Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Third Olive

After many years I had an opportunity [!] to travel by local flights in the US.
in the recent years, it has been more of landing directly at one of the international airports and spending my time near that location, or travel by surface.

the pressures that airlines are under was very evident.
the no free baggage allowance - with charges of $15-$25 going upto $100 for checked in baggages was a surprise - having been used the 2 PCs free allowance.

talking to some others, i came across some of the innovative cost cutting measures that airlines seem to have adopted.

one canadian airline - that flew cross country, all over land - except for a brief stretch over lake michigan - apparently decided to do away with the flotation devices, as they were not flying over water. the saved weight, in turn, helped them improve the fuel efficiency [or maybe let them carry more baggage / cargo, to get more revenue].

while going from san jose to dallas, with a stopover in phoenix - for about 20 minutes, we were asked to keep the shutters down, to reduce the heating inside the cabin - that would help reduce the air conditioning load! i think that is a good idea anyway - of going, thinking green!

i was also told of canceled flights due to low occupancy. there was a time - when the southwest airlines model  of keeping their aircraft as much as possible on the air, with very quick turnaround times on the ground - meant additional revenue!

back home, on my favourite carrier - jet airways, i noticed something strange on my way to delhi. the meal did not include a salad! there used to be some lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber - and an optional lemon slice or a chilli. the doubt was confirmed on my return flight - when, again, the salad was missing.

was it weight cutting? or cost cutting? or an attempt to be more conscious of waste? like the third olive.. the title of this post.

one americal airline had analyzed the consumption patterns of their passengers. they found that they normally served their drinks with three olives. and invariably, the third olive was not consumed. so, they figured that by reducing the number of olives served to two, they would save a significant number of olives - just multiply the # drinks per flight into the number of flights per year - and consequently, cost!

in times of trouble - that we seem to be in now, particularly after the wall street crashes, any creatuive way to reduce waste is most welcome.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

immersed in radio waves

It feels strange that i should have written about the radio just a few days ago.
now, one more thought related to radio..
i was at a user conference in the silicon valley area.
this area has always been very high in terms of technology.

this time, i was impressed by a technology called nTAG.
a device that was given to every participant, it could recognize other participants, detect your presence in a particular session, enable exchange of calling card information, participate in live polls, surveys etc and also manage one's schedule of visiting various sessions.
all this over RF technology.

pretty neat!
the scary though is: someone can and probably is - constantly watching you, as you move around, meet with others etc.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

return of the radio?

there was a recent news item that listening to the radio [or was it music too?] while driving was a punishable in offence in mumbai.
the reason given was that it could be distracting and therefore dangerous.

set me thinking..
for me, radio has been very special from childhood.
i needed a background ambience - which in those times was best provided by the radio - in the pre i-pod days! - to be able to effectively study or concentrate.
that got me into the hobby of short wave listening and DXing etc later.

then, there was the near death of the radio - with TV taking prime time from the viewers.

with the entry of FM radio and community radio stations in india, radio has been seeing a revival.
while on the one hand, these are commercial ventures and are slowly degenerating into a me-too format - with the main focus being on getting more advertising revenues and targetting the same audience with a lot of flocal flavour in every city, i find some stations trying a different formula.

in bangalore, the government channel - amruthavarshini - has been dishing out - for limited hours every day - good classical music, both hindustani and carnatic.
the AIR rainbow, has a very good collection of songs - indian and western - but need more forceful RJs.

bangalore also has radio indigo, that is the only private station that still plays only western / english music.

in chennai, i found chennai live being more of a mixed bag - still not possibly equalling teh collection of the old madras-2 station!

in delhi, i recently heard the station called 'meow' - an exclusive women oriented channel.

it is good to see that the diversity in interests are beign recognized and that there are sufficient target audience for each of these segments that it makes it worthwhile to have some dedicated services to cater to their needs..

at one time, i used to collect radios - from each of my travel destinations. i stopped that a long time ago.
maybe it is time to revive that..

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Google's growing footprint on my desktop

I am sure that i am not the first or the last to write about Chrome - the new browser from Google.
i was hoping to be among the first to download last night - and stayed up till about 11.45 IST, but then went to sleep as the link was not activated till then.

when i did it this morning, the net was slow - or was it the download site.. but, anyway, the first impressions are pretty good.

though, one typical google 'feature' that i do not like - still exists. no prompts for the location where the application should be installed. same happens for google talk as well. they go to the default C: drive, while i prefer to have all applications in stalled on a different drive.

having said that - i notice that most pages load fast. on some of my work related pages, the rendering was not clean.

the browsing history in thumbnails is interesting - so are the bookmarks tab.

the menu bar is non existent. still need to figure out how to print / save the pages.

when i looked at my desktop shortcuts, i realized that i have 4 google apps - out of the 10 custom shortcuts that i maintain!