Reinvent payphones

Via this Habrahabr post (in Russian), I’ve learned about a Reinvent payphones initiative, which I think is pretty cool.  According to the article, the contract for provision of payphone services for the New York City expires in 2014.  So the mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has started the initiative to figure out what would be the best use for such a vast infrastructure (around 11,000 booths throughout the city).  Some of the ideas are really cool, for example:

  • Free WiFi hotspot
  • Power socket for recharging mobile devices
  • Weather and air quality censors
  • Location and other information (“you are here”, places around, etc)
  • Ad-supported free services

Here are some of the project suggestions: beacon, NYFi, smart sidewalks.  Also, read more here.

A photograph alive

Once in a while among all the noise on the Web, I find something special, a jewel.  Today is just such a day.  I came across a photography blog – From Me To You.  It is a very well presented, inspirational collection of images from a New York based photographer.  Nice webdesign, plenty of content – that was good enough already.  But when I saw some really awesome photographs brought alive as animated GIFs, I was stunned.  I mean, I saw plenty of animated GIFs in my life. But most of the time, they are used for illustrative purposes, more accessible short video clips, or funny comics.  Here, it’s a totally other story.  I think this is genius.

There are more and you absolutely have to check them out.  This is like … like … like bullet-time photography in the Matrix movie.

Update: Apparently, this is something called a cinemagraph.  You can see more of these at

Mark Malkoff offers New Yorkers a free cab drive. Or does he?

Long-time readers of this blog who are good with names will probably remember Mark Malkoff – a creative New York comedian. I’ve mentioned him once or twice before. And I’m going to do that again. You might like him or you might not, I don’t really care. I like what he does. He creates videos, which are inspirational and kind. He promotes humanity, compassion and optimism, but he does it in a very easy and entertaining way. This time around Mark was giving people free taxi rides. With a twist. Or twists. Some were probably not free, given what people had to do. Some were easy and free, but not as useful as you might think. Why am I telling you all these? I don’t know, I guess I just want you to watch this video.

International parking tickets in Washington D.C. and New York

Freakonomics has an interesting article on pending parking tickets for a number of embassies in Washington D.C. and New York.

In 2003, the state department issued dire warnings to embassies in New York and D.C. threatening to withhold foreign assistance if parking tickets were not paid.  So far though, it seems no foreign assistance has been withheld.

Here’s D.C.’s top offenders:

Russia – $27,200
Yemen – $24,600
Cameroon – $19,520
France – $19,520
Mauritania – $8,070

The Holy See, it’s worth noting, has only one outstanding ticket for $25.

In New York, the list of top offenders is a different set:

Egypt – $1,929,142
Kuwait – $1,266,901
Nigeria – $1,019,998
Indonesia – $692,200
Brazil – $608,733

So what do these countries have in common?  Oil wealth? Moxie? In 2006, Forbes Magazine hypothesized that it was the level of a country’s corruption (according to the Corruption Perception Index) that predicted the level of parking ticket delinquency, along with a country’s level of anti-American sentiment.

Ten years ago : 9/11

Today is a 10 year anniversary of 9/11.  Even though I haven’t been directly affected by the terrorist act 10 years ago, there were still indirect consequences for me and pretty much every other human being on this planet.  “War on terror”, military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, economy defaulting, beefed up security checks in each and every airport, more fear in people and more power in governments – the list can go on.


Big cities suck

I live in a small city of a small country.  And I love it here.  One of the big benefits that a lot of people get really used to is that everything is 10 minutes away.  It would take you only about 20 minutes to get from one side of the city to another.  Most of the people I know who live in big cities have to drive back and forth for hours every day.  Those of them lucky enough to live next to the place they work usually pay a lot of money to have it that way.

Why am I suddenly thinking of how bad big cities are? Because I just watched this YouTube video.

I understand that the guy chose the place himself and since he is young and alone it probably makes sense.  And I do understand that the video is more about living in tight spaces.  But I still keep thinking of how big cities screw people’s minds.  Not only it’s OK for someone in the modern age and developed country to live in a 78 square foot room (7 square meters), but also to pay $800 USD per month for it!  That’s just wrong.  Even if a lot of people are doing it and even if one gets used to it quickly, it still doesn’t make it right.


Mark Malkoff Gets Carried in New York City

I’ve posted here about Free Hugs campaign some time ago.  Today I came across an experiment with a smaller goal, but of the same sociality (if there is even such a word).  Mark Malkoff gets a free ride across Manhattan island on the backs of total strangers, proving once again that this world is full of good, fun, strong and crazy people.