Christopher
Stoll

Time for Some More Homebrew

I was bottling up some 2007 mead (honey wine) recently, when I realized that it has been quite a while since I have made a full batch of homebrew. I checked, and the last full sized batch I made was the Holiday Genniuss (an Irish stout) from 2005.

Normally, at this time of year I would be getting my fill of the Great Lake Brewing Company’s Christmas Ale. But, this year a six pack costs about $11, and with the recession in full swing I feel less inclined to splurge as much. I’m sure I will still purchase my fair share of Christmas Ale, but it will definitely be less than usual.


An urgent message to GM suppliers

Because our futures are linked, I want you to know that General Motors is doing everything possible to deal with the impact the financial crisis is having on the domestic auto industry. Yet despite our successful efforts to restructure, reduce costs and enhance liquidity, we are facing an uphill battle with the current administration and Congress in securing a bridge loan.

That’s why we need your help now. Simply put, we need you to join us to let Congress know that a bridge loan to help U.S. automakers also helps strengthen the U.S. economy and preserve millions of American jobs.


Crazy Cost Saving Ideas

Everyone knows that the economic conditions in the US are tough right now, and there are indications that conditions will further degrade before eventually improving. Most people and business have already adjusted their spending habits in order to ride out the economic storm. But, for some industries, just implementing the easy cost savings ideas may not be enough for them to make it through. I work for a company that relies heavily on the big US automakers. And, I conceive that even if the government rides in with bags of money for our sector, there will still be weak companies which will fail.

Will my company be one that fails? It’s hard to say. We are a private company, so the books are closed. There is no way to truly know what the company’s financial health is. But, since I rely on my income from this business, it is in my best interest to give every effort towards ensuring that the company does make it through. To that end, I have brainstormed ideas for cutting costs in IT (information technologies), and I have forwarded these on to our North American CIO. However, the headquarters for our company is in Germany and that is where the real technology decisions are made. And, they are generally less receptive to ideas that originate outside of Germany, especially when those ideas run counter to their existing strategy. I am afraid that the strategy, designed in good economic times, will only be modified once pain from the economic crisis increases in our sector. At that time it may be to late to implement these drastic ideas.


UNIX Split Script

At work we are getting ready to bring one of our facilities into our global standard EDI system. I am not on the EDI team, but as a member of the Application Operations group I manage the rest of their system. This is a big first step for this facility. We will remove their old, ungainly EDI system with it’s maze of scripts and put them on a streamlined, reliable system. But, until we can get them into SAP they will still have an old VMS based ERP system, and on OnBase system that does all the things that their old ERP system can’t do.


Take My Order Please

Why do we still have people manually taking orders at fast food restaurants? It seems like the largest point of failure in the whole fast food experience. A person pulls up and says what they would like, the worker has to understand them and then correctly key in the correct order. Why couldn’t I just pull up and key in the order myself? I think that the cash registers at the major fast food chains have visual keyboards for entering the order information, why not just let the customer punch in their order themselves. Many people pay with credit cards now, and you don’t really need human intervention for that. One of the greatest conveniences at the gas station is being able to pay and pump all at the same spot. And, even major groceries and home stores allow people to do self check out. So, why not make fast food faster and eliminate the person who takes the orders.

While we are on the subject, couldn’t we have an express lane for people who send in their orders via text message or email? Think about it. A person orders ahead by sending a text message, and then they simply pull up to the express lane, pay, and drive away with their food.

That would be fast food.


Trading KeePass for SplashID

Update: I use 1Password to keep track of passwords, and have for a long time now; this is a very old post. I have a Mac Tools page which shows the software that I currently use.

Since I purchased my iPhone a few months ago I have been continually trying to find ways to get more value out of it. They are fairly expensive devices, and I want to make sure that I get all that I can for my money. It obviously replace my old cell phone and to some extent my iPod, but the iPhone has also been a good substitute for the personal sub-compact laptop that I used to use. Now, there is only two electronic devices that I carry with me regularly, the iPhone and my memory stick.


Cholula and Popocatépetl

After work today we had the opportunity to visit the Great Pyramid of Cholula, which is the largest pyramid and monument (by volume) in the world. The huge structure is actually 5 overlapping structures that were created over a period of 10 centuries. The pyramid looks rather unimpressive from the outside, it resembles one of the many other small mountains or hills in the area, but archeologists have excavated miles of tunnels into it. Discovered in 1910 during the construction of an insane asylum, local legends say that the pyramid was so sacred that the people covered it with dirt to protect it from the Spanish conquistadors. But, it was probably covered by dirt from neglect or volcanic eruptions long before the arrival of Cortés.


iPhone Application Ideas

I don’t yet have an Apple computer to develop on, but when I get one I would like to write some applications for the iPhone. Maybe I could make some money off of them, but more importantly I could customize my own iPhone to do things that I want it to do in the manner in which I desire. Here are some of my ideas, I am sure many of them have already bee implemented in some form, but here is how I would like to see them work: