I've made my share of vociferous complaints about spinning through automated phone systems without ever reaching a real person. The self-help Internet Age has made everything worse as more corporations channel customers back to online help centers. Grr, it dampens my mood just thinking about it; there are simply some situations that call for prompt human interaction.Dial Zero is one free iPhone application that can ease the pain. To get a live person, start by scrolling or searching for the company you wish to call. Then, tap the phone number and follow the instructions posted on each record … Read more
And that, my friends, is how we get you to listen all the way to the end. But in actual news of the day, a judge ordered Google to expose the viewing habits of millions of YouTube users. But it's OK, because only a few people will get to look at them. That's fine, right? Also, we freak out about privacy and identity theft, just in time for a study that acknowledges that consumers are freaking out about privacy and identity theft. Plus, the power of video compels you...to switch to broadband.Listen now: Download today's podcast … Read more
Got dial-up and don't want to give it up? You're not alone.
An estimated 10 percent of Americans are surfing the net via dial-up connections, according to a report released Wednesday by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.
And a lot of those people apparently see no compelling reason to change. The report indicates that those users are not itching to make a change to a speedier broadband connection in large part because, they say, broadband is too expensive.
Of this dial-up group, 35 percent cited the cost issue, while 19 percent say nothing will ever prompt … Read more
AOL is raising the subscription fee by 20 percent for its low-cost dial-up service plan, a move that illuminates an awkward phase of its transition from an Internet service provider to an online media and advertising company.
The Time Warner division told subscribers last week that beginning July 27, it would raise its monthly dial-up rate from $9.99 to $11.99 per month. Subscribers who specifically sign up for a plan with limited technical support can keep the $9.99 rate, though, but they won't get phone-based help unless dealing with an Internet connection issue.
The move obviously … Read more
In about six weeks, Dial2Do will launch its mobile phone platform for dictating commands to various Web services. (we have a limited supply of early beta invites; read to the end). It's an interesting play to make users more productive during their commutes.
When you sign up for Dial2Do, you'll be able to immediately use it to dictate yourself reminders. After a brief address book set-up you can also speak SMS and e-mail messages to others. The service transcribes your speech for its messages.
You can also use the service to control various Web 2.0 sites. On … Read more
Mobile users away from their computers have had a handful of options for directory services in the past couple of years. There's TellMe (555-TELL), FREE-411, CALL-411, and GOOG-411 to name some of the free ones. There are also the official ones from each of the carriers that are billed a la carte--and usually at a high price.
This morning FREE-411 (one of the older services of the crowd) has announced a partnership with a useful driving directions service Dial DIR-ECT-IONS to help people find phone numbers and addresses for businesses or residential listings along with step-by-step directions for how … Read more
Boopsie showed off its mobile search application, which has both a standalone application for phones with open platforms like Windows Mobile and Palm, along with a BREW and J2ME application, and an ajaxy Web interface the company touts as iPhone-friendly. The search tool is focused around categories, which the user has to choose before seeing a search box. Boopsie's CEO Greg Carpenter did a live demo of the service on a Palm Treo for finding a Wikipedia entry. The results come up live and very quickly. It's also got prefix search, meaning you need to type in only the first few letters of a word in multi-word searches.
The company makes its money from theme-skinned clients and an enterprise version that can be tweaked for businesses wanting to use it as an internal tool. Eventually Boopsie hopes to integrate keyword placement with wallpapers, ringtones, and all the other things that are making buckets of cash for mobile-phone companies.The panel of judges chided Boopsie for putting too much pressure on the consumer who needs to pre-think searches by picking a category--something that goes against the current trend of letting users be "lazy" and simply type into a blank search box. Carpenter says consumers who use the application tend to use it extensively enough after doing a single search that they identify channels they go back to.
Buzzwire focuses on streaming media, which is made from audio, video, and written content like blog posts and news articles. The service is launching "early" next year, as soon as it can line up carrier support, although the company has had a 3000-user beta trial going since July. The application lets people find stuff to read, listen to, or watch online, and make customized lists of favorites that can be accessed on both the phone and from a desktop browser. There's also a social-networking component with a sharing service that lets users swap bookmarks with one another.
The big question from the moderators is how the company would maintain whatever deal it have with the carriers without being pushed out over time. Buzzwire's answer was that the content it serves up is king, and that it always tries to maintain compatibility on as many platforms as possible.… Read more
Despite financial woes, EarthLink is kicking butt in the broadband market, according to a J.D. Power and Associates customer satisfaction survey published Wednesday.
EarthLink, which said last month that it would lay off nearly half its staff, got the highest customer satisfaction ranking for delivering broadband services in the East and South regions of the United States. It also ranked second in the North Central region of the country.
Frank Perazzini, director of telecommunications at J.D. Power and Associates, said that what's impressive about EarthLink's performance in the survey is that it bucks conventional wisdom.
"… Read more
Earlier this month, New York enacted an Air Passenger Bill of Rights. Among other things, it requires that airlines make minimal provisions for passengers stranded on the tarmac for more than three hours. If you've done any traveling with kids, you probably know how difficult it is to both pack light (a key strategy for successful travel generally) and to pack enough stuff so that if there's a delay, you can keep the little ones occupied. The New York law bounds the problem a little bit: if your longest leg is 6 hours, you can be relatively assured that your outbound leg from a New York airport won't add more than 3 hours to that. But as the US Customs and Border Patrol SNAFU at LAX confirms, airport authorities don't seem to get particularly concerned about tarmac waits of 6, 8, or 10 hours, be they outbound or inbound. I think that when traveling with children, that's a bit much. What's a parent to do?… Read more