funontheupfield: Echidna (Default)
funontheupfield ([personal profile] funontheupfield) wrote2016-09-21 09:42 pm

A new toy

When I buy a new bike I always buy a bike computer. It's not there as a speedo. It's the odometer that's important. If I make the decision to buy a bike I'll get a good one. The odometer is there to make the spend seem worth while. While I'm feeling the bank balance hurt I'm also on the road racking up the kilometres. After a month or so I'll have ridden as many kilometres on my bike as I spent in dollars at the bike shop. At that point I'm happy. Every moment on the bike from then on is a freebie.

This is also how I manage the "just one more bike" temptation. As much as I might get excited over a new cargo bike or the latest bit of kit if I can't see myself riding thousand kilometres on the bike in first six months of purchase (on top of the regular riding I'm doing on my current bike) its probably not worth buying. However, if it passes the 'one dollar per kilometre' test I'll buy it with no regrets.

I haven't bought a new bike. I bought a new laptop. After decades of computing using second hand laptops running linux I shelled out for a brand new MacBook Air. It was an emotional decision. I was in the middle of an eight week cold / flu thing, was going a little stir crazy and thought buying myself something pretty would cheer me up. I am physically well, but now my bank balance is feeling a lot lighter. Its time for some retrospective justification. I need a computer version of my 'dollar per kilometre' bike test.

My previous notion of a justifiable computing expense was around $500 a year. So I'm going to need a significant project (something three times more important than my usual computer noodling) to pass my 'dollar per kilometre' big purchase test.

These are some ideas that might qualify:

* Learning mapping tools (QGIS, or ArcGIS online or ArcGIS desktop a windows virtual machine) and multi-variate statistics to test some assumptions of town planning / transit oriented development Specifically how important are built form factors** in the mix of things needed to deliver the 'sustainable development good stuff'.

* Reading and reviewing the key works of my discipline - in some kind of blog or podcast. I've flirted with this idea before, without committing to the routine of reading to a production schedule.

* Learn the skills to develop a web page (or app) to 'gamify' sustainable travel to work. This tool would allow people to earn points every time they left the car at home and walked, rode or used public transport instead. Regular sustainable travellers could then cash those points in for fabulous cash and prizes.

What would you like to see?

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