Paddling Underground

Joe McCarthy’s grandfather remembers when the Park “Hog” River used to run through downtown Hartford. But today, it’s gone. There are buildings where there used to be a river. Intrigued, Joe looked closer and found the river buried beneath the streets of Hartford.

Joe partnered with fellow artist Peter Albano to map the now underground river and to document their exploration of this underground ecosystem. To help fund their project I backed their Kickstarter project and took a ride with them on their exploration of the underground river.

Joe and Peter took me into this beast of a public works project. At its heart, it’s just a river. But it’s wrapped in thick concrete and studded with outlets and floodways.

I wrote more about the Hog River Revival and the trip on GeekDad: Paddling Underground: The Hog River Revival.

Artwork from their trips along the Hog River will be on exhibit at the Hartford Public Library’s ArtWalk: Peter Albano and Joe McCarthy: The Hog River Revival Collection. The free exhibition opens Friday, December 7 with a reception from 6:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. and runs through January 20, 2013.


Watch the Winter Storm Attack (as seen from space)

Watch the animated version of the historic winter storm moving Across the U.S.

From NASA:

In a winter marked by several crippling storms, the storm of February 1–2, 2011, stands out. Heavy snow, ice, freezing rain, and frigid wind battered about two thirds of the United States, making it “a winter storm of historic proportions,” said the National Weather Service. This animation—made with images from the NOAA-NASA GOES 13 satellite—shows the giant storm developing and moving across the country between January 31 and February 2.

This image, a still taken from the animation, shows the storm at 4:31 p.m. Eastern Time on February 1. In the image, the storm measures about 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) from west to east. The storm formed when cold Arctic air pushed south from Canada while moist air streamed north from the Gulf of the Mexico. The animation shows clouds building over New Mexico and Texas early in the day. As the system develops and moves northeast, the storm grows and becomes more organized. By the end of February 1, the storm was a sprawling comma that extended from the Midwest to New England.

By 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time on February 2, the National Weather Service reported that 21 states from New Mexico to New Hampshire had received at least 5 inches (13 centimeters) of snow. Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, and Oklahoma declared states of emergency. According to news reports, one in three Americans were affected by the storm.

The monster storm brought record snowfall to many areas, including Chicago, perhaps the hardest hit population center. The city received 20.2 inches of snow, a record for February and the third biggest snowstorm for any date in Chicago. The record was set at 23 inches (58.4 cm) on January 26–27, 1967.

The storm left a solid swath of snow from New Mexico to New England. Images of previous 2010-11 winter storms in December and January can be viewed in the severe storms section of the Earth Observatory.


  1. NASA Earth Observatory Historic Winter Storm Moves Across the U.S.
  2. Animated version of the historic winter storm moving Across the U.S.
  3. CNN. (2011, February 2). Powerful storm brings record snowfall across the country. Accessed February 2, 2011.
  4. Masters, J. (2011, January 31). Potentially historic winter storm poised to impact 100 million Americans. Weather Underground. Accessed February 2, 2011.
  5. National Weather Service. (2011, February 2). Historic winter storm. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Accessed February 2, 2011.
  6. National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office Chicago, IL. (2011, February 2). History of 10 inch or greater snow storms in Chicago. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Accessed February 2, 2011.
  7. The Hydrometeorological Prediction Center. (2011, February 2). Storm summary message. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Accessed February 2, 2011.
  8. Wisniewski, M. (2011, February 1). Winter storm engulfs huge swath of U.S. Washington Post. Accessed February 2, 2011.

Vive Le Tour!

Today, the 97th edition of the Tour de France starts in Rotterdam, kicking off three weeks of bicycle racing. Twenty-one teams of nine riders each will have to endure 3,600 kilometers of racing and 25 mountain passes to reach the finish line on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

I spruced up my Top Ten Reasons That Geeks Should Love the Tour de France for GeekDad.

Here are some of my recent posts on GeekDad:

  1. Find an ER With findER for the iPhone
  2. Whales Tohor? Comes to Boston’s Museum of Science
  3. We’ve Got Worms in Our Basement: Composting With the Kids
  4. 100 Geeky Places to Take Your Kids This Summer (GeekDad Wayback Machine)
  5. Lego Bricks and Felt Tip Pen Become a Printer

Is Pluto a Planet?

Computer-generated map of Pluto from Hubble images, synthesized true color

When picking up The Daughter, I was horrified to see a montage of the solar system on the wall of an adjacent classroom with nine planets.

NINE PLANETS?!?! That’s so 2005.

It’s not that I have anything against Pluto. The problem is that it was mislabeled as a planet when it was discovered because of some bad observations of Neptune. I read Planets X and Pluto a few weeks ago so I had still had a bunch of history and science in my head.

By coincidence, March 13 is the day that the discovery of Pluto was announced. So I put together a post on GeekDad: Happy Pluto Discovery Day.

If still think there are nine planets, you definitely need to read Happy Pluto Discovery Day.

Some of my recent GeekDad posts:

  1. Assembling LEGO Creator Super Speedster
  2. Assembling the LEGO Atlantis Neptune Carrier
  3. 20 Geeky Images from Space
  4. Assembling the LEGO Atlantis Turbo Typhoon Sub
  5. Own Your World With Location-Based Mobile Games
  6. Catalog Your Books Online

The Revolutionary Future of Publishing

Will the world of book publishing be subject to the same revolution as the music industry because of digital content? With the Kindle (or iPad or Nook) do to books what the iPod did to record albums?

It’s not my question to answer. But Jason Epstein from the The New York Review of Books has an excellent view on this in his article: Publishing: The Revolutionary Future

Digitization makes possible a world in which anyone can claim to be a publisher and anyone can call him- or herself an author. In this world the traditional filters will have melted into air and only the ultimate filter—the human inability to read what is unreadable—will remain to winnow what is worth keeping in a virtual marketplace where Keats’s nightingale shares electronic space with Aunt Mary’s haikus. That the contents of the world’s libraries will eventually be accessed practically anywhere at the click of a mouse is not an unmixed blessing. Another click might obliterate these same contents and bring civilization to an end: an overwhelming argument, if one is needed, for physical books in the digital age.

Pax East Schedule Announced

The schedule for Pax East has been released. What is PAX East?

PAX East is a three-day game festival for tabletop, videogame, and PC gamers. We call it a festival because in addition to dedicated tournaments and freeplay areas we’ve got nerdcore concerts, panel discussions, and an exhibitor hall filled with booths displaying the latest from top game publishers and developers.

It’s happening March 26th to 28th at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.

I will be on a panel with several of the GeekDad writers on Friday night at 7:00. The panel, titled “Bringing Up the Next Generation of Geeks,” will include Dave Banks, Natania Barron, Matt Blum, John Booth, Doug Cornelius (that’s me), Michael Harrison, and Corrina Lawson. We described the session as:

How young is too young for The Hobbit? What should my kids’ first LEGO set be? How can I control my disgust if my child tells me he likes Jar Jar and the Ewoks? When should I buy my kids their first non-six-sided dice? These questions and many more will be discussed by writers for’s GeekDad blog and other geek parents. Come share your stories and advice for how to make sure our kids grow up to be geeks like us! Don’t have kids? Show up and find out what may be in store for you if you ever do!

If you are coming to Pax East, please stop by the Wyvern Theatre on Friday night and say hello.

There is also a story in the latest edition of the Boston Business Journal: Geeks and gamers to descend on Hub. Rodney Brown notes that Pax East will be the third largest recurring event in the first quarter, after the Yankee Dental conference and the International Seafood Show.

Compliance Building Roundup

Here are the past week’s posts from my Compliance Building blog on compliance and business ethics:


Compliance Bits and Pieces for February 19

February 19, 2010
Here are some interesting compliance related stories from the past two weeks. (I reserved last week for my blogoversary.) Details Emerge on SEC Office of Market Intelligence by Bruce Carton in Compliance Week One of the first tools that the Securities Exchange Commission launched after it ushered itself into the Internet era in the mid-1990s…
Read more »


New York City Enacts New Rules for Its Pension Fund Investments

February 18, 2010
New York City Enacts New Rules for Its Pension Fund InvestmentsNew York City Comptroller John C. Liu announced sweeping changes in the way New York City pension funds make investment decisions. Following the lead of New York state and several other states, New York City is changing how it deals with gifts, campaign contributions and placement agents. Ban on Campaign Contributions Comptroller Liu declines any campaign…Read more »


Securities Class Actions in Canada

February 18, 2010
Securities Class Actions in CanadaWith the winter Olympics going full swing in Canada, I thought I would look to how that country is dealing with securities class actions. NERA Economic Consulting just released their 2009 Update on Trends in Canadian Securities Class Actions. Some tidbits: Eight securities class actions were filed in 2009, compared with the 10 filings in 2008. There…Read more »


Media Leak is not Protected as a SOX Whistleblower

February 17, 2010
Media Leak is not Protected as a SOX WhistleblowerLeaking information to the media about bad financial controls is not protected by SOX whistleblower retaliation clause. Nicholas P. Tides and Matthew C. Neumann were working as “Audit IT SOX auditors” at The Boeing Company. They made several complaints about auditing deficiencies to their supervisors. They claimed “that Boeing’s auditing culture was unethical and that…Read more »


The Economist: Special Report on Financial Risk

February 16, 2010
<em>The Economist</em>: Special Report on Financial RiskThis week’s The Economist has an excellent special report: The Gods Strike Back. The title comes from Peter Bernstein’s Against the Gods: “The revolutionary idea that defines the boundary between modern times and the past is the mastery of risk: the notion that the future is more than a whim of the gods and that men…Read more »


President’s Day

February 15, 2010
President’s DayWashington’s Birthday, the federal holiday was originally implemented by the United States Congress in 1880 for government offices in the District of Columbia (20 Stat. 277) and expanded in 1885 to include all federal offices (23 Stat. 516). As the first federal holiday to honor an American citizen, the holiday was celebrated on Washington’s…Read more »


Weekend Book Review: In Fed We Trust

February 14, 2010
Weekend Book Review: <em>In Fed We Trust</em>It is only fitting that I am writing this book review on a Sunday. In Fed We Trust: Ben Bernanke’s War on the Great Panic starts off by telling about the importance of a few Sundays in 2008. In March, there was the Sunday when the Federal Reserve announced an unprecedented action to lend…Read more »

Here I Am. . . . Again

Location-based games and location-based social networking sites have exploded along with the proliferation of GPS enabled phones.

I’ve tried my hand at BrightKite, FourSquare, and Gowalla.

When I heard the developer of Own This World describe his game as a combination of Risk and FourSquare I jumped at the chance to try it out.

You can read more on my latest GeekDad post: Own Your World With Location-Based Mobile Games.

Some of my other recent GeekDad posts:

  1. Catalog Your Books Online
  2. 10 Things Parents Should Know About The Princess and the Frog
  3. Data Privacy Day is January 28
  4. A Visit to the Patee House Museum

Catalog Your Books Online

A few weeks ago I started comparing LibraryThing, GoodReads and Shelfari to see which one was the best for tracking books online: Tracking Your Books and Library Online. Since I want to read more books this year, I thought it would be good to check out these sites.

I’ve been using LibraryThing for two years and I thought I would take a look at the other two to see if they have caught up. I published my results over at GeekDad: Catalog Your Books Online.

LibraryThing is still on top, but GoodReads offers an interesting alternative.

Here are some of my other GeekDad posts:

Compliance Building Round Up

Here is a collection of posts from my professional blog: Compliance Building.

Compliance Bits and Pieces for January 29

January 29, 2010

Here are some interesting stories from the past week: French Supreme Court Limits the Scope of the Whistleblowing Process by Cecile Martin in the Privacy law Blog For the first time the French Supreme Court addressed the issue of the validity of a Code of conducts that had been implemented by a listed company. Read more »

Governing Social Media: How to Monitor, Manage and Make the Most of Employee Use of Social Media

January 28, 2010
Governing Social Media: How to Monitor, Manage and Make the Most of Employee Use of Social MediaJoin me, Kathleen Edmond, Chief Ethics Officer, Best Buy, and Janice Innis-Thompson, SVP & Chief Compliance Officer, TIAA-CREF, as we discuss compliance and governance issues of web 2.0 and social networking. “Corporate Communication takes on a whole new meaning in a world of social media, where employees can freely post their views and spread documents,… Read more »

The Economist Special Report on Social Networking.

January 28, 2010
<em>The Economist</em> Special Report on Social Networking.“An astonishing amount of time is being wasted on investigating the amount of time being wasted on social networks.” I love reading The Economist because of lines like that. The January 28 issue has a special report on social networking. (The cover image is Steve Jobs dressed like Moses with his new tablet) “Another , by… Read more »

Tax on Carried Interest? Maybe Not.

January 28, 2010
Tax on Carried Interest? Maybe Not.Tucked into the Tax Extenders Act of 2009 (H.R. 4213) was a provision targeted at partnership interests held by partners providing services. H.R. 4213 flew through the legislative process of the House of Representatives. It was introduced on December 7, 2009 and passed by the House on December 9, mostly along party lines. Read more »

More on Data Privacy Day

January 28, 2010
More on Data Privacy DayToday is International Data Privacy Day. Massachusetts Recognizes Data Privacy Day 2010 and touts the the new data security regulations. Disney has enlisted Phineas and Ferb to help guide your kids through cyberspace and teach them about the rules of the road on the internet. Google published their guiding privacy principles and published a video discussing them:… Read more »

Data Privacy Day is January 28

January 28, 2010
Data Privacy Day is January 28Data Privacy Day is an annual international celebration to raise awareness and generate discussion about information privacy. Last year, both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives recognized January 28th, 2009 as National Data Privacy Day. Intel, Microsoft, Google, AT&T, LexisNexis and The Privacy Projects are sponsoring Data Privacy Day efforts, with assistance from… Read more »

Hayek vs. Keynes Rap Anthem “Fear the Boom and Bust”

January 27, 2010
Hayek vs. Keynes Rap Anthem “Fear the Boom and Bust”For you economics geeks, how about a rap duel between John Maynard Keynes and F. A. Hayek? In Fear the Boom and Bust, John Maynard Keynes and F. A. Hayek, two of the great economists of the 20th century, come back to life to attend an economics conference on the economic crisis. Before the conference… Read more »

Blue Collar or White Collar

January 27, 2010
Blue Collar or White CollarUndercover agents, wire taps and search warrants. For a criminal case it sounds like your typical organized crime investigation. You would expect the indictment to have charges for drug dealing, racketeering, murder or something similar. But last week we heard that these were the techniques used to catch the 22 people indicted for violations of… Read more »

FINRA Issues Guidance on Social Networking Sites

January 26, 2010
FINRA Issues Guidance on Social Networking SitesSecurities firms and brokers have been looking for guidance on how they can use social networking sites. Actually most industries have been trying to figure out what they can and cannot do with these sites. The difference is that the FINRA limitations on communicating with the public make it very difficult to use the… Read more »

Global Ethics Summit Update

January 25, 2010

Global Ethics Summit Update Dow Jones and Ethisphere Institute are teaming up to present the 2010 Global Ethics Summit on February 23-24, 2010 at the Grand Hyatt New York City. I will be attending, thanks to an offer from the event’s organizers. If you are interested in attending I can offer you a 15% discount on regular conference fees,… Read more »

But Everyone Else is Doing it

January 25, 2010

But Everyone Else is Doing itIn my hasty post on last week’s FCPA sting operation my focus was on the aggressive use of an undercover operation to catch violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. That was big news. It’s the first time that’s happened. The indictments did not disclose the companies involved. It’s now clear that this sting operation… Read more »

Tracking Your Books and Library Online

GoodReads versus LibraryThing versus Shelfari

Back in 2008, I started looking at ways to catalog my household’s book collection: Books and Knowledge Management. LibraryThing was the winner. That decision was largely driven by their ability to manually enter books. Back in 2008 GoodReads and Shelfari libraries were limited to books listed on

Since then, I have happily been using Library Thing. I have entered over 1,200 books in my LibraryThing catalog. About 300 of those books are more than 50 years old, meaning they are not available on

It’s been about two years so I decided to take another look at my options. LibraryThing has been good to me, so I am hesitant to move. I suspected that there would be a great deal of time trying to recreate my catalog on another site.

Import and Export

All three have the ability to import and export books. So I exported the lists to Shelfari and GoodReads. I ended up with 1082 in Shelfari after manually adding 100 or so books. Shelfari made me go through a painful process of adding books by matching covers, with only 20 books per page. I gave up a third of the way through. I did not manually enter any books in Goodreads and ended up with 967 books.


Back in 2008, Shelfari had the best visuals of the three. Unfortunately, it looks like time stopped for Shelfari. I did not notice any change in its visuals. The site  shows the book covers sitting on a wood grain bookshelf.

LibraryThing is the least attractive of the three. But it seems to have forgone good visuals for a user interface full of information. I found it the easiest to use, but I had the most familiarity with it.

GoodReads has the best looking user interface of the three.

Tags, Shelves and Collections

One of the keys is how the sites allow you to organize the books. For me, I have two basic pieces of data. The first is the reading status: read it or planning to read it. The second is whether I own it or not. Essentially I want to track the books I’ve read and the books I own in one place.

LibraryThing uses “collections” that work well for my basic data. The collections are not exclusive, so books can be in multiple collections. My collections are currently reading, publisher provided, reviewed, read but unowned, and to read. The LibraryThing also allows for extensive use of tags.

Goodreads allows many “shelves.” I set up currently reading, to-read, borrowed, and publisher provided. For some reason, your ownership status for a book is separate from the shelves. There is no separate tagging.

Shelfari limits your “shelves” to reading status, own, favorite and wish list. Instead, they allow lots of tagging.

Mobile Views

All three have a stripped down mobile view of their sites. Of the three, GoodReads has the most functionality squeezed onto the small iPhone screen, yet it still very readable.


All three sites about their active network of users sharing information about books.  I had very few connections on the sites. Lots of connections on one of the sites would be a good reason to selection that site.

Integration with Other Applications

Goodreads has a nice tie into Twitter and Facebook allowing you update you books status to those sites. I really like this feature.

LibraryThing and Shelfari both have Facebook applications but they are far behind GoodReads.


All three sites allow you to use widgets to show part of your collection.

LibraryThing had the most widgets and an ability to customize those widgets.


All three sites are free.

LibraryThing requires you to buy a membership if you want to keep more than 25o books in your catalog. I bought the $25 lifetime membership.

GoodReads and Shelfari both display advertisements.

What’s Next?

Going forward for the next months, I am going to use all three site and try to replicate the information. (although, I’m not going to spend much time going back to clean up my catalogs in GoodReads or Shelfari.) The stack of books next to my nightstand has gotten nearly as tall as my kids. So I have an itch to  cram in a bunch of book reading this year to clear out my backlog.

I will publish a follow-up in a few months and let you know which site won the competition.

In the meantime, if you are using any of the sites let me know your thoughts and connect with me.

GeekDads Unite and Fight the Snow

Dave, Matt, Ken and Doug
Dave, Matt, Ken and Doug

Last Saturday afternoon was GeekDad day at the Wired Holiday Store in New York City.

I played chicken with the weekend blizzard and traveled down to New York City for the day. It is not often that the GeekDad contributors, strewn across the U.S. (and the U.K.), are able to get together in person. So the stakes were high.

As of Friday night, the powerful winter storm was moving slow. It was hitting Washington hard. But it looked like it would hold off on covering Boston with the white stuff until late Saturday night. It looked like I could get down to New York and back, beating the snow.

The trip down was uneventful, but I could see the storm clouds just south of New York City.

Ken Denmead, the editor of GeekDad, had hosted the first GeekDad on December 2. See Ken’s post: GeekDad Day at the Wired Holiday Store FTW.

Ken came back from the west coast, along with Matt Blum, the assistant editor, and Dave Giancaspro. Matt escaped Washington just before the blizzard hit that area. Dave was just a subway ride away.

We ran some LEGO building contests to give away prizes to a group of enthusiastic kids and their parents. The winning builders walked away with LEGO Star Wars Hyena Droid kits Bomber, copies of LEGO Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary, MythBusters Weird World of Water kits, and Mythbusters DVDs.

You can see more images from the day in my photo album: GeekDad at the Wired Holiday Store.

By the afternoon, the snow was upon us. Ken’s airline called him to let him know that his flight on Sunday morning was canceled, but they would be happy to re-book his flight for Friday. (FRIDAY!)

For me, I went to Penn Station and saw carnage. The Northbound trains from NYC to Boston come out of Washington and they were not getting out. I re-booked from the 7:00 train to the 3:00 train since the 3:00 had not yet arrived. I though that was clever until I sat down across from a very tired gentleman who was still waiting for the 2:00 train. This looked bad.

Upstairs, Megabus was willing to get me to Boston for $20 and claimed that the buses were running on time. The weather forecast for Boston called for the storm to hold off until midnight, the Boston arrival time for that bus. I had visions of the bus getting stuck in a blizzard in Connecticut or sliding off the road. That’s the reason I booked the train trip. Of course, when I went back down into Penn Station I had visions of not getting home at all by train.

I crossed my fingers and jumped on the bus.

The roads in the city were snowy. I-95 was snowy. Those visions of being trapped on the highway in a blizzard came back.

But then we turned north onto I-91 and the snow disappeared. We had blacktop and highway speeds all the way to Boston. Sure enough the snowflakes started in Boston right at midnight just as I arrived home.

Compliance Building Posts this Week

Here are links to my Compliance Building posts from the past week:

Compliance Bits and Pieces for December 4

Here are some compliance related news stories from the past week that caught my eye.

You Are Here: From the FTC for Your Kids

We’re from the government. We’re here to help. The Federal Trade Commission has launched a new site designed to help kids learn to protect their privacy, spot frauds and scams, and avoid identity theft. You Are Here is set up as a virtual mall.

Due to the increasing incidence of fund investors who want to transfer their investment fund interests, private investment funds face a risk of being classified as publicly traded partnerships. That would mean the fund would become taxable as a corporation.

Amendment to the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) amended the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 594 to define the term “financial, material, or technological support,” as used in sanction regulations.

Hulk Smash Compliance Program!!

Hollywood has done it. Now it’s your turn.
Reboot your compliance program.

FTC Guidelines Are In Effect

Today is a the day. The FTC’s recent updates to its Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising are now in affect. To comply with the Guides, individuals (bloggers, users of social media) must disclose every “material connection” or relationship they have with an advertiser.
How to comply with the changes?

Enterprise 2.0 – The Book

At the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in San Francisco, Andrew McAfee handed out a few copies of this new book: Enterprise 2.0. I was one of the recipients of a shiny new copy with his autograph on the cover page.
If you have heard of Enterprise 2.0, they you have heard of McAfee.

How Fraudsters Try to Look Legitimate

The SEC is putting its new investor-focused website to good use:
The first item that caught my eye was their article on how fraudsters use fake SEC registrations and bogus seals to make them look legitimate: Fake Seals and Phony Numbers: How Fraudsters Try to Look Legit.

Fun with Four Square

four square

Lately I have been experimenting with Four Square, a location-based social networking platform. For me, adding the geographic component of social networking adds another serendipity factor to the web 2.0 movement.

Serendipity of location.

“What’s Happening” + “Where are you”

It allows you to explore tools to create meeting chances. We have already seen Twitter add a location feature to its platform. [Location, Location, Location.]

Four Square does a similar thing, but adds a fun factor to disclosing your location. You get badges for going to many places. You also get the title of “Mayor” at a location if you have visited that place more than any other Four Square participant.

I have to admit that Four Square brings out my competitive streak. I have been stacking up mayor titles by mixing up my morning coffee stops. Four Square is still new so it does not take much to become mayor at many locations.

I tried out BrightKite in the past, but found its user interface to be a bit clunky. I also found its database of locations to be inaccurate, with no way to add it or change it. It’s been a while since I’ve use BrightKite so it may have improved since then.

I found Four Square to be much simpler and easy to use. It has a nice link to Twitter. Even better, it is easy to turn the Twitter notification off or on each time you check in at a location.

Sign up for Four Square and give it a try. This is me:

Scoble’s take on Four Square: