Archive for July, 2006

Mapchester Launched for Futuresonic!

Mapchester has launched :). Grew out of discussion at the Open Plan Workshop, into a OpenStreetMap Data Gathering Weekend, and flash hacking effort based on an open sourced, time navigatable worldKit. Drew says…

The inaugural Mapping Weekend brought together a wide array of
different people, transforming them into map hackers and citizen
cartographers: people who walked / cycled / drove / bussed /
trained / skated the city streets recording GPS tracks and road
names. These tracks were then uploaded to the OpenStreetMap database
and edited into coherent map features.

From this data, a Manchester map has been created for Futuresonic
2006 – presented as a test-case for producing a usable, functioning
city map and festival guide via this open source, collaborative
approach.

Though still in its infancy, at an experimental stage with many
glitches, the Mapchester online map includes the functionality that
can be seen in commercial digital maps, and also features calendring
tools. Not only static features such as venues and landmarks appear,
but also time-based events. By scrolling across the time bar at the
bottom of the screen, club nights, live music gigs, exhibition
openings and other festival happenings appear and disappear across
the city.

The cumulative result is a picture of a weekend in the life of
Manchester, a map of events taking place across the city, a snapshot
of its musical and creative culture.

This first version is designed to be “good enough” to function as a
festival city guide. Please be aware that this beta version may have
some errors, and is not appropriate for all uses. People using this
map do so at their own risk.

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Lez Side Story

Hedia Maron and Faye Driscoll have finally released their dance drama online, Lez Side Story. “Female gangs battle for turf when a forbidden love gets in the way”.

View it now. Just cause the co-director is my sister doesn’t mean this is a biased recommendation .. it’s “cutting-edge” stuff.

Hope more of her movies make it online at her new production home, Sweatpants Productions, in construction, but featuring the next big wave in design .. right justified images .. of sweatpants.

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Just in case..

…you get the idea I am simply already bitter and sarcastic about this place, here is one of our stereotypically tropical sunsets from a weekend in Cabarete.

Cabarete Sunset

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World Cup de Boca Chica

The German Embassy sponsored a viewing of the World Cup final at the Hilton all inclusive in Boca Chica. Boca Chica is the nearest beach to the capital, and not all that attractive, with a shipping port just west and a breakwater creating a tepid lagoon not unlike a large underclorenated public swimming pool surrounded by bars. Since CDN, the main broadcaster for the Dominican Republic, did their broadcasting from there, filming the commentary from the room (GOOOOOOALLL), I guess they hosted the whole country.

There were loads of bigwigs there apparently, making several overly long speeches, such as the Minister of Tourism profusely thanking Hilton for hosting the event and I guess for developing numerous impenetrable all-inclusive resorts around the country that are the sum total of most tourists DR experience (and cutting off prime beaches and basically entire economies from the local people). Thanks Hilton, Love, Your corrupt local politician.

We were seated at the “Scandanavian table”, and got loads of cameras gawking. I guess we were a bit more excited that the politicos quietly enduring the overtime. So maybe on TV you saw my big head among the big wigs.

The best reason to be there was sauerkraut. And mustard and grilled meats. Dominican food can be very good, pollo y arroz for sure, but is very very inconsistent in quality. Now hungering for German food in the Caribbean, estoy loco.

But as soon as the party was over, so was the privelage. Trying to get just a glass of water at the beach front bar, we were denied. No all-inclusive resort bracelet, no aqua.

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Loteria Nacional

Last week I was asked to help out with a quick Perl script for the Dominican Republic Lottery.

Unlike in the States and Europe, the Loteria Nacional is a semi-privatised affair. The sales of tickets and awarding of prizes is open to any private company that registers with the government. The government picks the actual numbers every night on TV at 8pm. And collects taxes from those companies. Interesting way to distribute the problem. The government insures some legitimacy to picking the numbers (rather than leaving open all kinds of abuse with completely private illegal Numbers Games) and gets some income (which goes who knows where, but whatever) all without having to organize anything substantial (extra big bonus here), like setting up a secure network of lottery purchase machines. So besides the actual sellers, there’s a cottage industry of companies selling computing systems to sell lottery tickets.

The loteria is typically three numbers. You can win something by even hitting one number. Any small or large amount can be gambled, to appeal to the dreams of the many poor here. As a result, the more sophisticated lottery systems allow the merchant to monitor which numbers are being picked in real time. If one number is being oversubscribed, he can stop sales on that one number. Too many 33s this afternoon, block 33 and sorry, you can have 32 if you like, thanks.

One particular company installs linux machines at sales locations, and collects numbers and determines prizes on a central server. All in COBOL-85 of course. The telecommunication here being what it is (something to do with luck) the machine only phones home occasionally. And this opens up a potential abuse. After the numbers are announced at 8pm, someone on location disconnects the network and shuts down their linux box, resets the time in BIOS, and once the box has come up again buys some winning numbers in the past. Restart and reset the BIOS to the present time, and connect the network. Wow you won!

So the company has now installed queriable USB devices which only keep the current, unmodifiable time. And the Perl script I helped hack together .. simply compares the time on the linux box with the usb device, and if its off by more than a few seconds, it kills processes and complains loudly.

Hooray for Perl, making sure people lose their money fairly.

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Futuresonic

Futuresonic is looking awesome. Technology-Social-Mapping-Art Conference(s), workshops to build strange devices, and mucho Music. I’ve had some connection to Mapchester, kickstarted at the Open PLAN Workshop and I’m looking forward to the result.

From the Dominican Republic, it’s unlikely I’m going to attend, too bad. Now, longing to go to Manchester from the Caribbean, a first maybe .. you should go if you can.

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