Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Google Apps for Business Gmail IMAP Support

My Review: 5

Google either dropped or lost IMAP support today.  Techcrunch’s Mark Hendrickson reported it here.

Now it’s back up – it seems to look fine and work fine.

It’s lame that it failed and/or went down and / or was taken away – lots of businesses rely on it.

It’s good that it is working now and seems as though it’s going to stay there.  If it was a bug then it’s weird that it actually disapperaed from the settings tab itself (as opposed to simply not working.)

But, since it’s there now and appears to be working, we’ll just call it a 5 and keep an even keel.  😉

Advertisements

Hulu, a video website

My Review: 9

hulu_logo.jpg

I first read about Hulu, as usual, on Techcrunch. I also go my invite to the private Hulu beta back in January by reading an article Mark Hendrickson wrote for Techcrunch.  Many people across the blogosphere have now written about Hulu, largely with good things to say.   I don’t plan to be unique in this instance – I have good things to say too.  Below is a brisk, bulleted battery of reasons why I think Hulu is excellent and likely to be a winner in this space.  Note to developers and Hulu competitors: most of my likes have to do with, you guessed it, user experience.  Try to keep up.

  • Hulu has lots of good content, most importantly: full length movies as well as TV shows
  • Great selections from multiple networks (Fox, NBC, etc.)
  • Fun, old school TV content as well as new / popular content: lots of old school shows like Battlestar Galactica (the original), Knight Rider, and Flipper 🙂
  • Incredible Selection of full length movies
  • User Interface and User Experience:
    • The in screen player shows video in very high quality
    • There is a full screen mode, still very good quality
    • There is a pop-out player, so you can arrange your desktop as you like – the pop-out size is adjustable
    • Outstanding memory features: I watched 1 1/2 hours of a movie, and then had to close my computer.  I came back the next day and as soon as I logged into Hulu, it the movie restarted from the exact same spot where I had stopped
  • Queues and Favorites – you can easily set up a list of favorites or shows / movies that you want to watch

picture-1.png

The site is clean, easy to navigate, and well thought out.  There are some basic social features, for instance you can set up a profile with your favorite shows, movie, books and music.  And you can rate content as you watch it, and see feedback from other users.  I’ve used many other video sites before, like Veoh, Daily Motion,  and obviously YouTube.  None of them even come close to Hulu in terms of content variety, content quality, or user experience.  Huge thumbs up and a resounding 9 out of 10.

kwiry helps you remember… stuff

My Review: 8

kwiry-logo.jpg

Disclaimer: I work with kwiry.

kwiry is a reminder service. Imagine you are on the bus, or at a restaurant with a friend, and you see or hear about… something. It might be a book, or anew movie, or a new album by Jimi Hendrix (even though he’s been dead for 38 years…) You know this is something you want to check out, but you will probably forget about it by the time you get home again. kwiry lets you send a text message about the movie/book/album/whatever and stores that message for you online, and sends you an email. That way, when you get home with a keyboard and a monitor at your disposal, you get your reminder email and you can check out said movie/book/album/whatever. In addition to the email reminder, kwiry also delivers search results (Yahoo!, Amazon, iTunes, etc.) on your kwiry.

Some people might raise objections: why not just send yourself an email directly with your smart phone?, or using the memo pad function on your phone? But not all phones do email. And you still need to remember to look at your memo pad when you get home. But all cell phones do text messaging, and most people have their cell phones with them all the time. kwiry took the least common denominator (texting) for the most number of people (mobile phone users in America) and created a useful service.

One of the things I like most about kwiry, aside from emailed reminders and search results, is the centralized list of ALL my reminders. Post it notes get thrown away. The tasks I put in my calendar (pay the bills, pick up the Hanukkah bush, etc.) get lost in the shuffle. I think it’s neat (and useful) to have a centralized list of all the little notes to myself that I wanted to remember – these are things I can look at weeks or months after the fact.

I tagged this under the gadgets category, even though it’s a website. I did that becasue it’s useful, and I use it with my phone most of the time. In my mind that makes it (sort of) a gadget. I think kwiry is a cool service, and it’s free. Even though I work with kwiry to promote the service, I still find myself using it on a regular basis, for my own personal needs. And I’m a fan of kwiry on Facebook.

In spite of any potential conflict of interest, I independently find kwiry useful. That’s high praise compared with most of the web 2.0 garbage that I see, take note of, and then promptly disregard as unnecessary. kwiry gets an 8 out of 10; it helps me remember things on a daily basis.

U.S. Bank Online Access

My Review: 3

I tagged this under Web 2.0, but really this a very Web 1.0 site and issue. I just tried logging into my online account for my credit card, provided by U.S. Bank. I got a message that said: “Internet Banking is experiencing high traffic volumes at this time. Please try again later.”

us_bank_error.jpg

That is not acceptable. U.S. Bank is a major financial institution with millions of customers. They ought to be able to scale their servers well enough to deal with my traffic. It is not acceptable that I can’t check my credit card balance anytime I want, not in the year 2008. These are the kinds of FUBAR’s that cost companies their customers.

U.S. Bank’s website gets a 3 today, and they barely deserve that.

———————————————————————————————————————— 

 UPDATE:

I have to say that as annoyed as I was with US Bank, I was not expecting much in the way of a response.  But I was pleasantly surprised and impressed.  I sent the tech support an email with my post, and I heard a prompt response:

I apologize for any misunderstanding or inconvenience regarding this issue.  We are not aware
of high traffic issues on our website over this last weekend.  Your browser may have stored an
incorrect shortcut in its temporary internet files (cache).  Please clear your cache, delete any
bookmarks or favorites for www.usbank.com, close out of your computer and manually type in our
web address to log on with your current Personal ID and Password...”

The response goes on for literally 2 pages after that.  Their answer did not at all satisfy my issue.  I know that it was not a stored cookie issue, or anything of the sort.  I still think it’s ridiculous to have the site be unavailable, and because that is inexcusable, I am not revising my rating.

Nevertheless, this lengthy and timely response was more and better than I expected to get, and I want to acknowledge it.   It shouldn’t have happened at all, but they did try to respond to my issue.

Couchville, We Hardly Knew Ye

My Review: 1

I regret to say that Couchville has apparently bit the dustbin. The web-based TV service (which I first heard about on Techcrunch) is no longer available.

couchville_no_more_sized.jpg

SnapStream, the makes of Couchville are no longer able to support the service. For those who did not know, Couchville was a simple web-app that let you enter your location and receive a simple and straightforwardTV schedule. My wife loves it and is super bummed.

SnapStream is a Houston, Texas based company that produces both enterprise and consumer focused TV-related software. We’re sorry to see their handy little web-app go.

The SnapStream forums show that the decision to stop service was announced on the 18th of January. The founder got online and said:

“In the week or two, we’ll be taking our free TV listings website, Couchville (http://www.couchville.com/), offline. At least for now, this is the end of the road for any kind of a free TV listings website from SnapStream.

For the Couchville loyalists out there, we’re sorry to take the site away from you. If you’re wondering why we’re making this move, simply put, it doesn’t make business sense for us to keep the site running.

So thanks to everyone who blogged about the site, spread the word, wore the t-shirt, and, most importantly, used the site day after day. TV recording software for consumers (and now for businesses too with SnapStream Enterprise) has always been more of our ‘thing’ and that’s where we intend to keep our focus.”

The service actually went down on February 11th.

Couchvile itself deserved at least an 8 for simplicity and utility. Seeing it go is a bummer, and thus merits a rating of 1.

UPDATE:

Techcrunch posted today about Couchville joining the TC deadpool. Duncan gave us a shout-out. Thank you Mr. Riley. 😉

iPhone Defender Case From Otterbox

My Review: 7

otterbox-defender-07.jpg

So I have been using the iPhone Defender case from Otterbox for about 5 days straight now. I have some thoughts. I think the easiest thing will be to break this up into several categories:

  • Beauty
  • Fit and Finish
  • Protection
  • Accessibility
  • Functionality

Beauty: 8

The case looks great. There is no question that it bulks the phone up a bit, which is an unfortunate side effect of almost any case you put an iPhone into. But if you are into the rugged, rubberized look then I think you will dig the appearance of this case. I have the black model, and it looks serious.

otterbox-defender-14.jpg otterbox-defender-02.jpg

Fit and Finish: 6

Ok, the rubberized, silicon skin is great. It doesn’t feel sticky, but it has the right amount of tack to keep it firmly in your hand. I like the feel of it. However, when you peel off the skin, the plastic underneath feels a little bit cheap. Also, it is nearly impossible to figure out to open the darn thing. At first I didn’t actually realize that the skin comes off. Once I figured that out, I couldn’t see how to open the plastic case itself. No doors, no levers, no buttons. I finally noticed that there were small holes in strategic locations around the outside of the case. I took a small screwdriver and pried those open, and the case finally popped free.

otterbox-defender-09.jpg otterbox-defender-10.jpg otterbox-defender-11.jpg

The whole time I was holding my breath because the plastic felt friable and likely to snap. It didn’t and the thing opened fine, but it was definitely not intuitive. Later, when I looked on the website I found this video about using the case – I wish I had seen it earlier. To be clear, you NEED to watch this video if you are going to own this case.

Protection: 8

This is a”lifestyle” case from Otterbox, meant for every day use. It is not waterproof, but it will certainly protect from every day bumps and drops, and a light rain sprinkle. For it’s intended purpose, I think this case performs admirably. It’s not supposed to protect from full immersion or nook-u-lar attacks. It works very well for casual, every day living and usage.

otterbox-defender-06.jpg

Accessibility: 6
As the website notes, you can not access the “silence” the phone using the the slider button on the top left of the iPhone. While they did disclaim this issue in the product write-up, the fact remains that this is a pretty core piece of functionality to be able to access. I was in a meeting, and then later ewnt to the movies (to see Rambo IV.) I did not want to go through the hassle of removing the case (it’s a process.) Both times I was forced to power off my phone, and it would have been much simpler use the silence button.

iphone_defender_silence_crop.jpg

I could also have put it in Airplane mode, but that required more steps, and is not much quicker to come back than a straight up power-off. I don’t see why they don’t use another flap in the silicon cover or create some kind of toggle. There are plastic bumpers at the corners, presumably for both protection and for structural integrity, but this is not a bomb-proof case. I think they need to integrate this feature, it’s something I use every day.

Aside from the issue of the silencer button, this case give pretty good access to all the other features. The camera lens, home-screen button, volume buttons headphone plug and power plug all work fine. It is not possible to set the phone into its cradle while in the case, but it is easy enough to simply plug the cord directly into the phone’s base.

Functionality: 5

I did run into one major problem with the functionality of the phone while in the case. The issue was typing. Trying to type text messages and emails is SIGNIFICANTLY more difficult with the case on. The problem is the ridges on the side of the case. They stick up and make it very difficult to hit letters that are close to the edge of the screen. The touch screen is already difficult enough to type, and this makes it worse.

otterbox-defender_high_ridge.jpg

One other small problem was a weird issue. With the case and cover on, a wet spot would appear under the clear plastic cover, over the screen. It almost looked oily. I took the case apart and thoroughly cleaned both the plastic cover and the screen of the phone, but the problem persisted. Really weird, and very annoying. However, when I watched the video, I discovered that Otterbox is well aware of the problem, and has a solution. As the video demonstrates, before you put the phone into the case, you should clean it off and then rub your palm over the screen. This fixes the problem. I don’t know why or how, but it totally worked. If anyone knows why this works, please feel free to comment below. Bottom line, WATCH THAT VIDEO if you buy an iPhone Defender case.

otterbox-defender-12.jpg otterbox-defender-13.jpg

On the positive side though, I am very impressed by how well the touch screen works, even through the plastic covering. It seems to me to be 95% as sensitive as it was without any covering at all, and that’s excellent.

Now for the total. If I add up all the scores (8+6+8+6+5) I get a total of 33. Divided by 5 we get an averaged score of 6.6, and we come out with a (rounded) total score of 7. So that is my review total for the iPhone Defender case from Otterbox, 7 out 10 and a confident recommendation. If you want a good looking case that will protect your phone and give you access to most of its features, this is a good purchase.

At $49.95 (plus tax and shipping) they are not cheap, but it could well be worth it to protect your (rather) expensive phone. Just be prepared to suffer a new learning curve in typing – if you are iPhone email freak or text-master then I would be wary of this case. And WATCH THAT VIDEO.

Guitar Hero III for the PC

My Review: 5

guitar-hero-iii-cover-image.jpg     rologo.gif

I think Guitar Hero, the series of games from Red Octane, kicks motha-flippin’ ass. I love to rock out, it’s simple and fun. So I am not going to review Guitar Hero in general; everyone already knows that it rules.

Instead I am going to review, specifically, GH3 for the PC.

I don’t own a gaming console. I know, it’s crazy, my bad. For a techno-weenie geek-boy to not own a gaming console is like a Kansas City holy-roller only owning one bible. Not normal.

Nevertheless, I don’t own a gaming console. I’ve played GH2 on the Xbox 360 with friends, and played GH3 on the Wii. I had a lot of fun, but I didn’t want to sink $400-$700 into owning a console so that I could play one game. However, I did recently build my own PC. My buddy Jeff helped me put together a custom computer. This was my first time building my own machine. I bought all the components, installed everything, the works. Jeff helped. Here are the major stats:

  • NZXT Apollo mid-tower computer case
  • Antec Tru-Power Trio TP3-550W power supply
  • Intel Core 2 Duo 2.66 GHz processor
  • Asus P5E-VM DO motherboard
  • Corsair XMS2 240-pin DDR2 memory (4 x 1 GB)
  • 2, Asus 18x lightscribe DVD-RW burners
  • Nvidia GeForce 8400 Graphics card w/ 512 MB dedicated video memory
  • 2, 7200 rpm Seagate 500GB hard drives in a RAID 1 (hardware RAID)

Being as I have a brand-new bad-ass mother-jammer (three hyphenated double-words in a row, yes!) I figured maybe I should search for whether there is a PC version of Guitar Hero 3. Wouldn’t that be cool? Maybe it’s nicer to rock out in front of your television, but I do have a 22″ widescreen LCD monitor, so that’s not too bad. Since I already built the computer anyway, this seemed like a cheaper and more reasonable alternative.

So, 1 or 2 Google search results later, lo and behold there is a version of GH3 for the PC.

180px-aspyr-logo.gif Aspyr, a gaming company, contracted with Red Octane to port a version of GH3 for the Mac and the PC. Sweet. Better yet, on my routine visit to Costco the next day they are selling the PC version. Right there at Costco. Life is good again.

aspyr1_capture.png

So, now I have a sweet machine and the video game I’ve been drooling over. How does it all stack up? Not that great.

It’s not terrible, but I have some deep concerns. For one thing, it stutters a little bit. When you are playing a musical game that depends on your being able to follow the rhythm of the song, stuttering present a pretty big issue.

The minimum system requirements for the graphics card list a “Video Card: 3D Hardware Accelerator Card Required – 100% DirectX 9.0c compatible 128 MB Video Memory.” They recommend 256 MB video card. Mine is a 512 MB card, and it still stutters. The only way I could find to mitigate the stutter was to lower the graphics resolution in the game options to the minimum setting. This did not wipe out all the stuttering, but it did help enough so that the game is playable. Yay.

website_aspyr.png

Now Guitar Hero is not really a graphics intensive game, and truthfully I don’t really notice the difference all that much. However, I think it is totally lame that it was necessary to lower the resolution to the minimum. My new computer meets or exceeds all the other system requirements in addition to the graphics card. That tells me that the problem is probably not my system. I think it much more likely that Aspyr did not make a very good port.

It is also possible that Red Octane did not do as good of a job with GH3 as they did with GH 1 and 2. Harmonix (who is now making Rock Band, a Guitar Hero competitor) did all the coding for GH 1 and 2. Red Octane contracted with a different company to code GH3 – that’s part of the reason that it looks significantly different from previous versions.  The new company coded it up pretty fast, and perhaps they didn’t do as good of a job.  I have seen stutters on GH3 even on the Wii, though not as bad as what I experienced with the PC.

Another bone I have to pick is the controller.  The guitars for all other versions of Guitar Hero 3 are wireless.  Not so for the PC version.  In fact, the guitar for PC is actually the Xbox 360 guitar for Guitar Hero 2, right down to the little Xbox logo.  That is pretty lame.  I can (sort of) understand using a wired guitar on the first version, probably simplified a few things.  But at least give me my own guitar, and not one that has Xbox symbols on it.

guitar-hero-ii_51.jpg

Apparently Aspyr has released a patch for the game, patch #1.1, and it is supposed to resolve certain issues. I am going to download it and try it out, but I am not overly optimistic.  I supposed any port is likely to work less perfectly than the original.  And it honestly  isn’t that bad.  It’s just not great either.  Not the experience I was hoping for anyway.  So, because it is mediocre, it gets a solid 5 out of 10.

My Black 4GB ASUS EeePC

My Review: 7

(Disclaimer: I work for a company in this industry, and we have a peripheral interest in this device.  My opinions of the device are my own and do not reflect those of my company or ASUS.) 

I just got a black, 4GB, ASUS EeePC. I have some un-boxing and first run pictures scattered throughout the post, for your viewing pleasure.

eeepc_5colors-2.jpg

For those not in the know, the EeePC is an ultra-miniature laptop that is supposed to have an ultra-miniature price. The original estimate for the 4GB model was supposed to be $200.00, but this beauty came with a $350 price tag in the end.

img_0191.jpgimg_0192.jpgimg_0193.jpg

However, I still think it’s well worth it, for a variety of reasons:

  • compactness – there is a 7″ screen, and only 2.5 lbs to lug around
  • integrated wifi – you can connect anywhere and have a full computing experience
  • integrated webcam – great for Skype calls with video chat (more on this later)
  • solid state hard drive – there is no traditional hard drive, so the thing runs cooler and uses less energy
  • runs a Linux OS (Xandros) – though you can get a version with Windows XP (Vista won’t fly this low)

img_0194.jpgimg_0195.jpgimg_0196.jpg

It is possible to install a variety of different Operating Systems on this machine (Linux, OSX, Windows, someone even created an optimized flavor of Ubuntu). At the moment I am leaving the Xandros version of Linux on there.

img_0203.jpg

The OS is set up with a tabbed desktop which offers a combination of different applications. Some of them are traditional Linux apps (like Open Office for document creation and Skype for VOIP calls). Other “applications” are really just hyper-links to bookmarked websites. For instance, there is an iGoogle icon which, when clicked, will launch Firefox (the default web browser) and bring you to iGoogle, Google’s widgetized personal desktop. This model is semi Web-driven and similar in some respects to Everex’s gOS. Interesting.

The specs are available on a variety of different websites, including Asus’s. Here is a snapshot:

  • Dimensions: 225 × 165 × 21~35 mm (8.9 × 6.5 × 0.9~1.4 in)
  • Display: 7 in (17.8 cm) 800×480 TFT LCD with LED backlight
  • Graphics: Integrated Intel GMA 900 graphics processor (Shared Memory Architecture), additional VGA port (up to 1600×1280 pixels)[14]
  • Storage: 4 GB Solid state drive (SSD) flash
  • Memory: 512 MB DDR2-667 (upgradeable to 2 GB)
  • Communication: 10/100 Mbit Ethernet, 802.11b/g wireless LAN mini PCI-E card (Atheros-based)
  • Audio: Realtek ALC6628 Hi-Definition Audio 5.1 CODEC; built-in stereo speaker; built-in microphone
  • Chipset: Intel 910GML series
  • Expansion: two PCI Express Mini Card connectors (one internally, occupied by wireless network card, another empty, accessible from opening on back of unit)
  • 0.3 megapixel camera, integrated in computer lid; up to 640×480, up to 30
  • Connectors:
    • 3 USB 2.0 ports
    • MMC/SD (HC) card reader
    • Ethernet port, Modem port (non-functional, empty)
    • Microphone input
    • Headphone jack
    • AC power jack
    • VGA out
    • Kensington lock slot

img_0197.jpg

img_0199.jpg

As a compare and contrast I set the EeePC up next to my “Desktop Replacement,” a 17″ HP PAvillion

I have had a couple of small issues so far. The Linux version of Skype that came pre-installed does not support video chat, which is an issue, especially when there’s a web-cam built into the lid. What a waste. Fortunately, Skype has a beta version for Linux that supports video. One problem though: after I installed and ran the beta version of Skype, it didn’t recognize the webcam. I did a little research on the inter-web and found a forum post on www.eeeuser.com that addressed the issue. Unfortunately the solution was a little too technical for me, so I went to my dude Ricky and asked for help. He had to do some command-line magic, and was able to make the webcam work on Skype. (BTW, if you want to open the command line window on EeePC version of Xandros, hit Ctrl+Alt+T – that will open it up for you.)

picture-1.png

So, now I can use the video chat on Skype. This was the first time I have ever installed a Linux application, and it’s a littleb bit different than Windows or OS X; I’ll briefly describe the process:

Download the Beta version for Linux from the Skype download page – I chose the Xandros version. Save it to your computer, don’t run it out of the download. After the download is complete, go to the”Work” tab and open the File Manager. Click on the My Documents folder and you should see a file called: “skype-debian_2.0.0.27-1_i386.deb” Right click on that file and choose “Install DEB File…” That’s it. Then you need to figure out how to do the camera part. Follow the above link for those instructions.

So now, after all of that, I am good to go right? Wrong. I opened the web browser, navigated to Facebook, and noticed a friend whose birthday is today. I tried to leave them a video message (now that my camera works) and, sadly, “no camera found.” Sighhh.

Another quick search brought me here. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a ready solution yet. It looks as though Flash player for Linux won’t support the native webcam, but I’m no authority so I can’t say for sure. I will say this though. A big part of the utility for a device like this is in staying connected remotely. The webcam is a huge piece of the value for me. Skype is a big deal, and that is now solved. The Facebook problem sucks though. It’s fun to leave videos for your friends. I just want it to work, and it doesn’t.

The keyboard, as you might expect, is tiny and difficult to type with, especially if you have meaty fingers (like myself.) I am reduced more or less to a “hunt and peck” style of typing, but I think I will get used to it quickly. I don’t plan on writing any novels on this machine. (I am using my macbook to write this post. Clearly I have too many gadgets.) Speaking of the keyboard though, it does feel a little flimsy. The keys feel cheap (and they were) and the keyboard dips a little in the middle wen you type. May pose a problem down the line, especially with heavy usage.

img_0208.jpg

Watching a movie on it actually works amazingly well; the screen looks great. The default player plays .AVI files without a hitch. The volume though, even when using headphones, is way too low. On an airplane, with good headphones, I could hardly hear the dialogue, and that was with the player volume and the system volume both maxed out. Weird.

The computing power is not overwhelming, it is a small machine with a relatively weak processor and a small(ish) amount of memory. I got the 4GB model, which, with operating system using up 2+ GB of that space, does not have a lot storage. So I got a 16GB SD card which gives me a ton more storage space. However, sometimes when I am playing music on the card, and I click on something else (like the browser or the file manager) the music stops and stutters. I might upgrade to more RAM at some point which I suspect will improve the problem. But overall, given the general specs and the purpose of the device, I feel like it works pretty well.

img_0206.jpgimg_0205.jpg

I’d like to see an improvement in the “out-of-the-box” experience. I think the webcam should “just work.” But in terms of layout, features, size, and general usability I think it does what it is supposed to do. And the light weight and size kicks ass. So, all in all I think it’s a good device. I give it a 7.

PayPal Account Limitations

My Review: 3

paypal_logo.gif

I like PayPal, generally speaking. They make Ebay payments simple and straightforward, and it’s convenient in a number of different web-related payment circumstances. But I had an issue today.

I bought an item that I found on Ebay. The seller made a mistake when they were listing though, and because of that mistake I could not use the Buy It Now feature – it was unable to process. So I wrote to the seller and told them what was wrong. They told me to just send them the PayPal payment and they would end the auction immediately. I’m not a moron, so I did call and email with the guy several times before I was comfortable to do so. I also reviewed their seller history, and it was impeccable. So I went for it. You got to have faith sometimes.

Everything went through without a hitch. He received the payment, ended the auction, and promised to ship the item the following day. One problem though. Paypal thought it was suspicious, and chose to freeze the funds and limit my account access.

paypal.jpg

Those measures are in place for my security, and I appreciate it. But I think I should have gotten a phone call. Someone, a person (human being) should have reached out to me and tried to help. Instead I received an email, which immediately makes me think it’s a phishing scheme. Secondly, I have to jump through several account-related hoops, including changing my password. That’s some bullshit, right there. I don’t want to change my password.

I finally called them, and spoke with Nicki. She was very nice, and very helpful. But she was insistent about the password. She went and spoke with a supervisor, after I insisted on it, and discovered that while I did indeed need to change my password, I would be able to later on (in an hour or so) change it back. Well that sounds all right, I guess.

I appreciate her helping me solve the issue. I think Nicki did a great job. But there are two pieces of feedback I have for PayPal based on this experience.

1. Call your customer to alert them, don’t make them change all of their personal information when they have been appropriately using your service. I appreciate the security, but there is an obvious flaw if I can’t use the service without shutting down my account.

2. Make sure employees and FAQ’s list little facts like the one that says “you DO have to change your password, but you may change it BACK if you so choose.”

I like PayPal, and this experience isn’t making me quit on them. But this whole account limitation system sucks, and I give it a resounding 3.

MyShoeStore.com makes me want to vomit

My Review: 1

logo1.gif

I am incredibly disappointed. I have a bone to pick and a forum from which to descry the ineptitude and irresponsibility which is http://www.myshoestore.com. To put it another way, they suck as badly as it is possible for an E-tail shoe store to suck. Al Bundy would be an improvement to their sales team.

My fiancee (soon to be wife) needed a pair of hiking boots for our honeymoon in New Zealand. We looked the old fashioned way, and 3 different brick and mortar shoe stores were unable to provide the right boot for her size 5 1/2 foot. So we went online, and found the right pair of boots, “available” in the right size, for a good price. And with free shipping! El yay.

So I placed the order, received an on-screen confirmation with the promise of an email confirmation to come. No email came. I check my spam folder, and still no email. My credit card was charged – a total of $158.99. I waited three days, and when I still had received no word I called the customer service line. I was told that the order had been placed and received, and that it normally takes 10 days to fill an order and ship it out. The customer service rep said that my email had most likely been placed in spam by accident. She promised to re-send the email, and suggested that I check my spam folder. Great.

So, I kept an eye on my inbox for the rest of the day. No email. I checked my spam folder repeatedly. No email.

Oh well, they said it would take a little while for the shoes to arrive. So I waited. I waited for 12 days. No email. No tracking number. Nothing. So I called again.

I spoke with a woman who informed me that the shoes I had ordered were out of stock. At this point I have paid $160 for boots. I’ve waited more than 3 weeks. My honeymoon is now less than 2 weeks away. I’ve received no emails from the company. I was told, in person over the phone, that my shoes were on their way. They have my money. I have no shoes.

Enough I told her. Forget it, please refund my money. And that is when I learned that it takes 30 days to process a refund. A refund for an item I never received, an item that is not available. So I ask for a supervisor. A supervisor was unavailable, so I asked for a call-back. Guess what happened.

I hate myshoestore.com. They are evil, smelly, and despicable. They deserve less than a 1 rating, but this blog is called 1to10reviews so I cannot give them a lower mark. It just wouldn’t make sense.

mss.jpg

So I am making it my mission to join every review website and rating website I can find to give them a poor ranking. The have created an enemy in me, and I will shout from every rooftop available to me that they have terrible customer service, lousy communication, they steal money without providing goods or services, and they should be run out of business as quickly as possible.

Here is my review from RateItAll.com:

rateitall.png

Here is my submission to the Better Business Bureau:

bbb.png bbb2.png

I’ve threatened to submit companies to the BBB, but this is the first time I actually did it. It feels good. I am still looking for more review sites. If anyone knows of any good ones, please leave a comment and let me know.

———————————————————————————————————————————–

UPDATE:

According to the most recent comment, MyShoeStore.com seems to be out of business.  When I visit the webpage it seems to be down.  I’d like to think that I had a little something to do with it.  🙂

———————————————————————————————————————————–

FURTHER UPDATE 7/7/08:

It’s official.  Their site has a goodbye and goodnight message posted up.  Here is a screenshot:

I don’t know if I really had anything to do with it, but I sure feel vindicated.