Tag Archives: app

Optus network and EmergencyAus – update

Just thought I’d let everyone know that I can now access EmergencyAus via my browser!

emergencyaus-on-pc

It’s in beta but the most important parts work just fine. You can find it at:

http://emergencyaus.info/map

No download required as it all runs from within the browser.

cheers,

Meeks

 

This morning’s post:

This is a bushfire danger post so if you’re not from Australia, or not interested, look away now.

Okay, my mobile phone carrier is Virgin. Virgin uses the Optusnet network. If the Optusnet network in a given area goes down, the Virgin mobile phones in that area become useless lumps of plastic and circuitry.

My mobile phone became a useless lump of plastic and circuitry this morning. Not just for a minute or two, but for over 2 hours.

What does this have to do with bushfires? EmergencyAus, that’s what.

The EmergencyAus app on my phone sends me notifications of ANY issues within a 5 km radius of my house in Nth Warrandyte. It is my early warning system. It is the one thing that has given me peace of mind since Black Saturday.

If you stayed to defend your house as I did on that horrible day, you’ll know that reliable information was next to impossible to find. I spent all day listening to ABC radio 774 [the emergency broadcaster] and haunting the CFA website. Some horrific reports did come in from people calling in to 774, but the reality was that no one knew what the hell was going on, including me.

It was the not-knowing that terrified me on Black Saturday, and it was the same sense of isolation that made me as nervous as a wet cat this morning. You see, EmergencyAus can’t work if there is no network connection. It relies on my mobile phone to warn me of danger. No phone, no warning. I do have a landline [thank goodness], but EmergencyAus is a mobile app.

According to the Virgin support person I spoke to, an Optus tower was experiencing an unexpected outage, and as it was the only tower I could link to [? how does that work anyway?] I’d just have to wait until it was repaired.

Waiting was not such a huge issue today because although there is a north wind, the temperature is still fairly low after a wintry night. But imagine if this had happened during a heatwave when temperatures reach 40 C plus? That one tower goes down and I’m…f…in trouble.

I suppose I should be grateful to get a wakeup call before we hit a code red day, but I’m not feeling much like Pollyanna today.

Not Happy, Jan 😦

Meeks

 

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#WordPress dumbed down for mobile phones

meekathara furiousI tried to show a friend some tips and tricks for her new WordPress.com blog site yesterday.

Imagine my confusion when I realised that her version of WordPress.com does NOT have the WP-Admin button! This is what it looks like on my blog:

wordpress-dashboard-sneaky-approach2

Clicking the WP Admin button takes me to the original WP Dashboard, which looks like this:

 

wordpress-dashboard-sneaky-approach3

I cut a bit of the screenshot out in the middle so you could see it more clearly. Click the image to see it in full size.

This old Dashboard is quite powerful and great for serious bloggers who, like me, have literally hundreds if not thousands of blog posts to manage. I admit that it might be a bit daunting for the casual blogger. I also admit that the new WordPress interface may be easier to learn/use for the casual blogger, but so far, every time I’ve tried to use it, I’ve just been frustrated by how awkward and clunky the whole thing is. And slow, let’s not forget slow. As a fairly seriously blogger, I find the new-ish interface a poor tool. But horses for courses, right?

Wrong. Apparently, I still have WP Admin because I’ve been a blogger on WordPress since 2011. New bloggers are not so lucky, they don’t get a choice at all, and I fear that in time, us old guard bloggers will end up with no choice as well.

But why dumb WordPress down so badly?

In search of answers I went to Papa Google and found this:

wordpress-dashboard-sneaky-approach

Again, click on the image to see it at full size.

The screenshot was taken from a WordPress forum dating back to late [November?] 2015. The thread is about WP users complaining about losing the link to the old Dashboard [via WP Admin]. A couple of European Moderators have chimed in as well, complaining about not being notified of such a serious change by WordPress, and hence not being able to help their forum members.

The thing I found most interesting on this forum was the comment by an actual WordPress staff member – supernovia – who says, and I quote:

If it helps, all of the mobile apps have been like the newer admin area for a while now,
and as we transition WordPress.com to make everything more consistent, having two different interfaces was confusing new users.

And right there – ‘the mobile apps’ – is the nub of the problem. WordPress doesn’t want to maintain two separate interfaces – one for mobile apps and one for pc’s – so the interface for the pc is being dumbed down as much as possible to save development costs.

Lots of large developers have done the same thing – remember Windows 8, the OS that was meant to bridge the gap between mobile phones, tablets and pc’s? All seem to have missed the most basic point about demographics – app users don’t work on their mobile phones. People who work still use pc’s because pc’s are still a million times more powerful and convenient to use than something which can only be used by your bloody thumbs.

The corporate world doesn’t like the dumbed down, mobile version of programmes because they are not cost efficient for the user. Many of us on WordPress run what amounts to a small business via our blogs. Something designed to work efficiently as a mobile phone app will NOT allow us to work more efficiently at home, in front of a nice LARGE screen with a full-sized keyboard.

Don’t believe that the new interface is weaker and less efficient? Here’s proof. Just before starting this post, I ran an experiment using both the old Dashboard search function and the new interface search function.

The result? Dashboard 1, new interface 0. The new interface search function failed. Completely.

What did I search for?

I was searching for a draft post on making scones. This is the original post title:

Lois’ Soda Water #Scones

I typed ‘scone’ into the old Dashboard search function and it found:

scone-found

This is a ‘closest match’ which found the post I was looking for.

Then, I tried to find the new interface search function. This is what it looks like:

wordpress-dashboard-sneaky-approach4

Before you can type in any search words, you have to click the magnifying icon…excuse me? The standard for most programmes is to type the search words into the search box and /then/ click the magnifying glass to carry out the search. I guess the WordPress devs wanted to be…different.

Then, having finally found out how to actually do a search, this is what happened:

scone-not-found

The one nice thing about the new search function is that it searches as you type so it begins displaying possible search results before you even finish typing. Or in my case, not.

Clearly the new interface search function is set for exact matches only – remember the title of my blog post is Lois’ Soda Water #Scones. The hashtag threw the search engine off completely.

Now, in the real world, I have 996 blog posts, including close to 100 drafts. I often link back to previous posts when I write new posts. After 4 years, I very rarely remember the exact title of any of my posts. That means a ‘closest match’ is VITAL. For me, the new search function is next to useless.

So, will WordPress see reason and give serious bloggers back the tools they need to work efficiently? Or are we going to have to live with this dumbed down, mobile phone app?

Sadly, I think we’ll have to live with a poor interface until someone, somewhere, realises that you can’t do real work with just your thumbs.

Unhappy, WordPress.

Meeks


Atmotube tells you if the air you’re breathing is toxic

I believe the attitudes of society change one individual at a time. That is why we should ALL buy one of these. We need to see – in real time – what we’re doing to the world…and ourselves. Read on:

Like you, I assume that the environment I am sitting in right now is pretty safe. I mean, I don’t see anything dangerous, feel uncomfortable, or smell anything that I should be worried about. Yet I may be filling my lungs with harmful elements that my cognitive sensory abilities are incapable of noticing.

Source: Atmotube tells you if the air you’re breathing is toxic


EmergencyAus – great tech support!

I recently wrote a post about a smartphone app called ‘EmergencyAus’. It was not a happy post because I was not getting all the available notifications about potential bushfires in my area.

[Note: one of the things I’ve always hated about summer/fire season in Warrandyte is the fear of not knowing when a fire is nearby. By the time ABC radio 774 broadcasts a warning, you’re already on the back foot. What the EmergencyAus app does is send SMS warnings to your smartphone whenever a fire starts anywhere in your ‘watch zone’, i.e. 5 km around my home. But in order to relax a bit, you have to trust that the alerts will get through to you.]

As well as ranting here, on my blog, I also sent off an email to the EmergencyAus tech support people.To be honest I did not expect tech support to do much – email support is very hard at the best of times.

Imagine my surprise, and delight, when I discovered that EmergencyAus tech support really do provide support. Not only did they finally sort out my problems, but they stuck with me through 28, yes TWENTY-EIGHT emails [I know because I just counted them]. That …is patience with a capital ‘P’!

With another hot day coming up, I’d like to say thank you to EmergencyAus for helping me get my peace of mind back. Thanks guys. 😀

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the problem seems to be an older version of Android teamed with Google apps that haven’t been updated since the year dot.

cheers

Meeks

 


App woes – EmergencyAus

emergencyausAbout six months ago, I installed an app on my phone called EmergencyAus. It’s supposed to provide an up-to-date list of every event, of any sort, that happens in Victoria.

More importantly, the app also allows me to set a 5 km watch zone around my house. In theory, if anything happens within that watch zone, an alert is sent to my phone.

Despite not being obsessed with ringtones, I set a special one, just for those alerts, and for a while there, I jumped every time I heard it go off. I’d grab my phone and feverishly tap the little red indicator to see what was happening.

But then an odd thing began to happen – I started to relax. I’d still check every warning about trees down, or accidents, or the odd fire, but I was no longer a mumbling mess. You see I was starting to trust that the app would give me that little bit of advanced warning no one got on Black Saturday.

The events of Black Saturday have dimmed in the consciousness of the general public, but for me, every summer since has been a repeat of the controlled terror I felt that day. Not because I’m terrified of the fire itself, but because I’m terrified of not knowing.

You see, that was the worst thing about Black Saturday for me, the not knowing. I sat here with the fire shutters down, eyes glued to the CFA website, with 774 blaring in the background, completely unaware that people were burning just up the road in St Andrews and Strathewen. I didn’t learn about those deaths until the next day. Only then did it become obvious that the authorities had not had a clue where the fire was, or where it was going. And because they did not know, no one received the kind of warning that might have saved lives.

The EmergencyAus app promised to provide the advanced warning we did not get on Black Saturday. And as I began to trust the app, I started to relax. I even began writing again because I could listen to my own music, instead of listening to cricket commentary on radio 774.

But that all ended this morning. The phone is still sitting on my desk, but I no longer trust it, or the EmergencyAus app.

Why? Because I checked the emergency.vic.gov.au website this morning, and discovered that a bushfire has been burning 4.7 km from my home since about 5 pm yesterday and I knew nothing about it.

The bushfire is in parkland to the west of me, and is listed as ‘under control’, but I’m still devastated. Why did I receive no warning? Did I simply miss it?

I checked back through all the notifications on my phone, and nope, no warning about that fire. Then I checked the app’s event list and yes, the fire did appear there. So why did I get no warning? And how many others have I missed?

I’ve emailed the company about this ‘problem’, but I don’t expect an answer any time soon. And I don’t expect to be reassured when I do receive one; computer glitches that mess with your work are one thing, glitches like this one are potentially life threatening.

I’ll update this post as soon as I receive a reply from the EmergencyAus company, but in the meantime, can anyone recommend another app that does the same thing, but better?

Oh, and it’s New Year’s Eve morning here in Australia so… Happy New Year in advance.

Meeks


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