Me and AT&T


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I’ve done this dance with the phone company too many times. We have history. My internet access, part of the AT&T Uverse bundle is spotty. A few weeks back, AT&T upgraded my service to Power (45Mbps) Internet. A technician installed a new modem/router to handle the increased bandwidth.

My net connection is unacceptable
Skype and Google+ and FaceTime start but soon crash; even audio-only fails to work. Sometimes I can’t even open my own sites, jaycross.com and internettime.com. Every now and then, gmail refuses to open or other sites come up with weird notices of time delays. It feels like somewhere along the line my connection is being throttled. I spent 90 minutes on the phone with Apple: they concluded that my Macs are functioning properly and that my wi-fi is working as it should. There seems to be some bottleneck between the router and the net. That part of the connection is the purview of AT&T.

Once bitten, twice shy
History tells me that I should expect to experience a lot of drama before I get the right prescription for a viable broadband connection.

pacbellI hope it’s not like a dozen years ago when I signed up for an early-adopter DSL connection. The AT&T data guys would come and mess with the box in the house and on the pole outside and get the net connection up. But the phone stopped working and the “Bellheads” would come by and curse the clueless data installers, and screw up the net connection. I endured this ping-pong of incompetence and perhaps sabotage for eighteen visits to my home and my inside wiring. I’ve seen the underbelly of AT&T.

sbcAt the time I reported on my struggle on this blog. People talk about “learning out loud.” Good concept. I believe in Living Out Loud. This is what customer service was like thirteen years ago.

My blog posts eventually got the attention of a SVP at AT&T and my problems were solved. He retired.

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I’ll keep track of my interactions with AT&T and others this time around, so bookmark this page if you want to see the follow-up.

Can you help me figure how to solve this? If you have advice, I will sincerely appreciate it.

I feel cut off from the world.

speedThis just in:

 

 

Chronology
Jan 19 – I called the technician, who’d kindly left me his business card. He said he’d look into it and get back to me. Jan 21 – I spoke with Thali in the Philippines. We changed the router channel to 10. I was able to Skype. However, just now my download speed is 6.56 and I can’t open several sites.

Ebbinghaus was a pessimist

ebbinghausMore than a hundred years ago, Hermann Ebbinghaus formulated the forgetting curve, which describes the relationship between memory and time. During a lecture, if your absorption rate is at 100 percent on day one, there is a 50-80 percent loss of learning from the second day onward, which is reduced to a retention rate of just 2-3 percent at the end of thirty days.

The forgetting curve is so unforgiving that if it applied to all learning, you’d question the value of investing time in learning at all. But Ebbinghaus’s findings don’t really apply to most learning situations.

Ebbinghaus measured the retention of random numbers. This is explicit knowledge. He learned by concentration, entirely on his own.

Ebbinghaus’s list of numbers to memorize don’t connect to anything else. Yet most learning is exactly that: connecting new concepts into existing frameworks.

Most learning comes from experience. I retain lessons learned in the company of doing things with others.

I wonder what the forgetting curve for tacit information looks like. I hope I can retain more than 3% of the lessons of experience I gain in concert with others.

Walking in nature once more

After brunch, I read part of Thoreau: Walk and Be More Present in Brain Pickings. This inspired me to get off my duff and take my first walk in nature this year. The heading of my chosen trail is a five-minute drive from my house.

This is Wildcat Canyon. My path is relatively flat; it runs along the western rim.

Wildcat Canyon is a protected regional park although cattle graze the slopes. I have a Boy Scout medal for walking along the bottom twenty years ago. It’s inspiring western scenery big enough to get lost in and it backs up to residences built right on the property line.

Back in history, the De Anza Party missed finding San Francisco Bay on their first expedition because they were walking in Wildcat Canyon. You can see the Bay from the end of the trail I’m walking. So near and yet so far.

Thank you, Henry David Thoreau for rekindling my walking spirit.

 

Future of Conferences: Why People Attend

I’m investigating the future of f2f conferences. Will conferences be disrupted à la newspaper business? Will successful events become communities instead of one-shot deals? What’s the future for L&D conferences, say five years out? How can we make conferences more effective?

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First of all, Why do people attend conferences?

Participants attend conferences to network and to learn. Specifically, they attend to:

  • Meet face-to-face with peers
  • Gather information about products, techniques, trends
  • Develop in their careers, see and be seen
  • Get the latest news, find out what’s hot and what’s not
  • Learn techniques and practices to apply back home
  • Socialize with members of their profession
  • Find out about new products, kick the tires, hear from vendors
  • Learn the basics of L&D from experts
  • Attend workshops and be certified
  • Get out of the office day-to-day scramble, retreat, break routine
  • Expose mind to new ideas from other fields
  • Add people to personal and problem-solving networks
  • Build reputation in the industry (speaking, presenting papers)
  • Represent one’s company as a leader
  • Pick up an award for performance for your company or product
  • Hunt for a job, add potential hirers and hiring companies to personal network
  • Renew acquaintances with old friends, refresh the Rolodex
  • Learn a particular skill to apply back home
  • Corporate has already picked up the bill; it’s a free-ride, time off
  • Form opinions on Big Data, informal learning, LMS, Open API, MOOCs, and other buzz-topics
  • Basic foundation skills for those new to the field: ROI, design, media
  • Earn a Certificate to put on the wall
  • Peruse recent books, meet authors, buy trade books
  • Prestige of being the employer’s representative
  • Another “Badge” 
  • Drink with pals
  • Be treated by exhibitors
  • Gossip about vendors and peers
  • Free drinks and h’ors d’oeuvres
  • Chance to brag about accomplishments
  • Find solutions to problems
  • Set benchmarks, compare employer to others
  • Introduce new products and concepts, e.g. The Experience API
  • Allay fears of missing out
  • Visit exciting cities like New Orleans, San Francisco, and (for some) DisneyWorld
  • Meet with vendors, see demos, compare products
  • Have fun!

What have I missed? Why do you attend conferences?

As with learning, conference-going is a much different experience for an experienced participant than for a newbie. The newbie will be enthralled to hear to likes of Ken Blanchard and Bob Pike. They’re inspiring speakers with great foundational messages. The veteran has heard it all before, perhaps from those same guys, and hangs out in the hallways, not the breakout rooms.

My gut tells me people attend conferences for Learning, Networking, Career Development, and Socializing. These activities blur into one another. The unifying theme is learning, the participant learning how to improve performance and fulfillment on the job.

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Related: my Scoop on the future of conferences.

Trade fair – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Trade fair – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A trade fair ( trade show, trade exhibition or expo) is an exhibition organized so that companies in a specific industry can showcase and demonstrate their latest products, service, study activities of rivals and examine recent market trends and opportunities.

Source: en.wikipedia.org

I’m curious about what’s going to happen to L&D conferences in the next five years. Will their business model be disrupted? How will they change? How can they be more effective? I’m doing this study on my own, unsponsored, and there’s no hidden agenda.

See on Scoop.itFuture of Conferences

Dumping my land line

I’m cutting the copper cord. My long-time business land line [(510) 528-3105] goes dead on Tuesday. I’ve been encouraging people to use my smartphone [(510) 323-5380] for the last six months. Please make a note of it.

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The stupid land line is a phone-spam magnet. It rings two or three times a day. I can’t count the times my “Google specialist” called to put me on page 1 of people’s results. Indians call, offering to help me figure out Windows (I am 100% Mac.) Most of the time, there’s no one on the other end at all; I just get dead air. Getting rid of this nuisance will also cut my ATT bill $15/month.

Speaking of which, let me pass along a tip. Sticker prices for tv/phone/net bundles are a starting point, not what you need to pay.

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I’m an ATT U-verse customer. My bill was due to rise to $250/month as my “discount bundles” on various services expired. I told ATT I could get comparable service from Comcast for $120/month and that I didn’t see why I shouldn’t move my business over to them. “Would I stay if they dropped the price to $170?” I agreed, so long as they threw in their fastest internet connection and a new modem. Deal. A five minute conversation shaved $80+ from my bill.

#JAYCROSS

Peeragogy

howardIn his keynote presentation at Online Educa Berlin last week, Howard Rheingold emphasized co-learning.

Since the teacher learns more than the student, let’s all be both teachers and students. Esteemed co-learners, your job is to create new co-learning communities. If a group doesn’t exist for facilitate your informal learning, make one.

Peeragogy is a set of techniques for collaborative learning and work. It’s a both a discipline and a living book. Howard kicked off the Peeragogy project, many authors contributed to the work, and now a team is dedicated to making it ever better. Housed on a wiki, Peeragogy keeps on improving. Peeragogy walks its talk.

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Version 2.0 of the book is out now. Free pdf & brand new softcover for $20.

Version 3.0 is in progress and you can help! Join “Peeragogy in Action” on g+.

I made a contribution on Peeragogy in the corporation for an early version of the book two years ago that presaged some of the current buzz about learning ecosystems.

The Workscape, a platform for learning

Formal learning takes place in classrooms; informal learning happens in workscapes. A workscape is a learning ecology. As the environment of learning, a workscape includes the workplace. In fact, a workscape has no boundaries. No two workscapes are alike. Your workscape may include being coached on giving effective presentations, calling the help desk for an explanation, and researching an industry on the Net. My workscape could include participating in a community of field technicians, looking things up on a search engine, and living in France for three months.

Developing a platform to support informal learning is analogous to landscaping a garden. A major component of informal learning is natural learning, the notion of treating people as organisms in nature. The people are free-range learners. Our role is to protect their environment, provide nutrients for growth, and let nature take its course.

A landscape designer’s goal is to conceptualize a harmonious, unified, pleasing garden that makes the most of the site at hand. A workscape designer’s goal is to create a learning environment that increases the organization’s longevity and health and the individual’s happiness and well-being.

Gardeners don’t control plants; managers don’t control people. Gardeners and managers have influence but not absolute authority. They can’t makea plant fit into the landscape or a person fit into a team.

In an ideal Workscape, workers can easily find the people and information they need, learning is fluid and new ideas flow freely, corporate citizens live and work by the organization’s values, people know the best way to get things done, workers spend more time creating value than handling exceptions, and everyone finds their work challenging and fulfilling.

The technical infrastructure of the Workscape

When an organization is improving its Workscape, looking at consumer applications is a good way to think about what’s required. Ask net-savvy younger workers how they would like to learn new skills, and they bring up the features they enjoy in other services:

  • Personalize my experience and make recommendations, like Amazon.
  • Make it easy for me to connect with friends, like Facebook.
  • Keep me in touch with colleagues and associates in other companies, as on LinkedIn.
  • Persistent reputations, as at eBay, so you can trust who you’re collaborating with.
  • Multiple access options, like a bank that offers access by ATM, the Web, phone, or human tellers.
  • Don’t overload me. Let me learn from YouTube, an FAQ, or linking to an expert.
  • Show me what’s hot, like Reddit, Digg, MetaFilter, or Fark do.
  • Give me single sign-on, like using my Facebook profile to access multiple applications.
  • Let me choose and subscribe to streams of information I’m interested in, like BoingBoing, LifeHacker or Huffpost.
  • Provide a single, simple, all-in-one interface, like that provided by Google for search.
  • Help me learn from a community of kindred spirits, like SlashDot, Reddit, and MetaFilter.
  • Give me a way to voice my opinions and show my personality, as on my blog.
  • Show me what others are interested in, as with social bookmarks like Diigo and Delicious.
  • Make it easy to share photos and video, as on Flickr and YouTube.
  • Leverage “the wisdom of crowds,” as when I pose a question to my followers on Twitter or Facebook.
  • Enable users to rate content, like “Favoriting” an item on Facebook or +!ing is on Google or YouTube.

Some of those consumer applications are simple to replicate in-house. Others are not. You can’t afford to replicate Facebook or Google behind your firewall. That said, there are lots of applications you can implement at reasonable cost. Be skeptical if your collaborative infrastructure that doesn’t include these minimal functions:

Profiles – for locating and contacting people with the right skills and background. Profile should contain photo, position, location, email address, expertise (tagged so it’s searchable). IBM’s Blue Pages profiles include how to reach you (noting whether you’re online now), reporting chain (boss, boss’s boss, etc.), link to your blog and bookmarks, people in your network, links to documents you frequently share, members of your network.

Activity stream – for monitoring the organization pulse in real time, sharing what you’re doing, being referred to useful information, asking for help, accelerating the flow of news and information, and keeping up with change

Wikis – for writing collaboratively, eliminating multiple versions of documents, keeping information out in the open, eliminating unnecessary email, and sharing responsibility for updates and error correction

Virtual meetings – to make it easy to meet online. Minimum feature set: shared screen, shared white board, text chat, video of participants. Bonus features: persistent meeting room (your office online), avatars.

Blogs – for narrating your work, maintaining your digital reputation, recording accomplishments, documenting expert knowledge, showing people what you’re up to so they can help out

Bookmarks – to facilitate searching for links to information, discover what sources other people are following, locate experts

Mobile access – Half of America’s workforce sometimes works away from the office. Smart phones are surpassing PCs for connecting to networks for access and participation. Phones post most Tweets than computers. Google designs its apps for mobile before porting them to PCs.

Social network – for online conversation, connecting with people, and all of the above functions.

Conclusion

Learning used to focus on what was in an individual’s head. The individual took the test, got the degree, or earned the certificate. The new learning focuses on what it takes to do the job right. The workplace is an open-book exam. What worker doesn’t have a cell phone and an Internet connection? Using personal information pipelines to get help from colleagues and the Internet to access the world’s information is encouraged. Besides, it’s probably the team that must perform, not a single individual.  Thirty years ago, three-quarters of what a worker need to do the job was stored in her head; now it’s less than 10%.

 

 

#ITASHARE   #JAYCROSS    #OEB14

My 13th Online Educa Berlin

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Why Online Educa Berlin is just so damn much fun! writes Donald Clark. I couldn’t agree more, so I won’t repeat him. Online Educa is 20 years old. This was my 13th time.

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Me, on the right, attending the Jazz Age party at Educa.

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The Christmas Market at the Europa Center

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The Kurfurstendamm in lights

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Howard Rheingold, outside the former Stasi headquarters. Inside, an extensive exhibit on the Gestapo.

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Stephen Downes makes a great case for personal (not personalized) learning.

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Howard Rheingold is a champion of co-learning. Take a look at Peeragogy.

Online Educa is a crossroads for divergent ideas. (People from 100 countries attend.) I’ll be documenting some of the things I learned in the weeks ahead.

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Pals

#JAYCROSS #ITASHARE  #OEB14

Berlin, here I come

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I’m packing my bags for OnLine Educa Berlin. This is the event’s 20th birthday. It will be my tenth. Or maybe my eleventh. frontdoor

Every year, ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN attracts over 2000 participants from 100 countries worldwide, making it the most comprehensive annual meeting place for technology-supported learning and training professionals.

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THIS YEAR’S ONLINE EDUCA THEMES

Changing Learning

Modern education is evolving into a different shape. Faced with the demands of an ever more complex world, today’s learning is being delivered in a multiplicity of forms and a variety of new environments. What will the shape of future learning look like? How are we changing learning to meet our new demands? How is learning changing us? What does changing learning offer us?

The 20th edition of ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN will focus on the evolving shape of modern learning and the opportunity that the variety of modern, technology-assisted learning brings.

Better and Best Practices

Submit your proposal and share the “how to” of better and best practices. These examples grow didactic and digital competencies of learning professionals and improve relevant skills and capabilities for learners. Share what you have learned using specific techniques and methods.

Training, Learning and Talent Development Strategies

Implement training, learning and talent development strategies with learning professionals at Business EDUCA. Do technologies designed for organisational learning meet organisational needs? What are the views of consumers of learning materials on certification and assessment as they develop their talents and capabilities? What is the key to promote engagement?

The Cutting Edge

Submit your proposal and showcase the cutting edge. Share solutions, services or products for educators, learners, trainers and learning providers which support innovative methodologies, didactics and pedagogies and effectively use digital tools. Including consumer tech, wearable computing, augmented learning and?

The Education Ecosystem

Submit your proposal to discuss the education ecosystem. What are the latest thoughts and examples of how education can be unbundled to create flexible, scalable and affordable learning and training?

The New Business of Learning

Submit your proposal to define the new business of learning. What lies beyond the traditional monopoly on supply of education? Increased (global) access and reduction of costs? Institutional models alter, new organisational strategies are determined and foundations for collaboration and partnerships are explored: contribute your experiences.

(Big) Data for Education, Learning and Training

Contribute your expertise of using data for education, learning and training. Possessing and using relevant data can determine the value of education better than ever. What is your story?

 

#ITASHARE   #JAYCROSS

Cruising the Danube with Viking River Cruises

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Uta and I took a Viking River Cruise down the Danube from October 31 to November 7. Everyone from my doctor to our airport driver had seen Viking ads on Public Television and wanted to hear how it went. Here goes.

Would we do it again? Absolutely — if the locations were desirable. Our cruise started in Nürnberg, and stopped in Regensberg, Passau, Melk, and Vienna before ending in Budapest. (Itinerary.) We’d been to Nürnberg, Regensberg, and Passau before, but that was more than 40 years ago. We’d spent a week in Vienna last year. Budapest was a new one for us. All of these are beautiful, intriguing places to wander around. (Our photos start here.)

Here’s the drill. At each stop, Viking provides a half-day tour and lets you explore on your own for the remainder of the day. There’s often an optional, extra-cost tour available. For example, most passengers went to a concert in Vienna. All meals are provided on the ship although we generally chose to lunch in town.

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The great thing is that you visit half a dozen cities without having to check in and out of hotels. Your stateroom floats to your next destination during the evening.

Our stateroom had a balcony. That’s a shelf perhaps two feet wide with a couple of chairs. It makes the otherwise tiny room feel larger. The bathroom is minuscule but serviceable.

Food on the ship was excellent, as was service in the restaurant and bar. Smiling, friendly staff. An enthusiastic maitre’d insured that the kitchen provided vegetarian meals for Uta. Bartenders remembered our preferences. Overall, we felt pampered.

Beer and wine flow freely at mealtimes, but we bought the optional Silver Service package which prepays for unlimited cocktails and premium wines. At $210, our consumption of house brand champagne, among other libations, put us ahead on the deal.

Our fellow passengers were primarily American retirees. Those PBS ads apparently work. By and large, the passengers were cordial, outgoing, nice people. A few were loud, look-at-me boors. Particularly memorable was the asshole who wore his black Stetson even when visiting a cathedral.

Every day featured a PowerPoint presentation in the lounge on a topic such as the EU, how canal locks work, and the life of Mozart. Viking is really missing the boat here. The presentations should provide the foundation for the tours on shore. Now, they are banal, poorly organized time-wasters.

I’m going to get on the soapbox for a moment, for this is the realm of my expertise as a learning professional. First off, the presentations need a purpose, e.g. conveying the history of the Holy Roman Empire, the Habsburgs, the Romans, or the Reformation. This would lay the foundation for the guided tours. Second, the presentations should be designed in a compelling fashion (see Presentation Zen, Nancy Duarte, Cliff Atkinson). Third, the on-shore tours should draw on the presentations.

The on-shore tours were led by well-meaning locals who seemed to think we were interested in dates and names (that no one would remember five minutes later) instead of stories and the big picture. The guides made up their own content; a well-crafted outline would guide the guides to become better at what they do.

We didn’t want to fly to Europe to spend a mere six days, so we flew to Nürnberg a week early and later spent a few extras days in Budapest before coming home. Pre-cruise, we visited the medieval walled city of Rothenberg, spent three days pigging out in Alsace, and wandered around Bamberg for a couple of days.

Post-cruise we spent two extra days in Budapest on an extension offered through Viking. Were we to do this again, we’d save money by making our own arrangements in Budapest. In fact, we’d have opted to book our own flights and just buy the cruise package.

As it happened, Viking arranged our flights. We flew out on United cattle class. I detest United. No individualized entertainment, bad attitude, and they always seem to have their hand in your pocket. (Although the Japanese hostess who checked us in at SFO was the friendliest agent I’ve ever encountered). We flew back Lufthansa, middle seats in one of the last rows on the plane. 

Our total tab for Viking, including airfare, drinks, tips, and the two days at the Budapest Marriott came to $8,447, about $1000 day. This is an expensive way to travel.

We’ve been to Europe thirty or forty times, generally renting a car and following our own itinerary. I wasn’t confident we would enjoy the regimentation of a managed tour, too reminiscent of If it’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium, but we encountered enough variety that this was not a problem.

Overall, I’ll give our Viking experience four stars out of five. Please leave comments on my Flickr site or Google Groups. 

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#JAYCROSS