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17 Oct 20:42

Getting started with SystemML

by Thejesh GN

I have been exploring data as part of work and hobby for a long time. My process mostly involves clean up, analyze and visualize. Something that has always interested me but never gotten around to experiment was recommendations. I have done some rudimentary recommendations but never deep dive into it. Never explored machine learning to enhance it. But in last few months it has changed. I have explored few algorithms, frameworks. Once I got comfortable with that part, my immediate next challenge was deployment. How would I deploy such a system? Since my main programming language was Python, the system needs to accommodate it. Also I wanted a setup that could be deployed for a medium scale system to a reasonably huge system.

Welcome to SystemML

SystemML was created in 2010 by researchers at the IBM Almaden Research Center, it’s a high-level declarative machine learning language which comes in two flavors R-lang syntax type and Python syntax type. It was designed to make machine learning algorithms written in R-lang or Python to scale using distributed computing. Without SystemML programmers will have to rewrite the algorithms in Scala or Java to scale, which is such a waste of time. Given my preferred programming language is Python. SystemML is a blessing in disguise.

Now one can write the machine learning algorithm in DML (R-lang flavor) or PyDML (Python flavor) . DML/PyDML scripts can be run on Spark, on Hadoop, or in Standalone mode. Here we will experiment first in standalone mode and next Spark.

SystemML also exposes a MLContext API using which SystemML can be accessed from a Jupyter Notebook via Python. So if you or your team is used to notebooks then no problem, you can use the same code experimented at scale. This is my favorite way to experiment as well. We will try to explore this too.

Install SystemML and Run Hello World

Install standalone SystemML by using one of the available binaries. Once installed you will have access to or runStandaloneSystemML.bat that can be used run PyDML scripts. Le’s start with running the hello world program given on this page by passing the script name and arguments to the For the sake of ease I have republished the code here

print('hello ' + $1)

Run it using command line using standalone SystemML

./ hello.pydml -args world

Run advanced program using Spark

SystemML was created to run on platforms meant to scale. Algorithms written in SysteMML be run on Hadoop, on Spark without change. I really like Apache Spark.

Apache Spark originally developed at the UC, Berkeley’s AMPLab, is a cluster computing API. In simple words Spark has a main program which executes certain operations in parallel on cluster. The center of the setup is resilient distributed dataset (RDD), its a fault tolerant collection of elements that can be operated on in parallel. This RDD is what makes data available cluster. SystemML scales on Apache spark like a dream. SystemML also has Machine Learning API’s. The examples below is in PyDML

#If you don't have java installed then install java
sudo apt-get install default-jdk

#Install Scala then
sudo apt-get install scala

#Download spark pre-built for Hadoop 2.7 version of Spark
#in my case file name was  spark-2.2.0-bin-hadoop2.7.tgz

#Extract the tgz
tar xvf spark-2.2.0-bin-hadoop2.7.tgz

#Set env variables in .bashrc and restart the shell
#assuming you have extracted the spark in your home folder
nano .bashrc

#add the following at the end of the .bashrc 
export SPARK_HOME=~/spark-2.2.0-bin-hadoop2.7 

#reload .bashrc
source ~/.bashrc

#Run locally, inside bin
#the above command will open the spark shell prompt, like below. Where you can 
#enter the scala code
#Welcome to
#      ____              __
#     / __/__  ___ _____/ /__
#    _\ \/ _ \/ _ `/ __/  '_/
#   /___/ .__/\_,_/_/ /_/\_\   version 2.2.0
#      /_/
#Using Scala version 2.11.8 (OpenJDK 64-Bit Server VM, Java 1.8.0_76-release)
#Type in expressions to have them evaluated.
#Type :help for more information.
#you can also start python interface to Spark by running

#Python 2.7.12 (default, Nov 19 2016, 06:48:10) 
#Welcome to
#      ____              __
#     / __/__  ___ _____/ /__
#    _\ \/ _ \/ _ `/ __/  '_/
#   /__ / .__/\_,_/_/ /_/\_\   version 2.2.0
#      /_/
#Using Python version 2.7.12 (default, Nov 19 2016 06:48:10)
#SparkSession available as 'spark'.

You can try the following Hello world on pyspark prompt
>>> print "Hello World"
Hello World

Connect to Jupyter Notebook

Apache Spark can be used through python API called pySpark. It’s the way most Pythonistats use Spark. Another great tool used by data scientsts is Jupyter notebooks. PySpark integrates very well with Jupyter notebooks. That means you can code into SystemML (pyDML) in jupyter notebook and scale using the Apache Spark. That brings everything we dream together right?

Install Jupyter and SystemML

pip install jupyter
!pip install SystemML

We have already installed Spark and set the environments already. Then configure pyspark to use Juypter Notebooks


Setup local hadoop common library. Download hadoop library.. Extract and set the HADOOP_HOME


Restart the pyspark which should start the Juypter Notebook in the browser so you can use it.


Once all these individual pieces are working. You can get the spark context to use from SystemML inside Jupyter

	import systemml
	from systemml import MLContext, dml
	ml = MLContext(sc)
	print (ml.buildTime())
	#it will print something like 2017-01-26 21:13:34 UTC
Running SystemML on Jupyter.

Running SystemML on Jupyter.

Now create your algorithm in SystemML (pyDML) on Jupyter Notebooks. Run it on Spark when you are ready. You can run the one like this locally.

Run ML using Notebook on Bluemix

Jupyter Notebook is my way of using SystemML+Spark on local computer. But if you are a data scientist and want to get productive instantly then best way would be to use IBM Data Science Experience. Once you create the account, open the default project (if there is no default project create one) and then create a notebook.

Create a new Jupyter Notebook.

Create a new Jupyter Notebook.

While you are creating the project select Python and Instance of Spark. You can create a free lite instance of Spark on IBM Bluemix. Once you click on the create, the notebook gets created and gets linked to Spark.

Select an instance of Spark to be associated with this NoteBook.

Select an instance of Spark to be associated with this NoteBook.

The you can start using SystemML by importing the SystemML package.

Run your SystemML

Run your SystemML

Now you are running code written in SystemML using Jupyter Notebook on Apache Spark. Once your algorithm is complete, you can schedule the notebook as a job. What could be easier than this?

17 Oct 20:38

Fly Janet

by (Cal Henderson)

Jalopnik's in depth look at Janet airplanes, the secret airline that flies between Las Vegas and secret government facilities is crazy interesting.

There are a ton of links off to a mix of conspiracy theories and stuff that really happened, including the scary-looking X-37B robotic space plane.

Some holes to fall down:
• The rumored Aurora reconnaissance aircraft
• Rat 55, the stealth 737

17 Oct 20:38


by Reverend

The Streets of Torino

A little over two weeks ago I ventured to nearby Torino, Italy for the final two days of a week-long training event that is part of the OpenMed initiative. What’s OpenMed, well I am glad you asked:

Five partners from Europe and nine from South Mediterranean Countries are working together to widening participation and adoption of Open Educational Resources (OER) and Open Educational Practices (OEP) as a bottom-up approach to support the modernisation of the Higher Education sector in MoroccoPalestineEgypt and Jordan.

It was an interesting get together to say the least. There were over 80 faculty and administrators from universities all over Northern African and the Middle East, and it was cool to hear their unique contexts. Some were serving as many as 250,000 students (insane), while others depended directly on creating their own textbooks for at least part of their livelihood, and still others were pushing forward with a declaration for open. There were both public universities and private universities, and at many of these institutions there was no such thing as tuition. I learned more from casual conversations that offered a glimpse into the world of their various universities than they could have possibly gotten from my talk. When I arrived that first day I felt utterly unprepared to talk to this group. I was fortunate enough to spend the afternoon in a session wherein various faculty highlighted how they envisioned incorporating “open” into their classrooms. There was some great stuff.

One of the things that I found compelling was a business professor from Palestine teaches her students about the Palestine Exchange, but all the open resources are geared towards the large Western exchange markets. Her vision was to turn her class visits to the Palestine Exchange into a series of educational resources her students will create through video interviews, blog reflections, web resources, etc. I couldn’t help but get excited, seems to me the most important aspect of open is the creative, communal act of a group of students reaching out and doing the work. I do greatly enjoy sitting around talking about possibilities for making courses more compelling by integrating small acts of open.

Additionally, I was really blown away by the workshop Daniel Villar-Onrubio led using the Image Collector SPLOT. What better way to highlight how to commit small acts of open than with a simple publishing tool. The workshop was spent highlighting how to use the tool by encouraging the 80+ participants to upload images and create a repository specific to the here and now of the OpenMed event.* It was a huge success, and it included all the usual discussions of licensing, re-use, and sharing, but thanks to the SPLOT they had an immediacy and shared purpose that didn’t seem doctrinaire or preachy. It was a masterful workshop.

I provided the presentation on the final day, with the idea of thinking outside the fairly narrow definition of OERs as a series of textbooks and licenses. My talk was not as sharp as it could have been. I had the right metaphor, but my timing and delivery was a bit off. It was a brand new talk framed around the idea of a Mediterranean Diet of Open Edtech, and as I tweeted soon after the talk:

I do think I got across my major points: use the open web as your platform, resist the urge to reduce open to a cost-saving textbook, and small tools are beautiful (SPLOTS, blogs, etc.). As always though, I ranged widely, but that is what keeps it fun.  Special thanks to Cristina Setfanelli and Fabio Nascimbeni for having me at this event, it was great to catch up with Daniel and Katherine Wimpenny from the Coventry Disruptive Media Lab (although Katherine has since moved to a new research group at Coventry).

The OpenMed Organizing Crew

I personally appreciate these gatherings because I get a look inside how Europeans are trying to build bridges and create connections with the Southern Mediterranean countries. It’s also nice to feel a bit more connected to the edtech world in Europe, and thanks to Fabio Italy more specifically. Fabio is awesome, and I really hope to work more with him over the coming years here in Italy. He has a great way about him, and his understanding of policy and how things work and what needs to get done are impressive. And watching him and Cristina Stefanelli works with the various parties at OpenMed to try and map out a localized strategy for open was eye-opening. Cristina appeared an organizational mastermind, and the tenor and quality of the OpenMed event spoke volumes to that. It was a fun event for many reasons, not least of which to see a possible path for me to try and embed myself a bit more deeply in the European edtech world. But damn i have a lot to learn, including the Italian language!

*I was sad to see the site empty two weeks later. Turns out Daniel just moved the repository to the OpenMed site here: It is so beautiful!

17 Oct 20:38

Gyroscope to automatically track your health data

by Nathan Yau

I’m surprised I’m just now hearing about Gyroscope. It’s an app that automatically tracks your health data and then generates reports, both digitally and in print format. An “OS for the human body” it says.

Might give it a go.

Tags: app, health

17 Oct 20:38

My Personal TEL Mission Statement

by Tony Hirst

Technology Enhanced Learning  (TEL) is “a thing” in the OU at the moment. I have no idea what folk (think they) mean by it.

Here’s what I mean by it, in the form of my own, ad hoc eTEL – emerging technology enhanced learning – mission statement.

What I aspire to is:

  • explore how we might be able to use and repurpose emerging technology to support distance education;
  • use the technology we teach our students about to deliver that teaching;
  • use the technology we teach our students about to support that teaching;
  • use the technology we teach our students about to produce the courses we are teaching;
  • expose our students to emerging technologies that they can take and use in the outside world.

This obviously raises tensions, particularly where courses take two years to produce and then ideally (in the eyes of the organisation) remain unchanged for 5 years. The first step is risky, because it means trying new ways of doing things. The last step relates to my belief that universities should be helping push new ideas, technologies, techniques and processes out into society using our students as a vector.

17 Oct 20:38

Keeping Kid's Clothes to a Minimum in 600 square feet

by Alison Mazurek

I have been wanting to write this for a while but I keep hesitating as I have not created perfect minimal wardrobes for my kids. But I am not perfect at minimalism or small space living and that's never stopped me from sharing before so not sure why clothes makes me so nervous! I hope that by sharing what works for us and what doesn't, it will motivate me to do better in the areas I am lacking in. I also know that you guys have some great systems and ideas that I hope you will share. I am always so impressed by the generous sharing of information and ideas in the comments of this blog (Thank you, thank you!) 

Start with Less:

To begin, I try my best to not over buy clothes for either kid. And this is tough! Especially when kid's clothes are so cute! And when I fall in love with beautiful brands. But I try to follow simple rules. Less is definitely more but I find I am much more disciplined when it comes to outerwear and shoes than I am with clothing. I know each kid only needs a few good pairs of pants and a few good tops but I let others sneak in to the wardrobe because they are small and adorable. Later I regret this because it means more decisions to make in the morning and more laundry every week. And in the end they only have a few outfits I love that I just put them in over and over again so all the fluff needs to go! Below is a list of my current Fall/Winter efforts at minimizing their wardrobe. In brackets are some of the items where I have overdone it.

Theo 4 Years

3-5 pairs of pants
4 long sleeved shirts
4 short sleeved shirts (probably has 10)
2 overalls
3 sweater/sweatshirts
1 cardigan

Mae 15 months

4 dresses (probably has 6)
2 overalls
4 pants/leggings (probably has 6)
4 tops (Probably has 10)
3 tights
3 kneehigh socks
2 sweaters

Outerwear for Both:

1 Winter Coat
1 Fall Coat
1 Muddy Buddy
1 Rain Coat
1 Runners (Theo usually has 2)
1 Rain Boots
1 Snow Boots


1 Swimsuit
1 Hat
2 Toques 

Rules of Shopping:

I also apply the same rules to the kid's clothes as I do to my own. I try and ask myself these questions when choosing their clothes:

Do they really need this?
Could I wait to purchase it?
Is there something they currently own that could achieve the same purpose?
Can I name 4 outfits involving this piece?
Following the One in One out rule... so what is leaving if I am buying this piece?

and these additional questions...
How big can I possibly buy this and have it still be wearable to get the most use out of it?
Can I get this second-hand or borrowed?

Accept Hand-Me-Downs Selectively:

I'm selective about accepting hand-me-downs. I gratefully accept hand-me-downs (they are the best!) but I will first ask if they want the clothes back or want me to pass them on to someone else and I am up front that I can only take what I really need to ensure feelings aren't hurt. I try to remember my list above of what the kids really need versus what is cute. 


I wrote before about sharing baby gear (Previous post here) and I think the same can be done with baby and kid clothes and accessories (especially shoes and coats). I believe in sharing as much as possible to get the most wear out of tiny clothes and shoes but you can't be to precious about them. I am lucky to have a few friends where our kid's are close enough in age that we keep in communication about clothing we are parting with to see if the other needs them. We are all trying to keep clothes to a minimum, though we still care about aesthetics. A quick text with photos and "do you need this?" seems to be the best route and then meeting up as soon as possible to get the clothes out of your house. 

When I don't have a friend to give something to and I just need to get it out of my home, I also donate to our local thrift store. I often have thoughts of consigning clothes but I am never organized enough to drop off the clothes on the one day a month they accept consignments. 

No Room for Sentimentality:

The reality is, in a small space there is very little room to save multiple clothes and blankets and accessories for keepsakes. This is one reason I take so many pictures of my kids. I don't want to forget what they looked like, what they wore, how little they were. But I don't need to hang on to the physical item to reminisce. I don't think clothes sitting in a box on a shelf for years is serving anyone. So I pass on the kid's clothes to friends with kids that can use the clothes right away. To answer a question I have been asked a lot... where do I save the kid's first shoes, first sleeper, first blanket... I don't. For me, those are just things that I am able to part with. 

I get so much joy from seeing my friend's kids in my kid's clothes that I carefully chose and loved. And it multiplies as I see the clothes cycle through multiple kids. I think kids clothes are meant to be worn out from being passed down and playing hard. 

Sibling Sharing:

I did save one small box of my favourite baby clothes of Theo's for Mae. In the end, Mae just never looked right in Theo's clothes and grew at such a fast rate the seasons didn't line up. I ended up giving more away than I kept 2 years after saving them. If they were the same gender I think it would have been easier to share clothes or if had planned ahead and bought more gender neutral clothes. Now when choosing key items for Theo, like rain boots or coats I try to think of Mae possibly wearing it in the future.


17 Oct 20:38

Teaching Haskell for Understanding

by Julie Moronuki

I was delighted and honored to be asked to speak at Zurihac 2017 on the topic of teaching Haskell. Teaching Haskell is something I do a fair bit of, but I struggled with how to turn it into an interesting talk for a general audience. I chose to focus on teaching Haskell the way I like to teach and learn it: for understanding.

A thing I love about Haskell is that its core logic is understandable. But what does it mean to understand something, and is it different from knowing something? I relied on writings from mathematicians such as Eugenia Cheng and William Thurston to relate the differences between knowledge, understanding, and belief and I explained some ways to help learners get from knowing that something is true to understanding why and then coming, hopefully, to intuitively grasp it, to fully own that knowledge.

Along the way, I argue that the community and culture around a programming language matter a great deal because the priorities and preferences of the people in the community dictates what libraries and tooling are available in the ecosystem, as well as how the community thinks about and values teaching, among other things.

Slides are available here.

Video is here:


William Thurston, Mathematical Education
William Thurston, On Proof and Progress in Mathematics
Eugenia Cheng, How to Bake Pi
E. W. Dijkstra, On the Cruelty of Really Teaching Computer Science
E. W. Dijkstra, Craftsman or Scientist?
William Grosso, Java and Community Support
Tim Humphries, The Round-trip Property
Lucas Di Cioccio, The Haskell Pyramid

17 Oct 20:37

Applicative and Monad

by Julie Moronuki

I presented this workshop at LambdaConf Winter Retreat in January 2017. The first hour or so is an overview of the Applicative and Monad typeclasses in Haskell: what they are and how they are different from each other. It includes a demonstration of AccValidation and why that type does not have a Monad instance. It also covers usage of ApplicativeDo.

The second portion of the talk (roughly the second half) covers building an command-line parsing application using the optparse-applicative library.

The code and slides are all available here.

Video of the talk:

17 Oct 20:37

A Survey Of The Community Manager

by Richard Millington

3 years ago, I worked on a community where about half the members I interviewed complained about the community manager.

She was too brusk, bordering on rude. She wasn’t the kind of person members wanted to help and build relationships with.

Her personality was undermining everything she wanted to achieve.

My efforts to make her aware of this were met with unsurprisingly curt responses.

So we took a different route. We ran an anonymous survey of community members. People could rate the community manager on different traits (helpfulness, knowledge, friendliness etc…) and give qualitative, constructive, suggestions as well.

The results were predictable. The feedback was honest and constructive, albeit with a pinch of bitterness over past interactions.

I shared the feedback privately with the community manager. It didn’t go well. She challenged the style of the questions, the bias of the people responding etc…etc…

But from that very day onwards, we slowly began to see her change. She became more friendly and generous with her time. She made more of an effort to get to know members and understand their emotions. She also began to build relationships with a few members.

It’s really hard to see your own flaws (I continue to speak from experience). You might disagree with collective feedback, but it’s hard to ignore it. Get someone else to run a survey of community members and gather feedback on how you’re doing. The results might completely change how you run your community.

17 Oct 20:37

Monday Tidbits to Start Your Week Off

by Ms. Jen
Here is a hodge podge of reading links I have been saving in my tidbits folder for you: Astronomers strike gold – and platinum – as they watch two neutron stars collide Kodak’s First Digital Moment In Amish Country, the Future Is Calling “Lizzie said she was upset by how people had become so attached... Read more »
17 Oct 20:37

the sleek porsche design huawei mate 10 is powered by AI technology

mkalus shared this story from the sleek porsche design huawei mate 10 is powered by AI technology – designboom | architecture & design magazine.

porsche design partners with tech giant huawei to present the much anticipated joint sleek smartphone — the porsche design huawei mate 10. at its unveiling event in munich, designboom attends the unveiling of the stunning device that combines a sophisticated aesthetic and high performance, powered by artificial intelligence. as the most exclusive of all devices across the ‘mate 10 series’, it combines porsche design’s aesthetic craft with huawei’s mobile engineering expertise.

a new 6-inch screen with 18:9 aspect ratio, barely-there-bezels and HDR10 technology make for an intensely vivid viewing experience with brighter colors

the porsche design huawei mate 10’s unique front and back cover are entirely encased in elegant yet robust glass and come in a luxurious and exclusive diamond black color. in addition to its distinctive look, the device goes beyond smart, using the transformative power of artificial intelligence (AI) to herald the dawn of an exciting new era for mobile phones. with built-in dedicated AI processor and machine learning, the porsche design huawei mate 10 is an intelligent device.

3D curved glass design, large almost borderless FullView and smudge-proof finish result in an ergonomic object that is strong enough to withstand daily wear and tear

as well as ultimate functional design, it delivers superior performance at lightning speed, responding to real-world situations and learning from the user, allowing them to perform at their ultimate. this includes a camera which features the best lenses, self-adjustment, intelligent feedback and AI enabled photo applications as well as a PRO mode to deliver unparalleled photography for users of all levels. furthermore, with a combination of 6GB RAM and 256GB ROM it is the high-end device in huawei’s current product range. it features the largest memory cortex of the whole huawei mate 10 Series, ideal for storing numerous photos, videos and documents.

easy talk technology means even the faintest whisper spoken into the porsche design huawei mate 10 will be heard clearly at the other end

top quality 12-megapixel RGB and 20-megapixel monochrome with the world’s largest f/1.6 aperture dual lenses in the new leica dual camera, along with huawei’s AI features, enable state-of-the-art photographs. powered by AI technology, the camera takes photography to the next level, from artistic to intelligent, identifying different scenes in real time – such as plant, snow, beach, and portrait. it automatically adjusts the color, contrast, brightness and exposure to produce vibrant, sharp, perfectly framed photographs. it delivers AI-powered ‘bokeh’ effect by shifting the focal point onto the subject of the photograph for picture-perfect portraits and selfies, and is even capable of capturing clear and sharp pictures of objects in motion.

the pre-installed real-time ai accelerated translator instantly translates text, voice, conversations, and images into 50+ languages across devices

17 Oct 20:36

kawahara krause suggests staggering office complex in berlin

mkalus shared this story from kawahara krause suggests staggering office complex in berlin – designboom | architecture & design magazine.

award-winning architecture firm kawahara krause unveils their latest proposal for a spacious office complex overlooking the picturesque area of heidestrasse in berlin, germany. their aim is to counter the monotony of long repetitive buildings by creating staggering volumes, affecting both the height and depth of the structures. as a result of the differentiating segments of the office complex, the project creates a sense of urban identity.

kawahara kraus heidestrasse office complex designboom
all visuals © kawahara krause architects

due to the alternating depth and height of kawahara krause’ office complex, the vertical staggering generates a roofscape that is accessible through various floors. typically, the higher the building, the more the modules protrude outward — causing an elaborate projection of light and shadows that mirrors the semblance of shifting elements.

kawahara kraus heidestrasse office complex designboom
the heidestrasse office complex is proposed in berlin
© kawahara krause architects

the ensemble of volumes is bound by a single modular construction made of precast concrete and an angular façade. despite the seeming repetition of the complex, the distinct modularity preserves the impression of diversity. in addition to its notable staggering feature, the entire facade system is further refined by the multi-colored concept.

kawahara kraus heidestrasse office complex designboom
the ensemble of volumes is bound by an angular façade
© kawahara krause architects

kawahara kraus heidestrasse office complex designboom
despite seeming repetitions the buildings are imagined with distinct modularity 
© kawahara krause architects

kawahara kraus heidestrasse office complex designboom
façade detail 
© kawahara krause architects

kawahara kraus heidestrasse office complex designboom
east and west elevations 
© kawahara krause architects

kawahara kraus heidestrasse office complex designboom
elevation detail
© kawahara krause architects

kawahara kraus heidestrasse office complex designboom
form finding process
© kawahara krause architects

kawahara kraus heidestrasse office complex designboom
axonometric drawing
© kawahara krause architects

kawahara kraus heidestrasse office complex designboom
complex of staggers volumes
© kawahara krause architects 

kawahara kraus heidestrasse office complex designboom
layout of facade modules
© kawahara krause architects

project info:

location: berlin, germany
project status: competition
main use: office
total floor area: 114.000 m
structural system: concrete
structural engineer: werner sobek
green tech: WS green technologies
cost control: prof. ulrich vetter

designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

edited by: lynn chaya | designboom

17 Oct 20:36

the feuerle collection opens immersive incense room in berlin

mkalus shared this story from immersive incense room opens inside former second world war bunker in berlin – designboom | architecture & design magazine.

an incense room has opened in berlin, offering visitors the opportunity to take part in one of china’s oldest traditions. the room is located inside the feuerle collection, an art museum located in a former second world war telecommunications bunker. located in the city’s kreuzberg district, the private institution opened in 2016 after undergoing a major renovation by john pawson. ‘the art of incense in china is incredibly complex and relatively unknown in europe,’ says désiré feuerle, founder of the feuerle collection. ‘I wanted to share a contemporary and authentic version of this beautiful, ancient and refined ceremony.’

feuerle collection berlin
outside view of the feuerle incense room
image by def image © the feuerle collection

dating back more than 2,000 years, the practice of the art of incense is a spiritual discipline that was once reserved for scholars, high monks, emperors, and dignitaries of the court. the feuerle collection says that it is the first art museum to present the theme of chinese incense culture, and the only place in the world where the incense ceremony is ‘introduced as an artistic practice, part of a curatorial work in dialogue with, and surrounded by, ancient and contemporary art’.

feuerle collection berlin
pawson developed a special ceremonial table for the room
image by def image © the feuerle collection

as part of the incense room, john pawson worked alongside advisor for chinese art jerry chen and the degoo-chunzai workshop to develop a special ceremonial table. although pawson’s typically minimalist design features technological advances, its production followed traditional chinese furniture-making techniques. a series of incense tools, an incense table set and stools, as well as specially designed clothing for both the master and guests, such as kimonos and ceremony shoes, are also found within the room.

feuerle collection berlin
detail view of the incense table, incense burner and 24k gold mica plate with agarwood
image by def image © the feuerle collection

the new space is surrounded by the lake room, which contains khmer sculptures and contemporary artworks by nobuyoshi araki, adam fuss, and anish kapoor, as well as imperial chinese stone furniture on the lower ground floor. the incense room completes désiré feuerle’s ‘gesamtkunstwerk’, a vision and approach that has seen the collector develop artistic juxtapositions with the aim of creating ‘an innovative perspective for experiencing art’. visits to the incense room with participation in an incense ceremony is possible by appointment only from october 12, 2017.

feuerle collection berlin
agarwood fragments, 24k gold mica plates and wooden holders
image by def image © the feuerle collection

feuerle collection berlin
a black lacquered table from the early ming dynasty is also presented
image by def image © the feuerle collection

feuerle collection berlin
installation view of the feuerle collection with khmer deities from 10th to 13th century
image by def image © the feuerle collection

feuerle collection berlin
garden stone bench, ming dynasty, china, 16th century -17th century, limestone.
image by def image © the feuerle collection

feuerle collection berlin
adam fuss, daguerreotype, 2010 with rectangular table with four legs, early qing dynasty, 17th century, white marble. image by def image © the feuerle collection

feuerle collection berlin
nobuyoshi araki, kinbaku, 1979/2015, gelatin silver print with stone scholar table, ming dynasty, china, 16th century -17th century, limestone. image by def image © the feuerle collection

feuerle collection berlin
the art museum is located in a former second world war telecommunications bunker
image by def image © the feuerle collection

feuerle collection berlin
visits to the incense room with participation in an incense ceremony is by appointment only
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philip stevens I designboom

oct 12, 2017

17 Oct 20:33

Snow Covered Vending Machines Illuminate a Frozen Hokkaido

by Kate Sierzputowski
mkalus shared this story from Colossal.

There are over five and a half million vending machines across Japan which sell a variety of merchandise from soda and cigarettes, to fresh eggs and flowers. These machines are not only scattered within the large city centers of the country, but also are common sights in smaller, more rural towns. The beverage dispensers are functional all night, serving as main a light source in remote areas without prevalent night life or street lamps.

Many vending machines populate the country’s prefecture of Hokkaido, a northern island that experiences harsh winters. Photographer Eiji Ohashi noticed how the light from these vending machines would illuminate surrounding snow, precipitation that had either piled on top of the machine or buried it completely. These glowing subjects became a source of intrigue for Ohashi who has created a series based on the machines titled Time to Shine.

“As dusk approaches, roadside vending machines light up in cities and in the outskirts,” says Ohashi in a statement. “These scenes of vending machines, ordinarily standing on the roadside, are particular to Japan. The vending machines downtown or in the wilderness, placed to stand in solitude, are an image of loneliness. They work tirelessly, whether it is day or night. But once their sales drop, they are taken away. If they do not glow and shine, they will stop existing. There might be something human about them.”

Ohashi compiled several of the images from his series into a photobook titled Roadside Lights. You can see other images from a snow-covered Hokkaido on his website. (via Spoon & Tamago)

17 Oct 20:33

The Best Wireless Router (for Most People)

by David Murphy
The Best Wireless Router (for Most People)
After more than 250 total hours of research and testing, we recommend the TP-Link Archer C7 (v2) router for most people. We’ve tested it against nearly 30 other routers over the past two years, and it’s still our favorite. This dual-band, three-stream 802.11ac (wireless-ac) router wasn’t the fastest on all of our tests, but it has an amazing range and delivers great performance for its low price. It’s an unbeatable value.
17 Oct 20:33

Building our School's Third-Generation WiFi Network

by Fraser Speirs

I recently completed our school’s third wifi deployment which has been by far our best and most comprehensive network to date. I thought I would write up a bit about it here.

To understand a bit about our deployment, you need to know that our school building is an old stone building from the second half of the 19th century. It was very definitely not built as a school and the original designers did not take a lot of care to make WiFi deployments easy!

We cabled most of the building in the mid-2000s to accommodate wired networking for, at the time, desktop computers. Since we moved to iPad in 2010, a lot of that network has lain dark and unused.

Our first WiFi network was installed in 2008. At that time, we were using Apple Airport Extremes. The school at the time was quite small numerically - we had just moved up from a much smaller building - and we were recruiting new pupils all the time.

The AirPort Extreme network worked fine for the internet capacity and number of machines we had at the time. I think we probably had about 20 machines on the WiFi and the entire school ran off a 5 megabit internet connection.

At the time, we also had a fairly basic Netgear smart switch connecting everything in the networking cupboard. This switch was the unit that wouldn’t die and served us well right through to our new deployment.

In 2010, we went one-to-one iPad and, remarkably, the combination of Airport Extremes and a 5 megabit internet connection coped well for the first few years of the deployment. Again, you have to remember that people’s expectations of the internet were quite low at this time. Many people didn’t have very good or reliable wifi at home and their broadband speeds were quite low as well. Additionally, we were still learning how to be a one-to-one school and few teachers were prepared to depend on the internet connection for the critical work of the school. All of that is different now.

In 2012, we moved to Aerohive. Due to various constraints, we basically replaced the Airport equipment with the Aerohive equipment unit-for-unit. This left us with a network of 9 Aerohive AP330s which, again for the time, was enough to see us through.

As the school grew and grew and more rooms in the building were brought into use, our network started to strain a bit at the edges. We have 15 teaching rooms in the school and with only 9 access points and thick walls to penetrate, things got to the point where I had tweaked and tweaked every setting I could find on the Aerohive network but I wasn’t able to wring any more performance or coverage out of that set of equipment.

On top of that, we were now running iPad hardware that was 802.11ac compatible. Our three iPad deployments to date have been: original iPad, 4th generation iPad and, currently, a split 9.7 iPad Pro/4th generation iPad mini deployment. Finally, we are on student equipment that supports 802.11ac. It was time to do something.

Ubiquitous Ubiquiti

My first idea was to buy some additional used Aerohive equipment to expand the network just a bit. Unfortunately, that was a non-starter as Aerohive equipment is tied to a server-side license and Aerohive won’t sell you a license for used equipment.

So we started to look around. It seemed to me that we really needed to redesign the whole network since we hadn’t really touched the core switch gear since the mid-2000s and my sense was that, after more than ten years continuous operation, our switch might fail at any time and leave us in a pretty bad situation.

To do the whole network at the quality level I wanted, the main aim was to simply get more radio hardware into the building - one access point per classroom was my goal. That would let us maintain the coverage but reduce the power levels on the access points so that every class was provided with a good signal for that room and iPads would be strongly encouraged to connect to the AP in the room they were in.

Previously, because of our need to penetrate thick walls, we were running several access points at maximum power and this was causing problems with devices not roaming correctly to the closest AP. This caused a lot of trouble with people moving around the school with iPads open and getting stuck on various high-powered access points - which sometimes were quite far away from where the students were.

So I put together a proposal to basically replace everything with modern, supported and managed networking equipment. Realistically, for our budget and the scale we wanted to operate at now, Ubiquiti’s Unifi range was more or less the only game in town.

The final proposal was as follows:

  • One Ubiquiti Security Gateway to act as our border router (we still had one AirPort Extreme doing this job for us!)
  • One US-24-250W switch to connect the ground floor together
  • Two US-8-150W switches to connect the first and second floors together
  • 20 Unifi AP-AC-PRO access points

20 APs would give us:

  • One AP in each working room in the school
  • Two APs in the lunch room and our biggest classroom which is often used by many students simultaneously
  • An AP in the hallway on the first two floors
  • One spare

The proposal was approved quite quickly and it was on to designing the roll-out.

Deploying the Controller

The Ubiquiti licensing model is both more straightforward and far cheaper than most (all?) “enterprise” wifi networking systems: you buy the kit and download the controller from their website and you’re off to the races.

I decided, as is my wont, to deploy the controller on an Amazon EC2 Linux machine running Ubuntu server. This is how we do our MDM server too and it works well for us.

Well before the equipment was even ordered, I had set up the controller and had designed the shape of the network so that, when the kit arrived, it was a matter of going through what Ubiquiti calls “adoption” for each piece of kit and it would all be up and running.

The big difference between running the controller on your LAN and running it in the cloud is that you need to do what’s called “[Layer 3 Adoption]” - that is, you need to tell the equipment where its controller is. If you’re on the same LAN, it will be automatically discovered.

Rolling Out

The first job was to replace the last AirPort Extreme with the Security Gateway. The USG is basically a two-port router that sits on the edge of your network. I configured ours so that one port would be the new network and the second port would emulate the old network. That way, I could drop in the USG between the existing network and the internet and nobody would notice anything.

That step actually worked beautifully and I was able to start setting up the new network in parallel with running the old network. I next installed the 24-port switch and hooked it up to the USG - our new network was off to the races.

My next steps were to unpack and set up the other two switches and all the access points. I wanted to do this at my desk because we were going to install some of these APs in reasonably inaccessible places and if anything was going to go wrong with them, I wanted to know before we got the ladders out.

I started working through the APs, connecting them to the switch, adopting them into the controller and giving them friendly names and then, crucially, physically labelling them with the same name that they have in the controller.

I can’t emphasise this last point enough: 80% of effective systems administration is labelling things correctly and methodically.

Between other things, this process took me a couple of days. The equipment had been delivered on Monday lunchtime and by Wednesday evening I was ready to start installing equipment. We worked all day on Thursday mounting APs on the walls and cutting new cables to connect everything up. Some rooms had dark cable in the walls so it was a simple job to cut a drop cable and wire up the AP.

Other rooms had existing unmanaged switchgear in so we mounted the new equipment in parallel with the old stuff and waited until we were about to switch over. By about 5pm on Thursday we had all the APs installed and the switches on each floor were ready to go.

On Thursday evening I went back into school with the intention of trying to hook up a few APs and test the signal. In the end, I decided that I was so close to being done that I might as well complete the job. In about 4 hours of pulling cable and re-wiring, I had the entire new network up and running. It felt great to pull out all that old gear and eliminate all the little unmanaged switches we had accumulated over the course of ten years of piecemeal network expansion.

On the Friday, we ran for the first day on our new network and, as best as I could tell, it was a rousing success. Many of the worst-served classrooms reported much more stable, reliable and fast connections. The better-served classrooms simply didn’t notice anything.

WiFi is one of these “hygiene” features in school - there’s no great kudos for having it work perfectly all the time but there is a ton of heartache when it doesn’t work well for everything. Ideally, I want nobody to notice the WiFi at all. If people are talking about it, there’s a problem.

iPad Configuration

Moving from Aerohive to Ubiquiti was not without a couple of interesting issues. We had been using Aerohive’s Private Pre-shared Key feature to give every student a unique password to the network. This is a flagship Aerohive feature and it has some significant advantages but I found that, in practice, it had a number of downsides too.

We had arranged things so that each student password was only good for one device but, since the students knew their own password, they could easily use it on another wifi device that they owned and brought to school - usually their smartphone but I did see the occasional Kindle appearing too. What this resulted in was a kind of race condition where the first device that came in the door in the morning would “use up” the slot for that student and their school iPad wouldn’t be able to join the network.

Ubiquiti doesn’t have an equivalent feature - except by using RADIUS, which I didn’t really want to set up - so before I rolled out the new network, I sent a configuration profile to all the student iPads with a new WiFi payload that contained the SSID and password for the new network.

This also worked very well. As soon as I brought up the new WiFi network, student devices started to join the new network without my ever touching them.

On the first day of operation, I spent time watching the Ubiquiti dashboard alongside the school timetable. What I was looking for was to see that iPads were roaming correctly to the AP in the class that the student was actually sitting in. For the most part that worked very well and I could usually find a student iPad by looking at the client list for the classroom that the timetable said they would be in.

I did some work to manually set channels and power levels for all the access points. I set the 2.4GHz radios to “low” power (9 dBm) and the 5GHz radios to “medium” (17 dBm) everywhere. I’m still tweaking some channels to make sure that APs are not interfering with each other. Ubiquiti’s auto channel selection system basically chooses the best channel at startup and stays there (other systems perform occasional background scanning and switch), so it does rather lead you to hand-tweaking just to be sure.

So that’s the story of our new network and how we built it in a week. I’ve been very pleased by both the price and performance of the Ubiquiti equipment. The licensing model is the kind that I like (i.e. not very “enterprisey”) and I didn’t even mention this but the Unifi iOS app is one of the best native apps I’ve ever seen for wifi management.

17 Oct 20:32

Comparative Parking

by pricetags
mkalus shared this story from Price Tags.

Sunday afternoon, Sunset Beach, sunny day.

On what was once vehicle parking, there are now two docking stations for Mobi bikeshare:

These cyclists were able to access the last open spaces.

By comparison, here’s the situation on the rest of the parking lot:

Lots of empty spaces for cars.  Of course, this is paid parking – but really, it’s a sunny weekend afternoon next to a busy part of the seawall, with access to the False Creek ferries. And yet the demand for car parking is abysmal.  Looks like they’ll have to use some of those spaces to put in another docking station for bikes.

17 Oct 20:32

Recommended on Medium: To the men who were surprised by “me too” today

If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.

Men of Earth: If you have been surprised for one by the volume of today’s “me too” posts, you haven’t been paying attention.

So here’s a challenge: What are you going to do about it?

Name one thing. ANYTHING.

Some starter ideas:

  1. Commit to drinking less at your office party, and/or encouraging your company to reduce alcohol consumption at office events. Guess what happens when dudes drink around their co-workers?
  2. You know that colleague/boss/client who just makes you a bit uneasy with the way he talks to your female colleagues? Talk to him about it. Don’t make us do it.
  3. That joke you were going to make in the meeting this week, but you wondered whether it was totally appropriate? Don’t make it.
  4. Hire and promote women. Don’t trash talk women in managerial roles. More women managers=less harassment.
  5. Don’t participate in all-male meetings, after-work drinks, panels, etc. Just don’t.
  6. Talk to your sons and daughters about sexual harassment and behavior. When you’re watching a TV show where someone hits on a woman at work, talk about why that’s not OK.
  7. If your colleagues are going to Hooters — or a strip club — explain why this is not ok. Yes it really happens. It’s come up for me in multiple offices. It really sucks being the woman who doesn’t want to join in.

Gosh, I could keep going…but who else wants to offer some suggestions?

17 Oct 20:30

New blog: Doug, uncensored

by Doug Belshaw

TL;DR: Head to or for my new blog about freedom and decentralised technologies.

One of the great things about the internet, and one of the things I think we’re losing is the ability to experiment. I like to experiment with my technologies, my identity, and my belief systems. This flies in the face of services like Facebook that insist on a single ‘real’ identity while slowly deskill their users.

I’ve been messing about with ZeroNet, which is something I’ve mentioned before, and which gets close to something I’ve wanted now for quite some time: an ‘untakedownable’ website. Whether it’s DDoS attacks, DNS censorship, or malicious code injection, I want a platform that, no matter what I choose to say, will stay up.

To access sites via ZeroNet, you have to be running the ZeroNet service. By default, you view a clone of the site you want to visit on your own machine, accessed in the web browser. That means it’s fast. When the site creator updates the site/blog/wiki/whatever, that’s then sent to peers to distribute. It’s all lightning-quick, and built on Bittorrent technlogy and Bitcoin cryptography.

The trouble, of course, comes when someone who isn’t yet running ZeroNet wants to visit a site. Thankfully, there’s a way around that using a ‘proxy’ or bridge. This is ZeroNet running on a public server for everyone to use. There’s several of these, but I’ve set up my own using this guide.

I encourage you to download and experiment with ZeroNet but, even if you don’t, please check out my new blog. You can access it via or — the rather long and unwieldy actual IP address of the server running the public-facing copy is

Finally, if you’re thinking, “What is this?! It’ll never catch on…” then I’d like to remind  you about technologies that people didn’t ‘get’ at first (e.g. Twitter in 2007) as well as that famous Wayne Gretszky quotation, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been”.

17 Oct 20:30

Vancouver to Prioritize Local Residents for New, Pre-Sale Homes


Mayor Gregor Robertson will be introducing a motion this week in council to launch a policy that prioritizes sales of new homes in multi-family developments to local residents.

‘Local residents’ are people who live and work in Metro Vancouver; whose permanent address and place of work is in the region, irrespective of citizenship.

“My priority as Mayor is to deliver new housing supply that is first and foremost for people who live and work in Vancouver, and this motion aims to give local residents the first opportunity to purchase a new home,” says Mayor Gregor Robertson.

“In Vancouver’s red-hot housing market, local employers are crunched to retain talent, whether they’re doctors, tech workers, retailers, firefighters, teachers or nurses. I regularly hear stories about people who work in Vancouver, but are forced to move elsewhere in the region because they can’t find a place to live. At a time when we are seeing record levels of housing construction, local residents should be able to get the first shot at purchasing a home in new developments.”

The Mayor’s motion will direct staff to bring forward a policy framework as part of the City’s new 10-year housing strategy, which is coming back to Council at the end of November. According to a City of Vancouver news release, an example of one such program is in West Vancouver, where in 2016 the City Council negotiated an agreement with Westbank development for a new condo project that prioritized local residents. Stipulations included:

- Requiring the project to be only marketed to West Vancouver residents during the first 30 days, and then the next 60 days to residents of Metro Vancouver;

- Requiring purchasers to sign a statutory declaration to demonstrate their intention to live in the building and not flip their unit;

- Restricting bulk purchases of units.

“Vancouver’s Housing Vancouver strategy seeks to dramatically increase the supply of new housing, but it needs to be the right supply—homes that are affordable for people who live and work in Vancouver,” adds the Mayor. “We want young people and families to put down roots in the city.”

An online poll of over 3000 people in the Vancouver Sun shows significant support for the initiative (81%). I think it is a strategy that is long overdue, especially now that condos and attached homes are selling at a higher rate than single-family houses, which are completely out of reach for anyone whose household income is less that $150,000. This month, my sister and one of my close friends and their families are leaving Vancouver due to astronomical housing costs.

Do you think this will help make housing more affordable? Share your thoughts in the comments.

(Title photo: CTV)

17 Oct 14:41

Teaching in the Digital Age: Guidelines for Designing Teaching and Learning

by Stephen Downes

Summary notes from the Tony Bates presentation at the World Conference on Online Learning, Toronto

1. Building an Effective Learning Environment

What is knowledge, and how does learning occur. Analogy: coal. We can think of knowledge as coal, and shovel it into a furnace (this is the objectivist perspective). Or we can think of knowledge as developmental, for example, heat. This is the constructivist perspective. Heat is a concept you don’t just deliver - it’s a concept you build and construct over time (sometimes through the use of coal).

Or, we can think of teaching as gardening. We’re creating the environment where people learn naturally, without our having to force them to do it.

So - do we think of learning this way? (Some discussion)

Now there is an argument for coal - some things you just have to remember. Memory is an important ability - we should use that.

There are many possible learning environments: campus or school (this one, eg., is a bad one), online course, personal experience, online personal learning environments, etc. All of these need certain common elements that support learning. And that’s what I want to focus on…

What are these common elements? Consider eg., military training, online course, nature as a learning environment. Or (suggested from audience) MOOCs, hospital, sports…

Think of a learning environment from a teacher’s perspective: we have learner characteristics, assessment, resources, learner support, skills, content… And permeating all of these is culture. This influences everything. For example, consider the residential schools - it was the culture, the values and belief systems that underpin the institution - that made everything else wrong.

So the question is, what kind of cultural values do you want to have implicit in what you teach? We need to think of this - it’s a chance to break away from institutional cultures, which are not always good things.

Additionally, different kinds of technologies provide different kinds of learning environments. Consider the LMS - not entirely bad, everyone needs filing cabinets. But there can also be virtual worlds, or personal learning environments.

But note: it may be necessary, but it’s not sufficient, to have a good learning environment. You need good course design, empathy, competence (which is where professors excel), and the imagination to create context. Meanwhile, the learners have to do the learning. You have to step back. People say online learning is so much work - but you can have the students do the work.

There’s no one perfect learning environment. The best one is the one that works for you in your context (that’s why comparative research on online education always fails - it strips the context out).

Question: is that all? Is there more to a successful learning environment?
-          A place to create
-          A place for students to have community
-          Kids can’t learn if they’re hungry

Comment: I’m not so sure there’s an ‘institutional culture’ - in a world with multiple cultures. Tont replies: if the institution is not going to allow you to create your own culture, then you have a big struggle ahead. Linda Harasin said, the university never asked me if I was doing online learning, so how do they know I am doing it? If they knew I was doing it they would stopped me.

Comment: if the student is used to coal, they can have difficulty with the other stuff.

Comment: where is it that the expertise on learning resides at the institution? At AU, we use people who have that expertise help us with course design, so experts don’t have to do this as well as their own discipline. Tony: we can have these centres for online learning, but they don’t scale to the whole institution.

2. Choosing an Appropriate Delivery Mode

If students can access the course online, why do they need to go to the university? There’s a lot of research in online learning, but in face-to-face there isn’t the same research The presumption is that it must be better. But we have found that in many cases the online works better.

To define out subject: there’s a continuum of delivery from pure face-to-face to classroom aids, flipped learning, hybrid learning (reduced class time), and fully online distance learning. We did a survey - we’re seeing how much this is beginning to spread in Canadian universities. I saw this in Britain as well. Let’s be honest about this - even in a traditional class, all students are really online.

-          Comment: One thing missing from this is the synchronous-asynchronous discussion. Eg. Classes where students watch videos. Tony: I interviewed various people doing ‘pockets of innovation’ - eg. Quebec, they have cold winters, a professor uses videoconferencing in class, giving students the choice, and there’s an effect in retention.

-          Comment: we often talk about learning styles for students, but much less about teaching styles for teachers. Colleagues say, eg., “I’m not good at facilitating, I’m much better at lecturing.” Tony: bad news: faculty are going to have to change, because other providers will come along and do it instead. Good news: I see faculty changing all the time, not because of the LMS, but because of simple tech, like the iPhone. But it won’t happen fast enough without institutional support. But it’s like driving a car: you can’t just say “I’m good at shifting gears, but I’m no good at steering.”

-          Comment: shouldn’t be a continuum of delivery, but of teaching? Tony: there are different ways we can teach. Delivery is about student convenience. What does the student want? The question is: what’s the added value of them coming in to the physical location?

3. Four Criteria for Choosing:

i. Students - which models work for them? Maybe multiple models work for them. There’s no one model - there are ypung, old, dependent, independent, etc. Let the students choose, and if they’re struggling, help them.

ii. identifying teaching approach + necessary learner activities. This is based on what you think knowledge is and how best to approach it. If there are skills you want them to learn, what do they have to do to learn those skills? What kind of activities do you need to build in? Note: skills are not generic. Problem-solving is not the same in business as it is in medicine.

iii. What resources do I have available? Do I have a TA? Etc.

iv. Analyze the most appropriate mode for each learner activity. Eg. The theory they can do online. But if they have to learn how to observe analytes under a microscope, then you either need virtual equipment, or a real lab (in science, too often, we don’t teach them how do design experiments, we just give them the experiment to do). The idea is: push as much as you can online, and do the rest in person.

What is the research showing when face-to-face interaction is needed?
-          (SD - some quick Google searching) Fast Company: ; Mercola ; ScienceDirect - size of groups vs Facebook -

Also, a comment: we teach nurses, but we can’t get the students to learn to form a relationship when it’s with a sim.

Finally: what do we do on campus? Are there unique teaching/learning functions? Is there an impact on campus design? It’s a lot cheaper to do stuff online that to build a new building. One campus example has meeting rooms, breakout rooms, etc. The people researching this? Steelcase - a furniture maker. They have a PhD working on this.
17 Oct 14:41

Comparative Parking

by pricetags

Sunday afternoon, Sunset Beach, sunny day.

On what was once vehicle parking, there are now two docking stations for Mobi bikeshare:

These cyclists were able to access the last open spaces.

By comparison, here’s the situation on the rest of the parking lot:

Lots of empty spaces for cars.  Of course, this is paid parking – but really, it’s a sunny weekend afternoon next to a busy part of the seawall, with access to the False Creek ferries. And yet the demand for car parking is abysmal.  Looks like they’ll have to use some of those spaces to put in another docking station for bikes.

17 Oct 14:41

Unleash Your Creativity With New Blurb Photo Books

by Zee Jenkins

We’re excited to announce our new partnership with Blurb® to help you create bookstore-quality photo books. Blurb offers free book-creation tools that give you complete creative control, no matter your skill level. You can also choose from a variety of sizes, templates, covers, paper, and binding options that you previously couldn’t create with your Flickr books.

With Blurb, you can bring your photos to life by printing a customized coffee table book, a family photo album, your weekly zine, or wedding book, amongst others. To create a photo book, connect your Flickr account and browse your photostream or albums in Blurb’s online book-making tool. You can select the size to customize your book, jump into your Flickr account to lay out your images, then select the paper type during checkout. You can add captions, write text, and choose from various photo layouts and montages.

Once complete, you can choose from a range of distribution options—including Amazon, Ingram, and the Blurb Bookstore—to get your work out into the world. You can also share your books with friends, family, and your broader audience by showcasing a preview of your project on Flickr, on other social media sites, or by embedding it on your website. If you are a Flickr Pro member, you can now promote your work on your Flickr account. See our updated Community Guidelines for the new commercial use section that impacts Pro members.

If you are a Flickr Pro member, you will also get a $35 credit toward your first Blurb order, and $35 when you renew your subscription (with a minimum purchase $70). If you are not currently Pro, this Blurb photo book perk is a great addition to the features that make Pro the best way to maximize your Flickr experience.

Rap N' Roll

To view Blurb books already created by Flickr members, check out Blurb’s account on Flickr or the official Blurb Flickr Group.

To share your opinion about the changes, come over to the Help Forum and let us know what you think.

The Flickr Team

17 Oct 14:40

Living in Oblivion

by Reverend

I was on a roll blogging for a bit in September, and for me that is always a sign that I’m getting back into a work groove. But extended grooves have been harder for me this year given travel. I’m a creature of habit, and travel tends to disrupt my daily rhythms. That said, I travelled pretty regularly since 2007 (although not as much as this year where I will have spent more than 3 months on the road) and still have gotten an average of 250 posts published every year. But for some reason with each passing year the effects of travel on my psyche seem to be more disruptive. It’s hard for me to return to the blog after having been away.

But I guess I am wondering if it’s not so much the travel as the fact that I am in the novel situation of feeling both comfortable and happy. A fair amount of my writing on this blog since the very beginning was fueled in part by gut reactions, vocational desperation, and a healthy dose of imbuing some fun into a generally lifeless field. But things have changed since then, I feel grounded in a foreign country* where I’m lucky enough to spend the other 9 travel-free months of the year. Luckily my kids are not yet old enough that I have started to regret not spending more time with them, and the last two years have begun to make up for some of what I missed when I was obsessed with work.

I joke about it sometimes, but in 2010, 2011, and 2012 ds106 was as an all-consuming enterprise. It was everything to me for a few years, and in some ways that process fucked a bit with my sense of self. In retrospect Dr. Oblivion seems an appropriate alter-ego for that period, a figure that aspired to symbolize transformative teaching and learning on the web, but also represented the concomitant crisis of identity and presence that haunts me (and I imagine many others).

It seems like a lifetime since Oblivion. That 5 week Summer course ended with me supine in my wood paneled basement for 2 days suffering from what I would later learn was an asthma attack due to smoking. I soon after quit cigarettes for good, and two years after that finally stopped drinking alcohol, which was long overdue. In other words, I tried to clean up my pathetic act as I stumbled into my forties. As I have mentioned from time-to-time already (and if you put up with me on Instagram it’s annoyingly apparent), over the last year I started exercising regularly, which has taken the form of hiking the beautiful mountains that everywhere surround me in Trentino.

Pano from Lagorai Hike

I guess what I’m trying to get at in this rather wayward post is whether part of my struggle with blogging this last year or two has as much to do with my being happy as it does with my being on the road. I’m in a weird position of knowing shit is bad in a lot of places†, while at the same time finally feeling I have some of my personal demons at bay (if only temporarily). I find myself happy and content in a world that seems entirely out of joint—a dissonance that harrows me daily. I understand I am conflating my personal life with geo-political events beyond my control, but the intersection of the two has made me feel a bit paralyzed. And to be clear I’m not so much looking for advice or any additional guilt (I can take care of those), but simply trying to blog myself through a strangely satisfying malaise of purpose—if that makes any sense at all.

*Feeling outside the horror show that is US politics may be part of my happiness

†My mind immediately turns to the folks in Puerto Rico who are needlessly suffering at this very moment under the cruel imperial rule of the US. 

17 Oct 14:40

How to Choose a Comfortable Bike Saddle

by Average Joe Cyclist

A comfortable bike saddle will enable you to enjoy cycling, while an uncomfortable one could cause you to give up cycling in painful despair. This post walks you through the process of making sure you get the right saddle for your own specific cycling needs.

The post How to Choose a Comfortable Bike Saddle appeared first on Average Joe Cyclist.

17 Oct 14:26

Severe flaw in WPA2 protocol

by Rui Carmo

It’s going to be interesting to see how Apple intends to deal with this — although truth be told, they’ve been shipping AirPort updates over the past year. My only question is how far back they’ll try to fix this, and on which product lines.

17 Oct 14:26

How to write a short bio that’s not awful (Ask Dr. Wobs)

by Josh Bernoff

Everybody needs a short bio, whether its at the top of your LinkedIn page or on the bookflap of your first book. But it’s hard to write about yourself succinctly and objectively. That’s why people writing their own bios so often end up sounding like an idiot. Dear Dr. Wobs Why are bios so bad? … Continued

The post How to write a short bio that’s not awful (Ask Dr. Wobs) appeared first on without bullshit.

17 Oct 08:18

2017 Civic By-Election Thoughts: Touching the Third Rail

by pricetags

Have two of the third rails of Vancouver politics become the new main track?

Is it now possible, if not imperative, that our Council consider fundamentally rezoning the single-family neighbourhoods in a way that would change their character, while at the same time considering a fundamental change in the property tax in order to tap the extraordinary increase in the asset value of those same homes?

You bet – if you go by the results of recent byelection.

Two candidates at either end of the political spectrum who topped the polls both put forward what not long ago would have been unthinkable policies in any serious party platform: Jean Swanson proposed a variable property tax targeted at increasing rates on high-value properties; Hector Bremner proposed a city-wide plan that would open single-family zones places to multiple dwellings.

Both candidates now have credibility, one as an elected official, the other as a serious contender in the next election.  They both have a mandate to push forward with ideas that everyone else in civic government and all parties (even at the provincial level) must now take seriously.

Let the real debate begin.

17 Oct 06:41

Freedom Mobile confirms it will carry iPhones

by Rose Behar
iPhones 8 Plus rear

Shaw-owned Freedom Mobile has confirmed to MobileSyrup that it will carry iPhones in the future.

“Freedom Mobile is proud to confirm that it will offer iPhone. Availability and pricing will be announced at a future date,” Chethan Lakshman, vice-president of external affairs at Freedom told MobileSyrup via email.

The ability to carry Apple’s iPhones opens up a larger market for Freedom Mobile, which has never stocked brand new iPhones before — though in its Wind Mobile days it briefly sold gently-used Apple handsets, before the Cupertino-based tech giant requested a stop.

The additions come at an opportune time, as Freedom Mobile fights to gain a stronger foothold in the Canadian wireless market with its new Band 66 LTE network. Band 66 spectrum is new to the North American market — so new that when Freedom first launched its LTE network in November 2016, it carried only one compatible device, the LG V20.

Now the majority of new devices on the market are launching with Band 66 compatibility, though Freedom advises customers to buy devices through its own channels for LTE use, since most Android devices that are not sold through the carrier’s own channels are prone to frequently falling off and getting stuck on 3G service.

In late September, however, users of the new Band 66-compatible iPhone 8 and 8 Plus discovered that the new iPhones were able to bounce back to LTE in a timely manner, a benefit attributed to the Intel modems stocked in the models sold in Canada.

Several analysts and journalists have recently commented on the disruptive potential of Freedom Mobile.

IDC Canada analyst Lawrence Surtees and Sascha Segan of PCMag‘s annual Canadian speed test both recently stated that the launch of Freedom’s LTE network, recent spectrum purchases and the blatant aspirations of its parent company Shaw indicate Freedom Mobile has clear plans to become the fourth major player in Canadian wireless.

Meanwhile, Scotiabank’s telecommunications analyst Jeff Fan wrote in a letter to clients: “We estimate that the addition of multiple iPhones with Band 66 and the ability to cater to BYOD subscribers could expand Freedom’s addressable market by over 12 million (note there are approximately 30.7 million total wireless subscribers in Canada).”

The post Freedom Mobile confirms it will carry iPhones appeared first on MobileSyrup.

16 Oct 21:55

Cancel that shipment: Canada shouldn’t pursue Amazon’s second headquarters

by Sameer Chhabra

When Amazon announced plans to establish a formal, full-fledged second headquarters, the company did so with all of the subtlety of a freight train.

The host city had to be able handle close to 33 specific Amazon buildings. The city needed to be able to support 40,000 Amazon employees — plus their families. The city needed to have the appropriate facilities to be able to welcome all of the company’s numerous guests. As a cherry on top, Amazon also wanted to find a city that could stand to benefit from a benevolent “additional $38 billion [USD] to the city’s economy.”

What’s important to note is that Amazon wasn’t interested in doing any of the heavy-lifting itself. It didn’t want to reach out to cities itself — it wanted cities to pitch themselves.

In response, major cities around the world announced plans to bid for the honour of hosting Amazon’s HQ2 premises.

On the same day as Amazon’s HQ2 announcement — September 7th, 2017 — City of Toronto mayor John Tory took to Twitter to announce his intentions to include Ontario’s capital in a bid.

One-week-later, a Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, York Region, Halton Region and Durham Region announced that they had joined forces in an attempt to convince Amazon that it’s worth investing in Canada.

London and Hamilton also wanted a slice of the Amazon pie.

It wasn’t just Ontario that got caught up in Amazon hysteria. Almost every major Canadian city expressed some form of interest in hosting Amazon’s HQ2. Case in point, cities from Halifax to Vancouver, including Calgary and Edmonton, have all announced plans to bid on Amazon’s second headquarters.

For those cities without public officials stepping up to make a bid, columnists — like Celine Cooper from the Montreal Gazette — have taken on the responsibility of advocating for their hometowns.

And why shouldn’t Canadian cities attract a global, digital giant like Amazon? We’ve got the talent and we’ve got the space. HQ2 wouldn’t just put Canada on the map, it would irreversibly change the course of history for whichever Canadian city would play host to the company.

Canada would have to be crazy not to want a piece of what Amazon can bring us. Right?

Contrarian’s corner

Of all of the critics who have spoken out against Canada hosting Amazon’s HQ2, none have been as vocal as Wind Mobile (now Freedom Mobile) founder and former CEO Anthony Lacavera.

To say that he thinks it’s a bad idea for Canada to play host to Amazon would be an understatement.

“I’m astonished that our elected officials would be chasing this short-term headline jobs number over what is long-term beneficial to Canadians,” said Lacavera.

“We need to do what small, very competitive innovative countries…do.”

For Lacavera, the issue isn’t welcoming Amazon into Canada. The company already has a corporate headquarters in Toronto, as well as a series of fulfilment centres across the country, and Lacavera acknowledges the economic benefits of opening Amazon’s HQ2 somewhere in Canada.

“I want to be very clear, I’m fully in support of fair and open competition and I’m fully in support of welcoming these companies into Canada,” said Lacavera.

Instead, Lacavera’s true concerns lie with the potential loss of Canadian talent to an American multinational corporation — not to mention tax incentives that encourage foreign companies to set up shop in Canada.

“We can be global leaders in technology…”

“We need to do what small, very competitive innovative countries like Israel and Scandinavian countries do,” said Lacavera. “They focus and create their own sectors where they dominate.”

Lacavera believes that Canada should focus on enabling its own developers, engineers and entrepreneurs to build their own technological power-players.

“We can be global leaders in technology, we just have to put our minds to it,” said Lacavera.

Preventing the digital economy from going the way of the automotive industry

To understand Lacavera’s concerns, one needs look no further than Canada’s automotive industry.

Canada currently plays host to a series of foreign multinational automotive brands, including Ford, Chrysler, GM, Mitsubishi and Honda.

“We’re very reliant on those foreign multinationals.”

In the early days of the industry — when automotive jobs weren’t heavily influenced by robotic automation and global automotive brands relied, in part, on Canadian parts manufacturers and other members of industry — business was booming.

Today, however, the industry that was built up around the automotive economy has been negatively affected by reduced labour needs, as well as foreign trade deals that encourage the manufacturing of automotive parts to take place abroad.

“We’re not making a Canadian car, we don’t have our own Canadian car,” said Lacavera. “We’re very reliant on those foreign multinationals.”

“…there’s a tremendous opportunity with money starting to flow here…”

Lacavera believes that hosting Amazon’s headquarters — indeed, hosting a large-scale headquarters for any giant global multinational — would only cause long-term harm to Canada.

He’s also not alone in this thinking. Bruce Croxon — the co-founder of Lavalife, co-host of BNN’s The Disruptors, and a former Dragons’ Den investor — agrees with Lacavera’s concerns.

“With me, there’s a tremendous opportunity with money starting to flow here…to build Amazon-type companies right here in Canada,” said Croxon, in an interview with MobileSyrup.

“…there is a very low chance that Jeff Bezos would risk the headlines in the U.S….”

Just like Lacavera, Croxon also sees the short-term benefits of hosting Amazon’s HQ2 in Canada.

“From the perspective of a parent with kids who are one day going to enter the job market, obviously the first reaction is ‘Great, the more jobs the better,’” said Croxon. “From the perspective of an entrepreneur who’s trying to build the next Amazon here, I’d rather have that talent build early-stage companies here that will have a chance to be the next Amazon.”

Acknowledging the elephant in the room

While both Lacavera and Croxon recognize the benefits of hosting Amazon’s HQ2, Lacavera is quick to address a subject that few of Canada’s leaders have acknowledged: Amazon almost definitely won’t choose a Canadian city for the new headquarters.

“[There’s an] extremely remote chance,” said Lacavera. “Near zero chance, and I think that just makes the whole situation that much more embarrassing for Canada, that we would have our elected officials in six cities trying to secure that headquarters.”

“…I can envision the tweet from Donald Trump…”

Lacavera emphasizes that it’s not an issue of tax incentives or the presence of an educated labour-force or the lack of space to construct the sheer number of buildings Amazon hopes to erect. Quite the contrary, Lacavera believes that the response that Amazon would receive from U.S. news publications — as well as U.S. politicians — would be enough to dissuade the company from investing in a Canadian city.

“Even if all of that added to some economic benefit to Amazon, there is a very low chance that Jeff Bezos would risk the headlines in the U.S. that he’s moving jobs to Canada,” said Lacavera. “I can envision the tweet from Donald Trump…I think Jeff Bezos is one of the smartest executives that ever lived and I don’t think he’s going to take that chance.”

For now, the Amazon HQ2 bid submission deadline is October 19th, 2017 and some of Canada’s major economic and cultural hubs have put their names in the running. Only time will tell if Canada’s top cities succeed in their bids.

The post Cancel that shipment: Canada shouldn’t pursue Amazon’s second headquarters appeared first on MobileSyrup.