Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Funny chat with HP printer support specialist.

Juan Carlos, the IT person in my office sent this chat to me.
Juan Carlos : Need to change the default settings for the printer so that I don't have to go into the printer properties every time I need to print from firefox... ie orientation, page size... I already have a preset saved
[An agent will be with you shortly.]
[You are now chatting with Aamir .]
Aamir : Welcome to HP Total Care Chat Support for Imaging & Printing Group. My name is Aamir . Please give me a few moments while I review your problem description details.
Juan Carlos : ok
Aamir : Juan please tell me that is the printer printing in other applications?
Aamir : Is it printing in MS Word or Internet Explorer ?
Juan Carlos : it's firefox
Juan Carlos : sorry
Juan Carlos : it does print on all applications
Juan Carlos : but when I need it to print in landscape always without me having to go into the printer properties everytime
Aamir : Are you facing similar difficulty is other applications ?
Juan Carlos : same ones
Aamir : ok
Aamir : Do you mean to say that when you try to print through MS Word, you have to go to printer properties to give print command.
Aamir : When was the last time it was working fine?
Did you change anything on the machine recently?

Aamir : Have you recently installed any software or made any hardware changes on your machine?
Juan Carlos : I need to print everything I have in landscape orientation instead of portrait
Juan Carlos : that's it
Juan Carlos : and everytime I need to print I have to go into the printer properties and change it to landscape manually, I want to change it to be the default setting and I'm unable to save it as such
Aamir : Juan which Operating system are you using ?
Aamir : Is it Windows Vista ?
Juan Carlos : yes
Aamir : Juan I apologize that this issue would be resolved by landscape technical support department and it does not come under HP
Aamir : It is advised to contact lanscape support and they are in the better position to assist you regarding this issue.
Juan Carlos : what do you mean?
Juan Carlos : there's a landscape tech support department, just to change the orientation of the page?
Juan Carlos : are you there?
Aamir : yes
Aamir : You may experience a lag in response while your interaction, due TO server maintenance. The inconvenience caused to you is deeply regretted
Juan Carlos : do you know what landscape and portrait orientation is in regards to printing?
Juan Carlos : portrait orientation would be 8.5in x 11in
Juan Carlos : landscape is 11in x 8.5in
Aamir : Juan I am going to connect you with lanscape , give me a minute
Aamir : I am working on it
Juan Carlos : wow
Aamir : Juan click Start
Aamir : Printers and Faxes
Aamir : Right click on Printer Icon
Aamir : Click on Properties
Juan Carlos : hold on
Aamir : Sorry not properties
Aamir : Printing Preferences
Aamir : Click on landscape and then click on Apply
Juan Carlos : did that
Aamir : now Landscape is default setting
Aamir : Please check and confirm
Juan Carlos : checking
Aamir : ok'
Juan Carlos : that did it
Juan Carlos : thank you Aamir
Aamir : is it ok now ?
Juan Carlos : yes
Aamir : Juan I apoligise for my confusion that I had in between .
Aamir : However if you ever need our services plese fell free to contact us through phone, chat or email
Aamir : Thank you for contacting HP Total care and giving us an opportunity to serve you. It has been a pleasure assisting you today.
Aamir : Juan are you still online with me ?
Aamir : Please let me know, if you are receiving my responses?
Aamir : Not to rush you, are you still online with me?
Aamir : I have not received a response from you in over a minute. Please reply within the next minute to allow me to continue our chat.
Aamir : Since I am not receiving any response from you within the last 1 minute, I will be ending this session. Thank you for visiting HP CHAT Technical Support.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Is a corporate Blog with no comments a blog or just "friendly" press releases?

Yes, I am talking about Google's official "Google Blog". If you read it you will notice there are no comments, no "links to this post" (well just a few do from what I can see), no real conversation going on at all, they are just press releases written by Google employees. Seems to me that they pull a name from a hat (in the team with the fresh news) and that person has to write the post. Now I am not much of a language expert (as you can tell by my writing) and english is not my main language, but if I had to guess I would even say the posts are read and proofread by somebody. Well, maybe not, but the posts do seem like they all have a fakeness to them....they are just sooo friendly and chirpy its annoying. I want to talk to them, but I dont get an option there. I can only contact them through their standard online forms.
Its weird, but the do no evil company hides so much from the public that I can only assume they are doing evil in some way (and no, I am not talking about them hosting so much info online, I think thats have a choice not to give it to them afterall).
On the other hand, you have Microsoft which is the approved defacto evil company. Yet I see blogs from a lot of their programmers and employees, and I can either contact them through the blogs or sometimes even directly through email. In their blogs they admit mistakes, take criticism, fight back when they don't agree, etc. Much more decent on their part if you ask me.
So back to my original question...should all blogs have comments to be blogs?

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Origami is the Flispstart PC

Think about it. Flipstart was big news about 2 years ago, they claimed they would be out in
2004 yet 2004 came and went and so did 2005. Where did the flipstart go? If I had to
guess I'd say it is what origami was based on. Vulcan the maker of the flipstart is owned by a major MSFT shareholder
afterall. Besides, it just makes sense. The ultimate portable machine is not a phone with
pda capabilities, nor a pda with phone capabilities. Its not a phone with a camera nor an mp3
player with basic pda features. The ultimate portable machine does not require mobile pc,
palm, symbian or embedded linux. Why? because all of these machines and OSs have limitations.
The ultimate portable machine is a full blown windows/linux/osx machine with all its capabilities
intact but in a small form factor. Probably would have to give away speed and physical connectivity
options, and have them replaced by wireless features, but still have the posibility to have
everything in there. Doesn't it bother you that you can receive plain text email but not html mail?
Or you can get html email in some cases, but not the attachments? A full blown windows xp/vista tablet
machine on a small form factor would be the answer to all "problems".
Thats what the flipstart is and that is why I am guessing origami is the next incarnation of the
vaporware project that the flipstart has been up to now.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

msn messenger finally adds a decent contact manager....but

As I mentioned on a previous post I think the ideal PIM would come in the form of an IM. Part of this would include centralized contact information management.
In my ideal world my contact/presentation card would only have my name and my email address....the person would add me to his/her IM and automatically they would have all my contact information....address, phone, fax, etc....and if I change departments in the company, change cell phone number, would automatically be updated for everybody. This would be a great way to avoid bounces on my end of year holiday wishes...where I usually get 10-20 bounces from people that have changed main email.
Seems that the new MSN Messenger aka Live Messenger Beta has functionality like this....BUT...also seems that to actually get to the peoples information a browser window has to open....WHY? WHY? WHY? Why cant it be part of the actual IM? its faster, more efficient, and lets you use the information in other programs.....why did they finally do the right thing with the contact information yet they provide it through such a bad interface?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

history through the eyes of nerds

A while ago, between some boxes my mother had packed up during a move, I found pictures of my grandmother from when she was a teenager. These probably date to the 1930s or early 1940s in Poland. Quite interesting. The picture's colors had faded a bit, but the image was still very clear. A nice memory. In a different box I found dozens of photo albums from my mother and father's wedding, my childhood, my brother and sister etc....nice stuff. Too bad its very likely the end of photographic history of my family. In a few months my sister will be having a baby. And though I live far from where she is, I will most likely be able to see that baby growing up through countless images and videos emailed to me. It will be nice while as the baby is growing up, but will that baby ever get to show its children and grandchildren what it looked like grwing up? I doubt it. In the past all you needed to save your memories was a water tight box. Today you require knowledge way above most peoples technological abilities in order to safely save photos. Families without an assigned geek will loose absolutely every picture in their possesion every few years, and will have to start over.
Pictures will be lost everytime a hard drive crashes (and you know all drives eventually crash), everytime a virus invades a machine, and everytime a machine is "slow" and is taken to a lazy pseudo-geek who will "solve" all problems with a reformat, not caring about the information inside the machine.
Several years from now, the only personal/family history of the late 20th and early 21st centuries that will remain will be that of geeks and nerds.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

blogging to make your software "better"

As mentioned on my previous post I believe that as far as calendars go, Spongecell is currently better than 30 Boxes. The only feature I see on 30 boxes that spongecell currently doesn't seem to have (maybe I missed it) is the recurring dates feature.
So why is it that 30 boxes got all the hype and spongecell was only mentioned as a "me too" service? I might be wrong, but I think its because the developers of 30 Boxes have blogs. That makes their product to either seem to be better or for others bloggers to speak highly about it in order to get recognition when they too present products in the future.
So blogging is pretty much subconcious advertising.

mashups and widgets...we need a standard

The last couple of weeks I saw 30 boxes and all the hype around it, and was surprised at why it got so much attention and spongecell didn't. Coincidentally I had seen spongecell about one or two days earlier. As far as I am concerned spongecell might actually be a little better (yet it got no a-list blogger a la robert scoble advertising....but thats another story which I might get into in another post).
The similarities between these two services got me thinking. Why doesn't anybody develop a mashup/wigdet standard, so that all these services can actually work together, or at least compete in a fair playing field. If the calendars all have a way to be integrated as "widgets" into a personal space, then it would be pretty easy for me to actually select the best one and not have to decide whether I want the best calendar or the site with the most feautures even thought some might be mediocre.
Zimbra is a product that does a little bit of everything and I can install locally, basecamp also does a little bit of everything project related yet its an online service. Spongecell is just a calendar. Airset a little bit of everything. Numsum is an online spreadsheet. Tadalist is just for lists....etc
If I want a best of everything i have to either replicate information all over the place and have to log in to 15 different services....or just deal with a good email service but crappy contacts (ex. gmail).
Standards like iCalendar are great, but that only relates to the data. Currently the difference between a good service and a bad service is not the accesibility to the data, but the usability of the site. We need a way to get all these "best of class" applications to talk to each other so that I can go from one site to the next seamlessly, share information AND take advantage of the interfaces each site uses.
What do you think? can it be done?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

lowering costs vs increasing revenue.....

and the end of service as we know it....

During the years I lived in the US (early through mid 90s) one thing that never failed to amaze me was the quality of customer service. Many might think I am exaggerating, but compared to where I grew up (Bolivia), service was incredible.

I used to use long distance service a lot. My friends and family where pretty far away from where I was. If I ever saw something wrong with my bill, all I'd have to do was call my long distance company, mention the problem (sometimes things that had actually been my fault), and they wouldn't question it. They'd credit my account.

Same with in store purchases. If for any reason you had to return something, no questions where asked, you could return it. Living in the US was living life in "the customer is always right" land.

Those days are gone. At some point in the very late 90s, maybe during the bubble....maybe early 2000s (I don't really know as I no longer live there) some point corporations gave up on the theory that good service increased profits. They went from creatively seeking ways to make the customer happy, and get more return business, to creatively seeking ways to reduce the amount spent on maintaining existing accounts. That of course means lower service. This includes outsourcing phone service to places where they barely speak US English, replying to email questions with canned responses, and giving service personnel instructions to shun the customer if necessary and not waste to much time on them (time is money...and they are trying to save money).

I still do a lot of business with the US. Online purchases, using an American credit card, paying from my American bank account, sending to my US based forwarding mailbox, etc. I also travel to the US once in a while and participate in real shopping at physical stores (a.k.a. brick'n'mortar shops). My experiences during the past years have been horrible. Each one worse than the previous. Sometimes annoying, sometimes frustrating, but in general just plain bad experiences.

Why? Are economies of scale (due to the internet's instant world reach) such that its more efficient to lose customers than to gain new unsuspecting ones? Is the new generation of corporate managers just not capable of increasing profits and is therefore forced to lower costs simply to maintain previous years revenues? Did they just give up? Is keeping stock prices high more important than making world class companies?

Stock pricing, it seems, is a big culprit in all of this. Publicly traded companies pay millions to there top management and their top management wants to keep their million paying jobs. In order to do this all they have to do is make the company look good on paper. As long as revenues seem higher they look good. Stock owners are happy and they get to keep their jobs. Stock now-a-days says nothing about the quality of a company. It doesn't say anything about profits, it doesn't say anything about the company's beliefs, growth prospects, etc...all stock says is what is in fashion. Today's stock darling is tomorrows AOL??? Its all a mirage, and its this mirage that has caused quality of service to go down the tubes.

Its quite ironic that a good portion of US consumers are also stock holders and they themselves push "their" companies into doing whatever it takes to increase revenues but then complain about the service they get. This is especially true about the online community. Chances are that most people that will read this blog (yes, both of, not you, I'll explain later) are stock holders of a company that has given them bad service. Will these stock holders do anything about it? Nope...why? Because of the exact same reason that companies find its cheaper to get a new victim than to maintain a decent relationship with an existing customer. Because one person will not make a difference in the grand scheme of operation of multinational corporations. The stock holder knows that he can't punish the big company by selling his stock and doesn't have the power to make a difference in running the he might as well keep the stock and hope that his bad service experience is made up by his stock gains. The big company on the other side of the dilemma, can afford to lose a customer, but can't afford to hire better qualified staff, or (if the case be) have their qualified staff waste their quality time with one customer.

So all this adds up to....bad service and us having to learn to deal with it. Some of you might point out the priceritephoto deal that happened a couple of weeks ago, and how one blogger was able to get his revenge. This is really nice, but its got a major problem. Now these stories will start surfacing all the time. After all I am pretty sure most bloggers get bad service quite often (seems there are few good service stories out there...though there are), and once everybody starts blogging about their specific bad stories nobody will care and the blogosphere will become one more epinions like space.

So what to do about this? My theory is we can't do much. We created this ourselves. I think all we can do is just wait....with enough time, I am pretty sure the cycle of bad service will come to an end. This will most likely happen in several years...when service reaches some new low and a new company will offer a little higher prices but excellent pricing...and people will notice...and it will grow...and others will try to copy the "new formula"....and then companies will differentiate themselves by the quality of service they provide...and then the cycle will start again.