Gongol.com Archives: February 2011
Brian Gongol

February 3, 2011

Business and Finance US Cellular customers will have to wait for their Android OS upgrade
It was supposed to be delivered in late January, but the company says it's waiting on the handset maker HTC to make the phones ready. The problem here isn't that some software is delayed -- that happens all the time. The real problem is that the company is making its announcements in response to angry posts on Facebook. Companies should never rely upon third-party outlets like Facebook or Twitter or AOL or anything else to deliver their messages and serve as a primary conduit for communication with the customer. There should be a clearly-identified news section on US Cellular's website where one can go to find timely updates on things like operating-system upgrades. There's a press room, to be sure, but it's just full of marketing tripe. Customers deserve to find out useful information, and the company should be sharp about getting out in front of the story and telling them -- through official channels -- what the story is and how they expect it to evolve. They should never be caught making excuses on Facebook instead. That's just bad customer service and poor brand management. By the time someone's calling out a company on Facebook, they've already exhausted the normal channels for figuring out the problem and have reached the stage of venting about that anger. That's not a smart way to run a company. On a related note, Rupert Murdoch has launched a newspaper for the iPad called The Daily, not long after closing off many of News Corp.'s other websites from free access (the Times of London, for instance, resides behind a paywall). Seems like a silly choice: As though NBC Universal, deciding that it's no longer making money putting its programming over the air and basic cable, starts charging premium-channel prices for CNBC, NBC, and Telemundo -- while launching another brand-new service that only DirecTV subscribers can pay to watch, consisting mainly of content that they can get for free from CBS. Doesn't really make much sense.

Health Why medical test reports should be redesigned
(Video) A compelling TED talk that argues that better reports would be a highly effective tool in enabling (and encouraging) patients to do something about their own health. Good information leads to good buy-in.

News How to understand the rise of China
(Video) The most valuable takeaway from Martin Jacques's TED talk is that China isn't the monolithic nation-state it's often made out to be -- but it's also very much here to stay, in one form or another. China's government is using its cash riches to make huge investments in foreign economies (supposedly offering to invest more in Zimbabwe than the country's entire annual GDP), and there's evidence it's using dastardly espionage techniques to steal corporate secrets from abroad.

Business and Finance Report of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission
The report's conclusion is that pretty much everyone is to blame for what happened in the financial markets in 2008 -- regulators, corporate leaders, and investors alike. And when everyone is to blame, then there's really very little that's likely to be done. Diffusion of responsibility makes people feel like they have no individual responsibility to fix the problem. It's a report that probably contains a lot of accurate statements and observations, and that will also probably result in nothing useful.

Weather and Disasters Aerial views of the Chicago snowstorm
Two feet of snow dumped on a heavily-urbanized area look pretty fascinating from the sky

Iowa Bad news about West Glen
The West Des Moines mixed-use development is in a lot of debt-related trouble

Broadcasting Is Glenn Beck a lot like Father Coughlin?
There are some parallels, to be sure. Both have drawn upon populist anger to gain broadcasting fame.

News The swimsuit issue ... of American History Illustrated
Some styles dating back as much as 75 years still look classy. Others just look absurd.

Humor and Good News Walgreens introduces beer at a Wal-Mart Cola price
50-cent beer. Really.

Water News When it's 27 degrees below zero, who wants to work outside?

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