Tag Archives: NYC

YouTube Red and Google Play Music

I am in the midst of changing over from Spotify (which I’ve been a big fan of over the years) to Google Music, and while only a day or two in I already have some thoughts on it.

While Google Play Music is the same price as Spotify, the benefits are seemingly much greater…the only downside I can see is the “Discover Weekly” playlist that Spotify offers which gives a great view into new songs similar to those I already like.

Google Music gives a lot of the same features, such as a large library of music, no advertisements, and the familiar ability to download songs for offline play.
On top of this Google also allows you to upload 50,000 of your own clips to the library, which in my case means a resting place for the tens of hours of “Abbott and Costello” that I have saved on a hard drive.

But the real deal is that Google Music also gives access to YouTube Red (which if revenue is Google’s goal (it is) will get split off at some point) and a variety of perks including:

  • Offline Playback: You can download movies for offline viewing, which when riding the subway or just being in places with no Internet, and watch it as you’d like. Yesterday I absorbed some music videos and sports talk TV while drowning out the NYC dregs of the subway.
  • Minimizing YouTube on a phone: So you’re watching a music video and you get a WhatsApp message…the ultimate dilemma…do I go respond to the message, or do I stay here and finish my video?
    Well, on Android Nougat you can just reply from the notification bar…but putting that aside for a second, you can now switch to another app or even shut off your screen entirely and you’re watching videos on YouTube.
  • Exclusives: YouTube has signed some of its top stars to make content just for them, as well as some of YouTube’s own content…one example that I am looking forward to?
    Today’s release of “Lindsey Stirling: Brave Enough”, a look into Lindsey’s life as she prepares for shows, battles through tough times off the stage, and of course the electricity that flows when she is performing on stage.

Why DC Metro (Sometimes) Trumps NYC MTA

Everyone knows that moment…you swipe your MetroCard and walk down the stairs to the platform, and right away you know something is wrong. There are just way too many people down there.

Finally, after 5-10 minutes the announcement is made:

Due to a train stuck at ___ Street, there are currently no downtown _ trains. Please take an uptown train to __th and transfer there to a _.

Great. So what are you going to do? You either take the train uptown, or you leave the station, losing your fair, and walk to another nearby station (paying again) to take a different train….or else you hop in an Uber and head to your destination.

But your fare is lost. Now sure it’s only $2.75, but do that a few times a month and it starts to add up.

Now let’s take a peek at the DC Metro, where there is no “flat rate”, but rather you tap in and out and it charges you based on distance traveled.
But when they have train troubles, they tell you to just head back out and you will get a refund within 72 hours.

There is no way that New York City would ever give you a dime back, nor will any of the money you pay ever appear to pay for system upgrades…but we can always hope.

ParkNYC

ParkNYC is New York City evolving into the tech world, and by the end of Summer 2017 is supposed to be at all Muni-Meter locations in the 5-boroughs.

At the moment it’s mostly situated around Manhattan and hasn’t fully spread to the outer boroughs, but they promise that it’s going to happen in the near future.

When you pull into a metered spot in NYC, you log into the app, select the zone you are parking in (displayed on street signs, on the actual muni-meter, and on the map in the app) (and make sure to select your zone and not the one across the street or around the corner), and put “money in the meter”.

The trick will be to just put in the minimal amount, and keep extending until you leave so that you don’t overpay…but unlike a standard meter, or the current muni-meters, you can’t extend beyond the “Parking Limit”. And to help enforce that, you won’t be able to ‘park again’ in the same zone within a 30-minute window from when your max time runs out.

While you currently need to display a little ticket in your window, showing what you paid for, you won’t need anything in your car when you pay with ParkNYC. When the meter-agent pulls up the zone, it will show them license plates for cars that are currently parked there….and vice versa for when they pull up your license, it will tell them what zone you are currently paying in.
I think this does make it harder on them to walk around and look in windshields since they have to pull up your info to check if you paid…but on the flip side, the horse cops and interceptors can just drive by and never have to peek into your vehicle from their high mounts.

The app is currently available for Android and iOS.

EasyPay Xpress MetroCard

One of the downsides for having a MetroCard in NYC is that people need to wait in line to refill them…or they swipe and it says the dreaded “Insufficient Fare”.

But none of that should be a problem if you subscribe to “EasyPay Xpress”. The card automatically refills when it drops below a certain level, and you still get the 5% bonus that standard users get.

So now when you swipe it’ll just say “Go” and you never have to wonder if you have enough left for a ride back home.

EasyPay Xpress also gets you deals and discounts across the city. These discounts include:

  • $10 off at Madame Tussauds
  • 25% off at the Star Wars Discovery Center (although if it’s anything like some of their other exhibits, I would stay far away even if it’s free)
  • 30% off at Perfect Crime
  • And MORE

Also, if you lose the card they will cancel the old one and send you a new one with the full remaining balance on it!

NYC Service Request Tracking

So you see something, you say something. You file that 3-1-1 service request for a blocked hydrant, for broken plumbing, for a downed tree, or even that ginormous growing pothole.

You then log in the next day and pull up your service tag in hopes of seeing it updated with some positive result.

But do you ever wonder how many others have filed similar requests (the answer is usually zero) and how frequently your area pretends to care about the laws?

Well, now you can log onto the 3-1-1 Service Request Map and see how things progress on your block.

Enjoy!

NYC Fails Snow Cleanup

Remember those days when it would snow one to two feet, and the city would shut down for a day or two, yet when it reopened cars could drive around and people could cross streets.

Yet this week it snowed a whopping 7.6″ in Central Park, and the city shut down the subways for a day, yet through it all…nothing got done.

Legally, New Yorkers had four hours to clean their sidewalks once the storm wrapped up on Tuesday…yet yesterday morning, 36+ hours after the storm finished, walking in Times Square included crosswalks with piles 2 1/2 feet high impeding safe crossing.

Meanwhile, driving into work this morning, 60+ hours after the storm finished, 6th Avenue was a snow nightmare in the West 40s, with mounds and slush everywhere…but don’t worry, there were plenty of bulldozers and dump trucks around the area this morning, all focused one Avenue over on the St Paddy’s Day Parade route.

Mayor De Blasio needs to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it…unless of course he thinks that the city did a fantastic job, in which case he may be delusional…

NY Aquarium: Put Up or Step Down – @nyaquarium

Hurricane Sandy hit the NY Aquarium hard. Located right along the water they had a lot of their exhibits flooded, buildings destroyed, and underground passages devastated.

Because of that they couldn’t justify their $20 admission anymore and had to drop down to $13.
All this on top of a $13 parking cost.
But even that is too expensive.

Now I understand that they need to raise money for their repairs and new “Sharks” exhibit set to open in 2018, but to charge as they are is inexcusable.

Here is the current list of animals at the NY Aquarium:

  • When you walk in the main building (the only building) has a giant tank filled with fish, and then 7 smaller tanks, spanning different areas (such as Africa or Brazil, and the fish from that area).
  • You then leave the main building and have four outdoor exhibits (Walrus, Sea Lions, Sea Otters, and Penguins).
  • Lastly you have a Shark tank, filled with murky water/scratched glass, making it hard to see into.
  • They have a sea lion show twice a day (included with admission) that hasn’t been updated in years, and still plays Crazy Frogs “I Like To Move It” from 2005.
  • They also have a “Touch Pool” which has starfish…and I’ve never experienced it open since Sandy, as it always seems to be “Out to lunch” or just plain “Closed”.

I went yesterday, and they had a larger discount (down to $11), and for this price you couldn’t get close to the main tank (due to construction), or see it from the upstairs viewing area (construction).
The Walrus’ were off display, and the Penguins were nowhere to be found.
As usual, the touch pool was “seasonally closed”.

I do like that if you browse their map, they add on a “Explore The Recovery Wall”…this is what they call the construction barrier, on which they have included two or three paragraphs about Hurricane Sandy and he work they are doing to rebuild the sharks exhibit.

NY Aquarium Recovery Map

By far, the biggest waste of money experience for a family in NY. And yes, that includes Top of the Rock.

Meanwhile: Enjoy a picture of some fish. You can send me the check for admission and I’ll share all 20 pictures/videos I took yesterday of the entire aquarium.
Without needing to leave your house.

Fish NY Aquarium