This is also broken: Hilton Hotels login

Continuing on with the “Flash ads should never obscure content or functionality on a website” theme, today I noticed I couldn’t log into my Hilton Hotel account because of some stupid ad for an olympics panda bear.

Here is me trying to login (click on the screenshot to see the .mov screen capture).

The sound you hear is me clicking and then smacking then punching my mouse button trying to get the login button to work. After I hit the teeny tiny close button, it works (the movie cuts off where my account page comes up immediately after).


After upgrading my first mac (powerbook) to another powerbook, then to an iMac and finally to a Mac Pro, I realized five years of using the Migration Assistant had finally run its course. Various basic parts (mostly Keychain Access) of Leopard stopped functioning properly and since everything ran great on my new Macbook Air, I decided it was time to backup, format, and reinstall fresh on my main Mac Pro.

A few hours after upgrading I installed Firefox and my most often used apps like Transmit and Textmate. Every few days I realized I needed one more app so I’d download and install it. After a week or so, I was pretty much done reinstalling.

Last year I wrote about doing as much as possible using online apps and how I found it really handy, so today I looked at my Applications folder to see how many things I’ve installed aside from the default Mac apps. I counted 11 applications total outside of iLife and iWork. It includes a couple proprietary things I need for installed hardware (like the wonderful ScanSnap) but it’s mostly the basics (Firefox, Transmit, etc) for doing my everyday work tending MetaFilter.

The thing that surprises me is that I reformatted my computer about six weeks ago, and I haven’t felt like anything is missing since. Thanks to a combination of almost all my work being done online and the great set of built-in functionality of OSX, I can get by on an almost completely clean system.

Ten years ago I had literally hundreds of apps on my Windows box, and I feel like I was constantly needing more.

Ranty McRantsalot on: Tracking numbers

I buy a lot of stuff online, so I get a lot of emails alerting me that my items have shipped, and here is a handy tracking number to follow their progress to me. Sounds great and super useful.

The problem is, if you click on the tracking number soon after you receive an email notification about it, your first impression is one of failure. For the first several hours, you usually get an error that tracking info can’t be found yet for that number. Later that day, it will usually update to “electronic billing information received” which tells you one computer at the retailer talked to another computer at the shipment company, but not much else. Several (unknown number, you have to guess) days later, the tracking info showing destinations left and the highly coveted “OUT FOR DELIVERY” status appears.

I’m a person that responds pretty fast to email and I keep a fairly short window for things sitting in my inbox (typically less than a day, so it’s zero at the end of the day), so that first day, tracking number emails are essentially useless. When they do have useful data several days later, it requires a search of my archived mail to turn them up and I have to remember to check on the packages days later.

Don’t get me wrong, tracking info for the shipment of packages is a great and useful thing, but the user experience of the first time you click on a tracking number link is almost always a disappointment. Is there anything we can do to make the first impression of tracking numbers a useful one?

May Cycling/diet update

May was a good month for biking. The weather improved to the point where I could ride pretty much any day I wanted to, taking my monthly mileage up to 333 miles (last month was a paltry 185). I surpassed the first of my goals for the year, which was to ride 1,000 miles in a year. For the last few years I’ve ridden just 600-800 miles over each summer, but never consistently rode enough to pass a thousand. It looks like I’ll be in the 2,000-3,000 mile range for the year if I continue riding as much as I have.

I also did my first big ride of the year, a leisurely 54 mile ride from a nearby town to the ocean. I’m feeling a lot stronger on my training rides and will be upping my mileage to at least 400-500 miles per month for the rest of the summer as I get ready for the 500 mile week at the start of September for Cycle Oregon. I’m planning on racing a bit as well, with some PIR races and Short Track later this month.

On the diet front, I’m still at the same weight that I was last month, but I did gain and lose several pounds in the middle there, so my weight loss of 10lbs at the beginning of the year is fairly stable (though I’d still like to keep going and lose 25 more). As I up my mileage this summer and eat more fresh foods, I suspect I’ll come down another 10lbs by mid-summer.

My Trek Lime city bike

Introducing my massaged Trek Lime. It went from this:

to this:

Front view

side view

(full photo set)

Using extra parts from old bikes and a bit of ebay, I did the following to improve the look of my Lime: removed rubber colorways (too iMac 1998 looking), added CETMA rack front and generic rack in the back, made custom slats for both racks using 1/8″ mahogany plywood which I clear coated, added a flask and holder, threw crank bros 50/50 pedals on, swapped out stock seat and post for an old carbon post and Brooks B17 saddle, threw on Nitto moustache bars with matching Brooks tape, and took off the stock 2 inch wide tires for 1.4 inch Ritchey slicks.

I’ve enjoyed my Trek Lime since I bought it last summer (I reviewed it for the NYT), but I wasn’t always happy with the look of it. After I attended the North American Handmade Bike Show in Portland (my photos), I considered building up a fixie or creating a frankenbike using an old track frame and bits of the Trek Lime to get gears and braking without any cable clutter. I’ve always loved the clean look of a fixie without its cables, brakes, or shifters, but I didn’t want to lose the utility/easy riding of having gears and a brake.

I loved the city bike designs (like this one) from the bike show: nice useful racks, tasteful materials and details, and overall easy to ride bikes. So I rummaged through my garage, bought some parts on eBay and starting dismantling and re-assembling my Trek Lime into something better.

I’m happy with the results, it still rides easy, the bars are very comfortable, I can toss tons of stuff on the front and rear racks, and it has the clean cable-free look I was after.