April 20th, 2006

krazy koati

Waiting for the train to come in

Over the weekend I noticed the plasma screens on the North-East Line -- which are used to show the date, time, next train arriving time, and little blurbs of text such as catch somebody's fancy, such as a quote of the day or a plea for those who see something suspicious to dial 999 -- had changed their display design altogether. They've gone through a few revisions, apparently in the effort to make a pretty utilitarian display more visually appealing while trying to stave off screen burn-in. You can easily make out the last couple versions of these panels by looking at the screens.

Anyway, the new look foregoes the old black, white, red, and green stylings for one that's ... red text on a dark purple background. I asked a station attendant about it -- they seem to have a high tolerance for odd questions from me like ``why is there no station number two on the North-East Line?'' -- and he explained they'd upgraded the software and gave it a new look. They were trying to make the colors on the screen match the official colors of SBS Transit, which runs the line; those are red and purple. I understand the motive, but the effect is much more one of ``somebody disconnected the green and blue cables''. It really looks like the stuff I got when my old Commodore 128's monitor started to go, and the video chip blew a gasket so I had to load my own fonts in to get a sensible display.

Meanwhile -- actually, it happened a while ago, but I had no reason to mention it until I already had train talk going -- SMRT, which runs the other two MRT lines, has added a voice announcement, just before train doors open, to ``please mind the platform gap''. This mimicks the SBS's line's voice announcement. I'm mildly amused by the quest to keep parity between voice announcements.

Trivia: Scam artist Abraham White and inventor Lee de Forest put on display at the Saint Louis World's Fair of 1904 ``Wireless Auto No. 1'', a car with a radio set capable of transmitting a few blocks. Source: Signor Marconi's Magic Box, Gavin Weightman.

Currently Reading: The Shadow of Alpha, C L Grant.