Posts Tagged "google"

I Need Google Navigation To Do This

Posted By on May 20, 2015

I ride a motorcycle. I have a Sena bluetooth system in my helmet. It’s connected to my Android phone. Sometimes I have Google Maps telling me where to go. That’s very handy.

Until Google says something like, “Faster route found! Tap to choose this new route,” or whatever she says.

I can’t tap anything. I have gloves on and am driving a motorcycle probably a good seventy-something miles an hour.

My helmet bluetooth system has a microphone (though I don’t make calls on it). I could SAY, “new route,” or, “yes, please,” or give a voice response to things. But I can’t tap anything. That means I get the old crappy route because I couldn’t tap.

I also need Google nav to do two more things for me in my moto-riding, bluetooth helmet scenario.

Read the street address out loud when my destination is within a few blocks. Right now, she says the destination is coming up on the right. OK, but what number is it? I forgot. I’ve been driving an hour and forgot the house or building number. SAY IT.

Remind me how much time until I’ll reach my destination. Did you find new traffic? Did traffic lighten up? When I’m on the moto, I’d like an update every say 5 or 10 minutes about how many minutes until I reach my destination. That way, I can relax if traffic has eased up or just stay on top of when I might get somewhere.

Can someone please do these things? They might be good ideas for bluetooth users not riding motorcycles too.

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Goodbye, Google Helpouts

Posted By on Feb 17, 2015

Google Helpouts shuts down on April 20th, 2015. I was in the group of the first instructors they approved for the platform. I predicted the failure of the Helpouts platform early and often, but not here. 🙂 I hoped Google would get it together.

First let me say that I appreciated the opportunity to be among the first batch of instructors. It not only lead to me putting video courses on Udemy but then lead to me decide to start my Masters degree this year so I can teach college in my field of expertise (on the side or eventually full time). It was the first domino that made me realize how much I LOVE teaching… and how else can I provide instruction.

While I am grateful for that, I’m also disappointed by the outcome, even though it’s the outcome I thought would happen.

When I look at why any company or startup fails, I am looking at the following criteria:

  • The concept (which often sucks but I think this is a good concept).
  • The execution and UX (which were bumpy but had some good things going for it). This also includes does the product or service rely heavily on people changing the way they do things now. Because people rarely like to change how they do something now, especially if they are telling themselves it works for them.
  • The marketing (which was close to non-existent from what I saw).
  • The user response (which seemed to range from abusive to teachers to thrilled people who used it with some frequency).
  • The competition (which is vast from the point of view of easily-accessible online education but not vast from the perspective of live video-based possibly-paid help).

In this case, you have working against Helpouts:

* Competition. I am still more likely to read discussion forums and watch YouTube videos than pay someone to help me over video. Yes, Helpouts worked for some of you. I didn’t do a Helpout on singing lessons (though I could have) because posture is too important to singing. I need to be WITH someone and really take in everything they are doing to do it right.

And when you don’t require someone in person, will forums and YouTube videos suffice? What about posting to Facebook asking people how to do or fix something? Forums, videos, and Facebook are great especially if you want to get a lot of different ideas on how to do something.

I knew about Helpouts and *I* didn’t use them. I went to local cooking classes. I watched videos on installing that accessory on my motorcycle. I contacted tech support and waited for answers. I asked the guys at Orchard Supply Hardware the best way to do it.

* Execution, UX, and Natural Human Behavior. Helpouts required a new behavior, and that’s one of the hardest things to overcome in any new product or service. “People need us, but will need to learn a new way of looking for help, asking for help, and (potentially) paying for help to get it.”

I see Craigslist ads for people saying basically, “OMG please help me right now with Axure,” which is the software on which I train people in real life, online, and through Helpouts. So people are hitting Craigslist before they’re hitting Helpouts.

There were also serious UX problems. I created an hour-long Helpout that Helpouts consistently booked as 15 minutes. I once had Helpouts charge someone for three hours at $90/hr. They FREAKED out at the charge to their card, and I ended up with NO Helpout (cancelled out of fear of the charge) and spending a LOT of time being customer service (because they were sure I charged the card, I had their money, etc…).

Years ago, there was a wave of angry eBay sellers who hated eBay so much, they were going to sell on a site called Bonanza. You probably haven’t heard of it. You’re not shopping online at a place you never heard of. So why sell where your audience isn’t shopping? Sounds like wasted time and potentially wasted fees if you’re charged to list item or have a “store.”

Bonanza is unlikely to get people to drop their eBay and Amazon habit and start shopping there. Helpouts wasn’t able to get people to drop their other habits of pursuing help, so it didn’t become someone’s new habit.

Which is also because of…

* Marketing. For the most part, nobody knew about Helpouts. Google didn’t do a Google job in making sure they knew about it. Google definitely has the power to get Helpouts in front of anybody using Chrome, Android, Gmail, Google search, or other Google products. Someone looking for a how to on YouTube could have been shown messages that a live trainer is ready to help with this topic. Without “going there,” how will people even know about this? I know Google did a little, but if they had done “enough,” it might not be shutting down.

I also knew marketing was a major afterthought when I saw two things:

1) Google seemed to expect us teachers to spread the word (as the main method of marketing). We were given codes. We were given contests. We had to let people know about it. Hey, you’re freaking Google. You tell people about it!

Bonanza did this too. You’ve never heard of it. That’s because they told sellers YOU promote it. You tell people to come to your Bonanza store. Unless your product or service is naturally viral in some way, don’t expect what are basically your customers to do your marketing.

2) My lovely green hoodie that I love so much didn’t say Google. But more importantly, it didn’t have a URL. I think one main thing we’ve all learned about marketing since 1996 was get your URL on stuff so curious people know where to go to check it out. The hoodie said Helpouts (whatever that is since it had no slogan), no URL, and what looks like a waving dude grabbing my butt. 🙂

That’s not helping visibility or awareness. To me, it shows me what kind of attention Google is giving the visibility and awareness of Helpouts. If we send instructors cool cards and a nice hoodie, THEY will spread the word for us.

Bonus problem: competition for your instructors plus the marketing “problem.”

If you want ME to market it and send people to Helpouts, but Helpouts takes a cut, well why should I send people to Helpouts? Why not send them to Hangouts or Join.Me or something else, and work out payment before or after the session? The main advantage of Helpouts was: I KNOW I will get paid. Working with people directly, I have to worry that they will stiff me, which is solved by getting them to pay up front. I have new people pay up front and recurring students pay before or after, though many now pay for “Session Packages” up front and we work against their pre-paid package.

Udemy handles this interestingly. If I send someone from my website or URL to my Udemy video course, I get 100% of the income and Udemy takes NO cut. If they come from browsing the Udemy site, Udemy takes a cut. If they come from an affiliate link, the affiliate and Udemy take a cut (and I end up with very little). That would have been more enticing for Helpouts… let me use your platform but let me keep the money when I bring the customer there. That’s MY customer.

If you build it, don’t expect me (your customer) to market it. I have no horse in the race of your product’s success. I was doing OK before you and will do OK if you go extinct. Don’t expect me to be as dedicated as you are and promote it with all my might and budget.

IN CONCLUSION, to me, this is unfortunate. Google had the platform built, the teachers checked out, and people willing to give time and expertise for free or paid. Google had Google in its pocket to potentially make sure everybody knows about this. This SHOULD have gone better.

Perhaps we can try this again someday when it has a fresh plan behind it. It needs a major marketing plan to ensure visibility and awareness that can lead to traction and adoption. Without that plan, what’s the point?

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There has been a lot of confusion lately over the Facebook Messenger app and what it wants to do once it’s on your phone. There are blog posts and reports saying the sky is falling, the permissions are insane, and everybody should uninstall it or never install it. There are blog posts and reports saying no, that’s a hoax, it’s really OK, go ahead and install it.

As an Android fan girl, I read the permissions for the Android app.

Interestingly, Facebook has named their install file “orca” as in killer whale. I’m assuming they are hoping it’ll kill Google Hangouts, Google Voice, and your phone’s text messaging and calling. Because it wants to be all of those things… the killer (whale) app.

It’s all there in black and white, no need for he said/she said.

This is an easy one to determine. We don’t have to wonder whether alarmists are right or mellow, unworried people are right. And you are welcome to install it or not. But you should know to what you are agreeing to give Facebook access (that they don’t have access to now). For example:

  • A log of your past phone calls. Why does Facebook need to see who I’ve been calling?
  • The ability to dial my phone for me. Well, I can do that myself nicely, thanks. How about you just tell me the number.
  • Sending, receiving, reading, and editing text messages (SMS and MMS aka multimedia messages aka pictures you and others text each other). Facebook wants to see those and send them for you. Thanks but I don’t need any help there.
  • All the Wi-Fi networks I’ve logged into. Why?
  • Keep my phone from sleeping. Well, that sounds like a serious battery drain. Why would you want to do that?
  • The ability to download files to your phone without telling you. OK, what? What is so important that you need to download files AND not tell me?

That’s just some of the permissions that make me uneasy. You might dislike other permissions once you read all of them.

I uninstalled the app a few weeks ago. I don’t miss it. I have a shortcut on my home screen to the mobile web page for Facebook messages. That’ll work fine. Anybody who needs my attention faster can email, call, Google Hangout, or text. It’s not like you can only reach me via Facebook messages. I could never use that again and reach people just fine.

Beware of Orca

It’s important to read permissions. I have uninstalled other apps when they updated their permissions. I remember when Skype wanted to turn my wifi on when it felt like it and “Draw” over everything else. I uninstalled.

Sure, you might say what’s the point. Internet privacy is like airport security… it’s a lame story, so why bother. Go ahead. I understand that as an Android user, Google knows everything. But I don’t need Facebook to know everything. I can control that. That’s what I’m choosing to do.

What do you want to teach Facebook and future companies about what they can do inside your phone or with your information? Jeez, this article doesn’t even TOUCH what Facebook could possibly down the road do with all they collect about you. Could they then let advertisers advertise to you differently because Facebook notices you keep calling certain businesses? I don’t even want to imagine.

Killer Whales. Not known for being nice.

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Kama and i

Posted By on May 15, 2014

I can’t wait until the Google dictation software built into Android starts adaptively learning based on what I say and type, not based on what everybody who uses Android says and types.

I love Android. In a big way. I love talking to Google and having it type stuff. But I’m doing that less and less because what it gives me back is so ridiculous. It should know better.

I dictate punctuation.

When speaking into my Android devices comma I like to use good punctuation period It’s important to look as clever as I sound exclamation point

The problem is that from crowdsourcing from I don’t know where, saying comma normally gives you “kama” and “I” in the middle of a sentence gives you one, sad, lone lower case i.

How? How does that even happen? How many people are saying “comma” and actually mean “kama” when dictating in English? How many people say “I” and mean a lower case i?

I hope Google will hurry up and fix this. It’s embarrassing.


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Google Helpouts goes live today, and I’m very proud to say that I was selected to be one of the first trainers / providers.

What’s a Google Helpout?

Like their website says, Helpouts are a place to, well, get help! Using the Google Hangout system, trainer and trainee will be in a live video call. Tools like screen sharing, remote desktop, and Google Drive help out. Learn computers, guitar, cooking, take a yoga session, and more… all through Google Helpouts.

We get to decide if Helpouts are paid or free. I am starting out with free Helpouts for two reasons. One, get some students and hopefully good ratings. Two, see what kind of demand my sessions have and how much time they’re taking. Then determine what it makes sense to charge, if anything.

And at the end of your session, you get to rate your instructor. Great ratings help in Helpouts search of course, so be generous and honest. 🙂

Google Interviewed Me Personally For Each Submitted Helpout

Before you think that Google gave power to a bunch of randoms to teach things they may barely know, please know that’s not the case. Every time I submitted a Helpout, I had to schedule a video chat with a Google staffer. He asked about my background. Education. Qualifications. Achievements or awards. Do I blog on this topic. How long have I been at this.

They even consider if you are “camera friendly” and what your background is. He did NOT like the background in one of the conference rooms at my then day job. And he thought my built-in webcam was blurry. I’m happy to improve those things.

Anybody trying to list under the Health category is getting even way way more scrutiny. So I think Google is trying their best to do this right and only give you friendly, helpful people who are advanced in their field.

That being said, I’ve already found one douchebag troll idiot who is a provider. I don’t want to name names, so for now, I’ll just say don’t be afraid to leave a douchebag a bad rating. Hopefully that’ll help weed bad apples out. So far, he’s been a douchebag around the private Google Plus community Google set up for trainers. 1 jerk out of 530+ people in there is still pretty good. 🙂

What Are My Helpouts?

I’m starting with three. Photoshop (mostly aimed at beginners), Axure (aimed at anybody who wants to learn Axure), and Android devices (aimed at anybody who has one or is thinking of getting one, and might need help learning the tips and tricks of mastering Android). I had a fourth one where I wanted to do another thing I help people with in real life… rewriting their online dating profiles. But Google rejected that for now. I don’t think they had a good place for it among categories, and I wonder if they felt it was getting into a “personal counselling area,” though I don’t mean for it to be. Oh well! Three’s a great start!

Or share with friends with my handy shortened URL:

Come check them out, and schedule some time with me if you need help!

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Google Dictation’s Bad Kama

Posted By on Oct 22, 2013

Categories: Mobile

Tags: android, dictation, google, mobile

That’s not a typo.

I’m an Android fan girl. I admit it. I love Google’s dictation feature. I can hit a microphone button on my keyboard, and dictate usually about 2 sentences at a time into any app or screen. I can write emails, text messages, Facebook updates, fill out web forms… I love it and use it a lot.

When you speak, Google will show you one or more possibilities for what it thinks you said. You can pick one, cancel out, or try speaking again.

So if I said, “I’m going shopping for eggs comma coconut milk comma and yogurt,” (because I am freaking serious about my Oxford Comma), nearly all of Google’s choices will replace my comma punctuation mark with the made up word “kama.”

How does that happen, and how is that not fixed, even when reported on various Google product boards? I’m assuming the dictionary is crowd-sourced based on what people choose as the right/closest choice… because somewhere along the path of time, a comma became written out as “kama.”

Such a frustrating user experience. I either have to correct the commas, write without them, or, well there is no or. I’m not sending someone a sentence with “kama” sprinkled around it.

I look forward to when these dictionaries are specific to me and learning MY voice. If I say, “Comma,” you should write “,” only.

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Call To Action Below The Fold

Posted By on Jun 26, 2013

I recently signed up for something at Google. My web design mini agency is joining Google’s Engage programme.

At one point of the signup process, this was my screen (before scrolling down). Click to enlarge.

ScreenHunter_23 Jun. 12 09.58

Great! Now what? Where’s the call to action (CTA)? I had to scroll down to get to it. And I’m on a 32″ HDTV as a computer screen.

This is a great example of why you may want to put your CTA above and below your giant map… just in case it ends up below the fold, and at first, I see no way to continue through the process.

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Tell Google To Do Your Laundry

Posted By on Jan 24, 2013

Categories: UX/UI

Tags: features, gmail, google, suggestions

Recently, my boyfriend became the next of zillions of people who freak out when they accidentally delete a draft in Gmail, and realise that it’s gone forever. It’s not in the Trash. Google didn’t ask first if you wanted to delete it forever. It’s just gone.

I Googled that problem, and found there was a page on Google where you could specifically say you want Google to change that. Not sure why they’re waiting for enough people to stumble on that page. It seems like a good UX idea to just do it. But when I hit the page, I noticed something odd (click to enlarge):

ScreenHunter_29 Jan. 07 16.58

One suggestion you could choose was “Have Gmail do the laundry.”

My first impression was, “Someone at Google is tired of getting suggestions for Gmail, and snarkily wrote that as if to say, “Do you also expect Gmail to do your laundry?” ” Now, who knows why that’s there. Maybe someone just thought that was funny. My first impression was not totally funny. It was that someone hates getting suggestions.

I guess if you want that, you can go here and choose that one.

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Google+ Presses The Reset Button

Posted By on Nov 25, 2011

Categories: Social Media, UX/UI

Tags: google

I was one of the first users on Google+. I was around when it seemed to only be Robert Scoble, and people saying it was nearly 100% men. I did my best to get into it, but never fully did. I felt like it was just people talking about Google+. Well, that got boring quickly, and I mostly stepped away.

I just logged in to see if I’m missing anything. I clicked on my Stream. It showed me my own posts, and many were months old. It had all of my circle names. I started clicking on them. Nothing. I added a friend to my circles. Then I went to my circles page.

It said I was only following the friend I just clicked on. Everybody else was gone. It was nearly 100 people. Gone. Well, it wouldn’t work if I woke up and found that Facebook unfriended all of my friends.

Has anybody else had this experience on Google+? As of now, I’m not re-adding anybody. I’m under the impression that I’m not missing anything.

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