ID Checks

Paul Dwerryhouse blogs about ID checks in the US being more frequent that in Australia and the irony of people accepting a Victorian drivers license with likely no idea what one is meant to look like, or even if it really exists.

In a similar vein a friend of mine was travelling in China and wanted to use a Internet Cafe and they required that he provide identification before he could use the facilities. He dutifully handed over his Victorian drivers license and was pleased to see that they logged the fact that a Mr Vic Roads was going to be web surfing there. A nice bit of accidental anonymity. πŸ™‚

Off to NZ for a week!

Having successfully recovered from all the RAID pain we’ve gone through recently at work (lesson: do not trust HW RAID and have good backups – which we did) I’m off to New Zealand for a week with Donna courtesy of my time off in lieu – sweet as! πŸ˜‰

When I’m back I’ll write up what happened with the RAID, honest..

First Flight on an Airbus A380!

Well I’m now in Los Angeles on my way to SC’08 in Austin, Texas and I’ve got a few minutes to blog about flying here on Qantas’s only A380 before crashing out (if you’ll excuse the pun).

First of all, boy is an A380 big! I’d seen a couple briefly at Singapore but always from a distance. This time seeing one close up at the gate at Tullamarine, next to a 747, really brought it down how big it is. As we were waiting to board a 737 trundled down the taxiway behind it looking for all the world like a toy. Photos will have to wait as I’ve forgotten my USB cable, d’oh!

OK – first for the good points:

  • Quiet – much quieter than a 747 or similar in the cabin!
  • Power sockets – standard Aussie ones, hidden down below the center armrest of the seat in front.
    Self service “bar” at the back of the plane with soft drinks, plenty of apples, snacks.
  • Wide-screen safety video. πŸ™‚ What I mean is that even in economy you’ve got a widescreen aspect ratio LCD which looks very nice. It also works all the time, you don’t need to wait for the staff to turn on the entertainment system. This leads nicely on to..
  • Skycam! There’s a camera mounted at the top of the tail which provides streaming video that you can see from your LCD screen (in the “Information” menu section). It also shows how big the A380 is when you notice that it’s about level with the roof of the terminal buildings at Tullamarine! It’s impressive to watch during taxi, takeoff and landing and you even can get good views of sunset and sunrise when you cross the terminator going from Australia to the US. Very boring at night, no stars visible, just the flash of the navigation lights..
  • Seats in economy seem well built and nicely designed, and the screen is great.

Now the not so good bits:

  • Economy class seats don’t seem any larger than other planes (not that surprising I guess).
  • The network point in the seat doesn’t work – I could get a 100Mb/s link negotiated but nothing responded to DHCP and there were no packets at all visible. πŸ™
  • Donna and I were seated on opposite sides of the isle in row 68, the staff reckoned that might be because that’s usually the back row in a 747 and they’re sets of two and we’d have been together in that configuration. On an A380 it’s 3-4-3 all the way back.
  • Donna’s seatbelt didn’t work. She noticed just before takeoff that it wasn’t keeping its tension and would just slack off if you pulled gently. Fortunately the middle seat in the row of 3 I was in was free.
  • Before Donna moved the sound stopped working on her entertainment system. So it did for a couple of other people and one person behind me had theirs lock up. Mine seemed to restart itself once when I was selecting a menu but otherwise worked OK. So obviously some teething issues around that.
  • When the cabin lights are right down for sleeping on a long haul flight you can no longer tell whether a toilet is occupied or not because the indicators aren’t lit! People resort to trying the handles all the time which is disconcerting if you’re in one..

So all in all an interesting experience, and if it wasn’t for the fact that I had terrible restless legs at one point I’d have slept a lot more than I did!

Qantas are apparently going to be taking delivery of a second A380 quite soon and are aiming for about 20 of them in the fleet all up.

Flying fun

Just chatted to a friend of mine who’s in Singapore airport at the moment, when I asked him how the flight was he said:

when they tell the flight attendants to tighten their seatbelts you know you’re in for a rough ride!


Why You Should Use SSH

I’m here at SuperComputing 2006 (SC06, booth #1938) and whilst wandering around during the exhibition setup yesterday (Sunday) spotted that the folks running the NOC (( Network Operations Center )) for the conference (called SCinet) are running Bro to capture passwords that are going across the network in the clear and publishing them on a set of screens on their booth.

They’re also up on the web here:

I like these folks style.. πŸ™‚

Bro clear-text password capture at SC06

FAA : Passengers Considered Harmful

From that ever reputable source of news, The Onion:

Under the proposed reforms, the FAA would institute a strict ban on adult passengers, passengers 18 and under, international travelers, and domestic customers. A battery of questions and ID checks will be used to determine whether an individual is a pilot, flight attendant, or federal security officerÒ€”the only humans who will be allowed to board an aircraft flying within or headed for the U.S.

Sounds like someone’s finally done a root cause analysis and come up with the obvious solution, a sensible policy from the US at last!

“Frankly, we’ve tried everything else,” Blakey said. “We’ve put up more metal detectors, searched carry-on luggage, and prohibited passengers from traveling with sharp objects. Yet passengers still somehow continue to find ways to breach security. Clearly, the passengers have to go.”

Via the ever good Mikal.

Mike in Mongolia

I’ve got a friend, to protect his identity we’ll just call him “Mike“, who’s currently touring China and Mongolia for a month. Well it looks like even he couldn’t resist the call of the Internet, so I got this last night and it’s posted with his permission:

Hi from a dodgey internet cafe in Ulaanbaatar.

A land of slow internet connections and suspicious meat dishes. The landscape is rather amazing, – loads of open grasslands and blue sky, somewhat reminiscent of the the windows default backdrop. Only add more horses, goats, yaks, eagles and gers.

Managed to get caught in a terrific storm yesterday, minutes after pitching a tent on a sand dune ridge. Apart from the tent nearly blowing away, the best part was being pinned on the ridge and then it starting to strike lightning.Nothing like sitting under a shell of aluminum poles with bolts flying overhead. My other career after scientist when I was a kid was going to be a orchestra conductor and it look like for an ironic moment that I might fullfil at least half of that. Luckily after an hour or so the storm passed to reveal one of the best sunsets ever.

More dodgey roads to condend with later this week where I hope to get to some other park and try my luck again with the tent.

Anyhow, painfully slow connections. Take care back there,

I’m starting to like the taste of mutton which seems to taint every meal that you order. See if the can make a special dish at the curry place.