Archive for January, 2010

Vancouver blogger seeks like-minded Four Square users

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Besides Twitter, I have become mildly interested in using Four Square – rather, I am using it now, occasionally, but I don’t feel like I’m using it to its full capacity. Too few friends in the service, it seems masturbatory. Too many, and it might become a hum of noise, with less signal. But seeing as I’m still in the no-signal phase, I figure, I might as well try and find some more people to hook up with and digitally stalk.*

Anyone?

For those who have no idea what Four Square is, think of it like Twitter, with maps. Using your mobile phone, you can quickly “check-in” at any location you’re at. Friends that you follow appear as they check-in with the service. And continuing the Twitter likening, the service can “tweet” your check-in, complete with an address. DarrenBarefoot.com has a nice piece on it.

The service likes to promote this as a way for people to see what you’re doing and go meet up with you, but I think it’s more like a way to find our more about your town. Someone’s having a good meal at a restaurant you’d never hear of? Add it to your to-do list. Done! And it’s way more intuitive than dumping your phone’s GPS coordinates into a tweet. Someone has some good information about a location, some handy tip? They can add that for you to find as well.

Some businesses are even using the site as a way to reach out to customers, as they can use the service to tell people about their business, and add in little incentives (ie “Tell them Bob sent you and get free cheesy bread!”)

So far the service is growing, which is good, as it means more feedback about your town. Or even better, as I discovered in my holiday trip back East, it means more feedback from towns your are visiting! A quick snap-shot of your alien surroundings!

It’s possible another service will replace this one, but the current trends tends towards services linking together, rather than trying to be everything to everyone (as mentioned, Four Square already links to Twitter. It also links you to a Facebook account. In fact, you do not have to sign up to yet another website, instead you can just use your Facebook account.) For now, Four Square appears to be stable and growing.

*Digitally Stalking in this case does not mean ferreting out details about another’s life online. It’s more like;

“Lee’s at Colour Your World.”
“And?”
(shrug)

All from the comfort o your couch! The future is here!

Some January culinary ideas. A person’s gotta eat, right?

The gang at Sense and Styles has some excellent suggestions for yummy things to do this month. Here are the short versions;

The titular Long Table

The titular Long Table

The Irish Heather’s Long Table Series

Running every evening between January 11th and  February 11th, come sit at one big long table with a few dozen other food-minded people at the Irish Heather. Depending on what night you come, there is a different excellent meal, complete with a matched drink, for a mere $15 (plus tax and tip.) For example;

Monday, 11th of January, House Made Beef Meat Balls, Tomato Sauce served with Hand Made Spaghetti, w/ 5oz – Glass of Sandhill Syrah.M $15 plus tax & service

Click here for each day’s offering!

“Just Like Dinner at Nona’s House”

Similar to The Irish Heather, but exclusive to three Tuesday nights only – January 12th, 19th, and 26th – enjoy a hearty plate of food paired with R&B beer for $19. Plus, be there at 6 for the wine bar!

The Main Event – East Meets West

Technically Main isn’t where East Van meets West Van, but that’s the kind of thing that gets me punched in the arm. And pedantry aside, this is an awesome event. Running from January 18th to 24th, a number of Main street restaurants will be offering three-course tasting menus for set prices of $25, $35 and $45. And a portion of those sales will go to The Greater Vancouver Food Bank. So, it will be one of the rare times you can eat AND help others do the same.

I’m particularly looking forward to this, as it is an excellent excuse to try more of the restaurants in my neighbourhood. Click here for a list of participating restaurants.

Eee up to Senses and Styles – I will be keeping an eye on them and you should too!

Countdown to the Olympics: Transit adjustments

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With the Olympics about to begin, the city – including those who saw the international games as a boon as well as those that originally expressed concerns – is starting to ask, “What effect, exactly, will the games have on the day-to-day living in the city?”

Well for starters, transit is gonna get weird – I don’t mean that in a negative way, but rather meaning it’s going to get shaken up, both good and bad. As in, there will be, they figure, a lot more transit users. This means potentially longer, frustrating waits for people who just want to get to work or school. The plan is to add more buses. This means potentially longer, frustrating waits for people who just want to get to work or school… in their cars.

And then there are transit fees – already, if you’re trying to use the Canada line out of the airport, the ticket price has gone up $5. Meaning, you pay the regular zone fare for the train (YVR is in a zone with Richmond, meaning travel into Vancouver or Richmond is two zones = $3.75) and then an additional $5 AddFare on top. $8.75 a person to get from the airport to their hotel or homes.

A cab from YVR to downtown Vancouver is approx. $35 (TaxiWiz puts it at $26 including 15% tip – this is because TaxiWiz is drunk… or measures linear distances only and cannot account for per minute charges while you wait at a light or two or ten.) Cabs can hold 4 people, so unless you’re traveling alone, the train might not be the best option.

It should be pointed out that this AddFare is for what TransLink calls CashFares. Meaning, any fare purchase right at the terminal – if you have a monthly pass, away you go. Mind you, as a visitor, if you’re staying in Vancouver, do you need a two-zone pass? And if you only have the one zone pass, then you’re paying the extra zone AddFare. This is around the point my head starts to bubble.

And there’s more!

TranLink is offering collector FareCards, which are on sale at all FareDealer locations now. The passes aren’t strictly speaking, monthly passes, but rather Olympic passes, covering exactly the period of time the Olympics and Paralympics are happening – February 8th to March 21st. Here are the prices on those cards;

1-Zone $110
2-Zone $149
3-Zone $204
Concession $63

And here is what it costs for a single month (consisting of +/- 30 days)

1-Zone $73
2-Zone $99
3-Zone $136
Concession $42

Looks like a deal, right! Yes! For people who will only be here for the Olympics!

Townies are out of luck, as the Olympic passes do not cover the first week of February or the last week of March, meaning you either pay for two regular passes, as you normally would (ie $146 for one zone), or pay for the Olympic FareCard ($110), plus two books of  FareSaver tickets (20 tickets for ten work days = $38), for a total of $148. God help you if you need to make multiple trips in a single day and two tickets will not be enough.

At this point I stopped trying to factor in things like the West Coast Express, buses to Whistler, HandyDart. All in all, the events will mean business as usual for Vancouver commuters, at best, and more likely than not it will mean exactly the kinds of hassles people hoped would not happen.

What’s got you worried about Olympic traffic and transit? How are you planning to weather the WorldParty?

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