Why is it that…

When you are joining a conference call, and you are prompted to speak your name and press pound or hash, you suddenly have to cough, sneeze, burp etc?  Never fails…

Travel blues

I know that in a perfect world, all the presence and meeting tools would obviate the need for business travel.

However, if you live in the real world, and you are a product manager, you realize that some significant fraction of your time needs to be spent on the road.  Be it visiting customers, technology partners, or pressing the flesh at events (roadshows, tradeshows, conferences, etc).

In the new world, where the airlines are consolidating, reducing the number of seats, and working to maximize their revenue generation potential, any flexibility and perq’s you used to enjoy as a frequent flyer are about as rare as hen’s teeth.  As a Gold (or 1K) level member on United, I used to enjoy early boarding, priority baggage (not only free but with the magical flag in the tag to get your bags spun first), about 90% of the time an empty seat next to you (really nice in coach on an international flight), and a pretty liberal upgrade policy (like auto 1st class upgrades domestically).

Now, with every flight sold out, you get none of the upgrades or open seats.  The baggage still gets the priority tag, but the ground crew pretty much ignores the priority.  Upgrades are pretty much reserved for the 1K members, or global services.  And the real clincher, there are so few open seats, that you can’t book mile sponsored tickets to any desirable destination, or on convenient dates.

Add to that a plethora of canceled flights (I suspect to keep the open seats on other flights non-existent), oversolf flights, airplanes that aren’t cleaned (if you find used tissues, orange peels and banana peels in seat back pockets, well, ick).

There really aren’t any good aspects to business travel.

Remember when?

If you had an early eveneing flight, and got done early, you could go to the airport and have a reasonable chance of flying home earlier on Standby?

Yeah, those days are gone.  Too full flights, and the mentality of nickel and diming passengers to death have killed this little bit of flexibility that us frequent travelers used to enjoy.

Sigh, as I contemplate a trip this week.

Huge backlog of blog postings

So many great topics that are languishing in my head:

Marketing: Momentum is a bad thing – because we always have done it doesn’t mean that we should continue in perpetuity

Marketing/Product Management – Data – Use it to decide whether to continue in, or enter a business

Marketing/Product Management: Is it too much to ask Business Development for even a cursory business case with their proposals?

Product Management: A year and a major release under Agile.  The good, the bad and the ugly (ok, not so much ugly)

Living with the iPad 2 – Why did I ever consider it frivolous?  

Product Management: Tool roundup part II (or is it III?  I forget)


What is worse …

than driving behind a Hybrid car that is “hyper-miling”*?

Following behind an ginormous SUV hyper-miling.  Seriously, you bought a 12MPG land yacht, so why do you try to stretch your gas milage to 13MPG by taking 1/2 mile to get to 35 MPH?  Seriously, you need a cranial examination

*Hyper-miling – the practice of trying to get the last distance out of each gallon of gas.  Slow to start & accelerate, even slower/longer deceleration.  High inflation pressure (reduces rolling resistance, but is very dangerous) and other tricks you share in the internet

Irrational response to prices

As I was bombarded with yet another sales manager grumbling about prices being too high (we are the market leader, and if we lower our price, all our competitors will match), it dawned on me that prices bring out irrational behavior.

A classic example is gasoline prices.  As the cost per gallon rises, you hear a lot of grumbling, and people will do irrational things to respond, including:

1) Trade in an SUV at a ruinous tradein value for a Prius and pay $2K or more over sticker for the prius.  If you run the numbers, you realize that you will NEVER save enough on gas to trade in a serviceable vehicle for a new one, and pay over sticker to boot.

2) Drive all over town to save a penny or two per gallon.  Seriously, even if you have a 25 gallon tank like I did in my old truck, that is a $0.50 in saving.  If you burn a quarter gallon of gas (driving 5 miles in my truck) to save that much, you barely break even.

3) Shop at Arco.  This is the worst of them all.  They are typically a penny or two lower than the nearby neighbor.  But they attract a clientelle that will drive out of their way (see #2 above) and will wait in line several cars worth to buy gas.  Furthermore, they invariably have one pay station that is the most user unfriendly to use (you again wait in line, and have to navigate several steps to pay for gas).  It clearly is a lose, lose, lose situation, but their shoppers are convinced that they are getting a good deal.

Long week.

Well, this was a grueling week.  Our thrice a year extended management team meetings happened, and I had two (interlinked) updates to present.  It all went well, but it was a couple of 10 hour days of meetings, a seriously draining week.

Now, I am headed out for a vacation, long planned and seriously needed.  Staying in the east bay area, we will be sipping wine in Sonoma, and doing touristy things in San Francisco.  Sunday I will be participating in the 100th running of the Bay to Breakers race.

Science geek cred

How can you start a science geek thread that will quickly spread to hundreds of replies, and long nostalgic trips down memory lane?

Post something about old HP calculators.  This morning there was a Slashdot posting about the HP12C financial calculator.  Very quickly this turned into a couple hundred postings about 29C’s, 15C’s, 16C’s, 41C/CV/CX and the venerable 48 series.

Then discussions about RPN versus algebraic.

Ah, I have three of these gems myself.  A 15C, a 41CV, and a 48GX.  I have a 15C emulator (that is amazingfly accurate) on my iPhone.

Geek heaven.

What is it about deadlines?

I suspect I am not alone in this.  

How come my best work (analysis, strategy, planning etc) comes when I am under a severe deadline?

It isn’t polished.  I don’t have illustrative images.  But at crunch time, the threads in the data that are needed to justify the path forward just “pop out”.

It may not be pretty, but I am not complaining.