More Junkmail from Bob!
August 22, 2000
Professional Web Sites
Today I tried to see how much an American Airlines flight cost. I went to their web site. It wanted a PIN number and wanted me to login with my frequent flier number. Apparently the frequent flyer number was saved on a cookie on my hard drive, because it already knew it. I don't know my PIN number, but it offered to generate a new one for me. I've done this before. That would be OK but they say they'll mail (post office mail) a new and different PIN number after generating the new temporary PIN number online. Since I'll have forgotten all about it by then, and when I read the mail I won't be at my computer to save the number, I have to get new PIN number every time I want to get a price quote from American Airlines.
So this time I decided to outsmart the stinking web site. I pretended I don't have a frequent flier number. I erased it from the form, and tried to get a price quote. It put my number back INTO the form! How rude!! So I went to my windows\cookies directory and erased firstname.lastname@example.org, thinking that's the American Airlines cookie on my hard drive.
It worked! I got a price quote. Just to test it out, I tried to buy a ticket. It finally let me, after trying to con me into joining the frequent flyer club. But if I did buy the ticket, I would have to enter the frequent flyer number in order to get credit for the miles, and then I couldn't get price quotes any more without getting a new PIN number every time! I get penalized for being a frequent flyer.
This is one example of poor web design in a big company. Another? I drove to Autozone the other day to buy a wrench. They didn't have the one I needed, so I thought I'd check their web site and order online. Sure enough, they've got an online catalog. I did a search on wrench, expecting a huge selection, but it came up with only one item -- an oil filter wrench. Autozone carries a LOT of wrenches, but you sure can't buy them on their web site. Just to check it out, I clicked on "Oil Filter Wrench," and got this: "ERROR! UNKNOWN SERVER ERROR! Please wait a few moments and try again." I didn't wait.
Unfortunately, the bigger the company, the less likely it is that they'll have a good web site. Maybe this is because they have to have too many meetings in order to get anything done. They should take an example from Upperspace Corporation... now THERE's a professional web site:
Quotes of the Week
Al Gore: "I'm my own man."
Tipper Gore: "Wanna bet?"
United Airlines has had a lot of late and cancelled flights this month. United said it was because of the weather and the air traffic controllers. Also, they said a work slowdown by the labor unions might have had a minor effect.
The air traffic controllers said they have a lot of planes in the sky. Guess what -- they're right! Here are the planes on IFR flight plans this morning:
It has to be pretty tough to direct these planes. The dashed lines are airways, where planes used to fly all the time. Now, with GPS and other direct navigation capability, lots of planes can skip the airways and fly direct to a destination, or at least more directly. This translates into a more complex traffic pattern for the controllers. When you through in a thunderstorm like this,
things get even more complicated because airplanes don't behave very well in big storms like this, and they all want to go around the storm.
Luckily, the air traffic control computers and software is improving, in spite the fact that it's being done by the government. It's really pretty impressive that the increased air traffic is being handled as good as it is.
Losing Money on the Web
Speaking of big companies on the web, the big news media companies are not doing too well on the internet. Web traffic for them is flat or decreasing, and companies like NBC and Disney are losing lots of money in their internet business. I realize that losing lots of money is the fashionable thing to do on the web, but some of these larger companies are old and stodgy, and they don't like to lose money anywhere.
The Arctic Ocean is Wet?
A week or two ago, James McCarthy went to the North Pole as a lecturer on a cruise to the great white north. When they got to the North Pole, they found it was not frozen. This might not be too significant, since there are pockets of water throughout the Arctic at this time of year, but it is definitely not common. One thing that is significant is that the glaciers in the Northern Hemisphere have receded a lot in the past 20 years. This is not directly due to global warming. The Earth's climate has changed only degree or less in the past 50 or 100 years, depending on who you ask. That's not enough to cause the change there is recently been in the glaciers. Also, the Southern Hemisphere's glaciers have not changed as much as the North, even though the ozone hole is much more pronounced in Antarctica.
Here's the North Pole story:
In Montana there are some trees on fire. I flew to Billings last week with Barb and Mike Green. We picked up a hitchhiker on the way back. It's not uncommon this time of year to see an occasional restricted area for fire fighting, but last week there were 3-4 pages of notices like this one:
FDC 0/9497 ZLC MT.. FLIGHT RESTRICTION, PLAINS, MT. EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. PURSUANT TO 14 CFR 91.137A(2) TEMPORARY FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS ARE IN EFFECT WITHIN THE FOLLOWING COORDINATES: 4725N/11449W TO 4725N/11425W TO 4714N/11424W TO 4714N/11434W TO 4719N/ 11449W 4725N/11449W AT OR BELOW 10,000 FT MSL TO PROVIDE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR FIRE FIGHTING AIRCRAFT OPERATIONS. THE NORTHERN ROCKY COORDINATION CENTER, TELEPHONE 406- 329-4882 OR FREQ 121.375, IS IN CHARGE OF ON SCENE EMERGENCY RESPONSE ACTIVITIES. GREAT FALLS /GTF/ AFSS TELEPHONE 406-452- 9869, IS THE FAA COORDINATION FACILITY.
I've never seen that many before. Around Billings there was quite a bit of smoke in the air even though it wasn't close to the fires. I drove up to the mountains and took some pictures. You can see the smoke near the horizon:
Here's a satellite photo of one of the fires. It's BIG! (The fire, not the photo.)
Pictures of Today
Here's a picture of a mountain in Colorado I took last weekend:
Here's the same mountain last January. This picture is taken from higher and more to the left than the first:
The seasons make a difference!
Flying into the storm:
This thunderstorm last week was actually pretty far away from the plane. The picture was taken at 29,000 feet -- it was a really big cell.
A mountain lake:
A couple of mountain goats or yaks or ibexes or something, near the top of Mount Evans, Colorado:
Sunset at 14,000 feet -- Mount Bierstadt (on the right) from Mount Evans:
(*) 1921, All undiewrites deserved. No unauthorized copying, duplication, plagiarization, or fabrication of this fine collection of zeros and ones is hereby prohibited. If you would like to sign up a former friend or potentially former friend to receive their very own Junkmail, go to
You can also read past Junkmails here if you are warped enough. If you would like to stop reading Junkmail, which might be considered an honorable characteristic, press delete when it arrives in your inbox, forward it to email@example.com
, or change your email address.
If you would like to contact me for any reason other than to offer long distance service, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Have a good day!