Wed 12 Jul 2006 03:05:05 PM PDT
Getting stuff working
How to get stuff working
Read blogs and mailing list posts written by people who are trying nifty products. Search Google and Technorati for product names. Look at devices that people are carrying around at freedom-loving events, and ask how well they work. ("That's a cool camera, does it work with gPhoto?" is a good way to meet random people, too.)
Wait for someone to post an "I got (product) working" article that describes something you like, and is reasonably clear and spell-checked.
Do what that person did. When you go in to buy the product, reveal as little information about your intended use as possible to the product vendor.
If the product doesn't work right away, ask questions on the blog or list.
If you do have to call for hardware replacement, don't contradict any instructions that the support person gives you. "Send replacement" is at the end of a maze that includes a bunch of hoops for you to jump through.
By the way, "re-branding" AT&T Wireless as Cingular cost the phone company $4 billion (Advertising Age, registration required). Now they're switching the name back. Will they spend another $4 billion? Advertising consultant Judy Neer said, "To the real techies, they get it and they understand it. But to the average consumer, it's very confusing." She forgot the hate. Where's the hate? That $4 billion came from somewhere. Oooo, Jonathan Coulton ringtones!
(Personally I really wish they had kept "Cingular" so I wouldn't have to type & all the time, but I guess phone company name changes are the biggest dead-cat bounce for the TV industry since DTC pharmaceutical advertising. Maybe I'll just call the company T, since stock symbols are harder to change than brand names.)