Archive for December, 2020

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Definition of technical editing

December 30, 2020

An editing colleague posted a link to an article by Tom Lang on technical editing and the tasks and thought processes involved, with some excellent examples: https://ese.arphahub.com/article/53691/

In the article, he cited a thesis by Natalie Peterson that lists some 410 (!) technical editing tasks. So I went hunting down rabbit holes for the thesis, and finally found it. Not only does it list and categorise those 410 editing tasks (in Appendices 1 and 2), but Peterson also offers a new definition of technical editing that resonated with me:

Technical editing is the suggestion of improvements to a document or other communication product to help an author increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the transmission of information in a specialized subject to the author’s intended audience.

(Peterson, Natalie L, Revising Theory: A Universal Framework for the Comprehensive Editing of Technical Communications, 2017, Masters Thesis, University of Wisconsin-Stout; available from: http://www2.uwstout.edu/content/lib/thesis/2017/2017petersonn.pdf)

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Foxtel: Smartcard is not authorised

December 21, 2020

I have a love/hate relationship with Foxtel (or Fuxtel as we tend to call it), Australia’s main ‘cable’ TV provider. Last night was not the love side of the equation. At around 8:38pm, Western Australian time, the recorded program we were watching suddenly stopped and was replaced by a F114 error message that said ‘This Smartcard is not authorised’. What?

My immediate thought was that the replacement IQ4 box (which still hasn’t arrived some 11 days after ordering it; initial phone call from Alex at Foxtel offering the IQ4 box and activation for free was 26 Nov 2020; called 9 Dec 2020 to take up the offer and order the IQ4 from Jack) and package was now in play, even though I’d asked the sales person on 9 Dec 2020 if we could wait until after Christmas/early January before installing the new box and had clearly been told that we could. Then I thought about the date—we get direct debited from our credit card around the 20th to 22nd of each month, and this was the night of the 20th.

I did what the message said and called Foxtel, expecting they had 24/7 technical support. They don’t. (I found out today that tech support is 8am to 10pm Melbourne time, 7 days a week—10pm Melbourne time is 7pm Perth time. Thanks Fuxtel. And checking the support area on their website gave no information as to the possible reason for this message that related to what we saw.)

I called again this morning (Monday). The tech support person tried to send a message to my Foxtel box, but I saw nothing on screen as she had expected. Then she got me to read out the serial number and smartcard number and told me that she didn’t have those numbers on her screen for our account (!!!). She asked if we had a second box—we do, it’s in the bedroom and we never use it, so I’d turned it off months ago. She said that second box was listed with them as the primary box, and because the new billing cycle is for the IQ4 box and because we weren’t getting a replacement second IQ4 box to replace the second IQ2 box, our primary box (which Foxtel considers our secondary box) got deactivated as the new billing cycle/plan kicked in.

She asked me to wait 30 mins to 2 hours for the reactivation request she had put through to come through, and said she would call after about 30 mins to an hour to check. I’ve already waited close to on a hour, and the ‘smartcard is not authorised’ message is still on the screen.  And I haven’t received a call back.

She did confirm that we could install the new IQ4 box at any time—it would only get activated once we called them, and that the activation would be instant. It’s a pity the re-activation for our current IQ2 box isn’t instant too!

Update: She called again just over an hour later. Still nothing, so she re-authorised again and within seconds all was back as it should be. Or so we thought—see ‘And the saga continues’ secton below.

Update on the IQ4 box: It was ordered on 9 December, and we were told and had emails to say it would take ‘1 to 10 days’. Today (21 Dec) is Day 12 and no box. But I did get a message about 2:30pm today that the box has now been dispatched from the warehouse, wherever that is…. AusPost’s system doesn’t yet have the tracking number Fuxtel gave me, so I can’t even see where it’s being sent from let alone when it might arrive. Further update 22 Dec: The new IQ4 box is scheduled to be delivered between 5 and 14 January. Certainly not ‘1 to 10 days’ as stated by the Foxtel person I ordered it from, nor the email I received. Further update 31 Dec 2020: The new IQ4 box arrived today.

And the saga continues…

We sat down to watch TV on the night of 21 Dec 2020, expecting all to be as it was prior to the disconnection/reconnection. Well, some things worked, but some major functions didn’t:

  • Anything recorded onto the IQ2 box’s hard drive before 20 Dec was no longer available. It was listed, but we just got an error message when we tried to view it. NOTE: This box is INSIDE OUR HOUSE and the recordings are stored IN THE BOX. This is not some live connection to the satellite.
  • No On Demand functions work, and I don’t think we can go back in time for 24 hours to watch something we may have missed either. So we can’t even watch via catch up the programs we’d recorded before 20 Dec.
  • The Favourites list is all screwed up and seems to reflect a list from years ago. I re-added Favourites channels, but nothing held. I didn’t get any message that these wouldn’t be saved—they just weren’t.
  • New recordings and series linked recordings seem to work for now, but I’m not sure if we will lose those too.

As we discovered this loss of functionality before 7pm, I called Foxtel tech support. After 45 minutes on hold I got put through to a support person who explained that the reason we didn’t have these functions is that we were on a ‘temporary signal’ (whatever that means—it’s a signal from a satellite, so I don’t know how it can be ‘temporary’!). She indicated that it was because the second unused IQ2 box was considered our primary box (by them, not us) and so they’d auto disconnected what they thought was the secondary box. She admitted it was Foxtel’s fault and that they messed up. Ya think!?? A quick 10-second phone call from them would’ve have told them which box we considered our primary box and prevented all this!!!

So, we cannot do anything except watch Foxtel in real time for at least the next few weeks until the IQ4 box arrives and is installed (actually, recordings seem to be working, as do series link recordings). We’ve had a Platinum Plus pack and been loyal customers for 20+ years, yet according to tech support NOTHING can be done to restore our functions.

When I asked about what happens if we have a power outage (as sometimes happens here, even just for a few seconds), I was told we’ll lose the Foxtel signal again and will have to have it restored. Of course, if an outage happens after 7pm, we won’t be able to get it restored until the following day as Foxtel tech support finishes at 7pm for Western Australian customers. Not impressed. Update 31 Dec 2020: We had two power outages after I originally wrote this—one for a few seconds, which reset the Foxtel box, and one for about 45 mins, which also reset it. Fortunately, we didn’t have to go through the process of reactivating, as both outages were outside Foxtel’s support hours.

We are VERY angry at this mess that ISN’T OUR FAULT. A single phone call to ask us which box we no longer wanted prior to disconnecting anything would have averted all these issues.

Making a complaint

To add insult to injury, I decided to lodge a complaint with Foxtel on 22 December. The only way to do that is via their standard phone number for everything or via the complaints form on their website. There are character limits for the complaint text on the form, so I made sure that I was well under that limit. I completed all fields, mandatory or not, and did the CAPTCHA thing, then clicked Submit. And got this error message: You don’t have permission to access http://www.foxtel.com.au/bin/foxtel/genericForm on this server. Reference #18.98464868.1608627165.1ec5ba69

Great. You can’t even complain to them!

I tried this form several times with the same result, whether I was logged into my Foxtel account or not. And just in case the character limits were wrongly described on the form, I tried it with a very small amount of text—still got an error. I contacted @FOXTEL_Help on Twitter, and was told VPNs often cause this, but I DON’T USE A VPN!! I haven’t heard back from the Twitter account again. (Update 23 December, afternoon: Heard back from Twitter account, suggested try a different browser, tried on Firefox—same error)

Wednesday 23 December: I tried the online complaints form again—same error. So then I called the 131999 phone number and asked for ‘Complaints’ and got put through to tech support. Again.

I explained to the tech support person that the online complaints form wasn’t working, that our new box still wasn’t here, and, most importantly, that we had lost major functions on the box—functions that worked perfectly fine on 20 December. He said he would escalate it for me and typed up the complaint himself (which I haven’t seen, so I have no idea what he typed). He gave me a complaint case number, and said someone would call me within 24 to 48 hours. Yeah, right—that lands right in Christmas and unless someone calls later today or tomorrow, I doubt I’ll hear from them before 27 December. They have my mobile number, my landline number, and my email address. And hopefully all the text from the support people about what has happened. Update 31 Dec 2020: Someone called on Christmas Day, right in the middle of Christmas lunch. I didn’t take the call as it was from a Melbourne number I didn’t recognise—and it was Christmas Day! Based on the voicemail left for me, I called the number back later that day, only to get a message saying that the phone number wasn’t attended and that someone would get back to me. No-one did. I called again on 30 Dec 2020, got tech support again, quoted my complaint number, and he told me he had emailed the supervisor who the complaint had escalated to (the same person who called me Christmas Day), and had requested that she contact me ASAP. It’s now 31 December and no-one has contacted me. Update: It’s now 6 January and still no-one has contacted me.

NONE of this would have been necessary if they’d just called and asked which box we used and were going to replace. And this question probably should have been asked by the initial sales person who had asked at the time whether we wanted to continue with two boxes.

One other thing… the online complaints form asks what resolution we would like. Simple, really—We want ALL our old functions restored and working until we receive and install the IQ4 box (due mid-January, some 6 weeks since ordering). If that’s not possible, we would like at least 3 months subscription compensation for this inconvenience, right at Christmas time when we’d saved up movies etc. to watch while on leave. We can no longer access these as we can’t access any recordings or On Demand functions. And a year’s free subscription to Netflix.

Update 6 January 2021: My cabling guy came yesterday afternoon and swapped out out the old IQ2 box for the new IQ4 box. That process was simple. The rest? Not so much… I did the activation by phone (all voice activated, no person to speak to), and after a couple of restarts I had the home screen. But as soon as I tried to access a channel, I got an ‘Update Required’ message with no info as to how to do that. I called Foxtel tech support, and the helpful woman at the other end of the line got me to read out the serial number and version number and SIM number—she said that the software needed to be updated (it was a BRAND NEW box!), and got that in motion. She said it would take 15 to 60 mins before I had full functionality again, and to call back if it still didn’t work. The box rebooted itself a couple more times, then I was back to the Home screen after about 20 mins. I checked the settings, which listed a later version and the SIM number info said N/A (it seems there’s no SIM in these new boxes, just an internal smart card). I tried to access a Foxtel channel again, but all I got was an info banner about the channel/program across the screen for a few seconds and black behind it—no picture, no sound. ABC and SBS worked OK, but none of the Foxtel channels worked. Back on the phone to tech support, this time with a 15+ minute wait. The next person to answer my call checked a few more things at her end, said our account was all correct (I’d also received an auto email from Foxtel during the first phone call to tech support that our account was being ‘voluntarily suspended’ [at a cost of $10] for 24 hours!!! She told me to ignore that email). She rebooted the box remotely from her end again, and when it came back I had picture and sound for the Foxtel channels I tried. So far, it all seems to be working. She also helped me pair the Bluetooth for the voice-activated remote. Now we just have to get a handle on the new way of navigating the screen and the redesigned remote control, set the settings to how we want them to be, set up favorite channels, set up the internet connection (I got a text to say that Netflix was included in our package), and rerecord or download some of the programs we missed while it was off the air.

I still haven’t heard back from Foxtel Complaints, some 14 days after making my initial complaint.

Update 8 January 2021: Still no call from Foxtel Complaints… They obviously really care about their customers (not!). However, I discovered that we can use the old IQ2 remote with the new box. Most functions work, except the settings button, as far as I could tell. This is good news for my husband who hates learning new things, so he’ll be happy with that old remote, while I use the new one.

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Testing a Dyson battery

December 14, 2020

I have a 4-year-old Dyson stick vacuum cleaner (V6 model), and it seems to be cutting out well before the usual 20 minutes of use is up. I used it yesterday and it cut out after about 2 to 3 minutes. I checked the Dyson website for troubleshooting information, in case it was anything more sinister than a battery. And wondered if I might have to replace the whole thing if the battery couldn’t be replaced.

The good news is that the battery can be replaced (and you can purchase a new one direct from the Dyson website; at least, you can from their Australian website). And the second good news was that they have phone support available 7 days a week (more limited hours on weekends, but available). The person who helped me diagnose if the battery was the issue was just wonderful and gave me all sorts of other tips on cleaning the machine too (when I asked). She had plenty of opportunity to sell me a new battery right there and then, but didn’t. Instead, she told me how to diagnose if the battery was at fault and based on my testing to then make a decision about replacing the battery.

How to diagnose if the battery is the reason for the Dyson cutting out:

  1. Fully charge the vac (at least 3 to 4 hours, preferably overnight).
  2. Once charged, you will do a time test with the vacuum set to MAX, so get out your phone and set the stopwatch function for time to 0:00.
  3. Start the vac and with it running, press the MAX button at the back of the unit until it starts flashing blue. (No, I didn’t know about MAX either!)
  4. Start the stopwatch.
  5. Run the vac until it stops.
  6. Take note of the time.
  7. Check your results:
    • With the unit set to MAX and a full battery, you should get about 6 minutes of run time. You don’t need a new battery. Something else might be an issue, so call Dyson.
    • If you get 3 minutes of run time, you need a new battery. Perhaps not now, but likely within a few weeks or months, depending on how often and for how long you use the machine.
    • If you get less than 3 minutes of run time, your battery needs to be replaced. This was the case with mine—I got less than 2 minutes.
  8. Recharge the battery a little again and reset the MAX button to off (no blue flashing light around it) so that it doesn’t inadvertently remain on MAX once you get the new battery and install it (two screws only).