Archive for June, 2011
The most destructive computer viruses are programs that are designed to disrupt the smooth functioning of a computer machine and make it handicapped. Here’s a look at the most powerful computer viruses that made headlines…
Computer viruses are harmful programs created by anti-social elements (hackers) which can self duplicate itself in the computer system to harm its smooth functioning. These viruses are not only a big cause of worry for casual computer users but they have also created problems for governments, hospitals, schools and huge organizations by infecting their systems. Computer viruses spread faster than a cold virus thanks to the Internet which connects almost every computer in the world through its amazing technology. Almost every computer virus is capable enough for major destruction, here are some of those that have made history.
Most Damaging Computer Viruses
Computer viruses have caused damage worth billions of dollars, some have wiped out top secret documents from hard disks which could never be recovered again and most of them have affected the market by shutting down businesses for hours. Computer viruses are nothing but an online threat distributed through the Internet by hackers who like creating havoc in today’s corporate world. Here are the names which have become immortal in the world of computers due to the amount of destruction caused by them.
This virus came to the fore in the year 26 and the public began speculating about it when it was sent to millions of computers in the form of an email saying, ’2 dead as storm batters Europe’. Different companies called this virus by different names. Basically Storm Worm is a Trojan horse program which makes computers into zombies or bots. As the machines become infected, they can be controlled by the person who actually sent this worm. This virus is widespread, it is not very difficult to detect. Updating the computer anti-virus system is probably the best way to keep Storm Worm away.
ILOVEYOU aka Love Letter Virus
The ILOVEYOU virus is still known as the most dangerous virus ever written by a hacker. It is still regarded the most deadliest computer virus of all time which caused companies a loss of more than $ billion. The virus expanded by spreading itself through email. Once the user opened the email, the virus attached itself to the memory and infected all important files and folders. Once in the computer the virus tries to reach other users by scanning all the addresses in the Microsoft Outlook List of the current user. The virus was originally written by a Filipino programmer who was still pursuing his college education at that time. This virus spread through the entire world in just 24 hours and affected system of multinational companies and the Pentagon resulting in loses worth billions of dollars.
Leap-A gathered a lot of press attention because it is one of those few viruses which have been successful in corrupting MAC systems. Yes, Apple is known to make software and hardware systems which are resistant to viruses, the company protects their systems by sending regular updates to their users. MAC computers are protected from virus attacks with the help of a concept called Security through Obscurity. However, due to the recent popularity of MAC system, in 26 a hacker created the Leap-A virus which uses the iChat messaging system to travel through various vulnerable MAC computers.
Another destructive virus which made worldwide headlines, Melissa virus was a type of mass-mailing malware which affected more than 2% of computers worldwide. Computers who worked on Microsoft, Intel were the worst sufferers and companies who used Microsoft Outlook for their emails also incurred heavy losses. The Melissa virus traveled through email with an MS Word attachment and when users opened it, the virus immediately mailed itself to the first 5 people in the Outlook list.
CIH aka Chernobyl Virus
Not only the name but the virus itself was so destructive that its release made international headlines all around the world. CIH was the most dreaded computer virus because it had the ability to remain undetected in a computer’s memory for a very long time. Once in the system, it used to hamper every program that was run. The virus first debuted in 998 and affected various Windows systems of 95 and 98. This virus was also equipped with a trigger date and once the date was reached , the virus overwrote the files on the hard drive and destroyed it original contents.
Code Red was a computer worm which debuted in the world of computers in the year 2. It specifically attacked computers running the Microsoft’s IIS web server. It suppressed the Windows system by acting as a buffer overflow and sent huge amounts of data to the computer so that it is forced to shut down.
Even though technology today is highly advanced and secure, systems and networks keep getting infected again and again. This is because people don’t spend enough money on a good anti-virus software and most of them are too lazy to update their anti-virus software after regular intervals.
Whether it’s all the new fees, delays, cancellations, or just poor customer service, Americans aren’t too thrilled with most airlines these days. A new survey shows this pretty clearly. while customers are generally pleased with discount airlines, they aren’t as crazy about their experiences with the more established airlines, according to the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index.
Here’s a historical chart, based on the ACSI’s survey results:
You can see that Southwest is ahead of all others — by a fairly wide margin. it had an 81% satisfaction rating. the rating of its closest named competitor, Continental, was just 69%.
But that “All Others” category is curious. Usually, such miscellaneous categories don’t trend well above or below most of the group — unless they’re highly correlated in some way. In this case, they probably are. In this group you essentially have the smaller airlines.*
So this group mostly consists of airlines like JetBlue, AirTran, and Spirit, along with dozens of tiny, regional airlines. the larger names in this group are generally considered discount airlines. Apparently, money can’t buy you satisfaction, as the cheapest tickets are providing more satisfaction than those from the more established carriers, which tend to be more expensive.
One thing is clear: if customer satisfaction matters to travelers, then the big airlines might begin to have a tougher time competing unless they make some changes. not only do they charge more for their tickets, but fliers feel that they’re getting better service by paying less.
It’s a lucky thing for the establishment that the airline industry doesn’t make competing easy. As long as customers prefer the lower-cost carriers, the establishment will have to get by on its control of so many gates and routes. Customers will only consciously ride a more expensive airline that provides an inferior experience if they have no other choice. if this were an industry like electronics, with fewer constraints on brand choice, then those established firms could be in trouble.
*Note: Originally, I ended this sentence with, “except for Southwest.” But as a reader correctly pointed out, Southwest isn’t all that small anymore. it is, however, considered a discount airline, so goes along with the trend described.
Birthdays and anniversaries are always appropriate occasions for reflection and with the country’s 38th birthday a little over two weeks away, this is the perfect time for Bahamians to reflect and objectively consider how the country is doing based upon the original concepts as to the direction and manner in which it wants to move, says Bishop Neil Ellis, chairman of the full Gospel Baptist Fellowship of Churches of the Bahamas.
That reflection, he says, should specifically take the direction as to what extent the citizenry of a free country moving forward, upward and onward, and no less importantly, to what extent they are doing so together. Bishop Ellis’s remarks were made during his Fourth Annual State of Affairs Address .
Bishop Ellis, who is also the senior pastor at Mount Tabor full Gospel Baptist Church, reminded his members that at the stroke of midnight on July 10, 1973 a new nation — the Commonwealth of the Bahamas — was born, and of the jubilance, exuberance and expectations that permeated the air among the thousands of people that had gathered at Clifford Park to witness the lowering of the Union Jack and raising of the Bahamian flag. And that in a little over two weeks, the country will celebrate 38 years as a free and sovereign nation, mastering its own fate, and charting its own course.
He told his members that an independent Bahamas was “birthed” on the premise of certain core values — who we are, how we saw ourselves and where we as a people wanted to go. To add a sense of physical reality to those values, he said specific tangible symbols were identified as being national: the flag was colored aquamarine, gold and black, reflecting that their part of God’s kingdom has an abundance of beautiful waters, limitless sunshine and all the possibilities that facilitate the strength of the people regardless of race, represented by the black in the flag.
Bishop Ellis said the basic values of a free and independent Bahamas were further reinforced by the selection of the lignum vitae as the national tree and the blue marlin as the national fish. In each instance, he says values are compellingly clear.
“In the case of our national tree, it is regal in appearance, but also hard, useful and known to have healing properties. In the case of our national fish, it is not only beautiful, but also displays incredible strength with the ability to leap high, swim long distances and dive deep. a national anthem which encourages us to lift up our heads; a national motto which says so very much in spite of its brevity — forward, upward, onward, together.
“These words speak to the direction and spirit in which our nation should be moving. Four words, but fundamentally only two themes — movement and unity, the lyrics of our national anthem make it clear that the upward is to a higher, loftier goal and the destination is specifically defined as a place where we will meet our God. Furthermore, the preamble of our constitution eliminates uncertainty by affirming that our God is the God of the Christian faith.”
The religious leader also said that the Bahamas is a country in serious need of change as it is not moving forward, upward or onward at an acceptable and sustainable pace. And where such a movement is taking place, it is not happening with a desirable degree of togetherness was the consensus Bishop Ellis found during a meeting he was a part of a few months ago, charged with assessing the extent to which the group was satisfied that the people were moving forward, upward and onward and to identify a process for positive change.
The group surmised that the country was disjointed with deeply fragmented people and that the reality showed itself in many ways ranging from the murder rate that stands at 60 and the struggle to sustain a sense of family. he said it is evident in the fact that the standard of living of the average citizen is in decline and that political affiliations over the years have done more to divide than unite the country.
“There appears to be an acceptance that partisan politics has made us too much of a tribalistic people,” said Bishop Ellis. “This includes too wide an acceptance of the view that for you who are not wearing the colors that I’m wearing, or supporting the group that I am supporting, then I am entitled to do everything within my power to stop you from making progress or getting ahead in this country. this has even affected families, and it is time for it to stop. this is simply destructive for us all.”
Bishop Ellis said that even though each citizen is entitled to a philosophical and ideological belief, it would appear vital that people demand that the country’s political leaders make a greater and more conscious effort at finding ways to do more things is in the national interest.
Togetherness, unity and oneness he says, must be a major national rally cry. And that the most fundamental concepts of a civilized society rest on the notion of strong, striving families, and that no nation can be deemed strong where the family structure is weak or non-existent.
“Nowadays, we are hardly our brother’s keeper. We have become a dogmatic people focused on getting ahead at any cost. I am of the view that the unprecedented and relentless rise in crime is being fueled by greed, covetousness and selfishness. God expects us to take care of and look after one another. Instead, we steal, rob, rape, ostracize, scandalize and murder our brother for selfish gain. the underlying factors of this deepening societal mayhem is a nation that is slowly losing its males to gang wars, drugs, alcohol, sickness and incarceration, and too many of its females to prostitution, teenage pregnancy and diseases.”
Bishop Ellis says there may be many arguments that pre-suppose why the family units are as they are and why the people have become fragmented, but he says the underlining reality is that Bahamians have strayed from grace and the constitutional expressions of their forefathers who understood from the very beginning that even in its embryonic stage, that if the Bahamas is to move forward as a nation, recognition and acknowledgment of the supremacy of God and people’s inherent spiritual values could not be ignored.
He told his members that somehow, somewhere along the way, Bahamians have become a nation of people with intense rivalries that lack compassion and respect for each other, each other’s property and the rule of law. And as a result, personal and public safety continue to deteriorate in the country with the Bahamas teetering on the brink of lawlessness, with 60 murders recorded up to the sixth month of the year.
If Bahamians are to prepare the next generation to be morally conscious, culturally responsible, nationally patriotic and globally focused as the country endeavors to move forward, upward and onward together, he says the minds of the citizens must be transformed.
But he says it is evident that the socio-economic conditions of far too many Bahamians do not seem to be improving, and still far too many working poor that live paycheck to paycheck which he says is a direct result of mismanagement of their funds. Bishop Ellis says this breeds poverty as well as family instability.
He said there are far too many people that simply do not have enough and cannot seem to earn enough to make ends meet. he said it is this growing segment of society that is becoming more frustrated and in some instances, angry with those people that appear to have more than them.
“While this may be a question of immorality or covetousness, could it be that this constant state of not enough and the frustration it produces is being transferred to our children that act out in school or commit acts of violence? what about the unemployed or those that simply need a hand up? what are we doing as a nation to help bridge the gap between the middle class and the working poor?”
Bishop Ellis told his members that proper responses to those questions required a transformation of the mind and a movement of the people from seeing the government and the corporate community as the central authority, to seeing God as the ultimate authority.
The religious leader said tomorrow’s another day and that the hope that tomorrow can and will be better than today begins with the man in the mirror committing himself to becoming the change he wishes to see. That act over which he says everyone has control will allow small groups to develop programs and introduce initiatives that build the social capital of the larger society that appeal to the segment of persons who feel displaced and uncertain about their future and that of their family.
Bishop Ellis encouraged the practice of empathy and compassion toward each other. he said life must be made simple again, and that people should rekindle the flames of love, care and concern for others, consistent with prayer.
L.A. architect Neil Denari gives the new low-cost airline Peach some juicy-fresh design.
Plenty of architects design buildings that reach for the sky. But here’s a guy who’s designing something that flies clear through it. come next spring, folks booking on Peach, a new, low-cost Japanese air carrier, will board planes gussied up by Neil Denari, the L.A. starchitect behind the futuristic HL23 tower on the High Line.
The airline’s name was chosen because peaches are “a well-known and much loved fruit that symbolizes longevity, energy and happiness across Asian countries” to quote press materials. Denari wrapped the plane’s body in a swirl of pink and fuchsia — peach, apparently, would’ve been too literal — then stenciled “Peach” on the tail in lettering reminiscent of the text on a fruit box. more details from The Architect’s Newspaper:
Inside the planes will have purple and grey seats, purple strips on overhead bins, grey rugs with purple specks and purple partitions.
Geez. Will the flight attendants be purple, too? It’s an aesthetic that falls somewhere between Virgin’s sexy, clubby cabins and a box of Pocky sticks, which was roughly the point. Peach is conceived of to appeal to twenty- and thirtysomethings who want to make quick, cheap flights between the airline’s base in Osaka and other airports in Japan, China, Korea, and elsewhere in Asia. As Denari told the Architect’s Newspaper, “it needed to be cool and cute, but not Hello Kitty cute.”
Mission accomplished. Mostly, though, it’s just nice to see an airline (and a low-cost airline in particular) invest in slick design. Flying is so dreadful that anything carriers do to make the experience less horrific can go a long way toward luring passengers and keeping them loyal to boot — so long as Peach doesn’t adopt some of the less savory aspects of starchitecture.
Travel tips from industry insiders
The cost of travel has been rising like the temperature, and that means people are traveling.
Nearly half of respondents of a recent survey had summer vacation plans. Burst Media in Burlington, Mass., conducted the poll in May.
Sign up for mailing lists and automatic alerts through online travel sites. some websites allow you to only look for deals to specific locations.
Think about who you are. If you’re a student or a senior citizen, you may be eligible for deals. some employers also provide travel perks to their employees, so ask your boss about any travel benefits.
Go for last-minute travel deals. If you’re flexible, consider last-minute travel deals from online travel sites.
If you can’t afford to fly, take a train or bus.
Even with more people on the move, it’s not too late to find travel bargains.
Not everyone is computer savvy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get good travel deals from a bricks-and-mortar travel agency, said Stephanie Mennella, a travel agent at AAA North Penn in Stroudsburg.
“One of the best ways to save on a trip is to be flexible with your travel date and where you are going,” she said.
If you fly midweek and early in the morning, airfare is usually less, Mennella said.
Planning your travel several months in advance usually ensures that the airfare is probably as cheap as you are going to get it. Waiting for last-minute deals can be risky, according to Mennella.
“The closer to the date you fly and the less seats that are available on the flight, the more your ticket will cost,” she said.
Peak times for cruises are June, July and August, Mennella said, and added that June through August are traditionally the wedding season, so you have all the honeymoons scheduled, plus add all the students going on trips once school is out and families who take summer vacations. it all adds up to a high-traffic season.
The only thing you need to remember, she said, is that when going on a cruise in the fall or off season, you have to be prepared for the event of a storm. Starting in September, it is hurricane season over the ocean.
“All-inclusive is really the best way to get more bang for your buck. Plus, people find it less stressful to just pay one price and have everything they need,” she said.
If you plan booking a trip to any of the Disney parks, you should always pick a package that has a meal plan included. that makes it easier to gauge how much money you will have to spend for other things while on the vacation, Mennella said.
When shopping online for bargain deals, www.bargaintrips.com suggests, bargain hunters go directly to the source — a specific airline website, hotel chain or car rental company. many companies offer lower prices on services than the prices available through third-party travel sites.
Using a search engine to locate the website for an airline, rental-car company or hotel, locate the website and look for a tab that reads “Deals and Offers” or “Special Offers” or similar tab.
To save time, check only with the airlines that have the most flights out of the airport you are planning on using. The same is true for the hotel; check out only the ones that you like.
If you see a package you like, make note of the price and whether it is all-inclusive. that way you can compare the cost with other airlines, hotels and car rental companies, as well as with a bricks-and-mortar travel agency.
If the sites you visit offer email notification on special travel packages, www.bottomlinesecrets.com said it is a good idea to sign up — that way you can take advantage of future travel deals.
Traveling during the off season, according to www.bottomlinesecrets.com, can substantially reduce the cost of your trip. when demand is strong, last-minute prices can be extremely high. If you have a specific destination and date of travel in mind, it is best to search these sites two months or more in advance. The more flexible you can be about where you are going and when you are going, the better your chances for finding a bargain online. The biggest savings is usually when you choose an all-inclusive package.
Before you book the trip, make sure there are no other tips and taxes that will be applied to your package after it is purchased.
All-inclusive means including tips and taxes. You should have nothing else to pay.
Using some of the best-known travel sites, such as Orbitz, Travelocity or Priceline, has definite advantages. “We do all the work for you. You don’t need to call the hotel, car rental or any of the other things needed to organize a trip,” said Marita Hudson Thomas, director of public relations of Orbitz Worldwide.
If traveling the open seas is what you like, cruise lines also offer bargains on their websites. As the departure date for the cruise approaches, cruise lines would much rather leave port with a full ship, so if you have some flexibility, you can take advantage of the reduced prices offered.
The only drawback is if you don’t live in or near the cruise’s city of departure, you will need to buy an airline ticket to get to the port of departure and back home again.
Remember, last-minute airfare can be expensive, making your bargain cruise less of a bargain, Mennella said.
Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity advise that their best deals are offered less than one week prior to the travel date and if one rate is substantially better than any other rate you have found, take the deal before it disappears.
These camps provide an opportunity for Ridge youth to complete much needed home repair projects right here in the community. The dates for the camps are June 26 through July 2, for students who have completed 9th through 12th grades
July 26 -29 is designated for students who have completed 6th through 8th grades.
The final Stay-at-Home Work Camp begins August 2 and continues through August 6, for students who have completed 8th through 12th grades.
Registration forms can be downloaded from the Lake Wales Care Center’s website, www.lakewalescarecenter.org. Registrations forms are also available at the Lake Wales Care Center’s office, 140 East Park Avenue.
Student who participate in Stay-at-Home Work Camp receive community service hours that are required by local schools and for the bright Futures Scholarship program.
If you have questions regarding Stay-at-Home work camp contact Mike Morrow or Lauren Lightsey, 863- 676-6678.
VBS programs begin Monday
School is out and summer is in. Two Ridge churches begin their Vacation Bible School programs tomorrow evening.
The Lighthouse Baptist Church, 307 ABC Road in Lake Wales will begin their VBS program tomorrow, June 13 through June 17. Their 2011 theme is “Jesus loves All the Children of the World”.
The Lighthouse Baptist Church program begins at 6 PM each evening and ends at 8 PM. The VBS program is for children ages 4 through 12. Call 863-638-2040 for more information on this program.
The HighPoint Church 2011 Vacation Bible School also begins tomorrow night. this year’s theme is “High Seas Expedition”.
The Monday through June 17 VBS program is for Kindergarten through fifth graders.
The evening programs are from 6:15 to 8:30 p.m.
For details, call 863-676-7475. The HighPoint Church is located at 501 Burns Ave. Lake Wales.
A light snack will be provided to children in attendance and an offering will be taken each evening to support the family missions trip to Honduras.
Student wins national essay contest
Hillcrest Elementary second grader Roberto Rodriguez won second place in the nationwide Magic Tree House essay contest.
This series, authored by Mary Pope Osborne, is an exciting collection of books that teaches children history through fun reading.
Roberto’s essay creates a story of the main characters, Jack and Annie, going back in time for the first Halloween.
Roberto won an autographed book from Mary Pope Osborne, author of the Magic Tree House series, which has sold more than 53 million copies worldwide.
Libraries on the Ridge offer summer programs
The Dundee Public Library’s summer reading programs are every Wednesday, 10 until 11 a.m.. The Florida Summer Reading Theme is “One World, Many Stories”.
Dundee’s summer program includes stories, crafts and games. Visit the library and get your passport. Staff will stamp the passport every time you attend a program or check out a library book. Prizes will be awarded for children who participate.
Call 863-439-9424. The Dundee Public Library is located at 202 E. Main Street, Dundee.
The Lake Wales Public Library has a summer filled with activities. one of the first events is an evening program featuring the Palomares family.
The Palomares are familiar to the Lake Wales community. this close-knit family moved from their home in Mexico, became citizens of the US and has devoted their lives to working in the community.
On Tuesday, 5:30 p.m. they will share the traditions of their homeland, Mexico. this family program is part of the “One World, Many Stories” summer programs sponsored by the Lake Wales Public Library.
Thursday the weekly summer youth program kicks off at 10:30 a.m. with “Once Upon a Time at the Library”.
For a complete schedule of events at the Lake Wales Public Library call 863-678-4004.
The Lake Wales Public Library’s fiber arts classes will feature a one-time “How to Make a Summer Tote” class. this class is Friday, 5:30 p.m.
Summer tote patterns and instructions for crocheters and knitters will be taught.
The single class is $5; a supply list will be provided to all registered by Thursday. assistance will be provided in upcoming weeks, but only the first week is required.
Knitting or crochet skills are required to attend this class.Call Dawn, 863-678-4004.
Club celebrates member’s milestone anniversary
Lake of the Hills Community club invites everyone on the Ridge to a monumental celebration, the 70th anniversary celebration of Homer and Edna Wickman.
Please join the Lake of the Hills Community Club for a get together with the Wickmans at the Lake of the Hills Community Clubhouse, Sunday, July 3, 2 until 5 PM.
There will be light refreshments, feel free to bring snacks.
Known for his guitar skills, Homer will provide musical entertainment at his own party.
Happy 30th birthday to my oldest son, Lee. You’re a wonderful son and an amazing father. I’m very proud of you.
Thursday 9th June 2011
A senior surveyor and the wife of a police officer allegedly took part in a £10m property scam in exchange for fast cars and money.
Mary-Jane Rathie, from Hertfordshire, is currently standing trial at the Old Bailey for her part in the crimes.
She is accused of overvaluing five London properties and thus facilitating the acquisition of approximately £9.5 million of the total £10 million worth of mortgages that were obtained through the scam.
The properties involved included a riverside home in Chelsea, a flat in Belgravia and a flat in Chester Mews, behind Buckingham Palace.
A woman named Joanne Pier – who has now ‘vanished’ after leaving the country – is thought to have been 43-year-old Rathie’s accomplice, and the ring leader in the scam.
Pier is said to have obtained the £10 million mortgages from the Bank of Scotland, and subsequently paid Rathie £900,000 in cheques as well as handing over a Range Rover Sport and a Bentley Continental to her.
The vehicles, valued at almost £200,000, were both registered in the name of Rathie’s husband, 47-year-old David Rathie, a Metropolitan Police Officer.
At present, Rathie is denying five fraud allegations between may 2007 and June 2009. She and her husband are also both denying charges of concealing criminal property.
David Durose, prosecuting, said that the money gained by Rathie was used to pay off a mortgage and to buy a new property, the BBC reports.
He told the court that although different surveyors would give different valuations, the defendant’s valuations were ‘outside the range that could be expected’.
Rathie previously worked for Ashdown Lyons in Finchley, North London. Her RICS membership was suspended last year and she was first introduced to Pier in 2007 when she approached the company for a valuation.
The trial continues.
In-flight Internet access has had its up and downs, and, yes, this article will have its share of aviation-related puns. An aborted launch by Boeing in 2004 seemed to ground the idea, but a second attempt in 2008 has remained aloft. Each day, nearly 1,100 planes—totaling 4,000 flights carrying an average of 500,000 passengers—ply their way over America while carrying WiFi gear from Aircell. meanwhile, other providers power a few hundred planes in the US and the rest of the globe with either full Internet access or, more commonly, limited GSM-based text and data service.
Despite the volume of equipped aircraft, we’re still in the early days— and the continued availability of mile-high WiFi is certainly not guaranteed. It’s an expensive, long-term investment to supply consistent and usable broadband Internet service at 35,000 feet. Surveys show people want access, but it’s unclear how much (or even if) they’ll pay for it. Aircell says that 20 percent of passengers on equipped cross-country flights use its service, but it’s mum about numbers on shorter segments.
Nonetheless, installations are only increasing at the moment, and no airline has pulled the plug in more than two years of buildouts. Once an airplane has been wired for service, debt service on the installation and money to cover ongoing costs become the primary concerns. Momentum may carry onboard access through this bumpy period.
In this 35,000-foot overview, we’ll look at the history of in-flight Internet, the state of the art, and where things are going, with a tour of the technology employed today and tomorrow.
Where it began
Once upon a time, Boeing had a brilliant idea to combine its satellite savvy and plane-building expertise into a separate business division that would carry high-speed signals from geostationary satellites into receivers that it would custom-fit into its own and others’ planes. “Connexion by Boeing” was its name.
The problem? Boeing predicated the business on having substantial presence in the US market where record profits were being earned, and it signed agreements with three airlines a few months before September 11, 2001. The collapse of the airline industry and the larger economy after the terrorist attacks on that date led Boeing’s partners to retreat from the Connexion deal, which undermined the financial viability of the offering. Boeing then refocused on over-water, long-haul flights, which seemed like the lowest-hanging fruit.
But Connexion had other problems. while bandwidth wasn’t a problem‚ with reported speeds of about 5Mbps down and 1Mbps up per plane‚ installation and ongoing expenses were an issue. Initial installations could take weeks, which translates into money lost from a productive plane on which a lease is being paid, and total installation cost could reach $500,000 per plane, according to contemporary reports.
Boeing’s retrofits eventually became faster, but they couldn’t get around the weight of the gear plus its drag, which added up to an effective several hundred pounds. this placed a heavy burden on Internet revenue from each flight; if a few dozen people on every plane didn’t pony up for access, Connexion was a net loss to carry.
Boeing also had to bear the massive cost of transponder leases. as I’ll explain later, Connexion used Ku-band satellites, each of which can have dozens of transponders, all pointed toward an optimal region of the globe. for better capacity and coverage, Boeing reportedly leased 150 up/downlink pairs of transponders at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars a year. (Boeing never confirmed this figure, which may be overstated.)
Pricing was troublesome. I never thought Boeing was overcharging for the kind of serious business user they were targeting for long-haul flights (from 6 to 14 hours), but there was a lot of carping about the cost. At launch in 2004, service was tiered between $15 for flights under three hours and $30 for six-hour-and-longer trips. Several months before the service was discontinued, pricing switched to a weird model for continuous access: $10 for 1 hour, $15 for 2 hours, and $18 for 3 hours; $26 bought 24 hours of access across any Connexion-equipped flights.
The cost to airlines‚ some of which was apparently absorbed by Boeing‚ led to few planes having the service installed at first. The final count was in the hundreds when Boeing pulled the plug in late 2006. The cost to passengers seemed to keep usage relatively low, and without knowing whether any given plane might have service, customers couldn’t expect access, which might have driven up usage. Lufthansa was the most committed airline, with all its dozens of long-haul craft set up before Connexion shut down.
It didn’t help that Boeing’s service launched while WiFi was still ramping up as a ubiquitous mobile feature. (Some aircraft even included Ethernet jacks for the service.) Smartphones and organizers largely lacked WiFi, or burned battery life quickly if they used it. Laptops had WiFi, but users didn’t have the same obsession with always staying online.
An early Tenzing connection kit A new beginning
While it was clear that satellite-based Internet access was workable, the cost structure Boeing had established was not. as the industry shook itself out, and firms like Panasonic Avionics and OnAir also tried to figure out models that would work, the FCC finalized a plan to transform access in American skies.
The FCC had approved limited air-to-ground (ATG) radiotelephone service in the 1980s for in-flight calling, and then offered licenses to six firms in 1990. few launched commercially. in the end, only AirFone‚ ultimately run by a division of Verizon‚ was left standing, charging dollars per minute for calls and low-speed dial-up data. its use of a sliver of bandwidth was inefficient in two directions: as an analog service, it was capable of handling only 10 calls at a time, making poor use of the spectrum; by the end of its life, only two to three calls were made on each flight. Those seatback phones were becoming as redundant by the mid-2000s as pay phones in airports.
The FCC decided to auction off the 4MHz (in the 850MHz band) allotted to this service for digital air-to-ground use to provide services to passengers and airlines. It was assumed that Internet service would be the primary purpose, supplemented by onboard cellular base stations (so-called picocells) potentially providing voice, text, and data links for hardware without built-in WiFi. But airlines might piggyback on the system for non-critical communications, too.
In 2006, the FCC created a wacky kind of auction in which bids were accepted on different plans for splitting the band up into pieces. The winner was the most sensible offering: one firm paid for 3MHz and another for 1MHz. (The bandwidth was divided into 1.5MHz and 0.5MHz paired uplink/downlink channels.)
Aircell won the larger chunk. The firm had spent nearly 20 years trying to convince the FCC to allocate air-to-ground spectrum for provide greater competition and better utility. JetBlue’s LiveTV in-flight entertainment division won the 1MHz, and we’re still wondering what they’ll do with it. (From a more exact business perspective, Aircell received a significant investment before the auction by a private-investment firm that created a separate spectrum-holding company to bid on the auction. that company won, and Aircell has assignment rights.)
Air-to-ground communications have a variety of advantages over air-to-space connections. Aircell had already built a network for general aviation (non-commercial, private) phone and other services, so it had experience. It was able to use existing cellular facilities used by other telecoms with antennas pointing up instead of around. And Aircell could own its equipment instead of lease usage, as with satellites.
Even though the license limited Aircell to the United States, that still encompassed a huge number of planes and flights and it kept the company from having to build a global business initially. still, Aircell had to convince airlines that it could deliver on performance, generate revenue, and, potentially, fill more seats at higher prices for as long as Internet access was a bonus amenity offered only by specific airlines. (If it’s a success and most planes have access, it’s hard to advertise the feature to attract customers from other airlines.)
In November 2008, Aircell launched its service as Gogo Inflight Internet with nary a thigh-high white boot in sight. I was on the inaugural Virgin America flight, and filed this report from the air for BoingBoing TV. in between gaping at supporting actors from 30 Rock, trying to identify YouTube celebrities, and drinking non-virgin Virgin drinks, we found that even a planeful of journalists were able to connect to the ‘Net most of the time.
It wasn’t long before the service expanded.
Aircell’s thousand-plane coverage
Virgin America was Aircell’s launch airline, and it put the service on its couple dozen planes rather quickly. AirTran (currently being acquired by Southwest) later joined Virgin in (un)wiring its entire fleet of 138 mainline planes. Alaska Airlines also went for a full deployment for its 115 mainline planes; it’s now about halfway there. (Mainline planes are the larger jets, like 737s or Airbus A320s used for regional and national travel. they complement regional aircraft, both jets and turboprops, with smaller passenger capacity that are used for short and medium hops.)
There’s little else left up for grabs in the domestic market, as all carriers with over 50 mainline planes are signed up with one party or another.
A bigger coup for Aircell was a commitment from Delta, which eventually agreed to put Gogo on its entire mainline fleet of now 550 planes, accomplished earlier this year. American Airlines came along more slowly, first agreeing to put service in about 300 of 620 planes. in early May, however, American expanded that commitment to nearly its entire fleet. At least 200 planes are currently equipped, and all should be set with WiFi service by mid-2012.
United and US Airways have a small number of kitted craft. United’s fleet of 13 cross-country 757-200s have had the Gogo service for some time, and US Airways put the service on a seeming trial on 50 Airbus 321s. (United has a total of 450 mainline planes, and US Airways nearly 320.)
Air Canada also has some in-flight service on an unknown number of its 37 Airbus A319s. The service is only legal to operate on portions of routes within the United States.
This accounts for the nearly 1,100 planes that Aircell totals up on its site. It’s likely to increase that total to as many as 1,500 planes by the end of 2011, but current commitments put it to under 2,000 through 2012. Delta’s regional planes (about 220) will be equipped by the end of 2011; the rest of Alaska will come this year; and Frontier will put service on 32 regional jets.
The upper limit, of course, is the number of planes actually in service. in 2010, US airlines had about 3,700 mainline jets and 2,600 regional jets and other types of craft. Regional jets generally have too little capacity for inflight Internet to make financial sense; Frontier and Delta are the two frontrunners experimenting with those smaller planes. (Hundreds of planes remain parked in desert landing strips, mothballed and possibly never to fly again. More may join them as airlines push a strategy of smaller fleets to push up scarcity and increase prices based on demand.)
Aircell’s CEO Michael Small told me that regional jets of 70 or more seats fit into a profile where it might make sense to add service, partly because it completes a network like Delta, giving flyers service from one end of a trip to another on the same airline. that increases usage across the airline and leads to purchases of day passes and subscriptions. Smaller planes would be less profitable, but Aircell has its broadband service on 500 private planes (and an older voice and data service on 4,500 others), so it can be done.
While Aircell’s license is only good for the United States, it expects that if the stars align it will partner with firms in Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean, just as the Airfone service operated. Aircell’s Small said the traffic relative to the United States is low enough that the company has to find the right partner to make the business case. From a deployment perspective, though, it wouldn’t be difficult at all.
There are also a couple thousand planes that routinely fly over water on international routes, and several thousand craft in use domestically and internationally over land. Satellite service will drive those markets‚ if it can prove viable. which brings us to pricing.
Aircell’s greatest achievement may be a single pricing structure across all the airlines with which it’s partnered. its biggest mistake may be the crazily large number of pricing options: 10 separate dollar amounts are listed on its pricing page. this is too many for any normal human being to integrate into decision making.
(One tip: if you’re going to use Gogo on a flight, set up an account with credit-card information before you go using a computer’s browser. It’s much simpler to do so while you’re not squeezed into a seat, and you don’t have to expose your credit-card number to seatmates. You’ll especially appreciate having an account set up when you use Gogo with a mobile device, like a smartphone. You can also install a BlackBerry or iOS app for a simpler connection process.)
Let’s take this category by category:
- Unlimited service. Aircell offers four kinds of unlimited monthly services. for $35 a month with automatic renewal, you can use any number of sessions on all airlines. If you want to buy 30 days at a time, it’s $30 for a single airline or $40 for all airlines with no automatic renewal. for mobile devices, 30 days costs just $20.
- 24-hour pass. for $13, you can use any number of sessions on all equipped planes. If you have at least two flight segments and any are longer than 1.5 hours, this is cheaper than buying two separate sessions.
- Laptop or tablet session. Gogo separates this out by duration: you pay $5 for flights of up 1.5 hours (or 650 miles), $10 for 1.5 to 3 hours (up to 1,150 miles), and $13 for anything over 3 hours or a longer distance.
- Smartphones and small mobile devices, like the iPod touch. Gogo apparently characterizes the iPad and other tablets as not being “mobile devices,” for which you have to pay full freight. The Mobile Pass for smartphones et al. is $5 for flights 1.5 hours or shorter, and $8 otherwise.
Aircell once had a cheap redeye option for overnight flights, but it’s no longer listed.
On a given flight, you’re only presented with valid options, which could still total five on a laptop or tablet and four on a mobile device. some airlines indicate at the time of booking whether WiFi is available on a flight, and some allow prepurchase of a session along with a ticket and discounts. Delta, for instance, sells the $13 24-hour pass for $11, limited to Delta flights.
The missing component in all these pricing options is bundling: if you’re traveling with multiple bits of hardware, such as a smartphone, tablet, and laptop (don’t laugh, because you know you’ve already done it), you could pay a separate fee for each.
Aircell says that with a laptop session or plan, you can switch between a laptop and a mobile device or tablet so long as you use only one active session at a time. You have to log out from one device to log in to the other. Mobile plans and passes can only be used among mobile devices.
Even while Aircell was setting up its network in the time between winning the FCC auction in 2006 and launching commercial service in 2008, other firms were trying to get their satellite-based projects off the ground.
The most notable of those in the US is Row 44, a firm full of executives from the satellite and chipmaking worlds, which decided to focus on making satellite-backed airborne service work in a limited area. by restricting service to just North America, the company reduced transponder costs enormously. It also has told me several times over the years that its gear and antenna are substantially lighter weight and have less drag than Connexion’s, while it was able to ratchet up bandwidth substantially by using more efficient equipment.
The company started up in 2004, and it took until 2009 to begin trials. It initially garnered commitments from Alaska Airlines and Southwest, but lost Alaska to Aircell after long delays in deployment. Alaska flies a large number of overwater flights to both Alaska and Mexico, and Aircell wasn’t a perfect fit, but apparently close enough, and it added several ground stations in that state. in a similar vein, geostationary satellite signals can barely reach most of Alaska, so ground stations likely provide more consistent and better service than a satellite approach.
Southwest expects all its 550 planes to have Row 44′s service enabled by 2013, and hasn’t announced milestones for service. for now, the price is $5 per flight regardless of duration. There are no day passes or other discount. That’s blissfully simple.
Elsewhere in the States, JetBlue still mystifies me, if not other observers. The firm’s LiveTV division, noted above, has 1MHz of air-to-ground spectrum over which they could offer certain kinds of services to passengers, but which, so far, has not been deployed for commercial aviation. It seems to be using it, at least in part, for private planes. (The auction requirements for the band had a specific buildout mandate for the larger band that Aircell won. JetBlue’s sliver, which cost about $7 million, was exempted from a build requirement. But the license expires in 2016, at which point the FCC can demand reassignment if JetBlue hasn’t produced a worthwhile-enough service.)
JetBlue has chosen, instead, to focus on satellite, which might make sense since LiveTV already uses a satellite system to pull in television programming for the airlines it serves. JetBlue’s announcement in April was that it would hold out for a Ka-band satellite link, which requires waiting for a particular bird to be lofted this summer. JetBlue says it will start up the service in 2012 on its own planes, followed by those of Continental. But that may be an optimistic launch window.
If I sound dubious about LiveTV, it’s because they spent a few years flying a single plane using the old narrowband analog AirFone technology to allow limited BlackBerry-based email, text-messaging, and instant messaging as a demonstration of Internet service. The BetaBlue plane was an odd throwback, and JetBlue flew it for far too long, finally abandoning the approach in mid-2010.
JetBlue’s service will let it expand more easily outside North America, as satellites know no borders, although each country’s air authority has to provide specific certification of airworthiness for any electronic gear and external antennas installed. in practice, that process has come a long way as more providers offer satellite-based services.
03 June 2011 | news Newsdesk
Budget airline Norwegian is planning to launch direct flights from Scandinavi to Bangkok and from Stockholm to new York from the end of 2012 or beginning of 2013, the company has confirmed.the company plans to operate 3-5 flights a week to the US east coast destination which has become increasingly popular among Swedes keen to exploit the weak dollar to meet their shopping needs.
“We are going to maintain our cut price profile even on the long distance flights,”
FORT WAYNE – Used-car buyers wielding the Kelley Blue Book are seeing red.
Typically, the vehicle price Bible helps consumers negotiate with dealers, but the recession, its lingering effects and other factors have used vehicles at a premium and prices on the rise in northeast Indiana, officials say.
“in a lot of cases you have someone looking for that $5,000 used car, but now it’s $6,500,” said Russ Crumback, past president of the new Car Dealers Association of Fort Wayne and vice president of Crumback-Symons Chevrolet in new Haven.
“It’s a very frustrating phenomenon, not only for business but for consumers.”
Clunkers and confidence are two major reasons behind spiking used car prices.
The federal Cash for Clunkers program of 2009 rewarded consumers with rebates of up to $4,500 if they bought more fuel-efficient vehicles, but it also helped deplete the used-car inventory because the trade-ins were sent to the scrap heap.
Consumer confidence, meanwhile, is still shaky with people not willing to commit to a big-ticket purchase.
“It’s a simple case of supply and demand,” Crumback said. “The biggest contributor is new-car sales are still depressed and so are new trucks when you compare it to where we were before the recession.
“The average age of a car on the road is 9 1/2 years, which means people are keeping their cars longer. When that happens, … fewer used cars are out there.”
Recent research by Cars.com found used-car prices have increased 10 percent, on average, over the past year. although prices were up across the board, spikes were higher for some brands. Hyundai prices were up 22 percent, for example, and Ford prices were up 14 percent.
In extreme cases, used cars have even appreciated in value as they’ve aged. a 2007 Hyundai Elantra with 40,000 miles on it listed last year for $9,900, according to Cars.com. that same car today costs $200 more, even with an extra year and a few thousand more miles on it.
Edmunds.com, another auto industry research site, reported similar findings. Prices for 3-year-old Honda Accords are up 24 percent since September, the website reported. They’re up 12 percent for a Nissan Sentra.
Joe Wiesenfelder, senior editor of Cars.com, said price increases have been the norm since the economy turned in 2008.
Crumback said the shortage does present an upside for consumers – they’re more likely to get better deals for trade-ins.
“There’s no question that there’s a higher value,” he said. “The large trucks and SUVs don’t do as well, though.”
Dealers are paying an average of $11,660 for a used car or truck, up almost 30 percent since December 2008.
“You’re not going to find a situation like this very often,” says Jonathan Banks, executive auto analyst for the National Automobile Dealers Association used-car pricing guide.
Rich Dawson, a manager for Rose City Motors in Fort Wayne, said the business tries to keep prices down by buying vehicles in states where they’re less expensive because of market volume.
“We’ve been going to Pennsylvania, new Hampshire and Georgia for inventory,” he said. “You can forget about trying to buy cars at auctions in Detroit or Toledo because they cost too much.”
Dawson said he sees better times ahead as customers begin to turn in leased vehicles that will eventually hit the used-car circuit.
“these leases will be coming up in (the next few years), but right now there’s a shortage of cars out there,” he said.
In some cases, a consumer might even be better off spending the extra money on a new vehicle, given the rising prices of used cars, industry observers say.
Carroll Lachnit, features editor for Edmunds.com, said supplies of new cars from Japanese carmakers could be down as much as 50 percent this summer as a result of the March tsunami and earthquake, and that could mean more consumers for the used-car market.
And higher gasoline prices will prompt greater consumer interest in fuel-efficient cars, both new and used, she said.
When used-car prices will begin to ease is “anybody’s guess,” Lachnit said. Meanwhile, buyers should do their research. “If you really need a car right now, I would just be realistic about the marketplace and shop smart.”
Scripps Howard News Service and the associated Press contributed to this story.