Consumerism, Culture, Geek, Toxic Custard newsletter

Oz Comic-Con 2015 – and marriage equality

Science fiction and fantasy conventions used to be a homespun affair, run by the local clubs, featuring broadcasts of rare episodes and out-takes (before it all got released on DVD) and fan films. If there were guest artists, often they would appear only if they happened to be in the country at the time, and fees for photos and autographs were unheard of. These days it's big business. Not that

Toxic Custard newsletter, transport

V/Line: a ride on RRL, and 24-hour time… mostly

I finally took a ride on the Regional Rail Link last night. In summary: Trains from the city to Geelong depart regularly, but from numerous platforms -- when I was there in peak, it was 5A, then 7A, 15A, 1, 3A... and when I'd been there at lunchtime, 2B had also been in the mix. It wouldn't hurt to have some consistency. As it is, if you just miss a train, you're likely to have to backtrack a l


It’s tax time! Have you considered donating to the PT Not Traffic campaign?

It's tax time, and if you're anything like me, every charity you've ever thrown money at has been writing to you to see if you'll give them some more. In the spirit of this, I'd like to put in a quick plug for donating to the Public Transport Not Traffic campaign -- this is the PTUA's campaign arm, and donations to it are tax-deductible. PTNT uses this money to help pay for a part-time c

Consumerism, Geek, Toxic Custard newsletter

Online services: they know all about you

I love using Google's services, but I think everybody knows they (and Facebook and Twitter and many other big internet companies) make most of their money via advertising, and that's based on what they know about YOU. Like they say, the service is not the product -- you are. How much do they know about you? Quite a bit. As F-Secure's Mikko Hypponen remarked at a recent conference: "Go to

Toxic Custard newsletter, transport

RRL – good news its open (thanks to the GFC?)

I've been watching The Killing Season, the story of Labor and the switches in power between Rudd and Gillard. It's really good, and episode one goes into some detail about the Global Financial Crisis, and the Rudd/Swan stimulus packages (two of them, totalling almost $60 billion) to fight it off. The stimulus package was intended to spend money fast -- the school halls and home insulation progr

Photos from ten years ago, transport

Photos from June 2005

Another in my series of photos from ten years ago... This month almost everything (bar some family snaps) was transport-related. Not that there's anything wrong with that. The south end of Elizabeth Street. Hasn't changed much apart from, as with the rest of the city, being busier with pedestrians, and that particular tram stop has gone. And the trams are no longer in the livery some dubbed

Toxic Custard newsletter, transport

Tram stop barriers – are they good design?

Yesterday's collision between a police vehicle and a tram stop barrier has raised the issues of whether those barriers are a good design. Source: ABC News Thankfully the two policemen will recover. The barriers are intended to stop pedestrians crossing the tracks at tram platform stops. It's hardly surprising that people do this, given many of the stops are so long as to fill entire cit

Toxic Custard newsletter, transport

Digital maps: sometimes I want to see railways, not roads

At a conceptual level, I navigate this city by rail more than by road. For instance, if I'm trying to focus on rain around home, the proximity to railways is far more useful to me than the proximity to major roads. So to make the Bureau of Meteorology's rain radar map more useful to me, I switch off roads, and switch on railways instead. If only more digital maps were customisable like t


Farewell MX

Freebie afternoon commuter newspaper MX finishes its run today after 14 years of publishing in Melbourne (and shorter runs in Brisbane and Sydney). Melbourne Express was its awkward morning competitor for a short time in 2001 -- it was never going to last because morning distribution is so difficult. That brand name lives on in The Age's morning updates. Some may mock MX for being overly fil

Toxic Custard newsletter, transport

A quick look through PTV’s 2015 network revenue protection plan

I noticed there's a 2015 version of PTV's network revenue protection plan on their web site. It's a lot less detailed than the one The Age FOI'd in 2010... perhaps because it was intended to be made public. Some points of interest, with my notes in italics: Pages 5-6 talk about the background -- total loss of $51.6 million in revenue in 2014. "Metro Trains and Yarra Trams hold revenue