Rants Travel Work

Back Home for a Bit

I have finally returned from my whirlwind tour of Europe and NYC.  Although my body isn’t sure which time zone it’s in, I am sure that I’m home again.  Where else can you say that the taxi drivers speak less English than they do in other countries?

I’ll be travelling again later this week, but hopefully this stop will be long enough for some clothes washing and a little sleep.  Yawn is the order of the day, for sure.

General Travel Work

Lost in the Netherlands

On stop 2 of my long work trip I managed to get seriously lost driving from Amsterdam to Eindhoven in the Netherlands.  This seems to be a pattern with me and going places for work stuff these days: get off the plane, get in a rental car, drive around lost for hours.

In this case the rental car was a super crappy Mercedes A class mini-econo-box with a stick shift and a top speed of 130kph.  I did eventually make it to my hotel around midnight for a meeting the next morning at 9am.  But I proceeded to get lost searching for the next hotel in Amsterdam, so it seems that my navigation skills are sadly lacking.  Ditto on reading Norse road signs.

Rants Travel Work

Why Commercial Flights Suck, Again

This week I took a series of flights from San Jose to Austin, Texas, then on to Denver, Colorado, and back to San Jose again.  I shouldn’t be surprised at it any more, but the terrible conditions that now exist in airports is quite appalling.

Previously I would almost never check my bag.  Now, because I’d like to have toothpaste and shampoo available when I fly I must check bags in.  This leads to more time in line, more chances for missed flights, and of course, lost or severely delayed luggage.  Going through Denver, I experienced the severe delay and ended up leaving the airport far later than planned (1 hour later to be exact).

On the trip back I witnessed a conversation between a TSA agent and a weary traveler in the screening line.  In short, the agent told the passenger that if he had only limited his carry-on fluids to 4 ounces (or thereabouts) he could have gotten them on the plane.  In fact, the agent said that the TSA would have allowed the passenger to take on more than one container, perhaps shampoo, mouthwash, and toothpaste, if the passenger had been more smart about the packing.  In the end, the passenger departed with no toiletries.

At Denver I was given the choice to fly on my scheduled flight, but have my baggage arrive on a much later flight, or wait around for the later flight and go with the same plane that had my bag.  I took the later, and that was a huge mistake.  Nearly 3 hours late and a nearly unbearable wait later, I finally got on a plane an headed home.

The moral of these stories is to fly without toothpaste, shampoo, or any of the other comforts of home.  Give up trying to make things work the way they once did (and should again) and demand that hotels start providing these goods for the traveler.  Only then will some sanity return to commercial air travel.

General Rants Work

Commercial Flight Suckage

Again today I had to take a flight somewhere for just the day, then return home.  And again the wonderful TSA had to find a way to make it miserable.  In San Jose they have so few checkpoints that the line to get into the waiting area was out the door.  They also had only small paper signs telling people what could or couldn’t be taken on planes, so of course many people missed those signs and then got combatitive at the checkpoints.

On the way back, in Burbank’s airport, for an unknown reason all TSA checkpoints were shut down for at least 30 mins.  The national guard was on hand to randomly pick people for extra searches.  No explanation was given, but eventually the lines moved again, but not soon enough for a group of people to completly miss their flights to Phoenix, then get angry at the gate agent.

Thanks again TSA!  You’re the reason why we’ll all be traveling by bus in the not so distant future.

Rants Work

Why Adding More Features Doesn't Work

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (and again):  adding lots of features to a product because your competitors do isn’t a smart strategy.  You end up being a follower all the time and you don’t have a good, rational argument for adding the feature (did the customer tell you they wanted it???).

But don’t take my word for it, go read this story that makes it clear (again) that adding features for features (or competitors) sake is just a dead-end deal.  Nice graphs on the subject there too.



Today is day one of being off the Sony corporate gravy train. I’m both sad and relieved to be no longer employed by the electronics giant, but mostly I’m sad. The way in which I left was sub-optimal and I really miss the people I worked directly with, mainly because I’ve worked with so many of them before. In short, it sucks to have left this job.

That said, it wasn’t a healthy environment for me. I was coming into work each day with the knowledge that I was not wanted there any longer, and it isn’t a good thing to have that type of pressure on you for months. I do hope the guys I worked with find something to do that Sony supports, but I tend to doubt that it will come to pass. That’s too bad, because the team I left does something well that is badly needed there: software. It will be a loss to the company to lose their talents and ultimately the consumer will lose out as well.

General Work

You Just Never Know Who Knows You

I had an interesting talk today with someone I’d never met, but had worked in the same industry with for the last 10 or so years. Without having talked to me before, and based solely on where I had been and what I had said in the public eye this person recommended me to others. I just sat there stunned.

It seems that whenever I need a reminder of the old rule “don’t burn your bridges” one comes along to remind me. This occasion offered just such a reminder and I’m greatful that, thus far, I haven’t managed to make all that many technology people mad at me over the years. Customers, well, they are a different story 😛

Rants Work

The Long, Dark Road

I don’t normally write about work, but things have been getting a bit rough these days.  After spending some serious time over the last year getting a product built and shipped (even though I didn’t approve of shipping it) the public reception left a lot to be desired.  And that is putting it mildly.

Now there is a full-on, wholesale re-org coming and where things end up no one is quite sure yet.  The engineering team isn’t in the best of spirits, and I can’t say that I blame them, given this situation.  My only hope at this point is that we can salvage some learning out of the process and vow never to be pushed into doing what was done again.

Rants Work

Back from CES

I have just returned from CES, that large consumer electronics and computer show in Las Vegas, and I am just beat.  Why people must insist on smoking so much I will never know, but I now have the smell to remind me of the time spent there this past week.

It was 4 days of meetings, endless walking, dinners, drinking, and for some (not yours truly) gambling.  2006 will be the year of both big screen (hi-def) and small screen (portable video) given what I saw there.  Plenty of reasons to go out and buy that HDTV or new phone / PDA / portable device you’ve been swearing off.

There were also some of the most amazing looking women on the planet there too, but precious few of them are in the industry.  I managed to miss the high-wattage star power in attendance as well: Robin Williams, Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Kevin Federline, Britney Spears, Tom Hanks, Bill Gates, just to name a few. 

I did see Lazlow, and hear that he’s continuing to rock on with his other jobs, despite his weekly radio experiment being over.  One can only hope that it rises from the ashes to help shake us from the lameness that is today’s free radio experience.

Rants Work

Tired and Out of Sorts

I’ve entered month two of very little to no sleep during the week, thanks to a grueling and completely unrealistic product shipment schedule. In a move I will forever regret, I volunteered my services to be both product manager and UI/layout developer, ensuring that I work the same crazy hours I normally assign to the engineering team.

I have to say now that I don’t know how the tech folks live like this, because on weekends all I do is get up around noon, watch a little TV, do a little more work, then head back to sleep. I really hope this project ends soon, as I can’t imagine what a third month of this zombie state would be like.