Tuesday 23 December 2008

Braindead design

So they seem to be pretty much finished with the renovation at St Albans station now and I am finding it hard to think of ways they could have done it worse.

The new departure boards are about half the size, don't seem to display all the trains and no longer show the current time. They are small enough that I find it hard to read them from the far side of the ticket barriers and I have pretty good long distance vision. They are also located such that you can't see them from the ticket queue or from the new barriers so you had better know where your train leaves from before you get your ticket.

The lifts look ok so I guess they didn't get it all wrong.

While I'm on the subject of annoyances at the station... Why are there never any free cashpoints near rail stations? Do the bastards running the £1.85 per withdrawal rip-off machines have some sort of exclusion zone arrangement?

I also had a bad experience with a piece of shit windows based ticket machine this morning. Selected the ticket (have to give kudos - I like the interface on the A-Z station finder. I rarely have to type more than 3 letters). Paid witha £20, took it first time. Gave me my ticket and £1.30 change... Then sat there at a please wait screen for around 2 minutes before giving me the last £1. I've lost count of the times I've seen embedded windows systems crash or randomly pause in the middle of a transaction; yet still they build more because M$ have the corporate mindshare.

Thursday 18 December 2008

Taking a chance

Arrived at the station this morning to find the notice "6:43 Moorgate - Cancelled" up on the board. Was just about to pull out the G1 to write up a rant when up pulls a train... Interesting... The guy comes out of the office to signal the driver so I ask "Is this the 6:43?" "Yes" "The board says cancelled" "???". He disappears back into the office to find out what's wrong. In the meantime they are closing the doors so I hopped on without being sure where this thing is going... Fingers crossed...

Back the original planned rant. Under the line saying the train is cancelled there is a scrolling list headed by "Calling at:". Surely if the train is cancelled that should be "Not Calling at:" or even better, give a reason for the cancellation...

Looking good so far. West Hampstead should be next if this is really is the 6:43.

Monday 15 December 2008

Fucked Capital Connect

Nightmare journey already and I've only just left St Albans station.

Got to the station with around 10 mins spare which should have been plenty of time to buy my ticket. First hurdle: No cash in the first machine. Next machine is out of order. Go inside to find that the temporary machines they've had during the ticket office remodelling have gone. Try the ticket machine just in case they have started to accept Electron... Of course they haven't.

Back to the bike and off to the nearest cashpoint. In St Albans city. About a mile away. Up a big fucking hill.

Get back about 15 mins later just in time to see the 7:04 leave. Great, I'm into the big gap in the timetable where none of the trains stop at West Hampstead.

But wait, there's more. When I first entered the ticket office at 6:45 it was virtually empty. At 7:05 it is packed, with queues for every machine as well as for the main windows (and of course only two of the five windows are open)

While in the queue I notice that there is no longer a deparures board in the ticket hall and the guy I buy my ticket from can't tell me which platform the next train to West Hampstead leaves from. End up having to cross to platform 3 to check the board there befor coming back to platform one.

Am finally on the move but running way behind schedule.

Wednesday 10 December 2008

Why do I have Ads on my Blog?

Its not to make money. I don't get anywhere near the number of hits required for that.

There are a couple of reasons. Firstly content sesitive ads sometimes get it right. If one of link boxes presents a product someone reading the blog is interested in then its win-win as far as I'm concerned.

They are easy to ignore. There is a lot of research to back this up.

They are easy to block. Adblock Plus. Nufff said.

It is interesting to see what the adsense engine thinks people that would read my blog would be interesting. Currently on the meanderings front page the ads are mostly about anger management and racism. Neither of which I have ever posted about...

Tuesday 9 December 2008

Hello world!

Welcome to Wordpress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

Monday 8 December 2008

World Gone Mad?

OK, I'll open with a brief disclaimer: I in no way condone the distribution child pornography or the exploitation of minors. OK, now that's over on to the post

I am with Neil Gaiman in believing that the Australian legal service has made a catastrophic blunder and created a ludicrous precendent by convicting a man of child pornography offensive for possessing naked images of Simpsons characters.

But Justice Adams agreed with the magistrate, finding that while The Simpsons characters had hands with four fingers and their faces were "markedly and deliberately different to those of any possible human being", the mere fact that they were not realistic representations of human beings did not mean that they could not be considered people.

The characters from the Simpsons need to be considered as people under the Law?

To take an idea from the post by Neil Gaiman above: are we going to need to consider Grandpa Simpson's pension rights as well?

Even in the case of more realistic depictions I would argue that as long as no real child is harmed no crime has been committed. The argument that availability of such images could potentially cause future child abuse seems to be a step too far. If we are going to convict people for things they might do in the future with no evidence that they were planning anything of the sort should then we are on a very slippery slope. Where are the lines drawn?

In the US, the CBLDF do a great job of protecting free speech; however AFAIK no such organisation exists in Australia.

It is not uncommon for laws to stray beyond their original bounds. There have been numerous cases of peoples civil liberties being infringed on when laws introduced with the intention of preventing terrorism have been applied when no terrorism is involved. Child pornography seems similar in this regard. Like Terrorism, no right minded person can possibly try to defend it; however we need to overcome our personal distaste or we will be setting dangerous precedence that can come back to bite us in future.