E-mobile: avoid

This is only likely to be of interest to a few people in Japan, but I am one of them so I am going to go ahead and publish it.

I just got off the phone with an e-mobile supervisor called Mr. Fukunaga following a mostly polite conversation about their contract and renewal policies.

I first got a contract with e-mobile in 2008, when they were aggressively subsidizing new laptops if bought with a two-year wireless data modem contract. I enjoyed the laptop briefly, found the usb wireless modem useful for a year or so, then wireless networks appeared everywhere in my life and I forgot about it.

In 2010 e-mobile automatically renewed my contract. During a contract, you cannot cancel it without paying a 10,000 yen penalty fee. This is not particularly unusual with mobile contracts, but e-mobile ups the ante by doing the following:

1. refusing to send you monthly statements unless you pay them (and not offering email ones)
2. refusing to let you cancel your contract except during a one-month window in the year it is up for renewal

Mr. Fukunaga explained that as e-mobile ‘has so many subscribers’ they could not guarantee that they would remember not to auto-renew my contract for another two years, so I have to remember to call them back between the 1st and 30th of November. If I fail to do so, they will gladly renew my contract again for a further two years without telling me.

This is just obnoxious. Their business model seems to be based on signing people up for contracts, hoping they will forget about them, and enforcing draconian cancellation penalties if and when they do remember.

At first they were one of the only options for wireless data, but now that mi-fi devices are everywhere I would avoid this company like the plague. It probably didn’t help that it took me three tries and twenty minutes to get through their automated phone centre to talk to a person.

Anyone have anything good to say about e-mobile?

My new favourite TED talk

Great content, great delivery, great charisma. Outstanding.

Independent study in a computer lab (my steep learning curve starts here!)

I started teaching in a computer lab for the first time this semester. It’s been a bit traumatic so far, as the classroom dynamic changes a lot, but I’m enjoying the challenge so far.

Yesterday we had our first proper class, and I decided to run it as an independent study session to allow students to familiarize themselves with some useful online tools. There were 35 2nd-year non-English majors in the class, and their English ability and familiarity with computers varied wildly. You can see my lesson briefing on my teaching blog here.

The lesson was partly successful, but I can see how to make it better and was very excited by the potential of using a blog or website to communicate with students. Here are my major impressions of the class:

  1. I tried to do far too much. None of the students had enough time to finish, and that was very harmful to the classroom atmosphere and their feelings towards the course. This is the #1 thing I would change about the lesson
  2. Only a couple of students asked questions/for help. Need to spend more time getting the class comfortable with calling me over to help with problems
  3. Unforeseen technical problems reared their ugly heads: the NY Times website does not allow popjisyo to load individual articles (something I only noticed when a student pointed it out) and the edublogs comment feature is a bit too aggressive in its attempts to deter spambots. Both of these caused a lot of frustration to my students
Basically I ruined this first class through inexperience and lack of preparation. It’s going to take a while to regain the students’ trust and get them comfortable again. This really shows how important it is to go through everything thoroughly before the class and make sure there are no technical surprises.
Still, for a first time using a new medium, it could have been worse. I’m looking forward to the next class already!


Another (great) video: Caine’s Arcade

This blog appears to have become some kind of knock-off Youtube channel. Fear not: I’ll have some more original content for you soon.

In the meantime, check out this video about a nine year-old boy who will probably end up being the next Bill Gates 🙂

The future of online language learning and translation

This video is really interesting and a little scary. I’m going to have to start polishing my resume.


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