Archive for February, 2009

Att. Bloggers n Photographers: Pixie Party at St Patrick’s Festival

stpatfestJust got info from Pixie, about their upcoming competition and their project to document this year’s St. Patrick’s Festival photos, from all users attending this year’s festival. They have created a group for the festival, here, so don’t forget to bring along your DLSR’s, compact cameras or mobile cameras and share the festival spirit with the world. They are also running a competition for finding THE moment for this year festival, more info here, and some exciting prizes are waiting to be won.

There is also some very exciting news for bloggers & photobloggers & pixie users, selected few would be invited and giving access to watch from VIP area or Festival grandstand, golden passes and more. Read more info about “how you can help?” on their blog.

For more up-to-date information, go to their blog, or follow @pixie / @stpatricksfest on twitter.

Sounds very interesting and am going to get my camera ready for it / are you?, good work @pixie and organizers of St. Patrick’s festival.

More Ryanair "fun"

Ryanair is clearly desperate to stay in public eyes and certainly believes in the mantra “no publicity is bad publicity”!

Last week, it was all about abolishing desk check-in service. Earlier this week, they went on blogger bash fest. And today, what that comes in as “breaking news” on Irish Times and BBC is the plan to introduce charges to use toilets on board! Whoa! What’s next? Charging a pregnant woman because she’s clearly carrying “extra passenger” with her?

You know, I’ve always defended Ryanair’s to my friends with “have no expectation and you won’t be disappointed” and “what you see on the tin is what you get” but it’s getting harder and harder to side with them. I’ve fly often with them and so far, so good. (Touch wood!) But sometimes, extreme measures like this really made me go, blah…

If I can afford it, I would choose to fly with different flight operators but until then, I’d just chalk this to another of their madness that I’m going to shrug off. Not that I’ve ever use their toilets on board come to think of it. Afterall, I only fly with them for short-haul (2 hours max) flights and I never really like the sorry excuse of a small, usually disgusting, cabin that’s being passed off as lavatory. That also explains why I could never understand why anyone sane would go for a tryst or attempt to join the so-called mile high club in one. Seriously unclassy.

Tiger, tiger...

Tiger, tiger...

The Big Switch!

The Big Switch

This should really have been blogged last week but while it was on my radar, I’ve been up to my eyes with a gazillion and one tasks to complete. (In fact, this switch is also on my to-do list.)

Anyway.

Finally.

An electricity service provider that promises substantial saving on the crazy utility prices, no thanks to the years of monopoly that ESB had.

To be honest, I am a bit annoyed with ESB at the moment, as I’ve just received our latest household bill. They had just up the rate of electricity unit (with effect from January 2009) from €0.1597 to €0.1640! At time of recession and economic downturn, and where the price of oil worldwide had came down (they previously sought for the green light for an increase on the premise that oil price was too high), this is really quite unacceptable.

At the heel of the receipt of this bill, it reminded me of the Bord Gáis’ The Big Switch that I saw through an announcement on their website. I’d wager you have heard all about it too, even if you’re not already a current customer of Bord Gáis, given it was written up well on the Irish Times’ PriceWatch, they’re advertising it everywhere (including Facebook!) and everyone is talking about it. The changeover is really quite simple – just sign up for the switch and Bord Gáis will take care of everything else.

As pointed out by the Irish Times, consumers who change over their provider from ESB to Bord Gáis stand to enjoy a saving of up to nearly 24% – that’s a lot of money that you and I can do with in our own pockets right now. I’m switching mine with immediate effect, well, after reading and understanding the terms and conditions involved of course.

Where was Matt dancing?

OK, something a little light-hearted for a change. This video has been making its mark on the cyberspace for a while now, and it doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. Since it features Dublin in the course of this video, why not share it here?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlfKdbWwruY[/youtube]

Out of curiosity, I did a count and there were 68 cities visited throughout the course of the video, from 42 countries. To travel all these places within 14 months is very impressive. Of course it helps to have a sponsor that pays for the travel.

Considering my travels are all self-funded, I’m proud to say I’ve been to 13 of the 68 cities featured in this clip. Yay! Of course there are places that I’ve been which Matt hasn’t, and vice versa. I’m hoping to be able to hit the road in reasonably near future and who knows where my next travel adventure will bring me to… ;-)

Ryanair and no desk check-in?

Ryanair has been in the news a good bit again this week, and for a change it’s not about yet another attempt on hostile takeover of Aer Lingus or advertisement infringement etc.

Instead, they’re introducing a new fleet of flights that allow in-flight mobile phone calls. Well, of course, this is a service that comes with a price (check this press release) and is currently available only to Vodofone and O2 customers. To be honest – can people really not wait till they arrive at their destinations to make further contacts etc? The plane is the only mode of transport where I don’t have to hear incessant ring tones of phone calls and text messages coming in (personally I keep my mobile on silent at all time), and I can also do without hearing one sided conversation (for some reason, a lot of people increases the decibel when speaking over the phone in comparison to talking to someone while seated side by side).

Never mind. I don’t think this will be a major issue since most people probably wouldn’t be too keen on paying the exhorbitant fees. Afterall there is a reason why people are flying Ryanair despite all the grumbles about their charges and service – they’re the cheapest option to fly in/out of Dublin to European destinations. Therefore money matters.

Another piece of news that I just saw on BBC is their plan to scrap desk check-in service. I can’t find any details yet from their website, but it certainly raises a few questions.

Currently, online check-in service is only available to EU/EEA passport holders with hand luggage. Other international travellers and anyone who has luggage to check in must pay additionally for desk check-in service. Already this is obligating many to travel light (which is not a bad thing to be honest) and it’s also rather unfair that international travellers be charged more by the nature of their citizenship.

Now, if the desk check-in is to be abolished:

1. Travellers who have hold luggage must check in online then drop off the luggage at bag drop. I’m imagining chaos with this if the tags were not put properly etc and there is need for someone to man the bag drop anyway, so how is this different from having desk check-in?

2. Will this be a sneaky way to re-introduce some kind of online check-in charges to all travellers at some stage in the future?

3. What happens to international, non-EU/EEA travellers? Can they now suddenly avail of online check-in whereas previously they can’t (for reasons unknown – or the faible “it’s for security purposes” without further explanations) or will they just not able to travel with Ryanair anymore?

I guess only time will tell what Ryanair’s full plan is. They are always full of surprises and implement radical changes, enough to confuse anyone who doesn’t travel regularly with them. Frequent travellers on Ryanair know full well what the score is and I’d imagine by now have benefited in the experiece to become one of the most unflappable air passengers in the world.

Ireland protesting!

In all the years living in Dublin, I have yet to seen so many demonstrations and marches organised in the city. Until this year. With so many issues nagging at the population left, right and center, on top of economic downturn, more and more people are taking to the streets to make their voices heard.

Earlier in the year, the atrocity of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians saw a series of protests held in the city in succession. So far, the various protests and marches since January:

03.01.2009 : Anti-war Groups against Gaza Bombing
10.01.2009 : Anti-war Groups against Gaza Bombing
13.01.2009 : Anti-war Groups against Gaza Bombing
17.01.2009 : Anti-war Groups against Gaza Bombing
02.02.2009 : Taxi Drivers against Deregulation
02.02.2009 : Busworkers’ Action Group against Transports Cutbacks
04.02.2009 : Union of Students in Ireland (USI) against Fees Reintroduction
05.02.2009 : Taxi Drivers against Deregulation
06.02.2009 : Taxi Drivers against Deregulation
09.02.2009 : Taxi Drivers against Deregulation
09.02.2009 : Teachers United against Education Underfunding
11.02.2009 : Dublin Bus Action Group against Transports Cutbacks
16.02.2009 : Union of Students in Ireland (USI) against Fees Reintroduction
17.02.2009 : Taxi Drivers against Deregulation
18.02.2009 : Garda Representative Association (GRA) against Government’s New Pension Levy
18.02.2009 : Civil, Public and Services Union (CPSU) against Government’s New Pension Levy
18.02.2009 : Dublin Bus/ SIPTU against Transports Cutbacks

And upcoming protests and strikes, including one tomorrow:

21.02.2009 : National Demonstration organised by ICTU, 2pm, Parnell Street to Dáil Éireann
25.02.2009 : Garda Representative Association (GRA) against Government’s New Pension Levy (morning)
26.02.2009 : Civil, Public and Services Union (CPSU) One-Day Strike
28.02.2009 : Dublin Bus/ NBRU One-Day Strike
01.03.2009 : Dublin Bus/ SIPTU All-Out Strike (from this date, possibly ongoing)
09.03.2009 : Dublin Bus/ NBRU One-Day Strike
10.03.2009 : Dublin Bus/ NBRU One-Day Strike

With regards to strikes, it’s prudent for commuters to pay particular attentions to them. Usually, per what is norm for Dublin, such strikes may be averted following union-authority discussions. But given the unsettled times, who know what’s next?

Have they affected you? – Dublin Bus Cuts

In city center, I came across this poster regarding the Dublin Bus Cuts. In current economic conditions, when the govt. should be supporting more and better public transportation, reducing it by 10% is not a good start for its citizens. Personally, I use No. 11A or B to go to work whenever the weather doesn’t allow me use the bike and last week, I waited for almost 20-25 min. and after that two of them came together. If the dublin bus cuts are affecting you, why not send an email to neasa@ien.ie and tell them about it. [Small print on the photo says:] The Irish Environmental  Network is campaigning to have the bus services increased and not reduced.  Check www.ien.ie for more details.

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