Archived entries for Chicago

Meter Beaters

Meter Beaters is an app to find free parking spots in Chicago. With so much freely available civic data you would imagine that there would be plenty of apps like this, but the city keeps it’s parking data close to the chest. I know because I tried to build something like this 6 years ago.

Meter Beaters

I wanted an app to show me where residential parking zones were so I could spot the non-zoned streets and find free parking. This is particularly difficult in neighborhoods such as Lincoln Park. I tried filing a FOIA request to get the data, but they were only willing to provide it as 100s of pages of printouts. I build a web scraper in Processing to walk through a GIS database and query each street section through their parking zone look-up form, but then they installed a CAPTHA on the form. I asked the Chief Data Officer of the city in the nicest way I could, but nothing. After a while, I just gave up.

All I can assume is that the city does not want to provide easily accessible access to this data, so I’m glad to see that someone has taken up the challenge. The app isn’t perfect, I have critiques of the interaction model and I’ve found flaws in the data. They have a way to submit corrections though, so hopefully it will improve over time.

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc

I just returned from watching Joan of Arc perform a live original score to the 1928 film The Passion of Joan of Arc as part of the opening night of CIMM Fest. It was obvious that they spent serious time with the film to craft such a seamless and moving soundtrack. I’ve seen Joan of Arc play many times but this show went above and beyond, especially impressive since it was a one-time performance. I can only hope someone was recording it so people can mash it up with a Netflix copy of the film anytime they want.

Winter Again

“blue chicago moon swings like a blade above the midwest’s heart”
— Songs: Ohia

The arrival of snow and cold affirms for me that Chicago is my home. I love walking around the neighborhood this time of year, the quiet and the closeness of winter. I walk past all the same places I travelled by when they were bathed in summer light and warmth, now cold and dark and empty. There is a humanness to the seasons in Chicago. A place without cycles is a place without reality; there is nothing more honest and relatable than change you can not avoid and need to learn to live with. It will be summer again, and then winter again.



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