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.
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.
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.
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.
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.