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21 May 14:38

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

by Halley Suitt Tucker

Minuteman Bikeway Mini-Vacation

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

A view from the Minuteman Bikeway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bikeway Map:

Bike Stop

Ride Studio Café

Via Lago


Candy Castle

Wilson Farms


MA France


Kickstand Café

Historic Lexington:

21 May 15:28

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

by Frances Bula

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

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

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

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

This will be an interesting saga.

The report from the ex-planners’ group

Waterfront Issues Draft Paper May 20 2015-2


21 May 13:45

CFP: Cameras and Justice

by cyborgology

cameras and justice

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

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

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

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

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

ACLU Mobile Justice App: Channeling Citizen Voices

Sousveillance and Justice: A Panopticon in the Crowds

Surveillance from the Clouds to the Fog

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

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

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



Headline Pic: Source

21 May 17:18

Imgur teases redesigned Android app, available on June 2nd

by Ian Hardy

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

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

21 May 00:00

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


Jesse Hirsh, CBC, May 24, 2015

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

[Link] [Comment]
21 May 15:30

Power of the reveal

by Nathan Yau

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

Tags: Hannah Fairfield, lunch talk

21 May 17:46

Cyclists are 40 per cent less stressed than other commuters

by pricetags

Only 40 percent?  


From the Telegraph:

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

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

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

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

21 May 17:47

SFU Downtown: Upcoming Events of Interest

by pricetags

Everything Will Be | Film Screening And Discussion

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


Tuesday, May 26

7 pm

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

Free. No registration required.



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

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


Wednesday, May 27: 

5 pm

Room 1400, Harbour Centre, 515 West Hastings Street

Free with registration.



 Shaping Vancouver | What Is Neighbourhood Character?

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


Wednesday, May 27

7 pm

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

Free with registration.



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

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

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


Thursday, May 28

7 pm

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

Free with registration.



21 May 18:04

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

by Igor Bonifacic

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

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

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

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

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

21 May 00:00

The K12 Education Market


Rachel Norris, PILOTed, May 24, 2015

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

[Link] [Comment]
21 May 19:00

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

by Igor Bonifacic

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

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

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

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

Grab the factory images from Google’s developer website.

21 May 17:28

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

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

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


by russell davies

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



21 May 20:27

Mark Gurman on Dual-App Viewing Mode Coming to iPad

by Federico Viticci

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

Gurman reports:

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

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

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

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

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

∞ Read this on MacStories

21 May 13:01

Father Recreates Famous Photos with His Daughter

by Ryan Fritzsche

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

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

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

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

Lily as Mae Jemison
Lily as Admiral Michelle Howard

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

Lily as Shirley Chisholm

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

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

Lily as Misty Copeland
Lily as Queen Latifah

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

Lily as Malala
Lily as Mother Teresa

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

Lily as Nina Simone

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

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

21 May 03:02

Apple Watch and Continuous Computing

by Federico Viticci

Ben Thompson, writing about Apple Watch and Siri:

Moreover, the Watch may even help Apple to rival Google when it comes to Siri and the cloud: the best way to improve a service like Siri is to have millions of customers using it constantly, and I for one have used Siri more in the last two weeks than I have the last two years. Multiply that by millions of Watch users and you have the ingredients for a rapidly improving service. Perhaps more importantly, the fact that Siri is critical to the Watch’s success in a way it isn’t to the iPhone’s may finally properly align Apple’s incentives around improving its cloud services.

Apple has been improving Siri both in terms of speech recognition and load times considerably over the past two years (they're now at the third generation of Siri). I'm finding the wrist to be a better activation point for Siri – raising your wrist to talk to a watch like a spy somewhat feels more natural than staring at a phone and speaking into it (although that may come down to cultural heritage and personal taste).

As I wrote in my iOS 9 wishes, faster interactions with all Watch apps (Apple and third-party ones) could be possible with a Siri API. I'm curious to see how Apple Watch will shape Siri's future.

∞ Read this on MacStories

21 May 03:51

The 20 Most Bikeable U.S. Cities

by dandy

Cyclists in Minneapolis

Story by Darja Pilipovic, Photos courtesy of

The 20 Most Bikeable U.S. Cities

Montreal is often cited as the most bike friendly city in Canada, and we know Toronto’s got to build a few more bike lanes before we get there, but what’s happening south of the border these days?

Well, the rankings for this year are in, and Minneapolis boasts the highest scores for most bikeable city in the U.S., according to Walk Score. Walk score has updated and expanded its Bike Score ranking this year to include a total of 154 U.S. Cities and over 10,000 neighbourhoods.

Here are the 20 most bikeable U.S. cities with populations of 300,000 or more:

Minneapolis is ranked most bikeable city in the U.S. As bike lanes and cycling infrastructure have become more accessible, more and more people are opting to live in smaller houses closer to the city’s centre in order to bike able to bike to work, and the suburbs are losing popularity despite their advantages of more house and land. This correlation between cycling infrastructure and cycling popularity has been observed in several cities as their rankings rise.

More bike lanes and cycling infrastructure equal higher scores, and many cities have seen an increase in score since the 2013 rankings due to recent investments in cycling infrastructure. One of the most improved cities is Chicago (with a score increase from 61.5 in 2013 to 70.2 today). The Divvy bike share system, launched by the Chigao Department of Transportation, has greatly impacted the city’s bike-friendliness score by expanding Chicago’s on-street bike network to include over 225 miles of bike lanes and routes. A further expansion including the completion of a 645 mile network of on street bikeways is expected for 2020, which will further increase Chicago’s bike score.

Methodology behind the rankings:

Locations are measured on a scale from 0-100 based on whether they are good and safe for biking through these four equally weighed components:

  • Bike lanes
  • Hills
  • Destinations and road connectivity
  • Share of local workers’ commutes travelled by bicycle

Some smaller college towns that also deserve a mention but weren’t included in the list are:

  • Cambridge, MA (92.8)
  • Davis, CA (89.3)
  • Berkeley, CA (88.8)
  • Boulder, CO (86.2)
  • Santa Cruz, CA (83.8)

Thanks to the new data that has been added by local governments, Bike Score will now have details for over 30 new cities including Providence, RI (66.9), Baltimore(56.1), Detroit (55.0) and Fort Lauderdale (53.6). This will make it easier for people to find bike-friendly cities to live in or visit.

For more information on bike-friendliness and city rankings, please visit Walk Score‘s complete ranking of more than 150 cities and 10,000 neighbourhoods.


Related on the dandyBLOG:

Cyclist Detour for Toronto’s Waterfront – Spadina to York

Ferry terminal to get facelift: redesign competition underway

Queens Quay Cycling Detour Update

More space for pedestrians and cyclists in Amsterdam

SERIES: Exiting Toronto by bike – Western Waterfront Route

21 May 07:01

Testing broken computer colors

by Nathan Yau

Color spaces

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

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

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

Tags: color

20 May 18:35

Webcasting Open Courses: A Brief (Berkeley) History

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

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

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

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

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

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

(I love the clipart here)

From that 2001 report:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

21 May 12:16

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

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

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

WebRTCHacks Publishes Analysis of Facebook and WhatsApp Usage of WebRTC

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

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

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

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

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

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

20 May 00:00

Predictive Modeling With Big Data: Is Bigger Really Better?


Junqué de Fortuny Enric, Martens David, Provost Foster, Big Data, May 23, 2015

The answer to the question posted by the authors is a qualified "yes". They write that nuanced behaviours may only become apparent when a massive number of cases is considered. Additionally, data sets that are able to have fine-grained feature sets are able to make better predictions. But it's no walk in the park, it still takes a lot of expertise to develop the algorithms, and it's expensive. (Note - I haven't cited this source before - it should be open access, but sometimes things look like they're open access when I'm working in my office, but are not open access when I'm clicking on the link from home,. so if you have problems, please tell me).

[Link] [Comment]
20 May 21:55

Your large screened Android phone in ‘laptop’ mode, with keyboard and mouse

by Steve Litchfield
The rise of screen sizes in the phone world towards those of tablets raises a number of questions. The obvious one, and easily answered, is whether you still need that iPad mini or Nexus 7 (etc.)? ‘No’, of course. But what about 10″ tablets? It’s a tougher call. What about going all the way, do you still need a laptop or netBook? Probably, but that doesn’t mean that your large-screened Android smartphone can’t stand in every now and then, armed with Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. A little geeky? Probably. But very cool, as I show in the video below! Continue reading →
20 May 19:02

"OH: SF tech culture is focused on solving one problem: What is my mother no longer doing for me?—..."

OH: SF tech culture is focused on solving one problem: What is my mother no longer doing for me?

— aziz (@azizshamim) May 4, 2015
20 May 14:06

The OTHER reason I am voting YES in the Metro Vancouver Transit Referendum

by Maggie

I am voting YES in the BC Transit Referendum because I want a better future for my descendants - but ALSO because I simply want to be able to commute by bike without being killed!

The post The OTHER reason I am voting YES in the Metro Vancouver Transit Referendum appeared first on Average Joe Cyclist.

20 May 23:37

How photo filters affect online engagement

by David Ayman Shamma

Filters: Practically every modern camera-phone app offers them, from Flickr to Instagram to the iOS built-in camera. You can snap a photo and with a tap make it look reddish, or black and white, or faded and aged. It is now commonplace to capture a photo and edit it on the same device, then instantly share that photo with family, friends, or the world. But despite their present-day ubiquity, filters should not be taken for granted; they affect how people engage with photos in significant ways.

Flickr Default

In a relatively short amount of time, filter usage has changed from everyday social photographers to serious photography enthusiasts. Our research team wondered why this was the case and if filtering photos changes how people like and comment on them on social media. In answering these questions, we first needed to understand people’s motivations and perceptions regarding filter use. We did this through several semi-structured interviews with Flickr members of various photographic expertise. Then we wanted to to understand how filters affect photo engagement, specifically social engagement such as favorites/likes, comments, and views.

We found that photo enthusiasts on Flickr, despite having access to high-end cameras, still use their mobile devices to take photos and filter their photos with the app. They mainly use the filters to correct errors or improve aesthetics of their photowork. Conversely, many casual social photographers use their mobile cameras for simpler daily documentations like taking photos of things, events, and people. Social photographers often share their photos with family and friends and use and enjoy filters as a method of photo personalization (making the photo unique to them), which they find fun to use and without the need to learn and use a separate editing suite (professional or otherwise). Interestingly, they often look for filters that highlight salient objects in the photos and try to apply aesthetic effects, such as adding color saturation or making the photo look vintage.


Looking at 7.6 million public Flickr app photos modeled in a negative binomial regression, we found that filters boost engagement on the site. Filtered photos are 21 percent more likely to be viewed and 45 percent more likely to be commented on. However, not all filters affect engagement equally. Filters that increase contrast and correct exposure can help a photo’s engagement, and filters that create a warmer color temperature are more engaging than those with cooler color effects. More details on filters, photo content, and engagement can be found in our research paper, “Why We Filter Our Photos and How It Impacts Engagement,” co-authored with Lyndon Kennedy at Yahoo Labs/Flickr and Eric Gilbert at Georgia Tech, to be published next week in the proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (ICWSM).


What we have begun to unravel with this research is an understanding of community engagement through the modern practice of photography. This understanding applies to those creating the photographs as well as to spectators’ engagement with the photos. Our research aimed to find the tacit relationship between content, composition, and social engagement, and included qualitative and quantitative findings. We found that serious hobbyists apply filters to correct their photos, expose certain objects, or manipulate certain colors. More casual photographers like to add artificial vintage effects to their photos and make them more playful and unique. Finally, we found that all these filtered photos are more likely to be viewed and commented on by the community.

(This blog post is a collaboration between Saeideh Bakhshi and David A. Shamma)

21 May 00:43

Flattery and Impact

by Richard Millington

If you want someone to join the community, flatter them and explain why you need them in the community. 

Don’t flatter someone for who they are. Praise them for what they have done.

Don’t tell someone they will have a big impact. Highlight the specific role they can play in the community (and why only them can perform that role).

Lots of flattery and lots of impact, that’s the secret. 

20 May 19:00

All sorts of people are denouncing, but it looks OK to me. Maybe I’m wrong. If someone convinces me that I am, then I’ll update this post with an explanation of why it’s a bad thing, and of course link to the evidence.

What it is

Near as I can tell, it’s a service, funded by Facebook, where less-well-off people in less-developed parts of the world can get bits of the Internet for free, notably including Facebook and Wikipedia. (But I do have to say that it’s damn hard to find a listing of what beyond that is actually on

Lots of people, including sane-sounding Net-neutrality advocates, are upset; this story at the BBC seems to cover their talking points reasonably well.

Why it doesn’t bother me

People, who otherwise wouldn’t, get Wikipedia for free. That seems like a wonderful thing!

And yeah, they also get Facebook whether they want it or need it or not. I’ll be honest; I don’t much care for Facebook. But is it so pernicious as to counterbalance the benefits of opening up Wikipedia to huge numbers of the impoverished? I’m really having trouble with that equation.

The people who use may be poor but that doesn’t mean they’re stupid; they’ll understand perfectly well that they’re only getting a stripped-down Facebook-centric version of the real thing.

There is a legit gripe: doesn’t support HTTPS, privacy by default. But they acknowledge that and they say they’re working on it. (You may have to search forward in that awful Facebook page; look for “lame”.)

Like TV

How is this different from classic over-the-air television? You don’t pay for it but every hour has 15 minutes of ads. Is it non-neutral that there are ads from some companies but not others? And that there are no specialty niche cable channels? Well yeah, but it’s still a pretty good bargain for lots of people.

What am I missing?

Seriously: Convince me that I’m wrong and this space, which has pretty good Google-juice, will be occupied by an phillipic.

20 May 11:21

Writing A Web Application with Flask and HyperDex

by Akhil Mehendale and Adithya Venkatesh and Emin Gün Sirer

In this post, we will explore how to build a prototypical web application using Flask with HyperDex. Specifically, this post will examine how to create a simple discussion board. In a series of blog posts, we'll build up to a discussion forum where people can log in with their OAuth credentials and post comments. Ultimately, we'll build a cryptocurrency exchange backed by HyperDex and Flask.

Flask, of course, is a popular microframework for writing web applications in Python. It uses Werkzeug for WSGI and Jinja2 for templating. HyperDex is a next generation key-value and document store with a wide array of features -- namely a rich API, strong consistency and fault tolerance. For reference, here are the links to the Flask official tutorial and the Hyperdex quick start. With those links at the ready, let's dive right in.

STEP 1: Install Flask and HyperDex

  1. Install Flask:
pip install Flask
pip install Flask-WTF
  1. Install Hyperdex Warp. On Ubuntu 14.04, follow the sequence below; for other platforms, consult the download guide
wget -O - | apt-key add -
cat >> /etc/apt/sources.list.d/hyperdex.list << EOF

deb [arch=amd64] trusty main
apt-get update
apt-get install -y hyperdex-warp python-hyperdex-admin-warp python-hyperdex-client-warp

3. Create the directories needed for the application. We'll call our application HyperFlaskr and create directories for static files and templates:

mkdir HyperFlaskr HyperFlaskr/static HyperFlaskr/templates

Flask requires the folder structure as described above. It picks up the static images and javascripts from static folder and the Jinja templates from templates.

We will also need some folders to hold the data we are going to serve, as well as metadata about the cluster configuration. The HyperDex coordinator oversees the organization of hyperspaces (the tables we create). Data is the directory that holds the actual data. HyperDex daemons are the workhorses that actually work on storing the data and respond to client requests.

mkdir HyperFlaskr/hyperdex/ HyperFlaskr/hyperdex/data HyperFlaskr/hyperdex/coordinator
  1. Start hyperdex by typing.
cd HyperFlaskr
hyperdex coordinator -f -l -p 1982 --data=hyperdex/coordinator --daemon

cd HyperFlaskr/hyperdex/daemon/
hyperdex daemon -f --listen= --listen-port=2012 --coordinator= --coordinator-port=1982 --data=hyperdex/data/ --daemon

STEP 2: Configure HyperDex

Now that we have the software we need up and running, it's time to initialize HyperDex. Recall that HyperDex is both a key-value and a document store. It does not inherently require a schema to use and can store JSON documents, but when there is a schema present, it can take advantage of it to provide extra performance. Since this application has a well-defined schema, let's take advantage of it and tell HyperDex how our data will be organized.

To do this, let's create a file called with the following contents:

import sys
import hyperdex.admin

a = hyperdex.admin.Admin('', 1982)

if len(sys.argv) == 2 and sys.argv[1] == '--nuke':
    if 'posts' in a.list_spaces():
if 'posts' not in a.list_spaces():
space posts
    string id
    int views,
    string title,
    string body

This specification creates a simple table called posts with key id and attributes views, title, and body. We need to run it to create our database.


STEP 3: Build Simple App Skeleton

Now that we have our database in place, let’s write a very simple application that can start up a simple Flask server. Place the following code in a file called

from flask import Flask, request, session, g, redirect, url_for, abort, render_template, flash, make_response
from import Form
from wtforms import StringField, TextAreaField
from wtforms.validators import DataRequired
import hyperdex.client
import uuid

DEBUG = True
#create a simple application
app = Flask(__name__)
# set the secret key Flask uses for cookie authentication. keep this really secret:
app.secret_key = 'A0Zr98j/3yX R~XHH!jmN]LWX/,?RT'
c = hyperdex.client.Client('', 1982)

if __name__ == '__main__':

Now run it with


We now have a server running on localhost at port 5000.

STEP 4: Add a View

Our server isn't very useful because it does not yet render any pages. Let's fix this.

To do this, we'll need to know how to insert and retrieve items from HyperDex. The following cheat sheet might come in handy if you want to get a quick primer on how to do that, and we'll leave the link to the extensive HyperDex documentation here in case you want to explore the full, rich API.

# Search and retrieve all posts'posts', {})
# Search for posts with title Hello World'posts', {'title' : 'Hello World'})
# Retrieve the top 100 viewed posts.
c.sorted_search('posts', {}, 'views', 100, 'max')
# Retrieve the specific post with id 1.
c.get('posts', 1)
# Creates a new post with Id 3.
c.put('posts', 3, {'views' : 0, 'title' : "Hello World", 'body' : post_body})
# Atomically increments the view count of a Post with Id 1 by 2.
c.atomic_add('posts', 1, {'views' : 2})

First, let's create a simple form using Flask_WTForms to provide secure CSRF proof form for a user to create a blog entry.

class PostForm(Form):
    title = StringField('title', validators=[DataRequired()])
    body  = TextAreaField('body',  validators=[DataRequired()])

Now, lets write a simple view to display all entries:

@app.route('/index', methods=['POST', 'GET'])
def index():
    form = PostForm()
    cur ='posts', {})
    entries = [dict(row) for row in cur]

    if request.method == 'POST':
        if not form.validate_on_submit():
            flash(u'Invalid Input')
            return render_template('show_entries.html', entries=entries, form=form)
        c.put('posts', str(uuid.uuid1()), {'views' : 0, 'title' : str(request.form['title']), 'body' : str(request.form['body'])})
        flash('New entry was successfully posted')
        cur ='posts', {})
        entries = [dict(row) for row in cur]
        return render_template('show_entries.html', entries=entries, form=PostForm(title='', body=''))

    return render_template('show_entries.html', entries=entries, form=form)

STEP 5: Add Styling

Now, let's add some HTML and CSS to render the UI:

In file HyperFlaskr/templates/layout.html:

<!doctype html>
<link rel=stylesheet type=text/css href="{{ url_for('static', filename='style.css') }}">
<div class='page'>
    {% for message in get_flashed_messages() %}
    <div class='flash'>{{ message }}</div>
    {% endfor %}
{% block body %}{% endblock %}

In file HyperFlaskr/templates/show_entries.html:

{% extends "layout.html" %}
{% block body %}
    <form action="{{ url_for('index') }}" method='POST' class='add-entry'>
        {{ form.hidden_tag() }}<br/>
            {{ form.title }}<br/>
            {{ form.body }}<br/>
            <input type='submit' value='Share'>
  <ul class='entries'>
  {% for entry in entries %}
    <li><h2>{{ entry.title }}</h2>{{ entry.body|safe }}</li>
  {% else %}
    <li>No entries here so far</li>
  {% endfor %}
{% endblock %}

Finally, add the following to HyperFlaskr/static/style.css:

body            { font-family: sans-serif; background: #eee; }
a, h1, h2       { color: #377ba8; }
h1, h2          { font-family: 'Georgia', serif; margin: 0; }
h1              { border-bottom: 2px solid #eee; }
h2              { font-size: 1.2em; }

.page           { margin: 2em auto; width: 35em; border: 5px solid #ccc;
                  padding: 0.8em; background: white; }
.entries        { list-style: none; margin: 0; padding: 0; }
.entries li     { margin: 0.8em 1.2em; }
.entries li h2  { margin-left: -1em; }
.add-entry      { font-size: 0.9em; border-bottom: 1px solid #ccc; }
.add-entry dl   { font-weight: bold; }
.metanav        { text-align: right; font-size: 0.8em; padding: 0.3em;
                  margin-bottom: 1em; background: #fafafa; }
.flash          { background: #cee5F5; padding: 0.5em;
                  border: 1px solid #aacbe2; }
.error          { background: #f0d6d6; padding: 0.5em; }

If you want to avoid all this cutting and pasting, you can just download the code bundle for this app.

Wrap Up

Sample screenshot

If you reached this point, congratulations! Your web application is off the ground. If you run the server now, we should have a working page through which we can add and delete posts to this simple blog application, albeit, without user login.

Overall, we hope the process was painless. Most of this tutorial was spent on HTML and CSS -- the DB API is, in comparison, fairly straightforward to use.

In the next post in this series, we will see how to handle user login using OAuth.

21 May 03:25

Toronto Ride of Silence 2015

by jnyyz

Tonight was the annual Ride of Silence, a ride held all over the world on May 20 at 7 pm local time to remember those who have died riding a bike. The Toronto ride has been run since 2009.

Here we are at the starting point, Bloor and Spadina. About 25 riders; a nice mix of newcomers and old hands.

Biking along Bloor.

and then down Yonge.


The ride ended at Nathan Phillips Square, in front of City Hall.

The names of riders killed since 2010 was read out, and then we had a moment of silence.

For the record, a partial list:

Date              Name                       Age  Location
28-Oct-14            ?                        71    Victoria Park and O’Connor
09-Oct-14      Edouard Le Blanc        63    Gatineau Hydro Corridor @ Warden
Aug 1 2014     Immanuel Sinnadurai  17    Sheppard E at Nelson
20-Nov-13      Adrian Dudzicki           23   Sheppard W and Allen
Oct. 16, 2013  Carla Warrilow            25   Dundas and Spadina
Sept 18 2013   Sue Trainor                51  Lakeshore Blvd W near Royal York
April 13 2013   Henry Mejia               37  Kennedy Rd and 401
Nov 23 2012    Tom Samson              35  Lansdowne and Davenport
Nov 7 2012      Mike Rankin               56  University at Richmond
Sept 7 2012     Pete Cram                  29  Queen St W at Dufferin
August 6 2012  Joe Mavec                       St. Clair W at Wychwood
Nov 7 2011      Jenna Morrison         38    Dundas and Sterling
05-Aug-11       Jack Roper                84    Greenwood at Plains
Nov 19 2010    Vicente Sering           55    Spadina and Lakeshore
26-Sep-10       Nigel Gough                28   Lakeshore at Colborne Lodge

A complete list is here:

compiled by the good people at the Advocacy for Respect of Cyclists (ARC) whose website appears to be down right now. (FB page here)

Thanks to everyone who rode tonight.

Update Wayne Scott’s pictures on FB.