First day in Toulouse

27 04 2011

I finally arrived in Toulouse yesterday at Noon, 18 hours after leaving KLIA. Arriving in Toulouse our small entourage was greeted by an Airbus staff who took us directly to our hotel. Adagio Parthenon is actually an apartment hotel near the centre of Toulouse and 30 minutes drive from the airport and Airbus production facility.

The hotel reception is actually on the 9th floor. I was checked into room 1206 which faces the city. The apartment has a living room and a kitchenette. The brown sofa you see in the living room folds out into a bed which can sleep another 2 persons. The separate bedroom is small but very comfortable. The apartment is also equipped with a decent  internet connection but no wifi.

Above is the view of  Toulouse from the apartment. As you can see the city has no tall buildings. Most of the buildings in this part of the city are apartments and about 4 to 5 stories high. It is because of this that I have a commanding view of the city. By contrast, if this was Hong Kong, I’d be surrounded by tall buildings and my view limited to a few hundred metres if not just metres.

After a brief rest and a shower, we went out for lunch. En. Kamal of the DCA took us to a Kebab restaurant nearby the hotel. Here  you can have your lanb kebab with cheese or plain nan and/or fries. I ordered a kebab with plain nan bread and fries. Total cost was Euro 5.70 with a bottle of water . They don’t give you a plate. The fries comes wrapped together with the meat in the nan bread.

After lunch we took a walk around the city. Toulouse is a very old city and it shows in the buildings. The architechture is gothic. presently we entered a square in the middle of the city where we came by a mime performing for money.

All his belongings are in the trolley which doubles up as a pedestal. I watched him for a good 5 minutes before moving on. What you’ll notice immediately about Toulouse are the people sitting around the square, public parks and sidewalk cafes. It was 3.30 p.m on a weekday and it seems that nobody was working!

Today, I’ll be going to Airbus Industrie at the airport.


Human powered flight?

25 09 2010

A Canadian University student claims to have made history by flying an aircraft he and his friends built with nothing more than human muscle power. The aircraft called the Ornithopther has flapping wings.  But is the claim legitimate? Watch the video here.

Although the team claims to have flown “Snowbird” as the aircraft is christened, a RECORD distance of 475 feet while staying airborne  for 19.3 seconds, the take off was aided by a motored vehicle and a tow line. The aircraft looks almost birdlike and definitely very graceful in flight but  is this really counted as human powered flight? Could the aircraft, after attaining a minimum airspeed, glide for the same distance without any human intervention?

I don;t claim to be an expert at designing an aircraft but it would have been more convincing had the team made it the take off from a knoll and without the aid of a tow line from a motored vehicle. Still this is progress. Perhaps in future they can perfect their wing to produce enough lift for a human powered takeoff!

Smoke gets in your eyes

21 09 2010

To those of my readers who cannot remember, this is actually a title of a very famous song first written in 1933. The song was covered by many artiste up to the 70’s. Here are the Platters with their version of the song.

I still remember listening to this song on my father’s 8 track and turn table.

But getting smoke in your eyes is as you know very painful, but in the aviation industry, an announcement by the flight crew of “smoke in the cabin” can be very deadly. Very recently, in fact on the 3rd of September 2010, a 747-400 Freighter crashed shortly after taking off from the international airport in Dubai due to the same reason. The captain had radioed to control tower saying there was thick smke n the cockpit and that he was practically “flying blind”.

There is now (and I just found out about it today) a simple but effective piece of  equipment that will so to speak, clear the way for the crew to see his instrument panels and out his windscreen. It’s called the Emergency Vision Assurance System or EVAS which has been installed on about 1500 aircraft. But sad to say it has not been mandated on Commercial Aviation. Here is a video about the system.

I hope in the near future, I will get to see this system installed on all public transport aircraft in the world.

Free Broadband

3 06 2010

Last week I wrote about how a woman in Wales was quoted a fee of RM700,000 by British Telecom to set up an broadband internet service in her house. Today I read the following,

TalkTalk has launched a deal giving new customers a year’s free broadband and evening and weekend calls when they sign up to an 18-month contract and pay line rental of £11.49 per month.

The free deal will include TalkTalk’s Essentials package, which is normally £6.99 a month and includes up to 24Mb broadband, 40GB monthly download allowance, a free router and evening and weekend calls.

But customers already with TalkTalk will be unable to switch to the package until their current contract with the provider expires.

A one off connection fee of £29.99 applies and once the offer period of a year runs out customers will pay the usual tariff of £6.99 per month on top of the £11.99 line rental, which amounts to £18.48 per month.

Just compare that with the latest Streamyx promotion for their 4 Mbps package which cost a whopping RM268 (£56) per month. That’s nearly 5 times the cost for a line that is 6 times SLOWER!  The only advantage the Streamyx package has is an unlimited data download. One reason for this disparity in pricing is the fact that Streamyx has a virtual monopoly on landbased internet broadband services due the their ownership of the TM landline network already in place. Another reason might be the fact that the customer base here is far smaller than the one in Britain.

RM700,000 for Broadband!

30 05 2010

While we are all complaining that broadband service charges in Malaysia are one of the most expensive in the region, this pensioner in Great Britain had a shock of her life when she asked British Telecom (BT) to quote her for providing internet broadband connection to her house. here is an excerpt from an article I read on Yahoo.

BT this week sank to a new low this week when it quoted a Welsh pensioner £150,000 to install broadband in her rural home near Llandeilo in Carmarthenshire, Wales.

When she received the quote, the pensioner, Beverley McCartney, could have been forgiven for thinking that instead of helping her to join the information super-highway, BT was planning on building an actual highway to her home.

BT attempted to justify the charges, telling the BBC that “in very rare cases, additional charges need to be applied because of an exceptional amount of work required to the network in order to provide service”. It added that there it was working hard to find solutions for the “relatively few” areas of Wales still unable to access broadband.

Needless to say, Mrs McCartney – who stressed she did not live in the wilderness, or on top of a mountain – will not be taking BT up on their kind offer to fund £8,000 of the bill if she met the rest of the costs.

For the full article, just click here.

£150,000 translates to just over RM700,000 at today’s exchange rate! So our internet service providers are not too bad in comparison.  The complexity of  terms and their misuse, allows internet providers to market their product easily. My colleague had just recently subscribed to a wireless internet service package called 6G (don’t confuse yourself with 3G). At first he said he was getting superfast download speeds until sometime at the end of the month when his internet connection slowed down to a crawl. he asked me why this was the case. To his horror, I told him that his service provider neglected to tell him that the package he signed up for allows him to download only 6 Gigabytes of data at the advertised connection speeds. After the limit is exceeded his speed would be “throttled” down to a mere fraction of what he signed up for until the next month.

So before you sign up for any new package, ask all the pertinent questions and make sure the area where you live is guaranteed coverage otherwise the services might default to a lower speed that what you signed up for.

Subang SkyPark comes tumbling down

12 11 2009

Ok ok the airport did not collapse but rather THIS did!

Skaypark UnipoleIt’s the unipole which carries (or used to carry) the advertisement for Subang SkyPark. Not a very good omen to the newly reopened airport huh? It must have fallen due to the high winds that accompanied the thunderstorm this afternoon.  Ihe signboard stood in the large roundabout at the end of the Subang Airport Highway. It was really lucky that it fell northward into the roundabout rather than into traffic.

I was leaving work when my colleague alerted me to an incident at the roundabout but stopped short of telling me what it was.  I saw it as I was approaching but at first could not place what it was or what had happened. Then as I went around the roundabout it dawned on me that the 60 plus foot unipole had come crashing down. I went around twice before stopping my car to take these photos.

Skypark Unipole1

You can actually see how big the signboard is by comparing it to the full size MPV in the foreground. The unipole had it;s base closer to the south side of the roundabout and would have landed smack on the road had it fallen the other way.

Skypark Unipole2The design of the unipole is almost akin to the mast of a ship. in a ship it is highly desirable for the mast to “catch” and harness the energy of the wind to drive it forward. But the opposite is true in the unipole. I wonder how safe the hundreds of other such towers actually are? Is there a government body that checks their design and construction? Is there anybody maintaining them after they have been installed?

I ‘ll bet there will be politicians who will try to get some mileage from thsi incident and after a few months everythign will be forgotten again but not after a task force is formed to investigate the reason for ths incident at the cost of a few hundred thousand Ringgit. Another typical major incident handled the Malaysian way.

Texting Tragedy – A Welsh safety message

9 09 2009

So how many of you out there have been in situation as depicted in the video which I posted in my last article? Gives a new meaning to the word “close call” huh? hahaha! Just the other day I was driving home when a police patrol car was driving quite erratically in front of me. As I overtook  I looked at the driver hoping to get his attention, but hos attention was on another driver who was driving on the slow lane whislt talking on his mobile phone. Apparently that dirver had veered into the path of the police car which in turn veered into the overtaking lane which I was in. Needless to say the driver was pulled over as I pulled away.

While the video in my last posting depicted some very hairy situations we can get ourselves into, they were what we all tend to call, “close shaves”. Even the rear ender was probably not a fatal accident. But if you still think ” I am a safe driver and can handle this phone call” just watch this next video. I don’t think you would want to be in tis situation . . . . ever.

It was produced in Wales and is to date one of the goriest road safety video ever made for national television. But in a world of information overload, it’s probably the only way to get some messages across.