Last Minute SFO Gotcha: Arrival Gate Delays!

Your plane that’s bound for San Francisco’s International Airport takes off on time and then lands at SFO on time. You have an hour and half before before your dinner meeting in San Francisco.

Everything looks good for you and then the pilot comes on the P.A. and says that there will be a little delay to get to the gate. Just 15 minutes. Well, that can still work. But then, after 15 minutes goes by the pilot again says that it will be another 15 minutes before the plane can pull to the gate. Now you are getting a little nervous. When the third postponement is announced, your blood pressure rises and now you will be late for your meet-up. This may be an uncommon occurrence for you, but arrival gate delays are an increasingly common occurrence at SFO.

As the San Francisco Bay Area’s business community has grown from the influence of the web and related technologies, its principal airport, San Francisco International has become congested with planes. Passengers arriving at SFO have oftentimes seen delays from 10 minutes to nearly an hour while waiting for a gate to become available.

SFO is a significant hub for United Airlines and sometimes their flights must wait for long periods for a gate to become available. Other domestic flights like Delta and the merged Alaska/Virgin America suffer from not enough parking places for passengers to disembark.

SFO’s international terminal, completed 17 years ago is frequently a source of anxiety for travelers from afar. It is not uncommon for international flights to wait 30 minutes to over an hour to be able to pull up to the terminal.

In one domestic flight case, a plane from Southern California was diverted to San Jose, 40 miles south of San Francisco because of fuel shortage. Not because the plane did not have enough fuel for the 7 extra minutes to make it to SFO, but not enough fuel to land and idle until a gate was available. After waiting at San Jose airport for nearly 20 minutes, the airline decided to let passengers off if they wanted because there was no solid prediction of when they would arrive at the gate in San Francisco. One passenger took a taxi all the way from San Jose airport to Marin County, nearly 70 miles away and a taxi bill of well over $300.00

Transportation greeters, family members and others can see that a flight has landed and wait at luggage carousels to meet their party but are mystified as the minutes go by with no passengers showing up.

In one of the most extraordinary cases, in May of this year (2017), when SFO was undergoing runway repairs in addition to a shortage of gates, a plane in Los Angeles pushed back from the departing gate and taxied to a holding spot. The plane waited there for 2 and a half hours, finally ran short of fuel and had to go back to the terminal to be re-fueled! It finally took off, arriving at SFO 4 hours later than scheduled.

Here is the new Terminal 1, part of construction to be completed by 2024.

SFO is currently underway with construction of a new Terminal 1 with expanded gate capacity.  The old terminal has been torn down and the loss of those gates only makes the matter worse until it is completed in 7 years.  More on this airport upgrade in a later post.

Many airlines, needing to add flights to the Bay Area are now routing them to Oakland International and the recently expanded San Jose International airport. Both of which currently have more available gates and time slots. More on this too on a later posting.

Pilots also seem to be the ones surprised and unable to estimate how long the delay will be. Passengers frequently get an optimistic prediction about wait times from the cockpit right after landing but then a few minutes later, the crew is on the P.A. announcing further delays. It certainly makes it hard for a business traveler to accurately relay their situation to greeters, co-workers and meeting planners.

Passengers and travel managers: Be wary of scheduling meetings and events close to scheduled arrival times


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What’s driving Silicon Valley to become ‘radicalized’ – The Washington Post

AN FRANCISCO — Like many Silicon Valley start-ups, Larry Gadea’s company collects heaps of sensitive data from his customers.

Recently, he decided to do something with that data trove that was long considered unthinkable: He is getting rid of it.

The reason? Gadea fears that one day the FBI might do to him what it did to Apple in their recent legal battle: demand that he give the agency access to his encrypted data. Rather than make what he considers a Faustian bargain, he’s building a system that he hopes will avoid the situation entirely.

“We have to keep as little [information] as possible so that even if the government or some other entity wanted access to it, we’d be able to say that we don’t have it,” said Gadea, founder and chief executive of Envoy. The 30-person company enables businesses to register visitors using iPads instead of handwritten visitor logs. The technology tracks who works at a firm, who visits the firm, and their contact information.

In Silicon Valley, there’s a new emphasis on putting up barriers to government requests for data. The Apple-FBI case and its aftermath have tech firms racing to employ a variety of tools that would place customer information beyond the reach of a government-ordered search.

The trend is a striking reversal of a long-standing article of faith in the data-hungry tech industry, where companies including Google and the latest start-ups have predicated success on the ability to hoover up as much information as possible about consumers.

Now, some large tech firms are increasingly offering services to consumers that rely far less on collecting data. The sea change is even becoming evident among early-stage companies that see holding so much data as more of a liability than an asset, given the risk that cybercriminals or government investigators might come knocking.

Start-ups that once hesitated to invest in security are now repurposing limited resources to build technical systems to shed data, even if it hinders immediate growth.

“Engineers are not inherently anti-government, but they are becoming radicalized, because they believe that the FBI, in particular, and the U.S. government, more broadly, wants to outlaw encryption,” said prominent venture capitalist Marc Andreessen in a recent interview. Andreessen’s firm, Andreessen Horowitz, is an investor in Envoy.

The government abandoned its effort to force Apple to help unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino terrorists and paid professional hackers to crack the phone instead. But experts say that the issue is far from settled, and will probably be the subject of court and legislative battles.

The FBI has found a way into San Bernardino Syed Farook’s iPhone, and is now dropping bids to force Apple to help them crack into the phone. See all the latest developments in the case, and why the case isn’t over yet. (Jhaan Elker/The Washington Post)

Start-ups are particularly wary, Andreessen said, of legislation proposed recently by Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that would compel tech companies to build technical methods to share customers’ encrypted data, at a court’s request.

“They believe there’s this window of opportunity that if we build strong encryption now, we can make it a fait accompli. But if we let five years pass, it may never happen,” Andreessen said.

In the past two years, more companies have embraced encryption, which scrambles information so that it looks like a stream of unintelligible characters to an outsider who accessed it without permission. What’s changed more recently, industry officials say, is that companies are encrypting data and throwing away the key to prevent their gaining access, a move that started with Apple but is spreading across the Valley.

This latter tactic is the most worrisome to law enforcement. Government officials have said repeatedly they do not want to outlaw encryption; FBI Director James B. Comey has called strong encryption a vital means of protecting the public’s personal information from hackers.

But officials insist that there must be a technical means to access that information when companies are served with warrants. Otherwise, there will be “profound consequences for public safety,” Comey told Congress in March. Terrorists and criminals are already using messaging services to which tech companies have thrown away the key, he said. Investigators say two such services, WhatsApp and Telegram, were used by terrorists in the Paris attacks last November.

“This is a Silicon Valley delusion that the government wants to outlaw encryption,” Stewart A. Baker, a former National Security Agency general counsel, said in an interview. “I grant that there is a radicalized subculture of engineers that is very prone to that delusion, but it is a delusion.”

Surely not every company will resort to building such systems. Many simply can’t. Their business relies on targeted advertising or the mining of customer data, and cutting off access would be a recipe for failure. But many start-ups that wouldn’t have considered it before the Apple FBI fight are now doing so and discussing the accompanying trade-offs, said Bret Taylor, formerly Facebook’s chief technology officer and now chief executive of the start-up Quip.

The trade-offs can be significant: Heavy encryption risks slowing down your service. It limits the ability to analyze customer behavior or introduce new features. (Encrypting email, for example, would make it harder to search through email.) Once you give customers the only key to their data, you can’t give them a backup if they lose it.

Such efforts over the past few years have been described as part of an arms race between large tech companies and potential invaders, spurred largely by the growing threat of cyberattacks. To some extent, they’ve also been prompted by a newfound wariness of government after Edward Snowden’s revelations about government surveillance, as well as a growing awareness among entrepreneurs of the sheer sensitivity of the data on their services.

Apple led the pack, launching end-to-end encryption with its popular messaging app, iMessage, in 2011. In 2014, the company blocked its own access to information stored on iPhones — data that disappears permanently after 10 failed passcode attempts. (End-to-end encryption enables only the partners trading messages to decode them. The companies providing the means to transmit them cannot.)

WhatsApp, the global messaging service owned by Facebook, announced end-to-end encryption this year, as did Viber, a messaging app that is popular in Europe. These years-long technical efforts predated the FBI case. Cloudera and Box, two larger tech start-ups selling data storage and processing systems to large corporations, have built encrypted systems over the past year in which only the customer has the keys needed to unscramble data.


The case between Apple and the FBI and the possibility of “backdoor” legislation — mandating encryption bypasses for law enforcement — is a new inflection point. Earlier this month, Google launched Allo, a chat app that allows users to switch on end-to-end encryption, and Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos said he was exploring measures to encrypt data and throw away the keys on devices owned by the Seattle-based company.

Stealth Worker — a start-up funded six months ago by the prominent incubator Y-Combinator — provides contract cybersecurity experts to early-stage start-ups, which often operate on a shoestring budget. Stealth Worker chief executive Ken Baylor said that in the past month he had been approached by a half-dozen companies looking for ways to build tougher encryption and other secure technical architectures. But many don’t want to talk about it, he said.

“They are afraid of a phone call from someone high up saying that they are unpatriotic,” Baylor said.

Bracket Computing, a 70-person Silicon Valley start-up, embarked on an encryption project about a month ago intended to make it easier for customers to hold the keys to their own data.

That way, “I can’t get subpoenaed the way Apple did,” Bracket chief executive Tom Gillis said. “This clears up the whole issue: If you have an issue with my customer, go talk to my customer, don’t talk to me. I’m just a tech guy, and I don’t want to be in the middle of these things.”

Gillis said that initially, customers seeking the ability to hold the keys to their data were large, sophisticated financial services companies, such as Goldman Sachs and Blackstone. Today, a broader array of companies, including media and automotive firms and small banks, are making these requests. Advances in Intel’s chips, he said, have made it possible to build these complex systems 13 times as fast as in 2010.

Building systems that cut off a company’s access to customer data is time- and resource-intensive, and these systems don’t come without risks.

Envoy CEO Gadea, an engineering prodigy who was hired by Google when he was just 18, estimates that his company’s data-wiping project will take a few months and about three engineers working full time.

Currently, when a visitor enters a building with an Envoy registration system, a message is sent alerting the appropriate employee that they have a guest. Envoy can send such messages — by text, email or other messaging services — because the customer data is stored on its servers, which are hosted remotely by Amazon Web Services, the cloud division of Amazon. The information is encrypted, but Envoy holds the keys to unscramble it. (Amazon CEO Bezos owns The Washington Post).

Under the new protocol, the engineering team will have to reconfigure the system so that the keys to unscramble the data are kept by the customers on the iPads used to sign people in. Envoy will no longer have the ability to access the keys. The technical challenge will be making it possible for the iPads to alert people when they have visitors, instead of having the alerts come from Envoy’s servers. The goal is to make the change unnoticeable to users, Gadea says, but it could take months to get there.

There will undoubtedly be many trade-offs, Gadea said. Not only will Envoy sacrifice the ability to send visitor notifications directly, but customer service also could be become more challenging. Today, if one of Envoy’s 2,000 customers asks for help correcting a mistake in a visitor name or resetting a password, an Envoy customer service rep can lend a hand. Under the new system Envoy’s reps could have their hands tied.


The new system could also make it harder to fix software errors because Envoy will no longer be able to push out automatic updates from its servers. And if a customer loses its passwords or keys, Envoy won’t have the ability to restore the lost data. It will be inaccessible forever.

Gadea said he is not anti-government and would sell Envoy’s services to the FBI if the agency wished to become a customer. “It’s like with your friends,” he said, “you’re always going to find one thing you don’t like about them. But you’re not going to hate a person because of one disagreement.”

And he said he understands the trade-offs.

““For a small startup trying to iterate quickly, it definitely slows things down,” Gadea said. “But in the long run, it’s a competitive advantage and it reduces risk on our company. I can sleep better at night.”

Detroit’s Big 3, Silicon Valley team up to develop self-driving cars : Business : Yibada

Detroit’s Big 3, Silicon Valley team up to develop self-driving carsSteve Pak | May 13, 2016 08:00 AM EDTGoogle Self-Driving Car (Photo : Twitter)Detroit automakers are teaming up with Silicon Valley to design and build self-driving cars. Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler known as the Big 3 are forming partnerships with companies such as Lyft and Google to bring autonomous vehicles (AVs) to the consumer market. The move combines the technology know-how of tech companies with the automakers’ experience in the mass production of vehicles.ADVERTISINGLike Us on Facebook Ford Motors announced on May 5 it was making a major investment in the California software company Pivotal. The two companies will develop cloud-based software used for alternative mobility services.   GM and Lyft are also teaming up to design robot taxis, according to The Detroit News. They could be tested in California within the next few years.Meanwhile, Fiat Chrysler and Google announced on May 10, Tuesday that the American automaker and search giant will build autonomous Pacifica minivans and start testing them this year.        The lightning-fast developments of self-driving technology are pushing tech and auto companies to partner and prepare for a future of driverless cars. The Motor City has physical factories and experience for mass-producing cars and trucks. Meanwhile, Silicon Valley is able to quickly develop solid technology.Taggart Matthiesen is Lyft’s director of product. He said that without a carmaker partner the ride-sharing company probably would not be focusing on AVs. He explained that Lyft and GM are working on two different parts of self-driving technology that help to develop driverless cars.The news of Ford and Lyft teaming up was two days after Google’s self-driving car division and Fiat Chrysler also announced they were joining forces. They will build 100 Pacific minivans. The smart cars will contain the Alphabet company’s self-driving technology including sensors and software.This is the first time Google has partnered with an automaker to add its self-driving system to a passenger vehicle. It will also boost Chrysler’s of auto tech.In related news, Google has announced it will pay Arizona drivers $20 per hour to test self-driving cars, according to The Verge.  The test drivers will get 12 to 24 month contracts. They will work up to eight hours per day and be required to provide oral and written feedback to Google’s engineering team.Here’s a hacker who built a self-driving car:

Source: Detroit’s Big 3, Silicon Valley team up to develop self-driving cars : Business : Yibada

Let’s go! Silicon Valley for tourists

Let’s go! Silicon Valley for touristsBy Matt HaberMay 11, 2016 Updated: May 11, 2016 2:23pm 0 Photo: Matt Haber A postcard from the edgeless, circa 2001.Back in 2001, when Mark Zuckerberg was 16 years old and people still sent mail, a friend, the late Bay Area artist Susan O’Malley, sent me a postcard from San Jose.On the front was an aerial photo of the Stanford Shopping Center. On the back Susan wrote, “I thought you’d enjoy this awesome postcard. Apparently they have built more parking garages at Stanford Shopping Center since this photo was taken.”Susan grew up in San Jose. In her 20s she had a wry take on her hometown, from the generic office parks to the backyard pools with cheesy water features. (Around the time she sent that card, she’d moved home from New York and dubbed herself artist in residence of her mom’s neighborhood.) Here, Susan seemed to be saying, is a bland dispatch from the blandest possible place, a postcard from the edgeless.Imagine my surprise, then, when I heard that tourists were flying into the Bay Area with the specific goal of visiting San Jose, Mountain View, Cupertino and other hamlets of Silicon Valley. There are even bus tours that promise photo ops for you to give a thumbs-up in front of Facebook’s “like” logo at 1 Hacker Way in Menlo Park, and walks along the hallowed campus pathways of the Googleplex, where the best and brightest Stanford and MIT graduates build the future between rounds of beach volleyball and sessions on the conference bike. (Look it up.)There’s even a hotel in Palo Alto called the Clement that offers a 24-hour guest pantry, rooftop pool with cabanas, and other ultra-luxe amenities to make you forget you’re in Palo Alto.Susan’s 2001 postcard from glamorous San Jose might have been a goof, but in 2016, Silicon Valley tourism is no joke.It was with this in mind that I recently boarded a Caltrain for Mountain View, also known as MTV by the hordes of day laborers bused in from the city. As the train left San Francisco, I felt like a gap-year tourist Eurailing into some untouched Mitteleuropean burg. What would I find in this enchanting land that time forgot?Since it was a Sunday, my companion and I exited the train and walked into an adorable farmers’ market. We sampled vibrant organic produce and fresh treats made by real-life farmers, including hummus (an exotic savory spread made with chickpeas) and cured olive fruits. (The farmer warned us that the seeds, known in the local dialect as “pits” or “stones,” were not edible.) I also picked up some strawberries that were far uglier, but more delicious, than the ones I usually get at Safeway.From there we promenaded along Castro Street. While it was less colorful than its San Francisco namesake, this Castro Street had fewer nearly naked people walking around. It also had charming spots like Molly Magee’s Irish Pub, established in 1997, nearly a year before Google, and Gelato Classico Ice Cream. For those traveling with children — or for overgrown man-children — there’s Rocket Fizz, a candy shop that features dozens of sodas inspired by celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian and Osama bin Laden.Walking around, I spotted several coffee places, like Red Rock Coffee, where patrons can sample European variations on the old American cup of joe, one of which is called an espresso and comes in the teensiest cup you’ve ever seen this side of a little girl’s imaginary tea party. To judge by the Starbucks, Peet’s, Phil’z and Coupa Cafe, the Valley runs on caffeine — plus toxic rare earth metals and tax loopholes.Of course, many of Google’s employees are probably getting their coffee — as well as breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner, midnight snacks and predawn munchies — on the company’s campus. On this drizzly afternoon, we spotted a few groups of tourists speaking various foreign languages roaming around taking photos of iconic sites like the Google cafeteria sign.Had we gone during the week, I assume I could have asked to visit the room where all my searches are stored. The Googleplex is huge and sprawls in all directions, since each of its users’ search histories is stored in a separate room, making it the world’s largest repository of late-night ex-girlfriend searches and requests for images of various rashes and over-the-counter ointments (and, to a lesser extent, unguents).What few of those tourists probably know is that the gleaming Googleplex was built on a burial ground: It was originally the site of Silicon Graphics Inc., a tech company that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009, something that will never, ever happen to the new crop of tech companies.Proving it understands the importance of history, Google has erected an Android Statue Garden to display its early mascots, including fan favorites Lollipop and Eclair. (Remember when Eclair-mania seized the nation in 2009? What a time!) Conveniently located near the Google Merchandise Store, at least one TripAdvisor user rated the colorful sweets-themed walk

Source: Let’s go! Silicon Valley for tourists – San Francisco Chronicle