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'Golden ticket' holders try out Dubai's new metro...after the Sheikh

Dubai's VIPs swarmed its new metro system for the grand opening, taking advantage of the unique date. To steal a line from Blake, it's good to be a Sheikh in Dubai:

When a giant clock reached 09:09:09 on 9/9/09, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the UAE, swiped a personalised plastic card at a ticket barrier and took his place as the first passenger on a network that will, when finished, have cost an estimated Dh28 billion (US$7.6bn).

The first two trains were filled by VIPs but eventually, lucky members of the general public were allowed to take part in the festivities. 

A little later, a third train left the Nakheel Harbour and Tower station with 400 members of the public, the winners of “golden tickets”, picked from about 10,000 people who entered an online competition.
One of them, MV Martin, said: “I can’t believe I am going to be part of history.”

With all the layoffs in Dubai and abandoned luxury cars everywhere, the Metro could provide a cheaper transport option. Or maybe abandoned cars are still available for bargain prices? 

KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images

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South Africa's Internet: Not faster than a speeding pigeon

South African tech company Unlimited IT was so frustrated with the slow Internet speeds provided by Telkom, one of South Africa's biggest internet providers, that it hired a pigeon named Winston. As the Times of South Africa reports, Winston carried a 4gb memory card from one branch of Unlimited IT to another, far faster than Telkom's transfer speed:  

The 11-month-old pigeon flew 80km from a call centre in Howick, outside Pietermaritzburg, to a head office in Hillcrest, Durban, to prove a bird is faster at transferring data than Telkom’s ADSL lines.

Winston made his delivery in 2 hours 6 minutes and 57 seconds, beating Telkom’s estimated download time of up to two days. By the time the memory card, carrying company data, had been collected from Winston and downloaded by midday, the ADSL download had managed 100MB of data.

The Christian Science Monitor's Scott Balduf, based in Johannesburg, explains why the story is more significant than just good publicity for Ultimate and Winston:

Africans pay some of the highest prices for some of the least reliable Internet service in the world. And if a country like South Africa – relatively prosperous and developed – can't solve this problem, then it's going to need a lot more pigeons.

Telkom has since responded to the South Africa Press Association and denied responsibility for Ultimate's Internet connection woes.

flickr/dubliniete