Friday, October 24, 2008

Thoughts from this week...

I spent most of this week at our company summit meeting at Lake Monomonac, in Winchendon, MA. (It's near Leominster, which is pronounced Lemon-ster.) We're a small "virtual" company-- a total of just 8 employees, and we all work from home. Up until now, I had only met 3 of my coworkers in person, so I got to meet the other 4 this week.

I started calling our meeting a retreat, because the cell phone reception was pretty sketchy, but I'm pretty sure that our retreat didn't cost $440,000 because we were staying at my boss' 3-BR / 2-Bath lake cottage and one of my coworkers brought his camper. (Wall Street should take business frugality lessons from us!)

The Tip of the Iceberg

I know that our software does some complicated engineering analysis, but this week I realized that the expression "tip of the iceberg" is a gross understatement. I would guess that probably 99% of the software is "underwater" or behind the curtain of the user interface.

Maybe that's true of every product to a certain extent. I'm sure that surgeons never stop to think about all of the analysis and testing that go into the development of the devices that they use, which is what I used to work on.

But this week I realized that now I'm on the other side, sneaking a peak at what's happening behind the curtain, and I'm feeling a little sheepish because I'm out of my element. I have written computer programs to crunch data through equations, but I am not a programmer.

My coworkers spent several hours talking about graph theory, Dinic algorithms, valency, and supernodes. They did their best to explain some of these concepts to me, but I still have only the foggiest clue of what those terms really mean.

Airport Aggravation

Am I the only one who feels bullied by airports that don't offer free WiFi access?

I mean it's bad enough that you're holding me hostage for hours with crummy overpriced food, uncomfortable seating, and noisy announcements repeated over-and-over-and-over again. (Most airports banned smoking decades ago. Do we still need announcements to remind people of this fact?!?) Couldn't you please just let me check my email and surf the internet for an hour for free, to help take my mind off of how tired and miserable I am?

I really don't feel like I'm being unreasonable here.

I suspect that most people are like me-- They boot up their computer to see if there is a free connection, but when they find out that they have to pay for access, they just shut everything down again. (I actually use my iPod touch to test the waters first, so I don't have to deal with the hassle of waiting for my computer to boot up.) Because it's not worth paying $8-10 just to get online for 45 minutes. And if the cost isn't really the issue, then there's the hassle of having to submit the credit card charges for reimbursement on an expense account.

I just wonder how much revenue is actually being generated by the exclusive partnerships between airports and the internet service providers for "pay by the hour" access?

On that note, I just have to say that Dayton is a nice little airport. Free WiFi access, reasonable parking, quick security lines, and much cheaper flights than Cincinnati. I just wish they were closer to my house. I had to get up at 2:45am on Monday morning so that I could leave my house at 4am, and I was still a little bit rushed catching my 6:10 flight. So my busy week got off to a very early start!

I'm a Mac

I love these commercials, and I think The Bean Counter is especially great.

Maybe it's just fun to cheer for the underdog, but seriously, Microsoft has made themselves such an easy target with Vista...

You know you've really screwed up when you have to disguise your product as something else (i.e. the "Mojave" commercials) in order to get people to even consider taking a look at it.

My coworkers (i.e. brilliant software developers) have struggled with serious problems installing Vista on their computers, so I have a hard time believing that Vista is ready for prime-time.

No comments: