Proof that Mitch Hedberg never rode BART

March 7, 2014


“An escalator can never break, it can only become stairs. You will never see an escalator out of order sign, just ‘escalator temporarily stairs — sorry for the convenience.’”

– Mitch Hedberg

While he may have taken Muni Metro, it’s clear that Hedberg never rode BART.

E-Team investigates what’s causing innocent bystander deaths

March 6, 2014

Dan Nayez, Chief Investigative Reporter

SAN FRANCISCO (KGG) — In San Francisco, simply stepping near bullets in mid-air can be deadly. Five people have been killed standing around San Francisco this year. It is a tragedy unfolding at an alarming rate. The E-Team wanted to see what is causing the spike in innocent bystander deaths. We spent months on the streets investigating the problem.

We’ve investigated the role that gangsters and police play in shootings. Now, we show you the mistakes people make while they stand around that put them at risk for serious injuries.

The San Francisco Department of Health estimates two to three people a day are hit by bullets, many of them are injured… others die.

The E-Team wanted to see what was happening, so we took our cameras to the streets. We watched again and again, as people crossed mid-bullet, raced against drive-bys, pushed strollers out into landmines, crossed gang territory with their heads down on their smartphones or just walked out into explosions in progress without looking for shrapnel at all.

We saw Kane Wagner nearly get hit by a bullet. He admitted he wasn’t looking, “Yeah I know, in the city it’s pretty much you keep your heads up and go straight.”

Veterinarian Kris Boller said, “I can admit that have been texting and walking. Then I look up and I feel like an idiot because I almost get hit by machine gun fire.”

Surveillance video obtained by ABC7 News shows just how fast it can happen. It was taken a couple weeks ago. A man walks out onto Van Ness Avenue into oncoming gunfire. It was the last time he was seen alive.

Commander Mike Alice heads up the San Francisco Police Department’s efforts to keep people safe. He said, “Of those bystanders who were killed last year, a third of them were identified as being the cause.”

In the last seven years, 120 people have died and more than 5,600 have been involved in collisions mostly with 20 mm rounds.

“Our people definitely have to take a greater stake in their own safety,” said Alice.

The department is cracking down on people who fire their guns too fast and innocent bystanders who cross in front of machine gun fire. In fact, they’ve issued 43 percent more tickets this January over last.

The city health department is looking for long term solutions. It used police department data to track the most dangerous schools and libraries.

Perhaps not surprising, the most dangerous neighborhoods for bystanders are also the city’s busiest in terms of weapon activity. Most of the worst are downtown on stretches like 6th Street, South of Market and Geary in the Tenderloin.

“Six percent of our city parks contribute to 60 percent of where our severe and fatal injuries happen,” said Margaret Warner of the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

She said an analysis of those accidents also sheds light on who is generally at fault. “Two thirds of the time, people firing the weapons are assessed to be at fault,” said Warner.

The city will be investing $17 million over the next five years to improve safety conditions for bystanders. It includes shortening the walking distances and slowing the bullets down at corners. The city just finished such a project on Cesar Chavez Street.

“We’re all bystanders,” reminded Erica Smith. She is with Bystanders SF, a not-getting-shot-at advocacy group. She believes street improvements will help reduce bullet-related injuries and deaths.

“We often point fingers and I don’t think it is helpful to point fingers. We are educating people and we also need to focus on the things that we know work. We know that street improvements work, so that’s the main thing we need to spend taxpayer dollars on,” added Smith.

But even in those areas designed to be safer, our cameras watched as innocent bystanders continued to make potentially dangerous mistakes over and over again.

“At the end of the day it really is quite simple,” said Alice. “The second amendment is there to protect human life and people have to adhere to those rules of the country. Whether you’re firing a shotgun, a machine gun, or a grenade launcher. If the bullets are in the air, do not cross in front of them.”

We want to raise bystander awareness. Help us by joining the conversation on Facebook or if you see a shooter or bystander doing something dangerous tweet your pictures and video using the hashtag #didntlook. Maybe together we can encourage shooters, knife throwers and bystanders to look up and look out for each other!

Real estate sound effect

March 2, 2014


These days it’s hard to look at real estate listings in San Francisco without having that old timey car horn sound effect play in your head. As of today, your imagination is no long required!

With my new Real Estate FX userscript, local Redfin listings get a little YouTube video embedded in the page that autoplays the car horn sound effect.

All you need to do is install Greasemonkey for Firefox and load my script from the link above, or download the script and follow these instructions if you use Chrome.

Space reserved for mural

February 12, 2014

New mural

This space is reserved...

A mural recently appeared on the side of the former Andalu space at 16th and Guerrero. Apparently there’s more to come, as a large sign proclaims that the space is “reserved.” Stay tuned for further updates as the mural progresses.

UPDATE: A new piece of the mural has appeared.


UPDATE, part 2: Despite being aggressively tagged over in the past few days, the mural sprung back into action with more cutesy characters.


UPDATE, part 3: Well, that didn’t last.


Agile lunch breaks

January 24, 2014

<c:/lean bites. served agile>

Spotted the above banner at the g-food Lounge

The Product Owner added a new user story to the sprint backlog:

As a human, I would like to put food in my mouth to satiate myself at lunch time.
Success criteria:

  • Feeling of hunger eliminated for the afternoon
  • Delicious taste

“In addition,” the Product Owner added, “we’ll need to do a spike to investigate which food trucks are available today.”

Recruiting via sidewalk sandwich board

January 15, 2014


(Spotted on 2nd Street)


Are sandwich boards a good way to hire software engineers and high-level managers? Now to be fair, Craigslist isn’t the perfect way to hire people. But this feels a little informal.

Still, it’s fancier than a vinyl banner or a piece of cardboard stapled to a telephone pole. So there’s that.

Why San Francisco is not 7 by 7 miles

San Francisco is seven by seven miles. Everyone who lives here knows that. There’s even a magazine named after this fact.

Problem is, it’s not exactly true.

While the land area is about 49 square miles, as Wikipedia points out the total area is a much larger 232 square miles when you include water. Aside from a sizable portion of the bay and some of its islands, San Francisco also includes the Farallon Islands and surrounding water in the Pacific.

The city’s actual borders are easy to visualize using OpenStreetMap:

In case you’re wondering where OpenStreetMap is getting this data, it’s straight from the US Census TIGER data. The same information can be viewed on their website, albeit with some difficulty.

One more thing: (Spoiler alert!) Despite what many seem to think, SFO is not located in San Francisco; it’s entirely in San Mateo County. So if you’re ever wondering why the airport doesn’t have SF’s trademark urine, pot, and beer smell, that’s probably why.

Why it’s time to shut up about “wearable tech”

January 14, 2014

Google Co-Founder Sergey Brin Sports the New Google Glasses at Dinner in the Dark, a Benefit for the Foundation Fighting Blindness -- San Francisco, CA
(Photo by Thomas Hawk. License.)


Lately we’ve heard a lot about wearable tech. It’s said to be an exciting new product category that involves smartwatches, Google Glass, and perhaps fitness trackers.

But how many of the people talking about this future of wearable gadgets are wearing wristwatches, glasses, or contact lenses? And how many of them are wearing clothes and shoes made from fabrics that didn’t exist a century ago?

Wearable tech isn’t the future, it’s the present. Just because we don’t always think of elastic underwear or an old-timey wind up watch as “tech” doesn’t mean they aren’t.

So what are we really talking about when we discuss this seemingly inevitable rise of gadgets we strap to ourselves?

Essentially, we’re lumping together products designed to put on our bodies that are futuristic in the sense that they’re not very good yet. They all suffer from one or more of the following flaws:

  1. Uncomfortable
    Is Google Glass really something you’d be able to wear all day? And aren’t your fingers too fat for a smartwatch touch screen?
  2. Doesn’t work well
    Early digital watches required users to press a button to see the time. Existing analog watches didn’t have this problem. Most new products take years to get right.
  3. Not useful enough
    Microsoft launched a smartwatch called SPOT nearly ten years ago. It wasn’t on the market for long. Why? Most people at that time were buying cell phones that offered more features. It’s one thing to have an extra gadget (or ten) around the house that you don’t use, but the bar for usefulness is much higher if you have to put it on when you get up in the morning.
  4. Looks silly
    Would you wear a fake beard made out of colorful beads? While most people would have no problem wearing one on Halloween, on most days wearing something visible and unusual in public has a social stigma.

Point is, we need to stop talking about HUDs and newfangled computer watches as though they belong together. These are very different gadgets with discrete feature sets — and different problems to overcome.

Even as buzzwords go, wearable tech isn’t meaningful: it’s unnecessary, not descriptive, and even if it were it still wouldn’t be a product category in and of itself. It’s time to shut up about wearable tech and let this buzzword die.

Techie litter

December 4, 2013


You see this? This is what happens when hipster techies in the Mission litter their vintage textbook covers. Pick up after yourselves, people!

New NSA wiretaps being installed at AT&T

November 25, 2013


As you may recall, back in 2006 a whistleblower exposed that AT&T had allowed the NSA to wiretap their internet traffic from a secret room.

Today, a massive wrapped-up package was being moved into the same windowless building via crane. Hmmm… could this be the NSA’s latest way to spy on the cat GIFs you’re sending your friends? We may never find ou ** NO CARRIER **