Monday, November 22, 2010

Alternative for Tracking Your Flights!*



While I have a big fan of FlightMemory.com, I have recently come across an alternative that is very interesting: OpenFlights.org. It's not a 100% replacement for FlightMemory, but there are a few features which make it very competitive...

Pros:
The map is not static and the visualization is better than that of flightmemory.com. It's based on google maps which allows you to zoom in smoothly and the thickness of the lines tell us how often you fly on those routes (For example, my SEA-CPH line is massive compared to everything else.

Another big plus is that you can export your flights for safe keeping. You can export your information to an excel sheet and store it offline or upload it to another account. This is a big step up from flightmemory.com which does not offer this feature.

You can access to more ways to filter your information, and you can create trips to group individual flights in. This is a big plus for breaking up your flights into easily digestible chunks.

Lastly, you have the option of including land travel, such as trains and buses. It becomes a trip tracker, and not just a mileage tracker.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Track your flight history!

Note: While flightmemory is still pretty nifty, I've grown much fonder of another service: openflights.org You can read more about some of their features here or, just click on my flight stats badge to the right!

You might have noticed my running tally of miles on the right side of the page and wondered how I keep the distances and fun information updated. The fact is I cheat. I use flightmemory.com to log and store all of my flight information and they do the number crunching for me! It’s actually a really good service for frequent flyers and produces some great breakdowns, as well as a per year summary and flight maps showing you where you’ve been. You can enter everything from your experience on that flight to the registration of the aircraft you flew on and keep it all in one neat place. Best of all, the basic flight tracking service is free.



My fights as of 10/06/2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

What’s it like in a lounge? Air China’s Lounge, Shanghai*

Another installment of my lounge expose, this time in Shanghai China!




The Shanghai Airport is very, very large and the lounge is completely on the opposite end of the terminal. To fix this, they drive you there and then to your gate on golf carts!


The lounge itself is one story up and looks like this. The leather seats are pretty comfy and there’s a couple of TVs for your entertainment. To the right, there’s also a couple of computers set up to check your email and all of the normal news and magazines.


Here we have part of the snack bar: Coffee, espresso, tea, instant noodles, individual packaged cookies, soft drinks, milk, light beer, and chips in this picture.


Mores drinks, some humbow, and fruit.


The last for this one. Here we have come cookies, bread (I think), cereal, and even some wine over there. It was 8 in the morning, so I didn’t check what their selection was.




Please note: I took these before I thought about starting this blog, so in the future there will be more and better photos when I get to the lounges again!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Seat Tactics: More than Two people flying together

United 777: No middle seats!
If you’re in a group that’s greater than two, it’s a good idea to think geometrically: Arranging your seats in a square keeps you just as close to your friends, if not closer, than sitting in a row and can avoid people getting stuck in the middle seat. In 2/4/2 configurations, a block of 2x2 on either side of the plane can be better than having people stuck in the center section and on 3/3 configurations, 2 rows of the A/C trick gives you plenty of seats to bargain with and even the chance that you’ll luck out and those middle seats will be vacant.

Even if you can’t sit together as a single group, odds are you weren’t going to have a running conversation for the entire flight. Pick seats which are most comfortable for you, even if they are apart: You’ll have plenty of time to talk when you get to your destination

Monday, November 01, 2010

10/31: Taksim Square Suicide Blast*

I just caught wind of the incident at Taksim Square today, where 31 people injured in a suicide bomb explosion. Fortunately, no one died in the attack, but as I was looking at the footage, I realized that I had been right there:



Directly to the right of this neat picturesque scene is the police station where the bombing occurred. This image was taken within 25 feet, but two weeks prior, to where the bomb went off! While in my previous post I was excited to share the fun stuff that occurred in Istanbul, on the first day I was there at Taksim while there were several protests from different groups and even some police out in riot gear down by the university.

I had snapped a few pics, but nothing happened while I was there and the scene was peaceful, albeit tense between the police and the protesters. Mainly, it was a scene of curious onlookers with the protesters encircled by the police and a lot of people ignoring it completely. I didn't linger, but I did stop to figure out what the protest was about.

Less than lethal weapons and tanks of pepper spray were at hand
I was told that BDR is a Kurdish party

And finally, I found a (shaky) movie that actually has the police station that was attacked in view. I recorded it during the midday call to prayer for the audio, but caught another protest from a different group. In the the right corner, you can even see the riot control vehicles they have parked there at this busy and popular square.

video 

I am glad that the victims are recovering, and the incident will not keep me from going back to Istanbul or Taksim square. Even though it's unusual for me to have such a link to an attack like this, I still feel that we're all more likely to get hit by a car than become a victim of this, or any other incident.