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Archive for the ‘Fail’ Category

Google+ Rolling Out Custom URLs To Users But Doing It Horribly

November 7, 2013 70 comments

Google Plus Logo

A few weeks back it was announced that Google+ was finally going to allow regular users to adopt Vanity URLs for their profiles and rid themselves of URLs like https://plus.google.com/105175761337711150993/posts (yes, that’s my real Google+ URL). Sounds great, right? Finally the common folk would be given on Google+ what most other modern social networks had from the outset, the ability to pick our own screen names and have a URL to link to which isn’t ridiculously unwieldy and next to impossible to remember.

All sounded fantastic until you went to the Google+ Help page and read their “Getting Started with Google+ Custom URLs” file. The second one reads:

“You’ll see the URL(s) you’ve been approved for. If you see more than one option, select the one you like best. You may also be asked to add a few numbers or letters to make the custom URL unique to you.”

So wait, I have to use the one Google approves for me? I can’t be Google.com/+TheDanLevy which is  my screenname on darn near every other social network I use? OK, well maybe they’ll lighten up some day and I’ll be able to change it, right? NOPE! Check out the sixth rule in the red box below

Google Plus Vanity URL Rules

“Once approved, this URL will be linked to your Google+ page or Profile, so be sure everything is exactly the way you want it. Once your URL has been approved, you can’t request to change it.”

I was feeling a bit pessimistic when I read that but friends who are way bigger Google+ users assured me, “You can request a different one if you have a valid reason” and “There is flexibility… You just have to request it…” so I decided to see what Google did when they finally got around to offering me a custom URL. Well, today that finally happened!

Google Plus Vanity URL  Notification

The notification appeared at the top of my Google+ profile page and I clicked the blue button excitedly. That excitement quickly turned to disappointment when I saw what Google was offering me as my Custom URL. Read more…

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SkillPages Email Spamming: A Warning, a Story, an Apology, & a P.S.A.

March 21, 2013 23 comments

SkillPages Home Page edit with spam notification

First, an apology to all of my contacts who I inadvertently spammed. I got taken in by SkillPages a service that is gaining users by spamming contacts of new members as soon as they sign up to the site.

I guess this is going to happen to the best of us sooner or later and it happened to me today. Even though I am generally super, duper cautious about what apps and sites I allow to access my data today I slipped up and the results were…horrible.  I received the below email this afternoon and thought to myself “Cool! A new site for connecting from a business perspective. Being the social media addict that I am I’ve got to check it out. As well, I know Jamie and he is a good guy who I trust not to send me spam. I am going to have to check this site out.”

SkillPages Spam Invite in Gmail

What I should have done was google the site. If I had, I would have seen these autocompletes*:

SkillPages Google Autocomplete

The above does not look like the kind of site I want to be associated with or allow to have my information without a lot more research. The third result is VIRUS for crying out loud! That is not promising but it gets worse.. Below is a screenshot of the Google search results for just the word “SkillPages”*: Read more…

Brands: ‘Tis NOT Better To Have Loved & Lost, Than Never To Have Loved At All (Online)

January 16, 2012 Leave a comment

20012.01.16 Tweet about Co Engage & Disengage

In his poem ‘In Memoriam A.H.H.’ 19th Century English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote:

‘Tis better to have loved and lost

Than never to have loved at all.

But this post is going to dispute that when it comes to corporate communications on Twitter. Well, OK, not really out and out dispute it because I wasn’t in love with the brand I am referring to in the tweet about (which you can find here) but I felt a little bit of poetry would class up the post.

What I was referring to in the tweet above is a brand who engaged with myself and a friend when we started talking about an article I read in LifeHacker. I thought this was one of the most brilliant things I had read that day and planned to give it a try when my friend told me about a product that does just this and she uses it all the time. I tweeted at the brand who makes the product in question – which as far as we knew was not available in Canada – and asked if it was available in Canada and the replied fairly quickly and told us that, yes, it was available in Canada.

To say we were happy is an understatement. I quickly went out to try and find this item at one of the chains mentioned and came up empty. I checked the chain’s online web catalog and came up empty. Each time I made a step following the advice of that brand I tweeted back at them what I was doing and the results. They never answered. It has been the better part of two weeks and still, they haven’t answered. In that time they have tweeted 15 times, the last time being on January 14th and not one time did they respond. (The first time when they did reply and tell us some info it took them about 12 hours.)

It would be one thing if they had never replied in the first place to our tweets, I would be totally fine with that because not every company and brand monitors all aspects of their social media presence, preferring to register their name and just leave it. This is the reality of the world we live in and no harm no foul if that’s the case. It would also be, sort of OK if they only came on once a month to respond to queries and hadn’t been online since the day they told me and my friend their product was available at Chain X and weren’t present to see my response. But they have been available, they have been present, they have been not only tweeting but interacting with other Twitter users and ignoring me is just bad for business. Doing this makes me feel as if I were talking to the Volcano Insurance Salesman that Peter dealt with in an episode of Family Guy from a long while back (best quality I can find.)

Do you think pretending not to be there while answering and interacting with other people is really going to have a positive response? It won’t. You’re just pissing potential customers off and ruining any relationship you may have had with them.

I have waited a while (more than 10 days) to write this blog post because I wanted to give the brand a chance to redeem themselves. They haven’t.

Better to not be doing it all than to be doing it wrong.

Laughably Bad & Confusing TTC Signage In Sheppard-Yonge Station

November 24, 2011 6 comments

TTC Sheppard Yonge Station: You may have been to this station before, you may not have been but chances are decent that if you live in Toronto you’ve ridden on one of the subway lines which attach to it – the Yonge-University-Spadina (YUS) Line and the less used Sheppard Line.

As you can see in the picture above when you are walking throguh the subway station you are advised by a directional sign what the escalators and stairs in front of you lead to. The folks who wrote this TTC signage decided to indicate to travelers that at the bottom of these steps can be found “Yonge Trains and Sheppard Subway.” Wait, what? What’s the difference between the two subway lines aside from the obvious answer that they service different areas of the city and one’s a north-south line while the other is an east-west?

Why is the Yonge Line referred to as having ‘trains’ and the Sheppard Line as being a ‘subway’? Is the idea to confuse commuters, people new to the city, and tourists? If so, they’re probably doing a superb job! Seems that in the City of Toronto our public transit does not only have subway lines, streetcars, buses, and the Scarborough RT cars but we also have a fifth option – trains! But hold on a second…don’t GO, VIA Rail, and the like run the trains? Aren’t trains intercity not intracity? Why the confusing descriptors TTC? Why?

The YUS and Sheppard Lines both run the same subway trains in the T1 so there is no difference there. (although the YUS Line also has the Toronto Rocket as well as the older H5s running on it, the latter of which are slated to be sold to Eko Rail of Lagos, Nigeria in the coming years.) In fact, the only difference I can think of between the two lines is that the Sheppard Line remains underground for its entire length whereas the YUS Line comes above ground for a fair portion of its route. Does that make it a train and not a subway? I have never heard or seen of it referred to as anything but a subway and this sign just seems so weird. I wonder why the TTC has chosen to compose the sign this way. It just seems odd and silly to do so as well as unnecessarily confusing.

Until I hear otherwise I am classifying this as an epic FAIL on the part of the TTC signage team. There’s bad signage which is what it is because it’s illegible or badly placed or not lit up or simply not present and then there’s this. This goes beyond being bad signage to the point of being confusing signage which works against the smooth flow of urban passenger traffic on mass transit.

If anyone knows the answer for this, I would love to hear it. I assume – or rather I hope – there must be a rational explanation for this. Then again, it is the TTC.

Toronto’s New Area Codes 437 & 387

July 27, 2011 2 comments

Image cropped from original image found at http://www.cnac.ca/images/AreaCodeMap_highres.png

Well Torontonians, as I am sure most of you have already heard we are getting a new area code in under 2 years for our city, 12 years after we got 647 overlaid in 2001. Yet, the problem with the confusion between what is long distance and what is a local call within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) still exists as I discussed in my post of April 2010, “New 365 Area Code Overlay For 905/289 in Southern Ontario Coming 2013”.

When the new 365 area code is introduced on March 25, 2013 in the area which already has 905 and 289 there will also be a simultaneous introduction of a new area code for Toronto – 437. While that is great and I am all for all of us getting tons of new numbers as we buy more and more technology I can’t help but feel the same two things as I felt in April of 2010:

  • The idea that we aren’t sure what is a long distance call from the GTA to within the 905/289/365 area code is absolutely insane. Why can’t they just separate the long distance areas of the 905 area code from the non-long distance area of the 905 area code and assign one of them the 365 area code. That will free up numbers within 905/289 and make everyone’s life so much easier.
  • I can’t stand the fact that we are still being charged long distance for calls within our own country and even within the same province. I think it discourages economic growth and keeps us separate and regional as a nation. It is straight up BAD and it must be changed so Canada isn’t continued to be perceived as backwards in the international forum. (I cannot back any of this up as I have no studies to prove it, it is just my personal feeling and logical conclusion based on my own experience with how differently people react to foreign area codes in Canada vs in the USA.)

As an aside, there are already plans in place for when the new 437 area code runs out in Toronto – they are going to give us a 4th area code: 387. Personally, I think somewhere in Canada (maybe BC, but Toronto works too) needs to get area code 420 for obvious reasons. Also, did you know the international country code +420 is linked to the Czech Republic and not to The Netherlands…what’s up with that?

What do you think? Do you agree that we should be doing something with the 905/289/365 area code and working to separate it in a way that makes sense for people within the GTA vs people outside of it? Do you like Toronto’s new area code? Will 647 now become an OK area code to have and people with them will no longer be looked down upon?

Sidenote: This is my 250th post to this blog and 206th post in the Post A Day Challenge.

Google+ Fail Pet Discovered!

July 25, 2011 4 comments

The other day I was on the new Google social tool called Google+ (the way that is read is “Google Plus”) and I found myself given a 404 Error page. I don’t know if this is across Google or just for Google+ but it seems I have discovered another Fail Pet (or as I call them, Fail Cutie) to my list which I first started here and continued here.

Any ideas what we should name this robot? There were some suggestions on Twitter but I am still open to suggestion. Let me know in the comments!

Newspaper: Please Don’t Cover Up Racism

June 26, 2011 4 comments

This is a picture of a few little blurbs from a local Toronto newspaper talking about celebrity sightings and doings. No, I will not mention which. If you read the middle blurb you will see them talking about what Mel Gibson is up to these days.

The blurb mentions that Mel Gibson’s career was destroyed but unless they’re being sarcastic and I miss the joke they blame it on “chronic alcohol poisoning.”

Wha????

How about blaming his career’s destruction on “letting his true, disgusting racist colors show when he gets drunk.” Or does alcohol poisoning/getting drunk make everyone into a racist douche? Or does the author of this piece just want to rewrite history so Mel doesn’t look so bad?

Again, maybe the reference to chronic alcohol poisoning is a joke that I just missed because I am not so into keeping up with the doings of celebrities.

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