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Posts Tagged ‘data

The London Underground system will get 4G coverage by 2019. Yay?

The writer’s reaction summarised in the tweet above was one of dismay. Mine was simply welcome to 2012.

I visited the UK twice two years ago and can relate to the wireless-less experience. I discovered during my second visit that some stations deep underground had wifi so I enjoyed intermittent access.

The article’s writer seems to be predicting some sort of social pandemonium brought about by people yammering loudly and incessantly.

Will it happen? Yes, but not likely to the extent and frequency he projects. Our own train system gets a few loud mouths who have no volume control or social awareness. But really, how many people actually talk that often on their phones?

The writer might get actual anecdotes and data from other systems that have 4G access about loud mouth frequency. He might also find out how such access actually helps commuters.

Being able to communicate by voice, video, text, or emoji provides a crucial channel for alerts and in emergencies. 4G access also activates many eyes in a human monitoring system of nefarious activities.

Writers might like making predictions based solely on opinion and limited experience. They could do better with critical data and lived experiences.

Now if only more readers learnt to tell the difference between these writers…

When I conduct workshops or do talks, I often bring my own Internet connection with a mifi device. 

When I had the presence of mind, I took note of how data I consumed. 

I estimated the amount of data by comparing the before and after quota of my prepaid 4G SIM account from M1.

My talks are interactive and I rely on Google Slides. But these sessions rarely extend beyond an hour and do not require as much data. 

My workshops last about three hours and rely on more media-rich resources. But I save on data consumption by making local versions of online videos. 

I share this as a reminder to myself and as a tip for others roughly how much data to set aside when bringing your own connection while providing professional development with others.

When I first heard the news that Twitter made its analytics dashboard available to all, I jumped on it straightaway.

I was surprised to learn of my reach or what Twitter calls impressions. That said I have no doubt that others have a far wider reach.

But now I am wondering about the reliability of the analytics dashboard.

I discovered the analytics tools on 28 Aug. However, the date and time seem to be set for some other part of the globe. That said, my reach for 27 Aug as recorded on the morning of 28 Aug was 27,263 (see screencapture below).

tweet_activity_analytics_for_ashley_1

The analytics engine was already collecting data for 28 Aug as evident by the small bar to the right of the highlighted one.

On 29 Aug, I checked for activity on the 28th. I moused over the 27th accidentally and noticed that the count went up to 28,842 (see screencapture below).

tweet_activity_analytics_for_ashley_2

I am not sure why the numbers changed.

Perhaps the counts got adjusted for the time and date difference. Perhaps older tweets were getting views two or three days after being posted and their hit counts were not yet stable.

The numbers seem to settle about two days into collection. It might be best then to monitor on a weekly or monthly basis.

That was lesson number one.

What is worrying is the low engagement. I have read a few reviews by other individual tweeters [example from Gizmodo] and they say the same thing.

Each of my tweets gets between 4000 to 5000 views. But you can count on two hands (and occasionally include the feet) the number of reader interactions with the tweets. These include retweeting, favouriting, clicking on embedded resources, etc.

The tweets with higher interactions tend to be question-oriented. Ask a question and you are likely to get responses. The tweets with lower interactions are information-oriented. Provide something of value and the consumer consumes. Do not expect a thank you, feedback, or a pass-it-on.

This behaviour is not unique to Twitter. When I was privy to my former department’s Facebook reports, our engagement rate was equally low.

If I was a company I would be concerned that customers were not engaging with me. As an educator carefully curating and sharing, I might be a bit concerned about the viewing habits of my informal audience and learners.

I used to say today’s learner seems to move at twitch speed. This is not another way of saying they have short attention spans because they do not. Anyone who has observed someone else immersed in a game or in a state of flow will realize how much focus gamers have.

I mean to say that they move superficially from one resource to another due to the breadth of information presented to them. Their rallying cry seems to be tl;dr (too long, didn’t read).

Now I am tempted to say that my followers move at Twitter speed. That might sound like superficial consumption, but at least they read and read lots of seemingly disparate information. It is the brain foraging as this MindShift article points out.

So another lesson might be to leverage on Twitter as the learner expects. Not so much in a forced provide-feedback-in-a-classroom way, but in an informal, scattered goodies way or a curiosity-driven, #hashtag-focused chat.

Today I would like to share three lessons on change management that one might draw from a utility bill.

It may sound strange, but there is one monthly bill I almost look forward to receiving every month. This is my utility bill for electricity, water, and gas.

I do not actually look forward to paying money. I like seeing the comparison table that I get via an e-bill.

utility_bill

This is my August summary. I take some pride that despite having a large apartment, I use comparatively little by way of utilities. The asterisks refer to comparisons with other apartments in my building and the national average based on the size of my apartment.

My household keeps our electricity bill low by using LED bulbs, using energy efficient appliances, rarely using the air-conditioner, and having devices that switch standby devices totally off. I am also a tyrant about electricity discipline.

We keep water waste to a minimum by having low-flow taps and adjusting the WC flow to its most efficient. I am not sure what we do with gas except that it is sometimes more efficient to microwave small amounts of water than to heat it over a stove. It boils down to good personal habits.

I have invested the most time, money, and effort in saving electricity because that is what I have the greatest control over and there are a variety of devices and processes at home that use it.

I have not changed any major appliance since I bought them almost a decade ago, but I got the most energy efficient ones I could then. I put the computing devices on power schedules so they do not run when we are not using them.

 
I initially had CFL lights (which were energy savers) but changed my often used lights to LEDs (which use even less electricity) despite the high initial cost. I also invested in two devices that prevent standby devices from using electricity (IntelliPlug by OneClick, exact model here).

I found out as much as I could about these devices, tried a few, monitored the results, and bought more when they seemed to be working.

The savings paid off almost immediately. Each month, I get reminded that what I started keeps working. When there are utility hikes, I do not see appreciable jumps.

So what are the lessons that might be scaled up and applied to change management?

First, it is important to invest in the long term. The short term might involve cost (money, time, effort, manpower, etc.) with no clear results for months or even years. But if you have a well-researched and/or proven strategy, you can be confident that it will pay off in the longer term.

Second, you must monitor the effects of change implementation. You must have a constant source of data to let you know that what you are doing is working or not. Objectively collected and analyzed data that yields good results is a morale booster and motivates change agents to keep pushing forward. Data that consistently points the other way is a clear sign to try something else.

Third, keep at it even when things are going well. The worst thing that can happen is to get complacent. Every process can be more efficient or more effective or something can come along to threaten a time-tried technique. It is important to stick to your guns when things do not seem to be going well or know when to switch tactics even if they are.

If you are ahead of the curve, your biggest competitor is yourself. If you want to keep staying ahead, keep establishing new long term goals, monitor your progress, and embrace constant change.

Rising above my experiences on getting data SIMs in Sweden and Denmark, I had five overall thoughts.

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First, it helps to be organized. SIM cards are small, finicky things that are easy to lose. I carry SIMs, adapters, sticky tape, and the SIM tray pokey pin thing in an SD card case. I might consider bringing SIM cutters too.

Second, in circumstances like mine, having an unlocked, dual SIM phone like the Moto G was invaluable. This phone was a cheap spare that also served as my son’s gaming device. I used one SIM slot for Lebara SMS and calls, and the other slot for Oister data. If the Lebara SIM worked properly, the spare slot could hold any other SIM, e.g., Singapore telco SIM for updates. Having your home country’s SIM is useful for receiving updates from family, credit card use, and, ugh, work.

Third, do not assume that all telcos operate the same way. Soon after I bought the Oister starter pack, a Finn entered the store and asked for a prepaid data SIM. We started chatting and he remarked that even though it was 2014, the standards of practice of prepaid SIMs were frustratingly varied. I agreed with him. But a combination of online research and friendly chats with people can minimize the frustration.

Fourth, the easy thing to do is pay ridiculous amounts of money to your home telco for calls, SMS, and data roaming. You learn a lot more and save some money by picking up a local SIM. Having a local number is also helpful to friends or contacts you might have in the country you are visiting.

Fifth, never underestimate how much data you might use, especially if you back up or sync photos online like me. Not all telcos will help you monitor your data use (Lebara provided rough voice messages if you called and sent an SMS notification when you had 50MB left; Oister offered no notifications). So go for more data than you need to avoid complications or hassles, and use a data monitoring tool/app on your device.

Hmm, maybe I should write about getting SIMs in other places I have travelled like Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand.

I am continuing what I started sharing about getting prepaid data SIMs in Sweden. Today I share my experience in Denmark with Lebara and Oister.

Here are the bare essentials. DKK is the Danish kroner (one SGD is roughly about four DKK).

Lebara

  • SIM is 49 DKK in convenience stores
  • 1 month: 1 GB, 50 DKK
  • APN: internet
  • Calls and SMS by default, data needs to be activated

Oister

  • SIM starter kit is 99 DKK in select stores
  • 7 days: 10 GB (cost included with starter pack)
  • APN: bredband.oister.dk
  • This is a data only SIM

Travellers have reported being able to buy prepaid SIMs at Copenhagen airport (CPH) at stores at Terminal 3. If you opt to do this, head for anything that resembles a 7-11 and ask.

I opted to wait until I arrived at Copenhagen Central train station. The 7-11 stores there sell Lebara SIMs and there was a Telia store there.

Telia
The Telia store representative I spoke to told me they had no prepaid SIMs and to ask at the 7-11s that dotted the station. When I tried to get more information (like where the next nearest store was), he practically shooed me out with his favorite phrase, 7-11.

Ta-at, Telia. If you do not need me, I do not need you!

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Lebara
A traveller provided good details at this travel forum about Lebara. Prepaid SIMs and data top ups are available at 7-11s and any convenience store that displays Lebara on its windows or walls. I was fortunate that Lebara set up a booth outside a 7-11 the very day I was there.

If you go with Lebara, you must buy a SIM pack and data separately. The SIM and 1GB of data cost me 99 DKK. This is not a bad deal for up to 30 days of calls, SMS, and 3G data access.

The SIM came in normal, micro, and nano sizes. However, not all stores will have the entire range. In Billund, only micro SIMs were available at a Netto store. But you will likely be spoilt for choice at a 7-11 in Copenhagen.

The data for the nano SIM I brought had to be activated over the phone. If you do not do this, you only have a calling and SMS device. First you have to call 5010-1234, press 3 and then 2 to switch to English. Thankfully the system remembers this setting. You listen to voice prompts to key in two codes. The codes are printed on a receipt when you purchase top up amounts at convenience stores. You might also get the same instructions in Danish and English on the receipt.

The SIM worked brilliantly in my mifi device without me having to change any settings. I was able to share Internet access to all the devices we brought.

But here is the kick: You are stuck with whichever plan you choose for at least 30 days. This might not seem to be an issue because you are not likely to be in the country for that long. However, you might use your quota before 30 days.

I thought that adding more credit would keep the data connection alive. I also wanted to go on a higher data plan (2 or 5 GB). But the system informed me by SMS that I could not do either. To change to a new plan, I had to wait till the old one was over.

I used the hotel’s weak wifi to find out that I could try calling tech support for help to change plans. I was informed over the phone that I had to buy another SIM for 49 DKK, call back, and get the credit transferred to the new SIM. Once I had the new SIM and transferred credit, I could stay on the same plan or choose a new one.

This made no sense from a customer’s point of view (I already had a valid SIM and more than enough credit) but I can see how this makes financial sense to Lebara.

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Oister
Once bitten, twice shy. I looked for alternatives and found Oister. The details of its offerings are in English here.

The short version: You pay 99 DKK for a starter SIM pack. You get 10GB of data over one week. Yes, 10GB, but for data only. No calls or SMS. But you can get around this with apps.

There is a catch if you have a device that needs a nano SIM. Oister only provides normal and micro SIMs. You have to bring your own SIM cutter or pay enterprising store owners 10 DKK to have a micro cut down to a nano.

The deal breaker might be the fact that the SIM is PIN-protected. You must type a four-digit PIN provided in the starter kit after restarting your phone. If you already protect your phone with a PIN, you must type in both PINs, one after another.

There are two cards in the starter pack. The first is a scratch card (with SIM) that provides the SIM PIN and another number whose function is not obvious. You might think it is a secondary confirmation code, but it is not. A helpful store staff told me if was for resetting the PIN should you forget what it was. I did not test this feature out.

There is another card with a much longer number. That is the activation code you use at this page. You type in your SIM card “phone” number in the first two boxes and the activation code in the third box.

These complexities prevented the SIM from being used in my mifi device. This was despite the fact that I deactivated the SIM PIN and manually included the APN.

Oister might be able to provide 4G access in places like Copenhagen, but the further out you go, the less reliable the service. I travelled to Billund by train and coach, more than 250km away from Copenhagen. The service was so unpredictable that I could much sooner win a coin toss than get Internet access.

There are other prepaid SIM providers in Denmark of course. However, they do not offer as much data as Oister nor are they as easy to find as Lebara.

Finding out how to get 3G or LTE access via prepaid SIMs while abroad is always high on my list. I often find advice on this matter in travel forums or blogs.

Bloggers tend to provide more details, but information can be out of date. So I am adding my two cents worth to the blogosphere if this helps someone in future.

Today I share my experiences and some practical tips on getting mobile access in Sweden with Comviq. Tomorrow I focus on Denmark with Lebara and Oister.

Prior to travelling in Sweden, I researched Tre (3), Lycamobile, Comviq, and Telia. I present them in the order of theoretical preference according to my criteria of cost effectiveness, availability of information, and any other outstanding factors.

This wiki was most helpful in that respect, but not all the information was accurate, current, or written from the point of view of a tourist.

Here is key information I extracted from the wiki. I provide my comments in bold italics. SEK is Swedish crowns. One SGD is worth about five SEK.

Tre (3) 3Bredband Kontant

  • SIM starter pack: 99 SEK including 5 GB vaild for 7 days (nope, must spend another 99 SEK for data)
  • APN: net.tre.se
  • Buy from 3Butiken store
  • Free (data) roaming in the 3 network of Denmark (nope, only for residents)

Lycamobile

  • SIM is free (nope, it was not)
  • 1 month: 1 GB, 69 SEK
  • APN: data.lycamobile.se
  • Username: lmse
  • Password: plus

Comviq Kontantkort

  • SIM is 49 SEK in stores
  • 1 month: 1 GB, 50 SEK
  • APN: data.comviq.se (was 4g.tele2.se in my device, very unreliable in mifi device)

Telia

  • SIM is 100SEK in stores
  • 1 month: 1 GB, 49 SEK
  • APN: online.telia.se

I thought I would go with Tre as I was in Sweden and Denmark, and the roaming option was appealing. But I found out this was available only to residents and that the initial starter pack did not include data. While I was there, stores like Kjelling and Co. were selling USB dongle starter packs for 89 SEK. But these sold like hot cakes and I only needed a SIM for my mifi device.

Tre fell off my list very quickly after I went on a wild goose chase involving two Tre and one Kjelling stores in Malmö.

Lycamobile was cheaper on paper and available at corner stores, but I could not find the package as described in the wiki. Folks were only willing to sell me a SIM and data separately. I began to realize that everything revolved around the 99 SEK mark.

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Comviq was available practically everywhere. Touts on the street offered starter packs like they were on fire. I bought one from a nice corner store owner who also helped me translate instructions in Swedish. It was 99 SEK for a SIM and 1GB of data. The SIM came in normal, micro, and nano sizes.

The SIM worked flawlessly in my iPad mini and I used it to share the internet connection whenever we were out. But I wanted to test my LTE mifi device and that is where the trouble started.

To get Internet access, I discovered that I had to reset the device several times a day or change the APN depending on where I was. There were times I had a strong signal, but no data access.

I cannot recommend Comviq for a mifi device. However, if you intend to use the SIM in a phone or slate, you should be fine.

I did not follow up with Telia in Sweden because it cost the most. My experience in Denmark with a company representative also put me off. More on that in my next entry.


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