Wednesday, 30 September 2009

The E-Gate: A Time Saving Device

Once again, a classic example of "the road to hell is paved with good intentions".

Touted as another time-saving device and bastion of efficiency, the new E-Gate system for resident card holders is now out of its experimental phase and has been brought fully online for mainstream use at Muscat International Airport.

How to use it? Simple!

Insert your resident's card into the machine - just like the picture that is taped to it.
Walk through the glass barrier when it opens.
Stop in the middle and turn to your right to face the "interrogation" screen. It's quite friendly and it even has a picture of a hand, telling you which finger to put onto the sensor to be scanned.

Then, when the machine has decided that you are who your resident's card claims you to be, it opens the second set of glass doors and you are free to go, with a cheery "Thank you" from the machine.

However, just like the parking ticket dispensers with, oh my God, no buttons!....a certain requirement has been overlooked: an IQ above 100.

I recently came in off a flight and having landed, I got chatting with a guy from Europe who was visiting for a few days business in Muscat. We got on the business class bus and disembarked at the terminal, whereupon we saw the Mumbai flight had arrived and he groaned at the visa queue.
"We're in for a long wait!" he said.

With a smug smile on my face, I displayed my resident's card and said "Not me, buddy! I'm off to the E-Gate! Where I just swipe....and go! See ya!"

I arrived at the gate. About twenty people in front of me.
The following occurred for about eighteen of them:

Push card into machine, except put in it upside down, completely ignoring the photo-guide.
Watch in horror as the machine goes beep.
Push it in again. This time a bit harder because that always works, doesn't it?
Have a stunted conversation with the Immigration guy about the machine not working and then finally either through blind luck or someone else's charity, put card in the right way.

Walk through the glass doors, fuming, and then walk straight into the opposite glass barrier with enough force to actually lift the machine off the ground.
Take a half step back and try to push your way through again, ignoring the voice from the machine that is trying to get your attention.
Look in utter incomprehension at the Immigration guy again as he points, for the thousandth time that day to the fingerprint scanner.

Look at the screen.
Bend at the waist and squint at the information on it, again ignoring the aural instructions.
Fumble around in your bag for your glasses, then drop them, and bash your head on the side of the display panel as you retrieve them.

For at least ten seconds, so it really sinks in, stare at the picture of the thumb being shown on the screen and then place your index finger on the scanner, because on your planet, that is where your thumb is.

Ogle quizzically at the screen again as it beeps and tells you that you have made an error.
Ignore the picture of the thumb again and turn to the crowd with a spastic look on your face that says "I should not be allowed to travel anywhere without proper supervision."

Wait for someone with a vastly higher IQ than you, to step forward and, with a tone of voice normally used on high-risk inmates at an insane asylum, show you which digit to place on the scanner.

Only another nineteen folks to go - by which stage, my friend from the bus is already in his suite at the InterCon.

Time taken per person: about 2 minutes for most - apart from the "special" ones who try and smash their way through the barrier and then require knee physio.

OAMC and the rest of need to sit down and actually think these things through!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Eid Mubarak

I wish you all a pleasant few days for Eid.
HM has been very generous in giving Jet Driver and his colleagues the entire week off!

Therefore, I am now about to board a First Class flight to an exotic location in South East Asia where I will be met by an even more exotic young lady who is rather keen to see me!

If any of you are reading this at the airport......I am in the lounge, so come up and say hello!

The only thing is that there are quite a few folks in here with a laptop.....which one of them is me? And if you asked me, would I tell you anyway?!

Eid Mubarak my darlings!

Mwah! JD

Sunday, 13 September 2009

A Simple Lesson

A, B, C, D, E, F, Geeeeeeeeeee......

Why can't they stick to this tried and trusted format for putting things on the shelves in my favourite place in City Centre?
Yes, indeed! A multicultural mish-mash of employees from Oman, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and The Philippines and they still can't keep the place ship-shape.

One can imagine the Life Of Brian style scene when one of them takes a massive evolutionary leap and says:

"I've just had an amaaaaaaaazing moment of clarity! Those black and white signs above the shelves, yeah? Yeah? You know the ones? They're there to help us!"

Lots of quizical looks and yawning from the staff of the "Information" section and then a sudden pause in the texting and nail-picking....

"We have to put each book in it's proper place! And, and, and.......then use something I read about called the "alphabet" to further categorize each author!"


"BET! Alphabet! It's like a list of the order in which the letters of the English language come in!"

It is driving me mad, and it is getting worse!
Last week, I found a book about hedge funds in.....yep, you've guessed it.....the Gardening section.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Ze Plane! Ze Plane!

Lots of screaming and shouting going on around Azaiba and Mawaleh now that the "transport solution" for the RAF is in full swing.
The requirement was for an aircraft with a very large cargo space inside, that could operate on a host of runway surfaces from asphalt to gravel to compressed sand - AND had great short field performance.
There were no new Globemasters available - so you get the next best thing - the Ilyushin 76.

To a pilot, or an anorak plane-spotter, this machine is about as good as it gets. I can remember for years during the Cold War, all we had were grainy black and white photos of it, gleaned from US spyplanes and secret agents with bow-tie cameras.

Now we get to see them every day and they are awesome!
Yes, they keep some of you awake at night - but that's a small price to pay to have them here.
Personally, I love watching a fully loaded one of these, trying to launch itself into the sky and struggling with the relative humidity so just keeping it low level until the speed goes up.

If you want to see an Ilyushin 76 getting it all out of shape - one only has to look at this video. A real eye-opener for our Azaiba and Mawaleh chums!

I'm having my fun.....and that is all that matters! Mwah!