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Air New Zealand conducting study - in the USA

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Jun-2006 14:59

Interesting press release from Air New Zealand today...

I wonder why not conduct the same study with the local (New Zealand) market. After all I would guess the majority number of passengers are departing from good old New Zealand? And almost all flights from New Zealand are long haul flights (except to Eastern Australia and a few Pacific Islands).

And if the idea is to "make our flights a positive part of the entire vacation experience", may I suggest (of course my unasked for suggestions):

- Board on time: not five minutes before the departure time, which leads us to...
- Depart on-time: not five minutes late, not ten minutes late, but on time.
- Serve something better than water and a cookie in short flights, in special the ones departing early in the morning for people who will work the whole day in another city and then fly back. A nice breakfast would be good.
- Add a few inches to the space in the main cabin (see my comment below).

I have been flying Air New Zealand on long haul flghts and can't complain of the in-flight service. The people are nice and seem experienced. The few times I had to book flights over the phone (to use my Air New Zealand Air Dollars) the people on the other side of the line were really good and arranged everything well (better than some travel agents).

I've used the new Business Class a few times with their nice flat bed pictured below (not in bed mode of course), enjoyed the Premier Economy with a bit more space than Economy, and have used Economy.


I can't understand the Economy seats. The most unconfortable seats I've ever seen! C'mon, the flights are always 1/3 empty, so why not use the space for the better of everyone? This doesn't need a study and would increase the satisfaction of everyone on vacation...

By the way, the Air New Zealand website says Premier Economy offers AC power, but I couldn't find where to plug my laptop (it works fine on Business of course). So either this need to be fixed on the site, or on the seat.

This is the full press release:

Air New Zealand has teamed with a group of former NASA scientists at Alertness Solutions to conduct the most intensive study of travelers to date. Using methodology previously used to study only astronauts and pilots, the airline is breaking new ground in examining what they have termed the "Vacation Gap," the knowledge gap that exists regarding what happens to leisure travelers before, during and after their vacations.

The Vacation Gap study is a two-phase project. The results of the first phase, an in-depth national online survey, measure consumer perceptions of the vacation process and will compare it to the data from the second phase -- an intricate in-flight study of travelers. The findings from both phases will be used to examine a wide range of vacation and travel related questions, as well as guide the airline on future enhancements designed to maximize the vacation experience.

"By studying the Vacation Gap, Air New Zealand is continuing its efforts to make our flights a positive part of the entire vacation experience," said Gus Gilmore, vice president of Air New Zealand - The Americas. "Air New Zealand will use the results of our study to identify and explore new ways to accelerate the vacation mindset and extend it for travelers once they return. By the time we've completed this study, no one will know more than we do about the vacationer's mindset, inside and out."

The national online survey of 1,200 Americans was conducted in April and included 46 questions about work and stress, the vacation experience and the mental and emotional transitions people make between work/home and vacation modes. Among the findings, more than half (51 percent) would be willing to reduce benefits, daily breaks, pay or holiday time off to get more annual vacation time.

In addition, the survey has revealed an increasing paradox between America's stress levels and the genuine need for rest and vacation, and a significant gap between the desire for a vacation and actually taking one. Nearly 70 percent of those surveyed believe doctors should be able to write prescriptions for vacations and more than half feel that extended time off results in as much as a 25 percent increase in work productivity.

The second phase of Air New Zealand's Vacation Gap project uses scientific monitoring devices to measure brain, eye, muscle, and heart rate activity of 10 passengers flying from the U.S. to New Zealand in April and May. In addition to undergoing intensive in-flight monitoring, vacation travelers also collected data as they transitioned from home to vacation and back home again using a wrist actigraph to collect 24-hour activity levels and quantify sleep, a PDA to collect objective performance of travelers, a daily diary for reporting activities, mood, stress, relaxation and more.

Additional highlights from the consumer survey include:

The American Leisure Paradox

-- Respondents worked about nine to 10 hours a day, and almost half rated their stress levels as "moderate" to "extreme."

-- Other than time or money, 30 percent of respondents cited family commitments, 20 percent cited workload concerns and 11 percent cited guilt about leaving work as the biggest obstacles to taking vacations.


Transitioning to and from the Vacation Mindset

-- More than half (59 percent) feel like they're on vacation before they even arrive at the destination and 66 percent say they do not work while they are on vacation.

-- However, the survey suggests the vacation mindset fades quickly after Americans return. More than half (57 percent) begin to feel like they were never on vacation within the first three days back, returning to their normal stress levels and routines with exercise, sleep, work, diet and social activity.


The Benefits of Vacation

-- The majority of people surveyed acknowledged that vacations have both physiological and psychological health benefits. When asked what they thought would happen if they took two weeks off of work at a time, nearly 40 percent said they thought they would "return relaxed and refreshed."

-- Respondents also agreed that after a vacation, they feel more energized, happy and have a higher ability to communicate with others and concentrate, as well as see up to a 25 percent increase in happiness at work and productivity and decrease in stress.


Men vs. Women

-- During the planning process, the week before and day of departure and on the plane, men rated their levels of relaxation up to 16 percent higher than women.

-- Do women work harder than men? According to the survey, it would seem so. On average, women have taken three fewer days of vacation in the past year than men (female average = 25.0 days vs. male average = 27.9 days). Additionally, the majority of women rated their current stress levels as "moderate" (41 percent), while most men rated theirs as "normal" (36 percent).


Under 50 vs. Over 50

-- When responses were broken down by age, there was a significant difference of opinion on whether doctors should be able to write prescriptions for vacations, as well as their perceived benefits. Seventy-three percent of people under the age of 50 felt doctors should have the authority compared to only 59 percent of people over 50.


The results of "Phase 2" of the study are currently being analyzed and will be released this summer.





Trademe and copyright, trademark infringement

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 21-Jun-2006 17:58

What's the problem with Fairfax on-line properties these days? Just hot after my rant of Stuff not giving credits to other on-line publications (What's the problem with Stuff?), I found myself mad at Trademe, the largest auction site in New Zealand, bought a few months back by Fairfax on a deal worth NZ$700+ million dollars.

The whole thing started when a Geekzone forum member pointed to a Telecom NZ Apache Pocket PC auction going on Trademe, using images taken from our on-line review. What really ticked me off is that the seller was showing one screenshot of an Incoming Call announcement dialog, with my photograph, name and the word "Geekzone".

Trademe and copyright, trademark infringement

Clearly there's reason to believe this image came from our site. I mean, just look at the second picture and you will see my name, company and photograph.

So I asked the seller to remove the images. And this was the reply:

Hi, do you mean the brown ones? Or the blue ones? I am a member of Geekzone. Sure, if it offends you that I've used photos publicly placed on geek zone which specify no copyright I can respect your wish to remove them despite any evidence to support this. Let me know which ones. :o)


What?

"Photos publicly placed" on a website doesn't mean no copyright. All pages on Geekzone have a copyright and trademark (Geekzone is a registered trademark) notice that covers the whole content. And then continue with "despite any evidence to support this"?

I asked this person to remove all pictures, but of course the pictures were still there a couple of days after...

I tried contacting Trademe to have this listing removed. The only way is through e-mail, and it can take up to "48 hours". And guess what? No reply at all from Trademe.

I then used the "Community Watch: report this listing" feature, which I believed would be an emergency hotline link to someone on Trademe that could take actions in case of illegal use of someone else's property. What a joke. Besides not having a confirmation that my request was received, and not having a reply from Trademe (again), nothing was done.

So, should I get a Cease and Desist letter sent to Trademe? Are they simply ignoring anyone that could be between the company and the auction's success fee?

I met a few people involved with Trademe before, and I believe they probably don't have anything to do with the current state of affairs on that company. They're good people.

Crap service.

UPDATE 1: A friend commented to me something about everyone using someone else's images on the Internet. I agree, it's really hard to control. But my main rant here is on Trademe not taking action after being notified. I hope this clarifies a bit my stance.

UPDATE 2: Would it be different if the auction had a link to the original review? Yes, of course. But the seller did not offer to update the auction and the service does not offer a way to easily link to other sites.

UPDATE 3: Something I just thought: perhaps Trademe is in need of an ombudsman?

FINAL UPDATE: Just checked the auction and the images, plus the Q&A with the seller are gone. Some think this could be turned into an opportunity to drive people to Geekzone to look at the review - and this is my point on Update 2. It must be easier for Trademe to allow people to link to reviews or articles about the goods on sale there.









The US$100 Burger

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 21-Jun-2006 10:34

I should really create a "Food" tag in this blog for this kind of things. No wonder people are overweight and obese these days... Look at this:


According to the press release (I don't know why the Technology beat got the burger PR in it):

"[This] new $100 Tri-Beef Burger, the Rolls Royce of burgers that combines the most expensive and decadent cuts of beef from three continents. Unveiled at a special media briefing and tasting event at the restaurant's newly opened location at the Boca Raton Resort & Club, the Old Homestead Tri-Beef Burger "tops" the restaurant's 2002 trademarked Kobe burger with a more decadent version.

Created to be what Old Homestead owners Greg and Marc Sherry refer to as the "Beluga Caviar of Sandwiches and Romeo & Juliet of Food," the hearty 20 oz. Tri-Beef Burger consists of the highest grade of corn-fed American Prime Beef, Japanese Wagyu aka Kobe from soybean-nourished, beer-fed, sake bathed and hand-massaged cattle, and Argentinean beef from cattle that roam and graze on the South American Pompas.


Hmmm. Only "[The new burger will be] served exclusively at Old Homestead's Boca Raton location", but available for mail order.

Hmmm... Burgers...



What's the problem with Stuff?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-Jun-2006 06:41

What's the problem with Stuff, the on-line presence of Fairfax's Dominion Post, the Wellington based newspaper? Why don't they link to the source of information when it's available on-line and it is clearly not a press release?

According to online news groups, some small businesses have continued to pay several hundred dollars a month for full speed ADSL plans from Telecom because they were unaware it slashed the cost of business broadband in April – if customers moved to plans that capped download speeds at 3.5 megabits per second.

The price of business plans offering 512 kilobit per second upstream connection speeds and 10 gigabyte data caps was slashed from more than $900 per month to $71, excluding gst, but higher-priced full-speed plans that offer download speeds of up to 8 megabits per second have not yet been withdrawn.


This quote is taken from this article on Stuff (and from the newspaper).

I am pretty sure they are talking about this discussion here on Geekzone: "Telecom Overcharging ADSL by $400 a month!".

This is not nice - but we can't expect niceties from the mainstream media. But overseas the more traditional newspapers, including The New York Times, link to bloggers and other websites.

I also think this is disrespectful to the original poster on this thread, because his findings are being used by someone else, without attribution.



Microsoft Windows Vista Beta 2 and Microsoft Office 2007 Beta 2 on eBay

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-Jun-2006 04:28

A search on eBay reveals these gems: lots of Microsoft Office 2007 Beta 2 software, apparently "niceware". And it comes with screenshots:

Looking the listing that is currently going for US$92.42, the seller says:

Microsoft Office 2007!!! (Beta 2)

Access, Excel, InfoPath, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher, Word, along with 10 great tools (Including Picture Manager and Application Recovery)

You will ALSO recieve (along with your Office '07) a FREE 130 page guide on how to make over £3000 a week!!!

Microsoft have just released the new Microsoft Office 2007 Beta 2 version and it's here to buy for an amazing starting price of only £50.00!!!

With its amazing new interface and suberb assistance tools this has to be the best Office version ever.

This is by no means the final version of the new Microsoft Office 2007 as it is the Beta 2 version, but it is the FULL VERSION of the software and NOT a 30-day trial or any other trial.

You could wait until the final release of the Office (in 2007!) and pay a rediculously high price for it.....OR.....you can buy the Beta 2 FULL VERSION of the software for a starting price of only £50.00 and just keep this version as it WON'T run out as it is NOT a trial.

Also note that there are a few people on eBay trying to sell 'links' to Microsoft Office 2007. These 'links' often don't work so you would have then been robbed of your money. I sell the actual product which will be posted to you, so you have nothing to worry about!


Wow. What a bargain, and it's not a link, so people are not being robbed of their money. [sarcasm] Really? [/sarcasm]

People are being ripped off on eBay, and they are happy to pay for beta software, with no warranties at all - and paying high price for that.

Oh, sure. The seller warns this is not the final version, but says that it's ok to buy it now instead of the real thing later.

The seller in one of the items will also teach the buyer how to make 3000 British Pounds a week. Which amazes me, because if anyone knows the secret to make  £3000 the secret must be... selling it or selling illegal copies of unreleased software - and why would anyone want to sell a secret, unless the secret makes less money than promised?

Consumers have no idea of what a BETA version means and what it implicates. Thanks to ICQ, Google (a company which seems to keep all their service as BETA forever) and others, the concept of BETA testing is probably so diluted that no one understands that this is not commercial grade software, and that it may actually cause loss of data.

BETA testing actually requires users to provide feedback and submit bugs for corrections that will be released in the final version. But this is a foreign concept these days.

My impression is that users think of BETA software as being "FREE". News for you: it's not!

Of course you can't take full advantage of Microsoft Office 2007 if you are not running the latest OS:


That explains a lot how come eBay had all those billions of US$ available around to buy Skype and other companies. C'mon folks, not nice to help pirates!

On a side note, Microsoft lawyers were fast to send a Cease and Desist letter to Vistatorrent.com, a site which was only seeding unadultered Torrents for the new OS, trying to make it easier for people to download the huge software. Vistatorrent.com was not selling or distributing the registration key, which are needed to install Microsoft Windows Vista. They were not doing anything like those ripoffs on eBay.






Globalsat BT359W Bluetooth GPS is here!

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-Jun-2006 12:00

Nice... FedEx has just delivered a Globalsat BT359W Bluetooth GPS receiver and I couldn't wait to pair it with my desktop for testing.

This GPS will be reviewed later, but for now it's sitting in my window sill. And even with the bad positioning and awful sky (it's really overcast here in Wellington today), it manage to get five, sometimes six satellites over our heads.


This is my first experience with a SiRF Start III chipset GPS, since the other Globalsat devices here were tested by other reviewers, and so far it's been much better than an old generation GPS I had around (an old Pharos GPS).

I will pair with my Windows Mobile Pocket PC later and use it with the Navman software to navigate around town.




Digg, here comes your competitor

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Jun-2006 16:30

AOL is putting its weight behind the idea of crowd voting for stories, and changing the Netscape portal into a kind of Digg site. The new site will run on http://www.beta.netscape.com/

The change's been managed by Jason Calacanis, who created the Weblogs Inc. empire (owner of Engadget between others), and joined AOL when he sold his company to the big cheese.

Like Digg, users will vote on stories, and the most voted ones will make to the frontpage.
 
Techcrunch thinks that the effects on a small website could be even more devastating than a frontpage on Slashdot or Digg itself.

Unlike Digg though, the new site will also have an editor in each section, promoting specific stories.

More infomation and screenshot on Techcrunch.

UPDATE: The service is probably being hammered, because it loads very slowly for me, when it loads. I can't even login because the login page times out.

UPDATE: The service is now live on the main Netscape site: http://www.netscape.com.



The cost of SMS

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Jun-2006 14:11

SMS (the Short Message Service) or text message, the service that allows anyone with a (compatible) mobile phone to send short messages, usually 160 bytes in lenght is certainly here to stay.

I was reading a discussion in the Geekzone forums about the usage of this as a tool for communication, and how mobile operators make it easy for people to get hooked on this service, so that in the future, when they get older, they keep using the more expensive services, eg. voice and data.

But is SMS cheaper, really? At NZ$0.20 each (if you don't have a plan with an allowance) the cost per megabyte (as in 1024 KBytes, as in 1024 Bytes) of data transferred over SMS is... NZ$1310.72, or the equivalent to 6553 short messages.  

So, to transfer 1MB of information through SMS it costs $1310.72 and you have to type (using those little fiddly keypads with flimsy T9 predicitve text recognition) about 6553 SMS.

Right... For me it's much cheaper to get a Pocket PC and send e-mails, which should cost about US$49/GB on some plans currently available.

Note that I am using megabytes as in 1024 kilobytes, kilobytes as in 1024 bytes, the standard binary notation, not the decimal one.




Your Money Tax at Work (TM)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Jun-2006 12:06

This is the kind of headline that makes you think twice before jumping into action to help victims of natural disaters:

[US]$200 bottle of champagne from Hooters and [US]$300 worth of "Girls Gone Wild" videos were among items bought with debit cards handed out by FEMA to help hurricane victims, auditors probing [US]$1 billion in potential waste and fraud have found.

The cards -- given to people displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita -- also bought diamond jewelry and a vacation in the Dominican Republic, according to the Government Accountability Office audit.


More and full (gory) details at CNN.com's "FEMA hurricane cards bought jewelry, erotica".

We arranged with i-mate to have a Windows Mobile Smartphone sent to us for an on-line auction, with full proceedings going to the US Red Cross. I know, this is not the same, but it makes you think about how governments spend the money they collect from you through taxes.

What's the New Zealand equivalent to this?

The New Zealand government is currently sitting on a US$8.5 billion surplus. Are we paying too much tax?



PassBuilder: On-line password generator

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Jun-2006 10:37

Are you like many others and use the same password for every service, web site, ATM card you own?

The folks at Ilium Software have released a simple to use on-line password generator called PassBuilder, where you specify parameters and a new password will be created specially for your use.

And once you have lots of different password, do yourself a favour and use eWallet (for Windows Mobile Pocket PC or Windows Mobile Smartphone, with desktop versions included) so you have all those different passwords handy.








freitasm's profile

Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
New Zealand


I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

I work for Intergen and I'm also the Geekzone admin. On Geekzone we publish news, reviews and articles on technology topics. The site also has some busy forums.

Subscribe now to my blog RSS feed or the Geekzone RSS feed.

If you want to contact me, please use this page or email me freitasm@geekzone.co.nz. Note this email is not for technical support. I don't give technical support. You can use our Geekzone Forums for community discussions on technical issues.

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