25 Jul

Is a Broken Contact Form Acceptable?

In the course of the various gigs and projects I’m involved in, I end up looking for and using contact information on literally hundreds of corporate web sites per year. It’s already bad enough when a company selling armament or semi-conductors has impossible to find or broken contact information (bouncing email addresses or failing contact forms), if not simply none listed at all. But when we’re talking about the Canadian subsidiary of one of the Big Threes not listing any online contact info, and adding the insult to the injury with a broken help link, you’ve got to wonder whether anyone cares about the basics of customer interactiosn. Yahoo Canada, I’m inquiring about local advertising opportunities for a client of mine, is it too much to ask from an internet company NOT to force me to make a phone call? I’ll try that form (not really adequate but whatever at this point), we’ll see how it goes. You’d think a company like you has automatic “garbage collection” on their sites by now. Here’s hoping Google Canada sucks less.

19 Jul

Who’s Going to Take Online Real Estate to the Next Level?

Combine Realtor‘s MLS-based national (i.e. US) search with HousingMaps UI (because who cares for Craigslist housing listings?), including smart ideas such as a history of past sales as featured by Redfin (who is not alone in overlaying local MLS data on maps). Mix with itinerary (by foot or car) and transportation applications

08 Jul

Google Invests in Power Line Internet Access

People intrigued by Google’s investment in Current Communications Group might want to check this post from my archives about a speculative Google Broadband. Can you feel it coming? The edge has to become the middle again. Since Microsoft is too scared and corporate to do it, and Yahoo is focused on mimicking (quite successfully these days) the Google recipe, Google has to step up to get us back to original internet peer architectures, and it seems they might just do it.
All current assumptions about the need for centralized servers and separate ISP services to deliver their content to “end users” may be disrupted within the next decade. I just hate that I was able to upgrade my DSL from 512Kbps to 2Mbps downstream, yet upstream is left untouched at a measly 128Kbps. Get and serve any data (text, voice, pics, video) from your own desktop, laptop or phone, through your electricity bill or the wireless mesh. Who’s a gatekeeper then?
Google might end up as much a hardware as a software platform, and I’m not talking about their webfarm, a mere drop in the sea of the billions of connected devices out there. (And yes, I can hold widely conflicting opinions about Google yet my head doesn’t explode!)
Update: I should translate into practical terms what limited upload bandwidth means. We use both Vonage and Skype In/Out at our home/home office (we have 4 phone numbers in Portugal, the US, the UK and France). 128 Kbps upstream means at this very moment, because my girlfriend is skyping her sister in France (nothing wrong with that, honey!) I can’t call my business partner in the US. Forget the thought of making a VOIP call and playing an MMORPG at the same time (yes, I know about Ventrilo, I’m talking about real extended conversation here, not barking orders and the occasional laugh in an online game raid).
Yet Portugal and other countries are full of outdoor and TV ads about the newest, baddest, fastest DSL services now available. Most are increasingly asymmetrical. Talk about selling technology and not paying attention to actual user scenarios. The internet is a household utility with concurrent use by several of its members, not a solitary activity anymore.

01 Jul

Welcome to Media Buyer Planner

My friend and business partner Tig Tillinghast just launched another online trade publication at MediaBuyerPlanner.com. The domain name is pretty much self-explanatory so go check it yourself if you’re in that trade. Congrats and good luck MBP! We’re also making good progress with our joint DID and have more in the pipeline but we prefer to get to learn the markets we go into rather than flood search engines with bland cut’n’paste blogs.