Category Archives: Unusability

The Un-local Nokia

I’ve been pretty easy on my favorite former employer lately, even to the point of gushing over Nokia World 2011 and pouring out pure fanboy praise over a fantastic phone that will only see limited release.  But I don’t think I’d be performing my duty as a recently-renewed Developer Champion if I didn’t provide some much-needed critical feedback.  Lovingly, of course.

Nokia’s physical withdrawal from certain locales is not a new subject for me, but it’s reached a point where I’m more concerned than ever.  Of course most of my focus is on the United States, and more specifically, my home near Dallas, Texas.  In just a few years Nokia as a brand has become a complete non-factor here and just about the entire country.  I’m keenly observant of devices used by others and, outside of a small circle of open source enthusiasts, I’m seeing everything but Nokia phones in the hands of the general public.

None of that is news to most people.  And Nokia has made it very clear that it expects its fairly new Windows Phone strategy, coupled with impeccable and compelling industrial design, to get its high-end products back into regions (like the US) where product sales margins matter.

The continued problem as I see it, though, is that Nokia seems to expect that they can concentrate all efforts on a few key cities.  Its shrinking supply chain system has led to greater consolidation of localization activities at sites far removed from the end customers.  Now, for core needs this consolidation need not be an issue; a phone engine is a phone engine is a phone engine.  But as many companies are becoming increasingly aware, last-mile localization is an absolute must for finished goods.

This translates to customer Care activities as well.  Contract employees at remote call centers just cannot identify with many of the diverse clientele they are called upon to support.  It’s not just language barriers; cultural differences can be a real hindrance (not to mention cybersecurity risks).  But more than that, trade customers (i.e., AT&T, Telcel, Orange, et al) will not tolerate delays in problem resolution.  They will require local presence in key markets.  Continue reading

Why I am Every Qt Expert’s Worst Nightmare

As I’ve noted before, I have been interested in Qt development for some time and finally got to where I could allocate the hours to learning.  I missed out on local Qt training a while back so I’m dependent on documentation along with patient people online.

The latter have been a huge help.  I’ve encountered some weird and frustrating situations from which many friends have rescued me.  The former, however, have been severely lacking.  But let me share the pain with you progressively.

I decided to create an application for the Nokia N9.  The app will make use of GPS and cellular services mainly, and shouldn’t be very complicated.  I chose Qt Quick because I wanted to see how mature QML really is at this point.  Plus I’m allergic to C++.  Continue reading

The Cells of Smart Power

When I last wrote about “smart power”, I was taking US business and especially political leaders to task for failing to craft comprehensive, forward-looking energy policy.  They seem to be more concerned with drilling for today’s dwindling oil than planning for tomorrow’s growing needs.  Meanwhile, citizens feel powerless to do much about it.

Part of the problem is one of scale.  Our energy dilemma is big and not easily solved.  There’s a great deal of economic inertia keeping us stuck in hydrocarbons.  As I said before, I believe it’s largely the role of government to help “unstick” us– to provide incentives, tax or whatever, in facilitating a transition from a polluting power paradigm to one more responsible and sustainable.

But that doesn’t mean the citizenry should sit back and wait for their tax dollars to be put to proper use.  There are moves we can make at local levels to get change underway… and set the stage for more expansive solutions.  Continue reading

Smart Grids and Stupid Policies

Rolling power blackouts, a common resort in northeastern US states when extreme weather takes hold, are now steamrolling into an overheated Texas (although not yet as widespread as initially feared).  Unfortunately, the outages are largely indiscriminate thanks to an outdated, dumb electrical grid.  This puts people and produce at risk.

Tonight we lost power for a few hours and felt the impact immediately.  Our 30-year-old air conditioner was already struggling to overcome 111 degree Fahrenheit heat– without it or fans going, our little house quickly turned into a big oven.  As I walked around in the dark lighting candles and contemplating my car’s lovely air cooling ability, my mind went back in time…  Continue reading

The Nokia Phoenix

I wrote in May of last year asking, only partially rhetorically, if this would be a make-or-break year for consumer electronics giant Nokia.  And like many other pundits, I’ve offered my previous employer sound survival advice on more than one occasion [1][2][3] .  Based on recent financial reports, nobody listened.

All facetiousness aside, here around the halfway point of this year it makes sense to look at the company’s situation again and see if any of Nokia’s remaining strengths can lift it up and turn it around.   Continue reading

Saving versus Hoarding: Where is the Line?

This article is going to seem a little odd amongst my usual tech-flavored blather, but based on some recent internet flame-baiting from otherwise-respectable sources I feel compelled to clear the air.

As anyone with a television these days is probably aware, “reality” shows continue to be a popular form of entertainment for the couch-bound.    I put reality in quotes because the bulk of these shows take some extreme behavior or situation and present it as some sort of norm.  The example I’m taking aim at today is Extreme Couponing, a show on The Learning Channel (TLC) that highlights people working to shave costs off of their household purchasing budgets.

Now, saving money is a Good Thing.  I doubt few would argue against that on matter of principle.  The arguments arise over the means and methods.   Continue reading

Confessions of an APPathetic User

I’m going to confess something that’s likely to cost me Twitter followers, kill future career prospects and launch a mild Comment war:

I’m not much of an app user.

And I can’t understand those who are, either.  Well, I can align with the casual user.  The few utilitarians out there.  Those discriminating sorts who reserve their precious device storage space for more valuable content.  Like songs, photos and LOLcats.   Continue reading