Jane Jacobs, Inspiration, and the Internet

Last night at 3am, our daughter Brieza started crying, Frannie and I woke up, and I couldn’t get back to sleep.  So I crawled over into my office and started surfing the web.  For about two hours, I wandered from thing to thing, and seemed to keep hitting gems, like this classic Paul Graham article on… Continue reading

Open source and open knowledge

I spent part of the train ride home today working on a coding project (the Highrise bookmarklet I blogged about wanting on Monday).  It’s almost done and I’m excited to start using it. I am not a great programmer, but I like it a lot. I only took one CS course in college. I really… Continue reading

Wanted: Highrise Chrome Extension

Update: I built it. I’ve used Highrise as a lightweight CRM for a few years now.  It’s fine for my needs — basically keeping track of people who I meet on email. The thing that really made Highrise start to work for me is integration with Gmail, via Rapportive.  Being able to add someone to… Continue reading

Connected Learning

Yesterday at the Center for Civic Media, our lunch guest was S. Craig Watkins, a professor at UT Austin working on a variety of projects under the heading of “Connected Learning”.  In his blog post about the idea, Dr. Watkins defines this as: the increasingly complex ways in which young people’s learning ecologies are evolving.… Continue reading


Earlier this year, my friend and former colleague Thor Snilsberg started a new nonprofit organization called CityScience to improve the quality and relevance of science education for urban students.  In their words: CityScience is committed to raising the quality of science education and supporting environmental stewardship. By using the natural and built environments of cities… Continue reading

Required Reading

At OpenPlans, we’ve hired two new Project/Product managers within the last month. I couldn’t be happier with the hires, and they are already doing great work.  Jeff Maki is handling our work with public transit agencies (like the OpenTripPlanner and our shiny new real-time bus tracking project with MTA, building on the fabulous OneBusAway package).… Continue reading

Elevator pitches, weddings and babies

At OpenPlans, we’re busy signing up new clients for our products & services, and we’re also spending a lot of time fundraising (from individual donors, foundations, etc.).  As such, I’ve been thinking about how we pitch our organization, and have recently spent some time over the past few days reading some of the great stuff… Continue reading

Wanted: Aggregated Group Playlist

I love music, but I am really bad about keeping up with new stuff.  My iTunes library is only so-so, so I spend most of my time listening to playlists on 8tracks.  This is good for variety, and great for finding the right background music for a BBQ or party, but there’s something missing: my… Continue reading

Scribefire is so awesome

I can’t say enough about ScribeFire.  It’s a Firefox add-on that gives you an in-window blogging client.  Here are just a few reasons why it’s awesome: You’re blogging from within Firefox, and you can move among webpages while keeping your blog post editing window open.  This comes in really handy when looking for references, quoting… Continue reading

The Perfect Conference Format

I’ve been attending a lot of events lately, and one thing that keeps coming up for me is that the multi-day conference / workshop format is a bit broken. My main beef: by day two (or god forbid, day three) the audience has petered out and whatever energy was there on day one has been… Continue reading

Help! Can't drop

When I couldn’t sleep the other night, I started mocking up a zippy drag-n-drop front end for Trac, based on the snappy UI of tools like Things (working title is FasTrac).  Then, bam! Bitten by a weird, seems-like-a-bug w/ jQuery UI drag and drop.  It appears that droppables aren’t discoverable by draggables if the droppable… Continue reading

Crowdsourcing my schedule

I had a great crowdsourcing experience yesterday. Here at TOPP Labs, we’re doing a 6-month check-in on our annual employee reviews.  What that means for me is a 30-minute interview with each of the folks on my team (about 20 in total), where we look back on the past six months to see how we’re… Continue reading

'Do You Know Me?' Authentication

For a recent personal project (I won’t say which since that would defeat the purpose), I was in need of a new kind of authentication. My wife and I wanted to create a website where we could post photos and news for our family and friends, while keeping that information off of the broader intertubes. … Continue reading

New App Idea: Dude, Where's My Car?

Even though I shouldn’t own a car, I do, and as every car owner in NYC knows, dealing with alternate-side parking is a hassle. That, combined with my recent itch to write a small mobile app, has lead me to the following idea:  the “Dude, Where’s My Car?” app for mobile.   Here’s what it will… Continue reading

Happy Halloween

It’s really amazing how walking down the street with a funny hat on puts smiles on people’s faces.  Today, I’m going to pretend I’m not wearing a viking hat.  I only wish I had bought the hat before I got on the subway this morning.  Happy Halloween! Continue reading

Buy my car!

Frannie and I are ready to sell our car, Dudley.  He’s a great car, and we love him, but we just don’t use him enough to justify the expense.  If you’re interested or know anyone who might be, let me know I didn’t make a website for this car like I did last time, but… Continue reading


One of my colleagues at The Open Planning Project, Sebastian Benthall, has started blogging over at Digifesto. Seb is one sharp cookie, so keep an eye on this blog for lots of great web gems — the blog will be focusing on “how the internet and open source software can be used by civil society… Continue reading