So Jaiku went down…

…for like 24hrs!

To my knowledge, the longest ‘unscheduled’ downtime to date.

So what happened? Well.. on the Jaiku ‘back-end’ side of things, two servers died – See pic ———>

And it was all hands on pumps until she got back up and running again.

On the user side of things the loyal, and some may say fanatical, Jaiku-ers de-camped themselves off to Twitter for the day. Much to the amusement of the Twitterati; here were all these Jaiku-folk trying to emulate their Jaiku conversations over the Twitterverse.

It was hard going – but we needed to go somewhere…! For those of you that don’t know there is a, shall we say, friendly rivalry that goes between Twitter and Jaiku, I’ve blogged before how the two can co-exist but, in this instance, that argument is irrelevant. Yes of course they can co-exist. It’s the users themselves that poke fun at one another…

This is of course, by definition, a bit of fun. There are benefits to both of these micro-blogging platforms, I have always been a Jaiku person at heart but recently have found myself more and more on Twitter contributing to farther reaching conversations as the audience/scope is so much larger. Again, there is no problem in this whatsoever. The problem lies in the Jaiku user base not really knowing what the owners (since being bought by Google) intend to do with it.

All of my thoughts on that I’ll save for another post – I sense a few more Jaiku-themed posts in the future you see… However, if you can’t wait for that then you could do lot worse than read this post by Jonathan Mulholland, fellow Jaiku evangelist and all round intelligent fellow.

Going back to the ‘de-camping’ as I refer to it.. This resulted in a lot things. Twitter’s ‘landscape’ changed for a short while and that in itself resulted in this post, (again – a bit of fun), by a dear friend of mine, Vero Pepperrell – aka thatcanadiangirl.

Vero is cool. I like her. She’s got her head screwed on…

However in her post (I’ll re-publish, save you clicking through) she says:

This evening, looking at the activity on Twitter, I was fascinated to see how quickly the usual Jaiku crowd had migrated. For those who haven’t noticed, Jaiku was showing a big fat 502 Bad Gateway error for a number of hours before it was replaced by the Jaiku birdie telling us that busted hard drives were to blame for the downtime.

Now, Twitter is notoriously flaky and known for going up and down more than a kid’s see-saw in a busy park in midsummer. Yet, everyone flocked over as the default alternative to Jaiku. If it wasn’t Twitter, it would have been something else. Pownce? Facebook? Seesmic?

In a magpie-like fashion, the web 2.0 crowd will look for the next shiny thing. I know. I’m one of them, and I sure as hell am guilty for chronically creating accounts on every new service, just to promptly ditch it and move on.

So what makes a service people come back to? A site that makes it past the 12-18 months best before date? Or are all new web 2.0?ish services destined to peak quickly then die just as fast? Lots more thoughts to add on this, but first, I’m interested to see what everyone else thinks.

As I said, head screwed on. Knows her stuff etc… But… I can only agree in part.

Yes, us early adopters are always looking out for the next new shiny thing to try. Of course we are. That’s what defines us as early adopters. And yet I cannot see the correlation between this and Jaiku’s downtime resulting in Twitter’s ‘uptime’.

The response I put to Vero was as follows:

Dude,

We’re not fickle. We’ve just become accustomed to having our own Micro-blogging service to hand. Fickle we are not. In deed of a quick messaging community we are. If Jaiku, the service of (my) choice, is down. Then of course to Twitter I will head.

Not magpie like, not in search of new shiny things just trying to find a replacement implement that will serve for now while the social tool I prefer is down and out of action.

If this was Jaiku, I’d just post this as a reply. THE FULL POST.

I can’t even reply to your tweet, so I’m forced to reply to this post. I can’t share this response nor can I fit it within 140 characters.

Jaiku is a comfy sofa where the odd spring has sprung. We’re only sitting on the bench of Twitter because we need somewhere to sit. When the sofa’s sorted, we’ll be out of your way.

Each to their own you see. It’s not about chasing shiny things, not when you have something you use every day.
If this was the case then none of us would be using Google… Heaven forbid that would ever go down.. But I’m pretty sure if it did we’d all bugger off to Yahoo pronto.

Anywhoo – my point is – Jaiku went down, so the userbase went to Twitter. Jaiku came up, the userbase went back.

I just wonder how many were left behind…

Balls to it! (a Whatley rant-a-thon) Part 4: The thing about Facebook

It’s a Social TOOL – not a SOCIAL NETWORK!

As I’ve previously stated, I’m a huge fan of Jyri Engelstrom, creator of not only Jaiku but also the dude to first come up with the theory of Social Objects. I could explain what they are – but Hugh MacLeod, he of Gaping Void fame (read his website – it will change your life) has already nailed it to the wall better than I ever could. So go.
Read. Read some more. And get yourself an education.

EDIT – someone else who gets it: Russell Beattie

So yeah – facebook is a social TOOL. People throw objectives like: “We need to make money out of these social networks…”

To the point actually where recently I was unfortunate enough to be invited along to the Telecommunications Executive Network evening (a ‘TEN’ event) which was subtitled:

“Social Networking: What’s Telcoms got to do with it?”

And it was all tally ho and where’s the money and ad-sales this and monetization that… but everyone just seemed to miss the effing point.

To the point where I raised it as a question:

“Good evening. James Whatley, SpinVox… There’s a school of thought that the money is not in fact in Social Networks but in fact Social Objects. Here we are in this room and I know maybeeee… one or two people here. They aren’t in my social network and I doubt very much that I am in theirs. But here we all are gathered here tonight around
this Social Object. The network builds itself around it. The money, therefore… is in the object. Not the network. If you build it they will come. Your comments please?”

Well – that went down a treat!
(especially as the last question of the evening!)

The following exchange:

The guy from Ogilvy: “Is that yours? I’m stealing it…”
Me: “Er no. Actually it’s Jyri Engelstrom’s. Co-founder of Jaiku…”
Ogilvy: “Ah.. see! Another Aggregation site!”

AN AGGREGATION SITE?! AAAAAAAAARGH!

That. Says. It. All.

*sigh*

Ahem – anywhoo – that was a lovely evening.. 🙂

I was clearly the youngest person in the room and yet I felt completely out of my depth.
And in this instance being OUT of my depth meant swimming around in the shallows…

But hey – let’s not bitch moan – it was a very good evening… and I was known at the canapés afterwards as ‘The Social Object Guy’ which was quite amusing…

But yeah – Social Objects. They are what form the foundations of Social Networks. Plant the seed of a network with a Social Gesture from your Social Object.

Again – as Hugh Macloed rightly points out – it ain’t Rocket Science.
I seem to have gone off on a tangent… Where were we? Oh yeah – things that are annoying me online…
Err… I’ve had my Mobile Web Rant elsewhere… and I’ve raged about facebook to the nth degree…
What else…

Hmm.

No. I think that’s it.

I’m done.
For now anyway…

Balls to it! (a Whatley rant-a-thon) Part 2: Facebook Events

WHY OH WHY can I not just hit ONE BUTTON and sync my events on Facebook with every other sodding calendar I have to keep?
See Plaxo/Yahoo/Google/iCal/And any bloody S60 calendar app I tend to be running on my N95 right now…

WHY?!

Talk about a blinkin’ walled garden. Apparently the walls are coming down. Well blow me if that’s not about time. I wrote a piece (that I never published here but hacked it to pieces, updated it and edited the mobile parts of it together here for smstextnews) wayback in September detailing what a pain in the ass backside this was/is.

The piece (entitled ‘Think of the Children’) talked (well – the unpublished parts did anyway) about Jaiku and Twitter and how they can happily ‘co-exist’ within the industry… Hang on – Let me go get the quote:

I’m sorry if this is out of context – but you’ll get the idea:

The walled garden appproach that these services offer mean that interoperability between the competition* (*my definition of competition is anything that competes for my spare time – my Nintendo DS is competition for the book that I’m currently reading for example) is impossible.
Imagine if you will Yahoo Mail refusing to send your emails to a Hotmail (sorry – Windows Live) account and/or a Gmail account.. Ridiculous huh? But this is what is happening currently with MySpace/facebook.

.

The Operators/Carriers of this world have finally come round to the idea that interoperability is the way forward. A quick glance at any website proves this as I would imagine you’d be hard pushed to find a tariff that doesn’t include Xnetwork minutes. Of course, this has not always been the case… but, eventually they (the operators) sat up and listened.
This is what the social networking sites of today should be working towards..

.

I’m a big fan of the micro-blogging service known as Jaiku. But more so am I a fan of one of the co-founders – Jyri Engelstrom.
He believes [or at least I think he does] in complete and open syncronosity across such services..
This is evident not just through recurring themes on his blog but also whenever he is asked the question:

.

‘Which is better; Twitter or Jaiku?’

.

You would think that, if pressed, he would of course say ‘Jaiku’. He would have to! Right? Wrong.
No. Jyri is an evangelist of co-existence… What do I mean?
Twitter works. Jaiku works. Why shouldn’t they work together?
Why insist that the user must choose one or the other and not both?

.

Taking this theme and expanding on it… – Why can’t I send a message from my facebook to my friend’s myspace?
If I tag a photo on flickr why aren’t my bebo friends notified?
One day, I hope, this will be the case… much like, as mentioned, how Xnetwork minutes are now ‘as standard’…

So yeah – interoperability (or lack thereof) really hacks me off..

But hey – while we’re still on the subject of facebook (ish)…

Cont in Part 3

My faith has been tested…

…in what?
In the level of customer service from Vodafone UK.

(bit of a rant this one – bear with me)

Now… You may have your own opinions on VF (and their services) but for me personally, over the past ten years; having used Orange, o2 and 3 (never went near T-Mobile), I can honestly say that the level of customer service I’ve received from their agents has been second to none.

Customer service is something I believe in. It is paramount to any company which has any kind of customer-facing aspect. This through personal opinion but also from spending a good few years in the CS industry myself…

So. As you know my N95 died recently. The screen was kaput. No matter how much I took it apart and put it back together again…

…it was, for want of a better term, knackered.

What now? Well… Now I call Vodafone Customer Services…

(before I carry on – you guys need to understand that in the past whenever I’ve had any problem my handset VF have ensured that I have a replacement by the next working day. Good? Damn goo)d.

Ok… Are you sitting comfortably?
Then I’ll begin…
____________________________

06:04 – Our hero awakes to discover the screen on his N95 is flickering…

06:15 – N95 screen goes dead

06:201st Call to VF CS

“Hi there…”

The Dude explains the problem…

“Not a problem Mr Whatley, you are a highly valued customer, call back after 8am to speak to the right dept and we will get a replacement handset out to you first thing tomorrow…”
“Perfect, thank you very very much. VF CS are the best.”

All good….

…or so we thought!

08:342nd Call to VF CS

“Hello there!”

The Dude recounts the previous conversation…

“I’m dreadully sorry sir but we do not have any N95s in stock. We can either send you an envelope for you to send the phone back in for repair or you can take into a VF store who will send it off for you..

(after much to-ing and fro-ing)

“…Err, No. Thank you. I’d much rather wait until you have some in stock. The repair process takes weeks. I need a phone asap..”

Our hero ponders his predicament some more… what if he calls again?

08:573rd Call to VF CS

“Good morning!”

El Duderino once again explains the situation he has found himself in…

“I’m sorry Mr Whatley, we are unable to offer you a replacement handset as the N95 is not covered by our exchange policy..


“Pardon?!”


“I’m sorry Mr Whatley, we are unable to offer you a replacement handset as the N95 is not covered by our exchange policy..


“That’s not good enough, that’s completely different to everything else I’ve been told so far and I do need a phone sooner rather than later.


“Sorry Sir, you were misinformed. Your nearest store is in Slough…”


“Well, I am deeply disappointed with the level of service I have received today. Good bye.”

Surely this cannot be the end for the Dude of Whatley?! Surely he must be united with his phone soon?!

09:244th Call to VF CS

“Hello there, would you be able to put me through to your store in Slough please?”

“Of course Mr Whatley, just looking that up for you now. While I’m looking Sir, is there anything else I can assist you with today?”

“Ah yes, now that you mention it… How would I go about escalating a customer complaint? I’m slightly perturbed about the level of customer service I’ve received from you.. well.. not from You personally, but from the previous agents I’ve spoken with..”


“Well.. er.. yes. Of course sir, I am very sorry to hear that.. would you mind telling me the problem? I’ll make a note and make sure it gets passed to the relevant managers…

…the Dude does so, with gusto… ending with..

“…and of course I understand that none of this is your fault. I’m not screaming and shouting and I’m not a nasty customer. I’m just a nice man, who is a true evangelist of Vodafone, and ultimately VF’s CS, who needs a phone for his personal and professional life.”

“Well I’ll make sure that gets passed on Sir.. and if you hold the line for a second.. I’ll just speak to my manager…”

Holdeth the Dude.

“…Hello there Mr Whatley, we can get a replacement N95 out to you tomorrow.. is that ok with you Sir?”

_______________________________

Now. I MUST point out that CS agents Numbers 1 & 4 were both friendly and really helpful. The 4th one actually could not do enough for me… The 3rd one was my least favourite; she had made her mind up and was not about to try and help any more. Whereas the 2nd one just didn’t really know her stuff… Not her fault, just poor training/consistency.

THIS is the thing that annoys me the most. Yes all the CS staff have the same (if not then extremely similar) training and Yes there are rules and regulations that they must follow…
BUT I cannot help thinking that no matter what – when you get through – you are at the mercy of that particular agent…
i.e.: If that agent has had a shitty day, there’s a reasonably high chance that they’re not going to help you as much as they could.

I mentioned earlier that I have a history in the CS industry… the one thing that I learned from that was that if you scream and if you shout you will very rarely get what you want.
Be polite. State the facts. Do not blame the person who happens to have answered the call. It’s (probably) not their fault…
Which is exactly what I did come call 4. And, because of this, Call 4 delivered what I actually wanted from Call 1.
Another question I have to ask: “How many VF customers would’ve given up after Call 2?”

*shrug*

Anywhoo – as much as this demonstrates the holes that are within the VF CS staff it also demonstrates that you should persevere in the face of adversity! You are the customer and your money is valuable to the network operator.
As soon as they start taking your money for granted then you lose…

J.

PS – Incidentally – again, restoring my faith in VF – I posted the conversation part of this post on a mobile forum that I contribute to – within 24hrs a VF CS agent had logged into the forum and requested that I email the details into him so that it could be investigated further…. Even though the problem, as far as I was concerned, had been solved.

THAT demonstrates a keenness that I admire and as I said – has helped to restore my faith in the VF’s CS.
(which is the one thing that I shout about the most whenever I recommend a network to my friends)