Ian Blyth – It's Just a Thought

My thoughts and opinions

Archive for April, 2008

Treat others right

Posted by Ian Blyth on 28 April 2008

I was having a discussion with a friend at the weekend and the topic of how to treat people came up. My comment was

“Treat people the same way as you would like to be treated yourself”.

This is not new or earth shattering but over the weekend the more I thought about it the more I realised that this was a key way to live and if everyone did it what a great place this would be. If this is the last post I do and these are my last words then I can not think of a better thing to leave.

If dictators and bullies knew that what they did would be done to them would they do what they do? I don’t think so. If thieves knew that all their stuff would be stolen would they steal? Only if they had nothing to lose but as soon as they stole stuff they would have something to lose. If people don’t like to be treated rudely or sworn at then the first thing is not to do it to anyone else.

So how do you like to be treated? And are you treating everyone else that way?

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Headphones

Posted by Ian Blyth on 17 April 2008

In my cupboard I have stacks of old headphones. My ears must be really sensitive as I am fussy about the type of headphones I use. The ones that are comfortable for me are the ones with headbands. I have tried the ear buds and the ones with “loops” over your ears and have found them uncomfortable.

I few years ago my colleagues mentioned Sennheiser and later at the airport I saw them in a shop. I bought the PXC 250 model. They have been brilliant. Light and comfortable to wear, noise compensation (great for planes) and they fold away to fit in a nice pouch. My brother in law has Bose and while they are definitely better I did not think that they were worth three times the price better.

I was away skiing at Easter and in the airport I was looking at headphones and saw that the bud style came with comfort guarantees and different sized moldings etc for fitting. The looked much better than the old style ones covered in foam. The PXC 250’s are great but when skiing look a bit out of place and hard to use when wearing headbands, hats or hoods. The buds are certainly less cumbersome to wear. Among the range was some Sennheiser models. As I was impressed by them I went for the CX 300 model. I was not disappointed. I could wear them all day which was a revelation. There were light, unobtrusive and very good sound quality.While I still love my PXC 250’s the CX  300s are now my preferred headphones for skiing and travelling small journeys like trains, I would still use the PXCs for plane journeys. It is wonderful how technology has moved on. And even better is the fact that they are black so it does not look like I have a stupid iPod.

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Album Artist

Posted by Ian Blyth on 14 April 2008

I have had a Creative Zen for a while. It was a 60 GB model which was huge in those days and it is only now that capacities have caught up. It is great to travel with all my music rather than having to decide which music to take with me as I used to do with CDs or before that cassettes. And a small capacity like 5 GB or 8 GB would mean that I would have to decide what goes on. However, on short journeys I have decided that I do not need to carry it and my phone could do the job – especially as I bought a 2 GB micro SD card for less than £10. As I always have my mobile why carry 2 devices on a short journey? It is disappointing that it can not do WMA but I can copy MP3 files (the lowest common denominator) straight across. It will transfer the WMA files to a smaller mobile format. It does take time (with my processor maxed out) but I am amazed at how much music I can get on 2 GB.

But the biggest disappointment with the phone (which I should not be too disappointed with as it is a business and not a media phone) and my Creative is that there is no view by album artist. There are views for artist, songs ( a very long list) or albums (which is not that great if you have a lot of albums all called Greatest Hits!). I have a number of compilation albums which has the album artist as Various or Various Artists. But each track then lists the artist so that the list of artist to search through gets very large very quickly.

I looked at my friends recently purchased iPod Nano but that did not have a view for album artists either which surprised me give how everyone raves about the iPod (except me). Although it does a little picture of the album beside the name so it helps with the list of albums all with the same name. It seems that the people that design these products only ever buy CDs from a single artist and have never bought a compilation CD – never mind bought a whole bunch of them.

Album artist is a valid tag for a music file and seems to be used by everyone. But MP3 players (not ones that I have seen anyway) do not seem to use it. What I would like is an MP3 player that lists Album Artists as well as Artists. And if the list of albums is going to be text only (no nice picture of the album which is OK on a small device) then I would like the artist’s name to be in brackets after the album name to get over the problem of have a list all called “Greatest Hits”. Surely I am not the only person to have come across this?

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Credit Crunch

Posted by Ian Blyth on 10 April 2008

“Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure 19 pounds 19 and six – result happiness, annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure 20 pounds and sixpence – result misery.”

Wilkins Micawber, David Copperfield (Charles Dickens)

 

Perhaps if more people (and financial institutes) followed this simple but sage advice we would not be facing a credit crunch.

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T5 Debacle

Posted by Ian Blyth on 3 April 2008

I am glad I have not been travelling BA at Heathrow’s new Terminal 5 – the flagship terminal for BA. It is no fun arriving somewhere on holiday or business without all your luggage.

I saw a program before it opened and how they had all these people wandering around with tasks sheets to check all was working. It looked impressive but obviously flawed.

As someone who has managed big projects the last thing you want to do is a big bang. Sometimes you just can’t help it but if at all possible it should be avoided. As all these flights were already at other terminals (I have not heard of new flights that were started) then it would have made more sense to phase those across over a number of months from a terminal at a time or by long haul/short haul etc. That would not have placed such a big strain on the system and early problems could have been fixed faster with less impact. The only reason I can think of why they did not do that was that there were financial penalties for still using the other terminals (although it is hard to see that those are more expensive than the compensation that they will have to pay) or that a high up figure wanted a big bang launch for the publicity and overrode the project managers. That is fine as long as the risks are fully worked out and mitigated against. In this case they obviously were not. Again I have seen that when someone in charge makes it their personal project and overrides people and does not listen or that the people underneath are afraid of being the “bearers of bad news”. The only thing that will happen in that case is hubris.

I am concerned that the government thinks it should interfere in a commercial organisation. The answer is clear. The airline has to pay lots of compensation and customers move to other airlines. That is how commercial matters work. Government is not needed. They have said about not letting BAA be a monopoly for all the London airports. I am not sure how that would help as you need to have a single company looking after an airport and whether or not it also looks after Gatwick etc seems to be immaterial. In fact if they do a good job it is a good thing as then the airports will have consistency. The government can hardly take the moral high ground on monopolies!

My problem with BAA is that they seem to run it for their benefit rather than the customers. If you have to fly from Heathrow you have no choice as there is not another Heathrow run by another company! I remember on a course where the tutor got us to do an exercise where we were aliens who knew English perfectly but did not “understand”. So guiding that alien into an airport and through the queues and check points was very enlightening. It became very obvious that this was not a customer friendly place. And the government have not helped by their stupid security measures. How is it that if a suitcase is above a certain size it is more likely to be a terrorist threat than one that is smaller? Very strange. But it is worth going through the “alien” exercise and trying it for yourself. If fact BAA executives should be made to do this exercise.

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