Why we participate in support

Why do you participate in user support?
Have you ever wondered why any of the people who answer support questions, and write documentation take the time to do it?

This is a followup to a post I wrote about dealing with disgruntled users.

Firefox is a tool of Mozilla to influence an industry toward open standards, and against software silos. By having enough market share in the browser world, web-developers are forced to support open standards.
Users will not use Firefox if they don’t know how to use it, or if it is not working as expected. Support exists to retain users. If their experience of using Firefox is a bad, we’re here to make it good, so they continue to use Firefox.

That experience includes user support. The goal is not only to help users with their problems, but remove any negative feeling they may have had. That should be the priority of every person participating in support.

Dealing with disgruntled users is an inherent part of user support. In those cases, it’s important to remind ourselves what the user wants to achieve, and what it takes to make their experience a pleasant one.

In the end, users will be more willing to forgive individual issues out of fondness of the company. That passion for helping users will attract others, and the community will grow.

Who uses voice control?

Voice control (Siri, Google Now, Amazon Echo, etc.) is not a very useful feature to me, and wonder if I’m in the minority.

Why it is not useful:

  • I live with other people.
    • Sometimes one of the people I live with or myself may be sleeping. If someone speaks out loud to the TV or phone, that might wake the other up.
    • Even when everyone is awake, that doesn’t mean we are together. It annoys me when someone talks to the TV while watching basketball. I don’t want to find out how annoying it would be to listen to someone in another room tell the TV or their phone what to do.
  • I work with other people.
    • If I’m having lunch, and a co-worker wants to look something up on his/her phone, I don’t want to hear them speak their queries out loud. I actually have coworkers that use their phones as boomboxes to listen to music while eating lunch, as if no-one else can hear it, or everyone has the same taste in music, or everyone wants to listen to music at all during lunch.

The only times I use Siri are:

  • When I am in the car.
  • When I am speaking with others in a social setting, like a pub, and we want to look something up pertaining to the conversation.
  • When I’m alone

When I saw Apple introduce tvOS, the dependence on Siri turned me off from upgrading my Apple TV.

Am I in the minority here?

I get the feeling I’m not. I cannot recall anyone I know using Siri for other anything than entertainment with friends. Controlling devices with your voice in public must be Larry David’s worst nightmare.

Reply to Walt Mossberg – Native apps vs web apps

I recently listened to an episode of the Ctrl-Walt-Delete podcast, in which Walt Mossberg and Nilay Patel talked about web browsers vs native mobile apps. There was something Walt said that I have to comment on, because I disagree with it, and a tweet just isn’t enough. 🙂

When explaining why most people use native mobile apps, he argued that the main reason is because an app (when done right) offers a more focused experience, He cited Google Maps as an example.

I don’t think it’s that complex. I think it has more to do with how fast you can get there. If I want to use Google Maps, it’s quicker and more convenient to tap on the Google Maps icon than it is to tap on the browser, then pull up a list of bookmarks, and tap on the Google Maps bookmark. That has nothing to do with the experience of using the app.

I’m not saying that’s the only reason people use native mobile apps. I think most other differences have a minor effect on the user’s decision, and how fast and convenient it is to get to the app is probably the biggest factor.

Do you need to install Flash anymore?

If someone asks “Do I need Java“, my answer is a) most people don’t need it, and b) to find out if you need it, remove it. I did that many years ago and haven’t needed it. I’ve been hoping to reach the same point with Flash. I’d try disabling it, but there are two sites I regularly visit, which sometimes require Flash – Youtube and Facebook (for videos). Last year, Youtube switched to HTML5, and recently I found that Facebook started using HTML5 for videos, so I decided to try disabling Flash again. This time, I was pleasantly surprised at how many websites no longer use Flash.

Using Firefox on a late 2013 Macbook Pro, here is a list of sites I’ve found work well with Flash disabled:

  • Youtube
  • Facebook
  • Thestar.com
  • Instagram
  • CNN
  • CNET
  • Vimeo
  • Dailymotion

There are still some holdouts. In my case, I’m really affected by CTV Toronto News requiring Flash. I also wanted to watch an episode of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, and that required Flash. Others:

  • BBC
  • Hulu

I emailed CTV, and here’s the response:
At this time we currently do not have any future plans to support HTML5. Regardless, your comments have been forwarded to our technical team for review.

I’ve decided to switch back to thestar.com for local [Toronto] news, now that they’re over their Rob Ford obsession.

And with that, I can keep Flash disabled. Every now and then I may require it to view some web content, but for the most part, I don’t need it.
Flash has been thought of as a must-have plugin, but after disabling it, that wasn’t the case for me. A lot of the web has already switched to HTML5. Try disabling Flash for yourself, and enjoy so much more battery life!

My Installed Add-ons – Keyword Search

I love finding new extensions that do things I never even thought to search for. One of the best ways to find them is through word of mouth. In this case, I guess you can call it “word of blog”. I’m doing a series of blog posts about the extensions I use, and maybe you’ll see one that you want to use.

My previous posts have been about:

For this blog post, I’ll talk about Keyword Search.
In Firefox, whenever you do a web search from the location bar, it will use the same search engine as in the search bar. Keyword Search allows you to use a separate search engine for location bar web searches. This is really helpful to people like me who mainly use one search engine (for basic web searches) and others for content-specific use cases.

To set your location bar search engine, go to the add-ons manager.

  1. Beside “Keyword Search“, click Preferences.
  2. Beside “Keyword Search Engine“, select the search engine you want to use.

You can install it via the Mozilla Add-ons site.

My Installed Add-ons – gTranslate

I love finding new extensions that do things I never even thought to search for. One of the best ways to find them is through word of mouth. In this case, I guess you can call it “word of blog”. I’m doing a series of blog posts about the extensions I use, and maybe you’ll see one that you want to use.

The first one is Context Search, which I’ve already blogged about.
The second is Clippings, which I’ve also blogged about.

The third is gTranslate. gTranslate is pretty simple – it translates text you’ve selected using Google’s translator. I find that I use it most on Facebook. Sure, Facebook has a built in translation tool, but that uses Bing, and I find that the Google translator works better.

On that note, if you prefer a different translation tool, there are probably other extensions that do the same thing, but use your preferred tool.

To translate text on the fly, just select the text you want to translate, right-click on it, and move the pointer to the context menu item called “Translate“. It should auto-detect the which language you are translating from, and show you the translation. If you want to change the language being translated, you can do so using the sub-menus.

You can install it via the Mozilla Add-ons site.

But if you need to translate some important documents or specific texts I can recommend you to use these translation services London. I used them and got high quality translations.

My Installed Add-ons – Clippings

I love finding new extensions that do things I never even thought to search for. Like I once went through the US name directory. One of the best ways to find things is through word of mouth, tho. In this case, I guess you can call it “word of blog”. I’m doing a series of blog posts about the extensions I use, and maybe you’ll see one that you want to use.

The first one is Context Search, which I’ve already blogged about.

The second is Clippings. Clippings allows you to keep pieces of text to paste on demand. If you frequently answer email messages with one of a set of replies, you can paste which reply you want to use using the context menu. In my case, I take part in support forums, which means I have to respond to frequently asked questions, typing the same answers frequently. Clippings allows me to have canned responses, so I can answer more support questions in less time.

To save a piece of text as a clipping, select it, then right-click and go to “Clippings”, then “New from Selection“. You’ll then be asked to name the clipping and where to save it among your list of clippings. It supports folders too.

When you want to use that clipping just right-click on the text area, then go to “Clippings” and select the clipping you want to paste.

Clippings is also very useful in Mozilla Thunderbird.

You can install it via the Mozilla Add-ons site.

My Installed Add-ons – Context Search

I love finding new extensions that do things I never even thought to search for. One of the best ways to find them is through word of mouth. In this case, I guess you can call it “word of blog”. I’d like to start a series of blog posts about the extensions I use, and maybe you’ll see one that you want to use.

The first one is Context Search. Context Search is one of those extensions I think should be part of Firefox. Context Search allows you to choose which search engine you use for each search. If it’s a word you aren’t familiar with, you can choose the Websters search engine. If it’s an acronym you aren’t familiar with, you can choose the Acronym Finder search engine.

Without the extension, when you highlight text then right-click, the menu will contain an item to search your preferred search engine for the text that is highlighted. With Context Search, you are instead given a list of your installed search engines, so you can pick which one to use. The search results will open in a new tab. I find myself using it more than the search bar.

Here’s a screenshot:

You can install it via the Mozilla Add-ons site.