Weather it’s enough to keep you connected

Yes I did mean to type that that headline title! It’s a play on words people… I’ve just read an article in the Guardian (well online actually) where Alex Hern writes that he has “finally taken off the Apple Watch for the last time”.

It took me nine months to realise it, but the only useful thing about Apple’s £479 smartwatch was the weather notifications

Ouch!! But it’s a sentiment that I share…I stopped wearing my Microsoft Band2 a couple of weeks ago – my Mi Band Puls is still on my right wrist, my proper watch on my left!

The author completely nails the issue in a single (but quite long) sentence:

“….a few fundamental flaws of the watch suffice to explain 95% of the issues: the watch is too slow to act as a speedy alternative to your phone; the user interface is too fiddly to use on the move; the notification model is too limited to do anything other than encourage you to pull out your phone repeatedly; and Siri sucks.

A similar catalogue or errors can be applied to the MS Band2. It’s too clumpy, it requires too much manual intervention to track activity, the battery sucks and it isn’t waterproof.

So, here we have 2 of the largest bands in the world taking £billions of our money and still not getting the point.

The technology is supposed to improve our lives, makers things easier to do, make things better and do things we wouldn’t previously been able to do. So instead of ramming tech into a small space with a tiny screen and a crappy battery why not think what the customer actually wants….

  1. Something comfortable and stylish to wear 24/7.
  2. Excellent battery life
  3. A touchscreen I can read outdoors
  4. Notifications that mean something
  5. health/activity tracking – the standard package
  6. Waterproof

I’d suggest using an e-ink screen with a horizontal display as a starting point…..Fitbit Alpha sort of size for the whole shebang and sure I’d be happy to pay £200 for that because as long as the software/firmware keeps getting updated the device should last me for years, not just a few months which appears to be the current lifetime for some of the devices on the market- alright almost all of them!!!

Perhaps the industry’s desire to keep making us buy the next iteration (to keep their profits rolling in) is why they keep dumping these half-arsed products on the market. Nobody, as I mean NOBODY has got it right yet.

So if there’s someone out there with a couple of £million to spare I reckon I could come up with the goods in a few months – all I need is a few techies to integrate the stuff that’s already out there in the public domain – and yes, I am being serious here!!

Moneygrabber medic claims “care concern” cash

Former Chelsea doctor Eva Carneiro has settled her dismissal claim against the club on confidential terms.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-36472713

“My priority has always been the health and safety of the players and fulfilling my duty of care as a doctor.”

That’s why she turned down £1.2m then is it?

Move over Alexa, Viv’s the new kid on the block

Well frighteningly is the answer – and so too is Kayak – you know the mob that sponsor some Sky TV channels to break into the UK market.

I’ve long been an admirer (and owner) of an Amazon Echo but I am appalled at how long it’s taking them to allow the device to be sold outside of the USA – but the following copy from the Kayak site just sums them up perfectly…

Alexa, ask KAYAK…

For anyone who has already begun their love affair with Amazon Echo – or for those of you thinking about getting an Alexa-enabled device – we’ve got great news.

KAYAK is collaborating with Amazon so you can access the power of our site without picking up your phone or computer. Just tell Alexa to ask KAYAK to keep you up to date on flight arrivals and departures that are important to you, to give you ideas for where you can go within your budget and to search hotels, flights and rental cars for the destination of your choice. At your command, she’s ready to give you the travel info you need.

Picture this…

Dinner time at the Jones’

“Alexa, ask KAYAK where can I go for $300?”

(No, Cindy, Princess Pony Sugar Castle isn’t an actual place.)

“KAYAK’s data suggests that $300 can get you to Chicago, Miami or Denver.”*

and then this…

Your in-laws are on their way over. You still haven’t recovered from their last visit.

“Alexa, ask KAYAK when will the flight from Austin land?”

*crosses fingers for flight delay*

“Flight 123 will arrive at 9:14am in Terminal C.”

…and this…

You are invited to a bachelor(ette) party in Vegas. To go… or not to go?

“Alexa, how much is a hotel in Las Vegas from May 12th to May 15?”

“Three star hotels start at $56 per night. Hotels with four stars start at $74 per night. One of the top results for Las Vegas on those dates is Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, a 4 star hotel, for $187 per night.”

Can’t imagine yourself in those scenarios? But, wait, there’s more…

Alexa, ask KAYAK to search hotels for May 12 to 15th in San Diego.
Alexa, ask KAYAK where I can go in September for $500.
Alexa, ask KAYAK to search flights from Boston to Curacao.
Alexa, ask KAYAK to search rental cars in Denver.

We’re working to make Alexa a KAYAK travel expert so that she can arm you with the information you need to help plan, track and inspire your next trip.

Click here more details, FAQs and a list of commands.
*Results based on a recent search on KAYAK. Ask Alexa or visit Explore to see where $300 can take you based on your departure city.
POSTED MAY 9, 2016 AT 06:54 PM BY KAYAK

The only slight glimmer of hope is, and this is probably only in the copy because the people at Amazon didn’t realise, that Curacao is not on mainland America! [I hope to god that the people at Kayak did realise!]

“We’re working to make Alexa a KAYAK travel expert” – fat chance of that ever happening at this rate!!

Alexa has got to start pulling her socks up as there’s a new kid on the block “Viv” – http://viv.ai/

Check this out!!!

“Wake up and smell the caw-fee” Alexa🙂

It’s true, I’ve fallen out of love with my Microsoft Band2

msb2.fwIt’s just come back after being replaced and it no longer delivers what I’m looking for. The minuses definitely outweigh the plusses.

The pluses are that it tracks your movement has some funky tiles you can add and has a great screen for showing you all the notifications you want to see/read!

The minuses are that the battery lasts about 2 days, if you’re lucky, and when it dies you have to start from scratch – when you charge it up again it no longer syncs with my phone – and yes I have followed all the things on the website – and frankly I’m bored with having to factory reset it and start all over again.

Now this may be down to a faulty bluetooth chip or it may be standard operating procedure. Either way it’s a pain in the proverbial!

Another minus is that it is NOT waterproof so you need to take it off when you get in the shower or do some serious washing up or go swimming… I want a device that I can put on and almost forget about – I only want to know it’s there when I get an alert about something…

I could totally understand that the first MS Band was a clunky thing with a prototype feel to it but given the information that’s out there I would have expected MS Band2 to have nailed it. Sure it looks better but it still can’t cut it battery-wise and seems to have some serious reliability issues – my first Band1 just literally fell apart – this is my 2nd Band2 and it seems rather flaky!! We’re getting near to summer so I fully expect there’ll be a Band 3 around soon – but I for one will not be buying it!

I’ve seen the most recent PWC report on wearable uptake in the US which seems wildly overoptimistic – http://www.pwc.com/us/en/technology/publications/wearable-technology.html – and heard about the number of people who stop using their device – boredom caused by a limited range of functions, poor battery life, and having to do too much manually rather than have the device do it automatically – these are more are perfectly good reasons to ditch your device. So…why haven’t the manufacturers grasped this? I really don’t know – if I was a device manufacturer I’d be seeking to include the following:

  1. Waterproof
  2. e-Ink screen
  3. Notifications
  4. Slim-lightweight design
  5. Heart rate tracking
  6. Pulse OX
  7. Blood Pressure yes it’s possible
  8. Movement tracking – steps, altimeter, power rating
  9. Automatic sensing of exercise type

…and we are getting there people – look at the Garmin Forerunner 735XT – it’s not perfect, it doesn’t have everything on my list but it is non-too shabby! I’ll be happy to review one for you guys!!

I’m also getting increasingly frustrated by MS’ customer service. Every time I try and get to “chat” to someone I get this:

Chat online

Our support agents are chatting with other customers right now. You can request a call back instead or try back later.

Operating Hours
Monday to Friday:
08:00 – 19:00 (UTC)

Saturday:
09:00 – 19:00 (UTC)
Or
Request a call

Average Wait Time is 4 minutes.
We will call you at the number listed below.

…I’m not falling for that one again. Last time I was left hanging on when they called me back – it’s not 4 minutes until you get to speak to someone – they’ll call you but then you’re in an interminable queue!

Unless this is a standard feature of the device – the failure to re-sync when recharged (which is pretty crap!) – then that’s twice it’s failed me and that’s refund time as far as I’m concerned!

Oh dear me no Microsoft, no, no, no!!

Now up till the past couple of weeks I’ve been a staunch supporter of the Microsoft Band – I’m on version 2 and apart from the 3 weeks when I had to return it because it stopped working I’ve loved the combination of tracking movement and alerting. But now I feel something has changed….

It all started because I’ve been using Spotify a bit more than usual and that plus my flaky home broadband (thanks BT!) I’ve had to resort to 2G/3G/4G – depends where I am! Anyway I got a text from BT (yep them again!) saying I’d used over 80% of my monthly limit – so I had a look and it transpires I’ve used almost 500 mb of “background” data with Spotify. So I switched if off.

Well now it seems my new MS Band 2 isn’t recognised by my phone….and that reminded me of another occasion where I’d switched off data and it stopped updating my health account.

broken_band
OK I know this is an image of the first version of the band – my band btw which fell apart – and which MS said as it was the join between the clasp and the band it was outside of their guarantee!!
Maybe unless the MSBand can be connected to the internet it (as well as not updating, which is totally understandable) it doesn’t even connect to your phone. Even though background data is turned off I can still get my emails!! Well I kinda hope that’s the problem – if not it means the band is buggered again…and if that’s the case I might just ask for my money back!!

A little digging into the data settings shows the following:

Microsoft Health data usage:

Foregound 1.08MB
Background 71.5MB

Well there you go people QED? – it’s either Spotify or MSBand2! Well given that I also wear a Mi2 Band – and believe me if they get it right with their new device (hopefully not the butt ugly thing the CEO was wearing recently) which is purported to have a screen as well as all the other stuff it already does, then Microsoft – you’re history!!

I’m just going to try a re-boot – of both devices….

Yep as I thought – the same situation. My phone doesn’t link with the MS Band! But one final thing before I get onto the MS support…I’ll switch back on background data and see if it connects – ah, ok it doesn’t – so the bluetooth part isn’t working!

Well that’s fine and dandy – I’ve only had the device back for about a week or so and already it’s playing up. Not impressed at all.

Over to Microsoft support – AGAIN!!

OK as I’d already got various emails from MS support updating me on my device’s progress I thought I’d reply to one….well dear readers their response arrived fairly promptly but it’s BIG FAIL on several parts.

Response to your Email
Actions
Microsoft Support (support@status.xbox.com) Add to contacts 10:52
To: xxxxxx.xxxx.com
support@status.xbox.com
From: Microsoft Support (support@status.xbox.com) Microsoft SmartScreen classified this message as junk.
Sent: 09 May 2016 10:52:39
To: xxxxxx.xxxx.com
Microsoft SmartScreen marked this message as junk and we’ll delete it after ten days.
Wait, it’s safe!|I’m not sure. Let me check
This e-mail address is not monitored. If you need to contact us, our contact information is available online at http://www.xbox.com/support/contact.

Thank you,

The Xbox Support Team

  1. So for starters it’s an email which isn’t monitored – so to use that for communication is shockingly bad CRM!
  2. Secondly it was highlighted by their own software as Spam and ended up in my junk folder.
  3. Thirdly it’s from the XBOX team – when did I ever contact them? Answer never!!

C’mon guys – get a grip!!

Wikipedia – it’s a secret sect you know!

secret societies I do a bit web building for fun sometimes and I’ve been working on a wikipedia page for a while – it’s just been deleted.  I was told there was a discussion about it but I wasn’t told that it had been deleted….I am not a happy bunny! So I’ve told them – and I’ll tell you too🙂

As I have just been informed that several hours of my work has been deleted I wanted to write and say just how disappointed I was with the decision. Disappointed on several levels

  1. The clique that edits wikipedia pages seems to have double standards
  2. You use your own language – you don’t make it easy for occasional editors/creators such as myself
  3. Your system of communication is not user friendly

So let’s look at Double Standards – XXX XXX’s page was deleted – yet Linda Morand‘s is allowed to exist without attack – despite the individual being no more “notable” and having no more references that can be proven within the confines of the web. And whilst I’ll accept that Naomi Campbell is far more notable to claim that XXX’s page was “self-promotion” when Naomi Campbell‘s isn’t??? That’s just ludicrous.

Your own coding, your own language your own little discussion groups and committees – it’s like the inner workings of the catholic church or some sect. It’s seems that you make your won rules and then ignore them when it takes your fancy!

Communication – well for those of us who do not only live within the wiki-world we have other means of communication – one’s we are required to give wikipedia when we register and ones we are far more likely to use (email perhaps!). I was aware that there was a discussion but I was not personally informed that the page was being deleted – nor that someone had decided that I had a conflict of interest in this matter. Where was the notification of that.

I don’t expect the situation to be resolved anytime soon but it made me sooo mad!!

Sounding Off about Amazon Music problems

Now this is a strange one dear readers!

I recently decided to factory reset my OnePlus Two as it was running a bit slow – laggy!  It started off blazingly fast!  I’d thought about rooting it and installing CM13…

…but I’ve decided to stick with the OS as is and wait for Marshmallow – hurry up guys they’ve already announced “N”!

So I did the deed and reinstalled the various apps – no problems at all – well not true there was one!!

My Amazon Music with Prime app suddenly, according to Google’s Play store decided it was incompatible with some of my devices – namely the OnePlus Two – hey it is even compatible with my old (very old) Galaxy Note! By the way my Amazon Shopping app seems to work perfectly…wonder why that is? (That’s a rhetorical question by the way)

amazon1.fw

 

A quick trawl across the internet and it transpires I’m not the only one – see link below.  Anyway I think it’s a good idea to have a chat with Amazon to see if they can assist me…so here we go – here’s the chat – verbatim!


 

You’re now connected to Arun from Amazon.co.uk

Me: I can no longer play Amazon music on my One Plus Two phone

Arun: Hello, my name is Arun. I’ll be happy to help you.
I can see that you have authorised 2 devices on your account and are as follows:
* Paul’s 2nd Android Device (MP3)
* Paul’s 3rd Android Device (MP3)
Please confirm the exact device you are referring to.

Me: I’ve no idea which one it is
I’ve got an 8th Android device!!

Arun: Okay.

Me: I certainly don’t have an iPhone 2 so that can be deleted

Arun: Okay. Have you installed Amazon Music app on your One Plus Two phone?

Me: I’ve had it and used it no problems previously but I had to factory reset the phone (backed it up first) because it was running too slow. I then reinstalled the apps but when I tried to install the Amazon Music app it said it wasn’t compatible with my phone

Arun: I apologise for that.
To install the latest version of the Amazon Music App on your mobile device, make sure your device is running Android OS version 4.1 or higher. The Amazon Music App is not supported on some smaller screen devices (less than 320×240 pixels).
Older versions of the Amazon Music app are compatible with any Android device running OS 2.3 through 4.04, but further updates aren’t available.

Me: It is running Android 5.1.1 and the screen res is way higher than that min figure

Arun: The complexity of this issue requires real-time troubleshooting; we’ll be better able to help you with this over the phone.
In this case, please provide your contact number so that I can arrange a callback for you to resolve this issue.
Are we connected?

Me: It’s a problem with your app. I am able to download lots of other apps, including the Amazon Shopping app – what a surprise!! I’m not the only one with this problem 

Arun: This will need to investigate over phone to resolve this issue.

Me: Why over the phone?

Arun: The complexity of this issue requires real-time troubleshooting.
We’ll be better able to help you with this over the phone.

Me: I’m here now…..
My phone is beside me… I can’t talk over the phone and check settings etc out at the same time…

Arun: As we continually seek to improve our service, this occasionally means we can no longer support certain devices or features.
I regret to inform you that One Plus Two phone doesn’t support Amazon music.
I’m sorry for the inconvenience this has caused.

Me: So you are accepting that it is an issue with your apps compatibility. So do I get compensation given that I can no longer play my music on my phone?

Arun: Customer feedback like yours really helps us continue to improve our digital music service. I’ve passed your input to the Amazon Music team for consideration as we make future improvements.

Me: That’s evading the issue. I have purchased music from you, I have paid for an Amazon Prime account but I can’t play my music….

Arun: I understand your reaction and I’m sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused. However, I hope you’ll understand that we are unable to offer you any compensation in relation to this matter.

Me: No sorry but I don’t understand why you aren’t able to offer nay compensation.

Arun: I understand you’re upset and I regret that we haven’t been able to address your concerns to your satisfaction. However, we are unable to provide any compensation for this issue.
We won’t be able to provide further assistance for your request.

Me:OK I will be commenting on various social media channels about your (lack of) service. Perhaps I’ll shift my business to other online retail channels – and I’ll recommend that other people do too – if this is the way you respond to a simple query as to why your app no longer supports one of the most popular and best reviewed phones. your policy of not supporting modern phones seems strange!

Arun:Unless there’s a different issue I can help you with, I’ll be ending this chat.

Me:That’s ok I’ve already copied and pasted the transcript – I’ll post it in a minute

Arun:We hope to see you again soon! Please click the “End Chat” link to close this window.


Wow! So we (Amazon) shift from “Sorry”, to “The complexity of this issue requires real-time troubleshooting”, to “I regret to inform you that One Plus Two phone doesn’t support Amazon music” (it certainly did last week!) to “no compensation” and “We won’t be able to provide further assistance for your request”!!!

That my friends is a classic example of how to turn an Amazon advocate – Kindle, Echo, Fire TV stick, online shopper – into a critic and someone likely to spend my money elsewhere – will I renew my prime membership? What do you think?

If I was using a weird and wacky device – say for example a Jolla phone (which I do possess) I might understand that an updated version of the Amazon app might not work but why when their other apps appear to work fine does this one not? And why aren’t they prepared to do anything about it?

Given Amazon’s desire to be an eco-system they do seem to make some odd decisions (here’s another one – like launching new Echo devices in the US before the first one is available outside of the US. Maybe Trump’s antics are in favour at Amazon Towers…perhaps Jeff wants the VP nomination – I don’t know but clearly stranger things are happening!

No! Here’s the thing with Ad Blockers!

Here’s The Thing With Ad Blockers

We get it: Ads aren’t what you’re here for. But ads help us keep the lights on.
So, add us to your ad blocker’s whitelist or pay $1 per week for an ad-free version of WIRED. Either way, you are supporting our journalism. We’d really appreciate it.

No! Here’s the thing with Ad Blockers!

You really don’t get it! We don’t visit your sites for the ads – we visit them for the content. I visit hundreds of websites and I’m sorry but if you insist on placing copious quantities of auto-running ads on your pages then more fool you. First it was Forbes telling me:

“We noticed you still have ad blocker enabled. By turning it off or whitelisting Forbes.com, you can continue to our site and receive the Forbes ad-light experience.”

BTW the text relating to the ad-light experience can only be viewed by hovering over the link – here’s what you then see.

forbes.fw

Even they describe it as a “less intrusive advertising experience” FFS!  They expect me to “enjoy” that?

Well now I’ve noticed that Wired have joined the ad blocker spoiler party – that’s their stuff in the opening paragraph.

I totally understand that these guys are delivering “free” content to me.  I appreciate that and I’m quite prepared to see a few non-invasive ads to help them pay for their expenses but I do not want the following – free or paid for:

  • Slow loading pages that refuse to display the content YOU want until THEY’VE loaded all the ads THEY want you to see.
  • Ads that auto-run annoying videos which have audio tracks – even if you’re already listening to some audio for the content you actually WANT to hear!
  • Adverts that load and block your view of the content you want to see, and then make you struggle and waste valuable time trying to find the miniscule “x” to turn the damn thing off!

Not only does this sort of website p*ss me off – I stop visiting it completely – so even your acceptable ads don’t get shown and you have to charge your advertisers more to make ends meet and they end up saying – WTF – you haven’t got much of an audience anymore, your page views are in decline – I’m outta here!  And your business fails…

And my view on that?

Tough luck suckers!

 

When technology doesn’t improve things

3056730-inline-i-2-silk-labs-wants“You have to fumble out your smartphone and turn it on and type in your PIN code and launch an app,” he says. “We just made your experience four steps worse than flipping a light switch next to you.”

Andreas Gal is describing what it’s like to turn on a Wi-Fi-enabled light using your phone, and he’s making it sound like a major step backwards rather than the way of the future…..that’s on this website.  And he’s so right!  How many times have you got so frustrated with technology when it doesn’t work properly – it may be “cool” to a geeky mate of yours but yea gods what a palaver it can be some times.

Unfortunately the article doesn’t really provide a solution to the problem but at least it realises that IT IS A PROBLEM!

Amazon-Echo-1 I’m having plenty of fun with my Amazon Echo – not just because of all the Easter Eggs built in but it is just easy to say stuff like “Alexa, play Submotion Orchestra on Spotify” and hey presto it does just that🙂

Hopefully those laggards in the US will “get it” that making it open to the wider world – yes there is sentient life outside of the USA you muppets (probably far more than inside to be frank!) will actually be beneficial to them as well as us and then we can all enjoy our Amazon Prime accounts!!!

I learnt the lesson many years ago when Dr Edwin Turner – distinguished ICL Fellow, brain the size of a planet and the man who thought of the screenfridge decades ago – said that people will always take the route of least resistance.  So if you are adding steps to a process you can bet your bottom dollar that it won’t get used!!

Wise us you tech gurus out there!!

 

 

Why is this still relevant today?

It’s a shame but it’s true.  This report from Quantcast lays it out – without pulling any punches!
 “FinanForensic-Science-365-739262cial services organisations live and die on the customer experience they provide. 66% of consumers switch brands due to poor customer service; 82% of those that switched said the brand could have done something to stop them leaving.”
(Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Survey, November 2013. )
The emergence of the always-on consumer has forced finance marketers to rethink how their customers undertake the journey to purchase.  The modern consumer moves between devices seamlessly, and the real-time nature of programmatic advertising allows the marketer to understand how the consumer is interacting with their brand and advertise to them at the right time on the right device.
 Will they ever learn…..?
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