Archive for August, 2010

 Hey Airline Industry!

Recent surveys have indicated that the airlines are getting worse instead of better when it comes to customer satisfaction, one of the key areas being on-time arrivals. Now it doesn’t take a genius to realize that arriving on time is heavily dependent on departing on time, so it follows that anything an airline can do to reduce the amount of time a plane sits at the gate will serve to improve this valuable metric. And yet, the airlines continue to make decisions that will most likely have the opposite effect.

I travel fairly frequently, so I get to see the impact of these decisions first hand. First, the whole charging extra for baggage thing has had a direct impact on the time it takes to load the plane and push back from the gate, as passengers now have incentive to carry on luggage that was never intended to be carried on. This holds up other passengers, while they try to figure out how to wedge a 60-pound steamer trunk in the overhead bin. Second, you have American Airlines implementing new policies allowing coach passengers pay extra to reserve the prime seats closest to the exit, essentially creating a new class of passengers — Super Coach? First Class Lite? This will only serve to further clog the aisle in a process that was not flowing all that smoothly to begin with.

Which brings me to the point of this rant. I’m used to being assigned a group number that determines what order the passengers are allowed to board the plane. Has anyone else noticed that membership in these groups seems to be completely random, and that your seat assignment seems to have no bearing? Here’s an idea: if you’re going to go to the trouble of breaking us up into groups to board your lousy airplanes, why not do it in something approaching a logical manner? For instance, American Airlines has six groups (not counting First Class, and all the other priority seating classes). It seems to me that Group 1 should be all windows seats in the rear half of the plane, Group 2 should be all window seats in the front half. Group 3 should be middle seats in the rear, while Group 4 is middle seats in front. And finally, Groups 5 and 6 should be aisle seats in the aft and fore respectively.

If the airline industry cannot manage even simple steps such as this to streamline the boarding process, then they are doomed to continue failing to meet customer expectations. And don’t even get me started on lost luggage.

 Google Sketchup

This has been on my todo list forever, and today I finally got around to it. I’ve been wanting to learn how to use Google Sketchup ever since it was released and they are now on version 7, so that should tell you how long I’ve been putting it off. Sketchup is a free CAD/CAM software package for doing 3-D design work. It is really easy to learn, especially after viewing the tutorial videos that Google provides. After watching about 20 minutes of video and playing around with it for about an hour, this fancy end table is my first creation. Not bad, huh? I’m going to continue playing with it until I improve my skills and then I plan to use it to sketch some home improvement projects that I have brewing.

 Netopia 3347 DSL Modem/Router

At the suggestion of an AT&T technician, I upgraded my old router and DSL modem to this Netopia 3347 combination unit, and I am very glad I did. He notified me that my old DSL modem, a Slipstream 4100 B that I purchased at Best Buy about a year ago, was actually two or three generations old already and that upgrading to this particular device had solved a connection problem for another customer he had helped.

I had been experiencing the same connection problem when streaming video from the internet. Since setting up our Home Theater PC, and saying goodbye to DirecTV, we have been watching a lot more streaming content, Netflix in particular. The video from Netflix and a few other sites (CNET, YouTube, etc.) would frequently stutter or pause for long periods to buffer content, making it unwatchable, but upgrading to this new hardware has solved all of those problems. It’s also one less box taking up space and electricity.