Still down this morning
Been working on 4G since yesterday afternoon.
72 posts • joined 13 Jun 2007
Actually this is a very good question and one that the airline industry is discussing seriously today. There are several key functions bundled up into the process we call "check-in" today. One of them is the issuance of a boarding pass. This is usually the document (paper or electronic) that indicates an entitlement to pass into the secured area of the airport. That requirement isn't going to change in the near future. Then there is seat assignment. In the modern world many seats are allocated well in advance (often at a charge) and there is no firm requirement for this to happen at the same time as BP issuance. However it is still part of the airport process because there may be need to make adjustments at the last minute eg because of aircraft changes, seats going unserviceable and delays to inbound connections. Then there is baggage acceptance and bag tag issuance. There is no logical need for this to happen at the same time and place as the other bits but on the whole people don't like to wait in multiple queues so historically they have been done together. And then there is the requirement to send information to third parties, primarily governments but also airlines providing connecting flights and sometimes downline airports.
Historically it made sense to do all these things together in a single process called "check-in". With the technology, security and other changes that have occurred over the last few years it may no longer do so. IATA is currently engaged in defining a new standard for managing the airline booking and delivery process. This is called ONE Order (careful with the capitalisation) and the aim is to change airline procedures which involve separate records for bookings (Passenger Name Records, PNRs) and payment (Tickets) and moving towards a retail-style arrangement of a single order that covers both types of information. As part of this effort the whole process of delivering flight services at the airport and beyond is being reviewed.
As always with multilateral initiatives involving hundreds of players in multiple jurisdictions and different business priorities the process is slow but there should be a beta release of the ONE Order standard at the end of this year. After that it will be up to individual airlines and groups of airlines to implement the changes so don't hold your breath but over the next few years we should see significant changes in airport processes and the end to the traditional check-in.
Of course airlines that sit outside the IATA-defined processes like Ryanair have the ability to make some of the changes more quickly, basically because they don't have to coordinate with all of their partner companies. They will probably be faster to streamline airport processes.
Probably because the delays to check-in led to late departures and flights lost their slots in the air traffic system. The airline operations departments and potentially the crews on the flight deck will be trying to negotiate new slots in what is already a highly loaded system. The problem now being that a new slot could be offered at short notice and the only way to be in a position to accept it is to have the passengers on board and the doors shut.
As usual the media (including El Reg) tells us almost nothing about the nature of the outage. Based on the diverse spread of airlines impacted I would surmise that it is the common-user front end system that has had problems rather than the departure control systems of the airlines involved. The common user system at Manchester is (from memory) MUSE from ARINC (Now part of Rockwell-Collins). I imagine there are people awake in Annapolis already this morning.
Try again. The message got through eventually. It can be a pain, especially when you use the self-service tills, standing around like a lemon until the assistant comes to swipe his/her card to let you pay for your stuff. But they do come and in the last year at least they have just done it, without asking any stupid questions. I am talking Heathrow and Gatwick here. YMMV at other airports.
Yes. That's why I have never allowed them to do it. You just have to be firm. eg
"Do you have a boarding pass?"
"Can I scan it?"
This sometimes takes them aback slightly but they comply. WH Smith has no basis whatsoever for demanding to see your boarding pass and if you call them out in in they do back off.
When exactly was this alleged incident? The only overrun accident to a civilian airliner that I can find in the records was in 1988 when a CAAC Trident left the runway laterally in bad weather and killed 7 out of 89 on board. Other than that, the US military dumped a Hercules into the harbour some time in the 1960s with over 50 fatalities. And that's about it for Kai Tak. Maybe you were at some other Asian downtown airport?
For the record Kai Tak was always a blast to land at. And the double decker bus into town just added to the charm. The new airport (where I am headed in 2 hours time) is perfectly fine and rather efficient but I will never get excited about flying in there.
They are getting meal choices because they are getting the whole PNR. Supplying a feed of PNRs is a lot easier than creating a report from them in which you could pick and choose the fields to supply. Meal choice is not a mandatory field. If you don't make a specific request you get the rubber chicken like everyone else. Or nothing at all on an increasing number of flights. No-one in Greece will have to do anything to comply because the Greek airlines' booking systems are run outside Greece (primarily in Germany as it happens).
Anyone for some facts?
It was not the "entire computer system" that was out. It was the Weight and Balance application that in US carriers is typically part of the Operations/Dispatch suite. This is different to airlines in other parts of the world that typically do W&B in the Departure Control System (DCS) that also handles seat allocation, passenger check-in, baggage acceptance, boarding control etc etc.
Weight and Balance is a critical application that produces the load sheet. Valid load sheets are a legal (as well as common sense) requirement and without one a flight may not operate. It is possible to calculate load sheets manually but this has not been done as a routine process for many years and probably the skills required to do it are in very short supply. Hence the FAA ground stop.
United's major IT systems are outsourced to H-P Enterprise Services. This is a legacy from when EDS (acquired by H-P) ran IT for Continental Airlines (which acquired United along with its name five years ago). I suspect that there may be some tense meetings between United and H-P execs in the days to come.
Not grammar pedantry, just the smart-arse know-all kind. Curt Schilling, hero of the American League Championship Series in 2004 is/was a pitcher. In the American League, as distinct from the National League, pitchers don't bat. So he would have very rarely carried a bat for a living.
Ah, no it doesn't.
There are still a gazillion messages an hour flowing around the airline industry whose format was originally designed to be carried on store and forward teletype networks (not telex - that's a circuit switched network) but they are more or less universally carried on IP networks nowadays. Just like everything else.
Serious point here amongst the smart arse ones. If you are going to report on stories like this involving very big numbers do you think you could use exponential notation? We've probably all got our minds around the idea that a billion is more usually 10^9 rather than 10^12, but trillions and quadrillions? Much better to avoid ambiguity I would have thought.
Hartnell as Number 2 but Eccleston wins. Hands down. No contest.
I saw all the early series but lost contact during and after University in the late 70s when telly in general played a very small part in my life.
I watched the first episode of the reboot with curiosity but not expecting all that much. He snagged me at
"Lots of planets have a North".
And in the classical star manner he left us wanting more. Lots more.
Experience of DAB depends almost entirely on location. I live in the IT workers' paradise of the Thames Valley - on the A4 between Slough and Maidenhead to be precise - and there is just one windowsill in my house where a strategically placed DAB set can (usually) get some sort of signal. I have a semi-built-in system in my kitchen that uses an external aerial to receive DAB reasonably effectively. Apart from that, forget it.
That's point one.
Point 2 is that even if you had decent signal coverage DAB receivers are heavy, bulky and power hungry. If you are away from mains power for more than a couple of hours then your DAB receiver rapidly morphs into a brick. And if you are on mains power, chances are you are online too so can use Internet radio. Failing that, the radio signals from Sky or Freeview telly.
So, where DAB works quite well there are alternatives that work just as well, and where FM is the best solution DAB hardly works at all.
In this case El Reg is perfectly correct to lead the resistance to a compulsory switch. If it gets a bit tedious for your taste, well you don't have to read the articles.
Obviously you haven't seen a corrida either. The matador is the first into the ring to face the bull when it is undamaged and in peak condition. It is high risk. Matadors do get hurt - badly hurt.
And the bull is not "tortured" for half an hour to an hour. The whole process from start to finish takes about 15 minutes.
Neither of these things will change your mind I know, but at least get your facts right.
You could also put "sport" in quotes because nobody in Spain - pro or anti - considers it a sport. It is not reported in the sports sections of the newspapers nor does it appear on sports TV programs. It is a thing separate in itself. It is a cultural activity, an art form, a test of courage and resolve, a showcase for the skills of breedrs and much else besides. But it is not a sport.
To coin a phrase, this is utter bullshit. The torero enters the ring with over half a ton of highly muscled bull in peak condition and only a cape to protect himself (very occasionally herself).
It is true that at a later stage the bull is weakened by the picador's spear before the matador dispatches him with the sword but he remains extremely dangerous. Toreros do get badly injured although it is over 20 years since the last one died in the ring in Spain.
There is no concept of "winning" or "losing" in the corrida. The bull will always be despatched even if the leading torero is rendered incapable of doing so, except in fantastically rare circumstances it may be spared by the President (of the corrida, not the country) to go to stud.
There are serious arguments to be made about whether the bullfighting culture has any place in the 21st century and there is no doubt that the tide is running against it, but let's argue on the basis of actual facts.
I "discovered" Tom Clancy about 15 years ago. I started with Red October, which was terrific and read through chronologically as far as Executive Orders. At which point I gave up, as a once-brilliant writer of stories founded in cold-war realities morphed into a one-dimensional right-wing polemicist with an increasingly shaky grasp of reality. Stuck for something to read on a long flight I later bought Red Rabbit and was astonished at how far his work had fallen. The trademark detail and accuracy of Red October was replaced by wild-eyed, mouth frothing neo fascist ranting.
Obviously most of the recent output that bore his name was concocted by a team of anonymous hacks at the publishing company. Good business for them I suppose.
I will try to remember him for the first three or four books. They were good.
Well, I must live within about five miles of you and DAB is only reliably available with a roof mounted aerial . There is one windowsill where I can sometimes get DAB depending on the weather and no doubt the phase of the moon.
I get very cross when the Beeb uses my licence money to advertise this useless system.
With you on most of this, but I wouldn't get too hung up on the calorie versus joule thing. They both measure the same quantity and there is a constant relation between them. I calorie = 4.184 joules. Incidentally the unit that is commonly referred to as the "calorie" is actually a kilocalorie - or 1000 times the energy required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water from 14.5 to 15.5 degrees Celsius.
HH was one of the greats. Read the first few chapters of The Stainless Steel Rat and tell me that we are not heading rapidly towards the society described - though without the space travel of course.
I have also long appreciated his description of how robbing banks is actually a deeply philanthropic activity.
I was a Physics undergraduate at a decent university in the 1970s. I have no personal recollection at all of any "New Ice-Age" stories. I have no doubt that they existed because I have seen the evidence, but they certainly did not dominate the debate about human effects on climate and environment. The Club of Rome published "Limits to Growth" in 1972 and that was probably the most influential text of the period. It certainly didn't produce any kind of cooling.
Tried Chrome on the Mac a year or so ago and wasn't impressed. About a month ago I got so annoyed with Firefox grinding my computer to a halt that I gave Chrome another go. It's improved in the interim as FF has gone backwards. I imagine I'll stay with Chrome until it starts to annoy me and the whole cycle starts again.
Just agreeing with posters above. Would make a brilliant movie. Not perhaps the greatest novel of ideas ever, but a brilliant basis for a film.
Also agree that much as I would pay money to watch a film of any of the Culture novels I find it hard to imagine any director being able to do them justice.
This agreement covers normal office automation functions. If a Virgin employee includes any of those data in an email then they will be held in the cloud. But Virgin's customer service systems (reservations, web booking, check-in etc) are completely separate. As it happens they use the aiRes system from Indian software house ibs, hosted in a specialist airline industry data centre.
No, I am sure nobody in the entire history of the airline industry ever thought that high availability systems might be a good idea. It's a good job there are people like you around to point us in the right direction.
In fact if the facts are accurately reported and both internet and airport check-in were down then it is likely to be a failure in the back-end passenger services system of one specific airline. In general these are airline-specific rather than utilities provided by airports (although there are exceptions). These back end systems have typically four nines availability or better although there are variations between the mainframe systems used by traditional airlines and the .NET based Newskies used by Ryanair and others. Life gets more complicated when check-in is being managed by a ground handler rather than the airline itself although that isn't likely to be the case here as a ground handler's system failing would not have affected web check-in.
It is also extremely unlikely that anyone at the airport would have been in a position to "reboot" the system even if they had wanted to as check-in systems usually live in vendors' data centres that are often not even in the same country.
This "survey" shows nothing useful at all. If you confront people with a multiple choice list and they either don't know or don't care about the answer, they will select one of the choices maybe at random. So if you neither know nor care who Tim B-L is then you just pick one of the alternatives - which may well be "Head of MI5". If you allowed a "don't know" alternative AND people took the survey seriously, I doubt if you would get so many silly headlines. But then the PR company wouldn't achieve its objectives and the thing wouldn't be done.
@AC 1747. That was meant to be ironic, right? Sorry to ask but there are nut jobs out there who really believe that stuff. Wouldn't expect to find them in these parts though.
@Bazza. With you most of the way but if you think that we don't get charged for receiving calls you should see my Vodafone bill when I get back from a trip across the Channel. And Paris is a lot closer to London than Seattle is to Miami. The US phone system developed its charging systems differently to ours and has had free local calls for decades. Since they use local area codes for cell phones too that pushed them in the direction of charging for inbound calls. Not better or worse than what we have. Just different.
"It seems you are the one who does not know much about the tax system: VAT does not stand for "Value" Added Tax - how does that make any sense?"
And here's me sitting down and filling in my Value Added Tax Return that HM Customs and Excise have kindly sent me. Do you suppose I should write to them and tell them they have it wrong?
Not got such a good grasp of the tax system have we? All the VAT further up the supply chain is reclaimable such that the net tax take is that paid by the final consumer. Each business pays tax only on the value it has added. That's why it's called Value Added Tax. Geddit?
The reason it has more impact is that in general VAT rates are higher in Europe than are sales tax rates in the US. Oh, and the fact that prices in the US are invariably quoted net of tax while in Europe they are usually quoted VAT inclusive, especially for products and services offered to the consumer rather than B2B.
"To be fair to Windows, these issues haven't been a problem since the bad old days of Windows 9x/Me."
Well, my last Windows machine was XP and it still had both issues. Not as badly as 98/ME to be sure but I definitely couldn't leave it running for more than 48 hours or so without having to reboot or it would slowly grind to a halt.
I sometimes think that El Reg would vanish in a puff off smoke if it were not for these periodic Mac vs Windows spats, with the penguins cheering on from the sides.
I use a Mac. My wife, my son, my daughter and my business partner all use Macs. I am very happy to be using a Mac. I am happy that I don't need to worry overmuch about malware (not completely complacent but the odds are in my favour). I am happy that a crashing app doesn't bring the O/S tumbling down with it. I am happy that my machine doesn't need to be rebooted on a regular basis to recover its resources. I am happy that I can afford to think of these things rather than looking for the absolute cheapest computing I could find.
If I were a hardcore gamer I would probably have stayed with Windows, but I'm not. In the event that I ever need to run an app that is Windows-only I have Parallels although I have never actually installed it because I have not yet hit that need.
But I don't feel the need to slag off those who stick with Microsoft. They can definitely buy cheaper hardware. They can play more games and there is no doubt a greater quantity of applications available for the platform. And so long as Windows remains the dominant O/S in the market the bad guys will probably continue their concentration on low-hanging fruit rather than trying to raise their game and come after me.
On the whole, life is good.
Every time El Reg runs a Ryanair story we get comment threads like this.
The whole airline industry has more capacity than the economy can sensibly support at economic prices. The reasons for this are many and complex but it's a fact.
As a result airlines are unable to charge fares that enable them to make a return on capital invested while operating a "normal" service. The rational response to this would be for airlines to merge or go out of business but in practice that hardly ever happens and the industry continues with over-capacity.
So in one way or another airlines try to make so-called "ancillary revenue" to try to bridge the black hole in their finances. Ryanair is the best in the world at the ancillary revenue caper. Something like 25% of its revenues are ancillaries (That's from memory. If I were wider awake I woudl look it up.) Other airlines look at Ryanair as a leader in this respect but they don't have the sheer brass neck to take things quite as far.
In the end Ryanair is just doing more of what almost all airlines are doing less successfully. It is the most profitable airline in the world so it's hard to argue from a shareholder point of view that what it does is wrong. From the consumer point of view there is always the option of not flying with them.
In my personal experience Ryanair's on-time performance is better than Easyjet but where possible I avoid flying either of them. It's usually possible to fly with a more "traditional" airline for a little more money. Then it's a simple economic decision. Is the extra discomfort and annoyance with the ten or twenty quid I could save? For me the answer is usually no, but I fully understand why others may come to a different conclusion.
If you have tried it and don't get on with it then fair enough. I am perplexed by how that would have happened but you and I are different people and so I must accept that it has.
Yes, there are some apps that are only available for Windows. Games in particular. However my experience in the corporate world is that 99% of users need no more than an office suite and a browser plus access to the corporate back-end apps - to do serious work. If you are in the 1% then you may have to grit your teeth and run Windows. Good luck to you,
Naturally this debate will go on as long as there are computers and people who want to argue about them. But here are a few observations from a happy Mac user.
1. Macs are not perfect, especially the hardware. My last Macbook Pro was definitely a Friday afternoon model. I had endless problems with its sleep function and eventually the screen just died on me.
2. BUT when I took it in to an Apple Store they took it off my hands and fixed it for free, even though it was out of warranty.
3 BUT I was buying a new Macbook Pro at the time so they probably had an incentive to be nice to me.
4. OSX is so far superior to anything from Microsoft that the debate is hardly worth having any more. Any Windows die-hards out there who disagree, please just use it for a month. Interesting thing is that most Mac users have long-term experience of using Windows every day. Not sure the same is true in reverse.
5. I agree that using a Mac is far more likely to be a personal choice than using Windows and so people have more invested in the choice.
6. I know that Mac's market share is small - around 7% I believe. I suspect (but cannot prove) that if corporate IT departments allowed users a free choice the Mac's share would increase enormously. There is no reason that this could not happen. The extra cost of supporting two platforms would be offset by the reduced costs of security management and user bafflement. Possibly by more than 100%, but that's just a guess. Since my small company decided to go Mac two years ago we have had only one compatibility issue with our Windows-centric clients. And we spend a lot of time in their offices working on their networks.
7. The one issue is with the way Powerpoint handles images - oh and that's Microsoft software that's incompatible between the two platform versions.
8. And the price premium - for similarly specced machines - really is quite modest, in the laptop space at least. Maybe you can get a Windows desktop machine for nuxpence - I did once (from a major Japanese manufaturer). It exploded - quite literally. Now that was extreme but you get my point?
9. And finally, if in doubt cite your mother. My mum had a Windows machine that she could only ever use to play a bridge game. Anything else, including email, was simply too baffling. A year ago I got her an iMac and now you can't get away from the emailed photographs from her digital camera - and she books her rail tickets online.
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