iOS 6 and transit maps?

…in which we wonder about Apple’s new mapping application.

On Monday, Apple is set to release the sixth major version of iOS, its mobile operating software. Normally, however, changes are a good thing and each new version of iOS has been better than the last.

One of the big stories that’s flying around in this weekend before iOS 6 is formally announced is that Apple is dropping from Google Maps in favor of using its own mapping solution. Apple and Google have been trading punches lately and Apple has purchased several mapping companies. Of course, these are all rumors and we won’t know for sure until Monday morning. But if the rumors are true, then I’m sure that Apple will call their new mapping application “amazing,” “revolutionary,” “magical,” and other synonyms.

But, will it really be that?

I’m sure that it will be aesthetically pleasing. And that the graphics will be great. But one of the best features of Google Maps — and the big reason why I use it — is that Google Maps offers transit directions. You see, I don’t have a car. The option for me to get reliable directions to get from Point A to Point B via transit, as in the screen capture on the right, is absolutely mission-critical.

The other problem, at least for Phoenix, is that Valley Metro is very protective of their transit schedules. It took several years after Google Transit’s launch before one could plan transit trips here in Phoenix. If there is a transit feature in Apple’s new maps, what data will be there? I highly doubt that Phoenix’s will be there at launch.

Thankfully, we can still access Google Maps via the browser. But a native app was so much better. Ah, there’s something to be said about restricting an ecosystem.

IPv6: The Future is Forever

…in which we celebrate the launch of IPv6. The future is here and the future is forever!

Tomorrow marks the official turning on of the next generation of the Internet, IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6). To many people, you shouldn’t notice anything. Nor should you really be concerned with anything. Being on IPv6 isn’t much of a bragging right (unless you’re a nerd/geek/computer scientist).

Why should you care about IPv6? In this video below, from Google, Vint Cerf (one of the co-creators of the Internet) explains it all. Under the current system, IPv4, there are just under 4.3 billion IP addresses available. (Think of an IP address as a telephone number or as a house address. When you go to a website, like edwardjensen.net, you’re going to a server that hosts edwardjensen.net. It’s reached by an IP address, which is 69.163.150.126.)

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Uwjt32NvVA

Happy IPv6 World Launch Day!

A big announcement!

…in which I share and make official some big news with you all. Yay!

Big news! I’ve started to leak the word out to a few of you but as one academic year winds down and another begins, I thought I would share some news with you all. This is, after all, a personal blog so I hope that you can indulge me here as I brag about myself.

I am pleased to share the news with you all that, beginning in July, I will be joining the staff of Arizona School for the Arts (ASA) as their Information and Instructional Technology Coordinator. Not only is ASA a nationally recognized school that produces so many wonderful alumni, it’s also the place where I spent my middle- and high-school years (grades 7-12) from 2000-2006.

I’d also know a thing or two about the alumni that the school produces: I am humbled to be leading the school’s Alumni Association as we work through a period of transition and welcome future classes to our fold.

The new gig consists of three parts. I should note that I’m not formally on the teaching faculty; however, I suspect that I’m going to be doing a lot of informal teaching along the way. First, I’ll be making sure that the day-to-day technology operations of the school are working just fine. Think of this one as managing the enterprise IT — making sure networks work, computers process, phones make calls, and so on. The second part is the unofficial Digital Knowledge Architect of the school: researching new technologies as they might pertain to the educational outcomes of the school. What is the school doing well? What needs work? How can we take ASA to the next level…and beyond? The last component is serving as the school’s Technology Advisor. Not only am I the IT person for the enterprise that is ASA, I’m that person for the 750 students that attend the school. Of course, that doesn’t mean that as students have issues with their personal tech, I’m going to fix it. But that does mean that I will be giving grade-specific information on how to be smart with technology, how to be safe online, and how to be good digital citizens.

On a different note, that means that this blog is changing its focus. You’ll see that in the past month, I’ve rebranded it as “Technology for a Digital Generation” and have started to focus on emergent technology. Over the coming months, and especially as I settle into my new role, that focus will take off and this blog will become the home for resources and research that I will be doing. Downtown Phoenix and bicycling will take a backseat on this blog. But don’t worry — there are a number of great fellow “urban philosophers” that will unequivocally fill the shoes I vacate. The last post I pen on downtown Phoenix, at least for some time, will be my “Whither Density” postmodern analysis of downtown Phoenix. Expect that one to come out in a couple of weeks.

The school is such a wonderful place and I’m thrilled to be joining the ranks as a staff person. I’m so excited and I can’t begin to thank my mentors who have inspired me to get to this place. One person that I do have to call out by name is Dr. Colleen Carmean, the current Assistant Chancellor for Instructional Technologies at the University of Washington-Tacoma. I know Dr. Carmean because we both worked at the ASU College of Public Programs and I was fortunate to work with her on several research projects about advancing technology in education. She is also a dear friend and mentor of mine. In this new gig for me, I’m trying a little bit to emulate what she did as ASU CoPP’s Digital Knowledge Architect — and to be that mentor for the students with whom I’m working. If I am even 1/10th of the mentor to my students as Dr. Carmean has been to me, then I should think I’ve done something.

That’s the news from here. To all those who have helped me along the way and on this journey, I say “thank you” and I raise a glass to our accomplishments. Of course, I look forward to many many (many!) more accomplishments and celebrations along the way!

Urban Fail: Bicycle Cellar at the Security Building isn’t happening

Another sad day for downtown Phoenix: The much-anticipated project to place a second store of The Bicycle Cellar here isn’t happening.

photo credit: ASU

The Phoenix New Times’ Jackalope Ranch blog reports this evening that Maricopa County has decided to stop plans for The Bicycle Cellar, a bicycle commuter support station and retail space, from going in the County-owned Security Building at 234 N Central Ave in downtown Phoenix.

Plans to place a Bicycle Cellar bike station in the long vacant ground floor of the historic Security Building now appear to be all but dead despite gaining initial approval from the Maricopa County Facilities Resource Panel back in January.

“Unfortunately, the Bike Cellar project has in fact been cancelled,” said Jonce Walker, Maricopa County Sustainability Manager and shepherd of the project for the county.

The project was not included in the 2012-13 fiscal year tentative budget, which was approved by the county Board of Supervisors on May 21. The final budget is scheduled to be adopted on June 18.

This is a tremendous loss for the emergent bicycle culture that’s developed in central Phoenix over the past years. Scores of organizations — from downtown businesses to surrounding neighborhoods — supported this project. It’s a shame that it won’t be happening and that the lobby of the historic 1928 Security Building will remain vacant.

What’s also a shame is that the Phoenix Urban Research Laboratory, Phoenix’s preeminent space for urban leaders and thinkers, is going away as well. Too bad that there’s no creativity.

Another sad day for downtown Phoenix. When will we have some good news for a change?

Google’s Project Glass

…in which we wonder if Google’s Project Glass might go anywhere.

I realize I haven’t posted on here for awhile — which is fine, I suppose. I’m working on a major think piece on downtown density and some distractions that have gotten in the way as of late. The piece will blend urban themes and deconstruct some of downtown Phoenix’s metanarratives and macrostructures. Intrigued? I can’t wait to finish it and share it with you.

But anyway, this came across my radar screen. My posting of this is a few months tardy but a friend shared this with me last night and I have to admit that I’m fairly intrigued. It’s Google’s Project Glass, which takes the mobile phone (which is practically attached to us anyway) and physically attaches it to us.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9c6W4CCU9M4

The question is this: Would you wear this? I totally would. If this were integrated into some other services and had open APIs, my goodness: this thing would be useful. Take the scene at the Mud Truck food truck. Instead of just checking in there, what about doing some online payment (a la Square and Square Wallet)? Now that would be useful.

Final thoughts on the Urban Grocery’s closing

Some final thoughts on the closing of the Urban Grocery at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market.

I’m learning more and more about the circumstances surrounding the closing of the indoor Urban Grocery at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market. While we could debate ad nauseum about the factors that led to the closing of the indoor market or point fingers at various individuals and groups, the reality is that the indoor Urban Grocery is closing at the end of business on Saturday 12 May.

In summary, passion and volunteerism alone do not make a sustainable business model; one has to pay the bills. While I’m not at liberty to say the extent of what I know and name my sources, the financial situation of the indoor Urban Grocery made it inevitable that it was going to close. Unfortunately, no amount of community donations could have possibly sustained the indoor market with how it was operated.

What we in the downtown Phoenix community need to do is work with organizations like Local First Arizona and others to find a local business partner to operate a downtown Phoenix grocery store. With the absence of the indoor Urban Grocery, downtown Phoenix has become a food desert, something that is fundamentally incompatible with an urban environment. I’m dreaming here, obviously, but this would be a tremendous opportunity for a group like Bashas’/AJ’s or La Grande Orange to step in. For either group, this would be a perfect entrée to downtown Phoenix.

We have established that the indoor Urban Grocery is a tremendous resource for the downtown Phoenix community. Although this isn’t a perfect metric, at the time of this writing, the “Save Downtown Phoenix Public Market” Facebook page has 566 likes. There have been polls and surveys done about the Urban Grocery. But again, a place needs to be operated effectively and have sound financial footing to run.

While this might sound a bit harsh, I believe that we need to move on from lamenting that the indoor Urban Grocery is closing to finding ways to write the next chapter in the life of the Downtown Phoenix Public Market. If there’s one thing that we in downtown Phoenix are good at, it’s rallying around a common cause. Let’s do that again and show our community our determination and our resolve.

I’m willing to help advance this conversation as best as I can.

Greening Grand Avenue: Designing the Future

Please join the Grand Avenue Merchants Association for a sneak preview presentation of the Greening Grand Avenue Project sponsored by the EPA.

Please join the Grand Avenue Merchants Association for a sneak preview presentation of the Greening Grand Avenue Project sponsored by the EPA.

Program: “Greening Grand Avenue – Designing the Future”
Presenter: Leslie Dornfeld, PLAN-et, the Lead of the recent EPA study of Lower Grand Avenue
Reception: Drinks and Bites
Date: May 16, 2012
Time: 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Location: Oasis on Grand – 15th Avenue/Grand Avenue/Roosevelt
RSVP: tsprague@habitatmetro.com

We hope to see you on May 16.

Supermoon 2012

The world was treated to the Supermoon on 5 May 2012.

If you didn’t know, the orbit of the Moon around the Earth isn’t a perfect circle. It’s an ellipse. At its nearest point, the Moon is about 50,000 km closer to the Earth than it is at its farthest point.

Science and numbers aside, it makes for pretty pictures. Enjoy!

all photos copyright (c) 2012 Edward Jensen, all rights reserved

More thoughts on the Downtown Phoenix Public Market closure

Some follow-up observations on the closing of the Downtown Phoenix Public Market’s Urban Grocery and a hypothesis to chew around. (with updates)

[UPDATE 1, 1:20pm 5 May 2012: Community Food Connections, the public-private partnership behind the Downtown Phoenix Public Market, released a statement. The link is below.]

The Downtown Phoenix Public Market’s indoor Urban Grocery is closing in a week.

That we know. We also know that the outdoor Wednesday evening and Saturday morning markets are staying open, Food Truck Fridays will go on, and Royal Coffee at the Market will remain open.

Here are two images from the Downtown Phoenix Journal with signs sharing this news:

Three things strike me as odd here. Now, I admit that I have no inside information and that all I’m saying here is speculation. But these are observations worth noting:

  1. The only thing that’s closing is the indoor component of the market. Both Royal Coffee and the outdoor components (Wednesday and Saturday open-air markets and Food Truck Friday) are staying.
  2. Some of the recent First Street/Pierce Street streetscape improvements and pedestrian enhancements really tied into the Public Market area. The City of Phoenix spent a lot of money on these projects and there is a public art component that’s yet to be completed. While those might be for the outdoor components of the market, it’s still worth noting.
  3. If memory serves, the group that owns/operates the DPPM is a public-private partnership. It’s not an indictment of anything but it’s something to keep in the back of one’s mind when evaluating this situation.

Now, as people have observed both on Twitter and in my first post on the topic, the Urban Grocery isn’t really all that much of a grocery store. I admit that as much as I try to shop local and support local agriculture, there are times when Bashas’ or AJ’s will get my business just because their prices are lower. (But hey, they’re both still local!) I suspect that many others have a similar viewpoint. That leads me to my hypothesis of this entire situation:

I wonder if the Urban Grocery is just going to be rebranded and relaunched as something else, perhaps as an actual urban grocery store.

I have no firm information to corroborate my hypothesis. It’s just a gut feeling, actually. Don’t go quoting me on this! But given the factors above, it might just be something to chew around.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m sad that the Urban Grocery’s going away. It’s been a wonderful “third place” for downtown Phoenix and I’ve had many wonderful meetings and conversations there over the two-and-a-half years it’s been opened. If it goes away completely, then the loss that it has on the downtown Phoenix community is immeasurable. But if something else comes to the space, then perhaps this might have been for the better.

Time will tell. I’m sure that we’ll learn more in the days and weeks to come.

UPDATE 1, 1:20pm 5 May 2012: Community Food Connections, the nonprofit organization behind both the Downtown Phoenix Public Market and the Urban Grocery, released this statement:

“For the last 2.5 years, the Urban Grocery has been the only grocery store in downtown which also supports many small, diverse and local businesses. The outdoor market will continue that mission of supporting small farmers and businesses while creating a great community gathering place for the 100,000 people that came during the last year. I also want to personally thank our landlord and the City of Phoenix. Both have gone above and beyond in their support of this community project.”

“Additionally, Cindy Gentry has resigned as executive director of Community Food Connections. In my entire career I have honestly never met anyone so dedicated to the community and the mission of an organization. Her contribution to this community and downtown in particular has been amazing and she will be sorely missed. In the meantime the board of directors will continue the outdoor market with help from people already involved in running it on a weekly basis. Like any business there are risks with opening your doors and sometimes it just does not work out. It can be particularly difficult when it is such a community based business. However, I want everyone to keep the faith because the outdoor market is doing great.”

“Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the years and please come visit us at the Phoenix Public Market every Wednesday and Saturday.”

The Downtown Phoenix Public Market is closing

The Urban Grocery at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market is closing next weekend. For now, that’s all we know.

[UPDATED with an author’s note: for more thoughts on the closing of the indoor Downtown Phoenix Public Market, check out this post.]

The Urban Grocery at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market is closing next weekend.

For now, that’s all we know. The indoor grocery store, opened a couple years ago, is closing next Saturday 12 May. What is known is that the outdoor open-air markets will continue as well as Food Truck Friday.

Whatever the situation, this is sad news for downtown Phoenix. It’s hard to say why this is happening but I think part of it is a lack of density around the place and in downtown Phoenix. That an independent grocery store and hyperlocal market couldn’t survive is definitely troubling for downtown Phoenix’s renaissance.

It also confuses the downtown Phoenix conversation significantly.

Time will tell before we find out what’s happened. But we who fight the fight for downtown Phoenix just have been handed one of our most significant blows to date.

For more thoughts on the matter, I invite you to read “More thoughts on the Downtown Phoenix Public Market closure.”