Google Gears Ubuntu x64 Update

Posted in Life in General by aliencam | No Comments »

Someone has posted a precompiled version of the new version of Google Gears for 64 bit Ubuntu distros! (yay thanks, this is too much work to do all the time so I almost never end up updating)

Just save the file, then in Firefox do file> open file > *filename* and install the extension. If you already have it installed, it will update the old version (don’t worry about removing the old version first. )

http://nielspeen.com/blog/2009/02/google-gears-64-bit/

–aliencam

Valley Metro and Google Public Transit

Posted in Life in General, Stupidity by aliencam | 9 Comments »

I have been very frustrated lately with the lack of public transit information in Phoenix available on Google Maps. If you haven’t used that feature yet, go to nearly any major city (except phoenix) on google maps, pick two destinations, and set the option to show you public transit directions. These directions are amazing, they will show you how far you need to walk/drive to get to the bus, where to get off, how long you wait between buses, and plan your entire route for you.

I know there is a similar service on the Valley Metro website, but it only uses valley metro buses, not any local bus systems (like the orbit or the flash). If all of these transit systems submitted their routes to google maps, it would be completely seamless to plan a ride even across bus systems.

The advantages to using Google Maps to plan my route instead of the Valley Metro Website are these (and a lot more):

  • an actual map instead of just directions
  • ability to adjust the route (by dragging the google maps line around)
  • can search for places instead of just addresses
    • eg. I could say “from Arizona State University to Walmart” and see which bus routes take me to which Walmarts, instead of having to know two addresses.
  • A way for out-of towners to use the PTS (who not from here knows its called “valley metro”?)
  • Faster searches (you probably just used google maps to find out where you were going anyway)
  • Easier URL
    • “maps.google.com” is easier than “http://tripplan.phoenix.gov/cgi-bin/itin_page.pl?resptype=U”
  • More light rail usage (I read somewhere that AZ is planning on loosing some exorbitant amount of money on the light rail, more people riding it will definitely help that out)

So what I did was send an email to the Customer Service part of Valley Metro, in hopes of getting some action out of them.  Depending on their response (or lack thereof)  I encourage people to email/ the Valley Metro customer service and tell them that you want their data on google maps also.   The customer service email address is cs@valleymetro.org or you can reguster and use their submission form at: http://www.valleymetro.org/customer_support/contact_us/  or you can call them at (602) 253-5000.

We also need some action from the local authorities to make sure this goes smothly and we have all public transportation (like the Tempe Orbit buses)  included in this.  The local authorities liely have some influence in the overall actiona of Valey Metro too.   There is a list of local authority phone numbers at:  http://www.valleymetro.org/customer_support/contact_transit_rep/

The Tempe In Motion authority phone number is (480) 350-2775

Below is the email I sent to the customer service.

I have lived in Phoenix most of my life, and have always heard people from other places complain about our public transportation system. Now that I am living in Tempe and using the buses and the light rail very often, I see some of the issues.

The main issue I see right now is that there is no easy way to get directions using the valley metro system (yes, I have seen the trip planner at http://tripplan.phoenix.gov/cgi-bin/itin_page.pl?resptype=U). I believe this could easily be fixed with submission of the routes and times to google map’s transit program. This process is quite simple, and should not take more than a dozen man-hours in it’s entirety.

The URLs to learn how to submit the data are below:
http://maps.google.com/help/maps/transit/partners/
http://maps.google.com/help/maps/transit/partners/participate.html

This simple step would result in myself, and many other people, using the valley metro systems many more times than we do now, and would show people who are visiting an easy and cheap way to get around the valley.

Nearly every major city in the United States has submitted their data to Google Maps, and as a result of that it has been extremely easy to get around when I have recently visited those cities.

Even Flagstaff currently has a working google maps transit feed. With the number of people living in the valley, and the huge investments into the transit system recently (most notably the light rail) the transit system would have to be self-sacrificing in order to pass up this opportunity.

Thank you,

Cameron Kopas

Hopefully we can get this done soon, then we canall  start taking the bus more often isntead of driving (I seriously hate driving everywhere, I would rather walk or take a bus or the light rail [I love taking the light rail!])

I think I will also start a facebook group for this…

–aliencam

UPDATE:

On Monday, March 02, 2009, I received the following email from Valley Metro:

“I received your message below regarding Google Transit. We are working on securing the required information from the City of Phoenix to implement it on Google Transit in the near future. ”

yay!  Now lets see how long it takes them…

Google Reader and RSS Feeds.

Posted in Life in General by aliencam | No Comments »

I use RSS feeds to read just about everything now. Ever since I started keeping track of more than two daily blogs, it just took too much time to visit the website and try to remember what I have or haven’t read. This also applies to friends’ blogs and is a great way to get rid of things like bookmarking and del.icio.us if you use the starring and the tagging features in most feed readers.

Here is a screenshot of my google reader. I have been working all day reading all these articles so that I could get a clean screenshot. Because of the volume of blogs that I am following, it usually takes me about half a day, every other day to read and clear out articles that I don’t want to read.

My favorite features are the search and the tagging features in Google Reader. My current list of article tags is huge, but it makes it so that I can easily find that article I read once, regardless of which blog posted it, and I can look for what I would call it, not necessarily what the authors called it. This also lets me keep lists and groups of articles relevant to a certain subject, such as my computer repair business, and ends up being a great resource when I need to look up something quickly.

RSS feeds are also very important if you have your own blog. They make it so that your content is more available to your readers, and so that readers can get your content regularly instead of having to visit the site. So it means more readers, and it is much easier to count your readers as well. I use feedburner (http://feedburner.com) to create and monitor my RSS feed, and it is great. It allows for a ton of tracking features and has marketing and lots of other things to make your RSS feed better.

-aliencam

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