Impressive automated bicycle parking in Japan

Automated cycle parking in Japan: roll bike in, machine whips it underground and parks it. Come back later, tap your membership card, bike is retrieved and away you go. Genius.

Bike Enters EcoCycle

Danny Choo did a TV piece about these clever EcoCycle bike parking facilities a while back. He also did a great photo post of images shot during filming, which includes details on the machines’ workings (the bikes are parked in underground wells, each with the capacity for 200 bikes, for example) and instructions on where to find them in Tokyo.

If you want to take a look at Eco Cycle in action, you need to first get off at Shinagawa station and head towards Kounanhoshi Park [こうなん星の公園] at the location on the map below.
Or copy paste the following into your mobile device maps app.



The company that created the EcoCycle, Giken, describes the technology on its website thus:

Eco-cycle is an anti-seismic mechanical underground parking lot. Giken aggregated own long term experience of press-in technologies and developed the Eco-cycle with the design concept of “Culture Aboveground, Function Underground”. If bicycle parking is available near final destination, people use the facility more often. It eventually eliminates nuisance parking at footpath. Such space at footpath can be utilised for cultural activities.

Quite so. Giken also does automated underground car parks.


Say hello to Ugly River

Browsing the NZ Gazette, the government’s official newspaper, last week I came across a parcel of new official geographic names being approved and one or two discontinued.

This happens fairly often as it turns out and this Land Information New Zealand page is a good place to get a heads-up.  There’s plenty of detail too on the naming process, including a checklist for proposing a name and a flowchart describing the process.

All the names of all the New Zealand places (as in mountains and lakes but not as in street names) are held in the:

New Zealand Gazetteer of Official Geographic Names

Official names are approved, discontinued or altered by the New Zealand Geographic Board Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa (NZGB).

Among the 66 freshly approved geographic names announced in the gazette last week were:

Burial Point                                      Point
Ligar Bay                                           Bay
Limestone Bay                                 Bay
Takapou                                            Locality
Tata Islands                                     Island
Deception Creek                             River


Blue Shirt Creek                              Stream
Bluffy Creek                                     Stream
Caldervale                                         Locality
Deception Creek                              Stream
Gunner River                                   Stream
Heaphy Bluff                                    Cliff
Horrible Creek                               Stream


Last but not least was Ugly River, a Stream. Welcome, Ugly River!


The board has opened another 18 name change proposals – some of which relate to the area around Miranda Hot Springs – for consultation:




Assign a new name:

  • Pūkorokoro Hot Springs – to an unnamed feature known as ‘Miranda Hot Springs’;

Alter existing official or recorded names:

  • Pūkorokoro Hill – from ‘Pukorokoro’ (recorded);
  • Pūkorokoro / Miranda (locality) – from ‘Miranda’ (recorded);
  • Pūkorokoro Stream – from ‘Pukorokoro Stream’ (recorded);
  • Waiotahe (locality) – from ‘Waiotahi’ (official);
  • Waiotahe Beach – from ‘Waiotahi Beach’ (official);
  • Waiotahe Beach (locality) – from ‘Waiotahi Beach’ (official);
  • Waiotahe Estuary Scenic Reserve – from ‘Waiotahi Estuary Scenic Reserve’ (official);
  • Waiotahe Forest – from ‘Waiotahi Forest’ (official);
  • Waiotahe Knoll – from ‘Waiotahi Knoll’ (undersea recorded);
  • Waiotahe River – from ‘Waiotahi River’ (official);
  • Waiotahe Rock – from ‘Waiotahi Rock’ (undersea recorded);
  • Waiotahe Scenic Reserve – from ‘Waiotahi Scenic Reserve’ (official);
  • Waiotahe Spit Historic Reserve – from ‘Waiotahi Spit Historic Reserve’ (official);
  • Waiotahe Spit Scenic Reserve – from ‘Waiotahi Spit Scenic Reserve’ (official);
  • Waiotahe Valley (locality) – from ‘Waiotahi Valley’ (official);
  • Te Ramaroa / Mackays Crossing (locality) – from ‘Mackays Crossing’ (recorded).

Discontinue names:

  • Miranda Hot Springs (locality) – for a locality that does not exist.

Any member of the public can make a submission either in support of, or objecting to, these proposals.

Submissions can be made in writing to the Secretary for the New Zealand Geographic Board, via the online forms, or to

The deadline for submissions is 28 November 2014. Add to GCal or iCal from here.


NZ punches pretty high in ‘internet penetration by population’ (2013)

The Atlantic talks about an interesting graphic from the Oxford Internet Institute showing penetration of internet use by population around the world.

The map, created as part of the Information Geographies project at the Oxford Internet Institute, has two layers of information: the absolute size of the online population by country (rendered in geographical space) and the percent of the overall population that represents (rendered by color). Thus, Canada, with a relatively small number of people takes up little space, but is colored dark red, because more than 80 percent of people are online. China, by contrast, is huge, with more than half a billion people online, but relatively lightly shaded, since more than half the population is not online. Lightly colored countries that have large populations, such as China, India, and Indonesia, are where the Internet will grow the most in the years ahead. (The data come from the World Bank’s 2011 report, which defines Internet users as “people with access to the worldwide network.”)

New Zealand is one of few countries outside Europe to have more than 80% of its population online. Brilliant. Now, if we could just get it to go a bit faster….

Internet Penetration by Population 2011

The Oxford Internet Institute publishes this map under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.





Introducing the ‘DwellRank’ search algorithm

Quartz’s Christopher Mims has written a piece about Blippex, a search engine which weights results based on how long people spend on a site and how many times its users have visited (as distinct from Google’s PageRank, which weights more on how many other pages on the web link to it).

Blippex’s algorithm, called DwellRank, decides relevance based on how long users spend on a site and how many times Blippex users have visited it. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have, independently of the Blippex team, established that the amount of time someone spends on a web page or document is, not surprisingly, a pretty good measure of how important and relevant it is (pdf).

The consequence of this is that the only pages in Blippex’s search index are those its own users have visited. It has only two million pages, compared to the tens of billions of pages and trillions of links that have been indexed by Google. (There are many more links than pages on the web because most are spam, duplicates, or unhelpfully different from one another.)

The result is a search directory that’s currently only as good as the (mostly tech-focused) people who are early adopters of new web services. That means it’s great for things related to computer programming, pretty good for recent events, and nearly useless for more obscure search terms.

Read more about Blippex on Quartz.

Back doors, mobile phones, persuasion: the NSA does it all (2013)


The headlines just keep on coming…

N.S.A. Foils Much Internet Encryption | NY Times
The National Security Agency is winning its long-running secret war on encryption, using supercomputers, technical trickery, court orders and behind-the-scenes persuasion to undermine the major tools protecting the privacy of everyday communications in the Internet age, according to newly disclosed documents.

Most 2006-2009 NSA queries of a phone database broke court rules | Reuters
The National Security Agency routinely violated court-ordered privacy protections between 2006 and 2009 by examining phone numbers without sufficient intelligence tying them to associates of suspected terrorists, according to U.S. officials and documents that were declassified on Tuesday.

Privacy Scandal: NSA Can Spy on Smart Phone Data | Spiegel
SPIEGEL has learned from internal NSA documents that the US intelligence agency has the capability of tapping user data from the iPhone, devices using Android as well as BlackBerry, a system previously believed to be highly secure.

NSA shares raw intelligence including Americans’ data with Israel | Guardian
The National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens, a top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals.

Google encrypts data amid backlash against NSA spying | Washington Post
Google is racing to encrypt the torrents of information that flow among its data centers around the world in a bid to thwart snooping by the NSA and the intelligence agencies of foreign governments, company officials said.

Drug Agents Use Vast Phone Trove, Eclipsing N.S.A.’s | NY Times
For at least six years, law enforcement officials working on a counternarcotics program have had routine access, using subpoenas, to an enormous AT&T database that contains the records of decades of Americans’ phone calls — parallel to but covering a far longer time than the National Security Agency’s hotly disputed collection of phone call logs.

The US government has betrayed the internet. We need to take it back | Guardian
We need to know how exactly how the NSA and other agencies are subverting routers, switches, the internet backbone, encryption technologies and cloud systems. I already have five stories from people like you, and I’ve just started collecting. I want 50. There’s safety in numbers, and this form of civil disobedience is the moral thing to do.

Part 3: Verifying Keys | Keith Ng’s how-to series on encryption | Public Address
So there’s a public key on my page. How do you know that’s *my* key? Anyone could have created that key, just like I created the John PGPKey key. For all you know, some Russian hacker could have taken over Public Address and put that key there. As a first step, you should look up my key. My key is published, so you can go to this keyserver and look up it up using my name.



Are Kiwis *really* that into downloads and marrying their cousins? (2013)

Google search suggestions by country

Noah Veltman has grabbed and compared Google search suggestions from the US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand. Suggestions from Google in New Zealand for “Is it legal…” and “Is it illegal…” seem to be all about downloading movies, music and TV shows – along with marrying your cousin and having a pet sloth. Interesting to have a look at the whole list of suggestions by country. Via FlowingData.

Google search suggestions by country