's a good reminder for everyone (including me). Be sure to read the comments; there's a lot more good stuff in there and a minimum of trolling.

[Link] [Comment]
19 Nov 07:46

How to Automatically Generate Textual Descriptions for Photographs with Deep Learning


Jason Brownlee, Machine Learning Mastery, Nov 19, 2017


OK, you're not actually going to learn how to do this simply by reading the article, but you will learn how it's done, and more importantly, that it can be done. The task breaks down into three parts: classifying images (do you see a cat, a rabbit?), describing images (providing a natural language summary of the content), and annotating images (generating text descriptions for specific parts of the image). So basically we're associating object recognition with language strings (in English, in French, whatever). Going further, the neural networks can act as feature extractors, which map images to "an internal representation of the image, not something directly intelligible." Language generation algorithms, coder-decoder algorithms, and an attention mechanism mechanism round out the picture. It's pretty interesting.

[Link] [Comment]
19 Nov 07:46

The field of AI research is about to get way bigger than code


Dave Gershgorn, Nov 19, 2017


Lots of movement on the algorithmic accountability front (this is the idea that companies need to be able to explain, and be accountable for, conclusions their software draws about people). According to this article, Kate Crawford, principal researcher at Microsoft Research, and Meredith Whittaker, founder of Open Research at Google, "announced today the AI Now Institute, a research organization to explore how AI is affecting society at large. AI Now will be cross-disciplinary, bridging the gap between data scientists, lawyers, sociologists, and economists studying the implementation of artificial intelligence.” We've been hearing this idea, in this article and elsewhere, for example from Cathy O’Neil in the New York Times, that there's no academic reserach being done in this area. But as pointed out in this Chronicle article, "the piece ignored academics and organizations that study the issues.” Said Siva Vaidhyanathan, on Twitter, “There are CS departments and engineering schools that take this very seriously. MIT, Harvard, UVA, CMU, Princeton, GaTech, VaTech, Cornell Tech, UC-Irvine, and others all have faculty and programs devoted to critical and ethical examination of data and algorithms.” 


[Link] [Comment]
19 Nov 07:46

The Dangers of Tweeting at Conferences


Noah Berlatsky, Chronicle of Higher Education, Nov 19, 2017


At my conference presentations I have the option of using my own backchannel system to allow attendees to use my interface, or a Twitter interface, to post comments in real time. Here's an example of it at work. There are two key differences between my system and the system described in this article, where conference organizers show a Twitter stream behind the speaker. First, I can see the comments in real time, and respond to them directly. Second, I am in control; I can turn off Twitter, and I can turn off the system entirely. This is not to excuse the harassment of women speakers in conferences where Twitter is used. There's no excuse for it, and the attackers should be ashamed of themselves. Putting the speaker in charge of the response, though, goes at least some way toward redressing the power imbalance.

[Link] [Comment]
19 Nov 07:46

Tim Berners-Lee on the future of the web: 'The system is failing'


Olivia Solon, The Guardian, Nov 19, 2017


It's way too late for those who argued against the commercialization of the internet to say "I told you so." Though they could. We now need to ask the same questions about the education system. By way of context, here is Ttim Berners-Lee on the current state of the web: "“The system is failing. The way ad revenue works with clickbait is not fulfilling the goal of helping humanity promote truth and democracy... We have these dark ads that target and manipulate me and then vanish because I can’t bookmark them. This is not democracy – this is putting who gets selected into the hands of the most manipulative companies out there.”

[Link] [Comment]
19 Nov 07:45

Ohrn Image — A New Casino

by Ken Ohrn

Reflections on a busy waterway.  A warm departure from the usual green glass and concrete.

19 Nov 07:45

Unfolding the Future: Autonomous Lanes

by pricetags

Despite all the talk (and hype) about autonomous vehicles arriving in our cities in the next decade, the problem is not so much technology as humanity.  Regulating the complex, messy spaces of a dense urban environment will also require preventing human beings from doing silly things outside the vehicles and on the streets, where they can’t be rationally programmed.  (Yes, I’m thinking of you, cyclists, who will more than ever be able to go wherever they want without fear of distracted or crazy drivers.  How long will it take the AV lobby to want to prohibit any user on the road that isn’t also rationally programmed?)

So where could AVs go now that provides exclusivity for vehicles, and physically prevents other users from sharing the space?  Why, freeways of course.  And that’s already occurred to proponents around the world, including some nearby.

From Curbed:

There’s no question that self-driving vehicles are the future. But Seattle-based venture capital firm Madrona Venture Group is hoping to get the jump on the autonomous car future by proposing one of the country’s first dedicated self-driving car lanes, running along I-5 between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Madrona envisions the lane completing over the next 5 to 15 years, starting with introducing autonomous cars into the HOV lane. Eventually, the lane would be entirely reserved for self-driving vehicles. …

Connecting these two centers with a dedicated autonomous vehicle lane would improve the link between the cities while costing significantly less than a proposed $30 billion high speed train line.

There’s another reason why these kind of proposals could be pushed forward aggressively: they would allow the elimination of truckers (the most common job in many U.S. states.)  That’s a huge economic incentive, regardless of the political pushback – and the single jurisdiction of most interstate freeways would make it easier to do it.  But again, it’s not the ability to invent and manage technology that matters as much as adapting and managing the humans.

19 Nov 07:45

Are Cars the New Smoking?

by Ken Ohrn

Digital positive from celluloid negative.It took decades to move the conversation on smoking, but now it is pretty much a social faux pas to light up. Once, it was the epitome of in-crowd behaviour and carried a certain sophistication.

Will we ever get there with cars? We are, it seems to me, right in the middle of the process now.  And despite progress, the outcome remains uncertain.

An article in the Oxford Academic Journal of Public Health, published in 2011, introduces the topic this way.

Caution:  no words are minced in these paragraphs.

Results:   Private cars cause significant health harm. The impacts include physical inactivity, obesity, death and injury from crashes, cardio-respiratory disease from air pollution, noise, community severance and climate change. The car lobby resists measures that would restrict car use, using tactics similar to the tobacco industry. Decisions about location and design of neighbourhoods have created environments that reinforce and reflect car dependence. Car ownership and use has greatly increased in recent decades and there is little public support for measures that would reduce this.

Conclusions:   Car dependence is a potent example of an issue that ecological public health should address. The public health community should advocate strongly for effective policies that reduce car use and increase active travel.

19 Nov 07:45

The Case for SkyTrain and Longer Weekend Hours

by Sandy James Planner

There are two things that make a great city public transit system exceptional-having an accessible, clean transit system (preferably with washrooms)  and having that easy to use system operate throughout the night. Chicago, New York City, Barcelona, London and Paris do offer some rapid transit 24 hours a day.

But not Vancouver, and that fact makes it very hard for people leaving the downtown late, especially with the shortage of available taxis. BCTV disclosed that after all the years that TransLink said that it could not run a system late, surprise! Now they say they can, suggesting that SkyTrain may be able to run longer, “at least on weekends…The surprising revelation came from Matt Doyle, director of railway infrastructure, who oversees the overnight track maintenance that ensures trains can operate on schedule come rush hour.”

The public is normally told that maintenance crews need access to rails and switches to perform inspections and repairs at night. But since trains start service later on Saturday and Sunday mornings, the opportunity exists to run SkyTrain longer into the previous evenings. “Obviously 24-hour service or late-night service is successful around the world, so it is feasible,” Doyle said. “We don’t know what that would look like; it’s something that would require a significant amount of time, effort, planning and investment.”

That is good news as TransLink has always been positional about not offering late night service using the track maintenance excuse. However there was no comment on how Detroit, which has the same trains as TransLink, maintains service until 2 in the morning with no detrimental impact to needed track maintenance. And TransLink keeps trains runing during snowstorms to keep the tracks clear  Of course offering longer transit service will increase costs, but it would also keep night-time workers and  partiers going home on a safe reliable service. And that is how longer rapid transit  hours shape a city by offering more sustainable transportation at times when people need and use it.

19 Nov 07:45

Daily Scot – Seattle Congestion Pricing

by Scot Bathgate

I came across this live traffic report on KIRO 7 Seattle the other morning.  What stuck out besides the brutal traffic congestion and commuting times was the traffic reporters advice to avoid it.  See if you can pick it out in the video below:


What she is referring to are the Interstate 405 express toll lanes between Bellevue and Lynnwood which bypass Seattle on the region’s suburban Eastside.  Hotlanes as they are sometimes referred to are designated HOV or Express lanes rate adjusted depending on traffic congestion, the worst the traffic the more the single occupancy driver is charged for the right to use them.  The charges are levied via a transponder in the drivers car.



Could we use these “Hot Lanes” on our roadways?   More on the 405 express lanes and others in the Puget Sound region from the Washington State Department of Transportation website here.

2017-11-14 19.41.31
19 Nov 07:45

Public Transit & Washrooms~Why Can’t We Have Both?

by Sandy James Planner


People in Canada have become used to the fact that a lot of our public realm often does not include a washroom. Price Tags Vancouver is using the Canadian term for that room that includes a toilet and a sink. This room is called a “rest room” in the United States, but it serves the same purpose-it’s a place that all humans need to use, and use more frequently as humans get older.  So why have we not been installing these necessary facilities, especially near our rapid transit or heavily used bus corridors, especially for an aging population that relies on transit as a major mode of transportation?

Kudos to the City of Vancouver’s Seniors Advisory Committee who are pushing for TransLink to install accessible public washrooms in all new stations, and in the Millennium Line Broadway Extension. As Glenda Luymes outlined in the Vancouver Sun  the lack of washrooms even drew the ire of the Raging Grannies who were in town to protest something else a few years back, but developed a special song about the lack of rapid transit washroom services. They sang that song in front of  Waterfront Station.

Seniors’ Advisory Committee Chair Colleen McGuiness stated “It’s beyond short-sighted not to put them in. Loneliness and isolation are a concern for seniors, and a lack of public washrooms on transit routes is a factor in that.” 

Oddly enough the renovated SkyTrain stations on the Expo line have space and are prepped with plumbing for washrooms, but TransLink won’t be  reporting  on  washroom availability until next year.  Issues will include the cost of maintenance, security, and sanitation. But if Edmonton, Toronto and Paris can provide washroom facilities at some stations, surely Vancouver can as well.  You can take a look at this older copy of The Buzzer that provides a chart of which transit systems have washrooms. This TransLink newsletter from 2011 also asks  “I’m curious what Buzzer readers think about the issue. Is adding more washrooms to the system important to you? If so, how do you think they should be implemented, and by whom?”




19 Nov 07:45

Dockless Bikeshare: Pitfalls and Promise

by pricetags

From Planetizen:

App-driven bikeshare, without the station, has been spreading rapidly, especially in China. But the system comes with its share of problems, including its own version of the tragedy of the commons.

With two Chinese companies leading the charge, dockless bikeshare is popping up in cities the world over. New York City, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. are all experimenting with the technology. But there are potential pitfalls. Dominic Rushe writes, “Unlike docking rental services, which require bikes to be returned to a fixed docking station, you can leave your ride wherever your journey ends, practically. And therein lies the problem.”

Large-scale dockless bikeshare is vulnerable to vandals and thieves, and legitimate riders have little reason to treat the ubiquitous bikes well. “In China, where there are some 16 million shared bikes on the street and MoBike alone now has over a million, the authorities have been forced to clear up ziggurats of discarded bikes.”

It’s another iteration of the tragedy of the commons. “With bikes literally littering the street, riders become less mindful of how they treat the bikes and where they leave them when there is always another to pick up.”

U.S. operators are keen to “maintain decorum.” Meanwhile, “DC’s dockless bike experiment is a beta test designed to run through April next year. It seems to be working beautifully. The city already has close to 4,000 docked bikes serving two million-plus riders a year with its Capital Bikeshare system.”

19 Nov 07:13

Twitter Favorites: [marksiegal] All these tweets about a daily podcast are making me really tempted to have mine be weekly instead of every other w…

Mark Siegal @marksiegal
All these tweets about a daily podcast are making me really tempted to have mine be weekly instead of every other w……
19 Nov 07:10

Dueling Camera Apps

I got a Pixel 2, largely because it’s said to have a really great camera, with software-driven magic — machine learning at work. Here are two shot comparisons between the Google and Lightroom Android camera apps to see what that means in practice.

Why Lightroom?

Given a choice, I prefer the Lightroom app to Android’s. It has better, more intuitive ergonomics, including a level; makes the phone feel more like a camera. Also, you can edit in the Android version of Lightroom, which has basically the same controls as the desktop version I live in. Also, it shoots and edits DNG “RAW” files. Finally, anything you don’t erase is synced through the Adobe cloud and is auto-magically there in my Mac Lightroom’s “All synced photos” collection. (Yes, even in the Lightroom CC Classic version.) Not only that, but when I edit it on the Mac, the edits are synced back to the phone, so I can show people the improved versions while we’re having lunch. A pretty sweet package, all things considered.

There is a fly in the ointment. The Lightroom app’s pix’s names may end with “.dng” but if you’re used to the massive depth of the files like the ones I get from my Fujifilm XT-1, where you can pull lost beauty out of darkness or dazzle, you’ll be disappointed. Sure, you can pull the “Highlights” slider down or the “Shadows” slider up, and it sort of works, but not like with real camera files.

When it doesn’t matter

These days all cameras are great, given enough light and an appropriate subject. I’ve pretty well totally stopped using the 10-24mm wide-angle with the big camera because my phone is basically Good Enough.

So if we’re going to compare these apps meaningfully, we need to work with hard-to-take pictures that stress out the sensor; the most obvious examples are low light and high contrast.

Well, in November in the Pacific Northwest there really isn’t that much high contrast, but we got plenty of low light. I tried for a different kind of high contrast anyhow like so.

Vancouver night street scene Vancouver night street scene

I’m going to call this one pretty well a wash. The Android-camera version achieved slightly sharper focus, but that’s not really the point in an impressionistic piece like this. What’s significant is that I had to put in a couple minutes photo-editing on the Lightroom DNG to get it to look as good; the sky had a bit of grey luminance noise and the whole scene leaned yellow. Having said that, I like photo-editing.

Oh, I didn’t say, did I? It’s Lightroom above, Android below.

So what the Android camera is doing here is taking whatever comes off the sensor, putting it through a little photo-editing session right there on the camera, giving me a JPEG, and saying, in effect, “don’t bother your pretty little head about how I got this.”

Finally, I’m usually really happy with Lightroom’s photo-export software, but in this case both pix lost some life, in particular in the trolley-wire sparkles and taillight reds. I’m going to have to try some new tricks.

Also worth noting: These are not terribly difficult or challenging for the sensor: The objects in the picture are pretty well self-illuminating.

When it matters

Here’s a hard one, our new calico cat, asleep on the sofa after a hard night of watching Star Trek Discovery with Mom & Dad. This is a softly-lit book-lined room with black furniture and a dark floor. And, in this case, Android pretty well wiped the floor with Lightroom.

Cat, by Lightroom Cat, by Android Camera

Once again, Lightroom above/Android below. That Lightroom version has been heavily edited, and it’s still not close. The Android version has truer colors, better focus, and less noise. I’m seriously impressed with whatever is going on inside that app.

You know, when you look at the two of these side by side in Lightroom on my 15" Retina Mac screen, it’s like night and day. But as I look at the 720-wide presentation here in the blog draft, I wonder if the differences really matter.

More on the Android app

It’s nice, but trying too hard. No, I don’t want a little slab of video prepended to my photos so they shimmer into place (and can’t be edited). No, I don’t want color-balance modes, since the ML seems to get that right.

Also, since everything is apparently auto-magically cloudified, there ought to be an easy/automatic way to get the full-rez versions of the pix out of the cloud and into Lightroom, but I haven’t found it yet. For the moment, I share from the phone to Dropbox, and Lightroom is happy pulling from there.

Also it’s dumb that I have to switch apps to edit the photo I just took, and then the editing controls are all presets and oversimplification. Having said that, the app has a Chromecast button, which is super nice.

What next?

For shots that don’t challenge the camera, I’ll go on using Lightroom; it’s a better shooting experience and better integrated with my workflow. When it gets tricky, I’ll bring that Android ML to bear.