Vin Crosbie's Personal Blog

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Flying into Lisbon (4K video)

FOR MY FRIENDS WHO ARE ‘ARMCHAIR’ TRAVELERS and need a scenic, seven-minute breaks. Although the weather in this video is so perfect that it looks more like a Microsoft Flight Simulator artificial view than reality, it is the actual view outside the window of seat 1A while TAP Air Portugal’s Flight #1117 makes its final descent into Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado international airport. It starts with a view of the Atlantic Ocean and the ‘Portuguese Riveria’ where the resort towns of Cascais and Estoril are located, with the Sintra Mountains in the background. Then the mouth of the Tagus River (Portuguese: Rio Tejo) appears as the aircraft steadily descends. At the 1:45 mark, the 16th Century Belém Tower (Portuguese: Torre de Belém) monuments rises above the northern bank of the river, with the Jerónimos Monastery (Portuguese: Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) two blocks behind it. The flight path then passes over the heavily-forested Monsanto Forest Park (Portuguese: Parque Florestal de Monsanto) at the center of the city. I regret that this descent doesn’t the old parts of this ancient city, only the new parts of the Portuguese metropolis. The airliner lands at the four-minute mark, then taxis to the airport terminal. If you ever have the chance, visit Lisbon. It is a lovely, charming city, full of friendly people, history, and excellent cuisine. I’ve loved it ever since my first visit in 1970.

Tiempo en Las Canarias

I’m spending most of this month in my wife’s native Canary Islands, doing videography for a project she and I are undertaking later this year. Most of the past weeks have involved shooting ‘B-roll’, which are short background scenes designed to be used beneath narration or other contents. This is an example from a farm in the highlands of Gran Canaria island. This is the Hubble Space Telescope’s photograph of Arp 195, the collision of three galaxies.

R.I.P., Matthew Buckland (1974-2019)

I’m shocked by news that Matthew Buckland, Africa’s leading expert about New Media, died today after a short battle with an apparently fast-acting cancer. Shocked because during May in Cape Town, when I last saw Matt, he apologized because his speech to a conference we were attending had been held later than scheduled and he couldn’t have lunch together because he was entered in a competitive bike race elsewhere in the Western Cape that afternoon. So, I walked him to his car, his off-road bicycle mounted atop its roof, and he went off, strong, determined, as he always was. That’s how I’ll ever remember him. As I recollect, I first met him during 2007 at the IFRA ‘Beyond the Printed Word’ newspaper New Media conference which was held in suburban Dublin that year. He was attending it with his fellow South African friends and competitors Elan Lohmann and Colin Daniels who (along with Vincent Maher and Lukanyo Mnyanda) I sometime light-heartedly refer to as the ‘Rhodes Mafia’. Each of them were journalism students at South Africa’s Rhodes University who were the first generation of their countrymen to be born ‘digital natives’; each becoming a leader with global renown for their continent’s unique forms of New Media. In Matt’s case, that involved a few years after graduation working as a web producer at the BBC in London, a job which soon led to seven years working as the general manager for online operations at the Mail & Guardian in Johannesburg, post-apartheid South Africa’s major weekly newspaper. After that, he headed the New Media lab for Naspers, South Africa’s major media company, for whom he became general manager of Publishing and Social Media at age 36. In 2010, he founded and became managing director of Creative Spark, a +70-person digital marketing agency that he last year sold to the London-based M&C Saatchi PLC global advertising & marketing agency for a reported 50 million rand (US$3.5 million). Since then, he’s been entrepreneur-in-residence for the global Media Development Investment Fund (disclosure: one of my former clients) where one of his roles has been to teach online publishing and online marketing to media in poor countries or those arising from repressive governments. Matthew Buckland had a rare combination of knowledge, drive, and integrity. My relationship with him during the past dozen years had gone from mentoring to instead referring my former graduate students to him […]

Singapore Airlines SQ21 over Connecticut

Overhead: the World’s Longest Airline Flight

[If the color photo that heads this post doesn’t appear on you smartphone, click here to view it.] Each morning at approximately 10:15 a.m. New York time (15:15 UTC), I can gaze upwards from my home a watch a jet airliner pass three miles over me and heading northeast. While that’s not unusual because I live 30 miles (48 kilometers), 40 miles (63 km), and 50 miles (96 km) respectively from the New York City area’s LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy (JFK), and Newark Liberty airports, this daily airliner is special. It’s approximately six minutes into the world’s longest non-stop airliner flight. Even without binoculars, I can see the stylized gold dragon against a blue background on the tail of this mostly otherwise white aircraft: a new, twin-engine Airbus a350-900 ULR (Ultra Long Range) model. It’s Singapore Airlines’ legendary Flight SQ21 and will be aloft some 18-hour before it completes its 9,534 mile non-stop flight from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). Singapore Airlines flew this route, setting the all-time record for a scheduled jet airline flight, from 2004 to 2013, then relaunched SQ21 this past October. (By the way, Cable News Network covered the relaunch of the route as if no airliner had ever flown that far before. Didn’t anybody at CNN know that Singapore Airlines had flown it from 2004 to 2013?) The earlier version of SQ21 used a long-range version of the four-engine Airbus a340 aircraft and carried a mix of coach and business class passengers. However, the route perennially lost money because these a350s had to be fitted with fewer than normal seats in coach due to the extra weight of the fuel needed to fly that long. By 2010, Singapore Airways had converted the a350s on this route to carry only 100 business class seats.  Nonetheless, that wasn’t economical. The airline revived the route after Airbus Industries designed for it this special model of the new a350, which can carry both coach and business class while using less fuel than the a340s did.  The a340 versions of SQ21 usually headed due north from New York City, flying over the North Pole, then south across Siberia, China, and Southeast Asia to Singapore. Depending upon the jet stream in the northern hemisphere, the a350 new versions of this flight will use that same route or follow a much more divergent route: using the jet stream to give the aircraft […]