Last month, The New York Times wrote about how the U.S. Embassy in Beijing was measuring, recording, and tweeting air quality data, including some ‘crazy bad’ Beyond Index readings for PM2.5 particulates and ozone levels.
Today, a team of geo-media ninjas from Google released some satellite photography taken over Beijing at about that time of “Beyond Index” readings on or about Jan. 11 – Jan. 12, depending on your time zone.
The Google ninjas linked to this tweet, for a time reference:
I massaged the images slightly, and put them together with “before” photos from March 28 (first image set) and September 14 (other two image sets) that the Google team also provided:
Now, I can’t say whether I’m seeing cloud cover or pollution, but if you trust the tweets put out by the U.S. Embassy that day, it doesn’t look good.
Not that things are fine and dandy either at home here, in Vancouver, B.C.
I became aware of a few new DataBC data sets a few weeks ago, consisting of various spreadsheets of government purchasing card expenditures stretching from the fiscal year ending in 2007 to the fiscal year ending in 2010. (The fiscal years end March 31, hence the mad rush to spend, spend spend…)
But it was only a week ago that I decided to take a closer look.
I was reading Stephen Quinn’s Globe and Mail column — the entry about the non-renaming of BC Place — and one of the comments mentioned a local political blog, which I checked out and which led to a link to the most recent update (FYE11) in the data set of purchasing cards spending.
It was a PDF.
Now, nothing riles an open-data / data-journalist type more* than tabulated information being presented as a PDF, so I attacked it like the proverbial starving Chihuahua on a pork chop. Continue reading
I decided this year to get accustomed to both Python and Ruby and spent quite some time getting my 10.5.8 Leopard mac working with Xcode and pip and all sorts of Terminal-coding-environment things that were quite buggy, as it turns out. (Whoever recommended to me to use MacPorts last year: Shame on you.)
Now that I have nice virtualenv Python instances and tidy little rbenv Ruby silos, it’s all fun and games. I install libraries into my selected builds, and it works. So I’m finally able to run sample code without it throwing a whole bunch of errors about how outdated my environment is. (So embarrassing!)
I’ve just started on Dan Nguyen‘s The Bastards Book of Ruby, where he actually encourages cut-and-run in chapter 2, on ‘Tweet Fetching’, perhaps just to get you excited about coding. (It runs! It does stuff! I’m hacking Twitter!)
But yeah, I mean, it is fun.
When the exercises turned to downloading and running some simple stats on sets of tweets, I decided to use something that is much more interesting than my own feed: @ScanBC.
ScanBC is an online community in British Columbia of people who like to monitor emergency radio communications* — and in some cases, hook up and stream live feeds over the Internet.
Occasionally, someone from within that community tweets out what is overheard… Continue reading
I know that the SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference is cool beans in the computing world, which I used to live in.
If you’ve seen any animated feature this year, or any CG-heavy action feature, or played a video game that was made in North America chances are that key figures from the animation production crew were present, or presenting, at this video game and film industry gathering last week in Vancouver.
Above: The floor. Below: VanArts clearly wins the booth bunny contest.
Some journalists were there covering the people, companies, and demos themselves.
I, without a media pass, went on meta-recon to see what goodies might be handy in the actual process of news gathering or presentation.
Though I only went with a basic pass (no papers, no in-depth talks, no animation festival), I came up with this list of 10 promising, or inspiring, technologies for present and future journalists:
- 3D animated explainers
- 3D models from 2D images
- Mapping the indoors
- Open 3D web standards
- On-demand 3D printing
- Workstations in the cloud
- 3D mice
- Cameras that see around corners
- Clustering algorithms for images
- Augmented reality (AR)
Read below if you want to know more about each one, as I saw it, at SIGGRAPH 2011 in Vancouver. Continue reading
Soon after I found out about an upcoming trial of a ‘ban’ of port-bound container trucks on Nanaimo Street, I was pointed to a press release from the Port that included directions for where trucks should head.
Under the 90-day-trial, which begins in one month, “Port Metro Vancouver will direct container trucks travelling via the Knight Street Corridor from Richmond/Delta to use the following Major Road Network (MRN) route to access the McGill/Commissioner Street entrance to the Port: Clark Drive to Hastings Street; Hastings Street to Cassiar Street/Highway 1; Cassiar Street/Highway 1 to Bridgeway Street; Bridgeway Street to McGill Street.”
That looks something like this (thick grey line):
View PMV trial: Hastings diversion in a larger map
Here’s the letter that went out to residents and business owners who signed up for a Port Metro Vancouver mail list on the matter: Continue reading
Last week OpenFile published a story I reported* on trucks that seemed to have suddenly appeared on some routes in east Vancouver in June.
Although I was tipped off that some news was coming today, it’s 4 p.m. and I have yet to hear back from the City or the Port (I’ve put my requests in earlier today).** However, a community group has some answers today as to what the City and the Port are willing to do to address the situation.
In June, residents in east Vancouver noticed a traffic pattern change after the Boundary Road on-ramp to Highway 1 was closed. But preceding that change, the port authority had closed the Clark Drive entrance and diverted all truck traffic bound for the port and container terminals on Burrard Inlet to the McGill Street entrance.
As Mosca reported
, Johnston said that Port Metro Vancouver has decided to police truckers who are licensed to service the port tenants by monitoring the routes taken through Vancouver and penalizing truckers who use Nanaimo Street.
There is a ton of information that just doesn’t fit into a 1,200-word story. And, as I’ve been reading, “nobody wants to read big blocks of text online anymore” anyhow.
So, in order to expand on the OpenFile story I put together on trucks in East Vancouver and changes around the port, I thought I’d see how Storify works.
Here’s my brief history (not quite a timeline) of trucks and the port in Vancouver: Continue reading