Messing with mobile


Wordpress says to share my story here. All about narrative these days. In my 14th day of phone/ADSL2 outage for the month. This is from the second lot of scheduled upgrades for my area. My phone never comes back when the outage is over. Waiting for a port swap. This could take a while. Meanwhile I am having to run my connected life disconnected. I feel like a cat up a tree tentatively picking my way through the branches. The mifi worked until it gobbled up my last 500mb data yesterday. Great.  No more mifi. At $10 a gigabyte for mobile data that is not on. So I bought a sim, revived my old Galaxy Express phone and am totally mobile now…trying to economise , find the work arounds and use my data efficiently. I cleaned up the Express. No updates, no notifications and no sites which muck me about and just chew up data because that is how they are designed. They make you click and stuff up and then you have to redo. Meanwhile data is draining. Those sorts of sites are to be avoided. I am back to bluetoothing files, using my stylus for screen accuracy and finding I can do things better on a mobile. It is not the freedom of a wifi connected person with unlimited access. I am a user not a consumer. Either way mobile data plans need to be more generous. There are some improvements. Limited data means limited experience and limited access. I’ ll just have to keep gingerly picking through these branches and hope my free, connected world comes back soon. I don’t  feel upgraded . I do have a weakth of learning challenges, though. This , for instance, is my first blog post ever from a mobile phone. Thank heavens for mobile apps.

The last of the red hot outage queens

no netOutage is the new normal , apparently. For the second time in a month I have had another unexpected Sunday to Wednesday outage on my phone and therefore my internet. Last time my phone didn’t come back as it was supposed to so I actually did a Sunday to Monday outage. Who knows what this one will bring, except my ISP is really onto it this time and has been great at keeping the information to-ing and fro-ing so we know what we are doing should my phone not come back as expected. Which it hasn’t . I am now back in the process of trying to unmuddle the muddle. There is another line mix up again so my calls are going elsewhere. I live in an area which is in the middle of nbn line installation and then line and broadband upgrades. Telecommunications staff are pushed to their limit at the moment. Establishing nbn into Australia is a massive job. Upgrading networks is a huge undertaking. Some who have signed up to the nbn are saying it’s woefully slow. It probably will be until we have all the connections there. Technology likes all the bits to be the same and they have to be able to talk to each other . If we are introducing old bits to new bits , the old bits are going to get mighty huffy. There needs to be some public awareness programmes going on to raise the profile of what is actually occurring. At this point a decision has been made as to how it will be done. What needs to happen is people need to really be informed as to what that entails.

At no stage have I lost patience with telecommunications staff. They all got up that morning to do their job. They are not responsible for the things happening to me , my phone and my internet. They are there to listen and to try and help resolve the issues. ISPs are not the ones who own the lines . Only one ISP is and then nbnco for the optical fibre installation. The work on the upgrades may or may not entail direct involvement with an ISP. I am already in the habit now, if my phone goes down , to start living on M&Ms – mobile and mifi.

I check my isp site

I check the aussie outages site

I check the Telstra site because they own the lines involved with nbn upgrades.

I check the nbnco site

I check the roads in my area

As inconvenient as it is this , it is the equivalent of building a major expressway and I have lived twice through expressway building . It takes a couple of years and literally ground breaking changes. We cannot see our telecommunications upgrades and so communication with each other and with the key organisers of this upgrade is vital. We have to notice and contribute. As soon as my phone was gone again, I waited an hour and then emailed my ISP after I’d checked as above. Since then there has been useful two way communication.

I have learned :

to prepare what I need t o do on the net to save data

to turn off automatic data downloading

have found that Facebook phone calling is good

have navigated my mobile devices better and know more about them

have stuck with Linux. As an OS and with the Ubuntu browser I save data

to park myself in the call back queue of my ISP to save my mobile data

It’s not the same as being always connected but it’s manageable and we need to talk about this. About what is happening and what our responsibilities are in a connected world , because we can facilitate the process by sharing of information and then what is actually being done. This way no one gets the blame. No one gets unpleasant surprises and we can just do it until it’s done. Meanwhile I am queued for a call back.

Nutrition information

chicken vs eggsGoogle is trying to improve how it provides us with useful and quality nutrition information . The results are instant and so if you are trying to find out about food or make informed food choices then the option is there to use Google to get a quick answer and then follow it up in your own time and way. It’s not perfect. The more we use it and the more Google can establish what we are trying to do and find out ,the better Google will become. In the search bar you type, for instance :

beef vs chicken or chicken vs eggs

 

chicken vs potatoAt the moment Google needs basic input . It can’t do chicken vs barramundi. If you type something like chicken vs potato you will get 129 million results and they will be about the nutritional information with regard to each food and you will have to make the comparison yourself. If you type something like tomato vs cucumber it will bring up the sites which compare these two foods and then other nutritional sites to do with each. The results are not consistent as yet for each comparison you do and a search engine like Google relies on people input patterns to improve its performance. One day it will dazzle us with its comparisons but right now , it’s still pretty impressive and helpful.

Cyberjargon tools

If you have trouble understanding SMS speak  or cyber jargon which comes up on the Net then I highly recommend the site Lingo2Word. You can decode SMS but you can also dazzle your entourage by coming up with perfect SMS speak! If you click the top  links on the site you will find common emoticons and acronyms that some people use as a matter of course.  The other site for decoding cyberjargon and slang is NetLingo. This site has a sense of humour but it also keeps a current database of all the cyber terms on our planet and so you are always in the know! Currency. It’s about currency.

Usability

 

Is usability a science now? Certainly there is detailed analysis around usability in the design of apps, websites and technology in general. Does detailed analysis and data collection make it a science?  The fact the hue saturation can fatigue users is a fact we know now. If the colour on your sites or in your apps is too saturated then people will tire easily and maybe blame the app or website . Don Norman is the doyen of design and who people interact with it and he is worth listening to because he has spent his life in this area, researching about it and then sharing his ideas. He is widely acknowledged for expertise in the fields of design, usability engineering, and cognitive science. He looks at how people interact emotionally with design and how that plays an important role in what they can or can’t do with technology or will or won’t do. “It’s the real needs of people, what people think they need often isn’t right.”  We do need , at least, cognitive science to determine the best outcomes for people who use technology. We do need to understand how it can impact on others when we choose and select our designs for apps and websites. UserFocus UK  has an interesting discussion about whether usability is now a science or not. It comes to the conclusion :

“But I do think we can agree that as usability practitioners we should at least adopt a scientific way of thinking. By this, I mean we should approach our work with a self-critical and naturally sceptical mind set, and that our methods, whenever circumstances and budgets allow, should employ the scientific method of investigation.”

Usability at the least needs to be informed by science and if you are using technology to teach others then you need to understand the basic , underlying principles of UX and UI design and their emotional impact. That way you make informed choices about what to use and how you present your content.

Josefine Grimm-Blenk

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