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Projects

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Projects

Over the years I've developed a number of web applications and blogs reflecting current interests and whims of the times. Most all of them are zero-budgeted and zero-marketed meaning I did them for fun or for learning, or with the idea that I'd build a prototype and maybe someone else would come along and offer to fully develop them. Today the world is moving away from the desktop web so it's unclear what I'll output in the future since mobile development involves a much steeper learning curve.


FULL LIST BELOW  

Web Applications

Battle Blog / See it

Battle Blog is a blogging engine with built-in democratic content controls. I initially conceived it as a gaming system anticipating that people would become addicted to voting comments or articles up and down and even off the system in a fate dubbd "Battle Blasted". Later success of websites like Digg and Reddit proved me right. Battle Blog enjoyed a flurry of distribution activity when I released the first .asp versions (the original was .cfm, Cold Fusion) but it was always rather only "half-done" and in time people centralized their attention around products like Wordpress. Recent to this writing I ultimately discontinued public distribution and continued to use it for personal publishing projects and websites only.

Check that ID / See it

This started as a service to help vet Craigslist ads. A person would enter a Craigslist ad ID and people who had experience in interacting with the ad's poster could detail their stories, perhaps thwarting a scam or other kind of waste of time. For some reason that initial idea fell apart, or, I just saw a broader use for the service and migrated to what it is today, a system to track stuff. The idea is that you apply an ID to something, one you literally make up, enter it into the database, then allow updates to that record over the lifetime of that "thing" - whatever it is. If it's a box that gets passed from owner to owner over the decades, why, a person could look it up by the ID and see where it's been. I have all kinds of ideas how this might be useful but have no developed the service to the extent it might work on massive scale.

Headline Prophet / See it

Next to Battle Blog, this is my favorite. Headline Profit is an online registry where anyone can predict the news in headline news format. Users submit a headline they think people will one day see for real, being sure to add their reasoning in the same submission. Other users can then either "concur" or "doubt" the poster. The system includes a feature for others to call out online evidence that the poster was "right". When that happens it's called a "fulfillment" and the original poster gains points. The idea is that in time there will be people who are always right, and at least one person who has the highest number of fulfillments. The latter is referred to as the true Headline Prophet for which it is written in sacred scrolls, there can only be one.

I really believe in the long term development of this website despite my pained attempts at working with it. One day I'll white paper it and outsource the coding so that it is all done "right". In the meantime a reasonable facsimile of the concept is up and running as a subreddit.

Linkhugger / See it

This is a remarkably useful project website of mine that allows people to exchange web links they find with other individuals, presumably significant others like wives or husbands, or small groups. It's better than e-mailing or IMing links because with one click from the browser a link of interest is stored for casual recovery later. The system provides a method for determining when someone has viewed a link and ways to dispose of the link when done, or to remark on it.

Linkhugger Promotional Spot - these Fiver girls did a great job!

LinkHugger was developed with the idea in mind that people will one day turn away from the "public web" and recoil back to an "interpersonal" one where links to people are established on the basis of real trust in who they are. I suspect that is the sweet spot of online interaction that will eventually become the dominant scale.

The project needs to be developed further, and definetely needs to be ported to today's mobile environment, but when utilized to the max this is the best interpersonal link sharing system on the desktop web today.

NYC People Fusion / See it

It's called "NYC" People Fusion because this prototype project caters to the New York City online community. I started the project while living there in 2013 or so. However, when I complete it, the engine will be easily portable to other cities or to organizations seeking their own iteration of it.

NYC People Fusion is a sort of bulletin board similar to the ones you'd find via direct dialup in the 80s and 90s. It allows people to build straightforward no-graphics online communities from which people are free to circulate their own bulletins and interact with each other, all while remaining relatively anonymous. Most community systems today are abandoning the anonymous user state, but this system holds out favoring controls for moderation rather than forcing over identification. The vision is to see a lot of little "people fusion" systems like this being used by journalists and other activists who need a way to communicate under non-Googleable usernames, away from the general public. The original web had plenty of places like this at one time. The system doesn't itself protect ultimate identity, but it protects user identity from other users and said search engine indexing.

Publishing Projects

Tampa Rail / See it

Tampa Rail is a blog I started in the mid-90s watching and reporting on the development of urban transit rail solutions for Tampa City and the surrounding region. Its primary output was, at one time, commentary and exhibitions championing Tampa's progress toward a light rail (or any fixed guideway) system, while at the same time, criticizing and challenging opponents. Some of its history is laid out here.

Today it's a much tamer version of itself, not that you'd ever guess how flamboyant the site was given that most of the old content from those hyperbolic days has been taken offline. My not actually living in Tampa blew away much of the blog's energy after 2008 even though I keep it up and running as a static website today hoping to provide insight to newcomers and inspire future movements. There is still a blog component to it but it is rarely updated.

The blog was well-known in the community and I believe influential. In 1996 it was formally acknowledged by Creative Loafing (a weekly pop cultural circular then) as an editor's best pick for blogs in the Tampa/St. Petersburg markets.

As its producer the site also drew me in as a local "stock enthusiast" on the subject of light rail from time to time whenever a local media producer needed one for a story. Humorously, I reflect, I was called to rate the architectual models of light rail stations built by archictectual students at the local community college. As more enthusiast looking forward to the day I could ride light rail in Tampa, not commentate on its structural facts, I turned down a request to play judge a second time when the first time painted a clear picture of my having no idea what the hell I was talking about.

Tech for the City / See it

This blog, up but dormant, is an effort to explore the evolving technologies involved with both living in and running cities. I launched it while living in New York City figuring I was in just the right place to explore such questions. However, with work and other stresses in play for most of that time, I never got out far or wide enough to mine for new content. My interest deflated and eventually I left the city, but I cling to the hope that I can still kick-start it one day by becoming re-inspired. Until that day, I artificially keep up old articles by manipulating the expiration dates on each entry, just for show.

Wilkes-Barre Rail / See it

Similar to my blog Tampa Rail, Wilkes-Barre Rail exists to track and advocate the development of urban rail in my hometown of Wilkes-Barre, PA. It focuses on three projects: A light rail system connecting with at least Scranton; a New York City to Wilkes-Barre commuter rail system (specifically the Lackawanna Cutoff Project); and more fantastically, a high speed rail system connecting New York City to Wilkes-Barre, which nobody but me is actually talking about.

The blog also delves into the political and material development of the city which I feel is essential to the successful pursuit of rail, and, bluntly, because I feel Wilkes-Barre needs it. The city of just 41,000 is currently straining from the lack of a frothy economy, an influx of criminals from the big cities (likely thanks to home values which have fallen out), and an overall dismal aura helped in no small part by high profile corruption stories like the Kids for Cash scandal. I believe rallying around a lofty project like rail transit to New York City is one way to turn the course, crazy as the concept may otherwise be.

As is the case with Tampa Rail I am not currently living in Wilkes-Barre but nonetheless keep tight tabs on its formal and social media output online, ready to chime in from afar on a moment's notice.

Retired Efforts

Tampa Media Bypass

This was a blog effort in which I systematically collected (what I believed at the time to be public domain) press releases from various agencies around Tampa Florida, re-posted them as individual entries, and then allowed visitors to comment on them. Hence it was meant to be a way for the public to directly remark on typically one-way communication streams from government sources that do not typically include "comments sections" for their releases the same way newspapers often do.

It wasn't immediately apparent at the time but this was a wildly successful blog; it garnered thousands of hits after several months. People who Googled friends and family members who wound up on a Sherriff's arrest report, for example, found it a vent to rant through. This was before Facebook.

After just a month I lost interest in keeping up with the daily spill of releases (at one point I was using my lunch hour to cull, convert, and post) before logs began to reflect the onslaught of interest. That data showed up months later and convinced me it was such a great idea that I wanted to perfect it and re-launch the concept, although I never actually did. In reflecting on the energy of traffic years later, I attempted New York City Press-Free which aimed to duplicate the process as well as promote what I called "ground media", video and pictures taken by ordinary people of breaking news events around the city. Again I simply lost interest in the project when confronted with the actual work of generating fresh content.

Perp Turkey

I have a weird fascination with consumer-level technology's impact on crime. Things like burglar alarms or GPS for example. Simple technology like that dramatically re-routes the usual flow of criminal behavior and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. While I certainly have no science to back it up I feel the new constraints of technology on individuals to act criminally is one factor in the rising violence between the public and police. Criminals are less capable of doing what they want without immediate detection or confrontation and these confrontations lead to more dramatic outcomes. A burglar, for example, needs to move faster because of a burglar alarm going off, and even if he gets away, he then has to worry about webcam footage leading directly to a warrant. And his whereabouts will be uncovered quickly because something he stole has an embedded GPS tracker. A confrontation is much more likely than it might have been in the 60s when a burglary might just wind up an unssolved piece of paper in a file cabinet rather than an armed warrant team knocking on the door of someone desperate enough to be burglarizing.

What does all this have to do with something called Perp Turkey? This blog documented cases of criminals brought down by the consumer technology, parsing out their apprehension to illustrate how cameras, GPS, cell phones, etc., all played in the process. A "Perp Turkey" was someone who committed a crime but even if were not in immediate custody, was nonetheless identified by virtue of such technology. An example entry might be webcam footage of someone burglarizing a home.

There were a few entries before it fell dormant due to lack of energy and an efficient blogging process, but I still enjoy thinking about the ideas it existed for.

Turkeys Gone Wrong

This blog was to be a pictorial gallery of turkeys that were burnt, crushed, demolished, drowned, or outright mangled in any other number of ways, while being prepped for Thanksgiving Dinner (or, really, any holiday). The idea came about when one of our own turkeys came out so bad I wanted to share it with the world. I bought the domain, set up the blog, posted a few entries, then ... nothing. By next Thanksgiving the blog was dead. Still a fun lark though.

Yard Bark

I attempted to operate a number of concepts under this title, porting the code base along all the while.

Its absolute original point was to provide a way for people to post information about their Yard Sales. Not just the place, time and location, but also photographs of their spreads so that people could "shop" the yard sale before actually showing up.

That vision never saw a day of code before I decided to try a different direction. I noticed that places like Craigslist and Ebay were really unsuited for selling or unloading small things worth, say, 25 bucks. People just didn't go through the overhead hassle to try and transact things like that on those services. What people seemed to be actually doing in those cases was dealing with people somehow hyperlocal to them by virtue of work or home address. You have a lamp you really can't get more than $10 for, so you take it to work and find a co-worker who buys it. That's much easier than posting a Craigslist ad and coordinating with a complete stranger who you then have to meet - all for just 10 bucks.

That iteration of Yard Bark tried to address that problem by building up a database of "places" such as office buildings and zip codes which are places people identified with in real time in their own existing ongoing lives. If you worked in the Acme building, for example, you could post about your $10 lamp where someone who also worked in the Acme building could find it and offer to buy. When the deal was struck, you only need throw the lamp in the car and take it out while hanging out at the water cooler. Not only is that safer, it beats inviting strangers to your home or driving for miles out, for such little money.

As cool as that concept struck me, even that isn't how Yard Bark landed. At some point I stalled in the development of the part of the project that allowed people to add a place on their own (as opposed to myself who would have to manually catalog every building in every city Yard Bark would have been applicable in). Eager to "release" the product, I opted to launch as a conventional classified ad system that wound up looking like any other. It worked but as it wasn't different, and as I never went back to fixing the problem of "place population", nobody found cause to use "just another" low-traffic classified ad system. During one of my many hosting ports I simply left it behind for lack of traffic by not restoring it. However, I still own the domain and one day might.

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