The importance of access

Dear readers,

My long-suffering blog subscribers will have been surprised I’m sure, to have received an email informing them I’d written a new post here on Hmmm… That’s because the last email notification was seven months – count them! SEVEN!!! – ago.

Yes, some of that was because I was just too busy with offline interruptions to write. But not so, the past few months. No, indeed. The problem was far worse. I’m reminded of the line by that incredibly annoying character Richard Thornburg, on the plane in Die Hard 2: “the truth, ladies and gentlemen, is far more terrifying…”

13334048894_001d3e53d1_mI lost access.

It’s a long and convoluted story involving countless emails, more-than-countless phone calls, hours spent checking the availability to re-purchase domain names, meetings with several IT guys in all shapes and sizes, and many more white hairs choosing to appear on my head – which, of course, I’ve decided to resolutely ignore. I shan’t bore you with any more details.

Suffice it to say… I’m back!!! And praise God! I missed blogging more than I realised that I would. I especially missed it during the Christmas / New Year season, as it was my blogging anniversary (blogiversary?!) and the first time since I started Hmmm… that I missed blogging with @FiFYI in the #blog12daysxmas challenge.

Mea culpa. I’ll know next time.

It’s only when something is broken that we realise how much we’ve taken it for granted. Sad, but true. So my plan is to learn from this experience. ‘Regular maintenance of the things I’d rather not bother with’ is my new policy. And I’ve even future-scheduled this ‘maintenance’ time and set appropriate reminders on my phone, so if I get busy with offline distractions, or if I forget or get lazy, then it’ll remind me. And I can’t get angry with my beautiful phone that Hubby gave me for Christmas, which still feels so new, can I? No 🙂 So yes, back ups are always a help, aren’t they!

Make sure, dear readers, that you maintain access to your stuff. Keep usernames and passwords and back up copies. Let loved ones know your secret stash spot for said usernames and passwords. And do it now.

So anyway, that’s my story. And I must admit, I’m pretty proud of myself that I’ll – hopefully – learn from the experience.

What about you? Have you ever lost access to something – that you only discovered was important once it was broken?

CC image courtesy Yuri Samoilov on Flickr

Raising kids #1

I posted yesterday that my kids aren’t noisy ones. And I’ve been mulling over for a while now, a few posts with regard to this.

Quite regularly, I’m given compliments regarding the good behaviour of my children. And I love hearing these comments! So I thought I’d share what works for me. Disclaimer: this is only what’s been working for ME. I hope that it may work for you, too, but each and everyone’s situation is different, hey!

So, here goes. #1. Rewards first.

One of my favourite Bible verses is Proverbs 29:18, which talks about ‘where there is no vision, [the] people perish’. Meaning: you’ve got to have an end-goal in mind. Something to work for. A reward that you can see, that you want, that makes the doing of stuff-that-you-don’t-want-to-do, worthwhile. Call it a bribe, if you will, but honestly, who doesn’t work without one? Adults get paychecks, so why shouldn’t children?

With that in mind, I love the app ChoreMonster. It’s free, and it helps my children be responsible for their own ‘rewards’. Each child has their own profile, and there are dozens of different chores that you can load onto their profiles. I’d suggest just a few for starters, because you don’t want to overwhelm them! As each chore is done, the child send it to you for approval, and they get to spin a carnival-style prize wheel, which gives them either good prizes – monsters to collect (and there’s good reading practice for younger kids, showing what each monster likes) or kid-style bad prizes (warning: some toilet humour involved here!)

Once the parent has approved the chore, they also receive points towards a reward of their own choosing – again, there are dozens to choose from. So there’s Maths skills involved there as well, where my kids add up exactly how many points they need to get to their wanted reward. And the best thing about these rewards – they’re completely earned, so there’s no subjectivity and ‘it’s not fair’ cries from little mouths. Parents can also give ‘boost points’ if they want, for good behaviour, doing well in a spelling test at school, helping with the gardening, etc etc.

But what I like the most? It’s fully customisable. I don’t actually use the default chores, or the default rewards. I use their program, and have tailored it completely to our own household and my own expectations. So ‘chores’ for my kids include ‘pack schoolbag’ and ‘brush teeth’ and ‘unpack the dishwasher’ but I also have ‘child-specific homework’ (eg. readers for Mr6 but Maths Mentals for Miss10) and ‘violin practice’ (three different reward options for three different lengths of practice) on there too, for example.

With the rewards side of things, I use a point = one cent system. So if a child wants to exchange ChoreMonster points for cash to spend at the shops, they know that 200 points equals a $2 coin. Or if they want me to treat them to McDonald’s, then they need 500 ChoreMonster points (for each child for wants to go). But generally, they use it for in-app purchases for their favourite games. So they can buy gems for DragonVale, for example. On Sunday just gone, both Miss10 and Mr6 bought diamonds for the app SingingMonsters because the app was having a currency sale. They were pretty stoked – Miss 10 bought 100 diamonds, Mr 6 bought 50. Miss7 was a little put out, but then again she *had* bought gems for the MyLittlePony app just a few weeks earlier!

So – that’s my Tip #1. Rewards first. Give them a vision, something to work towards, and make sure it’s something that THEY want.

And all the best with it!

Have a lovely day, dear reader 🙂

— KRidwyn

Big Bang. Times two.

For the past few weeks now, I’ve looked forward to Monday nights. As a “Big Bang Theory” enthusiast, the idea of new episodes each week has been exciting. In fact, I’m so hooked on BBT that I’ve even blogged about it for work!

I started my Masters in IT in July 2010. The majority of my classes have been on a Tuesday  evening, and since I teach violin Tuesday evenings, I have been unable to (virtually) attend classes, and so instead I generally listen to the podcasts, later in the week. This semester however, my INN530 unit has been on a Monday. And it took me until after I had missed three classes, to realise that I had a clash between the two. (Whoops!!! Sorry, Kate! “Confession via blog?” That must be akin to “Death by misadventure”?!!)

So – last Monday, I was DETERMINED that I would not be distracted by the latest BBT, and that I would DEFINITELY attend class. Especially seeing as this lecture was the biggie for me. Coding. And I’ve never written any code in my life! So I teed up Hubby to feed, bathe, and put the kids to bed, bought a headset, and went. And I’m so glad (cough) I did. Kate, in her usual incredible manner, simplified the basics for dummies like me, to such an extent  that I – almost! – managed to keep up with her pace. And I was also able to keep my brain from exploding until after I had left BlackBoard Collaborate.

So. Ceridwyn the coder? I hardly think so! Rather, I think that learning to code at the ripe old age of 37 is going to do my head in. Oh well. At least I’m going to go down trying…!

CC Image courtesy calixto at http://www.flickr.com/photos/calixto/6005872093/

Still reeling…

I received a huge shock last night. Probably the biggest in years. And it came in the form of the bill for my new Telstra “Ultimate” USB Modem.

Some people may have been following the long tale of my rollercoaster relationship with Telstra. Suffice it to say, the USB I bought back on 7 March, to replace the Vodafone USB (which won’t expire til August, but whose casing died months ago, which has made it basically unusable) has only, just last Thursday, started talking to my gorgeous new Macbook Pro. So for the first month of its 24 month life, I’ve been using it with my husband’s Toshiba dinosaur.

 

My Vodafone plan was a 5Gig one, and I never exceeded the limit, so paid just $39.94 per month. For what seems like ages.

 

My Telstra bill was – wait for it! – $305 and change. OMG!!!

 

Yes, I had dropped down to a 3Gig plan. I figured that for the past 18 months, I hadn’t used all 5Gig, so hey – what’s the harm? (Plus, the 3Gig with Telstra was still $44.95 per month, and there’s no way I could afford more Gig!)

So out came the calculator. And lo and behold, I actually managed to use 6Gig last month. On hubby’s Toshiba dinosaur.

And in the week that the USB’s been on my Mac, I’ve used a Gig already.

Whoops.

(And by the way, that’s with NO movies, no TV shows, no music, and negligible YouTube watching. And who has times for games with my life?)

— I guess I’m a power user. And hadn’t realised it. And suddenly I realise I’ve joined another group of people too – that of the “broke power-users”. Hmmm…. sad.

Like leaving a cult…

I’m not particularly enamoured of Telstra at the moment. Which is quite a turnaround since March 7, when I was ecstatic with my purchase, a Telstra “Ultimate” USB Modem. The modem which I have since discovered is NOT compatible with my gorgeous new Macbook Pro.

And it’s not a case of ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’. I’ve been spending quite a bit of time with Telstra employees recently. Hours and hours and hours worth, actually. On the phone with easily a dozen different people (the one called Nicole hung up on me, which I was pretty disgusted about. I don’t think I’ve ever been hung up on before… ever!) plus face to face with Dave at Caloundra (lovely person but unable to help) and then again with Casey and another young man – Mac owner, even! – at Morayfield yesterday.

The long and the short of it – I’ve been referred to yet another phone number. This one’s a 1800 number for Customer Relations, apparently. And it’s the only way I can actually start the process to cancel my Telstra contract.

The way  I see it: I signed up to a 24 month contract under the proviso that the USB modem would be compatible with the Mac I would be buying. And it’s not. So, in my opinion, I shouldn’t be forced to continue upholding my end of the contract, when they broke it first. I think that’s reasonable. And it’s only taken about 18 hours to get to this point. But I guess I need to keep fighting for what I want – to get out from this contract.

Ridiculous, really. All I wanted was a device that would do what it said it would do. And instead of spending upward s of 18 hours sorting out a compatability issue, I would have really appreciated only spending two minutes installing it, and then connecting to the net so I could keep on working. But no. And now I’m going to spend yet more time – time I can’t afford cos those Uni assignments are looming very fast! – on the phone with Telstra trying to sort out a problem which shouldn’t have even existed in the first place. yay.

It feels like breaking a contract with Telstra is like leaving a cult. And I know. I’ve been there before.

It’s a fine line between furious and depressed, don’t you think?

And I’m walking that line right now. It’s pretty insane the rollercoaster ride of emotions I’ve been on over the last day.

I am now the proud (I think!) owner of a 13inch Macbook Pro. I am also the owner of a two week old, top of the range, Telstra Ultimate Mobile Broadband USB modem.

And who would have thunk it – the two ain’t compatible. And it’s taken over TWELVE (insert the worst expletive you can think of) HOURS of sitting on the phone to close to ten ‘consultants’ between the two companies. Plus the hour I spent sitting in the Caloundra Telstra shop today, getting their version of Tech Support. BTW there is absolutely no comparison between f2f and phone support. I was my usual polite self, but Nicole from 133933 must obviously have felt that hanging up on me was an appropriate way to treat a customer. I happen to disagree.

So now I’m on the downward slope. Heading towards depression. The best Telstra can do is offer me Tech Support with someone ‘who knows Macs’. Thursday of next week. The best Mac can offer is an appointment at their Chermside Genius Bar; Wednesday of next week.

Yay.

I wonder if I’ll ever actually blog from my own computer ever again?

blah.

Sorry for venting. And thanks for reading. I appreciate thinking that someone out there may actually care about the crappiness that I find myself in.

Bummed!!!

I blogged the other day about the i-envy that I suspect I have. Hubby had brought home a new phone (no, not an iPhone, but close enough, in comparison with my current one!) and I realised that I was just a little bit envious. I forgot to mention in that blog post that he had also told me he had been given an iPad a few months ago, and it was sitting in the techie’s office at work. Still in the box.

Yes, I screamed at him (mock scream, of course, BTW) and have been nagging at him for the past two days for him to bring it home so I could have a play. Check it out for myself, sort of thing. He had to find it, of course, but I guess my desire must have sunk in, because he brought it home with him tonight. Put it next to the HUGE box of chocolates that he had also brought home today, part of Miss Six’s school fundraising drive.

And you know when I realised that I really had it bad? When I opened the iPad box first. Instead of the chocolates. And I’m a chocoholic. Sad, really.

But the worst bit was? After ALL that excitement? I can’t really use the thing. No internet out here. No WiFi, no connecting to anything. Hence my purchase of the Telstra USB I’m using right now. Which makes it a bit tough to use an iPad!

So. All in all? I’m bummed. What’s the use of being super-excited about the iPad2’s smart cover (sorry, but I feel the need to include the link again, here. It’s just SO cool!) if I can’t even use the darn thing?!! Bummed.

Maybe hubby will agree to move?! LOL! Seriously though. Hmm…

Getting ready…

Bit the bullet yesterday afternoon and (hopefully!) bought my last purchase on credit for a while. (With a paycheck on the imminent horizon, it was time to spoil myself one last time!)

You see, one of the problems with my internet-capability over the last 18 months has been the intermittent mobile broadband signal I get out where I live. Forget ADSL or normal broadband – out here, we don’t even get town water. We have rubbish bins and mail delivery, and that’s it. (Not that that stops my local council for charging me for ‘public transport’. Ha! There’s no bus , train etc for miles!!!) We don’t even have a local shop – our closest is 15 minutes drive. Which I LOVE because it’s SO peaceful and quiet (well, when my kids are asleep that is) but I can’t stand when it comes to technology, because my internet has been just so darn unreliable. Especially when there’s any hint of rain in the air.

18 months ago, I bought myself a Vodafone broadband stick. It was going to be cheaper than the others, and I figured that the coverage would be fairly similar to the other networks. D’Oh! Bad move.

So yesterday, in preparation for my NEW COMPUTER that I’m counting the days til (can you tell I’m just a little bit excited about this?!!) I went out and got myself (and I’m quoting the side of the box here) a “Telstra Ultimate Mobile Broadband USB Modem”.

Woohoo! I’m set now! Bring on the computer I can attach it to! LOL