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December 31, 2010

New Year In Paris

I'll be spending the New Year in Paris this year.

After it taking me two days to get out of Dublin (or the chaotic mess that was Dublin airport more precisely) I ended up rebooking my flights with a return in the New Year.

I have spent the last few days wandering around Paris. I've also met up with a couple of friends and, of course, have spent time with various relatives.

The centre of Paris has been packed. Thronged. Jammed. Choose your own adjective.

Yesterday afternoon I ended up walking from near Printemps to Opera and the journey took me about 3 times as long as it should have done due to the sheer mass of humanity crowding the footpaths.

I assume that at least some of these people are spending money in the shops around the city .. ...

In the evenings the areas such as Les Halles and Montparnasse are as busy as I remember them back in the mid-90s - possibly even busier.

And, of course, the Champs Elysses look very picturesque with the trees covered in lights...

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December 19, 2010

No More Luggage Checkin?

Over the past couple of months I've ended up travelling quite a bit. I've been bouncing around Europe and further afield between various meetings and events.

Most of the time I haven't had issues with my bags. I've gone to the airport, checked in my bag (a Samsonite that I picked up a couple of years ago) and brought my laptop bag with me onboard.

Sure, leaving Colombia was an experience in its own right. (I don't think I've ever been searched so much in my entire life..)

However, most of the time, I've been relatively "lucky" with my bags. I've arrived at my destination and so has my bag.

But when your bag gets separated from you it can be more than a little awkward.

When I was in Montenegro earlier this year my bag didn't make it for about 24 hours and coming back from Colombia my bag got lost along the way. That meant that I had no clean clothes and had to go out and buy some. It's not as much of a problem if it happens on your way home. As long as you keep your house keys in your laptop bag or jacket then the airline will generally send on your bag within about 24 hours. However it does mean that you have to waste up to an hour in the airport filling out forms.

I'm also getting a bit tired of having to pay an extra 15 euro (or more) to check my bag on a lot of the airlines.

So what's the solution?

Carry on only.

The problem with that, however, is finding a bag that can carry enough clothes, chargers, books etc., to last several days. And airlines have got very strict about the dimensions and weight of bags that they allow.

Fortunately there are several companies offering good quality carry on bags that seem to tick all the boxes.

Eagle Creek have several nice ones, including the "Tarmac Flight Bag", which might work for me.

Another one, which was recommended by Kieren, is the Red Oxx Air Boss. It's not a cheap bag, but if it's as good as everyone says then it will pay for itself pretty quickly. Seemingly you can get a small laptop bag to slip into the middle of it as well, so that would mean I'd only have one bag for business trips.

I won't be able to get a bag in time for my trip to Paris next week (assuming the airports are open!), but I'll be able to test it all out early in next year.

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December 17, 2010

The Downside To Using FREE 3rd Party Services

Yahoo! has been around since practically the start of the web (web - not internet).

I've been using the site and their services in some form or other since the mid 1990s.

Some of their services are fantastic and incredibly useful, while others have been hard to make sense of.

At some point yesterday word leaked about an upcoming series of culls chez Yahoo! On the chopping block this time is the bookmarking service Delicious which I've been using for years.

On the plus side there are plenty of alternatives to Delicious and the data is exportable.

Personally I will miss the service, but it's free, so Yahoo! are free (if you'll excuse the pun) to do with it as they wish.

There are other services out there that will serve the same purpose, though I suspect I might try to run a personal bookmarking service on one of my own machines moving forward ..

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November 15, 2010

Irish Garda (Police) Website Falls Over

Looks like the Irish police (gardai) website has collapsed under the server load:
garda-website-down.jpgWhy is this happening?
Well it's all down to the new speed trap system that is going live this week (today I think). The Gardai are listing all the locations of the traps on their site, but they obviously didn't think that just about everyone in the country would want to go and look at the list ..

More on the RTE site

And seemingly there are copies of the location list floating around if you want one!

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October 5, 2010

Why Do Some Hotels Charge So Much For Internet Access?

I'm currently in the Intercontinental Hotel in Prague. Up until an hour ago I was staying in the Hotel Praha, also in Prague.

Both hotels are 5 star.

But while the Hotel Praha offers free internet access throughout the building via wifi and good speeds via ethernet in your bedroom, the Intercontinental is charging me an arm and a leg for a service that they advertise as being 3 Mb/s.

In Brussels the Hilton City not only charges premium rates for internet access, but also imposed a cap on uploads!

I travel quite a bit for business. Once I leave Prague I'll be heading back to Brussels for another event and again I'll be hit with a disproportionately high bill for using internet access in my hotel room.

It's 2010.

Internet access in a hotel bedroom is not a "premium" service. For any hotel that expects to attract business travellers internet access is a very basic requirement. In 2010 I'd almost see internet access for a business traveller as being on a par with clean sheets and running water.

So why on earth are so many hotels charging such high rates for it?

It's not as if they're charging incredibly low rates for the rooms and have to compensate with the "extras".

And of course I know that ranting about it probably won't change anything, but it feels good to get it "off my chest".

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August 28, 2010

Dropping Sweetcron

I was using Sweetcron to publish a rather boring "life stream" over on one of my other personal domains.

Unfortunately the script has been pretty much abandoned by developers, so no new features or updates have been made in well over a year.

It also didn't have ANY caching options whatsoever, so it really wasn't a "gentle" script to run.

I'm currently looking for a suitable alternative, though I'm experimenting with a WordPress plugin and theme, which seem to work reasonably well.

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August 9, 2010

Reasons Your Spam is a Spam

If you want to tell me why I'm getting an email (newsletter) that's fine. It's actually quite helpful, as I could easily forget how I ended up subscribing myself to a list or if I ordered from somewhere...

However putting this kind of text in your email footer is one sure fire way of getting me to list you as a spammer:

DISCLAIMER: This message is not "SPAM" because it contains our identification and unsubscribe instructions. This message was offered to you for one of the following reasons: your email address has been selected from a database that you have subscribed, your email address was made public by you; you have requested to receive the offer; you are a partner of our company; your email address is in our database as a result of previous correspondence.

There are so many things wrong with that disclaimer that it's almost impossible to know where to begin.

The ones I "love" are:

"it contains our identification and unsubscribe instructions"

Um .. ok... so? That doesn't mean anything at all...

The one though that really gets me is the "your email address was made public by you"

That is both hilarious and scary

(And just in case you're wondering - I got two copies of the same spam to two addresses that aren't published anywhere .. )

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July 21, 2010

Random Bits and Bobs

The .co launch started a few hours ago and seems to be doing very well

We finally setup our own custom URL shortener, though I'm still trying to find a TwitterFeed alternative that will allow us to use our own shortener sanely.

We're working on a bunch of different things over in Blacknight at the moment, so I'm looking forward to being able to talk about some of the final products.

On the negative side .. I seem to be spending a dis-ordinate amount of time dealing with legal threats. Between us being easy to find and lawyers not really understanding the internet, we seem to be an "easy" target.

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July 14, 2010

Axel Shipping Sale

Axel are offering stupidly low shipping rates (practically free!) for the rest of today.

Worth checking out if you are as badly addicted to BluRay and DVD as I am

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July 5, 2010

Warner Brothers – Ecommerce Excellence

I ordered a couple of tshirts from Warner's online shop (based in the US) on Thursday.

I've already received the tshirts!

Now that is truly impressive service

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