I’ve posted about 150 photos to Flickr from our recent trip to Rome. Here’s a few favorites:
I’ve posted about 150 photos to Flickr from our recent trip to Rome. Here’s a few favorites:
A few weeks ago I saw this full-page newspaper ad for Verizon’s Hub:
I’ve blown up the smaller text at the bottom:
The phrase “the home phone reinvented” reminds us that explaining a new product in terms of what it is replacing, enhancing, or integrating with is often a very effective way to help ground something new. But the ad works mostly by establishing a physical context (the kitchen) and a use case (distributed family communication and meal planning). The actual functional specs are presented almost as an afterthought in the footer and greatly in service of the “reinvented” aspect.
I was excited by this ad because it does a reasonable job at something crucial that so few companies are actually doing: explaining clearly what their product is and who it is for.
I don’t know if this product is a good idea or a bad idea; it’d be fascinating to see how new users begin to use it and what sense they make it of it. But it seems that this product team Verizon is at least half a step ahead of many technology groups out there who collect a bundle of technology together but fail to create a compelling story about why this matters.
- Jenny, Don’t Change Your Number; You Might Want to Sell It on eBay – The cultural entrenchment of Tommy Tutone's 1980s hit "867-5309 (Jenny)" is quite astonishing
From All Things Considered the remote California town of Iowa Hill will finally get land-line phone service. And their cell coverage is spotty, at best. The woman interviewed explains that people in the community have designated areas where there is cell reception as phone booths; a nice colloquialism since we’re likely to envision a purpose-built structure rather than a warchalked wooded area. She also describes the local 911-proxy: fire your gun three times in the air and hope someone comes to your aid.
Like the phone.
Last weekend I needed to set a wake-up call, and either introversion or bitter experience leads me to trust an automated service more than a human being, but even so, I always look on the phone for instructions on how to arrange for one.
Right. Press the button and you’ll either end up in the automated system or you’ll be speaking to someone who can handle it. I press the button, but nothing. Press again, nothing. I try the other buttons and they all simply click. The phone has special function buttons but they are unprogrammed.
Okay, all is not lost. The room has another phone in it.
But this phone has a different interface. Here we’re told to touch 77 (why is touch the verb, anyway?). Doing so brings me to the voice mail interface, which does not have any wake-up options.
Two phones, two different interfaces, both screwed up. I called 0 (or touched 0, if you prefer) and spoke to someone (shudder!) and it was handled.
It’s just a weird failure of attention-to-detail.
I blogged this before, back in 2004, but ah, technology. Actually a $5 cable is all I needed to be able to pull audio from a microcassette into my PC,
and onto Odeo, so that I can blog it here.
I received this voice mail a couple of years ago. It’s obviously misdirected, perhaps because of my Museum of Foreign Groceries which used to be displayed on this site. But that’s all packaged foods, so? Hard to figure out what the other person was thinking, but it’s funny anyway. Give it a listen!
Note: I’ve redacted the phone number to protect her privacy.
I wrote (a while back) about phone calls on airplanes, and was intrigued to see this news today
Verizon Airfone, whose handsets have graced the backs of airline seats for more than two decades, will end its phone service on commercial airliners before the end of the year.
Verizon Communications, Airfone’s parent company, has decided instead to focus on its faster-growing broadband, cellular and television businesses, Jim Pilcher, the director of marketing at Verizon Airfone, said yesterday.
Though Mr. Pilcher declined to say how many customers Airfone has, industry analysts said the service was rarely used. Verizon, they said, would have had to spend heavily to install newer, more compelling technology.
“The business they went after is the calling business, and the reality is no one sits on planes and makes calls,” said Jonathan Schildkraut, a telecommunications analyst at Jefferies & Company. Verizon has “much bigger fish to fry,” he said.
Airfone, which Verizon acquired when it bought GTE in 2000, has phones in about 1,000 planes operated by Continental, Delta, United Airlines and US Airways. The company will work with the airlines to figure out how to remove the phones and other equipment from the planes.
Airfone, which began service 21 years ago, is still exploring the option of selling the business. Mr. Pilcher declined to say whether his company had identified any potential buyers.
Airfone will continue to provide telecommunications services on about 3,400 corporate and government planes.
I’ve rarely seen the phones used, as their expert suggests. Do we think data services (i.e., get your laptop on the Internet while you fly) is a bigger fish? Is using your own personal cell phone a bigger fish? Maybe we’ll get seatback LCD screens in place of the phones. Or in-seat pretzel dispensers that could make use of the credit-card-swiping mechanism already in place?
A product I worked on a few years ago has launched! I worked with IDEO on what became the Avaya one-X Deskphone. I helped out a team of designers in doing some upfront research on how knowledge workers were using their various communication platforms (email, phone, cell phone, IM, and beyond). (Of course IDEO has tons of people that do this stuff, but they were all busy doing other projects at the time). They designed what seems like a pretty nice form (a significant upgrade from their previous phones) and a smart interface, at least from the demo on Avaya’s site.
It’s always cool when some work hits the market!
A landslide has disrupted telephone service on the Coastside from Montara to Pescadero.
It appears that no calls can be made to or from the Coastside, but that some calls are possible within the Coastside. Sprint and T-Mobile cellular service have also been disrupted.
The landslide – off Highway 92 at 10pm on Saturday night – took out an AT&T fiber optic cable to the Coastside. Sgt. John Gonzales of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office says that the outage is in a location where AT&T can’t take heavy equipment, but are crews are hiking in to fix the problem. He says there is no estimate when phone service will be returned.
We lost DSL about 9:30 last night. I was able to call some 800 numbers for tech support, and even a local number for dial-in access. Was wondering what the heck was wrong with our DSL; then this AM found that a neighbor had the same problem, so that’s reassuring when you find out the problem is bigger than just you (I gave up on SBC last night when the tech support person – which is a generous term) had me rebooting and telling me I would have to contact my router manufacturer since it was their fault – I hung up on ‘em). Now we see that the problem is really big.
Infrastructure here seems so fragile. Devil’s Slide/Highway 1 has been closed for a few weeks and they have no estimate of when it will re-open. Nearby SF is now an hour’s drive away, through much heavier traffic than we’re used to.
Every winter is filled with frequent power-outages. Our cable TV service is low-quality, noisy, and relatively unsupported. We have no cell coverage here. And today we can’t get phone calls in or our, and barely any Internet service. It feels landlocked and info-locked and it’s scary. Looks like email is the best way to reach me right now.
Update: Various news reports said that phone service was restored around dinner time, and our DSL came back somewhere between 9 and 10 pm.
Hong Kong, January 2006
I believe these are phone numbers, but what function are they serving? Interesting mysteries in foreign countries.
Update: as qiawen points out in the comments, these are ads for local services, such as a plumber or appliance repair person.
We’ve lived in this area called The Coastside for two years now, and I’m amazed and appalled at the lack of infrastructure. I’m not talking about roads and plumbing (though I’m sure those are issues; I just don’t know enough to complain about them). We don’t have sidewalks and we don’t have home delivery of mail. That may be seen as charming; but it’s getting a bit old for me.
We have no cell coverage. I can’t imagine that will change at any point.
Our Comcast cable television is terrible: image quality is consistently bad (with over-the-air artifacts like ghosting common on some very low channels) and audio is low volume and filled with hiss on higher channels. Recently, channel 3 went out completely. Comcast told many residents who called that they wouldn’t regard it as a real issue until they had reached a minimum number of service complaints that resulted in a scheduled technician visit. In other words, if you called in and told them about the problem, they would treat it as a local-to-you problem that didn’t require any action on their part until someone came and looked at YOUR house and eliminated that as the specific cause. It takes several days to get someone to come out and so it took a few days for Comcast to even acknowledge that they had a problem and to take any action to fix it. We pay the same as everyone else (if not more) for cable, and we get lousy service (both the product itself and the customer service).
Our power goes out many times each winter. For an hour, or for 7 hours. You never know, of course. It’s dangerous, inconvenient, stressful. We aren’t supposed to use the water when the power is out. There’s obviously some non-redundant connection that is very vulnerable to wind, wet soil, trees, or whatever. But PG&E is not investing in any infrastructure to develop a robust solution, so we’re stuck with frequent outages that leave a big section of Montara without power. Our power bills in Montara are ridiculously higher than other places we’ve lived.
Our telephone service is sub-par. Caller-ID information is often not received. A year or so ago I found that I would get a busy signal when calling the voice mail number – and that my own callers would often not be able to leave voice mail; instead having it ring and ring. It took a great deal of effort to get someone at SBC to acknowledge and fix the problem (they were out of circuits or something arcane). Last week we encountered terrible static when calling to Montara from outside of Montara. Calls to either of our home numbers from a cell phone or land line located elsewhere would be at best scratchy and at worst, unlistenable. I have reported this to SBC as have many other local residents. As with the cable, it’s being treated like a problem local to our own service, despite the fact that it’s not, but of course, we can only report our own problem. I was informed by SBC that they’ve checked and everything is fine. It’s not fine; my phone service is only semi-usable (I have to shout at my callers that I’ll return their call), and SBC has decided not to act. Of course, we pay the same fees to SBC that everyone else does.
Can you tell I’m fed up?