22 December 2013

Thoughts from a Trip: London

Rambling while Abroad

19:56, December 22nd 2013, London.

This isn’t really the first time I’ve been here, though it might as well be. It’s been twenty years or so since we left, and I can’t actually remember anything about the place. There were one or two memories I thought I’d held on to, though actually visiting the locations within revealed them to be false - something I’d suspected for a while, anyway.

Winter. We arrived earlier in the week at just after three in the afternoon, and it looked like it should’ve been seven or eight instead; nights start at around four or five. It encourages an earlier end to the day, and a corresponding earlier start, though that’s something that only really applies if you have the luxury of a flexible schedule. The cold weather is a nice change, and it’s humid and/or wet enough for there not to be any static, one of the few annoyances I do remember about winter in general.

A lot of these thoughts pretty much just come about from living in a place with just two seasons: “hot”, and “warm, with rain”.

I caught Pacific Rim on the flight over. It didn’t seem interesting enough to warrant watching in cinemas when it came out, though the praise for it online made me curious. It was decent enough, I suppose. I do like the soundtrack - Ramin Djawadi composes some pretty good ones: Iron Man, the recent Medal of Honor games.

Finished reading All You Need is Kill during the second half of the flight, which was a really good book, and started reading Clean Code after that. Dreamt about refactoring and/or writing code over the next few nights.

We brought a point-and-shoot camera along - a Canon Powershot S95 - but it ended up going unused for the most part. We just used our smartphones instead.

The image quality of the Powershot could be better than that of both the phones in question (a Samsung Galaxy Note III and a Nokia Lumia 920), but it wasn’t enough to feel like we were losing out on anything by not using it. The phones were much more convenient to carry and use, and were good enough - they had past the point below which the superior alternative was clearly a better choice. (Though I’m reasonably certain that the Lumia 920’s low-light performance is much better than that of the Powershot.)

Something that occasionally worries me: that something perceived as being good enough becomes so popular that the market kills off the superior alternative. Highly subjective, of course.

ComfortDelGro owns one of the bus operators here.

That was a surprise. It’s pretty cool that the buses all have a uniform look and feel, despite being operated by different companies.

There are pre-recorded announcements on all the buses. There’s one after the doors close, saying the service number and destination. There’s one before every stop, announcing its name. Incredibly useful features to have.

The buses in Munich have the stop name announcements as well. It’d be great if they made their way to Singapore.

One night, we were on a bus which encountered a road diversion along its route.

The diversion pointed traffic down a side road which appeared (to the driver, at least) much too small for a bus to turn into.

A twenty minute, unplanned, entirely off-route detour ensued.

On another night, the hotel fire alarm went off just past midnight. There was a test of the fire alarm earlier that day, so we at least knew what the sound was when it happened. (It ended up being a false alarm.)

The fire service showed up incredibly quickly - a minute or so after we’d reached the ground floor, or less than five minutes after the alarm first started.

As with almost everywhere else we’ve been, traffic actually scrambles to move out of the way of emergency vehicles here.

That’d be nice to have in Singapore, too.