Monthly Archives: April 2009

Red Means Go

Earlier in the week I was on my way home from work, driving through the tale end of peak hour traffic when I very nearly smashed into the back of the car in front of me.

The traffic was moving at about 80Km/h in this section of road and it was predicably smooth, as opposed to fast then slow. As I came over the crest of a hill and for reasons unknown, the traffic 10 cars in front of me decided to suddenly break. The heavy breaking rippled through the lane of traffic as per normal, however the two or three cars directly in front of me were caught out by the crest of the hill. To compound matters, the car directly in front of me had some issues which their break lights – specifically, breaking caused his break lights to turn off instead of on!

Night fall was upon us and everyone already had their driving lights on. With the free flowing traffic through this section of road, there wasn’t a reason for the driver in front of me to break – so I didn’t notice the reversal of his break lights earlier. Unfortunately for me, that meant I first realised something was wrong after he stomped on the break pedal to respond to the heavy breaking 10 cars in front.

As you can imagine, I was very happy that there was adequate breaking distance for my heavy little tank of a car to slow down or I’d be catching a lift to work for a while.

Motorists Are Not Mind Readers

The M1 is a major piece of road infrastructure linking the Gold Coast, Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast together in South East Queensland. During peak hour it carries a staggering amount of traffic and a surprisingly high amount even in off peak windows due to the arterial nature of the motorway.

When road works need to be carried out on the motorway, if possible they are performed in off peak periods – often quite late into the night as to avoid massive congestion and delays during peak hour. However even late into the night (after 10PM) – the motorway is still servicing a lot of traffic.

To avoid any unnecessary congestion on the roads, not just the M1 – road crews put out signage to inform motorists that there are works or construction happening ahead. In an ideal world, motorists are informed of the work ahead with enough time that they can safely slow down (if required) or merge lanes with minimal impact.

It’ll come as no surprise that when there is inadequate signage on the roads, motorists are unsure what the appropriate action is to take. Case in point, returning home from Brisbane to the Gold Coast on a Friday night after 10PM at night and there was non-construction road works taking place. There was a sign stating that there was road works ahead but it didn’t inform the motorists to merge and it wasn’t until progressing further around a corner that there was a large flashing sign saying merge left. Unfortunately, by that point the traffic had little chance to merge smoothly as the road was quite busy. To the detriment of the motorists, the flashing sign failed to inform them that they were in fact closing two lanes and not just the right most lane. After the traffic had to come to a near halt to merge once, less than 1Km further down the road it ground to a halt again as it merged left.

In the past, I’ve been relatively critical of councils and road works:

I like the fact that road works are taking place, as it normally means that something is going to improve on the roads that I’m travelling on. What I don’t understand is why the people or companies handling traffic control don’t do a better job of informing motorists of what sort of road works are taking place and what the appropriate response should be from the motorists. As an example, local councils will often put out signs stating that there is mowing taking place or that line markings on the roads are being redone.

Is it too much to ask that traffic control inform the drivers on a 4 lane major motorway, that they need to merge two lanes to the left and not just one?

Windows Vista Business Double Clicking On Single Click

In July 2007, I was fortunate to win a copy of Windows Vista Business at a Gold Coast .NET User Group and it wasn’t until January 2008 that I installed it when I was re-establishing my geek prowess. Since that time, I’ve had very mixed opinions about Windows Vista – some have been really positive and others have been quite negative.

Within the last month, I’ve been having a problem with my Microsoft IntelliMouse Explorer optical mouse. At whatever interval it feels inclined, whenever I would single click – Windows Vista would register a double click. It would then take several single click attempts before Vista Business would finally register a single click and not another double click. As you can imagine, if you’re mouse is registering double clicks nearly all the time – doing some of the most fundamental computer tasks becomes very difficult and tiresome.

In case software settings within Windows Vista or another program had gone astray, I went through a few different sections of basic Windows configuration to restore default settings such as Folder Options (single click to open an item) and also restored the mouse settings via the Control Panel without any success.

Virtually all of the problems I’ve been having with Windows Vista have been related to hardware driver support in some manner. With that in mind, I also tried uninstalling the current version of Microsoft IntelliPoint and separately changing my mouse drivers back to a standard mouse – neither of which helped. I thought something may have changed on my computer with a Windows Update or some other software. To rule out an incompatibility with my older version of the Microsoft IntelliPoint – I downloaded and installed the latest version via the Microsoft Download Centre but the double clicking symptom persisted.

This evening I connected an original optical Microsoft IntelliMouse which has been absolutely punished from gaming. While it was completely crusty from living in the bottom of a big plastic storage container for an unknown amount of time – the single double clicking issue seems to have vanished for the moment.

While the problem isn’t showing up at the moment, I don’t think that it is my original mouse that is causing the problems. Searching online shows that there are a lot of people having a similar problem – however after reading through a lot of different web sites, I didn’t come across a clear root cause.


Windows Live Messenger Upgrade

Microsoft recently released an upgrade for Windows Live Messenger. I’ve been meaning to upgrade for a while now, however had heard a few negative comments about it which stopped me from upgrading. This evening I took the plunge, upgraded and so far I’m quite enjoying it.

I haven’t changed any settings away from the default and in liking that:

  • the contact list font size is slightly smaller, so you can see more people in the same vertical space
  • grouping contacts isn’t new, however the Favourites might be?
  • the annoying left hand wall of advertising and other useless services has been moved down the bottom
  • hovering a contact provides a context menu with a few useful options such as send email or view profile
  • What’s New scrolls through the recent activity of your contact list. Within the settings area, you can choose who you want to see events from, what type and also what you publish (if anything at all). It’s a great way to see at a glance what your contacts have been doing, in case you missed something.

I’m not that interested in the scene (read: themes), animated display pictures or signature sounds functionality but maybe that’ll change in the future. While I’ve only had it installed for a very brief amount of time, I think it is a positive upgrade from Microsoft for Live Messenger.