The Null Device


London mayor Ken Livingstone (who brought in the successful congestion charge on traffic in the city) has ambitions to radically extend the London rail/tube/tram network by 2016, to cope with the city's growing population (and, if you've ever used the Tube at rush hour, you'll know it needs it; either that or Japanese-style attendants at each station to physically push people into carriages). Here (PDF) is a map of what he proposes to do with it. It's somewhat of an ambit claim, and most of it probably won't happen, though some proposals have already been funded. Good to see more Tube lines going in south of the Thames, where people are at the mercy of National Rail and buses (and buses in outer London tend to be worse than the ones in Melbourne for punctuality). (Though what are those "Cross River/West London/East London Transit" lines, though; Tube lines, driverless DLR-style trains, or trams?) (via Owen)

One thing's for sure: this will make Mornington Games rather interesting.

Meanwhile, here in Melbourne, no such expansions of public transport are likely; with enough money being spent on bribing the private operators of the shambolically-run system not to pack up and leave, there's none left over for such pipe dreams. The Public Transport Users' Association agitate from time to time for a much-overdue railway line to Monash University (which was built on a paddock in the middle of nowhere in the 1960s on the proviso that a railway line would be extended to it; it never eventuated, and most of the students either cope with the woefully limited outer-suburban bus services or give up and buy decrepit old Kingswoods and Mazda 323s), or to Rowville (outer suburban sprawl where people grow up having no experience of public transport other than the next-to-useless bus services which stop at 7pm on weekdays), or the tram line to Knox City (which, IMHO, is next to useless; who'd sit on a tram for 3 hours to get to the city? Local tram routes linking outer suburban railway stations and interchanges (sort of like the Tramlink system in London's southern suburbs) would make more sense.) and their crackpot cousins in the Transport Victoria Association occasionally push for vital improvements, such as elevating the Melbourne to Geelong railway line 1km above the ground to attract more passengers with better views of the bay. Meanwhile, the government, aware that most of the swinging votes belong to people with 2.3 cars per household who want to be able to drive from A to B quickly, spend billions on freeways and occasionally throw a bone to public transport, such as extending six bus routes to 7:30pm on weekdays.

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Why's Poignant Guide to Ruby, a gleefully insane and yet surprisingly useful beginner's guide to the Ruby language, peppered with zany examples and illustrated with cartoons, and sidebars rambling about gigantic robot monkey brains and such. A bit like those children's guides to TRS-80 BASIC programming and such that were around in the 1980s, only on much stronger drugs.

Ruby's a fairly nifty language; though probably a bit too overshadowed by both Perl and Python, which are technically more ordinary-looking but good enough for most things and have inertia behind them, to become big. Still, I should probably get around to doing more with it at some stage.

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