Frustration.

I like Google. I really do. And I am a frequent user of all of their software. But sometimes they frustrate even me.

Lately the source of that frustration has been their switch to a new version of Blogger, with a wholesale API change as well. It also seems to have broken some of the old Blogger support as well, and I’ve been seeing issues for months.

As the author of Bleezer, an offline blog authoring tool, that has caused me personal grief, not to mention the problems experienced by my users. And the users of other blogging tools that also ceased to work correctly.

Now there is a Blogger API help group, and the Blogger folks are trying to be helpful, but some things just do not work as advertised from what I am experiencing.

So if you are experiencingproblems with Blogger and Bleezer, rest assured that I am working on them as quickly as I can.

Technorati:

Powered by Bleezer

Misleading comparisons.

Why is it whenever I read an article about net neutrality, as in this Washington Post article, I always see the following US Postal Service comparison:

Blocking premium pricing in the name of neutrality might have the unintended effect of blocking the premium services from which customers would benefit. No one would propose that the U.S. Postal Service be prohibited from offering Express Mail because a "fast lane" mail service is "undemocratic." Yet some current proposals would do exactly this for Internet services.

Well of course nobody would propose that.Unless of course the US Postal Service mentioned that to provide the Express Mail service they would have to stop delivering first class mail for a while, until all of the express mail was delivered.

So as long as there is high margin express mail, then your simple letter is going to be ignored, or take much longer to be delivered. Now why doesn’t anyone point out that simple fact?

I know why. Because facts aren’t important here.After all, the internet is just a series of tubes, right?

The other example I often see trotted out is a medical one, and what do you know, it is in the same article:

When traffic surges beyond the ability of the network to carry it, something is going to be delayed. When choosing what gets delayed, it makes sense to allow a network to favor traffic from, say, a patient’s heart monitor over traffic delivering a music download.

Who could argue with saving a life? Just ignore the fact that virtually no medical information is actuallt sent over the net currently.

So why do I never see an example where California suddenly decides to make the 405 freeway into a toll road? After all, there are plenty of other freeways so that shouldn’t be a problem, right?

Net neutrality is a level playing field, one that has allowed the internet to become the valuable to that it is.If net neutrality had not existed, we simply wouldn’t be using the internet for anything today. It would not have evolved as a useful tool if it was only used by those who could afford to pay for it.

Don’t think so? Just name any internet advance created by a Fortune 100 company. I’ll wait.

Technorati:

Powered by Bleezer

When features are meaningless.

I’ve held the title of Product Manager several times. Virtually ever product manager likes to tell you about the features of their product.

I don’t.

That’s because I don’t think that customers give a damn about features. They care about how the product makes their lives better, or how it benefits them. Think of it this way – a 20 GB iPod (that’s a feature)lets me listen to something like 5000 songs (that’s a benefit). Flat panel TVs are a perfect example of this. Just show me anyone that can tell the difference between 720p and 1080p when they are looking at a TV. They look for a better picture.

Most product managers assume that a feature equals a benefit, though customers don’t always see it that way. So it’s always a good idea to think like a customer.

That’s why it’s embarrassing when a feature you think is great turns out to be meaningless for the customer.

It turns out that the biggest feature of Microsoft’s Zune audio player – music sharing – doesn’t work for all songs. In fact, it seems that only a bit more than half of your songs are shareable, and that is determined by the record companies, even if you paid for the songs.

Zune owners seem unfazed by this:

Some is better than none. As underwhelming as the 58% is, I need to remind myself… that figure is still 58% higher than would have been possible on any of today’s iPods. This is a groundbreaking music sharing approach, and it will only get better from here.

But the fact is that the promised featuredoesn’t provide the anticipated benefit. False comparison to an iPod, that never promised the feature anyway, means little.

The moral of the story? It you’re hyping some feature, then make sure it means something to your customer. And definitely make sure it really does what you say it does. All the time. No weasel words.

Technorati:

Powered by Bleezer

Life is a deadline-driven environment.

I was just looking at a job description. It had the standard list of requirements, including this one:

Focus in a fast-paced, deadline-driven environment

It occurs to me that we all should have that characteristic. After all, life is a fast-paced, deadline-driven environment. And we are all focused.

We start as children, working our way through school grade by grade, meeting deadline-driven expectations in order to proceed, all the while having our ability to imagine and dream beaten out of us.

Then we go to college so that we can prepare for the working world. Then we get a job. And then another. So that we can pay the bills, buy a house, start a family, grow old, and die.

We are all experts at focusing in a fast-paced, deadline-driven environment. So why are there no job descriptions that read:

Able to dream and imagine things as they could be

Technorati:

Powered by Bleezer

A different kind of branding.

A company called Somark Innovations has successfully tested RFID tattoos on cows, mice and rats:

The system developed by Somark uses an array of needles to quickly inject a pattern of dots into each animal, with the pattern changing for each injection. This pattern can then be read from over a meter away using a proprietary reader operating at high frequency.

This allows traditional branding of cattle, while minimizing pain and cosmetic damage.

Via Engadget.

Technorati:

Powered by Bleezer

What is your Sex ID?

No it isn’t really about sex. It might be more aptly titled gender ID, but this BBC quiz determines whether your brain works more like a female or a male. I took the quiz and apparently I have a balanced male/female brain.

I came upon the quiz via a blog post by Andrea Learned asking if your brain makes it easy for you to market to women. I guess this means that I should be capable of empathizing with women to get my marketing message across.

At least I’ve never thought of using women in bikinis to market anything. Of course, I’m not sure that would actually help to sell more software to men or women, so perhaps that’s a poor example.

I like Andrea’s idea though. I’ve noticed that men and women tend to approach marketing very differently. Men tend to tell you why you need the product, while women generally try to understand what you need first, and then explain the product. Of course I am wildly generalizing here, but it seems to me that if you want to market to women it would be a good idea to understand what they actually need.

Technorati:

Powered by Bleezer

The rising cost of mail.

It’s no wonder email and electronic bill payment are so popular when the cost to mail an actual letter is rising so quickly.

We currently live in Canada and like clockwork every January the postage rates increase. While the cost for domestic mail typically increases only by one cent (now 52 cents per letter), the cost of postage to the United States rose 9% (from $0.85 to $0.93) and the international rate rose 16% (from $1.25 to $1.55).

In fact, since we moved here from Boston four years ago the rate to the US, where most of our mail goes, has risen 55% (from $0.60 to $0.93). Though the mail doesn’t seem to get there any faster.

I’d hazard a guess that the real reason people don’t sit down to write a letter anymore is the huge increase in postal rates, and the general inconvenience of the postal system. With email I can compose my thoughts and have them to you in seconds. And you can reply just as quickly and conveniently.

I wonder if there will ever be a time when Miss Emily Post considers it proper etiquette to send a thank you email?

Technorati:

Powered by Bleezer