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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Here comes the NextBus

Last Sunday, I decided to try out the SBSTransit's IRIS NextBus service. Those who don't already know what this NextBus is, it is SBSTransit's online bus information system which provides live tracking of bus arrival times.

The first test for the day was in the morning when my family and I just arrived at the bus stop. I started by logging on to the mobile version of NextBus on my phone. As my phone is over 2 years old, it took some time just to load the browser. I keyed in the URL manually since I had not bookmarked it on my phone prior. Before I even reached the site, mum had flagged down a cab as we were already quite late.

Lesson learnt, Part 1 - if you are late, you won't even bother using NextBus.

Later on in the afternoon after having lunch, we were heading to the temple and columbarium for our Ching Ming visitations. This time there wasn't even an opportunity to use NextBus, our bus came just within minutes of waiting.

Lesson learnt, Part 2 - You don't need NextBus when you can see your bus coming.

After we had completed our visitations, it was time to take a bus to go Cold Storage Jelita for some grocery shopping for dinner. While walking to the bus stop, I proceeded to log on to the NextBus page and then keyed in the bus service number.

Upon reaching the bus stop, I referred to the bus stop number on the bus stop's info board to key into the remaining field on the site. I submitted it and looked at the screen eagerly awaiting the results. The page refreshed and showed that the next bus will arrive in 15 minutes. I then looked up away from my phone and within a stone's throw away my bus was approaching. In usual situations, I think I would have really waited 15 minutes if I missed this bus while text messaging a friend.

Lesson learnt, Part 3 - NextBus works when the situation allows it.

Overall, I find the NextBus is not practical since you will be waiting at the bus stop regardless of how long the bus will take to arrive. It may or may not test one's patience since it will either show how soon or late your bus will come. This is not to say its a totally useless service but it just doesn't work for me.

Palm announce Linux-based platform

This is more good news for Palm OS fans. Your favourite mobile OS is getting an overhaul and to be powered by a Linux core. I hope it delivers on time this time round and not become another Cobalt vapourware.

Today at Palm Inc's Analyst Day, Palm CEO Ed Colligan officially announced that Palm will deliver a new Linux and open source based mobile computing platform combined with Palm OS Garnet technology on new products later this year. The new platform was just announced at the Palm Analyst meeting and details are light at this point and still coming in. Read on for some slides and more information from the presentation.

The platform is described as a "new foundation for Palm." It will combine aspects of Palm OS Garnet and a Linux core. Palm plans to "evolve" the Palm Developer community to the new platform.

Colligan highlighted and stressed a few points about the new platform. He continually stressed the importance of the user experience citing the ability to have an instant on, highly portable device with great battery life. Other highlights included greater hardware flexibility and the ability to handle simultaneous voice and data, two key ares which have hampered the traditional Palm OS in recent years.

Another key aspect would be the device's web browsing experience. Colligan said Palm is focusing highly on connected web applications and web services built around mobile devices. He cited the ability to easily backup and restore over the web, delivering software and device updates over the internet and wireless software distribution. The recent Opera brower licensing agreement is likely tied to this new platform.

Colligan also revealed that this was a new platform that Palm has been working on, in house for a number of years. He stated that Palm would not license this new OS to outside hardware companies, meaning this will be a Palm exclusive platform.

This is a separate project from Palm Inc and is not related to the ACCESS Linux Platform, which is being developed by ACCESS, formerly PalmSource. Many of the technical software and hardware details have yet to be announced.

Read more at PalmInfocenter.com