Tuesday, August 25, 2015

User Testing Review

Hey guys, I know I've been quiet lately. I'm still passionate about Tillikum, and I'm working on a really detailed account of our bone marrow transplant experience, but I haven't published any posts lately. I decided to take a moment this morning and focus on another topic. I'm going to tell you about User Testing.

A little while back I had written a short post telling you guys that I might have finally found some ways to make extra money online that were more consistent. One of those ways that I hoped would work out was from a site called User Testing, where participants record a short session testing out a website. I have worked with the site for a little while now, and I'm ready to give you my evaluation. I was not asked by this site to post a review. I'm not even sure if the company is aware that I write a blog. I am choosing to share my personal experience so that other parents (or other individuals) who need some work from home can decide if they want to try it.

How it works:

When you sign up for User Testing, you will be given some instruction, asked to download some software on your computer, and then you will complete a practice test. When they review your practice test, if you followed directions and completed the test in the manner they need, you'll be immediately able to complete paid tests. 

The information you'll receive will tell you that they pay $10 per test, but you'll find out that there are also $3 tests available on your mobile device that take less time. You'll know ahead of time if you're completing a $3 or $10 test, and you can decline any test you do not want to complete.

The Good:

The good thing is that it's extremely easy. All you do is read the questions out loud and say what you're thinking out loud during the test. For each website you test you'll be given tasks. If it's the website of a brick and mortar business, you might be asked to find opening and closing times, and what holidays the store is closed. As you scroll through the site, it's recording everything you say and do, so you just say the answers out loud. It's also important to say what you're thinking as you navigate. You might say, "I'm having trouble finding where the about us section is." All of this information helps website developers make a better quality site for future users.

Another good thing is that they pay you exactly what they say they will pay you when they say they are going to pay you. Once you complete a test, your payment will show up in the "payment pending" section at the top of the site. It does take a week to release payment, but you can be assured that once that week has passed, the money will be released to you via paypal. 

The Not As Good:

I didn't want to say "bad", because I don't think there's anything necessarily bad about this site. There is no deception of what the purpose of the site is and how you will be compensated. You have a clear understanding from the beginning.

So the not as good is that you review sites as they become available to review. Other participants can grab up the opportunity to complete these tests so they become unavailable again really fast. For each test that becomes available, you must take a "screener" (answer a few questions) to see if you qualify to complete the test. There are many, many times that I catch one available and I don't qualify. You literally have to have your dashboard pulled up and jump on any test as it becomes available. You will receive an email as well that there is a test available, but you can still miss it if you don't check your email in time.

The other not as good for me is that you need quiet to be able to complete these tests. The only reason that's a not as good for me is that my kids have both been home all summer all day rarely giving me a chance to try to complete a test. When they are gone on the weekends with their dad I try to catch some, but then again I'm often busy at those times as well. I don't always have time to leave my dashboard open and try to catch the opportunity to test. Now Essie is back in school, but Anna won't go back until the second semester. Perhaps then I can catch more opportunities.

Final Thoughts:

This is a legitimate site where participants can make extra money online. I would recommend it to anyone who understands what they are getting into as described above. It is not a way to make consistent extra cash for me, but I still appreciate a sporadic earning here and there. That said, I appreciate this site and will continue to use it.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Three Lies Sea World Has Told You

Sea World wants you to visit their parks. They want to make money off of you. In an effort to get you to buy tickets, they'll tell you anything you want to hear. They lie and cover up important facts. A lot. Every single day they put people and animals in real danger. Here is a list of three lies Sea World has told you (and had to later retract) to deceive you and get your money.

Lie #1 Whales live longer in captivity.
Because Sea World knows that people care about the whales and what it might mean for them to live in captivity, they instruct their employees to lie to guests. Employees tell guests that whales live longer in captivity because of the veterinary care that they receive. Need proof that they lied? Watch Blackfish. One such instance of a Sea World employee is caught on video doing just this. Since the release of Blackfish you may have noticed that the new commercial from Sea World states that whales live "just as long" in captivity as they do in the wild. So they have changed their story a little bit. 

Truth: Whales live longer, fuller, happier lives in the wild where they belong. 

Supporting evidence is found in this study:  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mms.12225/abstract

(Thanks to thedodo.com for this link.)

Lie #2 "We do not separate killer whale moms and calves". 
When you hear the first hand story of ex-employees who have had to watch whale moms endure the agony of losing their babies, it will break your heart. They cry and grieve. One whale mom, Kastaka was emitting vocalizations that had never been heard by anyone. Upon analysis, she was calling out for her baby Takara with long range vocals. 

Truth: Sea World had to back peddle again, later stating that they do move the babies but only to maintain a healthy structure. WHAT?! These whales are created by God to stay together forever. Calves in the wild never leave their mothers. What could be more healthy than letting them do what they are created to do? Furthermore, ex-employees report that some calves were taken while they were still nursing. 

Supporting evidence: Hear and read John Hargrove's story. He was a trainer that worked with these whales for 14 years at Sea World. After he discovered what he was a part of, he could not take it anymore. He's not the only one either. You can hear many ex employees stories when you watch Blackfish.

Lie #3 Sea World trainers do not now, nor have they ever entered the water with Tilikum to breed him.
Tommy Lee, the musician from Motley Crue, spoke out against Sea World's breeding practices and wrote a letter emploring them to stop putting humans in the water with Tilikum to breed him. He asked how many more tragic deaths like Dawn Brancheau's would need to occur before something was done. Sea World's response came over E! News, stating that the trainers do not now nor have they ever entered the water with Tilikum for this purpose. 

Read about the letter and response here and here. (You can Google it and find many sites with the info.)

Truth: The loophole word might be "entered" because trainers do get right beside the pool and handle Tilikum to breed him. How else are they going to do it? In Blackfish, it's on video. I don't understand why they keep lying about stuff that's caught on video! You can see three trainers right by the water. Two are masturbating him and the other is collecting his sperm in a bag. Maybe their loophole is that they are not technically "in" the water. But trust me, those trainers are close enough to be snagged in by Tilikum if he got frustrated (like he snagged Dawn Brancheau in). They're masturbating him for goodness sakes! Those trainers are in danger. 

Supporting evidence: https://theorcaproject.wordpress.com/2010/12/09/how-does-seaworld-masturbate-their-stud-killer-whales-rocker-tommy-lee-says-%E2%80%9Ccow-vaginas%E2%80%9D-and-he-is-almost-right/

That's just three lies, folks! Once you absorb that, come back soon for three more lies:

1. Sea World states they didn't know that their trainers were ever in danger. 

2. Sea World claims first that Dawn Brancheau slipped, then changes the story and says that she was at fault because Tilikum thought her ponytail was a toy, then finally admits he dragged her in by her arm.

3. Collapsed Dorsal Fins are normal. 

We'll explore these in the next post. Let me point out that if your boyfriend/girlfriend got caught in this many lies, you would probably break up with them, right? If they kept changing their story about something you would not believe them, right? It's time to break up with Sea World. Back peddling and telling the truth only after they have no other choice is no kind of relationship. Sea World does not care about these animals, they are out to get your money. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

How Tilikum Was Probably Captured

Have you ever seen Blackfish, the documentary about killer whales in captivity? You should. I had never been an animal activist or formed any opinion on whether or not animals should live in captivity. I visited zoos and even saw the Shamu show at Sea World many years ago. After seeing this documentary, that has changed. I cannot support Sea World any longer, and will never pay to visit that park again. The "hulabaloo" from Blackfish has seemed to calm lately, but I don't want people to forget about it. 

One - and trust me, just one- of the heartbreaking stories brought to light in Blackfish is how these beautiful animals are (or were) captured in the wild. Sea World now has a commercial out stating that they haven't captured whales from the wild in 35 years, but that doesn't soften the blow for me. I'll tell you why, but first I'll tell you how these whales were captured and why it breaks my heart.

In Blackfish, a former diver and other experts explain how this process was done. Whales were captured from the same area each time, mind you, so after the first time, they KNEW what was happening. They aren't just dumb animals. How could they be? You can train them to do tricks. Knowing that their babies would be taken, the whales would try and form a decoy. The adult whales would swim in one direction attracting the attention of the boats, while the mothers and their babies would swim in another direction. The sad thing is, a plane would fly overhead waiting for them to come up for air. When spotted, the plane told the boats where to go. A net was set, and all the whales in the pod, mothers and babies, were trapped. They would then extract the babies, while the helpless mothers cried, and sometimes died

See, whale calves stay with their mothers even after adulthood. They never separate in the wild. Never. So these mothers had to watch their babies being taken away. The diver in the documentary describes a sick feeling in his stomach. When he had been told he would capture Orcas he had felt exited. When he saw what that really meant he was sad and devastated. He was kidnapping. Not only that, the adult whales would get caught in the nets and tangled, or sometimes struck by a boat propeller, and die. For the one instance described by the diver in Blackfish, three whales had died during his excursion. The boss man told them to cut open the dead whales, load them up with rocks, and let them sink to the bottom. Yeah. 

Tilikum, the killer whale at Sea World in Florida known to lunge at his trainers and responsible for three human deaths, was captured in the wild at age two. This is most likely the way his capture was carried out. It only begins the horror story that has been Tilikum's life. After the backlash of Blackfish, Sea World began to strike back and say that the documentary wasn't true. The newest commercial has two employees telling us how they love the whales and they know we love them too. That's after they assure us that they no longer capture whales from the wild and haven't for 35 years. Why doesn't this soothe me? Two reasons. One is they use Tilikum's sperm to breed new calves. Tilikum, a known aggressive animal that has killed humans. What if it's in his DNA to be aggressive toward humans? Two, they still separate the calves from their mothers, something never done in the wild. 

While watching Blackfish, I cried hearing about the separation of mother and calf. God created these animals to stay together always. When the former employees describe the reactions of the mothers when the calves are stripped away, I can't take it. In one case, the mother stayed in the corner all night long, crying inconsolably. The other female whales tried to check on her, and she wouldn't budge. In another description, an expert was brought in to find out what new sounds the mother was making. She was using sound signals to try to call for and find her baby. I am a mother. This hurts my heart. 

I can't tolerate it, Sea World. Your commercials don't fool me. Whales do not belong in captivity, and Tilikum is only one story, not an isolated one as you would like us to believe. There are many, many stories of killer whales attacking, harming, and killing their trainers or other humans. I am going to tell them all. One at a time. If I can change one mind about Sea World, I'll be happy. If we can one day stop the Shamu Show, I'll be overjoyed. Help me get the word out. I recommend that we do not support Sea World by going to their parks.

Thoughts? Your comments are welcome.