Friday, May 28, 2010

Time Warner Experience #twcny #tivo

After reading all the reports of problems and phone calls to Time Warner, I expected to have lots of trouble with my new tuning adapter.

What is a tuning adapter?
Let's start with why I need a tuning adapter...
  • Cable technology can only deliver a certain number of channels on the coax line.
  • Old analog channels take up the most room and luckily those are slowly going away.
  • Even still, the number of channels they offer these days exceeds the maximum number that the cable can support.
  • There are many ways to solve this problem, and Time Warner chose to go with a technology called "Switched Digital Video" or SDV (SDV means the channel you are getting down the line "Switches" when you change the channel).
  • In other words, the cable company only sends a limited number of channels down the line.
  • When you change the channel, you might be "requesting" a different set of channels be sent down the line.
That "request" makes SDV a two-way system.
My TiVo Premiere only supports one-way communication, and therefore CANNOT send the necessary request to the cable company. In order for my TiVo Premiere to request the channel, it needs a tuning adapter. The tuning adapter plugs into the TiVo with a USB cable. Of course the coax from the cable company also goes through the tuning adapter and then to the TiVo. When I change the channel with my TiVo, it tells the tuning adapter what channel I want and the tuning adapter sends the necessary request to the cable company.

I have read lots of horror stories about Time Warner resetting something every month. That was causing customers in certain locations to lose all their SDV channels. Those customers would have to call and have them essentially re-activate the equipment every month.
I've also heard similar stories about the initial setup of the tuning adapter. Installers would have to come out and try many different adapters before they would get one to work, etc, etc.

I had to order a tuning adapter from Time Warner Central New York (#TWCNY) because they don't have any on hand. This was my fist signal that things were going to get difficult. Exactly one week from the date I ordered the tuning adapter, I still hadn't received my tuning adapter. I was planning on driving to my local Time Warner office to see if they had any information about my order.
To my surprise, the tuning adapter was waiting for me at the doorstep.

I immediately brought the box inside and opened it up. Not only did it contain EXACT instructions to install the adapter myself, but it also had a very accurate description of why I needed one with my new TiVo (I say accurate because I've read many articles about the topic.)

I followed the directions and plugged everything in. After a little while (probably 30 seconds, but it seemed like an hour), I noticed the green light was still flashing on the tuning adapter. I ran the diagnostics that TiVo provides and it said I didn't have any channels.

I reluctantly called the 800 number that was listed in the instructions, fully expecting to have to order another one or jump through hoops for hours. The representative on the phone said he saw that the tuning adapter was active and authorized on my account already. I suggested that maybe I need to reboot the TiVo.

He agreed and when the TiVo finished booting, I immediately had ALL of the channels coming in for the first time! That was WAY easier than I thought it would be!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Facebook Privacy - Does It Concern You?

There has been a lot of talk about privacy concerns on Facebook, especially with the planned release today of the new "easy" Facebook privacy controls. However, do you know if these issues really affect you and your company? Here's what you need to know:
  1. On a Facebook Company Page, there are very limited privacy options.
  2. Country Restrictions:
    • Entering one or more countries means that only people located in those countries listed will be able to view your Page. This also means that logged out users will not be able to see your Page. If no countries are listed, your Page will be visible to people located in all countries. You understand that you are responsible for setting the proper country restrictions to ensure that the content of your Page is appropriate for the country or countries where you allow it to be visible.
  3. Age Restrictions:
    • Selecting an age restriction means that anyone under the specified age will not be able to find your Page in search or on friends' profiles or view the content in other ways. This also means that logged out users will not be able to see your Page. The Alcohol-Related age restriction sets the minimum age based on the location of the user. Only users in Canada and South Korea who are 19+, in Japan and Paraguay who are 20+, in India who are 25+, and elsewhere (including the US) who are 21+ will be able to view your Page. You understand that the Alcohol-Related age restriction is only for convenience and that Facebook does not represent that by using that setting your Page will be legally compliant in all countries where your Page is visible. You understand that ultimately you are responsible for setting the proper legally compliant age restrictions for each country where your Page is visible.
  4. Published:
    • Published (publicly visible)
    • Unpublished (visible to no one but admins)
  5. Default View for Wall:
    • Posts by Page and Fans
    • Only Posts by Page
  6. Fan Permissions:
    • Fans can write or post content on the wall
      • Fans can post photos
      • Fans can post videos
      • Fans can post links
Keep in mind that according to the Facebook Terms of Service, you are not allowed to create a Profile Page for a brand/product/organization. Profile Pages are for individuals only, and the biggest privacy concerns affect only Profile Pages.

If you are interested in how you can make Facebook work for your company, please contact us!

Monday, May 24, 2010

How will the new GA news affect you?!

There was an email in my Inbox when I got back from vacation that stated:
Say goodbye to search analytics

Google just announced their new secure search beta...the search term is not passed through the referrer, and hence no analytics tool (not even a good old log analyzer) will have any idea of what a visitor searched for to reach your site.
Will this affect you and your website? Do you currently use the search term passed through the referrer string for analytic information on your website? Contact us if you are wondering how this will affect you and your website!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

New Features on LinkedIn

Don't forget to update your LinkedIn Company Profile now that the new features are being rolled out!
Questions? Contact us TODAY!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New TiVo Premiere -- User Experience

I am now the proud owner of a new TiVo Premiere and I thought that I would share that experience with those of you out there thinking about upgrading or jumping into the TiVo world.
I bought the TiVo from Weaknees because they let you order one with an upgraded hard drive. Instead of the stock 400 SD / 45 HD hours, I got one with 2,777 SD / 317 HD hours!

I upgraded the drive in my old Series 2 TiVo myself with a kit from Weaknees. I've also used a "do-it-yourself" program to increase the size of the old TiVo, but so far nobody offers a way for users to upgrade the drive in the new TiVo Premiere EXCEPT Weaknees.

The TiVo came in its normal box, like any of the ones you can get at Best Buy or wherever. The only difference was a couple small advertisements for Weaknees inside the box. They included a very small sticker that says "this TiVo was upgraded by Weaknees". The nice part is...
they leave the sticker for the customer to attach.
 They don't just slap their sticker on the back. You can't even tell the TiVo was ever cracked open!

The remote is a little different than the old one. It has a shiny black finish and the bottom has ridges so you can tell immediately if you are holding it upside down. The buttons have been moved around slightly and there are a few additional buttons that only work with the Premiere. I thought it would take a little getting used to, but my thumb seemed to naturally find the right placement. I think the slightly different layout makes sense. The new remote would be perfect if it had the little 1/2 switch like the old ones. I know there is a way to still switch it (hold down a couple buttons, then type the number of the TiVo you want to control), but a simple switch was so much easier.

The new "HD" menus are nice. I have an older model HDTV, so the left side of the new menu gets cut off. I can't really see the different colored dots in front of the shows, so I can't easily tell if something is recording or transferring. I've connected it to another (newer) TV and the HD menus looks great! For now I have switched to the standard SD menus. I'm not at all disappointed to be using the SD menus because they are so fast and it still has a few extra things that the old Series 2 does not (like the option to play a whole folder!) Someday I will upgrade my TV and switch over to the HD menus, but I'm not in a big hurry like I thought I would be.

As with the old Series 2, my new TiVo Premiere lets me transfer videos that I have on my computer. These can be home movies or even recorded programs that were transferred TO the computer (to cut out the commercials for instance.) They advertise that the new TiVo has a faster transfer speed. I couldn't believe how fast they move now! It takes less than 5 minutes to transfer a half hour show! After the first 2 transfers finished I had to check them because I literally thought there must be a problem! The old TiVo transferred at about 1 to 1... a half hour show would take about a half hour to transfer (maybe a little faster.) I can also transfer shows directly between the 2 TiVo's, but only shows that are not marked as "Copy Protected" by the broadcasting station. Of course the transfer can only go as fast as the SLOWEST link in the chain, so transfers from TiVo to TiVo are as slow as the old Series 2 transfers have always been.

One of the common complaints about TiVo is that you can't copy your season passes from one TiVo to another. They have gone to great lengths to make it easy to find shows at least. The new TiVo Premiere goes one step further in making it easy... it supports a USB keyboard. When I purchased the Premiere, I also purchased a fairly cheap wireless USB keyboard. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I only needed to plug it into the USB port on the back, and it was instantly working! The arrow keys are just like the up/down/left/right keys on the remote. Enter is like Select, and some of the function keys map to some nice shortcuts. Oh, and of course, you can TYPE the name of the show you are searching for in the season pass menu!
That feature alone makes it worth the upgrade.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

We've Moved to a New Office!

It's finally official - we're in our new office on Oriskany Boulevard in Whitesboro. After two weeks of renovations (big thanks to Matt Smith), we are enjoying the benefits. Two great big windows that let lots of sunlight in. Door that we can leave open to feel the fresh spring breeze. A beautiful kitchenette with everything we could need. A great living room setup with a couch, loveseat and chair with ottoman - all in front of the TV! We are able to walk to some of the local businesses for lunch and dinner
We haven't brought over our marketing items yet so no signs are up but they will be soon! Also, we are considering opening our office up for MVCoWork so if anyone is interested, please leave a comment so I can contact you when we're ready.

I would've posted the address; however, the lease agreement is in my home office, otherwise known as the dining room. I'll post the street address with directions as soon as possible. Please feel free to stop by and introduce yourself or just say Hi!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Facebook Won't Increase My Income

I was speaking at an assembly this weekend and someone in the audience made this comment:
Facebook won't increase my income (or grow my members)
And, you know what, he was RIGHT!
All I can do, using Facebook among other tools, is bring you leads. I can get you in front of your target audience. I can get you found in the search engines. I can create calls to action that encourage people to contact you. I can design your website to create a clear path for a visitor that leads them to contact you. I can use Twitter to introduce your brand to an audience that has never heard of you. I can do A LOT of things for you; however,
I can help train your sales people, your customer service department, your engineers, your technicians, even your high-level executives but at the end of the day - they work for YOU! Do you encourage them to close the deal? Do you inspire them by words and actions? Do they want you to succeed? Do they care if you succeed? What's that old saying?
You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink.
Remember that Internet marketing is an integral PART of your entire sales and marketing umbrella.
So, here are some tips:
  1. Don't answer the phone in a gruff voice and bark HELLO!
  2. Don't hang up on people.
  3. Remember that a disgruntled customer can ruin more than just a single sale for you - think long-term benefit.
  4. Remember that a happy customer can bring you more than just a single sale - think long-term benefit.
When an Internet marketing consultant comes in and starts asking questions about your internal sales process, understand their motives. They are trying to get a feel for the whole picture. They can help you - not just online but as a part of your sales team.

Where have you seen clients/prospective clients lose leads because of internal procedures?