Am I Satisfied…Not Really, Sprint and Samsung

In November 2012, Google announced the Jelly Bean release of the Android mobile phone operating system. The end of March 2013, the push of Jelly Bean in the United States to Samsung and Sprint phones finally commenced.

The process of updating the phones involves downloading over 500 megabytes in a single file called “Simple Upgrade Tool. It takes hours to download on DSL but promises 15 minutes to install to your phone.

The 15 minutes is about right, but there are a whole series of steps to process as part of that 15 minutes, some of which involve taking the back off the phone and removing the battery and replacing it, unnerving to those who are not tech-savvy, and great warnings that this “flash” of the phone could destroy everything you hold dear, so add an hour or more to your time for backups and syncs of everything, redundant if you are paranoid like me.

Let me backtrack a little to show you how complicated this doesn’t have to be. I got the notice a few weeks ago that an upgrade was waiting for me. Unfortunately, I was sitting by the side of a dying friend and priorities don’t include racing to my desktop computer to download a huge file for hours, play with batteries, and USB cords. When I was ready, there were no buttons, no handy reminders, no one-click options for me to process the update. Instead, I had to do a search all over the web until I finally found a news report that led me to the download instructions, wasting more of my time as I had to find the update rather than have it awaiting me on my phone. The past two updates have been the same. This is really dumb customer service.

All so far has gone well and my phone is running through its final stages of the Android Update. Yet at the bottom of the instructional page I find this request.

Samsung and Spring - Tutorial Feedback - Did we do a good job with this document.

The request is “Did we do a good job with this document.” Well, that’s the real question.

What I read is “Did we make your life easier with this entire process?”

Yes, the document was easy to read, had big pictures, and stepped me through the process, and it matched the process for the most part that I experienced.

No, the process was not easy. Why did I have to download this huge file for hours, tying up the Internet and slowing everything down on my drip of a connection? Why did such a huge file be necessary for what took less than 15 minutes to install as an operating system on my computer? What do I do with this half gig space waster program? Uninstall it? There is no follow-through on this, Samsung. Now what?

Why couldn’t I have just woken up and found a note on my phone that said, “We adore you and want to reward you for your payment of our over-charging fees and control of a monopoly in your nation that restricts a free market for easy-to-use, affordable cell phones, by giving you the chance to push a single button to give your phone a face-lift, making it more user friendly, faster, and not so taxing on the battery or your brain.” Fifteen, or I would have given you thirty minutes, you would have had a customer not just rejoicing but praising you to the world via social media and on every street corner.

I think of those living on their phones, no laptop or desktop computer in sight. How did they handle the update?

American mobile companies be warned. We’ve taken your abuse lying down for a long time. We’ve been apathetic for far too long. One day, folks. One day we will get smarter and let our dollars do the talking for us, and you will appreciate my recommendation that you make us praise you not condemn you.

Am I satisfied? Absolutely not. Do better.

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Amazon Instant Video Prime Nightmares

Dear Amazon:

I’ve ordered episodes and seasons of Stargate SG1, Stargate Atlantis, and Stargate Universe so many times in the past few months, it’s a wonder I don’t have the full collection. Ah, but I do. I own most of the Stargate series on VHS, DVD, and even BlueRay. That’s not the point. I wanted to watch them one after another as part of a nostalgic bent of mine lately, and I wanted to watch them as I was doing other things, so I started watching them on my phone and tablet.

Amazon Prime allows me to watch tons of shows and movies for free as a member, yet you still do not have a video watching app, and it can be tricky to set up your mobile device to watch the shows.

For those reading a home, to watch Amazon Prime Instant Videos on your phone or tablet, open your web browser and set it to Desktop Mode. Then prepare to spend too much time with Amazon Customer Support getting refunds for your accidental digital orders.

Amazon Instant Video Prime  - Poor Interface design allows purchases when pushing play buttons.

Call it “fat fingers” as Google recently did when they changed their Google Ad system to ask if you meant to click an ad instead of automatically billing the ad owner every time you accidentally clicked on an ad. Call it a slip of fingers. Call it poor UI. Whatever you want to call it, I’m sick of finding out that I bought an episode or the entire series when I did not mean to.

Come on, Amazon. The videos on Amazon Prime Instant Video are free. That’s part of our membership. Continue reading

The Hunt for Myst-like Games for Android Mobile Phones and Tablets

Myst game logoI’m not a fan of most computer games. I have had enough violence and racing in my life to not want to invite it in through games of violence, war, racing, chasing, or bashing in heads. Among my favorite computer games are Myst and its sequels, Exile, Riven, The Revelation, and Uru, created by Cyan Worlds.

Myst and its sequels are beautiful mind games, challenging the best in us through complex puzzles accompanied by phenomenal real-life graphics. My husband and I would play these together, discussing strategies and solving the problems over meals and long drives. We’d email or instant message chat back and forth things to try or experiment with to solve the puzzles. They took our minds other places while we were in places and dealing with things we didn’t want to deal with. Great distractions, but more than that – great mind teasers.

We’ve been searching for Myst replacements for years on our desktop computers without success. With the new drive in mobile games for cell phones and tablets, we felt confident that the need for Myst-like brain games would generate something. After several years of poking, we’ve found some possibilities. Unfortunately, most of these are more like pretty maze games rather than mind-benders.

I used to think there was a difference between a Myst-like problem-solving game and a simple hidden object adventure game. As the games improve their visual quality, the simple games of finding hidden objects to solve puzzles can become as interesting as Myst-problem-solving games that require a little more brain power. I’ve included some well-reviewed hidden object games in the list below accordingly.

Myst game - the swampTo be true to the concept of a Myst game, I believe the game should put you in the key role of the player, giving you a vested interest in solving the puzzles. There should be little interaction with other characters, just you and the environment, where the pieces of the puzzle tell more of the story than the characters could. The puzzles should make you think, fuss over, and experiment with before solving, but not be too simple nor too inane. You should shout with joy when you figure them out, not groan. This is where many of the new games miss the mark. I rarely have the overwhelming impulse to jump up and down and shout, “I did it!” Or do I experience the water-cooler effect praising the game long after finishing the play.

It’s sad because we need this form of escapism today more than ever. Continue reading

Samsung S2 Rebooting, Rebooting, Rebooting Nightmare

Now that the Tech Nag has a new smart phone, tablet, and more black snacks added to the electrical snake pit, she has even more to bitch and whine about.

The current bitch and whine is also a lesson in what not to do even if it will let you do it. You won’t get away with it.

After the rash of 10 cent apps on the Android Market, Tech Hubby and Nag got addicted to the constant hunt for new apps. Discovering new ways to get those cool apps faster, we installed Chomp, Best App Finder, Ondroid – Top apps chart, Best Apps Market, and My Daily Free Amazon App.

I did say addiction, right?

As you fill up your phone with a ton of apps, even if it’s got more RAM and SD Card space than your laptop, you want to play safe and move some of the space wasters from the phone’s storage to the SD card. The newest phones play well with this…to a point.
Continue reading