Thursday, January 29, 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009

Last Lecture Video

Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch (Oct. 23, 1960 - July 25, 2008) gave his last lecture at the university Sept. 18, 2007, before a packed McConomy Auditorium. In his moving presentation, "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," Pausch talked about his lessons learned and gave advice to students on how to achieve their own career and personal goals. For more, visit

Thursday, January 22, 2009

IBM Smarter Planet: Traffic

IBM has been advertising on the New York Times site for its Smarter Planet program. There are several infomercials on interesting subjects (at least interesting to people like me) including food spoilage (in fact, that one goes very well with Michael Pollin's book Omnivore's Dilemma) and traffic congestion.

The traffic congestion film is short (30-seconds) and focuses on Copenhagen's congestion charging program. Of course the problem with congestion charging is not technological, but social ... people don't want to pay for something they view as having paid for and are used to getting for free. That's my criticism of the IBM program, they seem to underestimate the social aspect of introducing innovative new programs based on technology.

On the other hand, the Smarter Planet program looks like an effort to educate people and begin talking about the social factors that need to be addressed before programs like congestion pricing can be implemented. I think that the IBM Smarter Planet Copenhagen Congestion Charging Film should be shown during the Super Bowl rather than internet links from the NYT!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Congestion Pricing from Freakonomics

One of my favorite ideas for improving transport is congestion pricing. There were two great guest articles on the subject in the New York Times Freakonomics blog a couple days ago and today. Here are the links:
Why You'll Love Paying for Roads That Used to be Free - Part 1 and

Why You'll Love Paying for Roads That Used to be Free - Part 2.

Both articles are by Eric A. Morris a researcher at U.C.L.A.’s Institute of Transportation Studies - a sibling organization to UC Berkeley's ITS where I studied in the 1980s. He explains why charging variable tolls to use highways makes sense in clear, easy to understand language.

JetBlue JFK Terminal 5

In December I flew on JetBlue from Buffalo to New York. It was about my 10th flight in the same number of days, and I was a bit tired of the hassles involved with flying these days. But, I was very pleasantly surprised by JetBlue's friendly and energetic staff as well as the seat spacing and cleanliness of the plane. It's a real relief from the cramped seating I am used to.

An added bonus was flying into JetBlue's new Terminal 5 at JFK. I have always loved the Eero Saarinen TWA Terminal and seem to vaguely remember television advertisements for it when it opened ... something like "the wings of man". JetBlue's terminal is on the airside of the old TWA terminal. Here's a photo looking out from a magazine stand at the old terminal.

The new terminal seems to be extremely well designed for the way airlines operate today, there are lots of different food stands, Internet access points, shopping, and wide open corridors. I felt a real sense of spaciousness that is lacking in most all airports (admittedly I arrived at 1 pm on a Friday afternoon, not a peak travel time).

I really liked some of the shopping: a MUJI to Go store (MUJI things for travelers) and an ExOfficio travel clothing store. I was sorry I did not have time to shop!

Since I was arriving I did not want to eat anything, but according to JetBlue's website there is a wide variety of food was available. I thought I read a general review of several restaurants but I could not find it in a quick web search. The restaurants looked pretty good to me as I walked by.

As you leave the baggage claim - which, by the way features a nice orange color on the carousel center contrasting nicely with the generally blue color scheme - there is a Welcome Center where you can get information on how to get to the city or elsewhere. The staff were friendly and helpful. They have schedules and maps for many public transport options.

In summary, my experience with JetBlue and its new terminal was great. I wish more airlines and airports were similar!

Monday, January 5, 2009

The End of the Financial World as We Know It

There was a great pair of articles about the financial crisis by Michael Lewis (he wrote Liars Poker) and David Einhorn. One of the great quotes:
Our leaders have framed the problem as a “crisis of confidence” but what they actually seem to mean is “please pay no attention to the problems we are failing to address.”
The first article is called: The End of the Financial World as We Know It and the second is called: How to Repair a Broken Financial World. Easy to understand and full of good ideas for solving the problems.