Posts from June 2005

Dell hell, neverending

Dell hell, neverending

: OK, I’m going to the Apple store and putting in my EVDO card and if it works, I’m walking out with a real computer.

After four days, I still have not heard from the reputed supervisor who Sunday said I’d get a new disk drive but still, after three emails from me, has not followed through to get it to me. The wireless networking is now completely schizo: it thinks it’s not working when it is and is working when it’s not. And this morning, I woke up to another blue screen of death, a fine way to start the day.

I just sent this email to Michael George, chief marketing office and vice president for US consumer business:

Mr. George:

Since you are in charge of both marketing and Dell’s U.S. operation, I think you would find it instructive to look at your own files to see how I am being handled by your company after having just bought a machine — my third and last Dell — that is broken in innumerable ways.

I am writing about this on my weblog in detail and you are losing customers by the day… including me. I am going to the Apple store in one hour. You may go read what I’ve written here. But first, I urge you to read what consumers say in the comments there. And before that, again, please read your own customer service email trail first and tell me whether this represents the best of the Dell brand.

In its first two weeks of use, this machine has so far gotten a new motherboard… cpu… memory… keyboard… wireless networking… and case. The disk drive is so bad it won’t even run your diagnostic. The wireless networking still does not work. The machine goes to the blue screen of death frequently. The keyboard is still faulty.

I paid for both at-home service and complete care but have received neither. Your at-home care is a fraud; your own person has said in writing that the technician would arrive without parts sufficient to fix the machine. Complete care? The machine is clearly a lemon under federal warranty statutes and regulations and you’d be better off just to replace it. If it just burned up — which it has come close to doing — you’d send me a new one. But instead, your people put me through service hell. And I am left unable to do my work because I have an unreliable Dell computer.

The email trail is positively frightening. Your people don’t even pay sufficient attention to get my name right. Sunday, a reputed supervisor told me I needed a new disk drive but I cannot get them to reply to three emails to follow through and get me that.

My readers on my weblog have been very helpful. They have said I was an idiot to buy Dell and its service plan and that I should get an Apple as soon as possible.

The last straw: Four days without a response from your alleged supervisor about a disk drive and one more blue screen of death today as the machine can’t figure out whether its wireless is on or off.

This machine is a lemon. Your at-home and complete care service is a fraud. Your customer service is appalling. Your product is dreadful. Your brand is mud.

But at least perhaps you can learn from the experience.

Sincerely,

Jeff Jarvis

I also just noticed that Dell has a chief ethics officer. So I forwarded the note to him.

: And here’s a new one: Now the machine doesn’t recognize that it has Bluetooth. Somebody shoot this poor animal and put it out of its misery!

Catching up

Catching up

: The web has always been about sharing and creation. It has always been the medium of the people, with big companies horning in. Now a bunch of big companies — with John Markoff reporting — are just catching up to this notion and they think it’s new. No, only their realization is new.

Indeed, the abundance of user-generated content – which includes online games, desktop video and citizen journalism sites – is reshaping the debate over file sharing. Many Internet industry executives think it poses a new kind of threat to Hollywood, the recording industry and other purveyors of proprietary content: not piracy of their work, but a compelling alternative.

The new services offer a bottom-up creative process that is shifting the flow of information away from a one-way broadcast or publishing model, giving rise to a wave of new business ventures and touching off a scramble by media and technology companies to respond.

“Sharing will be everywhere,” said Jeff Weiner, a Yahoo senior vice president in charge of the company’s search services. “It’s the next chapter of the World Wide Web.”

With all due respect, Jeff, that’s a load of Yahooie. Maybe that’s the next chapter for Yahoo but the internet from its very first day about about sharing links and content and conversation and ideas and about connecting people so they can share all that. Wake up and smell the web, man.

Hell, even AOL knew this. Three years ago, at Foursquare, I asked Jonathan Miller how much time his users spent on user-created content and he said 60-70 percent of the time. I use that slide in my blog-boy speech (available for hire -advt.) to say that the people value the content the people create. Only now are media learning to value it. Witness this very story.

Markoff goes on:

Many Internet developers think that the Internet’s new phase will shift power away from old-line media and software companies while rapidly bringing about an age of computerized “augmentation” by blending the skills of tens of thousands of individuals.

But what do you think Google is? It is the collected wisdom of millions of individuals. What do you think blogs are? Yup, the aggregated wisdom of millions more. Flickr, Technorati, Del.icio.us, and other functional innovations are merely ways to further explore and enable that potential.

I’m glad the true essence of the internet is getting recognized. And at least it’s ahead of Marshall column, below.

Look beyond the headlines, continued

Look beyond the headlines, continued

: In today’s Times, John Burns and Edward Wong write a piece reported by Iraqi reporters under the headline Some Iraqis Optimistic About Sovereignty. I think I’m seeing a trend here, following Jennifer Eccleston’s story on CNN last night finding the progress that is occurring in Iraq. But just as in that story, they could not report good news as balance to all the bad — or as an attempt to find the clearer picture of what is happening — without throwing in more bad.

Here is Burns’ lead:

When Shaker Assal was approached in his butcher’s shop on Tuesday and asked what he thought about life in Iraq a year after it resumed formal sovereignty, he responded with a blast of invective as heated as the sunbaked sidewalks in his Baghdad neighborhood of Ghazaliya.

But read down six paragraphs and you’ll find this:

But in an informal survey of opinions across Baghdad conducted on Tuesday by Iraqi reporters on the staff of The New York Times, the butcher’s outburst was a relatively rare case of untempered hostility for the Americans and the Iraqi governments they have worked with in the past year….

And read down two graphs more:

But perhaps more striking, considering the huge gap between the hopes stirred when American troops captured Baghdad in April 2003 and the grim realities now, were the number of Iraqis who expressed a more patient view. Among those people, the disappointments and privations have been offset by an appreciation of both the progress toward supplanting the dictatorship of Mr. Hussein with a nascent democratic system and the need for American troops to remain here in sufficient numbers to allow the system to mature.

And if that was the essence of the story, why wasn’t it the lead?

Take these two episodes together with Bush’s speech last night (which I didn’t get to watch live thanks to a business call; I read it in the paper this morning) and we continue to see that the war at home is a war of PR. Now I know that many couldn’t stand when I cast the Bush execution of his policy and the Downing Street Memo in the light of PR. Fine. But the impression of the war in Iraq — the bad news and good news, the perception of progress or lack of progress, the enmity or optimism of the Iraqis themselves — obviously has a very direct impact on the support for the war here, witness the polls, and thus the execution of it in Iraq. What we see in these two stories is an inability to report progress — which itself is a form of balance to all the car-bombing stories — without balancing the balancing with more dark clouds. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Living in the past

Living in the past

: Marshall Loeb just wrote a blog-belittling column at Marketwatch. I have some personal history on this with Marshall, who’s a very nice guy, and so let me start there. We worked together years ago at Time Inc.

Didn’t hear from Marshall for years upon years. But a few weeks ago, he found himself on a panel about blogging at some press association or another and so he called me to find out what this blogging this is all about. He said he didn’t know a thing. I filled him in as best I could in 20 minutes as I dashed from meeting to meeting in New York. Apparently, I was bad salesman now Marsh delivers his blog broadside, a bit late to the party:

Blogging can be both a cost-effective and time-efficient way of connecting with people, providing many benefits that can enrich your life.

Some of the benefits are:

* Creating a family network of blogs to keep yourselves updated on the goings-on of your far-away relatives.

* Turning blogs into scrapbooks where you can upload and post digital photos. This saves you the cost of getting film processed, and sharing your blog with others is free.

* Encouraging your young children to create a blog that keeps track of their daily activities and chores. Also, your new college-bound kids can keep blogs so that you won’t feel like they’re so far away.

So those are the benefits of blogs: quaint personal, family gimmicks. But dangers lurk there.

But not everything is perfect, and here are some warnings about blogs:

* Don’t trust everything you read in blogs. While more and more news organizations and companies are creating blogs of their own, many blogs are filled with false information.

* Never keep a blog in which you trash the company you work for or your boss. Also, never put your company’s sensitive or inside information in your blog. There have already been cases in which people have been fired for blogging about their employers. It might be tempting to use a blog to vent your work-related frustrations, but it could come back to haunt you.

* Don’t give out too much personal information in your blog. Even using your real name, rather than a pseudonym, puts you at risk. We live in an age of identity theft and you don’t want to unwittingly give thieves a road map to your personal records or financial information.

Well, thanks. Next, can you tell us how to get rid of that dangnabbed flashing 12 on our VCRs?

Marshall was, by the way, the executive at Time Inc. who first rejected my proposal for Entertainment Weekly — six years before it ended up launching. As the head of magazine development, he parrotted the words of Henry Grunwald, then editor-in-chief of Time Inc., saying that such a magazine about the full range of entertainment could not possibly succeed because people who watch TV do not read. Ahem.

Look beyond the headlines

Look beyond the headlines

: On tonight’s Anderson Cooper 360, he urged us to “look beyond the headlines” and you will see that “some things have improved on the ground in Iraq.” Well, yes, considering that the headlines are all bad, you’d have to look beyond them. He hands over to CNN’s Jennifer Eccleston for “that side of the story.”

JENNIFER ECCLESTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The big day has arrived for Piras Odisho and —. Despite the daily disruptions to life in Baghdad, a rising number of young couples like them are taking the plunge.

PIRAS ODISHO, GROOM (translator): Life must go on. There must be marriages and happiness.

ECCLESTON: Marriages are up 30 percent since Saddam’s overthrow and the judge signing their wedding contract thinks he knows why.

GHANI AL-ISAA, JUDGE (translator): There is an increase since the income of all sectors of Iraqi people has gone up.

ECCLESTON: Measuring Iraq’s economic health is not an exact science, but those in work, like the 350 judges trained in the past two years, are better paid, thanks to U.S. subsidies.

The Iraqi dinar holds its value. Gone is the rampant inflation of the ’90’s. There are more goods in the shops, in part, thanks to low import duties and a thriving black market.

It’s estimated that there’s five times more traffic on Baghdad’s roads than there was pre-war and then, there is, what some call, the freedom index. In January, nearly 60 percent of Iraqis voted, choosing from a wide variety of parties. The assembly they voted for is meeting and is beginning to frame a new constitution for Iraq and 25 Sunni delegates are participating.

Internet cafes, unknown under Saddam, have sprung up in Baghdad. There are more than three million telephone subscribers, compared to fewer than a million before the war and many of them are on cell phones. Some 170 independent newspapers and magazines offer competing opinions and there are 80 commercial radio stations.

Wealthier Iraqis have satellite dishes and watch channels from around the world, a luxury unthinkable three years ago. Much of the country away from the Sunni dominated north and west is not racked by sectarian violence and some 150,000 Iraqi security forces are trained, equipped, and playing a larger role in battling the insurgents.

Well, bravo, at long last, major media concedes that the agenda it has set in Iraq — of unrelenting doom — has another side. But they can’t leave it at that. She returns to say:

Now, despite the undeniable progress in Iraq, one year after the handover of sovereignty, the grinding violence, the lack of personal security, the hardships of day-to-day living, not enough power, not enough water, inadequate sanitation, this limits most Iraqis ability to believe their governments and American assertion that life is indeed improving…

Yes, we couldn’t just balance months of dire coverage with a moment’s good news without returning to the dire.