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Delta Airlines has terrible customer service

May 12, 2008 42 comments

My poor little sister just got totally destroyed by awful Delta employees. She was trying to fly cross-country for the first time with her 4 month old baby. Disaster ensued, and Delta totally blew the customer service. Money quote?

“I asked [the supervisor] if she cared that I had been treated poorly by Delta employees, and she said if I wanted someone to care, I should write to “corporate” and they were required by law to respond to me in 30 days or less.”

My sister doesn’t fly as often as I do, clearly, or she would have known how terrible flying has gotten these days. She would have done online check-in, and would have arrived earlier. She made some mistakes, and seemed willing to accept the consequences. But that’s no excuse for downright rude customer service. Would an “I’m sorry” or a smile have been so hard? Shame on Delta.

Anne, for the record, flying with Virgin America has been an absolute dream, particularly when paired with Clear. (Want a free month with Clear? Use code SCA04501). I wish both were everywhere – maybe someday. In the meantime, avoid Delta like the plague.

UPDATE: I should have known Consumerist would have lots of stories like this. Enjoy!

SmugMug on the front page of the LA Times!

December 24, 2007 10 comments

SmugMug isn’t your normal Silicon Valley startup. We do everything differently. And Jessica Guynn’s Column One article on the front page of the LA Times this morning captures our quirky nature perfectly. If you want a glimpse into our mad, wonderful world, head on over there for a great read.

Special thanks to Terry Chay and Stan Chudnovsky for introducing Jessica and making sure I followed up with her. 🙂

And an extra special thanks to all of our customers who’ve become part of the family and made SmugMug the company it is today. You’re the best!

Categories: business, family, smugmug

Meet Audrey – our littlest SmugMug

November 20, 2007 21 comments

On October 30th at 8:09am, I became a daddy again! Audrey Elizabeth MacAskill weighed 7 pounds 5 ounces and was 19.5″ long. Oh, and before I forget, she’s perfect:

Audrey Elizabeth MacAskill

My wife has a great blog entry about how she arrived, complete with more photos, but here’s my side of the story.

You may remember that we have young twins (22 months old, to be exact) who arrived very prematurely after a long, hard pregnancy, spent a lot of time in the NICU, and have now grown up into beautiful walking, talking little people. This time, I was surprised to find out, was very very different than last.

Baby Audrey

Audrey was full-term, and was delivered by scheduled C-Section. (Yes, we made an appointment months in advance, showed up, and out she came. Sounds crazy, eh?). There were no complications with the pregnancy, and no bedrest at all, let alone trips to the hospital. So you’d think I’d have been totally calm, collected, and prepared.

I wasn’t.

I was a nervous wreck! Last time, I was pumped up on adrenaline and excited to be a daddy, despite all the complications and the possibility of major problems with my super-early twins. I had no fear. This time, as I sat out in the hallway waiting for the surgery team to prep my wife for her C-Section, I had butterflies in my stomach and couldn’t stop thinking about all the things that could go wrong with the surgery. I guess I was feeling like everything had gone too miraculously well, so I started wondering when something would go wrong. Those of you who know me understand how uncharacteristic this is – my glass is *always* half full.

Cute Audrey

So I sat out in the hallway for an eternity, and as the time stretched on, I was convinced something bad had already happened. It was taking them forever to prep! But finally they called me into the surgery room and I put on my mask, slung my camera over my shoulder, and prepared for battle. The C-Section was remarkably similar to last time except for a few things:

  • They had to cut a bigger hole in my wife, it seemed like. Makes sense, with a much bigger baby.
  • The smell of her cauterized flesh seemed much stronger this time.
  • This time I got faint and woozy. I’ll bet cauterized flesh smells do that from time to time. I did not, however, pass out! I just had to sit down partway through. 🙂

Our new baby girl

The whole procedure took 9 minutes until my daughter was out, and then a few more minutes to stitch up. Audrey came out looking amazingly healthy – big and pink, with a perfectly round head. The nurses kept telling me how they’d never seen a baby with quite such a perfect head before. I beamed, of course, and kept hollering over my shoulder at my poor paralyzed wife that she’d done a great job ‘baking’ little Audrey.

And she had. Audrey was beautiful, crying well, breathing well, ten fingers *and* ten toes. No need to visit the NICU for this one – just the nursery for a quick bath and a thorough once-over. They pronounced her healthy and let me take her back to her Mama almost immediately, which was so nice.

Audrey, Elizabeth, and Don make 3!

In some ways, it was almost like being a daddy for the first time. Lots of these experiences were brand-new. Last time, we had to look at our kids through plexiglass. This time, she got to come stay in our hospital room with us as we took a nap. Last time, we couldn’t breastfeed them yet and instead had to feed them through a gavage tube in their nose. This time Audrey, aka ‘The Piranha’, latched right on immediately. As you can imagine, it was an emotional time for my wife and I – we could bond with our daughter immediately in a way we couldn’t with the twins.

Perhaps best of all, Leia and Logan really love their new sister. We were afraid they’d get jealous, especially of all the time Mama spends taking care of her, but they’re all smiles and love to help out. Whew!

Twins, Audrey and Papa

Leia and Audrey

Logan and Audrey

Thank you to all the nurses and doctors who helped us during our hospital stay, and especially during the surgery. And a special thank you to all of our friends and family who’ve been helping out with the kids during Elizabeth’s recovery. We’re so in love with sweet Audrey and we couldn’t have done it without you!

Categories: family, twins

iGot iPhone Part 1: The Event

July 2, 2007 11 comments

My twins with their iPhones

Yes, I got one.

In fact, we got 14 of the 8GB models. I love it, and as you can see, my kids love it too. 🙂 We got those ‘iGot iPhone’ shirts (with “iWas there – 6-29-07” on the back) while waiting in line at the Palo Alto store on University Avenue. This is that story – I also have a review written up.

I apologize that this isn’t technical, or even particularly well-written, but I wanted to get a brain dump of the event out so I could remember it. 🙂

The whole event was a blast, as I knew it would be. We (lots of SmugMuggers) showed up in Palo Alto on Thursday around noon. Robert Scoble and his son, Patrick, were already there, along with two others. We decided to get some lunch first and then get into line. 30 minutes later, we came back, and the Zooomr crew was in the house along with a handful of other people. We decided things were getting serious and hopped into line with numbers 16-20. (The numbers were written on some great Zooomr stickers).

We had a blast hanging out with Robert, Patrick, Kristopher, and Thomas immediately. Geeking out comes naturally to us. We were all wearing our red SmugMug hats, and people started asking us for some, so we sent a few SmugMuggers out on errands: get some hats to pass out, more chairs so we could have guests hang with us in line, a generator in case our power went out, etc. Soon enough everyone in line was sporting SmugMug hats and Zooomr stickers – how cool!

Pretty soon things started to get crazy and we had over 70 people in line. A few encounters with the police (who were very polite) later, we relocated around the corner of the store, instead of in front, where we were seriously obstructing University Avenue. Lots of press were there, from CNBC to the Palo Alto Daily News. Diggnation did a broadcast, too. I was pretty busy getting interviewed, but we also managed to get some coding and lots of testing done in line, which was fun.

People were getting hungry in line, so we called down the street to Pizza My Heart and bought pizza & drinks for the whole line. There was a real community feeling going on, and we were happy to contribute. Pizza My Heart gave us some great pizzas and a great deal.

Later in the evening, my father bumped (literally) into an old friend: Bill Atkinson, he of HyperCard and MacPaint fame, from the original Mac team. He’d come down to the store just to make sure the line wasn’t crazy, but we quickly convinced him both that it was crazy and that he needed to camp out with us. He called his daughter and asked her to bring camping gear and food, then settled in to regale us with some hardcore discussion about the AI work he’s involved with at Numenta. Turns out he’s literally helping to bring about the singularity, and it sounds amazing.

The dude is still freaking brilliant – I’m blown away every time we chat. He’s possibly the smartest person I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, and possibly the best photographer, too. There were lots of old Apple tales told, too, as you can imagine, including two of my favorites: the “I swore I saw windows re-drawing under other windows” story, and the “dolt” story. I don’t see them up on Folklore, so I’ll see if I can get Bill or someone to write them up.

The night went on, and we had a blast meeting new people, sharing ideas, and talking about the iPhone. Even Bill hadn’t played with or seen a real one yet, though he had a homemade one in his pocket. The day Steve announced the iPhone, Bill took a piece of wood and made a mock-up to the same exact size specifications, complete with rounded corners, printed out a high-res shot of the user interface, and glued it on top. He wanted to play with it in his hands to get a good feel for how it would work early on. The line ate it up, as you can imagine, and we all passed it from hand to hand.

Sometime around 1am, I realized that with the light and noise, we’d be lucky to sleep past 6am, so I busted out my sleeping bag and curled up next to Bill on one side, and Lee on the other. The streetlamps turned out to be the worst part – they were like laser beams boring into our eyes all night. The line started to compare notes on ways to “hack” the problem, including some suggesting shimmying up the lamp posts, but strategic hood usage from our hooded sweatshirts turned out to be the best solution.

I made it until 6:30am, so I did pretty well. Most people were up and awake by then, though, and I heard from plenty who got no sleep. Guess I was lucky. 🙂 By this time, the line was well over 120 strong and growing – and they needed food.

So we wandered down to Noah’s Bagels and told them we’d need 180 of them. The employees freaked out, and actually seemed upset with us. We nearly cleaned out the store, and the customers in line behind us weren’t so thrilled – but they could have just walked two blocks and gotten all the free ones they wanted. 🙂

Meanwhile, other fun people had been coming by. David Hornik, a smart and funny VC from August Capital, came by on Thursday night and Friday morning. Bruce Gee brought both his Segway and a SnoCone maker. And mid-afternoon, another old friend and original Mac team member, Andy Hertzfeld, showed up. We were all lamenting that Woz had gone to the Valley Fair store instead (it was closer to his house) because then we’d really have an amazing amount of early Apple talent on-hand.

Andy had actually played with an iPhone for an hour, and regaled us with tales of both the things it did great and the things that weren’t so great. We all talked about whether Steve would show up, but the rumor was that he’d gone to Manhattan for the first sale, so we guessed not.

My wife and kids came by for an hour or so, which was awesome. I missed my kids, sleeping on the street, and everyone in line loved seeing and playing with them, too.

Finally, the moment arrived. About thirty minutes before the store opened, we’d packed up all of our gear in one of our cars, and the line massively compressed – hundreds of people were basically hugging each other in line as we pushed to the front of the store. An enormous crowd of people not in line was gathered, and inevitably a few tried to sneak into line. But since we’d all been together longer than 24 hours, everyone knew their neighbors and the community easily took care of the problem. 🙂

We all counted down from 10 to 1 just like it was New Years Eve or something, and doors were finally open! Patrick went in first, to great cheers from the crowd and Apple employees alike. And then the rest of us streamed in. I’m not sure how many they let in at first, but I know we were in that batch, so it was probably 30 or so. We were screaming and cheering as we went up to our Apple sales rep and told him we’d like 14 phones (we had 7 people at 2 phones apiece). A few quick swipes of barcodes and one credit card and we were done – we had our iPhones!

After perusing the accessories for a few minutes, we figured we’d better leave to give other people a chance to get in the store. Bad move – Steve showed up literally a minute after we left. Dang. We’d gotten a chance to chat at D a few weeks ago, but my father and Steve haven’t seen each other in years and it would have been a blast to see them say hello again after so long.

And that’s it! We had a blast in line, bonded as a team, got our phones, and were a part of fanboy history.

(Oh, and the pink hair on my kiddos? My wife’s pregnant with a girl – and I started a family tradition of dyeing our hair to go along with the sex of our upcoming babies last time. The tradition continues!).

Want more? Here’s my review.

Forget the X-Men, SmugMuggers are on the scene

February 23, 2007 14 comments

SmugMug's Founders

Man, I love the company we’ve built!

We had a bunch of SmugMuggers in from out-of-town this week and, being a fun-loving photography company, we had to get some shots of our employees. Since our Help Desk is manned by Support Heroes, we thought a Super Hero theme would be appropriate. 🙂

I’m blue-and-gold Wolverine, above, with my co-founder and father Chris MacAskill as J’onn J’onnz aka Martian Manhunter. Last night four of us even showed up at the YUI party at Yahoo’s HQ with our faces still on. It was a blast – congrats to YUI on their first year!

Below, you can see the half of the company that was in Silicon Valley this week. Can you name each hero?

SmugMug employees

Lots more shots, including close-up portraits, in the gallery.

My brother, Ben, as V.
Neat, this got dugg. Go give it some love. 🙂

Categories: family, personal, smugmug

The newest smugmugs!

January 14, 2006 6 comments

I’m now a dad not once, but twice over. I’m not sure it’s totally sunk in yet. In the space of less than an hour we went from being pregnant (and expecting to stay that way for at least a little longer) to being parents. Crazy!

My wife is doing a much better job at blogging this than I am, so go read hers for the regular, frequent, detailed updates. But I do have one story to tell that she can’t: The C-Section. If you’re squeamish (like I am), you may not want to continue reading…. or click any of the links below. 🙂

C-Section ahead!

Those who know me well know that things like needles, blood, cutting flesh, and the like make me go woozy. I get faint enough to pass out most of the time. For the entire 7 months of the pregancy (our twins were born early at 31.5 weeks), everyone had been telling me not to watch the C-Section.

I watched.

And boy, was it cool! No sign of wooziness here, I can tell you. And yes, as a good smugmugger, I had a camera with me the whole time (Baldy’s Canon 20D for those of you keeping score at home). And I got some great shots!. Almost as soon as I got in there, I peeked over the curtain as a trial run to see if I could handle it.

What I saw on the other side didn’t really resemble my wife, or any human for that matter. The surgeons had covered her entire abdomen with a plastic sheet which adhered to her skin, and then began cutting through it. It was too surreal to be gross, and things only got more surreal as the operation progressed. It only lasted maybe 10 minutes, but it was crazy.

Perhaps the strangest thing for me was that they seemed to be treating my wife more like a slab of meat than a person. They were so anxious to get the babies out that they were exerting *lots* of force on her, pulling her every which way. I couldn’t believe she wasn’t feeling anything, but she wasn’t -she felt human on one side of the curtain, but looked like a side of beef on the other.

Then, after they’d cut through her skin, fat, and muscle, I saw something white poking out of the new hole in my wife. Thinking it was some organ, I almost turned back to my wife to chit-chat a little when I realized that wasn’t an organ – it was a tiny foot! Fascinated, I watched as the surgeons tried to grab said foot, only to fail. Leia, my little girl, was busily kicking them off of her as soon as they tried to grab it!

Finally they got a good grip and *yanked* her out. I don’t mean gently eased her out – they *hauled* her out and tossed her down on my wife’s stomach for a few seconds. (Yes, tossed. Again, like a side of beef). She looked more like a baby-shaped sausage than an actual baby – all white skin and wrinkles. Certainly not the pink baby I expected, and the doctors weren’t treating her much like one either. Leia lay there for a few seconds, obviously alive but helpless. She slumped down and patiently waited to see what came next – and I was in love. As soon as they snipped her umbilical cord, though, the nurses whisked her away and began to clean her up. Almost instantly her skin got all pink and she began to cry. Elizabeth and I beamed.

Mommy meets Logan

Looking back, there was now a surgeon with half his arm buried in my wife’s stomach. Basically up to the elbow, obviously trying to grab another slippery, squirmy, kicking baby. Finally they manged to get Logan cornered in there (poor guy had no-where to hide!) and hauled him out too. Again, sausage which looked remarkably similar in shape and size to a baby. Again, love. This time I had the presence of mind to get more than one photo, so we’ve got a little more photo evidence of his resemblence to a sausage.

Getting cleaned up

The fascinating (non-squeamish!) surgery part over, I ambled over to the two infant beds they had set up for the cleaning procedure. They were nice enough to let me cut Logan’s umbilical cord (again, no wooziness!) which was probably the first instant I really started thinking dad-like thoughts. The surgery was so surreal it hadn’t even begun to hit me that I was now a daddy. Beaming, I rushed over and told my lovely wife that I’d cut his cord, and watched her kiss her babies as they left for their reservations at Hotel NICU.

Hotel NICU

Now, a week later, I’ve gotten to talk to them (even sing a little, and I can’t sing!), touch them, change them, hold them, and (my favorite so far) read to them!

Thanks especially go out to the wonderful surgeons who delivered our beautiful babies, the nursing staff and doctors who were with us throughout the entire ordeal (short version: 2 years of infertility followed by miracle pregnancy and then 7.5 weeks of pre-term labor, with 5 trips to the hospital and my poor wife stuck in bed the entire time), and our family and friends whom we love so much. We couldn’t have done it without any of you.

I’m a dad – and my life has changed forever.

Categories: family, personal, twins
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