Thanks

What I am thankful for this year? Tons.My two lovely boys, Rex and Ben. My lovely and marvelous wife, Lynn. My marvelous family, and my folks' decision to move closer, to Port Townsend from Eugene. My in-laws, a terrific group, that I'm also thankful for spending a week with on Mount Desert Island in Maine. My officemates, Jeff, Larry, Hillary, and Kim, who keep me sane during the working day. A vast array of generous colleagues, with Adam and Tonya Engst first and foremost on the list. It's a pleasure to work so well with people I'm also such good friends with. It's supposed to be impossible! I'm thankful to be so busy, so productive, and so happy. I'm thankful for a full night's sleep last night, too.

Plane Names

Virgin America has named all its in-service planes with monikers like "Tubular Belle" and "Virgin & Tonic" (said that one out loud).I flew on Saturday on three of their craft: Runway Angel on the way down, My Other Ride's a Spaceship for the press flight, and...an unknown plane on the way back! I asked the cabin crew on the commercial flights what the name of the plane was. They didn't know. They promised to find out for me. They did not! When I met David Kush, the CEO of Virgin America, at the press event, after some chitchat, I mentioned that the cabin crew didn't seem to know the monikers. For a serene guy, he was momentarily nonplussed. "They should know that!" The point of naming the planes is part of the overall Virgin America aesthetic: making flight more comfortable, personal, entertaining, and interesting. They're only partway there, to be sure, but it's clear they're also trying. The one flaw I experienced was that the seatback entertainment system, Red, is a little sluggish and buggy. I wasn't able on the flights between SEA and SFO to watch almost any of the live TV stations--there was a satellite issue with a technical error screen (that I'd also seen on Delta Airlines in-flight system recently). The touchscreen aspect is pretty poor: it's not gesture based, and tap recognition is very coarse and poor on the three different screens I use across three flights. Given that Delta and Virgin's system looked awfully similar, I suspect there are very few vendors for this kind of thing.

2,000 Miles to Nowhere

You know how you sometimes are flying, and due to delays or other problems, you think, I just spent hours on planes getting nowhere. Yesterday, I specifically just that--purposely.I was invited a few weeks ago to attend a press event in San Francisco for Virgin America that would take reporters, some notional celebrities, and others up and around the airport to launch Virgin America's in-flight Internet service. (Some meager photos I took. My coverage over at Wi-Fi Networking News.) Because I'm a journalist, I couldn't accept travel to SFO (nor did Virgin offer), but I found an incredibly cheap round-trip--on Virgin America ($160 for a same-day itinerary). The event started at 2.30 pm and the plane was scheduled to take off around 3.30 or 4 and land around 5.30 to dovetail with some YouTube event that was coordinated with the flight. We had two real celebrities on board from NBC's 30 Rock: Katrina Bowden (the pretty young thing, Tina Fey's assistant), and Keith Powell, one of the writers (his character went to Harvard, but I don't hold it against him). I got to Seatac at about 11.20 for 12.20 pm flight. Security was quick--they've definitely improved flow and are taking measures that I think involve more scrutiny with less hassle. I noticed this on our flight to Maine a few weeks ago. Less security theater, more help, more attentiveness. Once inside the security bubble, I didn't leave it until 11 pm last night! I flew into SFO, walked to the gate the reception was happening at (inside the same terminal, a real problem at SFO which has a lot of cases in which you have to leave and re-enter security), flew the Wi-Fi flight, landed, ate supper, and got on another plane. It was a bit surreal, partly because of the kind of event, and partly to spend the day at the airport. I probably flew at least 2,000 miles, spending nearly six hours in the air--all to get back to Seattle.

What's That Smell? Your Hosting Service

I just launched a very modest blog on Sunday called ItDied (at ItDied.com, naturally). The idea of the blog is to track hosting services as they go under. There are a lot failing all of a sudden and many, many more to come. In some cases, this might be a photo service that gives its customers 24 hours' notice about their business shutting down (true!); in another, it could be Google providing 3 months' notice of a change (also true).I didn't find anyone tracking these shutdowns, where your "cloud"-stored data might evaporate as the sunshine of a bad economy comes out (or some horrible metaphor like that). I'll try to provide references for people where there's a reasonable place to migrate data, if such a place exists, too.