Headscarves and clothing in Turkey

Women wore all sorts of different styles of headscarves in Istanbul. Some tightly circled their faces, some covered all but their eyes, others loosely draped them over their heads. I think the variety might have been a result of there being tourists from all over the Middle East.

Most women were covered from neck to wrist to ankle. Younger, trendier women wore Western-style fashions but with a skin-tight covering underneath. Often the covering was black while the clothes, especially tank tops and skirts, were brightly colored. Oddly enough this contrast drew as much attention as a Westerner without the under- cover. These women did not mind showing off their figure.

A ludicrous but common sight was a black-burka’d woman accompanying a man wearing a polo shirt and capris. By contrast it made the men look half-naked at first glance. The heat must’ve been unbearable for the women but I never saw anyone fanning themself or showing any signs of discomfort (though of course the men did). Overall the burkas reflected not on the culture or the women, but on the men accompanying them. I would look at them and my mind would spit ‘Prick!’ in disgust.

Headscarves were a lot less common outside of Istanbul, and nearly non- existent in Çıralı. None of the many women working at Hotel Canada wore one.

Turkey by the numbers

My trip to Turkey in July, in a numerical sense:

15 days
1 turban
74 GB of photos and video (RAW and HD)
30 calls to prayer
4 flavors of homemade jam at each breakfast
2 overnight buses
$0.65 price for 1.5L bottle of water
2 shirts worn
102 deg F highest temperature
4 boxes of Turkish Delight
11 hour flight each way
1 other American (aside from concert)
1 shot of rakı
2 Wonders of the World
(?) miles covered by GPS

Too many to count:

Cups of tea
Carpet shops
Bottles of water

5 Reasons why Twitter should not replace your RSS feed

Recently, many blogs have gotten into the habit of putting links to all of their posts on Twitter. Sure, this lets their followers find out about new posts in real time, but it’s really stepping into the territory of RSS feeds. While at first a blogger might think they’re getting their posts out to two sets of readers — RSS subscribers and Twitter followers — I think in the long run it hurts their readership. Here are just five reasons why:

1. Tweets “expire”


While of course tweets will be forever archived and searchable, Twitter has a very strong of-the-moment nature. When you check your timeline, you see the most recent tweets from friends. Anything that’s older than a certain time is going to be overlooked. When I come across a link to a blog post in my timeline, I feel compelled to click on it now because there’s no built-in mechanism for coming back to it later. My email inbox and RSS feeds will wait until I’m ready.

2. It’s redundant clutter

It’s enough of a battle to keep up with everyone’s witty comments and hilarious links, but now even full-length blog posts are thrown into the mix. Twitter is for short and sweet messages — you don’t check your timeline with the intention of cozying up to a half hour of blog reading.

3. RSS is organized, Twitter is not

And it shouldn’t be. Twitter is for quick tidbits, all of a similar nature. RSS feeds come in from all over the web, and most users have them categorized in their favorite reader.

4. Twitter is about identity, RSS is for link dumping

Twitter is for personal correspondence or retweeting interesting tidbits. Link dumps, like RSS feeds, have no personality — why should I follow one? I can’t reply to it, and it won’t write to me, so why bother? Corporate blogs should use Twitter to reach out to their audience and humanize themselves.

5. You’re not letting readers follow you in their own way

This one has a bit of crossover with points 2 and 3. I’ve got my online reading routine, and I want to consume content in a particular way. Tweeting links forces me out of this routine, but not in a way where I can still manage things. I’ve got my blog posts and news in my RSS feeds and I’d like them to stay there, thankyouverymuch. I know you just made a killer post, and I’ll read it — when I get to my RSS feeds.


What to do instead

Use Twitter as a reminder of your blog or to highlight really special posts. Tweet about one post a week, or maybe one a day if you’re really high-volume. Or as, @Gadling does, time-shift selected posts — chances are, if a reader skips over an RSS item from 7am, they may just catch that 6pm tweet.

Clogging Twitter with Spam

It has always been inevitable that Twitter would be used for spam, and perhaps what’s most discouraging is that it’s the useful sites like Tweetgrid that make gathering usernames so easy. All a spammer needs to do is search for a couple key words related to their product, and then send links to those users. Such a process can be, and already is, easily automated in real time.

An example struck me today. While the Premier League can’t seem to grasp the marketing potential of Twitter and the web in general, the nefarious UK betting sites are all over it. One cannot mention the name of a club without finding a couple “so-and-so is now following you on Twitter” emails in the inbox shortly thereafter. Today I tried tweeting about a match using alternative names, referring to Chelsea as Chelski (quite original, I know), but even so I was immediately pounced upon by a site called ChelskiBet. Sure enough, the account had a low followers/following ratio and all of its messages were links to a betting site.

How useful can Twitter be if people have to resort to alternative wording to avoid spam? Tweeting “just got tickets for the Y@nkeez game” is not only quite annoying, but it also makes search and discovery difficult for legitimate users. It is also, as I found out, an uphill battle as spammers simply catch on and adapt.

Should Twitter start using Gmail-like filtering for spam?

France Travelogue

This is a collection of every mundane detail of our trip to Paris on March 13/14-18, 2005, for future reference. There will not be any mention of what we did in Paris or anything fun at all.

We flew on United Airlines, coach class:

• Albany [ALB] > Washington (Dulles) [IAD] (322 miles, 1hr 35mn, seats assigned at booking)

• Washington > Paris (Charles de Gaulle/Roissy) [CDG] (3845 miles, 7hr 20mn, seats assigned at booking)

Arrived early on the morning of the 14th

• Paris > Chicago (O’Hare) [ORD] (4142 miles, 9hr 40mn, seats assigned upon check-in)

• Chicago > Albany (715, 2hr 6mn, seats assigned at booking)

Arrived around 9pm the evening of the 18th

€1 = $1.33, or $1.50 in tourist areas

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A Solution for Private Urban Transportation

Travellers in urban environments face a personal dilemma: should they use the crowded subway or train system, or endure high traffic while in the private comfort of their own cars? Both of these systems have their benefits and drawbacks. Subways have the benefit of communication — all subway trains can know the position and route of all other trains. On the other hand, cars provide cozy comfort, keeping their drivers away from the masses of commuters. The best solution to urban transportation would be private vehicles that are controlled by an all-knowing authority. To go one step further, such a system should also account for changing traffic conditions and calculate the shortest (in terms of time) possible route for a particular vehicle.

General Solution
I propose a transportation system of individual, self-driving vehicles connected by a network of rails controlled by a central control unit. Each vehicle would hold two to four people, with no driver. A passenger would enter a vehicle and denote his/her destination. The request would be sent to the central control unit, which would determine the best path for the vehicle to take. It is important to note that a communter cares not how much distance lies between him and his destination, but rather how much time it will take to get there. The shortest path from point A to point B may not be a straight line if that line passes through a point of traffic congestion. The control unit can easily determine, based on the requests and routes of the other vehicles, which path will take the least amount of time for the vehicle to reach its destination.

A control unit that responds in real time has many benefits. It would be able to respond to changing traffic flow, weather, and other factors. If a part of the rail were to be under repair or, say, in front of a burning building, the control unit could route vehicles out of the area to keep it cleared. The control unit could also predict traffic patterns based on past experience. For example, if there are a high number of requests to leave Main Street at 5 PM on weekdays, the control unit could prepare by routing empty cars into the area at 4:30 PM in anticipation.

There also would not be any crashes between vehicles since their routes are pre-determined and constantly monitored.

Practical Implementation
This system could be used most effectively if the rails were placed along every street in a dense urban district. Potential passengers could request a vehicle by pushing a button on a post, which would be located in several places along every block on both sides of the street. The passenger would then enter an empty vehicle when it arrived, deposit fare, and denote a destination. The destination could be inputted via a touch screen displaying a map of the town, by typing in an address, etc. Users could also have a unique “key” that would bill their fare as well as keep track of frequent destinations, such as their home, office, friend’s home, favorite restaurant, etc. Upon establishing a destination, the control unit would be contacted with the request and the passenger would just sit back and relax. The vehicles could contain a radio, advertisements, storage space, etc.

The rails could be built into the road surface like trolley rails. Since the system would supplant many cars, the road space used by the rails would not be missed.

Each vehicle could be assigned a priority. Users may pay different fares depending on how quickly they would like to arrive at their destination. For example, for two cars travelling the same route, the passenger who paid more would be able to take a more direct route as traffic could be routed away from him. The posts that are used to request vehicles could also bear an emergency button that would request a vehicle, give it a high priority, automatically send it to a hospital or police station, and notify law enforcement of the position of the vehicle and where the button was pressed.