This one is for all gadget men and women travellers. I guess many of you were not sure how to use public transport in the city you were visiting and were stuck in a short conversation on a long ride with the taxi driver who tries to feed his 6 children with the famous 'drive-a-tourist-around-the-block' trick.
If you are a proper traveller and a gadget man or a gadget woman (not sure this two words go together but I don't want to offend women as I love them) you need this piece of software on your latest hi-tech miniature device. Metro is software you can use to find your way through the public transport systems of over 400 cities worldwide. You can install it on almost all PDAs or Smartphones (PocketPC, MS Smartphone, Palm, Symbian S60/80/90, BlackBerry...). There are few exceptions and the most notable one is iPhone. You can use Metro web site as a guide if you are on the iPhone due to the lack of SDK support from Apple.
What does this software do? Basically, you can enter your starting point and destination and it will calculate the best possible route using public transport (taxi rides around the block excluded). You can also ask for a trip back home at the same time, see which interesting points you can visit on your way from A to B and back. It will give you timing and put icons next to the each item on the list so it is easier to know what type of transport you are taking. You can branch out from any point on your route and create a new route.
Installation is straight forward if you follow very clear instructions on their site and are careful which file you actually download from the site. Be aware that there are no maps included in this software. This is only a guide through public transport system with few nice add-ons. The user interface is pretty clear and uncluttered as much as it is possible on small screens of PDAs.
The software is developed by two French guys - Patrice Bernard & Frank Van Caenegem with the help of great community of enthusiasts. It seems that there are not a lot of enthusiasts ready to help development in the UK as you can find more guides for Slovakian cities than UK ones... (Don't worry - London is covered very well with a lot of tourist info and night buses as well)
I don't think the software is perfect for every one of 400 cities but it worked well wherever I tried it. It is very helpful software and on top of that - it is FREE. It doesn't mean you cannot donate to these generous guys.
It is definitely one of these things which come under the saying 'The best things in life are free'. I would also recommend you to use the software to find an empty coach or bus and try other 'best things in life' while travelling. (The software will help you with the timings ;-) )
Web site - http://nanika.net/Metro/
... and now for something completely different...