Entries Tagged as ''

Droid Does

I purchased a used Motorola Droid this weekend — I couldn’t resist, the price was reasonable and it included an extra charger, the multi-media dock, and a 16GB µSD card.

I’ve played with Android both on other people’s phone, and a hacked version loaded on my HTC Touch Pro 2 (but there were a number of things that didn’t work, and because the phone is both CDMA and GSM I expected that there would always be a number of issues with Android on it until there were a reasonable number of CDMA “Worldphones” running Android).

By far my preference in handsets are those made by HTC — I just think they do a much better job designing the handset, and understand the features that consumers really want on a smart phone… but the Droid is sort of the standard; and it met my absolute criteria for an Android based phone, it had a slide out keyboard.

I just have zero interest in all the new whizzy phone that don’t have keyboards — I send too many emails not to be able to see a reasonable amount of the screen and type at the same time (and don’t even think about things like remote desktop with a virtual keyboard).

Using Android is interesting… many aspects of it are well engineered and simple to use — but just as you think the ergonomics have driven the design of the interface, the geeky techno thorns in Android rear their ugly head.

By far the iPhone has made the slickest interface — but without a keyboard all you really have is an expensive iPod that can make phone calls.  Windows Mobile (at least with the extensions HTC loads on their smart phones) has made using the features very friendly, but every time you want to stray from what 90% of the people with Windows Mobile handsets want to do — or do something “advanced” that doesn’t involve an Exchange Server or Outlook… it stumbles and makes you have to be both technical and clever.

Given the tender young age of Android it’s certainly very respectable how far Google has come; but in trying to make the handset easy to use, Google has required the use of Google services with the phone — no you don’t have to, but you’ll fight every feature of the phone if you don’t setup Google Mail, Google Voice, etc.

There are those who still seem to think that Google does everything they do for the good of the general public — rubbish!  Google makes money off advertising, and to do that effectively they need to target advertising by demographics, and they do that by tracking trends by mining data.

Everything Google does Google does to support their revenue stream.

That isn’t necessarily bad; it’s just something that users of Google’s services need to understand… and you do need to pay close attention to Google’s privacy policies.

I’m not saying you’d be any “safer” with an iPhone (Apple is certainly trying to do the same thing — and I always find it humorous that it seems every “cloud” service Apple introduces is tied into iTunes (a very poorly thought out name for that type of service — obviously it was initially intended to only provide music).

Bottom line; I’d say your best value in a smart phone today is an Android based handset, and I’d recommend you consider trying it out with a used handset that has the features you’re interested in.

Yeah — I could add a line about reduce, reuse, recycle — but in actuality this has more to do with figuring out how you’ll use a smart phone before you commit to spending a great deal of money or locking yourself into a long term contract.  And remember, phones will only get better over time — and we’re very close to really having 4G service (at least Sprint, Verizon, MetroPCS, and Cricket seem committed to roll it out — AT&T doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to do anything except rape iPhone customers).

Originally posted 2010-09-20 02:00:16.

Discover Discover

Last week I called up Discover Financial Services to get an answer to a question I had about my Discover Card.

I’ve long considered Discover as a tertiary provider of card services; their card is not as widely accepted, and (until recently) their rewards program has been weak in comparison to others.

While all that may still be true, one of the most important qualities to appraise any service by is the quality of their customer service.

The only thing I can say is, I was floored.

The woman who assisted me was possibly the best customer service agent I’ve ever spoken with.  Her voice was soft and even toned and crystal clear.  She certainly made me feel like she was concerned that I be satisfied, and her knowledge and understanding of Discover made it a relatively easy task for her to shine.

This call caused me to reflect back on Discover as a whole, and I realized that I’ve never had a bad experience with Discover customer service.  While I won’t try and tell you that every call to Discover has been at this level, none have ever required that I ask for a supervisor.

I also realized that even the way that Discover has you identify your account is designed to make it easy for a customer (consider the credit card companies that have you key in a sixteen digit number, time out if you take too long, and rarely get the number right on the first [or third] time and then ask you for the number again when you finally end up talking to someone).

A Discover Card might not be the right fit for everyone; but take a look at their financial services, and if they look like a good fit, I encourage you to give them a test drive — you might like the experience; and as Discover grows we can only hope that other financial service companies feel the pressure to provide consumers with reasonable customer service.



NOTE: Discover Cards are issued by Discover Financial Services, GE Consumer Finance (aka GE Money Bank, ie Walmart and Sam’s Club), HSBC, and Green Dot Corporation (pre-paid) — as with VISA and Master Card the issuing financial institution is responsible for servicing the account, so your customer service experience will likely differ with a non Discover Financial Services issued card.

Originally posted 2010-08-08 02:00:20.

Trust In Government Hits Near-Historic Low

A Pew Poll released yesterday shows “Americans’ trust in government and its institutions has plummeted to a near-historic low…”

Americans’ trust in government and its institutions has plummeted to a near-historic low, according to a sobering new survey by the Pew Research Center.

Only 22 percent of Americans surveyed by Pew say they can trust government in Washington “almost always or most of the time” — among the lowest measures in the half-century since pollsters have been asking the question.

And an increasing number — almost 1 of every 3 people — say they believe government is a major threat to their personal freedoms and want federal power reined in.

You can read the complete article on NPR.

Originally posted 2010-04-19 02:00:57.

DVD Backup

Before using software the backs up encrypted media please check the laws in your country and insure that you are in full compliance.  In some countries there may be conflicting laws, make sure you understand the issues before proceding.

DVDDecrypter was one of the absolute best utilities for decrypting DVDs for legitimate backup purposes; you can still find copies of it on the internet, and you can read all about it and the end of it’s development.

Now DVDFab is probably the best product for Windows.  Three’s a free version, as well as two different commercial versions of it for sale by the developers.

Originally posted 2008-11-30 12:00:51.

Adorama – Rebuttal

The following:

  • is a rebuttal from Adorama Camera Customer Service.
  • is included here as provided to me by Adorama unchanged (with the exception that an email address was removed from the signature block to prevent harvesting).
  • is Adorama’s perspective (not necessarily mine).

Links to my original posts are included at the end.

Roger stated on his blog that ‘I had received an Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE) from Adorama” and that “…apparently they felt it was quite acceptable to subscribe an email address they obtained from Amazon”

Following correspondence with an Adorama representative, Roger now appreciates that his statement “…they felt it was quite acceptable” was an incorrect assumption on his part as it had no basis in fact. It was also incorrect to assume and suggest that Adorama sends Unsolicited Commercial Emails to customers that bought goods from Adorama through Amazon.

Adorama has confirmed to Roger that email addresses obtained from Amazon are not automatically subscribed to our mailing lists. His address was automatically subscribed because Adorama placed a replacement order directly for him, as part of the fulfillment process of his Amazon order.

Adorama provided Roger with assurances not only of our strict policy not to send commercial emails to Amazon customers, but also provided information that reassures him that he was incorrect to make unsubstantiated allegations regarding his perception of the attitude of Adorama staff, based upon his assumptions – which he now knows to be without substance.

Adorama also provided Roger with the name of Director of Email Campaigns along with the raw candid conversation that clarifies without doubt his commitment to Adorama customers, and his overwhelming concern that he mistakenly emailed an Amazon customer.

Roger stated previously that this action by Adorama “Seems a consistent gauge of a bad company – they do what ever they want, why should they care if it’s legal, ethical….” It is clear from the conversation referred to above, and the email exchanges with Helen Oster, the Adorama Camera Customer Service Ambassador, that Adorama employees do not, in fact, deserve the accusations he directed at them in relation to how we feel about our customers.

We hope that this public acknowledgement that Roger made a mistake, will clarify that he does appreciate that data processing errors are just that – errors; they are not deliberate and certainly don’t reflect personality. In retrospect, it would be accurate to state that the words on Roger’s blog were controlled by him and a true reflection of how he was feeling towards Adorama at the time. He is fully aware that respect works both ways; he demands respect for his Inbox therefore he agrees that it is not asking a lot in return to ask him to respect the feelings of the Adorama employees, rather than attributing ideas and attitudes that are remote and alien to their consciousness.

Roger now understands that at Adorama, we invest genuine effort and goodwill in every email sent, in an effort to ensure that we are not offending any customer,

Roger stated in his blog that “From my perspective subscribing any email address to a mailing list without first obtaining a customer’s permission amounts to UCE and it totally unacceptable irrespective of the fact that you include an unsubscribe link in the email”

Adorama shares that opinion, which is why when a customer checks out on the website, he or she has the option to decide whether or not to receive marketing emails from us. Currently, the opt-in option is checked by default. However, the email marketing team have already discussed and agreed that this is not satisfactory, and changes are in an advanced stage of planning.

The new check out will feature three options:

1. Opt-in to Adorama marketing emails

2. No Adorama marketing emails, ever

3. Defer the decision until Adorama has followed-up post check-out, with options that provide control to the customer over what to receive and what not to receive, together with additional information describing the benefits of each category of marketing email.

This applies to the orders originating on the Adorama website, which takes the greater share of our orders. For ‘phone orders, the opt-in/opt-out is verbal on the ‘phone; there is a field where sales associates must indicate Y/N.

Helen Oster

Adorama Camera Customer Service Ambassador

My previous BLOG posts concerning Adorma:

Originally posted 2009-02-02 01:00:48.

Windows Live Mail Bugs

Make sure you’re sitting down, I wouldn’t want you to fall over — but there are bugs in Live Mail.

I actually did the Beta for Live Mail quite some time ago, and reported several bugs during the course of that — from my experience you’re wasting your time reporting bugs to Microsoft, each and every bug I found made it into the first release, and almost all of them are still there.

Here are two bugs that really need to be fixed.  Both are annoyances (they won’t result in the loss of data for sure); but both of them speak to the attention to quality and detail that simply isn’t part of the Microsoft culture.

The first bug which really needs to be fixed has to do with viewing a folder in an account.  Many times when you perform and operation (like deleting a folder for instance) Live Mail will repaint the folder view; however, it repositions the view port at the first item (but leaves focus where it should be)… the problem is if you have more folders that fit vertically on the screen, you’re looking at an entirely different time zone than the one that has focus.  A simple fix — save the view port position before the operation; restore the view port position after it if and before the repaint.  I guess the programmer that did this code was sleeping during Windows Programming 101.

The second bug which also really needs to be fixed has to do with dragging an email into the file system.  Windows Live Mail will create a file system safe name for the container file from the subject; however, if the subject ends in “…” (and probably many other character sequences) the file doesn’t get a “.eml” file extension, but rather a “._eml” file extension.  I guess the programmer that did this code figured it was right to make the file name file system safe after appending the extension when he should have made the base name file system safe and then appended the extension of “.eml”.

Like I said, these are simple issues — with very simple fixes… but they are fixes that shouldn’t be been necessary since this code should have never gotten out of Beta with these problems (they were reported).  In fact, I could argue that these problems should have never made it into a code build — they should have failed unit tests.

But these problems made it into release code; and these problems have existed for quite some time in release code — all I can say is that the commitment to quality I see in Microsoft software is similar to that that I see in Open Source code… so hopefully Microsoft will begin giving away more and more of it’s software at no charge so that the cost basis and the quality are on par.

Originally posted 2010-01-23 01:00:12.

One of the upsides of the internet…

One of the things that the internet allows almost everyone is the ability to express their opinion in a venue that others can “hear”.

Just do an internet search on almost anything you can think of… you’ll find reviews, comments, rants, and sometimes raves!

While you rarely know anything about the individual who wrote the posting, from a well thought out post you can gather some important questions to get the answers to before making a decision, so as a tool for an informed consumer the internet can be invaluable not only in locating the “best” prices, but also in finding the “best” products and “best” vendors!

It only takes a little effort to learn a great deal about any good or service you’re considering — it’s totally up to you whether you make an informed decision or just wing it.

Originally posted 2008-12-30 12:00:06.

I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud

I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud
by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company!
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

AT&T = Pathetic Customer Service

My AT&T U-Verse bill notice came in over the weekend; so this week I launched the web site to take a look at the details.

When I signed up for the service I was “promised” $20 off per-month for signing up for electronic statement delivery and automatic payments.

Well, the first month it didn’t happen; and AT&T’s excuse was that my bill was processed _before_ I had signed up for the electronic statement delivery and automatic payments.

The second month it didn’t happen; and AT&T’s excuse was that something must have went wrong — that I needed to unsubscribe and then resubscribe; of course their policies clearly stated that if I discontinued either of the requirements I would become ineligible for the statement credit.  I escalated the issue to a supervisor who impressed me as being more incompetent than the front-line people; then I escalated it to the executive complaints office — who assured me it would be resolved.

The third month it didn’t happen; and AT&T really had no excuse.  Again I escalated it to a supervisor, and got the promise that it would be researched and resolved.

This month (the fourth month), I lost it — I was pissed off the minute I called AT&T — and I pointed out to them that they were wasting my time month after month after month — and I was tired of it.  The front-line person was totally incompetent and the supervisor was just as incompetent… and rude.

One thing’s for sure — NO ONE beats AT&T for the most pathetic customer service on Earth.

If you subscribe to AT&T services based on promises of rebates, cash back, credits, special pricing, etc — make sure you keep copies of everything; and be prepared to file a small claims action, because it probably will come to that.

It always comes down to who has pissed you off the least (lately) and who is offering the best deals — but in the end you have to decide between the cable company and the phone company and just live with pathetic customer service.

Originally posted 2010-07-10 02:00:01.

John Winston Ono Lennon

9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980 one of the founding members of the Beatles; a personality who’s life and death shape music and influence society.

John Lennon on Wikipedia

Originally posted 2010-10-09 01:30:38.