TSD's Cool Links Page
Transportation Systems Design, Inc. www.tsd.org

Living Without Microsoft

Check out the above link for the latest news about why you should and how to do it. 

Ever worry when opening email attachments from someone you know that it might contain a worm that reformats your hard disk or wonder how your business associates might react after you tell them that virus you just sent them also probably sent itself to everyone in their Outlook Contact list, too? Thanks to fundamental design flaws in the MS Windows OS this problem is here to stay. But today, you are no longer a prisoner of proprietary Microsoft products. For example, Red Hat Linux 8.1 and LindowsOS 3.0 that TSD has evaluated are showing that resistance to Microsoft is no longer futile.

Did you know many Linux users have gone years without rebooting? Incredibly, even Microsoft admits Linux is superior for many reasons. But until recently, desktop users were forced to use products like MS Office. Today, there really are better and less expensive alternatives. Consider OpenOffice that costs nothing and operates on Windows, Mac, and Linux. It can read and write proprietary Microsoft Office formats for Word, Excel and PowerPoint or open XML format. 

For browsers TSD has been using Mozilla instead of Internet Explorer for nearly a year now. Based on Netscape, in nearly every way the latest version of Mozilla appears to be superior to Internet Explorer. It loads faster and has many nice features IE lacks -- such as an option to inhibit un-requested pop up windows and to terminate cookies after the session ends. Mozilla also has an excellent contact list manager similar to Outlook's that imports proprietary Outlook contact address lists flawlessly and integrates it with its own superior email client. The only thing missing is a Scheduler. Best of all Mozilla is free!

In The Case for Open File Formats Sun's Scott McNealy provides good arguments for open interfaces  But this argument is even more important for modern control network interfaces -- not just office PC products. For example, consider these three interface examples:

The Case for Open Monitoring and Control Interfaces

The following table discusses links to to real time web based monitoring (and in one case control). 

Technology Demonstration

Technical Comments

SF Muni's CBTC Subway System 
This real-time view of Muni's CBTC shows about 48 trains/hr operating in its downtown subway. This is about double the number of trains/hr Muni could do before with its fixed-block system. Today, when recovering from a blockage, Muni is able to dispatch trains outbound from Montgomery St. Station at under 60 second headways (I.e., > 60 TPH).

An impressive demonstration of the capability of CBTC technology showing the value of displaying important information in real-time on the Web. But Muni's CBTC has closed proprietary interfaces making it necessary for Muni to focus a web cam on a digital monitor. A bit hokey because it means slow updates & blurred images -- but it is still impressive.
SF Muni's Surface Operation
This demo site displays Muni's LRT system operating in real-time on surface streets. 
It uses GPS and a commercial CDPD radio network.

Coming soon is a new LonMark GPS Profile that should facilitate development of a next generation of open interoperable systems

This system uses more open technology including Java and directly interfaces position data to IP and the web. All digital technology obviates the problems above. Note the much sharper images and more efficient data transfer. Clearly things are moving in the right direction.
Real Time Monitoring & Control 
This link allows you to monitor AND control devices with your web browser. This demo uses LonWorks the de facto standard for Rail Transportation in the US. (See: IEEE 1473-L.)

All devices here conform to open LonMark Profiles.  NYC Transit's new CBTC, for example, will interface with new trains that have serial trainlines using LonWorks and LonMark devices. 

In this Echelon demo LonWorks (IEEE-1473-L) packets tunnel through IP protocol using a tunneling router jointly developed by Echelon and Cisco. Soon to be a new ANSI/EIA standard, this interface IP to LonWorks will soon be published insuring that multiple independent suppliers can provide this type of interface. 


Other Links We Find Interesting or Useful

Rail Transit Performance Simulator - Free
Determine the capacity of an arbitrary rail transit system. Includes a great database of key rail transit figures.
Expedia - Travel Agent
Book flights, make hotel and car reservations. 
GPS Tutorial - Excellent
Everything you wanted to know about GPS but were afraid to ask. 
FatBrain - Technical Books 
Technical books
Where We Are Today with GPS - Impressive 
Scroll down to the "Tennis Court" demo showing what Differential GPS can do today.
The Consumer's Reports of the Web
Kill X10 Pop Ups  Movie Database - Movies
If you're into films you'll love this site.

Thinking Differently

Software Does Not Fail
by Paul Niquette

Fault Tolerant Signals

Intelligent Switch Machine



We're always in the market for cool links and interesting ideas. Please let us know if you know of or find something interesting.


Transportation Systems Design, Inc. www.tsd.org
Revised: 22 Apr 2003