As the one who manages email communications for a nonprofit and someone who gets a lot of email across 4 accounts, I see both sides of the CANSPAM coin.
Research in Motion, Im calling you out for not playing fair.
A few months ago, Salesforce implemented a security feature that while I agree with on principle (and therefore don’t want to take steps to completely disable), it has been driving me crazy.
In short, when you log in to your Salesforce account, the system looks at your IP and recognizes whether or not you have logged in from that IP before or if your IP is already cleared by the system administrator. If it’s a new IP in your account, you have to click an activation link which sends an email to the account you’re trying to log in under. You click the link in the email which activates the IP and you’re good to log in and get work done.
Businesses that have static IPs (or even dynamic IPs that don’t move around that much) aren’t bothered by this. However, someone like me whose office usually consists of a laptop and any power outlet she can find is finding this security feature challenging to say the least.
Even when I’m home, Verizon is changing my IP at least 2-3x a day. It’s annoying to have to dance over to my email so often to authorize yet another IP address. Thankfully, that email arrives in fractions of a second after I click the link so I’m not delayed that much. Otherwise, I would just authorize entire IP blocks that Verizon DSL uses, which I’m not sure I want to do.
However, yesterday I found out what happens when I can’t get to my email: Not fun.
I did a little presentation/demo at the New York City Nonprofit Salesforce Usergroup. The meeting was hosted at Wells Fargo Insurance services in midtown Manhattan. When I attempted to log in to Salesforce, of course I got the “Activation Needed” box. Okay, so I fire up a browser window to check my email. Now that we are fully migrated to Google Apps, I no longer use a separate mail client. A window pops up that mail.google.com is blocked by the corporate firewall. The little note on the message says that all external email applications are blocked. Uh oh.
So what did we do so I could use my Salesforce account during the demo?
Another attendee (thanks again, Marc!) found that he could use my computer to log in to his webmail (SquirrelMail). I guess they let that one get away, likely since it was webmail.domain.com and not a known mail application. So I clicked the link to activate, retrieved the message on my Blackberry, forwarded to his email where he could open the message in a window on my computer and activate. Phew!
I completely agree with the extra security measure of making sure that the account holder is the person logging in to Salesforce. I agree with the notion that if there’s a doubt, notify the user via the email address on their account. But I wish Salesforce wouldn’t base this decision solely on IP/physical location. Guess what? That’s the point of Salesforce. We can log in from anywhere and move around.There has to be a better way of verifying that I’m me.
What about a software token (Mac compatible, of course) that one could install on a computer in a secure way that Salesforce could check for if it doesn’t recognize the IP address? That way, every time my computer is used to log on, Salesforce knows it’s me. I don’t know.
I’m beginning to drool over the upcoming Blackberry 9000, now that it seems to be a reality.
It has everything I already love about my Blackberry 8800, plus wifi, a faster network and a camera. I know that rumors also say iPhone is due for an upgrade later this year to AT&T’s faster 3G network.
Some of the Mac press refuse to see what’s attractive about the Blackberry over the iPhone, like this tidbit from MacDailyNews:
“Uh oh, RIM shareholders. If this is all RIM’s got, you guys and gals might want to quickly add “former” ahead of that suddenly scary description of one of your portfolio positions, as it’s now painfully obvious that RIM has learned nothing in the past 15 or so months since Apple unveiled the iPhone,” SteveJack writes.
“It’s the same old, same old in an iPhone-inspired wrapper. And that should fail to inspire much confidence in RIM,” SteveJack writes.
MDN is an extreme example because it’s a site where Steve Jobs can rob a bank at gunpoint and they’ll turn it around into a positive message for humanity, but it’s become typical to measure the Blackberry by an iPhone standard.
Some of us genuinely enjoy our Blackberrys for what they are, not as some sort of second fiddle to the iPhone. If I wanted an iPhone, I would have bought one. Sleek design can only take you so far.
I’m relieved that RIM is staying true to its focus on functionality first and foremost. Given a choice, I think I may still choose Blackberry when both companies roll out their new devices in a few months. When I want to use my phone to update Twitter or send an email, I’m thinking of the message, not the tool. I think the iPhone’s awkward keyboard will always be a barrier for me. We’ll see what happens when I have the opportunity to walk into an AT&T store later in the spring and (hopefully) hold both devices.
When it comes to technology, in my opinion, the best design quickly gets out of the way and doesn’t have to try too hard. This is why I still feel that the MacBook Air is an interesting proof-of-concept but will fail long term unless there is more thinking towards functionality than just being “impossibly thin.” Maybe it was impossible for a reason.
Frankly, If RIM can adapt the browser on a Blackberry to work better with “iPhone enhanced” sites, that may be all it takes for me to stick with their devices and never look back.
I find it ironic that users yell and scream that they want one massive application that does everything including the kitchen sink, then scream “bloat! bloat!” when companies try and deliver exactly that.
We have choices, people. That’s good. Let’s celebrate the smaller, more streamlined applications that do a fantastic job at a few core tasks. It’s not about the application’s features, it’s about how they handle data. They must spend as much time worrying about how a user is going to bring existing data in and out as they do worrying about how the user will create and manage new information.
I’m tired of reading about how the data portability movement is all about social network profiles. It’s much more than that (I hope). You’ll sell me based on what you do with the data I feed in, and how easily you let me take that data out again…not on how tightly you hold on to me once I’m a customer. My “data” is not just the photos I upload or my friends’ birthdays and email addresses.
Case in point: We have our Call-on Congress event coming up in a couple of weeks, where we’re bringing in 40 advocates from all over the country for an advocacy training day and visits to Capitol Hill. We are prepping materials for folders for the advocates, as well as what they’ll bring with them to their Congressional meetings. I’m up here in New Jersey, the rest of the staff is in Virginia. The VA-based folks are writing the copy, it’s my job to do the formatting/layout, making sure all the documents look consistent.
Here’s what we’re doing to make sure all the documents are accurate and ready to go:
No files are emailed. No single tool would work as well as when we use them all in a clear, organized fashion. To me, it’s like trying to build a house with a swiss army knife. Even though you can use the end of a saw to bang something in, you’ll do a better job if you reach for a hammer.
Basecamp is handy for project milestones, messages and files, but the lack of WYSISYG in the Writeboards makes that part of the suite unusable for us. Google Docs is phenomenal for collaboration, but painful for formatting compared to desktop software.
Developers either have to spread their resources thin (and therefore charge more) trying to add features that duplicate what the competition does, or they can (and should) say, “hey, this is what we do really well…stick with us for that, and go use the other guys for what they do really well, and we’ll all concentrate on ways we can make it easy for you to move back and forth so you’ll be happy with both of us.”
That is why I’ve been so jazzed about the Convio/Salesforce connector. It’s not about the tool. It’s about the conversations I’ve had with both companies, and that is exactly the attitude they are both taking.
Image borrowed from RIMarkable
Anyone who has actually tried to use Palm or Windows Mobile to download email on a regular basis is laughing hysterically right now. Blackberry email works reliably 99.9% of the time, except for when RIM is having a nationwide outage of a few hours.
I’ve owned devices on all 3 platforms at one time or another. They each have their strengths and weaknesses. Reliable email is not one of Palm’s strengths by a long shot, and it’s only moderately passable on Windows Mobile. Blackberry blows them both away on that count, even on a “bad” day.
But hey, good luck with that campaign, Palm.
Am I disappointed? Heck, no!
Sure, pinching my way around the web and being able to go to sites on a mobile device that I can’t now looks attractive. If I wanted an iPhone, I would buy an iPhone. I’m relieved that RIM might actually be keeping their eye on the ball and they may not be caving to some real or imagined pressure to make their devices more fruity.
Eventually, I’m sure I’ll own an iPhone. It’s in my nature. I know that. It took me until the 5th generation to own an iPod, but I got there.
My next mobile device may very well be another Blackberry, touchscreen and wifi or not. Why?
Every complaint I have is entirely about AT&T (fewest dropped calls and more bars in more places, my eye!), not about the Blackberry itself. Hmmm….Maybe I have more in common with iPhone owners than I thought?
This story sounds familiar:
Ian Simpson, 29, was sent the bill for four weeks’ service after wiring his mobile up to a laptop to download TV shows – and only then found out his £41.50-a-month deal didn’t include unlimited web use.
His bill with Vodafone was something like $54,000 US$.
Why familiar? Because AT&T (then Cingular) has the same deal. I never used my phone as a modem, but I did get hit with a large bill one month and was informed then that the charges would have been legit had I been using the phone as a modem (I wasn’t).
Vodafone owes this guy a break. If their policies are written anything like AT&T’s, then it’s anything but clear. On the other hand, it doesn’t appear as if he had an “unlimited” plan to begin with. Ouch.
I don’t see why providers can’t do what credit cards do when there are unusual spending patterns. They should be able to figure out what’s a “typical” usage pattern and if a user has a month that’s significantly off some sort of trigger is alerted. Maybe an automated email that says, “hey buddy, do you realize your bill is now 3x what it was last month?” would have been an expensive awakening but not nearly the ridiculous sum it ended up.
If you have a phone with a regular ‘ole data plan, just don’t do it…use your as a modem, that is. There are too many of these stories out there, and the providers are hit & miss on enforcing their murky policies against it.
If you do want to tether your phone to your computer and use it as a modem anyway, then do it sparingly. If you’re stranded somewhere and must get data on a server somewhere, fine. Not for casual surfing. In the long run, if you absolutely need to go online with your computer and don’t have reliable access points, I can say from personal experience that a decent EVDO modem & plan is well worth the $60/month for wireless-without-wifi Internet.
Lately, it’s been more like Momneverathome.
I got back from the Convio Summit last Saturday at 12:30 am. Eric left for Melbourne, Australia at 12 noon that day. He’ll be back on November 3rd, then he leaves for Boston on November 5th. Back on November 9th. He leaves for Zurich on November 10th, returning on November 21st. Then Boston again December 3rd-7th.
Not anything he can control. Unemployment sucks more, so we deal.
I have such admiration for single parents who don’t have an end date in sight. I don’t know how they do it.
As I may have mentioned before, Laini is going to a private school that is 40 miles away and we don’t have transportation. So with Eric on the road, I set out with her every morning at 8 am for the hour-long drive to school. Instead of making the long trip back after dropping her off, I bring my MacBook Pro with me and stay in the area near her school to work. I head home with her at 2:45 pm, pick up Emily at an afterschool program and do the afternoon run around with the kids including homework. I’m averaging around 3-3.5 hours a day behind the wheel.
There are a lot of places with wifi within 10 miles of the school. We signed up for a T-Mobile Hotspot account so we have a few Starbucks and Borders Books to choose from. There’s also a Panera Bread, McDonalds and even a Dunkin’ Donuts offering wifi at various fees (or free). Unfortunately, after a few weeks of doing this I’m going out of my mind. Some folks love being around strangers and find themselves more productive with the buzz of conversation and latte machines. I am not one of those people. I can do semi-mindless tasks in these places. And surfing is certainly comfortable enough. But blogging? Editing? Making/receiving important phone calls? Forget it. It’s just not working. Literally.
I need to be able to find a quiet place to work in the area without worrying about whether wifi is available. So this afternoon I stopped by a Sprint store and picked up a Sierra Wireless AirCard 595U. It’s a USB EVDO modem, $79 after discounts and rebates. Service is $60/month. Sprint coverage is excellent around here and it works very well. I still have to find that quiet corner with a power outlet, but at least now I don’t have to worry about it being a hotspot, too. My Mom suggested looking at fancy department store bathrooms. They usually have “ladies’ lounges” where women can hang out for hours. If there’s a power outlet, it may be worth a shot.
I’m giving Jott a try. I’m coming up with a lot of ideas and I’m remembering tasks while I’m driving, with no possible way of writing them down. With Jott, you call a number and record your thought, and the service translates it to text and emails it to you (or to someone else if they’re in your Jott contact list). Of course, I have a Bluetooth headset for my Blackberry which has an excellent voice dialing application. “Call Jott” and my hands never leave the steering wheel (except to push the button on my ear) and my eyes never leave the road. Safety first.
I use Toodledo as my task manager. Toodledo supports email->task using a special email address. I configured Jott with my Toodledo email address, and now I can call in tasks and they appear in my task list. Or, if you Jott to “Reminder” and give the date/time, Jott will nag you at the appropriate time. I wonder if there’s a way to email a calendar entry to Google Calendar or otherwise Jott it in? I’ll have to look in to that.
It still sucks, but I’m doing everything I can to make this ridiculous situation bearable.
Plantronics has done it again.
First they introduce the Calisto, which is a home-office phone that I absolutely love…so much so, I’m dragging my heels on returning my review unit until a little closer to the time that I can think about purchasing one for myself. The Calisto is a light cordless handset and Bluetooth headset that let you switch seamlessly between mobile and landline calls without juggling ears. The sound quality is outstanding.
Now they introduce a new Bluetooth headset for mobile phones that also does stereo sound (Voyager 855). I’m not as tempted by this one, because I don’t listen to music on my phone. I want a Bluetooth headset that will let me listen to stereo music on my computer, and then take mobile calls. It would require pairing with both my computer (or iPod) and phone at the same time, which this doesn’t appear to do. I guess I really want an iMuff. Can’t justify the expense at the moment. For now, I’ll juggle.
In the meantime, I picked up the Explorer 330 for around $50 over the weekend. I will be spending a lot of time in the car over the new few weeks and months. It’s an excellent Bluetooth headset. So much better than the Motorola headsets I’ve tried in the past. Pairs easily with my Blackberry. Voice-activated dialing works very well. Calls sound good on both ends and it’s reasonably comfortable.
If you read tech press, and goodness knows I do, you would think that the cell phone was being invented for the first time. I’m finding myself entertained by the iPhone coverage the past few weeks, and this week it will likely hit mania levels.
Honestly, I want the iPhone to be as good and as revolutionary as some folks are making it out to be. The realist in me can’t help but think that expectations are set so high, not even Apple can reach them. Why? They’re not in this game alone. What will pull the iPhone down won’t be what’s in Apple’s control…it will be
Cingular, er the New AT&T, AT&T. The success of the iPhone will depend on AT&T pulling its s**t together 5 minutes after a massive, rushed changeover of branding from Cingular. Can they pull it off? What experience does AT&T have in putting so much attention and support into a single product? The weak link will be in customer support. The experience of calling Apple Support is very different than calling AT&T. The experience of walking into an AT&T Store and asking for help on an issue is very different than walking into an Apple Store. Apple Stores are consistent, even if the size of the locations vary slightly. The quality of AT&T locations vary widely. From clueless mall kiosks (yes, company-owned ones…I’m not even talking about the resellers) to the stores with friendly, knowledgeable employees and stocked shelves. iPhone owners will have to deal with both Apple and AT&T, and when they have a bad experience with AT&T it will reflect negatively on the iPhone no matter how much the Mac press will try and spin it otherwise.
I’m also thinking of the process of activating a new phone with AT&T. I switched from the Cingular 8525 to Blackberry 8800 in March and started a new contract. I figure that in 2 years, Apple will be on revision 3 or so of the iPhone and I’ll be ready to jump in. I’m not a new customer, and I must have been standing at that counter for 20 minutes while the employee did what he had to do to set up my next contract. Happens that way every time. When the line of folks waiting to buy and set up their new iPhones is literally around the block, how will they manage that? That leads me to suspect that when one walks into an Apple or AT&T store, you’ll buy the iPhone with a blank SIM card inside and go home to set it up through iTunes. If that’s the case, how will you port your existing phone number to the new phone? I’m sure Apple/AT&T have thought of this already and have an easy mechanism.
I’m also hoping that there’s a dedicated phone line for iPhone-related issues at AT&T, with separate staff. I know I read that AT&T hired thousands of new employees for this launch. I hope they’re going to have an iPhone store-within-a-store at their locations. I won’t own an iPhone for a couple of years, but when I call AT&T with an issue now I don’t want my experience to suffer because the staff’s attention is entirely focused on the iPhone.