We’re Not in the Business of Understanding our User

A few years ago I wrote about sometimes your product is useful to people in ways you didn’t know—and that you’d be smart to recognise that and capitalize on itn (What Your Product Does You Might Not Know About, 2007). One of the examples I cited was ZoneAlarm, a very popular firewall that was bought …

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PR That Doesn’t Bark, Or Barks Too Much

This is my weekly Loose Wire Service column, an edited version of which was recorded for my BBC World Service slot. Audio to follow. There’s a moment in All The President’s Men that nails it. Bob Woodward is telling his editors about when he’d called up the White House to confirm that Howard Hunt, one …

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Driver Phishing

Maybe because it’s early in the morning, but I fell for this little scam pretty easily. I’m going to call it “driver phishing” because it has all the hallmarks of a phishing attack, although it’s probably legal. I’m looking for the latest drivers for my Logitech webcam, so I type in Logitech QuickCam driver in …

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Still Sneaky After All These Years

I still retain the capacity to get bummed out by the intrusiveness of software from companies you’d think would be trying to make us happy these days, not make us madder. My friend Scotty, the Winpatrol watchdog, has been doing a great job of keeping an eye on these things. The culprits either try to …

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Serial Number Killers

I’ve been mulling the issue of registering and activating software of late, and while I feel users generally are less averse to the process of having to enter a serial number or activating a program before they can use it than before, I think there’s still a lot of frustration out there. And I know …

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Updater Fever

I sometimes wonder what software companies—Apple, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, they’re all the same—want from their customers. I spend enough time with novice users to know how confusing using computer software can be. Especially online: It’s a scary world out there (they’re right to be scared) but these companies, which should know better, make it more …

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How to Manage Your Nokia Phone

Nokia has finally woken up to the potential of connecting its phones to a computer. Although you could do it before, Nokia has launched a new version of its PC Suite, that makes some great strides in allowing you to use the computer to manage and monitor your cellphone. The vision is a simple, and …

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Google’s Sleazy (and Broken) Updater

Sorry to see that Google is going the sleazy route that Microsoft and Apple have ploughed before, namely trying to hoodwink and browbeat users into installing and automatically updating software they don’t want via an installer. Try to download Google Earth now, for example, and you’ll be directed to the Google Updater, which will try …

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Google’s Real Problem

There’s some interesting chat about whether Google is in trouble, although none of the pieces ask the question that I think is the most important one. BusinessWeek points to the fact that none of its new products are really gaining traction, which may be less down to the quality of those products — Earth, Finance, …

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