As of January 1, 2016, Gapers Block has ceased publication. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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TODAY

Monday, October 23

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Merge

Here We See a Pattern

A database of police misconduct complaints went live today, allowing journalists and the public to research bad cops and connections between them over time. WBEZ tells the story of the fight to make this public. One of the first discoveries from the data is that while blacks are more likely to file misconduct complaints, those filed by whites are more likely to be upheld.

Cool House!

Explore interesting buildings throughout the city on Chicago Architecture Data.

Dive into the Collection

Chicago Collections is a new consortium of libraries, museums, schools and institutions dedicated to preserving and sharing Chicagoland's history and culture. Explore the archives online.

That's a Wrap

ChicagoWearsCondoms.com. Thankfully, it's much less NSFW than you'd think.

No More FedEx & UPS Slips

Doorman, a service that acts as a middleman to make sure packages arrive at your door when you're actually home (as late as midnight!), launched in Chicago this week.

Community Becomes Public

The Community Media Workshop is now Public Narrative -- but its mission remains connecting and educating nonprofits and journalists.

Get Your Motor Running

Moto Guild is a new collective workshop where anyone can work on their motorcycle or scooter, take classes and connect with other riders.

How to Go Back to the Future

While hover boards are still on their way, Jack Silverstein writes about the lessons he learned from Back to the Future II, including the inspiration for penning letters to his great-grandchildren.

Diverse Writing

Writers of Color is a national resource to help eliminate the excuse "I don't know enough writers of color" in the media. The Chicago list is already pretty robust.

Living in 3D

Are you a maker of industrial 3D objects or would you like to be? If so, and if you live on the north side, then you're likely to be thrilled by the opening of the Chicago Industrial Arts & Design Center. Their grand opening is Monday, and they'll be expanding to fully serve people who work with wood, metal, casting, and digital fabrication. I got a sneak peek a few weeks ago and it seems very promising.

Events for the Discerning Mind

If Gapers Block's Slowdown event calendar isn't enough for you, maybe you'd be interested in IntelligentEvent, a calendar of intellectually stimulating events.

In the Wake of Death

Life Matters Media is an online resource for end-of-life planning, founded by WGN-TV reporter Randi Belisomo and Northwestern oncologist Dr. Mary Mulcahy, inspired by the 2010 passing of Belisomo's husband, Carlos Hernandez Gomez.

GTFOutside

CHIWTHR is a weather "app" in plain English for people who don't care about numbers. Follow @chiwthr.

Find Refuge

Refuge Restrooms is a crowdsourced site that "seeks to provide safe restroom access for transgender, intersex, and gender nonconforming individuals." It replaces Safe2Pee, which shut down last month.

Blue Bin Shaming

Buildings with more than five residential units are required to recycle according to city ordinance. My Building Doesn't Recycle is a place to anonymously report yours doesn't.

Help Hungry Pets in Need

Add Friendship Pet Pantry to the list of pet food pantries in Chicago -- and consider going to their benefit party Friday night.

The Things We Leave Behind

Chicago Dibs shares photos of the giant stuffed animals, baby strollers, and other things Chicagoans are using to claim shoveled-out parking spots.

Check Before You Rent

The City published its "Problem Landlords List" of property owners who repeatedly violate housing rules and fail to provide basic services to tenants.

Haven't You Always Wanted a Monkey?

For future reference, Chicago magazine rounds up some local animals you can rent by the hour.

Architectural Treasures Map

Chicago Architecture Data features descriptions of architectural styles found in Chicago and locations of where you can see them in person.

Undeck the Halls

Start the new year off right by recycling that old Christmas tree instead of sending it to a landfill.

To Serve Webpages and Protect

The Chicago Police Department unveiled a redesigned website yesterday, with expanded online crime reporting, a cold case database and more.

WWW Ewwww

With all this rain and flooding, you can check if raw sewage is, in fact, currently being spilled into the Chicago River with just a click. Check istheresewageinthechicagoriver.com for all the icky, clickable reality, based on data from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

Face Your Future

Catch a glimpse of your future self and find out how long you're expected to live on Face My Age, a site developed in part by a UIC professor that uses facial recognition software to show the effects of aging and gather data for research.

Report Cards for First Schools

ExceleRate Illinois rates early childhood education programs like preschools, Head Start programs, and child care centers. [via]

Where are Chicago's Murals?

Mural Locator tells you.

Updating the Dead

The venerable Graveyards.com, a resource for cemetery fans since 1996, just got a snazzy redesign.

When the River's More than Muddy

A new site from Open City provides up-to-date info on whether and where sewage is being pumped into the Chicago River. Co-creator Derek Eder talked about it on "The Afternoon Shift" Tuesday.

Beyond Crime Stats

Crime & Punishment is a new resource for data and information about the justice system in Chicago.

Where to Pay for Parking

Streetsblog's Steven Vance created a map of all the parking meter pay boxes in the city. [via]

Back on the Block

As promised, EveryBlock blinked back on today, like nothing happened. Your old login even works, if you had one.

Stay Warm Where You Can

As the temperature drops to zero and below again, the city's warming centers will be in heavy demand. WBEZ's Curious City learned the centers' limits.

City Calendar Set

The City announced its festival calendar for next year, including the dates of the concert series at Millennium Park, the Taste (July 9-13), and the new Great Chicago Fire Festival (October 3-4).

Do #GivingTuesday

Today is Giving Tuesday, and you should take part! DonorsChoose has more than 600 projects in city schools looking for funding, and ChicagoNonProfit.org is a great place to find local organizations addressing issues you care about.

Find Health Services Close By

Healthnear.me is a tool for finding public health resources -- from warming centers to community service centers -- near a location in the city. It's accessible by SMS as well as the web.

Don't Buy This Stuff

The Illinois attorney general's office released its annual list [PDF] of recalled toys and household items to be on the lookout for on eBay, CraigsList and in resale shops.

Now Hear This

Podcast Thing, a new site from Max Temkin and Veronica Corzo-Duchardt, helps you find your next favorite podcast.

Swinging Pads

Cosmopolit Home facilitates "nightswapping," trading a night in a home on the network for a night for someone else in yours. There are places to stay all over Europe and the US, including a few here in the city, from a guest room to a house with way too big a yard to be near downtown.

Government Shuts Down, Obamacare Goes Live

While the Federal government is officially shut down, U.S. agencies' local offices will most likely stay open, and people across Illinois can now sign up for health insurance using the new exchange created by the Affordable Care Act.

Redbox with Starch

Pressbox is a new laundry service that lets you drop clothes off in lockers around town, and then pick it up, clean and folded, later on.

Not Yet

Former GB staffer Sandor Weisz created a simple way to answer of one of the most annoying questions asked of parents-to-be: "Is the baby born yet?"

Nice Book, Stranger

The Transit Readings tumblr recommends books based on what people are spotted reading on the CTA.

Your City Streets

CDOT launched a new portal, Chicago Complete Streets, that hopes to make better sense of all the projects the department is currently working on or planning.

Help Fido Get Home

If you've lost a dog -- or found one -- Lost Dogs Illinois is a resource to help reunite pet and owner. The organization frequently posts lost and found listings on its Facebook page.

CPD Puts Up a "Help Wanted" Sign

The Chicago Police Department is taking applications for the first time in three years. Starting salary is listed as $43,104, and you only need to be 18 years old to apply.

Cycling Crash Cartography

A map of accidents reported by bicyclists shows that Milwaukee Avenue and downtown are two of the most dangerous areas to pedal through.

Go Out & Be Geeky

The Chicago Nerds Social Club is an excellent friend-making resource for those of us not so into organized sports.

A Safe Place to Live

The Chicago House TransLife Center, the first transgender housing center in the country, opened its doors Monday.

Annotating the City

The City of Chicago is on RapGenius's News Genius annotation site, thanks to the Smart Chicago Collaborative. TIF Illinois has a good number of documents on there, too.

How the City Feels

The Smart Chicago Collaborative just launched the Chicago Health Atlas, a resource for citywide health information and data.

The Opposite of Apartment Finder

Dennis Rodkin talks with Mike Cerny, founder of DoNotRent.com, a site where users share details on awful apartments.

Art from Waste

Pick up free art supplies from ZeroLandfill Chicago at the Chicago Center for Green Technology tonight and a couple more dates next week.

Renters, You Have Rights

It's coming up on May 1, one of the busiest moving times of the year, so it's worth noting that Chicago's tenant rights laws are pretty strong, and the Chicago Tenants' Union is here to help. You can also call the City's renters rights hotline at 312/742-RENT.

City of Chicago Residential Landlord & Tenant Ordinance Summary by Gapers Block

Bike with Your iPhone

Steve Vance has updated his Chicago Bike Map app into a full Chicago Bike Guide chock full of new features.

To Catch a Thief

Bandit Tracker is a website dedicated to capturing bank robbers in the Chicagoland area -- guys like the "Mummy Bandit," who was captured after robbing a TCF Bank in Lincoln Park.

They're From Here

The Cook County Clerk has created a website, Sweet Home Chicago, to help settle bets on whether such and such celebrity is from Chicago.

Why Cut These Schools?

School Cuts provides a clearer picture of the criteria CPS is looking as it determines which schools on the semifinal list by showing you the data as well as other contributing factors.

Itching and Burning and a Rash?

Sometimes, despite the best intentions and preventions, certain parts of the body do certain things that scare you after you've been with certain people. For certain. So, if you need to figure out where to go to find out if those certain symptoms means that you've contracted a certain "social disease," then the Centers for Disease Control has a website where you can find every STD/HIV testing facility in your area. And all you need to share is your zip code.

Help ID John & Jane Does

The Cook County Medical Examiner has posted photos and other info about unidentified bodies from the county morgue in hopes of learning their identities and possibly connecting them with loved ones.

Zumplace to Live

A new apartment search site, Zumper, launched in Chicago on Friday.

Greetings from Chicago, Illinois!

Check out the Boston Public Library's online collection of Tichnor Brothers postcards, including this set of 194 Illinois gems. Tip: the Chicago images, which include everything from historical skylines to more impressionistic industrial scenes, are towards the end of the set.

Where to Recycle

Chicago Recycling Dropoff is a good resource for finding places to recycle stuff if you're not in a neighborhood with "blue cart" recycling yet.

Putting Cycling on the Map

The Active Transportation Alliance is updating its Chicagoland Bike Map, and needs your help.

Mercury Rising, Then Falling

Though it's going to be 70 degrees tomorrow, it'll be 36 on Tuesday. Dig out your winter coat -- or better yet, donate it to Heartland Alliance's Refugee Health program. Through November, the Old Town School of Folk Music will be collecting gently used hats, coats, gloves and scarves in any and all sizes. Then hurry up and treat yourself to a new jacket before it gets cold and stays cold.

Your Voting Resources

Now that you know where your polling place is and who's endorsed who, here are some handy resources for to have in your pocket tomorrow.

ChicagoBallot.com is a web app that acts as a palm card on your smartphone, listing your choices for national, state and local votes.

The Chicago Tribune Ballot Builder serves a similar purpose, although it doesn't show judge evaluation data; ChicagoBallot does.

MobileJudges.com is just for the judge retention portion of the ballot. It's built with data from Vote For Judges, which collects judge evaluations from the Illinois Bar Association, Chicago Bar Association, Chicago Council of Lawyers and the Chicago Tribune.

The Chicago Bar Association has its own mobile guide as well.

Your Custom Palm Card

If you have a smartphone, ChicagoBallot.com helps you figure out who you're voting for in advance and provides a convenient reminder when you get to the polls -- especially for those easy-to-forget bottom of the ballot names and issues.

The City that Sees, Clicks & Fixes

Chicago's 311 system is now integrated with SeeClickFix; as of today, the City will be monitoring services requests made on that site as well as its own avenues. You can also track your 311 service request online.

Find Your Way on the Pedway

Will Vaughn has created a very thorough map of all the pedways in the Loop. (They're a bit out of date, but you might also enjoy our pedway tour: part one, part two.)

Is There a Sox Game Today?

There's been a site to let you know if there's a Cubs game (so as to avoid the inevitable traffic) for a couple years. One for the White Sox is finally here.

The Pulse of Freight

This week CMAP recently launched MetroPulse Jobs, a new site sharing research into workplace data, beginning with the freight industry.

Watching Old News

The Internet Archive just launched a huge TV news archive stretching back to June of 2003. Plenty of Chicago-related stuff in there -- including some that sounds pretty familiar.

Patch Coming to More Chicago Neighborhoods

AOL's hyperlocal news service will be launching new sites for Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Roscoe Village, Bucktown-Wicker Park, and Lincoln Square. The Beverly-Mount Greenwood Patch site is already online, while the rest are currently only available on Facebook.

Chicago Crime, Redux

Crime in Chicago is a new site from the Tribune that provides crime maps, statistics and other useful info for each of the city's 77 community areas.

125 Items for 125 Years

The Newberry Library turned 125 this year, and it's celebrating with an exhibition called, appropriately enough, The Newberry 125. It opens this Thursday, Sept. 6.

The Design Calendar

Creative Pulse Chicago offers design-oriented event listings. [via]

Where the Foreclosures Are

The Woodstock Institute shares data on foreclosures in Chicago, including an interactive chart that lets you compare trends in your community area to others around the city.

Where to Park & When not to Park

Parking.Chicago.com aims to serve all your parking needs. Meanwhile, ChicagoStreetSweeping.com is another site (in addition to SweepAround.Us) that helps remind you when to move your car for street sweeping.

Crime is Trending

Crime in Chicago is a new site that helps visualize crime trends by ward and date.

Putting Kids to Work

Jobs for Youth Chicago is an organization helping low-income people aged 17 to 24 find work in professional environments. If you're looking for a young go-getter, give them a call.

Your Regularly Scheduled...

Monthlys is a new app that helps manage your services and subscriptions, such as housekeeping or coffee of the month clubs.

Chicago's got a CityMap

CityMaps, which drops logos and business names onto the map for your shopping (or landmark-spotting) convenience, launched in Chicago today.

citymapschicago.png

Prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse ... or Any Other Disaster

Cook County is participating in a national pilot program to address regional emergency preparedness and is hosting events [pdf] to help you prepare everything from pet emergency kits to strategies for living off the grid.

Where to Hold Your Event

Eventup, a startup resource for finding event spaces, launched in Chicago today. Local VC Lightbank just invested $1.8 million in the company.

Chicago Shreds

No, it's not the air guitar championship show (though that's also fast-approaching): it's a chance to get your classified documents shredded for free and get educated on avoiding identity theft. And this year, you can also recycle old electronics.

Welcome to the Neighborhood

The Chicago Greeter program just added "Instagreeter" service to Wrigleyvile and Boystown.

Explore Old Maps

Old Maps Online shows you where various historical maps from several collections land on a Google map. Here's Chicagoland.

Reviews for Those Who Might Need Help

JJ's List is a site where people with disabilities review businesses and services, created by JJ Hanley, producer of Refrigerator Mothers, a documentary by Kartemquin Films.

When the Zombies Come...

You'll be ready thanks to Map of the Dead, a zombie apocalypse survival map created by design studio Doejo.

Domestic Violence Help

While listening to GB Editor-in-Chief Andrew Huff on Monday's 3@3 on "The Afternoon Shift" with Jason Marck and Rummanna Hussain, domestic violence resources came up in general. If you, or someone you know, is in Chicago and needs help in a potential or current domestic violence situation, please have them contact the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women's Network or call 877-863-6338. Help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in English and en Español.

Not an April Fools Joke

April means the return of Street Sweeping here in Chicago. Check the schedule and mark your calendar to avoid that $50 ticket!

You Are Here

The Tribune's app team has created the Chicago Boundary Service, which will tell you where you are (or whatever address you manual enter), in terms of everything from zip code to census tract to police beat.

Meta-Weatherman

By analyzing weather reports from multiple sources, startup Weatherist.com aims to deliver the most accurate predictions possible. [via]

A Guide to Gangland Chicago

The Chicago Crime Commission released a 300-page book on the city's gangs today that estimates the number of Chicagoland gang members at 60,000 and notes the use of social media by gangs to organize and communicate.

A Better Map?

If Google Maps isn't detailed enough for you, maybe OpenStreetMap's view of Chicago can help.

Hull House Closing Friday

The Jane Addams Hull House Association, which last week announced that it would be forced to close by the end of March, will in fact be closing tomorrow.

MCIC to Close

The Metropolitan Chicago Information Center will close by the end of the year due to downturn of funding from nonprofits.

One Possible Workforce Future

Crain's breaks down estimates of Illinois' employment characteristics in 2018 from a recent Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce report.

Watch the Plows

The Plow Tracker is now live, showing where the City's 183 snow plows are in roughly real time.

Here's a "behind the scenes" look at Streets & San's snow HQ, with a bunch of snow stats from Commissioner Tom Byrne.

Preparing for the Worst

As Chicago braces for what might be as much as 6 inches of snow Thursday, don't forget to avoid parking on 2-inch snow routes. Once the snow starts falling, you might also want to watch the real-time plow tracker on Chicago Shovels to see when your street will be cleared.

Chicago Shovels at the Ready

The City has launched Chicago Shovels, a portal for snow-related information -- including a real-time plow tracker during storms -- to make sure another blizzard doesn't blindside us. You might also want to check out 2inch.es, an interactive map of 2-inch snow routes and overnight parking restrictions, and its sister site, WasMyCarTowed.com.

It is Sew Time for New Year's Resolutions

Got a goal to learn something new and crafty in 2012? Well to help you procrastinate while at work plan ahead, here are some tips. Whether you are looking for a project-focused basic sewing class, or parent with a child a who wants to learn to sew, looking for something a little more advanced with small classes, or looking to learn something more adventurous, there is something to help you keep your resolution, and your sanity.

Know Your Calendar

Now You Know is an event calendar mostly focused on shopping and nightlife, but with plenty else in the mix.

Where to Give

Crowdrise, with its amusing tagline "If you don't give back no one will like you," helps you find nonprofits, projects and charitable events to donate to -- and on the flipside, aims to make it easier to raise funds. There are plenty in Chicago.

Making a Bank Transfer

Saturday, Nov. 5 is Bank Transfer Day, a movement to switch from the major national banks to credit unions and local banks. I Know Chicago shares some resources for you to make the switch.

Why's the Power Out?

The Tribune has assembled a searchable database of all significant ComEd power outages in Illinois since 2008 with, most interestingly, the cause of the outage. From the looks of it: bad PR for trees.

Puppy's Staying with Friends

The Rovernight Network is an alternative to kennels for short overnight dog boarding: leave your pup at another network member's house for free.

A Resource for OCD Chicagoans

It's difficult to resist making a dumb joke about visiting the site again and again, but OCD Chicago is no doubt valuable to its community.

Find the Market Near You

Kind of late in the season, but the City launched a new farmers market map over the weekend, featuring both city-sponsored and independent markets. [via]

Serve the City

One Good Deed Chicago is a new way to find opportunities to help local non-profits in need. It was made possible by a grant from the national Cities of Service program.

Hey, When is that Movie Screening?

To the Movie Clock!

Street-Level Phoenix

Street-Level Youth Media returns to Wicker Park after a fire destroyed their community center 3 years ago. The new 5,250-square-foot facility features state-of-the-art A/V labs, sound stage and gallery space. A grand opening benefit reception is slated for September 29th.

Look at Cook's Books

Chicago isn't the only local governmental entity with data to share. Look at Cook offers up information about Cook County's budget.

No More Street Sweeping Tickets

Sweep Around Us tells you when your street is scheduled for sweeping next, and can send you an email to remind you to move your car. It was created by FoGB Scott Robbin, who also built Was My Car Towed (previously).

Portable Regional Indicators

CMAP's MetroPulse regional indicators now have their own iPhone app.

Make Some New Friends

Best Buddies is an organization that helps intellectually and developmentally disabled people find one-on-one friendships. Though it's mostly aimed at high school, the Citizen Buddied and e-Buddies programs make it easy for adults to get involved. You can learn more at a benefit mixer at Rockit tonight.

Planning Your Weekend

The Weekend Map puts Chicago Meetup.com meet-ups on a color-coded map for your convenience.

It's That Time of Year Again

If you get hot during the day, you can head to a cooling center.

Making Pet Adoption Easier

Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka has set up a site, Comptroller's Critters, to help animal rescue organizations find homes for the pets in their care. Most of the participating shelters are in Chicago.

Making Your Way

Mapnificent shows how far you can get in the city on public transportation or foot within a certain amount of time -- such as from Chicago and Michigan in 30 minutes.

Losing Contact

Need a payphone? How 'bout a mailbox?

Chicago Live Music

The Live Music Archive is a treasure trove of recorded concerts. In Transmission, we've sorted through and listed all the Chicago venues and festivals in the archive for your downloading convenience.

Your Big Gay Wedding

Need help planning your civil union? Let Queerly Wed be your guide.

Alfresco Films Near You

Here are all this summer's Movies in the Park, on a convenient googlemap. The season kicks off June 14. [via]


View 2011 Movies in the Parks in a larger map

Be a Good Landlord

Rental search site domu has developed a handy guide to being a landlord in Chicago. On the flip side, the Illinois Tenants Union has renters' collective back.

Connecting the Scene

If you're part of the hip hop community and need something for your next project, Chicago Hip Hop Connects has your hookup.

Parental Support

Neighborhood Parents Network aims to be a social network and resource for Chicago parents.

Celebrating a New Mayor

The mayoral inauguration is coming up in two weeks. The optimistically named Chicago Together pulls together details of celebrations and info on the planned day of service May 14.

Expecting Together

Expecting parents might be into KickSprout, a social network just for them.

No Story for Avenue A

But this PDF from the Chicago Historical Society tells you who or what nearly every other street in the city was named after. [via]

Watch out for Bedbugs

YoChicago has a proper rant about apartment-finding services, and offers a list of ones not to call.

New Digs for EveryBlock

EveryBlock launched its first major redesign yesterday evening. Read more about it on their blog.

Free Support Groups for Those Affected by Disasters in Japan

A team of mental health professionals have organized support groups for Japanese communities in Chicago and suburbs in response to the recent earthquake and related events. The support groups are offered at no charge and will run for six weeks at eight locations in Chicago, Evanston, Oak Park, Schaumburg and Wheaton.

What's the Weather Like?

Check out WeatherSpark, a new weather site with lots of data. [via]

Leap Ahead

FYI, Daylight Savings Time begins Sunday at 2am. You'll lose an hour but gain so much more.

United States of X: Cycling Edition

The United States Bicycle Route Map from the Adventure Cycling Association includes several local routes -- and indirectly leads to the League of Illinois Bicyclists. [via]

Fewer Dead Trees

The Chicago Climate Action Plan aims to help do away with unwanted phone books: Sign up to keep them from landing on your doorstep.

Mapping History

Apartment site domu has put together a cool Chicago history map. One of the guys who worked on the project is on Reddit discussing how it happened.

Revolution Every Day

Maybe our own Slowdown calendar isn't activist enough. Fortunately, there's Chicago Radicalendar.

Your Best Connection

Broadband Illinois lets you see which broadband Internet provider is the best in your neighborhood.

Legal Support

Those planning to take advantage of the new civil union legislation that goes into effect on June 1 might want to check out the Civil Union Tracker that "aims to ensure that same-sex and different-sex couples are treated fairly under Illinois law."

Opt Out of Yellow Pages by Opting In

Leave it to the phone book industry to create a Yellow Pages Opt-Out site where you have seem to have to decide which books you do want in order to not get the rest.

Shovels at Ready

Need help digging out? Ask for help.

Blizzard News Center

The Tribune has set up a Blizzard 2011 resource page on ChicagoWeatherCenter.com, with links to radar, traffic info, school closures and even a map for reporting problems.

A Repository of Culture

Celebrate Black History Month in February with a trip to the Vivian Harsh Collection of Afro-American History & Literature at the Woodson Regional Library.

Which Museums Are Free Today?

This site tells you.

Take My Compost, Please!

Erlene Howard's burgeoning green business helps those who can't compost for themselves. For under $11 a week, she'll take northsiders' compostables and put them to good use (not a landfill).

Quora on Chicago

Quora is a new social community based around questions and answers. It launched back in June, and now has a respectable number of Chicago-related questions built up.

Old City Documents

The National Archives have a search engine that lets you dig into its holdings. Quite a few from Chicago, going back to some of the city's earliest days.

One-Stop Deal Shopping

It's about time: Chicago Deal Sites collects all the daily deals for Chicagoland (well, a lot of them anyway) in one spot for convenient perusal.

A Well-Oiled Bloated Machine

Chicago is a big city. We have more residents than a handful of states. Big cities require big government. But I don't think I had any idea how big until I saw this list of all the departments that exist in Chicago. (Thanks, George!)

Recycling The Glow

Remember you should try and recycle old strings of lights, not throw them in the garbage. The City of Chicago has a mess of special drop-off locations that take lights, now through Jan. 18, 2011. (Download a handy flyer in English and en Espanol.)

Find a Desk

Looking for a place to work? Desktime gives you a hand.

NewCity's Number Ones

Cultural weekly NewCity gives us their 2010 top picks in vintage TV shows filmed in Chicago, food trucks, indoor make-out spots, and many more.

Affect a Charity

The Giving Effect, a site that helps connect donors with cause-based organizations that distribute items and food to people in need.

Surveying the Field

The Chicago Mayoral Scorecard has been updated to reflect the 20 candidates who filed by the deadline yesterday. Now the fun of petition challenges begins.

Report Your Bike Stolen

Related to the previous post: If your bike is stolen, report it to the police then add it to the Chicago Stolen Bike Registry.

Check That Biz Name

Thinking about starting a business? First step is to make sure the name is available.

Your Regional Indicators

MetroPulse Chicago went live today. Learn more in Mechanics.

The City That Writes

ChicagoPublishes.com went live earlier this week, highlighting local books, periodicals and literary events. Chicago Artist Resource also launched a new literary section. (Previously.)

How Far Can You Get on the CTA?

Mapnificent shows you where you can get to in a given amount of time (say, 15 minutes) on public transportation.

Can Your Boss Do That?

Maybe. Maybe not. Find out here.

Find Your Own Special

Signpost is a deal-finder site that just recently launched in Chicago.

How to Use a Piggy Bank

The City Treasurer has launched a new site, Save It, Spend It, Grow It, an initiative aiming to help Chicagoans be smarter about their money matters.

Alternatives to 311

Two sites are working to leverage the community to fix things like potholes and graffiti removal: SeeClickFix and CitySourced. The only problem is, the City doesn't recognize them as legitimate channels.

Staycation Somewhere Else

You may not be able to afford a vacation, but that doesn't mean you have to stay at home. Vacation rental site airbnb.com lists places to stay in Chicago for as little as $20 a night.

Sifting Through Innocence

The Innocence Project and Chicago law firm Winston & Strawn have launched InnocenceRecord.org, a searchable online database of wrongful convictions based on DNA evidence.

Fighting Bed Bugs in the 'Burbs

Yes, there is a BedBug University North American Summit, and it's in Rosemont. I'm sure you'll be pleased to know that while it's sold out, you can get on the waiting list.

Before Pimps Were Pimps

DePaul researchers Jody Raphael and Brenda Myers-Powell released a research report [pdf] yesterday noting pimps' common histories of sexual abuse, prostitution and familial involvement in sex trade prior to becoming pimps. (Related: our feature on sex trafficking in Chicago.)

Municipal Bed Bug Assistance

No matter which study you reference, Chicago has bed bugs, and the city has some information to help those plagued by the pests.

Confronting the Social Context of Domestic Violence

The Arab American Action Network recently released a report [pdf] on the special issues confronting domestic violence in Chicago's Arab and Muslim communities.

Foreign Accents are Fishy

According to new research at the University of Chicago, a foreign accent undermines the credibility of a speaker, making them seem less truthful to listeners. The problem gets worse as the accent gets stronger. Daily Mail points out that this is the first study of accents affecting credibility.

No, not Just Green Paint

Want to decorate your home in an eco-friendly way? ApartmentTherapy has your "Green City Guide."

The Day's Most Depressing List

This document lists over 130 Illinois nonprofits waiting to receive payments of $1 million or more owed to them by the state. As Progress Illinois notes, "many of these agencies provide crucial services such as drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, homeless and domestic violence shelters, and care for the developmentally disabled and mentally ill." The list, released by Illinois Partners for Human Services, counts about $490 million in state debt.

Illinois Still Fails to Test Rape Kits

Sarah Tofte of Human Rights Watch has penned a scathing article in The Huffington Post using her work from the first state-wide analysis of the rape kit backlog. The study found that the vast majority of DNA evidence collected from rape victims in Illinois is never tested. It might explain why the arrest rate for rape in Illinois of just 11 percent, half the national average.

Published: Chicago's Most Wanted

The Chicago Crime Commission today released its Most Wanted list, the successor of the 1930s era Public Enemies list created by the same organization. But the usual suspects may be facing a unique threat this year, as the Commission apparently plans to use a powerful new tool to apprehend them: Facebook. You can view the list here.

The Original Transit Map

Speaking of maps of what to do near a particular train stop, we're reminded that Centerstage did it first.

What's Near That Stop?

Carfree Chicago is developing a crowdsourced map of restaurants, shops and activities near each CTA, Metra and South Shore Line stop in the city.

Latino Chicago Online

You know what, let's just make it Latino online press day. If you're looking for indie Latino news and events, check out my list after the jump.

600 Words
Adentro de Pilsen
Arte y Vida
Café Media
Contratiempo
Extra
Gozamos
Hispanically Speaking News
HispanicTips
Lawndale News
Pilsen Portal
Proyecto Latina
Radio Arte
The South Chicagoan
Am I missing some? Email me:

What To Do in 312 (and 773)

Do312 is a new event listing site celebrating its launch tonight.

Know the Codes

The Chicago municipal codes, that is.

Where to Co-Work

With the number of freelancers increasing thanks to the Great Recession, more coworking spaces are popping up to give them somewhere other than coffee shops to work in. Check out COOP, OfficePort, Ravenswood Coworking, Writers Workspace, UBBOS, TechNexus and Jelly Chicago.

New Bike Maps

The Active Transportation Alliance has teamed up with the Tawani Foundation and Pritzker Military Library(!?) to produce an updated Chicagoland bike map. As a result, there's now a map of area military sites.

Wacky Calendar

Do you know where your towel is today? If not, you may want to add this Nerdy & Silly Observances list to your calendar. [via]

Hey, Jacob, Meet Emily

These most popular Chicago names are the tip of the trivia iceberg in the Sun-Times' somewhat irritating to navigate but otherwise interesting compilation.

Chicago Housing Authority Enters the Digital Age

For the first time since 1999, the CHA is going to open up its waiting list raffle to new families. And they're only doing it online. There are still 5000 families on the list and they'll be moved to the top, but the CHA will be accepting 40,000 more names to be accepted as space becomes available. You can get more info on Facebook or Twitter and you can register online from June 14 to July 9.

Don't Forget That Ticket

New service Parkzing will alert you if you get a ticket and remind you to pay it. [via]

Dive into the Candidates

The Illinois State Board of Elections launched its new website today, with some nice new features.

Sweep Away Street Sweeping Tickets

StopParkingTickets.com is a new $10/year service that alerts you by text or email the day before street cleaning comes to your block, so you can move your car in time.

Watch the Cook County Census

The Tribune has created a detailed map of Cook County's US Census participation, and will be updating it daily as new data comes in. How's your ward looking?

Helping Creatives Put Out

AgencyPimp claims to be "the list of Chicago creative agencies."

Cultural Institutions by the Numbers

Crain's recently compiled attendance, budget, employee and other data on Chicago's largest cultural institutions. The Art Institute is doing pretty well by most every measure, while the DuSable and Notebaert have seen better days.

Get Your Building STACKD

The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) gives a nod to new global resource STACKD which lets people connect via their workplace. It's a great opportunity to "Act Local" and connect with others outside of that excruciatingly silent morning elevator ride.

Chi City Web

The City of Chicago's website got its first overhaul in almost a decade today. Check out the new cityofchicago.org (which seems to run on a similar template to explorechicago.org) and see if you can navigate it any easier.

Explore the Complexity of Food Distributions

The U.S. Department of Agriculture just released a new interactive dataset called the Food Environment Atlas, where one can look at county level data on everything from access to grocery stores to the price of savory snacks. If you're not interested in playing on the site, the Trib did a summary of Chicago area data with some pretty interesting results.

Mapping Murder

RedEye's homicide map has relaunched, and as noted on Windy Citizen, the neighborhood graph is possibly the most informative.

No More Trekking to UPS & FedEx Depots

You can now redirect missed deliveries to any of 10 Walgreens locations around the city, thanks to a service called PickupZone. The first package is free, additional ones are $0.99.

From 2.7% to 71.8%

We all know that the recent primary had low voter turnout, but that turnout was far from evenly distributed. The Chicago Reporter highlights some outlying polling sites and wards.

First-hand Fashions, Second-hand Materials

Swap-O-Rama-Rama, a DIY fashion workshop/ resource, is returning to Chicago in March and seeking submissions for their competitive re:MAKE Fashion Show. For volunteers and beginners, there are regular meeting and events (the next on Feb. 4).

Tax Help from the City

Now that tax season is well under way, don't forget that the city offers some tax assistance if you are single and earn less than $20,000 a year or if you earn less than $45,000 a year as a family.

Early Voting Opens, Trib Launches Voting Helper

Today is the first day of early voting in the Illinois primary. The Tribune's Election Center has plenty of resources to help you vote, including a handy ballot builder to act as a cheat sheet at the polls Feb. 2.

The Heat is On

Is your rental apartment unreasonably cold, despite your complaints? Here's information on what heat-related services your landlord is obligated to provide to you under the Chicago Municipal Code, and what you can do to assert your rights.

Shovel Ready

If you'd like to tell your neighbors where they can stick their snow shovels (i.e. on their sidewalks), do it the polite way with these handy snow shoveling reminder flyers (and thank yous) by Active Trans.

How Much is a Penny Worth?

It's New Year's Eve, so it's worth a ride on the CTA from 8pm until 6am. Get the details from the CTA, as well as which routes will be extended.

Human Powered

GoHuman is a startup attempting to create "a marketplace for local services," ranging from computer consulting to auto repair to knitting classes.

Finding a Way to Find Your Way

City-Go-Round is a site that collects transportation maps and apps for Chicago and other cities to help you get from here to there. [via]

Do You Need a Reason to Give?

Firebelly's Reason to Give returns for another year, raising money to help the needy in Humboldt Park.

Protecting Your Files

Planning saving your digital photographs, important papers and pretty much anything else can be complicated, so you may want to check out the documents created by the Chicago-based The Society of American Archivists.

Neighborhood Watchers

Interested in knowing more about crime and problem spots in your neighborhood? You may want to sit in on a CAPS meeting, a monthly opportunity for citizens to trade information and report issues within each police beat in the city. (Inspired by a comment by Mary in our current Fuel question about gang activity.)

Take on City Hall

The Chicago-Kent College of Law has opened the Center for Open Government. They'll focus on helping people challenge closed government practices under the Illinois Open Meetings Act, Freedom of Information Act, and other similar acts. An Oak Lawn resident who is suing her village for deciding to fire public employees by a private consensus, instead of a public hearing, is their first client.

Tower of Books

Pop-ups aren't just for hip stores: The Chicago Public Library has opened a mini-branch in the Water Works building across from Water Tower Place -- perfect for registering for a library card.

Introducing the Black Youth Project

BlackYouthProject.com is a new site hoping to be both a resource and community for young blacks in Chicago and nationwide.

Green and Gone

This Saturday (10am-noon), gather up your unwanted paper debris and head down to the parking lot in front of Jewel, Kmart, and Staples near Ashland and Division: WPB is teaming up with Secure EcoShred to tear up your printed materials for free. 3 box/bag limit, $5 box/bag after that.

Move to a Neighborhood that Suits You

MoveSmart.org has launched its Neighborhood Finder, which helps you choose where to live in the city based on criteria such as population density, access to farmers markets and number of libraries.

Food Stamps for Pets

OK, food stamps aren't involved, but a variety of organizations in the Chicago area and elsewhere are providing assistance to families who are having a hard time buying food for their pets.

Obama, Your Weather Man

Wondering what Chicago's President™ would be wearing to match this week's weather? Obama-Weather.com has your answer.

Googlemapping the CHA's Plan for Transformation

GB's managing editor David Schalliol was frustrated that he couldn't find all of the CHA's mixed income housing developments on the agency's own map -- so he built one himself.

Where to Swing

Looking for some swing music? WindyHop is your resource for classes and concerts, while This Week in Chicago gives you the latest on swing nights around town. (Thanks, Dubi!)

Learn to Tweet

Wondering how to best use Twitter for your business? Go to TweetCamp Chicago this Saturday, presented by the AWJ Chicago.

Go for Free

Hey, that's handy: a list of all the city's free museums, and the free days at all the others. [via]

Renters' Rights Resource

As sort of a PSA, since October 1 is a big moving date for renters: the Chicago Tenants Union is a great resource for info on tenants' rights, lease regulations and what to do if your landlord holds your security deposit for too long.

Enjoy Your Ham Radio Operator License Plate

If you've ever noticed an Illinois license plate but couldn't figure out what kind of strange plate it was, this visual guide to Illinois license plates (pdf) should give you a hand.

Explore Local Publishing

We cover a lot of local lit in our Book Club, but for an encyclopedic view of the city's publishing scene, head to the Chicago Publishers Gallery at the Cultural Center. It features more than 1500 books from more than 125 publishers, plus magazines and online publications, too. You can also read the Book Club's coverage of the Gallery's opening in October of last year.

Now Is the Time

...To prepare for Jazz Fest next week. And the Now Is concert calendar is your best resource for all the unofficial shows happening around the festival.

Northside Attacks Spawn Facebook Group

The Trib's John Kass points to a Facebook group "Lakeview 911" that was created this month to gather "concerned citizens" who want to connect about the recent muggings in the neighborhood. Remember EveryBlock is also a great local resource on crime stats relative to your street, no matter where you live in the city.

Take an Intern, Leave an Intern

InternChicago launches later this year as a place for students to find internships, and businesses to find interns.

Modification Mania

Chicago homeowners staring down foreclosure can access free help and perhaps on-site loan modifications at McCormick Place this weekend.

Here Comes the Brides

Planning your gay/lesbian wedding? Bet you're wondering where to find a queer-friendly caterer, travel agent, and of course a venue for the ceremony. Wedding planner, Queerly Wed , recently launched by local writer Stacy Jill Jacobs, is here to help.

In Business

If you run a small business, you might want to give yourself a long lunch and visit the City Treasurer's Small Business Expo today. It's free, and runs till 3:30.

Watch Us Wait

How long is the line at Hot Doug's? What's the wait like at Kuma's? Are the lines crazy at Costco? Decider decided to help you find out without having to be there -- follow @WaitWatcher and get updates from people in line at popular places.

Don't Worry About the Black Market for Fireworks

Now that it's, um, Fourth of July eve, it's time for the media to roll out research about what's legal and illegal around town.

Park Smarter

BestParking.com is a handy site that lets users compare daily and monthly parking rates based on neighborhood, address, cross street, or attraction. Previously only available in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and D.C., the site recently added Chicago to their system.

Goofy Pays Off

CityPayments.org is "a database of all vendors, contracts, and payments that have been posted by the municipal government of the City of Chicago to the Vendor, Contract, and Payment Search lookup tool maintained by the Department of Procurement Services." It was created by Dan O'Neil of EveryBlock and Harper Reed of Threadless. Best part? You can flag things as "goofy."

Add This to Your Calendar

Amanda Ruzin has created downloadable Google calendars for several of this summer's free outdoor concert series. [via]

Mapping the Stacks

With news of important Defender-related archives in the news lately, it seems particularly relevant to mention Mapping the Stacks, a "guide to Black Chicago's hidden archives."

Linking the Laid Off

Even with the local unemployment rate reaching the new heights each month, being laid off can be a frustrating and lonely experience. LayOffMoveOn.com, created by Chicagoan Jessica Lybeck offers its users an interactive support network to share their job hunting experiences and tips with those who find themselves in the same boat.

Thinking Ahead to Date Night

Got a date coming up? Date Nite Delivery can help make it special with gift baskets of wine, cookies and other treats.

Savings in 140 or Less

CouponTweet, a site by former GB officemates PerkSpot, went into public beta yesterday, allowing you to search for coupon codes and special offers in the Twitter stream.

Digital Library Loan

Did you know you can download audiobooks and videos from the Chicago Public Library's website? All you need is a library card and some software.

Doctors List

Chi-Town Daily News reports on the new Leslie's List, a database of local health care prices.

Ready, Set, File!

If you haven't filed your taxes yet, well, good luck. Neighborhood post offices won't be staying open late, but the Main Post Office at 433 W. Harrison will accept your mail to the IRS until midnight tonight.

Spring Cleaning

Need to get rid of some stuff? You can call Purple Hearts or pile it in the alley, or you could try FreeCycle, PixieList or just list it on CraigsList, like this dude did.

Don't Let the Bedbugs Bite

Hopefully an apartment this bad isn't even on your radar, but to make sure you don't end up spending time in a place with bedbugs, check out this map of known infestations, and lend a hand locally. (Thanks, Kaylee!)

What Your Boss Can & Can't Do

Can My Boss Do That?, a new website from Interfaith Workers Justice, answers the question with resources and information regarding hiring and firing practices, health insurance and other benefits, safety regulations and more.

Who's Representing You?

Newly launched RepSheet lists which elected officials serve you, and also shows you the latest news mentioning any of them.

DoGoodDoGoodDoGood

If you're looking for a way to donate some time or cash, you may want to check out the Trib's new "channel," Do Good.

How Are Your Investigatory Skills?

Test them out with the CPD's cold case webpage or the Illinois State Police's Unsolved Crimes Database. [Via]

Parking Permit Detector

Here's a very practical service from the City: type in an address here and find out if it's on a street that requires a parking permit.

Grant Park Rally FAQ

The Trib is assembling questions and answers about Obama's rally on Tuesday. If you have any questions, check out the current list. If you don't see the answer you're looking for, ask them, and they'll work on it.

Last Minute Halloween Costumes

Still haven't figured out what to dress up as for that costume party this weekend? Here are a couple last-minute resources:
• Hit one of Chicago Costume's locations for an off-the-shelf "sexy ___" outfit.
• Hit Clark & Belmont and troll through Ragstock, Hollywood Mirror and the like for something zany.
• Try places like American Science & Surplus or Uncle Fun for random bits and pieces.
Fantasy Costumes in Jefferson Park is open 24 hours through Halloween for your absolute-last-minute shopping needs.

Won't You Be My Neighbor

The Neighbors Project has just posted a new Google map of neighborhood associations in Chicago. While TNP works on expanding the map to include other cities, they are also taking corrections to existing information as well as suggestions for new data points. Send those suggestions to info@neighborsproject.org.

Moving the Bar

Drunken Service Announcement: The Chicago Bar Project has had some trouble with their hosting company, and are now at ChiBarProject.com.

Chicago's Family Ties

Tracing a Cook County politican's family tree is pretty easy: just look at his successor. For the rest of us, there's the Cook County Genology Online, which was unveiled this week. Medill Reports has the story.

Markers of Distinction

Ever been curious about those historical markers all around the city? They're part of the series "Chicago Tribute: Markers of Distinction," and the comprehensive list is here.

Rating Your Doctor

The Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation has launched a website where you can check the background of a physician, dentist or other medical specialist. The site includes info about lawsuits as well as awards received, and was spurred by CBS2's investigative reporting. [via]

Yet Another Googlemap - Amenities Edition

PeekaCity allows you to search for particular amenities, from banks to parks to ice cream parlors. It's aimed at homesellers, but anybody can use it.

Construction Season Tips

Plenty of good advice in this Ask MetaFilter thread about early morning construction.

Remember that One Punk Band...?

There's a good chance you'll find them in the Chicago Punk Database -- and if not, you should add'em.

Found in the Back of a Cab

Beyond calling the taxi company, if you lose something in a cab, you might want to put a listing in the Chicago Dispatcher, the weekly newspaper for the taxi industry. The paper's Lost & Found service covers all your bases.

Read Up on the Issues

IssueLab.org is a site highlighting recent nonprofit research. Really worth exploring if you have an interest in health and medicine, transportation, crime and safety or other topics.

CME MMC 2008

The Community Media Workshop's Making Media Connections Conference takes place next week, so don't forget to register if you're planning on going. For an outside perspective on the conference, check out Nonprofiteer's assessment.

Free on Your Doorstep and Free on Your Screen

South Siders will appreciate that the Lakefront Outlook has finally gone online, even if it is only in image form.

Yet Another Googlemap - Ancestry Edition

Chicago Ancestors helps you track down historical and genealogical info based on street address.

U-Pick It, U-Buy it

Now that the permafrost has broken, head out into the hinterlands for some delicious produce.

Video Answers

AnswersTV is a video resource center filled with advice on everything from food to health to pets and, uh, magic.

Chicago Stolen Bike Registry

If you haven't been to the Chicago Stolen Bike Registry in a while, it's worth visiting even if you haven't lost a bike. While you're there, check out the stolen bike statistics and theft map to help you know what to look out for and where to be particularly careful. Given 99.34% of the listed thefts were unrecovered, being careful is probably the way to go.

ReCycle Your Bike

You know you're gonna get a new bike this Spring anyway, so give that old one away to someone who can use it. Working Bikes Cooperative will accept and refurbish your old bike at several events this month and in May at various sites around the city. Money from bikes that are sold goes toward shipping bikes and bike parts to developing countries.

Internet Via Text Message

If you're out on the town and don't have a web-enabled phone, you can still access the Internet via a service that doesn't require calling that friend who's always online. ChaCha is a new human search service you can text with any question. So if you're wondering when the Chicago Diner closes or curious about the middle name of your alderman, they'll text the answer back to you. Also, if you don't already know, you can text GOOGL (46645) for business addresses and phone numbers.

Zipping Along

How does your zip code compare to the others around you? Here's 60660, 60657, 60622, 60621 and 60615.

Recycle for Sure

Don't trust the City's blue bag program? Recycle confidently with Resource Center Chicago, which has three drop-off spots on the North Side. (Via Mike in Fuel.)

Your To-From Cost

Wondering how much that cab ride is gonna be? Check with Taxi Fare Finder. [via]

Big Brother Google is Watching

I wonder what's going on here at 3912 S. Vincennes Ave.? UPDATE: Google has taken the scene down; Gawker has the screenshots.

Building Social Animals

Announcing CitizenPowered, a City-sponsored site designed to bring Chicagoans together for collaboration with each other and community organizations. Find a job, help a nonprofit or connect with your neighbors.

User Generated Guidebooks

Wikitravel is now publishing travel guides that are updated every month, ensuring you're getting the latest info for your upcoming trip. And the project's first guidebook happens to be about Chicago.

Mr. Bike, Meet Mr. Radio

Chicagoan Dave Glowacz is best known as Mr. Bike, but he's breaking new ground as Mr. Radio. Of particular note are his health care section and interviews with the Reader's Ben Joravsky, in which he asks for "The Rest of the Story" about "The Works."

Twitter Your Way Through Traffic

Commuter Feed is a new traffic reporting service built on Twitter. Follow Chicago's traffic patterns here.

Creating Access

The Illinois Department of Tourism recently teamed up with the Open Doors Organization to develop the "Easy Access Guide to Chicago. Developed by locals for disabled tourists visiting our fair city, it's bound to be a boon to disabled Chicagoans as well.

Each and Every One

Everyblock, a hyper-local news aggregator from the creators of ChicagoCrime.org, has now launched.

Interested in American Culture?

The University of Chicago just opened a center that will study everything from "painting of the 18th Century ... to the history of hip hop music." It promises to have a public presence, so hopefully we'll all have some more interesting events to attend soon.

Kite-Flying Weather

Sure is, isn't it? But is it still kite surfing weather? The fine folks at Chicago KiteSurfing could answer that question and much more. Including a great page on how to repair or make your own kite. Cause the last think you want is a leaking bladder.

Fashion Design and You

If you've started or are planning to start a fashion business in Chicago, the City of Chicago and Macy's would like to give you the opportunity to win a Designer in Residence position at the new Macy's State Street Chicago Fashion Incubator. There are some stipulations and a $75 application fee, but you can download the application and get the full details now [pdf].

Photography in the Digital Age

Photographers may be interested in the free Photography 2.0: The Business of Photography in the Digital Era. The Chicago event runs on September 19 and features a range of photographers, editors and buyers. Check out the site to register and get more information.

More Money for Nonprofits--and Documentary Filmmakers

The Illinois Humanities Council recently announced its award of $12,000 in mini-grants to non-profits. IHC is accepting applications for mini (up to $2,500, due 15 October) and major (up to $10,000, due 15 February) grants in support of humanities projects sponsored by nonprofit organizations. IHC is especially interested in funding projects that target new or historically neglected audiences. And if you're making a documentary, you might be able to raise some seed money from IHC. For more information, call 312-422-5580 or email ihc[at]prairie[dot]org. Applications are available here.

Feeling Ill?

If so, and you're into the U.S. News ratings for this, that and the other, you may want to head to the University of Chicago Medical Center for the best hospital in the region and the 17th best in the country.

Chicago Infoporn

Crain's offers a treasure trove of information with its Market Facts feature this week. Check out maps of census data and an interactive skyline tour, and PDFs of all sorts of market information.

Phone Reader

The Reader now offers its restaurant, film, music and event listings in a mobile version for your phone. Could come in handy the next time you're planning with friends who "dunno, whadda you wanna do?"

Oak Park, Leader in Transgender Education

The Illinois State Library provided funds for a $3,000 grant to the Oak Park Public Library to create the first transgendered-oriented public library collection in the country.

Kill Your Automated Operator

Bringo is a Chicago-based web company that helps you find a dentist. Even more useful, though, it'll get you past those annoying automated phone trees. Awesome.

Today's Secret Word Is...

Gapers Block! So you go get Conky, and I'll show you the geographic distribution of the use of the term.

Lincoln Park Pirate Watch

ChicagoTows.com is a nearly real-time database of Chicago vehicle towing. Keep your eye on those pirates. (Thanks, Pat!)

Googlization at Midwestern Libraries

Google and the Midwest-based Committee on Institutional Cooperation announced an agreement to digitize up to ten million volumes from member universities. Local member schools include the University of Chicago, Northwestern and UIC.

LGBT Center Open

Center on Halsted, the most comprehensive LGBT facility in the Midwest, is now officially open.

Mapping the Invasion

While not everyone is seeing cicadas, some Chicagoans are, and at least some observers are adding their input to this handy Cicada Emergence Map.

The Lager Beer Riot of 1855

Learn about said riot and nine other bits of trivia about the Chicago City Council in this fine Trib article.

Lurking in the Loop

Time Out Chicago's cover feature this week is a "Loop Survival Guide," and it's pretty good. The guides to dive bars and greasy spoons are of particular interest; the pedway piece isn't nearly as comprehensive as ours.

14,100 Gallons of Water Per Minute

Now that the Buckingham Fountain is going full blast, maybe you'd like to astound your friends with some related trivia. For example, it opened on May 26, 1927, and its computer's name is the "Honeywell Excel-Plus."

ChronicBabe 2.0

ChronicBabe, the locally-produced website for women with chronic health conditions, just launched a redesign. New features include a chronic conditions resource center and an online store. Additionally, if you sign up for Goodie Bags, the site's electronic newsletter, you get a free ebook copy of How to Be a ChronicBabe: A Beginner's Toolkit.

Get Out of the Ballpark!

And onto this new web site: Out of the Ballpark is "the everything that's close to Wrigley Field guide" that boasts info on dining "beyond peanuts," a handy shopping guide for folks who aren't looking just for jerseys and ballcaps, maps and travel guides and more. Great for out-of-towners and locals alike.

It's Easy Being Green

Chicago's Green Festival is rapidly approaching. Stop by McCormick Place April 21 through 22 and see more than 300 exhibits in eco-fashion, natural home and health products, organic dining, and more. All patrons attending the festival who donate 10 non-perishable food items to the Greater Chicago Food Depository will receive a poster by artist, Scott Saw. Ramen noodles will not be accepted--way too much sodium.

Get Schooled

If you are interested in education research, you may want to check out the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, which is in town this week. Events are open to the public, but you'll need to pay the hefty registration fee.

Beyond the Concert Hall

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is taking great strides to expand its audience and influence, notably including a retooled nationally syndicated radio program and a performance and educational video series.

Highrise Launches

Highrise, the shared contact manager and task list from Chicago-based 37Signals, just launched this morning.

That's My $9.2 Million Home on N. Astor

If you're looking for the toniest neighborhood for your next real estate purchase, maybe you should check the Chicago Business High End Homes section. The feature includes maps, photos and sale prices for the most expensive homes in the region in 2006.

Three Decades of Opinions

Now that the locally produced General Social Survey completed its 26th run, the New York Times published a sneak peek of the 2006 results. Some interesting findings include a precipitous drop in the percentage of those who have a "great deal of confidence" in the military since 2004, as well as a 50% decline in daily newspaper readership since 1972.

This Godless Communism

It's 1961 and the communists have overthrown the government of the United States of America. Prepare yourself for the U.S.S.A.! What is the communists' first step? Move the government to Merchandise Mart! As J. Edgar Hoover says, read this comic now in order to "help us recognize and detect communists as they attempt to infiltrate the various segments of our society."

Illinois Poverty on the Rise

The Heartland Alliance released [pdf] their "2007 Report on Illinois Poverty" yesterday. Key findings include 1.5 million people live in poverty in Illinois, and the poverty rate increased in 85% of Illinois counties, including Cook and its suburbs.

1,158 = More Than a Few Arts Organizations

The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation just completed its Chicago Region Arts Scan, a major research report surveying all non-profit arts organizations in the Chicago region in 2006. In addition to being a comprehensive directory, the report provides especially fascinating information pertaining to the growth, location, composition and funding of these organizations.

Help for Greening Schools

Trying to make your school (or your kid's) greener? The Chicago Center for Green Technology is making an expert available for five hours on 3 March to answer your questions about getting funding, choosing appropriate technologies, and which step comes first for school building and renovation projects. Free, but you need to reserve time in advance: call 312-746-4678 and tell them what you have in mind.

Not Easy Being Green? Who Says?

The Chicago Center for Green Technology is kicking off a new season of free seminars, through its Green Tech U, next month. Some specifically target architects and engineers (who can earn certificates and continuing education credits), but others are ideal for those of us who wonder what we can individually do to make a difference for the environment: convince the condo board to install a green roof? Put a rain barrel in the yard? Call up the governor and ask him to impose tougher auto emissions standards? Some seminars are listed in Slowdown; click here for the complete catalog.

Monkey Money Madness

Those wacky Sun-Times staffers are at it again with this year's monkey stock market picks. As you'd expect, "Mr. Adam Monk," the primate in question, has beaten the major indices for the last four years. After you take in the monkey madness, pull a stock out of a hat and enter their contest for most appreciating stock.

Power by the Hour

Wouldn't it be cool to get an email telling you electricity rates are about to go up, so you'd better run the dishwasher right away? Or they're about to go down, so you can plan to do a big pile of laundry? And then have your electric bill be lower at the end of the month because you used more electricity when it was cheap and less when it was expensive? The Community Energy Cooperative, an initiative of the Center for Neighborhood Technology, recently piloted an hourly metering scheme, and a new program will be starting soon. Click here to find out more and fill out an interest form.

Create Your Own Planets

If today's Rearview photo (courtesy of the ever excellent Archie Florcruz) bewilders you or makes you want to do the same thing, take a look at his entry explaining his photo and then head over to the Create Your Own Planets Flickr pool for info on how to do this.

Another National Museum

In other Pilsen news, the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum has a new name: The National Museum of Mexican Art.

Cold + Precipitation + Tall Buildings = Trouble

What's the appropriate course of action when you see a "Beware of Falling Ice" sign? The Tribune helps you avoid an icicle in the head.

Beyond Education Sound Bites

If you'd like to know more about the Chicago Public Schools than what you can discern from short, mass media pieces, check out Catalyst Chicago, the local outpost of the urban education magazine. Be certain to visit the guide to CPS and research sections, which provide original content and links to research institutions.

Matt's Law Coalition

Following the recent sentencing of an Urbana woman who killed a cyclist while driving and downloading a ringtone to her cellphone, the parents of Matt Wilhelm the deceased, have started a coalition to lobby for a law and education to reduce distracted driving. Looks like that cellphone ban hasn't been working out too well.

Base Camp Best Buy

Console Camp, a new, Chicago-based game console blog, carries news and will provide details about the best camping spots for the Wii and the PS3. And in the spirit of democratic media, you can even post to it via email!

No More Street Sweeping Tickets

An organization called Smarter Government aims to fix the city's ills -- but first they might want to fix their website. Only two pages are available right now, but one is a pretty darn useful to cityfolk with cars: sign up here and get an email alert letting you know when the street sweepers are coming by, so you don't forget to move your car. (Thanks, Atul!)

Get Unhitched with the CPL

Each month, the Chicago Public Library presents a Law At the Library, a free series on important legal issues. And this month's topic is ... D-I-V-O-R-C-E! Sure, it's not fun, but it's best to do it right with help from The Chicago Bar Association. Catch a presentation and Q & A. Get location info and upcoming topics here.

"For the Not-So-Safe Driver"

Looks like the Chicago Bike Federation has a new website for their Drive With Care campaign. At first, I thought it was real, but then I knew that any memorial like "The Brittany" had to be too good to be true. Well done, chaps.

We're Bringing Spooky Back

Speaking of pumpkins, The Reader has a convenient list of haunted houses, ghost tours and other Halloween events from tonight through the big day itself.

37 Gigs

A lot more than that actually: 37signals has launched a gig board to complement their popular job board. Get your résumé in shape!

Hate is alive in Illinois

I like to think of Chicago as a liberal and accepting city. So imagine my surprise when I looked at a map of hate groups created by the Southern Poverty Law Center and was shocked to see the large cluster of hate groups on the Chicago area. Around these here parts we often snidely comment on those down-staters and their ways. Seems like it might be time to look a little closer.

How do you fit in?

I love stats. That journalism degree is still providing me use. So when I saw that I could get a lot of stats about my zip code and compare them with others in the city I had to find time to check it out.

Money for Nonprofits

The Illinois Humanities Council is accepting applications until October 15 for mini (up to $2,000) grants in support of humanities projects sponsored by nonprofit organizations. IHC is especially interested in funding projects that target new or historically neglected audiences. For more information, call 312-422-5580 or email ihc[at]prairie[dot]org. Applications are available here.

What the City Can Do for You (Redux)

The second of three late-summer City Services Fairs is being held on the West Side this Saturday. (The last one will be held on the South Side next Thursday.) You can get free health screenings, find out about assistance for seniors, or get help with your taxes. Details are in Slowdown.

Chicago's living history

Flickr geotaggers and those viewing one recent post may have noticed that Chicago's historic neighborhoods like Little Hell and Shantytown are alive on the Internet. Other interesting locations include the Berkeley Cottages and Packingtown.

What the City Can Do for You

The first of three late-summer City Services Fairs is being held on the far South Side this Saturday. (In September there are two more.) You can get free health screenings, find out about assistance for seniors, or get help with your taxes. Details are in Slowdown.

Game the Travel Market

Farecast finally has predictions for ticket prices departing from O'Hare and Midway to major destinations around the country. The beta service predicts whether ticket prices are likely to rise or fall, and makes recommendations on whether to buy now or hold off on that round-trip to San Francisco.

Expertocity

You've been writing that article about wine and trust and deception for a few weeks now, but it's missing that certain something. Could it be a quote from a local expert?

Find a Spot to Park

ChicagoParkingMap.com maps all the private parking lots and garages downtown (from 1100 North to 2300 South). The Java is a bit clunky, but boy is it comprehensive.

In the Absence of a Wireless iPod

Take your FreeFi with you: sign up for a wiPod account, and download a database of no-cost hotspots.

Hop from Point A to Point B

This could come in handy, especially when you want to minimize your waiting-in-the-heat time: HopStop helps find the quickest route between one address and another on public transportation. [via] (Thanks, Jenni!) [Matt updates to add: Chicagoist isn't impressed, but it mapped my trip from home to work just fine. In other words: it's new; results may vary.]

Tastypopsicle Maps 2.0

You may have used the CTA Google Map developed by Ed Knittel in the past. But, now that you can search by address, it's probably worth another look.

Kinda Like Abby Ryan, But By E-mail

Drivers curious about the state of roads they commute will likely find the DOT's Traffic Alert System helpful. [via]

Nonprofit Woes?

smARTstart offers a comprehensive online guide to starting, managing, and growing a nonprofit arts organization, including pointers to other online resources. Launched by the Arts Business Council of Chicago, which supports the arts by connecting organizations to arts lovers with management savvy.

Hey, is that building a landmark?

The city's Landmarks Division has prepared interactive Chicago Landmarks Maps that include photographs and important information about officially notable places. While you're on their website, check out their comprehensive Historic Resources Survey and other fascinating resources.

Chicago by the Numbers

This week's issue of Crain's Chicago Business contains their annual "Focus: Market Facts" feature, chock full of demographics and data ranging from It's all downloadable online in PDF format, and this year they've added an interactive map that allows you to zoom in on a particular neighborhood and check out how strong the demand for mp3 players is, for instance.

Chicago Memorized

Chicago Public Radio has partnered with organizations like the Illinois Humanities Council, Nextbook, and the Field Museum to store recordings of lectures, readings, and panel discussions online at Chicago Amplified. For example, if you missed Studs Terkel and Stuart Dybek at the Harold Washington Library last March, you can download the audio here.

City Services Fair

Wonder what the city can do for you? If you want to learn more about what city services are available to residents, drop by the Service Fair being held this weekend at Wilson College. They can help with landlord-tenant issues, bungalow registration, or concerns if a senior in your life needs assistance. (The full list is here).

Money for Nonprofits

The Illinois Humanities Council is accepting applications until July 15 for mini (up to $2,000) and major (up to $10,000) grants in support of humanities projects sponsored by nonprofit organizations. IHC is especially interested in funding projects that target new or historically neglected audiences. For more information, call 312-422-5580 or email ihc[at]prairie[dot]org. Applications are available here.

Grant Help for Nonprofits

The Illinois Humanities Council, which recently gave away $213,992 to 22 nonprofit organizations, is running a workshop for prospective grant applicants on June 2. Attendance is limited, so if you're interested, click here to register or call 312.422.5580.

Tip'em Off & Follow It Up

The Inspector General of Chicago launched a new website and tip hotline yesterday that gives residents a way to report wrongdoings by city workers easily and anonymously. Submit tips here, or call 1-866-IG-TIPLINE. You can also keep track of what's happening with the department's news page, which features the first RSS feed of any city department; hopefully that begins a trend.

An Alternative to Metromix

Somehow we've managed not to write about it, but Yelp. Founded in 2004 in San Francisco, Yelp has been helping Chicagoans find good places to eat and drink for quite a while now. It now covers dentists, hairstylists and other professions, too — all reviewed and rated by regular people.

State Master

Enjoy some Friday fun with statistics! State Master is a free site that collects current statistical data about all 50 states and allows visitors to compare and view data on just about every topic imaginable. Find out how Illinois stacks up against the rest of the country. Hey, we're third in the total number of homicides, and Illinois comes in ninth for the highest unemployment rate. And, did you know 65 percent of the population of Illinois lives in the Chicagoland area? Plus, you can get your statistics fix anytime with RSS and Atom feeds on the site.

Schedule Me Out to the Ballgame

The baseball season having just started and Google Calendar having just been introduced, it seems a good time to point out some subscribable schedules for the Cubs and Sox. (A few other handy calendars: this summer's Movies in the Park, gallery events in the West Loop, and shows at the Bottle.)

Almost Time For Strawberries

After the tulips have bloomed, the first strawberries of the season are the true announcement of spring. The U of I Extension has put together a very informative page about strawberries, including a page about where to go to pick them in the region. Regional strawberries are divine and worth the trip--nothing like the frankenberries from California.

Chicago Johns Trading Cards Page

Speaking of prostitution, it's always good fun on Mondays to visit Chicago's page of guys who have been busted for soliciting prostitutes. They're like trading cards, and it's always fun to have a little contest to see who has the best hair this month, or the winner of the "Best Dressed" category...

Chicago Crime 2.0

ChicagoCrime.org just got even better: It now maps articles from the Chicago Journal's police blotter.

Get Yourself Some CultureCheap!

So youd like to take in more events, but ticket prices put too big a dent in your wallet. Weve already told you about See Chicago Dance, which is a great source for discounts. And you probably know about Hot Tix (for cut-rate theater), with its downtown, Skokie, and Tower Records locations. Good deals are also available via the League of Chicago Theatres Theater Thursday series. But you really should get yourself on the GoldStar Events mailing list if you want to maximize your half-price ticket access. (Its free.)

Money for Nonprofits

The Illinois Humanities Council is accepting applications for mini (up to $2,000, due 15 April) and major (up to $10,000, due 15 July) grants in support of humanities projects sponsored by nonprofit organizations. IHC is especially interested in funding projects that target new or historically neglected audiences. For more information, call 312-422-5580 or email ihc[at]prairie[dot]org. Applications are available here.

Yet Another Google Map, Readers' Edition

There are dozens of libraries in Chicago. Need to know which is closest to you?

Historical Googling

If you haven't downloaded Google Earth and looked at downtown Chicago in 3D, you should. But Chicagoans are extending and improving the system too--local blogger Atul has created a bunch of interesting overlays based on historical data on his site at Toolness. Internal GB testing revealed a little wonkiness on the Mac but generally postive results. (If you know any others like this, let us know!)

Crime On Your Desktop

For those of you with Macs, there's a new Dashboard widget that gives you a Chicagocrime.org feed for whichever block you choose.

Crimewatch Chicago

Hypervigilant Mac users have a new way to access chicagocrime.org: a handy Dashboard widget. (Previously: the Time Out Chicago widget.)

Money for Nonprofits

The Illinois Humanities Council is accepting applications for mini (up to $2,000, due January 15) and major (up to $10,000, due February 15) grants in support of humanities projects sponsored by nonprofit organizations. IHC is especially interested in funding projects that target new or historically neglected audiences. For more information, call 312/422-5580 or email ihc[at]prairie[dot]org. Applications are available here.

Mapping Knowledge

This site may bear the title Chicago Libraries Map, but it's got much more, including museums, universities and theaters, all helpfully linked to official web pages.

Eliminating Old Computer Equipment

Working on model similar to the very successful Working Bikes, some local computer types have gathered to take old computers and rebuild them for people who need 'em. Calling themselves Free Geek Chicago, they also recycle the parts they can't use, so nothing is truly wasted.

Hilarious Water Cooler Conversation

Hey, has your employer violated basic workers' rights, exported jobs overseas, or otherwise been naughty? I bet you'd love to know. Now here's a useful tool to help you do that: the AFL-CIO's "Job Tracker." Currently, 180 Illinois firms are reported as having violated the National Labor Relations Act. Wow your coworkers!

New virtual community for Chicago artists

The Department of Cultural Affairs has launched a nifty online smorgasbord of info for artists called Chicagoartistsresource.org. It includes articles, bios, forums, funding information, and job listings. Right now there's a detailed guide to buying and renting space called Square Feet Chicago, but a searchable spacefinder is in the works. And of course local artists' works are showcased throughout the site.

More Money for Nonprofits

The Illinois Humanities Council is currently accepting applications for mini- (up to $2,000) and major (up to $10,000) grants in support of humanities projects sponsored by nonprofit organizations. IHC is especially interested in funding projects that target new or historically neglected audiences. For more information, call (312) 422-5580 or email ihc[at]prairie[dot]org. Applications are available here.

Earthquake Relief

PakistanEarthquake.us is a locally run clearinghouse of information on fundraisers, charity organizations, news and photos relating to the earthquake in Pakistan and India. The site's creator, Mohammad Asim, lost several family members in the disaster. (Thanks, Leo)

Help For Not-For-Profits

An excellent resource: one of the challenges of running a not-for-profit is the headaches of the law: registration with the state, liability, etc. The local organization Community Economic Development Law Project offers legal advice to burgeoning entrepreneurs, especially in areas like job-training programs or affordable housing. They are also offering a workshop on creating your not-for-profit business plan on Oct 28th. Think you don't need a business plan? Read on to find out why it might be a good idea and register.

Are you an artist? Do you need money?

The City's Community Arts Assistance Program (CAAP) is offering grants of up to $1000 to artsy individuals and organizations. Applications for 2006 are due December 1, 2005. And if the thought of an application squelches your creative juices, then go to one of the many application-filling-out workshops they offer. Get details here. And oh yeah, you gotta live in the city and make less than $100,000 per year. NOTE: God told me to tell you that if you are an individual artist making $100,000 and you squeeze some artist making $2000 per year out of this grant, you go to immediately to hell.

Boutique Buzz

Have you ever found yourself wondering just how many cool hip boutiques you're missing? I have. I know they're out there, but I just can't keep up on the shopping scene. Lauren Amerine of Isabella Fine Lingerie and the Killswitch Collective created Boutique Buzz. This site tells you which shops are in each city, but also has a small page devoted to each one. So if you don't have time to shop by foot, but want to stay local, you can. Or if you're lucky enough to be a visitor here, you'll be able to map out your shopping travels. Don't be embarrassed, we all do it.

Chicago's Not For Tourists

When I first moved to Chicago the Not For Tourists map and cityguide helped me to quickly understand the neighborhood divisions, where the El passed through them, what kind of amenities were contained within them, and the general vibe of each 'hood-- it was like Cliffs Notes for living in Chicago! Turns out the folks at NFT have been busy: last week they released their 2006 Chicago guide, relaunched their website, put up all of their maps as free PDF downloads, and are throwing a free launch party at the Darkroom. Don't say they never gave you anything.

Renting Right

Today's Fuel, which asks about landlord nightmares, has prompted stories involving prostitutes, multi-year lawsuits and omnipresent roaches; one even culminates in the succinct wish "Hopefully this guy will die in a motorcycle accident or something." As it happens, our question was inspired by this thread on Ask MetaFilter that features its own horrific tales of dealing with property management. Between these two discussions, a couple of potentially useful resources have been mentioned: a summary of the city's Landlord and Tenant Ordinance [PDF] and the discussion forums at apartmentratings.com and Craigslist.

Shelter After the Storm

Two local programmers have created KatrinaShelter.com, one of several sites helping coordinate offers of shelter to victims of Hurricane Katrina. The site features an interactive GoogleMap of shelter offers nationwide; as of this writing, there were 18 listings in Illinois — if you've got space, sign up here.

Walk the neighborhood without having to step outside

Since Google Maps launched earlier this year, the competition in the online mapping world has been pretty slim. However with the recent beta launch of Amazon's A9 maps, things are starting to heat up. A9 maps has integrated the BlockView Images from their Yellow Pages into their new mapping site, allowing you to "walk up and down the block" through street level photos. Google's satellite maps might be a lot of fun to play with, but when you can't remember the name of that bar with the outdoor seating around Damen & North, seeing this will help you a lot more than this.

Crime en route

Adrian Holovaty keeps adding features to chicagocrime.org, and he's just announced a doozy: a route mapper. As a potential use, Holovaty offers the example of tracing your trip home from the El; the tool might also be handy for checking out running or dog walking routes. The site continues to lead the way in useful and intuitive geomapping of data, which is why it's been nominated for a Batten Award for interactive journalism. Congratulations and good luck, Adrian!

Rate that place

As the second major moving day in Chicago grows closer (October 1st), those looking for apartments might want to check out some apartment ratings.

More Google Earth fun for Chicago

Because Google Earth continues to astound, Atul from Toolness has some neat Chicago overlays from a sociological and historical vantage. One of the neatest ties in with the GB Book Club's current book read, Heat Wave: "I initially set up this overlay so I could more easily relate to some of the concepts covered in Heat Wave, which in one chapter makes frequent references to these community areas."

Google Earth Chicago

It only took some time before mods would appear specific to Chicago for Google Earth (have you played with it yet? Fascinating time-sucking fun!). Sam Perkins-Harbin has created a few interesting overlays such as the CTA, Chicago Weather and Chicago Traffic. Get them at his site.

Smart Women Read

For all that I bemoan my existence at the U of C, this is something I'd actually like to know more about. Rising fourth-year student Agraja Sharma has put together A Woman's Guide to the University of Chicago (site not yet updated), a compilation of resources by and for female students. Not only does the group of students plan to become a registered organization, they also want to publish an updated version of the guide every two years. A practical, as opposed to philosophical, approach to women's issues? This gives me hope.

Free headset

I'm sure you know that it's now illegal to talk on a cellphone without a headset while you're driving. But it's possible that you haven't been able to get your hands on a headset, or maybe you'd just rather spend that money on something else. Thanks to FreeHeadset.org $3.94 will pay for the shipping of your free headset to anywhere in the US and Canada. They're based in San Diego, and Dood, they're trying to make the roads safer.

Google Maps Meets Chicago Bike Shops

Here's a neat example of the power of Google Maps - all of the bike shops in Chicago overlaid onto Google's map of the city.

You're Breaking Up

My cellphone has been flakey lately. I'm having all sorts of issues with service, and spots that didn't used to be drop-out zones suddenly are. It's partly the phone dying, but the Wall Street Journal reports that some cellular companies are letting their networks degrade in order to push customers to newer systems. If there are spots you know always kill your calls, submit them to the DeadCellZones.com database, which tracks bad spots in Chicago and other cities.

In the interest of public safety

On the heels of chicagocrime.org et al., Harper Reed has created a mapping application that locates sex offenders in Chicago who are registered with the Illinois State Police. He encourages you to read the ISP's disclaimer, which, paraphrased, warns that the information is historical, makes no claims about possible recidivism, and should not be used to harass, threaten, etc. (I point that out because, well, I grappled for a long while with whether it was right to post this at all.)

Crime on the Map

If you've ever tried to use the Chicago Police Department's Citizen ICAM, you know what a lousy interface it is. Fear not, citizen, for chicagocrime.org is here! The site takes the info from ICAM and puts it into an easily searchable -- by crime type, street, date, district or location type -- along with a Google Map for more clear reference. Now you can really see what's happening in your neighborhood.

Google Maps, twice mashed

In the past month, we've told you about lots of ways to hack the Google Maps: apartment hunting, CTA trip planning, and, in a special 2-for-1 post, tagging your Flickr photos and tracking local traffic. But maybe you found it all just a bit too intimidating. Never fear: an article from today's Wired News makes getting in the GMaps game a little less scary with lots of testimonials and pictures. (Kinda like Friendster. Only not.)

"Somebody like you"

The AP profiles efforts by the Broadway Youth Center to assist local transgender youth in this article. The Center is sponsored by the Howard Brown Health Center and other organizations, and the consensus among the clients Martha Irvine interviews is that the support of friends in a similar situation helps. A lot.

Heard It Through the VINELink

Wanna see when your babydaddy is being released? Need to know when your stalker gets parole? Check for yourself on VINELink, a new online search site that allows you to "check the custody status of your offender." Starting in July, users will be able to check court dates, too.

How much was that bungalow on the corner?

If you're in the market for buying a house or condo, one incredibly useful too is the Trib's home purchase price database. It lets you narrow your search to neighborhood, zip code, even city blocks. (Also handy if you're nosy.)

Recycle Your Batteries

The city has started a new battery recycling program in an effort to keep them out of landfills. Drop your dead batteries off at any Walgreens or public library -- there's a list of locations on the linked page.

Looking to move

Just in time for the big May 1st moving day: a new site uses Google Maps to locate Craigslist listings for a number of cities, Chicago included. Both apartments and condos are mapped out. [via TMN]

Aerial Maps of Chicago

In spring of 2004, the city did a fly-by and took low-level shots of the whole city. The level of detail is astonishing: when blow up to a super-high resolution, I could see the outline of the flower beds in my backyard. Wrigley Field is there, as is Sears Tower. Of course, some of the older industrial sites are great too. (via westnorth)

Dance the Night Away

On any given night, someone is dancing in the city -- and you can join in. Chicago Dance News collects info on dance events around Chicagoland, and has links to all the local dancing newsletters, from Ballroom to Polka.

Where You Live

CityNews Chicago bills itself as a "community information technology and neighborhood early warning system" on housing in the city. Type in an address and get property info for it, or search for property statistics on the neighborhood or zipcode of your choice. For extra fun, head to Google's new Maps beta and find the place you searched for on their map.

Chicago Free Wireless

Chicago FreeFi is an ever-growing compendium of free wireless "hot spots" in the city and suburbs. They've also got a map of free wifi locations within the city. Worth checking out if you're looking for a place to hang out with your computer.

Early Chicago

Amateur and professional historians now have a place online to deposit their wealth of information about our fair city: EarlyChicago.com, an outgrowth of a self-published book on the history of Chicagoland prior to 1835. The site contains an encyclopedia, maps, listings of monuments and a chronology that somewhat humorously starts with the Big Bang. Here's a Tribune article on how the book and site came about.

Record Store Reviews

Looking for a good record store? Look no further than RecordStoreReview.com. They've got a listing of nearly every shop in town (including a couple that no longer exist: Crow's Nest RIP), with customer reviews for most.

796-9600 from 312, 630, 708, 773, or 847

Namefinder, the phone line that you call to find out the listed name and address associated with any phone number in the Chicago area, is ending on February 7. SBC is shutting the service down because of outdated equipment, not because services like Google Phonebook are rendering it obsolete. Chicago police detectives are airing the most complaints about losing the service.

New Job in 2005

Are you looking for a new job in 2005? For the 19th year, the professional career counselors at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. will be offering free job search and career advice on December 29 and 30. Call their hotline at 312-332-5790 or email them at callin{at}challengergray.com between 9am and 5pm. Of course, this is the same firm that brags that they "founded outplacement." Um, yeah.

Just CHIL

"Chil.us examines Chicago's status as a global city. The current condition of the Chicago Megalopolis is revealed with maps, diagrams and statistics." An incredible collection of info about our city, beautifully presented by UrbanLab. [Via Fueled By Coffee]

Greenmaps of Chicago

Yahoo maps and their ilk are a useful resource, but not too effective when you want to walk or bike to a place. They provide little idea of how cultural attractions, transit stops, or bike parking integrate with the street network. There is a global project to build maps that do this - the Greenmap project. Chicago's Greenmap has a head start and has a few maps already out there - well known neighborhoods such as Chinatown, Wicker Park, and Rogers Park (which is incorrectly linked on the site).

Recycle Used Computers

Who doesn't have a box -- or even a whole closet -- full of used computer stuff? Don't throw it away! Computers, monitors, cell phones, etc. contain toxic chemicals like chromium, lead, mercury, and more. Check out this list of local businesses and recyclers from the National Recycling Coalition. They'll see that your old equipment get reused, remarketed, or safely recycled.

Prospecting property

A new study tracks the ten "hottest" zip codes in terms of real estate growth for major metropolitan areas. Oak Park leads Chicago's list; cross-reference it with a zip code map for a more clear summary.

Local Info

Care to try Chicago's new home-town search engine? Info.com recently relocated here from London, and Sun-Times tech reporter (and occasional GB photo contributor) Howard Wolinsky says it rivals Google in power.

Pets Are Worth Saving

Did you know that spaying or neutering your pet increases its life expectancy? How about the fact that a female cat and her children can produce 420 thousand offspring in just seven years? PAWS Chicago is the largest local humane society, offering a no-kill alternative to the city's pet overpopulation problem. Operating for over seven years, PAWS supplies an incredible service to dog and cat owners throughout Chicagoland with their Little Village-based Lurie Family Spay/Neuter Clinic. Realizing that surgery is the only way to control unwanted breeding, the clinic helps pet owners afford the procedure by subsidizing it dramatically, and even making it free for low-income families.

Global Chicago

The Chicago Council on Foreign Relations has created GlobalChicago.org, a site intended to "raise awareness of the various global connections that exist in Chicago, improve communication and cooperation among internationally-minded groups, enhance Chicago's global profile, and help Chicagoans respond effectively to the challenges of globalization." Wow. Of particular interest is the site's event calendar.

What's the most crime-ridden district?

Depends on what kind of crime you mean? The Chicago Police Department has several different reports in pdf form that you can download to view. Sure, they're just numbers, but they're pretty easy to understand. Of course if you don't know which district is which, this page will help you determine the police commissioner for that district (sometimes with photos), give you a map of the area, and even provide you with neighborhood alerts. It's a good way to keep an eye on what happens in your 'hood that doesn't make it into the news.

Knowing is half the battle

The Chicago Police Department created the Citizen ICAM to permit Chicago residents to search their database of reported crime. ICAM is short for Information Collection for Automated Mapping. The CPD wants you to understand that a reported crime isn't the same as a confirmed crime. Legal disclaimer not withstanding, it's a good resource.

Wanna buy a home?

But the man (and a lack of cash reserves) keeping you down? Maybe the Neighborhood Housing Services can help you out. Not only do they provide loans to people who are interested in living in a mid-to low-priced neighborhood, but they also offer free classes so you know exactly what home ownership entails. They can also help you if you're facing foreclosure or if you need help repairing your home.

Near-North Sexual Assault

Today I heard about a sexual assault that occurred around midnight on Sunday night on Racine near Armitage. To verify the story, I called the 18th District police headquarters, who then passed me on to the neighborhood CAPS office. I spoke with an Officer Wong there, who verified the story. The woman was allegedly dragged into an alley off Racine and assaulted by a man with a knife. There has been no community alert issued, however, since, according to the officer I spoke with, this was a single occurrence, and no description of the attacker is available from the victim. I encourage everyone to be aware of the dangers of walking alone at night, to keep in touch with your neighborhood Police Department, and to even take a self-defense class, like this one at Chimera or this one at Impact, or any that comply with these guidelines.

Chemo cap

Don't put away those needles! (I'm talking knitting, not hypodermic.) Just 'cause it's hot out, and just 'cause you don't have air conditioning doesn't mean you should just put away your needles and not make anything until it gets cold again. There're tons of places with A/C in this city where you can sit and knit and have a refreshing iced beverage and make a cool hat for a chemotherapy or burn patient. Headhuggers has free patterns and they need lightweight, cotton hats for adults and cool hats for kids.

Chicago on Wikipedia

One of the niftiest things on the internet is the Wikipedia. It's a free open source (meaning you can add to and edit information!) encyclopedia. Since it's open source, it's kept up-to-date in real time. Chicago's entry is a nice neat nutshell that gives one a good overview of the city. At a glance it tell you about the history, geography, novels sets in Chicago, companies based here and much, much more. The best part? If you feel it's missing something, just go ahead and add your information. Power, in the hands of the user. Related: What is a Wiki?

Flash Flood Fact Sheet

With so many storms and flash floods in the area, the Chicago chapter of the American Red Cross has posted some great information about what to do, and what not to do on the roads during a flash flood, and how to reduce potential damage to your home. You can also make donations to the Red Cross and volunteer to help out folks in Des Plains and Gurnee who haven't seen the end to their flooding problems.

YahooWiFiMaps

YahooMaps now offers the ability to search for WiFi hotspots (at least those using Intel's wireless technology). One question about the Chicago map, though: what's up with the shantytown listed at Erie and Fairbanks?

Muddy Waters

Yesterday government officials proudly showed off the Illinois River sediment that has been arriving from East Peoria to serve as topsoil for a south lakefront park. The river mud was deposited at the old U.S. Steel South Works site, near East 87th street. The plan is for the Mud-to-Parks project to turn the former industrial site into a fertile park. About 105,000 tons of sediment will be placed on top of the slag field to create new parklands.

Chicago Women in Trades

If you're tired of working in the pink collar ghetto and want to work with heavy tools and machinery, then the Chicago Women In Trades might be just what you're looking for. They've got four meetings in May for women who might be interested in changing careers. If you think you wouldn't be using your brain if you had a construction job, this list of learned skills will prove you wrong.

Clear Sky Clock

Wondering whether you'll be able to see the stars? Check the Chicago Clear Sky Clock. Designed for use by amateur astronomers, the clock shows a prediction of sky conditions for the area over the next two days. You can even get a mini version of the map to put on your own site, like this:

Rating the Judges

Wondering more about the long list of judges on the ballot tomorrow? The Chicago Council of Lawyers offers their recommendations (in Word or PDF but no html).

Call to Protect

Did you get a new cell phone recently? Or maybe you have a bag of cell phones that you don't know what to do with. There's nothing wrong with them, they're just. . . not cool anymore. Well, Call To Protect is willing to take them all off your hands. They'll then be refurbished and given to domestic violence victims who need phone access or sold to raise money for domestic violence prevention programs. There are plenty of drop-off places in Chicago. Alderman Vi Daley is the only alderman who is participating in the program.

[un]scene

[un]scene is a...heck, why don't I just post what they wrote? "[UN]SCENE is a functional urban guide that celebrates the less mainstream, more innovative establishments in your urban area. Working directly with this dynamic website and music CD's, it enables people to navigate through the city's streets, seeking out the most interesting commercial and cultural hot spots. One in a series of urban guides, [UN]SCENE promotes those who continue to push all that is unique in contemporary American culture." Not bad and useful, but could be better designed.

Add your own

Add Your Own is a new community site where the success depends on you, the user. It's nifty with just the essentials, reminiscent of Craigslist in it's utilitarian style. The Chicago listings are looking a little slim. I love that there's a Restrooms section as well as a Coffee Shops section too. Go now! Fill 'er up!

Noise Chicago

Another show resource, this time from the folks at No-Nothing Rock, which features some of ther goodies. Noise Chicago is a database of shows in the city, moreso of the independent variety. The site has a list of all shows happening on the day you visit, with a recommended list on the side.

Costumes

Speaking of Halloween, if you haven't figured out what you're going to wear yet, you'd better hurry. To help you pick out the perfect disguise, here's a list of costume shops in Illinois.

Local Calls

If you have SBC phone service but don't subscribe to their "saver pack," any call you make outside a 15-mile radius of your house will incur extra charges. This could add up quickly if you're using a dial-up Internet connection outside that range. Joe Chellman did some digging and found SBC's Local Call Tool, which gives you a list of prefixes within your range.

City Babes

For the city-dwelling mother-to-be, Urban Baby Chicago is a comprehensive directory to resources in and around the Chicago area. Whether you're looking for an obstetrician, maternity clothes, where to buy organic baby food or baby-friendly cultural attractions, this is the site for you. Urban Baby also includes message boards so you can meet other urban mommies.

What's that bug?

Is there a bug in your garden you want to identify? The U of I extension site allows you to search area pests by name and picture, or where they appear: produce vs. flowers or trees, for example. The site also offers a list of area U-picks, where you can harvest your own fresh produce.

Kiss My K9

If you only insist on eating the freshest, highest quality food you can find, why do you insist of feeding your pet that crap you get at the grocery store? It must be because you've never been to Kiss My K9 in Evanston. It's okay, they've only been open a week. Antonia Robbins started her business because she felt like her pets weren't getting the care they deserved. Besides a variety of food and pet supplies, she also offers pet-sitting (licensed by the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters), dog-walking, and doggie beach field trips. If you'd like to try their food but don't want to go all the way to Evanston, she'll deliver your food and supplies for free.

Young Non Profit Professionals Network

If you work for, or would like to work for, a non profit in the Chicago area and are a bit on the younger side, you may consider joining the Young Non Profit Professionals Network. This group meets monthly for dinner and drinks at area establishments to meet each other and share resources, job leads, and information with each other. They also host many seminars that run the gamut from "When to expect a raise" to "Building your artistic portfolio".

Crime Stats by Location

So our fair city has the highest murder rate in the country, and Daley's going to do something about it. In the meantime, if you want to see how bad it really is, check out the Trib's crime database. [Trib. login: gapers/gapers]

Sex Offender Database

It may be useful to you: The Chicago Police Department Registered Sex Offender Database Search. Leeeengthy.

Kinko's: 99c eco prints

Yesterday I was about to write off Kinko's as what is wrong with corporate America until I walked into their store at Clark and Wellington to print some 11x17 full colour posters when I found out that they are no longer $3.29 but 99c and printed on eco-friendly recycled paper to boot. I jumped on a G4 and printed away. Just a hat tip if you're interested in getting some quick and cheap color posters.

Free STD and HIV testing

Be safe, get tested: The Chicago Department of Public Health offers free testing, treatment and other services related to STDs and HIV at a number of clinics throughout the city. Call 1-800-AID-AIDS or refer to the Department's site for additional information.



Clinics are located at:

Englewood
641 W. 63rd Street
(312) 747-8900

Gunnar
4958 W. Madison
(773)378-3900

Lakeview
2861 N. Clark
(312) 744-8829

Mile Square
2045 W. Washington
(312) 413-8000

Near South Side
530 E. 31st Street
(312) 747-0184

Roseland
200 E. 115th Street
(312)747-2817

Uptown
845 W. Wilson
(312)744-7533

West Town
2418 W. Division
(312)744-5464

 

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