Posts Tagged ‘NYC’

Subway relics

Old, dirty, and one-third of them don’t work

Subway Payphone

NYC yum yum

NYC yum yum is my web app for the NYC Big Apps 2.0 competition.

NYC yum yum

It’s a very simple app for quickly finding restaurants by cusine + location. For each resturaunt, it shows the restaurant inspection grade, to give you an idea of how clean and safe the food at the establishment is, and also pulls the Yelp star rating to give you and idea of how good the food is.

NYC yum yum front page

NYC yum yum results

Search by cuisine and location (specifically, neighborhood) I felt was really important. Searching by name is, of course, much simpler, but when it comes to finding a new restaurant your likely not to know the name beforehand. Even if you have been to the restaurant before, unless it’s a regular spot for you, you’d likely still has issues remembering the name given the number of places to eat in New York City.

That said, this was far more difficult than I anticipated and I’m sad to say the current implementation is far from ideal. Here’s why:

  • The raw data set from the NYC Data Mine contains no geographic coordinates (latitude, longitude), so to get an accurate location, the address must be geocoded. There are a number of services to do this, but they’re all pretty limited. Google’s Geocoding API was my first choice, but I was wary of the terms of use,

    … the Geocoding API may only be used in conjunction with a Google map; geocoding results without displaying them on a map is prohibited. For complete details on allowed usage, consult the Maps API Terms of Service License Restrictions.

    My second choice was geocoder.us, but it had issues geocoding locations outside of Manhattan. So I put aside the idea of doing a geocode.
  • My next attempt was to do queries by neighborhood. Surely, it would be easy to translate between neighborhoods and zip codes, right?! Nope. All I could find were commercial services (e.g. maponics) that did it, and I wasn’t willing to go down that road.
  • My final attempt and what’s implemented, is grabbing the zip code from the the marker location on the google map. This sorta works. The problem is that the area covered by a zip code doesn’t necessarily match up exactly with a neighborhood’s boundary. So a restaurant that may not be shown in the search if it falls into an adjacent zip code.

My big disappointment is how restrictive and inaccessible all of this geographic data is, and the lack of such data severely compromises the effectiveness of the search.

Another, somewhat major issue with the raw data set is how restaurants are categorized. I’m noticing tons of establishments are simply identified with the cuisine type of “American.” For example, B Cup is a café in the East Village. If I was looking for it, I would search for “Café/Coffee/Tea” not “American.”

NYC yum yum

In fact, I think “American” is way to generic to describe any sort of cuisine.

In any case, NYC yum yum still works pretty well and does hit of the target of being able to find good, clean places to eat at, quick and easily. I’ll likely be working on improvements to it in the near future.

Edit: mixed up geocoding and reverse geocoding

No love for Brooklyn and Queens from the NYPL

The New York Public Library is hosting the New York StartUP! 2011 Business Plan Competition, unfortunately not all of us in the city can participate:

In order to enter the competition officially, entrants must be 18 years of age or older, live in Manhattan, The Bronx, or Staten Island as a legal resident or United States citizen, and wish to start a business in one of those boroughs.

Tough luck for those of us in Queens or Brooklyn.

… and really, Staten Island?!

Bloomberg on the Ground Zero mosque

The Wall Street Journal’s transcription of a speech given by mayor Michael Bloomberg at Governors Island where he addresses the construction plans for a mosque and Islamic center near Ground Zero. There’s a lot of nonsense about God’s love and mercy, but more importantly:

The government has no right whatsoever to deny that right [to construct the mosque and community center] – and if it were tried, the courts would almost certainly strike it down as a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Whatever you may think of the proposed mosque and community center, lost in the heat of the debate has been a basic question – should government attempt to deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property based on their particular religion? That may happen in other countries, but we should never allow it to happen here. This nation was founded on the principle that the government must never choose between religions, or favor one over another.

This shouldn’t be a remarkable statement; unfortunately, in our current political climate, it is.

HDR photo of New York City at night

I came across this amazing photo while looking at the wikipedia entry on high dynamic range imaging.

HDR image of New York City at night

Photo by Paulo Barcellos Jr. Check out his photostream, many of his other works are equally impressive.