Scrabble iOS App – Lost In Translation

Players of the popular Scrabble iOS app are up in arms over an upgrade. As the BBC reports following a switch in management from Mattel, the mark owner, to EA, a gaming house with a known preference for profit over user experience, customers have taken to Facebook in complaint.

Revised gameplay, a change of dictionary licensor, and deleted game history are the key causes of upset:

“Who wants to play it in six languages?” player Helen Hawkins, from Kent, asked the BBC.

“I’ve been playing for over four years, I had 5,000 games on my statistics, I’d won 71% of them, I had my best scores recorded – and now it’s all lost.”

In consideration of overall user numbers the player niche that requires a multilingual app is likely narrow. Indeed, it seems reasonable to deduce that the multi-lingual option was added to widen the addressable market and reduce the perceived maintenance and management overhead of many apps in many stores.

My own opinion on this is the old saw that translation is not localisation. If you want to build a loyal userbase defined by a common language localise for the culture, not the linguistics. I could harp on about this for hours.

As for the loss of saved games, well, that’s another bad decision that EA made in porting the app to their own platform: migration of user data is less of a hassle if you don’t bother doing it; everyone loves it when the product manager saves time and money.

A spokeswoman for Mattel told the BBC the firm was sorry for any upset caused.

“We are sorry we weren’t able to please everybody,” she said.

“The number of people playing has also increased significantly since the update.

“We produce the board game but we’re not experts in electronics.”

Of course the number of active daily and monthly users has increased, the upgraded app enjoyed plentiful instore marketing as an Editors Pick. These words are hardly a comfort to Ms Pissed Off from Kent, in fact they’re a red rag to a bull.

While I don’t decry the clean slate approach to rebuilding and relaunching any product, in this case the wholesale disregard for customers who had paid for an adfree version of the old app is hard to stomach.

These things are for sure: an EA game producer bamboozled a Mattel product owner with bullshit about faster horses; for many customers the app no longer does what it did when they bought it; we can expect a lot more of this kind of thing.

Mailbox app for iPhone – a very short review

Mailbox Email App for iPhone - Swipe to DeleteFinally got around to trying that Mailbox email app today. You know, the one that everyone was on the waiting list for because the company’s servers couldn’t cope with demand if they let the masses in.

As you probably know, Dropbox bought Mailbox for some ridiculous amount of money, the scaling problems got sorted, and as of mid-April the velvet rope has been lifted and we’re all allowed to use the damn thing.

Mailbox didn’t suit me at all, it’s Gmail only and it doesn’t ‘do’ portrait view. That means I can’t work with the email accounts I use every day and I can’t thumb-type with my big hands in their most comfortable position.

Were I a happy hack, or techblog commenter, those two failings alone would be enough to launch the invective troll-rocket of a blistering attack on a crap app, frothy company, and overpriced acquisition – doesn’t work for me, must be worst thing ever.

But Mailbox is actually rather good. It’s a kind of client lite for people who hate email and those folk who want to stay up-to-date but dig a UX that’s all hey-let’s-deal-with-that-shit-later. No doubt both segments love those long and short swipe actions that whizz work away from their timeline.

You see, the genius of Mailbox is its ability to convince the user they’re being productive when all they’re really doing is deferring tasks and avoiding action.

And that is the essence of Management.

The Shortest Quora Answer With The Most Upvotes

Silktide founder Oliver Emberton keeps a running score of most upvoted Quora answers. For the most part it’s a fascinating and insightful list of user-created content.

I say ‘for the most part’ because yours truly has finally made it into the big time. As of writing I’m sitting pretty at number 35 with what is, to the best of my knowledge, the shortest Quora answer with the most upvotes.

Shortest Quora Answer With Most Upvotes

Eight characters. No spaces.

Remember, folks: upvotes ≠ quality.

Espedair Street

“It felt like faith, like revelation: that things went on, that life ground on regardless, and mindless, and produced pain and pleasure and hope and fear and joy and despair, and you dodged some of it and you sought some of it and sometimes you were lucky and sometimes you weren’t, and sometimes you could plan your way ahead and that would be the right thing to have done, but other times all you could do was forget about plans and just be ready to react, and sometimes the obvious was true and sometimes it wasn’t, and sometimes experience helped but not always, and it was all luck, fate, in the end; you lived, and you waited to see what happened, and you would rarely ever be sure that what you had done was really the right thing or the wrong thing, because things can always be better, and things can always be worse.”

Iain Banks Espedair Street

Repurposing a Red Telephone Box

Clearing out some old photos as I migrate to a new laptop and found some images of a much loved village phone box repurposed for the mobile age.

British Telecom K6 Red Telephone Box with Defibrillator

Under the auspices of BT’s adopt a kiosk campaign this K6 model red telephone box is now owned by a tiny West Sussex parish. For the collective benefit of the somewhat aged community it now houses an Aivia defibrillator instead of a payphone.

When one considers the alternatives, such as being shipped off to be refurbished and sold as a naff shower stall or novelty greenhouse, this seems a fitting outcome for a former rural lifeline.