Goodbye TRB 2014

January 17th, 2014

Goodbye TRB #93.  This book of TRBs has closed and a new edition begins next year at the convention center.

Goodbye (for me) to the 1/2" thick conference program.  I took one this year, but truthfully I never used it.  The app is *that good*.  I don't plan on taking a book next year or beyond.

Goodbye to the Hilton staff, because even though many of us don't care for the hotel itself, the staff has done lots to help us feel at home.  We'll miss y'all, but we won't miss the uncomfortable chairs, limited free WiFi, or many other physical aspects of the hotel.

Goodbye to the %&$# hill on Connecticut Avenue.  Many of us government employees are rejoicing that next year we will not be schlepping a rolling suitcase up that hill.

Goodbye to the Bier Baron.  Well maybe.  I'd be fine with going back as the service was better this year and, well, bacon lollipops!  Hopefully @e-lo doesn't call my beer selection "toxic" if we make it back next year.

I have been thinking about three things lately, and these will be topics over the next few weeks:

Recap of TRBAM and Transportation Camp.

How to blog.  I've been approached by a few people asking about starting a blog.  I'm going to have a post describing my process, tools, etc.

Narrowing the Research-Practice gap.  I have some ideas, and some things I'm going to put into practice here with the University of Cincinnati (whom we already have a great relationship with).

Model Testing.  It is becoming increasingly important to ensure we are testing our models, and not just calibrating and validating.  I have some new ideas that may expand what we test, even further than what TMIP will be coming out with later this year (that I am involved with)

Licensing of Government Code.  I have the feeling that we need to revisit how we license code written by MPOs and DOTs as well as code purchased by the same (and to a degree, where do we draw the line between code as an executable and code as code?)

Open Presenting.  I want to look into having presentations hosted on-line and accessible to anyone.  This is because there was a projector problem in Transportation Camp that wouldn't have been an issue except that the presentation was a ppt/pptx and it wasn't online.  Nearly everyone in the audience had a tablet or laptop, and I'm sure everyone had a smartphone.

Cell Phone Data.  OKI purchased cell phone data from Airsage, and I will be posting about our processing of it, and I will also post about the Cell Phone Data Symposium at TRB in February.

Decision Trees.  Among the things I learned a little bit about, this is one that I want to look more into.

I think that's it.  I had fun this year, and it was great to talk with old friends and make new friends, too.

Annual Meeting Notes

January 8th, 2014

This is a journal (of sorts) of thoughts leading up to, during, and after the TRB Annual Meeting.  I don't want to post a million little updates, so this may be posted at some point and updated throughout with things that aren't big enough for one topic.

This is going to be updated as I have tidbits to add.

The format of this is like a shuttle launch... T-5 days, etc...


For the second time in four years, I will not be at the Hilton with the rest of the modelers.  That doesn't bother me, but what does is that the Fairfax at Embassy Row's website wants to tell me that "Original crown molding and floorboards provide a historic feel to each room", but not if they have a pool, hot tub, or exercise room.  I'm now WELCOMING the thought that they are moving the annual meeting to the convention center.

Aside from that, I emailed the hotel asking for a list of amenities.  Website fail.  At least it's closer to the subway station which will make Saturday easier.

I also ordered two things via Amazon:

(Note: these are affiliate links - if you buy them after clicking on this link, you directly support this blog 🙂 )


Things To Do

Aside from finishing and plotting the poster, there's a few things I've thought are pretty important to do:

  • Email the hotel asking if they have something like an exercise room.  Wait >24 hours for response that may have been flagged as spam
  • Check supplies (paper, pens, small stapler, post-its, binder clips) and get them into the bag. Also, remove items that the TSA won't like (except my handheld ham radio, they'll question it, but they'll let me through)
  • Print hotel and registration information


This was spent with finishing the poster.  A draft version of this is now on display for tomorrow's board meeting... we have board orientation tomorrow, and the only place in our board room where I could fit a 90" poster is behind where the donuts will be.  Pics coming tomorrow.

Things To Do

  • Make sure I have business cards and a business card holder
  • Figure out the airline/security/logistic side of getting the poster from Cincinnati to DC
  • Double-check Saturday travel plans (I.e. make sure I have a list of expected times and which subways to ride)
  • Check balance on Metro Card and make sure it is in my wallet


This was a very busy day at the office and at home.

Things To Do

  • Charge power devices (like backup batteries)


Last day in the office... gotta make sure I get everything.

I created a handful of file folders for "TRB SAT", "TRB SUN", etc.  Everything for those days goes in there, and everything from those days (i.e. receipts) goes in those.  Hopefully that makes

Things To Do

  • Make sure I have all my notes for the ADB50 committee
  • Make sure I have everything else
  • Check supplies (e.g. pens, paper clips, etc)
  • Download EVERYTHING.  The wifi at the Hilton sucks.  This is not limited to papers I may want to read, but also videos I may want to watch.  I'm not expecting the wifi at any other hotel to be any better.


This is the day of Transportation Camp.

Things To Do

  • Board the plane
  • Have fun at camp!

#TRBAM Twitter Data Mining Project

November 5th, 2013

I have been interested in playing around with twitter as a data mining resource.  Today, I happened to stumble upon an article in Getting Genetics Done that talks about just that (just with a different conference).

I looked into their script, and it points to a twitter command line program called t.

That and a little bit of shell scripting gave me something I could run to get the tweets in the last 10 minutes:

What this means is that I can get tweets in CSV for the last 10 minutes.  This can easily be run via cron:

*/10 * * * * sh /root/trbam_tweets/ >/var/www/tstat.txt 2>&1

I have the output redirected to somewhere I'll be able to see from DC, as I don't know how my access will be or how much I'll be able to do prior to then.  I will make the data available to other researchers since it is all public tweets... That being said, if I (@okiAndrew) follow you on twitter and you've made your timeline private, contact me if you're concerned (or don't use "#trbam").  I don't specifically know if protected tweets would show up in the search - I DO have to be authenticated with Twitter, though.

Duplicates and Misses

I am going to write some code (whenever I get some spare time) to import the CSV files into mySQL or couchDB or something.  This will allow me to use the twitter ID as a way to test for and remove (or not import) duplicates.

As far as misses are concerned, that's just life.  This script is being fired off every 10 minutes - there are 144 files from each day, there's 71 days left until the annual meeting starts at the time of me typing this, and TRBAM lasts for 5 days... so that's about 11,000 files (plus more because people will still talk about it afterwards).  I'm not sure anyone has a count of how many tweets from last year (and I'm not going looking), and Twitter's API may decide to hate me during this.

Where is this Going?

Many of the charts in the first referenced article are great charts that can easily be done in R.  I'll have a few more to add, I'm sure, and as soon as others get their hands on the data, there will be many more.  I also will possibly use Hadoop (or something) to do some text analysis.

Another place this will be going is #ESRIUC.  I've submitted an abstract for their conference.  I don't know if I'm going, but whether I do or not is a moot point - there's usually some good stuff there.