Categories
Retrospectives

Before Facebook and Twitter, we did analogue social networking with paper and pen

Tonight I’m going to a school reunion. Almost unbelievably, it’s 25 years since year 12 in 1988.

To mark this occasion I’ve dug out something even older than that.

Once upon a time, before Facebook and Twitter, we couldn’t write on each others’ Walls or send a Tweet. On occasion in class, we’d pass a piece of paper around instead and write notes on it.

Here is one that survived, from July 1986.

Analogue Facebook wall, from a class in July 1986

As you can see, the chatter amongst myself and my friends at aged 15 was pretty moronic — a mix of tech talk (if you think the Mac/PC/Linux debate is heated, that was nothing on Commodore/Spectrum/Amstrad), Monty Python quotes and personal insults.

I don’t know if any of the other participants in this page of silliness are around and reading my blog… Most are referred to by initials only, so if they wish they can out themselves if they do happen to see this.

Categories
transport

Is there enough promotion of the good stuff in PT?

I was pondering awareness of a couple of things, so decided to try a quick online survey. Over about 24 hours it got just over 100 responses… unfortunately unless I pay SurveyMonkey $19 per month, they’ll only tell me about the first 100. I think I’ll just go with those for now. (Some people didn’t respond to questions, which is why the totals add up to 98.)

Firstly, I asked about Weekend Saver fares:
Survey question on Weekend Saver fares

This seems to show that while most are aware of it, some still aren’t, despite having been available in various forms since April 2005 — over 8 years. At $3.50 for all-day travel in zones 1+2, it’s a bit of a bargain, and while price isn’t everything, where the services are half-decent, it can encourage more people to use PT on weekends.

Secondly, the ten minute services that have been running for about a year:
Survey question on 10-minute weekend train services

I didn’t ask where people are from or where they travel, but it seems few are aware that on the three longest & busiest lines there’s now a pretty damn good weekend service frequency.

What these responses say to me is that PTV are still lacking when it comes to promotion.

Cheap fares, and trains every ten minutes on the three busiest lines? They should be promoting the hell out of this.

As I’ve said before, weekend train services are now better than they’ve ever been, but there’s been hardly any promotion, and what there has been has been so vague as to be pointless.

If we’re going to see frequent services on all lines, every day, demonstrable growth in patronage on these first ones needs to be shown. For that to happen, they have to be promoted properly.

PTV is meant to be promoting public transport. They do so, but in promoting these two key messages, they don’t appear to be kicking goals.

A few other good things that are not well promoted

Touch-on Myki at the station then find trains aren’t running? Touch-off again between 30 secs and 15 mins later; you won’t get charged.

No time (or no facility) to top-up your Myki Money? As long it’s 1 cent or more, you can make one trip and top-up later.

The Huntingdale station to Monash Uni 601 shuttle runs every 4 mins 7am-7pm weekdays (then every 12 mins to 9:30pm)

The North Melbourne station to University/Hospital Precinct 401 shuttle runs every 3-6 minutes 6:45am-7:30pm weekdays.

Categories
Food'n'drink

ID card options if you don’t want/have a driver’s licence

So, following-up yesterday’s post.

A little research on IDs for young adults (in particular to prove they are over 18) who don’t drive led me to two possibilities — assuming one doesn’t want to carry around a passport:

Liquor licencing: recognised forms of identificationKeypass — $55, and supposedly recognised nationwide.

Proof Of Age card — $10, and also apparently recognised throughout Australia.

It seems other states have similar cards to the Proof Of Age card: NSW has the NSW Photo Card. Queensland has the Adult Proof of Age Card, and so on.

One commenter yesterday mentioned the International Student Identity Card — but according to the posters summarising the law, this isn’t necessarily recognised.

Apart from a liquor-licensing point of view, some retailers also want to see ID for certain card transactions, apparently due to their own paranoia.

While my son Isaac is reluctant to learn to drive, I think it’s still an important skill to have even if you don’t want to use it… and as others noted, there are insurance premium implications later down the track.

But for now I think we’ll go for the $10 Proof Of Age option.

Categories
transport

Stay on the train, or join the traffic? Some young adults are rejecting cars.

Isaac just turned 18. (Yeah, I know.)

Anyway, I was talking to him about getting a photo ID that shows his age, so (if he should choose to) he can exercise his rights as an adult.

Many his age would get a Learner’s permit as part of learning to drive. But he has zero interest in doing that — in fact he has firmly said he doesn’t want it. And I’m not about to argue against that. Not me, who likes to avoid driving, and who didn’t get a driver’s licence until the age of 27.

Stay on the train, or join the traffic?

I wonder if not being interested in driving is becoming a Thing?

Looks like it might be in some circles.

Young people are shying away from getting their driver’s licence because they are keeping in touch with their friends online rather than in person, a new (US) study has found.
— Fairfax Drive: Young people choose computers over cars

What, Facebook is killing cars? Surely not — at least, not on its own — though it does seem that my kids go and visit their friends less than I used to when I was a teenager.

The article continues:

The figures tally with some recent Australian findings, which show that public transport use is booming as car use declines.

Twenty years ago, almost four out of five people between the ages of 20 and 24 had their full licence. By 2009, that figure had fallen to 51 per cent.

Social analyst David Chalke says that in Australia the increasing number of young people attending university for long periods of time in major metropolitan areas means that cars are more of a hassle than a convenience.

“With kids staying at university for longer, they’re more likely to want an iPad than a car,” Chalke says.

He says mobile devices mean people can also use their travelling time more effectively on public transport.

Good point, that last one. And Mr Chalke also notes that university life doesn’t mix well with cars — at many campuses, parking is expensive or scarce or both.

This trend ties in with some parts of the USA:

The latest generation of young adults has more alternatives to the car, Sheryl Connelly (Futurologist at Ford) suggests. Cities such as Portland, Oregon, have successfully encouraged far greater bike use, while public transport is far better in some places than 30 years ago.

“The car doesn’t hold the same imagery that it did in the Sixties or Seventies,” she says.

Financial Times

…and it seems to be borne out in other western countries as well:

The findings indicate that since the turn of the millennium, access to cars, measured in terms of drivers’ licences and household car ownership, has decreased in most study countries—especially for men. Moreover, average daily car travel distance has decreased in most study countries, again especially for men. In France, Japan, and most significantly in the USA, the decrease in car travel has led to a reduction in total everyday travel by young travellers. In Great Britain, the decline in car travel was partly, and in Germany fully, compensated by an increased use of alternative modes of transport.

Obviously there are a lot of factors, and it’s only a specific demographic, but I think this makes some sense.

If you live in a walkable neighbourhood, if your friends and the places you go are either local or easily accessible by bike or public transport, then why would you be interested in cars, especially given the costs of running them?

Opting out of using a parent’s car as well? That’s a step further that I find that really interesting.

In many cities, including Melbourne, of course it’s going to be different in different areas. We in Bentleigh do have a walkable suburb, with no roads more than 4 lanes in total (certainly no freeways), mostly straight and easily navigable streets, few cul-de-sacs and while the buses are nothing special, the trains run every 10 minutes every day of the week.

But some suburbs are really pedestrian-hostile, with very wide fast roads to cross, little within walking distance, and appalling public transport. I really doubt the reluctance to join motordom is a Thing in most outer suburbs.

Categories
Geek

New toy: iPad Mini

I was amused when I posted last week about using credit card points to perhaps buy an iPad Mini, the Apple-haters jumped in.

The post wasn’t really about technology; it was about credit card points!

But this post is about tech.

My blog viewed on the iPad

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.

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 force 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.

Categories
Consumerism

Anybody else getting dodgy texts about a United Energy power surge?

Has anybody else had one of these, possibly dodgy, texts?

Possibly dodgy text from an alleged United Energy contractor

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.

When I mentioned it on Twitter last night, Marcus Wong noted that there was a power surge around that day (actually on the 11th if the 3AW article is accurate), on the Mornington Peninsula.

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.

Categories
transport

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.

Herald Sun: Truck crash on CityLink confirms the need for East West Link, say experts

One look at the map shows why this isn’t the case.

Melbourne East-West proposed route map
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.

Categories
Photos from ten years ago

Some more photos from May 2003

Once upon a time, green bags weren’t actually green:
When green bags weren't green (May 2003)

Signage in High Street… not a great job done there with the relative placement of the No Left Turn and Tram Stop signs:
High Street, Prahran (May 2003)

The then-new multi-storey carpark at Elsternwick station:
Elsternwick railway station carpark (May 2003)

Who says you can’t take home bulky goods on public transport, if you have your friends to help? One weekend I observed this:
Taking home a washing machine on the train (May 2003)
Taking home a washing machine on the train (May 2003)

Categories
Photos

A little Sunday afternoon fire-fighting (and lighting) on the farm

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.

The tool for lighting up the fire is the amusingly-branded Fire Bug fire control torch.
The amusingly-named Firebug fire lighter (055)

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.
Burning-off at the farm (024)

In between squirting water as appropriate, I managed to slightly drench myself, but my jeans soon dried.
Burning-off at the farm (025)

Jack had come along for the ride, and had no problems in keeping out of the way of the flames.
Jack - Burning-off at the farm (030)

Gradually the target area went from dry grass and shrub to black, and the smoke drifted away.

Burning-off at the farm (043)

Burning-off at the farm (036)

Once we’d finished, birds moved in to see what good might have been made available by the disruption. (Yum — BBQ!)
Birds circle looking for food after burning-off (058)

Categories
Photos

Watched

Have you ever had the feeling you were being watched?

Sheep on the farm (071)