Chicago Divvy Bikes Problems

I was a huge fan of the Chicago Divvy Bike system ( when it was introduced last summer. It provided a very convenient, cheap, personally beneficial and eco-friendly method of transportation in a city where those criteria can usually never be completely or concurrently fulfilled. I quickly signed up for an annual membership at $75, and used the system sparingly but happily throughout the warm months.

I’m not sure if the harsh winter of 2013/14 took it’s tool on the equipment, or if there the rapid expansion of the Divvy system itself is to blame, but my experiences this summer have been lacking to say the least. I’ve taken 4 trips on Divvy so far this summer and here are the problems I’ve encountered:

  1. Credit card reader malfunctioning: The card swipe device just refused to even acknowledge that a card was being dipped at all. This happened two machines that we encountered, forcing us to walk to the nearest station, about 2-3 blocks away.
  2. On a trip to Montrose beach, the one station int he vicinity of the beach, and nowhere near any other station, had 3 open docks to store my bike. Great, no problem, I thought. Wrong. All 3 docks were in the locked position, not allowing a Divvy bike to be plugged in. Rider after rider came up to the station, only to be forced to go to another station. On top of that, the console did not allow for extra time to be requested, apparently thinking that it had 3 open docks. So after riding a mile to this station, my wife and I had to ride the mile back to the nearest station, dock the bikes (luckily there were open, functioning docks there) and then walk back to Montrose, where we were now late to our volleyball league game.
  3. On top of the above story, my wife had just bought an annual pass, but could not use it since the key had not yet arrived. No temporary code or pass is offered in this situation. When she tried to dip her credit card in the console, the machine said that our Visa was not a supported credit card. 5 attempts later, it was finally accepted.
  4. Again in the #2 situation above, and in every trip I’ve taken this summer, the bikes have been in a horrible state of disrepair. The gears slip very often, almost causing me to lose traction on the pedals and fall off the bike. The fenders are loose and rattle with each bump. The gear shift rarely clicks and stay into its (admittedly horrible) 3 gear slots. Possibly related, the mechanism used to dock the bike may be so mashed up that it is causing some docks to lock without a bike in them.
  5. Paying for a one-day pass at a kiosk involves WAY too many steps. On busy weekend days, there are often multiple people waiting to take out a bike, and each person has to spend an almost 5 minute process clicking through each of the steps and acknowledgements on the kiosk screen.

I definitely do not blame the Divvy company for trying; this system is a blessing to Chicago and with the right amount of maintenance and upkeep it can be great. But right now, I believe that Divvy has grown beyond its capacity for quality and has instead concentrated on quantity.

I will not be recommending Divvy to anyone until I see that the quality has caught up with better functioning kiosks and docks, repaired bikes, and better options for riders stranded at remote stations.

Why and How I Use Twitter

I use Twitter every single day of my life, and have my live stream of tweets open on either my computer when working or at home, or on my phone when I’m commuting or waiting in line somewhere. A lot of people ask what Twitter is used for, and why they would need to know when someone is “eating dinner or going to the bathroom.”

Twitter started out that way, yes. It was a simple, text-based system to tell your friends what you’re doing “right now.” But in the years since it was introduced, Twitter has blown up and become a vital part of our society. It’s a prominent method of communication and a vital part of the public sphere. You cannot watch TV or go online without feeling Twitter’s presence.

So how is it used? I’ve seen a lot of new users to Twitter follow people like celebrities, only to quickly realize that this tends to be more towards the “I’m having dinner” type of information stream. In contrast, I only follow a handful of celebrities and/or actual “people.” They are the ones I’m either really interested in their opinions, or I find their tweets to be hilarious distractions from my day.

The rest of those I follow are news sites (APNews, BuzzFeedNews, local newspaper), Sports related (ESPN, DetroitBadBoys), Tech related (AppleInsider, various software companies), and web development bloggers and resources (SmashingMagazine, Zeldman, AListApart, etc.). I follow accounts for any services I use, such as Gmail, Twitter, and Dropbox, so that I can get updates on outages and new features as soon as possible.

Of course I also follow my friends and colleagues, as I like to read their witty tweets about whatever is bothering or exciting them at the time.

So the gist is that I recommend using Twitter as less of a celebrity and sports team-following service, but rather as more of an information-stream, news and opinion service.

Thoughts On Dwyane Wade

I make it no secret that I hate the Miami Heat. And I hate Lebron James. And I hate the star-system that has taken over and ruled the NBA ever since Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joined the Celtics in 2008.

But I can deal with it all in some fashion or another. However I can’t deal with my absolute hatred of Dwyane Wade and the miserable human being he is. This is a pretty close summarization of my thoughts on him, via Grantland:

Andrew Sharp: To review:

• He dresses like Lucille Bluth.
• When he’s struggled, he’s generally refused to take responsibility.
• He remains king of the cheap shots.
• He nicknamed himself “WOW” earlier this season, and even LeBron said it was corny.
• He’s been a liability for the majority of the Heat’s playoff run, and before Thursday, there was plenty of evidence the Heat are better without him.
• Even when he plays well, he still dominates the ball, complains to the refs constantly, and hijacks the Miami offense for possessions at a time.

This is an incomplete list of Dwyane Wade transgressions, but you get the idea.

And he’s not getting traded. No matter what anyone says about the Heat maybe possibly parting ways with D-Wade, no matter how badly he falls off, it’ll never happen. Because he played a crucial role in the shady process of recruiting LeBron, because he is a certified deity in South Florida, because nobody would ever trade for him at this point. In other words, we’re stuck with Wade front and center on the best team in the NBA for at least the next year or two. After Game 7 he told reporters to call him “three,” and then corrected a reporter who called him “Dwyane.” It’s horrible. He is horrible.

But he played well last night. And came up huge in a must-win Game 4. And in the two biggest games of the Pacers series. And in the closeout game against the Bulls.

I wrote about this a few weeks ago: You can hate Dwyane Wade, you can curse his name during every Heat game, and you can make jokes about how objectively horrible he’s become, but he always finds a way to show up and silence everyone. He did it again in Game 7 — 23 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks — because of course he did.

And when he was giving drunk interviews and doing confetti snow angels and giving himself nicknames last night, I was even a little happy for him. Just for a second. He deserves it, because he sold his soul to the devil and/or Pat Riley, got baptized in Moët and/or ate Rony Seikaly’s heart, and because he probably played through an ungodly amount of pain the past few months. He’s incredible whether we like it or not.

See you next year, D-Wade. Hate you. Love you. Will never escape you.

The New

After four years of serving as my professional portfolio, I’ve decided to use this space in a more personal sense. I had gone months and years without touching the previous version, so it was getting quite outdated, and I’ve moved much of my portfolio elsewhere.

This will serve as my creative outlet, my sandbox and my little personal online universe to with as I please. My tweets will start here and end up on Twitter. I’ll tweak the design here and there, talk about nerdy and sporty stuff, and just do whatever.

It’s a new beginning just in time for Spring and Summer (though the current design looks more like night.)

Let me know what you think!