Airline Complaint

General 3 Comments

Click for the OriginalThe following complaint to Contential Airlines reached me today and I could not have enjoyed it more. It is important to see the original scans of the complaint letter as the handwriting reveals the whole tone of the complaint, but I have transcribed it here for your convenience. Typos have been intentionally preserved.

12-21-04
Flight 888 / SDO -> Houston
Seat #29E

Dear Continental Airlines,

I am disgusted as I write this note to you about the miserable experience I am having sitting in seat 29E on one of your aircrafts.

As you may know, this seat is situated directly across from the lavatory, so clost that I can reach out my left arm and touch the door.

All my senses are being tortured simultaneausly. Its difficult to say what the worst part about sitting in 29E really is? Is it the stench of the sanitation fluid that is blown all over my body every 60 seconds when the door opens? Is it the wooosh of the constant flushing? Or is it the passengers asses that seem to fit into my personal space like a pornographic jig-saw puzzel?

I constructed a stink-shield by shoving one end of a blanket into the overhead compartment — while effective in blocking at least some of the smell, and offering a small bit of privacy, the ass-on-my-body factor has increased, as without my evil glare, passengers feel free to lean up against what they think is some kind of blanketed wall.

The next ass that touches my shoulder will be the last!

Putting a seat here was a very bad idea. I just heard a man GROAN in there! THIS SUCKS!

Worse yet, is I’ve paid over $400.00 for the honor of sitting in this seat!

I am picturing a board room, full of executives giving props to the young promising engineer that figured out how to squeeze an additional row of seats onto this plane by putting them next to the LAV.

I would like to flush is head in the toilet that I am close enough to touch, and taste, from my seat.

Does your company give refunds? I’d like to go back where I came from and start over.

Seat 29E could only be worse if it were was located inside the bathroom.

I wonder if my clothing will retain the sanitizing odor…. what about my hair! I feel like I’m bathing in a toilet bowl of blue liquid, and there is no man in a little boat to save me.

I am filled with a deep hatred for your plane designer and a general dis-ease that my last for hours.

We are finally decending and soon I will be able to tear down the stink-sheild, but the scars will remain.

I suggest that you initiate immediate removal of this seat from all of your crafts. Just remove it, and leave the smouldering brown hole empty, a place for sturdy / non-absorbing luggage maybe, but not human cargo.

Sandisk MP3 Companion: Worst MP3 Player Ever

General 3 Comments

Crappiest Designed MP3 PlayerIt is my great joy, and disappointment, to write about the worst MP3 player I have ever owned: the Sandisk MP3 Companion.

While the idea was a good one, the execution was flawed on many levels. But first I’ll share the concept of the MP3 Companion.

An MP3 player is basically two parts, storage (memory) and a MP3 decoder / player. Sandisk, makers of fine USB flash memory drives figured that they already have a huge customer base of memory users, all they need is the decoder/player part. So they designed an MP3 player that relied on the Sandisk Cruzer Micro for the memory. This made the price point for the player, or companion, about $60 — cheaper than their traditional flash-based MP3 players.

It’s a good idea, I admit, they just screwed up the implementation.

First, it only works with the Cruzer Micro and they should have made it work with any USB Flash Memory drive. The Cruzer Micro is so small, I lost my first one which put me out a good $50. So by the time I had replaced it with another one, I had now spent $60 + $50 + $50 = $160 for a 512 MB MP3 player!

Second, the battery door on the MP3 companion broke after just one week of use. Yep, broke, and inherent in the design it could not be fixed so I wrapped tape on it to keep the battery door closed. Eventually, I sickened of this and called Sandisk. The Sandisk representative told me that every unit ever made has had the battery door break. Every single one. People were so upset Sandisk quit selling them. I received an RMA and the rep told me that there was no guarantee the replacement unit wouldn’t be broken, although it was brand new still in the blister pack. After 3 weeks of waiting, my replacement arrived – broken. But it wasn’t the battery door, it was the female USB plug they Cruzer Micro plugged into! Yes, it was impossible for me to plug in the Cruzer Micro thus rendering the unit useless.

Not to be deterred, I disassembled the crappily built unit, and with some handy soldering and some needle-nose pliers I repaired the unit such that it now works. That is until the battery door inevitably breaks.

This makes me think that possibly you could remove the cover of broken units and roll your own MP3 player that would work with any USB flash memory drive. Strap the whole thing onto a D-cell battery and you have a 300 hour MP3 player (battery life that is).

Erin’s Flash MP3 Player

General No Comments

Erin's Flash MP3 PlayerI’ve written a lot about MP3 players and I still have two more to talk about. Today I want to extol the virtues of the flash-based MP3 player.

For those who don’t know, MP3 players come in 3 kinds. First, you have the traditional CD player than can read MP3 files off the CD and play them. These are very popular in car stereos. They can hold about 700 MB of files and you can play traditional CDs in them too. Portable units are clunky but you get what you pay for.

Second, you have hard-drive based players, like the iPod Color and my very own Archos. These are larger units that can hold more but also have less battery life. Typical sizes range from 4 GB up to 80 GB.

The third kind are called flash MP3 players because they use flash memory to store the audio files. Flash Memory allows data to be stored and is not lost if the batteries die or power is lost (unlike your computer at home). These units can be tiny and have no moving parts. They also have very good battery life. The iPod Shuffle falls in this category. The drawback is they can’t store as much as hard-drive based players. One notable exception to this is the new iPod Nano, which holds an impressive 4 GB!

The flash-based MP3 player is my favorite because of the impressive array of styles and features they can have.

Which brings me to one of my favorite MP3 players which belongs to my wife (additional pictures found here).

This tiny 512 MB unit was purchased from eBay for a cost of $49.00. It includes the following:

FM radio with presets
MP3 support for MPEG 1, 2, 2.5
7-Color back-light
Voice recording
Radio recording
10 Hour playback from one AAA battery
Display shows id3 tags and lyrics

A typical store-bought unit that does this would probably run about $130.00 so I saved at least $80 by purchasing a no-name brand from eBay. I’ve bought several of these kinds of MP3 players for relatives and friends. They are truly awesome.

Green Eggs and Ham

General 3 Comments

I pretty much read Green Eggs and Ham every night to my kids. They love the predictability and repetitive nature of the story. They have made the story their own by identifying who is in the train, who lives in the house the train passes by, the name of the train conductor and the boat captain. But last night it hit me: who is the guy refusing Sam’s offer of green eggs and ham?

Nowhere in the whole story do we learn his name. So my kids and I tried to pick out a name for him. I think we all agree that it’s Mr. something, but we don’t know.

Does anyone have any information or suggestions?

What’s This Key For?

General 1 Comment

I was asked today what the heck a Scroll Lock key does. And then, for that matter, what the Pause/Break key and the SysRq key do. I asked if they knew what the Windows key does and they rejoined “of course! It’s to make that thing come up!”

We see these keys on all our keyboards though their use and purpose have long been obscured and shrouded in mystery and stepped in legend. OK. I admit, I don’t know any legends about the Scroll Lock key so I’m going to make one up:

So that’s not quite the real history of the Scroll Lock key but it’s entertaining and I’ve found a lot of times people want the entertaining version even if it is completely devoid of truth. So, for your convenience I have included the true legend of the Scroll Lock, albeit more boring.

Now that you have heard the awful truth, you should read The Mystery of the Break Button and the Tale of Sir SysReq.

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