Thursday, 24 May 2007

The Vital Difference

Most of you know I use a shyteload of tech to stay in touch. A lot of you also know I use (or used) two "webSMSenger" systems that purport to send messages to your mobile phone and accept SMS messages and forward them into the conversation on the server. Of the two, System A has few glamorous features, their server breaks down often, and the SMS gateway for Australia left us stranded for over a week. System B has glitter and polish, allows lifestream feeds to be added, and has recently caved in to mounting usage, not by crashing as the other one did, but by sneakily limiting features without telling anyone.

When I had a problem with System B, I left messages all over the place and finally got one petulant querulous and supercilious response from one of the developer/admin type people, and most of that response seemed devoted to telling me what a fecking idiot I was for not knowing all the stuff that he, an insider, knew and took for granted.

When I had a problem with System A, I emailed them and was actually a great deal more curt and abrasive with them, yet they treated my report with respect. I've since emailed them back and applauded them for their switched-on, userfriendly, and definitely brilliant support.

So you can guess which System I'll be pulling the plug on as soon as I post one last response to the admin guy's response... It goes into meltdown on a semiregular basis, yes. But each time it comes back there's some improvement. It may not be a glaring obvious one, but each shutdown signals some improvement has been made.

System A may not support hundreds of RSS feeds per user, but then let's face it the opposition only managed to do so by making that feature useless.

The web interface is quite simple and barebones - but then I will use SMS almost as much as I use that web interface.

And the SMS may have gone the way of the dodo for a week there, but it came back, and unlike System B's efforts, it IS there working right now.

I get friendlier support, a good bunch of friends, and besides, System A has lolkitties! How can anyone resist that?

1 comment:

teddlesruss dat who! said...

May as well stick the whole history here:

teddlesruss posted to #jaiku:
Why isn't jaiku picking up and posting my RSS links which it picked up fine two-three days ago?
Fetched from presence 1 day, 20 hours ago.

7 comments so far

good question. My del.icio.us feed is no longer working.... and the others are very slow.

1 day, 20 hours ago by tommysollen.

just as you mentioned it... you´re absolutely right, the only of my feed working seems to be last.fm and flickr :(

1 day, 20 hours ago by danhracek.

It might be that they have had to turn down the frequency of pinging feeds. In the interview with net@nite they mentioned some limitations I think having to do with only pinging feeds every x min. I wonder if the influx of new users with tons of feeds added is part of the problem. At least the core service is available, posting and commenting.

1 day, 20 hours ago by ChristianBurns.

Okay tieing the two together: That particular blog article was posted around two hours ago and is still not updated. It's been like that for a day or two now, as evidenced by all the people having trouble adding new feeds. Backing off on the RSS updates is the same thing as saying "Ah canna gi' her anymore Cap'n, she's gonna blow!" and that to me is a tacit admission of a meltdown... I like Jaiku but the inscrutability of the developers pisses me off, at least theTwitter devs responded to my queries and problems even as their server was in meltdown.

So far Jaiku has made out that they will regularly update my RSS feeds - then reneged on that deal by slowing updates down to a trickle. They represented themselves as an equal to Twitter insofar as SMS goes - I registered my phone but am not getting an messages TO it, I can only send them. Again, not living up to the hype. They have an open channel where suggestions and requests are apparently ignored. Maybe I have to be in the Tea Club to get a response or something.

But it's the reason why Jaiku may technically outstrip Twitter with features, but ultimately lose out in the "heart and soul" stakes. It's why, when it comes right down to the wire, Jaiku needs to work on their people skills and their public image if they want to make inroads into the webSMSenger market.

1 day, 19 hours ago by teddlesruss. Delete

Some information on RSS fetching here: http://www.jaiku.com/blog/2007/05/22/fro...

Teddles - The jaiku team are hardly 'inscrutable' just because your post isn't responded to fast enough to suit you. We're an international team (I'm in New Zealand) and I'm the one that takes point on user-raised issues. As it happens, when you posted, I was asleep.

I'm also the guy who monitors (and looks after) the servers, and I can tell you we're a long way from 'meltdown'. We're in the process of moving our RSS fetcher process to a new, faster server, and improving it as we go (which will actually make it easier for us to scale out further).

If a post here raising an issue isn't visibly responded to, it's simply because I didn't get to it for some reason or because I contacted the user directly, not because the team is hiding from you.

Regarding your SMS issues, that's been answered repeatedly on this channel. Given the way people read stuff on here, it's probably something that bears repeating every so often (while the Jaiku team are probably some of the services heaviest users, it's a new way of communicating for all of us, and we're still learning the best way to use it).

US based mobile providers seem to be largely unaware of the reality that there's a whole world out there. As a result, a number of them (I don't know the market well enough to have any idea what the percentage is) aren't at all interested in SMS to and/or from outside the US. We can't change them, so we've got to work around them.

We're working on getting a US based shortcode to work around this limitation, but the process is rather a slow one (and the slowness isn't on Jaiku's side).

In short: Yes, there are known issues with RSS fetching. We're working on them, and hope to have the process moved to its new home within the week. There are also known issues with international SMS, particularly to and from the US. We're also working on that, but as part of the process is outside our control, I can't offer you a timeline on that.

The servers are all sitting at load levels I'm comfortable with, we're a long way from meltdown.

1 day, 12 hours ago by malach.

malach:

I had a longish comment planned, pointing out how attempting to make me feel like it's my fault that I didn't read the RSS Manifesto and the SMS Declaration and all that. But I won't.

Suffice it to say that if you listened to what people like myself are saying, you'd have a much better handle on how SMS communication is used, how it can be handled. You'd have a much more committed fan in me than you currently have.

And finally - your opposition webSMSenger service were in total meltdown last week. Segfaulting servers or crashing software or whatever - it was probably some of the worst times those poor bastards had had to date. And I chose that moment to harass them over an SMS problem I was having. They not only responded politely and considerately, they followed up. And in so doing they have earned my loyalty forever....

Jaiku, on the other hand, tells me that I have unrealistic expectations of how quickly they should respond, and that what I want doesn't matter because you've already written an article telling me why I can't have it.

I'll visit Jaiku from time to time I guess, because I now have friends here. But I can tell you that you guys need to start considering your users as customers not as a necessary evil. If you want to discuss anything further, please feel free to head for one of my blogs and leave a comment or email. And as I said from time to time I'll poke my nose in here again.

Have fun!

17 hours, 47 minutes ago by teddlesruss. Delete

teedles:

It's not your fault at all that you weren't aware of how often we've acknowledged the RSS issue, and I'm sorry my post made you feel that way. I don't know if you took the time to read other recent posts in this channel, but your post caused me to more visibly acknowledge our two major known issues (RSS and SMS), to make sure people know that we know.

Doing this doesn't solve the issues, we all know that, but I honestly believe that people are happier with explanations than with a lack of them.

As a direct result of your post, I'll be making sure that there's a similar pair of posts visible on the Jaiku channel most of the time, just so people know that we know.

Regarding listening to what people are saying re: SMS, I think we do, and we want to support that usage. The annoying reality is that the mobile operators are slowing us down in that, firstly by being somewhat reluctant to deal with international SMS, and secondly by making the process to work around that (the US based shortcode) a long and involved one.

Lastly, I'd like to commend your highly visible loyalty to a service that has apparently earned it from you.

13 hours, 4 minutes ago by malach.


RESULT?

He couldn't even get my username right, and he hasn't bothered to contact me because after all no amount of user feedback can ever replace good old ignorance and arrogance...

Jaiku SNAFU...

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