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January 7, 2014

24 Hours: From New York To California & Back - I'd Do It Again

So yesterday, I flew out of JFK (New York) to LAX (California) and flew back from LAX to JFK the same day, all within 24 hours.

jfk-lax.jpg

Yesterday, I had a 11:30am flight out of JFK, landing in LAX at 2:30pm. Then I had a 10:30pm flight out of LAX last night, landing in JFK this morning at 7:15am (delayed). So my parking fee was for less than one day at JFK.

Oh, yes, I did drive to work an hour and 45 minutes in rush hour this morning. Here is that traffic:

lax-jfk.jpg

Would I do it again? Well, I did it again. I did it a year or so ago. And yes, I'd do it again.

I am working all day, I'll sleep tonight at some point.

January 30, 2013

Traveling During The First Year Of Jewish Mourning (Aveilus)

travel-busy.jpgThis will be my first blog post here in over three months, since the passing of my mother. I was thinking of not posting anything for the year but I have things to share and this is where I do it when it is not related to business or search. :)

The first year after losing a parent is called in the Jewish world Aveilus. There are certain things you cannot do during the year and certain things you should/have to do during the year.

I go to a fair number of conferences for speaking or planning purposes and being in "Aveilus" makes it harder on a number of levels. You think eating kosher while traveling is hard, saying Kaddish is much harder.

It is the custom for the sons of the deceased parent to say Kaddish during prayer services (davening) three times per day, every single day. Once in the morning, once mid-day and once at night. Saying Kaddish is easy, the hard part is doing so with a "minyan," ten Jewish males over 13 years old. Typically this is done in a synagogue but it can be done in an office or any place where there are ten male Jews over 13. We made a office afternoon minyan at my company to help accomplish this (that is for another blog post).

So when you travel on airplanes for 6+ hours and when you go to places where there aren't many Jews, getting a minyan of 10 male Jews isn't easy. So you need to prepare a bit.

For example, flying to San Jose, California for the SMX West conference isn't so simple. I can't leave too early because I will miss the opportunity to say Kaddish in the morning. flying mid-day, I will miss afternoon services and flying too early in the night time, you can miss night services. Flying to San Jose or SFO late night isn't really possible. So I timed mine where I can leave around 5pm EDT and land around 9pm PDT. I will be able to get a minyan the morning of, the afternoon of, but it looks rough in getting one the night of in San Jose. There is actually a synagogue not far from the conference venue but I'll miss night services Sunday there. Coming back is a bit easier but still not guaranteed.

Now, once you arrive at the location. Instead of just bunking up in the hotel and not worrying, now I need to figure out a way to schedule things to get to and from synagogue three times a day. I have to make sure not to have sessions, speaking slots and/or meetings around those times. I need to make sure not to schedule dinners at those times at night. Plus, I need to rent a car, so I don't have to spend on a taxi several times a day to/from synagogue/hotel/venue. It makes things way more complex.

I am going to try, somehow, to see if there are enough interested Jews at the SMX West conference to at least try to have an afternoon service and maybe an evening service in a room at the event. We did that at SMX Israel, but as you can imagine - it is much easier to manage in Israel.

Those are just two cases of how travel is complicated.

Image credit to BigStockPhoto for traveling

June 21, 2012

50,000+ Miles This Year: Premier Gold Status On United

United-MileagePlus-Premier-Gold-card.jpegFour years ago, I was so excited I made elite status on Continental (now United) Airlines.

Since then, I've hit "Premier Silver" status on the airlines MileagePlus program. That is until this year where I will easily break 50,000 miles and reach "Premier Gold Status."

Thing is, I am not that excited about it. Why?

(1) Traveling is tiring

(2) Traveling means I am away from family

(3) Traveling means I am away from work and have a lot to catch up on

(4) The MileagePlus program is not what it once was.

Back in 2008 with Silver it meant I got to have the front row for free when I booked, if it was available. I rarely got first class upgrades but it happened. Now since the merger with United, Silver status has to not only pay for front row (bulk head) but also has to pay for the "economy plus" rows.

It is a bit of an insult to pay for "reserved seating" when you are loyal to a specific airline.

So now with Gold, I will get to book economy plus when I book my flights. Something I had for years but taken away this year with the merger.

Now, 50,000 miles is a lot for me because most my travel is domestically within the US. But this year, I am flying to Israel twice and flew to Germany to speak. That has helped between flying enough domestically.

Anyway, here is to making Platinum at 75,000 miles in a year.

May 3, 2012

Alta Vista Road

I drove to Bethesda, Maryland yesterday to give a talk about "Synagogue and Technology" for ShulCloud, sponsored by the Shalom Learning folks at Beth El.

And when I got off the highway after driving 4 hours straight (which is awesome time), I spotted a road named Alta Vista Road.

The search geek in me wanted to slam on my breaks and snap a picture, but there were cars behind me going 50 MPH or so. Next best thing, Google Street Views:


View Larger Map

January 17, 2012

Email Overload: Need To Stop Flying During Workdays

email-overload.jpgI simply need to stop flying during the workday or fly exclusively with flights that have Wifi.

Yesterday, I took an 11am (Israel time) or 4am (EDT) out of Tel Aviv and to New York. The flight is about 12 hours, so I didn't land until after 4pm (EDT).

When I landed, I had 322 emails in my inbox! Probably about a hundred I needed to reply to.

I also had 750 or so items in my RSS reader to go through.

It is so overwhelming.

The only nice'ish part of this 12 hour flight was that I watched 5.5 movies.

Image credit for ShutterStock for iPhone email.

January 9, 2012

Caught Speeding By A Robot

I received a nice letter in the mail from the District of Columbia's Metropolitan Police Department telling me I was speeding. They even provided proof in the form of photographs.

speed-camera.jpeg

Truth is, I was not driving that car the day they said the violation happened. I was home, in New York - not in Washington, DC, driving 62 in a 50. I know who was driving my car, but it was not me.

In any event, they did not issue me with a fine - instead they said this is a "warning" and next time, I will be given a fine if I speed.

They even have this whole web site portal to login, view the pictures and pay the fine (if applicable).

I never received one of these letters before, I hear it is illegal in some states for the police to use speed cameras - but I guess it is not illegal in Washington, D.C.

Heck, I've seen cops outside of their cars using speed guns and I've tweeted being pulled over in the past - so I guess this should go on the blog as well.

January 4, 2012

Can Jews Checkin To Non Kosher Restaurants On Foursquare?

foursquare-kosher.pngOrthodox Jews do not eat non-kosher food. Many also would not walk into a non-kosher restaurant because they don't want a kosher Jew to see them going into the non-kosher restaurant and think that it must be kosher since that Jew went in there.

So even to use the bathroom, many orthodox Jews wouldn't even walk into a non-kosher restaurant.

Which brings up the question, can a Jew who holds by not going into non-kosher restaurants, checkin on Foursquare to non-kosher restaurant?

As I travel on Amtrak back to New York from Washington DC, I am randomly looking for places to check into on Foursquare along the way. And I am specifically avoiding non-kosher restaurants or restaurants I do not know if they are kosher or not.

Jews, what would you do?

Non-Jews, you think I am crazy? Well, some Jews think I am crazy.

And many people think I am crazy just for using Foursquare in general. :)

Stuck On Amtrak Over Delaware River

I am on my way to a client in D.C. This is the first time I am taking Amtrak anywhere, I heard it is the smart way to go from New York to Washington, D.C.

We made it to Trenton, New Jersey and stopped there. I've been sitting in Trenton for almost two hours. My scheduled arrival time is in about 20 minutes. At this point, it makes sense for me to turn around and go back. So why don't I?

stuck-in-trenton.jpg

I am literally on a bridge over the Delaware river in Trenton, NJ.

December 12, 2011

Cashed In On My 1st Foursquare Special

foursquare-special.pngFriday I complained a 4sq special failed me but that all changed this Sunday.

I went to Modell's, because you got to go to Mos, and I used a $10 off $50.

The cashier had no clue what it was but the manager was right behind him and the manager plugged it in.

It was cool.

Like saving money while being geeky - who doesn't.

December 6, 2011

My First In-Flight WiFi Experience

Since I fly continental, an airline without in flight wifi, I have never experienced Internet while flying.

Now that continental and united merged, I am on a united flight and it has wifi.

Flying with Internet is amazing. I don't have to worry about landing and catching up with hundreds of emails while I find a cab.

This rocks!

November 18, 2011

Red Eyes: Setting Myself Up For Disaster

red-eye.jpgI often take red eye flights when possible. My past experience is that email is just too much to fly 5-6 hours during the day. But now with Wifi on the flight, there is less of a reason to not fly during the day.

That be the case, I booked a flight for the Google Media Event happening on December 6th.

My flight leaves at 7am, which means I need to leave my house before 4am. I then take a red eye flight the same day back to New York. I will land 6am the following morning and then go directly to work. I'll probably stay up till 11am.

I figure, I'll be up for at least 44 hours between December 6th and December 7th.

I am asking for it.

Image credit: Lightspring / ShutterStock.

November 17, 2011

Moving Places On Foursquare With Checkins

moving-foursquare.pngI am a big foursquare user, I've written about it several times here.

But did you know you can move places found in foursquare by simply checking into the place?

There is a place about a mile or two from my house. I checked into it almost every single day for the past few months while I was a mile or two away. Eventually, foursquare changed the location of the place to be basically at my house.

I am not sure how that happened because the physical address is the same, but in terms of distance to my house, it is right there now.

It kind of makes you think of weird abstract reality perceptions on what is distance? Are things really far away or not? You know, stuff that people think about if they are a PhD or on some weird drugs.

August 18, 2011

Reached My Foursquare Goal: Baker's Dozen Badge

I have reached my goal on Foursquare. I have unlocked the baker's dozen badge!

baker's dozen badge

Baker's Dozen

A bakers dozen of bakery visits! You must really love the fresh-baked goodness of baguettes and beignets. Why not reward yourself by curling up with a nice croissant?

This is what life is all about.

June 17, 2011

From Airplane Through Customs To Exit In A Few Minutes: Global Entry

Global Entry Trusted Traveler NetworkAs some of you know, I was in Madrid for a few days this week.

One of the worst parts, at least for me, of traveling internationally are the lines of people going through U.S. customs on the way back into the United States. There are times I've waited a couple hours to get through the lines. The problem is amplified when multiple international flights land at the same time and you are stuck waiting for the stroller to be taken off the plane and handed to you. It can be bad.

So before I went to Madrid, I enrolled and was approved for the Global Entry program.

How does it work? Well, you apply, they do a background check on you and within a few weeks they approve or deny you. I was approved but had to finalize the process by going to a Global Entry office to take a picture, do digital finger prints and sign a document. So I did that on the way out to Madrid at JFK. Yes, it takes only 10 minutes and you get the approval that day, so you can use it on the way back from your trip.

So I was approved and then went from Terminal 4 to Terminal 7 and left to Madrid.

You can't use it for customs outside of the U.S. (yes there are exceptions).

Man using kioskBut on the way back, I departed the airplane at JFK, walked through the terminal and arrived at customs. I just went over to the kiosk, scanned my passport, took my picture and scanned by finger prints, then I checked off no, no, no, no and yes to the flight details and a receipt printed. I then walked to the exit, handed them the receipt and went to passenger pickup.

The process from walking off the plane and to the airport passenger pickup area in JFK, terminal 7, took me maybe 5 minutes.

I was in awe.

The global entry pass costs $100 every 5 years. Since I go internationally about twice a year, I feel it pays.

February 21, 2011

Vindication! Chase Continental Card Drops Foreign Transaction Fees

Chase Continental Card

In January I was really upset to learn my Chase Continental Card had foreign transaction fees. I replaced my AMEX with the Chase Continental card due to their partnership ending and was hoping to find a card that replicated those perks to the max.

So when I went to Israel and noticed dozens of foreign transaction fees on my card, something that was 'foreign' to me because I have been spoiled with my American Express card, I was upset.

So I decided to give Chase some ideas on how to improve the benefits of the card, to put it more on the same level of the AMEX. But when I did that, Chase, Continental's partner, recommended I use British Airways credit card.

As you can imagine, I was even more upset now. So I forwarded this suggestion to Continental, who after a few weeks replied to me that they will send my email to the right people at Continental.

I guess it worked because I received an email from Chase today that there will no longer be foreign transaction fees! I am so happy, this was one of the biggest draw backs to the card for me - being that I put the SphinnCon conference costs on my credit card and getting charged 3% on top of those costs, well, that is just wild!

Chase emailed:

Designed from its inception to provide unparalleled travel benefits, your Presidential PlusSM Business Card has now been further enhanced.

As of February 15, 2011, you will no longer be charged foreign transaction fees. That means that you'll now save 3% on all international purchases made using your Presidential Plus Business Card.

This exciting new benefit is sure to make your international travel experience even more enjoyable. Best of all, you needn't do anything to take advantage of it – the change will automatically take effect on February 15, 2011.

I doubt they will give me any credit for my charges in January, but that is okay with me. They listened and did what is best for their Continental customers. Very happy!

January 31, 2011

Witnessed A Car Striking A Deer

I'm a Deer!On the way to work this morning, I witnessed a car drive into a deer. Well, I didn't see the actual hit, but I did see a car slam on its breaks and a deer fall to the ground in front of the car.

It was very upsetting.

It didn't look like the car was going full speed. So I hope the deer wasn't too badly hurt. The car didn't look to be in bad shape. And as you know, if you live in this area, hitting a deer can make some serious damage to your car and potentially kill the deer.

In fact, I know of cars completely totaled and the deer walking away from it.

But this car seemed to not have been damaged much, but the deer was on the floor shaken up.

It was very sad - I do hope the deer did come off okay.

I never hit a deer yet, but chances are, where I live, I am bound to hit one. I almost did once, but I reacted fast enough.

The ironic part is that I should have been at LGA airport at the time, but since they are having ice storms at the destination (Kansas City), I am here.

January 25, 2011

Foreign Transaction Fees For Travel Credit Card? Bad Continental

Foreign Transaction FeesAs you may have read, I replaced my AMEX with the Chase Continental card. The main reason I left AMEX was because their partnership with Continental Airlines expired and I couldn't use it to get into lounges in the future or use the miles towards airline tickets.

So I got myself the top of the line Continental Airlines Presidents Plus Card. I have access to the lounges, I accrue miles for money spent, heck I get a lot of miles with this card - so that is working out well.

But what are the major issues I have had with this card? Most have to do with international travel. I heard some reports of issues about this, so when I applied for the card I asked about this. The person at Chase said that this card is an airline card and designed specifically for international travel.

But that is not true! I had a few issues with international use of this card.

(1) Chase locked the card because they saw international spend. Heck, I told them I was traveling and they locked it anyway. It is upsetting to use the card and it be rejected without reason. It worked out eventually but I had to call and verify stuff I told them when I first opened up the card.

(2) Foreign Transaction Fees: With my American Express I don't think I ever had a fee for using my credit card overseas. But with my Continental Airlines credit card, a card designed specifically for international use, I had tons of fees for using my credit card overseas. I am not too upset but it just seems illogical.

Those are my main issues with this new credit card to-date.

December 29, 2010

Falling Short Of Airline Elite Status As A Frequent Flyer

Short of Continental Elite StatusAs someone who travels a nice amount (not weekly but monthly) on airlines not having a level of "Elite Access" on your airline can seriously stink.

I've actually written about how Continental treats elite customers versus non elite customers differently. It was upsetting but it taught me to play the game and stick with an airline so you get some perks. So in mid-2008 I earned Elite Access with Continental and ever since then stuck with them to keep that status (yes, I am a pawn).

In August, when I saw I was running short on miles this year, I decided to book a trip that was not urgent but was useful, just to keep my status. For some reason, my math didn't add up and I didn't end up earning elite status. I saw the dreadful scale not pass the Silver line, showing me I was short. How short? 300 miles short!

The reason this happened was because I booked my longest flight completely on miles and thus did not earn miles for flying on miles. But I thought I would be able to take enough domestic flights to fly over the necessary 25,000 miles to earn Elite Status. Like I said, my math was off by 300 miles.

So what did I do? I called and begged. I emailed and begged. I even used my scary flight experience as a method of trying to get them to give me those miles.

Guess what? It worked!

Today a nice lady from Continental called with "good news." They told me they gave me the 300 miles so I can retain Silver Elite Status for 2011. I was very appreciative, so much so that I didn't bother to ask for more details on that scary flight.

Why is Silver so important? Well, I rarely get the upgrades but it does give you priority seating, boarding and baggage. Yes, the Continental Credit Card gives you priority boarding and baggage and access to the lounge, but it does not give you priority seating and getting bulk head seats with extra leg room is likely the most important aspect of the Elite Status.

December 15, 2010

My Israel Cell Phone & Wireless Data Plans For 2011

nexus sSphinnCon Israel is 25 days away now and I'll be in Israel in less than 25 days. This will be the largest SphinnCon ever and I believe the largest search conference in Israel ever - so it is exciting.

But whenever I travel internationally, I get nervous about being connected - mostly data connected. Israel is a small country and reception is almost always solid. But whenever I go, it costs me hundreds of dollars to be connected for the ~10 days I am there.

In the past I end up:

(1) Renting a cell phone and paying minutes at a higher rate
(2) Buying a USB data card for my laptop
(3) Adding the AT&T international data plan to my iPhone

All these three things add up.

orangeThis year, I am going to try to change things up.

In January 2011 I plan on:

(1) Buying a SIM card from Orange Israel, which I did in the US from israelsims.com.

That is it. I will pop it in the Nexus S that I will get soon and use that for my phone calls and data connectivity via its mobile hotspot.Android Hotspot

I can then use the Android hotspot on the Nexus S to give my MacBook Pro, iPhone, iPad and other devices internet when I am Israel for the same fee. Plus, I can check my emails, feeds and stuff on the go on the Nexus S and also make calls.

This should save me a lot of money in the long run and I won't "rent" any of it.

Every year, when I go back, I can use the same device. So I can keep the same number and not worry about renting stuff.

Hope it all works out well.

December 8, 2010

Scary Flight Experience

Plane Oxygen MaskI fly a nice amount per year. I am accustomed to the normal and sometimes very significant drops caused by turbulence. But I never experienced what I am about to tell you in my hundreds of thousands of miles flown on a plane.

I was flying on a clear day, the skys were clear, the flight was smooth. Then all of a sudden the plane starts to speed up and head down, fast. It was like we were starting our descent, but like the pilot forgot to start earlier and was doing a much quicker descent. It didn't make much sense, but the flight attendant didn't seem to notice and nothing was announced, so I let it slide.

Soon after, the flight attendant received a call from the pilot. His face gave off the impression like he was all of a sudden nervous and anxious. He immediately went to his seat and buckled himself in. He then sat there for a bit and looked around.

He noticed two babies were on board and decided to go talk to them. He pretty quickly walked over to both mother's with their babies, individually and said something to them. I overheard what he said to the first.

He said, if the oxygen masks come down, you first and then the baby. He repeated, "you first and then the baby."

He then quickly went back to his seat, sat down, buckled in. 10 seconds later, he opened up a special compartment. It had his oxygen mask ready to go, so he prepped it.

We continued or descent for what felt like forever.

Thankfully, when we reach the clouds, the pilot began to level off. Soon after the flight attendant got another call from the pilot. I saw an immediate sign of relief on the flight attendant's face. He got back up and went to his business.

No one made any announcements, no one told us anything after we got off the flight.

We just flew at that altitude for the remainder of the flight. Heck, we even landed 15 minutes early.

When we landed, I saw fire trucks near the run way. Turned out, they were for us. They came on to the plane to question the pilot and then left after 2 minutes of questions.

Again, no idea what happened, no one told us. Not sure if I really want to know.

But from speaking to others, it seems like the best possible answer was the plane's air compressor went bad. So we had to quickly go down to an altitude with good oxygen levels so the people on the plane can breath. If not, the air masks would have come down to provide us with air we can breath.

November 23, 2010

Replaced My AMEX With Chase Continental Card

Continental Presidential Plus CardA month ago, I applied for the Chase Continental Presidents Plus card.

I got the cards this week and already moved all my known spending to this card.

I will soon be free of American Express. Don't get me wrong. I don't mind AMEX, they have been good to me. But I am leaving AMEX only because they will soon have no deal with my preferred airline, Continental.

So switching to a credit card that gives me the only CC perks I use, i.e. buying airline tickets and getting airline perks, is the main reason.

The Chase Continental Presidents Plus card gives me all these perks and more.

I have not cancelled my AMEX yet, but I will before the renewal charge.

Goodbye AMEX, I will miss you.

November 17, 2010

My "Naked Parts" Courtesy of Airport Security

Past few weeks, I have been in a bunch of airports. Some of them had the new "Millimeter wave scanner" body scanners. If you have been reading the news this week, you would have noticed lots of complaints about them.

Well, I went through at least one in the past week or two and I wanted to share a picture of mine for all to enjoy.

tsa-body-scanner-barry

The picture was provided by Gizmodo and I decided to admit it was mine because @Matt_Siltala requested to see my naked parts.

Hope you all are happy now.

FYI, I am kidding, this is not me but it could have been.

In any event, I don't see why this is such a big deal. These images barely show anything. There are some scanners that show a heck of a lot more.

Of course, there are many concerned with being exposed to more radiation. That is a fair fear.

November 4, 2010

At Gate Change Fees: Borderline Theft

Yesterday, I was on the way back from the BlueGlass Conference from Fort Lauderdale Airport (FLL). I happen to walk into the lounge and ask, are there any flights going back to Newark before the one I was on.

I was at the lounge, through security at about 2:20. The Continental rep said there is one going out at 2:30, a gate away from the lounge. She got me on the flight, but for a $50 fee. The flight had plenty of available seats, but according to Continental's Same-Day Change Policy, I had to be charged $50 or wait for the next flight, which happened to be very booked.

Think about it - I am at the airport, ready to board a plane that is not full. It doesn't cost them anything to put me on that flight. In fact, they can likely sell my seat on the next flight - but yet they have to charge me $50.

A year or two ago, this was not an issue. It happened to me a lot. Continental often have several flights going out a day to their hub, Newark. So options are always there. Normally, I'd arrive at the airport and see a delayed flight being boarded. I'd ask to be put on that flight and they would put me on it without question and without a fee.

Now, they charge - no matter what. Except if you are a Platinum Elite status. Here are the fees for the various levels:

Continental Same-Day Change Policy

In my opinion, if I am standing there, ready to go and their are plenty of seats available - charging me $50 is borderline theft.

In the end, I decided this time to pay for it. It meant seeing my kid before she went to sleep or missing her. $50 for that was worth it.

But I think there should be a policy named, "At Gate Change Policy," that is free if seats are available.

October 26, 2010

Applied For Continental Presidential Plus Credit Card

Continental Presidential Plus CardI travel pretty often. So I was very into having an American Express Platinum card for the travel perks. Especially for the access to the Continental Presidents Club lounges and points to mile transfer.

As I told you in the past, I was planning on leaving AMEX for Continental Card because American Express and Continental are discontinuing their deal. So next year, AMEX won't get me into the lounges nor will I be able to transfer my points to Continental for airline miles.

I pretty much exclusively use Continental. The week after I blogged it, AMEX called me, sent me two letters and emailed me at least once. They basically are telling all their customers about the new benefits and we shouldn't leave AMEX due to the Continental non-deal.

Well, I am. I applied for the Continental Airlines Presidential Plus Card for Business and will slowly move my spending over to that. My AMEX renewal fee expires sometime in February 2011 but I want to see how this card works out prior to me dropping my AMEX Platinum card. So I am overlapping for a few months on purpose.

Are you a Continental flyer? What are you doing?

July 13, 2010

My Ugly New Plates Arrived!

Last night, 38 days after first ordering them, my new license plates arrived. Yea, they are ugly but I likethem. Honestly, it was a surprise, because when I called to find out the status, I was told it would take a total of 8 weeks. It came after 5 weeks and 4 days. Yea, 1 week and 4 days longer than originally expected, but still 3 weeks and 3 days earlier than later expected.

Here are two pictures.... Well, why do people blur out plates? I mean, these are personalized, and I already told you they were coming:

RustyCar Plates

RustyCar Plates

I think they look good on my car - I suspect most won't agree.

July 9, 2010

Awkward! Driving Behind A Hearse

I was driving back to the office today and I was driving behind a hearse, you know, a car that drives a coffin from one location (often a church) to the cemetery. It felt awkward.

There was no body in the back, at least, it didn't appear to be so. I don't think it was being used for a transport. :) There would have been cars with lights on, and a long line of cars. It was still a bit awkward.

Casket Car

I see Wikipedia has a picture of a motorcycle hearse. Interesting...

July 7, 2010

Ordering Custom License Plates In New York Takes 8 Weeks

rustycar plateI have been very eager for my new custom New York license plates to arrive. I ordered the plates, RustyCar over 4 weeks ago and they are still not here.

The order confirmation email reads:

Allow two weeks to receive your registration receipt and window sticker by mail. Your new plates will be mailed separately; please allow 4 weeks for delivery. You will also receive instructions on what to do with your old plates and registration.

My registration sticker came within two weeks. But four weeks later, still no plates. I finally called the New York DMV's custom plate office and they told me, the plates were first finished on June 29th but they likely won't arrive for at least another 4 weeks.

She explained that they are mailed 3rd class. So they sit in a bucket and wait for someone to get around to picking them up. Typically, it takes about 4 weeks from when they are placed in the bucket, often longer.

Maybe the NY DMV should update their email confirmations to say something like:

Your new plates will be mailed separately; please allow several months for delivery as we have no idea if and when you will get your plates.

Or maybe this is just typical DMV stuff.

July 5, 2010

License Plate Infringement

My brother-in-law spotted this license plate on the road.

Rusty B License Plate

Not cool. Not cool!

Plus, to make matters worse, I still have not received my new RustyCar plates.

July 2, 2010

Sometimes It Pays To Complain

Complaint BoxI am not a complainer. If the food is bad, I normally won't return it. If the room is a bit dirty, I won't ask for a new one. If I don't get something I thought was included, I normally let it slide.

But I decided to complain that my upgraded first class flight from Seattle to New York didn't have a kosher meal. I sent a nice email saying I confirmed kosher before the flight and it wasn't there. I was honest, I said I wasn't even sure if I'd eat the meal, since it was a red eye flight. But I took the 5 minutes to fill out the complaint form online and finally got a response. It read in part:

Nevertheless, I am unsure why you would not have received your kosher meal. I regret any inconvenience. I am requesting an Electronic Travel Certificate (ETC) be issued to you. The ETC can be used as a form of payment for future travel on Continental Airlines. The ETC will be valid for 12 months from the date of issue and may be used online at www.continental.com. The travel certificate will have a PIN code and promotion code number. You will need these to redeem the travel certificate.

I have no idea how much the voucher will be. I mean, the kosher first class airline food isn't that expensive.

But it is nice to get something for filling out a form. So sometimes it pays to complain.

I do like Continental - they are my favorite airline.

June 9, 2010

My View from SMX Advanced, Edgewater Hotel

I often neglect my personal blog when I travel to SEO conferences. I wanted to share my view from the Edgewater Hotel in Seattle while I am at SMX Advanced...

Edgewater Hotel Seattle View - SMX Advanced

I highly recommend this hotel and of course, the conference, when you are in Seattle.

May 28, 2010

Continental, Running Out Of Time For Inflight Internet

gogoContinental, I have flown a lot of miles with you and all of those miles were Internet (WiFi) free. I want Internet when I fly for over 3 hours - is that so much to ask? I'll pay for it. I'd pay a lot for it.

In December you announced that you would be offering inflight Internet on some domestic flights by the second quarter 2010. Well, the second quarter of 2010 is about 30 days away and I have heard nothing about the inflight Internet coming anytime soon.

You said the service would be provided by Gogo Inflight Internet service. But if you look at the partner airlines page on the Gogo website, you see all your competitors but not you.

I know you hope to close your merger with United by fourth quarter of 2010 but that won't happen. And I know United is listed as a partner with Gogo - so really hope you don't wait for then.

Can we please get some sort of update on when Gogo is realistically coming to Continental flights? I suspect my flight to SMX Advanced next week will not have Internet onboard. But it would rock if it did.

May 24, 2010

Getting To Parades Is No Fun

Israeli Day ParadeThis is not a political post, I don't talk politics here (;-)).

Every year there is a parade for Israel, which celebrates the anniversary of Israel's Independence. Many countries have a parade for their independence in NYC, and Israel is no different. I believe Salute to Israel runs the event, by the way.

Personally, I have not been to this parade in a long time. But yesterday I went with the family.

I don't see how they run parades in NYC. The parade goes from 57th Street and Fifth Avenue and goes up north on Fifth Avenue to 74th Street. It is between 11am and 4pm, which means those streets and the streets around them are closed off pretty much all day Sunday.

I drove in - a mistake. It took my 40 minutes to get to NYC and then an hour to get from NYC to where I needed to get to to park. Every parking spot was taken and every parking garage was full. I had to drive to 86th and Park to get a spot. That is just under a mile away from the end of the parade, or a 16 minute walk.

Leaving wasn't any better. Took us forever to get out of the city.

I guess it is nice to have a parade in the largest city in the world - but it would have been a lot easier to do it in a place that was less dense. :)

Anyway, you can see some news articles on the parade at Google News.

Next year, if I go, maybe we will take a bus.

May 17, 2010

Are Continental Airlines Employees Happy About Merger? Nope

United Airlines: Continental & United MergerLast time I was on a plane was a couple weeks ago and it was a Continental Airlines flight. I try to stick with Continental due to the points system, I also like their service and Newark is their hub and Newark isn't too far from me.

So when I heard the news of the United / Continental Merger, I wasn't surprised (due to rumors being out there for weeks) but I did want to know if the employeeswere indeed looking forward to the benefits of the merger:

Improved long-term career opportunities and enhanced stability by being part of a larger, financially stronger and more geographically diverse carrier.

I actually flew the morning when the official news came out, so as you can imagine, the employees were talking about it to each other. I could tell they were not happy. Eventually, a few of us in the front row were able to ask one of the flight attendants questions.

In short, they are not happy for a few reason:

(1) The unknown of any merger
(2) Will there be layoffs
(3) United has less pay and less benefits compared to Continental
(4) They love the company and are sad to see the name go
(5) Again, the unknown

I would be concerned also but the service that flight was excellent.

May 4, 2010

Airline Flight Status Pages Should Add Foursquare

I tweeted this, but heck, sitting waiting for my flight, so I broke out Photoshop to illustrate how I think Airlines should add Foursquare check ins to their flight status pages. I would love to know right on the flight status page, who else is in the airport that are my friends on Foursquare.

foursquare continental

Wonder which airline will do it first.

Flight status pages should include @Foursquare check ins :)less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

Foursquare's Fail Whale

I am in Florida now at the #ssss event and been trying to check in all morning on Foursquare, but I keep getting their fail whale sign:

Foursquare Fail Whale 500

What's up @foursquare?

March 17, 2010

Meeting The Inbal Jerusalem Hotel's SEO Team

When I was in Israel, I planned most my stay with the Inbal Jerusalem Hotel. I actually have stayed there a lot and it is a very nice hotel. The reasons I personally like this hotel is likely different from others. For me, it is between the Sheraton hotel (which just changed names) and the Inbal. The Inbal wins for a couple reasons, but most important to me is that my laptop fits in the in-room safe. At the Sheraton, my laptop will not fit in the safe.

Okay, enough about that. When I was there, I was asked if I can meet with a few of the people from the hotel. One was sick and couldn't make it but I did meet with others from the marketing team. We sat in the lobby and talked shop.

Here is a picture of the Online Marketing Manager of the hotel, Pinny after our meeting:

Inbal

So you are probably asking, why didn't we have the Inbal as the venue for SphinnCon Israel?

(1) Inbal was booked for those two weeks
(2) JCT already said okay
(3) I am sure the Inbal is pricey, but who knows, maybe they will give us SEOs a nice break for next year.

In any event, I highly recommend the Inbal hotel for it's location, accommodations, hospitality and the size of their in-room safes. ;-)

March 11, 2010

I'm a Bad Vacationer

VacationFor the past two weeks or so, I was on "vacation." My wife, daughter and I went to Israel. We were there for a family Bar Mitzvah.

Since I was coming in, I decided to run the SphinnCon Israel conference one of the days. I then also decided to hold some meetings with clients I have in Israel. And while I was at it, I scheduled some meetings and get togethers about SEO related topics.

The first week we arrived was a bit hectic. Two of the first 4 days, I spent in the hotel working. One day catching up from the flight and the second day doing the billing for the company. That wasn't the end of it. Every day, I spent about 2 hours in the morning, an hour in the middle of the day and 2 hours at night working on my laptop from the hotel. Of course, during this time, I had my iPhone and spent way too much time when I was out of the hotel responding to emails and mobile IMs.

I just don't manage vacation and business well.

Thankfully, I have a very understanding and patient wife. But as time goes on, I need to be able to manage this better.

I honestly think I was a bit more relaxed this time. Less nervous about being away. I did not get sick like I sometimes do and I think I was able to unplug at times, when I really did not want to. Overall, I probably spent 65% working and 35% not working, not including sleeping, on this vacation.

At the same time, I was not able to get together with many people who emailed me to meet up while in Israel. This includes both family, friends and business colleagues. So I am sorry if I did not get to spend time with you. Most of the business colleagues I saw at the conference, so that was nice. But there are some really good friends I did not see while I was there.

Anyway, it's something for me to work on.

March 9, 2010

SMX SphinnCon in Jerusalem Post

About to get on a plane back to NY, but I wanted to quickly share the write up on the Jerusalem Post (a very large Israeli paper) on the SphinnCon event that took place Sunday.

You can read it over here and here is a picture of it in my hand:

Me & SphinnCon in Jerusalem Post on March 9, 2010

March 2, 2010

My New Velvet Hebrew RustyBrick Kippah

Today I want to the ultra-orthodox Jewish neighborhood named Geula and purchased some religious wear. One of the things we bought was a new kippah, a brown velvet one . I decided to have them sew on the name RustyBrick, but in Hebrew, on the Kippah.

Here is a picture:

Hebrew RustyBrick Velvet Kippah

Don't I already have a RustyBrick Kippah? Yes, I do, but that one was Suede.

February 26, 2010

Funny Bathroom Sign in Israel

I am in Israel now and I was at a cafe last night where I saw this funny bathroom sign. I thought I'd share it with everyone. Here it is:

Toilets Sign in Israel

January 21, 2010

Praying Leads To Flight Emergency Landing: Tefillin Bomb Scare

TefillinMy Dad sent me an article from JPost named Tefillin causes bomb scare on US flight (FYI, my dad uses the email this to a friend feature). The story is interesting.

A 17 year old boy took out his Tefillin on a flight, in order to pray the morning Jewish services. The thing was, he wasn't flying to a destination that has many Jews. Typically, when you fly at certain times (Jewish holidays) and to certain places (places with lots of Jews) you are bound to see a Jewish person putting on Tefillin in the morning to pray.

You would see this all the time if you flew to Israel or into New York or Los Angeles. In this case, he was flying out from New York but to Louisville, Kentucky. I don't think there is that big of a Jewish population in Louisville. Wikipedia says:

There is a Jewish population of around 8,500 in the city served by five synagogues. Most Jewish families emigrated from Eastern Europe at the turn of the 20th century; around 800 Soviet Jews have moved to Louisville since 1991.[56] Jewish immigrants founded Jewish Hospital, which was once the center of the city's Jewish district. Jewish Hospital recently merged with the Catholic healthcare system CARITAS. On one corner near Bowman field are located the one orthodox temple, Shalom Towers, the Jewish Community Center and Jewish Family and Vocational Service.

So not huge, at all.

I am honestly surprised this doesn't come up more often. Whenever I go through security with my Tefillin, I wonder if someone will question me. They are strange black boxes with paper in them. Just seems weird, I would think.

This boy took a 7:30am flight and the flight duration was 90 minutes. I am not sure why he could not have prayed before or after the flight. I guess the 90 minute flight is a good time to do that, but still.

Read more at JPost.com.

December 29, 2009

Keynoting at Market Saint Louis on April 1, 2010

STL SEO SeminarA couple weeks ago, Will Hanke asked me if I would like to speak at a St. Louis based conference named Market St. Louis. I looked up the conference date and information and noticed a bunch of my colleagues in the SEM industry participate in this event. I also noticed it was on April 1st, the day after Passover.

I called my wife and asked if she would like to stay by her parents for the first days of Passover. That would be the only way I could have participated in this event. She said sure, so I told Will I can be part of the event.

As it turns out, I am keynoting. That means, I am the first speaker and it will be a question and answer type of format with the conference head.

So if you are in the mid-west (Chicago, St. Louis, etc.) come out and participate in Market St. Louis!

I typically don't speak at conferences for many reasons. But more recently, I have been speaking here and there - as long as it doesn't require me to prepare a powerpoint presentation. I am also heading up SphinnCon Israel, which would likely require me to prepare a presentation, but that is kind of "my" conference - so - well, you know.

December 10, 2009

I Hate Flying To/From Chicago : ORD or MDW

My hatred to Chicago airports began back in December 2005. I was leaving SES Chicago, a conference, in a major snow storm. I headed to Midway (MDW) airport to catch my flight back to New York. The airport was a zoo, we sat there for hours, hoping to board and leave Chicago. It never happened. Soon after we were told to prepare for boarding (after waiting several hours in the airport), a Southwest Airline flight ran off the runway, onto the street and killed a six year old boy.

I saw the plane run off the runway. I did not know at the time that it hit any cars or anything. I didn't find out until the next day. What I did find out that the plane didn't just look like it was on the street (it was far away), but it was indeed off the street. It basically could not stop after it landed and skidded off the runway. Soon after, they closed the airport - all flights were cancelled.

Here is a picture:

Chicago Southwest Airlines December 2005

I had two options:

(1) Stay for the weekend

(2) Try my luck by going to O'Hare (ORD) to see if I can get on a completely booked flight and the only flight going back to New York via that airline that night (Friday morning).

I decided to take my chances, go on standby and take a shuttle from Midway to O'Hare. The shuttle ride took hours. The streets were a mess, it felt like an eternity.

When I got to the airport at about 2am, there was only one security gate opened. It was at the furthest terminal from the gate I had to go to. I went through security, which was meant for maintenance folks and then used the back walkways to go to the terminal I had to go to. I started walking through the empty airport to find a ton of people sitting and sleeping outside of a gate, the gate of the flight I was on standby for. I came up to the person behind the counter and she asked, "Are you Barry Schwartz." I said "yes." She said, you made it - you are booked on this flight.

So a few hours after that, we boarded the packed flight and made our way to New York. When we arrived in New York, the snow caught up with us. I remember driving home in the snow, this was after being awake for 30 hours or so. Wasn't fun.

That is why Chicago scares me.

Last night, the first snow storm hit Chicago. Flights north were being cancelled or delayed. I was with my wife and kid. We decided to go to the airport and see what was available. Luckily, they booked us on an earlier, but delayed flight. That flight actually ended up taking off earlier than our booked flight. It worked out. We got home, on time and safely.

Unfortunately, two of the three Continental reps were really not nice. The ticketing one asked if we want to be booked on the earlier flight, I said - sure. But I asked if we can be seated together and she said sure. When I went through security, I noticed she put my wife (with baby on her lap) in the back of the plane and me in the front. I walked to a Continental desk and the woman told me she couldn't do anything. She said there were only middle seats. I said, well - that is fine, is there a middle seat by my seat or her seat? She gave me a nasty look and said - um... I said, please just see what you can do. I then tried the elite access hint and she looked. She told us there was nothing in the front, only in the back. I said, that is fine. I got the tickets and I looked and she ended up putting my wife near me, in the seat she said was not available.

I am sorry, but that makes me mad.

Anyway, flying to/from Chicago is not fun. Chicago itself is a really nice and charming place.

November 16, 2009

Lost & Found on Continental, Bose Earphones

lost and foundOn my flight back from Vegas last week, I did something I never did before, I forgot something on the plane. I left my Bose earphones on the plane, in the seat pocket in front of me.

I remember placing them there when the flight attendants asked us to turn off our devices. I actually thought to myself, I better put it in my bag but I didn't want to bother people by getting out of my seat. At 5am in the morning and not sleeping, I actually forgot it.

I arrived at my office at about 6:15am, right from the airport and did not notice that I forgot the earphones until I dropped off my bags at my house at about 9am.

When I got back to my office at about 9:20am that day (yes, I live like 10 minutes away from my office) I reported the lost item online. On Sunday, they called me in my office to tell me they found the item.

I was a bit shocked. Even though I have my business card in the bose earphone case, I thought there was no way I was getting these back. I was wrong! I am told they will ship it to me, of course, I will pay - it was my mistake.

These are expensive headphones and I had them for years. Would have hated to buy new ones, since these work just fine.

Thanks Continental!

October 28, 2009

OGIO Layover Travel Bag: Poor Quality or Glitch?

The OGIO RustyBrick laptop bags are a huge hit. Everyone loves them and we often get requests to send people more. We are actually almost completely out, so may have to reorder one day (they aren't cheap). But the bags are rock solid, comfortable and last a really long time.

So I was looking into getting travel carry-ons for this years gift. Of course, my first stop was OGIO and I decided the Layover would be a good fit. Only issue, it is really expensive. I decided to order a real sample, with our logo on it. I got that bag today but it came broken.

One of the "two-stage Pullman handle" was cracked and the actual bar that went through the bag, was snapped in half. I am not sure if it was a manufactures error or something that happened in transit. Let me show you pictures:

OGIO Travel Bag Broken OGIO Travel Bag Broken

My first instinct was, can I replace this handle bar without having to have the whole bag reordered? I opened the bag and noticed you can unzip the back to see the bars in the back. I then noticed that one of those metal bars was cracked in half!

OGIO Travel Bag Cracked OGIO Travel Bag Cracked

Crazy! Seriously, is this a bad quality bag or a fluke? Should I order these or not?

Here are pictures of the bag itself:

The brown plaid, in my opinion, goes well with the RB logo:

Ogio Layover Bag

Ogio Layover Bag

Ogio Layover Bag

The wheels look solid:

Ogio Layover Bag

Lots of internal space and storage compartments:

Ogio Layover Bag

So what do you think?

October 21, 2009

Continental Changed Planes On Me: Lost Front Row

I was checking my seats on my flight for the PubCon conference in Vegas in a few weeks and noticed that I was no longer in the first row in economy. Having the first row, on long flights, is nice - to say the least. When I booked early, I was able to grab the first row on the way to and from Vegas.

Now, when I look, I have the same seat number, but on the way to Vegas, it looked like they put in two more rows in front of my row. On the way back, the plane is still the same, so I still have the front row coming back (which is a red eye, so it is nice).

Here is the before and after...

Before:

continental plane seat before

After:

continental plane seat change

When I called Continental to ask, they said they didn't add new rows, but they changed the plane on me. They then told me that the front row is reserved for handicap. I decided then not to complain and thanked the person for the information. Thankfully, I am not handicap - so sitting in a normal row is just fine for me. If I remember, I'll try to call a day before the flight to see if those seats have been taken. Just too bad they changed planes on me.

I am told this is fairly common.

October 19, 2009

Cashing in on Airline Miles

gold starFor the first time in my life, I have used airline miles and credit card points to book a free flight somewhere.

Flights to Israel are not cheap. They are also not too comfortable, cause of the size of the airplane (lots of people) and length of the flight (12 hours). So using miles on these types of flights, often make sense, when you have them.

I had more than enough miles and points to book this flight, for my wife and I (including baby), for free to Israel.

In fact, because of the different types of reward travel offered by Continental, I was able to book Business class. Continental has two reward types, SaverPass Rewards and EasyPass Rewards. SaverPass requires less miles to book. These are then broken out by class type, economy and business. The flights I was looking at had no economy at the SaverPass mile class, but they did have business class. The SaverPass business class miles required was 10,000 miles more than the economy of SaverPass. In my opinion, an extra 10,000 miles to fly business class internationally makes sense.

I was just surprised they let a baby in business class.

I've flown BusinessFirst class with Continental once before, as a free upgrade. It was more comfortable and the food was a bit better, but I really don't need it for most flights. International, I think pays in this case.

September 22, 2009

Flying With a Baby; I'm One Of Those Now

baby on planeFor this years Rosh Hashanah holiday we went to the in-laws (my in-laws) via aircraft. That means, we had to fly with a baby, since I am now a dad. No, I couldn't leave her behind - nor did I want to. :)

So, I am a bit nervous about how the flight will go. You know, no one wants to sit next to a crying baby on a flight, be it 30 minutes or 30 hours. I am sure most of you have all been on a flight with a crying baby. The next flight you go on with a baby - you give the parents 'that look.' You know, the "ugh, you are on my flight" look. I am sure I have given that look to others, even though it likely was not intentional.

It was my time, my time to get the look. And yes, I felt like I got the look. I am pretty sure I really did get the look from some people. Giving the look and getting the look, um... looks different. It looks like, a little smile and then as they turn their head, they roll their eyes up slightly. Yea, I saw a couple of those on the departing and arriving flights.

But in the end, we showed them. My little girl was an angel. She, with the aid of her mother, feel asleep on take off, and slept throughout the two hour +or- flight. Not just on the way there, but on the way back.

In fact, we even got compliments from other passengers on the plane. Not only did she complement how cute she was. She is cute. But how they didn't even notice a baby was on the flight, since she didn't make a peep 99% of the way.

So next time you see a baby on a flight - hold off on giving "the look" until it is actually warranted!

August 13, 2009

Kosher Near Googleplex - Mountain View - The Kitchen Table

The Kitchen Table - Kosher in Mountain ViewOne of the worst parts of going to conferences is the lack of kosher places to eat. It is not an issue in New York or Chicago (places can be far to get to in Chicago). But it is an issue in places like San Jose and Seattle, and so on.

Last night, right before the last session ended, I get an email from a Jewish guy named Eli I know who lives in this area. He said, did you know about the new kosher place that is in Mountain View. He sent me the details of the place via email. We (Steve) ended up meeting Eli and his wife there.

The place is named The Kitchen Restaurant and it is a really nice place. The service, food and atmosphere was excellent.

Now when people want me to go out for dinner with them, I can say - yes, but it has to be at the Kitchen Restaurant. It was about a $50 cab ride each way. The prices of the food were not too expensive, relative to NY. I will 100% come back here when I go to SMX West, maybe you will join me.

Oh, the picture is from my Kosher iPhone app, which did have the place there, with several positive reviews. You can read the reviews without the app at Shamash.org.

August 11, 2009

First Class Kosher Airline Food

Yesterday, as many of you know, I flew first class for the first time. It was a really nice flight, we took off on time, landed on time, quick to the gate, quick to exit (non-of that was due to 1st class). But the space, leg room, food, bathroom, and comfort of first class is nice.

Anyway, I was actually surprised to see that they upgraded the kosher meal to a "first class" version of the kosher meal.

It started with an appetizer:

App: First Class Kosher Meals on Continental

Then the main and dessert courses came together:

Main: First Class Kosher Meals on Continental

The "normal" first class meals had choices of steak and other selections. They also had an awesome looking ice cream dessert, really looked great.

I am not thinking, "I can't go back to coach." Honestly, right now, I am thinking that I won't have an issue with the seat I have on the way back. But I am be a big talker now, I'll let you know when I land on Friday, how it is. Or who knows, maybe I'll get upgraded again (wishful thinking).

August 10, 2009

Flying First Class

Flying First ClassOn Friday, I was checking my flight times for my trip to California for the conference tomorrow. I saw a little "upgrade" link, so I clicked it. Next thing I know, I was upgraded to first class.

This was the first time I was upgraded to first class on a Continental flight. I've flown "business class" without paying before, when I was 16 or so, on the way back from Israel, on El Al. I don't consider that first class, since it was just the seat, not the service.

This will be my first time in real first class (although I did not pay for it), on a real flight. I am not sure what to expect, but I am looking forward to it.

If you see me on the flight, don't give me a weird look. But do ask me if you want to share a cab from the airport to the hotel. :)

See you in San Jose soon!

July 16, 2009

Continental Customer Service: Elite Access Vs. Average Customer

Customer ServiceFor the first time in my life, I actually booked tickets for a flight for the wrong day. I am actually not to blame, because the SES site does say Monday through Thursday, but I didn't realize that Monday is a training session day and not really part of the conference.

Since I booked the flight a few days ago, I was hoping pushing the day forward would not cost me too much. I dialed the main line to Continental Airlines and spoke to four people, with hold times of about 7 minutes (on average) before speaking to each person. Each person said, we can't change your flight without a change fee, plus your fair is going to be much higher. I said, I then asked if they can do something, so I was transferred twice before speaking with someone who was basically yelling at me for the mistake.

I won't say her name, because I forgot it and I don't want her to get fired. But she was like, "Why are you asking me about this?" I said, I don't know, I was transferred here by the other person. She asks me again, "why would you speak to me about this, I can't help you!" I kept saying, I didn't ask to speak to her, but they transferred me to her. She just kept on going, making me feel stupid that (1) I was speaking with her and (2) I booked the wrong flight. Okay, I was stupid for #2, but still.

I then apologized to this customer service person. I told her, I am sorry if I am making your day turn out bad. I added that I really didn't mean to be transferred to someone who cannot help me. I just want to find out if I can do something about my mistake. She basically grunted and asked again for my confirmation number, so I gave it to her. Then the shocker....

She said, "Your elite access," I said yes, I know. She then began apologizing to me for the trouble and said she would transfer me to the "elite desk." She then apologized three more times and transferred me. Wow!

The elite desk answered right away, made the flight change for free, with a slight cost for the flight difference. And I was all set within minutes after being transferred to the "elite desk."

I was shocked to see how Continental treats their "average" customer, compared to those that have "elite" access (i.e. fly more than 25,000 miles a year with them). I know you treat your better customers better, but to virtually yell and belittle the "average" customer and then treat your best customers like gold, seems way off to me. There has to be a better balance between the two.

And if you are off to SES San Jose, double check the agenda and make sure you are flying in and out the correct days.

July 13, 2009

Booked Three Flights via Continental Saturday Night

Flying GeeseThis Saturday night, I booked three flights on Continental. The prices seemed right, so I booked them all. I should have booked via Orbitz, but I had travel certificates due to my last flight booking gamble, which paid for two of the three flights. So I believe I had to book on Continental.com to use them.

I am booked to fly to California, San Francisco for SES San Jose. Tickets for that were really high, the price went down, so I jumped on it. I am only staying through Wednesday night this time.

I am also booked to go to the in-laws in St Louis for an upcoming holiday. That will be my first time flying with our baby, so it should be interesting. I actually had to use the special booking form to add an infant as a traveler, that was neat. Tickets for that flight seemed relatively cheap, so I got em.

I also booked my flight for PubCon Vegas. The price was about $320 with tax, which I think is a pretty good price for New York to Vegas on Continental.

With those three flights, I should have secured Elite Access with Continental for 2010. One thing I noticed having Elite Access in 2009, was that typically, 50% of the flight has the same level of access that you do. So I don't feel too elite. ;-)

I am also expected to be at SMX East in October, but I don't need to fly anywhere to attend this conference.

Oh, bad choice of picture?

June 25, 2009

I Am Not In Jail, But I Got A Speeding Ticket

Cop Pulled Me OverLast night, I left work a bit early cause I had a late night conference call and I wanted to be home a bit earlier so I can be ready for it. Oh boy - did I pay for leaving work at 5:30ish. On the way home, I got a pulled over by a cop for going, as he put it on the ticket, 44 in a 30 speed zone. My fault for not seeing the cop, my fault for being the last car in the line of cars going 44.

The funny part of getting this ticket was that after the cop took my license, insurance and registration and went back into his car to issue me a speeding ticket, I decided to tweet it. I wrote:

Err. Cop pulled me over. http://twitpic.com/8bdyt

Then I began getting responses of support and encouragement. Some people thought I may have been in trouble. Was it a drug bust? Did I rob a bank? Did I leave comment spam on Matt's blog? No, no, no! I just got a speeding ticket.

The officer was actually nice. He told me to plead not guilty, see him in court and work out a deal. I said thank you and he said, have a good night.

How many people have tweeted that they got a ticket and snapped a picture of the cop as they write the ticket? Not many.

April 22, 2009

Why Does Lexus Show A Weird Bluetooth Icon?

The standard Bluetooth Icon that most people can recognize is:

Bluetooth logo

Apple has a slight variation on it, but it is about that same. The B look:

Bluetooth Mac Icon

So why does my navigation system show a totally weird Bluetooth icon? You see, it has a three blue circles on top of a BT. Weird!

Lexus Phone Bluetooth Icon

BTW, I love the bluetooth connection feature in the nav. I use it all the time. I hear the next iPhone will support bluetooth stream of the iPod, which would be nice as well for driving.

March 31, 2009

Broken Jet Way After 12 Hour Flight

Jet WayI am back in America, been back since Sunday morning. But let me tell you about the flight. We took El Al back, and we flew into JFK. The 12 hour flight was pretty good. Well, I sat next to this guy who kept putting his arm rest up, so that he can venture into my seat area. I am not a small guy, but the guy next to me, made me look small. In any event, we got very close on the trip. :)

So when we landed in JFK, about an hour late, the first thing I wanted to do was get up and get off the plane. But we sat/stood there for 45 minutes waiting for JFK's people to get the jet way to attach to the plane. After 45 minutes of trying and failing, they decided to move us to a new gate. We all had to sit back down, stow our luggage and faster our seat belts. Then they towed us back and then into a new gate. Thankfully, the jet way worked fine on that gate, and we exited the plane in an orderly fashion.

This is the second time, in the past few months, that the jetway had issues. The first time, it took them 10 minutes to get it working. It finally worked. But this time, 45 minutes later, they gave up.

Anyway, it is good to be back in New York - I am feel under the weather right now, I hope this passes soon.

March 30, 2009

Review: Hotel Cinema in Tel Aviv

The past week or so, I was put up in the Cinema Hotel in Tel Aviv, Israel. I honestly was looking forward to the hotel, simply because I heard many good reviews. In fact, people were very positive about it and shared great stories. I, on the other hand, felt the hotel was not at all what I imagined. I was honestly, very disappointed with it and I would likely never go there again.

For me, the most important attributes to a hotel room is the bed and the shower. I use to care about internet speed, but now I bring a wireless card with me, so I don't care about that.

The rooms are pretty small, which is fine. But I cannot stand bathrooms that are so small that when you try to turn around, you hit the sink or the toilet. Nothing like taking a shower, stepping out and then touching a toilet with your leg. Here is a picture of the toilet, right next to the shower. Do note that the sink is right at the end of the picture, there is not much room to move back and forth:

Cinema Hotel Tel Aviv, Israel

They had this glass swinging door that is in place of a shower curtain. I assume they use the glass door to make the bathroom look more spacious, but it really didn't help. The door is awkward and makes you feel like you are getting the bathroom soaking wet. Here is a picture:

Cinema Hotel Tel Aviv, Israel

Also, they don't give you much in terms of bathroom accessories. For example, I wanted to shower when we got to the hotel and I looked for soaps and shampoos. I couldn't find any, so I called downstairs and they told me the liquid dispenser is an all in one combo, for soap and shampoo. Here is a picture of two dispensers, and guess what, the one in the shower did not work:

Cinema Hotel Tel Aviv, Israel

To make things worse, I needed tissues to take with me the next day. So they give you a pack of ten for the room. I figured if I take the tissue travel pack, they would give me a box or a new pack the next day. I arrive back in the room and there is none. So I call and ask for more tissues and an hour later, they bring up a single ten pack. I was sick that night, so I blew through the tissues in no time. I decided to buy my own bag of tissues at a nearby convenient store. That lasted me the week, but it was annoying.

Another annoying thing that was missing was that there were no alarm clocks in the room. In fact, there was no clock at all. There was also a very limited number of AC sockets to plug my stuff into. Finally, I heard the internet was almost unusable (which wasn't an issue for me, cause I bring my own Internet).

The worst part of the hotel is that the hotel was not kosher certified. How can the Israeli Consulate send 4 observant Jewish people to a Jewish country and send them to a hotel that was not certified kosher. The hotel said they were kosher, but they had no certification. So, if you are observant, and you want a kosher hotel - don't go here. In fact, there are few "Mahadrin" places to eat in Tel Aviv, but the hotel itself was not even Rababnut kosher.

The rooms also have switches for air conditioning, but they didn't seem to work. Both Tamar and I tried turning on the cold air, but it just blew warm air, even though the switch was on the cold position. I think Tamar got sick from the A/C, which then got several others of us sick.

Here are some more pictures of my hotel room via a slideshow:

I would honestly never go to this hotel again. It wasn't "horrible," but it wasn't what I expected. There is history with this hotel and being an old movie theatre, but art and history doesn't make up for comfort.

March 26, 2009

Blogging Israel: SEM Meet Up in Tel Aviv

Today I went to a smallish (less than 20 people) SEM meet up we pulled together in two day notice, which Compucall hosted. I wrote up details about the event with What Israeli SEMs Want at Search Engine Land. And Olivier wrote up his notes from the event at the Compucall blog named Barry Schwartz from RustyBrick visits Compucall.

This time, Gilad didn't have to travel to Jerusalem to meet me. Branko was unable to make it, but I did meet him a couple months ago, so hopefully he won't miss me too much.

Here are some pictures (I have more but didn't upload mine):

Barry Schwartz, Ophir Cohen & Olivier Amar at SEM Meetup Tel Aviv, Israel
Barry Schwartz (me), Ophir Cohen (middle) & Olivier Amar (right)

Gilad Sasson, Mayer Reich & Barry Schwartz at SEM Meetup Tel Aviv, Israel
Gilad Sasson (left), Mayer Reich (middle), Me

Itai Levitan at SEM Meetup Tel Aviv, Israel
Itai Levitan

Tel Aviv SEO Meetup

Tel Aviv SEO Meetup

Blogging Israel: Technion in Haifa & Druze Village Visit

Yesterday, some of us went up north. We first went to visit the MIT of Israel named the Technion. In that trip, we met with Dr. Alon Wolf from the Biorobotics and Biomechanics lab. Dr Wolf built many things, including robotic snakes. The snake can be used in many cases, including war and also for medical purposes. I found a video that shows the large robot snake in action:

Pretty cool. They are also active in building what is called "An Adaptive Virtual Biofeedback System for Rehabilitation." It is truly amazing stuff, and you can see videos and read about this over here.

Then we met with two different professors in the field of waste management. One specialized in using bacteria as a way to remove bad elements from water. His techniques are being used to save millions of dollars in Israel and other parts of the world. I also met with one that used more of a chemical approach to cleaning water. That professor used high voltage and sound waves to do it and it is pretty big in Vegas, I am told. Honestly, those two meetings were way above my head and I am not a big bio, plant, water person.

We then met with Professor Yoram Baram who has a patent on Closed-Loop Augmented Reality Apparatus. Let me explain. Certain disorders, such as Cerebral Palsy cause people to not be able to walk normally. He built a device (glasses and ear phones) that gives these patient cues (diamond boxes) to aid them in walking. It is actually pretty cool, because you see the incredible improvement, immediately, as the person puts on this device. There are videos and more documents on how this works over here.

Professor Yoram Baram

The Technion is a pretty incredible place.

After the Technion, we went to a Druze village in the Carmel. According to Wikipedia, they are a religious community found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, whose traditional religion is said to have begun as an offshoot of Islam. I have never been in a Druze village before and it was fairly interesting. The family we visited was incredibly hospitable. As we sat there and talked to our guide, his family walked in, began serving us fruits, drinks and their strong coffee. In addition, his wife, daughter and son came in - as did his sister-in-law, I believe. The Druze in Israel, typically serve in the Israeli army - the guy we met was an officer in the army. It was interesting to see their way of life.

Then we came back, and I saw a car get towed in Israel, which I found interesting as well.

How Cars Get Towed In Israel

In America, for a car to get towed, they need to bring a tow truck, then spend 20 minutes hooking up the car and then tow the car away. It is a big process and you rarely see it. In Israel, it is common and done incredibly efficiently.

In short, they have this special truck that just pulls up along the car. Then it presses a button and two metal lifts shoot out from under the truck and go under the car. It then lifts the car up into the air and puts the car on the tow truck. It is that quick.

Last night, while eating pizza (yes, in Israel and I eat pizza) with Tamar and her husband, we notice a tow truck doing just that. Here is a picture:

Towing Cars in Tel Aviv, Israel

As the car is being lifted in the air, three or four girls come running out of the store yelling. The girls are pleading, in Hebrew, with the tow truck operator (maybe a cop) to give them a second chance. After a minute or so of talking, he puts the car back down and one of the girls give the guy a kiss on the cheek. I guess the pleading and maybe flirting paid off.

I hear that having your car towed is very costly and very inconvenient. The only benefit Americans have is that it is not easy for a car to be towed, relative to how it is done in Israel.

March 24, 2009

Blogging Israel: From Nanos To Garbage Dumps To Parks

Today was an interesting day, to say the least. We went to two places today. First the Weizmann Institute, a university designed for only those who have degrees beyond under-grad in the areas of Biology, Chemistry, etc. Second we went to the Hiriya Garbage Dump Recycling Plant, which is being turned into a big park. So it was a pretty diverse day.

At the Weizmann Institute we meet extremely brilliant professors who specialize in topics such as nano-technology, sustainable energies and plant sciences. Most of the professors were way over my head, but I did gain some insight into the challenges they find for finding (searching) for information. I even wrote a piece at Search Engine Land named BioNumbers - Specialty Biology Answer Search Engine. Check out the engine at BioNumbers, hosted now at Harvard.

In fact, at least two of the professors we met when to Harvard. One built a onion like molecule that is the strongest thing on earth (stronger than a diamond) but also bends in all ways (very flexible) as a lubricant. It can last forever and can be used to be put in new cars so that no oil changes are ever needed. His issue, is producing the stuff fast enough for those that demand it. Another professor does research on sustainable energy (a popular Google topic these days) and he personally wants to educate the public about the myths and inaccuracies out there on the issues. We also met a professor who studies how plants works, specifically photosynthesis and carbon fixation. He was also the one that built BioNumbers. We then went to the labs and saw some cool machines that did a bulk of the work.

To dumb things down a bit, we then went to a closed down garbage dump that is turning into a park. There is a good article on this place at the New York Times named Recycling in Israel, Not Just Trash, but the Whole Dump. Several cities around the area bring their waste to this dump daily, and it is then shipped out to the south. In fact, they closed it down because the mountain would get in the flight path of the big Israel Airport and geese might have been an issue. The tourist part of the place was the education on recycling and creating less waste. They hold tours there often to educate, mostly children, on the topic. Plus they are building a park on top of the garbage that was already there (sounds weird to me, but it works). Honestly, the place doesn't smell too good.

I'll have videos of all of this in a couple weeks.

Blogging Israel: Boring Summary Video

In continuation of my Blogger Delegation trip to Israel, I had some time this morning, after scheduling a few blog posts this morning at the search blog. So I used the Quick Capture feature on YouTube to make a boring video summary of what we did and where we will be going. Hope it doesn't put you to sleep:

In other news, I am glad to see the market rise yesterday. :)

March 23, 2009

Blogging Israel: Jerusalem's Old City

Loren Feldman at KotelToday is Jerusalem day and we first went to the old city. We drove up to Hebrew University to get a nice view of the old city. Then we went to David's Tomb, some of us were not able to go in. Specifically, Jewish people who are Kohanim are not allowed to go to grave sites. I am not a kohen, but just wanted to inform you about that little fact.

After that, we walked to the Cardo, which is inside the old city. I lived in that area for several months before College, as a year of study abroad. We walked through the old city, making our way through the "rova" and onto the kotel (Western Wall). The above picture is a picture of Loren Feldman (I link to his Wikipedia entry as a joke here) at the wall, I believe his first time there. Today was Monday and Mondays and Thursdays there are many Bar Mitzvahs at the wall, so we all took some video of that in action (to be posted later).

We then went through the Christian quarter shops, and they took us to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I did not go into the Church, but some did. In any event, after the Church we walked to Jaffa Gate to meet our driver.

From there we went to eat lunch and now I am at Yad Vashem, one of the most famous holocaust museums. Since I have been here a few times and blogged about it already, I decided to catch up on some work and write a blog post about today.

Like I said, I am taking videos and will likely post a single video when I get back home.

March 22, 2009

Blogging Israel: Landed in TLV, Did Dinner & Met Orli

Share photos on twitter with TwitpicAs many of you know, this week, I am in Israel, on an invited Blogger Delegation to Israel with other New York bloggers. We took a midnight flight out Saturday night, and arrived 10:30ish AM (EST), which is about 4:30pm here in Israel. The 10+ hour flight was a bit cramped but El Al gave us access to their lounge and the flight was as expected.

I was the only blogger to take my whole week in a carry on and a laptop bag. Sometimes I can really impress myself with my packing skills. ;-) But the other blogger's luggage came out fairly quickly and we existed the baggage claim to look for our driver. We couldn't spot him too quickly, so Loren and his wife, Michelle grabbed a cab, while we did more investigation work. He was actually standing waiting for us, but we missed him. A picture of our driver is the photo I selected for this post.

Then Tamar, Brian, Ely Jeanine, not David (cause he comes in tomorrow) got on the mini bus and went to the hotel. The hotel is named Hotel Cinema, it is kind of an artsy place with a lot of "cinema" artifacts around (old movie cameras). The hotel is fine, I am just not the artsy type - so I don't appreciate it when I see it.

After a much needed shower and change of clothes, we all went outside to go to a place to eat by the peer. There, we met Orli, a well-known social media woman from Israel. She was extremely nice and it was nice meeting her and learning about what she does. The dinner was mostly breads, pastas, fish, etc, plus the desserts were good. The view was also nice and I am sure some of the other bloggers will post some pictures.

Then we got back to the hotel at 9:45 local time and I came up here to do this quick post. Might not look quick, but I can barely keep my eyes open and I type really fast. So it was quick.

Tomorrow is devoted to Jerusalem and I have a feeling it should be an enjoyable day. I know Jerusalem fairly well, specifically the old and new city, so maybe I will learn something new from our tour guide.

Stay tuned for my week of "Blogging Israel." I am still sad I am missing SES NY but I have a feeling it will be worth missing the conference.

March 18, 2009

El Al Schwag :: Lounge Access & Nice Treatment

My wife called me when I was at a meeting to let me know I received a package from El Al. We are flying El Al for the Blogger delegation to Israel, El Al is Israel's main airline. Since I am a nice husband, I gave her my permission to open the package (eagerly awaits nasty comment from wife). I am now home, need to run out in a second, but here are some pictures...

It came in an El Al tote bag:

El Al Airline Schwag

Open the tote and tons of schwag came out:

El Al Airline Schwag

El Al Schwag included:
- El Al tote bag
- El Al blowup neck pillow
- El Al small case holder
- Cute El Al stuffed animal plane
- El Al deck of cards
- El Al paper clip
- El Al flash light key chain
- El Al note pad
- El Al bag tag
- El Al pen/highlighter
- El Al money clip

It also came with a nice letter from the El Al office. It shared our seat numbers, so we can say hi to the other bloggers. FYI, it turns out there are more bloggers than I thought, two more. It also said that they gave us access to the lounges at both airports. I am so happy about that, it means I can use my laptop and be almost guaranteed a power plug.

The trip is off to a very good start.

Thank you Israel and El Al!

Israel Blogger Delegation: NY Bloggers Named

Israeli Consulate TripIsRealli blog wrote about the Blogger Delegation to Israel, so I guess it really is official. We (bloggers) should be arriving this Sunday, to spend a week in Israel, blogging about our experiences.

Honestly, I don't know much about what to expect. I know my flight information and the Tel Aviv hotel we are staying at, but that is about it for now. Tomorrow afternoon, we are told we will learn more about our schedules and plans. Many of us will meet at the Israeli Consulate in NY to meet the trip organizers and learn more about the trip.

I do know the other "bloggers" who are going to be on the trip. They include:

Looking forward to spending time with everyone in Israel.

March 9, 2009

Always Connected to Internet While in Israel

travelcellWhen I went to Israel a couple months ago, I was ecstatic to to have an international data plan for my iPhone. It really let me enjoy my time in Israel, knowing that I can be connected all the time, where ever I went.

But it is not enough to be connected to the Internet on just my iPhone. A couple months ago, I used the hotel's internet, which was pretty expensive (I think $15 per day) to connect my laptop. Then with the international plan at about $10 a day also, it added up.

I will be heading back to Israel via a Blogger Delegation via the NY Israeli Consulate. This time, I can take advantage of renting a wireless data card.

I received an email from TravelCell.com a few weeks after I returned from Israel that they know how internet cards PDF available for Israel at an unlimited data rate. So I just signed up for the weekly plan, which includes a free cell phone rental (minutes are extra but free incoming).

Will the internet card be too slow? I am not sure. I did some speed tests in Israel over my iPhone and it was actually faster then my brothers Israel internet. So I hope it isn't too bad.

I will report back my experience.

The only downside right now is that they charge your credit card for $500 as a security deposit. You got that, they do not just "authorize" the card for the deposit, they actually charge you $500. Then when you return it, they promise to refund the $500. Outside of that, so far so good.

And I have learned to activate my AT&T international plan on the way to the airport, as to not pay for days that I am not overseas.

March 4, 2009

Invited To Join The Bloggers Delegation to Israel

Israeli Consulate TripYesterday, I received an email from the Israeli Consulate in New York inviting me to join a team of bloggers going to Israel, they call it a Blogger delegation to Israel. Basically, they want several bloggers to go, experience Israel and write about it. How cool!

Back in May of last year, I heard from someone at the Israel Ministry of Tourism via Facebook (go figure) that they wanted to put something like this together. I was then told that they handed off the project to the Israeli Consulate in New York. I don't know if you noticed, but the Israeli Consulate in New York has been extremely active blogging at Isrealli.org and reaching out on their Twitter account at @israelconsulate.

I am not sure how many other countries are using social media and have planned trips like this for bloggers to learn about a country and blog about it. But it shows you how times are changing and how social media, blogging and this type of outreach has major value.

The Consulate General of Israel in New York, along with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be covering pretty much all the expenses and working out our itineraries. I don't know what other bloggers are going, outside of Tamar, who deserves a big thank you for doing most of the leg work with the consulate. But it should be a lot of fun and an invaluable experience.

So, in a few weeks, I am off to Israel for several days to get a real guided tour. I know I go to Israel about once per year, but when I go, it is more about visiting family and doing work, as opposed to getting to meet people in Israel and discuss topics.

I would love to actually use some of the time to meet up with Israel tech companies in the search field while I am there. So we will see if that happens. This past Sunday, I did a write up of My Friendly Meet Up With Google Israel and I hope to do more of these. So we will see.

Obviously, I want to thank the Israeli Consulate, the Ministry of Tourism and Foreign Affairs, Tamar, and my readers for putting me in a position to be able to do this. I can't express how much I appreciate it. Last, but not least, I would like to thank my pregnant wife for letting me leave her several days to be a part of this important trip.

This is a true honor.

February 13, 2009

My SMX West 2009 Pictures

Here are pictures from the sessions at SMX West 2009.

Hope to get back to blogging here on a normal schedule next week.

Also, check out our live blogging coverage at the Search Engine Roundtable.

February 3, 2009

A Google Mezuzah at Google TLV

So I shared some pictures of the Google Tel Aviv office, but I wanted to point out one specific picture.

Jewish law requires you to put a Mezuzah on the top portion of the right doorpost of all doorways in and outside your home or office. Here is a picture of Google's Mezuzah.

Google Israel Tel Aviv Office

Funny how they colored it Google colors. :)

January 30, 2009

Pictures From My Talk At Jerusalem Web Professionals

As some of you know, I spoke at a small event in Jerusalem. It is a bit funny, cause I saw a few familiar faces - I would mention some names, but I don't want to call anyone out and forget some people. But I do want to mention one person. I get an email from RustyBrick's first real employee - Hillel Coren. He tells me he is in Israel now and he saw I was speaking at these events, that he happens to go to. So he asked to meet up 30 minutes before. So we did. It was nice catching up with him - he worked for us for a long time, before moving to Manhattan and finding a new job. But he was a big part of what RB is today, so it was great seeing him.

Outside of Hillel and the people I met, I got some very interesting questions. Want to thank Charlie for organizing the event and Presentense for hosting it. I was able to wing the quiz they gave me on SEO :) and it was a lot of fun. Just never really talked that long, about two hours straight. So I had a thing of ice cream when I got back to the hotel - best ice cream I ever had. In any event, here are pictures of the event from Facebook.

January 29, 2009

Meeting Israel's Best SEOs Gilad, Branko & Many Others

I had the opportunity to meet many SEOs while in Israel this trip. I met with RankAbove, I met with 30+ folks at the Jerusalem Web Professionals group and today I met with some of my favorite Israeli SEOs, Gilad Sasson and Branko Rihtman (aka neyne / SEO Scientist).

Gilad, Branko & Barry in Jerusalem

Gilad came all the way from Tel Aviv, which is a long way relative to Israel. Branko came from the other side of Jerusalem to meet with me. Roi, who runs Tens Technology and who Branko works for, couldn't make the lunch meeting - cause he just had a new kid. And Mayer from RankAbove I also missed due to having a kid. Mazol Tov Roi and Mayer!

Big thank you to my wife who has put up with me on this trip. She came with me to some of these meetings and almost passed out from boredom several times. Thank you wife!

Touring Yad Eliezer - Wonderful Charity in Israel

Yad Eliezer LogoA month or so ago, we signed a deal (well, there were no signatures), to re-create the image and coding of Yad Eliezer's web site. I had the privilege with meeting with the family who runs the American operations and initiatives in my New York office. They described all the things they do for Israel, including and I am sure I am missing things... Thousand and thousands of food baskets for the hungry and for soldiers, weddings, big brother and sister programs, dental programs, baby formula, bar mitzvah programs and so much more. You can learn a bit about their programs over here (keep in mind, the site will change in the next few months, after we finish it).

The people who manage the American side of things really made an impression on me. It is a father, son and mother operation. The family is well off financially and they do not take a penny for the work they do for the organization. The father and son devote a huge amount of their time and money for the organization, but the mothers spends her days and nights (full time and overtime) working for the organization. She is up often at 3am (and I thought I got up early) and works late into the night.

I have seen many organizations and this organization just seemed different to me. They are by far the largest of its kind in Israel. They are most well known for their food programs, but because of their outreach in food, it extends to other programs, that have a nice natural fit.

As you can see, I am leaving out names - just in case. So the mother asked me if I would like to see how the operation works in Israel. So we coordinated a meet up at the Yad Eliezer Israel office, where I meet a bunch of people from the team. They were extremely delighted and excited to get their new web site. But besides for that, they took my wife and myself on a tour of the operations.

They first showed us a video they just released, showing how they sent 8,000 care packages to the Israeli soldiers during the Gaza war. They were able to get tons and tons of donations and tons and tons of volunteers in no time, to put together this huge operation. It was truly special and made a huge difference in the moral of these soldiers.

After the video and him showing us the dental clinic they run up north for families that cannot afford basic dental care, he took us for the tour. I believe we first visited the packaging facility, where in 2008, they packed about 8,000 packages each month for families in need of food and babies in need of baby formula. I even met a kid I know from where I live, who is donating his time while spending a year learning in Israel. Small world. It seemed like there were about 20 people there working, and I was told only one was on payroll.

Here is a picture of a portion of the packaging area, where the volunteers took 10 minutes out to watch that new video I mentioned above. I hope they post the video to YouTube, so I can share it with you all, but here is one picture:

Yad Eliezer Packing Plant

Then he took us to the caterer, who prepares the food for the weddings they run at cost (and often cover 100%) for poor families. Weddings are a huge deal for Jewish families, huge - so they want offer a Adopt a Jewish Wedding program, so that even poor families can have a nice wedding. So we first went to the caterer who makes a total profit of several US dollars per event (not per plate). They have at least two weddings each night (two each night!) and often more. They were prepping chickens, soup, kugel, and a lot more. Everything was very clean and very impressive looking.

We then went to the two new wedding halls Yad Eliezer owns. They were extremely nice, as nice as most normal weddings in the US. They own two halls and they are constantly used, every night for a weddings. They also are able to get other halls at very reduced costs when they have more than two weddings taking place in a single night. Again, I was very shocked to see such care.

He only showed us a portion of what they do. But the small portion I saw in the couple hours I spent with them was unbelievable. What is even more unbelievable is that most of this is all done for free through their huge volunteer base. I am often skeptical about charities, that is why it is always nice to see an organization that is fully dedicated to what they do, from their hearts and not from their wallets.

Again, I feel privileged to be able to do their web site and even more privileged to have witnessed first hand, just a small portion of what they do, to better the world.

January 26, 2009

Pictures of Google's Tel Aviv Office

I'll do a larger write up on the Google Tel Aviv office later, but I wanted to share pictures of the office with everyone. I was actually surprised by how "Googlish" the office was in Tel Aviv. Here is a slideshow:

It Is a Place to Dispose of Bombs (בור בטחון)

Yesterday, I asked you to guess what this is a picture of and Charlie Kalech got it right. It is what is called a בור בטחון which means a place to dispose of bombs. Here is a picture, again:

At Kever Rachel

This one sits about 10 feet from the grave site of Rachel, more on that over here. In short, it is a very holy site. If you find a bomb, you put it in this box and it should take care of most home made bombs. I was shocked to learn what it was. I personally thought it was a charity box, but I couldn't find a slot to put money in. So when I asked, I was told it was a place to put a bomb, if you find one. Being American, it just felt to weird to see one of these things. I was then told, they are all over Israel and even at the Kotel (western wall). When I went to the Kotel yesterday, I noticed one, you can see it for yourself in this picture in the center and the far bottom, at the end of the fence, right behind the middle man in the black coat.

Who would think you would need such a box? But when you see the security needed to protect such sites, I guess I should not be shocked. Rachel's Tomb is surrounded by a fortress to protect it, and those that come to pray there. I took a picture of one of the many look out towers, which encompasses the whole site:

At Kever Rachel

Again, I was in disbelief when I saw all of this. This is normal life here. I cannot fathom it.

January 25, 2009

Guess What This Is...

Here is a picture at one of the holy sites I visited. Now, I had no idea what it was until I was told. Let me give you context. It is positioned indoors, about 10 feet from a holy grave site. Take a guess and comment on what you think it is...

At Kever Rachel

I'll come on later (via a new post) to let you know.

Okay, contest is over: Answer is... It Is a Place to Dispose of Bombs (בור בטחון) read more...

January 23, 2009

Meet Me (Non Cartoon Version of Barry) In Jerusalem Israel

jwp.gifI wrote this in my weekly recap, but just in case you missed it... I am in Israel now and I am going to a Jerusalem Web Professionals meetup this Wednesday night at 8pm. If you want to meet up with us, that would be cool. :)

I believe you need to register at either JWP and/or at Facebook. The cost is NIS 40, which is about $10 US.

The location is at PresenTense Offices, 64 Emek Refa'im. For more info, see here and I hope to see you there...

January 22, 2009

3G on iPhone in Israel Not Too Bad

I am in Israel now and I have had time to really test out my iPhone using local ISP speeds but why not post the speed results I get on my iPhone in Israel.

Here is a speed test result set from the Speed Test app for the iPhone:

3G Speed in Israel

The first 3G result set is the 3G speeds I am getting in Israel. Max 471 down and 181 up. The WiFi result, directly under that is my brother's wifi connection, which is slower than the 3G at a max of 440 (average of 138) down and 53 up. You can see, I ran it twice and the speed is more like 140 down, which is much less than the 3G network here. The next 3G result is from New York area, which is about the same as in Israel.

Speed Test

Here is a later subset of results that shows speeds much higher. In some locations in the US, the 3G network got as fast as 1120 down. But my FiOS connection is super fast showing 5764 down and 3049 up, which is slower then my previous report of 12664 down and 3149 up.

January 21, 2009

Dreaded 10+ Hour Flight Without Internet

Israel 2008The picture here is me, getting my last Internet puff before taking off, on a past flight.

Being without Internet on a flight longer than an hour drives me nuts. I am the type of guy who would pay a hundred bucks, easily, for Internet on flights over two hours. For my flight that is coming up now, it is over 10 hours to Israel and 12+ hours on the way back.

I don't think my flight offers inflight Internet, in fact - I am 99.999% confident they do not. So, minutes before take off, I will be franticly using my iPhone, getting every last minute of US internet I can get, before take off.

Then, when I land, the first thing I do, is turn on my iPhone and start downloading the hundreds of emails. I am not looking forward to that process, after a ten hour flight on a business day. But you do what you can do.

I do hope that the in seat power works to keep my devices charged fully. I do plan on watching a movie on my computer or iPhone, so we will see.

Here is to safe travels!

January 20, 2009

Got My International Data Plan for iPhone

I just signed up for the Data Global Add-Ons for Smartphones, PDAs and iPhone from AT&T for my iPhone. Yes, I was very excited to learn that this was expanded to Israel recently. Today, I ordered the most expensive option, because I need to assume I will use what I use here in the states, on a high day for my trip to Israel.

Normally, I am on WiFi networks here. But on Sunday's I notice my usage on the data network spikes. So I picked the highest usage, which is about 6MB and went based on that. I signed up today, which gives me 80MB of usage until I get back to the states. Here is a picture of my data usage bar in my account for this international plan:

AT&T International Data Plan

I will use the data plan probably 10 days, maybe less. Also, 4 of those days, I will be around wifi networks, most of the day. So I should have plenty of data to not go over the plan. If I do, I get hit with a fee of $.005/KB - which can get bad, quickly with the iPhone.

Now my only concern is battery life...

January 19, 2009

Booking Flights Just Like Gambling

airline ticket counterBooking flights, to me, has always been like gambling. I watch the ticket prices for my search criteria for a few weeks, I use tools like Farecast to help, but ultimately, when I hit that "buy now" button, I feel like it is a gamble.

I often try not to look at the price of the flight after booking it. But Saturday night, I decided to take a sneak peak at the current price for my trip to Israel. I was shocked to learn that I paid almost twice as much.

Flights from New York to Israel typically run over $1,000 - typically $1,200 or so. When I looked Saturday night, the price was around $650 before taxes. I was shocked.

After I got over the initial feeling of being cheated, cause I know this is how airline prices work. I decided to then call and see what can be done. They offered that I can do a ticket change, for $250 per ticket, and then get a voucher back for flying next time, for the difference. So in short, I did it, and it cost me about $500 (two tickets) to get some money back.

At the end, I will come out $350 or so ahead. But I still feel cheated - although I know I should not feel this way. You rarely ever see tickets to Israel from New York this cheap. So if you want to fly this week, check out Continental Airlines.

Going to Israel For Quasi-Vacation/Work

vacationThis week, I go to Israel for about a week or so. So you might see less activity on this blog for the next week.

It is about a year since I was in Israel, that was for my Nephew's Bar Mitzvah and for SphinnCon Israel, amongst other things.

This time, I hope to do some planning for an SMX Israel event later on this year. I also hope to meet a few clients, SEO companies (not many) and visit the Google Tel Aviv office, if time allows. I do plan on spending at least two shabboses in Beitar with my older brother, sister-in-law and nieces. Last years trip was very nice, we did a lot and it worked out very well.

I am not a big vacationer. I always plan time to work, a couple hours in the morning and a couple hours at night. Last year, I remember stressing throughout the day in order to be able to find an open wifi network via my iPhone, to see if I am missing anything at work. My obsession gets better throughout vacation, I think. The issue is, and I am sure most of you can relate, is the constant feeling of having to dig out of the hole from going on vacation. So every day, the hole gets bigger. You dig as much as you can in the morning and at night, but then the hole gets bigger. Then you get back to your office and you have to dig out more.

Last year, I closed down the data services on my iPhone so I would not get hit with a huge bill. But this year, I am able to sign up for an international data plan for my iPhone. My only concern is that I will go over the max usage (it is not unlimited). My other concern is battery life, so we will see. It was somewhat of an issue in Boston this year, but I survived.

In any event, this year, like last year, I plan on having a work schedule. It includes:

  • Client meetings
  • SMX prepping
  • RustyBrick billing and invoicing
  • RustyBrick emails
  • Daily RSS search news checking (so SELand can continue on)
  • Daily search forum research
  • Daily blogging at SERoundtable

When I come back, that day, which is a Sunday, I will have to spend most the day in the office. I think that day is payroll and invoicing clients day - so it is a jammed packed work day, outside of just catching up and digging out.

In summary, I am looking forward to the Israel trip but not looking forward to the big dig, on a daily basis. I guess it can be worse, I can be totally offline and have to dig out without knowing what to dig out of. I am use to being offline completely during work weeks, and I have some of those days coming up.

I don't think I am any different then most of you who read this blog. So I guess you can share in the anxiety.

December 2, 2008

Watch Me in Vegas

Mike McDonald and crew did a very short video with me in Vegas.

In short, I talk about the guy who blends things. :)

November 20, 2008

Before Conferences & After Conferences : Before & After Shots

So, how do I look before and after a full day of live blogging?

Andy Beal candidly snapped a picture of myself with Steve Boymel before the kick off of a morning keynote at PubCon. See how I look lucid, somewhat energetic. I am multi-tasking, talking on the phone, pretending to listen to someone, while likely scanning RSS feeds or replying to an email?

Barry Schwartz & Steve Boymel

Notice the guy taking a picture of Andy, while he takes a picture of us.

The next picture is from Marty Weintraub, it was taken either before or after the last session of the day. Look at how I am trying to look awake and lucid - but I am not.

Barry Schwartz

So that is how I look like before and after live blogging, if you have never seen me do that.

How about speaking? Lee Odden captured me on one of the panels (not sure how he did it when he was on this panel with me, cloaker!). Here it is:

Barry Schwartz

Yes, it is true, my eyes turn white when I speak. Not sure why, no doctor has figured it out yet.

November 12, 2008

Will He Blend Something Now? Blendtec Keynote

Sitting at the PubCon keynote with George Wright of Blendtec, the Will it Blend guy.

Keynote Address by George Wright of Blendtec -- Will It Blend

My question is... Will he actually blend something here, live - instead of showing us videos of him blending stuff.

November 11, 2008

Charging Stations at Airports

I always wondered why there weren't more plugs and outlets by airport terminals? I guess it was to leave room for sponsors to pick that up. Yesterday, I was at Newark, terminal C112, and I saw one of these Samsung Charing Stations:

Charging Station

It seems to have been installed at Newark in late August:

Samsung Telecommunications America (Samsung Mobile) today announced the installation of 50 charging stations at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). The charging stations have been installed throughout Terminals A, B and C.

I think it is a great branding move. You see banner ads all over airports, but for people with dead cell phones, this is a memorable piece, at least for now.

These charging stations are at other airports also including 54 stations at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), 51 stations at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), 12 stations at LaGuardia Airport (LGA), 18 stations at Orlando International Airport (MCO) and 22 stations at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), along with eight Samsung Mobile Travel Centers at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and others.

November 10, 2008

Off to Vegas, PubCon - Say Hi

barry schwartzI am off to Vegas later today, to the PubCon conference. If you see me, say hi! Don't worry if I look busy, I talk fast. ;-)

I will be on a panel, named Five Bloggers and a Microphone - What's The Worst That Can Happen?

It takes place Wednesday, November 12th between 4:10 - 5:30pm (PST). So, you know where to find me.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

October 20, 2008

I've Been Adjudicated for my Parking Ticket

adjudicatedRemember that parking ticket I got? The one where I was not in that location at that time?

You thought I was lying, didn't you!? Well, I wasn't!

I received a letter from the Adjudication Division of New York City saying they were wrong and I was right. Well, they didn't say they were wrong, they said that I do not owe any money to them for that ticket.

This letter is written in response to your correspondence regarding the parking summons (or summonses) listed below.

Any summons listed below has been satisfied. Our records reflect that you owe nothing with respect to them. In the even that you have other parking tickets, which are not listed below, you may still be liable for them.

Please keep this letter for your records. If you receive any payment demands within the next 30 days for the summon(es) listed below, you may disregard such notices.

Very truly yours,

The New York City Department of Finance
Adjudication Division

Then they listed the summons number and that I owe nothing.

For some reason, I don't think this is the end I hear about this ticket.

October 7, 2008

Busy at SMX

Sorry for lack of bloggin here. Been busy at:

SMX Cupcakes - Search Marketing Expo

October 3, 2008

NYC Parking Ticket : I Wasn't In NYC!

Monday, I received a warm letter from the New York City Department of Finance. The letter said I was late in paying a parking ticket that I received on August 7th.

I scratched my head... I don't remember getting a parking ticket in the past year or so. So I then opened my calendar to see if I had any meetings in NYC. I did not. I then checked my email for the same thing and I did not have any meetings in NYC that day. I then asked my wife, but she never drives to the city herself.

The location as 73rd 1st Avenue. I pulled up Google Maps Street Views to see if it might remind me of anything:


View Larger Map

Nope, I don't think I ever parked that far down on the east side.

So I decided to call NYC yesterday. They said, I need to write them a letter telling them that I was not there. They also informed me that I can download the ticket over here, so I did that.

The plate number the cop wrote down was illegible. The second letter looks like a B, S or and R. The car the cop wrote was for a blue jeep, I do not own a blue jeep.

So I wrote them a letter, mailed in my car registrations and told them I was not there.

I heard some horror stories about people getting these claims and it leading to NY suspending their licenses. Hope that doesn't happen to me.

September 22, 2008

8 Hours Back & Forth To Baltimore

Sunday, I spent most of the day, 8-hours to be exact, driving back and forth to Baltimore, Maryland. It took about 3.5 hours each way. We stopped once, each way, for a bathroom break and I got gas (cause it was cheap in NJ). I am stubborn, so I did not use the bathrooms and any break. Not cause they may be unclean, but because I do not like to stop for breaks - I like to go direct. I dislike stop overs. Why did I stop? Well, I had passengers.

Here is the trip overview (not exact addresses):


View Larger Map

We did drive over the Delaware Memorial Bridge, which I found to be nice:


View Larger Map

There was this crazy truck driver swiveling back and forth into lanes, on the way home. It was kind of crazy. Looked like he was driving a race car with a load on the back, the load was waving back and forth, trying to catch up with the car. :) Guess what... I did not see a "How am I driving" sticker on the truck. :)


View Larger Map

Not, that is not the truck. :)

Why so many embedded Google Maps Street Views? Cause I am obsessed with Tamar's finding on night vs day Google street views. Move one block over and it gets dark!

Oh, why did I drive to Baltimore? For a friends wedding.

September 11, 2008

School Buses Are Out, Clogging The Roads

This week, in the mornings, I have been swarmed by school buses. I was able to take this picture while stopped at a light, of a school bus in front of me and also behind me (look in the rear view mirror):

School Buses

They just slow me down and it is upsetting. But I guess education is important. :)

I don't have the school bus issue on the way home. But in the mornings I do. In the past, I did not have this issue either. I use to get into the office at 6:30 am or so. But now, I am not getting in, until 7:00 am, which means, I hit the school bus traffic.

Since we are on the topic of my schedule. It turns out that I am not waking up later. Instead, I get up earlier, work in bed for about an hour before I leave the house at 6:20ish to go to morning prayer services. I then leave from there to work. The schedule is working out nicely, so far.

Oh, the red dot under my rear view mirror, is my red bull. I'll blog about that bull later, but it has no relation to the Red Bull car I saw a while back.

August 29, 2008

Kosher Places to Eat in Boston

Rami's in BostonSo now that you know what activities we did in Boston, I wanted to share the places we ate. Boston was selected as the destination not only cause it is a fun place and it is not too far, but also because they have kosher places to eat.

The majority of kosher places in Boston is about a 5 to 10 minute drive from Boston Commons, in Brookline. I had my car, so driving there was a breeze. In fact, driving anywhere in Boston took no time (everything feels like it is within 10 minutes, where as in NY everything is an hour).

Before we went to the hotel, we stopped off at Rami's Felafel, which is on Harvard St, like the rest of the places but a little further up. It was really good food. I got a burger in a pita bread, it was tasty. My wife got a shawarma and she loved it. The best thing about the place is that the people working their took pride in their food. So, I recommend it, if your nearby.

That night, we decided to try out Taam China. I called before hand and they said they had no room. But we decided to see anyway. They had room, and they sat us down and we ate. Maybe I am spoiled living in New York, but the food was not all that great. Again, maybe I am just use to better chinese food or maybe it was a bad night there. We did have the chocolate cake, which was really good - I think because the other food wasn't all that good.

After that, we went to Kupel's Bakery, which is a block over, to get food for breakfast. The people in the bakery were very very nice. The food was good also.

The next day, we ate at the kosher pizza store named Cafe Eilat. The pizza was okay, the people were also nice. It was a pizza store, and I would recommend it. I think the pizza store was diagonal to Kupel's, if you need assistance in finding it.

That night we went to the deli, named Rubin's Kosher Deli, it is suppose to be a New York Deli and it kind of looked like an old fashion NY deli. The food was pretty good, I got a chicken thing that night. The only issue was that it was packed. But the food and service was not bad. We actually decided to go back there for breakfast the following day, before leaving, because they had a breakfast menu. It was pretty empty when we got there, but the breakfast food was also very good. We packed up deli sandwiches on ice for the ride home and those were also good.

So that was our Boston Kosher dining experience. Hopefully this will help someone looking for places to eat while in Boston.

Duck Boat Tours, Boston Commons, USS Constitution & More

So what else did we do on our trip to Boston? Well, I told you about the big CITGO sign, going to Cheers and walking up Bunker Hill Monument, but we did have time to do a few more things in our two day trip.

We jumped on Frog Pond Lily, to check out the Duck Boat Tours. The tour guides are interesting in a weird way. The guy we had, wore a rubber ducky around his waist, and had elmo arm floaters. There were others who were dressed a lot weirder, but they were all enjoyable to listen to. And yea, they made us quake.

Duck Boat Tours "Frog Pond Lily"

Speaking of ducks, we stayed right by Boston Commons and here is a duck from the park:

Boston Common Park

We also ventured to the USS Constitution, which was closed on Monday, but we were able to go into the museum there and play with the canons:

USS Constitution on a Monday (closed)

I don't have pictures of the science museum, but we did go there. We saw an IMAX showing of Sea Monsters, I love IMAX. :)

I think is all or most of what we did in Boston. We do actually plan on coming back for these short, two day (Sunday/Monday) vacations. We would like to do some whale watching (I hear they are interesting to look at) and check out Sam Adams (we go way back) and a few more things we did not have time to do this trip.

August 27, 2008

I Went to Cheers & They Knew My Name

The hotel we stayed at was just two-minutes from the famous Cheers bar. Yea, the one from the popular TV show that was on the air for 11 seasons. So, the first day we arrived, we decided to check the original Cheers Beacon Hill out.

Here is me at the stairs down to Cheers:

Barry at Cheers

When we walked in, it looked nothing like the real cheers. But it was a bar, outfitted with tons of promotional stuff for the TV show. Three floors of bars and t-shirts, mugs, hats, etc.

I personally hate buying stuff at these places, cause I know I can buy the same thing, online, for half the price. But we bought things anyway. Hence, they knew my name from my credit card...

Most Surprising Part of My Boston Trip? No Speeding Ticket

Speeding TicketThe most surprising part of the trip, which is over 200 miles one way, probably a total of 500 miles driven the whole trip, was that I did not get one ticket.

I did not get a speeding ticket, I did not get a parking ticket, I did not get a ticket for J-walking.

Before leaving, I warned my wife, that I would be lucky if I did not get at least one speeding ticket. The roads were wide open, mostly straight, conducive to going very fast, without noticing.

I did see several cars pulled over by police cars. I was, fortunately, not one of them. I did use a radar detector the whole way there and back, so that might have helped. I wasn't going 100mph, but I was not always going the exact speed limit.

I was lucky.

I Walked Up ~300 Stairs in Bunker Hill Monument

Barry At Top of Bunker HillI am back from vacation and there are a few things I would like to share with you about that vacation. Let me start with one of the trips we took that I will really never forget.

My wife and I went to check out the USS Constitution. It was closed Monday, so we scoped out the museum there and stuff. After that, we decided to take the five minute walk up to the Bunker Hill Monument. When we got there, we walked inside to see a sign that says, "warning..." something about 294 stairs to the top. My wife and I looked at each other and said, sure, why not.

We start the climb, up these narrow steps... First 50 stairs down, then 100, then 150, then 200. It is at 200, where we both started feeling it. By 250, I felt like I was going to explode, I was breathing extremely heavy, legs were a bit wobbly, my head was hurting and I was dripping sweat. We keep going, because the people we passed at about 150, were starting to catch up to us and these stairs are incredibly narrow. Plus, we were about 10 years younger then they were...

We finally made it to the top, to not really see much but a nice view. I was hoping for a vending machine or oxygen tank, but got only the view. The breeze was good, and it cooled us off. We took several minutes to catch our breath. Notice, the picture above, that is me, at the top, a few minutes after catching my breath.

Then we decided to go back down. I went first, because it is a bit scary going down. I was literally dripping sweat on the way down. I looked like a basketball player at the foul line, at the end of a long grueling game. Im surprised my wife didn't slip from it.

Our legs, the whole way down, were shaking. Once we got to the bottom, which felt a lot longer then going up, it was a relief. But walking around the rest of the day, was incredibly weird. It felt that my legs would give way at any moment. Just from walking, and especially walking down any stairs on that day.

In any event, this is proof I climbed Bunker Hill and I survived.

August 18, 2008

No, I am Not at SES San Jose

I have been getting a lot of emails, asking if I am at SES San Jose. I am not there.

I am sitting this one out.

No specific reason, just need to take a break.

I will see you at SMX East and PubCon Vegas and maybe SES Chicago.

August 12, 2008

Things To Do In Boston?

BostonI might be going to Boston in the near future, depending on a few things.

In any event, if I am able to get away... I want to take my wife to Boston, for a quick vacation.

Here is what I know about:

If you know Boston, what would you recommend?

July 24, 2008

Booked Flight For PubCon, SES San Jose Mistake

Barry Blogging PubCon Vegas 2007Last night I booked the flight to PubCon in Vegas. Yes, way early, but the price via EWR to LAS on Continental wasn't bad - so I jumped at it. I made the mistake of not booking early enough for SES San Jose, and unfortunately, Tamar and I won't be going to that. So I was eager to get my flight booked for PubCon in November.

I am sure I will regret not going to SES San Jose... Just like when I bailed on PubCon last year, I totally regretted it. The last time I live blogged a PubCon was almost two-years ago. That PubCon was a lot of fun, since Yahoo invited me to Hugh Hefner's Vegas Suit in Palms Hotel and it was very all laid back.

So, in short, bailing on SES San Jose. Hitting SMX East and PubCon Vegas.

Not forget, SMX East is in October (right near Yom Kippur), good thing I am in NY.

July 1, 2008

Running Over Ducks in a Row

Ducks in a RowThis morning, on the way to work, there was a flock of ducks in the middle of one of the side roads I drive on. There must have been 20 or so of these ducks.

As I drove up, some got a bit startled, but when they noticed that I slowed down, they decided to proceed. They weren't all crossing the road, they were traveling westward on the street. So after a few seconds, I decided to honk my horn.

That worked. It took several honks, but it got them off the street.

I don't think I have ever seen so many ducks, period. Them being on the street is also not all that normal.

If I was some type of crazy nut, maybe I would have run them over. Reminded me of a movie I saw on a serial killer. Then I got sad when I thought about that.

June 6, 2008

Note To Self: Stick With Red Eye Flights

red eyeI have complained time and time again in my travel section about taking red eye flights. I have always vowed to avoid them. Well, for the first time in a west coast to east coast flight, I took a mid-day flight out of the west to go east.

I conned myself into believing that since my flight was leaving at 11:30ish PST, that it was already late afternoon in New York and I wouldn't be swamped with emails after the 5 hour flight. Oh boy was I wrong. I landed in Newark and the first thing I did was download email on my iPhone. I was hit with hundreds of emails! I don't get hundreds of real emails over night.

So, from now on, I am going to be taking the red eyes. At least until they get Internet access on these planes. If they had internet access, I would be able to fly 24/6, I won't care when, as long as it is not on a Saturday.

Why does it bother me so much to have hundreds of emails that I need to review, respond to and file away? As some of you know, I have email OCD and it really really impacts me.

My First Experience Down The Blue Carpet

blue carpetI'm actually sitting on the plane thinking up a totally worthless blog post that I can write on my iPhone. The time in Seattle is 4:05 as I begin this post.

I figured I would discuss my trip down the continental blue carpet. Before doing so, I want to tell you that I wanted to create this whole stupid skit that I thought would be 'stupid funny' to do well on YouTube.

The idea was for me to video myself as I experience the blue carpet. Start off by approaching the carpet carefully. Being very careful as I step on the carpet for the first time, as one would do when going in to a cold pool of water. Then I would learn to trust the carpet more as the carpet trusted me more. Yea, the girly music would start playing in the background.

Then to be really funny, I might begin to lay down on the carpet as if it was a bed, ie totally trusting the blue carpet.

Now if this story board was placed on storybids.com, would continental airlines buy into it?

That was my plan but by the time I ended up at the blue carpet, the carpet was in use. So my plan failed.

This post is now done. It is now 4:13 and I typed it all on my iPhone. Not bad. (added after, the point was to see how fast I can type a blog entry on my phone).

June 4, 2008

I'm Elite! Earned Elite Status on Continental

I am finally there. I am elite! I have elite status on Continental Airlines. This year, I promised I would stick with one airline in order to gain enough miles to give me some type of perk. My flight to Seattle a couple days ago earned me the 326 + miles I needed to obtain the 25,000+ miles to gain the silver Elite status.

What does Elite Status look like. Here is a screen shot of my account at continental.com:

Elite Status on Continental

It also changes at least one thing on some other pages. I now see I am automatically added to the upgrade list. I know I won't see those upgrades, because they go to platinum and then gold members before silver ones, like me. But at least it is there:

Elite Status on Continental

My complimentary upgrade feature is automatically on.

Why am I writing all of this? Because I wanted this type of information when I was researching it and no one blogged it. So maybe this will help someone in the future looking for this information.

In any event, tomorrow I get to board the plane on the blue carpet. I think my life is now complete.

June 3, 2008

Part of My Mobile Arsenal

I've talked about my mobile gear in the past. Last night, I took some of my mobile stuff out and put it in the bathroom. I then thought, this makes for a blog post. So here it is:

Mobile Brush & Stuff

Meet my mobile hair brush, mobile tooth brush, mobile tooth paste and mobile scope. I have other mobile items, but they didn't make it into this photo.

The mobile hair brush is a bit hard to use. It really doesn't do a good job brushing my hair. But it is mobile and I really don't care if my hair doesn't look pretty.

June 2, 2008

Curbside Check In - Worth It?

Jesse Jackson @ LGAThe only time I check bags is when I am wife my wife. Every other time I go to the airport, it is wife a carry on.

Sometimes we use what is called the curbside check in. Basically, you pay an extra fee to check your bags and get your tickets outside of the airport, on the curb.

What I find funny is that often the curbside check in lines are longer then the lines inside. Imagine this:

CURB IS OVER HERE
------------------\\//--
WALL HERE----ENTER--
------------------\\//--
NORMAL CHECK IN HERE

So, basically, if you understand my ASCII illustration, you will notice that many checkin counters are on the other side of the wall, like two more feet in, passed the curbside checkin area.

Not only do you not have to wait on a line outside, you can also checkin without paying an extra fee.

Am I missing something? What is the benefits of the curbside check in, in today's day and age?

Oh, the picture above is when I was checking in at the curb and I saw Jesse Jackson at LGA about two years ago.

May 27, 2008

Driving Through Buckets Of Rain

driving in rainThis afternoon I had to drive up-state a bit, up to Newburgh, NY for a meeting. I actually met with a company that makes things out of steel. Yea, it was an interesting place. That is for another blog entry.

On my way home, the sky opened up and it felt like someone threw a pool of water on top of my car, pretty much for the last 15 miles of my trip. You know that feeling, it is basically impossible to see the car in front of you - all you see is water and more water...

Of course, all the cars slowed down. I noticed many cars pulled over to the side of the highway. But everyone else pretty much had their hazards on, so you can see them and kept going at a steady 30MPH.

I can't remember the last time I drove in rain like that. It was literally impossible to see in front of you at times. I actually drove by looking at the yellow line on my left, to make sure I was in my lane. And then when I saw some sort of thing flashing in front of me (the car in front of me had his hazards on), I slowed down to not hit that car.

The rain stopped now, but it was bad. Glad I typically have a 10 minute commute to work. :)

April 11, 2008

Video Blogging From Car: I'm Bored?

Okay, I feel like I am wasting time. At least I got my laptop. But there is only so much you can do in a car. Anyway... I did a small video in iMovie while in the car. But I really would love to work on the video recap for the week now, but I just don't want to freak out my driver... Here is my quick video:

Hollywood, here I come!

Blogging in Car on Way Back from Jim

That was quick! I arrived at 10:30ish, presented at 11ish, finished at 12ish and left at 12:15ish. Now, in the car, I caught up on feeds. Wrote a YSM story at SEL and reviewed Tamar's posts at SER.

Replied to some more emails, reviews SER's tax day theme (it rocks) and IMing with a few people. So I decided to then take some pictures of myself blogging in the car...

Black & White:
Blogging in Car

Color:
Blogging in Car

Regarding Jim's thing... I can't speak much about it. I honestly came in, did my presentation and left. I have no idea if my presentation was good or not. The questions were good. My slides rocked cause of Apple Keynote. The content, well, I have no idea. :)

Blogging In Transport To Jim's Link Ninja Seminar

I am sitting in the back of this car, typing away on my computer, writing this blog post, as I am being driven from Suffern, NY - two hours to Troy, NY to speak at Link Ninja's thing for Jim.

My battery has a little over two hours left, so by the time I get there, I should be all dead. I do have a spare, fully charged for the two hour trip back. I also plan on presenting on this machine, using Keynote. So it will be charging during my one hour presentation.

I need to talk for one hour? No idea if my presentation is even that long. I have almost a 100 slides on Universal Search and how to take advantage of it. But I talk fast. Anyway, it should be fun. A lot of other SEMs that I am friendly with will be there.

I love being able to work while commuting, this is the only way to travel!

April 7, 2008

Europe To Allow Mobile Airplane Use

mobile in airI can't wait for the day where you can use your mobile device on an airplane, with the airplane's door closed.

In fact, I would be totally cool with airlines banning the use of the phones on the plane, as long as we can use our data connections. :)

The amount of time I waste on a plane, stinks. So it is cool to see Europe clears mobiles on aircraft:

Mobile phone calls will be allowed on planes flying in European airspace under new European Commission rules.

The decision means that mobiles could be used once a plane has reached an altitude of 3,000m or more.

The graphic above shows how the transmission would be bounced off a satellite, down to a local cell tower. The 3G network won't work yet, but it may follow soon.

March 25, 2008

Goodbye Airlines Bill of Rights

Via the AP, Appeals Court Rejects Airline Law.

The New York law set out to protect airline passengers was thrown out today by a federal appeals court. The law requires airlines to provide food, water, clean toilets and fresh air to passengers in a plane delayed on the ground for more than three hours.

Why was it rejected? Simply because it was conflicting with a federal law governing the price, route or service of an air carrier.

The court did like the law but said that it had to be done at the federal level, not the state level. The court said:

If New York's view regarding the scope of its regulatory authority carried the day, another state could be free to enact a law prohibiting the service of soda on flights departing from its airports, while another could require allergen-free food options on its outbound flights, unraveling the centralized federal framework for air travel.

I still think each airline has their own terms of service. Many airlines have their own "bill of rights." Here is Contiental's as a PDF document.

March 21, 2008

326 Miles Away to the Blue Carpet

blue carpetI just checked my year-to-date miles and I noticed I am 326 miles away from warning elite status with Continental Airlines. I have been devoted to flying only Continental this year, to ensure I gain some status with them - as opposed to just flying the cheapest airline and spreading out my miles.

The main advantage, for me at least, with elite status is being able to secure an overhead compartment before they are all gone. Typically, when they board elite status members, about half the plane qualifies. So by the time I get on the flight, there are often not enough spaces above my seat for my bag. Sometimes I can move things around to get my bag up there but...

(1) I hate doing that, it makes me feel sneaky
(2) If there is no room, they got to put it under

I typically only fly with just a carry on, so when I time things, I plan on not waiting for baggage.

Anyway, next flight, I am pretty much guaranteed elite status. So now I can be like the other half of the passengers, at least from my next flight throughout 2009.

March 20, 2008

I'm Lucky Not Having To Commute

trafficAs many of you know, this week is the SES NY conference. Since it is fairly local, I drive in each day.

What do I get out of driving in? A deep appreciation for not having a commute each day and every day. Hundreds and hundreds of people from my town drive, train or bus in to NYC each day. It kills three or more hours a day for them. Yesterday it took me almost 2 hours to get into the city. On the way home, I had to play games and take riverside drive, as opposed to the west side highway, to make it to the GW Bridge, only to hit major slow downs on the Palisades.

Typically, getting to the bridge is fine - but once you get into NYC, it can take 30 minutes to go one block.

Anyway, I am fortunate to own a business and live within ten minutes from the office. Does it mean I wake up any later? Nah, still up and out by 6am but if I didn't work as close, maybe it would be 5am?

I am off to the last day of SES shortly, hope the traffic isn't horrible - it should be late enough now to not be too bad.

March 14, 2008

Why I Am Not Looking Forward to SES NY

SES NYI admit it, I am seriously not looking forward to SES NY. Why? Cause I hate SEW, SES, Incisive Media! There I said it. Nah, I am just kidding. I have no hate towards them - they are a nice group of people, especially those working at SEW and trying to replace Danny and my role (you devils!). Nah, seriously, I am kidding - we love each other, just ask Kevin, Kevin and Kevin.

Why am I really not looking forward to it?

(1) No sleep
(2) The commute stinks (easily 2 hours of angry traffic each way)
(3) Covering sessions that I heard 30 times before is painful
(4) Not being at work is stressful
(5) Being mean when people ask to go out for dinner and saying you can't cause you need to get up at 5 to get to work done before the conference starts, is upsetting.
(6) Walking and driving in the city is uncomfortable, to say the least

Honestly, I feel this way even about going to other conferences - minus the commute. At least I can easily find kosher food at the NY conferences.

March 13, 2008

Yahoo Search Shwag: Yahoo Laptop Sleeve

Here is a picture of the schwag Yahoo gave us:

Yahoo Search Schwag: Laptop Sleeve & Notepad

Yea, a laptop sleeve and a Yahoo notepad with a pen. The sleeve has the Apple power button on it. Expecting more?

Yahoo Search Marketing totally rocked them, but I guess budgets are now getting tighter at Yahoo. :)

Still was nice to go and see things and meet people.

Back in New York: Sick of Flight Posts?

If I am sick of writing about my flights to and from places, then you must be sick of listening to them. But I do like documenting this stuff, so I am going to write it anyway, but not give it a picture.

My flight was delayed about three hours last night. So last night, when I arrived at SJC (San Jose Airport), I was informed Continental can put me on a shuttle to SFO (San Francisco Airport) and book me on a flight that was 30 minutes later then my original flight but on time. So with a bit of hesitation I took that option.

Why the hesitation? I wanted to work and that meant I had to get to SFO (45 - 1 hour away), and some of that time would be wasted. In any event, it worked out well.

I got to the gate and noticed a bunch of girls with Australia shirts and jackets. It turned out they were cheerleaders. I was pretty far from where they were, so I couldn't get a good look - but their accents were pretty cool.

I found a fellow iPhoner who was hogging all the power outlets, he gave one up so I can work. I was about to go to the lounge but I rather sit in one spot then move around - so it worked out. I then scheduled some posts for SER, did SEL research, did email and so on.

We board and I learn that the aussi cheerleaders are sitting not too far from me on the plane. Pros and Cons:

Pros: No Comment
Cons: Will they do cheers on the flight and be all yappy on the flight?

In any event, as I got closer I saw that they were basically kids - probably high school. And they were not so yappy on the flight, so it worked out okay. The one thing was when we were landing, I think one of the girls was having a nervous break down and crying... Her friend kept saying, you need to breath. Despite her nervous break down, we did manage to land safely and I jetted to my car.

I got to the office about as scheduled, at 7:45am.

I did get some ZZZs on the plane.

Seems like a slow news day, minus the AOL news. Gives me time to catch up on RB.

March 12, 2008

Hotel Valencia Santana Row & The $100 Basket of Junk Food

Right now I am sitting in the Hotel Valencia Santana Row waiting for the west coast to catch up to the east coast. The hotel is very nice and comfortable, not a huge hotel - which is really actually nice.

In any event, there is this basket of junk food on my right. I drank the $4 bottle of water, but the rest I did not touch. If you add up all the food in that basket, I bet it comes out to just about a $100 (yea, a snickers is $3, the cheapest thing in the basket). Here is a picture:

Hotel Valencia Santana Row

Yes, typical of all hotels - but today I had time to blog about it.

I actually got two free diet cokes, valued at $4.08 each, this morning. I was thirsty and ran out of water. So I went to the restaurant downstairs and asked for diet coke, two of them. She said, its $4.08 each, I said, fine. She came back with two cups of diet coke and said, "this time, its free." I said, "thank you so much." Ha, I showed them. :)

Well, they did get me for the $4 water and the $20 parking fee. Got to love hotels.

But I do highly like this place, for some more pictures of my room, see Flickr.

I Lied. I Slept. Caught Early Flight

PlaneYesterday, I said thought I would be getting little sleep but that turned out to be a lie.

I got to the airport at 3:15. On the way to the airport I checked for other flights leaving the airport via the same airline to the same destination. I saw a 3:45pm flight out and then mine. When I got inside the terminal and past security, it was probably about 3:35 or so. I checked the departing flights sign and found the 3:45pm flight's gate. I ran over there and asked the lady if I can get on the earlier flight. She said, "if you are willing to take a middle seat." I said, of course. So I got on and we took off.

So I landed at 7ish (10ish EST), finally got the rental car at 7:45ish (10:45ish EST) and got to the hotel at 8:30 (11:30 EST). Checked in, did email, feeds, work, etc. Then showered and prepped for bed. Got into bed maybe at 9:30 (12:30 EST), looked at the room for an hour or so and fell asleep at maybe 10:30 (1:30 EST).

I kept on waking up, like every hour. Not sure why, I normally sleep well in hotels. By 4am (7 EST) I couldn't take it anymore and I just got up. Did morning routine and blogged away.

Now it is 7:30 (10:30 EST) and I got 1.5 hours to spare before heading to Yahoo.

At least I know there are no earlier flights tonight and I have a feeling I won't sleep much tonight on the red eye back.

March 11, 2008

Not Sleeping For Three Days Worth Obtaining Elite Status?

Sleep PlaneAs you know, I am going to Yahoo Search but I think I might be nuts for how I plan on doing it. Here is my schedule, if everything goes according to plan:

  • Got up at 5:30am (EST) today and in office at 6:10am
  • Leave office about 2ish to go to airport
  • Get through security and on Internet at about 4ish
  • Try to do blog research for tomorrow while waiting to board
  • Take off at about 6pm
  • Land in SFO at 9:30pm (12:30 midnight EST)
  • Pick up rental car at SFO at 10pm (1am EST)
  • Arrive with rental car at hotel 11pm (2am EST)
  • Check email at hotel and prep for sleep by 11:30pm (2:30am EST)
  • Set alarm clock to wake at 3:30am (6:30 EST)
  • Work on RB, SER, SEL and so on until 9:30am (12:30 EST)
  • Go to Yahoo
  • Censored
  • Leave Yahoo at about 7pm (10pm EST)
  • Arrive at SJC (closer airport) at 7:30pm (10:30 EST)
  • Get to gate by 8:30pm (11:30 EST)
  • Try to do blog research for tomorrow while waiting to board
  • Take off sometime after 9pm (12 midnight EST)
  • Land in NY at 6am ish EST (if on time)
  • Get out of airport by 6:30am
  • Get to office at 7:30am

Now, if I can sleep on the flight from SJC to NY, then I will be okay. Chances are, I won't be able to sleep. So I figure I will be sleeping about four hours between 5am this morning and 11pm Thursday night.

I did something like this once before, when I went to SES Sweden in 2004.

But when all is said and done, I should have reached my "Elite Status" with Continental airlines - making it all worth while.

Yahoo Search Meeting Tomorrow

Yahoo Search LogoI have a meeting with a crew of people (who exactly, I am not sure) at Yahoo Search tomorrow. It is some sort of "advisory meeting" and I am delighted I was able to make it this time and even more delighted to have been invited to join.

I am not sure if I can blog about me even going, since I really can't blog about what we talk about - but I am blogging that I am attending the meeting. Under NDA, like all of these things, I will only be able to blog about things in that meeting that I have permission to write about. So until then, I won't be saying much more.

I have been at Yahoo advisory meetings in the past. The first formal one was when they launched Panama, the new Yahoo Search Marketing platform in October 2006. At that meeting, Yahoo Search Marketing hooked me up with some excellent Yahoo schwag. I wonder what type, if any, schwag they will have at this even.

March 5, 2008

Talk About a Bad Landing

This plane never even made it down. Watch the plane try to land but it is being blown around too much to touch down. It manages to climb right after it tries touching down. Reportedly it landed at a different airport later.

German airline Lufthansa has said its pilots had averted a crash at Hamburg airport after winds of more than 150 mph caused a plane with 130 passengers on board, to veer dangerously on landing.

"Just before landing, the plane was hit by a very strong gust of wind that led to the left wing touching the ground very briefly," said Juergen Raps, Lufthansa executive vice president of operations.

The left wing grazed the runway for a moment, but the pilot was able to stabilise the aircraft and take off again in what a spokesman called an " absolutely professional manoeuvre."

More news on this at Google News.

March 3, 2008

SMX West 2008 Highlight Video

I created a YouTube video with iMovie using pictures from SMX West provided by Li Evans, Matt McGee, SEOmoz and Jim Hedger. Here is the video. I am getting better and making them...

Thank you guys!

Update: This is now working again.

If there are any mistakes, please let me know below and I will do a big update of the video. If you want more pictures added, please send me the Flickr URL below and I will try to add them. I know I did not cover everything...

February 29, 2008

Sleeping On The Plane (Red Eye)

I think I got an hour or maybe even two on the flight back from San Jose to New York last night. Yes, I am writing this while on the plane. I rarely sleep on planes but I am extremely happy with the hour or so.

So my plan for today:

- Land safely at 5:50am
- Get to my car (I hope it is there in one piece) at 6:20am
- 45 minute drive home (need to stay awake while driving)
- Say hi to wife at 7am
- Pray 7:15am
- Emails
- Get to office by 8am
- Work forum threads and blog at SER as quickly as possible
- RSSes and stuff for SEL and blog
- Catch up on RB work
- Etc. Etc.
- Leave work at about 4 or 5
- Get Ready for Shabbos
- Go to synagogue
- Come home and eat
- Go to sleep by 8:30pm
- Wake up at 8:30am

Right now it is 5:10am (EST), I hope we start our way downwards soon...

Live now

Before posting this... I landed on time, and actually got to the office at 7:30am, so ahead of schedule.

February 28, 2008

I Met Virtual Anna, The Virtual Concierge at the Hyatt

Virtual AnnaJeffrey Rohrs are I have a thing about meeting up in transit between the hotel and convention center. Last night, before the Google Grove we met up and he told me he wanted to have a chat with the Virtual Concierge at the Hyatt. I was like, "what?"

We walk up to a desk and this woman named Anna is looking at us through a wide plasma screen. Jeffrey says hello and she responds, we hear her through the speakers on the desk. We then begin asking her questions. I can't remember the order of the questions but they are assorted from:

  • Are you real? Yes, she is.
  • Where are you based? Just 80 miles away.
  • How did you come up with the idea? She hated the commute and she convinced her bosses that this is a good idea
  • When did she start doing this? About 7 years ago
  • What are the most common questions she gets? The ones above
  • Do you get sick of these questions? Never
  • Are your kids ever with you on the screen? Yes
  • Did you get a lot of press? Yes see here
  • Do you use search engines as an aid? Of course, she loves them (had to ask)

In fact, she even convinced Yahoo Maps (I believe it was Yahoo) to make a change to how they handle an aspect of there mapping software. She was written up in the Guinness World Records for being the first to ever do this. She invented the idea and was the first.

She has a blog at Virtual Anna at WordPress and really enjoys technology. About 7 years ago she didn't even have a computer, and now she embraces it every day.

She printed out a sheet for me so I can contact her later but I suspect she might see this post at my personal blog. I probably will email her to ask her in detail, how she uses search engines for her job and what improvements she has seen and would like to see in the future.

Great meeting you Virtual Anna!

February 26, 2008

My View in the Santa Clara Hyatt

Got a several minutes before I need to go to the conference. Figured I take some pictures of the view I have from my room in the Santa Clara Hyatt. They gave me this corner room, all the way at the end of the hall. It has a balcony - I believe it was the first time I had one of these in a hotel room. Here are pictures:

To my left is Great America:

View from Santa Clara Hyatt

Panning right, the Hilton is across the street:

View from Santa Clara Hyatt

Citrix:

View from Santa Clara Hyatt

To the right of Citrix:

View from Santa Clara Hyatt

As I continue moving right, I believe this is Yahoo's offices (I may be wrong):

View from Santa Clara Hyatt

The convention center?

View from Santa Clara Hyatt

Below me:

View from Santa Clara Hyatt

Alright, I'll probably head down now...

The Search Conference Air Bus

planeIt seems like whenever I fly to a search conference, the same people time and time again are on the same flight with me. Jonathan Mendez, Steve, Kevin Lee but he is missing on this flight.

Yes, Jon is sitting in first class - he flies a ton for his new job, so he deserves it. The others, well - they are sitting in rows 9 and 10, right next to me. Kevin, well - typically he is on the same flight with us but not this time. Maybe he isn't going to show for this conference or maybe he now has a private jet? :)

I find it funny how the same crew is always on the same flights from New York to the hot search conference. I guess it makes sense flying from New York to San Jose but there are plenty of other flights that go direct from here. In addition, we fly together to Chicago, Vegas, Seattle and the list goes on.

I guess the odds aren't that great but still funny - or maybe it is not funny and I am just incredibly bored and would write just about anything to keep me occupied?

Time to put down the pen...

February 25, 2008

Why Is The Continental Presidents Club Always Packed?

continentalTell me this, why is the Continental Presidents Club always incredibly packed? Specifically the club in Newark airport?

They have two here, in Newark airport.

Each one is maxed out...

So the same thing happens over and over again. You get in, you walk around the room in a circle for two or three cycles until you find a seat with a plug. When you sit down, you see the same people doing laps around the club, doing the same thing you did. It feels like looking for a parking spot in NYC.

Anyway. Flight is, of course, delayed. But I am in the lounge now, blogging away.

Why I Often Skip The Conference Parties?

IMG_2674.JPGPeople ask me why I typically don't attend the after hours parties at conferences. There are a few reasons:

(1) I am a boring person. :)
(2) I'm fairly quiet and like places that aren't noisy.
(3) I am so tired at the end of the day.

Let's look at the upcoming SMX that I am leaving for tonight. I will be landing, with Tamar, at midnight EST time. By the time we get to our rooms, it will likely be well after midnight. I'll do work as soon as I get to the room and finally go to sleep maybe midnight PST time. I will then get up at 5am PST due to lag and cause I have to do work. What will I be doing? Everything I do every day, pretty much but with less help. Danny and Chris are running the conference. Tamar is exclusive to conference coverage only at conferences. But I like to do it all.

  • I'll do emails when I get up
  • I'll do forum research
  • I'll blog forum topics at SER
  • I'll do RSS and seo research
  • I'll blog at SEL
  • I'll probably then pray, shower, eat
  • More of the above and deal with RB stuff
  • With minutes to spare, Ill run down to the convention center and then do live blogging
  • While live blogging, Ill do the above items throughout the day
  • Meet with companies and friends in the industry
  • Stop off in exhibit hall to say hi to friends
  • Keep this up throughout the day
  • Go back to room to do recaps of the day's news, coverage and stuff
  • More RB work
  • Eat frozen kosher dinner meal cold
  • Quick run to a party and say hi and then leave soon after
  • Head back to hotel room for more work
  • Shower, rest and sleep
  • Back up at 5am PST repeat from top

Most people are tired during conferences but I am often too tired for the parties. So I need to apologize in advance if I can't make a party or a dinner invitation.

One thing I am not looking forward to is doing all of this on Thursday and then taking a 10pm PST flight back to NY. Getting off the plane at 5am (EST) on Friday, driving my car back to the office, and working a full day.

At least I can sleep 12 hours Friday night to catch up.

I should add... I know a lot of other people continue their day jobs and other responsibilities while on conferences. I am not the only one and some of those people even manage to party all night.

Off to SMX West

SMX WestLate this afternoon I am off to SMX West. I go via Newark, Continental direct to San Jose Airport. It is about 10 minute ride from the airport to the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara, aka the conference hotel. The hotel is right next to the Santa Clara Convention Center, where the conference will take place.

I am very excited for the event - it is the first big SMX ever. My team and volunteers will be covering the conference in great detail, see our SMX West coverage schedule and keep watching the SMX West 2008 archives for updates starting tomorrow. Keep in mind, we will be on PST time, so the updates will begin happening later in the day.

One thing I am not looking forward to is the flight back. I always say, I will never do the red eye again, but I always end up doing that. After the red eye, I go directly to work and work a full day. Maybe this time I will wise up and take some Tylenol PM.

Hope to see you all at SMX!

February 20, 2008

The Missing Bag - Israel Trip 2008

LuggageTo continue my story and probably end the blog posts on my Israel Trip, I thought I end with the story of the missing bag.

As I finish unloading my parents stuff into their house and begin loading my bags into my car to drive back home, I notice a big purple suitcase is missing. I ask my father if he took it inside. Nope, not at his house. I frantically look through the cars to make sure its not there and it is gone.

I then relax myself and think. I remember now. I carefully took the bag off the cart to first load the larger bags into the car. As I began loading the larger bags, a car pulled up and blocked my view of the big purple bag. I thought I loaded everything, but I forgot the big purple bag at the curb.

I then pull out my baggage claim tickets, isolate the bag claim number for the missing bag and call a couple numbers. No one is helpful. One person said, we don't check the curb. You have to go back and see if it is there - note, I am about one hour from the airport now and I have been traveling for like 20 hours at this point. I asked, can you patch me into the baggage claim desk at Newark Airport Terminal C. They said no. So I call the Newark Airport Police who give me the number for that area. I call but no answer, it says on the machine - Leave a message with the details and we may get back to you, we are very very busy - good luck (or something like that).

At that point, I figure my only choice is to drive back to the terminal and check if I can find the bag. My wife is sick, so I can't have her come back with me. Yes, I wanted a second person to wait by the car just in case I have to go into the terminal. Time was of the essence here, anyone could have picked it up and taken it home with them. So I drop off my bags at home and then pick up my mother - who was also 20 hours traveling but offered to come with (mothers are the best).

We jet to Newark, as we get closer I get more antsy... We finally pull up and I look at the location of where I placed the bag. It is NOT there!!!!

I then tell my mom to wait by the car and I run into the terminal and head towards the baggage claim. There is one attendant there. She is helping another customer and one more is in front of me. She sees by my eyes that I am a bit nervous and asks if she can help me. I said, I left a big purple bag here, did you see it?

Guess what she says???

Why would you leave your bag here?

I was thinking to myself... Are you crazy, I left it for fun, to make your job harder. But I responded, it was an accident, I did not mean to and I am sorry.

She said, yes we have it. A cop brought it in earlier. I big sigh of relief come across me.

She brings out the bag and I bring it back to the car and call the wife.

Finally, we head back home.

Thank you mom.

Note: that was the first time I ever left a bag anywhere, let alone the airport curb. Lessons learned...

February 19, 2008

Flight from Israel on Continental - Ben Gurion Airport - Israel Trip 2008

Ben Gurion AirportI wrote about the Flight to Israel on Continental, so I figured I write about the flight back.

We leave about an hour or so after shabbos is over. We get to the airport on time. The security in Ben Gurion Airport is incredible. About 5 different people ask you a bunch of questions along the way. The check your bags a few times with you and then ask you more questions. They are constantly checking you to make sure things are safe. Guess what, it is all done incredibly quickly and it felt much quicker than being at a New York airport's security line.

After getting through security, we set up shop temporarily in the center circle. My wife and mother go shopping, duty free, while my dad and I go on the free and fast wifi. A guy behind me asks how I connected. He had a Mac and was unable to connect. I explained that you need to agree to the terms of service but the agreement page does not work in Apple Safari, so you need to use Firefox. Once you agree in Firefox, you can use Safari again. He sadly only had Safari on his Mac.

At that time, I look around me to see if we have any people who look like they might be sniffing my Internet traffic. Like I would really know anyway. I then finish up my emails and RSS feeds and close my laptop. The 'girls' come back and we are greeted by friends who are flying back on El Al. They said they have access to the King David Lounge and asked us if we want to go. I said sure, but we also had access to the Dan Lounge, because I flew Continental and had an AMEX card. But we decided to go with them to the King David Lounge. Let me tell you, it blew me away. It was incredibly clean but the best part was the food was kosher. I grabbed some tuna, bread, cookies, drinks and had a meal. It rocked! I wonder if the Dan was that nice, maybe next time I'll check that out.

Note, Ben Gurion Airport is pretty new. I was actually in the airport the last night before they switched over to the new airport. It was November 1, 2004, almost November 2, 2004, when I had my flight back to New York after SES Sweden 2004, where I decided to go to Sweden via Denmark, then back to Denmark to London to Israel. Then on the way home (a few days later), I was the last flight out of the old terminal in Ben Gurion Airport. So the lounges are all pretty new and awesome, so is the airport. So it is hard to compare the Continental lounges to brand new lounges anyway. Learn more about the airport at Wikipedia.

We boarded our continental flight and I noticed we were on a really new plane. The TVs and seats and everything looked shiny - looked pretty new. Unfortunately, the air conditioning did not work until we took off and there was a slight delay on take off. So it was very hot and uncomfortable until we took off. But once in the air, it was smooth sailing. The TVs had on demand shows, so you can start a TV show, movie or whatever when you want, and even pause it if you need some shut eye. That is how airplane TVs should work.

We landed and my brother Ronnie picked us up. He drove us home at about 5 or 6am in the morning. Nice brother. It was Sunday morning.

When he dropped off my parents, it was there I noticed we were missing a bag. Missing a bag!!! To be continued....

February 18, 2008

Shabbos Two: Avi's Bar Mitzvah at OU Center - Israel Trip 2008

OU CenterI skipped Friday from Thursday, because nothing really significant happened Friday day. Now, although Avi was officially Bar Mitzvah'ed on Thursday, Shabbos (Friday night and Saturday) was a continuation of that celebration.

The plan was for many of us to meet at the kotel and pray Shabbos night services there. Many of us took taxi's prior to Shabbos beginning and got there early to prepare for services. When we arrived, we secured a place to pray in about the same location as on Thursday. As more people came, we decided to start. If I remember correctly, Avi lead services for both afternoon and evening services.

The thing is, soon after we started two new groups formed in front and behind us. The ones behind us were a Carlebach group, extremely loud. Then in front of us was a "mission" from the US. Great cause, they basically take a group of children who are ill, to Israel for a week or so, to experience it. So that group, although very nice, was a bit loud, as you can imagine. It was almost impossible to hear Avi lead us, but we managed.

After services, we walked back to the area of our hotels. It was about 20 - 30 minutes to walk, but it was a bit hilly. My sister and brother-in-law reserved the OU Center in Jerusalem for the shabbos meals. They had a caterer and more at this place, and it turned out very nice. They hosted meals for Friday night, Saturday day and Saturday night. Shabbos morning, we held services at the OU Center, where Avi read the whole Parsha Trumah, as opposed to just the first Aliyah, which is done during the weekday. He read perfectly and he wasn't nervous. When I did that, I was extremely nervous. Yes, he was only in front of 30 or so close friends and family, while I was in front of hundreds who were looking for me to make mistakes - but still, impressive for a 13 year-old.

My wife wasn't feeling well, so after the meal, we went back to our hotel and tried to sleep a bit. Then came back to the OU center for the third-meal. After that, we were pretty much done with Israel. It was time to go back to the airport to catch our flight to Newark. More on that later...

February 15, 2008

Yad Vashem - Israel Trip 2008

Avi & Barry at KotelSo after the kotel tours we prayed afternoon services at the kotel and then headed back to our respective lodges. The picture at the top right is of me and the Bar Mitzvah boy before leaving the kotel to head back and then go to Yad Vashem. As soon as we get back, we quickly change and I meet family and friends to bus over to Yad Vashem.

Yad Vashem is a holocaust museum. You can learn all about it at their web site or at Wikipedia. I'll tell you about our tour.

My sister scheduled a private tour when the museum was basically empty at night. It was a special tour for bar mitzvah kids. In short, they pair up a bar mitzvah kid with a kid who perished in the holocaust. The tour guide, who was excellent, tries to take us through the museum through the events of that child. It was a really educational and special tour and I am very glad I went.

Here is a picture of me facing the back door of the museum and looking in. Notice, it is like a triangle.

Israel 2008

It was a long day that day, but a great way to end off. We started with Avi's Bar Mitzvah, then did the Kotel Tours and finished the day with this important tour.

February 14, 2008

Western Wall (Kotel) Tunnel Tours

Western Wall TunnelsIn the afternoon of Avi's Bar Mitzvah, many of us went on the Western Wall Tunnel Tours. Our tour guide was really great - he really got the children involved and also educated us all, big time.

Basically, this is a tour of the western wall of the outside of the Jewish Temple or בית המקדש. Much of the protecting walls were covered up by thousands of years of dirt and building homes and stuff on top of them. When Israel became a state, Israel began to dig up part of the western wall, which is what we call the Kotel. The Kotel is just a small piece of the whole Western Wall - but much of it is covered up by homes. So they made these tunnels to let us walk, safely, along the wall, under the streets and homes that are above it.

What is so important about this wall? Well, it is the closest point to where we can go, to the Temple Mount (Har HaBayit). In fact, when we walked through the tunnel, there was one point where you can stand directly in front (picture) - a few hundred feet (maybe less, not sure) from the center of that point. We saw a Chosen (about to be married man) come to say a prayer there before his big day. It is the closest point, by most authorities, a religious Jew can get to the point of the Kadosh Hakadashim (Holy of Holies) - so it is spiritually important and significant.

Also, one of the largest stones in the world is part of that wall. It is a length of 13.6 meters and an estimated width of between 3.5 and 4.5 meters; estimates place its weight at 570 tons.

The thousands and thousands of history in those walls and tunnels is just amazing. I am glad I went on this tour - I learned a lot. If you ever do go to Israel, I highly recommend it - amazing amount of history there. You can also learn a lot about it at Wikipedia...

The cool and action packed part was when we left the tunnel. We leave through the Muslim Quarter and we are escorted by two Israeli soldiers that are armed with automatic rifles. The tour guide told us it is just for show, but seriously, why would you do that for show. :) Anyway, it was exciting to say the least.

Next comes Yad Vashem...

February 13, 2008

My Introduction to the First SphinnCon on Video

The other day I posted pictures of SphinnCon Israel. I finally had time to upload a two part video of my introduction to the first ever SphinnCon. I had to break up the 17 minute video into two parts, so YouTube would accept it. My Dad took the video, he was in the front row.

As you can see, in the beginning, I was a bit choppy but things went smoothly afterwards. I personally had a great time with it:

Part One: 8 minutes and 51 seconds

Part Two: 8 minutes and 10 seconds

Avi's Bar Mitzvah - Israel Trip 2008

Avi's Bar Mitzvah - Israel 2008Thursday was Avi, my oldest nephew, Bar Mitzvah - the day he became of age to be counted as a man in the Jewish world.

We all met at the Kotel, Western Wall, in the morning. I had to hunt down a representative that would secure a table for us to use during morning services. I finally found the guy, he brought me a table amongst the masses of people (keep in mind it was a new month and a Thursday, so lot's going on at the Kotel that day). He told me to stand and guard the table until more people came. But then they needed me for pictures, so we got someone to take my place while I did some pictures. Then we all went to the Kotel, by the table, for morning services. We got a position near the men and women dividing wall (mechitza (spelling)), so the women can see what was going on.

Avi's brother, second oldest son, Jeremy lead the introductory part of the morning services. Then two of my brother-in-law's friends did the rest of the services. The picture above is of Avi reading the Torah. I was honored with one of the alyiahs. He did a great job!

During all of this, we had a very loud group behind us. It was this Carlebach group behind us, and as some of you know, they can get loud. But we survived and finished up services. After services we all either walked or took a taxi to the event hall for the party.

When I got to the event hall, I helped my sister set up her computer to the projector. The first problem we had was that there was only one outlet and we had two things to plug in. So they got us a plug that expanded into two. Then when I tried out the outlet, I noticed the power wasn't working. So I asked them for an extension cord so we can try an outlet that was further away. They didn't have an extension cord, so they built one on the spot for me. When that was built, I was a bit afraid to plug the devices into it, cause it can fry the computer and projector. I took my chances and it worked out perfectly.

The party was very nice, the food was good, the music was good, the speeches were nice as well. The dessert was also very good. And yes, there was dancing and more pictures. I was very impressed on how well everything went.

That was the Bar Mitzvah, after the Bar Mitzvah - we did a few other things to extend the event. More to come on that in later posts.

Wednesday - AM Blogging, Afternoon Shopping, Night Dinning - Israel Trip 2008

Backsplash Israel StoneAfter a long day of standing at SphinnCon Israel on Tuesday, I was fairly tired that night. In any event, I knew I wanted to document the day and upload pictures on my extremely slow Internet connection in Israel. So when I woke up, I began my morning stuff, email, RSS, forum research. Then when I was done, I began blogging the conference at both the Search Engine Roundtable and Search Engine Land (Danny then told me, he would have blogged it at Search Engine Land).

I told my wife to go shopping while I blogged away the AM. She found a Michal Negrin store nearby and bought some jewelry. She then met me back at the hotel and I finished up my blog stories for the morning. A little after 1PM, we left to do more shopping in Geula. Yes, I am a great husband for going shopping even though it makes me ill to shop. I don't think we bought anything that day, I may be wrong - it is all turning into a fog right now for me. But we did stop at a tile place. My wife has been really wanting us to get a backsplash for ournew house but I have been trying to push off that decision.

In any event, she found two styles she liked here in Israel. Note, she hasn't been able to find anything in America yet - but she found two styles she liked in Israel. The one above, is one that I think we both like and will work well in our kitchen. Thing is, I guess it would have to be shipped from Israel and we would have to convert the measurements somehow - all doable. Not that we are going to do this anytime soon. The above backsplash looks a lot like Israeli stone, which is why we like it.

After the backsplash bit, we went back to the hotel and got ready for dinner with my brother and sister-in-law. Skipping some parts....

We go together to some restaurant that tells us they have no room for the four of us. My sister-in-law does her smooth talking and gets us in. We eat well. It turns out the waiter was a taxi driver that took my brother somewhere, so they chatted a bit about that. In any event, the food was good and the convo was good. Although, I prefer not to talk and be distracted when I have food in front of me ;-).

After that, I think the day was over - we had to rest up for the big day tomorrow. My nephew's bar mitzvah.

February 12, 2008

Tuesday Was SphinnCon Israel - Israel Trip 2008

To continue the tale... Tuesday was all about work. My wife went to Haifa to see her friend for the day, while I did SphinnCon Israel. See SphinnCon Israel 2008 Recap for a long overview of what happened. Below are my pictures from the event:

Work Morning, Afternoon Beitar & Dinner With Friends - Israel Trip 2008

Mir yeshiva, JerusalemTo continue my documentation of my Israel trip... Monday morning, my wife visited her friends in Bet Shemesh, a city in Israel's Jerusalem District, home, as of 2006 to 68,400 people. While she visited her friend, I was allowed to do some work that morning.

Then after work, I met my nephews, brother, brother-in-law and father in Mesharim where they did a tour of places like the Mir Yeshiva and other historic places in Mesharim. From there, we took one taxi and my brother's car back to his home in Beitar Illit, where my wife met me. All the kids got together and my nephews saw their cousins home for the first time. It was cool.

My wife and I left around dinner time to meet friends. We ate at a place not far from our hotel, while the rest of the family ate in Beitar.

The picture above is of the Rosh (head) Yeshiva of Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem, Israel, Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel.

February 11, 2008

I Hate Shopping in Israel Also! - Israel Trip 2008

Google Sticker in Israel - Ben Yehuda, JerusalemTo continue my documentation of my Israel trip, I'll pick up from leaving beitar. So we take a taxi from Beitar to Jerusalem with my parents. I know I am getting a good deal on that taxi ride because my brother or sister-in-law speak the language and if you speak the language, you don't get ripped off.

The guy drops me off at the hotel, the bellhop takes our piles and piles of bags (99% of it not being mine). They initially tell us our room isn't available but then a minute later, they said it was now available. So instead of leaving our stuff with the bellhop, he brings it up to our room. I give him some US dollars, which is now not worth as much as it was a year or two ago in Israel. We put our stuff down, I lock my precious laptop in the safe and we head to Cup O Joe for drinks and free WiFi.

I order something to drink and my wife does as well. I then pull out my iPhone and I see I can connect to a network for free. I connect and download emails to my iPhone. A guy then comes over to me and asks me if I was using an iPhone (the first of many comments on my iPhone while traveling in Israel). Oh, forgot to mention, Israel's airport as some sweet fast Internet, downloaded email there as well. We continue to drink, while I mess around with email - knowing that WiFi is a security risk but willing to take the risk at that time.

After Cup O Joe we go to both Geula and Ben Yehuda street to do some "shopping." That is where I found the touch of Google in Jerusalem, by the way...

I quickly learn that not only do I hate shopping in American stores, I also hate shopping in Israeli stores. I get this tiring and sick feeling going into a store, hard to explain. Anyway, as my wife looks for stuff to buy, I try to pick up free Wifi spots in town. The most popular network I was able to find was Unwire Jerusalem.

We go into a few stores and my wife buys some stuff from one of them. Now this guy is a smooth talker. Everything 50% off. I like you, this costs X but Ill give it to you for Y. No tourism, need to make a sale... Etc. Etc. The whole time my wife is saying, what a great deal and I am thinking, we are getting ripped off. In any event, thinking like that while on vacation is not healthy, so we buy some things, which in hindsight, were probably good deals.

Then I finally convince my wife to head back to the hotel. As we begin to walk back, we bump into my parents who are going to lunch. So, being frugal, I latch on and score a free meal at a popular restaurant in town. Then we all walk back to our respective lodges.

At that point, I sign up for a week's worth of Internet at the hotel. The hotel speed is grossly over prices and incredibly slow. I do some email processing, some feeds, etc and then I think we go out to dinner, just the two of us, at a nice place.

Anyway, I learned that day - that shopping in Israel also makes me feel ill.

Shabbos One In Beitar Illit at Brother & Sister-In-Law

Beitar IllitSo after my my flight to Israel, my brother picked us up in a van and drove us back to his home in Beitar Illit. Beitar Illit is an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, just outside of Jerusalem. It is also known as one of the most Jewish orthodox communities in the world.

As soon as we arrived, my two nieces and sister-in-law were waiting outside for us. So were several dozen other kids, who happen to be watching a broken down bus in front of my brother's home. After we made our way with our bags past the heard of children, we said our hellos. I then skipped into the room with Internet and began working. Pause...

My brother just upgraded to a higher connection 5mbps or something like that. The new ISP controls his wireless router, and uses mac addresses to give access. The issue is, my computer would not connect, so I used a hard wire. But when we called to ask the ISP why, we got a weird response. So here is that story...

My brother calls his ISP. After telling the tech rep the story, the tech rep decided to get his supervisor on, since he couldn't figure it out. His supervisor comes on and starts talking to my brother. My brother tried to tell him what the issue was, but the supervisor would not listen. So the original tech guy told his supervisor to listen to my brother. Then the supervisor told the original tech guy, "you don't tell me what to do!" and hung up the phone. The original tech guy said, "hello, hello, are you there" to his supervisor and then hung up. We were left without an answer. That is typical Israel for you. :)

Since I arrived late, I was unable to do the billing that day. Instead, I just did the feeds for Danny, which was good timing for him. I then did some forum stuff and organized a trillion emails. Then an hour or so later was shabbos. We showered before shabbos and then turned off our work stuff and went to synagogue (shul). At shul I saw a childhood friend that moved to the community there, so that was a nice surprise.

Then we came back and my sister-in-law fed us like we never ate before - yes, I was in heaven. :) Then some chatting and then sleep. Then the same thing Saturday day.

Shabbos ended and I went back on the computer to do more email (all the emails from the Friday workday), tons... Then after email, I did all the billing. After a couple of hours, I was then able to finish billing and then did some of the feeds and more work. Felt bad but it had to get done. Then I went back to the family to do family stuff.

Sunday AM we left Baitar to go to Jerusalem and our hotel. More on that later...

Flight to Israel on Continental - Israel Trip 2008

Israel 2008As promised, I will be sharing many of the experiences I had during my Israel trip on this blog. I figured I start from our starting point, the flight to Israel.

My wife, my mother and father all took the same flight. In fact, I booked them all, so that I could make sure we all sit next to each other. My parents best friends ended up on that flight as well. But the rest of the Bar Mitzvah crew and friends took other flights. We didn't get the best price but we go fair prices.

In any event, we flew Continental because they had the best price at the time for the dates we wanted to go. In addition, I fly continental a lot and I wanted the miles. We took the afternoon flight that got us in Friday morning. We boarded the plane about an hour late, If I remember correctly and didn't take off until after 2 hours after the time we were suppose to. The picture above is me checking email as often as possible before we were about to take off. In fact, we didn't take off until it was after dark.

The movies on the way to Israel were pretty bad. Sadly, I did not sleep. But it was Friday and I slept a lot Friday night and was ready to go Saturday morning.

There were really no glitches on the flight to Israel. We landed an hour or two after scheduled but it worked out well. My Israeli Brother (who comments here every now and then) picked us up in a van and took us back to his place.

The security on Continental seems like a joke compared to El Al, but what do I know. The flight was less packed then a typical El Al flight because the plane is smaller. Continental had seats in the format of 3-3-3, my El Al flights are in the format of 3-5-3 and seem like they have more rows. So less people = less noise and it was less noisy.

So that was my flight to Israel on Continental. More to come in a series of posts on my trip to Israel in 2008.

February 8, 2008

Don't Worry, I Didn't Get Shy

I know I haven't been posting about the trip why I am here... I apologize. But I promise....

I will post when I get back to a normal schedule. The Internet connection is way too slow, way too slow. The time is limited between everything I need to do.

My computer related priorities are:
- RustyBrick Work
- SER Forum Research
- SEL Blog/News Research

Then if I have time, I do other things - but with the Internet connection being so slow, the above three are taking way too long.

So I haven't had time to post about personal stuff. But I'll post next week, I got tons of pictures.

February 6, 2008

SphinnCon Israel Update & Traffic in Jerusalem

Yesterday was SphinnCon Israel and I have a huge write up on it at the Search Engine Roundtable. Overall, i am very pleased on how it turned out...

Today, they were doing some construction in Kikar Shabbat (probably spelling wrong), off Strauss in Geula, Jerusalem. The traffic was madness, pure madness.

Traffic in Jerusalem

It goes on and on and on.

February 4, 2008

Touch of Google in Jerusalem

I was walking around "town" in Jerusalem, by Ben Yehuda street. And I walked by this sticker of Google. I had to do a double take, and then snapped a pic of it on my iPhone.

Google Sticker in Israel - Ben Yehuda, Jerusalem

I am picking up wifi spots all over the place with my iPhone. Just hope I don't get hit with a bill. The AT&T web site has yet to show any international activity, but it might be slow to update.

Tomorrow is SphinnCon Israel!

February 1, 2008

In Israel: So Microsoft Is Gonna Buy Yahoo...

I get on a 10 hour flight that is delayed 2+ hours and when I land, I learn Microsoft is likely gonna buy Yahoo.

Anyway, I landed and got to my brother at about 6am (EST). I jump on feeds as soon as I see Danny's twitter and go through like 700 feeds since yesterday at 3pm (EST). Then Danny posts on Microsoft, wow!

Anyway, this is me on the plane before taking off, I was sitting like that for two hours...

Israel 2008

Yes, I need a shave.

Then this is a picture after we land, driving towards Jerusalem.

Israel 2008

Sundown is in about an hour and got to go offline again for about 25 hours... I could use some sleep.

January 30, 2008

What Work Will I Be Doing On Vacation?

IsraelTomorrow I am off to Israel. It is a vacation, family-thing, and business trip for RustyBrick and SEO thing. What work will I be doing while on this vacation?

  • SphinnCon Israel
  • Meet one or two RustyBrick clients
  • Invoicing clients this Friday
  • Daily email
  • Forum research and threads for the Search Engine Roundtable
  • RSS search research for Search Engine Land
  • And I am sure misc items

Will this upset the wife? Probably but I will do my best to wake up earlier to get this stuff out of the way during sleep hours.

I just take my responsibilities incredibly serious - so I can't leave RustyBrick, clients, Tamar or Danny and team, and the SEM community hanging...

January 29, 2008

Hebrew Mobile Phones: Amigo

Amigo PhonePart of my international geek travel guide is to rent a mobile phone that works in Israel. Last year, I went with Travel Cell and I was very happy. This year, I am going with Amigo.

Why Amigo? Well, this year, unlike last year, I am going with a bunch of family. The Amigo phones have this annoying "Push to Talk" feature (like the Nextel Walkie Talkie feature). So we can easily talk for free to each other via the PTT feature, instead of using minutes. We all got the Amigo phones so that we can do this. We all picked up the phones last night from an authorized dealer.

Last night, I began programming in the phone numbers of our other family members so that I have quick access to the PTT information when needed. I soon realized the phone is in Hebrew. I am sure I could switch it to English, but why not leave it in Hebrew.

I then added my wife, ישע, then my name to her phone, ברי which is pronounced Barry, as opposed to ברוך, my Hebrew Jewish name. Then my mom, אמא and dad, אבא. Then my sister, גק', and brother-in-law דו. I am sure I spelled the English versions of their name wrong. Well, for my mother, no way am I going to try to spell אדרין or for my dad, ליון. Of course, I could of used their Jewish Hebrew names, but this was a bit more fun.

I am without a phone that checks email over a cell connection when in Israel. I will have my iPhone which will connect to wifi networks and I have my laptop which does that as well. My hotel will have Internet, it will be slow. The blackberry like services in Israel, I hear, are a fortune.

January 28, 2008

International Travel as a Geek

lego airplaneI already wrote about Geeks & Airline Security, so this is going to be my international version. Yes, there are new things I need when traveling international.

Here is a list of geek items I need for the trip:

  • plug converters
  • monitor cables
  • ear phones
  • iphone earphone adapter
  • batteries
  • extra laptop battery
  • airline computer plug
  • apple remote
  • extra power cord
  • wireless travel modem
  • ethernet cable
  • airline ear phones
  • electronic tickets
  • digital form of hotel vouchers
  • passport
  • confirm kosher food on flight
  • rent mobile phone
  • send out emails to family/friends/co-workers/clients with ways to be reached

That is my list so far...

What is up with the lego plane? More on that over here.

January 18, 2008

Israel Trip is Soon: More iPhone Usage Thoughts

I keep talking about taking my iPhone to Israel.

On one hand, I want to be able to check emails throughout the day when I am roaming the streets and doing tourist-like things. On the other hand, I don't want to be hit with a huge bill when I get home. Since AT&T has yet to support an international plan designed for Israel and the iPhone (they have for the Treo and Israel), I don't plan on making calls from my phone or using data.

But what about the wifi option? Can I get away with using just that?

The iPhone Tips for International Roamers describes how you can use Wifi to get data on your iPhone while traveling internationally. But what scares me is the language is not very encouraging...

When I go ahead and look at Keep Data Roaming "OFF" section under Settings > General > Network > Data Roaming, it reads:

When abroad, turning off data roaming may avoid roaming charges when using email, web browsing, and other data services.

The word "may" is what concerns me. Here is a picture:

iPhone Keep Data Roaming "OFF"

If I was in Israel today, I bet I would follow the instructions, and try to just use Wifi only and make sure the data roaming is off. But I know I would check my AT&T account the day after to see if I was being billed.

Hotel Guests: Beware of Those Drinking Glasses

Many of you, like me, travel several times a year and stay in hotels. Well, do you ever use the hotel provided drinking glasses when you need a quick refreshment? I have at times... Not anymore after watching this:

January 16, 2008

How I Prepare My Search Marketing Presentations

keynote presentationsLast night I sat down at home and starting to work on my presentation, I guess "keynote," for SphinnCon Israel.

I took this great class in Baruch College, yea a speech 101, but it helped a lot with me prepping for the presentations I have given in the past. Now, I am by far not a professional speaker. I don't mind speaking, but I do not get paid, like some, to go around the world speaking at events. Having said that, this is how I start preparing my presentations.

I first figure out a title for my presentation. After that, I nail down the "general purpose," of the presentation, typically it is three words - in my case, "to introduce." Then I get specific, by writing a full sentence of two about the "specific purpose" on my presentation. In my SphinnCon presentation, it is to introduce the conference and agenda for the afternoon. Then I get into more details, by providing a "central idea," which is a paragraph of the core of the presentations.

Once I nail that down. I work on my introductory "transition" into the first slide. The first transition is actually the first words that comes out of my mouth at the event. I then do a slide and then another transition statement, which leads into a new slide. I repeat this process, so that the transitions flow from one slide to the next. Keep in mind, I may have 5 slides grouped together between two transitions - that is ok.

Last night I put together 8 main sections of my presentation. It is all in outline view in Microsoft Word. After I finalize the outline, that is when I get into doing something in Apple Keynote or PowerPoint - but I am hoping to do Keynote. I also hope to have very little text, or zero text, in my slides - if possible. Should be fun!

January 4, 2008

The Solution to an Annoying Airline Passenger

Airline seatMy brother-in-law sent this to me and I know it might help those who are frequent travelers.

If you are sitting next to someone who irritates you follow these instructions:

  1. Quietly and calmly open up your laptop case.
  2. Remove your laptop.
  3. Start up
  4. Make sure the guy who is annoying you, can see the screen
  5. Close your eyes, tilt your head up to the sky & move your lips as if praying
  6. Then hit this link

Classic.

December 10, 2007

Duct Tape License Plate: Top Down But Freezing, Dog Seat Belt & Duct Tape

I was driving to work yesterday, yes I work Sunday mornings, and I saw this car.

Duct Tape License Plate

(1) What first caught my attention was that the car had its top down in 30 degree weather. Brrrrrr.

(2) Then I saw the interesting license plate, as you can see in the image above.

(3) Then when I passed the car, I notice a dog was buckled into the passenger seat. The dog was sitting up like a person, wearing a snow hat. Way too funny.

December 7, 2007

Tamar Hooked Up With CSI Miami's David Caruso

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas - or maybe not. Tamar hooked up with David Caruso from CSI Miami in Vegas.

CSI Miami's David Caruso

Well, not "hooked up" but took a picture with David Caruso.

December 4, 2007

Bailing on December Search Conferences

It feels so weird to be at my home base while everyone else in the SEM space is in Chicago or Vegas at a conference.

Most people I know in the industry went to PubCon Vegas. I do know plenty that went to SES Chicago.

But I couldn't pick one over the other so I stayed home.

Nah, that wasn't the reason. I am just tired of traveling, so I took December off - off from traveling.

I head to Israel in late January for SMX Israel, an event I will be running with a few Israeli SEO friends in early February (more details on that sometime this week, I hope). Then when I come back to the States from Israel, I head off to SMX West for that long conference.

I miss everyone at SES Chicago and PubCon Vegas. Tamar is there representing and yes, we got mad coverage of the conferences at the Search Engine Roundtable.

November 16, 2007

IMNY All Good @ Le Marais Steakhouse

Frank Watson (AussieWebmaster) at IMNYIt has been a while since I attended the IM NY events, but last night I was able to make it.

It was held at Le Marais Steakhouse in Little Italy. A bunch of SEOs were there, including Tamar, Greg, Frank, Todd, Tedster, Kevin Heisler, Chris and two girls. One girl was, I think, Frank's friend and the other I just don't know her name.

Anyway, I ordered some chicken dish, it was excellent. Tamar got this duck Moroccan thing, looked weird to me. Frank's girl was a veggin - yea, seriously. It was the first time I met Kevin - nice to meet you, too bad you sat on the other side of the table... An SEW vs. SEL thing?;-) Anyway...

I am pretty sure Frank is to thank for the bill. Thank you Frank - see image above. It rocked and I sure want to come again!

That was the start of the night. I left first, b/c I wake up way too early...

November 7, 2007

Any Interest in Israeli SEO Networking Event?

barry cartoon israelI am planning on visiting Israel in early February, a quasi vacation, business trip (meet two clients), catch up with family and friends and nephew's bar mitzvah. So I figured, heck, why not tack on another thing --- an SEO networking event...

Last time I went to Israel, I received dozens of emails from Israeli SEOs and SEMs to meet up. It was my honeymoon, so it just didn't seem right to do that to my wife. But I do want to say hello to all the SEOs and SEMs out in Israel - so this time, I don't want to miss that opportunity.

I can probably arrange a half day event in Jerusalem while I am in Israel. In fact, I can probably get a sponsor with the help of Third Door Media coordinating the event under an SMX or Sphinn thing. It is very early on, just a concept right now, so no guarantees on that. I am just fishing the idea around.

So if you are an SEO, live in the Israel area and will be around in early February (the first week in February), would you want a half day event in Israel? Have all your Israeli SEO friends come and vote at the poll below. I may post this poll later at Search Engine Land and Search Engine Roundtable to get a wider response, but for now, I want to see who may be interested, if any, via this venue.

Thank you in advance.

October 17, 2007

Some of the People Behind Search Marketing Expo

So I am at the Search Marketing Expo (SMX) conference now in NY. I am sitting in the "Speaker / Press" room, and I spotted two of the people who make SMX work.

People Behind SMX

Karen DeWeese, sitting on the left-front, basically runs the shows from behind the scenes. Without Karen, I would say Danny is a sitting duck. :)

On the right is Chris Elwell, the Partner & President of Third Door Media.

Those are just two of the many people behind the SMX conferences. For more players, check out the team page.

October 16, 2007

Abigails Meals Offered to Kosher SMX Attendees

What an awesome surprise. Typically, the kosher food at these conferences are non-existant. But not at today's SMX conference.

Today, they provided lunch meals from Abigails. The assortment included chicken salad, pastrami, smoked turkey and maybe some other options.

Abigails is a nice New York kosher restaurant, so I suspect those meals were not cheap.

We appreciate it!

October 3, 2007

Got My Five Star Parking Refund

Five Star Parking RefundRemember my ordeal with Five Star Parking?

Well, today I finally got my refund. I think I had to remind them to send it to me. Because it wasn't mailed our until I sent a follow up email saying I never received it.

Well, now I got it. So this mess now costs me a lot of time, and about $450, as opposed to $700.

Nice that they came through with the $150 parking refund, I guess.

October 2, 2007

Kosher Vending Machines Bring Kosher Food Everywhere

Kosher Vending IndustriesTwo basketball buddies of mine chatted with me a while back about a new venture they have been working on. One is in the food business another was an investor of sorts. The concept was a vending machine that would produce quality hot foods that were kosher.

Personally, I love the idea. If the food tastes even decent and is in locations where kosher business travelers are located, then this idea can and should take off. Heck, I know I would pump hundreds of dollars into a machine like this over the course of a week's business trip.

The business is named Kosher Vending Industries and they currently service a lot of places, but not enough... One, they need a vending machine locator on their site!

The menu?

  • 3 types of hotdogs/sausages
  • Deep Dish Cheese Pizza
  • Mozzarella Sticks
  • Veggie Cutlets
  • Potato Knish
  • Onion Rings

The New York Times has a write up on them named For Kosher Emergencies, Manna From a Machine and CNBC will be spotlighting them tonight between 7:00pm-8:00pm (EST). To check it out.

September 18, 2007

Five Star Parking Gets One Star: Refunding Parking Only

Five Star ParkingTo continue my story of My Car Was Broken into at Newark Airport Short Term Parking and lexus wasting my time... I finally got in touch with the parking company today.

I explained the situation. The lady was very nice. As expected, she said, we cannot cover the damage to the car, since it is a "park and lock" garage. Funny, a park and lock garage that costs $150 for a few days of parking...

In any event, she promised me a refund for the $150 charged to me for parking. The least you can do is not charge me for parking my car there, when it wasn't found in the same spot...

Anyway, I am giving Five Star Parking, a single star for customer service. Which is kind of convenient for me, since their logo only shows a single star in their name... I know, it is in the five...

Hope I get the check.

September 17, 2007

My Car Was Broken into at Newark Airport Short Term Parking

After landing from my my flight yesterday, and knowing that I have been fasting all day, plus had to go to work later.

My wife and I walked to where we parked the car, in short term parking at Newark Airport. We walked up and down the isles, and couldn't find it. I found that weird, since I wrote down the exact location I parked the car.

I finally give up and call the parking security. They sent someone to pick us up and find the car. After driving around the parking lot for ten minutes, she said the car may have been moved. It was moved to the security side of the garage. Someone tried to break in.

When I got to the car, the windows were down and the locked was disabled from the driver's side. It looks like this:

Lexus Door Lock Broken

I am now at the Lexus shop, waiting for them to fix it.

It appears to me that the only damage to the car was the lock being pushed in. I have no idea how much it will cost, but I do know my deductible is $500. :)

The car itself was in perfect condition. Nothing was taken, nothing was damaged, just the lock. In fact, the car still locked using the electronic key lock.

I filed a police report and signed a couple papers at the scene of the crime.

What irks me the most is that I was still charged $150 for parking. They take no responsibility for any damage or inconvenience. They just charge you $150 and send you off, on your way. I probably will complain to the parking company after I get my bill from Lexus.

It obviously could have been a lot worse. I could have not had a car to drive home in. Next time, I know not to park my car at the airport. It is just amazing. They move cars from one spot to the next, if they are broken into.

In any event, we drove home. I went to work, worked for about an hour. I then came home and broke my fast. The day didnt turn out too bad. And, like I said, it could have been worse. But I do feel I was violated or at least my car was violated. I was going to title this post, "My Lexus was Violated & Abused."

Live and learn...

Flying Over Newark New Jersey

Since I took a picture of me flying over Missouri, I thought I do the same on my iPhone, over Newark.

Flying Over Newark Airport

Kind of an artistic picture, no?

September 16, 2007

Flying, Fasting צום גדליה, Working Later

At the airport again. Will be home later tonight.

Today is also a fast day, it is called Tzom Gedaliah (Fast of Gedaliah or צום גדליה).

Typically you get a bit dehydrated on the plane, but it is a bit worse on a fast day, when you can't drink or eat. The fast is over about 7:45 tonight, I am looking forward to possibly eating some fresh ziti.

But that comes later.

First we board, then we fly, then we land. After we land, I drive home (parked in short term parking for the past few days). When I get home, I need to remember to switch the phone line from my previous provider to the vonage line, it finally switched over.

Then off to work. I have so much to do it is nuts. Seriously nuts. Let's see:

- Payroll
- Payroll taxes
- Estimated taxes
- Insurance stuff
- Bills
- Go through all the office mail
- Mark payments
- Print checks
- Mail checks and other items
- Other misc items

All of this, hopefully in less than an hour. Then I come home with time to spare to pray a bit and then hopefully eat no later than 7:56pm.

That is what I got ahead of me today.

Then tomorrow, I need to get out of the house by 5:14am. Actually, I have to get out of the house at 5:14am Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Friday is later, about 5:44am. Then the following week, we are back to 5:59am.

Hope to get back to a normal schedule tomorrow.

Good day all and go Jets!

September 12, 2007

Flying Over Missouri

Via my iPhone...

Over MO

August 29, 2007

Steve at Farlex - Great Guy & Smart Home Buyer

Farlex133x51.gifThere is this guy named Steve that I see at almost every search conference I go to. He typically is on the same flights from New York to the conference city that I am on. I think, more times than not, he is on my flight, which is a bit creepy - if you think about it.

We always did some small chat but this last trip, we chatted a ton on the way back to New York from San Jose.

Steve runs this company named Farlex, but it the company's products that are cool. The two main products include:

- The Free Dictionary which provides not just dictionary items, but it is a huge portal, that you can customize to your liking. Check it out.

- The Free Library which provides tons of syndicated articles from tons of sources. The articles have social media buttons within them, plus commenting and much more. You can translate any page and more.

Good stuff.

In any event, Steve and I chatted a lot. He is buying a new house and I am also. He gave me so many helpful tips, so many. It was a fun chat and I hope all goes well with your house as you finalize the remaining details!

August 24, 2007

Small People in Large Airplane Seats

Last night I flew back from San Jose to New York. I got a pretty good seat, the row directly behind first class, but I was in a middle seat. But it was great leg room.

There was a woman on my right, by the window. She was absolutely tiny. Directly behind her was a tall, large man.

The tiny lady decided to move her seat back. The poor guy behind him had almost no room. He asked her not to recline her chair all the way back. She got upset. She didn't really speak english, but she said, she paid for the seat to recline and wants to recline. He explained that he had no leg room, so please just recline a bit, since you have a ton of leg room.

She walked over to the flight attendant and complained. The flight attendant came over and tried to work it out. She asked the man to move to a different seat, he didnt want to. She asked the lady to switch seats with the man, she said no. She then put her hands up in the air and said, "children, you need to work this out yourselves." She then walked away. Personally, I felt the flight attendant could of been more professional, even though these two people were a bit crazy. But in any event, it was funny.

This tiny lady, who needed absolutely no room, refused to make it more comfortable for this large man.

There should be a rule. People under x feet tall and weigh less than x pounds should not be allowed to sit in a chair like that. :)

August 22, 2007

Quick Video of Google Dance 2007

Last night was the Google Dance. Here is a quick video of what went on, after dark.

While upstairs, Matt and the Google engineers were answering questions:
Matt Cutts :: Google Dance :: SES San Jose

How did we get to the Google Dance? Chris Boggs and Frank Watson organized a limo service.

Chris Boggs & CSHEL in Limo :: Google Dance :: SES San Jose

Chris is the one who seems very happy in that picture.

August 21, 2007

Why I Prefer Not to Go to Parties at Conferences

IMG_2674.JPGAs many of you know, I go to a ton of search conferences. From SES (which I am at now), to WebmasterWorld, to the new Search Marketing Expo - I hit them all.

Most of them are flowered with night events, where different vendors and agencies sponsor parties, dinners and more.

Now, a lot of people know, I tend to not stay late at those parties and sometimes I don't stop by at all.

Some people want to know why. Here are some reasons:

(1) During conferences, companies tend to want to release their new features and products. So not only do I spend all day covering the conference sessions and presentations, I need to wake up at 4am to cover all the news from those releases. So staying out late, simply doesn't mesh with waking up at 4am and also having to be able to cover late day releases.

(2) I honestly do not enjoy parties, I like noise free environments, and silence. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy talking with people, I just like to do it in a low monotone voice.

(3) I am simply tired.

How can you help me attend parties?

(1) Stop announcing things during these conferences.

(2) Don't email me things that can wait until after the conference.

(3) Have noise-free parties.

But seriously, tonight is the Google Dance, I will be there (Ill probably be one of the first ones to leave) but I hope to see you there.

In addition, do not miss our live radio show tonight. I posted the details at the Search Engine Roundtable, please stop by, if you have time.

August 20, 2007

My View from San Jose Marriott

I am at the San Jose Marriott for the fourth time, in four years, I think. Here is my view:

San Jose Marriott View

I believe the weather here is always perfect. If that is even possible.

Off to the conference shortly.

My iPhone Movie Was Aired on Airplane!

iphoneSo, I am all excited to play movies on my iPhone for this trip. I download an undisclosed movie, a get ready to start up the movie on the plane yesterday. The overhead screens come down and show the featured presentation.

Guess what is playing?

Figure it out yet?

Yes, the movie I downloaded to my iPhone!

What a waste! So I opted to listen and watch the movie on the plane screens. Why waste the iPhone's battery?

In any event, I did listen to my music and music videos on my iPhone after the two movies aired. But I was laughing inside.

I thought to myself, wouldn't it be funny if the movie on the plane would be the movie I downloaded to watch. And then seconds later, they showed the movie.

Too funny.

But at least the Bose earphones kept the snoring sound on my left out of reach.

July 27, 2007

My Morning Turkey

Very often, when I am driving to work I see this Turkey crossing the street. So I decided to finally stop driving, take out my iPhone and snap a picture.

Turkey Crossing Street

Pretty good quality...

Where exactly do I see this turkey? Right around here... Make sure to click on the blue pointer marker.

What time do I see this turkey crossing the street? Typically between 6:20 and 6:40am (EST).

July 17, 2007

Statue of Liberty

I was there recently...

Statue of Liberty

It was a hot day.

June 28, 2007

Got Hit By a Cop From Behind in Manhattan

JeepLast night, I went out to dinner with my wife and sister and brother-in-law. Traffic was absolutely horrible on the way in and way out. I am not sure if it had to do with the yesterday's blackout in the upper east side, but it was bad.

In any event, after reaching the restaurant 30 minutes late, we ate and left. The drive home was worse. Driving up 1st avenue to get to the FDR north was a pain. About three blocks before the entrance with the FDR, I felt a largish knock on the back of the car. The whole car rocked forward and I just sighed.

I get out of the car, with my brother-in-law and we go look at the situation. I took my wife's Jeep, because I can't fit more than two people and a RustyBrick bag in my car, so at least my wheels were damaged. In any event, the guy who hit me, had a small Honda Civic. His right headlight went under my Jeep's left bumper. His headlight was smashed in and the left bumper was scratched and a ripped under the bumper.

I am waiting on a quote from a body shop guy now...

But get this, the guy who hit me was an office duty police officer. He was very nice and apologetic. So we exchange information and go on our way. Today I call him to give him the cost estimate...

It gets worse. I finally get onto the FDR north. Of course, more traffic... I merge onto the ramp to get onto the George Washington Bridge and the car in front of me, in the right lane hits a large divider cone. It rolls right in front of my car - something I can't run over. So I had to stop, put hazards on and have my brother-in-law run out and move the cone.

We are back on our way.

I merge off the GW Bridge onto the Palisades parkway and buckets of rain start coming down. I can barely see, but I keep going. The rain stops and we see accidents all over the place. The other side of the Palisades is closed down due to a huge accident, huge.

That was my fun adventure last night. No car fires but still fun.

June 26, 2007

Just Got It: WebmasterWorld Got My Back

Typically, you get these pieces of shwag and you throw them in the corner of your office. Well, I have them in corners, at home, hanging in closets, etc...

I just pulled out an old piece of WebmasterWorld shwag and I just got the message.

WebmasterWorld got my back!

Barry on WebmasterWorld Mirror

Thanks Brett!

Am I bored? Not, just felt bad I only posted two personal items today - so this is the third.

June 25, 2007

Blazing Car Fire on NYS Thruway (I-87 South)

Yesterday, late afternoon, I was driving back from a wedding in upstate New York, on NYS Thruway (I-87 South), and there was a huge fog of black smoke in the air. As we got closer, we saw this car with flames coming out of it. We also saw small fire cars driving north (to come back around south) to the fire, we then saw later fire trucks doing the same thing (but that was after we passed the fire).

Huge Car Fire

I couldn't find any news about the car fire this morning. From the looks of it, it appeared there was no one in the car, while it was on fire. At least, I hope no one was in the car.

My wife actually said, hey - should I take a picture for your blog. I guess my blogging is rubbing off on my wife.

June 19, 2007

Booked for San Jose Search Conference

ses_sj_07.gifI just booked flights and hotel reservations for SES San Jose for Tamar and I.

My wife came last year, but she was terribly bored, so she won't be coming again.

I tried to get a companion fare ticket with my AMEX card, but no luck again. This time, I used AMEX points to pay for the tickets. I also reserved the rooms at the San Jose Marriott, because I rather be early than late with that.

I hate this flight. It is long. And yes, we are taking a red eye back from San Jose to New York. I always say, never again, when it comes to red eyes, but I never listen to myself.

So not looking forward to the traveling, but I always enjoy the San Jose conference.

June 18, 2007

Why Do They Call It Bear Mountain?

bear mountainYesterday, we had exactly and hour to spare, so my wife and I decided to drive to Bear Mountain, up by the west bank of the Hudson River.

It is about 20 minutes away from us, so we drove up, and took Perkins Memorial Drive to the top. We parked, got out, my wife took this picture of me next to the bear. We got back into the car and drove back down.

The drive was nice (especially with the top down), so I suspect we will go back. There is a lot to do there, but I am not really the nature or outdoors type of guy. My Treo did work in most areas, so that was good to know.

I know my wife wants to take her parents here when they come to visit from St. Louis.

Plenty to do, like: Biking, Boat Rentals, Dockage , Fishing, Food, Gift Shop, Hiking, Ice Skating, Museum/Vistor Center, Nature Trail, Picnic Tables, Playground, Playing Field(s), Pool, and X-Country Skiing.

We then drove for a birthday/fathers day BBQ.

Renewing Your U.S. Passport

New Passport PicsIt is that time, I need to renew my U.S. (well, I only have a U.S.) passport.

Step 1: Locate Your Most Recent Passport
Step 2: Go get passport pictures. I went to a local photo place that charged me $10, the post office also does it, but they charger $15 and are mostly only open Monday through Saturday.
Step 3: Go to travel.state.gov renewal form.
Step 4: Fill out Form DS-82 Online.

If you need to change your name because you recently got married you will need to supply a marriage certificate.

Step 5: Print form
Step 6: Sign Form
Step 7: Address large padded envelope to National Passport Processing, P.O. Box 13349, Philadelphia, PA 19101-3349.
Step 8: Place form, two new photos, old passport and a $67 check made out to the U.S. Department of State.
Step 9: Place in mailbox.

My new photos, as you can see above, kind of make me look scary - not being shaved and all. Typically, you want to take these photos when you are looking as normal as possible.

June 15, 2007

Big Flag Falling Off GW Bridge?

Remember the huge flag on the GW Bridge?

So I drove by yesterday, with my new camera and decided to take a picture while in traffic.

Flag on George Washington Bridge

To my surprise, on the way back, it looked like the flag was going to fall down or be taken off the George Washington Bridge. I had my wife snap a picture on her phone (since the camera wasn't easily accessible and there was no traffic).

Flag on George Washington Bridge

I suspect they were fixing it or taking it down.

But kinda made me look twice.

June 11, 2007

To St. Louis & Back in 12 Hours

Yesterday, I had to unfortunately fly to St. Louis last minute. Late Friday afternoon, I got word from my wife that her grandfather passed away. Although the passing was expected, one is truly never fully ready for such an event. I won't talk more about the funeral, because some things are best kept private in some situations.

My brother-in-law, the same one who mistakenly thought "The Algorithm" was Google, booked the flights. He booked his flight and my flight on the same schedule.

The whole immediate family in New York flew in to St. Louis on a Sunday morning flight at 7:55am. The funeral was early afternoon. The funeral was over at about 3pm. On the way back from the funeral, we looked up the next flight out. It was at 4:10pm. Our flight was scheduled for 7:20pm. So we decided to go to the airport and see if we can get on the 4:10pm flight. Why? Well, it was raining and there was a chance that we would not make it back at all that night. Just my brother-in-law and I were scheduled to fly out that night. When we got back from the funeral, there were tons of people in the house. One of the people offered to drive us to the airport, so my brother-in-law, my wife (who came for the ride) and I took off to the airport.

We arrived at the airport about 3:40pm, asked the lady if it looks good for standby on the 4:10. She said, there are about 25 seats open, so it looks good. We got to the gate after going through security (I picked up some geek travel tips) and the guy at the gate said it should be no problem. Ten minutes later, he called folks on standby and we got on.

Now get this....

We ask for a seat together, they give us the first row behind first class. Row 7. In addition, there was no person between us in the 3 row seat. Wonderful seats. I am not done.... Typically, if you are sitting in the higher rows, your "Group Number," the numbers they call when they board you, is the last one. So folks in the back of the plane have group number one, while folks in the front of the plane have group number six. We actually got group number one.

People are walking by me while I sit in row 7, and I feel like I cheated them. I always wonder how so many people get on before me, and are sitting so far upfront, when I should be in a higher group number. Now I was one of them!

In any event, it was a nice flight. Seats were excellent. Landed at 7:30pm as opposed to 11pm (which rocked). This was my first flight where I went and came in under 12 hours. Had a nice conversation with my brother-in-law. And the drive back was pretty decent.

All of this in light of a sad day.

June 6, 2007

Camera Being Fixed With Three Days to Spare

Canon SD 500 BackRemember I posted after I got to the SMX conference that I Broke My Camera Again!?

That is the second time I broke the LCD, the first time was during my Israel trip.

So I checked the purchase date, and by three whole days, I am still under warranty.

So I brought up my old blog entry and reviewed what I did then to get the camera fixed for free. I replicated it and I was told that the repair is estimated to cost me nothing. Whoo hoo.

So I just mailed it to the repair shop and hopefully, it will come back new - for free.

Next time I break it, I will either have to pay for a new one or pay for it to be fixed. So, moral from the story, since I am not such a quick learner, be careful!

I am Wearing Same Clothing From Yesterday

So as you know I landed in EWR from SEA this morning at 6ish. It was a red eye. I decided to go direct to work, even though I was unable to sleep on the plane.

I just realized that means I haven't changed any of my clothing for almost two days. I am here until around 5pm, so it is a while.

Proof?

This is from today, just a few minutes ago (took picture of myself):
Barry Schwartz Wearing Same Shirt

This is from yesterday in Seattle:
Barry Schwartz & Danny Sullivan at SMX


I feel like I need a shower, and then a nap.

Landed at EWR, Drove from EWR to Suffern, In Office at 7:30am

Phew, I am back. Seems like just a few hours ago I was in SEA airport. Anyway, the red eye went well. Only about 10 minutes late at the end.

Did not sleep, I seriously need to learn how to sleep on planes.

We landed 15 after 6, had to wait to pull to the gate, had to wait for the doors to be opened (something was wrong).

I picked up my car on the 3rd floor and row 9 and then had to wait at the parking toll booths.

Finally got onto the highway and ended up at the office at about 7:30am.

Catching up on a few things. I scheduled several posts to go live on the various blogs today but I need to do some more.

Oh, check out the DDay theme for the Search Engine Roundtable, here is a preview.

Dday Theme for Search Engine Roundtable

June 5, 2007

Weird Things at Seattle-Tacoma SEA Airport

Strange Things at Seattle-Tacoma SEA AirportNow, Tamar and I are sitting in the Seattle/Tacoma International Airport (SEA) - Continental Presidents Club, which is tiny compared to the Newark version. We wrote several posts for the Search Engine Roundtable and scheduled them for tomorrow and then I posted a few more at Search Engine Land. Caught up on some email and misc emails. So now I thought I share some SEA weirdness with you...

So we went through security, which is a whole process for a geek and my bag got called out.

So the person inspecting the bags as they go through the xray machine asked for a "bag check." As the bag check lady came over, she seemed disinterested. She took my bag and said she has to inspect it. So I made a comment that it went through EWR no problem. She said, don't worry about it. She then said the xray machine operator is a nut and is driving her crazy. I am on her side, the line I was on was crazy slow - she basically called the inspector over for every four bags. That would drive anyone nuts.

Tamar and I got a chuckle out of that. Of course, I said that this is blog material - hence it is here.

That is the first weird thing. The next one happened as we were sitting in the club. A man walked in with ear phones. He then began singing the songs he was listening to. Don't believe me? See Tamar's twitter about it. He then stopped after Tamar twittered it, so I thought maybe he was on Twitter, but I guess not. He does it randomly now. So that was that.

This reminds me of another weird story from the Vegas airport, I believe about two years ago. Some security guard stopped me after going through the security check. He asked me if he can ask me a question. I said sure, since I was not in any rush. He asked me my thoughts on the Middle East Crisis between Israel and the surrounding countries. I was wearing my Kippah and it was obvious I was Jewish, and he admitted that he asked me because I was Jewish. So after we went through the Jewish thing, I said something to the effect of - "I am Jewish, what do you think I feel about it." He then agreed with me about that statement and that was all. I mean, I told him I don't like to talk about politics - so we left it at that.

There are some airport stories for you.

June 4, 2007

Broke My Camera Again!

Canon SD 500 BackI am so upset. I broke my camera again. It must have got kicked when on the plane.

It is a solid camera, but this is the second time I broke it. What happened was something smashed against the LCD screen. So I can't preview or see images I have just taken. I can still take pictures, but the preview is something I got accustomed to.

Last time Canon fixed it for me for free. But they did it as a one time courtesy. I doubt they will do it again.

How did this happen. I put my camera in a very padded camera bag on the side of my RustyBrick bag. I think the camera USB cable is in that bag and was pressing up against the LCD screen. When the bag was on the airplane, I suspect it got hit and the USB cable pressed up even harder into the LCD, cracking the inside of the screen - rendering it useless.


Just bummed about it.

June 1, 2007

Checklist For SMX Conference Monday & Tuesday

smx_advanced-seattle.gifI love traveling and this Sunday night I am taking a flight from New York to Seattle for the SMX Advanced conference.

I thought I come up with a checklist of things I need to do before, during and after the flight:

Saturday Night:
- Go through emails for an hour (starting after 9pm)
- Go to RustyBrick
- Do RustyBrick month end billing (takes an hour)
- Get deposits ready for Ronnie (ten minutes)
- Pay consultants
- File away mail and pay any bills
- Clean up desk

Sunday Morning:
- Go through emails
- Go to RustyBrick
- Print SMX related papers; e-ticket, hotel reservations, agenda, party list, meeting list, etc.
- Put on away message only for voicemail
- Pack up necessary computer tools
- Organize office one more time (I like it clean when I leave for conference)

Sunday Afternoon:
- Go through emails (well, I do this all day, all the time)
- Take apart bbq grill
- Bring bbq grill to parents
- Put together bbq grill
- Pack frozen kosher meals
- Pack bread and snacks
- Pack a shirt
- Pack a pair of pants
- Pack under necessities
- Pack mobile toothbrush, mobile floss, mobile listerine, mobile toothpaste, etc.
- Don't forget mobile brush
- Shave!
- Make sure I packed everything (I am sure I am forgetting stuff now)
- Finish all this within 2.5 minutes

Sunday Evening
- Drive to airport and park
- Go through security (only a carry on)
- Go to continental presidential lounge thing
- Find Tamar and invite her to join
- Blog about nothing from the lounge
- Wait for flight
- Board
- Try to sleep and not
- Land
- Eject from plane
- Call Wife
- Get taxi with Tamar to hotel
- Checkin
- Shower
- Sleep

Monday Morning:
- ....

Monday Conference:
-

Monday Night:
-

Tuesday Morning:
-

Tuesday Conference:
-

Tuesday Night:
- Take Red Eye

Wednesday Morning
- Drive 1 hour to office at 6am to work a full day

I'll have to update this list as I go...

May 31, 2007

Got Me a Whistler Radar Detector from Woot

Whistler Radar Detector DE-1770S18Last night I bought a Whistler Radar Detector from Woot. I always wanted a radar detector.

The last time I got a speeding ticket was my trip to Google NYC - thanks Vanessa (just kidding).

But that ticket set me back over $200. So investing $50 in a radar detector, may be a good idea? I know, it won't help with non-moving violations but can be helpful for the Palisades Parkway.

I know it is not 100% but I'll take any advantage. I also believe they are illegal in the great state of CT?

Feature set for this puppy:
- All Band Protection – detects all radar, laser and safety radar systems including the Safety Warning System.
- Selectable All Band – user can delete one or all of the laser/radar bands.
- 360° Total Perimeter Protection – detects signals wherever they come from – no gaps in your protection.
- VG-2 Cloaking Technology – alerts you to the presence of VG-2 police surveillance.
- NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) – receives all seven (7) of the NWR radio channels to warn you of inclement weather conditions
- Easy-to-Understand Real Voice – keeps you informed and allows you to keep your eyes on the road ahead.
- High Visibility Text Display – provides over 60 easy-to-read messages.
- Vehicle Battery Saver – automatically shuts off your detector if you forget.
- Laser wavelength: 905 +/- 10 nanometers
- Radar frequencies: 10.5 - 10.55 GHz (X-band), 24.05 - 24.25 (K Band), 33.4 - 36 GHz (Ka Superwideband)
- NOAA frequencies: 162.4 - 162.55 MHz

May 29, 2007

George Washington Bridge Sporting Huge USA Flag

Yesterday, I drove over the George Washington Bridge to get to Manhattan and there was this huge American Flag.

Huge American Flag on George Washington Bridge

The picture I took, which was on the way back, did not do justice. It was windy, so you didn't see the flag in full length. It is huge.

Oh, No Taking Pictures on George Washington Bridge, forgot. :-(

May 4, 2007

I Hate Traveling

Funny, I travel fairly often. On average, probably once a month. Today was I had a pretty bad experience. Continued from my amex story, here it is.

So we got to the airport a bit late, but did not miss the flight yet...

- Ticket agent told us that we have to go on standby for the next flight because we have to "fly with our bags." I said, are you sure? We can catch this flight (we had 30 minutes to get to the gate) and have our bags go on the next flight. She said, no - you have to fly with your bags.
- Booked us on standby for next flight
- Spent time in continental suite
- That flight didn't take us, it was way over booked and so was the next one
- We go to ticket counter and they tell us our bags went on the flight! They said they should not have put our bags on that flight.
- They book us on an American Airline flight to Chicago that takes of in 20 minutes
- We run to AA to get our tickets
- AA tells us there is no reservation for us
- I go back to continental, they say they put it through
- I go back to AA, no record of it
- I go back to continental, they said they sent it again and this time on a later flight
- I go back to AA, no record of it
- I go back to continental, they push it through again
- I go back to AA, no record of it
- Now two continental agents are helping us, one stands by AA the other keeps trying to send the tickets to AA
- After an hour it works, we have tickets on a 1:55 flight to Chicago
- Flight is delayed to 2:25
- We go through security
- We were both selected to be hand searched (not kidding)
- We then get through security and go to gate
- We try to change our tickets to sit next to each other (no luck)
- I am now waiting at the Gate, no plane yet, hoping to take off at 2:25

That is my story.

Finally, AMEX Comes Through with Continental Suite

American Express Platinum CardI have been complaining and complaining about American Express and not reaping the rewards of the card.

Well, today, this morning, it came in handy.

I missed my flight due to someone getting hit by a car on the Garden State Parkway. It caused a 40 minute drive to take over 2 hours. We missed the flight by minutes. In any event, I hope the guy is OK, I heard he was taken to the hospital. When we passed the accident, there were like 5 cops there and two lanes were closed (of the three).

We got to the airport, they said we missed baggage checkin by minutes. So now my wife and I are on standby for the next flight, hope we make it.

During that time, we decided to try the Continental Presidential Suite. It is a reward one gets for being an AMEX platinum card holder. It worked, I am sitting here now. My wife is watching TV and drinking some fancy drink, while watching TV. I am on the free wifi, drinking coke and blogging away. This is a nice way to be on standby.

You see, I just don't complain on this blog. :)

May 2, 2007

The Truth on Credit Card Reward Programs

AMEX & Citi Card Travel Awards StinkI have been having issues using my rewards from my credit card companies. Some of you know I have been having problems reaping the rewards or getting discounts on flights with my two cards.

My pimp mile guy emailed me an article from SmartMoney.com named The Rewards Programs With the Most Bang for Your Buck.

In short, they go through a handful of rewards cards including the two I have (AMEX and Citi Elite).

In our number crunching, Citibank's Thank You Network came out ahead, with the highest per-point values in three of the five categories, and fair values in the other two. If you tend to go for a certain kind of reward, says Bilker, check out how your credit-card program stacks up against the competition. Applying for a new card? Before you sign up, ask the issuer to send you a copy of its latest rewards catalog.

OK, so I picked the right one. The AMEX card seems to have a great airline program. However, "they're next to impossible to redeem." "Because the airlines are so full [with paying customers], they don't want to give away those reward seats," says Tom Parsons.

Last night I signed up with Regus program on my AMEX. I will be in Chicago this weekend and I want to have a place I can go to work with high-speed internet and quiet. Hopefully it will work.

April 25, 2007

American Express & Citi Card Travel Companion Fare Rules Stink!

AMEX & Citi Card Travel Awards StinkI feel ripped off! I feel like AMEX is ripping me off again and I feel like the Citi Card I just got for the purpose of the companion fare for my flights is also ripping me off! Note this was based on my buddy's recommendation - big thanks! ;-)

I feel ripped off!

So I am booking some flights for my June journey, specifically for the SMX Seattle event and I got nothing! I am taking Tamar with me, to help with the coverage. This is the perfect opportunity for a companion ticket.

It mets all the criteria AMEX and Citi Card set forth. The tickets are $299 or more. They are domestic. I, the card holder, is flying. Etc.

I first call AMEX travel. I am redirected to the special companion fare booking team. I give them the preferred flights I want to go on. They first hang up on me after me holding for about 15 minutes (no worries, I did two blog entries in that time). I call back, then learn that that flight is blacked out for those times... The only possible alternative is for me to leave the next day at 9am and land at 5pm - what! miss a whole day! Not going to happen.

I call Citi Card travel. They are quick to respond, which is nice. But the flight to Seattle is not eligible since there is a flight with several top overs that is less than $299. Of course I asked, but I want a direct flight and there are no direct flights for less than $299. He said, you are right, but the requirements are for any flight, no matter stop overs. Good bye!

I tried everything I could think of.

So I feel ripped off!

I booked the two tickets on AMEX's web site for full fare.

I feel ripped off.

April 24, 2007

The E-Z Pass For Airports: Fly Clear

Fly ClearIn NY and other stats they have this device for your car that allows you to drive through toll booths without stopping your car to pay. In NY and NJ (and other states) it is called E-Z Pass and I love it.

What if you can have the same thing at airport security lines?

As reported at OhGizmo, Fly Clear is currently offering a special pass that kind of does that at select terminals.

Travelers who join the Clear® Registered Traveler program are pre-screened for security and provided with a biometric card which will allow them to pass through security faster, with more predictability and less hassle. Take the first step toward stress free travel today.

- You'll know that it'll take just a few minutes to get through security; no more worrying about unpredictably long lines.
- You'll enjoy a designated security lane with special benefits.
- You'll be helped by our attendants and concierges as you go through the Clear lane.
- You can use your Clear card at all US registered traveler airports at no additional cost.

Clear is fast, convenient and secure. As a Clear member, you'll be in control of your own time and your own schedule. Clear's first year price is $99.95 (includes a $28.00 TSA vetting fee). You can lock-in this rate by purchasing a two year membership for $199.90 or three years for $299.85.

Currently, the terminals that support it include; Orlando (MCO), New York JFK Term. 7, Indianapolis (IND), San José (SJC), and Cincinnati (CVG).

When this becomes more universal across the US, I may sign up for it.

Thanks Judah!

April 16, 2007

Digging Out - Much Better Over Weekend Vs. Friday

ShovelI always dread the day after a conference, coming back to the office with piles of things left for you to do.

  • Returning voicemails (I hate voicemails!)
  • Returning emails that had to wait until I got in the office
  • Going through mail
  • Handling billing things
  • Sending out proposals
  • And so on...

This year, SES NY, didn't turn out too well. It started on Passover. So I had to be away from the office for a full week. Sunday night through Friday afternoon. That is just killer! Even for a guy who is incredibly mobile equipped. I did cheat, I came into the office at nights and sometimes in the AM before heading to the conference (if I woke up early enough).

Typically, a conference like SES NY, starts on a Monday and ends on a Thursday afternoon. This time it started Tuesday and ended on Friday afternoon - most likely to give those who observe Passover, one more day.

So instead of coming back to the office on a Friday, you come back on a Monday.

I spoke to a few people about this and they all preferred coming back on a Monday. It gives them the weekend to recover from the late night parties and the conference and catching up on work.

In any event, even though I spent a lot of the weekend catching up. There are still things that must wait until the work week to follow up on.

April 5, 2007

The Morning After Pill For Flying

Achhhh....

Just got in from STL this AM. I actually parked my car in daily parking, which turned out to be a smart move.

In any event, waking up at 4:30am, getting on a flight to LGA that takes about two hours and landing in NY at about 9:15am is not much to complain about.

Heck, my brother is at his in-laws and for him to get back, it will take two planes, and a full day of traveling.

But there is this weird, tired, lagged feeling I get after flying. I just hate it.

Hope to recoup tonight.

April 1, 2007

Poor Tamar: Twitter Tells a Sad Tale of a Flight

Poor Twitter TamarPoor Tamar, aka SideKick. She began boarding the plan 3 hours ago. Then the plan was on its way 2 hours ago to only be held back.

An hour later Tamar Twitters that she is 40th to the departure. She twitters again 15 minutes later that she is allowed to use the phone since they have been on the tarmac for 1.5 hours!

About 40 minutes later, an other twitter comes from Tamar that she is still on the tarmac and extremely tired.

And now about 20 minutes later Tamar explains; "flight was going to land at 12:25...now at 2:25am.." ouch!

Good luck Tamar.... hope you make it to your destination tonight!

Not to rub it in, but my flight this morning was 25 minutes early.

Things You Notice While Driving to the Airport

I arrived at LGA and now I am sitting by the AA terminal, waiting for boarding time, which is in about 30 minutes. Those who track Twitter know that I was doing billing, payroll and other misc RustyBrick stuff last night until around midnight. When I got home, I had several things to do before my flight in the morning, the one I am waiting for now. For some reason, I couldn't sleep - so I feel a bit weird right now. As if I am not typing, but I know I am typing - blogger weirdness....

So as I connect via my treo over EVDO on my MacBook Pro I figured I tell you about my trip in.

I live in Rockland and I had to go to LGA this morning.

I leave Rockland, get on the NYS Thruway. There are like no other cars on the thruway, so the merge was incredibly easy - being that I was too tired to pay attention to up coming traffic - it worked out fairly well. I then merged onto the Palisades Parkway, to find myself worrying about cops. So I drove at a steady speed of (wont say) as I spot cop after cop hiding. I reach the George Washington Bridge tolls, where again, no traffic - because of it being Sunday. I cross over the bridge - I actually took note of the sunrise (how romantic). I being to pick up speed, I head over the Cross Bronx Expressway. I then spot a flashing lights ahead of me, two lanes blocked off. As I pass, I notice a Lexus LS with a smashed in hood and no other cars around it - besides for the tow truck and police car. I pass the accident, thinking - wow that must be expensive. I head onto the Triboro Bridge, nothing out of the ordinary. Get to LGA, park my car, and go to the airport.

Here I am.

People seem to be complaining that there is a booked flight. OK. I notice several other people that appear to be on this flight. But I keep typing as if I don't see them. The plane just arrived, they appear to be cleaning it. The pilot seems to be here. So I guess we board in 15 minutes or so.

I will be in St. Louis, yes the place with the The Largest Amoco Sign I Have Ever Seen, until Thursday morning. I will be off the Search Engine Roundtable Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning. Same with Search Engine Land and this blog.

Speak to you all when I land... Happy April 1!

January 30, 2007

Thank You Play65.com: Sweet Backgammon Set

The folks over at Play65.com (not sure if I can or should mention names) sent me a sweet backgammon set while I was away on my honeymoon. When I got back, it was waiting for me in my office. I used to play backgammon a lot when I spent a school year in Israel - I think Israeli's like the game. In any event, I printed out the game rules and I hope to play with my wife this weekend. I used to love this game. Here are pictures:

Play 65 Backgammon Set

Play 65 Backgammon Set

Thank you guys!

January 17, 2007

Woke Up At 4:00am

I got back yesterday, I tried my best to stay up as late as possible. My wife was sleeping by 7:45, once she was out, I think I was out 30 minutes later.

So I woke up at 4am. I was able to go back to sleep.

But I am worried that I will be zonked for my 9pm basketball game tonight.

We will see.

January 16, 2007

Back in New York from Honeymoon

We arrived at Newark about 45 minutes later than expected. It was almost a 13 hour flight from Israel to NY. We landed at around 5:30am, finally got bags and into service at about 6:30am and then got home at 7:15am. Quick shower and some misc things and I got into the office about 8:00ish.

Now I have to go through tons of mail, and some email (since I replied to most emails while away). I will do some blog posts at SER and catch up on SEL.

Tomorrow, I hope to be back to normal.

I hope to stay up as late as possible today, to try to knock out any possible jet lag.

January 15, 2007

Ben Gurion Airport - Free WiFi

I like when airports have free wifi, Israel's new Ben Gurion Airport has free Wifi. I like Ben Gurion Airport.

Just a post to say I am here at Ben Gurion Airport with free Wifi. :)

The new airport is really nice.

I am typing like a two year old.

See you in NY!

Yad Vashem - Our Last Day in Israel During Honeymoon

My wife and I decided to visit Yad Vashem our last day in Israel. Yad Vashem is one of the most famous Holocaust museums in the world. I last visited Yad Vashem probably about 8 years ago. They have totally renovated the place.

There is not much I can say about Yad Vashem. It is an amazing place and it is horrific to see and hear the stories.

Afterwards, we said farewell to the Kotel, I prayed afternoon services there. They were inducting new Israeli soldiers into the army there, well, they were prepping for the ceremony. We then walked to Geula, said goodbye to my brother who works in that area and then back to the hotel for dinner and packing.

Next stop, Ben Gurion Airport (Tel Aviv), to New York. I should be back, nice and jet lagged, tomorrow morning.

January 13, 2007

Jerusaelm Biblical Zoo

Friday morning we went to the Jerusaelm Biblical Zoo, Wiki Entry... Here are some fun photos I thought I share with you all...

As we walked in, this monkey was watching new visitors enter the Zoo...

Bibllical Zoo - Jerusalem

I caught this bird eyeing me...

Israel Bibllical Zoo

My wife then felt this picture would be appropriate, yes it is a mule...

Israel Bibllical Zoo

This baby monkey was staring back at the kid through the window...

Israel Bibllical Zoo

After the Zoo we went to my brother and sister-in-law for the weekend. I am here now writing this...

January 11, 2007

Mini Israel in Israel Is Cool

So my wife and I decided to go to Mini Israel today. It is basically a mini golf course, but a miniature sized Israel. If you come to Israel and don't have time to see much, go there, and you can see everything. It is amazing how real everything looks. For example...

Yesterday we went to Tel Aviv and I saw a nice looking building by the water named Opera Tower. I took a picture... Then at Mini Israel, we saw the same tower in the Tel Aviv section. Take a look...

real.jpg fake.jpg


The one on the left is obviously real.

In any event, I will be taking a picture of the kotel, from this view, so you can see the difference from the same view.... hopefully I'll do this Sunday...

Kotel - Mini Israel

January 10, 2007

Meeting a Client in Israel (Buky Schwartz Picture)

So I was meeting a client in Israel, Tel Aviv, this afternoon. They are named American Israel Cultural Foundation, they basically give scholarships to talented musicians and artists in Israel and abroad. So I went there to meet with the Israeli team, they have a NYC office as well, and pick up some more documentation for the project...

I was sitting waiting for the meeting to begin and notice the painting behind me was done by "Buky Schwartz."

Barry at AICF Tel Aviv Office

So I had my wife take a picture. I thought that was funny. Seems like Mr. B. Schwartz is a famous artist. Check him out at BukySchwartz.com.

Anyway, very nice area, the beach is right there. Maybe I can convince Danny to throw a search conference in Tel Aviv?

January 9, 2007

Israel's "Danger of Death" Signs

We woke up very early this morning, but went to sleep very early last night --- time zone thing takes time to get used to, as you can image... We had a nice breakfast buffet - something I was looking forward to, since I normally cannot appreciate that in the States (i.e. Kosher).

We then walked to town again, and bought presents for all our nieces and nephews. I wanted to get these bouncing, ceiling, penguins, but my wife stopped me... We did also buy my nephew Naot leather clogs, looks like this, he asked for them...

We then went back to the hotel and then went off to meet my wife's best friend some where for lunch. I think it was called Cafit. Her friend is in medical school, in Haifa - she came down to visit us, very nice of her.

On the way to the lunch place, we passed this sign, which I thought was funny.

Danger of Death - Israel Sign

Yes, it says, "Danger of Death", full size image here.

After lunch, the three of us met my brother in Geula, where we bought some art for our home, at a small store in Geula. We bought two pieces - all I have to say is, thank you Viv! I am not good at, "Do you like this?"

We then went up to the place my brother now teaches, and the place I spent half my school year in Israel at. After that, we said goodbye to Yisha's friend, she got on a bus back to Haifa. I showed my wife around Geula a bit more and then we went back to the hotel.

Soon we go out with my best friend, who also lives in Israel. Dinner with his wife, (possibly his kids), and us.

January 8, 2007

Long Walk Back - With Interesting Attempted Scam by Woman

So we decided to walk back to the hotel the long way... We went back through the old city, through Jaffa Gate, then up through Ben Yehuda street, then a left on King George street.

Besides for the good exercise...

We met a woman on King George who told us that she locked her keys in her car and needs to pay a locksmith to open it up. She said she can't get her money, because she cant get into her house. She said she was being a 100% honest.

I replied, I don't believe you and walked away.

When that happens, you call a cop or you tell the locksmith you will pay him when he opens the car, so you can get your money.

This woman was obviously preying on tourists... such a same to see. No pics taken of these events. :)

Visiting The Kotel - Western Wall

After showing my wife some of the hidden places I knew about the old city, we walked down to the Kotel (aka Western Wall). As we walked down the Israeli stone stairs, I snapped a picture of Israeli soldiers leaving the Kotel.

Soliders Marching at Kotel

Then I took this picture of the Kotel from those stairs...

The Kotel

After going through security, my wife took this picture of me. We did not take pictures directly next to the wall, it is not polite to disturb the prayers by snapping images of individuals praying. Although some people are there with cameras and video cameras, literally in people's faces (I felt bad).

Barry at the Kotel

Yea, I am squinting because I am tired...

My Old Soccer Field Paved Over

It seems like they paves over my old soccer field, the one I played in like 8 years ago, when I spent the school year in Israel. For half of that year, I lived in the Old City. In the old city, there isn't much grass. Now there is less...

Barry's Old Soccer Field in Old City

After Checking In at Hotel, We Go Grab a Bite at Cup O' Joe

So after we check into the hotel, we walked across the street to grab a bit at this lunch place named Cup O' Joe. When we were about to walk in, there is a security guard checking people. So my wife had her bag with her and he had to check it out before letting us in. I snapped a picture of the guy while we were eating.

Security Guard at Cafe Joe

Yea, that is life in Israel. Every store you walk into, every building, etc. has a security guard. Well not every one, but lots.

Oh, the food wasn't too bad. I think I was to tired to taste it.

In Israel - At Hotel - So Tired

Our flight was filled with college kids, on group tours to Israel. We were placed right smack in the middle of them during the flight. So no sleep at all the whole 10 hours. We arrived at 6am (Israel time), leaving NY 1:30PM (EST). My wife and I are so tired.

My brother picked us up from the airport and dropped us off at the hotel.

I jumped on the computer to download emails. And now I am writing this...

I can barely type normally...

More later...

January 7, 2007

Waiting In EL AL Terminal - Check Out This 747

So as you know, my wife and I are on our way to Israel for our Honeymoon and that means we need to take a huge jet to get to Israel. We booked with EL AL a while back. We are on the double decker, 747. Here is a picture of the plane from the terminal window...

El Al Plane - Prior To Departure

Now, I have taken the 747 before. Once, when I was about 18 years old, I was flying home from Israel. When checking in, I asked the person at the counter, issuing tickets, if we (my brother and I) can have good seats. She said sure.

To my surprise, when boarding, they sent me upstairs, to business class.

Now that is the way to fly for a 10 plus hour trip.

This trip, we have normal tickets, did not get upgraded. But as of now, the seat next to us (3 in our aisle row) is open, so we are hoping for that to be open. If not, not.

Anyway, next post will likely come when we land in Israel.

January 5, 2007

Going On Honeymoon

190861809_abaaaee750_m.jpgMy wife are now married around 7 months and we are going to be going on our honeymoon. I will be away for about ten days. I posted a programming note with Search Engine Roundtable coverage schedule for the next ten days or so.

I actually hope to post stories and pictures here during the honeymoon. We will be in Israel, Jerusalem, specifically, for most the trip. But I do have plans to meet with clients and possibly visit Google's office (if time allows) while in Tel Aviv. Both my wife and I have family and friends in Israel, and we hope to connect with most of them.

Last time I was in Israel was after SES Sweden in late October 2004. I actually flew to Sweden, from NY to Denmark, then stayed in Sweden overnight for the two day conference. I then flew from Sweden to Denmark, to London, to Israel. I stayed in Israel for the weekend. I then took a direct flight back from Israel to New York. I can tell you, I was so tired after all that flying.

This trip will be more relaxing, just two flight, both direct. It is still a long flight, but direct is nice.

Before my October 2004 trip, I was in Israel twice before. Once for another brief visit. But I did spend a school year in Israel, after I completed high-school, but before college. For half of the school year, I spent my time in the Old City the remainder of the year, I spent my time in in Jerusalem still but in a area named Geula.

So it will be nice taking a break. I am a bit nervous about leaving everything here, just my nature but I will try to relax about it. I am sure I will enjoy the trip, it will be fun and the best is my wife gets me to herself (except for two hours per day of Internet) for the whole trip.

December 27, 2006

Cool New Interactive Map Of Israel

Gary Price spotted that the Jerusalem Post has launched a new interactive map of Israel.

It is very cool, in that you can mouse over areas, it scrolls up and down, you can click to drill down deeper, you can click on landmarks to get more details about them, and during this, they have trains, planes and cars moving on the map (not real stuff, but animated).

Typical of this, is that the map of Israel page shows a URL on the page of http://maps.jpost.com/ but when you try accessing it via that URL, it takes you no where.

Jewish Quarter Jerusalem Map

The map is powered by Eye on Israel.

In any event, my wife may like this, since we are off to Israel in a couple weeks or so.

December 4, 2006

Nice Kosher Restaurant in Chicago Kinda; Shallot's Bistro

After we came in to Chicago, we went out with my wife's friends for dinner. Believe it or not, there is not a single kosher restaurant in downtown Chicago. The closest place is about 30 minutes away, in the Jewish area of Chicago (around Skokie). In any event, they picked us up from the hotel and drove us back to eat out.

We took them to Shallot's Bistro. It was really good, I was very impressed. The portion size was huge for a fancy place. The atmosphere was very nice. The service was good. Overall, I was very happy. So much so, that I want to go back again while I am here. But with the crazy schedule, going that far, just may not be possible.

So I called and asked if they deliver to downtown Chicago. To my surprise they said yes, just try to give them enough time to prepare and order a service to drop it off, so call early.

I hope to call tomorrow to get for Wednesday night in the hotel. Very excited for it.

But can someone please open a kosher pizza place in downtown Chicago? This is not San Jose, there are plenty of Jewish people in town, I would think...

December 3, 2006

Smiths Sentinel II at Newark Airport

Smiths Sentinel II Newark AirportI am currently at Newark Airport, just past through security, on my way to Chicago to get to the SES show. And they had these new detection machines, I have never been through one. The machine is named Smiths Sentinel II. They seem to be new at Newark Airport, according to the TSA person.

This is how it works.

You walk in, there is this bar that comes down in front of you, to make sure you don't step forward (like that will stop you). There are two feet imprints, where you are suppose to stand. Then it sprays bolts of air at you, scans you in many different ways. Then it tells you, to exit forward.

There are all these cool lights and stuff around the machine and in the machine. Very cool stuff.

The Smiths Detection site explains;

The IONSCAN® SENTINEL II Contraband Detection Portal has been designed specifically to meet the challenge of screening people for trace amounts of explosives or narcotics in a timely fashion, and without coming into contact with them.

One thing for sure, it makes you feel safer.

November 17, 2006

Flight Back from Vegas to New York

I figured, since I wrote about my experience flying to Vegas I thought I share my trip back. I got to the airport about 1.5 hours prior to my scheduled departure time. I got through security and walked to the Continental desk and asked if they have any earlier flights to NY, being that my flight was already delayed. She said, actually, yes, that line of people are all boarding now, they were delayed. So she got me on that plane. I didn't have time to blog from the airport, since I had to board right away. I wanted to post SEW headlines and stuff, so now I am way behind.

I got a seat in the 14th isle, exit row. I waited for them to call my row and then boarded the plane. I get on and see the whole plane is packed, and that there are no overhead compartments available by my seat. So I walk back about 7 aisles and put my bag up there.

Then a woman gets on and she was sitting next to me. She had to put her bags back 7 aisles as well, but she was pretty upset about it. In any event, after trying to stuff her bags under her chair (there was no way it would fit) she gave up and put her bag in the back. She sits down and I told her how I was lucky, I caught this delayed flight, so I should be in early. She said, how did I get an exit row, when she asked for one, they told her none were available. Now obviously, since I got my ticket while boarding the plane, there was an exit row available. So she was a bit mad at me, but it wasn't my fault - so I didn't take it personally.

We take off and climb into the air. Oh, during this, the VP of LivePerson is chatting with me. He is a frum Jewish guy, he started HumanClick in the US and LivePerson bought him, nice guy. The seatbelt light goes off, people get up to get their stuff. You know how things shift in the overhead compartments during take off and landing? Well they do. Some guy opens the compartment over my head, and bam, a thing hits me and the woman next to me (the woman who I stole her seat) on our heads. She, wasn't happy, I ignored it even happened.

The movie starts, I try to plug my headset into the jack, but something is blocking it. I assume some kid stuck something in the holes. But I was able to hear the sound if I held the plug into the jack at an angle. So I sat the next five hours or so, holding my headset into the jack.

Fast forward 5 hours, we are about to land. But then the pilot says, they put us in a holding pattern. Two minutes later, we are back, we should land soon. We land, and roll to the gate.

Now, I see the woman on my left antsy to get up and get her bag. She asks me to get up before we hit the gate and before the seatbelt sign is turned off. I grant her wish and she gets yelled at by the flight attendants. But then this woman from the back of the plane keeps coming forward, she is an older lady, dancing in the aisle saying, "I got to pee, I got to pee." The flight attendants yell at her also, and the passengers all clap, after she is forced to sit. I kinda felt bad for her, but she was warned by the pilot to pee before landing.

Anyway, we pull to the gate, seatbelt light goes off and the woman on my left, jets to her bags. That is the last I saw of her, hope she made it out. The woman who had to pee, kept dancing and some people let her through. I hope she made it as well.

I waited until I was able to get 7 aisles back to get my bag.

I caught my car service and drove the hour or so home. I went to sleep about 2am.

Got a lot to catch up on....

November 16, 2006

Suspicious Pictures From Hugh Hefner's Vegas Suit in Palms Hotel

As I reported at the Search Engine Roundtable, Yahoo! Rents Out Hugh Hefner's Sky Villa in Palms Hotel but what really happened? Here is a run down of some candid images I took of some people who attended this event.

So I enter the suite:

WebmasterWorld PubCon Vegas 2006

I walk upstairs and find Rand cheating on his girlfriend!

WebmasterWorld PubCon Vegas 2006

But then he gets me and Andrew to jump on the bed with him, so I figure, he is not cheating on his girlfriend, he just wants to create some link bait...

WebmasterWorld PubCon Vegas 2006

But then I walk into the massage room and see him in this position!

WebmasterWorld PubCon Vegas 2006

Dirty dirty dirty Rand! You better clean off in Hugh's shower!

WebmasterWorld PubCon Vegas 2006

So then I walk back down the stairs, a bit stunned from what I experienced upstairs...

WebmasterWorld PubCon Vegas 2006

And I see ShoeMoney staring at one of the attractive looking bartenders. Shoe! You're married!

WebmasterWorld PubCon Vegas 2006

Nah, he was checking out the beer he was getting.

I have more pictures at Flickr, too funny.

November 14, 2006

The Seat Back on the Airplane

So a lot of traveling posts over the past 24 hours... We finally got on the plane last night and I got my seat, the second we take off, the guy in front of me slams his seat back into me. I had zero room to take out my computer, and I really wanted to play Halo. So, what I did was take my computer, fold it most of the way, and opened it like a V, so the base of the computer was up in the air. Kinda like < but slanted up. I played about an hour of Halo until it got too annoying to play.

I just don't understand it. Why can't the person look back and ask if they can place their seat back. I would have said, of course, but not to ask, not to look? I would never.

November 13, 2006

Do You Say; "Have a Safe Flight" To a Pilot?

So I am still here in the airport and a pilot was sitting next to me. He was complaining that the speed of the airport wifi was too slow, I showed him the speed of my connection....

In any event, he was flying to Scotland and he was packing up.

I was wondering, as he was packing up, if I say, "have a safe flight," to this pilot.

I mean, he is the one flying the plane and maybe, he would be insulted if I said that.

On the other hand, I wouldn't be insulted if someone told me to drive carefully, before I drove somewhere.

Gary Price and I are IMing and he suggested I just say, "have a good trip." :-)

Eating Kosher at Search Conferences

krestlogo.gifMost of you know, I am all over all the search marketing conferences. From SES San Jose to SES New York and SES Latino all the way to WebmasterWorld's PubCon Vegas. Heck, I even went to SES Sweden in 2004. But often, the places I go, do not have kosher food available or nearby.

That is typically why, the only times you see me going out for dinner with folks is in NYC. Chris Boggs, invited me out for dinner in Las Vegas (yes, they have a few kosher places) but it is typically sometimes easier for me to bring frozen meals and eat in the room.

So for Vegas, I bought some meals to go, and stuffed them in my carry on. I typically go with Noah's Ark travel meals but since it is in Teaneck, NJ, it takes me about 30 minutes to pick up those meals. But local place named Meal Mart has a similar deal, in fact, they have a web site named Kosher Meals To Go. So I walked into the store and they packaged, fresh for me, two Grilled Chicken Breast meals for me, with two sides of potatoes.

So I have two meals for the road, frozen, now sitting in my carry on, in my car, for the trip.

What is all this Kosher stuff? I didn't confirm everything the Wikipedia had to say, but you can read about it there.

And if you are looking for kosher places to eat, I highly recommend Shamash.org.

November 6, 2006

Google New York Has Free Kosher Food (OU) & More

Friday, I was invited to meet with Vanessa Fox at Google New York. I wrote about some about My Experience at Google New York with Vanessa Fox at SER. But here are a few things I left out...

(1) It took about 15 minutes to sign in at the ground lobby to get in to Google's lobby. I felt bad, there was a long line behind me. And since Vanessa is based in Seattle, the security guy did not know how to reach her. So I gave him her cell phone number, but it was long distance, so he wasn't allowed to call. He suggested I call from my cell. Hmm... what if I called a friend and it wasn't Vanessa? Whoo hooo, free access to Google!

(2) Google has Kosher Food for the NY Googlers who are orthodox Jews. That is a nice plus! The food looked tasty, but I wasn't hungry, so I didn't take a meal. I did take a water, which I spilled on myself.

(3) They have phone booths throughout the layout. I asked Vanessa what that was about, she explained that since Google has such an open layout, if you want to have a quiet phone call, it is hard. So they design phone stations, where you can talk in peace.

(4) I wasn't allowed to take pictures of a bunch of things, including meetings, white boards, people, some special rooms and so on.

(5) I was shown a cool usability lab, both sides. You know, the room the subject is sitting in and then the other room behind the one way mirror where you laugh at the subject (just kidding, no one laughed at anyone).

Here are my three pictures from the event.

www.flickr.com
rustybrick's photos tagged with googlenyc More of rustybrick's photos tagged with googlenyc

November 2, 2006

Flying to Israel: $40! Not!

israir.pngMy wife and I are flying to Israel for a week vacation/business trip in early January. We already booked our flights on El Al, which is what most people do when they fly to Israel. You can also fly with other airlines, such as Continental and a new one named Israir. Anyway, my wife forwarded me this PDF sales flyer from Israir that said they have a 40 hour sale, for "Jerusalem's 40 year of celebration" where a one way flight to Tel Aviv is $40 from New York. Now, a round trip from NY To TLV is normally anywhere between $750 to $1,500 depending on the season.

The deal with this promotion is that it is $40 for one way, but you need to buy a round trip ticket. So I wonder how much it is for you to get back to NY? :-)

October 30, 2006

St. Louis Most Dangerous City In The U.S.

St Louis ArchBloomberg reports that St. Louis, the birth city of my wife and the home of my in-laws, is the most dangerous city in the United States of America.

The Missouri city topped a list of 371 metropolitan areas in an assessment of 2005 FBI statistics for murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft.

What is most upsetting is the rate of change in crime seen in St. Louis.

The Midwest experienced the steepest increase in violent crime, 5.7 percent, in the U.S. in 2005, according to FBI figures released in June. The murder rate in St. Louis jumped 16 percent compared to 4.8 percent nationally.

To me, it always seemed like such a nice and friendly place. Maybe since I don't spend my time downtown?

October 27, 2006

Pictures From Yahoo! From "Influencer Day"

Barry at YahooYahoo!, the Search Marketing and Publisher Network team, wrote about the time I and the crew spent over at Yahoo!'s Burbank office. I wrote about it at:

- Yahoo! Announced Panama Launch via SER
- Day Two at Yahoo! Publisher Network via SER
- Yahoo Releases New Search Advertising System via SEW
- Shwag From Yahoo! Search Marketing via Cartoon Barry
- Yahoo! Treated Us So Well - Thank You via Cartoon Barry

All the pictures from Yahoo! are posted in this Influencer Day, 10/16 Set at Flickr.

Thanks for the link YPN!

Notes about that picture: (1) Forgot my shaver, (2) Pretended to smile, (3) Was tired.

October 18, 2006

Yahoo! Treated Us So Well - Thank You

yahoo-search-marketing-1018.gifSo you all know I went to Yahoo! Monday and Tuesday. Heck, they gave me all this great Yahoo! shwag but it is important for me to tell you how wonderful they treated us. Let me break it down for you...

Pre-Trip:
- Ask if I am interested in going and what dates work best
- Follow up to make sure I am still interested
- Ask what is the best time for me to leave and come back
- They provide booking options from a few airports
- They provide a detailed schedule from point A to point B emailed several days prior to leaving

The Trip:
- I land in LAX
- Driver is waiting to take me to Yahoo!'s headquarters
- The receptionist is expecting me and calls over Yahoo! rep
- Yahoo! rep and a few other Yahoo! reps welcome me
- They take me to a conference room and other Yahoo! reps great me
- They give me great Yahoo! shwag
- They help me get Internet connection (stealing an ethernet port from an open computer)
- I have full access to Yahoo!'s network (ouch!)
- They bring in glatt kosher food for me at lunch
- Plenty of caffeine throughout the day
- They have a limo waiting for us to take us to the hotel
- The beautiful and comfortable Graciela Burbank hotel was outstanding
- They invite us to a sweet and expensive restaurant for dinner (i didn't go)
- After dinner, they went bowling
- I spent $30 for a 10oz Diet Coke and bag of pretzels
- I realized there was a super market next door
- Limo waiting for us in AM to take us back to Yahoo
- We are greeted again by receptionist
- Yahoo! feeds us again
- We go to new room and we get net access (sharing ethernet cables)
- Feed us again
- Give out more YPN invites
- Give us invites to a party coming up
- Driver waiting to take me back to LAX
- Flight on time

They treated us so well. I am not sure if I am allows to mention names here. But a huge thank you to all at Yahoo! You treated us all so well and we appreciate it. I cannot imagine how much time and effort you put into this. But it definitely shows.

I just feel bad walking around at Yahoo! all day with the Ask.com Timbuk2 bag. Towards the end of the meet, I got smart and placed my "Yahoo! Passport" entry card on top of the Ask.com logo. I still love you Ask, dont worry, just being respectful. :)

Thank you Yahoo!

Flight Delayed Then Back on Schedule

continentalLogo.gifSo yesterday I was flying back from Yahoo and while still at Yahoo! I got a TripAlert notification from Continental that my flight was delayed from 3:40pm to 6:05pm. It seriously bummed me out, because it meant I would not land until about 2am in the morning, instead of about 12 midnight.

In any event, I go to the airport after the Yahoo! thing ends, and while I am about to walk through the security check point I get an other email notification.

This one said my flight is back on schedule to take off at 3:40pm. I found that to be weird.

I travel here and there, maybe on average once a month, and I have never in my life seen a flight that was delayed come back to life to be on schedule.

Hey I am not complaining. I took off on time, and because of the tail winds, I got in 40 minutes early.

October 17, 2006

Shwag From Yahoo! Search Marketing

I told you guys I was visiting Yahoo yesterday and today. You can find the information about Yahoo! releasing Panama at the Search Engine Roundtable. Here is all the cool shwag, Yahoo! gave us.

Yahoo! Publisher Network Messenger Bag:
Yahoo! Search Marketing Shwag
Yahoo! Search Marketing Shwag

Yahoo! Search Marketing & Yahoo! Publisher Network Pen, Pads, Keychain, Gum, Stickers, Pin, & Notebook:
Yahoo! Search Marketing Shwag

Yahoo! Search Marketing Long Sleeve TShirt:
Yahoo! Search Marketing Shwag

Yahoo! Search Marketing Keychain Flash Light:
Yahoo! Search Marketing Shwag

Yahoo! Search Marketing, Yahoo! Publisher Network, Yahoo! Music Match Zen MP3 Player, Basketball Hoop, Coffee Mug, Umbrella, and Ball:
Yahoo! Search Marketing Shwag

Cool stuff. Yahoo! treated us all incredibly well.

Thank you so much Yahoo!

Also at Flickr set.

October 13, 2006

Reminder :: Monday & Tuesday @ Yahoo!

yahoo.gifJust a reminder that I am flying to Yahoo! very early Monday morning and won't be back until very late Tuesday night. So blogging may be affected.

Symptoms may include:
- delayed posts
- fuzzy logic
- less posting
- shorter posts
- more tired Cartoon Barry

Over those two days.

October 12, 2006

30 Minutes for 1/2 a Mile on 42nd Street

I hate driving on 42nd street, in Manhattan. I should seriously not go on that street anymore. It took me 30 minutes to go about 2,500 feet on that block. Between about Broadway and Madison. Just crazy.

madison-broadway-42nd.gif

Barry - do not forget this. Do not attempt it again!

Shouldn't it take about 15 - 20 minutes to walk 0.5 miles? Amazing!

October 9, 2006

Going to Yahoo! in a Week

Just a travel note, I came back this morning on a 6am flight. Hence, the slow blogging today at SEW and SER. Next Monday morning, very very early, I fly to the west coast to spend two days at Yahoo!

yahoo.gif

Nothing more to say on this. So both SEW and SER blogging will be off schedule.

I fly out Monday early AM and fly back Tuesday afternoon - so I also may miss the Search Pulse show.

Flying is killing me. :-)

October 6, 2006

Yisha & I Landed With 100lbs of Clothing for Next Three Days

The main reason I am posting this is to test Google's Ping Server again, but in any event, we landed.

I have about 5lbs of stuff, my wife has about 95lbs of stuff.

We are only here for three days. :)

Married life...

October 5, 2006

Sukkot Coming - סוכות - Blogging Friday Light

Sukkot.jpgLike with ראש השנה I will be traveling to the in-laws for the Sukkot (סוכות) holiday that begins Friday night. Blogging will be light this Friday and also I won't be able to blog Monday AM until after about 11AM (EST). I will try to schedule posts to go live tomorrow AM, like I did last time, but I cannot promise that. Also, I will try to connect via my Treo and MacBook, if it works this time. Who knows maybe we will see Jesse Jackson at the airport again? :)

So Sukkot, what is it about? Here are some good resources for you to learn about it.

October 4, 2006

Need Closer Airport to Suffern, New York

Newark Airport by McBeagleIt is so sad that my preferred airport to travel out from is at a minimum 45 minutes away. Newark Airport (EWR) is about 45 minutes from my office, it can take an additional 30 minutes if there is traffic.

The second option I have is LaGuardia Airport (LGA) which is about one hour away, with traffic, and there normally is traffic crossing the GW Bridge and the Cross Bronx Expressway, it can tack on an additional 15 to 60 minutes (sometimes even worse).

Just beyond that is John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), which is normally the airport I have to take for trips. That airport is about 15 minutes further than LGA, so about one hour and 15 minutes away. Same deal, if there is traffic, it can tack on an additional 15 to 60 minutes (sometimes even worse).

There is a closer airport named Westchester County Airport but they don't have many flight options, it is a small airport.

So, any trip I go on, you have to add on an additional hour or two each way for just getting to the airport.

September 22, 2006

Jesse Jackson at LaGuardia Airport (LGA)

This morning, we went to LaGuardia Airport (LGA) to fly out to St. Louis and guess who we saw pull up? Jesse Jackson, he was standing outside of terminal, waiting for something. A couple people took pictures with him, while he was waiting. I snapped some candids...

Jesse Jackson @ LGA

Jesse Jackson @ LGA

September 21, 2006

Rosh Hashanah Coming - Google ראש השנה Logo

Rosh Hashanah (ראש השנה), the Jewish New Year, is this Friday night. My wife an I are flying to St. Louis tomorrow morning, to spend the weekend with her family. Blogging will be light this Friday and also I won't be able to blog Monday AM until after about 11AM (EST).

In any event...

Google has put up a Google Doodle with a Shofar in it. The Shofar is typically blown during Rosh Hashanah services. Aish HaTorah has a good article on Symbolism of the Shofar.

rosh_hashana06.gif

You can currently see the logo at google.co.il.

Happy New Year to all you Jews. :)

September 15, 2006

Virgin Atlantic Bans Dell & Apple Laptops

dell-virgin.jpgFlying anywhere soon? If so, make sure your airline doesn't ban your laptop from use onboard. Wired reports that Virgin Atlantic has banned the use of Dell and Apple laptops in-flight.

Why?

Because some past Dell laptops became flamethrowers, for real. And Apple recalled a ton of batteries that were likely to over heat or catch on fire.

Hey, I have a MacBook Pro. As of now, my battery is just fine - but who knows. And I fly frequently enough, I don't fly Virgin, but I am worried other airlines may adopt this.

September 10, 2006

Bob Dylan Concert vs. WebmasterWorld PubCon Conference

pubcon091006.gifI was looking forward to going to both Bob Dylan coming to New York and also attending/covering/speaking at WebmasterWorld PubCon in Vegas. But it turns out they both compete with each other.

PubCon is November 14-17, 2006. I would have to fly out November 13th, to make sure I don't miss any sessions.

Bob Dylan is touring in the NY area on Mon, Nov 13, 2006 07:30 PM in Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY and also at Thu, Nov 16, 2006 07:30 PM at Continental Arena, East Rutherford, NJ.

I just don't see myself making it back for the Continental Arena show, just doesn't seem possible.

The earliest flight out Tue, Nov 14 is at 7:20am, it doesn't land in Vegas until 10:07am (there are other ones but they are not non-stop and they land later). Based on that, it appear I would miss the keynote that morning and possibly all or most of the next session. So it appears I won't be able to do both.

I won't miss the WebmasterWorld conference, so I guess I'll have to miss Bob Dylan.

September 6, 2006

My Credit Card Was At Risk!

mrk_mastercard.gifI get a voicemail at my home with an automated message from my credit card company that my card has been compromised. They asked me to call an 800 number and dial a special pin. I followed the directions and it took me to a special automated prompt asking me if I give them permission to cancel my credit card and reissue a new one.

Of course, I selected the option to speak with a customer representative. Heck, you are telling me my credit card was compromised. It did say, in the automated message, that no attempts appeared to have been made by an individual to use my credit card fraudulently. But I wanted to know more.

The credit card representative told me that a merchant has compromised a bunch of credit cards and that my card was one of them. She then asked me for permission to cancel the card and reissue new ones. I said, yes, please. So now I cannot use my main credit card until I get a new one, possibly 5 - 7 business days. I guess it is better than potentially having charges on the card that were not mine.

I wonder if closing out a credit card and reopening it has any affect on one's credit rating?

Anyway, it was cool that this was all pretty much automated. It was even cooler that it was fairly easy to speak with a real person, which I did do.

I also wonder which merchant compromised my card...

September 5, 2006

Invincible - The Movie

invincible.jpgLast night, the wife and I went to see Invincible, a movie about Vince Papale from the Philadelphia Eagles. Really one of those inspiring movies where a man with nothing; works in a bar, lost his day job, his wife left him and no real foreseeable future. The Philadelphia Eagles holds a controversial open try out and he makes the team.

Good movie.

Of course you can use Ask.com to get more details on the movie and more reviews from others. The reviews were all not great, Average Rating: 6.4/10. So check them out.

September 3, 2006

Thanks For The BBQ

bbq1.jpgWhat is a better way to spend a Labor Day then to have a really tasty BBQ? Yisha, her sister, and I drove to a friend in Southern New Jersey to have a really plentiful and tasteful BBQ. Seriously, no Ask.com barbeque tips needed at this BBQ. Well worth the trip, and traffic was not bad.

If only the the weather man was better at predicting rain. It did not rain at all. Which rocked. Yes, it was suppose to rain.

I think I may come in a bit later tomorrow morning. Expect me in at 8:30am.

Thanks for the great BBQ!

August 17, 2006

Great Video on SES San Jose 2006

Want to know what it was like being at SES San Jose 2006? Well, this can give you a partial feel of the experience at the conference.

Great work on that video!

August 14, 2006

New York Skyline Getting Dirtier & Grimier Each Day

45934176.new_york_skyline.jpgI was driving to the city today, with the top down on my car, and as I got closer and closer to Manhattan, it started to smell worse and worse. I look up at the sky and the the sunny sky was a bit dark and grimy looking.

Got me thinking of that movie where everything in the northern part of the world froze over. But I forgot the name of that movie...

Anyway, off to my next meeting here in NYC.

August 10, 2006

Sitting In the Airport With the Wife

I am in San Jose Airport with the wife waiting to go through security. We are here pretty early so we decided to hang out in the cafe area prior to going through security. The airport seemed pretty slow and nothing crazy going on here just yet. I did see a cop with a pretty large shot gun. But aside from that, it is pretty quite here.

Our flight is already delayed, hope it is not too bad. So, expect delays in any search news from me tomorrow.

If you are also flying out today or tomorrow, have a safe, relaxing and enjoyable flight.

Last Day of SES a Ghost Town

ghost-town.jpgTypically, the last day of the large SES conferences (4 day conferences) tend to have an abridged version of the 3 previous days. This is the day where Danny, moderators, and speakers, plus the remaining attendees tend to sit back and relax. But boy does a huge convention center look empty when most the people pack out before the sessions begin.

If you are a speaker, then you normally want to be slotted for day one through three, to get as much exposure as possible. If you are shy, then slot yourself for day four.

August 9, 2006

The Google Dance Party 2006

Proof I actually went to a party. Well, honestly, I never missed the Google Dances since going to SES San Jose. Here is a picture of Danny Sullivan, Yisha (my wife) and myself at the Google Dance.

IMG_2676.JPG

More pictures here.

August 7, 2006

SES San Jose Day One --- Tired...

cartoonbarry_speakicon2.gif

So Yisha and I got into San Jose last night, flight was early, everything so far is working out nicely. Came into the hotel that night, saw Danny Sullivan & Chris Sherman welcoming those who entered the hotel. Well, they happened to be there - I believe Danny had some reservation issues... Saw a few more old time SES Goers in the lobby, won't name names now.

Then the Monday, woke up at 6am (PST) to begin blogging at SER and SEW. Didn't blog that much prior to the show. Got ready, posted the following items not directly related to session coverage.

Search Engine Roundtable Topics:

  1. Google Sitemaps Renamed to Webmaster Central

Search Engine Watch Topics:

  1. Google Music, Not Any Time Soon
  2. Google & Viacom Partner In Video Ad Test
  3. AOL Releases Search Data & Raises Privacy Concerns
  4. Yahoo Launches Search Builder
  5. Search Engine Strategies San Jose 2006 - Day One

Session coverage included:

  1. Social Search Overview: Yahoo!, Windows Live & Eurekster
  2. Social Search: Up Close With Yahoo!
  3. Social Search: Up Close With Google (Google Co-op)
  4. The Search Laboratories

Big thank you to Benjamin Pfeiffer, Chris Boggs and Lee Odden for covering the rest.

My SES San Jose images are at Flickr.

Introduced my wife to a bunch of folks; Rand, Danny, Chris, Chris, Debra, Kevin, Gillian, John M. Hope to show her off around at the Google Party tomorrow. I went for a walk with Yisha during lunch, took a picture outside of the Art Museum. Then we went to a movie after the sessions, which we walking out on, since we were kind of tired. Also, I am sorry I was unable to go to the other parties tonight.

Tim Mayer, Joshua Schachter & Others From Yahoo!

Tim Mayer first took a picture of me and DaveN, so I snapped him back, but he was on guard.

IMG_2631.JPG

Joshua Schachter of del.ici.us owned by Yahoo! on that panel.

IMG_2633.JPG

And the rest of the Yahoo! Team; Flickr, Trip Planner, etc.

IMG_2632.JPG

Next up Google...

August 6, 2006

Traveling With The Wife Vs. Traveling Without The Wife

How can I best describe this....

Traveling With The Wife = Two Duffels

Traveling Without The Wife = One Carry On

As some of you know, my wife is coming with me to SES San Jose. We should be arriving tonight. I have never prepared so much for an SES before in my life.

We are taking a huge duffel, one big cooler bag, two large carry ons and of course, my computer bag.

Curb-side checkin, here we come. :)

July 30, 2006

Geeks & Airline Security; The Traveling Geek

I would call myself a wanna be geek, hopefully some people think of me as a geek - but I am not a geek at the level I would like to be. Anyway, geeks tend to have lots of gadgets on them. And traveling via airlines, with the security and metal detectors are never fun. I thought it would be fun to write this entry while on my flight back from STL to LGA today.

How do I prepare for traveling like a geek:
(1) Wear pants with large pockets
(2) Wear a shirt with a breast pocket
(3) Make sure to put essentials in laptop bag
- Bose noise canceling headphones
- Treo 650 charger
- Bloothtooth ear piece
- Laptop charger
- Digital Camera
- Wired and MacWorld magazines
- Airline tickets

Preparing to walk through metal detector
(1) Place all devices from cargo pants into laptop case side pockets
- Throw change in small zipper in laptop bag
- Place bluetooth headset with treo in laptop bag
- Don't forget the digital camera...
(2) Place airline ticket in breast pocket on shirt
(3) Open main laptop zipper to quickly remove laptop from bag
(4) Untie shoes
(5) Loosen belt
(6) Look yourself up and down
(7) Locate a security bucket/bin to place your items in for scanning (preferably two security bucket/bins)

The walk through:
(1) Remove laptop and place in security bucket/bin
(2) Place laptop bag in other security bucket/bin
(3) Put belt and shoes in same bin with laptop case (or a third one)
(4) Remove airline ticket from breast pocket
(5) Make eye contact with airport security man/woman
(6) On queue smile and walk through scanner
(7) Pray nothing buzzes

Post walk through:
(1) Laptop goes back in laptop case and remove security bucket/bin from desk
(2) Remove items from laptop case (camera, treo, bluetooth ear piece, change, etc.)
(3) Close laptop case and move next to you on side
(4) Put on belt
(5) Put items back in pockets (change, etc.)
(6) Remove remaining items from bin and place on the side
(7) Put on shoes
(8) Scan area for remaining items
(9) Grab laptop case and any other items
(10) Continue to gate, keep eyes pealed for seat with nearby electrical outlet and wifi signs

That is what goes through my head prior and during the process of passing security at the airports.

Oh, I don't like to wear watches in general - so one less item.