home * about me * resume
Derivative Works from Daniel X. O'Neil

« June 2007 | Main | August 2007 »

Regular users contribute mightily to CTA Alerts

I first conceived CTA Alerts, the wireless notification utility for service interruptions on the Chicago Transit Authority, as a rider-to-rider service in the absence of good top-down communication from the CTA. Since we started, however, the CTA itself has been the top poster of information, and all of it is quality stuff.

Tonight, however, highlights the area where normal riders almost always beat out the CTA: in breaking news alerts. Apparently another person (seems to be a lot lately) has been hit by a train. We got this first alert at 9:59PM:

"loop30@upoc.com"    
Power is off on BROWN line in both directions in area of Kedzie due to person under a train.  CFD on scene working.

Later, another user chimes in:

"chicagocutie@upoc.com"    
As of 10:55pm, CTA website rpts Brown Line still not running past Western.  Shuttles running.

Nothing yet from the CTA. I'm actually not complaining, because in a system like this, it doesn't really matter where the info comes from, as long as it's accurate and timely. When everyone contributes what they can. Also, it seems that the second post was from a third party reporting info learned from the CTA, serving as an informal conduit.

The system is working.

Niki In The Garden Kicks Ass


Niki In The Garden, originally uploaded by juggernautco.

Here's a set containing every work of art in the Niki in the Garden show. It was stunning, really. A few pieces are Bean-like in their ability to draw you in to touch and be next to, and just make you feel silly and good to be inside art.

Saint Francis of Assisi/Our Lady of the Angels Parish

I started a new website project for Saint Francis of Assisi/Our Lady of the Angels Parish, a parish on the West Side of Chicago that is the remaining amalgam of 5 parishes, the other 4 having been closed by the Archdiocese over the last 15 years.

There are images in this set of many of the transplanted relic objects in the Church-- critical statues, lecterns, and baptismal fonts that have been brought from closed Churches by the people who survived them.

I Work at EveryBlock

As of this morning, I work at EveryBlock, a Web site that aggregates an unprecedented depth of local news and information in select cities. I am insanely excited about it.

Everyblock

Caleb on Gapers Block


Niki In The Garden, originally uploaded by juggernautco.

This picture is featured in the Rearview section of Gapers Block.

Steve Albini Answers All Comers

Holy crap one my heroes is answering all comers in a poker forum.

Steve Albini apparently likes poker. When people on this poker forum read his profile and found out who he was (recorded In Utero, headed up Big Black, and did a couple other legendary, influential things), he agreed to do a "Steve answers questions" thread.

I have traveled in the music scene as a musician and recording engineer for better than 25 years. I have worked on a couple thousand records, some of them with famous rockstars, though most of them you're probably never heard of. I know a lot about making records, recording technology, touring, being in a rock band and the like. I own Electrical Audio, a 2-studio recording complex in Chicago, Illinois, where I make records every day.

I will answer any questions related to being in a touring/recording rock band, working in the studio with musicians both great and famous, making records, brushes with actual rock star celebrities, etc.

How I Use Pownce

There's been a lot of buzz about Pownce, the new "way to send stuff to your friends". The most insightful thoughts are here, the declaration that "Pownce is competing with 37Signals, not Twitter!".

Without getting into an overly-typed manifesto, the most useful thing you can do when thinking about Pownce and other social networking applications is to be generic rather than specific.

Go from "send cat pics from dorm room in New Haven to mom in Dallas" to "send any file to anyone from anywhere". That way it's a short step into "send updated machine maintenance report from factory in Korea to corporate headquarters in Oklahoma". Suddenly it's not silly anymore.

Any application that has pop-culture popularity also has enterprise utility. Way beyond "blogs for business".

So anyway I've been sitting on Pownce for a while (thanks, Paul!), trying to figure out how to use it. I use Twitter for my NYT Anonymity Project (explication) rather than micro-updates on how my day's going. Again, taking it from the personal (which I've actually grown to appreciate, because you can gain insight into friends & acquaintances, leading to more intimacy and connection w/ hardly any work) to the generic (RSS feed for things that get updated) and then back to the specific for a more useful utility (show all reasons why anonymity was granted to a source in the NYT).

It's the file sharing feature of Pownce that is most appealing to me. For the last couple years I've kept a PDF collection on my desktop. A few times per month a really important document is published that is best viewed (or only available) in its native format-- the National Intelligence Estimate, the Family Secrets Indictment, stuff like that. I download these documents and save them so I can get at them later.

So there you have it-- Pownce is now my online PDF Collection, where you can be up-to-date on all the latest info in your least favorite portable document format.

Scared of August

Next month is when everyone in Washington D.C. takes vacation. After August comes the low-sun clear blue sky horror of early September. Here's Frank Rich last Sunday:

So give Mr. Chertoff credit for keeping his eye on the enemy while everyone else in the capital is debating never-to-be-realized benchmarks for an Iraqi government that exists in name only. Just as President Bush ignored that August 2001 brief "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.," so Washington, some of its press corps included, is poised to shrug off the August 2007 update "Al Qaeda Better Positioned to Strike the West." The capital has been sucker-punched by the administration's latest P.R. offensive to prop up the fiasco in Iraq.

*

For all Washington's hyperventilating about the Iraqi Parliament's vacation plans, it's our own government's vacation from reality this summer that should make us very afraid.

God bless Frank Rich.

National Survey Service, Inc: Engineers and Surveyors

Here's my recent contribution to the Faded Signage Pool over at Flickr. I love this stuff. Here's all my photos in the pool.

Concrete Traffic Jam


Concrete Traffic Jam, originally uploaded by juggernautco.

LaSalle north of the river. And Chicago is still on the move.

ABOUT ME

Daniel X. O'Neil: Chicago-based writer and internet developer. I am a co-founder of and the People Person for EveryBlock, a site that pulls together local news and public information. I run dozens of personal projects and websites for clients, and also own half of a poetry book company.

PROJECTS

EveryBlock: A news feed for your block.
CTA Tweet: Unofficial Twitter tracker for the Chicago Transit Authority.
CityPayments: Database of all vendors, contracts, and payments that have been posted by the municipal government of the City of Chicago
Wesley Willis Art: Site dedicated to the fact that Wesley Willis was an artist.
Wide Right Turn: An incomplete look at the role of variation in a capitalist society.

TWITTERLICIOUS

    follow me on Twitter

    THE INEVITABLE FACEBOOK

    NEWS NEAR CITY HALL

    OPENGOV CHICAGO

    Projects

    • Wesley Willis Art
      Site dedicated to the fact that Wesley Willis was an artist.
    • CTA Alerts
      Wireless notifications about service on the Chicago Transit Authority.
    • Wide Right Turn

      An incomplete look at the role of variation in a capitalist society.
    • Derivative Works Art Manifesto
      Humans own their experience of copyrighted content.
    • Y!Q Link Generator
      Simple form for creating Y!Q links to add relevance, annotate text, and provide more sophisticated layers of meaning to web content.