Faster wifi on planes

The future is now.

To be honest, the future was actually already then, when I was on a flight over Turkey, tracking my flight over Turkey en route to nearly kill my Mum by walking into her kitchen while she thought I was 6000 miles… away.

Wi-fi on planes is incredible. Not just because it’s useful as a communication, productivity and time-passing tool, but also because of the way it works. From your device to the on-board router, then pinged from the top of the plane moving at close on 1,000kph to a satellite about 35,786km up (which itself is moving at 18,000kph) and then down to earth and then – obviously – back again.

Like, I said: Incredible.

In fact, the only issue with the wi-fi on planes is that it’s not very fast. So sending photos or anything larger than a Whatsapp message takes ages or doesn’t really work at all. Especially just after dinner.

But now it’s about to get better:

Emirates has partnered with Thales to bring 50Mbps connectivity to its Boeing 777X fleet in 2020.

That’s five times faster than I get at home. Five.

And look, I know I’m very lucky to have a generally stable internet connection at home. But my house stays where it is and is attached by a long cable to the place where the internet comes from (which also stays where it is). It’s relatively simple to get internet to go back and forth along that cable. But they still can’t do it at more than 10Mbps.

I think the potential solutions here are fairly obvious: move my house to an Emirates 777 (clearly not an option), or park an Emirates 777 in my back garden (it could be a contemporary sculpture).

The neighbours might not be happy, but at least they’d have really speedy internet.

First try

Let’s run you through the timeline here.

In January, I got the Mavic. And when the South-Easter had subsided for a few moments, I flew the Mavic and I took some photos. And then I took a lot more photos. And taking photos was rather fun and editing photos was rather straightforward, because I had taken and edited photos previously.

Videos, though? Videos were much harder. Not only had I never really shot or edited videos before, but I also had to learn to try and fly the Mavic at the same time. And that was basically too much stuff for my small brain to handle in one go.
Thus, I was dealing with poor quality footage and basically no skill: really not a great combination. Oh, and to add insult to that poor quality footage and basically no skill, the Mavic’s output was so good (in digital terms) and so big that my computer couldn’t handle it.

And so, a new computer and a some new editing software was called for. And that’s how I ended up with a new laptop with more RAMs, and a subscription to Adobe Premiere Pro (“Pro”? Me? Lol!) CC 2018. It should be noted that I still don’t have much good footage to go with these sparkly new additions yet, because only now I have them do I see what sort of good footage I need.

So, with all those disclaimers piling up against the door so that I don’t have to face the slings and arrows of outrageous criticism, here’s some footage that I shot on our Orange River trip back in April, hastily cobbled together and popped onto Youtube. Do watch it in one of the 3 different HD options, because the Mavic does HD very nicely.

I’d like to think that my flying skills have improved quite a lot since I shot this back in April. And I’d also like to think that my editing skills will also improve with more practice and better raw material.

So this goes down as a benchmark. Something to look back on in n months or years and see how far I have come. To that end, please be gentle: I, more than anyone else, recognise that this is far from perfect. If it was perfect, then I would be wasting my time trying to improve, wouldn’t I?

Atlantic Road

I love the title to this NYT article by Ondine Cohane:

In Norway, the Journey is the Destination.

Of course, this can be the case with any road trip, but this is about Norway’s ambitious tourist project, the Norwegian Scenic Routes: 18 scenic routes you can drive along – in Norway.

After the project was greenlighted in the late 1990s, and following a nationwide competition (both in terms of the roads chosen and the new structures proposed), Norway had envisioned the endeavor as a 30-plus year undertaking to transform 18 of Norway’s highways into cultural destinations.
Each stop would have a new pavilion, observation deck, bridge, restaurant, hotel or other structure, conceived by young emerging architects, and predominantly Norwegian ones, alongside installations by artists of note (like the French-American artist Louise Bourgeois’ evocative memorial for women and men burned as witches in the 1600s). So far 144 projects have been built, with 46 more on the horizon (completion is expected in 2023).

There are no prizes for guessing why I want to do this. The scenery, the cleanliness, the organisation, the scenery, the respect, the safety, the engineering and the scenery. I could go on. But sometimes, one can let a video do the talking.

Incredible.

One (or more) of these trips is going down on the bucket list, where is is vying for top place with Iceland – ironically “just” across the water from many of these roads.

Of course – Cape Town has its own beautiful Atlantic Road – the magnificent R44 Clarence Drive, which I most recently ‘togged like this:

while on this trip.

Warmer, nowhere near as long, but (almost?) as impressive.

The DXB connection

We have returned to real life, work and 6am wake-up calls. The kids went back to school this morning (yes, I know everywhere else is off this week – don’t @ me), but I very much doubt that they’ll make it successfully through to second break without dozing off. It was 25 hours and 25 minutes from door to door. It would have been a bit quicker, but for the Cape Town flight being delayed by an individual being removed from the plane (no idea why) and their luggage being difficult to find.

And it would have been so much more pleasant at DXB if only we could have bent the rules a bit. Let me explain:

We had about 1 hour and 40 minutes from first plane landing to second one taking off – just security to get through in between. Tight, but manageable. I’ve done it before in under an hour, and in fact, as an example, this same process only took us about 25 minutes on the way out (albeit that we got lucky in that the arrival and departure gates were very close together).

Pretty exhausted after an overnight flight from the UK, we were rather annoyed when our A380 from Manchester didn’t go to the terminal, instead parking right down at the bottom end of the runway, well away from all the airport buildings and meaning that we had to bus to the terminal. Even just after dawn, the air in Dubai is sticky and in the mid-30s. You’d rather be inside.

So it was a bit irritating, but these things happen (though not very often with A380s, to be honest). And with 500+ passengers to unload, followed by a long journey across the airport, it meant that it took 50 minutes from touchdown to actually getting to the terminal. Crazy.
However, when we did get there, we were met at gate by an Emirates guy holding a very reassuring ‘CAPE TOWN EK770’ board to personally take us to our flight, so there were no worries about missing it from that moment forward.
A very rudimentary x-ray of our bags, then another 15 minutes through the terminal on foot to gate C43 – just about as far from where we’d parked up as you can be.
And then – guess what? Back on a bus to get to our 777. Another 20-something minute journey back to the aircraft parking lot.
And when we got there, while we queued to get up the steps, I took this quick and dirty phone pic…

There, in the foreground, our 777 for the Cape Town flight. And in the background, all of about 100m away, the very same A380 that we disembarked from well over an hour earlier.

Nooooooooooooooooo!

Travel Saver rates do not apply

Hello. I’m somewhere over Iran. And I’ve just got this message on my cellphone:

Network On Air (Aerospace) is a satellite. Travel Saver rates do not apply. We encourage you to make calls at R23/min for int’l calls rather than receive calls at R150/min, R2.75/SMS & R128.00/MB for data. For T&Cs and rates visit www.vodacom.co.za/roam

I’ve already checked that my mobile data is switched off, but if you could all avoid calling me for the foreseeable future, that would be just great. Thanks.