Jawbone Up in cities

Jawbone looked at the data from Up devices from June 1, 2013 through June 1, 2014, organized by city.

The movement and sleep patterns of a city tell an amazing story about its culture and people. How active is a city? When do they go to bed on average, and how much do they sleep? How stark are the differences between weekends and weekdays? What events brought people together and significantly impacted the health of a city? Each pattern forms a distinct “thumbprint” for the city, the unique way its citizens live their lives. To an untrained eye, these images may just look like the abstract brush strokes of a Rothko painting. To a data scientist, however, these graphics richly detail the routines — and occasional abnormalities — of city denizens.

The main problem with data like this is that it represents a subset of a subset of people in the city: people who wear fitness trackers, and of those, people who wear a Jawbone Up. This is not a very representative sampling of people. By definition, people who wear fitness trackers are probably more concerned with their health and as such would, on average, go to bed earlier, get up earlier, and be more active than non-fitness tracker wearing people. The only data this really shows us is how Jawbone Up users in one city compare to Jawbone Up users in another city.

Quality beers in ballparks

The Washington Post takes a look at the quality of beers in each of America’s ballparks.

Counting single-day offerings, the Cincinnati Reds’ selection of distinct beers went from 42 to more than 130 – the most in Major League Baseball, according to a Washington Post analysis. Craft sales increased even more dramatically, by 363 percent. The biggest-selling beer at the Brewery District is still Bud Light – not exactly a craft product – but stadium officials found that rather than taking away from existing beer sales, craft consumers were actually creating a new category.

The Mariners are number one, while my Yankees are dead last.

Comprehensive guide to New York City hot dogs

Eater brings us a look at the NYC hot dog, both a history and a look at the unique varieties in NYC.

Sausages and bread are among the oldest forms of processed food. German immigrants to New York City served frankfurters and wieners with milk rolls and sauerkraut from pushcarts on the Bowery from at least the 1860s onwards. The recipes for these sausages dated back hundreds of years, with Frankfurt, Germany and Vienna, Austria vying for ownership of the “original” hot dog. But, just as with pizza, an old world food form was transformed and given greater significance in America. In 1871, German butcher Charles Feltman opened a hot dog stand in Coney Island, then an up-market destination for the affluent. It established Coney Island as ground zero for the hot dog.

Don’t read this until after you’ve eaten. Trust me.

Several years ago I received an iHome iD91 alarm clock radio as a gift, and it changed my alarm clock life forever. When it died, I had a heck of a time finding a suitable replacement, mostly because the features I was spoiled with, but now considered a necessity, didn’t seem to exist in any one alarm clock radio on the market.

“Josh, why wouldn’t you just get another iHome iD91 or another iHome device?” you ask. Well, the iD91 died in such a way that it made me want to look at, if not give preference to, other brands. Everything on the iD91 worked great except that the upper 50% of the digital display just stopped working. In this day and age, how does half a digital display stop working? It was never dropped or hit or abused; I live in NYC and we really don’t have power issues, and it’s connected to a surge protector anyway. LCDs don’t just go bad on their own…they’re either caused by physical trauma or by power issues, and in this case it would be an internal issue caused by bad manufacturing…possibly slightly less voltage than necessary, amplified over time.

So, I figured I would shop around, see the wealth of different options I had, and choose the best for my needs.

Boy was I wrong!

Continue reading…

Cutaway Leica M3 is beautiful

Here are some beautiful pics of a cutaway Leica M3. This is pretty much the definition of camera porn.

It’s up for auction, if you can afford it.

The first Range Rover is for sale

The Range Rover with chassis number 1 is available at auction. It has been restored, but for some collector, it has historical value.

It is agreed that Michael Forlong – The producer of the two Range Rover promotion films “A car for all reasons” and “Sahara South” was to become the first private owner of “No 1″ on 8th April 1971. Before taking possession, the car was re-sprayed into the production colour of Bahama Gold, and the textured dash was fitted. A private registration number WGA 71 was allocated to #001 in November 1975 when the vehicle passed to Mr. W.G Ansell of Belvedere, SE London. Before disposing of the Range Rover in 1979 to the next owner (a farmer in Kent) the WGA 71 number was replaced with an age related number EGU 16H, and so the identity of this important icon was inadvertently disguised for a further 6 years.

It gets about 14.4 mpg. The Hummer H2 only got about 9 or 10 mpg.


August 11, 2014 at 8:00pm • Zero comments

Updating my post from over two years ago, I now present my regularly listened to podcasts in order of how quickly I listen to new episodes, from “as soon as they are released even if I’m in the middle of another podcasts’ episode” to “when there’s nothing else to listen to”.

  • 99% Invisible (web site, iTunes) — This weekly podcast about design is amazing because of how interesting it presents its subjects. If I told you that a story about the design of fire escapes could be amazing, you’d laugh at me, right? Well, you’d be wrong.
  • Slate’s Hang Up and Listen (web site, iTunes) — This weekly sports podcast is able to take its time and delve into the more interesting sports stories from the past week, usually with interviews from reporters that cover that sport. It’s my Monday evening commute standard.
  • NPR: Planet Money (web siteiTunes) — A semiweekly, 15-30 minutes about money and economics presented to a layman. Its short length and timely subjects make it a must listen.
  • WNYC’s Radiolab (web siteiTunes) — Somewhat similar to Stuff You Should Know in that it takes a topic and explains it; includes interviews and other narrators as well as music, TV, & movie sounds bites that are part of the story. It’s very well put together.
  • Freakonomics (web siteiTunes) – From the authors of the books of the same name, this podcast uses general economic theories to take a fresh look at everyday life.
  • The Memory Palace (web site, iTunes) — While this podcast does not have a regular publication schedule, when it pops up in my podcasting app, I usually listen to it almost immediately. It presents short stories from the past, and like 99% Invisible, they are always interesting.
  • Slate’s Lexicon Valley (web site, iTunes) — This podcast usually takes a word that is somewhat relevant to current events and explores its origins and how its usage has evolved over time. It’s like the 99% Invisible of language.
  • Kumail Nanjiani’s The X-Files Files (web site, iTunes) — Kumail Nanjiani and a guest talk about the more interesting episodes from The X-Files. It really helps to watch the episodes of the TV show before listening to this one. I used to love The X-Files, and now I’m watching them again because of this podcast.
  • Fat Man on Batman (web site, iTunes) — Kevin Smith interviews guests related to all things Batman. It’s Kevin Smith and Batman…how could I not like this?
  • On the Media (web site, iTunes) — A weekly hour long look at how the media covers our world. From someone who does not watch news on TV because of how it has evolved into ridiculous entertainment, I find it quite interesting.
  • Stuff You Should Know (web siteiTunes) — If you loved David Macaulay’s The Way Things Work, you’ll enjoy this podcast. Basically, two guys, Josh and Chuck, have an unscripted conversation about how different topics work. There’s one topic per show and each show is usually between 20 and about 40 minutes long. They aren’t experts, and they don’t pretend to be, but they do a good job of taking a topic and presenting it. It’s The Discovery Channel for your ears.

New words added to Scrabble dictionary

5,000 new words have been added to Merriam-Webster’s Official Scrabble Players Dictionary.

This ain’t the English you learned in grammar school, but it’s Scrabble for the Internet age.

“These are words that have become part of the culture, part of the language and part of the dictionary,” says Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster.

Among the other new pop culture words added are “chillax” and “frenemy,” now recognized as common parts of our speech. Foreign words such as “qigong” — a Chinese exercise routine — and “qajaq,” which is the Inuit spelling for “kayak,” were also added to the updated version of book, available Aug. 11.

I hate “chillax” as a word, however, it’s 19 points and, if played right, it could be a big point getter.

Abolish tipping?

Brian Palmer at Slate makes a fairly convincing argument to abolish tipping in America.

Tipping does not incentivize hard work. The factors that correlate most strongly to tip size have virtually nothing to do with the quality of service. Credit card tips are larger than cash tips. Large parties with sizable bills leave disproportionately small tips. We tip servers more if they tell us their namestouch us on the arm, or draw smiley faces on our checks. Quality of service has a laughably small impact on tip size. According to a 2000 study, a customer’s assessment of the server’s work only accounts for between 1 and 5 percent of the variation in tips at a restaurant.

He makes several good points, however, most foreigners I’ve spoken with absolutely love the service they get while in American restaurants, and they believe that tipping is a huge part of that.

Items lost in New York’s transit system

Mona Chalabi at FiveThirtyEight takes a look at the items lost in New York’s transit system.

The MTA’s lost and found system is vast. It has to be — whether by bus, train or subway, millions of people travel on the network each day, and they leave a bunch of stuff behind. The MTA publishes its lost and found inventory (spotted by Tim Wallace), so we’re able to explore the items on its shelves. The data is updated hourly, so bear in mind that some of the stuffed animals mentioned in the chart below might be claimed, and some extra umbrellas might have been handed in. As of 3 p.m. Monday, there were 168,478 items in the system.

Who leaves behind an air conditioner? Twice.