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In Toronto

By Ryan Feeley

Our Autoshare Year – 2006

On 09, Feb 2007 | 8 Comments | In Toronto | By Ryan Feeley

In 2006, my wife and I completed our first calendar year as AutoShare members. I have all the bills assembled and decided to run some numbers for those of you who would like to know just what the deal is. It’s an incredibly convenient service which I hope spreads like wildfire throughout the cities of the world. Toronto’s AutoShare didn’t introduce this concept to the world by a long shot, but I’m happy it’s here. We signed up with AutoShare just months before ZipCar came to town and have stuck it out with AutoShare, even though their network doesn’t expand to other cities. The prices are about 20% better during busy months even cheaper during months when we barely use it. Of course, I welcome all ZipCar users to post their numbers as well.

I have not included taxes just because. Idiot fees are actually referred to as “Fees” on the statement. They cover from calling in to the call centre to extend a reservation instead of self-serving on the web ($1) all the way to the idiotic taking the wrong car ($50). In September we went from the $10/month plan to the $25/month plan so we could go from $6/hr to $5/hr. Except for the month of September, this appears to have been a good choice.

Any questions? If this post convinces you to join, please use me as a referral. We’ll both get mad cash.

Toronto HDTV airwaves on your Mac

On 03, Feb 2007 | No Comments | In Apple, Toronto | By Ryan Feeley

Elgato EyeTV HybridFew people I know have heard of the Elgato’s over-the-air HDTV tuner. Essentially you plug this little guy into your Mac’s USB port, and then plug rabbit ears into it, and you’ve got not only regular broadcast TV (NTSC) but also HD-equivalents (ATSC) of many of those channels. I got mine from CDW Canada.

From the middle of my apartment building, sandwiched in between other houses, I get HD equivalents of CBC, CBC French, CTV, SunTV and CityTV. From the backyard facing windows I get OMNI 1 & 2, a few others. Wikipedia has a fairly complete list of Toronto ATSC broadcasters. The signal is 1080i with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. And I can pause, rewind and record these channels. Be warned: one episode of LOST (42 minutes total, commercials trimmed) is over 5.5GB.

What interesting is that the quality of these stations very greatly depending on the content. It seems obvious that none of the channels have gone whole-hog on replacing their systems; be it video cameras or motion graphics software. I thought it would be interesting to present a comparison of the familiar images: the broadcasters’ logos. They are in PNG format which is lossless.

SUN TV logo

Logo SRC

CTV logo

CityTV logo

CBC logo

From my eyes, SUN TV is the winner. They broadcast a lot of detective shows from the 70s which look to be surprisingly good betacam transfers. Their local shows, like one of my favourites Street Eats is beautifully shot in HD. CityTV’s movies are the most disappointing. Very compressed looking and I have never heard a 5.1 soundtrack from them.

Does anyone have any screenshot requests?

Created: TTC Stop Timetable in PDF

On 02, Feb 2007 | 5 Comments | In TTC, User Experience | By Ryan Feeley

501 Timetable Why toss and turn all night when what I really wanted to do was create the 501 Timetable in PDF form?

This was not that hard to do as you might imagine. However I can’t imagine something like this being done manually for every stop. Possibly a PDF generated some a database? Anyone have any ideas on this we can share with the TTC?

I was able to use the HTML/CSS I had created yesterday by just importing the HTML file into Apple’s It was a pretty easy transition and respects some pretty tricky selectors. The only inaccuracies I can identify is that some of the cars originated at Humber Loop instead of Long Branch as indicated at the bottom, and I am totally guessing on the trip time estimates. Comments?

Maybe someone can plaster one of these in front of Pizza Pizza on Queen/Bathurst?

Updated: A few Canadians did not understand the military time so I changed the time to 12-hour notation.

Wanted: TTC Stop Timetable

On 01, Feb 2007 | 6 Comments | In TTC, User Experience | By Ryan Feeley

KVV cropped I have been amazed at how lost and helpless I feel when I’m at a bus or streetcar stop in Toronto. One gets pretty spoiled in other cities where transit stops have, oh I don’ t know, information about when transit stops there?

I point to Cologne (don’t pull something pronouncing Köln) and their excellent KVV transit system. Every stop, even bus stops, have timetables for that stop posted.

Download the Linie (Line) 1 PDF from their list of timetables. Scroll quickly between the pages to see the list of upcoming stops at the bottom shrink.

I decided to look at Toronto’s most popular streetcar line and make a timetable for the stop at Bathurst Street. I scraped the times from the preformatted text on their website.

Attached is a first crack at a 501 Queen Eastbound at Bathurst Timetable (HTML).

Just HTML and CSS. A PDF generated from a decent layout program will hopefully come from this weekend Toronto Transit Camp.

For the CSS geeks, I have added classes for the Humber and Long Branch 501’s, but I can’t say I’m sure I know what that means. Should they have their own sheets?