Keeping an Eye on Hurricane Irene via Social Media and Open Data

Hurricane Irene August 26 NASA Satellite

A massive hurricane is swirling toward the eastern seaboard of the U.S. leaving 29 million people under a Hurricane warning on Friday night. Currently a category 2 storm, Hurricane Irene is forecast to straddle the coast before making landfall near New York City. Here in Southern California we don’t have many hurricane threats but then again it had been a while since the East Coast experienced a strong earthquake before this week. But in 1939 the only tropical storm to make landfall in California killed dozens at sea before coming ashore in Long Beach. 45 deaths were reported as a result of the flooding. And in 1858 a hurricane is said to have nearly made landfall off the San Diego coast, causing the 2011 equivalent of hundreds of millions of dollars before turning back out to sea.

But in the 19th and even the 20th centuries we did not have the advanced warning and communications systems that we have today. Without even grazing land, Hurricane Irene is making history — New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that today was the first time in the city’s history that mandatory evacuations had been ordered. About a quarter-million residents, primarily on the low-lying edges of Manhattan were urged to abandon their homes. New York’s subway system will be shut down Saturday at noon due to the threat of flooding.

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Opportunity Gap: Does it Exist in Schools Near You?

los angeles schools pro publica opportunity gap

Pro Publica has published a database that makes it easy for you to compare your access to quality education and at what cost in an effort to provide insight into the opportunity gap demonstrated by economic difference in the classroom.

The data for L.A.-area school districts indicates that the higher the percentage of students who get free or reduced-price lunches the lower the percentage of students who take at least one AP course. For example, 76 percent of LAUSD students receive free or discounted lunches and 16 percent take at least one AP course. The data flips, however, for Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified: 1 percent get free/reduced priced lunch, and 41 percent take at least one AP course.

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Sony Sued for Letting Hackers Break Into PlayStation User Database

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Photo by pajamo via LAist Featured Photo Pool.

If you’re a Sony PlayStation user, you probably noticed that you couldn’t connect to the gaming console’s online network for the past ten days or so. Most figured it was probably just a network outage. But as we learned Tuesday — one week into the outage — Sony deliberately pulled the plug on its online network as well as its streaming and on demand content services on April 20. PlayStation’s unencrypted user database was breached, allowing hackers access to info entered by the network’s 77 million users.

If you are one of the 77 million Sony Playstation users with a PlayStation Network or Qriocity account, a class-action lawsuit was filed on your behalf Wednesday.

The lawsuit (full text), filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on behalf of Kristopher Johns, 36, argues that Sony was negligent in allowing the hacker intrusion, which the plaintiff claims never should have occurred in the first place.

“Sony broke its contract and violated its customers’ trust,” Caleb Marker, an attorney representing plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said to the Wall Street Journal.

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10 Best Data Visualization Projects of 2010

Borrowed from one of my fave sites, flowingdata.com

tourists in sf

10. Asteroid Discovery

Scott Manley of the Armagh Observatory visualized 30 years of asteroid discoveries. It’s a straightforward animation that shows planets and asteroids orbiting the sun, with waves of twinkles as discoveries are made. I especially liked the contrast between human and automated discoveries.

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City Life in a Black Hole (for Wireless Voice services)

sprint.jpgIf you follow me on столовеTwitter, you know that I do have opinions. When appropriate I’ll post long-form rants on LAist. My latest is about how pathetic it is that I can’t make a wireless voice call from my house no matter what the carrier is. And it’s been that way since I moved here four years ago!

Oh yeah, the data coverage is fine. I’ve been spoiled by AT&T’s 3g data coverage since 2006 and never turned back. Did it bother me to only have nine keys and #0* on my LG CU500 and a small screen? No. It was 3g. Did I at least use T9 predictive text or would I actually make 10 entries on the keypad just to spell “s-h-i-t?” Hell no, I became the fastest texter in town. Why? Because no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t hear more than scratchy sounds and broken words coming from the other end of the handset. Didn’t matter where or how I stood in the house or on the block. I was in a black hole. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile. You can’t NOT lose. It’s 2010, and I still find myself going to the mall just so I can have a coherent phone conversation with Mom.

Read the full article at LAist.