Usually, in New York, if you want to get someplace more than a few blocks away, you take the subway, or if you need to go crosstown, you brace for misery and take the bus. Busses are typically more pleasant than subways, but they are often slow and come unpredictably. I’d be delighted to take my boys to school on the M60 every morning, but busses can come 20 minutes apart. Of course, when you do get one, two others will often follow close on its heels.
The MTA has finally launched, city-wide, an online service that tells you when busses are coming. It’s called BusTime.
As is standard practice for the MTA, they have made the BusTime data feeds publicly available, so that people can integrate them into iPhone apps and the other services. The bus app that I use, unfortunately, seems to have done this incorrectly.
It clearly believes it has the correct data but the results it produces are nonsense. A friend at the MTA guesses that it is reporting the busses as scheduled, rather than the their actual locations. The easiest solution is to tap into the MTA’s data feeds at their own mobile website. For example, the URL to check the busses in front of my son’s school is http://bustime.mta.info/m/?q=403119 and it produces results like this:
Totally accurate, and hugely useful as we decide whether to take the bus or the subway each day.
Rando is a newish “anti-social” photo sharing app, available for iOS and Android. You snap a picture (it’s automatically cropped to a round shape), and Rando sends it to somebody far away. You never learn who they are, though Rando will later tell you where in the world they live. (Brazil and Russia are common destinations). The recipient of your photo is similarly told where you are, but nothing else, and has no way to contact you (though they can rate your photo, and some people have been posting “randos” of their e-mail address as a way of establishing contact with strangers.
I found the service charming for a while. The serendipity of it, slices of life from half a world away.
But pretty soon a problem emerged. I would send photos like these:
Broadway and 110th
Boys’ Gate, Central Park
Battery Place Statue of Liberty
and I’d get back photos like these:
Fluorescent light, Santa Barbara
Fluorescent light, South Korea, near the DMZ
Blurry shoes, Curitiba Brazil
Who knows? Central U.K.
It’s easier to take a lousy picture than a good one, and absent any kind of reputation system, Rando has no way to encourage people to send anything interesting. The result is a lot of blurry photos of people’s feet and of fluorescent lights.
Lots of people use laptops in the reading rooms of the New York Public Library.
And at a glance, it looks like Apple’s got at least half the market.
I remember seeing similar things on the local subnet when last I was on jury duty.
This cartoon ran in Harpers, I think, in about 1987. I loved it so much I made a copy in MacPaint and have had it lying around ever since.
Below is the Fox Business holiday card, clearly designed by the same “artist” who did the Fox News card, with the same creepily aggressive tone, and similarly depicting the audience as sheep.
Fox Business Holiday Card 2012