Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Blogs, blogs and more blogs

This page contains a list of official us government blogs. Interesting blogs include
  • EPA's National Dialogue on Access to Environmental Information – EPA's online discussion about identifying and sharing the best resources, tools, and ideas for improving access to EPA's environmental information.
  • Health Marketing Musings – A blog about research, science, and practice in health marketing and communication, social marketing, information technology, public health partnerships, and more with Jay Bernhardt, Director of CDC's National Center for Health Marketing.
  • NASA Goddard CIO Blog – NASA Goddard CIO, Linda Y. Cureton, blogs about technology, leadership, and being a Chief Information Officer.
  • Pushing Back – Office of National Drug Control Policy blog to educate Americans about illegal drugs and the latest international, federal, state, and local efforts to reduce drug use (i like the name :-))

Monday, June 16, 2008

Gas saving tips

I am not big into 12 step programs. If I cannot remember it of the top of my head, I have trouble changing my behavior. So here are the 4 things I am doing differently to save gas by increasing the fuel economy of our vehicles. YMMV
  • Keep your engine below 3000 rpms. This typically translates to drive on or below speed limit. I rarely exceed 65mph these days. It is yet to make me late to an appointment btw :-)
  • Use cruise control as often as possible. Your vehicle is a lot more efficient at moderating gas usage than you ever will be so cruise control is your friend.
  • Avoid braking hard. Anticipate stops and watch out for red lights and slow down proactively. Hard breaking burns a lot of fuel.
  • Try to group your errands together. Cold starting your engine (been over 3hrs since you last drove the car) consumes twice as much fuel as if your engine was running recently. This might not be a big deal for us in Texas heat but nonetheless a good bit of advice to keep in mind.
Good luck :)

Friday, June 13, 2008

I have to make it official

I am a Celtics fan. I did think I was rooting for the Lakers in the finals but a couple of things made me realize who I am truly rooting for
  1. Sports Guy for the Celtics. The Lakers don't have a Sports Guy, they have a bunch of gucci totting spectators (spectators not fans).
  2. Curt Schilling's blog observations on Kobe's leadership.
  3. Kobe's leadership. Seriously watch him - this man has one thing in mind - it is all about 24.
  4. Celtics team play - way cool .... watch how they hung around Ray Allen till he started to take of in the last round, watch how Sam Cassell got the bench fired up for game 4 (he is stinking on everything else btw), watch how they make eye contact.
Statistics are not truths, they are pithy descriptions of the past. So the fact that no team has ever won after being down 1-3 in the finals does not mean it won't happen. It just means it is really really really hard for it to happen.

I want the Celtics to win. I was rooting for the Lakers because they beat the Spurs. I live in Texas and if anything I am a Suns fan (stupid me), i know complicated logic.

I just had to take a public stance for my own integrity. Kobe is way too self absorbed imo and i just don't see how I can root for his team. He might be the most talented player in the league right now (not PER, raw talent) but boy is he a d$%^&bag. Anyways :-) I hope the Celts make it.

p.s thanks Sports guy.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Obama announces his director of economic policy

Get to know him.
  1. Slate article from April 4th
  2. Debate on the stimulus package.
  3. Other interactions on mankiw's blog.

What AA could have done better yesterday

Kim and I were flying out of Chicago yesterday. Kim was returning to Austin while I was going to Pittsburgh for a day and then to Austin on Monday (tonight). Here are the facts:
  • Kim's Austin flight was cancelled and she was automatically booked on an 8am flight for Monday. I had to repeatedly hit '0' till I could talk to some one real. I was then able to book Kim on a 9:45pm flight out of Chicago (Sunday night). They had no answer to why this was not offered as an initial choice.
  • My flight to Pittsburgh showed up as being on time.
This is what transpired through the evening:
  • By the time I got to O'Hare (for my 4:15 departure), the crowd had grown. Flights had been cancelled initially due to weather and the domino effect was building up exponentially.
  • I checked in my bag.
  • My flight was rescheduled three times and was eventually canceled.
  • My bag was going to Pittsburgh whether I was or not.
  • I got in a line with ~200 people in front of me, called AA advantage desk and was put on hold for 15 mins (the line moved 3 people).
  • Finally I got a person who explained to me that the earliest they could get me into Pittsburgh was Tuesday. My meeting was for Monday so I asked to be booked on the same flight as Kim which was now moved to 10:40PM. They were able to do that.
  • Kim showed up at O'Hare. We got on the flight, which finally departed at 11:45 and we made it into Austin around 2:30AM.
This is what AA could have done better - remember O'Hare is AA's hub so if they have the most resources in any airport in the country, it is at O'Hare.
  • Red phone lines are good. AA set up red phones with direct access to AA help line. But 3 to 8 lines is a joke when you have 2000 stranded passengers. You are only going to create chaos, confusion and feed the rage.
  • Buy free wifi for a day for the whole freaking airport. Chicago has boingo providing WiFi but you have to pay 7$ for a day pass. AA should have opened free wifi access so people can start connecting with the outside world quickly.
  • I called the AA Advantage help line and got an automated voice recognition system. I kept repeating "Operator Assistance" and it kept telling me "I understand you would like to talk to someone, have you considered the automated options". Seriously ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND? I am in line with a gentleman who is flying international and he has to hit 4 countries in 5 days and you have screwed his schedule royally, the least you can do is allow him to talk to someone. Especially since the automated options HAVE NO OPTION FOR CANCELLED FLIGHTS.
  • Set up drink and snack stations. Not saying cater gourmet food but realize that O'Hare has not meaningful food/drink options unless you go through the security check. You have 1000's of people standing in line outside waiting to get re booked BECAUSE OF YOU (weather but from their pov - YOU!). At least have some quick healthy snacks and bottled water around to help people calm down.
  • Learn from your mistakes. This is the fourth or fifth time this is happening on a massive scale this year. Why is there no improvement in how AA responds to these situations? Weather is going to be a #$%#$, get used to it. But you can at least work harder on your response plan.
  • Prioritize - I would have gladly let the gentleman trying to make 4 countries in 5 days ahead of me but you should help him get there. There is no way he is going to verbally make his case to 250 people and get in the front of the line.
  • Deal with emergencies - I saw no paramedics on post or people monitoring for emergency situations. What if someone went into labour, what if an elderly person got into serious distress. What if 4 of these scenarios happened simultaneously across the airport. There did not seem to be a plan in place...

This is just the top of my head. I am sure Weather is an unpredictable factor for any airline but there is only so much you can blame on weather.

Oh btw AA, nice knowing you. I am definitely jumping on the Herb Kelleher bandwagon. Adios.
(I still want my bag back btw).

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

A biker's nightmare

Stupid drunk drivers. Seriously, what a shame and what a waste of life. Click on the image for the story.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Product Management: Thought exercise

If you were to product manage this, what would you dream about?