Archive for June 2011


A minor McAfee bug report continues to bug, while (breaking news) Google acts professionally

28.06.2011

I have to hand it to McAfee for their courtesy and even their tenacity, but phone calls at weekends (and then failing to call at rescheduled times) are getting ridiculous.
   When I file a bug report, I like an acknowledgement that things are being worked on, and that’s great.
   But considering I’ve spent over an hour doing this for McAfee over a really tiny issue, you’d think they’d have enough information.
   Oh, no:

Thank you for contacting McAfee Consumer Online Support.
   We have been trying to contact you on [phone number], however we were unable to reach you. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused.
   We have received few suggestions from next support level, which we would like to perform in the computer. We would like to contact you at a time that is convenient for you. Please respond to this email letting us know if and when we may call you tomorrow (29th June, 2011). Also provide us any alternate telephone number.

My response:

As I have mentioned on numerous occasions prior, this was merely a bug report. I really don’t see why you need to do anything on my computer.
   Most software companies allow users to file bugs so they can update their successive versions. The bug does not affect the operation of your program: it is an æsthetic issue. However, it is one that I would have thought McAfee would like to remedy in future.

   And, surprise, surprise, good news from Google.
   I wrote to Chang Kim, who appears to have succeeded Rick Klau as product manager of Blogger. I’ve asked him about the ongoing issue with Google Dashboard reporting that I have one blog with them, when I know I have none. Are they holding on my data, in contravention of their terms and conditions?
   Like Rick, Chang’s responded immediately. He’s checked out my record and found nothing there, though he has cced one of his colleagues to see if he can assist further.
   We haven’t remedied it, but I have this question: why are the Blogger product managers so proficient, courteous and professional, while other parts of Google, and at least one volunteer on the forums, work on the “biggest dickhead” theory?
   It’s guys like Rick and Chang that make you wish more Googlers were like them.

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Posted in business, culture, internet, technology, USA | 3 Comments »


A much more famous blogger found her Blogspot deleted

26.06.2011

I didn’t know the politics of Prof Ann Althouse before tonight, but I see her blog, which is far more widely read than mine—with readership into the eight figures—also got pulled by Google-owned Blogger recently. Her experiences mirrored mine, except she had some of her readers join in the forum, which, admittedly, didn’t help things too much. Still, there was plenty of snark, interestingly, from the same forum bloke that I encountered. It was back within days, so it was easier than the six-month fight I had to get Vincent Wright’s Social Media Consortium restored.
   You can have a read of her experience here, while conservative blogger Patterico has some interesting comments when he reported the matter. Readers there, and those who commented on my case, have similar thoughts.
   Prof Althouse had it easy. And even though I dealt with Google over six months, the company took nine months to sort out this lawyer’s blog. Wonder whatever became of this lady’s blog, detailed in this thread.
   Of course, telephone-number readers are nothing like a single Reuter blog post.
   Moral of the story: avoid Blogger like the plague, unless you personally know Felix Salmon at Reuter. (And here is the opposite argument, out of fairness. The comments, for and against, must be considered for anyone wishing to start a blog.)

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Posted in business, internet, media, politics, USA | 3 Comments »


Progress at TelstraClear; not sure if you could call it that at McAfee

20.06.2011

While I still can’t get into TelstraClear’s support site, one tech has been responding to my feedback-form messages and following up—so I don’t have the difficulty of the telephone, where I have to start from scratch with people there.
   And, because Daniel Borgshammar at TelstraClear is a intelligent guy, he’s managed to get to the root of the problem: an out-of-house system, which has its own techs. He’s contacted them to get the low-down on what is locking me out.
   Thank goodness for continuity, because I seem to be often unique in discovering problems—whether it’s Google Earth failing to place the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC, or Google Ads Preferences Manager lying to consumers, or Google not having terms and conditions or a privacy policy for Buzz. Funny, they’re all about Google. Hmm.
   And remember how I had spent nearly an hour with McAfee just to file a bug report? It’s now up to tier 2, and I’ve now been called to follow up on a bug report. And it’s such a doggone tiny bug, too. Can’t they just take it at face value and build it into their next update? Does it have to involve another 20-minute phone call? I’m grateful they’re being so courteous, but do they need me to hold their hand at every turn on this? It’s a bug report.

Speaking of Google:

Google Buzz

Google Buzz

I have been through this many times before. So sick of it recurring—especially as I do not have a visible Google profile, in which case gaining Buzz followers is, according to the company, impossible. Evidently it is not impossible.

Google Reader

Google Reader

   The above is also impossible, if memory serves me correctly. I do not use Google Reader and have nothing in there, yet Google claims I have five items. I’ve also gained a follower, but how could I, if I do not have a Google profile that enables me to be found for Google services?
   Now I see I have gained a contact on a service I do not even use:

Google Contacts

Google Contacts

   Unfortunately, there are client and Medinge things stuck to my Google account, all started at a time when Google was not so callous about privacy and didn’t do so much evil. Otherwise, I’d be out of there.

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Posted in business, culture, internet, New Zealand, technology, USA | No Comments »


Privacy Commissioner agrees with my 2009 thoughts: New Zealand Post breached your privacy

20.06.2011

A Fairfax Press headline today: ‘“Large-scale breach” of privacy rules by NZ Post’. The Privacy Commissioner has found New Zealand Post breached privacy rules in a promotion in July 2009, which I thought would have been a juicy story back then.
   The reporters write:

The 2009 survey asked participants 57 multi-choice questions, ranging from their names, addresses, preferred petrol station and favourite magazine to their mortgage rate, credit card limit and partner’s income.
   It also offered participants the chance to win cash, home entertainment and travel vouchers worth thousands of dollars if they completed the survey.
   Once collected, the names and addressees of participants were rented out to “trusted, contracted commercial partners”, both in New Zealand and overseas.

   I thought all this sounded very familiar, so I went back on to this blog to discover this post. I wasn’t alone in thinking that the survey was extremely dodgy, as there was a comment in agreement, and the Fairfax report indicates that numerous Kiwis went to the New Zealand Post blog to complain. (Unfortunately, with the demise of Vox, the image on my page has been permanently deleted.)
   I wrote at the time:

Essentially, this is a form requesting your details so you can be added to spam lists.
   Ironical that in a country with anti-spam legislation, another government department is prepared to sell our personal information to spammers (including foreign spammers which our law enforcement agencies cannot pursue readily), and believes one’s identity is only worth a maximum of $15,000.

   The pertinent clause, printed in 7 pt type, was this:

By undertaking the New Zealand Post survey, your and your partner’s name, address and other information you supply (including your email and telephone numbers if you tick the boxes below), may be provided to companies and other organisations from New Zealand and overseas to enable them to provide you and/or your partner, with information about products and services relevant to your responses to this survey. New Zealand Post may also use this information for the same purpose.

On the back was 5 pt type, saying New Zealand Post disclaims liability for:

any claims, losses, damages, injuries, costs and expenses suffered or sustained or incurred (including but not limited to indirect or consequential loss), arising out of or in any way connected with the competition and/or its prizes except for liability that cannot be excluded by law

   I concluded then: ‘it can’t really be found guilty of passing on information that a consumer submits voluntarily, and based on this term it won’t be found guilty of contributing to the spam problem that we are all trying to fight.’ I advised that the promotion should be reported to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and the Consumers’ Institute—and if I was on form then, I would have done so myself.
   A professor quoted by Fairfax for its story today concluded, ‘the survey appeared to have breached “each of the four information privacy principles that relate to the collection of personal information”.’
   A lecturer said, in the words of the journalists, ‘the survey’s collection of personal information were unfair in terms of the market research code of practice and industry standards.’
   I’m glad to know the Privacy Commissioner was on to it enough to investigate New Zealand Post. But as my friends in Dunedin are finding over its actions to save the Dunedin Metro branch of Post, this government department is led by some very arrogant types who think they are above everyday New Zealanders. To ‘utterly rebut every conclusion’ indicates that Post believes it exists in a dream-land: it was as clear in 2009, as it is today, that it had messed up. Issuing such impassioned, exaggerated statements indicates that it is yet another outfit that has got too comfortable for its own good, like some others in this city that I can name.

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Posted in business, culture, marketing, media, New Zealand, politics, Wellington | No Comments »


A whinge about whinging

19.06.2011

I’ve seen this lament on a few more places now: why bother having a comment box?
   We’ve just had someone tell us at Lucire that there is no such person as Princess Catherine. Well done. We all know that technically there is no such person, if one is referring to the wife of Prince William, but was it worth a comment, when common usage overrides the technical aspects of heraldry for publications like ours? (How often did anyone see the Queen Mother referred to as the Princess Albert?) Am I meant to be impressed that someone possesses everyday knowledge, were we expected to succumb to the whinge, or does this simply highlight the writer’s intolerance?
   If in communicating, you create a problem, then you haven’t properly communicated. And in the communication business, Princess William could create a problem.
   Was the writer not alive when the European media insisted upon Lady Di right up until her death, or, for that matter, unaware that Princess Di and Princess Diana became the everyday convention, even though both were technically incorrect? Or did (s)he approach every medium to inform them of Princess Charles?
   A fellow New Zealander ignored the point of one post on this blog to tell me that it’s not Reuter, but Reuters. Funny, considering he and I are roughly the same age, and would have grown up in an age when ‘NZPA/Reuter’ was commonly in our newspapers (and in those days when people read daily dead trees, the form Reuter became conventional in New Zealand). Reuters, as we know it today, long after it formalized its company name, still made products such as Reuter Textline into the 1990s—and given that this person is also in the media, you’d expect he’d know. (Even the Reuter Textline terminals said they were Reuter Textline.)
   The appending of the s to establishments has frequently been a bugbear. Not enough to write to people about (unless one is the Apostrophe Protection Society), but the disappearance of the apostrophe in Harrod’s, Selfridge’s and Debenham’s, and the confusion of the shops that were branded Woolworth in some countries and Woolworths in others, surely would lead to a 2011 where any form is acceptable depending on the experiences of the writer and personal preference. The exception to this, of course, would be a direct citation about the company itself, where presumably one would follow whatever was on the Companies’ Register, in which case the information service would be Thomson Reuters Corp.
   I used to think I was a bit of a smart-arse, but I don’t go around American blogs telling them they misspelled defence (though Americans have quite publicly complained to me in their role as self-appointed guardians of the language), telling people that Prince Harry does not exist, or write to the Financial Times on the continued misuse of the word billion. (Note: milliardaire is very hard to say.)
   I have pet peeves, but I deal with them in my own little world and in my own publications. I make fun of some mistakes out of humour (Font Police surely is evidence), and I will get on my high horse about house styles and spelling when either happens to be the topic. If I’m responding to an article or a blog post, then isn’t it more productive, in furthering knowledge, to address the point, presume reasonable intelligence on the other party’s behalf (till proved otherwise), and not get stuck on minutiæ? Errare est humanum, after all, and no, I never studied Latin.

Incidentally, checking our visitor stats, Princess Catherine is the most searched-for way to refer to the former Kate Middleton after April 29; Duchess of Cambridge is second; and no one to date has searched for Princess William among the 1·1 million monthly pageviews, just as no one searched for Princess Charles to get to stories on our websites in the 1990s. So call all of us common. As long as do not refer to the Queen and Prince Philip as ‘Their Majesties’, which the 43rd American president did, I think we should be given a pass.

BMW 650i Cabriolet launch

Over this last week, the Lucire-mobile has been the BMW 650i Cabriolet, a car I had the honour of seeing at the same time as four press colleagues at its New Zealand launch in March. (LaQuisha Redfern has asked me to note that there is sufficient headroom for 6 ft 5 in drag queens.) Cabriolets do turn heads, even in winter, and I thank whomever it was for writing a note that made me smile and leaving it under a windscreen wiper: ‘Nice ride, Jack.’
   The car buff question here is: would I have received the same note in the previous-generation 6-series?

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Posted in branding, business, cars, culture, humour, internet, marketing, media, New Zealand, publishing, UK, USA | 3 Comments »


Fifty minutes to file a bug report at McAfee

16.06.2011

Being a helpful netizen costs too much sometimes.
   I found a very tiny bug in McAfee’s latest version. In Eudora, instead of ‘McAfee Anti-Spam’ in the menu bar, the latest update has caused those words to read ‘%COMPANY_NAME_NEUTRAL%Anti-Spam’.
   To be a helpful netizen filing a bug report (and I am used to that taking two minutes all up), here’s the process I followed today.

11.30 a.m. GMT: Search for McAfee Support in Duck Duck Go.
11.30: Arrive at http://www.mcafee.com/us/support.aspx.
11.33: Unable to log in, despite being a McAfee customer.
11.35: Unable to create a new account, because it has asked for a ‘Grant number’. All the guys called Grant that I know are asleep.
11.35: Go to the ‘Contact Us’ page to give feedback and find a link to service.mcafee.com. I click on that.
11.36: I select the affected product. McAfee offers me the choice of ‘Free Technical Support’.
11.36: McAfee insists I download and run the McAfee Virtual Technician. I do.
11.48: McAfee Virtual Technician has completed its scan and claims all is well.
11.49: I am taken to the FAQs where I have to search for my error.
11.50: After finding that none of them fit the bill, McAfee presents two options: ‘Click the Continue button to go to Chat, or Finish to close this session.’ I select the former, as the matter is not concluded.
11.52: McAfee prompts me to enter my country and language.
11.52: McAfee gives me the options of chatting or emailing. I chose the former as it says the wait time is 2 minutes, versus 24 hours, plus the 11.50 a.m. prompt said the option was to ‘Chat’. I enter the bug report into the comment box, and expected a tech would get back to me within two minutes to confirm receipt.

Below is the transcript of the next 20 minutes, with one edit made for privacy reasons.

GoToAssist (11:54:29):
Thank you for contacting McAfee Consumer Support. An agent will be with you shortly.

Customer (11:55:11):
Hi there: I don’t actually need to be walked through anything. I wanted to make sure you got the bug report I just filed. The only button available after writing my report was ‘Chat’, so I pressed it.

Sangeetha (11:55:45):
Jack, thank you for contacting McAfee Online Support Center. My name is Sangeetha.

Customer (11:55:55):
Hello Sangeetha.

Sangeetha (11:56:23):
Your Service Request Number for this chat session is 700641817.
Sangeetha (11:56:33):
Is this your first contact with McAfee Technical support in this week, including today?

Customer (11:56:42):
Yes. I wonder if you received my bug report just now.

Sangeetha (11:57:07):
McAfee will communicate with you through the email … please confirm if this email address is valid.

Customer (11:57:16):
It is correct, thank you.

Sangeetha (11:57:33):
Thank you for confirming.

Customer (11:58:07):
Is there anything else you need from me to complete the report?

Sangeetha (11:58:10):
As I understand, you have sent the bug report and it prompted to chat?

Customer (11:58:25):
Yes, that is correct. I just want to make sure the report arrived there.

Sangeetha (11:58:30):
Thank you for confirming.
Sangeetha (11:58:38):
I apologize for the inconvenience caused. I will be glad to assist you with this issue.
Sangeetha (11:59:02):
May I know when you got the bug report?

Customer (11:59:19):
I sent it immediately before this chat session.
Customer (11:59:34):
I imagine that was 11.50 GMT.

Sangeetha (11:59:50):
When did you get the bug report?

Customer (12:00:06):
No, I didn’t get a bug report. I sent one.

Sangeetha (12:00:29):
Why did you send the bug report?

Customer (12:00:50):
To be helpful to McAfee so it could remedy it for its next update.

Sangeetha (12:01:44):
Did it prompt you to send the bug report while updating McAfee?

Customer (12:02:19):
No. I found a bug in McAfee. I then went to your website to tell your company about it. I simply want to make sure you received it.

Sangeetha (12:02:45):
May I know if you are using the same computer to chat with me?

Customer (12:02:50):
Yes, I am.

Sangeetha (12:03:00):
Okay, I would like to obtain system information from your computer. Please accept my request and grant me access to this.

Customer (12:03:12):
Sangeetha, I am not sure why you need to do this.

Sangeetha (12:03:34):
I just to check your system information.

Customer (12:04:00):
I think we have to stop there. I do not believe this is relevant to whether or not your company received a message from me.

Sangeetha (12:05:52):
You might have sent it to McAfee engineering team.

Customer (12:06:46):
I may have. I used your website and entered in the issue at: https://service.mcafee.com/UserInfo.aspx?lc=1033&sg=TS&pt=1&st=CHAT
Customer (12:07:11):
It is the only place where I could enter anything to report a bug, after the FAQs revealed nothing.

Sangeetha (12:08:53):
I would request you to send the report through email instead of chat by logging in to the same website.

Customer (12:09:31):
What is the correct email address?

Sangeetha (12:12:01):
There is no particular email address. likewise you did the chat.

Customer (12:12:14):
OK, how do I send this email to you in that case?
Customer (12:12:25):
Is there a web link that takes me to an email form?

Sangeetha (12:12:52):
Instead of chat you can select email option.

Customer (12:14:43):
I will look for it now.

Sangeetha (12:14:59):
Is there anything else that I can do to assist you with your McAfee products today?
Sangeetha (12:15:24):
You can contact us back if any issues further.

Customer (12:16:00):
Thank you, Sangeetha. Have a nice afternoon.

Sangeetha (12:16:32):
You may receive an email survey asking for your comments on this chat experience. Your feedback will help to ensure that I’m providing the highest quality service possible.
Sangeetha (12:16:38):
For all of your Customer Service and Technical Support needs, please visit http://service.mcafee.com Thank you for visiting McAfee Online Support Center. Have a great time.
Sangeetha (12:16:44):
Thank you for choosing McAfee. We appreciate your business and your feedback. Have a great time.
Sangeetha (12:16:53):
Good bye…..

Customer (12:17:19):
Good bye.

   I found the email link, and maybe I should have opted for that to begin with. I can’t fault Sangeetha for being polite and helpful—it has come a long way since the beginning of the century, when McAfee had pretty rude forum techs—but surely it can’t be too hard to give us an easy-to-find bug report form that would take a minute to fill in? All this nonsense with grant numbers, downloads and Virtual Technicians (which, I might add, does work quite well when there is a set-up cock-up) makes little sense, especially as all software has bugs and there should be room to report them.
   I want my 50 minutes back.

PS.: The email response has come from Nagaraj. Sounds he has exactly the same script as his colleague. Here we go again. What is the bloody point?—JY

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Posted in business, India, internet, technology, USA | 2 Comments »


Tumblr says: death to Pokémon haters

16.06.2011

There was an interesting graphic on Tumblr today:

which is an opinion. I don’t see anything wrong with it. I do not care for Pokémon, but it’s not as though it’s a reality TV show with whining contestants, the Wellywood sign, or Arial. Still, it’s not the end of the world.
   The abuse that this got was amazing. At the time of writing, there were 236 notes, including many wishing death on the creator of the graphic, accusing them of having a childhood in which they must have been abused, or simply telling them to go forth and multiply.
   Recently, I made this one, which wasn’t as unpopular, but I was surprised at the reaction:

The point: computers are tools, don’t get stuck with established thought, and use what you want.
   That’s not how Tumblr users took it. There were philosophical teenagers either saying accusing me of showing off how I use ‘the internet’ differently (how Word or Arial qualify as ‘the internet’ I am not sure) or philosophizing that the better known names were market leaders precisely because they are so good.
   The philosopher was the interesting one, given that he may be too young to have ever tried WordPerfect or Quattro Pro, while I don’t know of a single typographer or graphic designer who prefers Arial over Helvetica.
   It’s one thing to criticize from a place of knowledge, quite another to assume you know all the facts at 17. Heck, I’m more than twice that and I still don’t think I know it all. If a Linux user tells me that his OS is quick and efficient, I’m inclined to believe him (Jaklumen comes to mind), because he obviously knows something I don’t. I haven’t used Linux lately, and I’m not going to shoot down someone who has demonstrated that he’s an intelligent and courteous individual.
   The internet, ladies and gentlemen, has continued down much the same path we had before. And those of us who thought today’s teenagers might do a better job than we did are misled.
   Just as any other era, there’ll be some amazing kids who’ll come to the surface and be true leaders. They will be more internationally minded, because they have come into a world where global connectedness is a reality, not a dream. Hopefully they will be better able to reverse the growing rich–poor gap because, by the time of their adulthoods, they will either be aware of better tools or the gap will be that much more severe.
   But, there’ll also be the masses for whom being loudmouthed and opinionated is standard behaviour, just as there was in every generation before. The difference is that more people have a voice.
   Maybe this is yet another reason for Facebook’s fall: those sick of not only privacy invasions, but seeing behaviour they don’t particularly like take place on their own walls. It seldom happens to me—wall privileges are not granted lightly in my case—but the majority of people have their Facebooks wide open, not distinguishing between groups of friends.
   The sort of trolling that YouTube is infamous for is, in fact, everywhere, and I recall having a moan about this four years ago on this same blog.
   In the 1990s, when businesses first flocked to the ’net, many of us were people impressed by the telex or BBSs, and loved the idea of doing international business more efficiently. But by the turn of the century, certain people who were not schooled enough to get their poorly argued opinions publicized had the tools at their disposal.
   I don’t begrudge this, because the freedom of speech is a great thing, and if it allows us to have an accurate snapshot of where society can pick itself up, then all the better.
   If the best writers and thinkers get more followers, it could well inspire those who aren’t as well regarded to pick up our game.
   For those willing to give reasons for their disappointment about an issue, it allows those who oppose that viewpoint to get to the heart of a problem and resolve it.
   Though we’ll continue to need a strong stomach or reasonable general knowledge to look at some of the stuff on the web, where caveat lector will be increasingly the rule on free-for-all websites:

Funny, but also sad.

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Posted in culture, internet, technology | 4 Comments »


And now, another website that locks me out: TelstraClear

16.06.2011

TelstraClear

Apologies to Daniel at TelstraClear for getting the full story detailed below, but if I don’t recount it, I’m going to continue getting the brick wall there.
   Essentially, the following email says, ‘Dear TelstraClear: please let me update my own tickets.’
   Right now, and certainly since January, the company won’t let me.
   Unfortunately, despite repeated phone calls and emails about this, I’m keep getting stuck at tier 1. Telstra “upgraded” me to tier 2 support on this issue after an hour-long call on Wednesday, but all I got back was a message on my answerphone saying, ‘We tried it, it works.’
   Um, no, it doesn’t.
   When I called back to tell the technician he was wrong, I got stuck with a tier 1 support staffer who wouldn’t even qualify for organ donation. He heard only what he wanted to hear and ignored the ‘We did this two hours ago’ protestation—only to arrive at the conclusion, after another hour, that it had to be upgraded to tier 2. We did this two hours ago.
   I have not heard a whisper since that call—just like in January when I first reported the issue with TelstraClear’s faulty support site. So I’ve resorted back to TelstraClear’s email form.
   Unlike January 16, the custhelp.com site believes I have an account with them—though it’s evidently not one that can be accessed.
   So for the last few days, it’s been, ‘Yes it works,’ ‘No it doesn’t,’ with TelstraClear.
   Not good enough, because, like all bugs, I am usually right and the experts are usually wrong.
   This is not the first time. In 2000–1, it took nearly two years of complaints to get TelstraSaturn, as it was then, to acknowledge that it was the wind causing internet outages here. That time, too, the drones answering the phone did their best to prevent the matter from going to technicians higher up. Eventually, a technician drove down from Palmerston North, looked at the cable, and said, ‘The wind’s causing your internet outages.’ He then called another technician.
   Here’s the latest email which exposes some of the crap I’ve gone through—and this is just trying to log in! We haven’t even got to the original matter that I complained about, which TelstraClear has already admitted is their fault (and that’s got to tier 3).
   Will this take two years again? It feels just like the Vox issue of 2009.

Hej Daniel:

I appreciate your getting back to me, but as advised in my many earlier messages and my last two phone calls, the username and password given do not work on your custhelp.com site. I cannot respond to any TelstraClear ticket.
   This is the same username and password combination given to me over the phone, although I note that TelstraClear has given me a variety of different ones since January 2011. I was given three different ones on January 14 and 15 alone.
   Even if I were to log in at the URL you gave, it does not help with support. The password only works for the basic Customer Zone, which is not where I have an issue. Once I go to the support section (Customer Zone > Service Information > Online Help > Still Need Help) or click on the ‘To access your question from our support site, click here’ in your emails, I am confronted with a new log-in page.
   At every turn, and regardless of which password or username I use, your site returns, ‘The username or password that you entered is incorrect or your account has been disabled.’
   According to your colleague Karen Hardie on January 15, the Customer Zone and custhelp.com are two separate sites governed by different log-ins and passwords. It was never resolved then and remains the issue you see now.
   Interestingly, TelstraClear staff have given me conflicting advice on the case sensitivity over the last half-year. I’ve also had TelstraClear staff call here and say, ‘I’ve tried it, it all works,’ though I fail to see how that is possible.
   This all began because I am simply trying to update a ticket.

Kind regards,

Jack

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Posted in business, internet, New Zealand, technology | No Comments »


The land beyond Facebook

14.06.2011

Stowe Boyd wrote (and I re-Tumbled) the big drop in US and Canadian Facebook traffic this week:

Most prominently, the United States lost nearly 6 million users, falling from 155.2 million at the start of May to 149.4 million at the end of it. This is the first time the country has lost users in the past year. Canada also fell significantly, by 1.52 million down to 16.6 million, although it has been fluctuating around that number for the past year. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom, Norway and Russia all posted losses of more than 100,000.

Stowe’s a lot more philosophical than me and puts this down to:

The moral of this story is that you can make a business out of simplifying what is chaotic and confusing, but only at the outset. As people become habituated to what at first was scary and headache-inducing, they will move away from controlled experience to more personally managed negotiation of the world.

   I don’t think anyone will lose money betting against Facebook’s rise, since history has told us that no enterprise lasts forever. The question is only when. While Stowe makes the comparison with AOL, those of us outside the US can’t make the same connection. However, I have always drawn the comparison with Altavista, which, 12 years ago, was the number-one website in the world. Even we played a tiny part, licensing Lucire content to the Altavista Entertainment Zone.
   The organizational point he makes is an excellent one, but I have always felt that Facebook would decline somewhere along the line due to its callous approach to privacy and its lack of transparency. Of course, we see things through our own constructs, and my bag has been about how modern brands are built through transparency and connecting to audiences. Stop doing that, and audiences might get tired.
   So we come to the fatigue that sets in with consumers. It’s the only explanation I have for Quora, which experienced that wave of sign-ups in January. It reached the tipping point, but, honestly, have any of you who sent me an invitation a few months back returned? I haven’t, because I can’t see a point to it.
   People flocked to it in case it was the next big thing, where their friends would ultimately wind up. We have a need to socialize as people, and if they are leaving Facebook in droves—and six million Americans qualify as droves—then where are they going?
   Facebook has become a great place to campaign—as I found last year—but it is getting either more commercial or cause-oriented. My Facebook feed, for more than the last year, has been filled with the stuff that was once on Digg; and the most time I have spent on Facebook this year was over that blasted Wellywood sign, cataloguing the flip-flops of Wellington Airport’s “leadership”.
   As a social tool, I wonder. Many years ago, I had my laptop open on my desk, solely on Facebook, while I worked away on my desktop machine. We have become used to it, we realize our networks are largely the same as they were pre-Facebook, and we might as well keep things off the site since we get concerned about privacy. With the change to the Facebook groups, we’ve been losing people—my old school group is in the one hundreds because I chose to start a new one for fear of Facebook deleting the old; the others were set to spam by default by Facebook, and lost more. Facebook itself is driving users away.
   My last few social events were all organized on that wonderful medium called email, so for social things, it seems old-tech is the way to go.

Speaking of old-tech, the New Zealand Government says terrestrial TV will disappear from the lower North Island (te Ika a Maui still sounds better) on September 29, 2013. I found myself thinking, ‘Who cares?’
   I am not on Freeview, and I do not have Sky. I can’t get one of the network on-demand services due to their antiquated geo-targeting (I forget which, since I have little reason to use it). I estimate I consume seven hours’ television programming a month—as a kid I would have managed that in two days. That means I listen to the wireless a lot more than I watch TV, something I have in common with a gentleman I know in his 70s. Keep trending these figures and by 2013 TV mightn’t even merit a mention on this blog.
   Even if a Freeview box drops further in price, I would have to question why on earth I should spend money on something I do not use. I was, after all, one of those idiots who paid to have a 750 Mbyte Zip drive installed on a PC in 2002. In the words of President Bush (43), ‘Fool me—you can’t get fooled again.’
   When I Tweeted that I did not care about the demise of TV, I had a number of people, on Twitter and Facebook, tell me they were in the same boat. Television, it seems, is a thing of the past. It should be little surprise, for the television networks themselves have been complicit in killing it, with increasingly poorer programming. If only the broadband internet here was not stuck in the early 2000s.

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Archæological evidence that QuickDraw GX existed

09.06.2011


Here’s a glyph inside JY Integrity that never got used beyond the original publicity in the mid-1990s.
   Before there was OpenType, there was QuickDraw GX, and I was part of the consortium trying to sort out the character set, along with Allan Haley and others. We were using this newfangled collaboration tool called the internet. Cheekily, I did a gx glyph so we could tout the Integrity family as GX-compatible. It was in the original brochures in 1993 or thereabouts.
   As history tells us, QuickDraw GX never took off, but the glyph is still inside the font family. Just for fun, we’ve kept it in the Pro version of the fonts, out later this year. It’s not linked to any alternative sets in OpenType, but it is accessible as part of the character map.

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Posted in business, internet, New Zealand, typography, USA, Wellington | No Comments »