The New York Public Library is training computers to recognize building shapes and other information from old city maps, and they need your help!  Take a few minutes to help hone the data; no experience or knowledge required! This is a very neat experiment in crowdsourcing data aggregation for use to improve civic society.

It’s hard to believe cellular phones have been around for 40 years. They’ve really changed the way we keep in touch, do business, and communicate on whole. I wonder where the next 40 years will take our talking devices…

Did you know: Area Codes

Q. Why was New York City’s original area code 212?

A. Because it was easy to dial.

When area codes were introduced to speed the calling of long-distance numbers, telephones had rotary dials. The nearest digit to the dialing stopper, and thus the digit that could be dialed the quickest, was 1. Next came 2, and then 3.

It would seem the original numbering plan in 1947 assigned the fewest necessary clicks on the rotary dial to the most populous area codes, with New York City’s topping the list. Originally, operators used the area codes, which preceded by many years the actual direct dialing of long-distance numbers by much of the public.

There were also a few other rules. The original North American numbering plan apparently had only 0 or 1 as the middle numeral, with 0 meaning a whole state using the same area code, and 1 meaning a state that had several area codes within it. Another rule was that there shouldn’t be two of the same digit in a row. Since New York State had several area codes, the middle digit needed to be 1. The first and third digits were the fastest remaining option, 2.

By the same system of minimizing the clicks, Los Angeles had 213 and Chicago had 312.

Read this via the New York Times this morning and found it quite interesting. Then, I wondered how other area codes were distributed, so I looked up a list. While upper/central Michigan would have had the short end of the stick in the rotary phone days with 989, at least one can now dial these digits conveniently in the same row on most mobile devices.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Here’s to all the women who live life to the fullest, those who have paved the way for increased opportunity in the past and present, and those men who have chimed in with their undying support. It is my wish for women worldwide that we continue to raise our voices, proudly work and raise families if we choose, and celebrate our unity and spirit.

Read more about celebrations, history, education and advocacy happening today around the world.

February 8 in History

via Alexis:

It’s February 8th. Today marks the 45th anniversary of the Orangeburg Massacre, the first incident on a U.S. college campus in which unarmed student protesters were killed. South Carolina highway patrol men opened fire on a group of students protesting the segregation of a local bowling alley, killing three and injuring 27 others.

One of the students shot that night was my father, Joe Lambright.

This incident pre-dated the Kent State Massacre of 1970, but got little to no media coverage. It has since been incorporated into the curriculum in SC, which is a big step, but there’s still some work needing to be done. This is American history. More Americans need to know about it.

She’s right; nobody talks about this and more people should know it happened. Here’s more info.

We’ve come a long way as a country with segregation. But, even though it’s not always explicit or across racial lines anymore, it still exists. Stand up to it, America.

Wealthy Young Donors Push Charities to Show Results

Bottom line: This article argues that 20 and 30-somethings with wealth want to clearly see how their financial gift will advance a cause, but that they also respect established histories of giving in their family. Makes sense. I’m excited to see more stories in the coming years on what causes specifically millennial donors are giving to, and how exactly philanthropic gifts from these young, wealthy donors have impacted communities.

Wealthy Young Donors Push Charities to Show Results

Chris has been watching math videos (huh?!), so I tuned in for a few, including this video introducing differential equations. They’re really easy to watch, follow, and learn from, and the instructor is an absolute delight. It’s impressive to see lessons that are considered ‘upper level’ math presented with such ease and in such manageable chunks. I am sad that my last math class was 8 years ago; these mini-lessons are just enough to fill that void for awhile longer!

Even if you’re not a math person, there are videos for you! The Khan Academy is an online-based nonprofit with a mission to make quality education available to everyone. They have nearly 4,000 videos on topics from biology, to animation, to finance, to history. I love the mission and the execution; two thumbs up. Now go learn about differential equations!