Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

A somewhat recurring theme in life seems to be where its still OK to write software in M/MUMPS.

Discussion here in an open LinkedIn group:

Maybe this is really for my technical journal, but its really about bad questions and business decisions.


Dvorak on Privacy

Author: Lyle,2817,2387907,00.asp

Really think through your on-line life. I’m old enough to remember that embarrassing moments were just moments. Sometimes remembered, but rarely recorded. In the era of internet connect cameras in our pockets, we’re leaving an electronic trail behind us in everything we do. The conclusion is that we’ll all end up regretting a lot of posting and pictures, or we’ll have a society with no sense of shame. They are both bad endings.

Zero Email Policy

Author: Lyle

An ABC News article reports on a French company that is instituting a “no Email policy” – a transition to remove Email as a method for internal communication.  They report that only 10% of the messages have value, and 18% are pure spam, so they are moving to have all internal communication be instant messages and an internal Facebook-type application (perhaps “Chatter” from Salesforce?).

Feels like this article was sent to me from people hearing me mutter at my desk.

Maryland is a tough state to purchase quality beverages in, especially if you like trying new things.  Montgomery County is an even tougher county in the middle of this tough state.  Residents finally have some relief, after a long, long, hard battle with retail beverage interests who spend a lot of money on elections.

Maryland Direct Shipping Permit Applications Available – ShipCompliant.

The Blog: Bloglines Update.

So I made my daily click over to Bloglines, and was met with the announcement above.  Stunned – I’ve been relatively free from having things I like taken away like this.

While its easy to understand how a product can decide to fold, their announcement that RSS is essentially old and not useful in the world of Facebook and Twitter is really missing the point of RSS as a technology, and as its used in products like Bloglines.  If you only get your news from blogs, I suppose you might think RSS is just replication of Twitter feeds or Facebook “walls”.  However, most of the RSS feeds I monitor on Bloglines are publications; Washington Post, local papers, technical publications, etc.  While there are some blogs in there, I’m not really spending a lot of time running through personal thoughts.

I used to run a desktop RSS reader.  I sought out a web based one as I was using multiple computers; its a stronger solution for keeping track of what is read.  Bloglines was the best at that time I suppose, and its nested folders of feeds and aggregation of this was very convenient.  But, no more, they are closing their doors October 1st.

But, I’m certainly not moving over to Twitter for this news.  The 140 character limit crushes URLs into masked links, and I’m not aware of a method for the grouping and aggregation.  Honestly, the purpose of Twitter escapes me; its more like an extremely limited RSS feed than the direction of RSS type communication.

So, the consensus seems to be to move RSS reading over to Google Reader.  I tried this previously; it seemed OK, just not worth a switch.  But, move to Twitter?  Don’t think so.

Dulles Aero Train

Author: Lyle

The real excitement is that this is my first YouTube video.  Shot with the trusty Canon PowerShot SD400.

This is the replacement for the famous Dulles “Mobile Lounge” trucks.  I was previously against this improvement, as it took away that glorious 1960’s vibe that went along with the distinctive Dulles architecture.  However, while it seems to have lengthened the security time at Dulles, the new trains retain their 1960’s vibe with the new 2001 A Space Oddessey styling queues.

Video below shows the ride.  The interiors of the tunnels could have been better done, although I’m guessing that they were thinking most people aren’t in the front of the train and wouldn’t see the tunnels.  They nailed the stations, however, including the awesome glowing light bridge. – weblog – archives.

Really great commentary on copyright from a composer who finds his sheet music regularly traded online.  He posts an exchange with someone on the other side, but there is a tremendous, articulate writing of the creator’s view.

There is also the heated, normal full spectrum from the idiotic to the thoughtful on Slashdot.

I spent the week traveling. Six flights from Tuesday to Friday.  Because of all the clothing needed I ended up carrying a suitcase I couldn’t carry on, but had to check it.  These days, of course, this is to be avoided since the airlines have added fees for bags (except Southwest) and at many airports the delays between getting off the plane and getting your bag can be huge.  But, I had no choice, and got to experience again the joys of checked bags on American, Delta, and United, through 4 different airports.

The background is that airlines are hurting for revenue, and have added fees for all kinds of things.  There are fees for checking bags (around $25 for one bag), fees for food ($5 and $8 for “airline quality” food, credit card only), fees for changing flights, fees for comfortable seats, fees for preferred seats, and in the case of United there are now fees for cashing in earned miles.  I’ll focus on the $25 checked bag fee.

We already have a mechanism for avoiding checked bags; the delays associated with waiting for your bag after the flight.  This isn’t an issue universally, some airports seem to have an ability to get the bag to baggage claim by the time you walk to it from the plane (DCA is a standout in this way).  Others seem to send the bag to baggage claim “within 30 minutes or less”, leaning toward the 30 minute edge (BWI, unfortunately, is in this category).  Now, we’ve added a $25 hit for this service, even more for more than one bag.  Since this can add $50 to the cost of a round trip ticket, more and more people are avoiding the checked bag process.

Which leads to more and more people showing up at the gate with large bags to carry on.  There are always passengers showing up with bags that are too large to fit into overhead bins.  The typical business traveler has a laptop bag attached to a roll-aboard suitcase, the latter of which has to go overhead.  This setup guarantees that by the time half the passengers have boarded all the overhead storage space is full and there is chaos in the aisle as people look for space above and plead with the cabin staff about how their bag cannot go in the cargo space below.  It’s pretty clear air travel is an essential service, as no one would put up with a process this prone to disappointment, discourtesy, and delays for the pleasure of the experience.

The solution seems impossible to implement; have the bags predictably in baggage claim areas in the time it takes passengers to walk from the gate.  Then, reduce the fees to $10 or $15 a bag, where it will seem like a reasonable fee for the service and not a penalty imposed on customers that have no alternative.

Side issue: Southwest seems to win again by advertising no bag fees.  Their ticket prices have crept up and their planes are completely full as far as I can tell.

Business Opportunity: Use FedEx or someone for a service to send you bag from home to your hotel overnight.  I’m sure they could beat the $25 price point in some ways.


Author: Lyle

Nice article on Jeff Beck on USA

After vegging out, guitar god Jeff Beck takes a sharp turn –

We’re looking forward to his tour this summer!

Aye, Pad!

Author: Lyle

Walked down to the Apple store today and held the new iPad in my hand.  It is a very impressive bit of engineering.  Has enough heft to it that it feels substantial (most likely the weight is all glass and batteries), yet is held easily in a single hand.  The Email and book reader applications were particularly impressive, and using this instead of a laptop for these functions seems like a real step up.

Looking forward to a more extended exploration, once the hordes of teenagers are back in school.