I happened to pick up the September/October 2008 edition of the Greater Santa Ana Business Alliance's newsletter CityLine at The Depot at Santa Ana, and they had a fascinating article titled "Light Rail System Moving Closer to Reality." In essence, light rail will be a reality in five years, from the Metrolink station to Garden Grove: read more→
All blog posts for September 2008
We started microbiology labs this week and it's actually fun to see stuff grow. My friends — Ash, Jonny, Cliff, Jen, and Charitha — and I cracked open a bunch of agars and swabbed various things onto them and incubated them for 48 hours at 37ºC. This particular media has such a weird name: "Brain Heart Infusion agar (BHI) is a complete media used to cultivate a variety of fastidious organisms including bacteria and fungi." read more→
One of the great things about rapid buses is that with introduction of rapid bus service, most transit agencies push a fresher, more hip transit marketing effort. Take Metro. I'm a big fan of their style, and it's not undeserved: their work has won them a 10-page exposé in Communication Arts magazine's Interactive Annual 12. read more→
I just gave my last talk this Sunday morning at the DrupalCampLA conference. The talk brushed on elements that contribute to effective designs for social networking websites. It's heavily inspired by Joshua Porter's new book Designing for the Social Web, and includes insight on which Drupal modules help support user participation. I also cover my own personal Drupal case study, P=MD, a social networking site made for my friends; with that experience, I learned that recruiting and retaining users is a huge challenge and requires an additional marketing/publicity mindset (beyond design and development) and I learned that all these modules in Drupal provide amazing functionality but it takes additional effort to make them all work together into a coherent, usable website.
The presentation files are here in PDF form and includes bonus slides on (1) how to promote the sharing of with your website as a viral marketing tool, and (2) what modules can harbor the collective intelligence of your crowds (your site visitors). I can upload a Powerpoint or Keynote file if you e-mail me.
I had a wonderful time speaking and I loved meeting new friends in the audience. I hope I can help out again with DrupalCamp and other Drupal promotions in the future, because this was such a valuable experience for me. :) read more→
I just gave my first talk for the public today at DrupalCampLA! DrupalCampLA is a complimentary, open-to-the-public convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center covering the Drupal content management system, and I spoke about creating static corporate sites from the ground up. I had about 100 or more attendees, so it was a healthy crowd. read more→
Kudos to Metrolink for testing out sending system status alerts using bleeding-edge SMS text messages. According to Metrolink's post on Twitter,
We've been sending ‘tweets’ to our ‘followers’ since mid-August 2008 as a pilot program and we plan to continue to test Twitter's effectiveness over the next few months but we need your feedback. But first you have to subscribe. Visit twitter.com to learn how to set up your free account. Next, use your cell phone or computer and send the following message to 40404: follow Metrolink. You should get a confirmation that you are now following Metrolink.
What kind of messages does Metrolink send out? Take a look at their web feed at http://twitter.com/metrolink and you'll find nuggets such as "Antel. Vall. Line Train 222 is 28 min. late out of Lancaster". This is the kind of quality up-to-the-minute information commuters have been craving for when they've found out their train has been delayed for an ambiguous amount of time, and information that should be on every LED display at every station!
(By the way, this initiative is similar to the Caltrain twitter feed that Ravi Pina, a Tellme, set up, except his feed is user-powered and includes bits of train commentary like alerts for crotchety train conductors: http://twitter.com/caltrain ) read more→
Bravo! has a bright future ahead of it. OCTA's already talking about adding 6 additional rapid bus lines and 3 or 4 bus rapid transit or light rail lines to northwestern Orange County. Both OCTA and Los Angeles's Metro want to improve transportation between Los Angeles County and Orange County. read more→
I noticed there's some OCTA talk about making Metrolink-Amtrak-Coaster train services easier to use for first-time riders. They recently did focus group studies on how they could improve service along the LOSSAN corridor. In a memo on August 14, 2008 with the subject "Los Angeles-San Diego Rail Corridor Service Integration Focus Group Findings," OCTA notes that: read more→
A notable omission to Bravo! is the lack of a connection to John Wayne Airport. The closest it gets is Von Karman/Michelson, which is a pretty far walk from the airport. Its current route serves a lot of office complexes, but this would mostly be an area more appropriately served by commuter lines.
Another odd addition I've noticed is that Irvine Metrolink/Amtrak Station has a rapid bus connection. I've never seen stations so far away get this much attention, especially since the station was built primarily for commuters taking Metrolink. Irvine was built for cars and is nowhere near a walkable, sustainable community. Bus service within Irvine is notoriously infrequent (Irvine buses such as route 175 come every SEVENTY minutes). So having this suburban rapid bus connection makes no sense. It only seems to work if the Bravo Green Line operates primarily short trips.
Plus, I can't help but mention that we UC Irvine students are ready for more rapid transit options, but we're unfortunately stuck with the anemic ASUCI Shuttle system and a handful of commuter and community OCTA routes (read: infrequent service). Riders on line 79, which descends from Tustin through UC Irvine, must travel in standing-room only crowds in the mornings, but the bus comes every half hour to every hour. I wish UC Irvine had more green options. read more→