Posts Tagged ‘mobile’

Google Voice Transcript Fail – Yay, tenacity!

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

I’m a big fan of Google Voice.  Combined with Verizon Friends & Family, I get tons of free calling on my HTC Incredible.  Also, the free SMS service (via my google voice number) using the google voice app is awesome.

That said, the voicemail-transcription service could use a little work… I found this one highly comical.  My buddy Darren called me up to share what he’d heard on local sports-talk radio in Austin regarding UT moving to the Pac 10 (this was under consideration a few months ago – it wound up not happening).  Apparently google voice seems to think people with a slightly Texan accent are talking about Japanese names.  Similarly, google voice butchers the transcripts when my dad calls me, who also has a bit of a Texas accent.  For whatever reason, though, my plumber with a Southie accent gets transcribed perfectly…

Anyone thinking Google is harvesting your voice calls for anything useful is insane.  That, or Google is about to rat out Darren for having important information about Yukiko infecting Yuki.

Anyway, this is Darren’s voicemail:

This is what the transcript thought he said:

This is what Darren actually said:

Just heard on the radio, it’s mostly official.  UT’s going to the Pac-10.  UT, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech.  A&M has 72 hours to decide, but apparently the SEC is also courting A&M, and why they would want to go to either one of those, I have no idea.  So, what the fuck.  Anyway, I’ll talk to you later.  I’m on my way to soccer.  I won’t be done until 8:30 local.  Talk to you later, bye

An Apple ad that will make you want to vomit

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

The mac/pc ads were cute & funny.  This 8-minute long navel-gazing circlejerk just makes me want to punch these dudes in the junk.  If the iPad “exceeds your ability to understand”, that doesn’t make the device “magical” — it makes you an idiot.  Is this the Apple target market now?  Okay, maybe I’m the idiot for even asking that question.

droid does?

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Verizon has been pitching their upcoming new consumer smartphone (the Droid) pretty aggressively (bonus points for using hipster douche background music in the spot). I’m currently out of contract on my verizon phone and am looking to upgrade, but verizon’s offerings are notoriously lacking. I have no interest in either a Windows mobile device nor a blackberry. I want something whose interface and usability is on par with my iPod touch, but AT&T is a non-starter for me (bad reception near my house on the South Shore) so I won’t be getting an iPhone.

Unfortunately, it looks like I’ll have to keep waiting. After carefully following the reviews for Verizon’s new Android phones (including the Motorola Droid and the HTC Eris), there are some fatal flaws (for me) in the lineup. The Droid has one of the ugliest, unusually shaped qwerty keyboards I’ve ever seen, and it’s got that curious directional pad off to the side. Well, it turns out that there’s a good reason the Droid has that screwball d-pad: the Droid doesn’t do multitouch input (pinch to precisely zoom out, expand to zoom in, etc). Apparently both the phone and the Android 2.0 software claim to support it, but it’s not enabled on the Droid. So either the support is bad/buggy/incomplete for the Droid’s higher resolution display, or Motorola fears Apple’s patent wrath (in a way that Palm doesn’t because of either cross-licensing or Mutually Assured Destruction from Palm’s own smartphone patent portfolio). With regard to the Eris, this is the hardware for the HTC Hero, which was universally received as underpowered. It also doesn’t run Android 2.0, which I’d want for integrated Exchange support.

Anyway, it looks like I’ll be waiting for another Android 2.0 device, the Palm Pre on Verizon, or a Verizon iPhone. Weak.

Apple’s iTunes 9 kills syncing with Palm Pre, again

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

As noted over at precentral, Apple’s latest update to iTunes once again kills the ability to sync an iTunes library with a Palm Pre.  I mentioned this last time when Apple did the functional equivalent with iTunes 8.2.1.  Unless Apple intends to force a data-negotiation phase with iPods (which would require mandatory firmware updates to every existing USB iPod), Palm will be able to continue working around such annoyances.  In this case, Palm will likely spoof the manufacturer ID (in addition to vendor-ID spoofing, which they’re already doing).  But at some point, this is going to have to stop.  Apple will have to decide if they really are going to force a firmware update on all existing iPods, and Palm will have to decide if they want to keep chasing Apple’s annoying counter-moves.  (It may be a moot point anyway — Apple may run out of options completely and may have to eventually give in, or use lawyers instead of technological means.  It’s not clear if the hardware on old iPods can be made to facilitate an authentication handshake — if the USB microcontroller isn’t software-programmable and is just a dumb data transport, then Apple is out of luck there).

In the end, customers lose.  Palm’s customers lose for obvious reasons, but Apple’s losing customers as well.  I’ll never understand the mentality behind turning your back on people who want to use your portal and presumably can & will buy music.  (Apple made the point pretty clear yesterday that people who use iTunes overwhelmingly buy stuff).  The other problem here is that Apple is already under investigation by the FTC regarding potential anti-trust issues (stemming from the App-store rejection of the Google Voice app).  Do they really want to take on another anti-competitive, anti-consumer cause?  I get that Apple wants to “control it all”, and in many ways, that’s worked for them over the years.  But if they continue being so rigid with it, they’re going to ultimately wind up losing control (under Federal regulations), in addition to losing the customers they’re literally booting out of their store (iTunes).

Adam Savage’s data-roaming & billing disaster

Monday, July 20th, 2009

You’ve probably heard about the $11,000 bill Adam Savage (of Mythbusters fame) got from AT&T after taking his mobile broadband card to Canada.  AT&T alleges he racked up 9 GB of data traffic while in Canada and proceeded to bill him at 1.5 (or .015, seeing as how their rep didn’t know the difference) cents per kilobyte.  Somehow, that comes out to $11,000, except, it doesn’t.  The data alone is either $135,000 (1.5 cents per kilobyte at 9 million KB) or $1,350 (.015 cents per kilobyte).  $11,000 is not an option there.  Maybe they meant .15 cents per kilobyte?  That’d make $13,500, which is at least in the ballpark.  Regardless, it’s an insane bill, but this math does not add up.

I bring this up not because the rate is insane (it is), but because there have been a few different takes on this story.  One that that made me think was from Leo Laporte (the Tech Guy, formerly of Tech TV who now has his own radio show/podcast).  I like Leo, but basically his take is that though the rates are crazy, Adam needs to come clean & say that he really did use 9GB of traffic.  (Adam claims that it was just a few hours of surfing).  Now, it’s possible that Adam really was downloading several movies (as in, 9+), or that he was there for quite a long time, or that his machine is (unknowingly) part of some botnet.  Casual surfing does not add up to 9GB, even over several days.  However, given that AT&T can’t seem to do math (see previous analysis), I don’t think it’s reasonable to give AT&T the benefit of the doubt about Adam’s bill.

As we go forward to the metered-Internet future (or at least, attempts thereof), can we actually trust the accounting of the telcos?  I’ve been hit with mysterious bills before from PacBell (allegedly I called Germany for 10 hours in one month, which was patently ridiculous), and the willingness of these folks to back down from huge bills suggests, to me, that they aren’t all that confident of their billing accounting.  Part of it also is probably that they know how ridiculous their rates are, but you don’t just walk away from $11,000 if you believe you really have provided $11,000 worth of service.  (Yeah yeah, cost of bad PR versus getting the money back, I get that).  Where is AT&T’s statement about Adam’s usage (not privacy-violating details, but just a bland “this is how we make sure our billing is accurate” type statement) that would assure the rest of us that we aren’t getting screwed?

It seems to me that there needs to be regulation in the presentation of bills to customers (especially when you can rack up $11k in one month!) to standardize these things, and there needs to be industry-wide regulation to ensure that the bills presented to customers are accurate.  This means penalties when the bills aren’t accurate.  (If I don’t pay my bills on time my credit gets damaged — what are the consequences for firms that issue erroneous bills?)  For example, when Comcast incorrectly billed me for three months after screwing up the bill-coding when I took back their DVR, there should be some consequence for them.  As it is, quasi-monopolies (granted by local franchising boards) and multi-year contracts (and penalties) effectively hold the customer hostage and separate these businesses from any market-driven consequences.  In the absence of those, I think regulation is a good idea here.

iTunes update kills syncing with Palm Pre

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Apple’s latest update to iTunes (8.2.1) has apparently “fixed the glitch” wherein a Palm Pre could effectively mimic the iPod interface and convince iTunes to let it sync as an iPod does.  In other words, it used to work, and now it doesn’t.  What an epic fail for interoperability.  A buddy of mine (who has a Pre and wanted to see what the update does on his non-primary Mac) watched his log during the update and noticed that the new iTunes replaces USB .kexts.  Laaaaame.  It’s shady enough to break support for the Pre at the app level, but mucking around in the driver stack to do it?  Weak.  Presumably the Windows version is doing the same thing, since I believe there is a USB driver there, too, to detect that it’s an iPod & prevent Windows from automatically mounting the filesystem.

I like a lot of Apple products and generally prefer OS X over anything else (nice mix of power-user options, orthogonal configuration choices, and “it just works”), but this is both stupid (wouldn’t you want everyone to standardize on your portal — iTunes?) and plainly irritating to users.  How many iPhone/iPod sales have they just protected with this move, versus how much ill will did they just stir up?  I get that Apple is a company for the mass-consumer market that doesn’t care about this and just buys iEverything.  It’s not a company for geeks like me, no matter how much I dig the geek-ish options in OS X and the automatic inclusion of all my handy unix tools.  I think they know that people like me won’t buy Apple stuff (again) if they do crap like this, or if they do stupid things like eliminate non-reflective LCD screens in their lineup.  (The clock is ticking on that one — I’ll probably get/build a PC for my next computer to upgrade from my 2006 iMac if they don’t offer a sub-$2000/non-crappy antiglare option in the next year or so).  They just don’t care, because I’m not statistically significant compared to people who just will just buy Apple stuff because it’s hip.  It’s frustrating, but it’s not surprising.  Microsoft does much the same stuff with their pricing/feature/partner-maneuvering stuff, which is similarly annoying.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I hear you out there, OSS people.  Don’t talk to me about Linux until you’ve got something that’s configurable without jacking around in an ever-changing layout of .conf files or doesn’t require non-stop incompatible updating.  FreeBSD is awesome & much better on the configuration/consistency front, but unfortunately has craptastic desktop hardware support for gadgets like cameras.  Neither of them have an Exchange 2007 client (crossover-office is cool, but still crashes occasionally).  Long story short:  it sucks, but I guess I’m just glad I’m not a Pre user right now.