The lunacy of DRM at 37,000 feet

I do a lot of air travel, and much of it is cross-country. Flights in excess of three hours can really be a drain on energy and productivity if not managed correctly. My usual routine is to break up a lengthy flight into time chunks with some time devoted to work, some for reading, and some for entertainment. My plan today, cruising across the country from Orange County, CA to the Atlanta airport, was to filter through some light reading, spend some productive time on work related things, and mix in some music that I download onto my laptop via the Yahoo!Jukebox service. Today, however, the music part was not meant to be. Instead of firing up a random playlist, I got the following message:

Well, I’m unable to connect to the internet while in the air, so I can’t access music that I’m paying for? I know that the Digital Rights Management (DRM) regime was designed to protect the creative rights (and profits) of artists, but what use is music that I’ve subscribed to, but cannot listen without logging in? Yes, I know that the subscription model requires a routine ‘check in’ with servers to make sure that I’m not ‘stealing’ music. I do, regularly, log Yahoo!Jukebox onto the Yahoo!Music website to check in. I also know that Jukebox was logged in last night. Despite being logged in, this security upgrade was overlooked! This is not the end of the world, but it is pretty frustrating. Now that “His Steveness’ has weighed in on the subject, there may be hope that the music industry will agree to some sort of protective scheme that doesn’t break when you’re cruising at 37,000 feet!

Boeing’s Dreamliner in Jet Airway’s future

Boeing’s Dreamliner is quickly becoming the standard for long haul flights around the world.  While we won’t see these birds in the sky for another year or two, Boeing keeps on selling the 787s in large quantities.  The latest buyer to join the fun is Jet Airways, India’s largest domestic airline.  In the last year or so, Jet has expanded its route structure beyond the sub-continent and the 787 will help establish Jet as the primary Indian player on the international market. 

Jet Airways orders 10 Boeing 787s | Chicago Tribune

The aircraft will be delivered between July 2011 and December 2012, the Mumbai-based airline said in a statement to the Bombay Stock Exchange. The 787-8 has a list price of as much as $157.5 million

USAirways to confiscate your frequent flyer miles

Now, this one defies logic.  USAirways plans on revoking frequent flyer mileage that you’ve earned on their carrier if you do not fly on USAirways for an 18 month consecutive period.  Wow.  From inFlightHQ:

Frequent Flier Miles – Use Them or Lose Them
US Airways announced today that it will be voiding frequent flier miles for members of its Dividend Miles frequent-flier program if they do not fly on US Airways for eighteen months.

Ever since we lost the Hub designation for Pittsburgh International, USAirways’ service out of Pittsburgh has been on a steady decline.  Of course we don’t have all the direct flights that we used to.  Beyond that, we are having to contend with some of the oldest aircraft in the company’s fleet.  I can no longer count on power ports at every seat – what used to be one of the great advantages of flying USAirways.  We’re being exposed to the increasingly obtrusive advertising techniques that America West (USAirways’ merger partner and surviving management team) pioneered – like ads on seat trays.

But, what can we do? 

FedEx dumps Airbus A380, flocks to Boeing

It’s hard to imagine a worse collapse of confidence in product delivery than the one that Airbus is experiencing lately. Not only has its white elephant A380 been delayed numerous times, forcing huge management restructuring, but now major aircraft buyers are canceling their orders and shifting their buying power to Boeing. FedEx is the 1st major that I’ve seen, but I’m sure there will be more:

The world’s largest express transportation company cited Airbus’ production delays and said in a statement that its FedEx Express unit has ordered 15 Boeing Co. 777 freighters with a list price of $3.5 billion and taken options on an additional 15.

Source: FedEx drops A380 order, buys Boeing 777s – Yahoo! News

Being a frequent traveler, I’ve been a big fan of the 777, from a passenger perspective. It seems to be the right size for a jumbo – not too many people crammed in, and the ability to travel great distances with reasonable luxury. Earlier this month Boeing announced a modified 777 that would be capable of traveling from any one point on earth to another point on earth non-stop. I suspect this makes it even more attractive for FedEx, reduced stops leads to greater efficiencies.

From a passenger perspective, last year I took an American Airlines 777 non-stop from Chicago O’Hare to New Delhi. Just a few years ago that would have been unimaginable, but the 777 (and some changes in overflight laws across the former Soviet Union) have made it a reality. While spending 15+ in flight is not something I look forward to, being able to ‘jump’ from the US to India in one shot is unbelievably convenient. I’m sure the FecEx pilots that move cargo all around the world will prefer this approach as well.