Wednesday May 21, 2008

One of My Worst Trips to the West Coast

I flew from Providence, Rhode Island to San Francisco yesterday through Charlotte, North Carolina on US Air. I left my house at 10:30 am and was still in transit AND STILL ON THE EAST COAST eleven hours later. I eventually arrived at my hotel in Menlo Park at about 1:30am Pacific time, an amazing 18 hours later.

I flew from Providence to Charlotte without incident--everything went sucky in Charlotte. First, US Air reset the departure time to San Francisco several times. Eventually they decided due to brake problems that we would change both gates and planes. So an Airbus worth of passengers dutifully trudged the entire length of the airport to the new gate. After more delays, we boarded the 2nd plane. Over an hour later we were still waiting because a problem had been found in one of the fire suppression systems...a problem they apparently had trouble isolating and fixing.

Around 7:30pm Eastern, about three hours after our originally planned departure, they decided it would take at least another hour to diagnose the problem so they unloaded us and distributed $10 meal vouchers to everyone. To add to the fun, heavy rains and lightning had started so no planes were leaving in any case.

About 30 minutes later they then located a third plane for us to try---back at the original gate a the other end of the airport. So, more trudging. More waiting. We finally took off at about 9:30pm Eastern, landing at 11:45pm Pacific at SFO. I made it to my hotel sometime after 1am PT.

I opted for this indirect flight over a direct BOS->SFO flight to use up a $500 airline credit before it expired, something I thought would be good to do. It clearly ended up not being worthwhile given the amount of personal wear and tear this trip caused. Even if the delays had not occurred, it isn't clear to me that flying down the east coast for two hours and then sitting in an airport for two hours before flying cross country makes any sense at all for either me or for Sun.

I am so looking forward to my flight home. Yep, complete with another lay-over in Charlotte.

Saturday Apr 26, 2008

Microsoft Releases Windows Explodé

Last week, Microsoft quietly released a new Vista feature called Windows Assured Shutdown (WAS) that allows users to press F9 on their keyboard and force a guaranteed, controlled and immediate shutdown of Vista. Microsoft suggests this feature be used in situations in which the system appears hung or otherwise unresponsive and has apparently implemented this in reaction to numerous instances of data loss due to frustrated users simply powering off their machines when they appear to hang.

Of course, the Apple community immediately leaped on this and dubbed the feature Windows Explodé, a riff on Apple's Exposé feature in Mac OS X. More details on WAS here.

Saturday Mar 22, 2008

Amazon Recommendation Engine: Single Cylinder at Best

I just received an email from Amazon, recommending a book, The TreasureHunter's Gem & Mineral Guides To The U.S.A.: Where & How to Dig, Pan And Mine Your Own Gems & Minerals: Northeast States. Admittedly, they did a good job of predicting this title might be attractive to me. However, the single review on the Amazon site gives the book only a single star and provides some fairly damning evidence that the book is, in fact, totally useless. Hardly an incentive to make a purchase...or to trust future Amazon recommendations.

While I do understand that opinions vary widely across many Amazon reviews and they should not be the final arbiters in a buy/no-buy decision, I would think the Amazon recommendation engine would make some attempt to factor the reviews into their ratings. Or, at the very least, the marketing email should include the overall reviewer rating in the advertisement.

Saturday Feb 23, 2008

Über Cool Nerd King

A silly set of questions via Geoff, but how can I not share my results now that it has been shown I'm über cool. :-) Take the Nerd Test. says I'm an Uber Cool Nerd King.  What are you?  Click here!

Sunday Jan 06, 2008

Uh, Did Parade Not Get the Memo?

In today's Boston Globe...

Monday Dec 31, 2007

Happy 1200000000

You all have fun celebrating the rollover from 12/31/2007 to 01/01/08 tonight. Me, I'm waiting for 01/10/2008 9:20pm GMT when time_t rolls over eight digits to 1200000000. Woo hoo! :-)

Thursday Dec 06, 2007

Ripping Apart an Apple

[josh rips an apple in two]

Perhaps it was my frustration with Apple's Leopard OS that drove me. Whatever the reason, I was finally able to rip an apple apart with my bare hands last night--a feat my sister-in-law demonstrated to me two years ago.

Monday Nov 26, 2007

The Horror of Recognition

[harvard college, 1981]

I came across the above photo as I was browsing through old yearbook photos on my alma mater's web site several months ago.

My first reaction was, "Oh my, they look incredibly geeky."

My second reaction was, "Hey, I recognize the guy with the sideburns!"

My third reaction was, "Oh, wait. Crap--that's me sitting next to him! What a pair."

Inexplicably, my fourth reaction was "Hey, I should post this on the blog." So there you go--a glimpse into computing and attire at Harvard in the early eighties. And eyeglass styles-- let's not forget that.

Tuesday Nov 06, 2007

Geek Humor at

Seen this morning on The Gap's website. Not intentional humor, but an error only a geek would appreciate.

Sunday Sep 30, 2007

The Monster in 16E

I flew today from Boston to SFO for Sun's Innovation@Sun conference, which starts tomorrow evening. I was happy to get an aisle exit row seat in the Premier section, but not so happy with the traveler in 16E, the seat next to mine. John, a 14-year-old boy, was traveling with his brother and parents. Brother James took the window seat, John was next to me, and their parents had the window and middle seats across the aisle from us.

I think John asked me what time it was at least eight times before the flight took off. And then he asked me to explain the rules of sudoku. And then he tried to convince me of the importance of having Jesus in my life. He was fairly persistent on this last point until his brother told him to knock it off, and I told him he shouldn't talk religion at someone if they weren't interested.

For awhile he had both feet propped up on the back of the seat in front of him, near the air phone. When I pointed out that he was annoying the man in that seat, he did move his feet and apologize. He wasn't a bad kid, just a very curious and hyperactive one, except for the proselytizing.

He was polite to the United flight attendants each time he summoned them with the call button. He used that button more on that one flight than I have had cause to use it in over a dozen years of business travel. I lost track after awhile, but I think he used it at least seven times.

One might ask what his parents were doing through all of this. Enjoying the peace and quiet on the other side of the aisle so far as I could tell...

Monday Aug 13, 2007

The Fakes Are Coming: Fake Steve...and now Fake Jonathan

As I mentioned in this entry, Fake Steve (author of The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs) was unmasked recently. In the meantime, other Secret Diaries have appeared, authored by Fake Bill Gates, Fake Steve Balmer, and now...Fake Jonathan.

I assume at some point we'll see a Secret Diary of John Mackey, but we already know who will be writing it. :-)

Tuesday Jul 31, 2007

There's Something About Mary

I had one of those "There's Something About Mary" moments at the coffee bar in Sun's Menlo Park cafeteria this morning. I ordered a large chai, which was delivered with a wonderful head of foam on top. As I popped a top onto the cup, a dollop of foam went shooting straight up out of the drinking hole at high velocity. And never came down.

At least I couldn't find it...

Monday Jul 02, 2007

Totally flipped out...

.ǝɔɐ1d ɹǝ11np ɐ ǝq p1noʍ p1ɹoʍ ǝɥʇ uǝɥʇ 'sıɥʇ ǝʞı1 sbuıɥʇ op ʇ,upıp ʎǝɥʇ ɟı 'ǝsɹnoɔ ɟo .sʎɐp ǝsǝɥʇ uo ǝɯıʇ ɹıǝɥʇ puǝds ǝ1doǝd ʇɐɥʍ ǝɯ oʇ buızɐɯɐ s,ʇı

Monday Jun 11, 2007

Why Flattening Presentations is a Good Idea

Do you publish presentations as Powerpoint or StarOffice files rather than flattening them to PDF, postscript or some other display format? If so, you should consider the possible ramifications of making those source document available, which could include inadvertently making confidential information available publically.

You might accidentally release sales figures, customer information, or in this case, the classified figures for the entire US national intelligence budget over the last 10+ years. Any comprehensive information protection program must take this sort of problem into account to be effective.

In StarOffice, use the "PDF" button to create a PDF version of your document or presentation. It can't get much simpler than that.

Friday Jun 08, 2007

Humans for Sale: How much are you worth?

[human for sale logo]

Some Friday silliness. Supply information about your physical, mental, lifestyle, personality and find out what you are worth. A new low in quizzes, but what the heck.

I am worth $1,914,938 on
How much are you worth?


Josh Simons


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