Sometimes the light’s all shining on me

I’ve been trying hard to take more photos – if not daily, as close to as possible. Sometimes nothing catches my eye. Then there are days like today where I come across an embarrassment of riches:

Crossed wired

I caught this on the way into the office from coffee this morning. In real life, the sunlight was glinting off the wires, making them appear to glow. That wasn’t captured in the shot, so I processed this to give them the glow. I dig how the point of the building behind fits snugly into the intersection of the bus wires.

I had wires on the brain then. On our way to lunch, we crossed this alley:
Old wires, new towers
Vancouver’s apparently going to be pulling down this old infrastructure and will bury the wires. But I love the character these old poles give our alleys, and now, with all the new buildings, the play between the clean, modern, angular towers and the somewhat rickety, right-angle-free power lines is enchanting. I edited to get this scratchy/old look to emphasize those differences.

Continuing our theme of electricity, we had lunch at Sunset Burger a newish place on Nelson, with a definite California 80’s theme:


I didn’t do anything but apply an instagram frame/filter to this, but I don’t think it needed much.

After lunch I had to run an errand and just happened to walk under this:
Conical #lookup

I’ve worked in this neighbourhood for 15 years, and I’ve never been under this, nor into the Centre. I’m not thrilled with this photo, but it was a neat view to discover today.

My errand took me to the Central Post office:
Design of future past
I love the interplay of the at-angle, interlocking tile decoration above the flat utilitarian spread of post boxes. Gorgeous texture, and, in the glinting sunlight pouring in from outside, brilliant in the otherwise shadowed entry hall.  I wanted to soften this one, and I selectively darkened the right-side (the hall) in snap-seed to further enhance the shiny of the boxes & tiles.

Finally, on the way back to the office I caught this:
I love kaitlin #signage ad? Art?
And how could I not snap it? It’s intriguing? I’ve no idea if its a real message, or part of an ongoing ad campaign, or an art project? Again, just a quick snap. The poster itself is much more red than this filter would indicate.
In toronto, growing up, the bus-shelter ad-firm ran a series of ads that were a long these lines – a divorce + reconciliation or something that had the whole city talking because it was weeks before it was revealed what was behind the campaign – the point of which was exactly what it achieved – transit advertising gets both eyeballs and discussion (if anyone can find a link to some photos of those, it would be awesome. My Google-fu has failed me on finding it).

Introducing: Where Post?

Where Post? is a small web-app I wrote over a couple of evenings this week to serve a very particular purpose: To help me, and anyone else, find their nearest mailbox.

The site should work on iPhones, Windows Phones & Androids. It’s meant to run as an app, so you can install it to your home screen for the greatest effect.

There are currently 2 ways of adding new mailboxes – as time permits, I’ll add more:

  1. In the app: to add a new mailbox, click on the “+” at bottom right, then click on the map where you know there’s a box. If you like, add some notes like “next to the garbage can” or “across the street from the pink house” to help people find it.
  2. Instagram: You can also take a picture of a mailbox on instagram, tag it #wherepost and include a location. A mailbox, with the photo you took, will be added at that location. Your photo’s caption will become the notes for the mailbox. I think it’s a fun use of the instagram API.

Of course, you can also simply find directions to the nearest mailbox to you. Just click on the magnifying glass, and Where Post? will provide you with walking directions to the nearest box (within 2km).

The app is very much a work-in-progress – to come is the ability to add in Post Offices, as well as pick-up/drop-off locations for the various courier companies, so that eventually, it’s a one-stop place to go to find where to send something from. Any and all feedback is much appreciated. In particular, if you know how to change the cursor icon in Google Maps v3, I’d love to know how.

So please have a look, play with it and send me any feedback you might have!

User Control over the Granularity of Location Services

I use a lot of location services on my phone: when I tweet, more often than not, I include my location. I love geo-tagging my photos, so I generally include my location when using instagram, Hipstamatic, etc. & I regularly check in on Gowalla & Foursquare. So I’m not averse to sharing my location in general. I actually quite like it. That being said, I often wish I could be less specific about where I am. I don’t think it would be too hard to add a little slider, or some interface, to provide some scale.

By default, we send data for a point. But what if I could choose to send data at a variety of scales: point, neighborhood, city, region, province/state.

I suppose the particular use-case for this to avoid sending the exact location of my house – I do it, somewhat inadvertently, but I could imagine not ever wanting to do it. But still, letting people know that I am currently in South Vancouver (neighborhood), or Vancouver (city), or Lower Mainland (region), or BC (province/state), rather than my location within 100 metres should be perfectly acceptable data points – and gives me some control over the specificity of my data points.

In the above example, it is up to the app developer to provide scale/fudge-factor options. But we could abstract this farther, and make it a device-wide setting. My phone, via GPS, can always tell where I am. What if I could, device-wide, say “When in these areas, broadcast my location with much less specificity. That way, when I’m actually at home, it could automatically just send, say “Vancouver”, rather than my location. And by letting me choose where I want to reduce specificity, I still have the control – I set it up in my settings or preferences.

I suspect there’s a variety of implementation details that I haven’t really thought through, but I do think that this is an issue that if not the device (/OS) makers need to address, than app-developers do. Let me participate in location services, but at my security level – not what you’d ideally want. It’s a users-first approach to location, rather than data-first.

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