March, 2014 Archives

This is community theatre that melts your face. The Baltimore Rock Opera Society (which calls itself the BROS) brought their signature production Gründlehämmer to the Torpedo Factory Art Center, giving Old Town Alexandria glitz, mayhem, and some rowdy drama.

Mark Miller as a royal guard
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Four Metro stations are scheduled to get solicitations for redevelopment this year, as reported by the Washington Business Journal. I used my Metro Places app to take a look at how much transit-oriented development they currently have. The app works by querying the Google Places API to discover businesses within a certain range of Metro stations. I used it to search for gyms, banks, clothing stores, and grocery stores within a radius of 1,000 meters, as a sample of what might be available. The four stations are Forest Glen, West Hyattsville, Braddock Road, and Largo Town Center.

Forest Glen and West Hyattsville are somewhat near each other, albeit in separate counties. The heat map below shows Forest Glen has less nearby development then its neighboring stations. West Hyattsville appears on the edge of an area shared with Prince George’s Plaza, but could benefit from places closer to the station.

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If you manage a meetup group, here’s a fun way to display the profile photos of everyone who attends one of your events.

Enter your event ID into my Meetup Explorer app, and it’ll display the profile photo of everyone who RSVP’d “yes” to your event. People without profile photos are not included. To get your event ID, just look at the URL of the event’s page. It’s the big number at the end of the URL.

The program works by using the Meetup API. I use the RSVPs call to get a list of all “yes” RSVPs, and the Groups call to get the name of the event and the name of the group hosting it. » Continue Reading…

A Photo Album of Meetup RSVPs

kpHere’s a simple web app that uses data from the Kaiser Permanente API. Interchange by Kaiser Permanente offers a Location API with four functions you can query. I built the KP Explorer using the Get KP Facilities List call.

I had originally planned a more robust program to demo for the Transportation + Health meetup that was co-sponsored by Mobility Lab and Kaiser Permanente, but couldn’t get the API working in time, so this app doesn’t do much more than demonstrate that the API works.

The program uses geolocation to find your location, or you can enter a place in the search field, or just pan and zoom to a new location and hit “find facilities.” If you’re in one of the 9 states (plus DC) served by KP, you’ll see their facilities. » Continue Reading…

Metro PlacesWhat would the Washington, DC region look like if you never went further than 500 meters from a Metro station? Well, there’s an app for that! I was inspired by a car-free friend who pointed out the difficulty of finding a Metro-accessible dentist when moving to DC. So, let’s put the Internet to work to make that simpler.

I used the Places Library of the Google Maps API to discover dentist locations for a geographic region. To connect to Metro stations, I submitted a separate search for each Metro station. Of course, “dentist” is just one option for a type of place. The API has 96 Supported Place Types, from airport to zoo.

Try the Metro Places app to discover businesses near your favorite Metro station. To make your own search, select the type of place from the drop-down list, which station you want and how many stops you’re willing to travel (I assume no one wants to transfer), and how far you’re willing to walk from the end-station. You can display the results as a collection of icons or a heat map, or both. The icons returned are part of the Places API, such as a giant tooth for dentists, and a martini glass for bars. » Continue Reading…

Washington via WMATA

Should the bikeshare industry adopt an open data standard? As bikesharing spreads to more cities, having a common method for accessing and analyzing data will become more important. We know that transit systems work best when agencies concentrate on their core mission. Transit agencies are not in the information technology business; all they should do is release their data to let third parties build apps that let passengers use the systems.

To use open data, programmers need to know: Where is the data? What are the files called? Which fields are available? What are the fields called?

Bikesharing systems should adopt the standard of having a “data” page which can be found by appending “data” immediately after the main URL. This is what many U.S. government web sites are doing (like,,, etc.) It would be awesome to have consistent URLs like and » Continue Reading…