What's That Noise?! [Ian Kallen's Weblog]

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20070420 Friday April 20, 2007

WiFi on the Train: Blogging From BART

I'm currently about 60 feet under Market Street in downtown San Francisco, inside a BART station. But I'm connected to the wifi_rail network with 5 bars. I haven't fired up any YouTube streams yet but for IM, twitter updates and ...blogging, this is groovy; I'll take it!

I haven't seen any official announcements about BART's wifi system but as a serendipitous user, I hope it's here to stay. In fact, I hope it's extended to cover the track between stations, the transbay tube and the east bay stations as well! Maybe I'm being a little over-appreciative (greedy).


( Apr 20 2007, 07:57:26 PM PDT ) Permalink

20070412 Thursday April 12, 2007

Ain't it great when things just work?

This morning, I was chasing down a bug in some python code, fatal errors like this

UnicodeDecodeError: 'ascii' codec can't decode byte 0xe2 in position 193: ordinal not in range(128)
was getting tickled in some debug logging code (IOW, it wasn't even what the codes core purpose was but a bug in the bebuggerin). I put some proper exception handling in the debug logging and voila: bug gone. It's great when things work!

Working on that over breakfast made me kinda late and I needed to drive into town today 'cause tonight I'm gonna see some friends from the old school. I'm gonna be late! I probably won't be able to pick up any carpoolers.

I rolled into the carpool pick-up near the Orinda BART station, waited a few minutes and promptly got two riders. The radio was warning about an injury accident on the upper deck of the Bay Bridge... darn, I'll be late rolling into The City. Well, I get to The Bridge and alles goot. I made into San Francisco in good time and got to what I needed to do. It's great when things work!


( Apr 12 2007, 11:29:10 AM PDT ) Permalink

20070329 Thursday March 29, 2007

WiFi on BART

I wasn't in the station long enough to use it but my laptop picked up a signal from Wifi_Rail_BART at the Embarcadero BART station. Hmmm... perhaps this is a new service that BART is rolling out. Now if they'd just install access points uplinked to EVDO connections on the trains, that'd be awesome! I'd heard that there were RFP's out last year from Amtrak to provide WiMax to the Capitol Corridor line, that's cool. But there's a much larger population of BART riders who I'd imagine would be as grateful as I would be to read feeds, mail ...and access source control.


( Mar 29 2007, 08:02:22 PM PDT ) Permalink

20060420 Thursday April 20, 2006

Commuter Blues

I suspect I'll be opting to casual carpool more often with BART eliminating free parking at the Contra Costa county stations I frequent. That could raise my already-not-inconsequential commute costs 15%. And how timely. Gas is already exceeding $3/gallon and the chatter on the radio is to expect $4/gallon! In that scenario, I wouldn't be surprised to see carpool drivers putting a cup out for the riders as their fuel prices put them in the squeeze. Meanwhile, the Big Oil Companies are ringing in record profits...

One possible ray of light for the BART ride option is the report of WiMax service coming:

WiMAX is similar to WiFi but can carry signals across greater distances. WiMax is also being considered by Silicon Valley public transportation officials (free registration) who want to let passengers browse the Internet on local train systems like BART. They want to run a test from July to December. WiMAX, they believe, might be a better technology to do hand-offs as the train rushes through various wireless coverage zones. read on
(via burtonator)

Maybe the price hikes will help them pay for a software test harness; BART's bugs have rendered the system unusable in the past.


( Apr 20 2006, 07:19:57 AM PDT ) Permalink

20040526 Wednesday May 26, 2004

This morning's ride: BMW 540i This has been the week of beemer carpools! Today I rode with a guy who spent most of the time fiddling with his Blackberry and making/taking calls. Still, he managed pretty good time over the bridge and got into downtown San Francisco pretty quickly.

The 540i interior is relatively cramped compared to some of the other rides I've had lately but the seats are still fine enough. Ya know, BART's seats aren't bad by public transit standards but the leather seats in this ride will beat that anyday. ( May 26 2004, 11:34:17 PM PDT ) Permalink

20040524 Monday May 24, 2004

Riding in the back of a beemer sedan Today's ride over the bridge was quick and comfortable, the BMW sedans are rich in leg room.

And the comfy leather upholstery was certainly a big step up from other recent rides, sometimes casual carpool just rules! Check out the BMW interior. Next year for my birthday, can I get one of these? I'd like the black exterior, tan interior, please. ( May 24 2004, 09:35:57 AM PDT ) Permalink

20040227 Friday February 27, 2004

Dodged the rain in an Expedition Strangely, there was no line today at the pickup point

Rode in the backseat of a white late model Ford Expedition with Don Imus going on about.... nothing in particular. Driving and weather conditions were good as was my timing.

The minute I stepped into my office, umbrellas were abloom outside as the rain starting coming down. ( Feb 27 2004, 09:00:34 AM PST ) Permalink

20040226 Thursday February 26, 2004

'twas Grand Rode shotgun in a late model green Dodge Durango SUV.

After yesterday's biblically proportioned downpour, it was nice to wait for a pickup in sunny (albeit partly cloudy) weather. Yesterday, the freeway was locked up with solid accidents and general bad-weather chaos; seemed it was a definitely a BART day as the carpool line was empty. So I was attentive this morning to the radio reports for weather and traffic conditions, everything sounded good.

Waited in line about 10 minutes before for the 8 people ahead of me to get picked up, and then the Durango arrived. The same radio station I'd been listening to earlier was prattling on with the usual morning blabber.

The going was slow through the Caldicott and to the 580 split but after that it was smooth sailing. KGO was abuzz about a backup "from the tollbooth out to the Grand Avenue exit" but there was no such thing; the approach to the tollbooth was light, the non-carpoolers weren't buried too deep at the metering lights. The incline up the bridge was slow but nothing horrible; total drive time was about 30 minutes. Grand, indeed. ( Feb 26 2004, 10:15:47 AM PST ) Permalink

20040224 Tuesday February 24, 2004

Snake Eyes Often, it's just a roll of the dice.

The line at the carpool was at least twenty five persons deep when I arrived. At that point, it becomes a dilemma: do I wait it out and ride in on the 'pool or do I just say "screw it" and jump on the train? There wasn't exactly a throng of cars chipping away at the line, it could be a long wait. When the rain started to come down and I realized that I didn't have an umbrella, I sez to meself: "screw it!"

I hustled into the station. From the platform, a clear view of the carpool pickup point is evident. Here it was, just moments later, there was no rain and the line looked to be about halved in size! Was it halved because others were following my example and bailing out on the line? A steady procession of cars were apparent as the BART sign flashed "11 minutes" for the next train. It now looked like those people who'd held fast were likely to get downtown before me and with more train fare left on their tickets.

Sometimes, the dice just come up snake eyes. ( Feb 24 2004, 09:37:44 AM PST ) Permalink