How to Be a Courteous Walker in New York City: A Guide for Visitors

The key to grasping the unwritten rules of moving through New York City is to first understand that New Yorkers are not rude. In fact, we’re almost uniformly helpful and polite. If you’re lost or confused, ask directions or advice from strangers on the street; New Yorkers are proud to show off their mastery of navigating the town and happy to recommend interesting destinations not found in the guidebooks.

What confuses visitors is the fact that New Yorkers are in a hurry. It’s part of our cultural identity. Being in a hurry signifies that what we’re doing is important, even though it’s seldom true.

Once you understand that, it should be clear why New Yorkers are so exasperated with you on the sidewalk: You’re in our way.


How to Walk in New York City (Especially Manhattan)

Here’s the key: A New York City sidewalk (or stair or escalator) is a highway. Follow the same rules as driving and you’ll take care of almost all issues New Yorkers have with tourists. Thus:

  1. Keep to the right.
    Just like the slow and passing lanes on the highway: the slower you walk, the further to the right. If you’re in the passing lane and you’re going the same speed as the person next to you, you’re blocking traffic. Just like on the highway: keep to the right except for passing.
    The same rules apply to subway stairs and escalators.
  2. If you need to stop, pull over.
    Never, ever stop in the middle of a sidewalk. Just like on the highway: if you stop, you’ll be rear-ended.
  3. Look both ways and merge.
    Leaving any building is like getting on a highway entrance ramp.
  4. Other thoughts.
    If you’re walking and looking at your phone, I guarantee you’re pissing people off.
    If you and your friends are walking down the sidewalk three or four abreast, I guarantee you’re pissing people off.
  5. To Sum Up
    There are people behind you who just want to get past. Always.

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Online Photo Publishers: Stop Specifying DPI

I often get requests to supply photos for online publication or a contest where the editor specifies the dpi or “dots per inch.” It’s usually a certain number of pixels wide “at 300 dpi” or “72 dpi,” or sometimes all they ask for is “a 300 dpi image.”

But I’m here to tell you that those are nonsensical specs. Setting an image’s dpi* for online or screen viewing is literally meaningless.

Why? Because the image’s dpi is 100% determined by the screen it’s seen on. And nothing I do, no dpi setting, can change that. Continue reading

How to Build a Secure Online Presence

All the recent news of hacking, identity theft, and security breaches has gotten me really paranoid. If you’re not yet paranoid, read this story about a smart guy who had everything well protected and still got hacked:

So I’ve started my own personal security initiative to protect myself from hacking and identity theft. Here’s what I’ve done:



Your email provider is the weak link in all online security. Why? Because if a hacker gets access to your email account, they can go to the website of your bank, your broker, your PayPal, etc., claim that you lost your password, and have a new password sent to that hacked email address. Then they can change the password, letting them in and locking you out. Your email address is a gateway to a huge amount of online security.

There are several ways to strengthen that weak link: Continue reading