Monday, August 10, 2009

Canceling Vonage phone...

Vonage... the name conjures up so many good things in life. 1 low flat monthly fee, the ability to take your phone anywhere, no hidden charges...really!

However, for the last one year we have had trouble with the service. If we are downloading data from Internet, voice quality on Vonage phone goes south (well I realize that both data and voice are sharing same Internet link to the home). And sometimes, the voice quality will go bad for no reason (we have all read news reports about cable operators and ISPs giving some special treatment to Vonage ;-)).

Anyhow, I finally did cancel the Vonage service due to it being not compatible with the home security system we just installed. When I called 800 number, I was quickly transferred to a customer representative who very politely handled the call. Upon mentioning my reason, he referred to a website "" which provided home security service/products that are compatible with Vonage (interesting!). Anyhow, when I asked how much I will be returned back for the service I did not use for this month (Vonage takes payment at the beginning of the month for the service to be provided for that month)... he told me zero! Vonage does not pro-rate the monthly charges and may be it is mentioned in their not-so-brief contract (an industry standard BTW). Now the amount owed to me was insignificant but I found it a little odd that a company will charge for a service that it did not really provide. So much for good things in life.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Chrome enhancement

In an earlier blog, I had mentioned about a Chrome enhancement: To be able to view the content from 2 or multiple tabs simultaneously. This would be helpful if you need to compare data from multiple Chrome windows.

Today, I'll mention another enhancement which I believe is equally powerful but on a priority scale I would give this one more priority.

If anyone of you has gone through experience of crashed/malfunctioning hard-drive and have a new hard-drive installed or have an existing hard-drive reimaged, you would probably understand this pain point: you lose the bookmarks of your browser quite a few of which you very likely aggregated over a period of time.

I know one can try to extract the bookmarks from the old hard drive... but how about the following:

Since most people using Chrome anyways have a gmail account, how about Chrome having a facility to upload the bookmarks (could be done automagically as well) and have a facility to download them to Chrome as well. This has multiple benefits:

1) In case of crash/reimage (as mentioned above), you can restore your bookmarks by literally doing one mouse click.

2) Let's say you are working on a different computer and need to access your bookmarks, you would have them readily available. (provided there is an option to delete the bookmarks when you are done without interfering with existing bookmarks on the Chrome that your friend is using.

3) (Google would be happy this)... Google already targets ads on gmail based on your personal emails. They could also target ads based on URLs (or their content) that you have bookmarked.

Seems to be win-win....

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bluetooth for cordless phones

By making driving while holding cellphone illegal in California, the lawmakers have obviously given a big push to the use of bluetooth headsets that have pretty much become a common sight now. And honestly even though some of us may gripe about spending money in buying a headset (including yours truly), the benefits of hands-free talking are almost instantly felt. So far so good.

What happens when the same user is using a cordless phone at home? (As regards to why users may prefer using a cordless phone at home versus their cell phones should be a no-brainer; talk to anyone who ever dared to exceed their day-time minutes and thereby incurring the wrath of cell phone company's per minute charges). Coming back to the original question, the same user who is used to using a bluetooth headset while talking on cellphone would want the same ease of use while talking on cordless phones. One would almost think that the cordless phone manufacturers would have incorporated Bluetooth in their gigantic (relative to a cell phone) handsets.

Its time for a reality check....

Panasonic (world #1 in cordless phone sales)

None of its cordless phones have bluetooth capability. However, they do sell a model which allows one to "link" one's cell phone to the cordless phone over bluetooth so at home you would use only one phone ... your cordless phone. However, the phones handsets do not have bluetooth capability for pairing with a bluetooth handsfree.

Vtech (World #2)

They are doing much better with their high-end models having a bluetooth capability for both linking with cell phone and also pairing with a bluetooth headset. It seems as of now this feature is available in only 3 models (I am assuming that the cost of adding a bluetooth transciever in a cordless phone will only be marginal considering that the technology is fairly standardized and as such I'd expect bluetooth to be a must-have feature in all cordless phones). Vtech currently provides Bluetooth capability in only 2 models:

Gigaset aka Siemens (World #3)

They seem to be doing the best of all by having multiple phones supporting Bluetooth but I must say that even though their phones look the sleekest, they ccompensate their strength in design by creating a technology confusion... have a look at their website and you will see acronyms like ECO DECT (I had heard DECT but what the heck is ECO DECT), HDSP, HSP....

Though I am by no means a professional marketeer, how do they imagine the potential buyers of cordless phones understanding and appreciating this complex terminology. Even though the observation is definitely not new by any means, I fail to understand why companies fail to empathize with their customers.... please talk to us in a language that we speak, understand and appreciate and hey, we will reciprocate by making more money for you!

Uniden (World #4)

Let's not go there....