Archive for July, 2008

Mike, manufacturing, and microchips

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’ve historically been less than a fan of our local Congressman, Mike Doyle, mainly because he seemed like someone who didn’t quite “get it”. Admittedly, some of that was bad experiences when I and some fellow CMU students went to Washington to ask for support of specific legislations, but there were also things like his Center for Manufacturing Technology — a focus on things that are dead and gone, as opposed to the industries that are likely to be the new lifeblood of our region.

I saw a glimmer of hope after the Girl Talk incident, and after this past Monday, I think it’s time to change my tune. The good Congressman flexed a bit of muscle and brought the entire FCC to Pittsburgh, so that they could hear from a combination of academics, entrepreneurs, and even neighborhood groups about why a free and open Internet is important to maintain. (Aside from supporting things like bloggers who want to run our mouths off, I mean.) Of course, it doesn’t hurt that with the world’s largest collection of super-geeks sitting right there in Oakland, a lot of the companies who make millions off the future Internet will start right here in Pittsburgh. That’s as good a use of legislative power as I’ve seen lately, and I hope we’ll be seeing a lot more of it.

Introducing The Hub


If Metblogs is a city, hub.metblogs is the playground. We kept hearing from people that one of their favorite parts of Metblogs was meeting and interacting with readers and writers from other parts of the world, as well as getting requests for more ways that readers could be involved besides just posting comments. We thought about this for a while and decided that with a network like this, a giant community area where folks from all over the world could hang out, post photos and videos, talk with each other, form groups, play games, send messages, and do about a million other things was probably a pretty fun idea. The Hub is that.

If you have any tech ideas or suggestions join this group and speak up. See you on hub.metblogs!

The TDP and the Long Squiggly Line

A while back, some local design folks wrote (well, drew) an excellent editorial entitled “The Long Squiggly Line That’s Killing Our Transit System”. I bring this back to your attention not only because it’s a good editorial, but because somebody needs to toss a couple billion copies of it at the fine folks down at the Port Authority.

See, they’re currently working on something called the Transit Development Plan, and as part of it, their market analysis has realized that (gasp!) there is not a good match between where the buses run, where people who use buses live, and where people who use buses want to go. There’s town hall meetings, and there’s even a simplistic online survey, but if my prior experience with PAT town halls is any guide, these are mostly going to be people talking about their ACCESS service. ACCESS is critical, but it’s also not the primary economic function of mass transit. PAT needs to hear from the young professionals and other workers who use the regular bus service, and they need to be told how to use what they have in ways that make more sense. That’d be you, since you’re the type who reads Pittsburgh blogs. Get to work!

Whole Foods Austin vs. Whole Foods Pittsburgh

Whole Foods Austin vs. Whole Foods Pittsburgh

Originally uploaded by pittsburghmetblogpics

This is the view from my table on the patio at the whole Foods store in Austin, TX. I am visiting Austin for a few days and I walked into whole foods to pick up a snack. I think this is the origionsl Whole Foods and it is way more than a grocery store. I had to walk past the windows of the catering/cooking school to get to the front door – I have since figured out there are like 6 entrances. I am going to guess that this store is about 8 times the size of the Pittsburgh one. So what is Pittsburgh missing ? Juice bar, wine shop, beer cooler, mini clothing boutique, a huge produce section, larger bakery, candy counter with chocolate fountain, patio with babbling brooke, composting bins and a concierge. I am not sure what a grocery store concierge does but they have one.

Cut-and-paste: It’s not just for China anymore

The Post-Gazette has, on Sundays, been running a feature called “The Cutting Edge”, where they post snippets from Pittsburgh-related blogs. (Yes, I still get 90% of my news on dead trees. Portable, useful for stuffing shipping boxes, and doesn’t require me to pay some silly “hotspot” to read it.) It has sunk to new lows. You may recall that Chinese newspaper that accidentally recycled a story from The Onion?. Scroll down this week’s Cutting Edge and find “One of America’s great newspapers” doing the same thing. I’d like to hope they’re just adding it in as a bit of comic belief, but the lack of framing text makes me think someone there is just plain asleep at the switch.

Not to worry, though. They’re a “manufacturer” according to state law, and thus aren’t required to pay property taxes. With all that money they’re saving, I’m sure they can put it towards finding, you know, real news to report on once in a while.

Kids e-fest 2008

Kids e-fest 2008

Originally uploaded by pittsburghmetblogpics

Yhe field at peabody high school has been transformed into a kid friendly carnival – inflatables, art projects and performances. I am here helping at the tent making paper bag puppets. The Manchester craftsmans guild is letting kids screenorint their own shirts. Facepainting is a popular activity with the little kids. E-fest is a project of the East End cooperative ministries youth business initiative.

Still waiting… Possible system outage at apple

Still waiting… Possible system outage at apple

Originally uploaded by pittsburghmetblogpics

It is now 10:30 am and there is still a line of people waiting at the apple store. There are 3 police cars in front of the store. I just talked to the police officer and asked us there have been any issues. So far no problems but the office just told me that the system is down and they can’t sell any mechandise.
What is interesting is that I see at least 2 people in line that are talking on iphones. I am assuming those are the old phones and they are waiting to get the new ones.

iphone 3g line and Voter Registration

Since I was up and working on email early this morning I decided to head to the Coffee Tree on Walnut Street in Shadyside for a cup of coffee. I had to cross quite a line of people to actually get into the Coffee Tree. At 8am this morning the new iphone 3g is going on sale and this is quite a line of people waiting to get the new iphone.

While waiting in line – the Apple employees are handing out free coffee from the coffee tree (thank you for supporting a local business) and there are 2 guys working the line with clipboards of voter registration forms (I think they are wearing Obama buttons but I am not sure).

I did a quick search of Pittsburgh bloggers – thus far the only other person blogging about the iphone is – he decided the iphone 3g isn’t for him yet.

It’s now 8:30 am and the line is still stretching as far as the Coffee Tree.

The Pierogie Trail?

I’m just back from another trip to Boston, where I am reminded yet again that US Airways pulling
out was probably one of the best things that could happen to Pittsburgh air travel. In ten years of
flying PIT<->BOS, they have not once managed to give me a flight that departs on time, arrives on
time, *and* does not lose checked baggage. If only they weren’t still beloved of corporate travel
managers across the nation…

But I digress. On this trip, I happened to cross Boston’s
famous <a href=””>Freedom Trail</a>,
a tourist attraction that allows you to hike through the great events of American history. It
started me wondering: why don’t we have one of those? Pittsburgh may not have quite as many
events that make it into grade-school history books, but we *do* have a big cluster of interesting
museums, buildings, eating spots, and even historical sites, if you consider Downtown, the North
Shore, and the Strip as a collection. We’re also pretty good at painting lines on the ground and
constantly rerouting traffic. Why not develop an official trail to take tourists through Downtown
and its surroundings and help them take in the sights? It’d be as good a marketing tool as anything
else we’ve currently got going on…

From the river

From the river

Originally uploaded by gophotogo

This is the view from my kayak on the river. These are easy no tip kayaks. No exorience necessary. Just head on down to kayak pittsburgh located just under the Roberto Clement bridge, for less than $ 20 you can be on the river too.

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