Categories
Health

Cluster headaches are back

The term blog is a shortening of web log… well, this blog post is a log for primarily my own purposes, though it may be of interest to others.

Seems the cluster headaches are back this morning.

They often return at the change of season, but I haven’t had them since about two years ago.

(That blog post went into some detail about them — and this point is particularly worth noting: no conventional painkillers are effective against them. Not paracetomol, not aspirin, not Nurofen. Nothing works. It is not the same as migraine.)

So, this time around, so far:

5:40am, for about fifteen minutes. Started to fade when I went outside for some fresh air. Thankfully at this time of year it’s light, not too cold outside.

7:30am, about the same length of time. Again went outside, which seemed to help.

9:10am, I thought another was coming on, but it only gave the warning signs (pain in starting in the nose and moving to the left hand side of my forehead), without the main event, the searing pain through the left side of my head, of the earlier ones.

This time around they seem to go for about 10-15 minutes — in the past it appears mine have gone for longer. It’s always a little hard to tell what is helping, or if it’s simply disappearing by itself. That said, oxygen is recognised by many as providing relief.

I’ve found in the past that consumption of caffeine and sugar (that is, a Coke) can also help. My GP long-ago prescribed medicine, and I’ve never really determined if it helps or not, but on the off-chance it does, I’ll be getting some more.

While I’m not afflicted by them as badly as other sufferers, the pain is intense, and When it fades, there’s a feeling of immense relief.

I’m hoping they don’t hang around for long.

(Past posts)

Update Sunday 1/12/2013 — Thankfully, no further recurrences… quite unlike previous episodes, but hopefully it was just the two yesterday and that’ll be it for now.

Update Tuesday 3/12/2013 — …however, I have had another, more conventional headache, since Sunday night. Not clear if it’s related. It’s not as strong, but it’s almost constant.

Update Saturday 7/12/2013 — One again this morning, 7:15-7:30. Helped by fresh air outside. Could it be that after a few days of winter-like weather, the turning back to spring/summer today helped spark this one?

Categories
transport

Train now in the top 3 methods of travel to work — ABS

I spotted this a while back, but forgot to blog it. It was published by the ABS in October 2012, but it’s still worth noting:

“While the household car is still the preferred method of travel to work for most Australians, the train has overtaken walking as one of the most preferred modes of transport,” Mr Henderson said.

“The proportion of people opting to take the train has increased from 3.4 per cent in 2006 to 3.9 per cent in 2011, putting the train in the top three methods of travel to work.”

New data from the 2011 Census released today: Method of travel to work, 30/10/2012

Crowded train

Trains being in the top three is pretty amazing given that while walking and driving are more-or-less universally available in every area in Australia (the latter subject to income and ability), travel to work by train is confined to a much smaller proportion of the population.

Of course, driving still dominates because most people have no viable choice — as I’ve said before, if we want more people to choose efficient modes, they have to be given the choice… which, remember, is the sort of investment that what most people want.

Australia-wide figures:

Car (driver) 60.2%
Car (passenger) 5.3%
Train 3.9%
Walk 3.7%
Bus 3%
Truck 1%
Bicycle 1%

Categories
Consumerism

The new Melbourne GPO – not as appealing as the old one, but perhaps more useful

The Melbourne General Post Office was built in the 1860s, and served as GPO until 2001. Nowadays it’s a shopping centre.

Untitled

Australia Post moved its retail operations a little north, to the other side of Little Bourke Street, with a big (but no doubt cheaper to run) Post Shop.

Now that too has closed, in favour of a new one a little further north again, on the corner of Lonsdale Street. I assume it’s still under construction — at least, it looks that way.

Australia Post Shop, Elizabeth Street

Inside the most interesting thing of note is the self-service checkouts and vending machines.

There are still humans serving, in what appears to be a similar fashion to other post offices. But PostPaks, stamps and other products can be bought via the machines.

This, at last, means you can buy postal products without having to queue behind dozens of people wanting to buy gifts and pay bills (something I only ever do online these days).

And a bonus: the frontmost section is open 24/7. It’s got parcel pickup lockers, and snack-style vending machines. If you’re ever in the vicinity and in urgent need of a 10-pack of stamps late at night, you’re in luck.

Australia Post vending machine

Categories
Doctor Who

Day of the Doctor

Well, here we are. Some more thoughts on the Doctor Who anniversary… Warning — below are spoilers for those who have not seen the special episode yet

November 23rd

Anniversary day finally arrived.

November 23rd

The Doctor Who 50th anniversary special episode “Day Of The Doctor” aired in the UK at 7:50pm GMT Saturday night which is 6:50am AEDT on Sunday morning. Thankfully the technology for the simulcast is a little more sophisticated than streaming video — otherwise we might have seen this!

Doctor Who special simulcast - streaming? Let's hope not!

It made me wonder… the ABC self-regulates its programme ratings, and rated the episode as PG, which is a safe bet.

But with the same episode showing at numerous Australian cinemas today, and them advertising it also as PG, does this mean it had already seen by people at the Classification Board?

The answer seems to be yes — there is a listing on their web site showing it was rated PG for mild impact themes and violence on 7th November… which I suppose means copies have gone to all the broadcasters as well.

Repeats

Full points to ABC2. The geniuses in their programming department managed to get their weekday Doctor Who repeats to conclude on Friday with the episode before the special. Well done!

The Popup Shop

BBC Worldwide (their marketing arm) are running Popup Shops around the country too. We went along to the Richmond one the other week (it may have finished up already), and it was very busy.

Doctor Who Popup Shop

The episode — Spoilers!

And the special episode itself? Well I got up to watch it, and will watch it again tonight.

Fantastic. A great balance between nostalgia/tribute and a fresh story that wouldn’t put off the Newvians (as Isaac has called new Whovians).

Nostalgia is a powerful force. The episode managed to tug at the collective memories of decades of episodes via millions of viewers.

At the start it referenced the very first episode (which I’m too young to have seen on original transmission, but first saw in the mid-80s on a very fuzzy copy of a copy of a VHS tape), but there were also many more recent memories — including some from the 70s and 80s — I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who found myself delighted but also a little emotional while watching.

The Zygons — happily little changed since their 70s appearance.

The Curator — what a surprise.

From the mini-episode Night Of The Doctor we now know 8th Doctor Paul McGann regenerates into John Hurt. It’s implied in this episode that he becomes Christopher Eccleston. But what happens to the numbering now? Is Matt Smith actually 12 instead of 11? If so, is Peter Capaldi (glimpsed briefly today) set to be the 13? If so, what happened to The Valeyard, who was supposedly going to be between the 12th and 13th?

Or did McGann to Hurt institute a reboot, given he was actually brought back to life by the Sisters of Karn? That would make Hurt the 1st, and so on. It seems not, if the credits were anything to judge.

The 13th is meant to be the last Doctor. Not that it really matters — if the makers of the programme want to bend Timelord lore and go beyond the 13th, they’ll find a way — it’s science fiction, after all. (They did it years ago with The Master.)

A loose end was tied up — in The Shakespeare Code, we saw the Tennant Doctor being chased by Queen Elizabeth the First. Now it seems we know why.

Though we never saw what happened to the negotiations between the two Kate Lethbridge-Stewarts. And why is Clara now a school teacher? (Or did we already know that?)

This episode turns around the result of the Time War. But would the Daleks really have destroyed themselves when Gallifrey disappeared? Seems a tad unlikely, though maybe that’s why the Eccleston Doctor is so surprised any of them survived.

Maybe some of these things will be explained later. But I for one thoroughly enjoyed this episode.

And like all good stories, it ended with a cup of tea.

Here’s to the next fifty years!

PS: Ratings

Doctor Who “Day Of The Doctor” Australian ratings: 424,000 at 6:50am (!) and 922,000 at 7:30pm plus it was apparently ranked number 2 for Sunday cinema box office takings ($1.5 million). (Source)

In Britain it was second-highest programme of the night, watched by 10.6 million. (Source)

PS: The Google Doodle

Surely everyone’s seen this, but just in case not, here’s a link to its permanent home: the Doctor Who Google Doodle, including a multi-level game inside it. Over a few tries, I eventually managed to complete it in 3 minutes 28 seconds.

Categories
transport

FOI shows early planning under way for all-night weekend trains in Melbourne

News from London is that they are planning 24-hour Tube services on five lines from 2015 at weekends.

It’s tied to a grand plan which will also see staff taken out of ticket offices (in favour of helping customers more directly, for instance with ticket machines), more Wifi on stations, and contactless bank card (eg Paypass) payments.

All interesting, but let’s focus on the all-night trains.

Frankston line, 11:50pm Friday night

Running all-night services on weekends only is an interesting balance between meeting big city passenger demand, helping late-night economic growth, and still allowing time for maintenance — which can still happen on weeknights.

Could we do it in Melbourne? Would we do it in Melbourne? Nightrider buses might well be adequate for demand on weeknights (but don’t even run at present), but on weekends (Friday and Saturday nights) are frequently swamped with users. Particularly on the busiest lines, and particularly over summer, trains would cope better with the loads.

Here’s the interesting thing: early planning for all-night weekend trains appears to be already be under way.

For such a thing to happen, there’s any number of factors that would need to be carefully planned — maintenance regimes, rosters for drivers, signalling and support staff, stations, PSOs…

One obvious step is ensuring that any future development on the rail network doesn’t get in the way of it.

The planning for Southland station includes such a clause. In a document obtained via FOI by The Age, the requirements clearly state that the infrastructure should allow for a future timetable with trains running 4:30am to 1am on weekdays, and “Friday 0530 through to Monday 0200” — in other words, continuous services from Friday morning through to late Sunday night.

Southland station FOI: Early planning for 24-hour trains at weekends

It doesn’t mean 24-hour weekend trains will be starting any time soon, nor that they would necessarily run on every line — a more likely initial outcome is the busiest lines only, where Nightriders don’t cope.

But it does appear that the early planning for it is happening now within PTV — ensuring that no new initiatives get in the way of doing it in the future. Great to see it’s on their radar.

Want to see it happen? Then get busy making your voice heard in the media and with your local MP.

Categories
Geek transport

Some phones can read #Myki cards. Could you one day check your expiry/balance on a phone?

For anybody with an NFC (Near Field Contact)-compatible phone (such as my new Google Nexus 5), you can use the this little app — Tag Info Lite to read Myki cards.

Not that it’ll tell you very much — see below. All the actual useful information appears to be encrypted.

Myki card seen on an NFC mobile phone, using NXP TagInfo Android App

Apparently in some parts of the world an unencrypted copy of the card balance/status is also stored, allowing apps that will let you check your balance. For instance Farebot works with cards from Seattle, San Francisco, Singapore, the Netherlands and parts of Japan, and Travel Card Reader looks similar.

Shame Myki doesn’t appear to have this option, not even in PTV’s own apps — though I guess in theory they and/or Keane could do it, given they issue devices to Authorised Officers to do card checks.

With the old Metcards, you could easily see the expiry date(s) as it was printed on the card itself.

This is an opportunity, of course. As more phones include this technology, perhaps a future (hopefully minor) upgrade could allow people to check their card balance or fare expiry in this way.

(Some apps claim to do this with Myki, but what they’re really doing is checking your online account, which is not necessarily up to date — the card is the point of truth.)

Myki card seen on an NFC mobile phone, using NXP TagInfo Android App

Myki card seen on an NFC mobile phone, using NXP TagInfo Android App

Oh, and here’s what I get from a Brisbane Go Card:

Untitled

Categories
Photos from ten years ago

Pics from November 2003

Another of my collections of ten year old photos, this from November 2003.

This rather striking (I thought) image is from near Seymour. I don’t remember the circumstances, but evidently it looked like a storm was coming across the hills. I’m working on a new blog template, to fix some bugs in the current one (yes, including yours Josh) and make it responsive (eg adaptive to different screen sizes such as on mobile phones) and will include this in there somewhere.

Storm coming, near Seymour, November 2003

I assume I snapped this one for Tony & Andrew’s Our Fading Past web site of old signs, only to find that Ren submitted a picture before me.

Melbourne Steamship Company, King Street, November 2003

In the early days of being PTUA head honcho, some of our friends in the media couldn’t quite grasp what my name was.

Darren Bowen

Daniel Bowden

Finally, here’s a snap of Exhibition Street, closed off for the red carpet of the 2003 Australian Film Institute Awards — the local version of the Oscars, but with not quite the same amount of glitz as Hollywood.

AFI awards 2003

Categories
Doctor Who

This tram is bigger on the inside #SaveTheDay

This tram is bigger on the inside:

The 50th anniversary of Doctor Who is fast approaching, and fans are getting into a fervour.

Normally it’s only sports fans who wake up early to watch live TV. Sci-fi fans? Not so much.

All that will change next Sunday morning, when the special anniversary episode Day Of The Doctor will simulcast in Australia and in 70+ other countries around the world. On the east coast it’s 6:50am AEDT, which is pretty civilised (matching the UK time of 7:50pm on Saturday).

It’ll air again on Sunday night at 7:30pm on ABC1 for those who don’t want to get up early, followed by a dramatisation of the creation of the TV series, airing straight after it (trailer). Then it’ll be shown again on ABC2 on Monday, at 7:30pm and 11:20pm.

The special episode will also be shown in 3D at many cinemas next Sunday, including most Hoyts and Village outlets.

There’s been an early teaser/trailer:

…an actual trailer:

…and I can’t embed it in this page, but there’s also a mini-episode which brought a huge surprise for regular viewers of the show.

Will I be getting up early next Sunday to watch? Oh yes!

Categories
transport

Flinders St platform 11 would provide much-needed capacity – alas, they’re building a cafe instead

Regular passengers using Flinders Street Station will have noticed that while the platforms are numbered from 1 to 14, there’s no platform 11.

It’s not a Harry Potter scenario with a hidden platform. There used to be a platform 11, the twin of 10, facing the river, and commonly used by St Kilda and Port Melbourne trains until 1987 when they were converted to tram lines. But its track was removed — I assume when the pedestrian subway was extended to the river to meet the pedestrian bridge to Southgate, which opened in 1992.

Platform 10 at Flinders Street

Today, trains to Newport (Werribee and Williamstown and Altona Loop/Laverton, to be precise) depart from platform 10 on weekdays.

Problem with this is that one platform isn’t enough during peak hours, and the trains depart from either 10, 12, 9 or 8, which are mostly quite some distance apart. Passengers tell stories of rushing from one to the other in chaos. If only there were another platform adjacent platform 10…

So could they re-instate 11? It would require some changes to the river-side subway entrance, part of which is where the track would be, but most of the rest of the old track alignment appears to be intact.

Flinders St Station, river entrance

Remains of platform 11 at Flinders Street

But don’t all trains to Newport come through from the east?

Mostly, but not all, at least not during peak hour — a quick skim through the Working Timetable found the the 17:11 and 17:55 Flinders Street to Werribee services both come from Werribee (each followed by a Laverton service a few minutes later from platform 12 or 8/9), and this might increase when Regional Rail Link starts to allow yet more Newport trains. Any trains terminating from the west could easily run into 11 and reverse.

Even so, some trains from the east heading west would be able to run via 13 through to 11, if an effort was made to put Sandringham trains on 12 (which indeed would have more capacity for them if not used by any Newport trains).

Imagine that, Newport train users — all your peak hour trains from adjacent platforms 10 and 11! That would make life a lot easier for peak-hour passengers.

Alas, it seems someone has decided to build a bar or a cafe or something on the site instead.

Coming soon at Flinders Street platform 11

Other missing platforms

Flinders Street used to have platforms 15 and 16, part of the old Princes Bridge station for Clifton Hill trains, now replaced by Federation Square. But of course that didn’t cause a gap in the numbering.

Box Hill has no platform 1. There’s a placeholder that was used during works, then put aside for future use when the station was moved underground in the 1980s.

Any other stations that are missing platforms?

Edit 15/11/2013: Added pic of the river entrance.

Categories
Geek

New phone: Google Nexus 5, first impressions

Over the years I’ve tried to avoid being sucked into buying the latest and greatest technology just for the sake of it.

But I must admit being keen to check out the new Android 4.4 (Kit Kat) and Google Nexus 5 phone.

What would I need a new phone for? I could put Kit Kat on my old phone!

I've got Kit Kat on my phone

Seriously though, I’d upgraded my old HTC Desire S to Android 4.0, and while it works, it’s noticeably slower. I was thinking I’d downgrade it back to 2.3 (the ROMs for HTC phones, for both 2.3 and 4.0 are available here), but given I’ve had it a couple of years, what about a new phone?

Having seen Tony’s Nexus 4, over the past few weeks I found myself salivating for the about-to-be-released Nexus 5. It was finally officially announced and released on the 1st of November.

I was pondering this when my tax return came back, and would easily cover buying one. The Nexus 5 is cheap for a flagship phone — much cheaper than an iPhone. The 16 Gb model is A$399, the 32 Gb is A$449. You can’t upgrade the storage in it via an SD card, so choose wisely. Obviously a lot of people went for the 32 Gb, as it sold out quickly on the first day.

Fortunately a bloke I know accidentally bought two 32 Gb models in black — my preferred colour — he’d been desperately clicking through trying to make sure he got one before it sold out, and wasn’t sure his order had been accepted, so kept clicking.

On last Wednesday I met him at Southern Cross Station to exchange cash for a box with the phone in it, like an extremely geeky version of a drug deal.

I’m not going to bother doing a comprehensive review of the phone — that’s better handled by the professionals. But here’s a few notes on it, which I’ll keep expanding as I go.

Google Nexus 5 phone

First impressions

It’s a bit bigger than the Desire S. Wonder if it’ll fit in my front jeans pocket, which is where I tend to put my phone if I’m sitting down and have no other pocket.

Lovely bright high-resolution display.

The on/off button is on the right hand side, rather than the top as I’m used to, but I’ll adjust. Oddly it feels just a teensy bit loose. Hopefully that won’t be a problem in the future.

I’m thinking I might get a case, or at least a bumper, for it. It looks sturdy enough, but some protection might be good.

Setup

The old phone had a mini-SIM. The Nexus 5 takes a micro-SIM. I sidled into a Telstra shop to get it sorted out, and they used a cutting tool to chop it down. Low-tech, but effective.

Android to Android is pretty easy, because all the contacts and so on are kept “in the cloud” as part of your Google Account.

Text messages, pictures etc weren’t brought across. I copied all the pictures and voice recordings manually off the old phone for archiving on my PC at home.

Text messages were easily saved off the old phone using the freeware SMS Backup & Restore. It saves all the messages into an XML document, making it human-readable if I don’t want to import them into the new phone… which I don’t, especially.

Once the new phone was running, it was easy to go into the Play Store and re-install wanted apps onto it. So far I haven’t seen anything I had on the old phone that was labelled as incompatible with the new one, though I haven’t re-installed absolutely everything — I’m being a little more discerning.

Likes

Very fast. Good to see.

Display is very nice.

I like the effect when the screen turns off. Looks like an old-style television shutting down.

Camera quality in general looks good, though the old phone was able to adjust the white balance (and focus) to a particular object by touching the screen while lining up the shot. This doesn’t appear to have that feature, making some photos more difficult than in the past.

Micro-USB connection — excellent, compatible with my previous phone, so I have plenty of cables.

As with all Android phones, I love the way you can just copy stuff to and from it — not tied to pushing things through iTunes.

Beefs

Any new phone will take some getting used to. This is good, but it’s not perfect…

The iPad and my old phone both had an easy way to grab a screen capture. Does Kit Kat not have this?
People keep telling me to hold down Power and Volume Down… this doesn’t do anything for me. What am I doing wrong?
— 12/11/2013: Okay, figured it out. Unlike with my old phone, you have to press Power and Volume Down simultaneously, not one then the other.

Despite a front-facing camera, it has no mirror app?

I’ve spent years gradually changing all the phone numbers in my contact list to be +61 4xx xxx xxx (4 for mobile, at least) – so the theory was if I ever wanted to dial one from overseas, it would work. Imagine my surprise when incoming texts and calls don’t match up to the names. Only those that are in there as 04xx xxx xxx match up. Seriously?

Text messages are rolled into an app which also handles Google Hangouts. Neato — I guess they’re taking on iMessage. But why when writing a text message, does it not give me a character count, so I know how much I can write without going over 160 characters and paying extra?

More to come

14/11/2013 — I haven’t yet played with Google Now, but this article goes into a bit of detail about how to use it.