Blog post
6 days ago
Love 'em or hate 'em, drones are coming. But is the issue of aesthetics getting enough treatment in the drone wars?
Pete Sullivan
Blog post
November 5, 2004, 8pm PST
A color-coded map of how different states voted in the 2004 U.S. presidential election was probably the most common graphic used to convey the election results in a single picture by the news media. The following graphic by CNN uses color to highlight the states that "switched" parties.

 2004 Election Results by State

CNN: 2004 Election Results by State

The New York Times had a more informative map that took into account population density.
Abhijeet Chavan
Blog post
November 5, 2004, 11am PST
In which metropolitan areas did businesses move to adopt the Internet most quickly?

A July, 2003 research paper from Carnegie Mellon University, co-authored by Chris Forman, Avi Goldfarb and Shane Greenstein, explores the extent of commercial adoption of the Internet in the nation's 50 largest metropolitan areas.

The paper --
"How did Location Affect Adoption of the Commercial Internet?-Global Village, Urban Density and Industry Composition"
--explores the connection between industry composition and city size in explaining business use of the Internet.
Chris Steins
Blog post
November 4, 2004, 1pm PST
I've been talking about Democratic margins in cities, but check out this exit poll analysis from CJR Campaign Desk:

[T]he category in which Bush showed the most significant gains over the year 2000 was urban voters (who made up 30 percent of all voters), among whom Bush polled 9 percentage points better than in 2000. Bush did even better among voters in the largest cities, picking up 12 points on his 2000 performance.

On the other hand, the New York Times has a bunch of maps on the back page of its special Election section today (which I can't find a link to; sorry) says that Kerry's margins in cities were actually much larger than Bush's margins in rural areas.
Blog post
November 4, 2004, 10am PST
Here's the county-by-county map for this year, thanks to USA Today.

Blue is mostly cities; red is suburban and rural, as I've pointed out before. What's interesting is, as I understand it, Kerry victories in the blue towns were by a much narrower margin than Bush victories in the red regions.
Blog post
November 2, 2004, 8pm PST
Liveblogging this on election night: I told you so. CNN now explaining that the islands of blue in Ohio, in a sea of red, are the counties containing Cleveland and Dayton. Islands of blue in Florida are Miami. I'm just sayin'...if Kerry wins tonight (or tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow) it'll be the urban areas that do it.
Blog post
November 1, 2004, 5pm PST
I've been hearing a lot about WiMax, and thi article,Mobile 'hot spots' push limits from the St. Paul Pioneer Press explains how a Twin Cities tech entrepreneur has retrofitted an old TV-station truck to serve as a roving hot spot for Internet access. His technology firm has blanketed the metropolitan area with WiMax transmitters atop local skyscrapers.

"DeVaan's modified van performs a similar trick. Its mast communicates with any of the wireless-Internet transceivers Implex.net has put atop Twin Cities skyscrapers, including Wells Fargo Place in downtown St. Paul and several in downtown Minneapolis. Presto! The van is Net-connected. All DeVaan has to do is plug in his Webcam and point it... In addition to serving as a roving eye, the van can provide high-speed wireless Internet access within a 1,500- to 2,000-foot radius."
Chris Steins
Blog post
November 1, 2004, 9am PST
An article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press features some interesting approaches to enhancing a city's WiFi infrastructure. (Via Slashdot)

"WazTempe, a Tempe, Ariz.-based wireless-Internet pro-vider that is turning the city into one big Wi-Fi hot spot, has come up with a clever way to plug gaps in its network: golf carts equipped as Wi-Fi repeaters. The Waz Mobile Units transmit in a roughly one-mile radius and can integrate with the rest of the city's wireless "mesh" infrastructure."
Abhijeet Chavan
Blog post
October 30, 2004, 8am PDT
Several colleagues have forwarded me this recent letter from CommunityViz, which suggests:

Sample 3-D image from CV
"The software will in the near future be made available at little or no cost. (This offering will include Scenario 360 v2.1 and later, and SiteBuilder 3D for CommunityViz.) We are in the process of exploring the logistics of this exciting new mode of distribution."
Chris Steins
Blog post
October 28, 2004, 10am PDT
I was interested to read inSetting sites on Section 508 about an accessibility tool built into Windows XP:

"There is a decent screen magnifier in Windows XP, which also includes a text-to-speech tool called Narrator. It is pretty limited and is only available in English, but it provides a useful tool in Notepad, Wordpad, Control Panel and Internet Explorer, as well as the Windows desktop and Windows setup."

You can launch Narrator easily by pressing the Windows logo key and the U key, which also lets you start and stop the tool.
Chris Steins
Blog post
October 27, 2004, 4pm PDT
Remember when interactive television was dead? Time-Warner's Full Service Television experiment in Florida in the 1990s was a failure -- people hated it. Something about how the set-top boxes sucked, I think. So the concept went away, fading like CD-ROMs before the onslaught of the Internet.

At least, that seems to be what the New York Times remembers. Here's the part I'm talking about:
The Microsoft Home is more like a concept car, a design to dream about. Microsoft has imagined a dream house before: 10 years ago the company unveiled its first such demonstration home. At the time Microsoft's designers were intrigued by interactive television, a technology that never became the next big thing.
Blog post
October 18, 2004, 1pm PDT
Okay, I get it. Cities are getting wireless data connectivity. Here's CNN.com on the subject. Salient bits:
One of only a handful of cities in the nation to try it, Chaska -- just southwest of Minneapolis -- plans to have most of the city's 15 square miles Wi-Fi operational by the end of October.

"We firmly believe that the Internet is going to be just as much a part of everybody's future as the telephone or electricity is and we want to make sure that everybody has equal access to it," says Bradley Mayer, Chaska's information systems manager. "We wanted to ensure there was some sort of broadband activity that could be affordable by our residents."
Blog post
October 14, 2004, 2pm PDT
A financial program running on Linux is helping Stanislaw County, CA, save money [Modesto Bee].

"The Linux server now in use by the county helps manage its finances...employees who track the county's money log on to the server through a Web browser...Because there's only one program for the server instead of hundreds of copies for each computer at employees' workstations, the county also saves money on software licensing..."
Abhijeet Chavan
Blog post
October 14, 2004, 1pm PDT

The Internet can be a great way to supplement public meetings and get more people to participate in registering their opinions and preferences for planning alternatives. (Of course there are equity issues but that's a discussion for another piece.)

The image below is an example of a question asked on the online visual preference survey used by Midtown Columbus Georgia. Results from the survey, gathered both in public meetings and online, are being used as a foundation for guiding the future planning recommendations for Midtown Columbus.

Ken Snyder
October 11, 2004, 12am PDT
The challenge for architecture is to be more firmly rooted in the real patterns of human activity. Michael Mehaffy reports on the 'New Science, New Architecture' Conference in London.
Michael Mehaffy
Blog post
October 8, 2004, 5pm PDT
To understand why cities matter in the presidential election, take a look at this map I cribbed from USA Today's coverage of the 2000 campaign, and how it ended:

2000 election by county

Red = Republican, George W. Bush.
Blue = Democrat, Al Gore

See where the blue is? Cities. One of the ways the Democrats lost the last election was in what's called GOTV -- Get Out The Vote. They weren't able to get enough urbanites (which is an electoral euphemism for minorities and the poor) to the polls.
Blog post
October 8, 2004, 5pm PDT
Just work with me on this. It has a point at the end.

Earlier this week, my dad -- former lefty activist, retired Los Angeles Unified School District technocrat -- sent me the following e-mail:
When I take Tucker [his English Setter] for a walk along the dirt path next to the country club, and back down the other side of the street, I see that folks leave their dog poop on the ground.  I made a couple of suggestions to the Tarzana Homeowners Assoc. and, now, have been invited to make a Dog Poop Presentation to the executive board of said organization.
I mention this to make you aware of what could happen to you when you get old.  I've gone from saving the world, to saving LAUSD to saving a few blocks from poop.  I know that all politics are local, but this is ridiculous.
October 4, 2004, 12am PDT
A comparison of American and Canadian cities demonstrates that sprawl in has less to do with the American Dream than with the influence the highway, oil and auto lobby has on US transportation policy.
Patrick Condon
Blog post
September 29, 2004, 12pm PDT

Many state and federal governments around the world are increasingly turning to open source software for e-government solutions. According to Sun Microsystems Inc. chairman Scott McNealy, a state and local government that bases an e-government portal on open source is building a "custom jalopy
Abhijeet Chavan
September 27, 2004, 12am PDT
Buying a home in a New Urbanist neighborhood in Eugene, Oregon becomes a practical lesson on the line separating academic discussions on New Urbanism and personal lifestyle choices for Professor Sriram Khé.
Sriram Khé
Blog post
September 24, 2004, 8am PDT
Screenshot of Second Life

Wired has a story about university professors about taking online education to a new level -- teaching classes in a 3-D virtual world. The virtual world in a "massively multiplayer " online game called Second Life includes a developed economy, neighborhoods and communities, all manner of vehicles and the ability to create nearly anything imaginable.
Abhijeet Chavan