Introducing TimeTube

I don’t know if you’re a big YouTube fan or not, but a fascinating way to browse YouTube is through TimeTube.  TimeTube lets you put in a key word (like “Mormon”) and up pops a timeline of all videos submitted that use that keyword.  You can drill down by double clicking anywhere in the timeline, or by using the zoom feature at the top.  You can play around with other features as well, you can even set up an account for yourself and create your own timeline (I’m creating one for my Blog).  But if you follow the link below you can check it out.  It will be interesting to watch, over time, the increase in the number of YouTube posts about Mormonism, particularly since the recent encouragement for Mormon members to speak up online.

Or, if you’d like to just build a TubeLine of your own, go here: 

I hope you enjoy it.


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Buying the iPhone 3G

Buying the iPhone 3G

In case you wondered why there was no post on Friday, it’s because I spent all day standing in line to buy the new iPhone 3G – 10 hours to be exact, and the whole process taught me something I wanted to share.

First, here’s how it went. 

Friday morning I went down to the Salt Lake Apple Store (at the Gateway).  I’ve never done one of these stand-in-line-on-the-day-of-release things before, but I’d heard that the last time the iPhone was released the lines cleared out in only a couple of hours.  Since I’ve been a huge iPhone fan, and am passionate about technology, I thought it would be fun to go hang around other like-minded people, thrilled about the release, and try to get it on the first day.  In fact, I was in it as much for the experience, as for the phone. 

I got there at about 7:00am, an hour before the store opened.  Already the line was around the block.  Still, I was optimistic that the line would go fast and I’d get an iPhone.  And I found myself easily engaged in conversation with the people that were around me.

So I sat on the sidewalk and responded to some blog comments on my MacBook Pro (plugged into my pocket PC phone for internet connectivity, since the iPhone won’t let you do that :-(,  until just after 8:00 when the line started moving.  Initially we were moving at a steady clip, about 15 feet every 10 minutes or so.  But then all of a sudden, about 30 minutes into the process we simply stopped moving, and that would be how it was throughout the remainder of the day.  On average, we’d move about 5 feet every30 minutes.

Using my iPhone I found that there were problems with AT&T activation and the Apple’s iTunes server, and realized that the west coast was coming online as well, and they were likely slammed.  Still, I figured Steve Jobs would whip their IT department into shape in a hurry and increase their bandwidth to deal with the apparently unexpected surge of people. 

In retrospect, I should have known, if you release the iPhone 2.0 software the day before the release of the new phone you’ve spent millions to hype, and this time for a world-wide release, and all of them would have to access iTunes at the same time – it’s a recipe for disaster.  Combine that with the terrible decision to force iPhone customers to activate the phones in-stores, and it’s even worse.   

We were told that in-store activation was taking more like 30-45 minutes per customer instead of the 10-15 minutes they had expected.  45 minutes!  That’s a ridiculous amount of time to stand at the cash register trying to give Apple $300, especially for a company as image/experience conscious as Apple.

But, and this is the important part, we had only been there a very short time when we had Apple representatives moving down the line handing out coffee for those who were interested.  Later when it got hot, they handed out slushies, and throughout the day they walked around, distributing water, and even sunscreen, and collecting garbage.  Sometimes they’d come around and just ask how you were doing.  They’d bring around the new iPhone and let you hold it, which helped remind us all why we were there and infused us with renewed excitement.  Then they’d walk around the black iPhone and the white one, so that your mind was focused on which you wanted more, and not how long you’d been waiting.  They did an amazing job at making it a positive experience.

Long story short, after standing in the sun for 6 hours, which is a painful process; I was finally admitted into the store.  There was a crowd of Apple employees at the door, cheering as each group was admitted.  I have to admit it, that simple act really segmented the experience, and almost made you forget what you’d just gone through.

Inside, I was rapidly directed to a representative who said they’d help me buy my iPhone.  He too was cheerful and upbeat.  .

I gave him my information, drivers license, credit card, told him what iPhone I wanted (16 Gig, Black) and about 15 minutes later he told me: “There appears to be an error when I try to put your order through, it has something to do with your AT&T account, so we’ll need to have you call AT&T”.

Frustrated, I pulled out my Verizon phone (both my iPhone and my AT&T PPC phone were out of batteries), and called AT&T.  Once I got a rep, I handed the phone over to my Apple rep.  Almost 30 minutes later, my rep handed me back my phone and said the unthinkable (I could tell it was killing him)…

“I’m sorry, there appears to be a problem with your AT&T account, and we’ll be unable to help you here, you’ll need to go to an AT&T store.”

I was less than pleased, and requested that he try again, telling him that I wasn’t about to give up so easily after having waited almost 7 hours.  “Sure, he said, I totally understand, and I am so sorry”.

Another long story short, without further request, he tried 5 separate times, calling a new AT&T rep each time, spanning a period of THREE additional hours before he finally got an AT&T rep that could fix it.  And even then, it wasn’t fully fixed, they couldn’t eradicate the partial order that had gone through before, so it showed I wasn’t eligible for the $100 iPhone discount.  Undeterred, my apple rep gave me a $100 Apple gift certificate and used that to help purchase the phone.

So after 9 and a half hours (6 outside, and 3 ½ inside), I walked out of the store starving, tired, sunburned, and frazzled, but deeply impressed with the representatives at Apple. 

I got to my car, turned on the AC, and breathe for a bit.  Then pulled out my phone and tried to call my wife to tell her about the ordeal.  The call was dropped.  I tried another call, and it too was dropped.  In fact three calls in a row (which is really strange, because that’s never happened to me before with my last iPhone).

Sighing, I decided to try to sync with Exchange to check my email that I hadn’t seen for several hours.  Everything synched except my mail (contacts, calander).  Okay, at least I’ll set up my Gmail account to see what my blog comments were.  Gmails Imap servers failed to respond.

Finally I gave up and went home, so disappointed that I haven’t even really touched the phone until now when I plugged it into iTunes to download my music.

As disappointed as I was in the whole ordeal, I couldn’t help but remain impressed with the Apple store employees.

Sometimes I wonder if we, as members, can’t do a better job ourselves, of lightening the often very trial-laden process of conversion, offering comfort, understanding, and help at every step of the way.  It’s amazing how much a difference it makes, when those who surround you, the actual representatives of the church, manifest the very qualities that attracted you to the church in the first place.  As with Apple, I hope that we too, can be far more image conscious – being aware at what role we’re playing in the conversion experience of another.



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