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An idea for tracking buses to provide real time schedule information

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1. Put QR codes on the outside of buses.
2. Use red light cameras and traffic cameras to capture QR codes as the buses drive by.
3. Update a database that powers an app to deliver real time arrival estimates and bus locations to mobile and desktop clients.

Possible problems:

Somebody holding up a fake QR code. Since there’s no two way communication, we can’t exchange nonces so every QR code is subject to a replay attack. However, QR codes aren’t the only solution. Mobile technologies have spurred all kinds of investment and research into personal area network technologies like NFC and Bluetooth.

I’ve heard that bus driver unions don’t want their people tracked. They have to realize that with the economy the way it is and with the electorate in such a foul mood, public subsidies of transit systems will be reduced. Thus the only way to increase ridership and revenues is to make the service more attractive. One frequent complaint is the unpredictability of bus systems. Tracking buses in real time can go a long way towards solving that problem. I’m sure traffic engineers can also come up with some way to use the data.

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Written by notatypewriter

2012 February 4 at 9:38 am

30 Thoughts

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I went to the Vancouver Canucks at San Jose Sharks game tonight with my good friend Nick. He got us totally awesome fourth row seats in the corner where the Canucks shot twice. Sadly, the Sharks lost in overtime 3-2.

1. Those guys are huge. Like I knew mentally how tall they were, but Jesus, in the flesh they’re massive.

2. Wow this game is fast. It feels much slower on TV because the camera is so far away. I’m able to tell where the action is when watching on TV. Down near the glass it’s a whole different story. I felt pretty lost most of the time (especially when the action is at the other end of the ice) and I’m pretty sure I missed seeing all the goals develop. It’s not just a matter of knowing where the puck is, but knowing where its going to go so you can anticipate the action.

3. There’s so much going on. I’m pretty sure I missed all the penalties. Thank God for replay I suppose.

4. The hits and the shots are hard. I could feel it when pucks hit the glass or the boards. The sound of people getting crunched along the boards reverberated through the floor.

5. The ice is tiny. It seems really huge on TV but it feels pretty small from end to end.

6. It is loud. Ears ringing for some time.

7. The time goes by super quickly. When there was a stoppage in play at about the two minutes remaining mark in the third period, I was like, “already?!”

8. I saw a friend from elementary school working there. People are growing up.

9. Having 30 thoughts is hard. I can see why they pay this guy to do it.

10. Traffic sucks. Good thing I live close enough to be able to avoid using freeways.

11. I felt the Sharks played most of the night in the Canucks zone but the Canucks shots were of much higher quality.

12. Where did this jersey come from?

Written by notatypewriter

2011 December 29 at 2:26 am

Mac and Cheese with Kielbasa

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Written by notatypewriter

2011 November 7 at 1:03 am

Posted in Thoughts

Failing at life

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Today I feel like I failed a test of character.

I was walking to my car when I heard the telltale signs of a flat tire drive by and I did nothing to alert the driver of the issue. (Neither did any of my co-workers I was walking with, so we may have experienced the bystander effect.) There was a stop sign and we were in a parking lot so I had a decent chance of stopping the driver. We even commented on it as the car went by, but a few seconds later the car was out of our reach.

Those seconds were some of the longest seconds in my life. Every bone in my body was saying I should say something, but I didn’t do it. Was I too scared of making myself seem like a fool in front of my peers if I was wrong about the flat tire? I don’t really know why I didn’t do anything.

But I know that afterward I felt like a failure.

I hope that this doesn’t happen again.

I feel like these small tests of character come up often in my life. Nearly every day, I have at least one opportunity to directly impact somebody’s life and the choices I make during these opportunities determines the kind of person I am. Some days are good and I walk a bit taller knowing that I helped somebody. Some days… not so much.

I think heroes are the people who make the choice to be that helpful person, to directly impact somebody’s life for the better without regard to self. The easy choice is to stand by and do nothing. Heroes change the world, perhaps only in some small way, but they should be called heroes nonetheless.

Written by notatypewriter

2011 September 23 at 1:41 am

Posted in Thoughts

Lessons learned: Air drying clothes

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I heard that clothes last longer when you don’t run them through the dryer, not to mention saving on dryer costs. So I decided to try air drying this week’s load of laundry using an IKEA Antonius drying rack (a cinch to assemble). As with most things, theory != practice.

Lesson 1: Volume blows

Hanging clothes on a drying rack is a lot of work! Not only is it physical labor, but there’s also an element of planning involved. One must attempt to fit all the clothes on the rack but also optimize for maximal airflow between the items to decrease drying times and prevent mold (!) from growing on the clothes. (I don’t know what mildew looks or smells like on clothes. I’ve seen it in books…)

To relieve this, I don’t think I’ll try to dry all of my two weeks’ worth of clothes at once. I also noticed half of the space taken up on the rack was socks, underwear, and undershirts, all of which I don’t really care about since they’re so cheap (except for about half of my underwear). Instead, I’ll only air dry the clothes I truly care about like my graphic t-shirts, polos, and jeans.

Lessons to be learned

Since my clothes are still drying right now, I have no clue how wrinkled these clothes will become. For all of my t-shirts I gave them a shake or two and then hung them up and it looks like it’s pretty wrinkle free for now

Written by notatypewriter

2011 August 16 at 11:04 pm

Posted in Thoughts

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Car Buying: Test Drives Part 1

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I test drove 8 cars today: Nissan Sentra, Nissan Altima, Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus 2012 sedan, Subaru Impreza, Honda Fit, Toyota Corolla, and Toyota Yaris.

I’m not a fan of the whole buying experience in general. The salespeople have such a great information advantage over the buyer. Some of the salespeople are pushy, telling you to buy today, even after you told them you’re only test driving and will purchase in a week or two.

Most people, especially myself, don’t know how to evaluate cars and what initial feelings on the road can become problems later on. We can turn to professionals like Consumer Reports, but their blurbs are short and useful as a pre-filter, but not that helpful after narrowing your selection.

I am looking at hatchbacks and small sedans. One concern I have with hatchbacks is that you can’t really see out the back and the blind spots are large. But they can carry a lot of stuff. On the other hand, small sedans will have trouble carrying things like bikes, but are typically good about being able to see out the rear, but knowing where the car ends requires time and patience to learn the car. I don’t particularly care about rear seat room, but that is a major concern for other people on cars like the Yaris and the Fiesta

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Being a Debbie Downer

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(I have a tendency to do this, but I’d like to think it keeps me prepared for the future.)

I stumbled across this site called They Don’t Teach You This In School. It has decent advice, mostly New Age-y follow your dreams stuff but some other more concrete stuff too.

There’s an article inspired by a commencement speech at Stanford given by Steve Jobs. Thanks to Longreads, I recently read this speech and found it had lots of good pragmatic advice.

But in the TDTYTIS article, the author writes (emphasis added):

He says that being diagnosed with cancer and coming that close to death has led him to start every day thinking like it’s his last. If it’s your last day on earth, you want to be doing something you enjoy, right? So if he wakes up in the morning, and decides that what he is about to do that day isn’t what he would like to do on his last day, he will do something different. Isn’t this how we should all live our lives to ensure we get the most out of them?

But actually, Steve Jobs says something very different (emphasis added):

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

TDTYTIS changed Jobs’ message from pragmatic advice to probably foolish advice. I’m sounding like a Debbie Downer when I write this, but not every day’s itinerary is filled with things that you want to do before your last day on Earth. Sometimes you have to go to work and sit through that boring meeting. Sometimes you have to smile at people and humor their queries. Sometimes you have to have lunch with your mother.

Steve Jobs recognized that some days will suck. So his advice was to consider the big picture. Not to live every day as if it was his last, but to make sure he never spent too much time not doing the things he wanted to do and to every so often, live at least one day as if it was his last.

That’s the better advice… at least to my personality.

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Written by notatypewriter

2011 May 29 at 6:38 am

Posted in Thoughts

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