Giuirléidí don Téarma Nua Oll/scoile

In my most recent article for Beo! I write about some “essential” technology for what the French call “La Rentree” and marketers here call “Back to School”. Hearty congratulations to all those who received Leaving Cert results this week, especially my nephew in Wexford, who, as expected, sailed through. Phew! If nothing else, folks, you’ve passed a rite of passage of sorts and soon you’ll be consumed by something else. Good luck wherever your road may lead.

Ní bheidh i bhfad anois go mbeidh Coimisiún na Scrúduithe Stáit ag eisiúnt torthaí na hArdteistiméireachta. Ní dhéanfaidh mórán daoine Éireannacha dearmad ar an lá cinniúnach sin ach mar a dúirt giolchairí amháin anuraidh, is cuma ar bhealach faoi na torthaí – ní bheidh sibh ag éirí as go dtí 2064. Spúnóg mhór réadúlachta.

Ach tá athruithe móra tagtha ar an mbealach a bhfaightear na torthaí le cúpla bliain anuas. Is féidir do chuid torthaí a fháil ar líne nó ar an nguthán anois. Moltar gabháil chun na scoile ar aon nós, ar mhaithe leis an gcomhairle a dtabharfaidh an scoil duit má tá aon deacracht nó ceisteanna agat. Déarfainn gur faoiseamh mór é do an-chuid scoláirí gur féidir na torthaí tábhachtacha sin a léamh go príobháideach agusfaoi shocracht ar leataobh leat féin.

Táim féin ag gabháil i dtreo na tuairime gur chóir bliain a chaitheamh ag obair roimh fhreastal ar an ollscoil, ach níl ionamsa ach an colúnaí teicneolaíochta! Ach má éiríonn leat agus má shocraíonn tú ar freastal ar an tríú léibhéal, ná bac leis an gcarr nua a thairg do thuismitheoirí duit do thorthaí maithe: iarr liúntas teicneolaíochta uathu agusceannaigh na giuirléidí seo a leanas.

Kindle

Táimse féin rud beag déanach chuig an gcóisir seo, caithfidh mé admháil. D’fhoghlaim mé sin san ollscoil: ní fiú ar bith duit a bheith luath ag aon chóisir. Fuair m’fhear chéile Kindle le déanaí agus le linn ár saoire bhliaintúil, thug sé ar iasacht dom é ionas go mbeinn in ann an cúigiú cuid de Game of Thrones a léamh. Sea, déanach chuig an gcóisir sin fosta. Cé nach léiríonn an rogha sin leabhair é, is breá liom léamh agus is breá liom na cuimhneacháin a mhúsclaíonn gach leabhar ar an tseilf. Cuimhním ar ócáidí ar leith i mo shaol go minic trí na leabhar a bhí á léamh agam. Braithim go bhfuil rud éigin caillte agam anois le teacht an Kindle i mo shaol, ach ní fhéadfainn a shéanadh chomh feidhmiúil is atá an uirlis bheag seo agus, ar ndóigh, tá ceann uaim féin anois. Tá neart téacsleabhar ar fáil ar an Kindle go deimhin freisin agus go háirithe má tá tú ag tabhairt faoi chúrsa staidéir sa sruithléann, mholfainn go mór é. Dá mbeadh a leithéid ann nuair a bhí mé féin ag tabhairt faoi mo chuid foghlama sa Ghaeilge agus sa Drámaíocht, bheinn in ann “Complete Works of Shakespeare” a fháil ar $1.99 nócóip de dhánta an Ríordánaigh a fháil ar $15.04. Níl an difríocht idir praghas na leabhar don dráma agus don Ghaeilge athraithe ar aon nós! Ar £69.00 (nó $69.00) ar an leagan is bunúsaí is infheistíocht an-mhaith an teicneolaíocht seo.

Éist leis an bPeann

Ceann de na rudaí is tuirsiúil san ollscoil ná nótaí a ghlacadh. Go háirithe má bhí tú amuigh ar an drabhlas go breacadh an lae ag staidéar go géar go breacadh an lae. Beidh Livescribe Sky Wifi Smartpen uait mar sin. Cabhróidh an peann seo go mór leat. Leis an ngiuirléid agus a leabhar nótaí tionlacain speisialta seo, is féidir scríobh agus taifeadadhag an am céanna. Nuair a léann tú siar ar na nótaí is féidir an peann cniogóige a bhualadh ar aon áit ar do chuid nótaí agus seinnfidh an peann gach a thaifead sé ag an mbomaite a scríobh tú an nóta sin. D’fhéadfá an peann seo a bheith rud beag níos lú agus rud beag níos saoire, ach is tús íontach maith é san earnáil seo. Tá costas timpeall $200 ar ceann de na pinn seo ag brath ar cúpla rogha.

Cluasáin Fhuaimdhíonacha

B’fhéidir nach gceapfá go mbeadh cluasáin fhuaimdhíonacha róthábhachtach ach má cheapann tú ar feadh meandair amháin gur chóir duit tabhairt faoin staidéar i leabharlann na hollscoile leis na cluasáin a fuair tú le do iPod/ seinnteoir MP3/ guthán, b’fhéidir gur chóir duit gabháil ar ais ar scoil! Tá rud nó dhó le foghlaim agat go fóill! Tá liosta cuimsitheach ag CNET  ach níl ach ceann nó dhó díobh siúd liostáilte níos saoire ná $100 dá réir. Molaim roinnt siopadóireachta nó coigiltis a dhéanamh. An rud is maith liom le CNET ná go mbíonn treoir cheannaitheora lena gcuid léirmheasanna a ligeann duit do chinneadh féin a dhéanamh.

Clódóir agus Feidhmhcláirín Scanóra

An rud is cuimhin liom faoin ollscoil ná cló agus fótóchóipeáil idir aistí agus leathanach anseo agus ansiúd as leabhar tagartha nach raibh ar fáil ar iasacht ón leabharlann. Don chuid is mó anois, is ar líne nó thar r-phost a sheoltar isteach aistí ach, ag brath ar an ábhar, beidh gach seans go mbeidh clódóir uait. Roghnaigh clódóir le WiFi, a chlónn ó iOS agus Android chomh maith le ríomhaire agus déan roinnt taighde ar costas na gcartús dúigh mar is é sin an costas is mó a bheas ort amach anseo. Tá neart clódóirí ar fáil anois atá idir €100 agus €150 agus má bhraitheann tú go mbeidh ort ábhar a chló is fiú an infheistíochta. Má tá guthán cliste agat, molaim feidhmchláirín scanóra a ligfidh duit fótóchóipeáil a fhágáil sa 20ú aois mar is chóir! Arís tá rogha mór de na feidhmchláiríní seo, ach oibríonn DocScanner ar iOS agus Android. Is féidir aon ábhar a bhailíonn tú a shábháil chuig Evernote, DropBox nó Google Drive agus tá na cáipéisí inchuardaithe uaidh sin.

Cúltacaigh gach Ní!

Nuair a d’fhreastail mé ar an ollscoil (agus táimid ag druidim le 20 bliain ó thosnaigh mé ann!) bhí cead againn aistí scríofa de láimh a thabhairt isteach. Bhí ort cead a fháil chun seoladh r-phost a aimsiú agus is cuimhin liom míniú don léachtóir Gaeilge s’agam céard ba r-phost ann agus cén fáth go raibh sé uaim. Go bunúsach, bhí ré órga na teicneolaíochta fós le gabháil i bhfeidhm ar hallaí ársa Coláiste na Tríonóide. Fiú nuair a bhí orainn gach aon ní a chló amach agus a fhágáil i mbosca taobh amuigh d’oifig an rúnaí, is minic a theip ar ríomhairí agus bheadh caoineadh agus briseadh croí agus bosca ciarsúr tarraingthe amach ag an rúnaí céanna. Is dócha go bhfoghlaimíonn an chuid is mó de scoláirí an ceacht crua. Éist le mo mholtaí agus má ceannaíonn tú aon ní ón líosta seo ceannaigh tiomántán cúltaca agus socraigh réim mhíleata chúltaca duit féin! Gabhfaidh tú buíochas liom nuair a shábháilim do leabharlann iTunes gan chaint ar d’aiste críochthéarma.

Mar fhocal scoir, smaoinigh ar cúpla rud eile a bheadh ina gcabhair mór don scoláire dáiríre (ahem!). Dá mbeinn féin ag scríobh aiste ollscoile, bheadh pointí caillte agam faoin am seo as a bheith fadálach agus mar sin fágfaidh mé fúibh féin léamh fúthu:

Cumhacht bhreise dod’ fóin póca ionas nach gcaillfidh tú an téacs tábhachtach sin faoin gcoisír léacht http://www.mycharge.com/ http://www.mophie.com

Lampa deisc le modhanna éagsúla fá choinne léimh, staidéir agus sos a ligint http://www.satechi.net/index.php/new-products/led-desk-lamp-black

How not to run an online business or Schoolbooks.ie FAIL

At the end of August I ordered just over €100 worth of schoolbooks from Schoolbooks.ie (I know, I know, I should have ordered them last JANUARY right?!)

The nippers started back in school on 30th August and no sign of the books. I couldn’t tell from the Schoolbooks.ie website whether they were to arrive imminently or not. Around this time I realised that I wasn’t the only customer whose books were missing but I took them at their word (to the media, mind, not me) that the books would arrive shortly. However at this time our (truly wonderful and sorely missed) childminder finished up with us so there was no one at home to receive our parcel. So I emailed them at orders@schoolbooks.ie and asked them could they deliver to my city centre office. 2 working days later I was worried about the lack of confirmation about this action.

Upon investigation online I realised that the situation was far worse than I initially thought. I also realised that I was dealing with people who were being a little loose with the truth claiming, for example, that they had contacted every single customer that was affected by what seems to be some sort of technical issue. Apparently I didn’t count as I have never received a single word of communication in any format from Schoolbooks.ie. as I’m trying to be nice I will refer to this as “not best practice” especially as we are repeat customers.

I continued trying to get through by phone and tweeting about the issue in the extremely vain hope that someone might respond.

At this point I emailed to cancel my order. I still have no idea whether they read or acted upon that email. I thought that the books may still arrive.

By the end of the first full week (9 days of school) we decided we couldn’t possibly send the kids back to school the following Monday without books. I legged it to Reads of Nassau st one lunchtime and despite the assistance of a really helpful staff member Reads didn’t have a single one of the books (please note I was looking for Irish language books only for my Gaelscoláirí).

En route back to the office I rang the National Consumer Agency who made all the right noises in a non-committal sort of way. They sent contact details to me but there was nothing I hadn’t already gleaned from the Schoolbooks.ie website. I asked the NCA whether they would be investigating the issue further but the very nice chap I spoke with couldn’t say at that point. He also reminded me of our rights as online consumers which I was very familiar with thanks to my last job. One point he made was that should the books arrive AFTER I had bought them elsewhere I could refuse delivery and Schoolbooks.ie would be obliged to refund. Good luck with that, Rosie!

Since then I have written to the Visa Chargebacks department in the hope that my money might be refunded. I finally received a complete refund on October 8th.

Bodil Mimi Krogh Schmidt-Nielsen (b. 1918) with her childrenOn September 21st I spoke about this during my usual monthly technology slot on Splanc, Newstalk’s Irish language radio show. Obviously I’m dismayed that I’ve been badly treated, annoyed that I was out of pocket but what bugged me the most is that with the application of a little cop and some cheap or free technology a lot of this could have been fixed. If they wanted to be old fashioned about it a few grand to a half decent PR company could have saved their business. What galls me the most however is that the MD’s attitude to his customers has at the least cost him business and at most cost him his business. While I have as little care for him as he obviously has for me, I think in these recessionary times (sorry) it is practically criminal to play so fast and loose with his staff’s livelihoods and other people’s money. When I got home that evening, lo! the books had arrived and are still sitting on our sideboard in their packaging.

So what you might say? Well I think that Schoolbooks.ie are in fact a perfect anti-case study. I would generally avoid using negative examples but Schoolbooks.ie tick all the boxes.

It’s easier to keep old customers than find new ones (or as the grown ups call it Retention vs Acquisition). We have bought our books from Schoolbooks.ie for the last 4 years, spending at least €50 every year. Schoolbooks.ie have always been poor at maintaining contact, not reminding us at crucial points in the year about themselves in order to ensure our repeated custom.

Join the conversation or they will bitch about you and not even behind your back! I already knew that Schoolbooks.ie were poor communicators, having not received much by way of correspondence from them over the last four years; a blessing you might say in these times of bulging inboxes. It’s possible that Mr. John Cunningham, MD of Schoolbooks.ie, thinks that he is being stoical by refusing to engage with customers on Faceboolk Twitter, Boards.ie and blogs like this. He may be of the mind that it will all blow over but Gawd help the poor sucker who has to manage their SEO in the future. Considering the company is unlikely to exist in the future

Social media is all media. A storm in a tweecup can quickly become national news because you can no longer presume that the busy bodies on social media are not influencing the busy bodies in national media. This story quickly became a running theme for back to school week on Joe Duffy’s phone in radio show. Schoolbooks.ie became synonymous with bad customer service and it will be some time before the market will forget. What a waste of a perfect URL.

 

Suits you sir!

Ah the Irish Summer! Well so far this year we cannot complain too much. Most primary schools will finish up this week so expect a turn for the miserable in no short time. This year, however, I am uber-prepared. I have a list of things to do, I’ve sorted the toys and with quiet optimism I have purchased* a pair of children’s wetsuits from Puddleducks. I say quiet optimism because, while I hope to hit the beach, I am presuming it will be cold enough to require said wetsuits. About 3 years ago I bought a wetsuit for Himself so that he could “enjoy” surfing when visiting friends in Donegal even in November. Either the wetsuit or male bravado enabled him to stay in the water for up to 3 hours while myself and the other surf wag chased children up and down the beach purely for the purposes of keeping us all warm. We soon realised after one weekend in Donegal when the kids were paddling with their Puddleducks raincoats on and nothing else (I kid you not!) that wetsuits were a no-brainer for the Irish weather.

Last year we holidayed in lovely Lahinch. (I never did rustle up the energy to post about the lovely holiday we had there. We rented a holiday home in Ballyellery from Trident Holiday Homes. Photo on right was the view from the cottage on one of the truly Irish days :) Ask me if you need more details.) Lahinch is a major surf destination so Himself and some of our friends had a great time. Yet again I missed an opportunity to surf as I was pregnant and too bloody tired even though I wasn’t so far gone. The weather was only okay at the time and we looked at wetsuits in the surf shops in town. The available range wasn’t great in Lahinch and even the second hand ones were pricy so we left it. However there were a number of days where we had to quit the beach as children’s lips turned blue!

I sent a tweet to Puddleducks earlier this year asking them if they were planning to stock wetsuits ever and Aedan replied to me that they were researching the options. A while later Suzanne contacted me and said they were sourcing two different types of wetsuits from suppliers and would I like to try them out. We opted for the full length suits in XSmall and Small. They have since launched a range of different beach products including these suits, a shorty version and various UV suits and beach shoes.

Due to the fact that their father has a wetsuit the Nippers were already favourably inclined. Considering the pair of them had to date refused to even put a two in the water we were concerned that it would be money badly spent regardless. Well the Nippers seemed to think that these suits would make them invincible and Nipper 2.0 even had great plans to go bodyboarding! (Where does he get these ideas!) Their first outing was literally a wash out which involved a real Irish picnic in the car before putting on all our raingear for a walk and some sandcastling in the rain on the beach. Our next outing was on one of the hottest days in this recent hot spell. My sister and I rustled the two of them up after school and headed for Sandycove. While I wouldn’t recommend Sandycove for a hot day, even midweek it was jammed, it was perfect to get the boys in the water in their suits. It’s a very calm inlet which helped them get over any reservations they might have had.

They played happily for the 2.5 hours that we were there in and out of the water. No blue lips and we are saving a fortune in suncream! The suits are great and a good fit with some growing space in them. The Nippers are very different shapes and both at the smaller end of the scale for their age. You can see from the photos that the limbs require a little turning up. Nipper 1.0 is whip thin and so we managed to pull the suit onto him no bother. Nipper 2.0 still has some of his baby fat (he recently turned 4) so we struggled a fair bit to get him into his. Let me put it like this: a child who was disinclined to put on their suit would win that particular battle! That would be my only issue with the XSmall size – it doesn’t seem to allow for the fact that a child that age might be likely to have a little more pudge. Add neoprene, however stretchy, to the mix and there’s a bit of heave ho-ing. But they were both very easy to remove and because of their size far easier to rinse than an adults. In fact I rinsed them in the sink and there is no way you would fit even a small adult suit into a sink.

We subsequently spent an afternoon on Curracloe strand in Co. Wexford which was far less sheltered and there was a stiff breeze that day. Again they played very happily in and out of the water although Nipper 2.0′s courage failed him somewhat. (Who’s talking about bodyboarding now, eh?!) Of course, I put them all to shame by swimming in plain ol’ togs. Due to the ongoing fluctuations in my body weight over the last 8 years there has been no point in getting a wetsuit for myself!

At €35.99 for the suits I think they are well worth it. They seem to be well made (I’m not expert) and include all the features you would expect on a wetsuit: tight ankles and cuffs and a turtle neck with adjustable fastener. The zip is sturdy with a strap for closing and it tucks away neatly. All the tech specs are included in the Puddleducks listing. Look at it like this: on an overcast day you might decide that the beach is just too cold for the kids so you go to the swimming pool. In Lahinch last year that notched up €21.00 for 3 of us. Alternatively if you compare it to the cost of suncream at circa €10.00 per bottle which may get wiped off as soon as it’s on it’s also a far longer lasting bargain. I also really believe it’s the way forward for holidaying in Ireland. I’m the only family member who doesn’t have a suit but I noticed in Lahinch last year that most of the families were all kitted out in them and many of them were not surfing at all, just swimming.

*Disclosure: I received these suits at cost-price from Puddleducks.

Is she really going out in them? (The Twitterers made me)

White pointed toes shoes side lacesWhipped up into a frenzy by a ridiculous Twitter chat in relation to Joe Jackson’s shoes and convinced I could find anything online I have just purchased these delectable items. It will make up for the Peter Pan booties that I didn’t buy in Amsterdam last October. Himself will not be impressed. Mind you he was talking about buying the neighbour’s garden from them earlier because their luscious crop of dandelions are upsetting him and his weed related OCD. However, we could probably use the contents of our drinks cabinet to pay for the neighbours’ garden. The solicitors fees would be the biggest cost involved.