Falling Fruit helps urbanites forage for food using Google Maps Platform

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We don’t typically think of cities as places to forage for food. But there is fresh food ready for picking on our city streets if you know where to find it. We created Falling Fruit to help people recover food that would otherwise go to waste. The interactive maps on our website and mobile apps are built using Google Maps Platform, helping us create the bridge between our users and the large amounts of data we collect on food-bearing trees, plants, and other foraging opportunities.

My co-founders and I blew minds everytime we harvested fruit in Boulder, Colorado (where we all lived at the time). People said, “Is that edible?” and “I never noticed those were apples!” Excited by our delicious discoveries, and dismayed by the perceptual divide between city dwellers and their food, we were determined to shine light on food growing in cities everywhere.

Falling Fruit is a type of matchmaking service for urban foragers. People enter an address to find the foraging opportunities that surround them – from fruits and nuts like apples (Malus sp.), plums (Prunus sp.), and pecans (Carya illinoinensis) to edible flowers like elderberry (Sambucus sp.) and black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), and spices like lavender (Lavendula sp.) or pink peppercorns (Schinus molle, Schinus terebinthifolius).

While we encourage users to submit new listings, most of our data comes from cities and universities, which often make their tree inventories publicly available. Our worldwide map lists more than 2,300 types of edibles in more than 1.3 million locations. Although most locations are publicly accessible, private property owners sometimes add themselves to the map to share their harvest with others.

Using Google Maps Platform, a small, volunteer-driven nonprofit like ours can create maps and integrate data sets in less time. We use the Maps JavaScript API to display foraging locations within detailed interactive basemaps on our website and mobile apps. The Geocoding API converts between map coordinates and human-readable addresses, so, for example, users can add or search for locations based on a street address, and we can list new locations by city. We use the Directions API to allow users to build custom routes between locations.

With locations in 111 countries and 6,340 cities (and users scattered across the globe), we rely on other Google APIs to help us break through language barriers. We use the Cloud Translation API to give human translators a head start in translating our user interfaces (the website is available in nine languages). In our larger effort to build a multilingual dictionary of species common names, we use the Custom Search API to determine which “common names” for a species in a particular language are in fact the most common.

With help from Google, we can continue to use the Maps APIs without stretching our small budget too thin. The Google Maps Platform credit covers the usage cost as we attract more users to Falling Fruit. The APIs’ accurate documentation also helps us run Falling Fruit more efficiently. Tasks like converting between map coordinates and addresses now run automatically in the background, which frees up time that we can devote to other projects – like adding new features to the mobile app, importing new city tree inventories, and partnering with nonprofits with similar missions, such as Community Fruit Rescue.

Once you start looking for food-bearing plants in your city, you’ll realize that you’ve been surrounded by them all along. We’re excited that Falling Fruit is helping to reimagine cities as a source of food. Over half of the world’s population lives in urban areas: We want them to realize that there is edible bounty ready to be harvested, just down the street or around the corner. As the popularity of urban foraging grows, I hope that we can organize ourselves to cultivate increasingly more food-bearing (rather than just decorative) plants in our cities.

VIDEO: Evolve Tests Bilstein B6 EDC Dampers on the F80 BMW M3

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If you’ve seen Evolve Automotive’s F80 M3, code-named “Project Vyper”, you’d know that it’s been tuned quite a bit. Everything from an engine tune to bigger turbochargers (both of which help it make 605 hp, by the way) to aerodynamic tweaks have been fitted to the ‘Vyper’. However, the suspension remained relatively untouched. So Imran at Evolve decided to change that.

The only suspension modification done to the incredibly green BMW M3 was a set of Intrax springs. The stock electronically-adjustable dampers remained. In both purely stock and lowered forms, Imran wasn’t happy with the suspension setup of the BMW M3. He felt that it wasn’t compliant enough while also not being stable enough. So he decided to replace them with a set of Bilstein B6 EDC (Electronic Damper Control) dampers.

Bilstein has been one of the premiere names in suspension tuning forever and it’s hard to go wrong with any of its setups. But Imran was still a bit curious as to whether or not it would make much of a difference. Turns out, those B6 dampers make a world of a difference.

Because they work with the car’s stock suspension modes, you can adjust them from Comfort to Sport or even Sport Plus, just like the standard M3 suspension. In Comfort mode, the Bilstein B6 dampers, with the same Intrax springs as before, apparently feel significantly better. It’s far more comfortable and compliant than before while also feeling more stable and eliminating most of the car’s body roll.

In Sport  and Sport Plus modes, it’s the car obviously becomes stiffer and stiffer but it’s still compliant enough for everyday use. So the new suspension setup really transforms the car. It also helps keep the rear end more planted, allowing it to put down its substantial power better. Have an M3 and feel that it’s a bit too sketchy, a bit too tail-happy to drive quickly? Try a new suspension setup.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEck2-kuq9s]

The article VIDEO: Evolve Tests Bilstein B6 EDC Dampers on the F80 BMW M3 appeared first on BMW BLOG

Claimed Factory-Built 6-Wheeler: 1991 Dodge Ram Conversion Van

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This 1991 Dodge Ram van (VIN 2B6HB21Z7MK439484) runs dual rear axles, reportedly factory-built at the request of an LA-based dealer. Only one of the axles is driven, with the extra, rearmost tag unit suspended on a simple beam. The fifth and sixth wheels lend what’s otherwise an unusually well preserved conversion van a wild period custom look, while inside it’s standard issue red velour, captains chairs, wood trim, overhead cabinets, tables and recessed lighting. Power comes from a 360ci V8/automatic combo, and the seller says both front and rear A/C still work. Find it here on eBay in Tuscon, Arizona with a $13k BIN. Special thanks to BaT reader Kyle K. for this submission.

Claimed Factory-Built 6-Wheeler: 1991 Dodge Ram Conversion Van

Dodge produced B-series from 1971 until 2003, and offered the vans in a wide variety of lengths and configurations. We’d have guessed this was a custom build, though the seller says it’s fully factory and made at the request of a Los Angeles Dodge dealer–unfortunately no documentation backing this claim is provided.

Claimed Factory-Built 6-Wheeler: 1991 Dodge Ram Conversion Van

Here’s a better look at the dual axle rear, and a careful look shows where the van body was stretched to accommodate the extra set of wheels and tires. Paint looks pretty good overall, but decals and finish do show scattered wear when viewed up close. Wheels aren’t great and we’re not digging the sidewall stickers either–a period set of Centerlines or even Torq-Thrust-style items would be a big improvement.

Claimed Factory-Built 6-Wheeler: 1991 Dodge Ram Conversion Van

For many of us the factory original interior may bring back childhood memories with its overhead and floor mood lighting, swivel seats, fold down rear bench, small CRT TV and 6×9″ speakers. Both front and rear A/C reportedly still work.

Claimed Factory-Built 6-Wheeler: 1991 Dodge Ram Conversion Van

More cushy velour and wood is visible up front, though timbers up here are plastic. The doghouse covering the 360 looks to offer a good deal of storage, and those padded covers are something else. We’d be curious to see if the dash mat is covering any cracks. Interestingly, the dash design is one of relatively few subtle differences between these later models and the 1973 example featured here recently. Only the modern head-unit appears non-original.

Claimed Factory-Built 6-Wheeler: 1991 Dodge Ram Conversion Van

Here’s a view looking towards the front of the van, and we’d guess that the tag axle was probably originally created for box trucks or cab-only configurations. With a simple beam axle and an extra set of shocks it probably doesn’t impact driving down the road too much, but it is cool.

Claimed Factory-Built 6-Wheeler: 1991 Dodge Ram Conversion Van

Don’t you miss badging like this?

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