Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Rebirth of Cities

The Next Slum?

Pent-up demand for urban living is evident in housing prices. Twenty years ago, urban housing was a bargain in most central cities. Today, it carries an enormous price premium. Per square foot, urban residential neighborhood space goes for 40 percent to 200 percent more than traditional suburban space in areas as diverse as New York City; Portland, Oregon; Seattle; and Washington, D.C.

It's crucial to note that these premiums have arisen not only in central cities, but also in suburban towns that have walkable urban centers offering a mix of residential and commercial development.
Perhaps most important, the shift to walkable urban environments will give more people what they seem to want. I doubt the swing toward urban living will ever proceed as far as the swing toward the suburbs did in the 20th century; many people will still prefer the bigger houses and car-based lifestyles of conventional suburbs. But there will almost certainly be more of a balance between walkable and drivable communities—allowing people in most areas a wider variety of choices.

Related: Urban Planning - Traffic Congestion and a Non-Solution - The Economic Benefits of Walkable Communities - Designing Cities for People, Rather than Cars - How Walkable is Your Prospective Neighborhood - housing articles - Car-free zones - The Case for Physically Separated Bike Lanes

Monday, April 14, 2008

Music Magic

I recently bought some new speakers for my computer based on recommendations: Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 THX. I find them excellent but I must admit I am not a very discriminating audiophile. I also found a nice new site to take advantage of the new speakers: Jango. Essentially this site lets you select a list of artist you like. They then play music by those artist and other artists like by those that like your list (I imagine). There are no ads. My guess is they make money when you buy music through the site (and probably have, or will get) special payment to promote some artists.

Related: gadgets and gifts - Hug Shirt

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Freedom Increasingly at Risk

It is sad that our government being the risk to our own freedom is rising. I remember 10 years ago understanding that the risks to our freedom due to government action were minor. The real risk to freedom were from criminals forcing people to restrict their activity for fear of becoming a victim. The protections from government, so dear to those escaping the rule of Kings, seemed outdated.

Sadly I have to say we have entered a new era where the freedoms granted by the constitution, for freedom from government abusing our rights, is a serious danger. I am amazed this has come to be, honestly. I did not anticipate serious threat of government restrictions on freedoms.

Freedom granted by The First Amendment is not guaranteed in practice. If people allow government to become less and less accountable for unacceptable behavior those freedoms disappear.

"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty" - Wendell Phillips
which is often quoted as "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance" and attributed to Thomas Jefferson

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. - Richard Jackson (maybe)

We have been lucky enough that the threats to government restrictions on freedom have been low. Our lack of vigilance did not do much harm. But those that treasure what our constitution has created for over 200 years should heed the guidance now. The cost of our complacency will not be apparent until the forces against freedom have great momentum. It seems to me that evidence is piling up quite quickly. And the price for continued complacency will be steep.

So About That Tree of Liberty...

Of course, the real irony here is that all of this happened at the Jefferson Memorial, in observance of Jefferson’s birthday. Go out to celebrate the birth of the most hardcore, anti-authoritarian of the Founding Fathers, get hauled off in handcuffs. The photo’s almost poetry, isn’t it? One of history’s most articulate critics of abuse of state authority looks on as a park police cop uses his elbow to push a female arrestee into one of said critic’s memorial pillars.

Related: Tired of Incompetent Government Harassment - Quarantining dissent - Arrested Bush dissenters look to the courts - Orwellian "Free Speech Zones" violate the constitution - SWAT Raids, government failures - Dancing fools - The Photographer’s Right - HOWTO resist warrantless searches at Best Buy

"First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak out for me."
Martin Niemoeller

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Maximize Firefox Using about:config

Maximize Firefox Without Extensions Using about:config

If you type about:config in your address bar, Firefox opens the master directory of user-defined preferences and built-in settings. The ultimate arena for performance tampering, the about:config settings are the foundation for programming Firefox extensions.
To modify about:config, pull it up using your address bar. The settings appear in a searchable list view.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Importance of Search Rankings

Attention Website Owners: If You Aren’t on Google’s First Page, You’re Dead to Us

You can have the most attractive website of all your competitors. You can hire usability experts, professional photographers, and the greatest PHP developers money can buy. If you aren’t on the first page of Google, you might as well be from Mars. Sorry.

While it is true many people do not look past the first page some could be mislead by wasting time on usability... You don't say wasting time but imply it is the wrong focus.

Some reasons why you might want to consider usability important:

1) let even say you are on the first page of Google - just getting them to click on the results and visit your site is probably not the goal. You want them to do something. Not flee your site immediately.

2) Search results are not your only source of visitors. Taking care of those that visit is important (so don't think of search results as the only measure of your success).

3) Inbound links can certainly be impacted positively by having a usable site with valuable content (which will increase those visitors mentioned in item 2) and increase your search ranking.