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2009 (old posts, page 5)

Urban decay and abandonment

I've always enjoyed photography that captures the theme of urban decay and abandonment. Something to do with the massive concrete structures, once built with such ambition and promise, now lying unkempt and uninhabited.

24 Tales of Ghost Towns and Abandoned Cities 23-kowloon-walled-city-destroyed1[1]

Various Trips to Titan Silos in California and Colorado 2198343755_3ed4361fc4[1]

Five modern abandoned cities abandoned-city-2[1]

To some extent even the photos from urban exploration adventures expose some of the same unseen facets of modern cities. Although some of those expeditions are a bit extreme they do serve as a reminder that there is a huge amount of infrastructure, but active and abandoned, required to support a city and industry.

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The fun theory

What better way to start writing about incentive models than a couple of videos that show the effect that transforming the mundane into something fun can have on peoples' habits.

In one case turning some stairs that ran alongside an escalator into a human-sized piano increased their usage by some 66 percent. And people enjoyed the additional exercise too. [youtube=]

Separately, 'enhancing' a regular park trash can doubled the amount of properly-disposed-of garbage compared to a similar one nearby. [youtube=]

The theory: Put the right incentives in place and habits will quickly change accordingly.

More on this at

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The consequences of incentives

Over the last few years I've been gathering examples of interesting cases in an area that I've generally called 'incentive models'. This post serves as an introduction to a series of observations, some where the right model works well and others where the shortcomings are.

First let's define an incentive model as the set of circumstances that make certain behaviors or outcomes inevitable. In other words, how does the environment relate to the choices individuals make in going about their lives. In what way do constraints on time, a philosophy of issuing rewards, a practice of acknowledgment of achievement, a feeling of ownership or a sense of belonging have on an individual's or a group's choices, priorities, level of enthusiasm and trade-offs?

Posts are filed under the Incentives category.

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Wedding photos

Amy and I got married a couple of weeks ago at Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend, Washington. We had a great time, everything went smoothly, and it was very special to have so many family and friends in one place together.

Holly Strand with Beautiful Endings did an absolutely fabulous job with the pictures. She was great throughout the day, clearly passionate and excited by what she was doing, considerate to the hectic sequence of the day and thoughtful of things that can easily get overlooked (like eating!), all while being almost invisible as she went about capturing some great shots. I would strongly recommend her.

Amy and Andy on the Beautiful Endings Blog

Update: High resolution pictures uploaded to Amy and Andy Oakley wedding photos.

andy_amy collage

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Verizon MiFi 2200 review

verizon-mifi-2200 I've had a Verizon MiFi 2200 unit for the better part of a month now. The concept is really simple: you press a button and the device creates a bridge between the Verizon high speed wireless network and your very own WiFi hotspot. Simple, fast connectivity anywhere without wires.

The short summary is that it does exactly what it claims to. I've used it throughout Seattle and the Eastside as well as several more remote parts of the Olympic Peninsula and have not had any issues at all with coverage or speed.

Setup is easy with a one-time install of the wireless management software for activation and it can be uninstalled after that since it's not subsequently needed. 'Unlimited' data plans are rather steep at $59.99 a month but the convenience factor is huge. My bus commute has become a lot more productive as previously there was only so much e-mail management or blog reading to be done on a small phone screen.

I have to believe the costs will drop as time goes by. Regardless, one thing is clear: this is like getting that first cell phone and once you're used to it there's no going back.

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I love the visualizations in this video, especially the scale transitions and construct decomposition. Simple, clear and data rich, it has lots of my favorite things in one place.


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Stephen Fry on America's place in the world

Earlier this year, Stephen Fry gave the Spectator Lecture at the Royal Geographical Society in London and the full transcript, titled America's place in the world, is posted on his blog. Although it's a long read, it's one of the most perceptive accounts of the differences between Britain and the US that I think I've ever come across and he captures it far more eloquently than I ever could.

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Woodland Park Zoo

With the week away from work we've enjoyed doing some things we rarely find the time to do normally. Monday was a great day to visit the zoo and get some photos.

There's probably an argument to be made that taking pictures of animals at the zoo is cheating but it's certainly a lot easier than taking a safari trip.



The new snow leopard cubs were very playful too while mother was looking somewhat more serious.


Woodland Park Zoo set on Flickr.

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Snow Lake and Source Lake

Despite a cooler morning and overcast skies we headed out on I-90 yesterday for a hike. Parking in the lot at Alpental we took the trail up to Snow Lake and the Source Lake Overlook. It didn't take long to rise up above the low cloud cover to enjoy beautiful clear skies, fall colors in the meadows and a stunning view of the lake on the other side of the peak.



Snow Lake set on Flickr. Snow Lake details at WTA Source Lake details at WTA

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Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival

With my parents in town ahead of our wedding we made an early trip out to Port Townsend to wrap up some final details and make a trip to the annual Wooden Boat Festival. The weather was stunning for the occasion and the mix of boats, big and small, and of many different styles and backgrounds was impressive to see. It's refreshing to see so much energy, excitement and enjoyment around an interest like this.



Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival set on Flickr.