Thursday, March 25, 2010

Health Insurance Reform Quiz

Here's a feature of the New York Times that I never knew about until today. I'm not sure what grade level it's aimed at, but I guess junior high or high school. Here's a 10-question true/false quiz to test yourself on how well you know some of the key points in the bill that was signed on Tuesday.

Here's a lesson plan on ‘The Reality of Reform’: Understanding the Health Care Law:

Try the quiz first. When you're done, go back to the lesson plan, compare your answers with theirs, and look up the explanations.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

First class in downloadable audiobooks

Well, there's nothing like trying to teach a subject to learn more about it yourself. Monday I had my first class in downloadable audiobooks, trying to squeeze a 4-hour class into an hour and a half. (Actually it ran over another half an hour.) One of the attendees brought an iPod, which she has had for a year, and on which she already had many hours of music that she doesn't want to lose. She has a Windows PC at home. Is it safe to assume that the iPod is formatted for Windows, since she has been syncing it with a Windows PC? How would I/she find out for sure?

I'm thinking that going forward, I will alert iPod users when they sign up for the class, that if their iPod isn't already Windows-formatted, and if they don't want to have to reload all their music, they would be better off buying a cheap MP3 player for their audiobooks. Inconvenient, I know, but not as inconvenient as having to reload all their music.

The other thing I learned is that it's essential to have the latest version of Windows Media Player installed. I used to know this, but forgot it when I was planning the class. None of the laptops I used for the attendees was up to date, and didn't recognize the players when they were plugged in. Lucky for me, the other two attendees were both staff members, and thus more forgiving than a member of the public might have been.

Here's yet another thing I used to sort of know and already forgot. My Sansa Fuze was not being recognized by my computer here at the library. Well, it was, sort of, but then I'd get an error message that it might not be usable. Didn't have any trouble with any of the Sansa Clips I've used here. I've been playing with a USB camera, but I don't know if that's related, or just a coincidence.

The Fuze has three USB modes: MTP (Media Transfer protocol), MSC (Mass Storage Class), and Auto (try MTP and fall back to MSC if it doesn't work). Here's the best description of the problem and the solution that I found, and it did work. Except that I've left the Fuze in MTP mode.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

We're trying to help. Honest!

But sometimes it seems we're just making things more complicated for them. I had a visitor from out of town come in today to try to pay her bill (due in 2 days). She'd been in town much longer than she anticipated (maybe because of last week's storm?) and she needed to go in person to a branch of HSBC Bank. She usually pays by phone (or online, it wasn't clear). Except that she left her PIN at home. In Buffalo. And there are no branches of HSBC in NH. Or MA. But their website doesn't tell you that--half an hour wasted trying to find one that way. There is a physical branch in Buffalo--three, in fact--so I gave her the phone numbers of all 3 and suggested that she try to get a real person and [re]establish banking by phone with them. It was like the dreaded "what's my email password?" question, but worse.