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Dealble – Set Keyword Alerts on Daily Deal Sites

19 Aug


Dealble is a little hack I put together to solve a specific problem I have having: I get way too many emails from daily deal sites like Groupon, Living Social, BuyWithMe, etc..

Opening up your inbox and discovering a coupon for something that you’ve wanted or are interested in is great, but it happens rarely. Because most of the deal sites out there use categories to target their customers, people wind up getting deals that they might not necessarily be interested in.

Because I once bought a street fighting class, that does not mean that I am interested in all types of classes.


Dealble lets you type in words or phrases that you know you want and then alert you when deals that contain those words or phrases pop up. You can set alerts for things like “movie tickets”, “skydiving” or even “50% off”. You don’t need to constantly check your inbox and wade through all of the junk, hoping to find a gem.

Currently Dealble is using the Yipit api to aggregate the content from over 482 daily deal sites across a variety of cities. Users can set multiple keyword alerts and the system pings the Yipit database every 4 hours so you can be sure that you’ll never miss a deal’s deadline.

Try it out and let me know what you think!

Social Bicycles

18 Aug

The Social Bicycle System from Ryan Rzepecki on Vimeo.

Lately I’ve been riding my bike to work. While NYC has already done a lot in the short time I’ve been riding to make the city more bicycle friendly, it still certainly has a long way to go. One sure-fire way to make the city more bike friendly is to increase the numbers of cyclists on the streets and to increase awareness about city cycling.

The Social Bicycle System (SoBi) is a public bike share system that uses GPS, mobile communications, and a secure lock that can attach to almost any bicycle and lock to any regular bike rack.


SoBi takes its inspiration from the bicycle shares that have grown in popularity in Europe. What makes SoBi unique is the technology involved. Each SoBi bicycle is equipped with a built-in bicycle lock, a GPS tracking device, and is synced with a server that users can checkin in via their smart phones.


The system does not require separate infrastructure and can be deployed at approximately one-third the cost of existing systems. Administrators will be given powerful tools to manage demand and map patterns of use. Users will enjoy door-to-door transportation and an interactive cycling experience that can track miles traveled, calories burned, CO2 emissions offset, and connections to other Social Cyclists.

They will be doing a trail launch in New York City this fall.

Vote for them in the Pepsi Good Idea Challenge

LAIKA – Dynamic Font

5 May

 LAIKA - Dynamic Font

 LAIKA - Dynamic Font

LAIKA is an Ikea-sounding, interactive art project that attempts to create a font that reacts to it’s surroundings. LAIKA can seamlessly use the whole spectrum of its cuts. A font that is able to move between its extremes in real time. An interactive font that is able to respond to its surroundings. A font that questions deadlocked dogmas and throws up completely new design questions, and thus has the potential to revolutionize the understanding of digital typography.

LAIKA from Michael Flückiger on Vimeo.

From the site:
LAIKA requires a whole new, dynamic understanding of typography. Why should a typeface be rigidly set, if it is not going to be printed? In a dynamic medium, why shouldn’t the form and the character of the typeface be understood dynamically as well? Why shouldn’t its forms change, transform, and respond to circumstances?

Obviously this isn’t of much practical use, but it is an interesting concept – that type and information can be aware of its context and adjust itself accordingly. Pretty neat. Check out the full site here:

My Trip to the Antarctic Peninsula

13 Apr

Antarctica Peninsula 2010

Late last February I boarded a plane at JFK airport headed for South America. It was the 2nd time I had done so in the past month with the same intention. I was 22 when I graduated college and to reward myself I used up a large portion of my savings to take a trip to Australia. For 2 months my brother and I backpacked up and down the east coast of Oz. It was one of the best experiences pf my life and solidified my love for travel. When I got back from that trip I was determined to travel around the world and step foot on all 7 continents.

Antarctica Peninsula 2010

This last trip of mine was one of the most memorable and difficult. After months of diligently squirreling away money, running around town for equipment making arrangements with airlines, travel agents and insurance companies, I was finally ready to go. I was to fly from New York City to Atlanta, then to Buenos Aires, Argentina then to Ushuaia, Argentina where I would then board a retro-fitted Danish Research Vessel and sail for 2-3 days until we reached the Antarctic continent.

Then a rain-storm hit and my plane never even left the NYC airport. The next day the boat in Ushuaia departed and I was still a hemisphere away.

I was crestfallen and going back to work the next day, after gloating to all of my coworkers, was mildly embarrassing to say the least. One month later, after hours spent on the phone and lots and lots of faxes, I was back on a plane with ticket in hand and renewed determination.

This time around the travel went off without a hitch. I stretched out my travel time so I actually got to spend some time in each city I went to; I got to tango in Buenos Aires and dine on parilla in Ushuaia. After about 4 days of on and off traveling it was time to board the ship, a 1976 retrofitted Danish Research vessel The Plancius. For two days we sailed through the notoriously rough Drake Passage until we reached the first islands of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Antarctica Peninsula 2010

Antarctica Peninsula 2010

There were 3 different groups of staff onboard the ship. There was the hotel staff, the great folks who were in charge of turning down our rooms, serving the meals and the very important position of manning the ship’s fully stocked bar.

Then there was the ship crew, career Russian sailors who didn’t speak a word of English. They spend half of the year sailing around the Antarctica and the other half around the Arctic Circle, they also all looked like they were extras in Eastern Promises. They were exceptionally friendly and after sharing a bottle of vodka I smuggled onboard, I believe I made some lifelong friends.

The last group, the expedition crew, were a team of scientists and doctors who would lead our trips ashore and point out things of interest. They also filled up the time during our lackluster days of sailing by giving collegiate level lectures about what we were about to see. They gave these lectures all while we were aboard a ship that was tilting 45 degrees in some of the roughest waters in the world, with many of us drinking wine and wearing prescription-strength seasickness patches.

Antarctica Peninsula 2010

For the next six days we sailed around different islands and harbours, making landings twice per day. We saw current and abandoned scientific research stations, penguin colonies and arctic seals. We camped out under the stairs (inside 3 different sleeping bags placed ontop of an air mattress), went bum sledding, built a snowman and some of us reluctantly took a dip in the water. The places we were going were so remote that the wildlife was unaccustomed to humans. Curious penguins would walk right up to you and poke around your boots, young seals would swim right up to to Zodiac boats and sniff around and flocks of birds would just fly about – following us around. They were as interested in us as we were in them.

Antarctica Peninsula 2010

This trip was by far one of the most impactful I’ve ever taken. Every time we landed ashore I was be taken aback by the grandiose and unforgiving terrain, I would also be hit by the revelation that only a small percentage of Earth’s population would ever experience what I was feeling. It’s hard to put into words what I felt, so it has been difficult for me to describe my experience to others. I mostly belittle the experience by saying that it was very cold and that I saw lots of ice, penguins and seals. I’m extremely glad that I went and it was worth all of the money and stress I went through to get there. It seems like a more substantial achievement because it did not go as planned. However, I’m not sure if it is a trip I would recommend to others. I went because it was part of a greater goal of mine. Antarctica is not relaxing or nice – two qualities that usually define a vacation. But I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything.

The best as I can offer is to tell you to look at the photos I took, in full resolution, and imagine that it is very, very cold while doing so.

Looking Into the Past

25 Feb

Looking Into The Past

Looking Into the Past is a Flickr pool that lays two picture of the same location, but from different times, over each other. It’s a fun and creative way to see how scenery has changed over time. You can see how structures have been built, modified and demolished.

Looking Into The Past

Looking Into The Past

Jasonepowel, the group admin, has this note about the group:
This group is for images you make where some part of a modern day scene is overlapped by an old photograph. For example, you hold up an old photo so that you can see its place in the modern context.

Check out the whole Flickr pool here:

Artwork of Simon Schubert

19 Jan

Simon Schubert

Simon Schubert

Somewhere in the course of my internet travels I wandered across the work of a German artist Simon Schubert. Schubert is a mixed media artist whose paper-fold artwork originally caught my eye but whose work covers a wide range of installations and sculptures. Trying to find more information about him is difficult as his website is, understandably, entirely in German.

Simon Schubert

Simon Schubert

Google delivers this confusing translation of his biography:

Simon Schubert decorated rooms of paper, to entire living space from wrapping paper. Simon Schubert decorated rooms of paper, to entire living space from wrapping paper. Complete with a deranged, indicated in his form only a few residents and real light is everything in these rooms made of folded paper jacket on a hanger on the wall, a bed, a picture. Complete with a deranged, indicated in his form only a few residents and real light is everything in these rooms made of folded paper jacket on a hanger on the wall, a bed, a picture.
In a subtle shift in the real Schubert questioned levels of transience, disappearance and vulnerability and translates them into a physically perceivable reality. In a subtle shift in the real Schubert questioned levels of transience, disappearance and vulnerability, and translates them into a physically perceivable reality. Beyond this, he negotiated the idea of a consciousness in the crisis of modernity has become brittle consistency of identity and the world. Beyond this, he negotiated the idea of a consciousness in the crisis of modernity has become brittle consistency of identity and the world.

It about a portrait of Samuel Beckett showed the Schubert, also on paper as a vehicle by filigreed foldings drew. It about a portrait of Samuel Beckett showed the Schubert, in other words on paper as a vehicle by filigreed Foldings drew. In the folding takes place some form of physical registration, which also threatened the image carrier and forms. In the folding takes place some form of physical registration, which also threatened the image carrier and forms.

In almost imperceptible interplay of positive and Negativfaltung created here, depending on the viewing direction, a vivid portrait that the next moment, however, can again become invisible. In almost imperceptible interplay of positive and Negativfaltung created here, depending on the viewing direction, a vivid portrait that the next moment, however, can again become invisible. This portrait, shifting between two-and three-dimensional, drawing and relief, object and image is characterized mainly by the reduction of design elements. Again and again, it seems to tip over into nothing, it shows variable in the change of light or the viewer’s position. This portrait, shifting between two-and three-dimensionality, drawing and relief object and image is characterized mainly by the reduction of design elements. Again and again, it seems to tip over into nothing, it shows variable changes in the light or the viewer’s position.

If you have the time, click around and explore his site and beautiful work:

Graffiti Markup Language

8 Jan

GML = Graffiti Markup Language from Evan Roth on Vimeo.

Awhile back my good friend @kapuaonalani send me a link to Evan Roth’s latest project, Graffiti Analysis.

Graffiti Analysis is an extensive ongoing study into the motion of graffiti. Custom software designed for graffiti writers creates visualizations of the often unseen motion involved in the creation of a tag. Motion data is recorded, analyzed and archived in a free and open database.

That last sentence is really the most interesting. A new format has been created to record and store the motion data. This new format is called Graffiti Markup Language (GML) and has so far been used for some other projects by Roth and his pals over at the Graffiti Research Lab. The largest repository of this data is at (that’s the hex code for “black”book). GML is the results of collaborative efforts between computer hackers and graffiti writers.

Graffiti writers are invited to capture and share their own tags, and computer programmers are invited to create new applications and visualizations of the resulting data. The project aims to bring together two seemingly disparate communities that share an interest hacking systems, whether found in code or in the city.

Graffiti Analysis iPhone App Screenshot
Graffiti Analysis iPhone App Screenshot
Graffiti Analysis iPhone App Screenshot

Developers can use GML to prove the visiualization data for their own tools. They can also capture their own data and share it with the rest of the community. So far some really cool applications have been made including EyeWriter, DustTag, L.A.S.E.R. and Graffiti Analysis. Each of the them capturing their movements from a different medium (eyes, finger, laser pointer and a marker, respectively).

Movements captured from my iPhone and uploaded to the Blackbook database.

GML captures x,y and time data and can be drawn using Javascript (HTML 5), Flash, Processing, C++ (OpenFrameworks). For more technical information and the API documentation, you can go here.

Graffiti Over Time

8 Dec

Wooster Collective is always a huge source of inspiration for me. While my personal tastes tend to steer away from high concept street art, there are always gems to be found. One such gem is this post about the evolution of graffiti on a wall outside the home of Serge Gainsbourg.

Serge Gainsbourg – animation des graffitis sur 5 ans du mur rue de Verneuil from Arnaud Jourdain on Vimeo.

Using After Effects and Lightwave 3D, animator Arnaud Jourdain composited thousands of photos taken over a 5 year period into a beautiful animation showcasing the evolution of the art on the wall over time.

Graffiti Archeology

The moment I saw this piece I was reminded of another similar undertaking, Graffiti Archeology, a project of Cassidy Curtis that also attempts to capture the evolution of graffiti. Curtis describes his project as:

Graffiti Archaeology is a project devoted to the study of graffiti-covered walls as they change over time. The core of the project is a timelapse collage, made of photos of graffiti taken at the same location by many different photographers over a span of several years. The photos were taken in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and other cities, over a timespan from the late 1990′s to the present.

While both of these projects share a similar concept, they are unique in execution and purpose. Jourdain’s execution is his artistic interpretation of the wall. His camera movements and angles do not showcase each individual art piece in the way that Curtis does. Graffiti Archeology is more of an academic approach to cataloging the art pieces, though his shapes and cropping are very graffiti inspired (especially for the 90s!). I think that using motion, rather than clicking through images creates a more seamless experience of time lapse, but the dramatic camera movements adds personality to the artwork that might not have been there previously.

Both projects are fantastic ideas and are definitely worth checking out.

Google Voicemail Review

10 Nov

I was one of the first users signed up for Google Voice. Google voice was generating buzz as the newest player in the very tight telephony market. It can manage multiple phone numbers, multiple voicemails, and offers lots of enhanced features including voicemail transcription, call recording, call screening and free SMS.

Signing up gave me a new phone number. After having the same phone number for over 8 years, switching my number from carrier to carrier as I graduated from college and moved, now Google expected me to give it up and use their randomly generated number. At that point I decided that while interesting, the features of Google Voice just didn’t warrant a phone number switch for me and I abandoned my Google Voice account.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when Google announced that their Voice service will now work with your existing phone number. The functionality is different depending on whether you use your own phone number or theirs. If you use your own the advertised features are:

Google voicemail: voicemail like email
Voicemail transcription: read what your voicemail says
Custom greetings: vary voicemail greetings by caller
International calling: low cost calls to the world
Notifications: read voicemail messages via email or SMS
Share voicemails: forward, embed, or download voicemails

So I registered my 8 year old number and quickly set up the service on my iPhone. I was most excited for the Voicemail transcription and custom greetings. I could greet my coworkers clients with a professional “Sorry I am unavailable to take your call..” and my friends with something more appropriate, and if I missed anyone’s call I would get a text message letting my screen my voicemails.

I have been looking for this type of functionality for some time now and even tried similar services before, with little success. Given Google’s track record I had high hopes. While I am aware that the Google Voice app had been rejected, with over 50% of Smart phone traffic being iPhones, I thought that the experience would have been much better.

In all actuality, I’m not sure if the phone-support is the problem. My Voice account was easily able to import all of my phone contacts, and I receive the SMS transcriptions fine. The problem is that the transcription service is so bad, that it forces me to listen to every voicemail to comprehend what is being communicate.

Random, nonsense transcription of a voicemail I received.

What I liked about the regular iPhone voicemail was that it downloaded the messages and I could listen to them anytime. If I received a voicemail while I was in the gym, I could see the ‘new voicemail’ notification and listen to them from anywhere (like underground in a subway on my way home).

The Google Voice behaves in a similar way. Depending on how you have your preferences setup, a SMS or email transcription will be sent to you whenever someone leaves you a message. The frustrating part is that this transcription is mostly nonsense and does nothing more than serve as a notification that you received a new message. It then has a link that that you may click on to hear the original. The bad part here is that to listen to the message you have to connect, download and then play and audio file from Google’s server. Not the quickest or easiest thing to do on AT&T notoriously spotty 3G network. The first time I tried this, my phone could not even recognize the audio format of the message.

The custom voicemail message works great, and I haven’t really attempted to try any of the other features like international calling. Really, I am using Google Voice to enhance my voicemail experience, and thus far it’s only adding an extra step (or more) before I can listen to my message. I’m aware that voice to text transcription is not an easy thing to do, and I have confidence that Google will eventually get it right.

But, until then, I’m going back to standard iPhone voicemail and clients and drinking buddies alike will both be getting the same away message.

Jetset JohnnyJuice

22 Oct

The past month I have been getting a lot of use out of my luggage. In late August I took advantage of a Jet Blue Airways limited time offer, 30 days of unlimited flights to all of their destinations for $599. A fantastic deal of course, but best if you have the luxury of time to exercise its full potential.

Not wanting to pass up such a great deal I set-out to see how much use I could get out of it. The biggest challenge I faced was maximizing the time that I did have. Because of my busy work schedule I was limited to only traveling on weekends, with a hard-fought travel day here and there.

In the past 30 days I have visited 3 countries (including the US), roughly 7 different cities and a whole bunch of friends. During these trips I climbed a mountain, saw one of the 7 wonders of the world, ate lots of fresh seafood, took a surfing lesson, swam in an ocean, a cave, a swimming pool and watched a record holding lumberjack perform his trade. Most importantly though, I got to catch up with many old friends and loved ones.

Jet Blue planes are also my new favorite. While Virgin has the better entertainment package, there is absolutely nothing that beats more legroom for my 6-foot-plus frame. No amount of free snacks or movies (of which Jet Blue also has) will make me more comfortable during a coast to coast flight. I also found out that, in order, my seating preference goes:

1) Window
2) Aisle
3) Center

I also found getting the center seat, on a 6 hour flight late Sunday night from the west to east coast (losing 3 hours in the process) is an experience where words do no justice. Traveling solely on the weekends was not ideal, we all can’t be as fortunate as Dustin Curtis, but having a certain urgency to my trips did create a bit of romantic appeal.

I only packed one small duffle and as the airports started to blend together my nights became more meaningful. If you were in Seattle at midnight, what would you see? If you could have only two meals in Los Angeles, where would you eat? These kinds of questions became adventures and I was eager for each one.

Overall it was a fantastic trip and next time Jet Blue runs a deal like this again, I’m cashing in all of my travel & sick days and calling all of my friends.