Virgin America vs. JetBlue

Drivel, Reviews 2 Comments »

On Friday, February 1st my wife and I had the experience on traveling via Virgin America from KSFO to KJFK. They just recently started providing domestic service and tout such amenities on the plane as mood lighting, power at every seat and an interactive seat-back entertainment system. AFAIK, this is the highest level of technology implemented in coach class at-seat amenities to date. I have also flown JetBlue (albeit from KSMF to KJFK) which provides a TV at every seat as well, although it acts as a standard television rather than an interactive system.

Red, the name of Virgin America’s seat back system, is novel at first, but my excitement faded as the interface was laggy and the TV quality was quite low. Both my wife and I had issues receiving some live television stations, and other stations were pixelated and annoying to watch. Perhaps the difference in signal quality is that Virgin uses Dish Network and JetBlue is on DirecTV. Red also offers an array of on-demand videos (tv shows, music videos) to be streamed to your seat, as well as a wide array of music stations to listen to. You can order snacks, meals and drinks right from your screen, and, by using the included controller, you can chat with other people on the plane, or play some of the included games.

If we consider that the price to fly these two airlines is generally the same (give or take a bit), the seats in coach are just as cramped, and the flight times are exactly the same, I’d still take Virgin America over JetBlue only for the fact that it has power at every seat. This means that no matter what kind of entertainment they provide on board, as long as I can plug in my laptop I can watch any entertainment that I bring along. This past trip we watched a few episodes of Futurama and Good Night, and Good Luck. Once they were completed, I was still able to use my laptop to do some programming I wanted to get done.

The Virgin America crew was friendly, the plane was clean, and it was about as enjoyable as a coach class flight across the country could be. With any luck the airline will be around for a long time and will expand its array of electronics and connectivity enabling it to be on the bleeding edge of technology at 35000 feet.

Zend Studio for Eclipse, Take 1

Geek, PHP Development, Reviews 1 Comment »

Zend Studio for Eclipse has finally arrived! I’ve been waiting for this upgrade for years. Zend Studio, in its previous incarnation, was certainly no slouch of a product. I’ve been using it since version 4. Aside from various Java platform issues, their product was extremely stable and increased my productivity over using other less featured editors.

My experience with Eclipse began in college while taking advanced programming courses in Java. It was an amazing product back then, and has only grown better since. However, the marriage of Zend Studio to Eclipse has proven to be a bit of a disappointment. Perhaps it is because I’m too used to the way that Studio 5.5 works and need to shift my IDE paradigm back to Eclipse. Maybe it’s the difference in how the system is configured by the preferences. Either way, it will take a bit of time to get used to and that’s just not something that I can afford at my job right now. Using Studio for Eclipse will have to be a weekend project to slowly ween myself off of 5.5 and learn how to manipulate Eclipse to assist, rather than hinder, my development.

One of the major pieces of integration that I’m interested in the new version of Studio is how well it handles remote files. My current development process requires that I use ssh/sftp to open and save files to a remote file system. In Zend Studio Neon (their beta version of the Eclipse integration, as well as in Eclipse in general), remote filesystem access was still a bit lacking and buggy. At first glance, it seems as if they have figured this out in Studio for Eclipse. However, I’m running into issues building the workspace through the remote filesystem. It’s slow and bogs down the Java process so I can’t develop while it’s building. I tried, heaven help me, to stop the build process, which locked up Studio, and now I can’t seem to open Zend Studio for Eclipse at all.

As for right now, I’m going to uninstall it and try re-installing over the weekend and playing around a bit more. They may call it Studio 6.0.0 — however, I think I need to treat this as a 1.0 release. Overall, I don’t think this release will be stable enough for me to use until a few more rounds of bug fixes, but I certainly like the direction that the platform is heading.


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