[FoRK] Does exist, should exist, should not exist (travel edition)
<jbone at place.org> on
Thu Jul 12 07:41:36 PDT 2007
A few thoughts on things that I have long believed should exist that
finally do, and a few more things that should exist that don't yet
and things that do that should not. And these aren't grand or fuzzy
things (world peace, the universal multi-card, or direct brain-CHI
interfaces) but rather the more pedestrian sorts of things that occur
to you when you're at 36,000 feet over Virginia. I mean, my modest
meanderings don't hold a candle to those of FoRK's own Super Travel
Man (tm), but hopefully there's at least a little bit of novel
insight or, barring that, entertainment value here.
(1) I spent more since the late 90s at about this altitude, in-route
from someplace to somewhere else, than I would have preferred. Over
that period of time air travel became, really, unbearable. I'm
actually a pretty compact guy, but even so the standard carriers and
standard seat sizes and ergonomics really just became absolutely
untenable. I am or was gold on various carriers and upgrading
whenever possible helped some, but whenever I'd miss the upgrade and
get stuck in coach, over the years, it just became brutal. Got to
the point where I would just avoid any trip possible. Finally,
somebody did something about that: JetBlue. Thank you, JetBlue.
I've been flying them on my frequent trips to NY ever since they
started flying direct from Austin early last year. Reasonable seat
widths and separation, a reasonable amount of fold-down room --- I'm
writing this on a 15" PowerBook G4 quite comfortably, lid fully open,
and the person in the seat in front is slightly reclined. Just
adding a few inches of extra legroom eliminates the cascading zero-
sum reclining seat failure; looking around I don't see anybody
slamming the seat all the way back. No need. In-flight DirectTV ---
though they seem to have eliminated the XM Radio --- etc. Very
nice. Have had delays at JFK a few times and some flight cancels ---
in fact, this very flight that I'm on was "canceled" at about 9am
this morning and "reinstated" just a little while later --- but
that's par for the course for any airline these days. So, again,
thank you JetBlue. Does-exist: a customer-friendly airline.
(2) Should exist: wi-fi / Internet on the plane. C'mon folks. For
a long time the claim from the airlines was that it was too hard
technically. Complete bullshit. So then they realized they weren't
fooling anybody, and just sort of stopped responding about this at
all. I understand that this has now been tried on at least one
airline and pulled because, eh, "the customers weren't really
interested." WHO ARE YOU FREAKIN KIDDING? Do you people really
think we're that stupid?!? THAT is precisely the kind of bullshit
anti-customer totally delusional asshole attitude that is why many of
the mainstream carriers started hurting so bad. I mean, really,
screw you! The first airline that offers this regularly on the
routes I fly gets all my business, forever. (Assuming they have
JetBlue-like legroom or comp me gold for life so I can fly business
or better all the time. ;-) Generally speaking, get the (cell) phone
thing worked out, too --- and stick a couple privacy cubicles back in
the back, by the bathrooms so people can go get their gab on.
(2a) Laptop power on planes. Everywhere. Every seat. Do it.
(3) SHOULD NOT exist... and here I'm going to name names. I used
to love American Airlines. They were my first gold status, and I've
probably clocked more miles overall on AA than any other airline.
(Thank you nerd-bird, dot-com bubble.) But AA lost all my respect
when they started the whole "red box" bullshit. Look, that is just
nasty. Disgusting. It's inedible. And it's an offense against
human dignity for you to even give it away, much less sell the damn
thing. A nasty, stale, and spare little bag of Tostitos crumbs, a
totally chemical-tasting "turkey sausage stick" and a bag of Lorna
Doone cookies that turned to dust sometime during W's first term in
office? With a packet of really sketchy "taco sauce"? (What's that
for, to dab onto the microscopic Tostito pieces that remain, or to
try to mask the oily chemical aftertaste of the turkey stick?) SCREW
YOU WHOEVER INVENTED THE RED BOX, NO KIDDING, THERE'S A SPECIAL PLACE
IN HELL FOR YOU! You know, if they got rid of the Mansion at Turtle
Creek catering and served the "red box" as lunch at just one American
Airlines board meeting, that whole fiasco would be over, pronto. Get
a clue, AA. And btw, fire that dork Jim Shahin. I've been reading
his column about nothing on the back page of your little American Way
magazine since, I dunno, the Wright Brothers invented flight. The
sum of all and every column he's ever written is less information
than is contained in this sentence and less entertaining than reading
the passenger safety information card. Again. SHOULD NOT EXIST:
Red Box, Jim Shahin's "column" in American Way.
Away from airlines toward more general travel-related thoughts.
(4) Provigil and Ambien. Traveler's friends.
(5) Should exist: Mac ultra-slim solid-state instant-on 14"-15"
convertible notebook / tablet w/ decent battery life. C'mon, Apple,
just *do this thing.* Don't be such a tease. You *know* we want
it! What does it take? Tell me, I'll do it. Naked laps around
Central Park? I'll do it. You want my first-born? Don't have one
yet, but when I do -- take 'em. Seriously. Just make sure we get
decent-sized solid-state drives in there. You can manage 64GB,
surely. (For example, it needs to be able to hold a local copy of
Wikipedia, the CIA WFB, and local Google maps cache at all
resolutions for 2-4 most-visited cities and their associated data.)
And it needs 4 hour battery life, or at least a slim-line battery of
(6) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Earth: Mostly Harmless
Edition). Cf. above: local / Gears-based app / mashup that combines
a smart cache w/ prefetch over Wikipedia, CIA WFB, and Google Maps.
Perhaps some other stuff. Would be nice on the phone, but I'll
settle for it on the ultraportable.
(7) If we can't have a decent ultra-thin Mac, then can we at least
get a decent e-Book reader? All the current offerings are crap.
Really. And let's get the backend part of that thing worked out.
Really. This is simple: wi-fi, a web browser and integrated pdf
viewer. Interface to allow you to "print to" the device, and a
simple cache management thing to allow the full "library" to remain
on a server elsewhere. Nothing else; this isn't a PDA. It's a read-
(8) Every mobile device manufacturer needs to standardize on mini-
USB for hard-line data and power. I mean, c'mon, China's figured
this one out...
(9) Hotels: okay, look, you have to deal with this many, many times
a day. The new domestic US security restrictions almost guarantee
that everybody is going to check in without at least one critical
toilet item. Toothpaste, mouthwash, hair spray, shaving cream,
deodorant, etc. etc. Either open the freakin' gift shop 24 hours or
--- better --- make sure that there's a "survival kit" of all of this
stuff, in every room, at all times. I know, I know --- many are
almost doing this --- but inevitably any time I get in late
somewhere, check in after midnight with a 7am breakfast, gift shop
closed at 11pm and doesn't open 'til 8 --- that's the time I realize
I've got four days of beard going and no shaving cream, and that's
the one thing they don't have in-room. And the dry-shave is a
complete whip! Or if it's not the shaving cream --- they have that,
but not tooth paste, and I forgot the tooth paste.
Back to planes...
(10) They need to either lift the ban on smoking on planes, or
implement separate "farting" and "non-farting" seating areas. I
mean, fuck. And put the toe-pickers and didn't-shower-guy in the
farting section, please... At least when you had a smoking section,
all the rest of this stuff wasn't all that noticeable! 'Nuf said.
(10a) Don't even get me started on the kids and no-kids sections
that are SO DESPERATELY NEEDED...!!!
And a small general rant. Stop "sending your love." Don't tell
anybody you "send your love." I hate that expression. We should
eliminate it entirely. What the fuck does that mean, anyway? How do
you "send your love" to somebody? FedEx? UPS? How do you pack it?
Is there, like, a special rate? I need to complain to whoever my
parents are using to "send their love" because they say that all the
time, yet I never get any deliveries. Is the next-door neighbor,
like, stealing it off my porch? The only deliveries I seem to get
are Amazon. Now, *they* love me. ;-)
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