bubble-test-1009.jpgIt’s been two and a half years since the last time we took a reader survey. When we took the last survey the market was still in the throes of optimism; now, as we all know, the world’s a slightly different place. So while we gotta do this so that we can have some fresh data to give potential advertisers, it’ll also be interesting to see how the demographics and psychology of the readership has shifted. As always, we’ll share the data with you and, as always, we thank you for your participation. If you have five minutes, please take the survey here.

We haven’t had a real vacation since we started Brownstoner over four years ago and after the last five months of writing the site almost entirely by ourselves while juggling Flea-related responsibilities, we are beat. So tomorrow we’re heading out with Mrs. B and a few friends (sans kids) to the Amalfi Coast for a week. We may write a few posts on the local architecture while we’re there, but by and large we’ll be leaving the blog in the extremely capable hands of Gabby Warshawer who, many of you will remember, played an integral editorial role in the site in 2007 and 2008. We look forward to returning full of blogging vim and Flea vigor. Ciao!

After months of planning, we’re going to be launching the first significant upgrade of the site later this morning. While the overall look at feel won’t change too much, there will be a few noticeable differences: 1) readers will be able to create user profiles that track their comments, forum posts and responses to forum posts; 2) registered users will also be able to upload photos to the forum; 3) all the renovation blogs will stream into a centralized reno blog so you don’t have to (though you still can) check each one individually. In addition, we’ve tried to make searching the site’s archives by topic and neighborhood a little easier. Oh yeah, the site should load faster too.

While we encourage everyone to sign up for a profile and use it as the primary way to interact with the site, it will still be possible to make anonymous comments. That said, anonymous comments will appear in a lighter font than comments from logged-in users. The hope is that regular commenters can establish credibility (and not have their identities stolen) while purposefully disruptive anonymous comments can be easily spotted and discounted.

This first step into a web 2.0 world will lay the groundwork for a bunch of other new functionalities in the upcoming months, including the ability for anyone to start a renovation blog and the creation of a map-based archive of the 2,000 or so property-related posts we’ve written over the past two and a half years.

The site upgrade will start around 10:30 this morning. Access to the site should not be interupted, but any comments or forum posts made between that time and when we tell you it’s complete (hopefully only a couple of hours) will be lost.

Look forward to hearing everyone’s feedback.

Mr. B

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Where’s the Energy? Photo by Konrad Fiedler

When the power went out across two blocks (GMAP) on Union Ave, in Park Slope, the Food Coop was closed longer than it was during the 2003 blackout, the Sun reports today on their energy themed day. The outage was caused by undergroud fires, resulting from overheated equipment.There were sporadic blackouts accross the city yesterday as the state’s Independent System Operator reported a record peak demand for electricity on Monday.
In 2004, the mayor’s Energy Task Force called for an increase of energy production of 25% by 2008. But they now say current conservation measures are sufficient to meet rising demand until 2012. Con Ed said the past couple of days problems were the result of isolated equiment failures, and not an inability to meet demand. But the Sun still thinks the city dropped the ball. It doesn’t matter “whether the problem was a lack of electricity or an unreliable way to deliver it,” the opinion page posits, and they use yesterday’s subway signal failures as an example of why.
Power Outages [NY Sun]
“Stark Reminder” of Energy Woes [NY Sun]
Mayor Could do Better [NY Sun]
New York’s Energy Future [NY Times]
How to Reduce Your Energy Consumption [NRDC]

Here’s a fresh shot of the Blue Angels warming up for their Memorial Day acrobatics taken from a rooftop on Hicks Street. “They are flying just about 100-200 feet off the rooftops (or so it seems),” reports our man on the roof. “They are no noisier than the BQE for me, so heh, they can knock themselves out all day if they want.”

Looks like we’ll be chalking up this security experiment to experience and putting it in the junk heap. Thanks for all input. You’ll continue to see the the security code for a little while longer but you no longer need to enter anything, so please comment away.

First of all, a big thanks to the hundred or so people who made it out to Design Within Reach in Brooklyn Heights to hear us tell renovation war stories. We had fun meeting everyone and fielding questions afterwards. The topic that got the most air time? Clanging radiators.

Secondly, ever since we switched servers last fall, the log-in function on My Brownstone has been down. Well, we finally got it fixed so we hope to see a wave of pent-up demand unleashed on the DIY site. For the uninitiated, the My Brownstone feature (reachable on the nav bar at the top of the page) lets readers create home pages for their own houses. Whether your house is in pristine shape and you just want to show it off or you’re just getting started on a messy renovation, we encourage you to sign up and start uploading your photos and stories.

Lastly, like many of you, we have Monday off and won’t be blogging.
My Brownstone [Brownstoner]

You might notice a few changes that happened around here over the weekend. The most obvious is our new header which was created by Monika Wuhrer, a wonderful Park Slope-based designer who has built the site with us over the past year and change. Also, a big shout out to one of our favorite photo bloggers, Youngna Park, whose Dumbo Series we lifted the header image from. You also might notice a fourth column has been added, atop which sits another new feature–the first of a series of two-minute neighborhood videos. In true blogger fashion, this is an off-the-cuff effort with admittedly low production value. We hope they’ll be a fun way for people to get a feel for the various neighborhoods we film over time. We’ve got a few other tricks up our sleeves in the coming weeks that should add a lot of functionality and utility to the site as well. As always, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

houseSince Lockhart was in the audience, he beat us to the punch on posting about our participation on the blogging panel (which also included Alexis from Curbed and Jake from Gothamist) at the Inman Real Estate conference yesterday. The message to the brokers in the audience: Get on the bus! As for the wig-and-mask get-up? Many of you know who we are but we couldn’t risk having our photo show up somewhere our boss would see it. Plus, when you’re the last presenter of the day, a little showmanship helps keep the audience from nodding off.
Brownstoner Revealed! (Sort Of) [Curbed]