Burrard Bridge Opening

Oct. 21st, 2017 11:19 pm
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Posted by Ken Ohrn

A happy event today as the renovations and improvements are essentially done — and the official opening of the Burrard Bridge took place. Good to go for another 80+ years.

For me, the biggest improvement is that, for the first time, the east sidewalk is now open exclusively to people on foot. Next biggest is the north intersection of Burrard and Pacific, now in operation, with full controls and full mode separation.

Plus, behind the scenes, plenty of structural and engineering rehab; and on the bridge, beautifully done heritage-sensitive improvements.

Apparently Tuesday night, the new fully-colour-controlled lights in their heritage fixtures will get a workout — I’m personally hoping for the Burrard disco to erupt.

As usual, click on any photo to see a slide show of large versions, with captions

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Posted by John Gruber

Matthew Panzarino, writing for TechCrunch:

Apple, AT&T, the FCC and Alphabet’s X division have all put into motion efforts to give residents of Puerto Rico more cellular connectivity.

Apple has been working with AT&T to extend and activate cell service for users in Puerto Rico. To improve what is a terrible connectivity situation there, it’s going to enable a provisional band of LTE that has been recently approved, but not activated in the US and Puerto Rico, where it has not been licensed. This will allow iPhones to connect to Alphabet X’s Project Loon balloons in the region, which were activated today.

This should allow users to send text messages and access some critical online services.

Video stores were better than Netflix

Oct. 21st, 2017 08:51 pm
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Posted by MGK

In comments on the previous post, Disgrunted Manatee suggests:

As others have said, without a picture of the selection from previous ages, it is hard to digest this data. I still recall Blockbuster having an entire aisle to display 100 copies of each of the 3 most popular movies at the time, then 3 aisles holding a random smattering of other stuff. The selection was never all that grand. Anecdotally in my small experience, the selection now just with netflix is way better than in my childhood with blockbuster and two other brick and mortar video store memberships combined.

A few points in response:

1. Blockbusters were, for the most part, terrible video stores, focused as they – and Netflix, for that matter – were on feeding consumer demand for the newest hottest things, rather than being consumer-oriented pay libraries (which are generally profitable enterprises, if not as profitable as stoking consumer demand to hyperactive proportions).

2. Your typical Blockbuster – and I can speak to this as I had multiple siblings work there – worked on stocking principles that dictated that half of the store’s shelf space was devoted to new releases (with the newest and hottest releases taking more prominence, of course), and half to older stock. This contrasted with more traditional video stores, where (and I personally worked at several, so I can also speak to this) generally had a new release/long tail ratio of anywhere from 40-60 (your neighborhood mom and pop store) to 20/80 (the really good video stores that took movies seriously).

3. Compare to Netflix, where we actually have hard statistics to determine how much of their catalogue can be considered recent thanks to sites like New On Netflix. Thanks to that site, I can tell you that Netflix Canada has 5,190 titles right now, and of those 5,190 titles 3,007 are less than three years old. That’s 58 percent! And that’s before you remove TV programs from the equation, because TV series are considered (for search purposes) single titles with their year being the earliest season available on Netflix, so most TV series skew older rather than newer, which means that the percentage of movies on Netflix that could be considered reasonably recent is actually even higher than it looks at first glance.

4. Just as important, though, is the fact that although most video stores and Blockbusters would generally clear out their new releases stock as “previously viewed” sales to increase their revenue, they would keep one or two copies of each new release to be incorporated into their older stock, because although the long tail for rentals is a thing, for movies that are 5-10 years old you’re still in the medium of the long tail where there was an active audience of people who were only getting around to see any given movie which they had intended to see for a while (this happened regularly with prestige pictures/Oscar winners), and after the medium of the long tail passed there was still the long tail of revenue to be generated from movies which had already seen the vast majority of their lifetime rentals but which could earn additional revenue every so often simply by sitting there and being available.

5. The average Blockbuster had a movie library of approximately 7,000 titles at any given time (per Big-Box Swindle by Stacy Mitchell); independent video stores almost always exceeded this, with “good” video stores often exceeding 15,000 titles. Netflix – regardless of country – has at any point a library of in between 5-6,000 titles. That is usually about 20% TV shows (and many of the TV shows are marginal things); it usually also includes about 20% bottom-bin straight-to-DVD releases (and straight-to-video releases were certainly a part of any video store’s inventory, but the ratio was usually about 10% rather than 20%). There really isn’t any numerical question that Netflix’s service is inferior to practically all video stories in terms of variety of catalogue.

So, the basic response to Manatee’s comment is the least satisfying one to all concerned, which is “your memory isn’t really accurate.” Regular video stores were better for catalogue than Blockbuster was, and Blockbuster was better for catalogue than Netflix was.

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Posted by Ask a Manager

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly no work and no school.)

Book recommendation of the week: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman. I can’t tell you how much I loved this book. It starts out deeply funny and then it turns into something you didn’t expect. This is one of my favorite books this year.

weekend free-for-all – October 21-22, 2017 was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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Our public playtest of the 2018 edition of Illuminati is ending on November 1, so make sure to submit your feedback soon! If you missed our original announcement, or haven't had time, there's still a week left to participate.

Illuminati Playtest

Simply print out the playtest cards from our site, and play a few games with them at home. You can then submit feedback on our Illuminati Playtest forum. Find a post that discusses your topic and reply to it, or create a new post, if your particular concern hasn't been addressed yet. 

If you haven't had a chance to play before, or want to see Steve talk about the basics and some of our playtesting feedback, check out our #SJGamesLive video!

Thank you to everyone who's already taken part! We've received a ton of useful feedback so far, but we're always looking for more. Make sure to take part before it closes on November 1! 

Hunter Shelburne

Warehouse 23 News: Deadly Denizens For Your Dungeon

As the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game continues to make its way around the world, Pyramid #3/108: Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game III arrives, with more monsters, more ways to modify these threats, and more adventure ideas for using those critters. Download it individually, or subscribe today today for this issue and many more months of monstrous fun - only from Warehouse 23!

‘It’s All Screen’

Oct. 20th, 2017 10:39 pm
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Posted by John Gruber

Ken Segall:

Apple advertising was always creative and fun, but it was also intelligent and accurate. That’s what made it the industry’s “gold standard” for marketing.

That’s why it makes me nervous when I see today’s Apple playing loose with words and images to sell a product.

Case in point: the “all-screen” iPhone X.

Of course we can see with our own eyes that iPhone X is not all-screen. It has a noticeable edge around the entire display, which even the Samsung S8 does not have. And then there is “the notch” — the object of many a critic’s venom.

I don’t have a problem with the side and bottom edges of the iPhone X being described as “all screen”. It’s not the same as Samsung’s Galaxy Edge sides, but I dislike the way those Edge phones look when I hold them. If there were no notch — that is to say, if the top of the iPhone X looked exactly like the bottom — I would have no problem declaring that “all screen” would be a fair description.

But with the notch? No way. Here’s one simple way to think about it: what does Apple do 2-3 years from now if they ship an iPhone with no notch? Describe it as “Really all screen this time”?

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Posted by John Gruber

Blair Kamin, architecture critic for The Chicago Tribune:

Chicago’s new Apple store is thrillingly transparent, elegantly understated and a boon to the city’s riverfront.

With its huge sheets of laminated glass and an ultra-thin roof of lightweight carbon fiber the store, opening Friday, is simultaneously present and absent, there and not there. From North Michigan Avenue, you look through its glassy membrane and see the river’s blue-green waters and passing tour boats. A plaza of tiered granite steps spills down to the riverfront.

Looks beautiful — very much in the same spirit as Apple Park.

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Posted by Nicola Griffith

coming out disabled bigger

Image description: Screenshot from header of magazine article. The headline and byline, “‘Coming Out Disabled: Embracing our full spectrum’ by Victoria A. Brownworth,” are followed by a photo, taken outside in summer, of a short-haired white woman in a pale linen shirt sitting in front of another white woman with slightly longer hair, wearing in a sky blue tank top, who has her hands on the first woman’s shoulders; she is wearing a wedding ring (they are married).

In the Oct/Nov issue of Curve, Victoria Brownworth writes a three-page feature on disabled queer visibility. I’m one of three women—the others are Alice Wong and Ace Ratcliffe—interviewed.

It’s a good article; you should read it (either in the print edition or the $2.99 digital download). But one thing I want to correct immediately: I did not coin the phrase radical hospitality. I first heard it from Leigh Ann Hildebrand in 2013, and talked about it extensively here. I talk about it a bit more in the article. It’s a beautiful concept and in my opinion if everyone adopted it the world would be a better place.

I also also talk about my own internalised ableism and how and why it took me so long to first recognise it, and then begin to get past it:

While Ratcliffe was forced to accept and address her disability early, for Griffith the struggle took longer, but was no less harsh. “Perhaps because my physical impairments gained on me slowly, it took years to feel the sting of nondisabled people’s dismissal,” she says as she echoes Ratcliffe’s words. “It took years for me to begin to understand that I had been dismissing myself. But more likely it’s because growing up I hadn’t seen disabled queer women in real life, or on page or screen. At all. And then when finally I began to see disabled characters, they were distorted clichés: tragic cripples, angry cripples, helpless cripples. Cripples whose bodies, like those of queer people, were portrayed as sites of difficulty rather than delight. Cripples written by the nondisabled who have no fucking clue.”

The article ends:

Griffith’s call to action seems so simple, yet those of us who read coming out stories as teenagers know the path to inclusion is incredibly fraught. “We all need to see ourselves,” she says. “We need mirrors. We need to hear our own voices. Our strong, beautiful, ordinary, disabled, queer voices. We need to see and hear ourselves.

“Let’s find each other. Let’s welcome each other. Let’s practise radical hospitality. Next time you put together and article, or a party, or an event, reach out. Don’t say, ‘If you need anything, just ask.’ Do the work of imagining what we might need, and then make it happen. Don’t put the work on us. You can’t anticipate everything, but you can begin. And when we speak—on Twitter, in person, in a book—listen.”

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Posted by Jason Kottke

In a Twitter thread, author Oliver Morton compares the physical scale of the Universe with its age (from the perspective of humans).

If a human life is 70 years long, there has been room for 200 million lives since the big bang, but 200 million humans, end to end, would reach just a bit further than the moon. If you had started walking towards the centre of the galaxy on the day of the big bang (had there been days, you, paths & galaxies), you would have got about 20 parsecs by now: just 0.25% of the way.

Maybe walking pace is the wrong metric. A nerve impulse travels around 70 times faster than a person walks. But even at the speed of thought, the age of the universe is too small for something to have reached the centre of the galaxy.

The situation is even worse when you choose another reference object, like UY Scuti, the largest known star. The red hypergiant is nearly 1.5 billion miles across and, because of its size and position near the center of the galaxy, is probably around 13 billion years old, just a few hundred million years younger than the age of the Universe itself.

Even if you use light as a marker, the size of Universe remains unfathomably immense. Over the course of the Universe’s lifetime, a photon could have travelled 13.8 billion light-years, just 15% of the current estimate of the Universe’s diameter of 93 billion light-years. See also what are the physical limits of humanity?

Tags: astronomy   Oliver Morton   science   space   Universe
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Posted by John Gruber

They scored it 6-4 in favor of the iPhone 8 Plus but the bottom line is that both are good cameras. My favorite in favor of the iPhone is the fountain photo; for the Pixel, low light no-flash photo.

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Posted by John Gruber

“You’re looking at a man who’s laughing on the outside and crying on the inside. For a year, I’ve been looking high and low, I’ve been trying to find a shirt that looks good untucked. I can’t find one.

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Posted by Jason Kottke

Paper Trails is a “hand-drawn animation with ink, white-out and collage” by Jake Fried. It’s only a minute long, but it’s got so much crammed into it, it looks as though it took years to make. I also really liked Brain Lapse from 2014:

(via colossal)

Tags: Jake Fried   video
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Posted by Sandy James Planner


A not well-known fact is that HandyDart, the TransLink service that is provided for people with physical and cognitive disabilities is not actually operated by TransLink but is contracted out to a subsidiary  of an American company operating as MVT Canadian Bus Incorporated.

Transportation Planner Eric Doherty  has prepared a new report recommending that TransLink bring the HandyDart service into the TransLink fold. As reported by Jennifer Saltman in The Vancouver Sun Doherty observes that “The evidence points to operating HandyDart directly as a public service as the best way to provide safe and quality service. Contracting out to any of the large corporations that provide management services to transit agencies will likely compromise quality of service without any real cost saving.”

Doherty wrote a report in 2013 that showed that many disabled people were being denied HandyDart trips, and provided his latest report at the request of the union in terms of the service and its governance. Chief among the findings was the need to have accountability, clear governance, and to increase the service by five per cent a year by 2021. Doherty based these figures on the fact that seniors over 70 will increase by 53 per cent in the ten years, with a commensurate demand for HandyDart services.

Since MTV’s contract with Translink expires in 2018, TransLink is already looking at developing a custom transit services call centre and assessing  passenger trip delivery. TransLink did undertake a review of the HandyDart service in 2016 as the service did not respond on time for people needing access to medical appointments, and taxi trips also paid for by TransLink increased. At the time the decline in acceptable service was  “blamed on a freeze in service hours attributed to the actions of the then-Liberal government and appointed TransLink board of directors.”

TransLink CEO  Kevin Desmond observed that “whether it’s our own employees or a contracted employee at HandyDart or Canada Line, that we hold them accountable to performance standards and performance outcomes. I don’t know that we were doing that well enough on HandyDart when I got here. We are doing it better now.”

A final decision on whether HandyDart will be brought in-house or again contracted out will be made at the end of 2017.


My Vacation Diary

Oct. 20th, 2017 09:32 am
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Posted by Michael Swanwick


Marianne and I do a lot of traveling and we travel actively. We travel to discover, to learn, to stand frozen with awe. We wander down dirt roads just to see where they lead to. But once a year we rent a beach house, down the Shore and do nothing at all.

Except for a Halloween story and half a dozen stories openings composed in the half-state between sleeping and waking, which I jotted down because it would be waste not to, and notes for a speech I have to make, I didn't even write.

Which doesn't mean we were completely sedentary. We walked along the beach, looking for mermaid's toenails. We strolled through nature preserves. We went to a bar on a schooner docked at the Lobster House and drank martinis.We assembled a jigsaw puzzle. We bought flowers to brighten up the rental.

I did keep a diary, though. That's it up above.

And don't forget...

Tje Orionids are tonight. Always worth seeing.

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Posted by Ask a Manager

Here are four updates from people who had their letters answered here recently.

1. My friend tried to strong-arm her way into a promotion

Well, as you may have guessed, Sansa did not get the promotion she was seeking. The managers involved didn’t explain their thinking to her, or give her any indication that strong-arming your way into a job is not great for your career. She ended up leaving the company soon after they filled the position she wanted. She did get a job she really likes in a related field and is doing quite well for herself.

One amusing side note: A few months after her strong-arming strategy failed, I saw that she was leading a salary negotiation workshop at an industry conference. That made me chuckle a bit.

2. My boss enlists me in hiding his multiple affairs from his wife (first update here)

My former boss was fired. His wife outed a fourth woman for sleeping with him, same as the others. She works here. Having an affair with a subordinate and the multiple yelling matches with the other three women here at the office was enough to get him fired. The fourth woman was married (unlike the other three) and her husband filed for divorce after she was outed. She took job somewhere else but left amicably and was not fired like my former boss was. At least two of the women his wife was suing are settling with her to avoid it going to trial. The yelling matches he was having made it clear she wasn’t using the lawsuits as a bargaining chip and would not drop them in exchange for stuff from him.

Now that both he and the woman from here that he was having an affair with are gone, things have calmed down. No one has mentioned the affair in weeks and everything here is boring again. I don’t mind the lack of gossip and am still enjoying my new job and great colleagues. I got a small bonus at my yearly review because my boss was so happy with my work. I love my new colleagues and they have been nothing but welcoming to me.

(Also there was speculation in the comments in my first update about whether his wife outed the escort for her affair or being an escort. The answer is both. I don’t agree with her actions but I empathize with how much pain the affairs have caused her.)

3. Should I give this recruiter a third chance? (#4 at the link)

Talk about a fast update, I actually had an interview arranged by another lady agency who was very pleasant, a gob on a stick, but very professional in her approach. That was on Tuesday and I received a job offer which I accepted yesterday. So I’m now in the rather delicious situation of having a job and being able to reply to the bad agency with this information a mere two days later. I loved reading the replies and now have the decision of writing a short “k thx bai” email or a more pointed one. Thanks for the advice.

4. What to tell my employee about another employee who’s underperforming

There’s not much to tell on this front. Ford was let go; Arthur didn’t really bring it up any more. Arthur has continued to be a strong performer and has not had any of the issues that I was worried about with regard to his own performance/status at the company. I didn’t have to address anything other than giving regular coaching and “performance check-ins” which are largely positive.

I understand Arthur still keeps up with Ford who has been working as a bartender–far from our industry. I don’t believe their personal relationship impacts Arthur’s professional life much, if at all.

I’ve since moved on to another client team, so I no longer manage Arthur.

4 updates from letter-writers (the cheating boss, the strong-arming of a promotion, and more) was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.


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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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