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Hacking the Road: Roundabouts

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If you are from the US, you might be surprised at how prevalent roundabouts are in most of the world. Outside of Carmel, Indiana which has 125 roundabouts, these are pretty unusual in the United States though have been gaining in popularity over the past decade. It turns out, that while a modern roundabout is safer and more efficient than other intersection types, roundabouts got a bad rap early on and so the typical US driver still has a lot of anxiety when approaching one.

Prior to 1966, traffic circles were a spotty thing. In some cases, they were just big circular junctions. In others, the right-of-way rules were difficult to figure out or there were traffic lights and stop signs that did not lead to a better or safer driving experience.

Enter Frank Blackmore. In the UK, he introduced the “Priority Rule” which — simply — mandates that traffic entering a circle must give way to traffic already in the circle. Blackmore worked out that this method increases traffic flow by 10%. Although this kind of roundabout became law in the UK in 1966, the US was slow to adopt, primarily due to negative public opinion. In 2016, there were about 4,800 modern roundabouts in the U.S while France and the UK have roughly 55,000 combined.

So what are the virtues of the modern rounabout, and where did it come from? Let’s take a look.

Modern Style

The modern roundabout has several features that were lacking on most older rotary traffic junctions. We already mentioned the priority rule. But a modern roundabout also requires cars to turn to enter the roundabout. This forces cars to slow and makes the intersection safer.

A roundabout is cheaper over the long run. There are no traffic signals to maintain and there is no power required. A single-lane roundabout can handle over 20,000 vehicles a day. The two-lane version can handle at least 40,000. Because there is less stopping and waiting, emissions are reduced, and the circles are more fuel-efficient, too.

Provably Safer For Cars, Less So for Cyclists

But the real pay off is in safety. Studies show that modern roundabouts are safer than other kinds of intersections for both drivers and pedestrians. A US study shows 39% fewer vehicle collisions, 76% fewer injuries and 90% fewer serious injuries and fatalities when an intersection changes into a modern roundabout. A New Zealand study did show, however, that bicycle/automobile accidents were higher at traffic circles.

It is a bit intimidating when you have a lot of streets feeding one circle. The Place Charles de Gaulle surrounding the Arc de Triomphe which has 12 roads feeding it. What really gets confusing is when you have multiple circles going different directions. The video below shows Swindon’s “magic roundabout” that has seven circles together!

Hack PR

You might consider this a civil engineering hack, but really we think the real interesting thing here is more social engineering. Just because you develop something better doesn’t mean people will flock to it. The US still won’t budge on using the metric system. The Dvorak keyboard remains an oddity (though it’s benefits may have been overhyped). People still write checks and use FAX machines. We still resist traffic circles.

Perhaps what Blackmore failed to consider is that in addition to tests showing the efficiency and safety of the roundabout, he should have also turned in a public relations campaign to convince people about the benefits. If you have the next great idea that will change everything, maybe you’ll take the Blackmore lesson to heart.

Usually, traffic circles don’t have lights, and we do like traffic lights. Especially the old fashioned kind.



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Microsoft Teams takes on Zoom with bizarre new feature

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Microsoft is adding a virtual auditorium view to its Teams communication platform in a bid to make video meetings feel more natural during lockdown.

The firm has developed AI technology that places participants alongside one another, digitally seated with the same background, creating the impression everyone is in the same room.

‘Together mode’ is designed to help people feel more connected and less fatigued by video meetings, which have become commonplace among those working from home since coronavirus lockdown measures came into place in March.

The feature – which rolls out on Thursday before becoming generally available in August – is one of a number of improvements the tech giant is introducing on Microsoft Teams.

Users can expect to find video filter enhancements and emoji-based live reactions to pop up on screen among the raft of updates.

It’s like being back at uni – only with video calling (Microsoft 365)

Microsoft Teams displays, a new category of device for the firm, has also been announced amid a surge in demand for video communication tools and growing competition from the likes of Zoom, Facebook and Google.

These Teams-focused devices will have an ambient touchscreen and a hands-free experience powered by Cortana.

Microsoft teams turns meetings into virtual auditoriums

This is…strange (Microsoft 365)

The Lenovo ThinkSmart View will be the first Microsoft Teams display to be made available



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Keyboard Shortcuts for Calendar, Reminders, and Notes on Mac

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If you’re a Mac user looking for a simple and effective day planner, consider this trio of native macOS apps: Calendar, Reminders, and Notes.

Once you set up these apps to your liking, you have a fuss-free system to manage your schedule, tasks, and notes. Plus, if you learn how to control them with keyboard shortcuts, so much the better. And what’s more, you can discover various useful keyboard shortcuts for these macOS productivity apps in the cheat sheet below.

The cheat sheet contains shortcuts for navigation and search, view management, formatting, and more in Calendar, Reminders, and Notes.

FREE DOWNLOAD: This cheat sheet is available as a downloadable PDF from our distribution partner, TradePub. You will have to complete a short form to access it for the first time only. Download Keyboard Shortcuts for Calendar, Reminders, and Notes on Mac.

Keyboard Shortcuts for Calendar, Reminders, and Notes on Mac

Calendar
Cmd + N Add new event
Option + Cmd + N Add new calendar
Shift + Cmd + N Add new calendar group
Option + Cmd + S Add new calendar subscription
Cmd + F Highlight search box to search for events
Cmd + 1 Switch to Day view
Cmd + 2 Switch to Week view
Cmd + 3 Switch to Month view
Cmd + 4 Switch to Year view
Cmd + Right Arrow Go to next day, week, month, or year
Cmd + Left Arrow Go to previous day, week, month, or year
Cmd + T Switch to today’s date
Shift + Cmd + T Open popup for switching to specific date
Cmd + + (Plus) Increase text size
Cmd + – (Minus) Decrease text size
Cmd + R Refresh all calendars
Cmd + E Edit selected event
Esc (when event is open) Close event editor without saving changes
Return (when event is open) Commit changes to event and close event editor
Cmd + I Show Info popup for selected event(s)
¹Option + Cmd + I Show Inspector popup for selected event
Arrow Keys Select event (if available) in adjacent row/column in relevant direction
Control + Option + Up Arrow Day/Week View: Move selected event 15 minutes earlier
Month View: Move selected event one week earlier
Control + Option + Down Arrow Day/Week View: Move selected event 15 minutes later
Month View: Move selected event one week later
Control + Option + Right Arrow Day/Week/Month View: Move selected event one day later
Control + Option + Left Arrow Day/Week/Month View: Move selected event one day earlier
Shift + Cmd + A Toggle Availability panel
Reminders
Cmd + N Create new reminder
Shift + Cmd + N Create new list
²Cmd + ] Indent reminder to create subtask
²Cmd + [ Outdent reminder
Cmd + E Show all subtasks
Shift + Cmd + E Hide all subtasks
³Cmd + I Show Info popup for selected reminder
Cmd + F Highlight search box to search for reminders
²Shift + Cmd + F Set/clear flag for selected reminder(s)
Control + Cmd + S Toggle sidebar
Notes
Cmd + N Create new note
Shift + Cmd + N Create new folder
Shift + Cmd + A Open dialog for attaching file
Cmd + K Create link
Cmd + F Highlight search box to search current note
Cmd + G Highlight next search result in current note
Shift + Cmd + G Highlight previous search result in current note
Option + Cmd + F Highlight search box to search all notes
Shift + Cmd + T Apply Title format
Shift + Cmd + H Apply Heading format
Shift + Cmd + J Apply Subheading format
Shift + Cmd + B Apply Body format
Shift + Cmd + M Apply Monospaced format
Shift + Cmd + L Apply Checklist format
Shift + Cmd + U Mark selected checklist items as checked/unchecked
Control + Cmd + Up Arrow Move current list/checklist item up in list
Control + Cmd + Down Arrow Move current list/checklist item down in list
Cmd + B Emphasize selected text
Cmd + I Italicize selected text
Cmd + U Underline selected text
Cmd + + (Plus) Increase size of selected text
Cmd + – (Minus) Decrease size of selected text
Cmd + Shift + [ Align selected text flush left
Cmd + Shift + Center selected text
Cmd + Shift + ] Align selected text flush right
Cmd + [ Decrease indent level of selected content or line where cursor is placed
Cmd + ] Increase indent level of selected content or line where cursor is placed
Control + Return Add line break (soft return) to list/checklist item
Option + Tab Insert tab character in list item
Option + Cmd + C Copy style of selection
Option + Cmd + V Paste copied style to selection
Cmd + T Show Fonts window
Shift + Cmd + C Show Colors window
Option + Cmd + T Create table
⁴Return Move cursor to row below
Tab Move focus to next cell on right
Shift + Tab Move focus to next cell on left
Shift + Left/Right Arrow Select cells one by one in relevant direction current row
Shift + Up/Down Arrow Select cells one by one in relevant direction in current column
Option + Return Add new paragraph in current cell
Option + Tab Add tab character in current cell
Option + Cmd + Up Arrow Add new row above current row
Option + Cmd + Down Arrow Add new row below current row
Option + Cmd + Right Arrow Add new column to right of current column
Option + Cmd + Left Arrow Add new column to left of current column
Cmd + 0 Show main Notes window
Cmd + 1 Switch to List view for notes
Cmd + 2 Switch to Gallery view for notes
Cmd + 3 Switch to Attachments Browser
Return (when note is selected in List view or Gallery view) Open or switch focus to selected note to begin typing
Cmd + Return Open or switch focus from current note content to previous notes view i.e. List view or Gallery view
Option+ Cmd + S Toggle Folders sidebar
Shift + Cmd + . (Period) Zoom in on note content
Shift + Cmd + , (Comma) Zoom out of note content
Shift + Cmd + 0 Change note content to default size
⁵Cmd + A (When cursor is in table) Select content of active cell OR
Select table if active cell is empty
Common Shortcuts
Cmd + Z Undo previous action
Shift + Cmd + Z Reverse undo
Cmd + X Cut selected item
Cmd + C Copy selected item
Cmd + V Paste cut/copied item
Delete Delete selected item
Cmd + A Select all items
Cmd + P Open Print dialog
Cmd + , (Comma) Open app preferences
Control + Cmd + F Toggle Full Screen mode
Cmd + M Minimize window
Option + Cmd + M Minimize all windows of current app
⁶Cmd + W Close current window
Option + Cmd + W Close all windows of current app
Cmd + H Hide current app
Option + Cmd + H Hide all apps except current app
Cmd + Q Quit app
¹Shortcut does not work with multiple events, but if you switch between events when Inspector is active, its contents are updated accordingly.

²Shortcut may not be available if iCloud is not enabled.

³If multiple reminders are selected, Info popup for last selected reminder is displayed.

⁴If cursor is in last row, shortcut adds new row to table.

⁵When active cell is populated, press shortcut twice to select table.

⁶In Reminders and Notes, shortcut quits app after closing window.

Bullet Journaling With Mac Productivity Apps

The default productivity apps on macOS are not only easy to use, but also quite flexible. You can use them to bring offline note-taking methods online. For example, you can create a Bullet Journal on your Mac with Calendar, Reminders, or Notes.

Image Credit: Colton Sturgeon on Unsplash

Read the full article: Keyboard Shortcuts for Calendar, Reminders, and Notes on Mac



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If the coronavirus is really airborne, we might be fighting it the wrong way

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This was the week airborne transmission became a big deal in the public discussion about covid-19. Over 200 scientists from around the world cosigned a letter to the World Health Organization urging it to take seriously the growing evidence that the coronavirus can be transmitted through the air. WHO stopped short of redefining SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes covid-19) as airborne but did acknowledge that more research is “urgently needed to investigate such instances and assess their significance for transmission of COVID-19.”

“I honestly don’t know what people are waiting for,” says microbiologist Chad Roy of Tulane University in the US. “It doesn’t take WHO coming out to make a proclamation that it’s airborne for us to appreciate this is an airborne disease. I don’t know how much clearer it needs to be in terms of scientific evidence.” 

So what does “airborne” really mean in this context? It’s basically an issue of size. We’re pretty sure that SARS-CoV-2 is spread through tiny droplets that contain viral particles capable of leading to an infection. For a virus to be airborne, however, means a few different things, depending on the expert you’re talking to. Typically it means it can spread via inhalation over long distances, perhaps even through different rooms, of small particles known as aerosols.

“That’s why when you ask some of the professionals if the virus is airborne, they’ll say it’s not, because we’re not seeing transmission over those sorts of distances,” says Lisa Brosseau, a retired professor of public health who still consults for businesses and organizations.

There is also some debate on what we mean by “aerosol.” The droplets that carry viral particles through the air can come in all sorts of sizes, but while the larger ones will drop quickly to the ground or other surfaces, the smaller ones (just a few microns across) can linger in the air for a while, giving them a chance to be inhaled. The word is mostly used to describe these smaller particles, although Brosseau would prefer the term “aerosol transmission” to cover the entire gamut of inhalable viral particles being expelled into the air—large and small alike. 

If SARS-CoV-2 is airborne, it’s far from the only disease. Measles is notorious for being able to last in the air for up to two hours. Tuberculosis, though a bacterium, can be airborne for six hours, and Brosseau suggests that coronavirus superspreaders (people who seem to eject a larger amount of the virus than others) disseminate the virus in patterns that recall the infectiousness of tuberculosis.

The evidence that this type of transmission is happening with SARS-CoV-2  arguably already exists. Several big studies point to airborne transmission of the virus as a major route for the spread of covid-19. Other studies have suggested the virus can remain in aerosolized droplets for hours. One new study led by Roy and his team at Tulane shows that infectious aerosolized particles of SARS-CoV-2 could actually linger in the air for up to 16 hours, and maintain infectivity much longer than MERS and SARS-CoV-1 (the other big coronaviruses to emerge this century). 

We still don’t know what gives SARS-CoV-2 this airborne edge. “But it may be one reason this is a pandemic, and not simply a small outbreak like any other coronavirus,” says Roy. 

How to stay safe

Whether the virus is airborne isn’t simply a scientific question. If it is, it could mean that in places where the virus has not been properly contained (e.g., the US), the economy needs to be reopened more slowly, under tighter regulations that reinforce current health practices as well as introducing improved ones. Our current tactics for stopping the spread won’t be enough.

Roy would like to see aggressive mandates on strict mask use for anyone leaving home. “This virus sheds like crazy,” he says. “Masking can do an incredible amount in breaking transmission. I think anything that can promote the use of masking, to stop the production of aerosols in the environment, would be helpful.” 

Brosseau, however, says that though masks can limit the spread of larger particles, they are less helpful for smaller ones, especially if they fit only loosely. “I wish we would stop relying on the idea that face coverings are going to solve everything and help flatten the curve,” she says. “It’s magical thinking—it’s not going to happen.” For masks to really make a difference, they would need to be worn all the time, even around family.

Brosseau does believe the evidence is trending toward the conclusion that airborne transmission is “the primary and possibly most important mode of transmission for SARS-CoV-2.” She says, “I think the amount of time and effort devoted to sanitizing every single surface over and over and over again has been a huge waste of time. We don’t need to worry so much about cleaning every single surface we touch.” Instead, the focus should be on other factors, like where we spend our time.

Crowded spaces

One of the biggest questions we still have about covid-19 is how much of a viral load is needed to cause infection. The answer changes if we think it is aerosols that we need to worry about. Smaller particles won’t carry as large a viral load as bigger ones, but because they can linger in the air for much longer, it may not matter—they’ll build up in larger concentrations and get distributed more widely the longer an infected person is around to expel aerosolized virus. 

The more people you have coming in and out of an indoor space, the more likely it is that someone who is infected will show up. The longer those infected individuals spend in that space, the higher the concentration of virus in the air over time. This is particularly bad news for spaces where people congregate for hours on end, like restaurants, bars, offices, classrooms, and churches. 

Airborne transmission doesn’t necessarily mean these places must stay closed (although that would be ideal). But wiping down surfaces with disinfectant, and having everyone wear masks, won’t be enough. To safely reopen, these spots will not just need to reduce the number of people allowed inside at any given moment; they will also need to reduce the amount of time those people spend there. Increasing social distancing beyond six feet would also help keep people safer. 

Ventilation needs to be a higher priority too. This is going to be a big problem for older buildings that usually have worse ventilation systems, and areas with a lot of those might need to remain closed for much longer. The impact of asymptomatic spread (transmission by people who don’t feel ill) and superspreaders only compounds the problem even further. But research conducted by the US Department of Homeland Security has shown that in the presence of UV light, aerosolized particles of the size the Tulane researchers studied would disappear in less than a minute. A number of businesses have begun deploying UV-armed robots to disinfect hospital rooms, shopping malls, stores, public transit stations, and more.

For many places, considerable delays in economic reopening might ultimately be the price of getting the virus under control. Otherwise the kind of thing that happened when a single open bar in Michigan led to an outbreak of more than 170 new cases could become commonplace. 

For Brosseau, the best strategy is simply to behave as we did in the early days of lockdown—stay home, and avoid coming into contact with anyone you don’t live with. And if you have to leave home, she says, “all I can say is spend as little time as possible in an enclosed space, in an area that’s well ventilated, with as few people as possible.”



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