Sliding walls, multiple rooms

 

I read this post over at The Tiny Life blog today, about a Hong Kong apartment that used sliding walls to change the room’s function. These walls aren’t just a board, though, but furniture, rather.

Here, watch these two videos about it.

I personally didn’t like moving them the way that guy does, since he seems to needs to be careful moving the things or they’ll lock inplace because of not being parallel to the tracks. I think it’s better to do it with a mechanism, like the high density mobile storage systems, which this architect seems to have drawn a lot of inspiration from.

There’s also a side-sliding one but will become more efficient the longer your wall is, which is unlikely it will be very much in a small home. Still, it at least adds 50% more storage to a shelving unit, as long as you can do without the extra space it takes in front of the original one.

Actually those storage systems would be great for any apartment and, I don’t know the prices, but would probably be available in small sizes and few units so that they’re useful in a home application.

Stewart Brand’s How Buildings Learn, a BBC documentary

 

It’s quite a nice series and I enjoyed it. Here’s what the author said in his description of the show over at Google Video:

This six-part, three-hour, BBC TV series aired in 1997. I presented and co-wrote the series; it was directed by James Muncie, with music by Brian Eno. The series was based on my 1994 book, HOW BUILDINGS LEARN: What Happens After They’re Built. The book is still selling well and is used as a text in some college courses. Most of the 27 reviews on Amazon treat it as a book about system and software design, which tells me that architects are not as alert as computer people. But I knew that; that’s part of why I wrote the book. Anybody is welcome to use anything from this series in any way they like. Please don’t bug me with requests for permission. Hack away. Do credit the BBC, who put considerable time and talent into the project. Historic note: this was one of the first television productions made entirely in digital— shot digital, edited digital. The project wound up with not enough money, so digital was the workaround. The camera was so small that we seldom had to ask permission to shoot; everybody thought we were tourists. No film or sound crew. Everything technical on site was done by editors, writers, directors. That’s why the sound is a little sketchy, but there’s also some direct perception in the filming that is unusual.

Part 1: Flow

Part 2: The Low Road

Part 3: Built For Change

Part 4: Unreal Estate

Part 5: The Romance of Maintenance

Part 6: Shearing Layers

What did you like -or didn’t- about it?

The Cove movie may not be good enough

 

A few days ago I posted some thoughts on The Cove Movie in my Facebook profile and shared it with some friends to spread the word.

One of them, an American living in Japan, didn’t like the documentary. I would have thought he’d want to share it with his Japanese contacts in order to raise awareness, but that wasn’t the case. He was actually upset. I think we had a good conversation that I’d like others to read as well, but I won’t share his identity.

Here’s what he said after I sent him the link to the movie’s page:

Problem is Japan isn’t the only country whaling and killing dolphins. Other countries in northern Europe do it too. Japan is just an easier target for waste-of-time/money groups like Sea Shepherd and Green Peace. If you’re going to pick on Japan, pick on the other countries doing the same thing too I say.

I didn’t agree with that, really, and so I told him:

Oh, man, you know how I love Japan. I’m not picking on it. I am aware of how nice Japanese people are! It’s not “Japan”, it’s just a little group of people in a town there, and that’s what that movie focuses on.

I know there is more going on elsewhere, and it is my hope to do something about them all, I want this planet to be much better for every living thing, but one takes these things on one at a time. This time I found this movie and wanted to pass it on.

I can’t go there to do something physical, but I have communication. Knowledge is very powerful, but the Japanese are not aware of what goes on in that place, because they’re not told. I know how good people the Japanese are and that they’d disapprove it if they were aware, and all my intention when I tagged you with this, was to tell you so that you could tell others there.

I know that if someone showed me something wrong going on in my country, hidden from people so it’s not protested against, I would, at the very least, tell people around me to create awareness of the issue. This would open the door to eventually stop that activity.

To which he had a few more things to say:

Another reason the Cove pissed me off was their practices in making it. Lying to the people of Taiji and other officials who appeared in the film telling they were not there to portray the town in a negative light.

Also, bringing that chick from Heroes (the cheerleader one) to tag along with the camera crew when she had no business doing it. What, cause she’s a surfer and loves dolphins? Using her fame from Heroes (a show I choose to no longer support) to spread the word about a town in Japan that everyone watching this movie can never really know anything about because they are not a part of the community and they’re only seeing one side that the filmmakers chose to show.

What, was she there to save the “cute little dolphins” (as she was quoted for putting it). Why doesn’t she go save the cute little kangaroos and koalas getting killed while she’s at it? At the end of the day, I felt like she wouldn’t have gotten on the camera crew if it were shooting in some little town in Iceland, but that the Japanese are seen as weak and feeble so they are easier targets and she thought they could save the dolphins.

I’m not saying the oikomi technique of killing dolphins that the people in the village in Wakayama prefecture have been doing since the 1600s isn’t cruel to animals, but then what about the genocide of kangaroos and koalas down in Australia? Or more comparatively, what about traditional spear fishing by the Native American Indians in North America? Or better yet, “There are some countries that eat cows, and there are other countries that eat whales or dolphins,” said Yutaka Aoki, fisheries division director at the Foreign Ministry. “A film about slaughtering cows or pigs might also be unwelcome to workers in that industry.” I agree with Ms. Aoki.

I think the people in Taiji were used as an example to push an agenda that however noble it may be, the techniques the filmmakers used were sneaky and unethical, not to mention bringing the cheerleader chick from heroes on board to get more teens interested was a cheap shot. You don’t see any cute cheerleaders going out to save some cows, when the systemized slaughter of cattle across the world is happening every second. And back to the koala/kangaroo killing. Mass killing for population control? Isn’t killing animals just killing animals at the end of the day?

I don’t agree with places like Sea World either. In fact I went to a sea park last summer and did my best to smile my way through it cause [my girlfriend] was having fun but meanwhile I was thinking to myself how miserable the animals must have been. Knowledge is power, and internet communication is a great tool for spreading the word, but the thing about Japan is they are not eating dolphin or whale everyday. [My girlfriend] has never eaten whale in her life. And the Japanese know about Taiji village. They just choose to let it practice its tradition without interfering.

I’m sorry if my reply is coming off as angry at you personally. I’m not angry at you, my friend. I’m angry at the makers of this film using the people in Taiji instead of going after other places in the world that are also killing dolphins. If you’re going to go after one country doing it, go after them all and change the movie name to “Coves”.

And I had my own thoughts to say about those comments:

Thank you for your reply, my friend. I can understand your position and appreciate you sharing it. I know it’s not personal against me, so don’t worry about that. I, personally, have a different opinion regarding some of the points you bring up and will share them with you below, hoping you’ll understand I’m not attacking you either.

I have no idea who the cheerleader of Heroes is,I don’t watch TV. Was it one of the surfers? Yeah, it wasn’t needed to bring such a person, but celebrities are usually used for causes they support, that’s not really new to this documentary and I don’t particularly object to that practice as long as the celebrity actually supports the cause.

Regarding the cow rebuttal that some use, I disagree with that to an extent, because cows people eat are not in the wild, they are raised. And not more cows than the ones raised are eaten. On the other hand, hunted wild animals, especially when done in large numbers, tend to face extinction, because they aren’t reproducing fast enough to compensate the hunting. So they’re not equal things to be used as an argument like that. And, if it is true that dolphin meat is sold disguised under other labels (other fish), then that could mean that they are hunting way more than people actually buys. So, what’s the point killing so many?

Another reason I disagree with that practice is that dolphin meat has toxic levels of mercury because of industrial contamination in the past decades. So the only valid reason to hunt them, which would be to eat them, is not good even in low quantities. Especially not telling people the real problem with that. Even a couple of Taiji officials were against having children fed that meat in school lunches because they know the problems.

But one important problem, which is probably the one that brought the film maker to that place in particular, is the cruelty of the method they use. Here’s an article I found regarding this, which I like the way it was put http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/09/more-news-from-taiji-70-dolphins-released-and-quote-drops.php

Regarding the point where you say why aren’t other places mentioned, or other bad practices, one can’t expect a documentary to cover every single thing that’s wrong with this planet, can one? Focusing just on dolphin hunting, you know as a film-maker the budget issue, and can’t expect the guy to have enough to travel all over the world with team and equipment and then try to fit everything in a single movie. For whatever reason he chose Taiji, I doubt it was to pick on Japan. That doesn’t mean dolphins aren’t hunted elsewhere, but I don’t think he said that either. He’s trying to raise awareness of the problems with dolphin meat and captivity, which will help reduce the practice all over the world.

I don’t agree that because it happens elsewhere as well, then it shouldn’t be told. Is it wrong that China Blue showed the working conditions there and not in every other country were workers are being abused? Was it wrong that Bowling for Columbine showed the problem there, while violence with guns happens in other places of the world as well? Is it wrong that Erin Brockovich focused on Hinkley, California, when the contamination problems are rampant around the world? I think that raising awareness, even if showing a particular example, helps reduce the power that such an activity has elsewhere as well.

I’m truly sorry that this particular film found such a problem to be in Japan, which has issues as any country. Even if I love it, I can’t say there’s no such problem. Partly because I like Japan, is that I want that problem to be solved.

I understand that Taiji has that tradition, but it just may be one of those traditions that aren’t good. Toxicity levels have raised in the recent past, which changes the situation a bit compared to the times when the tradition started. Also, I’m sure that it originally started to supply the locals, not the country or internationally, so I doubt the numbers were high before or that it was done every day for half a year. Just because it’s been tradition doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be reviewed.

I can understand that you feel the methods to film the movie were hidden. Well, they had to be, they tried to film openly and were not permitted. If there’s nothing wrong with their practice, what is there to hide about it? Why hide? Well, the film shows why, even if they had to hide the cameras to do achieve it. It’s not like they hurt anyone or misrepresented the facts or touched up the images to make them worse. They show what they shot, don’t they?

You mention whaling as well, which I also disagree with, but the film is not about that, mostly dolphins as far as I could tell. And I’m aware that you living there, having friends from outside Japan, this is not the first time someone mentioned this to you and that you’re probably pretty tired of having this mentioned already. I’m really sorry, I didn’t mean to bother you, really.

And I really didn’t, but I understand him. Actually, I wondered about the effectiveness of the movie to stop this activity and I just found a review that puts it in words quite well. I agreed very much with the opinion of this video blogger (an Australian living in Japan too) and wanted to share it here to finish this post.

What’s your opinion? Please share this post and leave a comment.

The Drifters

 

This is a group of japanese comedians that I enjoy a lot. They’re not new, started in the late 60s and were popular until the mid-80s, when only a couple of its members continued. One of them actually still has his own TV show.

Here’s the Wikipedia page that tells a bit about them:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Drifters_(Japanese_band)

The Drifters

And if you’re curious, you may want to watch some of their clips available on YouTube. You don’t really need to know Japanese to understand their jokes, most of them are easy to figure out just from what you see. Or is it because I’ve gotten used to Japanese already? Anyway, check them out. :)

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=%E3%83%89%E3%83%AA%E3%83%95

Well, this was a rather short post, but I guess that it’s alright. If I don’t have to make them long, I may post more often. :P

Video rebuffering will cost you 4 out of 5 people

 

Found this article that tells about a TubeMogul study where they found that 81.19% of people will leave if the video rebuffers even once.

http://www.tubemogul.com/research/report/99

Of course, a video doesn’t rebuffer for everyone. The study says that out of the services they tested, 6.81% of the streams rebuffered. 81.19% of that would be a bit over 5.55% of the total: the percentage of people that left the page because of a rebuffer.

Of course the conditions of that test may -most probably- be different from your own. I know I’ve been to the sales pages of different offers that had their video rebuffer, sometimes repeatedly, so I assume it’s likely that some marketers don’t worry about this point as much as they should.

I know that a sales page has more things for one to do in it that just watch a video, compared to a page that is there just for the video, but I’m sure that the rebuffering affects sales page visitors as well, especially those relying on video to sell.

It’d be interesting to monitor the rebuffering in sales pages, but the best bet will be to never have it do that.

Thought it’d be important to show you guys this, because it’s common sense that video should start fast and not be interrupted, but I’m sure most of us didn’t have an idea of how crucial it is.

To avoid the rebuffering, I’d say there are a few important things to make sure of:

  1. Your server hardware is fast. This is particularly important if it has to serve several visitors at the same time.
  2. Your server connection is fast. Also the closer the server is to the visitor, the better. A solution like Amazon’s CloudFront makes a lot of sense, especially for an international audience.
  3. Your video is very optimized. If the compression doesn’t reduce the file’s size enough, lower the quality or/and reduce the resolution.

Have everyone you can dummy run the sales process with people from different places to make sure they have no problem whatsoever, I’d suggest having friends from different locations load your page and tell you if they had rebuffering happen during video playback. Make sure you get some dialup and mobile users in the test too!

ClickHeat tracking

 

I forgot to mention ClickHeat, a heat map script that I found some time ago over at SourceForge.

I haven’t tried it, but it’s supposed to do heat maps (don’t know about confetti, though).

I particularly like that it’s free and self-hosted.

http://www.labsmedia.com/clickheat/

Got a copy to figure it out and it was easier than I expected!

  1. Get the newest file from SourceForge. http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=181196
  2. Extract the archive and upload it on your server. There’s a clickheat directory in the archive, you can just upload it to the server root, so that you’ll find it at http://yourwebsite.com/clickheat/. I haven’t tried using a diferent name for the directory, but it may work just the same, which would be desirable if you don’t want others to guess your directory for it.
  3. Go to that URL with your browser and follow the instructions. It’s mostly clicking the button to continue, only the the configurations page will need you to add the admin’s username and password.
  4. After that you’ll be shown the login page, where you use the username and password you just configured for it.
  5. You’ll be in the reports page, empty because it’s a new install, and there’ll be a link to get the JavaScript code for the template. Click it.
  6. Copy the code and paste it in your template (just like when you add tracking code from Google Analytics or similar).
  7. In the page where you got the JS, you will also see some settings. One of them talks about grouping. Use the page titles to track, it will cause ClickHeat to generate a drop down for each one of your pages. It says “not recommended” because it has a higher performance hit, but if needed, there’s a hack that deals with it. http://www.labsmedia.com/clickheat/performance.html

That should do it. Let me know if you had any trouble. :)

CrazyEgg analytics

 

I just found another cool tool that gives data about the user’s activity on the page, but not really the same, so it complements what you had to make better decisions when creating those page variations in your testing batteries.

The page is CrazyEgg and they have heat maps and confetti maps (you’ll get why with the screenshots). These offer a visual summary of the clicks on the page.

http://www.crazyegg.com/overview

Page heat map according to Google

 

Here’s a tips article from Google pointing out the best places for ads in a page.

Of course it’s particularly relevant for those of you that run ads on your pages, and you -probably- already know these, but I’m posting it for another reason.

It gives a good idea of where the visitor focuses on a page, or where not, which you can use to decide where you place your page elements when designing those split testing versions/variations of your pages.

https://www.google.com/support/adsense/bin/answer.py?answer=17954