Saturday, June 22, 2013

(Mostly good) ‘Tech Saturday

ElectronicsThe best news this week is a report that the FAA is going to loosen its ban on use of electronic devices during take-off and landing.  I  first read it in my favorite Dutch daily, Metro, and the decision could come as early as New Year’s.  Radiating devices like MP3 players, digital cameras, and eBook tablets were likely never a threat.  Broadcasting devices GSM or WiFi are a more likely culprit, but authorities were making no distinctions.

It’s always been hard for me to rationalize, especially when the bans were applied selectively by cabin (I was seldom challenged in Business class) and airline (RyanAir applied the rules with relish).

CoffitivityI do a lot of work in coffee shops, and research suggests that for creative work, the background hum of conversation can be a stimulus. Coffitivity brings the coffeeshop ambience to your workdesk for those times when you need the social fix (and it doesn’t prevent your concentration).

It’s a cute idea: I find I prefer it to white noise, nature sounds, and new-age music.  I wonder how it would work in place of wind chimes in spas?

Folders and TagsI want to backup my Window Live emails, and considered simply forwarding them to a parallel GMail account.  I discovered two significant differences: Folders are replaced by Tags, and Deletion is replaced by Archiving.  I didn’t find either change easy to work with. 

It seems easier to open a dedicated file space for messages about business or family, instead of applying filters.  A recent study also concludes that folders provide an effective way to manage workflow and inbox clutter.

And there’s something creepy about never being able to delete an email  – ‘but that might just be me.   Post-PRISM.

RSS GraffI ran into a minor problem with RSS Graffiti, which posts RSS feeds to Facebook pages, likely just a configuration or server issue.  however, the vendor uses a “Community-powered support” site, Get Satisfaction. that’s a nightmare of registrations, emails, and spam.   The site is full of public complaints, unanswered. 

For $5 per month, RSSGraffiti offers the option to avoid the forum to exchange emails.  Awful: I have uninstalled the app.  This is a poster child for bad customer support.

In contrast, the Financial Times rolled out a buggy update last weekend.  I sent feedback, and got a an email asking for follow-up information the next day, and a phone call with a fix an hour later.

Excellent customer support is possible and some companies do it.

IFTTTFinally, I am playing with a beta of another service called IFTTT, an acronym for ”IF,  This Then That”. It works with a lot of social and information media services to pipe data according to a rule. Think ‘trigger and result’: “If the chance of rain is >80%, send me an SMS”.  

It takes a bit of time to configure services and test rules, but it looks like a promising idea, continually improving.

Usual disclaimer: These are experiences and products that I use; nobody has asked or incented me to write these comments.

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