Captain’s log

June 22nd

XSTS has now a new module that can generate a graph with quick time estimations. Practically, one can very fast assess the amount of time needed to move between any two subway stations on the same line. Unlike mobile apps, this works offline, the old way. Not sure how it looks like ? You need to visit some of the articles published this week. I plan to add a full network estimator somewhere in July.

June, 11th

Remember the nice to have feature of the Frankfurt S-Bahn ? You know exactly how much time you have before the your bus leaves from the next train station. Such a feat requires a special infrastructure, or does it really ? People could get the same type of information in virtually every place of the world,  without much investment from the transit agency.   And what is more important, the concept can be applied not only to the train, but to deep underground stations, with many levels of platforms. So, you know if you have enough time to catch that bus in, let’s say 3 minutes, or if you have to wait another 20 for the next one.

There were some link errors in the vantage points series. Now, everything is right.

As a small recap, this is the publishing calendar for the next 4 Friday articles, at 6:00 am GMT:

  • on June 14th – Château de Vincennes
  • on June 21st – Bérault
  • on June 28th – Saint-Mandé
  • on July 5th – Porte de Vincennes

That’s all so far.

June, 8th

I have started a new series about the public transit network of Paris. I will try a different approach. The network is large and it will take more than a couple of articles to put it on the site. The first image is a sketch of the now classical Guimard entries

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June, 3rd

I’ve split the log page into several pieces. For the moment, there is one page for every year. It stays more manageable.

prev-articlefirst-articlenext-articleThe navigation menu  (Prev,First, Next) seems like a good solution. There are many articles and it one needs to scroll a lot in order to find the next article in a given series. That’s no longer an issue. In time, I’ll add such menus to all the pages that are part of the same series.

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May

It’s Mayflower day. Not the ship, but the little white flower. An old tradition going back in time. Anyway, what better way to start the month than have a fresh new article about the tramway. After all, it ends with an -ay. The longest series  on the site (so far) is about vantage points. Security is an important part of public transportation. Modern tramways have newer and better ways to ensure everything goes right.

Open Office is no longer actively supported by its community. I have switched since to Libre Office, a similar text, spreadsheet and graphics suite. The UI is less intuitive. The lack in usability is compensated by its usefulness. More options mean just that: new ways to do things. You will notice these features in the new images I generate.

Speaking of images, I have started to add shots of electric scooters. The number of two wheelers parked in illegal places is ridiculous. Roughly, half of the Limes are almost abandoned and forsaken either next to trash, or in the middle of the curb / sidewalk. This goes the same for the so called competition. Fortunately, the mayors of many cities around the world are becoming more and more aware. A new category of fines appeared. Either the users of the scooters or the companies owning them will be fined, depending on when and where.

For the moment I use my favorite tool  (OpenCV) to blur the images. No pointing fingers yet, but not for long.

A new country  and a new city was added to the list of public transit networks: Portugal / Porto. I split the article in several parts. The first two will deal with the bus network. Newt comes the light rail. I hope to finish the Porto series before the end of the month.

As of today, I have more than 130 drafted articles. It may seem little for some of you. I assure you it is not. Writing original content is harder than just doing copy-paste. The images take time to be drown. Filtering information, double checking it, is also time-consuming. Speaking of drafts, they have accumulated over two years and are waiting patiently to be updated and published. Just to give an example, the article about the Toronto public transit has been written at the same time as that about Montreal. A long time, indeed. Now it needs to be updated, but it is worth its while. Speaking of which, I kinda like the two stage publication. First the appetizer, then the rest of the article. This is a commitment. Once the article is published, I have to finish it within the week. It is easier to start an article with an idea and give 1,2,3 or even 5 days for the rest of it.

Now it is mid-May and I have scheduled to publish 6 more articles. My goal is to write 20 articles this month and so far I am right on track.

The month has been full of events. The VivaTech event is taking place in Paris.  I can’t wait to talk with professionals from the public transit sector.

After a long wait, Toronto joins the Spline. It is in a way the counterpart of Montreal: a multi million inhabitants town just a few dozen miles away from Niagara Falls.

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Now that Viva Tech is over, I am writing a series of articles about the tech show. Nothing too fancy, just a couple of lines about self-driving and electrical vehicles. Like what this blog has been about for the last two years.sketch-bolt-mobility

I will complement the series of articles about Porto transit with a couple of entries about the light rail. This month has been a good one in terms of consistency.

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There has been a new article almost every day. I believe that this month I passed the mark of 300 published articles. The blog is growing, slowly, steadily.

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April

I have little time for myself, thus the lack of articles for the month of April (so far). This is not an issue. This Easter, the local transit agency is launching new bus lines. This is fantastic. Great news.

I’m eager to see the effects of the new law that fines the scooter users that consider the curb as their playground. The city is shared by all and such behavior is childish and dangerous for the others.

This month has been full of events and I didn’t find enough time for me to write new articles. Rest assured, I’ve already scheduled half a dozen articles for the first week of May. Time flies and I would like to be able to say in June: this is Sparta. You’ll see why later.

One last thing. I have started to use a generic image for the articles

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It is just a marker that indicates that an article has been published recently. Of course, the title thumbnail will change for something more appropriate, after some time. Like I’ve said some months ago, I am experimenting with the site, trying new ways to make it better. Of course, it doesn’t guarantee success, but you know what ? This is what nature does on a much larger scale. I like to believe that nature is right.

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March

The weather is still harsh in Europe. Strong winds up to 80 mph are becoming  more and more common. I started to publish more articles than usual. The scheduler / publisher is a great tool.  There are tons of topics. The two step publishing is keeping me fit (first publish a paragraph, as soon as I have the idea, then think about it  and complete the text. The pictures come last. Yes, creating images takes time, but thanks to Open Office Draw, I am becoming quite proficient at this.

You might have noticed that I publish several articles with just one paragraph. Don’t worry, it is the beginning.  I will add more text and images to those articles. It is better to capture all the ideas in writing then to have one long article published without further modifications. Some of the short articles may stay like that for several days, up to a week. I catch up with them as soon as I have a brief moment available to me. Yes, time is that scarce resource, but you know the saying: blogger one day, blogger everyday.

Remember, all the articles are published at 5a.m. Greenwitch time.

Last week, I haven’t had much time for the artilcles. There are many topics that only start on this blog. I feel sky is the limit. In reality, time is the limit.  Be patient, I will update the last articles with images and texts. There will be more information about the scooters.

Still chasing images from other sites that I used in my early articles from 2017-2018. Like stated before, I prefer to have images drawn by myself, rather than pointing to some pictures on other sites.  The stylized images made with Open Office are closer to the spirit of The Spline: forever free.

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Mid-February

For those of you that wonder where do I find the ideas for my articles, I can only say:  take a moment to stop from what you are doing, take a deep breath, look around and tell me what you see. You would be amazed how many small details could be the topic of an article.

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February 2019

I realize that I make systematically a couple of typos on each article. If that is the case, don’t worry. As soon as I re-read the blog entry, I will correct the error when I see it. At the moment I won’t use any proof reader, so the word might go unnoticed. But, better late than never, as the saying goes.

I have started a new series about bus tickets around the world. Each time I find a ticket from my past voyages, I will post an article about it. I wish I find those beautiful tickets from Naples, where stamping was done by cutting off one of the four corners of the ticket. Great idea at that time (just before 2000).

One word about posting. As you have already noticed, most of the posts are published at exactly 0500 UTC. Thanks to wordpress, it is possible to schedule an article to become public at a specific date and time. For the last several months, the articles have been published this way, with a very few exceptions. In many cases, an article written today would get published the next day at 5am. This has some advantages, like reviewing the article for spell errors. I don’t use grammarly or any proofreading software. Some errors may go unnoticed. Don’t worry, even for an article published one year ago, the moment I see the misspelled word I make the change.

Since September 2nd, 2018, the Wessex Bus company has no service in the Bristol region. I’ve put a notice at the beginning of this article. Arghh!, the risk of internet websites. If a site breaks links, there is no way to be notified.  Maybe there should be an API that informs 3rd parties that the links become broken. Mr. Berners-Lee, what do you think about this ?

As you have already seen, I am interested in debating over the new trend of installing platform doors in the subway and in the application of this new technology to traditional railway stations. I have confidence that by eliminating the possibility of errors one can increase the reliability of a system. That is what platform doors are.

By the way, one week ago I visited what is considered to be the #1 animation & graphics school in the world.  I was very disappointed to find out that it could be easily be called The Adobe School of Graphics. I was expecting to find drawing tools invented by them. Far from that.

Time and again I tested Photoshop and there is one thing I can say: it is hard to use, not intuitive and of course overpriced. The problem is that the alternatives are as not better at all. So I’ll stick a bit longer with Open Office, until I will built my own tools. As Alan Kay said:

People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.

I believe one can replace the word hardware with tools. I will always remember when the lady at the desk asked me:

“Which software program did you use ?”

and I answered:

“I’ve built my own”

Yes, the best tools are the ones you need, not the ones that exist. Sorry to say that, but the world really lost a lot when Steve Jobs stepped down for the second time. He should have stayed CEO till the end. How I miss the skeumorphics!

As for now, it will take a bit longer, but I will build that graphic tool easy to use, even by a 90 old person.

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January 2019

Wow! The year has changed the suffix and eight becomes nine.  December has been a rollercoaster with more than 30 articles posted. I can tell that it is not that easy to write one entry every day. The whole idea behind writing on a regular basis is to get consistent. Still, everyday is a long shot. I will keep posting articles via the scheduler.

Later this month I will write more about Mr. Gulliver and the public transit system of Utopia. It is a great way to estimate what can become public transportation by 2050, based on the availability of what is called today the Internet of Things.

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Still planning for the articles about Utopia. The failure of the breakes on li.me scooters in Switzerland will get an article of their own. Winter is coming. In fact, winter is already in place. Climate change or not, the weather is harsh.

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Only 2019 entries in this log

Don’t worry, I am in the process of splitting the captain’s log in several pages, in order to make it easier to read. The original log was too long and required lots of scrolling, especially on a mobile device. The logs for the previous years will appear soon as individual pages under the Captain’s log menu.

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