Friday, November 11, 2005

The Idiocy of Air Travel in America

Today's SFO events:

-> A United counter agent calls the SFPD on an international business class traveller
-> TSA takes my last screwdriver

There was a long line for the Premier Executives (and everyone else) in SFO this morning and people were getting frustrated. There was only 3 (up from the usual 2) agents to handle this long line of self-important frequent fliers (myself included). This obviously foreign fellow gets up to the counter (you could tell he was flying on a paid fare business class ticket from somewhere abroad, $$$$) and he says "I've been waiting for 30 minutes, why are there not more people working? What is the hold up?". The snotty agent promptly says, "you should tell management to hire more people, it's not my fault." The guy says, "I'm the customer, I'm the reason you are in business, you should smile and say I'm sorry." The snotty united counter agent calls the SFPD. Can you believe it!? I was shocked. 3 SFPD show up and take the guy aside and talk to him. You think he'll ever fly United again? I guess not.

I've had this screwdriver in my laptop bag for 4 years. Yes, you read it right, 4 years. It's been through more airports than I can count, always coming away unscathed, until it's 2nd visit to SFO. It's not a big screwdriver, about 3 inches long in the shaft, which is metal, and that slips into a plastic handle of about another 2 inches. They searched the bag and took it. I was so sad. It was my last Baypoint Innovations screwdriver. That's the company that was bought and sold and I have fond memories. sniffle, sniffle

Friday, November 04, 2005

Whacky Tourists...

This is Arlene and Dena dressed in their "wacky tourist" outfits. Scary aren't they. This is the first year since, well I cannot remember when, since Dena has dressed up. I have to admit she was very into it and completely in character. Matter of fact she drove us nuts she was in character for so long. Her moniker was Myrtle, sounds like turtle and she was from Miami but originally hailing from NYC. A little scary she had an entire history and life for this character. The shoes certainly make the outfit.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Captcha - What is it?

You've seen it before, probably when buying tickets or what have you. This technology is for preventing automated ticket buying agents or "bots" from buying up all the good tickets from Ticketmaster. The technology is called CAPTCHA and stands for "completely automated public Turing test to tell computers and humans apart". It is a type of challenge-response test used in computing to determine whether or not the user is human. A common type of captcha requires that the user type the letters of a distorted and/or obscured sequence of letters or digits that appears on the screen. Because the test is administered by a computer, in contrast to the standard Turing test that is administered by a human, a captcha is sometimes described as a reverse Turing test.

So this technology is being used to prevent a new type of spam, called Splogging. A splog is where an automated program creates a useless spam type blog or website and puts code on it so that google and other search programs will "index" it and think, oh, good web site, make it available to people when they are searching. Splogs have become a major problem on free blog hosts such as Google's Blogspot service. These fake blogs waste valuable disk space and bandwidth as well as pollute search engine results.

Google's Blogspot has provided me with the opportunity to use Captcha to prevent spammers from putting comments on my blog (spam comments). So, if any of you leave comments you'll be asked to enter in the captcha phrase, like on ticketmaster. And thanks for your comments....

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Views from the air

I was flying home from Seattle the other day, my home away from home, and a pretty spectacular thing happened. We failed to climb very quickly after take off, but I just ignore anomalies in the air now. The pilot soon came on the intercom & said that we were @ 13,000' and were going to stay there while we flew by Mount Rainier. Well, Mt. Rainier is 14,000' high. So, we'd be just below it. It was on the left side of the plane and the view was stunning. I was so sorry I didn't have my digital camera. The view to the left here in the Blog is sort of what we saw, but in no way captures the image. If there had been a hiker up there, I could have waved at him and him at me & we would have had a moment.

So we're flying along all chatting excitedly on the plane about what we've just witnessed and the pilot comes back on and says he's feeling sorry for the people on the right hand side of the plane. He says he's going to do a flyby on Mount St. Helens. He had climbed to around 20,000' and Mount St. Helens was just below and to the right. Normally when flying over this area of Washington State, Mt St. Helens crater is shrouded in clouds. The pilot literally tipped the plane on it's side and we got a view right inside the crater. We could see the steam coming out of the volcanic vents and the moon like landscape inside the crater, amazing. Then, he did it again. Did you read that? He DID IT AGAIN! What a rare opportunity that United pilot had afforded me. Thanks.