Surf's up -
The evenings are dark now, but that hasn't stopped our family from trying to get out when we can for a healthy walk. The first site on this week's web tour is all about the St. John's-area network that has transformed how many of us spend our leisure time.
The Grand Concourse is an ambitious project launched by philanthropist Paul Johnson and his family's foundation, and now includes a network of trails and guided walks that crisscross the city and into neighbouring municipalities. Many of the trails are old and well-established, but have been upgraded to terrific shape because of the Grand Concourse's work.
The website underwent a recent overhaul, and has plenty to offer, including suggestions on walks of varying skill levels and lengths, with complementing maps and photos. Among other things, it makes good use of mashups with Google Maps, so you can get a good idea of where a given route will take you.
While it's nice to see a more robust web presence, I'd suggest a few things. For instance, it would be terrific to be able to print simple, clean sheets on each hike. As well, the organization could develop a greater sense of community by inviting participants to get involved, and using user-generated tools for photo-sharing, hike descriptions, etc. After all, the Grand Concourse, which holds not just one local gem but many, is all about public participation.
Elsewhere this week
Scribd is fast becoming a popular application all over the web, probably because it's easy for users. It produces Flash-powered embeddable documents, which means that rather than linking to a PDF, you can put it right in your blog or website, and the reader can see scroll or tab through the whole thing. The document can be as big as a book or as small as a brochure - that's up to you. Better yet, it can be shared, which can help let your content move around the web, if you're cool with that. It's a handy way to bring something like a PowerPoint presentation to the individual level, as well. Heavy users range from major publishers, like technology gurus such as O'Reilly Media, to small businesses.
Photoshop Disasters made the news this fall when one of its routine posts - they all involve errors and distortions that somehow made their way to print - royally ticked off fashion company Ralph Lauren. The blog had merely pointed out that a particular model has sci-fi-style proportions, winding up with an impossibly skinny waist. When other sites, including the wonderful Boing Boing, raised hackles, Ralph Lauren went to its corner and had a boo-hoo. Fortunately, Photoshop Disasters is still plugging away, pointing out the sublime and ridiculous.
Time magazine may never be able to shake its image as being stuffier than a starched shirt, but that hasn't stopped it from running a political blog with plenty of bounce. Swampland is a collaborative project by the magazine's writers, with frequently updated posts on each day's political news, with an unsurprisingly hefty emphasis on Washington. (It's not called Swampland for nothing.) I subscribe to the daily e-mail alert, for reminders to check out new content.
Because Twitter's in-house search system only allows seven days of access, along comes Snapbird, which lets you comb through many weeks of tweets - as long as they were made by friends or those you've marked as favourites.
A handy tool for locating something you read weeks or months ago.
Little Wheel (game)
Imagine a robot world where the machines have been sleeping, for lack of a better word, for 10,000 years.
A lightning strike reanimates one of them, and in this charming little game, your job is to get everything back on the go, one step at a time.
If you're confounded, you can take a little cheat and click on Walkthrough ... but I bet you'll love figuring out as much as you can on your own.
John Gushue is a writer in St. John's. Blog: johngushue.typepad.com. Twitter: @johngushue.