Tag Archives: Loose Wireless

Podcast: Cameras

The BBC World Service Business Daily version of my piece on cameras. (The Business Daily podcast is here. Script is here.)

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To listen to Business Daily on the radio, tune into BBC World Service at the following times, or click here.

Australasia: Mon-Fri 0141*, 0741

East Asia: Mon-Fri 0041, 1441
South Asia: Tue-Fri 0141*, Mon-Fri 0741
East Africa: Mon-Fri 1941
West Africa: Mon-Fri 1541*
Middle East: Mon-Fri 0141*, 1141*
Europe: Mon-Fri 0741, 2132
Americas: Tue-Fri 0141*, Mon-Fri 0741, 1041, 2132

Thanks to the BBC for allowing me to reproduce it as a podcast.

Podcast: Google Dilemma

The BBC World Service Business Daily version of my piece on the Google Dilemma (The Business Daily podcast is here.)

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To listen to Business Daily on the radio, tune into BBC World Service at the following times, or click here.

Australasia: Mon-Fri 0141*, 0741

East Asia: Mon-Fri 0041, 1441
South Asia: Tue-Fri 0141*, Mon-Fri 0741
East Africa: Mon-Fri 1941
West Africa: Mon-Fri 1541*
Middle East: Mon-Fri 0141*, 1141*
Europe: Mon-Fri 0741, 2132
Americas: Tue-Fri 0141*, Mon-Fri 0741, 1041, 2132

Thanks to the BBC for allowing me to reproduce it as a podcast.

Podcast: The Real Revolution

The BBC World Service Business Daily version of my piece on the rise of the smartphone (The Business Daily podcast is here.) 

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To listen to Business Daily on the radio, tune into BBC World Service at the following times, or click here.

Australasia: Mon-Fri 0141*, 0741

East Asia: Mon-Fri 0041, 1441
South Asia: Tue-Fri 0141*, Mon-Fri 0741
East Africa: Mon-Fri 1941
West Africa: Mon-Fri 1541*
Middle East: Mon-Fri 0141*, 1141*
Europe: Mon-Fri 0741, 2132
Americas: Tue-Fri 0141*, Mon-Fri 0741, 1041, 2132

Thanks to the BBC for allowing me to reproduce it as a podcast.

Podcast: Web of Things

The BBC World Service Business Daily version of my piece on The Web of Things to Come  (The Business Daily podcast is here.)

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To listen to Business Daily on the radio, tune into BBC World Service at the following times, or click here.

Australasia: Mon-Fri 0141*, 0741

East Asia: Mon-Fri 0041, 1441
South Asia: Tue-Fri 0141*, Mon-Fri 0741
East Africa: Mon-Fri 1941
West Africa: Mon-Fri 1541*
Middle East: Mon-Fri 0141*, 1141*
Europe: Mon-Fri 0741, 2132
Americas: Tue-Fri 0141*, Mon-Fri 0741, 1041, 2132

Thanks to the BBC for allowing me to reproduce it as a podcast.

Podcast: True Video Lies

The BBC World Service Business Daily version of my piece on how video doesn’t always tell the truth. (The Business Daily podcast is here.) The piece it’s drawn from is here

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To listen to Business Daily on the radio, tune into BBC World Service at the following times, or click here.

Australasia: Mon-Fri 0141*, 0741

East Asia: Mon-Fri 0041, 1441
South Asia: Tue-Fri 0141*, Mon-Fri 0741
East Africa: Mon-Fri 1941
West Africa: Mon-Fri 1541*
Middle East: Mon-Fri 0141*, 1141*
Europe: Mon-Fri 0741, 2132
Americas: Tue-Fri 0141*, Mon-Fri 0741, 1041, 2132

Thanks to the BBC for allowing me to reproduce it as a podcast.

When Good Things Fail

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(Update at bottom of post)

I’m never quite sure what to do when something I’ve raved about in previous columns fails on me. Do I trumpet its failure to the world immediately? Do I go through the normal customer service channels to get it fixed, or do I raise hell with their PR to ensure it gets sorted out by the best and the brightest techies they’ve got available? Do I keep quiet, assuming it’s a one-off?

Here’s the latest mishap: My Olympus DS-20 digital recorder died. Just like that. No warning, no long walk in the rain, no circumferentially advantaged person sitting on it. One minute it was fine, the next it wasn’t. No power, no sign of a flicker, nothing. And I’d only had it for about 14 months. Barely used it, actually (was supposed to be for my Loose Wireless podcasting project,which, ironically enough, was about to start an hour after I discovered the thing didn’t work.) I had recently installed some rechargable batteries in it, approved by the manual.

The thing, well actually three things, are:

  • I’ve long sung Olympus’ praises in this field. This was the fourth Olympus I’ve had; so what happens if someone reads one of my columns or blogs saying how good they are, when it turns out they aren’t?
  • Now that it’s gone bad on me, it’s not enough for it to be fixed. How can I sing its praises even if it is fixed?
  • More importantly, how can I ever rely on it or anything like it again?
  • Besides, I can’t really afford to go buying digital recorders willynilly. Do I look like the kind of person who can?

So, I’m troubled. I’m doubly troubled that there’s no PR person that I can find online at Olympus who might be able to take a good look at this situation and see whether my problem is an easy one to fix (maybe I’m forgetting to do something like turn it on, or look at it from a certain angle) and whether this is something they’ve noted a lot of (I notice the DS-20 is no longer being sold. Why?)

So, for the moment I’m rescinding all recommendations for Olympus digital recorders until I sort this out. It’s not that I don’t think they’re great; it’s just that I can’t be sure whether what happened to me isn’t going to be happening to other people’s. Given that the recordings are stored in flash memory, this is not the sort of gadget you can afford to have die on you at key moments in your life.

In the meantime I’m going to try to find a PR person to offer some insight on this.

Update Jan 21 2008: Olympus tell me the mainboard has died on the device and it would cost me US$125 to have it replaced. Since it’s possible to buy a new one for less than $100 (here, for example) I’m going to decline the offer. I’m also seeking an investigation from Olympus as to why this might have happened. Things do break, and this sort of thing happens. But I’m concerned that this happened without me actually doing anything the manual said I could do, and before I write glowingly about Olympus digital recorders again or recommend them to friends, I’m hoping to get some insight about what happened and whether it’s likely to happen to other people.

A Modular Packing Expert Speaks

Today’s podcast is given over to an interview with my old friend Jim, further identity concealed, as we catch him via Skype on mission in the southern Sudan and ask him, not about the tense political situation and his efforts to bolster democracy in that troubled country, but about how he packs his underpants. Anyone with an interest in packing, or even in Jim’s underpants, should take a listen. Quality of recording unsurprisingly poor despite the great efforts of Skype recording tool Skylook.
Here’s the podcast (about 2 MB): Loose Wireless on Modular Packing I

Revisiting the Kryptonite Affair

(This post is also available as an experimental Loose Wireless podcast )

Remember the Kryptonite Affair? It was back in September 2004 when a company that sold bicycle locks crashed into the power of forums and blogs and came away battered and bleeding when it failed to respond in Internet time to complaints that some of its bicycle locks could be opened with a Bic pen. Here was my take at the time (well, not exactly at the time; I was only a couple of months late). Kryptonite became a poster boy of how not to handle adverse PR when it comes via the Internet. (A Google search for BIC Kryptonite throws up more than 51,000 hits.)

But now a reassessment of Kryptonite’s response has begun with a post by Dave Taylor, a writer, speaker, entrepreneur and blogger. Dave interviews Kryptonite PR chief Donna Tocci, and concludes that Kryptonite’s response was in fact measured and swift. Instead, he says, a myth has developed around the whole incident that should be laid to rest:

Always remember that ultimately the company has to meet its market, too, not vice versa. Oh, and don’t discount the effect of mythologizing along the way too: Kryptonite handled its situation with savvy and professionalism and has recovered its position, but the “myth” of bic pens and the crushing blow of blogging has grown far beyond the reality of the situation.

An interesting perspective. But what myth, exactly? That BIC pens can’t open some Kryptonite bike locks? Yes, they can. Indeed, Donna was quoted by the NYT at the time as making the argument that arguing that locks made by other manufacturers shared the same vulnerabilities.

Then there’s the “myth” of Kryptonite’s allegedly slow and leaden response to the whole thing. Dave says a myth emerged that “the company wasn’t paying attention to the blogosphere and that it took weeks for it to learn that there was a problem”. Hugh MacLeod of gapingvoid at the time was merciless in his chronology, saying that there was nothing on the Kryptonite website to suggest there was a problem with the bike locks until at least Day Seven. This is not exactly true. Kryptonite did post something within a few days on its website offering free replacements to any owner “concerned about the security of this lock” while not acknowledging there were problems with the locks, or indeed, why customers might, or should, be concerned.

But is Dave right in saying that the myth wasn’t true, since “Donna and her team were aware of the problem from the very first day”? Well, a couple of things here. Just because Kryptonite was aware of the problem from the first day doesn’t lessen the problem. Even Donna herself acknowledges that she should have posted “a note on our website about us working on the issue a day or two earlier.” Indeed, one could argue that if they did know about the problem from day one, they should have put something on their website to reassure customers, or given them some hint that there was a problem, before they started doing anything else.

Indeed, what is surprising about the whole episode was not the discovery that some bike locks could be opened with a plastic biro, but that information along these lines had been available for 12 years in the form of an article in a biking magazine. Obscure, maybe, but if the argument is that the blogosphere is just too big too monitor effectively, what about bicycle magazines? How many are there in the world? Maybe 200? 1,000? Is that too many to monitor, over a 12-year period?

The bigger point is that the issue spread like wildfire when it resurfaced 12 years on because of the Internet. That’s what the Internet does, or can do. Kryptonite’s failure was letting down its customers who looked to its website for guidance. So when Donna says “we know that the majority of the people who participated in our lock exchange program heard about it from traditional media sources”, instead of this being evidence to back up Dave’s skepticism that “a lot of blog pundits are fond of pointing to this situation as an example of why companies need to keep track of the so-called blogosphere”, I’d say it highlights the opposite.

If you visit a company website a day or two after damaging news has broken about that company’s products, and there’s no sign of any acknowledgement on the website about this, why would you then keep revisiting it until there is something there? It may not be fair, and it may not fit your schedule, but the Internet requires an in-time response, even if it’s just “we are looking into reports that there’s a problem with some of our products. If you’re concerned, drop us an email and we’ll get back to you.” It’s not rocket science.

So, Dave is right in that Kryptonite will forever be associated with PR problems in the Internet age, and it’s good to get a bit of balance in there. But perhaps the myth he is pointing to is that Kryptonite as a company and brand were permanently hobbled by the episode. Donna — who still has her job — agrees, saying the brand is not “as damaged as the blogosphere would have you believe”. She gives no sales figures. But she also acknowledges that the tubular lock — the source of all the problem — no longer exists as a Kryptonite lock. Indeed, more than 380,000 of them have been replaced. She’s a good PR person: she portrays this as a positive, a sign of the company’s logistical skill. But how could one argue the demise of one’s main product, and the expensive replacement of hundreds of thousands of units, as a good thing? I’d say that it’s a pretty fitting testament to the power of the Internet. On balance, I’d say, the “myth” stands.

The Future of Animal Advertising

For those of you who listen to podcast versions of my slot on the BBC World Service, this isn’t one. Apologies. What this is is what I hope will be the beginnings of more regular podcast fare known, tentatively, as Loose Wireless. To start off, it’s just me yakking away on subjects that interest me, either stuff I’ve already written about or stuff I’m reading about. I’m hoping to be joined by a few collaborators later, but for now it’s just an experiment. If it doesn’t take up too much time, and there’s an appetite for it, I’ll try to do more. Here’s today’s edition of Loose Wireless, which takes a look at three stories in today’s International Herald Tribune, which seem to carry a theme, best described as: Could cows be the next form of online advertising?

Here it is