Trouble Tickets for City Hall – SeeClickFix

SeeClickFix lets people assign Help Tickets to their local neighborhood. I’m not quite sure how I feel about this one. On the one hand, it’s nice to see that there’s an easy way for citizens to get involved and if we all keep our eyes open for things like burnt out street lamps and broken potholes, then we’ll have more complete coverage. On the other, if your involvement goes no further than whipping out your iPhone and pecking off missives, that’s not exactly in the spirit of JFK’s “ask what you can do for your country.”

Dig a little deeper though and you’ll find that the site’s creator wants SCF to be a gateway drug to civic involvement. Once you submit an ticket, you’re inevitably going  to be attached to it. You took the time to report something so forwarding it on to the appropriate authorities is the next logical step. Before you know it, you’re the goto guy for your neighborhood, something they call a SideClick.

Who knew? IT support tools applied to city maintenance- I sure wouldn’t mind the accountability & transparency.

Current Events

Red One Digital Camera

You’ve heard about Red One, the swish new HD digital video camera available at the fraction of the cost of competing digital cameras. Red, founded by the guy that brought you Oakley sunglasses, will revolutionize the movie industry and threatens to replace 35mm film.

Now you can see some sample footage, it’s spectacular.

skate – shot on red – 120 fps from opus magnum prod. on Vimeo.

Details from story on

The Red One records motion in a whopping 4,096 lines of horizontal resolution—”4K” in filmmaker lingo—and 2,304 of vertical. For comparison, hi-def digital movies like Sin City and the Star Wars prequels top out at 1,920 by 1,080, just like your HDTV. (There’s also a slightly higher-resolution option called 2K that reaches 2,048 lines by 1,080.) Film doesn’t have pixels, but the industry-standard 35-millimeter stock has a visual resolution roughly equivalent to 4K. And that’s what makes the Red so exciting: It delivers all the dazzle of analog, but it’s easier to use and cheaper—by orders of magnitude—than a film camera. In other words, Jannard’s creation threatens to make 35-mm movie film obsolete.

More sample video on the Shot on Red website including the movie a trailer shot by Peter Jackson referenced in the Wired article.

Available now for a cool $17,500.

Garmin to provide directions to your friends

no original descriptionImage via Wikipedia

Congratulations to my buddy Walt Doyle! His company, publishes the Facebook app, Buddy Beacon, which you use to broadcast your physical location to your friends. They’ve got and iPhone app and, just recently, they announced a partnership with Garmin to provide an overlay to Garmin’s GPS maps so you can see where your online friends are in the physical world.

No more calling your friends for directions to the party. Just have them check in on Buddy Beacon and you can get instant turn-by-turn directions!

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ULTRA, the Personal Rapid Transit vehicle

Alameda, the island I live on, is cut off from easy access to the local rapid transit system. Residents need to cross one of three bridges or a tunnel to make it to a BART station. Some people (including yours truly) ride a bicycle to the train station where they have a place to park your bike for the day. For those that drive to the station, by the time they take the trouble to get into their car, they figure they might as well drive the whole way – clogging the roads and using up gasoline.

One idea being passed around is the ULTRA, a small, 4-person transporter that is something between a tram and a Zip Car. Grab one of these that run on fixed rails around town and are parked at stations along the track. Punch in your destination and you’re on your way. The idea is that a network of these ULTRAs could shuttle people to the nearest train station and cut down the need to wait for a bus or drive your car.


NBC holding Olympic videos hostage

NBC is milking their investment in broadcasting rights for the Beijing Olympics by making anyone that wants to view their videos jump through a few hoops.

Hoop Number One: Install Silverlight 2.0.

This limits installation to only Windows machines or Intel-based Macs. Oh, and you have to restart your browser so you if you don’t save the URL of the video you wanted to watch – your left to the mercy of NBC’s navigation.

Hoop Number Two: Reveal your local NBC affiliate & zip code info.

This gives NBC data to see just how much traffic they are taking away from their local affilates with online video. When it comes time for re-negotiation, they can hold this data in their hand to show how they don’t really need the affiliates to reach their audience which is why they need to pay more for the rights to re-broadcast NBC programming.

Despite these two hoops, the desire to see a quick reply of something like the incredible 4×100 meter Men’s relay is so strong that people will jump through these hoops. Not enough to jump out of the current habit of hitting up Yahoo’s Olympic coverage (which is doing a stellar job), but still respectable.

Badi hated installing Silverlight and may never use it again but he did install it and I doubt he took the time to remove it after he saw the video. As far as Microsoft is concerned, mission accomplished.

Despite the hassles, I actually like some of the features of Silverlight as it’s featured on the NBC site. It’s really smart is that you’re able to fast forward (or reverse) in low resolution but once the video starts playing, it gradually sharpens the image to higher resolution. The video clips on the NBC site are of exceptional quality to those used to YouTube clips. As with NBC’s other site, Hulu, NBC is leading the way, showing us how a television company can reinvent itself for the internet.

Golden Gate Western Wear

We have a friend visiting from Japan and besides visiting the redwoods, she’s also on a mission for some Tony Lama cowboy boots which are all the rage in Tokyo. I found a place that carries them up in Richmond, Golden Gate Western Wear. The site speaks to you out of the backwoods. From the Store Hours page:

I may be the last guy in the country not to use an answering
machine. I figure you don’t need to waste a long distance call
to find out we’re not here. You’ll know that after 8 or 10
rings for free. Please refer to above opening schedule and
call back.

We’re closed on holidays and for earthquakes.

Should be fun. Looking forward to meeting the guy.

UPDATE: The owner wasn’t there but photos from the visit are here.

Current Events

Wagging your Long Tail with Just for You

What if you could ask each reader that came to your blog what they were interested in and show them a list of posts from your archives that matched those interests? I’ve been blogging for over five years and as posts roll off the front page they fade into the archives to be mostly forgotten,.

Today MyBlogLog published a WordPress plug-in that grew out of a concept that I’ve been playing around with for the past year. Forget contextual matching for relevance and targeting, what if you could match against someone’s stated interests? Blow past trying to parse out meaning from the other text floating around on the current page and reach through the glass and query against the tags that people attach to their MyBlogLog profile. Target the Reader, not the Page. It’s a vision of programming that says, “OK, now that you’re here on this site, did you know there was a series of articles this author wrote about your passion for Harley Davidson motorcycles last year?”

Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb writes,

There are countless companies that have raised millions in venture capital to offer publishers recommendation systems for their readers – commercial publishers pay big money for this functionality. Now bloggers can have the same type of thing for free

The Just for You plug-in works with hosted WordPress and, once installed, looks at each visitor to your site to see if they are a MyBlogLog user. If they are, the plug-in looks up the tags on that user’s profile and searches through your blog’s archives and presents a list of headlines pointing to posts that match those tags in a widget that runs in your blog’s sidebar. For more details and sample screenshots, see my post on the MyBlogLog Blog.

If you look to the right, the Just for You widget is right there, five headlines fresh from my Archives for your reading pleasure. If you’re a MyBlogLog user, let me know in the comments if they match the tags on your profile. If you’re not a MyBlogLog member, what you see is a collection of headlines based on the the tags of the most recent MyBlogLog visitors to the site so hopefully there’s some connection to why you’re there as well. Either way, I’m interested in your thoughts.