Technology and bangs and smoke magic – River of thoughts – Part 3

From Harry Potter by the highly acclaimed modern literary genius Joanne Kathleen Rowling:

He had never seen a wizard work like this, simply by looking and touching; but Harry had long since learned that bangs and smoke were more often the marks of ineptitude than expertise.

Harry Potter contrasts Albus Dumbledore‘s magical actions in the Horcrux Cave to bangs-and-smells magic.

Often I feel a similar way about technology, as Arthur Charles Clarke’s Third Law states:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

There’s a feeling when one discovers something delightful for the first time, it’s hard to pin down precisely why, perhaps it’s something novel or even unique, perhaps it does something or expands the mind in a way that seemed impossible on the first inspection but inevitable upon careful examination.

It’s also often different for every person, for me it has been things like reinventing the “Hello World” program as “Hi Earth”, or double tapping a Nao’s chest to stiffen it and watch it stand under its own power. Both represent the sum of an almost unquantifiable amount of human progress over the past millenia to acquire the appropriate raw materials, manufacture them including tricking them into thinking, and then the human effort to harness those appropriately to do something meaningful, at least for oneself.

New Years Resolutions

I am living proof they can and do work. Two years ago:

Last year was a bit more personal. A private email to myself on Feb 3 reveals:

Late yes, but I have it.

It is to build the confidence to look myself in the eye in the mirror and be content about being me.

And read “Be A Winner” by Gordon Moyes, as many times as I need to in order to know myself.

And an extract from my follow up email on December 22:

I know myself now. I believe in God the Father, the Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit, also known as the trinity.

I know I need to improve my time management skills and my ability to set appropriate expectations to those managing me.

A big part of this will be becoming more self aware in determining my estimates.

I believe God has a job outside Australia in store for me some time in 2018. And from there I can finally build what I would love to build, such as a finding a church in my new place and a companion and children, but which I cannot in Sydney due to my personal failure to manage the expectations of others and fix Australia’s real estate religion problem.

Many things are possible, some things are more likely than others.

I am thankful that with the Sun and summer returning I am no longer sick as a dog. I have hope and a believe in a future again. I am single and free to move on.

Just leaving traces for the Google bot to analyze because why not.

So overall a respectable year.

Yeah me!

This coming year, 2018, I will take a different tack. I have always aspired to read the Bible, amongst other things, so my goal is to read the Bible, at a rate of one book per week and tweet the verse that stands out to me the most. I don’t think I’ll even come close to understanding all of it (people go to theological colleges to start on that kind of truly epic quest), but it’s a start on my quest to understand God’s plan for me.

A trying time on Air New Zealand (and HiFly)

Cool A340-300 unbranded plane

Dear Air New Zealand,

I had a set of unfortunate experiences today,
and I’d like to tell you about it.

Firstly, let me introduce the appropriate context – this is Christmas Eve,
which is a trying time for all.

Secondly, I need to say that you have

communicated very well why this is a set of HiFly mistakes
not Air New Zealand mistakes.

Thus, I do understand that this was not strictly your fault.
I actually did not speak to AirNZ staff until I wanted a Jack Daniels,
only HiFly staff, but you did hire HiFly so you should be fully aware
of the level of service they offered that motivated this blog post
(TLDR: poor).

Thirdly, I was hoping this would be a curious, fun learning experience.
I generally fly cattle class everywhere though so I expect a few rough edges
or trying times. However, instead of a positive learning experience,
I will remember it as pretty poor at best and unfortunately letting
my family know too over Christmas, so here’s a chance for you
to do some damage control if you’re fast enough.

So to my experiences:

  1. Screen not working

    My screen was broken. I’m perfectly fine with this, but perhaps my
    day would have gone better if I had been offered a different seat with a working
    screen, or a free premium economy upgrade (there were many empty seats I walked
    past – I board only when the final call happens to maximise my free WiFi usage
    playing fun online games like Boom Beach, which I cannot do on the flight).

  2. Dangerous Move

    Fixed Nozzle Direction

    The hand wash container things if naively pushed on squirt the handwash outwards
    instead of downwards. So naturally when I was a little tired as happens to
    many passengers on flights, even short ones like across the Tasman, I
    fell into this trap. (The normal built-in one that I tried first did not
    dispense any handwash – clearly the Airbus Engineers knew what they were doing,
    but HiFly – evidently not so much).
  3. Ancient Call Button

    Call light off

    Call light on

    I attempted to contact a staff member with the built in buzzer thing. It was
    at an unfortunate time as the staff were dispensing meals.
  4. Thank you for the free meal! That was a nice consolation for this inconvenience.
  5. The HiFly staff member who I finally flagged down seemed completely unaware that
    my call light was on. I did not get the staff member’s name, but flying NZ102
    in economy Seat 33G, it should not be too hard to figure out if one so desired.
  6. The staff member seemed completely uninterested in my predicament. To their
    credit they did listen just enough to bring me a tiny wet towel. Which I had to
    immediately tell them was not what I wanted – I wanted a dry towel (or
    a blanket I later realized would have worked).
  7. Sad excuse for a hand towel

    So finally I got a dry towel. Which was also tiny. And by this point in time,
    10-15 minutes after the handwash squirt incident,
    I had basically dried myself off by manually rubbing my t-shirt with my hands.
  8. The flight did not stock Jack Daniels, thankfully the AirNZ staff offered
    the excellent Johnny Walker substitute.
  9. Coke No Sugar

    (This isn’t your fault AirNZ) – I would like a Coke Zero. Only Coke No Sugar was
    available (this is one reason I am leaning towards selling my CCL.AX holding
    at some point). Coke Zero is “peppier” for lack of a better description,
    I vastly prefer it over Coke No Sugar (and I’d actually prefer water over CNS
    but that’s my personal preference that I just forgot at the time after this

Finally, I spent at least an hour of my valuable time taking photos and
writing this blog to you, instead of say working on my
Robocup SPL passion
or relaxing and enjoying the flight.

I have no idea if this would have happened had I chosen the cheaper LATAM
flight today. It’s also way way way better than being a doctor bashed on United.
If only Cathay Pacific (which I have happily used to fly
to New York via Hong Kong with no jet lag twice there and back now in the
past year) flew to NZ via Sydney I would be a much happier camper today.

Ball is in your court AirNZ, I may or may not have WiFi/Cellular while
in NZ as I like my time offline away from it all with family being a huge bonus.
You may also contact me privately at:
peter AT peterjs DOT com

Thank you for reading about this poor experience.
I hope I will have a better experience
on my return journey on Monday 8 January.

P.S. I’m sure it’s just a safety thing, but to add insult to injury,
and having already taken out one earbud in compliance before the staff
member arrived, the Portuguese staff forced me to take out both earbuds of
my noise-cancelling headphones
in the last 10 minutes of the flight. Having already finished the
inflight magazine in the first 10 minutes, I was left with nothing
to do but listen to three toddlers scream their lungs out, a living hell,
but thankfully consoled in the knowledge that this too shall pass.

P.P.S. Then the staff told everyone to sit back down again,
for no reason as a minute later the captain said we could disembark.
I burst out laughing at the sheer incompetence.

P.P.P.S. I’ll add the photos later once I get past the terribly slow
Auckland Airport WiFi =(

Aside: Singapore Airlines Logo

EDIT 31 December 2017: Added photos, including that I found a Singapore Airlines logo in that bathroom: