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Adam Winer
2,404 followers -
Birder, dad, Googler. Not in that order.
Birder, dad, Googler. Not in that order.

2,404 followers
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It's essentially Conway's Law in action.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conway%27s_law
Great news today with Alphabet (https://plus.google.com/+LarryPage/posts/bkiVT71gfSu)

Cool! They still love G+. I hope they use that same grittiness they did on Chrome and Android on Social (a.k.a. Google+).
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Dear Apple,  thanks for completely breaking a fundamental user flow in the iPhoto -> Photos move!  Sharing to iCloud's one click though.  Good job putting the user first!

Dear others: any suggestions for a (simple) MacOS "organize your photos" app?  I don't need anything like Lightroom.

https://discussions.apple.com/thread/6995926?start=0&tstart=0

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A few pictures from a recent hike up Telegraph Pass Trail, in South Mountain Park.  This park is the largest municipal park in the United States, entirely within the boundaries of Phoenix.  I was particularly pleased to see and photograph Gray Vireo, the last regularly occurring vireo in the United States I hadn't seen.  This trail is likely the most accessible winter location for this species anywhere.
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South Mountain Park, Phoenix, Arizona
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/starts camping out

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What a treat!   A box of Michel Chaudun's famed Parisian "pavés" - simple ganache cubes, lightly dusted with cocoa, and extremely perishable.  (When your parents go to France and don't invite you along, this makes up for it.)

Best chocolate on the planet?  It's in the running... 
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Michel Chaudun pavés
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Five-alarm fire in the San Francisco (Mission Bay neighborhood) - this photo was taken from almost 3 miles away.

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Five-alarm-fire-in-Mission-Bay-5308589.php#photo-6007390
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After that dingy Sapayoa, something a bit more attractive:  an Orange-breasted Fruiteater, photographed in the vicinity of the Mashpi Reserve.  This is another Chocó endemic, found only in the foothill forests of northern Ecuador and southwestern Colombia.

(There's 12 fruiteaters in the world, all in South America;  this was my tenth.)
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It's not the most attractive bird I saw in Ecuador.  And it's a fairly poor photograph taken in terrible light.  It doesn't have a beautiful song, or really do anything interesting.  And yet this is the reason I went (back) to Ecuador.  It's a Broad-billed Sapayoa, photographed at the Playa de Oro Reserve in extreme Northwestern Ecuador.

To explain why it's interesting, a little background.

Among the so-called "perching birds" (more than half of all birds) there are two major taxonomic groups ( * ).  First, the "Oscines", 4000 species of songbirds - robins, crows, finches, chickadees and so on.  Second, 1000 odd "Suboscines".  The vast majority of suboscines (Tyrannides) are found in the New World - our flycatchers, for instance, as well as the largely South American antbirds and furnariids.  But there's another small group (Eurylamides), found in the Old World.  These 60 species include the truly spectacular Pittas and Broadbills - in Africa and southeast Asia - and the rather odd Asities, endemic only to Madagascar.  DNA analysis confirms this deep division, long identified from anatomical studies.  And the biogeography is simple - Tyranides in the New World, Eurylamides in the Old World.

Except...  this Sapayoa, which ranges merely from Panama through Colombia into the northern tip of Ecuador (the "Chocó" bioregion).  It's been a source of taxonomic confusion right from the start, evident in its Latin name, Sapayoa aenigma!  It was first placed in a group with the New World manakins (and called "Broad-billed Manakin"), but DNA work in the 1980s (crude by today's standards) suggested it might actually group with the broadbills.  More refined work in the 2000s confirmed that result, and in 2011 the Sapayoa was moved into its own family, all by itself.  Its nearest relatives diverged about 55 million years ago!

So there it is - the lone New World representative of an Old World group that is itself an outlier to a mostly New World group!  And so, if you're trying to see all the families of birds in the world, then there's little choice but to trek to this corner of the world to see one.

( * ) There is another...  the New Zealand wrens, of which only two species remain, seem to form a third group.  (Yes, I've seen both.)
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I now know what I'm doing this weekend.
The Food Lab baked 1,536 cookies to uncover the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe

"Cookies are fickle and the advice out there is conflicting. Does more sugar make for crisper cookies? What about brown versus white? Does it matter how I incorporate the chocolate chips or whether the flour is blended in or folded? How about the butter: cold, warm, or melted?"

check out the science here:
http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2013/12/the-food-lab-the-best-chocolate-chip-cookies.html
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Great photo?  Not at all.  But these are two of the six Trumpeter Swans still at Lagoon Valley Park in Vacaville CA this morning!  And the first Trumpeter Swans I've seen in 33 years, since I was a kid with my parents in Yosemite National Park.

If you're wondering why these are Trumpeter Swans, not the much-more-common-in-California Tundra Swan, check out the length of the bill, and especially that straight upper mandible (not concave like in Tundra).
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