Sony's honoring of their warranty obligations is still a dismal display of corporate integrity. And it's not only a problem with European branch, either. Rob Wilson of Tennessee shares this story of unreasonable, over-priced shipping and refurbished returns:
I came across your article about Sony Customer support while I was searching the web for an address to complain to Sony. I have had almost the exact same experience with Sony, and it is unbelievable and unacceptable. I purchased a VAIO system and flat screen monitor last January. This week the monitor went out and now displays only a white screen.
Sony Customer service told me to hook up the monitor to another computer to make sure that it was the monitor and not the video card. I did this, and the monitor still did not work so I called them back and told them it was definitely the monitor. They agreed, and told me that for $25.00 they would send me someone else's refurbished monitor and that I should send them my defective monitor back.
My monitor is only 9 months old and supposedly still under Sony's warranty. I asked the customer support person why I should have to pay to return my defective monitor and they explained to me that the $25 charge was for postage.
The monitor is a flat screen monitor which can could easily fit into a FedEx box and be mailed to Sony for $12.80. So not only is Sony giving you someone else's defective monitor, but they are making a profit by doing so!
I'll go through the proper channels with this, but I just thought you might want to know how Sony handles defective merchandise.
Coincidentally, I've just put my Vaio laptop for sale on dba.dk. And I just bought an Xbox from Microsoft instead of a PlayStation2 from Sony. Not to add the fact that the Sony Cybershot wasn't even included in the running for my choice of digital camera.
Smart consumers vote with their valet.
The company formely, and breifly, known as MetroStar* is coming together and now sports an online identity with the Organic's site online along with it's justification for existance:
To create a new telecommunications company that knows its role as supplier of bandwidth and communication between people/corporations, in principle only to become a catalyst between the locations where the mobile Internet is, and those people who wish to gain access.
Lofty ideals, but since they're not written by your usual telco there's actually a chance they'll keep them in mind longer than their next brand compaign. Carrying a list of entrepreneurs, key Danish bloggers, and business veterans as your founding fathers surely won't deminish the chance either.
Organic is poised to become the reason for Copenhageners to pick up a wifi card in the next six to twelve months.
I kid you not, "Blog" is "Netslang" for "Web log." is an actual sentence used on CNN right now. No where would this fly than in yet another irrelevant entry to the growing catalog of ill-fated explanatory articles on blogging.
To Blog or not to Blog it's called. Carefully staying on the path laid by so many before it. Dear Machine was Information's offer. Here I am, here's my weblog was Jyllands-Posten's.
Of course, it's also filled to the brink with falsities, demeanings, and figures grapped out of thin air. A few choice bits:
- Teenagers were the pioners: "In the early days of blogging, teenagers reigned, barfing up the days of their lives in classic teen fashion." Where do they get this from? If anything, it was the techies, who was already entrenched in all things internet, that jumped on blogging.
Agreeably, teenagers became part of the mix when weblogs took off, but labeling them as pioneers is misleading, demeaning (the implication of irrelevance is clear), and such an easy way out.
- The .com crash made weblogs interesting: "When the dot-coms bombed, something shifted in Blogland. Well-known journalists and other self-proclaimed experts began blogging." What is this based on? What is the implied relationship between the crash and surge in blogging, other than it happened around roughly the same time?
- There're 200-500k bloggers: "Several sources put the total number of blogs in the range of 200,000 to 500,000." Ahhh, the beloved "several sources". Journo-talk for a number pulled out of your ass.
- People blogging was the utopia all along: "This is what futurists proclaimed would happen when the Web first began." What futurists? Are we talking imaginary characters living in your head that fits a point you want to make or living human beings? In case of the latter, why hide their identity?
- Companies are k/blogging not to be left behind by individuals: "Not to be outdone, a number of corporate and mass media outlets are starting to support in-house blogs by their own journalists or as part of intranets, called k-logs or knowledge-logs." It of course couldn't be that they actually saw an economic or informational advantage in using k-log tools? Did writers in general start to use word processors "not to be outdone" by techies writing science reports?
As always, this story lacks research, sources, and, most depressingly, a good angle. There's nothing new here, let alone interesting.
I should have a sticker somewhere saying that. Maybe even a "You won't need it anyway" to compliment and underline. Because it's a certainty that I won't remember on my own accord. A repeatedly proven certainty, even.
Every single time I do an inventory on my belongings, be it clothe, magazines, old board games, purchase certificates that expired in '97, or exotic cables for video games long sold, I end up refusing to acknowledge a simple, proven fact whenever I'm in doubt about getting rid of something.
If you don't toss it now,
it'll merely be a temporary stay on the inevitable execution
I present to you the evidence: Four pair of jeans that were too small after the first wash in '99, two sets of duplicate game t-shirts (depicting Quake 3 and Starcraft), my entire range of white t-shirts (that after a close washing encounter with something yellow looks... well... not good), and plenty of other pants and t-shirts that were hip or I were able to fit in the mid-nineteens.
(I'm sure my dad will love the rejuvenation of his wardrobe :))
Speednames was for a long time my favorite shop for Danish domains. It was one of the first resellers to reach wide spread awareness here, and with a ton of purchases already locked up in their management system, they didn't have to work very hard to keep my business. Unfortunately, they didn't work at all.
Speednames rested too long. They're now considerably more inconvenient to use for registering Danish domains, as now require you to fill out and fax a paper form. They're also consistently more expensive with a .dk retailing at some 220 kr. forcing you to commit for two years upfront, while others will let you get away with one year starting at 109,- (or even 39,-, if you buy today).
Either you provide better service, lower prices, or more convenience. Or you decent into irrelevance is only determined by the time lag that exists until your customers figure this out.
Making legal threats to open source projects about seemingly everyday words, such as "weblogger", is the straight way to the community purgatory. So learned Weblogger.com's Erin Clerico after he almost engaged his paper-pushing calvary on Dave Johnson's open source Roller Weblogger project.
"I take it by your attitude here you are ready for a fight. You will hear from my attorney next."
Luckily, Johnson quickly got the assistance of a few well-positioned hawks that called Clerico on his Instant Madness Trip and brought him to shame. That doesn't spell good news for a company that lives and dies by it's stature in the weblog community, which, more than anywhere, is renowned for standing up for little guys getting bullied by big guys.
Hence, Mr. Weblogger.com quickly realized his terrible overreaction and, somewhat to his credit, quickly backed down and issued a public apology (on his personal site, though, not weblogger.com). Good for him.
Regrettably, it goes to show that you don't need to be a mega corporation to act like a megalomaniac and issue legal threats without thought. You only need to be a mega corporation to not care a rat's ass when you get caught.
It took 57 shots before I had one I even remotely liked. 57. Now, I'm no photogenic (stop laughing, gasping for air, as you scream "I know! I know!" — that's just rude :)), but I was still stunned on how hard it is to shape your face desirably for that 1/80 of a second of exposure.
Actually, after about 32 shots, I was so much in disbelief that I teamed up with a mirror, watching my self as I release the shutter. Some of those lesser fortunate 57 shots were just... awful. I can't believe they depicted the same person as is displayed on that one decent shot.
Of course, the process wasn't made any easier by having to hold the camera in a stretched arm. A large portion of those 57 didn't even frame my face or framed it only partly. Another chunk had me looking incredibly, well, evil. It's hard to smile at yourself and a camera.
(And no, you can not see those 56 mishaps. Vainity, you know.)
24 days. That's how long it took for me to be totally swept away by the Apple offering. I'm ready to cut my PC connection and retreat into the snow covered domain of hardware running OSX.
I'm finding the speed loss experienced by jumping from XP to OSX more than offset by the rest of the adventure. It's smarter, slicker, and smoother. It's aesthetic. Pure. A more than viable, a capable, alternative to the spiral of Microsoft.
I should post a more complete transition review. "How to fall in love with widgets and circuits in 24 days". Maybe I will.
So, anyone in the market for a Athlon 1.4Ghz with a 22" screen? My desktop is demanding it be replaced by one of those 17" iMacs. And I concur.
Based on my three stays at hostels in London, New York, and Chicago, I'm inclined to believe that there's a correlation between the quality of the rooms and the quality of the social interaction with the guests. The nicer the room, the less social interaction.
London: Camden Inn
From the pictures posted at their website, the Camden Inn looks like a bargain. Cheap, good-looking, clean rooms. Reality disagrees. The rooms are extremely small.
I stayed together with three other people at what would pass for the size of a bathroom in most hotels. The bed charged tossing and turning with metal squeaking so loud it wasn't even funny. The showers resembled vertical coffins more than places to take a bath. And from 8 am you could hear every single door slam as if it was your own.
But. The people I stayed with were really nice. There was the Danish couple from Aarhus and, of course, the lovely Julia from Lund, Sweden. The interaction was pleasant, polite, and even interesting. It was good.
New York: The Big Apple Hostel
The Big Apple Hostel had rooms at least twice the size of the Camden Inn fitted with the same number of people. The bathrooms were clean and suitable sized. The location perfect (two minutes from Times Square). Not having air condition (in 35 degree weather with close to 100% humidity) and no elevator (when you get a room at the sixth floor) dragged it down a bit, though.
Social interaction was markedly reduced, though. I had a chat with this rather cool Canadian punk rocker the first day, but that was pretty much it. And when the Italians moved in and started to use my towel, it kinda sucked.
Chicago: Hostel International
With four floors and room enough for five hundred guests, Hostel International Chicago was by far the largest, cleanest, and most professionally run hostel of the three. Every room had it's own bathroom and shower. Every bed had it's own power outlet. There was air conditioning. The beds was as squeaky as anywhere, though — it seems to be a hostel requirement.
But everyone was really, really old. It had anything but the feeling of a youth hostel, and the atmosphere showed it. Everyone went to bed early and rised equally so. Little to few words were exchanged with anyone. It had the personality of a hotel.
As a lone traveller, I'd take the Camden Inn over the Hostel International any day of the week. If I was going with someone else, I'd probably reverse my preference.
With all the curved and smooth surfaces, the intuitive and inviting software, the simple and colorful manual, I arrived at a certain level of expectation. Apple cares dearly about details. Listening to how Steve Jobs spend years and years with Next perfecting monitor stands, motherboard layouts, and every other piece of the machine experience reinforces this expectation.
Which only makes the surprise even more shocking. How could they forget about the noise? What good is a snow white beauty if she snores like an ogre? How can the silver tower command respect when it stutters like an ironclad?
For all my awe and acceptance of the Apple offering, I'm baffled, disappointed, and slightly angry at their negligence in assuring a sound of silence for work or study.
Frustrating will make you clamor for Annoying
My iBook has two fan speeds: Annoying and frustrating. Annoying will only take a few minutes to kick in at home. If I leave the computer to mind the simple task of processing my typing or playing my tunes, I can normally stay at annoying. But if I try something more involved, such as parsing pictures around in iPhoto, while unpacking a .sit archive, and having Mozilla guard a dozen tabs? Frustrating will take over.
And when frustrating takes over, it does so in a very un-Apple way. No smooth transition as it gears up. No, it roars so loud, you wonder if it's alright. Then it will hover slightly less loudly, though still making sure you know it isn't an issue of pushing air. It's an issue of a two-dollar fan with grinding away anything but frictionless.
But even the roars of my iBook pales in comparison with the constant humming of my mates 733 tower. From the second you turn it on 'till the second you turn it off. Vrum, vrum, vrum. Music at a considerable volume is a requirement for operating that piece of machinery.
How could this happen? How could you let it happen, Steve? Are the air-conditioned offices of Paulo Alto so comfortable that they make you forget about countries without such power-sucking joys that keeps your fans from parading? Were there really no where else you could cut the $10 (tops!) extra a decent fan would add to the marginal costs? Please, Steve, make me understand.
(Alternatively, keep releasing free nuggets of software gold, like iCal, to remind why I'm still in love with your company)
I spend two and half years working either directly or by companies preceding or spun-off now assimilated Neo Ideo. Tons of memories, tons of experience. Plenty of hype. The company definitely was a in-bubble dream of inflated self-worth and importance. Sailing in the stream of Razorfish and like-minded web shops.
But where the company and management (who played the exit card with symphonic perfection) seems all about a distant irrelevance, the people mattered, and still do. And it was with those people that I had the good fortune of catching up with this past Saturday.
Anja and Asbjørn opened their garden to games, food, and fun. Providing amble opportunity to catch up, if only just superficiously, with many of the old faces. Unfortunatly, the party had it's fair fair of important misses, but also plenty of good hellos.
I hope they make a yearly tradition of it.
Media: 8 Pictures in Gallery | Quicktime Movie (400Kb)
On more than one occassion, I've internally debated which sense I would rather lose — if I had to chose and were given a choice. I fail to recall the reason for this mental excercise of morbid pro and con, or even if there ever was one, but I guess it's partly about putting in an advance preference with the powers that may be.
Should a terrible thing happen, I'd rather it was this, mylord!
The sense of taste and smell always end up being picked. Perhaps it's the familiarity of losing it, as I do frequently for a few days after a really bad cold. Perhaps it's because I envision the loss of taste and smell to be the least dangerous both litterally and to my quality of life.
You might think that losing the sense of touch could easily tie for the sense to go first, but childhood scary tales of people burning their own flesh on stoves, beacuse they can't feel anything, die hard.
But just now, in this very moment, I'm starting to question the repeated outcome of the debate. The reason: Memories. For me, there's no more powerful sense to recal fond memories. The faintest of a familiar smell grants instant access to an overwhelming onslaught of emotions and pictures.
And now, with that girl almost gone, I can't imagine living without that gift. The sheets, the couch, my t-shirt. All carrying just enough of her to be delightful.
What to pick, then?
I'm an audible ninety minutes into the eight hour treat of The Second Coming of Steve Jobs as written by Alan Deutschman and narrated by Charles Stransky. The reasonable price tag of $15.95 pales in comparison with the low cost of frustration associated with completing the transaction and the time spend before I was listening. It's a good deal.
The process is made easy by the combination of iTunes 3 and Audible.com. Pick your title, pay the man, and choose your sound quality. I chose the highest, downloaded just over 100 Mb (at close to full speed of my 512 Kbit connection) in about an hour. Delightingly painless.
I'll be sinking more into audio books shortly. With the iPod, you can "read" books comfortably in the bus without requiring a seat, and at the desktop, you can work and listen at the same time. Fascinating.
Oh, and Steve Jobs is a very interesting character.
Paying $500 for a watch that isn't made of gold, or other valuable materials, is about buying into an idea. The product didn't cost $500 to manufacture. Or anything close to that. I'm paying for a process of design and management. Fixed cost items on the business budget. High margins.
This is unlike variable cost businesses, such as consumer computers, where the margins are low and the cost of assembly and materials approach the cost of the product. When you run a variable cost business, you can't afford to be lavish with customer service or repairs. When you run a fixed cost business, you can.
At least that's the belief that's fueling my rage over having to shell out $100 to have the strap on my "511" (the title of the watch design) replaced. We're talking $100 to get one-side, without the lock, replaced. A thin slice of silicone coated in metal. $100.
I expect to be fucked on computer repairs or printer refills, but not when buying the idea of design.
Disney in Animation Deal with 'Shrek' Producer:
...the partnership also marks an ambitious attempt to make future computer-animated films at about half of what they now cost...
Vanguard hopes to achieve the savings by having completed scripts and story lines in place before production begins, compared with the current process where production staff is often hired after a project is green-lighted.
Why does this sound familiar? There is no silver bullet.
I'm starting to regret that I didn't get my new iBook fitted with a wireless network card right from the get-go. MetroStar* is a new Danish venture that wants to bring wifi to use in cafés and other public spots. Right now they have seven cafés serving their wifi network, and will be adding additional spots over the coming weeks.
Nyhavn 17 is listed as one of the spots, so I bet their reach will stretch onto my favorite sandwhich eating spot at the big anchor. Exciting. Must try soon.
Jeppe, who wrote an article about blogging for Jyllands-Posten (in which I featured), wonders if it's even possible to introduce the concept of weblogs in a newspaper. I don't. All it takes is a little effort.
I don't expect the newspapers to come up with the defining manifesto, but they should at least try coming up with something better than "weblogs are computer stuff, computer stuff is for geeks". It's insulting, unimaginative, and we've heard it a zillion times before.
I'm not wearing any boxer shorts. Neither am I wearing tights, long johns, or any other flavor of undergarments. Yes, your blushing thoughts are correct. If it weren't for my pants, I'd be butt-naked. It's the second time that has happened in my adult years. The explanation the same:
Punk 2: Wash day tomorrow. Nothing clean, right?
The Terminator: Nothing clean, right.
But it used to occur much more frequently. As a kid, I was never really much a fan of undergarments. I guess, like now, the feeling of letting it all hang loose was seductively attractive.
That was all cured one grey October morning when, half-way to school, I discovered my mistake. I've picked the wrong day, as this one had the prospect of second period gym class looming, to enjoy the free-spirited feelings of jogging pants and nothing else.
Struggling for words to explain to my mother exactly why we simply needed to turn-around that very late minute, the memory was imprinted for permanent archiving.
Unbelievable. Jason, with whom I bought my iBook, is now also suffering under the spell of industry standard dead pixels on his brand new PowerBook. Microcenter, where we bought both machines, refuses to take it back citing a policy that only give laptops a 7-day return window.
Apple offers no help either:
I called Apple tech support and the tech guy said that a certain number of pixel "anomalies" are "within spec" but they can't tell me what "spec" is. His boss said the same thing.
This scenario is frightenly similiar to my Sony woes from a while back. A certain level of noise being "within spec", but no way to find out what the spec is. Why does consumer electronic companies fight so hard to make us stop loving them?
Since castle Caput has finally crumbled to ruins, I'll be taking some time to share a few choice anecdotes from my time there over the coming days. These are meant less as bashing of individuals and more as teaching stories.
Trust and Economics
When Caput hired me, they made an explicit $25k+ salary investment and a, probably similiar, implicit investment in training, equipment, travels. Both of these investments ran over just around eight months.
They were based solely on a one hour interview and a piece of paper that listed bullet points of previous performances. To my knowledge, none of the references were ever checked. I was never told to present any additional material from the projects I'd worked on.
It basicly all came down to trust. They trusted that Caput would derive more value from my work than what they had to pay to get it.
You would expect that this placed a premium on my judgement in most cases that fell within my area of expertise, and certainly in the area of what tools I needed to make their investment worthwhile.
Not so. They didn't even trust me to purchase a $40 piece of development software on my own accord. Let's let that amount sink in.
It took a small week, the review of four people, and an attempt to dissuade me from spending company cash on shareware, if the task could be solved in another way, to make it happen. After that ordeal, I ceased trying to improve my productivity through better tools (at least on company time).
Go the whole nine yards to make sure your $25k+ investments are solid, but don't question your employees over petty cash. It's demoralizing and bad for business.
Moronic managers at Danish retailers Bilka and El-Giganten have embarked on a spectactular race to see who can lose the most money in the shortest time available. While this will have even first-year business students shaking their heads in astonishment, it's great for consumers.
The vehicle of choice in this cash-draining venture is the Sony PlayStation 2. In a dancing series of price cuts over the last 10 days, the system has plunged from 2299,- ($300) to 1199,- ($160). Utterly insane.
If I hadn't had a Dreamcast with plenty of great games sitting idle for months, I'd be tripping over myself to pick one of these DVD- and Gran Turismo 3-playing babies tomorrow at El-giganten.
More details in Danish at B.T.
It seems most Danish newspapers feel the need to introduce their readership to the phenomenon of blogging sooner or later. In most cases, and so in this, a lot later.
Information, who I've previously lauded for their superior trial subscriptions, is the latest print pusher to try their luck. Unfortunately, they drew a blank, and retells the same boring story that has been told for years. Complete with a plentitude of mistakes, insulting prejudice, and crucial obmissions.
A few choice cuts:
- Weblogs predominatly belong to men: I guess that memo skipped the large number of females included in my daily reading tour. Unsubstanciated claim that sounds wrong, probably already is, or most likely will be shortly (more women than men are acustomed to keeping a diary, I suspect). Generalistic old view of computing being something for mostly for boys. Hogwash.
The author even has the nerve to open the article with this: "Internet dairies are becoming a national sport - or at least a boys' game. Danish men confess daily to the new dairies of the internet - weblogs".
- "Dear Computer" is apparently the most obvious line to start a weblog with. Which bloggers out there are writing to be read by a computer?
- Free "Manilasites" are along with Blogger apparently the main reason for the explosion in bloggers. I don't know about Dave Winer, but I can't recall of a place named Manilasites - let alone it being free?
- Heaven or irrelevance: "For some, blogging is the first real step towards a democratic utopia, for others just another offering for nerdy boys with too much time on their hands." (paraphrased). Pick just one. We can only fit the colors of black and white in a single story. Who cares about grey anyway?
Another example of the irrelevant drivel that passes for journalism when it comes to blogging (and what else?). And this in, what I in other ways regard as, a high quality newspaper. Sad, but not surprising.
Caput taught me more depressing truths about (at times clueless) software management and (consistently clueless) leadership in the around six months I spend there than all my litterature on the subjects ever did. But I'm not bitter, I'm grateful!
There's no better way of learning how to lead than to have the classic mistakes burned into your fabric like that. Sure, the burning was almost unbereable at times, but the scars will keep the lessons around for all eternity (hopefully).
Anyway, Caput won't be training any more battle-scared veterans. As of just a few days ago, the company finally crumbled (after having multiple near-death experiences below the belt).
In classic New Economy-style, the press release cites bad financial weathers as the main cause of company deconstruction. It of course couldn't have anything to do with how the company was runned. Of course not.
Despite all, I sincerely do wish that the upper management of Caput all the luck in the future — if, and only if, this has served as a humbling learning experience. If you truely do believe that all your woes are do to a tough financial markets, I pity your future colleagues (or subordinates).
Unreserved wishes of good luck goes to the rest of Caput.
Ring tones and single-color backdrops for mobile phones have been all the rage among the younger crowd for quite a while now. This need for individuality and personalization is thought to be a silly vanity effort by some people (probably even by most people I know).
So the images are crude and the ring tones only weakly reminiscent of their origin. So what? How is this different from what we computer geeks have been doing for years in desktop personalization? I even painted my old Amiga 1200 a deep indigo to much the same effect.
The same same parallels could be drawn to facial modifications (rings, piercings, what have you). Seeing that someone is actually a lot like yourself is the first step to understanding. Take it.
Farewell, Greymatter. Hello, MovableType. After the former decided to reset my database some time back, I've been weary about committing any more entries to the monster. Hence the slow rate of posting lately. But no more.
I moved the few latest entries over to MovableType now, and I'll hopefully be adding the rest of the archive shortly. I also gave the design a few twists and turns in the process (hope you like it). I even went as far as to shoot for XHTML standard compliance, but now that I'm in the Mac downstream, and couldn't get everything showing correctly on IE 5.2/Mac, I called it a day and tailed back to a tables design.
Forgive me, W3C father, for I have sinned. I will amend my ways as soon as time for tinkering permits it.