It’s been a while sooooooooo… let’s do the news!
– Richard Branson’s Virgin America had their inaugural flight last week. The airline, which focuses on quality service and amenities more than cheap fares, will initially have service to and from New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Washington DC. This guy has posted a walkthrough of some of the neat technology the airline uses (example: there are 3000 mp3s stored on board each plane; you can use the in-flight entertainment system to make playlists, and the system is tied in to their frequent flyer database, so you can have the same playlist on the way back as you did on the way out). Be sure to check out his Flicker album from the tour.
– In a related note about airlines, Italian airline Alitalia is apparently up for sale. The CEO of Irish-based Ryanair told reporters on Wednesday that he wouldn’t take the airline, even if were free.
– Have you heard of Jeffrey Chodorow? People outside the NYC area might know of this restaurateur from NBC’s The Restaurant, where Chodorow constantly butted heads with celebrity chef (and prima donna employee) Rocco DiSpirito. Anyway, China Grill, Chodorow’s flagship Manhattan restaurant, was recently closed by order of the NYC health department. Nice!
– Speaking of food, a recent study suggests that blue corn tortilla might have important health benefits. Specifically, they are high in antioxidants, have more protein that white or yellow corn tortillas, and are lower in starch than their cousins.
– Here’s a neat trick to avoid the fee CoinStar charges you to change coins into dollars: most CoinStar machines charge you around 8.9% to convert change into “real” money; however, most machines also allow you to convert your “balance” to an Amazon gift certificate without the fee. So what you do is select an Amazon gift certificate as your payout, but then you reach around to the back of the machine and unplug the phone cable. The CoinStar machine will then attempt to connect to an Amazon server (but won’t be able to ‘cos you disconnected the cable). It will then give you an error message and give you the full amount in cash (well, it’ll give you a receipt that you can take to the service desk to exchange for cash). I don’t know how legal this is, or how long it’ll be before CoinStar updates the firmware on their system to prevent this, so handle with care. This “hack” apparently scared the folks at Engadget enough to remove the instructions from the original post.
– Elton John is still an idiot. Now he wants to shut down the Internet.
– Speaking of rock stars, Keith Richards is writing a book about his life. I can’t wait to get my hands on it! Can you imagine the stories he’d have to tell?? The mind reels!
– If you think Wal Mart’s bad here, you should see how they operate in Mexico! The company is accused of using 4300 unpaid teenagers as baggers in their stores. The kids apparently work for tips only, and Wal Mart actually has the hubris to call them “volunteers” instead of “unpaid workers”!
– And lastly, some fun stuff: this guy shows you how to pimp your credit card with any design you want (NSFW WARNING: one of the cards he pimps has a nude picture of a young Marilyn Monroe on it). It’s always fun to see what Chinese knock-off brands are on the market these days! And let your dog get even with the Michael Vick Dog Chew Toy! (Sadly it looks like the NFL Trademark Police have gotten to the owners of the site; the toy used to have Vick in a near-perfect copy of a Falcons uniform… now it’s just a generic black jersey with a “7” on it).