Saturday, May 24, 2014

Lets get one thing straight here - having a disability isn't the end of the world you know

So I was watching the TV reality series - One Born Every Minute USA - in which one of the mothers was expecting a Downs Syndrome child and the nurses whilst trying to be sensitive about the issue, one of the other nurses said something that made me realise that this is what society needs to do and think about anyone with a disability regardless of a Physical or Intellectual Disability.

What was it the this Nurse said that made me feel somewhat proud and realise this is what society needs to think? It was that he had yet to meet someone, parents, family or friends who are yet to say they regret being pregnant because of a disability.

And thats true in my family. My Mother, father nor brothers regret me being born with a disability and certainly there are days I may do but thats because of the way society generally portrays people with disabilities. The way most of society thinks of people with any kind of disability is that we are a drain on society and shouldn't exists and my thoughts and saying to those folks is that they are the drain on society.

You only have to look at the Paralympic games (both summer and winter versions) to see that regardless of a disability anyone can do anything. Yes as someone with a disability you will have to do things differently in your everyday life but you are you - disability or not and no matter what if you put your mind to it, you can rise to achieve that goal.

And that certainly is my goal and we as people with disabilities SHOULD, yes should talk about what its like to live with our disability. We should talk about our achievements, our failures, our thoughts and suggestions but also how to make sure we have set the stones for the future and ensure we discuss our issues, our stories, everything with everyone so they understand.

Understanding will be the key to setting the tone and the path to the future to people realising what its like to have a disability but also help plan how to ensure the tools to help people with disabilities live in a truly accepting and inclusive society.

Nothing this day and age is that we certainly don't live in a perfect world and it certainly isn't a utopia honestly. So lets stop thinking everything needs to be perfect because it doesn't honestly exists. Simple!

So let get out there, talk, discuss, argue, suggest and tell our stories as people with disabilities but also to people without disabilities listen and understand what it is like and what we do in our everyday life to keep us going.

Lets start these discussions and stories now!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Carlingford Line - what to do with a line that goes and connects to nowhere....yet

The Carlingford line seems to be one of the many forgotten rail lines which have become a very old, outdated and somewhat disjointed and unconnected part of the Sydney Trains metropolitan network, yet the NSW Government nor Transport for NSW or the Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian know what to do with it.

The poor Carlingford line in the only suburban rail line which in my own opinion, that is not connected via a fully accessible interchange at Clyde. Now before you start having a go at me, stating that Sydney Trains and Transport for NSW have classified the station as accessible, its really not.

Clyde is serviced by a stair walker which over the years has been more broken and out of service that more so actually in services. At one point that I am aware, there was a Union ban on using this critical piece of technology for wheelchair users, yet it is still there, but only available during certain hours (namely in the peak periods) for which after that time, Wheelchair users are required to either travel to Granville or Parramatta to travel towards Carlingford.

To me whilst the bus option is the much more safer than actually trying to attempt to use the stair walker at Clyde, it certainly goes a long way to prove the Carlingford line and Clyde for that matter is  certainly biding its time to closure.

So what should we do to fix the option?

This idea I have fought long and hard on, and have spoken to many both involved with sensitive talks with stakeholders (such as Parramatta City Council and the NSW State Government along with Transport for NSW) for the possibility of the Carlingford line to be converted to a light rail system, that will ultimately connect to Westmead hospital precincts (Such as the Adults, Kids & Private hospitals) to Macquarie University and maybe even onwards towards Lane Cove, to provide this suburbs with a more connected piece of critical public transport infrastructure than what they currently have.

Why not have single metro style trains on the Carlingford Line?

Lets be honest here, this idea which has been circulating thanks to a few MP's who seem hell bent against light rail, think the only option is to turn the line into a metro 3 car system, however the dilemma is that how would this link into the current Sydney Trains Metro network?

Can a metro style train service use the same piece of infrastructure as the current double deck network is offering? Hell no!!

A single deck 3 car metro style network would offer no greater benefits and ultimately lead to further segregation of the line and its commuters, leading to further frustrations for not only commuters but transport planers alike.

Why not convert the line into a rapid bus line?

This option again would only create further gridlock and would take a lot longer to actually plan and build. The cost of converting it to this type of system would also cost more as more would have to be done for the conversion. Buses are already clogging up areas within Westmead, Parramatta, Carlingford and Macquarie University precinct.

Why convert to light rail then?

This answer is actually quite simple, as it would take far less time to convert,  the current trams that the NSW Government is considering retiring from next year onwards would be used to gap fill until new rolling stock can be brought, Frequency of service could jump unto every 10-15 mins in the peak and in the off peak every half hour instead of the current hourly services provided by heavy rail (aka Sydney Trains).

It would also offer an opportunity to make Clyde wheelchair accessible whilst also plan for the network to expand to Westmead and Macquarie University precinct or Lane Cove and even continue further expansion of this network towards Bankstown in areas currently underserved by bus services which have been cut or frequency dropped from previous levels.

It would also offer a more accessible service for people with disabilities using wheelchair or walking frames, stick or crutches, the elderly or families with prams.

The majority of the light rail stops can be built either where the current existing Carlingford Line stations are or next to them with most actually at street level requiring no lifts or major ramp constructions.

To me this makes a more sensible plan and help builds growth for patronage and expansion as well as improve public transport connections not only for the community as a whole but a more accessible transport option for people with disabilities without having any major hassles or drama's which they currently face to this day.

But I would like to get your feedback or suggestions on converting the Carlingford Line to Light Rail? Do you think it is a sensible and though out process and idea to carry through with or would you consider another option or stay with the current incumbent form of transport. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Australia - In need of a new Telco

Ok I know that I might have actually talked about this sometime in the last year or so, but I wanted to talk about it again purely because we have seen the big three telco's wipe out a number of its competitors, albeit third party companies that are Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO), basically operators that utilise the big three telco companies networks to provide services to us mere customers.

One of the biggest MVNO's to have closed in the last 12 months was Kogan Mobile, who was basically unable to reach an agreement with Telstra after the big telco's wholesaler, ISPOne, went into administration after legal court case was started by Telstra relating to underpayment of accounts and bills.

We have also seen smaller MVNO's merge with other providers to leverage for better deals against the big telco's, which have resulted in some good deals being passed on to the end consumer, only to be later changed, terminated or in most cases, price hikes because of agreement terms for services changing between the big telco's and their MVNO counterparts.

But this is only the tip of the iceberg so to speak. There has also been a very slow yet rapid case of the big telco's cutting data allowance which is growing exponentially year on year. For example Boost pre-paid used to offer 3GB data on their $40 UNLTD pre-paid plan, but as of last month, that was cut to 2GB data. Telstra plans have slowly been cutting their data from their existing plans, whilst price increases continue to also come into the foray.

So the question to me remains, why do we as Australian's allow this happen?

The now former head of Optus in Australia, Kevin Russell, late last year at a conference said that the Telecommunications industry is in Australia has become a joke which sadly has meant that customer satisfaction is now at an all time low whilst the telecom companies continually gouge customers.

Before he left Optus last month, he had implemented a turn around for the nations 2nd biggest telco company through its My Plan consumer mobile plans, which are aimed at helping customers take the worry out of bill shock and personally I can see some value in this and hope that the other 2 major telco's will consider moving to this type of thinking, but I hold my doubts.

And its these doubts that fuels the idea for me at least, as to why we need more competition from another telco who is willing to build their own infrastructure to take on Optus, Vodafail and Telstra.

So which company would I like to see come to Australia, well there are a number, but the best would be between either Telefonica or T Mobile.

Why would I choose these companies?

Simply put I feel that they have the muscle needed to bring real competition into a marketplace where mobile growth is continually growing, but lack of real competition and innovation has stymied this growth as customers just feel they are trapped. I should know I am one of them.

But I would like to also see and hopefully think that two other Australian companies could build their own infrastructure and bring this needed competition to the marketplace. The two companies I am referring to are TPG and iiNet. For me, they offer some sort of real value, platform and if not the manpower but customer numbers to show that they could be a force to reckon with.

However I doubt this will ultimately happen as we see that the big 3 rather continue their strangle hold on the marketplace and consumers, continual gouge customers and really not bring any value to a market who is crying out for change.

But I can hope that change will come...........eventually.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

So what is the problem allowing same sex marriage here?

So what is the exact problem of passing same sex marriage equality laws here in Australia?

I mean come on, most states in the USA, which I remind you are, well yeah "special" have passed laws, hell even most European countries, even our trans-tasman counterparts in New Zealand recently passed same sex marriage equality laws, so what's stopping us then?

Time after time I hear its because the church doesn't like it - tough bickies I say. Mean if they want to lecture us about God hating gays well then honey, your going straight to hell with us for wearing man made fivers (even if its half, your half way there. Aka polyester fibres).

Enjoying that shellfish - thats a ticket to Hell.

Cheating on your partner - Yep you guessed it, you're coming to the party down in the depths of fire breathing hell as well.

You maybe asking yourself why, well the bible does state that no man or woman shall wear man made fibres, beautify themselves (so make up is a big no no), Gambling, eating shellfish, all big no no's in the bible, yet I don't hear the church stopping everybody from doing that (probably because they do it themselves - bastards!).

But honestly if its ok to wear man made fibres, put that foundation on along with lipstick and your eye liner, gamble, even drink alcohol, swear, hell even eat those delicious lobsters and oysters pst of us like, then why is it such a bloody big problem allowing same sex marriage?

I mean really what is the god damn fucking problem?

It just honestly gets to me that all my other friends, who are straight, can get married, have kids yet as a openly gay man living with my loving partner for the last 4 years and being engaged for the last 4 years as well, can be denied marriage because I love someone of the same sex!!

Its just wrong. This isn't the 1950's which most people like to pretend we live in for some fucking reason.

Sorry to rant on but I don't see what the problem is and I am sick of people like Fred Nile (who honestly is quite past it and should be a retirement home for the narrow minded wankers) argue saying the bible doesn't allow it whilst they themselves sin just bad if not worse than the whole gay community combined.

Here's hoping sanity and common sense will prevail...........someday, hopefully!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

"Second Class" Citizen thoughts

So basically I have come to the conclusion, from both a societies and community view as a whole, I am literally a second class citizen and honestly, if fucking sucks!!

Why am I a second class citizen I hear you say, well it's because I am an openly gay man in a loving same sex relationship but cannot marry like the majority of my straight friends and family. no disrespect to them but it sucks and it is somewhat a major slap in the face when I can't do the same thing with my loving long term partner.

The best thing I can do is either go overseas and stay over there and be married or have a commitment ceremony which basically give no legal title to say I am married nor provide any additional legal rights.

In all honesty I think option A, moving over to New Zealand might be the better option of them all (so moving to another country that allows gay/same sex marriage). It has struck me that NZ, with literally not even half the population of Australia, has had both civil unions for same sex couples, but is now allowing same sex marriage, can pass such legislation before we do here in Australia.

I mean COME ON!!! It's the bloody 21st Century for crying out loud!! We should be more accepting and more open to this option than ever before, but no we're not!!

The other part is because I have a disability and I am what is considered by many, a drain on society and the health system so why waste more money on them basically (and harshly put analogy but true).

I hate going into a hospital or medical centre/clinic and feeling like I am just yet again another number or statistic that literally goes towards the further decline of health services, transport, public issues that either get swept under the carpet or

I mean it shouldn't be this way really. Honestly it sucks and I wonder why sometimes and how society as a whole has allowed things to get this way. In some what I feel like bonking my head against the wall hoping things will change soon but on the other hand I know it won't and thats what's really getting me down.

I feel like I just exactly like many others I know, could be in the same boat and its just so damn fucking frustration.

But again I just feel like there is nothing I can do to make change happen sadly. most people don't understand what it is like to be gay and have a disability. It is extra hard to even absolutely manic because your always fighting on various fronts.

Honestly I am beginning to wonder if I should be happy to call myself Australian or not, because right now I do honestly feel like I am embarrassed to say so or do so.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My Transport Solutions - Part 2

So I thought it was about time I try and explain part 2 of my Transport Solutions. So without further delay, here it is.

Duplication of the Richmond Line

In order to support Richmond RAAF base to become Sydney's next or new Domestic airport (which leave Kingsford Smith aka Sydney Airport to become international only with some domestic services), duplication of the Richmond line from Schofields to Richmond would be required.

No with this I have thought long and hard about whether or not the train line should remain open whilst this occurs and given a report last year stated the Quakers Hill to Schofields section could have been built and completed faster if the line was to have been closed at the time, so heeding this I think full closure for the line after preparation works are completed would be necessary. Yes it would mean buses for say a year and a half, but the short term pain for long term gain is far more beneficial than anything.

Richmond Line to become the new Cumberland Line

Ok so this idea I have stated for a while now to add extra capacity ot what is already a packed and pretty much always cancelled peak hour service/line. What I propose for is say maybe 1-2 trains an hour would go into the city during peaks hours only and vice versa return from the city, but for the remainder of the time, trains running on the Richmond line would become all stations to Campbelltown and return from Richmond. This could only be done once the line is fully duplicated, although I can't see why it can't be done when the new timetable comes out in October.

Carlingford Line

The Carlingford line is almost somewhat like the Richmond line, given most of its route is single line and whilst the former NSW Labor Government did sign an agreement with the Federal Government for an upgrade of the line and extension to Epping and Parramatta (making it form the former Parramatta to Chatswood via Epping idea), its seems that this idea is now mothballed and the Carlingford line will remain as it is.

There is also an idea or plan through Parramatta city council to make this line into a light rail service that connects Westmead and Parramatta with the carling ford line being extended as a light rail service to Macquarie park and some hills areas. To me this would make sense really at the end of the, considering the line is barely used and really doesn't have good connections for commuters as well as an accessible transport interchange for people with disabilties.

Bankstown Line - become all single deck fast metro

This idea comes directly from the plan to have the Bankstown line become part of the the extended North West Metro. The line is considered a branch line and to me it would make sense in converting it to single deck trains with higher frequencies of 10-15minutes in the off peak and 2-5mins in the leak.

There would so need additional track between erskinville and St. Peter's which can be accomplished but we shall see what the over meant may choose to do with this excess land with their just released development plan.

T-way services

Tways such as the Parramatta to Liverpool, Parramatta to Rouse Hill and Blacktown are great services, but are also a problem being they do have limited capacity against a growing demand for more buses which ultimately do clog up the streets let alone also run late and are more prone to breakdowns than anything else.

My suggestion would be to convert the T-Ways into a light rail system with frequencies of services every 10 minutes in the peak and 20-25minutes in the off peak and 30mins on weekends and public holidays. The reasoning beind it is parramatta interchange is fast clogging up with buses and is almost at breaking point. Light rail also offers more frequency and more passenger numbers than one bus combined.

Monorail or light rail at Olympic Park & surrounding suburbs

With the monorail now a distant memory in the minds of Sydney spiders, my suggestion was to move the monorail to Olympic park to service not only the growing hub of commercial and residential development within the main Olympic park area/precinct but to also service newington and the developments around the Olympic park ferry terminal with Olympic park station as the main interchange to feed passengers into train services or other bus services (more so train services).

If by chance the monorail solution was not viable, a plan to have light rail service placed in the same manner but potentially linkin over to Rhodes, Homebush and Strathfield along to Parramatta, still mainly servicing the Olympic Park and Newington commercial and residential developments.

Buy new OSCars to replace remainder non air conditioned fleet

Now this is going to sound crazy, but my idea here surrounded the government buy more OSCars from UGL rail (builders of the OSCars, hunter DMU and the Tangara's) but there would be a twist in which the fleet would have no toilets nor luggage racks and be made to just be purely suburban operation only.

Why I chose this as an option comes from the issues surrounding the Waratah train Public-Private Partnership (PPP) as the builder, reliance rail (which is 50/50 partnership between EDI Rail, builder of he bungled Millenium trains and Hitachi rail systems) has still ongoing issues with delivery of the last train not due now till late 2014. This option was also chosen as the current transport minister, Gladys Berjiklian, did miss the deadline to order a further 20 sets. This does offer an opportunity to filled by an increased and somewhat changed order for more OSCar trains!

In my opinion, UGL Rail have been able to build and produce the OSCar fleet recently on budget and on time, given though it did have trouble originally, they have been able to adapt and make changes quickly to allow for speedy delivery of the new fleet compared to reliance rail/EDI Rail/hitachi Rail.

Replace all V-Set's

Whilst this option is currently happening, it's taking a little too long if you ask me. With that said, most V-sets are still from an operations standing in good condition and yes they do have the most comfy seats from what I can remember, but from an accessible point of view - besides the 4 car V train set that is the only wheelchair accessible all bar the toilet, the rest aren't and this is a huge issue.

A lot of people tend to think that just building lifts or ramps to make things more wheelchair accessible for disabled or less ables people is all that is required!!

My reply to that is FUCK NO!! The trains need to be wheelchair accessible and the V Sets don't offer this at all. Try being in a wheelchair and sitting in the freezing cold or extreme heat because you can't get into the air con area, combined with constantly having to move side to side out of the way not only of the guard or passengers to disembark on the various platform door sides - Its tiring and quite honestly fucking frustrating.

I know that it's something that is slowly being changed but thats just the problem, its taking way to long and in all honesty without real consultation!!

Fix the differences in platform heights

This is one of the bigger issues which really should go at the top of the list and this blog but I can't be bothered because I know I will be wasting my breath on it. But I the various height differences between the train and the platform is becoming bigger and quite higher, as if the platforms are either sinking of the trains are taking some serious hormones to grow taller!!

In London where the now Sydney Trains CE (chief executive) was working, did have "humps" where a very small sections of the platforms (sometimes there could be up to 3 humps at a platform) would be raised like a hump to allow wheelchairs, strollers, walkers etc, to easily get on and off tube trains without hassles and without assistance of ramps.

Now this is something Sydney SHOULD and I stress the point SHOULD be looking at because the ramps that are placed at stations when a train comes in for a wheelchair person to board or disembark is becoming a nightmare if not very unsafe because of the height differences.

But alas I have very strong believe and knowledge this won't happen because to Gladys Berjiklian, its too costly (yet she can use her credit card on wasteful things like uniforms that don't fit staff - almost 6.6 million blown on that along along with a supposed 6 million payout to Tennis Australia for the continued use of the new hop logo. Stupid *&*&$*#^^%&$*#&)

But these are just part 2 of my transport solutions and whilst I just travel on the trains and for people who work on the railways, they hate my kind, to us enthusiast my suggestions are just that - suggestions. So if you work in the railways and have lasted this long and are reading this, rolling your eyes and either swearing your brains out, sighing or wanting to comment a bitchy comment back - BRING IT ON I SAY!! Sometimes its better to have fresher eyes and perspective than a closed one I say.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Should Nokia branch our of Windows Phone?

Hot off the announcement of Nokia's new 1020 41megapixel camera phone, it got me thinking - should Nokia branch out of Windows Phone 8?

Sure Nokia has its "Asha" brand which is slightly different and rehashed form of Symbian mobile operating system, which really is slow, lagging and not really bringing any further enhancement nor actually worth investment anymore.

So what should Nokia do?

I do believe Nokia should take a leaf out of HTC, Samsung, Huawei, ZTE, etc and actually branch out into not only Windows Phone 8, but also Android and they should also look at bringing back MeeGo as well.

Nokia can make great hardware but its software choice is lacking and quite honest, boring to say the least. So here is what I think they should do:

Make an entry/low and mid end Android Phones

Nokia should look at making not only an entry level/low end device but also a mid tier device to help resurrect their fortunes in the mean time, enabling them to really kick ass with great hardware and software alike. 

I honestly think Nokia could excel in the android arena with they way they can honestly make great devices that people used to love and still somewhat do with an incredible, growing and popular OS.

Resurrect MeeGo

Nokia N9

The Nokia N9 really did bring a very simple to use and very clean operating system with a fantastic phone. I honestly do believe Nokia should look at bringing back MeeGo through again an entry level/low end and mid tier devices. Maybe even a high end device like the N9 could be on the cards here for Nokia to create.

I have to say, owning (yes I still have an N9) the Nokia N9 really has opened my eyes, because it is just simple, beautiful and not as fussy or clunky like iOS or Windows Phone7 and 8 combined.

Have less dependence on Windows Phone

Nokia Lumia 710

I will say this, whilst I hate Windows/Microsoft in general, Windows Phone 7/8 is ok......ish. In my honest opinion, it still has a very long way to go before it could or should take on Android and iOS.

Nokia needs to shift from being 100% Windows Phone reliant and really Stephen Elop should just admit he made a very big mistake staking Nokia's future on an OS that is far from popular or worth investing time and money into.

Bury and close down Symbian & Asha

Well I think the sub heading really says it all. Nokia should just end their stake within Asha and Symbian and focus on the above core OS' instead. Honestly, Asha and Symbian have been dead in the water and any justification to keep these OS operating and in production would and will create headaches for Nokia and its shares/money.

Oust Stephen Elop

I am not generally a fan of mutiny, but I think Stephen Elop should be overthrown and kicked to the side for even staking not only his reputation but state the reputation and money of such a wonderful company on a failed OS would be ensuring that share holders and stake holders alike watch their company continually shrink its market share and eat into profits and continually loose confidence within the management of the board failing to turn the companies fortune around.

This is where a change in leadership would be required to end the contract with Microsoft and look at other alternatives to help stem losses and bring back former Nokia consumers back from its competitors.

Of course this is just my opinion and ideas, but I would be intrigued if this is in fact what could be happen within Nokia, because there have been rumours and reports the senior management, board and shareholders and stakeholders are watching with baited breath and trying to get Nokia out of its worse situation it has ever been in.

Here's hoping they do something fast and soon to bring a once mighty and respected company back into reality and into today's modern standards OS wise.

So what are your thoughts on what Nokia should do?