Attention: Non-Tech Content!

This post doesn’t have anything to do with instructional technology. But it is season-appropriate, and I couldn’t resist sharing this article that explains the “Campbell’s Misery Index”. Yes, the soup Campbell’s.

Some smart folks at Campbell’s Soup found a correlation between soup-buying and weather. To capitalize on that finding, they created an algorithm, based on weather conditions, to determine when and how frequently to run radio ads.

There are some other fun cold-related science tidbits in the article as well, including something close to my heart, too-cold office spaces.

Maybe I’ll post some tech content later this week. But today is definitely a soup day.

5 Tips For Getting Your Tech Questions Answered

It happens to all of us. Yes, even me! Our tech breaks down and we need help. But sometimes help is hard (and uncomfortable!) to get. Here are 5 tips, reblogged from The Chronicle’s Profhacker blog, one of my favorite Instructional Technologies resources. These are geared towards asking for help on Twitter, but replace “Tweet” with “email” and it still applies. Since I worked tech support for a software company before coming to NOVA, I’ve been on both sides of the fence and these tips will make your support person (including me) LOVE you!

  1. Be as specific as possible: What, exactly, is the problem you’re experiencing? If you’re creating a web page and you have a validation problem, which document is the one giving you trouble? Share the link to the document, if possible. If it’s a software problem, what is the error message you’re getting? What operating system are you using?
  2. Avoid ambiguous use of “it”: Don’t Tweet something like “It keeps saying my header isn’t valid!” or “It won’t let me send the email!” We can’t help you because we don’t know what “it” is. The browser? Your text editor? The W3C Validator? Your desktop email client? A web-based email system? (See 1. above: “Be specific.”)
  3. Include a link: If a particular page or file is giving you trouble, share a link to that page or file so we can look at it, too. Otherwise, we’re just guessing about what your problem might be.
  4. Use a link shortener: You don’t want your link eating up the 140 characters in your Tweet, so use a service like Google URL shortener. (In my experience, the built-in Twitter link shortener is inconsistent, but your mileage may vary.) If you don’t like Google’s there are several other shorteners to choose from. (Okay, this one isn’t THAT relevant, but check out link shortening anyway; it’s pretty handy. -CB)
  5. Include a picture: If you are getting an error message of some kind, or if your web page looks funny, or if you’re not sure what kind of port you’re looking at, including a screen capture or a picture along with your Tweeted question will allow others to see what you’re talking about.  (PLEASE do this! It’s super easy to do, especially in Office 2010. If you want to see how to include a picture, let me know and I’ll teach you! -CB)

As for me personally, I’m much better at doing tech support face to face, with a computer (preferably the computer that is acting up) in front of me. So never think that you’re inconveniencing me if I tell you I need to come visit you in person. I’m happy to do office calls!

iPhone 5: It Just Works?

With record sales since its release a couple of weeks ago, the iPhone 5 is the new must-have gadget. But is it worth the hype?

I’ll be honest, I’m not a Mac acolyte. I grew up on Apple products, switched to PCs in the late 90’s, and I’m still trying to get back up to speed on the Macintosh computers of today. I do perhaps love my iPad a little too much, but I still mainly use PCs and my phone is a Droid. So I don’t really have the user experience that Mac fans do.

Those Mac fans are saying that the iPhone 5 delivers a lot of features they’ve been wanting for a while. The screen is larger; the 4G is faster. The new design is sleeker and lighter than the 4S. iPhone 5 has built-in turn-by-turn navigation and a “smarter” Siri (though guys, she’s just a search engine with voice recognition). The headphone jack has been moved from the top edge to the bottom. The camera has been improved, and includes a panoramic photo option. And most importantly, you can get one plated with gold!

On the down side, you may have heard about some issues with the maps (released to compete directly with Google Maps…by the way, I adore Google Maps). Apple actually issued an apology for this flub, though not, as yet, a solution.

Also, since the new phone is shaped differently, customers will have to repurchase all of the accessories that they used with previous Apple products (chargers, docks, cases, etc.) Some iPhone 5 owners report wishing the phone was a bit more substantial; this is a complaint I would probably have since I’m very hard on my gadgets and I try to only buy technology I can’t kill. The case scratches easily, and some users report light leaking out from the screen through the power button or cracks in the case.

I don’t think the iPhone 5 is either the newest big thing or a flop. Should you buy one? If you like Apple products, go for it. If you want to see what having an iPhone is like, go for it. Just don’t leave that gold one sitting out anywhere.