Monthly Archives: September 2007

Traffic Congestion & The Impact Of Parents With Children

Everyone hates it when the roads are congested and slow but what actually causes congestion? The obvious answer is that there are more vehicles on the road than what the road infrastructure can handle or that there is some sort of an event causing a delay.

The government suggests that if everyone took public transport that it’d actually have an impact on traffic congestion, however if even a moderate number of people started doing that tomorrow in addition to those that already do; we’d have chaos as most cities don’t have enough public transport infrastructure to handle the load. There is no disputing that if more people utilised public transport that it would have an effect on the congestion – however I don’t think it is all that prartical in most places.

Ever thought about what else happens nearly every week day of the year that doesn’t involve work? You guessed it, school is on the majority of week days all year round. Now, can you imagine for a second how many kids there are that need to get to school, as you’d expect there is a similar number to those of adults needing to get to work.

Why is it that the government isn’t looking to improve that situation? Next time the school holidays are on, take notice of the difference in the load on the road network. I believe you’ll see what I did, a staggering reduction in the number of vehicles on the road. In fact, it makes so much difference that the 20Km route I take to work feels mostly empty, even at 8:30am. Ordinarily at 8:30am, the roads are under high load and if there isn’t delays, they are at the very least moving quite slowly.

The next obvious question is, why are so many parents driving their children to school? There are a couple of points which jump out at me on this topic:

  • The average family lives too far from their children’s school
  • Children today are too lazy to ride a bike or walk to school
  • Inadequate coverage in the school bus system
  • The school bus system has a cost associated to it
  • Parents are paranoid about their children’s safety

Depending on where you live, the distance to the children’s school could be an issue – however the majority of families would live less than 10Km from their children’s schools. The second point is quite a likely candidate, the government is advertising frequently about getting kids outside to do physical exercise and I can only assume that same lack of enthusiasm directly translates into laziness regarding getting themselves to school. It is quite possible that the school bus systems in most regions are as or more lacking than public transport. If this were the case and the children today are indeed generally lazy, then into the car go. For those that are within the reach of a bus network for school, it comes at a cost as well. Given that the average price of living has significantly increased in the last five years – maybe the cost of the school bus isn’t within the reach of a lot of families. Then there is the last one, parents are paranoid about their children these days – all but refusing to let them out of their sites. Over protective parents is definitely going to translate into the use of the car.

I don’t necessarily have solutions for the traffic congestion problems most medium to large cities are facing, however I bet if the government investigated the impact of parents ferrying their children to and from school and the reasons for that action – they might be pleasantly surprised. They might just find that they can effect a significant change on the congestion of the road networks for far less money than is required to continually upgrade those same road networks to carry great capacity.

What do you think about the idea, have you noticed a change in traffic conditions when school holidays are on?

Australian Idol 2007, Completely Uninspiring

I’m a bit of an Australian Idol fan, have been since the show started. I started out watching the 2007 installment of Australian Idol expecting to see another batch of up and coming Australian musicians however it all started to go south when the judges had to start culling the top 100 down.

Out of the bunch that made it through to the top 24, only a handful of them honestly earned their position for Australian Idol 2007. Lets take a look at a handful of people that were put through to the top 24, just for the sake of discussion:

Husny Thalib
Fantastically unique, looks great on camera and with a pretty reasonable voice – however I honestly don’t think he could sell records.
Lana Krost
Pretty as a picture, quite good vocal range but just doesn’t have the power or ummphh in her voice at the moment to punch out a tough song.
Dave Andrews
Reasonable voice but generally boring to listen to on stage.

The other thing that has been absolutely infuriating for the 2007 season of Australian Idol has been song choice. The judges harp on about it every year, however this year has to be the worst year in the history of Australian Idol. The Australian Idol contestants have been selecting songs, some of which people recognise, some which no one will realise – all the while, abandoning the tried and true songs that every Australian would recognise and show support for. I think the contestants in 2007 have honestly forgotten that they need to sing songs which appeal to the mass populous most of the time, as most people have the musical vocabulary of a gnat. I’m by no means saying that they should sing all mainstream songs, as they were originally performed – however if they sing an unknown song and put their own spin on it as well – how can they honestly expect the public to vote for them.

The bottom line of it is, for the first time in a long time I was more than happy to watch another TV show last night after an absolutely lack luster performance on the rock & roll night. Out of the contestants, only one of the contestants sang a true rock song – it was an AC/DC classic and while the performance probably needed a little work – at least it was rock and it was delivered like a rock song should be.

If the general quality of the performances doesn’t improve next week and the uninspiring crap continues, I’ll be switching off Australian Idol and embracing some other form of entertainment on a Sunday night.

Colin McRae, 1968 – 2007

Rally car champion Colin McRae has been killed in a helicopter accident on Sunday 14th September 2007. This is a dark day for the rally driving community and motorsport enthusiasts a like around the world. Colin McRae, his son and two friends were returning from a flight in the helicopter registered and being piloted by McRae, when it crashed only a short distance from the McRae property.

Time Is Of The Essense

We’ve been working on our current software project for about a year and it has been one hell of a ride. With less than a week to go before we flick the switch, we’re going through our final stages of preparation – lots of t’s to cross and i’s to dot but it sure is exciting.

Google Webmasters Facelift

The development team behind Google Webmasters have been at it again, releasing a new interface and additional features to the much loved utility.

Some points of interest about this particular update:

  • The landing page for Google Webmasters has been updated with a nicer layout and some groovy little icon action; all of the familiar links and utilities are still present on the page.
  • The user interface within the Webmasters Console has been refreshed, with stacked left navigation similar to what Google Analytics provides. At this stage, the overall bling throughout Google Webmasters doesn’t compare to Google Analytics; however it is great to see that they are making improvements to the interface regardless.
  • Subscriber statistics have been added in, so it is now possible to see how many people subscribe to the various XML feeds that your site provides. While it is quite useful to see a raw number, it would be nice to see more information about that data such as how it is trending over time, how often people are checking it and so forth. I had expected that Google would have already started exposing services provided by the recently acquired Feedburner, which would provide that level of granularity and more – maybe this is the start of that movement?

I don’t recall if the user interface had this before or not, however each section in the stacked navigation now features an overview page. Frustratingly, the overview page doesn’t actually ‘overview’ anything but provide a link into each section within it (which are already in the menu itself); so in effect you get a link and a tiny blurb per sub-section.

Nothing earth shattering in this particular release, however the constant improvement of the Google utilities is on of the things that makes them so good. I can’t wait for the next update, where I’m sure we’ll see a vastly improved user interface with better data visibility across the board.