Steve, Jill and Mark Discuss LingQ

Study the transcript of this episode as a lesson on LingQ, saving the words and phrases you don’t know to your database. Here it is!

In this episode, Steve, Jill and Mark talk about LingQ leading up to its impending launch.

Steve: Hello, this is Steve here and sitting with me are …

Jill: Jill.

Mark: And Mark.

Steve: I would like to sort of pretend that I’m a newspaper reporter here and I want to ask you about how you are managing to get the new LingQ system up and running. And, of course we have two different perspectives.

One is the perspective of Mark who is sort of the overall you know, Brigadier General who’s trying to make this thing work, who’s designed it, who’s working with the programmer who’s talking to Jill about customer issues and I think not everything goes according to plan always.

So, let me start by asking Mark to talk a little bit about what it’s been like for him trying to get this thing put together. Then I’m going to ask Jill about some of the reactions that we’ve had from some of our users and customers.

So, Mark what has been the most difficult thing in trying to get LingQ up and available for our users?

Mark: I don’t know if I can identify the most difficult thing.

You mentioned um, making sure or getting the system built the way I want it built or we want it built. That’s obviously a big part. And, but at the same time we’re converting our existing Linguist members over to LingQ and that all, there’s a variety of factors involved there and Jill, who’ll be more involved in that aspect of it as well, but there’s quite a few things that have to fall into place for us to be able to meet that August 1st deadline which we’ve set for ourselves because quite frankly, we’ve been at this quite a while and it’s time.

it’s a matter of sort of combining the need to get things built as we want them built, the need to get members transferred over and everything that has to happen in terms of ensuring a smooth transition into place and of course doing both these things by the time line that we’ve set which is a launch of August 1st. So that combination is what probably the answer is.

Steve: Have you had to scale down some of your specifications, some of the functions that you wanted in LingQ in order to meet the deadline? Do you kind of, sort of try and simply down to a bare minimum at least to get it up?

Mark: I mean, absolutely, and I think we’ve been trying to do that you know for months now and it’s not always that easy.

But, I guess it was Mike, our lead developer who put us onto a book called, I can’t remember what the book was called actually but it was by the people at 37Signals and they’re basically a book talking about how to get software built efficiently and in a reasonable time frame. And, one of the things they say is get a deadline and shed features to make that deadline so you get something up and then continue to refine after the fact because it’s, as a web product you can continually refine it after you launch so there’s no real reason to wait until you have everything perfect before launching.

So, I know there’s a lot of people out there that are asking for this and asking for that and there will be people who come over from the Linguist asking or wondering why don’t you have this, that you had it on the Linguist, you don’t have it on LingQ and a lot of those things we plan on having but they’ve had to be put aside in order to meet our deadline. So, just be patient and I’m sure what’s there you’ll enjoy.

Steve: Now, we have a number of our learners have been transferred over to LingQ for some of their activities and I know Jill you’ve been talking to some of them. What has been the reaction? What have been some of the issues of problems or the reactions that you’ve had from our users?

Jill: I think that most of the reactions have been positive. A lot of people haven’t even tried it because they’re familiar with the Linguist so they have sort of stuck with the Linguist and will continue to do so until they’re forced to switch to LingQ but there have been some people who have, who started using LingQ and basically quit using the Linguist right away because they like it so much and even up until just, I guess Monday or maybe last week we didn’t even have speaking built into LingQ yet or the Write section is still not ready so these people have only really had access to certain features and they still use it all the time. And, I mean they’ve used the Speak and the Write section in the Linguist because they’ve had to but they use everything else in LingQ.

And, a lot of people are actually choosing not to have their Linguist data transferred over. Even long time members who have thousands of words in their accounts and a lot of data that they’ve worked hard to get and they’re choosing not to have it transferred over because they want to keep their LingQ data. And, I was actually kind of surprised by how many long time Linguist members have chosen to do that.

Steve: And, the members of course, we have a transition planned. I think the idea is that when we formally switch over people have a choice of maintaining their, or having their Linguist data transferred over or else, in which case they would lose their LingQ data or else they keep their LingQ data.

Mark: I just, I just wanted to mention that right now we’re talking about data transfer.

We’re only talking about words and phrases, saved words and phrases and imported content. We have not yet looked into transferring over the other data but there is a chance we’ll be able to extract other data like writing samples, like more statistics but there is not guarantee and that is unlikely before the transfer or the August 1st switch over but it may happen in the future. So, for those of you who are wondering about your data we may be able to get more of it transferred over in the future.

Jill: I would just like to add, because a couple of people have written to me asking whether their writing will be transferred over and as Mark said, we’re going to try but it may not happen so if anybody’s wondering they should save the writing in a word processing program like Word so they’ll always have it. Steve: What happens to imported content?

Mark: Well, as I just said, that imported content and saved words and phrases are the two things that we will transfer over on August 1st.

Steve: Now this has been a long struggle. What have been some of the biggest difficulties in terms of, I mean I know a little earlier we heard that there were some functions that worked in one browser and didn’t work in another browser.

It just seems like there are so many variables and uncertainties. Is this a new experience for you?

Mark: Yeah, I mean when we developed the Linguist site, probably Fire Fox was not as popular. Certainly everybody here was using Internet Explorer to develop on and so we tended to have problems with Fire Fox and not with Internet Explorer. But, for whatever reason we seem to all be on Fire Fox, especially of course Mike who’s doing most of the programming so that now we have had problems with making it work in Internet Explorer and almost not realizing, whoops, we forget to check that, which maybe I shouldn’t be telling everything but, you know.

My understanding is Internet Explorer is not necessarily that easy to work with so, but since 65%-70% of web users use Internet Explorer obviously it’s got to work for Internet Explorer. Yeah, that’s been our challenge. I wouldn’t say an overwhelming challenge but it has been a challenge.

Steve: Now, of course if we talk about Internet Explorer and Fire Fox and we’re talking about all these computer terms how many of our learners are actually not very familiar with the computer, maybe don’t even know that there’s another web browser? I mean you talk to them. Do you get a lot of people who are sort of neophytes who are not at all familiar with the computer or are most of our learners very familiar with the computer?

Jill: There are some people who aren’t familiar at all and for sure have never heard of Fire Fox but there are some who are already using Fire Fox and, or if they’re not, if you tell them to download it they’re happy to do it. It’s a free download. It’s very easy and it really does work a lot better than Internet Explorer. And, you know me, I don’t like change and so, I always used Internet Explorer and I really resisted using Fire Fox for whatever reason and I would not go back now.

But, I think a lot of people don’t know about Fire Fox because just with our tutors we were having some issues in our, in LingQ with Internet Explorer, for them to be able to post discussions and so I told, I suggested that they all get Fire Fox and almost every one of them wrote back saying they’d never heard of Fire Fox and would it interfere with Internet Explorer and this and that. And, I explained that no, you can actually have both browsers. I have both on my computer and I still use Internet Explorer sometimes, mostly to check out site but, so I think a lot of people are not familiar with it.

Mark: I don’t know, absolutely I think that’s the case. Statistics tell us that 65%-70% at least Internet Explorer.

The percentage of Fire Fox users has been growing steadily. And, what I’m definitely am starting to see on the Internet, in my opinion, that many sites seem to work better in Fire Fox because I think computer people, developers use Fire Fox and so they end up making it work for Fire Fox and then having to tweak it to get it to work for Internet Explorer so that very often things seem to appear better in Fire Fox to me. That’s just an observation.

Steve: Well at the risk of making this seem like an ad for Fire Fox, I must say that I have gone to Fire Fox and have never looked back and my computer seems to crash less often and I just couldn’t be happier. But, I’m sure there are people who are very happy with Internet Explorer.

But anyway, that’s been an interesting little discussion about LingQ and I think we can perhaps have some more.

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