Archive for March, 2008

Mar29

USPS can’t track packages

Well, I’m sure they can internally track the packages in their system but they certainly don’t provide those details to customers.  I recently ordered a small item from Amazon and got the email from them when it had shipped.  Good, great, super…

I pull up the email and grab the tracking number a couple days later and navigate to usps.com only to find out that it couldn’t provide me an update.  It just said that they’ve received the ‘electronic shipping information’.  Great, so what does that mean to me…nothing.  Anyways, not totally out of it, I decided to sign up for email alerts.  According to the descriptions, they’ll email me when the status of my shipment changes.  Great, in theory!

I go on my merry way only to check it a couple more times, one of them this morning.  No change…what is going on with USPS and where is my package?!?  Apparently, their system only has a couple statuses – shipping information received and delivered because when I checked my mail this afternoon it had arrived.  Surprise, surprise…I didn’t receive the email from USPS until about three hours after the package was actually delivered.

Good job guys…I’ll be using UPS or FedEx from now on.

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Mar26

iTunes Gets QuickLinks

As with a large portion of the music listening market I own an iPod and use iTunes to download almost all of my music. It has a great selection, it’s cheap (since I rarely purchase a full cd and pick individual songs instead) and it makes syncing my music extremely easy.

The only downfall I saw with iTunes was the navigation. For me to get more than the top 10 most popular songs I had to navigate to music, and then to the individual genre’s I listen to (I occasionally search the general music top 100 but prefer to filter out the music I won’t buy) .

Anyways, when I logged in this evening I found that iTunes has added a quick link section (image below) next to the music navigation link. This allows you to jump directly to the genre of your choice bypassing an entire step.  What a simple but effective enhancement!  Great job!

The only potentially negative impact I see for iTunes is the fact that now I will likely never search the general top 100.  I will likely navigate right to the genre’s I purchase and leave it at that.  I’ll continue moving down the music longtail by discovering music through iTunes recommendations rather than searching on my own.

iTunes Gets QuickLinks iTunes QuickLink Dropdown

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Mar25

New Design!

As you’ve probably noticed we’ve rolled out a new theme for the blog.  Nothing spectacular but after searching around this evening I felt I liked this one a little more.

I’m sure this will change again in the near future.  I’m kind of big on changing things up and seeing what works best!

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Mar25

Needed Gmail Enhancements

As I’ve stated several times, I love the various Google products and use several of them on a daily basis. My Gmail is open almost all day long, I use Google Reader to sort, manage and read my news, I share photos and documents with Picasa and Google Docs and I communicate with people all over the world (literally) with Google Talk. When I start my own business I’ll probably use Google Apps to keep costs low and because it allows me the ability to use the Gmail web interface and it’s easy to install. Simply put, they have created an amazing suite of free services but as my usage grows, so does the need for a few enhancements to make things even better.

Since Gmail released the IMAP feature a few months ago I’ve been a pretty happy camper. While I’m pretty happy, there is always room for improvement. I think Gmail recognizes that since they’re continually releasing new features! Keep it up guys.

  • Tagging: The ability to label emails with several tags is great but having to select them from a drop down list is inefficient. It would be great if there was a type-ahead feature that auto-completed tags as I began typing them. It would also be great if you could apply multiple tags to filters.
  • Filtering: Gmail has a great filter set-up but there is one thing I’d like to see added. The ability to apply multiple tags to filtered messages. Some people may not use tags to quite the same extent I do but I like to keep an organized mailbox. With my travels for work I also like to make sure I keep as many records as possible and there are some emails that I get on a regular basis that I like filtered into two buckets. Hotel receipts are the main culprit (expense reporting can be such a pain). Currently, I just have to filter it with one tag and add the second manually. Not a huge deal, but it would definitely be a time saver.
  • Shortcut Keys: For those of us that use Outlook all day for corporate email, shortcut keys are where it’s at. I can successfully navigate almost all of Outlook (that I use at least) without touching the mouse. Google has done a pretty good job building out the shortcut keys but some of them are counter-intuitive. Maybe the problem is they just aren’t intuitive based on the Windows habits that we have all picked up. I’d like to see the ability to customize your shortcut keys or at least add a few more like ‘ALT+s’ to quickly send an email from compose mode.

If I new anything about writing GreaseMonkey scripts or had a couple hours of extra time I would consider writing a couple of these enhancements myself. But…since I don’t and I have no extra time I’m hoping the various Google teams go ahead and step-up.

These are obviously just my opinions but I think they’re enhancements that would benefit the masses.

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Mar25

Windows Mobile 6 – Only Google search?

So I upgraded from Windows Mobile 5 to Windows Mobile 6 last week and I’ve spent a decent amount of time tinkering with the enhancements and think WM6 is a nice improvement.  They’ve added some great new features such as enhanced calendaring and HTML formatted emails.  For those of you who use a WM5 device, you know what I’m talking about.  While I didn’t mind the strictly text email, the new features are greatly appreciated.

After poking around some of the settings I found that WM6 doesn’t have MSN as the default search engine for the web search feature on the ‘today’ screen.  I know Microsoft has paid penalties out the wazoo for monopolistic practices in it’s PC operating systems so I figured they just didn’t want to get nailed for this and set a different default.  But why Google of all people?!?  At least they tried to purchase of Yahoo…why not set them as the default?!?  After some more searching I was surprised to find that not only is Google the default search engine, it’s the only search engine that you can set.  One of Microsoft’s biggest competitors holds the sole search rights on Windows Mobile devices…weird!

After thinking about it a bit I figured it had to be something that Palm or AT&T configured and it wasn’t Microsoft’s choice.  The thing that bugs me is I don’t even have the option to add a new search engine.  I wonder if AT&T or Palm is getting kickbacks for this nonsense?!?

Then, after reading my blog news a few days ago I heard that Google launched a downloadable plugin for Windows (and here) that allows for ‘fast’ search from the ‘today’ screen of your WM device.  That’s cool, except it already exists and doesn’t require a download.  Not like it takes up much space, but there is just no need.

Now, as many of you are aware I show a lot of love to Google.  I normally approve emphatically of what they do but I just don’t see the point here.

Overall Google, I think it was a waste of time and money to build.  But that’s just me.  Better luck next time.

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