Friday, July 2, 2010

Relax guy!

A few days ago Boy Genius Report released a series of E-mails allegedly detailing a conversation between someone name "Tom" and the one and only Steve Jobs, an odd and sordid exchange that left an uneasy image in most people's minds when it came to Mr Jobs' tact with customers, My own mental image looked something like this:

In my mind he is also Canadian.

Now Apple's PR group have begun releasing statements that the E-mails are nothing more than a fabrication. Who do we believe? The biggest shadow of doubt is cast by Jobs recent actions of replying to customers, with some of his responses being posted on Tumblr.

My own thoughts on this? I am paranoid and distrustful by nature, so I envision this grand PR scheme involving Apple employees sending out E-mails (using Jobs' account) to customers in order to build better public relations.

Realistically, and more importantly, to the point? A disgruntled Apple customer attempting to embarrass the company, or maybe Jobs was having a bad day.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Google News reinvents itself

Concerned user beware! Investigating Google's newest gimmick might put you square into a virtual "No Man's Land" as disgruntled users barrage comment sections and support pages with everything they have, and you might find yourself joining them.

Many users woke up, made their cup-o-joe, and prepared to face a new day by visiting Google News in hopes of getting something interesting to talk about around the water cooler only to find themselves staring at a Jenga-like stack of news items.

Welcome to the new and impro- (ok, maybe just new for the moment) Google News!

Many users were directed to an informational video explaining the new features, which users quickly replied to with comments such as:
This myopic change is shamelessly ORWELLIAN... "Tell us which kinds of stories interest you." That's why you had Google News Alerts and a personalized homepage! This is a sneaky form of CENSORSHIP! Would the average reader selected an interest in oil dispersants or BP before the disaster? I think not. We won't know what we don't know or we're missing with this new "design". And what's with the silly "happy reading" at the end? Most news is not happy, it's tragic.
Whoa! that's a bit harsh isn't it? Surely this change isn't as bad as to cause an uproar, this response is probably the exception rather than the norm.

Google would certainly like to think so, however their help page tells another story. Not content with replying to the Youtube video posted by an account named "GoogleNews" (which gives the impression of being as talkative as a lamp post) users stormed the gates to post their feedback directly in Google's turf with:
This new layout is so poorly constructed!!! I've been going to Google News everday for years, but if this layout stays I will go elsewhere. I understand the desire to make changes and improve a product, but this is a huge step in the wrong direction. After 5 minutes using it I felt like my time was being completely wasted. Please change back to the old layout! -pippinyk
I'm in such a quandary. You've now screwed up the best newsreader around, and I am not going to Bing on general principle, though I went there for the first time ever, tonight, and don't like it over there, either. Please Fred (-ED: The bearer of bad news), if you have any influence in the matter, please convince someone in your org to add a Revert button. Let people who like this, keep it. I'm all for personal choice. But keep your very loyal user base by allowing us to go back to the way we've so enjoyed Google News for years.

Don't pull a "New Coke" on us. It's the quick way to find out what the elasticity of your product is. -lerudd

last but not least:
I just wanted to chime in and say thanks for making an unreadable mess! I was just thinking the other day "it's too easy to browse news at a glance. I sure wish somebody would introduce some web 2.0 fluff and make it less intuitive". It's like Google read my mind or something. You guys sure those camera vans can't do that too? -1010011010
Their main discussion titled "Google News is experimenting with new features. Please let us know what you think!" has alone received over 500 responses of pure, unabashed hatred. with less than a handful expressing support for Google's newest public experiment. What has the giant to say to the disgruntled masses? Not much sadly.

Various Google employee's have scattered responses in every discussion, among them:
Hi All,

There's obviously a lot of feedback here, and it would be hard to address it all in one post. But to touch on a couple of your concerns --

1) We do not have any plans at this time to revert to a two-column layout. While the one-column layout may seem to require more scrolling at the outset, the hope is that News can become increasingly tailored to your interests and preferences so that you don't need to scroll nearly so much. In other words, we'd like to offer you one great news stream with a higher concentration of the stories you're looking for, rather than two columns that force you to hunt through the entire page.


Hope this helps,
Fred S.
Accompanied by:
If you’re a long-time Google News user, then please realize that it hasn’t changed much in 8 years. The redesign has been live for less than 24 hours, so please give it a try and we will still be here in a few days to receive your feedback and answer your questions about the various changes. Thanks for voicing your concerns! -NorahG
My personal favorite:
Hi folks,

First of all, we're proud to have created a product that inspires such passionate responses from our users! We appreciate all this feedback, and rest assured that we're going to be studying it as we make improvements to this new version of Google News. We also understand the frustration you're giving voice to, and we take that seriously. As we evaluate your feedback, and look at how users engage with the new version, we encourage you to check out our Help Center article (linked below) - it gives some more insight into the new features and why we're so excited about them. -Abe
Long story short (according to Google):
  1. Google News isn't changing back.
  2. They addressed excessive scrolling by implementing the need to use more scrolling.
  3. Users are having a temper tantrum which is expected to subside in a week.
  4. Google feels pride at poking users with a sharp stick.
  5. When in doubt, read more propaganda
You can see which side I'm on.

In the end its best to remember that Google can change their layouts any way they wish, whether we like it or not, all we can do is voice our opinions and hope for the best.

What can you do if you are unhappy with the changes? One user suggested changing the edition to "Canada English" and re-adding all of of the U.S. sections one by one, but even then it's only as matter of time before Google's talons reach north and snuff Canada's version as well.

I hear Bing has some features worth checking out.