Archive for the ‘Perosnal’ Category

Flying 100,000 Miles,Surviving Airplane Food and the Pez Museum

June 27, 2011
  • Never rent an American car. Japanese or Korean is the way to go.
Rental Car

Rental Car

  • Never “Upgrade” to an SUV, there is no way to park it in San Francisco and there is no need for nine passengers on a business trip.
  • On the way to California never check in any luggage. A TravelPro trolley is an investment for life.
  • Take enough cloths for one week+.
  • Laundry bags are really useful. Not the ones that say “IDF Basic training 1991”.
  • No need to wear  smelly clothes. Laundry is cheap and sponsored by your employer.
  • The dry clean guy would always ask for three+ days and can always do it in one day, unless it is Saturday.
  • It is OK to check luggage on the way back from San Francisco to Tel Aviv, but the gifts to the spouse with you.
  • If the trolley does not fit in the overhead compartment,on the way back , take our the laundry bag and put it under the seat. I said it would be useful.
  • Sleeping pills are a great invention.
  • Never eat on US Airways. Never eat on Continental. Never eat on Delta.
  • Unless you fly business (I’m not…). If so, take the filet minion and shrimps. It is pay back for all the “pasta” or “chicken”.
  • Egg white omelet is not horrible. American omelets are made out of three eggs, by default. that’s 30 eggs for a ten days trip. Bacon not included.
  • Continental Presidents’ club in Newark has no food (cheese and crackers does not count). But it has a shower !
  • There are nice wine bars in both Newark and Philadelphia. Airports are expensive anyway, at least this is fun  and the service is good.
  • Wine and Oysters

    Wine and Oysters

  • Walgreen sells five t-Shirts for $10. No need to carry gym shirts with you. Leave them as charity (after laundry) on the way back.
  • You don’t have to visit Burlingame museum of Pez Memorabilia. But maybe.
Burlingame Museum Of Pez Memorabilia

Burlingame Museum Of Pez Memorabilia

Burlingame Museum Of Pez Memorabilia Picture

Burlingame Museum Of Pez Memorabilia Picture

Is There a Doctor on the Plane (aka Is your life worth $7)?

June 19, 2011
Pretzel Plane

Pretzel Plane from Voices Magazine

I was flying from Philadelphia to San Francisco this Tuesday.

As usual, I was in the no-food,no movie,no blanket coach section of the airplane.

Naturally, all the seats were fully occupied, which is always great after the 12 hours flight from Tel Aviv to Phili.

After about one hour on the way, the young guy in the middle seat started acting weirdly.

He started kicking the gentlemen in the Aisle seat and moved his hand towards my face.

Than he started sweating and crying and his eyes rolled over and he stopped responding.

We immediately called the crew, opened up the seat belts and tried to communicate with him.

The crew tried to find a doctor , but there was no medical professional on our flight.

Luckily, the guy was breathing and after couple of minutes he became regained consciousness , but was still really shaken up.

It was a lot like an opening scene in House.

I was quite worried as we had 4.5 hours to go and we had no idea what happened,if it is going to happen again etc.

The main crew person asked him a few question and came to the conclusion that he did not have a heart attack. Which makes sense for a 26 years old person, but still….

Since landing the plane is very expensive , he said we have nothing to do but continue the flight and asked both of us ( the neighbors ) to watch him for the rest of the flight.

The poor guy told me he was very stressed towards a job interview and he had no sleep or food for a few days. He asked the crew for something to eat.

[Here comes the amazing part]

The Steward told him : “We only have pretzels !!!” . and she brought him three little  pretzels bags…

Since I had the cheese and fruit selection for $7 ,20 minutes before, I was quite sure she is not 100% accurate.

Maybe what she meant was : “Not only we will risk your life because landing the plane in the middle would cost us $5000 we can’t even afford $7 to save your life”.

Luckily , the guy was well enough to get his credit card and buy some food for himself, instead of relying on the common sense of the crew.

I do have a feeling an Israeli crew would have handled the situation better.

Obviously , I did not sleep for the rest of the flights as I had a patient to watch. The passengers at the back row wanted me to ask him a few questions to see that he remembers his name and basic facts. I guess watching  House makes us all pseudo-experts.

Even when we landed, there was no doctor waiting for him at the gate, as one would expect. He did some much better and I hope he is well now

Lessons Learned:

  •  It has been 20 years since my last CPR course, maybe it is time to renew
  •  Eat and sleep well before interviews
  •  Watching House does not make you a doctor
  •  Don’t trust your life with airlines that begin with “U”

Americana 2011 – Salman Rushdie,Dealing with a Terrorist and Mini-Vans

May 7, 2011
Midnights Children

Midnights Children

I’m back in Israel now, but here are some random thoughts from my last trip.

  • EMC has an indoors swimming pool 🙂
  • In Brookline, Boston , one can not park between 2-6AM. What a polite way to discriminate minorities.
  • One can consume a lot of culture in an eleven hours day flight.
  • “The Fighter” is a great movie. Lots of great boxing scenes and not too tacky.
  • Reading through Salman’s Rushdie’s first novel. Extremely talented, but his later work is more elegant. Correction – the first 200 pages are a bit disorganized, but the book keeps getting better all the time.
  • “Topic Thunder” is a very funny movie. Or maybe it is just the lack of oxygen

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  • Got an upgrade to business. Thanks to 100,000 miles in 2010. The Sundae is the best part, but the desert port was also nice 🙂
  • Hilton is better than Best Western. Even if it is the Hilton Garden-Inn. Upgraded me to the suite. Now I have Two 50″ televisions in the room.
  • No compact cars left for National. They gave me a Mini-Van with 8 seats ! I would never be able to park it in Tel Aviv. I feel like a soccer mom.
  • Back to Stanford after 24 years. It seems much bigger now. in 1987 I remember I brought my IBM-PC diskette to practice my turbo pascal skills during the summer. They did not have PC labs at the time. Now I’m standing in the William Gates building :). The Marguerite is still here.
  • Funny quote from the directions to Stanford
  • Note that not all of the entrances to the Gates Building are labelled as such. The entrance nearest the parking lot is labelled “Gates Bldg” in a new wooden sign, and another entrance is grandly labelled “Engineering Fund Venture Laboratories.” (Stanford’s Engineering Venture Fund donated the “naming” gift of the B-wing after William Gates of Microsoft donated the “naming” gift of the A-wing.)
  • I meet more old Israeli Check Point friends in California than in Israel
  • There is a restaurant in Mountain View that’s open after 9PM 🙂 ! (XANH)

Now in Video: Spec Master, The Hidden Product Manager

March 24, 2011

I played a bit with GoAnimate to create an animated version of Spec Master: The Hidden Product Manager Role blog post.
Fun stuff, and it helps your brain to avoid reading.

Money Lost Between Banks?

March 23, 2011
Cat On Lenovo Laptop

Cat On Lenovo Laptop

Two days שעם,during the Purim holiday,  I tried to withdraw 1000 NIS from Bank Leumi in Dizengof. The ATM , aka “Kaspomat” returned an error an apologized.

As I was walking across the street to another ATM I was surprised to receive an SMS from Bank Poalim(my bank) confirming that 1000NIS have been withdrawn from my account.

The SMS was a result of a new cool service that Poalim provides sending SMS notifications on major account actions.

However, I was always under the impression that ATM transactions are Atomic in the database sense of transactions. A further check in my on-line account has shown that indeed 1000NIS withdrawal is listed there as well.

In the end of the day, the transaction was automatically canceled after 48 hours. My guess is that Bank Poalim and Bank Leumi “settle” their differences after 24 hours so the overall Action consistent , but it is not Atomic.

Product Management: The $40 Umbrella

February 28, 2011
Cheap Five Dollars Umbrella

Cheap Five Dollars Umbrella

I have bought an umbrella for $40. I know that people in Egypt live on $2 a day, but I still decided to invest $40 in upscale umbrella with life time guarantee. Since Israel has no rain(unless I neglect to wear a coat in the morning) I usually buy cheap,disposable $5 umbrellas in New-York or London.

Broader than Broadway

Picture by Tyler J Clemens VIII's

But in October I was coming out of my NY hotel, standing next to the UN building. It took no more than 15 seconds  and a horrible storm carried my cheap umbrella, snapped it into pieces and almost killed the police officer who was directing the traffic.  Another 60 seconds passed and the same fate found my wife’s $6 umbrella.

Frustrated by years of cheap umbrellas I stepped into the closest souvenir shop and demanded the best umbrella they sell.

Cheap Umbrella Price Tag

Cheap Umbrella Price Tag

The Israeli (Iranian?) clerk was happy to show me the state-of-the-art , top of the line, umbrella. For $40 we would get worldwide, life time guarantee, superb rain protection product. We also bought a $30 Samsonite umbrella, which was supposed to be almost as good.

One a similar note, after three years of frustration with cheap Uniden DECT phones , I returned to the good old Panasonic and bought two new wireless phones for $120. The screen is large, the user interface is as simple as in cellular phones and the sounds quality is great.

The lesson for product managers: there is value in quality and there is a room for new products if the feature set is right.

Upscale Expensive Umbrella

Upscale Expensive Umbrella

Lemma On Cats,3D Plasma TV and Love

February 20, 2011
  1. I love our cat.
  2. Self-awareness develops systematically from birth through the life span and it is a major factor for the development of general inferential processes [Ref]
  3. Our cat does not recognize itself in the mirror [Ref]
  4. My wife claims it’s because the mirror is two-dimensional

–> I have to buy a new 3D Plasma HDTV and recorder, according to my wife.

Quod Erat Demonstrandum (∎)

איך לבנות חברה שתהיו גאים בה – חלק ראשון

February 17, 2011

הקדמה

מסמכי חזון בדרך כלל נותרים  ללא שימוש מאחר שהם מייצגים אוסף ערכים טובים שאין אפשרות לתרגם אותו לחיים האמתיים. מטרת המסמך הזה הינה לתת עקרונות לפעולת החברה, דוגמאות ליישום שלהם והבנה של המקומות שבהם מוכנים ל”שלם” כדי לעמוד מאחורי העקרונות.אין המטרה להחליף את נהלי החברה המפורטים, אלא לתת מיסגרת עקרונות לפעולת החברה ואפשרות למצטרפים לראות האם הם מעונינים להצטרף אליה ושותפים לערכיה. יש לקרוא את המסמך כמכלול שכן העקרונות שבו משלימים זה את זה

המסמך בנוי בצורה הבאה

עיקרון – ברור

יישוםדוגמה למצב שבו משתמשים בעיקרון ומוותרים על הזדמנות אחרת

הסתייגות – כי לכל כלל יש יוצא מן הכלל

בכל מקום שהמסמך מתייחס לעובד החברה, הכוונה היא גם למנהלים, כמובן

המוצרים והשירותים של החברה צריכים להיות באיכות כזו שלקוחות החברה יהיו מאושרים מהמוצר והשירות שהם מקבלים בתמורה לכספם

איכות המוצר תימדד לפי קריטריון זה.כדי להגיע להישג זה על המוצר להיות ברמת איכות גבוהה מאוד במובנים רבים

תכל’ס – לתכנן מראש את מוצרי החברה לרמת איכות גבוהה מהשלב הראשוני. לדאוג למצוינות בבדיקות, בשימושיות, בביצועים ובגמישות של המשתמשים. לדוגמא, ויתור על תכונות נוספות לטובת בדיקתיות

הסתייגות – האיכות צריכה להיות ממוקדת בצרכי הלקוח ולשמור על פשטות בריאה

מטרת החברה היא להגיע להכנסות משמעותיות של מאות מיליוני דולרים ורווחים של לפחות עשרות מיליוני דולרים

תכלס –  שוק המטרה בטווח הארוך צריך להיות גדול ומשמעותי. אם יש הזדמנות טובה לשוק קטן שאי אפשר להגדיל אותו, צריך לוותר עליה.  צריך להשקיע בתשתיות מסודרות לחברה שרוצה לגדול ולהיות עצמאית ומבוססת ולא רק להימכר

העובדים בחברה צריכים להיות מרוצים ולהנות בעבודתם,  החברה דואגת לרווחתם והעשרתם

תכל’סהתייחסות לעובדים כאל אנשים ולא כאל “משאבי אנוש”. מתן כבוד לעובדים, אפשרות להתפתחות מיקצועית ואישית, השקעה בהדרכה. תמיכה בעובדים בתקופות קשות וכבוד הדדי בין העובדים

החברה צריכה להיות חסכנית בהוצאותיה

תכל’ס – משכורות צנועות, בדיקה ותמחור אגרסיווי בין ספקים, יצירתיות בפתרונות, מחשבה על כל הוצאה. חשוב שהאווירה בחברה, אצל העובדים והספקים תשדר זאת

הסתייגות – חשוב שחיסכון יהיה לא רק העלות הישירה של כסף מהכיס אלה גם בעלות אלטרנטיבית של זמן, אנשים או פרודקטיביות. לדוגמא, אין טעם להשיג הנחה של $100 אם הדבר גורר עיכוב של חודש בפרויקט. חשוב לשמור על ההבדל בין חסכנות לבין קמצנות וקטנוניות

החברה צריכה להיות הוגנת, ישרה ופתוחה

תכל’ס – משלמים לספקים בזמן, משלמים על כל התוכנות שבשימוש, משתפים את העובדים במידע, עושים תאום ציפיות עם עובדים חדשים. לא מקבלים מועמד מצוין לחברה אם יש ספקות לגבי היושר והיושרה שלו

עובדים קשה, ממוקד ועם ראש גדול

כל עובד מצופה לתרום ממיטב זמנו וכישוריו לחברה. החברה תגייס עובדים ועובדות שמוכנים להשקיע את המאמץ הנדרש

תכל’ס-  יום עבודה שמתחיל בתשע ונמשך לפחות עד שש. העובדים מצופים לעבוד במסירות בהתאם לאופיה של חברת הזנק.  ממוקד – מעט דיונים יעילים עם מספר מצומצם של אנשים, אווירת עבודה, צמצום של ארוחות צהרים ופגישות “קשקשת” חיצוניות, סביבת עבודה שקטה ונוחה לעבודה. אנשים שלוקחים אחריות ובעלות מקצה לקצה על נושא. אין תחושת פינוק וכל עובד עושה מה שצריך כדי להגיע למטרה המשותפת

Give me a Long Enough Lever

Give me a Long Enough Lever

[This is the Hebrew Version of the English Post]

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Product Management Case Study – The Yogurt

February 14, 2011

One of the hardest problems in product management is choosing the right defaults.

The cowards let the users see all the options and confuse them to death.

Yogurt from Iceberg Tel Aviv Without Proper Defaults

Yogurt from Iceberg Tel Aviv Without Proper Defaults

Iceberg has one of the best ice cream  shops in Tel Aviv, and maybe in the world. Their Yogurt combination provides a wonderful mixture of honey, granola, slightly sour yogurt and fresh fruit in a very affordable price (22NIS).

I had the Yogurt deal( “Yogo”) In their original location on Ben Yehuda street on many occasions.

Yesterday I tried to get the same deal in their Ibn Gvirol franchise.

To my horror, the clerk asked me “what do you want in the yogurt?” and offered 20 different options – candies, walnuts, almonds, chocolate and so forth.

I do not know what I want. If I were to choose I would take all candies, and the result would be horrible.

Please make the right decision and mix for me. I can’t make such decisions on an empty stomach.

Borscht, Babaganoush and Beer – Food in the Global Software Development Industry

February 8, 2011

“Without Spam, we wouldn’t have been able to feed our army.”

Nikata Khrushchev, ‘Kruschev Remembers’ (1970)

“You are very fortunate to be assigned to duty at Fortress Monroe on Chesapeake Bay; it is just the season for soft-shelled crabs, and hog fish have just come in, and they are the most delicious panfish you ever ate.”

General Winfield Scott, May, 1861, speaking to General Benjamin Butler

Borscht

Borscht, Borscht

I was surprised to see there isn’t enough research on the role of food in the software development process.

There are some clever insights on Beer and Pizza , Google Vs Apple food fight and “Frat Culture” but there is a lack of in-depth global research 🙂

Here are some observations that might be expanded later, on demand.

  • In California, lunch is sometimes sponsored by the company.
  • In Israel, in Hi-Tech, lunch is sponsored by the company, takes about 60 minutes and is eaten in Restaurants outside the office. The “Official” lunch break is supposed to be 30 minutes.
  • Is this tradition coming from the earlier socialist roots of Israel? Maybe it stems from the army background of many developers.

Personally, after 10 years of fried eggplants, eggplants in tomato sauce, eggplants in Tahini, eggplants with vegetables and eggplants macaroni, I was very happy to start eating proper lunch in top restaurants.

  • I once had to fly to a development center in Minsk,Belarus and eat borscht, for the first time in my life. I had to make sure the food level was comparable to other sites. It was a beautiful city and the borscht was better than I expected 🙂
  • In Israel , the employees eat lunch together and it is a great opportunity for team building. In California developers eat alone at their desks, which I always found a bit sad.
  • In California, 30 minutes lunch breaks are mandatory. It is similar to Israel.
  • Whenever we had to work on Fridays, I used to bring an extra nice breakfast for everyone . It helps make the atmosphere more causal and expresses  this is special occasion and not taken lightly by “management”.
  • In Belarus (2006) the cost of developers lunch was ,in some cases, almost 25% of their overall compensation.
  • No free beer in Israel. But Diet Coke is a must have. A top-notch espresso machine is quite common, in Israel. In the states horrible coffee is the norm anyway 🙂
  • The cynical view is the employers use food as cheap way to get employees motivated. The reality is that it is not so cheap. Assuming cost of 800 NIS per month it is 2.5%-8% of the compensation.
  • A less cynical view claims that the 60 minutes lunch breaks are  critical to get developers to work 12 hours a day. In reality, few employees work 12 hours a day, and there is little correlation to the ones who have the longest lunch breaks 🙂
  • Food does touch people emotions and demonstrates diversity. For example, a top engineer who suffers from Coeliac was extremely happy when one of our restaurants helped him select relevant dishes. At the same time, we helped Muslim engineers who needed to eat their lunch later than usual during Ramadan.
  • We are all quite fortunate to work in such great conditions. Our peers in Medical establishments have to live with Hospital food, if they even get enough time for lunch break.
Chocolate Ball Dessert, Tel Aviv

Chocolate Ball Dessert, Tel Aviv