Happy New Year


Customer Support Horror Stories

The last day of the year brought two Customer Support Horror Stories, from two Jeremies. 

Quite a reading, side by side….   I don’t know about Netgear, but Dell had enough time to learn from their Jeff Jarvis fiasco.  They lost measurable sales, let alone the intangible damage they caused to themselves. Perhaps 2006 will be the year companies realize that for every 100 or so mistreated customer there is a high-powered blogger who will publish their story?  Anything  less then excellent customer service is going to be very-very costly.

Update (12/31):  Gee, it must be really slow if this made it to Memeorandum :-)

Update (1/09): Customer Service, Dell, Yahoo, Flames and Blogs  

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Entrepreneur in the making :-)





on second thought … MERRY CHRISTMAS!


Tracking the Complete Conversation – Part 2.

This is a follow-up to my previous post on the subject. Michael Parekh posted a good summary of several related issues on his blog, also linking to other bloggers’ views.

One of his thoughts for a potential solution: “Imagine if every person who comments had a PRE-SET user name that worked on all blogs in the system. Then imagine is that user-name could be used, with the user’s permission of course, to construct a “virtual blog” for that user on the fly, listing their comments across various blogs, WITH the under-lying context. Voila…we’d have millions of new bloggers overnight with their own virtual blogs, WITHOUT them having to go through the EFFORT OF MAINTAINING A REGULAR BLOG AT ALL.”

Wow, Michael, I think we already have it – well, almost. The platform I use, Blogharbor (Blogware) has the concept of the “Reader Account”, which is a universal id/authentication system across ALL blogware supported blogs, and isn’t Typekey a similar solution for Typepad commenters? I believe both were conceived as anti-spam measures, but as a side-effect, created the foundation of what you’re suggesting. And of course clicking on an entry would bring up all other linked comments left by others :-)

Merry Christmas!

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This is a two-month-old article republished on occasion of Steve Rubel’s post today: 2006 Trends Part I: Comment Search. Steve predicts we’ll see a solution soon. I certainly hope so. After all.. we’ve seen communication, PR, Marketing, Tech gurus identify this as a need – it’s an open call for all the programming wizards out there :-)

Happy Holidays!

The original article:

There is an abundance of tagging / tracking / linking / stat’s tools to enhance the Blogosphere, but they are all one-directional, missing a major part of the “Conversation”.

Steve Rubel talks about RSS being a passive “receive medium”, and how RSS is one-way, feeding info to those who passively consume it – but there is no “active” feedback channel where a business / organization could subscribe to the feed of all those interested in their product, service, or simply those that expressed a particular interest.

I’ve been thinking about a similar problem, but specifically limited to why blogging is still an incomplete conversation. “ You’re linked to me, I’m linked to you. That’s a conversation.” – says Ethan at OnoTech. Well, almost. There is just the small issue of manageability.

If you’re a Technorati top 100 or even 500 blogger, most of the conversation happens around your own blog, in the form of comments and trackbacks from other blogs. However, for the the rest of us, the other 20 million bloggers, chances are the conversation really takes place outside our own blog, and I for one certainly can’t keep track of all comments I left on other blogs. An occasional Google search on my name reveals lots of these “half-conversations” where I left a comment, the blog owner or other readers responded, but I’ve never seen the response, since I forgot to go back and-re-read all those blog-post.

Jeff Clavier points out that Blogware, one of the lesser known platforms (which I happen to use) can send emails when comments are made on a post you have commented on but that is email, and that’s not great… what about the other platforms? The current crop of tracking / linking services all have a top-down publisher-centric view, everything revolves around a blog and related posts, totally missing this other, “bottom-up” half of the conversation. Don’t we all need something that shows an integrated view of all conversations where we are participating per subject matter (blog title), whether we started it or someone else?

Jeff in his post quoted above invites creative minds to come up with a solution, and so does Steve Rubel: boy is that a business for someone”. At the recent TechCrunch BBQ I heard Dave Winer complain that he hasn’t seen a major breakthrough innovation around blogs for quite a while – I bet half the crowd at the event (200 techno-crazy minds) could create what we need here. C’mon guys, what are you waiting for?

Update (11/7) : Here’s a somewhat manual workaround. Still not quite the real thing :-(

Update (11/9) Jeremy Zawodny discusses comment tracking – some of the comments on his post are also worth reading.

Updates (12/25):

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Vonage Does Not Get It :-(


Yes, I know, it’s still $25 a month, which really isn’t that much. And I’ve been a loyal customer for 3 years now, through good and bad times – mostly good nowadays, but the early days were at times shaky.  5 bucks less wasn’t enough to drive to another provider, although I admit those free calls to Europe by Lingo sounded quite tempting … but here I am, still with Vonage.

Eventually it might be Vonage themselves that drive me to another provider.  Just because the time will come when I no longer like them.  Part of what I used to like was the simplicity, transparency of their plans – everything included in on price, no hidden charges, tariffs, good-old-phone-company-games.  Or so I thought… but when for my recent trip I wanted to download their SoftPhone, I found out I needed a separate account, with another number, and a limit of 400 minutes. WTF when  I already have an unlimited plan with them?  Needless to say I ended up not bothering about Softphone, there is always Skype:-)

Now here’s this ad in my email box: 

Recently featured in Men’s Health magazine as one of the top 100 Best New Tech Toys For Men, Vonage’s hottest new device, the Wi-Fi phone, is now available!

It’s easy – use it with your own wireless Internet network or when traveling and have access to a compatible Wi-Fi hotspot. It’s great for people on the go. All you have to do is go to any compatible hotspot found in airports, coffee bars, and nearly everywhere and use the Wi-Fi phone. And remember, to purchase a Wi-Fi phone, you will need to open a separate Vonage account. Click here for details.


Great! This is a nice phone, I never liked the expensive but unintelligent  5.8Ghz unit at home, and this one gives me mobility (of course I’d perefer a Wifi/Cell combo, but I guess that’s a year away…).

But what’s wrong with these guys?  To get the phone I need yet another account?  Don’t they get it?  Softphone, Wifi phone, ATA … these are just different devices that I should be able to purchase with the one-and-only regular Vonage plan.  Or do they think the unlimited plan is too generous – now that their competitors have better plans?  How about having to deal with 3 separate phone numbers?  I have this bead feeling that a former innovator is trying to turn the wheels backward.  Wake up Vonage!  Customer loyalty is a terrible thing to lose. 

Update (12/31):


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Little did Jeff Clavier or Brad Feld know just how timely their posts on “Shared Nothing Architecture” would become in days now that the granddaddy of all on-demand software, was partially knocked out for almost a day.

The Typepad outage that prompted Brad and Jeff write their piece was just storm in a teacup; this is the real thing, the Perfect Storm. Real business customers could not conduct their business for a day. That something like this would happen was inevitable, but didnt’ we all expect it in the form of a major Internet outage? After all, on-demand vendors are likely to do everything in their power to avoid such outages – or do they? In the case of, the answer is probably a yes: Earlier this year, announced it would spend US$50 million to set up redundant East Coast and West Coast data centers with rapid data replication and failover capabilities, an initiative it dubbed “MirrorForce.” (source: IDG).
That’s exactly the kind of commitment Brad and Jeff are asking for, and not all (smaller) providers can afford it. Not that they all should… their core competency being in developing innvative software, not running data centers, which should be outsourced to the “pros” like Vinnie Mirchandani pointed it out numerous times.

Back to our “Perfect Storm”, it will have an effect on the entire on-demand industry, since is such an icon for this segment. SAP, Oracle etc… will no doubt refer to this “vulnerability” in their sales pitches. Rival NetSuite will not brag about it on their homepage, but their salesforce will likely be trained to point out to prospects why this could never happen to them …

What exactly happened is still unknown – which in itself is quite a customer communications fiasco on’s part. I bet it will soon be fixed though: the company will come forward with an explanation of what happened, what they do to avoid it in the future, and what they do to accomodate their customers who suffered from the outage. My bet is on Marc Benioff – he will somehow manage to turn this fiasco into a PR victory.

Talk about communication, I am amazed the blogosphere is not abuzz with this story – in fact it’s hardly being mentioned, in sharp contrast to the recent Typepad outage. Isn’t this the type of imbalance Chris Selland and Brad Feld just complained about? Or is everyone out Christmas shopping? :-) Ohh… stores close soon .. gotta run now:-)

P.S. is a valid site – I just bought it. (not that I know what to do with it… )

Happy Holidays!

Update (12/21): Others on the subject:

Update (12/23): Unlike Salesforce(less).com, TechCrunch is not mission critical software, just an extremely popular blog, yet when they have an outage, Mike finds it important enough to go public right-away. Way to go!

Update (12/31): Reuters talks about Web Services outages, citing Typepad, … etc, not even mentioning Salesforce(less).com. Funny… Nice-to-have services appear to be more important than mission critical business applications?


What do the San Francisco Police and the British Royal Navy have in common?

The talent to produce satirical / scandalous (pick one) videos.

 Video scandal rocks S.F. police, says the Chronicle.  Hm..  Most  Politically Incorrectly, I tend to side with Patrick, in that a stupid little prank got blown way out of proportion.  Nevertheless, the genie is out of the bottle, and now there is no turning back.

But wait… if these videos were scandalous, then what exactly is the British Royal Navy’s interpretation of Bohemian Rhapsody (by the Queen)? Produced on board the HMS Campbelltown while on patrol in the Indian Ocean:


If for some reason the embedded video does not play, watch it here.

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YAHOO Becoming (del.icio.usly) Cool Again

Deliciouslogo200 just got acquired by Yahoo!, as reported by TechCrunch.  Wow!  Seemingly left in the dust by Google, Yahoo! is step-by-step becoming a cool company again:

  • Yahoo Mail Beta is comparable or better than Gmail (disclaimer: I’m still with Gmail)
  • Yahoo Maps Beta is probably better than Google Maps (again, I deserted to Google, and still am there, but who knows)
  • Yahoo picked up Flickr, which really should have gone to Google, if for no better reason just to be integrated with Picasa
  • Yahoo 360 isn’t that bad either ….
  • …and now

Something’s brewing at Yahoo!

P.S.  Is it now officially Yahoo 2.0?  Or Yah-tooo-ohhh! ?  :-)

Update (12/09):  This appears to be the ONLY subject in the blogosphere:

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