The Travail of Canceling SugarSync: A How To.

[Update: 10/28/16 – Some international users of SugarSync have reported issues using the link I included in this post. Thanks to Bill & JN for an updated link that appears to work internationally as well: https://www.sugarsync.com/account/cancel]

I started with SugarSync many hears ago and I’ve been a paying customer since October 2009 and have been a fairly avid supporter of them.

Over the last year or so I’ve found myself moving away from SugarSync and towards Microsoft OneDrive and Dropbox. I decided to cancel SugarSync and assumed I’d be able to login to my account and quickly cancel…if only I were that fortunate!

One can upgrade one’s account via the website, but you can’t cancel it.

A Partial Snapshot of Plan Details in SugarSync
A Partial Snapshot of Plan Details in SugarSync

Okay, slightly annoying. So how do I cancel? There is no contact info. I can find on the main site but there is a “Contact Us” link in the footer of the support page – that seems hopeful…

Nope, just a mailing address and instructions to use the support site from which I found the Contact Us link.

Screenshot of Contact Info on SugarSync

Fine, lets try searching the help desk (okay, I actually did this before looking at the contact info., not sure why I record this out of order). Entering cancel into the search area returns a link to this article: “Canceling a Paid Account.”

Here is where things get really frustrating. Take a look at the screenshot below:

Screenshot of Cancel SugarSync Help Article
Screenshot of Cancel SugarSync Help Article

Notice anything? Let me highlight three items:

  1. The cancellation department is only open from 10 am to 2 pm (4 hrs.) Monday – Friday. What?!
  2. In step 2 one is directed to “Open this article” and provided with a link, this link leads back to the article you were already viewing.
  3. The screenshot with “Chat with Cancellation Department” button is really great, except for the fact that it doesn’t exist outside of those 4 hours each day! It isn’t greyed out, it simply doesn’t exist.

(Okay, let me rephrase that, there is a chat button down at the bottom but clicking on it outside of hours makes it disappear (and nothing else) AND the button is in a different location than where it is shown in their screenshot)

Great. I’ve now let several months go by, I am no longer using SugarSync but every time I remember to cancel it it is outside of the specified hours or I’m busy. Finally, today, I decided to give it another go.

I happened to notice when I was logged out of the site a phone number for sales questions (1-877-442-1693, there appear to be multiple versions of the homepage, the phone number only sometimes displays). The automated menu had an option for billing so I selected it and was soon speaking with a nice man who assured me he would help me. He put me on hold and then sent me an email which he asked me to check. I opened it and to my surprise saw that he was not going to cancel my account, instead he was just directing me back to the same window:

Screenshot of SugarSync Support Email
Screenshot of SugarSync Support Email

I reached a real person who was responding to billing questions but apparently couldn’t cancel my account.

I’ve typed out this email while waiting for SugarSync’s cancellation department to open for its very limited hours.

I finally got into a chat with a cancellation department representative. After all that they gave me a URL to visit to cancel my account: https://davidshq.sugarsync.com/account/cancel. My guess is that this URL will work for anyone just by changing the davidshq to whatever your SugarSync username is.

I’m also guessing that one can use this link 24/7/365 to cancel an account…but you might still want to go through their cancellation department as they could claim that it wasn’t properly cancelled, etc. and you might end up still being billed.

And thus ends the story of my travails canceling SugarSync (I hope).

Bill Gates and Mosquitos

Bill Gates has a long history. I remember reading a biography of him when I was a teenager. At that point Gates was both respected and hated. Microsoft had an iron fist on much of the software market in so many ways and used its weight to crush opposition. Since then Gates seems to be a different man – a much more caring and philanthropic man.

It may have been an article in Newsweek I read a few years back that talked about Melinda Gates (Bill’s wife) and the significant influence she has had upon him positively in these regards. Whatever the reasoning, I have a lot of respect for what Gates is doing these days in a variety of fields – not the least of which is battling disease.

As part of this battle Gates has launched a “Mosquito Week” on his blog to go alongside the well-known “Shark Week” that debuts each year on television (and which I never watch) in an attempt to raise awareness of the threat mosquitoes pose.

He includes a fascinating infographic which I’ve embedded below. HT to Andrew Vogel for posting it via Facebook and thus bringing it to my attention.

An infographic from Bill Gates on the deadliest animals in the world.
An infographic from Bill Gates on the deadliest animals in the world.

I Want My Music To Follow Me.

Android: WiFi Speaker

When working around the house we oftentimes want to move from room to room cleaning, organizing, resting – but we feel limited because the music is playing off our laptop or stereo system and if we leave the room we won’t be able to hear the song anymore. If it is a laptop it isn’t too much hassle to move it to a new location – but sometimes you need to go back and forth between rooms or floors quickly and it would be silly to carry the laptop dozens of times between these rooms.

The standard answer is, “Go buy a Sonos. Then buy wireless speakers for each room in the house you want the music to play in.” This gets a bit pricey – and Bose and Samsung aren’t offering budget line items either. At least for me, Sonos wasn’t an option.

Screenshot of WiFi Speaker Server running on a Windows 8.1 machine.
Screenshot of WiFi Speaker Server running on a Windows 8.1 machine.

So what else? I’ve tried turning the music up real loud but two problems remain. First, if I enter the room where the speakers are my eardrums scream out in agony and second, at least my sound system can’t overpower the noise of a vacuum cleaner or other electric household tool that insists on making loud noises and which family members always seem to insist on using just as one is sitting down to relax and watch TV or talk on the phone.

For a while I didn’t have a solution…but then my sound system (which I’d picked up at a garage sale for $10) died (due to a mischievous cat loving to eat cables) and I was waiting for my new sound system to arrive (Logitech Surround Sound Speakers Z506)…so I became creative (it isn’t that I actually needed speakers at the moment – but that I don’t like my electronics to be broken…so that when I do need/want to use it, its ready to go) and did some searching around the Google Play App store. I found a nifty little application by William Morrison called “WiFi Speaker.” I installed it on my phone and then another little app onto my laptop. With a few mouse clicks my computer was now sending the audio over WiFi to my smartphone. I turned on Spotify, put in ear buds, grabbed the vacuum, and merrily went about my way.

The application is available in both free and pro versions. The pro version costs $3.99. Yes, I bought it. You can see the official website for the software (and links to download) here. There is also a helpful guide for those who might be struggling getting WiFi Speaker up and running.

A screenshot of WiFi Speaker running on my Samsung Galaxy S3.
A screenshot of WiFi Speaker running on my Samsung Galaxy S3.

I wondered if this could also be used to setup a smartphone (or phones) as speaker(s) for the laptop when watching a video (movie, TV, YouTube). I didn’t make any configuration changes and just started playing a video – but the mouths weren’t in sync with the conversation on the laptop.

I have tried making a few configuration changes since then with bad results. Sometimes the laptop began hissing static at me, other times it gave out little bleeps that I think where supposed to be music, and finally, I couldn’t get it to work at all.

What is the first thing you try when fixing a technology problem? Reboot the device. So I took my own advice and rebooted my Windows box and when everything came up, it worked just fine again.

I suspect that if I had closed out the server application before making these changes on the phone and then opened it again after making the changes, the problem would not have occurred. I’m planning to shoot the developer an email letting him know about the issue and hopefully a patch can be quickly produced.

iPhone: Airfoil for Windows/Mac

I don’t use an iPhone – haven’t for years and I’m not looking back wistfully either. I know many of you still insist on Apple technology (I really don’t have a problem with Apple, I just like to goad my friends and family who are Apple fans) – so here is what I found for you (and not surprising, it is more expensive).

Screenshot of Airfoil on a Mac.
Screenshot of Airfoil on a Mac.

Rogue Amoeba Software has written  “Airfoil for Windows” and “Airfoil for Mac” application which runs on your Windows computer. The application costs $25, you can download a free trial before purchasing. This software is installed on either your Windows or Mac computer. Don’t forget to grab the free app for your iPhone! If you do purchase this software and have the opportunity to utilize it, I’d love to be able to share some firsthand experiences about the iPhone app.

 

The Power of Google Keep

I wrote some time ago (April) about why I don’t use Evernote and how I had moved to Google Keep – though I wasn’t entirely happy with the product.

The logo for Google Keep.
The logo for Google Keep.

I’m still not entirely happy with Google Keep – but I am also still using it all these months later – so that says something.

Google Keep provides an easy way to keep notes. You can take them on the web, via a Chrome App, or on your Android phone using the Keep app. Recently they had the beautiful feature of geolocation reminders – in other words you can tell Keep, “When I am within x of x location, reminder me that I need to do x.” So, I might say, “Remind me next time I am within 500 ft. of the post office that I need to buy some more postage.” It is pretty nifty functionality and I’ve successfully used it to remind myself to do things that usually go undone b/c I continually forget to do them when I’m nearby (e.g. pick up some x from the grocery store).

The killer feature of Keep for me over Evernote is its Google Drive driven versioning which allows one to go back in a documents history as necessary – something which is extremely limited in Evernote (at least last time I used it).

So, what keeps Google Keep from being perfect?

  1. The pace of development has been horrifically slow. Come on guys, if you even devote a few folks to full-time development this application could be amazing.

  2. The clunkiness of the desktop app (actually a Chrome App) is frustrating (you can’t reorder tasks, it doesn’t minimize to the tray).

  3. Google has burnt me and others too many times by shutting down services. While I don’t think Keep will be one of them (it is too much of a data mine for Google to abandon, imho), it still makes me hesitant (though I feel a little more comfortable knowing that my notes are essentially Google Docs, so they’ll still be available even if Keep goes away).

This might be seem strange – but I use this application in tangent with Asana, rather than as a replacement for or alternative to. Asana manages all of my responsibilities, Keep is my “loosey-goosey” form of data collection until it is input into Asana and also a quick reference for tasks I need to do asap.

You can see the web app here. The Android app is available here. The Chrome (desktop) app is here.

Next-Gen Gaming Comparisons: Wii U, Xbox One or PS4?

Guest Post: This post was authority by Sharon Martin, a tech maven who spends half the year in Japan working on mobile technology. When she is not changing the tech world, she spends her time freelancing.

Introduction

As major players in the gaming industry release next-generation systems, avid gamers may find themselves struggling with where their loyalty lies. Nintendo has already released the Wii U, while the PS4 and Xbox One are both on the horizon. Innovative features continue to define each console as better than the other. And the concern over accessing and sharing games because of next-gen console restrictions has gamers possibly shifting their brand and console loyalty. How do Wii U, Xbox One and PS4 measure up against one another?

Photo: commons.wikimedia.org.
Photo: commons.wikimedia.org.

Wii U

The Wii U was released in November 2012 and it’s backwards compatible with its predecessor, Nintendo Wii. The system offers two ways to access games — from the Wii Virtual Console or using traditional Wii disks. Wii U is synonymous for timeless, popular Nintendo-exclusive games, such as “Mario,” “Animal Crossing” and “Legend of Zelda.” Many dedicated gamers are concerned that fewer games for more mature audiences will be released for this system.

Xbox One

Xbox one follows in the footsteps of Xbox 360 by Microsoft. The highly anticipated and most expensive gaming system for Microsoft is scheduled for release in November 2013, just in time for the holidays. While there is excitement about the console, game accessibility is a major concern for customers. Initial reports show that games would be saved to a single console, essentially killing the market for game rentals and game sharing. The company has announced that many popular titles will be available, including “Skylanders,” “Final Fantasy XV,” and “Call of Duty: Ghosts” — the next entry in the popular Call of Duty franchise by Bobby Kotick, founder of the non-profit organization The Call of Duty Endowment.

PS4

Sony has always prided its’ Playstation game systems for superior graphics and an extensive, exclusive lineup of games. The Playstation 4 is expected to be a worthy successor to the popular Playstation 3 system. Titles rumored to be available include “Call of Duty: Ghosts,” “Lego Marvel Super Heroes,” “Just Dance 2014,” and “DC Heroes Online.”

Tech News Summary – June 21st, 2013.

So, I’ve been writing these news summaries, but I really want to move them off daveenjoys and onto a dedicated site – similar to the one I used to run (Informed Networker). There are several viable software applications available for this task – Hotarucms, Pligg, and Reddit (its underlying source code is open source). There is also the possibility of custom creating an application.

I’d like to make it open to the public by “invitation only” for story submission…This would keep the spammers out and would let the network grow slowly yet efficiently with more and more qualified members.

In the meantime, I’m still posting here, but if others have thoughts on this topic – I’m eager to hear them.

Tech News Summary – May 21st, 2013.

Tech News Summary for May 8th, 2013.

Why I Don’t Use Evernote.

If you where to look for the note-taking app with the most “buzz” surrounding it, it would far and away be Evernote. Evernote has millions of users, a well-known brand, and has permeated not only the lives of individuals but also businesses. It is extensible and flexible. OneNote – what is that? Ohhh, Microsoft’s product. That isn’t cool…Not to mention that its pricey.

Image representing Evernote
Image via CrunchBase

I used Evernote for a time (maybe a few months or a year) and then abandoned it. I wanted to like it and many things I did like about it – but there was one significant issue which remains an issue that forces me to keep my distance from Evernote – versioning.

What is versioning? Quite simply it is keeping a history of changes to a document and allowing the changes to be rolled back, compared, merged, and so on. Google Docs is a great example of this functionality.

Several times while using Evernote I took some fairly extensive notes only to have the noted get overwritten and I was unable to recover them. Even using Premium, which does include some limited versioning features, the number of revisions stored was so few that it was easy to make a few changes, realize you lost something important, and be unable to roll back.

Okay – that is me. But we aren’t really here to talk about me, we are here to talk about you and whether you should be using Evernote. My answer: probably not.

Why? Because I’ve worked for years in IT and have had innumerable individuals come to me asking for assistance in recovering their data – from floppy disks, flash drives, hard drives, and so on. I’ve seen the tears and the anger when the individual learns that their masters’ thesis that was 90% complete has been irretrievably lost.

“That hasn’t happened to me yet.” I know – but it only has to happen once…and IMHO, Evernote is not a reliable tool for writing significant documents or even for keeping one’s research notes about significant projects. There is too much possibility of “device failure” – in this case, the unavailability of previous versions when you need it most.

What do I use? Google Docs / Google Keep. Granted, I’m not particularly satisfied with Google Keep. I’d much rather be using Evernote. I think Evernote is a great company and a great program, I am just befuddled how such basic functionality could be unavailable at all in the free version and only marginally supported in the premium version. In a day where even our consumer backup and sync applications perform versioning – how can an app so widely used and loved lack robust versioning functionality?

Techology News Summary for April 17, 2013.

Its a slow day in the tech news world…