Detroit Tourism Roundup

2017 seems to be the year to visit Detroit.

New York Times puts Detroit as #9 on its list of places to visit. The QLine streetcar seems to have been part of that decision, so maybe there’s hope yet for a regional transit authority. Maybe…

National Geographic made Detroit their North American pick for Unexpected Cities for the Food Lover. They pick up on a few of the standard restaurants (I’m post-post-Slows hype) but miss out on a gaggle of favorites. I don’t miss the commute downtown but I do miss the options at lunch time.

There’s so much good food downtown, I wish I had more opportunities to explore them. My personal list of Detroit dining this weekend consists of Buddy’s Pizza (no, Little Caesar’s doesn’t count as Detroit-style), Tubby’s Submarines and maybe Gold Cash Gold. I should figure out a way to sneak a coney dog in there.

One final word of warning. If you do come to visit Detroit, don’t come here during the winter…

R.I.P. Marvin

mmsign.jpg

Marvin Yagoda, founder of Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum, has passed away.

For those who have never been, Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum is a hidden gem of the Detroit area. It is hidden behind a strip mall and overflowing with cool stuff. There are the standard video games, classic and current, but there’s so much more:

One of my favorite displays is P.T. Barnum’s Cardiff Giant – a fake of a fake.

I hope that Marvin’s legacy lives on. Once my kids are a little older this place is high on my list for family outings.

Photo Credit: Jukie Bot (CC Licensed)

Detroit Roundup

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Houses cheaper than cars in Detroit
“At least 16 Detroit houses up for sale on Sunday sold for $30,000 or less.

A boarded-up bungalow on the city’s west side brought $1,300. A four-bedroom house near the original Motown recording studio sold for $7,000.”

Even better is the MetaFilter discussion about that link (and others): Will The Last Person To Leave Detroit Please Turn Out The Lights?
 

Congressman: Parts Of Iraq Are As Safe As Detroit
What’s great about this is that the analogy is arguing that 80% of Iraq and Detroit are “reasonably under control” which means the guy is using Detroit as a point somewhere on the line between IEDs and Broadway musicals. I think he meant it as a sign of progress in Iraq but the Detroiters aren’t too happy with where they are on that line.
 
Man Accused Of Drunken Driving On Golf Cart
The golf cart had a winch and plow secured to the front, bicycle lights used as headlights and brake lights, and plastic curtains that hung on the sides and the front as a windscreen, Local 4 reported.

A butane heater and CD player were turned on inside the golf cart.

According to the police report, Vanbuskirk replied to a question about who can legally drive a golf cart on the road, saying, “Gov. Granholm.”
 

Top 10 Best / Worst Cities For Software Developer Pay
When you adjust for cost of living expenses, software developers in Detroit (I assume the metro area) make better money than those in Silicon Valley or New York:

Metro Salary Cost of Living Adjusted Salary
New York $89,370 177 $50,492
San Jose $99,250 192 $51,693
San Francisco $92,570 206 $44,937
Detroit $75,250 95 $79,211

 

Looking to upgrade ArborBlogs

ArborBlogs is starting to get a little long in the tooth, and I’m not too happy with the Drupal aggregator codebase. The ability for people to post to the site was under-utilized, to say the least, so I’m looking for a pure-aggregator to replace it.

Some of the things I’m looking for are:

Support for the 9 versions of RSS and Atom. Should be obvious in this day and age, but I had to hack Atom support into Drupal’s aggregator (with a little help from Magpie).

Ability for non-admins to add feeds. I don’t want my disinterest in my inbox to prevent people from getting added. Bonus points if people can put in their blog’s URL or a username for hosted services and have it auto-detect the feed.

Extendibility. While I’d like features like a blog directory, tagging or the picture aggregator to be built in, as long as the package supports some easy way to add new modules I’ll be happy to put in a few hours adding the stuff I want. Prefer Ruby or a scripting language that starts with “P”. Ben Trott may have made Perl the perfect choice with WWW::Blog::Metadata, but Technorati’s web services gather a lot of the same info.

So far I know about Planet Planet, Chumpologica and Planet PHP, all of which don’t seem to have a web front end for adding feeds. Rails Planet looks promising, but the code isn’t available yet.

Any suggestions, Lazyweb?

[Updated 2005-10-14] Looks like someone already asked MetaFilter, and Josh even pointed to ArborBlogs as an example. Not a lot of leads there, either.

RSS vs. the 24 hour news cycle

Bruce Schneier posted his response to a call for the media to pipe down about terrorist attacks. The argument goes that by publicizing terror attacks the media is creating terror, so why not short-circuit the terrorists’ goal? Mr. Schneier explains that the consequence of doing so would cause worse things than terrorism.

He also discusses the nature of the news media in general:

If the press did not report the 9/11 attacks, if most people in the U.S. didn’t know about them, then the attacks wouldn’t have been such a defining moment in our national politics. If we lived 100 years ago, and people only read newspaper articles and saw still photographs of the attacks, then people wouldn’t have had such an emotional reaction. If we lived 200 years ago and all we had to go on was the written word and oral accounts, the emotional reaction would be even less. Modern news coverage amplifies the terrorists’ actions by endlessly replaying them, with real video and sound, burning them into the psyche of every viewer. [emphasis added]

Kathy Sierra says “you can’t be afraid and rational at the same time.” She writes about how the brain deals with fear at low and high levels, and how the media sidesteps higher brain functions to appeal directly to the reptilian brain.

Unlike television shows, movies, and video games–which your brain knows aren’t real–a brain perceives the news as “real” and often concludes that things are far more dangerous than they really are, [emphasis added] thanks to the dramatic statistic imbalance (reality distortion field) between what is displayed on the news and what is actually happening outside your front door. It’s not like you’ll ever hear, for example, a nightly new run down of all the people in your city who were NOT in fact killed in a drive-by shooting that day.

Since I’m a geek, I’m constantly applying technical solutions to social problems. The social problem is that it’s unthinkable for a 24 hour news channel to announce “It’s a slow news day, so we’re taking a break for a while. Enjoy this test pattern until something happens.” Instead, they’ll latch on to whatever story they can because they need to keep people tuned into their advertisements.

The buzzword-compliant solution to this problem is RSS. Well, RSS or something like RSS. RSS provides the model, and it might even provide the format. Chris Anderson wrote about how RSS changes blog posting styles: “in a subscription age, where publishers don’t have to entice you back each day with a flood of new content, quality trumps quantity.” Why wouldn’t the same thing happen to TV?

Continue reading “RSS vs. the 24 hour news cycle”

Happy Snow-On-Tulips Day!

Snow + Tulips

It snowed a lot on Sunday. While this isn’t unheard of in April, a lot of people thought that winter was over because on Tuesday it was 81°. A lot of people write it off as “LOL it’s just Michigan weather” but I think that’s a cop-out and that plenty of other places have unpredictable weather and people who say that desperately want to believe that they don’t live in a flyover.

Anyway, see if you can spot a common theme in these posts that I spotted on the ArborBlogs picture aggregator (Scott, linked below as S. S. Trudeau, picked up on it too):

(As an aside, when I’m signed into Yahoo! and they know damn well what my ZIP code is and I go to Yahoo! Weather, why don’t they just show me the damn weather? Am I the only person who goes there for the weather around me? Are there that many people going there to find weather in places they aren’t that they need to provide a general view of the weather?)

Update Sep 16, 2005: I hear that Yahoo! doesn’t infer ZIP codes or birthdays (for, Yahoo Astrology, for example) from user info because those are used for password reset requests. While I certainly appreciate the thought Yahoo gives to security and identity in general, I wonder if life would be better if there was no overlap between “general facts” and “protected information.” Yahoo has almost certainly given this issue more attention than me and concluded that the general public needs some overlap in the balance between security and usability, but I hope that they are considering what Bruce Schneier has to say on the subject as well.

Looking for a webgeek job?

My employer is looking to hire and has two open positions posted on our website:

Web Developer
The ideal candidate will have experience developing cross-browser user interfaces and well rounded technical experience with scripting for web application development. This person will work with the Software Developer and the Graphic Designer to integrate the user interface with back-end systems and with the Project Manager to meet the functional needs of our customers.
Software Developer
The ideal candidate will be versatile and adaptable with well-rounded technical experience. This person will work with the team to integrate the UI with back-end systems, and with the Project Manager to meet the functional needs of our customers.

If you’re interested send your resumé to jobs@sagient.com.
Two items of disclosure: I’m writing this at work which technically means I’m being paid to do so (although I was not asked to post it, I volunteered) and comments are off because this isn’t really the place to discuss the positions.

Halo 2 something in Ann Arbor

If you know what ilovebees.com is all about, I’ll just say that I’m most likely going to whatever is happening tomorrow at 42.279270 -083.748764 and photos should appear on my Flickr space shortly after 10:59AM EDT. [via]
If you don’t know what it is, ilovebees.com is a marketing game for Halo 2. It’s not obvious from the site or the blog it links to, but if you watch the Halo 2 trailer www.xbox.com changes to www.ilovebees.com for a moment.
Microsoft did a similar game for the movie A.I. called the Beast. It’s sort of like a web scavenger hunt, with clues hidden in all sorts of places. For example, they hid text inside an image so that if you opened the image in a text editor you would see it.
Yesterday, a big set of lat/lon pairs showed up on the site, which the community has turned into real world addresses. One of those addresses happens to be 2 blocks from my office.
I don’t know what exactly is going to happen, but if it means a chance at playing Halo 2 I’ll be there. I feel a little dirty, playing into their marketing hype like this, but if you can’t have faith in Microsoft what has the world come to?
[Update 2004-08-23 10:35 PM] I went down to the location after work. While the addresses linked above say that it is at 324 S. Main St, an address I’m not sure even exists, my GPS put me somewhere around 304 or 306 S. Main St, somewhere between Subway and Mezzanine / Le Dog. I can’t be more specific because I got within 40 feet of where it was supposed to be and my GPS only had a 40 foot resolution. Also, it appears that the location may be in the middle of the street.
I’m not sure that I’ll be going after all. Some of the people on the message board are saying that it would break the plot of the game if something physical were to occur, and it’s likely that the people there will simply receive a clue to the ongoing game. Of course because it’s on the internet, other people are saying that anyone at those coordinates will be abducted by aliens and taken to their home planet where the abductees will experience emotions a hundred times greater than what you call love.
Still the interest/distance ratio works out in its favor, so I’ll probably head on over even though I’m not playing the game. Maybe if I’m lucky the message will be “The End Will Come At Sundown” or “Drink More Ovaltine.”
[Update 2004-08-24 9:39 AM] Yeah, I probably won’t go, it’s a phone call that is a puzzle for the game.

Reuters TV RSS Feed

While not exactly broadcatching, I’m consistently impressed with the World News from Reuters Television RSS feed (preview). They provide links to Real Video streams that show sometimes polished, sometimes raw television segments about world news. They show the fighting on the streets and the government hearings that are important news. Plus, it’s a peek into the future of television when no one will be beholden to network time schedules, a joy TiVo owners know all too well.