Not so Christmas technology whining

First of all – Merry Christmas (and eventually Happy New Year considering my last blogging pause) to you all. I’m sitting in my living room, son is ill and sleeping sooner than expected (mid-day) and wife is cooking something for the evening. And I decided to report about just a few technology problems I met recently – and I think it’s shame that I had to. Often I just ask “how this can happen in 21st century?” But it probably will again in 22nd too – in a way.

I’m just listening to Christmas songs and I realized I started to like them recently – not sure if because I’m getting old or what – or because I sing them occasionally at a music school. Probably both. So let’s see my little stupid technical issues in random order:

Amazon restrictions (not only, and maybe Amazon is not to be blamed)

And we’re getting to the first problem I encountered lately – today actually. Amazon wrote me previously that I have some free credit to download some songs for my previous shopping. Nice, I grinned. Today I really wanted something – The Priests and their Little Drummer Boy. But Amazon said “sorry, but it’s not available in your country”. Yeah, no wonder, who would sell music here – to Slovakia where we still live on trees or what. Whatever. Of course I will listen to that song today. There are alternatives.

Skype is so annoying (no news here)

I wanted to download Skype client for my mom and was lead through Czech page (which was OK), but needed do log in on web before I could get the client itself. Never happened to me before, it’s annoying and stupid. I want direct download link! Is it really your mission to annoy your users recently? (Automagic ebay related toolbars and stuff, window open after start in Windows 7… what’s wrong with you guys?) Of course: “Just don’t use it!” The trouble is my family does.

I reported part of it via some Skype support form and after submitting I saw: “Thanks so much. We’ll learn a lot from that comment.” Well, I hope so. 🙂

Google Calendar sends notifications, Google Mail puts them into Spam

Title says it all! For this I missed my last football game with friends this Wednesday. It was different day than others Wednesdays and our son got fever too and in all that mess I forgot and there was nothing to remind me. My new HTC Wildfire wasn’t set with alarm yet… but back to the problem. Isn’t it ironic? Google sending emails from their service just to end up in Spam of Google mail? So you rather want to white-list notification address.

HTC Wildfire difficulties with answering calls

I carry my phones in pockets – actually as most people around me. Otherwise you have to have it in some bag or on your belt (I don’t wear belts). Soon I noticed that my new HTC Wildfire has real problems with answering calls very often. Googling revealed many other people have the same problem – and many others don’t believe them. 🙂 (“When I don’t have the problem, you can’t have it either… you’re stupid and don’t know how to use your phone.” Or similar.) In one thread there was that idea that it somehow relates to carrying the phone in one’s pocket. And indeed – it always happened when I pulled it from my jeans. It was easy to demonstrate it. Now I’m in talks with HTC support. I’m curious how will it end. (And for those curious – it’s vanilla HTC Wildfire, no branding, Andorid 2.2.)

I could go on with many other issues related to Android or this phone, but funny enough – I just like it enough to adjourn these for some other post. But as you probably agree answering calls is kinda essential feature. And “don’t carry it in your pocket” is not the right answer.

Another wannabe spammer – Kongregate

After 9 Dragons also Kongregate network showed how NOT to it. It’s funny that big corporations (where my subscriptions is much more important and often related to my profession) can live with direct unsubscribe links and obscure sites (I sometimes register to for whatever reason) starts sending their newsletters often after some longer time, I have no idea what the hell the site is about and I have to log in to fix the situation. But I think it’s fair to let them know. So I wrote them on their support form:

Please include Unsubscribe link from email that works without login. I had to renew my password after you started to send me emails after a few months. I can’t understand why some can’t do it properly. So often notifications start to pour from service I hadn’t hear about for months (often years) and when I need to stop them, I have to spend more time than I wished to to do so. Please, for the sake of other random users of your service, do it better.

And some positives?

There are many, we just don’t notice them so easily – because they don’t angry us, right? Not sure since when, but YouTube now allows for unlisted videos. Exactly what I wanted to share videos with my family. You can’t imagine how difficult it is to instruct mommy how to register and become my friend on YouTube. This made my day.

And as we started we will end: Merry Christmas however you like it. 🙂


Turn your newsletters into spam!

You have a company and you send newsletters to your customers, subsribers, whatever? I offer you easy way how to turn them into spam! Oh… you don’t want that!

It has been some time I’ve heard about Acclaim and their free-to-play MMORPG 9Dragons. I tried it, I didn’t like it so much so I quite playing the game. Long time before PWI – more than a year, maybe even two. I never received any emails from them – except maybe some registration that is deleted already – as I clean up my mails here and there.

I don’t mind, I was surprised (“what the hell is that?”) but then I recalled about the game and I consider it OK. I scrolled down… “unsubscribe, unsubs… there is no unsubscribe!” I don’t know what happens if you report the mail as a spam and you’re alone – it’s probably no big deal. I don’t know what happens when many people on Gmail do that. I guess that at least on Gmail future recipients wouldn’t see that mail in their Inboxes at all. Is that what you want?

I deleted it for now, next time forgotten service with their newsletter without unsubscribe option goes to Spam.

BTW: Please… don’t make me login (like some other service wanted me to) just to confirm that process. It means I have to request forgotten password first!

Googleized or Googlized?

Doesn’t matter really. Even Googelized can be found with Google – and every form has its foundation. I’ll stick with Googleized – because it contains Google in its fullness.

Of course I used Google to find something on web before, but my full Googleization started when I decided to be invited to Gmail. I always had something against webmails – because they were not usable. I lost few mails because of session expiration and sometimes the service was not even accessible. Gmail got me. Auto-saved drafts, very strong usage of JavaScript that wasn’t obtrusive – on the contrary – everything was aimed to make things easier, faster, better… googlish, you know.

From Gmail to other services

Reliable service (hm, I have to admit, that I found my Gmail inaccessible sometimes too – but only for a short while) is not the only thing that makes Gmail winner in my eyes. When I grasped the label system, found out that not single mail but conversation is what really matters and few other things that changed my perspective of emails – that was that moment when I realized that Google is more. And can be even more. When I grew together with my Gmail, I started to use it even for things it wasn’t intended for. When I needed to write map review in English (that isn’t my first language as you can see ;-)) I used drafts for it. Because of aforementioned auto-save feature and because of spell checking.

When Google Spreadsheets came out I thought to myself: “Now only some notes or whatever where I can create documents with auto-save and spell check.” And guess what… few weeks later it’s called Google Docs&Spreadsheets and I’m writing this post in this application. OK, now I’ve found “check spelling” icon in Blogger, but still I feel more comfortable with this wide window, familiar Gmail/Google look&feel – and after all – there is no problem with copy&paste into Blogger’s post. At least I’m not aware of any. 😉 Maybe some problem will appear when I start to use more features and more text formatting.

Now I’m happy user of Calendar, I started to flirt with Photos/Picasa and – as you may notice – with Blogger too. 😉 And currently my fresh Google Desktop is indexing my computer. Well – how far this can go? And – is it only good? Well… I don’t want to discuss philosophical questions here. I’m open human being and I kinda don’t care what is known and what is not. I let you (anyone) to know things about me. And I know that when I really don’t know something to be know, it’s not to be discussed on Internet anywhere. I don’t consider Google better or worse than other common services in terms of information security. Again – I’m not touching technical aspects of the topic – it’s always up to your feelings to decide what can be said and what not. And where. I simply don’t care in most things. And most of us is not so important anyway. 😛 Ah… too much words for a topic I didn’t want to bring here at all. 😉

Can it be better?

Let’s return to technical level – or at least to level of user’s experience. Can this be better? Well – YES – obviously. It would be really bad if it can’t be better, right? Now some concrete/specific things. Many services display cool “services list” (or how to call it) in the left top corner. When you are on yours docs index, you can see it. You can see it in Gmail, you can see it in Calendar – in these two applications you can even see it all the time (I hope) which is cool. I can switch to another Google domain anytime. Well – not really. Because right now – editing this text – I don’t see this bar. And another magical thing is its content. When I was in Gmail I saw Groups, when I was in Docs&Spreadsheets I saw also Photos – but no Groups. I wasn’t using any of this. Now I used Group for one post about my First Google Desktop experience and Groups are still shown only in Gmail. But when I used Photos today for the first time it started to appear in both applications. Strange.

I want this “service bar” visible all the time. With first link Google showing being not default Google, but personalized one. And I want it stable and customizable to some extent. E.g. let the Gmail link be pointing to HTTPS version instead of plain HTTP one (this is not my case, but I can pretty imagine such a wish). Maybe I should only wait few weeks like was the Docs’ case. 😉

Another thing is that you can enter any service with Gmail account, but it’s not real single sign-on. I have “remember me on this computer” checked on – and so I have no problem with this. But my mate uses to log into the Google/Gmail (he simply doesn’t have that habit to save passwords on computers) – and he has to log again into distinct services.

And let’s go even further (and still not too much – we’re not talking about sci-fi, only about things that my surprise us when Google made us so comfy before ;-)): Why I have to enter some profile on Groups when it wants to know exactly the same things like some services before?

Beware! It’s beta!

Yes. It’s true. Most things are claimed to be beta or even in Labs stadium. If I take this into consideration I have to be more patient – I know. It’s really simple – Google sometimes surprise me with “oh, this is not working yet?” when so many things are working so nicely, intuitively, etc, etc… add your favorite superlatives. You can argue about policies (claimed vs. real one that you can’t know anyway ;-)), you can discuss security or even crisis in global society – but you have to admit that Google is changing our world of information. Not so slowly and – that’s for sure – with new perspectives upon these information. With technical innovations. And even if they are not really first, they are often first able to really deliver.

And that counts. And so I am Googleized and it’s getting worse.