Shared posts

22 Apr 18:27

HBO says it will terminate the HBO Now accounts of Canadians who use a DNS or VPN service to access the app

by Igor Bonifacic

It’s not easy being a Canadian Game of Thrones fan.

Right now, the only way to legally watch the hit TV show online is through Bell-owned TMN Go (or its partners), which requires a monthly subscription to a cable or satellite provider like Bell, Shaw, Cogeco or Rogers.

HBO’s exclusivity with Bell is the main reason so many Canadians have turned to domain name system (DNS) and virtual private network (VPN) services in an attempt to access HBO Now, the over the top streaming service the company unveiled at Apple’s recent Apple Watch event.

Currently, Canadian consumers can access HBO Now by creating an American iTunes account to download the app. Once the app is installed on their iOS device or Apple TV, they can sign up for a 30 day trial account. A VPN or DNS geo-unblocking service is then required to mask one’s IP address while using the app. After the 30 day trial is done, an American credit card is also required to continue using the service.

It’s a lot of work, but then Canadians are used to jumping through such hoops to access American television content.

However, HBO appears intent on preventing Canadians from accessing its content in this way, even though many of them have already paid for the service.

In an email obtained by the Financial Post, HBO tells individuals that used a DNS or VPN service to create an HBO Now account that it will terminate their account without issuing a refund.

“It has come to our attention that you may have signed up for and viewed video content on the HBO NOW streaming service from outside of the authorized service area (the United States, including D.C. and certain US territories),” says the email the Financial Post obtained. “We would like to take this opportunity to remind you that the HBO NOW streaming service is only available to residents of the United States, for use within the United States. Any other access is prohibited by our Terms of Use.”

HBO will likely never come to Canada, since all licensing for its content goes through Bell, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Have you received an email from HBO, threatening to terminate your account? Tell us in the comments.

20 Apr 02:41

MetaFilter favorites: MeFi: We put a chip in it!

It was just a dumb thing. Then we put a chip in it. Now it's a smart thing.
22 Apr 13:10

The sad state of sysadmin in the age of containers

by briantrice

RT @raganwald: “Stack is the new term for "I have no idea what I'm actually using.’”

22 Apr 22:13

Jony Ive on Apple Watch, Working with Marc Newson

by Federico Viticci

Vogue's Scarlett Kilcooley-O'Halloran, quoting Jony Ive from today's Condé Nast International Luxury Conference in Florence, Italy:

“I think that we're on a path that Apple was determined to be on since the Seventies, which was to try and make technology relevant and personal. If people struggle to use the technology then we have failed,” said Ive. “The consequences of that path? I don't know. Sadly so much of our manufactured environment testifies to carelessness - something that was built to a price point or a schedule. The products that we have developed describe who made them. I hope that people will like the watch and find it a beautiful item.”

∞ Read this on MacStories

21 Apr 16:01

Spring updates to CC Photography

by Sharad Mangalick

The Photography team is proud to share the latest updates available to you in the Creative Cloud Photography. Starting with last year’s Lightroom mobile launch on iPad, we outlined a vision for a connected photographic workflow that allows you to create, access, organize, edit and share your photos from all of your devices. You provided lots of feedback on both the vision and our strategy and I’m happy to announce that we’ve made substantial improvements to Lightroom across all your devices that help you organize, edit, and share your photos in a fast, easy way with the highest quality.

Today we’re happy to announce a major update to Creative Cloud Photography, with a brand new version of Lightroom on the desktop and updates across all pieces of the Lightroom ecosystem.

Lightroom CC on the desktop

  • HDR Merge: Create natural-looking or surreal images from extremely high-contrast scenes. Using HDR merge, you can easily combine multiple shots taken with different exposure settings into a single high dynamic range image. Click here to learn more.
  • Panorama Merge: Stitch together multiple images, including raw files, to create stunning panorama shots. Click here to learn more.
  • Performance Improvements: Get more done, faster. Lightroom takes advantage of compatible graphics processors to boost its overall speed, especially in the Develop module.
  • Facial Recognition: Easily find and organize photos of family and friends with new Facial Recognition features in Lightroom CC. Click here to learn more.
  • Advanced video slideshows: Combine still images, video and music with professional effects like pan and zoom. Click here to learn more.
  • Filter Brush: Precisely control which parts of your image are affected by the Graduated or Radial filters. Now you can use a brush to edit the filter’s mask, adding or subtracting filter effects wherever you want.

Lightroom on mobile

  • Android Tablet Support: Previously only available on Android phones, now you can sync, edit, organize and share on Android tablets as well.
  • Native DNG support on Android: Android 5.0 (aka “Lollipop”) now allows you to shoot photos in raw, and saves them as DNG files. You can now import those DNG files directly from your Android device.
  • Android SD card support: You can now specify local storage to an SD card rather than internal device storage.
  • TIFF support on iOS: If you’re creating TIFF files on your iOS device, you can now import and edit them using Lightroom.
  • Improved crop experience on iOS: We simplified the number of tiles in our crop UI so you can now easily find aspect ratios, and we added an auto-straighten function, directly leveraging the Upright technology.

Sharing and storytelling options

  • Support for more apps and devices: Lightroom is now more easily integrated with other Adobe apps like Adobe Voice and Slate on your iPad. You can also now use Lightroom on more devices, including Android tablets in addition to iOS phones, tablets and Android phones.

New Camera Support

  • Canon EOS 5DS
  • Canon EOS 5DS R
  • Canon EOS 750D (Rebel T6i, Kiss X8i)
  • Canon EOS 760D (Rebel T6s, Kiss 8000D)
  • Canon EOS M3
  • Casio EX-ZR3500
  • Fujifilm X-A2
  • Fujifilm XQ2
  • Hasselblad Stellar II
  • Nikon D5500
  • Nikon D7200
  • Olympus OM-D E-M5 II
  • Olympus Stylus SH-2
  • Olympus Tough TG-4
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF7
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50 (DMC-TZ70, DMC-TZ71)
  • Samsung NX500

Tethered Capture Support:

  • Canon EOS 7D Mark II
  • Nikon D750

New Lens Profile Support

Mount Name
Canon Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM
Canon Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM
Canon Canon EF 24-85mm f3.5-4.5 USM
Canon Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro
Canon Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM
Canon Lomography Petzval 85mm f/2.2
Canon TAMRON SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD A012E
Canon SIGMA 24mm F1.4 DG HSM A015
Canon Venus Optics 60mm f2.8 2X Ultra-Macro Lens
DJI DJI Inspire 1 FC350
Leica Voigtlander LTM 28mm f/1.9 Ultron Aspherical
Leica Voigtlander LTM 28mm f/3.5 Color Skopar
Leica Voigtlander LTM 35mm f/1.7 Ultron Aspherical
Leica Voigtlander LTM 50mm f/2 Heliar
Leica Voigtlander LTM 50mm f/2.5 Color Skopar
Leica Voigtlander LTM 50mm f/3.5 Heliar
Leica Voigtlander LTM 75mm f/2.5 Color Heliar
Leica Voigtlander LTM 90mm f/3.5 APO Lanthar
Lecia Voigtlander VM 40mm f/2.8 Heliar
MFT Voigtlander MFT 17.5mm f/0.95 Nokton Aspherical
MFT Voigtlander MFT 25mm f/0.95 Nokton
MFT Voigtlander MFT 42.5mm f/0.95 Nokton
Nikon Lomography Petzval 85mm f/2.2
Nikon Nikon AF NIKKOR 14mm f/2.8D ED
Nikon Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II
Nikon Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED VR
Nikon Nikon NIKKOR 50mm f/1.2 AIS
Nikon TAMRON SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD A012N
Nikon Venus Optics 60mm f2.8 2X Ultra-Macro Lens
Nikon Voigtlander SL II 20mm f/3.5 Color-Skopar Aspherical
Nikon Voigtlander SL II 28mm f/2.8 Color-Skopar Aspherical
Nikon Voigtlander SL II 58mm f/1.4 Nokton
Pentax Venus Optics 60mm f2.8 2X Ultra-Macro Lens
Pentax SIGMA 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM
Sigma dp1 Quattro (*)
Sigma dp2 Quattro (*)
Sigma dp3 Quattro (*)
Sigma SIGMA 24mm F1.4 DG HSM A015
Sigma SIGMA 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM C015
Sony Alpha SIGMA 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
Sony Alpha TAMRON 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 DiII PZD MACRO AB016S
Sony Alpha TAMRON 28-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di PZD A010S
Sony Alpha TAMRON SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di USD A009S
Sony Alpha TAMRON SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di USD A011S
Sony Alpha TAMRON SP 90mm F/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 USD F004S
Sony Alpha Venus Optics 60mm f2.8 2X Ultra-Macro Lens
Sony E Sony FE 24-240mm F3.5-6.3 OSS
Sony E Sony FE 28mm F2
Sony E Sony FE 28mm F2 + Fisheye Converter
Sony E Sony FE 28mm F2 + Ultra Wide Converter
Sony E Sony FE 35mm F1.4 ZA
Sony E Sony FE 90mm F2.8 Macro G OSS
Sony E ZY Optics Mitakon Speedmaster 50mm f0.95 Pro
Yuneec CGO2gb

(*) Lens corrections for the SIGMA dp1, dp2,and dp3 Quattro cameras are for JPEG images only.

Minimum system requirements


  • Intel® or AMD Athlon® processor with 64-bit support
  • Microsoft® Windows® 7 with Service Pack 1, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1
  • OpenGL 3.3 and DirectX 10 capable graphics card for GPU related functionality
  • 2GB of RAM (4GB recommended)
  • 2GB of available hard-disk space
  • Internet connection required for Internet-based services†

Mac OS

  • Multicore Intel processor with 64-bit support
  • Mac OS X v10.8*, 10.9, or 10.10
  • OpenGL 3.3 capable graphics card for GPU related functionality
  • 2GB of RAM (4GB recommended)
  • 2GB of available hard-disk space
  • Internet connection required for Internet-based services†

* GPU functionality only available on Mac OSX 10.9 or 10.10

Supported File Formats

Important File Format Support Exceptions (Formats not supported)

  • PSD files saved without a composite image. (Saved without “Maximize Compatibility” setting)
    • Files with dimensions greater than 65,000 pixels per side


Complete Lightroom CC/Camera Raw FAQ

Q:  Is Lightroom still available as boxed software?

Yes, it is. However, the perpetual license doesn’t provide access to Lightroom mobile or Lightroom web.

Q: What are the minimum requirements for GPU support?

Minimum requirements are a graphics card that runs on OpenGL 3.3 and later. Please also ensure that your card is running the latest drivers. On Mac, you can do this by updating to the latest operating system updates. On Windows, please update by downloading and installing the latest drivers from your manufacturer’s website:

  • Nvidia:
  • AMD:
  • Intel:


22 Apr 08:46

Getting (and staying) in touch, S/S 2015

by AG

A quick note, prompted by my having logged into Facebook the other day for the first time in a few months and finding a pile of messages I hadn’t known were waiting for me.

This is just a reminder that I cannot be reached via Twitter or Facebook, at least in anything resembling real time; I just don’t see those messages. As ever, e-mail is the best way to get in touch with me if you need to.

Or, if you’re more interested in simply keeping a channel open, do feel free to sign up for my weekly e-mail dispatches, which go out every Sunday. See you around!

22 Apr 11:26

Adobe releases Lightroom 6, adds Android tablet support

by Igor Bonifacic

Adobe has updated Lightroom, its popular photo editing software.

Now in its sixth iteration, this new version of Lightroom brings with it greatly improved performance over its two-year-old predecessor. Adobe says that even older computers will benefit from the improvements it has made to Lightroom’s codebase. Additionally, those with 4K displays will also see performance improvements.

There are also several new editing tools to take advantage of as well, including new HDR and panorama merging kits, and smaller features like facial recognition also made the cut.

Of course, Lightroom is also available on iOS and Android devices, and while mobile specific improvements are a bit thin with this release, there are some features that on-the-go photographers will appreciate.

On the iOS side of things, there’s a new segmented view that can sort photos by date and copy and paste adjustments. There’s a also a new presentation mode, and improved crop support. Lastly, users can now sign up for Adobe’s subscription service straight from the iOS app.

Android specific improvements include DNG editing support on some Android devices with Lollipop. Additionally, the app is now able to access photos stored on a MicroSD card. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Lightroom is finally available on Android tablets.

Individual licenses of Lightroom can be purchased for $149. Adobe also provides the program to subscribers of its $9.99 per month Creative Cloud subscription service. Subscribing to Creative Cloud is the only way to access any of Lightroom’s photo syncing features, which allows users to look at, edit and share photos across different devices.

22 Apr 09:30

Color timeline for Avengers comic book covers

by Nathan Yau

Avengers comic book covers

The Avengers comic has been around since 1963 and the look and feel of characters have changed over the years. Jon Keegan for the Wall Street Journal looked at this change through color usage in the comic's covers.

A zoomed out timeline shows all the cover colors at once, the middle strip shows a zoomed in view, and a click on each row shows the full cover.

If you scan from 1963 down to the present, you can see a subtle shift from simple primary colors to a more complex palette.

However, there's a lot of variation on a cover-by-cover basis, and I'm not sure if I would pick up on the change if I didn't know what to look for. Maybe an annual aggregation to reveal more of pattern? I also expected to click the overview timeline or drag the highlighting square to quickly move through the covers, but you can only navigate by scrolling the page.

In any case, should be a fun browse for the comic book fans.

Tags: Avengers, color, comics, Wall Street Journal

22 Apr 13:36

Understanding Web Literacy within the Web Journey

by lauradereynal

Thinking out loud with Michelle Thorne, and posted on the Webmaker Blog.

Since 2012, pioneering educators and web activists have been reflecting and developing answers to the question, “What is web literacy?”

These conversations have shaped our Web Literacy Map, a guiding document that outlines the skills and competencies that are essential to reading, writing, and participating on the Web.

Just the other week, we wrapped up improvements to the Web Literacy Map, proudly unveiling version 1.5. Thank you to all who contributed to that discussion, and to Doug Belshaw for facilitating it.

We believe being web literate is not just knowing how to code in HTML, CSS, and Javascript. These are great tools, but they’re only one aspect of being a Web creator and citizen. Therefore, the updated Web Literacy Map includes competencies like privacy, remixing, and collaboration.

As we design and test offerings to foster web literacy, we are also determining how these skills fit into a larger web journey. Prompted by user research in Bangladesh, India, Kenya, and beyond, we’re asking: What skill levels and attitudes encourage people to learn more about web literacy? And how can one wield the Web after learning its fundamentals?

Mozilla believes this is an important question to reflect on in the open. With this blog post, we’d like to start a series of discussions, and warmly invite you to think this through with us.

What is the Web Journey ?

As we talked to 356 people in four different countries (India, Bangladesh, Kenya, and Brazil) over the past six months, we learned how people perceive and use the Web in their daily lives. Our research teams identified common patterns, and we gathered them into one framework called “The Web Journey.”

The Web Journey

This framework outlines five stages of engagement with the Web:

  • Unaware: Have never heard of the Web, and have no idea what it is (for example, these smartphone owners in Bangladesh)
  • No use: Are aware of the existence of the Web, but do not use it, either by rejection (“the Web is not for me, women don’t go online”), Inability (“I can’t afford data”), or perceived inability (“The Web is only for businessmen”)
  • Basic use: Are online, and are stuck in the “social media bubble,” unaware of what else is possible (Internet = Facebook). These users have little understanding of the Web, and don’t leverage its full range of possibilities
  • Leverage: Are able to seize the opportunities the Web has to offer to improve their quality of life (to find jobs, to learn, or to grow their business)
  • Creation: From the tinkerer to the web developer, creators understand how to build the Web and are able to make it their own

You can read the full details of the Web Journey, with constraints and triggers, in the Webmaker Field Research Report from India.

Why do the Web Literacy Map and the Web Journey fit together?

While the Web Literacy Map explores the skills needed, the Web Journey describes various stages of engagement with the Web. It appears certain skills may be more necessary for some stages of the Web Journey. For example: Is there a list of skills that people need to acquire to move from “Basic use” to “Leverage”?

As we continue to research digital literacy in Chicago and London (April – August 2015), we’ll seek to understand how to couple skills listed in the Web Literacy Map with steps of engagement outlined in the Web Journey. Bridging the two can help us empower Mozilla Clubs all around the world.

What are the discussion questions ?

To kick off the conversation, consider the following:

  1. Literacy isn’t an on/off state. It’s more a continuum, and there are many learning pathways. How can this nuance be illustrated and made more intuitive?
  2. How can we leverage the personal motivators highlighted along the Web Journey to propose interest-driven learning pathways?
  3. Millions of people think Facebook is the Internet. How can the Web Literacy Map be a guide for these learners to know more and do more with the Web?
  4. As web literacy skills and competencies increase throughout a learner’s journey, and as people participate in web cultures, particular attitudes emerge and evolve. What are those nuances of web culture? How might we determine a “fluency” in the Web?
  5. How does the journey continue after someone has learned the fundamentals of the Web? How can they begin to participate in their community and share that knowledge forward? How can mentorship, and eventually leadership, be a more explicit part of a web journey? How do confidence and ability to teach others become part of the web journey?

22 Apr 14:00

Launch of the Co-op Water Cooler.

by William

We are stronger together.

Co-op Water Cooler

We co-ops are a splintered bunch. Credit Unions tend to be isolated from the rest of the co-op world, food co-ops can be distinct from housing co-ops, who don’t know the electric co-ops, who don’t really interact with worker co-ops.

And yet society needs us. We are a big part of the solution to what ails our world of growing inequality, a polluted and warming environment, lack of access to local, healthy food, and jobs that don’t pay a living wage. And to transform our society to one that starts to heal these issues, we as cooperators need to be more connected. We need to learn from each other, engage, debate, discuss, and meet up.

So I am very exited to help launch the new Co-op Water Cooler. My hope is that this site can be part of the connectivity. I look forward to all the discussions we’re going to have with cooperators far and wide.

Hello and welcome!

22 Apr 12:00

Introducing FOLD, a new tool (and a new model?) for storytelling

by Ethan

This morning, Center for Civic Media at MIT is releasing a new publishing platform, FOLD. Alexis Hope (a Masters student in my lab) and Kevin Hu began working on FOLD when they were students in my class News and Participatory Media. The class asks students to take on a reporting task each week, using existing tools or building new ones to solve a particular challenge. FOLD was Alexis and Kevin’s solution to a challenge I put forward around writing “explainers”, articles designed to provide content for stories that give incremental updates to a larger story (and to develop an appetite for those stories based on deeper understanding of their significance.)

Alexis and Kevin took seriously an idea I put forward in the class – the idea of explainers with an accordion structure, capable of shrinking or expanding to meet a reader’s need for background information. Alexis and Kevin built a story that could compress into a list of half a dozen sentences, inflate to a six-paragraph essay, or expand further into a rich multimedia essay with maps, images and videos appearing alongside the text. The class loved the idea, and Alexis decided to take on developing the platform as her Masters thesis. Kevin continued collaborating with her while pursuing a different project for his thesis, and Joe Goldbeck joined the team as a lead developer.

FOLD Authoring preview from Alexis Hope on Vimeo.

What’s emerged after a year’s work is fascinating and full-featured tool that allows for a novel method of storytelling. Stories on FOLD have a trunk and leaves. The trunk is text, with a novel form of hyperlinks – instead of linking out, they link to cards that appear to the right of the trunk and show images, videos, maps, data visualizations. They can also contain other text or links to the web. This has the effect of encouraging massive linking within stories – rather than a link potentially leading someone away from your webpage, it builds a stronger and richer story on the site.

While I’ve had the pleasure of advising Alexis on her thesis, FOLD is emphatically not my project – had you asked me a year ago, I would have told you that the last thing the world needs is a new content management system. But it’s been fascinating to try writing on FOLD and discovering the ways in which it’s a tool I’ve wanted and needed for years. I often write posts with hyperlinks every other sentence and trust my readers to check those links to understand the whole story… while realizing, of course, that very few do. FOLD brings those references to the front, capturing some of your attention in your peripheral visionas you read the core, trunk text. It’s incredibly easy to add media to a story in FOLD, and I find that when I write on the platform, I’m far more likely to include rich imagery and video, which makes my stories visualizable and understandable in a very different way than blog posts.

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 1.11.58 PM

Alexis, Kevin and Joe are launching FOLD without a clear business model. I think that’s a good thing. I don’t think we know what FOLD is good for yet, and I think that’s exciting. It’s possible that FOLD becomes an alternative to platforms like Medium, a place that encourages people to write beautifully on a beautiful platform. Perhaps it becomes something like WordPress, which hosts content for millions of people as well as maintaining an incredibly robust platform for independent publishers. (Not only are we releasing FOLD as a platform, but as an open source codebase.) Maybe it’s a tool for a radically new form of writing, perhaps stronger for literary than journalistic writing. Maybe some of the ideas of the platform are adopted into other systems and the influence of Alexis, Kevin and Joe’s thinking spreads that way. We don’t know, and that’s exciting.

For me, personally, I’ve loved the experience of seeing something cool and potentially influential coming out of our lab that wasn’t my idea and which I’ve helped guide, but emphatically haven’t built. This feels like a shift in how I’m trying to work in the world, and one I’m starting to get comfortable with.

Like many people of my generation, I’ve changed jobs several times in the past twenty years. Rather than switching firms, I’ve also shifted careers, moving from a dotcom startup to founding an international volunteering agency, to academic research (and co-founding another NGO) and finally, at age 39, to teaching at the graduate level at MIT.

When you change careers, some skills transfer, and some don’t. The shift from research to teaching was far sharper than I’d expected. There’s an unkind saying, “Those who can’t do, teach.” I’d offer a rewrite: “Teaching well forces you to stop doing things, and focus on helping others do things.” I build less, and write less, than before I came to MIT. But I coach more, listen more, and I’m starting to love the experience of watching projects I help advise coming to life.

Glyph from Savannah Niles’s story about Cuba

One of the most beautiful stories I’ve seen produced with FOLD is “What You Need to Know About the Cuban Thaw”, written by Savannah Niles (also for my News and Participatory Media class.) The story is illustrated with animated, looping GIFs, produced with a tool Savannah has been building for her thesis called Glyph. I’m one of the readers on Savannah’s thesis, and while I’ve thought these images were very beautiful, I didn’t understand what they were for until I saw them in this story. They add a sense of motion and life to stories without interrupting the reading experience as videos end up doing. This experience of supporting work I don’t understand and then discovering why it’s important – with Glyph, with FOLD, with dozens of projects around the Media Lab and in my broader work on Civic Media – is one of the most exciting experiences of my career.

I hope you’ll give FOLD a try and help us figure out what it’s for. Let us know what works, what doesn’t, what you want and where you think the project should go.

22 Apr 14:15

CloudMade Opens Automotive Design Studio in Munich

by Olga Pogrebniak

We are very pleased to announce that our new design studio in Munich has officially opened its doors. Manuel Gattinger and Matthias Schmiedbauer will jointly lead the studio.

They bring with them deep expertise in key aspects of the Design Thinking process. Through CloudMade’s Design Thinking, the Munich team, along with the other CloudMade design studios, focus on the “why” as well as the “how” – applying strategic design skills at a high level to drive disruptive connected car innovations.


Manuel Gattinger comments: “We are both super excited to join CloudMade. Never before has the car industry been subject to so many fundamental changes than today. As digital technologies become more embedded into our everyday life, we need to figure out new ways to manage interactions between people and technology.” Matthias Schmiedbauer adds: “We like to make complex things simple – focusing on an intuitive experience rather than implementing a solution driven purely by technological and manufacturing concerns”.

During the last two years alone Matthias and Manuel have won over 35 awards – iF Awards, CES Innovation Awards and Red Dot Awards. Their portfolio includes a wide range of diverse projects and products. From creating the virtual showroom of the future for Audi City London (an approach so revolutionary that Audi’s sales have increased 70 percent compared with the traditional dealership that was previously located there), to the AKG K3003 or K550 to JBL Authentics and Pulse speakers.

Manuel and Matthias both graduated from Umea University in Sweden. Manuel holds a Master of Arts degree in Advanced Product Design and Matthias a Master of Arts degree in Industrial Design. Before joining CloudMade, they were part of the pioneering team that created Designit Munich, an international strategic design firm offering integrated strategic design and innovation services.

The two also spent 18 months in China to establish Harman Design Center – a multidisciplinary design studio embedded within the audio company’s base in Shenzhen, China. The user-centered design approach and the processes Manuel and Matthias established is key to the 61 design and innovation awards the Harman Design Centre has won since its opening.

Commenting on CloudMade’s growth, Juha Christensen, CEO of CloudMade, said: “We are very excited to expand our presence in Europe and have Manuel and Matthias join us. They are exactly what we need to strengthen our design team and continue to grow. They are talented. They are bright. We are lucky to have them on board – and so are our customers.“

22 Apr 15:25

Rooting for the small guy: Six months with the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact

by Daniel Bader

Where do you begin writing about a product that, an aberration today, was representative of the norm just two, three years ago? Simply, by explaining its objective benefits, despite the quickly-changing tide of consumer preference.

Even as smartphones have increased in size, human hands haven’t; there is a clear limit to the dexterity of the thumb, and despite attempts from clothing designers, only so much room in a pocket. With the average smartphone sizing rising to phablet proportions, making wearables like smartwatches more of a necessity than ever, it’s incumbent on us to find the best smartphone experiences for those not looking for the largest screens, without sacrificing much else.

With this in mind we take a look at likely one of the only tenable options for a user with this goal: the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact. With the arrival of the Xperia Z4, all eyes are going to be on Sony’s future, but its present is still intriguing, as much for its missteps as its accomplishments.


When I purchased the Xperia Z3 Compact back in November, shortly after its release in Canada, Sony was being torn apart, in myriad physical and psychological ways, by a hack that brought down its entire entertainment division. Shortly afterwards, at CES, Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai, admitted that the company has been going through a transitional phase, led less by traditional market leaders like mobile devices and more by its PlayStation and imaging divisions. Sony has been having a rough time of late, and its recent smartphones exemplify that struggle.

But what is to blame: consumer fickleness, or the company’s own inertia? Like HTC, Sony’s mobile devices have been stuck in what seems like a temporal design vortex, where innovation has become more about shaving millimetres using a sous knife rather than taking big chops at the meat of a problem. (That was a terrible analogy, my apologies.)


Is there a problem with Sony’s mobile products? Every generation gets thinner, lighter and more powerful, with the kinds of features that consumers, once in-hand, appreciate. I can only speak for myself, but the Xperia Z3 is a far better device than its predecessor, despite the lack of major enhancements. Sony’s update process exemplifies the type of phase-based planning that goes into creating smartphones these days, where commoditization has wrecked innovation. Phones are good enough, even at the low end, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to make nimble, large-scale changes in the high end.


That’s what I’ve been so impressed with the Xperia Z3 Compact. It does not sacrifice much for its size, and like a Muggsy Bogues actually uses it to its advantage.

I barely picked up the device for any length of time until recently, when it was updated to Android 5.0.2 Lollipop. Sony turned its disaster of a design language into something more akin to Google’s stock version of Android, making the product far more enjoyable to use in the process. It also enabled a critical feature for a phone with just 16GB of storage: the ability to move entire apps to external storage.

But let’s back up for a second. I needed to know whether the enjoyment of using the phone was just a side effect of having handled phablets for the past year or so, akin to a baseball doughnut lifted before an at-bat. I decided to pair the Xperia Z3 Compact with the reasonably-sized Galaxy S6, one in the right pocket, the other in the left, to determine which one felt more immediately enjoyable to use. Other than the occasional phone call and text message, both phones offered the same notifications and proffered the same apps and services.

For days I did this, switching up the device with others – iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, LG G3, OnePlus One, even Sony’s own Xperia Z3 – and, time and time again, I returned to the Xperia Z3 Compact. The benefit of being able to use the phone in its entirety, not just an approximation of it, with one hand, was revelatory. And it was only when opening up my ebook app, which was rare (I use a Kobo Glo HD to read books) that I felt constrained by the device’s screen size.


Then why has the industry formed the opinion that bigger phones are objectively better? Why has the “mini” brand become synonymous with compromise?

I think about the iPhone 6, and how Apple arrived at its 4.7-inch screen size. The company, which sold 75 million phones in the previous quarter, must have experimented with various dimensions and resolutions, but settled on the 4.7-inch 326 ppi panel for its best-of-both-worlds reality. But even the iPhone 6 poses a problem in the vertical: its home button necessitates a device that is both taller and slightly wider than the Xperia Z3 Compact, and its extremes are often difficult to reach without readjustment.

Sony also created a waterproof phone, which, during the recent rainy season, has been more than a little handy. I listen to music when I walk, and I walk a lot. Being able to replace the phone from my pocket without fear of injury is a tangible benefit; spilling Alfredo sauce on it, as I did while referring to a recipe this past weekend, was solved by a short salve under the sink.

The company also serves parts of the smartphone community that are traditionally undervalued: the company makes connectivity with other devices a priority (mainly its own, but still) and its support of high-quality sound codecs reinforces its commitment to music. There’s PS4 Remote Play, a value add for a growing number of PlayStation owners. I even don’t have a problem with Sony’s bizarre insistence on colouring the notification panel blue for any app that doesn’t support Lollipop’s colour-matching value. And despite my concerns with the Z3 family’s camera, the Compact takes great pictures most of the time. It’s not Galaxy S6 good, but it’s better than 95% of the other devices on the market.

There is something marvellously refreshing about discovering a piece of technology that works right for you. Since the Z3 Compact received Lollipop, it has been running smoother, lasting longer and taking better photos than before, marks it already hit with aplomb on KitKat. Sony took its time ensuring that it implemented Android 5.0 in a way that reflected its own (receding) internal culture while simultaneously honouring Google’s Material Design philosophy.

That is why its niche place in the market is so frustrating, since I believe sub-4.7″ flagships to be a dying breed, an anachronism floating away on the waves of a market caught up in specs. That 2015 appears to be the first year flagship devices aren’t getting bigger gives me some hope, but I don’t see the trend reversing, just slowing.

Sony did a good job with the Xperia Z3 Compact. It’s the right size, with the right specs for today, and likely tomorrow, and enough winning features to sway even the biggest skeptic. Its diminutive size is an asset, and its existence a boon to the market in general.

22 Apr 15:20

Samsung sold only 200,000 units of Galaxy S6 and S6 edge in South Korea

by Rajesh Pandey
A report from Yonhap News Agency suggests that Samsung has only sold a combined 200,000 units of the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge since their launch in South Korea. Continue reading →
22 Apr 12:44 | NO INTERFACE | Consumer Trend Briefing | May 2015

Speech, gesture, touch, sight: why truly intuitive technologies are set to transform your customer interactions forever.

Read the NO INTERFACE Consumer Trend Briefing from »

22 Apr 16:58

Ohrn Images: Colour Coordinated

by pricetags

At Charleson Park.


Ohrn - Charleson

22 Apr 17:40

A Referendum by, and on, the Premier

by pricetags

The federal Conservatives have created a dedicated fund for transit – and it’s pretty darn clear that the money flows to those with plans and funds to match:

The Sun:

Dubbed the new Public Transit Fund, the new money won’t start flowing to Canadian cities until 2017-18 — and with a $250-million down payment for the entire country that fiscal year.

The total will rise to $500 million in 2018-19, before reaching the targeted $1 billion in 201920. The new fund will be merit based, meaning that all regions shouldn’t expect transfers based on their share of the population. …

“That has a been a long time coming and despite the delay over the next few years, it should coincide with the major projects on Broadway and in Surrey for the construction dollars to flow,” Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said, adding it’s a start. “It roughly fits the timeline in the mayors’ plan so it should be in sync scaling up to the full $1 billion.”

Wouldn’t now be a good time for the Premier, whose idea this referendum was, to chime in here, not only confirming the Province’s participation in joint funding but also to urge a strong Yes vote as a way of nailing down these dollars?  This referendum will also be seen, certainly in retrospect, as a measure of her support for a strong, well-planned, well-served Metro region – or her indifference.

22 Apr 17:50

Google officially announces Project Fi

by Evan Selleck
Late last night, it was reported that Google would finally unveil the long-rumored MVNO today, and sure enough the search giant has done just that. Continue reading →
22 Apr 18:08

The pace of life, these days, the same

by russell davies

Every now and then I wander into a bookshop and get annoyed by the books they put on the big table at the front. Most of them are normally about how we're living in an accelerated world and everything's speeding up and ohmygodhowcanwecope weneedtodisconnect.

And I always think well yeah, but walking a mile, or three miles or a hundred yards takes about as long as it always has. An hour is still sixty minutes. Pregnancy, no quicker. Getting furniture from a shop still takes ages, especially in the UK. Getting your horse shod - I bet that takes a lot longer these days. Getting planning permission? Has that sped up? I bet it hasn't. Getting to Grade 8 on the bassoon - no quicker these days. It takes longer to die nowadays. It takes longer to get through school. Sand trickles through a narrow gap no quicker. Beethoven symphonies are performed much slower than he wrote them. Watching a film takes longer. Reading Catch-22, still takes longer than you'd like. In fact, all books are too long. Getting to Cornwall still takes forever. And it takes me exactly the same amount of time to walk to the chip shop as it always has and the chips are never on.

22 Apr 18:09

by pricetags

Via CNN: Architecture website Architizer has just announced the winners of its 3rd annual A+ Awards, highlighting the best new building designs from around the world.

My choices:

Community Church (Knarvik, Norway) – Religious Buildings & Memorials:

award 1


Ring of Celestial Bliss (Hsinchu City, Taiwan) – Pop-up & Temporary:



Highway Rest Stop (Tbilisi, Georgia) – Bus & Train Stations:



The Bicycle Snake (Copenhagen) – Highways & Bridges:



Lots more here.

22 Apr 18:35

Urban Design in Singapore

by pricetags

Glen Chua sends this along:

Thought some of your blog followers will find this four-episode documentary series interesting –




It’s focused on urban design and the evolution (or maybe I should say rapid development) of the building landscape in Singapore. Over the four episodes, there are references to several buildings featured in your previous posts:

Reflections at Keppel Bay

Marina Bay Sands

Interlace development

P.S. Perhaps you could start having a category for posts on Singapore in your blog?



21 Apr 11:48

IMS Digital Credentialing Initiative

You may have heard the exciting news that IMS Global, the leading education technology standards body announced today that they are kicking off a new IMS Digital Credentialing initiative. The new initiative will…

augment current IMS interoperability standards and extend Open Badges as needed to support deeper integration and exchange within extant systems, while exploring new models of badge system design, storage, usage, and evaluation in the institutional context.

For those of you new to IMS, here’s a bit about what they do from their website:

IMS’s influential community of educational institutions, suppliers, and government organizations develops open interoperability standards, supports adoption with technical services, and encourages adoption through programs that highlight effective practices.

This is exciting news for the open badging work, which was incubated initially at Mozilla Foundation and then expanded upon at the Badge Alliance. We’ve been working for years to get the kind of access and influence that IMS can bring to the table, and now we can focus on building the necessary extensions and/or new standards needed to make badges usable and valuable to institutions and employers across the world.

It’s also a very natural evolution of the work. Looking back, I see some distinct phases that we’ve gone through to push the efforts and adoption forward, and this feels like the necessary and obvious next piece of that story.

Phase 1: Inception and infrastructure building at Mozilla - We started the Open Badges work at Mozilla Foundation in late 2010. The first couple of years was very much a let-a-thousand-flowers-bloom period to better understand how people would use badges and stimulate early thought leadership and adoption. During this time we helped launch and support the initial DML competition, the winners of which were some of those first issuing organizations. We held small working group events to dig into the idea. With the initial community, we built and launched the alpha and beta versions of the Open Badge Standard and a set of APIs (together, called the Open Badge Infrastructure) and Backpack reference implementation.

Phase 2: Exemplar building, still through Mozilla - In 2013, the focus began to shift toward exemplars: starting with the Chicago Summer of Learning and following with the broader Cities of Learning, as well as Mozilla Webmaker badges and Connected Educator Month. This phase saw us rolling up our sleeves and diving deep into badge system design, technology, policy, privacy, and much more. In the process, we learned an incredible amount about the constraints of the existing specification, on-the-ground reactions to badges, policy barriers, etc.

Phase 3: Ecosystem building/empowerment through the BA - In early 2014, we announced the creation of the Badge Alliance, a network of organizations and individuals working together on building this ecosystem. We did this because we recognized that the badging work was already bigger than any one organization. We wanted to formally situate ownership and control in the ecosystem itself, dig into tough issues together and zero in on what’s needed to make badges succeed through necessary channels or sectors. We’ve written a lot about that first cycle and the contribution and success from that work. This phase is ongoing and has prepared us for the next parallel phase…

Phase 4: Standardization, Currency-building and scale - In parallel to some of the BA work in the second half of the year, we’ve started to move into another phase - one that’s focused on doubling down around validation, usage, value, and scale. We’ve seen several standards efforts start through ANSI and ASTM. The Open Badge Standard is well underway in being instantiated through the w3c. Now with the IMS initiative, it will be possible to have even more attention and focus on what’s needed to make badges work for learners and their goals. That means badges being valued and accepted within and across institutions, badges being used for hiring in workforce, and more.

So what will the IMS work look like? That’s still in development and the BA team and I are working with IMS - and hopefully you - to further define the necessary direction and standards. There is already some incredible work taking place around competency-based education and re-thinking the transcript that seem obvious places to integrate badging. Additionally, IMS may work with the community to build extensions to the existing standard, or new standards altogether, ones built around different ‘pieces’ of the badge value chain like endorsement, validation or usage.

Still a lot of unknowns, but SO much potential. And here’s a little more about the knowns and some other things you might be thinking about:

“Standardization” feels like a scary word. Is that code for closed? How does it work within the values of open badges?

The badges work has been built around a standard since day 0. Interoperability, portability and value transfer are the only way that this whole thing works and that badges meet their potential. Standards are very important. That said, the spirit of the badging work aims to be flexible, inclusive and innovative so that we can continue to capture and legitimize more learning and experiences. So at the same time, we have to be careful to not over-standardize the work.  It will be a delicate balance for sure. Early on, we actually intentionally avoided defining taxonomies or other standards of any kind because we did not want to make decisions that would constrain how people used and experimented with badges. But I think we’re in a different place now for at least a couple of reasons:

  • The work is more mature with more awareness and interest, and well, more badges. We’ve talked a lot about currency being a critical goal/focus at this stage and I think a necessary piece of that is defining more structure around how badges are defined and/or how they are valued/interpreted. 
  • The work is really big. Early on, standards would have dictated the only way to participate, whereas now there is enough adoption and exploration that we can create standards for particular types of badges or goals, without requiring alignment or constraining the entire ecosystem.

Again, the Open Badge standard was and still is critical to the vision of badges, and ensures interoperability across the ever-growing ecosystem. Those standards and extensions that we build on top of it can help to further develop and advance adoption, usage and currency in specific sectors or for specific goals. And again, IMS, a nonprofit built around ensuring interoperability and effectiveness, is the right organization to help play a driving role.

How will the IMS work interact with the existing Open Badges Standard?
This work does not replace the Open Badge Standard. That is still the baseline specification for ensuring badge interoperability across the ecosystem. So still use that: it’s our foundation. There is actually a lot of work that’s well underway to further instantiate that standard through the w3c, which is pretty big-time as well. The IMS work, while still being defined, will likely build extensions on top of that standard, or new standards altogether, to focus on different functions, uses,  sectors or taxonomies. That’s for you to help us figure out.

How does the IMS work fit into the Badge Alliance?
The Badge Alliance was created to inspire, promote and support efforts exactly like this. We wanted to shift the ownership, accountability and empowerment into the network itself. And IMS is answering that call by charging forward with their own piece of the puzzle. We’re very excited to work with them on shaping it.

What else? We’re looking forward to working with you on this exciting new work. So send us your questions, thoughts, concerns, high fives, etc.


21 Apr 17:55

Validating Mobile Ad Location Data at Factual

by Tyler Bell

Location Data appears straightforward on first blush: two numbers — longitude and latitude — combine as a coordinate to identify an unambiguous point on the earth’s surface: X marks the spot, unequivocally.

Location data in the Mobile Ad-tech Ecosystem, however — especially that used by marketers and advertisers — has a number of distinguishing characteristics that make it more problematic. In no particular order, they are:

  1. Unvalidated: the great majority of location data, such as that coming through the Real-Time Bid (RTB) stream, are from unknown sources: no inherent quality guarantees are attached to the data, and it must be viewed with skepticism initially;
  2. Independent: Most coordinate pairs come through the pipes naked, unclothed by metadata.  Although mobile devices can source precision, speed, and heading with their location readings, while welcome, this sort of context is extremely rare if not entirely absent;
  3. Intermittent: the majority of mobile apps register location data infrequently — think of most mobile location data as an extremely low-res digital sample of a rich, analogue behavior. Put another way, most mobile location data represents only a fraction of ongoing activity, with little context of what came before or after.

These are pretty major caveats. How then, with so many qualifiers and so much dubious, isolated, and unvalidated data, can one extract signal from the noise? The answer is a Location Validation Stack, a platform that pre-processes location data before we build critical consumer insights.

Factual has two products that require a Location Validation Stack: Geopulse Audience, which creates geographic, behavioral, demographic and retail profiles based on where people go over time; and Geopulse Proximity, which performs realtime server-side geofencing to the tune of 20k-50k queries per second per server.

Most customers run Factual Location Validation on between three and 100 servers; a single customer may validate location at a rate of five-billion locations queries per day at a peak of around 500k qps. Taken together, every month Factual processes over 600 billion location data points for Geopulse Audience creation, and over 800 billion of the same for Proximity realtime geofencing. These not-insignificant volumes, combined with the requirements of both asynchronous and real-time data validation solutions, drove us to create a location validation solution that is both fast and intelligent.

Factual’s Location Data Cleaning Process

When a location data point comes down the pipe, we look at it closely and reject it outright if it hits any of our filter criteria. These are:

Coordinate Truncation

Coordinates with three decimals provide no better than ~100m accuracy, and truncated coordinates (reducing the decimal places in coordinate measurements) will consistently ‘pull’ devices in a single direction away from their ‘real’ location. Factual creates audiences with precise location targeting — and our algorithms tie devices to specific businesses, not grid squares — so coordinates with fewer than four decimal places are insufficiently precise and for small venues a precision of 5 or more decimal places is optimal. You really cannot use coordinates with fewer than 4 decimal places for precise real-time geofencing or to create retail-based audiences. Anyone who says differently is selling you something.

Here’s a specific example of what happens when you truncate decimal places. Let’s say that you are at Factual’s HQ in Century City, Los Angeles, and we progressively truncate your coordinate precision. With each decimal removed, your apparent location drifts to the southeast:

5 decimal places (~1m) You are correctly located in Factual’s building (perhaps with other businesses on different floors).
4 decimal places (~10m) Factual’s building is large, so you are still located here. However, this precision would place you outside a smaller venue.
3 decimal places (~100m) About a football field from your current location; you are now across the street in a hotel.
2 decimal places (~1,000m) You are now over 1km away in a golf course.
1 decimal places (~10,000m) You are in another city, and have been eaten by a grue.

Figure 001 — location drift with coordinate truncation; locations with fewer than five decimal places are almost unusable in precision targeting. (Image: Google Maps)

Invalid Coordinates

Figure 002 — there’s not much really happening at Null Island (0,0) – but it’s a great trap for bad data, and you can check the weather online (image: NOAA)

Generally coordinates with bad numbers. The most common we see under this heading are coordinates found at ‘Null Island’ (0,0), but there is also a growing menagerie of points that generally represent classes of errors indicative of sloppy coding or an upstream data issue, such as matching coordinate pairs. ‘Null Island’ is a valid geographic point, but geo-geeks use it as a trap to ‘catch’ bogus device locations — seeing it in data streams always points to problems where location data is missing.

Out of Bounds Coordinates

Figure 003: the effect of swapping longitude and latitude: swapped, in the ocean (red); corrected, in Buenos Aires (green). (map: OpenStreetMap)

When you process billions of records, you’re going to see a lot of weird coordinates. Many are considered ‘out-of-bounds’ — most because they are outside the range of legal coordinates, but others simply fall at the extremes of the earth where very few people live and whose appearance in the location data pipeline is generally due to developers’ inadvertent swapping of latitude and longitude. For example in figure 003, we identify and discard the coordinate -58.436597, -34.607187 (the red marker) as out-of-bounds, because it is deep in the ocean and at the southern extremes of the earth. Debugging this erroneous location shows that switching the coordinate order to -34.607187, -58.436597 (the green marker) puts the point in Buenos Aires, almost certainly the legitimate location the developer intended.

Blacklisted Coordinates

This filter mechanism catches the biggest proportion of transgressions by identifying apparently high-precision points that have been encoded using a wifi, IP, cell tower, or centroid lookup.

Some of these points may be ‘fraudulent’, but most are just negligent coding on the developer’s part. The best bit about this feature is that it does not run off of a static list of blacklisted places, but instead evolves its logic from the 20+ billion we see daily. This approach is built on a statistical model that identifies blacklisted points via a hypothesis testing framework, that learns which points are over-represented based on all points in the system. The model is therefore improved with every point that we see, and thus requires very little active maintenance. To-date we’ve identified 650k bogus points globally using this method, and the list is growing.

Figure 004 – a farmstead in rural Wichita: the most populated place in the world according to unfiltered mobile location logs (image: Google Maps)

One of the most egregious examples of these blacklisted points is the coordinate (37.999004, -96.97783), which corresponds to a lovely, innocuous-looking plot of farmland 30 miles northeast of Wichita, Kansas (figure 004). According to our unfiltered location logs, this point is the the most popular location for mobile users across the globe, beating New York, London, and Seoul for top billing.

Our Blacklist does not care why a specific place is artificially popular, but this one is easy: it is the geographic center of the continental United States (which by itself speaks volumes about the quality of geodata in Mobile Location). It’s clear that publishers are tagging US locations with the intention of noting that the data point is ‘in the United States’, but instead the high-precision, low accuracy coordinate is only adding noise to the signal.

Fortunately, because our model has identified this point as curiously over-subscribed, it is ignored when processing audiences and validating geofence inputs, and all is well.

Bad Devices, Bad Apps

Bad apples: we frequently observe device IDs that are over-represented in every data stream we monitor — usually because the device ID is poorly coded, not passed to the bid stream correctly, and very likely is shared between devices. We’ll also detect devices that appear to ‘blip’ between locations suggesting either travel above Mach 1 or the developer is employing randomized locations (figure 005). Other developers will semi-randomize locations in ways that can be observed and blocked. When we see evidence of malicious or detrimental coding, usually the whole app is blocked from our pipelines and we work with our partners to address and remedy.

Figure 005 – real world example of a bad apple: good app (left) vs bad app (right). Most location pathologies are less pronounced (map: OpenStreetMap)

These checks are applied to all location data consumed by our Geopulse Audience and Geopulse Proximity products. We do this at speeds measured in microseconds (millionths of a second), which means that we can do more verification in less time, sort the wheat from the chaff, and provide the best possible location-based consumer insights.

If you’re interested in learning more about our mobile ad targeting capabilities, please contact us.

Tyler Bell & Tom White
Geopulse Product and Engineering Leads

Factual on Twitter and Facebook

20 Apr 06:00

Instapaper Liked: The Coffee of Civilization in Iceland

By the mid-nineteenth century, coffee was central to Iceland’s sense of itself. The thing that’s striking is the coffee. I am talking here about Iceland, the
22 Apr 02:42

A Member Is Just One Option

by Richard Millington

There's no rationale behind calling them 'members'. That's just the default. 

Just by changing the name, you change the nature of participation.

This is known as priming, it's a simple and powerful tool. 

Think of the different connotations in each of the following:

  • Partners
  • Collaborators
  • Experts
  • Participants
  • Attendees
  • Founders
  • Advocates
  • Contributors
  • Professionals
  • Insiders
  • Editors
  • Geniuses
  • Supporters
  • Elites
  • Helpers
  • Volunteers
  • VIPs
  • Friends
  • Colleagues
  • Troopers
  • Seekers

If you want to change how people participate, change what you call them. 

21 Apr 17:13

Far fewer black men than black women

by Nathan Yau

Distribution of whites and blacks

Justin Wolfers, David Leonhardt, and Kevin Quealy for the Upshot explore the gender gap between the black male and female populations in the United States. It's wide.

They are missing, largely because of early deaths or because they are behind bars. Remarkably, black women who are 25 to 54 and not in jail outnumber black men in that category by 1.5 million, according to an Upshot analysis. For every 100 black women in this age group living outside of jail, there are only 83 black men. Among whites, the equivalent number is 99, nearly parity.

The 1.5 million number is interesting in itself (although a margin of error mention would've been nice), but the possible reasons and social implications behind it are what make the piece worth the read. We're getting into the human part of demographics.

See also the methodology.

Tags: census, race, Upshot

21 Apr 20:23

Phone calling rolls out to WhatsApp users on iOS

by Daniel Bader

It’s taken a while, but a majority of WhatsApp users should have access to the company’s calling feature beginning today.

With an update rolling out to iOS today, Apple users will soon be able to make VoIP-based calls to other WhatsApp users, something the company has been promising for a long time.

Like Skype and other VoIP-related services (and the upcoming VoLTE standard) WhatsApp uses a data connection to connect to others within its network. The result is a better quality call with faster connection speeds.

While a voice calling feature may by itself not seem like a big deal, it fits into the direction WhatsApp has been moving for some time: an all-encompassing communications platform that goes beyond just sending instant messages. WhatsApp recently reported that it now has 800 million monthly active users, so much of the world’s smartphone community has at least signed up for the $0.99/year service. As networks move to a more data-focused operating model, services like WhatsApp stand to benefit most from the transition.

Prior to this, WhatsApp rolled out the option to send voice memos to other users.

The voice calling feature will roll out over the next few weeks, but WhatsApp for iOS also has a new feature available to everyone today: integration with iOS 8’s Share Sheet, allowing users to quickly link content from other apps directly into WhatsApp. It’s also now possible to quickly share a photo within an existing chat.

21 Apr 17:55

Apple Loyalty Program

by Matt

So I finally got my hands on a the new Macbook, finally resorting to Craigslist to find someone who had pre-ordered and pay them a small premium. I was going to write a review, and still will, but ended up writing a bunch on the process of buying things from Apple as a loyal customer.

I have done the second-market Craigslist dance with probably 90% of new Apple tablets and phones before, but never for a laptop. I’m sure every ounce of effort has been expended to capitalize on the hype of the announcements and ship as many of these as possible, but this Macbook/Watch roll-out still seems especially rough with the stores having zero inventory or knowledge of if/when they’re getting anything in, and ship dates now slipping into the summer. There’s a deeper issue though: it speaks to a lack of Apple’s knowledge and connection to their customers, even though they have all the data.

A great restaurant will track every time you’ve eaten there, how much you spent, your preferences, and use that to prioritize reservations and tailor service on subsequent visits. Airlines, for their terrible reputation, actually are decent at this too with their loyalty programs. On United I’m a Global Services level flyer and get some really nice perks as a result, with the knowledge that if I don’t fly a certain amount of miles and spend a certain amount of dollars with them in a calendar year I’ll lose those perks (as I did for a few months earlier this year) and so when choosing between two flights to somewhere I’m more likely to pick the United one. (Also I think some of airlines bad rep is undeserved, they are flying human beings miles in the air inside tin cans where the cost of an error is catastrophic, everything is highly regulated, and many service factors are literally dependent on the weather.)

I am an unapologetic, unrepentant Apple customer ever since I could afford it. One of the first things I did when I got my job at CNET in 2005 was upgrade my Mom from the inexpensive Linux box I built for her (all I could afford) to a Mac Mini. I get almost every new version of everything, including usually 4-6 phones a year (myself and family), at least a dozen laptops, iPads, Thunderbolt displays, iMacs, Mac Pros… at this point I’m probably a cumulative $100k customer of Apple, in addition to the millions we spend on Apple hardware at Automattic (everyone gets a new computer when they join, and we refresh them every 18-24 months, and a special W version at after 4 years of tenure). And I’m late to the game! There are Apple customers today who bought their first product decades ago.

However when pre-orders creak open at midnight, or people start queueing, the order of access to the latest and greatest from Apple is by whoever shows up first, or now online it’s essentially random depending on how lucky you are to load and complete the checkout process. In some ways there’s a beautiful equality to that, but for example when I went with Om in London for the 2013 iPhone release, 95% of the line was people just there to buy and flip it, either locally or ship overseas — the very front of the line was Apple lovers, but in the rest of the line I saw people using Android.

There is some sort of rank ordering inside Apple — Karl Lagerfied and Beyonce have Apple Watches already, reviewers from Gruber to Pogue get devices a few weeks early to test — but imagine if there was an Apple Loyalty program for the rest of us? More than almost any other company Apple has been sustained through tough times by the belief and devotion of their best customers. It would be great if you could earn status with monetary (dollars spent) and non-monetary (impact on the world) points that give you priority ordering access, faster Genius bar appointments, maybe even access to events.

Maybe the truth is Apple doesn’t need to do that, I’m going to keep using them because they make the best products, and when things are rough in the early days (like with the new Macbook, a few recent versions of OS X and iOS) I stick it out because I know it’ll get better. To my knowledge no other tech product maker has done a great loyalty program before, though there are hints in Asian players like Xiaomi and OnePlus. Most luxury brands from Hermes to Patek are also bad at this, because they don’t understand technology and data. But how cool would it be if Apple did reward, or even just recognize, their most loyal customers?

21 Apr 19:56

Judge: It’s completely acceptable for politicians to promise to do things in exchange for campaign donations or votes

by Frances Bula

On the off chance that this savvy crowd missed this on Friday: Supreme Court Justice Elliott Myers dismissed the petition from Randy Helten and others to have the mayor and councillor Geoff Meggs removed from office for conflict of interest or accepting gifts (those were the two provisions of the Vancouver Charter the case relied on). Immediately, the mayor made nasty remarks about the group of residents who filed this and they made nasty remarks back.

My story here and the judgment here. I notice my resident legal expert IanS weighed in elsewhere, saying he doesn’t expect the decision on costs to be a big deal.

21 Apr 00:00

Google is making a giant change this week that could crush millions of small businesses


Jillian D'Onfro, Business Insider, Apr 24, 2015

I've long been meaning to redesign my website to make it mobile-friendly -- all I need to do really is use JQuery and Bootstrap and do some basic design work. But, you know, I've been busy. But this might spur me to make the change. "The algorithm will start  favoring mobile-friendly websites  (ones with large text, easy-to-click links, and that resize to fit whatever screen they're viewed on) and ranking them higher in search."

[Link] [Comment]