Will someone please explain to me the issue with writing in the passive voice? I know that it’s wrong. Every English teacher I’ve ever had said so (though the most critical proofreader was always Microsoft Word).

It seems that the proliferation of the passive voice in my writing is due to trying to sound like I write well. Passive voice ads a bit of mystique and flow, though I’m sure there are many writers that would argue otherwise.

Maybe it was the pressure in high school to write more descriptively, which perverted my writing into “flowery” instead.

The Internet isn’t coming up with a compelling reason to abstain from the passive voice; does anyone here have a good reason? I understand active voice assigns responsibility for an action, but isn’t there a case (or several) where passive works well?


A comment on the link to my last post on LoopInsight made me remember something I always told customers at the Apple Store when I worked there.

“What you’re getting from Apple is the store and the support system the stores bring with it.”

My episode with Google/Samsung highlights the importance and difficulty of excellent customer service, and just how much of a difference that makes. Had my incident been with an Apple device any time within the first year, I would have been given a replacement device and left the store with a working phone that same day, no excuses, policy BS or arguments. Even AppleCare’s phone support would have shipped me a replacement phone to ensure that I spent as little amount of time without a working phone as possible.

Android phone makers may offer faster phones, or cooler features, but they can’t compete on customer service. You won’t find Apple listing their awards from Consumer Reports every year for the last 12+ years on the spec sheets, but you feel and experience it every time you walk into the store or call AppleCare with a problem.

It’s a new era of computing. Samsung and Google are treating their Customer Service issues like it’s 2003 and my Dell computer won’t boot up. Two weeks without a computer in 2003? Ok, I can manage that. 2 weeks without a phone in 2012? You’ve already screwed up by not recognizing the critical nature of the very device you manufacture/advertise. Even worse, it’s better for Google financially to ensure that I’m constantly using a device and that it’s central to my life.

These are difficult and expensive lessons to learn for any retail organization. Google had better get their act together if they expect to be taken seriously.

I purchased a Galaxy Nexus for my girlfriend directly from Google specifically to avoid dealing with the carriers and their history of BS. 21 days after the phone arrived, it stopped charging. I tried every troubleshooting step Google, Samsung and the forums offered. The consensus was that the phone was defective as many users on the forums had to have them replaced by their carrier. So I call Google and they state that their return/replacement policy is an abysmally short 15 days; after that I have to deal with Samsung. Remember, all carriers now have 30 days to return/replace defective devices, and even after that point, if the device is truly defective, I’ve known many to replace it anyway.
So I call Samsung. Their solution: send it in and I might have it back in 2 weeks. This is not a viable option as you can imagine being a 20-something without a phone these days is impossible. In response to my concerns, Samsung suggested that I should pay T-Mobile for a loaner. As if this was T-Mobile’s problem. (Another brilliant solution was to purchase new batteries and run them down until I was able to send the phone in).
I thought this was absurd, and being accustomed to Apple’s level of customer service, I went back to Google to plead my case thinking that surely they’d see reason and do what was right. I was again told no, I had to deal with Samsung since it was 7 days beyond the replacement period. I was then informed that Google had received word from Samsung that my device was out of warranty (mind you they hadn’t even laid a hand on the device; I also have the email documenting this).
At this point, I went nuclear. I gave them two options: As the retailer, send me a replacement device and I return the defective one (I can’t tell you how many retailers have been flexible on policy when the product is quite clearly defective). They do that, I’m a happy customer. I even tried convincing them that they’re losing money when my girlfriend doesn’t have a working phone; she can’t search or use any other Google services and see all those ads.
OR they can send me back to Samsung, at which point I do a charge back on my credit card for being sent damaged/defective goods, and cease to use any and all Google products because if Google can’t stand by the product I paid $330 for, how can I trust they’ll stand by the products I’m using for free?
Google told me there was nothing they would do.
In the end, I learned a few things: American Express’ customer service is awesome when settling disputes; the de-Googlefication of  your life is easier than you’d expect; and sometimes it really is better to go with the Devil you know and buy it straight from the carriers.
If Google wants to Play (see what I did there?) in the retail space, they’d better learn to handle customers like me.
My girlfriend’s iPhone 5 will be arriving soon.

1) Don’t write in the passive voice.

2) The consensus of the commenting horde is this: Despite Google’s sterling reputation when it comes to their products and features, Customer Service is not one of their features (pay no attention to the seemingly mislabeled phone number for “Customer Service” on the Google Play store). One should not expect Google to treat them like a paying customer when one has just paid several hundred dollars for a non-working device.

3) Proof read; because 5000 readers just saw your really stupid typo. (Related: Don’t write blog posts on an iOS device without making sure autocorrect picked the correct version of a word.)

4) Jim Dalrymple is pretty awesome at headlines.

5) I’ll never get tired of the adrenaline rush that comes with the 15 nanoseconds of fame when linked to on the Internet.

6) I don’t have thick enough skin to blog.


It’s the most successful Kickstarter Project of all time. The seemingly first successful “Smartwatch” promises some great functionality in an attractive package. The engineering appears to be solid and the team behind the watch knows what they’re doing, having created a Smartwatch that worked exclusively with Blackberrys but for obvious reasons didn’t really see widespread adoption.

I won’t be buying one.

For iPhone, it requires an app to run at all times and if you go into another app or forget to go back into the Pebble app it won’t work, and even then, it’s limited functionality, e.g. it doesn’t display text messages on the device because Apple doesn’t make that information available through Bluetooth. It does CallerID, remote control functions and some other things that I don’t really care about. Mostly I wanted the text message read-out.

For Android it’s better because it’ll do all the things it promises. Too bad I have an iPhone.

I was also a little annoyed that the team is purposefully not disclosing most of the limitations for iPhone in the video or description, but buried in an FAQ that they posted in the updates, and they’re still really vague. This of course might be because the product is a prototype, doesn’t exist yet, and is still evolving, but at this stage, with more than $2 Million in backing, I’d hope they’d firm up their feature-set, otherwise they’re going to risk saying “Yes” to too many requests (they’ve already added water-resistance but have to re-engineer the device to do so), thus delaying the production of the watch.

I’m honestly expecting Apple to also do something in this space by modifying the iPod Nano to act as a companion to the iPhone through Bluetooth 4.0 which promises much better functionality.

Still, an interesting product space to watch.

A Manifesto For Creativity In the Modern Era

Tech Dirt. Pretty good.

I usually don’t disagree much with MG. He calls it like he sees it. So when he posted an article about a new app that the CrunchFund is making an investment in, I took the time to read up on it.

In short: Wavii is a news summary-making-time-saving-RSS-Killing app that lets you follow topics (Hi G+) and automatically culls content for you to read during your busy day of rushing between coffee house meetings and lunch meetings and more coffee house meetings with Startup Founders begging for dollars.

Looks cool, especially since the apps I’ve tried in this space have fallen short. By a lot (looking at you Summly…or was it Summify? Whatever).

I download the app. Launch it.


Facebook Login Required.

Now, I don’t have a Facebook anymore, but when I did, I was still hesitant to connect apps and services to it because of privacy concerns (and frankly I value my data and information more than Facebook does). Now my personal stance might be extreme, but I deleted the app, a little bummed out that I couldn’t use it, but went on my merry way, griping silently that if I ever created a business, the last thing I would do is put a middleman between me and my customers, especially a juggernaut like Facebook that has all of the bargaining power. It seems like a foolish business decision in the long run, but I can see the appeal to do it at first.

Then I read MG’s Twitter response to the more vocal individuals without Facebook. And this marks the first time that I have genuinely felt MG is being a petulant child (which really, I must not have been paying attention at all). Instead of explaining why a news app REQUIRES any sort of social connection to function, let alone even why it needs access to a person’s trove of data in Facebook, he simply hurls sarcastic remarks at the faceless Twitter crowd, amazed that people have different opinions.

Ok MG. I’ll bite. Yes, I realize a large majority of the internet surfing population uses Facebook. I understand it’s attractive for a small startup to use it as a tool to make it easy to sign up users. But please explain to me WHY it’s the ONLY option? Why isn’t there an alternative method that thousands of other small apps use to sign up members just as easily?

Point is this: if you want my Facebook credentials, there needs to be a value added beyond just posting what I’m reading on my wall, and no way in hell should it be the default.

There. No need to be sarcastic. No need to mock us with your faux-indignation that people outside of Silicon Valley might not really want to rely on Facebook for everything.

I’m sad I can’t use Wavii. It looks good. The promise of the service is appealing. But I recognize that it’s a choice to use the app. Unfortunately, Wavii requires that I make two choices: use Facebook, then use Wavii. And I’m sorry, there’s just not enough value in Wavii to entice me.