Friday, December 28, 2007

UPS - brand destroyed in my mind by the last mile inefficiency

What do I think of a company that efficiently transports a 1lb package for me 2800 miles coast to coast from Sunnyvale . CA to Gaithersburg MD but fails in the last 3 miles to do justice to its brand by making a efficient delivery ?

This is the second time that this happened to me that the driver never came to my door and reported an exception in the UPS tracking system that no one was home.
The first time was a a few weeks ago. The UPS driver had left no note even though there was someone present the whole day. I had briefly admonished my daughter for not paying attention to the door bell and believed UPS was right. Called them and requested they hold the package for me to pickup. UPS customer service is 1 800 PICK UPS ( 1 800 742 5877 ) but you will not find it easily on their website. The next day I drove from my work in Virginia on a riany day to reach the UPS center at 7.03 only to be told they are open till 7 p.m ( I agree this sounds a lot like whining ). The next day i wait till 8.30 a.m when they are open and go to pick up the package. I won't tell you how inefficient the system is at this center but the experience left me wishing I would have been better off if they had a robot to assist. Anyway that episode forgotten- I await another package again from UPS. I am impressed that their phone system calls me and tells me to expect the package the next day and the driver cannot leave it without a signature. I am not worried- I have taken the day off and can wait for this package.
The delivery day is today. I wait for the package between 8 a.m and 7 p.m . When I leave i tell the kid to be near the front door in case the bell rang. I call from the car to make sure my instructions are being obeyed :).

At 5 p.m I cannot stand the suspense. I login to my UPS account to track the package. I am livid with rage that the delivery has been reported as a exception at 2.32 p.m (THE RECEIVER WAS UNAVAILABLE TO SIGN ON THE 1ST DELIVERY ATTEMPT. A 2ND DELIVERY ATTEMPT WILL BE MADE) I check the door for a slip from the driver - there is none. I ask my kid if the door bell was ever heard. My only conclusion is that the driver had never made it to my door. I search again for the UPS customer service ( Cannot find it on the website and have to Google " UPS customer Service Phone"). The lady handles my call efficiently takes my complaint and tell me I will get a call within an hour. Its 5.32 and i have .5 hours approx before the center closes and this is Friday. I trust her and wait. The Phone rings after 30 minutes and the voice on the other side is apologetic and says the matter will be taken up with the driver and his supervisor. COuld I come and pick up the package. I agree and o there to pick up the package and the problem is resolved.

Now creating this blog post has taken up some time for me . Why am I doing it ? I feel cheated. It seems like the drivers when faced with a package that needs a signature probably do not bother even stopping and checking if the person is at home. It is also possible that no one ever complains- since most packages are just delivered at your door without requiring a signature. I never had a problem receiving packages that did not require a signature.

I am blogging because my feelings are hurt. UPS is a big company . It does not have the need to correct a broken system because what can the consumer do ? Go to USPS ? Insist the supplier use FedEx? I have no choice in what shipping method the seller uses but I pay for 2 day shipping. This does not sound right.

Friends advised me to leave a signed slip and give cell phone number on the door for the UPS guy. Great suggestion.. But if he came to the door will he not ring the bell and find a very eagerly awaiting me bounding from my Twitter screen to go to the door.

If someone from UPS ever sees this blogpost- what am I expecting? I hope they just follow the rules- ring the doorbell , wait for an answer and leave a slip if no one answers. Is that too much to expect.

Interview with Founder of BreakingNewsOn - Michael van Poppel

I chanced upon BreakingNewsOn during one of my trolls on the Twitter public timeline when I first began using Twitter and since then I have been following BreakingNewsOn.. They have been great about breaking the news first. Yesterday I was amazed at their breaking of the Benazir Bhutto Assassination Story and generated a lot of buzz on Twitter. I decided that I should write about them and encourage everyone to follow them. I got in touch with BreakingNewsOn’s founder , 20 year old Michael van Poppel and interviewed him on GTalk.

Shashi: What is BreakingNewsOn ?

Michael: BreakingNewsOn is a "micro-news service" and is specifically aimed at bringing breaking news as soon as possible. I founded BreakingNewsOn on May 20th of this year and its size is growing rapidly. Some more details can also be found at Wikipedia: .

When you follow us you should be aware that we may send out a large number of updates in a short period as stories rapidly develop from multiple sources

Shashi: Do you have a website?

Michael: At this time we are only active on Twitter but a website is set to be launched before the end of the year. It will be very active and focused on breaking news. When necessary, depending on the size of the story, live streams, email alerts, in-depth details and more will be made available. BreakingNewsOn is able to provide live streams to major international news networks such as MSNBC, CNN, Al Jazeera and others.

Shashi: Do you consider yourself a start-up?

Michael: Yes, BreakingNewsOn is more like a pilot. However, we will continue the Twitter service when the website is online. Off course, when it is launched it will be announced through Twitter.

Shashi: Do you have other Twitter ids?

Michael: BreakingNewsOn is the main twitter id at this time.. Our second Twitter id can be found at . It provides live quotes from major press conferences we are following. (warning: massive number of updates during news events). We do have several other Twitter id's which are in a test phase but will not be continued.

Shashi: How do you gather the news?

Michael: We get information we make public straight from news wires such as the Associated Press, Reuters, AFP and others. Additionally, we gather information from official’s sources like the United States Geological Survey and do our own research. We will contact local officials depending on the urgency of the story. Local news networks also contribute to the news brought by us. Because Twitter allows a maximum of 140 caracters per message, we are often unable to credit the exact source.

What makes BreakingNewsOn different from other news networks is simple. We make the news public as soon as possible. When we get credible details of a breaking story we will immediately make it public and gather additional details. "Normal" news sources do often wait for official confirmation and this makes it a lot slower. The method we use is a risky one though. Sometimes the story turns out to be much smaller than the initial reports suggested.

Shashi: What is the biggest exclusive you have had so far ?

Michael: Our biggest exclusive is a stunning one. On September 7th we exclusively obtained the first Bin Laden tape in years. BreakingNewsOn received the full and unedited video before anyone else. The video was obtained through own research. Details and a screenshot were quickly posted to BreakingNewsOn and it was later sold to Reuters. Within minutes after reaching an agreement with the news organization, the video was made available to television stations across the world. Networks in the United States, UK and others interupted their programs to show the first images which were originally obtained by BreakingNewsOn. The first alert on the Bin Laden tape can be found at . Another interesting read can also be found at: .

Shashi: Do you have a blog ?

Michael: BreakingNewsOn ran a pilot of a website in October/November and was later taken offline. The website was immediately a success and a full news website is due soon.

Shashi: What’s your education background - did you learn journalism or are u a techie. Are you a star trek fan too?

Michael: I did not study journalism but the other editors of BreakingNewsOn have; they work for newspapers and international television stations. Yes, I was a "Trekkie" in the past.

Shashi: Once a star trek fan always a star trek fan
Unfortunately, I have little time for movies lately and my interest in the series ran out a long time ago.. In the past I ran a popular website called Sci-Fi Universe which was known to have exclusives on television series.

Shashi: BreakingNewsOn - how does it make money?

Michael: At this time we do not make any money out of it. However, we plan on using some kind of advertisements.

Shashi: Whats your utlimate vision - how do you see this expanding?

Michael: My goal, at this time, is to make the website a success and a credible news source.

Shashi: What do you do for fun?

Michael: Besides BreakingNewsOn I'm always busy - working, school, but I do like to go out with friends as much as I can.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Continuing My Knowedge Quest on Twitter - diff between a geek and a nerd !

My daughter is very tech savvy but she is more responsible with her time than me. She distributes her time between her school activities and reading and writing well so she is not on Twitter yet . When she asks me what the difference between a Geek and a nerd is , I yell for help and Twitter delivers. You will enjoy reading the responses. The answers were intelligent, funny and helpful. I am awed by the people who reponded . If you would like to add the conversation it will be awesome to get your comments.

Matze_Jimdo : haha, poor you. maybe: geek = computer related, nerd = general

markdavidson : A geek tinkers with stuff. A nerd researches stuff. There's a fine line between a computer nerd and a computer geek.

AlbertMaruggi : nerd knows a lot, but can't really find the right application for it and people are a necessary element of this world. How's that?

AlbertMaruggi : Geek knows alot and really can't stop talking about it no matter how hard they try, at parties, at ball games, they are obsessed

davefleet : guess: Nerd = Geek - social skills :)

gdruckman : from urban dictionary Geek= and Nerd=

mklopez : on a descending scale of social skills: geek > nerd > dork

technomom : There's definitely an expectation of social ineptitude involved with nerdishness, too

technomom : Nerds are ashamed of their geekiness? :-)

shelisrael : @tetesagehen I guess we're not joined at the hip one the geek/nerd issue. We're going to confuse the child of @

scottstead :

TeteSagehen : a geek is a nerd with social skills

scottstead : geek is a more tech/chic term i think, while nerd i think has a more negative connotation? agree/disagree?

jeffhibbard : my picture is next to both entries in the dictionary :)

callkathy : Geeks have a personality :)

shelisrael : A geek is technical and socially unacceptable. A nerd need not be technical, maybe collect bugs, but he/she is also socially out.

hmason : I tend to go with the definition that geeks are nerds + technology. Dorks are geeks or nerds without the smarts.

rustybrick :

jjgardner3 : thats easy, none

tndaisy1960 : A geek gets things done; a nerd just wishes he could.

rustybrick : geek loves tech stuff and nerd needs tech stuff ???

What is Swag ? Twitter: More Relevant Than Google

I have been an Engish speaker for over 4 decades but Slang in the US is another story ( I was born and brought up in India) So when I hear people talking about 'SWAG" My curiousity gets me. I ask on Twitter what "Swag" means and I these friends responded quicly and gave me the exct meaning:

@Jestutripup Schwag: bag of marketing goodies or junk you get at conferences, which include pens markers highlighters pads stickers tshirts etc

@ColleenCoplick i'm familiar with SWAG, which are all the freebies & giveaways from wherever. is sCHWag something else or just a diff spelling?

@mkrigsman Schwag is free crap you get a trade shows

@PreppyDude Schwag = free stuff that companies give out for self promotion
at 11-12-2007 23:31

@rslux Swag = "Stuff we all get" = tradeshow giveaways

@WillBrown, schwag is the misc free branded pens, notebooks, etc you get when you go to conventions.

@dacort Schwag is slang for sweet, or cool. At least that's how I use it. I don't know where it came from. It also indicates free gifts.

@danieljohnsonjr I think schwag refers to the goodies you get at a conference, etc., usually in a goodie bag.

@sgetgood schwag is another term for trade show trinkets and trash -- the stuff companies give as promos

Thanks everyone. I have removed responses I got from my friends whose updates are protected.

here is what Google shows me ( 8.9M results)

How Twitter people encourage you

I had told all my Twitter friends that I was moving jobs within Network Solutions and got some awesome encouragement in the form of direct messages, comments on the blog and links from their blogs.

Today as i opened a package left at my door i was awestruck to see ,Tojosan had sent me a awesome gift to encourage me in my new position.

I cannot thank him enough. My family had a good time looking at these and i will take them to work with me in 2008

Friday, December 21, 2007

Frozen Peas Fund

Susan Reynolds is the nicest person you can meet online. Not so long ago she announced that she was being tested for breast cancer and all of us had to pause and ponder. Why does this happen to nice people?

Please join the Frozen Peas Fund group on Flickr. Donate for breast Cancer Research at

Here are some people who have been working hard and contributing to this effort. I am sure there are many others I may not have mentioned or do not know about:

AnnOhio is a tireless do gooder. Her post on Frozen Peas Friday says she has sacrificed even her regular Friday Avatar ! She is so full of cheer and humor.

Connie Reece was instrumental in creating a Flickr group Frozen Peas Fund and has great post on Community vs. Cancer
Laura Fitton of Pistachio Consulting helped set up the Frozen Peas Feed

Chris Brogan has included links and his post will tell you how the Frozen Peas Fund this unfolded.

Michelle Wolverton -Chelpixie dia a lot of work for the blog and also posted at

LoicLemur's post on Frozen Peas

Tojosan posts his wisdom on Thoughts of a middle aged programmer

Thursdayb Posted details of the Frozen peas

Pho Trade will donate for every peaavatar posted

AlphaBunny photos has utterz comments on Frozen Peas

This is a amazing story of the community coming together for a good cause.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dc media makers meeting photo at internet2 in dc . More pictures coming

The DC metro has an answer

I fired away my previous post while still riding the Metro yesterday. As I was riding back home I saw this sign in the Metro which explains the "No Eating Rule". That makes sense . I am curious from you if your city has a Metro - is there a "No eating Rule" . if there isn't have you seen any rats in your Metro.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Dont eat in the metro

I think the rule is really dumb. I say this as the girl in the seat in front is eating pretzels. Fine those who litter the metro heavily but people snacking its a essential activity.
Of course last year a teenager was handcuffed for eating french fries on the metro- come on we live in a civlized world and we have better things to do than stop people from eating.

I think my metro eating rule violater has finished her snack.

My few cents.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

How to give better presentations

As Twitter was down today I was exploring both Jaiku and Pownce when i saw this comment from "Joanbit" on jaiku

'Com millorar les nostres presentacions:". Thanks Joanbit Excellent slideshow

Friday, December 14, 2007

Mobile post sent by shashib using Utterz Replies.  mp3

Language police and Twitter's 140 words

I was really struggling to put my thoughts into a Tweet and as I kept misspelling words so that they would fit I was fervently hoping my daughter wouldn't read this post.If she did my authority to tell her to dot her "i"s and cross her "t"s would just disappear :). Then I had horrible thoughts of the punishment the "Language" Police would inflict on me. Of course the consoling thought was that if I created a new word it may find itself in the Washington Post like w00t did I braved myself and asked this question on Twitter.

Do you think the language police will be after me because I have to have typos to make the message fit the 140 character Twitter limit?

And here is the support I got:

hoovers @shashib, the language police will have to read you your Miranda rights in 140 characters or less
mariana_66 @shashib: i'm always spelling creatively on twitter & txt - i have a lot to say & have trouble fitting it into 140 chars! It's good practice
conniereece @shashib As a member in good standing of the Grammar Police, I can assure you we make exceptions for the 140-char. limit of Twitter. :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mobile post sent by shashib using Utterz Replies.  mp3

If only you knew this was not garbage

If only you knew this was not garbage
I don't want newspapers to die. Thats my quality time and sometimes that morphs into family time.
The plastic wrapped package above is today's (12/12/2007) Washington Post. It does not deserve this place. Newspapers particularly good ones(IMHO) like the Washington Post have a place in our life.

About an hour ago as we were having breakfast - my wife, daughter and me had a discussion on how nice the Cookies in the food section looked ( Thats what you can see on the top in this picture). The conversation was going to evolve around how we could make the weekend a fun activity and make some of these cookies.

I am heavily plugged in to the Internet and to me a Newspaper is like a RSS reader. It usually does a good job of collecting news and information and if it doesnt I just move on.

I felt passionate enough on this to stop and take this picture.
Washington Post please do not take this to heart . I am sure the poor soul who threw this paper must have had a million things on his mind.

If you want to read the cookie article go to this link

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

I am not sure how I got this link. But it was on my screen yesterday. It must have been an intervention of positive forces that made me click on the link. The video is inspiring and awesome, in fact I am behind 6 Million people who already viewed this video. Watch and get inspired.

Randy Pausch's Home page is here

He also lead some cool projects for novices / School students called Alice project

Guys like him are the reason why there is innovation, humanity and kindness. hats off to Randy Pausch

Update : Another inspirational link from Jess Kutch: @shashib Saw your tweets on living out childhood dreams, and thought you might enjoy this: ( Great story there too)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sunday, December 9, 2007

"If this is democracy, why do we want it?"

This is a quote from Boris Jordan writing in the Washington post’s Outlook Section today. I totally associate with the experience of Boris Jordan because I lived in Moscow in the early 90’s. I was there from the pre- “Perestroika” days where I experienced the same problems that local people experienced with food shortages, empty shops and no production. I experienced the “country switched from a communist regime to a rudimentary free-market democracy virtually overnight.”

When I first landed in Moscow in 1989 as an employee of a USSR-Indian joint venture restaurant the dollar was worth .70 kopeks officially and sold on the streets for 15 rubles. We left India with essentials like toothpaste, soaps etc in large numbers in our luggage which were in short supply in the USSR ( I am using the USSR because the Soviet Union was still intact). In those days the typical commute was a 5 min walk to the Shukinskaya metro. The Moscow Metro was very efficient and we made the commute from our Metro to Metro St 1905 in 15 minutes. The metro was amazing it cost 5 kopeks for entry and you could exit anywhere. During peak hours the metro frequency was 40 seconds to 3 minutes.

Here is a YouTube Video that shows a line but there were no lines during those days.

Going back to from Boris Jordan Washington post Outlook article the article writes about why the Russians think that Putin is good and have voted for him again. In have not been back to Russia after 1992 but it is evident that the last 15 years have been bad for Russia Boris says “Hyperinflation and the government's default on its obligations destroyed their savings and pensions. In the first five years of the decade, Russia's gross domestic product fell by more than 50 percent while prices rose 6,000-fold.”

My salary was paid in equivalent currency so my first salary was 160 rubles and when I left Moscow in 1992 it was $160,000 rubles. Most Common folk did not have the luxury of having their salaries linked to inflation. During those days retirees had to start selling their personal belongings to survive. Retirees made statements like "At least under the Communists I wasn't hungry," Crimes and lawlessness became a big problem in Moscow. One day while I was at work my apartment was burglarized and my TV VCR and music system were stolen.

What Putin did according to Boris Jordan w’ crack down on the excesses of the earlier era and return stability -- and a measure of dignity -- to Russian life. “
“Russians support their president because he did something rare for a politician: He delivered. Russia today is a resurgent economic power, with the tenth-largest economy in the world. Eighty percent of the economy is privatized, according to the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation. And the country is flush with oil revenue, having overtaken Saudi Arabia as the world's leading producer of oil”
I am not a political commentator and will not tell you what is right or wrong but I guess if you ask a hungry man if he wants food or democracy I think he will choose food. That si what the Russians have done in these elections.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Spontaneity of Twitter - Funniest on Twitter Contest

I get a good laugh as I watch the humorous comments on Twitter. This lead me to tweet:- " Who should we vote for the "most humorous on Twitter"? Any Nominations? "

The response to this Tweet was great so it started getting difficult to manage. So the next thing was to make this a Poll. In the interest of not being self promoting I decided to ask help for someone to host this poll. The first offer for help was from @Technomom (She is a real hero - despite having a fall the next day she collected the info and launched the polls). please direct any brickbats at me as I am solely responsible. We got 33 nomnations and at last count 80 people had voted.

There were no rules. It was all for fun. Just made some logistic decisions. No limit to number of people you could nominate. Closed the nominations at mid-night . I am sure we missed several good and funny people who didn't get the word on time (My apologies for not preparing well for this :)

I may have started a cat fight among the nominees all in good fun. Some twitters made me laugh the whole evening with their novel methods of campaigning. A few even started making their cabinet if they won ( Who will be VP, SOS, Karl Rove etc)

The Poll is at http;// Vote as this is light hearted fun. The polls close on Sunday at mid-night.

Plug for Glenda H

And I hope you will make time to vote for GlendaH at

Update: Should We have a monthly "Funniest on Twitter" Contest and instead of names poll fun lines? People can submit their own one liners or others one liners and everyone can vote on the funniest one liner? If you think its a good idea please comment here.