Thursday, August 25, 2016

BRITISH FLIGHT Delayed by Crew Argument Covered on TWITTER

It was a bad day to fly for passengers of an easyJet flight when they found themselves delayed for over an hour before taking off. And what was the reason? It was a heated argument between some of the cabin crew over some painfully mundane service concerns.

The Daily Mail reports that easyJet Flight EZY835 from London Gatwick to Belfast was just about to taxi to the runway when a loud squabble broke out between two members of the cabin crew. The squabbling personnel were caught on the cellphone camera of British television presenter Dan Lobb, who for the lack of anything to do began live-tweet coverage of the spat and its consequences.

That became necessary when the hold-up delayed preparations for takeoff. Eventually the captain made the decision to return the plane to the loading gate in order to switch off the offending crew members for new ones. Lobb noted that the disagreement that sparked the incident wasn’t even over any important matter related to the flight; the offending crew apparently just had a mutual strong dislike for each other, to the point that they were critiquing one another’s handling of water bottles for the passengers. One could visualize Lobb shaking his head on revealing this mundane reason for inconvenience on his third tweet.

“They just don’t like each other!” “Because a couple crew members don’t get on, the whole @easyJet flight has been delayed!! Unbelievable.” These were merely a sampling of Lobb’s tweets of frustration. He snapped a picture of the captain making his announcement of the delay and added, “The captain is explaining why we're being delayed! This is unreal. 2 crew members being offloaded!!”

Also stuck in the delayed flight was the band duo Disclosure. They too had a field day on Twitter about their circumstances.

When the issue was finally resolved, over an hour later, Lobb gave one last tweet detailing that they eventually arrived in Belfast 90 minutes late. He had every right to be exasperated; there were plenty of young children and babies on the flight, he noted, and when kids needed to stay still for long, they just don’t. Warm temperatures at the back of the plane also made the babies uncomfortable. In all, the flight had been some shallow level of hell for all involved.

In the aftermath of the bizarre trip, the management of the London-based easyJet carrier – offering low-cost flights – presented a statement to CNN clarifying the events that took placed. It went: “easyJet can confirm that flight EZY835 from London Gatwick to Belfast returned to stand to replace two crew members following a verbal disagreement between them. The safety and welfare of our passengers and crew is easy Jet's highest priority and in order to deliver this easyJet's cabin crew need to be able to work as a team. We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused by the resulting delay. The flight has now continued to Belfast.

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Don't Remove Audio Jack APPLE WOZNIAK

It’s a fact of life that things ought to try to keep moving forward, like advances in technology. New breakthroughs and upgrades to existing appliances and gadgets have helped them get smaller and slimmer, and therefore more comfortable and easy to take anywhere. But sometimes the advance of tech means that eventually older ones become termed obsolete and discarded.

That’s one thing Steve Wozniak, one of the founding fathers of a pillar of electronic gadgets Apple alongside the late Steve Jobs, is not keen on happening. As TIME reports, he is very pointedly questioning a rumored step of advancement in the company’s planned next version of the iPhone: the removal of the classic headphone audio jack.

With the next iPhone, most likely the 7, believed to be unveiled sometime in September, Wozniak is absolutely certain that taking the old-school 3.5mm audio jack for earphones out of the mobile phone’s body is a very bad idea, and is telling everyone who is listening just so. “That's going to tick off a lot of people" is the outcome he firmly believes in.

Secretive as always, Apple has taken great pains not to reveal anything about the iPhone 7 until its ready to be showcased. That hasn’t stopped rumors however, specifically that one that the phone’s body will be so much thinner than ever and will pack twin speakers at its bottom, both features feared to necessitate removing the audio jack. In its place, user will use a headset with a connector for the phone’s lightning port, or instead utilize Bluetooth to operate wireless headphones.

Further speculation has it that Apple will instead be designing a new headphone that would connect wirelessly to the iPhone aside from Bluetooth. Apple’s kept mum about it however. But that’s enough cause for alarm according to Wozniak, who does not share the current opinion that Bluetooth accessories offer superior sound quality and instead argues that the audio jack delivers better music fidelity.

“I would not use Bluetooth … I don’t like wireless,” he declared to the Australian Financial Review on Wednesday August 24. “I have cars where you can plug in the music, or go through Bluetooth, and Bluetooth just sounds so flat for the same music.”

Steve Wozniak was the one-man developer of the Apple I computer in 1976. He teamed up with Jobs and Red Holt to put together the Apple II, and later co-founded Apple Computers, now Apple Inc.

Having lived in a time when the audio jack was the cutting edge in sound tech, he certainly has a fond preference for what has worked a long time since. But he and everyone else might just have to wait until the next iPhone reveal in September to be sure, unless it gets leaked of course.

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CELEBRITY Support for ITALY Quake Victims

Last August 24, central Italy was rocked by a powerful earthquake that devastated towns in the mountainous region. Worst hit by the calamity was Amatrice, described by its mayor as no longer existing in the aftermath of the tremors, and whose survivors have been prohibited from spending the night due to safety concerns. At latest count, 247 have already been confirmed dead, over 300 wounded and a further thousand displaced by the destruction of their homes, according to the latest estimates gathered from Prime Minister Mateo Renzi’s office.

As news of the tragedy began going round the world, people are flabbergasted at the magnitude of damage to the Italian locales, and many of them took to social media to express love, support, and even outright declare concrete assistance to the stricken victims of the quake.

Leading the charge are several Hollywood celebrities on Twitter and Instagram, asking for prayers and thoughts on behalf of the dead, injured and homeless from the catastrophe, most especiallyin Amatrice. Hollywood Life lists such messages from the likes of Teresa Giudice (Prayers for the people of Italy who were effected by the horrible earthquake); Troian Belisario (Sending love to everyone who was hurt, lost their home, their lives and all the incredible responders who are dedicating theirs to helping. Ti amo Italia.); rocker Nikki Sixx ("Sad horrific news coming out of Italy after a massive earthquake hit them. Prayers for the beautiful people of the #ItalyEarthquake"; and Paula Abdul ("To the victims of the devastating #ItalyEarthquake their families friends & loved ones: my prayers are w/ (with) you & my heart is for you... I'm so grateful for the doctors, nurses, rescue workers, volunteers & ANYONE helping & being of service during this crisis.").

But the heaviest name to throw her hat into the earthquake is the Mother Monster diva Lady Gaga, real name Stefani Germanotta, whose family is from Italy. She quickly took to Twitter upon learning of the events in Amatrice and the surrounding towns, expressing her sorrow and making a pledge to concrete aid the land of her ancestors. Part of the tweet read: “Praying for the people in Italy who are suffering from (the) earthquake. My family will make a donation to help repair these beautiful cities.” The tagged on a Italian flag emoji at the end of it.

Closer to home, chefs all over Italy are responding most fervently to the relief of Amatrice, home of the unique pasta dish, spaghetti all'Amatriciana. Over 600 restaurants across the country are putting the wrecked town’s specialty on their menus, with a pledge to donate about €2 from each sale of the dish to the Italian Red Cross for Amatrice’s relief. It was unfortunate that the quake happened when it did as Amatrice’s annual Spaghetti all'Amatriciana festival was supposed to have been held over the weekend.

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SWITZERLAND Test Drives Ground Mail DRONES

It’s a drone and auto-driving crazy world nowadays. Everybody and their mother is really trying to push the envelope in developing new uses for remote operated drones like flying medical supplies in rugged Rwanda. Over in Switzerland, their national postal service has been making its own inroads towards their own remote operated network for deliveries. But airborne drones to them are like a dime a dozen now, so Swiss Post has decided to try out a different means of drone locomotion. Think little van-like cars with cargo space travelling along city sidewalks.

Starting September according to CNN, Swiss Post is fielding robot ground drones in three cities for postal deliveries in kind, such as food and medicines, carrying enough freight to add up to a 30-kilo total weight. Designed and built by Starship Technologies which was started by Skype’s co-founders, these robots are shaped like pods with six wheels and an antenna for remote operation and tracking.

Cameras enable operators at the post office to see where a delivery drone is going. They move slowly along the ground at an autonomous setting about 99% percent of the time, able to maneuver around obstacles like pedestrian legs, they’re out on delivery, but they can be manually overridden by operators just in case.

Claudia Pleischer, Head of Development and Innovation for Swiss Post, stresses the need for even a postal service like theirs to keep up with the latest advances in tech and trends, hence the trial run for their proposed fleet of postal robots.

For the September test run, the drones will carry only dummy parcels and set to perform local deliveries within a 5-kilometer radius of a post office hub. The three locations for the trial include the Swiss capital of Bern and the towns of Biberist (Soloturn) and Köniz (Bern). These will be the latest locales where Starship Technologies has brought their products out to play. They have already held similar trial runs for the drones in both Germany and the United Kingdom.

Pleischer also reassures people who are weary of an eventual full automation in Swiss postal deliveries, saying that the mail-bots are not a complete substitute for human beings delivering the mail. As she tells Swiss news website The Local, “We will keep needing the postmen, it’s not a substitute, but it’s a complementary way of delivering things that today we do not have in our offering.”

While the test drones are going through sidewalks in the test period they will be shadowed by Swiss Post handlers, who will take note of the machines’ performance in their deliveries, along with the general reaction of passersby to the drones moving around and between their feet. 

Washington, DC will be the next city to test out the mail delivery drones in the fall.

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HAV AIRLANDER 10 Crash Lands in Second Test Flight

We’ve featured the HAV Airlander 10 prototype aircraft before in a previous article, how it was once a US military project that was thrown out because of defense budget cuts and rescued by the British company Hybrid Air Vehicles which had built the craft for the Americans, how it was a unique blend of balloon, plane and helicopter with impressive carrying weight and flight duration (even longer when unmanned), how early this August it had embarked on its maiden voyage over England to prove its proof of concept much to HAV’s satisfaction and the amusement of onlookers who have nicknamed the strange looking machine as the “Flying Butt”.

Celebration over its successful maiden voyage may have been a tad premature though, as during its second scheduled test flight this Wednesday august 24, the Airlander abruptly turned slightly nose- down in the middle of its landing approach and, quite frankly, crashed to the ground, though HAV opines that it was more of a “heavy landing”.

A statement the company released shortly after the crash said, "The Airlander experienced a heavy landing and the front of the flight deck has sustained some damage which is currently being assessed." They clarified that despite apparent damage to the cockpit section from the rough landing, the test flight crew was safe with no injuries.

The Independent further reports that eyewitnesses at the test area claim to have spotted the culprit for the accident: as the Airlander was making its final approach to the landing zone, a line trailing from the bottom of the aircraft caught on an electrical post a few fields away from the landing zone.

When the vessel was making to ease down, the tangled line made the nose point downward. This account has yet to be verified by HAV which has yet to disclose an official report on the cause.

At 300 feet long, the Airlander 10 is about 50 feet longer than the world’s largest passenger jets. It has no internal framework, with its body shaped maintained by the pressure of its helium air supply.

In the air the vessel can potentially go to 92 miles per hour and carry a 10-ton payload. With pilots and passengers the Airlander can remain in flight for about five days straight; as an unmanned drone it can stay for about two weeks. And surprisingly, all of it is worth only £25 million, remarkably cheaper than traditional jet aircraft.

With both civilian and military applications open to the Airlander’s utilization, HAV hopes to be able to produce 10 of them annually for worldwide consumers by 2021. Already they are hard at the drawing board for a new Airlander 50 model, capable of carrying 50 tons of cargo.

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