Going, going, gone

Bad news: This blog has pretty much run its course. Nothing very inter­esting (to me) has happened in this space for a long time. I won’t be updating twopoin­touch anytime soon.

Good news: I’ve started a new blog, called gamethinks.com, which is about computer games. I know this won’t interest a lot of my regular readers, but it does interest me, a lot. Give it a go. Maybe I can convince you.

image credit: C J Isherwood

Carphone Warehouse — just trying to help out

I’d hate to think that anyone imagines this is some sort of attack blog about Carphone Warehouse customer service. It really isn’t. The dif­fi­culties I had (that still figure quite prom­in­ently on Google searches) were resolved and now we’re all happy.

However, a friend of a friend is having similar dif­fi­culties getting through to anything human. If you’re out there and listening, and care about the repu­ta­tion of the company — please look after Anjali.

Things I don’t like to read

spam

Somehow this sort of thing, which I see every­where, doesn’t entirely work for me. Maybe I’m fussy.

This is a guide to creating great news­let­ters. In it, we’ll explain how to create great news­let­ters. So if you want to create great news­let­ters, join us as we explain all about creating news­let­ters, that are great.

…Thanks for taking the time to read our guide to creating great news­let­ters and be sure to look out for more guides to great content soon.

So what’s the plan with these sorts of sites? I can see how they can (and do) climb to the top of Google. But you’d only visit them once, wouldn’t you? I guess there’s three possibilities:

  1. They run adwords-​​style advert­ising and guess that “readers”, having been lured in, will click on anything, even an adwords banner to get out again. Since they cost nothing to make, pumping out a few dozen could poten­tial result in incomes of ermm… pennies.
  2. They’re des­perate to ‘win’ on par­tic­ular keywords. The only way their boss/​client measures the success of the site is in page impres­sions and search position.
  3. They went on a really bad course about SEO. I think this is more common than you might think: I read this sort of keyword-​​infatuated garbage on a lot of sites that genu­inely well-​​meaning.

But I suppose it doesn’t really matter whether I like it or not, or whether it really works, because the content farms and idiots are already winning. Conducting a search for product advice is likely to yield dozens of rubbish reviews on the first page. The web starts closing down again, whereby learning the name of a decent source of inform­a­tion becomes a matter of word-​​of-​​mouth. Thank goodness, we now have the social web etc. to help us find those things. It’s some­thing I’ve his­tor­ic­ally been a great fan of, and still am, the­or­et­ic­ally. But, when push comes to shove, and I want to know which telly to buy, it becomes very clear how basic those things still are.

image credit: freeze­light

BT Broadband: in which I stomp my tiny feet

I’ve been with BT broad­band about five years. But my service has been getting slower for about six months or so. For the last couple of months, it’s been too slow to play any of the Web TV services or even a regular 360p YouTube video live. But I lived with it. I let light bulbs die for about two years before repla­cing them – if it’s the summer, I can live without light for weeks. I’ve been known to use the fridge for kitchen illumination.

Today, I reached the end of my patience when I couldn’t take part in a Skype video call. My down­stream had plunged to 446kbps, as opposed to the (already pretty feeble) 6mbps I had 12 months ago.

For a little while, when I first noticed this drop, I was told it was because I had down­loaded too much stuff. I probably had. But not within the last six months.

So anyway, I got on the phone.

  • Ten minute wait in the queue. Bad – but I’ve had a lot worse.
  • Annoying “is it plugged in?” style dia­gnostics. Bad – but not idiotic.
  • Can you unscrew your phone socket from the wall and try this. That’s a new one – but I prefer this to a 2–3 day wait for an engineer.
  • Ah yes, you need a new router. Promising – I’ve had my current Voyager 215 for about five years with no offer of an upgrade.
  • But you need to agree to a new 12-​​month contract…

No, I don’t think so. Give me a workable internet con­nec­tion and then I might trust you. So, no – can I have my Mac code [this lets you move more easily to another provider] please?

Him: Can I tell you about the best offers we have for you right now?

Me: No, I’d like my Mac code.

Him: Well, the best we can do is… [actually a quite good offer]

Him: … and shower you with loads of free stuff.

Me: Can I stop you there? Because I was told I’d have to take out a new contract to see my broad­band con­nec­tion fixed. And I don’t want to do that.

Him: Ah, yes. That is the case.

Me: Well, I don’t want to do that because I don’t trust BT to be able to deliver, based on my experience.

Him: Ah OK.

Me: So can I have my Mac Code, please?

Him: Just getting your code now. Two minutes pass.

Him: The system’s just gen­er­ating it now. Another five minutes – no joke.

Him: I’m just going to go and get it Another two minutes.

Him: I’m sorry about the delay, Mr Delaney. I’m just getting it now. Another two minutes. Or was it ten? I am dazed now.

I don’t like to be mean about call-​​centre people. I don’t think it’s fair. They have a rulebook that was written by people hundreds (some­times thou­sands) of miles away. They are the ones to blame, not the first woman I spoke to or Iqbal Hani (actually he was a total dick – really rude) or the other guy in retrieving-​​really-​​angry-​​people I spoke to today.

But really. You lost a customer today because you were too inflex­ible and you don’t really care about your cus­tomers. I’m paying my bills, why didn’t you just fix the problem? Why didn’t my router get upgraded years ago? If you have this new speed enhancer doodad, why didn’t you send it out to your existing customers?

I know why, of course. Because sub­scrip­tion busi­nesses are based on customer inertia. Because you make more money putting effort into con­verting or acquiring new cus­tomers than in showing great value to existing ones.

But that’s shit. And there, I said it. You were shit today, BT.

Rise of the robots

Will our mobile phones continue to evolve at the rate they have done over the last fifteen years? Most tech­no­logy sort of runs out of steam after a while. Computers today aren’t really much better than they were five years ago, for example. Televisions haven’t par­tic­u­larly improved for about ten years. However, there are some reasons to believe that mobiles have a bit more scope for improve­ment than those things.

Like all the other recent posts, this piece first appeared in the Nokia Conversations newsletter.

Continue reading Rise of the robots

Mobile: the 7th wonder

The idea of mobile as a media platform is both very modern — by defin­i­tion, it couldn’t have been con­ceived of before about 1985 and colour screens didn’t arrive until the mid-​​90s. But it’s also some­thing that people seem to have been banging on about for ages, without anything in par­tic­ular hap­pening. At the start of every year, we’ve been reading “this year mobiles become an enter­tain­ment and inform­a­tion hub” in everyone’s list of pre­dic­tions. At the risk of ridicule in a year’s time, I think it’s going to happen in 2011.

It was ori­gin­ally delivered as part of the Nokia Conversations newsletter.

Continue reading Mobile: the 7th wonder

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