Montréal Métro iPhone app

Logo for Montréal Métro Exits
Logo for Montréal Métro Exits

On and off for the last little bit, I’ve been working on a little bit of a side-project: Something for when I don’t want to think about research ethics anymore. I was inspired to do this by something I heard on CBC a while back. A guy in London, UK made an iPhone app that would tell you which car to exit so that you would be closest to the exit on the subway.

I thought that this was a great idea. I would certainly use an application like that! Turns out someone already did it for Montréal, but they did a crappy job of it. The data set is incomplete, and the interface leaves much to be desired. Also, this other app tells you nothing about which car to board in order to transfer. In fact, the other app told you only which métro car to exit in order to be near the exit, not which métro car to enter, which seemed to undermine the point of the app. You need to know which car to board before you get on the train. (You can’t just infer one from the other, though, since in some cases the train approaches from the right side of the platform and in some cases it approaches from the left.)

I decided to write an app that would be really simple from the user’s perspective—just choose two stations, and the app tells you which car to get into at your departure station, and then which car to get into at your transfer station(s) (if applicable). I thought it would be a good exercise, just as practice for some other ideas for iPhone apps that I’ve had.

So, a couple weeks ago, I donned my lab coat, grabbed a clip board and went to every métro station in Montréal and wrote down where all the exits were. I also collected information regarding transfers. Writing the app wasn’t so hard, although submitting it to the iTunes store was a bit of a headache. That said, it was approved on my first try, and it took less than a week. (Thanks, Apple!)

It was getting Apple to process my tax forms that was the longest part of the development process.

The app was approved on Friday the 18th, and Apple processed my Canadian tax info last Tuesday. I had to fill out some US tax forms (just indicating that I wasn’t a US citizen) and then today they finally started selling my app on the iTunes store.

Tell your friends! Seriously. Every month I get roughly 300 visits to my blog from people in the Montréal area. If I could get a few of you guys to post this to your Facebook, I’d be raking it in. :)

Now that I’ve sort of figured out how to write and submit an app for the iPhone, I’ve got my sights set on bigger cities where this sort of app hasn’t been written before. (Yes, there are still some. Not many!) Also, I have a few ideas for other, better iPhone apps that I think could be a lot of fun. I’m not about to start posting my ideas on the internet though: That’s a great way to have someone else make my app before I do. :P

Sweden Sour Pork

The Swedish Chef
Bork bork bork

The result of a mispronunciation of “sweet-and-sour pork,” Sweden sour pork is a great culinary idea for someone looking to make it big in the competitive and lucrative world of naming foods that don’t sound very good in a way that makes them sound nearly the same as other more popular foods.

To pull it off properly, though, you’d need to be a chef from Sweden. A Swedish Chef, if you will.

Smelly candles that don’t stink when you blow them out

I’ve always got a bunch of great ideas. Seriously. This is even better (and probably more profitable) than my idea for replacing “quatre-vingt-dix” in French with “trois-trente.” (“Trois-trente huit, trois-trente neuf, cent—prêt pas prêt j’y vais!” Anyone who has studied French as a second language will agree that this is a very reasonable first step toward reforming the French language.)

By the way, if you take my idea and make a million dollars off it, by reading this sentence, you agree, in a legally-binding sense, to give me the trifling cut of only 40% of the profits. I’m pretty sure that’s how this works. I saw it on the internet once.

Here’s my idea. I have some candles in my apartment. Smelly candles. Some are supposed to smell like fruits, some like gingerbread. When the candles are burning, they smell wonderful. This is good.

The problem comes when I blow the candles out. Every smelly candle does this: When you blow it out, it smells like smoke and something burning, and all the benefit of having lit a smelly candle in the first place is gone forever. This is bad.

Here is my proposed solution. Someone should invent a smelly candle that doesn’t stink when you blow it out. You could do this through the use of … umm … chemistry. Or maybe some sort of apparatus that contains the smoke and releases it slowly over several hours, so that I don’t notice it until it’s already over. At least there wouldn’t be the swift and dramatic difference between everything smelling good, and then all of a sudden, smoke and burning things. Maybe I just need to get an airtight jar made of a strong kind of glass whose top I can close when I want to extinguish the candle. I imagine that there would be complications because the air would all be burned up inside the glass, but we can let the engineers solve that one.

Any thoughts?