Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Monday, June 24

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Northwestern is opening a "new space" in San Francisco featuring joint programming from the Medill School of Journalism and McCormick School of Engineering.

Tickets on Your Phone

TodayTix, a mobile app for discounted theater tickets, just launched in Chicago.

Ultrafast Internet

Google is exploring bringing its gigabit Google Fiber internet service to Chicago and LA.

Ventra on Your Phone

The new Ventra app launches today on Android and iOS, letting you use your account on Metra in addition to CTA and Pace. Can't wait to hear what new insanity awaits.

Like Uber, but for Dogs

Wag is an app that allows you find professional dog walkers in your neighborhood. It recently launched in Chicago.

Find an Event

Next Wednesday, Nov. 18, is GIS Day. There are a few local events, including one hosted by Cook County ...on Nov. 17.

Funding Chicago Tech

We keep hearing that Chicago's tech scene is suffering from a talent drain and lack of venture capital. The first half of that argument is questionable, and the second half is also weak -- and getting weaker.

Don't Go Chasing Unicorns

David Heinemeier Hansson, cofounder of Basecamp -- which just launched a brand new version -- writes about why the San Francisco VC dance may not be best for everyone.

Turn Your Car into a Bus

Uber is rolling out UberPool, a fee-based carpooling service, in Chicago in the coming weeks. That'll come in handy once rideshares are allowed at the airports.

Lost in the Cloud

Local podcast Guy Friends is a poster child for the DMCA-related problems at SoundCloud.

Your Local Unicorn

Uptake, a predictive analytics startup founded by Groupon's Brad Keywell, raised $45 million in investment, making it a rare "unicorn" -- Silicon Valley speak for $1 billion valuation -- in the Midwest. Of course, unicorns aren't so rare these days.

Trading Up

Chicago's luster as a trading center has faded as commodities, options and futures have gone digital, but we're on the rise as a treasury bond market.

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.

Keep Schools Connected

Spring is shutting down its WiMax network in the coming weeks in favor of LTE -- causing schools and libraries to lose access to affordable internet service, a lawsuit alleges.

Learn Music by Video

SoundSlice just launched SoundSlice Lessons, a platform for musicians to offer courses in the instrument, musical genre or songbook of their choice.

Hot Dog!

After a long campaign, the hot dog emoji arrived on iPhones today, along with many others. Superdawg was, as you can imagine, overjoyed.

Prime Now Now Free

Amazon's Prime Now service, which delivers purchases to your door within two hours, is now free for orders over $35.

Bookmark for the Primary

Chicago startup BallotReady hopes to improve election turnout through comprehensive online voter guides.

Documenting the Attacks

Amy Guth has launched a Kickstarter campaign to produce a documentary about women an online harassment. [via]

What to do with that Library Science Degree

Beyond the Stacks, a new podcast about interesting jobs in library and information science, kicked off with an interview with Gemma Petrie, a user experience researcher at Mozilla and former GB contributor.

Weaving the Future

The just-announced Wove Band features an e-ink display that wraps all the way around your wrist. Skokie-based Polyera says it'll be out in 2016.

Tech on the Streets

Backchannel provides more details about the City's Array of Things, which will launch in 2016 thanks to new funding from the National Science Foundation. (Follow it on Twitter.)

Tracker Free Since Forever

The Deck ad network, run by our friends and softball teammates Coudal Partners, updated their privacy policy to reflect the new ad-blocking reality. FWIW, we don't track you, either, although a couple of services we use may.

Better Than a Pat on the Back

TipYourself is a Chicago-based startup aiming to help people save money and celebrate personal achievements by, well, tipping themselves.

More Things Arrayed

The University of Chicago will get $3.1 million from the National Science Foundation to further expand its "Array of Things" project, which will install sensors measuring everything from temperature and light to pedestrian traffic around the city.

A Funny Little App

Got an idea for a fun app or web project? Comedy Hack Day Chicago, being held Oct. 3-4 at Cards Against Humanity's offices, is the perfect place to develop it.

Doing Brunch

New messaging app Brunch is striking out from Chicago's practical startup scene to make a big play.

Reply All

Chicago-based email "executive assistant" Wordzen just released GMass, a mass email system for Gmail.

Data Dump

Who knows what's buried in your old computer's hard drive, but if you donate it to FreeGeek they'll wipe the memory clean and use the gear for good.

Tech Unicorns

Local startups AvantCredit and Raise Marketplace may be on a path towards valuations of $1 billion or more, according to the New York Times.

Starting Up

While Chicago continues to grow in popularity as a startup hub, a focus on fast-scaling tech businesses may also contribute to a relative lack of diversity in the sector, writes Katherine Raz.

Taken for a Ride

It didn't take long for activists and police critics to hijack CPD's hashtag-based "tweetalong."

Growing Silicon Prairie

Some entrepreneurs think Midwestern tech skepticism actually leads to more sustainable businesses focused on long-term growth.

Try a Different Desk

Deskpass is a new service from Desktime that lets you try multiple coworking spaces for a low monthly rate. Leo Burnett's design department is trying it out.

Passing the Robot On

HitchBOT needs a ride through Chicago on the latest leg of its trip across the country that relies on the kindness of strangers.

Amazon Delivers

Amazon's PrimeNow local delivery service is now available in Chicago -- but only in the ZIP codes 60614, 60610, 60654, 60622 and 60642. Two-hour delivery is free, one-hour delivery costs $7.99.

New Heights

Gramovox's Kickstarter campaign for the Floating Record raised over $1 million so far, more than any other Chicago campaign.

Taxing the Cloud

Streaming services like Netflix and Spotify are nine percent more expensive in Chicago due to new taxes imposed by the City.

Timmys for Techies

Tech in Motion's 1st Annual Timmy Awards recognize the best workplaces and managers in the professional sector.

Text a Hot Dog

Nearly a year after Blackberry users got a hot dog emoji, the symbol is being added to Unicode 8.0 and will debut on your iPhone or Android later this year. (Previously.)

A Bulk Transportation River Odyssey

Ever wondered what it looks like when a a 730' bulk carrier ship navigates from Lake Michigan to a destination down the Calumet River? Wonder no more.

Real Bionic Man

A Chicago man is testing out a bionic leg he can control with his thoughts.

Betting on a Tech Boom

Property investors are betting heavily on Chicago's future as "Silicon Prairie."


This year's Techweek100 (which actually includes 164 people) highlights innovators from Chicago-area companies, and includes more gender diversity than past years.

Three 360° Videos from The Grid

Today GB's documentary video series, The Grid, features three 360° videos shot with a special six-camera rig. The videos, which let you point the "camera" in any direction, are about the April 28th demonstration at the CPD headquarters, droning in the Chicago Park District and the Art Institute's recent MFA show.

Check Your Passwords

Thousands of hackers came to an undisclosed location in Chicago for the THOTCON convention, although the majority were "white hat" hackers working in technology security.

Techweek's New Leader

Entrepreneur Katy Lynch is taking over as the new CEO of Techweek, almost a year after the event faced criticism for using sexy images of women to promote its events.

Time Ran Out

A Chicago-based Kickstarter for the thinnest watch ever still hasn't shipped two year after earning more than $1 million, enraging its backers raising the possibility of lawsuits.

Silicon Prairie

A growing number of startups and developments like the soon-to-open digital manufacturing hub made Chicago one of the fastest-growing cities for tech jobs in the country.

Extra Credit

Basecamp is offering free accounts for teachers.


The latest installment of Mortal Kombat appears to be even more gory than its predecessors -- but when is video game violence too extreme?

Investing in Women co-founder Genevieve Thiers is starting an investment fund to support women-run companies that are solving problems facing women.

Wrong Direction

Dunno if you heard, but Zayn Malik left One Direction this week, possibly due to meddling by Modest Management, Malik's manager. As a result, Chicago startup Modest Inc., no relation, got a ton of Twitter hate mail.

A Battery Powered Party

Remember the West Loop startup that's relaunching Aiwa? Its first product, the Aiwa Exos-9, is available for pre-order now.

Make Your Markr

Markr is an app that lets you add "visual hashtags" to your photos and explore what others have posted under that hashtag.

Beats by Aiwa

The name Aiwa once meant OK Japanese speakers. But a new startup in the West Loop has purchased the name and is attempting to bring the brand into the 21st century with a new bluetooth speaker.

Inappropriate Words with Friends

Cards Against Originality brings Cards Against Humanity to any device with a web browser.

Makerspace in Rogers Park

The Chicago Industrial Arts & Design Center is currently building out a makerspace in a three-story building which was the original home of Chicago Radio Laboratory (which eventually became Zenith Electronics). Interested makers will definitely want to check out the current Indiegogo campaign for membership and other perks.

Emanuel Mugging Report Missing?

The Sun-Times got a copy of the police report for the robbery of Mayor Emanuel's son in December, but the incident doesn't show up in the crime database on the City's data portal.

Feel Safer in the Backseat?

Uber is adding a panic button to its app in Chicago soon, a representative told the Sun-Times.

A Modest Launch

Modest, a mobile commerce platform startup led by former Threadless and Obama for America CTO Harper Reed, officially made it out of beta yesterday.

Kickstarter Class

The Entrepreneurial Product Development class at UIC, taught by FoGB Craighton Berman, is teaching industrial design students how to use Kickstarter as a platform for launching new products.

Break Chicago's Silicon Ceiling

Tech startup hub 1871 is looking toward version 3.0, but the launch of the proposed WiSTEM program (née FemTech) has been postponed. More than 200 women came to an event for Women Tech Founders, leading the Trib's Melissa Harris to opine 1871 needs to step up for women or the city should fund an organization who will.

Three Minutes to Midnight

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists will move the hands of the doomsday clock to 11:57pm thanks to threats to humanity posed by climate change and nuclear weapons.

YouTuber Helps Build a School

Steve Chen, one of the co-founders of YouTube, donated $1 million to the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy to help build an innovation center in the Aurora STEM school. The new center was named IN2 Steve and Jamie Chen Center for Innovation & Inquiry after its now-famous alumnus.

Open Data Gets Testy, Pimply

Chicago's commitment to open civic data and the community that's built up around it are an example of how to do it right in Next City's overview of "the open data movement's turbulent teenage years."

Heated Debate

It turns out infrared light from heat lamps on CTA platforms can't penetrate layers of clothing, but it's strong enough to warm up exposed skin.

13/600 Under 30

Forbes just published a "30 Under 30" list with 600 people or teams on it. Thankfully, Chicago Inno circled the 13 Chicagoans on the list.

Lending the Internet

Chicago Public Library will begin offering wireless hotspots this year to help close the digital divide.

Spartz Goes Viral

The New Yorker profiles Emerson Spartz, the founder of the Harry Potter community site Mugglenet who now has a collection of viral content sites to rival Cheezburger.

What We're Searching For

Chicago's top five Google searches of 2014 were Robin Williams, World Cup, iPhone 6, Ebola and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

CPD is Listening

The Chicago Police Department is using a controversial "stingray" device to monitor and mess with cellular calls by protestors.

Crowdfunding for Moms

Mumzy is a new crowdfunding platform specifically for mothers looking to start new projects.

GB Gift Guide: Techno-Gramophones

Perhaps you've always coveted Andrew Bird's awesome gramophone-style horn speakers from Specimen but couldn't afford the $2,400-and-up price tag. Well, Gramovox Bluetooth speakers, originally launched via Kickstarter, are just $399.

Shop Locally from Your Pocket

WeDeliver's Locally app lets you browse items from nearby stores that will deliver to your door.

Kickstart This Stuff

A picture frame for your Instagrams, split-section cast-iron pans, a documentary on modern burlesque and a movie app for kids are among the campaigns currently funding on GB's curated Kickstarter page.

Sensor in the City

Sensors strapped to streetlights monitoring things like temperature, light, and carbon monoxide are debuting in Hyde Park this month. (previously)

Leftover Apps

Zero Percent is a new app that helps restaurants and other businesses donate surplus food to food banks more easily.

Dine and Dash

The mobile app Dash makes it easier to pay and split the check at local restaurants.

Going Big

After announcing plans to sell off its suburban newspapers, Sun-Times Media's parent company will be debuting mobile-focused news portals for cities across the country.

Kickstart a Vision

A documentary on transgender faith leaders, an app for children's films from Facets, a 3D carving machine and the easiest cube puzzle ever invented are among the campaigns on Gapers Block's curated Kickstarter page.

Plenty of Bars

Chicagoans get the best cell service in the country on AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile, according to an industry group.

Gigabitting the City

AT&T announced plans to bring its ultra-fast broadband network to Chicago, which it claims can provide connections of up to 1 gigabit per second.

Check the Status of Your Airport

Reacting quickly to this morning's shutdowns, Jeff Lunt created Is Chicago Flying? as a resource for people trying to fly in or out of town today. No doubt it'll come in handy in the future as well.

Mapping the Data

Plenario is a new open platform for working with civic data, developed by former Chicago CIO Brett Goldstein and Charlie Catlett at the University of Chicago Computation Institute's Urban Center for Computation and Data. WBEZ talked with Goldstein about the project's goals and uses.

Time to Get Social

Social Media Week is next week, and the full schedule is up for your perusal.

Print Your Car

The first 3D-printed car was built and driven at the International Manufacturing Technology Show at McCormick Place this weekend.

Your New VentraPhone

Folks with Android phones running the 4.4 KitKat version of the OS can use the phone's near field communication capability to get on the CTA. [via]

Swapping Numbers for Good

Smart Chicago Collaborative is bringing together local people and organizations who use data for public good to document their impact and find ways they can work together.

☐ I Agree

U of C law professor Omri Ben-Shahar talks with NPR about why we sign but don't read terms of service agreements. [via]

"I'm 36. I'm almost dead."

Have a drink (of green tea) with Harper Reed.

Developers in the Park

Polymathic and Catalyze Chicago host Software <3 Hardware: A Makers' Field Day Sept. 7 in Humboldt Park, filled with fun techie games and challenges. Get $15 off tickets by using the code "gapersblock" on checkout.

Learn from Lessig

Net neutrality and intellectual property activist Lawrence Lessig is lecturing at U of C this fall, on institutional corruption.

More Blocks

Comcast is expanding its reboot of EveryBlock to Philadelphia, with plans to introduce the hyperlocal news site to several more cities in the near future.

Textbook Tech Deal

Chicago-based Packback Books digital textbook rental company has raised $1 million in angel investments, including some seed money from Mark Cuban on "Shark Tank" this spring.

Blackberry Hot Dog!

The campaign for a hot dog emoji (previously) is victorious! But only on Blackberry.

Taking it to the Next Level

Bit Bash is a free independent games festival created to spark interest in indie games locally and draw international attention to the growing scene.

Find a Free Spot

Meter Beaters is an iOS app that shows meter-free parking spaces in the city, primarily North Side and downtown. [via]

Cryptocurrency Conference

The North American Bitcoin Conference is in Chicago this weekend, and there's a free class for beginners that includes free bitcoins for attendees to get a feel for the cryptocurrency. [via]

Hashtag Solutions

Activists and residents are sharing ideas of how to curb violence in Chicago by posting to Twitter with #FixingChicago.

Studying the Flight of Birds

Augur, a new iPhone app by former GB contributor Felix Jung, turns Twitter into a fortune-telling device.

Emote Local

RedEye has some suggestions for Chicago-centric emojis.

Quantifying Life as Art

The Reader reviews an exhibition of personal data-based art at Elmhurst's art museum and the "life loggers" behind the works.

Measuring the City

Small boxes filled with sensors will soon provide real-time measurements of things like temperature, air quality, and noise levels in areas of the city.

Computers: the Fabric of Our Lives

Artist Jesse Seay shows you how to knit a working circuit board, allowing you to make wearable tech. [via]

Mean Streets

StreetScore, a project from the MIT Media Lab, assigns a perceived safety score to images from Google Street View. The Chicago map reveals some of its limitations -- such as Navy Pier and Buckingham Fountain getting low, dangerous scores.

No Such Thing as Nothing to Do

Hypelocal is a new app designed to help you explore the city beyond your usual bubble.

Watch Dogs' First Collar

The first man arrested in Chicago after he was identified by facial recognition software was sentenced to 22 years in prison for armed robbery, although questions remain about the technology's efficacy.

Windy Citizen Gets a Nice Postscript

Almost two years after the link-sharing site shut down, an ad design software that was a spinoff of the site was sold for over $25 million.

Black Tie Wrecking Ball

Techweek Chicago cancelled its Black Tie Rave after the group faced criticism for promoting the event using pictures of women in provocative poses.

Photo Bombed

Techweek Chicago is facing a barrage of criticism for using somewhat-sexy images of women to advertise a charity event, as the tech industry already faces scrutiny for its treatment of women. Techweek Chicago has apologized, saying they will host discussions about their promotions and diversity in tech. EDIT: Jacqui Cheng notes that Techweek should have learned their lesson six months ago when they were called out for having bikini models dance at their afterparty last year.

Next Stop: Red Planet

Three Chicagoans are in the running to be part of the first mission to Mars.

Legislative Lag

From Uber to Google Glass, legislators are unsure how to regulate new technologies without stifling innovation.

Watch Dogs IRL

YouTuber Devin Graham produced a real-life version of the upcoming Watch Dogs video game set in Chicago.

The City is Data

DePaul's journalism department's The Red Line Project has launched a data section.

Talking Together

Ad agency FCB Brazil helped its client CNA language schools create a platform for young Brazilians to practice English by video chatting with senior citizens in a Chicago rest home.

(Thanks, Dee!)

Red Camera Flag

Civil libertarians and the ACLU are concerned new traffic cameras giving CPD 360-degree views around the surrounding area could be used to monitor non-criminal activity.

Back Amazing Grace

Melissa Pierce is making a documentary about pioneering computer scientist Grace Hopper, and is currently fundraising on IndieGoGo to make it happen.

Hot Town = Crime in the City

Brian Keegan, a former Northwestern student now in Boston, crunched Chicago's crime numbers and compared them to such factors as temperature and the concealed carry law. [via]

A Touchdown for Science Kids

A weather balloon launched by students with the Adler Planetarium's Far Horizon program landed safely in Battle Ground, Indiana, after reaching 85,000 feet in its trip to near outer space.

Making Us Chicago

Polygon profiles videogame designer John Block and The Men Who Wear Many Hats about the game based on the city's violence that they're developing with kids from Chicago All Stars and Young Chicago Authors.

Watchdogs of Chicago

Although there's plenty of action and interesting play features shown in the trailer for the new videogame Watch Dogs, Chicago is the true star. (Thanks, @twpolk!)

Lots of Dick (Allen) Pics

The White Sox will be connecting with fans via Snapchat this season -- follow "whitesox." (Hopefully this is the only dick pic they send anyone.)

Join the Web

Google is hosting a series of Get Your Business Online workshops around the city for small businesses that don't currently have a web presence.

Get Drunk Fast

Too lazy to go to the liquor store? QwikerLiquor now delivers wine and booze from local shops to your door. [via]

Play it Again, Mac

Soundslice, Adrian Holovaty and PJ Macklin's app for learning tabs, now includes a sheet music player that syncs notation with real audio recordings. Way cool.

Making Space for Makers

The Southside Hackerspace Chicago is running an IndieGoGo campaign to finish building out its Bridgeport/Pilsen area studio.

Design, Cut & Print

Inventables CEO Zach Kaplan launched a new app this morning at the SXSW Interactive Festival. Easel is a free app that makes designing stuff to produce with a desktop 3D printer or milling machine quicker and easier.

Home as Hotspot

Comcast wants the wireless routers in your house to also provide a free public wi-fi signal for your neighbors.

Dirty Shirts? There's an App

Too busy to take care of laundry? For a fee, Dryv will pick up and drop off your laundry and dry cleaning. The service area is east of Western and from 290 up to Irving Park, so if you're south, west or far north, you're out of luck for now. [via]

Tech Styles

The Trib takes a look at local companies pioneering wearable technology: Central Standard Timing, Lunatik, and Drift Eyewear.

The Island of Technology

Goose Island will be the site of a digital manufacturing institute, funded in part by a $70 million federal grant.

Making the Heat List

Can the Chicago Police Department's crime prediction systems tell who's in danger of breaking bad -- or is it just computerized racial profiling?

CTA to Install 4G Service Underground

The CTA is moving forward with a plan to boost phone and data service by installing 4G service in the subway tunnels of the Blue and Red lines later this year. The infrastructure currently in place throughout the 24 miles of tunnel space between the two lines was installed in 2005.

Southside Neighborhood First To Try Ultra-High Speed Internet

The Woodlawn neighborhood may be the first to gain ultra-high-speed gigabit Internet access. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has "innovation zones" targeted for the service and those living near 61st Street to 63rd Street along Cottage Grove Avenue could be the first to begin the project in mid-March.

Play with Bike Data

Divvy has released a dataset of the first 750,000 bike rides, and wants you to make something with it. Entries in by March 11.

Signalling Basecamp

37signals just turned 15, and with the anniversary founder Jason Fried announced that the company is changing its name to Basecamp and focusing all its attention on its flagship product.

Guys Need Jeans Help Too

Chicago-based ZipFit Denim helps guys find the best fitting (high-end) blue jeans for their measurements.

A Reseller with Heart

Chicago-based Tix4Cause takes the usual ticket aftermarket model and adds a charity angle.

Moto's New Masters

Google is selling Motorola Mobility to Chinese computer manufacturer Lenovo for $2.91 billion. (Schaumburg-based Motorola Solutions, which split from Mobility three years ago, isn't part of the deal.)

Start Making Stuff

Chicago 1872, the hardware-oriented tech startup community, has changed its name to Catalyze Chicago and will open Feb. 17.

Beating Eiffel with Ferris

Adrian Holovaty thinks Chicago's tech scene needs to stop trying to beat Silicon Valley at its game, and instead excel at its own strengths -- such as bootstrapping.

Back on the Block

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

The Colonel as Quizmaster

The Tribune's new Tribune Trivia app draws from the paper's archives to serve up questions over a wide range of topics, both local and otherwise.

Tribune Trivia from Chicago Tribune on Vimeo.

EveryBlock Returns Thursday

Comcast switches neighborhood networking site EveryBlock back on this Thursday, RedEye reports.

Chicago Tech Real Talk

"I'm actually really tired of talking about how Chicago can be more like San Francisco," says Harper Reed in a Tribune interview. "What I want to know is how Chicago can be more Chicago, if Chicago is using its power to do great things." Amen.

Skilling Weather Game App

Now you can help Chicago meteorologist Tom Skilling battle the weather in a race against time. Tom Skilling's WGN Weather Challenge app, by Cubicle Ninjas, is available for free download in the iTunes app store.

Roving Curiosity aims to be a Pandora for learning, serving up Khan Academy videos and other educational content from across the Internet.

Smarten Up

If you're looking for a way to stretch your brain in the new year, Sneaky Smart is here to help with daily 5- to 10-minute lessons delivered by email.

Trib Adds to its Database

The Tribune Co. is buying Gracenote, the company that provides data on music, movies and more for iTunes and other services.

Incubating with the Board of Trade

The CBOT Building is undergoing a renovation and adding a startup incubator.

Bullshit Money for Classrooms

Cards Against Humanity used more than $100,000 in profits from its 12 Days of Holiday Bullshit project to go on a "classroom shopping spree" with, a site where you can fund projects in classrooms across the country. Maybe you should give a little, too.

"Chicago will never be Silicon Valley. That is a good thing."

The Economist sizes up the local startup scene.

Wait Less at an ER

ProPublica has created the ER Wait Watcher app, which gives users the average wait times at nearby emergency rooms. The app has data on Chicago hospitals and includes how many patients are likely to recommend the hospital.

Cash for Digital Gold

A South Loop man wants to open the Midwest's first ATM offering cash for bitcoins, a digital, unregulated currency.

How Old is That Building?

The Chicago Building Age Map shows you the oldest parts of the city, as well as what's new.

Chicago Building Age Map

A Symbolic Upgrade

Chicago/LA-based The Noun Project just added premium accounts, among other improvements.

Playing with the Pros

Former Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer now runs Overdog, a startup that lets fans play video games with pro athletes. (Thanks, Daniel!)

Radio's Not Dead

HearHere Radio hopes to reinvigorate radio through its Rivet iPhone app, which will deliver radio content based on where you are in the Chicagoland area -- leaving out traffic reports from two counties away, for instance.

Tech Hub Honcho

Chicago entrepreneur Howard Tullman will take the reigns at 1871, a co-working space that helps startups get started and sits at the center of Chicago's growing tech community.

Watch the City Online is a new subscription-based internet TV station featuring original content about Chicago.

Warehousing Startups

Add to the growing list of tech-oriented coworking spaces The Warehouse, backed by Lightbank, the VC firm that helped launch Groupon, and housed in the same building, the Montgomery Ward warehouse at Chicago and the river.

Opening the Municipal Code, created by the OpenGov Foundation, makes the city's municipal code Public.Resource.Org's easier to search and reference online. Here's Carl Malamud's speech introducing the project. [via]

The May Report Returns

The May Report, a newsletter on Chicago's tech scene published by eccentric journalist Ron May until his death this summer, has been relaunched by Ron's brother Paul.

Anonymous No More

Chicago hacktivist Jeremy Hammond was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to the politically-motivated hacking of a private intelligence firm in 2011.

Tech & Tacos

Dan Sinker turned to github to assemble Tacofancy, a taco recipe repository.


Mayor Emanuel announces commitment to double Chicago's tech economy and add 40,000 new jobs within ten years.

Yo Dawg, I Heard You Like Mashups

Mashup kings The Hood Internet have put their album FEAT up on MashupDJ for you to remix. [via]

CTO Steps Down

John Tolva, the City's CTO, is leaving the Emanuel administration Nov. 1.

Tech Hubub

With a preference for building practical products, Chicago tech companies raised more than $600 million dollars since the beginning of last year, and interest in "Silicon Prairie" startups seems to be on the rise.

Watching the Watch Dogs

Polygon takes an investigative look at Chicago's system of surveillance cameras, through the prism of Ubisoft's upcoming video game, Watch Dogs. (Read GB's past coverage of the CPD's blue light cameras.)

Down to the Wireless

A study found that AT&T's wireless network is the best in Chicago, while Sprint ranked last in calling, data, and texts.

A Series of Tubes

City CTO John Tolva has a plan to put Chicago at the forefront of the tech world. Think broadband in sewer lines, among other things.

Thought Partners

Michigan Avenue spoke to the planners behind Chicago Ideas Week about bringing together a community of big thinkers to take on the issues facing Chicago.

They Know We're All Watching

Jacqui Cheng reflects on her experience teaching 150 inner city kids about social media this summer, as part of Smart Chicago's Civic Innovation Summer -- and what it revealed about how kids use Facebook, Twitter, etc.

More Chicago Tech Charts

Built In Chicago has released its annual list of the city's top 100 digital companies. Compare with Crain's list of the top 50 people in tech.

Charting the Tech Stars

Crain's Tech 50 list is up.

Apple Picking Season

Another new iPhone, another scene on Michigan Ave. of people lining up to get it first.

Chicago Works for You

Today Smart Chicago launched a new website for residents to track service requests by ward.

Planning Chicago's Digital Future

A new Technology Plan released by the City aims to make Chicago the Seoul, South Korea of North America by encouraging universal Internet access, entrepreneurship, and government transparency.

Get TJ's Delivered

Grocery delivery service Instacart is expanding into Chicago, partnering with Trader Joe's. The company promises delivery in as little as an hour, which unfortunately means service is limited to within quick driving distance of a TJ's for now, but they plan to add Whole Foods, Dominick's and Costco soon.

Ride-share for Free

Uber's ridesharing service, UberX, is free this coming weekend, if you use the coupon code #CHILOVESuberX. There's also a bunch of other free stuff attached.

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.

Koch Bros. Buy Molex

The Koch brothers apparently decided that rather than buy the Tribune's newspapers, they'd just go pick up Lisle-based Molex, an electronics company, for $7.2 billion -- which means they'll soon make a little bit of nearly every computer you use.

Outfox the Cameras -- Maybe

The latest version of the Cobra iRadar iOS app has been updated with the locations of the 50 speed cameras around town.

This Machine Makes Music

Music Hack Day is an international day of banging technology together to make music. Chicago's effort is Sept. 21-22 (overnight) at Blue 1647; register now.

Hard Work Down the Toilet

Toilet Hackers is an international organization working to improve sanitation conditions in the developing world. There's a fundraiser this Thursday in Chicago; you can still show your support even if you can't make it.

Crowd-surfacing the News

NewsChicago is an experiment from the Tribune in using social media to highlight news.

Chicago Tech's Female Problem

For former GB contributor Katherine Raz and other women in Chicago's tech industry, it's not just a question of where are the women, but why aren't more getting involved?

Stomach-Turning Tech

Food Safety News reports on Foodborne Chicago, the app from SmartChicago that monitors Twitter for food poisoning (previously).

Casing Chicago

Need to protect your iPhone? There are a couple cool Chicago-themed cases on Etsy. (Samsung S4 users are in luck, too.)

Who's Lovin' It?

Chicago-based food journalist Josh Schonwald will be among those sampling the first lab-grown hamburger today.

Ebert Adds Voices

Chaz Ebert announced today the launch of a new Twitter account, @ebertvoices, that will tweet news, so as to separate that stuff from @ebertchicago and give Chaz room to "innovate" with the account as Roger requested.

Pay Tickets by Subscription

Milwaukee-based Ticket Ninja just launched in Chicago as a way for chronic parking ticket receivers to pay tickets automatically before late fees rack up.

All Your BasedGods Are Belong To Us

All the modern maniacs are playing Kanye Quest 3030, an RPG about Kanye West battling rapper clones in the future. Download it here.

Chicago gets SceneTap

The company behind SceneTap, a nightlife mobile app that gives you intel on the age, density and gender ratio of the crowd at bars near you, is moving from Austin to Chicago.

CPL's New Geeks in Residence

Public Good Software, a benefit corporation founded by Obama campaign vets, are setting up a pop-up office in the Harold Washington Library to give the public a hand as "geeks in residence," as well as upgrade CPL's website.

Hot WiFi in the Summertime

The Park District has installed free wifi at North Avenue, Osterman/Hollywood, Montrose, Foster and Rainbow beaches. Don't get sand between your laptop keys.

Leave a Message After A Tale of Two Cities

Max Temkin really doesn't like telemarketers. So when he was forced to have a business number, he came up with a novel solution. [via]

Books & Tech Mix Well

Gigaom's Signe Brewster thinks public libraries across the country should follow Chicago's lead and create maker labs.

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.

Beauty by iPhone

Pretty Quick calls itself a "personal beauty concierge," designed to help busy women take care of their looks.

Hire a Chef

Kitchensurfing is a site that helps you find a chef to cook for a dinner party, teach you how to make something, or put together a catering plan, based around your budget. It just launched in Chicago with a couple dozen chefs on board.

Making Things at CPL

The maker lab at the Harold Washington Library opened today. Jacqui Cheng at Ars Technica lets us know how it is.

No Boobs on Facebook

Facebook's sexual content restrictions affect artists and mothers alike.

"The View" on Your Phone, Etc.

Aereo, a gadget that lets you watch live broadcast TV online, will launch in Chicago in September.

Trib's Own Reddit?

The Tribune's apps team built a site where you can up- and downvote articles from the Trib and RedEye in a fashion similar to Reddit or the late, lamented WindyCitizen, as part of a Global Editors Network hackathon this week.

Chicago's New Data Chief

Mayor Emanuel nominated Brenna Berman to be the new Department of Innovation and Technology commissioner and chief information officer. She has been acting commissioner since Brett Goldstein, the city's first chief data officer, stepped down to take a fellowship at UofC's Harris School of Public Policy.

Tech Support

Ed Domain, publisher of the Chicago/St. Louis tech blog Techli, was in a head-on collision with a cab driver who was texting a couple months ago, and is suffering from serious injuries that prevent him from working. His sister has organized a fundraiser to help pay for an electric wheelchair and cover other medical expenses. (Thanks, Kathryn!)

Blackhawks by Phone

If you haven't found enough ways to celebrate the Hawks' win, you can now add free Blackhawks emoji to your iPhone.

RIP Ron May

Ron May, tech reporter and publisher of the eponymous May Report, has passed away, as first reported by tech blog on Twitter. May battled diabetes for years, and was hospitalized earlier this year in connection to his illness. He was 57.

Here's Ron trying to interview Harper Reed, then CTO of Threadless.

Ron May with Harper Reed of Skinny Corp & Threadless from The May Report on Vimeo.

Android vs. iPhone: a City Divided

Chicago has a history of segregation -- and it apparently extends to smartphone types too, to a certain degree. MapBox teamed up with Gnip and map designer Eric Fischer (previously: 1, 2) to map 3 billion tweets by phone brand and other variables. Start in the Loop and zoom out.

chicago map - iphone and android use

It's also worth checking out the maps of locals and tourists and languages used. [via]

Your Digital Photo Shoebox

PictureLife is a place to back up and organize all your photos from your phone, computer, etc. It was founded by Charles Foreman, who previously founded videogame design firm OMGPOP.

Scalp by iPhone

Ticket Scalpr is an iOS app that lets you buy or sell tickets based on proximity. Chicago-based company just launched here after a successful test in San Francisco.

Start Harder

The folks behind the Starter League app design and code school have launched Starter School, a nine-month "grad school for people who want to learn how to build software and start companies."

Monster Magnet

There's a 15-ton electromagnet on its way from New York to Chicago (OK, Long Island to Fermilab out in Batavia). You can follow the Muon g-2's progress online.

Libraries are Fab

So fab, in fact, that they're creating a free Fab Lab, due to open on July 8. In this case the "fab" stands for "fabrication" and will consist of a 3D printer, laser cutter, vinyl cutter, a milling machine and a variety of design software at the Harold Washington Library. Access will be free and open to the public. So renew that library card and get ready to make some fab things, Chicago.

Kickstarting a Fraud Case

Meanwhile, elsewhere on Kickstarter, a supposedly LA-based campaign for Kobe beef jerky raised suspicions with its too-good-to-be-true pricing. It was soon discovered to be an apparent fraud perpetrated by someone based in Chicago. It's since been suspended.

The Opposite of Apartment Finder

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

#RamonWOW Makes it His Business

Ramon DeLeon, who rose from delivery driver to franchise owner in his 28 years with Dominos Pizza, announced this week that he's moving on to focus on his customer engagement consultancy, which grew out of his masterful use of Twitter.

Hacktivist Pleads Guilty

Chicago activist hacker Jeremy Hammond pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in the Lulzsec/Antisec hacking case. He released a statement regarding his plea.

Hack the City

We're a week away from the National Day of Civic Hacking. Join the fun at the Adler Planetarium, 1871 and Cibola.

Hey, it's ...That Guy.

How well do you recognize your Facebook friends? WhoDat?, a new game from Doejo, tests you on it.

Your Seamless Hub for Food

Chicago-based GrubHub is merging with New York-based Seamless, creating an even bigger player in the food delivery biz. GrubHub's co-founder and CEO Matt Maloney will lead the combined company.

Fighting Cancer with a Cloud

The University of Chicago's Institute for Genomics and Systems Biology has launched Bionimbus, a secure, cloud-based computing system that will allow researchers to access and analyze cancer data.

Mason Out

Former Groupon CEO Andrew Mason is heading to San Francisco to start his next venture, he revealed in a blog post Thursday. He also said something about recording an album of business motivational music, but that was probably just the gin talking.

Kick Your Own Starter

Interested in doing a Kickstarter campaign? There's a Project Jam this Saturday where you can learn how. The session is full, but you can get on the wait list.

Train Super Tracker

The CTA's Train Tracker web app got a bunch of new features today -- including a map of where all the trains are right now.

Get in Another Car

SF-based Lyft is jumping into the already fairly crowded ride share market here.

Doughnut & a Ride

SideCar is giving away Glazed & Infused doughnuts with rides Friday morning.

Get Girls into Tech

Chicago Girls in Computing is working to "provide a friendly environment for high school girls in the city of Chicago who are interested in technology." They're raising money on Piggybackr to make it happen. (Thanks, Veronica!)

Lunch isn't Sitting Well

If you think you got food poisoning from that last taco, pad thai or whatever, fill out a report at Foodborne Chicago or tweet at @foodbornechi. Your case will be logged into the 311 system for the City to check out.

Profit in Milliseconds

Some traders are taking advantage of fraction-of-a-second delays between trades on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to predict which directions the futures markets are heading.

Book a Quick Bite

1871-bred startup TableSAVVY helps you land last-minute dinner reservations at a discount. It's partnering with Chicago magazine to allow readers to book straight from the reviews.

Chicago's Innovators

Crain's ranks Chicago businesses in terms of innovation with its new Eureka Index.

The Internet is Essential

Chicago will be a test city for a new digital literacy campaign that brings cheap internet and computers into low-income neighborhoods. It's a partnership with non-profit Connect2Compete and Comcast.

Bike with Your iPhone

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

Tweeting Around Town

Students at MIT and Northwestern studied the movements of 180,000 people in Chicago and other cities based on 37 million geotagged tweets.

Go Make Stuff

There's going to be a Mini Maker Faire at Schurtz High School on May 21. Apply by April 26 to be a part of it.

Speeding by on Streetview

Hyperlapse is a new bit of code by Teehan+Lax Labs that lets you create Google Streetview time lapse videos. A few examples: Marina Towers, Wacker Drive, the Kennedy into downtown and Wrigley Field.

Gaming the Tour

Keep this in your back pocket for when you've got to give out-of-towners a tour of the city: Stray Boots "gamifies" tours on your phone. The company just launched an Android app to go with the iOS version.

Birth of a Cellular Nation

The Verge talks with Marty Cooper, the man who invented the cellphone at Motorola in 1973.

Help Bike Spike Get Moving

Startup Three Man Rocket hopes to raise enough through their Kickstarter campaign to fund a gadget called Bike Spike that would allow bike owners to not only track their bike if it's stolen, but also alert loved ones if they have an accident. (It's on our curated Kickstarter page.)

Hitch a Ride

SideCar, a new app-based service that helps you find a ride to share, just launched in Chicago.

The Trib's Slow News Day was the slowest among major news websites in a recent study, taking nearly 17 seconds to load a page. By contrast, the BBC's website takes less than eight seconds to load, and takes less than three.

Put a Record On

The Reader has created an online jukebox to go along with its bar issue. If you've got a Spotify account, you can make a request.

The Man Behind the Soft Machines

U of C physics professor Heinrich Jaeger gets attention from Crain's for his work in soft robotics, inspired more by sand than science fiction.

Fight Zombies with Your iPhone

Map of the Dead, Doejo's zombie game (previously), is now available in the iTunes App Store.

Chicago SmartData for the Win

Chicago is one of five winning cities in the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge (previously) -- which means the city will receive $1 million to help build its SmartData Platform.

A New Way to Boost Our Bottom Line?

The Atlantic Cities features Chicago-based CityScan, whose ability to combine open data and LIDAR to detect violations of city codes could be a boon for the budget.

Hopefully You Like Your Search Recommendations

Our very own Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals says Google isn't liable for unflattering search results, so don't bother suing them if your name is associated with "E.D."

This Doesn't Square Up

Square has received a cease and desist notice from the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation. Here's the filing [PDF].

Zumplace to Live

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

Connecting with Art

The Art Institute now has free wifi in the galleries -- all the better to use the free tour app just released for iOS. All the better to tour the new Picasso and Chicago exhibit that opened yesterday.

The Factory is the Desktop

Are we in the midst of a third industrial revolution? Inventables CEO Zach Kaplan thinks we are, and that Chicago is poised to be at the center of it.

Free Wifi About to Cost

"Patent troll" Innovatio IP Ventures can go right on suing hotels, cafes and other places offering wifi, after a lawsuit by Cisco, Netgear and Motorola accusing the company of racketeering was thrown out last week.

Cut Through App Crap

Are you into civic apps? Sign up for SmartChicago's Civic User Testing Group, which will pay you to test this stuff out.

Say Goodbye to EveryBlock

EveryBlock has shut down, effective immediately. The news caught even its founder and former president by surprise. Poynter has more details, and Adrian Holovaty reflects on his blog.

Help Make a CTA App

Greater Good Studio is looking for feedback to help further develop their CTA app, which I interviewed them about last year. The next brainstorming session is Feb. 11.

Condo Start-up

Product development firm Polymathic is profiled in the Sun-Times.

Your (Semi-)local Patent Trollers

A "patent troll" is suing Adam Carolla's podcasting company for infringement of a patent on a "system for disseminating media content representing episodes in a serialized sequence." The patent is coauthored by a Chicago patent attorney.

Personal Audio, LLC has successfully sued Apple several times for infringing on its patent. Interestingly, Chicago's divine InterVentures is a footnote in another recent patent troll case -- one that was less successful for the troll.

Here's the podcast patent:

US Patent 8,112,504 by Gapers Block

DIY Train Tracker

Ever want to create your own CTA info display, like you've seen in some businesses around town? Now you can. [via]

Oops, Someone Has Been Naughty

And that someone is whoever at Chicago Public Schools mistyped an URL in an email to parents about standardized test scores, instead directing them to a private website about women's sexuality.

Clarity of Vision

Frequent Rearview photographer Noah Vaughn spotted auto-obscured faces of Martin Luther King, Jr., Barack Obama and others depicted in a mural at 407 S. Kedzie Ave. in Garfield Park.

View Larger Map

Tech Around the Block

BlockAvenue aggregates and shares data about communities block by block, but from a different angle from EveryBlock.

Dining by Technology

Yumbly is a new search engine for finding great food in Chicago.

Cataloging Chicago's Food Gardens

Two U of I researchers conducted an aerial photography assessment of food gardens in Chicago and determined there may be as many as 4,500 of them. While those familiar with food gardening in Chicago can probably already see that the methodology is overly conservative, it's an interesting view of urban agriculture.

Making the Political Digital

The city recently launched a new website, Chicago Digital, to promote its digital initiatives. Some highlighted resources are Open Data applications, a developer forum and a list of city social media accounts.

Betting on Parking Apps

Investors must have a hard time parking in Chicago. They've invested $2 million in ParkWhiz and $2.5 million in SpotHero in the past week.

Build Your Own Breathalyzer

The Buzzed Buzzer is a party noisemaker that only makes noise if it detects alcohol on your breath. Make a few for your New Year's Eve party and take away the keys of anyone noisy enough not to drive!

Picking Up on the Classics

Want to learn 100 riffs in about 12 and a half minutes? Soundslice plus Alex Chadwick from Chicago Music Exchange show you how.

Tech Success

1871, the startup hub/incubator/coworking space, is doing what it promised: bringing attention and investment to Chicago's tech community.

Kickstarting it Now

A flavored pasta of the month club, a new Rachel Barton Pine album, a microbrewery in Gary and more are currently funding on Gapers Block's Kickstarter page.

GB Gift Guide: iOS Accessories

More Real's Sharpie-topping pen-cap stylus and Lunatik's wide line of iOS products put a little Chicago-designed coolness in your favorite technophile's stocking.

CTA Tracker in Your Browser

ETA Chicago is a new web app that tells you what the closest CTA options are for your current address (assuming it can be pinpointed) and when the next bus or train on that line will arrive.

Design Help Within Reach

Applications for the Firebelly Grant for Good are due by Friday, which means there's still time to get design help for your favorite local nonprofit.

The New Chicago Machine

Behind the scenes here in Chicago, a team of hackers led by former Threadless CTO Harper Reed were ensuring President Obama got reelected. Ars Technica and the Atlantic have excellent profiles of how it all worked, while Crain's talked with Reed to find out what's next. (The technology behind the Romney campaign didn't fare nearly as well.)

Holovaty Launches Soundslice

Adrian Holovaty just launched his new venture since leaving EveryBlock, the company he founded: SoundSlice, which syncs guitar tabs up with video to help guitarists learn new songs more effectively.

Major Security Breach on Chicago Board of Elections Website

Local computer forensics company Forensicon discovered a security breach on that allowed basic personal information of 1.7 million voters -- and much more detail for 1,200 job applicants -- to be accessed online.

Tasty Kickstarters

An "adult ice cream lounge," an innovative video game and a gourmet restaurant are among the projects currently funding on the Gapers Block's Kickstarter page.

Groupon's Discounting Continues

Groupon's stock continued to drop as the company reported a net loss in the third quarter. The company laid off 80 people yesterday. Meanwhile, GrubHub is prepping for an IPO next year.

Hailo Launches, Uber Fights

London-based Hailo today officially joins Uber and other services that help you find a taxi in Chicago. Meanwhile, Uber is fighting legislation that could kill its car service business.

Your Custom Palm Card

If you have a smartphone, 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.


A documentary about a neighborhood hero, a no-spill cup designed by a teenager, and an amazing-looking video game are just some of the projects on the Gapers Block Kickstarter page right now. And over on Indiegogo, you might be interested in this comic book about bands or this touchscreen watch with a nonprofit mission.

Silicon Prairie Dirt

Crain's John Cahill takes a look back at Groupon a year post-IPO. Meanwhile, Greg Hinz sizes up Silicon Prairie 2.0.

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.

Talk Back to the Commercial

Chicago startup AdYapper lets you give participating companies feedback on their online ads.

Letters in Your Inbox

Handiemail, a new service from Knoed Creative, writes out your email long-hand and mails it -- by USPS -- for just $9.95. You can request the reverse process for the same price.

Dabble in a Side Tour

SideTour, a deal site offering unusual activities, officially launches in Chicago on Monday. A couple of events have already happened, and the reviews seem positive. Meanwhile, Chicago-based Dabble just relaunched its indie class-finder site, now with nationwide reach.

A Techie's Paradise

Chicago was recently ranked the seventh best city in America for tech start-ups by the National Venture Capital Association. Also on the list are San Francisco, Boston, New York, LA, Washington D.C., San Diego, Austin, Boulder/Denver and Seattle.

A Word from the Bird

In honor of Chicago Ideas Week, the city turned to Twitter to ask users their opinion about the best way to get guns off of the streets. They received over 300,000 responses, varying from stricter parenting to looser gun control.

Perfect Imperfections

GLI.TC/H , the festival of glitch art, music and technology, will be back in Chicago for a third round Dec. 6-9. Here's a review of the 2010 edition.

GLI.T/CH 2112 BUMPER from Kevin Carey on Vimeo.

Cab Companies Order a Lawsuit for Uber

Taxi companies are suing Uber, claiming the private car ordering service violates city regulations about how many cabs are on the road.

Designing a Chicago Transit App

Although its Kickstarter campaign failed, Greater Good Studio is developing its Designing Chicago transit navigation app anyway -- and they're looking for help from you.

I am the Windows Technical Provider

A scammer called Ars Technica's Nate Anderson claiming that his (nonexistent) Windows computer was infested with viruses. Anderson decided to play along.

Commuting & Grocery Shopping: Two Peas in a Pod

Online grocery service Peapod will expand its virtual retail locations to nine CTA and eight Metra stations across Chicagoland. Customers can use a free app to select and pay for their items and schedule home deliveries.

Hack the City Green

Have an interest in data and sustainability? The Center for Neighborhood Technology is hosting an Urban Sustainability Hackathon next weekend, Oct. 5-7. Jump in and lend a hand.

Our Local Innovation Champion

Chicago CTO John Tolva was named a Champion of Change by the White House for his (and the City's) efforts to modernize city services and develop tools for open government.

Chicago's Top Tech

Crain's has put together its Tech 50, a list of movers and shakers in the city's technology scene. Meanwhile, Chicago mag reports on the city's tech boom.

Free Wifi & the Broadband Challenge

As of this morning, Millennium Park features free wi-fi -- the first of Emanuel's push, which plans to include all parks and public spaces in Chicago. The City is looking for everyone's help in designing the network via The Broadband Challenge.

Winning with Data

Tribune Apps senior developer Joe Germuska and the Investigative Reporters and Editors won a Knight News Challenge grant to continue development on, a resource for journalists to work with US Census data.

Zipcar Meets Airbnb

Getaround is an app that lets you take car sharing to the personal level by putting your car up for rent by the hour. So far, 104 cars are available in Chicagoland, for between $5 and $25 an hour.

We're Well Connected

Chicago is one of the country's digital hubs, where 7.96 terabits of data is transferred every second on fiber optic cables that criss-cross the city. But it's also time for an upgrade.

Starting up Post-Groupon

The bloom may be off Groupon's rose, but Chicago's tech startup scene is thriving, says the Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal. He's even made a map for you.

Big Birds

Crain's gives us a list of the local Twitter accounts with the most followers, and explains who this @DarrenWillinger guy is.

Big Leaguer Invests in Starter League

Web app firm 37signals invested in The Starter League, formerly known as Code Academy, which might be best known for its classes on Ruby on Rails ...which 37signals invented.

Find a New School

It's hard for parents to figure out which school their kids can attend when the family moves. Hard enough that CPS has created a School Locator app to aid the process.

Connecting at the Concert

Showfile is a social network built around music festivals and concerts: explore your friends' taste in music and keep track of which shows you've gone to see.

Making Time for Love

Has your relationship gotten stale? Chicago startup Lovendar aims to help couples reconnect and bring a little spark back. (And not in a dirty way... necessarily.)

Chicago's Top Tech

Built In Chicago doubled their list of Chicago's biggest digital companies to 100 this year (previously). Google/Motorola Mobility, Groupon and CareerBuilder top the list; Forbes' Kelly Reid delves into the list.

Making it in Evanston

The streets of downtown Evanston will be full of tinkerers and crafty people as the city hosts a Mini Maker Faire. Saturday night's events include a Power Racing Series Power Wheels race.

Ask Steve James Anything

The Interrupters and Hoop Dreams director Steve James and author Raj Patel are currently answering questions on Reddit.

Motorola Mobility's Major Move

Crain's delves deeper into Motorola Mobility's move to the Merchandise Mart (previously), including how it'll affect Libertyville's economy.

I Love the Player and the Game

Chicago-based Jellyvision, known for its trivia game You Don't Know Jack, helped a fan propose to his girlfriend.

More than Curiously Strong

This month's Dwell features important women designers, and among those featured are the local collaborators of Quite Strong.

Do you find EveryBlock too... inclusive? lets you create a private social network for your neighborhood, where you can bitch about the neighbor's uncut grass in peace.

Better Grammar Through Technology

NoRedInk is a startup created by Jeff Scheur, an English teacher at Whitney Young High School, that aims to teach students improve their grammar and writing skills.

Contextualizing Communication

MAS Context continues to outdo itself in every issue with its newest, Communication.

Art Institute in the App Store

The Art Institute launched two new free iOS apps for its 91,000 members: a Digital Member Card for iPhone and a digital version of Member Magazine for iPad. Handy for sure, but they're no Magic Tate Ball.

Designing a New CTA App

Last night Greater Good Studio's George and Sara Aye launched a Kickstarter to develop a new, innovative CTA app, and they want your help to create it. Read more about the project in our exclusive interview with the Ayes -- and see more interesting Chicago-based projects on our curated Kickstarter page.

Posner: The GOP is Goofy

"I've become less conservative since the Republican Party started becoming goofy," said Federal Appellate Court Judge and UofC Professor Richard Posner in an interview on NPR last week. He also thinks the patent system has gotten out of sync with modern business, particularly regarding technology.

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, Connected

Emmanuel's current downtown wi-fi push involves making traffic and street lights 'smart polls,' which would allow constant access throughout downtown, as well as on underground on the CTA.

Bid on a Class

ClassFill aims to be a marketplace for vacancies in classes.

Moving for the Schools

If you've got a kid who's nearing school age and you don't want to move to the suburbs, School Sparrow can help you figure out which neighborhood you should move to for the best school options.

Time Your Metra Flight

Metra finally launched a train tracker. It's only available on Metra's website at the moment (bottom left), but hopefully smart phone apps will soon follow.

The Dot-Whatever Land Rush

McDonald's, Allstate, Abbott and other big Chicagoland companies are snagging custom TLDs; watch for and on your browser in 2013.

Flight Delayed? Surf (some of) the Web, Gratis.

Travelers will have free, albeit limited, wi-fi service at O'Hare and Midway Airports by the end of July.

Where to be Popular in Chicago

Facebook dug through two years of "check-in" data for 25 cities and determined the most popular places to announce your presence on facebook. In Chicago, it's Wrigley Field; in Oslo, Norway, it's a T.G.I. Friday's. Check out a graphic with the "social landmarks" from all 25 cities after the jump.

Facebook Map of Popular City Check-ins

451: Not Just for Burning Books

Among Ray Bradbury's tributes may be a 451 status code, recalling Fahrenheit 451 when a page is restricted due to legal reasons.

Two Surprises at Fermilab

Apparently, Fermilab has had a bison farm since 1969. The team that oversees them got a surprise when the cows started birthing on May 30.

Staying Up to Date, Tech-wise

Techweek's annual conference starts Friday; there's still time to register if you're interested.

Chicago's Slow to Plug In

Installation of electric vehicle charging stations in Chicago is months behind schedule, and the City is investigating "financial irregularities" with the contractor.

How We Interact

37signals is building a physical interface collection as inspiration for their digital interfaces. Maybe they'll inspire you, too.

Interface Inspiration from 37signals on Vimeo.

10 Years of Green Tech

The Center for Green Technology is celebrating its 10th anniversary this Saturday.

Chat with the CTO & CDO

Want to ask the chief technology and data officers of Chicago some questions? Ars Technica will hold a live chat with John Tolva and Brett Goldstein this Thursday, June 14, at 1pm.

Posner: US Patent Law is Dysfunctional

UofC professor Judge Richard Posner stepped into some controversial territory last week when he threw out a patent dispute between Apple and Motorola Mobility, and said in passing on his blog that the patent system is dysfunctional.

Read Posner's decision in Case: 1:11-cv-08540, Apple Inc. & NEXT Software Inc. vs. Motorola Inc. & Motorola Mobility, Inc., below.

Posner Order

Hacking a Virtual Chicago

"Watch Dogs," a new video game from Ubisoft debuting at E3 this week, is set in a very, very detailed Chicago that's controlled by a powerful hacker -- who you get to play. Here's a teaser site.

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.


In the politics of wifi router names, Chicago is unsurprisingly pro.


The Secret Startup

Chicagoan Eric Simons, founder, recently spent two months squatting in AOL's headquarters.


The Chicago version was recently released, and it's pretty much what it sounds like -- an (iPhone only, as of now) app that allows you to hunt down BYOB-friendly joints by cuisine or neighborhood. [via]

Ruby on Rails on Rails

Hackatrain, the first-ever hackathon aboard a moving CTA train, will be happening June 16. Get on board.

NATO May Block Your Call

Another potential reason to be annoyed that NATO is in town: jammed cellular service.

Chicago Shares

Shareable is spending a week sharing Chicago's contributions to sharing technology, including the Chicago DataDive event that happened recently.

Programming Beyond Prejudice

At a hack day last year, Melissa Pierce was told, "No room for noobs with boobs!" by a rude programmer. So she created Chicago Women Developers, a resource for woman-friendly coding classes and events.

Your Cell Service in Chicago Sucks

...Unless you're on Verizon, RootMetrics finds. Both download and upload speeds for the other major carriers were all pretty poor.

Ars Seven Point Zero

News site Ars Technica has been completely redesigned. If you're familiar with the old one column layout, you'll find this primer very useful.

Someone's Getting Rich Quick

The Verge peeks behind the curtain of "internet marketing," and talks with The Salty Droid, a local blog that focuses on this seedy underworld.

Instagram + Pinterest = ?

What do you get when you mash up the latest pair of social networks to go viral? Pinstagram, developed by local startup Tapisto.

Talk with the CTO & CDO

John Tolva and Brett Goldstein, the CTO and CDO of Chicago, will be doing a live chat on Ars Technica today at 1pm, discussing the data portal and how it's helping change how the city is run. UPDATE: Due to technical difficulties (Ars just launched a redesign), the chat has been canceled.

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.

Welcome to 1871

1871, the new tech startup coworking space and entrepreneurship hub in the Merchandise Mart, opened its doors today.

Track Your Lousy Boyfriend

Should I break up with my boyfriend? is an iPhone app that answers that question, based on emotion tracker MercuryApp. Co-creator Sarah Gray is teaching a Dabble class on DIY breakups.

Discount & Do Good Simultaneously

Toodalu is a new service that gets you a discount at local restaurants, bars and a few shops -- with the added twist that every purchase also earns money for the charity of your choice.

Custom Webfonts for Sale

GB co-founder Naz Hamid and Scott Robbin today launched Shifticons, "the easiest and fastest way to create, mix and match custom icon web fonts."

Local Webbies

Local art and design blog Colossal, The Chicago Portfolio School, Pitchfork and The Onion (whose web team is local) are nominated in this year's Webby Awards.

Booking Dinner

Soup Next Door is a startup that handles ticketing for "unique food experiences" hosted by anyone from underground restaurants to budding chefs. There are only a couple listings for Chicago at the moment, but expect more soon.

Loku Around is a new service that created a "waterfall" of local news, restaurants, events, entertainment and deals.

Siri's Creator is a Chicagoan

After selling Siri to Apple, founder Dag Kittlaus moved back to Chicago, and talked about the city's tech future at Technori Pitch.

Get Hacking for Science!

The Adler Planetarium is hosting a Science Hack Day, 24 hours of serious creative geekery, May 12-13. Register here to join in the fun.

Join EveryBlock, Help Schools

During April, for every new person who joins EveryBlock, the site will be donating a dollar to classroom fundraiser site DonorsChoose.

Google Goes Beyond the Doodle

Paintings and sculptures from the Art Institute are among more than 32,000 pieces viewable on Google's new Art Project, which launches today. Streetview cameras were used to photograph many of the artworks in the gallery setting, providing a virtual visit to more than 100 museums worldwide.

Slower than Dialup -- but Much Cooler

Scientists at Fermilab have successfully sent an encoded message via neutrino, the subatomic particle. Unfortunately, the method has a data speed of 0.1 bit per second. [via]

McData Mining

At the end of this very technical post, Twitter data scientist Edwin Chen uses his tools and techniques to dig into the menu at McDonalds.

Second Hand Apple

MacMall is opening this Saturday at 329 W Grand. Their first location outside of Southern California, they sell refurbished Apple products as well as accessories, support and repairs.

The Chicago Way with Patents

Apparently part of the "Midwest mentality" in Chicago's tech scene also includes patent trolling.

Tech Culture Wars

PandoDaily's Trevor Gilbert diagnosed Chicago's tech scene as having a Midwest Mentality that holds it back. Naturally, that didn't sit well with some here in Chicago.

This American Life Retracts Apple Factory Story

On the day the new iPad comes out, This American Life is retracting the incredibly popular story about Foxconn's factories in China by monologist Mike Daisey (previously). Tonight's episode of the show will be an explanation of why the story is being retracted and how it occurred.

This American Life and WBEZ have also canceled the performance of Daisey's monologue, The Agony and the Ecstacy of Steve Jobs, scheduled for April 7 at the Chicago Theatre.

The following email was sent to fans of the show:

From: Ira Glass
Date: Fri, Mar 16, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Subject: Our recent Mike Daisey episode


I'm writing to tell you that tonight, This American Life and Marketplace will reveal that a story that we broadcast on This American Life this past January contained significant fabrications.

We're retracting that story because we can't vouch for its truth, and this weekend's episode of our show will detail the errors in the story, which was an excerpt of Mike Daisey's acclaimed one-man show, "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs." In it, Daisey tells how he visited a factory owned by Foxconn that manufactures iPhones and iPads in Shenzhen, China. He's performed the monologue in theaters around the country; it's currently at the Public Theater in New York.

When the original 39-minute excerpt was broadcast on This American Life, Marketplace China Correspondent Rob Schmitz wondered about its truth. He located and interviewed Daisey's Chinese interpreter Li Guifen (who goes by the name Cathy Lee professionally with westerners). She disputed much of what Daisey has been telling theater audiences since 2010 and much of what he said on the radio.

During fact checking before the broadcast of Daisey's story, I and This American Life producer Brian Reed asked Daisey for this interpreter's contact information, so we could confirm with her that Daisey actually witnessed what he claims. Daisey told us her real name was Anna, not Cathy as he says in his monologue, and he said that the cell phone number he had for her didn't work any more. He said he had no way to reach her.

At that point, we should've killed the story. But other things Daisey told us about Apple's operations in China checked out, and we saw no reason to doubt him. We didn't think that he was lying to us. That was a mistake.

Schmitz does a 20-minute story on our show this weekend about his findings, and we'll also broadcast an interview I did with Daisey. Marketplace will feature a shorter version of Schmitz's report earlier in the evening. You can read more details on our website, and listen to our show on WBEZ at 7 p.m. tonight, and noon tomorrow.

We've been planning a live presentation of Daisey's monologue on stage at the Chicago Theatre on April 7th, with me leading a Q&A afterwards. Maybe you've heard me advertising it on the air. That show will be cancelled and all tickets will be refunded.

I've never had to write an email like this. Like all our friends and colleagues in public radio, I and my co-workers at This American Life work hard every day to make sure that what you hear on WBEZ is factually correct. We will continue to do that, and hope you can forgive this.

Ira Glass

© 1998-2012 Chicago Public Media. All rights reserved.
WBEZ / 848 East Grand Avenue / Chicago IL 60611-3509

The discrepancies in Daisey's story were uncovered in part by a report by Marketplace's Rob Schmitz.

Daisey has posted a statement on his own site, saying in part, "I stand by my work. My show is a theatrical piece whose goal is to create a human connection between our gorgeous devices and the brutal circumstances from which they emerge. It uses a combination of fact, memoir, and dramatic license to tell its story, and I believe it does so with integrity."

Below is the official press release from This American Life regarding the incident.

Retraction Press Release Final

Myths Busted at the Museum of Science and Industry

An interactive exhibit based on the Discovery Channel's "MythBusters" opened at the Museum of Science and Industry today.

Building Tech Here

The Wall Street Journal takes note of our burgeoning start-up ecosystem.

May 2, 1871

1871, the new tech coworking space, is expected to open on May 2.

244 Years isn't a Bad Run

The Encyclopaedia Britannica has ceased the production of its printed volumes and is selling its remaining inventory. Of course, it's trumpeting the transition as a step into the future. Some reaction from the Trib, The NY Times, The Atlantic and the Financial Times.

Happy Pi(e) Day!

You can celebrate the wonders of 3.14159 with special offers on pie thanks to the efforts of the Illinois Science Council and a bunch of local bakeries and restaurants.

How Can We Rethink Ownership?

MAS Context's new issue (and redesign) is live, and the theme is "ownership."

Delivering the Good

GrubHub turns eight today, and in honor of the anniversary it's rounding every order to the next dollar* and donating whatever the difference is to Feeding America until midnight tonight.

* So, for example, if your order comes to $15.49, that's still what you pay, but GrubHub will donate 51 cents to Feeding America.

Pay for Deals

Groupon rolled out its VIP program in Chicago and five other cities this week. For $30 a year, you get first dibs on deals, access to closed deals and more.

Loving Father, Secret Octopus

Speaking of Kickstarter, the team behind the indie videogame Octodad has released a trailer for the game's crowdfunded sequel, Octodad 2: Dadliest Catch.

Cubs Win! (Not Really)

A new trailer for the video game MLB 12: The Show imagines what Chicago would look like if the Cubs won the World Series.

Catapult Launches

Catapult Chicago is a new coworking space for tech startups -- which is becoming common enough to be a trend.

Agony & Ecstacy of Steve Jobs in Chicago

WBEZ and This American Life are bringing The Agony & The Ecstacy of Steve Jobs, a one-man show by Steve Daisy, to Chicago for a performance on April 7 at the Chicago Theatre. Ira Glass will do a Q&A afterward. Tickets go on sale tomorrow, March 1 at 10am.

TAL aired an adapted version of the monologue in January, and it quickly became one of the most-listened-to episodes in the show's history.

Help Open Data

OpenChicago is a new site connecting developers interested in participating in the open data movement. All you need is a Github account.

Our Local Russian Net Mogul

One of Russia's biggest web entrepreneurs actually lives in Skokie. Anton "Tony" German's BayRu helps Russians shop online.

Adopt-a-sidewalk - Shovel Not Included

Chicago residents can now volunteer to shovel a snow-covered sidewalk by claiming a section of the city on their smart phone through a new web app, Adopt-a-sidewalk. The app also connects volunteers with seniors and people with disabilities who might need help with snow removal.


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

Tweet These Movies

Film podcast F This Movie! is holding the first-ever Twitter film festival this Saturday, Feb. 4. To attend, just get hold of the films in the lineup, follow @fthismovie and start watching and tweeting at noon! [via]

Grab a Cab Together

Taxi Share Chicago is an Android app that helps you find a person to share a cab with you.

iPhone Camera-Enhancing Mattebox is App of the Day

What Gizmodo calls "the closest thing the iPhone has to manual focus" is the creation of local designer/programmer/photographer Ben Syverson -- and it's their App of the Day.

Checking in Well

Youtopia is sort of like Foursquare for good deeds.

Technology Follows Us Home

Eric Fisher, who created the cool map of locals vs. tourists on flickr a couple years ago, made a new map of Chicago showing people going home, via their tweets.

Is this the structure of Chicago?

Via Twitter (of course), Fischer said, "[The map] is paths from one geotagged tweet to the next by the same person, routed along the most heavily geotagged path in between." In a comment on Flickr, he clarified, "Keep in mind this is trying to be a map of travel from locations to other locations, not of individual tweets. The individual tweets are just to guide the paths. I think what you are seeing here is mostly a lot of travel between O'Hare and the Loop, not a particular tendency to tweet while driving on that route. (Also, the Edens is hardly represented here at all. Those two big routes to the north and northwest are Clark Street and Milwaukee Avenue."

See What's Been Plowed

The City's new Plow Tracker is great, but Derek Eder and Forest Gregg's ClearStreets takes it a step further and shows you where the plows have been, for a better idea of what progress has been made.

You've Got Mail

BuiltInChicago has sneak preview access to the premium email address service. (Previously.)

Starting at 1871

A new "center for digital entrepreneurs," 1871, was announced today. The 50,000-square-foot space will be located in the Merchandise Mart and is meant to foster the city's startup scene by offering affordable deskspace and other services.

I Write, I Network

Xrivo is a newish social network based in Chicago that's all about connecting writers and readers.

Facebook Town Hall

Mayor Rahm Emanuel will hold another Facebook town hall meeting on January 23. Emanuel's previous virtual town hall was the first of its kind from a sitting mayor. Chicagoans can submit education-related questions online here.

Finding the Startups

Speaking of startups, TINCmag has put together a directory of them.

Lose Something?

Newly launched Found In Town is a new service designed to help track down things like phones lost in the back of a cab.

DIY Ward Maps

Have a lot of free time or want something to do during this weekend? WBEZ has a guide to help people create their own ward maps. Data and links to required programs are listed, but assembly is required.

$135/Mile is Uber Expensive

Uber customers in Chicago and elsewhere got a bit of a shock if they used the private car service on New Year's Eve: "surge pricing" that drove the cost of a ride up as much as 6.25 times the regular price. Not surprisingly, the reaction was uber negative.

Better Seats for the Buds Below the Belt

The University of Illinois at Chicago is conducting a study examining the correlation between bike seats and male impotence.

I Want to Pitch a Shark for You

Local comedian Steve Gadlin will be on "Shark Tank" Jan. 27, seeking investment in, his cat-drawing service, which has produced over 1400 custom cat drawings since it launched two years ago.

Go to Office Hours

Ohours gives you a chance to talk with experts in a variety of tech and business fields. It's a national site, but there are several local folks to meet with.

Doing the Math

Mu Sigma, a privately held analytics and "decision sciences" firm whose CEO was named one of this year's Crain's 40 Under 40, landed $108 million in new funding.

The Stop Online Creativity Act

ReadWriteWeb's Alicia Eler talks with Chicago artists about the effect SOPA would have on online artists.

The Data's the Thing

A couple of data sets from the city's data portal made it onto the Atlantic's list of the best metro data releases of 2011.

The New Process

The Verge features MNML's TikTok and LunaTik watches (previously) in its look at Kickstarter's role in the new product development cycle.

SpotHero is the Victor

Congrats to SpotHero, the winner of the the Apps for Metro Chicago competition.

Belly Hopefully not a Flop

You might have spotted Bellyflop iPad terminals at certain shops around town, but the customer loyalty program made its official debut today, under a new name: just Belly.

Be a Benevolent Benefactor

Benevolent is a new Evanston-based crowdfunding site with a twist: it's oriented toward individuals in need, who are "validated" by a nonprofit. The campaign goals are usually low, so even small pledges make a big difference.

Mapping School CPS Closings

WBEZ mapped and analyzed 10 years of school closing patterns, finding that closed schools tend to be in African American neighborhoods on the South and West Sides -- and are often replaced with selective enrollment or lottery schools.

DIY CTA Display

The CTA has provided developers, and those with "some computer savvy," the tools to create their own CTA arrival screens. Great for businesses who want to create a waiting area inside their warm establishments, or others who just want to shelter public transit users in a storm.

Pay to Read

The Sun-Times and its suburban sister publications will start using a metered method allowing 20 free views every month before readers will have to pay. The paywall goes into effect on Thursday.

Vote for the Best City Apps

The Apps for Metro Chicago Grand Challenge, the final phase of the year-long program, opens for voting at 4pm today. Vote for your favorite apps by Dec. 12.

How Important is an Email Address to You?

More specifically, would you be willing to pay $1,750 to lease for 10 years? Josh Metnick thinks you might be.

Minorities in Tech

In this week's Crain's, FOCUS profiles Chicago's minority-owned tech firms.

AT&T Opens Concept Store

The first of these experimental Apple-inspired retail outlets is set to open in the Northwest suburbs, complete with a Learning Center, Solutions Center, Small Business Center, and, God willing, a chewy chocolate-covered center.

Who's on Google+?

WBEZ surveys the early adopters among Chicago media, sports, cultural institutions and other businesses on Google+. (Yep, we're on there.)

Building a Startup Collaboratively

The Junto is a new site that's meant to be a "startup for startups."

Another Way to Find the Train

QuickTrain is another iPhone CTA tracker app, with the distinction of being very good looking.

New Tech City

NewCity surveys Chicago's technology scene this week.

Sounds Like Chicago

AudioBoo lets you record from your phone (iPhone, Android or, incredibly, Nokia) or desktop and put it on a map.

Cutting the Crap Out of Learning

MentorMob, a site for putting together "learning playlists" of tutorials and informational pages, launched this week in alpha.

60% Off this Groupon Poem

The Reformed Broker waxes poetic ahead of Groupon's Friday IPO. (Thanks, Pete!)

Moto's Got a New Razr

Motorola's bringing back the Razr name with a rugged new Android phone -- but Crain's doesn't think it'll do much to help the company in the smartphone race.

Mob Knowledge

MentorMob officially launches today. It's a site for crowdsourcing knowledge to help collectively teach a variety of subjects, from salsa dancing to chemistry.

Illinois X Prized

Congratulations to downstate firm Elastec/American Marine on winning a $1 Million X Prize for a novel, vastly more efficient oil skimmer.

Recruiting Off the Rails

When contacting a developer to work on a popular web framework, it's often a good idea to check to make sure you're not trying to hire the guy who created it.

Chicago Tech's Big 50

Tech community site Built in Chicago released its first Top 50 Digital Companies list, based on number of Chicago-based employees. Topping the list are Groupon, CareerBuilder, Navteq, Classified Ventures, Orbitz, Echo Global Logistics,, OptionsXpress, InnerWorkings and Thinkorswim.

Tracking the CTA

Grid Chicago's Steve Vance assesses the state of CTA train trackers.

Get Hacking, Ladies

Entrprnr and #MsTech have teamed up for SweetHack CHI+NYC, a two-city hackathon aimed at "evolv[ing] the conversation of female entrepreneurism beyond the issue of 'changing the ratio,' and towards actively advancing the quality of their businesses, networks and resources." It's this weekend, Oct. 14-16; register here.

Thought Different

Outside the Michigan Avenue Apple store, there's a pair of banners on the light pole memorializing Steve Jobs. Interestingly, they're not an official tribute by either the store or the city -- they're by local computer graphics firm ImageFiction.

thought different
Photo by Therese Flanagan

The Great Chicago iPhone Fire

Speaking of apps, the Chicago History Museum today launched The Great Chicago Fire and the Web of Memory, an app for iPhone and iPad that brings to life that fateful event 140 years ago. Download it from iTunes here for 99 cents.

Vote on Community Apps

The community round of Apps for Metro Chicago opened for voting on Friday; you have till the 14th to make your voice heard.

The Fed on the iPad

No, really!

Makeshift Memorial

After news of Jobs' death, Apple stores around the world have become impromptu shrines, with the Michigan Ave. store among them.

RIP, Steve Jobs: the Local Reaction

Tributes to Steve Jobs are everywhere; here are some from Chicago media and tech world: 37signals, Ars Technica (more, even more), Nick Harrison, Andy Ihnatko, RedEye, Phil Rosenthal. Know of more? Tell us on Twitter. A few photographs from the Michigan Avenue Apple Store memorial are after the fold.

Steve Jobs Tribute, Michigan Avenue Apple Store

Steve Jobs Tribute, Michigan Avenue Apple Store

Steve Jobs Tribute, Michigan Avenue Apple Store

Track that Runner

How D-Tags, the RFID chips that track Chicago Marathon runners, work.

Tevatron Shutdown

Fermilab posted a video of the particle accelerator shutdown ceremony, including remarks from various people involved and the actual switching-off. For those curious, their website has some great info about the Tevatron, and the Reader's recent cover story does a great job fleshing out Fermilab's history.

Stars of the "Silicon Cornfield"

HuffPo blogger Keith Ecker wonders what Chicago's tech industry nickname ought to be. My two cents: If we want to lose the "flyover state" rep, perhaps talking about cornfields is the wrong direction. Meanwhile, Crain's named its first Tech 25.

Timelines on the Line

Chicago-based is suing Facebook over the social network's new Timelines feature, for reasons that are probably obvious.

Digital Battle of the Bands

New local startup lets musicians upload snippets of songs for listeners to vote on either organically or through song-to-song battle.

Type Local

Feel the need to be a typography locavore? In Chicago, you have a few to choose from: Ascender, T26, Okay Type, Blank is the New Black, Hazen Type, No Bodoni, Arlo and, interestingly, Cooper Black. Many more here. (Thanks, Grant & Su!)

Forget Incubators, How About a Tech Farm?

A 51,000-square-foot center for tech startups is in the works, according to the Tribune. The venture capital-backed plan would allow startups to rent desks or suites -- so it might turn out to simply be a massive coworking space.

Goodbye, Our Curvy Friend

Clever Apes sends off the Tevatron with an episode dedicated to the world's most powerful proton-antiproton accelerator.

DXO Messes Things Up

Technori profiles Daniel X. O'Neil, EveryBlock co-founder, past GB contributor and current executive director of the Smart Chicago Collabrative.

Great Movies on Your Phone

Roger Ebert now has an iPhone app of his "Great Movies" reviews.

Your Private Car is Here

Uber a private car service you set up via web or phone app, officially launched in Chicago yesterday. Now, for a minimum of $15, you can press a button and a black car will show up out front to pick you up.

Finding Your Speed

In case you missed MAS Context's newest issue launch: Speed is ready for viewing. The Chicago-based quarterly goes everywhere from the Town of Speedway, Indiana to the megalopolis of Mumbai, India.

Entering the Pitch

Chicago tech blog Technori has launched a pitch series to showcase some of the city's newest startups. The first pitch is Sept. 27.

Getting Social

It's Social Media Week here in Chicago and 11 other cities around the world. Check out the schedule for events today through Friday.

Working Hard to Retain Some Advertisements

Today the Trib is among the papers revealing iCircular, a new advertising platform for newspaper apps developed by the AP.

Meet Howard Tullman

Technori profiles Howard Tullman, web innovator, serial entrepreneur and founder of Tribeca Flashpoint Academy. Read more about him here.

Food You Can Print?

Cornell Creative Machines Lab has developed a 3-D food printer that will allow the creation of previously unheard of cuisine. And not just a hamburger with liquid layers of ketchup and mustard inside, either (though also that). Chicago's Moto Restaurant looks like it'll be one of the early adopters.

Go Go Gdgt

Tech blog gdgt is bringing its live show back to town this Friday.

Mapping History

History Pin places historic photos on a map; Chicago is full of shots. An app by the same name places the pics in Google Streetview. UPDATE: See also What Was There. (Thanks, Lynn!)

Are You Really Visiting Your Favorite Website?

In other Internet news, suburban-based Vasco Data Security's Dutch subsidiary DigiNotar is at the center of a hacking scandal that potentially threatens global Internet security.

Keep Making Apps

The Apps for Metro Chicago competition is still on, and in fact the Metropolitan Planning Council is sponsoring a new challenge for "placemaking" apps. There's a hackathon at Google Chicago this Saturday, if you're interested in diving in.

Groupon Off the Market?

In the latest twist in Groupon's IPO saga, WSJ reports the company has canceled its investor roadshow and is reevaluating its IPO date "on a week by week basis" due to the market's volatility.

Blow Your Mind with Exponents!

"Powers of Ten," a 1977 Eames film made for IBM, centers on a lakeshore picnic and zooms out 1,000,000 light years. Pretty crazy stuff.

Get Those Tasks Done

TaskRabbit, a crowd-sourced errand service similar to Zipments (previously) and Zaarly, is coming to Chicago soon. (You could always go the personal assistant route.)

Parking Apps for Chicago

SpotHero won the Apps for Metro Chicago last weekend. Second place was another parking-oriented app, FasPark.


Last year, noise and tech and new media and those who love them came together in the form of the GLI.TC/H festival. For five days, the strange and wonderful ways data can be corrupted were celebrated with videos, art, coding and more. Although a success, the people behind GLI.TC/H need more than pops and errant flashes to bring it back to life. Head to their Kickstarter page to make it happen again.

Develop Socially

SocialDevCamp Chicago is this weekend, and there's still room for you.

High Tech, Low Brow

Local artists Taylor Hokanson and Chris Reilly have reached their Kickstarter goal for their low-cost CNC machine, but the fundraiser's still going until 11 tonight, so check it out if you're into art made by robots.

T-Shirts vs. Polos

The corporate cultures of Google and Motorola might not be a match made in heaven, the WSJ reports.

Google is Buying Motorola Mobility

Libertyville based Motorola Mobility, the split handset division of Motorola, is being acquired by Google for about $12.5 billion, mostly in an effort to gain patents in order to compete with rival Apples iPhone. Google plans to run Motorola Mobility as a separate company and plans to keep its Android platform open.

From IPO to Chapter 11?

They haven't had their IPO yet, but Bnet's Jim Edwards has decided Groupon should just declare bankruptcy now.

Groupon: Why Here?

TheNextWeb asked Chicago's tech community why they think Groupon grew up here rather than Silicon Valley.

Man vs. Mansueto

University of Chicago fourth year Mitchell Kohles challenged the automated storage and retrieval system at the U of C's newest library, the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, to a race. How did Mitchell do? Let's go to the tape, err, YouTube video.

TribTab Coming

The Tribune Co. is developing a tablet computer to offer to subscribers to its newspapers, including the LA Times and Chicago Tribune. [via]

Haggle with Friends

VC firm Lightbank has invested in oBaz, a new "social haggling site" where you post what you want and they haggle a discount.

Tevatron Sees Hints of the Theorized Missing Piece of Mass

The Tevatron at Fermilab continues to make progress on the possibilities of the Higgs boson even though the accelerator is slated for closure at the end of September.

Leaving EveryBlock, But Still a Neighbor

Big congratulations to Dan X. O'Neil today. He announced that he has left EveryBlock to lead the Smart Chicago Collaborative. Their main goal is to bring high-speed Internet and resources to Chicago's underserved communities.

Amazon Escalates its Deal War with Groupon

Amazon is creeping into Groupon's backyard: AmazonLocal -- basically a reskinning of LivingSocial, which the company part-owns -- quietly launched this week in Chicago.

Kickstarting the Gist, the startup formerly known as Gistrr, is using Kickstarter to raise money to pay for well-written abstracts on a variety of topics. It's just one of many projects on Gapers Block's curated Kickstarter page.

Scanned Art

Art Barcs is a novel way to share your art with the world: through QR codes that provide additional information about a work on display. (Thanks, Elizabeth!)

Chicago Gets Techie

Tech Week starts today and runs through the 29th. Even if you don't attend the conference, there are plenty of open-to-the-public events that are worth checking out.

Google Art

Today's Google "doodle" logo in honor of Alexander Calder's birthday was in part inspired by a visit to the MCA.


Massive Attack

Last summer, UIC Electronic Visualization Laboratory grad student Arthur Nishimoto created Fleet Commander, a Star Wars video game that's played on a wide-screen multitouch display. He's currently working on a TRON game. [via]

This Dish is Recommended

Food Genius is a new app for Android and iOS that helps you decide what to eat at Chicagoland restaurants.


Google+ is barely two weeks old, and Chicago is already well represented.

Poor Connection Rates

Evidently Chicago is the least friendly city for teleworking, according to a Microsoft survey. We can take solace in the fact that San Francisco and New York are on the list, too. [via]

The Crowdsourced Second Coming of Kozmo

Zipments, a service that allows you to post a delivery job (picking up something at your office and taking it to your accountant's, for instance), launched in Chicago yesterday.

Make an App

The Apps for Metro Chicago developer contest has a new video featuring Rahm Emanuel, Toni Preckwinkle and Pat Quinn.

Big Brother Hits the Bars

Chicago start-up SceneTap wants to bring facial recognition software into bars so owners can monitor the number, age, and gender of their customers. Because figuring that out without computers would be impossible, right?

United States of X: Cellular Edition

The Connected States of America, a project from MIT, analyzes AT&T call and text data to see what communities arise. See where folks in Cook County are calling. [via]


Get Your Non-Profit a Website -- You've Got (More) Time

The Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge, a marathon site-building experience dedicated to helping non-profits in a very direct way, has extended its deadline to July 15. Go sign up here. Want to help out? There's a form for that too.

It Feels Alright, Keeps Your Mind On The Page

SmallDates is a new Facebook-enabled "anti-dating, dating" service developed by Doejo.

Get Takeout from Google

Google's Chicago-based Data Liberation Front just released a new product called Takeout that will eventually allow users to remove data from every Google application.

Like to Play with Data?

Create an App for Metro Chicago and it could earn you some cash.

Tribune Apps Team Wins Knight News Challenge

The Tribune's News Apps Team won one of this year's Knight News Challenge grants for their PANDA Project. The recursive name stands for PANDA: A Newsroom Data Appliance."

Soundtrack Advice

Startup MyZeus promises to give movie recommendations based on your music preferences, and let you share recommendations with friends.

Ads as they Happen

The Tribune will soon be adding "real-time" social media-enabled ads to its sites, courtesy of Chicago-based NowSpots.

Dude, Where's My Car?

FoGB Scott Robbin created a great app from City of Chicago open data that I hope I never have to use. Was My Car Towed works online, or from your smartphone browser.


Got an extra parking space? SpotHero is a new startup that'll help you rent it out -- or help you find one to rent if you need one.

Change Champion

Daniel X. O'Neil, EveryBlock's "people person" and a former GB staffer, is at the White House today, being honored as a Champion for Change for his work with open data on

Skip the Scalpers

Got One, Need One is an iPhone app that helps you find tickets or get rid of extras day-of without the need of middlemen. That is, if you can find other people using the app.

Eat Together Through Technology gets some attention from the NYTimes.

Crime's Heating Up

Real estate site Trulia now offers crime heatmaps, based on EveryBlock's data

Groupon Going Public

Groupon has filed for an initial public offering to raise $750 million. Meanwhile, CEO Andrew Mason revealed plans for a travel deal site with Expedia during his talk at the D9: All Things Digital conference.

Obama's CTO is Awesome

It might be the worst kept secret in Chicago's tech scene of late: Harper Reed is the CTO of the Obama 2012 campaign.

Lightbank Invests in OpenChime

Chicago-based VC firm Lightbank has invested in OpenChime, a startup that helps people and businesses field quotes for professional services. (Previously.)

The City's Data Opens Up

The City is opening the tap on data, moving beyond the FOIA info that has filled the City Data Portal for the past couple years. (Meanwhile, Michael Miner worries that FOIA is becoming passé among journalists.)

Kumbuya, My Lord

Proving they're willing to willing to take a step in the wrong direction in more than just publishing, the folks behind The Printed Blog have launched Kumbuya, which rolls the Groupon concept back to when it was a spinoff of The Point.

Tell a Zebra by its Stripes

Computer scientists at UIC co-developed StripeSpotter, a system that helps researchers tell zebras apart in the wild.

Dabble in Dabble

Dabble launched today, offering Chicagoans the opportunity to take a class on something they've always been curious about -- and also to try their hand at teaching something they're passionate about.

'Nother Nano Watch

If you liked the idea behind the TikTok but not the execution, maybe the LOOP Nano is more your speed. (You might also be into the grapple, for your iPad.)

Sharing to Save

You may have noticed a new share widget on GB this week: local startup ShareApon gives you points toward coupons just for tweeting or "liking" stuff.

Nerds Helping Non-Profits Overnight

Are you a non-profit looking for a better website, or a developer, designer, or project manager (or master copywriter or QA genius) with a desire to help non-profits get present a great online face to the world? Check out The Nerdery's Overnight Website Challenge -- August 20-21, the web development shop is organizing a great opportunity for non-profits and nerds of all stripes alike. Non-profits register by June 30, volunteers by July 15.

Playing at the Unicode Center

Two current trends come together: Twitter sparklines and the Bulls. [via]

The Robot Librarians

Wired thinks University of Chicago's new Mansueto Library is pretty cool -- especially the robot cranes that fetch the books.

Odd Dish

Dishtip is meant to be a guide to the best food in a city, but some of the results are a little odd. Is the salad bar at Fogo de Chao really the second best dish in Chicago? And since when does Lou Malnatti's serve New York-style pizza? [via]

TL;DR? Here's the Gist

GISTRr is a people-driven site providing 200-word overviews of articles, blog posts, webpages, etc. for folks who don't have time to read the long version.

That's Awesome

Chicago now has a local chapter of the Awesome Foundation. The foundation offers monthly $1,000 grants, no strings attached, for ideas they deem worthy -- and the call for May submissions is on now.

Innovating Between Diaper Changes

It's tough starting a business with little ones at home. Naptime Entrepreneurs aims to be a support group for parents in that situation.

Fighting the Battle of the Bag

A scientist at Argonne National Laboratory has studied ways to turn plastic grocery bags into materials that can produce printer ink and batteries.

CPL on Your Kindle

The Chicago Public Library (and other area libraries using Overdrive) will soon offer the ability to borrow books via Kindle. Whet Moser notes you can already do the same on your iOS or Android device.

Crowdfunding Fun

Kickstarter isn't the only site out there for crowd-funding projects. There are a number of local projects looking for help on IndieGoGo, too. [via]

C-level Slots Fill Up in Emanuel's Administration

Former RR Donnelly CEO Mark Angelson was named deputy mayor, Lois Scott was named CFO and FoGB John Tolva was named CTO in the latest round of appointments from Rahm Emanuel's administration.

Build the Next Portal

If you've ever been interested in designing a video game, head over to the downtown Dave & Buster's tonight for the IGDA Chicago meetup.

11th Peg is Free

Startup Pegmo hopes to replace the loyalty cards at local businesses with a technological one, in which interactions earn you "pegs" toward a reward.

Flipping Past Oprah

Oprah is getting top billing in the latest version of Flipboard, a reader app for the iPad.

Uncommon Design

If you thought the TikTok and LunaTik were cool, you might also be into Uncommon's iPhone cases. Both originated from the design studio MINIMAL.

Deal Site for Deals

Daily deal site YouSwoop is launching SwooperMarket, a place to swap deals you can't or don't want to use for some reason. It'll also offer some "expired" deals at slightly higher prices for people who miss out on the first round.

High Fee Fighter

As a consumer, you've probably shopped for a credit card and you know it is a pain. But it is even more of a pain for people who want to accept credit cards. Thanks to, that process is now a lot simpler. Which makes it possible for business owners without a degree in economics to get the best deal.

Insulting the Future

Chances are you've seen Smart Alex's greeting cards in area shops. You can also get their Insult-O-Scope horoscope app on your iPhone.

Another Billionaire You Might Know

The Sun-Times profiles Mark Pincus, Chicago native and founder of Zynga. You may not know the company by name, but you probably know some of its products, like FarmVille and Mafia Wars.

Regenstein Romances

Apparently not satisfied with LikeALittle (previously), UofC students have created UChicago Hookups, "where fun comes to thrive." [via]

Lawsuit Alleges Discrimination in Google Apps for Education

Northwestern and its partnership with Google to provide email and other services for its students is targeted in a lawsuit alleging the applications are inaccessible to students with vision impairments and constitute discrimination.

Yes, Dispatcher, I'll Send You a Photo of the Scene

Chicago is the first city actively accepting digital photographs and video via 911. The city has received 40 images so far, mainly of property damage.

How's That for Good Timing?

Just as the world is getting pretty nervous about nuclear energy, the World Nuclear Fuel Cycle annual meeting will be held in Chicago at the beginning of April.


Columbia College and USC have teamed up with YouTube to create "Creator Institutes" to train students in digital media. To be one of the 10 students in the YouTube-Columbia College Creator Institute this summer, apply here.

Startup News: Buttons for Groupon, Money for GrubHub

Groupon is in talks with cash register manufacturers to add a Groupon button, making it easier for retailers to handle groupons. Meanwhile, GrubHub raised $20 million in funding in its quest to be "the next OpenTable."

Share This

Edelman Digital shares some social media milestones.

Mirrored Marketing

There's a new high-tech frontier for advertising at O'Hare: animated video ads on the bathroom mirrors. [via]

The $12,500 Groupon

Rolling Meadows-based Ajilitee offered $25,000 worth of IT consulting for half off on Groupon; it sold out this morning. Fast Company gets the backstory.

Watch in Perpetual Beta

Life in Perpetual Beta, a documentary about "the ways in which technology has/is/will change the ways in which we think about ourselves as individuals and a society," is now streaming online, on demand.

Chicago Makes Google Transparent

Brad Spirrison notes that the Google Transparency Report is produced out of Chicago by a team led by Brian Fitzpatrick, who also created the Data Liberation Front.

What is "I got lucky"?

And speaking of John Tolva, he got to play a round of Jeopardy against Watson, and even won a round.

Planning Going Forward

CityForward, which we've posted about before, gets some attention from WSJ's Digits blog.

More or Fewer Neighbors?

The Tribune Apps team created a Google map overlay showing the percentage rise or drop in population for Chicago and the region. They launched another one tracking mayoral votes by precinct today.

The F*cking Mayor

@MayorEmanuel was none other than Dan Sinker, Columbia College professor, creator of the Chicago Mayoral Scorecard and founder of Punk Planet. He'll be on Eight Forty-Eight tomorrow to discuss the project.

Getting Indie Gaming Growing

A.V. Club Chicago talks with Erin Robinson about the city's growing indie game industry. We covered similar ground with her in December.

Land Grant

Deal site BloomSpot is holding a contest to win dinner for two to Alinea if you sign up for its email newsletter.

Taking Groupon Cloning to Another Level

In China, Groupon faces competition ...from Groupon.

iPhone Carrier Cage Match

Ars Technica performed extensive tests comparing Verizon and AT&T's iPhone performance in neighborhoods from Andersonville to Hyde Park.

Bike Crash Map

Urban planner Steve Vance mapped all the bike accidents in Chicago reported to IDOT from 2007 to 2009. More about his process and why he decided to do it. [via, via]

Feel the Heat

Heat Tracker purports to show you the hottest locales around the city at a given time, based on Foursquare check-ins. It was developed by Draftfcb Chicago.

Raise a Mitzvah

Mitzfunder is a proposed Jewish-oriented fund-raising site along the lines of Kickstarter. Leah Jones explains how it'd work, and asks for your help getting it off the ground.

T-Shirts & Code

Threadless gives a peek at how they developed the mobile version of their site. [via]

Aldermania in the Reader

Ben Joravsky takes a hard look at some of the more interesting aldermanic races around town.

Talk About UX

FoGB Nick "nickd" Disabato discusses his book, Cadence & Slang, at tonight's UX Book Club meeting. Details in Slowdown.

GiveForward Gets Life Support

GiveForward, a startup that helps people raise money for out-of-pocket medical expenses, raised $500k in venture capital.

Sharpie Your iPad

That's the idea with Don Lehman's new More/Real stylus caps, currently raising funds on Kickstarter.


37signals has launched an interesting presentation of its customer support ratings. More here.

Bookshelves Get Technical

Shelfluv fills a virtual bookshelf with recommendations as you search; click through and buy what you find on Amazon.

Print Goes Digital

ReadOz is a local startup that lets you read print media, such as the Red Eye or TribLocal, online in the original print format.

Your Own Deal

Urban Offer takes a different tack from the many group deal sites popping up: make an offer for how much you're willing to pay for a service (currently limited to salons and body care businesses, it seems) and see which business takes you up on it.

Groupon's Ad Campaign: Now a Third Off!

Bowing to pressure, Groupon has pulled its Tibet ad from television, although it still appears on the SaveTheMoney website -- and you can still donate to The Tibet Fund.

Epic Swarm

If you have foursquare on your phone, don't forget to check into the Snowpocalypse 2011: Chicago Edition.

Grubwithus: Never Dine Alone

Mashable profiles startup Grubwithus, a social-networky site about dining out with new people.

Behind the Scenes at Groupon

An anonymous employee of Groupon took questions on Reddit last week. [via]

Frequent Flyer Miles for the Internet

You may have spotted a little icon down in our footer: Frequent Browser is a rewards program that gives you points for, well, browsing the web.

Let Mom Play Online Yenta

If you're Jewish and single, you may have complicated feelings about, a new dating site that lets Jewish mothers connect their adult children.

TikTok Doesn't Stop

TikTok and LunaTik, the iPod nano watch kits we linked to awhile back, won the Kickstarter award for "Most... Everything?" after raising nearly $1million.

Chime In

Startup OpenChime lets users field quotes for things like home repairs. They're holding a Twitter contest for the best idea for beautifying Chicago; the winning idea gets $1,000.

Decelerating Particles

In other suburban science news, Fermilab received the (not entirely unexpected) news that the federal government is cutting off funding for its Tevatron collider.

Simple Circuits and a Magnet

The Vulnerability Assessment Team at the Argonne National Laboratory is up to creative white hat hacking.

How to Start Up

If you've been thinking about starting a business, lawyer Coco Soodek's Profit & Laws blog might help you decide what type of business to form. And her new book, Birth to Buyout, gives you pointers on every step of the life cycle of your business.

Sears Alphalines Video

Sears is getting into the streaming video business with Alphaline Entertainment, which is apparently named after sister store Kmart's house brand electronics cables.

Another Chicago Tech Blog

From the folks behind Chicago Art Magazine comes TINCmag, an online magazine about Chicago's technology industry.

No, Groupon isn't #1

Flyover Geeks picks their top 30 in Tech for 2010.

Your Mac Helper

Keymote is an app that turns your iPhone/iPod Touch into a keypad for all your shortcut key commands.

Get Home Safe

Bluelight is a safety app for iPhones that alerts a contact if you don't make it to a destination by a certain time.

City Submerged

Craig Shimala turns Chicago into a water wonderland with a digital camera strapped to his windshield (and a nice ambient soundtrack).

Mapmaking Fun

The New York Times has an interactive map for searching distribution of ethnicity and race all over the country based on American Community Survey data from 2005-2009. Chicago's maps are, uh...just as I thought.

Scale Up Your Idea

Got a good idea for a tech project? ScaleWell's has opened up its third grant round for applications.

Chicago Forward

CityForward, a new site built by John Tolva and a team at IBM's Chicago offices, provides platform for exploring city data. Check out the first couple data sets in Chicago.

Unload from Your Phone

Mapding is location-based mobile app for buying and selling items, such as concert tickets. It's available free on iPhone and Android.

Find a Desk

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

Kickstart Cold Fusion

137 Films is trying to finish a film about cold fusion, and has just a couple more days to go to raise the funds on Kickstarter. If you're into science, lend a hand.

You're Brewing it Wrong

Intelligentsia has come out with an iPhone/iPad app that teaches you the proper way to make your coffee. (Thanks, Roderick!)

I Want My $2

Did Comcast internet service go out for you on Sunday night? Comcast wants to give you a couple bucks for the inconvenience.

Coding Elves

Jelly Chicago is hosting Tech the Halls, its third annual holiday party for the Chicago startup community, Saturday night at Noble Tree.

Further Groupon News

While Google awaits an answer, Groupon has announced a couple new services: Groupon Stores and Deal Feed. Time Out has a bit more, and a peek inside Groupon HQ.

How Google Can Keep Groupon

Groupon's board is meeting today to discuss Google's purchase offer, which is officially official now, I guess. Should the deal go down, Henry Blodget has some suggestions for Google on how not to screw it up.

Groupon is Google's Deal of the Day?

Rumors are swirling that Google has purchased Groupon for $2.5 billion. No official announcements so far, but vague Twitter exchanges are being pointed to as evidence. UPDATE 11/30: Google's offer is reportedly $5.3 billion. Still no official word from either company.

"...and Point it at Boehner's House"

You can now see a little preview of President Obama asking the MythBusters team to figure out the Archimedes Death Ray; the full episode airs December 8th on the Discovery Channel.

The Fireball Effect

As of yesterday, Scott Wilson of MINIMAL's Kickstarter for an iPod Nano multitouch watch kits had raised $17,000. Then it got linked on Daring Fireball, and now it's at $97,000 and climbing.

Powering Computers Without Power Lines

A student-faculty collaboration at IIT has designed a "replicable, low-cost, durable, practical laptop charging" device for Haitian primary schools, 95% of which do not have electricity. They just won an award for their work and are raising money to implement the project.

Check-In On the Fly

Booking domestic holiday air travel? Now, through the end of 2010, if you check in for your United flight on your mobile phone, you'll get 1,000 bonus miles.

Geeks Unite for Good

The next local one is the first weekend in December.

20 Feet of Electronic Canvas

Researchers at UIC have gone way past the iPad.

No Eraser Needed

If you've got an iPad, 37signals's new Chalk app might be for you.

Excellence, Digital

The easiest way to get involved in Chicago's grassroots Neighborhood Technology movement is to attend the 1st Annual Chicago Neighborhood Digital Excellence Conference at DePaul University on 10/29. Details in Slowdown.

Robot Hands & Coffee Grounds

Not phrases usually found near each other. And yet there it is: a coffee ground-filled robotic "gripper" hand that wraps around an object and stiffens to pick it up, developed by a team led by led by Eric Brown of the University of Chicago.

We're Not Flyovers is the latest effort to bring Chicago's tech scene to national prominence. [via]

From the Smallest Seeds

Out at Argonne, they're watching nanoparticles grow in real time for the first time. [via]

Data Center to the World

Serious geekery: Of the top 10 largest data centers, three are in Chicagoland. The largest is close enough to the Loop to visit it on your lunch break.

Connecting the Tech Scene

Built in Chicago is a new social network "promoting technology companies in the world's greatest city."

No Need to Chase that Taxi?

City Council may soon consider the recommendation of the Inspector General to require all Chicago taxis be trackable by an integrated GPS network.

Social Bookmarking

Currently in soft launch mode, Shelfworthy is a social network built around consuming media -- a lot like Delicious Library, but online and social.

Sudo Make Me a Sandwich

Ever wish someone would just make you something to eat? Or maybe you'd really like to cook for someone. CookItFor.Us, a new site, er, cooked up at a hackathon last week, can help party A find party B.

The Relative Cost of Getting There

How much do you spend on transportation? Abogo from the Center for Neighborhood Technology shows you what the monthly average is for your neighborhood.

Bringing Coders & Designers Together

Sometimes developers have trouble finding designers to make their projects pretty; likewise, designers sometimes need help making what they create work. Just-launched Interhoods helps them find each other based on which neighborhood they live in, here as well as in SF and NYC.

#newtwitterceo is from #chicago

Dick Costolo, cofounder of Feedburner, was named CEO of Twitter today, after spending a year as the company's COO.

37signals Get New Digs

Our friends at 37signals recently moved into a new office, and they'd like you to be a part of it. (They've got a nice new front page, too.)

Weird Science

This year's Ig Nobel Prize winners have been announced. One of last year's winners, the locally produced Ebbra, a bra that can be used as two emergency protective face masks, is now on sale.

The Foursquarian Candidate

"Check in. Become mayor. Become Mayor." (By these guys.)

The Unsocial Network

Kiyoshi Martinez wrote a satirical article on The Wacky Deli about Mark Zuckerberg threatening to shut down Facebook if The Social Network is a hit. As a result, links to The Wacky Deli were blocked as "abusive" for a couple days.

The Invention Store

Inventables for the first time sells some of its amazing materials directly to consumers. Squishy magnet, anyone?


David Heinemeier Hansson doesn't believe that Facebook is worth $33 billion. Quite a few people disagree. [via]

Another CTA App

How many are there now? Anyway, TreKing Chicago is one for Android users, available in free and $3 versions.

The Perils of Geocaching, Part 3,052

A suburban Menards was evacuated on Saturday when an employee saw a man placing a box in a parking lot light post. Apparently the item had been cached there since January.

Good Geeks

You've heard of Doctors Without Borders, right? There's also Geeks Without Borders, and they're coming to Pumping Station: One in a couple weeks.

LAUNCH in a Month

The cumbersomely named tech startup conference midVenturesLAUNCH is a month away, and just announced that Groupon's Andrew Mason will be the keynote. There's still a little time to submit your startup concept to compete for $100,000.

Garage Tries to be "Green"

Greenway Parking Garage, at Clark and Kinzie, is seeking LEED certification. The parking garage features twelve helical wind turbines, but might still have trouble shaking the irony of their slogan "Chicago's first earth friendly parking garage."

Fundraise It Forward

Speaking of fundraisers, Chicago-based GiveForward provides the ability to create a fundraising page for anyone or -thing. And Everyone You Know

If you're headed to the vast empire of Lollapalooza, stay up to date with your friends' schedules and where to find them in the throngs of thousands with a new free app for smart phones called Details in Transmission.

Online Presents

The federal government has granted two Chicago groups a cumulative $16 million to expand broadband Internet access in the city. Maybe that'll put a dent in the gaping one-fourth share of Chicago without Internet. Pops is "an international gathering of noise & new media practitioners, and it's coming to Chicago Sept. 29 through Oct. 3.

This Is Why You Should Work For Argonne

The folks at Argonne National Laboratory wanted to know how a caterpillar moves. So they built a tiny, custom-built caterpillar treadmill and blasted it with fancy x-rays, discovering that at least one species of caterpillar precedes each step with a thrust of its gut. According to NPR, the finding points to an entirely new mode of animal locomotion and could lead researchers to develop new robotic tools for exploration and medicine.

Silicon Coast

How could Chicago be more like Silicon Valley? Groupon's Andrew Mason has some suggestions.

Making iPhones Work Better

AT&T will soon be rolling out free wifi in an as-yet unconfirmed "Chicago area" hotspot to help alleviate traffic congestion on its cellular network. The service is already in Times Square and the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, NC.

Text Mess

37signals points out a really dumb bug on Motorola's new Droid X.

Tweeting the National Mood

Geeks at Northeastern University have plotted more than 300 million tweets over three years. The results is a series of neat cartograms that map the mood of twitter users across America. Using a psychological word-rating system, the tweets suggest that the west coast is happier than the east coast, and that national happiness peaks each Sunday morning and crashes Thursday evenings. Roger Ebert couldn't wait to tweet this!

Interviews are Death

Over at Bad at Sports, Nicholas O'Brien interviews Jason Rohrer, creator of the online game Sleep is Death, from within the game.

D Timer 3 Anniversary

Speaking of anniversaries, it's the third for @timer, a simple reminder-via-Twitter service built by FoGB Scott Robbin

Threadless on Your Laptop

Dell has tapped Threadless to provide case designs for its Design Studio line of laptops. (They're also on your feet, thanks to a deal with Havaianas.)

37signals' Next Draft

37signals just introduced Draft [opens in iTunes], a sketching program for the iPad.

It'd Be a ChicagoCrime not to Apply

EveryBlock is hiring a community manager.

Tasting Chicago on Your iPhone

Before you head to the Taste of Chicago this year, you may want to download its pretty darned good official app [opens in iTunes].

IPhone Attacks Chicago

In addition to the authors living in Chicago, Ars Technica's review of Apple's iOS 4 has another local connection: the cool iphone wallpaper featuring the skyline under attack.

Star Bright

IT training program i.c.stars gets some attention from tech publisher O'Reilly.

WindyCitizen Founder Wins Knight News Challenge

Brad Flora, founder of WindyCitizen, is one of this year's Knight News Challenge winners. He received $250,000 to develop his Twitter-connected "real-time ads" into a full-fledged ad platform, NowSpots.

Start It Up

Got an idea for a startup? Take it to Startup Weekend June 25-27 and you might see it launch.

Adding to the Trasit Apps Pile

Another transit app for your consideration: ChiTransit. (

Buster & Metrack Get You There

As mentioned in the recent Fuel thread, Buster is one of the best CTA bus tracker apps out there -- and if you ride Metra, you'll be interested to hear about Metrack, its sister rail schedule app.

Foursquare Ferris

Get a little creative with your best Ferris Beuller movie reenactment ideas, and you could win a couple of tickets to fly friends into town to have a great "day off." Explore Chicago is sponsoring this Ferris Foursquare mission today and tomorrow. Leave your ideas on this Foursquare Facebook wall post to enter.

Turning Pages from Afar

Local startup Readeo helps parents (or others) read with their children wherever they are, online.

Groupon Raids Crain's

Brandon Copple, managing editor of Crain's Chicago Business, is leaving to work for Groupon. Interesting timing, in light of the magazine's front page story and video profile of the service last week.

Lights, Action, Design

Lightology, the locally based largest contemporary lighting showroom in North America, is having a design contest. The concept must feature at least one foot of Lightology's LED Soft Strip, and prizes include a $2,000 Lightology gift card and a feature in i4 design magazine. More details here.

What's the Buzz?

Buzzd offers a look at what places around the city are "buzzing" on Twitter and other social media sites.

Strange Intruments

Speaking of Scalewell, its first beneficiary, Unatronics, has released the product it used its grant to develop: Seeq-it.

Scalewell's 2nd Round Winners

Tech fund Scalewell announced its two latest grant winners last night: WinkVid, an online video-based speed-dating service, and CommuniTeach, a social network that helps people teach each other new skills.

Time to Get Organized

Orggit is a locally based web app that helps organize important documents (like health records) while keeping them secure.

Tweet About The First Amendment, Win An iPad

All you need to do is write insightful tweets about the First Amendment and if they're good enough, you'll win an iPad. Time Out Chicago's TOC Blog has the details.

Correcting Travel Times with Your Phone

The removal of many of the Eisenhower's traffic travel sensors has caused IDOT to seek a new way of measuring traffic speed: Bluetooth.

Get in the Middle

The Tech in the Middle conference will help tech folk get up to speed on mobile technologies; if you're interested in delving into that space, this might be the place to start.

Welcome to College, Here's Your iPad

All incoming IIT students will be receiving iPads when they arrive in the fall.

Seed Money for Sprout Social

Sprout Social, a social networking tool suite for businesses, just raised some seed capital.

Information Wants to be Free

The City just launched a data portal as part of its new transparency push. So far, it's all FOIA requests.

Your Facebook Privacy Primer

Wondering whether to delete your Facebook account? Dan Sinker has a collection of links to help you evaluate the decision.

Foursquare Meals

Foursquare has made an unlikely alliance with Crain's Chicago Business to deliver restaurant recommendations for your next business lunch, based on your location.


Tech blog GDGT is coming to Chicago May 12.

Tales of Early Computing

How I Met Your Motherboard is the latest project by Found Magazine co-founder Jason Bitner, collecting stories of people's first computers -- including, er, mine. Share your own tales in Fuel.

Head of NIH @ Northwestern Tomorrow

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, will be lecturing at the Thorne Auditorium at Northwestern tomorrow (375 E. Chicago) at 2pm to discuss the NIH and its role in scientific advancements. If you can't make the event, it will be webcasted live as well.

Start your Registrations

Registration for Chicago Startup Weekend is now open. Now to figure out what your startup is.

United States of Apple

On the map of Apple product concentration, we come in #6, with 2.1 million adults and eight stores.

Videogames Ain't Art?

Roger Ebert doesn't think videogames can be art. Disagree? Let him know.

Just Columbia's Type

Want your document to look like it was part of Columbia College's old marketing campaign? Set it in Sansarah.

Track Those Expenses

Apparently Chicago is a hotbed for mobile web expense trackers. Joining TextHog in that market is ProOnGo, which lets you auto-fill your expense reports.

Date Roulette

New locally developed dating site WinkVid lets you speed-date via your computer's camera.

Talking Content

The Web Content conference is in Chicago this June if you're into that sort of thing.

Nothing at All Like Chatroulette

Reel Roulette is a new site aimed at making it easy to find motion graphics pros (you know, the people who make animations and stuff). Local motion graphics pros Nick Campbell and Trevor Turk teamed up with web developer Joshua Schaible and built it in less than two weeks.

Nokia Buys Novarra

Nokia is buying Itasca-based mobile browser company Novarra.

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.

Chalking the Neighborhood

BlogChalk is a service meant to let you leave virtual messages around your neighborhood via your cellphone. Check out the ones left so far in Chicago.

Famous Followers

So you follow Roger Ebert on Twitter, but why doesn't he follow you?

Behind The Scenes: Follow Mayor Daley and Not Get Arrested

Back in 2008, Daniel X. O'Neil thought it would be a good idea for Mayor Daley to have a Twitter account, so he made one and tried to give it to him.

A Google Guide to Cycling in Chicago

The newest feature on Google Maps provides bicycle directions for many US cities, including Chicago. While some features like helping cyclists avoid steep inclines may not be particularly useful here, an instructional video does point out some helpful tidbits.

Hack(er) Journalists

Tech and journalism meet with Hacks and Hackers, a merger of two near-identically named organizations here, New York and in the Bay Area.

Even More Surveillance

Now that criminals have learned to operate around the perimeters of blue light cameras, Chicago police plan to deploy smaller undetectable cameras around the city.

Pick a Fight

REWORK, the new book by 37signals founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson about the company's contrarian business philosophies, is out in stores and online today.

The Original Online Community

Before the Web, there was the Bulletin Board System, or BBS. The first public one was CBBS, launched in Chicago during the Blizzard of 1978. You might think they're a thing of the past, but at least one is still up and going strong.

No More Information At This Time

What's the 411? It's the end of an era.

Musical Waveforms

Beep-it is an optical theramin built by hand by Michael Una, recipient of Scalewell's first $1,000 grant.

Chicago Tech Support

Is support for Chicagoland tech startups on the rise? Yes, Crain's says, through new funding sources including Excelerate, Lightbank and Scalewell.

Live in Chicago? There's an App for That

Explore Chicago has just launched an online gallery of free and cheap Chicago-oriented smartphone apps (mostly geared to you iPhone users, though some work on Blackberry and the like). You can keep track of shows at Broadway in Chicago, menus on GrubHub, get the latest Bears rumors, or locate nearby LGBT businesses through the Gay Cities Guide.

Mobilizing in March

Interested in developing software for cellphones? The Day of Mobile on March 6 may be for you.

A Token Message

Lifetokens are sort of like Webkinz for messages: real life tokens sent by snail mail, with a code to enter on a website for a multimedia message from a friend.

Going to the Auto Show?

Look out for's top five cars at the Chicago Auto Show.

Online Community Before the Web

The first online bulletin board launched 32 years ago today. Its programmer-inventors founded it during the Chicago blizzard of 1978, paving the way for the snowed-in Twitter hordes of today.

Never See "Loading..." Again

Google is launching a pilot program to bring 1 Gbps internet into the homes of a few thousand lucky users. That's about 250 times faster than the national average broadband speed. They will select communities based on nominations submitted by regular folks and local governments. Tell Google why your neighborhood is a good candidate for a chance to be an internet pioneer and stick it to the cable lobby at the same time.

Introducing the iBap

OhNo!Doom has the jeans to go with your new iPad.

I've Unlocked the Celery Salt!

If you use the social mapping app Foursquare on your phone, you can now get exclusive Chicago-themed badges -- Chicago blues, Chicago-style hot dogs and Chicago film locations -- if you visit certain places.

TAL in Graphic, iPhone Form

This American Infographic is a collection of graphic representations of data from episodes of "This American Life." A good companion to the new TAL iPhone app launched this week.

Hob Nob for a Job

Looking for work -- or looking for someone to work for you? Jobnob Chicago is holding a job networking event for start-ups Feb. 24.

CPD Ups Its Social Media Game

The department unveiled a new public safety alert system today, designed to deliver urgent, location-specific email and text messages to registered subscribers. CPD says Nixle will help citizens "stay more safe and aware" while increasing community engagement.

Mobile App Battle Royale

The Gothamist network, MenuPages and BlackBook all released mobile apps recently, each putting Chicago-specific info at your fingertips. They all join Yelp, UrbanSpoon and Not For Tourists.

Localizing the Apple Story

If you're getting ready to tune in for Apple's big tablet announcement, Chicago-based Ars Technica has you covered with a liveblog from SF.

Tomorrow's Other Big Speech

Obama's first State of the Union Address will have some major competition tomorrow: Steve Jobs will present what is assumed to be Apple's new tablet computer. Threadless co-founder Jacob DeHart has an interesting theory that the announcement may be even bigger than that.

Sticker Your Bus Stop

Here's some productive tagging for you: CTA Stop ID is crowdsourcing the placement of informational stickers or signs on all the CTA bus stops, to help people take better advantage of the SMS-based Bus Tracker service.

Tweet Resists Libel Claim

The libel lawsuit against a woman who tweeted a complaint about her landlord, Horizon Group Management, has been dismissed with prejudice.

But Will it Scale?

Got an interesting idea for a tech start-up? Scale Well wants to give you $1000 and some co-working space to help get you traction.

He Was the Nazz

Nikola Tesla was a brilliant Serbo-American scientist and inventor whose alternating current equipment powered the electric lights of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. According to the thumbnail portrait in the Wall Street Journal, he also recorded the seminal albums The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and Lodger.

Tech in the City is the latest site attempting to cover ...well, you can probably guess.

You Damn Dirty Apps

Doejo's Texthog was featured last night on CNBC's special "Planet of the Apps: A Handheld Revolution" about smartphone apps. The episode runs again Sunday, Jan. 10 at 11pm.

Human Powered

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

Ever Wanted to Own an Apple Store?

If so, you're in luck.

"Star of Wonder" Darkening

After more than 70 years of projections, the Adler Planetarium will be closing its "Star of Wonder" show for the last time on January 3.

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]

Life, Liberty and a Gb/s

In a couple of months the FCC presents congress with the National Broadband Plan; a road map for delivering high-speed internet to all Americans and closing the speed gap between the US and much of the developed world. So far the plan has received "mixed reviews." Get your two cents in during a public hearing [pdf] Monday at the Gleacher Center.

Architecture Tours by iPhone

The folks behind PrairieMod have created FanGuide Tours, offering printed Prairie School architectural guides to Oak Park and River Forest -- and now iPhone tours of Chicago's architectural wonders.

Swooping In with a Discount

Groupon competitor YouSwoop officially launches Thursday. Crain's Enterprise City has an interview with founder Alexander Lurie.

Naperville's Full of Ideas Worth Spreading

You've heard of TED, right? Well, next March you're invited to TEDx Naperville.

Get it Tgethr

Web2.0 spelling aside, Tgethr is an "anti-fancy" email collaboration app developed by the local folks behind Inkling Markets.

There Wasn't an App for That

The NYTimes covers cellphones and the industry's drive to keep people chatting on them when they shouldn't. Interestingly, the piece shows a photo of a 1983 event at Soldier's Field, when Ameritech executives (huge trench-coat fans, apparently) gathered to watch the first cellphone call.

CivicNet, Wifi, WiMax & Beyond

For those with a long memory, the mayor's plans to bridge the digital divide sound awfully familiar.

Find A Bike Rack

The Chicago Department of Transportation has created a bike rack finder, sortable by zip codes. (h/t: Julia Thiel)

4G Is The New 3G

Hey all of you 3G slugs, step aside. Comcast launched its new 4G highspeed internet service today in the city today, joining Philadelphia, Atlanta and Portlant, Oregon. Just think of delivered at blazing speed!

The Bean, No Hancock

Gowalla is an app on your iPhone that lets you share places you've been, and features lots of neat icons for landmarks. Chicago's one of its popular cities, so you'd think they'd a custom icon for the Hancock Building like they do for the Bean and Sears Tower.

Questionable Automation

GB flickr pool contributor mick.chicago demonstrates why automated news aggregators still have a ways to go with this unfortunate placing of a St. Patrick's Day photograph of the Chicago River next to articles about the Michael Scott death.

Windy City Times Gets App'd

It's been a tough week for LGBT media, just ask the now closed Washington Blade (or don't). But like all print media, it's time to evolve. Chicago's oldest LGBT weekly, Windy City Times just released a new iPhone app, providing local, national and world LGBT news and entertainment pieces to join its Facebook and Twitter social networks.

A Dress to be Seen In

With 24,000 LEDs and 4,000 Swarovski crystals, it'd be hard not to be seen in CuteCircuit's Galaxy dress, commissioned by the Museum of Science and Industry for its current exhibition, Fast Forward: Inventing the Future.

A Place to Eat Socially

Culinary Culture is a new social network for "serious and aspiring foodies" launched today by Threadless cofounder Jakob DeHart and his wife, Mischa.

Tweeting in Chicago

Tweet Home Chicago is a site intended to help you find other Chicagoans worth following on Twitter.

Locally Produced Web Tools

37signals is far from the only developer putting together useful web-based tools in Chicago. ThinkLink produces Thinklinkr, a collaborative outliner, and Mocklinkr for clickable design mockups.

872, Represent?

The new area code 872 goes live on Saturday, so don't forget you'll need to dial an area code for any Chicago number -- even if it's in the same area code as your phone.

The Trib launched on Sunday, pushing Tribune property sports content out throughout the day like they do on Which got me wondering: what other "breaking" domains do they own?

Finding the Needle

37signals just (pre)launched Haystack, a site to help you find a web designer for your project. More background here.

Sports Reporting by Robots

Stats Monkey is a project at Northwestern's Intelligent Information Laboratory that might one day make sports reporting obsolete. Of course, that'd just mean more time for sportwriters to be columnists. [via]

What Would You Like to See on Google Street View?

Google is accepting suggestions for off-of-the-street places for its Street View trike to document. Do you have a Chicago location to suggest? Perhaps the Lakefront Path or your favorite park?

Learn to Tweet

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

New Feature at Windy Citizen

The Windy Citizen just got a little more democratic with the ability to vote comments up and down.

Digging into .Gov

Stump Connolly of The Week Behind profiles the various ways people are data-mining the government.

A New Mode of Data Storage

Microsoft's suburban data center is experimenting with shipping containers as modular units to be added or subtracted with computing demands.

Calling All iPhones

Listening to a police scanner can be really interesting -- and a bit scary at times. A new app for the iPhone/iPod Touch lets you put all 13 CPD dispatch zones in your pocket. (Thanks, Dan!)

Talkin' About Design

Local designer Ryan McGovern hosts DesignChat, a live streaming video discussion for creative professionals. Check the site's blog for past wisdom from design luminaries or catch this week's discussion with the award-winning creatives behind Big Space Ship at 5:30pm on Wednesday, in the Mashable chatroom.

Cut Rate Condos

Looking to snap up some cheap property? Or maybe just get a glimpse of just how much of a discount nearby units are going for? CondoShark has your answer.

Some Help Turning Off the Bus

CTA employees who clean busses typically need to turn on bus engines to provide light, temperature controls and other power while they work in them. That will change for 80 busses thanks to a new $1.5 million federal Recovery Act grant.

Goodbye, Google

For the past four years, developers in Google's Chicago office have been working on a way for you to take your data (contacts, files, etc.) with you if you leave Google's products, like gmail. Their work has paid off in the form of the Data Liberation Front. [via]

Online Ordering Diversifies

Chicago's own GrubHub, which has been expanding into other cities, recently got a competitor on its home turf: Eat24Hours.

Cadence & Slang

Chicago-based interaction designer Nick Disabato has launched a Kickstarter project to help fund his new book, Cadence & Slang. Simply put, Cadence & Slang is a book about interaction design. Help make it a reality.

Hold Off on that Jailbreak

If you're annoyed with your iPhone dropping calls right and left, you may be heartened to hear AT&T is rolling out improved network technology in Chicago later this year.

Surfing the Municipal Web

Chicago's website may not be the best, but at least it's not Rosemont's. More.

Twitter Burner

Longtime Chicago tech guru and Feedburner founder Dick Costolo is becoming Twitter's chief operating officer, according to TechCrunch. [via]

Outfitting Your iPhone

Appolicious is a Chicago-based social networking-ish site that helps you find the right app for your iPhone -- or whatever phone you have.

Giddyup, Internet!

A national report for Internet speeds in 2009 demonstrates our fine state is falling behind in Internet performance.


EveryBlock, the Chicago-based news and public information aggregator, has been acquired by Crain's has some more detail.

New Number for Tattoos

As we mentioned back in 2007, November will be the roll out time for our new overlay area code: 872.

This One Goes to 11 155

New Chicago-based microblogging service Wooxie allows 155 characters instead of 140, and offers a photo gallery. We're testing it out.

25% of the City Won't Read This

A quarter of Chicago doesn't use the Internet, a new study finds. The number is more like 39 percent in the Spanish-speaking community. [via]

Hackers Get Free Parking

Apparently the "smart" electronic parking meters used in Chicago and other cities are fairly easy to exploit by hackers. [via]

Yet Another Googlemap - Cycling Edition

CitySpokes maps out the city's bike paths, with a convenient trip planner to help you take advantage of them.

PayPal Alternative

Not a fan of PayPal or Google Checkout? Local startup mPayy might be your solution.

Lolla by Touch

Headed to Lollapalooza? There's an iPhone app for that.

CTA Tweet Gets Better

The CTA Tattler is working to improve CTA Tweet, its Twitter-based alert system.

EveryBlock for Any Block

EveryBlock's Knight grant ran out yesterday, and on that momentous occasion, they released the source code for the platform, allowing anyone to produce a similar site for their town. Read my profile of the company and their future plans in Chicago magazine.

Tipping Through Twitter

OK, so we're going to try a little experiment. We now have a Twitter tip line at @GBtips in addition to our main account. It's powered by Spotd, the retweet system behind the popular Tamale Guy Tracker. Learn how it works after the jump...

If you've got a Twitter account, you can send us story tips -- breaking news, interesting links, events, whatever -- to that account in the form of an "@ reply" and it'll be retweeted in the GBtips stream. We'll keep an eye on what comes in and possibly use your tip in posts on GB! And of course, we'll give you credit.

This is highly experimental -- it could become a huge mess, or die from disuse. We'll block anyone who gets abusive, vulgar or spammy with it. If you've got any feedback for us, DM us on that account or the main GB account or send us an email.

Find My iPhone Works

In one instance, at least. [via]

Hot or Not for the Twittering Masses

Locally produced Hot Tweeters should eat up some of your time on a rainy afternoon.

iPhonin' at Grand

AT&T service will soon be available in CTA subways. Gmail in the station!

Chicago's Still Got Game

Though times may be tough for local video game developer Midway Games, Chicago-based upstart Robomodo has been tapped to develop Ride, the latest entry in the highly successful Tony Hawk franchise. Tony showed off the game and its unique skateboard-shaped controller during the Xbox 360 press conference at E3 last week.

Only a Matter of Time

Twitter Tees by Threadless.

Bringing the Funny, 140 Characters at a Time

Is Twitter the new improv class? The Trib's @RexHuppke talks one-liners with a couple of Chicago's funniest tweeps.

Springfield is Atwitter

The Illinois Policy Institute has created Tweet Illinois, a service that allows you to track what your twittering state legislators are talking about. More details in Mechanics.

EveryBlock in Your Pocket

EveryBlock now has an iPhone app, so you can check on crime stats of the very corner you're standing on. (And restaurants nearby, too.)

Musicians Go to Band Camp, Designers Go to...

There are a couple good opportunities for Chicago designers and coders ahead. Camp Firebelly is coming up May 1, 2009 Innovation Summit is coming up at the end of May, FITC brings its Flash conference here mid-June, and you can already register for An Event Apart in October.

Broadway To Go

Yesterday, Broadway in Chicago became the first theater organization to offer an official iPhone application. Way to get the show on the road, guys! [via]

Still Fast

Once again, Chicago has made Fast Company's list of cities of the year. This time, the magazine highlights the I-Go + CTA Smart Card program.

Fighting Crime with T9

Remember the CPD/CPS TXT2TIP [pdf] program? Yeah, no one else did either. The program received 70 text messages since September 10, 2008, and, um, "some were hoaxes." Given its tremendous success, Huberman is reviving the program.

News on Hyperlocal News

Local startup EveryBlock was part of a story on hyperlocal news sites in the New York Times this weekend. (Thanks, Elizabeth!)

Will This Be On The iTest?

Loyola University here in Chicago is using something called iclickers to track and increase students' involvement in class.

Reach Out and Bump Someone

The latest cool iPhone app comes from our very own University of Chicago where two business school students have come up with a clever way to exchange info between users.

Get Started This Weekend

Got an idea for a new tech project? Bring it to Startup Weekend this weekend, and it might become a reality.

A Life in Layers

Can't make it down to the Oriental Institute but want to learn more about mummies? The University of Chicago Magazine created an interactive mummy dissection that combines photographs, CT scans and interviews with researchers to examine the Institute's 2,800-year-old dummy -- without cracking the seal.

CraigsList Erotic Services Drop

A week after Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart sued CraigsList to stop allowing "erotic services" ads on its site, CL reports that its listings of that type are down 90 percent. We already knew they were lower than elsewhere in the country.

Cross-reference That Cookbook

Recipe Comparison is a local site that allows you to search for recipes and compare them across several major recipe sites. Great for dishes where there's no one way to do it.

"Commissioner Tweetie"

Cook County Commissioner Tony Paraica has been live-tweeting board meetings.

The Increasing Significance of Surveillance Cameras

Thanks to a $6 million Homeland Security grant, the city of Chicago has integrated the 911 emergency response center with video feeds from the city's cameras, as well as those from 20 private institutions. An additional 17 organizations are expected to sign on shortly.

The Great Silent Lake

According to this somewhat confusing graph, Chicago is the world's third most innovative hub, behind only Silicon Valley and Tokyo, in terms of the number diversity of separate companies developing new patents. [via]

Where've You Been?

Where I've Been is a new site that allows you to track and share your travels on a variety of social networks. They're hosting a Facebook Developers Garage tonight if you're interested.

File Your Receipt in Your Phone

TextHog is a new service that allows you to keep track of receipts and other expenses by text or email.


Compare and contrast: The possibly overreaching changes to Facebook's terms of service, and the sweet simplicity of the current "25 things" meme.

They're Heeeeerre....

At the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference here in Chicago over the weekend, cosmologist Paul Davies of Arizona State University says that alien life, in one form or another, does indeed exist and may already be living here on Earth! (I thought that guy at 7-11 looked a little weird.)

Tamale Guy Tracker

The search for the Tamale Guy just got a little easier with Twitter.

Bad Economy Wins!

Chicago-based video game developer Midway Games filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today after a nearly five-year battle with their finances. The Mortal Kombat creator recently laid off 25% of their local workforce in an unsuccessful attempt to stay afloat.

Who's Representing You?

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

Radio You

Local web firm Mightybytes spiced up its holiday party by creating an internal radio station that played in every room of its office. Here's how they did it. Bonus: listen to their very own groove-tastic playlist.

Not Encyclowikia Britannica

Encyclopedia Britannica's new user-generated version of its online encyclopedia debuted today, but it's nothing like Wikipedia.

Super Bowl Tickets Don't Come That Cheap

Chicago-based ticket-brokering site says got caught up in a Super Bowl ticket scam, in which "hackers" allegedly posted sales of tickets they didn't own.

Every Single Block

EveryBlock has introduced a feature that allows you to see neighborhood trends right down to individual blocks. Still no pothole data, though -- not that they're not trying.

Play Secretary

MiniMtg is a simple conference call collaborative note-taking service, developed by Brent Sordyl.

Listen to Your Neck

Tired of earbuds? Maybe necksets are for you. The "bizarre" headphone alternatives are made by suburban S1 Audio.

Another Mobile CTA Bus Tracker, Though Prettier

Michael Simmons releases his iPhone-ified CTA Bus Tracker. If you're looking for a more native looking app, this is it. Just point your iPhone here.

Crowdsourcing a Winner

Chicago crowdsourcing startup crowdSPRING won Wired's Small Biz Program contest.

Chicago Best 3G Coverage

Gizmodo does a citywide road test of AT&T, Sprint and Verizon. Compare to the rest of the country.

Less Mortal Kombat, More Mortal Combat

Midway Games' Chicago office laid off 130 full-time employees just in time for the holidays.

Jellified Holidays

In between all the other holiday parties this weekend, here's a freebie for you: Jelly Chicago and other local tech folks (including Gapes Block) are hosting a free holiday party at Noble Tree Coffee & Tea, 2444 N. Clark St., Saturday night at 10pm. It's free; just RSVP.

Your Daily Commute prettifies the CTA Bus Tracker for your mobile device, but also allows you to save favorite bus routes and stops.


If you're already thinking about the weekend, here's something a little different: IIT will be hosting a Midwest robotics tournament.

CTA Rolls Out Hybrid Buses

The CTA unveiled new hybrid buses today that plug into an electrical outlet at night and run on battery power for most of the day. The move is estimated to save the CTA almost $7 million annually in maintenance, labor and fuel costs by retiring aging buses.

Spirit of Competition

Chicago-based crowdSPRING is the front-runner in Wired's small business competiton. Watch their video and vote for the local team.

High Tech & Created in Chicago

Callpod is a local company producing some very cutting edge gadgets, including multi-device chargers and extra-strength bluetooth headsets.

Perfect Power at IIT

Yesterday, IIT announced it will build the first smart microgrid electricity system in the United States. The system promises to "virtually eliminate" power outages and allow the university to sell excess electricity, all the while saving at least $2 million a year.

Be Obama

Local artist and programmer Dubi Kaufmann created a plugin for Apple's Photo Booth called "Obamafy." The plugin is based on Shepard Fairey's amazingly popular Obama poster.

CTA Gets Smart

Looks like the trusty Chicago Card may become obsolete in the near future. The CTA is claiming that a new "smart" version of credit and debit cards will be accepted for payment of bus and train fares in about a year. Seems like a rather bold prediction, but it could mean more money for other improvements if it pans out.

Better Living Through 'Slurpees'

Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory have developed a "life-saving, Slurpee-like slurry" which "rapidly cools the body from the inside out, giving doctors more time to treat patients while staving off harmful complications, saving lives." [via]

BlogHer to Blog Here

BlogHer is bringing its annual conference back to Chicago next year.

Twitter H8ter Twitter

For every trend, there's an anti-trend. Twitter has blown up ...and spawned h8ter, created by local webfolk. Sign up for a h8ter account and h8te on all sorts of stuff. Not only that, but your h8tes will be tweeted (anonymously) on Twitter.

A 'Cell' Of A Deal

A new cell phone carrier, Cricket, is coming to town, bringing $45-a-month service and unlimited texting. Just in time for the latest economic downturn.

Colorful Music

Flash artist and past GB staffer Felix Jung has created Colourful Echo, which creates a color-paletted visualizer for songs you upload. Here's an example.

The Twittering Masses

Keep your finger on pulse of the city with Chicago Tweets.

Tech Cocktailing

Chicago tech scenesters: the next Tech Cocktail will be Nov. 6. RSVP now.

Cause for Cell-ebration

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the first commercial cellular call, made to the grandson of Alexander Graham Bell from a ceremony just outside of Soldier Field. Making the call was a Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, also known as the "brick" phone. It cost $3,995, which converts to $8,787.64 in 2008.

As the Tech World Turns

Valleywag claims Google wants to buy Chicago-based EveryBlock and/or hire its founder, Adrian Holovaty. However, Holovaty himself appeared in the comments to say that it was news to him. [via] UPDATE: Valleywag follows up with more speculation.

Better Late Than...

Admitting he never thought he'd win one, University of Chicago Professor Yoichiro Nambu, 87, was awarded a 2008 Nobel Prize for his work in subatomic physics and notified via an early Tuesday phone call from Stockholm. And how did your day start?

Four Bars, No Signal

Ever wonder why sometimes your cellphone seems to be in service but you can't make a call? Here's your answer.

Crowdfunded Shirts

Cameesa has a lot in common with Threadless: it's based in Chicago, makes user-submitted designer t-shirts and all web2.0-y. The difference is, Cameesa's shirts only get printed if they're pre-sold above a certain threshold within 31 days.

Things You Don't See Every Day

Mayor Daley in a floating chair. (Check out the magnetically levitating chaise lounge and other interesting stuff at Wired NextFest in Millennium Park for the next two weeks.

The CTA is All Atwitter

If you use Twitter, you can now follow your favorite El line, buses or the CTA as a whole, and send updates to the group thanks to CTA Tweet, created ex-GB staffer Dan O'Neil, who also created the cellular CTA Alert System and works at Everyblock. More details on CTA Tattler.

Six-Ring Domain

Have you visited, when you meant to go to The former is owned by a Northwestern grad student, and features a "fair and balanced discussion" of Chicago's Olympic bid -- and the bid committee wants to use it for their own purposes. Both sides are now suing for control of the domain.

Look Closely

In its neverending quest to save lost souls around the globe, Google Maps offered up a new version of its mobile software today (available here) that includes Street View, walking directions and local business reviews. They also recently updated their standard maps to include some building numbers if you zoom in reeeally close.

Like YouTube for Non-Profits

DoGooderTV doesn't have hot coeds behaving badly, but it does feature some pretty good videos.

Viewing the Stars from the U of C

NASA named another telescope after a U of C researcher, and this time it's Enrico Fermi. The article also provides a list of other U of C affiliates similarly immortalized, from Chandrasekhar to Hubble.

Like American Idol, But With Science

MAKE: Magazine is coming to Chicago to debut a new event: American Maker, a day-long program that will highlight innovation in the community. American Make will happen at the MSI as part of the upcoming Science Chicago celebration. If you're a local area maker and want more information about how to participate in American Maker, the full details are at the MAKE: blog.

Is Tech Dead in Chicago?

Tech reporters Howard Wolinsky and Brad Spirrison think it's debatable.

Holovaty's Star Rising

The Tribune profiled Adrian Holovaty of EveryBlock in the Sunday Magazine.

Always Beta

Life in Perpetual Beta is a new video interview series talking with people working on the web, including a bunch of names you already know: Fried, Coudal, Skinnycorp...

37signals Gets Real Live

At 3pm today, tune to this URL for a little live discussion with the 37signals team.

Shop Talk for Chefs & Servers

If you're in the restaurant or hospitality industry, check out FohBoh, a new social network.

Bike Socially

The Chain Link is a new social network for the city's bicyclists.

Chicago: Cuil vs. Google, a new search engine created by ex-Google engineers, launched today. Compare Chicago on Cuil to Chicago on Google. Better?

Now Digg This

Local members of got together at smartbar last night; WindyCitizen has the wrap-up.

Smile, You're On Red Light Camera

The city has 104 red light cameras. They plan on installing 25 more. They expect to collect more than $50 million in fines because of them. If gas prices weren't enough to make you ditch the car, this might do it.

CTA + Fail Whale + ??? = Profit!

Introducing Where the El?, twitter-driven live tracking of CTA trains.

Hanging with Your Internet Friends

Two ways to meet your invisible friends next week: the Digg Meetup on the 23rd and Yelp Around the World party on the 24th. If you're a member of either (or both), don't forget to RSVP.

People You May Know: Barack Obama

The New York Times tells the story of one of the founders of Facebook who left it all behind to move to Chicago and work for Barack Obama.

Life on the Silicon Prairie

As a good number of our readers know, Chicago's a fine tech city, ranking seventh for the third straight year.

Super Computing

Argonne National Laboratory now has the third most powerful supercomputer in the world.

Pedal to the Tech Metal

Got an idea for a tech startup? You've got till Friday to apply for IL-Celerate, a 12-week program to get you up and running. You don't even need a business plan.

Hybrid Owners Still Being Charged

Unlike other cities, Chicago is showing no special preferences to owners of hybrid cars by giving them a break on feeding the meter and providing them with free parking spaces to encourage their use. Should we really be surprised?

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.

New Local Social Network

It's called Soceeo (pronounced like "socio-economic"), and it went live today.

Yet Another Googlemap - Ancestry Edition

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

Video Game Inclusion = Bank

Chicago band Greenskeepers is royally reaping the benefits of inclusion in GTA IV and its advertisements.

New Blog on Chicago Tech

The newly launched Windy Wire picks up where WindyBits left off, posting up-to-the-minute news on Chicago's tech scene.

Wi-Fi? Yawn.

The "Jetsonian" WiMAX is reportedly coming to Chicago by year's end.

Not David Lightman

A New Trier Township High School senior got caught hacking into the school's computer system. How did he get caught? Staff walked around the school and looked at students' screens.

Taking the Wind Out of the May Report

WindyBits has morphed into a tech event calendar, but it does offer one bonus: a cleaned up and reader-friendly version of the May Report.

Another Conference for Your Docket

Interested in Perl but can't pay the big bucks to attend a conference? Check out YAPC, coming to Chicago in June. It'll only set you back a $100.

Cleaning Up In More Ways Than One

Chicago is on track to become the first city to have a street sweeper-mounted camera system. As the sweeper moves down the street it will take a take a photo of any illegally-parked vehicle and a second image of the license plate, relaying both automatically to the Department of Revenue. Strictly for traffic flow purposes, you understand.

A Wireless(on) at U of C Law School

The buzz is growing over The University of Chicago Law School's recent decision to cut off wireless Internet access in classrooms. Something about students chatting, checking email or playing solitare during class...

Used Electronics Recycling Made Easy

Chicago is set to be a pilot city in a new USPS electronics recycling program.

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.

There's a Social Network for Everything

Introducing MyCampFriends.

Commodity Exchanges, A Timeline

Starting with the establishment of the Chicago Board of Trade in 1848, Reuters walks us through commodity exchange history.

The Podcasters Are Coming

Interested in learning more about audio and video podcasting and other social media? You might want to sign up for PodCamp Chicago, an "unconference" scheduled for early June. [via]

Keep it Simple, Stupid

37signals was profiled in the latest issue of Wired, and were described variously as "brash" "arrogant" "demigods." Jason Fried posted a response to some of the "myths" described in the story.

Each and Every One

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

Suburban Wi-Fi Woes

Just a few months after Chicago abandoned its effort to provide free city-wide wi-fi to residents, Naperville and Aurora have followed suit. While Chicago was just in the planning stages, the network in Aurora was 20 percent complete.



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