Archive for June, 2009

Sleeper – mapping European night trains

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

It’s now been 10 months and 10 demo parties since I last saw the inside of an airport (with plenty more to come over the next couple of months… parties that is, not airports), and for any eco-conscious European traveller like me, knowing which sleeper trains to catch is the key to happy travels. So, it’s a bit of a shame that there’s no single website you can go to to find out the best sleeper train to get to European Destination X. Sure, Seat 61 is a fantastic resource for finding out how to get to your country of choice, but you can never be sure whether you’d get better results by heading just across the border, or tweaking your journey times slightly…

So, in a classic case of building a website to scratch a personal itch, and not wanting to let niggly licencing issues get in the way of a cool idea… Sleeper is my new website aimed at searching and mapping the European sleeper train network in its entirety. It’s been put together with Ruby, Rails (gosh, that’s rather apt isn’t it…), Geokit, Google Maps, Hpricot and my own freshly open-sourced Bahn library for snarfing data from Deutsche Bahn‘s website, and hopefully it can give you a fuller picture than ever before of what actually exists in the wonderful world of sleeper trains. Right now it stops short of providing one overall definitive map of the network (it would probably crash your browser if I tried plotting it on Google Maps), but that’s on the todo list.

Ode To Claire / Snakebite

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

A couple of fast-made Spectrum releases for last month’s most excellent Outline demo party. Ode To Claire is a curious little 128 byte intro, using a trick I’ve been wanting to try out for ages. It’s not exactly a fast-paced action extravaganza, but it does fit 150-odd characters of avant-garde poetry, the printing routine, and a demo effect into 128 bytes of code. Working out how is an exercise for the reader (and I’m quite interested to know whether the secret is immediately obvious to anyone who’s at all familiar with the Spectrum…)

On the musical front, Snakebite is a chiptune with a middle-eastern vibe, modelled after every Turkish Eurovision entry ever. It got third place in the competition, and originally they weren’t going to give out a third prize, but they had some spare food left over on the Saturday night, so I won a jar of sausages. Best. Prize. Ever.

Download gasman_-_snakebite.mp3