March 27th, 2012
In serving customers, reading news, and visiting message boards, I’ve learned there are many in my profession who don’t know how to properly serve customers. Most of the time, it’s a simple matter of the tech support representative not having enough soft, “people” skills. I’ll admit this was difficult for me at first, but one I do feel I’ve learned more than most.
Another big issue is from those companies which outsourced their tech support to some other company (or country in many cases). The problem with this is not having enough control over the product (in this case, end-user support) being delivered to their customers. Sure, it may be cheaper on the books, but at what cost to your reputation? This article shows a prime example of how this can go bad.
The makers of Avast antivirus outsourced their tech support to a company which was then telling customers they had other issues and needed to subscribe to additional services to keep their computers clean. I’ve seen a similar tactic used with many scareware titles to tell you how screwed up your computer is (or how infected). This blog post goes into much greater detail on the issue.
In Avast’s defense, it appears they’ve dropped the irresponsible support company. This should go a great deal toward fixing their reputation as a result.
March 23rd, 2012
Depending upon the situation, I’ve been using either Microsoft’s SyncToy, 2BrightSparks’s SyncBack, or Cobian Backup. However, I’ve encountered what I consider a serious deficiency in SyncToy. If anything changes with the backup drive (e.g. the drive letter changes), you cannot change it within SyncToy. Instead, you must create a new folder pair.
I generally preferred SyncToy over the free version of SyncBack as it wouldn’t spontaneously add new folders which were under a folder tree not being backed up. SyncBack would usually be my alternate in the event SyncToy wouldn’t install for some reason (usually this would be on computers which I was going to be reformatting and needed to extract the existing data). However, SyncBackSE (currently $34.95 as of this writing) is extremely configurable with a great amount of flexibility in the backup set. It’s probably the only backup software I’d buy for most entry-level uses.
Cobian is an awesome backup for people who have a desktop computer with a permanently attached backup drive. It’s nearly commercial in its capabilities and interface.
So, I went on a search for a replacement for SyncToy and came across FreeFileSync by way of AlternativeTo.net. It’s a little quirky (but what software isn’t?), but so far seems to be a much more workable replacement for SyncToy than SyncBack was. Some things to consider, if you’re trying to configure a consistent backup routine, make sure to right-click on an object (either a file or directory) and select “Exclude via filter” so that object is not backed up in the future.
So, it looks like my repertoire will consist of FreeFileSync, SyncBack, and Cobian Backup, depending upon the situation at hand.
March 21st, 2012
After reading this article, I was completely flummoxed. I thought I’d seriously entered the Twilight Zone and I should expect Rod Serling to be in the hall just out of sight, cigarette in hand.
The number of things wrong with this whole situation are too numerous to mention, but I’ll start with the big ones. For starters, what I do on a social media site is my business only. If I only share things with a select group and not publicly, again, that’s my business. The next, and likely bigger issue, is that most people still use the same credentials to log in to EVERY site they visit. I’ve rambled on this issue before, but it really hits home here.
I just can’t see the justification a company might reasonably use to ask for these kinds of credentials. Mind you, I know what they want. They want to see if you’ve been posting anything which would be potentially damaging or embarrassing which might create a distraction on the job.
A less invasive option is by the employers who want you to “friend” a human resources “person” so they can have a look at what you publish for friends, but not open publicly. I’m not certain I’d consider this option, but my response to give up important login credentials would likely give them cause to never hire me in the first place.
What would happen if you created a profile just to give the prospective employer who might ask for this? How would they know if you didn’t tell them?
I’m getting a little disjointed here as I’m really irritated by the idea of this being considered “okay” by any company.
That being said, if you post something publicly which could prove to be an embarrassment later, you should have considered your original actions a little better. Now, we all make mistakes, and I believe our stories as related to realizing our actions were mistakes and adjusting ourselves accordingly could show show people how we’ve improved and are likely to fix our errors as time goes on.
March 18th, 2012
Last month, a settlement was reached with LCD makers under the idea they were conspiring to fix prices. Approximately $500 million will be put into the fund to be distributed to those who purchased a monitor or notebook computer containing one of the LCD units.
I found details at this article which goes into more detail. It also lists the states which are included in the class-action. Sadly, my state is not one of them (nor did I live in one of them when I did purchase a potentially qualifying product), so I cannot see what’s coming to me.
I long since stopped being surprised at what large corporations would do. If price fixing did occur, it would be another in a long line of bad things corporations are hated for doing.
If you believe you are part of this class, you can go to lcdclass.com to register.
February 26th, 2012
Late last year, Apple issued a recall on their first generation iPod Nano. It seemed crazy to me that a five year-old iPod was being recalled, but who am I to argue at such a thing? I happened to have had one of these and I can relate my experience in getting it replaced.
The first step is to follow the instructions on the iPod recall site to see if your iPod qualifies. Assuming yours does, fill out the necessary information so Apple can send you a return box. Then wait. In my case, I had to wait about three weeks before the box showed up. Unfortunately, there was no status update for me during this time to let me know the box was on its way. I just showed up one day.
After you’ve sent it back to Apple, the status will eventually change to let you know they’re determining a course of action. Again, in my case, it took about three weeks before they sent my replacement.
I’d read a couple of articles around the time I sent mine in to suggest that I’d get an identical unit as a replacement. This would have been fine. I’d basically get a battery refresh if that was the case. However, I got a current (sixth generation) model instead. This increased the capacity from its original 4GB (then, the top of the line) to 8GB (the current entry level). I was disappointed to find the address book and calendar functions were not present on the new model. I relied on these quite heavily and I would need to find some other way (or buy a different iPod).
On the plus side, there are a number of companies which make watch-bands so you can use your iPod Nano as a high-tech watch. I’ll probably be getting one of those in the not too distant future.