Illusory Follies Andrew Flanagan's Blog

17Sep/100

Twitter: A great way to complain

I was pleasantly surprised recently to find a practical use for Twitter. I'm no Luddite, but I rarely find a lot of value in Twitter that I don't find elsewhere. I'm following a lot of tech writers/bloggers/developers and that can be good for keeping up with developing trends, but I digress.

The practical feature: Complaining.

We had a miserable experience at the local Red Robin recently (South Hill/Puyallup, WA). Dirty, long wait, poor waiter service, etc. I posted this on Twitter:

Just got back from #RedRobin -- disgusting.... that place has really gone downhill. Too bad.

Notice the tag on RedRobin. I was surprised when I fairly promptly got a reply on Twitter:

@andrewflanagan Yikes! Can you please send us the details/location at [email protected]? Thanks for your help.

The beauty of this is that anyone searching on Twitter for RedRobin will find my tag and see my post and my rotten rating. I sent an email, they replied (CC'ing a huge number of Red Robin staff) and I was asked if I wanted to talk to the manager.

This is pretty good service. My blog (yes, this one) is not exactly all that busy and I could have posted here for weeks without anyone at Red Robin being aware of it (or even if they were aware, they wouldn't care since it's not exactly all that visible).

So Twitter gives you visibility. Not just to a company, but to that company's customers. I suppose it's a little bit more like picketing a store instead of sending a letter to the management (which is more like a blog entry).

I also recently had an issue getting approved for our Bizspark account with Microsoft (you get free software -- essentially an MSDN subscription -- as well as help with your start up). Again I complained, and again I got a quick response (which was very civil). Interestingly, when I followed up via email, I was asked (somewhat rudely I would say) to remove my complaining post from Twitter. I complied, since they did fix the problem, but I'm somewhat surprised by just how much visibility I got.

What are your thoughts? Will the visibility last? Any similar experiences using Twitter or other social networks?

14Sep/103

Death of a Monitor

I have two of these at my desk:

I had for a while (since 2006 or so) and was really pleased with it. Good contrast and color, HDMI interface, very snappy. The controls are very awkward, but after initially configuring it, it was good to go. I purchased a second monitor intending to have a perfect matching set. The second monitor turned out to be a slight hardware revision that include a curved bottom bezel and a number of.... features that were quite annoying. First of all, unlike the first monitor of the same model number, it will not display it's "native" format of 1920x1200 so I'm stuck with it in 1920x1080. Not terrible, but awfully weird.

About a month ago, it suddenly started acting up. It would randomly just lose the signal and then a little later snap back on (almost like it had a loose connection). This condition went from slightly annoying to unusable within a week and then it stopped displaying at all at 1920x1080. I was able to get an image by reducing the resolution to 1280x768 but it had weird red overlays. My assumption was that it was failing and I bitterly unplugged it and went back to using one monitor. There went my productivity.

But thankfully, although I'm still mystified, the story has a good ending. I plugged my monitor back in a week ago and low and behold, the news of its death was greatly exagerated! It's been working flawlessly ever since. I think it may have been driver related but I'm just thankful it's back.

At my full-time gig, I also have dual monitors, although the overall resolution is a lot lower. I've found that it's a huge time saver... One side is my code, and the other is the dev web site. The problem is that now I'm spoiled; I tried to work recently on my 1360x768 laptop and felt like I couldn't see anything.

How about your setup? Do you use two monitors? If so, can you live without your second monitor once you've used it for a while?

Lifehacker has some great tips and links to tools for dual monitor setups.