Random Thoughts

about reading, writing, and anything else that interests me

Archive for the category “tech”

Net Neutrality

If you are based in the US, this is a vitally important issue!

What is it? According to The Guardian

Net neutrality is the idea that internet service providers (ISPs) treat everyone’s data equally, whether that’s an email from your mom, a bank transfer, or a streamed episode of The Handmaid’s Tale. It means that ISPs don’t get to choose which data is sent more quickly and which sites get blocked or throttled (for example slowing the delivery of a TV show because it’s streamed by a video company that competes with a subsidiary of the ISP) and who has to pay extra. For this reason some have described net neutrality as the “first amendment of the internet”.

Why does it matter? According to Mozilla,

Net neutrality is fundamental to free speech. Without net neutrality, big companies could censor your voice and make it harder to speak up online. Net neutrality has been called the “First Amendment of the Internet.”

Net neutrality is fundamental to competition. Without net neutrality, big Internet service providers can choose which services and content load quickly, and which move at a glacial pace. That means the big guys can afford to buy their way in, while the little guys are muscled out.

Net neutrality is fundamental to innovation. Without net neutrality, creators and entrepreneurs could struggle to reach new users. Investment in new ideas would dry up, and the Internet would start to look more and more like cable TV: so many channels, but with nothing on.

Net neutrality is fundamental to user choice. Without net neutrality, ISPs could decide you’ve watched too many cat videos in one day, and throttle your Internet speeds — leaving you behind on the latest Maru memes.

What can you do? Visit one or more of these sites to get ideas:

https://www.battleforthenet.com

https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/2017/05/08/next-10-days-critical-internets-future/

Or watch this segment by John Oliver on YouTube.

We don’t have a lot of time to make our voices heard. Please take a minute to let the FCC and Congress know how you feel about this issue.

 

 

 

OK, I’m sad again!

On January 18 I received an email from Kobo stating that my replacement ereader would be shipped. So today, when I still hadn’t heard anything more, I called to inquire. I got through to someone and, after a lot of back and forth, she was able to get me a UPS tracking number. Apparently it was shipped on 1/20. That was way to long for me not to have received it. When I tried tracking the package on UPS, their site tells me that a shipping label was created on 1/19 and when it arrives at their facility they will update the tracking information. So I started a text chat with Kobo. The woman was very nice and referred my problem to the “device replacement department.” So within 24-48 business hours I should hear something back from them. Maybe.

I still prefer Kobo ereaders to Kindle, but their customer service is bad. The people I have dealt with have been nice, but they haven’t been able to solve my problem in over 3 weeks! It’s crazy.

I couldn’t be happier!

I wrote about how my Kobo had died, so I wanted to give you an update and give credit where credit is due.

In spite of my misgivings, I decided to contact customer service. I hated to do it because of all the really, really bad experiences I have had with them since I got my first Kobo in August, 2011. But I did it because… Why not?

I completed the online contact info and was told to call. So I called.  I was told that the wait was more than 50 minutes and that I could hold or leave a call back number if I preferred. So I did. That was yesterday early afternoon, and 24 hours later, I had heard nothing. (I guess I should be grateful I hadn’t decided to hold all that time! I would have been really tired!) So I called again.  And again I was told it would be more than 50 minutes or I could leave a call back. So I did. Again!

And then I checked the email I had gotten from them after I had initially contacted them online. It gave me a chat option. So I clicked. And waited several minutes to get someone to chat with. But finally I did.

At first I thought I was going to be really irritated because he wasn’t listening to me. But I went through all the steps he asked me to — even though I had done all of them several times prior to contacting Kobo in the first place. We ended the chat because I had to charge my ereader for an hour and then try all the steps we had gone through again.  I charged and tried, and I still had no luck.  So I started another chat.

This second chat went much better. We tried a couple m things that resulted in absolutely no change in the status of my ereader.  And then he said I qualified for a replacement. So I said, COOL!

Actually, they are more than replacing my ereader. They are being very generous.  And once again, I am glad I have a Kobo.  Or I will be as soon as the new one arrives!

So what did I learn from this?

  1. To try to solve issues rather than just giving up
  2. To try to contact them (and maybe all customer service people) by chat rather than phone because it is less frustrating
  3. That typing gave me time to temper my usual somewhat harsh responses when dealing with customer service people who are just doing their job and have no way of knowing I am a competent adult who has already tried every possible solution she could find online

So when I get my new Kobo, I will tell you all about it!

 

 

I’m so sad…

My Kobo died this morning. I am trying a couple things, but so far there has been no luck.  From my dealings with Kobo Customer Service a while back with my old Kobo, I know better than to try to talk to them about this one.

I can read all my Kobo books on my tablet or my phone, but I really like using dedicated ereaders. I won’t buy another Kobo, in spite of how much I want to like them.  Actually, I like them. I just don’t like their ereaders anymore, and I HATE their customer service.

There aren’t a lot of other options out there, so I will probably just make do with what I have. But I won’t be happy about it!

 

A question

A couple months ago my Kobo ereader died.  I had owned it for about 3 and a half years.  I used it a lot.  I didn’t think it should have died, but it did.  I was devastated at first, but I quickly began reading all my books on my tablet.  It has the advantage of allowing me to read Amazon, Kobo, and any other books I want with just the download of an app.  So I am happy.  But that brings me to my question.  Should I be?  Is there something I am missing by just reading on my tablet and my phone?  If you have any thoughts on this, I would appreciate it if you would let me know.

Back in business!

My new Kobo Touch arrived,  and I got it set up and running on Saturday.  It took a  few minutes to do that and then to re-load all the non-Kobo books I had on it before.  But it was worth it.

The new firmware is much better than older versions.  That or  my old machine was not working well from the beginning.  Pages turn much more smoothly.  I am really happy with it!  So happy that I ordered my husband´s  yesterday!

It wasn´t as good a month for reading as it should have been

I started the month with great anticipation.  I was already part way through two non-fiction books.  I should have been able to finish them and read three or four more.

And then my Kobo started having problems.  It ends up that they are going to replace it, and I am very happy about that.  But losing it really affected what I read.  I find it hard to believe, but I had trouble reading paper books.  They seemed so limiting.  I had to figure out which ones to pack when I went to my daughter´s overnight.  I have to be careful not to lose my place when I  fall  asleep reading.  I really didn´t expect to become so attached to it so quickly.  But I did.  I am.  And now I am just waiting for the new one to arrive!

Trouble with my Kobo

I am currently without my Kobo Touch, and I can begin to describe how much I miss it.  Forget the books I had partially read on it — I can get those back easily.  I just miss reading on it.

I have been correspoding with Kobo´s customer care , and so far I am pleased with the process.  I will probably have to send this one in for repair.  And that´s OK.  I don expect every product I buy to be perfect, but I do expect the company to help when there are problems.

I was all set to buy my husband a Touch when this happened.  I am waiting now until mine is up and running again.  Hopefully that won´t be long.

How to improve our classes

Once again Joshua Kim had a post in Inside Higher Ed that caught my attention.  This time he is reviewing the work of a recent graduate, Lucretia Witte, who made a presentation at Joshua’s institution about her research entitled “Student Views on Technology and Teaching”.

Ms. Witte’s work looks pretty good to me.  What I really liked from Joshua’s post about her work were her tips for applying the research.  This is what Joshua said about them:

The four things that every professor can do “THIS WEEK” (Lucretia’s words) to make each course more student-friendly include (with the sentences in quotes pulled directly from the handout):

1. Ensure that all readings, articles, presentations and videos (all course material) are available in the course management system.
2. “Create a weekly reading assessment that asks students to formulate or discuss the most important things you wanted them to get out the this week’s articles.”
3. “Make your syllabus a living document and let students know about changes via class emails – it will put your class in the forefront of their minds.”
4. “Use technology to help students engage with one another – create peer review groups for papers or discussion groups online.”

Some of this isn’t terribly new to me, but it is always good to be reminded.  Also, there are things here that I don’t do on a regular basis — like the reading assessments and the peer review groups.  So I am going to try to incorporate more of those things into my classes this semester.

I really like her idea of making the syllabus a living document.  Mine always changes once I meet the students in any particular class and see that what looked so good on paper over the break just isn’t going to work this time.  And I try to keep students informed of the changes.  But I see her suggestion as embracing those changes more than I have.  If I make a bigger deal of them than I do and really draw students’ attention to them rather than being embarrassed that I can’t ever stick to the syllabus, it could really help students in the class.  So that is something I am going to do.

Kim’s post is a good read and includes a link to an earlier post he wrote about Witte.  Both are worth a read.

I have failed at so many things!

In his post on Inside Higher Ed today, Joshua Kin asks:

When have you failed good software?

My answer would have to include at least twitter and Facebook.  I just don’t get them.  Other people seem to live by them, but  I cannot seem to see how they would really benefit me.  I have written about these failings before, speculating that I am just too private a person for such public venues.  But I don’t know if that is the case or not really.  What I do know is that I prefer the more extended format of a blog over a 140 character tweet to express myself in.

In summarizing his failure, Joshua says:

My biggest realization during this failed Basecamp experiment is that nobody really wants to see my To Do list. I thought we’d all share our lists, add things to each others lists, and basically create a system where we could easily tell what we are all up to. The reality turned out to be that everyone is too busy to look at each others work lives, and it is much more efficient to walk down the hall and have a chat.

That is pretty much how I feel about twitter and Facebook.  Nobody really wants to see what I am doing.  And if they want to see what I am thinking, they will stop by here for a conversation.

I am a failure, I know.  In an effort to change that I will continue to see if I can discover the value in those tools for me, but I am not holding my breath.

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