Archive for the “Technology” Category

Don’t take the weekend off of you will let technology run right past you

You place a call and the person you are calling does not answer. You know what you need to do, which is leave a message. However, before you can do that you hear, “To page this person, press 5 now. At the tone, please record your message. When you are finished recording you may hang up or press 1 for more options.” [12 seconds]

I don’t know about you, but I have a better way to spend 12 seconds of my life. Cell phones have been around for a long time and voicemail systems and answering machines have been around for close to 30 years. We know how these things work. Have you ever used the “more options” feature? And more strange than the more options feature is the “paging” option. When is the last time you paged someone? I’d guess the last time I paged someone was 1997. We are passed this. Let me just hear the recipient’s voice and then hear the beep. I can take it from there.

I have an iPhone and played around with it to see if I could remove the AT&T voice after my greeting, but did not have any luck. I called AT&T to see if they could simply disable this for me. It took a few phone calls and I received a few different answers. Answers ranged from “We have no way to turn it off.” to “The AT&T voice prompt is different based on the voicemail system you are using.” Hmm. Ages ago I was involved in implementing a new phone system for my employer. I remember there being a simple check box to ENABLE the automated attendant or DISABLE automated attendant. That was about eight years ago. There is no way this is not an option on current voicemail systems (wireless or corporate systems).

After three or four phone calls (and a small threat to “look for another carrier for all of our corporate accounts”) you will no longer need to listen to the 12 seconds of Miss AT&T after my voice to leave me a message. Rather, you can just start recording after my last words and the immediate beep. It is worth mentioning, in my current role I have no authority over which cell phone carrier we use, but after getting nowhere on an issue that I knew could be solved, I decided the exaggeration was necessary.

How much time is wasted? It depends on your carrier and apparently the voicemail server you are utilizing. Depending on the source you use, there are about 270 million cell phone subscribers in the United States (Verizon has more than 80 million subscribers, AT&T is just short of 80 million subscribers, Sprint has roughly 50 million subscribers and T-Mobile 30+ million subscribers). If one phone call was made to every cell phone in the U.S., and that call is not answered, a total of 37,500 days / 900,000 hours / 54,000,000 minutes / 3,240,000,000 seconds are wasted every day on these “auto attendants.”
Do everyone a favor and call your cell phone company and demand they remove their auto attendant message so we can all add time back to our lives. Threaten the fact that you will move your entire corporation, consisting of 4,000 – 5,000 users to a new carrier if you must, to get them to make the change. You don’t even have to say where you work.

For AT&T call: 1-800-331-0500

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I have needed glasses since I was about two years old. I always hated them. In the 1970’s there was only one style of glasses for kids and I had them. To be honest, I do not think “the look” is what made me hate wearing glasses though. I truly am not sure what my hang up was. I just knew I didn’t want to wear them. Every year the first day of school my parents would tell my teacher that I own glasses, but not to worry if I didn’t wear them. I guess that was my parents way of explaining that they were not neglecting their child and also making sure the teacher knew it was not his or her job to make me wear my glasses.

By the time I got in high school I was ready to try contacts. I was thinking my eyes were the reason I couldn’t shoot very well (basketball). I tried contacts for a couple of months and hated every day. I must blink slow because the sweat would burn the bejesus out of my eyes when I was wearing the contacts. That was the end of that experiment and the last effort I made to be able to see.

It was the last effort until after I graduated college. I went to the eye doctor and asked about glasses / surgery. He asked the standard “can you read the letters on the second line down?” With my left eye, I was okay. With my right eye I had no idea of there were four letters or eight letters. At the end of the appointment, he said I was fine and didn’t need glasses at all. Right or wrong, I liked the answer and left the office.

A few weeks ago I gave the eye doctor another try, and had a similar conversation (“Better #1 / #2?), and again the result was “no glasses.” Nice! I did ask for an explanation as to why I needed glasses my whole life until now. The answer was that maybe growing up my eyes were really slow to focus and as I aged and began to read more, my eyes learned how to focus quicker. – Whatever. I liked the answer.

Most surprising about the appointment was that the technology for testing a person’s eyes has not changed in seeminly 50 years. “Better #1 / Better #2?….Better #1 / Better #2?” If I heard it once, I heard it 50 times. I feel like the technology with this should have advanced by 2008. A $50 digital camera can focus in less than a second. Isn’t there something that could automate the process of bringing letters into focus for an individual at an eye exam?

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Cell phones, email and internet. It is 2007 and obviously everyone has access to these technologies. The question is, how well can you access them from one single device? It used to be that you needed a cell phone, PDA and computer. That has been changing, but usually at the cost of something. Some of the PDAs that turned into cell phones were so big, you couldn’t throw them in your pocket. They were also quite expensive. You didn’t want to carry them with you everywhere because they were bulky and for fear of losing it or having it break.

I believe there is finally a solution. I’ve been using a Blackberry Pearl for a couple of months now and love it. I think they have finally found the right combination of size and functionality. It is almost the exact same size as my RAZR phone. The Pearl is roughly 4” X 2” X 0.5” and weighs only 3.1oz. The screen is big enough to read full emails. I think most people are scared off by the QWERTY keyboard with each key being multiple letters. Not to worry. The key to typing on the key pad is the predictive text. It is more than solid. You rarely, if ever, need to worry about whether you are typing an “e” or an “r” (which share the same key), etc. It is actually surprisingly good at proper nouns as well. I don’t even have to correct it on a name like “McInerney,” which is reason enough to make the investment. Web-browsing is also quite good (both WAP and HTML). The full web-pages load impressively quickly. The battery life (in two months) has been not failed me. The navigation is made easier than other Blackberry devices by the introduction of the trackball.

I’m two months into the use of this Blackberry Pearl and I’m still searching for a negative aspect to it. The biggest reason of all (aside from the fact that it can predict McInerney accurately) to purchase a Blackberry Pearl might be the price tag. I believe they are roughly $150, potentially less with activation and service agreement.

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