Monday, June 13, 2005

The Microsoft recall

Here is a letter that I received from Microsoft recently:



Click for larger image

Think about how sad this is. We live in one of the most technologically advanced civilizations on earth. And the letter comes from what should be one of the most technologically advanced companies on earth. And yet...In other words, Microsoft has a very simple problem: Microsoft wants to send a new power cord to a certain group of Xbox owners. However, Microsoft has no easy way to do that. Microsoft does not know who all the Xbox owners are or where they live, and has no easy way to get a message to these people even if it did.

There are several ways to imagine this system getting better:
  1. We create a single, nationwide database that contains the name and address of every citizen. When you move, you change that single record. Every magazine subscription, bill, recall notice, etc. automatically reroutes to your new address.

  2. All devices become intelligent. All devices communicate regularly on the Internet with their manufacturers. That way, if there is ever a recall notice, the device automatically knows that there is a problem and communicates the message to its owner.

    Right now it is hard for us to imagine something inert like a baby seat becoming network-enabled. But then when you think about it, why should something as important as a baby seat be inert? Why shouldn't it be smart enough to know that it has been installed correctly, and that the baby has been strapped correctly?

  3. Using the nationwide database, we create a new communication channel that is specifically used to transmit important pieces of information. One problem we have right now is that every communication channel we use is overwhelmed with junk. People's mailboxes overflow with junk mail, their email boxes are full of spam, and their phone lines are jammed by telemarketers. As described in this post, we need some sort of communication channel that is free from junk, is inexpensive like email and has guaranteed delivery and acknowledgement of receipt. Do we have a way to create a communication channel like that?
Or do we have a way to make existing communication channels reliable, to clean out the junk, and to make delivery guaranteed?

Comments:
I am guessing that somewhere in system an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) process was used and Brain and Bram were mixed up. Besides the dot over the i, the two last names are similar in appearance... at least to a computer.
 
In response to #1, isn't this what the current administration is trying to do and privacy groups are trying like heck to stop?

Follow up: did a quick Google search and came up with these for your perusal:

Bill Summary and Status

Wired article on Real ID
 
Why is at all Microsoft's responsibility here? If you bought an expensive and complicated piece of equipment, what is your responsibility to keep up to date on possible technical issues?

Instead of MS being responsible for pushing information out to millions of people, it would be far more efficient for MS to be responsible for posting the recall data on a central site that consumers could keep an eye on or self-select into some sort of notification system.

A nationwide database is nothing more than a huge target for abuse.
 
"Why is at all Microsoft's responsibility here? If you bought an expensive and complicated piece of equipment, what is your responsibility to keep up to date on possible technical issues?"

Because the product has a defect. It should be the company's responsibility to sell you a product with no defects in my opinion. And if there is a defect, they should be responsible for correcting it.
Then again if its a POS, people will just stop buying it.
 
"It should be the company's responsibility to sell you a product with no defects in my opinion"
Since man is not perfect, how can he create a perfect anything? Caveat emptor!
 
Information Awareness Office
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_Awareness_Office
 
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