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Tag: cellphone

USA Border Crossing Horror Stories [en]

USA Border Crossing Horror Stories [en]

[fr] Histoires d'horrreur en entrant aux USA. J'ai de moins en moins envie d'y remettre les pieds, j'avoue.

I’ve been listening to On The Media again, one of my favorite podcasts. You know, each time one of these US border crossing horror stories finds its way to me, what little desire I have to enter the US just melts away a bit more.

Here are a few I came across lately, and an old one that happened to a friend of mine.

Now off to less depressing things for what’s left of my week-end — like eating my delicious plum tart.

20.10.2013 update: adding more below as I stumble on them.

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Trucs en vrac [fr]

Trucs en vrac [fr]

[en] A bunch of tips: kitty litter in the bathtub and how to clean the litter box properly and easily, deactivate 3G for better phone call quality, kill all your iPhone app "history" to improve battery life, think about your motivating end objective to find the courage to tackle the unexciting task at hand, keep ginger/garlic paste and other fresh spices in the freezer for Indian cooking, and use the Google Calendar web interface to add tasks to your days - with checkboxes!

Je pourrais faire un article pour chacun, mais non, allez, en vrac.

  • désactiver le 3G sur son smartphone pour que ses appels passent par le 2G, bien moins chargé (données!) — meilleure qualité sonore et moins d’appels coupés
  • pour se motiver, ne pas penser à la tâche à faire mais à l’objectif plus large vers lequel il nous amène (réserver les billets d’avion pour l’Inde… bleh… par contre, je me réjouis d’aller en Inde, et pour ça il faut des billets d’avion!)
  • la caisse des chats dans la baignoire pour diminuer la quantité de litière qui se balade dans la salle de bains (et dans l’appart); bonus, on nettoie sa baignoire chaque jour avant la douche (c’est vite fait)
  • pour vider la caisse, ma technique, inspirée par la vidéo en bas de cette page (super informative) sur tout ce qui touche à la litière pour chats:
    1. utiliser de la litière “clumping” (vous aimeriez gratter dans un bac de sable imbibé de pipi, vous?)
    2. soulever la caisse et l’agiter de droite à gauche comme un tamis: les divers “blocs” remontent à la surface
    3. mettre avec la pellette tout ce qui est visible dans un petit sachet plastique que vous nouerez une fois l’opération terminée et stockerez “quelque part” en attendant la prochaine sortie poubelles (balcon/rebord de fenêtre en hiver, ou boîte hermétique)
    4. taper une ou deux fois la boîte au sol (attention les voisins de dessous!) pour décoller ce qui serait resté coller, agiter, ramasser…
    5. faire un dernier “tour de bac” systématique, en raclant le sable d’un côté à l’autre, pour être sûr qu’on a rien oublié et ramasser les petits bouts qui trainent!

    Répéter 2-3 fois par jour (suivant le nombre de chats et de caisses), et dès qu’il y a des petits îlots dans la caisse :-). En passant, le nombre de caisses idéal c’est “nombre de chats +1” (cf. détention convenable du chat d’appartement)

  • pour la cuisine indienne, garder au congél dans des sachets ziploc feuilles de curry, blocs de pâte au gingembre et à l’ail, feuilles de coriandre, piments…
  • utiliser l’interface web de Google Calendar qui permet d’ajouter facilement des tâches à un jour donné (avec la petite case à cocher, s’il vous plaît!); on peut les glisser-déplacer d’un jour à l’autre, les créer directement sur la bonne journée (cliquer le lien “Task” quand on crée un événement), ne pas leur attribuer de date au départ et en attribuer une en faisant “monter” la tâche dans la liste classée chronologiquement. Reste à synchroniser avec iCal (si ça peut), mais c’est pour plus tard. (voir mon calendrier idéal)
  • [Edit 09.05.12: attention, il semblerait que ceci soit de l’intox! cf. commentaires] tuer tout “l’historique” des tâches sur votre iPhone pour récupérer une autonomie de batterie respectable (je crois que c’est ça qui m’a fait passer de “bon sang, 20% restants à 14h” à “bon sang, 76% restants à 21h!”): double-clic sur le bouton pour faire apparaître la liste, appuyer longuement sur une des applications pour faire afficher les petits boutons “kill” en haut à gauche de chaque icône, puis s’en donner à coeur joie; confirmez-moi si ça marche!

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Lift12 Mobile: Fabian Hemmert [en]

Lift12 Mobile: Fabian Hemmert [en]

[fr] Je suis à la conférence Lift12 à Genève ces prochains jours. Voici mes notes de sessions.

Live-blogging from Lift12 conference in Geneva. These are my notes and interpretations of Fabian Hemmert‘s session — best effort, but might be imprecise or even wrong!

lift12 1100305.jpg

Technological innovation is often about more Mpx, more Mb, but what about social innovation? Uses, habits?

Example: the telephone is now everywhere; new habits: checking it all the time.

The comfort zone of innovation is the average people. Why not find an extreme tiny niche? Example, women and mobile phones. steph-note: women are a tiny niche??

Maybe women’s phones are more than pink. What should it look like, what should it feel like? Cultural probes. Gave women kits for self-observation to document their communication habits. 12 months (long project) — wide age range, also included men. 100+ prototypes.

Bodystorming.

What they wanted was “less”: politeness, privacy, communication time-outs => prototyping.

Politeness.

Example: you’re with somebody, the phone rings, and you look at the caller, and you’re not sure if you should take the call or not (be polite to the one you’re with or to the one who is calling?) => conflict. Your mother calling might be really important or… not at all.

“Tactful calling”: a way to express the urgency of a phone call in advance. Is it urgent? Is it just to chat? Is a decision pending upon the response to the phone?

Pressure on the phone (physical pressure) controls the emergency/importance of the call.

What about people who think they’re important? It’s a social problem, not a technical problem.

steph-note: some video issues slightly disrupting the call.

Idea: delete yourself from somebody else’s contacts (some guy keeps calling you… you’d rather he didn’t…)

Tactful calling: you can set it to urgent but short, and you can also reject a call with a reason — tactfully.

If you meet the expectations of women, you might exceed the expectations of men. (Marti Barletta)

They moved a little more to the edges, out of the comfort zone of innovation.

Another case: 100 low-income etc. kids in the streets. Street Lab. Also, Deaf Street Lab.

But… at the end of the Street Lab (4 weeks) they had to leave. Not very sustainable.

Networked neighbourhoods, connecting various spaces.

So: embrace niches, find diverse users (average users will get you to average products). Base innovation on participation.

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Thoughts on Dystopian Tech Future Vision [en]

Thoughts on Dystopian Tech Future Vision [en]

These last weeks I’ve been catching up with On The Media (partly thanks to being back in the saddle), and earlier this evening I was listening to the February 18 piece on “Our Future With Technology”.

I had a few thoughts as I was listening that I’d like to share with you.

First of all, I quite strongly believe in the position defended by Brooke at some point which says that technology mainly allows us to become more of what we are. This is along the line of what I try to explain about “dangers” of the internet regarding teenagers: most of the trouble they face online is the same kind of trouble they face offline. Yes, sometimes with a twist, and other consequences. But in a very general way, the internet is not a completely alien place — as our local online world sociologist Olivier Glassey said a few months back during a talk I attended, we need to stop thinking of the “online” as a “separate space” (the expression he used is “le lieu de l’altérité”).

A bit later in the show, they are talking about augmented reality: what will it be like when we can wear glasses or contact lenses which, along with facial recognition software, will allow us to identify the people we come upon in the streets? OMG-there-will-be-no-privacy-anymore the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it <insert more dystopian panic here>.

I’m always surprised that this kind of thought experiment never includes things like “well, some people might end up covering their faces” or “we’ll start wearing masks” or “there will be a way to opt out of being ‘facially recognized'” or… whatever coping mechanism one can imagine. Because as technology advances and disrupts the way we are used to living, we also evolve coping or evading mechanisms to resist change. Why does run-of-the-mill dystopian thinking always depict us as passive victims of the unstoppable advance of technology?

We’re not passive. We usually actively resist change. For example, we now carry on our phones everywhere we go, but we choose to mute them or screen our calls — something that was pretty unthinkable 30 years ago when all we knew was landlines.

With the dystopian glasses on (the show was constructed as an attempted dialogue between utopian and dystopian visions of our tech future) the idea was brought up that augmented reality might at some point allow us to ignore or obliterate what we disagree with — extreme example: not seeing people with radically opposed views to ours. Bob concluded “people obliterate people”, which in my sense is right: we are already obliterating what we don’t want to see. Technology might allow us to do it better (“becoming more of what we are”) but sticking to what is familiar and ignoring the rest is fundamentally human. If I wasn’t so tired right now I’d fish out this article I read (no memory where) which shows how we very selectively remember what already fits in our worldview and obliterate the rest.

I see the “people obliterating people” thing at play in India. In the same spaces (I’m talking of streets or neighbourhoods here), you have completely parallel and distinct societies that live on with very little knowledge or understanding of each other. Literally invisible to each other.

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Teenagers and Spelling [en]

Teenagers and Spelling [en]

[fr] Pour moi, la dégradation constatée de l'orthographe des jeunes a principalement à voir avec le fait que leur pratique d'écriture a maintenant le plus souvent lieu dans des espaces "non normés" (c'est-à-dire en-dehors du milieu scolaire et "des adultes", où "écrire juste" est important). Les SMS font bien entendu partie de ces pratiques d'écriture, mais son caractère "court" a plutôt comme conséquence l'apparition d'abbréviations très tôt dans l'écriture des jeunes, plus que la "perte" (!) de notions grammaticales ou orthographiques.

Here’s a case of “comment or post?” where I first commented, but now am thinking that I would rather have posted. So I’m reproducing [my comment](http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2007/05/08/dystruktshun_of.html#comment-242922) to danah’s post titled [dystruktshun of inglesh as we no](http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2007/05/08/dystruktshun_of.html) (I know it’s in my [comments page](http://www.cocomment.com/comments/steph) and embedded in the sidebar of the blog, but I need to remember that many of you read this blog through RSS):

> As a French teacher, [I was asked this question](http://www.tsr.ch/tsr/index.html?siteSect=343901&sid=5541448) (are blogs destroying our children’s spelling?) a couple of years back. My take on it is that compared to 15-20 years ago, most of the kids’ “writing activity” goes on in uncontrolled environments. When I was at school, if I wrote, it was usually at school. With pressure to have correct spelling, or I’d have to correct it / get a bad mark. Or I’d be writing a letter to my Grandma (better check the spelling there too).

> Today’s teen spends most of his/her writing time on IM, in e-mails or text messages, or in blogs/SN. Peer pressure to “write correctly” can’t really be said to exist.

> Text messaging has brought to them abbreviations. I remember discovering (stupefied!) that one could abbreviate words when I was in 9th grade (tjs=toujours, bcp=beaucoup). Now, kids know all these — and many more “bastard abbreviations” (jta=je t’adore) that might make our older skin crawl.

> I’d say that there are two ways in which teens’ writing today is “modified” by their writing habits:

> – peer spaces (“uncontrolled” regarding “proper writing”) => funky spelling and disregard for “grammatical rules”
> – length limitation (SMS) => abbreviations

One thing I wanted to add, which is “somewhat related”, is that historically, spelling stabilised when the printing press came into use. That explains why in French (and English too, for that matter) written spelling can be so widely different from pronunciation: the oral language has continued to shift, but our spelling has remained frozen. (If I’m saying stupid things here and you know better, let me know — but as far as I remember my linguistic courses from university this is how things happened.)

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CASH Cards and Cellphone Train Tickets [en]

CASH Cards and Cellphone Train Tickets [en]

[fr] En Suisse, on a la carte CASH (avec laquelle je paie parcomètres, billets de bus, et parkings souterrains), le numéro court 222/999 pour recevoir les horaires de train par SMS, et maintenant les billets de train par MMS (pour certains trajets, commandables en ligne ou par téléphone).

Near the end of the [latest Cranky Geeks episode](http://www.crankygeeks.com/2007/02/cranky_geeks_episode_53_bittor.html) there is some talk about paying things through cellphones, general lack of quarters (change) in the world, and concert ticket barcodes sent by MMS.

Here are some of the things we already have in sometimes-backward Switzerland.

First, the [CASH Card](http://www.cashcard.ch/en/ca_home.htm). It’s basically a chip which is added to nearly all the current debit cards banks provide their customers (people here use debit — [Maestro](http://www.maestrocard.com/) — much more than credit). It’s specifically designed for the payment of small amounts. You “put cash” on your card at the ATM through your debit account (30-300CHF). Then, off you go, your pockets full of virtual change.

I use CASH to pay my bus fares, feed the parking meter, underground parking, payphones, and even small purchases in kiosks or the baker’s. It’s cheaper for the vendor than either debit or credit, and doesn’t require an authentification code. It’s fast.

Second, [train tickets on your mobile](http://mct.sbb.ch/mct/en/mobile-ticket). For certain trips, you can order the ticket online or by phone (I called them to make sure I’d understood things right, as the web page is a bit confusing), and receive the barcode for this ticket by MMS. This does require going through a [somewhat cumbersome sign-up process](https://www.sbb.ch/mct/wi/shop/b2c/register.do), but hey, you only need to do it once (and I did *manage* to follow through to the end).

One very useful thing the SBB/CFF have been doing for sometime now is they allow you to [query the train timetables by SMS](http://mct.sbb.ch/mct/en/sms.html). Send “Lausanne Geneva” (without quotes) to 222 or 999 (depends on carrier) and they’ll give you the timetable of the three next trains for that trip. It gets smarter, too: “Lausanne Geneva 1500” gives you the first three trains after 3pm, and “Lausanne Geneva 1800.ar” the three last trains to arrive before 6pm. If you want platform information, try “Lausanne Geneva 1700 g”. You can also ask for trains departing in 2 hours, for example: “Lausanne Morges 2”.

I’m waiting to see a merge between these two last services: ask for timetables via SMS, and then order the MMS ticket directly for that trip (when those will be available for all trips). But actually, it’s not too bad as it is: you can order your MMS ticket by calling the free number 0800222211. They answer fast and are friendly (I called them three times with nasty questions as I was writing this post).

[When I was in Lisbon](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/09/26/scattered-lisbon-travel-notes/), I was totally impressed by the little black box that my host had under his windscreen, and which let him in and out of paid parkings, sending him a bill at the end of the month. That would be fun and practical to have.

What useful mobile/card services does your country have?

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Nokia 6280 Shortcomings [en]

Nokia 6280 Shortcomings [en]

[fr] Au début, j'étais réjouie du fait que mon Nokia 6280 était compatible mac. Maintenant, j'ai un peu la gueule de bois, même si j'aime toujours autant le toucher du clavier.

Appareil photo de vraiment mauvaise qualité, synchronisation capricieuse, dictionnaire t9 à la mémoire courte, impossibilité de marquer comme lus tous les SMS pas lus, volume d'alerte de SMS trop fort par rapport à la sonnerie (impossible à régler séparément), réveil qu'il faut réenclencher chaque jour, et lien vers Sunrise Live (qui n'est pas mon opérateur) gravé pour l'éternité dans le menu rapide que l'on peut soi-disant configurer entièrement.

I’ve had a Nokia 6280 since September, and unfortunately the initial excitement of managing to make it sync with my Mac has worn down. Here’s a round-up of what works, and doesn’t work.

The phone is pretty, it’s the right size to fit in my hand, and the keyboard has a very nice touch (particularly important to me as I have RSI). The sliding mechanism is fun to play with (specially to answer calls or hang up), and it overall behaves quite correctly as a device to call other people and be called.

However. Not all is well.

One of the reasons I bought this phone was the 2Mpx camera. Well, to put it simply, it’s crap. Too much compression, artefacts, patchy colors, and an overall impression of digital zoom.

As I said, the phone works over iSync to sync contacts and calendars. When it works, that is. Half the time computer and phone are unable to recognize each other. (Yes, it could have something to do with the computer, but for the sake of this post, I’m going to blame it on the phone.)

The T9 dictionary works fine until you want to teach it new words. It remembers them for a little while, and then forgets about them. Obviously, instead of being permanently added to the dictionary, they are kept in some kind of short-term memory of very limited capacity.

Flooded with many unread SMS, maybe because you use Twitter on your mobile and forgot to turn it off? Fear not, you will be given the chance to trudge through those 30 messages one by one to mark them as read. You can “mark” them individually and then delete them all in one go, but you can’t “mark as read” in a batch.

There also seems to be no way to set the volume for SMS reception and incoming calls separately. This means that the “beep-beep” announcing the arrival of text messages is way too loud, and the ringing for incoming calls is still not loud enough.

The alarm has to be reset each day. Learning this involved quite a bit of oversleeping, until I understood that just checking the alarm time was right and then exiting was not sufficient. The “OK” button needs to be pressed each day to reactivate the alarm.

The icing on the cake? The customizable “Go to” menu (for easy access to frequently requested functions) sports a shiny shortcut to the web portal homepage of a carrier which happens to not be mine. Hard-coded. First position. Unmovable.

Crossposted to hate.my.phone.

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Back Home [en]

Back Home [en]

Switzerland is grey and dark and cold. No colours, no sun.

I’ve got my cat back (with a bit of extra weight, just like his mistress who now feels a little tight in her trousers), my brave little car started at the turn of the key, only one of my plants has died (it was already on the way down before I left), but my cellphone has been blocked.

I feel a bit dazed. The change has been brutal. I feel disconnected, as if my presence here wasn’t completely real — or worse, as if India was just some kind of weird dream, a sensation I sometimes have when I am over there. Something else I need to sort out at some point, I guess.

I’m not too sure what I’m going to do now. There are lot of things to unpack, an extra CD/DVD-rack to buy (!), a few things to type up, and lots of photos and videos to upload and organize. The flat still needs work, too.

I think I’ll take a Lush bath.

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Bye-Bye India… Already [en]

Bye-Bye India… Already [en]

I’m back in Bombay, my stomach is healed, and I have a little more than twenty-four hours left in India. My cellphone number in India is now dead (“You need at least 20Rs credit for roaming, Madam, so you need to recharge. Minimum recharge is 345Rs.”) and although I’d really love to hang around a bit longer, I’m missing my cat too much — so I decided to confirm my flight after all and go home.

You’ll see the rest of the photos, videos, and the backlog once I’m back in Switzerland.

It was lovely being here. I’ll be back. As soon as I can.

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