The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

Russia, China, night buses, and the Google OS

Thursday 9 July 2009 at 11:30 pm
  • Ever wonder what American lawmakers do all day? Pointless dedications, apparently.
  • Meanwhile, President Obama has been off doing promising work to get new commitments towards nuclear weapons reduction. But I wonder: even with a superstar leader in Washington, is the Russian government really that keen on cooperating?
  • Hearing about the Rio exec detained in China worries me; Australia’s relationship with China is crucially important, and being that they’re a communist dictatorship it’s easier to anger them than your average liberal democracy. So while the scandal will inevitably pass, I hope no real economic damage is done. (Also, I’m chuffed that yesterday’s ABC article quoted my honours supervisor!)
  • In announcing yet more service cuts (sigh), the WA transport minister is quoted as saying taxis are preferred over NightRider; admittedly I never saw a full one of those buses, but seriously? You don’t think that could possibly be because the routes weren’t ideal or there wasn’t enough promotion? Heck, even the Bay Area (and most big US cities) run 24-hour buses on major routes that are slow-but-decent (despite the times I’ve seen shift workers outnumbered by creepy homeless people).
  • And finally, Fake Steve Jobs at his finest, explaining why Google’s Chrome OS announcement is barely worth caring about despite all the blog hype: “As Sarah Palin would say, the engineers at Google are ambitionistic about wanting to progress the world, and gosh, ya know what? That’s darn good for everyone.”
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Barnett’s government shows their brains, or lack thereof

Tuesday 9 June 2009 at 9:48 pm
  • The Western Australian government are apparently a bunch of small-minded stupid folk who wouldn’t be able to devise any kind of vision if their lives depended on it. Or at least, that’s what I conclude from the most recent Perth foreshore proposal. (Even Richard Court aimed higher: Claisebrook Cove ain’t perfect, but it’s still fun.) Kudos to Antzpantz.
  • And again: now that they’re taking delivery of new trains ordered a few years ago — a good thing! — why on earth are they dropping midday service on the Mandurah and Joondalup lines? Those every-7-minutes trains are busy, dang it. (Except for the occasional quiet carriage, but hey, no worse than BART at midday here.) Then again, I guess this government still can’t get over sniping about how the Mandurah Line that was built is better than what the previous Liberal government proposed.
  • Two lighter concluding notes! First, here’s a nice summary of why you should question anyone who parrots the phrase “eight glasses of water per day”.
  • And second, yes, California’s government is still screwed

You’re building a railway … where?

Monday 1 September 2008 at 12:52 am

So the Premier used his official campaign launch the other day to promise more upgrades for Transperth, and thus I shall launch into a public transport rant!

The media release makes tantalising promises of 10 new trains, more late-night services, and improved bus frequencies (yay!). But there are bigger announcements: apparently he’ll spend $850m (ouch!) on a railway from Midland to Ellenbrook, something that’s been on the cards for years now. And even better, he intends to fix the biggest remaining hole in Perth’s rail system, due north of the city towards Ballajura.

Except instead of actually fixing it, he’s offering up a bus lane, albeit one using new “auto-tram” vehicles out of Germany (incidentally: not a proven technology, although they really are just modified buses).

No offence to Ellenbrook, but it’s got a mere ten thousand people. Compared to the sixty-plus thousand living along Alexander Drive, with thought to how much fun it is to drive that road at peak hour, and assuming the state can only afford one train line … surely the correct place for a railway (or subway or tramway or something) is not out in the sticks?

(That said, two railways is obviously better; they needn’t be that expensive!)


Looking back upon Perth for a moment

Friday 2 May 2008 at 3:03 pm
  • So the owners of Perth Airport have finally announced a plan to upgrade the freakin’ thing. Coming home will be that much less painful … from 2015! In fact, said owners are so reluctant to get this process started that they have little more than a map to show — the press release contains the lovely admission that “concept designs are still being developed”. Going on what they have said, the plan isn’t bad, but neither is it great (regional terminal? yay! such a long walk away? eek!). And it’s still likely to turn out less than adequate — by their own boasting, passenger numbers are consistently growing a good 13% each year.
  • The State Government re-announced this week the Riverside development in East Perth, which is nice, and that Transperth fares will go up, which is less so.
  • And finally, the dear State Liberal Party is talking leadership spill again (over some stupid little indiscretion; does anyone even remember the Ruddster’s strip club incident?). Seriously kids, the election is nine months away. If you’re bickering about this now, your chances of success are zero.

Rudd in China, the GG, and transportey things

Tuesday 15 April 2008 at 6:37 am
  • The Ruddster didn’t do a bad job of communicating to the Chinese government their failings last week. Not that I expect this to achieve anything — he certainly isn’t the first leader to quiz ’em about Tibet — but it’s nice to see him not kowtowing. Although the greatest substance from this meeting seems to have been some muttering about clean coal, which won’t exactly save the world from Chinese pollution.
  • We are soon to have a new Governor-General, and like the bloke who appointed her, she’s from Queensland! (Oh, and she’s female.)
  • In the airline industry, I’m sad to see Oasis Hong Kong shut down — all the British backpackers I met in Hong Kong were raving about how cheap their fares were — and I wonder how many other airlines’ business models are in trouble.
  • Finally, I’m not yet sure that I trust Google’s Transit service, which recently added data from Transperth — apparently it takes twenty minutes to walk the platform bridge at Cockburn Central. And for all its flaws, the Transperth site is at least reliable in its recommendations since it knows about things like station closures. Compare to the Bay Area’s equivalent sites, which suck in general but also do wonderful things like leave me stranded in San Jose for an hour because a light rail station was being rebuilt.
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The less-than-happy anthropomorphised bus ticket

Thursday 10 August 2006 at 3:58 pm

Although I never did get those action shots of SmartRider Man that I’d been hoping for, it seems that I didn’t need to. He’s popping up in the newspapers, on the sides of buses, and even in random online promotions.

SmartRider Man features in the Student SmartRider Scavenge!

But why does he never seem to be smiling? The best he can manage is some kind of weird straight-faced smirk. Is it some sort of blasphemy for an RFID card to be happy about its triumphance over magnetic strips?

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