Travel times

Family friends of ours have upped sticks and left the dessicated shell of a city which is Cape Town. Not, I hasten to add, because of the impending doom of Day Zero, but rather because they decide to travel the world for a year.

Good year to choose, guys.

Anyway, long story short, they’re (obviously) blogging their incredible trip, and they’ve just posted their first update from Buenos Aires on their blog here, and their Instagram is here.

The brilliant thing about blogging and IG’ing their trip is not just the fact that they can share their travels and experiences with friends back home in “real time”, but also that they will have a lasting record of their year away once they are back.

Go live vicariously through them.

Siemens AirDrop initiative – a bit of reality

I’m sorry to have to do this. I already did it on Twitter, but clearly very few people saw that, so now I’m doing it here as well.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

Gauteng travellers are being encouraged to swop their baggage allowance for water.
During a one-day activation at OR Tambo and Cape Town International airports, travellers can participate by having their luggage weighed at the Siemens AirDrop stand, located in the check-in hall opposite the self-service check-in counters (directly next to ACSA Info Desk at OR Tambo). Any travellers whose luggage is five (or more) kilos under the weight limit will be able to ‘exchange’ their unused kilograms for litres of water that will be delivered to Cape Town on their behalf.

Sounds great, because:

This social challenge is the perfect example of how South Africans can do something helpful for their fellow citizens’. So if you are travelling to the Mother City, show them some love and donate some water to help alleviate the pressure.

And let’s make this very clear right now: anything that alerts visitors to our current plight here, anything that raises awareness, anything that jogs their memory is a good thing.

But…

I’ve been doing some rudimentary calculations and other than the raising awareness thing, this really isn’t going to help.

Around 2.2 million people fly from Joburg to Cape Town each year. It’s the 10th busiest route in the world. So it’s a good place to go if you want to find big numbers of people for a stunt an activation like this. But even if every single one of those annual travellers brought down 5 litres of lovely, fresh Gautengy water with them, it would only amount to…

11 million litres.

And while that sounds like a lot, there are a couple of other things to take into consideration before you get excited.
Right now, Capetonians are using 630 million litres of water each day. That’s 26.25 million litres an hour.

And now remember that this is “a one-day activation”, meaning that this offer will only apply to a maximum of just about 6000 people who will be flying that route that day. If every single one of them coming down that day donates 5 litres of water, that comes to 30000 litres.

That’s enough to keep us going for 4 seconds.

Four. Seconds. 

Four.

So yes, as a tool for raising awareness around the drought (and of Siemens, obviously), it’s great.

Siemens say:

It’s this kind of ingenuity that has made us the global leader in intelligent water management.

But as a way of intelligently managing water, this simply doesn’t work.

At all.

Sorry.

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.