Transport Direct – Connecting People to Places

I was alerted to this site by my friend and colleague Dot Walker. It claims to give “information for door-to-door travel for both public transport and car journeys around Britain. Our aim is to provide you with comprehensive, easy-to-use travel information to help you plan your journeys effectively and efficiently.” They work with both public and private travel operators and local/national government. It is operated by a consortium led by Atos Origin. The non-profit service is funded by the UK Department for Transport, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Scottish Executive.

I have seen many of these types of services before and most of them have been dire. They are usually OK as far as trains and flights are concerned but when you get down to the really local level where you need to take buses or trams they generally fail. I decided to test it out on some real stinkers. My husband and I have been walking the “Thames Path”. This is a route of foot and tow paths that follow the River Thames from its source near Kemble to the Thames Barrier at Woolwich. We use public transport to get to and from the various staging posts, and we sometimes need to use some weird and wonderful combinations of services to do it. Until now we have had to work out the transport routes ourselves, so I thought this would be a good test of the door-to-door option.

Transport Direct came up trumps every time: Ashton Keynes, Cricklade, Wallingford – even Castle Eaton. And it sometimes came up with better, alternative routes that we had never considered. The Maps section shows each stage of the journey and form of transport.

On tickets/cost it was not so comprehensive. It was able to give fare options for trains but not always for the buses. That is a minor quibble, though. We just need to know that if we break off early on our walk, or decide to go a bit further, that there is a way home other than phoning for a taxi to rescue us. And you can access the service from your PDA or mobile. Brilliant!

Dohop – low cost flight search engine

Dohop is a relatively new search engine from Icelandic company Dohop Ltd. At launch, it concentrated on low cost airlines but now includes “standard” airlines and fares, and suggests flight combinations where needed. It does not sell flights or take bookings but the search results include links to airlines and travel agent websites where you can book tickets directly. To search, you start typing in the location of your departure point and dohop will come up with a list of suggested airports as it does with your destination. Click on the date fields and a calendar pops up to help you enter them in a valid format.

When the results list is displayed, you can narrow down your search by airport, transits and airline. Prices are automatically displayed when there is only one price for an airline/airport. For the other results, click on the Get Price link and the range of options is displayed together with the source. For my London/Inverness test search it came up with four prices for a flight that it had found on the BMI web site, Expedia, ebookers and Opodo. Prices are in shown by default in Euros but you can change the currency via a pull down menu. So far, I am impressed and I have not yet been able to better the results by going to my usual sources one by one.

Inforum – Prague

It is obviously the time of year when calls for conference papers are issued. First the ILI call dropped into my inbox and then the invitation from Inforum.

The 12th Inforum conference will take place in Prague, Czech Republic, May 23-25 2006. The three-day conference focuses on a variety of issues concerning the use of electronic information resources in research, development, education and business. It is attended by information specialists from public and special libraries, corporate sector and government agencies. I attended last year as a speaker and workshop presenter and was so impressed by the quality, variety and enthusiasm of the conference that I shall be attending this year as a delegate. One of the great things about this event is that you do not see the same faces giving the same talks every year: it is always fresh and vibrant and takes place in a wonderful city that should be on your must-visit list.

If you are interested in taking part at the conference, either as a speaker or as a participant, you can find detailed information at the Inforum 2006 website (which includes main conference topics, paper submission form, etc.). The delegate registration forms will be available along with the preliminary conference programme by the beginning of March 2006.

Internet Librarian International 2006: Call for Speakers

Information Today invites proposals for presentations at Internet Librarian International 2006, to be held at the Copthorne Tara Hotel in London, UK, 16-17 October 2006. The emphasis is on the practical rather than theoretical, and on case studies and proposals about initiatives in your library, not product pitches or overviews. If you would like to be considered as a speaker, please go to to submit your ideas (deadline: 30 March 2006).

Possible topics (but don’t let this limit your imagination!) include:

Web search
Digital libraries/collections
Social software and social networking
Blogs, wikis, podcasts
Libraries as publishers
Taxonomies, folksonomies
Gaming in the library
Information policy
Web site usability
Web 2.0
Library 2.0
Open access and open source
Distance learning

If your proposal is selected, the primary speaker will receive a complimentary registration to the full conference, which includes lunches and a reception.

Energy Balance

I do not normally recommend blogs or web sites whose authors and affiliations remain a mystery but there are many reasons why the person behind this might want to remain anonymous. I came across this blog while searching for background information to the current debate on the so called “energy crisis”, and the recent contretemps between Russia and the Ukraine over gas supplies. The entries in this blog are more like short essays than the usual brief postings that bloggers tend to write, but it is worth taking the time to read them carefully and in full. The writer covers all aspects of energy production, generation and consumption and discusses the feasibility of alternative and renewable energies as a replacement for our current “mix” of energy sources. Whether you agree or disagree with this blogger, some of the points raised should you make you stop and think seriously about how we manage our energy resources now and in the future. As to why he/she should wish to remain anonymous, it could be that his current employer would not be too pleased about the stance taken over some issues.

Mozdev Googlebar for Firefox updated

Googlebar has been updated to make it compatible with Firefox 1.5. It was possible to fool Firefox into allowing the earlier Googlebar extension to be installed by using the Nightly Tester Tools but one could not guarantee that all the buttons would work. Note that this is not the Toolbar provided by Google but a completely separate project. I much prefer the Mozdev Googlebar as it offers far more search options from the toolbar including video, book, Scholar, Maps, Local and Glossary search.