Saturday, December 28, 2019

Replace New Year's Eve Fireworks with an App

There have been some calls for new year's eve fireworks to be cancelled in Australia, due to bush-fires. Perhaps they could be replaced, at least in part, by spectators' smart phones. The idea would be to have each person hold up their phone, which would display part of a coordinated pattern. This would be similar top the effect where those in a stadium hold up colored cards on cue, but could form a much faster changing, more vibrant pattern. This could supplement laser light shows and displays projected on buildings. This would also turn people from spectators, into active participants in the show, as well as avoiding setting off pyrotechnics during a total fire ban.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Carryon Backpack for Travel

Caribee Sky-Master
Carry On Bag
For a recent trip to Singapore and Indonesia, I purchased a Caribee Sky-Master 40L Carry On Bag, which worked very well. I had booked some budget airline flights, which did not include checked baggage. My old wheeled bag was heavy, and took up a considerable part of the carry-on allowance. So I looked for a light bag, carry-on size, which also had backpack straps. 

There is a bewildering rage of carry-on bags. I wanted one which did not have wheels, or a frame, to save weight, and  looked more like a bag, than a backpack. Also I wanted one which opened up flat, and ideally, had compartments. With many backpacks you have to stuff clothes in through a narrow opening in the top.

First  I purchased a Cotton On Foldable Cabin Bag. This zipps down the middle and opes to reveal two zipped mesh compartments, making it easy to pack. It weighs very little, however it had no backpack straps (just a shoulder strap). Also it is made entirely of fabric, so does not retain its shape, making it more difficult to carry.

Shorty before my trip I purchased the Caribee Sky-Master. Like the Cotton On bag, this zips open and has two mesh covered compartments. One compartment is slightly larger and has compression straps. It also has backpack straps, and a foam plastic back-plate which keeps it in shape. The backpack straps can be concealed in a zippered compartment, and are very comfortable in use. There is a carry handle on one end and on the side, allowing it to be carried as a small suitcase. There is an outer zippered compartment for small items, but I found that I tended to open it too far and they fell out.

While luggage sellers make much of conforming to airline carry-on bag restrictions, when I cam to pack my bag I found that weight, was the limiting factor. My first flight, from Sydney to Singapore, had a limit of 10 kg, which I was able to meet, but the second flight, to Yogyakarta, was limited to 7kg. If you fill a carry-on size bag it is very difficult to get it under 7 kg. At this stage of my travel, my bag had increased to 12 kg, so I purchased extra checked luggage allowance. By the time of my third flight, the bag had got to 20 kg (with all the shopping, and fortunately I had checked baggage with the last ticket. 

In the dining car
Even if you do not carry your bag on the aircraft, a carry-on size bag has advantages, in terms of freedom of movement. I was easily able to meet the Yogyakarta to Jakarta Train limit of 20 kg. Also one relatively small bag is much easier to get on and off ground transport, such as a Yogyakarta local bus. The extreme test of this was on a commuter train at rush hour in Jakarta.

ps: Caribee might consider making this bag simpler and lighter. The backpack straps could be made removable (as the shoulder strap is). There would then be no need for a zipped compartment on the back to hold the straps. The smaller compartment on the front could be given a lip, so items don't fall out when it is opened, or this could be omitted (this would make security much easier, as the bag with then have just one zip).

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Wireless Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones for Travelling

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC500BT
Noise-Cancelling Headphones
For a recent trip, to Singapore and Indonesia, I purchased Audio-Technica ATH-ANC500BT Wireless Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones. These are reasonably priced, over the ear headphones, which cut down the roar of an aircraft's engines. They worked well on three planes and a long distance train. 

This is my first pair of cordless headphones and I found it a relief not to wake up on an aircraft entangled in wires. The batteries last long enough for the flight from Sydney to Singapore. The controls are simple: one switch turns on both Bluetooth and the noise reduction function (you don't have a choice of one or the other). There are volume up, down and pause buttons.

On the Yogyakarta
to Jakarta Train
The audio cable with 3.5mm plugs (provided) worked fine plugged into the aircraft system. With the cable the headphones will worked without power, but then without noise reduction. The Bluetooth function worked well.

I did wish the headphones were a little more compact. The ear-cups rotate so they can be laid flat, but they do not hinge in, so are still quite large. I bought the blue, rather than black model, so they would be easier to see in a dark aircraft, but they could do with some bright highlights as they are still hard to see (but does makes them unobtrusive). That said, I have no regrets with this purchase.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Mount Merapi

Mount Merapi is an active volcano near the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta. This photo was taken from the balcony of a hotel downtown, during the TALE 2019 conference. In 2006 I arranged for the Australian Computer Society to fund Indonesia students to work on adapting the Sahana open source disaster management software if needed for an expected eruption of Merapi. Fortunately this did not happen.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Flight over the Australian Desert

On the long flight back from Jakarta to Australia after TALE 2019, I noticed an aircraft below, dwarfed by the vast desert.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Skytrain Jakarta Airport

Skytrain (from Wikipedia)
Arrived at the new Terminal 3 of Soekarno–Hatta International Airport's new Terminal 3, after a ride on the free Skytrain, from the Railink station. This is a small rubber tired shuttle on an elevated track between the three terminals. It is designed to be automated, but there was a driver perched on a stool at front, with just a tape separating them from passengers.This was my fourth, and hopefully last, train ride for the day.

Terminal 3 is very new and very large: the shuttle stopped in front of what I thought was the front of the building, but when I looked up there was a roof high above us. Facilities are still be installed: the "street food" so far consists of burgers and pizza. There are free showers, but I was not offered a towel, or soap.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

On the Jakarta Airport Train

Greetings from the Jakarta airport train ("Railink") to Soekarno–Hatta International Airport. I took the train from Yogyakarta after the IEEE TALE 2019 engineering education conference, then one stop on a crowded commuter train to transfer to the airport express at Manggarai. The only difficulty was that the station is being rebuilt, so to get from the old commuter platform to the shiny new airport one, I had to balance along the edge of the platform, with busy commuters coming the other way, then walk cross the tracks. I then went up an escalator into a different world of space, and helpful staff. The train appears to have more staff than passengers, the conductor explaining Friday is the peak time. Also the warned me that at Duri the train changes direction. One improvement would be to have the train display the next destination: currently the display tells you the temperature and the speed of the train, which are not as important as where to get off.

On the Yogyakarta to Jakarta Train

In the dining car
Greetings from the Yogyakarta to Jakarta Train. I was in Yogyakarta for the IEEE TALE 2019 engineering education conference. The train, as recommended by Seat 61 is  very comfortable.
Small Hut Over Water on the Jararta Line
We left on time, and the coffee and rice lunch was okay.There power to  each seat and the mobile data service works.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Bright lights of Yogyakarta

Bright lights of Yogyakarta
I took this photo from a pedestrian overpass in Yogyakarta, last night. It was late and so the street was now as busy as during the day. I am here for the IEEE TALE 2019 engineering education conference. I arrived during a downpour, and foolishly decided to catch the local bus from the airport, rather than take a taxi, or wait for the rain to stop. Just finished drying out. 

On the bus from Yogyakarta Airport