Results tagged “train” from kwc blog

Train Music Video, sans Music

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With the aid of an iPod I've found moments in life that sync up to a particular song. I like playing Pavement's Frontwards as the BART train makes the turn into SFO. There's something about the lumbering movement of the BART as it curves around and the buzz of the cars on the highway versus the activity at the airport that matches the semi-tuned music of Pavement. Then, of course, there's Dark Side of the Moon and Wizard of Oz.

I took this HD video with my new Canon IXY/ELPH as I was going towards Narita airport (higher res here). It seemed to match the mood of Radiohead's "Reckoner" quite well until I had the idea of playing Moray McLaren's "We Got Time". Perhaps it was the nature of the music video that helped it match so well, but there's so many beats that the change in scenery match perfectly. View from a train in Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus.

Due to my desire to not get sued, I present the video sans soundtrack, but, if you happen to have "We Got Time" (the full version, not the edited music video version), press play six seconds in.

I'm on a Train

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Bullet train-5

Bullet train-2

Bullet train-6

... well, soon enough. My time in Kobe, Japan is nearly up. Next stop, Tokyo. We're taking a bullet train out of here tomorrow night. These are some photos from my bullet train trip into Kobe. There hasn't been much sightseeing, though I did manage to squeeze in quick trips to four Tadao Ando sites: Rokko, Hyoto Prefectural Art Museum, Water Temple, and Awaji-Yumebutai. Beautiful stuff, though the grey skies today mean I have a reason to come back. I also managed to glimpse (from a bus) Frank Gehry's ridiculous Fishdance restaurant, which is only one step away from Weinermobile.

Almost useful Caltrain site

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iamcaltrain is an attractive mashup of Yahoo maps, Flickr, and the Caltrain schedule. I've posted my own Caltrain hacks before (Caltrain vis, Caltrain tags), so anything that makes my commute easier is bound to catch my attention. iamcaltrain almost did it, but it needs a couple of tweaks:

  • I can get a station-to-station schedule, but I can't bookmark it
  • Reloading clears the schedule I'm looking at
  • Bug: To get from Mountain View to Menlo Park leaving right now it gave me the option of taking the next train to Menlo Park (15 minutes) or taking the same train all the way to San Bruno and catch a train back (1 hour 24 minutes).
  • Bug: If I type the name of a station in the start or end boxes, it assumes I'm typing an address

Caltrain vis take 1

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I believe a fair assessment of the new Caltrain schedule is that there are a lot more opportunities for shorter commutes, but those opportunities come at the cost of increased complexity. In addition to all the problems of what train stops where and which train is which, there's one more bit of complexity in my commute: the gaps between trains during rush hour have been increased to 50 minutes at my closest station.

The larger time gap presents a new choice: do I walk five minutes to my closest station, Menlo Park, or do I walk 15 minutes to the next closest station, Palo Alto.1 It takes a bit of calculation to answer this question with the variety of schedules. I could slice and dice and annotate my paper schedule to answer all these questions, but that's no fun.

I decided instead to write a little Python program to visualize my options, borrowing extensively from my understanding of Visual Display of Quantitative Information. The end result reads chronologically from left to right with each red line representing a commute option:

pampy4.gif

I have grander visions for this little program, but for now I have a something that I can glance over at the end of my workday. Some potential next directions: * nicer fonts, higher resolution for printing on paper * hooking this up to a Web server so others can get schedules * go one step further and try to do a combined Caltrain, BART, N Judah visualization (Caltrain -> BART Millbrae -> Embarcadero vs. Caltrain -> 4th and King Muni -> Embarcadero)

1I could bike to Palo Alto, but the Baby Bullet that stop there has less room for bikes, which means I might to be able to board there. More complexity that I haven't modeled here..

F--- Atherton!

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... well, their Caltrain stop at least. Caltrain has put up a proposed service schedule that is, IMHO, pretty awesome, though it will require a lot more planning to make sure I catch the right train. The major improvements are: * you can now sleep in an hour or two later and still catch a Bullet train * for half-peninsula commutes, the Limiteds are now very similar in speed to the Bullets there is a new-style of Limited that is designed to shot you from San Jose to the mid-Peninsula quickly and vice versa * They got rid of the Atherton, Broadway, College Park, and Paul stations.

For my particular BART-Millbrae-Caltrain commute, where my Caltrain stop is a second tier stop (Hillsdale, SM, MP, SC) the philosophy appears to be that they stack two Caltrains for your stop within 15 minutes of each other -- i.e. if you miss the first train, then another, similarly fast train will be along in 12-15 minutes -- but if you miss the second train, you will have a long wait (~50 minutes). In my experience, BART will be more than 15 minutes late on a regular basis, so I will have to figure out how to properly buffer my schedule and yet still take advantage of the faster service.

Of course, just as happened last time, there will be long, drawn-out community meetings in which this schedule will get modified; in particular, Atherton and Broadway might be able to get themselves back on the schedule.

Updated to my transit511 rant

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After my previous rant about how Transit 511 took over Caltrain's schedule and made it completely unusable, there's finally been some improvements. I claim no causality between my rant and the change, but I would like to believe that a chorus of similarly peeved individuals led to the change.

You can once again select and start and end station and view the schedule for just those two stations, a feature that existed on the Caltrain site before Transit 511 took over.
[Here's an example with Mountain View and San Mateo][sched].

<newrant>From the example, you can see that they are still really stupid and stick the schedule inside of an embedded frame, which makes it really hard to print. Interestingly enough, if you click on "accessible version" or "printable version," it gets rid of this stupid embedded frame. It's not that they don't have a usable version, it's just that you have to request it specially.

They also don't have the old feature that allowed you to select a start/end time so that you don't have to view the schedule for the 5am trains you'll be sleeping during.</newrant> [sched]: http://transit.511.org/schedules/detail.asp?cid=CT&rte=5081&day=1&dir=NO&fst=12%2CCALTRAIN STATION - MOUNTAIN VIEW&mc=stops&tst=23%2CCALTRAIN STATION - SAN MATEO&image1.x=15&image1.y=9