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Could this be the solution for payments

If you have a payment (credit card) system at your store you should read this:

Former Head of Google Wallet Debuts a Universal Payments Terminal

Big media doesn’t get it

Filed under: Information,Recommendations

faces-on-black-background

I’ve read on Techdirt many cases where fighting a problem by trying to keep people out just won’t work because of the Internet.

Yesterday I tweeted

  • Here’s a thought that says Hollywood doesn’t have a clue how to stay relevant ow.ly/BHT0I

Yesterday was also *Talk Like A Pirate Day*

Today I’m looking for the Pitt game and I see

  • football

See that little key? It means that unless you have a cable subscription you can’t watch. Idiots!

Their thinking is they get so much money from the cable subscribers they can’t afford to let us pirates in. Arrrgghh!

I say they can’t afford not to:

  • Cable subscriptions are going down
  • They’re getting far less from their ads then they could already.
    This is the Internet, after all, not cable. Visitors can interact.
  • They’re making people mad who don’t have cable and can’t get around this block.
    Wait, never mind, there aren’t any of those

McDonalds and Really Poor Customer Service

I didn’t intend to write about anything today, that is, until McDonalds ruined my morning.

no mcdI hardly ever go there anymore and apparently I’m not alone. I used to visit quite often and especially like their breakfasts. These days I have cut way way down on my visits because I’m trying to eat healthier. Today, I decided to splurge on breakfast since it’s Sunday, I’d gotten an early start, was out running around and hadn’t eaten at home like I normally do.

I pulled into the McDonalds drive through and waited while the car in front of me took a very long time to order. It could have been a clue, but I just assumed he had a large order or maybe didn’t know what he was doing. When if came my turn I waited a minute or so and then the woman taking the orders informed me they were out of sausage. That was a first for me at any McDonalds, but OK they ran out of sausage. I really don’t like their bacon so I was just going to leave when my wife said she would have an Egg McMuffin meal and Orange Juice instead of the sausage. Since we were ordering I got a coffee. That was a pretty simple breakfast order, but I had to repeat it three times and their order review screen was missing completely, so I couldn’t check that she got it right.

We paid at the first window and the guy in front of me was still at the next window waiting for his *huge* order, which turned out to be another minute of so and only one small bag. We pulled up and after what seemed like a while we were handed our food, coffee and told our OJ would be right up. Two minutes later and a long line forming they asked us to pull up and wait some more. For OJ!

My wife Nancy said *let’s just get out of here*, so I told them to forget the OJ and we drove off pretty agitated. I got a couple blocks away and took a sip of my coffee. Even though I had repeated THREE times to put two creams in my coffee, it was black. I just threw the whole coffee out the window. I made sure there was no one near and I didn’t throw the cup, but it still probably was a poor choice.

Unfortunately it doesn’t end there. Later, I sent out a tweet about my horrible experience and of course McDonalds replied. They wanted to tell them about my visit, so I went to the form they sent me to and tried. Every time there was some missing information and it refused to send (comon McDonalds, the Mr/Mrs field is required???). Not only that after it would go back some other information I’d already entered would be erased so I would get another error. After three tries I gave up, even more pissed off than before and sorry I even tried.

There’s a pretty good lesson here for all businesses. Even if it’s not really true, do you want to make your customers feel like you really don’t want to hear what they have to say? Make it as easy as possible to let your customers contact you. They might actually have something to say that you need to hear or maybe just letting them vent will help ease the situation.

As I mentioned before I rarely go to McDonalds these days and now I’m even less likely to return.

Cutting the cord

Filed under: Information,Recommendations

Android Set Top BoxIf you’re considering cutting the cord, there are a ton of choices. It makes it hard to sort it all out.

This is a very good TV Streaming Primer

I use the Medium TV Watcher plan, with PlayOn.tv and a Roku 3

SEO and SEO Scams

My customer forwarded me this today. He was worried that his website was missing out on tons of traffic. I get millions of this crap, so it’s probably easier for me to spot as spam (I added the stop sign)

stopsign

From: Cool sounding (English) name@gmail.com

Subject: Can I give some honest feedback on your website?

Hi,
Wanted to touch base: We’ve spoken a while back about your website. I happen to be on it again and wanted to point out a few areas of concern (SEO, Visibility, etc). For what it’s worth, I see a few specific things impacting your site’s profitability that can be improved with a slightly refreshed strategy.

Just to remind: I work with several consultants who I have personally hand-picked: Each of them are more than glad to share CASE STUDIES of their work with you.Would you be open for a brief discussion? At the very least, you’ll gain new insights through an extensive Web Needs Analysis (Doesn’t cost a thing).

All I would need to know is whether you would be open to speaking briefly with my consultants to get started.(P.S.: If you’re no longer interested in getting periodic updates, let me know and I promise I won’t follow up again. Thanks for your time.)

Regards,
Cool sounding (English) name

Well, where do I start?
Things to be suspicious of:

  • It’s a Gmail account, could be anyone.
    awww, he’s being honest…
  • We’ve spoken?
    Doesn’t know your name.
  • Know anything about your site?
  • He has no website?
  • Only email contact address
    Could be anywhere in the world.

My advice, even if it was a *real* email
Ask them exactly they are going to do for you.

  • There is no secret sauce, if they won’t tell you, run away
  • If they claim great links from quality sites, that means they’re spamming the blogs.
    Quality sites are generally not giving links to someone they don’t even know.
  • Social Media
    Just a buzzword. Same thing, what work are they going to do?
    Are you willing to let them be the face of your business?

This is just a start. Any more ideas?

MS Awareness Week

nmsspax1It’s MS Awareness Week
Look for The ‘Burgh to be lit Orange!
Especially the first night Mar 3rd
Some of the Biggest and Coolest buildings in town

Be sure to put on a little Orange Mar 3-9
and let everyone know why
facebook.com/MSWesternPA

Here’s an easy way to help…
Attend a really cool event at Hartwood
MusicForMS.org

Review: I Like my Roku3

roku-3I recently bought a Roku 3 to replace an old VuNow box that I’ve had for many years. I’m probably one of the first cord cutters (6 years in Feb) and I’m always looking for new ways to stream to my TVs.

The Roku was much easier to use than my old box. I especially like the headphone jack in the remote, what a wonderful idea. It’s a pretty simple setup, but you do have to sign up for a Roku account where you can download your *channels*. There were many to choose from and while I didn’t pay for any, there were plenty of free channels available. Some of the *Free* channels are only free to download, you have to pay for content, so be careful of that. You have to give Roku your credit card when you sign up and they will charge that for content. There is a setting where you will be asked for your password before any charges can be applied and I would highly recommend turning that on.

For ease of use and quality of the streams I definitely give it 5 stars. Scrolling through your channels is fast and pretty easy. I did find a lot of duplicate content on the free channels, but adding or deleting channels right from the box is a snap.

It definitely loads content much faster than my old box,  but to properly judge a box like this you have to look at what content is provided and available. While there’s a lot on the Roku network, it’s missing some biggies. Things like regular Hulu, YouTube, playing different formats on local media storage and others (ESPN3 is worthless on Roku without a cable subscription). That’s where PlayOn.tv comes to the rescue. I’ve had PlayOn for many years, too and I do have a lifetime subscription ($59.99 a real deal). It allows me to watch most all the things Roku is missing and it was easy to add to Roku. It’s a private Roku chanel and a little extra work, but certainly not hard to install.

I’m still giving Roku 3 four stars out of five, but it would be lower without the availability of PlayOn media server on it.

With all that being said I bought a second one for my living room.

 

The Hofbrauhaus Pittsburgh won’t let in the Marines

eagleflagPretty extreme headline, right? Note: I changed it because I realized it was actually too extreme, I was being sarcastic and it didn’t come off that way.

I’m sure it’s not that bad, but that sure is the image that the Hofbrauhaus Pittsburgh is portraying.

It’s just another example of how businesses don’t understand social media. Allow me to explain.

My friend Summer Tissue runs a non profit called Military Connections. It’s a wonderful organization that sends care packages to deployed troops. I believe she’s getting close to 3 Million packages, but that’s another story.

Last weekend she was taking some of her visiting troops around Pittsburgh and… Well I’ll let her tell it.

I just wanted to let people know that Hofbrauhaus Pittsburgh does not appreciate Military Veterans in the same manner that I do. While the 2/4 was in Pittsburgh we tried to take a group of Marines to this restaurant and they were refused service. I asked the bouncer why the men were not allowed to go in and he replied “He can refuse to let anyone in that he wants.” Nice attitude……The guys were not intoxicated, they weren’t acting up, I have no idea why they were not allowed in. I even explained that they were all Marines visiting from other states and the bouncer did not care. I always enjoyed hanging out here and thought it was a great spot in PGH for visitors. I will never step foot near it again.

She wrote this story on the Hofbrauhaus Pittsburgh’s facebook page and they promptly deleted it. I found out about it when I read it on Summer’s facebook page. I went to Hofbrauhaus Pittsburgh’s page asked them why they would do this.  At least I got a reply – Hofbrauhaus Pittsburgh wrote: “I’ve spoken with management and no one has any record of any incidents like this happening.”

I’ve known Summer a long time and I know she doesn’t lie and especially not about something like this. I posted that for a reply and they deleted my entire post and barred me from their page. Oh good, that’ll make everything better.

I believe that the Hofbrauhaus Pittsburgh will be in for quite the shock when they discover the Streisand Effect. My friend Summer’s facebook post has almost 40 shares in a short time and I’ll bet it will skyrocket. I helped her out by putting her story on Yelp and in no time it will probably be a million other places (like here) where the Hofbrauhaus Pittsburgh has no control over what’s said. I’m sure most of it won’t be very nice.

Wouldn’t it have been much simpler to have left Summer’s original post up and said:

  • “We are very sorry this happened to you”
  • “How can we make it up to you?”
  • “What do you think we can do to make sure this never happens again?”

I’ve said a million times, if you are going to use social media, you can’t hide from it or silence it.

Update 8-7-2013 – 1:30pm

Got a call from Hofbrauhaus Pittsburgh today and they told me that they had reviewed the video and that they were stopped from entering by a Police officer because they had an open container.

Summer replied “they pulled the wrong group on surveillance. We all were wearing Pirate Gear. They are going through the tapes again and trying to find out why the bouncer did not let the guys in.”

I’m still wondering why it took this long to get to this point. Why couldn’t they have just talked to Summer in the first place and worked this out?

They also threatened to sue me if I don’t take this post down, proving to me that they haven’t actually read it. I might remove their name if this gets worked out amicably. If they sue the publicity will go through the roof and they know it (or at lest they should). I wrote the truth and that’s not slander.

Update 8-7-2013 – 2:45pm

I thought that Hofbrauhaus had called me earlier, but I Googled the phone number and it belongs to someone named Matt Plapp from the Cincinatti area. Someone who I’m guessing doesn’t have the authority to sue me (although he may). He must have something to do with Hofbrauhaus social media because that’s the business he’s in. Shame on you Matt, you should know better.

Update 8-7-2013 – 3:41pm

Just spoke with Summer and they are now claiming she wasn’t there at all Saturday.
The hole keeps getting deeper. My advice STOP SHOVELING!

Ron Finley: Guerrilla Gardener

Filed under: Information,Recommendations

Ron Finley is a Guerrilla Gardener in South Central LA. He plants and shares vegetable gardens along sidewalks and empty lots. He believes that planting your own food is like printing your own money. What a wonderful idea.

I love to garden and this has inspired me to plant more food.

Review of the OBi100, Good Stuff

OBi100I wrote a while back that I was looking for a replacement for my T-Mobile @Home service. Even though I was very happy with it, I was moving my cell phone service to Republic Wireless (which I highly recommend) so I needed to get a new home phone service or drop it all together.

I tried MagicJack and the quality was so bad that it didn’t last a day.

Next in line was NetTalk. That seem to work well, so I ported my number smoothly, only to find out that the service didn’t really work as well as I first thought. Incoming calls were pretty poor voice quality and outgoing calls were unusable. Then, when I upgraded my router, the box just started to disconnect from the network for no reason and had to be restarted almost daily

It’s been almost a year and I was just going to let my service expire and my old home number just go away. I decided to give it one more try.  I searched Ebay and discovered the OBi100. I ordered one for $40 and was glad I ordered early because I wanted to try it before porting my number again. It got a little lost in shipping, but arrived 9 or 10 days late.

This box uses Google Voice to make calls, but can be used with many different VOIP service providers, so even though I choose Google Voice because it’s great and FREE, if they ever change or go away I have other options.

I plugged it in and only had limited service. It didn’t really work. I immediately thought “Oh Crap, not again”, but then realized I had plugged it in to my network switch. I moved some network wires around, plugged it directly into my router and it worked perfectly. I changed a few settings at Google Voice and this time did extensive testing. It couldn’t have worked better.

My next challenge was to port my home phone number to Google Voice was a bit more complicated. Google Voice is a wonderful service, if you haven’t tried it I would say absolutely do. There is a one time $20 charge to port your phone number, but otherwise it’s completely free. My problem was that Google doesn’t port landlines, only mobile numbers.

My solution? I went to my local Target store, bought a prepaid flip phone on sale for $5 and a card for $10 worth of minutes. I went to their website and ported my phone number into that, waited about a week for that to happen. Once my number ported, I activated my phone and used my $10 minutes card to make and receive a few calls to be sure everything with the port was hunky dory and it was. At this point Google voice gladly accepted my phone number, so it cost me $35 to port instead of $20, but still quite the bargain in my book.

I know Google Voice has been incorporated into their Hangouts app in my phone and maybe their service may change in the future, but I’m not locked in by the OBi100. So if the service does change in the future I can always switch providers, but for now I’m lovin’ it. Google Voice has some wonderful features. I can ring any or all of my phones with it or I can have it send me an email or text when I get a voicemail, with the message transcribed and many other features.

I’m going to highly recommend the OBi100 for quality, service and value.

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