Posts Tagged‘rain’

Day 20: Luck is Not Always With You.

The threatening grey clouds made good on their appearance, dumping torrents of rain upon us and lashing the sky with flashes of white lightning. On the one hand it was a welcome change, the sweltering heat of the day melting away in the cool showers, but on the other it torpedoed any semblance of a plan we might have had for the day. Thankfully I had found out that our target for the day, Mount Rigi, had webcams at the top so I could see before going there that it would not be worth our time. I had a backup plan however: Mount Uetilberg, a dwarf of the Swiss Alps that was a mere 30 minute train ride from Zurich central station.

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We boarded the train and then settled in for the journey to come, me with my phone games (I left my Kindle at home this time) and my wife with her book. However due to us both being distracted we didn’t notice that this particular train, even though it was the right one on the right route, didn’t go all the way up the mountain. So we found ourselves right back at Zurich central after 20 minutes or so, bewildered as to how we got there. This problem was later solved by getting off at the last stop of the current train and getting on another, one which seemed to go the full route. There was no discernable difference we could see so we chalked it up to something that only the locals could have known.

The journey up the hill saw the view quickly turn from one with all of Zurich below us to that of thick fog, our visibility dropping to maybe a hundred meters or so. I had hoped that the relative low altitude of this mountain would afford us some view from the summit however it appears that was not to be, our entire world shrouded by cloud. We persisted with a journey to the summit however and it was an interesting enough walk by itself, even though it was bereft of the breathtaking views that it promised.

My wife had read online that whilst the Lindt factory no longer offered tours there was a kind of museum there that we could wander through and, without any other good options, we decided to give it a go. We boarded another train to Kilchberg and made our way over to the factory outlet. Unfortunately it appears that the Internet had lead us astray as the sales clerks said there was no such thing around and the tours had long since stopped for “health concerns”. Disappointed we consoled ourselves by buying some discount chocolate and some souvenirs for our family at home.

After spending a lazy afternoon in our now livable hotel room we decided we should at least attempt to see our surrounding area a little before we departed tomorrow. We wandered around downtown Zurich, taking in the various sights. My wife was ever so patient with me and my camera, even holding the umbrella above me as I took pictures of the various things that took my interest. We even walked down what must’ve been the most expensive street in Zurich, a horrifying prospect given how ludicrously expensive everything is here (try $60+ for 2 simple curry dishes with drinks, a travesty even at Canberra prices).

We capped off the night with a simple spread we bought from one of the local supermarkets, washed down by some thankfully cheap beers. In all honesty it felt like that was probably the only sensible reaction to the weather as pretty much all the available options were rendered unpalatable by the rain.

Tomorrow we’ll lazily make our way to Munich, hopefully arriving at a far more reasonable time than what we did here. In all honesty I’m going to be very glad to see the back of this place as it really has been one of the worst hotels we’ve stayed at. I’m hopeful that the rest won’t be this bad since it’d take a lot to beat this place. That and the fact that everything will be reasonably priced again.

The Problems a FTTN NBN Won’t Fix.

Growing up in a rural area meant that my Internet experience was always going to be below that of my city living counterparts. This wasn’t much of an issue for a while as dial-up was pretty much all you could hope for anywhere in Australia however the advent of broadband changed this significantly. From then on the disparity in Internet accessibility was pretty clear and the gap only grew as time went on. This didn’t seem to change much after I moved into the city either, always seeming to luck out with places that connected at speeds far below the advertised maximum that our current gen ADSL lines were capable of. Worst still they almost always seemed to be at the mercy of the weather with adverse conditions dropping speeds or disconnecting us from the Internet completely.

Shitty Telstra Copper PitMy current place of residence never got great speeds, topping out at 6Mbps and only managing to sustain that connection for a couple hours before falling over. I can expect to get a pretty stable 4Mbps connection most of the time however the last few days have seen Canberra get a nice amount of rain and the speeds I was able to get barely tickled 1Mbps no matter how many times I reconnected, reset my modem or shouted incoherently at the sky. It was obvious then that my situation was caused by the incumbent weather, filling my local Telstra pit with water which sent the signal to noise ratio into the ground. Usually this is something I’d just take on the chin but this situation was meant to be improved by now if it wasn’t for the current government.

Prior to the election my area was scheduled to start construction in October last year however it became one of the areas that disappeared off NBNco’s deployment map shortly after the Abbot government came into power. This meant I would then come under their revised plan┬áto bring in FTTN through VDSL which has the unfortunate consequence of leaving me on the known-bad infrastructure in my street. So my speeds might improve but it’d be unlikely that I’d get “at least” 20Mbps and I could guarantee that every time it rained I’d be in for another bout of tragic Internet speeds, if I could connect to it at all.

The big issue with the Liberal’s NBN plan is that my situation is by no means unique and indeed quite typical thanks to the aging infrastructure that is commonplace throughout much of Australia. Indeed the only place that I know gets speeds as advertised for their cable run are my parents who still live in a rural area. The reason for this is because the copper is new out there and is quite capable of carrying the higher speeds. My infrastructure on the other hand, in a place where you’d expect it to be regularly maintained, doesn’t hold a candle to theirs and will continue to suffer from issues after we get “upgraded”.

A full FTTP NBN on the other hand would eliminate these issues providing ubiquitous access that’s, above all, dependable and reliable. The copper mile last run that the majority of Australia will end up using as part of the Liberal’s NBN just can’t provide that, not without significant remediation which neither Telstra nor the government has any interest in doing. Hopefully the Liberal government wakes up and realises this before we get too far down the FTTN hole as it’s been shown that the majority of Australian’s want the FTTP NBN and they’re more than willing to pay for it.

 

Disneyland: Take 2.

Here in Los Angeles there’s technically 2 sides to Disneyland: the Park and the California Adventure. Our last trip over there had us just go through the California Adventure mostly because we just followed the crowd and didn’t pay any attention to what was going over the other side of the main entrance. Since we had a 3 day pass to the park we decided that we should make the most of it and visit the other park. With that in mind we made our way over there when the clouds that had ben threatening us all of yesterday opened up and began dumping a torrent of rain on us. We continued on hoping that it would let up by the time we got there.

We arrived and the rain hadn’t let up. The problem here was that the car park isn’t right next to the park, you need to take a tram to get to it. There’s no covered walkway to the tram stop nor any cover when you get there so we’d be in for a good 5 minutes of soaking before we got under cover. Not keen to repeat the performance of the last time we were here we decided to drive back out and get some wet weather gear. Not a minute after getting in the car did the rain stop and the skies clear clearing the way for us to get in. You would’ve thought that the wet weather would’ve put most people off coming to the park but the place was packed, even more than it was when we went there previously. I’d say that this was because it was the weekend, but I really didn’t think that it would’ve been that popular. I can be the king of underestimation sometimes.

One of the exhibits I wanted to see was Tomorrowland as I’d seen that they a Honda ASIMO robot there. We headed over there first but before we could see ASIMO we had to go through the modern version of the house of tomorrow. In essence it was a giant advertisement for Microsoft, HP and I think CBUS for their home automation stuff. It was basically a small house that was rigged up with touchpads in every room to control the lights, sound system and anything else that might be in the room. The other parts of it were just massive rooms filled with XBox 360s and some other games further cementing the fact that this was just a paid for advertisement rather than an actual exhibit. Thankfully we managed to arrive about 10 minutes before ASIMO was scheduled to be on so we headed up there.

The show itself was basically just a scripted encounter between an actor and the ASIMO robot but it was awesome to see one of the actual robots up close and personal. They showed all its normal manoeuvres: walking up and down stairs, recognising people’s faces and kicking a soccer ball. I had no idea how long they had had this particular ASIMO so I wondered if it was one of the ones that was able to run but with the show almost to a close (and them saying its top speed was less than the run speed I knew about) I figured this one couldn’t do it. To my surprise this one could and they showed it running across the stage, leaving an ear to ear grin on my face that didn’t go away for a while. Satisfied we left the Tomorrowland exhibit and started making our way around the rest of Disneyland Park.

We spent many hours walking around the park, going on various rides and looking at the various attractions. Rebecca was especially keen to revisit some of the rides she had ridden as a youngster when she was last here almost 15 years ago and those were the first on our list. Time went exceptionally quick and before long the sun had dipped below the horizon, putting a chill on the wind that was blowing. This also meant that it was time for the Christmas Fantasy parade so we headed over the main road to catch it. The whole event lasted well over half an hour and was quite a spectacle. It amazes me that they did one of these every single day.

When the parade was over we headed back over to the California Adventure to catch the elecTRONica exhibit we’d missed last time we were here. It only begins after 6pm and I had wondered why, I mean pretty much everything else in this park was open all day. Walking through the entrance though I saw why, this thing put other light shows I had seen to shame.

The whole place was bathed in blue light and projectors shot images of TRON up onto every available surface. Further down there was also a DJ pillar covered in even more lights and supposedly played host a live DJ. All the while music that wouldn’t have been out of place at any rave I’ve been too cranked all around us with even a few punters busting out some of their moves. There was an old style arcade at the back with original cabinets of all your old favourites: Galaga, Donkey Kong and Space Invaders just to name a few. Just outside of the arcade is the End of Line club which is basically an open air bar decked out to look like it was straight out of TRON. The whole area was something to behold and I’ve got a couple videos of it that I’ll upload later as static pictures really don’t do it justice.

After wandering around there for a while we headed back out to catch the World of Colour light show. The entire place was packed with people and as we wandered around it become clear that Disneyland counted this as a ride and since we had showed up just before it was about to start we weren’t allowed in to it. However they’d roped off a big area of it that functioned as the walkway so we just slowly ambled our way around the entire show area so we could catch the show. The show itself is quite spectacular being a choreographed show of fountains with lights in the base and large projectors throwing images onto large sprays of mist. Once that was over we headed back to the car for the drive home.

On the way back we decided to grab a late dinner and couldn’t go past the In and Out Burger that we’d past several times on the highway over to Disneyland. We ordered ourselves up a couple burgers to take back to the hotel. The burgers themselves were pretty good although I’m not too sure if they’re up to the hype I had heard about them. Still the fact they managed to make a tasty burger that didn’t feel like a massive pit in my stomach after eating it should speak for itself, so I guess they win in that area especially when you consider their price.

I think tomorrow will be spent not doing a heck of a lot as our legs and feet are starting to rebel against us with all the walking and standing we’ve been doing over the past 3 days. We might make our way to Hollywood Blvd and take a leisurely stroll through it but I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t venture past the front door of our hotel room. We’ve still got another day at Disneyland to go as well as a jaunt down to Legoland planned but I don’t think we’ll be bothering with either of them just yet, I don’t think our bodies would appreciate that.