Monthly Archives: August 2014

Tech Savvy and Served

1 Tech Platter
Word of mouth sales are no longer limited to the “picket fence” conversation between neighbors. Social media has empowered consumers, but it also weakened the position of “the customer is always right”.

Not so long ago, when you purchased a gadget and it didn’t work, you’d complain. There was an expectation of satisfaction; and sometimes this was guaranteed in writing. It was understood, that if you kept the store receipt, a return within seven days of the purchase, with original packaging would guarantee you an equal exchange or a full refund. No questions, no arguments and without a restocking fee.

Back then, the link between a business’ success and a customer’s satisfaction were closely woven. It was a mature market that kept loyal customers loyal by making good products. The operative word “good” implied integrity– a Maytag machine, a Craftsmen tool and a Peterbilt truck were made to last.

I can’t say when this changed, but it did. Technology with its lightening pace warranted change, and miniscule sizes pushed out products that had their own legacies, called generations. And while the housing remained the same, the processor inside changed.

Generally, the improvement wasn’t fully tested but the product was released and onto store shelves; along with slight glitches and other failings, that if passed under the consumer radar was an “oh, well” shrug of doing business.

Now we accept updates, even expect there to be a few with each new product. Those patches that fix new technology have effectively blocked my complaint in mid-sentence. So, the consumer’s displeasure mostly goes unnoticed, because the problem was already logged and acknowledged before the products were shipped out!

The only thing left for me to complain about is how my smartphone’s battery doesn’t hold a charge. And it’s not because I’m always talking, texting or checking status, but instead it’s the result of all those push notifications that the companies send out in an effort to patch and update my cellphone… to keep it smart and me dumb.

Customer service served.

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Filed under Consumers, Marketability, profitability, social media, tech, Telecommunications

Welcome to the Digital Divide

1 Range Circuit_Board
For years, the digital world seemed to be just up ahead; a futuristic place that existed beyond our dreams and over a mountain, like a rainbow. It culled our imaginations, and made us ask “What if?”

The digital divide seemed accessible by car and markings on the roadway, those dashes painted on the asphalt guided us along, by keeping us in our respective lanes. It was orderly, like life itself.

Trees flew past so fast that they didn’t resemble themselves, instead the blurred images helped fuel our curiosity. From the car’s window we pondered life and the big blue marble, called earth. Road trips had that effect. And when we returned to school we’d have questions, like “What does a cloud taste like?”

On Monday morning, we’d gather in the schoolyard and whisper; a discussion about which questions should be brought up in class; the probable, the impossible and the iffy-iffy.

One student would ask a question, the teacher would answer and then someone else would ask a question. Like a string of pearls in a leap frog fashion- a question led to an answer to a question and another and so on; until finally the bell rang. The class would end and the teacher wouldn’t have taught us anything; and somehow, we felt empowered by the disruption.

It was especially exciting when the teacher realized, albeit too late, that he’d been duped into answering pointless questions. It validated our cleverness and added meaning to our lives. A harmless prank, one in which we delayed progress, that is the day’s lessons and entertained ourselves.

And it’s about to begin again, but this time there’s more at stake. It’s not simply a question of what a cloud tastes like, but rather what exactly can a cloud do with big Data?

Deciding that and what questions to ask isn’t as provocative, as the next question, that is: “How do we protect our information?” and “What information is worth protecting?” and “Is a data breach the only way to know the difference?”

Welcome to the digital divide, a disruption in progress.

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Filed under Big Data, Coding, Consumers, social media, tech, technology

For Another Time

clock pandora 31
I was listening to music on the radio, when the Dee-Jay invited listeners to call in with their stories.

One young woman called in to say that she had recently lost 150 pounds. Happiness oozed from the airwaves. She said that after years of being teased and bullied; she had been plagued by obesity. And although she lived with the fear of putting the weight back on, she carried a photograph of herself, a “Self-Fattie” she called it; it was both a reminder and a deterrent.

I paused. Having grown up during the “Leave It to Beaver” Mrs. Cleaver era of stringed pearls and frilly aprons; I appreciated the caller’s honesty. I never looked like my Barbie doll and I never resembled the models in the magazines.

For many girls, growing up and not quite fitting into a “one size fits all” world is very difficult. I was moved by the discussion, but the moment didn’t last.

“We’re so happy you can fit into your skinny jeans!” the female disc jockey chuckled, then hung up from the caller.
And just like that, she cut off the stream of social consciousness.

“We’re heading into a commercial free hour of music,” she announced, and mentioned a possible rain shower.

I thought about the caller and bullying– from the schoolyards to cyber- bullying on the internet. It warranted further discussion, especially with a female disc jockey; part of a social triumphant moment. The music started and a voice sang “don’t it feel good?”

Normally, I would’ve sung along, belted out the chorus…

Perhaps, at another time.

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Filed under Baby boomers, Gender, Gender Equality, Girls, radio