Yesterday closed out a one day fire sale of Google Glass. It was opened up for anyone to purchase directly through Google’s site for a whopping $1,500 for one day only and it was supposedly a massive success with a complete sell out. For the past year+ since Google announced the developer version of Google Glass there’s been a ton of buzz. Much criticism has been cast as well. It usually goes something like It’s got the cool factor with a ton of potential for sure, but it’s also a little creepy too. The creepy factor comes with the built in camera that can potentially be activated with a simple wink. This is the foundation for both the cool and creepy factor. It’s also the greatest reason Google Glass will be a dismal failure. This is a first for me. I typically won’t rant on a product before it really has had a chance to get off the ground and prove the pundits right or wrong but I must make an exception here because it seems so obvious that it will fail. Here’s the scenario that will precipitate the dramatic fall or prevent a meteoric rise for Glass. Remember the helmet cam footage recently from the bikers’/Range Rover road rage incident from last year in NYC? Well there’s gonna be something as dramatic caught on Glass. This footage will air all over the world, a perpetrator will be tried and convicted based off the footage, and Glass will have all the free press it could dream of. A few days later somebody is going to be walking down the street minding his own Ps and Qs and take a wrong turn down some villainous city block. Some madman is going to take issue with said Glass wearing pee on and beat him to a bloody pulp for wearing it and invading his turf and privacy. It’s going to happen. Unfortunately it’s a solid bet and when it does nobody is going to want to wear their Glass in public for fear of a repeat performance. There are other factors that will lead to it’s demise like the first vehicular accident involving an offender wearing Glass but the camera will be Glass’s ultimate demise. How about instances where security is involved? Dare I mention this, but a synchronized camera feed would be a nice tool for terrorists to utilize when attempting to pull off coordinated attacks. FYI Google, there’s very good reason camcorder manufacturers started putting a little red light on their products when recording. Crap, did I officially just become a pundit with this last statement?
I applaud Google Glass for its possibilities and technical prowess but unfortunately we simply can’t handle the human factor as a society yet. Will I get one? Sure when the price drops 100% and will likely use it as a TV companion so I can blink my way through channel surfing in an effort to stave off carpal tunnel syndrome from excess remote usage. If I’m really lucky a series of coordinated blinks might even someday tell some Google Bot to appear with a cold beer in extended robo grip. Now that would exhibit some cool factor!
Sorry folks for the hiatus. I’ve been working on another writing project and have been blindly devoted to it. Nonetheless I’ve taken a break to start a new advice column that allows me to as usual scratch an itch to passive aggressively opine about certain pet peeves. This will be the first post of an ongoing advice column named “The Basics”. These will be short and very simple “basic” insights I wish to share on things that many people overlook or have never been educated on. For this first post I plan to tackle three very common mistakes (I politely use the word “mistakes” loosely, see told you passive aggressive) people make pertaining to the use and maintenance of motor vehicles.
‘Tis the season of single digit weather and as such our reliance on cars and their conveniences become ever more important. For starters simple physics dictates that cold air is typically denser air. Translation: when things get frigid stuff constricts and this is true of the air in your tires. Many new cars are equipped with tire pressure sensors that will flash a light on your instrument panel telling you that you’ve got low tire pressure inevitably the morning after the first cold front passes through. What most people don’t know is that there’s actually two conditions that will trigger that light; one, a tire has abnormally low pressure (ie, you got a flat bro) and/or one or more tires’ pressures vary within approximately 2 psig from one another. It’s particularly the second condition that complicates things for the layperson who doesn’t know this. For those people (not judging) the most logical thing to do is to hit a free air station at the local 7-11 and start randomly putting air into tires starting with the ones that look lowest until the low tire warning light goes off. This could exasperate the problem and potentially cause a more disconcerting issue by overpressurizing a tire. I won’t waste your time by discussing the hazards with a overpressurized tire, just know this is bad, every bit as bad or possibly worse than a underinflated tire. My advice is simple, buy a tire pressure gauge and keep it in your console. But what pressure do you maintain your tires to? Answer: it’s stamped on the tires themselves right? Wrong. What’s stamped on the tires is a max rating that’s intended to be a benchmark if you were hauling a maximum payload for example (trucker speak). The real answer can be found somewhere inside your driver’s side door usually on the main upright near your seatbelt. There you can find a label that will typically detail recommended tires pressures for front and rear tires. Please whatever you do please don’t aimlessly fill your tires until the silly light goes off. In that case you’re probably better off doing nothing (unless you’ve clearly got a flat).
To quote the classic movie “Shawshank Redemption” “The world went and got itself in a big hurry.” One of the most common mistakes we tend to do when we get in our cars to go somewhere is to not wait for it to warm up. Car engines and car technology certainly has advanced and it takes most cars much shorter spans of time to get that heater blowing warm air than it used to so people seem to forget one important fact that is universal about cars and car engines in particular. That fact is that they are still made up of literally hundreds of precisely machined and fitted moving parts. In some cases all it takes is one small nick and you can get a catastrophic engine failure. Most of those moving parts still depend on oil to keep them lubricated and moving freely. Most oils, even the overpriced and overrated synthetic kinds, still get thick and gummy when the temperature drops. My advice is succinctly simple – let your car run at least a minute before putting it in gear, even thirty seconds as a bare minimum. This allows the oil to loosen up and cover all intended surfaces before putting a heavy load on them. It could save you many headaches in the long run.
My last piece of advice though begs you to do the exact opposite from the previous piece. It actually seems silly to me to even mention it nevertheless I’m floored every time I see this warning go unheeded. Folks turn off your stinking cars when you’re pumping gas and especially when smoking! I’ve debated with myself how much detail to get into to explain the common sense in this so instead I’ve decided to offer an example link of the hazards associated. The lady in the video was the smoker’s wife and she did suffer burns. PLEASE don’t endanger (or enrage) me or anyone else because you simply wanted to keep that heater running longer or wanted those last couple drags from your smoke. Trust me it’s not gonna make much difference during the time it takes to pump a tank of gas.
The Show That Was The Original iPhone Unveiling
Remember Steve Jobs on the two year anniversary of his passing by reading this great article that gives a fantastic behind the scenes look at what it took to develop the iPhone and make the world believe it was truly the way forward.
September 20th was the official launch of the new iPhones 5C and 5S and just prior to it’s release every tech site and news site all rushed to get out their verdicts on the new models. For the most part all the reviews were positive. It’s really hard to argue with Apple’s solid hardware designs and reliable and vast App Store but every single review I read dinged Apple on one common thing – screen size. The rumors were all abuzz with a larger screen for the iPhone but all proved to be untrue. Android has toppled iOS in worldwide market share in large part due to affordable designs and big and bigger screen sizes. It’s the same game that has played out year after year whether it’s TVs, laptops, or smartphones. What’s lost here is the value of true functionality, portability, and ultimately purpose. The purpose being that of a smartphone. By definition a smartphone is limited by size because of it’s inherent requirement to be portable but size can also limit functionality. How do you define and strike the right balance of portability, functionality, and features? That’s ultimately the debate in play in the smartphone market with ever increasing screen sizes. Personally I define it one way with one question. Can you fully operate the device in one hand? This is precisely the marketing ploy Apple baits us with. Most people can touch their thumb anywhere on the iPhones’ screen without having to readjust the phone in any way with another hand. This simple subtle fact I believe is at the core of the very purpose of a smartphone. In my opinion if it takes two hand to operate it then just save you money for a full blown tablet. Don’t be swayed by giant phone screens unless you just don’t care about portability. Make the overall experience your priority. I do believe there’s a market for larger screens sans the Galaxy Note 3‘s 5.7″ display but I treat that market as really the outer fringe of the tablet market. Even Samsung knows the Note’s screen is a stretch that’s why they’re solely paring it with the Samsung Gear smartwatch for now. Gee I wonder if the smartwatch market will play out the same way? Will we soon be toiling over whether 1.3″, 1.6″, or 2″ is the proper screen size for the smartwatch?
Today is the official start of the NFL football season and to celebrate it I’ve received two emails and counting from ESPN. One was a reminder that “NFL is back and ESPN has you covered” and the other was a reminder to download the fantasy football app. Last week I got the same reminder emails about college football and their corresponding ESPN College Football App. Seems like harmless notifications right? When I already own both apps and have likewise signed into both with the same credentials that included the very email address these emails were blasted to I find these emails decidedly repetitive and annoying. This post could be considered a bit of an overreaction but my frustrations go way beyond these emails; they just serve to illustrate a point. The point is, those emails were dumb. Ok so now I sound juvenile right? Couldn’t I have used a more eloquent word than dumb. Nope. There are at least two factors that qualify something as simply dumb. The first is could it have been avoided? The second…see factor #1. In the case of the ESPN example a simple algorithm in ESPN’s databases could very easily have filtered out anybody who has downloaded those apps by corresponding registered emails. The emails were simply pointless to me an already engaged app user. Is there anything wrong with a reminder email, no but folks these were not reminders emails, they were blatant pitches to download their apps. A separate reminder email encouraging me to engage with the app would have been just fine and frankly expected if I had opted in to subscribe to their alerts and correspondence. Junk mail. Purely avoidable. Dumb. ESPN has the means to know that I already own their apps and use them. Read More
Funny Amazon reviews : Dynamic list
Check out these funny customer reviews from Amazon. I particularly like the reviews for Uranium.
With this post I will begin a four-part series that examines the importance and relevance of good customer service. For each post I will cover a specific customer service theme and as the title suggests I will offer real world examples good, bad, and ugly. For my first post I’ve chosen a theme that I believe is at the heart of what customer service means – helping. In this day and age of easy access to online forums, help articles, how-to videos, etc. it is easy to suggest that customer service doesn’t quite hold the importance it once did but that notion is easily dispelled the second you get a flat, or your AC goes out on a blazing August day, or you’ve made an honest mistake when paying a bill. In times of crisis we are sometimes forced to rely on good old-fashioned customer service be it via phone, in store, or online and nothing is worse than when you are at your most vulnerable and need help you get hit with fees and fees for fees! We’ve all experienced that sinking feeling when you ask for help and the response is “Sure, that’ll be $195 including service fees”. It begs the question, should customer service cost? The short answer is technically yes, because customer service, like parts and labor, costs companies and must be accounted for somewhere but we the consumers just don’t like to pay for it when we need it most. I’m no different; it’s like pouring salt on an open wound when I have to pay additional fees for an unexpected expense. Below I will go into a few personal examples I think illustrate how to properly service a customer and keep a customer because let’s face it bad customer service equates to lost customers.
I visited Salesforce.com today to find out what the hub bub I’ve been hearing recently was all about. I come across at least one mention a day about the workforce service company and my own employer recently instituted it for it’s sales and marketing folks. Working in engineering I was left out so I decided to hop over to the site for an in depth looksy maybe see if I can find some usable tools for my team. On the home screen was a link to the obligatory demo videos you usually find for enterprise sites so naturally I clicked on it. What it took me to precisely sums up everything that companies so easily miss about providing a good consumer/customer experience – a form. Oh yes, it wanted to know my name company, address, email, and phone number before it promised to give me unfettered access to their products’ demo videos. Folks this is like saying you have to fill out a form before you can watch the next Apple commercial! It’s getting so that every site you go, every place you shop wants you to fill something out. For crying out loud I came to you to shop, let me shop already!!!! There aren’t enough exclamation marks for that last statement!
Some marketing guru decides they need to gather as many metrics as possible to market effectively that they’ve forgotten one basic metric – what turns off their customers? Why did they walk out of the store empty handed or clicked that ‘X’ to your site without emptying their virtual cart? Forms aren’t going to give you that metric because your customer is gone the second you thrust one at them. The only information you need is my credit card number when I pay and that’s ALL that should matter! Asking me twenty questions on the card swipe screen feels an awful lot like entrapment! Have you ever thought to yourself “Well I’ve already swiped my card so they’ve got my information so I guess I better answer all these stupid questions?” As long as we’re talking about swiping credit cards why on earth don’t they just say CREDIT; why must I press CANCEL for credit (it’s a rhetorical question of course, it’s because of the difference in fees banks charge between debit and credit transactions but that’s beside the point I’m making)? Why does paying have to be so complicated (self checkout stations)? I’ve already shopped with you, I’ve placed goods on your sales counter, I’m now handing you my payment now stop selling me something and say “Thank You!” That would be good customer service right? Finally use some common sense already because I’m not going to open up Target Red Card to save 5% on a $4.32 purchase! I could go on and will soon in an upcoming look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of customer service. Stay tuned.
As long as we are gracing the topic of calendars (see previous post) why is it that not one single digital calendar I access shows any holidays? Not even my favorite by Fantastical. It must be because app developers wish to remain universally neutral which I guess makes sense but why not build in the option for country holidays or religious holidays to be shown that can be turned on or off at will? Doesn’t this just make so much sense? I found an app that will add holidays based on nationality and/or religion to your native phone calendar called US Holidays 2013-2015 but it costs $0.99. It seems just silly that if I want to figure out when to wear green for the next St. Patty’s Day I either have to Google it or…gasp…find a printed calendar. By the way have you ever seen a printed calendar that didn’t list most holidays?