Archive for the 'Technology Bits' Category
For some odd reason, I have always harbored a deep loathing for organized crime and all its trappings.
The fact that it is glamorized in popular culture in the way of movies and television literally makes me sick to my stomach. No, I’ve never watched The Sopranos, and no, I don’t care how good you think it is.
The only reason this is odd (I think every person with a conscience should be repulsed by mobsters) and how strongly I feel about it has nothing to do with any direct personal experience. My only contact with a wise-guy is like most of us- movies and television.
There’s just something about the very notion of mafia-like organizations. The cruelty, the utter lack of a sense of fair-play (again, don’t give me the crap about ‘family’ and stupid shit like that. Even the most despicable of people loves their mamma and their own kids… while they kill and orphan those of others)
Anyway, I’m done with my little venting. I found this story quite disturbing… for obvious reasons.
Just moved ISPs and was expecting a HUGE hassle getting my blog back up and running.
Amazingly, once I uploaded my database and edited the new configuration files to match slight changes in DB names and passwords, everything just worked(!)
Well, truth be told, not *everything* worked right away. I did have problems accessing the administration screens. However, once I re-uploaded 3.0 manually, all that was needed was to fire up the upgrade.php script and accept the prompt to update the database, everything worked almost like magic!
When I’m asked to show an example of opensource delivering truly wonderful UX, I don’t hesitate to answer, “WordPress”. I’ve said it before, but this thing just rocks. Well done, team!!
Yeah, the least well-kept secret in the computing industry, the Apple tablet is coming soon.
Rumors of a $700 price-point may put this thing in a weird category too high above the netbook and oh so close to a more powerful laptop.
But of course, Apple has long been able to woo consumers with a sexy design that outstrips its utility. The good news for ‘the rest of us’ is that hipsters and techno-exhibitionists will fund the price drop until/ if smallish touchscreen computers replace the laptop.
This is going to be a fun ride!
So, turns out it’s not incredibly easy to type long posts on this thing, but it’s impossible to beat its portability.
Next up – posting pics and video!
Well, I haven’t blogged about this whole mess until now but the final straw has got me steamed.
Last Spring I bought what I thought was a pretty slick (and pretty) HP Pavillion entertainment PC.
It’s a good-looking machine but came with Vista installed. I started having problems with it almost right away.
My first thought was to blame Vista. I’ve been less than impressed with it as an OS and of course, hearing all the problems others have had made me think that Vista really might be worse than I had thought. Honestly, I’m no fan of Microsoft, but I really felt people were “over-complaining”… that sentiment soon changed to feeling that the worst of the stories I had heard about Vista were in fact too kind.
Basically, my machine would hang and crash unexpectedly (I had no funky devices connected or unproven, experimental extensions) several times each day. Worst of all, the biggest problem cropped up when I was sharing my desktop in WebEx meetings with a big client. Anytime I resized a window while hosting a meeting, the thing would hang. Of course, I would only remember this key event after inadvertently grabbing a corner and trying to move a window out of the way… d’oh!
Anyway, once I had finally had enough, I figured I’d rid myself of Vista altogether. This was back in June but I was able to land an advance copy of Windows 7, so I loaded that up and was prepared to be rid of my Vista woes forever.
Win7 didn’t impress me (still doesn’t). And the problems didn’t go away… though they slowed enough to delay even further troubleshooting that finally uncovered some bad sectors on my hard drive.
Frustrating, but hey- these things happen. I’m not ready at this point to damn HP for a simple hardware fault. Happens to the best of ‘em. Since I’m still under warranty, I figure I’d better get this replaced soon.
I’ve been backing up and recovering enough in the previous weeks (I reinstalled Vista three times and Win7 once… this was getting to be second nature) so the thought of starting over yet again with a clean HD didn’t phase me.
Now, to contact HP customer service you can whip out the credit card and call their tolled nickel-and-dime line to get them to address your problem with their product. That didn’t appeal to me on principle, so I pulled up the free option to chat to a rep via instant message instead.
The process was fine; a little stilted and it was obvious I was getting many responses that were an auto-bot, not a person… or at least a person with some canned responses. I can’t blame them- that sort of thing will make sure you deliver consistent customer service and save your people some time and keystrokes… but it does feel less than personal.
We soon established that I do indeed need a replacement HD and that I do indeed qualify for a warranty repair. But I discovered that when I installed Win7, the installer wiped out my old Vista restore partition.
That sucked because when I installed it, I thought it would have left the restore partition (with the HP Vista recovery software on it) that came with my laptop in tact.
Turns out the Win7 installer wiped everything. So now, I’ve got a fresh (working, hopefully) hard drive on its way from HP but get this: they won’t send me one with the same recovery software on it that was on the original HD in the laptop. They’re sending one along tabula rasa.
HP customer service generosity knows no bounds- they will give me the software I so foolishly failed to back up from the HD they originally sold me … but it’ll cost me twenty bucks. Seriously?
I mentioned to the rep in my chat session how stupid I thought this was and could they please just send me that friggin disc without dinging me a lousy twenty bucks? I guess my persistence was enough since my chat rep agreed to send me the disc gratis.
Not really a big “win” in a contest “against” a major corporation in the interest of getting good customer service (I mean, really! – they are finally just agreeing to replace their defective hard drive with another one that looks exactly like the one I originally shelled out at least part of my 1400 bucks for…)
But the replacement hard drive arrives… but no recovery disc. “No biggie”, I reason. “Surely the disc was sent under separate cover…”
Weeks later. No disc. Wait- didn’t the chat dude say “don’t worry”? It’s a phrase they use a lot. I can’t tell whether it’s because they’re shelling out canned expressions or English is not their first language and they believe American English speakers pepper the phrase “don’t worry” every few lines of every conversation. Either way, it’s equal parts annoying and unnerving.
Well, in any case, I’m venting here not only because I’m pissed off at getting less than stellar treatment, but because I promised (okay, it might have sounded like a threat) the chatty-Cathy I pinged today that I would post this if I didn’t get some satisfaction.
Turns out, this ‘Cathy’ whose name in the chat session was Sherry, wasn’t too interested in my pleas for a little (tiny, really) concession. She did say she would log the issue- woooo, that should satisfy me.
It is the height of insanity in my opinion, that HP & other hardware manufacturers will lay out hundreds of dollars in rebates to try and attract new customers, but they cannot make an exception to a 20 dollar charge for a disc with data on it that comes free with the original hardware.
Would love to write up something positive here, but HP has failed to deliver on a simple little point of decent customer service. Hard to believe they’re willing to give up customer satisfaction by clinging white-knuckled to their 20 dollar bill. Morons.
I, for one will not purchase HP products again because I want to be treated like a valued customer- not an opportunity to keep paying out 10 bucks here, 20 bucks there, ad infinitum.
My next laptop will be from Apple… or anyone but Hewlett-Packard.
Always up for creative ways to render information.
I think we need a new phrase that reminds us, not only is a picture worth a thousand words, but some pictures can extend understanding and even stimulate new creative insights.
This article expands on it, but the graph could just about speak for itself… and let you take it from here…
Bonus: I posted this to ease my nerves as I watch a very close & exciting hockey game- and my team scores to go ahead in the 3rd: sweet! Go RedWings!
This is the full movie (about an hour long), feel free to use the full-screen control to view.
Much of this is old hat to those of us who already grok collaborative systems, but exciting to see so many real-world examples and most exciting of all- that some day soon we (the people) may truly, not just figuratively or by proxy, rule ourselves. Government, corporations, services.
This film does a great job of driving some of these concepts home. Share!
Small coincidence for me: during the community football management story, they reference Wrexham where I used to live.
I love this thing- not because I think it’s a beautiful ship (though I believe it’s interesting) but because it challenges the notion of what is “ship-shape”.
It’s called the Maharaja (“great king” in English) by an out-of-the-lines craftsman named Ashish Gupta in Mumbai.
This innovative design is an attempt to create a seaworthy craft that acknowledges the reality of all boaters- namely; you spend most of your time hanging out on decks, not plying high seas. Therefore, not only does this mega-yacht deliver (in this case, literally) acres of deckspace- the whole piece is a way to serve up horizontal space to the users.
The trend for even the smaller (but still outrageously expensive) pleasure craft is to have a slide-out deck that looks like a porch or low balcony over the water.
It’s important for us (people, that is) to remember that when technology steps in to help us do things better and more efficiently, it’s critical in every sense of the word, that we maintain a connection with what makes us human.
Here’s a great example of how someone (Dr. Yehonatan N. Turner) was brilliant enough to see a simple solution to what could appear to be a purely technical problem. How to improve effectiveness at reading medical scans for cancer detection? Re-connect the human element and remind scanning technicians that they are helping a real person.
Actually, he wanted to reconnect the human element first, but his solution turns out to heighten effectiveness as well.
By including a picture or pictures of a patient with his or her scans, radiologists tended to spend more time and be more thorough in their recommendations. Recent studies confirmed that there is a significant impact, the only question seems to be whether this effect will dull over time or that seeing facial features triggers something in the health professional’s brain.
Keep trying folks, we’ll get this technology::humanity ratio right eventually!
I’ve been saying this for a long time (and have had a small role to play in getting this word out there) that large businesses need to embrace Web 2.0 good-ness even for their internal tools.
This means better interfaces and leveraging the power of their own internal communities- which are not insignificant in many cases.
It’s a small but significant indicator- barometer, if you will- of how a company feels about its employees whether it chooses to spend some time (and splash out some cash) and provide effective, and yes, even beautiful tools to work with.
Among these tools are the intranet necessities, doling out HR information, keeping up with adminutia and getting word from the leadership team on everything from strategy to tactical recommendations for getting stuff done in the workplace.
So why do these tools usually suck so bad? Because they’ve historically been seen as a necessary evil. Not critical to employees’ core job function (unless they happen to be in HR or maybe accounting). Truth is, not only should these tools be awesome there’s little reason for them not to be.
It’s not just a morale thing (though morale improves when folks have decent tools and are well informed of the company’s policies and direction… duh) it’s also an efficiency thing. When the tools are good, people will use them. Force them to use crappy tools and not everyone will know about the latest procedure change to the expense submission process… or that there’s a new cover for the TPS report.
Now, enter the social aspect of being connected to your co-workers. Large enterprises are a microcosm of the larger web. Let’s move on from the top-down Web 1.0 approach where information travels in one direction only. Employees have things to say, both up the chain and to their peers. Things that need a forum for discussion even if they’re not in the same building or working at the same time.
Social networks can work to fill the void of the old water-cooler, as described in this eWeek article. This is coming- and the slower organizations that need it most will likely get there last, but better late than never.