I was amused when I posted last week about using credit card points to perhaps buy an iPad Mini, the Apple-haters jumped in. (Well, one did.)
The post wasn’t really about technology; it was about credit card points!
But this post is about tech.
The choice of an iPad over an Android tablet was deliberate. Yeah yeah, I’ve fallen for Apple’s marketing hype.
Nah… After pondering buying an Android tablet, I decided that we should aim for some digital diversity in my house.
Thus, we have Android and Nokia phones, Windows and Mac computers (the latter running OSX, but also Windows via both Boot Camp and Parallels), and Jeremy’s dabbling with Linux via his Raspberry Pi.
I bought the iPad Mini yesterday, so now we also have iOS. We don’t have everything, but we have a pretty good spread.
Why is this useful? Well as an example, I’ve already noticed that the top header of my blog doesn’t display properly on the iPad. The tag line is missing.
First impressions? The usual nice Apple design and build quality. The interface is pretty easy to use, as was the initial setup.
It’s very responsive with operations like scrolling through web pages or lists of tweets — but noticeably one exception: clicking on buttons seems less responsive than the other touch-screen I’m familiar with, my two-year-old HTC Desire S mobile.
Typing isn’t too bad, but once again isn’t as nice as on the phone, with its haptic feedback.
The camera seems quite good, though you look like a dork taking photos with it.
Overall, enjoying it so far — and it’s nice to be able to use apps not available on Android.
Has anybody else had one of these, possibly dodgy, texts?
This is the second one I’ve received now. After the first I replied “Wrong number” and got a “Sorry” back, but the guy is persistent.
Something smells fishy. Note the supposed pick-up date, which is last Thursday, three days before the text was received.
United Energy is a distributor, not a retailer — many people in Melbourne’s south-east are connected via them, even if another company is the one sending them the bills.
Of course, it could just be a wrong number plus poor record-keeping. The number of emails I get for someone, who apparently shares my name but has no idea of their own email address, is amazing.
One look at the planned EW route shows why it would have made yesterday’s #Citylink mess worse, not better
The claims that the East-West link would somehow help the road network cope with yesterday’s horrible Citylink accident are truly mystifying. It really does appear as if the motorway boosters have tried to make use of this high-profile event to promote their cause in the hope that nobody thought too much about what they were saying.
RACV public policy general manager Brian Negus said the crash amplified the need for an east-west tunnel connecting the Eastern Freeway in Clifton Hill and the Western Ring Road.
“You see it all the time if we have a major collision on the West Gate Freeway, the Bolte Bridge, the Tullamarine or the Monash and the whole city grinds to a halt. This crash has really amplified the need for the East West Link and a complete network of freeways. We need an alternative route,” he said.
One look at the map shows why this isn’t the case.
Proposed East-West link map, highlighting shared section with Citylink, where Friday’s accident happened. (Source)
Apart from the fact that “alternative routes” have their own traffic to deal with, in this case the East-West link would have been no help whatsoever. Why? Because the planned East-West route includes the section of Citylink where the crash was.
The presence of the eastern connection in particular would have made it worse, because it would have brought their own traffic into the picture. Traffic coming in from the eastern suburbs and wanting to head south on Citylink (to head towards the Westgate bridge or anywhere else south of Flemington) would have been joining the traffic caught up in the snarl.
Their only alternative motorway route they could have taken would be to head north via the Tullamarine, then the Calder then the Ring Road, then finally onto the Westgate. For a trip from say Flemington to Spotswood, this would blow out from 9km to 34km — hardly a realistic alternative, particularly in the face of that route’s usual traffic plus other displaced vehicles.
As one commenter on the 3AW web site said yesterday: “Thank God we don’t have the East-West Link, otherwise traffic would be backed up on the Eastern as well!!!!!!!”
Even on the best of days, this section of Citylink is congested already at peak times, simply because it is a completely inefficient way of moving people. Add extra traffic — even in the absence of a major disruption — and it would become daily gridlock.
Don’t be surprised if the EW link ever gets built that the road lobby immediately start asking for the next alternative route to link them up — yet another new freeway connection through inner-city Melbourne.
Of course, one should note Negus’s comment was not necessarily about this particular event, but more about wanting a complete network of freeways. Because apparently the best solution to something that doesn’t work is to build more of them.
- Want roadside assistance but don’t want to fund RACV’s lobbying? There are plenty of alternatives – cheaper too
There’s always something happening on the farm, and I suspect it’s the nature of these family-run farms that those that manage it need to be willing to take on a wide variety of tasks.
On Sunday it was burning-off, and for a while, I was on fire-fighting duty. Not to stop the fire, but to make sure it didn’t jump the fire breaks.
As the fire was lit up, we moved along the fire break with a truck with a water pump (an upgrade from what we used last time I helped on a burn-off), putting out spot fires if they spread into the break. There was a slight breeze, which fanned the flames.
Gradually the target area went from dry grass and shrub to black, and the smoke drifted away.
Have you ever had the feeling you were being watched?
I was thinking of using my Commonwealth Bank credit card points to get myself an iPad, or an iPad Mini. After much consultation and trying them out, I thought I’d go for the Mini, which I have about enough points for.
There’s a catch — ordering stuff from points can take quite a while for delivery.
And, as I discovered, it can be cheaper to use the points to get money back or gift cards.
For an iPad Mini, 16 Gb, Wifi only:
- Target: $359. You could get $350 in Target gift cards using 59,300 points (169 points per cent), thus spending only $9 in cash and still having 27,200 points left. Or you could get $500 in gift cards for 82,000 points (164 points per cent), having $141 left.
- Myer: $369. $350 in Myer gift cards would use up 61,200 points (174 points per dollar). Add $19 cash and as above, plenty of points left over.
- JB Hifi: $356. Using the points cash back, this would use up 71,200 points (200 points per dollar)… but has the advantage that if you can afford to temporarily be without the money, you can get the knick-knack straight away.
- CBA Award Points: 86,500 (based on RRP this is 234 points per dollar; some 43% more than via Target gift cards)
It’s only one example of course, but the lesson here is to not blindly use your points to get stuff — check if it’s better to cash in the points for money or vouchers and then buy your gizmo.
I haven’t actually bought my Mini yet — still decided which purchase route to go down.
The way the state budget has been framed in terms of transport was almost inevitable: the East-West motorway (stage 1) vs the Metro Rail Tunnel, with the motorway winning this round.
While they are quite different projects, serving (mostly) different markets and (attempting to be) solving different problems, I thought it might be interesting to look at them side-by-side them, based on known facts and some slightly shaky estimates, and using some doubtful metrics to compare.
|Project||Metro rail tunnel||East-west motorway tunnel (stage 1)|
|Where||South Kensington to South Yarra||Clifton Hill to Flemington|
|Estimated cost||$5-9 billion||$6-8 billion [cite]|
|Length||9 km [cite]||8 km [cite]|
|Cost per km||$0.56 – 1 billion per km||$0.75 – 1 billion per km|
|Theoretical capacity per hour||30 trains
x 1000 people per train
x 2 directions
= 60,000 [cite]
x 2000 vehicles per hour
x 1.2 people per vehicle
x 2 directions
(or some capacity for freight)
|Approx cost per person capacity per hour||$83,000 – $150,000 per person||$416,000 – $555,000 per person|
|Stations/interchanges||Arden (North Melbourne)
(Unfortunately it appears the tunnel will not include an interchange station at South Yarra.)
Flemington Road citybound
|Main trips/destinations served
(excluding future extensions)
St Kilda Road
Tram connections to inner suburbs
|Between Eastlink/Eastern freeway corridors and:
CBD and University/hospital precinct via Flemington Road
|Construction funding||Zilch so far, only planning money
|$0.293 billion from the state government
(about 4% of total cost, though it’s suspected some of this is planning money)
As I said, they are different projects serving different markets, and probably shouldn’t be directly compared like this. But there are some points to be made by doing so.
For both, reaching the theoretical capacity depends on removing other bottlenecks, and making sure feeder routes (whether PT or road) are completely optimised. But if you can do it, even the huge cost of underground rail is still many many times cheaper for the capacity brought than underground roads.
The government is talking of the road in terms of “city-shaping”. The problem is it’s city-shaping towards more car dependence, with all its problems and inefficiencies. As some have pointed out, the Eastern Freeway already gets clogged in the Box Hill area — inducing more traffic (motorists heading west from Clifton Hill) is not going to help this; nor is it going to help motorists heading south down Hoddle Street towards the inner-city.
If they were serious about ensuring the efficient movement of the city’s growing population, they’d be investing heavily in the most efficient mode, and helping more people get around more often leaving the car at home (or even ditching one of the cars in their household).
That would be city-shaping, in a good way.
- Marcus Wong recently wrote up an excellent summary of what’s known about the Metro rail tunnel
9am: updated with higher $9b rail tunnel cost estimate.