Driver Swerves into Bike Lane and Narrowly Misses Biker

I’ve started video recording my commute in order to highlight the good, bad and the ugly that I come across.

The ride on Friday was beautiful. Humidity was down, the sun was out and many bikers were on the roads.

It also happened to be my first ride with a new camera that let me capture this moment where I was nearly sideswiped by a Lexus SUV driver with MD plates AZ13868 as I rode in the bike lane on Q Street NW.  Watch as the driver swerves without signaling into the bike lane.   From what I could tell, the reason for the swerve was that the driver didn’t want to slow down as he was approaching another driving turning left onto 7th street NW.

The lesson today for bikers: beware of the driver’s blind spot, especially at intersections.

The lesson for drivers: don’t swerve into the bike lane, especially without signaling.

 

How to Embed NextBus DC in iGoogle

NextBus launched last week for Washington, DC.  The system easily allows bookmarks for favorite routes but it doesn’t make it easy to take those bookmarks with you to your iGoogle home page.  This is how you setup a new iGoogle gadget to show the status of favorite routes.

  1. Go to wmata.nextbus.com.
  2. Select your route, destination and bus stop and then a blue box at at the bottom of the page shows when the next buses will arrive. This is the piece we want to take with us to our iGoogle page.
    42 Bus to Downtown
  3. Click “Update page address so that it can be bookmarked.”
  4. Using your mouse, Right Click and  choose View Page Source in Firefox or Chrome or View Source in Internet Explorer or Safari. This opens up a new window with the source code of the web page.
  5. The address needed is at the bottom of the page in an iframe tag.  The quickest way to find it is to press Ctrl + f to access the search function. Search for iframeThe iframe looks like this:
    <iframe id="mainFrame"
    src="http://wmata.nextbus.com/customStopSelector/fancyNewPredictionLayer.jsp?a=wmata&r=42&d=42_42_0&s=7018&ts=6905&cssFile=http://www.wmata.com/css/nextbus.css&bookmarkableURL=http://www.wmata.com/rider_tools/nextbus/arrivals.cfm#"
    width="80%" height="700" frameborder="0" scrolling="auto">
    </iframe>
  6. Copy the web site address from the beginning through to the last part before “&css” because this is the direct link to the NextBus page for this route.   In the example below the part to copy is marked in red text:
    http://wmata.nextbus.com/customStopSelector/fancyNewPredictionLayer.jsp?a=wmata&r=42&d=42_42_0&s=7018&ts=6905&cssFile=http://www.wmata.com/css/nextbus.css&bookmarkableURL=http://www.wmata.com/rider_tools/nextbus/arrivals.cfm#
  7. Login to your iGoogle page and click on Add Stuff on the top right part of the page.  Use the gadget named “iFrame” and then add it to your iGoogle page.
  8. Return to your iGoogle page, click the drop down menu for the new iFrame Gadget and finally choose Edit Settings.  Use the settings in this example below.  Most of the gadget’s default settings work but a few need to be changed:
    src: Paste the source link from step 6 here.
    Title: Give this gadget a name so it is easy to find on your iGoogle page.
    Height: The default height is unnecessarily tall.  Try a shorter gadget — 225 pixels worked well on my page.When you’re done click on Save.
    Setup iFrame Setup
  9. If everything worked your iGoogle page will now include a gadget showing your favorite bus route showing when the bus will actually arrive.  Here is a screen shot of my iGoogle page with the new gadget showing NextBus for the 42:
    Next Bus is on your iGoogle Page
  10. Here is this same bus route embedded on this web page to give you a live example:
  11. And if that isn’t cool enough — try going to your new iGoogle page on your iPhone or Android phone.  There you’ll find your new gadget in all of its mobile glory:
    iGoogle NextBus on iPhone

Let me know if you have any issues with this or know of an easier way to access your favorite routes quickly.

Thanks to heryandotus for sharing his custom NextBus page since it inspired me to figure out how to do the same thing for those who aren’t web monkeys [via].

Blogging: To Do or Not To Do?

It had already been a quiet six months on my blog when I read Paul Boutin’s story in the front of Wired magazine saying that people writing blogs should stop it already.  He says that nobody is going to noice your blog amidst the millions and that your friends will get your updates on web sites like Facebook, Flickr or Twitter.

Writing a weblog today isn’t the bright idea it was four years ago. The blogosphere, once a freshwater oasis of folksy self-expression and clever thought, has been flooded by a tsunami of paid bilge. Cut-rate journalists and underground marketing campaigns now drown out the authentic voices of amateur wordsmiths. It’s almost impossible to get noticed, except by hecklers. And why bother? The time it takes to craft sharp, witty blog prose is better spent expressing yourself on Flickr, Facebook, or Twitter.   

 His ideas about why blogging is wasting time struck me and it felt freeing to allow myself to imagine ending the blog project and pull that plug.  Had I not been reading the story in bed I may have gotten up and sent the pixels that make up this web site off into oblivion.  The next morning it was time for breakfast and going to work so there wasn’t time to kill the blog.  Rather than acting on my impulse, I waited long enough that I finally came across Andrew Sullivan’s essay Why I Blog in The Atlantic and I may get back into it.   I re-read the essay tonight and his description of what blogging is and how it is so different for writers to be so exposed and honest is what stands out:

You have to express yourself now, while your emotions roil, while your temper flares, while your humor lasts. You can try to hide yourself from real scrutiny, and the exposure it demands, but it’s hard. And that’s what makes blogging as a form stand out: it is rich in personality. The faux intimacy of the Web experience, the closeness of the e-mail and the instant message, seeps through. You feel as if you know bloggers as they go through their lives, experience the same things you are experiencing, and share the moment.      

   It is this intimacy and immediate expression that is so fun to read and also to create.  I want to show you about how exciting it is to be out on the street the night of the presidental election.   I want to show you pictures of the mountains of dishes that I get to wash in our tiny kitchen.  I want to explore how to live in a city studio apartment as a newly married couple.  I want to show you interesting photographs of friends in the neighborhood.  I want to talk about interesting ideas raised in some of my favorite publications.  And I want to do it all freely and happily.Even if I enjoy reading blogs immensely I’m going to make an effort to share a little more.  Hopefully it’ll be fun for all of us.

Get Good Prices on Holiday Travel

Buy Now Travel on FarecastWith jet fuel prices as high as they are, shopping for airplane tickets to visit the Melancon family this winter has been frustrating.  Since we started looking in October the prices have been out of reach and I was wondering if I could ever afford the trip.  Finally, this weekend the prices dropped and we made a purchase today.   I was tracking prices with Farecast and as you can see from the fare history chart, now is a perfect time to buy!

We’re looking forward to seeing family and friends in December! 

Wanted: a Digital Piano for the Apartment

digital piano

I learned in December that I still love playing the piano.   I hadn’t played in years but the many feet of snow outside inspired me to sit in the warm basement and remember how to play.  Since then I’ve been thinking more about it and recently a few piano playing friends pointed me in this direction for buying a digital piano:

  • Pianos need all 88 keys.
  • Pianos need to make beautiful music and must handle 32 notes polyphony.
  • Pianos need weighted keys.

I’ve started to narrow my search for the brands and models that I want to try.  If you have any extra digital pianos around the house you no longer play or if you have recommendations (and I know family members and friends who play are reading this) please let me know.