HotelTip! launched

Hotel Tip NL

Recently the Dutch Hotel Search engine Hoteltip! was launched.

Like a sort of crawler the site looks for hotel rooms at various portals/bookings engines. It claims to return the cheapest rates. All depends on the portals they signed up off course, but in the process you can see which sites they crawl.

It was featured on Killer Startups, also a cool idea.

Dutch Design (20): Amstelveen: Citizen M and the Neighbourhood

Last Saturday the reverent Dutch Daily Newspaper

published a story about one of the future locations of a Citizen M Pod Hotel in Amstelveen, a suburb of, and connected with, Amsterdam. It gives more insight about the format of the Citizen M Pod Hotel concept.

It appears that the neighborhood, a middle to up class residential area, is contending the plans of Citizen M in court, as the building permit has been granted.

  • First there is an office building that has to be demolished to make place for the new hotel. I would say the building is not that disgusting, that it has to be demolished.
Citizen M Amstelveen
The building that will be demolished
Photo Maurice Boyer
  • They don’t like the design of the new building as it is not consistent with the architecture of the neighborhood. This is off course a very difficult discussion about “taste”
Citizen M Amstelveen Plan
  • Then they don’t like that the hotel will be located in a residential area. They fear too much traffic and too much parking problems, as no specific parking space is foreseen for the Hotel. The lawyer representing Citizen M claims that the guests will mainly arrive by international air transport and by taxi. I highly doubt that to be a truthful statement.
  • They fear it to become a by the hour rendez-vous Hotel and fear an influx of cheap backpackers tourism. The last argument is unlikely as the much cheaper hostel concept specifically caters for the backpackers.
  • They fear loss of privacy as guests will be able to look in their homes from the many windows. This is a bit strange argument if one knows the very Dutch habit of not closing the curtains when the sun sets, that many of our foreign guests find a rather peculiar typical Dutch habit.

It seems to take some time before the building permit will be finally granted….

Dutch Design (19): Third Pod Hotel Concept for Amsterdam Revealed: CitizenM

Early 2008 will see a third (the others being the Qbic and the Yotel) Pod Hotel, CitizenM Hotels, opening at the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

CitizenM Schiphol Airport Amsterdam

The 230 rooms (pods?) counting hotel is presently under construction.

Under the “Affordable Luxury” slogan:

CitizenM has partnered with internationally renowned architects Concrete, and European design giants Philips and Vitra to offer “affordable luxury for the people.” Rooms are friendly and functional and feature: a super king-size bed fitted with luxurious linen and pillows, a wall-to-wall window for plenty of natural light, a flat LCD television, Philips technology and ambient lighting, a rain shower and other luxurious amenities especially developed by a famous ‘nose’ (also responsible for creations of Commes des Garcons and Viktor and Rolf).

Citizen M Room

Inspired by accommodations on luxury yachts and private jets, citizenM built its own factory in order to realize its high quality hotel rooms. In its vision, no detail was left ignored: each room is 14 square meters – each of which has been carefully thought through to offer the height of functional design.

Their website is full of information. It even has a community building module. I would say this an industry example of how to announce your concept and/or hotel opening.

The one Amsterdam Schiphol Airport Hotel will be the first of many CitizenM hotels if they succeed tol roll out the concept as shown on this map of their plans:

CitizenM Map

The founders and executives of CitizenM are innovative visionaries, who have taken their well-rounded experience into realising CitizenM hotels. They are: Rattan Chadha (founder and former CEO of Mexx, director and partner of Oberoi Hotels & Resorts), Jan Wulf van Alkemade (hotel specialist), Tom Bas (former member of the board of directors of NH Hotels and Golden Tulip) and Michael Levie (former Executive and VP of Operations of various international hotel chains: Sonesta and NH Hotels). These are names to reckon with.

Here is the Video:

Blogged in the City is a Dutch language Blog about Hotels and E-commerce by Thomas Dieben who has a hotel background and is an E-commerce consultant who first picked up this news.

In the CitizenM Press release there is more information.

Seam Carving for content aware Photo resizing

Ever faced the problem of copying and pasting a too big photo in your Blog and seen your Blog losing its sidebar? Ever seen a picture mis morphed in a widget? Do you know how to fit one and the same picture in both a computer-, a PDA- and a cellphone screen without getting distortions? Then you will appreciate the following solution:

Recently, in a PDF paper Seam Carving for Content-Aware Image Resizing, Shai Avidan of Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs and Ariel Shamir of The Interdisciplinary Center & MERL, explain an algorithm they propose to coin Seam Carving to overcome a common problem when you want to present a picture in various ways, or more common, if you want your photo or picture resize with your document in an non destructive or non obtrusive way.

The following three pictures will show what they mean:
First the original photo:

Seam Carving Original
Original photo with indication of horizontal and vertical seams

If for one or another reason this photo is stretched without Seam Carving applied, you get the following distorted result:

Seam Carving Original Stretched without carving
Original Photo Stretched without applying Seam Carving.

If this photo is stretched after applying Seam Carving, it is still distorted, but in an unobtrusive way:

Seam Carving Original stretched with Seam Carving
Original stretched after applying Seam Carving

The diversity and versatility of display devices today imposes new demands on digital media. For instance, designers must create different alternatives for web-content and design different layouts for different devices. Moreover, HTML, as well as other standards, can
support dynamic changes of page layout and text. Nevertheless, up to date, images, although being one of the key elements in digital media, typically remain rigid in size and cannot deform to fit different layouts automatically. Other cases in which the size, or aspect ratio of an image must change, are to fit into different displays such as cell phones or PDAs, or to print on a given paper size or resolution.
Standard image scaling is not sufficient since it is oblivious to the image content and typically can be applied only uniformly. Cropping is limited since it can only remove pixels from the image periphery.
More effective resizing can only be achieved by considering the image content and not only geometric constraints.
We propose a simple image operator, we term seam-carving, that can change the size of an image by gracefully carving-out or inserting pixels in different parts of the image. Seam carving uses an energy function defining the importance of pixels. A seam is a connected path of low energy pixels crossing the image from top to bottom, or from left to right. By successively removing or inserting seams we can reduce, as well as enlarge, the size of an image
in both directions (see Figure 1). For image reduction, seam selection ensures that while preserving the image structure, we remove more of the low energy pixels and fewer of the high energy ones.
For image enlarging, the order of seam insertion ensures a balance between the original image content and the artificially inserted pixels.
These operators produce, in effect, a content-aware resizing of
images.

They also explain this principle in a very instructive video:

A quantum jump forward I would say.

Too Sexy to Fly?

KYLA ENNERT VS SOUTH WEST AIRLINES

Two months ago a 23 year old (I should say young) student Kyla Ebbert was reprimanded by a South West Airlines flight attendant because she was under dressed. First the flight attendant wanted to boot her, but she was allowed to continue the flight under a blanket eventually.

This “news” hit the US news networks as the girl is contemplating to sue South West Airlines.

Here the NBC coverage:

Blogger Burning Taper pointed to an early 70ies commercial of South West Airlines and questions the flight attendant’s sense of history:

Via Trendhunter Too Hot for Take off and ABC News

I would say: “This is hilarious”: Look at all those comments! The family lawyer of Kyla: “If this would have been Paris Hilton, she would have been accompanied to her seat and given a complementary drink!”

What would you say?