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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Swiss Army Knife

Keying off an NYT article I read this week on cities releasing databases for creative public use, I was reminded of two instances in the past week where technology pulled together information in a way that was very useful:

I just got the iConcertCal app for my phone. It's not that complicated, but it's clever and saves a lot of time. It looks at the songs on your phone, and makes a list of the artists. Then it looks at your current location. Then it checks to see if any of those artists have shows planned in your area, neatly organizing them by date or venue. You can click through a link to purchase tickets. This solves my problem of not checking club websites often enough, only to find out about shows after they're sold out. For instance, now I know to get tickets for the RJD2 show on January 9. The database the app pulls from is pretty impressive -- it must be assembled through some sort of web scraping -- and includes shows at venues that I wouldn't know to check. (iConcertCal is also available as a free iTunes plugin.)

I've mentioned NextBus before. On Saturday night, I didn't want to ride my bike, so I took the bus to go out. Before NextBus was available, I might have ended up shelling out for a cab back home because it's hard to count on the bus at 2:30 AM. But I simply checked the NextBus times for the nearby stop when I was thinking about heading home, and saw when the next one was expected. I hung around the bar for a while longer, then walked out to the stop, where the bus appeared right on cue. Banishing the dilemma of standing forlornly at the curb and wondering if you should bite the bullet and hail a cab is a major achievement, in my book.

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