Thursday, August 18, 2005

Hilarious iPod spoof

I'll unabashedly admit that I'm a Macintosh man...have been since my first PC, a Mac Plus, back in 1987. I've liked Macs for home and personal business use, and depended on my employer to keep me up with the Windoze world. In my own low-key way I've been a Mac and Apple proponent. Maybe I just like being different. ;-)

I've not yet been able to justify -- until I recently began listening to podcasts -- springing for the big bucks for an iPod, but I sure do want one. Just can't afford one...yet.

Here's a hilarious spoof of the iPod I first found out about on AdRants.

Warning: It's loud. Use headphones if you're at work...

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Sunday, August 14, 2005

Wherefore customer service?

[ BEGIN RANT ]

I'm calling for companies providing technical services to train their customer support people in good customer service and customer relations, how to make the customer feel that they're important.

Unfortunately, that's not what I just experienced. I have to wonder what these people are thinking when they reply -- or don't -- to an inquiry, and when they do, it's as if the customer has no name.

Since I've started blogging a few weeks ago, I've been in search of the right blogging solution. I'll admit that I still don't have as good a handle as I'd like on things like RSS and trackback. But I've dived in to learn by doing.

Blogger/Blogspot doesn't have everything built in. That brings me to WordPress. It not only offers a blogging solution, it looks like it's flexible enough to offer a content management system for web sites...all at no cost! Ah, the beauty of open source solutions.

On the flipside, I have to install it on and run it from my web hosting service's servers. Which brings me to server requirements -- does my current provider support WordPress' minimum server requirements?

About 2-3 weeks ago I submitted a request for information via the support email form provided on my provider's website. And I waited for a reply. And I waited. And I waited.

Generally I think I'm a pretty patient person. Either that or I just don't know when to say I'm fed up and move on.

That was customer service mistake number 1.

Let me say that I like my web hosting provider. I have fairly simple sites that I've hosted there. They have many features that I like to have without costing me an arm and a leg. I haven't had any technical problems. I may not be a big spender -- I have their lowest-cost plan -- but the dollars I spend with them are the same color as those who have more costly plans.

Then I sent the my second inquiry:

Hi,

A couple of weeks ago or so I sent an inquiry through this form, the message below, and have yet to receive a reply.

I've been with you folks for a few years now, and I'm wondering whether you care to continue to have my business or that I continue to recommend Omnis for hosting services to people I know and consult for on web site development.

My query:

I'm considering running the open-source WordPress blogging software and I was wondering if my account supported the following:

* PHP 4.1 or greater
* MySQL 3.23.23 or greater
* The mod_rewrite Apache module

Thanks!

I see that PHP 4.4.0 My SQL 4.0.22 are supported

I can't see whether the mod_rewrite Apache module is supported.

Please reply.

Thank you.


I don't think it takes much to see that I'm not very happy that I had to ask the second time.

I'd have been happy with a "sorry we didn't get back to you sooner" or something like that, just some sort of acknowledgement of my displeasure.

Then, being the Marketing/PR guy I am, I went a step further, offering what I think would be an opportunity to tap into more business:

P.S. I hope you folks see what's going on in the blog world, that blogs are taking off, and likely here to stay.

I encourage you to look at WordPress.org and become one of their referenced hosting companies. WordPress is free, and has many features that other free blog hosting services, such as Blogger/Blogspot do not, e.g., trackback.

Go to http://wordpress.org/hosting/ to see what other hosting services are offering.

Your hosting plans are VERY competitive, and by adding something like easy WordPress start-up could give you an added competitive edge.


Then I signed off with my name, user account ID, and two email addresses.

And what did I get for a reply?

Here it is:

Dear Customer:
Php: 4.4
MySQL: 4.0.22
Mod_rewrite: Should be supported
Thanks,
Eddie


My response: That's ALL??????

Mistake number 2: It's a short answer. No acknowledgement that they might have messed up and missed my first query, or even that I mentioned this is my second time asking for this info.

Mistake number 3: "Dear Customer:"

What? Dear CUSTOMER????

I signed my name. Did you read to the end of the message? Do you even know I have a name? Dear CUSTOMER????

Mistake number 4: "Mod_rewrite: Should be supported"

SHOULD BE????? And if it isn't? So now I have to follow up my inquiry to find out FOR SURE whether it is. I don't want to go through all the trouble of installing and configuring WordPress, and then finding mod_rewrite isn't supported.

Am I expected to make a decision off of SHOULD BE??? What world are you living in?

Well, Eddie, and all you folks at Omnis. I hope you're listening.

Look, I'm not looking for or expecting an intimate relationship. We hardly know each other. But when I put my name in a message, and I have to believe that when Eddie looks at my message he at least sees my customer ID since I sent the message from my logged in account, he could at least address me by my username.

And please give me enough information so that I can make an intelligent decision.

This is the kind of thing that causes customers to leave...and not make referrals.

I haven't yet left Omnis for one of WordPress' referenced hosting companies -- those that WordPress endorses. But after this experience, I'm thinking about it, even if it costs me a few dollars more a year. It just might be worth it for being treated as if I have a name and mean something to the provider.

[ END RANT ]

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Bleeding edge technology: A step closer to cyborg?

I just watched (and listened as I do stuff on my computer) to a fascinating Book TV broadcast of author Michael Chorost telling of his experiences as a deaf man learning to live with his state-of-the-art, software-driven cochlear implants.

That's right. Software driven. It's the bleeding edge of hearing technology solutions for the totally deaf, should they choose it.

In what looks like a hearing aid sitting behind his left ear is the computer processor that translates sound from a microphone that is magnetically held in place on his head by the cochlear implant inside his head.

From his website:


Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human (Houghton Mifflin, June 2005) is my story of becoming a cyborg. It's a scientific memoir of going deaf and getting my hearing back with a cochlear implant, that is, a computer embedded in my skull. Science fiction writers and filmmakers have speculated about cyborgs (human-computer fusions) for decades, but in this book I reveal what it's really like to have part of one's body controlled by a computer...


Read more at michaelchorost.com.

Also from his website:


About Rebuilt

Michael Chorost became a cyborg on October 1, 2001, the day his new ear was booted up. Born hard of hearing in 1964, he went completely deaf in his thirties. Rather than live in silence, he chose to have a computer surgically embedded in his skull to artificially restore his hearing.

This is the story of Chorost's journey –- from deafness to hearing, from human to cyborg –- and how it transformed him. The melding of silicon and flesh has long been the stuff of science fiction. But as Chorost reveals in this witty, poignant, and illuminating memoir, fantasy is now giving way to reality.


Read more here.


As he relates to the audience, his book is about learning how to live in a different body.

For example, as a deaf and hard of hearing person, he explains his center of hearing had been in his chest and other parts of his body. With his new cochlear implant, he learns that now the center of his hearing is at his ears.

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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Passing of a notable newsman

I was shocked on Monday, as I'm sure many were, to hear that Peter Jennings had died. I'd known that he was suffering from cancer, but had no idea that he was as sick as he was.

The world is a better place, I think, because of him. He had a soothing, reassuring delivery of the world news. His was one of the few authoritative, yet compassionate voices that was part of the fabric of our culture and life for so many years.

Ted Koppel, who joined ABC at the same time as Jennings in 1964, spoke of his long-time friend and colleague on the radio program Day to Day.

Fresh Air with Terry Gross aired "A Final Farewell to Newsman Peter Jennings", a rebroadcast of a 1998 interview with Jennings.

The Peter Jennings I Knew

Google News Search

Why "e-Scribble"?

About a month ago I started a blog to mainly focus on my professional interests -- the stuff listed in this blog's About section.

But, I wasn't really happy with calling it "Sam Vigil Jr.s' Blog." So I didn't promote, just added a post now and then, trying my hand at blogging, "practicing," if you will (why do we say that doctors and lawyers "practice" their respective professions?).

So after brainstorming off and on for the last few weeks, not really hitting on a name that appealed to me, I came across "e-Scribble." And I found the domain "e-scribble.com" was available!

Hey! Now something finally felt like the right fit.

While the meaning of "to scribble" is more along the lines of meaningless drawings, doodling, and the like, I hope that my blog is actually the opposite and will have some meaning.

I think "to scribble" fits my blog in that blogging is an informal medium. And while I expect to write informally, I hope the information I offer and my writing is of at least good quality.

Eventually I'll migrate the posts from samvjr.blogspot.com to here. And I'll eventually be pointing the domain e-scribble.com to this blog as well.

[UPDATE 8/11/05] I've now migrated posts from samvjr.blogspot.com.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Which Mountains in Colorado?

I'm confused. And it appears the Colorado Planned Giving Roundtable website folks are confused, too.

When I visited their site, I was greeted by a beautiful picture of majestic mountain peaks -- just what you'd expect from a Colorado-based organization, right?

But wait a minute! Hold the phone! Are these folks actually meeting in and from California?

That's a picture of Yosemite Valley -- in the Sierra Nevada mountains -- on their site!

Suddenly I feel all a-jumble inside. The name and picture don't match. In my mind I'm reading and picturing Colorado, but my eyes are seeing Yosemite Valley.

I'd feel much more at peace -- and the branding message certainly would be less confusing -- if they used a picture of Colorado's Rocky Mountains instead.

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