Random query: ad impressions from my VIVA Next Bus Android app. Can you guess when the YRT/VIVA strike started happening?
(But why aren’t the ad impressions 0? I don’t know!)
Here is a problem with the TTC:
The 68 Warden (north of Steeles) is supposed to come every 20 minute or so, and should be spaced accordingly. Except, in real life, due to the riders or the drivers or traffic, it doesn’t happen that way! In this case, 40 minutes worth of buses going south are now approaching the same stop, and the next bus is 50 minutes away (instead of 20 minutes). Or at least that’s what they say, who knows if the next northbound bus is actually going to go north of Steeles?
Why are there 6 northbound Warden buses around 401?
VIVA typically doesn’t have this problem. Sure their drivers make $7 less per hour than TTC drivers, but maybe it’s because YRT invests those $7 into other job roles that make sure their buses are on time!
Ever since grade 8, I’ve relied on public transit in some capacity or another (although I do take long breaks awake when I have a personal car). I can only remember a transit strike affecting me once, which was back when I was in high school and I ended up riding my bike to school instead. The current YRT strike is the second time.
In reality, there is no large affect for this strike on me, I am fortunate that my work is supplied by both TTC and YRT/VIVA so I can switch over to using the TTC. Of course there is a lot of little frustrations and changes:
I just published my first Android app onto the Android market! There is no web interface for the market (I know, how can this be when the XBOX Marketplace and iTunes both have web presences), but you can see it on third-party sites like Appbrain.
I’ve also made a webpage for VIVA Next Bus so you can see it in all its glory! Well currently, it’s a “beta” but once I thoroughly use it in real-life conditions and add some finishing touches to it, I release an upgrade. But it’s certainly usable and fully-functional as it is now.
I’m kind of bummed that I actually had to pay $25USD in order to create a publisher account (and thus publish my app). I’m already contributing my unpaid work to the greater ecosystem and they want me to pay for this privilege? Well in that case, I better create some more apps to make my $25 worthwhile!
Once I got an Android phone, I think it was inevitable that I would start building apps for the Android platform. It was just a question of when, and that has now been answered.
This weekend I fooled around with building my own Android app. The idea I had in mind was to build an app that would tell me when the next VIVA bus would arrive. They have this information on their website, but you need to know a cryptic bus stop ID, punch everything into their form, and then read their page. An app is simple and straightforward.
The Android platform is pretty easy to use, much easier to get started than the Eclipse platform (which I do at work). They have a lot of good tools and assists that allow you to get going pretty quickly. One benefit that I like, coming from the Eclipse world, is the ability to quickly mock up UIs using XML and pre-existing controls. For example, the Preferences screen was surprisingly easy to do!
I was also able to embed a Google Map and plot the bus stops onto it pretty easily. Actually the most difficult part of this was to manually enter all the bus stop data (i.e., GPS coordinates) into an XML file.
It takes longer to build and polish than a web app, but building an Android app is still pretty easy!
You know what the say about March, “In like a lion, out like a lamb”. Well, here’s the lion. The drive home wasn’t too bad, I left an hour or an hour and a half early, and arrived home at my usual time. I made good progress on 7 since all the traffic was going the other way. I saw an interesting fellow who started brushing snow off of his dash, while driving, by reaching out of his window with his sweeper. So I guess I wasn’t too surprised when I later saw people out of their vehicles scraping ice off their windshield while waiting to turn left.
After that though, it started to get weird. I passed eleven (11!) stalled VIVA buses and spent an hour going up and down 2 hills. The first hill didn’t have any problems, and I’m not sure what was the slow down; but it was stop and stop traffic so I tried to pass the time by reading a book. The second hill was pretty incredulous, it was a VIVA bus obstacle course. At first, there were 3 VIVAs stalled at the side of the road, then there was another VIVA which was alternatively stalled trying to get up the hill, or moving slowly in the left lane. So all the cars had to do an S to get around these obstacles. Finally, the pièce de résistance was at the top of the hill, where there was a spread of 4 VIVAs blocking all three lanes at the top of the hill! Suddenly it’s not so smart to have accordian buses.
The rest of my trip was pretty tame, I came across two instances of abandoned vehicles in the left lane (?) and I couldn’t get in my driveway due to a snow drift.