Dear Google: It’s not working

Just a quick follow up to my previous post. Yes, communication works better than no communication to let the steam out of the microwavable bag of opinions, rants and whining that is an Internet forum.

But you also have to get real. And repeatedly saying “We’re working on it, but we can’t tell you what’s wrong or when it will be fixed or why we decided to launch a service that will screw up all your calendars” is not really an answer.

If Google were a little more transparent about what it’s doing here — letting us peek behind the curtain at the real, live, concerned humans who I’m sure are in fact working on a fix — they’d incur less damage to their brand, and less wrath from their customers.

If this were an IOS problem, I’d think they were actively trying to discourage iPhone and iPad users so they’d switch to Android. But it’s a Mac thing. I’m not sure the Mac platform by itself has all that much impact on Google.

Apathy? More likely. But meanwhile, if the Forum comments are any indication, Mac users of Google Calendars are switching to iCloud, which seems to actually work.

Dear Google: Talk to us

Dear Google:

A couple of weeks ago, my Mac’s Calendar app started to go crazy. Duplicate events littered my display. Multiple reminders started popping up in long columns on my screen. As I clicked to dismiss them, another swarm would surface. It was like playing Whack-a-Mole.

It turns out I was not alone.

Google Calendars, which we use to manage our shared events around here, was introducing a new syncing system and let’s say there were (are) still a few bugs. Big, hairy ones with long feelers and self-satisfied smirks on their mandibles.

And there were a LOT of angry customers on the Forums talking about this. The rants started escalating, the rhetoric was flying. Everyone was getting more and more irritated.

Fortunately Google was actually listening. Two of your customer service folks were monitoring the web and took the time just to say, “Hey, we know about it and we’re sorry. We’re working on it. Hang in there.” Suddenly the problems seemed less severe and the rabble (us) were calmed.

There’s a huge lesson to be learned here — for Google and all of us. Communication works. When Katherine and Alice posted on the forum, even if they said “We’re not sure when this is going to be done” we knew someone was listening and we weren’t just baying at each other. It calmed things down and bought Google a little more time. As huge as your system is, I can imagine teams of coders working frantically at their cubicles to fix this and not really knowing how long it will take. But keeping us up to speed as they progress toward a fix is truly helpful.

We like Google and we like our Macs, and we’re not a bunch of unreasonable jerks. But when things go wrong, it’s damned annoying. To paraphrase Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy, “We’re working here!” We don’t want, can’t afford, to have our day interrupted constantly. We just want to get back to our lives.

So, Google (Alice and Katherine, I’m talking to you), keep on keeping us in the loop. And I’ll try to remember to do the same with my own clients. Thanks.

(Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment.)

A note for Mac users

Notational Velocity iconI have been using a little piece of software that is mind-blowingly simple and easy, and because of that, has begun to make a big difference in how I work.

It’s called Notational Velocity. And it is — get this — FREE.

It’s elegant. Brilliantly simple.

I use Quicksilver, so I’ve assigned a keystroke that brings NV up instantly so it’s just there when I need it. If I didn’t do that, I would just keep it running in the background (which I do) and use Command-Tab to access it when I need it.

It takes notes. You type stuff into it. I use it to capture ideas, draft emails, make little text documents I want quick access to — say a list of things I need to add to over time, to take or transcribe or organize meeting notes, to jot something down I want to refer to later, etc etc.

Unlike most text editors, this thing thrives on little bits and pieces of stuff (think Post-Its). But it can also handle much longer text.

You don’t have to save things either. It remembers what you type without your doing anything at all.

It’s so simple you can’t believe nobody’s made something like this before.

Give it a try….for a while. It took me a few weeks before I “got” it.

Awesome little addition to my workflow.