Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I received an e-mail from the folks at today and they invited me to participate in the beta of their new service, Askville. Naturally I was intrigued so I gave it a once over.

The main site lays out everything for you and tells you exactly what this site is about right away. You ask a question and wait for other users to respond to your question. Sure you could ask questions about the universe or ask the importance of life, but it seems to me that the site is more geared for shopping purposes (as if the fact that it is a service of Amazon did not give that fact away already). You can tell by the varying questions that are listed on the front page you can tell that this site will be eclectic in opinions and experts.

The process is simple. You do need to sign up for an account (your existing Amazon account will suffice and save you time). I signed in using my Amazon account information. Once you are signed in, start typing in your question in the text box and away you go. Once submitting your question you will be taken to a screen where you can add details to your inquiry and even assign it topics. For example, I asked about finding an affordable set of golf clubs. I then added more information to the information box such as I am a beginner, have only been out a handful of times but plan on going out in the future. I also noted that I would prefer not to use an auction site such as ebay, but have not ruled it out. I also added that I would prefer new, but slightly used could work as well. After that you are given the option of assigning topics for your question. This feature can be helpful because then you can break down all of the questions by other users by category. Perhaps you have the same question that is out there. Instead of asking yourself you may find somebody else has already received an answer that can help you out as well. I highly encourage people to look before asking, although I'm sure that will not happen on a large scale. Nothing irritates me more than finding the same question in a forum because people do not look before they speak, thus in Internet etiquette, or "netiquette", world, makes them look foolish. When you are finished, click on "Ask Your Question" and your question is added to the forum. All you have to do now is wait for people to answer your question.

As mentioned this is a beta service. The official service will be called, which is slated to debut later this year. Essentially it will be the same service from what I gather except it will offer items that can be redeemed with Questcoins and "other cool things", as the FAQ says. The Questcoins are used as motivation for users to use Askville in a mature matter. You earn these coins in a number of ways. You receive one coin every time you ask or answer a question. Users asking questions also get to grade the responses they receive. A "Great answer" receives ten coins, and the "best answer" gets an extra five coins. However, in a move that will motivate users to leave useful feedback and not just pollute the forums with lackluster responses just to boost coin totals, "weak" and "awful" answers will lose five coins and ten coins respectively. You also get five points just for logging in (limit of once per day). There are a couple other little ways to receive points as well.

In addition to Questcoins, there are experience points. Experience points are used to grade the individual users and their knowledge in varying topics. This is another reason why I suggest adding topics to your questions, and you will see why in a minute. Let's use an example for this. Going back to my golf club question, I assigned the topics of "sports", "golf" and "golf clubs". Let us assume that "GolferJay" (this is a made up name just so you know) chimes in with a terrific answer that helps me out. I will then vote "GolferJay" as my "best answer" and he will receive 15 experience points in the topics of "sports", "golf" and "golf clubs". This will help other users out because now somebody else asking a question in any of those topics will recognize that "GolferJay" has some knowledge on those topics. The experience points work the same way as the questcoins in the negative way as well, which helps pick out the Internet hitchhikers leaving their trash along the super highways. Also, once a user reaches a certain number of experience points, they will be rewarded with questcoins, depending on their level.

The Questcoins will not be able to be redeemed anywhere but when it debuts, so Askville is encouraging users to get going and Amazon clearly hopes they can build a following in the beta stage and have them transfer right over to the Questville service. There are more areas to still explore on Askville right now for me, but I plan on giving it a run and see how it works out. I love the idea of the user-to-user format. It is almost as if Askville is mixing the MySpace philosophy with ebay, or I suppose Amazon's service would be more appropriate. In any event, if you try out the site, let me know what you think of it in the comments section.


The funny car

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I went to Eckerd the other day and saw this cool looking car in the parking lot. I took these two shots with my cell phone and uploaded them to my Flickr site, but decided to post them here as well. I thought it was cool looking. It sort of made me wish I had picked up a Sprite instead of a Coke though...


Another Pet Peeve

Continuing on my "Stupid People" theme this morning...

A movie was recently being shot in West Chester and I suppose some parts were filmed on the campus of West Chester University. Here is a pet peeve of mine that I would like to see stopped immediately on the national scale because I have seen it on more than one occasion.

It is not West Chester State. It is West Chester University. It is not Shippensburg State. It is Shippensburg University. It is not Bloomsburg State. It is Bloomsburg University.

I do not believe any of the schools in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education are referred to as State anymore, but they are all University. If you are making your schedules for sports or doing stories for the news, please make note that update. In the past week I have seen WCU and Ship referred to as State in a sports schedule, and just this morning I heard WCU referred to as West Chester State.

Thanks for listening!


Ranting About Customers (Again)

Ok, I should preface this by saying I want you to understand that I was already a little irritable when these customers approached me. Even if I was in a great mood though, these customers may very well have made me irate anyway!

The first was a pair of college aged sorority girls on a shopping mission for their mom. They have a page full of a shopping list and bring their cart up to me and say "We need all these things, can you help us out?" Next thing I know I find myself leading these girls through the entire store hand picking out all of their selections. Now, maybe it's just me, but I would like to think that a couple of college aged girls would be able to browse the aisles for what they need. After all, every aisle is marked with the basic contents that reside on their shelves. And paper? Well if you look at the wall, there is a 15ft x 30 ft sign that says "Paper".

Let this be a lesson for all of you. I am not here to do your shopping for you. I am here to assist you and answer any questions for you. Do your own darn shopping people!

I am sick and tired of people asking me "Do you work here?" Do people really think I'm wearing this get up because I think I look cool? Or because I'm comfortable? Please! Yesterday this lady was looking right at my name tag and then she asked me that question. Do people usually walk around a store carrying a box, cutting it open with a knife, and placing the stock on the shelf? If they do they must be really nice people. I wish those people would make it to my store! But in any event people, please use common sense. If you see a group of people throughout the store wearing identical clothing, an they have name tags on, or they are putting stock on a shelf, then they probably work there. You have no idea how discouraging that can be for an employee. Maybe I should go to your office, walk up to your desk and ask you the same thing.

I realize that the office retail world is different than the office world, and I'm ok with that. But don't you dare start thinking that just because you work at an office, or have a secretary, or have a platinum card with a $100,000 limit, or have a fancy car, that makes you better than me. While I may be ranting and raving right now, truth is I treat all of my customers with respect and I truly enjoy working with people, helping them find what they need, or attempting to work out alternative solutions. If I am out of an item, believe me, I do feel bad but I will do everything in my power to find what you need, whether it is form another store or online. So please, do not complain to me that we had the item the other day, last year, or years ago. Please don't tell me that we aren't doing our job because we are out of an item. Please, do not ask me "Are you sure?" or "Do you have any in the back?" Those questions leave the retail worker feeling a little discouraged and, for some (not me), they will start to feel less inclined to help you out because you are belittling their pride. These people work in the store and know where everything should be. I can't speak for all of my co-workers, but if I tell you we don't have any more of something, I urge you to take my word for it. After all, I have performed the duties of an inventory analyst and in the position I learn where everything would be and know how the inventory system works better than anybody in the store. I'm not bragging, it's just the truth. No means no.

And finally, for today, do not tip me. I know that sounds weird because you would think I love earning extra money on the side. Truth is, I am not allowed to accept tips. If you try to give me a tip I will tell you that it is ok and I appreciate it but will not accept it. I am getting paid to help you put furniture in your car. Some associates will take them, but I find it unethical. I'm not driving you anywhere and I'm not serving you food and drinks. If I am providing you exceptional service, then please send a comment to my bosses or the regional office. Believe me, that helps me out a lot more than $2. So if you are the kind of person who feels obligated to tip the people helping you load your car, instead of reaching for your wallet to give them a couple bucks, make a mental note of their name (or names), go home, and drop the corporate office a line thanking them for the job well done and mention their name and location. This feedback gets back to the store, and a lot of times leads to awards such as employee of the month, which usually ends up as a $20 gift card. Now, your tip of a couple bucks could have transformed to a $20 reward.


My Condolances Sopranos Fans

Friday, June 15, 2007

I don't know how many of you readers are fans of The Sopranos, HBO's top rated program that came to a shocking ending...sort of. I totally understand how you can be consumed by a television show and how you can look forward to that one hour of television programming an entire week. I have done much the same with 24 and (lately) Lost. I have only seen one episode of Sopranos (the pilot) and I must admit, if I had HBO I would probably watch it more often.

What Sopranos did to you this week with it's black out ending was, I believe, a disgrace. A show that consumes you so much owes you the legitimate ending to wrap it all up. If it is going to leave things out in the open, at least let it be known. Instead you got the cheap, sudden black out and silence approach, causing many to think their cable went out at the worst possible time. I would be mad too. In the eight years it was on, I have felt like I have watched the show because I hear so many people talk about it on the radio or on TV or out on the street. I don't know everything but I think I got the broad plot line down enough to understand the frustrations with the ending. You probably wanted to see Tony get whacked, or see how Tony and his family find their way into refuge. In any event, I feel your pain.

But there are many people still obsessing over the ending and looking for the hidden meanings to determine what "really" happened. I have heard numerous beliefs and philosophies as to what happened. Tony was whacked because he said earlier in the season that when you're shot you don't hear anything and all you get is plain black, or something like that. The audience was whacked. There was a parallel universe with two Tonys and the one wearing this shirt was killed and the one wearing this shirt was not. That is probably my favorite.

I've only seen the ending once, on the news, and I think I can tell you what happened. I think that Tony was sitting there, looked up, and the show ended abruptly.


  © Blogger template On The Road by 2009, modified by Kevin McGuire.

Back to TOP