Daily Archives:February 26th, 2006


The thing that annoys me most about sitting on the phone in a call-centre queue is the underlying assumption. Companies who do this are saying, in essence, “You are our source of revenue. We rely on you. But we consider your time to be less important than that of our lowliest operatives”.

Anyway, that’s why I was grateful to John for the link to this NYT article about gethuman, “a consumer movement created to change the face of customer service”. They have tips on how to bypass the IVR systems and get to real people.

Companies are slowly waking up to the downsides of annoying their customers. My own bank, LloydsTSB, recently made the news by ditching the scripts that their employees used to follow. I always found their phone support to be good, but it’s even better now.

I hope this could also have a beneficial side-effect: the greater the variety of queries that the operators have to deal with, the better trained they’ll need to be and the more interesting their jobs will become. Well, we can hope…

The Patent Cold War revisited

In November I wrote a little piece entitled The Patent Cold War, outlining my frustrations with the patent system and a couple of thoughts on how it might be improved.

I stand by everything I said there, but it’s a pity that I hadn’t seen Kenneth Cukier’s excellent survey for the Economist, “A Market For Ideas“, published a month beforehand.

I was lucky enough to sit next to Kenn at a dinner recently and he listened with great grace to my outpourings without even hinting that most of them were a small subset of what he had worked on only a few months before.

This is a very interesting, well-researched and well-balanced 14-page survey, and comes highly recommended for anybody with an interest in this area.

It’s too bad that the Economist makes it so hard to get hold of a copy if you’re not a subscriber. I almost never pay for premium online content, but I would recommend doing so for this. It doesn’t look as if there’s any way to buy a copy of one survey without signing up for a subscription, though, so if you don’t subscribe I’d find a friend who does and ask them to order reprints.

Ah, and as a follow-up, have a look at John’s Observer column about the Blackberry proceedings.

Blackberry and TomTom

Yesterday I updated my Blackberry 7100t to v 4.1 of the OS. I also updated the OS on my TomTom Go 500. One, or other, or the combination, means that I can now use the TomTom as a hands-free kit for the Blackberry, something which wasn’t possible before. This posting will probably be of very little interest to anybody not Googling for ‘TomTom Blackberry’!

The Blackberry update is not generally available yet, but one provider, Hong Kong CSL, had a version for the 71xx series. You can find links here. Note the bit about deleting vendor.xml . There are few obvious benefits on the surface, but quite a few under the skin. One thing I haven’t yet managed, though, is to use the BB as a modem for my Mac 🙁

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser