Blog

Improving at Floorball

Last night was the third night of floorball at Mulgrave School in West Vancouver, where as usual we had 20 minutes of drills and warmup and played what seemed like an unending game. I got one or two assists, depending on how you define assist. (Is it like hockey where if you set up the guy who gets the first assist, you also get an assist?) I didn't score, but came close 3 times, and was really happy about the chances, as I had just the right amount of patience and was open for just long enough to turn around and take a shot. The first shot went off the cross-bar (almost perfect placement!) and another sailed past the post. (Last week, just to keep track, I scored a goal and got one assist.) I'm liking the drills quite a bit, and can sense improvement in my game. I still have no idea where I'm supposed to be, that is, what position I should be in during each situation. I remembered the basketball practices in high school that would be only a short warmup and then purely strategy: where we were supposed to be in set plays for offense and defense. That is, no 3-on-2-2-on-1 drills (my absolute favorite basketball drill, where the 3 players run down the court against 2 defenders, then the shooter goes back on defense while the 2 former defenders switch to offense going the other way). I don't know if I'll get to have one of those strategy practices—no, the correct, European word is "training—but for this session I'm happy to work on skill development. I'm at the point where I can feel cool passing back and forth in warmup with players that have played for more than a decade, and I'm getting better at patience with the ball and shot accuracy. Defense is something I'm learning by watching the Swiss and Swedish players, then trying to copy what they do, with limited success. They haven't announced it yet on the BC Floorball blog, but with the strike over, floorball returns to the Roundhouse in Vancouver's Yaletown on Mondays. With dragon boating over, I'm looking forward to having that as my second weekly cardio workout, at least until it snows on the mountains enough for me to g snowshoeing on the weekend.

One Week Documenting My World With a Nokia N95

Along with Kris, Roland, Dave, and Rebecca, I'm participating in a week-long Simon Fraser University research project centered around social media and the Nokia N95, a feature-rich mobile phone that takes amazing photos, acts as a media (video and audio) player, and tracks my movements. After two days of playing around with it, I've walked around my neighbourhood, taken video of trains, mapped out my morning commute to work and the full length of the 101 bus from 22nd Street Station to Lougheed Station. Bus routes are boring, I know, since they're already well-documented by the people that operate them, but I endeavor to accurately map my bike route using satellite technology, rather than draw it imprecisely by hand based on memory.

Ideally I'd be using some of the location tools built for Drupal to map out my adventures on my site using external services like Google Maps or Google Earth. Using these tools, either Drupal or the external services, would then spit out RSS and other XML-based feeds so that others can take the information and remix it somehow. In fact exactly a year ago today I wrote (Re-)Documenting My World With Drupal and the Nokia N95, which laid out a rough recipe of how that might happen. The development of some of the tools have atrophied (e.g. Aggregator2), but others—especially the Drupal core CMS and map creation services—have matured and people are finally baking location into the web. A week isn't long enough to get these things humming, though.

Impressions of the "phone":

  • the S60 user interface is still non-obvious and therefore hard to use
  • beautiful photos from a camera with an autofocus that I can't get the hang of
  • I can't take photos at all while tracking my movements with Sports Tracker, though that application is cool, giving you graphs of speed and altitude over time, exporting into multiple formats so that you can, for example, display them on Google Earth
  • everything's faster and better than my regular luxury phone, the Nokia N70
  • absent a data plan, having wi-fi that works on my phone rocks compared to not being able to get instructions to share an internet connection with an N70 working
  • vibrating when turning the thing on scares the crap out of me

Rebecca started things off accurately calling the research project a 'taste test', and has been posting photos of her travels around the Vancouver area. If it wasn't for Roland, I'd be using about half of the functionality that I'm currently using. He has his first day Blink! reaction and sober second day thoughts. I'm looking forward to hearing from Kris and Dave, who are most likely to document with video.

We Are Traffic: My First Critical Mass

Last night I biked from work over to the lions side of the Vancouver Art Gallery and participated in my first Critical Mass. Billed as a decentralized large group bike ride with no pre-determined route featuring anybody with self-propelled commuting, Critical Mass enjoys a 15 year existence, starting in the streets of San Francisco. My bike, a few months old and newly tuned up, performed brilliantly, but I can't say the same for my girlfriend's. She lost a part somewhere along the way, and was unable to shift, making her fearless gearless, though thankfully with brakes. We biked down Robson, turning left on Jervis, making our way down Davie (I think), then crossing the Burrard Street Bridge, riding down much of Broadway, and finally turning onto Yukon where we got off at 11th, where we were jokingly called "splitters". Impressions? I liked not having to worry about cars, and felt like a big man when I rode ever so briefly on the wrong side of the road while coming off the Burrard Bridge. I also liked making lots of noise with my bell and hearing the honks in support from oncoming traffic. There were at least two unpleasant encounters: one guy sped dangerously around bikers planted in front of him, only to end up at a red light; and a lady driver honked angrily at the woman in the car in front of her, bikers mistakenly interpreting as a positive honk in their direction. One other dude taunted oncoming traffic by telling them cars suck. I've posted two videos, one heading down towards Burrard Bridge then halfway up it, and another heading down the bridge.

BC Floorball Announces League, Drop-Ins with Drills, and Youth Program

Last night floorball started back up again at Mulgrave School in West Vancouver, this time with a twist on the original drop-ins I was participating in earlier in the year. Now they have full session sign-ups, and each drop-in begins with 15-20 minutes of drills. Perfect! I'm still a floorball newbie, and having some practice time with long-time players watching over should add some polish to my very rough floor hockey edges. Starting with last night's games' two goals and one assist, I'm keeping track of my points so that I can look back and see how I did over a "season". The BC Floorball Federation is also organizing a Vancouver floorball league, which declared its opening night's success. They're also organizing a youth floorball program for 12-14 year olds so that they can learn the basics of the game at a time when they're just starting to get serious about sports. Congratulations are due to the BC Floorball Federation on the growth of the sport in the Lower Mainland: as far as I can tell, they're very serious about using all the tools to market the sport to British Columbians, using newspapers and online social networking tools like blogging (all the links here are to their blog) and other applications like Facebook.

My Bike Commute is 10.8 KM One Way, 8.5 the Other Way

You know how people exaggerate the olden days by saying they had to walk to school uphill both ways? Well my biking commute is almost like that: on the way to work it's downhill most of the way save for an uphill climb at Lakewood Drive, where on the way back it's uphill approaching Commercial, then downhill after Renfrew and then back uphill, then, saving the worst for last, a steep uphill climb at Boundary and Union in Burnaby. Like Roland, I drew my bike route on Google Maps, but I drew both my to and from work routes. (To work is in red, from work is in blue.) According to Google Calculator, my commute to work is 10.8 KM, and 8.5 KM back home. (I typed in "6.71 miles in kilometers" and "5.31 miles in kilometers" and rounded off the answers.) Because there are more hills on the shorter route, both directions take about the same time, from 45 minutes to an hour each. Two Google maps after the break.

View Larger Map

View Larger Map

As you can see, the route to work takes me next to Burrard Inlet and underneath the Second Narrows Bridge, technically over the train bridge and under the road bridge. It therefore takes me near boats and trains, and sometimes big ocean liners.

Those serious about biking should pick up the paper copy of the TransLink biking map. It's very detailed, with many types of bike routes—on street, off street, and alternate routes, with hills and caution areas noted.

Should

I'm playing around with Should Do This today, another offering from the Robot Co-op, makers of 43 Things, 43 Places, and 43 People (but not 43 Thongs). Common Craft is using this as their suggestion box, and I've added suggestion boxes for TransLink and KEXP. (I represent neither.) A few of them were originally blog posts, that is, my having gone through my blog searching for the word 'should' and adding it to Should Do This. People and organizations often do the right thing because it also solves a problem for them or they benefit from it directly, though, so it might be more useful for TransLink if I told them why they should hire a social media/community manager to blog and respond to others' blogs and include their trip planning data in Google Transit. You can find my 'shoulds' using the usual handle, which you can subscribe to via RSS.

Writers Fest in October

During most of the third week of October I'll be in Toronto, so I'll miss most of the Vancouver International Writers Festival from Tuesday Oct. 16th to Sunday the 21st. (Vancouver festivals seem to pick four-letter .org domains starting with v and ending with f for their websites, but somewhat surprisingly, viwf.org is available.) I will try to make the Saturday and Sunday events, though. I know some people who are going to some of it while I'm gone, and they have a tendency to document well the events they attend, either in words or with pictures. The festival's website is spunky, powered by Drupal no less.

Help Ruk with Python on his S60 phone

Any S60 Python developers out there can help Ruk out with a problem sending SMS messages with his Nokia N70? One of the reasons I got a S60 phone was to learn Python. (So much for that.) Ruk got sending text messages from his Mac computer through his phone via Bluetooth by asking the his readers (you have to visit the comments for the answer, since he didn't update the post with the question itself. I still have yet to get his instructions on getting Internet using my computer via Bluetooth on my N70 to work.

Stacy

I've finally checked out Darren Barefoot's Gnomedex talk about geeks doing good, where he invents a currency called the Stacy, named after a woman he helps feed sometimes in Vancouver, designed to track how much good you do. The talk has helped inspire some good deeds already, including delivering pizzas to Pigeon Park in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside (instead of participating in the BarCamp Vancouver thread where the idea first appeared, I decided to donate to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank). Since reading Social Acupuncture, I've dropped my objection to talking about the good deeds people have done as self-serving, since done right bragging about doing good can influence people others to do so as well. I'm not going to keep track of whatever good it is I do: I lie enough to people asking me for change that I'm sure it balances out in the end.

Quoted in The Globe and Mail about the OK Button

OK

In Friday's edition of The Globe and Mail, Canada's oldest national newspaper, I was interviewed and quoted about the OK Button, a social experiment in which wearers signal that it's okay to strike up a conversation with them. I'm reported to have said something like the following: "[I wear the button] to keep myself accountable when people do want to talk to me." After growing up in Courtenay, B.C., "I'm still used to giving people a signal on the street that acknowledges that they exist." The story appeared in the second last page of the entire paper (not just the front section), and can be read online, at least for the time being. Vancouver blogger Lesli has a copy of the article as well as some commentary about the OK button: “I don't think buttons or a capitalist scheme are necessarly the answer, but perhaps we've come to the part where neighbourliness and smiling require a viral marketing campaign?” I'm pretty sure I heard about the OK Button through Djun. The timestamp on his post is later than I remember, but the earliest I documented having a button was January 7th, 2007.

Two Late Podcast Pickups

I've stopped listening to none of the podcasts listed in earlier installment of my monthly podcast subscriptions list, but did add two early this month just in time for this month's rundown:

  • A Buddhist Podcast (podcast feed), but so far haven't listened to any of the episodes. If you know of any complimentary (or better) podcasts, please add a link to them in the comments. I'm looking for light fare, since all I've read on the subject is Buddhism Plain & Simple by Steve Hagen.
  • AP Radio (podcast feed) by The Aesthetic Poetic, a group blog written by Vancouverites Matthew Nelson, Douglas Haddow, Kristen Dyck, William Campbell, and Alex Munro. Favourite episode so far: hiphop butters, with, except for an out-of-place RJD2, very Pete Rock-esque productions throughout.

Edmonton's TransLink Trolley

Through a submission to the Vancouver Transit Flickr group, I found out that earlier this year TransLink lent Edmonton a New Flyer trolley. A photo of it in service has a bunch of comments, and in the first one, Stephen Rees exclaimed that Vancouver is short already (original comment). The Edmonton Transit group on Flickr isn't as vibrant as the one I started for the Lower Mainland (which I modeled after Toronto's), but the city has a small variety of transit modes: trolleys, buses and light rail, and at one time, like Vancouver, streetcars.

HDR

Rebecca points us to Duane Storey's photography site and his introductory blog post. Rebecca mentions that most of Duane's photos are HDR, or high dynamic range, which, if I understand it correctly, combines multiple photos of the identical scene (usually taken with a tripod or a very stable camera) taken at different exposures, some over-exposed and others under-exposed. Duane presented at BarCamp Vancouver on the subject, the projection on the wall didn't lend well to HDR. Does this blog post qualify me for a free print? And can I choose from Duane's set of HDR photos (mostly of Vancouver)?

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