Archive for September, 2006

You Suggest I Drink What?

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

In case this is too blurry for you to read, this says, "Today I recommend: an iced venti shaken blueberry white iced tea lemonade!!!" This was taken in a local Starbucks in August.

I don’t know who drinks that, but I would only recommend it to induce vomiting should you accidentally ingest poison just before getting to Starbucks.

I wonder if they wrote that to see how many people would read it and then be like, "Yeah, I’ll try that." How many do you think they sold that day? Think that’ll become a permanent menu item?


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Deadline For Holiday Season

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

Just a note that tomorrow is the deadline to sign a contract with us (and pay the deposit) for those of you trying to get work done before the holiday season really kicks in.

We will push as hard as we can to finish projects for everybody who signs and pays the deposit 29 Sept and earlier. Anybody who signs next week or later will find us still working our hardest for you, but we may not be in time for 1 November holiday selling (or earlier!).

I’m in Florida teaching eBay classes tomorrow and through the weekend, so if you want a contract right now, please get in touch [http://www.aswas.com/contact.shtml] and I’ll do my best to get back to you as soon as I can.

Thanks!


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Don’t Buy RemoteProtect

Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

Earlier this year, I got RemoteProtect from SPCSoft on Handango. It’s for Windows Mobiles, and it allows you to text your phone to lock or even completely erase it, which you would use if you felt your phone were stolen or lost and not coming back.

I set it up in May, and never had to use it since I rarely lose things or get things stolen. This past weekend, while flying back from a biz trip in Dallas, I was about 40min into the flight. My phone was on flight mode. I was listening to Windows Media Player and reading a Note (like an Outlook note). All of a sudden, RemoteProtect came up and said my phone has been locked, and I should enter the password.

I entered the password, and it said incorrect. It gave me two more chances, but said incorrect. It then erased my phone and storage card. I forced a reset while it was doing that, and when the phone came back up, I got the same message about it being locked. I put in my password, and it said password correct. But I still went through with the factory reset since everything was already gone.

I emailed the developer, and found out some interesting things. I found out that since I bought this, they had problems with people who found that their phone locked itself without getting the text message to do so. OK, that’s what happened to me, except it somehow went further. Evidently, this prompted the company to come out with a different version of the software, but I wasn’t made aware of any of this.

The developer is trying to tell me that I did this. I did a soft reset while in flight mode, and then I wrote my password incorrectly. I don’t know how I would have done a soft reset WHILE listening to music and the music still playing and me reading a note. Surely that soft reset would STOP my music. And how hard is this to believe when my problem sounds partially like problems other people had with my type of phone and the version of the software I still had?

Nope, it must be me. So I told the developer that I hope he’s very proud and confident since he’s truly the winner! I must have done all these things, and I just can’t admit them. He gets to keep his $14.99, and I still had a crappy flight, and then spent HOURS reinstalling everything on my phone.

Never should have happened. When people buy and register software, get information from them. Email them when you see that you came out with a better version for their type of phone. And when I report an issue that I know I didn’t cause, please don’t treat me like it’s my fault. Especially when all of this is over $14.99. I want my money back. I also want to bill for my entire Sunday, but I don’t think this guy is going to go for that.


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And I Got a New Monitor

Monday, September 25th, 2006

I got a new monitor for my laptop. When I’m at the office, there’s no good reason to be hunched over trying to read stuff on a 14" screen. So I got this. It’s a 20" ViewSonic flat LCD monitor in widescreen format. Man, this thing is the crispest thing I’ve seen yet.

It got great reviews at CNET, so I figured I’d take my laptop to CompUSA and check it out. It lived up to the hype, and it was on sale for $299 (after a $50 mail-in rebate). Not bad. I paid that for my dinosaur CRT 17" in the late 1990s. Man, this monitor is BEAUTIFUL.


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The Good Omen of the ThinkPad Laptop

Friday, September 22nd, 2006

What did the ThinkPad come with that is such a good omen that I can feel that this computer will serve me better than any Dell ever has?

Nearly nothing.

The computer came pre-installed with nearly nothing. Windows XP Pro. Some native ThinkPad applications that help with updates, security, monitor profiles, internet profiles, and more. Actually helpful utilities!!! Utilities that have already come in handy.

No AOL pre-install. No photo editing. No jukebox (other than Windows Media). No heaps of third-party software because the deals with those companies help make this laptop cheap. I used to get Dells and format them right away. I know other people who would start with a Dell and start taking off half of Add/Remove Programs or just reformat. With this laptop, I took off Symantec Firewall and Sonic DVD burner, and I was done. Didn’t reformat. I actually feel trust for this OS install. Somehow.

Thank you, IBM/Lenovo. You actually get that some people want to use a reliable computer. I salute you. :)


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IBM ThinkPad Rules

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

Earlier this month, I sent back my 4-month-old Dell desktop computer because I had had nothing but unfixable problems with it. Dell’s processing that return, and will be refunding me in a few weeks. That much I believe.

The question then turned to what DO I buy? In a world where cheap is often just CHEAP, what equipment can I get where I will spend basically NO time having to fix the equipment? I went for the new IBM ThinkPad T60p laptop. I went for the extra RAM and extra maintenance contract so that they have to fix this thing basically overnight for me for 3 years. $2500 after tax. The Dell I returned? $1500 after tax, but I did it on a financing account, so I’ll be getting back around $513 as that’s all I paid so far.

The IBM laptop came with what Seth Godin would call a free prize inside. Their sales office is in Toronto. Their tech support is in Atlanta. As in North America and not some part of Asia. And you know what? If these people will understand me and help me, I would pay more for that.

Hear that, every other company I deal with? I would pay more to deal with tech support representatives who are well trained and for whom English is a native language.

 

Listen to this. I called the sales department to ask why an accessory I ordered hadn’t come. It turned out that I hadn’t ordered it. Simple checkbox must have unchecked somewhere in the process, but this was a blessing in disguise. The phone rep, Edward (and I believe that is his REAL name), checked his system and told me that while he could give me the "purchased with a new computer" discount, they were out of the accessory and may not see any for weeks.

So without me even asking, he started checking which of their authorised dealers had it in stock, and who had the best price. He told me insight.com not only had 2200 in stock but sell it for $20 less than he can sell it to me, even at that "discounted" price. Many thanks to a truly HELPFUL rep. He explained the situation and then saved me money. I didn’t order this accessory yet because I blew my money on a monitor (see this coming Monday’s post), but when I do, I know where it get it for less!

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you more about why this IBM is so fantastic. OK, I’ve only had it three days, but I’ll tell you the good omen that is very telling.


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How’s Our Language Barrier?

Wednesday, September 20th, 2006

After dealing with the Capital One agent, I got a call the next day from a man with a thicker accent saying he was taking a survey on my experience with the other Capital One agent. Um, OK.

Most of the questions were about how he handled my problem. Did I need to call again to have it resolved? Was he friendly? Yes, he was friendly, and no, I didn’t have to call again. It was fixed the first time. I’ve since used that credit card, and I know he fixed it, so I’m satisfied.

One of the questions he asked me was how I would rate my agent’s language skills. My thought was, "Better than yours," but I realised that was not an option. I said "very good – his English was very good."

Remember when a company wanted to know how they were doing, and they didn’t ask about the agent’s language skills? I miss those days. But tune in tomorrow to learn the free prize that came with my new laptop. New as in not Dell.


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Capital One Outsources

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006

I had to call Capital One earlier this month. I had sent them a letter saying
that a credit card I closed 2 years ago is showing up on my credit report as
open but derogatory. That’s not true, and I need it fixed. I told them in the
letter that I have a card open with them now, and don’t want that changed or
closed.

So guess what. They closed my current card and did nothing about the old
card. I had to call, and I got India or some other outsourcing country with an
accent that sounds similar to me. The man was friendly and helpful, and he was
able to reopen my card that moment. All is well.

But I’m talking about my credit card and personal financial details to
another country? What’s in my wallet? Is there any limit on outsourcing help
desks? Wait until you read tomorrow’s blog entry.


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I’ll Just Call My Competitor and Ask How They Do It

Monday, September 18th, 2006

I got a weird call last week. A guy calls. The caller ID points to a home phone under a woman’s name. He tells me that he’s been checking out my company, and while he didn’t seem to fully understand what we did, he told me that he does what we do.

OoooooooK.

Then, this guy tells me that he’s having problems with the custom eBay templates he makes for his clients, and how does my company do a certain thing.

???????

I gave him the most general answer I could while revealing the least information. Maybe he thinks I was unfriendly, but it was extremely weird. Why should I go out of my way to help someone who just told me that he competes with me? Does Pepsi call Coke for tips?

?!?!?!?!?


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You Agree That We Own You For Free

Friday, September 15th, 2006

Have you heard about this?

In order to get on to MTV Flux, users have to grant MTV the right to transmit their material on the network "in perpetuity and gratis". They also claim "the right to commercially exploit, host, store, copy, distribute, modify, edit, incorporate into other material, and/or otherwise treat in any way your Material at (MTV’s) discretion without any payment" to the artist.

MTV’s Flux is evidently similar to MySpace or Bebo. So if you’re an artist and you wanted to make your own little broadcast site, guess what. Guess what you’ve done by loading up your original work. You just gave the copyright and publishing to it all to MTV forever and for free.

The lesson here is one many people don’t learn until it’s too late. Read contracts. Read terms of service. Read license agreements on that software you downloaded. Read these things, and refuse to give that company your time or business if you don’t agree to the terms.

Stand up for your rights, especially you artists.


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