Am I a Criminal?

July 21, 2007

I’m up here at my Mum and Dad’s at the moment, and I think it’s fair to say that they’re not the most technologically advanced.

In other words, they don’t have an internet connection.  They don’t even know what t’internet is.

So I fire up my airport connection to see if there are any hotspots around.  Nope.  But my Macbook tells me I can connect to a 3com network (the other one – a Netgear wireless connection needed a WEP key).

It’s a surprise that there are so many unsecured wireless networks.  I popped up to my sisters the other day – she told me her next door neighbour had had an open connection for months!

So do you “use” the free connection or not?

I’m blogging aren’t I?    Indeed, I’m using someone elses unsecured wireless network.

Does this make me a fraudster?

Fish and Chip and Pin

July 21, 2007

ChipNPinIt’s been almost four years since I last visited the UK.

When I was last there I laughed at how they didn’t have eftpos!  It’s me that is now in dark ages.  For “Chip N Pin” is now the way here in the UK.  Pretty much, every card now has an embedded chip, which obviously stores data about the card, and it’s PIN number.  Yes, the UK now has eftpos.

The problem now is that if you don’t have a chip n pin card (i.e. you have a normal NZ credit card) it’s really really painful to pay.

I went to a major UK superstore this morning and tried to pay with my credit card.  It kinda went like this:

“Oh!  I’ll have to see my supervisor about that card as it’s an old card.”

“Supervisor to checkout A, please.”

“Erm, does anyone know where the manual thingy is?”

“Anyone got a pen?”

It was about 5 minutes before I could pay.

I’m dreading any more purchases.

When you fly back to the UK from NZ via San Francisco, the second leg from Frisco to Heathrow is a codeshare flight using Virgin Atlantic.

I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my first Virgin flight. Right from the off, it was clear that Virgin had set out to offer the customer a different flight experience:

  • The boarding call was not your bog-standard – going as far as welcoming children to begin their “flight experience”.
  • The preflight video was actually a cartoon, narrated by the hilarious Vic Reeves. It actually made you sit up and watch it.  The seat pocket safety cards were adorned with the same cartoonage.  Clever.
  • The cabin staff were decked out in what could only be described as very “smart”, “modern”, and almost “tongue-in-cheek” outfits. It really did make a difference!
  • Humourous banter from the flight-deck, tinged with the inimitable British wit.
  • The inflight video screen/entertainment was the most modern I had seen – way better and faster than Air New Zealand. The handset could have passed as a PS3 controller!
  • Just very good, friendly, down to earth service. The cabin crew clearly had a laugh, but knew when to be serious.

In a cut-throat industry like the airline industry, particularly on the transatlantic routes, differentiators like these can make big effects.
Air New Zealand is still my favourite long-haul airline, quite simply because the seat pitch and recline is streets ahead of any other airline on the route.  On Virgin, you were packed in like sardines. But the overall Virgin experience went some way towards relieving that economy class claustrophobia.  A real refreshing change from the usual staid airline service (of which Air New Zealand belong to, but are near the top of the class).

And whilst I’m on the subject of Virgin, but related to something totally different, I thought I’d post a quick ad I saw in the Sunday Times. I find it very refreshing to see no-nonsense advertising like this. Clearly it’s a Branson thing.

I like no nonsense.

Virgin Broadband

Hooray. LAX no more.

July 15, 2007

Thank God Air New Zealand now offer routes back to the UK other than via Los Angeles.  I don’t know of one single traveller who does not hate going though LA.  I’ve been doing it for the last 10 years, and it just gets worse and worse.

When my travel agent suggested I could go to London via San Francisco, and come back via Hong Kong (all Air New Zealand) I jumped at the chance.  I was still uncertain about how passing through the US would be though.   Travelling with two little ones I was hoping that it’d be a “nicer” experience than LA.

I couldn’t have asked for more.  The ground staff at San Francisco were really friendly, and fast-tracked us through the immigration queues.  And we even got a smile and a joke out of the immigration officer.

Two nights in San Fran, and a bike ride over the Golden Gate Bridge, later we headed off back to the airport for the leg to London.

San Fran

Again, really friendly service all round, from check-in, through security (with no queues!), all the way to the plane.

10 hours later we’re in London, and although a bit tired, the body clocks pretty much set to UK time.

So if you’re doing the big trip to the UK, I’d strongly recommend bypassing LA, and spending a couple of nights in Frisco.

Down South Up North!!

July 8, 2007

Phew!!  It’s been a really hectic couple of weeks.  That’s kinda why I’ve been in the dark.

We’ve been working on a decent sized project for a customer, that’s due for a “beta” launch sometime in the next week.   This project has really opened up my eyes to how a “design led approach” can really result in a top quality output – and in quite a small timeframe.   It certainly makes for an entertaining and motivating experience.  Where you can do it, do it.
Anyways, it’s time for the Lancashire Lad to return home for a month, on the obligatory two yearly trip back home.  We’ve taken the approach that we’re gonna be tourists this time around – so it’ll make a refreshing approach to the usual Whanau tour that leaves you feeling like you need another months holiday.

Cheers for now.