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Hospitalized Stossel Bemoans Sorry State of Healthcare Customer Service
April 22, 2016
Fox News journalist John Stossel, who recently underwent an operation for lung cancer, on Wednesday wrote that although New York-Presbyterian Hospital's medical care is excellent, "the hospital's customer service stinks." Doctors "keep me waiting for hours, and no one bothers to call or email to say 'I'm running late,'" Stossel said. He doubted all the tests he was given were needed.
Volkswagen Agrees to Fix or Buy Back Dirty Diesel Cars
April 22, 2016
Volkswagen has reached an agreement to repair or replace about 500,000 diesel cars in the U.S., according to court documents released Thursday. The cars were equipped with software designed to deceive emissions tests. Under the agreement, announced Thursday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Volkswagen will pay back an undetermined amount of money to owners of the affected vehicles.
EFF Sues DoJ Over Secret Data Decryption Requests
April 22, 2016
The EFF has filed suit against the Justice Department seeking to learn whether the federal government secretly ordered technology companies to decrypt the private communications of their customers. Such orders could place millions of customers in harm's way, the complaint says. The suit seeks the release of records originally requested last fall under the Freedom of Information Act.
Gadget Ogling: A 360-Degree Cam, a Leveled-Up Kindle, and a Space-Saving Home Gym
April 21, 2016
Facebook has unveiled its latest push into hardware -- an open source 360-degree camera. Bearing 17 cameras and Web-based software to render footage in 360-degrees, Facebook Surround 360 is more of a design than a commercial product. It would cost around $30,000 to build one as is, Facebook said. The idea is to allow creators to iterate on the design to create their own cameras.
Apple to Lawmakers: We'll Help but No Backdoors
April 21, 2016
Apple's top legal official on Tuesday appeared before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee and reiterated the company's willingness to help law enforcement on active cases and cooperate on long-term solutions, despite its contentious legal battle with the FBI over the encrypted iPhone used in the San Bernardino terrorist attack. Apple works daily with law enforcement on a number of cases.
Apple Snags Hotshot Engineer, Former Tesla VP, for Project Titan
April 20, 2016
Apple has hired Chris Porritt, Tesla Motors' former vice president of vehicle engineering, to work on special projects, according to news reports published Tuesday. Porritt, who left Tesla last year, is expected to take charge of Apple's electric car initiative, Project Titan. He reportedly was given the purposefully vague title of "special projects group PD administrator."
Zuora Moves to the Center
April 20, 2016
Zuora, the company that made its bones in subscription billing and payments, held its annual Subscribed user meeting last week and staked out some new turf. It always has been focused on the back office, but its latest messaging included elements of the front office. Perhaps it's no surprise given CEO Tien Tzuo's history as an early luminary at Salesforce, rising to the CMO position.
EU Levels Antitrust Charges Against Abusive Android
April 20, 2016
The European Commission has charged that Google breached EU antitrust rules by seeking to maintain and expand the dominance of its Android operating system. "A competitive mobile Internet sector is increasingly important for consumers and businesses in Europe," said the EC's antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager. "We believe that Google's behavior denies consumers a wider choice of mobile apps."
SCOTUS Turns Its Back on Google Books Challenge
April 19, 2016
The Supreme Court has declined to hear a petition to review a lower court decision allowing Google to scan and publish excerpts of copyright-protected books without seeking permission from the authors or paying them. The petition, filed at the end of last year, was the latest move in the Guild's decade-long war with Google, which has said that its searchable digital books database is fair use.
What the Traditional Car Companies Don't Seem to Get
April 18, 2016
Two interesting events took place this month. Tesla announced its Model 3, a relatively affordable electric car, and it attracted around 180K preorders on the same day. That was before the company actually revealed the car. There were more than 250K preorders in the first 36 hours. Oh, and the run rate is about 1,500 per hour of pre-orders for this car right now.
Verizon Strikers Highlight Lost Jobs, Broken Promises
April 15, 2016
An army of 39,000 workers this week went on strike against Verizon in one of the biggest labor actions in the U.S. in several years. Fast food workers have joined in a show of support, and both Democratic candidates for president have entered the fray. Thousands of wireline workers from Massachusetts to Virginia walked off the job at 6 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Microsoft Sues DoJ Over Spying Gag Orders
April 15, 2016
Microsoft on Thursday filed suit against the U.S. Department of Justice challenging the gag orders that accompany requests to access customers' private emails and other data. The orders prevent the company from notifying affected customers about the government's demands. The case is the fourth public lawsuit it has filed against the Justice Department in three years.
Publishers vs. Brave Software: Battle for the Ad Viewer
April 14, 2016
Brave Software is a startup that has ratcheted the ad-blocking game to a new level, and it is raising a lot of stink in the online community. For many people, Web-based ads have become an intolerable, costly distraction. That has led to a variety of ad-blocking approaches. The use of ad-blocking software is growing, because users feel they are being attacked by distracting Web-based ads.
Gadget Ogling: Smarter Notes, Livelier Virtual Reality, and Bigger In-Flight Movies
April 14, 2016
We've for some time had Moleskine's Smart Notebooks, which allow you to jot down your thoughts and upload them to Evernote through an app. The new Smart Writing Set takes that idea and elevates it to a new plane, letting you quickly turn scrawled notes or doodles into digital files you can edit using a computer or any mobile app -- no smartphone camera required.
Fake Loyalty
April 13, 2016
There's an interesting connection between customer relationships in subscription businesses and loyalty, Zuora CEO Tien Tzuo wrote recently. His article had particular resonance for me, since I just wrote a book about customer loyalty myself. My research is full of old-style approaches to customer loyalty that aren't really about loyalty so much as they are about, shall we say, customer coercion.
Male Snubbing Ride-Sharing Service Postpones Launch
April 13, 2016
Chariot for Women, a ride-sharing service that excludes males 13 and older, reportedly has postponed its launch to sometime this summer due to heavier-than-anticipated demand. The company originally had planned to debut the service in Boston next week. Chariot for Women is open to all women, including transgender women. Children, including boys under the age of 13, also may ride.
Officials Named in Panama Papers Cower Behind China's Great Firewall
April 13, 2016
Chinese authorities have issued censorship instructions to the media following the release of the Panama Papers, according to news reports published last week. The leaked documents reportedly listed several top Chinese officials who used Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca to set up offshore companies. The names include President Xi Jinping's brother-in-law Deng Jiagui.
Marketers Poised to Run the Customer Experience Show, Survey Says
April 12, 2016
Marketing will shape the customer experience by 2020, based on a recent Marketo study of nearly 500 chief marketing officers and senior marketing executives worldwide. The Economist Intelligence Unit conducted the research on behalf of Marketo. Eighty-percent of the respondents believed their departments would exercise significant influence over business strategy by 2020.
Daily Mail Joins Yahoo Bidding Queue
April 11, 2016
The parent company of British tabloid the Daily Mail apparently has entered what's shaping up as frenzied round robin bidding war for Yahoo, a firm that long has worn the mantle of a technology relic incapable of exciting interest. The Daily Mail & General Trust on Monday confirmed a report that it has approached private equity companies on a possible joint bid for the firm.
Ford After Dark: Self-Driving Car 'Sees' All
April 11, 2016
Ford on Monday announced that it has been testing its Fusion Hybrid autonomous research vehicle with no headlights on remote desert roads at night. While such a task would be quite perilous for a human driver, it was an important step in developing a fully autonomous vehicle, the company said. The test vehicle relied on LiDAR technology for navigation.
Learning to Love Virtual Reality
April 11, 2016
At Nvidia's technology conference, I saw a variety of new technologies showcased. From deep learning systems -- computers that arguably are smarter than we are -- to self-driving cars that can drive better than we can, the technological advances on display made me feel just a tad inadequate. One way to get over my sudden concern over obsolescence was to check out the virtual reality showcase.
Verizon May Be Tuning Up for Yodeling Contest
April 9, 2016
Verizon reportedly is planning to make a formal first-round bid for the core assets of Yahoo when the company begins fielding offers on Monday. Verizon, whose CEO last month confirmed his company's interest, is working with executives of its AOL subsidiary and three financial advisors to put together a bid by the April 11 deadline, according to the report.
Disrupting Software Development in an On-Demand World
April 8, 2016
The idea that software is eating the world has become a generally accepted dictum. Everywhere you look, industries and institutions are being disrupted by the unprecedented power of software. Now, the world is demanding a new way to develop software to keep pace with the pace of disruption. The greatest poster child for the brave new world of software-driven business is General Electric.
Report Throws the Book at Yahoo
April 8, 2016
Yahoo is in the midst of a financial freefall, based on a report that claims the company's deal book shows a muddled and confusing financial picture that has made potential investors nervous about any effort to salvage the business. Yahoo's internal presentation for investors paints a picture of a company moving entirely in the wrong direction, according to the report.
Please Hold the Music
April 6, 2016
Remember when your mother used to yell up the stairs to get you to turn your music down? Sometimes, in the age before sensitivity awareness, your dad would do the yelling and he'd substitute noise for music. Ah, the good old days. Too bad they aren't here right now yelling at vendors. ConsumerAffairs.com is the brainchild of James R. Hood, a former Washington, D.C., journalist.
Gadget Ogling: Food Frenzies and Rollerblade Off-Roading
April 6, 2016
Of all the kitchen gadgets I own, the rice cooker is possibly my second-most favorite after the tea kettle. Sure, I could make rice in a pot, but the dedicated rice cooker makes it much easier to attend to other details instead of watching the pot. Xiaomi's pressurized version might prove even better. It recognizes the type of rice from a barcode scan and cooks it perfectly.
The Sales Process Starts With Retention
April 5, 2016
Despite the numbers that show how lucrative retention is in an increasingly subscription-driven economy, the emphasis has been on new customer acquisition. That is still true, according to a recent study. Forty-two percent of the firms surveyed said they were increasing their budgets for customer acquisition, while only 33 percent said the budget for retention would increase.
4-Inch iPhone: Slow and Steady May Win the Race
April 5, 2016
Apple appears to have experienced a lost weekend with the 4-inch iPhone SE failing to rack up significant sales. When the period ended, the SE claimed only 0.1 percent of the iPhone market, Localytics reported Monday. "The new phone was unable to take away the iPhone 5's share, the model it most closely resembled, suggesting that small-screen lovers have not yet been convinced to upgrade."
FBI May Help Local Law Enforcement Agencies Crack Encrypted iPhones
April 4, 2016
Weeks after backing down from its litigation demanding Apple's help to access encrypted data on the San Bernardino terrorist's iPhone, the FBI appears to be taking full advantage of its newly discovered forensic prowess by offering assistance to law enforcement agencies across the country. The agency has sent out letters letting local officials know that it has gained access to the encrypted data.
The Hololens Academy: How I Became a Novice Wizard
April 4, 2016
At last week's Microsoft Build conference, I attended the Hololens Academy -- a whirlwind effort to turn me into a master programmer able to create things out of thin air. It failed. Apparently it takes longer than an hour to teach someone who hasn't coded in decades to be a master programmer -- go figure. However, by the end of the class I was gleefully throwing fireballs.
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Google just announced Home, a voice-activated speaker similar to Amazon's Echo. What do you think of these devices?
I have an Echo and I love it.
I have an Echo but rarely use it.
I plan to buy an Echo or Home.
Google's Home will be much better than Echo.
They're expensive novelties.
They're intrusive and creepy.