Update & Checking Interest

The Blog

As you know, this blog has pretty much hit rock bottom lately. I’m hoping to change that with your help. For anyone who is interested in writing tips or articles, please send them to my person e-mail pythonpoole [@] gmail [.] com, as I have not been checking my Scorptek e-mail much recently. I appreciate all of your help, and I would love to be more active here however this is exam month at uni. After April, I will have much more down-time to work on my personal projects including Scorptek.

Scorptek

Some of you have expressed interest in the progress Scorptek is making. Many of you assumed we were ‘way in over our heads’ so to speak to think that we could pull off such a feat and bring our own broadband DSL, digital phone and alarm monitoring services to the continental U.S.A. and parts of Canada. Well I’m here to re-confirm our original intention to become a start-up in this market, and we have made some nice progress lately.

Through our research however, we have found that the one thing that really holds Telcos and ISPs back is providing customer support. Support is very costly, especially if you have to offer over-the-phone support. To give you an idea, if you outsource your technical support to another company, you’ll probably be paying a minimum of $1 per minute! A 20 minute phone call could cost you 3-4 months of losses for that customer. If you think that’s bad, having your own in-house call centre is often even more expensive.

Dealing with the problem

So, how do we plan to deal with this problem? How can we keep our prices low and actively compete in the market while still maintaining a high quality customer support service? Well we have developed a business plan that includes many strategies to take care of this.

Firstly, we will strongly encourage all customers purchase our ‘Linkbox’. The LinkBox is an all-in-one device that acts as a business grade Wireless 4 port router and also has 2 broadband Quality of Service enabled phone ports (for either phone or alarm monitoring). By doing this we help eliminate problems users may have with third-party equipment which in turn makes solving problems much easier and it will streamline the connection so that the phone service can run at land-line quality with QoS. Customers can also bring their own equipment however support for those customers may be limited.

Secondly, we will develop a sophisticated ‘intelligence’, or rather an ‘automated assistant’ that will help you diagnose and solve most problems. Unlike a typical FAQ that usually don’t help, the system is designed to take care of 80-90% of issues concerned with technical support, billing, accounts etc. This will greatly reduce the load on our support agents and users will be strongly encouraged to use the assistant before requesting support.

Thirdly, this is a great idea I came up with for handling support. There are two main questions that need to be answered.

A) How do we cover the cost of support without any big losses?
B) How do we get a bunch of volunteer or affordable support agents?

This is how:

For our support agents, we are looking for young and eager students like you guys between ages 16-24 who have lots of experience and knowledge in the area of computers, troubleshooting DSL services and it’s a bonus if you’ve also worked with VoIP or digital phone systems and/or alarm systems and monitoring.

You would be a volunteer agent trying to gain work experience.. however for every support incident (e.g. chat session, ticket, phone call), you would receive a generous donation towards your student education fund for college/university!

When customers contact support, certain support options like live phone support will have an incident fee (e.g. $3.99 per call). That fee is donated directly to your college fund which can be used to pay tuition fees, books, supplies and other educational items such as a new notebook computer. Considering that about 90% of support calls are less than 10 minutes, you could potentially earn $1/minute for your college fund. If someone keeps you on the phone for longer than 20 minutes, you can ask them to contact escalated support or keep on the line and get another $4.

What we have found is that many customers are willing to pay for premium support services when they realize 100% of the cost is being donated straight to a good cause, a future education for someone, and it’s not just a way for the company to rip them off.

The result

What is the result of all this?
– Greatly reduced support incidents
– Support service that costs very little to operate
– Way to keep costs low (for customers) and still provide great customer care and support

Interested?

If you are interested in our future work-experience volunteer agent program, here is some information for you:

– You have the potential of earning $10-35 per hour towards your college education fund
– You can work from home (anywhere in the world), we provide the software and hardware to get you started
– Training program and comprehensive support database equips you for anything customers can throw at you (not literally of course!)
– Speaking English as your first or as a preferred language is strongly recommended, bonus points for those who can also speak French or Spanish
– Extremely flexible hours, work when you want to, it could be an hour a day or 10 hours a day. Whenever you are available.
– Play games or do homework while on duty, we are not picky, just don’t have distractions when you are dealing with a support incident
– You must be a current student to apply, and you must have a separate bank account or college fund for your donations to be deposited into
– Earn a certificate after 6 and 12 months stating that you volunteered as a support agent for us for work-experience. This is great to put on your Resume/CV and to show on your college applications

How much can I earn towards my college fund?

Per e-mail ticket: About $1
Per chat session: About $2
Per phone session: About $3

What can I use the money for?
– College/University fees and tuition
– College books and misc. expenses (e.g. car parking at college)
– Living expenses (rent, residence fees, food/groceries, utilities, etc.)
– Educational/Academic supplies including purchases like notebook computers, printers, academic software etc.

If you are interested let us know in the comments below. I think this is a great way for students to earn money for college and you’ve gotta be honest where else have you ever seen such a great deal with so much flexibility. Since you are volunteers and your monetary incentive is entirely paid for by customers, we can afford to have a bunch of students on staff for support from all over the world to provide support all day and night which I think is great. Great for us, great for customers and most importantly great for you to have this opportunity. Let us know what you think.

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Top 5 Features of GM8

5. MagicWand

No good at making graphics? Can’t find someone to make them for you?
GM8 boasts a new MagicWand feature which will produce sprites based on any set of keywords!

Unbelievable! How does it work? This amazing piece of technology pops your keywords into Google image search for CC licensed transparent clip-art images and pulls out the most relevant result. A new window will automatically collect information for attribution and you can simply copy paste the credits into your game info!

Wait, it gets better! If you click on the ‘Generate Monster’ button, it will use a sophisticated algorithm to produce a likeness based on your description. For example, the following settings produce the monster below: skin:green, ears:leafy, eyes:yellow, teeth:ginormous, eyebrows:exaggerated.

monster13

4. Auto-name

Sick and tired of having random obscure names like obj_1, obj_2, obj_stuff? GM8 will take care of that by automatically assigning more fitting names like obj_green_monster based on the keywords given for the sprite associated with that object.

And there’s more! Scripts will be auto named based on which objects call them and what events they are called from. E.g. scr_greenmonster_collision_and_redmonster_collision_and_yellowmonster_collision_and_keypress_a.

As you can see it makes things much simpler and easier to work with. For added simplicity, the abbreviation option will shorten script names like the one above to: src_gcrcycka

3. Nav Libs

Aren’t you sick of constantly clicking on the wrong lib tabs, especially for 64 bit uses who lack the tab labels?

GM8 simplifies the drag and drop functionality by removing the pointless tabs and replacing them with navigational pages.  Now it’s easy to navigate from one lib to the next and back again. Confusion is eliminated by preventing you from randomly jumping between tabs, resulting in a layout that is kept clean and tidy. The D&D actions have also been reorganized so that the code and scripting related actions have been moved to the very last page where they are easy to locate.

Once you add an action from a nav page, GM8 will automatically navigate to the first page of actions. This is great because you always start from the same spot which makes memory recall second-nature.

2. Goodbye Softwrap

YoYo Games has had it’s fair share of troubles with Softwrap over the past couple of years, admitted by Sandy Duncan himself. GM8 will instead use a new custom built registration system. It will have two methods of payment: classic mode and arcade mode.

In classic mode, you pay $25 USD for unlimited Game Maker usage on EITHER 3 desktops OR 1 desktop AND 1 notebook AND 1 netbook OR 1 desktop AND 2 netbooks OR 1 desktop AND 2  notebooks OR  3 netbooks OR 2 notebooks AND 1 netbook.

In arcade mode, you will be required to make a payment of 25c each time you open Game Maker. If your game integrates with the built-in high score system and you run and exit your game without making it on the top 10 high score list, you will be required to pay an additional 25c to continue development.

1. ASCII DOS Mode

GM8 now has what has been dubbed the retro-geek feature, ‘ASCII DOS’ mode. This will convert any 2D based GM game into a fully functional text based game that runs in a standard DOS prompt. Graphics will be replaced by ASCII letter and symbol characters that are linked together to create the illusion of a 2D image. Normal sound capabilities are not yet supported, but GM’s new ‘Beeper’ D&D action and respective GML function will allow you to take advantage of the onboard PC speaker to create true 8 bit audio to satisfy the nerdiness in you.

As if that wasn’t enough, the ASCII DOS mode games that are published thorugh the YoYo Games website will be hosted on a remote telnet server. Now you can simply open up a command prompt on any computer and type the command ‘telnet yoyogames.com/games/mygame’ to have instant fun at work, in the classroom or on a cruise ship. The other advantage to ASCII DOS mode is games are now compressed to a micro size of just 1 kb on average (down from 2 MB) and can be downloaded by most dial-up users before they can say April Fools.