Monday, June 27, 2005

Bad Customer Service = No Customer Evangelism

I've generally been happy with my Sprint PCS service. I'm on an older plan, and only on my third phone in about 6 years. I get enough coverage up here in the Boston area that I can not pay for a landline. It works out nicely.

I'd never really had a problem with service until the last couple of months. I've had a couple of higher phone bills. Now, most of these calls are to other Sprint numbers. Most people have unlimited PCS-to-PCS calling on their plans. I don't (or didn't), because my plan is an older one.

Anyway, I finally take the time to go to the Sprint site and poke around to see how much it is to add PCS-to-PCS calling to my plan. It's 5 bucks a month.

5 dollars.

Son of a bitch.

Now, this is my own stupidity. I will readily admit that. Here's the thing: really good companies will go out of their way to save their customers from their customers' own stupidity.

How hard would it be for Sprint to have noticed an uptick in my PCS phone calls, give me a call, and say "Hey, we've noticed some increased usage on your plan. You'll save a lot of money next month if you add this option to your bill"? Then I'd go, "damn, that's a great idea, please take more of my money each month", and then I'd follow that up and probably post this post, but with a positive spin about how proactive and helpful Sprint was in saving me from my own jackassishness.

Instead, I'm stupid. But I can legitimately call Sprint stupid too. Because they made an extra $50 bucks on me. They just better hope that this post doesn't cost them a single subscriber. If it does, they just made a negative expectation play.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Picasa

How did I miss the boat on this one?

It's probably because I don't take as many digital pictures as I used to, now that my digital camera is about 5 years old. At some point I'll shell out the bucks for a new one, but in the interim, I've just been using the camera in my cell phone to take crappy, random pics.

Back in the day, I used Firehand Ember to manage my pictures. It did thumbnails and made it easy to browse around. When I built a new computer, I didn't bother to get any image management software. I just drilled through the directories by hand, or used Flickr to manage my photos.

I'd heard about Picasa a bunch. About how great it was, about how it's the best photo management tool, and how it's free. Google bought it, rev'd it, and gave it away. I just never jumped on board.

So I'm listening to The Chris Pirillo Show podcast over the weekend. He's talking about his digital camera. Someone asks what software he uses to manage his pictures and he starts to talk about Picasa. Since I was actually at my computer, and not listening in the car or at work like I normally am, I downloaded Picasa with the intention of messing around with it.

Last night, I install it. The interface is pretty clean and looks really nice. But then the magic happens. After it grabs all of my images, I'm able to scroll through thumbnails of thousands of images in just seconds. There's no lag. The rendering is nearly instanteous. The email integration is insanely cool, especially if you use GMail.

Honestly, it's such a simple application that I should be geeking out over it so much. But it's awesome. It does what it is supposed to do, and it does it extremely well, with a really good interface and really good performance. There is so little software these days that does that.

I'm hoping to mess around with some of the labeling features and explore the rest of the application to see what other features are waiting for me to discover.

Anyway, it's rare that a software application comes along and gets you to want to do something more often. Picasa's made me think about throwing some new batteries in the old DC240 and taking some new pictures.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The OPML Outliner or How to Market a Product

Dave Winer (man behind RSS and a bunch of other cool stuff) has been talking about OPML and outliners for a while on his blog. He's been slowly leaking details about his outliner application, including posting images of simple dialog boxes recently.

Why am I mentioning this?

Because I'm utterly fascinated by a product that I have no frigging idea of what it does.

I kinda grok the whole idea behind OPML. Right now, it's predominantly used to carry RSS subscription info, but from what I've been able to gather, it really is just a general XML format for carrying outline data. Nothing terribly sexy there.

I get what an outline is. I use them almost every day. So the idea of an outliner is pretty familiar. Again, nothing sexy here.

But what feels new and interesting on this whole thing is the slow leak of info. It's not a completely transparent process, but it's close. The general public isn't getting snapshots of code to play with, or even a quick little screenshot demo to understand how it all works together. Instead, we're getting a drip-drip-drip of interesting snippets. Stuff about buddy lists and random dialog boxes and collaboration and subscribing. For whatever reason, this particular marketing method (and really, that's what it has been, even if that's not the sole intention) has completely captured my attention.

I feel like I've caught the trailer for a new movie or the synopsis of the season finale of The Shield. I'm dying for more info ... some spoilers on what might be coming. I can't wait to find out more, and that's really a great way to market a new product.

Then again, I was always the kid who ransacked the closets to find out what I was getting for Christmas. So maybe this method of marketing just particularly resonates with me--seeing the drip of info flow through my aggregator is like finding random toy ads hidden around the house. Each bit gets me more determined to find out more.

Friday, June 03, 2005

A Picture Share!

Holy crap, Lake Tahoe is gorgeous!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

At least they have free wi-fi

I'm stuck at Dulles waiting for a flight to Denver, knowing that I'm
going to miss my connection to Reno for my friend's wedding.

The only upshot is that I've got my Pocket PC with wireless access and
this terminal (or maybe all of Dulles?) has free wi-fi. It's pretty
darn fast too.

So, I've been checking email, catching up on work, and generally
trying to figure out how long indefinitely is when it comes to a
delay. When I first got to the gate it said 10am, but they've since
taken that time down.

Oh well. This is why I budgeted a whole bunch of extra time. I've got
time to remote desktop into my home pc and check out my RSS feeds.