Waiting for the cyber faeries

cyber faerieImage : Cyberfaeries wear boots with my own custom border

We can’t see the information super highway. We can’t see the infrastructure. Even if we work in that industry, we can’t see all those connections all over the planet and then up to satellites and back. We just take it all for granted and yet, it is a hugely complex ,connected world. When a motor highway is being built , repaired or upgraded we can see what is happening and so we understand it . In recent times I have lived through the construction of 2 expressways and a train line extension and electrification in my area and driven past the desal plant being built . You can literally see the landscape change and be amazed at what we are capable of achieving. You manage the inconvenience and disruption because you know what you are dealing with.

When we are rolling out telecommunications infrastructure we can’t see what is happening. We don’t understand the changes and we can’t put the picture together easily. It’s new ground and it’s a J learning curve. We live in the information and communication age , though. Communication is central to getting everyone to work together.

I have had access to a home phone since the 70s and the internet since 1995. It has been tough to do a month with first 8 days of no phone and no internet and currently day 10 of the second adventure of no phone and no internet. I am waiting for a port swap which will hopefully resolve my disconnected state. It’s hard living without unlimited access to data and a phone. I have never needed my mobile phone much so I didn’t have a plan to cover an event such as this. This has never happened before is probably the reason I haven’t thought too much about mobile access and plans.

I have had a lot of conversations with technicians and technical support over this last month. I have also seen a lot of telecommunications people out on my local streets as I drive around, some of them totally lost in the big trenches they have to dig. Everyone is working . Everyone is doing their job. Everyone knows what they know and it’s now we are starting to get those connected conversations which are going to facilitate the process and understanding of what is actually occurring.

Not everyone is having my problem. It’s a classic new millennium situation which requires a 21st century process: personalised learning, customised response and then everyone being part of the conversation to get the feedback and growth which will inspire solutions. Create content – share – get feedback – reflect – create more content…. I have spoken about the internet model so much on this blog.

Technicians I have had personal contact with and the tech support from my ISP have just been getting better and better. People listen to me. They say what they need to say, they give me information and then we move on.

I have had to get really good at mobile technology. Everyone should learn how to set their phone up as a mobile data hotspot. It’s not hard. It’s in the settings and the phone tells you what to do for wifi name and password. It is now a life skill for when there is no wifi, no ethernet. Just you and your devices. In a city you could probably go outside and get free wifi. Doesn’t work like that here. I have to get in my car and drive somewhere and access is not 24/7. You have to learn to make the right decisions about mobile plans and then ,if you get another sim card ,to make the best choices there. Currently I am using my old phone to be the wifi hotspot. I should have made the unlimited talk and text choice for the old phone and used my regular phone for the wifi hotspot. I have learned.

Complex problems need complex solutions. It’s important to know what your options are and understand how you can customise your own survival package depending on where you live and what choices you have. For me mobile data has been critical but then I have been stuck when I need to make a call which isn’t often but not having a phone plan which covers calls in this situation is making it harder. Took the wrong turn at Albuquerque but at the time I didn’t have enough information and the outage wasn’t expected to be this long. I have done it the olden days way and paid my commercial practices a visit. That has been the nice side of this. The other bonus is now I am so familiar with my online information from my online ISP account. It’s a great site which gives very useful and helpful information . I knew it was there and what it did but it is only become meaningful to me now because I have had to have very particular information in order to go from one day to the next. So my top 5 tips:

Know :

your mobile plan and sim card options

where you can access free wifi

your ISP site and what information it provides

how to set up a mobile phone hotspot

how to use one online calling service like Skype , Messenger, What’s App or Facetime phone.

As I mentioned in my previous post, mobile access is expensive and so you have to be really mindful of that. It is something we all need to think about because normal access isn’t expensive at all. We all need a tech outage plan like we have a bushfire plan and an electrical outage plan. Meanwhile I am waiting for the cyber faeries to do their work. Some of them are a bit mischievous and like to play tricks but I have faith the cyber faeries will work their magic and get my cyber connections 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.

Easter apps

Color me Easter appHave fun this Easter with the Easter apps reviewed on technologyrocks. Have a Happy Easter!

Check username

namechk siteThere have been a number of funny memes about how hard it is to create a username for some sites because the one you want is always taken and then you try 10 others and end up with something stupid just because you are frustrated trying to find a username. Namechk will cross check usernames across plenty of sites. It means you then have the chance to dignify username choice because you are not in that pressure situation of trying to come up with a username as you are signing up to a site. Namechk will block out the sites where you cannot use that name and highlight the available sites in green. Easy!

Accurate weather information

My favourite free weather app is AusWeather. The graphics are excellent as is the information you get with it. If you can read satellite and radar pictures then you can increase your capacity to interpret weather data. Not all of us can do that and sometimes we just want an app which tells us. Dark Sky is a paid app  for Android and iOS which has been getting excellent reviews. It particularly predicts rain accurately in your area and gives you detailed information and alerts about it. It can handle the snow , too. Down the track it might be able to forecast other weather events for exact locations . The story of how the app came about is interesting. Apps development is becoming increasingly needs based. People have ideas and are connected and are now using the data we produce to create apps which will serve our needs. If you are an events manager, have events planned, have a life where you need to go outside and do things then Dark Sky can take the guesswork out of whether it might rain or not. It would save a lot of heartache and stress when planning outside events. Dark Sky has a website too which you can use and then decide whether you want the app or not. You can download the app here. If you want to know more , Wired has a detailed review.

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