Business, Energy

Ormat turns in Strong Q4

02.27.08 | Permalink | Comments Off on Ormat turns in Strong Q4

Ormat reported revenues of $70.7M for Q4, up 6% from the prior year. More impressively, earnings doubled from $4.2M to $8.9M from the prior year. Details of operational performance are expected to be released at their earnings call scheduled for later today. Ormat’s stock closed at $43.82/share yesterday.


Frustrating PHX

02.27.08 | Permalink | Comments Off on Frustrating PHX

Since I seem to be on a travel related kick, here’s your travel warning about the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport. Leave early or fly first class. Why? Otherwise the security lines will cause you to miss your flight.

At Terminal 4 where we flew out on Sunday, there were 9 security checkin stations. Four of these stations were manned with 2 being devoted to first class, business class, and airport/airline personnel. That left 2 stations to service the hundreds of passengers left in a limitless line. In my mind, there were two frustrating aspects to this interminable wait:

  1. Inefficient/Ineffective screening – Let’s face it, if a person is unable to remove their shoes without assistance, they’re not going to be a threat to bring down an airliner. It’s not like these people are faking, harassing the elderly and physically challenged is a stupid policy that simply slows down the line. Next, the liquids screening policy is horse hockey, it adds nothing to security, slows down the line, and causes confusion about what can be packed. I listened to a screener giving a woman a hard time about a container with 4.2 ounces of makeup related stuff. I saw multiple people get hand scanned after the metal detector – what that says to me is the metal detector doesn’t work – if we need to hand scan folks, just do that and skip the metal detector. It’s as if no one is thinking in these places, they’re just droids enforcing policies established by mentally challenged bureaucrats.
  2. Ineffective use of personnel – Since I stood in the line for over an hour, I think it’s safe to say the 20+ people in TSA uniforms against the wall behind the closed screening stations weren’t on break. Yet, the entire time they were in small gaggles shooting the breeze while passengers waited their turn to be hassled by their colleagues. Sorry, but if you’ve got time to BS, you’ve got time to open another couple of freaking security stations to facilitate traffic flow. This is big government at its worst, thanks Bush Administration!

Travel in the post-9/11 USA is a nightmare, and it’s getting worse, not better. We need to retool the process to facilitate throughput of passengers and weed out the obvious threats. No matter what, the system will not be perfect – so let’s acknowledge that and move on. Meanwhile, whomever runs the TSA should be doomed to standing in their security lines watching their personnel screw around behind closed security stations in perpetuity.

Written from the Palais in Cannes, France. (no, not the film festival, it’s VMWorld Europe.)


The Last Rental

02.25.08 | Permalink | 2 Comments

Over the weekend I rented a car from Budget Rent-a-Car. I did so because it was relatively convenient, a competitive price, and prior experiences with them had been satisfactory. Mind you, this all happened in the following context: pressure to get to a flight on time, a boatload of stuff being carried, a cranky child in need of a nap, and a mind splitting headache.

Upon return of the car yesterday, the young man checking me in said “you’ve only driven 71 miles.” I said, OK, whatever is on the odometer I wasn’t tracking since this was an unlimited miles rental. He then said “I’m going to have to add $10.50 to your rental fee.” At which point I give him a quizzical look and he goes on to explain “Unless you drive more than 75 miles our policy is to charge you $10.50.” Why I inquire? “Because it’s possible to return the car with a full gas tank without having fueled up.”

To which I answer, I just put fuel in the car, it was on 3/4 and now it’s full. He responds “Where’s the receipt for the gas?” Now is the time that I make a decision, do I tell him about the hillbilly Circle K that had a broken receipt printer and I didn’t want to spend the 10 minutes waiting in line to perhaps get the receipt while my family is being harassed by the local wildlife (this really was a rough Circle K…) So I say “No, I don’t have it, the receipt printer was broken. Are you really going to charge me for not driving enough?” He hands me the Budget policy stating you’ve got to drive 75 miles or present a receipt for fuel or they’ll charge you $10.50.

The young man is now given a choice, I say to him “Turn on the car, look at the fuel gauge. It’s sitting above the “F” line. When I put fuel in it, it was at the 3/4 line. Do you think this car gets sufficient fuel efficiency to go 71 miles and still have the fuel indicator on “F”? Also, carefully consider this, I rent cars all the time and if you enforce policy without common sense, I will never rent from Budget again.” To which he responds “I’m just doing my job. You can take it up with customer service.”

Budget, no doubt you spend boatloads of money like every other large company on customer loyalty and satisfaction. This is something right out of Dilbert tales of Induh-viduals – I am neither satisfied nor loyal. Here’s what your $10.50 cost you: On average, I rent cars 3 times a year for personal activity (not business, that’s a different number unfortunately…) and each of those rentals cost around $200 on average. I figure that I’ve got another at least 30 years of rentals in me, so doing the math the total addressable Mike rental revenue is: $18,000. Up to this point, Budget was getting every other one, so that’s $9,000 in future revenue traded for 4 miles on a stupid policy and $10.50 of revenue now. I hope you make it last, because it’s the last revenue you’ll ever see from me.


Short Update on Publishing

02.22.08 | Permalink | Comments Off on Short Update on Publishing

Given that I’m headed into 10 days of travel and my day job has required 110% of my focus recently, publishing may be a bit sporadic over the next few days. As always, when something seems to be interesting, I’ll share. But the usual schedule of a few posts per day showing up in the morning will almost certainly be disrupted. But, I’ve got to imagine I’ll have something interesting to share from the desert, the French Riviera, or north-central Germany going forward…

Technology & Science

Microsoft vows compatibility, again

02.21.08 | Permalink | Comments Off on Microsoft vows compatibility, again

And they mean it this time. Not like this time, or this time, or this time, or this time.

You’ll forgive me if I wait to see the next Microsoft interoperability press release…I’m not buying this version of M$ Glasnost. I think the good folks at Redmond still view the world through “open sores” glasses vs. open source glasses. Caveat emptor.

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