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Monthly Archives: January 2011

Initial Review: Gran Turismo 5 on PS3

Having had it for just over a week, I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts on my experiences of Gran Turismo 5, a game I have actually been looking forward to for quite a few years, about 12 in fact. Way back in 1999 I enjoyed playing GT2, I remember that I bought a second hand Toyota as my first car, and tricked it out pretty much as far as it would go. I don’t remember any other cars, but that one stays with me. The PlayStation I used went off to a new home in early 2000 and that was that. I bought an original X-Box (for the sole purpose of modifying it to run as a media player) and then got into Project Gotham Racing 2 (PGR2) which was fun, but lacked something on GT2. Anyway, since I acquired my PS3 a couple of years ago as a Blu-Ray and Media player, I’ve been waiting for the next installment of GT. A friend did lend me GT Prologue for a bit, and I felt that wasn’t quite the same. And now GT5 is here and I’ve had a chance to explore it some.

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Airline flexibility might make good business sense.

As a frequent flyer with BMI, I tend to book my flights as far in advance as possible to get the best deal. One consequence of getting the best deal is that my tickets are usually non-refundable and non-changeable, and I understand and accept that. However, I have just discovered that an additional restriction of these tickets is that if for some reason you no longer need the outbound leg of a ticket and don’t want to use it, you will not be able to use the return leg either. To clarify, I called BMI customer  services and they confirmed that if I did not fly on the outbound leg, I could not use my return ticket.

Of course, if you don’t need the return leg after booking, that’s fine – what exactly can they do after you get to your destination and cancel your return? This is, of course, nuts. The airline already have the money for the flight and would now have the opportunity to resell the unused seat and take in a bit more revenue. I struggle to see how allowing this would be anything but a win opportunity for the airline.

It makes even less sense when you consider that not allowing me to not use a flight I no longer needed has just cost the airline an additional £250 in revenue over and above whatever they could make reselling the seat. I wanted to change an outbound flight but couldn’t because of my ticket status. I was then planning to just buy a whole new outbound ticket, and use the existing return flight which I had already paid for. The new outbound flight would add approximately £100 to BMIs coffers. The reason for me wanting to change my flight was so that I could travel that outbound leg with my wife and young child who were considering a trip to see friends and family. The tickets for my family to travel would have been approximately another £150 for BMI, except that as I’m unwilling to pay for exactly the same flight twice, and because the timing just doesn’t work with the existing booking, the proposed family trip probably won’t happen.

The only explanation I can come up with is that the airline manages to make a reasonable amount of extra income by forcing people who really have no alternative to buy a completely set of new tickets. The argument that you can buy a flexible fare doesn’t really come in to this either, since the cost of that is far more than taking the hit of booking a whole new set of flights. For example, booking flexible flights in mid January for a flight at the end of April would cost £750, while the non-flexible flights are £175. So even if I have to spend £500 booking a whole new set of flights because I had to change a travel date, it would be cheaper than a flexible fare.

Given all the factors, this whole situation seems like a lost opportunity to provide flexibility to your customers while continuing to bring additional revenue into the business. At worst, the airline can’t actually lose anything since even the orignal ticket is booked and paid for regardless of whether it is used.

Re-opening Windows

After my dalliance with the Meerkat, I’ve now restored my Samsung NC10 netbook back to Windows 7 with a sparkly fresh clean install. It’s running really well and I’ve pleased with the decision even though it meant more work in the short term.

One thing that did strike me though was how well Ubuntu does do somethings. For example, the extra Fn keys, which control brightness, volume etc, all just worked with Ubuntu (with the exception of the Wireless one), and Windows required a driver install. Finding new software and installing it, like VLC Player, was a snap on Ubuntu using the software center, especially as a lot of software comes pre-installed (I’m looking at you Firefox). With Windows you have to go to each individual website, click download, then run an installer.

In short, Windows could learn a trick or two from Ubuntu in that getting a basic system up and running is actually easier now to do with Ubuntu. It might still have a few kinks and all the basics will be there.

For me though, as an experienced user who needs more than the basics, the hassle of having to find and download software is still preferable to the hassle of actually trying to get it all to work how you like once you do have it.

Dances with Meerkats

For some reason, I’m not really quite sure why, I’ve recently had the desire to have more of a play with Linux (in the form of Ubuntu) as a normal workstation type system. Rather than just jump ship wholesale on my home desktop system, I decided to use my netbook (a Samsung NC10) as a testbed as I had been thinking of sprucing it up with a reinstall anyway. It has been running Windows 7 Home Premium, and running it well, with the system still feeling very responsive with Aero enabled and multiple apps started.


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