Hi, long time no post. Not that I have been a very frequent writer here in earlier days, but I needed a reason to tell you that my paid job is taking quite some space in my schedule recently.
Sidenote for those interested: I am working at a company that is doing the automation and conveyor technology for Porsche in Leipzig/Germany and several other rather Volkswagen-centric companies. So it’s all Windows and crappy industrial software for me now. That brought me quite far away from KDE and Linux in general. I am still using Linux with KDE on my private laptop, but there is so little free time now that I barely see the KDE desktop anymore. And if I do, the hotel’s internet is probably down. I am planning to write a rather KDE-unrelated post about software development in the automotive industry, but that will have to wait for the automotive industry to change in a way that gives its service providers enough room to breathe. :D
Following the development of me being rather Windows-centric these days, describing my involvement in the German translation as “sparse” would be rather generous. If it wasn’t for Burkhard Lück (he himself holder of an Akademy award), we probably would not have a German translation in 4.10. Big Thank You for that!
One thing I want to mention though is that as of this weekend the German KDE translation follows the rest of the world regarding the translation of “Trash”. For some reason we have been using “Mülleimer” since … forever. GNOME, Windows, Mac OS X and probably everyone else is using “Papierkorb”. For the non-German speakers: “Mülleimer” is more like the thing in the kitchen, while “Papierkorb” is its office equivalent. So, big “Yay” here from my side.
That I am celebrating a small (but nice) thing like that, shows that the German translation team is in a rather sad state of decline. A few years ago, there were about six to ten active translators. Now there are two (if you are positive enough to count me).
I am planning on writing a post about what it takes to be a translator hoping that we find someone who is willing to take responsibility to be a long-term contributor, but … well, as said, lacking free time. :)
So, I hope there are some folks out there who appreciate the new “Papierkorb” and more generally the German KDE translation and even more generally German translations and most generally translations in all languages.
Have fun. :)
New job, new home, new laptop, right?
Well, not that easy. But turns out, job and home is easier that laptop.
Today I read this story about Lenovo Support and then I thought, I could share my story as well. I already ranted about the Lenovo Support on Google+ but apparently Google+ is not Twitter.
But let’s start at the beginning.
On June 20th…
…I decided that my five years old HP laptop has reached its end of service. It still runs quite fine (this blog post is written on it) but over the years more and more components gave up. I wrote about some of it earlier but now I could add some more components to the list.
So I went to Alternate (a German retailer) and looked around a bit. After a few hours and a good night sleep there were two laptops in a rather uneven race. One 13″ HP ProBook and one 15″ Lenovo Thinkpad. Both around 800 EUR. I decided for the Thinkpad because I liked the keyboard better and because of its higher screen resolution (1600×900 vs. 1366×786). So I placed the order and felt good about it.
On June 26th…
…the order arrived and I was happy like a child in a candy shop … until I realised the Enter key being a bit clunky. As long as I hit it exactly at its center, it was fine but to the corners it got worse to the point where it was not pressed at all but wedged somehow. I wrote an email to Alternate asking what to do. They told me to send the laptop back and that they could not send a new keyboard. With my new job starting a few days later, I did not want to do that. They also gave me a telephone number of the Lenovo support so I decided to go that road instead.
Before that, I had to move homes though, so I postponed the call.
On July 2nd…
…I called the support of Lenovo Germany. My call was answered by a recorded voice asking me several questions about my laptop model and such that I answered by pressing the phone digits. The call was ended by the voice by telling me that the hotline has been moved to another number. I had to call a second time because I did not have a pen at hand fast enough.
So I called the second hotline; still Lenovo Germany. Another recorded voice asked me similar questions and after a few questions it sent me to the website. A bit pissed I ended the call early and went to the main website instead. At the bottom there was a link called “Warranty” (“Garantie & Gewährleistung” in German). That link lead to an error page saying that the page did not exist.
I called the hotline again checking if I might have missed something at the end. But no, the call was just ended after the naming of the website. I looked around on the website again and finally found the page the hotline was referring to.
So I checked my warranty. Unsurprisingly it was still valid for almost a year. The assistant had me state some more information about my location and stuff and then gave me the phone number of the hotline I just called.
I called the hotline again just to be sure, but still nothing. I spent another half an hour on the website to see if I had missed something there but did not find anyhing helpful.
On July 3rd…
…I left a comment on the warranty assistant page that I did not find it very helpful, threw all my frustration into my Google+ stream and then sent a message to some “do you have questions” email address I found on the Lenovo website.
On July 4th…
…I decided to sent another email to Alternate, describing what I experienced. They answered the same day, telling me that they are sorry for the inconvenience and that, if nothing else worked, I could still send the laptop back. After another day of waiting for Lenovo to respond to something, I sent the whole thing back to Alternate …on July 5th
Since I did not anticipate the issues I would have with the Lenovo support and thought I would receice a spare keyboard within days, I prepared the laptop for my work, installing Debian and stuff. I told Alternate several times that I could not send the device back in original condition. They never responded to that particular bit so I guess it’s alright. Or I at least hope so.
So today on July 6th…
…I work with my old laptop at home and with a loaned device at work. And I am looking for another new laptop. Lenovo disqualified themselves this week by hiding from customers and not responding at all on several channels. So I guess it will be another HP. I just hope they solved the “fans become annoyingly noisy after some time” issue that haunted my current laptop’s series.
In general I would like to have a laptop with:
* that brand new non-glare display technology the manufacturers are advertising recently (forgotten are the days when that was standard and “glare” had to be advertised for all the DVD watchers and fish tank screen savers)
* mouse buttons that can be pressed (not those pads that just click) and are adjoining so I can press them both simultaneously with one finger (I really like the Thinkpad in that regard)
* a quiet to silent fan; currently I go to bed with a ringing in my ears from the noise of the fan (no, there is no dust carpet in there, I clean it every other month or so) and I want to change that
* a normal keyboard; not those “separate keys in a punched plate” thingies. I work with one of those once in a while and mistype quite often.
Suggestion are appreciated. :)
How it could have ended
Last year, I bought a new guitar. Since I lived in a small town I ordered it just like I ordered the laptop last month. Thomann is a really great retailer in Germany (selling Europe-wide, I think). You can test everything like you would in the store and send it back if you do not like it without a problem. Well, I had a little problem with the guitar. The tone switch vibrated while playing makin a little vibrating sound. I wrote Thomann an email and at the same day they told me that a new guitar would be sent to me the next day and that I should send back the one I had with the shipping sticker they sent me as a PDF. Umm, well, that was a bit overkill, so I called them. It’s a normal phone number so it does not cost a thing for me and a real person answered the call after about 10 seconds of music, who I could ask for a less intrusive solution. They offered to send me a new switch, if I could attach it myself. I agreed (not knowing that it would be a pain to do so with that particular guitar model, but well :D) and the next day they send me a switch that was about 10 times the value of the one built-in originally; basically the most expensive one they had.
I bought quite some stuff there after that and will continue to do so because I know that I can call them and talk to real people in case I have a problem.
Back to Lenovo. I cannot believe that what I experienced with them is supposed to be the way they want to handle customer support. That’s why I tried everything several times (and paid several EUR for their “value-added” phone numbers for nothing). So, what did I do wrong? Did anyone else have any experience with the support of Lenovo or Lonovo Germany? Please leave comments. :)
Learning Japanese. Week five.
Second rather lazy week in a row. Well, “lazy” is not the right word. Other stuff has been going on rather, which depleted most of my energy. But that’s private. :D
I have polished my Hiragana by reading, learned a few more Kanji and Katakana and listened to a Japanese radio station more. I love it when they just talk for a few hours. Highlights are if I understand a word here and there, but the way they are talking in some of the shows fascinates me beyond that. I hope the fascination does not degenerate once I understand a certain amount.
(Currently it seems to be Smooth Jazz hour, so it’s fine anyway. :))
Besides the image of me looking into my test book being a sparse sight this week, I nevertheless feel like I took one small step further on the “being serious” ladder. I started a vocabulary with all words I learned so far. Hand-written. In paper. Not sure why I did not do that earlier, but … now I did. :) Kana-only, means, no Romaji. Let’s see when I will be able to add some Kanji there. I might need a very fine pen for that.
In order to collect the vocabulary I redid the first few lessons of Rosetta Stone and the text book I use. I have to say that this gave me a little push in confidence. In general I am currently feeling intimidated by the amount of stuff I see in front of me. Looking back once in a while might be a good way to see what has already been accomplished.
In this spirit, I am starting into the next week. Katakana still being no. 1 priority, the vocabulary will be one of my main targets this time. Being able to read the “letters” does not mean a thing if they cannot be assigned to a meaning.
Week four, of me learning Japanese, passed by. Fast. Too fast.
I read some articles about learning in general and started reading a book about learning Japanese.
Then I fell ill and was in bed for a few days. And now I am back at my desk working on the backlog of my time off.
I feel like I am currently in the Conscious Incompetence phase of learning.
According to the article this is the phase where most learners quit. And I certainly feel why.
Anki should have a module for the login manager. So that you have to finish your daily set of cards before you can log in. :D
The nice thing of the week was when I watched Three Days of the Condor (great movie!) and the guy wrote down a Kanji asking what it meant and I could actually answer that before the woman did. :D (For the record: it was the Chinese 天, which looks the same in Japanese :))
Ok, off for another week of Kanji, Rosetta clicking spree, listening to Japanese radio shows (and starting to love the musik there) and all the other little things I am trying to establish in my daily life. :)
Week three of my Japanese learning attempt. So what happened?
– I was able to repeatedly form whole simple sentences with all the は and を at the right place while not reading it from a text book and with my last learning session having been hours ago. That felt pretty good. :)
– A new unit introduced new grammar. Now I am confused with sentence structure again. :D
– This clickery-doo of Rosetta is becoming a bit tiring. I have to force myself increasingly with every additional session to not click what I know is right and actually read the texts.
– Numbers are evil! Well, numbers seem fine but numbering is evil. Japanese has different words for counting depending on what you count. Seems like an awful lot of trouble for just counting stuff.
– Hiragana are mostly fine now. I was a bit confused just today because “motte” is “もって” but “ikko” is “いっ” (I would have guessed “いっこ”). Or is Rosetta flawed?
– I started learning Kanji two days ago. Not sure if I am using Anki correctly, but the way I use it now is not enough yet. I want to train some Kanji several times a day but still have some postponed for a few days. But I only found a way to postpone by one day or not at all (immediate repetition). After a delay of one whole day, 20 new Kanji are added. That way I will have all 80 N5 Kanji there in two days with around 15 of them fluent enough to have them postponed for weeks. But I will have to use it more to judge it better. :)
I also have the feeling that just doing “flash card” learning is not enough for Kanji. Many have such a wide-spread meaning that it is hard to get the hang of them. On the other hand seem some Kanji closely related to other Kanji so it might be a good idea to see them in logical groups once in a while. But my text book exposes me to Katakana now, so…
– I have to start learning <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katakana"Katakana. They occur in my learning material now and I cannot read them yet.
I am looking forward to another week. :)
It must be day seven or eight of my Japanese learning attempt. Not sure given my sleeping hapits. And I made it through the first unit of the Rosetta Stone software course. Eleven lessons from “ridiculously easy” over “no idea what they are talking about” to a mixture of all lessons stuffed into the last lesson.
Not sure if I grasp the concept of the course. It is supposed to mimic the way children learn a language. By listening to the language and making connections to things you see. While this worked quite well for me during the first few lessons (especially the “numbers” one ;)), it became a bit of a charade during the last few lessons.
After seeing a sentence a few times, I start to recognise the crucial word or the sentence’s shape in the little box it is presented in. So I have to force myself to ignore that I know the answer and read it all nevertheless. I am not always successful in doing so. So sometimes, I run through the exercises only hunting for the crucial words, longest sentences or boldest font, with no errors at all. But do I learn something that way? Not sure. That might be part of the “unconscious learning” approach, the software follows. As I said, not sure yet if it is working for me.
To be on the safe side, I decided to start another course in parallel.
They have a trial online course so no money needed for the first few lessons. They go the more usual way of starting with basic introduction and short conversations.
So far I like it since the material seems to be high quality. Only the speakers are a bit too enthusiastic for my taste. It sounds like the audio to a billboard advertisement for a generic enterprise IT product. But well, so far I have only been working through the first two conversations, so their enthusiasm might actually be helping once you have gone through weeks or months of studying. :D
For now I will be repeating the last few lessons of the first unit of the Rosetta Stone course and finish the trial on Rocket Languages. In parallel I have to repeat and repeat and repeat the Hiragana (especially the compounds) and start the Katakana.
Dinner time. :)
It’s day three in my one-lesson-a-day Rosetta Stone learning Japanese attempt. It becomes a bit harder, no question. But it remains fun to learn more words and also to see that my version of the language pack is very old (did I mention that? ;)). In today’s lesson a Mercedes-Benz from the 1970s is used to show you what “atarashii” means. And “furui” is some car from the 1950s. :D