The Quest for Easy Project Management Apps

So there I was, half way through 2015 and thinking,”Dang, I need some better collaboration tools.” Does anyone remember Astrid? I loved Astrid because it did EVERYTHING. It even pestered me to get stuff done instead of slacking off. Hey! I said “slacking.” Sheesh, people.  But then Astrid imploded, and I went on a journey for project management tools.  They didn’t even have to be free, just easy to use.  My mantra these days.

I have tried OneNote, Evernote, Zoho, TeamBox (now Redbooth), SmartSheet, and a bunch of others, but I still just wasn’t impressed.  Stuff was either TOO simple, or TOO complicated.  Or it did one thing well but not another. Today, just for giggles, I signed up for LifeHacker. Why Not? And then I found this article.  Why Not? So, it turns out only 3 of the suggested tools were viable for me, personally (be my guest to try any of the ones I have mentioned…), and of those, two products really caught my attention: Trello and Azendoo.  Both of them have a solid free tier.

What I liked about Trello was the “Scrum board on crack” approach.  I mean, it isn’t Scrum, so let’s not kid ourselves.  But you create a board and slap a bunch stickies on there (attachments get preview icons) and then everyone dogpiles that board until all the crap is done.  That’s a pretty cool concept, so I signed up to try it out.

What I liked about Azendoo was the overview video.  I mean, it wasn’t the best video on earth, so let’s not kid ourselves.  But it showed, in about 5 minutes, how to deal with workspaces, subjects and tasks. Azendoo has a lot of features, so I signed up to try that out, also!

I am excited to try these products.  I just needed some stronger grouping functions, and I think Trello and/or Azendoo might doo the trick. Both products also have iPhone and Droid apps.  Azendoo also has a desktop app for Mac, Linux and Windows 8 – that’s interesting.  What’s more, if you decide to pay for the products, they are not that expensive…as of this writing between $5-10/mo.

Maybe I will follow up with some results… happy Project Managing!


“Twice As Good” Sneaks into DC

Well, I can’t say that blues is my thing, but I can say that “Twice As Good” did have a good sound, fun tracks and a healthy appreciation for their audience.  This post, however, is all about taking something twice as good, and maybe making it three times as good… because there were a number of obstacles that I think impacted the show, and I hope this post serves bands and venues alike when considering the impact to their potential audience. This show was hosted by the Smithsonian Native American Museum – an incredible building housing a really great collection that is laid out in style.  It’s a great venue, but I think it could’ve pulled in more people.  Here it goes:

  • They put the band in the atrium.  Although the atrium is impressive, it did two bad things:
    • First – nobody outside the museum could hear the music, so there was no ability to draw people to the venue during the performance.
    • Second – the atrium isn’t designed for…blues…the band sounded muddy in a lot of places. To combat that, they cranked the volume, but that gave the audience the option of “loud and clearer” or “muddy and quieter.”
  • Ironically, I found the sound did clear up as I rounded the corner opposite the stage… which means the sound quality improved as people worked their way further into the museum, but that leads to another venue issue. The museum was closed. So, for the people who did find out there was a band, they still couldn’t tour the museum (and benefit from the exhibits as well as improved sound of live music).
  • Next, if a person cannot walk through a museum, what might they want… how about a beer or a margarita? No liquor license… OK, how about a water, a lemonade, a hot dog, or whatever?  The Native American Museum is one of the few venues that has a cafe, and the cafe was closed! Gah!
  • The show was blues/funk, but the seating was not… the seating was setup like chamber music or a lecture.  Rows of seating might work for a megaband playing at Verizon Center, but for a more intimate venue of this music style, maybe keep the seating more casual… do a dance floor and cocktail rounds.

The Smithsonian Institution, as a whole, makes so many amazing things possible for the general public, so it’s not like this event was a failure.  I just felt like there was this zesty band imparting energy and their energy couldn’t be heard outside the building.  Inside the building, people would have to sit like a structured performance, with no access to the museum or its cafe.  I think this arrangement hindered the goals of the museum and the band, so I wrote about it in the hopes of helping both future venues and future bands consider their options when setting up a performance.

Robocam operator working his magic.

I will say this – Twice As Good has a good rig! They have a sound guy AND a Robocam guy (that is indeed twice as good).  I was able to snag a shot of one of the unsung heroes 🙂  As someone who has worked in the media production arena,  I like to showcase the folks behind the cameras and audio cables. So, in summary…

  • Either put the band outside and then pipe their sound into the museum, or have them inside make sure their sound is broadcast outside to attract the street crowd
  • Let people explore the museum
  • Use a dance floor (nothing elaborate) and cocktail style seating
  • Either keep the cafe open, or make arrangements for concessions (within the seating area only, so the museum doesn’t get trashed)
  • If housing a band in an indoor atrium, consider some audio engineering/dampening to improve the quality within the atrium area

ATTs Samsung Galaxy Note 3

The Short Version
If you like Droid, and you like a nice big screen backed by a powerful processor, this phone will not disappoint you.

AT&T’s Network
This phone can’t fix their network.  But it is not the device, from what I can tell, because this is my third ATT phone and the symptoms of dropping calls, dropping off the network while the phone says it is on the network, and GPS locking up in a signal-rich environment  while your friend’s phone works just fine. . . . yeah, all that has come for the ride with each phone.

So why do I stay with AT&T? I didn’t – I bounced to Sprint which was a really bad experience.  And then I talked to friends about their networks, and although Verizon came out on top of the perception surveys, it was way more expensive and it wasn’t worth it for me to experiment.

Plus, AT&T has restructured their plans similar to T-Mobile and other “a la carte” providers – so they have new bulk data plans which makes it much more reasonable to use the tethering feature on the device, and they have plans that let you go month-to-month for cell service, and pay monthly to purchase the device.  It’s much better than the 2-year agreeement BS.  I just wish they would work on their reliability…

The Basics
Let’s start with the basics.  The phone is powerful, bright, high resolution, has a gloriously large screen, and the newer version of Android brings a lot of usability features to the forefront so you don’t have to dig down into a thousand submenus to find things.

Is Android the Answer
For folks who don’t know what OS they want, I am not going to say Android is the answer! Every OS has its zealots. I am an Android Zealot, and I am pretty sure Google has cloned me and will be replacing me with the clone and taking over my life in the next 10 years.  But in the next 10 years, the ocean will be 98% water, 1% salt and 1% discarded cell phones, so whatever.  Bottom line, you need to either visit a store front or sit in front of a friend’s phone and try out Android, iOS, other operating systems and maybe even (cringe) Windows 8! Try making a call, accessing contacts, using the calendar, and other things that you will use the phone for every single day. The Galaxy Note 3 is my favorite Android phone, but I already knew I was getting another droid.

Why Not A Tablet?
Screen size was a primary factor for me – the more real estate the better.  One of my primary questions became, “did I want a big-ass phone? Or, did I want a smaller, less powerful phone and a tablet instead?”  I decided on a big-ass phone, and was looking at the Mega vs the Note 3.  The Note 3 screen is significantly smaller, but the Mega is like… buying the Playskool ™ version of the Note 3.  Why bother? Note 3 crushes the Mega in terms of screen resolution, color vibrancy,  processing moxie, and features, so Note 3 it was! The Note 3 still fits in your pocket… but with armor, it does look like you are really happy all the time…and well, I wouldn’t recommend skinny jeans and a Note 3.

Battery Life
It would take an “arc reactor” to give the Note 3 any battery life.  I pull it off the charger and listen to the battery drain like air escaping out of a balloon. That’s cool with me though, because any bigger a battery and the thing would be too thick or too heavy.  The battery can keep the phone going for about…a day, but I keep a charger within arms reach at all possible times.

Advanced Features
Samsung has a majority of its crazy features disabled when you take it out of the box, and candidly, I don’t use most of them very frequently, but depending on the user, maybe they would be handy. There’s the proximity bump-and-share thing (I grew up being taught that bumping-and-share spreads disease, so not my thing). There’s a way to do split window for multi-tasking (chat and browsing, or video conference and note taking, etc) – I’ve used it to take notes while watching a webinar.  There is even a way to draw windows and fill them with applications so you could have conceivably many windowed apps on the ready… but I don’t use it for anything other than coffee table discussion (hey look, my phone can do this…and this is the only time I ever do!).  It can tell if you are looking at it, and do facial recognition, and you can give it voice commands, and it can scroll when it thinks your eyes are at the bottom of the page… yup, I do very little of that.  Sometimes it is handy to say a navigation address instead of type it, but trying to dial one of my friends from a voice command is a waste of time (not giving actual name, but it was not “Jones”):

Me: “Call Tom Jones.”
Phone: “Did you say call Fred Smith?”
Me: “No.”
Phone: “Oh, my bad. Try Again.”
Me: “Call Tom Jones.”
Phone: “Here are the people I have named Tom: 1) Tom Tim, 2) Tom Jah-Nose (spelled Tom Jones), which one should I call?”
Me: (mimicking phone’s pronunciation) “Tom Jah-Nose.”
Phone: “Sorry if I am pissing you off but the Tom’s I have are 1) Tom Tim, 2) Tom Jah-Nose. Which one should I call?”
Me: (wild guess) “The second one.”
Phone: “I don’t show a person with that name in your address book.  Would you like me to just give up?”
Me: “Yes.”
Phone: “That’s not nice. I am telling all the other Samsung devices on earth to kill you now.”

Virtual Keyboard
Because the screen is so large, the virtual keyboard is plenty roomy.  In fact, I wish I could shrink it (and it does have a one-handed mode, but still not quite what I want).  And there are a couple bugs that seem to recur – I don’t know if it is Android or just the Note 3 but sometimes the keyboard will pop up and I can type all I want, but no text displays anywhere.  I have to navigate away from the app or pretend to share my location and then navigate back in order for the typing to produce letters.

Another curious bug will display the wrong keyboard layout – it shows the chat layout, with “smileys” instead of the “Go” button, and in a web browser that isn’t the right layout! Tapping the “sym” key one or two times resolves this issue.

The Pen
I really, really, really like the pen.  Most of the time, it is faster to just type using the virtual keyboard, but I do doodle on paper and I am that guy in a meeting who has to draw two squares and circle on the whiteboard because I think it will help explain why Ewoks suck… so, the anti-Ewok pen is PERFECT for that.  They also have an app called S Sketch that is easy to use, scrap-booking and marking up content off the web is simple (when you take the pen out of the device it gives you a few options in a radial menu)…  but seriously, to capture something visually and share it, you can’t beat the pen!!

There is supposedly a really cool health watch, but I have tried it out.  And of course, when buying a phone that costs as much as a laptop and more than most tablets, a case seemed like a good idea.  I might have just gotten unlucky, but I bought an INCIPIO case and it totally sucks rocks.  The case started disintegrating a few days after I bought it – just little chunks of it started flaking off, then a couple cracks formed, and now it has become kind-of a National Geographic observation mission as I watch with morbid fascination how long it will take this case to decompose without ever having been dropped or even bumped!! Needless to say, you can either buy an OtterBox, which makes the phone super huge but will protect your phone through nuclear holocausts and the subsequent winter, or buy some other brand… I just don’t recommend INCIPIO at all, and I think it would be better to skin an Ewok and use that to protect the phone (I am pretty sure they are the one life form that PETA actually supports killing, but I haven’t researched their position in earnest).

App Store
As a droid, the Play Store is of course the store-front of choice, but as a Samsung, folks can also take advantage of that store-front although most apps are available on both stores.  I haven’t looked into it a lot.  Samsung & AT&T have some apps that overlap with Google’s and gives you choices, but sometimes the apps get annoyed with each other… I still get the messaging app from Samsung popping notifications for SMS messages on occasion even though I use the Google app for that, for example.

Smart TV Integration
Yeah – I have read complaint after complaint about how the Smart TV app (Samsung Smart View) does not work on the Note 3, and I tried getting my phone to talk to my friend’s Samsung Smart TV… it didn’t go well.  But I will probably do a separate write-up on Smart TV after a while.  I couldn’t get the screen to share at all, the remote control was not reliable, and you are still stuck typing using the TVs funky on screen keyboard which is stupidly slow.  Samsung will probably fix this, I would think, for one of their flagship mobile devices, but as of this writing…no love.

I know, I put it up top…but hey… I really dig this phone.  As usual, technology has a long way to go before it is as smooth as we see when watching television or movies. You don’t see actors waiting for buffering, dealing with network drops, browsers hanging, etc… . .or the shows would turn from dramas into comedies.  And as usual, comedy usually renders a more faithful depiction of technology than drama.  But, as far as mobile gadgets go, the Note 3 is impressive and very functional.

The Logitech Touch Mouse T620

Well, let’s start by saying this mouse is interesting. It was something new and different, from the design to the touch-factor.  The results? As an innovative product idea, it was impressive, but as a day-to-day piece of gear it’s definitely not ready for prime time.


  • It looks cool
  • Don’t have 2 batteries, that’s OK it can work on just one
  • universal dongle (that sounds like a really bad adult movie, but it is a handy idea)


  • The touch interface is…well… touchy! Sometimes it doesn’t interact as expected
  • By far the biggest issue for “real-world” use is addressing several ergonomic concerns
    • The mouse does not have a high enough arch to support the weight of a hand without invoking an accidental click
    • Using the mouse requires that a person moves their hand from the base to the tip of the mouse while grasping the mouse to move the pointer – this doesn’t feel as awkward as it looks in writing, but after 8 hours, it will be become evident
    • And finally, because the mouse is touch sensitive, it requires the user to not rest their hand on it – constantly hovering their fingers over the surface of the unit – that really adds up over a day’s work
  • With such an awesome surface, I kinda expected a second battery might be able to illuminate it, just a little bit (make it an option so people don’t complain)… I think it would just look cool.

Basically I would only recommend buying a T620 mouse if you are curious and already have access to a known, comfy mouse in case this one doesn’t do it for you!

Happy Mousing!


Catching Fire – When Fumbles Make Money

SPOILER ALERT (OK, candidly there is not a whole lot to spoil – but if you read this you will not need to see the movie – and I encourage that)
I can sum up this movie for you and spare you 2.5 hours of not a whole lot.  Summary: “We’re making a third movie.” In fact it was over 3 hours at the theater because where I saw it they said, “Hunger Games? Oh, we will show twice as many trailers and twice as many Geico commercials for this one!!” Know the limits people!! Sheeeeesh!

Yup… for serious, “we’re making a third movie” is the ONLY reason the 2nd movie exists.  I don’t read books before seeing movies, in general. So, if the creators expected that I was a franchise die-hard that reads the book, follows the tweets, and laps the milk from the dog bowl of district “hunger games” (or is it a cat bowl? do dogs drink milk? I digress)…anywhoddle, yah got the wrong guy. Speaking purely from a “I want to see a movie” perspective, there is likely a LOT more explanation in the book, and the movie felt fractured, repetitive and underdeveloped.

Listen, any time a movie beats the viewer over the head with (as my cousin put it) “this is the HIDDEN MEANING of THIS scene” it is kinda annoying, but movie-goers likely expect some of it as a way to cater to a broad audience at different levels of film-appreciation capability. This film, however, took the symbolism bludgeoning to a whole new level.  It was like symbolism crossed with one of those anime action scenes that repeats from 6 different angles…we got the same message over and over.

Catching Fire was like the first movie of the last Harry Potter book… it accomplished whole lot of nothing and made a whole lot of money.  From a story-telling perspective, that’s a fail.  But from a business perspective, it could count as a success, as long as the pattern isn’t repeated so often that the viewers can predict when they will be cheated.

When converting literature to film, there is no formula.  But safe to say, someone shoulda looked at that screenplay and said, “this aint right.”  Either they didn’t bring the right content forward from the book, or that book was like the one in the Narnian Chronicles… been a while, but I think it was “Prince Caspian”, or was it “Voyage of the Dawn Treader”? The one where they sat around talking the whole time and not a whole lot happened. Yeah, that one.

By the time we reach the last scene where Catnip is all angry because she finally realizes there is going to be a revolution, I felt like saying “Duh!! Welcome to Obviousville!!”  Everytime her character said “this doesn’t make sense,” I punched myself in the face to ease the pain I would feel if I just, well, didn’t punch myself in the face.

I can only imagine it is allowance money that enables the 89% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, or Must Go! Fandango rating… crazy.  If you want a flick that is fun, involves a class-battle, and has lots of fun special effects…go check out Elysium!

Farewell Astrid…Hello TeamBox?

I just recently found out that Astrid has been acquired by Yahoo! and from what I can tell, it looks like it is going the route of Gizmo 5.  Remember Gizmo 5? Yeah, so anyway, maybe they will let Astrid coexist, but from what I can tell they already have a Get It Done application (supporting Get Things Done, which is so popular it is called GTD by smexy people in the know).

I looked into Get It Done, and well… Astrid was free, and this was $39/year, and I wasn’t hip on it.  So then I reviewed some other apps like Any.Do, Nozbe and ToodleDo.  There was also this interesting LifeHacker post which adds Wunderlist and a few others to the list.

I didn’t do any serious comparison – I just kinda poked around and compared stuff to Astrid, including the price points… I moved my search into “collaborative tools” and looked at Citrix Podio, MindManager, SmartSheet and ZoHo as well.  What I settled on, for now, is a product called TeamBox.  It seems to fill the Astrid niche, at least for my purposes and the free version supports up to 5 users, it integrates to Google Docs, DropBox and Box.  Give it a go:

Now, in honesty, does the TeamBox mobile app shake a stick at the fluidity of Astrid’s task management GUI?  Nope – not even a little bit – so if you find something close, be sure to leave a comment (people nag me because my comments are moderated, but just be patient…they will show up!)

Replacing Thunderbird? Good Luck…

For the past year or so, my Thunderbird client has been acting weird – it keeps not being able to install an update of some kind.  Combine that with a general curiosity to see what was out there in the free realm, and I ended up spotting this handy list from Wikipedia. I decided, after reading some random web comparisons, to try Mailbird, Inky, Claws Mail,  and EM Client.

Now, don’t look to this article as some kind of awesome feature comparison, because it isn’t.  I just wanted to see if I liked anything better than Thunderbird.  My criteria? Simple:

Windows 7, Let’s me pick where it installs, let’s me pick where I store the data, let’s me import mail and contacts from Thunderbird, easy to use.

Admittedly, I was shallow here, but my criteria are above. It is the year 2013 and we should have flying cars and no homeless people by now… so at least make my email painless in the 21st century…show me we can get that right.  Anything that deviated got axed…period. I didn’t think “oh, maybe I will Google that.”  Nope. So here we go:

Inky: Blew a cog on install and couldn’t talk to its mother ship.  Uninstalled.

Claws Mail: I tried to adjust where the datastore was being stored and the browse button launched some cool cryptic mh#spam\mount/toga-party stuff that probably is comfortable for Linux folks but I had no clue what that meant, so…uninstalled.

EM Client: thought it knew better than I did where to install. Wrong answer. Uninstalled.

Mailbird: They had this proud “Full IMAP Support” flag on their page… but they didn’t say “ONLY Supports IMAP” which is the sad truth.  No POP3 support.  Uninstalled.

Mailbird (Zombie Exclusive): OK, so I later found out that my hosting provider does support IMAP.  Mailbird couldn’t detect the settings, so I had to set everything including port numbers (defaults typically are 143 for IMAP and 25 or 587 for SMTP, in case you are randomly here for that). It connected. Yay. It couldn’t import Thunderbird data.  Uninstalled…again.

So there yah have it… I couldn’t even test the Thunderbird import.  21st century email clients might be OK, but I guess I had my hopes set a little too high with my exhaustive requirements. lol. But lots of people are ranting about the above apps, and admittedly they all looked like programs I might have enjoyed using.  Go ahead and try them out.

Happy Emailing… I will stick with discontinued “sooo last 2012” Thunderbird for now.

The Counselor: It Sucked, But Why?

I think Rotten Tomatoes has a pretty good synopsis: “The Counselor raises expectations with its talented cast and creative crew — then subverts them with a wordy and clumsy suspense thriller…” but just going off their review won’t give me the catharsis of venting about my experience with this film.

First Off: Thriller? There was not a moment of suspense in the entire film because at NO point were they clear on what the back story was, and without that information, I couldn’t give two [beeboop]s what happened to anyone in the film. For example, the film invested the MOST effort trying to get the audience to believe that the main character was in love with his fiance. But a naughtyyyy sex scene, table talk at a dinner and showing him crying with his cell phone every 5 minutes ain’t gonna do it… who the HELL is this guy, WHO is she?  Maybe ask The Who, they know this stuff…

Second Off: Obvious!! Seriously… the lead characters are engaged in the philosophical rants and then they are like “this machine that rips your head off” and “snuff films!!”  Go figure, the finale featured a machine that rips someone’s head off and a snuff film.  Wow, that wasn’t predictable at all.

Third Off:  Time is precious…there’s 90-120 minutes to explain things in a compelling way.  I have no ill will towards some of the deep speeches – that was kind of cool in an era when movies are hell bent on catering to baser and trivial aspects of life.  But when not being philosophical, please use the time more wisely… there was a huge amount of time dedicated in ways that were just choppy and out of place.  The playboy acts like Plato in one scene, tells a sexually comedic line in another scene and rounds off his misguided character in an anticlimactic “chase” scene.  It reminded me of Prometheus… trying to be too many things at once and not doing any one of them with a degree of prowess.  And Prometheus didn’t have cheetahs, so epic fail for them.  Anyway, I picture the actors asking “what’s my motivation” every 5 minutes because there was no personae imbued in the dialog!  Maybe too many people got their claws into the editor and drove him insane… “Put a scene in with philosphy!” “No, I want one with the main character weeping 3 times in 10 minutes” “Nooooo! Dead people, give me dead people!!”

Fourth:  All that, and the premise of the movie (spoiler alert)… is that, in a “man’s world” (as the characters would have us believe), apathetic ice queens have a place? OK.  That was worth my time.  If 90% of drug overlords are philosophers, at least come up with a deeper message than that bull-pucky as the crux of the film. C’mon!  And why was this ice queen invisible the whole time… everybody else gets found in 3 seconds regardless where they are on earth, but nobody was looking for her? Ever? Lame! I summon the Lame Magician, who pulls the attorney’s girlfriend from the trash pile / graveyard and does three super Cheetah attacks with double head-clipper action to any Ice Queens in play! Now your Ice Queen has no more life points! Muhahahahahaha!

I could keep going, but I feel pretty good now. And for the record, catfish can be cool.  Not ANY catfish, but, if I ever spot the RIGHT one on my windshield, I am gonna sit back and enjoy! Craziness… “I wish I didn’t have that memory” Whatever…. where’s your sense of adventure, Mr. Playboy??

How the [blank] did they get such a good cast for this flick? It totally felt like someone’s first screen play… maybe I will rally a cast like that for my first screenplay!! Thank you, cast, for trying to make this movie worth my time…  there should be an award for best rescue attempt.

OK, now I am good.  Whew.

Life Beyond Facebook

FB2 Electric Boogaloo
Odd… there have been several other posts I’ve contemplated, but I finally get around to typing something and it is about Facebook again. Again? Isn’t there something beyond Facebook? Hmm, ironically, that is why this post came about.

Social Network Blues
I pulled out of several networks. Let’s face it, maintaining a network takes time and energy, and those things are at a premium in this over-boiled rat race of a life our species has created for itself (and we call ourselves “advanced”? hee hee, that’s cuuuuute *pinches the cheeks of humanity*).  So I did what any self-aware bachelor not wanting to become an unsuspecting parent would do: I pulled out.

Now What?
Who knows, really.  But, like every busy person on this little blue ball, I want to put my finite amount of time where it is best utilized, while still having some time for fun and maybe even a little slice of time to be socially responsible. This means only using tools that DON’T waste my time. But what does the word “waste” mean in this context, really?

Thinking about Social Network Waste
Is it like nuclear waste? If so, can we clean it up in about 15 seconds using one of of those radioactive picker-uppers from the latest Die Hard movie? (no lie, they cleaned up 20 years of “pooled” radioactivity in about 3 minutes with that thing — better than a Shark vacuum! No wait, Shark vacuums have one advantage: they are REAL). Where was I? Oh yeah, social network waste (SNW)… there are many forms of SNW, but since this is my first time thinking about it, I am not 100% sure I know what I am talking about.  So let’s take Scrapples, the Social Networking Puppy, out for a walk and after he does some of his “business” we can send it to the lab and get a proper waste analysis.

Lab Report
Well, I took Scrapples out, and for a 15 pound dog, I was impressed with the 2,574 pound turd he left on the lawn:

  • Churn vs Substance: This was the most ambiguous category because 1 person’s churn is another person’s substance, but it would be nice if my social network only contained information I was interested in…not just the people I want to hear from.  And turnaround is fair play – when I broadcast a message, I just want it broadcast to people who want that TYPE of message.
  • Security vs Features: I don’t want to see Farmville crap, OK? Any application that says it needs permission to scrape my contacts or behave with a power of attorney is not an application I need or want.
  • Convoluted UI: User Interfaces that hide the stuff I want to use, or are difficult to use…. can get out of my way.
  • Users as Products: Positioning advertisements all over the place just annoys me.  I would like the option to pay a subscription and forego the advertisements.
  • Reusable Information: When I am ready to share… this is the world-wide web, I want to post information once, then have it distributed to where my friends/subscribers are and THEN have it filtered so only people who want to see that information are bothered with it.  And this is like a social-web concept (thanks TED… oh wait, I AM Ted. Muhahah. Thanks, me! :-D) – I don’t want to have 20 accounts on 20 networks.  1 post should hit all 20 using interwebz magic and be done! (Pangea was one such venture, dunno if it ever got out of diapers and started walking or not – but I don’t see it out there)
  • My Information: Is mine. My posts are mine. My content is mine.  Not Facebook’s, Not Google’s.
  • My Identity: Don’t waste my time trying to sharing details about who I am – who I am is MY business.  And don’t interfere with what name I want to use (arg, FB, arg Google+) – on the web I am TheRage3K. Effing deal with it, or get out of my way.
  • Troll-Meter: Don’t like trolls? Fine – give every recipient the right to rate a response as a troll response.  Enough of those, and they have a little troll icon next to their posts, or something, so people know the trolls. Hi trolls!! We love to hate you *troll face*
  • Content Sharing: Some sites are working on this, maybe they do it better, but when I share, I need to pick the audience, from a few key people, to a “circle” to multiple groups to the whole “three double-u”.

Is There a Happy Place?
I don’t know if I can find a place that let’s me feed Scrapples a healthy diet and regulate his by-product production.  I did find this post on some different options (Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, MySpace,Bebo, Habbo,Tagged, Tumblr,Four Square, Diaspora, Path, Zurker and Harnu).  I had another link, but I need to track it down again: it also included previous sites all the way brack to Friendster. Ah here is that link! I don’t know which of these networks caters to what I am looking for at the moment, or if any of them do; however, when I do land somewhere, I will let everyone know.  I can’t stay disconnected forever (darn)!

Comcast: Journey Through a Beautifully Broken Business Model

I am sitting here, having a cup of coffee and gearing up to 1) exercise (bleh) and 2) finish this project I have been working on for about a week. So how many people have Comcast? This is my first time doing business with them and it has truly been a trying experience.

How was it “trying”? So glad you asked! Well it is a beautifully broken business model, because everyone I spoke to was so respectful and nice, but the two things I couldn’t do effectively were: establish service and have them bill me accurately.  That sounds like a major glitch in a business system.

Establishing service was a nightmare because of a couple factors.  First, they try to route your call based on your phone number.  I have a Colorado phone number, but I live in Virginia. Yeah, you can imagine how well that went.  I got transferred to Colorado, and their interview process assumes you are there until about 5min in, and then they say, “Oh, you are not in Colorado?”  Magically, I was then transferred to Massachusetts? Yeah, then a couple minutes later, I was transferred to Virginia.  Then after completing the whole process I was told there was someone with service already and I would have to take a copy of my lease to a customer service location and get them to set up the account.  That was a fine use of 45 minutes.

You think this is over? No that was the first of several calls – getting transferred, getting put on hold 3-4 times for over 5min each time, getting different answers from different people.  Finally after a grand total of about 2-3 hours on the phone and some people saying they could fix the problem, ultimately they could not.  The coolest part was when I tried to circumvent the Colorado routing – I put in 703-555-1212.  Guess what? I was directed to the billing information for that phone number.

So the light-bulb went on: I could call FiOS. They won’t care if some already has service and didn’t put in a disconnect notice.  So I went to shop for FiOS and laughed when I realized it would be significantly more money for the same speed.  I just didn’t have the budget for that.

The day I moved into the new place, I figured, surely I can get service now.  It took about 45 minutes on the phone, I was told I needed to pay $50 up front, I was told I could have a technician come out at no charge to hook up the cable since I was willing to pick up the modem myself and complete a self installation. The technician never showed up for the appointment, Comcast had no record of the appointment, but they later billed me for the appointment. And that $50 they forced me to pay? Yeah, they charged $5.99 for the opportunity to force me to pay.

Not only did I pick up my own modem, I had to go buy my own coax cable since their tech never showed up and that was the last piece of the puzzle I needed. Ridiculous. And when I called, they agreed to refund the fee for the installation, but the refused to give me back my $5.99.  When I asked for an escalation path, the CSR said his supervisor already told him no so I couldn’t ask him again.  I was then told there was no other escalation path.

Sure there is! I call it a blog with a “publish” button, and then I call it a URL that gets sent to Comcast’s corporate headquarters.  Maybe then I will get my $5.99 back.

Again, what makes it beautiful was the respect with which I was treated.  I’ll never forget the CSR that told me there was no service call scheduled – she said “sorry, I can’t send anyone out unless you want to schedule another appointment” and then, after not being able to help me at all, she closed with “Thank you for calling Comcast, home of the 100% customer satisfaction guarantee!”  Really? #$%^& REALLY?

Epic Fail, Comcast.