In 2018 I had a chance to compare top tier status on both United and Alaska. Most of you are probably running away screaming at spending that much time on airplanes, but I love it, it is a perk to me not a drawback. Here are my thoughts on United MileagePlus Premier 1K vs Alaska MVP Gold 75k, for all you crazy folks who are air[plane][port][line] geeks like me. Yes, this is anecdotal, but at 190k miles last year, spent both on business and personal travel (remember, I’m a Canadian married to an Australian, living in the US), I have *lots* of anecdotes. (note: all photos mine, I tweet a lot of them under the hashtag #ViewFromTheWindowSeat on Twitter. The map is from AppintheAir)
Best Perk: Adjacent Flight Hopping
Adjacent flight hopping is the allowance that the airline makes for a passenger to move to a confirmed
I admit it – I’m currently obsessed by two things: sound and style. In sailing, rule #1 is: look good. It turns out that you have to be able to sail well to obey that rule. I’ve decided that the same rule should apply to my audio visual life at home. In my mind, this means four things:
Excellent sound and picture quality everywhere.
Control of the sound and picture from anywhere.
No computers next to AV equipment.
No visible wires. Anywhere.
To truly obey rule #1, I’ve discovered a few things. Placing devices into iPod docks does not work. It’s inconvenient, and you have to walk into the room to control the sound. I want my phone with me, not connected to my home stereo. Also — connecting speakers directly to a computer sucks. I don’t want “computer speaker” sound. I want stereo HiFi. I want to be able to shake the room while I’m working, but pause the sound in all parts of my house instantly if my phone rings, without taking a step.
Here is the solution I’ve come up with. To the tech-religious nuts who read this – I’m sure it can be done equally well with some other product suite. I’m not trying to sell you on my choice of platform, only the end result. Do please use whatever you want to build the same thing if it makes you happy.
Here is my architecture: if you want details, read below. With the architecture below, I get fantastic quality stereo from any of the bottom three devices, to any of the top two high-quality zones. My office stereo is completely physically separate from my desk, nicely tucked away in a bookcase. And I can control either of these zones from my iphone without getting up from wherever I’m sitting.
My system works through the use of the following bits:
Home Sharing: this is an iTunes feature that lets you broadcast music and video from an iTunes Library.
Airplay: this is a feature of iPod/iPhone apps for music, photos, and movies that let you choose a remote output source.
Remote: this is a free app from the app store (made by Apple) that lets you connect to and control both iTunes Libraries and devices like AppleTV.
AppleTV: this is a device from Apple that streams audio and video from Home Sharing, Airplay, and other internet sources and outputs to HDMI and/or digital audio.
Airport Express: this is a device from Apple that streams audio only from Home Sharing and Airplay sources using digital audio or RCA.
All of the named entities in the above diagram are network entities with unique IP addresses in my home network. Gemini and Soyuz are computers running iTunes with Home Sharing Enabled. Soyuz is an old 12″ powerbook that is now acting as a server, both containing my music and video library, and acting as a Time Machine backup server. Sputnik and Apollo are audio sources that show up when the Airplay icon is selected from any of Atlantis, Soyuz or Gemini.
Setup is pretty well plug & play – you will need the airport utility to configure the Airport Express from your computer, because it has no video interface. The AppleTV can be configured from your TV. All of the devices connected to the AV equipment are for all intents and purposes invisible. There are a few notes though:
All of the devices must both be on the same network and home sharing must be enabled with the same Apple ID. Apple sees all, would you expect anything else? Note that while Home Sharing Apple IDs must match, the Library itself can sync to the iTunes store with a different Apple ID, so this architecture does allow everyone to keep their own AppleIDs for apps etc.
This solution only works with iTunes. If I watch a video on YouTube in my office browser, there is no way to get that sound to my office stereo (I can go to my living room and play it on the apple TV though, because the apple TV can directly stream from YouTube).
As far as I know, there is no need for any Apple computers to use this setup. A PC running iTunes can replace either Gemini or Soyuz.
You’ll pay as much for the Airport Express as your Apple TV even though it is lesser tech from an A/V perspective, because the Airport Express can also be configured as a wireless router.
No proprietary cables are needed for these solutions, not that this saves you any money, the standard stuff costs a fortune. The cost of assorted speaker wire for 5.1 audio, HDMI cables, digital audio cables, and an RCA-to-mini-audio-jack collectively surpassed the cost of both the appletv and airport express combined.
You stream photos to the AppleTV, both as a screensaver and for slideshows. I have my screensaver set up to stream photos from my Favorites list in Flickr, meaning every time I add to that list, I’m enriching the photography shown on my wall while music is being played, or while AppleTV is not busy with other things.
If I stream video from an iTunes Library, it will be from Soyuz, which is hard-wired to my wifi router. Currently my plan is to rip my DVD collection to iTunes – at that point, I won’t even need a DVD player.
The weakest link in this whole setup is iTunes itself. Maybe one day Apple will wake up to the fact that iTunes should be a personal DJ system – allowing you to classify, organize, and moderate your media content with the most sensitive of nuances — as you’re listening, not in advance. In my opinion, they’ve put a pinto at the center of their media empire, instead of the lotus esprit that they should be capable of.
I’ve been reading the variousrecentarticles about women in tech bubbling around the interwebs with mixed feelings. I’ve seen a lot of these debates go by, and although I have strong opinions (I know, you’re surprised, right?), I usually choose not to comment here.
There is only one thing that I find myself wanting to say publicly in this week’s resurgence of the debate, and that is: Thank you. I have had the incredible blessing of being surrounded by group after group of intelligent, thoughtful men and women who have not only treated me equally and fairly, but have encouraged my abilities and helped me to reach greater and greater heights. I have nobody to blame, but many to acknowledge – and why should the jerks get all the press time?
I may not be on anyone’s top 30 women in tech, and I may never be the CxO that people seem to so desperately need all women in tech to be, but I have a fulfilling and challenging job and I have achieved my primary goal in my career, which is to work with people who make me smarter every day. By the only standards that count (mine), I have it all.
I believe that a lot of women have fought difficult fights over the years so that I could have this kind of positive experience, and I know that not all women in tech have been so fortunate. To those women who take on the establishment in this area – You have my support, gratitude and thanks. You take the heat today so that the next generation of girls can simply accomplish and wonder what all the fuss is about.
Why am I writing this? I don’t know. I suppose, it seems wrong for the unhappy examples to be the only examples out there. What I do know, is that I am one of the luckiest women in tech; the people who stand out in my life are not the ones who tried to hold me back, but the ones who have helped me fly. Thank you, to some of these exceptional people: Darcy, John, Cliff, Don, Cullen, Alan, Tammy, Tim, Pete, Doug, Brian, Dave, Janelle, Kaliya, Gordon, Derek, Barb, Bob, Kim, Craig, Mike, Vittorio, Ben, Sydney, Dale, Patrick, Julie, Sean, Andrew, Gil, Laura, Andre, and so many more.
A few years ago, I met Steven Bender at the Burton Group Catalyst Conference in San Francisco. Steven’s company, iMagic Software, had a product that did keyboard biometrics, and I was immediately fascinated. I thought that their product had a ton of potential that wasn’t being recognized – everyone was pigeon-holing it as strong authentication, when in fact it could be used silently to track password sharing, something that I thought had far more potential. If you aren’t familiar with that product space, the idea is that in addition to your password, data is transmitted about the rhythm in which you typed your password. Your rhythm becomes another factor that can be used to detect impostors.
If you’ve met Steven, you’ll understand when I say he was larger than life. He was persistent as hell, and he loved to tell stories. Sometimes it was challenging to get a word in edgewise :) When Steven was convinced of something, nothing in the world could stand in his way. I grew to really respect both his cheerful approach and his scrappy determination.
He called me about a month ago about a project he was working on — a very ambitious project to collect a massive amount of impostor data for his favorite password, frodolives. iMagic had created a facebook application with the hope of having a wide range of people type the same password, so that research could be done on how to better keep impostors out. The plan was to incent people to enter the password by having them enter to win an iMagic t-shirt. I told him honestly that he’d have a much better turnout if he instead donated to charity — that way people would be much more likely to enter the password multiple times, and he wouldn’t have to worry about delivering t-shirts after the fact. I’m happy to say he took my advice.
Sadly, Steven won’t get to see the results of his experiment, he passed away March 5th. I had a chance to see him just days earlier and I missed him – I’ll regret that forever. It’s hard to really comprehend that he’s gone; it still feels like some day he’ll simply call.