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27 Sep 06:30

Choosing Between Community Concepts

by Richard Millington

Imagine you ask a group of 20 people to rate three possible community concepts.

The results come back as follows:

Option 1: 3 people love the idea, 14 people like the idea, 4 people hate the idea.

Option 2: 6 people love the idea, 3 people like the idea, 11 people hate the idea.

Option 3: 2 people love the idea, 18 people like the idea, no-one hates the idea.

Which idea should you pick? Option 2.

The only people that will participate (especially at first) are those that love the idea. Don’t worry if people like or hate the idea. Neither group will participate anyway. The competition for attention is too ferocious.

To get a community started you’re only tracking how many people love the idea. And the most lovable ideas are usually the most radical to a small group. These ideas challenge the status quo. Anyone that benefits from the status quo is going to dislike the idea.

So don’t worry about the likers or the haters. Only count how many people truly love the idea. How many people rate it 5 out of 5? Go with that idea.

27 Sep 05:38

Lenovo Lays Off 1,100 Moto Employees

by Rajesh Pandey
As a part of streamlining its product portfolio and its “ongoing strategic integration” between Lenovo and Motorola, the former announced a massive layoff that will see around a 1,100 people lose their jobs.  Continue reading →
27 Sep 06:12

Still going strong :: Microsoft Surface

by Volker Weber


I watch Apple events on Apple TV. And I watch Microsoft events on Surface 3. I just have to.

This little machine does not get enough love on vowe dot net. The reason is that I don't have my trusted apps on Windows: iA Writer for writing copy, Pixelmator for editing photos, Imagewell for preparing screenshots, a blog editor for my ancient CMS. It's all on my Mac, and for iPhone and iPad I am using Workflow to streamline things and of course iA Writer for copy.

I really like the design of Windows 10. I like that little machine. If your software portfolio is different from mine, you may like it as well.

27 Sep 13:25

Experience Death in an Endlessly Mutating Video Labyrinth

by Kevin Holmes for The Creators Project

Pattern Language. Image courtesy of the artist

Video game dungeons, architecture, and flashing pixels all inform artist Peter Burr's new exhibition Pattern Language, named after architect Christopher Alexander's design method which Burr explains as "describing the aliveness of certain human ambitions through an index of structural patterns." The exhibition is on at 3-Legged Dog Art & Technology Center in New York and features a multi-channel video installation which immerses people in an "endlessly mutating death labyrinth.”

The piece, a collaboration with game designer and writer Porpentine Charity Heartscape, is part of a continuing project, a video game called Aria End. The game is about a vast underground utopia that underwent a catastrophe called The Mess and now lies abandoned. The main character of Aria End heads down to clean it up. 

Pattern Language. GIF courtesy of the artist

The preceding installment of the project, a four-channel video installation called Cave Exits, which takes inspiration from the "dungeon crawl" video game genre, was about her descent into this subterranean dwelling. "In video games there is the concept of an infinite dungeon—an endlessly regenerating death labyrinth," explains Heartscape in reference to Aria End. "There’s an intimate quality to a structure that remakes itself after each horrible demise and invites you to try again. Dungeons are the study of structures as living things. Their diet is your curiosity, and their luring plumage is gold and gems." 

Pattern Language is a product of their R&D into the game, and uses concepts from Christopher Alexander's "Pattern Language" method to construct the self-generating labyrinth, which people experience in the exhibition. In the installation, the experience is structured like a fugue, both musically and psychologically. It goes through five phases before it interludes and then loops back onto itself as a slightly altered version. "One of my goals with the physical installation was to create a space that is both soothing and tense, a narrative strobe spa," notes Burr.

Pattern Language. Image courtesy of the artist

"This work deals with constraints." explains Burr to The Creators Project. "Musically and visually we have a very limited rule-set that manifests the world of this piece. We chose to mirror these impingements in the temporal structure by developing a playback system with a tight phasing algorithm that presents glimpses of life in this subterranean dirtscraper. The five phases oscillate between a heavy somatic experience (through psychoacoustic and stroboscopic gestures) and a diegetic one (telephoto surveillance of life in the arcology)."

Pattern Language. Image courtesy of the artist

Visually the piece is busy with high def pixelated, glitchy black-and-white graphics, an aesthetic born out of the constraints of the system they employed, but one that also acts to disorientate and appease the viewer and engulf them in the architecture of this underground utopia. 

In terms of the end video game, Cave Exits served as an entry point into it, looking at what happened following the breakdown of the utopia. Burr explains that Pattern Language goes back in time to explore the utopian ideals that lead to the catastrophe. "From here," says Burr, "I am going back to the future and stripping the arcology of its humans to design the levels and environments of Aria End."  

Pattern Language. GIF courtesy of the artist

Pattern Language is on now until September 29, 2016 at 3LD Art & Technology Center. Visit Peter Burr's website here to learn more about his work. 


Step Inside a Glitchy Alternate Universe Inspired by Dungeon Crawler Video Games

Video Games Day Is Even Better with Pixel Art

See Peter Burr's Experiment In Live Cinema Based On Tarkovsky's Stalker

27 Sep 11:33

Pi-powered Mansfield Holiday Zoom Movie Camera

by Alex Bate

When John Sichi discovered a Mansfield Holiday Zoom movie camera on Yerdle, he was instantly transported back to a childhood of making home movies with his family.

The camera was fully operational, but sadly the lens was damaged. 

With the cost of parts, film, and development an unreasonable expense, John decided to digitise the camera using a Raspberry Pi Zero and Pi Camera Module.

Pi-powered Mansfield Holiday Zoom Movie Camera

To fit the Pi in place, John was forced to pull out the inner workings; unfortunately, this meant he had to lose the nostalgic whirring noise of the inner springs, which would originally have spun as the movie was recorded.

Using a scrap piece of metal, he was able to create a stop/start button from the existing trigger: hold it down to record, and release to stop.

A USB battery pack provides power to the Pi, while bits of LEGO and Sugru hold it in place. 

Pi-powered Mansfield Holiday Zoom Movie Camera

John decided to mount the Camera Module externally, as he did not want to risk damaging the body of the Mansfield. A further upgrade would aim to use a camera with functional lens, thereby fully incorporating the new tech with the old functionality. 

Code for the camera is available via GitHub, while sample footage from the camera can be found below. As you can see, the build works beautifully, and that retro image quality is incredibly evocative. Great work, John! 

Holiday Pi retrocamera

Uploaded by jsichi on 2016-09-14.


The post Pi-powered Mansfield Holiday Zoom Movie Camera appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

27 Sep 00:00

Why we are weaning our students from electronic noise


Ryan Balot, Clifford Orwin, Globe, Mail, Sept 28, 2016

I wonder whether this is true: "thinking thrives on silence or on dialogue with other human voices, when electronic noise has faded." This is being used as justification for banning electronic devices from the classroom. But I have questions. When I'm doing mental work, I always have some background noise - music, CBC, Ed Radio, a baseball game, whatever. My head is full of distracting noises; silence makes my mind wander. I remember the classroom lecture before computers - every agonizing scrape of a chair, squeak of a door, cough, whisper. It was all I could do to keep from daydreaming and falling asleep. By contrast, some of my best thinking places are noisy environments - pubs, markets, busy streets. So I think it's a fallacy that thinking thrives on silence, and certainly don't support banning electronic devices based on an unproven, and probably false, hypothesis.

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27 Sep 13:38

Same-day delivery now available to Amazon Prime members in Toronto and Vancouver

by Igor Bonifacic

The day Canadian Amazon Prime members have been waiting for has finally arrived.

Jeff Bezos and company announced on Tuesday morning that free same-day delivery is now available to Prime members in Toronto and Vancouver on orders above $25. Amazon says the delivery option is available seven days a week. Orders placed in the morning will arrive later in the day, while those placed during the evening will make their way to customers the next day.

After launching the service in the U.S. in 2005, Amazon brought Prime to Canada in 2013, though it did so without some of the music and movie streaming tie-ins that are available to U.S. members. Prime costs $79 per year in Canada.

“Prime was developed to make shopping on Amazon fast and convenient, and Prime members in Canada can now enjoy fast, unlimited, free Prime delivery seven days a week,” said Alexandre Gagnon, vice-president of Amazon Canada, in a statement issued to MobileSyrup. “We keep making Prime better, and as our operational capabilities grow, we continue to increase product selection and enhance delivery options that customers in Canada enjoy.”

Image courtesy of Flickr user Steve Jurvetson.

27 Sep 13:05

Future Galaxy Note Could Have Speaker Built into its S Pen

by Killian Bell
A future iteration of the Galaxy Note could feature a speaker built into its iconic S Pen stylus. Samsung has patented the idea, which sees a tiny speaker embedded in the S Pen’s tip that could negate the need to have speakers in the phone itself. Continue reading →
26 Sep 22:30

John Chen wishes Canadians would support BlackBerry more

by Patrick O'Rourke

BlackBerry CEO John Chen said that he believes his company is two-thirds of the way towards turning around the Waterloo-based software and handset manufacturers fortunes, though he’s disappointed in a loss of support for the brand from many Canadians.

“We have made investment over a billion-plus, all in software, all in security, and now we need to execute it,” said Chen at a recent event in Toronto.

Chen feels that despite his company’s best efforts and the fact that BlackBerry is “an iconic brand” and an important part of “the history of tech and innovation” in Canada, the struggling Waterloo-based handset manufacture’s reputation is sullied in the mind of many Canadians.

Chen feels that more encouragement from Canadians would be a “win-win for all” for both BlackBerry and the country. Chen became CEO of the struggling company in 2013 and reportedly has plans plans to decide on the fate of BlackBerry’s struggling hardware division this coming September.

“What I think Canadians ought to think about is, if you really think technology and knowledge is the next evolution of the economy, having a healthy BlackBerry is actually paramount in importance not only to Waterloo and other innovation centres, but also for the Canadian mindset,” said Chen.

Related: BlackBerry DTEK50 review: Pushing the security narrative

25 Sep 22:53

Twitter Favorites: [humantransit] The worst possible advice anyone could give public transit agencies. Transit succeeds by doing necessary things tha…

Jarrett Walker @humantransit
The worst possible advice anyone could give public transit agencies. Transit succeeds by doing necessary things tha……
26 Sep 02:07

Twitter Favorites: [winelibrarian] PSA: If you don't like sports, it's not necessary to constantly tell everyone on social media how you don't like and don't watch sports.

Michelle @winelibrarian
PSA: If you don't like sports, it's not necessary to constantly tell everyone on social media how you don't like and don't watch sports.
26 Sep 22:59

Leaked image reveals Google’s Pixel handset ahead of October 4 event

by Rose Behar

Prolific mobile leakster Evan Blass has published what appears to be a rendered image of Google’s forthcoming Pixel handset, which will reportedly debut at an October 4th event along with a plus-sized Pixel XL version, and a slew of other devices.

The front-facing render shows a minimal-looking black device that lacks physical buttons and features what is likely Android 7.1, which is expected to debut on the Pixel devices.

google pixel render 1

In addition to the image, Blass and fellow VentureBeat writer Emil Protalinski state that the publication can confirm that “the world will indeed be introduced to a Google Pixel […] and a Google Pixel XL” on October 4th.

Rumours first started circulating about the two devices several months ago under the codenames Sailfish and Marlin, beginning with the now strongly held belief that the devices will be manufactured by HTC.

Android Police has stated that the smaller of the two, the Pixel, will feature a 5-inch 1080p display, quad-core 2.0GHz 64-bit processor, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a 2770 mAh battery, a 12MP rear camera and rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. Expected retail price, according to the site, is $649 USD.

AP also stated that the Pixel XL will have similar specs but will sport a 5.5-inch QHD display, 3450mAh battery and more powerful processor.

Image credit: VentureBeat

Related: The Pixel and Pixel XL probably won’t be affordable in Canada

27 Sep 00:10

Lenovo reportedly lays off hundreds from its Motorola division

by Rose Behar

After a leak was posted today in Droid-Life reporting that hundreds of Motorola employees had just been fired, Lenovo confirmed to The Verge that it has let go “less than two percent of its 55,000 employees.”

The manufacturer wouldn’t divulge exactly how many of those approximately 1,100 jobs were slashed from Motorola in particular, however.

The report from Droid-Life cited two sources “close to the matter” who stated that the lay-offs decimated potentially more than 50 percent of the workforce at Motorola.

In a statement to The Verge, Lenovo wrote: “The majority of the positions being eliminated are part of the ongoing strategic integration between Lenovo and its Motorola smartphone business as the company further aligns its organization and streamlines its product portfolio to best compete in the global smartphone market.”

The company also contradicted the idea, put forth by a Droid-Life source, that the company would relocate its remaining Motorola employees from their Chicago-based headquarters to Lenovo’s North Carolina offices, stating “Lenovo is absolutely committed to Chicago and we plan to maintain our Motorola Mobility headquarters there.”

In August 2015, Lenovo laid off a whopping 3,200 employees. In statements released at the time, the company identified the declining PC market and improperly structured mobile and enterprise divisions as the major reasons behind the mass firing.

Related: Lenovo’s Google Tango-enabled Phab2 Pro is delayed

26 Sep 23:31

How Apple Music’s Algorithmically Personalized Playlists Work

by Federico Viticci

Reggie Ugwu, in a BuzzFeed feature story on the second act of Apple Music, got some details on the new 'My Favorites Mix' and 'My New Music Mix' playlists introduced with iOS 10:

Revealing how the mixes operate for the first time to BuzzFeed News, Apple claimed a potential advantage over similar algorithmically personalized playlists, including Spotify’s Discover Weekly and Pandora’s Thumbprint Radio: deep historical knowledge of individual users’ tastes and habits, based on years of data carried over from iTunes.

If you gave high ratings to a song or album in your old iTunes library, or just played it a lot more than others, you’ll find that behavior reflected in your My Favorites Mix. Meanwhile, the My New Music Mix algorithm serves recently released songs — as well as songs that Apple Music knows you haven’t played before — that the service’s music experts have flagged as similar to others in your taste profile. Apple Music executives suggested even more personalized playlists will follow in the series; but only after prototypes have been vetted, with all possible outcomes — intentional and otherwise — given careful consideration.

This explains why the 'My Favorites Mix' playlists have (anecdotally) been spot-on for people I talked to. As I previously noted, back-catalogue songs from artists you're not familiar with (essentially, Discover Weekly) would be a good addition to Apple Music's mixes.

→ Source:

26 Sep 15:00

Public licenses and data: So what to do instead?

by Luis Villa

I just explained why open and copyleft licensing, which work fairly well in the software context, might not be legally workable, or practically a good idea, around data. So what to do instead? tl;dr: say no to licenses, say yes to norms.

"Day 43-Sharing" by A. David Holloway, under CC BY 2.0.
Day 43-Sharing” by A. David Holloway, under CC BY 2.0.

Partial solutions

In this complex landscape, it should be no surprise that there are no perfect solutions. I’ll start with two behaviors that can help.

Education and lawyering: just say no

If you’re reading this post, odds are that, within your organization or community, you’re known as a data geek and might get pulled in when someone asks for a new data (or hardware, or culture) license. The best thing you can do is help explain why restrictive “public” licensing for data is a bad idea. To the extent there is a community of lawyers around open licensing, we also need to be comfortable saying “this is a bad idea”.

These blog posts, to some extent, are my mea culpa for not saying “no” during the drafting of ODbL. At that time, I thought that if only we worked hard enough, and were creative enough, we could make a data license that avoided the pitfalls others had identified. It was only years later that I finally realized there were systemic reasons why we were doomed, despite lots of hard work and thoughtful lawyering. These posts lay out why, so that in the future I can say no more efficiently. Feel free to borrow them when you also need to say no :)

Project structure: collaboration builds on itself

When thinking about what people actually want from open licenses, it is important to remember that how people collaborate is deeply impacted by factors of how your project is structured. (To put it another way, architecture is also law.) For example, many kernel contributors feel that the best reason to contribute your code to the Linux kernel is not because of the license, but because the high velocity of development means that your costs are much lower if you get your features upstream quickly. Similarly, if you can build a big community like Wikimedia’s around your data, the velocity of improvements is likely to reduce the desire to fork. Where possible, consider also offering services and collaboration spaces that encourage people to work in public, rather than providing the bare minimum necessary for your own use. Or more simply, spend money on community people, rather than lawyers! These kinds of tweaks can often have much more of an impact on free-riding and contribution than any license choice. Unfortunately, the details are often project specific – which makes it hard to talk about in a blog post! Especially one that is already too long.

Solving with norms

So if lawyers should advise against the use of data law, and structuring your project for collaboration might not apply to you, what then? Following Peter Desmet, Science Commons, and others, I think the right tool for building resilient, global communities of sharing (in data and elsewhere) is written norms, combined with a formal release of rights.

Norms are essentially optimistic statements of what should be done, rather than formal requirements of what must be done (with the enforcement power of the state behind them). There is an extensive literature, pioneered by Nobelist Elinor Ostrom, on how they are actually how a huge amount of humankind’s work gets done – despite the skepticism of economists and lawyers. Critically, they often work even without the enforcement power of the legal system. For example, academia’s anti-plagiarism norms (when buttressed by appropriate non-legal institutional supports) are fairly successful. While there are still plagiarism problems, they’re fairly comparable to the Linux kernel’s GPL-violation problems – even though, unlike GPL, there is no legal enforcement mechanisms!

Norms and licenses have similar benefits

In many key ways, norms are not actually significantly different than licenses. Norms and licenses both can help (or hurt) a community reach their goals by:

  • Educating newcomers about community expectations: Collaboration requires shared understanding of the behavior that will guide that collaboration. Written norms can create that shared expectation just as well as licenses, and often better, since they can be flexible and human-readable in ways legally-binding international documents can’t.
  • Serving as the basis for social pressure: For the vast majority of collaborative projects, praise, shame, and other social nudges, not legal threats, are the actual basis for collaboration. (If you need proof of this, consider the decades-long success of open source before any legal enforcement was attempted.) Again, norms can serve this role just as well or not better, since it is often desire to cooperate and a fear of shaming that are what actually drive collaboration.
  • Similar levels of enforcement: While you can’t use the legal system to enforce a norm, most people and organizations also don’t have the option to use the legal system to enforce licenses – it is too expensive, or too time consuming, or the violator is in another country, or one of many other reasons why the legal system might not be an option (especially in data!) So instead most projects result to tools like personal appeals or threats of publicity – tools that are still available with norms.
  • Working in practice (usually): As I mentioned above, basing collaboration on social norms, rather than legal tools, work all the time in real life. The idea that collaboration can’t occur without the threat of legal sanction is really a somewhat recent invention. (I could actually have listed this under differences – since, as Ostrom teaches us, legal mechanisms often fail where norms succeed, and I think that is the case in data too.)

Why are norms better?

Of course, if norms were merely “as good as” licenses in the ways I just listed, I probably wouldn’t recommend them. Here are some ways that they can be better, in ways that address some of the concerns I raised in my earlier posts in this series:

  • Global: While [building global norms is not easy](, social norms based on appeals to the very human desires for collaboration and partnership can be a lot more global than the current schemes for protecting database or hardware rights, which aren’t international. (You can try to fake internationalization through a license, but as I pointed out in earlier posts, that is likely to fail legally, and be ignored by exactly the largest partners who you most want to get on board.)
  • Flexible: Many of the practical problems with licenses in data space boil down to their inflexibility: if a license presumes something to be true, and it isn’t, you might not be able to do anything about it. Norms can be much more generous – well-intentioned re-users can creatively reinterpret the rules as necessary to get to a good outcome, without having to ask every contributor to change the license. (Copyright law in the US provides some flexibility through fair use, which has been critical in the development of the internet. The EU does not extend such flexibility to data, though member states can add some fair dealing provisions if they choose. In neither case are those exceptions global, so they can’t be relied on by collaborative projects that aim to be global in scope.)
  • Work against, not with, the permission culture: Lessig warned us early on about “permission culture” – the notion that we would always need to ask permission to do anything. Creative Commons was an attempt to fight it, but by being a legal obligation, rather than a normative statement, it made a key concession to the permission culture – that the legal system was the right terrain to have discussions about sharing. The digital world has pretty whole-heartedly rejected this conclusion, sharing freely and constantly. As a result, I suspect a system that appeals to ethical systems has a better chance of long-term sustainability, because it works with the “new” default behavior online rather than bringing in the heavy, and inflexible, hand of the law.

Why you still need a (permissive) license

Norms aren’t enough if the underlying legal system might allow an early contributor to later wield the law as a threat. That’s why the best practice in the data space is to use something like the Creative Commons public domain grant (CC-Zero) to set a clear, reliable, permissive baseline, and then use norms to add flexible requirements on top of that. This uses law to provide reliability and predictability, and then uses norms to address concerns about fairness, free-riding, and effectiveness. CC-Zero still isn’t perfect; most notably it has to try to be both a grant and a license to deal with different international rules around grants.

What next?

In this context, when I say “norms”, I mean not just the general term, but specifically written norms that can act as a reference point for community members. In the data space, some good examples are DPLA’s “CCO-BY” and the Canadensys biodiversity initiative. A more subtle form can be found buried in the terms for NIH’s Clinical Trials database. So, some potential next steps, depending on where your collaborative project is:

  • If your community has informal norms (“attribution good! sharing good!”) consider writing them down like the examples above. If you’re being pressed to adopt a license (hi, Wikidata!), consider writing down norms instead, and thinking creatively about how to name and shame those who violate those norms.
  • If you’re an organization that publishes licenses, consider using your drafting prowess to write some standard norms that encapsulate the same behaviors without the clunkiness of database (or hardware) law. (Open Data Commons made some moves in this direction circa 2010, and other groups could consider doing the same.)
  • If you’re an organization that keeps getting told that people won’t participate in your project because of your license, consider moving towards a more permissive license + a norm, or interpreting your license permissively and reinforcing it with norms.

Good luck! May your data be widely re-used and contributors be excited to join your project.

27 Sep 00:31

Bike Friday discontinues the Tikit

by jnyyz

tikitintorontoI’ve had a Bike Friday Tikit for a couple of years now and I’ve been fairly happy with it. However, I’ve also been thinking about alternative folding bikes for a while.  In the interim, Bike Friday ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to launch a new 16″ wheel folding bike called the PakiT, which was advertised as being both lighter and cheaper than the Tikit. When I saw this, I figured it was only a matter of time until they discontinued the Tikit.

(Note that I am a happy customer from the their first Kickstarter campaign that launched the Haul a Day)

That confirmation arrived today via an answer I got on the Bike Friday FB page.

Screen Shot 2016-09-26 at 8.22.45 PM.png

“the tikit is being phased out. You can still order a tikit, but only until the end of this year, and at the new price listed on our website.” Note that they raised the price quite a bit.

I’m a little sad about this since the Tikit has some unique features for a Friday, like the quick fold. It also served me quite well this past summer on STP.


Nevertheless, from the looks of things, it is much more expensive to build than the PaKiT. Also, given the fact that there is a limited market for folding bikes that cost upwards of $1000, it’s not a bad move to concede the quickfold focused commuter market to Brompton.

If I get a chance, I’ll try to test ride the PakiT so that I can do a direct comparison with the Tikit. Also still waiting on a chance to check out the Helix.  Or perhaps I’ll take a second look at putting a internally geared hub on the PBW.

So many choices in the folding bike world these days…….

26 Sep 00:00

Lights out for shomi symptomatic of streaming video’s larger profitability problem


Terry Dawes, CanTech Letter, Sept 28, 2016

Shomi  foundered on the same shoal that afflicted Netflix - the demands for unsustainable revenues from content producers. There's no incentive for providers to offer Shomi a good rate when they'll ultimately roll out their own service and try to grab all the profits. Meanwhile, Netflix has responded by gutting its offering and producing many of its own shows. The market for streaming video accounts is limited, though, and people won't pay for all of them. Meanwhile, it's a bit ironic for me to be reading "the last jigsaw piece for streaming video to gain widespread acceptance will be live sports" while watching my Blue Jays game on (as I have for several years now). The content providers will never see their pot of gold. The same thing that happened to print media and music is happening to video and is happening to education. 'Live' is just a format now; you don't have to be there, and it doesn't have to be expensive.

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26 Sep 20:41

200 Epic Rides

by kai

There is more than one way to define epic. In this collection, 28 riders/writers share their recommendations for 200 epic rides. Some rides take only a few hours, others a few days, others still a few months. From Manhattan, to Mae Hong Song in Thailand, to Monte Amiata in Italy, you'll see the world from two wheels, or your couch. Your call.

As has come to be expected from Lonely Planet, this book is the right mix of instruction and inspiration. 50 of the 200 rides are presented as in-depth features. They're poetic and practical, and include planning logistics like best times to go, where to stay, and what to take. Each feature is followed by short suggestions for similar rides around the world.



8" x 10" Hardcover

327 pages

Grab your camera, or a seat on your couch, and dive in. 

27 Sep 01:53

Book Review – Dealers Of Lightning

by Martin

Last year I had a great time reading ‘The Innovators’ by Walter Isaacson, a wonderful book that spans computing history from Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace to our days. There are a lot of stories inside the book and each can only be a short summary of events. That’s why I also enjoy reading books about particular parts of computing history, and ‘Dealers of Lightning’ by Michael Hiltzik on the history of personal computing at Xerox PARC is just one of those.

When thinking about the history of the personal computer, The Altair, the Home Brew Computer Club, Apple, IBM, Commodore, Atari and other companies come to mind. But that’s only half of the story and they are not part of the book for the most part. ‘Dealers of Lightning’ deals with the other half of the story that takes place in the 1970’s and early 1980’s at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). Here, researchers did not only invent the laser printer, Ethernet and object oriented programming, but also created the Alto, the first personal computer with a graphical user interface. I was so revolutionary that it was an inspiration for Steve Jobs when Apple worked on the Lisa and later the Macintosh. PARC approached the personal computer from a big company and scientific angle and a lot of money to build big and expensive machines. According to the book they referred to the Alto as a ‘time machine’, very well aware that the Alto was way too expensive for the mass market at its time, but that Moore’s law would allow to build such a machine far cheaper just a couple of years down the road.

It eventually happened, just not from their direction. Instead the first personal computers were produced by MITS, a company in New Mexico for a few hundred dollars and hobbyists in garages in California who would later found companies such as Apple that would become multi-billion dollar companies. Crude by Alto standards but cheap enough for almost anyone to buy who wanted to have one.

Xerox on the other hand never saw what they had in their hands and missed the train which the book goes to great lengths to lay out. It’s interesting to see how great ideas brought PARC to life and how corporate reality of a big company would fail to exploit the results to a large degree. But the ideas that were put into reality at PARC disseminated and a lot of people who worked there eventually moved on to those garage companies that later became empires and made their fortunes there.

So if you are interested in that other half of the personal computer’s history, ‘Dealers of Lightning‘ should be on your reading list.

27 Sep 05:10

HERE – Data odyssey.

by windsorr

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RFM AvatarSmall






Car makers sharing data is the real story. 

  • HERE has begun its strategy to increasingly automate and imrpove transport but the most impressive feature so far is the fact that the 3 owners of HERE are sharing their data with each other.
  • Far more data than has been historically available is being used to create 4 new services that should be deeper, richer and more useful than any that have gone before.
  • These are:
    • First: HERE real-time traffic.
    • This takes probe data that typically provides traffic information and combines it with sensor data such as braking to provide more detail with regards to what is really happening on the road.
    • Using data from BMW, Audi and Daimler cars will reveal more information such as when some lanes are blocked while others are moving to give the driver better information upon which to base decisions.
    • Second: HERE Hazard Warnings.
    • This uses data from sensors such as impact, brakes and cameras to allow the driver to anticipate hazards rather than be forced to react to them.
    • Third: HERE Road signs.
    • This uses vehicle cameras to detect temporary and permanent changes to street signs that can improve assisted driving systems as well as warn the driver with regard to road changes and hazards.
    • Fourth: HERE On-Street parking.
    • This uses predicative statistics as well as data from the ignition to estimate where parking is most likely to be available and for how long the driver can expect to spend looking for parking.
  • These services are the first step in an odyssey to create fully autonomous driving but I think that the real story here is that they all use shared data from competing car makers.
  • Given that only a small percentage of cars on the road are connected, the initial appeal of these services will be small at first but it is the intent that they signal that is so significant.
  • This is the first time that car makers have allowed what they consider to be highly proprietary information to be shared with their competitors.
  • This is crucial because the opportunity created by sharing this kind of data is much greater for all involved but getting old fashioned companies to embrace this concept has been a real struggle.
  • As more companies sign up and agree to share their anonymised data the opportunity for everybody involved will continue to rapidly increase.
  • Furthermore, HERE and its partners will have exclusive access to this data giving them insights that neither Apple or Google will be able to replicate.
  • This how the automotive industry may be able to fight off the threat that Apple and particularly Google represent to their brands as digital services become more and more important.
  • I have had concerns with regards to data sharing within the HERE consortium (see here) and this announcement goes quite some way to alleviating that concern.
  • If HERE can also make its partners feel that all stakeholders are being fairly treated then it will have really improved its chances of creating a location platform with long term differentiation.
  • Google Maps faces none of these problems as users of Google Maps tend to agree to share their data with Google and there is only one stake holder in the operation.
  • This is why it is essential that the car makers prevent Google from sucking out all their data through Android Auto because this would really damage their (and HERE’s) long term differentiation.
  • HERE has an opportunity to be every bit as good (or even better) than Google Maps but success depends on openness, trust and commitment between its owners and partners.
  • So far, HERE is doing well at fostering all of these attributes and I see its chances of success continuing to improve.
26 Sep 13:57

Closing the data gap for web publishers

by Don Marti

Duane Kinsey writes, "For Publishing Companies, The Problem Is Publishing Companies." He suggests,

Publishers can voluntarily choose to leave the current ad tech landscape behind just as quickly as they decided to partner with many of the companies currently running the industry into the ditch.

Good goal. That is where we're going to have to get to in order to save the ad-supported web. Yes, the current web ad system is a dumpster fire. It's no secret that adtech intermediaries can leak user data from high-reputation sites to low-reputation ones. Right now the web is a good match for advertisers that want to do targeting-based, low-reputation strategies, but terrible for signaling-based, high-reputation strategies. Third-party tracking is a bad deal for publishers, too. For example, chumboxes are currently good for quick cash, but can leak user data and motivate users to install ad blockers.

TrustX: a better way, or same broken system with new owners?

(I have contributed several items to the Digital Content Next blog.)

Jack Marshall at the Wall Street Journal reports that Digital Content Next is launching a new ad marketplace called TrustX.

With no outside investors and no profit motives, TrustX will focus on driving long-term benefits to marketers and publishers, DCN said.

Are publishers just getting a piece of a low-value ad system, or really changing things?

Here's how we'll be able to know.

Who is in the tracking-protected audience? Tracking protection is fundamental to web publisher value. From the high-reputation publisher's point of view, DNT is more like "Do not leak data" or "Do not commoditize." But it's hard to measure accurately, because there are many different kinds. What works for detecting AVG Crumble might not work to detect Privacy Badger. Any project to fix web ads depends on getting good numbers on site audiences that are protected from third-party tracking, and so harder to track from high-value to low-value sites. (You can do this with the Aloodo un-tracking pixel and scripts.)

What does the market for competing low-value ads look like? Who else is selling impressions that claim to reach the TrustX audience? Get on one or more DSPs and buy some. Right now, conventional adtech can make a lot of bold claims about quality. (Ever notice that web ad impressions overall are about 30% bots, but every individual adtech company claims 2% bots? Somebody's math is wrong.) Buy the cheapest impressions that claim to be "your audience" that you can, and check them out. Part of that is comparing their tracking protection rates. If you have an early adopter audience that's well-protected, then a competing site that's full of bots will really stand out.

How can publishers refine the data-driven case for Flight to Quality? Real, high-quality sites have branding advantages over generic eyeball-buying, and adfraud is becoming a mainstream concern. The complex adtech that tracking protection protects against is also the place where fraud hides. But conventional adtech has a lead in data collection. Higher-reputation publishers need more and better data to take to numbers-craving CMOs. Much of that data will have to come from the tracking-protected audience.

This thing could really work.

If TrustX can do things right—CNAME support and EFF-flavored DNT would be solid choices—then ad blockers start to be less of a concern. Legit publishers can deal with the ad blocker the same way that MailChimp deals with the spam filter. Accept that it's there, carefully get around it, and comply with user norms. It would be counterproductive for MailChimp to get email newsletter subscribers to turn off the spam filter entirely, but they can get their own newsletters through without paying anybody off.

Facebook showed that you can beat the pattern-matching of Adblock Plus with fairly simple HTML changes. If TrustX can keep the privacy developers on the sidelines by respecting DNT, then that gives high-reputation sites some options. Refuse to pay into the "Acceptable Ads" racket, do some careful adblocker workarounds, advocate responsible tracking protection, and keep the four-currency price of accepting magazine-style ads on the web lower than the four-currency price of blocking them.

26 Sep 17:31

Sonos coming to the Apple Store

by Volker Weber


Just putting this here so that I don't get pinged by everybody. :-)

Apple Stores (physical and online) will start selling PLAY:1 and PLAY:5. PLAY:1 is the easy one, PLAY:5 is quite a big box. You get three months of Apple Music with your purchase, from now until the end of the year.

Good news for Sonos. If Apple would finally enable Sonos to send music to those players from any app, that would be great. I am already using Spotify Direct, and that is coming to all Sonos players in a few months.

26 Sep 17:41

Outlook for iOS and Android is now fully powered by the Microsoft Cloud

by Volker Weber
Outlook for iOS and Android now supports Exchange Online mailboxes natively, which means that none of the data of your mailboxes is cached outside of Office 365.

Outlooks is the best email client for Android and iOS. And Microsoft is finally making it enterprise-ready by connecting it directly into the Office 365 cloud. ... This new architecture also improves how Outlook reports Device IDs to Exchange Online, to help admins manage mobile email access through Outlook.

More >

26 Sep 16:50

Bob's Burgers' Comic Artist Escapes the Burgerverse | Monday Insta Illustrator

by Beckett Mufson for The Creators Project

A photo posted by Jack Herzog (@herzogs_lawblog) on

Bob, Linda, and Tina Belcher are regulars on Jack Herzog's Instagram account. He's a background artist on the Bob's Burgers comic, and helps reimagine the fan favorites in situations that push the show's boundaries—think boxing matches, space suits, and whatever this is. Herzog also has a personal illustration practice which he uses to break all the rules of the Burgerverse, making characters with purple and green skin, or acting as architect for a version of heaven where God sits on a La-Z-Boy in a middle of a translucent Spanish villa in the sky.

Peer through Herzog's collection of character studies, monumental Marlboro packs, typography experiments, and riffs on the Belcher clan in the Instagrams below.


A photo posted by Jack Herzog (@herzogs_lawblog) on



A photo posted by Jack Herzog (@herzogs_lawblog) on



A photo posted by Jack Herzog (@herzogs_lawblog) on



A photo posted by Jack Herzog (@herzogs_lawblog) on



A photo posted by Jack Herzog (@herzogs_lawblog) on



A photo posted by Jack Herzog (@herzogs_lawblog) on



A photo posted by Jack Herzog (@herzogs_lawblog) on

Follow Jack Herzog's work here. Check out The Creators Project on Instagram to find more up and coming artists.


We Talked to the Creator of 'Regular Show' About the Final Season

Evocative Illustrations Show What Women Do When No One's Watching

Linda, 'Bob's Burgers' Is Having a Tribute Art Show

26 Sep 18:30

Daily Durning: How Seattle should avoid Vancouver’s crisis

by pricetags

We seem to have missed this when it first came out in Seattle’s “The Stranger.”  Fortunately, Durning picked it up.


A City of Empty Towers 

Amos Latteier, a tech worker in Vancouver, British Columbia, is talking about what everyone in Vancouver can’t stop talking about: the city’s skyrocketing property values and its seemingly endless construction boom, where one luxury condo after another has been built, is being built, will be built.

It is a story that should now sound familiar to Seattleites.

“All property holders in Vancouver literally won the lottery,” Latteier says, sitting in a restaurant called Havana, with decor meant to reproduce the four-decade-long architectural decay that defines the Cuban capital. “This has created a huge divide between property owners and renters.” …

“It’s not just that you are locked out of the middle class, but it turns out that being a renter sucks in Vancouver,” Latteier says. “There are few renters’ rights. Evictions are common, and there is very little social awareness that this is a problem. I’ve had multiple property owners tell me that it’s not bad to be evicted: ‘Hey, change is good.'”

Latteier describes the general mentality of Vancouver’s landowners as that of resource extractors. They may be fine with paying extra money for fair-trade products in the grocery, but they are totally cold when it comes to the lives of their renters and making big deals on their properties. They want to get paid as much as possible and as soon as possible. And what’s of little or no consequence is how their rapacity might affect the city or the people who live in it. …

But how did the property market get so bad? Local market urbanists like Roger Valdez, the director of Smart Growth Seattle, and real-estate developers often place the blame on a lack of supply. Like San Francisco, the city is not building enough homes and apartments to meet demand. If the market becomes less restricted by rezoning certain sections of the city, it could meet this demand, prices would fall, and everyone (developers, the rich, the workers) would be happy.

The supply-and-demand model seems so reasonable, so logical, so rational. But the forces at work in Vancouver seem anything but that. Something totally insane and even monstrous is happening in this city.

In 2005, according to Yan’s research, around the time Vancouver’s housing market started heating up, just 19 percent of single-family homes were worth C$1 million or more in Greater Vancouver. Ten years later, 91 percent of single-family homes are worth more than that.

Yan’s research shows Vancouver’s real-estate market has growth rates far beyond what is normal. …

Vancouver is not unique. It is only exceptional in the speed at which it has been transformed. Vancouver is the neoliberal city we are all structured to become.

What is the solution? How can Seattle avoid the same fate? Kerry Gold recommends muscular regulation by the government of the real-estate market. She says that Christy Clark, the premier of British Columbia, has, though belatedly, begun moving in this direction. Clark and Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson, recently proposed taxing vacant apartments. And in late July, she surprised everyone by imposing a 15 percent tax on foreign home-buyers (the tax does not apply to immigrant residents).

Lastly, Gold thinks there should be much higher taxes on international capital flows, transactions, and events—a recommendation most likely to be efficacious. Without capital controls, all is lost in our globalized world. Why? Because if capital can go where it pleases, leave when it pleases, it can and will evade democratic accountability.

Full story here.

26 Sep 18:55

Disney is reportedly evaluating a potential bid for Twitter

by Jessica Vomiero

Rumours have been circulating recently about the potential sale of Twitter.

Disney has joined the list of potential interested buyers that have emerged in the past week. Bloomberg reports that The Walt Disney Company is working with a financial adviser to evaluate a bid for Twitter.

Salesforce and Google have also emerged as contenders for the uneasy social media company, which experienced flat-lining profits and user growth over the past few quarters. Other interested parties may include Verizon and Microsoft.

Salesforce is reportedly working with Bank of America through the process of making a bid. Twitter’s share price has soared since talk of a potential sale began. Bloomberg goes on to say that Disney would be able to help Twitter further refine its video strategy should they go through with the acquisition.

Jack Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of Twitter, is currently on the board at Disney. Twitter is said to be entertaining a $30 billion asking price.

Related: Google has reportedly canned Project Ara, it’s plan to build a modular smartphone

26 Sep 19:43

Twitter Sales Rumors Heat Up, But Is A Deal Around The Corner?

by Ashlee Kieler
mkalus shared this story from Consumerist:
I could maybe see Google buy them, Salesforce? Not so much, it goes a bit past their normal business area.

In the three days since reports began to surface that Twitter was looking to sell itself — possibly to Google or professional networking site Salesforce — rumors, ranging from a $16 billion list price to a sale happening right this minute, have heated up significantly. 

While Twitter is a hugely popular social media platform, all of that influence and reach doesn’t exactly make it a highly profitable — or sought after —  company. Still, the Wall Street Journal reports that Twitter’s user data and reach around the world might be enough to lure in a bevy of potential suitors.

One such possibility is networking company Salesforce, which could use Twitter as a platform to grow exponentially. The WSJ speculates that Salesforce could use Twitter as an avenue for companies and the public to interact around customer service.

Salesforce, which assists sales people keep track of customer contacts, marketers plan and execute campaigns, and customer-service reps solve problems, could find a gold mine of customer insights with the purchase of Twitter, analysts tell the WSJ.

Any possible sale would also include the issues Twitter has faced in recent years, Bloomberg reports: a slumping user base and increased scrutiny over abuse and harassment on the site.

Bloomberg reports that Salesforce’s interest in Twitter comes less than a year after the company unsuccessfully attempted to purchase LinkedIn.

For Google, the purchase of Twitter would fill the company’s social-networking void. Additionally, Bloomberg reports that Google and Twitter could make a natural couple, as the former chief business officer for the Google, Omid Kordestani, is now an executive chairman for Twitter.

Speculation that a deal between Twitter and someone was imminent came into high gear over the weekend, when venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, who has long been outspoken on Twitter, abruptly left the social media site.

While some have speculated that Andreessen’s departure occurred because he’s on the board for or was heavily invested with a company that is going to buy Twitter, a rep tells TechCrunch that Andreessen is simply on a break.

Andreessen isn’t a board member for Salesforce or Google, but he does sit on the board for Facebook. According to Forbes, his portfolio also includes Pinterest, Stripe, Airbnb, Buzzfeed, and GitHub.

If such a deal materializes, Bloomberg reports that it could be valued as high as $16 billion.

That figure comes from Microsoft’s agreement to buy LinkedIn, which estimated Twitter to be worth $16.7 billion.

Of course, as sources close the matter told CNBC last week, talks of any kind of acquisition are in early stages, and a deal might not materialize.

Twitter’s Buyers Would Get Valuable Data and a Long To-Do List [Bloomberg]
Marc Andreessen suddenly deletes all his tweets, goes on Twitter break [TechCrunch]
Salesforce Weighs Twitter Bid to Spur Growth [The Wall Street Journal]

26 Sep 19:00

The Best Wireless Mice

by Kimber Streams
The Logitech Marathon Mouse M705 is the best mouse for most people because of its ideal size, shape, and button selection.

We spent about 100 total hours researching nearly 200 mice, surveying more than 1,000 mouse users, testing 30 mice ourselves, and consulting with a panel of experts and laypeople to determine that the Logitech Marathon Mouse M705 is the best wireless mouse for most people. Our panel of mouse users with varying hand sizes and grips almost unanimously favored the size, shape, and glide of the Marathon over the competition, especially praising its button selection and placement.

26 Sep 16:57

Bells on Bloor ride and dandy bike giveaway at Suzuki foundation Christie Crawlfest

by dandy


Bells were handed out for the "victory lap" of the new Bloor bike lanes on Sunday at the Suzuki Crawlfest.

Bells on Bloor and Suzuki Foundation Christie Crawlfest recap in photos

Photos by Tammy Thorne and Jun Nogami

On Sunday, September 25, 2016, a few hundred cyclists and some super friendly police officers gathered at Christie Pits at 11 a.m. for a "victory lap" of the new bike lanes on Bloor, organized by Bells on Bloor.

The ride was kicked off with some words of thanks and speeches by bike advocates, including dandy contributing editor and Bells on Bloor founder, Albert Koehl and Suzuki Foundation's climate expert Gideon Forman (below.)


Later in the day we gave away a beautiful Public brand bike featured in our Bee Scene fashion shoot from the current issue, courtesy of Cycle Couture.


Cycle Couture owner Serge with bike winner Angela.


The lucky winner - bike lane advocate OG Angela Bischoff - rejoices! Congrats Angela, and thanks to everyone who stopped by to say hi at the dandy and Torontoist booth.


David Hains, Torontoist EIC, and Cayley James, dandyhorse associate editor above.

Check out more fab photos from this great event below.


Angela and Adrian flying the banner as the massive group ride sets off from Christie Pits park. Angela is riding the bike of her late partner, Tooker Gomberg. Tooker was one of the first advocates to push for bike lanes on Bloor.


Bike-friendly City Councillors Cressy and Layton speaking to the media.



One clever vendor made swift business with these Bloor bike shirts which, um, borrow the BikeStock design.


Great to see so many different bike types show up. These low-riders joined Jun Nogami's group to ride in from the west end (with more photos directly below by Jun.) You can read Jun's report here. A similar group ride came in from Scarborough in the east. Read TCAT's Marvin Macaraig's story about the ride here.


Good to see High Park MP Arif Virani supporting cyclists and joining in for the west-end ride.

group_shot lining_up doug-and-honey


Stopped at Keele (above). Says Jun: "For some reason, when you are riding with these guys, you get more respect from motorists!"


More photos by Tammy Thorne following from this great event.

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Albert Koehl, MC and Bells on Bloor founder gives thanks to all involved in this bike lane install, and introduces speakers, including Jared Kolb from Cycle Toronto, an organization which is now helping to push for bike lanes on the Danforth too.


Councillor Mike Layton rallied the crowd with: "I say 'bike lanes' you say 'Bloor'!" We all happily obliged. (Video to come.)

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Councillor Joe Cressy rides on, while chatting with sax man Richard Underhill.

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Gideon Forman of the Suzuki foundation above (right) is having a blast riding with friends in the new bike lane.

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Hundreds showed up for the "victory lap" group ride of the new two-and-a-half kilometre bike lane on Bloor, even though there were many other events on this beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon. Big thanks to the Suzuki Foundation for supporting bike lanes and forever thank you to all the cycling advocates who work so hard for these small but meaningful victories.

Related on

Riding the Bells on Bloor Victory Lap: A view from the East

Suzuki Foundation supports bike lanes

dandyhorse end-of-summer newsletter

Bike Spotting on Bloor: What do you think of the new bike lane?

Never accept the status quo: Angela Bischoff (from the dandy archives)

BikeStock 2014 in photos


26 Sep 20:29

Shomi is shutting down

by Patrick O'Rourke

Web streaming platform Shomi is shutting down as of November 30th according to its owners, Rogers and Shaw Communications.

In a press release sent out today, the carriers stated that the platform will wind down with service ending completely on November 30th, 2016. Rogers says that it expects to incur a loss on the investment amounting to approximately $100 million to $140 million in its third-quarter earnings ending on September 30th, 2016.

“We tried something new, and customers who used Shomi loved it. It’s like a great cult favourite with a fantastic core audience that unfortunately just isn’t big enough to be renewed for another season,” said Melani Griffith, senior vice-president of content at Rogers in a statement sent to MobileSyrup.

“We will be reaching out to eligible customers in the coming days as we have a wide range of premium experiences available for people to enjoy.”

Shomi launched officially during the summer of 2015 after a lengthy beta testing period that began in November of 2014. According to a recent report by Toronto’s Solutions Research Group (SRG), even combined, online streaming services CraveTV and Shomi only feature one-seventh of the number of subscribers streaming behemoth Netflix has in Canada.

“We’re really grateful to Canadians who enthusiastically invited us into their living rooms and took us with them on their phones, tablets and laptops,” said David Asch, senior vice-president and general manager of Shomi.

“The business climate and online video marketplace have changed markedly in the last few years. Combined with the fact that the business is more challenging to operate than we expected, we’ve decided to wind down our operations. We’re proud of the great service we created and the role we played in the evolution of Canada’s video landscape.”

Bell launched CraveTV, a service designed to rival Shomi, shortly after Rogers’ and Shaw’s platform left beta. CraveTV features many of HBO’s back catalogue of older content, including The Wire, OZ and Sex and the City, as well as Canadian-produced originals like Letterkenny.

In a statement sent to MobileSyrup, Bell Media’s vice president of communications, Scott Henderson, reaffirmed his company’s commitment to its streaming platform CraveTV.

“CraveTV has grown quickly since its launch in 2014, including our expansion of the service to all Canadians with an Internet account earlier this year. We’ll continue to invest in CraveTV programming and technology innovation, commissioning more original Canadian productions (like Letterkenny, and Russell Peters is the Indian Detective), and building upon our partnerships with HBO, Showtime, and other premium content brands,” said Henderson.

While Shomi is available on a variety of platforms, including iOS, Android, Apple TV, Xbox One and desktop, the platform’s app offered a lackluster experience. The Shomi app is often slow to load and features a user interface that many consider harder to navigate than competing services like Netflix, though the same can also be said about CraveTV.

Shortly after Shomi’s initial launch, Rogers began bundling the streaming platform for free with a number of its services, though recently, the company began offering free Netflix Premium with some of its wireless offerings, perhaps as a precursor to the eventual closing of its own streaming platform.

When Shomi and CraveTV originally launched both services were only available to each company’s respective wireless subscribers, though a later CRTC ruling opened the platforms up to everyone.

Shomi is priced at $8.99 a month.

Related: Let’s discuss Netflix, Shomi and CraveTV