Ok, so this has come up with a couple of friends in the last few days, so it seemed to be an appropriate topic, even though it's not directly related to educational technology.
The first instance was when a friend was bemoaning the artwork and projects that their child had made at school. They were concerned over how to manage the amount in a way that might be meaningful later.
The second was when a friend tweeted that she was trying to put her infant son's 0-6 month clothing away. I recommended that she save 1-2 items only, and put the rest somewhere for reuse (for another child) or to give away when the time came. She resisted.
So I thought it might be useful for someone out there if I shared my "system," especially for things like kids' drawings and school work. So here are the "rules" I use:
- Never save anything that is a worksheet or fill-in form.
- Things that are seasonal (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, etc.) should go with the seasonal decorations after you put the child's name and year on the back. I get my kids' stuff out every year at every holiday. They hate it (they're now 17 and 13), but I love it. And it makes it reasonable to store.
- Things that are self-created or drawn go into big bins that are separated by cheap manila folders. One bin per kid. Each folder designates their year in school. The stuff doesn't go in the folder, but behind it. The folder itself just lets me know where things are.
- At the end of the year, the kids and I survey their bin and pick the things they find really special and want to keep. The other stuff gets tossed, except...
- Another friend made a great suggestion that you could take digital photos of the other artifacts and save them on your computer. Then, the digital file becomes part of their "record" later. :) I LOVE this idea and plan on implementing it.
That's it. Someday, I'm "supposed" to make all this into a scrapbook. Don't know when that will happen, but that's the plan, anyway.
What are your ideas for keeping this stuff organized?
Today, I got a sense of what it's like to be a user. Not of drugs, but of technology. As in, the one to whom the phrase "user error" is attributed.
I never liked that phrase. To me, it feels like blame on the user end, and as Donald Norman can tell you, often user error is as a result of bad design. In my case, I had followed all instructions, as had the staff assistant who was assisting me. We checked, we double-checked, and because we had problems before, we even triple-checked. This time, when things didn't work as they were supposed to (for the fourth time, I might add), I sent a note off to the powers-that-be explaining that we were done using their system and would be looking for something else.
Today, I spoke with a very nice person who was clearly not trying to make me feel bad, but who said that it appeared that we hadn't done thus-and-so in order to make the system work. I double-checked with the staff assistant, who outlined doing exactly what we had been instructed to do. While the tech on the phone was clear that it was "possible" there was a glitch, we are also clear that none of us is absolutely 100% certain that we clicked the one button. So in the end, I'm left thinking that the help desk is probably thinking (as would I, were I sitting where they are) that we were the ones who erred.
But here's the thing: I'm not a novice computer user. I can write code, install a CMS, and even mess with PHP if a gun were held to my head. But I'm left feeling incompetent. And why is that? Because, as Norman tells us, technology is the one area where the user blames his/herself even when design is bad.
Now, I don't think the instructions (written by this group and the nice person who helped me) are necessarily bad. However, I do think the system is highly unusable, from a usability perspective. So why do I feel like an idiot anyway?
- Make less promises. I have the tendency to "volunteer" for too much, and end up making myself crazy trying to do it all. So from today, "I'm sorry, I can't help you with that" is going to enter my vocabulary.
- Plan the work, and work the plan. This is my resolution to work on preventing my distractibility (ooh--a shiny!) from getting in the way of my accomplishments. Even if it means turning off Twitter. Or, god-forbid, my music.
- Honor those around me. I have been utterly blessed by a large circle of fabulous people--at work, at home, and in my virtual life. I need to thank them, more. Starting now. So thank you.
So I got a new TV. An HD TV. Flat panel, sleek, nice. Even bought an HD cable to make it work. Figured we already had HD downstairs, so it would be a matter of putting the HD cable into the cable box and it'd be a "go." Except that my cable box was old enough that it didn't HAVE an HD input. #Fail. So I unhooked the old box and headed to my cable company (My company is Comcast, by the way) for an exchange.
I know, I know. Your cable company. The company you love to hate. They charge for everything, it takes forever to get service, and service calls occur under 80-hour windows, where you're trapped in your house, desperate for the cable guy to come, afraid to even go to the bathroom lest they appear while you're unavailable. Have heard it all. Have experienced a lot of it. "We're experiencing high call volume right now. You will be a decade older when we finally answer and you won't remember what you needed anymore." This time, I was informed that the amount that I was paying for HD wasn't for the service, but for each TV's HD service. $15 per. Nonetheless, I sucked it up and took the box.
The box I liked. Compact and sleek, I saw it as living nicely under my TV, taking up very little room. So we set it up, and we called to activate it. They did so over the phone, and we waited for it to take effect.
And today, 24-hours later, I realized that something was just "not right." I didn't have all the channels, and I kept getting a "you must activate this box" message. So I called. And got the "longer than normal" wait-time message. Gotta admit, I wasn't feeling all that "Comcastic."
Enter social media. I had had an experience a year or so ago when my internet went out and I couldn't get through to tech support. I Tweeted something like, "Comcastic my fanny!" on Twitter, and lo and behold, @comcastcares (Frank Elias) sent me a message asking me what was up and how could he help? I thought, "Ok, no harm no foul," and direct-messaged my phone number. From text messaging on my cell and Twitter, Frank fixed my internet issue. No phone call, no waiting, and actually, very little hassle.
So this time, while I simultaneously was on hold waiting for phone support, I also fired up my computer and tweeted, "Looking for @comcastcares or one of Frank's compatriots. Need a reset (or something) on the new HD box. kthx."
A minute or so later (still on hold on the phone), @comcastBonnie asked me what was up (Frank has expanded his network, clearly). And again, within 10 minutes, I'd direct-messaged Bonnie my phone number and she activated the box, eliminated the message, and then told me I'd have a buttload more channels now. Before I ever got through on the phone.
And this is why, even though my cable company frustrates me sometimes, I absolutely love them, too. Because people like Frank and Bonnie have decided to make it better. By using social media. By having conversations with their customers, rather than just talking at them. If anyone at corporate Comcast reads this, I hope they call their Twitter crew right away and ask them what else they can do to improve the company. Because these people get it.
Twitter useless? Hardly. And this is an example even a luddite could appreciate.
Okay, gang. To start, this post will probably offend someone out there who doesn't realize that I'm typing this with a smile on my face. And for the record, I do like Apple products (in fact am typing this very post on my Mac). So take this as you will.
Mad props to @honeydo for the link, as well, which she knew would send me over the edge. What she didn't know was that I was in serious trouble for a blog post this week, and this gave me enough to go on. So thanks for saving me from the horrors of ice cream cake!
A Few Questions...
I have a few questions for you. Got an iPhone, Mac, iPad, iWork, iLife (in every sense of the word)? Do you watch Apple unveilings online? Salivate madly (and stand in line) for the latest and greatest? Is your greatest wish to move next door to an Apple store? Is Steve Jobs your yardstick for design, dress code, and behavior? Are you one of the hipster, black-turtleneck-wearing crowd?
Oh, and are you single? (if the answer to the rest of the questions is "yes," then no great guess as to why the single thing, folks.) :P
The Solution (or iSolution, I guess)
So now, we have an iSolution to the iSingle problem: http://cupidtino.com
Here's what it looks like:
Here's what I think (in no particular order):
- OMFG. Srsly?????
- Well, maybe that will get some of these fanboys/girls paired up and off the streets, where they are a danger to themselves and others
- Is there a business model for this? Oh, wait. Fanboys. Fangirls. Nevermind. ;)
- Will everyone's profile pic have them sporting a black turtleneck and hipster glasses?
- How many users will use Steve Jobs' picture as their profile image?