Update – bunch of new stuff

It turns out that I’m pretty bad at keeping up with things, and this blog is no exception. Since my last post, I’ve released a bunch of new stuff, but never got around to posting about them here. So now I’m going to fix that.

Most recently, I released Collaboration. This makes it so that you can invite someone else (or multiple people) via email to share pretty much everything about the apartment hunt with you – the stuff they’ve looked at will turn grey for you, their favorites will show up on your favorites list, their notes will sit below your notes, and so on. It’s pretty cool, but I’m sure it needs some tweaking, so please let me know if there’s anything about it that doesn’t work well or any design decisions that I’ve made that don’t really make sense. Also, if you really wish it did something that it doesn’t, that’s good to know as well.

Besides that, there’s been another couple releases of the iPhone app to try to bring its quality up a bit (some of you seemed unhappy about it, and upon further review, rightfully so). Hopefully it’s at a good point with this upcoming release. There are still a couple of changes that I’d like to make, but some of them are more time consuming than I have time for at the moment.

The Yelp restaurants/grocery stores/cafe’s/etc overlay was moved to a little bar on the bottom.

And a host of random improvements and bug fixes which should make things smoother overall.

Happy hunting!
Eric

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A new map overlay – Mass Transit!

A number of you have asked me why I don’t add the Google transit overlay to the map. I wish I could, it’s really well done, but my searches haven’t turned up anything but people saying that they don’t share it with people using the Maps API. It’s unfortunate, but c’est la vie.

Just kidding, that just means it’s time to try my own hand at it :-) . I took the past couple days to make some programs that work together to automatically generate subway/trolley/light rail route maps from publicly available transit schedules.

It’s not exactly finished, but I’ve decided to release this initial version to gauge the reaction, and whether there’s any outcry at its shortcomings. One of the big ones is that if multiple lines share the same stops, the lines that represent them on the map will just sit on top of each other, and you can only see the top one. Another is that you may notice some wonky behavior with some of the lines. Many of you know these cities better than I do, so if you see anything that seems wrong to you, let me know.

To activate the overlay, open up the Filter box, and then open up the Super Secret Advanced Features, and check the checkbox next to Mass Transit Overlay. It currently shows only subway, light rail, and trolleys – bus routes would have been overwhelming. I have another project in mind that will take those into account, though.

The transit overlay is available in a few major cities at the moment. Please let me know if there are any big ones that I’ve missed, or small ones where rail-based mass transit plays a big role. Also, if you spot any bugs – I know about one or two, but there are probably more that I’m not aware of.

Happy hunting!

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Animated Google Map Markers

A new feature! If you click on a marker that has one or more markers hiding behind it (or overlapping heavily), the others will now fan out below the one that was clicked on. Clicking one of those will replace the positioning of the other, and you can cycle through them by clicking one after another until you’ve seen them all.

There may very well be some bugs that I haven’t found, so if you find any, please let me know at padmapper@gmail.com.

Happy hunting!
Eric

Before clicking

After clicking, the overlapped markers that weren't clicked fan out below the clicked marker.

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Awesome New Video About PadMapper

The excellent people over at Grumo Media make awesome product demo videos, and now they’ve made one about PadMapper. Check it out!

I’m really happy with it, especially with the awesome style. What do you guys think? Here’s a link to it posted on YouTube, including an HD version.

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Holiday Gift Guide for that New Apartment

The holiday season is finally upon us. After a turbulent year filled with oil spills and elections, it’s time to shift our focus to the people that are closest to us.

Of course, with end of the year comes the hectic holiday shopping season.  With millions of gift guides floats around out there on the internets, it can be hard to sift through them all and find the right presents for your loved ones.

And of course, we wouldn’t be doing our part if we didn’t add to the madness.  If you or a loved one has moved into a new apartment in the last year, now is the perfect time to give a gift that will complement their new abode.

Without further ado, here are 5 awesome items for that special someone who just moved into a new apartment.

Keurig Single-Cup Coffee Maker

coffee maker

Apartment-life can be difficult, especially when it comes to coffee.  When roommates have different preferences from one another, what comes out of the communal coffee maker can be a contentious issue.

Eliminate this problem with a single-cup coffee maker, like this one from Keurig. With this sleek machine, all you need is a 4 minutes and you’ll have a fresh cup of coffee in your hands made just the way you like it.  My, what exciting times we live in.  $140

Everlast Home Pull-Up Bar

Pull up

For the fitness nut in all of us, there’s the Everlast “Multi Function Chinning Bar.”  While upon first glance this may appear to be one of your run-of-the-mill pull up bars, this baby actually has a lot of versatility.

Aside from hanging exercises, you can also hinge it to the bottom of the door and hook your feet under it to bust out a killer sit up session.  It also can act as a reliable base for some perfect pushups.  Who needs a gym membership when you’ve got this puppy? $30

Roku

Roku

This is the gift that cable companies don’t want you to know about.  Roku really does it all.  All you have to do is plug it into the internet, and you can immediately begin streaming HD content onto your home TV.  From instant Netflix to MLB.TV to youtube, Roku goes as far as the internet goes… which is to say it goes everywhere.  $70

Syrah Coffee Table

coffee table

This is a gift that will really make you stand out. Most people don’t think of giving furniture as a gift, but it can be perfect for someone that is still trying to fill out their apartment. This coffee table is perfect for every living situation, as its dark frame will complement any interior theme. But if you want to take a walk on the wild side, check out these crazy coffee tables and really let loose! $70

Bose Portable SoundDock

Bose SoundDock

If you want to really wow your recipient, check out this awesome portable ipod speaker system from Bose.  With a lithium-ion battery that works like a laptop, you can get 4 hours of crystal-clear music playback from this sleek set up.  Trust us, your music has never sounded this good, nor this portable.  $350

Have a happy holiday shopping season, everyone! And enjoy those new apartments!

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Wet Damp Weather Means Mold, Mold, Mold!

Once rainy weather hits, it hits with a vengeance. For some of you (Seattle) drizzle has been a part of the daily forecast since mid-September. For other more sun-friendly cities, the joint-aching dampness of winter is just settling in. And as it does, so does the mold.

Mold is tricky. It’s something you’re supposed to look out for when you’re looking for an apartment to rent – but you’re doing so during summer, chances are mold is invisible.

Come winter: your apartment is a haven of mold spores and funguses.

What is mold?

In short, it’s the gray-blue-black speckles on your window sills, walls, bathroom counter, and anywhere moisture can linger.

black house mold

The tell-tale signs of house mold.

Unless you’re living in an utter hovel, your molds are not going to be the kind of ultra-destructive, health-endangering, move-out-or-perish monstrosities you see when you Google “house mold.” Your black mold is going to be small and confined and only a little bit nasty. But it’s still better to eliminate it before it becomes a problem.

Mold needs moisture to grow, and it won’t stop growing until that moisture disappears (which is why a lot of black house mold is seasonal).

Causes and Solutions

Mold will show up in your home, usually, for one of two reasons.

1. There is water getting into your apartment.

A leaky shower, unsealed window, a hole in the roof – there is water getting in or soaking through and mold is a-bloomin’.

What to do: Fix it. There is really no other option but to find the source of the water and plug it. Whether that is caulking around your window sills or calling in remodeling professionals depends on the severity of the mold and the leak problem.

On the plus side, your landlord will probably have to pay for most, if not all, of this.

2. Water cannot escape your apartment.

Humans produce moisture. Long steamy showers, sweaty dance parties, warm breath as you sleep: if your windows are steamed up, you’re home is collecting moisture that can’t get out.

What to do: This is a problem more common with newer apartments, condos, and houses that have super-insulated walls and windows. These features mean you save BIG on heating bills; mold is an unfortunate tag-along.

Luckily, cutting down on moldy moisture is fairly simple: give the moisture a way to get out. Keep the bathroom fan pumping away until the mirror is completely steam-free. Crack open a window in your bedroom as you sleep – even just ½ a centimeter.

Manage it

If you can find the source of the water, mold is easy to take care of, especially if it’s just seasonal window sill mold and not invasive, wall-disintegrating mold. Just wipe it up with a nice eco-friendly cleanser and live in mold-free bliss until next winter!

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Neighborhood Overlay!

Thanks to the fine folks over at Zillow, I’ve been able to add an overlay of neighborhood names and shapes to PadMapper’s map for most major cities in the US. To see it, just zoom in close to your favorite major city. They’ll only show up when you’re zoomed in past a certain level.

If you decide it’s annoying/slowing down your system, you can turn it off by unchecking its checkbox under “Super Secret Advanced Features”. I noticed that Firefox was chugging a bit on my system when there were a lot of neighborhoods onscreen, so god knows how it’s working on IE right now…

If you’re looking for an apartment in San Francisco, you might notice that little “i” buttons show up next to the name. If you click on one of those, you’ll be able to get a preview of something else I’ve been working on.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Eric

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Low Accuracy Listing Locations

A while back, I made it so that PadMapper would start showing listings whose locations it wasn’t confident in with a different color marker (grayish-red rather than the normal bright red). I think the variety of colors may have been a bit much for the first-time user, since it wasn’t really clear what the difference was (unless you noticed the pattern of the low accuracy warnings on the info bubbles only appearing for those pale red ones). Also, those had a tendency to stack, since a lot of the vague addresses (57th st, NY, NY for example) would resolve to the same spot on the street.

As such, I’ve made it possible to filter the low quality addresses out, and that filter is on by default. You can uncheck the “Accurately Located” filter to show the low quality ones again.

Happy hunting!
Eric

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How to Host Thanksgiving in a Tiny Apartment

If your kitchen looks like this:

Notice the expansive counter space.... courtesy fooferkitten via Flicker

Notice the expansive counter space.... courtesy fooferkitten via Flicker

and your dining room/living room/everything-else-room look like this:

Tiny apartment

This table could fit 9. Right? Courtesy rowdykittens via Flickr

planning a Thanksgiving celebration that is more than just you and your goldfish and an E-Z Thaw-and-Go Turkey Dinner is damn near impossible.

But not totally impossible.

Hosting an (albeit small-ish) Thanksgiving feastivle in your urban studio apartment will be a challenge, but once you conquer a few pint-sized problems it’s all cranberry sauce and belt-loosening joy.
Read More »

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Crazy Coffee Tables to Make Your Apartment More Awesome

Forget the plasma 3D television. If you want to impress your guests, the coffee table is where it’s at.

It’s the first step to bridging the gap between style and function. And since your living room is valuable real estate in your apartment for rent, you might as well express yourself with a coffee table that’s insanely cool.

Toss out that old Ikea four-legger and plant your flag on the party map because everyone will want to hang at your place if you have one of these crazy coffee tables.

9 Crazy Coffee Tables to Upgrade Your Apartment

DJ Coffee Table

DJ Coffee Table

It’s the first coffee table you’ll want people to scratch. Seriously though, this DJ coffee table is only a photo transfer of a turntable and a mixer. While it can’t play the greatest hits, the faded image gives this coffee table a vintage flair that’s sure to be a conversation starter. $895.

Microsoft Surface

Even though the folks at SarcasticGamer.com really stick it to the Microsoft Surface, it is a really cool product. So what if it’s not very functional and it costs over $15,000 with the software. Microsoft says this futuristic coffee table could be everywhere from mall to hospitals, to even your house within a few short years. Too bad the Microsoft Surface debuted in 2008.

Alien Coffee Table

Alien Coffee Table
Handcrafted from car and bike parts, this alien coffee table is every nerd’s creepy dream come true. And for $875 bucks, it should squirt acid blood on any of your friends who put their drink down without a coaster.

NES Controller Coffee Table

This NES controller coffee table is fully-functional, but it’s insanely hard to play and you’ll have to be a contortionist if you want to do a flying jump-kick in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II. This coffee table isn’t for sale, but this YouTube video gives you a good idea how to make one of these King Kong controllers for your own living room.

Apple Coffee Tables

Ipod Coffee Table
If you want your coffee table to draw the ladies in, then look elsewhere. This iPhone coffee table is made from 100% corrugate cardboard, and glued together with a bottle of Elmers. The coolest part, each app button has a slot with a removable coaster.

If the old school iPod is more your speed, this iTable is a hand-sanded pine box complete with a blue LED background light in the monitor window. Artist Ashley Burrows used four coats of auto paint, and then lacquered the table to give it that familiar shine.

Moss Coffee Table

Moss Table
Need to bring some life into the apartment, but don’t have any room for a houseplant? This moss-covered coffee table is made with living moss to mirror exotic landscapes from the rolling hills of Tuscany to an Amazon tropical rainforest. Made in Thailand by Ayodhya.

DeLighTable

This pressure sensitive table works on any level surface, and runs off 12 volts of electricity. It kind of looks like you’re playing with motor oil, and there’s a gigantic flashlight under the table. Pick custom background colors, frames or table legs in a variety of sizes, with tables starting at 800 euros.

Fire + Ice Coffee Table

fire ice
Made with anodized aluminum, this table includes a sliding platform to expose an open burner, or a chilling bowl for a bottle of champagne. Danger: Children, pets, newspapers and drunk people should not be in the room when this coffee table is in use.

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