Saturday, December 19, 2009

From Saving Water to Wasting Energy

Anybody service their car from Robert Lane? Robert Lane use to have a nice deal where they wash and polish your car and clean the interior out at "no extra cost". It's part of their service committment, but undoubtly you do pay for it. They still clean the interiors, but due to water restrictions, they give out free vouchers to use at those auto car washes at Shell. So they go from saving water, to wasting energy. If only companies could think more holistically...

Melbourne needs unique trams

Melbourne needs unique looking trams, yes, but the W class trams aren't the solution. As a world class city, trams are one of our cities unique selling points. However, with more and more cities world wide adopting them, can they continue to be a differentiator in the future? A unique design language for our trams need to be adopted.

I propose unique front and rear ends, specified specifically for our city. It has to be something designed by us, and not corporate. Sorry Yarra trams, screw you!! Let's get Melbourne's best industrial designers together and come up with something good. Could it be based on the much loved W-class? Maybe...

Myki - why it's needed

Forget the incompetence of Kosky, DOT and KAMCO. Myki when it's finally working as proposed should be a good system. Like every other Melburnian I have my 2 cents on this issue. I think the system is needed, the old metcard although functional, won't be able to deliver a system that's repsonsive to Melbourne's needs into the future.

The main thing going for myki, and the whole point of it is tracking. The reason why they want us to sign in and sign off, is so they can find out where we're going, how many of us are using it, and where to put resources.

The system also paves the way for new innovate fare structures and a possiblity of direct refunds if there is consistant underperformance on the network (no more filling out useless forms!).

So let's get on with it. Test it live, and fix the problems as we go. That's the only way.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Metro's first priority should be customer services

I would rate Metro's first month in Melbourne a fail. Sure they have a nice website, but it's what patrons see and hear everyday that counts. So far, it appears metro's priority is branding rather than customer service, and that's a huge blunder.

One wonders why they bother with brand promotion at such an early stage, when service levels are still poor. It just reinforces a negative brand perception. Do we really need to be reminded at each stop that "Metro" is arriving at? Who authorized such a stupid branding procedure, and why are our tax dollars being used to pay for it? Surely a common sense "Does this add value?" approach should be used. Does changing the arrival annoucement add any value? NO!

So what does add value? Thinking about how customers use trains. Can we add powerpoints for people to charge their mobiles and laptops? Can we offer a free wifi service at stations? Can we offer customers are chance to design their own timetables and vote for them?

There many, many more important things than branding at this moment. Hopefully metro gets a clue and starts thinking about them.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Should all Melbourne Premium Stations have ATMs?

A few years back, I remember reading an article in a Beijing newspaper at the outrage of the lack of ATM facilities in their new subway system, and can't help but find a similar problem here in Melbourne. Apart from Flinders St, which stupidly awarded ANZ sole rights, why aren't there more ATM's in conveninent locations for us to use them?

The lack of commercialization of our train stations is surprising given the massive foot traffic that passes through the system every day. Is this a department of transport issue, or is it an issue with the train operators? Or is it a security issue? Surely its not a commercial issue.

Either way a solution must be found. Is there any other things our train stations lack? What should the new operators MTM be looking at to improve our system?

Protecting the Australlian education industry

Once again I'm reading about a drop in international student enrolments and can't help but think this is linked to the rising Australian dollar. Unfortunately parents of foreign students and foreign students themselves may not have access to buy large amounts of Australian dollar to mitigate this rise.

Can a solution to this be found by pegging the price of education in Australia to a fixed amount of foreign currency? For instance can education authorities analyse the average cost of education in Australia over a 10 year period, and fix the price in the mid band? Say it costs between 30000 Chinese Yuan and 50000 Chinese Yuan over a 10 year period, can authorities fix the price at 40000 Yuan over the 3 year course? Obviously this is oversimplistic, but i'm sure their are several market mechanisms that can be used to mitigate risk for students. Insurance schemes could be one of them and large subscription based education fund could be another. There are many possibilities. Ensuring stability in this industry is important. Having students quit half way due to the rising dollar would be a disaster.

Please leave a comment to discuss.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Would you like a paper reciept?

That's going to be the catch cry for future supermarket checkout chicks, if indeed in the future there will be checkout chicks (self service machines are slowly taking over). Besides the obvious environmental (less trees chopped down) and economic benefits (reduced inventory costs), going electronic will actually improve the customer service experience. "Tracking" mark my words is the next big thing in the supermarket customer service experience. Customers googling their spending habits. Now it's going to be so much easier.

So how will it work? There are several possibilities.
1) Online. Once your transaction is finished, your scan your loyalty card and the reciept is automatically delivered in pdf/other format to your online supermarket account. Should you decide to print it out, you can also do that. In the future, if you lose your reciept it won't necessarily be gone forever. No more picking through dirty laundry to track down those buggers!

2) Via email. Don't have a loyalty card? Give them your email, and the cash register will send it directly to your email account.

3) Via Mobile phone. Don't trust the checkout chick to get it right? Send it to your mobile phone for instant review.

Two issues that will be the key to get this right is privacy and protecting the integrity of the data. Woolies, Coles, who'll take the lead?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What killed Ringwood? (besides Eastlink and bogans)

Driving down Maroondah Highway one can't help but get the feeling that you're driving down a ghost town, or one that is dieing a slow a painful death. Ringwood, once a vibrant suburban community has been cut in two by Eastlink and now the Global Financing Crisis (GFC).

So what can be done to rectify this? One has to start at it's head to find the solution. First impressions count, and when entering from Heatherdale Rd, you immediately see abandoned businesses. The old Holden dealership abandoned, and as you progress to the heart of town the clock tower, you'll find more abandoned businesses and a row of "smut" (tattoo parlours and strip clubs).

The widening of Maroondah Highway to allow cars to enter and exit Eastlink is a permenant road block to the revival of Ringwood. 6 lanes of highway is intimidating. Therefore a traffic solution must be engineered to fix this, so that more parking is available for businesses and importantly to encourage pedestrian traffic back. When your veins are blocked, how can the heart function?

As we progress deeper into the shopping district, more signs of decay, the abandoned Ringwood market and old post office left in decay. Ringwood market has been closed for 10+ years, and suitable replacement has not been found for it. Personally I think the site would be perfect for a Bunnings, or a hardware store competitor from the new Woolworths startup. The parking spaces, connection to the Coles/Target/Aldi and Eastland would really fill a gap.

One can't help but think this is state and local government planning issue. Ringwood is a transit hub that needs to be developed. Holistic thinking is required to transform the transport, retail and office districts into a coherenet space. Come on Brumby, get a taskforce onto it. Local members can only do so much.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Alfresco Dining for non-smokers

As a lover of alfresco dining, I'm appalled that smokers are given the best seats in the house in summer. I want to reclaim this area for families and those that enjoy a smoke free environment. So what are some possible solutions?

1) As a trial Melbourne City Council should enforce a no smoking zone down the famous Lygon Street strip and ban outdoor smoking. Those that don't comply could have their permit for outdoor seating revoked. Quite a heavy handed approach here, and I'm not sure the council has the politcal will take on restaurant owners and their buddies in the hotel industry.

2) Provide discount outdoor seating permits to restaurants that don't allow smoking outdoors. Melbourne City Council should consider providing incentives to encourage restaurants to follow a no outdoor smoking policy.

3) Allow outdoor smoking, but enforce mechanical ventilation of these outdoor areas. That way restaurants that make the choice not to allow outdoor smoking, don't have to worry about smoke drifting into their zone by neighbouring restaurants. I consider this approach to be very pragmatic and encourages restaurants to take responsibility for allowing certain actions that affect others. The biggest challenge here is finding a technical solution that will work.

4) Go for a statewide ban on smoking at restaurants. Something I believe is inevitable but will take time.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Top 5 Out of the box solutions to tagging

1) Send taggers to design school. Are taggers looking for a creative outlet? Why not hone their skills, and lead them to a more productive path in society?

2) Make tagging tools non-permanent and cheaper. The philosophy behind this is that you can't stop tagging. Let's admit defeat. For whatever reason, kids/adults will want to tag to gain attention or rebel. Efforts in the industry so far have been focused on making paints and surfaces more resistant to spray paint and permanent markers. The other side is make spray paint and permanent markers less permanent. Using some sort of soluble ink, the effects of these will wash off if it rains, or is doused with a water based solution. Further, by making these tools significantly cheaper than their permanent cousins, it's hoped that these tools will became the "taggers choice".

3) Use humour against taggers. Touch up their tag with is a "moron" or is an "amateur".

4) Use exploding ink against taggers. Similar to those that you would find in department stores, taggers would be exposed to easily indentifiable ink, if they entered a secured area.

5) Use manure surrounding walls with frequent attacks. If they want to tag, they better get ready to smell and step in poo.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

RFID is the future for Apple portable products

Forget video recording & FM playback, the next innovation that will drive the uptake of portable consumer devices is Radio Frequency Identity (RFID). An innovation that will hopefully spur better sustainable or social choices from the consumer.

Goleman's new book Ecological Intelligence discusses how the lack of information from manufacturers, lead to sub-optimal choices. As a consumer we don't know the CO2 trail of products, we don't know if child labour is used to make a certain product. RFID could be the missing link.

As Dara O'Rouke from Good Guide explains, products could be embedded with an electronic tag that transmits radio signals which can automatically alert your mobile phone to display a green or red colour.

I figure, whether it displays red or green could be according to the user defined rules that you input into your ipod, iphone, or other mobile device. Say we want a product that is produced with the least amount of CO2 emissions. Our phone after recieving the radio frequency can automatically look up a database and respond with an easy to intrepret colour choice. As an encouragement/punishment to manufacturers, products that don't include these tags, could automatically display red.

I think coupling this technology with Apple's mainstream appeal, could see the technology really take off, and start influencing product manufacturers to jump on board. Having more information can ultimately influence our choice on goods, and help promote positive changes in terms of the environment and social justice.

So if you want to see this change, talk to apple, and the major mobile phone manufacturers. Let's make this technology happen, and enact a positive change!

Hybrid Camry made in Coal Central

An inconvenient truth for Toyota is that any benefits in reduced fuel consumption and CO2 emissions from the locally built Hybrid Camry is probably offset by manufacturing the car in Victoria, which is fueled by dirty brown coal power plants.

If they are to live up to their green credentials, they should threaten future investment, unless the Victorian government wises up with regards to brown coal power plants. Otherwise, this could be another local example of "Greenwashing".

For consumers, let Toyota know your feelings towards coal power. Let's make a "real" difference. Oh what a feeling! Clean air!

Is the Royal Melbourne Show still relevant?

$65 for a family to enter to buy show bags of goods made in china, crap fast food and play the same old amusement parlour games from 50 years ago. Sure there are the animals shows and community events but is this enough of an incentive to keep people coming? Has the Royal Melbourne show become a crass money making event for show bag and fast food vendors?

For me, it seems the Royal Melbourne Show needs a new direction to make it relevant for families and the local community again. Let's bring back some local content. Let's make the showbags more sustainable. Should show organizers impose a minimum local content in show bags? Should the content be more ecologically sustainable, instead of the throw in rubbish made in china crap that usually litters these show bags? Should "green bags"be used instead of the cheap plastic bags as standard. Can we involve local designers to design the show bags?All relevant questions, and something the community should be demanding.

Another issue that needs addressing is the cost of entry? Has it become prohibatively high for the majority of struggling families? I would like to see the organizers justify the cost of the show. Let an accountant in and show where costs are going. If the price is justified, then so be it, but organizers need to look at more ways to get struggling families in. Get struggling families involved in the preparation and then offer them discounts for their help.

That's not to say the Melbourne Show is complete crap. It's a Melbourne institution and it's involvement of the wider community is to be commended. But like all thing it can be improved with our input. Get involved people!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Do icecream vans add to the liveability of melbourne suburbs?

I'm sure many of us have fond memories growing up of the icecream van coming by, the sweet musical lyrics drawing us out of our homes in summer to get a soft serve cone, or gelati. These days this icecream van tune seems all but a distant memory with only a few ageing vendors still in the business. Can something be done about this?

As a community, we should come together and stick up for the things that make life fun. We talk about sustainability, and protecting our children's future. That's all good and well, but let's not forget that finer details too. Things like icecream vans and milk bars. These also need be protected.

How can this be done? Should councils consider employing an icecream van driver in the summer months with any profits being put back into the community? Would this be better served by a local IGA sponsoring an icecream truck? The increased buying power of local councils or a supermarket like IGA could ensure a quality product being onsold to our kids. It would be shame if these icecream vans just peddled the mass manufactured stuff we get from nestle or streets.

The livability of a city is composed of thousands of different elements. Do you think icecream vans are part of this web? Get a discussion happening with your local community group if you think it does.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Melbourne's New B-grade Stadium?

Architecturally, the new soccer & rugby stadium is worthy of praise. Aswell as this, it has some great environmental design features. However, what we're hearing now is that this stadium is not fit for Fifa world cup regulations, due to its capacity, and hence can't be used to host any world cup games. What a lack of foresight!

According to an article on Fox sports, Fifa requires a minimum capacity of 40,000 to host games, and this stadiums maximum is 31,000. 9000 extra seats? How much does that cost? Surely, the boost in economic income from securing a world cup could have justified the cost? Now our bid seems a bit shaky.

Some may argue that Docklands is an alternative venue, but with so many other sports and events going on, there's already pressure on the Victorian government to build another stadium. AFL clubs want a better stadium deal, and with footy holding such a sway in town, does that mean another couple hundred million will be spent on a new stadium?

Do we really need another stadium Melbourne?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Melbourne as a catalyst

These were made with my amateurish gimp skills. What can you come up with? Somebody make an m&m's mashup with the melbourne city logo!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

City vs Suburbs - Is the new undercity loop win/win?

  • 100 million underground station at Parkville.
  • 14 extra trains an hour to western and northern suburbs.
  • Links from inner city to the west to Stkilda rd district.

On paper there seems to be something for everyone here. It's a nice showcase project for Brumby to bring to the next election, given public transport could potentially be a achilles heel issue for him.

The question people from the suburbs, particuarly those in the outer suburbs should ask, is this really good value for money for them? There are those that argue that the inner city is already well serviced by many modes of transport. They have trams, trains and buses that run frequently compared to the suburbs which have only buses which run every 30 minutes or so.

Of course, with a growing population, many will argue that there is always room to expand capacity, and that's what Brumby is doing with this project. There are benefits of having a denser and more populated inner city, which will bring a new vibrancy and buzz to town. Then again, will there be more violence and crime?

What about those that argue for a decentralization of Melbourne? Development of so called transport hubs in the "middle suburbs". So people can work more locally, rather than take the hike into or across town? Are these too hard, or importantly less visible for a premier preparing for an election?

Unfortunately this project is likely to reinforce the "Tale of two cities". A great inner city, and CBD, and those "wasteland" suburbs. How long can these wasteland suburbs be swept under the rug before rearing their ugly head in terms of cbd and innercity violence?

So what do you think? Is it time for some political leadership, in order to tackle outer suburban infrastructure?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Doyle's lack of consultation is dissapointing

Is anybody else annoyed that the New Year's Eve fireworks display is being moved to Birrang Marr? The first I heard of this proposal was after the decision was made to go ahead with it. For such a significant change, surely this proposal should have been floated and debated publicly before a decision was made behind closed doors?As a proud Melburnian, I like to think we have an input it what shapes our city. What's next, moving Moomba to docklands ?

This seems to be endemic of the current Lord Mayor. Doyle seems like a good bloke, he gets ideas out there to be debated, but his failure on several key issues including the Melbourne City logo is damning against him and his team.

Message to Doyle and team. Consult us more. Get us involved.

Now, to the actual proposal. I think it has merit. The Commonwealth games showed that using our skyline as a backdrop to fireworks can have good results. I'm willing to give it a go, but would like the option to go back to Princess bridge and Flinder st, if the results are something to be desired.

Monday, August 17, 2009

VCA (M) Option B

Walked past the tent city outside of the VCA today, and couldn't help thinking about what alternatives the VCA has to maintain the integrity of it's school. Is it wishful thinking to believe with enough community pressure, Melbourne Uni will change it's mind and stop the merger of VCA and the faculty of music? (Especially given the university has lost millions in last year's financial meltdown). To the optimists, and to those that value the arts, I say no. There most definetly should be a fight.

However, given i'm a pragmatist, I have a tendancy to not place too much hope that the greater "good" will prevail, doubly so when there is large amounts of money involved. So what are the options? I think having two "silo" faculties divy up the funding is out of the question. If a merger is forced, the stakeholders need to look beyond the usual zero sum game, and look for innovative ways forward.

Is there a way to combine the strengths of the two faculties, and develop new courses utilizing both? Whilst, at the same time maintaining the "cores" of the respective faculties? Some may argue that these faculties are too specialized, and it's simply not possible. But I say, it's up to us, to define the undefined. Isn't that what arts/music is about?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Answers to Resource Smart Quiz!

Enter to win a $10K sustainable home makeover + educate yourself on sustainability.

Quiz can be taken here:

1) What temperature should you set your thermostat in winter?
Answer 18 -20 degrees C

Why? The lower the temperature the less energy used to heat your house. Less black balloons. Better for environment.

2) When buying an air conditioner you should look for models with:

Answer: a 4.5 Star energy rating.

Why? The higher the number of stars the more energy efficient.

3) What does one black balloon represent?

Answer: 50g of green house gas.

Blackballoons are way we can visualise our harm to the environment.

4) What percentage of materials are recovered for recycling or reused by Byteback drop off points?

Answer: 97%

Byteback dropoff points are places where you can drop off old computers. Lets get these things recycled rather than sending them to the tip.

5) How much longer do energy saving globes last than regular globes?

Answer: 8 times longer.

Yes, they are more expensive, but they pay for themselves in running cost and running life. Easy way to save energy.

6) Power sourced from renewable energy like the sun, wind, water and waste is called what?

Answer: green energy

Talk to your energy, water retailer for more info on how to source green energy. A few extra dollars can make a huge difference.

7) How many plastic checkout bags are used in Victoria every year?

Answer: Around 1 billion

Do we need a plastic bag for small non food items? Green bags are an alternative people.

8) What is one benefit of installing a solar hot water system?

Answer: You could save 75% of your water bill.

The actual amount varies depending on your location, but there is a defined pay back period, after which you can pocket yearly savings.

9) How many litres of water per person per day should we be using to help us preserve out water storage?

Answer: Target 155

4 minute showers. Wash clothes when washing machine is full. Dual flush toilets. water saving taps. That's how you can save.

10) How many litres does a single flush toilet use up?

Answer: 11

Renovating a home? Consider a dual flush toilet to save water!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Melburnalia 2

Finally, caught the show last Sunday arvo, after being denied a few times due to it being sold out. After checking out the venue, I now know why it sells out easily. The place is only large enough for an intimate gathering of peers.

The set itself was simple enough, very surburbia, brick veneer fences, and recycling bins. This reminds us, that Melbourne is more than just the city, rather a collection of suburbs with different people, different sub-cultures and a fabulous story to tell.

The first story, 5 in total, begins with a very familiar theme for Melburnians. Ticket inspectors! (Tip: keep your theatre ticket handy). Our friends, the blue gumbies, confront a rogue passenger who refuses to produce a ticket or speak. With a lot of humour along the way, we're drawn into the mystery surrounding the passenger. His story, is about our origins, and hence provides a very apt beginning to the night.

The second play, in contrast to the first, takes on a more serious tone. Detention centres. We hear chilling accounts from 3 "hostages", who are after the one thing that most Melburnians take for granted, dignity. The acting in the second play was superb. The raw emotions on display sent chills down my spine. Definetly, my favourite play of the night.

The third play, I could not relate to well. (Possibly because I'm not a rich uptight wanker!!) It centres on a gathering of friends in the well to do suburb of Caufield. Melodramic and superficial, are words I'd use to describe it. It represents a part of Melbourne that's perhaps more at home in Sydney.

The fourth play is a history lesson on Melbourne. About the piggeries in Preston that made way for the surburb. It's a warning to us to preserve our hertiage. Although it was portrayed in Preston, this could be about any suburb. Carlton spring to mind. Other themes that can be taken from it could be the dangers of urban sprawl.

The final play I thought was interesting. A sampling of various noises heard in the suburb of Mentone. From dogs, to bogans (what suburbs doesn't have'm?), this play I think truly represents the surburban experience.

In summary, some great peformances by the cast, and an intersting mix of plays. Well worth seeing if you're the slightest bit interested in Melbourne. What's next for Melburnalia now? A road trip to Sydney perhaps?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sustainable Streets Initiative

By now, everybody should know the game of "monopoly". A game where players try to collect as much realestate as possible, build homes and hopefully a hotel. It's a game that both adults and children alike enjoy.

The Sustainable Streets Initiative is about taking this concept, and modifying it to suit the sustainbility cause. It's a grass roots movement amongst neighbours whereby, residents in a street "collect" sustainable items such as rainwater tanks, solar PV panels, and other sustainable features. These items would attract points, and once enough points are collected, would allow streets to be awarded special "sustainability street" signs by the council. (No doubt this will increase land values on the street.)

The goal is not about keeping up with the Jones' as such, although that would be a great outcome for the environment, rather it's hoped that this would encourage neighbours to talk to each other and see what part each can do. We've seen great initiatives in the past whereby residents have grouped together to increase their purchasing parity when buying PV panels. Let's hope more of these outcomes come about because of this.

Local councils, it's time to create the rules and get people on board!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Doncaster to Burwood tram proposal

Doncaster residents may have to give up on their dreams of a train line to the city, and settle for a tram line to Box Hill, where they can catch an express into town. This will bring Doncaster out of isolation for many Melbourne commuters that don't want to navigate the slow bus system.

The proposed tram line would start at Westfield Doncaster shopping centre, and run down tram rd/Station st to Deakin Burwood campus.

It is hoped that this would encourage further medium density development along the new transport corridor. Aswell as this, cement Box Hill's place as a major transport hub.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Local considerations for Nunawading station upgrade

The premier recently announced the long overdue grade seperation of train tracks at springvale rd nunawading and relocation of nunawading station to the west of springvale rd. Apparently the grade seperation is due to finish 2010, but the station upgrade hopefully is still up in the air. Hopefully, some more thought into its design, especially feedback from the local community is considered before the station upgrade is implemented. (I don't want them to try to rush the implementation just to get some election kudos.)

Here's my top 3 considerations:

1) Passenger distribution. The station entrance is at the head for trains deperating towards Flinder st, and at the tail for trains from Belgrave to Lilydale. Will this be mirrored if they move the station west side? Or will the station entrance be placed in a different location. Designers need to condsider the impact on the distribution of passengers getting on a nunawading, and also downstream in stations like Blackburn and Box Hill. Overcrowding in certain carriages could be a potential fallout.

2) Shops and ammenities such as the milk bar, bakery will need to "moved" or replaced. It's a no brainer that car parking and bus stops must be replaced, but other amenities must be considered in the interest of passenger convenience. Obviously this must be co-ordinated with better links to the existing shops, the nearby community centre and the christian school closeby.

3) Redevelopment of the existing nunawading station and shops. With the tracks going under, it's a great opportunity to create a new block of land. A square or community area could be built, creating a new "Nunwading Central". The basis for this is obviously Box Hill.

Monday, April 27, 2009

How to make Melbourne trains more livable..part 1

Why are Melbourne trains so generic? They get us from point A to B, sure, but that's about it. Like our homes, and workplaces, we spend much of our lives in trains, so it stands to reason that we should try to make these "spaces" more livable.

In livable, I mean mood enhancing cues and general usability. Suggesting that there should be more services, space to breath, is a given. It's my hope that these mood cues, can make the long commute home, or the sardine squeeze a little bit more bearable.

In my first brainstorm, I suggest 3 factors that can enhance our experience. They are lighting, colours, and standing support.

The current lighting regime consists of cool white fluro lights, on at all times of the day. What are the benefits and problems with this? A cool white light in the morning, can help us become more alert, it's useful for reading and enchances general visability. So far so good.... Until we reach the end of the day. How do we feel by the end of the day? A little bit tired? Those that want a little shuteye, would find it extremely hard to sleep with a cool white light. Suggestion 1. Have a set of warm white lights to offset cool white lights. These will turn on during sunset, to match the outside mood. Lights, will preferably dim, to relax us after a long days work.

Technology of trains also needs to keep up with this livability enhancement. Should we fall asleep, a system using GPS and our mobile phones should alert us upon us approaching a station. Much like an outlook alert, we should be able to set the alert for x stops ahead, or perhaps time the alert to x minutes before reaching the platform. A much need enhancement regardless, of the possiblity of falling asleep.

Aswell as the use of lighting to set our moods, we can also use colours for the same effect. The generic white used in our current cabins scream monotony. Suggestion 2: Use colours and artwork to break the monotony. With the right interior designers, and budding young artists, the train interior can be a canvas to inspire creativity. Do we need to go to a gallery to inspire ourselves? Or can it be with us everyday? The key to making this work, is freshness, so these interior canvasses must be updated regularly. Let's make it happen melbourne.

As being able to get a seat is becoming more and more a luxury during peak hours, measures that can make standing more bearable must be explored. Suggestion 3: Have designated leaning zones with cushioning. This suggestion, controversially includes taking a stand on livability and yes means taking away seats to give more space to those that are sitting. Lets banish those cramped 3 seater configurations forever!!

What I suggest is to do away with the 2 and 3 seater configurations and simply have 1 row of comfortably sized seats along both sides of the train. The centre shall contain a row of cushioned leaning zones made of extremely comfortable material (think croc shoes, and latex pillows). So if we sit, we should be able to sit comfortably, if we stand we should also be able to stand comfortably.

The days of the cattle class and thoughtless, bland design can come to an end if we choose to think rather than accept the status quo. Let's get some ideas out there, and improve this system!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

New Melbourne Public Holiday Campaign

Public holidays are essential occasions that help us renew, reconnect and reinvigorate to better participate in the work force. Aside from the established holidays like Christmas, Easter, Aus Day and Anzac day, we need to perhaps shift the Queens Birthday or add an extra holiday between the Queens Birthday and Melbourne Cup. Four long months without a decent break really takes it out of you.

So what should this new Public Holiday commemorate? What day should it be? Let me know.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Springvale Shopping Centre Congestion must be fixed!!

How long can Dandenong council close its eyes to this problem? The lack of parking spots is causing major congestion to this area, and on top of this the whole area needs some more traffic regulation in terms of traffic lights to allow traffic to flow better.

What are your thoughts? Here are a couple of things I'm suggesting.

1) Ban parking on the North end of Buckingham Avenue between Queen and Balmoral avenue. This avenue is supposed to be a throughfare for traffic turning right onto springvale rd from lightwood rd. But gets clogged up too easily by people waiting to park, or people attempting to park/leaving. A set of traffic lights also needs to be added to the Queens Avenue/Buckhingham Avenue intersection.

2) Rezone land surrounding springvale shopping centre to be mixed residential/commercial. This will hopefully entice developers to start buying properties surrounding the springvale shopping area, and hence develop a propoer parking solution. A whole block of land needs to be bought, and underground parking included as an integrated solution.

3) Redevelop springvale station to be closer to the market. It probably needs to be shifted to be west of springvale rd, and placed underground. With a development connecting Newcomen Rd and Queens Avenue. This will also help solve the congestion problems on this end of springvale rd.

4) Start building a multistorey car park in the exising single level car parking area on buckingham avenue.

Springvale Rd Bike/Bus Campaign

Problem 1: 20 Minutes from Canterbury Rd to Nunawading station in peak hour! 20 minutes for 2kms. No wonder people don't bother with the 888 bus. Might as well get off at Canterbury rd and walk the rest of the way. Takes about the same time.

Problem 2: Riding down Springvale rd to get to the bike track along the freeway. Not for the faint hearted!

Solution: Build a right of way lane down the centre of springvale rd that buses and bikes can ride exclusively. Kill two birds with one stone. This north south public transport/bike expressway can act as a feeder network connecting the east west running train lines.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Making energy inconvenient campaign!

Reducing CO2 can be looked at from a supply and demand side. From a supply side, we can look at increasing renewables such as PV, wind, wave power,etc to complement the dirty coal power supply. From the demand side, we can look to to businesses, govts, ngos and consumers to reduce energy demand.

On the demand side we can do several things to influence demand. Charge more for energy. Did this really stop us from using oil? Ration energy (happens during hot temperature days to prevent blackouts). Have better energy efficiency standards. (Which I believe is an excellent way to reduce demand and drive innovation.) Educate people. Useful, but it's too easy to indulge in excess energy consumption when things are "on tap".

Considering the "on tap energy" problem, I had a "newton apple moment", when using my netbook on the go. Why doesn't all electrical equipment have batteries as the main source, and periodically charge when needed? Do we really need to be constantly "plugged in"? Do desktop computers need to be plugged in? Do televisions need to be plugged in? Or can they use batteries, and be charged overnight? A huge problem that needs to be tackled is "THE CONVENIENCE OF ENERGY". Batteries can teach us to be conservative with our use. Forcing us to take an extra step to "plug in" should be the default. This process should make us think about our usage and hopefully reduce demand.

Batteries, however, can be quite toxic. Thus we should consider how we can recycle batteries after they are past their use by date in "cradle to cradle" manner. This requires a standardization of design within industry fields. Television manufacturers should adopt a certain battery spec, desktop manufactuers are battery spec. So, I think this problem can be overcome.

I'm hoping this type of thinking can start as a trend in one industry, and build to a tipping point where it is adopted in others, because of the benefits for the environment. Can desktop manufacturers be the guinea pigs? DELL? LENOVO? ASUS? HP?

DESKTOP PCs with batteries! Let's make Al Gore proud, and make energy inconvenient!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Connex Tweet Campaign & Wally of the week!

Does connex really need to use two tvs to say "Welcome to the Customer Information Centre"? What a complete waste of energy & money for something that can be done by two posters. Congratulations for winning the "Wally of the week!" (7th April 2009).

Connex, either take those tv's down, or put them to use! As part of the tendering for the new contract, the state government requests you provide more information to passengers regarding delays. Why wait to win the tender to do it? Start now, and use these monitors to display your twitter updates. Get some much needed kudos from the public, and lose the wally of the week tag.

LoveJumper, No Heater Campaign.

As we enter the transition period from summer into winter, now is a great time to think about our habits towards getting warm! Can we do without that electric heater (which is a potential fire hazard)? Can we do without ducted heating (which causes us to have dry sore throats in the morning). Here are a few essentials to get you past the coming winter.

1) Thermals! Long johns, undergarments and socks. As healthy human beings we generate 37 degrees, just to stay alive. Let's insulate our bodies, and use this free heat to keep us warm.

2) Hot water bottles. Cheap and effective.

3) Ugg boots. These were the must have item in the US last winter! Let's bring this fashion back home..

4) Better blankets. Blankets with better insulating properties. Crack out the camping gear, and the sleeping bag rated to work to -5 deg!!

5) Insulating our homes. Walls and windows are the greatest culprits. If renovating your home, better insulation should be one of your first ports of call to save on cooling and heating. Rudd's new insulation scheme should help out. Get more info here:
Windows, is a much easier to tackle. A cheap fix is to get some velcro and tape an old disused down blanket onto the window. Pillows will also do, but they are less effective.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Pedestrian Underpass Eastern Fwy Campaign

Below is a pet peeve of mine, entering the eastern and having to wait for the pedestrian crossing. Not only does it reduce the flow of traffic, it's dangerous for pedestrians and drivers.

Somebody needs to look into building either a pedestrian underpass or a bridge. An underpass would be a preferred solution, as a large amount of trucks pass the area, and that could lead to diffuculities with load heights. Let's get things happening, one bottleneck at a time.

You know the deal with campaigning, you have to contact people to make things happen. I suggest 3 people/orgs: Vicroads, the roads minister Tim Pallas and the local council.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Train Timetable monitor upgrade campaign

In my relentless drive to stamp out energy wastage, my next campaign will focus on replacing those ancient train time table monitors at melbourne city loop stations and box hill.

These energy wasters are probably 20+ years old and huge energy wasters. Why use two monitors when you can get away with a single widescreen lcd monitor. When you consider these are back to back you can save 2 monitors, and make a difference in energy savings.

Do any electronics stores want to donate a couple of energy efficient lcd monitors? Or shall we turn the screws on connex?

Get the message across.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Anti Smoking Campaign ideas

It should be pretty clear that smoking is addictive, kills you and causes cancer by now. These messages, I believe are losing there shock value. I think its time anti-smoking advertising matures aswell. We need to find new ways to get the message across, and make people think twice about their actions. Of course, the cancer message still needs to shown, to continue to reinforce the message, but new campaigns like those listed below should also be considered.

Below are a couple of pictures that I have created based on the original smoking causes cancer. Please comment.

Use the template below to create your own in GIMP or Photoshop.

Melbourne Theatre lights upgrade campaign

Was just walking past the theatre district in melbourne, and noticed that shit loads of incadescent lights were in use there. What a waste of energy, plus waste of money for the owners of the theatres. I'm considering petitioning the owners to replace them with energy efficient fluro lights, but lets be honest, they're butt ugly. And those round globe things have a certain character about them. A throwback to an era where theatre was the main form of entertainment.

UPDATE: Found a globe to replace them, that isn't those ugly energy efficient compact globes.

Beacon lighting sells it. Uses only 7w compared to what 60 or 100w.

Next step approach the owners and suggest these as an alternative!!
Gonna ask for help from WWF too!!

Wish me luck.