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Day 2: Take Two

Stupid winter

I spent a few hours on the phone with Expedia and Turkish airlines. When the Expedia guy told me about the $430 rebooking fee, he neglected to mention the "plus difference in ticket price" part. Not surprisingly, a same-day ticket to India is quite a bit more than one booked a month in advance. In short, they wanted almost $2000 to rebook the flight.

First, I don't have a spare $2000 kicking around; secondly, other airlines are offering the same flight for about $500 less, no strings attached. Nonetheless, not something could afford.

The Turkish Airways rep added fuel to the fire by telling me they will not honour the return portion of my return ticket, because I was a "no-show" for the first segment. Some bullshit about airline policy. The fuck they wouldn't. Now it's personal.

Feb 23 note: Planning on showing up for return flight (still noted as valid on website). If I have to buy a ticket I will sue and take this "policy" to the Supreme Court if I have to.

I spent a few hours researching and considering my options. The one I ended up choosing was a $600 one-way flight through Priceline.com, offered after a failed name-your-own-price attempt.

With only 2 hours to departure, I dropped everything and headed to the airport (checking first for my passport), dropped off the rental car, and made it to the gate with 30 minutes to spare.

Day 1: False Starts and Turkish Hospitality

Turkish Hospitality

They say that absent mindedness and brilliance often come together and in proportion to one another.

On February 10, I must have been particularly brilliant.

Not one to pack weeks, or days, or day in advance, I do nonetheless take an organized and thorough approach. I had started my packing list and to-do-before-departure list days before. I had to make a few sacrifices on the to-do list, but the packing list was complete; by my departure date everything was packed, checked twice, and so reflected on the list.

I had heard a wise travel trip is to photocopy all your important documents: passport, visa, driver's license, etc. The idea is to make two copies: one to take with you, in case you somehow are separated from the originals, and another to leave at home in the security of a loved one, perhaps to provide to the consulate in the event of disaster or decree of war. I followed this advice to the letter. Better safe than sorry!

After a relatively productive day at the office, Sarah and I drove to the airport, with a brief stop for supper at the South Side Burger Company. I arrived at the airport 2.5 hours before my departure time, and kissed my sticky-bun adieu.

I stopped briefly on the way to the Turkish Airlines ticket counter to ready my documents for inspection and receipt of my boarding pass.

Oh fuck.

No, wait.

Shit.

My passport was curiously absent from my backpack. Immediately, I knew exactly where it was.

I approached the friendly ticket clerk. "I have a problem," I began, explaining my situation. After a brief exchange of words, we had a plan. I would simply connect with Sarah, who would be delighted to retrieve my passport from whence I left it (the platen of the photocopier of course), rushing it back to me at the airport with plenty of time to meet the plane at my gate. "I will explain the situation to my supervisor," the clerk explained. I would get my passport 30-45 minutes before the flight, head through security, to my gate with time left to peruse the magazines at the gift shop. "You are checked in, and we only need to see your passport."

Moments later I received an SMS confirming that I was checked in, along with a confirmation code.

Getting in touch with Sarah was tricky, but she nonetheless came through for me. Some 90 minutes later, my passport in hand, I rushed to the ticket counter to collect my boarding pass.

It was unstaffed. All the ticket agents had disappeared, and with 45 minutes remaining before my flight, not even the supervisor was in sight. I had already checked in, so maybe I didn't need a physical boarding pass. Most airlines got rid of those years ago.

SMS confirmation code in hand, I rushed to the security line to get to my gate. The guard at the entry to the security queue stopped me and demanded my boarding pass. I explained that I didn't have one, and that I couldn't get one because all the ticket agents were gone, and that I had an electronic confirmation do-jiggerer right here, and "I need boarding pass. I must scan barcode."

I spent 5 minutes trying to find anyone resembling a Turkish Airlines agent to no avail. I appealed to a helpful looking airport employee. She suggested I pick up the info help phone and ask the to page the Turkish Airlines supervisor. Brilliant!

I picked up the phone and waited while it auto-dialed my new best friend, perched to make my request. Sadly my new best friend had an automated call attendant, but that was OK. My call was important to him, I just needed to stay on the line. The call duration timer on the help phone incremented. 0:10... 0:30... 1:00... 5:00... 10:00... 16:00... and he granted my wish.

I sat by the ticket counter in anticipation of the page, and the apologetic supervisor rushing to print my pass. Some 10 minutes later, I heard the page at last.

No one came.

Desperate, I ran back to security to reason with the guard. Maybe I just didn't explain myself well enough. You see, I've checked in already. I'm good to go.

"I need barcode."

Back at the ticket counter I sat hopefully. A security guard noticed that I was in an empty queue to speak to a non-existant agent. He directed me toward a Turkish Airlines office where I found a person to hear my woes. She pointed out that the flight was leaving now ,and there was no way I could be aboard.

"What are my options?" I pleaded.

"There is another flight at the same time tomorrow. You will need to take that one."

With acceptance, I agreed, "OK, please put me on that one." This is the point where companies with exemplary customer service shine. They empower their front-line staff to solve problems quickly and with empathy for their travel-weary pax. A few keystrokes, and I'd be all set for Plan B. Unfortunately, I was flying Turkish Airlines, not Southwest or WestJet.

 

The sign read, "Turkish Hospitality". My sister and I, during a visit to her a few years earlier, were searching for a good cup of coffee from a mom and pop shop in Vancouver's west end. "What do you think that means?" we wondered aloud. Long story short, it meant that you got a warm cup of coffee half an hour after ordering it, with a side-order of contempt.


"Call your travel agent and ask them to rebook."

Unwilling to call Sarah for a third trip to the airport, I wandered toward Car Rentals. As always, the Enterprise agents greeted me with a friendly attitude, and empathy for my situation. After glancing at my driver's license, the booking agent wished me a happy birthday and was excited to see someone from his alma mater. He apologized profusely for charging me the discounted rate, still a bit high due to the last-minute booking.

Once home, I called Expedia. After 45 minutes on hold I got to speak with an agent. There would be rebooking fee, collected on behalf of the airline, but it could be done. He called Turkish Airlines on their travel agent line to complete the transaction.

They were closed.

freebsd-update will not upgrade from 9.0-RELEASE

When attempting to update from a fully-patched 9.0-RELEASE, you may encounter results like these:

Looking up update.FreeBSD.org mirrors... 5 mirrors found.
Fetching metadata signature for 9.0-RELEASE from update2.freebsd.org... done.
Fetching metadata index... done.
Inspecting system... done.

WARNING: This system is running a "venus" kernel, which is not a
kernel configuration distributed as part of FreeBSD 9.0-RELEASE.
This kernel will not be updated: you MUST update the kernel manually
before running "/usr/sbin/freebsd-update install".

The following components of FreeBSD seem to be installed:
src/src world/base world/doc

The following components of FreeBSD do not seem to be installed:
kernel/generic world/games world/lib32

Does this look reasonable (y/n)? y

Fetching metadata signature for 10.0-RELEASE from update2.freebsd.org... done.
Fetching metadata index... done.

The update metadata is correctly signed, but
failed an integrity check.
Cowardly refusing to proceed any further.

You will find lots of people telling you to run this command

sed -i '' -e 's/=_/=%@_/' /usr/sbin/freebsd-update

It won't work. Instead you need to apply this patch:

Index: freebsd-update.sh =================================================================== --- freebsd-update.sh (revision 265210) +++ freebsd-update.sh (working copy) @@ -1110,7 +1110,7 @@ fetch_metadata_sanity () { # Some aliases to save space later: ${P} is a character which can # appear in a path; ${M} is the four numeric metadata fields; and # ${H} is a sha256 hash. - P="[-+./:=%@_[[:alnum:]]" + P="[-+./:=%@_~[[:alnum:]]" M="[0-9]+\|[0-9]+\|[0-9]+\|[0-9]+" H="[0-9a-f]{64}"

Text missing when you open a CAD PDF in Illustrator

Illustrator is usually prettey good about opening PDF files and keeping the text in tact, although usually with some font substitution issues.

I have found that when opening CAD drawings from PDF files that it says it is going to substitute fonts, but when the file opens, all text is missing. There is a quick workaround:

  1. Create a new empty document the same size or larger than the source PDF.
  2. Use File | Place to place the PDF in the empty document.
  3. Use Object | Flatten Transparency...
  4. Check Convert all text to outlines.
  5. Uncheck Convert all Strokes to outlines.

How to add a tab to a Table of Figures in Word

You have a Table of Figures in word and the descriptions do not line up, and some of the lines wrap. Since there isn't a tab after the figure/table number, lines do not wrap correctly.

There isn't a way to do this by setting a format when you create the table. You have to start when you are creating each of the captions.

You have to add a tab in each caption e.g. Figure 23:<tab>A photo of a kitten.

Then once you build your table you can set up tabs for the style used in your Table of Figures.

postgrey won't start after FreeBSD upgrade

echo 'postgrey_flags="--inet=127.0.0.1:10023"' >> /etc/rc.conf
chown postgrey:postgrey /var/db/postgrey
/usr/local/etc/rc.d/postgrey start

"You don't currently have permission to access this folder" on symbolic link

You will face this error when creating a symbolic link (using mklink for example) to a network path.

I encountered this when trying to workaround Visual Studio's insistance that projects not be opened from network drives.

Symbolic links can only be created on local drives.

Speakout Wireless: But that's just stupid.

I needed a mobile account for a test device today, so I pulled a Speakout SIM out of my GSM drawer. It has been many months since I last used it, so I fully expected there to be no available call balance on the account, and that a new account and phone number would need to be reassigned.

When I tried to activate the SIM on their website, it told me that it had already been activated. Fair enough.

Since they use your phone number as an account number, I tried adding $25 to the account. It happily took my money, but gave me an error that the funds were not added to my account and that I should call service. A little annoying but sure, it has been a while, and this falls outside the realm of "normal" service activation.

When I reached an agent, she explained that once A SIM on an account goes dormant, it cannot be reactivated. You have to buy a new SIM. The old one is garbage. But... huh? It turns out that after your balance expires, you have 45 days to top it up. After 45 days, the SIM cannot be reactivated.

There is no technical reason for this. Heck, I'd pay $5 just for the convenience of being able to use the old one. That's just stupid.

Luckily my drawer also have some fresh SIM cards, so at least I don't need to make a trip to the store just to buy a SIM card.

Deployment failed because of an internal error: INSTALL_PARSE_FAILED_MANIFEST_MALFORMED

I encountered this error when deploying an Android app that was built for an older version (4.2.x) of Mono for Android.

Detecting installed packages
 
Waiting for packaging to complete
 
Installing application on device
 
Deployment failed because of an internal error: Unexpected install output: &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; pkg: /data/local/tmp/ca.guelph.visit-Signed.apk
Failure [INSTALL_PARSE_FAILED_MANIFEST_MALFORMED]
 
Deployment failed. Internal error.

The cause of the problem was these lines in the AndroidManifest.xml:

<!-- Allow the application to access Google web-based services. -->
<uses-permission android:name="com.google.android.providers.gsf.permission.READ_GSERVICES" />
 
<!-- Notice here that we have the package name of our application as a prefix on the permissions. -->
<uses-permission android:name="Visit.Guelph.permission.MAPS_RECEIVE" />
<permission android:name="Visit.Guelph.permission.MAPS_RECEIVE" android:protectionLevel="signature" />
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Thunderbird is very slow

My portable installation of Thunderbird was misbehaving. A simple operation like opening or deleting a message could take a minute or two.

The solution was close Thunderbird, delete any files ending in -wal, and restart Thunderbird. It is now back to normal.

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