I absolutely adore Spotify, but…

spotify music… I really, really wish they offered a better app experience.

I pay for Spotify’s best service. Nine bucks a month gives me everything I want from an online music service.

The quality… is awesome.

The catalog… is great.

But… that nine bucks a month really misses the mark with the iPad – and other ‘mobile’ or streaming options for that matter. I am complaining more than anything, that Spotify should have an iPad app by now. Quite frankly, it is crap that they do not. Also, Spotify should be available for multimedia outlets like Apple TV, Roku, Boxee, and the rest of the list. Rdio & Moog.

The app itself for Windows or OSX is junk. JUNK. It’s a ‘Songbird’ wanna be, and it’s horrible. It’s not fully featured, at all.

While I’m not happy about the lack of an app or multimedia availability, I’ll end by going back to the title of this post… I absolutely love Spotify. If you haven’t made the plunge, do so… iPad app or not. You’re really missing out on something great.

McDonald’s Twitter Advertising Campaign – Epic #McFail

McDonalds Twitter Campaign

What’s that old saying, “if at first you don’t succeed”…

Try as they did, McDonald’s latest Twitter campaign turned out to be another epic disaster. Unfortunately for the fast food giant, this most recent ad campaign – similar to ones before this one – was hijacked by sarcastic internet users who ended up morphing the feel-good, Promoted Tweets into a McDonald’s slam-session.

Last week, Mickey D’s used two hashtags in Twitter’s “Promoted Tweets”. The first, #MeetTheFarmers, worked well as it flew under the radar and introduced Twitter users to various farmers who grow some of the ingredients found in McDonald’s burgers. The idea was off to a good start… but that’s about as good as it got.

McDonald’s then got the bright idea to move on to the second hashtag, #McDStories. Now before I proceed, just take another look at the hashtag and tell me the first thing that pops into your head. Is it… going to McDonald’s as a kid and having chicken McNuggets with sweet and sour sauce while you enjoy the company of your family? Or… if you’re like many other people in the world today, are you immediately trying to think of a great food-joke? A sample of the more popular answer can be found below…

McDonalds Promoted Tweets

The question then becomes, who in the hell is in charge of McDonald’s social media that didn’t see this coming? The answer… a man named Rick Wion, McDonald’s social media director.

When asked about this latest debacle, Mr. Wion explained that he and his team carefully chose the words that went into both of these hashtags carefully.

Are you sure about that, Rick?

One of the biggest questions I ask myself when doing social media marketing for clients is “What are potential scenarios for this becoming a disaster?”. If I have a hard time coming up with answers, or the few I can come up with are relatively tame, then it’s most likely safe to proceed.

But to totally miss this #McDStories hashtag? One would have to have at least some degree of brainlessness.

Look, I get it… working with social media isn’t the easiest thing. That’s why companies pay people good money to do it. There’s a lot that goes into a successful campaign and there’s plenty of risk when opening yourself up to the internet. It’s far better to think of everything for a campaign before it’s launched rather than having to scramble afterwards.

What ended up being the result of this campaign for McDonald’s? The hashtag was pulled within hours – but not before the story went viral. The #McDStories hashtag still lives on, providing tons of material for those who love sarcasm, laughter, or a combination of the two – and McDonald’s is back at the social media drawing board.

A Quick Review of Twitter’s Version of TweetDeck: Not Good

Twitter's Tweetdeck

Like countless others in the social media universe, I’ve been using Twitter for years. When I first started using Twitter, my primary goal was to find the best client out there that fit the best with my needs. For me, I found that client to be TweetDeck. I have used it for years and have recommended it to plenty of people. Then… Twitter bought-out TweetDeck, and that is when the dark times began.

In late 2011, Twitter rolled out its new version of TweetDeck for Mac and PC – which came on the same day that Twitter released a new Web UI and a new app for iOS. One good thing about the new Tweetdeck is that it is native (meaning it’s a regular app like Skype or any other software you download to your computer). Until late 2011, TweetDeck was an Adobe Air application, which was buggy at times to say the least. So, yeah, that’s about all the good I can come up with.

When starting up the new TweetDeck, differences from the old app became immediately noticeable. The interface was different, customization abilities went missing and options had disappeared. The app had immediately fallen below the satisfaction level of the original – and now, shockingly, its competitors. There is nothing more frustrating as a technology user than when a developer takes a great piece of software and royally screws it up for no reason.

Welcome to TweetDeck.

In addition to my gripes above, there is much more that’s not to love about the new TweetDeck. Old school Retweets are gone, as the automatically generated “RT” and the person’s name before their tweet has disappeared. You would think that a company like Twitter would realize why certain apps were successes, right? Not the case. Instead, they’ve taken away a classic feature to the dismay of thousands and thousands of users.

Moving on to more bad changes, we get to the lack of screen real estate. I am not a “Twitter hog” by any means, as I only usually use about three to four columns, but there are those out there who use many more. Twitter, via the new TweetDeck, has now made it a nuisance for these people. There is now a max of four columns on your screen with the fifth column displaying a huge arrow to scroll right and see the rest of your columns. Yes… an arrow. Really?

Another thing that made the old TweetDeck so cool was its ease of use. Not many clicks and boom, you got what you wanted. This changed as well. As previously mentioned, just to RT someone has now become a multi-click process. And how about easily adding or removing tweeps from lists? Forget about it.

For those social media “crossovers”, the lack of Facebook, Foursquare, and LinkedIn support in the new TweetDeck is a major issue. Personally, for the most part, I’m very selective about posting to multiple platforms (as I have a future piece that talks about this a little more) – but you get my frustration.

As for where things stand now, I used the new TweetDeck for a few minutes and then went right back to the old version. I’m holding off as long as I can until I’m forced to move on, as I really did love old school TweetDeck. The constant reminder on my screen to upgrade and download TweetDeck (and subsequently ruin my current, older version) is starting to get tiresome. I am now looking at apps like Hootsuite for where I can call my new Twitter home and I’m sure I’ll have to move on sometime in 2012. Way to go, Twitter….

Welcome to 2012

Greetings to all!

We hope your new year has started off great and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for the rest of 2012. We’re excited to be working on some informative pieces and blog posts that we will be sharing over the coming weeks and months. We’re close to publishing a great piece on a certain social media platform, so look for that soon. The entire piece will be included it in our site’s Resources section for easy access.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

SOPA – A Bad Direction For The Internet

Anti-SOPA-Internet-PrivacyLook, SOPA is the first step of the US government interfering with the internet as we know it. To start, just think of China and their infamous restrictions with the net. SOPA would give the government the right to redirect you, the web user, elsewhere when you’d type in a URL if they find/feel that website is infringing (currently) on copyrighted material (AKA their first attempt at stopping piracy).

Let’s be blunt here…this is how it happens.This is how the government starts banning their nation’s beloved things. You start with what is seemingly a good idea, though misguided, and then incorporate it – and then slowly restrict further until it’s a different idea all together.

Do I really have to give examples of the government removing our freedoms throughout history? Yeah, that came across a little cliche. Sorry.

I’m not anti-government, but in order to stop piracy this implementation is 100% wrong. They are using this as a first step to controlling the net.

We won’t ever be like China, cause we are the land of awesome – but this isn’t sitting well with me. Here’s the list, by the way…

All of the Companies That Support SOPA, the Awful Internet Censorship Law

Crap… my “conspiracy-theory-mind” is kicking in again. Again, I’m not anti-government… really!

Oh yeah, hey, look at that… the NHL isn’t on there. You’re damn right they aren’t.

And why not? Because the internet is the best way to promote the sport!

Any sport… any medium… anything, for that matter.

And hey, look at that, TV broadcasters that have a stake in the mainstream sports (NFL, MLB), support this lie. Interesting.

Seriously, read up on SOPA and do not support it. It’s wrong, and it’s the first step in the government regulating the net.

This ends my public service rant for the day :)

AT&T and T-Mobile Call It Quits (A Customer’s Take)

AT&T - T-Mobile mergerStarting back in 2005-’06 when I switched from Sprint to Cingular (which AT&T bought shortly after), I became an advocate of AT&T. I had great service with them, plain and simple. I defended them repeatedly to ‘hatahs when the iPhone came out in 2007. One of the biggest things people hated about the iPhone when it was first announced was it was on AT&T… and a “slow” 2G AT&T at that. To them I said, “I’ve been using ATT’s EDGE service for a year or more, with no noticeable complaints.” It was after all… a cell phone, (not a computer).

I had four bars with AT&T. This with my Blackberrys, (two different makes/models) and my iPhones, (two different makes/models). This had consistently been the case for years. Then, AT&T announced that it needed to get back into the market with creating LTE services that competed with the rest of the market, (Verizon in particular). They said in order to do this, their only option would be to buy a competitor with existing LTE services… like T-Mobile. I was overjoyed to hear this. As great as AT&T was for me, I did recognize their map could be better, and having T-Mobile’s towers would only help this. AT&T stated repeatedly that they needed to buy T-Mobile so they could compete better with its competitors – and they also said their own network was struggling to keep up with demand of the higher mobile usage.

Then all of a sudden, as if the tower not too far from my house blew up or was turned off, I went from four bars to one. Then all of a sudden even with five bars in certain locations, my web browsing was slow and dropping calls became a norm. The service became almost unusable, despite what my connection was. It was horrible.

All of this, mind you, shortly after AT&T stated that they needed to upgrade their “struggling” network. I personally had never experienced a “struggling” network, and found this all too convenient of timing. Conspiracy theory on my part? Perhaps… but everything lined up quite strangely.

I started seeing this T-Mobile acquisition as this ploy to buy out their competition. As much as I wanted my network and cell usage back, I was always skeptical of this “merger”. Then, something amazing happened. Back in February, a document was leaked back which supported that to build up their struggling network themselves, it would “only” take four billion dollars, not the 40 billion they were buying T-Mobile with.

With the conspiracy theory gaining momentum, I got wise. As soon as my contract was up, I switched over to Verizon immediately following the Apple iPhone 4S announcement.

As a simple closing… frak you AT&T… may you one day get destroyed.

Bitter? Maybe. But what was once a great product ended up steering me to their arch rival. Not good business.

My Broken iPhone Experience at the Apple Store

Apple iPhone from VerizonLast week, I reviewed the new Apple iPhone 4S. As luck would have it, I ended up having some issues with my new device.

I’ll start off by saying this: I now understand why Apple’s customer service is marked with very high customer satisfaction. I now understand why Verizon’s is too.

Between the two companies, I’m left with no frustration, at all – with regards to getting my broken iPhone 4S fixed. Aside from the initial pissyness of having a broken iPhone 4S after 48 hours, to get it fixed couldn’t have been easier or more pleasurable for the situation. Both Apple’s customer support via phone and their “Genius Bar” people in person, had my answer and solution literally within minutes. It went something like this…

Arriving at my ‘appointment’ set up by Apple’s customer service promptly at 11am at the Montgomery Mall (Bethesda MD), I was greeted by an Apple Retail Store with standing room only space. I haven’t see an Apple Store this busy since Christmas last year. It was very tight, but without the normal accompanying ‘BO’ odor most tightly-fitted Apple Stores carry. It was tolerable. That is to say, since I would not be attacked by my nostrils of that many people’s BO, I could tolerate the sardine can. Moving on…

One thing Apple got right is it’s Genius Bar setup. Though it feel awkward to not have a designated area for ‘returns’ and whatnot – pending you remind yourself you can go to any ‘blue’ shirted employee and get serviced is cool. There is no waiting, (for the most part). I made eye contact with some dude that was walking away from a customer, explained why I was there, and he walked me over to another dude, and I “checked in”. Being ushered again to an area of the store that wasn’t as busy as the floor, I waited briefly for a dude to help me.

He asked me if I was Mr. Hahn, I said “Yep”. He asked what the problem was, and I pulled my phone out of my pocket and gave it to him and asked him to try and turn the volume up. Two seconds later his reply was, “I can give you a new phone if you want”. I said “Thank you”.

And here’s where things went from tolerable to practicing patience. We went to a corner of the store, actually behind their genius counter, (since literally every place is full with a sardine), and he started to do the setup and re-activation of the new phone, (transferring my account, etc.). The Verizon side of the house was slow and did not work as it should have. He engaged Verizon support, and was on the phone with them, before having to leave me with another Apple associate, who wasn’t the brightest bulb in the set. Basically after he was on the phone with Verizon and they started asking questions about me, he handed me the phone and I was in charge for the rest of my stint. 60+ minutes later of doing the same exact thing over and over again, and eventually being handed over to another V support person, things magically started to work.

Here’s why I didn’t lose my patience and go all crazy on anyone… they were super nice. Everyone. Every Apple associate that passed, and all three of the Verizon people. We never got disconnected once, (using an iPhone on Verizon mind you), and I was behind the Genius counter away from the dead canned-fish. It wasn’t ‘bad’, or enough to invoke the green beast that lies in my blood stream. The Apple Store along with Verizon really operated like a well oiled machine, IMO. They literally seemed like they were in it for me, in the same trench as me. This is not any return experience from a Best Buy, etc. By taking me behind the Genius counter, removing me from the sardines, (which I was the only one they did that too in the hour and a half I was there), I dunno, it made me feel taken care of. I mean, within seconds of looking at my phone he asked if I wanted another 400 dollar phone. That was cool.

Now here’s the bad, that I didn’t like…

My “400 dollar phone” shouldn’t have broken after 48 hours. Piss #1. Despite being pleased overall with everything, I didn’t like the 2nd dude that was helping me out from the Apple Store. He was very grabby and couldn’t stand still for long. He had to touch my new phone, my old phone, and or the Mac Book Air we were using to activate the new phone. I wanted to call his meth dealer and complain.

Piss #2, I didn’t like all the old people at the genius counter – they simply got on my nerves. I was pleasantly reminded of how lucky I am to work for my current employer, doing what I do in IT. These old people, though nice and all, was stupid. It’s an iPhone and you had people buy the iPhone and immediately ask for help on learning how to use it. We’re not talking about great grandmas here, we’re talking about people who’s kids were either married, or new grandparents. I asked myself, REALLY? The iPhone/iOS is that hard to figure out? One endearing and annoying moment was one grandma that was shown how to change the ringer – she laughed hysterically at one sound in particular. You’d think that you’d be swelled with warm honey at such a moment, but I dunno, I found it… annoying.

The Verizon setup wasn’t flawless… at all. Once I left the store I couldn’t make or receive phone calls. This after 60+ minutes made me want to practice some Zen. Deep cleansing breaths later, I kept walking to my car, knowing that if I turned around and went back to the Apple Store, they wouldn’t be able to help me. I figured I stood a better chance of going back home and dealing with it myself. So, I got back to my car, and used my iPad to see if I could receive calls, (thank you Skype!). I could, and curiously afterwards I was able to make calls. Fixed? I hope the hell so.

I hate Bethesda, Maryland and I wasn’t even in Bethesda. I hate Bethesda people in general. They’re mean. As I was waiting to be serviced early on, as I was standing in front of the software section. The dude acknowledged my existence, but that was it. It was just pure arrogance. Scene: “Oh I’m sorry, let me move out of the way”. . Really? Hyper sensitive? Maybe, but it was just rude.

Anyway, here’s some weird factoids…

Though you can’t just walk into an Apple store and get an iPhone, they had stock on hand to help me. Apparently they have units on standby, NOT in the retail package, but just the phone itself, in a well protected black box. This is where my phone came from, I noticed a few others too. I just think it’s funny that if you came in off the street, and or, attempted to reserve one at 9:01pm for pick-up the next day, you couldn’t do it, due to limited stock. But they had, seemingly, a bunch of these ‘oh crap’ units on standby. I don’t know if this is a good thing or not? The iPhone 4S isn’t crap is it? Better frakkin’ not be… or so help me…

By doing this, exchanging my phone, I voided my 30 days of canceling my Verizon contract. Unlike AT&T, I had 30 days to cancel my 2 year contract. Well, because of ‘their’ broken phone, ‘I the consumer’ forfeit my 30 day Verizon out-clause. I didn’t like that, but it’s not like I’m leaving them anytime soon. Still though, it’s not Verizon’s fault or mine – it was in 48 hours of the original activation, But because of Apple’s phone… meh. I wonder if it’s like that for all of Verizon phones? If was was skeptical of Verizon, I’d be pissed about this. Since I’m not, I don’t care. Just thought I’d mention that.

In summary…

- It sucks my $400 phone broke in 48 hours.
- However, Apple and Verizon took great care of me.

It wasn’t all perfect, but it was certainly not bad either.

~A

iPhone 4S Review – My Initial Thoughts

iPhone 4s ReviewHello Vegau Blog readers,

First off, a very brief introduction.  My name is Aaron Hahn, and I’m an IT Security Specialist for a Fortune 500 company, specializing in mobile devices and UNIX platforms. I’m excited to be writing for Vegau, so let’s get to the good stuff already!

For my first post, I’d like to share some of my personal opinions regarding Apple’s latest phone, the 4S. Call this my “Apple 4S Review”, if you will. I’ll approach a few areas with the mindset of an Apple “Fanboi”, but I assure you most of the topics will be non-biased.

Disclaimer: I feel Android devices are truly one of the biggest technological scams to ever penetrate your pockets and your pocket books. Technically speaking, you are required and encouraged to ‘root’ your phone to get the most out of your couple hundred dollar purchase. “Rooting” a device, any device opens you up to threats you’ll never see coming. Since we use a phone differently than a computer, these threats are on a much deeper level, and you can have your identity threatened. Think I’m lying? Want to argue? Bring it, I’ll win. Security analysts all say the same thing – owning an Android device is like owning Windows 98, security-wise. On the bright side, Android has really made a great effort to ‘fix’ this flaw in their ecosystem with their latest OS upgrades, that is pending your device can upgrade to this OS.

Therefore, a lot of my bias stems from this hatred of Google’s Android platform. While Android isn’t ‘hell’ in your pocket waiting to kill your life, it has the capability to do so.

Apple is playing catch up to Android’s hardware and some software features, and they did a great job in the process. Continuing with the comparison of the two platforms, Android phones are like every single car on the road, there’s a lot of different flavors. A lot of them suck while touting ‘this feature’ or ‘that feature’, but usage wise, it’s a car, whoop. Apple’s iPhone 4S is like owning a high-end car like a Mercedes or pick your other perfect cars. They’re expensive but boy do they do exactly what they’re made to do very very well.

iPhone 4S is catching up and surpassing (for now) a lot of Android phone hardware. But like every single phone out there, it’s still not ‘perfect’. Everybody pitched a fit when they iPhone 4S was released in the same exact casing as the year before’s model. But trust me, the inside guts of this phone are completely different. It is a completely different phone. In fact, putting things into perspective, if Apple put the iPhone 4S into a different case with a bigger screen, everybody would be clamoring over themselves to get one.

I love the iPhone 4 casing… love it. Coming from a 2009 3GS model, I’ve never had the Retina Display before, and unlike 99% of Android phones that don’t have a Retina Display, I love looking at my phone. EVERYTHING is crystal clear in a way that I, a tech geek for a decade and some now, can’t believe my eyes. The screen is brilliant and perfect. Old news though, this tech has been around since 2010, but I’m just making sure you understand how perfect the screen of the iPhone 4S is.

That said, the new hardware is fast – it completely blows away my iPhone 3GS. Blows it out of the water and makes it completely obsolete. Then again so did 2009′s 3GS at the time. This is the problem with computers in general and the iPhone 4S is no different. It’s amazing now, a couple of new OS’ and it’ll be average. But for now it’s fast. Surfing the web is ‘almost’ the same as surfing the web on my computer, referring to the load time and rendering of a web page. A simple webpage like Google loads instantly, literally. A page like Apple.com loads really, really fast. The thing that bugs me is this though… the hardware is crazy similar to my 2008 iMac which loads webpages perfectly – so why can’t the iPhone 4S? I believe it’s the software and its limitations.

The camera… wow. Ok, the video camera, wow. The video camera is worth the upgrade alone. My opinion. The whole camera stabilization is awesome. Taking a family video is almost like watching a video that was captured on a tripod or something, there’s hardly any camera shake. Amazing. There is no other ‘phone’ out there that can do this. The camera quality is great. However, since my wife is a professional photographer, a crappy picture on a great camera is still a crappy picture. Don’t get me wrong, it takes arguably the best pictures of ANY phone – but a bad picture is still a bad picture. Outside with perfect natural light, this camera is going to blow your mind. Inside at night time, with a flash… it’s just a snapshot, with flash, taken inside a house. Yawn. You just took a really bad big picture – you’re a winner. Perfect lighting conditions though, the iPhone 4S’ camera is amazing and worth the upgrade.

Siri… Siri is awesome when she does her job. Siri is a pain in the ass when she doesn’t. Since there is just no other competition at the moment to Siri I can’t make a comparison otherwise. The times that Siri does her job it blows me away. When she acts like a typical computer, she gets on my nerves. But… everything you’ve seen on the commercials is 100% spot on. She is a digital assitant and makes using a phone completely new. Like 2007′s revolution of ‘multi-touch’ in the hands of a consumer, Siri I believe is 2011′s revolution. It’s an amazing step forward with computing in general, and now that I have her, I can’t live without her. The dictation of the iPhone (which uses Siri as its base) is, I’d say, 90% accurate. It’s simply not as perfect as I’d like it to be. A great example, I don’t have to type in web addresses. Yay.

I asked her: “I need a place to hide a dead body”, and her reply was something along the line of: “Ok, around you is a dump, a reservoir, woods, and a lake. Where would you like to go?”. Really? REALLY? I asked her what was she wearing, her response: “Why does everyone keep asking me this”. C’mon. Ask her what is my day today, and there’s my calendar. What is my like tomorrow, and there’s tomorrow’s calendar. Ask her to remind to leave my house at 6pm, and bang, at 6pm my alarm goes off. She read my last email with no issues, and she read my last text message with no issues. It a new age of computing. I can’t wait for this way of interfacing with a computer to grow and get perfect. Talking to my computer is the way to go. Yet another Star Trek feature coming to life.

The only issues I’ve had with Siri – and it’s not entirely her fault but Apple’s – is when I restored my iPhone backup from my 3GS onto the phone… all Siri settings turned off. I had to re-enable them. Also ALL of my contacts, personal and corporate (M$ Exchange), the phone numbers lost their “-” (dashes); therefore, Siri couldn’t make a phone call for me. I had to turn off my contacts and resync them. This fixed things, but for M$ Exchange contacts, I had to go back into Exchange and review each number, and sure enough the dashes were missing in Outlook. I’m now in the process of adding them back. I never noticed this with my 3GS as being a problem but I guess it is now? I guess your phone is only as good as its data it’s pulling from it’s resources.

Being on Verizon… wow, I have a cell phone for the first time. With my iPhone on AT&T I was always scared of dropping a call, or not hearing the person on the other end, or the person on the other end not hearing me… well, all of these problems are gone now. It is actually amazing. Since I’ve never had (so far) a trouble-free cell phone before, this is new. Like an abused person, I’m still adjusting to my new cell life. I keep thinking in the background I’m going to drop the call. Nope. But yet the paranoia still exists. I had one call issue: the person on the other line could hear me, but I couldn’t hear them well. Being in the basement of my house I get three or four bars, and no issues with using it.

My final thoughts? Is it worth upgrading? Is it one of the best phones on the market? Did I make the right decision with sticking with black?

It is worth the upgrade pending you can get the subsidized price. The camera, the screen, the speed, and Siri, all make it worth your money. This holds 100% true if you’ve never owned an iPhone or are upgrading from the 3GS.

I think the iPhone is the best all around phone on the market. I have a lot of technical reasons to back this up, (of course I would). The only response people have with Android is all the same, “but I can do whatever I want with my phone”. Ok… but do you really need to? Caaaaause the iPhone can do everything you need to do with being a computer in your pocket, and it’s 100% safe pending you don’t ‘root’ it. Sooooo, what’s your point? Oh, no, please, tell me, what is your point? ; )

~A

We’re Live!

It’s early morning here on Tuesday, 11-22-11, and we’ve just “flipped the switch” to turn our website live. We’re so excited to get our internet presence started, and we hope that you’ll join us for the journey to come. As we progress with our soft launch through the rest of 2011, we invite your feedback – whether it be questions, comments or suggestions. Thank you for checking us out and we look forward to seeing more of you!