Jeff Sexton

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Qwest

A couple days ago I received my latest billing from Qwest (paper mail, I don't trust them to accomplish any other method).

To my surprise, the prior month's amount showed unpaid, and so it was a double amount in total, plus a penalty.  I went to the bill section of my online bank service and was not surprised at all.  The bill was paid almost exactly a month ago.

So I get on the phone to Qwest.  The first customer service person just listened to the problem, then transferred me to a person that could deal with these issues.  There was a modest wait, not too bad.

The specialist listened to my explanation and also knew, or guessed, that I had used a bill pay service from my bank.  She explained to me that Qwest's posting of these amounts is backlogged.  She explained that Qwest has "millions of customers" in it's billing system and is unable to keep up.  Really.  She said this.  Too many customers...  That's the explanation.

She told me that the fee would be waived on my *next* billing and that I should pay the current month's bill (with the penalty) leaving off the last month's amount because that would be processed "'soon".  She also tacked on a couple weeks to my bill due date, pushing it into August.

If you are a Qwest customer, do not use a bill pay service.  Qwest is unable to handle the volume of business it has sold.  Qwest's billing system can not process one month's electronic payments in 30 days.  Send them a check.

Qwest is not alone in issues like this.  Telecom companies in the US have for many years been over-selling their infrastructure.   It makes me laugh out loud when I get junk mail from Qwest offering me even more services.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Still More Buzz About Google+

Google's homepage in 1998Image via WikipediaIt's been a few days now since I got access to Google+.  It remains the case that no one I know has received this access inspite of my adding them to Circles and sharing items with them in Streams.   Yesterday I found out that one person I know does know someone else that has access - that's the first and only such person I have heard of.

I don't understand what Google is doing.  Google+ is full of crickets and the occasional tumbleweed rolling past.  It's a lonely place.  The "nearby" section of the Stream on the mobile app has looked the same for 3 or 4 days.  This isn't a slow roll-out, this is a no-roll-out.

At any rate, here are a few more observations...

1) As far as I can tell there is absolutely no functional difference between Buzz and the Stream in Google+.  Are these two going to become one?  If that is the case, why isn't my Buzz history in the new Stream?  The interface on Google+ for Streams is quite a bit better than the interface for Buzz via gmail.

2) There is also no difference between "+1" and "Like".  Why do both of these exist?

3) At first I thought I would really dislike the mobile app uploading photos automatically, but I've changed my mind. It's handy and allows for some cool functionality (now if only my real camera could do that!).

4) Google+ confuses your browser if you have multiple logins and one is a Googel Apps or Enterprise account (which is not supported by Google+, likely because those accounts do not have profiles).

I like the look of Google+ and I think I like what it hints at for the feature integration of Google features.  I also think people will like it more than Facebook - but I also think that's not the point.  Google is up to something much more with this.  Google is making application use flow from the user identity, rather than having users pick and choice from unconnected facility. 

But it sure is dull in Google+ so far. 





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Monday, July 04, 2011

More Google+

One thing I like is what they have done to leverage Picasa Web Albums (instead of reinventing something).  Google+ makes good use of Web Albums, and makes some slight changes to the way Web Albums works which I think are improvements.

When you get started with Google+ it's helpful to try a few things relating to photos and albums, then bounce over to your Picasa Web Albums and check out what it's doing.

In addition, the Google+ mobile application offers additional new, and much improved, ways to interact with photos in your albums.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Google+

I got into Google+ today.

Ok Google, let me know if I'm leaving anything out.  If I find something I think is interesting on the internet (that happens now and then), I need to:

1) eMail a link to people I know
2) Note the page in my shared items feed so people see it in Google Reader
3) Post the link to Google Buzz
4) If it's Google blog I need to "Friend Connect" it
e) "+1" it
6) Again if it's a blog, add the RSS feed to my Reader subscriptions
7) I'll just leave out Wave...
8) Post the link on my own blogger blog where it will show up in Reader for those that either Friend Connect or RSS subscribe
9) "Like" the page via Buzz or Reader or ...

And now I can also post it in Google+ !  Well, all this should only take about 10 minutes.  Much less if I practice browsing to all the various websites...

Oh but to do all this I will need to maintain groups in contacts for email and Buzz posts, and now Circles also since they do not interact.

I was also nothing less than astonished that Google+ includes a checkin feature (another checkin feature) that, yes, believe it or not, appears to have no relationship to Latitude, Places, Buzz or Offers.  Wow.

Google, these things are so obvious that they should not have to be mentioned, but here it goes...

A) I need to be able to add an RSS feed to Google+ so it can replace Reader, or I need to add Google+ items to Reader via an RSS feed (there's *no* RSS feed on Google+?!  Seriously?!).

B) I need to be able to add Google+ to the feeds I share into Buzz, or, well, see above...

c) why does gmail exist as a separate interface?  Why are not all the features (filters) of gmail implemented on  Buzz, Reader and Google+ as one unified service?

D) Google, you really and truly did not tie this together with Latitude, Places and Offers?  Really???

E) One, count them, one, mechanism for organizing contacts please.  I actually had to type in some names, even though my gmail contact list is all set and organized.  Why didn't groups I've created in gmail become circles?

F) Offer an RSS feed for publicly shared Google+ items so readers can read them in Reader.

G) There would appear to be no functional difference between "Like" and "+1", and even though here are sometimes both available, yet there are separate and do not completely overlap.  Does that make sense to anyone?

H) There's almost no functional difference between Buzz and Google+ posts.  Why do both of these exist?  At the very least items posted to Google+ should be available as an additional feed to Buzz followers.   People that follow items I post/blog/email/share will not check 4 different places for new content.

I) Related to Buzz...  Why does Buzz history, shared items and comments, migrate over to Google+?

J) I see there is a "chat" in Google+, is that Google Talk, or yet another and different chat/IM/XMMS/whatever?

There seem to be people that exist only and fully with both feet in Facebook and never look at anything else.  I think this is strange, but people like that do exist.  For those people, Google+ may be easier and more fun.  They might switch.  But for those of use trying to organize and control a more robust online existence, a service that is yet-another-service isn't going to help.

Thank you though Google, keep up the work.  And thank you for the de-facto additional space in web albums.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Google+

As everyone and their pets has heard, Google has introduced a new competitor to Facebook called Google Plus.  It sounds good.  They have an intriguing set of walk throughs up, and we all know a Facebook that isn't Facebook is long over due.  If anyone could do this, it would be Google.

But something doesn't add up here.

Within hours of "launching" this invite-only beta of Google Plus, invites were cut off citing "insane demand."  As I write this, invitations have not resumed.

I know a lot of techy people.  And they all know a lot of techy people.  But no one seems to know anyone that has access to Google Plus.  No one.  Not a soul got an invitation.   Google+ has created a huge "buzz" on the internet.  A "latest" results search on Google for Google+ reveals a steady stream of chatter.  But does anyone outside of Google employees and a few select journalists actually have access to the new service?

It doesn't make sense...  Is Google doing this just to generate that chatter?  They don't need to do that.  Anyone would know that anything that offers a Facebook alternative would generate a massive "wave" of interest.  Google does not need an artificial scarcity campaign to get attention.

So did Google get genuinely overwhelmed with a response their new system was unprepared for, and have to cut it off?  That makes no sense either.  Again, who wouldn't know that the sort of response this was likely to get?

Yes, I'm sure Google would want to be very cautious about this roll out.  No one would want to see them pull a Sony and have the system flat on the floor the first day, as the PSN was on its triumphant return.  But Google appears to have pulled the plug on signing up for Google+ almost instantly.  And not a soul I know, nor any they know got their foot in that door.

Fishy.

So I'm calling it, it's vaporware.  A social service no one can use, is a service that doesn't exist.

I very much look forward to something like Google+ could be, might be, whatever.  But at this time, it's definitely not there.  I'm sure they are working on it though.


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