We got a bag too much on board!

Saturday 2 January, 13:05 CET: “This is your captain speaking. We are ready to start but we’ll have to wait another 5 to 10 minutes because a bag was apparently loaded to much. Security regulations say we have to get it off the plane.” Fair enough, the passengers were silently agreeing.
20 minutes later, the voice from the cockpit brought some update, which really wasn’t one: “Bag not found yet..”

A few passengers, including me, were already getting annoyed, some a bit angry. Lots of people had connecting flights in Munich (Germany), and staying longer on the ground in Kraków (Poland) was just not helping the flight schedule.

“People, the bag has.. not been found.” Silence in the plane as few had already wondered why the bags were getting lined up on the airport’s Tarmac.. in the snow.. getting wet. The captain spoke again: “We ask you kindly to get off the plane using the front exit, walk past the luggage and identify yours. Please re-enter through the rear entrance.”
Laughter, a few people clapping hands but failing to get more folks doing the same. Most passengers were tired waiting and wanted to get it over with. This identification was probably going to be our fasted way up.
Few of us having only carry-on luggage didn’t care, and we were watching from the plane what was happening outside. It was like a carousel, only the music and the chairs were missing as I picture me stopping the music.

After about 2 hours, the bag was eventually found, the voice out of the cockpit explained. “Now we can continue our flight.. but we’ll need another 5 to 10 minutes to de-ice the airplane.” Sighs and moaning rushed through the belly of the machine, but people already accepted their faiths.

We arrived like 2 hours late in Munich. Lufthansa had their service center well staffed and were helping people as fast as they could. It’s not easy to rebook as passengers also need to think about the consequences when getting a day later at their destination.
I had luck: there was another flight at 19:05 to Brussels. However, the queue was really slowly dissolving and time was critically getting toowards my hopefully new departure. But after a jolly hour and a half waiting, my ticket got rebooked in 10 seconds and I was on my way!

During the waiting in line at the service center I learned from other passengers that it wasn’t apparently one bag, but a whole bunch of them! They saw a chariot full of bags driving away from the plane. There might be lots of people missing their toothbrush next day..

Lufthansa is a great company. They have a very, good service, both on the ground and in the air. Planes are nice and mostly on time. I admire companies that have to endure human behavior, make it somehow work out and get people there. Kudos to the folks at the service center keeping their cool.
This incident wasn’t Lufthansa’s fault, I think. It might have been some mistake from the Krakaw airport luggage services. Shit happens..

Most popular websites are just broken: no language option!

So, I’m in Poland right now. I check my Google account: it’s in Polish. No way to set it in English, though my browser preferences are set so. You would have thought smart people work at Google, right? No, the broken way to set language: based on IP address. What’s even more idiotic is the fact that you can’t actually change to English (or your favorite language). (see screenshot)

Google, I like your services, but this one totally disappointed me. With all the smart people working there, not one figured out that people actually travel?

To all other websites that just switch language based on IP Address: my thumbs down! Show at least a language option! (Lots do BTW)

Traveling by train to Kraków, Poland from Germany

Today I’ve been traveling by train for 17 hours from Aschaffenburg (Germany) to Kraków (Poland). Crazy? In love! But yes, also a bit crazy. I’ve been doing the journey by car stopping for the night, so it took me 2 days. The risk is also higher on the road than on rails. Flying is the other way, but then there is the ‘green’-factor. However, I was reminded by somebody that the plane is flying anyway.

Here is the schedule (times are CEST):
* 06:51 Aschaffenburg – Hanau (regional train)
* 07:29 Hanau – Berlin (ICE train)
* 12:20 Berlin – Warszawa (EC train)
* 20:12 Warszawa – Kraków (PKP Intercity, 1 hour delay)

Except for the delay it has been an easy ride. I had a good book, helped people getting their luggage up and down the racks, even worked a bit on a presentation.
It’s more expensive than flying. In total I payed about 125 EUR (with my reduction card 50% in Germany and I think 25% to Warszawa).

Getting online in Poland using 3G

There are few mobile operators in Poland, but you got to watch a bit the prices and the bonuses you get. I went for Play Mobile (Polish only) for a 3G connection, and ERA (some English) for mobile phone (because my lovely girlfriend uses that).

Play has some decent pre-paid ‘na Kartę’ solutions and have good coverage (I think they use ERA?). You can buy a starter package for only 19 PLN (4.17 EUR) in lots of shops, for example in Kraków GSMCentral (maps). This ‘Starter’ gives you instant access and you pay 0.03 PLN (3gr or 0.006 EUR) for 100Kb traffic. Currently, there is a bonus of 1Gb on your first connect/reconnect. After this, you top it up for 50 PLN, for example, and get more than 4Gb, valid for 56 days.
The Play package comes with enough English instructions to get you going. The URLs, however, are all pointing to Polish websites and you’ll need a Polish bank account for recharge it online. No worries, there are enough shops where you can buy the so called ‘scratch cards’ which has a code you need to send via SMS.
For Mac OS X users: I’m using a USB Modem Huawei sold by Play which is apparently not locked. Software installs, and connects right away. You don’t really need the Play software, but it installs the modem driver. One problem with the Huawei stick is that it doesn’t fit nice in my MacBook Air’s USB.

It was quite a challenge to get information through Polish websites, and you got to be lucky bumping into people speaking English in shops, here in Kraków. However, Google Translate was a great help, as well as friends, colleagues, their contacts!

We work indeed from everywhere, ‘here’ at MySQL!

Share the Road

Yesterday I moved around Santa Clara, San Jose and Cupertino using the light train (tram) and busses. Public transportation is actually very nice around here. For $5 you can take a Day Pass which moves you around ‘the valley‘ on the VTA transporation network. Funny: most people thank the bus driver when they get off, just like in a taxi.
Something I’ve been struggling with in Orlando was also bugging me again here in California. Sometimes you walk along a road and suddenly the sidewalk stops. What you do then? I had to walk in the bushes as crossing the road wouldn’t help. On the other side of the road it was even worse to walk. Also, there were rails I had to cross, which is not as dangerous as all the cars driving by, but still.
There was this sign “Share the road” which tells automobilists and cyclists to play nice. It didn’t say pedestrians were allowed, neither did it disallow walking. You’re on your own I guess.
A heron actually took the sharing literally and it was standing on the tram’s rails.

Share the road