Thursday, August 25, 2011

How big a deal was Steve Jobs?

Not nearly as big as some media knuckleheads are saying immediately after Jobs retired for health reasons.

David Pogue mentions these products:
- iMac: What's its market share?
- iPod: Was it really that different from a Sony of my owny?
- iPhone: smartphone; so what?
- iPad: big iPhone without the phone.

Pogue also mentions these industries:
- music: I'll give you that one.
- TV: what?  Apple TV?  Is this a joke?
- movies: Pixar Animation - OK a little
- software: Safari?  
- cellphones: Did Jobs invent them?  I didn't think so.
- cloud computing: late, old fashioned and not free; so far only MobileMe; See Google Docs.

Jim Kramer said Jobs may have been the greatest industrialist in history.  Say What?  How about Bell or whomever you want to credit with inventing the telephone?  How about Henry Ford or your favorite fill in the blank for starting the auto industry?  Blah, blah, blah.

Jobs created hula hoops for people with too much disposable income who flattered themselves for making him filthy rich by overpaying in the extreme.

Plus, what process is at Apple Computers for continuing its recent success without Jobs instinct and his personal cult following?

Closed proprietary systems are dead.  Long live open systems.  Apple will sink on its next failure. Power to the people!  Down with the tyrants of industry ... like Jobs!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Verizon, Motorola, Google: please improve my mobility.

- Verizon workers are on strike.

- Google is buying Motorola Mobility.

- Can these three companies improve my personal mobile computing?

Verizon workers are striking primarily because Verizon appears to have blundered in spending gazillions of dollars on fiber optic infrastructure to millions of homes for its FIOS, which is not generating enough revenue to justify the capital investment.  Verizon Wireless is now subsidizing the Verizon land line business, rather than the other way around, and Verizon is seeking givebacks from its land line workers.  Verizon should have let the land line business wither away and migrated to wireless.

I hope Verizon gets this worked out.  I have Verizon FIOS at home for video and Internet and Verizon Wireless for voice service.

I have the original Motorola Droid running the Google Android OS.

Now that my brief and massively disappointing flirtation with Virgin Mobile crashed, I had started to again lament the disappointing aspects of good old Verizon Wireless:
- high monthly service charges
- unimaginative billing options
- unimaginative smart phones.

I have received e-mail messages from Sprint and ATT Wireless offering newer Motorola smart phones: Photon 4G and Atrix 4G.  My two year commitment to Verizon Wireless expires in November 2011 and I can upgrade now but there's no Motorola smart phone offered by Verizon Wireless that I want, just newer versions of the original Droids.

Maybe the Google acquisition of Motorola's smart phone division will help.  My initial reaction was to approve but the more I think about it I wonder how Google can leverage this into an advantage.  Tight integration between the Android OS and Motorola would be great but Google must at least pretend that it will keep Motorola at arms length so as not to alienate Google's other business partners such as HTC, LG and Samsung.  This arms length thing does not seem to work.  See Palm, Inc.  Or Microsoft with Office and Windows.

Tight integration between hardware and software is Apple's biggest advantage.  That and customers who are mesmerized into buying outrageously overpriced products that have made Apple more flush with cash than the federal government.  Instead of finally being outraged Apple customers just admire Apple all the more.  What saps.

Google won't take over Motorola smart phones until early 2012 so it's unlikely any big announcements will be made at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Virgin Mobile cancelled!

And its Motorola Triumph Android smartphone returned.

VM activated my Motorola Triumph thinking it had finally charged my credit card after four days even though my bank had that transaction pending.  Unfortunately, only voice service worked, no Internet.  I called last night and got the usual treatment: give me your secret password so that I can access your account.  I said, just make the phone work.  VM never could so I cancelled.

What a joke.  Good old Verizon Wireless never looked so good.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Virgin Mobile finally figured out how to charge a credit card,

I guess VM has been dealing for too long with old ladies and criminals, topping up their accounts with cash cards.

My Virgin Mobile Motorola Triumph Android smart phone is charging so I have not been able to activate it. It won't let me use it during the charging operation, which is different from my Motorola Droid.  I'm also a bit concerned that the battery had drained even though I have hardly used it for days.

If Virgin Mobile through the Sprint network functions well, I'll make the switch from Verizon Wireless.  VW to VM.  Could be cool.  I hope so.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Returning Dell laptop

I'm on hold waiting for RMA for a Dell 17 inch Inspiron laptop 64 bit Windows7 PC.

Dell tried to bribe into keeping it.  The guy in India offered $35.  When I turned it down he offered $40.  I rejected that.  Then he offered $45.  I was incredulous.  I insisted that I wanted to return it.

Dell is charging me 15% restocking fee.  The PC cost $750, so it will come to about $112 but Dell pays for shipping.  I asked why it was a percentage because the $500 version of this PC won't cause Dell to do any more work than reloading the image of the $750 PC.  The guy didn't know.

He then told me that there's also a 15% restocking fee for returning my extra the battery, which shipped separately.  I asked why since the battery is dead and merely needs to be placed back on the shelf.  He didn't know.

The PC arrived unable to connect via WiFi.  I spent over an hour on the phone the other day with Dell support getting it to work.  I did not get paid for that.  The next day Windows7, a huge mess, needed to add 32 updates.  In other words I'm returning the PC in better shape than I received it.

Dell also adds tons of its own mess to the Win7 mess.  Next time I'll check Acer, Asus, etc.  At least they won't load up unneeded software.

I'm very disappointed in Dell, although it doesn't compare to the ongoing nonsense with Virgin Mobile.

25 minutes: still waiting for the guy to come back from break.  Maybe these companies hope that the customer will give up.  At the Dell web site I filled out a form to return.  I thought: hey, pretty easy.  A couple of hours later I received e-mail stating that I that I would get another e-mail.  The second e-mail stated that I had to call to return the laptop.  Companies cannot be that incompetent.  It must be a way to get the customer to give up.  I had to provide the order number three times.

I'm still on hold.  It's 30 minutes.

35 minutes: the guy came back to ask for the order number for the extra battery.  Can't he see all that on my account?  I'm back on hold.  I'm not getting paid for this time.

50 minutes: he came back.  I mentioned that states that the customer should accept the delivery even if he intends to return it because not accepting would delay.  The Dell guy said that dell would charge me a 15% restocking penalty either way.  I expressed my displeasure and he said he would note that.  I told him to tell Dell to read my blog as I was documenting these events.

55 minutes.  The call is over.  That's about two hours of my time dealing with Dell after receiving the PC.

Virgin Mobile is run by clowns and/or 15 year olds.

I tried the Virgin Mobile Motorola Triumph Android smart phone using WiFi.  I had read about 5 reviews, two of which stated that the screen was sometimes not responsive.  I have noticed the same thing.  My Verizon Wireless Motorola Droid Android smart phone also has that problem and the right side of the portrait touch keypad has become unusable.  Maybe Mobile has a problem.  Maybe all phones do.

Even though both my Motorola Android phones are running the same version of the Android operating system with no extra shell the settings are only about 80% the same.  This came as a surprise.

I finally decided to try the Sprint network via Virgin Mobile.  The Motorola Triumph has an app to activate service.  I tried it several times and it could not connect to the network.

I went to the Virgin Mobile web site and filled in all the info to activate, including credit card to make monthly payments.  I was assigned a phone number and instructed to turn on the phone to complete activation.  Again it failed to connect to the network.

I called Virgin Mobile and managed to plow through its awful call prompting system.  I was told that Virgin Mobile could only access my account with my secret PIN.  I refused to provide it.  I then said just cancel my account.  My PIN was required to access my account in order to cancel it. I asked to speak to a supervisor who told me all this same nonsense.

The supervisor said that the problem was that my credit card did not "top off" my Virgin Mobile account.  This is further confirmation that Virgin Mobile has a corporate culture geared to old ladies and criminals who do not want to pay a fixed monthly fee.

The supervisor asked for my permission to again attempt to charge my credit card.  I agreed just to see what would happen.  The supervisor said it failed again and that she would refer it to another group that would take 24-72 hours to resolve the matter.  She provided a reference number which I was required to write down because Virgin Mobile would not send it by e-mail.  She told me to call Virgin Mobile in a couple of days to find out what happened.

Maybe Virgin Mobile was designed by high school kids who saw how their parents did stuff like this but never really did it themselves and only got it partly right.  What a joke.

Apparently Sprint does not give Virgin Mobile direct access to its billing system.  That's probably why Virgin Mobile needs a customer's individual PIN to access the customer's account.  Virgin Mobile is accessing it as though Virgin Mobile was the customer.  Obviously this is a huge security breach.