Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

New blog!

Catherine Johnson and I have just started a new blog--focusing, specifically, on language and writing. You can check it out here.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Autism Diaries: chatting with Sprint

J has progressed in a number of ways this past year. He made it through his first year of college without any fatal screw-ups; he did well in an intensive summer math class at Penn (Linear Algebra and Differential Equations); he has independently negotiated a number of complex ceiling fan transactions; and he has become—I realized recently—a lot less mischievous.

Ironically I had this last realization only the other day, when a new bout of mischievous behavior suddenly surfaced. An alert from Gmail appeared in my inbox, informing me that there’d been a suspicious login to my gmail account from another computer. I quickly sorted out that it had to be J, and finagled a way to make him confess.

The difference with this particular email break-in was that it was motivated by curiosity rather than mischief. In other words, J hadn’t broken into my account not so that he could email everyone in my address book that our house had burned down. Rather, it was to see how it was that I’d learned about a particular fan negotiation that he’d been conducting. Of course, he still needed a consequence for what he knew full well was unacceptable behavior, and so I told him that I wouldn’t be facilitating any new fan visits until he could prove to me, definitely, that he no longer had access to my account.

J spent some time researching how to accomplish this, and what he came up with was “Google 2 Step.”  That is, J could set things up so that each time I logged onto Gmail for the first time on a particular device, I would first receive a text message from Google with a 6-digit code. Once I typed in the code, I’d have the usual password-based access on the device in question. Since the code would go only to my phone, and since I’ve learned over the years to keep my phone far away from J, J would never have access to it.

Sounded great! J helped me set it up, via an initial code that was sent through our land line. All looked nice and secure. But then I tried getting my mail off of my phone, and then off of a second computer, and it became clear that I wasn’t getting those code-bearing text messages. Somehow, my iPhone Sprint account wasn’t letting them in.

The prospect of hours chatting with Google and Sprint about these fascinating issues was totally demoralizing. “One of the worst things you can do,” I told J, “is to waste people’s time.”

And then I realized that it could—and should—be J’s wasted time rather than mine. In fact, if he was the one “chatting,” it wasn’t necessarily time wasted at all. A friendly online chat with a Sprint representative might be a great preliminary exercise of 21st century survival skills—especially for someone on the autism spectrum.

And especially because, when all is said and done, they send you a transcript:

Sprint: We received your information and will connect you with a Chat Specialist soon.
Sprint: Please hold, we will be with you shortly.
Sprint: While you wait, we’ll provide time-saving tips on managing your Sprint account and services.
Sprint: Control the services you use on your device easily online. You can block or allow texts, pictures, data, apps, digital media and more. Visit sprint.com/mypreferences to get started.
Sean A.: Thank you for contacting Sprint. My name is Sean A.. I am happy to help you today.
Sean A.: Hi! I apologize for the long wait.
You: I'm not getting text from 2 step verification.
Sean A.: Can you please provide a little more clarification on your question or concern?
You: It's a 2 step verification for Gmail. It's supposed to send me a code to my phone but it didn't.
Sean A.: Oh, I understand that you are trying to register for an online account, am I correct?
You: No, I'm trying to log in my current Gmail account.
Sean A.: Oh, I see.
Sean A.: Are you trying to reset your password?
You: No, I'm trying to log in and it has 2 step verification enabled.
Sean A.: Oh, I see. Technically, with regard to logging in to your gmail account. It will send you a verification link or code if you haven't been able to log in for a longer time. Have you tried using another web browser?
You: I tried Chrome and tried Firefox, page said it sent me a code, but I didn't receive a code.
Sean A.: Have you tried sending the code to your alternate email?
You: I tried, but the only 2 options are "get a text message with a verification code" or "Ask Google for help getting back into your account"
Sean A.: Oh, I see.
Sean A.: Based on my experience, I have received the code on my phone as I clicked on send or OK button.
Sean A.: Have you tried restarting your phone?
You: I'll try one more time now.
Sean A.: I highly appreciate your patience on this.
You: I just tried, still not getting a code
Sean A.: You can also choose the second option instead.
Sean A.: Technically, here in our end, we are specialized in handling Sprint service issues, Katharine.
Sean A.: But I will do all my best to help you with that.
You: It would take few days for 2nd option to go through, and I would want to get it working right away. What's the code you got?
Sean A.: With regard to the code, it will send you a G- plus 5 numbers which you will enter on the code box for verification.
You: I know, but I didn't receive that code. Did I get another code on your side?
Sean A.: I have send the account PIN to your phone earlier because I though you are referring to the your Sprint online account registration.
Sean A.: You have received it, right?
You: PIN is 20140806
Sean A.: With regard to the google account issue, it is best if you will contact google directly so that this will be fixed.
You: Did I receive a code for Google for Sprint?
Sean A.: Since you have received the PIN I have sent you for your Sprint account, you should also receive the code with regard to your google account.
Sean A.: With that, I have the idea that there is a delay on google's system. It is best if you will wait for 20 minutes to see if the google code will be sent on your phone.
Sean A.: Are there any other Sprint billing, equipment, or coverage issues that I can take care of for you today?
You: So was Google code actually sent to my Sprint?
Sean A.: The google code should be sent to the phone number you have included when you set up your google account.
You: The short code was blocked until this morning, then I did receive other message from a short code, but not 2 step verification code.
Sean A.: Let me check on that for you.
Sean A.: As I checked, your is not blocked from short codes. With this, you should be receiving short codes on your phone.
You: It was blocked until this morning
Sean A.: I am seeing that a short code is delivered to your line dated 08/25/2016 9:34AM.
You: What was the last short code message delivered to my phone? I didn't get a message at 9:34 AM EST
You: but I did get a message at 10:32 EST today from short code
You: not about verification code
Sean A.: I understand. Since your line is not blocked from short code messages, it is best if you will contact Google directly with regard to this matter.
Sean A.: You can also try to update the data profile of your phone to see if it will help.
Sean A.: Please follow these steps:
Step 1:From the home screen, tap Phone.
Step 2:On the keypad, dial ##873283# and tap the Call button.
Step 3:Tap OK. .
The handset will search for profile updates and install them.
Step 4: Tap OK.
Step 5: The profile is now updated.
Sean A.: Since this issue is with your google account, Katharine, the best option would be for you to contact them directly.
You: I am saying that I did NOT receive text message at 9:34 AM EST that you mentioned.
Sean A.: Yes, and it shows that it was sent but since you are not able to receive it, it would be best if you will contact google directly to have this resolved. I hope you understand that this issue is regarding your google account and not from Sprint.
Sean A.: Is there anything else I can assist you with today?
Sean A.: For your reference, please copy this link: […]
Sean A.: Please let me know if you're still available to chat with me so I can continue to assist you.
You: I'm still there, I'll try now
Sean A.: Are there any other billing, equipment, or coverage issues that I can take care of for you today?
You: So how many messages did I receive from short code?
You: I can't find anything in the link that has to do with not getting messages
Sean A.: With that, you can choose the 2nd option on getting into your account.
You: 2nd option takes few days and I have to get it working right away
Sean A.: I understand but this is with your google account issue. I hope you understand that we are unable to help you on this because we can only assist you with your Sprint issues.
You: But I was thinking it was sent to Sprint but not to my phone
Sean A.: It will only be sent to your phone and not with your Sprint account.
You: So can you read text messages that was supposed to be sent to my phone?
Sean A.: We don't have that option.
Sean A.: We can only see the time when the text was sent but not the content.
You: so can you see how many texts were sent from short code?
Sean A.: I am only seeing 2 messages, but the other messages says Messaging is blocked for this phone number and that is from the google verification alerts.
Sean A.: It was not sent successfully.
You: I need to have all messages unblocked
Sean A.: What I can suggest for you is to wait for 20 minutes to refreshed the google system.
Sean A.: Your short code messages has been unblocked from Sprint.
Sean A.: But the blocking is from google.
Sean A.: That is why I am recommending you to collaborate this with them.
Sean A.: I hope you understand.
Sean A.: We highly appreciate your patience and cooperation on this.
Sean A.: Is there anything else I can assist you with today?
Sean A.: I haven’t received a response from you so I will be disconnecting our chat. If you require additional assistance, please visit sprint.com. Thank you for your business. You’ll receive an email transcript of our chat after the session ends.
Sean A.: If you require assistance in the future, please don’t hesitate to chat with us again.
Sean A.: Thank you for contacting Sprint. You’ll receive a transcript of our chat within a couple of hours at the email address you provided at the beginning of this chat session.
Thank you for chatting today. We have ended your chat session. If you have another question or need additional assistance, please chat again at sprint.com.

It took some chatting with Google as well, but I don’t have transcripts for that. Eventually, after about an hour of his time, J got things working again.

In all this, some of my time was taken as well, but I had J give me back my time by something albeit less tedious that chatting with Sprint: loading unloading the dishwasher.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Math problems of the week: Common Core-inspired test questions

From the Smarter Balanced test's scoring guidelines for sample grade 4 questions:

Extra Credit:

Are the half-credit responses equally lacking in mathematical understanding?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Penmanship for in-class essays... and Common Core tests!

A colleague has just reminded me that there's still a purely practical reason for teaching students to write fast, legible cursive: in-class essay exams. Ironically (given the Common Core's de-emphasis on penmanship), handwritten exam questions aren't just a staple of many college courses, but also of Common Core-inspired testing--even in math tests. And, yes, as Anne Trubek points out, poor penmanship can negatively affect scores.

True, some students--and some entire classes--are allowed--or required--to word-process their essays instead of hand-writing them. But computers facilitate not just writing, but also cheating. And unless and until we find a way to ensure no computer based cheating (by, e.g., completely blocking Internet access at certain designated times and places), handwritten essay exams must remain an option, and penmanship instruction must stop disappearing.