Lazysupper

Koenji, the world and elsewhere


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Dear @GooglePlus, stop asking about my friends

Google is like a goddamn mosquito buzzing in my ear. For a company founded on the core principle of simple, parsimonious user interface they’ve really lost sight of that.

Even though I have always hated Google+, I am trying to use it a bit more for some forums — sorry, that’s communities in Googlespeak — for Lightroom, Scrivener, etc. But every time I visit Google+ it is asking me to look for my friends.

Piss off, Google. If I want to look for friends I’ll look for my goddamn friends. I don’t need you poking me every five minutes like some annoying little brother. I understand that giving users the option to add connections is standard protocol when setting up a new service, but generally after you make your selection the first time they stop asking. They Do Not. Keep. Asking.

But Google+ seems so desperate to increase its floundering user base it feels compelled to ask about my friends every bloody time I access it. Even if I’m already logged in.

It offers two options:

  1. Spam your friends
  2. Spam your friends later.

They apparently have no qualms about keeping it more worthy of being called Google-.

Google-fuckyou

 

 

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Why Base CRM does not suck

basecrm_logo
With risk of looking like a prick to Customer Service workers everywhere, I feel this incident makes a nice follow-up to this morning’s earlier post. I recently signed up for a free trial of Base CRM’s Professional service plan, which is $45/month. Because they have (what has become a business standard) an “Opt-out” free trial, I determined the cancel-by date and marked down the day before on my calendar. It is something I always do (and something everyone should make standard practice) lest I find myself paying again for a year of e-greetings I don’t really want.

Well, my two week came and went and I didn’t really get to use Base CRM as much as I had wanted to. So when I went to cancel my trial the site recommended I downgrade to the $15/month plan for a two-week trial. I figured Why Not? So I cancelled my $45 subscription a day in advance of its automatic billing date and signed up for two weeks of the $15 plan.

The next day I received an email from Base CRM stating they had billed me $45 for my new Professional Plan. Still in the aggravated midst of getting shafted by Synology I immediately replied with the following email:

baseCRM001a

I had tried to be as pleasant as possible in my angered state… the whole “catch more bees with honey” thing and all. After pressing SEND, I had a moment of worry as I ran through last month’s sign-up process in my head. Like a murderer going over the crime scene, hoping he didn’t make a mistake. I realized I hadn’t taken a screenshot of my registration page (something I also try to do when signing of for Free Traps Trials). Still, I was ready to go battle. It’s not about the $45. It’s about the principle. I’d do the same for 45¢. I received an email reply from Victor at Base CRM within the day:

baseCRM001

I was taken aback, horrified almost. Was I on Hidden Webcam? With slight trepidation I decided to continue my trial. And thank Victor for not going to war.

baseCRM001c

Victor agreed. It’s not about the $45. He also followed up with a detailed, non-scripted, non-boiler plate reply to explain what had happened.

baseCRM001d

It is so nice (yet sadly uncommon) to encounter a business nowadays who does not treat their customer like the enemy.

It also helps that Base CRM makes a great product that lives up to its marketing.


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Why Synology Sucks

“Why Synology Sucks” is the title of one the threads on Synology’s user forums. I found it surprising the company allowed it to be posted. They had refused and deleted four of my posts, sending me this “Board warning issued” message:

synology sucks

While perhaps I didn’t write the most constructive posts, but I don’t think I was flaming. Here are my flames. And if that guy thinks that this is cursing…

This software is GARBAGE.
It split a DVD of a TV show into a bunch of separate videos. I have tried to edit “season” and “Episode” and connected it to the main show page… all for NOTHING.

I am regretting buying this CRAP.

I just got the Synology NAS yesterday and have had nothing but trouble. The ONLY good experience was one helpful guy in Customer Service in Seattle. Everything else has been a NIGHTMARE. They’re a bloody start-up, no? They should be good. But they SUCK.

Okay. That was pure frustration. But I had just bought their Network Attached Storage (NAS) hardware/software solution that they promote as a simple plug-n-play “personal cloud”. To say that is misleading is an understatement. So you can understand my frustration after trying to set it up for +10 hours.

I OBVIOUSLY want all the extras, interviews, etc. from my DVD of “The Bronx is Burning” under ONE MAIN SHOW HEADING.
This brilliant Video Station software has added each Extra and each Interview as a separate bloody show.
WTF???

Also frustrated, but ban-worthy?

I want my ANSWERS immediately. I don’t want to wait for some latte-sipping, pock-marked tech support to “approve” my post.
Is there a NON-SYNOLOGY Forum anyone recommends?

Insulting and argumentative, yes. But what “global” company has Customer Service (non-toll-free) from 9am to 4pm Seattle time?

I got a DS112j yesterday. Have spent hours fighting with it. An hour on the phone with Customer Service. Got a few things working. Went to bed. Woke up. Nothing works.

This software is TERRIBLE.

Cannot connect to Video Station.
Cannot connect to Audio Station.
Cannot connect to Media Server.
(And yes, my permissions are set.)
Everything is VERY SLOW.
ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE!

That is fact, not flame.


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Why people steal music (and other media). Part Two.

Dear Audible.com: Anything you’ve got in your store I can get on The Pirate Bay for free. And it is a whole lot easier and faster than you make it. So please tell me, why should I pay to go through all your bullshit? – Anonymous

I recently joined Audible after years of hearing it promoted on my favorite podcast, Hardcore History by Dan Carlin. I generally prefer to read books than listen to them, but due to recent events (and the offer of a free download) I decided to give audio books a try. Given that I already had an Amazon.com account, registering with Audible was simple enough. However, right off the bat I was weary. Audible required my credit card information AND after my free one-month trial, if I do not cancel my subscription, I am charged for a full month. On a monthly basis. Until I cancel it. I thought these “opt-out” or “negative option billing” systems were no longer employed by reputable companies. I guess Amazon doesn’t include Audible in its reputation portfolio.

Visa, the BBB, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced they have joined forces to alert consumers to online deceptive marketing practices associated with free trials with a negative option feature. – Silver Planet

Here are your rights and responsibilities (in Canada) concerning Negative Option Billing according to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. Negative Option Billing is no less shady than those pop-ups instructing people to “Click Cancel to stay on this page”.

The company also takes every opportunity to remind me that I need to update my credit card information, to the point where it feels like spam.

Undaunted yet cautious, I proceeded – but not before setting a reminder in my phone’s calendar for five days before the cancellation deadline. (NOTE: If a service requires you to set a reminder in your calendar to cancel said service – it’s generally best avoided altogether.) Once my registration was complete it only took me a few minutes to find something I felt I’d enjoy on audio book: “America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t” by Stephen Colbert. Using one of my two free book credits, “purchasing” the audio book was simple enough. But actually “receiving” the item was another thing altogether.

Seems clear enough

After my purchase was completed I went to “My Library” and clicked on the big orange DOWNLOAD button beside my new audio book. A file downloaded to my PC. It was quick and easy enough and I went to the download folder, double-clicked the file and… nothing. I checked the file size and saw it was too small. There must have been an error so I went to the big orange download button again. I got a new file. Same thing. So I went and took a long, hard look at Audible’s ‘My Library” page. There was an option to choose my preferred audio format, but that wasn’t the problem. i looked around the Audible website for an answer. For a good 30 minutes. And found nothing. So I did a web search and found some forums discussing (or mostly complaining about) Audible. Only there did I discover that I required the Audible Download Manager to actually get my audio book. Nowhere on the Audible site was this clear. There was no pop-up informing me to “Get The Audible Download Manager” when I clicked that big orange button. I was surprised that a company owned by Amazon – one of the pioneers of web-based business and key proponents of The Cloud – would require an install. It took 60 minutes for me to finalize that simple purchase – that would have taken 2 minutes on The Pirate Bay. Or on Amazon for that matter.

So after 60 minutes of aggravation and cursing I finally had my first audio book. I was now ready to enjoy it on my computer, phone or Kindle Fire. With my Kindle firmly plugged into my USB slot and recognized in Windows Explorer, I attempted to sync my Kindle with newly-installed Audible software. (The software, I might add, has a look & feel that looks and feels like it hasn’t been updated since the late-90’s.) Surprisingly, yet less so at this point, the software (by Amazon) did not recognize my hardware (also by Amazon). Eschewing the desktop client, I was in fact able to access my audio book via the pre-installed Audible app on my Kindle. No thanks to this useless software I was forced to install though. I assume the purpose of this Audible software program is to enforce their DRM. The audio books download in “filename.aa” (AudibleAudio) file format and are listened to via the Audible player.

Unable to connect my Kindle (the hardware made by the same company that owns the software), I had very low hopes for success in syncing my Samsung Galaxy S-III with my wonderful new Audible software. I was not prepared, however, for the jump back in time I experienced when selecting “Add New Device”. The UI issues aside, the list did not include any Samsung devices. Although, it did offer to sync with any Palm Handheld, SanDisk or RCA digital players I might have in the bottom of a closet somewhere. Perhaps they should change the wording just a titch to “Add Old Device”.

Once again abandoning this ridiculous, archaic desktop client, I downloaded the Audible player in the Android market directly from my phone. It’s a simple app so there’s not much to critique, although, it does not turn off the way I want. Its icon remains in the notification bar. It won’t even close when I KILL IT with a Task Manager, like every other app does. Only when I use Audible’s prescribed “Quit” button, does the app fully close. Now, a lot of people may not have issue with this, saying “Sure, use the Quit button to quit the app. Makes Sense.” And they are right. But this restrictive and specific way to exit the app exemplifies Audible’s linear, close-minded, customer-defocused way of thinking. It’s the “Have It Our Way” philosophy that Steve Jobs demanded at Apple. And Audible doesn’t make any shiny products to attract customers, so it may not be the best strategy for them.

In a world of pay-per-use, view-on-demand and download-easily-but-illegally-for-free options, Audible offers its customers the amazing flexibility to choose from three different memberships: $14.95/month, $22.95/month, or $149.50/year. This is where they diverge slightly from Apple’s totalitarianism. At least you can get an iTunes account for free and pay only for your purchases. Audible wants to charge its customers money regardless if they use it or not. It’s a paid subscription, like the New York Times, except that you can access and read a lot of the New York Times for free, Audible is much more expensive, and Audible doesn’t actually create anything. Paying 15 bucks a month to Audible is like paying a cover charge to enter a book store. And who would do that?

I have four days left in my “free trial” subscription to Audible. I will, without a doubt, cancel it and never buy anything from Audible. Not that I’m a huge audio book (or ebook) fan anyway. I still prefer the look, feel, and smell of paper and card stock. But I do not understand how the execs at Audible think this is how they are going to remain competitive and relevant. For a purely digital business, they’ve surprisingly got a very brick & mortar mentality.


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Hands-on first impression of Windows 8

I was meandering through Shinjuku’s massive Yodobashi Camera complex yesterday and obviously could not avoid the fifty million posters, signs and other various adverts informing me that Windows 8 is to be released this Friday (October 26, 2012). I have actually been looking forward to it as I am a “Windows Person”. I don’t like Macs and never will. And I’ve never had much interest in Ubuntu or any other OS my techie friends tell me is “kind of like Windows but a billion mega-times better because Linux fucking rules.”

I’ve also had Vista for the past three years, three months and 15 days. And yes, it feels like I’m confiding a disease when I write that. It was the early days of Summer 2009, I was in desperate need for a new laptop, and could not put off the purchase the few months required to wait for Windows 7. To make matters worse, the laptop I ended up buying was an HP Pavilion dv7. I had no idea that “HP” was an acronym for “Hot Plate”, but that’s what I get for not doing enough pre-purchase research. It’s my fault and has nothing to do with HP selling me a piece of shit. So, here I find myself again, three years down the road, looking for a new PC. However, through a lot of time, personal effort and anguish on my part, I’ve managed to keep the Hot Plate running and can wait for the stable retail release of Windows 8 before I buy my next disappointment.

Hearing that Windows 8 is a brand new operating system, built on some kind of Super Kernel for all platforms – desktop, tablet, smartphone, etc. – I must admit I’ve waited with slight-to-mild anticipation for its release. I was therefore pleased to see that Yodobashi had a version installed on the floor model of a touchscreen laptop, even if it was in Japanese. I gave it a touch here and gave it a touch there and then I looked for the button to touch to Go Back. I could not find it but I kept my cool (in spite of being mildly OCD when it comes to UI) and asked a nearby staff how to go back a screen. She then pointed to the button. On the fucking keyboard. Replete with a sticker pointing to it. And I felt all the hope I had for this OS and for Microsoft go out of me like air out of a whoopee cushion. I hope this was just due to the staffer not knowing anything about Win 8. If not, where can I download Ubuntu?