Don’t Believe Everything the Experts Tell You

reposted from my other blog page:

As new users of technology grow and learn the ways of the internet and their new gadgets,
there is a point where one realizes that not all information can be trusted.
Even information from ‘experts.’

computer retail store

I spent 5 years during college working as a ‘Product Specialist’ in a large electronics retail chain. I worked hard to learn what I could about the digital cameras, computers and cellular phones that I sold. There was a general impression among customers that I knew everything about my products (or that I should have known every detail about my products).

If I was only responsible for selling 5 different cameras and 2 different computers, I probably would have practically complete knowledge of them.

However, there were approximately 50 computers and just as many cameras in my area. Also, these models would be replaced as often as 4 times per year (sometimes more). Knowing every detail about all of the products was nearly impossible (and not at all reasonable for the amount of money paid to the employees).

So, with the expectation that we should know everything about everything, some of my coworkers would lie. If they didn’t know the answer and felt like they might lose credibility with a customer for simply saying “I don’t know the answer to that,” they would make something up. This happens a lot. Even more often is the use of very general and vague terms.

Retail salespeople have a tough job, answering questions about products they are barely familiar with (and often cannot afford to buy for themselves and learn more about). So, I wouldn’t be too hard on them personally. Their managers have a difficult job as well, covering for employee mistakes and mishaps all day long, trying to appease tough customers who found every product in the store cheaper on the internet someplace who expects the store to sell it for the same price.

Salespeople are very often hired for their mannerisms, personality and appearance. Actual technical knowledge is generally secondary.

computer salesmanFrom my experience, I have always been told that retail stores will never be as price-competitive as online stores, due to costs of running a physical building (heating, air conditioning, cleaning, cash registers, property tax, electricity). Now, this is not to say that an online store (like doesn’t have warehouses, employees, computer systems, heating and electricity bills… So, I don’t personally know how the two compare, in terms of operating costs. But this is what a manager in a retail store will likely tell you. (But managers will make things up sometimes too, so you might not be able to believe everything you hear in that regard either).

I found an article on with the subject: Don’t charge your phone overnight. The quandary in the article was whether charging your phone every night would shorten the lifespan of the battery, as opposed to waiting till the battery discharges (nearly) completely before plugging it in. If you have an emergency just as your battery runs out of juice, and before you were going to plug it in, then I suppose you are in an unfortunate situation.

The writer of the article of such a large website would likely be regarded as an expert by a large number of readers.

In the article he does not appear to have any technical knowledge of the engineering behind lithium-ion batteries and cellular phone charging systems. He states that he used the Motorola product manual and Verizon salespeople as sources for his information. I know personally, that none of the salespeople I worked with in my store would have known anything about this, other than what their training manuals told them. We sold Verizon phones and knew as much about them as dedicated Verizon representatives would. There was very little technical engineering knowledge among the salespeople I worked with and personally knew (nothing against them personally). The writer of the article updated (at the bottom) that he had provided bad information due to a conflict between the product manual and the salesperson’s provided knowledge.

cell phone battery turn off 3g last longer ?

The moral of the story is, you can’t trust everything you hear, even if the person may be regarded as an expert.

When you research information on the internet (on Google, web forums or other sources), it is best to follow the basic principle of referencing multiple sources. If they all agree, you might have found your answer, if they don’t agree, then some may be right and some wrong, or they might all be wrong. It’s always best to do your own research when possible, especially if it’s critical. If it’s not critical, then it may not be worth worrying about much.

Life is too short to worry about things that aren’t important 🙂

reposted article from Gizmodo that was referenced above:

Giz Tip: Don’t Charge Your Phone Overnight

lowbatterylarge.jpgLately my cell phone battery has been lasting maybe 30 minutes of talk time before dying, so I schlepped through Union Square last night to take it to Verizon and see wtf was up with it. The battery, predictably, was dead, so I was stuck dropping $40 on a new one to ride out the last 5 months of my infernal contract.

Literally every single person at the Verizon store in the technical support line was there to get dead batteries replaced, from people like me that have had the battery for over a year and a half to people who had just bought their phones a week ago.

Maybe I missed the memo on this one, but I’ve been keeping my phone plugged in overnight every night, and apparently it’s my own fault my battery is dead. According to the Verizon tech reps, you should only charge your phone 3 hours a day or so and never leave it plugged in overnight or it’ll die. Now, I’ve heard things like this before, but I never thought it caused such a dramatic difference. And why isn’t it made clearer? As the girl next to me asked, why does the Motorola manual tell you to charge it overnight?

Yeah, you could laugh it up and tell me I’m an idiot for not knowing this, but you lovely gadget blog readers are in the minority of cell phone owners when it comes to product knowledge. Most people have no idea that they shouldn’t charge their phones overnight. I’m no scientist, but can’t they develop batteries that stop taking a charge when full? And why is this info not more widely known? I’m tempted to think that it’s a conspiracy, that Verizon only tells you this when you come in to fork over $40 for a replacement battery.

What do you guys think, have you inadvertently killed off your phone’s battery? Are they intentionally giving bad advice so people need to replace their batteries? Could a smarter battery (for dumber people, I guess) be developed?

All I know is that I am not overcharging my phone ever again. That $40 was earmarked to be donated to charity, Verizon! Now the children can’t eat. What do you think of that? –Adam Frucci

Update: So apparently the Verizon rep was, surprise surprise, completely full of it. While this might be an issue on some phones, most should be able to handle an all-night charge without a problem. The general consensus seems to be that letting your battery completely die once every couple months will keep the life nice and long, so let’s see how that works, shall we?”

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