By November 4, 2012 6 Comments Read More →

Problems with Livescribe, MailChimp and Internet streams

The last few weeks have sent a higher-than-average number of technological issues my way. In fact, it’s probably safe to say several years of technological good-fortune made way for a (hopefully) brief period of technological-sobriety. The outcome is I have a much different view of tools I’ve become reliant on. Here’s a selection of three from my recent experiences.


I’ve been a champion of Livescribe since I first learned about their amazing Pulse Ultra smart pen on the LDPodcast. I bought my first Pulse a month later. Its been central to my personal and professional workflow and critical to my sanity during Andrea’s cancer treatment. I’ve lost count of the number of friends and colleagues who have run out to purchase a Livescribe pen after learning about mine.

Over the last year, though, Livescribe’s Desktop software has become increasingly unreliable and unpredictable. It often fails to transfer pages from my pen. I’ve worked closely with their very professional support team a number of times. On four occasions (the most recent taking place this week) I’ve had to rename my Livescribe data directory and reimport the entire contents of my pen (which worked), then separately reimport all of my archived notebooks. It’s a long and should-be unnecessary process once, let alone four times. Add to the mix that for a few months (which ended recently) a problem with Livescribe’s servers resulted in the need to double-launch Desktop each time I needed to use it since the first launch would always crash.

I understand Desktop became the neglected child of a market leader while the company directed additional resources at developing its new Sky Pen (released last week). The question is, do I have the patience to wait for the company to correct the problems or make the jump to a competing technology?


About a month ago my newsletter workflow met with a curveball when MailChimp’s campaign editor started randomly deleting large sections of my drafted newsletters each time I saved my progress. Even writing the text offline then copying and pasting it in to the editor in a ready-to-be-formatted state didn’t work. Again, each time I saved with the formatting, the editor would wipe out a random chunk of text.

There is some good news here, though. It turns out the problem likely relates to a bad interaction between the Hootsuite Hootlet browser add-on and the MailChimp editor. So, I was finally able to issue a newsletter yesterday after a hiatus of several weeks. MailChimp support is investigating.

Internet streams

As the years progressed, more and more of our lives have become reliant on broadband Internet access. Among other things, I rely on my own Internet connection to maintain contact with friends, make new ones, communicate with and deliver work to clients, research and write, get news and be entertained. Twitter and video streaming (live and otherwise) has allowed us to follow current events, particularly those which affect some of my clients.

However, the amount of noise overtaking Twitter and the increased demand on individual live streams often makes it more difficult to get relevant and clean information now than it was a year ago (and more). Demand for the live stream of the second Presidential debate was so high that the stream almost consistently stalled and skipped. It was unbearable and unwatchable. Also, a number of public affairs television programs are not available as live streams nor are they published the web after air time. So, after 16 years without, I took the plunge and had basic cable installed.


About the Author:

Mark Blevis is a digital public affairs strategist and President of, an integrated digital communications, public affairs and research company. His work focuses on the role of digital tools and culture on issues and reputation management. He also leads research into how Canadian opinions are shaped through online content and interactions.
  • DaveO from HootSuite

    Hi Mark, Generally Owls and Chimps play well together. Sure any problems which exist will be sorted out expeditiously.

    Hope this week, the tech stars align for ya!

  • Mark

    Thanks, Dave! I feel confident that the Owls/Chimps interactions will be fixed soon, largely because the source of the problems has been identified and I know Hootsuite support to be responsive. There’s also the benefit of a known, good workaround… go on Safari (cheeky humour intended).

    I wish I had the same confidence in the Livescribe resolution. The problems seem to be significant and growing in number. I don’t anticipate good news from them for a while.

    I hope your tech stars alignment wish will ring true. I’m a bit concerned, though. Disqus gave me problems while typing this reply on my iPad. I had to go to another floor to type a reply to you using my laptop. D’oh!

  • DaveO from HootSuite

    In the meantime, may we send you a HootKit of Owly treats to assuage your frustrations and reward your patience? Preview:

  • Mark

    That’s very cool, Dave. I’m actually hosting an event on November 18th — CreatorCamp Ottawa. If you want, you can send some stuff for the participants. If you like the idea, let me know and I’ll send you my mailing address.

  • DaveO from HootSuite

    For sure Mark. DM you postal address to @daveohoots and we’ll load you up a big stash of treats… tough with Canada Post… the timing might be tough to get it there in time.

  • Mark

    Thanks for your generosity!I just followed you on Twitter. You’ll need to follow me for the DM.