Friday, 28 January 2011

Blog posts coming soon

Things to write about when I have time:
The Geeks of London gadget meetup of last night

Monday, 24 January 2011


I bought Bizarre magazine this month at there was an article in it covering the larp system I play. It was a good article, quite sincere and interested rather than piss-taking. Shame it was surrounded by a huge number of pages of adverts featuring scantily clad women and cost over four quid. Still, I did get an article on Neil Gaiman in there as part of the bargain.

If this then that

I've just discovered a forthcoming tool by the name of "If this, then that" which is all set to start connecting together the social networks that are pervading everyday life. It looks pretty cool and I've signed up to be part of the beta as soon as they send out new invitations. My primary reason is that I want a simple way of archiving my Twitter feed in perpetuity without annoying other people with it. One of the irritations of daily online activity is trying to follow one person across multiple sites as man duplicate the content across streams. This is made simple by some tools that will cross post to a blog, Twitter and Facebook all at once. The problem, though, is that followers on each network then try to engage with the original post and the conversation is fractured massively. could just increase the noise in that regard, it looks like it's going to be able to set up some powerful interactions across the board, but I'm hoping that it will also be something that lets me play with data I create in interesting ways when I get a chance to do a bit of hacking. We'll see. I have to wait for my invitation to come through first, anyway.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Optimising the commute

So, we've moved offices. At least, my team has. We used to work in central London, colloquially known as W1 due to the postcode, and we're now in W12, White City.

As an annoying consequence of this, my commute has grown significantly worse. For the first couple of weeks of the new regime I found that my commute was taking longer than it used to take me to get into work when I worked in London and lived in Peterborough - a trip of some 80 miles. I now travel roughly twenty miles into work, which is beyond the realms of cycling distance, even supposing I were fit enough to do so.

My old commute went like this:
12 minute walk to the station
35 minute trip to Charing Cross
25 minute walk to the office

The new one goes like this:
12 minute walk to the station
25 minute trip to London Bridge
15 minute tube to Bond Street
15 minute tube to White City
5 minute walk to the office

On the face of it, the timing looks much the same. Unfortunately, every time you introduce a change you have to allow for movement between platforms, and a massive risk of failure. And every day there was a different failure and it was a total pain in the bum. I have at least discovered that the problems are reduced if I start the trip at 7am instead of 8am. Total time traveling from 8am is just shy of 2 hours. Starting out at 7 means it's more like 1hr 15.

Of course, there are further problems to solve. I have to get used to being up and active before 7am, not an easy thing for a naturally night based person (when I am not working for whatever reason my sleep pattern is to be awake 11am - 4am). And I also have to find some way to fit 50 minutes of exercise per day back into my life. These are not insignificant problems, but at least now I have the timing better sorted.

The 7ish trains are much busier than the 8ish trains. I find this strange as the exact opposite is true of the tubes out of London Bridge. I also wonder how much this is true for trains running twenty minutes or so later or earlier. The investigation into optimal solutions continues.

Meanwhile, I'm intrigued by the train signs at Abbey Wood station. For some reason they have switched their display method from something along the lines of:

7.12 Charing Cross due 7.13


7.12 Charing Cross due 2 mins

Is the latter considered generally easier to read? Or are they simply deliberately obscuring the mismatch between the due time and the published time?