Sunday, December 30, 2012

Melbourne, please be patient with myki

After many years of using their Metcards, Melbournians (Melbournites?) will embark on one of their greatest journeys yet, the journey of the myki. Melbourne has upped their public transport game and have made the final move to a new ticketing system. Having just gotten back from Melbourne and the surrounding suburbs a couple of days ago, I can tell you that many people do not like the change and are constantly belittling the myki system. But I urge you, please be patient with myki and you will learn to accept it if not love it. 

The old public transport system in Melbourne used Metcards, part paper/part cardboard slips that were encoded with a the barcode that corresponds with your travel. You could purchase a Metcard for a single journey, for travel through multiple zones, or for multiple trips through multiple zones. 

Myki's are kind of like gift cards on which you place a certain dollar amount. You 'touch on' at the beginning of your journey and 'touch off' at the end. You may have to touch on and off multiple times if you are using multiple types of transport, i.e. you touch on at the train station, touch off when you leave, touch on when you get on the tram, and then touch off when you arrive at your destination. The myki readers work out the travel times and zones between when you touch on and when you touch off, and the fare is deducted accordingly. 

There are a number of advantages of the myki over the Metcard, which I will reveal later on, but there is one main disadvantage of changing the public transport system entirely. Commuters in Melbourne will only be able to use myki from now on. If you use public transport every day or once a year, you are required to purchase a myki card. 

Queensland have rolled out their Go Card systems that are designed to stop the use of paper tickets, but paper tickets still exist. If you seldom use public transport then you don't have to worry about purchasing a Go Card, you can simply purchase a one way ticket at any ticket counter. There are many benefits to Go Cards; the fares are cheaper when you use one, you don't have to wait in line to purchase a ticket, and you no longer have to worry about being charged too much for your journey or accidentally buying the wrong ticket. 

But apart from moving everyone to a myki no matter how infrequently they travel, myki is a great thing. 

How many tram travellers have witnessed others scramble to stay afoot while feeding all of their change into a Metcard machine? How many times have commuters had to buy replacement Metcards because theirs have been damaged in the wash? How many times have you accidentally purchased a Metcard through the wrong zone or for the wrong time frame? Myki solves these issues. 

Another benefit of the myki is that it can be registered. You don't have to worry about losing the card or the value because once you tell PTV (Public Transport Victoria) that the card is lost or stolen it (the card) will automatically be cancelled and the balance moved to a new card. Registering your card also means that you can keep a track of your journeys and set an auto top up from your credit card to ensure that you always have enough funds for your travels. 

You might be thinking, well that's all well and good for you Kathy but I don't live in Melbourne and only travel by train once or twice a year. Myki is useless for me!

Well, before you go making accusations you must know that I don't live in Melbourne. I don't even live in Victoria. Readers of my blog will be aware that I travel to Melbourne every year for the Armageddon Expo. Usually I stay in a hotel close to the venue but cost forced me and my friends to take a place further away. It would have taken around 45 minutes to walk to the convention centre, but luckily the hotel was on a tram line. My friends and I purchased a myki visitor pack that included a myki card as well as a map, discounts to a whole heap of attractions, and instructions on how to use both the myki and Melbourne public transport as a whole. We found the myki very easy and we only had to add around $5 of additional funds for our whole stay. We ended up taking the tram throughout zone one multiple times over the four days we were in the city. 

Another bonus to the myki is that the funds on the card are secure for at least four years. Since they don't run out or expire by a certain deadline you can feel free to only use the myki once a day or once a year without having to worry about using up all of your funds. You just have to make sure you have enough money on the card, but you can put money on via the myki website or any one of over 800 services throughout Melbourne. 

I apologise if this post was long and boring to most of you. I am not endorsed or affiliated with PTV or myki in any way. This is just an opinion post, and this is my opinion. 

I look forward to reading comments by my Melbourne friends over this!



Themes: myki, public transport, Victoria, Melbourne, myki card, Metcard


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Rights VS Responsibilities

RIP victims of the Sandy Hook School massacre.

source: AP...

First of all, I want to point out that I'm not an American and that some people might not like what I have to say, and they might think that I don't have the right to voice my opinion because I am not an American and I was not affected by the tragedy at Newtown earlier this week. 

But I was affected by it. Every person on this Earth was affected by this. When something this huge happens, even if it's only in one small corner of the world, it still affects us all. Because we are all people. And as people we are, or at least should be affected by what happens to other people. 

I do concede, however, that I don't know everything there is to know about the Second Amendment, that is the right to keep and bear arms. If I have any points wrong can you please let me know in the comments. 

What I do want to discuss here is the difference between rights and responsibilities. Some people might not see the difference and they get them confused. But there is a distinct difference between things we are owed (rights) and things we owe (responsibilities). 

A great example of the differences is education. In Australia I had the right to an education. It was not only expected and encouraged that I go to school, but it was against the law for my parents to keep me home (unless I was getting home-schooled). While that was my right, it was my responsibility to use that education to the benefit of not only myself, but to my family and the wide community. At the very least, I had the responsibility to pay attention in class and not to be a distraction or disruption to others who were learning. Part of my responsibility was to not obstruct others in their right to an education. 

In America, people have the right to keep and have guns. But don't the owners of these guns also have responsibilities? Some of these responsibilities are law, such as how to properly house these guns and how they can carry them in public. But shouldn't there be other responsibilities by gun owners, such as not using the gun when you're angry or in a similar heightened state of emotion, or only using the gun for the purposes of self defence or target practice, not to scare someone or to win an argument?

Every time I get in my car I think, I could kill someone. No, this isn't me on some sort of power trip, but a fact. I could aim my car directly at another person and cause their death. I could neglect to stop at a stop sign or red light and crash into another car or a pedestrian. I could fail to pay attention when giving way, or I could be distracted by sending a text message, or I could be under the influence of any number of drugs and I could kill someone. And while I don't have the right to drive my car I have the responsibility as a driver to not kill someone. As a motorist I am aware of the damage I could inflict by doing the above so I stop when I'm supposed to and I pay full attention at all times. I would imagine this would be the same thought process for anyone who has access to a gun; you have the power to stop a person from being alive. Shouldn't that give you pause? Shouldn't that stop you from taking the gun out of the safe and loading it? Shouldn't that stop you from buying the weapon in the first place?

I don't want to infringe on anyone's rights, but I think you should think about your responsibilities as well as your rights. My friend Kat posted on her blog "it shouldn't be about an individual's right to bear arms, but about a society's right to be safe", and I wholeheartedly agree. 


Themes: Sandy Hook School shooting, gun control, US gun policy, Newtown massacre, Connecticut, Newtown school shooting, second amendment, right to keep and bear arms, right to bear arms

Monday, October 29, 2012

Top Five things to bring to a Convention/Expo

As many countries around the world begin their pop culture/fan expo season I think this is a very timely subject. I've been going to conventions for the last five years, averaging about three per year, and here is my list of top five things to bring to a convention/expo:

1- Comfortable shoes
There will be a lot of walking around and even more standing in lines during the typical convention, so you best be prepared. High heels might look great but your feet will begin to ache after a few hours. If you’re cosplaying (costume playing) you might need a pair of great looking shoes to complete the outfit. However, you can plan ahead by bringing a second pair of shoes that you can change into at regular intervals. I have also seen people bring camping chairs that are light and portable. When they're in a long line they fold out the chair and have a sit. 

2- A large bag
I find carrying one large bag is easier than carrying a purse or small back pack. For one thing, a purse or handbag will most likely not fit everything you will buying. And I get very nervous having everything in a back pack that I can't monitor at all times. A large bag such as a canvas bag that a lot of grocery stores sell for cheap will be large enough to fit in most things that you'll end up buying over the day or two. 

3- Your manners
Personally, I think you should bring this everywhere you go, but manners are very important during a convention/expo experience. The excitement of the event can sometimes cloud your judgement, but you should always remember to say thank you to the line guards/monitors and to ask the guest politely before you engage them in a hug or hand shake. Remember, just because they pulled you into a hug at that convention that one time it's not polite to embrace them without forewarning. 
Some conventions offer VIP passes which are usually very expensive and come with many perks. Among these perks tends to be express queuing, which means holders of these passes can cut to the front of the time. If you have one of these passes please remember to say excuse me and thank you to the people in front of whom you're pushing. And if these VIP pass holders are cutting in front of you please don't bitch or complain about them. Sure, it can be very annoying to be pushed back further and further in the line, but these pass holders sometimes pay up to ten times as much for their tickets. Without VIP passes being sold months before the convention most guests wouldn't be able to come. 

4- Enough money
A lot of conventions are now switching from cash only to cash and EFTPOS, but this is never a guarantee. and this doesn't account for the possibility that the phone lines can go down when they're overtaxed (say, like at a convention when hundreds of people are using EFTPOS to purchase comics, photos, autograph tokens, clothing, etc). Many conventions/expos are located near ATM's, but the lines there are usually incredibly long, and more than once I've seen these machines run out of money. It's always safer to bring cold hard cash to these events. Sure, it can be a hassle carrying a lot of money with you, but it will be worth it when you're able to buy the things that you want. To make sure you have enough money before the event you should check out the event website. There you will be able to calculate how much your photo and autograph sessions are going to cost, and then you can add in extra for such things like comics, clothes, badges, food, books, etc, etc, etc.

5- Snacks
I usually bring a bag of chips or biscuits, but this last convention I bought a box of nut bars and this went down pretty well. No matter what your taste is, you should bring some snacks to help you make it throughout the day. The expos that I frequent are located near large food courts but you can never guarantee that you'll have the time to eat a proper lunch. When food establishments are inside the convention you can bet that the food offered will be quick and easy, aka not very healthy. 
If you have a particular dietary needs (lactose intolerant, gluten free, sucrose intolerant, etc) then you should bring your own food along. You'll end up saving money if you pack your own lunch. 

So there you go; my top five things to bring to a convention/expo. Please let me know if you have any other ideas. 

Themes: conventions, expos, comic conventions, fan days, lists