S. Ships #AtoZChallenge

azbloggingS. Ships

Dear reader,

As I was putting together this remarkable collection of alphabetical posts, it suddenly struck me that there are many ships in my books and stories.

MimosaDetailThat’s odd because I’m not a sailor, nor is there anyone in my family who’s in that trade (as far as I know at least).  The first ship I consciously incorporated in a book was the Mimosa, appearing in the 6th Hilda the Wicked Witch book. Of course, coming from a fantasy / SciFi writer this was no ordinary ship as it travels through space and time. On its own accord. This is not a guided vehicle like the Tardis of Dr. Who.

The second ship I created was called the Pricosine. A wooden sailing ship resembling an ancient clipper, with many masts and sails, sailing on the distant planet called NGC6637-VIII. This all sounds like science fiction which in part is true. The story (Bactine) however is in majority a steampunk story, but somehow I fell into a science fiction start for that.

After that I had to do something about the requests from fans of the Hilda stories regarding the 6th book. They wanted to know where the Mimosa came from. This resulted in a hilarious book called The Story of the Mimosa, in which you can learn of the earliest beginnings (which literally start with the stacks of wood that it will be built from) and then the travels of the wonderful ship Mimosa and it’s strange and wonderful crews that find and lose it. The Mimosa will always have a special place in my heart because the folk band Harmony Glen, who are dear friends of mine, appear in the book, and in turn they named the ship in their theatre show “The Mimosa”.

Harmony Glen received their copies of the Story of the Mimosa
A few Harmony Glen members receive their copy of the book “The Story of the Mimosa”.

Study: 30 Percent of Flyers Have Left on their Electronic Devices

Dear reader,

Recently I posted about the problems e-reading devices might cause in aeroplanes. There is a new study now that shows most fears apparently are unfounded, because many people don’t take the trouble to switch off their devices at all. I found this article on Teleread:

Ever reach into your pocket at the end of a long flight to turn on your phone, only to realize it was on all along? You’re not alone. A study released Thursday found that 30 percent of U.S. airplane passengers have accidentally left a personal electronic device turned on while on a plane.

According to the “Portable Electronic Devices on Aircraft” study, jointly conducted by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX),  69 percent of respondents say they have used an electronic device in-flight.

The study comes as the federal government is considering relaxing restrictions on in-flight use of electronics, and the FCC is pushing for stronger in-air Wi-Fi signals.

“Airline passengers have come to rely on their smartphones, tablets and e-readers as essential travel companions,”  Doug Johnson, vice president of technology policy at CEA, said in the survey. “Understanding the attitudes and behaviors of passengers that are using electronic devices while traveling will help the FAA make informed decisions.”

Editor’s Note:  The complete study is available free only to APEX members and CEA member companies at members.CE.org.

• This article originally appeared on GadgeTell, a TeleRead sister site.

Do E-Readers Really Present a Threat to Airplanes?

By Dan Eldridge from Teleread

The increasingly heated national debate surrounding the use of personal electronic devices on airplanes has been chugging along steadily for years now. And yet thanks to the laudable effortsof the New York Times‘ Nick Bilton, the conversation has once again become news.

As many of you are undoubtedly aware, a now-legendary Bilton piece appearing in the Times in late March—in which he criticized the F.A.A.’s  rules against using e-readers and tablets during taxi, takeoff or landing—actually resulted in a somewhat positive governmental response: The F.A.A. promised to take “a fresh look” at the issue.

Frequent fliers everywhere, of course, have long been equally befuddled and frustrated by the confusion surrounding the PEDs-on-planes regulation: Most of us, I’d like to believe, would be only too happy to stow our Kindles and iPads during the required periods … if only we knewwithout a doubt that such devices could indeed cause interference with an aircraft’s electronic transmissions. But we don’t know that.

In fact, in an Aero magazine article published in March 2000, Boeing admits that after undertaking several investigations, it “has not been able to find a definite correlation between  [personal electronic devices] and the associated reported airplane anomalies.”

* * *

Here’s another reason this issue is so endlessly frustrating: The vast majority of passengers who discuss it, or journalists who write about it, seem to approach the issue with their minds already made up. And yet because the F.A.A. itself doesn’t seem too terribly clear on the hows, whys and wherefores of its own regulations, it’s understandably difficult for those of us who are paying customers of the airlines to take the inconvenience laying down.

I found Kate Bevan’s recent piece in the Guardian to be especially even-measured. (My earlier reference to the Aero magazine article, by the way, came directly from her write-up.) Because she so smartly points out the logic behind both sides of the argument, I’d consider it a must-read for anyone who might be even slightly interested in the topic.

Meanwhile, Nick Bilton and scores of other journalists, bloggers and consumers are continuing to press the issue. I think it’s a fair guess to suspect that it was the ceaseless barrage of noise coming from both the media and the airlines’ consumers that eventually forced the F.A.A. into announcing its upcoming investigation.

Just five days ago, for those of you who may not be aware, the F.A.A. distributed a press release announcing plans for an “industry working group to study [the effects of] portable electronics usage” on aircraft. This almost certainly would not have happened if no one had discussed the current regulations–or debated them–in the first place.

And here’s where you come in. According to the aforementioned press release:

“As the first step in gathering information for the working group, the FAA is seeking public input on the agency’s current [personal electronic device] policies, guidance and procedures for operators. The Request for Comments, which will appear in the Federal Register on August 28th, is part of a data-driven agency initiative to review the methods and criteria operators use to permit PEDs during flights … Comments can be filed up to 60 days after the Federal Register publish date.”

To view or download the actual 14-page Request for Comments document, click here(PDF)

So if this is a situation you would personally like to see resolved at some point in your lifetime, please: Write about it, blog about it, mention it on your favorite social networking sites, discuss it in online forums, discuss it with fellow passengers and airline employees during your next flight–whatever it takes.