Saturday, August 25, 2007

Shanghai vs LA: Building a Subway

An article in the LA Times today, Shanghai's Booming Subway, talks about the success Shanghai is having with the building of their public transportation infrastructure. Shanghai started in 1990, 4 years after LA started building the Red Line, and they're already on track to have one of the world's best systems.

It takes so long in LA and other American cities because so many proposals have to be vetted before so many people before anything gets approved. Most of the time, the NIMBYism takes over and no progress is made. By contrast, according to the article, this is what happens in Chinese cities:
At the risk of only slight oversimplification, the system works like this: Planners draw subway lines on a map. Party officials approve them. Construction begins. If anything is in the way, it is moved. If they need to, Chinese planners "just move 10,000 people out of the way," said Lee Schipper, a transport planner who has worked with several Chinese cities in his role as director of research for EMBARQ, a Washington-based transportation think tank. "They don't have hearings."

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Miro To The Rescue

This weekend I discovered Miro, an open source Internet tv and video player that can be installed on Linux [1]. I have been looking for an application like this for a long time. I am now using it (instead of iTunes) to manage my video podcasts.

I first added TeXtra, Geekbrief, and TikiBar as "channels", and then I discovered a few more video podcasts using Miro's "Miro Guide". I now plan to watch Google's engEDU series which features presentations made at Google about various tech topics.

It seems like I'm starting to watch a lot more video on the Internet. I would much rather be sitting on my family room couch while watching these videos instead of being at my computer desk in the office. I think I'm soon going to need a solution that will let me play these videos on my TV - preferably a Linux-friendly solution.

[1] There is an Ubuntu repository from which you can install and update Miro. Click here for details.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Arrested Development on the Pier

We went to see Arrested Development on the Santa Monica Pier this evening. It was a free concert that was a part of the Santa Monica Twilight Dance Series. They played a lot of hits, e.g. "Tennessee," "People Everyday" and "Mr. Wendal", from their early 90's album 3 Years 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life of....

Speech, the lead singer, thanked the crowd for supporting the band for 17 years. It is hard to believe they've been around that long. They didn't seem that old. I guess that's because I'm getting old.

I really liked Speech's voice and phrasing. I miss the time when bands like Arrested Development and Digable Planets were more prominent. I much prefer that brand of hip-hop (lighter, more rhythmic, and full of insightful social commentary) to what you hear on the radio today.

If you haven't been to any of the Twilight Dance Series events, I recommend you check it out. It is so nice to walk out onto the pier, watch the sun set, and then enjoy an open-air, free concert from a great band like Arrested Development. Good times.