Product Review – Nokia Lumia 830

Last week, I had the opportunity to test drive the Nokia Lumia 830.

The 830 stands out from the crowd with the beautiful Windows Phone live tile OS and the sleek case design. It feels substantial in the hand, but not nearly as weighty as the 920.

Cortana, I love you. You are Siri-ous competition, my lovely. Cortana displays text as you go and also includes punctuation. Really brilliant. Setting up favorites to maximize the efficacy of Cortana takes some time, but it’s worth it. Cortana could change your mobile life.

Setting up the phone to use was very easy since I already had a Windows Live account, and all of my information loaded quickly. Setting up Gmail and Facebook took no time at all, as well.

I loaded some of our Windows Phone apps (Name Dice, TampaMom, Thinkamingo) to play with and they all looked very good. The processing speed is nice and fast.

The navigation apps on this phone were rubbish. Honestly, if it’s not Google Maps or Waze, I don’t have time for it. I tried HERE+ and it was not easy to use. There was another navigation app that I can’t remember the name of, but in order to really use anything worthwhile on it, it wanted me to upgrade or subscribe. Nope.

The camera. Wow. The camera on the 830 is spectacular. You will not be disappointed with it. The one good/bad feature is the manual camera button on the lower right side of the phone.  I hold my phone in such a way that I repeatedly turned the camera on by depressing that button. If this was my permanent phone, I’m sure I would alter my behavior to accommodate that, but as it was my phone for a week, I couldn’t get past it. Sometimes, it’s awfully handy to have that button so that your phone feels more like a camera, but for me, it was a pain in the butt offer nfl jerseys.

Being in the Tampa Metropolitan area, mobile service coverage is generally pretty good across the board for all providers. There can be some challenges on bridges across Tampa Bay, or in other topographically-challenged areas where the signal just can’t dip down into an area. On the whole, this AT&T phone had excellent LTE coverage in this area, making the whole experience fast and fun.

The overall sound and volume level was impressive. I setup my own MixRadio personalized station and was impressed by the acuity of picking music I might like.

This phone came with a neon-green back cover which was a little too bright for my taste, but would definitely be more fun for someone else. It was very easy to find in my dark purse!

Battery life was very good for my use. I didn’t notice any unusual battery drain or problems with an average day of using the internet, texting, and a voice call or two.

You can read other more detailed, more technical, and more biased reviews around the web, but here’s the bottom line. An average user would not be disappointed with this beautiful and powerful phone. The overall design is attractive and feels good in the hand. Windows has the most striking mobile OS with the live tiles and eye-catching contemporary design. Finally, Cortana is brilliant.

One area I didn’t talk about was the availability of quality Windows Phone apps. If you rely heavily on a specific app or set of apps for your work, you should buy a phone that supports those apps. As far as anything else goes, be flexible. What apps do you currently use all the time? If you don’t buy or download apps, then it’s a non-issue for you. If you are a casual gamer, there are plenty of apps that fit the bill in the Windows Store.

Overall, this phone is worthy of high praise on nearly every level. It would be a nice upgrade to my Lumia 920!

Disclaimer: I was given this phone to review by AT&T without any conditions or remuneration.

The Value of Curated Content on Facebook

“Ann, thank you so much for making this happen! This group is one of the highlights of my online experience.”

The value of curated content is having users feel like this, over and over again! How do you get to that point? Well, let me tell you my story…

I am passionate about opera. Not just any opera, either. I’m passionate about the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD series. These are live transmissions from the Met to theaters all over the world. It’s a uniquely shared experience for opera lovers.

Sometimes, I have friends accompany me to our local events, but most of the time I’m flying solo. I thought it would be great fun to talk with other fans after the events, so I set up  Facebook group a few years ago. I didn’t advertise it, but put some important keywords in the name so people who were interested could find it. I called it “Met Opera Live in HD Fans.” It was simple and had the important key elements in it. A critical part of this was setting the group so only Members could post, but everything could be read publicly. Everyone who wants to join must be approved by me.

curatedcontent

How do I determine who gets to join? Well, my goal is not to have some special ivory tower of opera worship, but to share and learn about opera. It’s a real community of experts, casual fans, novices, and assorted other types of interested people. If I can’t determine from a quick glance at the person’s Facebook page that they are a real person and interested in opera, I send them this private message:

“I’m the admin for the Met Opera Live in HD fans FB group. I always screen potential members. Why do you want to join our group? What is your favorite opera? I look forward to your response. Thank you.”

After that, it’s just really up to me to say yes. I try to say yes to everyone who is a real person. This membership gate is primarily to keep out spammers and trolls. If any problems in the group occur from a new member, I give them a warning, then ban them on the next offense. Since it’s my group, I get to make those decisions.

The simple action of keeping out spammers and only allowing people in who are obviously opera lovers or are interested enough to answer my screening question has kept the quality of members very high. When new people find our group and are able to read the posts publicly without joining, they can decide whether or not to pursue membership or be an anonymous public consumer.

Once we reached 1500 members, I appointed 2 of my very active and trusted members to admin status to help screen new members and keep an eye on things. This has helped tremendously with the speed of approval.

STATUS UPDATE POST – 8/22/2016
Administering a Gated Community on Facebook

The group recently passed the 2500 member mark and I felt it was time to have some official group rules to maintain the high standards.  Group Rules and Welcome Letter

The success of this group has far exceeded my expectations! It’s always nice to see messages of thanks from the members on a regular basis. I’ll close with a sampling of those. Thank you!

“The delight and enthusiasm of this group is a breath of fresh air. Thank you all for sharing.”

Ann, thanks for taking the time to spell out the rules. I really appreciate you organizing this group. It’s not an easy task, especially when the group gets large and when issues with some political aspects arise. I have a Local FB corgi group, which is so much easier to run because it’s mainly just pics and likes acknowledging the cuteness of our fur babies. But even then, there a rare issues which require intervention on my behalf. 

Kudos to you. And let me know when you come to the SF area so I can thank you with a dinner.

 

 

Learning is taking place.

I’m sure by now, you’ve heard all about the Annandale High School Marching Atoms kerfuffle. In case you haven’t, you can get up to speed with the original article on their school newspaper or their Facebook event page here.

The crux of the whole deal is that the football coach shook the podium of the drum major and had other coaches, players, and fans/parents yelling at the band to get off the field in the middle of their halftime show. The disrespectful behavior from this very visible school leader and teacher, not to mention physical and verbal harassment, is completely unacceptable. There are many other facts about this story, but that’s the real clincher that pushed this from an interscholastic squabble to a social media shitstorm.

Musicians, especially band geeks (yes, I’m one!), are passionate about music, teamwork, the human spirit, and underdogs! You want high school marching bands on your side! This is a unique group of people who willingly spend vast amounts of time, energy, and their own money to be in marching bands that go play for football teams and entertain audiences no matter if the team is winning or losing! They are cheerleaders! They are event makers! They are spirit builders! Yes, there are lots of exclamation points because that’s just how band is! Yeah, band!

This event touched a nerve with me, so I penned the following letter to the school principal and copied it to the band director.


Dear Principal Randazzo,

Congratulations on the outstanding accomplishments of your band program under the direction of Mr. Hilkert. It is no small feat to reach that outstanding level of skill and cooperation without a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. The Herculean effort it requires to teach, train, fund raise, rehearse, plan, and travel with a marching band is commendable. Kudos to Mr. Hilkert.

As a music professional (Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees,) and now as a band booster with a child in a high school marching band, I’m flabbergasted at the behavior of your football coach towards the band, collectively and personally. Under what circumstance is it acceptable to shake a podium with a student on it? Or yelling at the students to leave the field?

I feel for the coach and his frustration at having a terrible season. I get it. I live in Tampa and the Buccaneers just won their first game of the whole season this past Monday. It’s painful to be attached to a losing team. Our high school team won 3 games this year, and took a beating most of the time. It wasn’t pretty, but we cheered and played the fight song. I imagine your coach is feeling pretty frustrated. In spite of that, learning is taking place. All the time. Everyone present at your Senior Night learned the ugly truth about your coach. The students saw it, and learned from it.

It’s your turn to teach your school, the community, and far beyond, thanks to the internet. Learning is taking place. The kids and their parents are watching. If you don’t stand up for the band and outwardly acknowledge their contribution to the whole football game experience, you are giving your stamp of approval to that coach and bullies everywhere that it’s okay to make others feel “less than.”

I wish you all the best as you take this opportunity to lead by example.

Best,

Ann Adair (who found validation and self worth while participating in high school band)


High school marching band memories!
High school marching band memories!

 

This snapshot was a pleasant, although character-building, memory of marching in a community parade. It was hot (South Florida!) and long. Parades always seemed very long with lots of starting and stopping, and repeating the same music over and over, especially at Christmas. Potholes are dangerous, along with occasional horse poop that might have been missed.

One unpleasant memory stands out for me, though, and it happened at a football game. It was my sophomore year, first year in marching band, and we were marching out of the stadium after the game. I don’t remember the score or who won, but it was crowded and a bit rowdy. Out of nowhere, I was hit in the side of my head with an egg. It hurt. It was humiliating. I had raw egg in my hair, on my face, on my uniform, and I stood at attention and concentrated on marching out of there as if nothing happened. The tears began to build, and I probably silently cried in the dark on the bus on the way back to the school. I don’t remember. I do remember a band chaperone helping me get cleaned up. I think I was in shock.

I’m trying to imagine what was going through the mind of the drum major from Annandale’s band on Senior Night as he’s conducting in the middle of the halftime show to have his own team’s coach yelling at them to stop and get off the field, then shaking the podium while he was on it. He’s a kid. A student leader doing the best he can with an undisputed prize-winning band following the direction of his band director. Why didn’t the coach talk to the band director? What was he thinking? That moment of the podium shaking is probably burned into the soul of that kid. Good job, coach. Learning is taking place. Learning about how even trusted coaches, leaders, and teachers can lose control. Those people who should be building up young people and are paid to do that can turn on a dime and lash out. Good job, coach. Thanks for teaching how it’s okay to push around students at your own school, in front of their peers and parents, on an important night in the life of a high school student. Senior Night is a time to celebrate your accomplishments with your friends, your family, your classmates, and your teachers/coaches/administration. Learning is taking place.

A friend posted a quotation from Lily Tomlin today that emboldened me about this story.

“I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something about that, then I realized I was somebody.”

I was that high school band student thirty years ago. Now, I’m a band booster with a daughter in high school marching band. I’m one of the parents that will be there to pick up the pieces when that trusted adult has shaken the podium or anonymous kid has thrown an egg at a student.

After all this, what I know is that marching bands march. They march through rain, heat, snow, sunshine, horse crap, potholes, muddy football fields, hot asphault, dirt roads, and will march right over jerks who might shake their foundations without blinking an eye.

March on, Annandale Marching Atoms!

 

Music, Technology, Education