Wednesday, 15 July 2009

The problem of Traveling Salesman

New look at an age old problem....that of problem of Traveling Salesman.

No not airports, lost luggage and RyanAir but the mathematical problem. The basis of Traveling Salesman Problem(TSP) is, given a list of cities and their distances, the task is to find a shortest possible tour that visits each city exactly once. The problem was first formulated in 1930 and some work has been done since but never a new approach.

Andrej Kazakov has come up with a new algorithm to solve TSP, which according to him "looks very promising". Could that be an underestimate?

Andrej looked at existing solutions to TSP, the most popular approaches being local search and divide and conquer but a new approach was an algorithm called 'Building Block Hillclimber' and applied a combination of approaches so that he substantially improved its quality, performance and range of applications.

The algorithm is still incomplete, but its current shortcomings have been thoroughly analysed and it has been substantially improved.

you can see Andrej Kazakov paper on the link below

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Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Ryanair the Business of how not to do it.

On May 16th May I blogged about Ryanair insisted that all new bookings would require online check-ins. If you don't print your boarding pass from the company's website, you're charged an extra £40.Nice, Well Ryanair have done a IT classic and now announced that for ten hours next week, its website will be completely unreachable.

The Ryanair site will be closed from 7pm (Irish summer time)* Wednesday June 24 until 5am Thursday June 25 due to "an essential upgrade maintenance."

*Does Irish Summer Time even exist as a time standard?

They are haveing a laugh aren't they if your entire operation can only be accessed through a website, you'd better make dam' sure that website is 100% reliable. With online shopping, the risk is less - as you retain the stock if people can't buy it. Businesses like airlines and hotels deal in a very perishable commodity: one that ceases to exist, once it's day has passed. It was once joked to me by an IT Manager I asked how did he know his internet connected was up he said he wrote a little script to ping I asked why playboy he said the servers were always up 100% of the time as they didn't want ot lose a single cent of revenue so he could always tell it was his connection at fault and not them.

Therefore for an e-commerce site to be down is bad news for the retailer, but it's a total disaster for an airline that has put all it's eggs in one, online, basket. Especially if they think they can charge people £40 to get their tickets at the airport. You think like any good airline Ryanair would waive the fee for one day. but no in their statement.

"Ryanair will review the number of passengers who fail to check-in online and make a decision at that time."

Which I think we can all take as they will charge you!

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Saturday, 16 May 2009

Ryanair trying to fleece you some more

I wrote early last month about the costs of flying on a budget airline well it seems Ryanair have trumped me with a charge for printing out your ticket. There seems to be some completely wrong and criminal about charging some for a essential document of journey. I don't mind paying for food or them charging for fast boarding as all of these charges can be avoided but charging you to £10 pounds per return to print your ticket at home or £80 pounds at the airport seems criminal and a sign of a money grabbing and dishonest company.

"Ryanair passengers face a £5 charge per flight to print out their tickets at home as part of moves to abolish check-in desks and increase revenues. The policy replaces Ryanair's practice of offering free online ticketing and charging anyone who opted for face-to-face check-in £10. In future, anyone who arrives at the airport without a pre-printed check-in card will have to pay a £40 "boarding card re-issue fee". In-built restrictions to the online ticketing system mean many customers will be unable to print their tickets when they book, raising the chances for penalty charges from customers who think they have completed the process.

Wow to a penalty charge of £40 pounds if you don't have a printer or if like me someone else say like a promoter of a music gig in another country mormally books the tickets for you, now we didn't see that one coming. I love the Daily Mash take on it


In a statement released yesterday Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said: "Cock-a-doodle-do! Everyone pay attention. These are my new rules.

"You will print out your own boarding pass and pay me for the privilege of doing so. If you do not have a printer you will pay me £40 for not having one and you will then wear a paper hat that I will make for you. The hat will cost £40.

"You will complete a quest. Probably involving a rare gemstone. You will bring me the gemstone wrapped inside a cheque for £40.

"Luggage is a sin and you will be punished for it. Therefore your holiday will last no longer than 14 minutes. If it does I will kidnap your goldfish and charge you £40 a leg to get it back."

A spokesman for the British Psychiatric Institute said: "Ryanair is no longer something to be hated, it is something to be pitied. It's as if Mr O'Leary has suffered some kind of severe mental trauma. Perhaps he has finally flown on one of his own planes.

"He needs to be sedated, isolated and subjected to a twice-daily programme of powerful electric shocks. If that doesn't work we will have to carve out a hefty chunk of his frontal lobe.

"In the meantime we would urge other airlines to step in and start flying to Ryanair's destinations as soon as possible. For the love of God, please."

UPDATE: Damian Corrigan, of asked Ryanair some of the questions interesting replies

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Saturday, 11 April 2009

flying on a budget airline

This morning I was reading 'Downturn 'hits regional airports' which had in it a piece regard regional airports charging for fast track security and I wondered how the budget airlines were trying to get away with charing people to go through security and then read it was the airport operators charging for this service. What with Ryanair thinking about charging for the toliets I thought this is nothing new

Airports have insisted that a shortfall in income has forced them to introduce extra charges for services such as fast-track security or car drop-offs for passengers. Luton, Leeds Bradford and Liverpool all charge a £3 fee to fast-track passengers through security, while Bristol airport charges £5. Blackpool and Norwich charge a mandatory airport development fee per passenger.

After reading a bit further Budget airlines have complained that the charges are driving more passengers away and they may stop operating out of airports that charge excessively. Easyjet spokesman Andrew McConnell said the additional fees were "unfair". "Warsaw is an example. They've put the charges up - we've withdrawn our services from the summer. "This really is a warning to UK airports that these charges are unfair."

So Easyjet were trying to flex their muscle and scare the airports into not making these charges which EasyJet thinks are unfair. I think we have to get the violins out for Andrew McConnel of Easyjet as is this the same Easyjet that charging £4.95 minimum or up to 1.95 per cent of the total price just to pay with credit card or £1 per person for payment with a debit card. We think we know what unfair Andrew.

Easyjet's rugby scrum policy of not having allocated seat which puts everyone at a disadvantage because even if your paid extra for priority boarding, you might not get it as I've seen as your all buses to the plane together. This is eloquently explained . I check on the site and speedy boarding from a flight to london to Vienna was going to be £14:00 with no caveat "If you’re bussed to the aircraft we can’t always guarantee you’re off the bus first." So basically a pointless charge.

Your first hold bag is free up to 20kg but after that your charged at £16.00 per bag £8 per leg of the trip and heaven forbid you have any extra weight above the 20kg as its charged at £7 per kg per leg. Who exactly at the time of booking are you meant to know how much your luggage is going to weight? Do they thing we are all psychic? If per chance you are going skiing or snowboard expect an additonal £37 for your board to be popped in the hold.

So what looked like a cheap flight at £133.98 has now balloned to £314.98. Wow

So I check the same flight on Kayak and the same flight was £137.20 complete on Swiss Airlines and the seat was in business class (whatever that means on a short trip) they even said that Fuel Surcharge (from GBP 11.75 to GBP 25.05) and Airport Taxes (from GBP 34.14 to GBP 42.09) are already included in ticket price. Thats one big price difference to what is meant to be a budget airline. So for Easyjet to think any charges are unfair I think they should stop pointing fingers and look closer to home.

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