Saturday, March 25, 2006

Remember, Remember the Fifth of November...

Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot...

Yeah, I guess you could count that as an endorsement! Go see V for Vendetta!

...Now I can't get the 1812 Overture out of my head...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Why I Hate US Airways

You know, I used to like flying.

I'm back at S.U. this week after a typically uneventful spring break, but I had a bit of adventure getting here. It's story time...

I was supposed to fly back sunday night on a flight that left at 8:40, and got me here around 10. That was the plan. After my typical last minute rush of packing (made worse by the obsessive need to watch the "Serenity" DVD my dad had purchased before I left) I got to the Pittsburgh airport, made it through security, and sat down at my gate with enough time left to play with the free WiFi.

Close to the time we were supposed to board, there's an announcement saying there's an "overbooking situation" on this flight, and they're looking for 3 or 4 (!) volunteers with flexible travel plans to switch to a later flight. I'd heard this before, and it didn't concern me much since the airline usually finds a few volunteers to keep their compassionless business model running (They'd rather overbook and kick people off a flight than risk having a few empty seats that aren't being paid for).

Unfortunatly, this went differently this time. A little while later, they called four names to come to the counter, and mine was one of them. We were informed that we might get bumped, and that we needed to wait here until everyone else got on the plane. We waited. And waited. While I was talking to another passenger who had been affected (a girl who also went to SU, and had an 8am class the next day), we overheard an interesting discussion. It seemed the plane was supposed to be ready to take off now, but they were waiting on some checked luggage that was late. The supervisor on duty wasn't happy with this, as apparently its against airline policy to delay takeoff for late luggage.

U.S. Airways overbooks its flights, and likes to leave suitcases behind when they don't make it to the plane on time. And they wonder why they're always on the verge of bankruptcy...

Anyway, eventually they mumbled something about being sorry for the inconvenience, and told us we could in fact get on the plane. Awesome! I gathered my things, and headed out to the plane. Since this was a small "Express" flight, standard carry-ons won't fit in the overhead bins. Instead, you put a yellow "Gate-Check" tag on them, and on your way to the plane, hand them to guy who puts them in the back of the plane. At your destination, you pick them up at the gate, rather than at baggage claim. I handed my roller-bag to the guy, and got on the plane with just my backpack containing my laptop and a few other small, expensive things I don't trust out of my sight. I sat down, and breathed a sigh of relief that this trip was finally getting underway.

Then the late luggage showed up.

Apparently, the luggage they had delayed the plane for was quite numerous. In fact, it wouldn't all fit in the back of the plane. The stewardess (attendant? What't the PC term?) started asking people very nicely if they could fit extra bags under the seats and whatnot. She was actually being quite thoughtful, doing everything possible to avoid leaving anything behind.

Then the supervisor showed up. He said that while the plane wasn't overbooked, it was overweight, so the four of us had to get off again. The thoughtful stewardess tried to offer us the choice of having our bags taken off and put on a later flight while staying on ourselves, but the supervisor said she couldn't do that. Dumbfounded, we exited the plane again.

The supervisor merits special mention. Now, most people still seem like people when they are working. Either they are pleasant and trying to help you (like the stewardess), or they hate their job and it shows, or whatever, but you can still tell they are human. Then there are people who come across as company policy books come to life. They aren't compassionate, they don't even offer a sad "I wish I could help" smile to calm you down. No emotion, no empathy. From all appearances, they have no souls.

The supervisor was of the latter type. Think Dick Cheney. Seriously, this guy looked (and sorta sounded) like Dick Cheney. (No joke!) His nametag said "Sean L." because apparently he doesn't have the guts to put his last name behind the work he does.

Once off the plane, I asked whether my gate-checked luggage would be taken off the plane. The supervisor assured me that it would, but that they couldn't just give it to me there on the tarmac (you guessed it: against policy), but that we could get our bags later at baggage claim F. Then one of the workers nearby got the brilliant idea to take our names down so that they could get our bags off the plane. Keep in mind, this only occured to him after the supervisor had assured us that all would be taken care of. Before we could ask any more pesky questions, the supervisor shooed us back into the airport.

At this point, we obviously weren't too happy. I was already planning this blog post. The girl I talked to earlier was nearly in tears after a phone call with her boss in Syracuse who wasn't very understanding that she wouldn't be able to work her 11pm shift that night. A middle-aged woman in our group looked like she wanted to shoot someone. The supervisor gave us a very unconvincing apology for our troubles (again, think Cheney), and then it was time for the paperwork.

If you get bumped from a flight at US Airways, they are "generous" enough to put you on the next flight out, (in this case, at 7:15 the next morning) put you up in a hotel for the night, and give you a $10 meal voucher to use at the airport restaurants. The only real nice thing they give you is a free round-trip ticket to anywhere in the continental US, usable anytime within the next year (except for black-out dates like, oh, any significant holiday). Of course, you have to sign this ticket to accept it - right under some rather fine print that promises you won't sue the airline. Mmmm... extortion!

I took the free ticket and meal, but passed on the hotel; This is my hometown, I'll sleep in my own bed tonight, thank you very much! I called my dad, and told him he had to turn around and pick me up again. The supervisor reminded us that our luggage was at baggage claim F. (How could he be so sure? He hadn't checked or anything.) He also gave us the assurance that you cannot get bumped twice, so we were guaranteed our flight in the morning. (Gee, how nice...) Broken and defeated, we all headed to baggage claim F.

I'll bet you can see where this is going. Yup, my gate-checked roller-bag wasn't there. The other passengers' luggage was sitting on the corousel, but mine was MIA. After a fruitless search, I shuffled over to the baggage claim/customer service desk. I explained the situation to the nice guy behind the counter (at least this one seemed human!), and he went into a back room to check. After a phone call, he told me there had been some sort of "miscommunication," and my bag had stayed on the plane and gone to Syracuse without me.

Damn you, Dick Cheney-alike!!

The man told me that my luggage would be locked up in Syracuse overnight, and I could pick it up when I arrived the next day. I walked to the passenger pick-up area, my mind stuck on the image of an equally-pleasant guy in Syracuse telling my my bag had accidently been sent back to Pittsburgh...

On monday I got up much earlier than I generally prefer, brushed my teeth using my finger as a toothbrush (my real toothbrush was in Syracuse...), and went back to the airport.

My own trip would go smothly this time, but I did get one last glimpse of US Airways incompetence. While wating for my flight, the announcement came that this flight was in an "overbooking situation," and they were looking for seven volunteers to give up their seats. Seven! It seems the flight we had been bumped to was overbooked to begin with, and the four of us were making it even worse! So now, the events of the previous night had affected the travel plans of a total of 11 people. Fortunatly, they got the volunteers, so no one had to go through quite what we had, but still.

I count it as a minor miracle that when I arrived in Syracuse my roller-bag was, in fact, waiting for me at the baggage claim desk. I got a cab, rode back to my dorm, thanked God I had no morning classes on mondays, and collapsed in my bed.

So yeah, not liking US Airways too much at the moment. And Sean L, wherever you are.... YOU SUCK!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Huge X-Men 3 Spoiler Cover-up

As a movie studio, what do you do when the trailer for your highly-anticipated upcoming film reveals something it shouldn't? Modify the trailer, of course! Nevermind the fact that removing the evidence only serves to confirm that yes, that shot did mean exactly what you thought it did.

Bottom line: the trailer that is online now is not the one that was originally posted a couple days ago.


Seriously, this is a big spoiler. Maybe not "I am your father" big, but possibly close. I couldn't even ethically make myself put the images on the front page of this blog, so you'll have to click your way to having part of the movie ruined. If you click any of the links below, I cannot be held responsible for the consequences. You have been warned

In the currently available trailers, the shot around time index 2:16 is Wolverine scratching his way down a wall.

However, when the trailer was first released, that same shot was something altogether different - SPOILER WARNING! Don't click this!!!!.

If you just clicked that second link, I'm so sorry. I won't describe what it is here, but it should be obvious if you look at what's in the picture, what's going on, and what's missing. I can't believe 20th Century Fox let that out, even if only for a short time. My guess - some editor's job is not as secure as it once was after this incident. also shows the original image (SPOILER!) in their flipbook.

There. With as many SPOILER tags as I put in this post, you have no one to blame but yourself. And that dumb editor at 20th Century Fox.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Hanley Films: Coming Soon (Again)

Yes, thanks to Will and his contacts on the AnandTech forums, I now have reliable hosting for again.  Well, for six months anyway.

If you click this link and see a smiley, it means I finally got the stupid DNS settings right.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Penny-Arcade Guys Get Macs!

That's right folks; Tycho and Gabe, creators of the wildly popular and gamer-oriented webcomic Penny-Arcade, have both purchased computers from Apple. Gabe's MacBook Pro (I still think that's a dumb name) hasn't shipped yet, but Tycho has been using his recently-arrived Intel iMac, and has all manner of good things to say about it:

I've used my own Mac for every computing task this week. What I have ascertained is not that PCs as we know them lack good design, but that PCs as we know them have hardly any design to speak of. I'm not trying to be insulting. Use a Mac for a week, and we'll talk again.

(mocking snarkiness follows...)

To my PC-loyal friends: What now, guys?
We are toppling your monuments, your idols, your bastions of power... and comedic sarcasm. People are beginning to see - There's a better way! (And unlike the current Democratic Party, we actually know what we're talking about when we say that!) Resistance is futile. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. With drop shadows, and translucency!