Saturday, April 30, 2011

Never wrestle with a pig...

...unless it is a small pig and you are pretty sure you can win.

From Innovation Bootcamp

Friday, April 29, 2011

"Stay within your sphere of influence."

A wise CEO that I've worked with told me one of the best pieces of advice he had ever received from his mentor was "Stay within your sphere of influence."

As CEO, he had few external checks on where to spend his time, and his passion to improve the organization was broad.  But he was more effective since he focused on areas where he could make a significant impact.

And that led to his sphere of influence increasing over time.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Making yeast-raised doughnuts at home

Doughnuts are a lot easier to make at home than I thought.

I used this recipe at

From Innovation Bootcamp

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Green Eggs and Ham

A little food coloring, and you've got a Dr. Seuss breakfast.  The kids love it.  The adults, all of a sudden, aren't so hungry anymore.

From Innovation Bootcamp

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Network cable at the hotel

Why does the hotel feel the need to tie the network cable up in knots?  The housekeeping staff does this consistently, so clearly they have been trained to do this.  Has anyone asked a customer if she likes to have to untie the cord?  Why not coil in and then have a clip that can be easily removed?

From Innovation Bootcamp

Remarkable customer service from Skooba

I have a laptop backpack that I love made by Skooba that I bought on  Far better on my spine, I believe, that a one-shoulder laptop bag, even if it makes me look like a nerd.  My favorite part is how you can unzip it and send it through the scanner at the airport without taking the laptop out of the bag.

A zipper on it failed, and I was amazed at their customer service in getting the issue resolved.  When I emailed them about it, I got this email back within one hour:

Dear Mr. Bachman:

I apologize for the zipper problem you have developed with our backpack.  I want to make this as easy and painless as possible.  So… I will get a replacement sent to you this afternoon along with a return label for the defective one.  With the understanding that if we do not get the defective backpack back within a week, you will supply  a credit card number for us to charge you for the new bag.  I hope you understand – we usually require the credit card information before we ship  a replacement but we do not want to put you out any more than necessary.  Again, my apologies and please confirm this is acceptable to you?  Thank you.



From Innovation Bootcamp

From Innovation Bootcamp

Monday, April 25, 2011

Free air

A frustrating experience is to have low air pressure in your tires, pull into a gasoline station, and then not be able to find any quarters for the air pressure machine.  Do they really make any money by charging you 75 cents?  Or what if you can't find your tire pressure gauge and you need to guess at how much air to put in based on how tight the tires look?

So I very much appreciated when we stopped at a Sheetz gas station in Pennsylvania and found this no-charge air machine.  Not only is it free, but you can dial in electronically the pressure that you want, and it clicks up to your desired pressure and stops when it gets there.

A nice example of how innovation can come to a fixture that has been around for decades.

From Innovation Bootcamp

Sunday, April 24, 2011


The flight attendant on the small jet announced, "For those of you who gate-checked your luggage, the luggage will be available momentarily as you exit the plane."

I thought: I guess we better dash to go grab our suitcase if it will only be available for an instant.

The American Heritage Dictionary iPhone app (which I strongly recommend; it has a very nice audio pronunciation guide built in) defines momentarily as "for a moment or instant" and has this usage note:

Momentarily is widely used in speech to mean "in a moment" as in "The manager is on another line, but she'll be with you momentarily."  This usage rarely leads to ambiguity since the intended sense can usually be determined on the basis of the tense of the verb and the context.  Nonetheless, many critics hold that the adverb should be reserved for the senses "for a moment" and the extended usage is unacceptable to 59 percent of the Usage Panel.
59 percent is a landslide, in a Presidential election at least, and I count myself in the majority.

You even see this incorrect usage in written form:

Your Password Has Been Sent

Your password has been mailed to the email address you specified. The email should arrive momentarily. When it does, please click the button below to return to the login screen.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Opt to have your bags meet you there

All along I thought this was a default: that my bags were supposed to meet me there.  Now, apparently, it is an option.

So now United has a door-to-door service to send bags directly to my destination.

If I can't trust them to get my bag to the airport that I'm flying to, why should I expect that they can get my bag to the address where I'm going?

I'll stick to a carry-on, thanks.

From Innovation Bootcamp

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fix the leaky roof

Strange set of investment priorities at La Guardia Airport.

In multiple locations throughout the airport, the roof is leaking, leading to buckets on the floor collecting water.

From Innovation Bootcamp

From Innovation Bootcamp

Meanwhile, a job that must have cost several million dollars has been installing anti-truck bomb pillars outside in the passenger drop-off area.  I understand that we want to protect airplanes, but the general check-in area at La Guardia doesn't seem to be a very attractive target to terrorists.  There are thousands of places in Manhattan where you could find people more densely concentrated.  Plus, if you've ever been dropped off at La Guardia, you know that the traffic in the two lanes of the drop-off area moves at about 2 miles per hour.  There is no way a truck bomb could ever pick up speed.

Surely the manager of the airport would rather be spending maintenance money to fix leaky roofs, but that might not be very sexy to fund.  It would be interesting to follow the money on this project - to see what construction company got the deal, and how they are connected to whatever officials approved the contract.  Or did Congress send some stimulus money to NYC, some "use-it-or-lose-it" money that had to be spent on anti-terrorism upgrades?  Surely the money spent on this could have been spent on infrastructure in the city that truly needs upkeep.

From Innovation Bootcamp

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Celebrinym: Francis Bacon, Francis Bacon, and Roger Bacon

Source: Wikipedia:

Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount Saint Alban,[1] KC (22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626) was an English philosopherstatesmanscientist,lawyerjuristauthor and father of the scientific method.

Francis Bacon (28 October 1909 – 28 April 1992), born in Ireland to English parents, was a figurative painter known for his bold, austere, graphic and emotionally raw imagery

Roger BaconO.F.M. (c. 1214–1294), also known as Doctor Mirabilis (medieval accolade, meaning "wonderful teacher"), was anEnglish philosopher and Franciscan friar who placed considerable emphasis on the study of nature through empirical methods. He is sometimes credited as one of the earliest European advocates of the modern scientific method[1] inspired by the works of Plato andAristotle.[2][3][4]

Celebrinym: Frank McCourt

Frank McCourt, the writer.

And Frank McCourt, the real estate developer and owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Little Angel boxcutter

Pastel-colored boxcutters: the ideal thing for your little angel.

From Innovation Bootcamp

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

We've cut the cord

We said goodbye to cable about a year ago.  For a while we researched various options, including the Apple TV.  We finally bought a Mac mini, which has worked out well so far.  Quitting cable saves around $700 per year.

With the Mac, we can watch Netflix or movies on a DVD.

For the very few TV shows that get watched in our house, we use Hulu.

We also use it to play music on iTunes or, more frequently now, Pandora.

We also got rid of the landline phone a few years ago.  No one ever called us on it except a few telemarketers, and we never checked the messages.  I'm surprised now when someone does have a landline.  Maybe it makes sense if you have very bad cellphone coverage in your house, or a calling plan with a tight limit on minutes.

From Innovation Bootcamp

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Do politicians take notes?

Is it possible to do real work if you don't have some paper and something to write with?

The New York Times ran this photo of the President meeting with congressional leaders to talk about the budget.  Don't any of them take notes during the discussion?  Or bring papers to refer to?

No Excel print-outs?

I'd be surprised to walk into any business meeting to talk about a budget, and not have the budget in front of me.

From Innovation Bootcamp

Monday, April 18, 2011

Keeping track of all your miles

The Frugar Traveler blog on the New York Times had a very useful article on how to get the most out of your frequent flier miles.

It recommends as a tool to keep track of all your miles and The Points Guy blog as a source of advice.

The article reminded me to check in with my various loyalty programs, and I discovered that I have 215,000 miles that were set to expire in November this year.  I've been saving these up for a trip abroad and would have been pretty disappointed to lose them.  All I need to do is earn some miles with that airline or a partner to extend that deadline.  Glad I checked.

I'm going to be trying out AwardWallet to manage all the airline and hotel loyalty programs to see how I can get better use out of them.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

What is a teenager?

Most definitions start out by saying it is someone between the ages of thirteen and nineteen years.

For the term to have a point, you've got to believe that there are some characteristic traits that people of those ages share.

Does it make sense for nineteen to be included?  Why not twelve?

I find it odd and an interesting example of contingency that the names of numbers have influenced our perception of social behavior and human development.

You wouldn't be as likely to come up with the concept of teenager if you were working in Spanish, for example, which names the numbers 11-19 as:
11: once
12: doce
13: trece
14: catorce
15: quince
16: dieciseis
17: diecisiete
18: dieciocho
19: diecineuve

In Spanish, you might instead have come up with a term for the -ce years, 11-15, and a term for the dieci- years, 16-19, and expect particular behaviours for those two groups.

How often our understanding and ability to talk about an issue is bounded and informed by our language and choice of terms.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Reversal of fortune

A recent article in The Economist, "Market of Ideas," includes this graph.

More respondents in Communist China (68%)  now agree that the "free market system is the best" than those polled in the United States (59%).


From Innovation Bootcamp

Friday, April 15, 2011

Parking for expectant mothers

A pretty nice idea.  An easy step more businesses could take to be more friendly to women.

From Innovation Bootcamp

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Don't have time for a PhD in Economics?

Can't squeeze a PhD in Economics at the University of Chicago into your schedule?  You can at least watch all the lectures of Nobel-prize winner Gary Becker's class Human Capital, free on Youtube:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dump on that side of the street, save $18,500

Location: 23rd St at 44th Avenue in Long Island City.

Dumping on the west side of the street - fine up to $20,000.  Notice the tiny sign on the right of the picture.

From Innovation Bootcamp

Here's a close-up of that sign, which is on the east side of the street.  Just $1,500 fine for dumping over here.

From Innovation Bootcamp

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Looking at modern art, for 2 seconds

During a series of observations I made at the Museum of Modern Art, the average viewer spent no more than two seconds looking at a work of art before moving on.  The longest sustained viewing was less than 60 seconds.  (This doesn't include the handful of sketchers who were doing deep, intense observation.)

Can you "see" a painting in two seconds?

An alternate approach: Try picking one piece of art and just look at it for ten minutes.  Avoid thinking.  Practice pure observation.  Notice details, withholding judgment or the attempt to assign meaning.  Allow the texture of the sustained visual experience to become embedded in memory.

Looking at modern art, for 2 seconds from Will Bachman on Vimeo.

Monday, April 11, 2011


It is easy to find lists of homynyms, words that sound alike but are spelled differently.

It would be helpful to bring this idea into the world of proper nouns: I'd like a list of people or terms that sound alike and can cause confusion.  E.g., Irving Berlin (American composer and lyricist, 1888-1989), and Isaiah Berlin (political theorist and philosopher of ideas, 1909-1997).

Or Isaac Singer (the sewing machine entrepreneur, 1811-1875) and Isaac Bashevis Singer (Nobel prize winner in literature, 1902-1991).

Another one: Thomas More (Renaissance humanist, 1478-1535), Thomas Moore (1779-1852), and Thomas Moore (best-selling author of Care of the Soul and 15 other books on spirituality.  Outselling the other two on Amazon by a wide margin but without his own Wikipedia entry.)

How many schoolchildren (or adults) confuse Martin Luther King, Jr. with Martin Luther, and think that the civil rights hero also nailed the 95 Theses to the door of a church and started the Protestant Reformation?

Until we can think of a better name for these pairs or triplets, we could call them celebrinyms. The term includes any proper nouns that could be confused, not just people.  Paris, France and Paris, Texas count as a pair of celebrynyms, for example.

An example is: Armand Hammer vs. Arm & Hammer.  Whenever I've heard Armand's name on the radio, I wondered, "Does he have anything to do with the baking soda?"  A lot of other people have wondered the same thing - see the passage below from The Straight Dope.

Armand Hammer (May 21, 1898[2] – December 10, 1990) was an American business tycoon most closely associated with Occidental Petroleum, a company he ran for decades, though he was known as well as for his art collection, his philanthropy, and for his close ties to the Soviet Union. [Wikipedia]

From Innovation Bootcamp

Arm & Hammer is a registered trademark of Church and Dwight, an American manufacturer of household products. The logo of this brand is a muscular arm holding a hammer. Originally associated only with baking soda and washing soda, beginning in the 1970s the company began to expand the brand to other products using baking soda as a deodorizing ingredient, including toothpaste, laundry detergent, underarm deodorant, and cat litter. The Arm & Hammer brand is one of the longest-running and most recognized U.S. trademarks. [Wikipedia]

From Innovation Bootcamp

From The Straight Dope:

 The late Armand Hammer, of course, was the well-known head of Occidental Petroleum Corporation, one of the nation's ten largest oil companies. Among other things, it owns (or owned--frankly I've lost track) Hooker Chemical Company, onetime proprietor of the notorious Love Canal toxic waste dump. I mention this purely as a matter of idle gossip. There are several versions of how Hammer came by his name. The most widely circulated is that his father, a radical who apparently also had a weakness for weird puns, named him after the arm-and-hammer insignia of the Socialist Labor Party in 1898. Explanation number two, which is perhaps even dumber, is that Armand was indeed named after Arm & Hammer baking soda. Hammer's mother, Mama Rose, described by her son as "a remarkably intuitive individual, a person with an enormous judgment about things," is said to have "had a simple solution for every problem--bicarbonate of soda and a good enema." Given the alternative, I guess Armand should be grateful he was named after the soda. Hammer himself maintained that he was named after Armand Duval, the hero of Alexandre Dumas's La Dame au Camelias, one of his father's favorite plays. But he conceded that his father's socialist leanings may also have been a factor. Whatever the truth of the matter, Hammer once painted an arm-and-hammer emblem on his yacht, giving rise to persistent speculation that he either was (a) the owner of Church & Dwight, makes of A&H baking soda, or (b) a Commie. Tired of explaining otherwise, Hammer tried to buy the company, but they didn't want to sell. So in 1986 he settled for the next best thing, a partnership with Church & Dwight that netted Oxy Pete a sizable chunk of C&D stock and Hammer a seat on C&D's board. For a time, then, Armand Hammer was a director and owner (if not THE owner) of Arm & Hammer. Occidental sold the stock shortly after Hammer's death in 1990, apparently figuring a pun was not the best basis for a lasting business relationship. Freaking bean counters, they just have no sense of humor.— Cecil Adams

Here is one list of 10 celebrities with the same names to get started with.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"Now let me be clear"

Just heard AG Eric Holder, who ought to know better, on the radio opening a remark with the phrase, "Now let me be clear."

Mr. Holder, I promise you, you don't need my permission.  Permission granted to be clear in all your oral and written communications.

Is this phrase meant to suggest, "Normally my statements are arcane, obscure, inscrutable, and opaque. What you've heard up to this point has been vague, indefinite, cryptic, and enigmatic. But I'm going to take a pause from my habit of vague statements, just this once, with your permission, to make an intelligible, unequivocal, definitive statement."

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Some email templates - hope you won't need them

These notices seem to be becoming more common:  "We regret to inform you that someone hacked into our system and stole your data. Sorry for the inconvenience."

Here are three that I've received this past quarter.  I suppose it will be handy to have these templates on hand - hope you don't need to use them.


Dear Marriott Customer,

We were recently notified by Epsilon, a marketing vendor used by Marriott International, Inc. to manage customer emails, that an unauthorized third party gained access to a number of Epsilon's accounts including Marriott's email list.

In all likelihood, this will not impact you. However, we recommend that you continue to be on the alert for spam emails requesting personal or sensitive information. Please understand and be assured that Marriott does not send emails requesting customers to verify personal information.

We take your privacy very seriously. Marriott has a long-standing commitment to protecting the privacy of the personal information that our guests entrust to us. We regret this has taken place and apologize for any inconvenience.

Please visit our FAQ to learn more.


Marriott International, Inc. 


Important information from McKinsey Quarterly

We have been informed by our e-mail service provider, Epsilon, that your e-mail address was exposed byunauthorized entry into their system. Epsilon sends e-mails on our behalf to McKinsey Quarterly users who have opted to receive e-mail communications from us.

We have been assured by Epsilon that the only information that was obtained was your first name, last name and e-mail address and that the files that were accessed did not include any other information. We are actively working to confirm this. We do not store any credit card numbers, social security numbers, or other personally identifiable information of our users, so we can assure you that no such information was accessed.

Please note, it is possible you may receive spam e-mail messages as a result. We want to urge you to be cautious when opening links or attachments from unknown third parties. Also know that McKinsey Quarterlywill not send you e-mails asking for your credit card number, social security number or other personally identifiable information. So if you are ever asked for this information, you can be confident it is not from McKinsey.

We regret this has taken place and apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. We take your privacy very seriously, and we will continue to work diligently to protect your personal information.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact McKinsey Quarterly at For any media inquiries, please contact Humphrey Rolleston at +1-212-415-5321.

Rik Kirkland
Senior Managing Editor
McKinsey & Company


To our travel community:
This past weekend we discovered that an unauthorized third party had stolen part of TripAdvisor's member email list. We've confirmed the source of the vulnerability and shut it down. We're taking this incident very seriously and are actively pursuing the matter with law enforcement.
How will this affect you? In many cases, it won't. Only a portion of all member email addresses were taken, and all member passwords remain secure. You may receive some unsolicited emails (spam) as a result of this incident.
The reason we are going directly to you with this news is that we think it's the right thing to do. As a TripAdvisor member, I would want to know. Unfortunately, this sort of data theft is becoming more common across many industries, and we take it extremely seriously.
I'd also like to reassure you that TripAdvisor does not collect members' credit card or financial information, and we never sell or rent our member list.
We will continue to take all appropriate measures to keep your personal information secure at TripAdvisor. I sincerely apologize for this incident and appreciate your membership in our travel community.
Steve Kaufer
Co-founder and CEO
More information


Dear _________

Recently, Citi was notified of a system breach at Epsilon, a third-party vendor that provides marketing services to a number of companies, including Citi. The information obtained was limited to the customer name and email address of some credit card customers. No account information or other information was compromised and therefore there is no reason to re-issue a new card.

Because e-mail addresses can be used for "phishing" attacks, we want to remind our customers of the following:
  • Citi Cards uses an Email Security Zone in all of our email to help you recognize that the email was sent by us. Customers should check the Email Security Zone to verify that the email you received is from Citi and reduce the risk of personal information being "phished". To help you recognize that the email was sent by Citi we will always include the following in the Email Security Zone in the top headline portion of all our emails:
    • Your first name and last name
    • Last four digits of your Citi card account number
    • And recently to increase security, we have added your “member since” date located on the front of your card, where available. 

  • More information about phishing is available here:learn more.  
Important steps that you can take to protect your security online:
  • Don't provide your Online User ID or password in an e-mail.
  • Don't reply to e-mails that require you to enter personal information directly into an e-mail or URL.
  • Don't reply to or follow links in e-mails threatening to close your account if you do not take the immediate action of providing any personal information. We may send you an email regarding your account requesting you contact us via phone.
  • It is not recommended to use your e-mail address as a login ID or password.
If you suspect that you’ve received a fraudulent e-mail message, please forward it to us. Forward suspicious e-mails

If you have any questions or concerns about emails that you may receive that look suspicious, we encourage you to contact Citi Customer Service at the phone number on the back of your card.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Why you won't see news of airline disasters at the airport

In a post back in February, I asked who decides that everyone would like the TV turned to CNN at the airport.

My friend Zach Schrag pointed out to me this week that there is a service called "Google" where it is possible to answer this sort of rhetorical question in about 15 seconds.

The CNN Airport Media Kit answers my question: the airport gets a revenue source from local commercial time that the airport can sell.

In a statistic I plan to check with my informal survey in the coming weeks, CNN Airport claims that "87% of viewers believe having CNN Airport Network available makes the time they spend in the airport more worthwhile."   Note that this was from a 2004 Nielson Survey.  Seven years later, when anyone who cares can get news on their mobile device, I'm curious if this statistic will hold.

Note also that the statistic is the percent of viewers. Did Nielson exclude from that count the travelers at the airport who were trying to read a book or talk to their kids?  If that is true, then who were those 13% who said, "Yes, I'm watching the televsion, but it makes my experience here at the airport less worthwhile."

In a wonderful move of self-censorship, CNN Airport promises that they "will not air graphic video coverage of commercial air accidents or injuries unless the incident involves national a national emergency or threat to security."

So the graphic video coverage of any local air accidents that have purely voyeuristic, entertainment value, which you see on your regularly scheduled CNN at home, won't be shown at the airport. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Why should we trust these projections?

Q. What's wrong with the following chart from the front page of yesterday's Wall Street Journal?

From Innovation Bootcamp

A. False precision, assumptions are identified, and a lack of any sensitivity analysis.

Precision to four decimal places!  So the spending over ten years with Obama's plan will be $45.95 trillion?

Why should we believe that figure, when in early 2008 economists' predictions of government spending for 2008 were completely off?

This is not merely a style point.  This false precision that is rarely questioned by the media presents the world as if we are making decisions under a situation of certainty.  If we knew for a fact that were were deciding between exactly $45.95 trillion in spending and $39.96 trillion, then we can take a comparison shopping approach, as if we were deciding between two frying pans at Wal-Mart.

It would be more helpful to show a range of uncertainty that expands each year.

Another problem is a lack of sensitivity analysis.  Any business analyst at a consulting firm would get sent back to the team room by her manager if she presented this chart with the request to show the sensitivity of these projections.

Tell me first off what are your base case assumptions on inflation, interest rates, productivity growth, etc.  Then show we what happens to your numbers if we adjust those assumptions up or down by 5, 10, 15%.

We don't even know from this article if the two projections use the same set of assumptions!  We have to assume that they don't, since the footnote lets us know that Obama's figures as presented don't even agree with what Ryan thinks Obama's figures are.

Not to mention the fact that both projections assume that nothing else will change over the next ten years.  Are you willing to believe that?  That this year we'll finally resolve our differences, agree on a budget, and no one will tinker with it for a decade?  That we won't have any wars, recessions, bubbles?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A sixth way that the WSJ missed

In the April 4 edition of the Wall Street Journal, the article "Numbers You Can't Count On" lays out five reasons that a mutual fund's impressive record may tell you less than you think.  With the very first reason, the article buys into the mythology that some portfolio managers will actually be able to beat the market on a consistent basis over an extended period of time.

So consider a sixth way that the past performance can be misleading:

Assume that none of these five reasons apply.  Let's say the heroic fund manager hasn't changed.  The fund is the same nimble size as always.  It is compared against a reasonable set of peers (whatever that means).  It doesn't bounce among categories and it has maintained a consistent strategy.

If the fund is actively managed and has above-average returns, those above-average returns are almost certainly due to luck.  If half the funds between the market in any given year, then some lucky portfolio manager (we would expect one out of every 32) will beat the market five years in a row.  And one out of 64 will beat the market six years in a row.  But since some of those 64 that we started with 6 years ago will have failed by now or merged with another fund, at any given point in time you'll have more than one in 64 funds boasting that they have beat the market 6 years in a row.  That doesn't mean they are any likelier than chance to beat the market next year.

Certainly the Wall Street Journal reporters are smart folks, and they probably know this.  But active investors who have faith in their superior abilities aren't likely to be interested in reading that message.

From Innovation Bootcamp

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What do you regret?

A recent study examines the regrets of adult Americans.  I haven't ready the full study (Regrets of the Typical American: Findings From a Nationally Representative Sample) which is behind a firewall, but there is a summary article in the New York Times.

One point that concurs with my intuition: 
People whose regrets involved something they didn’t do or a missed opportunity were more likely to hold on to the regret over time.
Parenting regrets:
 Other people said they wished they’d worked less to spend time with children, a parenting regret we heard with some frequency.
No word on how many folks wished they'd worked longer hours and spent less time with their children, but I assume it was zero.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Luggage at twenty-five cents per use: this is not a Tumi

Tumi or not Tumi? That is the question.

When buying a carry-on, do you go for the high-end Tumi, the lowest-end no-brand option, or somewhere in between?

I've always chosen the low-cost version.

I travel pretty regularly - perhaps 25 weeks on the road per year.  My latest carry-on bag has lasted for at least two years: 50 round trips, or about 100 segments.  I paid $25 for it at the local discount store.  So it has cost me twenty-five cents per usage.

There is a carry-on Tumi bag on sale at Zappos for $395.  At that rate, the bag would need to last me 1600 segments without being replaced - which is more segments that I hope to fly for the rest of my life.

I can't understand the Tumi phenomenon.  Not only does it cost more that it ought to, it looks the same as everybody else's Tumi.   I don't think any business traveler is likely to take my no-brand carry-on by mistake, which I see as an advantage.

Now, what I might be willing to pay extra for is a Design-your-own carry-on bag that would reflect my sense of style (well, if I had one) as well as be clearly distinct from every other traveler's bag.

You can design your own Converse sneaker, but I haven't seen mainstream luggage makers offering a mass customization option.  Disney will sell you a slightly customized carry-on - but they just sew on the patch that you ask for and some initials.  I'd be interested in a much more fully customized one, where I can choose a wacky fabric that no one would ever mistake for his own.

From Innovation Bootcamp

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A simple project plan template

I created this simple project plan template for a project where Microsoft Project or similar software would be overkill.

And a Gantt chart wouldn't really serve either.  A Gantt chart puts all the text down the left hand side and then wastes a lot of space with bars that don't convey much information.  Useful in some contexts.

But we wanted one poster-sized sheet that would allow us to track all the major actions and deliverables week by week.

With this template, you can look vertically and see everything that is happening (or supposed to be happening) in a given week.  And you can look horizontally and see everything that is happening chronologically with a given initiative.

We've pinned the poster (eight sheets - two landscape sheets across and four down, taped together) in the project owner's office and use it to hold our briefings each week.

Simple project plan template -

Saturday, April 2, 2011

What happened to the medium and small eggs?

That's the obvious question.  More interesting, perhaps, is what happened to the Peewee eggs, the technical term for eggs in the range of 36-43 grams, according to the Wikipedia article on Chicken egg sizes.

We miss the quail eggs that you could buy in the market in Chile.  My son, two years old at the time, wouldn't eat a chicken egg, but he would pop a hard-boiled quail egg into his mouth like candy.

From Innovation Bootcamp

From Innovation Bootcamp

From Innovation Bootcamp

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Thought Bank

Someone converted one of those free newspaper bins, located on the east side of Lexington Ave, around 66th St, to a delightful bit of street art.

"The Thought Bank" invites passers-by to deposit a thought for others to find.

Recent thoughts included, "So this is what love is."

Samuel, shown here, added, "Why do dragons exist?  They are such silly creatures."

From Innovation Bootcamp

From Innovation Bootcamp

From Innovation Bootcamp

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