Monday, May 2, 2011

Test of the Distracted Driving Eye Reader Unit

Just wanted to write this up before I went to the SEMA Summit.

I tested a product called the driver fatigue alarm system. I am much better at expressing myself with the spoken compared to the written word but I will do my best to make this comprehensible.

I picked this up on my last visit to China and the product works by using a scanner that can read your eye movement and then will signal you to “Please Pay Attention to the Road” (in a Man’s Voice) or “Please Concentrate on Driving” on the road in a Women Voice. I drove with it for 35 hours driving from Los Angeles to Virginia Beach (in 3 days) and here are some things that I noticed. You can see the picture I posted. It has a Camera in the middle and what I think are infared lights around the edges. At night the infared lights were red in color but during the day you could not even see they were on. There is also a green light that is on that flashes when your head begins to turn.

First of all I learned that I am a very distracted driver. Just when I was starting to drive and went to program my GPS the unit told me to “Please Pay Attention to the Road” I continued to receive this warning when I tried to change radio stations, talked on the phone and was not paying attention (my phone was hands free) looked at deer on the side of the road, (or roadkill) reached over to pick up a burger or fry that was on the passenger seat or looked at tornado damage. I took my eyes off the road a lot during my 35 hours of driving. It would first give you a warning in a polite voice and if you did not look back at the road then it would start a very obnoxious beeping.

I think the unit was effective. It had multiple warnings but when I was driving long stretch of roads I could go an hour or longer without a reminder. It did not work as well on winding roads as your head would need to turn to follow the road and the indicator would tell you to “Please Concentrate on your Driving” It also seemed to go off unexpectedly when the road was very bumpy or wavy so there was a lot of movement in the vehicle. I also was not happy how it performed in the cities where you had to move your head a lot more as you made turns from one road to another and had to scan a lot more for safety reasons to drive. You cannot always just keep your head pointing forward. There is a 2 second lag time though and most of the time this seemed adequate but if you were on a small road pulling onto a major road and had to keep your head turned for an extended period of time to wait for a clear spot to pull out the beeping was a little too much. I did end up unplugging it during phone calls because as I continued to move my head it became a point of conversation for those that were calling me. I also would unplug it when I was driving on local roads as my head needed to move much more then the unit would allow.

It also did not seem to be real consistent. It has 3 sensitivity setting and I ran it at the most sensitive for the whole drive but sometimes it seemed very sensitive and other times it was not as sensitive. It seemed to make a difference if you were wearing a ball cap or not and it seemed to work best when wearing no hat but wearing Sunglasses. It seemed to work better on those then with my regular glasses or no glasses at all. In fact sometimes I wondered if it was reading head movement instead of looking at my eyes but I never did dare to just close my eyes for 2 seconds while I was driving to see if the warning would go off. The other thing is that whenever I rested my hand on top of the steering wheel it would block the eye reader and I would get the warning.

The other thing I noticed is that it seemed to work better at night then during the day and seemed to be worse when the Sun was shining in the back window directly into the sensors on the unit. I would guess for the 15 minutes or so of direct sunlight that came at Sunset (I was driving east) that the sensors seemed to not work at all. I also would guess that it worked better at night because you are not as distracted as you cannot see deer and other things off the side of the road that would attract your attention.

In conclusion I would say that the unit works but it is much better for long haul drivers then city drivers. I showed one guy at a truck stop and they commented that it sounded like his wife but at least he would not have to feed it or stop to let her go to the bathroom and he could always unplug it if it got too annoying. I think that all parents who have children that have a tendency to text and drive would benefit by having one of these in their car. On the few occasions that I dipped my head to check an email on my blackberry the buzzer went off. I do have to say that it did make me pay more attention to the road and also made me realize how often I take my eyes off the road while driving.

It did work but I would think it would be something you would not want in your vehicle 24/7. It would be good use for long drives and to put in some one’s car who you know had a problem with texting and driving. You would just have to make a unit you could not shut off for them.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Did I do the right thing? Should I have been more aggressive?

So here is what happened to me the other day. It was Tuesday AM and I was talking the Shuttle from that Parking Spot Garage to United Airlines Terminal to Catch my flight.

The driver of the Shuttle was doing his job and dropping people off at their terminals. It was early in the morning, about 6:30. When we got to the Delta Terminal the driver got out of the shuttle and helped a lady with her bags. She gave him a couple of bucks but then before he got back in the shuttle he stepped forward and picked up something off the ground. It was black and looked like a wallet to me. Then he got back in the shuttle and shut the door and waited to get back into traffic. While he was waiting a well dressed black man with a hat that looked like a french beret and a nice scarf and jacket came out and started to look around his truck for something he had lost. He seemed upset and I knew that what he was looking for was most likely the item that the driver had picked up. Before I had a chance to say something the driver pulled out into traffic and was heading toward the next stop which was my terminal.

This really bothered me so when I got out of the shuttle I mentioned to the driver that he should have given the guy his wallet. He told me he did not take a wallet and then pulled out something that looked like a black bag that you would put sunglasses or some other valuable items in. I was walking away from the shuttle and did not want to engage him, I just wanted to be his conscience.

Now my question to you is? Should I have said something earlier so the guy would return it when we were still stopped? There was a very narrow window to do that. Should I have said something right when he picked it up? Should I have said nothing?

I like the pay it forward type attitude. You see someone doing good and then you do good. I also like the Karma concept or what goes around comes around. These are nice ways to think and rationalize doing right but we all know that deep down good people will do good things and bad people will do bad things.

So what do you think?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A lot has happened to me in the last Month

First of all the day after I cut my hand I was supposed to fly to Japan. That was the day of the big earthquake so they cancelled my flight (I was lucky my flight was not 12-15 hours earlier or I would have been in Japan during the earthquake).

With the cancelling of my flight I had time to go get my hand stiched up. The doctor reprimanded me because I went in after the wound was already 24 hours old but she still did her best to sew it up.

I then was back at a Police Cheif Show in Utah about 10 days after that. We were selling tons of knives and lights (it seems like Men need their knives and lights as much as Women need new shoes) and we had a guy in the booth just up from ours that would use our Stun Gun that looks like a cell phone. (See Picture) and he would stun himself. Each time he stunned himself we had 3-4 people come over to our booth and buy these stun guns.

This was crazy. When I was at the Shot Show we had people who would stun themselves but never more then once like this guy was doing. He would grimace and say how much it hurt each time but would still continue to stun him.

Any way the Stun Guns are also moving very well for personal protection. We can hardly keep them in stock and it seems like most that see them buy them because of the sharp prie points.

I am heading to China next week. Hopefully no natural disasters to keep me grounded here.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I need to stay away from Shows in Vegas

I have not blogged for a while. I had lots of things to say about lots of things that interest me and possibly no one else but I had some interesting things happen to me at the Sheriff Conference.

I always like the Sheriff Conference's. They are always very interesting and informative. I met a Sheriff who told me the story of finding a man who was raising 47 pit bulls for fighting. They took the dogs and sent them to a shelter (pit bull relocator) in Vegas and all but 7 were adopted.

I met the Sheriff who was in charge of the incident where the man fell down the mining shaft in Northern Nevada and could not be rescued. Another Sheriff told me about an incident they had involving some border crossing problems and many many other stories. Sheriffs are often the most important person in their counties and they are mostly personable and good people.

The reason I may need to stay away from Vegas though has nothing to do with the Sheriffs or the obvious losing money at the tables and the machines it has to do with hurting myself. We now carry a nice line of knives. While taking down the booth I got into it with a knive and ended up stabbing my hand. Look at this pic. It is kind of gross but a picture is worth a thousand words.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Truckers are the greatest people.

I am not sure this is true or not but I know so many truckers that would give you the shirt off thier back or a meal so you wouldn't go hungry that I had to post this. I wanted to just send it on Facebook or Twitter but it is too big so I hope you take time to read this to show what great people truckers are and to hopefully brighten your Christmas.

The Folded Napkin - A Trucker Stop Story.

If this doesn't light your fire, your wood is wet!

I try not to be biased, but I had my doubts about hiring Stevie. His placement counselor assured me that he would be a good, reliable busboy. But I had never had a mentally handicapped employee and wasn't sure I wanted one. I wasn't sure how my customers would react to Stevie.

He was short, a little dumpy with the smooth facial features and thick-tongued speech of Downs Syndrome. I wasn't worried about most of my trucker customers because truckers don't generally care who buses tables as long as the meatloaf platter is good and the pies are homemade.

The ones who concerned me were the mouthy college kids traveling to school; the yuppie snobs who secretly polish their silverware with their napkins for fear of catching some dreaded 'truck stop germ'; the pairs of white-shirted business men on expense accounts who think every truck stop waitress wants to be flirted with. I knew those people would be uncomfortable around Stevie so I closely watched him for the first few weeks...

I shouldn't have worried. After the first week, Stevie had my staff wrapped around his stubby little finger, and within a month my truck regulars had adopted him as their official truck stop mascot.

After that, I really didn't care what the rest of the customers thought of him. He was like a 21-year-old in blue jeans and Nikes, eager to laugh and eager to please, but fierce in his attention to his duties. Every salt and peppershaker was exactly in its place, not a breadcrumb Or coffee spill was visible when Stevie got done with the table.
Our only problem was persuading him to wait to clean a table until after the customers were finished. He would hover in the background, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, scanning the dining room until a table was empty. Then he would scurry to the empty table and carefully bus dishes and glasses onto his cart and meticulously wipe the table up with a practiced flourish of his rag.

If he thought a customer was watching, his brow would pucker with added concentration. He took pride in doing his job exactly right, and you had to love how hard he tried to please each and every person he met.

Over time, we learned that he lived with his mother, a widow who was disabled after repeated surgeries for cancer. They lived on their Social Security benefits in public housing two miles from the truck stop. Their social worker, who stopped to check on him every so often, admitted they had fallen between the cracks. Money was tight, and what I paid him was probably the difference between them being able to live together and Stevie being sent to a group home. That's why the restaurant was a gloomy place that morning last August, the first morning in three years that Stevie missed work.

He was at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester getting a new valve or something put in his heart. His social worker said that people with Downs Syndrome often have heart problems at an early age so this wasn't unexpected, and there was a good chance he would come through the surgery in good shape and be back at work in a few months.

A ripple of excitement ran through the staff later that morning when word came that he was out of surgery, in recovery, and doing fine.

Frannie, the head waitress, let out a war hoop and did a little dance in the aisle when she heard the good news.

Bell Ringer, one of our regular trucker customers, stared at the sight of this 50-year-old grandmother of four doing a victory shimmy beside his table.

Frannie blushed, smoothed her apron and shot Bell Ringer a withering look.

He grinned. 'OK, Frannie , what was that all about?' he asked..

'We just got word that Stevie is out of surgery and going to be okay.'

'I was wondering where he was. I had a new joke to tell him. What was the surgery about?'

Frannie quickly told Bell Ringer and the other two drivers sitting at his booth about Stevie's surgery then sighed: 'Yeah, I'm glad he is going to be OK,' she said. 'But I don't know how he and his Mom are going to handle all the bills. From what I hear, they're barely getting by as it is.' Bell Ringer nodded thoughtfully, and Frannie hurried off to wait on the rest of her tables. Since I hadn't had time to round up a busboy to replace Stevie and really didn't want to replace him, the girls were busing their own tables that day until we decided what to do.

After the morning rush, Frannie walked into my office. She had a couple of paper napkins in her hand and a funny look on her face.

'What's up?' I asked.

'I didn't get that table where Bell Ringer and his friends were sitting cleared off after they left, and Pony Pete and Tony Tipper were sitting there when I got back to clean it off,' she said. 'This was folded and tucked under a coffee cup.'

She handed the napkin to me, and three $20 bills fell onto my desk when I opened it. On the outside, in big, bold letters, was printed 'Something For Stevie'.

'Pony Pete asked me what that was all about,' she said, 'so I told him about Stevie and his Mom and everything, and Pete looked at Tony and Tony looked at Pete, and they ended up giving me this.'
She handed me another paper napkin that had 'Something For Stevie' scrawled on its outside. Two $50 bills were tucked within its folds. Frannie looked at me with wet, shiny eyes, shook her head and said simply: 'Truckers!!'

That was three months ago. Today is Thanksgiving, the first day Stevie is supposed to be back to work.

His placement worker said he's been counting the days until the doctor said he could work, and it didn't matter at all that it was a holiday. He called ten times in the past week, making sure we knew he was coming, fearful that we had forgotten him or that his job was in jeopardy.

I arranged to have his mother bring him to work. I then met them in the parking lot and invited them both to celebrate his day back.

Stevie was thinner and paler, but couldn't stop grinning as he pushed through the doors and headed for the back room where his apron and busing cart were waiting

'Hold up there, Stevie, not so fast,' I said. I took him and his mother by their arms. 'Work can wait for a minute. To celebrate you coming back, breakfast for you and your mother is on me!'
I led them toward a large corner booth at the rear of the room.

I could feel and hear the rest of the staff following behind as we marched through the dining room. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw booth after booth of grinning truckers empty and join the procession. We stopped in front of the big table. Its surface was covered with coffee cups, saucers and dinner plates, all sitting slightly crooked on dozens of folded paper napkins 'First thing you have to do, Stevie, is clean up this mess,' I said. I tried to sound stern.

Stevie looked at me, and then at his mother, then pulled out one of the napkins. It had 'Something for Stevie' printed on the outside. As he picked it up, two $10 bills fell onto the table.

Stevie stared at the money, then at all the napkins peeking from beneath the tableware, each with his name printed or scrawled on it. I turned to his mother. 'There's more than $10,000 in cash and checks on that table, all from truckers and trucking companies that heard about your problems. 'Happy Thanksgiving.'

Well, it got real noisy about that time, with everybody hollering and shouting, and there were a few tears, as well.

But you know what's funny?
While everybody else was busy shaking hands and hugging each other, Stevie, with a big, big smile on his face, was busy clearing all the cups and dishes from the table....

Best worker I ever hired.

Plant a seed and watch it grow.

At this point, you can bury this inspirational message or forward it, fulfilling the need!

If you shed a tear, hug yourself, because you are a compassionate person.

Well.. Don't just sit there!

Send this story on!

Keep it going, this is a good one!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The good the bad and the ugly

First of all I must not be very creative to call a post that. I mean has any title been more used then that but I wanted to talk about the SEMA show and that is the only way I can describe it.

First of all the good. The Show was great. More people then I expected and the buzz about our product was great. We had so many people stop by it was amazing. We met the national champion BBQ cook and also a 7 year old that drives monster trucks. My wife got his signiture and we took a picture of him with some of our collapsible cones and duroflash. He seemed like a really nice boy.

The bad was two fold. If you remember last year when I was at the SEMA show we had a break in at our home. The burgalars let the dogs out and one was hit by a car and killed. They also stole some valuables we had and upset my wife and kids so much that I drove home each night from Vegas to LA just so my family could sleep. This year it seemed like all was going well. The show ended and we got started to moving our truck around so we could pick up our booth. I made it almost to the front of the line and was sitting in my truck with the engine off and all of the sudden the guy in the truck infront of my decided he needed to back up. He backed right into me and really messed up the front left side of my Sequoia. I had several witnesses come down as it happened right in front of everyone and gave me their cards and asked if I needed a witness. The police came over and asked me if I was okay but because it was on private property they told me to work it out with the owner of the truck and they could not write a report. I went up got the owner and he said not to turn it into the insurance company that he would pay for the damage. I thought all was okay until today when I sent the guy the estimates and then he changed his tune and said I ran into him. My car was in Park and even though it is a Toyota I can tell you it was not moving when I got hit.

That is the ugly part of this whole thing. I trusted a guy and then he got me to a spot and took off. This is just like a hit and run. He would not give me his insurance information or the drivers, drivers license when we spoke. I had mine already pulled out to exchange information. I was trying to do the guy a favor by not turning it in to his insurance and then he pulled out this on me. I feel bad. I feel bad that I am so trusting. I also feel bad people cannot be trusted. The money is the money. I turn it into my insurance company pay my deductible and get it fixed. I give them all the witnesses etc and they investigate the guy. I just wonder when it became a bad thing to trust people?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Have you ever heard anyone on line admit they did not know something?

First of all I would like to say that I just got back from China and I have some very interesting products to possibly add to the line.

But my main interest of conversation today is internet marketing. I am on a few of the social websites. Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter are the main ones. The one that I find the most useless is linkedin. The reason is that everyone on that site proclaims to be a professional and they are all perfect. I brought up a question on one site about a problem I had with a certain type of employee and I received over 250 responses. They ranged from telling me it was my fault for letting the employee get away with that behaviour to saying that I should never hire that type of person to began with. Only one person in the over then 250 response ever admitted to actaully making a mistake themselves.

The reason I bring this up is not because I fault the people for hiding their warts but it makes me wonder how much I can trust of what I see on line. You cannot see their eyes when they tell you something or other body language that could tell you the accuracy of what they are saying. I think currently the way the internet works is the opposite of how I was raised which was trust first until they gave you reason not to trust. The internet is teaching us to not trust first until we get a reason to trust. It has made skeptics of us all and I am not sure this is a good thing.

I have a great but simple plan to help working people make some extra money. I am not talking about $50,000 a month but I am talking about $500 - $1000 per month pretty easily. The problem is whenever I try to present it I get rejected by most people who are not even willing to look at the idea.

I guess the whole key is to deal with people you trust. On another note I would really like to learn how to drive big and specific traffic to a website. I see all the offers of people who say they have this skill and I would pay for someone who I really felt would deliver results but I am just as skeptic as those I complained about in that I do not know who to trust and who not to trust. I guess the internet has made all of us that way.