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Curse my non-programming life!

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I haven't done much work on the game in the past month for three reasons:

1. It's summer!
2. New girlfriend
3. Many books to read

Also, I have been working on a small personal project: An interactive map of crimes committed in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The easy part was figuring out the Google Maps API. The hard part was finding news articles. Only one website - Wood TV - has dependable news about the greater Grand Rapids area. The rest of the local news sites are de facto program guides for the local Fox affiliates.

Last October someone broke into my car and stole my stereo. WIthin a week, at least six other cars also had their stereos stolen. Of those people, perhaps half contacted the police. The rest didn't want to have to deal with the insurance hassles. At that point I started digging around, looking for crime statistics in Grand Rapids. All I found was charts which gave aggregate numbers - 26 murders in 2004, 8 arsons in 2001, etc. Sorry, but as a taxpaying resident of this city, that is nowhere near enough information to satisfy my curiosity.

So during the recent heat wave I grapped a Google Maps API key and begain playing around. Three hours later and I had the first murder pinned to the map.

I currently have a list of around 40 crimes in the XML data file. I know, however, that there is a lot more going on in this city. I suspect I will have to head down to the GR police station and see what is available under the Freedom on Information act. My pie-in-the-sky goal is to have every felony committed in this city in the past five years, mapped out.

As time permits I will add various tools to sort the incidents by type of crime, date, area of the city, month of the year, and, if available, time of day. I will also probably, eventually, have all of the data being pulled from a database, rather than a hand-crafted XML file.

As far as my game goes, I am still thinking about it. I have lost a month of development time, which will probably come out of the graphics. So we will see where that leaves me. Now I am thinking it will be a simple top-down view rather than isometric or pseudo-3d. I expect to be spending a little more time every week working on Shank's Mare, but couldn't at the moment say how much.

Girlfriends are so distracting!
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Unfortunately, nothing like that here. Almost like they deliberately make it difficult to find news which makes Grand Rapids look bad.

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