2010 Census

The Rochester household received our 2010 Census form last week. In true geek fashion, we were excited to add out numbers to the count. Numbers are thrilling to my engineering husband and I like participating in the research aspect of it. Looking over the form, though, brought to mind this classic Christopher Walken SNL skit.

–Jane, lives with two humans, a dog, and a sugar glider

Flexible ePaper from LG

According to Tom’s Hardware, LG has announced a 19 inch epaper display that, unlike its predecessors, is flexible. LG uses a foil substrate instead of glass so that the entire display can be bent.

I am not sure about other people, but I immediately thought of the paper sheet that Badger shows to Mal, Zoe, and Jayne with an alert for a “rogue vessel, classification ‘Firefly’… spotted pulling illegal salvage on a derelict transport.”

–Jane, wheel never stops turnin’

What Usability Says About Your Organization

For many reasons, not the least of which was extremely bad customer service, constantly rising prices, and what I now know is an inferior product, the Rochester household is… wait for it… canceling cable.

I will not go into great detail, because Mr. R did a mighty fine job over on the family blog (and with far fewer sputterings and angry diatribes than I would have managed, I might add). The fact that we canceled cable is not the only story. Secondary to our ousting of Comcast as our cable and DVR provider (we are still paying them for Internet, alas), is the fact that we now own a TiVo.

After four years of renting a DVR from Comcast (you are neither allowed to buy it outright or buy your own. if you did how could they fleece you for $15 a month?), I was not expecting TiVo to do anything other than record my shows in a reasonable way with reasonable reliability. After years of dubious service from Comcast, I was setting my expectations understandably low. How much different could one DVR be from another?

TiVo is to the Comcast DVR what a ripe bing cherry is to that imitation red stuff they call cherry flavoring. There is no comparison.

Why is TiVo so wonderful? Usability.

It is obvious the moment you open the box that TiVo expects real people to use their product. The set up is simple: connect it to your TV and turn it on. TiVo them walks you through the set up. There is no large instruction book. Just some simple instructions on the screen.

Once you have the initial set up complete, there is a set of tutorials pre-loaded onto your TiVo that teach you how to use some of the basic and more advanced functions of the TiVo. The menus are easy to read. The options are easy to understand. TiVo groups my programs by title and type (what a concept!). It is easy to find new programs. Adding new programs on the old DVR was excruciating when searching by name or channel. With TiVo, it is so easy, even a sleep deprived, barely functioning mom can handle it.

I have been won over with my TiVo. Couple that with the fact that the over the air HD channels look worlds better then the HD I was shelling out over $80 a month for and I am a happy, Comcast free lady.

This tale of two DVRs tell a larger picture. With my first DVR, it was clunky and, though it got the job done, it was obvious that Comcast neither designed or cared about my satisfaction with the product. And why should they? If I wanted to use a DVR with their service, I had to use theirs. While it is possible to use a TiVo with cable (lots of people do and now I know why), I would still have to pay for the TiVo service on top of my huge cable bill.  I was given one option with Comcast;  they had no incentive to offer me a better product.

The inferior product I was given by Comcast and allowed to “rent” reflects what they thought about their customers. I associate the terrible usability with the terrible customer service. Not only was the usability of the DVR bad, but their website left a bit to be desired as well. During Hurricane Ike, we were without Internet or cable for almost a month and there was no information on Comcast’s site about the outage. All the other utility companies were very forthcoming with information, but getting information from Comcast required a huge amount of effort and energy on the part of the consumer. Usability, they have little. Customer service, they have very little of that too.

I have never spoken to anyone at TiVo, but I have used their website and now their product. Everything I have seen from them is simple and well explained. There are multiple options that, not only fit my budget when purchasing, but that fit my recording needs. I can hook TiVo up to the Rochester house wireless network and watch YouTube videos or recordings I have downloaded in shared folders on the network. It is a beautiful thing.

The usability of the product and the customer service make me believe that TiVo cares about me, as a person and as a customer. It does not matter if they actually do care; it only matters that I think they care and thus I am willing to give them my money and shout their praises.

For any organization, that is what you want. You want customers who are not only loyal, but are willing to sing of you from the rooftops. Positive word of mouth is better than thousands of dollars in advertisements and it is definitely better than one person with a bad experience spreading word of your failure as an organization.

Next time you are considering the usability of your organization’s website, catalog (OPAC), product, or building, ask yourself what these things will say to your customers and users. What message are you sending them with the products you are giving them? Do they leave frustrated or happy? Do they feel like you care about them? Are you offering an inferior product for a need they can get filled elsewhere in a better, more comfortable, hassle-free fashion?

–Jane, likes being a customer with whom great care is taken

Frivolous TV Post

And because the Wee Bairn is occupied I would like to take this moment to say:

Smallville may have jumped the shark last week. Giving Lana superpowers so her and Clark can go fight bad guys and, you know, super bone is about the silliest thing I have seen and there is some crazy crap on tv. Seriously.

Bairn now demanding attention. Someone should have told me this was a 24/7, thankless job. *sigh*

–Jane, where is a damn nanny and housekeeper when I need one?

Mmmm… Jensen Ackles

In which I talk about some CW shows

Supernatural has been on the Rochester household list of watched shows for all of its four seasons. It is a very diverting show which has never disappointed me. Mmmmm… Jensen Ackles. And the plots and stuff, obviously.

One of their recent episodes, about some mysterious circumstances at a magician’s conference, was named “Criss Angel is a Douche Bag.” It made me laugh and laugh. The comic styling in Season three of “Ghostfacers” was also hilarious. This clip of Eye of the Tiger was added onto the end of an episode. You Tube is actually a great place to see some funny clips of the Winchester boys. Aaaaand, I am officially sucked in.

About 30 minutes of clips later.

This show uses a lot of classic rock as theme music, which Mr. Rochester and I like. There really is very little I do not like about the show. Mr. R is tired of the self loathing exhibited by Jensen Ackles’ character. Mmmm… Jensen Ackles. But it does not bother me. Not in the way that the angst between Clark and Lana on Smallville makes me want to run from the room screaming and tearing my own eyes out. At least the writers on that show seem to have spared the viewers much of that business this season. The summary of this week’s episode says that Lana will go missing, so I am already getting ready for an episode full of stupidity on the part of Clark. “But I luuuurve her. Why can’t I have her for myself?” *gag*

While I am talking about CW shows, I may as well admit that my guilty pleasure show this year is 90210. I can not stop watching it, even though it is not that great. Is this how people who watch reality television feel? You really want to stop and you feel your brain dripping out your ears at the silliness but you simply can not look away?

–Jane, still does not get “reality” TV

Whedon Gets 7 Show Deal With Fox

Thanks for the info, Jason.

Joss signed a seven show deal for a new series, called The Dollhouse. Our very own Whedonverse Eliza Dushku will be the leading role. She plays a woman, Echo, who can be hired to fulfill any fantasy, sexual, illegal, or sweet, but when her task is done her memory is wiped and she lives in a facility called the Dollhouse.

It sounds interesting. Joss and Eliza did an interview with Kristin Dos Santos of E! and you can imagine her squealing in joy as she wrote the piece.

–Jane, finally, we can have some good Joss sized television again

Shiny Goodness

Two Firefly related news items for all my Browncoat readers.

Amazon has placed Firefly as #2 on its Sleepers and Keepers list because it has been “…selling copy after copy since the day [it was] released without ever having made industry headlines…” Shiny.

There is a sequel to Finding Serenity coming out in August. It is entitled Serenity Found. If this second collection of essays is anywhere near as good as the first, I will be a pleased lady.

After looking up some of the links in Wikipedia, I realized that the Firefly article is a “Features Article” which means out of approx. 1,796,936 articles, only 1,407 are superb. We are so very pretty.

–Jane, “One of you is gonna fall and die. And I’m not cleaning it up. “

Arms Dealers

I am working tonight and thus am home this morning with tea and the dog, watching it rain, again. Remember the show from the 80′s, the A Team? It comes on in the morning here at 8 and I had it on while I was packing my lunch and dinner. I remember loving it as a kid.

Did you ever wonder where they got all their guns and explosives?

–Jane, always liked Murdock the best for some reason

Are You Lost Without Lost?

I have been passing on the radio this week in favor of pop culture fun, hence the last post and this gem.

I am counting the days until Lost starts up again in February. My friend, eprahs, sent me this video that the Lost cast made for a convention in Las Vegas. The receipt of this video proves my point that all eprahs does all day is search YouTube for clips to send to me.
Just a little bit of fun to start your day off right.

–Jane, so glad the good tv is finally kicking up again