In Japan "Private railways run variety of other businesses such as dept stores & real estate" (Wikipedia). I witnessed this everywhere in my time spent in Japan. Most train stations were well connected to shops, businesses, entertainment, and residences. Everything was highly accessible and very liveable. I would constantly compare back to the stark bareness back home and wonder why haven't we done this. I called them Transit-Hub Centric Communities. an organization builds a transit corridor - the stations, with attached multi-use developments, with retail, amenities, and residential. The organization retains ownership of the property and is now able to profit from the demand it created for itself with increased foot traffic. The profit will be from leasing real estate and increased property values. Local government gets increased revenue from more property tax, sales tax, etc... which can be used to pay for the initial investment.

Another example is the following from Hong Kong:
How Transit Systems Can Make Money

Recently Jay Walder, former head of New York’s subway system, the MTA, left his job to take over Hong Kong’s transit system, the MTR. For Walder the move means a lot more than one different letter on his business card: it means a salary raise from $350,000 to about a million bucks.

The reason Hong Kong’s metro system can afford to pay its chief so much more than New York’s is that, unlike the MTA, which faces a $10 billion shortfall, the MTR actually makes money. Lots of money. Like 8.7 billion Hong Kong dollars lots, according to Bloomberg, which is more than a billion U.S. dollars a year.

So what accounts for the enormous difference in financial success between the two systems? Cue Alex Marshall of the Regional Plan Association:

The answer is that Hong Kong’s MTR doesn’t let private developers be the only ones that perch next to its stations. It builds its homes, offices and stores. In short, MTR acts as a real estate developer and business company, as well as a train operator. It owns, among other things, 12 shopping malls built around its stations. These properties and businesses produce substantial cash, which keep the transit agency as a whole in the black.

Whereas New York City sells the real estate near its subway lines, Hong Kong develops it — creating what Cap’n Transit calls “an integrated product” of property and access. In other words, MTR not only runs Hong Kong’s trains but it also owns a lot of the properties these trains serve. This side business generates a huge amount of revenue that can be recycled back into the system itself.

Marshall seems to think American cities in general — and New York in particular — can get in on the action. Still such a course would require a “huge change in our thinking,” Marshall recently told WNYC, since Americans typically cringe at the idea of government owning potentially private property. Then again, they also cringe at fare hikes and service cuts.

By Eric Jaffe

This is an EXCELLENT opportunity for Translink, the Metro Vancouver transit authority to get a positive revenue stream and self finance future transit projects, instead of relying so heavily on taxpayers' dollars.

Current opportunities include property that Translink already owns, such as the many Park-and-Ride lots in Metro Vancouver. A prime example for current development, with a transit-hub already there, would be Scott Road station and its attached Park-and-Ride. King-George station also has an attached Park and ride, that can build off the current Infinity developments there. The Bridgeport station is also another opportunity.

A local example of this model is the current development happening at New Westminster Station. Plaza 88, being called an urban transit village, is a great starting point if Translink can get in on the game. The development integrates condos, shopping, restaurants, and other amenities with direct access to a transit-hub. It's a Transit-Hub Centric Community.

"It's very un-mall like. We tried to treat it as a station, as opposed to a shopping mall. We believe that this adds to the inclusiveness within New Westminster ..."

Please ignore the bad rendering and overly clipped music in the following video:

And more here from Skyscraperpage forums

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So recently Translink has been asking for input on where funding will come from for future transportation infrastructure for Metro Vancouver. It seems like the only options they are giving is getting more money from property taxes. Their "options" are just to increase taxes and fees or increase them more.

Perhaps its time for them and us all to consider other possibilities in generating revenue for the future of transit infrastructure. Why not allow corporate sponsorship naming rights to transit stations and hubs? I'm serious. This has been done before in other parts of the world, such as Las Vegas (it was huge in getting their monorail built). This could generate Millions of dollars that would go a very long way in improving Metro Vancouver's transit. Com'mon, the "Bell Patterson Station" doesn't sound so bad does it?

Further, Translink should maximize its advertising revenue. Edmonds Station is a prime example. The bus loop there has a shelter with several poster light boxes for ads. All of which have been pretty much blank since the 90s! I remember a year or two ago seeing one old poster advertisement up. It was for BC Clean Air Day 1994!

Also, be smarter with money! maximize our transit options - The 'Skytrain' option is a luxury item that costs more but gives less. There are other smarter mass transit options such as Full Bus Rapid Transit and light rail, that give more service for the buck!

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When watching videos of TED Talks or other great lectures/talks, have a notepad handy and take notes of the ideas that intrigue you.

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The 'loop city' proposal builds on the famous '1947 finger plan', which focused on connecting the suburb to the center. BIG proposes to continue to connect the area around the øresund strait in a sustainable spine of public transport, energy exchange and electric car infrastructure. the resulting development model circumscribes around the base of the 'hand', much like a bracelet, to combine new programs with the metro stations, providing an urban outlet throughout the suburbs.


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As a general observation, 'Scent Branding' is increasingly common in retail design.
-The 'Subway smell' - a byproduct of their fresh ingredients and baking of their bread, but very recognizable.
-Distinctive Lush smell coming out the front doors of Lush stores - from their many fragrant bath and body care products.
-Cinnamon Bun shops and their cinnamon aroma.
-Any bakery
-Coffee shops

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Over the past year or so, I have worked on an airship project (weBlimp - a social, crowd controlled blimp). In the process of research and what-not I have come across some other very cool projects and flying things. After seeing some cool animal airship videos:

Air Manta Ray, Air Jellyfish, Air Penguin, Air Fish

... I want to see an Airquarium! :D Like an aquarium, but in the air. This would be best inside a large, open indoor space inside a building, such as an atrium or mezzanine.


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A TED Talk by Ellen Dunham-Jones, speaking about updating and 'retrofitting' suburbs to more sustainable, walkable, and livable centres.

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Here is a cool concept from Asus for a portable Media PC. Its a computer stuffed inside a keyboard. It has a small attached screen that can be used for multiple functions, such as a control panel, touch input device, and of course a display screen.
The idea is to be able to carry this little kbPC around and plug it into any of your many displays and use your computer there. Plug it into your HDTV, desktop monitor, conference room projector, or even wirelessly (the receiver device is also included). You can even use it on its own with the small touch screen (limited functions I suppose)

Check out the Amazon site for more specifics

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So I just wrote a new script:

Fullscreen Youtube & Vimeo on Facebook for Greasemonkey
After waiting a very long time for someone to do a script like this, I finally went ahead and made one myself. This script will enable the fullscreen ability/button on Youtube & Vimeo videos that are embedded into Facebook feeds and profiles. All embedded Youtube & Vimeo videos viewed in Facebook, by default dont have the fullscreen button.

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Came across this GREAT video James Dyson talking about his technological innovations! Starts off slow, but once he gets into talking about his current tech it gets pretty interesting

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So at long last, this year Internet Explorer 6 is finally dying!
At the moment, with only about 8% market share remaining, the long awaited death of IE6 shall be heralded by all web designers and developers out there. Major web services have already stopped supporting them (such as Vimeo and Youtube). Heh, one of my favorite responses to IE6, the "Shockingly Big IE6 Warning" Wordpress Plugin.

So hooray! No more headaches of trying to make websites compatible on IE6 - but does that necessarily mean the life of a web designer is any easier now? Maybe not. Because today, we don't only have to test on web browsers on computers, we now have the plethora of mobile devices that have internet access. Perhaps even make an entirely different interfaces for mobile and touch screens. Although, I do concede to the fact that most of the latest internet capable mobile devices are pretty good at adhering to web standards - especially in comparison to IE6.

So in short, IE6 is a huge headache lifted from the web devs shoulders, but more technologies are filling its place (much smaller headaches but more numerous).

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Back in the latter half of 2009 when Firefox 3.5 was released, I was quite disappointed that the backend 'about:config' feature known as '' was removed from Firefox. Open_external is a preference that specifies how webpages should be opened if an external program (such as email program) opens a URL. In November or so I found a fix, which I talk about more here in this post.

But since Firefox 3.6, and newer updates of the addon fix, they would not work for me. Firefox 3.5 removed the open_external feature, which annoyed me, then a fix for it is now broken in FF 3.6.
I got fed up so I just made my own Firefox extension to fix it!

Restore Open_External 1.0
Restores the functionality of the '' preference that was removed in Firefox 3.5+

(I have now learned how to make script-based FF extensions)

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So back in April, I wrote about a body interface project that I worked on called weBlimp. So in the time since then, the weBlimp team has brought it from a final project in a class, to an academic conference presentation, and now to an Olympic event!

So to update, in October, we were at UC Berkeley to present the concepts behind weBlimp at the ACM Creativity & Cognition 2009 Conference.

The conference was great. It really has me considering grad school now. I also really enjoyed checking out San Francisco and the Bay Area.

A month or two after, we were asked by our University and the City of Surrey to showcase weBlimp during the 2010 Winter Olympics!

Currently, we are working on building of a 'weBlimp 2.0' of higher quality and robustness, in preparation for its installation at the Surrey Holland Park Olympic Celebration Site. The installation will be showcased during the Olympics from February 17-21st.

Also, since our involvement with the Olympics, we have been featured in a number of blogs and news articles:
Surrey Leader

Offical weBlimp:
@weBlimp on Twitter

Here is the original documentation video on weBlimp. We will try to have a new one after the Olympics.

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