Phil and a 777

The disappearance (and likely crash) of Malaysia Airlines 370 weighs heavy

So many of us who work in the mobile industry — media, manufacturers and developers alike — end up spending so much time in airplanes, so you'll excuse me when I say I can't help thinking about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which vanished this weekend a couple hours after taking off from Kuala Lumpur. 

It's just gone, and with it 239 lives. As I'm writing this early Sunday morning, there's no sign that anybody has any idea where the plane is, though a crash in the waters off Vietnam is looking more and more likely.

And I can't help but think back to our last trip — Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. My daughters (7 and 3 — "and-a-half," they'd both demand I tell you — don't really know what I mean when I tell them I have to go to work across the big ocean. But I did so aboard the same type of airplane that's gone missing — a Boeing 777-200. Around 16 hours from Atlanta to Paris and back last month. Not the first time, either. And from Atlanta to San Francisco last November. Or the 14 hours or so (each way) from Atlanta to Seoul a couple years ago, on a larger version of the airframe.

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It's funny how you tend to get to know faces on trips like this. The woman who was in the same row as me from Barcelona to Paris, and again from Paris to Atlanta. Or the cameraman across the aisle who was returning from shooting the Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Or the guy who came up from the section behind us, snagging an unoccupied premium economy seat. And all the faces you see when you get up to stretch and go to the lav. So many faces. So many people.

Flying used to scare the hell out of me when I was younger. Probably it was about the lack of control more than anything. I get the physics. I nerd out one the planes a little bit now as a coping mechanism, I think. And I learned to let the safety statistics calm me. (And being old enough to have a drink helped, too.) Flying is safe. And I think about the hundreds and thousands of men and women who design and build the planes and work at the airports and spend their lives and their time away from their families just to ensure I can safely drag my sorry ass to see a new smartphone.

I've gotten used to the travel. I almost like it. And, yes, I've become a bit spoiled by it. And this weekend I'm reminded why it worries my wife and my mother so. And why my kids ask me when I'm coming home.

A few happier thoughts on the week that was:

  • The U.S. went back into daylight saving time — that's the proper style, by the way — today. I have to wonder that when my kids are grown and on their own, will they have any clocks they have to manually adjust? I think I'm down to the microwave oven, the oven in my kitchen, and perhaps my car stereo (which I never really bother with anyway).
  • This purported new HTC One case looks crazy. Hopefully it fares better than the last case with holes.
  • Good to see Pebble get a quick stability update after the 2.0 release, but I can't help but feel that the whole thing was rushed. Not that I didn't want 2.0 and the Pebble appstore, but, man, there's still some work to be done.
  • Very smart of Samsung to do its own streaming music player. Equally smart that it teamed up with Slacker to do so.
  • Interesting to see Vine crack down on NSFW content. (Porn, really.) Wonder if some sort of adult-friendly copycat will (ahem) spring up. (If it hasn't already.)
  • QuizUp is a lot of fun. (And, yes, it pains me when I lose an Android round.) But the typos in it are just atrocious. And I'd know — I make typos for a living.
  • And if you missed it last week, you can now get email notifications when someone replies to your comments on the blog here. Just one of many improvements we're working on in 2014. Thanks for your patience and for your feedback.

That's it for this week, I think. See y'all Monday.