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Bussy ideas: what a great opportunity to write articles

Even though I generally don’t like slow traffic, today after work I managed to turn this to a kind of victory: most of what you see below was written on the bus trip. It was mere 50km but seems like the national day for beginning of the school year means a lot, traffic-wise. There were quite a lot of buzz.

What I understood on the way home was that in order to really gain insight to this project, where I’m talking about the mass transit systems, it would be really good to make some tabular examples.

I like to gather a simple model of traffic modes and then collect some rough data on properties for each of those modes. At first I came up with 9 modes and 2 properties. The first step would be to make a rough sketch of the model. It’s interesting how there are fundamental differences, like: a train can “skip” car traffic (railroads are unaffected by cars, at least directly). Airplanes don’t follow roads – but they follow certain other limitations. Train vs. flying? When should one pick a flight, when is train still more suitable perhaps due to economy, time, or the ability to either relax or do work during the trip?

The traffic is an interesting phenomena. It can be thought of as…

  • being a mechanical system
  • being a dynamic system (truly thinking of the traffic flows, queues and so on)
  • having certain costs for the individual and for anyone who is responsible of setting up the “circuits” (roads, rails, waterways) and any infrastructure related to those
  • traffic is ultimately there to enable people the movement and extend their capabilities, space-wise

There’s a lot at play when we’re thinking of mass transit systems. For example, one interesting property is that you can’t isolate the systems; you most likely could not “own entire circuits” (or eg. road systems) and then just plant precisely the required taxis or buses in there, and reap profits. Traffic doesn’t work that way. It’s an interplay between all the actors involved. Only railroads seem to be somewhat prone to be very controlled and even monopolistic.

Mass traffic (public transportation) is a kind of ever-hot potato, around the world. The level of its penetration (use) and sophistication varies probably quite a lot. The type of vehicles used also depends on geography; is the country mountainous or flat? Does the country stretch over a large area or is it small? Or something in-between?

More to come!

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Man. Stuff

It was a Wednesday, just like any Wednesday in September 2012. I’d gather my stuff, prepare to leave home, and stepped outside the front door – next, ordered the elevator, and then… and only then, I really started thinking. You know, the brain of an old fart like me doesn’t get switched on very early in the morning – the coding sessions (this time: first Ruby on Rails at around 00:30 the same night) take their toll. Not to mention Boy wonder! ­čśë

There, standing opposite me, the Mirror shows a man carrying a lot of stuff. I’ve got some PC gear (that is, my laptop and its auxiliary junk like mouse, charger, mousepad), a mobile charger, earphone wires hanging apparently from my head. A lot of junk! Could we do with less? Could we strip ourselves of almost every piece of hardware, and leave dressed casually – look like humans?

This has been the question for one eternity, namely from the beginning of man’s transformation towards a cyborg.

We carry stuff usually because of Expected Utility hypothesis. There might of course be some other reasons – fashion is not a bad pick of a guess, what do you think?

But hey, what’s that ‘Utility’? The word brings me instant memories of some board games and the.. ah, now I get it! Monopoly and those utility companies: electric company and water works.

The “utility” in everyday sense can be translated to mean a haphazard but quite workable estimate of “the worth of a gadget in particular situation(s)”. Since it’s an estimate, it should have some kind of enumerable value, perhaps just a number between 0-10. Number 10 means that you absolutely know the object is worth carrying, whereas a 0 means you are definitely wasting time carrying that item around.

There are certain norms that almost anyone abides. Let’s start with – clothes. It’s a safe bet to say that no matter where you’re reading this article, your genitals will be covered when you’re going out of the door. So what should we do with underwear, conserning our valuation scheme? Are they a “number 10” or should we omit underwear from the list since they’re kind of “assumed to be always with us” ?

I’ll continue with writing the part II: The “Get all” strategy. Meanwhile, feel free to comment!