Archive for the ‘Upgrades’ Category

Service of Upgrades I Like

Monday, May 20th, 2024

As I’ve so often written and said, I cringe when I see or hear the word upgrade because it usually means an unnecessarily complicated procedure that once was simple, for zero gain.

However, I’m thrilled by some changes that really do improve my life. Here are just some—many not new to me and certainly old news to most everyone else but that I’d nevertheless like to recognize:

  • A handheld, cordless water flosser. I don’t have room for the paraphernalia required of the original Waterpik.
  • Mini bagels. They may have been around for decades. I try not to eat too many of any size, and I can’t claim to be a bagel aficionado. But when I see the diminutive ones, I buy a few. They freeze well. With vegetable cream cheese, [Fairway sells one that is supposedly low fat, photo, right] and lightly toasted, the combo is indescribably scrumptious.
  • Phone in my camera. I use it for all the usual reasons as well as to photograph items by certain manufacturers, making it easy for store associates to check out the photo and point me in the right direction. It’s also great for communicating glitches and warnings on my laptop to my IT guru.
  • Air fryer. I’m very late to the game with this device but I love it now that I have it. I especially like to cook chicken legs and potato sticks. If I had more room, I’d buy a bigger one.
  • Binge watching episodes of a favorite series on PBS Passport and Netflix. Been doing it for years and appreciate the technology.

What improvements, changes or upgrades that are worth it can you list?

Service of Assuming: Upgrades that Benefit the Vendor

Monday, January 11th, 2021

I’ve written before about upgrades that aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be and more often than not, are of little if any benefit to the consumer.

The evening before my apartment building was to replace washers and dryers we received a notice. The dedicated plastic credit cards that start the machines were to be replaced by new ones along with a fancier digital gadget to activate them. The old cards would no longer work and after the installation there would be no way to read the old cards to see what money remained. [We are usually given at least a week’s notice if the water will be turned off of elevators repaired. This last minute notice is unusual.]

“Let the company know how much is left on your card,” the instructions stated, and there would be two ways to be reimbursed: mail the old card to the company along with the amount or transfer the money to the new one via a series of steps on the new digital gadget in the laundry room. [A tenant who’d figured out the latter step saved me time by doing it for me. Grateful, I paid for a load of her laundry. For this to happen, however, the tenant had to first notify the washing machine company with the amount on the old card.]

Armed with a new card with money on it I asked “what happens if the Internet connection is down when I need to refill the card?” I might need to take a night course at MIT or drag my laundry back upstairs and wait until it is restored to proceed.

My guess is that many tenants have no idea how much was left on their old cards–nice for the washing machine company as ours is a big building.

More important, the instructions encouraged tenants to download an app on their smart phones to use the machines in future. This presumes that every tenant owns a smartphone and that they want to download another app, creating one more potential leak for hackers to play “suck my money.”

Turns out that for now at least you can use the card to work a machine.

I wrote at least based the model of the future of MetroCards used to pay carfare on NYC subways: the cards have a short life. In two years we will only enter the system by digital pay via a smartphone.

Take a look at the locations in Manhattan that are scheduled to dole out Covid-19 vaccines. [I trust the list will grow in time.] All require appointments, some made by telephone; others online. What if a citizen has no access to the Internet?

Do tenants who chose the app option need to leave their phones with a housekeeper or guest who want to do a laundry so they have the indicia to flash at and start the machines?

Should businesses and organizations assume that all potential customers are up to speed technologically?  Is the savings so great that losing a few customers because they’re not doesn’t matter? Have you gone head to head with technology?

Service of Upgrades that Are and Aren’t

Monday, October 29th, 2018

Shiny Apple

Some upgrades are amazing. Apple gave my iPhone 6 a new lease on life with a recent upgrade that allows it to act pretty much like one of its pricey new phones. I read that this was the latest marketing strategy for the company that formerly encouraged customers to upgrade frequently.

Even so, hearing the word “upgrade” these days sends shivers my way and, in my experience, for good reason.

No Service Self Service

Have you tried the new USPS self service mailing machines? They don’t work. I don’t mean they are complicated—they literally don’t function and the old ones worked like a charm.

I tried to use several at the Grand Central post office on different days and at a satellite office with no employees. The former wouldn’t respond to light or heavy finger touches by me and countless others who ended up behind me on line for a clerk; the scale didn’t work in the latter which was problematic because I had a package to mail.

Exploding Devices

Last week almost 3,000 new body cam devices were pulled from use by the NYC police department. Why? One exploded.

Out of Order Train App & Info Man

The Metro-North app. “TrainTime” has issues. I couldn’t link from the TrainTime app to the specifics about substitute busses for trains I usually take so I stopped in at Grand Central Station’s customer service desk. The link was dead last Friday. The attendant explained that Metro-North needs to upgrade the app. He also misinformed me about the bus situation. Fortunately, another staffer set him—and me—straight. His excuse: “I just got to the desk.”

Not My Car

General Motors emailed to tell me that my 2016 Chevrolet has a soft tire and to bring the car in for service. I knew this had to do with the 2016 we turned in for a 2018 earlier this year because that car always had tire issues. So I informed the dealership, from which we’ve bought and leased cars for 20 years, that GM needs to update its records. When we first dealt with the dealership our salesman took care of everything and there was never a hiccup. Since then it has upgraded with specialists in various areas of the business. This is the second such glitch we’ve encountered since we leased the 2018 model so the specialists aren’t clicking our info in all the right places.

Does the word “upgrade” excite you or make you anxious? Was it always thus? Have you encountered either super or dismal results from a recent upgrade?

Service of Upgrades

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

There’s little doubt what people mean when they refer to downgrades. I have trouble with the word and concept of upgrade which like “green,” “natural” and “organic” is subject to interpretation.

I love upgrades to business class, but some remind me of haut food. Kevin McKenzie describes fads in “Hiring a Chef for a High End Restaurant” in AllBusiness: “cooking with nitrogen, deconstructing dishes into foams and jellies, and dehydrating foods and sauces in order to create powders, infused salts, and oils.” Change for change’s sake isn’t always practical or welcome.

Chefs infusing food with the latest–and maybe not so greatest–are looking for publicity, much like artists who create outrageous pieces to gain public attention. Similarly most of the upgrades–that really aren’t–are made to do the same and to sell stuff.

I missed the Windows Vista bullet in 2007 for example. Those who fell for it suffered for years.

In his weekly Thursday Wall Street Journal column “All Things D,” Walt Mossberg wrote: “If you’re thinking of upgrading your PC to the new Windows 8, be prepared for hassles and disappointment, especially if the computer is more than a year or two old — even if it technically meets the basic requirements to run the new version.

“I know this, because I’ve spent big chunks of the past week trying to upgrade to Windows 8 two big-name, well-regarded PCs — a 2008 Lenovo laptop and a 2009 Hewlett-Packard touchscreen desktop. The process was painful, and it resulted in lost capabilities, even though both PCs ran Windows 7 quite well and met the minimum requirements for running Windows 8.”

Mossberg, who has been writing a personal technology column for 22 years, goes on to explain that he should have checked the instruction booklets for his two PCs before installing Windows 8 and that he’d counted on Microsoft to warn him of incompatibilities as it had in the past.

He concludes: “The industry really wants you to get Windows 8 via an all-new PC, and most people who adopt it will go that route. But, if you don’t, or can’t, and have even a three-year-old PC, you may want to just stick with the Windows you’ve got.”

On a far simpler scale, I question some recent so-called upgrades I’ve made. In the stodgy “Outlook Express” I used for years to access my emails the spell-check icon was right there next to bold, underscore and font, one-step, easy to find and use. To access spell-check in Microsoft Outlook considered an upgrade, first click on “Review,” and tucked inside is “spelling and grammar,” along with some other things.

Excessive scrolling, once avoided, seems to be the new style. After four+ years, I had to upgrade the program I use to publish my blog. My IT guru and other behind-the-scenes tech genius collaborators made it happen.

When I moderated a comment from my mobile phone the “approve” icon was the first thing I saw on my small screen. It’s now at the bottom of the comment text, hard to find in micro-mini type and annoying. Further, when I finish working behind the scenes, formatting and illustrating a post on my computer, I can no longer return to the blog itself by clicking an obvious arrow that’s clearly visible. I must exit the program and in mouse type, underneath the sign-in to the work area, is a link to the blog reachable only by scrolling down. In addition, while I’d insert an image in two clicks before, now it takes four. The format revision gave someone a job–the only benefit.

Different? Yes. Improvements? No.

Do you have examples of fabulous or ridiculous upgrades?


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