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Posted by Stephen Hackett

Jason Del Ray

Apple’s on-again, off-again flirtation with building its own money-transfer service appears to be back on.

The company has recently held discussions with payments industry partners about introducing its own Venmo competitor, according to multiple sources familiar with the talks. The service would allow iPhone owners to send money digitally to other iPhone owners, these people said.

I’d love to see this. I currently use Square Cash for stuff like this, but something better-integrated into iOS would be a big win.

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Posted by Ask a Manager

Remember the letter from the person dealing with a bird-phobic employee who pushed another employee in his effort to get away from a bird in the parking lot? The second employee was seriously injured and was refusing to come back unless the first employee was fired. Here’s the update.

There was a police investigation because Liz was injured by a vehicle. Both the police and the driver’s insurance company found Jack to be 100% at fault for what happened, based on multiple witness accounts that Jack had extended his arms back and then out when he pushed Liz and didn’t just lightly bump into her. Liz agreed it was Jack’s fault and not the driver. One of the mirrors on the vehicle was damaged when Liz was hit and Jack paid to have it repaired as a resolution with the driver, and everything between the driver and Jack has been settled. Jack has not been charged with anything. (It is still a possibility that he might be.)

HR and Jack had attempted to keep in contact with Liz after she got out of the hospital to see if there was any chance of her coming back but she never responded. Eventually both Jack and the company received a letter from a lawyer asking that they not contact Liz again. She never asked for money to pay her medical bills, didn’t file a workers comp. claim, and didn’t take any legal action against Jack.

The legal department and the outside legal counsel who HR got a second opinion from had told Jack and the company to prepare for a claim and other legal action and advised all to settle because Liz had a strong case. Her letter stated she had decided to not take action and just wanted to move on for her own well-being. She now has another job. Our company was not contacted for a reference or employment history. I don’t know if Liz told them what happened during the interview but our industry in this area is small and I know for sure she has now told her new job everything that happened.

After what happened, Jack told me he decided to take a break from therapy and look at his options. I was surprised and he volunteered that information without me asking. But since I am in a management position over him, I didn’t think it was appropriate for me to comment or tell him that.

His work is still excellent and he has had no disciplinary or work-related issues.

Note: Due to how out of hand the comments on the original letter got, all comments on this post will go through moderation, which means they may not post immediately.

update on the bird phobia letter and the employee who won’t come back unless her coworker is fired was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

sartorias: (JRRT)
[personal profile] sartorias
Kicking off The Two Towers is mostly action, with great character moments, and of course plenty of blasts back to the past. These two chapters concern meetings between people who know their legends, without being aware that they are embarking on becoming legends themselves.

This is one of the aspects of the coolness factor, the seduction of competence and striving for a sense of right that has always sparked for me.

Not that there won't be questions. But that's coming.

For now:

When Aragorn finds the dying Boromir, the latter confesses, and Aragorn tries to give him peace. When Gimli and Legolas catch up, they find him grieving over Boromir, and over his own failure to keep the company together and safe on their perilous road.

He’s not just grieving but weeping, and I do want to talk about tears, but later. There’s a passage I’ve always remembered where I think it’s important. Meanwhile, the three search the Orcs, but don’t think about decent burial for them as they do Boromir, who gets sent over the falls, Aragorn making a poem and commenting that in Minas Tirith they endure the East wind, but don’t look to it for news.

After finding clues of the hobbits—and of two separate orc forces—they take off in pursuit. Aragorn regrets bitterly turning away from the south, but duty calls, and they start running northwards.

In chapter two, they encounter the remains of dead orcs, also unburied. More about that later: as a kid reader I was not bothered, but later on, I was.

They reach the plains of Rohan, where Aragorn finds Pippin’s brooch lying a little ways off the trail—evidence, I think, that Pippin has quick wits, though he’s still a kid.

They camp, then Legolas gives the ground a listen, after Aragorn comments that the earth must groan under the orcs’ hated feet. They push on, then comes an interesting passage. Aragorn says he’s tired:

"There is something strange at work in this land. I distrust the silence. I distrust even the pale moon. The stars are faint; and I am weary as I have seldom been before, weary as Ranger should not be with a clear trail to follow. A weariness that is in the heart more than in the limb."

"Truly!" said Legolas. “ That I have known since first we came down from the Emyn Muil. For the will is not behind us but before us."

Saruman’s magic seems to reach out beyond anyone being able to hear his voice. Right? I want to discuss Saruman's magic, but later.

On they go, until they meet the Riders of Rohan, who nearly go past them until Aragorn asks them for news.

It doesn’t start out well: when Aragorn says that they had recently come through Lothlorien, Eomer infuriates Gimli by commenting about Galadriel, “Few escape her nets, they say.”

It’s Aragorn the peace maker who comes between Eomer and the other two, who are ready to do battle on the spot. He explains their quest, but then he reveals who he is, and demands that Eomer choose swiftly.

Then comes one of those cool moments that thrilled me chitlins as a kid reader, when Eomer says, “These are indeed strange days. Dreams and legends spring out of the grass.”

I’ve always loved larger than life characters, especially when they live up to the promise.

Anyway, they find out that the orc band that took the hobbits is toast, but no sign of the two prisoners. The Rohan knights are skeptical about hobbits, and when Eomer comments, “Do we walk in legends or on the green earth in the daylight?” Aragorn comes back with, “A man may do both.”

Zing, more coolness factor. They exchange news—all pretty bad—and Eomer insists that Rohan does not pay tribute to Mordor, nor would they sell black horses to Mordor, for they are put to evil use.

This demand for specifically black horses passed me by when I was young, but it caught my attention this round. But I think that will belong to the discussion of black and white, light and darkness.

They discuss Gandalf, and then what to do. Eomer for the third time comments on the strangeness of these days, but when he wonders how he is to judge what to do, Aragorn says:

"As he ever has judged," said Aragorn. "Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among elves and dwarves and another among men. It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house."

They decide to go on, though Gimli feels about horses the way Sam feels about boats. They reach Fangorn, where the trees act oddly, Aragorn saying that Fangorn holds some secret of his own. What it is he doesn’t know.

To which Gimli replies with heartfelt truth, “And I do not wish to know! Let nothing that dwells in Fangorn be troubled on my account!”

Gimli gets the first watch—and their camp is disturbed by an old man. Who vanishes, along with their horses. Aragorn comments that he had a hat, not a hood . . . and they wait out the night.

So, all kinds of setup for later payoff.

Gathering Memories: New-To-Me Games

Apr. 27th, 2017 04:00 pm
[syndicated profile] opinionatedgamers_feed

Posted by huzonfirst

In my last column, I talked about the newly published games I played at the recently completed Gathering of Friends. This time, I’ll comment on the new-to-me games released in the past couple of years. Not all of these games … Continue reading

Road dieting

Apr. 27th, 2017 03:04 pm
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Posted by Jason Kottke

The concept of road diets is an alternate approach to dealing with road congestion that’s gained popularity in recent years. The typical solution to heavy traffic on roads is to widen them with more travel lanes. The problem is such an approach can induce demand and instead of two lanes of traffic jam, you get four lanes going nowhere.1

Instead, with a road diet approach, you might turn a four-lane road into three lanes: two travel lanes and a turn lane in the middle.

Realizing these unintended outcomes, some localities implemented a type of road diet: reconfiguring the four lanes (two in each direction) into three (one each way plus a shared turn lane in the middle). The change dramatically reduced the number of “conflict points” on the road-places where a crash might occur. Whereas there might be six mid-block conflict points in a common four-lane arterial, between cars turning and merging, there were only two after the road diet.

Likewise, at an intersection, eight potential conflict points became four after a road diet.

The result was a much safer road. In small urban areas (say, populations around 17,000, with traffic volumes up to 12,000 cars a day), post-road diet crashes dropped about 47 percent. In larger metros (with populations around 269,000 and up to 24,000 daily cars), the crash reduction was roughly 19 percent. The combined estimate from all the best studies predicted that accidents would decline 29 percent, on average, after a four-to-three-lane road diet — DOT’s reported figure.

Pedestrian and bike usage tends to increase as well (b/c that extra street can be converted to bike lanes or sidewalks), speeding decreases, and car travel times are largely unaffected. This quick video by Jeff Speck shows four different approaches to road dieting:

  1. The concept of induced demand can be seen in other places, like New Orleans’ overcrowded jails.

Tags: architecture   cities   Jeff Speck   traffic   video


Apr. 27th, 2017 11:56 am
malkingrey: ((default))
[personal profile] malkingrey
Went to bank to get cashier's check to pay town taxes.

Discover that the hold on the check I deposited to cover taxes doesn't expire untul midnight tonight.

Go to town office, explain problem.

Succeed in getting a day's grace.

Go home, make coffee. Drink same.

This whole enterprise has been full of stumbling-blocks at every step. Will be very glad when it's done and I can resume merely normal worrying and fretting, as opposed to potentially apocalyptic worry and fret.

And dammit, my sprained wrist hurts,
[syndicated profile] pricetags_feed

Posted by Sandy James Planner


The New York Times is reporting that Millennials-those born between the early 1980’s and late 1990’s or early 2000’s-may have reached the “peak” of inflow into cities, and that outflow of mid-30’s couples to the suburbs has commenced. This may be the biggest outflow to the suburbs since the Great Recession of 2007.

“Dowell Myers, a professor of demography and urban planning at the University of Southern California, recently published a paper that noted American cities reached “peak millennial” in 2015. Over the next few years, he predicts, the growth in demand for urban living is likely to stall…Are large numbers of millennials really so enamored with city living that they will age and raise families inside the urban core, or will many of them, like earlier generations, eventually head to the suburbs in search of bigger homes and better school districts?”

With the two factors of people getting older and having  less tolerance for low paying jobs and small urban apartments there may be a trend back to the suburbs. Downtowns do have walkability and a high concentration of people under 25 years of age.

[syndicated profile] pricetags_feed

Posted by Sandy James Planner


Alberta Oil Magazine reports that Vancouver is now North America’s largest coal  exporting port. Imagine-even though 66,000 people in China died in 2013 due to pollution from coal according to Tsinghua University (Beijing) we think it’s a good idea to flog it offshore. Burning coal to create electricity creates twice the greenhouse gas per unit of energy  as natural gas, and about 30 per cent more than oil. Coal is also the “largest source of human-produced greenhouse gasses” at almost 50 per cent.

Today, B.C. ports are shipping increasing amounts of coal to Asia, including American coal, for steel production and power generation. Last year, U.S. coal producer Lighthouse Resources started sending coal across the Pacific via Vancouver as environmentalists blocked a new export terminal in Oregon.” 

People living in Ladner and Tsawwassen can get a speckled dotting of coal dust on outside items over the winter from the coal that is delivered by train to Deltaport. There has been testing done by Metro Vancouver  to ensure that residential areas get 1.7 milligrams or less of coal dust daily. The coal trains have two dust-suppression sprays on the way to the Roberts Bank Terminal. It is expected that even more coal will be shipped with the planned expansion of the Fraser Surrey Docks upriver from Deltaport.


Meanwhile in Great Britain the British are celebrating their first coal free day since 1880.  The BBC reports this as a “watershed moment in how our energy system is changing”  and an example of how “the once mighty fuel is being consigned to history”.

“Part of the reason is that solar panels and wind turbines now provide much more electricity to factories and homes…And as older, uneconomic coal-fired plants have closed in recent years, the fossil fuel has been playing a much smaller role in our energy system.”

The first centralized public coal-fired generator was at Holborn Viaduct in London, opened in 1882.  “According to Gridwatch.co.uk, around half of British energy on the first coal free day came from natural gas, with about a quarter coming from nuclear plants. Wind, biomass, and imported energy were also used.”

While Great Britain tries to move away from coal use, North America facilitates the transport of  it to China, which burns 3.7 billion tons of coal annually, or approximately three times that consumed by the United States. As e360 Yale magazine states, Coal is the  industry’s “cigarette of the new age” looking for new markets to exploit.

Two miners digging coal in 1924Image copyrightPA
Image captionThese British miners are seen drilling for coal in 1924


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Posted by pricetags

From the Vancouver Sun:

B.C.’s two main political parties have promised billions for transit projects, bridges and roads and have committed to cutting tolls, but they have no overall regional vision for transportation, says an expert in urban sustainability.

“It does strike me as odd, given the public interest, that their transportation strategies, at best, are unformulated,” said Gordon Price, a fellow at Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue and director of the school’s City Program.

“There really is no overall vision that fits into either the ideology of the party or the importance of transportation in the public mind.” …

The Liberals have promised to match that $2.2 billion, but that was months after the NDP said it would pay for 40 per cent of capital costs associated with the whole mayors’ plan. The cost of  the whole mayors’ plan has not been determined. The Liberals had previously committed to 33 per cent of capital projects, and the former minister responsible for TransLink said he had to wait for the federal money before the province could decide whether to kick in more.

The Green party pledged to match all federal funding, which includes the $2.2 billion, plus any other money the feds commit going forward.

“It’s almost begrudging,” Price said of the Liberal promise.

The Liberals have also said they will negotiate with the feds and TransLink on project specifics, which is something they have been saying for months. The Surrey light-rail and Broadway subway lines are specific priorities for the Liberals. …

Neither the Liberals or the NDP have been specific about regional funding sources for transportation, but Green party leader Andrew Weaver said he would use carbon tax revenues and mobility pricing to pay for transit improvements and reduce congestion. Mobility pricing refers to charges associated with using transportation services and includes road usage charges, transit fares and parking fees.

Price said it is helpful to have one party discussing revenue generating options, particularly mobility pricing. He said the details of implementation, however, would be critical and contentious.

He said the most significant policy shift is using carbon tax revenues for funding.

On the transportation infrastructure front, the Liberals want to cap bridge tolls at $500 per year, and build a bridge to replace the George Massey Tunnel between Delta and Richmond. The NDP’s plan doesn’t include a Massey Bridge (instead, Horgan has talked about widening the tunnel), but the party does call for eliminating bridge tolls.

Both tolling plans, Price said, are at odds with the parties’ commitments to transit, particularly because tolling is supposed to pay for half of the new Pattullo Bridge and removing tolls will not encourage people to abandon their cars. He said the move could put the region behind for unnecessary reasons.

“You can tell this is blatant vote buying. And having been a politician, I have no problem with that. I get you have to do that,” Price said. “It’s vote buying because you have these ridings on either side of the bridge and you make a single issue, a single appeal without context, without understanding what the implications of this are.” …


A few additional remarks:

No party makes the connection between transportation and the kind of region we want to shape.  ‘Transportation’ is basically about big projects, whether transit or bridges, and how to pay for them – not about their impacts on land use, housing affordability, regional vision, equity and fairness, not even the opportunities for new technologies and jobs.

There is essentially nothing, even with respect to funding, on either the personal and regional impacts of mobility pricing.  How we pay affects how we move – but, save for the Greens, the parties have little to say about that.  And the Greens would fundamentally change one of the pillars of carbon pricing as introduced by Gordon Campbell: revenue neutrality.  Big implications there.

Worst of all, the Liberals retain the referendum requirement, and the other parties have failed to attack them on that, as well as their record of impediment for transit in Metro.  If the Liberals are re-elected and the referendum requirement stays in place, there’s almost no chance for effective mobility pricing – which means almost no movement on funding the next stages of the Mayors’ 10-year plan without a lot of political angst and delay.

Metro Vancouver is, as often said, the economic engine of the province; it’s where the jobs are.  And the best jobs in tech, research, education, health care, business services, culture and tourism are dependent on a high-choice, technologically sophisticated transportation network.  I mean literally along the Broadway corridor and along Surrey’s Innovation Boulevard.

Why aren’t all the leaders putting on their hard hats and digging their shovels into the ground to capture not just the project-based aspects of transportation but the vision for this region’s future – and all the connections to jobs and housing.  It’s not about ‘solving congestion.’  It’s about an opportunity to capture the public’s confidence – and their votes.

[syndicated profile] pricetags_feed

Posted by Sandy James Planner


The Province published an opinion piece by Eric Doherty, Bob Chitrenky, Harold Steeves and Peter McCartney that provides one more flip on the strange decision to decommission the Massey Tunnel and instead overbuild a ten lane bridge at a (so far) projected price of  3.5 billion dollars. Now this bridge is in the wrong location for stimulating future growth as per Metro Vancouver’s regional plan, and every Mayor in the region has spoken out against it, except the Mayor of Delta eager to get more growth in her community. The placement of this bridge threatens the Fraser River estuary, takes up more of the most fertile farm soils in Canada, and threatens to industrialize this sensitive area of arable soils, salmon waters  and migratory flyways.

But, as quoted in the Province “the biggest reason is that investing billions in an unnecessary bridge deepens our dependency on car travel at a time when many would rather take public transit — if only it were available where we live and work… We lose quality of life and affordability in a region that is already grotesquely unaffordable. We lose more of our depleted farmland base and we lose down the road as greenhouse gases rise and we are forced to spend billions more on future public infrastructure projects, such as raising the dykes to counter rising sea levels.”

“If we are to spend $4 billion of public funds (don’t for a moment think that the projected cost of the Massey Tunnel replacement bridge won’t increase — such costs invariably do) what else might we do?”

And here is the list, all cheaper that a 3.5 billion dollar bridge:

$1.32 billion– expand our fleet of buses by 750 vehicles. “Assuming a 35-per-cent recovery in operating costs from transit fares, we could operate that expanded fleet for 10 years.”

$1.3 billion-upgrade or replace” all 152 schools that pose the highest danger to students in an earthquake.”

$1.38 billion-build “5,520 affordable housing units.”

The  biggest “bridge”  challenge is that members of the public never got the chance to discuss this crossing decision with the Province. This bridge was concocted by the current Provincial government and handed to citizens not as a public investment in the future, but because the Province thought it was good for business.

As the Province commentary concludes “The time is long overdue to have a fulsome discussion about what the alternatives are, alternatives that could improve the livability of our region on so many fronts.”


james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
TFW you calculate that the Venus Equilateral Relay Station probably had decades if not more than a century's worth of breathable air for the 3000 people on board.
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Posted by Ask a Manager

This is a really tough one, so I’m throwing it out to readers to help with. A reader writes:

I’m writing to you seeking help about a sensitive circumstance that has taken place at my work. My coworkers know I am writing to you and there is agreement about my submission to you.

At the beginning of February, the wife of one of my coworkers gave birth to a premature baby, 16 weeks before her due date. A collection was taken up for him and his wife because the baby was in intensive care and it was a stressful and draining situation for them. A manager deposited the money in the bank and was to write a check for him and his wife (a confidential spreadsheet was kept of the donations and everyone signed off on the amount that the check was to be for).

The next day the manager who was supposed to write the check was killed in a car crash. We hate to even be thinking of this, but we have no way to access the donations and only her family can access her bank account. It was a significant sum of money (over $1,500). The crash made the news and her family has started a fundraiser to pay her hospital bill and funeral expenses as they cannot cover it on their own.

Our question is how we can tactfully ask them to give us the money so we can donate it to our coworker who had the premature baby as intended? We don’t work for a large company with the funds for another check, it’s a small business. Many people here dug deep to give a donation and no one can really afford to do it again. We don’t want to upset or hurt her family but that money wasn’t hers. None of us want to offend her family because they are struggling too.

Oh no, this is terrible. I’m so sorry for everyone involved.

I hate to say it, but I don’t know if there’s an easy way to get that money back. Her family may not even be able to access her bank account yet.

And then of course, there’s the sensitivity around approaching a grieving family and asking for the money back — that’s a tough thing to do, especially when they’re in the middle of raising funds themselves.

I’m stumped on this one. What do others think?

we raised a lot of money to help a coworker — but the person holding the money died was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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Posted by Chris Wray

Designer: Paul Dennen Publisher: Renegade Game Studios Players: 1 – 4 Ages: 12 and Up Time: 30-60 Minutes Times Played: 5 Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure has been one of the hottest games of the past few months.  Not only has … Continue reading

New Murderbot Review

Apr. 27th, 2017 07:41 am
marthawells: (Miko)
[personal profile] marthawells
This is from Romantic Times (which reviews all genres) and yay, it's an awesome review!

4.5 stars (out of 5) Top Pick
Author(s): Martha Wells [1]
Having our hero be an apathetic, pessimistic killer android who can’t stand being looked at without its helmet on and who just wants to spend its time in the comforting grip of TV might seem to some readers like an outlandish premise, but in Wells’ hands, Murderbot is wonderfully relatable, very funny and a great narrator, editorial asides and all. The story is well put together and sketches out an intriguing future, but the real draw is our host, and the result is a story that builds to an unexpectedly moving climax. More Murderbot, please.

Murderbot may have hacked its own systems to become a free agent, but mostly it’s content to work the low-level guard jobs that require its type of SecUnit while only paying minimal attention and trying to stay caught up on its serials. Unfortunately, someone is trying to kill the scientists who are its current employers, and even more unfortunately, those scientists are coming perilously close to understanding that Murderbot is different. And if that happens, they might just start treating it like a person. (TOR.COM, May, 144 pp., $14.99)


If you want a signed paperback copy, you can order one from Murder by the Book before May 5, 2017 here: http://www.murderbooks.com/event/martha-wells-preorder

The DRM-Free ebooks are available world-wide on B&N, Kobo, Kindle, iBooks, etc: http://www.marthawells.com/murderbot1.htm


jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
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Adventures in Mamboland

"Jazz Fish, a saxophone playing wanderer, finds himself in Mamboland at a critical phase in his life." --Howie Green, on his book Jazz Fish Zen

Yeah. That sounds about right.

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