Now that I have a 5-year-old, I pay attention to things like Star Wars branded Lego sets. And they are a rip off. Why are these little plastic bricks so expensive? The cheapest set I can find is $7, most of the minifigs are more expensive than that, many sets are a few hundred dollars, and the most expensive sets are the price of a used car: there’s a Lego Star Destroyer for $1600 and a Lego Millenium Falcon for $3400.
Now get off my lawn!
I was going to comment on the fact that Kottke’s looking on Amazon at the price of discontinued sets, but his main blog has been updated to reflect that. What I’ll do instead is note that if you want predictable prices for discontinued Lego sets, you should be looking at Bricklink. For example, here’s the UCS Millennium Falcon, with US sales from $1,700 used, $2,150 new in box- way less than the $3,400 quoted (although, yes, a good appreciation from the $500 it was when Lego sold it).
On the broader points: Lego, even licenced sets, typically sells for around the 10¢ a piece it’s cost for most of the last fifteen years, despite the cost of crude oil more than doubling in that time. It’s true that there are very few small sets in the Star Wars range (apart from the occasional polybag, the cheapest sets are the $10 Planet series), but the flipside of that is you tend to get more to play with. (Typically the $12 “battle pack” sets have four minifigures.)
Users are experiencing issues with viewing Instagram photos on Twitter. Issues include cropped images. This is due to Instagram disabling its Twitter cards integration, and as a result, photos are being displayed using a pre-cards experience. So, when users click on Tweets with an Instagram link, photos appear cropped.
For some strange reason there’s nothing about this on Instagram’s blog.
Back in March, I posted this:
To make it easier for people to help find the four images I can’t identify from Eric Ulrich’s Thirty Five Images Of Space Helmet Reflections, I’ve posted the cut up images that I made to paste into visual search engines.
Update: it looks like #2 and #4 are from Battlestar Galactica, but I still don’t have an image link for either. Anyone?
Well, I’m now more convinced than ever that the #2 and #4 are from the remake of Battlestar Galactica, and at some point I’ll scan through the episodes and try to find them. I suspect that #4 is from the very end of the third series, but I can’t figure out if the first is also Kara Thrace- it might instead be one of the rookie pilots that were introduced in the second series. Thoughts?
#3 also got identified by someone who posted a mention on Twitter, but I didn’t make a good enough note at the time. (Sorry!) It’s a picture by Francois on Flickr: I know. I try to be in Sci-fi movies.
That just leaves #1, which Google Images now finds- pointing back to this site. Ah well. As usual, if you have any ideas, would you mind letting me know?
When I shared my previous post on Twitter, I got this reply:
— Paul Hammond (@ph) November 25, 2012
OK, fair enough: it’s possible to choose places in London that look car-centric and places in San Francisco that don’t. Point taken.
I’d still defend my comparison. Firstly, Paul’s first location isn’t exactly in central London; it’s in Neasden, by the North Circular’s junction with the M1- a good ten kilometres from Charing Cross. By contrast, the AT&T car park is only two and a half kilometres from the Ferry Building.
Secondly, scroll just a little from the Brent Cross car parks, and you’ll find the two shopping centres, terraced housing, and playing fields. China Basin is close to the ball park (obviously) and there are buildings on the other side of the waterway, but the area to the south is remarkably sparse. Similarly, density drops rapidly from SF’s financial district (especially to the north), while Soho is pretty representative of central London.
San Francisco is a very different city to London. It’s newer, it’s less dense, and it’s much smaller. Maybe that makes my initial post a bit too obvious. That said, personally, I’m still amazed that something like twenty acres (to use the American measure) of land so close to the city’s centre can be turned over to a car park - moreover, one that mostly sits empty.
Ancient Greece didn’t invent meritocracy, but they invented democracy. In their version, what isn’t so well known, magistrates were selected via sortition, the random drawing of lots. Over time, this ensured that the composition of that layer of government accurately represented the citizens it served.
I wonder what would happen if that happened in the United States? I’d love to see a simulation of a sortition-generated Senate. Even if it was only the population that’s on FB, it would just be fascinating to see who we would get if we trusted dice instead of election machinery.
It wouldn’t be pretty, but it would help put away the myth of meritocracy. I think about 99% of Americans would be happy to see it go.
Election by lot is an idea I first came across in science fiction (I believe it was Arthur C Clarke’s The Songs of Distant Earth), although it turns out that Isaac Asimov used it satirically in a short story, Franchise, inspired by the Univac election prediction in 1952.
What I hadn’t realised is that sortition actually had a role in the long past as a method of election, as well as its more common usage for jury duty. I’d agree that I’d be fascinated in seeing how it worked- especially if new representatives had a year shadowing their predecessors, and were given time and space to understand the issues.
In many ways, I feel at home in San Francisco, but I still sometimes feel alienated among my friends and peers. Here are the ways in which I’m not A Real San Francisco Tech Dude:
- I am not skinny
- I can’t grow a beard
- I ride a bike with gears
- I ride Uber only if absolutely necessary
- I have more than 50 co-workers
- I am comfortable working with more than 50 co-workers
- I have worked at a job before my current one
- I have worked at a job that doesn’t offer free lunch
- I don’t have my Caps Lock key remapped to Control
- I don’t live in Mission Dolores, Duboce Triangle, Lower Haight, or Hayes Valley
- I don’t commute on the J-Church line
- I don’t find @KarlTheFog funny
- I don’t like the sandwiches at Ike’s Place
- I don’t care about brunch
- I don’t play video games
Maybe this just means I’m old.
Let’s see: I don’t feel skinny any more (hurrah HFCS), haven’t really tried to grow a beard, don’t even ride a bike, and never Uber unless someone I’m with calls them. I’ve worked at lots of places with no free lunch, and caps lock is still caps lock. I generally walk to BART rather than suffer the J Church (inbound anyway), and don’t care about Ike’s Place or play video games.
On the other hand, I’ve never really done well at a company with more than 50 people. I don’t follow Karl, but I’m mildly amused when people repost him. I do like Deliboard, and I definitely enjoy brunch.
Here’s another suggestion for a way I stick out: I don’t want to be an entrepreneur. (I still have to check how to spell it.)
A final point of agreement: SF definitely makes me feel old.
Mike Migurski, in his post about The City From The Valley project (which you should read in full):
What of the private perks offered by valley companies, of which private transport is just one? I think Google, Facebook, Apple and others have all done their own math and determined that it’s advantageous to move, feed, clothe, and generally coddle your workforce. This math scales a lot more than is obvious, and as a country we should be looking at things like the Affordable Care Act in a more favorable light, perhaps asking companies who need to move employees up and down the peninsula to pay more into Caltrain instead of running their own fleets.
I remember a discussion with two (also ex-pat, but longer established in SF) friends last year, where I made a similar point about public transport. If Google, Apple, Yahoo and so on are really approaching a ridership about one third that of Caltrain itself, wouldn’t it make more sense to actually expand that service?
Their rebuttal did make some sense. The last-mile is a problem, at both ends- the station in SF is hardly located centrally, and many campuses are far from the train line. It’s also a lot easier to put coaches on the road than trains on a track. That was the case in London when Ken Livingstone first became Mayor in 2000; he expanded bus coverage rapidly (with somewhat more day routes, and definitely an expansion of night and 24 hour buses) because pushing investment to the Tube has a very long lead time. (The Victoria line upgrade programme still has a small step next year, after starting in about 2007, for example.)
Nonetheless, the sooner you start, the sooner you finish, and if Google had started pushing money in five years ago, perhaps the Caltrain modernisation, which will increase capacity and speed through electrification, would be finished somewhat sooner than in 2019. After all, the environmental impact reports date back to 2004.
One other thought occurs to me. If these large multinational companies can avoid paying tax on their non-US earnings, at least their headquarters should be available for funding local amenities.
If American citizens are happy letting some companies look after their employees while others sink, I suppose there’s nothing wrong with the actions of these new giants. If they’re not, though, perhaps there’s something to be said for raising the idea that perhaps they should be contributing more to their communities, if not their country.
Are you familiar with Baidu? The Chinese can’t show satellite images of their cities so they model these detailed axonometric cityscapes.
Baidu shows very beautiful representations, similar to hand-drawn maps. They’re like the depiction of a promise, telling you that it’s a beautiful country to live in, whether it’s true or not.
From the transcript of last Wednesday’s presidential debate:
- I like coal. I’m going to make sure we continue to burn clean coal.
- I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you [Mr Lehrer] too. But I’m not going to — I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it. That’s number one.
- I like green energy as well, but [Obama’s tax breaks are] about 50 years’ worth of what oil and gas receives, and you say Exxon and Mobil — actually, this $2.8 billion goes largely to small companies, to drilling operators and so forth.
- I like the way we [introduced health care] in Massachusetts. I like the fact that in my state, we had Republicans and Democrats come together and work together.
The Instagram guys ditched the requirement for a little button click and replaced it with a big touch friendly gesture. Two taps and bam, a heart pops up and you’re done. Very satisfying.
Hiding important functionality behind gestures may be something that users evolve to learn, but the road there is still long (I was watching some women exclaiming how hard Instagram was to use the other day!)
Is it worth noting here that although you can use double-tap to like, there’s also a “like” button under every photo? It’s possible to imagine the app without it* but it works well as both feedback that the like worked and as an alternative for anyone who hasn’t discovered the gesture yet.
* Even without the indicator of the button changing from “like” to “liked”, you can tell if you’ve liked something by checking if your name is in the list of people who have. That list collapses for photos that are popular, but it’d be possible to work around that by showing something like “blech and 25 others liked this” for those images.