Bag of Spoons
Just off the A1(M)

Thu, 26 Oct 2006

Edinburgh on a low (carbon) budget

We had another trip up to the Scottish capital to visit my sister this month. We chose to go by train because it's not too expensive, quick and not too stressful. It's also the greenest option. You have to know what you are doing when buying tickets as there are various options. Having a Family Railcard saves a lot for us. We used the GNER Mallard service. The new trains are comfortable and have mains power plus wifi. I didn't use either of those this time. Our audio players managed on battery and I still don't have wifi capability. Even if I did I would really have to need it. Considering that you have to pay a fair bit just to be sitting on the train I would think they could make the wifi cheaper. You have to pay a minimum of 3 for a half hour. Of course, first class passengers get it 'free'.

For most of our stay in Edinburgh we used the buses. It cost around 6 for a day ticket for 2 adults and a child, but we only made a couple of trips each time. It can be confusing to work out what tickets to get and which routes to use, but that applies in most cities. We were lucky to have someone with local knowledge.

We visited the zoo. It's generally a good one, but some of the larger animals, e.g. polar bear and tiger, could do with a lot more space. The tiger was pacing at the back of it's cage, others were just sleeping. I have mixed feelings about zoos, but most of the big ones are pretty active in breeding programmes. We can hope that seeing the animals will encourage people to think more about what we are doing to the planet, but I expect some just go to see something new. They had some good activities to keep the kids amused.

[18:42] | [/Travel] | Comments | G

Easy Listening

I've been looking around for some music playing software for the Acer. My main requirements were that it should play OGG, be simple to use and preferably free (as in beer at least). One thing I've found with the Acer is that it is very LOUD! No need for volume boosting technology as on the Palm. Windows Media is pretty useless so ruled itself out.

First up was MortPlayer. This has lots of nice features, including some good skins with big buttons, but I had some problems with the power saving. Once the screen turned off I had problems getting it back on. Whilst using it I suffered a crash that required a hard reset. Since then I have lost the ability to see the battery level. It just shows 0%. This may be unrelated to the application. It could be a hardware fault, but the battery still works.

Next was TCPMP. This is mainly a video player for those who want to watch films and TV on a tiny screen. For audio it's pretty limited. It doesn't even display the playlist whilst playing.

Finally we come to GSPlayer. It's fairly similar to Mort, but I have yet to find a nice skin. However, it works very well and was extensively tested on our recent train journey. This will do for now.

Like the Palm the Acer may be limited to 1GB SD cards. This is a shame as the bigger ones are getting cheaper.

For playlists I am using a little Python script I wrote. It scans my music folders for those without a playlist an creates one. This meets my requirements as I mainly listen to albums. I intend to publish it on the site eventually.

[18:26] | [/PocketPC] | Comments | G

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