Archive for January, 2010

Flylight : Self-Weighing Luggage

Flylight

It is a common sight at the airport, people struggling to redistribute items in their bags, between check-in and cabin luggage, or between cabin luggage of two or more people travelling on the same itinerary etc. Why? They’ve inevitably went overweight with one of the bags and trying to find a solution without incurring further charges.

Of course, it takes an entrepreneur (or two) to identify a gap in the market and be innovative. Introducing Flylight, a self-weighing luggage. Yup, luggage with built-in weighing scale so that travellers are not left guessing the total weight before they even get to the airport. Particularly handy when one doesn’t have a weighing scale at home. (Watch the video on their site to see how to use this nifty weighing function.)

Brainchild of Noel Regan and Pat Madigan, Flylight come in sets of twos – one suitable for cabin luggage (even by Ryanair’s measurement) and one larger size for check-in luggage. Retailing at €79.99 per set, it does seem good value although it may be a while before reviews come in to evaluate how sturdy are these weighing scale, particularly for check-in luggage which are liable to be handled roughly by baggage handlers.

If you have any experience using Flylight, let us know how they fare. Are they providing good value for money? Are they durable? Is the scale accurate? Would you recommend this for frequent travellers? Leave us a comment below.

Science Gallery M+, take II

So a couple of days ago, I voiced my opinion of what I thought about Science Gallery M+ scheme. Seems like I’m not the only current member to react to it, as I see this little snippet in the newsletter I received today from Dublin Event Guide for Free Events.

Joerg opined it as “this is odd”.

SCIENCE GALLERY NOW WANTS YOUR MONEY

My beloved and often highly praised Science Gallery dropped dramatically in my estimation. It is not that they are showing awful exhibitions (“What if” was not as great as others, but nevertheless interesting.), instead they decided to downgrade all their loyal members by raising the bar. Membership in the Science Gallery was always free and it included a few perks. As a member you got a 10% discount on tickets for non-free events, and on purchases in the shop and café and you got access to some events that were only available to the members.

We are now told that they need to raise money and therefore are introducing the wonderful Membership PLUS programme. Only problem is that the “PLUS” Members don’t get anything extra. Instead they get for EUR 30 per year (temporarily discounted to EUR 20 if you “upgrade” before 10 Feb) the perks that the non-Plus members previously got for free. And even worse: all normal members will not get ANY perks anymore. BAD move, dear Science Gallery! Kicking the 8500 people in the backside that felt passionate enough about the Science Gallery to join up, is not smart marketing.

By the way, I am not complaining about the fact that the Science Gallery needs to make money. Sure, it is a pity, but THEY need to decide what is needed to keep the “show” running. However, I wonder if it wouldn’t have been a better idea to charge an admission charge of just 1 Euro (not more!) from every visitor. With 500,000 visitors since the Science Gallery was opened 2 years ago, this might be a much better approach. http://www.sciencegallery.com/membership_plus

I can certainly understand Joerg’s point of view. He has, over the last couple of years, regularly promotes Science Gallery to thousand of subscribers to his newsletter, your truly included, because he genuinely cares about what’s going on in Science Gallery. His stand and mine is not at all too different – we both found it perplexing to have nearly everything taken away from the loyal regular members.

Happy bin

Happy bin

Street spotting: a cheerfully decorated bin. Cute, right?

Science Gallery Membership Plus

Nano logo of Science Gallery

Do you know the Science Gallery?

If you don’t, you should check it out sometimes – they have some pretty amazing exhibitions and since its launch nearly two years ago, they’ve brought us, among others, Lightwave, Lab in the Gallery: Pay Attention, Bubble and most recently, What If.

The exhibitions are free to enter, but participations in certain events and experiments are fee-paying. Visitors of the Science Gallery may apply for a free membership, which perks include free wi-fi at the Science Gallery, a 10% discount from Flux Café, discounted event tickets, advanced invitations to events at the Science Gallery, etc.

But in the times of funding cuts, sustaining the level of activities while maintaining the high standard means Science Gallery is now looking for an alternative mean to raise some money.

Introducing Science Gallery Membership Plus.

Its cost is €30 annually, €20 for students. For anyone who sign up before 10 February, the price is discounted to €20 and they’ll also throw in a free invitation to the LOVELAB preview party and a behind the scenes tour of the show.

With this introduction, they’re taking away most of the perks that basic members have been able to enjoy so far and shift those privileges only to paying members. Yup, from the transition date of 10 February onwards, no more free wi-fi, no more 10% discount at Flux Café, no more discounted event tickets. Basic members will retain access to the Science Gallery website and event ticket bookings only.

What bugs me a little is that this whole thing is akin to scamming trade promotions, when you’re promised certain perks until they decided they’re going to raise the bar in order to enjoy more or less the same perks again. Why can’t they just add new perks for the fee-paying members? Or take away only some, not all, of the practical perks that most members use?

Moreover, how is this bringing the membership to the next level (quoting the e-mail I received)? No matter the spin, this looks like paying to get the membership to the same previous level, except now my profile will have a nice little badge that says “Member Plus”. I’d rather they come out and say directly that membership is no longer free. I would have understand the need to introduce the fee, and happily paid for it.

Even I admit that €30 per annum is not too much, but it would be nice to think that the Science Gallery hasn’t just gone all elitist suddenly… and that’s how I felt when they try to sugarcoat the intent behind this initiative.

Dublin Michelin recognition 2010

Michelin Guide UK & Ireland 2010

The Michelin guide 2010 for UK and Ireland has been leaked by Amazon, causing another rushed release ahead of schedule. (It was also leaked ahead of the official release last year.)

Regarded by many as the ultimate best restaurants bible, you may or may not agree with their assessments. I’m lucky that I’ve dined in most of the Michelin-star adorned restaurants in Dublin, some out of interest in the early days before they even receive the recognitions, some out of generosity of my aunt who never hesitated in giving me a treat at these establishments.

Let’s see which eateries in Dublin made the cut for this edition.

2 Stars:
Patrick Guilbaud (Upper Merrion Street, D2)

1 Star:
Bon Apetit (Malahide)
Chapter One (Parnell Square North, D1)
L’Ecrivain (Upper Baggot Street, D2)
Thornton’s at Fitzwilliam Hotel (St Stephen’s Green, D2)

Bib Gourmand – New Additions:
La Maison (formerly La Maison des Gourmets, Castlemarket Street, D2)
Pichet (Trinity Street, D2)
The Pig’s Ear (Nassau Street, D2)

Mint Restaurant (Ranelagh, D6) has been stripped of their one star because, as some are aware of, it shut down last year just before the summer. In its place, Dillinger’s opened just last November, and it’s on my list of new places to try.

Additionally, Bang Café (Merrion Row, D2) and The Winding Stair (Ormond Quay, D1) lost their Bib Gourmand recognition. Just to clarify, Bib Gourmand refers to places that offer good food at moderate prices.

I was actually in Pichet and The Pig’s Ear just before Christmas, with photos taken but the review not yet written. Pichet is already doing very well, although I was thinking it’s somewhat pricey for the portion size (not a problem for Michelin’s assessment as they’re eyeing more at quality as opposed to quantity but definitely a consideration at times of recession for diners). The Pig’s Ear, I wondered, if was suffering from a less-than-ideal location despite being quite central. The last couple of times I was in there, it was very quiet and now that they’re being recognised for the quality food that they serve, I hope they’ll do better in terms of business volume but not changing the price structure majorly. That will make me quite sad…

Look like I’ll have to make a trip out to Malahide sometimes soon. That’s the only place on this list that I have not personally experienced.

What do you think? Do you have other favourite restaurants that you believe merit a Michelin recognition?

A little water…

Happy 2010 everyone!

It’s rather amazing that we’re already two weeks into the new year, and somehow it felt like so little had been achieved in this time frame.

Blanketed under inches of snow and sleet, and icy weather abound, the first ten days or so saw the country coming to a relative stand still. The pace of life slowed down, and the fracas over mismanagement of road maintenance had plenty of people irked and annoyed, and rather inconvenienced.

Waterdrops

Gradually, in the last few days, things began thawing up as the temperature climbs back to what is the norm at this time of year. Indeed, -10°C is not something we’re accustomed to, more so when extended over days, not just hours. A single digit above 0°C works nicely really.

But of course, now we’re facing new problems, of flooding and of water shortage. Yup, a country with plenty of rain having water shortages, no thanks to the bursting pipes following the big freeze.

The various city councils are implementing water restrictions, with some water mains being shut off or the pressure lowered in different areas, in order to conserve water as well as necessitate various reparation. Dubliners should keep an eye on notices on the website of the Dublin City Council, especially if you find yourself suddenly without water supply. Chances are, it’s a scheduled shut-down and there’s no need to panic – the water will be back up, usually overnight in these cases.

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