I recently wrote about my My Current Personal Productivity Favorites. Now I turn to my technology productivity blackholes. 

For 18 months I felt like Comcast was my best friend based on how often I talked with them. Long story short: I suffered intermittent connectivity lapses that were only resolved when I persuaded Comcast to build another “node” to serve my home. That said, they always were courteous and tried to help and over the years, their customer service and QoS has improved.

I am also pals with Sprint Nextel, which has been my wireless carrier for 10+ years. Through various models of Palm Treos and now a Blackberry, I have had problems big and small. Again, customer service is generally pretty good though I occasionally get reps who are unfriendly or demonstrably don’t follow their training.

Yet one more connectivity sinkhole: flakiness in my 8×8 VOIP phone line. Moments of silence during calls, dial and other end never rings, cut-off in middle of calls.

Then there is Microsoft. Need I say more? With MS, I have to separate chronic and acute problems and separate errors of commission and omission. Examples, in text not as a graphic, from the consultant’s two-by-two matrix:

  • Chronic / Omission: Crashing apps, too many examples to enumerate. Boot time. Inconsistency within and across apps (Software example: keystroke combo required “tab” among open files for Excel is “CTRL-TAB” but for Word is CTRL-F6. Hardware example: scroll wheel does not work in Windows File Explorer). Likely combination example: auto-dialer in Outlook sends pulses instead of tones to my phone with some regularity
  • Chronic/Commission: intrusive updates
  • Acute/Omission: time it takes to get a new PC up and running
  • Acute/Commission: the ~40 hours I lost with MS phone support and on my own fixing a faulty update.

For all its fame and good reviews, I find that Mozilla Firefox crashes way too often. For me, at least 2x / week.

One ought to be able to use connectivity and software and rarely experience a problem. I hope that in my life time, I can look back to this moment and think “how quaint”, just like I do about all the cars on the side of road in my childhood with flat tires, overheating, or other breakdowns.