Dec '08

An Open Letter To The Airline Industry

Dear Airline Executives,

As a frequent flyer, who has averaged over 200000 flown miles every year since 1998, I have a vested interest in your survival as an industry. I completely understand your need for revenue – however a few recent developments have caused me to question not only the wisdom of your decisions, but also whether or not the people making the decisions have actually flown in the last seven years.

I completely understand that things like water and soft drinks aren’t free for you, but I also know that you get some sweet deals in terms of pricing on these items in return for announcing that “your airline is proud to serve soda X”. I also know that I just paid a hefty price for this ticket. So, it’s a bit ridiculous to ask me to pay $2 for a bottle of water that cost you $.35. Buying onboard food – fine, if I want other food I can bring it from home. Keep charging the $5 for beer and wine too – but don’t rape me for something that was free a few months ago back when fuel prices were, hmm, exactly where they are again now! And especially when that particular item can’t be brought through security anymore.

But even more troubling is the new baggage insanity fee. Again, I’m all for making money – but in a smart and equitable way. Your recent requirement to pay $15-25 for a checked bag has done nothing but cause passengers to attempt to stuff their entire apartment into a roll-aboard and backpack (neither of which can fit into the overhead bin without using a crowbar and personal lubricant). The result is that bins are completely full before even half of the passengers have boarded – a process which is also slowed because of the time needed to wedge all of the oversized duffelbags into the minimal space available. And then your flight crew gets to waste even more time checking the rest of the carry-ons in the gangway – for free!!! I’ve even heard passengers giving each other tips about this very thing!

Let’s get real – there are two far more intelligent solutions to this problem. Feel free to chose either one…

First, charge a carry-on fee instead of a checked bag fee. Charge the same $15-25 for any bag larger than a standard computer backpack or briefcase size. Upon paying, issue a bag tag that is attached to the bag in order to bring it onboard. It’s far less time-consuming for a gate agent or flight attendant to glance at the rollaboards being brought on than to fill out 20 or 30 luggage tags for bags that can’t find an overhead bin space.

Not only would this free up bin space, thereby alleviating the major bottleneck in the boarding process, it also ensures that the majority of bags go through more rigorous inspection than that afforded at most checkpoints – helping to keep us all safer.

Now if you don’t like that idea, how about just tacking on the stupid $15 to the price of every ticket as a fuel surcharge? That is the reason that you’ve said you needed to add the baggage fee, isn’t it? So let’s be fair and make everyone shoulder the burden of the higher fuel costs. We’re all getting on the plane – why does my checked bag cost more in the cargo hold than the one in the overhead bin? And don’t tell me it’s a matter of weight – you already have weight restrictions – and you are able to distribute the weight in the cargo hold much more effectively than you can in the cabin. And a fuel surcharge could actually be decreased or even recended as fuel prices decrease (as if you’d ever actually do that…).

The bottom line is that we all know the economy sucks – but I also know that every plane I get on is packed to the gills. We all want you to survive and even to turn a profit, but nickel and dimeing us in a way that makes the entire traveling experience even more of a headache is the quickest way to lose any goodwill that you might still have following 9/11. And, yes I know, as a frequent flyer I am not subject to the bag fees – but I do still have to get on the plane in a timely manner. And when I can’t manage to be one of the first ones on the plane I still need to find room for my bag. Think about it – or better yet make your executive fly coach (in a middle seat) on six flights this week. I bet we’d see a lot of changes come next week. ;-)


P.S. To my readers, I’d love to hear your thoughts on my ideas – or any of your own airline stories. Comment away!


Sep '08

Countdown to Creative Suite 4 (CS4)

Well, my friends, the countdown to CS4 has truly begun in earnest. I only needed to look at the SMS’s from friends and acquaintences to know that we surprised everyone with our “announcement announcement”. In fact, a really good friend put it more, um, succinctly… “WTF?! I finally feel at home with CS3 and… Oh well… Here we go again!” To which I responded, “join the club”.

You know, it’s funny that “we” somehow get forgotten in all the hoopla surrounding a new product announcement. By “we” I mean all of the evangelists, sales engineers, training partners, community experts, book authors and all the others out there that serve as your source of tips, tricks, and techniques that you rely on when learning our products. Just like you, we get frustrated by the perceived “quick” arrival of the next “greatest software release in the history of the company”. But even more frustrating is the fact that we have a far shorter time to react and learn than you.

You see, while all of you were happily impressing friends and colleagues as you discovered the Auto Align command in Photoshop or the added productivity of Dreamweaver’s CSS starter layouts, those of us “in the know” were already “knowing” – and beginning to learn – even though CS3 was only in its infancy. And that is an even bigger challenge – being out on the road, demoing one version (with which you yourself are not even comfortable) while knowing that issues are already being addressed and new workflows invented. But such is our life…

In fact, unlike us – the Adobe faithful (read: slaves… er, um… faithful) – you even have the luxury of skipping a version – although as an Adobe stockholder I am obligated to inform you that doing so can cause headaches, dryness of the mouth, loss of hearing, nasal congestion and a temporary inability to complete any creative (suite) task. Should any of these symptoms last for longer than four hours, well, you know what to do… Buy the upgrade!!!

But my actual purpose in posting this was to draw your attention to those individuals in the community that you admire and learn from. There are a lot of them who have been spending countless hours working with and bug testing these new tools. And all of the great content you’ll be experiencing shortly on blogs, Adobe TV, tradeshows and elsewhere, was created and perfected using unstable and at times frustratingly irritating builds of the great software that you will soon be enjoying in their (hopefully) bug-free form.

So if you get the chance to meet one of these individuals that have created tutorials, written blogposts or authored a book for you to learn from, please take a sec and thank them. I know they’ll appreciate it – cause not only do I do these things myself (I’m writing this on my iPhone on the way to Dallas right now to film some upcoming Adobe TV shows), but I enjoy learning from my fellow Adobe enthusiasts as well.

Want to know more about Creative Suite 4? Then be sure to register for the live premiere – or visit Adobe TV following the announcement on Sept. 23rd.

Let us know what tips or tricks you’re interested in hearing about, and we’ll be happy to blog these tips.

On a personal note, I have to admit that I’ve had the pleasure of being able to spend these (unprecidented) 6 weeks with my kids and with Stephanie – so if you’ve missed my posts, thanks for your patience. Cheers!!!

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Jun '08

Thanks, Korea! Hello, Taipei and Hong Kong!

There really are those moments in life, and more specifically in your professional life, when you really, really know why you do what you do. For myself and two members of my team (Rufus Deuchler and Jason Levine), this moment came last week during our seminar stop in Seoul, Korea. Now, for the record, this was my 19th stop in Korea and I have always loved visiting this wonderful country. The people of Korea are some of the most friendly and welcoming people that I have ever met – not to mention that the country is absolutely beautiful, the cities clean, the food fantastic and (of course) the beer top-notch. From the moment I leave, I already begin to look forward to my next visit – and this time was no different.

Crowd PanoramaUnbelievable! Almost 3000 attendees – eager to learn more about CS3 techniques…

I often tell stories of seminars past that I have had the pleasure to conduct in Korea, of the crowds, the enthusiasm for our products, and the professionalism with which my Korean colleagues arrange and execute them. And, in fact, I had mentioned to Jason several times leading up to the trip that he was in for a real treat – this being his first trip to Korea. Thankfully this time I wouldn’t need to fight jet-lag, as I was coming from Sydney and the WebDU conference – just a mere 12 hours in a plane and I’d be there!

The venue was once again the hotel Grand Intercontinental (the site of a very infamous story which will never get told in the blogosphere) – which is definitely on my list of favorite hotels in the world. After a day of preparation with our translators, we were well rested and ready for a day of evangelizing, and our Seoul friends did not disappoint! In fact, Min-Hyoung (our Korean Group Marketing Manager extraordinaire) had treated us to a wonderful Korean BBQ (one of my favorite foods) the night before, where he had expressed serious concern about the fact that they had been forced to close registration at 6000, due to the venue, which could only seat 2500.

Before and AfterIt’s so funny to see my old picture… pre-ponytail and goatee!

Dear reader, there is nothing that can excite an Adobe evangelist more than to tell us, not only is the venue huge, but we’ll be flirting with the fire code – with people literally sitting on the floor, in the aisles and standing (some of them did for 5 hours!) at the back of the room. Having told Jason what to expect, I was still smiling as he voiced his surprise at the size of the venue – and the throng of attendees waiting to get in when we arrived that morning. At the appointed start time, people were still filing in – so many that we had to postpone the start of the session by 15 minutes! As the lights came down and the opening intro (a really cool Flash piece that the Korean team put together) for our session began to play, there were some 2300 people seated and more than 200 standing/sitting in the aisles – with more still filtering in! How quickly 8 hours can pass… At the end of the day, after numerous autographs, photos, and huge smiles, we all agreed, “Ah, Korea, how I love you!”

Adobe Korea RocksOur shout-out to the Adobe Korea team for a job well done!

I’ve got a few more pictures in my Flickr stream – along with pictures from our weekend in Beijing for those who are interested. And now, it’s off to Taiwan, and then on to Hong Kong… maybe I’ll see some of you there! Cheers!