Posts Tagged ‘technology’


April 20, 2010

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Breaking News!!! There’s a new iPhone coming out in June or July. According to Shania Twain, “That don’t impress me much”. Tell us something we don’t know.

By now, anybody who’s interested,  and even some who are not,  has heard about the apparent misplacing of a 2010 iPhone in a bar in Northern California.  Looks like some Apple employee who was entrusted with this  (cue fancy sci-fi music) highly classified piece of cutting edge technology, went to some bar and left it there. Yes folks, he “left” it there. All the articles we read about this incident use that word……left.  Personally, I’m leaning more to using the word “planted” instead of left, but that’s just me; I used to be an auditor, so I’m programmed to employ a certain level of “professional skepticism” in all situations (or as a friend of mine back home would say ‘ I doh truss dem boy an dem nah”). That is, of course, if you buy the whole idea that the  “found” hardware is genuine in the first place.

I personally think it is genuine, and this whole drama surrounding the thing seems very scripted. First of all, this is probably the first time anyone has been able to get their hands on an actual prototype before Apple wanted them to……(hmmmm……..unless Apple wanted them to). Now I would expect that the company would impress upon its employees the importance of safeguarding  any new technologies or products that have not yet been released, In light of that, the idea that some 27 year old software engineer, left this very important piece of equipment on some random bar stool is a little too hard to swallow.

Then get this, the guy who finds the phone, takes it home with him planning to locate the owner next day (such a kind soul). He wakes up next morning to find that it was apparently dead (the plot thickens).  At this point he finds the phone looks kinda weird, so he decides to poke around and opens it (who does that?). Well apparently, this random guy who found the phone was savvy enough to open  the phone (I guess he stopped planning on returning it at this point), and to his utter amazement and wonder, he suddenly realized what he had stumbled upon.

I imagine the conversation in his head went something like this …”Oh ho…what have we here, this must be the brand new 2010 iPhone that was left on the bar stool right next to me. I must immediately call Apple to see what they have to say about this”. Apparently Apple wasn’t too interested in saying ANYTHING about it. To cut a long story short it seems like the good samaritan felt that the best way to cut his losses (what losses?) was to sell the device to Gizmodo for 5 grand.

Gizmodo apparently did not believe it was real (they must have a lot of spending money), until (cue dramatic  music) they get a letter from Apple asking for their phone back….. please…..hmmm. For a company that does not usually say a lot, they sure said a lot.

My take on this is that Apple wanted to create a little additional buzz over the latest iteration of their best selling product.  After all, everybody pretty much has their launch cycle committed to memory by now (around June or July isn’t really that hard to remember) so there really was no need to come out and say it……..unless of course the intent here is to distract people from the early warning signs that maybe the latest revolution in mobile computing, the big game changer,  the iPad, may not be doing as well as initially expected (oops….did I say that?). What better way to replace the short lived hype over the iPad than with more hype over the iPhone.

Hey, I’m just saying. It just seems to me that this is a little too convenient. But who knows, maybe all of this is real, maybe the 27 year old software engineer really just had one drink too many, and left his not-yet-released iPhone on a bar stool next to a guy who would really want to give it back to him, but changes his mind and opens it up, gets all suspicious,  and calls Apple, then gets upset because they were not taking him seriously, so he sells the phone to Gizmodo, who, even though they thought it was fake, paid $5000 for it ,  opens it up and proclaims it as the real deal, then Apple sends a letter asking for it back  (breathe)………please.  Come on…it could happen.


Anatomy of a phone call

March 25, 2010

I have to call my credit card company………sigh. I must have done something really bad to have been given this sentence. What’s even worse, I’m calling to tell them that they need to reverse a charge on my account. This will not be easy because they are the ones who put the charge there. So I dial……

Welcome to First Credit Card Company, please listen to the following menu and say or use your telephone keypad to enter your choice. (I’ll use the keypad thank you, I refuse to get involved with you and your ridiculous voice recognition software). So I hunker down (my calendar is clear for a couple hours)and make my selection, the first of many selections, since each one you make opens up a sub-menu. I fight the good fight and eventually make it to the option I want.

This is where the fun really starts. Now I get the distinct pleasure of entering my 16 digit credit card number, my social security number, my telephone number, my zip code (I swear they do this just to frustrate people), and my mother’s maiden name. By this time I am pleading for a human on the other end, instead I get a message claiming that I could have a “longer than normal wait” since I apparently called at a time when they’re experiencing greater than normal call volume. Yeah right!!!! Another of your tactics to get me to hang up and go to your website, where I won’t have anybody to scream at. I am, however, patient and I get to the human, the happy, cheerful human, who asks me for my 16 digit credit card number, my social security number……sigh. It’s like Yogi Bera said “it’s deja vu all over again”.

By this time, I am even more upset than when I first embarked on this quest. The human at the other end seems to sense my anger and arbitrarily apologizes even before I start to rail. I don’t let his attempt at “pre-emptive self defense” stop me however, I immediately launch into a colorful diatribe about big corporations in general, the credit company in particular, and I rounded it off with a nice piece about how difficult it is to get to talk to a human being and not a machine. My rep, who claims his name is “Julius” (nehi beta, you don’t SOUND like a Julius) again apologizes and promises that he can “certainly” help me.

After I make my case, “Julius” tells me that (surprise surprise), he can’t help me. I will need to call the merchant. “Julius” I say, in my most patient tone, “you are the merchant”. “Yes sir, but this is a different department”. “Ok Julius, can you transfer me to that department?”. ” I am sorry sir, but you would need to call them directly as I am unable to transfer you to that department”. (Do they really think that we don’t know they’re all sitting in the same room?)

Needless to say, when I call the “merchant” I am told that they can’t help. I have to call my credit card company and report my concerns to them. By now of course I am in some sort of call center induced madness, so I unthinkingly dial the number and jump back into the queue. I laugh hysterically as I enter my 16 digit credit card number, I do some strange ancient dance as I enter my social security number… the time I get to my zip code, I am reduced to a mere zombie. “Julius” again answers the phone (go figure, or maybe they’re all called Julius…..hmmmm). By the time he is halfway through reading his script and acting as if he did not speak to me just ten minutes ago, I slip into some sort of coma induced my bad customer service. The last thing I recall hearing, is Julius asking me if there is anything else he could help me with and if I would like to do a short survey about my experience. My last thought as I slipped away………are you kidding me?

Fall from grace?

March 10, 2010

Within the past couple months, we’ve witnessed the beginnings of what could be the demise of a once great company. This company, for much of recent history has dominated its industry and was considerd the gold standard in its field. If you wanted to learn how to make your processes more efficient, these were the people you went to. If you wanted to figure out how to get employee “buy in”, and create real “company men”, these were the folks you studied. If you wanted to understand how to live by principles and build those principles into the very fiber of your product, these were the people you learned from.

For a long time, we would go to places where their products were sold,put our money down, and leave with a sense of accomplishment that we were able to purchase something that has been winning awards ever since we could remember. For the most part, this purchase would not necessarily make us super popular, but when people saw it, and realized we owned it,our reliablity index went up. A pseudo halo effect kicked in. The product’s reliability was legendary so obviously anyone who owned one must also be a reliable person.

We also chose this particular product, because it had a reputation for durabibilty. We’ll be putting this in our will, that’s for sure. No fly by night false pretenders for us. No sir, we’ve got the real deal. Now we could add our two cents when the older heads start telling their tales of how long they’ve owned theirs, ” I tell you I’ve had mine for 25 years, my kids would not be born if it wasn’t for that”. (ummmm….ok)

We bought this product because it was safe, we did not have to concern oursleves, when we used them with our kids, our parents, our grandparents, our pets. This was a safe product. We made a good decision, it was a fine choice…….we did the right thing.

We bought it too, because there was an old world mystique about them. “Those guys know what they’re doing. They’re not flashy. They’re………traditional. Some of these other guys could learn a thing or two from them”.

Then something strange happened. The once reliable products began to fail. We, however, continued merrily on our way, mostly because the majority of us were not aware of these chinks in the armour of our champion. It is amazing that in these days of instant news, and youtube and whatnot, that we were able to be kept in the dark for so long.

When the company saw that they simply could not suppress the goings on anymore, they took the next step down the slippery slope….they trivialized the matter. They blamed the problem on what amounts to a fashion accessory. This worked for a minute. It worked because we were willing to defend them. We believed in them. They care about us.If they say the fashion accessory was the cause, then that was the cause. Take the accessory and throw it away. “Away with you, how dare you try to get between me and my….”

When that didn’t work, they tried to pass the blame. They tried to say it was one of their suppliers. Supplier guy says “Hell no”. Don’t blame me. You’ve been having these issues before I even got here. (Kinda like the woman who tries to convince her boyfriend that the child really is his; “baby I know its only been three months but he really is yours, look at his eyes”… way lady, that happened before I got here)

Of course, like any cover up (great or otherwise), there’s usually a fan involved that is used to blow all the stuff away. Eventually though the bad stuff piles up, it gets to be too much, it starts blowing back, and it …well……….it hits the fan.

Now the company is in a real mess (a real monkey pants like my mother used to say). Turns out that, not only did they know about it, not only did they immediately comprehend the seriousness of the issue, but they chose to trample on those principles we came to respect,and went the route of saving money telling us to get rid of the fashion accessory rather than tackle the problem head on.

Of course we found out (we always find out, why don’t they realize that…if you’re going to write stuff down and create powerpoint slides and stuff, we will find out) and in our finding out, their credibility (and perhaps the entire company)was not merely tarnished, it was destroyed (at least as far as I am concerned).

Now it seems like every other day we hear about their products failing. I am pretty sure that some of these “failures” are people trying to cash in on the company’s misfortunes, since no matter what their investigations find, we won’t believe it to be anything other than product failure. They made their bed now they get lie in it.

Its a pity though because while we can hope that this will birth some kind of a conscience in the industry as a whole, I suspect not. More likely than not they will use this as a way to somehow get more money out of us. If they had done the right thing in the first place, they would not be at this point now.

I can’t be too worried about that at the moment though. These days I’m focused on not overtaking a Prius when I see one. Who knows when it will decide to go all Knight Rider on me…….

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