Dan's Green Shoes

Got my green shoes on!


Fast Food Drive-Thru, 2 lanes faster than 1 Results


The poll results and comments are very interesting. Most people feel 2 lanes versus 1 makes no difference but not all agree. This validates why I wanted to build a simple model and see what I could learn. I created this model to have fun and encourage readers to not take the results too seriously. I do think the model is a great start to an iterative approach of building a much more complex drive thru model though. You learn a lot in building a process model and I have come to appreciate the subtle details necessary to fully model a drive thru.

Here is a video of me running the model and comparing 2 lane versus 1 lane on average time to get your food.

Inputs and Assumptions

My goal was to see how quickly I could capture the general flow of a drive thru and only add details as needed. The model is data driven and a user can easily change the following:

Parameter Default
Number Of Lanes 2
Order Time In Seconds U(30,15)
Percent Pay By Cash 50%
Pay By Credit Card Seconds U(15,5)
Pay By Cash Seconds U(30,5)
Pull Ahead Threshold Seconds 45
Pick Up Food In Seconds U(15,5)
Vehicle Arrival Frequency Minutes E(1)
Vehicle Arrival Quantity 1

Certainly this list is not exhaustive, but I feel representative of the types of things that determine a drive-thru’s process performance. Just to get reasonable defaults I recorded my wait times through various fast food drive-thrus. I also recorded other driver’s times while I was there. Anyone know if drive thru times are publicly available?

I used a Google Map image of a real drive-thru and the distances are to scale to accurately model the impact of vehicle length. The vehicles move 1 mph as they move though the drive-thru queue.

When picking up the food, if the model determines it will take greater than 45 seconds, the car is told to pull ahead and not block the vehicles behind them.

Potential Next Iteration

Even with black boxing the “Get Food” window with a simple, single time distribution, 2 lanes ended up being faster. Had this not been true, I was planning on modeling what specific items a driver orders. I would actually model the kitchen area and the cooking of that restaurant’s menu of items. Drivers would have to wait for their specific ordered items to actually be cooked and ready.



Fast Food Drive-Thru, 2 lanes faster than 1?

Have you noticed that many of the new fast food restaurants have 2 drive-thru lanes.  My first experience with one I thought “wow, really?”.  I found myself frozen with confusion.   My wife saved me by pointing to the left lane.  Similar to choosing a restaurant or a movie, I now can blame her if the car behind me gets the food first.

My car reached the ordering sign.  I am terrible at ordering fast food.  Even though I drive 99% of the time, my wife will lean over me and shout the order through my window.  There are just too many details my over-indulged kids care about that the make the process too complicated.  Have you ever communicated the perfect order only to be replied with “sir, can you repeat that?”.  AHHH.

To my surprise, I noticed all cars converge on a single “pay” window.  2 lanes should be faster than one, right?  I thought it would be interesting to model the typical fast food drive-thru process comparing 1 versus 2 lanes.  Before sharing the results of my simulation model, I wanted to poll what you think.


One of the top 5% most viewed @LinkedIn profiles

I received an email this morning from LinkedIn stating I was one of the top 5% most viewed profiles.


I am pleasantly shocked by this.  I “think” this is something i should be excited about, but honestly, i just don’t know…

I think it is now time to turn off that automatic profile clicker I installed on all the computers at my office Smile.


My disappointing AncestryDNA results

According to family stories, my Great Grandmother was 100% Native American.  Whenever I share this, the common response is “man, you could get free college, did you know that?”.  (BTW, I did a quick google on this and the rumor of free college for Native Americans is not true.).  As a child I was known for getting extremely tan in the summers and everyone used to say “must be that Cherokee in him!”.  So funny.

I already paid for college education, but, I have to admit, I desired to claim I was Native American.  In fact, I could not wait to see how much of a mutt I was.  Heck, the more the merrier was my thinking.  So, with great disappointment, allow me to share my results….


How amazingly boring!  I am 96% from modern day England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales.  Where is Great Grandmother’s Native American blood?  I so badly want to drill into the measly 4% and get me some good ole diversity out of it.  I anxiously waited 4 weeks to be boring, /sigh.

Continue reading


ASP.Net MVC 4 SPA navigation with Sammy.js

I am learning from John Papa’s “Single Page Apps with HTML5, Web API, Knockout and jQuery” on Pluralsight. The course outlines building an application called “Code Camper”.  The “Code Camper” sample is very effective at showing an end to end SPA design.  It leverages a bunch of open source libraries and can be a lot to take in all at once.  One of the libraries used is called Sammy.js.  I decided it would beneficial to focus on just Sammy.js library which is the focus of this blog post.

If you are like me then you are also new to Single-Page Applications.  I find it helpful to start with a simple definition.  Wikipedia defines SPA as a “web application…that fits on a single web page with the goal of providing a more fluid user experience akin to a desktop application.  In an SPA, either all necessary code – HTML, JavaScript, and CSS – is retrieved with a single page load, or partial changes are performed loading new code on demand from the web server, usually driven by user actions.” Continue reading


Can DNA testing reveal my true surname?

I have been using  www.ancestry.com to build up my family tree.  The experience has been fun and interesting to say the least.  For example, my research suggests that my surname should NOT be Hickman.

Allow me to explain….


My father is Donal Ray Hickman, whose father is Dolon Hickmon.   Dolon’s mother was Thetis Brumley.  Though the picture above shows James as the father of Dolon, I don’t believe this is correct.  Check this timeline out:


Thetis had my grandfather Dolon in 1920.  Thetis was married to James in 1922.  Thetis and James had a son named James Junior a year later in 1923.    I think it is weird to name your second child “Junior”.

My grandfather Dolon lists Oklahoma as his birth place, though all my family is from Tennessee.  I shared this with my father to which he basically said I was out of my mind.  Couple of weeks later, my dad and mom called me.  My dad (Donal) remembers his Dad’s (Dolon) brother James Junior referring to Dolan as his “half brother”.   He never really gave it much thought until now.

My folks made some calls and the rumor is that Thetis was working as a servant to a doctor in Tennessee who might have gotten Thetis pregnant.  Out of embarrassment, the family moved Thetis to Oklahoma to have Dolon and then 2 years later moved back to Tennessee where she met and married James Hickman.   To keep things socially acceptable, they just gave Dolon the Hickman surname.

I do not have Dolon Clyde Hickmon birth certificate.  I tried to get it from Oklahoma but was denied due to lack of supporting information.   I do have Dolon’s Army papers where he listed Oklahoma as his birth place.  I am stuck.  It really bothers me that my surname of Hickman might not be correct.  It changes everything yet nothing at all.  I requested a quote from professional genealogists and boy was it expensive with no guarantee.  I turned it down.

I love technology, science and big data.  DNA testing definitely fascinates me.  Ancestry.com invited me to beta their new DNA service.  I ordered and received the kit, spit in a tube and mailed it back.  Waiting on the results was very similar to waiting on receiving a new gadget.  Weird, but waiting can be fun.  I now have my results but I am not yet ready to share.  Promise to be back soon.

1 Comment

ProModel Skunk Works

Its 2013.  One of the exciting things I am involved with actually started in late 2012.  I sent the following email out to the development team in November.

ProModel Skunk Works…

Dear Technology Team,

Next year is the 25th anniversary of ProModel. The marketing team has started having some discussions about things we could do to promote this milestone for ProModel. I have an idea I would like to share and get your feedback.

At the last conference, we had booths set up.  The sales team and product managers manned the booth, but many developers were relaxing at the tables socializing mostly amongst other developers.  I don’t blame you really since you don’t get to exercise your sales and networking muscles very much.

ProModel is loaded with intelligent, passionate, well-spoken developers and I want the customers to witness this.

The last 2 years I have attended the Maker Faire.  What an amazing event.  For those that have never attended one, I highly recommend it.  Basically, garage inventors showcase their creations.  Talking with the inventors is very reminiscent of internal meetings where ProModel developers show off their software. You can feel the passion and excitement and it is contagious. It’s social and fun.

Might be wishful thinking, but I can imagine the technology group having their own booth at the next conference.  Let’s call this the Skunk Works booth. At this booth there might be prototypes of products that might not EVER get released.  These are concepts and prototypes. Preferably there is a simulation component to the prototype, but does not necessarily have to be. I believe that there is a developer that has an idea that can be showcased that might change the future of ProModel and their career path.

What value would the Skunk Works booth have you ask?

1. Show off our developers’ intelligence and passion for technology.

2. Show off ProModel’s creativity and technology range.

3. Depending on what we showcase, generate some feedback and dialog.  Customer engagement is a good thing.

4. We blog about the progress and process to help hype the conference.

If you have read this far, then perhaps you are interested.  I think there are some good buzz words that we should target.  To get your creative juices flowing, here is a brain dump but I am really looking for your ideas:

… Mobile/Tablet

o Conference Mobile App (Schedule, Sessions, etc)

o Mobile prototype of the world’s most simple DES tool.

o Mobile prototype of EPS or PM Cloud scenario runner

o Mobile prototype of EPS or PM Cloud reports

o IPAD example

… Physical computing

o Lego + Arduino mock manufacturing process integrated with .NET simulation engine

o Kegerator (sales guys would love this)

… Social Utilities

o Gamification Service integrated against PM Cloud or EPS.

o Product User Feature Voting Utility. (similar to Silverlight’s home page)

o Any cool ideas of how we could apply simulation to Facebook or twitter data?

… Engine Integration Examples

o BPM simulation example.

o Any cool ideas of how we could apply simulation to Facebook or twitter data?

… Gaming

o AST resource management game.  Jon I know has ideas!

… Misc

o ProModel Foosball app.  (rent a foosball table next to booth). This would be a huge success!

Here is the rub:  We would have to allocate personal time to pull this off.  If there is interest, I am proposing picking a day to optionally stay after work every 2 weeks or so, meet in the North office (and Utah in theirs) or meet online (Google Groups, etc) and work on some stuff together for fun.  Hang out, code, learn and socialize.  Would this be something you would be interested in doing?  If yes, reply.  Got a cool idea?  Reply back! Want to lead an effort? Reply back!


1. Do you have management approval for this?

Yes!  Keith loves the idea and volunteered to pay expenses for after-hours commitment.

2. Would I get a fat raise for participating?

Nope, but participating entitles you to enjoy the inside jokes.

3. Would there be deadlines?  Any obligation?


The response was great.  We formed 2 teams.  The team I am involved with is messing around with Arduino/Netduino and other Internet of Things.  Things are just starting to pick up.  I suck at EE related stuff but fortunately several of my teammates do not Smile.  We have decided to meet during lunch time once every other week or so.  The next meeting planned is called “Netduino Demo” followed by “EE For Nonbelievers”.  I will be sure to share how those go.