1. Panda Diplomacy is China’s use of giant pandas as diplomatic gifts to other countries. The practice existed as far back as the Tang Dynasty, when Empress Wu Zetian (625–705) sent a pair of pandas to the Japanese emperor.

     
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  3. I got curious about the Emoji codified in Unicode. There’s a lot of them.

    So I’ve made a handy reference manual which you can buy in newsprint for £5 (inc. UK delivery).

     

  4. New Long Press feature for WeMo Light Switches

    ifttt:

    Update your WeMo Light Switch’s firmware to take advantage of the new Long Press feature!

    Simply press and hold your Light Switch for two seconds or more to fire off new WeMo Recipes.

    IFTTT Recipe: Toggle on/off your WeMo Switch with a #LongPress on your Light Switch connects wemo-light-switch to wemo-switch

    IFTTT Recipe: Send an email to friends or family when your Wemo Light Switch is #LongPressed connects wemo-light-switch to gmail

    IFTTT Recipe: Tweet when your Wemo Light Switch is #LongPressed connects wemo-light-switch to twitter

    For more WeMo Recipe inspiration, see Belkin’s profile.

    'Long press' light switches…

     
  5. The French city of Bordeaux wanted to redesign their 10-year-old hire bikes. After an initial public participation phase (which seems to have involved an online survey and a request for ideas), they worked with designer Philipe Starck to develop The Pibal.

    The unique feature? No crossbar, and instead a low footplate, enable you to ‘scoot’ whilst in heavy traffic. The first 20 test units are now in circulation, with a further order of 300 due in June.

    The frame is aluminium, and the bike is manufactured by Peugot (allowing it to be proudly ‘made in France’).

    It’s quite a striking design. I’d be interested to see how strong it is, given that the role of the crossbar is presumably to improve rigidity (although step-through frames are hardly new).

    'Scooting' isn't normally all that difficult on a regular bike, but if this makes it more comfortable to stand up on, that might be enough of an improvement.

    Anyhow, good on Bordeaux for trying something different.

    Via Dezeen.

    Images: Philippe Starck/Peugeot (top) and AFP (bottom)

     
  6. martinekenblog:

    Yuma Kano’s Screw :) is a collaborative project with Komuro Manufacturing Co., Ltd. If you’re going to make a proprietary screw that is hard to open, you might as well make it fun to look at?

    (Source: notcot.org, via siansburys)

     
  7. Legible London System Architecture (VERSION 01, 2010)

    Re-remembering how good this document was. Great to see how widely the system has been adopted.

    I wish TfL would publish a more up-to-date version of the guide (the mastermap covers a much bigger area now).

     
  8. Transport for London has partnered with media and advertising company Clear Channel UK to trial a real-time mapping tool at a Regent Street bus stop. 

    The new mapping tool was developed and funded by Clear Channel to coincide with the Year of the Bus – a celebration of both the heritage of London buses and a look ahead to their future.

    TfL and Clear Channel team up to trial interactive London bus stop

    Looks like a good attempt at improving real time information at bus stops. Will be interesting to see how people interact with it (especially as this is a busy location, and so being the person who chooses the view could be quite socially awkward).

    The fact that it’s funded by an ad company is a bit suspicious though – presumably means they’re exploring the idea that the screens could be used for a hybrid of public information and advertising (to fund them). But how would this work? You’d have to wait and watch some ads before you can use it? Or would it rotate through ads whilst in ‘idle’ mode, requiring an initial touch to exit the ads and view the information, thus removing the ‘glancability’ of the screens?

     

  9. The first Cycle Hire bikes not to feature Barclays logos?

     

  10. stoweboyd:

    Charlie Warzel reports on hints and statements of intent at Twitter about moving the ‘arcane’ language of microsyntax (@, #, in particular) down into the infrastructure. He mentions a recent talk by Vivian Schiller:

    What will Twitter look like in a year? Two years? A lot less like itself.

    At least that’s the impression Vivian Schiller, head of news at Twitter, gave addressing the crowd two days ago at the Newspaper Association of America’s mediaXchange conference in Denver. During her talk, Schiller called at-replies and hashtags “arcane” and hinted that Twitter might soon move them into the background of the service.

    When asked about the comments, Twitter replied that Schiller was echoing a similar sentiment that the company’s CEO, Dick Costolo, addressed in a recent earnings call:

    By bringing the content of Twitter forward and pushing the scaffolding of the language of Twitter to the background, we can increase high-quality interactions and make it more likely that new or casual users will find this service as indispensable as our existing core users do. And we took initial steps in that direction with the introduction of media forward timelines and in-line social actions in October, and we’re already starting to see early signs that those initiatives are working well.

    Unlike Schiller’s, Costolo’s statement makes no specific mention of hashtags and at-replies, suggesting that Schiller may have accidentally hinted at specific targets for upgrade. While it’s not immediately clear how this disappearance would work, it’s possible that at-replies will be auto-replaced by formal Twitter names, like they are on Facebook.

    Hiding the # and @ characters would be like a city burying all the electric wires and TV cables so that people can see things better.

    Twitter has already done away with explicit retweets (the old RT), and streamlined the way that URLs are handled, so why wouldn’t they want to clear out the unintuitive #hashtags and @mentions?

    Hiding the # and @ characters would be like a city burying all the electric wires and TV cables so that people can see things better.

    And this is coming from the guy that coined the term hashtag. I would be happy to drop the hash and just have real tags. But we still need to be able to tag tweets, even if we won’t be wasting characters with them. And by making tags real metadata, Twitter may finally get around to treating them as something more than just a # and a string of characters.

    Here’s a picture of the explicit @mention being suppressed in an Android experimental app:

    I can see some people getting uppity about this (the same people perhaps who use MT or HT or who advocate using ^ and initials to denote authorship of group accounts), but ultimately I think it’s more important to see the microsyntax as hacks to add functionality. If that functionality can still be achieved whilst improving the readability of the design (eg by showing replies inline) then that’s all for the better.