Archive for the 'Pet Peeves' Category


Dear Sony: I’m Tired of the PS3 Online XMB System Updates…

OK – I was silent for awhile. As much as Sony has been in this gaming industry strong since 1995 (and some may argue even longer), they’re really learning (and in some cases stumbling) their way through this whole online experience. As much as they profess that the “PlayStation Network” experience is thriving, I’m hoping these are the beginning stages of what will eventually become a mature online community. I don’t feel connected to anyone when I’m on the PS3 (unless I go to the PlayStation Store).

But honestly… these online updates every few days has got to stop.

Microsoft’s business is in software and they’ve been through their share of headaches, but they’ve learned. Two years ago, you’d log into Windows and every day there would be an update of some sort staring you in the face. However, somehow they understood that it’s a completely disruptive experience to the end user and as a result, now we have “patch Tuesdays”. (The Tuesday every month when Microsoft sends out its patches and OS updates. And unless there is a dire emergency or critical vulnerability in the wild, you won’t hear from them again until next “patch Tuesday.”) Xbox has leveraged this mechanism and taken it to an even more mature level. Understanding that the Xbox 360’s interface and OS is a lot less critical and sensitive than a full PC’s OS, they only provide updates twice a year — the Spring Update and the Fall/Winter Update. They too will break that schedule if necessary, but only in the most dire circumstances. What’s more, the updates are much less intrusive. They alert you that the game or the Dashboard has an available update. You click “OK”…. you wait for the download to complete…and 2 minutes later, you’re back to playing.

Sony has the most disruptive and bothersome method of making updates to the OS. You have to navigate through accepting an agreement — just to update what you already own. You’ll then need to go about 3 or 4 clicks and sometimes multiple restarts to get back to the XMB. And worst of all is the frequency of the updates. This has to stop. Last week everyone ran the update for version 2.0 of the XMB. Less than a week later, we’re being asked to update to 2.1. Clearly there’s some sort of issue with managing these updates, or perhaps not properly testing ones like 2.0 before they launch.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve owned my PS3 for less than one year and right now I’m starting to question some things.

Initially the PS3 was designed to be my “lead system”. This would be the system that I’d use to buy titles if they were available on all other systems — the rationale being that the PS3 version would look better (and because I prefer the Dual Shock, so the playing experience would be a bit better for me.) I’m almost 180 degrees in the other direction. For a lot of reasons, the PS3 is starting to cut away at that confidence I had. I’ll talk more about this in subsequent weeks, but Sony is definitely losing my confidence and the 360 is starting to look like the system I’d recommend without hesitation to any gamer looking for the best game selection, connectivity/online gaming experience and the best end user experience overall.

Sony: It’s time to get serious. Price is not the only area where we needed to see improvement.


Dear John: (An Open Letter to Verizon Wireless)

Dear Verizon Wireless,

We’ve spent the past seven years together and it’s been pretty o.k. We’ve had some good times. I remember when I first got you… (your name was Bell Atlantic Mobile back then). But you adopted this new name and a bunch of folks making “v signs” with their fingers made me feel a bit more comfortable. You had some o.k. devices — there was the wonderful Motorola 8160. Oh, how small and cute it was. Then we shared the V60, which was a nice change of pace. I didn’t know who LG was at the time, but I trusted you with the V6000 camera phone. And it paid off. We had a great year with that one.

Well, I’ll just say it. I’m leaving you. Actually did already. (You’ll see my unretrieved voicemails on the floor Monday morning.) Don’t cry, Verizon. It’s not you….it’s me. I needed more. I needed a change. Things weren’t happening with us. You weren’t paying attention to my needs. After seven years, I feel that I at least need to offer you an explanation….

It was after the V6000 that things started to change. The landscape of technical devices was changing. Devices were getting sexier….and you didn’t seem to care much about your appearance. Sure, the other companies didn’t have as wide and as strong a network as you did. But you stopped considering my needs. I’m a tech enthusiast. When a new device is coming out, I want in. And not a year later, either.

I was happy when you made the decision to exclusively carry the Motorola V710. It was a bit bulky, but a sexy device no less. You dishonesty about bluetooth and telling me that bluetooth was just a mechanism to talk via a wireless headset and not the technology that it truly is — a mechanism to transfer files, data, etc. — upset me. I was thinking that things were changing. But they weren’t. You were still moving ahead with your controlling ways.

My confidence in you hit an all time low when the other companies were courting the Motorola Razr and you were folding your arms in the corner and refused to sell it to me. You kept saying that the Razr breaks and that it’s not as sexy as I think it is. As if you knew what I wanted better than I did. Of course you secured the Razr about a year later, but the bad taste in my mouth was beginning to get really stale. Continue reading ‘Dear John: (An Open Letter to Verizon Wireless)’


iWait….and iBlame

Well, it has to be all over the news now… The iPhone is launched. Loads of people went out to buy it. However, many of them can’t use it because of activation issues. It’s funny — this is the thing that concerned me and a lot of other folks the most. How is Apple going to sell all of these phones and activate them? What I didn’t understand at the time was that the plan was for the user to activate the phone at home — pretty good plan….. if it works.

AT&T was the most malleable of the mobile phone partners that Apple could have chosen. They probably were selected largely because they agreed to let Apple do what they wanted with the phone’s design and integration with the network. However, the fact remains that AT&T is still a mobile phone company and don’t really have expertise in delivering a good customer service experience.

The iPhone doesn’t unlock any of it’s features until you activate the phone under a mobile service contract. For those establishing new service, that doesn’t seem to be a problem. For those transferring service from one AT&T phone to another, that seems to be slightly less of an issue. But for those brave souls like myself and so many others who decided that wherever Apple goes must not be that bad and I shall follow…..well, we kinda are getting screwed a bit. You start the activation in iTunes and it gets to a point where they take your existing information for your mobile phone provider and attempt to activate your new iPhone. I thought this was a bit dodgy when I first heard about it….. Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon just handing over a ton of customers without a fight? But then I watched the video on Apple’s homepage. The guy with the Steve Jobs outfit who demos the phone said that it would be an easy conversion. Ummm, OK. If you say so. But clearly after waiting…(let’s see…..) almost 12 hours, clearly that isn’t the case.

So Who’s to Blame

There’s a lot of blame to go around here. Let’s start with AT&T.


If you’re AT&T, I must say, you have to be a tad embarrassed. I mean, after all, this is your business. This is the only thing that you do in the equation. You didn’t design the phone. You didn’t design the interface. All you had to do was make sure that people would be able to use the devices, and you couldn’t quite make that happen. Not a great way to start a relationship. I had AT&T Wireless many years ago, but I don’t even count that experience because my phone was about the size of a VHS tape and the battery lasted about 5 hours if I didn’t use the phone and 1/2 an hour if I decided I might want to talk on it. But nonetheless, after 10 years, it seems like the more things changed, the more they stayed the same. Continue reading ‘iWait….and iBlame’


Pet Peeve #1 – Leave the Manager Alone During the Game


I’m gettin old. Period. And those gray hairs entitle me to complain as much as Grandpa Simpson and whenever I want. So I’m gonna post a few of my pet peeves as stuff comes to me. This isn’t a big one, but it inspired me enough to get off the couch and complain.

I know with advances in broadcast technology that we’re always looking for ways to increase the television viewer’s experience. I enjoy the increased camera angles and the close-up high def looks that reveal whether the ref called the play correctly or not. But there becomes a point when you’re just crossing the line.

It’s hard enough trying to manage a game for nine innings. Why do we have to shove a mic in front of the manager’s face during the game? What can he possibly say that would increase our enjoyment of the game? Have you ever listened to those interviews? They’re about as interesting as talking to the guy behind you in the hot dog line. Only in baseball would you see something like this. They’re not gonna stick a mic in front of Mike Holmgren during the 3rd quarter of a close game. Or Phil Jackson. (Maybe I shouldn’t speak so confidently — this could very well be on the brainstorming list of some bright TV executive.

It’s bad enough to be a manager on the losing end of a 15-3 game and to have to sit at a press table and answer dumb questions about why you didn’t give the hit sign during that 3-1 pitch in the 5th inning. Do we really need to bug these guys during the game?

(Larry Bowa’s smiling above. But trust me. The managers hate this practice a lot more than I do.)