Archive for December, 2011

Living in a Mobile Bubble

I’ve been so entrenched in learning the mobile paradigms over the past few months, that I suddenly realized I’m living in a mobile bubble. I have come to the stark realization that most companies don’t get mobile. I don’t think it’s that hard or a long way to go, but I can see it’s not happening yet.

Lunch with my wife yesterday was a perfect example. It was a sub shop (that I love), and they had advertising cubes on the table. I picked one up, and was briefly excited to find a QR Code on the bottom. I immediately thought, “Wow, these guys are addressing mobile!”, until I actually scanned the code. The URL was a link straight to their home page. OK. I followed the link on my phone. The page opens and the main content is one single graphic, but at least the navigation and header are not. If you have a smart phone, you would know that you can’t scroll the page easily by swiping a big graphic, especially when the page/graphic is loading. So to scroll I had to carefully swipe the obligatory right “social media” box to scroll the page to find out there was nothing below the huge picture. The whole experience was disappointing to me. So lets enumerate the mistakes here:

  1. The QR Code
    1. It contained only the link to the home page. Huge opportunity lost. How are they tracking users coming from the code? They are not. No query string parameters, no redirection/click-through.
    2. No reward for scanning the code. Does this company use email promotions? Why yes they do. Did they give me some incentive to scan any of their QR codes again later? Nope.
  2. The web site
    1. The site is not mobile friendly, yet they made an effort to get me there on a mobile device.
    2. The navigation menus on the web site rely on hover. There is no hover in mobile.
    3. Big graphics load really slowly on mobile networks. Abandon the 1990’s, come to the present. One big picture might look good, but it’s not functional. If pretty pictures sell your food, why bother with mobile devices and QR codes?
    4. Of course the site isn’t formatted for mobile devices. It’s a fallacy to think that because it renders OK on the newer mobile browsers, that forcing the user to pinch-zoom to read anything is acceptable.

This brings me back to my bubble. I probably have unrealistic expectations of how companies are using or embracing mobile. The information on how to do this well is out there. Why aren’t companies finding it? Is it that the technical audience knows these things, but the marketing audience does not? Or is the mobile customer base really that small, and the companies just don’t care at this point? I think in this case they must care if they made the effort to put QR codes on their tables. So maybe I’m in a bubble, expecting these things because it’s what I’ve been immersed in for the past few months. Maybe normal mobile users don’t have that expectation. Maybe next year companies will get mobile.

Android AVD Problem

If you move your user profile off of your c:\ drive (in Windows 7 x64 in my case), Eclipse will no longer be able to start the Android emulator (AVD). It gives the following error message in the console:

PANIC: Could not open:  C:\Users\dave\.android/avd/myAVD.ini

This issue has been documented here, and also a few solutions. The solution that worked for me was to make a symbolic link on the command line to the directory that actually contains the AVD settings:

mklink /J "C:\Users\dave\.android" "D:\users\dave\.android"

Now when Eclipse asks for C:\Users\dave\.android it is redirected to D:\Users\dave\.android where this directory actually exists.

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Lost Standard Toolbar in Outlook 2007

I didn’t realize how much I use the tool bar in Outlook, but once it was gone, I felt crippled. I have no idea why I lost the toolbar. Corrupt file maybe? Even when I went into the Customize Toolbars dialog box, it was gone:

Missing Toolbar

My colleague Brian Cecile found the solution:

  1. Close Outlook
  2. Open your C:\Users\usernamehere\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Outlook directory
  3. Rename the file outcmd.dat to outcmd.dat.old
  4. Restart Outlook

Standard toolbar restored. Likely any other toolbar customizations you may have done are now gone/reset.

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