Simplifying Technology

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Sunday, 20 October 2013

Who's got my package?

We often buy stuff over the internet.  Over several years we have never lost anything.  Everything we have bought on-line has turned up.  Sometimes things have taken their time.  A few years back I bought a pair of sunglasses that went missing for a while.  They did turn up eventually after some discussion with the courier company - my theory was that it, being a small package, got lost somewhere in the local delivery guys van.

However now I think now we have really lost a package.  We have ordered stuff quite a few times over the last few years from iHerb in the USA.  Great service and usually pretty quick.  Over the years we have chosen their cheapest option which they call 'Priority Mail'.  That just means the Postal Service...  It has been reliable, reasonably fast and very very cheap.  But the last time we ordered was the end of August - it's now mid-October and no package.  I don't think we will see this one now.  I have let iHerb know - just for their records - it was my delivery choice so I don't expect them to fix it.  In future I will use a tracked courier option.

I have this vision of my package, all dirty and mangled, sitting in a lost parcel office in small town in Eastern Europe somewhere.  I hope somebody takes pity on it and makes use of it.

It is annoying and does make you think twice when buying online.  Not that it has stopped us as we have two packages (not counting my missing one) on their way to us now.  I wait nervously!  Am I stupid?

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Google - why did you do this to me?

Yesterday I got a package in the mail - A Google Chromecast.   If you don't know what one of those is it's a cool little dongle that plugs into an HDMI port on your TV and makes it an output device for content from the Web.  These are not yet sold in New Zealand.  In the USA, of course, they are available for just $US35.  Not a lot of money in anyone's language.  I imagine if you have a friend or relative in the USA you could easily get one of these as a gift.

The beauty of this device is that it is driven from any suitable internet device, PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone.  No ugly remote control with obscure and meaningless buttons, just a device that you are already using.  When you get some great content on your device you can 'cast' it to your Chromecast-enabled TV.  Magic.

[Here's my rant, see my later comment at the end.  My mistake as it wasn't as ugly as I first thought]

So I excitedly unwrapped the device, noting the USA power plug - no problem if your TV, like mine, has a USB connection as you can use that for power.  Plugged it in, grabbed my Nexus 7 tablet, and navigated to the setup website.  This transferred me to the Play Store and to the Chromecast app for Android.  This is where I got very annoyed.  The Play Store won't allow me to install the app because 'the product is not yet available in my country' !!!

Why did you do that Google?  I wasn't trying to buy one - I already have one.  It is available in my country - it's in the back of my TV.  All I want is the software to let me use it.  What's the problem with letting me have that?  The world isn't going to end if that happens is it?

I got around the problem by using my Windows 7 laptop.  Added the equivalent app and away I went. However I can't use my Android tablet for this.  I am about to buy an Android smartphone but it won't work on that either.  So I am stuck with using my laptop - at least that works.  I googled this issue - there are some very complicated ways to get around this involving shuffling Google accounts etc.  That's too stupid and dangerous.  So I'll just keep muttering under my breath.

[red-faced correction for the rant above - It DOES work with my Nexus 7 - it's just the setup app that is restricted.  While that is still stupid at least I can use the tablet with the Chromecast once it has been set up.   Joy joy happy happy]

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The Advertising Pig

You may notice a few strategically placed advertisements on our website now.  There are a couple of reasons for this.  The first reason is that we needed to go through the advertising process for our own education - we may want to sell you a service to do this so we thought it wise to practice a bit first.  The second reason is that we haven't won the lottery so we thought that selling advertising might be more lucrative.  We are all saving for our, hopefully long, retirement.

We went with the Google option - they seem to know how to do this stuff.  It was pretty easy to set up and get going.  We haven't restricted any adverts so all we can say is that the ads do not in any way represent the ideas or attitudes of the management - we will be as surprised as you at what turns up here.

We would be interested in your comments.  What do you think of these ads?  what about advertising on websites in general - any winners or losers?