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22 Nov 17:06

Do I use Medium?

Hendrik Jeremy Mentz:  "I like how @davewiner uses @medium: short, pithy bursts. See his posts on war and terrorism in particular."

Reading this was weird because I don't think of myself as posting to Medium, or that I am using Medium. More accurately, my posts fllow from to Medium through RSS.

Then I thought about it a bit, let it sink in, and realized it appears to others as if I am posting there, so it's legit. I do use it. They read it there and that's how they experience my writing.

This is going to take some getting used to. 

22 Nov 18:53

Trump happens

There used to be gatekeepers that made sure the crazy candidates looked crazy, but now they get to go direct. 

Trump is what happens when social media becomes the platform for discourse. 

I always thought Sources Go Direct was a good thing. But like all good things, there's a dark side too, I guess. Trump makes enough people feel good about themselves to quite possibly make him the Republican nominee. 

Then the question is what's left of the Republican Party after that? 

And of the United States too. 

See also: Why Trump might win.

22 Nov 19:21

Bump me baby!

Here's a feature request for Facebook and Apple.

  1. You know how the Apple Watch bumps you when something happens. I like that feeling. It's a Pavlovian thing.
  2. It would be really cool if there was a bump every time someone Liked something of mine on Facebook. No message, no explanation. Just a bump. 
22 Nov 12:53

I Want To Run Stateful Containers, Too

by Rui Carmo
Click on the image to zoom in

This is probably the only though-provoking TechCrunch article I’ve read this year. Well worth pondering, if you followed a similar route and are willing to think a bit beyond the rant.

22 Nov 20:52

“Mark’s Roadster for sale”

by antbikemike

22478956378_230cb8d5a8_o (1)

Mark’s Roadster $1,750.00 [click on image for photo set]

  • 56cm ST and TT fits around 5’10” person
  • 700 x 50mm tires
  • Alfine 8 speed hub
  • Schmidt front dyno hub and Edelux light
  • ANT pedals, stem and racks
  • Built for the Richmond NAHBS
  • [no saddle]
  • email mark directly

22 Nov 16:33

An Engineer’s Guide to App Metrics

by Mark Finkle

Building and shipping a successful product takes more than raw engineering. I have been posting a bit about using Telemetry to learn about how people interact with your application so you can optimize use cases. There are other types of data you should consider too. Being aware of these metrics can help provide a better focus for your work and, hopefully, have a bigger impact on the success of your product.

Active Users

This includes daily active users (DAUs) and monthly active users (MAUs). How many people are actively using the product within a time-span? At Mozilla, we’ve been using these for a long time. From what I’ve read, these metrics seem less important when compared to some of the other metrics, but they do provide a somewhat easy to measure indicator of activity.

These metrics don’t give a good indication of how much people use the product though. I have seen a variation metric called DAU/MAU (daily divided by monthly) and gives something like retention or engagement. DAU/MAU rates of 50% are seen as very good.


This metric focuses on how much people really use the product, typically tracking the duration of session length or time spent using the application. The amount of time people spend in the product is an indication of stickiness. Engagement can also help increase retention. Mozilla collects data on session length now, but we need to start associating metrics like this with some of our experiments to see if certain features improve stickiness and keep people using the application.

We look for differences across various facets like locales and releases, and hopefully soon, across A/B experiments.

Retention / Churn

Based on what I’ve seen, this is the most important category of metrics. There are variations in how these metrics can be defined, but they cover the same goal: Keep users coming back to use your product. Again, looking across facets, like locales, can provide deeper insight.

Rolling Retention: % of new users return in the next day, week, month
Fixed Retention: % of this week’s new users still engaged with the product over successive weeks.
Churn: % of users who leave divided by the number of total users

Most analysis tools, like iTunes Connect and Google Analytics, use Fixed Retention. Mozilla uses Fixed Retention with our internal tools.

I found some nominal guidance (grain of salt required):
1-week churn: 80% bad, 40% good, 20% phenomenal
1-week retention: 25% baseline, 45% good, 65% great

Cost per Install (CPI)

I have also seen this called Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), but it’s basically the cost (mostly marketing or pay-to-play pre-installs) of getting a person to install a product. I have seen this in two forms: blended – where ‘installs’ are both organic and from campaigns, and paid – where ‘installs’ are only those that come from campaigns. It seems like paid CPI is the better metric.

Lower CPI is better and Mozilla has been using Adjust with various ad networks and marketing campaigns to figure out the right channel and the right messaging to get Firefox the most installs for the lowest cost.

Lifetime Value (LTV)

I’ve seen this defined as the total value of a customer over the life of that customer’s relationship with the company. It helps determine the long-term value of the customer and can help provide a target for reasonable CPI. It’s weird thinking of “customers” and “value” when talking about people who use Firefox, but we do spend money developing and marketing Firefox. We also get revenue, maybe indirectly, from those people.

LTV works hand-in-hand with churn, since the length of the relationship is inversely proportional to the churn. The longer we keep a person using Firefox, the higher the LTV. If CPI is higher than LTV, we are losing money on user acquisition efforts.

Total Addressable Market (TAM)

We use this metric to describe the size of a potential opportunity. Obviously, the bigger the TAM, the better. For example, we feel the TAM (People with kids that use Android tablets) for Family Friendly Browsing is large enough to justify doing the work to ship the feature.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

We have seen this come up in some surveys and user research. It’s suppose to show how satisfied your customers are with your product. This metric has it’s detractors though. Many people consider it a poor value, but it’s still used quiet a lot.

NPS can be as low as -100 (everybody is a detractor) or as high as +100 (everybody is a promoter). An NPS that is positive (higher than zero) is felt to be good, and an NPS of +50 is excellent.

Go Forth!

If you don’t track any of these metrics for your applications, you should. There are a lot of off-the-shelf tools to help get you started. Level-up your engineering game and make a bigger impact on the success of your application at the same time.

23 Nov 07:15

Jolla – Rogue wave.

by windsorr

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The sailors at Jolla may be better off selling their boat.

  • Jolla, the creator of the Sailfish OS for mobile devices has filed to restructure its debts as it has been unable to close its latest $10.6m financing round.
  • This has resulted in 50% of its staff being temporarily laid off effectively suspending development of the OS until another solution can be found.
  • Jolla has been engaged in trying to licence the Sailfish OS as an alternative to Android, but has only met with limited success.
  • Indian handset maker Intex signed up in July with the intention to release devices this year, but of these there is no sign.
  • I suspect that Intex has found it more difficult and more expensive than expected to get a device to market, which combined with the debt restructuring, casts serious question marks over this relationship.
  • The irony is that although Google’s growth has made it very difficult to convince anyone to buy an alternative, the time has never been better.
  • Google’s ecosystem is under siege on all fronts (see here) and its inability to distribute updates to its software severely hampers its ability to improve its user experience.
  • Furthermore, the Amazon App Store is getting better and better at replicating what Google Play has to offer and so there is less reason for a device maker to be forced down the Google ecosystem route.
  • Despite this, it is increasingly difficult to convince anyone that Google’s position is more vulnerable than it was 12 months ago.
  • What Jolla needs is a partner that needs an alternative to Google and one that is willing to commit its ecosystem to the Sailfish OS.
  • Consequently, I think that Baidu and Tencent must be its best chance of salvation but I suspect that they will want to acquire the company.
  • Alibaba is increasingly committed to its own in-house version of Android (Yun OS) but Baidu and Tencent appear yet to have made a commitment one way or the other.
  • Both Baidu and Tencent are large enough to have the scale to warrant an in-house development which is why I suspect that they would prefer to buy rather than licence.
  • This would also give them the ability to ensure that the software is developed exactly to their specifications which is becoming an increasingly important factor in differentiating and delivering a good user experience.
  • Jolla’s difficulties also raises questions around the viability of Cyanogen which is in a very similar line of business.
  • The one difference is that Cyanogen is based on Android making it an easier sell and the company also has the benefit of having raised $85m in March 2015.
  • However, Cyanogen’s business model is to take a revenue share of the services that it enables with its software which I think could very easily come unstuck.
  • Despite this, the latest funding gives Cyanogen time to work out where it fits in the mobile ecosystem which is something that Jolla does not have.
  • Consequently, I suspect that Jolla well end up being acquired because despite its issues, the Sailfish OS provides an excellent starting point for the creation of an ecosystem.
23 Nov 09:26

Samsung Tizen Z3 proves surprisingly popular

by Roland Banks

Samsung Z3 Tizen Smartphone

As you are probably aware, Samsung has been slowly improving its home-grown Tizen operating system over the past year or two, releasing a couple of affordable smartphones targeted at emerging markets like India and Bangladesh. The company’s latest device, the Z3, recently made it into GSMArena’s Top 10 Trending Phones of Week 46 rankings at number four, proving that there’s certainly a market for the Tizen-based device – at that customers are open to trying something other than Android and iOS.

Tizen powered Z3 breaks into the top 10

The Z3 (running Tizen 2.3) was launched in India in late October and managed to enter the top ten rankings less than a month later. The first version of the Z-series smartphones, the Z1, made the top 10 rankings a little over 6 weeks after launch, with Samsung going on to sell more than a million devices in India alone. No doubt the attractive price helped – the Z3 cost the equivalent of $130 at launch: a very competitive price but by no means the cheapest smartphone in India.

In much of the western world however it’s a different story for Tizen, which has mainly seen adoption on Samsung’s smart television sets (like the JU6500 4K TV). But strong sales of the Z3 helped Tizen reach fourth place in the global OS popularity stakes, beating BlackBerry OS to the punch in Q3 this year. Samsung will be hoping to capitalise on the success of Tizen in countries like India, Russia and perhaps even Europe in future.

Unfortunately for many people, the main reason not to buy a Tizen-powered device may be the current lack of apps on the platform – something that Samsung no doubt hopes to rectify given time. For those people who aren’t too concerned with having the widest choice of apps (or who are happy with the web versions), Tizen will no doubt suffice just fine.

So what of the Z3 itself? Here’s a brief overview of the Samsung’s latest Tizen phone…

In terms of the design, Samsung has revamped its entire lineup (especially its high-end Galaxy models) with more premium materials and a fresh new design in the wake of past criticism. Even more budget models like the Z3 have had a welcome revamp giving a rather premium feel while remaining good value for money.


The Z3’s display is fairly comparable to older screens found on phones like the Galaxy S3 in the past. The resolution is just 720p (the same as an iPhone 6s), which is perhaps low for a 5-inch phone, but with a 300 pixels-per-inch rating it should be fairly crisp and clear, while helping to extend battery life. Samsung has also thankfully endowed the Z3 with a Super AMOLED display.


The Z3’s camera isn’t much to write home about – an 8 megapixel model with fairly standard features such as autofocus and an LED flash, but it does provide 1080p video recording. The front camera is a 5 megapixel model, which is more than sufficient for selfies.

Z3 performance

While most high-end Android phones pack multi-core CPUs with several GB of RAM, the Z3 isn’t far behind with a quad-core 1.3 GHz processor and 1 GB of system memory. If Samsung’s engineering teams are anything like Apple’s, they will have heavily optimised Tizen to be as efficient as possible and tailored for the specific hardware it runs on. For $130, buyers of the Z3 probably aren’t expecting to play the latest processor-intesive 3D games, but it’s likely to be more than capable for the majority of tasks and apps on the Tizen store.

We’re looking forward to more Tizen-based phones from Samsung, and its great to see the company forging ahead with new models and improvements to the operating system.

You can find the full Samsung Z3 specs on here, as well as a slew of marketing information on the Z3 microsite.

23 Nov 10:54

Hong Kong may be a little insecure, but it's no 'slave'


On these webpages recently, and in print, Yonden Lhatoo, a Senior Editor at the Post, let rip at what he perceives to be “white worship” in Hong Kon

23 Nov 13:13

20 vs 60

I listened to an interview on NPR this morning with violinist Itzhak Perlman. They asked if he knew more about the violin now, as he turns 70, than when he was 20. 

He said "no, but.." and paused.

At this point my brain filled in the answer.

"But I know myself much better!"

Turns out that isn't what he said, but it's still an important idea that I'd like to pass on to my younger friends (I am 60). 

When you're 20 you don't even really see yourself. You and the world are the same thing. That's why young people feel there is such a thing as absolute right and wrong in all cases. The world seems simple. It's all about me! And anything that I don't like obviously is wrong, and anything I do like is equally obviously right.

What happens as you grow older is that this sense of being everything can fade away, and as it does, other people and things become visible. You see that there are lots of different types of people, with different experiences, different ways of viewing the world. You can delight in this, and learn from it, and use it to further define yourself. 

At 60, I often laugh at myself: "Oh that's just something Dave does."

That would have never occurred to me at 20.

On the other hand, not to say there aren't wonderful things about being 20. Everything is so fresh and new, the world and time seem unlimited, and your abilities. Falling in love at any age is a miracle.  And there are rewards that only come from knowledge and experience. 

PS: I'm also a better writer at 60. wink

23 Nov 13:24

The problem is America, not Trump

People are saying that the Trump campaign is turning Nazi.

I'd like to offer another theory. 

It's turning American.

We in America paint the past as a Norman Rockwell painting. White, suburban, not too rich, but not poor either. Everyone dresses well. Grandpa smokes a pipe and grandma makes  great apple pie. The kids play musical instruments and baseball.

But that is not our past. 

We brought Africans to America to be our slaves. They didn't need yellow stars because their skin color was enough of a label. We beat them, chained them, murdered them, all the things Nazis did to Jews, over a much longer period of time. 

We took our land from Native Americans and killed them too.

We victimize people because of where they come from, how they dress, what books they read, the god they worship, for being too liberal or loving the wrong person. We have done some terrible things here. So you don't have to go to Germany for prior art. There's plenty of it right here in the U.S. of A.

The problem isn't Trump. He's an opportunist. If people voted on issues, he would be a fountain of issues. But they don't. They vote for people who make them feel good and powerful and deserving of love.

The problem isn't Trump, it's America.

23 Nov 14:20

The Pen Addict’s Apple Pencil Review

by Federico Viticci

Of all the Apple Pencil reviews I've read over the past few weeks, very few of them offered examples of actual handwriting – which is perfectly understandable, as most of us don't use physical pens and pencils for writing anymore.

This is why I recommend reading Myke Hurley's review of the Pencil for The Pen Addict – he knows what he's talking about:

The second issue these weights attempt to solve is to stop your Pencil rolling off your desk. The Pencil is completely cylindrical – there are no flat edges and no clip – so it's prone to fall victim to gravity and non-level work spaces. But with the weights inside the Pencil, as soon as you set it down, it rolls a little and then stops itself. The weights appear to have been designed to balance it and take over. In most instances this works out great, but I have observed that if you place the Pencil down with any force, say if it is not gently put down on a desk, but maybe dropped from a few inches (I love my implements, but I use them too...), the Pencil will likely roll a couple of times in the process.

When this happens the weights actually seem to give it momentum, and will propel it forward further and faster than it would have otherwise. Each time as the Pencil turns, it acts against itself as it is moving to quickly to balance, and on it goes, off the table.

Myke makes some good points in his review, which I haven't seen anywhere else.

23 Nov 16:00

Now you can edit PDFs stored in Dropbox from your iPhone and iPad

by Sanjana Tandon

Dropbox and Adobe ioS partnershipLast month, we unveiled a new partnership with Adobe to make working with PDFs in Dropbox simpler and faster.

Today, we’re excited to share that our iOS integration with Adobe is live and ready for you to use — so you can easily edit PDFs stored in Dropbox, anytime and anywhere.

With the latest versions of the Dropbox and Acrobat Reader iOS apps, you’ll be able to annotate and comment on PDFs stored in Dropbox, right from your iPhone or iPad. Just open a PDF from the Dropbox app and tap the ‘Edit’ icon, then edit or electronically sign the PDF in the Acrobat Reader app. All your changes will save back to Dropbox, so you and any collaborators will have the latest version.

And thanks to the desktop integration we launched last month, editing PDFs stored in Dropbox is just as easy when you’re at your computer. Just connect your Dropbox account in the Adobe Acrobat or Acrobat Reader desktop apps, and you’ll be able to pull up any PDF in your Dropbox right from the Adobe app.

To try out the Adobe integration on your iPhone or iPad, download the latest versions of the Dropbox iOS app and the Acrobat Reader iOS app. The same integration will be available for Android devices next year, so stay tuned!

23 Nov 13:00

Being a Special Video Game Heroine

by Stephanie Jennings



Fallout 4 tells me that I am special.

At the start of the game, I am prompted to assign point values to Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck (yes, that spells SPECIAL) as an initial step towards the crafting of my customized protagonist. These statistics form the foundation of my character’s abilities, skills, and know-how. I will build on them and further specify them in the course of my play.

But Fallout 4 tells me that I am special in other ways, namely through the ways that it positions my protagonist within its narrative. My character is the lone survivor of a fallout shelter following a devastating nuclear war. She is cryogenically frozen, but wakes from her sleep long enough to witness her husband murdered and her infant son kidnapped. When she emerges from the vault 200 years after first entering it, she’s on a mission to find her son, despite having no knowledge of when the kidnapping happened.

Somehow, though, the local populace of wasteland Boston quickly determines that she exhibits exceptional leadership and combat skills. So they name her General, task her with the responsibility of restoring a floundering militia group, and put her at the head of rebuilding a new settlement and ultimately uniting the Commonwealth. Thus, immediately after emerging from a 200-year sleep during which time the world as she knew it was destroyed, my affluent-professional-suburban-Boston-wife-mother character is able to navigate a hostile irradiated wasteland, find resources on her own, master a particular fighting prowess, and then convince a straggling group of survivors to make her their leader. Soon enough she’s binding other settlements to her cause and gradually seizing power over the Commonwealth.

It’s absurd. Yet, it’s a setup that will likely be familiar and unquestioned for many players of video games. It’s a persistent trope: the player-character abruptly thrust from ordinariness into extraordinariness. At first, a humble and unassuming civilian—moments later, a military commander, a leader, a hero, the one hope for world salvation. Video games use this scenario very, very frequently. Especially AAA games like Fallout 4.

AAA Video Gaming is basically like having someone baby talk to you. who's my special boy? you are! oh, my special boy made a pillow fort!

— Nick Capozzoli (@NickCapozzoli) November 11, 2015

It’s a trope that, understandably, has come under some criticism. Nick Capozzoli’s comment sparked a conversation on Twitter that illustrates a number of concerns with this narrative model, as well as other similar coddling from the AAA industry. In the replies, Capozzoli noted that AAA games allow players to become anything they want and reward them for doing so. Others that took part in the conversation griped that the ability to get what one wants, do what one wants, and become what one wants is infantilizing. They accused games of treating these situations immaturely and in ways disconnected from reality.

Inanity and childish wish fulfillment aren’t the only criticisms leveled at the archetype of the unassuming-yet-exceptional player-hero. There’s also ideology at work. For instance, as Mattie Brice has remarked,

To put it frankly, gamers are set up to be colonial forces. It’s about individuality, conquering, and solving. Feeling empowered and free at the expense of the world. Many games try to evoke the qualities of play most commonly associated with boys and men. Many games envision their average player to be white, a man, heterosexual, American, and a whole list of other privileged qualities. Meaning, they act much like our reality set up to have a particular group of people feel good about their lives as long as they are complicit with the system.

As Brice indicates, these storylines can be read as enshrining and reproducing hegemonic American cultural values. Fallout 4, for example, could be interpreted as embracing rugged individuality; the capacity to rise to power through hard work; masculine potency; peace enforced through armed combat; and a will to leadership, among others. One could also read this narrative of specialness as an attempt to appeal to the sensibilities of millennials, if one buys into the myth of their entitlement and narcissism.

While ideological critiques such as these are invaluable for uncovering the assumptions of many video games, I think many of them overlook their own starting point: a prevailing male-centric outlook. Such androcentrism is not only at the core of much of game design, but also in the angles and approaches of games criticism itself. A great deal of games criticism assumes that, since games are made with a male audience in mind, the values that they sanction are those with a specific appeal to men. Although Capozzoli’s comment comes from his male subject position, it also evinces the notion that a game like Fallout 4 is speaking to special boys. Likewise, Brice examines and condemns the ideologies of games from the assumption that their players are male.

But do these narratives and mechanics have the same implications when experienced from the perspectives of women or marginalized identities? Are the game’s only meanings those that apply to a presumed target audience?

For me, Fallout 4’s narrative of specialness provides opportunities to experience subject positions that I am not able to enjoy outside of its confines. While the game’s story and character development are utterly unrealistic, there are aspects of this unreality that are empowering to me. The game places my character—a woman, of my own choosing—into a leadership position that is not once called into question on the basis of her gender identity or her body. There are no misogynistic comments that cast her worthiness into doubt. No one tells her that she is not fit for combat. Only nameless enemies dare to call her a bitch—only to meet their messy deaths moments later.

I don’t entirely care about the game’s poor storytelling. I have every opportunity to ignore the quest to find my character’s lost son and even the shallow conflict about humanity’s abuses of technology. Instead, I can explore, build my settlements, and craft the world to my own liking. I can overlook the lack of explanation behind my character’s formidable capabilities and map a story of my own liking onto her: She is a woman who has gone through unimaginable tragedy and turmoil. But she has picked herself up and found a strength of her own that is answerable to no one. She goes it alone, with her dog as her only companion—and she not only survives, but thrives and conquers.

Through the woman character that I have created and that I embody in my gameplay, I can feel in possession of opportunities that do not exist for me, a woman, outside of the game. I can be a direct, firm, confident leader, a ruthless combatant, a cunning negotiator that makes alliances with competing factions to consolidate her rule. I can be a benevolent dictator who provides for settlers even while investing scarce resources in the creation of her own giant mansion in the middle of town. I don’t have to be nice. I face no pressure to perform in the feminine ways expected of me in my lived reality. No one holds against me that I am not maternal, nurturing, pliant, or agreeable. I don’t feel like I must apologize for my successes or my power. So I don’t care if Fallout 4’s narrative of specialness is disconnected from reality—sometimes, I want to experience subject positions for which my reality refuses to allow or that may be in direct contradiction to the kind of person I usually try to be.

Certainly, these appeals still fall into those narrative tropes and ideological issues that so many critics find distasteful. Everything that I have said could also just as easily be said by a white male who believes himself to be disempowered and who wishes to also have the experiences of being an indomitable fighter and a selfish, capitalist tyrant. However, that does not prevent my experience of Fallout 4 from being meaningful to me in ways that criticism often overlooks, due to my position as a woman and the opportunities afforded to me by playing as a woman protagonist of my own determination. Thus, even as they may appear to reproduce patriarchal structures from some angles of criticism, many video games nevertheless may offer opportunities for experiences outside of or in opposition to the oppressive binds that shape the daily lives of many players.

While we could dismiss the hackneyed and overused special-hero structure, condemn it, and call for its absolute eradication from the gaming landscape, I don’t think that this would be an entirely thoughtful approach (although this doesn’t mean that the AAA industry couldn’t cut back on its use). Instead, I think we could reevaluate the potentialities of these experiences for those that occupy marginalized positions. We should continue calling for the further blasting-open of these subject positions in video games, to allow them to be experienced by those who are often denied power. One way of approaching this goal is to not limit our criticisms of these structures to the import that they may have for hegemonic subjectivities. We must open our criticism to the possibilities for alternative, resistant forms of play and experience.

Stephanie Jennings is a graduate student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She can be found on Twitter @stephaniejngs.

23 Nov 17:25

Faster food: Bicycle delivery by Hurrier

by dandy


Mckenzie Bauer used to drive for Uber, but decided to hop on his bike to deliver food for Hurrier three months ago. Photo by Tammy Thorne.

Faster food: Bicycle delivery by Hurrier

Food delivery by bike set to open in Vancouver, just expanded to Montreal

Story by Amelia Brown

The average delivery time for a meal ordered through Hurrier — including the time it takes to cook the meal and deliver it from one of many popular downtown restaurants to your door — is 35 minutes.

The wait for a table at some of these restaurants could be well over half an hour, but the minds behind the growing food-delivery service by bike think they can be even faster.

"We want to get the average delivery time down to 30 minutes," says David Albert, managing director at Hurrier. "To do that, we just need to get a little bit better at every part of the process." He adds,  "From our experience, there is a real appetite for what we’re providing."

"Every part" includes many moving pieces; from placing the orders and making sure they're received by one of the 166 partner restaurants (most of which are popular destinations with busy kitchens), to trying to get a courier there close to the exact minute the order is ready, to forming the fastest routes for the cycle messengers to get the food to its drop-off point. Included in those improvements are infrastructure updates like bike lanes that can make it faster for cyclists to get through the downtown core en masse. "The easier it is for our couriers to get around the city, the better it is for us, for sure," Albert says.

The technology that Hurrier developed allows them to do all of the logistics of delivery in-house. That means the couriers don't use a traditional dispatch system. Instead they use an app on their phone that alerts them when they have a new delivery, allows them to accept the pick-up, and then tells them exactly where and when to pick it up and where to drop it off - with a suggested route to get there. Says Albert; "We're able to drop delivery times down very significantly compared to other delivery systems."


Photo courtesy of Hurrier

Another bonus of Hurrier versus traditional food delivery is their niche. From their launch in 2013, the aim has been to build partnerships with a small group of restaurants that offer high-quality food — instead of the typical pizza delivery, you can order food from places like Grand Electric, Fresh, The Burger's Priest and Ravi Soups through the app.

In the end, the seamless streamlining of tech, good food and bicycle couriers is what makes Hurrier popular with hungry urbanites.

And Hurrier has successfully carved out their place in Toronto's food delivery scene and exploited the potential in offering fast, high-quality food with environmentally-friendly delivery methods. This past September, Hurrier was acquired by Rocket Internet, an internet platform with companies that span the globe. Hurrier fits under Foodora, Rocket's food-delivery company that operates in many different countries. David Albert joined Hurrier through the Rocket acquisition.

And it's been a busy season for the fast-growing company; Hurrier expanded their service to Montreal in September, where they are currently forging partnerships with restaurants and couriers.

A launch in Vancouver is in the works for early next year, but Hurrier is far from settling down.

"We've really only scratched the surface of where we're going," Albert says. "If we really want to make sure that we have the best restaurant names on board — and I think we've proven that our model works for them — we're definitely looking for more restaurants to work with, and getting more customers to be able to enjoy the service."

In large American cities like New York, almost all food delivery is done by bike and there are multitudes of food delivery apps to choose from that cater to different cravings: high-quality food from apps like Caviar, curated food delivery from Served by Stadium, even chef-prepared ready-to-cook meals from Munchery. Here in Toronto, Hurrier competes with Just Eat (which has recently acquired OrderIt), Foodee and, more recently, UberEATS.

The new technology takes a little longer to get to us says Albert: "It's a factor of the economy, the people building these technologies are going to gravitate towards the larger populations. As they get larger, they're also able to offer it to Canadians, but it takes a bit of time."

Part of Hurrier's growing pains are getting more hungry Canadians to use their app.

As Hurrier expands to different Canadian cities, they aim to keep each operation as locally-oriented as possible, forging partnerships with the best restaurants the city has to offer, but also hiring couriers and management staff that know the city well.


Alex Paterson used to be a courier with Hurrier before joining the team full-time. Photo courtesy Alex Paterson

Alex Paterson worked as a courier with Hurrier for five months before joining the team in the King Street office as a courier growth associate; managing the courier operations and recruiting new cyclists to join the growing fleet.

Between August and November of 2014, Paterson was working eight to ten hours a day, five days a week as a courier, running an average 0f two and a half orders an hour — 28 orders in a ten hour day. Paterson will still hop on his bike and run deliveries on his weekends.

"It's not a leisurely commute" Paterson says, "It's all about maximizing the number of orders you can process in a day."

Although the area that Hurrier services stretches east from Leslieville, west to Keele and north to Dupont, most of the deliveries are within the financial and entertainment districts, in the west end on King and Queen.

After the traffic, the next biggest challenge is the weather, but, Paterson says, he hopes poor weather conditions don't stop people from ordering from Hurrier: "In rainy conditions I've had people say they feel bad for me out there, but the reality is that I'm prepared for it: it's my job."

McKenzie Bauer's been with Hurrier for three months — the same amount of time he's been a bicycle courier — and it's his first winter "on the road" as they say. Bauer says he heard it's going to be mild this winter, but no matter the conditions, Hurrier is still the fastest way to get your food.

"We are, over time, adding cars deliverers to our fleet and we will be able to get really intelligent about whether to dispatch a car versus a bike given the specific distance," Albert says.

 The average length a meal travels on the basket of a Hurrier bicycle is two kilometres, and it's hardly ever more than three or four kilometres, since the customer is charged by distance.

Food delivery by bicycle just makes sense on the busy streets of downtown Toronto. Unlike New York where there are many different companies delivering different things with bike couriers, in Canada, Hurrier is leading the way in meal delivery by bike. At dandyhorse, we want to see all small deliveries in the downtown core done by bike.

Related on the dandyBLOG:

dandyARCHIVE: The bikes that feed the world

Don't fall for fall: Leaves in the bike lane

Heels on Wheels: Lilly's Lunches

In the saddle with world renowned bike messenger Austin Horse

23 Nov 18:10

Building A Closer Team With Your Colleagues

by Richard Millington

You probably don’t work in isolation.

You work with colleagues. You probably work as part of a team of 3 to 15 people. You have a boss. You might have subordinates. You spend a lot of time communicating with each of them in person, on Slack, and other channels.

There are dozens of tiny tweaks you can make every day to build stronger connections between that team. You don’t need to be the boss to do any of them. Nor do you any more resources than you already have.

Consider the following:

In your interactions with colleagues do you:

  • Including references to the past to create a sense of shared history?
  • Highlight contributions of individual members to the group?
  • Tell newcomers about the history and unique culture of the group?
  • Organize off-site activities/meet-ups?
  • Participate to gain more connections, deliver expertise, or become more likable?
  • Ensure the team has specific, hard, goals?
  • Subtly push for higher levels of self-disclosure? Do you encourage members to share what each are doing, thinking, feeling, and fearing on a regular basis?
  • Introducing rituals and traditions from pre-existing activities?

None of the above cost a penny to implement. None of the above require the direct permission of your boss. Yet all of them will help you build a far better working environment than the one you have today.

It doesn’t take much to change what you’re doing and build a stronger team around yourself. It’s this very thing that will propel you higher up the career ladder.

23 Nov 18:14 Goes Open Source, Launches Mac App

by Federico Viticci

Big news from the WordPress community today: has relaunched with a brand new interface to manage blogs and Jetpack-enabled websites, a new codebase (called Calypso) and API based on JavaScript, and an open source foundation:

A little over a year and a half ago, we challenged ourselves to find a fresh way to interact with WordPress, and now we're ready to unveil what we've been working on. The new interface is built from the ground up as a single JavaScript application that relies on the REST API to communicate to the WordPress core.

I took the new management interface for a spin with MacStories, and it looks great. Clean, responsive, faster than ever. The people who worked on Calypso clearly put a lot of thought and willingness to start fresh into this.

As for existing WordPress users (both .com and self-hosted versions):

If you’re an existing user, you already are! Elements of the new have been progressively launched over the past eighteen months. If you run your own self-hosted WordPress site, you can install the Jetpack plugin to use the Calypso-based editing and management tools. Your site will be ready to go once you log in to

A new Mac app has been released to manage all WordPress sites on the desktop, and Automattic told me the mobile apps have already been built on this backend as well.

Last, make sure to check out Matt Mullenweg (CEO of Automattic) on today's launch and decision to go open source:

A lot of people thought we should keep this proprietary, but throughout my life I’ve learned that the more you give away, the more you get back. We still have a ton to figure out around plugins, extensibility, contributions, Windows and Linux releases, API speed, localization, and harmonizing the API and WP-API so it can work with core WordPress. Thousands more PHP developers will need to become fluent with JavaScript to recreate their admin interfaces in this fashion. I’m also really excited to revisit and redesign many more screens now that we have this first version out the door.

This is a beginning, not an ending. (1.0 is the loneliest.) Better things are yet to come, as all of you dig in.

WordPress is such a great success story. I'm very happy I chose to use it over six years ago.

23 Nov 17:01

Dance to Calypso

by Matt

One of the hardest things to do in technology is disrupt yourself.

But we’re trying our darndest, and have some cool news to introduce today. When I took on the responsibility of CEO of Automattic January of last year, we faced two huge problems: our growth was constrained by lack of capital, and the technological foundations of the past decade weren’t strong enough for the demands of next one.

The first has a relatively straightforward answer. We found some fantastic partners, agreed on a fair price, issued new equity in the company to raise $160M, and started investing in areas we felt were high potential, like this year’s WooCommerce acquisition. This “war chest” gives us a huge array of options, especially given our fairly flat burn rate — we don’t need to raise money again to keep the company going, and any capital we raise in the future will be purely discretionary. (Since last May when the round happened we’ve only spent $3M of the investment on opex.)

The second is much harder to address. The WordPress codebase is actually incredible in many ways — the result of many thousands of people collaborating over 13 years — but some of WordPress’ greatest strengths were also holding it back.

The WordPress codebase contains a sea of institutional knowledge and countless bug fixes. It handles hundreds of edge cases. Integrates constant security improvements. Is coded to scale. Development moves at a fast clip, with six major releases over the past two years and more around the corner. Its power and flexibility is undeniable: WordPress just passed a huge milestone, and now powers 25% of the web. You can run it on a $5-a-month web host, or scale it up to serve billions of pageviews on one of the largest sites on the web,

The interface, however, has been a struggle. Many of us attempted to give it a reboot with the MP6 project and the version 3.8 release, but what that release made clear to me is that an incremental approach wouldn’t give us the improvements we needed, and that two of the things that helped make WordPress the strong, stable, powerful tool it is — backward compatibility and working without JavaScript — were actually holding it back.

The basic paradigms of wp-admin are largely the same as they were five years ago. Working within them had become limiting. The time seemed ripe for something new, something big… but if you’re going to break back compat, it needs to be for a really good reason. A 20x improvement, not a 2x. Most open source projects fade away rather than make evolutionary jumps.

So we asked ourselves a big question. What would we build if we were starting from scratch today, knowing all we’ve learned over the past 13 years of building WordPress? At the beginning of last year, we decided to start experimenting and see.

Today we’re announcing something brand new, a new approach to WordPress, and open sourcing the code behind it. The project, codenamed Calypso, is the culmination of more than 20 months of work by dozens of the most talented engineers and designers I’ve had the pleasure of working with (127 contributors with over 26,000 commits!).


Calypso is…

  • Incredibly fast. It’ll charm you.
  • Written purely in JavaScript, leveraging libraries like Node and React.
  • 100% API-powered. Those APIs are open, and now available to every developer in the world.
  • A great place to read, allowing you to follow sites across the web (even if they’re not using WordPress).
  • Social, with stats, likes, and notifications baked in.
  • Fully responsive. Make it small and put it in your sidebar, or go full-screen.
  • Really fun to write in, especially the drag-and-drop image uploads.
  • Fully multi-site for advanced users, so you can manage hundreds of WordPresses from one place.
  • Able to manage plugins and themes on Jetpack sites, including auto-upgrading them!
  • 100% open source, with all future development happening in the open.
  • Available for anyone to adapt to make their own, including building custom interfaces, distributions, or working with web services besides

A lot of people thought we should keep this proprietary, but throughout my life I’ve learned that the more you give away, the more you get back. We still have a ton to figure out around plugins, extensibility, contributions, Windows and Linux releases, API speed, localization, and harmonizing the API and WP-API so it can work with core WordPress. Thousands more PHP developers will need to become fluent with JavaScript to recreate their admin interfaces in this fashion. I’m also really excited to revisit and redesign many more screens now that we have this first version out the door.

This is a beginning, not an ending. (1.0 is the loneliest.) Better things are yet to come, as all of you dig in. Check out these links to read more about Calypso from different perpsectives:

This was a huge bet, incredibly risky, and difficult to execute, but it paid off. Like any disruption it is uncomfortable, and I’m sure will be controversial in some circles. What the team has accomplished in such a short time is amazing, and I’m incredibly proud of everyone who has contributed and will contribute in the future. This is the most exciting project I’ve been involved with in my career.

With core WordPress on the server and Calypso as a client I think we have a good chance to bring another 25% of the web onto open source, making the web a more open place, and people’s lives more free.

If you’re curious more about the before and after, what’s changed, here’s a chart:



22 Nov 21:33

Twitter Favorites: [_Reinette] The biggest lesson of my 30s so far: it's fine to be screwed up, most everyone is. Fine, as long as you're actively trying to get better.

Renée @_Reinette
The biggest lesson of my 30s so far: it's fine to be screwed up, most everyone is. Fine, as long as you're actively trying to get better.
23 Nov 12:26

Rumor: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge to come with a 5.7-inch curved screen, microSD card slot set to return

by Rajesh Pandey
With all major device launches from Samsung done for this year, enthusiasts and analysts are eagerly looking forward to early next year when Samsung is rumored to launch the Galaxy S7. While the handset is still more than a couple of months away from its official unveiling, rumors about it have been making their way to the world wide web of internet almost every other week. Continue reading →
22 Nov 18:16

A View of Future Roads

by Ken Ohrn


Matt McFarland writes in the Washington Post about the future of transportation.  Yup, like Yogi Berra, he knows it’s hard to get it right.

His article shares some thoughts about the probable emergence of autonomous motor vehicles — self-driving cars.  His thinking is informed by this report from KPMG.


Mr. McFarland does not treat the countervailing forces of increasing urban density, walkability, bikeability and transit that may offset significant amounts of motor vehicle traffic. This is the case here in dear old Soggyville, where motor vehicle traffic entering the downtown core is decreasing, even as jobs and population there are increasing.

The KPMG report, from their automotive practice, makes similar assumptions — namely that the future will be the same as today (all cars all the time) except with lots more fancy automation.

As Yogi Berra said:  “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future”. It’s probably the case here, too.

Many thanks to Chris Bruntlett at Modacity for the link.


23 Nov 18:25

Unintended Irony

by Ken Ohrn

Here’s a video from VanCity Buzz that invites people to the new New Year’s Eve Vancouver celebrations in dear old Soggyville.  It is a mosaic of people from all streams and corners of our diverse city, with socially-inclusive and welcoming messages.  Really, a mini-portrait of our society.  Look for Gordon Price to say a few words.

Irony?  Well, the production company is called “Antisocial Media Solutions”.  It looks to me like they’re anything but . . . .


23 Nov 21:35

Is the Party Over?

by Ken Ohrn

The party may not yet be over, but the hosts are starting to take out some trash and open some curtains.

Here’s a short round-up of climate-related events from the last little while.  There’s an emerging pattern. It’s moving almost too fast to chronicle, and there’s no doubt it involves Vancouver and BC.

Here in Soggyville, City Council has set ambitious goals and attracted world-wide attention for its climate leadership.  Among other things: a Greenest City Action Plan  aiming for world-leading sustainability; a Renewable City Strategy aiming to switch the city to renewable energy by 2050; and a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, since it all may not move fast enough to eliminate problems for a coastal city.

In Alberta, the NDP Provincial Gov’t has set ambitious goals and attracted world-wide attention for its new climate leadership, based on this report from its Climate Leadership Panel. Premier Notley’s announcement was a knockout: phase out coal, ramp up wind power, backed up by natural gas; tax carbon (economy-wide); reduce energy demand; cap tar sands emissions; reduce methane emissions. Industry CEO’s from Suncor, CNRL, Cenovus and Shell stood in favour, possibly hoping for a future where tar sands oil becomes more acceptable to US and other regulators, and un-strands some assets.

In Ottawa, the new Federal Gov’t has set ambitious goals and is attracting world-wide attention. Carbon pricing; banning oil tankers on BC’s north coast, which could kill the Northern Gateway pipeline; restore and broaden the environmental review process; end to fossil-fuel subsidies.

When things change, sometimes it happens fast. And even a climate pariah can pivot to a new direction.


23 Nov 21:19

Email to 2Do

by Federico Viticci

2Do is the task manager I've been using since August. I'm planning to write about it – the app is just so feature-rich, I'm still exploring all its possibilities. In the meantime, 2Do's developer has announced today an optional $2.99 add-on that will soon enable 2Do users to capture emails directly from the app.

Email to 2Do is an optional one-time-only purchasable add-on that you’ll be able to buy ($2.99) and configure in zero time, starting v3.8. For those unconvinced, we’re so sure you’ll love it that it’ll come with a free trial period of 14 days (which other iOS app does that?). The possibilities are endless. You could create a special email address for 2Do and remotely forward or send emails to this address for 2Do to pick up behind the scenes and convert to tasks. You could even use this with IFTTT! Currently we plan on supporting all major IMAP service providers, including but not limited to: iCloud, Google, Outlook, Yahoo! and of course your very own custom IMAP server.

2Do has always remained true to its core goals – which has been to provide you with tools that work with services you choose for yourself, not the other way round. 2Do syncs with the service you’re comfortable with, and will now integrate seamlessly with an email address from your service provider of choice.

No todo app has ever really perfected the email capturing experience – the disconnect between email clients and apps on iOS is too big to overcome it with URL schemes or IFTTT workarounds. 2Do's email feature sounds like an integrated approach – an actual email plugin into the app that checks for messages saved in a certain way, transforming them to tasks.

I'm curious to check this out. In the meantime, you can request access to the beta here.

23 Nov 21:38

Tokens Adds Support for Apple TV Apps

by Federico Viticci

From the Tokens blog:

Today, we’re proud to launch Tokens 1.5. This update brings support for Apple TV apps and marks an interesting point in the development of the app.

iTunes Connect (iTC) has changed a lot in the years since we first launched Tokens. The first version interacted with iTC entirely by scraping HTML. This technique was inherently slow and fragile. A chain of page requests were required for every query and minor text changes on iTC could break our scraping code. Over the last two years, iTC has improved dramatically in this respect; it is now almost entirely a modern front end web application backed by a JSON API.

If you're a Mac or iOS developer, Tokens is a must-have. With the latest iTunes Connect changes, the app can even work for users limited to Marketing roles. Tokens is only $29 – a steal considering the time it'll save you for generating and saving promo codes.

23 Nov 21:38

About (coming soon)

A few notes about the new blogging software I'm working on.

It continues on the same approach I took with Manila, and refined with Radio UserLand. A home page from which everything radiates. 

A focus on simplicity, an intense level of factoring to reduce the number of steps it takes to post something new or edit an existing post.

I wanted the fluidity of Twitter and Facebook. It should be just as easy to create a new post as it is to write a tweet, of course without the 140 char limit.

Here's a screen shot of me editing the initial version of this post.

The central innovation of Manila was Edit This Page. I take that one step further in this product. If you see something that needs changing, just click, edit, Save. This is easier than Facebook, and of course editing posts is not possible in Twitter.

I think of this as the first post-Twitter post-Facebook blogging system. 

The motto of the software: Blogging like it's 1999!

The name of the product:

A picture of a slice of cheese cake.

PS: This is a post.

23 Nov 00:00

How the current world transformations will affect your life ?


Diane Lenne with Mona Saïdi, We are the PROJECTS, Nov 25, 2015

The observations in this article will be familiar to most OLDaily readers, but they're put together in a nice way and I like the diagram. And I like the idea that people should be able to create their own path. "More and more third-places (coworking, fab and open labs, hacker and maker spaces) are gathering communities of people who work and learn together/ where the frontier between professional and personal life is fading away. In a way, it enables more authenticity at work." The  website as a whole looks pretty interesting too.

[Link] [Comment]
23 Nov 00:00

Does Common Core hurt introverted students?


Alison DeNisco, District Administration, Nov 25, 2015

The traditional classroom "allowed introverted students to be invisible during lessons but achieve on tests," writes Alison DeNisco, but Susan Cain "criticizes schools and other institutions for primarily accommodating extroverts, who are more likely to participate in class and to enjoy the stimulation of group work." I see the point in that. I am not an extrovert, and far prefer working on my own (and doggedly formed 'groups of one' throughout grade school). But this isn't something unique to Common Core. A lot of modern pedagogy in general recommends collaborative learning above all else. I don't, though - I think people should be able to choose whether they want to work with others or not.

[Link] [Comment]
23 Nov 00:00

Vlogging, Teens, and Literacy: Engaging Youth


Antero Garcia, School Library Journal, Nov 25, 2015

In 2004 I was  recommending that students take up blogging. But it's 2015 now - should they take up video blogging (aka vlogging?). It's not an automatic - vlogging at its simplest can be a person talking into a camera, and at its most extreme can involve a GoPro and outrageous acts. And everything in between. "Offering tutorials on makeup application, riffing about something seen on the subway, or repeatedly failing at video games: these are all legitimate varieties of content that teens are watching, viewing, and learning about and from. And that’ s pretty neat. But it also warrants vigilant viewing and engagement on our parts."

[Link] [Comment]
23 Nov 23:27

Deals: Our upcoming pick for the best MicroSD card, the Samsung EVO+ 64GB microSD card, is down to $18 (from $29)

by WC Staff

Best Deals: Our upcoming pick for the best MicroSD card, the Samsung EVO+ 64GB microSD card, is down to $18 (from $29). [Best Buy]