Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.


Intersting Finds

I just realized I haven't shared one of my most indispensable "killer apps" with you. It's "" and it so flippin' awesome.

Hz is a free service (how it remains free or un-acquired is one of the 7 wonders of the world, if you ask me). It has many capabilities, but I really only use one of them. As you may know, I travel a lot and experience the dark underbelly of the travel lifestyle: flight delays, cancellations, missed flights, and re-routing. I also frequently end up in situations where I want to know if there is an earlier flight I can take to get me home sooner.

Hz is my hero. If, for example, I want to know what the next flights are from London's Heathrow to Portland, Oregon I simply send an email from my PDA to "" with the subject line "nextflight lhr:pdx" -- a minute or so later, I'll get a return email with a list of all of the flights between Heathrow and Portland, sorted by the number of stops first, then the departure time. Way cool.

Here's how this helps:

  • Last weekend, I was in London, trying to get back to Portland. I was going to take a flight to Frankfurt, then connect on a direct flight to Portland. However, the flight to Frankfurt was cancelled due to mechanical problems.
  • After an hour's delay, they reunited me with my luggage and directed me to "the guy" at the ticket counter for re-routing.
  • At the ticket counter, "the guy" wanted to re-route me through Seattle arriving in Portland at 9:something in the evening. I sent my email to
    • Me: "Hey - what about United flight 929? It'll get me there at 5:25pm..."
    • The guy: "I don't see that."
    • Me: "Can you see if you can look it up?"
    • The guy: "Oh - there it is. I can get you on it. It connects through Chicago."

Thanks, killer app - I'm home 3 hours earlier and manage to make it to Girl Scout night at a Blazers game with my daughter at 6pm!

That's one example - and I was able to quickly retrieve better flight options for a couple of people next to me - one who was also going to Portland, and another to Caracas, Venezeuela.

Hz also has a number of other functions. For example:

  • Finding the nearest...
    • Wal-Mart based on your ZIP code
    • Starbucks based on your ZIP code
    • Post office
    • ATM for your bank
  • Tracking packages for UPS, DHL, FedEx, and others
  • Finding area codes
  • Finding weather reports for a city
  • Stock information
  • Definitions
  • Gas prices in your ZIP code
  • Much, much more!

To get a full list of the commands, send an email to with the subject "commands" and you'll get an email back with all the amazing stuff it can tell you. (or, check out the web site at

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