Kvetch ON//

AGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!  The “joys” of being a systems consultant who subcontracts….  when the top level contractor isn’t giving you the information you need to build your piece of the puzzle and then doesn’t even respond to your requests for information for 2 weeks then responds with…  We’ll describe it to you in the status call with the client….. really?  I hope you’re not expecting me to give some kind of analysis for something I haven’t seen yet…..  WTF?  GRRRRRRRR    No, I need to see the design schema, so that I can see what I need to do to build my piece and make sure that what you’re designing will work within the constraints of the pre-built data structure from the vendor…  just give me the damn documentation you have so far on the design plan so I can start thinking about it, and make comments if it won’t work!

//Kvetch OFF   (for now, there may be more after the conference call…. it seems likely at this point)

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Frequent Flyer, Hotel and Credit Card Points to the Red Cross?

Yes, you can donate them and convert them to cash donations for most.

Last night I was able to donate out of 2 hotel point accounts, and bank points.

If you, like me, have racked some up — please consider using some to help those recovering from Superstorm Sandy. It won’t dent your pocketbook if you use points, and it could help others greatly. And some are doubling your donation — Starpoints amongst them. If you hook over to donate from your Hilton Honors account, they’re giving you points for donating and matching donations.

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Okay People — Stop Clicking on Bad Links….


How can you tell if it’s a “bad link”? Use the mouse-over pop-ups to see where it really and truly goes, and if it’s not where it should be going, don’t go there.

Apparently the “undeliverable” virus continues, but is now claiming to come from the USPS…. don’t click on the attachment, nor any links the email contains. Snopes: Undeliverable Virus

If you mouse-over a link, the ACTUAL destination should show in the left hand side of your status bar (on the bottom of your browser) — if it doesn’t match what you expect — do not click on it. Your email should show a pop-up of the actual destination for any links in emails as well.

The domain name for USPS URLs should end in usps.com — meaning it should look like this http://blahblahblah.usps.com/whatever

If the last thing before the 3rd / isn’t the domain name you would expect to see — then it’s not going to that site.

A fake URL might look something like this http://usps.blahblahblah.com/whatever

unless the usps.com is the very last thing before that 3rd /, then it’s not going to direct you to usps.com. It’s going to direct you to whatever domain/site the blahblahblah.com is.

I did a little image to show what I’m talking about…….

In this instance the link goes to yahoo.com — if it were aiming at someplace unexpected, or untrusted — just don’t click on it.

Also, in the case of email — check the headers to make sure the source is what you expect.

Here’s a gmail header — you can access this by selecting the down arrow next to the [Reply] button and selecting “Show Original” — other email systems have other mouse-clicks to get to the same information,.

If the domain the email is coming from (see the red boxes) doesn’t match the From: address — chances are that’s not where it came from — don’t click on the links, or open any attachments.

I hope this helps you stay safe on the web.

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New Carry-On…. (well, new-ish anyway)/Dream Behemoth

Okay, so I can’t really whine too much about the carry-on.   I replaced that a while back with a Zϋca Pro. It’s organized, lightweight, the shell is replaceable if it gets messed up (the only way I’d consider soft-sided luggage) and I can sit on it while waiting in line. I love it. Unfortunately, if I’m going for more than 2-3 days, or going to multiple locations in different climates (a recent 8 day trip going to Miami for 2 days followed by 7 in Chicago comes to mind) — well, the Zϋca Pro just doesn’t cut it for that — for that kind of trip, I need a well-organized behemoth of a bag.

So I’m still in a search for the ultimate big suitcase — who knows (yeah sure), maybe if I post what my dream bag would have functionally, SOMEONE will post that they know of the perfect suitcase….. I’m such a dreamer!

The dream criteria:

  • Hardcase
  • Light weight
  • Handle extendable enough for tall people (I’m no munchkin and bending to roll a suitcase is a back-killer – add heels to that and it’s a killer)
  • Built-in suit bag as divider (with it zipping to the inside edges of the suitcase all the way around so that nothing falls out when closing the suitcase)
  • Spinner wheels
  • Smaller bags from the same series can be nested inside for storage — if this requires disconnecting a wheel frame to do so, I’m fine with that. Actually if the whole series had pop-off wheel frames that could be stored inside the carry-on size of bag, I’d be fine with that too.
  • Outside pockets attached to the back for items such as maps (I know, how low-tech!), boarding passes, passports and other small items (such as that card of ponytail bands) you forgot to put in before you closed the suitcase and stood it up
  • A coordinated cosmetic case/ditty bag (as my father called his travel bag of shaving/grooming gear) that has some kind of mechanism (strap/snap/holder) built into the inside of the suitcase to hold it stably in one place.
  • Coordinated organizational inserts of various sizes that can be purchased to fit in the bag (see the Zϋca Pro for an example).
  • A system for attaching items to the inside edges of the bag — perhaps some kind of loop system with them around the inside edge so that items can be tied to them and held securely. I’ve had enough times where I’ve put heavier items at the bottom of my suitcase, and lighter items at the top, checked my bags and gotten them back with the weight shifted making it top heavy and hard to wheel and keep standing upright, that the ability to tie the heavier items into place would strike me as a serious boon. The ability to tie the lighter items into place so they don’t end up bunched up at the bottom is a great idea too.
  • The ability to connect the bags together to roll them through the airport/train station/lobby/whatever — if it’s a long trip and there are multiple locations and climates involved, chances are I’ll be checking 2 bags… the ability to roll them as a single unit would be a major help

So that’s the wish list (which I reserve the right to update at any time). If anyone reading this has any additional ideas, please feel free to add them in the comments.

So Samsonite, Heys, American Traveler and whoever else is out there making luggage — how about it?

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Luggage Whine……

The History:

Over a decade ago, I bought what was the perfect suitcase…. seriously.   A Samsonite Silhouette 6 hardside 30″ behemouth of a suitcase, and a matching carry-on sized case.  In “sapphire blue”.   These suitcases served me very, very well.    They’re now both useful only as underbed storage after taking a beating over the years.    The TSA decided to remove the hinges on the smaller one when I checked it in Chicago (the bag was UNLOCKED, but apparently opening the clasps was too much effort, so they just removed all the screws and then didn’t put them all back, and the ones they DID put back they put back in a half-assed manner).   The large one?….  well, that’s just been beaten up repeatedly by travel with trim and parts slowly “leaving” as time has gone on.   This last trip I went to use the top and side handles to take it out of the car and the side handle popped off.  After over a decade of overloading and flying all over the country — I’m not feeling as if it owes me anything at this point….  so that it’s now beaten into being storage is a bummer, but it’s not a “tick off”.

The Whine:

So here I am in search of new luggage….  and not finding one damn thing that meets my standards.    The Samsonite Silhouette hardsides now have zippers to close them….. WTF?!?!   Why the heck would I buy hardsided luggage and want it to have ZIPPERS, instead of the clamps?   And it’s not just Samsonite — every luggage company who’s products I’ve looked at seems to have fallen down the same hole of stupidity.   Samsonsite has 2 lines with the clamps — but they don’t have the suit organizer in the middle like the one I had does.    I travel on business…. I pack suits…. the suit section in the middle of the suitcase was one of the selling points on the original suitcase….  can’t find anything that has that now.  And Hell…. it’s called a SUITcase for cripe sake!

What is it with companies that they have something almost perfect, and they feel compelled to muck it up?   The only things that could have made the original suitcase better would have been spinner wheels, having the center suit section zip around the edges to the inside of the suitcase to prevent items from falling out around the sides when trying to close the suitcase, making it so that smaller suitcases could be nested inside the larger ones for storage, TSA locks and maybe a pocket or two attached on the outside back of the suitcase for things like boarding passes and passports.   Had they kept the original concept and either added even ONE of those things, or just not mucked it up — I’d be buying the suitcases.   As it is, I’m annoyed enough that I can’t find a suitcase that even has all the features I already had that I may just go to duffel bags and say “screw it”.

I know the designers for companies like to feel they’re being “innovative” — but it’s only an innovation if it makes things BETTER…..  if it takes away features or functions, that’s not “innovation” — that’s screwing things up.   If you can’t make it BETTER, don’t change it!

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