Shared posts

29 Nov 19:13

You can now play Pac-Man and other mobile games on Facebook Messenger and News Feed

by Rose Behar

In case you needed any more excuse to waste time on Facebook, the company is now rolling out ‘Instant Games’ to Messenger and News Feed for mobile and web, allowing users to compete against their friends in such classics as Pac-Man and Space Invaders.

An extension of its previous, ‘secret’ but exceedingly popular game offerings, which were limited to soccer, basketball and chess, Messenger’s new Instant Games gives users access to 17 games at launch. In addition to the ones mentioned above, there is also Words With Friends: Frenzy, Galaga and Templar 2048.

facebook messenger games

The update is now rolling out to iOS v8 and Android v5 or later devices in Canada and 29 other countries, and is immediately available via the web. To get started, update Messenger and enter the conversation where you’d like to start a game (it can be with a group or just one-on-one) and tap the game controller icon. Once you’re finished playing, the game will post your score to the conversation, challenging those involved to see if they can beat your score.

“We think this is just the beginning for games on Messenger,” Facebook states in an announcement blog post, “Look for new titles to be added, and for new ways to play.”

Related: How to play soccer — and all the rest of Facebook’s hidden games — in Messenger

29 Nov 14:56

36 Days and 36 Design Prompts Lead to 36 Spectacular Typographical Creations

by Andrew Nunes for The Creators Project

All images courtesy the artist

36 Days of Type is a yearly challenge created by Spanish designers Nina Sans and Rafa Goicoechea, which invites people across the world to design a new font every day for 36 consecutive days. For this year’s edition, up-and-coming visual designer Jesseca Dollano stepped up to the plate and designed an expansive typeface for the challenge, one that manages to be futuristically cybernetic, mildly retro, and strangely cohesive at the same time.

The most interesting part of Dollano’s typeface is her numerical set, which functions like a time machine of typographical history in reverse. Beginning with a ‘0’ that is splintered into geometric 3D sections as if it were a NASA architectural blueprint, the numbers slowly become more corporeal and evocative of typographical styles from the 70s and 80s by the time ‘8’ and ‘9’ roll around.

Even their color palettes reflect this pattern of polished futurism, beginning with sleek, cold, and calculated blues and purples until bubbly reds and yellow burst into the font. Dollano later created another version of the typeface in an entirely synchronized palette revolving around shades of turquoise, yellow, and green.

Despite the fact that the Hong Kong-born, New York-based designer primarily works on app interfaces, infographics, and Samsung ads, this wasn’t Dollano’s first foray into typography. Her earlier project One Rock Alphabet saw the designer create an entire typeface from photographed movements of rocks, an idea she derived from a passage in physicist Alan Lightman’s book Einstein’s Dreams.

36 Days of Type marked a departure from a more formal and composed typographical style into something energetic and less constrained. It's the first time she engaged in a time-based, durational design project, a feat that was challenging to say the least. “Designing anything at all (even if it’s something small) for 36 days straight will be a challenge for anyone. There is just not enough time in a day, especially after work,” Dollano tells The Creators Project.

“A friend actually challenged me to do this and it ended up becoming a competition between the two of us on who gets featured the most,” she adds. “I almost didn’t have a social life, as I was so dedicated to this project. I thought I couldn’t do it at first, but in the end, I managed!”

More of Jesseca Dollano’s works can be found on her website, and more information on the 36 Days of Type challenge is available here.


100+ Swiss Designers—1 New Typography Exhibition

‘Stranger Things’-ify Anything with This Typography Generator

"Picasso of Design" Paul Rand’s Manifesto Is Back in Print

29 Nov 17:39

Emarsys – Making the Most of Compose

by Jon Silvers
Emarsys – Making the Most of Compose

In this article, we take a look at long-time Compose customer, Emarsys, who runs Compose-hosted MongoDB, PostgreSQL and Redis for their micro-services architected marketing automation platform.

Emarsys has been delivering email campaigns for customers since 2000, but it was in 2010 that the company made a critical pivot from offering CRM and email services to a full-serviced marketing automation solution. That included moving to a microservices architecture.

The microservices architecture is key for Emarsys for delivering value to their clients faster. They have accelerated development of entirely new modules by supporting greater autonomy for their engineers. Developers are encouraged to code in their favorite languages with their choice of tools in their preferred cloud. The majority of development happens in their Budapest office. We spoke with Andras Fincza, Head of Engineering and László Merklik, Senior Vice President of Core Products, about their application and use of Compose-hosted services.

Emarsys – Making the Most of Compose

Unlike marketing automation vendors who are focused on the B2B space, Emarsys works with B2C customers. While B2B marketing automation solutions are tailored for smaller data sets, Emarsys is built for scale. "If you have 2 million or 60 million contacts, there's an explosion of data and simple metrics solutions won't suffice," said Merklik.

Merklik added: "So the problem for a marketer is that it became the age of point solutions – you have a solution for personalization, you have a solution for push, you have a solution for automation, and so forth. But in the end it's impossible to get that information in one place, make sense of it, build your marketing strategy, and execute it with all these point solutions. So what we're trying to solve is this gap – this huge gap in the information and the execution of the strategy. We want to let our customers define their strategy but not have to worry about how to get and use data."

The Emarsys application is split into two different infrastructures, a legacy infrastructure (built in PHP) and a new cloud-based infrastructure on Compose, Heroku and other as-a-Service platforms. Everything works together seamlessly using REST APIs to communicate across the entire stack. The huge data sets they work with are analyzed through an AI module for example. To some degree, Compose epitomizes why they have moved to a microservices architecture. It's simply much easier for developers to focus on writing great code instead of managing infrastructure.

"Our developers need to write maintainable code and be on-call if something breaks or it needs work," said Fincza, "So it really motivates them to write resilient code. On the other side, we want to provide them with state-of-the-art solutions to manage the services they write, so this is why we use Compose, for example, because it frees up our operations time and helps the team focus on the code quality and the product itself."

So how does their team of 70+ developers and data scientists work in unison to build a microservices platform? As Fincza describes it, they have followed the same type of system that Spotify's engineering team has championed in which they've split their teams into "clans" to focus on different themes, such as content or reporting. The company embraces OKRs for setting goals; they have a 12-18 month high-level product roadmap that is broken into 4 month release. Each team derives their own objectives in support of the high-level roadmap.

Compose-hosted MongoDB, PostgreSQL and Redis are used by various engineering clans for different parts of the application. In addition to Compose freeing up time for their team to focus on app development, Fincza added, "One of the best things we have from Compose is the reliability. We've had no critical incidents or anything that I can recall."

Every day, and often several times per day, they release code into production which has helped them capitalize on the great output from their team. The thoughtful combination of top-down OKRs with small teams broken into themes helps their teams be more agile and release code into production daily. All that work has paid off: Emarsys has grown into a market leader in marketing automation with 15 offices worldwide and more than 1,500 clients running 250,000+ personalized campaigns each month.

If you'd like to read more about Emarsys' development and technology, you can find them blogging on Medium on the Emarsys Craftlab.

If you have any feedback about this or any other Compose article, drop the Compose Articles team a line at We're happy to hear from you.

29 Nov 18:14

Worms or Bust

Ars Technica: Worms or bust: The story of Britain’s most tenacious indie games company.

I remember playing Worms 20 years ago in college, and the hours wasted away playing it with roommates. I loved that game, and I guess I still do?

There is version of it out on iOS, I should pop it on my iPad and take it for a spin with my daughter.

29 Nov 16:39

Increasing diversity

by Nathan Yau

Dan Keating and Laris Karklis for The Washington Post map the change in diversity since 2000. The color scale, shown in the top right, represents two things: level of diversity and change in diversity. I’m not so sure the dual scale is interesting as a whole, as my brain just wants to split out each category individually or see each one separately. But keep scrolling and you can get that separation, which is a lot more visually helpful.

See also: percentage of white people, majority minorities, and predominant race.

Tags: diversity, Washington Post

29 Nov 19:46

Pressure Mounts For Tesla To Stop Using The Term “Autopilot”

by Ashlee Kieler
mkalus shared this story from Consumerist.

What does the term “autopilot” mean to you? For many people, it applies to a machine that can steer itself with minimal human intervention, but for electric carmaker Tesla it’s a marketing term to describe a feature that is decidedly not hands-off — and which consumer safety advocates believe can cause potentially dangerous confusion.

Consumer Watchdog recently sent a letter [PDF] to California DMV director Jean Shiomoto, urging the agency to act on specific regulations proposed in September that would, in part, put restrictions on how carmakers can advertise self-driving vehicles.

Under the proposed rules [PDF] — which mainly pertain to the future development of self-driving vehicles — no car could be advertised as autonomous unless it meets the definition set forth by vehicle codes and was manufactured by a company that holds a valid autonomous vehicle permit.

Additionally, carmakers would not be able to use terms, such as “self-driving,” “automated,” “auto-pilot,” or other statements that are likely to persuade a “reasonably prudent person to believe a vehicle is autonomous” when it isn’t.

The DMV must immediately start the process to enact these “regulations protecting consumers from misleading advertising that leaves the dangerous – and sometimes fatal – impression that a car is more capable of driving itself than is actually the case,” argues the letter.

Watchdog contends that Tesla’s Autopilot features are the most prominent in the public eye, and the most confusing.

Autopilot – which steers the car more actively than similar systems that rely on automatic braking, steering assist or adaptive cruise control to aid drivers – has been aggressively marketed by the company.

Additionally, the company recently announced that it would make all new cars self-driving, but wouldn’t actually turn the system on yet.

“Manufacturers must not be allowed to advertise cars as, or describe them as, ‘self-driving’ when a human driver must actually monitor or control the vehicle,” the letter states. “Tesla, with its promotion of its so-called Autopilot feature, is a prime example of the deadly consequences of such unjustified hype.”

According to Consumer Watchdog, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has long hyped the feature, leaving the impression that the vehicle is autonomous. The group cites several Tweets, press conferences, and other announcements from Musk that allude to the feature being fully autonomous, including a video in which he sits in the driver’s seat of a Tesla vehicle demonstration with his hands off the steering wheel.

“That is too long to wait to stop Tesla and its CEO from risking even more lives by falsely promoting Autopilot technology as self-driving,” the group claims.

For its part, Tesla has said it would take steps to ensure that drivers or would-be drivers are aware of Autopilot’s functions. Additionally, in September, the carmaker unveiled Version 8 of its Autopilot software, announcing changes to the way in which drivers must keep their hands on the wheel. Tesla says that drivers who ignore three audible warnings in an hour to put their hands on the wheel will have to pull over and restart the vehicle to use Autopilot.

Still, Consumer Watchdog urged the DMV to take immediate action on the advertising portion of the rules, as enacting the full regulation would likely take a year.

“Currently there is nothing to stop the sort of hype spouted by Elon Musk with its potentially deadly consequences,” the letter states. “DMV should extract the advertising regulatory language from the rest of the draft autonomous vehicle regulations and start a formal rulemaking to enact that section immediately.

Consumer Watchdog’s concerns about Autopilot’s marketing was echoed by our colleagues at Consumers Union.

“The ‘Autopilot’ name is misleading to consumers, and Tesla should stop using it,” William Wallace, policy analyst for Consumers Union, said. “What’s more, this type of marketing can be dangerous, by giving consumers a false sense of security in the ability of a car to drive itself when it actually requires the constant attention of a human driver. We support the work of federal and state authorities to crack down on false, misleading, or unfair marketing claims about automated driving systems.”

A rep for Tesla tells the Los Angeles Times that “owners have communicated that they understand how Autopilot works and should be used, and this is clearly explained and reinforced every time a customer uses the feature.”

The company contends that the “inaccurate and sensationalistic view of Autopilot put forth by [Consumer Watchdog] is exactly the kind of misinformation that threatens to harm consumer safety.”

This, of course, is just the latest issue facing Tesla’s Autopilot feature, which was tied to its first fatal crash in June.

The car maker said in July that it would not disable Autopilot after the fatal crash, but a number of consumer safety advocates — including our colleagues at Consumer Reports — have called Tesla out for the potentially confusing messages surrounding the Autopilot feature.

In August, the owner of a Tesla in Beijing said he crashed his vehicle into the side of a vehicle that was partially parked in the road while using the feature. Tesla says the driver is to blame for taking his hands off the wheel, while the driver says he was misled about the Autopilot feature.

Shortly after the incident, Tesla said it removed that word, along with another term that means “self-driving,” from its website for customers in China.

Since then, regulators in Germany have asked the company to rename the “misleading” Autopilot feature to avoid any confusion that could lead to dangerous collisions.

[via Los Angeles Times]

29 Nov 14:13

A few words about trust

by Doc Searls

cropped-wst-logo-main[3 December update: Here is a video of the panel.]

So I was on a panel at WebScience@10 in London (@WebScienceTrust, #WebSci10), where the first question asked was, “What are two aspects of ‘trust and the Web’ that you think are most relevant/important at the moment?” My answer went something like this::::

1) The Net is young, and the Web with it.

Both were born in their current forms on 30 April 1995, when the NSFnet backed off on its forbidding commercial traffic on its pipes. This opened the whole Net to absolutely everything, exactly when the graphical Web browser became fully useful.

Twenty-one years in the history of a world is nothing. We’re still just getting started here.

2) The Internet, like nature, did not come with privacy. And privacy is personal. We need to start there.

We arrived naked in this new world, and — like Adam and Eve — still don’t have clothing and shelter.

The browser should have been a private tool in the first place, but it wasn’t; and it won’t be, so long as we leave improving it mostly up to companies with more interest in violating our privacy than providing it.

Just 21 years into this new world, we still need our own clothing, shelter, vehicles and private spaces. Browsers included. We will only get privacy if our tools provide it as a simple fact.

We also need to be the first parties, rather than the second ones, in our social and business agreements. In other words, others need to accept our terms, rather than vice versa. As first parties, we are independent. As second parties, we are dependent. Simple as that. Without independence, without agency, without the ability to initiate, without the ability to obtain agreement on our own terms, it’s all just more of the same old industrial model.

In the physical world, our independence earns respect, and that’s what we give to others as a matter of course. Without that respect, we don’t have civilization. This is why the Web we have today is still largely uncivilized.

We can only civilize the Net and the Web by inventing digital clothing and doors for people, and by providing standard agreements private individuals can assert in their dealings with others.

Inventing yet another wannabe unicorn to provide “privacy as a service” won’t do it. Nor will regulating the likes of Facebook and Google, or expecting them to become interested in building protections, when their businesses depend on the absence of those protections.

Fortunately, work has begun on personal privacy tools, and agreements we can each assert. And we can talk about those.



29 Nov 20:08

Leak before break

by russell davies

'Leak before break' is an engineering principle which suggests that things (like the pipes in a nuclear power station) should be designed to leak (in a detectable, fixable way) before they explode (in a catastrophic, horrible way).

That also seems to speak to some of the virtues of openness in organisation design. An organisation's blogs, twitters etc aren't leaks in themselves, but they are vectors for fixable leaks, so potential disasters can be spotted and averted before they explode in non-fixable ways.

Or something. Anyway.

29 Nov 17:12

Adapt or Die: The Power of the Open Platform

by bkirschner
How Allstate's Arity and the Cleveland Clinic are changing business models
Maybe we should start calling Chi-Town “API-ville.”

Apigee events in Chicago have consistently been well-attended, high-energy affairs, and our final 2016 stop on our Adapt or Die world tour was no exception.

It seemed especially fitting that the setting for storied brands like Allstate and the Cleveland Clinic sharing their vision for digital transformation was an industrial building originally constructed in 1855 and since converted into high-tech conference space.

This was my first opportunity to present and discuss the recent findings from our research partnership with economist Marshall Van Alstyne that the intensity of API use is positively and significantly associated with higher operating revenue.

Even better, attendees got to hear “why” straight from the source.

Arity is a start-up founded by Allstate to monetize the 80 billion miles of driver data the company has collected from over a million instrumented vehicles. As Arity president Gary Hallgren explained: “We thought about monetizing the data just for us, but decided to approach it as a platform for entire industries.”  

Using APIs (naturally), third parties can provide data about drivers or potential drivers and receive an algorithmically-based risk score.

This has some obvious applications in the on-demand ride industry (I personally would prefer a driver with a five-star safe driver score over one rated four stars by passengers for friendly banter or handing out Mentos). But perhaps more importantly, as an open platform even Arity’s competitors become potential customers. (For more on platforms and network effects, check out the keynote presentation slides from Apigee's Chet Kapoor.)

Only time will tell if some of those competitors on whom Allstate has stolen a march will wind up being “Amazoned” as a result of this bold platform play. William Morris, associate CIO at the Cleveland Clinic, provided some sharp insight into the kind of thinking that is likely to determine “who Ubers who.”  

“In healthcare we have to change the model from ‘the doctor will see you now’ to ‘the patient will see you now’.” Digital relaxes the constraints within which every traditional value chain evolved, and gives everyone the tools to make a shift of similar magnitude from inside-out to outside-in.  

As we’ve said in cities across the U.S. in 2016 and will repeat in Sydney and London in early 2017, the operative question is: who will seize the opportunity?

29 Nov 21:29

The Impact of Uber on Transit

by pricetags

From Joe Sulmona:

I predicted the harm that these peer to peer commercial ridesharing services will do to public transit…

Why do we need a Broadway subway when it might very well be cheaper just to subsidize the services instead… Oh, we might need to widen the streets for all the extra cars.

BART’s Oakland Airport Connector Losing Money; Uber, Lyft to Blame? 

Nov. 27–OAKLAND — BART’s Oakland Airport Connector — the sleek trams that whisk riders from the Coliseum station — seems to be falling victim to the ride-booking phenomenon that has also bedeviled taxis, shuttles and other airport transit services.

The $6 one-way fare may not be helping fill seats, either.

Rather than making a projected $2 million profit in its first two years, the service has cost the agency $860,000. And ridership dropped 4.5 percent during the three-month period ending Sept. 30 from the same period a year earlier, as ride-booking services tripled their numbers over the same span.

Social justice advocates blasted the service when it was first proposed as a “shovel ready” candidate for federal stimulus funds, calling the automated people mover a “boondoggle” that does little to benefit the mostly low-income East Oakland communities the trams pass over. And several groups challenged BART’s assumptions that it could use the connector’s high fares to cover its operating costs.

Data recently obtained by this newspaper show those concerns have come to fruition, though not for reasons anyone suspected at the time. The introduction of ride-booking services, such as Uber, Lyft and Wingz, at Oakland International Airport last year have consumed nearly all of the new business from the airport’s growing passenger traffic.

The precipitous rise of ride-booking took everyone by surprise, including the staff at Oakland International Airport, said Stephen Gordon, the airport’s business manager.

“Anybody who said they saw this coming is full of baloney,” he said. “Every month, we continue to be astonished by the growth in the use of (ride-booking).”

29 Nov 21:06

App Review Downtime Announced

by John Voorhees

Each year around the Christmas holiday, Apple’s App Review team takes a break from reviewing the thousands of apps that pour into the App Store on a typical day. During the break, new apps and app updates are not accepted. This year is no different. According to Apple’s Developer news site:

The busiest season on the App Store is almost here. Make sure your apps are up-to-date and ready for the winter holidays. New apps and app updates will not be accepted December 23 to 27 (Pacific Time), so any releases should be submitted, approved, and scheduled in advance. Other iTunes Connect and developer account features will remain available.

→ Source:

29 Nov 22:00

Privileged to be a Mozillian

by chuttenc

Mike Conley noticed a bug. There was a regression on a particular Firefox Nightly build he was tracking down. It looked like this:

A time series plot with a noticeable regression at November 6

A pretty big difference… only there was a slight problem: there were no relevant changes between the two builds. Being the kind of developer he is, :mconley looked elsewhere and found a probe that only started being included in builds starting November 16.

The plot showed him data starting from November 15.

He brought it up on Roberto Vitillo was around and tried to reproduce, without success. For :mconley the regression was on November 5 and the data on the other probe started November 15. For :rvitillo the regression was on November 6 and the data started November 16. After ruling out addons, they assumed it was the dashboard’s fault and roped me into the discussion. This is what I had to say:

Hey, guess what's different between rvitillo and mconley? About 5 hours.

You see, :mconley is in the Toronto (as in Canada) Mozilla office, and Roberto is in the London (as in England) Mozilla office. There was a bug in how dates were being calculated that made it so the data displayed differently depending on your timezone. If you were on or East of the Prime Meridian you got the right answer. West? Everything looks like it happens one day early.

I hammered out a quick fix, which means the dashboard is now correct… but in thinking back over this bug in a post-mortem-kind-of-way, I realized how beneficial working in a distributed team is.

Having team members in multiple timezones not only provided us with a quick test location for diagnosing and repairing the issue, it equipped us with the mindset to think of timezones as a problematic element in the first place. Working in a distributed fashion has conferred upon us a unique and advantageous set of tools, experiences, thought processes, and mechanisms that allow us to ship amazing software to hundreds of millions of users. You don’t get that from just any cube farm.



29 Nov 22:02

Awesome new mobile app upgrades

by Allan

Upload to a Photolab kiosk—from anywhere!

In addition to conveniently being able to upload photos to your Photolab account and ordering prints from your mobile phone, the new Photolab mobile app has received a sweet upgrade: now you can also upload your photos to a Photolab kiosk—from anywhere! And by “anywhere” I mean, “without having to be physically present at a London Drugs location and connected to its wireless network.”


In case the awesomeness of this upgrade is eluding you, allow me to present just one of many scenarios where it will make your life easier in an awesome kind of way:


Imagine you and a friend/sibling/spouse are out shopping for holiday gifts, and you stop at a coffeehouse to briefly collect your senses amidst the madness and chaos. Your friend/sibling/spouse takes a sip from their mocha and begins speaking to you without realizing they have a big dollop of whipped cream on their nose. In a flash, you grab your phone and snap a perfect close-up of them before they realize it. You realize that this photo is too perfect NOT to commemorate as a photo gift especially for their mother/other siblings/co-workers.


So what do you do, Hotshot? Here’s what you do:


  1. You open your newly-upgraded Photolab mobile app, with its upgraded menu options—including Upload to Kiosk!


  1. Select & upload the recently taken whipped cream nose photo (not shown).




  1. When the upload is complete, the app displays a code that you can use to access your uploaded photos at ANY Photolab kiosk, at any Photolab location (for a limited time.)


With your prize photo uploaded and waiting, you can make a quick stop to your local Photolab right there in the mall or on your way home and order this comedically priceless gift photo mug or ornament in even less time than before. One little upgrade and your holiday shopping time was substantially reduced. More importantly, you were able to create and order a unique, spur-of-the-moment gift that celebrates and mildly embarrasses your friend in less time than it takes to get through a crowded holiday parking lot.


And that friends is why the Photolab app upgrade is so awesome. So be sure to give it a try before you embark on a long holiday shopping sojourn.


29 Nov 22:37

Passenger Pigeons

by pricetags

Possibly a problem Mobi didn’t anticipate: pigeons (and their consequences) on the seats at the City Centre docking station:



29 Nov 19:41

iOS 10 Hidden Feature: Do Not Disturb Emergency Bypass

When Apple released iOS 10, the latest system software for the iPhone/iPad, it made a big deal out of the major features, like a redesigned Music app and contextual predictions in autocorrect.

But Apple’s engineer elves worked for a year to overhaul iOS 10, and they’ve planted lots of hidden gems. Today, I’m happy to present another of the best iOS 10 features that Apple forgot to mention.

This switch means “Let ringtones and vibrations play when this person calls or texts, even when Do Not Disturb is turned on.” A million parents will now get better sleep at night.

To find it, open Contacts; find the important person’s card; tap Edit; tap Ringtone. There’s the Emergency Bypass setting, right at the top.

More from Pogue:

Pogue’s Basics: Money – Extended warranties

Pogue’s cheap, unexpected tech gifts #2: ThinOptics glasses

A dozen iOS 10 feature gems that Apple forgot to mention

GoPro’s most exciting mount yet: a drone

Professional-looking blurry backgrounds come to the iPhone 7 Plus

Pogue’s Basics: Turn off Samsung’s Smart Guide

Pogue Basics: Touch and hold Google Maps

The Apple Watch 2 is faster, waterproof—and more overloaded than ever

We sent a balloon into space — and an epic scavenger hunt ensued

Now I get it: Snapchat

The new Fitbits are smarter, better-looking, and more well-rounded

Apple has killed every jack but one: Meet USB-C

For more Yahoo Tech:

You could soon be using your smartphone to get cash from the ATM

Instagram offers disappearing photos and live broadcasting

You may soon be able to use a drone to catch fish

Amazon offers special deals through Alexa



29 Nov 19:31

quick-tech-news:Flying hoover-boards are a reality, hello from...


Flying hoover-boards are a reality, hello from the future!

Of course they are.

29 Nov 23:41

Mark Busse has a question for you

by pricetags

Mark Busse – “design professional, creative community activist & food fanatic,” as well as host of Creative Mornings – needs to tap other creative minds to answer this question:

Does Vancouver drive away more creative people than it attracts? Affordability aside, what other factors influence this issue? In particular, what are the forces that draw people here? Where does the potential lie?

And we know that Price Tags contributors have a lot to say on that.  You can say it directly to Mark by going to his Facebook page here.  Lots of interesting comments too.  (Or you could go directly here:  6 Things I Learned After Moving from Montreal to Vancouver.)

29 Nov 23:56

Internet Archive creates Canadian back up plan in wake of Donald Trump election win

by Jessica Vomiero

In the wake of Donald Trump’s election, the security of the web has been called into question.

The Internet Archive, a San-Francisco based digital library non-profit, is creating a Canadian archive to ensure the preservation its several petabytes of data.

The non-profit began collecting donations on November 29th for the Internet Archive of Canada, which is designed to create a copy of the archive outside the U.S.

“On November 9th in America, we woke up to a new administration promising radical change. It was a firm reminder that institutions like ours, built for the long-term, need to design for change,” writes founder Brewster Kahle.

“For us, it means keeping our cultural materials safe, private and perpetually accessible. It means preparing for a web that may face greater restrictions. It means serving patrons in a world in which government surveillance is not going away; indeed it looks like it will increase,” continued Kahle. 

The Internet Archive implements several different preservation efforts spanning several mediums. As of 2012, the entire archive held approximately 12 petabytes of data. The Internet Archive is responsible for running the more widely known Wayback Machine.

RelatedCanadian government re-opens privacy debate on access to telecom subscriber info

31 Oct 20:49

In The Orange Dot: Is my kid addicted to tech or am I just old?

by Alex

Is obsession with social media metrics a heritable trait?

That’s the fear that led to my latest piece for The Orange Dot, on the growing preoccupation with social media metrics.  As I write in that piece,

Thoughtful adults may be able to keep their social media narcissism in check by dialing back their metrics—checking when they see signs that it’s getting out of hand, whether it’s looking at your follower numbers on a daily basis or counting the likes on your latest Facebook post every five minutes. But for young people who are still in the process of developing an individual identity—and who are often subject to tremendous peer pressure—these metrics reinforce the message that external validation is more important than personal integrity, and that peer attention matters more than self-reflection.

Read the full post here.

03 Nov 18:16

Resistance is futile: A success story

by Alex

Sometimes success looks like a little boy sobbing his eyes out.

This success story begins yesterday morning, when Peanut showed up at school in his Halloween costume: a Borg cube. For those of you who aren’t Star Trek fans, let me explain that the Borg are a race of terrifying cyborgs. They travel across the galaxy, assimilating other species and declaring that “resistance is futile”. They are emotionless, determined and relentlessly rational. You know, just the kind of cheery creatures any child would embrace.

When his big sister Sweetie decided to dress as a Borg for Halloween, Peanut declared that he would show up as one of the Borg’s cube-shaped ships. OK, he didn’t show up at school in the costume—he didn’t like the feeling of the cardboard box around his neck. But once he got to school he let me pull the hood of his shirt up over his head (thank you, people who make hooded shirts!), which covered his neck enough to make his costume bearable. He wore it for fifteen full minutes before insisting he had to take it Off. Right. Now. Success!

Taking off the costume wasn’t enough to keep Peanut in class for the morning, however. His support worker was home sick for the day, so Peanut declared that he couldn’t even. No support worker meant his whole schedule was thrown off! As soon as his ten minutes of homeroom were up, he retreated to the special ed teacher’s office, where he asked to play on my iPhone. I wouldn’t give him the phone, but I dug into the stash of books I keep in the special ed office, and found the next book in a series he’s recently discovered. He was thrilled, and settled into a chair to read…which meant that I could actually rush to meet a deadline I had all but given up on when our support worker called in sick. I had my work all wrapped up by the time Peanut finished his book. Another success!

At lunch time he put his costume back on so that he could go back into class and lobby his classmates to vote for him in the costume contest. Over the course of the next hour, he took his costume off—and then put it back on—half a dozen times. Each time I fastened him back up, he trotted off to ask someone else for a vote. None of the other kids seemed to be actively campaigning for a costume prize, but his vote requests were perfectly polite and friendly, and apparently well received. Hurray!

After the voting wrapped up Peanut joined in the school Halloween party. I encouraged him to join his class when it was their turn to hear ghost stories, but he didn’t want to go once he found out they would only be listeners, and not storytellers. He also passed on the Halloween arts and crafts. But he spent over an hour in the board game room, playing happily with a couple of classmates, and without any issues over who won or who lost. Yay!

As we approached the time of the costume ceremony, he started watching the clock. “I really want to win the prize for Best Homemade,” he told me. “Or else, Most Creative.”

“What are you going to do if you don’t win?” I asked.

“I’ll shake the hand of the person who wins, and congratulate them, and then I’ll go home and cry.”

It sounded like an impressive plan, but I wasn’t sure he could stick with it. I did a few practice run-throughs, including scenarios in which the winner had a costume that was not nearly as good as his. He seemed ready.

Finally, the Halloween assembly began. Peanut settled into the middle of the crowd, wearing his uncomfortable costume and a big, hopeful smile. His sister (wearing her own Borg costume) sat down next to him and took his hand.

The assembly would present four awards: Best Homemade was the first. When the prize went to another kid, Peanut looked concerned, but kept a tentative smile on his face. Funniest was next—well, that wasn’t a category he’d hoped for. Then the prize for Spookiest: also a long shot. Finally, they announced the winner for Most Creative…and once again, another child took the prize.

As the last winner accepted his prize, I watched Peanut climb out of his own costume. He stood up, a despondent look on his face, and walked quietly out of the assembly.

By the time I caught up with him he had shut himself back into the special ed office; I could hear him crying on the other side of the door. I knocked gently.

“Go away!” he yelled.

“I’m so sorry, buddy,” I called to him. After a few moments, I opened the door.

At the sight of my face, Peanut sobbed even louder. “Why didn’t I win?” he asked, rhetorically. “Why? Why? Why?

I tried to comfort him with a hug, but he pushed me away. I told him I really understood how disappointed he was. And I told him how impressed I was that he had come downstairs to have a cry.

“Lots of people would want to cry in this situation,” I said.

He asked if he could use my iPhone for a bit while he calmed down.

“It’s a special situation,” I said, after quickly thinking it over. “I’m really impressed with how you’ve handled yourself. So yes, I understand if you need a little iPhone time now.”

The phone break saw him through the twenty minutes to the end of the school day, when we returned home for a couple of hours of down time before trick-or-treating. He mentioned his disappointment over the costume contest a few more times, and it was the first thing he told his dad about at the end of the day, but there wasn’t any more sobbing.

As the evening grew dark we reminded him that it would soon be time to go out trick-or-treating. While his sister tweaked her costume and I dug out some warm layers for us all to wear, Peanut watched TV and showed little interest in getting his costume back on. Then all of a sudden, there he was: ready to go out. His dad grabbed a jacket and followed him out the door; Sweetie and I had to play catch up.

That set the tone for the next hour. Peanut was in the lead, zigzagging back and forth across the street in a way that made sense to no one but him. He was very particular about which houses he wanted to visit, and the rest of us acceded to his determination.

Peanut walked up to each door with his sister, but he approached each door like a Borg. I don’t just mean the greeting that the two kids coordinated: “We are Borg. Resistance is futile. Your candy will be assimilated.” I mean the way he went after the candy: picking through each bowl that was offered, asking for additional candy, rejecting candies that didn’t meet his exacting standards. After his first candy negotiation, we talked to him about the importance of being polite and taking what you are offered, but despite returning to this theme throughout the evening, he continued with his relentless approach to candy assimilation.

And then, abruptly, he was done.

“I just want to go home now and eat my candy,” he declared, “And have a cry about losing the costume contest.”

This is a kid who lives for candy—and he was letting the contest overshadow the biggest candy grab of the year? Time to fix that mood.

“Haven’t you seen how many people love your costumes?” I asked. “Look at how much candy you’re getting. And hey, the photo I took of your costume got more than a hundred likes on Facebook—that’s more likes than there are kids in your school! Are you going to let that contest ruin your fun?”

Then I stopped, and remembered last Halloween.

Last year, this same kid had trouble going to school on the Friday that his school celebrated Halloween. But he didn’t just take breaks to get through the day: he spent all of an hour at school, and then headed home—just like he did most of that year. He wasn’t even at school when the costume prizes were announced…but was just as devastated when his sister came home and told him he hadn’t won. So devastated, in fact, that he had a raging meltdown, and threatened to kill himself. We put him on a 24-hour watch—our standard protocol whenever he threatens to hurt himself—and spent Halloween shadowing him to ensure he wouldn’t give in to his temporary despair.

So yes, he once again had a hard time making it through school on Halloween…but he was at school for the full school day. Yes, he opted out of big portions of the school’s festivities…but he found the parts he could enjoy, and dove right in. Yes, he was still heartbroken about losing the costume contest…but he didn’t go ballistic: he took his heartbreak to a private space, and had a cry.

This is what success looks like for my autistic 10-year-old. It doesn’t look like being a “normal” kid: the kind of kid who might feel a bit disappointed about losing a contest, but lets that disappointment wash away with the joys of trick-or-treating.

Instead, it looks like hard work: the hard work of mastering intense emotional responses just enough to keep them private. It looks like flexibility: the flexibility to participate in a school activity that deviates from the usual schedule, even on a day when his support worker isn’t there. And it looks like bravery: the bravery that allows him to actually experience the disappointment I was asking him not to feel.

That was the success I had before me last night, in the person of a little guy who wanted to bail after 45 minutes of trick-or-treating. All I had to do was embrace what success looked like for him. After all, resistance is futile.

29 Nov 10:10

Visual collection of bird sounds

by Nathan Yau

Different species of birds make different sounds. However, the sounds are so quick and compressed that it can be tough to pick out what is what. So Kyle McDonald, Manny Tan, and Yotam Mann created a “fingerprint” for each bird song and used machine learning to classify. Through the visual browser, you can play sounds and search for bird types. Similar sounds are closer to each other.

Tags: birds, Google, machine learning, nature

29 Nov 12:16

Panic Discontinuing Status Board

by John Voorhees

Panic announced that it is discontinuing its Status Board app and remove it from the App Store within the next couple of weeks. Status Board was inspired by the custom webpage pictured above that Panic developed and displayed on a large display in its offices to track company statistics. Panic brought its status board to iOS in 2013 with pre-made modules and the ability to create custom widgets and display the whole thing on an iPad or TV.

Panic decided to discontinue Status Board for a few reasons:

First, we had hoped to find a sweet spot between consumer and pro users, but the market for Status Board turned out to be almost entirely pro, which limits potential sales on iOS — as we’ve learned the hard way over the past couple of years, there’s not a lot of overlap right now between “pro” and “iOS”. Second, pro users are more likely to want a larger number of integrations with new services and data sources, something that’s hard to provide with limited revenue, which left the app “close but not quite” for many users. Finally, in the pro/corporate universe, we were simply on the wrong end of the overall “want a status board” budget: companies would buy a $3,000 display for our $10 app.

I’m sad to see Status Board go. One of the first programming projects I ever created was a custom Status Board widget. I’ve used the app on and off over the years and just last weekend I was thinking I should revisit it and make myself a board for my current projects. I may still do that because despite the fact that Status Board will no longer be supported, it will remain available to anyone who previously purchased it and will continue to work until something in iOS changes that breaks it.

→ Source:

29 Nov 14:30

Bell confirms Amazon Prime Video officially going live December 1st in Canada

by Ian Hardy

Many Canadians have already been enjoying select programming on Amazon Prime Video for approximately two weeks, but they won’t have to wait much longer to use the streaming platform in an official capacity.

Today, during the CRTC’s hearing on renewal of TV licenses, Bell confirmed that Amazon’s on-demand streaming service will officially go live on December 1st.

During the opening presentation, Mary Ann Turcke, President of Bell Media, stated, “Now, a new global OTT (over-the-top) competitor — Amazon Prime — is entering the Canadian market in two days. So it’s not just out fellow Canadian broadcasters who will try to outbid us for first-run, original programming but it’s Netflix and Amazon, two entities that are not subject to the same regulatory requirements as us and that have astronomically more buying power than we do.”

Bell operates CraveTV. The company recently announced it surpassed 1 million subscribers. Meanwhile, Shomi, the joint venture between Rogers and Shaw, is set to shutter on November 30th.

According to latest stats from June, an estimated 5.2 million Canadians subscribe to Netflix, an increase of 1 million in the past year. The Los Gatos, California-based company generates some $600 million in revenues thanks to Canadian subscribers.

Unfortunately, there was no indication if the full Amazon Prime Video content will be available to Canadians or if it will be limited to select titles.

Related: How to watch Amazon Prime Video in Canada

Source CRTC
29 Nov 11:39

Virtual Forest

by Alex Bate

The RICOH THETA S is a fairly affordable consumer 360° camera, which allows users to capture interesting locations and events for viewing through VR headsets and mobile-equipped Google Cardboard. When set up alongside a Raspberry Pi acting as a controller, plus a protective bubble, various cables, and good ol’ Mother Nature, the camera becomes a gateway to a serene escape from city life.

Virtual Forest

Ecologist Koen Hufkens, from the Richardson Lab in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, decided to do exactly that, creating the Virtual Forest with the aim of “showing people how the forest changes throughout the seasons…and the beauty of the forest”.

The camera takes a still photograph every 15 minutes, uploading it for our viewing pleasure. The setup currently only supports daylight viewing, as the camera is not equipped for night vision, so check your watch first.

one autumn day

360 view of a day in a North-Eastern Hardwood forest during autumn

The build cost somewhere in the region of $500 to create; Hufkens provides a complete ingredients list here, with supporting code on GitHub. He also aims to improve the setup by using the new Nikon KeyMission, which can record video at 4K ultra-HD resolution.

The Virtual Forest has been placed deep within the heart of Harvard Forest, a university-owned plot of land used both by researchers and by the general public. If you live nearby, you could go look at it and possibly even appear in a photo. Please resist the urge to photobomb, though, because that would totally defeat the peopleless zen tranquility that we’re feeling here in Pi Towers.

The post Virtual Forest appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

29 Nov 12:18

Not Reagan’s GOP? Trump’s? Two-headed Monster?


In case all the puzzle pieces haven’t fallen into place, Stephen Moore, Trump’s economic advisor and the founder of the Club for Growth, makes it clear for Republican law makers at a recent meeting in DC, saying that the GOP is no longer the party of Ronald Reagan conservatism. It’s now Trump’s GOP, which is a populist working-class party, he says.

Jonathan Swan, Trump adviser tells House Republicans: You’re no longer Reagan’s party

Asked about his comments to the GOP lawmakers, Moore told The Hill he was giving them a dose of reality.

“Just as Reagan converted the GOP into a conservative party, Trump has converted the GOP into a populist working-class party,” Moore said in an interview Wednesday. “In some ways this will be good for conservatives and in other ways possibly frustrating.”

Moore has spent much of his career advocating for huge tax and spending cuts and free trade. He’s been as close to a purist ideological conservative as they come, but he says the experience of traveling around Rust Belt states to support Trump has altered his politics.

“It turned me more into a populist,” he said, expressing frustration with the way some in the Beltway media dismissed the economic concerns of voters in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

“Having spent the last three or four months on the campaign trail, it opens your eyes to the everyday anxieties and financial stress people are facing,” Moore added. “I’m pro-immigration and pro-trade, but we better make sure as we pursue these policies we’re not creating economic undertow in these areas.”

After such a transformative experience — and after witnessing Trump’s stunning victory — Moore now believes Republican House members should be less ideologically pure and instead help Trump give the voters what he promised them.

“He wants to spend all this money on infrastructure,” Moore said, referring to Trump’s potentially trillion-dollar infrastructure package.  

It’s a massive spending bill that naturally appeals far more to Democrats than Republicans. Moore, who has worked for the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation, is not a fan of the stimulus package, but he is prepared to support it.

“I don’t want to spend all that money on infrastructure,” Moore said. “I think it’s mostly a waste of money. But if the voters want it, they should get it.”

Moore went on to state that the traditional GOP was all for free trade, but populist dogma is to counter pacts like TPP.

That sounds very neat and tidy, but the reality on the ground is more messy, as Trump is bringing more of the old guard into his administration, we’re more likely to have a two-headed monster, with competing agendas, and a great deal of friction and confusion.

29 Nov 13:04

UK court finds Uber drivers are not self-employed, with major implications for on-demand economics

A UK employment tribunal has punctured the core premise of Uber’s working model, that Uber drivers are self-employed independent contractors and not employees.

The court directly castigated the company, stating Uber had twisted the reality of the situation to its own ends for the express goal of benefitting from misclassifying workers as self-employed:

resorting in its documentation to fictions, twisted language and even brand new terminology.


The notion that Uber in London is a mosaic of 30,000 small businesses linked by a common ‘platform’ is to our minds faintly ridiculous. Drivers do not and cannot negotiate with passengers … They are offered and accept trips strictly on Uber’s terms.

The UK is becoming the nexus of growing alarm about pay and business practices in the ‘on-demand’ economy, with Theresa May’s government kicking off a review of these work practices and the Revenue and Customs agency is setting up a specialist unit to investigate companies that seek to categorize workers as ‘self-employed’, in order to deny them ‘employment rights and benefits they are entitled to’. That R&C unit was the outgrowth of a Guardian investigation into low pay at Hermes, the delivery company.

The implications of the recent Uber finding are stark, since it undermines Uber’s on-demand economic model, which rests on the classification of drivers as self-employed and therefore not receiving benefits, like paid holidays, and minimum wage. If Uber is in fact an employer and not a platform, the magic of its formula falls apart, and the valuation it has as a disruptor of the transportation market is at risk.

If similar results take place in the US, and Uber becomes the employer of its US drivers, the company might not only take on minimum wage requirements, but also social security, car insurance, maintenance, gas, and other expenses incurred by drivers. Basically, the bottom of the on-demand economy could fall out.

Uber plans to appeal the case, and it could wind up at the UK supreme court. 40,000 Uber drivers in the UK – and 420,000 other workers in the on-demand economy – could be misclassified as self-employed. Is ‘on-demand’ really just a Ponzi scheme, on the verge of collapse?

26 Nov 13:08

Benedict Evans, Cameras, ecommerce and machine learning

Benedict Evans, Cameras, ecommerce and machine learning:

Mobile means that, for the first time, pretty much everyone on earth will have a camera, taking vastly more images than were ever taken on film (‘How many pictures?’). This feels like a profound change on a par with, say, the transistor radio making music ubiquitous.


We should expect that every image ever taken can be searched or analyzed, and some kind of insight extracted, at massive scale. Every glossy magazine archive is now a structured data set, and so is every video feed. With that incentive (and that smarthome supply chain) far more images and video will be captured. 


Now, suppose you buy the last ten years’ issues of Elle Decoration on eBay and drop them into just the right neural networks, and then give that system a photo of your living room and ask which lamps it recommends? All those captioned photos, and the copy around them, are training data. And yet, if you don’t show the user an actual photo from that archive, just a recommendation based on it, you probably don’t need to pay the original print publisher itself anything at all. (Machine learning will be fruitful grounds for IP lawyers.) We don’t have this yet, but we know, pretty much, how we might do it. We have a roadmap to recognize some kind of preferences, automatically, at scale. 

I find this piece insightful, but it’s odd that Evans talks about the video coming from cars but not the stream of images and meaning in Pinterest. There’s already a giant network of humans adding and filtering images coming from sources like Elle Decoration. A great deal can be inferred from what people do with those images, and perhaps that activity is more helpful than AIs simply analyzing billions of photos. 

28 Nov 23:56

Twitter Favorites: [MaggieShipstead] What if Twitter kicked DJT off?

Maggie Shipstead @MaggieShipstead
What if Twitter kicked DJT off?
29 Nov 04:00

Twitter Favorites: [stateofthecity] A reminder that just b/c I'm not tweeting about something, doesn't mean I'm not pounding my fists on the nearest desk in fury about it.

Brian F. Kelcey @stateofthecity
A reminder that just b/c I'm not tweeting about something, doesn't mean I'm not pounding my fists on the nearest desk in fury about it.
29 Nov 05:48

Pyshark to Analyze Wireshark Decodes With Python

by Martin

Wireshark is a great tool and sometimes I wonder if I use it more often than a word processor. It’s great to analyze things manually in real time or from saved packet captures after the fact. On top of that wouldn’t it be great if you could analyze network packets in your own code and act when a defined set of conditions are met? For a long time I thought that this would be a lot of hassle to pull off but it’s actually a lot easier than I thought.

Recently, a colleague of mine introduced my to pyshark, a wrapper for Wireshark’s command line companion tshark. Pyshark makes it almost trivial to analyze network traffic in Python as everything Wireshark decodes in each packet is made available as a variable!

Here’s a simple example taken from pyshark’s Github page that shows how the Python command line interpreter (I used python3 and not the older python 2.x) can be used to access packets in a pcap file:

>>> import pyshark
>>> cap = pyshark.FileCapture('/tmp/mycapture.cap')
>>> cap
<FileCapture /tmp/mycapture.cap (589 packets)>
>>> print cap[0]
Packet (Length: 698)
Layer ETH:
 Destination: BLANKED
 Source: BLANKED
 Type: IP (0x0800)
Layer IP:
 Version: 4
 Header Length: 20 bytes
 Differentiated Services Field: 0x00 (DSCP 0x00: Default; ECN: 0x00: Not-ECT (Not ECN-Capable Transport))
 Total Length: 684

Three commands and you are there. Incredible! It’s also possible to analyze network traffic in real time in exactly the same way by sniffing on a live network interface on the machine instead of specifying a capture file.

Since I don’t use Python every day, it took me a while to find out how to get the object and variable names that are generated for each packet to access their contents as the print command above only prints the content but not the variable names. Eventually I found out that a combination of ‘pprint’ and ‘vars’ does the trick. Here’s how the commands look like to get all objects/variables for the udp part of the 3rd packet of a capture that is accessed with the commands above:

>>> from pprint import pprint
>>> pprint(vars(cap[3].udp))
{'_all_fields': {'udp.checksum': '0x0000e99e',
                 'udp.checksum_bad': '0',
                 'udp.checksum_good': '0',
                 'udp.dstport': '6000',
                 'udp.length': '7611',
                 'udp.port': '5064',
                 'udp.srcport': '5064',
                 '': '0'},
 '_layer_name': 'udp',
 'raw_mode': False}

In your own code, the UDP destination port of that packet can then be accessed via cap[3].udp.dstport. Getting the variable used to describe the content of other layers works in the same way.

It’s going to be fun to explore this further!