Thursday, April 19, 2012

Customer Service not Dead but Dreaming

In order to protect my spiffy new Very Expensive Rectangle, I took a cue from my most successful iPhone case and bought from OtterBox.

I got the Defender series and the Latch.

You will note a photo of the Latch attached to this article.  Here is my brief journey:

First I ordered both units.

Second I received only one of them, the Defender.  This is very nice indeed, but having paid for both I was left scratching my head.

Third I tried going through their online form.  This is an annoying process that is very gimme-gimme about your personal information and seems far more focused on collecting demographics about you than about the problem you might be contacting them about.

Fourth I got tired of waiting for a reply so I called them directly two days later.

Fifth the representative was very nice indeed, did not try to make excuses & sent me the Latch with expedited shipping gratis.

Sixth I got the Latch & it was very nice indeed.

Seventh I broke one of the clips, pictured above, that hold that little strap-sack/stand-foot to the harness.  This took me less than a week of usage.

Eighth I called up and asked about how to get a replacement.

Ninth and most significantly, they just sent me a whole new Latch system, again with expedited shipping, all for free.

I got it last night, and I am very happy about the whole transaction.  Sure there were some mistakes made, but it was handled in a very professional way and I am indeed one happy customer.  Happier than I would have been had there not been a problem even.

In short, in an age when customer service seems to be eroding on a daily basis, it is really nice to do business with a company that tries to treat their customers well.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


So I took the plunge & bought an iPad a few weeks back.  It is a complete game-changer.  I find myself doing things with it that I never really expected.  The things that I did expect - using it to read books, watch movies, TV-shows and listen to music, podcasts & audiobooks - basically the stuff that I used to use my iPhone for - yes, I am doing that.   So much so, that I find myself quickly digitizing more media.

Things that I can do rather well with the iPad that I did not expect to be so good, if indeed exist at all, include image editing, audio editing, music mixing, actual software development with run-time engines, network scanning, and distance learning.

The Killer App for me is remote desktop.  I have been experimenting with TeamViewer.  This is Great Stuff.  Being able to bring up my home computer and keep it busy all day is a real performance enhancer.  I am coming up with more and more batch jobs to run every day.  Having an idle computer is like having a lazy, freeloading child.  You need to keep them constantly engaged.

I have opted out of iCloud.  When MobileMe dries up I will be all the way out.  I have started moving my data out of GoogleDocs also.  It was a fun ride, but the "Cloud" is growing murky.  At the end of the day it is all about ad revenue and Google+ is all about trying to get the same kind of ad money that Facebook gets.  This is because advertisers want to know all about you, so that they can sell you things.

iCloud is not like that, but they are far more insidious.  I see no reason to automatically publish anything that is snapped by the camera in my phone and I certainly am not giving up control of all of the Contact information that I have.  That more than anything is extremely ominous.  I can think of several malicious uses of that kind of information and I can't really think of any up-side beyond the simple laziness of avoiding having to sync your devices at the end of each day.

Another major complaint is the price of media.  Apps are generally speaking, reasonably priced.  I think that $10 for a highly functional piece of software is a very fair price.  I will use that for hours & hours and so the value is there.  TV Shows however are ridiculous.  Someone in that pipeline is price gouging big-time.

On a related topic, has Marvel Comics completely lost their minds with the on-line distribution of comics?  When an eBook costs the same as the printed comic, what is the value proposition?  It isn't like you can collect eComics.  There is no resale value later.  How do they justify that?  Let's face it, only 1/2 of the reason why people collect comics has to do with the art & story-lines.  The other 1/2 is the appreciation curve as the comics gradually grow in value over time.  This is not going to happen with bits...

Ironically one thing that I could not do was to upload an image to this blog.  You can only do that from an Android phone if you use Google+...  So now that the peer-pressure era of social networking is winding down, the free services model is now ramping up as leverage to make people exchange privacy for access to web applications.

I also found a hole in the theory of the "PostPC world" that Tim was talking about during the Apple Keynote.  When I save a song that I recorded in GarageBand on the iPad, I can't save it to the playlist.  In fact none of my applications allow me to add anything to the song database.  (i.e. anything playable with the Music App)  To do that I need to sync to a computer, where I am allowed to drag the mp3 files from one folder to the other.  Then I can resync & they are added to the song database.  So my computer is essentially my only way out of the Walled Garden.  It's only unique functions now are XCode and the ability to drag to/from a protected playlist.