October 2012 – Stay N Alive

Selling Developers Was Easy. Windows 8’s Big Challenge Will be Selling Press

Most of these “surfaces” are running OS X

When it comes to technology, I love going to developer conferences to meet people, see the people building the platforms I’m studying, and overall understand the best ways to integrate technology for the people I work with on a day-to-day basis. I actually normally attend as a developer when I go to these events, because I have full access to what the developers are seeing (I often pay my own way, as well, although as disclosure that is also comp’d at times). For the Windows Build Developer conference this year though, I came as Press because they sold out of developer passes in minutes. It was very clear that developers wanted to come to this conference (I’ll explain why in another post). I noticed some very interesting things this time though, at my very first Microsoft conference. The Press just aren’t converted yet, and despite Microsoft’s new focus on marketing as Steve Ballmer committed to today, they have some work to do.

Let’s start with the Press section at today’s Keynote. I was surrounded by Macs! Myself included. My neighbors all had iPhones. I saw iPads. I could tell this was a different culture to the Press I was surrounded with.

I’ve been at many conferences, and sat in many press rooms and sections, and I can vouch for that – the Press is part of the Mac cult. They love Mac. And if they don’t love Mac, they love their iPhone. And if they don’t love their iPhone, they love their Android device. I’d hate to say it, but Windows comes lowest on the Press totem pole.

What’s odd is that, while perhaps normal for a conference like this, the conference gives out free devices (at this one a Phone, a Surface, and SkyDrive space) to “all attendees” (the developers), but at least at this conference, the Press are excluded. In fact, as I sit in the Press room writing this I don’t see a single Surface. I don’t see a single Windows Phone. I do see a couple Windows laptops, but they’re surrounded by Macs and iPhones and other Apple devices.  In fact, I inquired about even borrowing one and was told I’d be put on “a waiting list” to even be able to spend some time with one trying it out. Yet, upstairs they’re handing them out like candy to every developer you can see.

I’m not bitter I don’t qualify for the free devices. I’ll probably just go up and buy a Surface from the company store (assuming they’re even available to me) to play with because I like trying out new stuff. I know others in the Press won’t just buy devices like this to use primarily in replacement of their other devices though. It would seem Microsoft would benefit from focusing more on ensuring every member of the press is engrossed in Windows. If I were Microsoft, each member of the Press would have a Surface, pre-populated with their favorite writing tools (something Microsoft is really good at), and they’d all have their Surfaces open writing their blog posts. I guarantee you’d see a different story in the media when that happens.

In the meantime, I sit here writing this post on my Macbook Air, on a Google product (Blogger), and will likely check for your comments on my iPhone after I hit publish. If Microsoft is going to have a stronger marketing focus, they should really start with the Press.

UPDATE: Turns out you can’t even buy a Microsoft Surface at this conference. Not even the company store will sell members of the Press a Surface.

Switching to Windows 8? Better Not Get a Fitbit.

I’m currently using the Windows 8 Release Preview, and so far I’m impressed! Thus far I’ve had very few issues and really love the new interface (formerly named “Metro”). I’m very excited for the final version to be shipped to me by Microsoft. However, there’s one thing that consistently hasn’t worked for me on Windows 8 – my Fitbit software.

Right now when I try the account set up on my Fitbit software installed on Windows 8, it consistently, after I click “login” with my Fitbit account, redirects to a 404 not found page without logging me into the service. I’ve Googled and Googled, not seeing any solution to the problem. I can’t change the default browser it uses, assuming maybe it’s an IE 10 issue, so I can’t try to see if having it login to Chrome will fix the problem.

So I tried to email their support. Here’s the response they sent me:

“Hello Jesse,

We are sorry you are having problems with our software.

We’re aware that Windows 8 pre-release is available to the public. We do not yet formally support this environment and we do not plan to validate our software and device on Windows 8 until it is commercially released. However, once validated, we will update the product specifications page on our website.

Thanks for getting in touch we hope this helped you, if you have any more questions do not hesitate and reply us back.

Lis and the Fitbit Team”

That’s it. Not even willing to try to figure it out. If you use Windows 8 or are planning to use Windows 8 (or have pre-ordered like me), your Fitbit won’t work, and they’re not even planning for it. It seems odd to me that something as simple as authentication would even rely on the operating system or browser type to get you logged in, but I guess that’s their choice, and it’s my problem, not theirs.

I was very disappointed with the customer-no-service approach I received from Fitbit. I will very likely be selling my 2 Fitbits and Aria Scale soon, in favor of the Nike+ system. I’ve also been very surprised of all the responses I’ve received on Twitter and elsewhere of the poor customer service they’ve received from Fitbit. Sorry Fitbit, but you’ve very likely lost this customer.

DressCode – the "Suit Guys" That Come to You

I wrote previously of my fitting by DressCode, my new “suit guys“, that made me a custom-tailored suit and put me in tip-top fashion amongst my colleagues. They came to my house (they’ll also come to your office), measured me, and within a couple weeks I was wearing a top-quality suit that in traditional tailors would cost me $1,000 or more. Because they outsource the tailoring and have streamlined the process to focus on in-person service and fashion, a typical suit like mine goes for around $300. My last post covered the fitting. I wanted to do a follow-up post about how much I like my suit from them.

Never before, even with my custom-tailored suit that I got in Hong Kong last year or even my Bangkok, Thailand tailored suit I got years ago when I lived there, have I received comments on how nice my suit looks. I actually stand out in the crowd now. People ask me where I had my suit made. They notice how nicely it looks.

The thing is, the suit DressCode made me fits me like a glove. It doesn’t have baggy parts in certain areas that make it look like it doesn’t fit. Even my Hong Kong-tailored suit has a bit of a “baggy” look to it. Not my DressCode suit.

And the details – the details are amazing. They suggested a custom lining on the inside. But not just a nice silk lining – they suggested a little colored strip that separates the lining from the suit, adding just one more touch of detail. They added extra pockets, so many in fact that I’m not even sure what to use them all for (they could definitely tell me the proper use for the pockets though, if I asked – their service is tremendous). They touched it all off with my name on the inside coat pocket, to personalize the experience.

Add to that the in-person service. I shared the experience of getting fitted before – with a simple click of a button on their website, they come to your home or office and fit you. But they don’t just take your measurements. They give you tips and suggestions for ways the suit could look better on you. If you want to explore outside your boundaries, they will help you embrace new and upcoming fashion trends. They’ll teach you about all the different parts of a suit, and help you decide what will fit your tastes best. They are in many ways the Zappos of suits!

I am very impressed with DressCode. I’m headed to Hong Kong next month, but this time I don’t have any desire to buy a suit from my tailor there. For the same price (almost), I can buy a much better, even better tailored suit from my friends here locally at DressCode who will come straight to my home or office to fit me. Now that’s pretty cool.

Give them a try – they have reps in a couple states already, and I hear they’re doing a “Popup” shop in Los Angeles soon. They can also come do “Popups” at your business or in your area if they have enough interest. Do what you can to get them in your area – it’s very worth the service!

Disclosure: My first suit from them was free in exchange for some promotion – I’m very glad I tried it though! I will be ordering, and paying for more suits from them in the future.

(sorry for the blurriness – my kids took these pictures!)

Android is Finally "Enough", but I Still Miss My iPhone

I’ve written a few times on this blog about my trials with Android and dissatisfaction with devices under Google’s operating system. The fact is, lack of consistent experience because Google doesn’t own the experience, means they will likely never have a leg-up on the experience iOS gives users, considering Apple controls and owns the entire experience in their OS. Google proved me only partly wrong in this though, with their latest release of Jellybean and the Galaxy Nexus, yet I still find myself missing my iPhone. I’ll explain.

At Google’s recent developer conference at Google I/O I was given a Galaxy Nexus to try and play with as my device. I’ve been using this as my primary device since around May, and for the first time ever, I find myself actually enjoying the Android experience. The voice controls are solid. I love the animated background and the new widget layouts. Google Play predicts my travel and tells me how long it takes to get to where I’m going, when I’m going, without me ever needing to ask. Gmail is seamless and provides an experience that I just can’t get on iOS. Google Calendar and other Google products work seamlessly. The battery actually lasts this time.

Yet I still find myself missing my iPhone. The thing is, it doesn’t matter how many cool features and integrated components Google adds to the Android experience. Because Google doesn’t own the phone – even on their stock experiences such as the Galaxy Nexus – they can’t control the full experience of the user. On my Galaxy Nexus, which is supposed to be the stock Google experience, I find the camera to be sub-par. It takes about 5 extra steps just to make a phone call. The phone gets triggered on every time I put it in my pocket, occasionally pocket-dialing people.

Then there are the apps. Google doesn’t monitor their Google Play app store like Apple does with theirs. Google doesn’t provide stock controls like sliders, scroll buttons, etc. to developers like Apple does, so app experiences aren’t consistent. As a result, I’m finding apps to be much more buggy than their Apple counterparts. I find apps crash a lot more in Android than they do iOS. In some cases the apps are available for other Android phones, but not my Galaxy Nexus. On Apple, almost always, apps are always available for every Apple iOS device. Until Google controls both the hardware and app store experiences, they simply won’t be able to compete with the experience Apple provides.

I think that’s okay to Google though. Google will always have the masses, very similar to the approach Microsoft took in the Desktop market (until Microsoft figures out the mobile market and competes with Google). They will always be sub-par to Apple I’m afraid, unless they can solve the problems I mention above.

Do I love Android? I still do! It’s a beautiful OS. It does some things much better than iOS. For an overall experience that will save me the most time though, I’m still looking forward to my iPhone 5 shipping tomorrow, and I will likely use it as my primary phone moving forward. If this ever changes you can bet I’ll be the first to write about it and tell you right here. As a lover of technology, it’s great to see the competition! I just hope Google can take this as feedback.

What do you think?

Originally posted on Google+!