How hot does @alaskaair keep their plane on a #Dallas to #Seattle flight while in the air? This hot: 81.2F (27.3C). I didn’t sign up for a sweat lodge vision quest!

How hot does @alaskaair keep their plane on a #Dallas to #Seattle flight while in the air? This hot: 81.2F (27.3C). I didn't sign up for a sweat lodge vision quest!

A visual aid to my previous post on the the very hot Alaska Airlines flight I was on earlier this month. I wanted to show Alaska Airlines the photo proof. :-)

The Joys of Airplane Business Travel

Ever had one of those airport + flight experiences where enough things go wrong that you wish you could do it over again?

I get to the Dallas airport yesterday, having put in my Nexus pass number online and excited that I can finally use the shorter security line (bit of a long story as to why I’m only figuring this out now), only to find out it has to be put in 24 hours before the flight departs for it to show up on my ticket as a TSA Pre-Check. Apparently the fact that I did it 26 hours before my flight wasn’t quite enough time. Go figure.

Then I go through security and the four people in front of me go through the metal detector. I get instructed to go through the body scanner. I opt out of the body scanner as I normally do. I don’t mind the pat down; I do mind the unnecessary radiation (if there’s no medical reason for it, and it’s not helping me diagnose a medical problem, I don’t want it, no matter how safe it’s supposed to be). The body scanners are part of the war machine that churns away in the USA (and Canada) and is more about fear than actual security. So long as there’s an option to opt-out, I’m going to take it. Getting scanned because I’m told to is not something I’m OK with. The security agent loudly informs everyone in the area that the scanner is harmless and there’s no reason to avoid it. OK, thanks for that Mr. TSA agent, I appreciate you trying to embarrass me. Continue reading The Joys of Airplane Business Travel

All Expedia Sites Are Not Created Equal: Do Your Travel Research

This is an oldie, but a goodie: I’ve had these screen shots kicking around my hard drive for a few years (one of the many draft posts that were stuck in my own head). I was booking a trip to India when I first started at HTC, and my first stop was The price tag? A staggering $5196 Canadian (and this for coach class):


Below is the same trip as booked from, and it’s 52% LESS EXPENSIVE for the same flights on the same dates! There’s a slight exchange rate to factor in there, but not much of one. If ever there was proof how expensive it is to book things from Canada, here’s the sticker shock to prove it!


Hurricane Earl – Halifax, Nova Scotia – 2010

This is the awesome weather I’m seeing on the first day of our vacation to Eastern Canada. This was shot from the entrace to the Cambridge Suites hotel in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, on September 4th, 2010.

Japan 2008 Photo Book Completed: View it All Online

Yes, it took me about two years to get this project finished, but I’ve been pretty busy over the past nine months figuring out the whole dad thing! :-) I’m man enough to say publicly that I’ve always had a fondness for collecting memories in scrapbook form; not the frilly scrapbooks that come to mind when you hear the word, but collecting photos and objects from a time or place and putting them in book form. I have a dozen or so cheap and ugly scrapbooks from my teenage years that contain a lot of great (and not so great) memories.

I’ve been wanting to use FotoFusion to create a truly killer vacation book for years, but didn’t manage to get around to it until now. Creating Logan’s baby book was my first attempt at using FotoFusion to create a book that combined photos, text, and my green screen scanning technique for objects. FotoFusion isn’t the easiest program in the world to use, so creating Logan’s book was great practice – I managed to fly through the creation of the Japan photo book in about a week using the skills I picked up creating the baby book. That was after, of course, the months it took to edit all the photos I took, and scan all the objects I collected on the trip.

Below are a few of the pages I created for the book; the final result is 85 pages long, and by next week I should have the book back from Photobook Canada. As you can tell, I created square pages; I opted for the 11 inch by 11 inch book from Photobook Canada. Even after using a coupon code for a discount, after the $15 premium paper upgrade and $15 shipping charge, the book cost me around $120. Ouch! Yeah, kind of a pricey book; the good news is that I only need one copy, unlike Logan’s baby book where I needed several.

Comments welcome – you can check out the full gallery here (it’s easiest to view it in slideshow mode, or full-screen browser mode).

Microsoft MVP Summit 2010 – Bellevue/Redmond/Seattle

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Seattle area for the Microsoft MVP Summit 2010 – below are a few pictures.

Public Service Announcement: Stand The Hell Back From The Airport Baggage Carousel, Thanks

If you fly more than once a decade, you’ll doubtless have seen the above scenario (photographed at the Calgary airport on my way back from my CES 2010 disaster trip). People line up to get their baggage at the carousel, but rather than everyone standing back a couple of feet so more people can see their bag coming, 99.9% of people cram right up to the rail, often leaning in to see what’s coming – completely blocking the view for everyone else. What ends up happening of course is that you see your bag as it passes right in front of you, and you loudly exclaim “Excuse me!” as you lunge for your bag before it goes by. When I was at the Las Vegas airport, an elderly gentlemen and I were standing a few feet back while everyone else crammed and scurried in front of us. He exclaimed “When I was in kindergarten I learned to take my turn – what’s wrong with these people?”. Preach it old man!

People, it’s just common sense: stand back a bit and only step forward to grab your bag when you see it coming. Thank you – this ends the public service announcement.

Oh, So They Really Do Shut Down The Gate An Hour Before The Flight Leaves?

I feel like such an idiot. Today I was leaving for my flight to Seattle – to attend the Microsoft Mobius 2009 event – and my flight was leaving at 1:30pm. Not boarding, but leaving the ground. I have a NEXUS pass, which allows me to breeze through US customs quickly, so an hour is more than enough time for me to get my boarding pass, go through US customs, then go through security and walk to the departure gate. In fact, I can typically do that in 15 to 20 minutes at the Calgary airport – giving me 20+ minutes sitting at the gate waiting for the plane to board. I’ve always thought I have more important things to do than sit around at an airport, so I tend to cut it close.

Well, today I cut it a little too close…I arrived at the Calgary airport at 12:32 PM, and was at the Horizon/Alaska gate by 12:36 PM with my US customs card completed. There was no one there, so I went over to the next gate to ask how I could find someone to check me in for the flight. I was directed  to the Horizon/Alaska office 50 feet away. I walked in, asked for someone to check me in for the flight, and was told that was impossible – the gate was closed. My jaw fell open and worked silently for a moment, then I sputtered “But…but…I must missed it by only a few minutes! There’s really no one that can check me in? They informed me that Horizon/Alaska closes the gate exactly 60 minutes before the flight leaves, and that once the gate is closed, there’s no way to check baggage – so if I wanted to make this flight, I’d have to go with carry-on only. There was another flight leaving at 6pm today, and if I wanted I could exchange my ticket for that flight at no charge.  Those were my only two choices. Continue reading Oh, So They Really Do Shut Down The Gate An Hour Before The Flight Leaves?

The Sweet Ride We Rented Last Week: 2010 Mustang


I was in British Columbia last week, more specifically in Tofino, Comox, and Nanimo. We flew into Comox to travel to Tofino for the wedding of Ashely’s sister Chelsea. We had rented a car to drive from the Comox airport to Tofino, a drive of about four hours or so – and I’d heard the last led of the journey had some pretty twisty roads. We’d had a Ford Taurus lined up for rental, but when the Budget representative asked me if I wanted to upgrade to a 2010 Mustang convertible for $25 a day, it was hard to say no. Back in my early 20’s the Mustang was my “dream car” and I’d made a goal for myself of buying one by the time I was 25. That didn’t quite work out, so renting one for this trip seemed like the next-best thing. What a fun car to drive! Oodles of power, and it handled really nicely on the roads. Definitely a car I’d rent again!

Hello From Las Vegas


In Las Vegas for CES 2009. Feet are sore. Too tired to type in complete sentences. Wore a pedometre today, walked 12,888 steps. Might not seem like a lot, but my feet are yelling at me. So tired. Hardly slept at all last night, woke up at 5:15 AM to fly to Vegas. Staying at the Wynn Encore. Got great coupon, only $20 more than staying at the Sahara. Wynn Encore is nice, but like all Vegas hotels it takes 20 minutes of walking to get anywhere, all routed through the casinos. Staying in Vegas for the longest time ever for CES: five days, leaving Sunday. Seems like an eternity already. Did Pepcom Digital Experience tonight, brought video camera, didn’t use it as much as I should have. Going to sleep now…