Henry MIller, Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch
Alain be Botton, The Art of Travel
I was looking at a Google search result and I saw this alert pop up, regarding a flight:
I clicked on it and saw a second search page, where the search query was ‘My Flights’, and this popped to the top:
And the link to the confirmation email — from which the information had been pulled — was offered up.
So, I can see that Google could build a search-based competitor to TripIt relatively easy. Instead of having to forward travel confirmations from airlines, hotels, etc. to TripIt, Google could simply index them in a smart way. And Google could correlate trips with travel dates on my Google calendar. So imagine if I had a trip to Southern California on calendar as a multiday event, Google could have pulled hotel and other information together with the two flights there and back, and used the name of the event as a tag, or folder, and the calendar event could have collated all the travel information together automatically.
Look out, TripIt!
Flocations, for those that haven’t used it yet, is a visual-based flight search service that lets users seek and find flights, hotels and prices using a map-based layout. The site automatically detects a user’s location based on their IP address (though this can be changed) and, using its ‘price slider’, it then shows potential routes that can be taken within a designated budget. (via Flocations raises $570,000 to enhance its travel discovery service for Asia with new features - The Next Web)
- John Jeremiah Sullivan, My Debt to Ireland
- Nick Bilton, Fliers Still Must Turn Off Devices, but It’s Not Clear Why
Government stupidity and industry hypercautious behavior. It’s the same reason that people are shown how to put on seat belts in 2011, too.
Holiday Inn has been testing technology that will allow guests to use their phones in lieu of room keys, bypassing the front desk. After a customer makes a reservation, a text message is sent with a room number and a phone number to call upon arrival; once this call is made, the system validates the guest’s phone number and responds with a tone that unlocks the door. More tests are planned for later this year.
Yes, I’d like that.
I wonder when I last turned on a TV in a hotel room?
But I would like good speakers, with an audio jack for iPhone, iPad or MacBook. And maybe a good monitor, to watch a movie. But I can handle my own Netflix or iTunes.
[Note: misposted this on /Message the other day. Jet lag. I moved the various comments over]
Headed to London from San Francisco, as I was checking in at Virgin, I saw a sign that suggested that for $110 I could upgrade for an emergency exit row, for extra leg room. “Sure,” I thought. Since I already had an aisle seat, I made sure it was an aisle. No problem. I was confirmed.
However, the seat I got, 38c, on Virgin’s flight 20, May 15 2007, had a broken controller for the media, lights, and other controls. But of course I didn’t discover that until we had taken off, and the well-meaning flight crew had already moved people from other seats into the various emergency exit seats that had not been sold. So the 38a, 3bf and 38g seats that I would have happily moved into are now occupied by various folks who have not paid a nickel extra, and their movie and light controls work perfectly. Now it is too late to move me into one of those seats, without displacing and pissing off some other traveler, although I was the only one who had paid to be there.
The purser tried, I must confess, to some extent. After rebooting the entertainment system twice, I pointed out that the lights didn’t work, so it was likely that the controller was broken. He fetched a tiny, tiny DVD player, and some DVDs to play. Although the screen was 1/2 the size of the back-of-the-seat players, I figured “Fine, what the hell.” But the audio for “Superman Returns” was inaudible using Virgin’s headphones. I used my iPod earphones, although they seemed to only work in mono. I had to cram a piece of napkin in my ear, because I got tired of manually pushing the earphone into my ear to hear the audio. Then the tracking started to fail, and then the audio died altogether. I gave it up as a bad deal.
I suggested to the purser that I should get my $110 back, or my old seat back. He said he was unable to do that, that I should just move to 28b, which has working lights and entertainment system. I pointed out that when I upgraded, I had an aisle, and that I only took the upgrade because they guaranteed me an aisle. Tough, he said, more or less, in a pseudo-polite way. “I am offering you a seat equivalent to the one you had, sir.” Although now, it is a middle seat, with a fat guy from Sun’s elbow sticking into it, which I would never have paid $110 to upgrade into. A fact that is miraculously lost on this guy.
At this moment, three other people are in window or aisle seats, with no one in the center seats: watching movies, with full use of their lights, without having paid a nickel extra. I ask for my money back and he says, “I’m sorry, I can’t do that (translated: Blow me.)”
He offered to get me another DVD player. Maybe this one would work better. Extra bonus points: When I pulled the earphones from my ears the casing on one earphone pulled off, the one secured with napkin. Note that you can’t buy those earphones from Apple anymore: the old iPod earbuds. They are shot. He’s sorry. I’m out a set of earphones. Luckily I have another pair of earphones (not classic Apple ones, though) in my luggage (so long as it appears at Heathrow).
I don’t think that my complaint is going to lead to financial devastation for Virgin, but the episode to date suggests that they don’t care. I am not sure that anyone cares about their customers anymore in the airline business, but I certainly plan to find alternatives, now, to Virgin.
It’s so strange, since I spent a lot of time the other day, struggling with their website. I had to try three different browsers to sign up for their frequent flyer program. Firefox and IE both crapped out on Mac. Safari finally worked. I really wanted to Virgin to be the answer to European travel.
Now I want to send them hate-mail, but I am certain that they are inured to it, and will simply ignore me. I guess they are competing on price, and there is no margin for the customer left. So I will have to find someone else for the next $100,000 of my travel to and from Europe. I am not giving another dime to Virgin unless they make this whole thing right. And how can they? Refund my $110 and a roundtrip for the headaches: that would be a good start. Chances of it happening: next to zero.
I told the purser I was going to blog it. “I’m sorry you feel that way, sir. You can fill in a complaint form, if you’d like.” Yes, I’d like.
I will give them one chance. and one week. I bet I will be flying back from Europe on a different airline. Anyone out there want my business?
Next morning: The Purser must have had a change of heart, because this morning he asked me to fill in a few fields in some form, stating that he “was going to try to get my money reimbursed.” It’s astonishing to me that the Purser on a flight can’t unilaterally decide to refund a fee in a circumstance such as this. We’ll see what happens. I am giving them a week.
The folks at Dopplr, who I have not spoken to directly, have apparently built the ‘ships passing in the night’ app that I have cried out for for years (see here, for example).
The premise is simple, plug in your travel schedule, and a bunch of traveling fools as your social network, and bingo: you will know who is going to be in some time (or your home town) when you are.
The interface is clean and simple.
Above you see a list of my trips. Note that I can’t seem to be able to access the RSS feed. Might be a polling interval issue. Dopplr supports iCal subscription from calendar apps.
Above you see my (tiny) set of pals. At the moment, only Petteri, from Jaiku. He invited me to Dopplr. And he’s boring, since he isn’t traveling in the near term, although I just met him, here in San Francisco, the other day.
If you click on a specific place, you see a page like this:
I didn’t add a note, yet.
Above you see a prospective map of my travels. And below, the same itineraries arrayed in a timeline view:
This last view shows one of the snags, I think. The app seems very day focused: I can’t seem to be able to state the time of day that I will arrive somewhere, and that is critical if you are planning to meet for lunch or dinner.
I love the feel of the app, but I will have to wait for a few dozen friends to get into the beta before I can get the feel of it’s actual social usage patterns.
And of course, I need the RSS feed to work. So, I am replacing my old timeline, built using 30boxes, with Dopplr, as soon as the RSS is up.
One last note. Dopplr creates a fuzzy version of your photo to display in a public page. Here’s the stoweboyd page:
It doesn’t look to me like the public page can be disabled at the moment, either.
There is an SMS interface to Dopplr, but you have to text a +44 number, and I decided to wait until they have a US SMS number set up.
More to follow.