Miami-Dade Metro Rail’s Complicated “EASY” Card

EASY-Card-productsLast week I had no choice but to call the customer department of the “EASY” card system from Miami-Dade’s metro rail. I thought I followed all their cumbersome and complicated system, but still, I was not able to see my account’s REAL balance.
-”Once you add value to your card online,  you should wait between 24 to 48 hs…” -What? did I hear right ? The system doesn’t allow you to use YOUR credit instantly as with the station’s kiosk. You have to wait a casual day or two in order to use.
-”If you don’t use your new credit in the next two weeks it might become voided” Add insult to injury. So, if you’re adding value to your card it should be ready whenever you need it, voiding it for limited usage is a mistake.
-”If you don’t use your credit in 30 days, it might expire” This is awful for occasional users. If you take the metro-rail orange line to the airport and return 45 days later, lets say at 6 PM, you would not be able to use your “EASY” card credit unless you call customer support. The friendly folks at customer support only operate during business hours. So there you have it.

This are just some of the many issues I mentioned on my lengthy email to the “EASY” dept people (No pun intended)
Next August I’m going to be commuting from Medical to Main campus.

I’ve discovered not only that my original “EASY” card had expired without me knowing, but that I had also expired credit inside it that I couldn’t transfer between cards by myself.

Did I also mentioned the lack of online support to solve this and all the other issues ?
Adding this and other simple online functionality can do wonders for the service and make it more accessible to riders.

There are many things that can be improved, a lot of great ideas come to mind; let’s hope the “EASY” card system can utilize them and expand their ridership.

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Autodesk 3D studio Max French Patio Door

patio_french_doorWe’re doing some small renovations at home and to illustrate the project I did a quick render of the final doors and wall.
Nowadays I’m extremely busy and, although I consider myself to be a very fast 3d modeler, I tried to get a free model online to simply render it to my needs. I was a little shocked to see how much such a simple object cost on some sites – up to $30 and $50 depending the database.
I decided to waste no more time and do it myself (I still needed some accurate proportions anyway…)
The Result has been uploaded here to the blog for anybody to use as a freeware 3d model of a patio french door. You might be in  a similar situation and have very little time to make it.

This is your chance to become the instant owner of a free virtual french patio door.

It came out alright, no fancy bells and whistles. Let me know if it helps you on your 3d project.

Model is 3ds MAX 2013 and 3ds

3ds_max_file French door Patio Window 3d Model 3ds Studio Max 2013

or as 3ds Flavor:

3ds_max_file French door Patio Window 3d Model 3ds

 

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Why is Retro always in fashion ?

 

Retro is never out of fashion

Retro is always coolI’ve always been a big fan of retro-futurism or modernism. I’ve been fascinated by the great deal of courage of some thinkers and inventors to make bold statement about the future from their present time. Since we live in such an ethnocentric society as ours, all these predictions and expectations are biased mostly in the technology language and vision of its era. Some predictions have come true after decades of their conception, others have come and gone.
We can now thank pop-culture for planting these concepts and ideas of our personal and community’s future and aspirations into our cerebral cortex. Which takes me to ask this question regarding our need to re-invent the past:
Why is Retro always in fashion ?
Perhaps to not just re-invent it but re-imagine it.
Objects, icons and ideas from the past chase us like our shadows, projecting its spectrum of that concept we were mere instants ago. There’s a fascination with re-exploring and bringing back the good, the bad and the ugly of ideas and design concepts.
Plato and its cavern knew a thing or two about what’s cool.

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Documentary equipment survey

It’s not the arrow, It’s the indian.

I hold this statement to be very true. The talent and eloquence of a professional storyteller goes above and beyond past and current technology.
Granted. Today’s technology allows us to capture breathtaking images on the cheap. The digital revolution has allowed everyone and their grandmother to shoot HD video while broadcasting it to YouTube; yet there’s an elusive talent required for the production of great stories that it’s impossible to purchase.
Not that long ago, professional equipment was prohibitive for the average independent filmmaker. Cameras, microphones and post equipment used to run in the several thousand dollars while discouraging to the faint at heart. Only very well funded production were taken seriously by networks and audiences… But one day, things changed for good and nobody has looked back ever since.

I wanted to share here this survey done by PBS regarding the gear selection from professional and upcoming documentary directors, producers and editors regarding their gear and the reasoning behind it.
I found it very interesting to see that most DSLR’s are Canon as a prime choice among docs work.
POV’s 2013 Documentary Filmmaking Equipment Survey

I’m too producing a small documentary here in South Florida. The experience from other people and their gear selections is always fascinating.

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A good teacher is priceless

Last week I was able to attend a class by musician extraordinaire Matthew Hill. I know Matthew from a few years back when he was Delou’s African Ensemble music director.

As any good teacher, Matthew is capable of breaking things down, but without making dull in any way. It’s no secret that It’s very hard for us, westerners, to learn and wrap our head around African culture and music. African music is not only a combination of sounds and rhythms, the culture and its tradition speaks by its own on every rhythm and celebration.

Before Matthew final departure from South Florida, I was able to do an interview with him for Miamidrums.com blog.
Here’s that interview. Enjoy

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Android App for the 4G LTE commuter

App recommendation:

Although this topic might have been beaten to death by the thousands of blogs devoted only to app review, I found it interesting to express my thoughts on particular apps that stand out. Even though this has not been envisioned as a series of post, it could well be an interesting idea to follow:

An App that is worth a dime,  and is free!

TuneIn Android App that works for 4g LTE
TuneIn Radio:

For these past 6 months my work’s commute had increased considerably. I saw it as an opportunity to be instructed – Audiobooks?-  and be entertained –food for thought? – in a way or fashion that would not interfere with the traffic rules and regulations of the state of Florida.

The App has many levels – even car mode, which might be practical for road warriors, but isn’t really complete with all the functionality of standard version.

At some point, you can be overwhelmed by the the amount of radio options from all over the world… geee, there are many radio stations out there.

I did find a few that I liked and I’ve saved:

Is like Pandora’s box. You don’t know what you might discover once you tune in. The variety and stream bandwidth are good. It’s like a blast from the classy past.

Because we need rock and this station has it. Sometimes local American radio stations, mostly own by media conglomerates, play the same 100 songs over and over again ( Please, Queen did more than 4 songs – give me a B side please!) This is not the case with K-Rock. I had listen to the classics as well as some new and interesting bands – The only downside is my poor German- I’m still trying to understand the full news broadcast every hour.

There are thousands of other options too, some good, some bad, some have terrible quality and very narrow bandwidth making it impossible to listen.

Truth be told, this was impossible to do with a smart phone only a few years ago. The arrival of metropolitan LTE 4G speeds has enabled us, the driving force in technology – as well as in American roads- to stream our favorite content without sacrificing content and quality anywhere and everywhere.

So, what about you, have you heard any good radio stations lately ?

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The Cave by Ron Gilbert

Thanks to some very well deserved time off during this holidays I was able to enjoy Gilbert’s The Cave adventure.
In case you’re not familiar with Mr. Gilbert‘s work, he was the leading force at Lucas Arts for many years and the creator of Monkey Island as well as the co-creator of Maniac Mansion (Can’t believe that was that long ago)

The game starts with a very interesting choice of characters: The knight, hillbilly, monk, twins, adventurer, future traveler and scientist. Each of them have its own special and unique ability to interact inside the cave. All broken characters that decide to adventure inside this forsaken cave to find answers to their journeys.
The game play isn’t that unique from other platform games, but what makes The Cave a unique experience is, first of all, the well written and hilarious text and story. I  might add that the graphics and design are beautiful to look at as, well as some funny animation moments.
As Plato, or J Campbell, the game is a true journey and ascension of the hero, sometimes the anti-hero. I guess it becomes complicated to hate your hero character when you’re in charge of its actions – not like in a fable or story.
The one who ventures down into the earth to find clues of its own existence but returns with a hilarious puzzle solving adventure.
Steam still has a sale on game. It’s out on PC, Mac, Linux, Ios and Android (really, smartphones? I do feel that this game is not as enjoyable on mobile devices as it’s on a full blown PC/Mac system)

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Coming back…

Yes, It has been a long time since my last post, dear reader. A lot of water has passed under the bridge – A new baby, citizenship and an atrocious house buying and moving process came into play.

Hoping that soon enough things can get back to a somewhat normal schedule – although nothing seems normal anymore…!

I wanted to drop and share a quick note regarding also a new digital change.  I’ve upgraded my old Samsung Nexus S for a shiny and new Nexus 5 from LG.  It’s hard to compare the both since they feel like decades apart from each other. Both Android phones just small versions away from each other (4.0.4 against 4.2.2)

I remember thinking that the S was miles away from my previous Motorola Droid (aka Milestone everywhere else except for the US)
This is the first time I purchase a phone without a contract, which releases the stress from carrier lock anxiety. Now I know I can travel and take my phone along without asking permission to my home carrier – which was also changed to T-mobile in the last couple of months, but that’s another story.
All I can say is that the nexus 5 is a great phone. I have no idea how LG and Google did that price tag with those tech specs, but It’s just amazing.

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Giving you childish spirit away

I came across this nice Greek video for organization Earth at Vimeo.
Very nice use of interface design applied to a video piece as well as awesome color correction+art direction.
Simple concept, good production values with little more than a toy an great camera angles. An example that you can do much with little!

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RIM – Short for: Real Inconceivable Mismanaged – Mess

Let’s start with one question that I have done to friends in the last year:

Is BlackBerry maker Research In Motion doomed?

My short answer is Yes, they’re.
The writing has been on the wall for over 12 months – I had this conversation early this year with a business associate of mine that works in the marketing department of a third party RIM Enterprise server solution.
I feel that the same thing that happen to Sony, as the giant of electronics, is happening to RIM in the mobile sector.

Innovation

Such an important and revolutionary word. Blackberry advances have been few and non-radical when you compare them to its biggest competitors: Iphone and Android. Still, the enterprise world relies in its outstanding security platform for emails and communication,. but that’s about it. All their new development feel old and “being there, done that” kind of thing.
When most people defend their blackberries functionality and reliability I can’t help to remember all those business users that were stuck to the Lotus mail application at the beginning of the century. Most of them got stuck to Lotus because it was bundled with their corporation IT solution – Novell, IBM, etc. It was a terrible, or at least mediocre email client with no rich media or html functionality.
I remember developing emails blast campaigns and hating how bad Lotus Notes and Mail rendered even the most simple graphic.

Image

Once you’re product isn’t cool anymore, It’s time to start to think again about your entire communication strategy. Technology products thrive by its coolness and their absolute obsession by all early adopters. Without this, it’s just very hard to get people excited about how a new gadget or device would change their lives for ever. Apple’s communication tries to do it every time. Sometimes better, sometimes simply bad or not as effective as they think.
Blackberries latest media campaign was weak, if not bad in many levels.

I’m really not sure how the client could have given the green light for this campaign, but the media buying was quite impressive last year. Against all client’s advertising rules, not once we see the product or its functionality. How can someone get excited about a product if a character is not really excited about the product – Sometimes having real people is worst than having no people at all!
I’m not alone in my claims. Sadly I have never owned a Blackberry myself, but my commentary is purely an observation and perception of  RIM’s products and lack, or lost, of leadership. There are again some news about a new product line with BlackBerry 7 OS coming out in a few months, although there it seems not to be a major update on the new OS.
To make matters worse, there’s a claim that the half a million PlayBooks units sold by RIM were not at full margins. – Perhaps at a very deep discounts without making real gains or profits for RIM.
Is it too little too late? Time will tell…

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