Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Euthanasia issue hots up

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Using public transport to turn a 40 minute drive into a 3 hour trip

Today I decided to catch the free 901 Smartbus and head off to Hawthorn. Yes I knew it would go to Blackburn station which wasted a bit of time, but that's OK, it was to be an adventure.

I arrived at the bus stop in Williamsons Road and checked the Metlink iPhone app for the 901. First problem was there was no 901 Smartbus listed in the nearby function. You'd think they'd have updated their application. Perhaps it was my fault as I hadn't sync'ed the app. But a check now shows no updates available. Pretty poor really.

I decided to grab the first bus which was a 902 Smartbus. The problem isn't the bus trips as the actual trip is OK. It is the waiting between trips. A 15 minutes wait at Doncaster for the next bus to Box Hill. A 20 minute wait at Box Hill for the next train. The tram at Hawthorn was only going to be three minutes but I decided to walk the short distance to the destination. The tram came and beat me by one stop. I had no way of knowing if it would be on time. I dropped off the item I set out to drop off and caught the next tram back which was running two minutes late. Lucky for me or I'd have missed it.

I didn't mind which way I went back home and this tram went to the end of the line in North Balwyn. No problems I thought. The end of the line will always have a connection up to Doncaster Shoppingtown at regular intervals.

How wrong was I. The only bus on a Sunday was the Route 207. I was lucky as I had to wait 20 minutes to the 5:08pm. Had I arrived earlier and just missed the previous bus at 3:38pm I'd have had to wait up to an hour and a half. But check out the bus timetable. To have a tram terminate and have just 8 connecting buses for a day is an outlandish service.

A drive on a Sunday from Templestowe to Hawthorn and back would have taken about 40 minutes. Using public transport it took me a little over 3 hours.

It is no wonder we need our cars. I pity the people in North Balwyn.

I enjoy exploring the buses and personally think all politicians should be forced to use public transport. If they did we'd have the best public transport system in the world. Just try telling the Prime Minister you were late because your train was cancelled and see how far that gets you.

Kelvin Eldridge

Smartbus 901 free for two weeks

“An extended SmartBus Route 901 from Frankston to Melbourne Airport is starting on Sunday September 26. Route 901 is free to all passengers during the first two weeks of operation – to Sunday 10 October 2010.” - Metlink

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mobile speed camera locations - September 2010 (Bulleen, Templestowe, Templestowe Lower, Doncaster, Doncaster East, Eltham)

Mobile speed camera locations for September 2010.

High Street, between Rosemary Street and Linton Avenue, Templestowe
Serpells Road, between Church Road and Killibury Court , Templestowe
Reynolds Road, between Hawtin Street and Smiths Road, Templestowe
Manningham Road, between Ayr Street and High Street, Templestowe Lower
King Street, between Williamsons Road and Veda Court, Doncaster
George Street, between Victoria Street and Williamsons Road, Doncaster
High Street, between Manningham Road and Doncaster Road, Doncaster
Wetherby Road, between Doncaster Road and Koonung Creek, Doncaster
Doncaster Road, between Rose Street and High Street, Doncaster
Doncaster Road, between Blackburn Road and Wetherby Road, Doncaster East
King Street, between Nedlands Court and Ashcroft Avenue, Doncaster East
Blackburn Road, between Raintree Road and Johns Grove, Doncaster East
Blackburn Road, between Beverley Street and Turnstone Street, Doncaster East
Blackburn Road, between Reynolds Road and King Street, Doncaster East
Bulleen Road, between Thompsons Road and Manningham Road, Bulleen

Kelvin Eldridge

Doncaster burglary squad team leader Det Sgt Doug Beare said the results were pleasing

Son keen to return to Templestowe murder house

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Eastern freeway traffic cameras show up-to-date traffic conditions (Bulleen Road, Yarra Bend)

Frequently when I get to around Bulleen Road on the Eastern Freeway of a night, the bank up of traffic ahead is shocking. I’ve often wondered if there was a way I could check out the traffic beforehand. As it turns out VicRoads provides a live feed from their cameras which are updated frequently. Below are the links to the cameras that interest me and may be of interest to others in the local area.


Bulleen Road looking East


Eastern Freeway at Yarra Bend looking East


Happy motoring.


Kelvin Eldridge


Students danced their way to health at Templestowe school

Monday, September 13, 2010

Metlink News - Eltham, Hurstrbridge line delay

After writing the earlier post stating an advisory service by Metlink was required I couldn’t help feeling Metlink might have something in place. I checked and they do have a News page which provides updates. Those with smartphones may wish to check for delays or issues whilst waiting, or before starting their journey. The JustLocal blog entry was found within minutes by Google so a search of Google would have worked if I know about an issue in the local area but Metlink pages for the delay don’t appear. Trains are now working normal again on the Hurstbridge line.

Kelvin Eldridge

UPDATE: Sadly it appears the delay may have been someone was hit by a train at Montmorency this morning.

Eltham train disruption this morning

Trains from Eltham station to the city weren’t going this morning and a bus to Greensborough was needed. The government needs some form of advisory service for the public as this type of unexpected situation causes everyone grief and results in loss of confidence in the public transport system. The problem is bosses don’t care why people are late and it causes friction in the workplace. The bus to Eltham from Templestowe could have warned commuters so alternate travel plans could have been made. I pity the workers who have to face their bosses this morning.

Kelvin Eldridge  

UPDATE: Sadly it appears the delay may have been someone was hit by a train at Montmorency this morning.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

MELBOURNE'S 10 most violent railway stations aren't Eltham, Heidelbery or Box Hill

The analysis showed 45 per cent of all reported assaults occurred at Flinders Street, Dandenong, Broadmeadows, Footscray, St Albans, Ringwood, Bayswater, Frankston, Southern Cross and Thomastown stations.
I was pleased to read in this article in The Age, the local railway stations which are typically used by people from my local area weren’t in the top ten list of stations. Of course Southern Cross is a concern as it is one of the common destinations in the city.
I also liked reading that by being sensible and covering just 10 stations where 45% of the violence occurs, targeted use of enforcement resources may be able to make a difference for a lot of commuters. One of the concerns with public transport is always safety and poor safety can easily dissuade people from using public transport.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Monday, September 6, 2010

Data on obesity in Australia and other countries

I often hear people quoting various figures about Australia being one of the most obese countries do I decided to search for some current data and found the following site. On the site you can find a comprehensive Excel spreadsheet with a range of health related data.

OECD Health Data 2010 - Frequently Requested Data

I found the data on the increase in obesity (total of males and females) from 1980 (8.3%) to 2007 (24.8%) to be quite staggering. Until recently I was one of those people in the obese classification. Yes sometimes when I would walk and catch my reflection I thought there was a resemblance to Alfred Hitchcock, but honestly I didn't think or feel like I was obese. I was!

I worked out a method to lose weight and for the first time in  over a decade lost weight and continued to lose weight. Over 20kg. Often I'd lose a few kg, plateau, put it all back on and then continue to gradually put on weight. But with my new approach I got my weight under control and know what I need to do to keep my weight under control. I wrote a BMI/BRM calculator in which I share the basis of my approach.

The following is a list of the top obese countries based on the data provided.

United States (2008) 33.8%
Mexico (2006) 30%
New Zealand (2007) 26.5%
Australia (2007) 24.8%
United Kingdom (2008) 24.5%
Canada (2008) 24.2%
Ireland (2007) 23.0%
Luxemburg (2007) 20%

I also found the stats on tobacco use very interesting. The percentage of Australians over 15+ who are daily smokers has gone from  43% in 1964 to 16.6% in 2007. The message to give up smoking and the increasing tax does appear to have made a significant difference.

I was recently in Greece and noticed cigarettes are incredibly inexpensive. A carton for around $20-$30. When I looked at the figures for Greece which is 43% in 1987 to 39.7% in 2008 there hasn't been much change. This indicates to me the price of cigarettes makes a considerable difference to smoker participation.

I found these stats interesting and thought others might enjoy knowing about the statistics.

Kelvin Eldridge

Fr John Curtis with all that is left of the Holy Cross Church's statue of Jesus

Templestowe homestead faces demolition

Friday, September 3, 2010

New Smartbus 901 and 903 services for Templestowe

A number of new SmartBus services start soon with the advantage of more frequent services. Of interest to Templestowe residents will be the SmartBus route 901 which appears to go from Frankston via Templestowe to the Airport.

I can only imagine the journey will take quite a long time from Templestowe to the Airport, but at least we now might have a cost effective option. A two hour Metcard certainly beats the taxi fare.

The other service is the SmartBus Route 903 which goes to and from the City. From what I can see on weekends the existing 301 bus came more frequently during peak times, but then comes around every half hour during the day with a change of bus required after hours. On weekends you needed to change buses at Manningham Road. A pretty poor service really.

I recently used the SmartBus 908 service via Eltham to catch the train to go to the city. It isn't quick at around an hour and a half (transport time 52 minutes with the rest of the time waiting and walking), but at least the service is now more regular.

The 903 bus will obviously be the quicker way to get to and from the city as it goes via the freeway. The current 301 bus I would estimate would take around 45 minutes.

I'm often wonder about how environmentally friendly buses are. From what I read the average occupancy is around 10 people (we all see the empty buses travelling around) and their fuel consumption is very high.

The best option of course is to do as much as possible locally, which is why I started JustLocal.

I'm looking forward to giving the new buses a go and in particular seeing how the more regular weekend bus service goes.

Kelvin Eldridge

TIP: Daily Metcards are good value on Sundays. If you buy the 5 x Daily appears you can also use them on Saturday which means travelling by public transport on the weekend to and from the city can be very good value for one or two people.

Samsung galaxy and Acer Android range and why waiting may be a good idea

A number of people have recently asked me about Android and Apple mobile devices. My suggestion has been to keep in mind that between now and the end of year it looks like there is going to be quite some activity in the mobile market.

This year we will see Microsoft release their Windows 7 mobile phone operating system which will run on a number of manufacturers phones. Hopefully the lack of copy and paste won't annoy people too much or they could be in trouble.

I recently read an article about Acer releasing a range of mobiles using Android which won't be tied to contracts and available at retailers. You can check out the Acer range here. I can't help feeling the use of an older version 1.6 of Android on the lower end of the range will mean you'll have to check the mobiles out very carefully. The trade-off is probably going to be in price. Check out the technical specifications carefully. I noticed except for the Stream the Acer mobiles supported only the  B and G standards for Wi-Fi. This may or may not be important to some people.

In the area of tablets the iPad has the jump, but other companies are coming to the party. For example check out the Samsung Galaxy ( which is a 7" tablet. Very impressive. It has all the features of the iPad and then some. I did notice Samsung needs to bump up the spec for the camera though.

In the future we'll also see HP bring out mobiles and tablets using their WebOS operating system (originally by Palm). I sell quite a bit of HP equipment and my first pocket PCs were Compaq/HP, but I just wonder how well they'll do. I often sell HP computers with the Windows operating system, but I'd have to have very good reasons to consider WebOS,

Yes we are in for interesting times. I love gadgets and it will be very hard to resist. But in the end I like to get value from a gadget. The good thing for the moment is Apple is a pretty safe bet. You know what you're getting and you know they'll be around. But even the Apple 3G iPhone I saw some people buy on contract at the start of this year, can't take advantage of multi-tasking so mobiles do age very quickly. The market can change very quickly. If the Samsung Galaxy was available in Australia and cost the same as the entry level iPad, I'd seriously consider it over an iPad.

Yes we are indeed heading for interesting times in the mobile gadget market.

Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My take on the new Apple iPod Touch (iTouch) range just announced

I don't have an Apple iPod Touch (iTouch), but I did come close to buying one. As a result of reviewing the now older Apple iPod Touch models, I still have an interest in the iTouch and seeing how the new range stacks up.

Here are the things which caught my attention with a new range just released.

The old range consisted of the 8GB model which had the old processor ($268), a 32GB ($399) and 64GB ($549). The 32GB and 64GB units both had the new processor.

The new range now appears to all contain the A4 processor meaning we no longer having to make a choice between the slow processor (which potentially couldn't take advantage of all the features iOS4 such as multi-tasking when it was released) and this consistency makes the decision much easier.

The new models are 8GB ($289), 32GB ($378) and 64GB ($499). It is good to see the entry level price is still around the same as it was before.

This is where my requirements and interest may differ from others. My interest is in using the Apple iPod Touch (I call it the iTouch) as a portable computer so I can check the internet and my email whilst at home, or when out our near a free wireless hotspot. I'm not really interested in games, music or videos in general. I don't think the iTouch is the right device for taking pictures or videos, as without optical zoom it is very limited. However I have found many times a quick shot on the iPhone has been very useful, so whilst it isn't good enough as a camera/video replacement to me, it is still a very handy feature to have.

One additional feature of the iTouch which interests me is the ability to use Skype whilst in a wireless location such as home or when travelling. Whilst standing in the main centre of Athens (Greece) and being able to call the family at home for about three cents a minute (Skype charges as the internet access was free) was priceless for us and a fellow traveller.

Now what I'd really like is the iTouch with 3G data. I believe the parts only cost about $20-$30 more so one day it may happen.

For me the new retina display isn't a biggie. I find the current screen is good and I suspect the new screen will be better. But it isn't something that would compel me to buy the iTouch.

The addition of the cameras however now makes the iTouch a very useful device even though I have said it isn't a replacement for digital cameras or video cameras (yet).

Facetime to me is one of those "gee that's interesting, but do I really want to sit there looking at someone else whilst chatting". I'd much rather go and see them. But I can see the appeal of being able to see family and friends who are far away. In general there's something about video phones that doesn't appeal to me. One thought that came to mind is the iTouch would make a good mirror. How many times when eating at a restaurant have you thought I hope I don't have something caught between my teeth, or you are about to go to that meeting and wonder how your hair is sitting? Now to me that's handy.

HD recording is probably going to be one of those reasons to buy a unit with more memory rather than the entry level iTouch. However to me, HD recording is a little bit of an exaggeration. If I understand it correctly, it is HD recording in standard definition. To me it should be called SD recording. I think some people will be disappointed with the term HD being used. Again however having HD recording for those moments you wish to record will be very handy. I recorded a few things I wanted to capture whilst away recently and the videos were great to show others. Showing everyone how the Eiffel tower now sparkles of a night can really only be done with video.

The built-in speaker and microphone will undoubtedly work with Facetime, but I'm more interested to see if the iTouch will work with Skype as that opens up the possibility of using the iTouch as a wireless phone around the home and work. With iOS4 providing multi-tasking, I am interested in seeing how Skype performs on the iTouch.

The new iTouch now supports wireless N as well as B and G. That was expected and good to see.

One thing I am curious about is I've read, but can't confirm, the iPhone and possibly the iTouch might be able to use an external Bluetooth keyboard. This makes me curious. Carrying around a full size keyboard doesn't appeal to me, but neither does trying to type something of any length on the iTouch screen. I can see if an external keyboard does work, some form of portable external keyboard may become available.

Seven hours of video and 40 hours of audio means the iTouch can now be a good companion whilst travelling on discount airlines, or passing away some of those less exciting times on buses and trains. Perhaps even keeping the children entertained on a long trip. I could have really done with that in the past.

Another feature I'm interested in testing out is the external video connection options. I have an iPhone 3GS and have tried the external video cable, but I found the iPhone really heats up and that makes me worry it could cause damage to the battery. I'm interested in finding out what the "Support for 1024 by 768 pixels with Dock Connector to VGA Adapter" does. I almost get the feeling this is getting close to turning the iTouch into a very portable computer and I think that would be very interesting if it did happen. With a high resolution screen and an external wireless keyboard, the iTouch could easily go from portable device to desktop computer (albeit with less power, but still very usable). Unfortunately when I last tested the iPhone 3GS video output was only for playing videos and pictures. I would prefer to be able to display whatever is showing on the screen and that would enable me to read the internet on a large screen. I must go and see if iOS4 has improved this. I see Steve Jobs displaying what he has on his screen via the big screen and can't help wonder why it isn't available to everyone.

I am certainly looking forward to visiting my local Apple store in Doncaster to check out the new iTouch range. I wonder when they will actually have stock. I'll check that out next time I'm in the store.

Kelvin Eldridge


1. It appears photos can only be taken with the front camera which is VGA. The front and rear cameras can both take video. I always find it interesting the features that aren't included, so as not to take sales away from the dearer iPhone 4, or that then can later be included as part of the next release. I really don't know Apple's reasons. For many not being able to take a photo from the rear camera will leave them disappointed in the iTouch range. For me this means the 8GB looks more attractive because since it can't do photos from the rear camera, I wouldn't be using it for photos. I actually think this is very disappointing that Apple would do this.