Cingular: raising the bar for clueless marketing

As a subscriber of the service formerly known as AT&T Wireless, I have to give Cingular props for not fumbling the technical changeover; my service is just as good (or, at my house, as bad) as it was before. The same, sadly, can’t be said for their marketing.

My plan was a promotional deal through Microsoft, my former employer. I have a Nokia 3650 camera phone and a plan that provides me with data minutes, most of which I use in a given month. So how is it that Cingular has decided that I’d be interested in “upgrading” to a free Nokia 6010 that has a tenth of the capabilities of the phone I have now—no “M-Life,” no camera, no Symbian OS?

Either Cingular doesn’t have access to the data about me which would tell them how to market more effectively to me—unlikely, as my bill now carries their logo—or else they’re just choosing not to exploit it. Dumb, Cingular.

Here’s how to get my business as a cell phone customer: stop sending me condescending direct mail pieces that are based on the premise that my phone is a five year old piece of crap. Show me some cool technology that I don’t know about yet. Tell me how to use the phone I have to better integrate with my life. Direct mail is OK—better than marketing email pitches—but it would be better if you did it in an unobtrusive way, say a blog. Just a thought.

More Mac OS X command line goodness

MacOSXHints: Set system and network prefs from the Terminal. There have always been command line tools for setting prefs in Mac OS X Server; this article shows you how to get access to the same tools by installing the free Apple Remote Desktop client, and walks you through a few sample uses.

This always drove me nuts on Windows XP. If you’re going to have a command line in a system at all, it would be nice if you could do some useful things with it—especially on remote machines.

It’s not just in the red states

Boston Herald: Newton mom ousted for taping gay acceptance ‘lies’. In the middle of an optional student assembly that was put on as part of Diversity Week, a mom in the Boston suburb of Newton decided she didn’t want what she was hearing from the stage, so she started videotaping the discussion—presumably so she could have a record of what she called “propaganda, false information, and lies.”

Lots of nasty bits here. First, the mom, Kim Cariani, had already kept her kids home that day. —Which itself brings a question: why home? The article says that kids who didn’t want to attend could go to the library or the computer lab. Was Cariani afraid that being in the same building with the speakers would contaminate her kids? —Anyway, Cariani wasn’t objecting because of her children. This was definitely a woman with an agenda.

Second, the moment that supposedly pushed Cariani over the edge was when one of the speakers on the stage first discovered that he was gay, in particular describing the first moment he was attracted to another man. Was this the “false information and lies” that Cariani wanted to have a record of?

Third, what was she planning to do with the tape exactly?

I think there’s no question that the principal at Newton North High did the right thing. In general preventing taping of students without prior parental permission is an intelligent thing to do, and especially in an assembly like this where the kids who want to learn, or who may be coming to grips with some feelings of being “different” themselves, could get scarred by feeling that they were being watched by disapproving eyes.

This overzealous parent wasn’t thinking about the children, though. She was thinking about her own agenda, and to hell with anyone who stood in her way.