Windows Phone Thoughts: Mobius Day One: Travelling Fun

Be sure to register in our forums! Share your opinions, help others, and enter our contests.


Digital Home Thoughts

Loading feed...

Laptop Thoughts

Loading feed...

Android Thoughts

Loading feed...



Thursday, April 3, 2003

Mobius Day One: Travelling Fun

Posted by Jason Dunn in "THOUGHT" @ 05:44 AM

The Mobius articles I'm going to be writing and publishing over the next several days are a combination of reports on the Mobius conference and a travel diary, with a lot of personal commentary. It's a little different than previous show reports, more "stream of consciousness". Still, I think it makes for a mildly entertaining read. :D As I reported earlier, the first leg of my journey was a little odd, seeing people in masks walking around the Toronto airport. When you see someone else in a mask, and you donít have one, one though crosses your mind: ďEither theyíre crazy for wearing that, or I am for not wearing one.Ē When I boarded the flight from Toronto to Paris, the first thing they did was hand out a blurred photocopy of a health hazard form where it stated that because I was coming from a location with known SARS occurrences, they wanted to have my contact information in case there was a reported outbreak on my flight. Translation: if other people get sick, odds are, so will you, and we think youíll want to know. That form was a little sobering.

Jumping back a few hours: when I arrived at the Calgary airport, I discovered the ďsecretĒ of why Air Canada (and most airlines) are slowly going bankrupt: theyíre completely insane. Since Microsoft was paying for my flight from Calgary to Paris (and back again), I thought perhaps Iíd upgrade myself from UltraEconomy SuperCheapCoach Class (or whatever theyíre calling it now) to MegaLegRoom BusinessUltraSuper Class. Having the extra space, and more importantly, a place to plug my laptop in (potentially) would be worth a couple hundred bucks to me. The smiling ticket lady told me the price of upgrading my flight - $5500 Canadian. 8O

I thought she was kidding, or quoting me the price of a full fare, booked on the same day (and thus insanely expensive), but no, this was only the upgrade price. Both the flight from Calgary to Toronto, and from Toronto to Paris, had open seats in business class. Itís not like it costs the airline any more fuel depending on where Iím sitting, so I can only assume that the costs for a business-class in-flight meal are somewhere in the $5000 range. The other $500 is likely the union labour charge to close that little drape. :roll:

People Are People
Being on an airplane for a long-haul flight is an interesting exercise in human sociology. The flight from Toronto to Paris was sparsely populated Ė perhaps only one quarter of the seats were filled. The natural tendency of people on and airplane with open seats is to move to them Ė ideally no one wants to be sitting next to anyone else. I canít blame people for that Ė airplanes are designed for people four feet tall and 50 pounds. I feel like Iím in an alternate universe when Iím on most planes, in which Iím some sort of mutant not designed to fit comfortably in any part of the aircraft. Take one part accountant, one part sadist, and you have the vertically-challenged aeronautical engineers who designed planes.

But back to the human sociology: the flight attendants warn people that they should remain in their assigned seating so as to not unbalance the plane during flight. Fair enough Ė Iím not an engineer, so I wonít argue. Yet as soon as dinner is over and the first wizardly wiggle of Harry Potter comes on the screen, people bolt for open seating. Before you can blink, people are draped across three seats. And as the lights go down, most people put their seats into the ďreclineĒ position. At this point, it becomes obvious that the cruel midget engineers I mentioned above are also luddites: itís impossible for me to use my laptop if the person in front of me has dropped their chair back.

Fair enough, Iíll just move to one of the seats where someone isnít comatose. I kid you not Ė within three minutes of moving to a new seat, someone else has moved into my seat. Keeping in mind that the seat right next to it is full of my gear, and that itís pretty obvious someone is sitting there and perhaps only in the bathroom, this person has now been in my seat for the past 45 minutes. Itís not a big deal, but I have to wonder what someone like that is thinking.

It's a Cruel, Cruel World...
Iíve already chewed through an entire novel, so out came the laptop for some fun. Iíd like to take this opportunity to invoke that ďcurse of a thousand fleas infesting your nether regionsĒ thing on the software developers who think itís a great idea to require the original CD-ROM as part of the copyright protection scheme. My laptop has an extra bay where I can use a CD-ROM reader or an extra battery, but not both at the same time. In order to install WarCraft III, I needed to have the CD-ROM in the bay. From a 90% full battery, by the time it was finished installing, I was down to 54%. After ten minutes of game play, 35%. Another five minutes, and I was at 10% and unable to continue playing. The full install was 583 MB, so I struggle to understand the necessity for CD-ROM to be required in the drive for anything other than copyright reason. [Iíve since discovered that once the game is started, I can eject the CD-ROM and plug in the second battery Ė it really is just for authentication, not any practical purpose.]

But if Iíve already entered the serial number in during install, why not assume that perhaps Iím a legitimate customer who has done his part to support the software industry, and not force me to suffer through idiotic scenarios like the one above? I donít imagine this is that unusual for the average laptop owner, especially considering that spare batteries cost so much. I really should have invested in one of those big flat battery packs that Iíve seen Dale Coffing use. Those Centrino-based laptops are looking better and better every dayÖ

Dell Axim Battery Life Rocks!
The Dell Axim battery life is as impressive as always. Iíve used it to check my email three times (using Fido GPRS and GPRS Monitor), browse the Web and do a site post, chat on IM a little, check times and weather with WorldMate, and Iíve been listening to music for the past four hours off a CompactFlash card. No battery warnings yet!

Speaking of doing the above on a Pocket PC, at some point during this trip I hope to find the time to write up a rant on Pocket PC performance issues. I canít believe how sluggish my Pocket PC becomes when Iím downloading a Web page, checking email, and trying to do IM chats at the same time. Am I being overly ambitious? Perhaps, but what's the point of a multi-tasking operating system if it can't execute flawlessly? Slowness should come from the lack of bandwidth for those tasks, not watching screen redraws line by line. And heaven forbid if youíre trying to listen to music at the same time as anything else Ė itís going to skip at least once.

Pocket PC UI Quirks
I just ran across a design quirk with Media Player and reminders. Iím listening to some music, and the screen was turned off via Media Playerís screen blanking feature. I have that function mapped to a hardware button on my Dell, and Media Playerís default setting for button mapping focus remains unchanged (ie: button mappings will only work if Media Player has the focus). A reminder just triggered, so I pressed the hardware button to turn on the screen to see what the reminder was. Nothing happened. It seems that even when the screen is off, reminder windows steal the focus away from Media Player, making the only solution to turn the power to the device off and bank on again, which of course interrupts the music. Not a very elegant solution! While itís important for the reminder window to have focus in most scenarios, it would be nice if there was recognition of the screen being off and stealing focus not being a good idea.

I Need Some Sleep
At the moment ďHurricaneĒ is playing, but the headphone adaptor I need for stereo sound with my headphones is under the sleeping body of the person whoís in my seat. Donít you just love air travel?

Iíve now been in the air for six hours, and as we fly into Paris dawn is breaking on April 2nd. Itís quite beautiful to see the sunrise breaking on top of the clouds rather than below themÖend of day one.

Tags:

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...

News

Loading feed...

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...

News

Loading feed...

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...

News

Loading feed...

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...

News

Loading feed...

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...

News

Loading feed...