I got lucky on the timing for one thing during this whole adventure. I was sitting at home playing around with some images and decided I wanted to create a couple of prints. One was a print of the hummingbirds from the back yard and the other was a poster I decided to make of a bunch of lifeboat shots from our visit to the UK last year. My usual print outlet is Mpix so I created the files, uploaded them and sent the order. A few days later a large package arrived on the porch. Shortly before it arrived, I got a message from Mpix saying that they were suspending work as a result of the virus. They are based in Kansas so I guess it took a while to get to them. I am really happy with the prints and it reminded me of how much a physical print is better than looking at something on a screen. I will have to print more when they are back up and running.
SeaTac may be the main commercial airport for Seattle but there is now a second airport for mainline service. Paine Field has opened its new terminal and commenced service. I had a trip to make so decided to give it a go. Not only is it closer to home but parking is cheaper and the prices for flights were pretty low. Time to give it a go.
It took me a while to find the long stay parking. The signage was useless. When I returned to pick up my car, I noticed that they had added new signs and had people hanging around in the access roads asking if you needed help. Could have done with them before. Interestingly, when I returned to pick up the car, the long-term lot was marked as full. Not sure how well that is going to work out. They did have some additional parking under construction.
The terminal itself is very nice. They were still debugging the check in systems at the Alaska desk when I got there. The process of handing over my bag was a little confused but, since there were only two of us at the two desks, it wasn’t like there was a lengthy delay. Similarly for the security line, while the website said there was TSA Pre, there wasn’t. I had to remove all of my camera gear from the bags but, again not many people there so it was easy to get done quickly.
There are two gates in the terminal itself. I never saw more than one plane on a gate at a time but, as other airlines start service, I imagine it will be a bit busier. There were sections of the waiting area that were empty for now so it has the ability to cope with more people. The gate area itself is very nice. Comfortable chairs and nice decorations, combined with a bar make it feel more like a dining location than an airport. Very cozy. There was a Beecher’s Cheese location apparently under construction which might be good for a snack when it opens soon.
The services were being operated by Embraer E175-E1s. There were plenty of ground staff to deal with the flights. There seemed to be loads of them and, with plenty of time between the flights, they didn’t seem over taxed. However, I suspect there was still a lot of training underway – hence the excess staff. Loading didn’t take long and then it was off to the runway, past the Boeing flight line and then departure. I found it a great way to get a flight and, with a surprising number of destinations available, I hope to use it more. It is certainly more convenient for me than SeaTac.
The Sounder commuter rail service takes passengers from both north and south of Seattle in to the city. The service from the south end is a very popular one and is expanding. The northern service from Everett has not been as popular and is not growing in the same way. However, on both routes, special trains are run on days with big sporting events such as the Seahawks playing at home. There is normally no service on the weekends so this is an unusual sight.
I was after some Sounder shots for possible use in a future project so headed down to Shoreline where the trains run alongside the beach. The beach is accessed by a footbridge over the tracks. It has some good sightlines for shots but also fencing that is not so helpful. I tried out a location further down and close to the tracks and it was not a bad spot. Since two trains were heading to the game about 15 minutes apart, I did go back to the bridge to see how that looked too.
As the train was past me, I could continue to watch it as it ran along the shore a good portion of the way to the city. It did go around a headland but again popped into view as it got closer to the downtown area.
I have mentioned A340s and their gradual demise a few times in the blog. Sometimes it has been that I have got ahead of myself. However, I recently was genuinely surprised. Apparently, during the summer, an A340 makes a single flight a week into Oakland from the Azores. I had no idea about this until I read something about it online. A direct flight from Oakland to an island in the middle of the Atlantic? Who would have thought it?
I managed to be in place for the arrival one time. The airline is HyFly. I am guessing you have never heard of them. The jet is chartered from another operator but the whole operation is Portuguese controlled. (The Azores are Portuguese if you didn’t know.). The aircraft is totally unbranded. An all white A340-300 sounds really dull. I guess it really is. However, the novelty certainly caught my attention and I am both pleased and annoyed that I had no idea it was a regular visitor so close to home.
The step up in size that Embraer took when they create the E170/175 and E190/195 aircraft was important for them and it proved to be a successful move. Both types did well and have achieved a solid market presence. With a new generation of technologies coming, Embraer decided to go for a significant upgrade to the type with new engines and other systems resulting in the E2 versions. In line with that, they decided to tweak the current design to create the E1 upgrades. This turned out to be a well-timed upgrade as it came at a time when a whole bunch of airlines were looking to up-gauge their regional feeder services. Embraer picked up a ton of orders.
The speed with which these jets have entered the US fleets is impressive. Both United and American signed new deals for service with these jets and now you can regularly see their E175s feeding in to large airports. Alaska has gone a similar way (using Skywest much as United has) and their fleet of E175s is starting to grow. The E2 has now had its first flight in the larger E190 form but the 175 will follow in a few years. The E170 has been dropped from the line at this point. I imagine we will see even more of these jets as they will dominate this seating range which Bombardier seems to have ceded as they focus on larger jets.
Another Isle of Wight development is the hovercraft. Much early development of the concept was done on the Island and many were produced in East Cowes. Hovertravel still provide a frequent service between Ryde on the Island and Southsea on the mainland. I got a couple of opportunities to shoot these hovercraft while visiting. On the day Pete and I went flying, we arrived over Ryde just as one of the hovercraft was coming in. Another was parked on the slipway at the time.
When we left the island, I headed up on the upper deck of the ferry to see what was going on and had two over the hovercraft come by in opposite directions. It was rather windy up on deck but I was able to get some usable shots of the two of them individually and as they crossed. Apparently, Hovertravel are in the process of acquiring new craft to replace the current AP1-88s that are in service. Given that they were built in the late 1980s, they have provided good service. It will be interesting to see what replaces them. I wonder whether the new vehicles will arrive before I next get back.
Everyone who owns an inkjet printer knows that the manufacturers are slightly below war criminals in the rankings of evil. They sell a printer at a really great price and then you have to sell vital organs to afford the ink cartridges to keep it running. The first ones are the worst since the cartridges don’t seem to have much ink in them and a vast amount of it is used charging up the system so you need your first replacements after barely any printing at all.
Recently, I discovered a new level of trickery. As I commented in a discussion with a friend who had commented on a previous post, I don’t actually do much photo printing anymore. The quality and price of online print houses is so compelling that using the (more expensive than gold) inks is hardly worth it, particularly when you find yourself having the clean the nozzles every time and blowing through even more ink. Consequently, my big old printer is mainly used for work and that is usually black and white stuff. However, some documents have color in them and the blocked nozzles render those prints illegible so a clean out is necessary.
I have had issues with cleaning the printer in the past. I was getting ink smudges on the back of the paper which was coming from the sponge pads across the bottom of the print bay. These pads absorb spare ink during cleaning cycles. What I didn’t know was that the printer assumes a life for them. I started to get a message telling me that internal components were coming up to service life expiration. This troubled me a bit but not as much as the message that followed later that day saying they had expired. Thanks for the huge advance notice!
It turns out that these sponge pads were the component in question. Given how I had needed to clean them before, the warning was probably far later than it should have been. Now I was stuck. They said the printer could be serviced but also pointed out that a replacement would probably be cheaper than a service. Nice one guys! One thing they did provide was a software tool that would reset the internal counter so the printer would work again. The idea was that you fixed the issue but at least you could print again.
I needed the printer (I am planning on a replacement in due course but didn’t want to have to buy it now) so ran the tool but I didn’t want to have ink slopping around and onto my units so figured I needed to do something. Kitchen towels are quite effective at mopping up the ink from the sponge trays. However, it seems that, however much you mop up, there is always more. (Fortunately, it is only at one side – the side that is left exposed when using letter sized paper rather than 13” wide paper which is the widest the printer will take.)
I decided to try something more effective and take out the sponges to clean separately. Fortunately, they are not fixed other than by tabs that slot into holes in the trays. Since they were saturated with ink, they were still tricky to get free but, once out, I was able to put them in a lot of paper and squeeze them out and then rinse them in water. Not totally cleaned but looking a lot more like the color I suspect they started out with. Certainly they now have a lot of capacity to absorb more ink.
Putting them back in place was a bit more tricky. They have to lie exactly in place and have the tabs inserted into the right slots. I got this slightly wrong in one place and the sponge sat slightly too high. The paper caught it as it fed in and then twisted up before getting caught against the print head. A few rude words later and the problem was fixed. Now I have a functioning printer again. Let’s hope it now lasts long enough for me to decide on the long term replacement and get that sorted out. A wireless printer is part of the plan now so it doesn’t have to be somewhere obvious and I think a laser will be better than an inkjet. Shopping time!