Monday, March 21, 2011

The pleasures of technology

Got a new phone at the weekend. It has internet access, GPS, maps and so on. Those of you used to smartphones may yawn at this point. But it's my first [and he is rather excited: Ed] and this morning I trialled it on the Underground. And what a day to choose. Arriving at my home station of Ruislip Manor there was the usual System Status display on the screen and I noticed that the Metropolitan was partially suspended. Which bit? Ah, this is where we rely on an older-fashioned technology. Or at least, we ought to be able to. But the handwritten message board by the entrance was blank. And the station attendant standing at the barrier vouchsafed not a word. So, dismayed and clueless, I ascended to the platform to join a large throng of patently fed-up commuters.

No announcements were made. Never mind, I switched on my new phone, found the tube site and learned that a signal failure at Moorgate was the culprit. But were trains running normally to Baker Street? Alas, LU in their wisdom have disabled the vital Departure Boards screen on the mobile version of their website so I had no idea when the next London-bound train might arrive. A Piccadilly drew in and I took it, arriving at work 15 minutes later than planned.

This evening I searched the Android market and found a wonderful - and free - app that displays the departure board information. Nothing fancy, just instantly provides the information that you really need when confronted by messages about delays - the times of the next trains due in. If ever the internet needed to be justified, this is exactly the sort of app that does it.

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