Archive for October, 2009

Android + Drupal + Beer = Beer Cloud | INsReady

October 26, 2009
Beer Cloud Screen Shot

This new software integrates the rich functionality and features of Drupal, the open source platform used to create GreatBrewers.com, with Android, the open source platform used to create BeerCloud. The joint utilization of powerful features including GPS, a barcode scanner, and user generated content make BeerCloud a first for the beer, wine, and spirits industry.

Created by GreatBrewers.com, BeerCloud helps you pair beer with food, track down your favorite beers in your neighborhood, and pull up a full description of any beer with a scan of its barcode.

What They Did

Scan the barcode of any beer to view the brewer’s description, specifications, and food pairing suggestions. Discover recommended beer style pairings for your next meal using the intuitive “sommelier” feature. Map the closest bars, restaurants, and stores actively carrying your favorite beers. See a list of current beer offerings at a local retailer. Seamlessly manage your saved tasting notes, favorite beers, favorite brewers, and favorite places to buy beer with your GreatBrewers.com account.

Why They Did It

Today’s beer drinkers have access to a far greater variety of beer than ever before, but with thousands of unique offerings representing more than 140 distinct styles, consumers can easily get overwhelmed. BeerCloud simplifies the process of learning about beer at the point of purchase, choosing the perfect beer to pair with a specific food, managing favorite beers and favorite brewers, and mapping the closest bars, restaurants, and stores that currently offer one’s favorite beers.

How They Did It

To provide highly accurate, perpetually updated, location-based availability data for thousands of beers at nearly 100,000 bars, restaurants, and stores, BeerCloud’s developers teamed up with dozens of America’s leading beer wholesalers in the Great Brewers network which collectively represent more than 400 domestic and international breweries. Brewery provided company profiles and product descriptions empower BeerCloud with the most comprehensive beer database on the planet. Culinary guidance from leading connoisseurs provides thousands of harmonic beer and food pairing recommendations in the Beer Sommelier.

With this powerful lineup of information built into GreatBrewers.com, Jingsheng Wang engineered an API for the Drupal website to seamlessly integrate content and saved user information with the BeerCloud mobile application.

Some Techs

Android Library:
Barcode Scanner, The library to support scanning beer UPC-A bar code.

Drupal Modules:
Services, turn Drupal into a services back-end for Android. Also, the API will be used by iPhone App, or other desktop application.

Views, Many many things are built on Views. Product Catalog is one of them, but Views is too slow for Product Catalog, so re-engineering is necessary. Also, together with Node Reference, we can pull any data together. All the data is available through Services gateway.

CCK, Fields to store data

Location, store location data, and support the proximity search, using the GPS data sent by Android

Barcode, store bar code data

Available Features:

Beer Sommelier
Product Information
Brand Information
Barcode scan beer
Beer Finder

For a full store, visit http://greatbrewers.com/story/beercloud-mobile-app

Developer Bios

Sheng is an open-source purist and an Android fanatic who takes a fresh approach to engineering. Eric, a self-proclaimed beer geek, is dedicated to helping the world discover great beer. Tom celebrates two of his passions, art and beer, by designing beer art.

Project Start Date: 

2009 Jul 1

End Date: 

2009 Sep 1

client_information

Client Name: 

GreatBrewers.com

Facebook Status: Resting In Peace – All Facebook users are going to die

October 26, 2009

Facebook is now letting users memorialize pages of friends who have passed away.

The contact information of the person memorialized is privatized and the pages cannot be logged into anymore. You need to submit proof of death, but beyond that, I think this is going to make for some really tacky pranking. In the end, I find this to be a nice digital analogue to that which inevitably happens to all Facebook Users. [FB via BB]

Send an email to the author of this post at blam@gizmodo.com.

I’ve been wondering about this…

WhiteHouse.gov Goes Drupal [Updated] | techPresident

October 25, 2009

WhiteHouse.gov has gone Drupal. After months of planning, says an Obama Administration source, the White House has ditched the proprietary content management system that had been in place since the days of the Bush Administration in favor of the latest version of the open-source Drupal software, as the AP alluded to in its reporting several minutes ago.

The great Drupal switch came about after the Obama new media team, with a few months of executive branch service (and tweaking of WhiteHouse.gov) under their belts, decided they needed a more malleable development environment for the White House web presence. They wanted to be able to more quickly, easily, and gracefully build out their vision of interactive government. General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT), the Virginia-based government contractor who had executed the Bush-era White House CMS contract, was tasked by the Obama Administration with finding a more flexible alternative. The ideal new platform would be one where dynamic features like question-and-answer forums, live video streaming, and collaborative tools could work more fluidly together with the site’s infrastructure. The solution, says the White House, turned out to be Drupal. That’s something of a victory for the Drupal (not to mention open-source) community.

Drupal proponents have long tried to make the case that open-source software could be just as safe, just as stable, and and just as reliable as pre-boxed software, even if hundreds, thousands, or even millions of volunteer developers had their fingers in the mix at some point along the way. The White House’s seal of approval doesn’t hurt.

According to White House new media director Macon Phillips, working with GDIT on the competitively bid contract are both open-source software practitioners and experts in keeping systems up and running. Notably, the Drupal specialist firm Acquia is also working with the White House on the project as a subcontractor. Why that’s worth noting: Acquia founder Dries Buytaert is also happens to be credited as the programmer who created Drupal in the first place, and he currently serves as the Drupal community’s project lead in the software’s development. Acquia, writes Buytaert, “is to Drupal what Ubuntu or RedHat are to Linux.” (Translation for the rest of us: the source for a polished, established, and supported version of a free and open-source software system.) Drupal specialists Phase2, based in Virginia, is also serving as a subcontractors on the GDIT-managed WhiteHouse.gov contract, as are the IT infrastructure firm Terremark Federal Group and Akamai, the distributed computing company already tasked with keeping the White House website up and running.

Let’s really try to extract the last drop of possible meaning from a choice over a CMS. Squint a bit, and it’s possible to see the White House’s move to open-source software as a move towards the idea that collaborative programming can inspire — or at least, support — a more distributed politics. That idea bubbled up in 2004, when young programmers experimented with using Drupal itself to turn the Howard Dean campaign into the Howard Dean network. This idea, that a politics crafted by the people could be a powerful thing indeed, emerged in a slightly mutated way during the Obama presidential campaign, but has arguably receded below the surface during the first nine months of the Obama Administration. First the WhiteHouse.gov CMS gets more open, then the White House OS? Perhaps.

For the lay user, the White House website looks much the same as it has since inauguration day (though search should work noticeably better). But by being open source, the White House is opening itself up to all the bright ideas, powerful plug-ins, and innovative tools that the considerable community of Drupal aficionados come up with. It’s a community that the White House says it is eager to tap into. “Open source is a great form of civic participation,” the White House’s Phillips told me this afternoon. “We’re looking forward to getting the benefit of their energy and innovation.”

Related: Drupal project lead Dries Buytaert reflects upon the White House’s switch to Drupal.

From the Archives: Why the White House’s Embrace of Drupal Matters

[Updated with details on the contractor and subcontractors involved in the WhiteHouse.gov contract.]

Facebook | Mike Reyher: Information on how to control your Facebook news feed.

October 24, 2009
Most importantly is to know that Live Feed is CURRENT info & Newsfeed is OLDER info. First Make sure you have cleared your cookies as of mid-day Today (Friday in U.S.A).To fix the 250 friends default setting. From your Home Page, click on News Feed on the left.Click on View Live Feed, unless of course you are already looking at it.Scroll all the way to the bottom and click Edit Options.There is a default value of 250 for the “Maximum number of friends to show in Live Feed”. You might as well change that to the maximum of 5000.To stop F/B spamming your friends (telling everyone your personal business) Please go here & uncheck every box https://register.facebook.com/privacy/?view=feeds .facebook is Publishing a post on all your friends newsfeeds for for every thing you do now if you have not opted out/adjusted your settings. This means that every friend is being told every time you get a new friend, join a group, make a comment in a group & many other things many times giving use a direct link to even hidden/secret groups. If you are not getting the window for Number of friends, Hide a Friend & switch back & forth between Live Feed & Newsfeed a time or 2 then try instructions again.(this seems to be the Cure!!!!!!!!!) you can Unhide the friend easily after you are done.

daily-scrum-meeting-rules – scrumnet.org | Google Groups

October 21, 2009

The daily scrum meeting is time boxed to 15 minutes regardless of the number of team members.

  • Hold the daily scrum in the same place at the same time every work day. The daily scrum is best held first thing in the day so that the first thing team members do on arriving at work is think of what they did the day before and what they plan to do today.
  • All team members are required to attend. If for some reason a team member cannot attend in person, the absent member must either attend by phone or by having another team member report on the absent members status.
  • Team members must be prompt. The scrum master starts the meeting at the appointed time, ragrdless of who is present. Any member who is late pays Rupees 50 to the scrum master immediately.
  • The scrum master begins the meeting by starting with the person to his or her left and proceeding counter clockwise around the room until everyone has reported.
  • Each team member should respond to three questions only:

1) What have you done since the last daily scrum regarding this project?

2) What will you do between now and the next daily scrum meeting regarding this project?

3) What impedes you from performing your work as effectively as possible?

  • Team members should not digress beyond answering these three questions into issues, designs, discussion of problems, or gossip. The scrum master is responsible for moving the reporting along briskly, from person to person.
  • During the daily scrum, only one person talks at a time. That person is the one who is reporting his / her status. Everone else listens. There is no side conversations.
  • When a team member reports something that is of interest to other team members or needs the assistance of other team members, any team meber can immediately arrange for all interested parties to get together after the daily scrum to set up a meeting.
  • Chickens are not allowed to talk, make observations, make faces or otherwise make their presence in the daily scrum meeting obtrusive.
  • Chickens stand on the periphery of the team so as not to interfere with the meeting
  • If too many chickens attend the meeting, the scrum master can limit attendance so that the meeting can remain orderly and focused.
  • Chickens are not allowed to talk with team members after the meeting for clarification or to provide advice or instructions.
  • Pigs or chickens who cannot or will not conform to the above rules can be excluded from the meeting (chickens) or removed from the team (pigs)

Mac OSX Snow Leopard | FUDDYTV.COM | BLOG | The home of Chuck Storm and Car Dance Party.

October 13, 2009
Aug
29
2009

Tired of Being Your Parents IT Support?

by Ryan Northcott

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apple-osx-leopard

I have a small and nagging problem. It’s my mother, and her utter lack of any expertise with the computer…bless her heart. You see, she’s stuck in the Windows XP world, waiting too many minutes to start up the machine and the constant crashes, bog downs and useless crap. It’s no surprise that many of you have this same problem, the late night calls, the early morning rants – “It said I couldn’t connect to the wireless network?”

“No, Mom, you’re trying to connect to someone else’s.”

So we, as Generation Me (ugh, that’s disgusting isn’t it?) have to come to the rescue and no doubt interrupt our Twittering and Facebooking to solve the complicated issue. How do we do it? As a PC user for all my life, I came to a realization. Now I’m no Apple Fanboy, though I have do have a large love affair with Logic, Final Cut, Soundtrack Pro and Motion. Yet the solution is true…

Get your parents a Mac.

I know, I know, you think I’m crazy. How will they live? How can they survive without right click? How will they know where the buttons are!? Ahhhh! Dogs and cats living together…mass hysteria! But really, it’s not that at all. When Apple says they work, they do indeed, just work. I’ve never had my MacBook Pro crash, never had it freeze, have updated seamlessly and run the crap out of it. In fact as I write this I’ve got Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, Logic and Dreamweaver open and running as smooth as you can imagine.

Recently Apple released Snow Leopard, the next step in the OSX world. So not only did they go ahead and make something that was already fairly awesome awesomer, they made it cheap. $34 CAD. Here’s a few things Snow Leopard improves on:

1. Malware Protection. If it thinks it’s malware, no dice, it’ll tell you.
2. Better Docks. Yup, no more bendy big long list.
3. Automatic Printer Drivers. No more searching for the elusive driver.
4. Exchange Support. What does this mean? It means all those business guys in the Outlook mail world can do it on a Mac.
5. Faster performance. Applications open faster, work is faster and logging on and shutting down are simple and quick.

With all this in mind, why would anyone stick to Windows? Well, that’s a tough one. A really tough one. They suck, let’s face it and I’m saying this as a life long Windows user.

So it’s time we all got together, prepared for the intervention and got our folks off PC. Not only to save our parents from Windows, but save ourselves. Heck, if they’re so hellbent on Windows, you can get them Parallels, which’ll run Windows on a Mac. Yeah, it’s that good. It may even turn those IT working sessions into a fresh beer and a burger, courtesy of Mom.

3 comments   |  tags: , , , , , | posted in Apple, Mom and Dad, Techy Stuff

Great advice here…

Answers to most common talking points by those opposed to bicycle infrastructure « Bike Friendly Oak Cliff

October 12, 2009

Dallas is the only major US city without on-street bike lanes. Bike lanes have proven to increase ridership and safety and most every major city in the US is currently undergoing major bicycle infrastructure build-outs. Below are answers to a few common debate points given by those opposed to building bicycle infrastructure:

1) Dallas isn’t dense enough for bike lanes, right?

Portland’s inner city density in the 1980’s (pre-bike lane years) was comparable to Dallas inner city area (inside Loop 12) now. This is THE time to build, not once more people arrive. As an example of the major growth occurring in the inner city area, Dallas downtown population was 500 in 2000, and projected to be at 10,000 by 2010.

2) Isn’t it too hot in Dallas to promote major bicycle ridership?

Tempe, Phoenix, Austin, Houston, and New Orleans have bike lanes and they’re hot. The latter three are extremely humid. Fort Worth just unveiled a plan for 490 miles worth. Melbourne, Australia hit 108 degrees during their summer this year, and they have a very high bicycle ridership with lanes. In the end, ALL cities have issues with climate (Portland – Rain, Minneapolis – Cold, Austin – Heat, Copenhagen – Freezing). This is not a legitimate excuse. Dallas has 8 months of extremely mild weather. Copenhagen “Bike Capital of the World” has 4 months of freezing weather.

3) Don’t Bike lanes bring out more inexperienced riders, who are fearful and actually pose a greater danger?

If this is the case, then one would expect to see an exponential increase in accidents/fatalties in cities with major bicycle infrastructure. Remember, a place like Portland has 150+ miles of bike lanes and 8% ridership (Dallas has 0 miles, and 0.2% ridership). Given the above assumption, the massive number of inexperienced students bicycling in lanes and crossing the path of cars at thousands of different intersection points would show exponential increasesin accidents. In 2008, Portland had 0 fatalities…Dallas had 7. There is not a single study out that notes where the percent increase in ridership surpassed the accident rate in any US or European city. Multiple studies now show that the reason for the inverse relationship is due to “safety in numbers” and greater awareness.

4) Aren’t the “Safety in Numbers” studies flawed, because John Forester plotted numbers on a page using random phone numbers from a phone book to show how this test’s findings are inconclusive.

Actually, John Forester’s attempt at debunking the test was flawed. Here is a complete breakdown by the study’s author on where JF went wrong.

5) There’s a study in Denmark that shows the following: Cycle tracks increase cycling 18-20%, Cycle tracks increase accidents 9-10%, Cycle lanes were less effective at increasing cycling and it was unclear if they raised accidents more than cycle tracks. Isn’t that proof that bicycle infrastructure is a failure?

Look at the numbers again. The Jensen study referenced does not show a greater percentage increase in accident rates over ridership. That’s the key. In other words, if you had 1 accident with 100 riders one month, and 2 accidents with 1000 riders the next month, you’d have an increase in accidents of 100% (a great example of how percentages can be used to scare), but an increase in ridership of 1000%. As long as the accident rate stays below the ridership level (which it ALWAYS does, and by great margins), then the accident ratio drops. Jensen also replied to us and thoroughly vetted this attempt to mask the numbers here. His final conclusion, “Dallas should add cycle tracks. Ridership will definitely increase. Accident ratios will definitely decrease.”

6 a) Bicycle Ridership will never be high because Dallas doesn’t have a single University. That’s why the other cities can have high turnout.

We have SMU.

b) SMU is in University Park, not Dallas

University Park is 3 miles long, 4 miles from Downtown, and completely surrounded by the city of Dallas. Also, Dallas Baptist University.

c) Dallas doesn’t have a University with 30,000 students.

How did this become the magic number for successful bicycle infrastructure? For this to be a legitimate excuse to not build bicycle infrastructure, one would have to produce a city with a University that has 29,000 students, and implemented bike lanes that failed. For that matter, there isn’t a city in the US that has completely removed its bicycle infrastructure. The reality: All cities with bicycle infrastructure have not only successfully attracted riders, but they’ve all added or are in the process of adding more lanes. Also, this argument goes completely counter to the “bike lanes bring out more inexperienced riders” talking point constantly returned to. If a city has 30,000 students that you provide bike lanes for, you’d have a greater number of inexperienced riders, thus an assumed greater numbers of accident ratios.

7) If you implement bicyle lanes, cars will expect you to ride in them, and become more hostile if you drive on the street.

Cars are already hostile to bicyclists in the road and expect them to stay off the road. I’ve been honked at, encroached on, and had brakes squealed/engines revved on more occasions that I can count in Dallas, and we have no bike lanes. The person in charge of informing the Dallas public at large that bicycles are allowed on the road did not do a good job of spreading that message.

8 ) Dallas doesn’t have the culture for bicycling that other cities do.

According to Mia Birk, former planner of Portland, Oregon, neither did they. Ridership started out only slightly greater than Dallas. Roger Geller, the new planner stated, “If you build it, they will come.” Now, the city has built a 120 Million dollar industry surrounding bicycling, including a major tourism, and production industry. Also, Cyclesomatic proved that the culture can be fostered and grown.

9) So where exactly are you going to build these bike lanes. Dallas is sprawled out, and it’s going to cost a fortune.

You wouldn’t create bike lanes throughout the entire metro area (read our article titled: The Transect for more). A major bicycle infrastructure should largely be developed within an urban zone (ie. inside Loop 12). Beyond that, the sprawl is an obstacle. As the inner city grows, you can’t add more car lanes. The only option is to accommodate multi-modal traffic. This is exactly what Chicago, Seattle, NYC, DC, Portland, Phoenix, Atlanta, Boston, et al. have begun doing, and to great success.

10) There’s debris in the bike lanes. No one’s going to clean them.

Dallas already provides street sweeping once a week on all Downtown streets, and once a month on all major thoroughfares.


11) Aren’t bike lanes far too expensive to implement?

Bicycle lanes in most cities are installed when the City happens to be resurfacing a road anyway. This allows the money to come from the regular budget for repairing a road and requires very minimal costs. Plus, less wear and tear occurs within bike lanes, requiring far less maintenance on the surface, since the cause of most pot holes is due to heavy trucks. Also, the return on investment for streets with bike lanes, and businesses surrounding these has proven to far offset any cost. Remember, you’re not building roads to move people as quickly as possible (that’s what highways are for), you’re building them to allow interaction between commerce and individuals, as well as transport. Forsaking the former for the latter has shown drastic effects in increased accidents, crime, and health.

For roads that aren’t being repaired, but lane implementation buildout was sought, cities around the US have opted for the following funding methods:

– TIF (Tax Incremented Financing) Districts : In Oak Cliff, we’re lucky enough to already have three in place, and they are currently allocating funds for pedestrian/bike amenities.
– PID’s (Public Improvement Districts): We have one being planned now by merchants all along multiple corridors in Oak Cliff. The Uptown PID currently pays a portion of upkeep for the MATA trolley, the Katy Trail, and McKinney Avenue streetscapes
– Parking Improvement Districts: This is a very popular way that urban communities are now applying to develop infrastructure projects from streetcars, bike lanes, and more. A municipality will build out a parking structure near an area that is tight on space to allow more businesses to bring in greater traffic. The funds brought in from these Parking Districts are then channeled to
– Federal Grants: Safe Routes to Schools, Main Street Improvements, TIGER grants, and a host of others are all being applied for now by members of the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce, and other agencies to bring in funds for bicycle infrastructure. It’s the exact same funds other cities have applied for and used to build out their networks.
– Friends of Organizations: From rails to trails, to historic building renovations/upkeep, “Friends of” organizations are built out throughout the nation using fundraisers, grants, and more to build and create infrastructure projects on a routine basis.

12) Why are you comparing Dallas to Northern European cities? We’re nothing like them.

Portland used Copenhagen and Amsterdam as its model when developing its multi-modal infrastructure plan. NYC just completed its street redevelopment program with the aid of Gehl Consulting from Denmark. Currently Gehl is working with Mexico City on a plan for its downtown. So yes, European cities are a fair model. Watch the following clip where you’ll see Copenhagen streets in the 1960’s that looked much like ours. Full of parking lots and high speed roadways. Year after year, they began rolling these back and creating a more pedestrian friendly environment. Note that, the interviewee states “When we implemented this, everyone said ‘we’re Danes not Italians…we don’t have a culture for walking!’. 40 years later…

13) Do you just hate cars? Taking away a lane for bicycles will cause a nightmare for traffic.

I own two cars, but I understand that we can’t continue to build our inner cities for automobiles only. Also, every study has shown that an increase in ridership occurs when you accomodate multi-modal traffic, and that the end over end volume levels out, and capacity remains unchanged.

14) Don’t Bicycle lanes increase accidents due to Right Hooks, confusing left turns and more?

There have been multiple engineering techniques applied to overcome right hooks and left turn issues, including bike boxes, the Copenhagen-Left, no-right turn exclusions, and more. There was a rudimentary attempt at drawing a right-hook failing point by a bike lane opponent, but her methodology would have also shown how a jogger on a sidewalk could also be injured by crossing an intersection via sidewalk. Again, Portland had 0 fatalities in 2008 with 150+ miles of on-street bicycle infrastructure and 8% ridership. Dallas had 7 fatalities with 0 miles of on-street bicycle infrastructure and 0.2% ridership. Also, Copenhagen, the world’s bicycle capital, has the highest ridership levels (over 50%), and lowest accident rates (decimal point levels). New York City just released its 200+ page guide on street design. Multiple examples of how to overcome many intersection issues are noted here.

15) Experienced Cyclists do not want bike lanes.

Not so. Read multiple Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong’s take on bike lanes. Also read Boston’s new bicycle coordinator’s, racing champion Nicole Freedman, take on bicycle infrastructure. Lastly, League Instructor Paul Dorn gives a great account of the failure of Vehicular Cycling advocates position on bicycle infrastructure here.

16) So you expect to put bicycle lanes on every streets?

No. We are for a mix of infrastructure buildouts including bicycle boulevards for some residentials (mixed car and bike roads, that discourage pass-through traffic, and make safer for children in neighborhoods), and separated bike lanes on streets at 35 mph or greater, but not all streets. Separated (ie. dedicated) bike lanes have proven to bring the highest increases in ridership. Also, intersections are key areas to focus on for traffic calming. If an intersection feels unsafe, a bike lane will fail at increasing numbers to a high degree.

17) The Katy Trail is expensive, and no one rides to work on it.

The Katy is actually fairly successful for being a long linear park, which is why it was built…not as a commuter bikeway. Because of this, there are very few connection points onto the trail from the streets it crosses, and at its terminus, you are dropped onto a one way street. It would be no different than building a long highway with no ramps onto it except at a distant end and beginning point, and at its end you were dropped on a one way going the wrong way. You would expect little commuter traffic.

18) Why are you so adamantly for this?

Several reasons. 1) Our generation demands this type infrastructure, and our friends and family are leaving in droves for cities that adopt them like Portland, Chicago, and Austin. Some orginally claimed these cities have a different culture, but we’ve proved through Cyclesomatic that a major culture exists in our area, and it just needs to be fostered and cultivated. Our friends and family weren’t moving to Portland in 1990, but they were in 2009. 2) The infrastructure allows a more pedestrian friendly business environment, that allows for more “eyes on the street” which increases safety, and improves the environment, all while supporting more local business. We’ve already lived through the alternative.

19) We only need education. Everything else is far too expensive.

First of all, education for whom? All drivers? All bicyclists? Most likely both. So a statewide education campaign that educates all drivers and bicyclists wouldn’t be expensive? Also, all drivers go through testing currently, and we still have 42,000+ fatalities on the roads a year. The proven option for cities to increase bicycle ridership and safety is to create facilities and educate.

Now Planes are Tweeting, Too

October 11, 2009

lufthansa

We’ve seen Tweets posted by plants, a space shuttle and even a house, so we shouldn’t be particularly surprised to hear that commercial jets are now Tweeting and posting Facebook messages (sorta). In fact, we think the idea is ingenious.

Admittedly, it’s not the plane itself doing the Tweeting: it’s the airline. Lufthansa has set up a new service named MySkyStatus that automatically posts the current position of your flight to Twitter or Facebook so your friends can follow your travels (and your friends living in those cities can look up!).

Typical status updates read “flying over San Francisco Intl, California 94030, USA on United Airlines” or “flying over Grantsville, UT 84029, USA on United Airlines”. It seems the system posts the flight’s position around once per hour, pulling info from a database of flight information.

myskystatusupdates

Here’s the really smart bit: I stumbled on the service because one of my Facebook friends was on a United Airlines flight today. Clicking the link in the update, of course, directs you to the Lufthansa MySkyStatus page with a Google Map of the flight’s position, meaning that Lufthansa is getting free social media promotion from people travelling on all airlines. Pretty smart.

On a long haul flight, of course, the system may post 20 updates or more, but the functionality is so cool that I’m prepared to give some slack to those Twitter (Twitter

) and Facebook (Facebook

) friends who have decided to put their updates on autopilot.

[Image credit: bribriTO]

This is just the beginning of “tweeting things”….

Fatties do fit fine!

October 11, 2009

Hmmm… 700×45 Panaracer Fire Cross on the Surly Cross Check. Hmmm…

Biking to School Not allowed?

October 1, 2009

Editor’s Note:

To comment on this story, please visit our blogs: Saratoga Seen | Parent to Parent.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Seventh-grader Adam Marino is getting a firsthand lesson in civil disobedience.

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The 12-year-old and his mother, Janette Kaddo Marino, are defying Saratoga Springs school policy by biking to Maple Avenue Middle School on Route 9. The Jackson Street residents pedal more than four miles together each way to the middle school on nice days despite being told not to by school officials and police.

“I guess you can say that we continue to do what we feel is our right,” Kaddo Marino said recently. “We feel strongly we have a right to get to school by a mode of transportation we deem appropriate.”

Their methods may be unconventional, but the Marinos are part of a growing number of Americans challenging the sedentary habits of today’s youths and what they view as overanxious “helicopter” parenting. As fewer children walk and bike to school nationwide, parents have started groups like the “Walking School Bus,” which promotes physical activity and fitness in youth by having them walk to school with adults.

Parents and teachers at Niskayuna’s Hillside Elementary School implemented the state’s first Walking School Bus program. Separately, this week marks the end of the first “Children and Nature: Saratoga — Come Out and Play,” a week of outdoor events in Saratoga Springs coordinated by the local chapter of a national organization that seeks to “reconnect” children and their families to the outdoors.

Riding his 21-speed Giant mountain bike to school benefits Adam Marino’s health and the environment, his mother says, and Adam believes it makes him a better student. “It would be really nice if it got changed,” he said of the school policy.

The youngster may get his way.

While the school district does not allow elementary school or Maple Avenue students to ride bikes to school, that could change in the coming weeks, Superintendent Janice White said. The Board of Education could vote to amend the policy on Oct. 13, when it is scheduled to discuss a recommendation from a district-formed committee.

“Supervised, parent/guardian bike riding may be permitted at specific sites in the future,” White said in an interview Friday. The school has no legal responsibility over what occurs on Route 9, she added.

The biking debate started last spring, when school district officials told Kaddo Marino that Adam was violating school rules by biking to class. Walking to the school also is not permitted.

Kaddo Marino challenged the policy and asked the school board to change it. The district charged a committee to review the rule, which was instituted in 1994.

At the start of school in September, Kaddo Marino thought that she had a nonverbal agreement with school officials to allow her son to ride his bike until a new policy was resolved. But on the night before classes started, school authorities called parents to say that walking and biking to school would not be tolerated.

When the pair stuck with their plan, they were met by school administrators and a state trooper, who emphasized that biking was prohibited, Kaddo Marino said.

This is so preposterous I had to post it to posterous!