The Consumer Matters is the blog of Leslie Grandy, aka Gearhead Gal.  My passion is creating and delivering compelling products that delight customers through simple and elegant user experience design.

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Entries in Technology (5)


Twitter CEO Dick Costolo On His "Technical Debt"

In this interview at the mini All Things Digital conference at CES, the Twitter CEO euphemistcally describes the "fail whale" and his plan to have us see it less.


A Consumer Manifesto to Start the New Year

Todd Bishop - @toddbishop, a contributor at TechFlash - may have written my favorite year-end post. It is a sort of Jerry Maguire letter to the technology companies whose products he buys. Here's how he starts:

A Technology Wish List for 2010

Todd Bishop on Thursday, December 31, 2009, 11:33am PST

As a technology consumer, my requirements of technology providers are actually pretty modest. Innovate, don't overcharge me, treat me fairly, protect my privacy, and don't construct artificial barriers for the sole purpose of benefitting your business.

(You should take a moment to read the rest of Todd's article by scrolling to the link at the end of this post.)

This is the kind of manifesto, that when I read it my eyes tear up. Why? Because it is a simple statement of what i believe as a consumer as well...but, with one addition. I would append the paragraph at the bottom with this: 'respect my intelligence, but don't make me have to have an engineering degree to use technology.'

I have never seen a hardware or software manual I wanted to read before I could enjoy some new gadget or software. Behavior modification doesn't exactly come from a "guide to..." or 'how-to' book.  The physical world has now transcoded to a digital one, and we have to all learn new behaviors to embrace the change. But I am a consumer, who prefers to enjoy what I consume "in the moment". Being surprised and delighted starts at the moment I realize how easy it is to enjoy your product after I open the box.  Don't overestimate how fun it is to learn a new way to do things.  Although I hate to admit I can be lazy as a consumer, if your product or service looks hard to setup because there is a lot to read before I can get started, then I'm afraid I'll pass.

Here's the full text of Todd's end of year plea.



[Video] Bad design decisions as economic stimulus

I have an iPhone TED application and I have, as you can see in the siderail of this site, a number of videos from TED, a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. TED started in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. What could be more closely aligned to the intersection of my passions, eh?

Some of the talks are timeless and riveting from the first frame. Some are actually a little dense and challenging to track to a key takeaway. I try to select the videos in my Vodpod Vodspot that are most accessible to the broadest group of readers. But occasionally I want to highlight some of the more arcane videos I love, and here's one I'd encourage you to watch, even though the set up to the key takeaway requires a little investment.

As you can see, during the early days of the Internet, people had not really envisioned all the implications of the design decisions engineers made. What innovators can contribute to the economy can occasionally be the necessity of continued support of a bad design decision.



What is Open?

It has been a day to listen to industry leaders talk about the topics around breaking down the walls erected by the "soviet ministries", AKA the wireless carriers. Great panel at the Open Mobile Summit, moderated by Walt Mossberg. Guests were AT&T CTO, John Donovan, Palm SVP Michael Abbott, Google Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf, Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch. Conversation kicked off with a question about where in the value chain or technology stack manufacturers or developers or networks need to open. Does open require access to every component of a product's architecture? Is fragmentation simply a verticalized solution of a horizontal technology?

Also, some discussion centered around the semantic web, creating an open Internet data model, and the individual consumer's control of their own personal data history.

IMS is seen as a driver of a converged data model and is expected to require policies around the handling of consumer data to ensure security and privacy.

VoIP is a a hot topic when the industry talks about access, which is a consequence of open systems. It is still obvious that there is no shared perspective in this group.

Another interesting topic was the challenge for a user to see how their data moves around the open web and in and out of mobile devices with them. In a world of federated statuses and shared address books, consumers do get benefits from open (APIs and shared logins), but what happens to their personal data along the the way?

Wasn't Open ID supposed to provide this? As Vint Cerf reminded folks "Innovation is useless unless adopted," which Open ID has not been. So what credentials will emerge to help consumers protect themselves and their personal identity in the wild west of open mobile?


7 Tech Product Features I Want Now! Are They Yours?

Maybe some of these are already in the works, which would make me delighted, as long as I don't need to pay for the upgrade, of course. It's possible some of these things are possible today but I just can't discover them. In that case, my title meant to read: '7 Tech Product Features I Want to Find Now!'. Finally, I am sure a bright teenager has already mashed up some of these for themselves. Sorry, dude, I always ask the folks who make the product to do it for me, before it gets to that. I invite you add to my list by posting a comment; and you product managers can check back and get the insights for free.

  1. I’d like to be able to rotate from landscape to portrait any photo in my gallery on my iPhone, so when I post or send the photo its orientation is correct on the viewer’s PC. Otherwise TwitPic posts and email attachments require viewer intervention.
  2. Why isn’t there a job search agent on LinkedIn? Or a Job Alert Feed? Why is there only one aggregated status feed?
  3. Someone should invent a collapsible hood or clip-on cover for people to use on their phones while texting in a theater or photographing at a concert to shield others from the brightness.
  4. I need user ratings to rate users who comment on the Android marketplace apps so I can tell when it’s a developer’s friends writing all the positive comments.
  5. I’d like to be able to upload my Flip videos without having to use my laptop to tether it to the Internet. Wifi, please.
  6. I wish that Apple would use their cloud to make it easy for me to re-download the music or video file to any of my authorized devices after I purchase it.
  7. Tivo should include "Transfer to Mac/PC" as a "Record options" feature. It should be able to transcode and push it over my LAN to my computer.