CES 2012 please … wait … for …. me!

Well I should be reporting live from CES 2012 right now rather than the Medford Oregon Airport where fog kept me from leaving yesterday for CES Las Vegas, the world’s premier consumer electronics show held every January.

I was supposed to be reporting live over at our Retirement blog from this morning’s keynote at the Silvers Summit, the CES Venue for the intersection of retirement and technology.

If I DO ever manage to get out – we’re not going to make our new 9:15am departure – I’ll have a lot of new pictures and technology content a several of the blogs:

CES 2012 at Technology Report will be the main tech reporting from the conference.

CES 2012 at the Retire USA Retirement Blog will feature some of the technology of special interest to those over 50.   Over 50 is hardly a “senior” in my view, but that’s the cutoff for AARP and the Silvers Summit.   In fact I think we need a new name for those of us over 50 and I don’t think “seniors” or even “silvers” is really the right angle here.    What’s next, the “Ripe” generation?

I’ll also be posting a bit at Las Vegas Blog, LasVegas1.   I’m staying downtown at the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas’ oldest venue at One Fremont Street.   Looking forward to the history as well as the relaxed feel of the downtown area, which has undergone a fair amount of rennovation and remodelling over the past decade in an effort by the downtown hotels to capture some of the shiny luster of the strip, which has been  “the” Las Vegas for most tourists for some time now.

Airport Blog

There’s some tweaking and LOTS of changes needed for old pages, but I’m getting happy with the new look of the Airports Blog and Airport and Airlines Directory I’m trying to resurrect after many years of neglect and abuse.

QuickAid.com was initially the web’s largest collection of airport records – about 28,000 database records in an early online version of a failed dedicated system developed to help navigate several airports around the country.

I bought it years ago and despite early successes I managed to offend Google with the link structure and low quality.  The irony of the experience was that I actually did NOT deploy a lot of the clever ideas I had for fear Google would lower my good ranking for many Airport related terms.      Eventually Google downranked the site but now seems to be happy with QuickAid as a prominent Airport Directory, so it’s time to make it … much better.

This process will take some time, but, like I keep explaining to mom about my real estate projects ….  it’s going to be … great when I’m done!

Airline Phones and Websites

DEN Denver Airport Free WIFI Rocks

Denver International Airport – DEN – offers free WIFI throughout the Airport Terminal Complex.    Although they ask you view a 30 second ad spot this is hardly unreasonable given the cost savings of about $10 over the pay for WIFI airport installations.

I flew out via BWI this morning and although I really enjoyed the city of Baltimore, I would have had a great impression if they provided ad supported WIFI at the Airport.

PEK Airport – Beijing China. Know Your Terminal! Hint – it is probably “3”

PEK Beijing – Know Your Terminal!

When travelling to or from Beijing’s Airports, keep these items in mind:

BCIA stands for “Beijing Capital International Airport” and is commonly used when referencing the Beijing Airport even though PEK is the same Airport.

Know your Terminal! PEK is a *huge* Airport, and the taxi will need to know which Terminal you are departing from. My United Airlines PEK to SFO flight was from Terminal three and I think most international departures are now from that terminal. Your hotel concierge may ask you “which airport” and I think they really mean “which terminal”. Clear this up before getting in the Taxi as the Chinese Taxi drivers rarely (read that as “never”) speak English. If you plan to use Taxis in China be sure to get the excellent printed cards from your concierge (or make some yourself before you leave) that list locations in Chinese so the driver will understand where you want to go.

PEK is the Airport Code for Beijing’s main Airport which, without much traffic, is approximately a 40-50 minute taxi ride from most areas of the city. The cost for the taxi should be about 100 Yuan, perhaps a little more. In Beijing and Shanghai always ride in taxis with meters to avoid scams.

Note: This is a repost from AirportCityCodes.com, where this got no traction. I’m trying to see how the ranking will differ at JoeDuck which has higher authority with Google, seemingly pretty much for anything I write about!

Blogger.com troubleshooting – ghs.google.com IP fix

Posting a blogger.com fix I just struggled with for some time.  This sounds more complicated than it is but I could find little online to help me, so hopefully I’ll save somebody future time with this post.

I wanted to run my Airports Blog as part of AirportCityCodes.com, hosted at Verio.    Blogger (owned and run by Google) has a great IP redirection feature that lets you run a blog off your domain by creating a CNAME record that directs to ghs.google.com and accesses your blogspot blog.    Normally this works fine, but Verio’s DNS system will reject ghs.google.com because it in turn is an alias for ghs.l.google.com.    Verio claimed that Google using improper DNS protocol by telling people to use ghs.google.com.

The blogger fix at Verio is to use this:    ghs.l.google.com.    

Note the period at the end which is needed at Verio to keep them from appending your domain name to the record. 

If this does not work, or at some other registrars (Network Solutions was mentioned somewhere), I think you’ll want to use the IP address for ghs.l.google.com which is this:

I hope this works for you, and if not let me know as I use this feature for many blogs and I’m always interested in Troubleshooting tips, especially for blogs.

Check your airline mileage program for major rule changes!

Over the years we fly several different airlines and if you are like us you have mileage programs for the family on each one. That makes tracking them hard enough, but rules appear to be changing as the airlines are squeezed by huge losses in an effort to reduce free flying. AA, for example, changed from a 36 month to 18 month expiration without account activity. It appears they didn’t bother to send a letter about this, though so far they restored miles to my account though I’m waiting to hear back on our three other accounts which collectively have more than one ticket worth of miles. I’m also having trouble with my US Air Account which appears to have expired miles as well, though in that case I was notified by them by email that was basically lost in the shuffle.

Let’s see if what response comes in from this:

Dear AA –

I am in a state of confusion about AAdvantage Dividend Miles for the family accounts. We don’t often fly AA because we live in a rural area not well served by AA, so our flights are every few years from big cities.

I called and they credited back miles I lost on my account, but accounts for my son, daughter, and wife appear to have lost the miles completely. We’d read on the last statement we have they “might expire in 36 months”, which would not have expired them yet. But when I called a few days ago I was told they expired a few months back after a change in the rules. I don’t think we were even notified of the change by mail or email as those accounts had no email addresses with them.

What am I asking for here? Simply that the miles be restored on the following accounts for another month or so so we can figure out what to do under the new rules, since we were under the impression they’d be fine until July 2008 based on the letters we have from AA:

(Account details omitted)
PS – l’ll be blogging this adventure at a travel blog I run, and would like permission to repost your replies, or if you prefer you can have a PR person

UPDATE: AA restored the miles and sent me this nice note. Thanks AA!:

Dear Mr. Hunkins:

Please accept my apology for the difficulty you encountered with the expiration of
your miles. We’re glad you took the time to write since it gives us the opportunity
to respond to your concern.

I have reviewed your account, as well as the accounts for your wife ***** ,
your son **** your daughter ***. As of today,
February 18, 2008, their accounts do show that their mileage has been restored (as
well as your account also has the mileage restored). Their mileage, as well as yours,
are in their accounts now, and you can view their accounts via AA.com at

Mr. Hunkins, we look forward to welcoming your family aboard soon. We very much
appreciate your family’s participation in our AAdvantage program.


(name omitted)
Customer Relations
American Airlines

Fear of Wi-Flying? Bah and Humbug!

This SILLY article suggests several unlikely scenarios where on board WIFI, a superb innovation coming to several airlines, will be a nuisance.   Loud talking on phones?   Porn surfers?    Well, maybe, but I think this is one of the *billions* of examples where having more broadband access makes a better, not worse, world.    Has he bothered to note how much these things are problems at airports with free WIFI like Las Vegas or Portland, Oregon?     They are NOT problems.

Looking for the gray cloud on the silvery lining of ubiquitous broadband reminds me of the early days of the internet (ahhh – those were the days back in, what….the 1990s?)  when people would explain to me how they didn’t really need email addresses and business websites because this was a passing fad or a “tech thing”.    It didn’t help much to explain that the internet is not about technology, rather it is about people, and that they’d be online very soon.     Now of course everybody is online, but the reporters are explaining to us (again) how all this technology puts us all at great social and personal peril. 

No, it doesn’t.  Get over it, and move on.   You cannot cheer enough for innovation and ubiquitous broadband.   We’ll have it eventually and it’s better to have it sooner not later. 

Hmmm – speaking of Airlines and Airports here’s my Airport Codes website.

Airport Security is too darn expensive ?

My posting over at the Airports Blog says we are spending too much on Airport Security.   This may seem odd to  many in light of the recent foiled terror plot at JFK, but I don’t hear any advocates for huge budget military and security spending balancing the cost of all the security and military spending with alternatives to that approach.

The reason they can’t rationally make the case for current budgets is that the cost is completely out of line with the return on the investments.    Ironically those claiming to be “fiscal conservatives” have become the most flagrant spenders in history, suggesting that the war on terror justifies all budgets because the cost of catastrophe is very great.   The problem with this line of thinking is similar to the big spending social program line – government work is expensive work.    We need to find more effective and cheaper ways to challenge terror, and probably need to factor in many scenarios so we can compare them with alternative investments in infrastructure.

For example I think many would say it is worth it to spend 5 billion government dollars for a 50% chance of thwarting  an attack that would kill 1000 people.   Yet those same folks would vote against spending an extra 5 billion on health care measures that would save 10,000 people.   The second spend is *twenty times* more cost effective than the first.   Sure there are many factors, but this type of analysis should at the very least be fleshed in a bit to avoid what we do now – spend based on political and emotional agendas that bear little relation to cost effectiveness.

My argument is simple -we are currently foresaking a lot of good in favor of fighting bad, and this approach is probably not sustainable for the long term.

Leaving Las Vegas

Pubcon has ended and probably won’t reappear in the USA until next year here in Las Vegas.   It was a nice conference and I really think Brett deserves a lot of credit for keeping this as the ‘affordable’ search conference, as well as the most technically advanced.   He told me 2100 attendees this year – almost double from last time.

Due to some flaky internet connectivity at the motel and during the conference I missed posting nearly as often as I would have liked to but I’m now at LAS Airport with superb and *free* WIFI.   I wrote about the free LAS Wifi last time I was here.   Aiports would be smart to adopt the ad supported model, especially as increasing numbers of frequent travelers use EVDO or just slow cell connectivity rather than pay 9.95 to pick up a few mails.

Ad supported free WIFI is a win win for a lot in the food chain, and I’m glad to see Google start this in Mountain View and MSN’s getting the idea for some WA locations.

Plane’s about to leave but I wanted to say thanks to Brett and Pubcon staff for a conference well done!