Happy travel tales

In the span of one week, I've been to five airports (EWR, DFW, PHX, ORD, and LGA), and had to pass through security at four (all but DFW), and I'm happy to report that the security process was actually pleasant! Staff was courteous and efficient at every airport I went to. There was always a manager overseeing the operations. Directions were clear and consistent. And though the process was still onerous: laptops need to be removed from bags and x-rayed separately, shoes and belts removed (the man ahead of me at LGA looked as if he were doing a strip show, removing his jacket, belt, and shoes before being allowed through), there was a comforting consistency in the routine no matter where I was. Another plus — whether due to war or process improvements I can't say — was the lack of lines. In every airport I was through security in under ten minutes. Add to that the ease of check-in (e-ticket boarding passes printed out from airport kiosks and twice from my home printer!) and the experience was as good as you can expect these days.

Crazy travels mapped!

Bryan's created a really cool application called IndyJunior which takes an XML file of latitudes and longitudes and creates a Flash map of one's travels. I've set mine up here: www.megnut.com/travels.asp so you can watch me crisscross the continent and the Atlantic over the next few months. Lest you think I'll wear myself out with all this, I've sworn off travel after June and will go awondering no more. At least until fall. Really. I swear!

The weblog revolution

I've posted my keynote from the 2003 Midwestern Conference on Film, Language, and Literature. It's a 250 KB PowerPoint document entitled, "The Weblog Revolution: How technology and amateurs are changing the way we communicate." My slides tend to be pretty bland and don't cover a lot of the talk, but I guess you'll get the gist, if you're interested. I'll try to get an HTML version online later today, but for now I'm just going to go listen to some other people speak for a while. I'm happy to have it over with!

Update: Here's the HTML version. It's generated straight from PowerPoint, so it's pretty ugly, but you, again, will get the idea of the presentation.

Moblogging!

Coming to you live from LGA via the Sidekick, with not much to say except I wanted to try this out and airport CNN is driving me crazy. It is so full of non-news and rife with "supposedly" and "maybe" and "perhaps". Also too omnipresent is the American smile while reporting about things like the "bunker buster," one of America's largest bombs. Yippee! I'll be happy when this bout of travel is complete and I can never watch CNN again.

Huh, weird. This didn't actually publish properly, hence its late arrival. But it did post to MT. Must be something odd with MT, the Sidekick, and page reloading? Any one?

Bad server juju

Alas, shortly after I arrived in Arizona a pox fell upon the web server and it was down and out for a couple of days, allowing none of the exciting reporting from the road that I'd thought about providing. It came back up in time for me to spend a disconnected day on the plane flying back to New York City, because that's how these things work.

Making email easier

During a conversation at PC Forum about the difficulties of using technology, especially as it related to configuring email clients, this thought occurred to me: why can't my email client just ask me, "What address would you like to use?" and then look up the POP or IMAP info from the MX record and save it? Why does it make me type it in, espcially if I have an active Internet connection? It could say, "What address do you want:" and then "What's the username:" and "What's the password:" and then it'd be done. Even the most novice user should be able to do that. Of course, that still leaves the user to enter his/her SMTP info, but that's a problem to solve for another day…

Update: this sounds like it won't work, more later. Flying to Chicago now.

Who’s brown?

What's going on with UPS these days? Last year they launched an ad campaign in which they started referring to themselves as "brown" and changed their tagline to What can brown do for you?. This seemed odd to me, since no one I know ever referred to UPS as "brown". Though we associate the color brown with the brand UPS, I don't understand the need to make it so explicit. When Federal Express changed to FedEx, it made a little more sense because that's what everyone called them. But I feel like with this brown business, I have to conciously make an association between the spoken-word "brown" and UPS. This seems silly since I already have good associations with UPS (UPS = good shipping, UPS = nice delivery man in SF who always said hello, etc.) and when someone asks "What can brown do for you?" I think, "I have no idea what you're talking about."

Now they've launched a new logo as well. It's got all the punch of a dot-com logo circa 1999 and none of the nice clean class embodied by the original. The Martin Agency is behind both of these campaigns (according to the two linked articles, UPS invested $45 million on the ads and will spend $20 million on the rebranding) and I really wonder what the heck they're thinking. Surely you can modernize a brand without confusing the customer, can't you?

PC Forum

Still in the throes of sickness (bronchitis is my guess but dr. was unavailable to confirm for me before my departure, maybe it's the Consumption!), I've travelled to the warm, dry climate of Scottsdale, AZ to partake of the cure. That cure being PC Forum, though I'm sure the 85° will also help my coughing. Once again I'm reminded of two things: 1) I'm an idiot, I didn't bring my camera; 2) I love the desert, and the soaring orange mountains that ring the city. I wish I could stay for a week and do some hiking. I think I've got some desert rat in me.

“I weep for my country”

W. Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd speaking yesterday on The Arrogance of Power:

We flaunt our superpower status with arrogance. We treat UN Security Council members like ingrates who offend our princely dignity by lifting their heads from the carpet. Valuable alliances are split. After war has ended, the United States will have to rebuild much more than the country of Iraq. We will have to rebuild America's image around the globe.