Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Miscellaneous Notes

Here's a good idea-!

Airline ala Carte

Skybus Airlines is the future of air travel, then the future won't cost much. Nor will it keep you hostage on the tarmac. The company's chief executive, Bill Diffenderffer, has rethought everything from the cost of onboard refreshments to how and where passengers check in. The result, he claims, is an airline that can charge as little as $10 for a nonstop flight without delays or lost luggage. (Procrastinators pay more, with last-minute tickets costing as much as $400.)

The guiding vision for the Columbus, Ohio–based company is simplicity. Launched in May, Skybus promises to get you to your destination on time, but it has no 800 number, no customer-service representatives, no TVs, not even free pretzels. (Your flight attendant will be happy to sell you a can of soda, though—she's being paid on commission.)

Passengers can buy tickets online only and must check in by automated kiosk. To board, you'll need to travel to smaller airports in places like Chicopee, Massachusetts, and Burbank, California, but in doing so, you'll avoid the air-traffic headaches that dog so many major hubs.

So far, Skybus is flying five 144-seat Airbus A319s on just a handful of routes. If all goes as planned, by 2012, 80 Skybus A319s will serve dozens of cities across the U.S. We caught up with Diffenderffer, who explained to us how an airline that sells a ticket for the same price as a plate of meatloaf intends to fix our air-travel woes.

read the whole interview...

Before 9/11, I was running a small all freight airline. We had plans to move intoa passenger and freight configuration flying between small airports around major cities and lots of small towns roughly 4+ hours distant. Our target market was the large number of business, medical and goverment people traveling out for a day's work and back home at night. Driving 4 hours for a 6 or eight hour work day and then a 4 hour drive home again is very demanding. Most wind up spending the night or cutting short their visit.

9/11 changed the business model. We couldn't find pilots. Investors didn't want to know about airlines or transportation. Insurance rates went through the roof. Aircraft prices spiraled and fuel skyrocketed... (That's a mixed bag of metaphors-!)....

It's nice to see that somebody has found the right equipment, right market and right start-up capital. You can go through $1 million very quickly in starting an airline.

There are thousands of small air bases and air fields around the nation. Many municipalities have struggled to find a use for these facilities. This business model and the coming wave of air taxis will open the skies. At most, the cities will need to build a secure fence and hire some security personnel. Being able to walk off an aircraft, across the small terminal to a waiting rental car will make business travel so much easier. Check in screening will mean shorter lines and your baggage within eyesight all the time.

Of course, the airlines will struggle to find passengers for each end point, pilots and flight attendants to work the expanded network.


"Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon."

Peter Lynch

Miss The Lunar Eclipse-? Watch the video

Hundreds of Bay Area folks - both stay-up-laters and early risers - watched a colorful total eclipse of the moon before dawn Tuesday as foggy skies cleared and the moon's bright white surface slowly turned to coppery red and brown.

The eclipse was on full display even in parts of San Francisco - along Market Street and in the Mission, for example - but fog over the Sunset and the outer Richmond disappointed anyone who had hoped to watch the event.

As scheduled, the Earth's shadow started covering the moon's face at 1:51 a.m. and the eclipse became total at 2:52 a.m. By 4:22 a.m., the moon emerged from the shadow, and by 5:24 a.m. the show was over.

Eric Zeeman of sends an eMail asking: "Does Unlocking your iPhone Really Change Anything?

The last 5 days or so have seen a spate of announcements from basement-dwelling geeks all around the planet who claim to have unlocked the iPhone. Some have used hardware and software mods, others have just used software. What does iPhone unlocking really amount to?

Not much, if you ask me. In most user satisfaction polls I've read about the iPhone, the $500 to $600 device scores high approval ratings. Do users who are already happy gain anything from unlocking the iPhone?

True, I guess it means they could ditch their AT&T contracts and switch to another carrier (most likely T-Mobile in the U.S.). But that's not necessarily an improvement, especially when you consider the fact that you're losing certain functionalities of the device, such as visual voicemail. And guess what, the iPhone is still restricted to the same EDGE network on T-Mobile as it is on AT&T. It is restricted to EDGE no matter what network it is used with.

Detaching it from the AT&T network is one thing. But total software control is another. Apple misstepped when it made the iPhone such a closed system. While I can see Steve Jobs' point of view (that he wanted users to have a stable experience and third-party applications could cause potential issues for the iPhone), I don't think it is an entirely valid argument. Sure, there is a lot of potential for some cool iPhone applications. We've already seen some interesting workarounds via the browser. I trust Apple to develop good applications itself, however, and pass them down to the iPhone when they are ready.

Another thing to consider, are there really that many people waiting to buy an iPhone that is unlocked, free of AT&T's network, and free to be modded and hacked? How much is it going to cost? Will the unlocking software (which assuredly has value) be available for free or will people have to pay for it? AT&T legal has already contacted several of the groups who've claimed to unlock the iPhone. What legal pitfalls will people be treading, and do they even care about them?

Since none of the groups who've unlocked the iPhone have made the software widely available yet, they have to care at least a little bit.

In the end, I think unlocked iPhones will only satisfy a small minority of users.

Me and Fidel Sorta-Kinda Agree On This One

HAVANA (Reuters) - Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro is tipping Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to team up and win the U.S. presidential election.

The word today is that an apparently unbeatable ticket could be Hillary for president and Obama as her running mate," he wrote in an editorial column on U.S. presidents published on Tuesday by Cuba's Communist Party newspaper, Granma.

I think they'll be the Democratic Party candidates... Unless Hillary goes for John Warner to get a Southern Hawk on the ticket.... He's been posing as a VP for a few months now.

I don't think/hope they will win the White House. I think it would be a very bad thing for this country and the world were either of them to move into the White House. The world is a dangerous place and they are children on the freeway with guns.



While the Queen of Mean left a kennel full of cash for the plenty-pampered female pooch, she also left potentially billions of dollars to charity, court papers show.

The will leaves a total of $50 million in bequests to Trouble the dog and three family members, and instructs that the remainder of her personal fortune - which Westchester Surrogate's Court documents estimate to be valued at between $4 billion and $8 billion - to the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Make up your own bad jokes from here....

GIZMODO... iPhone Touch Screen manufacturer Gets Order for 8 million units

GIZMODO... Steve Jobs and VW talk iCar


Burning Man is burned too soon - arson arrest Namesake of annual festival goes up in unsanctioned flames 4 days early in Nevada desert

The climax of the annual Burning Man bacchanalia in a Nevada desert was scheduled for Saturday, when the 40,000-plus attendees were to gather around the 40-foot-high man-statue and watch him burn.

Instead, the effigy went up in flames four days prematurely early Tuesday, and a San Francisco resident faces felony arson and destruction-of-property charges in connection with the crime of burning Burning Man too early.

Make up more of your own bad jokes from here

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