Am I Satisfied…Not Really, Sprint and Samsung

In November 2012, Google announced the Jelly Bean release of the Android mobile phone operating system. The end of March 2013, the push of Jelly Bean in the United States to Samsung and Sprint phones finally commenced.

The process of updating the phones involves downloading over 500 megabytes in a single file called “Simple Upgrade Tool. It takes hours to download on DSL but promises 15 minutes to install to your phone.

The 15 minutes is about right, but there are a whole series of steps to process as part of that 15 minutes, some of which involve taking the back off the phone and removing the battery and replacing it, unnerving to those who are not tech-savvy, and great warnings that this “flash” of the phone could destroy everything you hold dear, so add an hour or more to your time for backups and syncs of everything, redundant if you are paranoid like me.

Let me backtrack a little to show you how complicated this doesn’t have to be. I got the notice a few weeks ago that an upgrade was waiting for me. Unfortunately, I was sitting by the side of a dying friend and priorities don’t include racing to my desktop computer to download a huge file for hours, play with batteries, and USB cords. When I was ready, there were no buttons, no handy reminders, no one-click options for me to process the update. Instead, I had to do a search all over the web until I finally found a news report that led me to the download instructions, wasting more of my time as I had to find the update rather than have it awaiting me on my phone. The past two updates have been the same. This is really dumb customer service.

All so far has gone well and my phone is running through its final stages of the Android Update. Yet at the bottom of the instructional page I find this request.

Samsung and Spring - Tutorial Feedback - Did we do a good job with this document.

The request is “Did we do a good job with this document.” Well, that’s the real question.

What I read is “Did we make your life easier with this entire process?”

Yes, the document was easy to read, had big pictures, and stepped me through the process, and it matched the process for the most part that I experienced.

No, the process was not easy. Why did I have to download this huge file for hours, tying up the Internet and slowing everything down on my drip of a connection? Why did such a huge file be necessary for what took less than 15 minutes to install as an operating system on my computer? What do I do with this half gig space waster program? Uninstall it? There is no follow-through on this, Samsung. Now what?

Why couldn’t I have just woken up and found a note on my phone that said, “We adore you and want to reward you for your payment of our over-charging fees and control of a monopoly in your nation that restricts a free market for easy-to-use, affordable cell phones, by giving you the chance to push a single button to give your phone a face-lift, making it more user friendly, faster, and not so taxing on the battery or your brain.” Fifteen, or I would have given you thirty minutes, you would have had a customer not just rejoicing but praising you to the world via social media and on every street corner.

I think of those living on their phones, no laptop or desktop computer in sight. How did they handle the update?

American mobile companies be warned. We’ve taken your abuse lying down for a long time. We’ve been apathetic for far too long. One day, folks. One day we will get smarter and let our dollars do the talking for us, and you will appreciate my recommendation that you make us praise you not condemn you.

Am I satisfied? Absolutely not. Do better.

Godaddy Domains, Allow Us to Choose Private Registration or Not

Godaddy, and possibly other domain name companies, has added USD $20 or more to every domain name you buy or renew for your protection. This is crap.

The extra money goes to Domains by Proxy®, a “separate” company that provides private registration services to keep your name and contact information out of the WHOIS listing.

When you renew a domain today with Godaddy, you have no alternative to say no to private registration. Personally, I never choose it. I’m a public figure and have a reputation to uphold and my contact information on my domains is critical as I set an example for others. If you have an issue with my website, you contact me FIRST. That’s the right way to handle it, the professional way. I have never chosen to make any of my sites private, but when I renewed recently, private registration was forced upon me, with no option to remove it, adding twenty dollars to every renewed domain, adding up to an additional $100 or more to my order. That’s outrageous.

In several Godaddy forum posts, including this one on removing private registration, people are complaining that this is being added without their permission, action, and that it is a big bother to not make it easier for people to choose. Their response is:

Having a separate account for your private registration is an extra layer of security that is included with the Domains By Proxy service we offer. When private registration is added to a domain name, a domain hijacker would need to gain access to not one, but two accounts to move the domain name to a different registrar. You are welcome to use the account retrieval system at DomainsByProxy.com to gain access to your account so you can cancel the private registration.

To remove private registration forced upon you, do the following:

  1. Remove your order by emptying your cart at Godaddy.
  2. Go to Domains by Proxy® and try to login. As you have never set up your own account with them, you have to jump through some hoops to get logged in.
  3. Request a new login by entering the site you are trying to renew.
  4. Get the confirmation email with your customer number.
  5. Request a new password with your customer number.
  6. Once logged in, select the accounts associated with that domain and cancel your private registration.
  7. Go back to Godaddy and refresh the listing of your expired domains. It should now say Public Registration.
  8. Select the ones you wish to renew and you will find the $20 private registration fee now gone from your order.

You will have to do this with each individual domain name unfortunately. If there is an easier way, please let me know.

And while I’m bitching at Godaddy for this, honestly, you should not force this upon your users. It is rude, inconsiderate, and makes some sweeping assumptions about their needs.

Let us choose!

Amazon Instant Video Prime Nightmares

Dear Amazon:

I’ve ordered episodes and seasons of Stargate SG1, Stargate Atlantis, and Stargate Universe so many times in the past few months, it’s a wonder I don’t have the full collection. Ah, but I do. I own most of the Stargate series on VHS, DVD, and even BlueRay. That’s not the point. I wanted to watch them one after another as part of a nostalgic bent of mine lately, and I wanted to watch them as I was doing other things, so I started watching them on my phone and tablet.

Amazon Prime allows me to watch tons of shows and movies for free as a member, yet you still do not have a video watching app, and it can be tricky to set up your mobile device to watch the shows.

For those reading a home, to watch Amazon Prime Instant Videos on your phone or tablet, open your web browser and set it to Desktop Mode. Then prepare to spend too much time with Amazon Customer Support getting refunds for your accidental digital orders.

Amazon Instant Video Prime  - Poor Interface design allows purchases when pushing play buttons.

Call it “fat fingers” as Google recently did when they changed their Google Ad system to ask if you meant to click an ad instead of automatically billing the ad owner every time you accidentally clicked on an ad. Call it a slip of fingers. Call it poor UI. Whatever you want to call it, I’m sick of finding out that I bought an episode or the entire series when I did not mean to.

Come on, Amazon. The videos on Amazon Prime Instant Video are free. That’s part of our membership. Continue reading

The Hunt for Myst-like Games for Android Mobile Phones and Tablets

Myst game logoI’m not a fan of most computer games. I have had enough violence and racing in my life to not want to invite it in through games of violence, war, racing, chasing, or bashing in heads. Among my favorite computer games are Myst and its sequels, Exile, Riven, The Revelation, and Uru, created by Cyan Worlds.

Myst and its sequels are beautiful mind games, challenging the best in us through complex puzzles accompanied by phenomenal real-life graphics. My husband and I would play these together, discussing strategies and solving the problems over meals and long drives. We’d email or instant message chat back and forth things to try or experiment with to solve the puzzles. They took our minds other places while we were in places and dealing with things we didn’t want to deal with. Great distractions, but more than that – great mind teasers.

We’ve been searching for Myst replacements for years on our desktop computers without success. With the new drive in mobile games for cell phones and tablets, we felt confident that the need for Myst-like brain games would generate something. After several years of poking, we’ve found some possibilities. Unfortunately, most of these are more like pretty maze games rather than mind-benders.

I used to think there was a difference between a Myst-like problem-solving game and a simple hidden object adventure game. As the games improve their visual quality, the simple games of finding hidden objects to solve puzzles can become as interesting as Myst-problem-solving games that require a little more brain power. I’ve included some well-reviewed hidden object games in the list below accordingly.

Myst game - the swampTo be true to the concept of a Myst game, I believe the game should put you in the key role of the player, giving you a vested interest in solving the puzzles. There should be little interaction with other characters, just you and the environment, where the pieces of the puzzle tell more of the story than the characters could. The puzzles should make you think, fuss over, and experiment with before solving, but not be too simple nor too inane. You should shout with joy when you figure them out, not groan. This is where many of the new games miss the mark. I rarely have the overwhelming impulse to jump up and down and shout, “I did it!” Or do I experience the water-cooler effect praising the game long after finishing the play.

It’s sad because we need this form of escapism today more than ever. Continue reading

Don’t Be Scammed By SEO Scammers

On a daily basis my inbox is filled with SEO and web design scams and cons. A client just forwarded the following to me asking if I thought this was a legit company and whether or not they needed their services. I got the same one six times in the past three weeks. I’d like to rip into this one as an example to all on how NOT to take these things seriously.

I hope you’re doing well!

After looking through your site: , we found that neither it was making visitors attract towards your site and nor to your business/services.

If you are interested we want to increase the number of visitors to your website as it is important that you have a top position in search-engines.

Our search-engine-optimization experts will run a ranking report showing you exactly where your website currently stands in all the major search engines. Then we will email you our analysis report along with the recommendations of how we can increase your ranking, and improve your websites traffic dramatically.

We strictly work on performance basis and can assure you of getting quality links with a proper reporting format for your site as well.

We wish you the best of luck and looking forward to a long and healthy business relationship with you and your company.

Please do let me know if you have any questions.

Note the colon and comma without a site name in the second sentence. That’s a clue that this is a form letter, not personal, and worth dismissing or marking as spam immediately. I usually mark these as spam. I recommend you do the same to add these to the filters that keep this crap out of your inbox.

…we want to increase the number of visitors to your website as it is important that you have a top position in search-engines.

Sorry, the only way you can increase the number of visitors to my site in regards to search engines is to rewrite or write new content on my site. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve heard all the SEO games over the years and trust me, content works. This is my site, my content, and I don’t want you touching it. That’s my job.

I also don’t want to be in the top position on search engines. Think about this a moment. I want to be in the top for the things I want to be known for and the matching content I have on my site, but not necessarily at the very top. Others are wiser than I, so they deserve top ranking. If I write the answers they need to the questions they ask, they’ll find me, usually after a bit of digging, but they’ll find me if they need me. Continue reading

Keyboards Wear Out, So Does My Patience With Poor Quality Keyboards

In the July 2008 issue of Smart Computing Magazine, their Action Editor responds to an inquiry about the letters on a keyboard wearing off.

While we understand a scratch or dent on a product caused by a customer would constitute cosmetic damage, we’d call this situation something other than “cosmetic.” As a result, we contacted HP…

…[after offering a newer-model keyboard to the complaining customer] HP researched support calls for the reader’s original product and didn’t find other customers experiencing this issue, so the issue appears isolated.

As I scanned through old issues of the magazine and found this, I have to admit that I squealed my frustration. Since the earliest computer keyboards, I’ve been calling for deeper laser cut letter embedding instead of “stick on” or “paint on” letters and numbers on keyboard. I even spent a few months working with the Microsoft hardware group on testing and reviewing their new line of keyboards to ensure the letters and numbers stayed and weren’t worn off within a few months or less.

Microsoft Keyboard with the letters worn off - by Lorelle VanFosen

Unfortunately, my highly vocal complaints to the keyboard manufacturing community continue to go unheeded as I personally continue to wear out keyboards. Microsoft does have the only keyboard I’ve found that lasts the longest, Logitech the next longest in my information research.

I trained to type on a manual keyboard but quickly switched to an electric as soon as they gained popularity. Yes, I have a strong key strike, and yes, I have long nails, but the keyboard should should put up with any form of abuse for more than two or three months. Few do.

If your keyboard wears out sooner than you think is appropriate, please nag. Nag them to replace it. Nag them to make the letters and numbers last.

Too few people just get a new keyboard or stick on new keyboard number and letter stickers or use a permanent marker.

Complain. Complain loudly.

Unless you are heard, companies like HP are going to continue to think that worn out keyboard keys are isolated cases.

Samsung S2 Rebooting, Rebooting, Rebooting Nightmare

Now that the Tech Nag has a new smart phone, tablet, and more black snacks added to the electrical snake pit, she has even more to bitch and whine about.

The current bitch and whine is also a lesson in what not to do even if it will let you do it. You won’t get away with it.

After the rash of 10 cent apps on the Android Market, Tech Hubby and Nag got addicted to the constant hunt for new apps. Discovering new ways to get those cool apps faster, we installed Chomp, Best App Finder, Ondroid – Top apps chart, Best Apps Market, and My Daily Free Amazon App.

I did say addiction, right?

As you fill up your phone with a ton of apps, even if it’s got more RAM and SD Card space than your laptop, you want to play safe and move some of the space wasters from the phone’s storage to the SD card. The newest phones play well with this…to a point.
Continue reading