Online services should work: A rant about Staples Online

Today I spent the day in the library collecting resources for my research. I saved everything to my jump drive and thought I’d go to an office store after the library to get the articles printed (the library cost $.15 a page and the office store is $.05). I looked at the websites for Office Max and Staples and chose Staples because it looked like it was cheaper and it was on my way home from the library. I registered for an account and the site crashed. I tried again a few times and go no where so I thought I’d do it when I got home and pick it up on my way back to the library tomorrow.

I was able to log in when I got home and I started to upload my files (one at a time because I’m on a Mac with Firefox – they have a tool for Windows users which I assume allows for multiple uploads). So I uploaded my 30+ files one at a time only to have the site crash on me 1/2 way through. The second time around I used the ‘Save My Job’ button (which only worked sometimes). Let’s jump ahead 1.5 hours. I’m ready to go on to the next option (yes it took that long because of site crashes, slowness and stupid design). Now it’s time for me to pick my print options.

I choose B&W and Duplex and the site says – fat chance and crashes again – and again – and again – and again this time in Safari – and again – this time on hubby’s computer in IE. I come back to my computer and Firefox and try again – no luck. I go back into Safari and low and behold I got the site to accept my selection of B&W and duplex only to find out that it takes 24 hours for an online printing request to be completed!!!!! If I want it by 12pm tomorrow 15 hours from now I have to order it Rush – but 12pm is no use to me – I need it tomorrow morning so I can read it at the library instead of waiting a whole extra day.

The moral of the story is this – do not offer your patrons/customers and online service that does not work – and always show the terms up front so that they know what they’re getting into before they dedicate 3+ hours to making your stupid tool work!!!!

My review of Staples Online Copy & Print Center – Zero Stars. And tomorrow I’ll be heading to Office Max to get my pages printed in person.

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My Online Persona

Helene just pointed me to Personas from MIT Media Lab

Personas is a component of the Metropath(ologies) exhibit, currently on display at the MIT Museum by the Sociable Media Group from the MIT Media Lab. It uses sophisticated natural language processing and the Internet to create a data portrait of one’s aggregated online identity. In short, Personas shows you how the Internet sees you.

It was kind of fun watching it run through all the data to generate my online DNA/Persona.

Persona

The two biggest areas on my profile at Online and Education – sounds just about right.

Tech Doc Collaboration Tool

Looking for a way to document your newest tech project?

LiveTechDocs is an online collaboration service for XML documentation review. It’s simple, secure, and satisfying!

The biggest worry about going open source is the lack of documentation. While I say there is no worry about this with Koha, it is a problem with some small open source projects. This is why LiveTechDocs is offering a free lifetime subscription to open source projects!!

I haven’t tried it out because I have the documentation for Koha on Plone – but I’d love to hear about other experiences with this tool.

Zemanta – New Must Have Plugin!

Today I went to Pres4Lib and during the break out on Creative Commons content, we learned about Zemanta from John LeMasney. Zemanta is a plugin for FF that integrates itself into your blog posting and emails and maybe more – and it finds content based on what you’re writing about for you to add to enhance your writing.

Finding content was never this easy

No matter what you’re writing about: books, music, or how to save the planet, we have highly relevant content to enrich your posts.

Images from Flickr, Wikipedia, Getty and other great sources

So, I installed it and started writing an email to a friend about how excited my pups were that they were coming on the trip with us – and guess what? Zemanta found pictures of Coda & Beau for me to insert into my email!!! Check it out:

Zemanta Found Coda & Beau

This is just the coolest app ever and I can’t believe I haven’t heard of it before today!!

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Embed YouTube videos into Keynote

I wanted to embed a YouTube video into my presentation in Keynote for tomorrow, so I did a search for a tutorial and found a YouTube video telling me what to do – but it seemed so convoluted. I then remembered reading about a new site that could convert YouTube videos to a format that would work in your media player. I found the announcement about Farkie on DownloadSquad and started to try it out – but got nowhere :(

This is all I could get after trying five or so times to get one video.

Error

Instead I was able to get Vixy to work :)

Just a little tip from me after trying multiple options.

Saving your digital life

Jason Griffey had a great post last month that I read (but didn’t have time to share with you all) about saving your digital life online. Like most of us, my entire life is on this one machine and should anything happen to it I’d be crippled. When Circuit City was going out of business I bought an external hard drive so that I can automatically back up periodically. Another option that is available to us all is backing our computers up online using one of many services. Jason wrote about how he uses multiple services to store is digital life:

So how do I handle all of this? With one piece of hardware, a few pieces of software, and broadband. The piece of hardware is an expandable, redundant external hard drive called a Drobo , and the software I use is Dropbox and either Mozy or Carbonite.

I’ve heard of some of these services and but not all of them so I’m glad that Jason pointed them out to us all. Check out the entire post and make sure you’re backing up your digital life!!

Another way to use Zoho

This from ReadWriteWeb:

Zoho, the web office company that competes with Google’s online tools (and does so quite well), has introduced a new feature to their online suite of productivity applications: Zoho Chat 2.0. Built atop the original Zoho Chat platform, this iteration now integrates all the major instant messaging networks. But a multi-protocol IM client is not the big news – it’s the fact that Zoho Chat 2.0 is integrated within the majority of the company’s applications to allow for real-time collaboration with colleagues.

In Zoho Chat 2.0, you now have the ability to connect with others – both Zoho users and not – on IM networks like Yahoo!, Google Chat, MSN/Windows Live, AIM, ICQ, and any network that supports Jabber. The chat application itself can be launched from within nearly every Zoho online application with the exception of Creator, Share, Invoice, and Database & Reports. But when you look at the list of apps, you can see there are far more that have chat than those that don’t.

Sounds pretty awesome. We use Google Apps for work so I’m kind of stuck on Google for my online collaboration for now, but I keep meaning to give Zoho another shot and try it out – especially since there are so many options available through Zoho.

Google PDF Viewer

Every week I get an update email from our support center at work. Last week the report had a link under it to ‘View as HTML’ – which is always how I checked the report. Today it looks a little different:

View PDF

I have read the news about Google adding a real PDF viewer, but this is my first chance to try it out – and I have to say I’m pretty darn pleased with it!

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Email any cell phone

I’ve been sending emails to my family’s cell phones for ages, but there is now a very convenient list of how to send an email to anyone no matter who their cell phone service provider is.

Most of mobile carriers offer free Email To SMS gateways which can be used to forward simple text emails to a mobile phones. And the good news, majority of those gateways are free and available to the general public.

Check it out.