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Watch the Hays bald eagle cam installation

Written by Ethan Magoc on .

Hays eagle cam Pix Controller

(Courtesy of PixController)

The well-known bald eagles in Hays first made their nest in the current spot in the fall of 2013, and that inspired the collaboration between the Pennsylvania Game Commission and PixController.

The partnership resulted in a devoted online following and interest in the eagles' nest building and egg laying/sitting activities — all made possible by a 24-hour a day camera.

Now, you can see what the camera looks like (above), how it first went up and why it's able to operate around the clock (solar panels) thanks to a short montage PixController uploaded on Wednesday.

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Yinzerpedia: Park'n Eat, Mount Washington and virtual library cards

Written by Ethan Magoc on .

Welcome to the second edition of Yinzerpedia, a new rubric where we present a roundup of issues Pittsburghers care about each week.

So, let's take a look. What was Pittsburgh curious about this week?

Plenty: from car insurance to Westmoreland County schools and much more.

The insightful answers — those that aren’t complete snark — serve as a helpful guide to 21st-century Pittsburgh, and we feature some of each week’s more helpful and interesting exchanges here. Please do join the ongoing discussion in our comments below.

And yes, we affectionately call this feature “Yinzerpedia,” since it takes the principle of the crowdsourcing site Wikipedia, but the "crowd" for our purposes is all of yinz.

Question: Why should I move to Pittsburgh? (March 14)

Pittsburgh skyline in fog photo by Darrell Sapp Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

(Darrell Sapp/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

First, since the questioner lives in Buffalo, Pittsburgh has the advantage of being outside the heart of the snow belt.

But beyond the additional 50 inches of snow, Buffalo is less enticing for a number of reasons, many of which were listed in that Reddit thread.

In August, we addressed the issue of Pittsburgh's reluctant Rust Belt city awesomeness, and it's worth revisiting.

Oh, did we mention this skyline?

Question: Where do I get fresh coffee beans in Pittsburgh? (March 16)

Plenty of Redditor answers, and here they all are on a map.

What's your favorite place to get fresh coffee beans?

Question: Why is it called Eat’n Park? (March 17)

Smiley Eatn Park mascot photo by Pam Panchak Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

(Pam Panchak/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

After the news this week of a "new" Eat'n Park on Banksville Road, the question, "Why is it called Eat’n Park?" came up in the Post-Gazette's morning editorial meeting.

It's apparently not a new question.

As Mike Mackin of Heinz History Center wrote for the PG in 2010, Isaly's restaurant executive Larry Hatch created the franchise in 1949, taking advantage of the post-war automobile boom. "Mr. Hatch knew the Pittsburgh area needed a restaurant to capture the spirit of the times," Mackin wrote, "and took the innovative approach of reversing the then-popular restaurant phrase 'Park & Eat' — the catchy Eat'n Park name worked."

It might have worked, and the chain is now one of the region's most popular, but its name is still in the befuddling category of "parking on the driveway, driving on the parkway."

Question: What is Mount Washington REALLY like? (March 17)

Mount Washington Photo by Michael Henninger Pittsburgh Post-Gazette1

(Michael Henninger/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

The thread is worth your a read and is elucidating: about the neighborhood, which areas are better than others and more. The responses are also a reminder that a neighborhood is always more complex than its view of the city, no matter how magnificent.

Really, there are 2 Mt. Washingtons. Mount Washington on Grandview is a tourist area with fancy restaurants along a grand promenade lined with expensive condominiums. The rest of Mt. Washington, once you are a hundred yards from the edge of the hill is a rather ordinary working class "yinzer" neighborhood, some parts a bit more gritty than others. It's certainly accessible enough to town, or down the back way to the Parkway and the airport.

Question: Will you eventually be able to get a CLP library card without going in person? (March 19)

 Carrick branch of Carnegie Library photo by Robin Rombach Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 Carrick branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. (Robin Rombach/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Any Reddit Ask Me Anything that features the word "Boopsie" as part of an answer is OK by us.

And the rest of the Q&A is excellent, too, especially if you're interested in the future of your local library.

So, "Will you eventually be able to get a CLP library card without going in person?"

For now, it seems like the answer is a "no."

"Our big issue is address verification," writes Toby Greenwalt, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's new Director of Digital Strategy and Technology Integration. "Due to our bylaws, we have to confirm that the user is actually a resident of the area to give them a free card. Commercial services have it easy, in that there's an easy way to verify through a credit card number. It's a tougher nut to crack when you're not actually selling a product."

Previous Yinzerpedias:

Swimming holes, recycling schedule and Pittsburgh (March 14)

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Yinzerpedia: Swimming holes, recycling schedule and Pittsburg

Written by Ethan Magoc on .

Pittsburghers are a curious bunch.

Each week on message boards, forums and social media platforms, dozens of questions are asked on everything from where you work to your Burgh confessions to the best box gutter repair.

The insightful answers — those that aren’t complete snark — act as a helpful guide to 21st-century Pittsburgh, and we want to feature some of each week’s more helpful and interesting exchanges. Please do join the ongoing discussion in our comments below.

And yes, we’re affectionately calling this feature “Yinzerpedia,” because it takes the principle of crowdsourcing site Wikipedia, but the "crowd" for our purposes is all of yinz.

Question: Does Carnegie flood easily? (March 12)

A relative suggested the questioner avoid living in Carnegie due to flooding dangers. But as the commenters point out, Carnegie is no more prone to flooding than any other city neighborhood when more than an inch of rain falls in a few hours.

In our archive, we found little evidence of Carnegie’s flood risk being higher than other areas. It was hit hard in September 2004, but then again so was most of the region.

Question: What do you think of Tom Wolf for governor? (March 10)

Tom Wolf Pam Panchak Post Gazette

Gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf speaks during an endorsement announcement in the courtyard of the County Courthouse. (Pam Panchak/Post-Gazette)

The Democrat is leading early polls among challengers to Tom Corbett, and he’s apparently getting attention of some voters.

Adding considerable funds from his own bank account is likely helping on that front, as Post-Gazette politics editor James O’Toole wrote earlier this year:

He sought to give his campaign an instant jolt of credibility with the news that he would spend $10 million of his own money on the effort. That's real money in a primary in which some better known rivals have discussed primary budgets in the ballpark of $5 million.

Question: Are there swimming holes near Pittsburgh? (March 10)

rock furnace trail flickr eLeSeA

Rock Furnace Trail near Ford City. (Flickr/eLeSeA)

After this grueling winter, the thought of it being warm enough in the Pittsburgh region to enjoy a swimming hole is inspiring. And that is perhaps why the topic came up on Reddit this week. 

A few contributed helpful suggestions, and one person linked to http://www.swimmingholes.org, which appears to be a great resource.

We plotted suggestions from the thread and that site on the map below. Hang onto it for a summer day when the weather is nice.

 

Question: Is it recycling week in Pittsburgh? (March 8)

If this guide isn't the easiest to decipher, the following is a rather simple alternative: http://isitpghrecyclingweek.com

A similar resource was among those produced at Steel City Codefest last month, though it’s evidently not yet fully developed.

Question: When did Pittsburgh get an “H”? (March 10)

The Pittsburgh Press 1918

The answer is a little gray.

Pittsburgh was spelled Pittsburgh when incorporated in 1794. But as Rich Gigler wrote on the 1991 centennial of the name change, “Pittsburgh got the ‘h’ officially kicked out of it 100 years ago today.”

From 1891, when a federal report ordered all burghs to become burgs, until 1911, we were Pittsburg. The question arose on our Facebook page because the 1918 story about Daylight Saving Time still ran in a paper called The Pittsburg Press.

This might come as a surprise, but newspapers can be stubborn.

Question: Is the Sportsworks section of the Science Center open to adults? (March 11)

20140217dsCarnegieSciLoc01

(Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette photo)

Indeed it is.

But as one Redditor correctly notes, not for the 21+ nights:

“Aside from rock climbing there's a ton of stuff there that would be a bad idea to pair with drunk people: running, hockey sticks, baseballs…”

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Google executive visits Pittsburgh, discusses Internet freedom, power and digital literacy

Written by Mila Sanina on .

It may be hard for you to imagine the world without Internet, but did you realize that 4.5 billion of people still do not have online access? It's hard to imagine the Internet without Google. But did you know that there are more than 30 countries where Google services have been blocked?

And it's a rare occasion to witness a Google executive speak about internet freedom in a theater nearly 100 years old. But that's exactly what happened on Tuesday evening in Pittsburgh: Google's Global Head of Free Expression and International Relations Ross LaJeunesse spoke at Kelly Strayhorn Theater, which opened in 1914, in East Liberty as part of the event organized by the World Affairs Council.
 
photo 2 4
 
His talk was titled "Freedom and Power in the Digital Age," he spoke on information security, freedom of information online and the rise of splinternets that emerge when governments worldwide are trying to control access to information on the web.
 
Mr. LaJeunesse began his speech with an anecdote about his niece who was born in the world where internet is a given and where she wants to swipe her television screen because that's how it works with the devices she is familiar with, she does not know look at the world as pre-internet or post-internet. It's just internet.  
lajeunesse
 
The Google executive made a strong case in favor of free Internet, arguing that it's what people want even if their government doesn't and it's in line with Google's mission, which is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.
 
"We live in the world where information is the most valuable commodity." And authorities worldwide are realizing how powerful this freedom can be, LaJeunesse said. He cited just a few cases of how a blog post, a YouTube video, a picture changed the world in a past few years: Bassem Youssef, a satirist known as "Egypt's Jon Stewart," started his comedy on YouTube, Martha Payne, who posted photos of her school lunch on her blog, inspired movements like hers worldwide. 
 
Everyone has a stake in free Internet, Mr. LaJeunesse argued. "If a company says it's not an Internet company?  I'd sell the stock."
 
Of course, these days when Snowden revelations bring more surprises every day about how connectedness makes us vulnerable, there are plenty of concerns about privacy and data protection online. LaJeunesse did not dispute that, but said that Google treats these things seriously. "It cannot afford doing otherwise, we realize that competition is just one click away."
 
But there is also need for digital literacy, parents need to make sure their kids understand what appropriate and not appropriate to post online, how to encrypt your data and protect yourself, LaJeunesse said. 
 
"We have to teach our kids how to be better citizens."
 
LaJeunesse confessed that he is not on Twitter and chooses to read his Sunday edition of the New York Times in print. He said that the beauty of technology is that people have choices. You can opt out or opt in depending on your comfort level. 

 

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FAQs: Hays Bald Eagles and mysteries of the eagle cam

Written by Mila Sanina on .

Rise up this mornin', 
Smile with the risin' sun, 
Three little eggs... 
Inside the Hays nest... 
 
There are not yet tweeting or singing sweet songs (or making eagle calls like these), but they've become sort of a local sensation.
 
The Eagle cam, courtesy of PixController, has been one of the most popular features on post-gazette.com this year. Actually, in the past three weeks, it has been in top 10 most visited pages on our website. 
 
The newsroom has decided people just love watching the eagles, especially if it's a live video feed. They cheer on the birds scaring off the raccoon, defending the nest against the hawks and laying the eggs.
 
Eagle fans have been tweeting (on Twitter, not trying to imitate the birds), about the Hays bald eagles and asking questions about the eggs, the nest and the eagle cam. Wildlife professionals from Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania were generous in providing answers to some frequently asked questions.
 
eagle
 
How big is a Bald Eagle? 
Adult-sized eagles, depending on sex and age, will have a wingspan of six to seven feet. Females have larger wingspans than males and weigh approximately 20 percent more. First year birds have larger wingspans than older birds of the same sex because of their longer, “practice” feathers, which make learning to fly easier. Eagles weigh between 8-12 lbs. with a body length of about 32 inches.
 
Why do the mom and dad Bald Eagles keep turning the eggs? 
We're getting closer to the expected hatch date, and mom and dad are still turning the eggs--research has shown that eggs are kept at a mean temperature of 101 degrees. Turning the eggs helps to keep the eggs at the same even temperature. Another thing that happens during incubation--to the parents--both birds develop brood patches (a bare part of the chest which makes contact with the eggs), but the female typically has a more extensive brood patch. Interestingly, some eagles do not develop a brood patch at all.
 
 
What is the role of "dad" eagles in the nest?
The Bald Eagles' roles at the nest are somewhat interchangeable. Papa eagles take turns incubating eggs just like mamas. But because she often spends more time incubating, he will patrol their territory, watching for intruders, and will catch/gather food for both of them. (Hays eagle watchers have seen papa bring a fish to the nest occasionally). But, not to worry, because his busy time is coming! Typically, the male takes a larger role in collecting food for babies, especially for a two week period after the eggs hatch. The female spends more time protecting the babies during the first two weeks, when they are confined to the nest (called the nestling period). Therefore, he brings the lion's share of the food. During this period, mama will tear the food and will feed the babies. Again, typically, at the third and fourth week of the nestling period, things equal out. The female spends a bit more time away from the nest and also brings her share of food to the babies. 
 
Do the Eagles have a great sense of hearing that goes along with their eyesight? With all the noise of Route 837, two railroads, metal, concrete and asphalt recycling yards, how is it that their heads turn when a stick is snapped nearby, or another bird is sing in the area?
Just like people, the Bald Eagles get used to their environment and likely ignore what they hear all the time as background noise. When they hear something out of the ordinary, they do respond. The Hays Bald Eagles have nested near the railroad for two years now, and they are very used to the sounds in the area, so there's no need for concern that the usual sounds around them are bothersome to the eagles.
 
What kind of tree is it in? 
Until the leaves are out in a few months, we don't know for certain what type of tree the Hays Bald Eagles have chosen to build their nest in, since the nest is new this year. The Harmar Bald Eagles' nest, located on a hillside above Route 28, right across from the Hulton Bridge, is in a sycamore tree.
 
Can the camera zoom out? 
The camera can pan, tilt, and zoom. It's operated by PixController and the operators there control what the camera is doing. Sometimes when you watch the feed, you can see that the camera operators are changing the pan or tilt of the camera

 

 

Watch the live cam

(Courtesy of PixController)
This webcam, courtesy of PixController, is a pilot project with the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The camera will be streaming 24/7 as long as temperatures don't approach 0°F. The new player should work on PCs using Chrome and Firefox browsers, and on Apple iOS. If the new player is not working try the old player here: http://www.pixcontroller.com/eagles/index-old.htm

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Journaling a life in Pittsburgh on YouTube

Written by Ethan Magoc on .

Hey Pittsburghers, remember when you were 23, remember what Pittsburgh looked like when you were 23? 

Jesse Compton will be able to tell you by linking you to his YouTube channel, where he has been creating and posting a series of videos he calls “Cinema Journals.” They are sequences of video vignettes with gentle music on the background. Call them modern reincarnations of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, these monthly video journals capturing moments of Compton's life in Pittsburgh.

Mr. Compton is from Indiana, Pa., and initially attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania as a psychology major.

 

But within the past two years, after purchasing a DSLR camera that also shoots video, he started thinking that psychology wasn’t for him. He quit IUP and came to Pittsburgh with a friend who needed a roommate.

They live near the South Side, but Mr. Compton’s videos feature a much wider view of Pittsburgh. A couple silhouetted against PNC Park became the first public frame of his Cinema Journals.

(The first three uploaded videos, he said, were too embarrassing as initial efforts and are hidden from public view.)

“I just started when I actually moved to Pittsburgh maybe six months ago,” he said. “Mount Washington is probably my favorite so far.”

He gathers about an hour’s worth of footage and edits it to three or five minutes using Sony Vegas software. Mr. Compton plans to continue shooting and uploading, though not as frequently. He eventually wants to pursue film school.

 

The videos, featuring Mr. Compton’s friends, his niece and his niece’s dog, Diva, are just a hobby for now.

 

But the central character is often Pittsburgh.

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Mapping Pittsburgh's history through "The Digs"

Written by Ethan Magoc on .

Almost 18 months ago, the Post-Gazette launched its photo archive project, “The Digs."

In that time, on “The Digs” we have told and re-told stories about landmarks across Western Pennsylvania, about local personalities such as Porky Chedwick and Mean Joe Greene and covered topics as far ranging as Pittsburgh parking headaches and the North Side’s 1927 gas tank explosion. We hope you have been digging the journey through our region’s history as much as we are.

Still, we’ve been missing a way to help you better explore that history. Since August 2012, we’ve uploaded close to 300 posts on "The Digs." That’s a lot. And without any geographic bearings, it’s easy to get lost.

And so we recently plotted “The Digs.” You can now explore all of our location-based posts in an easy-to-use Google Fusion Tables map. Click here to try it.

Around 40 entries couldn’t be plotted precisely and were left out. We did our best to make the locations as accurate as possible, but if you think something is in the wrong spot, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I will look into it.

We’ll also be using the map to explore undercovered neighborhoods that we haven’t yet written about. You're welcome to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for future posts to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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