Thursday, 26 November 2009

British Airways Sound Sucks

I'm on my way to visit my family in Chicago on a British Airways flight. Like the impoverished Startup CEO that I am, I'm in the back in cattle class (and let me tell you, trying to find a way to open a 15" MBP in coach isn't pretty).

I was worried about opening the laptop, and my iPhone given the 30 emails I had to deal with between syncing up at home and getting on the flight is a little low on battery, so I thought I'd watch one of the in-flight movies.

Does nobody actually check on the state of the audio?

Option One: My In-Ear iPhone Headphones. Result: Excellent background sound and music, inaudible voice.

Option Two: Provided British Airways Headphones. Result: I can at least hear the audio if I crank it, background sounds and audio are just a blur of over-amplified fuzz.

Man, this is going to be a long flight. And given that the person in front of me just reclined fully and I can't even see what I'm typing anymore, even though the laptop is on my actual lap, I can't see it getting any better.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Canary Wharf Travel Apocalypse

At least 90,000 people work in Canary Wharf every day. Only 25% of them live in the surrounding 5 boroughs. That means that the rest of them have to travel quite far to get to this simmering hell-hole.

However, there is exactly one Underground stop and line that goes there. The Jubilee line. Many of those 90,000 workers come from South-West London, since one of the reasons that the Jubilee line travels the way it does is to be just as convenient for the ex-City workers as the Waterloo & City line ("The Drain") many used to take to work. The Jubilee Line sucks though. It fails. A lot. And when it does fail, here's the sequence:

  1. Travellers from South-West Trains get to Waterloo and are held outside the ticket barriers due to overcrowding on the platforms. During this time, the Jubilee Line has "Good Service."
  2. Eventually, they will finally acknowledge that the Jubilee line has problems (for example, this morning and Friday morning they shut it down completely during rush hour).
  3. Somewhere in between the two, there will be a rush to the Waterloo & City line so that people can transfer to the DLR, the only other form of mass transit that goes to the simmering stink-hole that is Canary Wharf.
  4. Too many people will start interchanging at Bank station rather than just exiting it, leading to
  5. An evacuation of Bank Station due to overcrowding, leading to
  6. The Waterloo & City line getting shut down, leading to
  7. Everybody stuck precisely where they are.

Yep, that's right, when the Jubilee line has a hiccup, nobody gets to work in the City.

Who in their right mind allowed Canary Wharf to go in with a single tube line and no redundancy in any form in transport, and then to just keep expanding to no end? Whoever it was was an idiot.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

The Vatican Is On Crack

Just to be clear of current Vatican Doctrine:

  • 9-year-old girl is raped by her step-father;
  • Doctors don't believe she's capable of carrying *twins* to term without threatening her life;
  • Aborting the fetuses or assisting or advising the abortion warrants excommunication;
  • Raping a 9-year-old girl and getting her pregnant with twins doesn't warrant excommunication.
I have no other commentary.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Living With The NHS Rocks

So I was just watching Random TV (meaning US-based drama shows, to which I'm still addicted, 5 years on), and on came an ad (which I had already seen) about identifying the symptoms of a stroke victim to get immediate action so that you minimize the damage that the stroke might do (and as we all know, time means everything when dealing with a stroke).

Could anybody do that in the states? Not bloody likely. The best you'd get is some ad for a drug that has nothing but happy old people wandering through a field of flowers saying "call your doctor for more information on Strokivius." There's no single agent that has enough pull, or enough interest in the general welfare of everybody watching TV, to advertise things like that. I mean, Readers Digest might do it in their generic "Old People Who Still Read This Health Section," but nobody who's going to attempt to target all residents.

I'm not going to claim that the UK is a Single Payer Paradise (I've used more than my share of private health insurance and care providers while I've lived here). But I love the fact that the NHS exists, and I have no problems with paying taxes to support it. Without a single major agency with the best interests of the health of all citizens around, you can't support that type of public education.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Gaza Zoo Wrecked

This is all unsubstantiated, as I think you'd guess. However, apparently the recent hostilities have virtually destroyed Gaza Zoo. The London Times has a slightly less inflamatory version.

Unfortunately, in any human conflict like this, zoos are always badly hit, because they require people to take care of their animal charges. Zoos need staffers to look after the animals, constant supplies of food, clean water to clean enclosures and for drinking water for animals. When human conflict disrupts the flows of any of that to a zoo, it's the animals who suffer.

And the animals did nothing wrong.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Delivery Guys Carrying Cellular PDUs

(Background: For my USian visitors, all our credit/debit cards have a smart chip, and you have to put in a PIN rather than signing anything; it's quite secure, and giving your number over the phone is the most significant fraud vector for card payments.)

So I made a first order from The Good Earth Express tonight (trying to diversify our Asian food delivery options, and we've been a fan of the restaurant in Knightsbridge for years), and usually when I want to pay for food delivery with a card, I give the number over the phone. Restaurants are noisy places, and this usually doesn't work that well (combine non-British accent, lots of similar numbers, noisy environment). But they have an interesting policy: their delivery people have cellular PDUs to take your card with chip-and-pin right there at your home.

What a great idea! I'm actually surprised that nobody else has ever done this for me. Simplifies things dramatically, and makes me far happier that I'm not giving all details necessary to fraudulently clone my card by shouting over a phone. Great service.

Oh, and the food's great. Not as good as the restaurant, but it's delivery after all. Definitely one to add to the rotation.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Coin Operated Hair Straighteners

I shit you not.

Apparently, a key thing facing today's women is that they might find themselves out somewhere and find their hair insufficiently straight. Therefore, venues that attract today's women when "out socialising, been for a work-out or even when shopping" should ensure that they have coin operated hair straighteners available in their restrooms for emergency straightening-for-hire.

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