Something is seriously wrong with our airlines

by filip 14. May 2009 02:17

Today I was reminded exactly of why I hate flying.  A couple months ago, I purchased a ticket to fly to Krakow, Poland.  I live in Cincinnati, and it is not possible to have a direct flight into Poland.  The best you can do from CVG is a one-stop flight.  I really wanted as few stops as possible, so I paid $1360 for a ticket with only one stop ( Chicago ). I could have saved myself $600 on the ticket and bought a multi-stop ticket for around $700, but I just wanted the trip to be as quick as possible.

Well, about 8 hours ago I show up at the airport, do the check-in, go through security.  However, the departure time never really approaches, because every 20 minutes or so the flight gets more and more delayed.  I had about a 100 minute window to switch planes in Chicago, and pretty soon it becomes apparent that even if I get on the plane to Chicago, I will miss my flight to Poland.

The “manager” at the American Eagle ( the regional partner to the Polish airlines partner – American Airlines ) that is handling the flight to Chicago is not very helpful.  He keeps repeating that it is not their problem, since all these delays are due to weather and not some mechanical failure ( as I’m talking to the manager, I can see through the terminal window how Delta flights are departing and landing – something he claims is not possible to do right now ).

At this point, I’m told that I can either fly to Chicago and I’m “on my own” ( whatever that means ), or I can try to reschedule my flight tomorrow. Since the thought of sleeping in the airport terminal in O’hare is not very appealing, I decide to switch my flight to the next day – what else can I really do? I end up with a flight to Chicago, then a flight into Warsaw, and the ( 6 hours later! ) a flight to Krakow. I’m now arriving a day late, on a trip that will take 13 hours more than my planned trip.

I realize that certain weather conditions can wreck havoc on flight schedules. But I’m not buying any of this BS that the airlines have absolutely no control over this aspect of flying. I’ve flown many times in the past, and it is standard practice to have a flight arrive, people leave the plane, then the new flyers board the plane, and have the plane take off in like 45 minutes. Basically, very little – if no time at all – is factored in for delays due to weather. The airlines could easily fix this problem by allowing more time in between arriving and departing flights. But that would hurt their bottom line, and they prefer to shift all the blame to the weather ( thus escaping any liability ) instead of actually admitting that their scheduling is messed up.

I really think we need a new system that requires airlines to allow for more time between arrival and departure. Don’t make it mandatory, but if the airline decides that they want to continue their current practice, require them to compensate the passengers $20 per hour that their flight is delayed, and something like $100 per added stop to their travel plans. If airlines couldn’t simply blame everything on the weather, I’m sure they would very quickly arrive at some solution that would improve the status quo.

Tags:

Personal

Deleting Comments...

by filip 12. January 2009 02:47

If you leave comments on my blog for the sole purpose of providing links to your own blog, those comments will be removed.  I have no problems with people linking back to their own site in a comment, but if you do that, at least attempt to stay on topic.

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Personal

Flexible AutoComplete (Suggested Words) Code for Text Input Fields using JavaScript

by filip 14. November 2008 12:32

As I'm sure you've seen on many websites, displaying suggestions while a user types text into a text field has become quite popular. However, I was rather disappointed with the solutions I've found out there. The solutions I've found had any combination of the following problems:

  • No cross-browser support: Obviously, any acceptable solution needs to work across the major browsers.
  • Limited to a single text field per page: The solution needs to be flexible enough to allow multiple text fields on a page to either display the same suggestions, or display a completely different set of suggestions.
  • Ease of use: The solution needs to be simple to use, yet powerful enough to allow the designer to fairly easily modify the way the code works and change the look of the suggestions.

With that in mind, I attempted to improve on an existing library. I started working with this one, but pretty soon I realized that I would need to rewrite basically all the code. Below is a description of the code. In order to make this work, you will need to add the following to the <head> of your HTML page:

<script language="javascript" type="text/javascript" src="autocomplete.js"></script>

The file referenced above can be downloaded here.


It's probably best to see what we're doing, so below is an example of a text field that uses the autocomplete code. It only auto-completes some text that starts with the letter t, so make sure you type that as the first letter.


Suggests words after the user types in a T (ex: two, three )

Assuming you have the autocomple.js file correctly included in the page, the way to populate the autocomple drop down is with the collowing code:

<input type="text" size="40" autoComplete="mygroup1" /> 
<script language="javascript" type="text/javascript"> 
    autoComplete.Set("mygroup1", new Array("two", "three", "twenty", "tweak", "tool", 
"two hundred", "testing", "two-thirds", "terran", "tomato", "tower", "twin", "task",
"toolbar", "test")); </script>

In order to demonstrate that this is flexible enough to support multiple text fields on the same page, here is another example of a text field, along with the code necessary to display it. Also, notice that I'm creating a new "group", which allows me to display different suggestions in the text field. If I wanted to, I could simply assign the same "group", and this second text field would have identical suggestions to the one above.


Suggests words after the user types in a F (ex: four, five )

<input type="text" size="30" autoComplete="mygroup2" /> 
<script language="javascript" type="text/javascript"> 
    autoComplete.Set("mygroup2", new Array("four", "five", "fifty", "fast", "filip", "fun", 
"feast", "farse", "football", "fantasy", "fork", "fanta", "festival", "fall", "foo")); </script>

Obviously, people will want to style the drop downs differently. The autocomplete.js file contains script which registers a default style, but it also allows you to pass in a style using the autoComplete.Set() method. In the example below, I've created a new style, and assigned it by passing the class name of the style as the third parameter into the Set() method.


Suggests words after the user types in a A (ex: apple, art )

<style type="text/css"> 
.newPopupStyle { font-family:Verdana; font-size: 9pt; color:aqua; width: 150px; margin: 3px; 
background-color: Red; font-weight: bold; } .newPopupStyle div { top: -3px; left: -3px; background: brown; border: solid 1px blue;
position: relative; overflow: auto; max-height: 100px; } .newPopupStyle span { cursor: default; margin: 2px; display: block; } .newPopupStyle span.wordSelected { background: yellow; color: Fuchsia; } </style>
<
input type="text" size="30" autoComplete="mygroup3" /> <script language="javascript" type="text/javascript"> autoComplete.Set("mygroup3", new Array("apple", "aspen", "art", "artistic",
"abracadabra"), "newPopupStyle"); </script>

There is more you can do with the code. The javascript file is farily well documented, so hopefully if you need to change anything, it will be pretty straightforward. You can actually greatly reduce the size of the file if you remove the comments.

KNOWN ISSUES:

  1. If the margin of the body tag is not 0, the drop down will not render in the appropriate spot in IE. Apply a margin (ex: <body style="margin: 0;"> ) to fix the problem.

UPDATES:

  1. Feb. 25, 2009 – Fixed a problem in autocomplete.js.  It should now also work on Safari 4.0 beta.

LICENSE:

  • I have received a few questions about the license for this code.  You can use this code for any purpose, including commercial.  If you do find issues or bugs with the code, I do ask that you let me know so that I can put in a fix.

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Web Development

C# Priority Queue Implementation for Silverlight

by filip 20. October 2008 19:23

While writing some code for Silverlight, I realized that Silverlight does not include a PriorityQueue implementation in their libraries.  I searched around, but I couldn't find any code that I thought was decent, so I wrote up something pretty quick.  I'll be testing this some more in the near future, but for now, I think it has the basics.  This should be fairly quick for large collections, as the enqueue is logarithmic, while the dequeue is pretty much as fast as it can be.

The queue uses generics for both the priority and the data that is being queued. The only thing to keep in mind is that if you're creating your own type for priority, it must implement IComparable.

 

   1: using System;
   2: using System.Collections.Generic; 
   3:  
   4: namespace bloodforge
   5: {
   6:     public class PriorityQueue<P, T>
   7:         where P : System.IComparable<P>
   8:     {
   9:         protected List<Queue<PriorityItem<P, T>>> _queues;
  10:         protected int _count; 
  11:  
  12:         public PriorityQueue()
  13:         {
  14:             _queues = new List<Queue<PriorityItem<P, T>>>();
  15:             _count = 0;
  16:         } 
  17:  
  18:         /// <summary>
  19:         /// Add an item to the priority queue
  20:         /// </summary>
  21:         public void Enqueue(P priority, T data)
  22:         {
  23:             if (_count == 0)
  24:             {
  25:                 Queue<PriorityItem<P, T>> NewQueue = new Queue<PriorityItem<P, T>>();
  26:                 NewQueue.Enqueue(new PriorityItem<P, T>(priority, data));
  27:                 _queues.Add(NewQueue);
  28:             }
  29:             else
  30:             {
  31:                 QueueInsert(priority, data, 0, _queues.Count - 1);
  32:             } 
  33:  
  34:             _count++;
  35:         } 
  36:  
  37:         /// <summary>
  38:         /// Helper method for Enqueue
  39:         /// </summary>
  40:         private void QueueInsert(P priority, T data, int qLo, int qHi)
  41:         {
  42:             if (qLo == qHi)
  43:             {
  44:                 // There is only one item left to compare.
  45:                 // Need to decide where this item belongs in relation to the last item.
  46:                 if (_queues[qLo].Peek().Priority.CompareTo(priority) < 0)
  47:                 {
  48:                     Queue<PriorityItem<P, T>> NewQueue = new Queue<PriorityItem<P, T>>();
  49:                     NewQueue.Enqueue(new PriorityItem<P, T>(priority, data));
  50:                     _queues.Insert(qLo, NewQueue);
  51:                     return;
  52:                 }
  53:                 else if (_queues[qLo].Peek().Priority.CompareTo(priority) > 0)
  54:                 {
  55:                     Queue<PriorityItem<P, T>> NewQueue = new Queue<PriorityItem<P, T>>();
  56:                     NewQueue.Enqueue(new PriorityItem<P, T>(priority, data));
  57:                     _queues.Insert(qLo + 1, NewQueue);
  58:                     return;
  59:                 }
  60:                 else
  61:                 {
  62:                     _queues[qLo].Enqueue(new PriorityItem<P, T>(priority, data));
  63:                     return;
  64:                 }
  65:             }
  66:             else
  67:             {
  68:                 // Get the middle item from the queue and see if we
  69:                 // need to go to the first or second half of the queues list
  70:                 int qMid = Convert.ToInt32(Math.Floor((qLo + qHi) / 2));
  71:                 if (_queues[qMid].Peek().Priority.CompareTo(priority) < 0)
  72:                 {
  73:                     // This item belongs in the upper half of the range
  74:                     QueueInsert(priority, data, qLo, qMid);
  75:                     return;
  76:                 }
  77:                 else if (_queues[qMid].Peek().Priority.CompareTo(priority) > 0)
  78:                 {
  79:                     // This item belongs in the lower half of the range
  80:                     QueueInsert(priority, data, qMid + 1, qHi);
  81:                     return;
  82:                 }
  83:                 else
  84:                 {
  85:                     // we got lucky, the middle item is of the same priority
  86:                     _queues[qMid].Enqueue(new PriorityItem<P, T>(priority, data));
  87:                     return;
  88:                 }
  89:             }
  90:         } 
  91:  
  92:         /// <summary>
  93:         /// Remove the top item from the queue
  94:         /// </summary>
  95:         public T Dequeue()
  96:         {
  97:             if (_queues.Count == 0)
  98:             {
  99:                 // There are no items in the priority queue
 100:                 return default(T);
 101:             } 
 102:  
 103:             // Get the first item from the first queue
 104:             T data = _queues[0].Dequeue().Data; 
 105:  
 106:             if (_queues[0].Count == 0)
 107:             {
 108:                 // If the queue at the top priority is empty, remove it
 109:                 _queues.RemoveAt(0);
 110:             } 
 111:  
 112:             _count--; 
 113:  
 114:             return data; 
 115:  
 116:         } 
 117:  
 118:         /// <summary>
 119:         /// Retrieves the top item from the queue without removing it
 120:         /// </summary>
 121:         public T Peek()
 122:         {
 123:             if (_queues.Count > 0)
 124:             {
 125:                   return _queues[0].Peek().Data;
 126:             }
 127:             else return default(T);
 128:         } 
 129:  
 130:         /// <summary>
 131:         /// Gets the number of items in the priority queue
 132:         /// </summary>
 133:         public int Count
 134:         {
 135:             get
 136:             {
 137:                 return _count;
 138:             }
 139:         } 
 140:  
 141:         /// <summary>
 142:         /// Returns a string representation of the queue
 143:         /// </summary>
 144:         public override string ToString()
 145:         {
 146:             string val = string.Empty;
 147:             foreach(Queue<PriorityItem<P, T>> queue in _queues)
 148:             {
 149:                 PriorityItem<P, T>[] items = queue.ToArray();
 150:                 foreach (PriorityItem<P, T> item in items)
 151:                 {
 152:                     val += string.Format(" [ {0} ] ", item.Data.ToString());
 153:                 }
 154:             }
 155:             return val.TrimEnd(',');
 156:         }
 157:     } 
 158:  
 159:     public class PriorityItem<P, T>
 160:         where P : System.IComparable<P>
 161:     {
 162:         public P Priority;
 163:         public T Data; 
 164:  
 165:         public PriorityItem(P priority, T data)
 166:         {
 167:             this.Priority = priority;
 168:             this.Data = data;
 169:         }
 170:     }
 171: } 

Tags: ,

Web Development

Very nice and flexible file upload control with progress

by filip 18. October 2008 01:03

I needed a pretty quick way of displaying file upload progress in a ASP.NET project. In the past while working for a different employer, I've written my own code from scratch, and it was a complete pain in the ass.  Fortunately, after doing a bit of searching, I've ran across an open source control that works great.  The control is called NeatUpload and can be found at this URL:

http://www.brettle.com/neatupload

Tags:

Web Development

About Filip Stanek

Death Note Pic I'm a developer at ACG in Cincinnati, OH. I like ASP.NET, Flash, and other web technologies, & enjoy playing chess, video games, etc.

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