Arclight Cinemas’ Bad Form

Over the weekend my wife and I decided to go see a movie at the Arclight. I like the Arclight because you can reserve your seats. It's a nice theater with good parking. Now I'm going start a rant and at the same time comment on how the user experience can be improved with a little effort. With that in mind, I was sitting on the couch and went to the Arclight Cinema website on my iPad. Tapped the movie, selected the date and then the time I wanted to purchase tickets and a small popup bubble displayed showing available seats, but there wasn't an option to select seats or purchase tickets.

After looking around the website I was not able to find a way to purchase movie tickets. So I thought, no problem, I'll just give them a call. I tapped the Contact Us link. The link opened a new tab with a contact form, but no phone number. I didn't want to send a message to be seen later, I wanted to buy tickets now. Then I went looking for a phone number on the website and while there was a phone number for parking information, there wasn't a contact phone number to be found for help or purchasing tickets. Hot tip, make it easy for the user to get help or tell the user up front what to expect. Not able to find a contact phone number, I went back to Google which displayed the phone number and made a call to get help. They were busy so there was a wait, which I can understand that since it was Thanksgiving weekend. When I got a person on the phone, they told me that their website doesn't work on an iPad and to use a phone or computer. There really isn't a whole lot of difference other than screen size between the desktop and tablet browser experience. With very little work the desktop website can be made to work on a tablet. Better yet, make the design responsive from the start.

No problem, I have a iPhone in my pocket and I know how to use it. I filled out all the information, got the the credit card page, filled out my credit card information and got my first error. Not just any error, not even a friendly error, but a 500 error. For those that don't know, this means something went wrong on the server.

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Do You Really Want to Install That App?

I read a rant by Jeff Atwood on websites that nag the reader to install their app every time the site is accessed. It doesn't matter if you've selected "No", these sites keep nagging you to download their app. The post is called App-pocalypse Now. It is very good and I suggest reading the post.

I run into this all the time when a website links to a website (usually a news site) that everytime asks me to download their app. It is frustrating. I just want to read the article and be on my way. I don't visit these sites often and don't see the point in downloading an app to view their content every six months or so and a link will always send me to the website not the native app, so what's the purpose of downloading their app? In the post Jeff writes:

Let's start with the basics. How do you know which apps you need? How do you get them installed? How do you keep them updated? How many apps can you reasonably keep track of on a phone? On a tablet? Just the home screen? A few screens? A dozen screens? When you have millions of apps out there, this rapidly becomes less of a "slap a few icons on the page" problem and more of a search problem like the greater web. My son's iPad has more than 10 pages of apps now, we don't even bother with the pretense of scrolling through pages of icons, we just go straight to search every time.

Which got me to thinking. Other than games, just what benefit does an native app give over a website? What value does a native app give that a website can't give the reader? Notifications can just as easily be replaced with an email message. If you download the LinkedIn app you get notifications and email notifications. Maybe an app is better formatted for a device, but websites should be responsive to the screen you're using.

I thought personally, why have I downloaded an app over a website and what apps do I use most. Facebook, though with the exception of notifications, I can't really think of anything that the app does that can't be done in a website. The twitter app has a great feature where it remembers the last tweet you read and returns you to that tweet in the list of tweets. That makes it much easier to read my twitter feed, but why couldn't twitter do that on their web page? Geolocation is supported, though badly I think on mobile devices which might be a reason to download an app such as Yelp. Most apps I've downloaded I don't even use.

My credit union app allows me to take a picture of a check and deposit the check wherever I am which is useful since my wife has several different employers, none of whom direct deposit her paycheck. The native app has an option to eDeposit that the website doesn't have.

mobile-ebanking-home-1-1.png mobile-ebanking-home-2-1.png

I don't know, but I believe the image of the check, for performance reasons, would have to have the program reduce the image's file size before sending it to the server. I did about two minutes of searching on Google and found HTML5 photo upload and tested it on my phone and it was able to reduce the file size of an image on my phone. I know the code is a jQuery plugin and jQuery might not be used on a mobile website, but I'm sure with a little more looking I could find code that will scale an image or rewrite the plugin so that it doesn't require jQuery. This is by no means an exhaustive test as I only tested the web application on my personal phone. This tells me that the eDeposit feature could be added to the website.

From a company's point of view, I would think that it would be less expensive to provide a mobile website solution instead of a native app. Look at the credit union app, with the exception of eDeposit, it is the same. Your app programmer would have to know iOS, object C, Android, Pascal, Firefox OS, and every mobile operating system's language of choice. Most likely this would not be one person, but multiple people. As a company, to what platforms do you provide an app, iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry, …?

Now I'm beginning to think that the only reason for downloading an app is because the website hasn't been programmed with features in the app or been made responsive. What do you think?

Business Ethics and HP’s Handling of Legacy Palm Pre Users

My friend Eric Mack has a very good summary of ethics in Knowledge Management which I believe applies to the current problem Hewlett Packard has when they decided not to tell their legacy users that they would not get an upgrade to webOS 2.x OTA.

Here's how I currently define the argument for Ethics in KM

  1. Knowledge Management is about sharing of knowledge, information, and experiences - an exchange of information and ideas. (We often call this learning.)

  2. This exchange cannot occur without effective communication.

  3. For communication to be truly effective, transparency must exist. Transparent communication is built on trust.

  4. Any unethical behavior undermines trust which ultimately impairs communication which leads to the loss of sharing and the loss (or distortion) of information and knowledge.

The bottom line is that ethics is important to KM because of trust.

The problem is that Hewlett Packard was not transparent in their communication with their base users of webOS devices which comes across as untrustworthy. They announced three new products that are not ready to ship despite HP CEO Leo Apotheker having previously stated the following in an interview.

“HP will stop making announcements for stuff it doesn’t have. When HP makes announcements, it will be getting ready to ship.”

HP CEO: New Products Will Ship a Few Weeks After Feb 9 Announcement

They gave a vague "sometime in summer" ship date. Palm webOS products have missed many milestones in the past. See Flash by the end of 2009, webOS 2.x in fall of 2010 and then in winter of 2011. If you look at the failures in their demonstrations (unable to reply to an email for instance) you can tell that this is still a beta product.

This is not how to treat your customer base. They now say that year-old equipment is not capable of running the new OS. This is despite having previously previewed the new OS on equipment that was first sold in June 2009. As previous coworker of mine used to say "it doesn't pass the smell test."

I believe that HP should produce an OTA upgrade as a stopgap measure to keep their loyal user base . This will allow developers to upgrade their products for the new OS with the knowledge that there are still potential users to purchase their product and potentially keep many of their loyal user base using their old phones until HP is able to ship their new phones and Touchpad tablet device. To prevent user apprehension they should also state what mobile phone carriers they are negotiating with to carry their new devices. If these two things are not done I believe they will lose many of their loyal users.

What do you think?

Merry Christmas 2006

20061224_door.jpg

Have a merry Christmas and a happy new year! May the coming year bring you hope, joy and more than you can ask or think.

What would you do?

Last week two journalists, Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig, were forced at gunpoint to convert to Islam. I was thinking about this today and wondered, "if I were in the same situation, what would I do?"

Several years ago I had an experience with an ex co-worker. He said:

Jews are pigs and monkeys and drink the blood of Muslim children. America deserves what it gets because it sticks its nose in everyone's business.

My ex co-worker is a Shiite Muslim from India. He was primarily raised in New York and is an educated young man. I believe both his parents are doctors and he has a college degree. He is well liked. Despite the heinousness of what he said, I said nothing.

If I was in the same situation as Centani and Wiig, would I do as Peter (John 18:15-27) and deny Christ or would I do as Stephan (Acts 7:54-60)?

What would you do?

It’s our 230th birthday!

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July.

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Read the whole document

How I got my name

My mom is an artist and as she tells the story, she was painting a picture of a boat and there was a long shoreman working on the boat who they called Tanny. She liked the name so much that when I came along two years later she named me Tanny. As a child I did not like Tanny and would have much rather prefered to be called something like John or Bob. My mother also did not give me a middle name so I did not have another name to fall back on. I like my name as an adult. When I was in college class at church the pastor of that class said that my name meant treasure beyond price which is cool. :-) So either I'm precious or I have a sunken chest.

What We Can’t Not Know

I have been reading What We Can't Not Know by J. Budziszewski. It's a hard read for me. It is not like most books I read where I start to read and continue read until I get to the end, usually in one day. This book makes me think. One tidbit that I've read today is about our deep conscience which causes us to recognize that we are designed.

The mere recognition of design does three things for our moral knowledge. First, it vindicates deep conscience. If synderesis is designed as a witness to moral truth by a God who knows what He is doing, then its witness to this truth is reliable. Second, it confirms that we have duties not only to neighbor but to God Himself, to whom we owe the very possibility of the experience of anything good. Third, it informs us that just as deep conscience is designed, so the rest of us is designed; we are a canvass for His purposes.

Its comforting to know that I have a purpose

Nights

Nights are lonely and so empty.
  Nights with you and I'll be fine.
Days are filled with hope,
  and someday, you'll be mine.