Archives for July 2005

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Singularist Launches

So yesterday I launched Singularist, a site that takes the various Gothamist sites -- Gothamist, LAist, DCist, etc -- and makes a cursory attempt to take that stupid editorial "we" voice and make it singular. In the end it's really just a regular expression that maps five or six first person plural pronouns to first-person singular, but the effect works pretty well.

After first sending me a "knock it off" type email, Gothamist head Jake Dobkins now agrees that the site is legal according to the Creative Commons license Gothamist uses. Specifically this license allows non-commercial derivative uses.

I found it funny today, though, to go over to the post Sean made linking to Singularist and read the comments. I launched the site yesterday morning and then proceeded to go to Rancho Cucamonga for the afternoon/evening and watch minor league baseball, so I missed all the fun.

My favorite part: Jake's comment that "i would have done it as a greasemonkey plugin, rather than devoting the energy to buying the domain name and making a whole logo. to me, that suggests a guy with waaaay too much time on his hands." Hah. I wish I had too much time on my hands. I'd say the reality is quite the opposite, however.

For what it's worth, I now have a page up with the Singularist code.

Camera Phone Shots as a Snapshot of Life

Every time I go check out the Flickr Date Taken Calendar I think all over again about how cool it is. That calendar shows a little snapshot of my life, in picture form. Sure, I'm not in any (or almost any) of the pictures, but each of those shots represents where I was in that point in time. With traditional photos it's easy for dates to become fuzzy, but with digital images and EXIF data you always know exactly when things happened. That's really cool.

Pictures from Catalina

Kathy and Laura and I went to Catalina today, and I took a good number of pictures. Quite a few of them are me sitting on the dock playing with lens flares and interesting ways to confuse the sensor with a sunset, but I think they're fun.

The quantity of pictures I took on this trip prompted me to figure out how to bulk upload to flickr. I ended up using jUploader, a cross-platform java app. It has an odd quirk of uploading in reverse order, but I figured out how to drag my pictures in reversed and get them to come out right on the flickr end. They're all there now -- 92 of them, I think.

6pm: 95 degrees

It's hot today. I thought if I waited a bit later to ride home, I'd miss some of that. Turns out it isn't so; it's after 6pm and it's still 95 degrees outside. Oh well, I'm done waiting. Time to just man up and ride.

More Accurate Results

This morning I stopped my computer entering Union Station and didn't restart it until I was set to take off from outside the Memorial Park Gold Line station. That may have been what propelled my average speed from 12.5mph to 14.2mph. It also may have been what pulled my trip distance from 6.36 miles down to 6.14. With that accounted for my trip distances now track a lot more cleanly with the ones I plotted on the map.

More Speed

It is definitely 95 degrees outside, and I'm definitely drenched, but I just made it home on my first return trip with a computer. Mileage is really close to what I gave it as earlier -- GMap Pedometer gave 14.8 miles; the computer says 14.97.

Average speed was 17.7mph, and that was a number that went down as the ride went on and flattened out. Coming into the bike path in South Pasadena it was around 20. Approaching Chinatown it was 19. Then the lights and traffic kicked in, and I ended up with the final number of 17.7. Way back in May, when I first made the whole ride back, Alan commented that I should be able to hit 17-18mph on this ride. Turns out he was dead on.

Max speed was 36.5mph, and it was right where I thought it would be, on this stretch of road.

Trip time was 50:21, but that's moving time. When I stop at a light the clock stops.

Me and My Computer

I bought a cycle computer yesterday -- a Cateye Enduro 8 -- and used it for the first time on my ride into work today. I'm trying to make sure I've got it all set up and callibrated correctly. To do that, though, I need a way to show mileage for the routes I take, which is something driving direction oriented tools won't manage (they don't account for cuts through parks, etc). Gmap Pedometer is an amazing tool for that sort of thing. It lets you just plot points on the map and creates a path out of it. It doesn't hold you to roadways, which is both good and bad. Good, in that parks are no problem. Bad, in that you have to manually click your way down the bends of a roadway.

In any case, it's the best thing I have at my disposal. Here you can see my route from my apartment to Union Station. The pedometer shows 1.29 miles, while my computer showed 1.45. Here's my route from Memorial Park to JPL. For this leg the pedometer lists 4.8 miles, while the computer gives me 4.91.

At first I thought this might be calibration error, but in that case the error should be linear, and increase with distance. Obviously these differences aren't doing that. My best guess? I don't ride in a straight line.

Here's the fun route -- JPL to my apartment. Some parts make more sense from the satellite view; the bike path shows up in empty space on the map. Here the pedometer gives me 14.81 miles. We're see how that corresponds to actual distance travelled by the bike in just a bit.

Other quick stats: Max speed on the ride in was 28.5mph, down a hill on Lincoln. Average speed was 12.5mph, though that includes limited sections pushing the bike through Union Station, etc (at 3-4mph). We'll see what I hit on the hill down Salvia Canon coming toward the Rose Bowl. I'm guessing 37mph.

Stupid Little Buses on the 177

If I'm not biking into work I have to take the 177 (PDF Schedule) from Pasadena to JPL and back. The buses that they use on the route are absolutely the worst I've ever ridden in. They're little, they ride horribly on the freeway, and oftentimes they seem to have other issues.

In the last week, for instance, there was one trip in which the bill collector on the fare machine was broken. The driver had to just let people on without making them pay, and probably passed up about $20 in fare just from JPL alone. Even worse, though, was the door. These little buses have a motor that operates the door, and apparently this one didn't want to quite work. It would get the door about 3/4 of the way closed, and that's it. So we rode down the 210 from JPL to Pasadena with the front door partially open. That doesn't seem too safe.

This morning I thought maybe things were going to get better. Up pulls a normal bus, with 177 written on a piece of paper and stuck in the window. The side of the bus was completely white, save for the "Travel Smart, Go Metro" sticker text. Obviously it had fresh paint over a Foothill Transit scheme, and inside the Foothill ads were still up. The ride was infinitely nicer and I didn't feel like the windows were going to rattle loose and fall off.

This afternoon, though, no luck. Back to the good old little buses. This time the air was out, so we had to ride down the freeway with all the windows open.

I hate those things.


In case you were wondering, the Office Depot in Little Tokyo closes at 6pm on both Saturday and Sunday. I just found that out. My quest to purchase a USB ethernet adaptor (for the Tivo) and 8-port switch will have to wait.

On the plus side, though, I finally got around today to checking what kind of batteries my wireless mouse takes, since it died just over one month ago. Multiple times I've been at the store and thought to get them, but stopped because I didn't know which kind. Turns out it takes AA.


Someone Go Tell Richard Katz that Expo Line Isn't a Subway

Newly appointed to the MTA Board, Richard Katz was on the KCRW show Which Way LA? Wednesday. Host Warren Olney kept asking about the "subway to the sea" that Antonio had talked about in his campaign. Interestingly, though, all of Katz answers were about Expo. It was sort of weird. Consider these exchanges:

WO: "Tom Bradley, when he ran for mayor in 1973, said they'd break ground on a new rapid transit system in 18 months. I remember asking him in, I think, his second and third terms when that was finally going to happen. Is the subway to the sea going to turn out to be that kind of situation?"

RK: "No, I think that what the Mayor is saying is that at the same time as we're doing the small fixes to fix commuting in Los Angeles ... we need to also be looking at the big picture ... and that includes taking the Exposition line west."


WO: "I don't want to be a one-note interviewer here, but back to the subway to the sea ... would expanding the Alameda Corridor be a more immediate priority?"

RK: "I think you have to look at both. Expanding the Alameda Corridor East certainly helps the movement of goods and helps the economy of Southern California. Being able to use the Exposition Line helps people get around Los Angeles better and helps people move from the Westside and the Southside in a much better fashion."

So what's the deal? Is Richard Katz anti-Red Line, or has Antonio quickly shifted his attention to a project that will get to Santa Monica a lot cheaper, albeit via a much slower trip?

Fun With Search Queries

Forget top queries that people use to get here... Those are boring. It's the random out of the blue queries I love, and it's been a while since I took a look at those. Today I happened to be in the June logs and noticed some that I enjoyed. Note that these are just for the blog.

  • blog post comment -login -password -registered
  • a-10 warthogs for sale
  • california law joy ride fine
  • how to hack into a usc email account

All According to Plan...

My interesting trip plans for Friday actually turned out to work quite well. Kathy and I met up at Union Station and bought tickets for the 11:20 Metrolink to San Bernadino. Or that was at least where the train was headed; we got off in Upland. There we had to wait 15 minutes or so, but the taxi driver I had scheduled did turn up and took us on the short drive to the airport.

It turns out this cabbie was actually doing dispatch from his car... No radio, just a cell phone mounted on the dash that calls would come into. He'd write down the street address and tell him an approximate time to pick-up. My favorite part, though: sitting in the bottom of the trunk were a set of golf clubs. I assume they were his, but I didn't ask.

We got to the airport with plenty of time to check in, get through security (a five minute process, if that), and eat at Applebees before having to walk to the gate and board.

So now I'm in Denver until tomorrow evening. Then back to LA.