Hey Siri. You Stink.

I commute into NYC for work and as part of that commute, I have to drive to my local transit station, which is at most a 5-8 minute drive from my house. And like many people in this situation, I use a “commuter car” that we have had for a long time – in my case a 2004 Honda Pilot (which is a great car as evidenced by the fact that you still see a *ton* of these models on the road today). It gets me to the station and back. This is a model that – gasp – has a tape deck in the dashboard and does not have Bluetooth!

So to bring the car into the modern era, several months ago I purchased a handy Bluetooth adapter that can flow my favorite Podcasts through the car’s audio system. When I get in the car, most times my iPhone 8 will connect automatically to the adapter’s Bluetooth signal. But there are times when that does not happen – not a big deal. Now here is where things get frustrating. So in these circumstances, you would *think* I could just say “Hey Siri, connect my iPhone to Bluetooth signal ‘ABCD'” and the phone would connect. I mean, it seems like a pretty basic function to enable. But no! Instead, Siri says “Sorry, can’t do that” and gives me a link to the Bluetooth section of my iPhone settings. I then need to go into that interface, select the correct Bluetooth signal and wait for it to pair.

It is little things like this that you would think Siri would be able to handle, especially using the new Siri Shortcuts feature, however from the research I’ve done, this is in fact not possible (yet).

Just a miss on an interaction that Apple should have considered.

Ready, AIM, Miss

Granted, the whole “instant communications” sector is going through a major upheaval as there are so so many options for people to use these days – Pinger, FaceTime, Facebook IM, Text Messaging, Skype, ooVoo, and on and on – but wow, AOL Instant Messenger’s usage has fallen 64% over the past year.

Whoever is to blame, the truth is that there has been no bigger missed opportunity in the technology business than AOL Instant Messenger. There’s an investor we (ed: SAI) know in New York who swears AOL blew it when it didn’t turn AIM into a full-on Skype competitor.

When I briefly worked at AOL and on the IM product, it was sometimes referred to as AOL’s “800 pound gorilla” because it had so so many registered users that AOL had no idea what to do with. I guess they never figured out what to do with them and now their once dominant market position has eroded in a major way.


No Balls And Two Strikes

How can two marquee franchises in the two biggest markets in the country be in such disarray? And why are they being handled so differently by MLB? It’s because of the Major League Baseball “Buddy” system.

Bud Selig’s golf buddy Fred Wilpon got taken to the financial cleaners by Bernie Madoff, is now getting sued by the trustee of Madoff’s victims, the Wilpon’s are begging for loans and trying to sell up to 49% of the Mets (so they can still be in control…if only by the skin of their teeth) and the Mets are in an epic state of disarray. But a discussion about MLB taking over the Mets is not on the table.

The LA Dodgers owner Frank McCourt has been dragged through the tabloids because of an ugly divorce, he has run this storied franchise into financial disarray through his real estate dealings (and the hangover from the housing crisis that just won’t go away), and he’s scoring rouge loans from Fox TV (MLB’s broadcast partner) to meet payroll.

So how is it that MLB made a shotgun decision to take over operations of the Dodgers yesterday yet are letting the NY Madoffs Mets continue to beg for funding? I admit not to knowing the gory details, but you can’t tell me that the Mets are in any better a financial or operational situation than the Dodgers. The Madoff – Wilpon situation underscored a question I always had about the Wilpon’s financial “fortune” – how exactly did they do it? Smoke and mirrors come to mind. The McCourt situation is just as big an epic #fail. To me, Selig’s taking over of the Dodgers, and not doing the same with the Mets, reeks of cronyism – a “Buddy” system.

But hey, lets go ahead and keep a painfully long 162 game schedule AND expand the playoffs so we can sit in 28 degree weather off of Lake Erie (or in Fenway or in Yankee Stadium) for the first ever 5 hour long prime time baseball game in December.

Mind The Gap

You may have heard about The Gap’s recent inept attempt to redesign their logo. To demonstrate just how poor the decision making was there, the fine folks at ISO50 held a Gap Logo Redesign Contest, reaching out to the broader interweb design community to submit their own redesigns for the iconic logo. The results are, in my humble opinion, spectacular…with a couple of snarky designs thrown in for good measure! Just some amazing designs that reinforce just how bad the one that The Gap chose really is.

It appears that the geniuses at The Gap are now backpedaling on their decision making processes.

And for those few that really do like the new logo, you can generate a logo of your own right here.

An Open Letter to Skullcandy

Dear Skullcandy:

For the second time, I’m sending back your Ink’d in-ear headphones.

For the second time, they have #failed in the same manner – one of the earbuds stopped working.

On your site and in your customer service correspondence, you imply that your products can withstand “extreme listening”. My listening demands call for me to pull them out of my pocket, plug them into my Droid, put them in my ears, and listen when I commute to my job in NYC. I’ll concede that NYC can be a zoo sometimes, but it’s not like my usage patterns of your product is anything close to extreme.  With both Ink’d products that I have returned, one of the earbuds on the headphones has failed and I can only hear audio out of the other earbud.  In the first instance, my assessment was that the root cause was a frayed connection of the cable to the jack.  For my most recent instance, I’m really not sure what is happening that is causing the earbud to fail.

I’ll be honest here, I’m a little frustrated with your products, especially being that I’m not doing anything “extreme” when using your headphones. One time I can understand, but two times is troubling.

But wait, there’s more! I was in Best Buy the other day, looking at replacement headphones to purchase.  I happened to overhear two women who were also looking at headphones, where one of them was saying that her current headphones (which were in her hand) had failed. When I looked down at them, they were distinctively Skullcandy.  I struck up a conversation with them and we compared notes. The issue she had experienced was exactly what I have experienced, in that the cable connection to the jack had frayed and caused the audio and headphone to fail.

I don’t know if it’s a problem with the Ink’d line or a broader issue with your in-ear headphones, but I would look long and hard at how these are produced and figure out where the defect is.  I wanted to like your products, really I did. But I’ve lost my patience. And it appears the woman I spoke with in Best Buy did too.

What?!? A Buggy Microsoft App?

I find it utterly hysterical and ironic that for some strange reason, I can not log onto Microsoft’s Hotmail, via their “wonderful” Passport authentication system, from the version of Internet Explorer that is on my computer, yet I can successfully log on when using Netscape. My Hotmail account is a spam account anyway, and I rarely use it for anything but signing up for sites I have limited interest in, so its not a big deal. But it is humorous none the less.