My name is Clint and I've lived in Chicago for two years. I love it here and am always thinking of new ways to make it better. That's what DIY Chicago should be about. Innovated and creative people collaborating to make Chicago a better place for everyone through better applications and information sharing.
Some recent news about the perpetual crusade to shut down public access to the WI circuit court records online. How are other states dealing with this?
Don't block access to court records:
State Rep. Marlin Schneider Loses Re-Election – What Does This Mean for CCAP?
Cityleft has worked together with Travelsharing.netsons.org to develop an open source website for car pooling.
Carpooling (also known as car-sharing, ride-sharing, lift-sharing and covoiturage), is the shared use of a car by the driver and one or more passengers, usually for commuting (Wikipedia).
However Travelsharing.netsons.org extended this approach to other forms of mobility such as biking, hiking, and so on.
The website is still at its beta version. Users should join to the community in order to translate contents in local languages.
To take part to this Travelsharing.netsons.org project visit:
If you have a moment to read and respond to this blog post at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, I would appreciate it. Part of the difficulty in getting open gov data is raising it to awareness as a priority.
Milwaukee County mapping site using copyrighted data
By Ben Poston of the Journal Sentinel
May. 26, 2009
After I saw the huge success of @TamaleTracker I thought, we can't be the only people who could benefit from a real time messaging service like this. Why not utilize what Twitter has provided for me, a common data source that people are becoming more and more familiar with, combined with this technology and make it available for anyone who wants to create their own tamale tracker or other service to aggregate their followers content. So I created the Spotd service to do just that.
Spotd and its a free service that listens for @replies sent to a Twitter account and then relays those messages through itself. It's the same functionality as the Tamale Tracker but this can be used for anyone and anyone can set one up. Simply register a Twitter account to the Spotd service and any reply sent to the account will be retweeted.
In addition to being a bot for Twitter accounts, Spotd also is my try at creating a real time communication device for cities and towns across the world. I spend a lot of time walking around Chicago and see interesting things happen all the time - people getting arrested, car accidents, buildings on fire, bank robbery, protests and other news-worthy things. I tweet about them, but I wanted to create something to give people a common source of communication throughout their city to stay on top of things that are happening right now without having to wait for major media outlets to cover them. That’s where the Spotd news service comes in, it is an aggregated, user-submitted news feed for interesting things going on - so far, I created accounts for @SpotdChicago, @SpotdLA, @SpotdSF and @SpotdNYC; with more to come and any user can create their own Spotd news service for their own city.
I hope you can see the value in this as much as I do, if you'd like more information, have any suggestions or would like to help me work on this, please feel free to contact me.
I wanted to let share with the group a new project I just started working on this week using the same technology as the @tamaletracker (twitter.com/tamaletracker). I spend a lot of time walking around Chicago and always notice interesting things going on – from people getting arrested, to celebrity sightings and news-worthy events. I tweet about these sort of things, but have always thought it would be nice to have something or someone to tweet these to, a common data source and place to go for this sort of information. That’s where @Spotd (twitter.com/spotd) comes in, it is an aggregated, user-submitted news feed for interesting things going on, specific to the city you live in - Chicago for now.
I, like many people, always want to be on top of things going on in Chicago (from the standpoint of locals) – this is the perfect way for people to stay updated on what’s going on, right now, in their city. This includes and is not limited to crime reports, breaking news, celebrity sightings, traffic incidents, etc. Best of all with the support of Twitpic users can get actual footage of things that are happening instead of waiting for the major news networks to get out and report on them.
The functionality is the same as the @tamaletracker system. Users tweet a reply to @spotd when they witness said arrests, celebrity sightings and news-worthy events. The system then will relay their message through the http://twitter.com/spotd user account.
In the next couple days(I hope) I am going to whip up a web page and some more descriptive text about the service and make it more extensible than the built in Twitter functionality. As of now I only created an account for Chicago, however this can easily be expanded in a manner of minutes.
I hope you can see the value in this as much as I do, if you'd like more information or have any suggestions, please feel free to contact me.
So, it looks like we've got about 12 (ok, exactly 12) members registered for the Chicago chapter of DIYcity.
I think this sounds like a quorum.
Who's up for having an informal meeting soon? Will be a good opportunity to get to know one another, figure out what our aggregate skill set is, talk about directions for our chapter, and perhaps float some potential project ideas...
When / where works for people?
My vote would be some time next week, ~6pm, meet for drinks somewhere downtown.
Looking forward to working with everyone to help make Chicago a better place.
Hey all -
You may have seen on the main thread that the DIYtraffic Bot is up and running in beta and we've got it tracking traffic right here in Chicago!
There are a couple ways you can interact with it:
1) follow traffic_chicago on Twitter to receive real-time updates (to your mobile phone, if you wish)
2) send a reply to @traffic_chicago to post your own traffic info if you see an accident or jam (no texting and driving, 'natch)
3) send the account a direct message with the name of a street to find out if there have been any recent traffic reports containing that street name (note, if you follow traffic_chicago, it will take about 30m for it to follow you back so you can send DMs to it).
Let me know if you have any problems / questions / comments or suggestions!
Everyone loves tamales and everyone loves late night situations where a friendly stranger delivers hot fresh tamales right to your bar stool. So, after some intense conversations surrounding the Tamale Guy here in Chicago, we came up with a great idea. What if it were some how possible to follow the Tamale Guy via Twitter as he made his rounds? A user community that would tweet when and where they saw the tamale guy and then users could be able to follow the progress by following the twitter.com/tamaletracker (tamaleguy was already taken).
How it works:
- twitter users send a @Reply to @tamaletracker when they see the Tamale Guy at their favorite pub in Chicago.
- then a scheduled listening service looks for any @Replies that have come into twitter.com/tamaletracker.
- when a new tweet comes in, the twitter.com/tamaletracker account then ReTweets on their behalf.
- twitter users sign up to follow twitter.com/tamaletracker or simply go to twitter.com/tamaletracker.
- choose to recieve sms alerts when twitter.com/tamaletracker tweets.
I created this the other day and have not tested it beyond my own tweets up until now. So if anyone does choose to use this little tool please let me know what bugs you find or if it just plain doesn't work for you.
Freezing my arse off tonight waiting for what seemed like way too long for the bus to come, I had an idea of how to make bus tracking even easier than it already is.
The CTA Bus Tracker is a great site run by the CTA that lets you check when the next bus is coming for buses along many routes in the city. The website has a very simple WAP interface which is easily navigable on a mobile device's browser. But there's still quite a few steps you need to go through to find out the time you want:
1. Load up the site
2. Choose your route
3. Choose your stop
4. Choose your direction
It's cold here, and one's fingers can freeze in no time at all pressing that stupid little five-way navigation pad.
All this information is encoded very simply and straightforwardly into a URL as follows:
You wouldn't want to type that in, of course. But it's not particularly easy to get to through the series of links, either. Plus, each page load can take a significant amount of time if your phone has a slow data connection.
This is where a new technology called Microsoft Tag comes in handy. It is a 2d barcode technology which lets you snap a photo of this funky looking little geometric-looking tag thing and magically, using your phone's browser, punts you off to the website which was encoded in the tag! the cool thing about the microsoft solution is that the website is not actually encoded in the tag. instead, the tag encodes some unique identifier which the Microsoft Tag reader app reads, then checks with a server to determine which web site to go to. The upshot of this is that you can change where any given tag points to dynamically, through a microsoft web site.
I imagine a tag printed on a sticker, stuck to every bus stop in the city. all a rider would need to do is take a photo of the tag (the reader app works is available on most smart phones, including windows mobile, blackberry, iphone, any phone that runs java....) and it will bring you to the exact page of the cta site which will tell you how long till the next bus comes ....
how can we make this happen?
is it illegal to put stickers on a bus stop? (probably yes)
but what if it's for a useful purpose? (probably yes, still)
... and was psyched to see that someone has already create a group for Chicago!
I *love* the idea of this site. The whole think global / act local mantra actually put into action in a formalized and repeatable manner ...
So let's get this party started! Unfortunately, there are no shortages of problems in our city. Corruption, rising cost of public transportation, insanely high taxes, homelessness, FREEZING COLD (though I suspect we can't do anything about this :)
So I'll throw something on the table: I would suspect that given the recent hike in the cost of the El to a non-even number of dollars ($2.25), a lot of CTA cards with money still on them (though not enough for a full trip) get tossed. Is there any opportunity here?
I'm also really interested in topics pertaining to sustainability, especially in the context of how and what we eat, and given Chicago's quest for 'green,' this could be another good place to start.
Any feedback / suggestions?