offbeatmammal’s Techdirt Profile


About offbeatmammal

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  • Feb 23rd, 2010 @ 10:27pm

    MagicJack is okay but needs polish (as Offbeatmammal)

    I've been a happy MJ user for a couple o years now, but the software/device does need a bit more polish - it's got some rough edges and the tendancy to get itself hung up and need a reset/reformat

    It works a lot better with MagicFeatures - - annoying it needs an add-on to make these work.

    Somewhere between Skype and this would make a perfect solution
  • Dec 20th, 2009 @ 9:24pm

    where's the list of non-Chamberlain garage doors? (as Offbeatmammal)

    let market forces sort this out.

    If I can't open my own garage door from a remote that I fit to my car (one came with HomeLink - which I guess licenses technology from Chamberlain, one has an aftermarket opener wired in that may or may not... I don't really care)

    Looking for a new motor for the second garage and keen to know which ones are not covered by this stupid game playing
  • Dec 20th, 2009 @ 8:36pm

    conducting customer support in public - risks and rewards (as Offbeatmammal)

    I've had some interesting experiences recently where great support via Twitter has impressed me. HP and Polar Fitness have both responded to tweets not directed to them (but about their products) to see if they could help.

    Interestingly though when I ended up working with HP traditional support they've rather dropped the ball, but Polar have handled the transfer pretty seamlessly.

    I think as there are more open and public communications channels open with customers the companies that make it are going to be the ones who "get" social media and the fact that it's not just about deflecting a complaint it's about engaging with your existing and potential clients in a much more genuine fashion
  • Nov 22nd, 2008 @ 10:45pm

    IPTV, Hulu via PlayOn and BitTorrent... (as Offbeatmammal)

    there are so many alternative ways of getting the content today for the technologically savvy that the cable cos need to start looking at acceptable alternatives because if they don't their cozy little monopoly will dry up and they'll be turned into dumb pipes fighting for every customer/byte.
    Just like VoIP is starting to hurt the telcos it will make it's way to the typical consumer
    Imagine a way to watch movies on-demand on your Xbox... oh, you can with Netflix. Hulu, EPSN, CBS and other content... PlayOn (, AppleTV. Microsoft MediaCenter etc ... all make it easy to use BitTorrent to get any show you want from anywhere in the world
    Of the 100 channels Comcast try to deliver to me, I maybe use 5. If it wasn't for my daughter wanting to watch cartoon network and the ability for me to get live sports... we'd probably have got rid of the service in favor of just using the cheapest pipe...
  • Oct 31st, 2008 @ 6:42pm

    Detector vans (as Offbeatmammal)

    I thought they worked by some detection of induction frequencies or similar (at least that was the myth when I was growing up there!)

    they looked pretty scary ;)

    wonder if they're more sophisticated these days! ~Offbeatmammal

  • Jan 29th, 2007 @ 10:14am

    Used the Xbox or Zune Marketplace? (as OffBeatMammal)

    I don't know if you've noticed but MS have slowly been ramping up a "currency" all of their own - MS Points.
    At the moment it's only really useful in the Zune and Xbox360 marketplaces but a logical next step would be to roll it out to buy bling for Messenger or upgrades for Vista...
    Imagine then if they were to start to open it up to allow 3rd party online stores to use it, and then as a peer-to-peer transaction method.
    Imagine a secure app on a windows mobile device that acts as your wallet and they've got a reach that PayPal and others may find hard/expensive to duplicate.
    I personally dislike PayPal (and even more since they became part of eBay) and would love to see some competition.
    None of the credit card companies seem to have realised yet that there is a market here for micropayment (ebooks, music downloads etc) so MS and Google (both trusted brands on the whole) have a good oportunity here.
    Of course eBay will do like it did with Google Checkout and refuse to let MS play in "their" space as well "... in the interest of protecting their users..." but they are slowly finding their grip on the market slipping
  • Jan 15th, 2007 @ 10:21am

    XM, Sirius (as OffBeatMammal)

    I have Sirius. It came with my car.

    My most listened to channel seems to be "nosignal"
    and when I do have a channel their playlist appears to be pretty short

    I don't listen to the "celebrities" because if I wanted to listen to childish chatter I'd keep my daughter in the car at all times ;)

    It annoys me (out of all proportion probably) that while in FM mode I get track details on the radio display, but with Sirius I just get the station name - seems the wrong way round somehow.

    I'd love to see something like Pandora and infinite personalisation, or at least a way to tag-and-share tracks I like (from the car and ten sync bck to them somehow)

    Will a merger help... maybe if they can spend the money on R&D and better service instead of a marketing war.

    Will it happen.... oes common-sense ever prevail?!
  • Jan 12th, 2007 @ 12:18pm

    fractured market only hurts adoption (as OffBeatMammal)

    FictionWise, Sony Reader, eBooks, Google, HarperCollins

    If I go into a bookstore and buy a paperback I know I can read it on any technology platform I want (at home, on the bus, in the office....except perhaps underwater) and I can lend it to a fried, trade it in a 2nd hand book store or keep it for ever

    But if I want a decent eBook experience I have to pay for a reader software that is possibly limited to a hardware platform (what if I want to read using my PocketPC on the bus, my UMPC on te bus and my iMac at home) or a dedicated device (yet another thing to carry) and I loose all the flexibility that the paper copy costs me.

    Yet in many cases the electronic version costs the same as the paper one.

    Go figure!
  • Jan 5th, 2007 @ 9:40am

    if it's easier that searching for a torrent... (as OffBeatMammal)

    .... Joe Public will buy into this idea, flawed as it is.
    Searching for a torrent of a movie often leads you into a mire of porn and malware. When you find the movie it's often an esoteric format that needs a strange codec pack that wants to reset your browser homepage....
    While a reasonably tech savvy user will work through these problems (to watch a downgraded, downsampled version of the movie) Joe Public (and me on a day where I don't have time to spend fighting this stuff) wants to get home, turn on the tube, grab a beer and watch a movie.
    If it's one-click and instant-on it's going to get traction as long as they don't price themselves out of the market. Folks don't often factor in the Cable cost (especially on an all-you-can-eat package) and do a cost analysis of download vs packaged... their value proposition is watching the movie.
    For me renting a first run, advert free, DVD quality experience through my Xbox Live Marketplace, getting the movie from Netflix or buying from Amazon are easy and so I do that.
    Sometimes there's a rare movie or missed TV ep I can't find and I will search the backwaters for it but I'm time poor and so the easiest option wins most times...
  • Jan 4th, 2007 @ 9:16am

    Is digitisation the answer? (as OffBeatMammal)

    Even if we don't get to a technological answer with ePaper and eInk for a while yet does this validate the effort that Google and others are putting into digitising these works? If the libraries need to take the books out of the front-line can they at least consider warehousing and loaning via post (Netflix) consolidating into one uber-library, and/or make the books available as (timed, self destructing) digital downloads (supporting many formats.... don't make me buy an eReader for one book).
    Personally I love the feel of a paper book and the physical experience of reading it, fliping back and forth and hunting for an item in a reference book and I can't see a digital solution replicating that experience... but if it's a choice between never being able to read that book or the digital experience... I'll go digital over destruction any day
  • Apr 6th, 2006 @ 4:58am

    Commercials push me away from TV... (as OBM)

    as the rise of the commercial invasions into the shows I want to watch grows I find I'm being pushed more to wait for a series to come to DVD or BitTorrent so I can watch it without getting frustrated with the interruptions.

    As it is I use a PVR and skip most of the ads but that doesn't help with the stings and placement they litter the screen with (often over content because no-one is actually thinking about the timing of this crap)

    For preference I watch content where the adverts are top and tail of the show but don't interrupt the flow of the content itself.

    I have an attention span of >6 minutes, especially if it's a show I like so for gods sake let me watch the show (especially if I'm paying for the cable....)

    I wonder if anyone has done the math to work out what the cable cost would have to become to do away with in-show adverts but maintain the current revenue levels?
  • Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 1:31pm

    Plaxo is okay.... (as OBM)

    ... within some limits. Like a lot of other tools careless users can make it a nightmare. People who hate the idea can always set a rule toe at the mail.

    I think however it's very much only half the story... if they're hook up with something like it would start to add a lot more value to the offering
  • Mar 4th, 2006 @ 12:16am

    Re: Repayment (as OBM)

    this whole case sucks. RIM should be in a position to sue the US Patent Office for material adverse effects on their business as well as the judge in this case for consistantly ignoring the ongoing rejection of the very patents that are critical to the case.
    Either way RIM has lost out on a lot of business, and it's very bad especially with MS starting to cut their grass with direct push mail capabilities in Exchange and now in Windows Mobile devices (tried the new AKU2 ROM upgrade for my HTC Wizard that includes this, and it works great)
  • Feb 7th, 2006 @ 4:27am

    communication (as OBM)

    bear with me... I get to a point in a moment...
    I use GAIM at the moment. It rocks. I can talk to MSN and Y! users with no effort. Sadly no Gtalk support there just yet.
    I don't use Skype because the IM facility sucks and I type more than I talk to folks
    If one of these players can come up with a combined VoIP solution that lets me communicate seamlessly with the others... I'd pay for the damn thing (I don't want adverts) or I'll go for the one that has the highest traction with the users I communicate most with... and hands down at the moment it's MSN
    While it's great to see Google blurring the boundries between mail and chat (something that I think will be productive, and also help procude more coherent logs) unless there are open system so an Outlook user or a Gmail user or an MS-LiveMail user can IM with a jabber user or call a SIP user... it's just going to be more pain for folks
  • Feb 3rd, 2006 @ 2:16am

    record companies profits into the drug dealers poc (as OBM)

    The record companies would have us believe that the money made by CD pirates goes to fund the drug industry.

    But the money rock stars make
    from legal record sales ends up in exactly the same place. When they stop breaking the law, so will I.
  • Feb 1st, 2006 @ 8:03pm

    No Subject Given (as OBM)

    "...serve as a community watchdog"
    the mainstream (and even local) press hasn't been that in over a decade.
    they jump on bandwagon hype stories and drop them as soon as they're something new and shiny.
    I wouldn't trust the press to keep my place in the lunch queue let alone show any integrity when it comes to looking after the community
  • Jan 16th, 2006 @ 1:41am

    What's on that key.... (as OBM)

    many years back I worked for a major European hotel chain implementing a new door key system in one of their flagship hotels.

    the system was incredibly smart (and yup, expensive) but allowed the guest to provide any 'standard' mag swipe card with a 2-3 track strip and we'd use that rather than issuing a key (less chance of them loosing it!)

    it also allowed us to easily issue several keys for a room, use on key for multiple rooms and put some pretty smart rules in place (eg Mum and Dad could open the mini-bar with their credit card, but junior with a hotel issued key couldn't, the parents could access the rooftop pool after 8pm and junior couldn't).

    we didn't have the actual values flying round the network but an encrypted hash key (quicker for checking and applying rules) and we did basic checks to ensure the same hash wasn't active for more than one guest at a time.

    some guests didn't like it... so we continued to issue our own keys in those cases. some guests loved it. we found the system to be a pleasure because we got less issues with the guests losing or mis-treating the keys (and argued less about auxilliary charges because they where less likely to let the key out of sight). sadly the system was too expensive to justify rolling out outside the one flagship property... I wonder if it's still in use...
  • Dec 25th, 2005 @ 2:11am

    and a merry Christmas to all... (as OffBeatMammal)

    whatever the merits of this invention maybe he should have sold the patent to one of the IP Vampires out there.

    anyway, hope all have a great Christmas
  • Dec 13th, 2005 @ 4:41pm

    the same morons... (as OffBeatMammal)

    .... why buy stuff from junk faxes or (worse) junk emails .... and just encourage the pond life who send them the keep sending them.

    I report 100% of spam via Every PayPal, eBay, bank or Amazon phishing attempt I get I take the time to report through the MSN Toolbar anti-phishing bolt-on... but still the tide of crap keeps flowing.

    Where there is an idiot, there's someone going to take advantage of them. And it seems no amount of education or publicity will out-weight peoples greed and gullibility.
  • Nov 28th, 2005 @ 2:05am

    Audio tagging (as OffBeatMammal)

    The nice folks at have a more than reasonable audio tagging system that seems to work most of the time.

    Their tagger is sometimes spot on. Sometimes (thanks to conflicting data) gets the music so woefully wrong it's funny - but with a larger corpus of data I imagine it would only improve

    And their tool does help keep my MB of (my own) backed up CDs organised when I'm too lazy to key in the titles and CDDB didn't recognise them when I originally ripped them !

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