Archive for December, 2007

‘Reply all’ can lower worker productivity

They needed research to confirm this?! I could have told you this years ago.

NEW YORK – Think twice before you copy someone on an e-mail or hit "reply all." Such practices have made today’s workers less productive, a research firm concludes.

After years of naming a product or person of the year, Basex Inc. decided to forecast "information overload" as problem of the year for 2008.

‘Reply all’ can lower worker productivity – Careers- msnbc.com

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Candy Cane Lane

For some fun, Rob and I made hot chocoloate and popcorn, packed a bag with mugs and marshmellows, and headed down the street to Ravenna where a particular part of the neighborhood turned the entire street into Candy Cane Lane.  We had no idea this was such a long standing tradition and one that, apparently, is recieved with a fair amount of contraversay.  Now, after seeing it for myself, I can see why.
 
Nevertheless, we had fun, got in the holiday spirit and took some pictures.
Created by: Windows Live Spaces 
 
There is also a site that has a virtual tour of the street.

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Dear AT&T, I Hate You.

Cingular 3125 - The phone I loved

This may sound unfair, but I’ve hated you for a long time.  However, I still feel justified in my hatred for you because you are always giving me a good reason to hate you.

It all started when I was a kid and my grandmother, a very practical and smart woman, would give me AT&T stock as gifts for special occasions like birthdays and Hannukah.  While that wasn’t the only gift she would give me, it was always the default and, you can imagine, as a kid this was always rather disappointing since I didn’t really value stock at the time.  I might be singing a different tune if that stock actually amounted to something but, alas, it didn’t.  So now I only get to live with my disappointing childhood of lame gifts from grandma and I’m no better off for it.  It seems that neither are you, AT&T.

This hatred followed me through to 1998, when I moved to California for my first job.  I got my first apartment and subscribed with, none other than the de facto, AT&T for my home service.  During that time I spent countless hours on the phone with you arguing about bills that were wrong, misplaced charges and persistently arguing with one customer service representative after the next to have the errors corrected and, more importantly, refunded.  This was always a grand waste of time and money and eventually what led me over the edge to jump entirely to using a cell phone as my primary phone.  The day when I actually canceled my home phone service was a liberating day and one that has felt good ever since.

Then there was a gap where you were not in my life and things were very good.  It was just me and my cell phone (and some of the pains of that technology) but a big step forward in my quality of life and satisfaction with service (if you can even believe that).

About 5 years later I found myself in need of a Smart Phone.  I was traveling every week for work and needed to have my calendar always with me in a way that didn’t require me to boot up my laptop.  Further I loved the idea of my contacts always synched to my phone and my Outlook address book (and now that I have a Smart Phone with the functionality, I can never go back). So I fell for it and went on the hunt for a Smart Phone. 

It turned out that, at the time, Cingluar was the only provider who carried a decent Smart Phone: a phone (not a PDA or some other honking geek device), that was the right form factor, looked cool and could remind me of appointments, synch my contacts and let me do a few other things that required connectivity.  Therefore, I bought the Cingular 3125 (made by HTC). I LOVED my phone.

The only problem is that the phone kept breaking and I kept having to replace it though warranty.  The first time the phone was replaced it broke within 3 months.  The next time 1 month.  The next time a few weeks.  Until, finally, I received a replacement through warranty that was actually dead-on-arrival.  At this time I was in month 9 of my 2-year contract and looking at only another 3 months of warranty covering replacement phones – after that I would be expected to buy a new phone to replace a phone that seemed to be defective.  So defective, in fact, that when I called "the new AT&T" about replacing my Cingular 3125 the first time they explained that the phone was being discontinued.

On October 16, 2007 I called your customer service department to figure out what to do with my DOA phone from warranty.  Here are my notes from that call:

10/16 – 9 PM – 12:00 AM
Janice Beach – called "Janice" in AT&T customer service/technical support because the Cingular 3125 replaced by warranty was not working (I could make phone calls and hear others, but they could not hear me).  She was unable to fix the problem with the phone and said that I needed to replace the phone through warranty.  I refused to replace the phone again through warranty as this was already my 3 time in two weeks having replaced the phone.  I requested that Janet help me replace the Cingular 3125 with a model that was not defective since this replacement was the 4rd replacement that year (each one becoming defective in anywhere from 1 week to 3/5 months).  She escalated the call to Allan Valentine who agreed to replace the Cingular 3125 with a Cingular 8125 for $144.99 (the difference in cost between the two models).

In the meantime, the phone arrives and I get it setup and working.  I hated that phone.  It is hardly an equivalent replacement to the Cingular 8125: it’s a brick (can’t even fit it in my pocket), can’t dial a phone number without entering into a "phone mode", because it’s a touch-screen it’s constantly doing things on it’s own whenever it’s in my coat pocket or purse and the battery usually would last me from 7:30 AM to 4:00 PM – the list could go on, but why?  I also notice that I’m not able to send or receive text messages and I’m getting voicemail a day late.  On November 1 I called AT&T customer service again.  Here are my notes from that call:

11/1 – 5:30 AM – 7:00 AM
Spoke with Nafisah Lindsay.  I called because I was able to send or receive text messages and was experiencing a lag in receiving voicemail.  I learned that my data plan was changed on 11/12 from a Smart Phone data plan ($19.99, original plan that came with Cingular 3125) to a PDA Data Plan ($49.95, that was automatically switched when my phone was replaced with a Cingular 8125).  I had to demand that Nafisah process a credit to the account for the charges for the new plan and temporarily bump me to a PDA plan that was $39.99 so that I would be able to receive text messages while I had the Cingular 8125. I asked Nafisah to verify that this was a violation of my contract and explained that i would like to terminate my service based on the violation of the contract when I was able to find a suitable replacement provider.  she said I would still have to pay the $179.00 termination fee if I wanted to cancel service with AT&T.  I asked Nafisah to give me the names of all the people I had last spoken with.  She gave me the names: Lorena Lobato, Sarah Roberts, Charles Bowie.

At this point I am furious.

Then I went to the AT&T store to try to solve my problem.  I have to say, I was surprised and pleased.  This experience, AT&T, is the only reason I’m still using your service today.  Somehow I lucked out and got the last Pantech Duo in the store.  This was actually the best replacement I could hope for – it’s a phone, the form factor is good, the dual slide keyboard/keypad feature it actually useful and it did everything my old Smart Phone used to do – and it got me back on my original $19.99/month plan.  I was happy thanks to Nate Knodel (the sales AT&T associate that helped me out).

However, things turned sour again when I got my next bill and the credit that Nafisah was supposed to process wasn’t there.  On November 18 I spoke with Jack Justin from AT&T customer service.  Here are my notes from that call:

11/18 – 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM 
Jack Justin – I spoke with Jack about the $39.99 credit that was supposed to appear on my bill. He reports seeing a pending credit in the amount of $34.07.  Will appear on next bill.
He reports that the feature was changed 11/12 from Smart Phone Data Plan to PDA
Data Plan. The pro-rated charge was $10.66 (covers 11/1 – 11/12).He reports that there was an adjustment to the charge that never should have been made on 11/12 (by Nate).
He says that I will be credited a total $46.25. This will include a credit for $39.99 in the section on the data plan. It total adjustments, credits and other charges there will be a credit for the tax paid on $39.99.  I asked Jack to confirm my record over the phone and if he shows I spoke with Lorena Lobato, Sarah Roberts, Charles Bowie.  He said that none of those people were recorded as assisting me.

I just got my most recent bill and the credit did not appear on that bill either.  Even more worrisome is that the total for the bill is unusually high again without a clear reason for why.

Ironically, in the time that it took me to chronicle my hatred of you, This American Life has since come out with Episode 253: The Middle of Nowhere which very much validates my theory that this is just phone companies do to customers and they hope that enough of them just get fed up enough to not follow up and accept being raped.

Act Two. On Hold, No One Can Hear You Scream.

This American Life senior producer Julie Snyder found herself in a ten-month battle with her phone company, MCI Worldcom, which had overcharged her $946.36. She spent hours on hold in a bureaucratic nowhere. No one seemed able to fix her problem, and there was no way she could make the company pay her back for all her lost time and aggravation. Finally, she enlists the aid of the national media—specifically, This American Life host Ira Glass.
You can register a complaint about a phone company at the Better Business Bureau or at the FCC. (22 minutes)

image

While my charges haven’t amounted, yet, to $946.36 and 10 months of phone calls, I feel as if I am on the same path and that I have been wronged in the same way as Julie.

There is also another thing, AT&T.  Yes, there is.
You always drop my calls.  Here is an example of a call from one of my recent bills available online that demonstrates my inability to have a conversation without dropping a call.

image

By looking at my bill in detail, I have estimated this happening 50% of the time with my phone calls.  Is this also part of my contract with you and guarantee of service?  WTF?

With that, AT&T, I am exhausted and I have fully professed my hatred of you for as long as I can stand.  Per the advice of This American Life I will be contacting the Better Business Bureau and the FCC to officially file a complaint against you.

AT&T, I hate you.

Sincerely,
Becky Pezely

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Talking Bird

Never seen anything like this in my life!  A bird that can talk, imitate other animals and do sound effects (like a space ship or someone falling).

Click to view video

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In Boston, You’re Family.

Having grown up near Boston, and now living on the west coast, I’m consistently confronted with the "age-old" debate about East Coat vs. West Coast (west sieeeed! <insert white-girl finger gestures here>).

The generalization I’ve always made is this:

On the west coast people are really friendly and it’s really easy to approach a perfect stranger, but it’s not often that you ever get to a deeper friendship or relationships.  Natives, especially, aren’t that interested in bringing you "into their fold".  There isn’t a pervasive sense of community support, it’s a bit more isolating and a more of a "you do what you want, i’ll do what i want, and we’ll kindly stay out of eachother’s business."

Comparatively, on the east coast it’s really hard to make initial contact and people aren’t immediately that friendly.  But, once you’ve spent enough time with people to become friends, you’re as good as family.  You’re community will know you and support you and they’ll also know what time you take a piss and gossip about it no matter what.

I won’t weigh in on one being better than the other.  I’ve grown with both long enough to say it’s just different and this video says a lot about "my people back home".  On Disability Awareness Day a man, with Autism, was singing the National Anthem at Fenway and go the giggle.  The Boston Community rose to the occasion:

The phrase, "It takes a village" comes to mind.
Love you Boston.

Thanks Maureen for sending this.

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I Snarfed Listening to This

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Here’s to women in technology

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