Thursday, November 29, 2012

A service "moment of truth" can't compensate for poor core service

Virgin Mobile have fantastic "frontstage" service. I always get helpful, efficient people on the phone.

Never mind that they were given a bad faultfinding guide - that the wrong "xxx proxy" was wiping the APN settings I was trying to load, or even that the network had mysteriously failed to give them to my phone. When their tech support called an hour later - still confused - I'd solved it myself.

Today when the phone stopped sending SMS they wheeled me through the same faultfinding protocol and then asked me to jockey the SIM card into another phone. As I'd said to the lovely lady yesterday:

"if I get down to swapping sim cards, the swap I make will be to swap a card in that works and cancel my account with you."

So after doing what they call "the isolation test" (sim swap) and finding that it was the service and not the phone I called their techs, told them that was the case and spoke to the sales guys. They can 'escalate' the query all they like but I think they'll be too late.

What a shame for Virgin. My contract expires on Dec 17. I'm already planning my new prepaid carrier. I'd paid cash for a new phone a month ago - how do you think I got from Apple to HTC?  Sorry Virgin, your frontstage service people got let down by crappy product.

Your only hope now is "Service Recovery". Good luck with that. Over the weekend I'll be considering my options.

As it happens I found a monthly contract on a carrier that will cost me $19. Given I just tried to send a text to my wife just then "I hope the funeral goes ok for you" and it failed, it's now personal.

I think my love affair with Virgin Mobile has come to an end. No matter how nice they are to me.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Feeding the hungry blog beast: Have the courage to lower the bar?

Ok Nick, I'll play.

Ex buddy from academic Nick Danenberg recently posted about how important it is to link to each other in our blogging. And converse.

He did it in response to another great post about how blogging can be hard work. Many of us feel it. We know that at our best our blogs can be polished pieces of genius (to us) and set that as the bar for future work.

@prakky suggests putting together a content schedule and that makes sense but I like what I see from Seth Godin and even Oli Young from Vinomofo.

Quick, and interesting enough. And promoted with some outreach comms such as Facebook and Twitter. Like Aussie karaoke, compared to Australian Idol. Do it because it's fun and you have a little something to say.

Lower the bar, turn the handle, and be prepared to talk to each other. (Note to self? Or have I already drifted too far that way?)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Exponential Scales of Goodness in People

When I get buffetted by the squalls of life or beset by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, I have a few people I can count on. These people are sometimes in a position to give me practical help, but it rarely happens that they do. And it's rarely what I need.

But when I meet (or call) these people they remind me of how good a person can get. How a person can be successful without selling their soul, or financially well off without screwing others. And these people have often had to turn the other cheek to others' misdeeds.

I am reminded that there are orders of magnitude in the universe, that most things aren't linear. Grain of sand, tennis ball, planet, star, galaxy. These increases in size are huge orders of magintude.

I meet these people and remind myself that they do more good stuff before 8am than some others I see do in a week. That in a 20 minute "snap" conversation have done more motivation, management and mentoring than others may do  in five years.

There are good times and there are hard times. When things get a little tough, the blessing is that the camouflage drops away, and the good ones can be seen for what they are.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Freefall: It's not so bad

Have you ever been in freefall? It's not so bad. For sure, you need to cope with uncertainty. If your parachute fails, you could've pulled sooner - had all that extra time, altitude, to fix the problem. And the price to pay for that is you didn't get quite so much time to cut loose, and express.

Freefall is not so bad. It does takes a certain type of person to enjoy it.

Both in skydiving, and in life.

To my old buddies, guys my last jump was Aug 2006. I will get in the air again. I promise.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Agapanthus less stressful

A buddy of mine has always likened agapanthus blooms to some sort of a deadline. The honours theses should be in before they bloom.
I have some lovely blooms this year but not stress about submission. I haven't been asked to supervise an honours, which is cool enough. Less stress.

Friday, November 23, 2012

"Significant" often confuses me

I just heard that Sony and Panasonic have had their credit ratings reduced to "junk" status. I was interested to know what that means.

Unfortunately the next sentence did not enlighten me. "That means there is a significant chance they will default on their debt repayments"

Unhelpful. But then it's only radio language.

And then perhaps the ratings agency had used a method that allows the use of the word "significant", such as

'we have examined a sample of Sony's loan remittances and from what we have seen we can confidently say they may default on their loan repayments'

Perhaps that's it. Actually, worded that way, that's probably what they meant.

But mostly when people say "significant" they seem to mean "substantial".

But I do spend a lot of time hearing people and thinking "I know what their words really mean, but I wonder if they know what they said?"

Quite often people say things that are more cleverer than they thought, but sometimes not. And I still don't know whether the Sony downgrade is the result of a method or an assessment.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Burn Notice team

Walking off of a job. What a cool character chemistry, and a new guy just come in (ex marine sniper) who you started off hating, but come to like. And other newies that you thought you'd like, but not so much now. Season 6 has lost nothing.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Kepler the mathematician that solved a lot of problems

By tipping convention on its head and building equations the correct way, he fixed a whole bunch of problems.

And created a whole bunch of other, political ones.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Coles meat special: Rooster taking credit for the dawn?

I dunno. Perhaps the international demand is soft. Yed, it might be with the high $aud. But whatever it is, the beef price is probably low at the moment. But that doesn't stop Coles presenting it as their win.

But if Coles bring you a better price, I suppose it  _is_ their win. Whatever, $6 per kg is a damn good price.

Cheetos: Honest about what a serving is

I was pretty impressed. These impossibly tasty, impossibly unhealthy snacks at least posted what a serving is, across their whole rear panel. In child friendly language.

Well done, Frito Lay.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My Singapore teams

They all presented their research projects today:



Lab Series







And they all presented brilliantly.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, November 2, 2012

Season 6 Burn Notice just keeps getting better

The characters just keep getting more depth, and more likeable. Good new characters,

Fiona a well told prison story

And Sam (my favourite) becoming a strong central character. And Michael, alway a legend, who loves his "mom".

It's great how the production team can keep this so fresh.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Statistics lesson: Interdependence

Ok then. I was asked by a student I had for one of my other courses about something she knows I teach. I’m humbled and honoured, so thankyou Nitya. Interdependence. Sounds like an overly complicated word doesn’t it? But the complexity has a method to its madness.

But first, remember what we’re trying to do with quantitative research. We’re trying to capture the essence of something with a number. Strange idea hey? But that’s a whole other discussion. Still once we put a number to something we call it a variable. Strangely the simplest variables are often the hardest ones to get people to tell you – age, income etc are a simple number, but try to get some people to tell it to you.

But in one sense that’s where dependence (association with an expectation of causality) might exist. So, if we take a hundred people and measure both their age and their income we could fine that (let’s say from 15 years old to 25) there is a positive correlation between age and income. And we might think that as someone goes from 15 to 25 they can do some more stuff and are worth more money. A hint of causality.

But where we can’t see an argument for causality, we are likely to be in the world of interdependence. I’ll take an example from a text I use. We get measurements for a “Cullen’s restaurant”. Six people give a rating for waiting time, cleanliness, friendly personnel, food taste, food temperature and food freshness. And the data looks like this:
Everyone clearly rates my restaurant low on waiting time, cleanliness and friendly personnel, but high on taste, temperature and freshness. (stragely that’s exactly how a restaurant would be if I ran one). Each of the items are first three items are related to each other (according to the data) but there is no (clear) indicator that one causes the other. Same with the last three items. They are associated - interdependent but not dependent.

OK now to just take this a little further. There is a procedure that helps us tangibilise interdependence – firstly we can look at the correlation coefficient between the variables. All three of the first items would be highly correlated to each other and weakly correlated to each of the last three. Then a cool piece of software called SPSS can mix that all around and come up with an argument that some of these variables belong together. That’s called “factor analysis” and helps draw pictures like this one:

It can get as complex as you like. But the story goes that once SPSS tell you that you have a clean “factor” of – say “food quality” then you can take the average of the variables A4, A5, and A5 and it give you a robust measure of an abstract construct. The idea of “food quality” just became a little less slippery. Some people call this “data reduction” but not in the world I grew up in. Other people call it a “fishing expedition” – measure a heap of things and see if SPSS can make some sense of it for you. That a bit harsh too, I think.

Still, those are my thought on what interdependence is.