Monthly Archives: October 2012

Online and in flight

Following my thoughts on data access in Europe I am now flying home from Italy and I’ve started to contemplate Internet access in the air.

Remember the days when you walked into a hospital and were told to switch off your mobile phone? Then one day this seemed to stop being important – someone realised that mobile phones didn’t effect hospital equipment ….. or maybe technology advanced.

It was also once impossible to get wifi on a train. Then suddenly it’s common place particularly on virgin trains and I find it immensely useful particularly when travelling for work.

Planes are one place where the still insist that you switch off electronic devices, or at least switch them to flight only mode – is there a serious risk to the aeroplane if someone makes a telephone call mid flight or uses the Internet over a cellular network? (Answers on a postcard please)

It occurs to me that this is one place where a wifi hotspot could make a fortune. Airlines have a captive audience often for several hours and I know that I would pay extra for the privilege if it were available.

I guess in posting this I’m looking for more information from someone who is in the know re: the possibility of wifi in the air. Science fiction? In the pipeline? Or someway off?

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Data access in Europe

This week I’ve taken a holiday to Sorrento in southern Italy. Naturally I couldn’t come away without bringing some technology with me – I have my iPhone, iPad and (in the hotel room) my laptop has come along for the ride.

Something which I’m finding slightly frustrating is that the SIM card in my iPad doesn’t work while I’m abroad, yet despite being on the same network the SIM card in my mobile phone works just fine. I knew this before I travelled having checked with O2 but sitting here in the picturesque Amalfi I’m wondering why.

Having said that my iPhone works fine, it does but my provider places certain restrictions on usage. O2 send me frequent text messages to remind me that I can use up to 25 mb per day for £1.99. I enquired about the cost of going over this allowance and was told that if I did regularly I would be charged £0.65 per mb.

In a normal month I use an average of 1.5 gb worth of data which is around 50mb per day, it therefore occurs to me that a 50% reduction in data usage when I’m using my mobile phone more (particularly navigation, and the Internet to research places I’m visiting) means that I’m not getting what I want out of my provider. Coupled with the fact that my iPad sim doesn’t work abroad I’m actually feeling very disconnected.

I suppose you could argue that I’m on holiday and therefore should be relaxing and revelling in this apparent connectivity restriction; on many levels I agree with you, but it still leaves me asking the question why is it such a problem to use as much data as I want to in 2012? Surely this problem is just going to get worse in years to come as more and more people connect multiple devices to the Internet. Is it because operator costs increase by providing access abroad? Or is there some other reason?

According to Ofcom there is some other reason. A 2012 ruling has regulated charges that mobile operators can impose for providing these services and the maximum charges are on a decreasing sliding scale over the next 2 years. By summer 2014 operators will be able to charge a maximum of 20 cents per mb for using data abroad.

My experience in 2012 tells me that one way operators are getting around these price limitations is by simply capping the amount of data their customers are allowed to use when abroad or in the case of the iPad simply not supporting data access. Surely this cannot be a sustainable model? I can’t see my data usage decreasing over time …… One solution would be to buy a local sim card when I go abroad but again this seems tiresome …..

Have you had data access issues in Europe? How did you solve your issues? Also if you’re a mobile operator how do you see the future developing for data access abroad?

Categories: Customer Service, Mobile Phones, Technology, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Does technology help the unorganised man?

As MD at Footsqueek I spend a fair degree of my time working in schools, meeting head teachers and promoting products.

I was in a school earlier to today and had a meeting with a head teacher. As the conversation progressed we started talking around organisation and she openly admitted that she is quite a disorganised person, she went on to say that she was getting an iPad which would “sort her out”.

It occurs to me that this particular head teacher is going to depend on technology to “become organised” but my question is, is it not the person that needs to be organised enough to use the technology?

To give an example – my diary is on my iPad, and my iPhone synced through Microsoft exchange. I need to be organised enough to put appointments in the diary otherwise the technology won’t help me to remember what meetings I have. Surely a disorganised person wouldn’t put the information on the iPad diary just as they would forget to put it in the physical diary?

How organised are you?

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Working on the move

In recent years its become much easier for people to work on the move no matter what their location. This was brought home to me when I was in Dublin recently and I received a text message from a client. With relative ease I was able to connect to a wifi network, logon to his system and make changes all without impacting upon the purpose of my overseas visit.

The Internet has opened up a world in which people expect an immediate response. This is obviously a good thing because it means that things advance quicker but it also means people are less tolerant to delay.

Before the advent of e-mail communication it was common place for a worker to send a memo via internal or external post, which might take a day or two to arrive – naturally the response may also take a day or two meaning that a relatively simple communication could span over a week or more. In today’s Internet world that interaction could be completed within minutes arguably making employees time much more productive.

It also means that people expect response within a much quicker timescale. If I send an e-mail and haven’t received a response within 24 hours I usually start to think about chasing the receipient. If its a known person I often chase if I haven’t heard back within a few hours. Does this mean that technology is making us more impatient as a society? Or are we becoming more efficient?

Regardless of your standpoint I personally believe its important now and again for us all to take stock and to become incommunicado. Switch off your iPhone / iPad, don’t respond to e-mails for a few days – nothing is ever so important that it can’t wait … Or is it?

To my mind switching off is the only way to take time out and truly recharge your batteries. If like me you’ve been known to wake up in the middle of the night and answer an e-mail or two while in bed I believe this is particularly important – does anyone else find themselves rarely switching work off? Answering e-mails on the couch? On holiday? Assuming the answer is yes I guess the key question is what long term effect that is going to have on our mental capacity. Can work become a drug like addiction?

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What does it mean to be technology native?

When I did my IT GCSE I remember having a great deal of discussion about technology immigrants versus Technology natives. At the time we were all told that as 16 year olds in 2002 we were technology natives because we had grown up with technology. Our teacher on the other hand was a technology immigrant.

Since 2000 we have seen tremendous technological change, we’ve seen the introduction of social networking, developments of technology such as iPhone, iPad, and a cultural shift in the way technology assists in the workplace.

All of this has happened since I have “grown up” so does that mean that I am still a technology native? Or as new technology emerges that I start to adopt am I slowly starting to fit more into the category of technology immigrant.

At risk of opening up a huge can of worms could it be suggested that there is no such thing as a true technology native? I’m sure when the calculator first started to appear in schools the children of the day could have been referred to as technology natives ….. But as technology has moved on I’m sure those individuals would not consider that they have grown up with technology; much more that technology has developed around them as they have got older.

The truth of the matter is that as each new piece of technology emerges we all migrate towards it making us all technology immigrants. Only when technology stops developing will the next generation be true natives and I don’t see technology ceasing to move forward in the imminent future.

That said as technology advances people do become more comfortable adopting it. I for example am much more comfortable using technology than my mum. This suggests that the as technology advances the learning curve to start using it is easier for those who have grown up in the digital age – I wonder if technology will ever advance to such a level that I find it difficult to adopt? I’m sure my mum never had difficulty using a calculator in school so why is it that she is scared of the iPad?

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Responding to customer feedback

Some of the regular readers of this blog will know that I recently had a bad experience shopping at Audi Cheshire Oaks. I thought it only fair to Audi to update readers on action taken since I blogged about the experience.

First of all well done Audi – I was contacted via twitter, they apologised and asked for my contact details and promised to look into it – so far so good – definitely on the right track to making me happy.

They even followed through – I had a phone call from the sales man that I spoke to in the showroom who was vey apologetic and wanted to put things rights. Slightly frustrated that I had to explain to him what I wanted a quote for (again) having told him all of the details 10 days earlier during my visit to the showroom – but I guess you can’t expect everything to be perfect.
The difference this time is that he followed it up by actually sending me the quote – It seems third time really is lucky – Certainly more proactive …..

So after all of that am I going to do a deal with the company? In honesty probably not – at least not from Audi Cheshire Oaks ….. To my mind if this is the service you get prior to making a purchase then I dread to think what the after sales service will be like but it is comforting to know that Audi as a company do take complaints seriously and do seem to act upon them – that means that I’m definitely not put off Audi as a company – to my mind that is successful damage limitation for which the company must be commended.

Anyone else had any good or bad experiences?

Categories: Automation, Customer Service, Technology, Travel | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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