Monthly Archives: September 2013

Don’t do in Melbourne

  • Don’t go to the skydeck – waste of money imho. For a free alternative with a view for peeing, Sofitel near Parliament Station, take the lift to the “No 35″ restaurant on the floor with that number, head to the right above the Sofitel lounge to the toilets. If there’s not a function on in the corner room, you should be able to wander in there and have a peek over a 90 degree view from the MCG on the left to the Crown precinct.
  • Don’t get a boat ride up and down the yarra – also a waste of money AND boring
  • Walk up Lygon street if you must, but don’t eat there. you’re paying for location in most cases. Further up in Brunswick there are some great restaurants on Lygon St.
  • Avoid KingSt/CBD late at night on weekends. the city is full of idiots, and there’s not enough cabs. If you want to see nightlife, Try Fitzroy/Brunswick/StKilda/Richmond. there’s plenty of places to go without needing to go to the CBD
  • Do not get on public transport assuming you can buy a ticket onboard. the inspectors love tourists for revenue reasons. you need to buy them BEFORE you get onboard. “being a tourist” isn’t an excuse for the inspectors.
  • If someone begs for money for public transport tickets, they’re almost certainly lying
  • If someone begs for money and they’re wearing new nikes, it’s almost certain they’re junkies
  • Typical “australian food” is generally something from overseas. we don’t drink Fosters. we don’t eat Shrimp.
  • Don’t leave home thinking the weather will stay the same all day. wear layers that can be removed and added as needed.
  • Don’t go to Waterfront City. It’s a soulless retail stockyard that offers absolutely nothing of value.
  • Don’t go to the beaches close to the CBD. Try and head down the coast. Bonus point (if you haven’t read yet), try and get a car and go down the great ocean road.
  • Are you English? If so, DO NOT talk about cricket, the recent Lions tour, the Tour de France, how successful you were during the Olympics, and any other sporting fields that you’re currently performing better than us.
  • Do not go to Crown unless you’ve never seen a casino before.
  • Do not give money to the whiny hustlers in the CBD.
  • Don’t just wander about and end up eating wherever you are when you’re hungry; there’s a crazy good density of high quality food in melbourne. unfortunately, the good is often surrounded by dodgy, so-so, ‘meh'; Brother Bada Budan has half a dozen cafes within 50 metres, which will serve you something satisfactory, but lacks that ‘omfg how on earth can they make this god-nectar?’ of a truly special melbourne coffee experience.
  • If you go to the Dandenongs and want to see a view of Melbourne without having to pay $5 just to park at Sky High, go a little further along to Eyre Rd Mt Dandenong (next to the tv/radio towers). There’s a great view just a short walk down the trail.
  • Don’t tell people you don’t like footy or walk away when someone starts talking about footy. Just nod and agree.

Great tips from here.

Great way to find the perfect Avocado

PerfectAvocadoI have been looking for a way to describe how to tell the perfect avocado, and here it is:

Take your finger and touch your forehead. You feel how hard that is? If it were an avocado it wouldn’t be ready yet. Now touch your cheek. Soft! Too soft, it would be overripe. Now take your finger and poke at the tip of your nose. There you go. It’s a nice gentle squeeze, a little bit of give. That avocado is ready for you. Go for it.

If you don’t want them today, but in a week, you can buy them slightly harder.

Designing a new app: Melbourne Trams part 4

tramsIcon72@2xSo we have all the data, massages it so it is mostly correct, now we can use it.

The hard bit comes up, and here is where we do a huge cheat. Since we already have transport apps for the London Underground, Paris Metro, New York Subway, we can just plug in the data, update the interface, and we have  fully working app. We even have route calculation, since we had this in the other apps. All working offline.

But this stuff isn’t that hard, except for the routing algorithm. Even that was quite easy, and fun to work on.

What is next, well we have uploaded version 1 to the app store, and then we wait for Apple to accept it. And we have already added trains to v1.1, and are getting the bus data right now as well. And then the bike share system, so this will be a full transport app.

iOS Simulator Screen shot 16.09.2013 5.43.52 PM

Designing a new app: Melbourne Trams part 3

All public transport apps now require a geojson file, which indicated the area that is covered. The file is annoying in that it requires reverse the normal coordinates for GPS, normally you put a point as (latititude, longitude), and this file required (longitude, latitude).

Use this website to test your file:

Here is our file for Melbourne

{ “type”: “MultiPolygon”,
“coordinates”: [
[[ [144.0,-38.9], [ 144.0,-37.0], [ 146.0,-37.0 ], [ 146.0,-38.9],[ 144.0,-38.9] ]]

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 3.26.47 PM

Designing a new app: Melbourne Trams part 2

tramsIcon72@2xOnce we have the name of the all the stops, we need to find there GPS locations. This is not easy to do, but there are a number of APIs used to geocode a location. These are not perfect, and they certainly don’t have tram stops in them, so you get somewhere nearby, if you are lucky. First run we end up with stuff like this.


MelboureTramsGeocode1This is not bad, we can see most of the stops for route 2 are around a similar location, and in a line that a tram could follow. But there is a few stops out of the way, there is no way the tram transports to Altona for one stop, and who knows where those other stops are? Not in Melbourne, that is for sure.

If we zoom out on the map, we can see that there are some stops not in Australia, possible I should have added “Melbourne, Australia”, when looking up the street address. Will try to avoid that mistake in the future.

Anyway, we would have to massage the data anyway, there are too many streets with confusing names, and even in the city we have stops with the same name but in different locations.

The only way to fix this is to go in and find the actual tram stops, and change the GPS locations we have recorded.

We have hard coded in the correct line colours for the different tram routes though, and that is coming through.

Designing a new app: Melbourne Trams part 1

tramsIcon72@2xThe first step is getting all the data, which in this case consists of all the Tram lines and stops. Once we find a source for that, and I found a decent one at, we need to get it into a proper format. We start by entering all the data into a spreadsheet, then adding the correct suburb to the street name, and then splitting it into two columns, the route no and direction in one column, then a field with all the destination stops in order. This means we can paste them directly into a text file, then massage the data into a plist format, to be read by the application.

Now we can write a parser to read in the array, then go through and pull out all the stops. There are two stops for every location, just as in Melbourne there are two stops, each going in different directions. So now we have two more arrays, one with all the locations, and one with all stops, which should be twice as big. Lots of locations will appear more than twice, since trams intersect with each other. More than one tram route can go to each stop.


Another parser goes through all the stops, and queries google for a GPS location. This is reasonably accurate, but may need some tweaking. We will see how accurate when this stage is done.MelbourneTramsSpreadsheet

After this stage, the app will correctly tell use where the closest stops to us are, and what routes go along those stops.

Just in time for the Melbourne Show

RoyalShowMelbourneAustralia2013Back in Australia just in time for the Melbourne Royal Show. We never went to the show when we were kids, so now is the chance to make up for some missed out rides and all the corn dogs you can eat. While corn dogs might not be the best food, it is great to actually find them in Australia.