Monday, September 25, 2006

Winners are grinners

I mentioned back in June that I was travelling to New Zealand's capital city (Wellington) to present a proposal to the government there. I received word last night (that's Monday morning New Zealand time) that we won the project. I'm sure it was my presentation that made all the difference!

That means two trips across the Pacific this year for two wins. That makes the pain of the long haul travel a little easier to take, although it means at least one and probably two more trips before the year is over. Unfortunately I don't know if I can squeeze in both trips before the ski season begins in just 58 days.

Hopefully my recent travels to Hong Kong and Beijing, China will also result in wins. That would make for a very good year.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Pardon me but your outsourcing is showing

I decided recently to change my cell (mobile) phone carrier. I've previously mentioned my dissatisfaction with my current carrier Verizon, but that wasn't the reason because I figure the other guys will be just as bad.

I travel extensively in other countries where they use a different standard (GSM) from the common US standard, so I wanted a handset and number that I could use for international roaming. That meant changing to a carrier that uses GSM.

What I got at the end of the process was "the credit department says you'll need to pay a $250 deposit." I could understand that because even though I now have a solid credit rating unlike two years ago when I basically didn't exist as far as the credit bureaus were concerned, you can quickly rack up a very big bill with international roaming and it's real money that your carrier owes the other carrier whether you pay your bill or not.

What floored me was the rest of the statement:

"...and we don't have any way to take a deposit."

Who the hell designs a business process that requires a deposit from a potential customer and then doesn't have a mechanism to actually, you know, collect the deposit? My guess is that either or both of the credit department and the call centre are outsourced. So to save say a buck fifty on the cost of handling the call, t-Mobile has lost a potentially very lucrative customer. Yes, I'm still with Verizon.

This one is close to the dumbest, most baffling business process I've ever seen. Ah, but they have Catherine Zeta-Jones on their ads, so I suppose that's OK.

Friday, September 22, 2006

More snow

Today is supposedly the official end of summer (the autumnal equinox). But winter is keen to get started here in Steamboat.

The run you can see in the centre of the picture is Westside and you can just see a little of Rolex to the left of that.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

First snow for the season

Two days ago it was 80 F (26 C). This morning it was 35 F (2 C) in the valley and less on the mountain. This was the view from our window that greeted us around 8 am.

Unfortunately the annual rubby ducky race which raises funds for the hospital was cancelled due to the surge in the river from the run off. The local boy scouts who have to wade in to the river to retrieve the ducks as they cross the finish line would either have been washed away or snap frozen. I wonder what sort of badge you'd get for that?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A different sort of flying

Today I went out with my friend Michael flying radio controlled planes.

First we had to get the car loaded. It's quite tricky arranging all the pieces while leaving enough room for a couple of folding chairs, a thermos of coffee and all the other creature comforts.

Then we drove to the field out past Tharwa on the south side of Canberra. The yellow biplane (above) is an old one he kindly took along for me to practice on. Here's Michael with his plane. Note the plane behind him, you'll see it again soon.

Take off.

In flight.

As impressive as the models are (and they are, because they have an incredible power to weight ratio) , they're engineered to be cheap and fast. The little plastic guys in the cockpit aren't afraid of dying, so safety is not a consideration. So there's plenty of things that can go wrong, and when they do it can be quite spectacular. An aileron servo gave way in mid flight on one of the other planes (the one behind Michael in the photo above) and the result was a complete loss of control and finally a spinning dive into the ground at full throttle. The owner of the plane was suprisingly willing to have the results displayed here for all the world to see!