I Baptized My Daughter Saturday

It doesn’t get much better than this.

“…when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12 NRSV).

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Comcast’s White Glove Customer Service via Twitter

This was so unbelievable I had to blog about it. A few weeks ago in a conversation by phone with a Comcast representative I discovered that I had been charged since May 2008 for three digital cable receivers, when in fact I have always only had two. That rep couldn’t process my credit request because she was in the wrong department, and I didn’t have time right then to deal with another rep in another department. So, I waited a few days and called Comcast’s customer service and had someone process the request. She breathlessly (not sure why) explained to me that as she was in Shreveport, Louisiana and my service is in New Jersey, the credit might take longer to process (not sure why on that one either). I said that would be fine. I waited a couple of weeks. Nothing.

Last week I chatted with a rep online and she said the request was still pending. I spoke with another rep this morning and she couldn’t understand what I was talking about. When she asked me, after about 5 minutes of me trying to get her to just read the notes on the account, if I had a “tracking number” for the request, I knew the call was over. I called back in and got another rep who seemed to understand the issue. She also seemed a little angry. Although I promise you I never once raised my voice, she actually yelled at me at one point. I paused and almost warned her to watch her tone.

Customer service is something I know about from the inside. People have bad days and the calls often come in back to back. You just get one issue resolved and 2 seconds later you have another frustrated customer on the line. It takes a special kind of patience to deal with that and the typically low salary that goes with it without snapping. Still, yelling at a customer is never a good idea, even if he or she is yelling at you.

Resorting to Twitter I posted a series of complaints about Comcast, and of course someone from their Twitter team asked if he could help. It took an hour or so of tweeting, but once I sent my account info to him via direct message it only took him 2 minutes to credit my account.

No, the speed of resolution isn’t what I find unbelievable. What gets me, really gets me, is that if I were someone’s elderly grandmother who had never even heard of Twitter, I’d still be waiting for my credit.

Comcast, do you give preferential treatment to people who complain more publicly than others?

My thanks to @ComcastBill for resolving the issue, but my question for the company remains.

Tech Training and EFL


Once while I was attending a church youth retreat in Belém, Brazil a young man asked me the meaning of a word. While I assumed it was an English word, he was pronouncing it as though it were Portuguese, and I had trouble understanding him. He spelled it out for me. The word was “file.” After translating the word for him, he said, “That’s sort of what I thought it meant.” As it turns out, he’d seen the word many times on a computer and always wondered about it.

What I don’t understand about the experience I just related above is that in Brazil Windows (the most common OS) comes already in Brazilian Portuguese. Why did he see “file” instead of “arquivo” on his computer?

In any event, those familiar with software and computers know it’s one thing to be a user, and it’s quite another to be a tech. OSes can come pre-installed on computers already set to the local language, assuming it is available. Those who work professionally with technology in non-English speaking countries don’t have the luxury of working only in their own language.

Manuals and most daily tech reports are availably primarily, and often exclusively, in English. The situation becomes only more serious if someone wants to get into programming, as at least some English is involved in these, and the higher programming languages utilize English extensively. Some English knowledge is needed to get by in the field of computer science, but some level of fluency is essential to excelling professionally.

Having taught English as a foreign language in Brazil, and later as a Second Language in the United States, I know what’s involved in the process. It doesn’t happen overnight, and students need to be as motivated as their teachers need to be creative and clear. As I think about the possibilities for launching or cooperating with tech training programs in Brazil, I realize that instruction in the English language is going to have to be a some component of it.


See Also:
Someplace Wired

In Brazil, Experience Alone Won’t Cut It

Tech Training and EFL


Once while I was attending a church youth retreat in Belém, Brazil a young man asked me the meaning of a word. While I assumed it was an English word, he was pronouncing it as though it were Portuguese, and I had trouble understanding him. He spelled it out for me. The word was “file.” After translating the word for him, he said, “That’s sort of what I thought it meant.” As it turns out, he’d seen the word many times on a computer and always wondered about it.

What I don’t understand about the experience I just related above is that in Brazil Windows (the most common OS) comes already in Brazilian Portuguese. Why did he see “file” instead of “arquivo” on his computer?

In any event, those familiar with software and computers know it’s one thing to be a user, and it’s quite another to be a tech. OSes can come pre-installed on computers already set to the local language, assuming it is available. Those who work professionally with technology in non-English speaking countries don’t have the luxury of working only in their own language.

Manuals and most daily tech reports are availably primarily, and often exclusively, in English. The situation becomes only more serious if someone wants to get into programming, as at least some English is involved in these, and the higher programming languages utilize English extensively. Some English knowledge is needed to get by in the field of computer science, but some level of fluency is essential to excelling professionally.

Having taught English as a foreign language in Brazil, and later as a Second Language in the United States, I know what’s involved in the process. It doesn’t happen overnight, and students need to be as motivated as their teachers need to be creative and clear. As I think about the possibilities for launching or cooperating with tech training programs in Brazil, I realize that instruction in the English language is going to have to be a some component of it.


See Also:
Someplace Wired

In Brazil, Experience Alone Won’t Cut It

Python Workshop: General Discussion (8/18/09)

If you are thinking about attending the NYLUG Python Workshop, there are a couple of things you should know. First, don’t expect a formal lesson or lecture. There may be a guest speaker from time to time, but normally this group just gets together and works on whatever anyone suggests. Second, although the announcement the group sends out says that a laptop is optional, you really won’t get much out of the workshop without one. So if you have one, bring it.

Also, in case you missed mention of it before, the NYLUG regular monthly meeting will be on August 19. Click here for more info on that.


PYTHON WORKSHOP
Date: Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Time: 6:00pm
Duration: 2 hours
Location: NY Public Library Hudson Park Branch, 66 Leroy St., NY NY 10014

Topics:
General discussion about Python, and working through example code. Bring something to discuss! There’s a blackboard, chalk, and Internet access. Notebook computers are helpful but not required. All levels of Python experience from totally new to experienced welcome!

Description:
We will continue meeting on a bi-weekly basis at the Hudson Library at 66 Leroy St New York, NY 10014.

It is helpful, but not necessary to have a notebook computer. The WiFi at the library works now.

Map & Directions:
http://nylug.org/pythoncalendar

We meet in the basement. Enter the library and head to the back. If the door is closed when you arrive you can ask the manager of the library for the keys to the room if you’re comfortable opening up the basement, or you can wait for some of the others to arrive.

Mailing List:
We have a mailing list! Join it here:
http://nylug.org/mailman/listinfo/nylug-workshop

or send mail to: nylug-workshop-request@nylug.org with a Subject: subscribe

There is also an RSS feed for the workshop mailing list at:
http://nylug.org/mlist/nylug-python.rss

IRC Channel:
On Freenode, in #nylug-python . Stop by #nylug also.

The Next Meeting After This Meeting:
The following Python Workshop will be held on: Tuesday, September 01, 2009 at 6:00 PM

Friday Bits & Pieces – August 14, 2009

Today I’m going to try something new here. Blog traffic really seems to drop off heading into the weekend, and since there are always a few items on my mind that aren’t big enough in my opinion to warrant their own posts, I’m going to see what happens if I dump a few of these together on a single Friday post.

First up, a question: If you use Linux on your desktop or laptop, which distro is it, and why? I use Ubuntu because it seemed to have the reputation of being the most newbie-friendly of the distros, and so far I have found this to be the case. Someone at the NYLUG Python workshop said a couple of weeks ago that he doesn’t care for Ubuntu, and justified this by saying it seemed too pre-packaged and put together. As someone who would like to see Linux gain broader acceptance among the great unwashed masses, I think the “ready-to-use” style of Ubuntu is a great strength. And, of course, geeks can still modify Ubuntu to their own tastes and preferences.

Second, my daughter has been at camp all week. This is the first time she’s been away from us for an entire week, and although I know she’s safe and is surely having a great time, we really really miss her. We were glad when the following photo appeared one day on the camp blog. The dark-haired girl is mine. We’re looking forward to picking her up on Saturday. Some parents send their kids to camp for nearly 8 weeks. I think that would kill me. Will this week ever end?

Third, you should check out the update from Trey Morgan on the work with the so-called “Dump People” in Honduras. For an overview of my theological perspective on this, have a look at 21st Century Third World Gehenna.

Have a great weekend!