Bill’s Blog

Just sharing my thoughts (which are my own and not those of my employer)

Archive for the ‘travel’ tag

Heading South

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I had the opportunity to go down to Mexico last week for work.  I managed to squeeze in some time to visit the pyramids at Teotihuacan, and to take a quick walking tour of Guadalajara.  There were some impressive sights!

I learned quite a bit about the history of Mexico, and a bit about the Spanish as well.  One of the most impressive things I saw was the 3rd largest pyramid in the world.  It is called the Pyramid of the Sun.

Mexico City is around 7300 feet in altitude.  Translation: I was very tired after climbing to the top of this pyramid!

In Guadalajara, we walked around Plaza Tapatio.  My favorite picture from the trip was taken there.

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September 18th, 2007 at 10:00 pm

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Places I’ve been

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Here’s a cool thing to play with. It builds you a map of places you’ve been – countries and states. Here’s mine.

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May 21st, 2007 at 9:20 pm

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Why United Airlines is still in the stone ages

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My inlaws are flying to Baltimore on United Airlines in a few weeks. It’s their first flight there and their first flight in a while. I have a couple of e-upgrades that are expiring soon. I went online and tried to redeem them. It wouldn’t let me. Since there wasn’t an itenary for me in the system, it didn’t know what to do. So I called United Airlines.

First I went through an electronic menu that appeared to be taking me where I wanted to go. In the end, it said there were restrictions on the flights and wouldn’t let me continue. I said “Agent” and was connected with a person. The agent told me that I could not upgrade my inlaws over the phone since their last name was different from mine. Instead I would need to physically go to the airport and sign a piece of paper. When the agent turned out to be just as persistent as I was, I asked to speak with a supervisor. The supervisor told me the same thing. He was not empowered to help me. He did not offer an alternative. He did not try to be helpful. He just said that he was sorry for the inconvenience. He told me I might be able to do it online though and offered to transfer me to the online desk. With nothing to lose, I said ok. The woman I spoke with at the online desk atempted to walk me through the same thing I had already tried. When she got stuck, she went and asked someone. Then she told me that I could not upgrade without being on the flight myself. Of course this is different from what the other two folks had said. I’m assuming she just doesn’t know what she’s talking about and that the other agent and supervisor are correct.

I’m struggling to understand how I can do my banking online, purchase items online (even buy a car on ebay if I chose to), but I can’t use a couple of upgrade certificates online at united.com. I’m amazed at the incompetence of the company. They should be able to figure out something as simple as this. Their staff should have been able to resolve the situation. If it really is that difficult, they could mail me the form to sign, right? Wrong. INstead of saying they’re sorry, they should have done something to help me.

Let me give you an example of really amazing customer service.

A few years ago, I bought a laptop from Dell. A few days later I went to use my credit card and it was denied. I called and they said I was over my limit. A bit more digging and it turned out that Dell had charged my credit card for many laptops and was trying to charge for more. Eventually the card went over the limit. The folks at American Express fixed the credit card issue immediately. Dell was tougher. I called there and spoke with 13 people (really). No one could help me. In exasperation, I wrote to Dell’s CEO, Michael Dell. I was able to figure out his email address and send him a note with my phone number. The very next day I got a call from someone at Dell. They immediately resolved my issue. My laptop was delivered promptly and I was a happy customer.

Imagine a CEO who looks at his email and insures that customers issues are resolved.

Now how much effort would it take for someone at United Airlines to decide to help me. They could easily find a way to help me upgrade my inlaws. They could also correct their stone age computer systems and help future travelers as well. Instead of helping me resolve my issue, they did what was easy. They did nothing.

Written by bill

May 20th, 2007 at 12:16 am

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Weekend in Frankfurt

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The flight to Moscow has a stop in Frankfurt. We took advantage of that stop and spent the weekend in Germany. Neither of us had been to Frankfurt before. People said Frankfurt was just a banking town. Some even discouraged us from going. They were wrong. Frankfurt is a wonderful town!

We took a tour of the Rhein river one day. We spent another day walking around downtown Frankfurt. There were small shops, good food, old buildings, and lots of people. The weather was 75 degrees one day and 80 the next. It was a welcome change from Moscow.

We both enjoyed the trip and felt completely relaxed by the end of our trip. I’m still recovering from a bit of jet lag, but the weekend was so worth it!

I took almost 300 pictures on the trip, most of them from the Rhein river tour. There are about 80 of them here. All of hte duplicates, blurry shots, and ones that didn’t turn out so well have been removed. I love shooting days like that. I did the same on the Kremlin tour, and on a trip to Mysore a few years back (when Amar paid the guy to take us near the crododiles).

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April 16th, 2007 at 10:29 pm

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Evans Developer Relations Conference

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Evans Data is hosting their 3rd annual Developer Relations Conference March 12-13 in Redwood City. I am giving a talk there about how Web 2.0 has changed developer programs and what we’re doing to keep up. If you’re going to be there, drop me a line here and be sure to say hello in Redwood City.

Written by bill

February 2nd, 2007 at 11:04 pm

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Dinner with Ben

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I had dinner with Ben last night. It was great to see him again. The last time we got to hang out was last Christmas. We went to a cool mexican restaurant. I also got a chance to check out one of the apartments he’s thinking of renting. More on that below. Finally, I was introduced to a coffee shop somewhere in San Francisco. It was fun hanging out with Ben and catching up.

We went to the apartment that Ben was thinking of renting. The guys there were strange. I think two of them were drunk. They kept asking stupid questions. After Ben had seen the place and we were getting ready to leave, one of them asked if he wanted to see some painting he had made. The guy was very surprised when Ben said no thanks, he was annoying, and we were leaving.

Written by bill

November 9th, 2006 at 10:14 am

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