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Barrett Time!

Allright. A Happy New Year to all! The Holidays are now behind us and I hope we all got a little of the tech we had been waiting for.

We’re also back into the normal line-up of User Group Meetings, starting with this Saturday’s general meeting of the Linux SIG at Hal-PC. Things get started at two in the afternoon and wrap up by four. The HAL-PC Headquarters is located at 4543 Post Oak Place Drive less than a mile East of of San Felipe and 610. Presentations are targeted at both newbies and gray beards alike, so if you’ve been looking to sharpen you Linux chops, this is the meeting for you. www.hal-pc.org for details and directions.

Now, just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean that my own personal wants and desires are still on Winter break. Case in point: Google’s Nexus One. I wants it. Actually, the line between want and need is a little blurred. What is for certain is this: Google is the only retailer for the Nexus One and T-Mobile is the currently the only wireless carrier for the Nexus One.

So where does this put me? I’m an existing T-Mobile customer. Score. And I’m close enough to the end of my current contract to qualify for the $300 discount on the phone. Another score. To get the phone, you just have to surf to google.com/phone and enter your current T-Mobile phone number along with the last four digits of your Social Security Number. Score for many, but a fail for those of us with business accounts with T-Mobile. Those accounts are tied to your company’s Tax ID number, not your personal Social Security Number. And while you *can* purchase a new line of service to order the phone, it can only be a personal account, once again locking out users who would rather not foot their own cell bill.

Some advice to Google: If you want to make some inroads into the business market for mobile devices, you’re going to have to sell at least a couple of phones to business users. I dunno… I may be way off base on that one…

Sorry for the rant. I don’t deal with obsolescence well.

There is a positive side to all of this… I spent a lot of time being transferred around T-Mobile. One of the numbers that everyone was very quick to hand out was not to the Google slash Nexus One support number, but to a home leasing agency. I checked again a few hours ago, and the line had been changed to an Out of Service Message. I was also transferred to the new Nexus One handset support department a couple of times. They were very excited to finally have a call, but they could really only help me if I already had the set in hand. I was also transferred out to some rather odd departments that didn’t really have a tie-in to the Nexus One at all. Something akin to Groovehouse screening a caller who has a problem with their graphics card while playing a racing game, then transferring the Caller to Car Talk. Now for the positive part: I had ample time while on hold to think about how our own Technology Bytes call center matches up to that of a multi-national giant’s call center, say, T-Mobile, for instance.

Lets take a look at some basic call center stats to see how we measure up.

ASA or Average Speed to Answer

T-Mobile: 2 rings
Us: A lot

OK, T-Mobile comes out ahead.

Misdirected calls (Calls transferred to the wrong department)

Groovehouse: How many people have you transferred to Car Talk tonight? … None?
T-Mobile: Fail based on personal experience.

Point: Technology Bytes.

Average Hold Time Until Final Agent (How long you’re on hold until you get to talk to the right person…)

T-Mobile: Arguably, I never got to talk to the right person, if the right person was the one who could get me a phone.
Technology Bytes: What’s our longest hold time right now?

OK – Point us.

Professionalism and Courtesy

T-Mobile: Very professional and courteous. They thanked me at every jucture and never gave me the impression that they
had lost patience with me.

Technology Bytes: I know that Groove is gentle with our callers. Peter and phliKtid are OK. Dwight: yep. Me: I’m good, and…

So a begrudging point to T-Mobile.

Problem Resolution

T-Mobile: Zero.

Technology Bytes: Even if it’s not the answer you want to hear, we do generally troubleshoot things as far as we can in one sitting.

Point us.

So, the final tally: 3 to 2, Technology Bytes.

Congratulations, guys… We’ve defeated Goliath with nothing more than a fierce dedication to this show and some fairly shady math.

You can come out and congratulate us in person at the January Geek Gathering, happening this Friday, December 8th, at the Coffee Groundz in Midtown Houston at 2503 Bagby. If you’ve never been before, that address can be slightly deceptive. The corner of Brazos and McGowan is the place you want to be. Street Parking is ample, just don’t do it on McGowan. The January Geek Gathering is notable for all the new gear and gadgetry that is brought in to ooh and ah over. This is the one time you don’t have to make up an excuse as to why you brought something incredibly geeky to a public place. Comic books, blinking lights, laptops and robots will all have a home this Friday night. Hit the Geek Radio site for details and directions.

If you had wanted any Arduino or other physical computing gear during the holidays but didn’t get it, tomorrow morning is your chance to rectify all of that. In the spirit of Chris Anderson’s Book, “Free”, Sparkfun.com will be giving away one hundred dollars in gear to the first one thousand households to place an order in an attempt to bring the world of physical computing to those who can’t quite afford it on their own. Sparkfun has been giving away its schematics and designs for quite some time in line with the Open Hardware movement, but this is the first time something tangible other than a CD has been given away in the spirit of Openness.

The Aptly name “Free Day” takes place tomorrow at nine AM mountain time. Surf to www.sparkfun.com to get in on the goodness. One caveat: this is intended for those who would like to get into physical computing but may not have the means. So please don’t exploit it or try to cheat the system. Remember that cheating, among other things, kills kittens.

That’s it for the rant with a silver lining and that’s that for BarretTime.

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