Using SMS URIs with OC Transpo

Ottawa’s OC Transpo service provides real-time bus schedules through text-messages on your cell phone. Basically you text 560560 your stop number, like 7595, with the option to specify a bus, like the number 18. It will shortly reply with a GPS adjusted schedule. In some cases you will be asked to text back a 1 or 2 for specifying the direction, when you are at a transitway stop or loop that services both directions.

There’s a mobile app for iOS, but I like the simplicity of sending a text without needing to fiddle with an app…

At some point I ran across an article explaining how to embed an SMS link into a web page (such as this one) and decided I needed to try it out.

A live example:


The components:

SMS: defines this as an sms link
560-560 or 560560 is the OCTranspo number to text to
&body= the contents of the text message
7040 the stop we want data on
%20 html code for a space
20 is our bus number
%20 another space
2 as we want to go towards St. Laurent.

A bunch of these urls got set up and stored in Apple Notes for all the most common stops I use.

Once you tap one it will load up a new message with the contents defined, touch the send key and wait a few seconds. Here’s the result I got back in this case:

Stop 7040 route 20 St-Laurent at 18:46 to St-Laurent; 19:14 to St-Laurent; 19:44 to St-Laurent.

Now if only I could figure out how to send it automatically i’d save a whole tap!

On Steve Jobs dieing…

I think Apple said it best, in their Think Different campaign:

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.

The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.

About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore.

They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy.

How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

We make tools for these kinds of people.

While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Archiving selected emails to a single file.

I needed to gather about 50 emails into a single file so I could sift through them and pull out a variety of information. Going through them one at a time in Mail was going to take longer than I wanted, or was willing to do at once, so I decided to save them to a single file so I could do it later.

It turns out to be very simple: you select the relevant emails, in my case the result of a search, and do a “Save As..”. At this point you have a choice of how to save them, and I chose the default “Rich text Format”. I ended up with one file with all 58 emails in it.

Now I can open it in TextEdit and delete the parts I don’t want.

“Introduction to Mac” Workshop coming up on January 26th

I will only quote part of the announcement regarding the Workshop Tom and I are offering next weekend… all the details are on Tom’s site: Introduction to Mac course, in Ottawa, Ontario, on January 26th, 2008.

As you can guess from the course title, we will be doing an introduction to the Mac, from the outside in!

Some of the major applications which will be covered include; Mail, Safari, Address Book, iCal, iChat, and the iLife suite of applications. There will be time at the end to address specific questions, which we expect will arise!

As Tom says:

Now that the details are (finally) worked out, I can safely announce that Dave Rostenne and I are offering our first combined course for users who are new to Macs, or have just "switched". The course will take place over at the School of the Photographic Arts: Ottawa (SPAO), and you can find details on their special events page or in this printable PDF file.


Saturday, January 26th, 2008 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM, with an additional hour afterwards (4:00 PM to 5:00 PM) for questions and answers.

The cost and how to register

The cost is a very reasonable $79, and to register, you can either call (613) 562-3824 or email ADMIN@SPAO.CA. Register soon, because seating is limited to 20 people!

We hope to see you there!

Bus tracing under Windows.

I’ve used USB Sniffer v1.8 to sniff USB bus transactions under Windows. It works, although generates very verbose output (and I have to copy the .log files to a unix box, where grep/sed/awk can actually make them useful. Yes, I know about cygwin, no, command line editing under windows still sucks).

I was told to give a free version of Bus Hound a try, especially for looking at IDE transactions. (BusHound supports alot more then just usb bus, and I was told that it’s quite good, which is a win, since I am thinking about foregoing using USB to IDE adapter, as using USB introduces extra data in bus traces, by wrapping around CDBs.)

P.S. Reading ATA/ATAPI 7 and MMC 6 specs gave me headaches. So I stopped.

Peter Watts’ Books are licensed under CC

Peter Watts, a Canadian Marine Biologist responsible for Vampire Domesticantion lectures (Which you should spend 40 minutes and listen to, and definitely read the little corporate slogans at the corner of each slide) licensed a bunch of his books under CC license, and made them available for download.

Thank you, Peter! I was looking on Amazon, and at 50 to 90 dollars a copy (per softcover), it was not feasible for me to buy them.

If you liked these, consider buying Behemoth: A-Max and Behemoth: Seppuku. They are also good.

Oh, and regarding slogans: in F.E.A.R, on certain levels there were posters that said “Remember, it’s Quantity, Quality, Safety in that order!”