BlackBerry app for Metro-North schedules

04 May 2011 » BlackBerry, Java, Travel

Well, it took just under two years and quite a bit of marketshare loss, but I found some time to release my long promised native BlackBerry application for Metro-North commuter train schedules.

You can download NYC North Trains for free, over-the-air. I’ve tested it on OS 5 and 6 devices such as the Curve, Style, Storm 2, Bold, Tour and Torch.

Like the simple Web interface I’ve provided for nearly five years, the native app offers an interface to the MTA schedule data optimized for mobile devices.

However, it also offers some features that make the experience quite a bit more convenient for BlackBerry users.

  • Simple schedule selection using BlackBerry dropdowns and date picker
  • The ability to save your preferred origin and destination (and toggle them depending on which way you’re going)
  • Ability to email the schedule results from the device
  • Ability to save a particular departure to your calendar to block your travel time

Of course, this application comes with the standard disclaimer.

Not affiliated with the MTA or the States of New York and Connecticut. This tool uses live information directly from, so schedules are always based on the latest available information. This tool retains no copies of schedule information from the MTA.

Enjoy and let me know what other enhancements you’d like to see.

How to pronounce New Haven

09 August 2009 » Opinion, Peeves, Travel

A recent trip on Metro-North reminds me that I need to submit this script snippet to Seth MacFarlane.

Brian: Wait, what did you say?
Stewie: NEW Haven.
Brian: NEW Haven? You mean New Haven.
Stewie: NEW Haven.
Brian: You’re saying it weird. Why are you putting so much emphasis on the New?
Stewie: NEW Haven.
Brian: Say New York.
Stewie: New York.
Brian: Say New England.
Stewie: New England.
Brian: Say New Haven.
Stewie: NEW Haven.
Brian: You’re eating hair!

Sigh. If it’s still not clear, ask your local Connecticutioner / Connecticutlet before you embarrass yourself on the train.

Mobile Metro-North BlackBerry shortcut

11 May 2009 » Java, Travel

I’ve just released a BlackBerry shortcut icon that launches Mobile Metro-North using the default browser on your device.

In the near future, I intend to launch a native BlackBerry application that offers more features over the simple Web interface. It will store station preferences, display the big board of all currently departing trains, and help locate the nearest stop using GPS functionality.

Watch this space for a release announcement, or send me a note if you’d be interested in beta testing.

Images of Cuba now on Flickr

12 March 2009 » History, Media, Photos, Politics, Travel

I just took a few minutes to copy the photos from my time in Cuba over to Flickr.

I spent three weeks in and around Havana while studying abroad after my junior year in college during the summer of 1998.

The scans have long been available at PlayaGirón, but in the recent spirit of freer relationships between the two nations, I figured I’d follow suit and open them up to a broader audience and to tag them, making it easier for folks to find them.

I’ll probably also post the scans of the Cuban stamps that I collected sometime soon.

Trip to Bengaluru

16 July 2008 » DB2, Photos, Travel

I just confirmed my trip to southern India. I’ll be in Bengaluru (Bangalore) for about 2 weeks. It’s my first trip to Asia, so I’m really looking forward to it.

The preparations for this trip have been more complex than any other overseas trip I’ve taken. The good new is that once the visa paperwork and vaccinations are complete, the barriers to travel to the region will be much lower in the future.

My trip will finish up the second week of August, which coincides with India’s Independence Day. Apparently there’s a semi-annual botanical show at Lal Bagh that day and for some reason my camera is really good at taking pictures of flowers. :), so there’s always that.

But I’d love to know what else is recommended to do that Friday the 15th, or on the weekends in general. Side trips to Ooty and Kodaikanal have been recommended. Other hints, tips?

Update: Due to the Lufthansa strike, I pushed my trip back one week, and will now be able to attend the IDUG India Forum (Friday morning and all day Saturday) which is taking place right next to my hotel. That looks to be a great opportunity to hear from Curt Cotner and several other DB2 experts. Good stuff.

Charlotte, North Carolina

16 March 2008 » DB2, IBM, Photos, Travel

I spent ten days on business in Charlotte, North Carolina in the middle of February. The city and its metropolitan area were much larger than I had expected.

The airport’s big, the IBM complex is massive (it used to be the home of 6,000 manufacturing jobs), and the city really does have a relative importance I hadn’t realized (forgive my Northeastern, non-finance sector prejudices). On top of that it’s growing fast.

I found out later that had I stuck around a few more days I could have stopped by the SIRDUG meeting and had a chance to hear from DB2 gurus Robert Catterall and Roger Sanders at the same facility. Damn.

I didn’t have much time to see the sights, but I did grab some not-so spectacular pictures of downtown.

One of the highlights was a Saturday afternoon trip to the outskirts for some of the best barbecue I’ve ever had, at a biker bar called Mac’s.

Perhaps the most incredible part of the trip was that not one, but two places sold Genny Cream Ale by the bottle. The importance of this can not be overstated, though I don’t have time to go into the details just yet…

Thoughts on the incident above Blenheim

08 February 2008 » Butterfly effect, Opinion, Travel, Ubuntu

I was shocked this morning to hear about the near-hijacking of a short domestic flight in New Zealand on the BBC (More coverage from the NZ Herald and CNN).

Catherine and I flew to Auckland from the same airport in Blenheim less than 2 months ago as we returned north from the wine country at the end of our honeymoon.

We enjoyed many great experiences in New Zealand, but we regard our time in the Marlborough region as the most pleasurable part of our trip (my wife sure liked the wines, mussels and farmer’s market. I particularly dug the beer).

I hadn’t told Cat about how small this particular airport is, nor did I realize how petite the actual plane would be. Those particular details were best left for the time we actually got there – why ruin such a nice weekend?

I can’t say I wasn’t worried about how much the plane could carry though… I shipped home some 50 pounds of laundry and souvenirs the day before we planned to leave.

The rental car return amounted to leaving the car anywhere in the small lot and dropping off the keys at an unattended kiosk. I suppose this really isn’t a problem if you can hear the horn sounded by the panic button at the far end of the tarmac.

Taking off, the plane generates a surprising amount of thrust for two propellers. Cat shut her eyes, clenched her teeth, and swore to exact her revenge on me for most of the 2 hour flight, but I really enjoyed it. For the most part…

We came down into the remnants of a tropical “anti-cyclone” when approaching Auckland. I really didn’t need to see how unstable our approach was looking through the front window even from the back of the plane, but the landing was remarkably smooth.

The crew from Eagle Air who operated the flight for Air New Zealand were both excellent pilots and great hosts. It’s a credit to the company to hear how well they handled the trouble in the sky yesterday.

New Zealand is a beautiful country well served by its domestic network of short flights. The Marlborough region in particular would have been out of reach for us if we had to take another ferry ride and drive hundreds of kilometers back up the North Island.

It’s disheartening that this type of incident took place, not least for the unfortunate folks whose lives were put in jeopardy.


All married up and honeymooned out

17 December 2007 » Potpourri, Travel

Ah, so it’s been close to two months since I last posted, but I have a good excuse.

Cat and I were married on November 24th, the Saturday after Thanksgiving in Tarrytown, New York. We were thrilled that so many of our friends and family could travel so far or otherwise be there on the holiday weekend. It meant a lot to us.

Our excellent photographers Justin and Mary have posted a few teasers up on their blog – we can’t wait to see how the rest came out. This shot in particular sums up both their creativity and their drive to know their clients ahead of the big day. We’d recommend them without a moment’s hesitation.

Our mutual friend and former colleague Jen König posted a pair of beautiful pics on Flickr as well; Cat’s mom lighting the unity candle during the ceremony and our entrance at the reception.

Speaking of Flickr, I finally broke down and signed up for an account to post close to 600 of the “best” shots from our honeymoon in New Zealand. It’s hard to believe that even that many is a mere quarter of the 2112 shots we took :)

Next page »