Archive for the 'Personal' category

Exemplary customer service at JanSport

September 15, 2008 6:28 pm

This is an example of how customer service is done right.

We bought a JanSport backpack three years ago or so for use at school. A few days ago a buckle broke, so I contacted JanSport via their customer service web page. I explained the situation of the buckle breaking and not having a receipt and asked if that would be a problem if I’d like to have a repair done. I got a very friendly reply by email the day after, telling me the service center would send me a new buckle if I just gave them my shipping address. I replied back with my address, but also talking about how I wasn’t sure how to thread the buckle back on, could they include some instructions, please.

Well, today I got the buckle with a handwritten note, telling me how to put the buckle back. Not only that, but the buckle in the package had two pieces of webbing threaded through, held together with paperclips to show me how to thread properly. Brilliant!


Thank you JanSport for showing that customer service still exists in this day and age of outsourcing and automation!

CNet picks up BusinessWeek report, seems to do no independent fact checking

September 12, 2008 11:44 pm

Let’s see if anyone cares about this.

CNet posted something about how HP is trying to do an "end run" around Windows. The post seems to quote a BusinessWeek article from last Friday (online edition) and I wonder if anyone did any fact checking.

Now, I’m not about to dignify the speculation around what the future may hold, especially with regards to operating systems and "end runs", with a response, but I can’t stand to see factual inaccuracies about past product development, especially since I was personally involved. You could say this is a matter of personal and professional pride (for better or worse.) The post says this:

HP isn’t confirming the report, but had previously been open about the formation of a new group within its Labs that developed the touch-screen technology and special software used in its TouchSmart PC. The software lets users get around certain features of Vista to do certain multimedia tasks more easily.

Just to be clear: The software came out of the group that designed and developed the HP TouchSmart PC, the Consumer PC division, in conjunction with a few outside partners. Also, the software very much builds on top of things in Vista and couldn’t have been done on XP or any previous Microsoft OS. While it may be true that the software does so, it was not purposely built to let "users get around certain Vista features to do certain multimedia tasks more easily". It was built to provide the user an environment optimized for touch interaction, while providing interesting experiences and useful features at the same time (and yes, we can debate both the word interesting and the word useful, as lots of people have already done.)

CNet, did you check your stories and go back to the sources before posting something like this?

Maker Faire drowning in success

May 3, 2008 4:07 pm

I’m happy that Maker Faire in San Mateo is having great success, judging from today’s experience. Our family attempted to go today to take part in the clothing swap, mostly. But when we got there, all the parking lots were overflowing/closed and they had people walking around with bullhorns asking cars to turn around and park elsewhere.

It would have been nice if they had updated the website with this information. That could have saved us burning all that gas, just to turn around and go back home.

If you’re going, my guess is you should arrive right when the doors open in order to get a spot.

Or even better: take public transportation.

One side benefit for the local economy from this somewhat “wasted” trip: we spent some money at a local German butcher on the way home. Mmm. Delicious German sausages!

Inside the HP TouchSmart PC software: HP SmartCenter – Part 4

April 24, 2008 7:33 pm

This is part 4 of the mini-series on the HP SmartCenter software. Hear about the team’s reaction to the Engadget leak and the launch plans at CES 2007. If you missed the first three parts, they are here, here and here.

One of the really unsettling events before the launch of the TouchSmart PC was that Engadget somehow got a hold of some pictures that had been prepared for the launch in early 2007 at the Consumer Electronics Show. It was billed in the first sentence as “AMD’s sweet new rig”, which was a little bit of a slap in the face, since most of the real work fell outside of AMDs realm. I remember the team meeting when our program manager came in and told us about the “leak”. He had heard it from Microsoft just a few moments before joining the meeting. The mood in the room instantly turned. People started feeling both mad at the leaked information (and the leaker) and depressed about the potential impact this would have on our launch at CES. Microsoft especially was disappointed, since the TouchSmart PC represented a big investment on their part, carrying some of the Vista messaging. The TouchSmart PC was to be billed as one of a few “dream” PCs at CES. Having gone through an experience like that, I now always think about how the people involved must feel when I see “leaked” information about upcoming products. It’s not fun to have it happen to you.

On a happier note, the TouchSmart PC seemed to make quite a splash at CES. At the last minute I was asked to attend the show to help with technical support on the show floor. This was my first time attending CES and going to Las Vegas, and I quite enjoyed the experience. I ran into quite a few of the people that had worked with us on the project, and it was fun to see the crowds milling about the TouchSmart PCs at the HP and Microsoft booths. Having backstage access was a unique thing, but it involved a lot of walking around, helping the people doing demos by making sure the software was installed properly.

Since then, the HP TouchSmart PC has received numerous awards (including spot number seven on PC World’s list of most innovative products of 2007) and for a short while even had a fan website, the HP TouchSmart Owner’s Club.

This is the tentative end of the series. If you’re curious about other aspects, let me know, and if I can talk about it, I’ll see if I can accommodate your curiosity.