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Tetris on the side of a skyscraper? Why not, it’s the future

What does it look like when one of Philadelphia’s most prominent skyscrapers becomes a giant Tetris game board?

It looks awesome, that’s what.


Photo by Bradley Maule for PhillySkyline.com.

Last Saturday, organizers for Philly Tech Week temporarily turned the 29-story Cira Centre into a huge game of Tetris. And it wasn’t just for looks. Actual people played actual games, with the whole city looking on.

Meanwhile, construction is wrapping up on the DC region’s new tallest skyscraper. Just sayin’.

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.
 
 
 

April 10th, 2014 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: fun



Fun on Friday: Play the Mini Metro game

Update: More tips & tricks are now listed at the bottom of this post! - 3.8.2014, 12:45 pm

Mini Metro is a fun browser game that simulates a transit network.

Stations representing different types of destinations pop up, and you have to connect them with metro lines that take passengers where they want to go.


Screencap of the game, with components labeled.

The game starts off easy. You get one square station icon, one triangle, and one circle. Connect them with a single transit line and you’re all set.

But after a few moments more stations start to pop up. You have a limited number of metro lines to work with, and each line only gets one train. So the more stations appear, the longer it takes for a train to traverse the line, and the more passengers build up.

Ideally you want each transit line to cross at least one of every station type, to minimize transfers, but that soon becomes impossible when different types of stations begin to appear, like crosses and gemstones.

The game ends when too many waiting passengers build up at a station. The highest score I’ve gotten is about 500, but most of my games end in the 300s or 400s.

I’ve noticed certain types of stations seem to represent certain types of land uses.

Squares are employment centers, like downtowns. You start off with only one square, and you have to get quite deep into the game before a 2nd appears.

Circles are the most common station type, so they probably represent residential areas.

Triangles are the 2nd most common. I think of them as shopping areas, but they could be schools or parks.

Other symbols are rare, usually only appear once, and represent specialty land uses. I think of them as hospitals, airports, or universities.

How high can you score?

More tips & tricks:

  • A hub and spoke layout works great in the early game, but once your score reaches about 350 you need to start moving to more of a grid.

  • 6 stations is about the maximum any one line can accommodate before it gets overcrowded.

  • You can pause the game by clicking on the clock.

  • At key points in the game, pause the game to delete-and-redraw entire lines, along more efficient routes. Key points are typically when you add your 5th line, 3rd tunnel, and when the 2nd square appears.

  • The order in which I usually use bonuses:
    1. Light blue line
    2. Longer/faster train
    3. Green line
    4. 3rd tunnel (sometimes sooner if the river is unfavorable)
    5. Bigger station
    6. Light rail (I’ve not seen this, but rumor says it appears next)

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.
 
 
 

March 7th, 2014 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: fun, transportation



Dupont Circle becomes a snow sculpture garden

There was no mass snowball fight in Dupont Circle yesterday. Instead, Washingtonians celebrated the snow day by filling Dupont with dozens of snowmen and other snow sculptures.

There were two Washington Monuments, a US Capitol, snowman Barack Obama (aka Snowbama), a woman giving birth, a sphinx, and more. Enjoy these photos.

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.
 
 
 

February 14th, 2014 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: fun, galleries, parks



Vancouver’s most joyful bike trail makes commuting fun

There’s a common misconception in some circles that bicycling is merely for recreation, as opposed to a legitimate transportation mode. Of course that’s wrong, cycling is often the most convenient way to get from point A to point B in a city. But why can’t transportation facilities be fun too?

According to Vancouver, they can.


Vancouver “Whoopdeedoo.” Photo by Paul Krueger on flickr.

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.
 
 
 

December 19th, 2013 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: bike, fun, transportation



Pictures of Sunday’s solar eclipse

When the sun rose over DC’s east horizon on Sunday morning, it was in the midst of a partial solar eclipse. The moon was passing directly between Earth and the sun, obscuring the sun as seen from Earth.

To see the event, I woke up early and set up my camera at the best easterly-facing view I could think of – the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria. Here’s what I saw:

Eclipse over Alexandria. Full set of 25 pictures is on flickr.

November 4th, 2013 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: environment, fun



The world’s craziest and coolest drawbridge

Lots of bridges around the world can be raised to let ships pass under, but not many look like this.

It’s the Slauerhoffbrug, of Leeuwarden, Netherlands, and it’s quite a sight. Here’s a video of it in action.


Slauerhoffbrug, aka the flying bridge of Leeuwarden, Netherlands.
Photo by Bert Kaufmann on flickr.

October 18th, 2013 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: boat, fun, roads/cars, transportation



Watch Arlington’s “Bikeswell”

Arlington produced a half-hour documentary about its bike planning efforts, and how it became one of the east coast’s best cycling towns. Give it a watch.

 
Left: Watch the movie (you’ll probably want to full-screen it).
Right: Nifty movie poster.

October 17th, 2013 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: bike, fun, transportation



The future of San Francisco transit, according to Star Trek

Take a look at this street scene from the recent Star Trek movie. It shows San Francisco in the year 2259.

Apparently in the universe of Star Trek, city streets will look pretty much the same 246 years in the future as they do today. Cars, a cable car, and a fancy articulated bus, all on a road with basically 20th Century lane markings. The pedestrian crossing and traffic signals are different, but it’s a wholly recognizable scene.


From Star Trek Into Darkness.

On the other hand, by the year 2372 things change quite a bit. These next 2 images are from the Star Trek: Voyager episode Non Sequitur, and show a street in San Francisco’s Mission District.

It’s a fully pedestrianized space, complete with a subway entrance to the fancy future Trans Francisco subway system. Very progressive overall.


From Star Trek Voyager.


From Star Trek Voyager.

October 11th, 2013 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: bus, fun, metrorail, transportation, urbandesign



Washington Post on the day I-66 first opened

Fun things hide in city planning office storage rooms. I recently stumbled upon this fascinating Washington Post special from the 1982 day I-66 opened.

My favorite part: “I-66 means that the days of the great highway wars are ending.” LOL.

The full story is online.


From December 22, 1982.

September 13th, 2013 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: fun, roads/cars, transportation



Get creeped out with Street View pictures of Midway Atoll

I absolutely love exploring the world with Google Street View. Oh sure, real life is infinitely better, but I can’t afford plane tickets to all the places I can get lost in with Street View.

Yesterday I discovered Street View covers Midway Atoll, of Battle of Midway fame. The island was used for decades by the US military but is now depopulated except for a few visits per year by researchers. But all the buildings are still there, not to mention about 440,000 albatross birds.

It’s fascinating, and a little creepy. Take a look.


Every black smudge you see in this picture is a 3-foot bird. And yes, that’s a bike path.


Downtown Midway, abandoned.


Ruins are everywhere, but the birds don’t mind.

July 19th, 2013 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: bike, fun, history, preservation, transportation



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