Gunfire is pretty common here, perhaps even more common than in Oakland though usually for the same reasons: celebrating holidays, sports victories, weddings, that sort of stuff. It is kind of fun to listen to and watch tracers and stuff, but usually the villa is also celebrating in an obvious way; when you hear gunfire you also hear cheers, at least at night.
This evening the house was quiet, but the gunfire sure wasn’t. The guys tell me it was a tribal feud in the neighborhood, quite close from the sound of it. This is a low-fi recording from my phone.
I haven’t tried the iPod interconnect yet, but I will; I need to put some video on the iPod first. I’m not sure why they decided to use a proprietary cable. That was kind of stupid, there’s a USB port in the pod. The proprietary cable takes analog video and audio, but how hard would it to be to build a local decoder for MP3/MP4 content into the pod? Or just build a dock like the table radios at modern Holiday Inn’s that have an iPod dock built in.
The TV system is pretty good. It has a lot of content on it, but the TV shows they have are limited by source (NBC) and while The Office is pretty good, they only have two episodes. Air Canada has a lot more content and a wider variety of sources.
One of the best things Air Canada does is sponsor Canadian film makers and then showcase their work on the in-flight system. UAL should do this too, though internationally. If I was in charge of the UAL in-flight system, I’d offer an annual prize for films: the rules being if you submit, it may be shown on UAL flights as long as UAL wants, maybe $20k for first, $10k for second, $5k for third… for $35k they’d have some entertaining content. Almost every little twiddle on the Air Canada student collection beats anything by NBC.
Another problem, and this drives me nuts everywhere, is that now that there are about 2 standard aspect ratios (4:3 and 16:9) nothing is ever shown in the right one. Everything I see is squished one way or the other. The UAL system does not letterbox, so WTF? Why not blackbar the source? Is it that hard? It’s all transcoded anyway, do the black bars at transcode – they don’t take any space up in the compressed output and it would always play right. No squished faces. It really took away from my enjoyment of the cinematic experience that should have been Max Payne.
I find the lack of temporary storage space in the pods a bit irritating. It sort of sucks to have to put everything in the overhead, especially on takeoff, and then wait until the seatbelt sign is off to get it back, especially as the in-flight system can’t be enabled until a safe altitude is reached as it apparently “interferes” with the nav system. Just like iPods do… of course if the RF leakage from an iPod interfered with the nav system, what on earth are planes doing flying into urban areas with their multi-kilowatt radio and tv transmitters littering the landscape and god forbid airports with the radar sweeping around so that cell phones get knocked off their towers.
But the lie flat seats are very comfortable. This is the first long flight I’ve been on where I got to enjoy them. I was on a 767 from ORD that had the new pods and they were cool, but 4 hours is hardly time to experiment with the new features. Now they’re in 747s and I gather the 777s will be the last to be converted.
Which reminds me, I listened to the wonderful News Quiz podcast on the way and the following were two wonderful gems of many from the recent show:
“You know how the temperature is adjusted for windchill? Surveys should be adjusted for stupidity: surveys say that 1 in 3 Britons think the world was created in the last 10,000 years, but adjusted for stupidity, nobody does.”
“Instructions for sperm donors: on arrival ask for Mr. Hancock.”
Rental car review
- I used the backup sensor in a parking lot – a good thing as the car is long and has poor visibility out the back.
- It has an outside temperature indicator which I like.
- The seat moves all the way back when you take the key out, and then back to where it was for us old people.
- The tailgate opens and closes itself, which is kind of absurd and overkill but fun in a gadgety way.
- The engine is fairly powerful (Canadian rentals seem to be more powerful than US rentals – my .ca Grand Am would spin it’s wheels embarrassingly easily, whereas my .ca.us Grand Am in LA was kind of anemic).
- It’s quiet and comfortable.
- The rear seats fold into the floor of the car – just like a mini-van.
- The stereo had an analog input and a 6 CD MP3 changer
- It has Microsoft Sync – more on that below.
Rental car review. Impala 21:13:39 flex fuel with 37km on the odometer.
- Quiet – Not too bad. The interior is pretty soft so it’s fairly quiet, though very noisy on rough roads.
- Comfortable – Not bad, not as ass fondling as the Volvo…
- Basic amenities – Power everything, but no outside temperature reading. I like knowing the outside temp.
- Stereo – basic and acceptable. This one had a little plug in port for a MP3 player.
- Security – the trunk is big and secure.
- Quiet – this car is about as quiet as any I’ve rented except perhaps the Audi A4.
- Comfortable – the V50 is a little less roomy than a torus, but I find the layout fits very well and doesn’t feel at all cramped.
- Basic amenities – I’ve gotten rental cars with manual windows or manual seats and mirror adjustments. It would matter less in one’s own car or just driving around, but realizing the mirrors are out of wack as you try to merge onto the freeway that is probably taking you the right direction before the GPS has locked satellites and discovering that you have to reach over, unroll the window, and poke at the mirror is sub optimal. The Volvo has everything you’d expect.
- Stereo – up here in Canada I listen to CBC-R2. Good classical and some funky music too. It’s nice when it sounds good. The Volvo has a great stereo that performs well at any volume and isn’t absurdly bass heavy like a Scion. On the other hand, the Volvo doesn’t have an iPod port like the Audi or a MP3 compatible CD player like a lot of Mustangs have.
- Security – I usually have a computer with me and sometimes it is convenient or necessary to leave it in the car. A trunk is a lot more secure than a wagon, and while the Volvo has a pull-out cover to hide what’s in the back, it’s not as confidence inspiring as having a solid trunk.