Shared posts

21 May 14:38

Minuteman Bikeway Mini-Vacation (Alewife to Bedford via Lexington)

by Halley Suitt Tucker

Minuteman Bikeway Mini-Vacation

There is so much to see along the Minuteman Bikeway which runs between the Alewife T through Arlington, past Lexington then all the way into Bedford, please plan a trip soon. Start by looking at the Bikeway maphere.

A view from the Minuteman Bikeway

No bike?  If you love to walk, you might try grabbing a cab or 62/76 bus to Lexington Center and walking back towards Alewife. 

Need to Rent a Bike?  Check out the Bike Stop in Arlington Center (literally has a back door on the Bikeway) or Bedford’s Bikeway Source which is at the very end of the bikepath.

Have a Bike and a Car? You might want to drive to Lexington Center and park behind CVS or Starbucks (1465 Massachusetts Ave) since that parking lot borders right on the Bikeway. The parking meters require quarters and mostly give you two hours from M-Sat. No need to pay for parking at all on Sundays. 

Take Your Bike on the T and Buses:  All you need to know about that here.  MBTA and Bikes

Shorter mini-vacation:  If you only have an hour or two and mostly want to ride your bike, start at Alewife, pedal to Arlington Center where the Bikeway crosses Mass Ave, grab a coffee (or pastry or lunch) at Kickstand Café.  If you still need lunch as you come into Arlington Heights (see the Trader Joes and Starbucks signs and stairway), try D’Agostino’s Deli where the Special Sub of the day is around $6.00 and the locals who run it are terrific.  Then ride on to Lexington and swing by the Ride Studio Café for your afternoon tea or coffee.

Longer mini-vacation:  Leave Alewife and head for the Arlington Lexington line where you’ll find an authentic French cheese and creperie store called MA France.  The owners François and Cecile Attard are from the Perigord region and everything about them and the store is very French. Since they are across the street from Berman’s Liquors you might want to do a bread cheese and wine picnic at the place off the bikepath right near their shop. Bring a blanket if you want to just sunbathe on the grass. (The photo in this post is very close to their shop, on the Bikeway.)

Ride into Lexington Center and past the stores (CVS, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts) a few blocks towards the Minuteman Statue and then you'll see Buckman’s Tavern (painted yellow on the left) where our forefathers and mothers were drinking and hanging out when they heard the British were coming. Well, that's not really what they heard.  Take the tour and you’ll learn what all insiders know, the cry was “the Regulars are coming!” since the British soldiers were part of the “Regular Army” in those days.

Walk your bike back through the center of Lexington to the RideStudio Café where serious cyclists meet serious caffeine. More details on this amazing place at the link above. 

Keep Going or Go Back: At Lexington, you can ride further away from Boston towards Bedford (adds about an hour to your trip if you're a fast rider). The path is in deep woods, green and quiet for the most part and ends at the great Bikeway Source bike store.  Or, if you need to get back to Alewife, head the other way and make a stop at Wilson Farms when you get to Pleasant Street. This is a garden and gourmet grocer where you can get a range of prepared foods, whole fruits and vegetables and enjoy seasonal events like hayrides in fall and Farm Tours in spring and summer. 

Bring the Kids: If your kids are riding with you and you're fine with them eating sweets, don’t miss Candy Castle in Lexington near the Minuteman Statue where you can get gelato as well.  As for ice cream, Rancatore’s(corner of Mass Ave and Waltham St.) in Lexington Center is not to be beat.  A great lunch place (but closed Sundays) is Via Lago next to Candy Castle. Their cold case has pasta salads and other treats, and they make sandwiches and hot lunch to order.

One last thing: We know it's officially called the "Bikeway" but most of us locals call it the Bike Path. So if you get lost and ask where it is, say "bike path" or nobody will know what you're saying. 

Bikeway Map:

Bike Stop

Ride Studio Café

Via Lago


Candy Castle

Wilson Farms


MA France


Kickstand Café

Historic Lexington:

21 May 15:28

Possibility of development over the rail tracks downtown arises, while ex-planners group fights for public space there

by Frances Bula

The tussle over the waterfront hub continues. That is the piece of land that sits between the old train station and The Landing, which Cadillac Fairview wants to develop an office tower on. It’s also meant to be the gateway to a new piece of the downtown that the city has envisioned creating by extending Granville Street (yes, means blowing up the parkade) and the downtown edge to north of the train station.

As you’ll recall, there was a lot of debate over the design and size of the origami tower that Cadillac’s architects proposed late last year.

The re-design for that is apparently coming back in June, according to general manager of planning Brian Jackson. But those who aren’t happy about the way the city is approaching the whole area have decided to take the matter into their own hands. This group, many of them ex-senior city planners, have written their own report (see below) about what needs to be re-considered in this area, complete with references to all existing policies on density, road creation and the rest.

At the same time, Greg Kerfoot, who owns the rights to all the airspace over the tracks from Granville Square to Main Street, has perked up and taken an interest in this area again because of the debate over the tower. If he and Cadillac could work together, people are saying, there’s a possibility the Cadillac tower, which is squished up against the train station at the moment, could be repositioned to a better spot, more public space for looking out over the harbour could be created, and maybe Kerfoot would be inspired to start developing on his air parcel. (My recent story on all of the above is here.)

This will be an interesting saga.

The report from the ex-planners’ group

Waterfront Issues Draft Paper May 20 2015-2


21 May 13:45

CFP: Cameras and Justice

by cyborgology

cameras and justice

Dear Cyborgology Readers, we want you to write for us!! In our first ever thematic CFP, we invite guest posts about Cameras and Justice. This theme is broad in scope and we encourage you to put your own spin on it.

If you have an idea, pitch us. If you have a full post, send it our way. We will be taking submissions on this theme until mid June.

Posts are generally between 500-1500 words. Authors should write in a clear and accessible style (think upper-level undergraduate or well read non-academic). We welcome traditional text based essays, image based essays, and art pieces.

To get the brain juices flowing, here are a few pieces on Cameras and Justice from the Cyborgology team:

Cameras on Cops Isn’t the Same as Cops on Camera

ACLU Mobile Justice App: Channeling Citizen Voices

Sousveillance and Justice: A Panopticon in the Crowds

Surveillance from the Clouds to the Fog

Other riffs on this theme could include children’s privacy, tourism, unsolicited dick pics, structural oppression aided by the rhetoric of authenticity, and much, much more.

For submissions, questions, and proposals, email co-editors David Banks ( and Jenny Davis ( using the subject line “Cameras and Justice.”

Remember that Cyborgology (for better or worse) is an all volunteer effort and we cannot pay for writing.



Headline Pic: Source

21 May 17:18

Imgur teases redesigned Android app, available on June 2nd

by Ian Hardy

Imgur is a well-known source for crass and funny images, and GIFs that often go viral. The site has increasingly become the go-to image upload service for Reddit users around the world. The company released its Android app almost two years ago, and is now teasing an upcoming redesign, which is scheduled to come to Google Play on June 2nd.

The company notes on its site that they know the current Android app “has serious issues,” and says that they are working on launching a fully native app. The GIFs shown reveals an intuitive UI and the added ability to read comments, upvote, favorite and “do all that other stuff you like to do [on Imgur].”

21 May 00:00

'Hack or be hacked': Why kids need to know how technology works


Jesse Hirsh, CBC, May 22, 2015

Whose responsibility is it to prevent hacking and to promote security? I have two stories in my inbox today -  this one and  this one - that suggest it's the user's responsibility. In one, " Jesse Hirsh makes the case for a deeper understanding of technology as a civic duty. He says 'hack or be hacked.' The choice is yours." The rest of the story is an advertisement for Kano, a $150 computer that you build yourself. In the other story, we are told "End users are widely seen as a weak link in the enterprise security chain." The argument is that employees should receive security training. Maybe. But end users are the "weak link" because they're trying to get their job done, whether than means teaching 6-year-olds or writing reports. Network security is often a problem they need to overcome, rather than a shield that protects them. There needs to be some accord here.

[Link] [Comment]
21 May 15:30

Power of the reveal

by Nathan Yau

Hannah Fairfield, who does graphics at the New York Times, talks about using visualization to show specific narratives. Something more than just "here's some data."

Tags: Hannah Fairfield, lunch talk

21 May 17:46

Cyclists are 40 per cent less stressed than other commuters

by pricetags

Only 40 percent?  


From the Telegraph:

Researchers at the Stanford Calming Technology Lab analysed the data produced by 1,000 commuters over 20,000 commutes on Spire, a wearable monitor that tracks heart rate and the amount and depth of breaths you take every minute.

They found that commuters who relied on motorised transport displayed shallower breathing in the hour after their commutes than their cycling colleagues.

Shallow breath and a raised heartbeat are typically identified as signs of stress. “It’s particularly interesting to see that many people don’t transition back into the home after a long day of work very well,” Neema Moraveji, co-founder of Spire and head of the Calming Technology Lab, told BikeBiz.

“By biking to work we know that the physical nature of cycling and physical exertion will engender a more calm and focused state of mind. So while being good for us physically, we also see lots of psychological and emotional benefits.”

21 May 17:47

SFU Downtown: Upcoming Events of Interest

by pricetags

Everything Will Be | Film Screening And Discussion

This feature documentary by Sundance award-winning director Julia Kwan captures the subtle nuances of a culturally diverse neighbourhood — Vancouver’s once-thriving Chinatown — in the midst of a transformation that plays out across many ethnic enclaves in North America. The community’s oldest and newest members offer their intimate perspectives on the shifting landscape as they reflect on change, memory and legacy. Night and day, a neon sign that reads “EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT” looms over Chinatown. Everything is going to be alright. The big question is — for whom?


Tuesday, May 26

7 pm

Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema, Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 West Hastings St.

Free. No registration required.



Getting More with Less from the Grid: Innovations in Energy Demand Management 

Recent statistics show that an average Canadian resident uses over 300 gigajoules of energy each year, equivalent to more than 50 barrels of crude oil. That’s twice the amount as in Japan and many European countries with comparable standards of living. Among the suite of solutions is better managing energy demand, whereby incentives and technologies are put in place to optimize energy consumption, by matching real-time grid supply with usage data and managing peak demand. The May 2015 GTEx Forum will feature insights from energy researcher Dr. Eric Mazzi and energy solution companies EnerNOC, Enbala, and SHM Controls, on effective and practical developments in energy demand management.


Wednesday, May 27: 

5 pm

Room 1400, Harbour Centre, 515 West Hastings Street

Free with registration.



 Shaping Vancouver | What Is Neighbourhood Character?

 In this panel, speakers explore the hot topic of neighborhood character in Vancouver. What features give areas their distinctive character? How can we balance heritage conservation with other community and financial interests? How can we ensure new development is responsive to the neighbourhood context? A general discussion with the audience follows and at the end, everyone will be invited to submit feedback on the evening’s topic to the consultants leading the Heritage Action Plan.


Wednesday, May 27

7 pm

Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre, Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 West Hastings Street

Free with registration.



Warren Gill Lecture – Beyond Architecture as a Commodity: Adding Value through Urban Design

As half the world’s population urbanizes by 2050, new cities spring up instantly, often indistinguishable from each other. Buildings are designed as mere commodities, containers for habitation, or icons for vanity. As technology allows almost any form of buildings to dizzying heights, starchitects are sought to create iconic statements or tourist attractions — stand-alone objects without regard for their context or relationships to each other.

Architect James Cheng looks back in order to look forward — and adds his perspective to this urgent dialog.


Thursday, May 28

7 pm

Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema, Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 West Hastings Street

Free with registration.



21 May 18:04

An Internet of Things version of Android could be shown at next week’s Google I/O

by Igor Bonifacic

Android M may not be the only version of Android we see at next week’s Google I/O. According to a report from The Information, Google is creating an operating system specifically tailored to work with a variety of small Internet-connected devices that it will unveil at its annual developer conference.

Codenamed Brillo, the operating system is reportedly being developed by a team within the company’s Android division, and is part of Google’s Internet of Things (IoT) play.

The report doesn’t go in to detail describing what Brillo will look like, though it does say that at launch it may not look like a traditional operating system that can run apps and services. In part, this is because the system is designed to function with as little as 32 or 64 megabytes of RAM, a far cry from the 512 megabytes smartphones need to run Android.

Of course, Google is not the only company attempting to take advantage of the huge opportunity the Internet of Things represents. Last week, Microsoft announced that Windows 10 will have an IoT component.

In 2014, Cisco published a report that said there are now more things connected to the Internet than there are people in the world. At the time, the company estimated that the emerging IoT market would be worth $19-trillion USD by the end of 2022. Canada is expected to see $500-billion of that market.

21 May 00:00

The K12 Education Market


Rachel Norris, PILOTed, May 22, 2015

Short article making the impoirtant point that the K-12 education market is a complex array of interplaying forces, including several levels of government, corporations, lobbyists, school boards, and finally, teachers and children. If anything, I think the diagram under-represents the complexity of the market. The diagram is focused on the U.S. system but I think that the schooling system in other markets is no less complex. This diagram helps us understand why reform in education is so difficult - it means aligning a wide variety of agencies, many of which are working to serve particular outcomes and interests.

[Link] [Comment]
21 May 19:00

Android 5.1.1 factory images for the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 are now available to download

by Igor Bonifacic

A trickle of 5.1.1 updates for Google’s Nexus devices has turned in to a flood.

Starting today, most Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 owners should see a prompt telling them that they can update their device to Android 5.1.1.

However, for the impatient, Google has already uploaded factory images of the update to their website.

Google began the rollout of Android 5.1.1 with its Nexus Player before bringing the update to the Nexus 10 at the end of April. Last week, the Nexus 9 received the update, as well. With the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 receiving 5.1.1 this week, the last remaining recent Nexus device still on Android 5.1.0 is the Nexus 6.

Grab the factory images from Google’s developer website.

21 May 17:28

"Capitalism has always destroyed the thing it needs the most - Carl Cederström and Peter Fleming,..."

Capitalism has always destroyed the thing it needs the most - Carl Cederström and Peter Fleming, Dead Man Working

— Stowe Boyd (@stoweboyd) May 21, 2015
21 May 21:20


by russell davies

"Is it time to start talking about a public media for the internet? To start imagining structures within which at least nominally independent media can preserve itself?"



21 May 20:27

Mark Gurman on Dual-App Viewing Mode Coming to iPad

by Federico Viticci

I don't usually write about rumors, but the latest report from Mark Gurman on dual-app viewing mode possibly coming to iPad with iOS 9 is too exciting for me to resist a link.

Gurman reports:

Sources now say that Apple plans to show off the side-by-side feature for iOS 9 using currently available iPad models. The latest plans suggest that the split-screen mode will support ½, 1/3, and 2/3 views depending on the apps. When split, the screen can either display two different apps side-by-side, or multiple views of the same app. This would enable iPad users to see two separate Safari tabs, or compare a pair of Pages documents at the same time. Sources are quick to warn, however, that the feature could still be pulled before next month’s conference, as additional polish would be needed to bring it to the same level as other features that will be making their way into the first iOS 9 beta next month

A new multitasking experience for iPad was one of my big wishes for iOS 9. I had, however, many questions and doubts about the implementation of flexible split-screen on the current generation of iPads. Here's what I wrote:

My issue with requesting a new multitasking experience is that I don't know if it would be possible to make one that doesn't put too much stress on the user. I think that I'd like the ability to see parts of two apps at once, but what if there simply isn't a way to make that work well? What happens when you bring up two apps that require keyboard input – how do you understand which app you're typing into if you have one keyboard and two apps? Can two apps receive touch input simultaneously? Can you open two camera apps at once? What about audio output? I'm not sure why anyone would want to do that, but, in theory, should you be able to run two games at the same time? Would this new mode only work in landscape?

Gurman's report doesn't have any details on how this mode would actually work. How would you activate a second app – with a gesture or a special menu inside apps? Will developers get new tools to optimize their apps for new iPad layouts? Will apps be able to invoke specific apps programmatically (could it be this 'app links' API mentioned in the WebKit source code)?

As I concluded last month, the iPad needs new multitasking features. I'm curious to see what Apple does.

∞ Read this on MacStories

21 May 17:05

Beer and Tell – May 2015

by Michael Kelly

Once a month, web developers from across the Mozilla Project get together to organize our poltical lobbying group, Web Developers Against Reality. In between sessions with titles like “Three Dimensions: The Last Great Lie” and “You Aren’t Real, Start Acting Like It”, we find time to talk about our side projects and drink, an occurrence we like to call “Beer and Tell”.

There’s a wiki page available with a list of the presenters, as well as links to their presentation materials. There’s also a recording available courtesy of Air Mozilla.

Groovecoder: WellHub

Groovecoder stopped by to share WellHub, a site for storing and visualizing log data from wells. The site was created for StartupWeekend Tulsa, and uses WebGL (via ThreeJS) + WebVR to allow for visualization of the wells based on their longitude/latitude and altitude using an Oculus Rift or similar virtual reality headset.

Osmose: Refract

Next up was Osmose (that’s me!), who shared some updates to Refract, a webpage previously shown in Beer and Tell that turns any webpage into an installable application. The main change this month was added support for generating Chrome Apps in addition to the Open Web Apps that it already supported.

This month’s session was a productive one, up until a pro-reality plant asked why we were having a real-life meetup for an anti-reality group, at which point most of the people in attendance began to scream uncontrollably.

If you’re interested in attending the next Beer and Tell, sign up for the mailing list. An email is sent out a week beforehand with connection details. You could even add yourself to the wiki and show off your side-project!

See you next month!

21 May 22:24

The Crunch: Growth, productivity, high housing costs … and transit

by pricetags

Janis Magnuson asks: What do you think a similar analysis would find in Canada/Vancouver?

By Richard Florida, from CityLab.


The Urban Housing Crunch Costs the U.S. Economy About $1.6 Trillion a Year

For the first time, economists have put a price tag on restrictive urban land use policies.


While we know that cities and metro areas contribute massively to economic growth—the nation’s 380 plus metro areas generated $14.6 trillion in GDP in 2012, about 90 percent of the total—we know a great deal less about which factors limit the growth of cities and metros. …

The dearth of affordable housing options in superstar cities like New York, San Francisco and San Jose (home of Silicon Valley) costs the U.S. economy about $1.6 trillion a year in lost wages and productivity, according to a new analysis from economists Chang-Tai Hsieh of the University of Chicago and Enrico Moretti of the University of California at Berkeley.

… the economists’ research examines the geographic allocation of workers across the United States, and tests the following proposition: What might happen if workers were free to move to the cities and metros with the most robust economies, where they could be most productive, thus fueling even greater productivity and growth for the U.S. economy as a whole? To get at this, Hsieh and Moretti develop a number of alternative scenarios based on the ability of workers to move to and settle in these highly productive metros. The exercise leads to several intriguing findings.

… they find that roughly 75 percent of the nation’s economic growth between 1964 and 2009 came from a relatively small group of Southern metros and 19 other large metros. Even though superstar metros like New York, San Francisco, and San Jose created great wealth in sectors like finance and high-tech, nearly all of those gains were eaten up by the wages used to pay for higher housing costs.  …  As the authors point out, “the main effect of the fast productivity growth in New York, San Francisco, and San Jose was an increase in local housing prices and local wages, not in employment.” …

The crux of the economists’ analysis is their models, which create an “alternate universe” where workers can move freely to where they can contribute the most to the U.S. economy. They note the substantial wage differentials between the superstar cities of New York, San Francisco and San Jose and others over the past half-century. To correct for this, their models essentially reallocate workers in today’s economy according to the prevailing wage back in 1964. Based on this, they find that employment in New York would increase by nearly 800 percent, while it would grow by more than 500 percent in San Jose and San Francisco. …

How to begin to fix the problem? Here the authors offer a welcome corrective to the naïve notion promoted by too many urban economists that simply loosening housing restrictions and overcoming urban NIMBYism will magically solve the problems of America’s superstar cities.

Moretti and Hseih rightly point out that a big part of the solution lies in transit. As I have long argued, transit is a key part of the great reset required for our current era of knowledge-based capitalism.

Transit can work on two levels. Within metros, it can more seamlessly connect suburban areas to the more clustered urban core, enabling workers to commute from greater distances while also spurring denser clustering and development along transit corridors. And it can help stretch labor and housing markets across metros, creating more economically functional mega-regions. …

Moretti and Hsieh’s study reminds us of the enormous costs of trying to run the powerful, highly clustered new economy on the platform of our outmoded suburban, industrial model. Unleashing the productive power of this new age requires a spatial fix based on transit-based infrastructure and a more flexible housing system. Without that, as Moretti and Hsieh so pointedly remind us, we will continue to squander this country’s productive potential, its economic performance and, critically, our overall well-being.

21 May 21:29

John Gruber on the Apple Watch Interaction Model

by Federico Viticci

Watch mode is where you take quick glances at information and notifications; app mode is where you go to “do something”. Watch mode is where most people will spend the majority — perhaps the overwhelming majority — of their time using Apple Watch. App mode is a simple one-level hierarchy for “everything else”.

John Gruber has a good analysis of the Apple Watch interaction model and the differences between the watch face and the app screen.

I've been reading a lot of comments on the Watch OS hierarchy and I've (obviously) been using my Apple Watch as much as possible for a variety of tasks and scenarios.

The more I read and try, the more I don't understand the criticism of those who claim Apple Watch should work like an iPhone. Yes, the multiple functions of the Digital Crown can be confusing initially, and I imagine that eventually there will be settings to customize what the side button does. But to argue that clicking the Digital Crown should always go back to the watch face seems shortsighted to me. There's a benefit in having an easy way to open/go back to the app screen to quickly do stuff with apps, and it will be even more obvious once a native SDK and faster apps become available.

∞ Read this on MacStories

22 May 00:42

It's Good To Be Hated

by Richard Millington

First the establishment ignores you, then it hates/mocks you, then it tolerates you, and then you become the establishment.  

If you find a lot of people in your sector hate or mock your community, you’re halfway there.

Be more worried if people ignore you. 

22 May 01:12

The First Photograph John T. Daniels Ever Took Was One of History’s Most Famous

by Rex Hammock

I’m reading (and listening to) David McCullough’s wonderful new book, The Wright Brothers.

This isn’t a review, as I’ve only read about one-third of the book. But I’ve read enough to know that anyone who has ever has faced adversity and challenge and ridicule will recognize something familiar in the story. These brothers were from Dayton, Ohio, and funded the venture themselves. And besides, everyone know that no one would ever fly. Why? Because all of the big thinkers of the day said so.

The American press had absolutely no interest in — nor belief in — the Wright Brothers. No one believed they had flown at Kitty Hawk or had continued to fly when they got back to Dayton. Who “broke” the story? A beekeeper with a “blog.”

From a Nova episode on the Wright Brothers, comes this explanation:

Almost as astonishing as the fact that a pair of bicycle shop owners invented the airplane is the fact that the first accurate reporting about some of their earliest powered flights appeared not in the New York Times or Scientific American but in an obscure journal for beekeepers. How did this happen? For one thing, the Wright Brothers were publicity shy and fiercely secretive about their invention and did not invite reporters to witness their historic first flights. For another, the press and the general public had a cried-wolf-too-often dismissiveness about any claims to have achieved sustained flight. In the end, however, it really came down to the fact that A. I. Root, who wrote three entries about the Wrights’ accomplishments in his journal Gleanings in Bee Culture in 1904 and 1905, happened to be at the right place at the right time, with a burning fascination for what the “two Ohio boys” were up to.

And if that’s not enough, the story behind the photo of the first flight. Equally amazing. From Wikipedia:

John T. Daniels had never seen a camera prior to using the Gundlach Korona view camera with a 5-by-7-inch glass-plate negative to take the famous photo. The plate was not developed until the Wright brothers returned to Ohio. The camera was owned by the Wright brothers, who were careful to record the history making moment, and also to preserve a record for any future patent claims.

This is a great book, but for reasons I wasn’t expecting.

21 May 19:00

No Magic

I spent a couple days this week in eastern Washington State with a lot of senior Amazon engineers, all trying to discern and inscribe coherent form on the roiling surface of global-scale cloud tech. This piece is here so I can publish one pretty picture and four wise words about what it means to be an engineer.


We were in a session about a piece of software, starting to roll out internally, that might help address pain points we expect to become unbearable, assuming that AWS and Amazon grow to many times their current size.

Andrew was leading; someone spoke up, asking “And what if I need to do that 500,000 times a second?” Andrew nodded, face creasing, then began: “Obviously, there’s no magic…” More nods all around the room.

Children, religionists, and junior engineers are prone to believe in magic. And of course we’ve all heard Clarke’s Third Law, about what any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from.

But engineering veterans, every one of them, know there isn’t any. Which is why you have to sweat the details if you want to do anything half a million times a second. I think perhaps that’s what, as much as anything, defines us.

Having said that, around sunset I was in a place with a view when a veil of rain blew across in the medium distance. The camera had the thirty-year-old Pentax 50mm F1.4 portrait lens screwed on; not really an obvious choice for shooting mountains.

Western Washington sunset

As close as I’ll ever get to magic.

The lens was along so I could take ambient-light portraits, which obviously I can’t run here. That’s a pity; the faces are intelligent and quite thoroughly lived-in, full of stories.

22 May 05:29

Undercover UberX

by Matt

Emily Guendelsberger went undercover as an UberX driver in Philadelphia and wrote about the experience, particularly the economics of it. It’s a pretty fascinating and gripping longread, both in its content and it’s just well-written.

22 May 05:49

Past the “Peak Telephony” In Germany

by mobilesociety

Recently, Dean Bubbley has written an interesting blog post about how most industrial nations are beyond “peak telephony”, i.e. the number of voice minutes in fixed line and mobile networks combined is decreasing. When the German regulator published its report for 2014 a couple of days ago I had a closer look here as well to see what the situation is in Germany. And indeed, we are clearly past peak telephony as well.

And here are the numbers:

In 2014, fixed line networks saw 154 billion outgoing minutes in Germany which is 9 billion minutes less than last year. On the mobile side they've been observing an increase of 1 billion minutes. In total that's 8 billion minutes less than the previous year, which is about -3%. The trend has been going on for quite a while now. In 2010, combined fixed and mobile outgoing voice minutes were at 295 billion compared to 265 minutes in 2014. That's 11% less over that time frame.

A question the numbers can't answer is where those voice minutes have gone. Have they been replaced by the ever growing traffic of instant messaging apps such as Whatsapp or have the been replaced by Internet based IP voice and video telephony such as Skype? I'd speculate that it's probably both to a similar degree.

22 May 00:00

Recommended on Medium: "The Web is the network" in the #indieweb

22 May 07:01

Rise of data art

by Nathan Yau

Data art is on the rise. Jacoba Urist for the Atlantic gets into the beginnings and its current prevalence.

Art is a constant march of expansion, according to Harvey Molotch, a professor of sociology and metropolitan studies at New York University, whose research includes the sociology of art. Pop art incorporated comic books and ordinary soup cans. Edvard Munch's expressionist painting, The Scream captured the anxiety and isolation of modern life. "Now there's the digital self, the newest kid on the block and so of course, artists are there," he explained. "Art and environment are very much in cahoots."

A lot of good stuff and worth the read.

Although I'm not sure about the categorization of data artists in either the scientific data arena or quantified self one. I'm pretty sure it's a much wider and continuous spectrum.

Tags: Atlantic, rise

22 May 00:00

Here’s the difference between research and innovation


Richard Mackenzie, University Affairs, May 22, 2015

As Canada's Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada  announces the recipients of "$28 million in job-related training for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows" a Quebec physicist takes to the pages of University Affairs to criticize the agency's new focus on 'innovation' as opposed to 'discovery'. "I have a very different view, one that I suspect is shared by many, if not most, of your clients: that discovery, rather than being a component of research, IS research, while innovation is a completely different activity, one largely concerned with taking scientific discoveries and other ideas and developing useful products out of them."

[Link] [Comment]
21 May 13:01

Father Recreates Famous Photos with His Daughter

by Ryan Fritzsche

Brooklyn photographer Marc Bushelle and his wife, Janine, didn’t anticipate the overwhelming attention they would receive when they first had the idea to feature their 5-year-old daughter Lily portraying photos of iconic African-American women.

“It was pretty much just for us. We never imagined that we’d be sharing [this series] with the world,” Marc told The Weekly Flickr.

The Black Heroines Project began as a way to help Lily learn about African-American women whose strength and courage have made a difference in the world. “When people talk about black history, there is a list of names they rattle off. But we wanted to cover women that were not normally at the tip of people’s tongues,” Marc explains.

So they began creating portraits of Lily dressed as lesser-known but important trailblazers such as Bessie Coleman, the first black female airplane pilot; Mae Jemison, the first black woman astronaut and the first black woman to travel to space; and Admiral Michelle Howard, the first woman to become a four-star admiral in the U.S. Navy.

Lily as Mae Jemison
Lily as Admiral Michelle Howard

The process for selecting who to honor usually starts with a conversation between Marc and Janine, but always moves quickly to research that includes Lily. “We watch films. We listen to the music, if they are in that field,” Marc says. After Marc finds the photo to recreate, Janine often makes the costumes, and Lily contributes too. “For the Shirley Chisholm shoot,” Marc says, “Lily actually helped to paint the ‘Wow’ sign in the back.”

Lily as Shirley Chisholm

As can be expected of a little girl, Lily has a short attention span, but Marc and Janine always make sure she has fun. “She really enjoys dressing up. It’s hard to get her out of the costume after the shoot,” he says. But the experience is not only fun for Lily; it’s also educational. “I think she also really likes learning about these different heroines. It’s incredible to hear her mention one of them in passing, you know, just in a regular day.”

In addition to helping Lily cultivate a sense of self-worth and learn about her heritage, the Black Heroines Project has gone viral. Marc’s photos have been featured in dozens of media outlets around the world, and the project has garnered the support of celebrities such as ballerina Misty Copeland and entertainer Queen Latifah, who are featured in the series.

Lily as Misty Copeland
Lily as Queen Latifah

As the support has poured in, the Bushelles have been inspired to broaden the series to include notable women of all races. “Malala was a no-brainer,” Marc says, describing their portrait of Lily as the 17-year-old Pakistani activist and youngest-ever Nobel Prize-winner. Another recent addition to the series is the humanitarian Mother Teresa.

Lily as Malala
Lily as Mother Teresa

For Marc, it all comes back to family and building a legacy for Lily. “To be able to work with Lily to produce these photos, and have other people enjoy them,” he says, “is something that she can look back on… and cherish throughout her life.”

Lily as Nina Simone

Visit Marc Bushelle’s Photostream to view more of his work.
Previous episode: Mother of 10 celebrates every day with photography

WeeklyFlickr LogoDo you want to be featured on The Weekly Flickr? We are looking for your photos that amaze, excite, delight and inspire. Share them with us in the The Weekly Flickr Group, or tweet us at @TheWeeklyFlickr.

21 May 07:01

Testing broken computer colors

by Nathan Yau

Color spaces

Computers can calculate an infinite number of colors, but our brains can only process and see so much. This is why color spaces are important in visualization. Your code might dictate different shades, but they might look the same when you look at the visual.

And it's why Scott Sievert explored the various spaces and provides an interactive for comparing various shades.

We see that certain color spaces are constrained by device limitations (RGB, HED). We see that other color spaces emphasize the pigments (HSV) or other elements like additive/subtractive color (LUV, LAB). We see that certain color spaces play nicely with addition and perform a smooth gradient between the two colors (XYZ, RGB2 aka the method described above).

Tags: color

20 May 18:35

Webcasting Open Courses: A Brief (Berkeley) History

A couple of weeks ago, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that the University of California Berkeley will no longer post video recordings of its lectures to YouTube and iTunesU. The decision was framed in terms of “budget challenges” with a note that, as a partner with edX, Berkeley instead intends to pursue “open education” via MOOCs. (They’re “more effective,” the article argues.) The university will continue to record its classes as it currently does, but starting in the fall, that content will only be available to students on campus.

UC Berkeley has uploaded thousands of hours of videos and audio to YouTube and iTunesU, but its efforts to share lecture materials openly on the Internet predate both of those. Indeed, I’d argue that UC Berkeley played an important role in the development and legitimization of educational webcasting and podcasting, influencing the efforts of Google and Apple in supporting and distributing that very content.

UC Berkeley developed a technical infrastructure to record and broadcast content 20 years ago. The Berkeley Internet Broadcasting System (BIBS) was a lecture-capture and webcasting system developed by the Berkeley Multimedia Research Center, which itself was founded in 1995 and run by Larry Rowe. Here’s an early history of BIBS, excerpted from a 2001 report:

The Berkeley Internet Broadcasting System (BIBS) offers live webcasts and on-demand replay of class lectures using streaming media (i.e., audio, video, and presentation material) on the Internet. We began Internet webcasting of the weekly Berkeley Multimedia, Interfaces, and Graphics (MIG) Seminar in January 1995. After webcasting this seminar for several years and experimenting with different technologies, lecture webcasting of regularly scheduled classes began in Spring 1999. As more experience was gained with this technology, and in response to student and faculty demand, the system was scaled up each semester. Fourteen and fifteen classes were webcast in the Fall 2000 and Spring 20001 semesters, respectively, including several large introductory courses (e.g., Biology 1B, Chemistry 1A, Classics 28, Computer Science 61A and 61B, IDS 110, Nutrition Sciences 10, and Physics 8A and 8B) and small upper division and graduate engineering courses.

The recordings were streamed online, accessible via a program guide that showed the entire course schedule. Lectures were available live or on-demand. Clicking on a link in the program guide launched a video player, and the Berkeley Multimedia Research Center also developed software that allowed lectures to be synchronized with other presentation materials from class (PowerPoint slides, for example).

As that 2001 report notes, only about 5–10% of classrooms on the Berkeley campus were set up with the equipment for live-streaming lectures. The recording process involved both the live-streaming as well as videotaping (used in case something went wrong with the former). A database system was built to manage the recording process, including detailed information on class meeting days and times so that the process of webcasting could be automated. (That is, staff time was spent on other tasks, not on taping.)

(I love the clipart here)

From that 2001 report:

BIBS allows a start and end time to be entered for each lecture because the actual time the speaker begins and ends a lecture can vary. The lecture replay starts and ends at the times specified rather than at the beginning and end of the captured material so that when a student asks to watch a lecture, it starts when the speaker begins the class.

The BIBS system was eventually rebranded to webcast.berkeley, and the number of courses that were recorded and shared online continued to expand.

In 2005, Obadiah Greenberg (disclosure: my friend), who’d been hired in 2000 to manage the BIBS program, began attending podcasting meetups in San Francisco and experimenting with streaming audio of classes on webcast.berkeley. During the 2005–2006 Winter Break, Barix audio streaming devices were installed in classrooms, which meant that many more courses could have their materials recorded and broadcast. Expanding the automated video-streaming infrastructure, webcast.berkeley was rebuilt to automate audio capture and streaming of courses and to distribute these recordings as podcasts. When the spring term started in January 2006, UC Berkeley launched a fully automated system to provide open access course podcasts.

Berkeley wasn’t the first US university to make course content openly available online, of course. MIT famously kicked off its open courseware initiative in 2001, posting syllabi and course materials on the Web. Nor was Berkeley the first to experiment with recording lecture content at an institutional level. Duke University (also famously) gave its incoming freshmen 20 GB Apple iPods and Belkin voice recorders in the fall of 2004, encouraging students to record their courses for themselves. And Stanford University announced at an alumni event in the fall of 2005 its plans to make “Stanford-related audio content,” including materials restricted solely to Stanford students and podcasts from football games, available through iTunes.

And ah, that Stanford-Berkeley rivalry… A few months later, in April 2006, UC Berkeley responded with its own iTunes initiative. “Berkeley on iTunes” was unveiled, with all the content available to students and to the general public – and here’s a great quote from Greenberg: “As a public university, UC Berkeley has a tradition of openness.”

In September 2006, the university announced “Berkeley on Google Video.” And this was a genuine “first” – the first school to have its own page on the Google Video website. Less than two weeks later, it’s worth noting, Google signaled its interest in the rapidly growing area of online video content by acquiring a little startup called YouTube. (By the end of the year, incidentally, Obadiah Greenberg was also working at Google – first for Google Video and then for YouTube, where he later helped create YouTubeEDU.) Berkeley was also the first university to have a branded channel on YouTube and the first to offer serialized courses there.

20 years of history, and a long-running effort to make UC Berkeley content available online to the public. And now?

Here’s webcast.berkeley’s official announcement regarding “Changes coming to Webcast Classroom Capture in Fall 2015”:

Beginning Fall 2015, ETS will make key changes to our Webcast service in order to reduce service costs and enable us to maintain a lecture capture service focused on students:

We will no longer make recorded lecture videos available to the public

We will make recorded lecture videos available to enrolled students via CalCentral and bCourses

Existing lectures up to and including those recorded during Spring 2015 will remain available at public distribution channels

Currently, ETS provides Webcast Classroom Capture as a common-good service in over 50 of our general assignment classrooms. For the past 20 years, recorded lecture videos have been available to students as well as the public. In more recent years the Webcast Classroom Capture program has broadened the window of access into UC Berkeley's intellectual riches through distribution partnerships with YouTube and iTunes U. Each year we capture and publish nearly 4,500 lecture videos and each video requires an average of 15 minutes of staff time to prepare for public distribution.

In consideration of the current state of our budget, we have chosen to reduce spending by no longer making Webcast Classroom Capture videos available to the public. By transitioning to this student-only lecture capture service capture we will continue to provide a valuable study resource to our students and garner significant cost savings. Resources will be reallocated toward mission-critical activities that support teaching, learning, and research at UC Berkeley.

The recording infrastructure stays in place, but the lecture content is now officially proprietary and closed to the public. And according to The Chronicle, UC Berkeley will save $300,000 per year by not publishing its lecture content publicly on iTunes or YouTube. For what it’s worth, the cost of developing a MOOC? Anywhere between $38,980 to $325,330 per course.

And the history and the recognition of the contributions made by those who built and expanded BIBS? The commitment as a public university to openness? I hope there's a record somewhere, right?

21 May 12:16

"If you were at Apple, nobody would say, ‘Let’s relaunch the iPhone 6.’ People would laugh, and say..."

“If you were at Apple, nobody would say, ‘Let’s relaunch the iPhone 6.’ People would laugh, and say that’s crazy. But that’s what happens in the fashion industry. If you keep competing with generic products, and a higher and higher discount, you’re going to lose. If Apple doesn’t continuously refresh its products and make them current, they’re dead. And that would happen here as well.”

- Stefan Larsson, the head of Old Navy, on turning the retailer around.
21 May 12:42

WebRTCHacks Publishes Analysis of Facebook and WhatsApp Usage of WebRTC

by Dan York
WebrtchacksThe team over at webrtcH4cKS (aka "WebRTCHacks") have been publishing some great articles about WebRTC for a while now, and I thought I'd point to two in particular worth a read. Philipp Hancke has started a series of posts examining how different VoIP services are using WebRTC and he's started out exploring two of the biggest, Facebook and WhatsApp, in these posts:

Those articles are summaries explaining the findings, with much-longer detailed reports also available for download:

Both of these walk through the packet captures and provide a narrative around what is being seen in the discovery process.

A common finding between both reports is that the services are not using the more secure mechanism of DTLS for key exchange to set up encrypted voice channels. Instead they are using the older SDES mechanism that has a number of challenges, but, as noted by the report, is typically faster in enabling a call setup.

All in all the reports make for interesting reading. It's great to see both Facebook and WhatsApp using WebRTC and I think this will only continue to help with the overall growth of WebRTC as a platform. As an audio guy, I was pleased to see that Facebook Messenger is using the Opus codec, which is of course the preferred codec for WebRTC... but that doesn't necessarily mean that it has to be implemented by companies using WebRTC within their own closed products. Kudos to the Facebook team for supporting Opus!

Thanks to Philipp Hancke for writing these reports and I look forward to reading more in the series!