Tag Archives: technology

vacuum company uses QR code. and it kind of sucks.

Amy and I were out shopping for vacuum cleaners on Friday night (such romantics we are) and came across what looked like a promising model. The box didn’t have a lot of info, but it did have a QR (quick response) code. So we scanned it.

How did the vacuum QR code work? From a customer-focused standpoint, it kind of sucked.

Instead of getting some kind of customized experience, the code sent us to the company’s … home page. Which had a bunch of unrelated information and, after scrolling, found a panel with a link to info on vacuums. I clicked on that, and came upon a list of products that I had to sift through. At Amy’s prompting, I finally ended the UX experiment and typed the model number into the search box and retrieved the information.

Here, once again, was a company that embraced the shiny technology of QR codes only to deliver a poor customer experience. Small wonder it’s so hard to find evidence of anyone scanning a QR code in the wild, let alone finding the technology useful.

I’ve said it before, and will say it again: If you must use a QR code, do it to meet a goal or provide a solution, not to be trendy. Many people are already sick of anything related to QR codes because marketers find so many dumb and impractical ways to use them. We ended up buying another model, and I’m not sure having a dedicated website would have sold us, but just taking a few minutes to produce a QR code that went straight to the product page would have spoken volumes about their understanding of technology and their customers.

Ultimately, think about what would help your customers and whether a QR code is a practical way to deliver it. It’s really that simple.


Filed under Uncategorized

the trouble with baseless tech predictions, or did i miss google+ killing facebook?

Oh, those heady crazy days when any technology is introduced. I remember the original buzz (not to be confused with Buzz) over Google+, as a wave (not to be confused with Wave) of excitement swept through social media as people asked anyone, everyone they knew for an invitation to the new community.

Some early coverage and commentary took the oh-so-levelheaded tone of OMGOMGGoogle+IsGoingToKillFacebook, despite any tangible evidence or empirical projections. So what happened since?

Facebook is still alive, and confounding users with incremental redesigns, as usual. People complain about said redesigns, as they always do, then move on and keep using the service.

And Google+ has nice membership numbers, although postings I’ve seen have slowed precipitously. The recent announcement that Google+ was now open to all, no invite necessary, was greeted in many spheres of social media with a collective yawn, as if the site were already yesterday’s news. Perhaps in part because Facebook has already rolled features to counter G+ assets. Some of the same folks who trumpeted the ascendance of G+ now treat it as a punchline. Its hangouts, message segregation via Circles and Google tie-ins still hold promise, but the hosannas have long since stopped rattling.

So is Google+ primed to surpass and supercede Facebook? Not today or tomorrow.

Will Google+ eventually pass Facebook in terms of membership or primacy? Cannot predict now. Ask again later.

Actually, the “Cannot predict now” and “Ask again later” phrases I took from my Magic 8 Ball. The Magic 8 Ball says that a lot.

And you know: We should say and acknowledge that line of reasoning instead of making grand and unfounded declarations. We — earlier adopters, the technology press, the general social mediacracy — should stop pretending the latest shiny object is the New Facebook or the Next Twitter. And for the sake of all that is good, anyone who uses the term “game changer” for a brand new technology should have their iPhone confiscated.

Because the future of technology is a lot of things — surprising, exciting, complicated and unpredictable. It’s NOT as cut and dried as saying “this new technology is cool, my friends are excited, so it’s going to be the next [insert the previous next thing].” Because no one really knows. We cannot predict now. Ask again later.


Filed under Web

tron: legacy, a review — we’ve come a long way, baby.

It’s a sign of my age that I recall seeing the original movie Tron when the effects still looked advanced. And that we owned the table-top version of the Tron video game. So I was very interested in the new movie Tron: Legacy, hoping it wouldn’t be a disappointing jumble of style over substance.

No worries, mate. I found the movie satisfying and enjoyable on every level. The eye-popping (literally, in 3D) special effects were astounding. A quantum leap from the old special effects — not surprising — yet truly engrossing to the point I bought into the plotline and stopped wondering how they did all the incredible things.

Engrossing action sequences? Check. Compelling storyline? Roger. Good enough acting to span the technology? Affirmative, right down to great use of facial expressions. (And I couldn’t take my eyes off Olivia Wilde, but that’s beside the point.) It’s a wild ride, and at times I was a little bit lost, but it was marvelous all the way. (And, as my brother points out, props for the inclusion from the original of Bruce Boxleitner, who deserves the visibility.) To think that the original Tron preceded the Internet as we know it and yet presaw it, in a way, is pretty amazing.

Leaving the theatre, we heard this conversation:

Teen #1: So I don’t get why they called it “Tron.”
Teen #2: Cuz it’s based on a 1980s video game called “Tron.”

Er, not exactly. Kids today should know that, once upon a time, moviemakers didn’t just take a popular video game and make a movie as a brand extension. People once created movies based on original, visionary ideas! So, in a way, Tron: Legacy is a throwback as well as an envelope-pushing work of movie magic.


Filed under words

stamats sim tech takeaways: goals first, content always.

The recent Stamants SIM Tech conference was, quite simply, one of the most amazing I’ve ever had the honor of attending. And while I took 4,959 words of notes, my main takeaways are 1) goals first, then tools; and 2) it’s (still) about quality content.

Yes, many of us jumped, and/or took our colleges, onto social media just to figure out the lay of the land. But as the social media landscape keeps sprouting new shiny objects, we have to remember goals first, then tools. It’s a no-brainer that, by now, your college should have official presences on Facebook and Twitter. Given the propagation of Facebook misrepresentation, actual representation remains important. But before we spread ourselves (thin) across every platform, we have to stop and ask ourselves: What are we doing and why are we doing it?

When folks on the New Paltz campus come to Rachel Reuben hoping to start a social media project, her best way to help is a form where they articulate what they want and why. Sometimes they learn that the ideal social media solution for them is not what they initially thought. Kyle James counseled schools to put their own house in order before going too heavily into social media: know your goals, audiences and stories first. And if you spend a lot of money driving people to a bad landing page, reconsider your priorities.

I was also pleased to hear repeatedly that it’s (still) about quality content. You can throw up the fanciest pages, platforms and schemes, but if you don’t have quality content to fill these outlets, you’ve bought a $1,000 frame for a 5-cent painting. This came up in pretty much every presentation, whether Robert Brosnan detailing how educated contributors create campus content pipelines, Raven Zachary on making iPhone apps that innovate instead of imitate or Scott Leamon reminding us that technology and channels change but great stories are timeless.

On another note, my cherished mantra of less is more came up in such sessions as Kati Davis championing usability and simplicity, Karlyn Morissette discussing how the best e-marketing gets to the point with a call to action and Stewart Foss saying that bombarding users with too many links/too much cramped copy can be a turnoff.

The conference also brought the present into the future. Matt Arnold noted we’re heading into a post-homepage (search making every page a homepage) and post-mouse/post-monitor (mobile) era. Frittz McDonald explained that 2/3 of world’s Web users visit social networking and blogging sites and that, by 2012, more than half of Internet users will be content creators. Small wonder David Armano points to a world where we are no longer brand managers, but facilitators of brand advocates whose own stories join with the greater narrative.

I tried, with great difficulty, to narrow down to Top 5 Takeaways for each session. It only presents a flavor, the tip of an iceberg. But thanks to Stamats SIM Tech, I now feel more confident that I can avoid the icebergs as we navigate the thrilling waters of the Web and new communication.


Filed under Web

must it be such a trial?

If you ever have jury duty in New York state, you’ll likely have the pleasure of seeing an orientation video that starts with how far we’ve come since the Dark Ages, when an accused’s guilt was determined via trial by ordeal (i.e. thrown into a pond, will float if innocent, etc.). Despite some predictable before and after Person on the Street comments (apprehensive at the beginning, proud to serve at the end), it’s a pretty good video, even featuring on-camera narration by Diane Sawyer and the late, great Ed Bradley.

That declaration of progress notwithstanding, I noticed how outdated much of the jury duty process seemed when I went through it on Tuesday. On the business day before reporting, we call a juror’s hotline where we listen to lengthy instructions left by the Commissioner of Jurors. Why couldn’t this be a Web site? Wouldn’t that be easier on everyone, including the guy who has to record the message daily? Just a boilerplate document where the worker fills in a few words of changeable information?

When we report, and before watching the video, we receive golf-course pencils and carbon-copy paper. I have no idea when I last saw carbon paper. We use the blunt writing instruments to fill out various detailed fields and if our number is called (as mine was), the judge, clerk, DA office representative and defense lawyer all get ever-lighter carbon copies. The defense lawyer, who had the bottom sheet, even admitted some people didn’t press hard enough — so he couldn’t read the information. Supplying unreadable information to an important decision-maker during the selection process? Is that acceptable in this day and age?

Wouldn’t it be great to bring this up to the 21st century? Imagine how much better it would be if each potential juror (or at least those with Internet access) could fill out the form in advance online? For those without Web access, there would be computers on site for inputting their information. And then when the clerk draws Juror 28, lawyers could pull up my data on laptop or PDA, and ask what I do at the college, what I mean by listing hockey among my hobbies or any other questions. So much faster and more efficient, eh?

The film boasts about many improvements built into the system recently. But our day included a lot of waiting and watching. A. Lot. It took from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to select 12 jurors and one alternate (which didn’t include me, to the relief of my employers and I). I understand doing this all face-to-face and carefully — the trial process is important and delicate — but technologically much of the proceedings seem stuck in the Dark Ages. If the justice system is as great as we say it is, shouldn’t we always be trying to improve its efficiency?


Filed under writing