The bright side of errors (just for fun)

Sometimes errors can really help put things in perspective….. or simply give you a chuckle. Todays highlight were two errors that made my day. Rest assured, neither were real problems but both gave me a great big laugh. So to brighten your day, here they are!

This one made me almost feel proud of the achievement!

And this one from Microsoft online help…. well irony 🙂

The Virtual Super bowl party – game time the social way!

Yesterday (or should I say last night) was an absolute first. Attending my first ever real American Super Bowl party and watching the game with a group of Americans and Australians. So did I fly over for a quick weekend break?!? Nop, I attended right from my own couch in my own living room.

It all started a couple of weeks ago when my twitter stream exploded on NFL tweets by @CuriousMitch  and me reacting to that

Before I knew it I was involved in a whole conversation stretching out over multiple days about the merits of American Football and culminating in getting myself invited for a Super Bowl party to be hosted by Mitch. He was having some guests over to his house and invited a bunch of others to join in through a Google hangout so that we could all enjoy it together from our respective living room (and time zone!).

Now I did have to think about it for a minute as I realized I would have to take a day off (game started at midnight Sunday night and was going to last at least 3 hours according to those who knew). But I was more then willing to do that, seeing it as a great social & cultural experiment to see if Social Media really could make this possible. Plus anyone that knows me knows I’m always in for something crazy and this one certainly fell into that category!
There was only one problem, I had absolutely no clue about American Football!….And so I was drilled and grilled over the last two weeks through Twitter and Skype by several people about everything NFL and American Football. Waking up to tweets like this

And even getting a visual demonstration with diagrams and lots of arrows through a LotusLive meeting & Skype.

All leading up to the big event: The game.

 A multi layered play in 4 acts played out on the field, in a Google Hangout, on Twitter and on Facebook.

I loved it! 

Not just because I like being part of big parties (which the Super Bowl certainly is) but also because it shows the power of Social Media and the cultural shift it is bringing about.Who would have thought 10 years ago that something like this would even be possible and that I would be able to enjoy a ‘cold one and a game’ from my living room in The Netherlands with people in Australia and the USA? Allowing me a very personal and up close glimpse into their worlds, living rooms and passion for American Football.

So what have I learned from all this? 

  • Taco’s & Chili in at least 5 variations seems to be the favorite US Super Bowl party food 
  • American Football can be fun and exciting once you get a basic grip of the game rules. Even if they drag out a one hour game to 4 hours easily 
  • Australia really is sunny this time of year (Yes, I know mentally that it’s summer over there right now but seeing it just makes it real) 
  • Getting a social crash course on game rules through Twitter, Skype and LotusLive works and is much more fun then learning the old fashioned way!
  • Google Hangouts actually lives up to what it says it does (really impressed after 5 hours of continuous and error-less ‘Hanging out’ with 6-8 others) 
  • I have friends here in NL that were watching the game as well (found out through Facebook halfway through the game). Setting up a date to do next year’s Super Bowl together 
  • I should never drink Redbull at 3:30AM if I want to have any chance of sleeping anytime soon (couldn’t fall asleep until 6:30)

So…. having a ‘virtual’ party like this doesn’t necessarily trump the real live experience and might, by some, be considered really geeky. But getting this group from 3 continents together otherwise would have simply been impossible. It just added a whole new layer to being social, showing how Social Media and online collaboration tools really do stimulate cultural learning and exchange. And in doing so making the world a smaller place.

Thanks guys for making this an experience to remember! 

Burning the midnight Soc'oil


Definition:
To be Socially engaged on online Social Networks into the wee hours of the night.

Meaning:
The incessant staying up not to miss out on all the social fun. Often caused by having a very lively online Social Network that is mostly located on the other side of the pond and the abundant availability of devices that make accessing ones social tools (Skype, Twitter, Facebook, etc) possible everywhere and anytime (eg. in bed). Doing it long enough could have detrimental consequences for sleep patterns and cause the subject to dream in ‘tweets’. (Though that could be seen as a good pre-Lotusphere training where sleep is hard to come by anyway).

Origin:
Derived from a combination of the word ‘Social‘ and the phrase “burning the Midnight Oil“: To work late into the night. Originally this was by the light of an oil lamp or candle but is nowadays replaced by the blueish shine of electronics and iShinies, hence the figurative terminology.

Related terms:
Insomniac, hermit, Twitter-critter

This Week in Lotus 81 – yep I can't spell my own name

Ok, so there’s a first time for everything and this week it was being a guest on the This Week In Lotus podcast discussing the Redbook Residency, abstracts and NerdGirl activities at Lotusphere 2012. It was nervewracking…. Lets say that some great editing by @StuartMcIntyre and @DarrenDuke eventually saved the day.  

Still, had lot’s of fun doing it and it accounted for some great bloopers (included in the last 3 minutes of the podcast).

and for those who wonder… Yes, in normal live I’m perfectly able to spell my own name🙂

Social seating

KLM yesterday (unofficially) announced that they are looking into ways to make the seating process more social by allowing people to upload their Social Media profile information on check-in. The idea is to have people pick a seat based on the profiles of people sitting next to them so that people can check beforehand with whom they will be spending their precious hours in flight.

An innovative idea and certainly something that got them some attention but I must say I wonder whether it would be a success. Especially among the business travelers they are aiming this for.

As a business traveler myself the one thing I do when on a flight is trying not to have to socially engage to much with people next to me. You’re in each others space already and for the next 8hrs of so you can’t get away. So the last thing I want is to start a conversation that I can’t politely get out off if it turns out to be not what you expected…

it’s not as if you’re making friends for life. So apart from a polite ‘Hello‘ and ‘could I pass you for a moment‘ I generally don’t engage at all. I read my e-book, watch a film, prepare some work or sleep. That’s it. The last thing I want is people rambling on for hours about how they love tulips and windmills because they read on my profile I’m from The Netherlands.

So what would I use it for…. Well frankly (and I really don’t want to offend anyone with this, simply stating the obvious) to check if the person next to me is big. Yes, you heard it. I’ll admit that is my worst nightmare on any flight and the first thing that came to mind when reading about KLM’s initiative. Because space is already very limited it gets really frustrating if you have someone encroaching on that. Even though they can’t help it and go out of their way not to, as they find it just as embarrassing. Because let’s face it, most airplanes (especially short haul carriers)  have an absolute minimum of space alloted to each passenger and do not cater to the current situation in which at least 1/3 of people in the Western world is overweight. 

So from a personal viewpoint I think making the flight experience more ‘social’  would be accomplished much better if they gave each passenger a bit more space, not by sharing our profiles… Still, I love and commend KLM for trying to think about ways to make the flying experience more social and will certainly give it a try if it gets activated.

User training…..

I spent most of last week getting user requirements for a project I’m doing for an international firm. This firm has excellent video conferencing facilities and as they have offices around the world I spend a lot of time using those facilities to get input from people around the globe. Although I used video conference tools before and in general prefer the face to face situation, I must say I was impressed with the facilities they had and the possibilities it offered.

This made me think of a very bizarre user training I once gave over ten years ago…..

Back then I worked for another major international company where I helped develop an online CRM package for a business unit within the company. Part of the implementation was to deliver a user training. Now this business unit had lot’s of small branches around the globe with only a few users at each of the locations so flying around the globe to give the training wasn’t an option. Flying the users out to the Netherlands wasn’t an option either so the choice was made to do a training by phone conference….

This was the time when internet was far from what it is today and things like a multi-channel video conference or even screen sharing just wasn’t an option yet. In fact at that time I had only just gotten rid of my 56kb phone modem.
So a phone conference it was. I had sent out the link with the application URL and login details earlier and had asked each of the users to log in ahead and report any login problems so that we wouldn’t have to spend time during the meeting to solve login errors.

At 16:00 CET we started:

<BEEP><BEEP>……<BEEP> ….. Hello?…Hello?… somebody there? This is Hong Kong…<squeek>…..
Me: Hello Hong Kong this is Femke, can you hear me?
Hong Kong: ……………. Hello?… Hello?…. Mmm, I think we’re first. No one there yet I guess, did we get the time right? (shortly followed by a whole discussion in Chinese)…….
Me: Hong Kong, we’re here, can you hear me???
Hong Kong:……….<squeek>……..(more Chinese)……
London: Mmm, I think they don’t have their speakers set up correctly, wouldn’t be the first time either. This is John from London by the way, hello Femke!
Me: Hello John, welcome and good of you to join!
….<BEEP> …..
Hello it’s Tim and Brian joining from New York here!

Me: Hello Tim and Brian, welcome! we’re still awaiting South Africa and Sao Paulo and then we’ll start the lesson.
…..(more undefinable squeeking and Chinese. Somewhat agitated now)…..
…<CLICK>….
London: I think we just lost Hong Kong there……
Me: Probably, let’s hope they call back
….<BEEP> <BEEP>….. (Sao Paulo & Cape Town join the phone conference)
Me: Ok, we’re still missing Hong Kong but I’ll start anyway.
So welcome all, I hope you all have your pc/laptop in front of you and have logged into the application as requested.
New York (Tim): Ehhh… was that required, ok hold on and let me get my laptop!
Me: Well yes, didn’t you see my earlier message on this? Please hurry!
….(lots of scuffle in the background while Tim gets his laptop)….
Me: Ok, now I’ll start with a short introduction, can you all open the home page and click the “Contacts” link in the top?
…(sound of clicks in the background while each of the participants opens the requested page)…
London: Mmm… I’m getting an error here, is that normal?
Me: No, in general not. What error do you get?
London: Ehhh… sorry clicked it away, and now my browser hangs. Hang on, let me restart Windows….
Me: No! That would take too long, simply close the browser and reopen it.
London: Ehhh… sorry, too late, I’d already pressed the reset button on the pc. But don’t worry, it normally doesn’t take long to start…..
Me: Ok, well then start it up asap please while I continue.
…<BEEP>…… Hello?,….. Hello?!? (Chinese swearing)….
….. <CLICK>…….

London: That was Hong Kong again I guess……
Me: Yes, I think so… Ok, let’s go on with the session
So, you should all see the ‘Contacts’ overview now listing all the contacts that are in the……(Windows Startup song blasts through the speaker while John’s pc starts up in London)……..
London: Sorry! I’ll mute my mic!
Me: Ok, please do while I continue
…..(chuckling on the line)…….
New York: Tim here! I’m ready and I’ve got my laptop, where did I need to go?
Me: Ok Tim good. Please open the Contacts overview by clicking the Contacts link in the top
So……where was I…. Ok, the Contacts overview. Now this overview lists all of the contacts in the application you can… <BEEP>……
….. Hello? This is Hong Kong, can you hear me??……
Me: Hello Hong Kong, yes we can, can you hear us?
Hong Kong: Yes, I can! We couldn’t reach you guys but it all seems to work now!
Me: Good, we already started. Could you please open the Contacts overview by clicking the button in the top?
Hong Kong: Ehhh….Which button?
Me: You should see a link in the top of the application page linking to the Contacts overview
Hong Kong: How do I open the application??
Me: Didn’t you get my email? I send the link before?
Hong Kong: Sorry, never saw an email. Let me check…
Me: I can’t wait for that, I’ll sent it to you again, please try to login asap while I continue
….
By this time I’m asking myself how we’re ever going to get thro
ugh this

…..
Me: John, has your pc restarted yet? Do you get the error again?
London: ……………………………………………………………….
Me: John, if you can hear me then please un-mute your mic, we can’t hear you.
….<squeek>…….
London:  Sorry for that, yes I’m back, no error this time, got the Contacts overview
Me: Good. Ok so the Contacts…… (I continue talking a bit about the Contacts overview)
New York (Brian): ……Damn Tim, stop that!…….
New York (Tim): Shut up, I want to see what’s behind that button!
New York (Brian): She’s still talking about the Contacts, let’s just follow what she says!!
New York (Tim): Get your own pc then!
Me: Ehhh….. sorry, New York is everything ok there?
……(By this point Tim & Brian get into a heated argument followed by a door being slammed)…..
New York (Tim): Sorry for that, Brian just walked out
Me: Ehh…. Is he coming back or should I continue?
New York (Tim): He’s an *&%hole, just continue
Me: Ok, I still feel he should be hearing this but we’ll continue
….<BEEP>….. Hi, this is Brian, I moved next door, sitting behind my own desk here. Sorry for that, Tim just couldn’t wait and listen and was already clicking all kinds of buttons even if you hadn’t told us to do so
New York (Tim): You’re an *&%hole, Brian, you know!
New York (Brian): Likewise!
….(again an  argument between Tim & Brian erupts, this time over the phone conference as they are now sitting in separate offices)……
Hong Kong: (raising his voice to get over the still ongoing argument) : …..Ehh… sorry but I just received your mail, I can’t seem to log in. It says my password is incorrect…..
Me: (while Brian & Tim continue their argument) could it be you have your caps lock on?
Hong Kong: (trying without the caps lock)…… Ah yes, thank you it works
Me: Tim, Brian, please I need to continue, could you please stop this and continue another time?
New York: ………(Still in a bitter fight between each other, don’t even react to my plea)……
At that moment the Business Unit CEO that was sitting next to me finally intervenes and tells Tim & Brian unceremoniously to shut up…..
…….
 …..<SILENCE>…..
…….
Me: Ok, after all that lets continue….. Where was I
Hong Kong: The Contacts overview. Where was the link to that again?!?
Me: In the top, to the left side
Hong Kong: …..Can’t find it…….
…..hold on, the other left side….. ok, got it!
Me: So, again, contacts….

This went on for two hours straight. It was one of the most memorable training sessions I ever gave. I still don’t know how I managed to actually complete that training but I did….. somehow…..