I have more business cards than I know what to do with. But that’s ok – I didn’t pay for most of them. Once you’ve read this, you’ll either be terrified of ordering your next batch of cards from Moo, or be ready to place your order immediately. Or you might just be indifferent about it altogether. I’m not a mind reader.
Are you a glass half-full or half-empty person?
What the hell am I talking about?
My business cards elicit some interesting reactions. Most of them involve laughter. I assume it’s because most people don’t expect a business card to greet them with such a facial expression. But that’s exactly what I’m going for when I give you a card. I want you to remember me, after all.
When I ordered a new run of cards from Moo.com, I uploaded a new custom design (created for me by Petra Cuschieri, graphic designer extraordinaire) to their design tool, and placed the order. Two weeks later, they arrived.
To my dismay, there was a white stripe across the top of each card.
Bad news first, right?
There was a problem with the bleed on the first run of 100 cards, resulting in a white stripe on the top of each card. After one of Moo’s support representatives attempted to fix the problem, the second batch I received had no stripe, but the design was zoomed in and misaligned.
A third replacement batch arrived, and the alignment issue had been corrected, but now there was a stripe across the bottom of the cards. It took 300 free cards before someone identified the issue and instructed me correctly on how to resolve it.
Don’t worry, there’s good news!
Moo’s support department is stellar. Their people were quick to send me reprints, and didn’t even ask for proof of the problems with the bad batches.
Despite the fact that I had to wait a few extra weeks, due to all the bad batches, I was never given a hard time, and each of my emails was responded to quickly. These people are really nice.
Bottom Line (No Pun Intended)
I have 400 cards for the price of 100. 300 of those are slightly messed up, but they’re still usable in many situations, and I’m still a satisfied customer.
Customer service like this is what truly sets a company like Moo apart from its competitors. They messed up again and again, but they didn’t stop trying to make it right until I was happy again. And they did it politely, and with style. I can think of at least one company who would do well to heed Moo’s example (See: Customer Retention – You’re Doing It Wrong).
So, ideas on what to do with 300 bum business cards? I was thinking about hauling a giant fan up to the top of the CN Tower…What do you think? Leave a comment!
Everyone knows your voice sounds a hundred times better in the shower than it does anywhere else. It’s the acoustics, right?
Contrary to popular belief, stepping into the shower does not magically transform you into an opera singer, Mariah Carey, or a one-man barber shop quartet.
There are few things worse than hearing someone who can’t sing belt out their rendition of “My Heart Will Go On” in the shower. Lucky for you, I’ve compiled a comprehensive list of these things. Behold:
- Getting shit on by a pigeon
- Getting dive-bombed by a pigeon
- Sitting on a dead bee that has been meticulously placed on your chair, stinger up
- Impaling yourself in the groin on a subway turnstile
Studies show that there’s a lower chance of driving your flatmate to murder if that song you’re singing is actually playing (and louder than your own voice, preferably). But as your friendly resident IT guy, I strongly advise against bringing electronic devices into the shower with you, for water and electricity a good pairing do not make.
Presenting Your Waterproof Solution
After a few months of searching for something that would let me listen to my MP3′s in the shower, I happened upon this clever little device on Amazon: The Hipe Waterproof Bluetooth Stereo Shower Speaker (tonight’s homework assignment is saying that five times really fast).
What I was searching for was, essentially, a waterproof MP3 player with a built-in speaker. I envisioned loading it up with a bunch of my favourite songs, taking it into the shower, and getting jiggy with it behind the shower curtain. And now, much to my flatmate’s chagrin, I can.
What is it?
The Hipe Waterproof Bluetooth Stereo Shower Speaker (quite a mouthful, I know) functions as a bluetooth headset. You pair it with your phone (or any bluetooth-enabled media player), and then play music to it wirelessly. Buttons on the front give you play, pause, next/previous, and volume controls. No headphones required.
It also has phone controls for making and answering calls. Nothing tells your clients how important their business is to you like answering their calls while you’re lathering up in the shower!
What is it not?
The Hipe (I’m sorry, but I’m not typing out the whole title again) is not an AM/FM radio, unless you have it connected to one via bluetooth. It’s also not an MP3 player, so you can’t actually store music on it.
It also isn’t completely waterproof. I’d call it water resistant, as it can withstand a stream of water (even a high-pressure water jet), but they don’t recommend completely immersing it. So don’t throw it in the pool.
Does it work?
The unit feels solid and well-built. The sound quality of the stereo speakers is surprisingly good, and sounds great in the shower. Even the bass is good for its size.
The only warning I’d offer would be that the hook from which you’d hang it from your shower head or curtain rod could be stronger. As such, I’d prefer to set it down on a flat surface. But considering its other strengths, that really doesn’t seem like a very big deal.
Buy One Now
Is it worth $70? That depends on how badly you want to jam in the shower. I wanted it bad, and I don’t regret the purchase. Also, keep in mind you can take this thing anywhere, so it doesn’t have to stay in your bathroom. It’s battery-powered, and charges via USB cable.
Looks like I’ll be taking longer showers from now on. And if you hear running water the next time you call me, now you know why. Try not to get too excited.What do you think? Leave a comment!
What do I do when I’m not racing aquatic creatures competitively, participating in lumberjacking contests or breaking records for maple syrup tapping (all of which are things most Canadians do)? I work at a small IT company serving clients in the Toronto area. Last week, we had an iPad in the office for a few days, and I was able to spend some quality time with it, beyond a mere few minutes here and there on my way through my local Best Buy store.
I have a few thoughts on Apple’s tablet that I’d like to share. However, realizing that the web is already rife with reviews on the iPad, I thought I’d offer my thoughts from a slightly different perspective – that of a so-called “Apple hater.” If you’re a heavy PC user and you’re considering the iPad, you may appreciate some of my insight here.
Le gasp! How can you hate Apple, you weirdo?
People often confuse my preference of a PC over a Mac as hatred for Apple, but this simply isn’t so. True, I love using PC’s, I use the Windows operating system almost exclusively (both at work and at home) and have gone out of my way to avoid iPods when shopping for MP3 players. However, I readily admit that many of Apple’s products are fun to use, built well and have great interfaces.
I don’t subscribe to the “Steve Jobs is god and his products are like magical rainbow unicorn eggs that grant wishes” attitude that I’ve observed in some. But it’s not like I bow before Microsoft, either. What I’m trying to express is that I hold an objective viewpoint towards both PC’s and Macs, despite my personal preferences. Both have their faults, as they both have their strengths.
So the iPad Doesn’t Suck After All – The Pros
I was actually quite impressed with the iPad. It feels solidly constructed, and seems to be just the right size for a tablet. While clearly no replacement for a full notebook computer, it fits a specific role very well – that of a mobile web browsing and email communication device.
Great reading/browsing. The iPad’s operating system is incredibly smooth and fun to use, and its web browser is no different. In fact, I found it easier to read many web sites and blogs on its screen than on any of my other computers. I can’t quite put my finger on what it was that made such a difference, but it was noticeable.
Good email client. The iPad’s email client is likewise easy to use and navigate. I was pleasantly surprised when connecting it to a Microsoft Exchange server with an SSL certificate (an email platform commonly used by businesses). This is something that’s caused me to go Hulk smash on more than a few iPhones, so I was expecting a fight. But it just worked! After all the problems I’ve had with iPhones connecting to Exchange servers, I was one error away from hanging myself. So, thank you, Apple.
On-screen keyboard. The biggest surprise, for me, was the iPad’s on-screen keyboard. I’ll be honest – I was expecting it to be awkward, at best. But when I started typing on it, I found that it allowed me to type almost as fast as I can touch-type on a regular keyboard. What’s more, I could do so with near 100% accuracy. The key spacing felt perfect, and the haptic feedback (it vibrates slightly on a key press) made the typing experience that much better. So yes, the iPad’s keyboard makes me want to kiss a walrus.
Ok, Maybe it Sucks a Little – The Cons
iTunes. I don’t like iTunes, and I don’t like being forced to install it to use an Apple product. But the iPad won’t even start up without being connected to iTunes, first. So I installed it on a notebook I didn’t care as much about. After making me download a 77 MB file and wait to install the software, it failed, and told me I had to reinstall iTunes. Nice. When I finally got it working and connected the iPad, it only needed about ten seconds to do its thing before the tablet was ready to go. Why can’t it be ready to use right out of the box?
Lack of Flash support. Like I said, web browsing on the iPad is really nice. But where’s Flash? Oh yeah, I forgot about Apple’s little feud with Adobe. So if you need to view content on the web that’s built in Flash, forget it; you’re out of luck. This is one thing that makes a Google Android tablet look particularly attractive when compared to the iPad – built-in support for Flash.
No USB ports. One of the first things I do when I pick up a new notebook or netbook is turn it around to see where the USB ports are. So imagine my disappointment when I inspected all four sides of the iPad to find absolutely no USB ports? Ok, even I said that this is no replacement for a full computer. But come on, not even one?
Built-in battery and storage. I really like being able to upgrade the storage in a mobile computer, or at least add more. I don’t want to have to buy a new tablet just because I’ve maxed out its storage capacity. And what about the battery? Rechargeable batteries die eventually and need to be replaced. Why should I have to buy a new iPad when this happens? I’d like to be able to swap out the battery myself, but alas, Apple doesn’t let you do that.
The verdict – Would I buy one?
If I really needed a tablet that did just what the iPad does, I’d consider buying one. There has to be a way around iTunes, right? But what really makes a purchase difficult to justify is the price. The base model starts at $550 CDN. The 64 GB model with 3G connectivity that we had at work last week cost $880. For that price, I could buy two loaded, fully functional netbooks.
With a great email and browsing experience, and an amazing on-screen keyboard, the iPad is a great tablet computer; But considering the level of functionality that Apple withholds from you for the price, I can’t see it being worth your hard-earned pesos. If money is no object to you, and you can stand iTunes, then I’d recommend it. If it were a couple hundred dollars less, I might already have one. But as it stands now, 367 coconuts might give me more value for my money.1 person has commented. What do you think?
“Dropbox like it’s hot?” Really, Tristan? I’m so lame sometimes. Good thing Dropbox isn’t (I swear, I didn’t get paid to say that).
Dudehead’s been telling me about this online file sharing service for 62 years (give or take a few), but I only just got around to trying it for myself. I’ve been using it for about a week now, and I’m impressed with how easy it is to use, how seamlessly it works and how useful it really is. So with that said, let this review commence!
What, exactly, is Dropbox for, anyway?
Dropbox is an online service that lets you do two things: Synchronize files between two or more computers, and share files with others. I’m assuming that if you’ve read this far, then you already know why one would want to do one of these things. But how?
Dropbox sets up a folder on your hard drive that it watches. As you add data to that folder, a small software application uploads it to your Dropbox account online. Delete something from your Dropbox folder, and it gets deleted from your online account. Everything you do in that folder gets synchronized with your online Dropbox account. And it does all of this quietly, automatically and in the background.
How easy? So easy.
You visit the Dropbox web site and download a small program that you install on your computer. If you haven’t already created an account on the web, you can do so in the software installer. The process takes less than a minute, after which it asks you if you want to specify where to place the Dropbox folder. If you don’t, it puts it in a default location (for example, ‘My Documents’ if you’re using Windows).
That’s it. Start dumping stuff into that folder, and it synchronizes. You can install the app on as many computers as you want, and any files you add on one computer will be automatically downloaded to all the others as soon as they’re added. It makes syncing files between multiple computers so easy.
The Dropbox software itself is small, and contains relatively few settings or options. It’s clear that they designed it to be simple to set up and use, and simple it is.
You can also access your files from any web browser by logging into the Dropbox web site. The web interface lets you do anything with your files that you would be able to do on your computer.
Here, you can also set up folders to share with other users. Any files you place in a shared folder will automatically synchronize to the Dropbox users they’re shared with. What you share is your business, but this lets you do it pretty easily.
The Technical Stuff (Hooyah)
One thing to be aware of when using an online service like Dropbox is the impact it will have on your internet connection. If your service provider places on limits on how much data you can download and upload every month, just be careful when placing large files in your Dropbox folder. And naturally, synchronizing larger files will take time, depending on the speed of your connection. So be patient.
If you’re syncing between computers that are on the same local network, there’s good news. Dropbox has a feature called “LAN Sync” that performs the sync over your network, if it can, instead of going out to the internet. It still requires an internet connection to get information from your account, but your files themselves will transfer within your network. This has the virtue of, not only being faster, but also not using your monthly bandwidth.
Lastly, how secure is your data as it’s being transmitted over the internet? The Dropbox Help site offers a fairly detailed answer to this question (click here). But allow me to make a long story short (I know, completely out of character): According to Dropbox, your data is encrypted as it’s sent, and once it’s on their servers, it’s stored securely using robust technology. They also assure you that even Dropbox employees are unable to open users’ files and view their contents.
Go Try It
Dropbox gives you 2 GB of online storage for free, so go try it out. And I’ll tell you right now that if you click that link, I get an extra 250 MB of storage for the referral. You do too, if you refer your friends.
If you need more than 2 GB, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid account, but $10/month for 50 GB doesn’t seem unreasonable to me, given the level of convenience the service offers. And did I mention the software works on Windows, Mac OS and Linux? They even have mobile apps for syncing files to and from your Android phone, iPhone, iPad and Blackberry (coming soon). Wicked cool.
How many coconuts can you buy with $10, anyway? Forget everything I just said. Go spend your money on coconuts, instead.4 people have commented. What do you think?
Recently, they passed a law up here in the great, white world of Canada that makes it illegal to use a hand-held device, such as a phone, while driving a car. Getting caught doing so is now quite the expensive affair. But it’s ok – I’m still safe, until they outlaw driving with your feet. What a sad day that’ll be.
In any case, to avoid paying hundreds of dollars in fines for something that I absolutely do not do regularly (*wink wink*), I decided that it was time to invest in a bluetooth headset. Being a geek, making such a decision is somewhat exciting, because it means I get to do what geeks love to do: Research new toys!
The headset itself is small and light, and sits at the side of your head rather inconspicuously. However, I suppose it could draw as much or as little attention to your ear as you desire, depending on which model you pick up.
The Jawbone Icon web site shows you six varieties, each with their own name, some more subtle than others. Some look like flamboyant pieces of jewelry hanging off your ear. All of them are technically identical, though; The differences are purely aesthetic. I also found that if you look around, you can find varieties that aren’t displayed on the Jawbone site.
Don’t confuse this headset with its predecessor, the Jawbone Prime. Besides the Icon being significantly smaller than the Prime, there are so many other reasons why you want the Icon. Better noise cancellation, better battery life, a standard micro-USB charging connector and software updates, to name just a few. The product page has a full feature comparison available for you to look at.
So Just How Good Is the Noise Cancellation, Anyway?
The Icon is designed to be worn so that it touches the side of your face. When you speak, it senses the vibrations generated by your voice, and uses that to determine what’s background noise, and what’s actually your voice.
So, what? Aliph calls the technology “Noise Assassin.” In my experience, they aren’t exaggerating with the name. I tested the headset in a call while I was driving with the window down, wind blowing into the car, and my stereo playing music loudly, and the person I was talking to said they were just barely able to hear the music and the wind. My voice was clear, and they had no problem understanding me. Impressive? Very.
Too good to be true? Maybe. Although most people I’ve spoken to who have one are very pleased with them, not everyone is. Joshua Nozzi uses one with his iPhone 4, and he’s received complaints that people couldn’t hear his voice over background noise in calls. Oddly enough, he said that turning off the Noise Assassin feature actually improved call quality.
Conclusion: While the majority of users are very pleased with the Icon’s noise cancellation technology, there are a few who would suggest that it may not always work as well as it should. Whether that has more to do with the phones, and not the headsets themselves, is anyone’s guess.
Fit and Comfort
Fit and comfort level is probably the one other factor as important as noise cancellation in a headset. The Icon comes with seven sizes/styles of earbud (pictured to the right; one comes already on the device) and an optional ear loop. The two at the top of the picture are designed to hold the headset in your ear securely without the ear loop, and they do a pretty good job of it.
It’s worth noting that to secure the top earbuds in your ear, you have to insert the headset facing down, and then twist it upwards so that the earbud’s loop slides into the back of your ear. Sometimes I could swear I can feel the cartilage in my ear crunching when I do this. Or maybe it’s just my superhuman hearing picking up somebody else’s cartilage crunching. Who knows.
Besides that, once I figured out a combination that I liked, I found it to be comfortable, fit securely, and cause minimal strain on my ear even after a couple hours.
Charging and Software Updates
The Icon charges with a micro-USB connector. You can charge it either by plugging it into a wall outlet with its included charger, or by plugging it into a USB port on your computer. When connected to a computer, you can install things like software upgrades (to enable new features) or different voices (because it does cool things like read incoming caller ids and battery level to you).
This is done from the MyTALK web site. Install a small app on your computer, and start syncing with your headset. The site’s still in beta, but works extremely well and is easy to use. As soon as I connected mine, there was an update available that allowed me to listen to music from my phone on the headset, in addition to using it strictly for calling. Also, if you use an iPhone, you can install an app on your phone that shows you the battery level of the headset in line with your iPhone’s battery meter. Too bad that feature isn’t available for Windows Mobile or Google Android.
To Buy, Or Not To Buy?
If you’re looking for a good bluetooth headset, buy the Jawbone Icon. Just don’t buy it from your service provider (*ahem* AT&T stores *ahem*), unless you feel like paying more than you should. I bought mine from a reputable eBay merchant (sealed retail package), and even after shipping, I got it for $25 less than I would have anywhere else. But my point is, shop around, and you’ll find they’re relatively inexpensive.
Or you could just buy 51 burritos. That’d probably be good, too. Just saying.3 people have commented. What do you think?