Rabu, 31 Agustus 2011

0 New Features for the Google +1 Button

That was quick. After a few days of testing, the improvements to the Google +1 button are publicly available.



When you mouse over the button, Google shows a list of friends that +1'd the page. The same list is now displayed next to the button if you change the code and select inline annotations. This is the new default option when you generate the code, but not everyone will like it because it takes a lot of space. Google probably chose this option because you're more likely to +1 a page if some of your friends already did that.





The Google +1 button also lets you share a page to Google+. After clicking "+1", Google shows a box where you could enter your comments and choose one or more circles. Google shows a title, a thumbnail and a short snippet from the page. By default, they're automatically generated, but developers can explicitly annotate the page using the schema.org microdata or the Open Graph protocol, which is also used by Facebook. At the least, you should add a tag for the image that best represents the page.



0 Offline Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Docs

As promised, Google brought back the offline mode for Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Docs. The updated apps use HTML5 features and no longer require the Gears plugin.



For Gmail, Google chose the easy way out and tweaked the tablet interface. You can only use it in Google Chrome after installing this app from the Chrome Web Store. The app lets you archive and label email, compose new messages and read the messages you've received, but it doesn't have all the features from the standard version. The interface is more suitable for tablets, so this is more like a temporary workaround instead of a definitive solution.







Offline Google Calendar and offline Google Docs aren't yet available to everyone and will be rolled out in the coming days. Google says that the offline mode is built into the apps, just like the Gears version. "Google Calendar and Google Docs let you seamlessly transition between on- and offline modes. When you're offline in Google Calendar, you can view events from your calendars and RSVP to appointments. With Google Docs you can view documents and spreadsheets when you don't have a connection. Offline editing isn't ready yet, but we know it's important to many of you, and we're working hard to make it a reality. To get started using Google Calendar or Google Docs offline, just click the gear icon at the top right corner of the web app and select the option for offline access," explains Google.



I don't see the offline settings for Google Calendar and Google Docs in my account, but offline Gmail is disappointing. It only works in Chrome, it has a different URL (http://mail.google.com/mail/mu/), the interface is optimized for iPad and Android tablets and it's very limited. Hopefully, Google will add support for offline access to the regular interface.



0 Bridges are Acoustic Information

Sound artist Rutger Zuydervelt and designer Gerco Hiddink have teamed up to organize a new audio project called Bridges.

[Image: From Bridges].

The project asked a group of eight well-known improvisational musicians to "react" to four Dutch bridges (or, more accurately, to field recordings made on, under, and near those bridges). The project is thus as much about musical improv as it is about infrastructural acoustics—a structural ecology of sound vibrantly humming in the spaces around us.

[Images: From Bridges].

As The Wire explains in a short article about the project, Zuydervelt and Hiddink "paired the eight musicians not to play together, but to react separately to the field recordings, which he then mixed together with the primary field recordings."

The resulting sound works have just been released, and can be previewed here.

[Image: Album design by Gerco Hiddink for Bridges].

As it happens, there's a surprisingly strong artistic interest in turning bridges into sound.

A few years ago, for instance, a project called "Singing Bridges" made the news. It was "a sonic sculpture, playing the cables of stay-cabled and suspension bridges as musical instruments," and the artist behind it—Jodi Rose—wrote that she aimed to "amplify and record the sound of bridge cables around the world."

Artists Bruce Odland and Sam Auinger, meanwhile, explored the acoustics of an urban bridge with their project "Harmonic Bridge" (which I had the pleasure of hearing during its run at MASS MoCA). That project, as the museum explained it, produced a roiling "eddy of sound in the midst of intersecting streams of traffic. Cars pass by heading north or south on Marshall Street and east or west on the Route 2 bridge, but this linear motion is counterpoised by a rolling, humming C as calming as the rhythm of ocean waves."

More broadly, the artists add, "The bridge becomes an instrument played by the city revealing hidden harmonies within the built environment."

[Image: "Harmonic Bridge" by Bruce Odland and Sam Auinger, courtesy of MASS MoCA].

Releasing drone-bursts, buzzes, rumbles, and bells, bridges are the ignored instruments of the city, strongly suggesting that the urban context so often prized by architects and designers should also include an awareness of that region's acoustics—a neighborhood zoned for singing bridges and harmonic roads, given rhythm by the thumping and amplified tectonics of the subways. The bridge becomes an Aeolian harp—infrastructure gone acoustic—its formal sonic properties activated by the turbulent motions of the environment around it.

(Environmental sounds elsewhere: Dancing About Architecture).

0 7 Simple Steps to Becoming Well-Read



One of the most common personal development resolutions is to read more. Reading is a great way to fire up your brain, increase your vocabulary, gain a richer understanding of your own or other cultures, and enjoy some good stories to boot!



So what’s holding you back?
Maybe diving into a “To Read” list as long as your arm feels daunting, or you’re embarrassed to go back to book club after skipping for three months in a row. Maybe you just haven’t found the time to read lately. Whatever’s keeping you from tackling that list of books, these tips may help you find your way back into the pages:

  1. Start small.

    If you don’t have time to read, you’re probably not going to wake up tomorrow and knock out 150 pages (although if you do, more power to you!). Try reading for 15 minutes before you go to sleep, or reserve part of your lunch break for reading time. Whatever reading time you decide on, though, stick to it.


  2. Make reading fit your schedule.

    On the road a lot? Listen to audio books instead of the radio. Computer junkies will love services like DailyLit, a site that emails books to you in 5-minute installments, according to a schedule you set. Constant traveler? Invest in an e-reader so you can take plenty of reading material with you, even when packing light.


  3. Decide what you want to read.

    Do you want to read the classics? Are the new novels that are getting reviewed and talked about more your style? Or are you hoping to increase your knowledge about something, like Web programming, a foreign language, or modern art? Having a focus for your reading can help keep you from getting overwhelmed.


  4. Don’t be a slave to The List.

    While having a focus is important, don’t shut yourself off to everything else, or reading may seem more like an assignment than a pleasure activity. If you’re brushing up on the classics and a newly published novel catches your eye, read it! You can make some great discoveries by trusting your own taste.


  5. Minimize distraction.

    Find a quiet place. Disconnect from electronics, and avoid surrounding yourself with other people. They won’t mind. You can tell them all about the great novel you found later. For now, let yourself sink into the story.


  6. Note your progress.

    Jot down the books you finish in a notebook. Writing something down about what you read, even if it’s only the title and author, will help you remember it longer and provide you with an accurate record of how close you are to reaching your goal.


  7. Spread the word!

    One of the best things about being better read is that you’ve got more to share in conversation. Try writing a book review on your blog, or joining a book club. Who knows? You may inspire someone else to curl up with a good book, too.

Written on 8/31/2011 by Jessica Jonas. Jessica is a writer and editor. She offers book recommendations, writing tips, and general inspiration on her blog at http://jessicamjonas.wordpress.com.

Photo Credit: KellBailey


0 Chrome's Most Important Feature

Ben Goodger, a former Mozilla developer who now works at Google on the Chrome team, thinks that autoupdate is one of the most important Chrome features.

Autoupdate is one of Chrome's killer features. It is magical because it continuously updates an entire development platform invisibly, frequently. Supporting it has driven how we structure our development processes. It was also one of Chrome's first features. Delving back into project history long before we launched publicly in 2008, the autoupdate project was one of the very first we started working on. The idea was to give people a blank window with an autoupdater. If they installed that, over time the blank window would grow into a browser. And today, some five years after our autoupdater started updating a mostly blank window that could barely load webpages, it is now an engine for delivering an incredibly sophisticated web technology platform onto our users' computers, which in turn allows web app developers to build amazing new online experiences. I have never seen such an effective platform update mechanism before.


Chrome automatically updates in the background and makes sure that it always has the latest features and bug fixes. You don't longer have to worry about version numbers, the list of features from the latest release and you can no longer decide that it's a bad idea to upgrade to the new version because of an annoying change. Extensions also update in the background and you're always using the most recent versions. That's a great thing for developers, who don't have to support legacy Chrome versions and spend so much time testing their sites and extensions. It's also a great thing for users, who can rely on a secure browser that has the latest security fixes and it's better protected against malware. They can also use the latest Web apps without having to worry about updating their browser.



Chrome's rapid release cycle works well because of the autoupdater. Annoying users with notifications about the new releases makes people delay updating their browser. Some of them will find ways to disable the updater and will continue to use an old version of the browser. Ben Goodger thinks that making the updater invisible is very important:

Chrome's autoupdate system is deceptively simple. I say "deceptively" because as a user it appears completely invisible, but really there are a lot of sophisticated technologies and processes that support it. The key point here is "completely invisible." We have made numerous improvements to the autoupdater over the course of Chrome's life, including one major change a while ago when we sped up the frequency of our releases from once per quarter to one every six weeks. But from a user perspective Chrome is still well.. Chrome.



I'll expand on invisible, because it's important:



The Chrome autoupdater works quietly in the background, never notifying you. If there's an update, it'll download it and prepare it so that the next time you start the browser it's the latest version. Sort of like how the next time you load GMail it's the latest version.


I think the autoupdater is the most important Chrome feature because it's the enabler for the other features. Ever since it was released back in 2008, Chrome has constantly improved, supporting new Web technologies, adding new features to the interface, new APIs for extensions and cutting-edge security features. Without a powerful autoupdater, many Chrome users would still have an outdated version and wouldn't be able to use them. Sometimes, removing choice can dramatically improve a software.



{ via François }

Selasa, 30 Agustus 2011

0 Green Man

[Image: An unrelated photo by BLDGBLOG].

The other day I mentioned a poem by John Balaban, taken from his book Locusts at the Edge of Summer, which I discovered again during Hurricane Irene; but there's another poem in there with an incredible image that seems worth posting here.

In it, Balaban describes how villagers growing rice during the Vietnam War—where Balaban, a conscientious objector, served with the International Volunteer Corps—stumble upon an extraordinary feature in the landscape:
Beyond the last treeline on the horizon
beyond the coconut palms and eucalyptus
out in the moon-zone puckered by bombs
the dead earth where no one ventures,
the boys found it, foolish boys
riding buffaloes in craterlands
where at night bombs thump and ghosts howl.
A green patch on the raw earth.
This "green patch" has an usual shape, however. Balaban continues:
In that dead place the weeds had formed a man
where someone died and fertilized the earth, with flesh
and blood, with tears, with longing for loved ones.
No scrap remained; not even a buckle
survived the monsoons, just a green creature,
a viny man, supine, with posies for eyes,
butterflies for buttons, a lily for a tongue.
And the sight of this "green creature" proves too fertile, unforgettable, haunting all the villagers who've seen it:
Now when huddled asleep together
the farmers hear a rustly footfall
as the leaf-man rises and stumbles to them.
Out of the darkness, convinced by the life they give to the land around them that they might not yet be dead, the missing-in-action pull themselves from the tangle of the earth and rise and walk again.

0 Google +1 Extension for Chrome

Now you no longer have to wait until your favorite site adds a Google +1 button. If you use Chrome, you can install an extension that lets you +1 any Web page. The extension is developed by Google and it acts just like a +1 button: it shows the number of +1's and it becomes blue if you've already +1'd a page.





An obvious privacy trade-off is that the extension sends the list of the pages you visit to Google's servers, but this information is not associated with your account. "Google doesn’t keep a persistent record of your browsing history as part of the process of showing you a +1 button or otherwise use the fact that you personally have visited a page with the +1 button. Google may keep some information about your visit, usually for about two weeks, to maintain and debug its systems," explains Google.



{ Thanks, Kristian. }

0 Google Trusted Stores

An unlisted video uploaded to Google's YouTube channel announces a new service for shoppers and sellers: Google Trusted Stores. The program "makes it easy for online shoppers to identify stores that provide an excellent online shopping experience," explains Google. The URL of the new service returns an error message: http://www.google.com/trustedstores, but that's because it wasn't officially launched.





It's likely that Google will show a Trusted Store badge next to the ads for the online stores that provide a great experience and have a good track record of shipping on time and providing excellent customer service.





Right now, Google shows an average rating and a link to user reviews:





Update: The video is now private.



{ Thanks, Ward. }

0 Seven Secrets of Highly Productive People



Some people are incredibly effective and efficient. They get lots of work done – and it’s all high-quality. They seem to have boundless energy and enthusiasm. Maybe you’ve got a friend who’s like that – or perhaps it’s your colleague, or your spouse. You might think that they were born that way: they had the “productivity gene.”



The truth is this: you can massively increase your own productivity by understanding and using the secrets that highly productive people know.


Perhaps you’ll find that some of these are familiar tips: if so, are you actually following them?

  1. Understanding “Peak” Times of Day

    Productive people have a good sense of their daily rhythm, and they allow for this when planning their day. They recognize that not all hours are created equal.



    Do you know when your “peak” hours are? You probably have a good gut sense. Maybe you work really well in the mornings but struggle to focus in the afternoons. Perhaps you have a boost of energy at 3pm every day.



    Use it: Once you know your best hours, use those for your hardest tasks – anything requiring lots of concentration or creativity. If you’re highly focused between 10am and 12noon, don’t use that time for reading emails.



  2. Focusing on One Task at a Time

    Productive people understand that multitasking is a myth. They don’t try to juggle five things at the same time. They focus on one task.



    How about you? Perhaps you’ve fallen into the trap of trying to work while you’ve got Facebook and Twitter open. You check your inbox every few minutes. Or, at home, you try to study while you’re watching television. By trying to multitask, you’re losing focus every single time you switch between things.



    Use it: Pick one task to work on – finishing that report, clearing your inbox, filing your papers – and see it through to completion. Then pick the next task.


  3. Eating Healthy Food (Especially at Lunch)

    Productive people know that they need to carefully manage their physical energy throughout the day. That means fueling their bodies with good, nutritious food.



    What does your usual lunch look like? If you scoff down fast food, plus a large coke, at your desk, you’ll get a quick energy boost from all the simple carbs – followed by a crash soon after. If you go out to a restaurant and eat a three-course meal, you’ll struggle to stay awake later in the day.



    Use it: Aim for a moderate-sized lunch, and focus on foods that give you sustained energy (like whole grains and protein). Try fruit, nuts or seeds as mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks.


  4. Allowing Others to Help

    Productive people don’t try to do everything alone. They delegate at work. They get their family to pitch in at home – or they hire a maid or gardener. They’re good at managing people, not just their own workload.



    Do you ever ask for help? Perhaps you’re afraid that you’ll look weak – but the truth is, none of us achieve anything alone. We’ve always got support (whether emotional or practical) along the way.



    Use it: What time-consuming tasks could you delegate at work? Could you pay someone to clean the house (or take care of the garden, etc) instead of struggling to do it yourself?


  5. Saying “No” to Unwanted Commitments

    Productive people might seem to do everything, but they also say “no” to commitments that would conflict with what they’re already doing. They’re not afraid to set priorities and stick with them.



    Do you find it hard to say “no”? Maybe you’re afraid of offending someone, or you feel bad turning down their request. But if you take on every commitment that comes your way, you’ll soon find that you’re not able to complete anything on time and to a high standard.



    Use it: Be choosy about what new things you take on. If you don’t have much choice (e.g. it’s your boss asking) then explain that you’ve got a full workload, and that you’ll need to give up something else.


  6. Exercising Regularly

    Productive people make time to exercise. That might be one of the things that surprises you – How can Sam have enough energy to do a full day’s work and then hit the gym? I feel exhausted just watching him.



    How often have you said “I don’t have time to exercise”? Perhaps you feel too tired at the end of the day – so you slump on the sofa in front of the TV instead. You think that if you exercise, you’ll be exhausted the next day. But, as productive people know, exercising doesn’t tire you out – it gives you more energy.



    Use it: Start small. Get out in your lunch hour for a brisk 15-minute walk – and see what a difference it makes to your energy levels during the afternoon.


  7. Investing Time to Save Time

    Productive people know that the smart choice is to spend a little bit of time right now in order to save lots of time in the future.



    Have you ever struggled on with an inefficient method, because you “didn’t have time” to change it? Perhaps you can complete a particular task in 30 minutes, and it would take two hours to put in place a more efficient method. If that 30 minute task crops up every week, though, and a two-hour fix would cut it to 5 minutes each time, it’s a fix well worth implementing!



    Use it: Any time you’re engaged in a repetitive, lengthy computer task, figure out whether there’s a more efficient method (like using macros).
Do you have any secrets to add to the list? Or did one of these secrets switch on a light for you? Let us know in the comments...



Written on 3/17/2009 by Ali Luke. Ali writes a blog, Aliventures, about leading a productive and purposeful life (get the RSS feed here). As well as blogging, she writes fiction, and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing.Photo Credit: Stephan Modry


Senin, 29 Agustus 2011

0 New Interface for Google Docs Apps

Consistency is great, but not when it makes an application more difficult to use. Google Docs tests new interfaces for the document editor and Google Spreadsheets. Inspired by Google+, the new interfaces remove all the colors from the icons and other UI elements, remove the Google Docs logo, add new scrollbars and a "Collaborate" menu that includes all the features from the "Share" drop-down.









The new grayscale buttons from the toolbar make it more difficult to find the right feature. They're are less intuitive, harder to distinguish and look like disabled buttons. Compare the two versions of the "paint format" button (the fifth button):





Unlike the new interfaces for Gmail and Google Calendar, the updated Google Docs apps don't use too much whitespace. You can switch to the new interfaces by clicking "Try now" in a small message that announces the changes when you open a Google Docs document or spreadsheet. To go back to the old UI, choose "Use the classic look" from the "Help" menu.



In other related news, Google Sites also tests a new UI:





{ Thanks, András, Louis, Thomas and Cougar. }

0 Studio-X NYC


I am thrilled to say that I have moved east to New York City, leaving California after five unforgettable and productive years, to take on a new role as co-director, with Nicola Twilley, of Studio-X NYC at Columbia University.

Studio-X NYC is an off-campus event space, gallery, classroom, and urban futures think tank, part of a global network run by Columbia's GSAPP. It is closely connected with other Studio-X locations in Beijing, Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro, Moscow, and Amman—with others, we hope, soon to come.

As Mark Wigley, dean of the GSAPP, describes the overall Studio-X initiative:
In recent years, GSAPP has adopted the label "Studio-X" to refer to its most advanced leadership laboratories for the future of the built environment that have to evolve at the same rapid speed as the urban environment itself. The label tries to capture the sense that we have to be ready to face many unknown questions that will arise and need to be engaged urgently, creatively, and responsibly with a range of different partners. A Studio-X offers a protective space for private and collegial exchange of ideas still in formation and a public gallery/lecture space, website and publication program for the exhibition, communication and discussion of the thoughts and designs that result from this exchange. Such laboratories will be located around the world in a dynamic interactive network dedicated equally to practical problems in the city and to emergent thinking.
Further:
With locations in Amman, Beijing, Moscow, Mumbai, New York, and Rio de Janeiro, it is the first truly global network for real-time exchange of projects, people, and ideas between regional leadership cities in which the best minds from Columbia University can think together with the best minds in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia.
As such, each location of Studio-X acts as a "platform for incubating a whole new kind of conversation about the future of the built environment—intense collaborative workshop by day, energizing event space by night."

We both think this is an amazing opportunity to reengineer what it means to discuss cities today, and Nicola and I are committed to pursuing this goal in as wide-ranging and open a way as possible.

[Images: Spatial formats for events at Studio-X NYC, from Gavin Browning's recent Studio-X Guide to Liberating New Forms of Conversation].

Fulfilling the remit of the space would never work, however, without the extraordinary range of potential collaborators, colleagues, experts, and everyday users of the built environment that New York City offers—including the greater Mid-Atlantic region, and the global circuits of travel and professional connection that are based here.

I think, speaking for both Nicola and myself, that one of the most invigorating aspects of all this is the ability to work with people in radically different fields and professions—from policing to public health, archaeology to architecture, literature to film, international finance to amateur sports, subway engineers to sidewalk eccentrics, mayoral candidates to venture capitalists—all of whom have a perspective on, and vested interests in, how cities function. Nicola and I thus anticipate a surge of new collaborations, friends, and, of course, critics—and we hope to see many of you in person, at any number of our forthcoming meetings, events, exhibitions, tours, film festivals, book launches, panel discussions, and more.

In the very near term, we have a few things scheduled. Kicking off a new series of conversations that we call Live Interviews @ Studio-X—or LI@SX—we will be hosting a public conversation with Deborah Estrin at 12:30pm on Thursday, September 1st.

Deborah is director of the Center for Embedded Network Sensing at UCLA. She will be discussing her work with self-monitoring applications, participatory sensing campaigns for community data projects, and citizen science, as well as larger issues of surveillance, privacy, and information filtering in the digital city.

The live interview format will take the form of an informal, one-on-one conversation—moderated in this case by Nicola Twilley—which the public is invited both to attend and to join. For those of you unable to be there in person, the LI@SX series will be recorded for posterity, webcast whenever possible, and eventually transcribed and published online.

[Images: Liam Young installs "Specimens of Unnatural History" at the Nevada Museum of Art; photos by Jamie Kingman].

Later that same evening—at 6pm, Thursday, September 1st—we will be hosting a Landscape Futures Night School with London-based architect Liam Young. This is an experiment with a different format: the Night School is a more interactive exploration of ideas, by definition hosted in the evenings, taking the form of everything from lectures and slideshows to design challenges and debates. The Night School series will be flexibly themed and very different each time it's run.

Liam Young is co-founder (with Darryl Chen) of the design collective and futures think tank Tomorrows Thoughts Today, as well as leader (with Kate Davies) of the Unknown Fields Division, a nomadic design studio based at the Architectural Association (newly returned from a summer expedition to Chernobyl and Baikonur). Liam will be joining us to introduce some of his Specimens of Unnatural History, recently installed as part of the Landscape Futures exhibition at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno.

Following Liam's presentation of his work, I'll be engaging with him in a public conversation, whiteboard brainstorm, and armchair journey around the world, exploring fieldwork as a form of research, the role of the sketchbook, the importance of narrative in architectural design, and the architect as investigative traveler. Expect to hear about everything from Australian kangaroo culls and the control of invasive species to conflict metals, the open-pit gold mine as designed landscape, and the difficulties of piloting a boat up the Congo.

The Landscape Futures Night School kicks off at 6:00pm; however, you must RSVP if you would like to attend: studioxnyc AT gmail DOT com.

[Images: Spreads from Geologic City by Smudge Studio].

Next week, meanwhile, we will be hosting a launch party for Smudge Studio's new pamphlet, Geologic City, a look at the rocky underpinnings of New York, both temporary & abstract (gold reserves, fiber optics, magnetic strips on subway cards) and massively real (bedrock, landslides, urban mineralogy). Jamie Kruse and Elizabeth Ellsworth of Smudge Studio—co-authors of the blog Friends of the Pleistocene—will guide attendees through the pamphlet, as well as through the deep time of the city, utilizing Studio-X NYC's 16th-floor windows overlooking southwestern Manhattan and the Hudson River to point out specific sites of geological influence on New York itself.

Jamie and Liz will be joined by Meg Studer, a designer and cartographer with a sustained interest in ecological systems; and Kevin Allen, a sound artist working with terrestrial acoustics. Together, Geologic City, Meg Studer's maps of the road-salt industry, and Kevin Allen's sonic installation will remain in Studio-X NYC for two weeks, open to public view.

[Images: Salt maps by Meg Studer].

Also on our schedule for the near future is an evening with photographer Simon Norfolk, whose work should be familiar to long-term readers of this site; BLDGBLOG's 2006 interview with Simon is still one of my personal favorites, and is well worth reading in full. Simon will be engaged in a wide-ranging discussion with both myself and Noah Shachtman—editor of Wired's excellent blog Danger Room—and this will kick off a year-long series of events themed around conflict and the city: urban military action, urban violence, urban police technology, urban warfare, divided cities, and much more. (While he's in town, don't miss Simon's lecture at the School of the Visual Arts on Wednesday, September 14).

The rest of the autumn promises a huge array of exhibitions, events, and public meetings—design charrettes, walking tours, all-day interviews, film fests, panel discussions, standalone lectures, slideshows, night schools, and more. To whet your appetite, our schedule is currently shaping up with a distributed film festival, exploring bank heists and prison breaks as architectural phenomena, co-organized with Filmmaker Magazine; a series of literary launches hosted in collaboration with GQ and Farrar, Straus and Giroux; live conversations with Benjamin Bratton, Luis Callejas, Christian Parenti, Janette Kim, Chris Woebken, Bernard Tschumi, and Sam Jacob, among many others; and much else beside, including ongoing collaborations with the GSAPP's own stellar faculty.

In any case, I'll be reporting back regularly about goings-on at Studio-X NYC—though you can also follow us on Twitter for updates and urban links—and keep your eyes out for the launch of a new cities blog, published by the Studio-X global network, later this fall. And, now that Landscape Futures is finally open in Reno and our move to the east coast is nearing completion, I will be back to posting on BLDGBLOG at a more normal pace next week.

***All events at Studio-X NYC are free, open to the public, and take place at 180 Varick St, Suite 1610, in New York. Here is a map. Unfortunately, at least for the time being, we reluctantly require an RSVP to studioxnyc AT gmail DOT com with your name and the event you would like to attend. Thanks!***

0 Google Indexes Images a Lot Faster

Google Image Search used to have an index that wasn't updated too often. At some point, Google started to include images from Google News articles, so you could find images from recent events.



Now Google Image Search's index updates in real-time for many pages, just like the Web Search index. A few minutes after publishing a post, I was really surprised to see that an image from the post was already indexed by Google.





A search for [cartoon] restricted to the past hour returns 41 images and not all of them are from news articles and blog posts. Google Image Search still doesn't index all the images as soon as the pages are indexed by Google, but the improvements are noticeable.

0 Slide's Apps to Be Discontinued

One year ago, Google acquired Slide, a company that developed third-party apps for Facebook and other social networks. At that time, Google mentioned that the goal was to "make Google services socially aware". Slide continued to operate as an independent start-up inside Google and developed photo sharing apps like Photovine and Pool Party. Slide's CEO, Max Levchin, became VP of engineering at Google.



New York Times reports that Max Levchin will leave Google and most of the Slide apps will be discontinued. A Slide blog post confirms that "in the coming months, a number of Slide's products and applications will be retired. This includes Slide's products such as Slideshow and SuperPoke! Pets, as well as more recent products such as Photovine, Video Inbox and Pool Party." Slide's team says that "many of these products are no longer as active or haven't caught on as we originally hoped".





A Google spokesperson informed the New York Times that most of the Slide team will continue to work at Google and many engineers will join YouTube. If Slide was a talent acquisition, then why Slide's team didn't work on Google+ and why popular games like SuperPoke weren't ported to Google+?



AllThingsD offers some answers: "Although Slide as an independent start-up had not matched its lofty expectations and valuations — at as much as $500 million in a 2008 funding round — its acquisition brought Google some key assets: Social Web expertise at a time when it was dearly needed, and Levchin, who famously founded PayPal. But that was last August. Since then, Google has entrusted its social efforts to two of its existing executives, Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz, who led the team that created Google+. Levchin was left on the fringes with Slide as an autonomous subsidiary, reporting to Google co-founder Sergey Brin."

0 Google Calendar Grays Out Old Events

Google Calendar found a way to separate old events from upcoming events: old events are now grayed out. The interface also grays out future recurring events because it's likely that they're less important (this was an experimental feature in Google Calendar Labs).





If you don't like the new features, it's easy to disable them: go to the "Options" menu from Google Calendar's navigation bar, select "Calendar settings", go to the "Event dimming" section and disable these two options: "Dim past events" and "Dim recurring future events".





Google says that the brightness of these events is reduced "so you can focus on today", although you'll be able to better focus on the future, as well.



{ Thanks, Cougar. }

0 How Resistance Kills our Flow



When we don’t like the circumstances of our lives our natural tendency is to resist or fight them. The irony of this is that when we fight against the things that we don’t want or don’t like in our lives we tend to perpetuate their existence. It doesn’t really make logical sense, but then again nothing about this journey through life seems to until we’re past our current obstacle. It’s only when we look back we can see that many of our biggest problems are the biggest blessings in disguise.



Resistance is a form of friction and it slows your progress.




Resistance

When you’re busy fighting the way things are and resisting the circumstances of your life you get caught inside your problems. Instead of moving forward you stay stuck and you kill your flow.



It’s something that I’ve been experiencing first hand lately. I’ve been trapped in a comparative and competitive disadvantage by looking at the stories of other people’s success and wondering why mine isn’t one of them yet. If you look at this closely, you can see this line of thinking makes no logical sense either. Beating yourself up for the way things are or for not being the way you want them to be is just another form of resistance.



True progress can’t possibly made when you’re operating from a place of resistance. It’s like attempting to drive a car with the breaks on. You’re going to burn gas, screw up the engine, and stay stuck.



Take Your Foot off the Brake


Our desire to be in complete control of everything is another interesting one. It’s the catch-22 on the never ending journey of personal development. You start the journey in order to take control of your life only to realize that the key to taking control is letting go of your desire to control everything. Once you take your foot off the brake however, the car seems to move effortlessly.



When we do the same thing in life we tend to get our groove back, so to speak. But, it’s easier said than done. While we know logically that there’s no sense worrying about the things we can’t change, we do it anyways. It’s like an annoying add-on feature of the human brain that was intended to serve some useful purpose, but is actually a nuisance more often than not.



So, how do we take our foot off the break? It’s simple but not easy. You’ve probably heard the saying before that “this too shall pass.”



Time Heals Wounds

A year from now what matters today probably won’t. Five years from now what matters a year from now won’t. Ten years from now what matters five years from now probably won’t. Part of why we have such a hard time resisting the temptation to dwell on our problems is that we project the problems today into tomorrow and beyond. We think about their impact as if it's something that will grow with time. This might be true when it comes to goal setting and momentum, but when it comes to problems, time causes them to lose their power over us. As much as the failures that have led me to where I’m at today impacted me, I can’t imagine my life without them. They’ve inspired the future that came after them.



When you stop resisting the circumstances of your life, a blank canvas of possibility will open you. The more you’re willing to veer off the beaten path, take the scenic route through life, and chase dreams, you get an opportunity to find out what you’re really made of and tap into your limitless potential.



Take your shot and see what happens!



Written on 8/29/2011 by Srinivas Rao. Srinivas is the author of the Skool of Life, where he writes about surfing, personal development, and things you never learned in school but should have. If you’re ready to to become a student, check out his FREE course on the 7 most valuable lessons they never taught in school. You can follow him on twitter @skooloflife.Photo Credit: www.hansvink.nl


Minggu, 28 Agustus 2011

0 Polygon Sublime

[Image: Via Jim Rossignol/Big Robot].

"Having stripped everything out of game two, except the terrain," game developer Jim Rossignol recently tweeted, "we again are left with a geometric painterliness. I am actually happy just wandering around these spaces, discovering extraordinary formations and unexpected floating mesas."

0 Fake Lake

[Image: A satellite view of the corporate water feature become roadway hazard thanks to a landscaping crew in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania].

Out in the suburbs, where we've temporarily taken up shop on our way to New York City, the damage of Hurricane Irene has mostly been limited to large fallen branches on wooded roads, with the necessary but unexpected orange cones, caution tape, wrongway turns, and over-hill detours associated with such minor obstacles.

Is there an oral history of road detours—the friends met, the appointments missed, the geographies discovered—and, if not, should one be written?

But I was thrilled by the oddly Ballardian experience today of driving around on a spectacular and cloudless post-storm evening to see that two landscapers working overtime had begun to pump the flooded excess from an artificial corporate lake—a kind of ornamental moat surrounding an office complex in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania—directly onto the street.

Cars were braking and swerving out of their lanes as the roadway flooded, and this doubly-fake water feature visibly bloated, engulfing two lanes of traffic, even as the artificial lake from whence it came seemed to recede, deflating back to preplanned limits amidst the sculpted hills and parking lots.

Sabtu, 27 Agustus 2011

0 Urban Hurricane

[Image: Photo by Chris Woebken, from his Flickr account].

I'm sitting out the winds of Hurricane Irene in the suburbs of Philadelphia, where the basement of this house is starting to flood, a siren is going off somewhere, and the power has flickered off—and on, and off, and on—for the last hour, though the full brunt of the storm has yet to hit.

But everything I own is in a creekside storage depot in Queens, as we wait to move into our new place next week; I'm thus finding it hard to fall asleep thinking of the fact that we've moved back to the east coast just in time, potentially, to have everything ruined and swept away into an industrial canal in New York City. But that's the way things go.
   [Image: Photo by Chris Woebken, from his Flickr account].

In any case, artist Chris Woebken, with whom I've had the pleasure of working as part of the Landscape Futures exhibition over in Reno, has been posting some photos today, showing New York City on lockdown, with plywood walls appearing in what once were windows and new facades popping up in a flash atop old storefronts.

Extreme weather brings its own architectural ornament, a whole family of plug-in and bolt-on designs that would otherwise have lain dormant as everyday materials, sleeping on the shelves of Home Depot.

The photos in this post are by Chris Woebken, and are taken from his Flickr account.
   [Image: Photo by Chris Woebken, from his Flickr account].

But being back out in the suburbs of my teenage years—and hurriedly evacuating the family basement—also means that I've stumbled upon a bunch of old books, and it seems vaguely appropriate to quote a brief excerpt from a poem by John Balaban.

Balaban treats the impending weather above him as a kind of aerial organism, a gargantuan meteorology of displaced marine life passing ominously through the sky:
Toward dawn, two nimbus clouds drifted in,
the larger—trailing down tendrils of rain
like a Portuguese man-o'-war—began to pulse
with lightning, brightening its belly like a huge lantern,
arcing a jagged streak
to ignite the smaller cloud.
Pulsing and flaring, striking each other,
dragging the earth with rain,
they drifted off over the mountains.
All about them the sky was clear.
The storm is a memorable presence, entering lives and leaving again, both animate and terrible.
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