Link to Navigo to go to a specific destination

Winnipeg Transit’s Navigo generally won’t let you enter a destination unless you first enter a “from”. I wanted to be able to add a link to a web site that says “if  you want to come here, you can take the bus, click here”, like this link  which will open the Navigo page with Assentworks pre-populated as an address.

Asked 311/transit, and they explained:

The user needs to include the destination information in the link. The best way to do this is to plan a trip using the desired address as the destination, it can be any trip (random origin and time). From the results page, click ‘Modify Request’ in the sidebar. This takes you back to the trip planning page with pre-filled information. Copy the URL from this page, it will look something like:****************************&destinationKey=13&destinationName=Forks+Market+%281+Forks+Market+Road%29&destinationType=monument&method=post&originKey=3911&originName=MTS+Centre+%28300+Portage+Avenue%29&originType=monument&tripDate=0

Delete all the unwanted information from the URL (keep all parameters related to destination [destinationKey, destinationName, destinationType]). Then it will look like:

Use this URL to link to Navigo.


HackRF One, SDR#, WSPR and virtual audio cable

I bought a HackRF One SDR recently. The first thing I wanted to do is to try WSPR, which checks for other WSPR beacons to help monitor propagation paths.

I set this up using the free SDR software SDR# and another software virtual audio cable to connect the two.

That much was easy enough, but I have not had a single connection, running it for a bit over a week. WSPR frequenctly says it’s decoding, but nothing pans out. I am using the antenna that comes with the HackRF, which isn’t great but I hear others have had success with it.

I probably have something set up wrong still. I think I need to use CW mode in SDR# for WSPR but have not actually found confirmation for this anywhere. Since it’s not working it’s likely wrong :-)

backpack light with remote switch

backpack in the light
backpack in the light
backpack in the dark
backpack in the dark

I ride my bike to work on main roads year around, so I need to be visible. In the winter that means lights. If I attach them to the bike, I have to remember to take them off, and they are relatively low to the road and less visible. I had them on my helmet for a while, but that was heavy. So, I have them on my backpack.

This has worked well for some time, but I usually put on my backpack and then remember that I did not turn them on. Then I have to take the pack back off and switch them on. So, I added a remote switch to the EL driver where its

EL driver with plug attached
EL driver with plug attached

internal switch is attached. Because I wanted to still be able to disconnect the driver, I wanted a plug connection. All I had flying around was an old USB port and plenty of USB cables to salvage, so that’s what I did. Ya, I labelled it “NOT USB”.

I made the remote switch by wiring a scavenged

switch soldered right onto the cable
switch soldered right onto the cable

momentary switch right into the end of the wire and putting heat shrink tubing around it. The tubing waterproofs the setup and is flexible enough to trigger the switch.

Then I fed it around the backpack straps.

remote switch on backpack strap
remote switch on backpack strap


Odd braille


I audited a few lectures of a course put on by the  Manitoba Centre for Health Policy this fall. It was held in the Apotex Building on the Bannatyne Campus of the University of Manitoba. On the way to class I saw these dots on a glass wall.

IMG_20150916_143618 IMG_20150916_143524

Flipped image for readability of braille saying  "of pharmacy faculty of"
Flipped image for readability of braille saying
“of pharmacy faculty of”

They are Braille, and they read “faculty of pharmacy”. I can’t figure out where they are going with this. The writing isn’t really tactile, beyond the feeling of a vinyl sticker on glass. The writing is WAY bigger than normal braille, the letters are about 8″ tall. Being on a glass wall, it’s backwards from the direction you would enter from. They are about the same height of the ground that braille door signs would usually be, which makes me wonder if this is a tongue in cheek response by someone being forced to put a standardized sign on a glass wall that might look better without it. Or, was it just put there so no one runs into it?

Another possibility is that the pharmacists wanted a memorial of their previous status as a Faculty – they are now College of Pharmacy at the Faculty of Health Sciences.

Does anyone know more about this?

No drip

Drip stop on coffee urn
Drip stop on coffee urn

Having a new HAM Radio license gets me a 1 year membership with  WARC. So, I checked out their monthly meeting this Monday. I got to meet a few interesting people and we chatted about some of the digital modes in HAM.

And, I saw the drip stop on the coffee urn. A pop bottle cut just so you could get your cup of coffee in there without problem, but drips were caught. It made me smile. It’s the kind of thing I might have come up with, and the kind of thing a lot of people would find horrible and impractical.

What is the difference between people who would embrace that and others who would mock it? I wonder if it is related to the difference between people who back into parking spots and people who don’t.

people who back into parking spots

Last March I went to a presentation at Lyncrest Airport on electric transportation in cars and, more unusually, airplanes. I arrived a bit late and most people had already arrived. I noticed that an unusually large proportion of vehicles were backed in.

Unusual proportion of parked vehicles that are backed in
Unusual proportion of parked vehicles that are backed in

I am a big fan of backing into parking spots. You can maneuver in smaller spaces when the steered wheels are able to move rather than being constrained by being already in the narrow spot. You go backwards into the space where not a lot is going on, and when you need to leave and join traffic you are going forward where you can see. I can’t think of any disadvantages. Yet, the majority of people don’t. I don’t really understand that, although I can think of a few snarky comments.

It made me wonder what makes this crowd different. I think I asked a few people, but no one else seemed excited about this.


Today I was wondering about the orientation of titles on the spines of books. That let me to the corresponding standard (ISO 6357) on the list of ISO standards. Looking at the next few standards above and below, it appears that the list is numbered by order of arrival and has nothing at all to do with the content of the standard: the previous, ISO 6344, is about grain size of abrasives, the next one , ISO 6429, about control functions for coded character sets. If I had not been in the middle of three other things with a dozen tabs open I could have got entirely lost in this list of things to look up. It made me laugh when I realized that a random click in my browsing history would be likely to come up with a similarly eclectic (or flighty?) list of subjects.

I usually think of a hobby as something you decide to start doing one day. So, I would not have thought of wikiwandering as a hobby of mine. But I guess it is. And, having seen the similarity of that list of standards, I can own that: I am a wikiwanderer.

Judge by their covers

Difference in orientation of writing on the spines of German and English books
Difference in orientation of writing on the spines of German and English books

The writing on the spines of continental European and south American books generally faces up (tilt your head left to read), the writing on north American and other English language books down (tilt head right).

That sent me on today’s wiki wander.

One reasons given for the US way are a book lying face-up will have the spine in the right direction to be read (a continental book’s title would be upside down).
Another reason is that, to walk down the usual left-to-right direction of a shelf, one is going forward rather than backwards as one would be reading the continental style.

A reason for the continental way would be that, books of a series (eg multi-band encyclopedias) would be read in order when faced this way.
Another one is that the left-tilt of the head when reading continental-style titles puts the (statistically more likely dominant) right hand in a more ergonomic position to reach for the book. And, of course, walking past a continental shelf, the titles will stream past like the intro on Star Wars, so that must be the right way…

Actually, Star Wars or not, it turns out there has been a standard for this (ISO 6357) since 1985. It says that titles should be written the north American way, facing down. Looks like this is one of the few ways where the standard-loving Germans have not jumped on board and implemented it. Makes me wonder why, but there were no good explanations in the wandering.

Some part of me now wonders if this different direction, and the different head tilting that goes with his, could have any relationship to our reception of the book. Could our head tilting to read the title lead to a different brain hemisphere being active in analyzing and choosing titles? Could it be that the left-tilting Germans are so literal and exacting because of the way they have always needed to lean to choose their books? ;-)