Friday, July 29, 2011

Google plays with hotel finder search tool

As Google slowly takes over the online world - it brings us a beta of a find the hotel application.
Google's Hotel Finder . . . can find the ideal accommodation for a particular user based on a few different priorities, such as location and budget. For example, when searching for where to stay, the user can draw shapes around neighborhoods using a mouse rather than searching by individual addresses.

Source: CNET

Every aircraft needs a bar!

I recently travelled on V Australia, and they had a bar in business class. It was nice to get up, stretch your legs and meet some other travellers.  The odd things was that once more than 4 or 5 of us grouped on one side of the aircraft, staff - very politely - pointed out that this was against regulations, and could we break up the group.

Well, not to be outdone, Korean Airlines is adding not just one, but three bars to their A380's:
The airline is calling them "Celestial Bars," and plans to add one to first class and two to business. Oh, did I not mention coach? That's because all of us in the cheap seats are going to have to buy our liquor from the trolley as we always have.
One of Korean Airlines new A380 bars
The Celestial Bars in business will be self service and, since cocktails in the upper tiers are usually comped, that could make for some pretty inebriated passengers. First class will get a bartender. Of Korea Air's 10 A380 planes, it's uncertainly how many will get all liquored up.
Anyone for a drink?

Source: DVICE

That wrong transaction on your credit card could cost a lot more

Latest email message scam tells you a hotel has erroneously charged your credit card account.
The messages started popping up in recent days and there are already hundreds of variants on the same theme: A hotel wrongly charged a credit card number and the victim is supposed to fill out an attached form to process the refund.
"Please see the attached form. You need to fill it out and contact your bank for return of funds," read one such message, titled "Hotel Breakers Palm Beach made wrong transaction."
The 'refund' form is actaully a nasty Trojan horse virus that attempts to install bogus antivirus sofware on your computer, which provides annoying alerts to phantom security problems on your computer. It then keeps pestering you until you pay some money to buy a phony antivirus product.

The trick is - of course - not to open the attachment in the first place - or use your anti Virus software. Also make sure your anti-Virus software is up to date, as spammers change the code on their viruses regularly to circumvent your protection software.

Source: PC World

Thursday, July 28, 2011

More rumours about how iPhone 5 will look

Its hard to know what to believe about the upcoming iPhone 5. Will it arrive in September? Will it look almost the same as iPhone 4? Or, will it look like this - the latest rumour:

Don't ask me.

Scources: AllNewsMac, AppleInsider

iPad bag review

I wouldn't travel without my iPad 2 these days.  I don't have a cute bag for it, but slip it into my current Jack Spade shoulder bag. But if I were considering buying a new bag for it, this Waterfield one might be the one:

Full Review: Gadgetier

Is that a gun in your pocket . . .

Obviously not pleased to see this United Airlines employee:

A worker for the US airline; united Airlines was accidentally shot by a passenger during the check in process at a US airport, it has been revealed. According to the reports, the airline worker was accident ally shot by a man who was checking in a hunting rifle for an upcoming flight.

The right to bare arms . . .

Scource: Boosh Articles

The art in the Chelsea Hotel is going walkabout

It appears that the mountains of art left by former occupants of New York's famous Chelsea Hotel are slowly disappearing prior to a major remodelling:

The hotel, designated a landmark in 1966, put up for sale in 2010, has walls "caked with art" by former and current hotel residents, like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Willem De Kooning. That art has been vanishing, piece by piece, either taken away with evicted owners, thrown away, or just "going missing." Ed Hamilton, who writes Living with Legends: Hotel Chelsea Blog, was tipped off that several of Brett Whiteley's paintings, which sell for millions, "were observed being carted out of the hotel last Wednesday and taken away in a van."

Scource: The Village Voice

Macdonald's demonstrates the difference between Apple and Windows

Scource: JoeMyGod

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

USA airlines hike ticket prices by same amount of tax they now don't have to pay

Airlines see an opportunity to make a buck - anytime there is one:
On Friday, Congress failed to approve the extension of a bill to keep the Federal Aviation Administration running. Among other things, that meant the agency no longer had the authority to impose the various federal taxes that airlines add to the price of each ticket.

So as of 12:01 a.m. Saturday, the federal government began losing an estimated $25 million a day in tax revenue.

But did airlines simply pass on this savings to customers?

No, they did not.

Last week, evidently in anticipation of the tax’s expiring, some airlines quietly began raising fares — on average, roughly by the same amount as the federal taxes. Others did the same over the weekend, and most of the rest joined in on Monday.
Scource: NYTimes

Americans get upset about behaviour on flights

Having recently traveled in the USA, I was amazed again at what Americans take for granted they can bring on as carry-on luggage. As I scrabbled for space in an overhead locker, I thought no one seems to mind that the guy behind me stuffing in and overhead locker half a house load. Apparently, I am not the only one:
Now I see passengers jockeying for overhead space wearing pajamas and flip-flops, and sometimes it looks as if their clothing hasn't seen soap and water for a very long time. They're all lugging on everything they own in a steamer trunk or a Hefty trash bag.

Scource: USA Today There are a couple other letters worth a read

No change in problems for airline passangers in 50 years

From Fortune Magazine:
For the airlines of the nation are in trouble. Boom business has jammed air facilities from the reservation telephones on through the whole system and into the air. The major airports are getting close to the absolute maximum of traffic that can be handled safely. Whenever the weather gets bad, the specter of mid-air collisions above the inadequate airports haunts the entire industry. The coming winter is dreaded.

The only surprise here is that this was written in 1946 under the heading 'What's Wrong with the Airlines'

Scource: CNN Money

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hawaii - I hear you calling

Take advantage of the shopping opportunities while the AU dollar buys US$1.08.
Hawaiian Airlines representatives from both Australia and the airline’s head office in Honolulu will visit over 100 travel agencies during next week’s sales blitz, as well as attending a range of other events.

As well as selling the destination of Hawaii, the airline will be promoting its generous luggage allowance, in which every one of its passengers flying from Australia can check up to two pieces, each weighing up to 32 kilograms – ideal for carrying home the bargains from a strong dollar shopping spree in Honolulu.

“You’ll know us,” said Robinson. “Among the locals rugged up against the cold, we’ll be the ones in the Hawaiian shirts, selling the Aloha spirit!”
If you want to leave now on Hawaiian - then fares from $1,438 economy, or $3,048 business this month. Currently 4 flights a wek, but changing to 5 flights a week in August.


What annoys people in hotels

In a recent hotel survey in North America, guest satisfaction levels dropped. This is probably to do with occupancy rates rising, so guests are not getting the upgrades to better rooms and other perks hoteliers were offering in the dark days of the post financial crisis hotel scene.

More interesting is that nearly one in five guests experienced a problem during their visit. The most common irritation was noise (16%). Noteably, less than half of those bothered by noise made an effort to complain to management. 13% had a problem with their internet connection (I must figure in those statistics), and 60% of those reported the problem to management.

Other interesting factoids: Ritz-Carlton outscored Four Seasons, and experts recommend that you do complain when service doesn't meet your expectation.

I'll be taking up that recommendation.

Source: CNN

Monday, July 25, 2011

Qantas cuts its USA Advantage

There used to be at least one reason to travel to the USA with Qantas. That was - if you were going to NYC via Los Angeles, you could travel on the same plane most of the time. No changing planes or shifting terminals and all that palava.

Now it appears this slim advantage is to be cut. Qantas is rumoured to be cutting flights between LAX and NYC - which will in future be handled by their US partners American Airlines.  Now I don't have a lot of love for Qantas anymore, but I would prefer to travel in their planes over almost all of the USA's domestic carriers bar Virgin America.

So why would you travel Qantas to the US from Australia, when you can get cheaper fares, better service, and newer planes (except A380) on V Australia?

I have this feeling that Qantas if progressively shooting itself in the landing gear (so to speak)

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

Thursday, July 21, 2011

True Blood on the interior walls

I had the good fortune to see a couple of episodes of True Blood season 4 in the USA a couple of weeks ago.  I'm sure it will be here on Foxtel soon enough.

Without spoiling things too much, I can tell you that a few things have changed, and they are reflected in some of the interior design of the sets for the series.

At the risk of providing possible spoilers, see this piece on the set design for the new series from the LA Times

Qantas is closing something I thought had gone a long time ago

When was the last time you visited a bricks-and-mortar Qantas travel centre. The 1980's perhaps?

I can remember searching for one around that time to get some travel brochures, and finding out it was easier to phone and ask for them to be sent to me.

But apparently - they still exists, and The (Murdoch owned - be careful  or I'll hack your voicemail) Australian reports that Qantas is closing the last of them:

QANTAS travel centres have become the latest victims of the internet as the airline closes all but one of its shopfronts with the loss of 60 jobs.

The airline will close travel centres in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Cairns and Townsville because they are no longer profitable. It will keep open a centre in the remote Top End town of Nhulunbuy, which serves mining interests and acts as a corporate centre.

The airline had already shut travel centres in Darwin, Canberra and Surfers Paradise as the increasing use of online booking engines sounded the death knell for the "bricks and mortar" operations.

About 70 per cent of domestic bookings are now made through and about 33 per cent of international tickets.
Just one more thing Qantas has cut, add it to the list:
  • baggage allowance
  • access to lounges
  • meals
  • flowers in business class toilets
  • benefits to frequent flyers
  • service

Feel free to add other cuts in comments

Source: The Australian

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Decided on your destination, picked your hotel - now choose your room

Having carefully selected a hotel that meets your style, location and budget needs, nothing can stuff up a trip more than finding your room allocation overlooks a carpark/brothel/nightclub/all night pharmacy/busy highway/garbage dump/building site.

Now, you no longer need leave what hotel room you get to chance.  The new hotel website Room77 almost does the selection for you.  Well not quite, but it will give you  floor plan of the hotel and indicate which rooms are to be avoided, which are OK, and which are really good.

The really good tend to be the room category that you can't afford, but the 'OK' category mostly covers standard rooms.

You can look through a hotel floor by floor, and even get a sort of semi 3D view of what you can see from your room, via google's street view.

I used it recently to make sure I didn't get a room I wanted to avoid.

The site has some issues - ideally this should be a smartphone app, so that you can type the room number you are allocated by reception, and evaluate it before accepting. Making it a website, means you could be trying to check your room before the hotel has even given you wifi access.

It's a beta version - so improvements are still to come and mainly covers the USA. See what you think.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Find a hotel pearl at

I hate ordinary hotel sites that have tons of 'mood' shots - you know - a perfect arrangement of spring flowers on a side table with everything else in soft focus. I like to know what the space I am buying for the night looks like. I love hotel sites that have floor plans, and ones that have specific photos of each room type rather than a generic one (Hyatt take note).

Although a fan of Tripadvisor, I also think it can be very confusing. You don't know if you are reading a review by someone who is staying in a 5 star hotel for the first time, or who stays in nothing else. In other words, you don't know if the review is by a honeymooner who had more on his/her mind than the concierge service, or the proverbial 'maiden aunt' who has no better way to spend his/her time than complaining about the hair left in the bath.

What I always thought Tripadvisor lacked was a curator. I want a site that provides an opinion on hotels from a single viewpoint.  That way you would know the attitude of the reviewer and be able to evaluate their review accordingly.

If you share this view of the hotel website world, or you really want to see exactly how the toiletries are laid out, then visit

It currently only seems to cover USA hotels, but having recently stayed at the London in West Hollywood, I vouch for the accuracy of their review - although we didn't get turn-down service, or the lavender scented towels at the pool.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fonts need a shopfront? open an actual bricks and mortar shop in Copenhagen where you can buy digital fonts.
Customers can walk in off the street and buy fonts loaded on USBs that resemble little credit cards. The shop also sells a ragbag of typographic gifts and paraphernalia, including T-shirts, posters, and even wine (no idea if it's any good, but the bottle sure looks purdy) -- all in a space done up in a lovely black-and-white motif that is itself a monument to typography. Think of it as the type geek's equivalent of an Apple store. More


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Bathrobe sexism - or alien design?

I want to see if others share my experience of hotel bathrobes.

They are insanely useful things.
  • You can lounge about in them while you are waiting for all your laundry to be done and returned to you. 
  • You can throw them on when actually you were stark naked just before room service arrived. 
  • You can use them to hide/disguise the bits you don't want your partner to see before you douse the lights
  • You can avoid getting dressed for ages
But, there seems to be a conspiracy afoot. Initially I thought confined to Asian hotels, but I believe it is more widespread.

Hotel bathrobes seem to be made for people with minute waists, located directly below their armpits. Often if two bathrobes are provided, then one is even more minute than the other.

This is wrong. It assumes that one partner will be smaller than the other, and that both partners have waists directly below their armpits. Neither of these is usually true, except possibly in the case of aliens, who may or may not have waists directly below their armpits.

I am presuming that this is a left over sexist attitude that the female will be smaller in the waist department than the male. Now this is just patently not true. Have a look here (People of Walmart) if you don't believe me.