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Niche expands work of CollegeProwler with the power of user-generated reviews

Carnegie Mellon graduate Luke Skurman is retooling his website to cater to a wider audience, and it's showing a lot of promise.

"College Prowler founder and CEO Luke Skurman says he thinks the Internet needs more user-generated reviews, which is why he's expanding his 11-year-old user-curated online college guidebook and rebranding it as Niche, a site that allows students and families to grade high schools and will eventually give them the ability to evaluate grade schools, cities, and neighborhoods. 'The 2.4 million people go to college [straight out of high school]. That's a great market size," Skurman says, "but what can we do that's bigger than helping students choose a college?'"

To read more about Niche, click here.

10 up and coming international destinations features Pittsburgh

"No longer the smoky city made famous by the coal and steel industries, Pittsburgh is enjoying a modern day renaissance. A juxtaposition of historic and modern architecture, the city has made a conscious effort to invest in the arts, culture and environment. Nine theaters, surrounded by galleries and trendy restaurants reside neatly in a 14-block radius, and public art has pushed through the downtown core into the neighborhoods. The city of bridges has also reclaimed its river-fronts, boasting three healthy rivers and 24 miles of trails. Now if they would only stop putting fries on their salad."

To see the list of 10 up and coming destinations, click here.

17 awesome things about the Pittsburgh Pirates

Not like we need to tell you, but "the Pittsburgh Pirates advanced to the NLDS on Tuesday with their 6-2 win over the Reds at PNC Park. If you haven’t been following baseball this season, feel free to read that sentence a few more times to let it sink in. The Pirates won 94 games in 2013 en route to a Wild Card berth in their first winning season since 1992." And now, they've received one of baseball's highest honors--a "17 Awesome Things About" list in USA Today.

To read the best things ever about the 2013 Pirates, click here.

Weird rooms in Pittsburgh

Installation art has a way of getting to you. It takes a very familiar idea--a room--and turns it into something more."Putting elaborate theories aside, 'installation art' is the art of weird rooms. And, as a general rule, the more specific the room the more effectively weird and wonderful the installation. My two favorite things in the 2013 Carnegie International, which opened this weekend, were installations sited within the specific idiosyncrasies of the Carnegie Museum of Art."

To read more about the Carnegie International's collection of weird rooms and more weird rooms in Pittsburgh, click here.

Pittsburgh offers more to do than one weekend can handle

David and Nick are two high schoolers from Manhattan who've only heard about Pittsburgh through movies and TV. But they made it here. And they did not expect what they saw. "Yes, Pittsburgh. We went -- David and Nick, two teenagers with learner's permits, and their weary parents, Dan and Louise -- largely because the place is on the way to Chicago, our driving destination. But we stayed long enough to discover what a cool and affordable town it is. About six hours from Long Island by car, it offers every urban feature you can think of, except snobbery."

To read more about two Long Island teens' trip to the 'Burgh, click here.

Vogue praises the 56th Carnegie International

“A man’s first duty is to. . . .  make the world in some way better than you found it,” wrote the Scottish-American industrialist Andrew Carnegie in 1903. Today, no better example of the steel baron’s philanthropic vision is the Carnegie International, the oldest contemporary art survey in America, which opens this Saturday in Pittsburgh. Now in its 56th iteration, the exhibition takes place every three to five years, and was first conceived by Carnegie in 1896 to acquire “the old masters of tomorrow” for the then-nascent museum that bears his name."

Read the full article here.

Michael Keaton's passion for the Pirates and Pittsburgh

Actor and Pittsburgh native Michael Keaton has been blogging about the Bucs for CNN and his latest entry is blowing up, in a good way, online. Read what he has to say about what makes Pirate fans and Pittsburgh classy. It might surprise you.

Read his blog here.

First Riot Grrrl exhibition explores the lasting impact of the punk feminist movement

Pittsburgh's always been a bit of a counter-culture hotbed, particularly in the punk scene. Everyone's heard the Ramones and The Clash, and a few of you out there may have heard of Pittsburgh-local Anti-Flag - but a little-explored part of punk history is revealing itself at CMU's Miller Gallery. "A new exhibit at Carnegie Mellon's Miller Gallery is paying homage to this revolutionary movement in 'Alien She,' the first ever exhibition to explore the legacy of Riot Grrrl on contemporary culture. Through sculpture, film, photography, drawing, printmaking, music and performance, the show highlights the work of seven visual artists whose art practices have been indelibly influenced by the '90s feminist phenomenon."

To read more about the exhibit and the legacy of punk rock feministas, click here.

9 reasons you should experience VIA festival in Pittsburgh

It's back - the eclectic, city wide, club-bound, music and visual art festival - VIA - has come back to Pittsburgh, and the world is taking notice. "VIA—described by co-founder and director Lauren Goshinski as an 'elastic entity'—is a creative collective, a year-round event series and an annual weeklong audiovisual festival. Its four-year-old music/new media fest, held this year Oct. 1-6, recently became the third U.S. festival to be inducted as a member of International Cities of Advanced Sound (ICAS), joining a list that includes renowned festivals like MUTEK in Montreal, Unsound in Krakow and the SOCO Festival in Uruguay."

To read the 9 reasons to experience VIA, click here.

Pittsburgh Pirates (finally) make the MLB playoffs

So, we all know how horrible it's been to be a Pirates fan for the past 20 years. You know, 20 years? As in, 20 years without a winning season? Last year looked like our year—but, it wasn't. We came close, though. "Finally, seemingly overnight, times have changed. Attendance is soaring. A winning season is guaranteed. And, as they head into a critical series this weekend against the Cincinnati Reds, the once-lowly Pirates are assured a playoff spot barring an epic collapse down the home stretch as the season heads to a close on Sept. 29."

"'The Buccos are just killing it this year,' says fan JJ Cardinale who, along with her friend Melissa Spynda, has attended 20 games this season dressed as pierogies, a staple of the many Polish-Americans in the Pittsburgh area. Cardinale and Spynda have already purchased playoff tickets, though the Pirates probably need several wins to lock down a wild-card berth or upend first-place St. Louis for the division championship."

To read more of USA Today's coverage of The Pirates' best year in decades, click here.

Pittsburgh bridges from a bike's POV

Biking around Pittsburgh has never been easier (or more fun) than it is today; and it's not just Pittsburghers who know it. One blogger on StreetFilms.org put together a montage of Pittsburgh's bridges via bicycle. "It's no secret that Pittsburgh is a great city of bridges. And while they may currently lack a comprehensive on-road network for bikes,  pedestrians and bicyclists do have ample space and comfortable access to just about all their bridges."

"Last time I visited in 2010, I fell in love with the elegance of the Hot Metal Bridge, which crosses the Monongahela River and provides an intergral link in the Great Allegheny Passage which connects all the way to D.C. One evening, I spent over an hour soaking in the atmosphere and the observing the people using it. It's peaceful, clean, and has great views.  I'd put it amongst my Top Five U.S. bike bridges."

To read more and see the Hot Metal Bridge from a bike's eye view, click here.

Pittsburgh's educational maker movement lauded on CNN

Pittsburgh, the Children's Museum, Gregg Behr and the groundbreaking educational work taking place here are all featured in a CNN.com article about the importance of making things in the development of a person's intelligence and attention to detail.

"Jane Werner, executive director of the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, built out a 3,000-square-foot makerspace, what it calls MakeSHOP, and is creating an additional 5,000-square-foot MakeSHOP for kids age 10 and up."

"'Museums can be labs for education reform,' Werner says. 'No one can fail at a museum. Why not experiment with education reform at a museum?'"

To read more about the Maker Movement, click here.

The best of Pittsburgh according to the NY Post

You might not agree with the lineup but it's hard to argue the love given to the Strip District in this Best of Pittsburgh feature.

Read the article here.

Found in Translation: Pittsburgh language tech companies rocking the region

Pop City innovation editor Deb Smit reports on language technology companies in Pittsburgh—13 of them including one snapped up this year by Facebook—that are attracting international attention and changing the way we learn and communicate.

Read the story in Pittsburgh Magazine.
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