Category Archives: commuting

WiFi Rail Works Great – When You Can Find a Hot Spot

Anyone that rides BART knows that getting Internet connectivity can be a pain, especially if your cell phone doesn’t support tethering (another reason AT&T is terrible).  Even when I borrowed a Blackberry with tethering support enabled it wasn’t that fast.

WiFi on BART would rock if it were available.  It’s now starting to be deployed due a contract BART signed with WiFi Rail recently.  They’ve been testing their hotspots in the main 4 downtown stations for a while now and a few weeks ago I noticed that I could keep connectivity partially through the TransBay tube.  The speed and consistency in the tube is not that great but in downtown I was able to get upwards of 400-500 KB/s (yes, bytes, not bits) from Powell to Embarcadero even while moving between stations.  It was enough bandwidth to download the latest version of Sun VirtualBox.   I do wonder if the speed in the tube is the issue since I don’t know how well WiFi will roll over from one hot spot to another.

All I want to know is when are they going to put the WiFi on the rest of the Pittsburg Bay Point line?  That’s the busiest line in the system (hint hint WiFi Rail).  My advice, fix the TransBay tube and extend through Oakland next.  The longer it’s available continuously the more use it will be to people and the more willing they will be to pay for it.

My Next Toy…

…is going to be the TomTom 910. I was thinking of getting the Garmin Nuvi 360 or 2820 but after seeing that the 910 also has bluetooth for hands free calling, a 20GB internal hard drive (12GB free for music and other things), and will soon have US traffic data. It’s also about 200-300 cheaper than the Garmin devices. Supposedly BestBuy has them in stock near my house so I think I’ll swing by and take a look.

Myleene and I are tired of not knowing how to get somewhere new and trying to navigate on the printed maps from Google or Yahoo maps. They always seem to miss some important data. Plus, the nav systems can route me to gas stations, ATMs, and restaraunts among other things. When you have a 2 year old in the car a few minutes saved can mean the world! 🙂 This really really (I mean REALLY) would have come in handy our first night in North Carolina trying to find our way to Spring Lake.

Why Spare the Air Days Suck

It means it’s usually really hot. I can deal with that, though. The reason it really sucks is that BART is free on those days (like today!). And when BART is free you get lots of homeless people that ride it for the air conditioning. I got on a train this morning and the car I was in had at least 4 homeless people asleep/passed out in that end of the car. Luckily the next car only had one in the first half so I sat there but the smell was still pretty overwhelming. BART probably hopes that the extra people that try to take advantage of the program will start using the system more often but I can tell you with pretty much certainty that it’s not going to help matters. They need to find a way to boot non-destinational riders for riding the system and enforce them not taking up 2-4 seats while they sleep, even if the cars aren’t full.