Archive for the ‘online’ Category

The Fire Department on YouTube

I think I can say this is one of the most interesting uses of YouTube I have ever seen. The Tribune Review mentioned that the Sutterville fire department (located in Westmoreland County) has a video on YouTube of what they do each year. In the past 10 years, I have watched 2 different buildings burn from significant fire – check out pictures from Harris Grill Fire last summer here. Additionally, firemen and police officers are the ones that we count on to respond to some of the most horrific events, accidents and tragedies. I know there has been some frustration in Pittsburgh over the fire fighters contracts but I do have a level of respect for the people that are willing to help out with some of the worst situations that the rest of us never have to deal with.

So here is the video, well music video, of some of the things that the Sutterville Fire Department works on. I would love to hear more about how they decided to put together the video.

Word Play

Well I know it has been a bit since my last post here. During this Christmas holiday I discovered the Scrabulous application on Facebook and my computer time has been transformed. Instead of blogging about interesting and important news in Pittsburgh, I spend my time figuring out how to create a 50 point word out of the letters X C Y and O. I have learned lots of new (and possibly useless words) and I have almost memorized the handy list of 2 letter words. I know now that QI is a real word meaning “variants of chi” – not sure when I will need to use the word QI in a sentence or even how to pronounce QI.
If you do not have a profile on Facebook, never fear there is an online version you can play outside of Facebook at

I wanted to write about Scrabulous and see if there was any interest in an online Scrabble tournament here in Pittsburgh. However, My word building life was brought to a grinding halt today when I received an email with a link to this article in it from one of my friends who now also loves Scrabulous too.

Facebook asked to pull Scrabulous

So the Scrabble people are feeling a little threatened by all of the Facebook word building fun. I am not sure how I feel about this. While I understand the concern, I tend to think that all of the popularity that has developed around Scrabulous has got to be good for Scrabble business. There is quite a Scrabble following right here in Pittsburgh – click here to see my post on IheartPGH about local Scrabble clubs.

We are finally on the map

The very specific map known as Google Street View, represented here by a Post-Gazette mockup. Apparently they couldn’t figure out how to copy one of the real pictures either. It shows us what our streets look like. Here, for instance, is the beer distributor where I work. Here is the other beer distributor where I also work.

The Post-Gazette is kind enough to allay the fears of the nonagenarians who make up their core readership and believe that young people can perform magic with their computers and such:

Street View is not, as some might fear, real-time video. Pulling up a view of Downtown will not show people walking down Smithfield Street — the “Simpsons” episode in which Marge Simpson accidentally spies a naked Homer on a hammock got it wrong.

I want naked people on hammocks! Get to work, Google nerds!

Brief Update: As I looked more closely at this picture, I realized that the Post-Gazette graphics department seems to think that the opposite of west is also west. I guess that explains how they ended up doing newspaper art: once you fail out of cartography school, there are few other options.

Downtown Pittsburgh Blog

I meant to do a post about this when I found it a while back. Downtown Pittsburgh, now has at least one resident blogger with a blog about life downtown. It’s not too active, but it does help show some signs of life.

Detroit Yes: Virtual Detroit Meets Real Detroit

About a year and a half ago, I found this amazing website called Detroit Yes!The site was obviously founded as a labor of love by people eager to document what was left of their city and it quickly became a place for people to talk about their memories of Detroit and what they can do to make the city great again. For a while I was on the Detroit Yes forums a lot, they seemed to be a place where the huge Detroit diaspora could meet to talk about the city. A lot of the people posting and commenting no longer lived in the area, but they were eager to share the things they learned by living in other places.

“The DetroitYES project began with the 1996 launch of the “Fabulous Ruins of Detroit” tour.This guided tour of the contemporary ruins of Detroit is accompanied by brief notes which, woven together, tell the story of precipitous decline and agonizing path of the great city of Detroit in the late 20th Century.

Along away the visitor will discover a snapshot of the ruins of Detroit in the mid 1990’s meant to stimulate and energize discussion of the questions, “What went wrong?” and “Where to do we go from Here?”

The “Classic Tour” forms the core of the DetroitYES project, an endeavor that has grown to over 2000 pages and has become home the most active forum for the discussion of Detroit, its problems and its promise –
The Discuss Detroit Forum.

You are invited and encouraged to share your memories, questions and observations with the millions who now visit this site and participate its discussion forums.”

Pittsburgh, Third Bloggiest City

I meant to do this post a few weeks ago about Outside in and USA Today ranking us as the third “bloggiest”, city in America. I think recording blogs by geographic area is pretty recent, but the stats ring true. Pittsburgh clearly has a lot of serious, smart bloggers and I think they are starting to have an impact on the city’s culture. The number of good stuff is way too much for me to read.

“Well, the figures represent the total number of place-based blog posts in March and April per 100,000 residents in the cities’ metro areas. So to arrive at this list we just took the total number of place-based blog posts in a city’s metro area, and divided by the
number of people living in that area.”

It seems like a few people are a bit upset about this, like David in Manhattan.

“Wow. I am really upset. I understand why Boston is ranked #1. And I’m OK with it. Really. But for New York City to be #6, well, that’s just embarassing! With all due respect to Philly, Pittsburg (Pittsburgh?), D.C., and Portland (OK, I get Portland), but NYC #6? Can we find out how Manhattan ranks? I think that would be more fair.

I say we have a contest. You know us New Yorkers. We’re very competitive!
(Disclaimer: some of my best friends are from Pittsburgh.)(Oh, and I suspect I’ve offended several million people. My apologies. But can we look into the Manhattan thing?)”

“1. The demographics of a city’s metro area strongly shape its blogginess quotient. Cities like New York may have areas, like Brooklyn, that are very blog-dense, but if they also have big areas where blogs are sparse (like the Bronx), that will lower their overall post-to-resident ratio, making them less-bloggy cities. Chicago, Los Angeles and New York all scored lower on the list for this reason – they had lots and lots of local blog posts, but the sheer number of people living in those areas blew that number away. If your metro area has 19 million people in it, you’ve got to do a lot of blogging to get on the bloggiest cities list.”

“2. Blogginess in a city is reflective of growth, civic activism, and a writerly population. Boston, as the bloggiest city, has a hot economy, is notorious for local political activism, and has a university every other block, which all combine to push it’s post-to-resident ratio up-up-up.”

Learning About Online Marketing

Today I am participating in a conference about online marketing. I am talking about how businesses can use blogging. There are some amazing presenters here. If you want to follow along they are live blogging the entire day –

No More Boring Data

You Should Probably Behave Yourselves in Public For The Next Couple of Days.

If you’ve ever looked at Google Maps’s top-down view and wished you could actually see what a certain location looked like to normal people (and not astronauts), your wish was recently granted by Google Street View. That is, if you live in a city that isn’t Pittsburgh.

That’s all about to change.

Google’s camera cars are spidering their way through Pittsburgh right now. The photograph, above, is what the cars look like. If you see one in your immediate area, try to keep your pants on. Or, if you’re not wearing pants, try to keep your tops on. Also, make sure you wait a few days to dry your laundry, get your hardcopy porn on, get in a fistfight, commit a burglary or spy on your neighbors.

You’ll thank me later, when people like these folks start scrutinizing us.

Al Gore: A Good Bet

No, this is not another post about Al Gore and the Live Earth Concerts. This is about Al Gore III who has also been in the news recently for being arrested on July 4 for speeding in his Prius and for drug possession. I am not really interested in criticizing Al Gore or his family over this incident. The Gore family has some issues to work through. But I do want to share this related article because it is pretty funny.
It turns out that about 50 people made some money off of this arrest. reports that Paddy Power, an online Irish betting website had been running a promotion about which high profile American would be the next to be arrested.

The Irish bookmaker offered odds of 14-to-one that ‘Al Gore’ would be the next high-profile American to be arrested but did not specify which ‘Al Gore’ it meant. In a bizarre coincidence that could cost the Dublin-based firm up to $13,600, the former American Presidential candidate’s son, Albert ‘Al’ Gore III, was arrested last week for drugs possession after being stopped for speeding in California.

Ireland’s largest bookmaker said that some 50 people had placed money on the long shot and have been quick to claim their winnings.

‘We got a good stoning thanks to the Vice-President’s son,’ said the company in a statement.

I also learned from this article on that Al Gore III is the associate publisher of a magazine “Good” which is targeted at getting young people involved in philanthropy. Interesting.

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