Saturday, 4 February 2012

Lemniscate or Obfuscate

Lemniscate? See note [1]
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If you are used to reading fbb's blog early in the day, today
you would have had to wait until 0830. fbb lives at the end
of a very thin internet wire and his broadband is often
narrow. Sometimes it stops altogether. Apologies!
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To Infinity and Beyond ...
Readers may remember two very popular fbb blogs. See "Are They Having a Laugh" (read again) and "Are They Having a Laugh Still Sniggering" (read again). They concerned the timetable first posted at Barncliffe Road, Sheffield, for jointly marketed Optio Orange service 120 way back in July 2011.
It showed a 10 minute frequency the short distance to Fulwood but only evening...
... and Sunday journeys to Sheffield Centre and beyond.

This fbb diagram shows the usual pattern of service shared between First and Stagecoach.
Fulwood is about three quarters of a mile towards the city from the terminus.
So, apparently, according Travel South Yorkshire [TSY], there wasn't much of a useful service on Monday to Saturday daytimes; unless, of course, you wanted to get to and from the flesh-pots of Fulwood. Not to put too fine a point on it, the information was completely, totally, utterly and ridiculously wrong in every possible way. And that's putting it mildly!

There were very few complaints (if any) as most Sheffielders have long since learned to treat anything emanating from TSY Towers with "polite suspicion", preferring to ask a local yokel, "Ey oop lad, wenz next boos t t stooers?" [see note 2]

But chum John complained with vehemence. John used to work for TSY in the timetable department, so he should know. Apologies were duly dispatched over the ether and a replacement panel was posted. It was still wrong, but much less wrong than the one shown above.

But within a few weeks, in early September 2011, the nearly right timetable was taken down and ...
... another copy of the wrong random rubbish was published.

Again, after a week or so and another protest from John, this wrong timetable was taken down and replaced with the "more nearly right" version.

And all remained well until last weekend, specifically 29th January. The 120 timetable has changed again. Not much, just by a few minutes here and there; City to Barncliffe Road journeys still every 8 mins Monday to Friday daytime, every 10 mins Saturday and Sunday daytime and every 15 mins later in the evening.

So guess what appeared at Barncliffe Road this time?
You guessed it; the  completely, totally, utterly and ridiculously wrong in every possible way version. Sadly, fbb has not been sent the actual current version; but John reports that it differs only in minor detail from the drivel previously delivered to the worthy but deceived residents of Upper Fulwood. 

fbb thought the problem was with TSY's very expensive software system. It's officially called "Data Adjustment For Timetables" but is better known by its four letter acronym.

But here fbb owes TSY a profound apology. These panels are actually produced as part of a much more interesting project called "Timetable Writers' Extremely Reasonably Priced System".

Simeon Apethorpe of SYPTE, Professor Guy Grillo from Sheffield University Anthropology Department and Jim Pansy, head keeper at Chester Zoo, have been working to use monkeys to produce timetable material for Sheffield.

Monkeys?
It has been said that if you gave a typewriter (that's what people used before confusers became "de rigueur") to each of a large enough flock of monkeys and left them for a long enough period of time (approaching infinity), they would eventually type the complete works of Shakespeare.

TSY reckons that a timetable for service 120 is easier for our simean cousins than the outpourings of Bill the Bard. So, given time, cheap timetable production could be arranged. For just a few bags of peanuts and a little patience, costs could be dramatically reduced.

But, as we see above, it ain't working yet.

Still, give the project time. Strengthen the focus group. Prepare a contingency plan. Employ a couple more managers. Refer any problems to the monitoring committee and maybe one day ...

... they'll get it right!
Blog Brother is watching you - very carefully
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Note [1] : Lemniscate : is the usual term for the "eight-on-its-side" symbol that means "infinity". It comes from a Latin word meaning "with ribbons".
Note [2] : "Ey oop lad, wenz nex boos t t stooers?" translates very roughly as:-
Excuse me kind sir,
can you inform me of the departure time
of the next available omnibus
to convey me to the
Co-operative shopping facilities?
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 Next Blog : due Sunday February 5th 

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