Featured

A Brief History of Midtown Phoenix – Online on March 24!

Join Edward Jensen online on Tuesday 24 March 7:00pm for an encore presentation of his lecture, A Brief History of Midtown Phoenix.

As we’re all practicing safe and smart social distancing to try to #FlattenTheCurve to slow the spread of COVID-19, I thought I’d do my part and offer a little bit of education while we’re all stuck inside.

Last year, I debuted my new lecture, A Brief History of Midtown Phoenix. The talk spanned the last 1,500 years of midtown Phoenix history and walked through Midtown’s past and present using historical imagery, primary sources, and contemporary photography. We saw the people who played a role in making Phoenix–and Midtown–the place it is today. We understood the effects World War II had on Phoenix and how it paved the way for Midtown’s urban form.

But this is more than that: A Brief History of Midtown Phoenix is a love letter to Midtown. I know we’re all hurting. We’re all wondering what life’s going to look like tomorrow, next week, next month. We’re all hoping that Midtown will bounce back after the dust settles.

So join me on Tuesday 22 March 2020 at 7:00pm Phoenix time over at edwardjensen.net/abriefhistory to take part in the revival of A Brief History of Midtown Phoenix.

See you then!

The Six Icon Staredown

I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions but learning more about these different apps–and what they do–on my computer is a goal of mine in 2020.

Each day when I use my Mac, I have these six icons staring at me. They’re the icons of six pieces of Adobe software for things like photo organization and manipulation, graphic design, and audio and video editing. (They’re also reminders that I have to spend the full amount on the Adobe Creative Suite because I need Acrobat in addition to Photoshop and Lightroom, but that’s neither here nor there.)

I figure that, since I have access to them, I ought to learn more not just about these pieces of software, but about the different things that they’re supposed to accomplish. I have said, perhaps as a crutch, that I’m not a graphic designer. And although that’s true–I’m not–why should that mean I shouldn’t know anything about graphic design?

With video editing, the cameras I use for still photography all have a video mode. Why should I limit myself to half of what the cameras can do? And for audio editing, how could I use that to make a future run of that silly little podcast thing I did, The Downtown Phoenix Podcast, even better? (Hint, hint.)

I’m generally not one to make New Year’s resolutions but I think I’m going to challenge myself to do some learning in 2020 on these things. Because, hey, learning is good, and learning might be important to future things that I’m doing. So join me on this journey, won’t you?

Phoenix on fire

Two photos of smoke rising outside downtown Phoenix

If you’re wondering what that smoke is by the State Fair Grounds, it’s a scrap-yard fire near 21st Ave and McDowell. No, it’s not someone’s fried funnel cake getting cooked a bit too much.

But what surreal scenes: the joy of the State Fair juxtaposed against the destruction of fire.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Scooters

Electric scooters have arrived in downtown Phoenix. It’s a shame the Phoenix City Council isn’t supporting the program.

[Editor’s note: This post has been updated with recent reporting on scooters from local media. See the bottom of this post.]

The Friday Essay: Scooting MidtownAfter attempts in other cities, electric scooters have finally made their way into downtown Phoenix. A six-month pilot program began on 16 September 2019 and will certainly be watched by many interested parties, not least the Phoenix City Council.

As my friend Lauren Potter wrote in a blog post for Downtown Phoenix Inc., the electric scooter pilot program involves scooters from three different companies. The pilot program will be immediately constrained to downtown Phoenix, where scooters can be picked up and dropped off from almost 400 designated parking areas. Scooters can’t be driven on sidewalks, they have to stay on streets or in bike lanes. They also can’t be taken into areas that are pedestrian-oriented, such as the eastern portion of Hance Park (the west portion of Hance Park is outside of the boundaries, turns out). Unique to the electric scooters as a part of this program is that scooters will slow down and stop if they are nearing one of these no-ride zones; it will be interesting to see how that works in practice. Continue reading “Scooters”

Suns arena wrap-up

The vote’s over and Talking Stick Resort Arena gets a remodel. Some final thoughts on the matter…

From the outset of the discussions about what the City of Phoenix should do with Talking Stick Resort Arena in downtown Phoenix, it seemed like it was a fait accompli that the $230 million remodeling project proposal would pass, despite the posturing and outrage from some on the City Council. And they got their way, passing a deal that, in my opinion, punts the decision on what to do with sports in the Phoenix metro area for 10-15 years and still doesn’t answer any long-term questions about a combined basketball/hockey facility to share with the Arizona Coyotes.

It’s not a secret that I’m against public funds going to fund sports stadia, even if those funds are allocated from some pot of money that’s theoretically not paid by the taxpayers of that city (e.g., hotel taxes). Nothing in law prevents those funds from being used elsewhere (see page 2 of this PDF file).

In the month-long effort of councilsplaining (credit to Neil deMause for that wonderful word) why Talking Stick Resort Arena needed public funds for its remodel, one of the arguments made by the Suns and the City was that downtown Phoenix would be struggling if the Suns were to decamp for other places. Even if you discount that argument as pure absurdity seeing how the Suns only play 41 games at home per year during the regular season and the few other concerts and events happening there, downtown Phoenix still seems to do OK on the remaining 300-ish days.

The Downtown Phoenix of 2019 is far different—and far better—than the downtown Phoenix of 1992, when the then-America West Arena opened. It is starting to become active again not just during the day but at night. Roosevelt Street and Grand Avenue are becoming vibrant arts corridors above and beyond the major monthly art walks. All of Arizona’s public universities have major presences Downtown and support biomedical research (ironically, built on land originally assembled to be a new stadium for the Arizona Cardinals). People are choosing to live downtown. And, perhaps most importantly, light rail links downtown Phoenix with some of our metro area’s most important places.

As an advocate for central-city Phoenix, I recognize I’m in the minority opinion on this matter. It was enlightening to see all of the organizations doing their full-court press to pass these subsidies for the arena and to see our councilmembers parrot the talking points put forth.

May Phoenix not become Glendale and have to close parks and libraries just to pay a stadium bond debt.

Pixel 3 exFAT camera importing update

Good news! An update on the exFAT-on-Pixel 3 adventures I chronicled from earlier this week. It only requires the purchase of an app.

Back at the start of this week, I wrote about my issues with not being able to import photos from my standalone Canon DSLR camera to my new Google Pixel 3 XL because the Pixel doesn’t support the exFAT file system natively. I’m happy to say that I have good news and I’ve found a workaround that only requires the purchase of an app.

Before I get into this, I’m just going to write here that your results may vary and that I’m not responsible for any loss of data you may have as a result of this. Be sure to practice good data hygiene and backup responsibly.

My solution hinges on the “Microsoft exFAT/NTFS for USB by Paragon Software” app available on Google Play. Whilst the app is free to download, exFAT support requires a $5.99 in-app purchase. This app is unique in that it’s not a standalone file explorer, it’s an interface mechanism between the USB SD card reader and some other apps, including the default Files app on the Pixel. Here’s how it works:

If the captions aren’t viewable, the steps are as follows:

  • Step 1: After connecting your SD card reader to the USB-C port, launch the Microsoft exFAT/NTFS (etc.) app. Tap on MOUNT. (The UNMOUNT button is shown after the device has been mounted.)
  • Step 2: In the Files app, you’ll see that a new option is there: the Paragon File System. That’s your SD card.
  • Step 3: You can now browse your SD card and copy/move/whatever files from the card to local storage or cloud storage.
  • Step 4: When finished, go back into the Paragon app to UNMOUNT the device. Unplug the SD card reader and you’ll be good to go!

My explorations are still continuing because although I can easily copy-and-paste the SD card files, there is no mechanism that I have discovered so far that won’t copy duplicate files. By default, if you ask the Pixel to copy a file, if it’s a duplicate file name, it will just append a (1) next to the file name before the file extension.

Explorations are continuing! Isn’t that the great part about learning about new technology?

METRO at 10: A WBIYB Retrospective

Today marks the 10th anniversary of METRO light rail’s inauguration. In celebration of METRO at 10, relive the day with some photos.

Ten years ago today (27 December 2008), Phoenix made history. It had opened the first part of its new METRO light rail (WBIYB) connecting many different parts of our community. The initial system was touted to be the starter line of a system that would spread tentacle-like throughout the Phoenix metro area, linking commercial corridors, cultural institutions, residential communities, sports arenas, and educational opportunities to each other.

While the promise of METRO is under attack by reactionary anti-transit individuals upset by the proposed extensions into south Phoenix (my take: Build the damn train!), it’s a system that has transformed our city and tried to make us somewhat relevant in the global city-driven economy.

To mark METRO’s 10th anniversary, here are some photos I’ve unearthed from the archives of the opening day festivities. Phoenicians will also recall that it was also on this day that the new North Building of the Phoenix Convention Center was also opened to the public.

Nine Lessons and Carols 2018

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols 2018, the VII installment of a Spotify playlist tradition

Each Christmastide on Spotify, I publish a playlist in the format of the Nine Lessons and Carols, something that we heard earlier today from King’s College Cambridge.

From me to you all, I wish you a happy Christmas with friends and family near and far.

Continue reading “Nine Lessons and Carols 2018”