September 20th, 2009

Apparently Vélib (Paris) been having the same problems as Bixi (Montreal).

At least, Gulliver, the Economist's travel blog, thinks so:
The Vélib—the city-wide system of rental bicycles—is superb. It got these two tourists, who would never otherwise have dreamed of pedal-power, cycling all over town. And town felt smaller and more intimate as a result.

But the Vélib is not quite as user-friendly as you might hope. We first-timers spent a lot of time faffing around, working out the payment system, worrying about our deposits, and failing to remove bikes from their stands. We also struggled to find Vélib stations with a free space where we could return our bikes, and ended up going quite far out of our way just to get rid of them.
Sounds like Bixi to me.

I hope they get some of these bugs out of the system by the time it reaches Boston next year.

Twitter appears to have convinced some investors that it's worth a billion dollars.

From Felix Salmon's blog:

"Twitter seems to have quadrupled in value over the course of just a few months: after raising $35 million at a $250 million valuation earlier this year, it’s now raising another $50 million at a — wait for it — $1 billion valuation. At these kind of levels, one assumes, there must be some idea of how to make money in the future. I also hope the founders are beginning to cash out at this point: or does Twitter really have a burn rate which would make Michael Wolff proud?"

Heads up! (Washington, DC)

The Canadians are staging mock Afghan attacks at their embassy in downtown Washington next week.

“It should provide the full flavour of hyper-realistic training,” said Col. Martin [military attaché at the Canadian embassy], adding: “Absolutely, you are going to hear it out on Pennsylvania Avenue.”
There will be "scheduled IED attacks at noon and 2 p.m. on Sept. 23".

"[E]mbassy officials say they have a green light from the Secret Service, the State Department and the D.C. fire marshal."

The best blog comment I've seen on this said something like, "It's a trick! The last time Canadians did something like this in Washington, they burned down the White House!"

Edit: Alas, they decided to scale it back after the 9/11 flap over the Coast Guard exercise on the Potomac. The Post reports:
A planned Canadian military demonstration that would have included simulated bomb blasts within blocks of the White House and the Capitol, has been scaled back after media reports focused on the explosive elements.

The Canadian Embassy had planned to simulate the detonation of an improvised explosive device several times over two days starting Sept. 23 to demonstrate what life is like in war-torn Afghanistan and how Canadian forces there respond with medical help.

Under the new scenario, it is likely that people on Pennsylvania Avenue will hear loud voices behind the 6-foot gate surrounding a fake Afghan village in the Canadian Embassy's driveway, Martin said. But there will be no sounds of fake gun shots or bomb explosions, he said.

"The IED portion - pun intended - has blown out of proportion," Martin told the AP. And on Thursday, the Canadian defense minister decided not to include the IED blast in its program or do anything else to scare the general population, spokesman Dan Dugas said in Toronto.

"I don't think it's required to make loud noises on the Mall to show people what the Canadian Forces are doing in Afghanistan," Dugas said. "We're doing a fabulous job and at a cost. And I think it's sufficient to remind Americans of our contribution to this international mission without having to set off pyrotechnics."