Written by Nick Heer.

Archive for April 30th, 2013

Consumer Reports: “Water is Wet”

Apple’s in-house technical support service, the Genius Bar, rated as high as support provided by phone or online. Whatever way readers asked for tech help—by phone (the most common way), online, or in person—Apple was also able to solve more computer problems. Independent shops that make custom computers came closest to Apple.

No kidding. According to Consumer Reports, Apple makes “the worst” of the top smartphones, but at least they have good customer service.

Genuine question: where does one take a Nexus, or a Samsung, or an LG for service? Best Buy? Your cell carrier? The list seems to be filled with companies that are annually ranked as some of the worst in terms of customer service.

What a Stupid Idea

Jon Bell, on his “McDonald’s Theory”:

The next time you have an idea rolling around in your head, find the courage to quiet your inner critic just long enough to get a piece of paper and a pen, then just start sketching it. “But I don’t have a long time for this!” you might think. Or “the idea is probably stupid”, or “Maybe I’ll go online and click around for-”

No. Shut up. Stop sabotaging yourself.

Dustin Curtis, on a similar theme:

The future is extremely hard to see through the lens of the present. It’s very easy to unconsciously dismiss the first versions of something as frivolous or useless. Or as stupid ideas.

Both are excellent articles centred around early drafts. Bell’s tackles the internal perception of an idea, and the difficulty in making that a reality. Curtis covers others’ initial derision to unique ideas.

I recently had experience with both of these facets. A few months ago, I began work on a sculpture which polled Twitter in real time, looking for tweets containing phrases of a confessional nature. It would then print a tweet every thirty seconds using a receipt printer, which would be hung well above the gallery floor to create a cascade of others’ anonymized confessions.

I didn’t know where to begin this piece. Initially, this was going to output to a display because it would be easier, but I knew that it was a cop-out. Finding a receipt printer was massively difficult, too: receipt printers are designed to have bulletproof reliability, so they’re around $300, and most still use a parallel port. Throughout the development process, half the people I told this idea to wrote it off, or were uninterested. Even hanging it in the gallery was more difficult than it needed to be.

Everything seemed to conspire against this project, but I eventually finished it. “Confessional” was done.

Confessional

When the gallery held the reception for this group show, this piece was widely admired. Crowds gathered around the bottom to read out old tweets from the pile that built up. It satisfying and thrilling to see my stupid idea become a fairly respectable reality. That’s the reward I received for sticking with something I knew to be worth the effort. I highly recommend the resulting feeling.

“Tablets Are Not a Good Business Model”

BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins, in an interview with Bloomberg:

“In five years I don’t think there’ll be a reason to have a tablet anymore,” Heins said in an interview yesterday at the Milken Institute conference in Los Angeles. “Maybe a big screen in your workspace, but not a tablet as such. Tablets themselves are not a good business model.”

I think there’s another company named after a fruit that would disagree with you, Mr. Heins. Maybe your PlayBook didn’t sell because it was terrible.

Path Texts My Entire Phonebook at 6:00 AM

Stephen Kenwright:

When I was asked about inviting people to Path as I installed the app I said no, and without entering much in the way of personal information Path decided to text my entire phone book for me the day AFTER I uninstalled it from my Android.

Maybe that’s the real reason Path CEO Dave Morin doesn’t have a ringtone.

Update: Path told The Verge that it’s a feature:

By default, Path assumes you want to send a message to all your Facebook friends, displaying a list with every name checked. The user must then tap “unselect all,” or Path will text a signup link to every friend. This configuration has been in place since Path’s last release on March 6th.

Between this, the location data controversy, and the infamous automatic address book uploading, Path has a solid track record of user-hostile behaviour.