Barnes and Noble (@BNBuzz), can’t you at least try?

5 people in line waiting to pay at Barnes & Noble Bellevue vs 1 chatty cashier. 1 Nooklehead standing over at the Nook stand doing nothing while we are all trying to give the store money.

I finally called the store and asked whoever answered to come up front and help, they said they were busy with a customer. When it was finally my turn the clerk spent 1 minute on the script trying to get me to sign up for their loyalty card — not understanding that the last thing I want to do is buy more books here.

So many things wrong here. As a start, give the idle Nook dude a square reader and let him do check outs on the Nook. Giving him something to do, a chance for me to handle a Nook, and completing my transaction more speedily.

Evernote you are dead to me

I’ve used evernote for years. I’ve loved having my notes everywhere, on every device. They’ve had great coverage of devices. Their UI is a little long in the tooth but still I have loved it.

And now I need to walk away. Twice in the last 2 weeks I’ve experienced unavailability and data loss. On one of my iPads, Evernote refuses to show me any note created past July of this year. No idea why. Uninstall didn’t help. Plenty of storage free on the iPad. Just a mystery.

I might be able to live with this, but even worse one of my notes has just gone missing. Probably the single note I refer to most often as it has some network config info in it for one of my setups. It is just gone. Not in the trash on any device. Just gone. Thankfully I had not sync’ed on my Android phone and was able to copy the missing note before I sync’ed and past it somewhere else. Once I synced it was gone on that device too.

I have no tolerance for data loss. Moving everything out today. Wish there was an note editor that fronted github on all platforms.

UPDATE: I followed through. All my content is out of Evernote and account deleted. I really really really can’t tolerate data loss. All my notes are in github now with an additional replication system in my house so that i am protected against machine failure and github failure. and i have a couple machines syncing with github so i should have version information available in multiple places.

Beware the OSX Migration Assistant

When I got my Retina Macbook Pro, I used the migration assistant to transfer over all my docs and apps. I had used it in the past and it had worked fine.

But this time, my experience was different. First, it struggled with the amount of picture and music content I tried to transfer over, something about 200G+ of data didn’t make it happy. I ultimately just copied over my iTunes and Aperture libraries manually.

But the bigger problem is that the migration utility refused to copy apps and docs from the “John” account on my old macbook pro to the “John” account on the new machine. It mumbled about the account already existing and demanded I used a new account.

And this ended up being a disaster. I’ve suffered thru a couple months of a constant chown/chmod fest and I have given up. Nothing wants to run, and sudo doesn’t even reliably solve.

So yesterday I nuked the whole SSD and put a fresh install of Mountain Lion on the machine. I downloaded Mountain Lion from the app store, used “Lion Diskmaker”: to put it on a usb key, rebooted in rescue mode, formatted the SSD, and reinstalled Mountain Lion. And then reinstalled the 50 or os apps, reconnected mail/cal/contacts to all my accounts, reinstalled plugins for xcode, aperture, safari, etc, copied over my Aperture and iTunes library and docs from a network store, and am pretty much back up and running.

Lesson learned. I’m not the only person in the world that has hit this, here is a “good description of the core problem”: and the many ways you can try to solve. One wonders why anyone thought this was a reasonable way for the migration assistnat to act.

3 failed attempts to install Win8 preview and I am giving up

Sigh. I’ve downloaded the install 3 times, generated a new license key (I hope they don’t run out), and twice tried to do a clean install off a USB key and once off a burned DVD. Every time install fails partway thru with a error 0x8007025D and some text about being unable to write files. I’m doing an install to a new disk with 1.3TB of free space, and the drive seems to work fine under win7. I don’t want to do an upgrade install. Searching around the Internet doesn’t seem to bring any relief, some people have encountered similar issues when installing in a VM but I am not doing that.

On the plus side my Lytro arrived so I will go play with that.

UPDATE: some nice MSFT folks have been helping me thru the problems and I have a working win8 install now. Will do a separate post on that, but just want to thank the MSFT folks for working with me.

Three failures — Kindle, MacBook, Google Docs

Yesterday was a brutal technology day. First, I wedged my Kindle between my rear and a chair and heard a nasty “crack”. My Kindle display has a nice shattery image on it permanently now. Sad. I had to open a paper book last night. New Kindle arrived today (thanks to Amazon Fresh trucks), and because the content is all stored at Amazon, I had my full library back working in less than a day. It sucks that e-readers are fragile (well I do weigh >200 lbs so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at the Kindle’s failure, it is not sold as a stadium chair), but back and running fast.

Second, the battery failed on one of our Macbooks which is about 3 years old. But of course Apple replaced for free at the Genius bar. Because they replaced the motherboard a year ago under some dubious warranty claim after we dropped the machine, again for no charge. Really, why would a regular human buy a machine anywhere else?

Third — every week, I update a task list document on Google Docs for a mission-critical subcontractor we use, print/save as PDF, and email to the sub. It is not a complex doc but it does need to be right. Last night Google Docs kept failing during the PDF save process (which is also how to print from Google Docs, so this is a pretty important function). After many tries it worked and I forwarded the downloaded PDF to my sub without examining it. Disaster — the PDF was for the version of the task list from January 24! The sub got all the wrong materials and did the wrong things totally, I had to scramble today to patch things back up.

I use the intrinsic functions in google docs to datestamp my doc, and the delivered PDF had the january 24 datestamp in it, and the content in the pdf is completely different than what is in my current doc on google docs, and i assume is a faithful representation of the state of the doc on january 24. how did google deliver me this pdf? My best guess is that some part of the PDF rendering process failed badly in the Google server farm, and they restored from some earlier version, and the restore picked up old queued files. I really have no idea how they could have delivered a two month old PDF rendering of my doc.

Corruption of data and inability to faithfully print documents are pretty damning problems for an office suite. I really can’t imagine continue to using Google docs with this class of problem. I haven’t bothered to file a bug with google yet because, well, delivering a product with this level of data corruption for basic scenarios is pretty much a deal breaker for me.

Commendations to Apple and Amazon for creating systems and businesses that are incredibly customer-focused, even when products fail. The Google Docs failure may be an isolated incident, but I do wonder if Google has this same level of customer focus.