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I am the "IBM Collaboration & Productivity Advisor" for IBM Asia Pacific. I'm based in Singapore.
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Exceptional Customer Experience - of the bad kind (yes VirginAtlantic I talk about you)

An action filled week at Connection 2013 drew to a conclusion and I'm ready to go home (with a little stopover in MUC). Presuming my trip is well taken care of by American Express Travel and the majority Singapore Airlines owned Virgin Atlantic I arrive at Orlando Airport to check in. At the display I see that the flight is delayed which would give me an incredible short 20 min to change planes in Manchester.
Given the fact, that there's the silly system in place that requires me to take a shuttle from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1 and back, that seems impossible. So I innocently ask what to do. The check-in attendant doesn't know and calls in the supervisor. He looks at the ticket and tells me: your flight is with Virgin to Manchester and everything else is not his business. He stresses, pointing at the ticket: This is a legal document and for us your destination is Manchester. If anything I need to check with Amex. So I call Amex, go through phone hell and get a ticket on LH from Manchester to Munich. Having that sorted, I ask to get my baggage checked through. I get the same @#$%* answer: For Virgin my journey ends in Manchester and I have to go through immigration, get my luggage and check in again.
So I ask: If my ticket would be a SIA ticket (the flight is code share), would he then need to take care of me? The answer yes: this is completely different and it would be Virgin's problem to get me sorted. The fact that (still) SIA owns a majority stake in Virgin doesn't matter for my situation.
Amex, who calls their phone operators "Travel counsellors" failed to highlight the potential that any delay with 2 different tickets would become my problem. To add insult to injury: I had an all SIA ticket first, but Amex claimed they couldn't update a flight part (which the SIA help line claimed they actually could), so they cancelled that and split it in two.
With hundreds of travel days for IBM I never has such a exceptionally BAD service.
Update: Arriving in MAN, the ground staff was waiting for me and I would have made the connection, but when they saw that the luggage wasn't checked through to Munich, they couldn't rush me to the plane, but had to ask me to pass through immigration to fetch my luggage and pass through immigration again to check it in. Needless to say that made it impossible to get to the (only) SIA flight that day. So I got on the LH flight. In Munich I called SIA to clarify that I would continue on the second leg of the trip, which turned out to come with a higher ticket price (since the trip was shorter now) and a service fee. This will make an interesting debriefing


Yong Green Food Melbourne

My favorite nice lives in Melbourne. Having a local guide makes discovery of awsome food places easy. We had dinner at Yong Green Food in Fizroy. The lovingly prepared vegetarian food was a joy to look at, to smell and to eat. Highly recommended! The pictures below were taken in low light with an Huawei Ideos phone (no match to the high end phones)

Young Organic Food

Young Organic Food

Young Organic Food

Young Organic Food


My criteria to select a hotel

Traveling a lot not only does mean spending a lot of time in other people's beds, but to get quite frequently bombarded with surveys about impressions and selections. In the nice place I stay this week the reward for going though one of those was quite some bonus points, so I invested the time. What strange questions I got: Would the pillow selection be more important than the front-desk, or is the in-room-dining menu better than other hotels. Interestingly none of the question met any of my criteria. So for the record, here we go:
  1. Travelling mostly for business the hotel needs to be on the approved list of my current employer, which sets category and price range. For private travel I prefer a tent
  2. Location, location, location: easy to reach, close to customers and the heart of the city (I don't like airport hotels)
  3. A good gym with long opening hours. Working for an IT company makes you want to do things at odd hours. My current favourite is the Intercontinental in Bangkok: Open 24h on top of the 36 floor tower with a nice view over the city
  4. Provide me with free breakfast based on room rate or guest status
  5. In room free and working broadband (working means: fast). Wifi is a bonus, since I have travel routers
  6. Regular supply of fresh fruits. My current favourite clearly is the Shangri-La
  7. Nice bath room with a tub, daylight is a clear advantage
  8. Access to a lounge
There are a few criteria which I consider basic facts: cleanliness, safety or competence of staff. There are a lot I care little (probably since they work in most places): Front desk, business centre, restaurants, bar, in-room-dining, pillow selection etc.


Singapore Airlines needs a little QA on their website

I love my national airline. The planes are modern, the staff friendly and competent, the flights are on schedule. I can't say that about online experiences. The recent revamp of their website deemed me as odd and it took a while before I could pinpoint what irked me:
3 different font styles
While de gustibus non est disputandum mixing 3 font styles just in the header of a page makes it look odd. Also having entry fields styled in a italic serif font violates every single web experience and makes reading the content, especially on small devices, unnecessary hard. But well... I always could overwrite the style sheet. But that wasn't the only problem. I tried to update my profile. My street address contains a # sign. This is quite prevalent in Singapore since addresses are written as Block/Building #Floor-Unit number. This was what I had in my profile. But when I updated a different item I get the error that # isn't allowed in the address --- So extisting data suddenly became invalid. Next issue I encountered was the so useful error message:
Error messages should be clear
"The written language is not valid". Which of the two? And it was a selection from a dropdown, why does the form offer invalid entries? What shall I do?
So I dutifully filled in a feedback form to get insult added to injury in the auto-reply:
"This is an automated acknowledgment to inform that we are experiencing high feedback volumes related to the launch of our new website. We apologise that we are not able to respond to queries or feedback related to our new website at this stage.
For internet check-in issues, we request that you try again later. Online check-in is available up to 2 hours before your flight's departure. Alternatively, you may also check in using your mobile device or proceed directly to check in at the airport. Please click the following link to access SIA Mobile:
There seems to be some quality gap between IT and flight operations.


Nokia BH905i, Apple gear and final verdict

I conducted the next series of test with the Nokia BH-905i with rather surprising results. First I paired the headset with SWMBO's iMac running Mac OS/X 10.6.4. The Mac recognized both profiles and out-of-the-box played iTunes in admirable quality. When it came to making a Skype call the headset failed. I could switch to the Bluetooth phone profile, so the sound settings would see the microphone, but not a sound. So iMac and microphone don't play together at all.
Next step (after deleting the pairing, not to run foul of competing Bluetooth connections): testing with the iPhone 3GS (with the latest iOS version). Pairing went smoothly and the headset was available as output option in iTunes. The play/pause button works, however: not a sound. Seems that the issue that had been sorted out for the BH905 and iPhone still plagues the 905i. So use with Apple gear stays problematic. As mentioned before the "outgoing" noise cancellation was non-existent, so I ran a comparison with a Jawbone. The Jawbone reduces a blasting radio or a rumbling train to a barly audible background whisper for the person you call, while the Nokia lets your counterpart hear every detail what it filters out for you. On the other hand: the jawbone loosely sitting on our cheek does nothing to dampen your ambient noise.

The verdict: The Nokia BH-905i is an excellent headset when you want to treat ambient noise for crystal clear music indulgence. If you are a frequent traveller it is a must-have. The use with a PC or Mac via Buetooth is problematic unless you only want to listen to music, for VoIP use you better get an AD-77 adapter. This is not the fault of the headset, but the way Bluetooth is implemented on Linux or Mac (sorry no Windows here). Listening to teleconferences (a popular sport in IBM) is a pleasure, regardless of where you are. On the other hand talking on the phone (or VoIP) using the BH-905i is severely limited by the lack of outgoing noise cancellation. While you can enjoy a conversation crystal clear without audible distractions you still transmit all that noise. Now if the BH-905i could be upgraded with the Jawbone noise cancellation technology you would have the perfect communication headset. Lacking that the BH-905i qualifies as "universally connecting outstanding music headset". Here it has to compete with Bose, Sennheiser, Sony and others, which it definitely beats on connectivity and recharge options. It also allow to use it for a call when ambient conditions allow (what the others don't). I wonder if a Pilot headset would fit the bill (it blows any budget anyway)? Anyway, there's room for a BH-906


BH-905i - the good, the bad and the ugly

Round two of testing: I paired the Nokia BH-905i with my Blackberry Bold 9700. Then I hopped onto the MRT to visit a close by mall, especially the game arcade with very loud and noisy games going on.
  • The good: I didn't had to pick any profiles and stuff, it just worked. The accept call button on the right side of the Nokia headset works as advertised, as does the play and volume buttons. Calls are clear and music from the Blackberry player is processed in high quality. The noise in the train was pleasantly quiet only sounds in the human spectrum, like the PA announcements and unfortunately the squeaking of the breaks, were clearly audible. Switching active noise canceling on/off makes a huge audible difference. Especially inside the arcade it was almost quiet, a pleasant walk through a place that usually gives me a headache in less than 30 seconds
  • The bad: Noise cancellation seems to be for the headset user only, not for the person you talk to on the call. Either I haven't worked that out or we have a case of massive #fail. I did a few conference calls today with the kids playing FPS in the back. I didn't hear a thing, but my partners on the other end complained about the background noise. SWMBO called me in the arcade. I heard her crystal clear and she couldn't understand a word of me. In disbelieve we switched phones. She went into the arcade to enjoy the active noise cancellation. When I called her I could hear the full spectrum of the surrounding sound inferno - and barely her voice. I hope that is either a setting mistake (I studied the manual but didn't find anything) or something that can be fixed with a firmware update. I'm actually surprised about this failure. I'll run a test against the Jawbone to see if that one is better in preventing sending noise.
  • The ugly: You can hear yourself walking. With headset on and noise cancellation on every step becomes a pat-pat-pat. Quite irritating. Anyway walking with a headset that mostly covers your ears in my climate here isn't something I plan to do. The other interesting finding: you can actually hear the noise cancellation. Anthony (junior #1) pointed it out: there is a very faint, very deep hum. Seems the sound and anti-sound are a tiny tipsy bit phase-shifted creating a very long and low wave.
That's for now. More testing with iPhone, iPod and iMac coming up, as well as the calling death match with the Jarbone.
Stay tuned

P.S.: The adapter cable I missed yesterday is called AD-77 adapter and just not part of the package (I don't know if that is the package in general or just my demo set)


BH-905i arrived today - first impressions

WOMWorld sent me a Nokia BH-905i headset for testing and review after I bitched about my difficulties to get a unit in Singapore. THe unit arrived today in an unspectacular DHS courier envelope. Inside I found the padded leather (not genuine one) of the size of 1.5 DVD boxes (in case you remember what a DVD is).The headset is cleverly draped around the pouch that contains an assortment of cables, adapters and the charger. My unit came from the UK, so it has the bulky UK style charger which we also use in Singapore. With quite an unique mechanism for the ground pin it was pleasantly small packed. There is a 3.5mm extension cable, a 2.5mm to 3.5mm male/male extension cable - the 2.5mm end plugs into the BH-905i. the 4 adapters are: 3.5mm to 2.5mm 4 pin (= Stereo + Mic), Airline adapter, 3.5mm to 6.3mm 3 pin Headset only and 3.5mm to 3pin 3.5mm. What's missing is a splitter, so one could use a cable connection to a PC which has separate plugs for headsets and microphones. But there is Bluetooth. So I put the headset into pair mode and clicked on the Bluetooth icon on my Ubuntu 10.10 workstation. Pairing was fast and easy. I fired up Banshee to listen to some tunes. It sounded horrible. A quick check revealed, that in the sound preferences the BH-905i provides 2 profiles: "HSP/ HFP Telephony duplex" and "A2DP High Fidelity Playback". HSP/HFP was preselected. Once switched to A2DP the sound became crystal clear, much better than the (cable bound) entry level Philips and Sennheiser headsets I used before. A2DP doesn't provide the microphone profile, so I need to check how things work out when testing Skype, Google Voice or Sametime Voice. I'm curious if that's a limitation of the Ubuntu sound menu or the BH905i Bluetooth capabilities.
A first test of the noise cancelling showed interesting results. The ambient noise (cars from the street, TV from the other room etc.) disappeared 100%. I then had my sons sitting left and right of me playing some obscure FPS game with a lot of gun sounds, dramatic music and Anthony and Ernest screaming updates to each other. Anything not like a human voice was cancelled out and the screaming part reduced to normal conversation strength. So human voice won't get suppressed. I haven't tested it the behaviour changes once I use the microphone for recording (like VoiP for voice memos). So far very promising. The headset is light enough to be worn for a longer period of time. It doesn't cover the ears fully which makes it bearable at 30C room temperature (I don't have Aircon in my study). So far my first impressions. My test plans:
  • Pair with Blackberry 9700 Bold II
  • Cable connection to Grandstream GXV3140
  • Cable connection to 2nd generation iPod mini
  • Bluetooth to SWMBO iPhone 3 on i/OS 4.1
  • Bluetooth to SWMBO iMac
  • Test with VoiP
  • Test with Voice Recorder
  • Music playback
  • Use in office
  • Use in train
  • Use in taxi
  • Use at the beach promenade
  • If time permits: use in plane
Stay tuned


I love Hotel WIFI

With this download speed who would like to use a cloud based application?
Blinding fast Hotel Network


Advanced Airline Seat Selections

Seat selection for special travelers
For mere mortals: ask a
SeatGuru before picking your seat.


The power adaptors in my "RoadWarrior Toolbox"

I kissed a lot of frogs before I found the optimal travel power adaptor. Finally the Mitch & Mark travel adaptor available from the Krisshop made it. These are my criteria:
  • Must support all countries (a no brainer)
  • Must have an indicator light (places I go often have dead sockets)
  • Must have a USB outlet for charging devices or powering one or the other gadget.
  • Must not have any fragile pieces sticking out, so it can survive my chronical equipment mistreatment
The Mitch & Mark fulfils all these criteria, all plugs retract for transport mode (I also carry a slim minimalistic adaptor since often I need more than one or the sockets are very cramped.).
Power adaptor
Since all of these stuff is made in China, you can track down the original manufacturer.


Travel security?

I spend more than 180 days on travel in 2009 and went trough security in many countries with different levels of security. All in all it is a big theatre show. More than once I had to show the USB sticks I carry (I like the one with metal casings), but never show them working. Never my laptop batteries were checked. Passport and boarding pass were regularly matched against each other (makes sense to me) and I was patted down often. Hotels use sniffers to check luggage for restricted substances but let down their guard once they know your face. All in all I don't feel more secure. The full body scanners discussed now disgust me. I don't care who is looking at my image, but I do mind, that the proposed systems use active X-Rays. Within no time I would have a radiation dose firmly above my comfort level. I think the solution to all our security needs is to ban pink crocodile leather handbags.
Happy 2010 then


On the hunt for the perfect travel backback

I travel a lot. When I travel there is mostly a flight and one or more overnight stays involved. So far I was using a Tumi backpack, which served me well. After 10 years of service it is showing its age and I'm looking to retire it. Turns out the hunt for a replacement is far more difficult than I expected. I'm looking for the ultimate backpack for the frequent traveller. I thought my criteria are not uncommon:
  • Robust and torture resistant: I carry heavy loads and long distances (mostly running to gates to catch that flight) and don't need a strap coming off. It also shouldn't look -after a month of use- worn out like 19th century gold digger equipment.
  • Fit under an airline seat (which is kind of a contradiction to the amount of stuff I need to carry
  • Carry the corporate Lenovo T61 (no Macbook anytime soon) and its little brother
  • Well organized space for: 2 power supplies, 2 international adapters, various cables, business cards, phone, passport, wallet for second currency, tickets, external disks, iPod etc.
  • Carry a folder with reference materials (and the bill collection) and a book
  • Have space for shirt, underwear and toothbrush (many trips are overnight)
  • Umbrella -- best outside so it doesn't soak the stuff inside after use
  • Ability to be locked
  • Needs to offer service/warranty in Singapore (I can buy it anywhere)
  • I like black, but that's optional
  • Needs to be sold in a place I can have a look (means: any airport/city in AP). Singapore would be an advantage
Meet the contestants, the first two come from the luggage industry, the later a backback experts:
  • The incumbent brand sends its model Alpha T-pass Business Class Briefpack:
    Tumin Alpha
    Having a track record and an excellent customer service is clearly and advantage. Tumi is in the upper price quadrant.
  • Samsonite offers the Pro-DXL2 Laptop backpack
    Samsonite Pro-DXL2
    The Samsonite offers a dedicated garment compartment that even features a hanger for a jacket.
  • Booq sends in 2 models which I quite liked and examined yesterday: the BOA3M and the Phython XM:

    Problem with both of them: Since Booq has no luggage heritage they don't feature zips that can be locked. A big disadvantage for international travel.
  • Timbuk2 Patrol
    Timbuk2 Patrol
    The website states it is sold in Singapore, but I haven't found a shop yet.
  • Others (seen online, but haven't touched them yet): Spire Meta, Megalopolis Aero, Brain Bag and Wenger's Swiss Gear
On the hunt I came across a number of interesting looking messenger bags too. Should I challenge my assumption that a backpack is best for my needs? What's your take? Backpack yes/no and what model to pick?
Update (14 July 2009): A new contestant entered the race which looks like a good compromize:

Travelpro executive first backpack
. It features 9 externally accessibe compartments, 2 of them lockable, plenty of storage space and TravelPro's sturdy ballistic nylon. I already have one of their products and was quite happy, so I'll go with that for now.


When customer service sucks - Star Alliance

I travel a lot. I use a world class airline, but are still member of Miles and More (The Lufthansa program). No problem one would think, since they are both members of Star Alliance. The main reason I haven't switched is that I would loose my status and since IBMers fly coach couldn't seek refuge in the lounge. So far so good. Miles/Point crediting works reasonable well and booking a reward flight works if you can plan 6-9 month ahead. However when it comes to requesting an upgrade on a Star Alliance member airline (for me: pay with Mile-and-More for a Singapore Airlines flight) the process breaks down. On the Lufthansa website there is a description how it works and a dead link that redirects without explanation to a completely different page. On the Star Alliance web site there is nothing, nor on the SIA website. A complaint via the online form only triggered the automated reply "We are looking into it". Seems the airlines happily issue miles and points, but loath to make redemption easy. *Sigh* night flight in embryo position coming up.


Office in the Air

I'm on my way back from Delhi to Singapore. SQ409 operates a shiny new Boeing 777-300ER. When boarding I was walking though business class and now perched in coach envy the spacious layout of the new business class. But that's not your daddy's coach anymore. In every seat there is an 11" wide-screen TV with a video in, usb and network port. The control unit finally sits below the screen instead of in the arm rest where you tend to activate different buttons when you wiggle back and forth the 5cm space you have to move. The armrest features a AC power socket, so continuos work is ensured. Even if you didn't bring your laptop but just your USB drive with your files, you can continue to be a proper workaholic. The entertainment feature comes with Sun Microsystem's star office equipped. The control unit features a tiny keyboard, that is quite usable (almost like a Blackberry or Nokia keyboard quality and a little larger). A friend of mine worked for the manufacturer of the system and he shared, that it is actually a Linux streaming server with 278 terminals. I wonder if that server could be hacked from one of these terminals. A prepared ODF document might do the trick. Mental note to self: bring a network cable next time and see what's happening when plugging in.


A stroll along Shanghai's Nanjing road

IBM's Shanghai office is in the Pudong district. To get to famous The Bund, the scenic river promenade I took the "The Bund Sight Seeing Tunnel". It turns a four minutes ride under the river into a bath of light and color. Highly recommended. After a stroll along The Bund I turned into Nanjing road. Quite a long part of it is a pedestrian area and feels very European. Except the merchandise in the shops and the fact that every 2.5 meter someone shows you flashcards of designer brands recommending "Cheap, cheap how much do you want to buy". This is funny for the first three or four times and can get pretty annoying after a rather short while.
It turned out that the problem carried the seed of the solution. Two more girls stopped me and after my initial bu yao assured me, that they just want to talk to practice English. Well, didn't sound very convincing to me, but following some recent advise I took the statement at face value. It turned out that this was a lucky move. It looks like that all the peddlers recognize each others and as long as I strolled with the girl I wasn't approached anymore. We had a good chat and I learned a lot about their live, their work and their families, at least as English as it is broken allowed us to communicate. Having European manners I invited them for dinner at a restaurant at Nanjing road, which they happily accepted. The recent slowdown in tourism (getting a China visa is quite difficult now unless you have an Olympic ticket, which would send you to Beijing anyway) and thus their business left them hungry.

Shanghai Girl

Could you imagine, that this girl, without blinking, eats 20 chicken wings, one big bowl of fried rice and three platters of mixed fruits. I haven't seen a more happy face for a long while. Made my day.


Nur Fliegen ist schöner (Only flying beats that)

I arrived in Shanghai this afternoon (see also next post). Shanghai's Pudong Airport is quite outside of the city and, depending on traffic condition can take 1-3 hours to get into the city. Unless of course you entrust yourself some German build technology: The Shanghai Maglev, the first permanent duty Transrapid. A Maglev is kind of a plane on rails. While running along rails it doesn't touch them. This allow the train to go damn fast.

Maglev at 430kmh

You attach wings and it takes off. The trip was even shortened by a nice chat with Dr. Whitla from the Department of Marketing & International Business of the Lingnan University Hong Kong, who happened to wait for the train with me.


When service sucks but people go the extra mile

I like flying Singapore Airlines. The planes are modern, the flights clean and on schedule, the staff takes care of one and the lounges provide shelter from the temptation of compulsive buying in duty free. While typically I fly economy class, I was in the air long enough to have gold status with the Star Alliance. For sentimental reasons (and since the Star Alliance members don't allow transferring miles from one to the other program) I'm a Lufthansa Miles and More member. It doesn't matter, Gold status opens the SIA launch anywhere. At least so I thought. Turns out, not in Mumbai. The guy at the lounge labeled "Singapore Airlines" flatly rejected me entry: for SIA only. Explaining Start alliance gold status didn't help. The Mumbai airport is undergoing renovations (from what I can see, it will be nice once finished), so the prospect of killing 2 hours in the regular waiting area dampened my mood a bit.
Luckily the airport staff who showed me the way to the lounge winked me to a different lounge, that is used by Thai, Korean Air and the likes. After a short discussion with the guy at the entrance they noted down my number and now I'm happily sitting and writing this rant. Anyway a general impression here in Mumbai: people take service really serious.


Shenzhen Impressions

This week I had my second trip to China. Last time I went to Beijing in 2005 for an eGovernment conference. This time I was visiting customers in Shenzhen just across the border of Hong Kong. I spend a few days in Hong Kong with the Hong Kong Lotus team. Getting to Shenzhen from Hong Kong is easy. You get an MTR ticket (that's the local train/subway system) and it drops you directly at the border. Around noon there wasn't too much traffic and it took less then 30 minutes to clear the border.
First impression: A modern city on par with any western city. Spacious, clean and quite some flair. Entering a cab I was reminded: That isn't Hong Kong anymore. My driver didn't speak English. Luckily I picked up a wireless signal and showed him the Chinese web site of the Kempinski so he got where I wanted to go to. A call to my Chinese colleagues to confirm reassured him, that he was on the right track. Shenzhen is pretty big (my colleague claimed it is the second biggest city in China after Shanghai) but traffic was bearable.
We went for dinner in a local place, not one of the countless new fancy restaurant, but one where locals would go if they are hungry. My host and the dining place owner had good fun with me insisting to try stuff as local as possible. We had a nice sweet & sour fish, tofu and some spicy green vegetables. The leaves looked kind like tree leaves or stuff that grows on bushes. The combination of the fresh, slightly bitter green with a hot chilly vinegar dressing was very special, I liked it a lot.
The command of English was relatively limited and my colleague Damien from Lotus South China (who is a Hakka like my wife) had to translate quite a bit. After a while we found a good operation mode, where I would draw sketches on the white board, decorate them with technical keywords and sequence numbers. All IT people we met where eager to speak English and I guess they will improve very fast.
The industrial area our customers were in were huge and I practically saw the "birthplaces" of any gadget I could think of. The urban layout, while covering a huge area wasn't a suburban sprawl, but a clustered development with a lot of high rise buildings. This layout allows the implementation of efficient public transport. It looks like the city planners had a careful look at a lot of concepts to pick from.
There is much discussion on The rise of China. I think these are utterly missing the point. It is not the rise but merely the recovery of China. Why recovery and not rise? Well understanding China, from my point of view, includes looking at a longer time frame than the last 50 or so years. You need to look at the Chinese history as a whole, that would be 5000 years. In that period the great empire was formed, fell apart, shined and vanished multiple times. Until the 17th century China was *the* economic and military super power, a huge number of inventions and innovations like the compass, gun powder or rockets (in the form of fire works) originated from China. Looking inwards being busy with dynastic feuds China fell behind in the 19th and 20th century. Just a century later (and what are a few hundred years when your scale is 5000) China is on its way to claim that top spot back. When you look at not only the PRC, but at the Chinese at large including Taiwan, the Chinese in South East Asia (Singapore anyone) and European and Americans from Chinese decent, the Chinese are already there. And my sons can confirm one of the main reasons: "The Chinese mother is very demanding [about study results]".


Countries (re)visited

4 years ago I counted the countries I've been to. The number hasn't increased much, I've just been more often there. The current map looks like this:
create your own visited country map 2% up in 4 years.


What happens if your cellphone is on during a flight?

Modern smart phones, Blackberries included have features that automatically switch on and off. So what might happen if one goes on a flight and doesn't disable the auto-on feature? Well first and foremost it is a safety violation, so we don't do such things. But if it would happen? Then you would pickup SMS from Telcos of countries you fly over. Countries like Ukraine, Belorus, Poland etc. So you get a free log at what time of the journey you reach what network. But as I said: we don't do such things.


Flying towards a Typhoon

I'm off to Manila to deliver the R8 pre-launch technical enablement. When we taxied away the pilot announced flight path and weather forecast. He casually mentioned, that it might become a bumpy ride since north of Manila a Typhoon is whirling along. While I have confidence in the craft of Boeing and the skills of the Singapore Airlines pilots, that announcement made my heart beat slightly faster. Hhm. Better distract myself with part 2 of an unfinished story.

Update: The Typhoon decided to go elsewhere and the story is finished (for now)


Defeating Credit Card Security

All credit cards have this extra number. That number that doesn't appear on anything but the card. It is there for additional security. The credit card guidlines clearly state, that a merchant must not store this number. Traveling a lot I observed that most hotel chains actually record that number. Their rationale is clear: you forget to state the minibar, smashed the TV or caused any other additional charges, they simply can deduct that amount without running afoul of the internal security measures (there is more scrutiny with "card not present" transactions. That irks me like hell. And I'm not talking about cheap 3rd class hotel, the big IBM approved chains do that. I asked the receptionist, why she is doing that and she replied "company policy". I don't blame her, but I'm asking myself what are this security measures good for if they are ignored.


Travel Perils

I'm currently in Sri Lanka visiting customers and speak about Lotus Notes 8, Lotus Expeditor, Websphere Portal and Lotus Ventura. On Wednesday I was presenting together with Dialog Telecom on Blackberry Enterprise Server and Lotus Domino. Unfortunately I didn't have much time to visit the beauty of Sri Lanka as I did 20 years ago during my last visit. I rather was reminded that this paradise island hasn't found peace.
Just a few blocks away from the IBM office a confused soul choose the path of suffering and bombed himself. May he and his victims find peace.


WIFI @ Jakarta International airport.

Usually the green Starbucks sign at an airport signals a nice cup of tea and Internet access. So Jakarta international airport looked promising. The Thinkvantage access manager picked up the BizNet hotspot of a local provider. A quick check: payable access. Hhm not as nice as the free access in KL but at least the possibility to offload emails written on the Taxi ride.
Unfortunately BizNet provides no option to pay online, but at least claimed to have iPASS access. If it would work it would be fine, but I just got "Access denied" without further explanation. So over to the counter smiling at the cute Barista: "I'd like to buy a Biznet prepaid card". "We don't do Biznet at the airport anymore". So I'm out of luck. So I decided to let customer service of BizNet know about it, so they can fix it:
Hi there,
I tried to log on to your network at the international Airport in Jakarta. Neither the login using IPASS worked nor the Starbucks staff would know about your prepaid cards. Also I didn't find any possibility to pay online. I guess I'm not the only frustrated potential international customer you loose revenue to. I would love to use your service and pay, but you need to give me an opportunity to do so.

Best regards

The answer came promptly, both from sales & customer service:

From: "Customer Care" <>
Dear Mr. Wissel,
Thank you for your information.
We accept your suggestion for further improving our services to our customers. We apologize for any inconveniences it may cause you.
Should you have any questions and/or require further information, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Thank you for your kind attention and understanding


Didn't really answer my question. Didn't get me online. Didn't make me rave.


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