December 12th 2013
Remote. Remote office not required.Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson. 2013. ISBN 9780804137508. A second book from the Founders of 37Signals ( Rework) which outlines how they have made working remotely really work. Lots of examples form their experience and those of other large and small companies, put the lie to the Yahoo story about working remotely. Some great lines. You shouldn’t hire people you can not trust nor should you work where you are not trusted.
Good suggestions on easy screen casting, meetups and conferencing tools. Plus years of experience in assisting their wide ly place “stars” in dealing with what can come up. I appreciate that time slots should overlap by four hours to make for smooth hand offs.Equal pay across geographies is a great concept. And in hiring paying extreme attention to the writing’s in the cover letter since to be good at remote work you must be able to write.
They make good arguments and you will breeze through this book.
December 11th 2013
While reflecting on these past weeks in the Carribean I (we ) came to see that the cruise lines are doing themselves a disservice in the islands. They are not looking after maintaining /upgrading their smaller boats while building bigger and bigger new boats. This causes the companies ( Royal Caribbean and Carnival are the big two) to down market their offers to increase their sell plus compete fiercely with each other. To compensate for not being able to increase fares ( for ten years I think) they are cutting back on many of the niceties that caused many people to be such regular repeat cruisers. We took our last cruise three years ago, and noticed a big decline this time. We talked to several people on the boats and if they were long time cruises, they also notice a decline. The island’s tourist executives we met onshore decried the overall reduced spend of the customers, despite the number of cruisers going up. They also note that the cruise lines are reducing/modifying the length (and time of day) each port stop, which impacts how much of an excursion that the cruisers are able to book while onshore – further reducing the offshore spend. Our hotel in San Juan is across from the cruise port and we saw each day some boats arriving about 5 pm and leaving at 10 pm – restricting the onshore visit to a limited number of still open Old San Juan shops and no tours. Yet the boats are dumping several thousand people on a small space, during this time. Major islands are visited on Sundays when many destinations have few to limited hours. The intent may be to capture more of the spend on-board. However since the advertising is pushing the product downmarket, these first time cruisers have less discretionary income to spend. Still the first time cruisers, having no reference point will have a great time on a cruise, just not as good a one as a few years ago. My wife is seeing her clients move to the smaller boats like on River cruises or small land tours, to recapture the traveling feeling of discovery. If you are retired, the last thing one wants is to be in a big controlled group. Clearly the big vessel cruse companies are messing with their product value. This usually opens up opportunities for other players to scoop out the high value customers.
November 28th 2013
The Social Media Side Door. How to bypass the gatekeepers and gain great access and influence. Ian Greenleigh.2014. ISBN 9780071816731. The author has written a go to guide for individuals and sales/marketing folks to really address the power of social media and do much more than at present. He has turned me around on innovative new ways of using Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn to reach out to prospects and targets/influencers. I was among the early adopters and forget that many people are just new to these topics. That said the author has taken a very fresh look at these tools which makes the book applicable to a very wide audience.
November 22nd 2013
The Hittite. Ben Bova 2010. ISBN 9780765324023. From the pen of a very famous and prolific science fiction writer comes his first historical fiction novel. I read it as part of my trip to Turkey. The Hittites were the prominent tribe of ancient Turkey after the Sumerians and alongside the Assyrians. The time is the siege of Troy after Paris has stolen Helen away from Menalaos, brother of Agamemnon. The Hittite empire has fallen and a small band of seasoned Hittite warriors get caught up in the siege of Troy and Helen as well. They travel trhough many parts of Turkey. Read the book for its depiction of those ancient brutal times and the descriptions of the ancient cities including Ephesus. A quick easy read for the plane ride over .
November 18th 2013
The places can get pretty warm in summer and wintry in winter. We were advised to suggest April and October for travel. That said we were there in November and aside from one cloudy day we had glorious weather. I broke out the shorts at Pammukkale and did not put long pants on until I got back to Istanbul. The Aegean coast is famous for is good weather and rarely gets any snow – true Mediterranean. (One of the reasons why Ephesus was so popular.) On the last day we went for a Bosporus cruise in Istanbul – it is well worth it. Very expensive real estate here.
November 18th 2013
From Vancouver we flew Lufthansa to Frankfurt and then on to Istanbul. Others used KLM to Amsterdam and then onto Istanbul. There is talk of next year a direct Turkish Air flight from Vancouver to Istanbul. We flew Turkish Air from Izmir to Istanbul. Good airline with some neat features. I.e. they have HD cameras on the nose and tail so you can watch the whole flight and view the ground as you go over. Watching a landing is so cool. The Star Alliance is very big in the EU so you can really build up your Aeroplan points. Our tour was organized through LandoftheGods Travel ( Amanda is an agent). Airfare was $1050 return , per person , all in (this was end of the season rates) . The land trip (airport transfers, hotels, bus, admission tickets) was $1600 per person and it was first class. All meals except for daily lunches and your dinners in Istanbul are covered. ( And we went to an amazing restaurant where I was first introduced to raki.) The bus is ultra modern, fitted like an air-plane, full wifi all over Turkey, with entertainment centres at each seat and two fridges for cold water, beer and wine on board. Really roughing it. What surprised me is that Turkey is pretty big. open and aside from crazy city traffic snarls the country roads were not that busy. I would not recommend renting a car and driving, the distances are big and tiring, unless you like that sort of thing. Think nine hours driving through Saskatchewan. If you do drive , it appears that speed limits, lanes and road signs are just guidelines, some drivers go as fast as they do on the German autobahns. Cities do not have many street lights, very limited parking, signs are in Turkish (think Cyrillic Hungarian/Finnish), roads can have unmarked hazards. And they do not tell you about local attractions on the highway. Due to the great distances, the roadside gas stations are big. Since it is so competitive, when the bus drives up, the passengers race to the WC ( sometimes one-holers, sometimes western). The bus gets a complete wash ( free) . The passengers sit down to eat a very good simple meal, with beer or tea and dessert – Maybe $12. And there is a whole bazaar to shop from.
November 18th 2013
Carpet weaving; Izmir, Turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Lots if you want it and its not junk. We did not “stop” at many shopping places, but the opportunity was everywhere. The girls got really good at haggling. No, walk away – price drops to 1/3. They also found that if they walked half a block to a local shop , the owner was really ready to deal. Scarves, purses, bags, leather goods ( Really good leather in Turkey – the lambskin products are incredible, innovative – and are sent to Italy, France and German high fashion houses). We watched heritage ceramic plates being created in Cappadocia. All handmade taking months to finish one plate , often only four out of ten making it to finished product. So I bought an example of the Tree of Life. As well we saw hand tied wool and silk rugs being made at a weaving school near Izmir. Again months of work to create. Since I do not see Persia in my travel plans, I bought a rug. These items are well worth the steep prices, since its a unique art, if your guide takes you to the right place. And I did spent $70 on fresh spices at the Istanbul spice market.
Thank goodness for the $800 individual duty free allowance , we almost went over.
November 18th 2013
Everything you like about the Mediterranean and then some. Since they sell to the EU there are no Frankenfoods, all local and organic. Boy can the Turks do breakfast. Don’t look for pork, but everything else.
I fell prey to the best yoghurt ever (They do not do low fat) , sometimes eight types with fresh fruit added available. I settled on big spoonfuls of plain yoghurt, with a ladling of grape molasses (think dark maple syrup, but not as sweet) to which I added scoops of beyond amazing Turkish apricot, nuts , raisins , figs, persimmon. So good I would opt for seconds. Then a nice omelet, incredible Turkish breads. Finishing with a slice of fresh dripping honeycomb. For a change of pace there were always two soups at every meal – and they do a mean soup. Lunch and dinner we would have lamb or fish with fresh vegs, sides of bulgar ( seemed better than we get a home), great breads with preserves, a selection (like six or more types of olives and fresh cheeses) and tables groaning with every imaginable salad. The local beer EFS is lite and dark , and it goes down really well. Always have a semisweet turkish coffee and lots of strong tea breaks during the day.
Juicing is pretty big so we would see pitchers of fresh cucumber/carrot, or beet/celery. or tomato available. There are also vendors who fresh press pomegranate juice everywhere and it is really good. A few of our group had gluten allergies etc. They found their symptoms subsiding within days and they started to eat the local breads and drink the beer , with no bad effects.
Yah, I added 8 lbs in 11 days. But you could easily be a vegetarian and really enjoy it. But do not go there expecting to lose weight, despite all the walking.
Near Ephesus ( Sirince) we had an amazing lunch at Bizim Ev. The chef is Hatice Mercan. We bought her book!
November 18th 2013
Turkey today is a modern secular mix of Christianity and Islam. You hear the call to prayer five times a day, but that plus the mosques are often the only reminder that this is an Islamic country. Friday is the holy day, so the bars stay open longer, while some places close on Sunday. The women look like they are in Paris and the men are all business ( No beards, fezes ). The President does not have a majority so like Harper he has had to look for issues to maybe get a majority. He is appealing to the simpler country folk that the country has lost its Islamic roots and needs to retrench. Lots of talk and little change (well in some places you can no longer buy beer at gas stations). The urban Turk is all over being European, worldly and they are having nothing to do with this talk, being more interested in the local soccer scores. The debates stay in the newspaper and the parliament, not on the streets- it would be bad for business. The biggest incident in years was local folks in Istanbul getting upset that developer was going to cut some trees down. (We saw more action from Greenpeace in BC over the years) Sure Syria is a neighbour. But the impact on your visit to Turkey is like the impact riots in Detroit would have on Toronto. You will stay in four or five star hotels (We were in Hilton hotels , the general manager in Izmir is a Canadian so he treated the 14 of us to an amazing really fresh seafood dinner, the local wine was really good, – I kind of lost track of the courses, once I started on the Raki shots – its like Ouzo yumm).)
November 18th 2013
With the exception of the coasts, the Turkey is high plateau. It reminded me of the Calgary area foothills and Peace River country. This was sugar beet harvesting time, so we saw truck loads of sugar beets.You travel through acres of farm land, growing an immense variety of crops. E.g. Turkey is a major olive and olive oil exporter. When you come into the cities ( which are quite large – Istanbul has 18m people) there is lots of industrialization including major car and truck plants (Ford, Mercedes etc.). With a good amount of geothermal activity there are thermal heating and power plants. Here and there you see windmill farms. With no oil of their own, Turks pays over $2 per liter for gasoline .
In the area called Cappadocia, there were centuries of volcanic eruption which lay down hundreds of feet of pumice and ash. This was covered with lava flows. Over time wind and rain eroded the area, forming what we would call hoodoos and they call fairy chimneys.
Since this was on an invasion/raiders route, locals dug their homes into the soft ground horizontally and vertically. We visited an underground city that goes down 9 stories and could house thousands of people. The walkways are narrow and low ceiling ed with trap doors worthy of an Indiana Jones movie.
You can take a sunrise balloon ride like we did to float over the amazing terrain.