The Technology Conundrum

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I used to say that a bad day on the computer is better than a good day at work, but that was before I depended on a computer to eat. Okay, not like eat, but to put food on the table. If you don’t have the right tools, then you can’t do the job.

Now for the record, I am not what you would all a computer geek as I once was, but neither am I a newbie (the use of those two terms may date me, I know) but I know enough to realize that, as my father used to say, “You can’t make pork out of pig (fill in the blank this is a family blog).” The key to working from home is productivity, when you ain’t producing, you ain’t eating. Now that I actually have work trickling in, I need to up my game, as they say. Okay, pigs aren’t really game, but I think you get the idea. Now, where was I?

In the last week, I have realized it is time to upgrade from (as my friend and technology adviser Mike suggested) an Edsel to at least a Yugo. Unfortunately that is easier said than done, and where the technology conundrum enters the picture. You see, beginning way back to the time of the Edsel, the automotive industry began what they called “Planned Obsolescence”, basically they would design a model with the intention of making it obsolete in a few years so the owner would want to upgrade. The computer industry does the same thing, which leads to the trials and tribulations I went through today.

First, my financial consultant, Buttons the Wonder Dog, and I decided it really was in the best interest to upgrade our technology. We began searching for what we needed and that would fit into our very tight budget. There is only one thing harder than searching for new technology using old technology, and that is actually trying to buy it. I admit, the equipment I have been using is somewhat dated, in fact, during my search I learned that you don’t need a 3 1/2 inch floppy drive any more. But even with the inconvenience of having to really, really, bang on the C, V, and Q keys to get them to work, it really isn’t that bad. You would be surprised how many words with those letters in them may be substituted with others. After a long and tedious search process, I finally found one that would suit my needs and more importantly my budget. ¬†Little did I realize that the search was going to be the easy part.

My technology adviser advised me on the one to buy and all I had to do was order it. In fact, using my PayPal account, I could order it with just one click. Fat chance. You see, when your computer is slow it takes a really long time to get anything in done. In act, I tried to place the order three times and each time the website timed me out with a message “This is taking longer than expected, please try again.” And that was it, back to the beginning.

I thought in this case the fourth time would be the charm because I figured out a plan. The main problem was the fact that it would take me so long to type in my information because of my defective keyboard. Never one to give up, I put everything into a Word file and all I had to do was cut and paste. I made sure everything was correctly typed, and I was ready. Everything went as planned until I was ready to submit my order to PayPal. Here comes another message, “We’re sorry but you don’t have enough money in your account or this transaction.” It seems I didn’t order one computer, I was up to four. ¬†Every time I was bumped off, my order increased by one. This was my fourth time at the site, so I had four computers.

I guess I can get used to using my old equipment, after all, I’ll have time to catch up on the Maury and Springer shows. Just forgive the missing letters.

 

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Out of the Frying Pan

and into the fire.

Of course I am talking about my recent decision to enter the “Work From Home” movement. Okay, it really wasn’t 100% my choice, but since the options for this old dog seem to be somewhat limited, I am actively pursuing this option, at least until the unemployment runs out. It is something I have always wanted to do, so now is as good of a time as ever. And what can be better than to make money at home anyways?

This means I will be periodically be updating this blog with things I have learned about the working from home process. I know, I know, for the three of you who actually read this blog, periodically isn’t very periodic, but I am working it into my writing schedule. This is the first thing I learned the last time I was unemployed, you need to follow a set schedule. It is all about time management.

Let’s call this the first Working from Home Tip

Tip Number 1: Have a schedule and stick to it

When you work from home, there are some advantages, and some disadvantages. One of the advantages, especially for someone like me who is really a hermit at heart, is you hardly ever need to leave the house. This comes with some inherent problems however. The main one is you hardly ever need to leave the house. It isn’t like you need to get dressed, get in the car and drive somewhere. My morning routine now consists of rolling out of bed at 8:00 AM (much better than 2:45 AM when I was working in the real world), walking into the other room, having a cup of coffee and … starting my daily routine.

The last time I tried this, I didn’t have a schedule so my routine was more like, roll out of bed whenever, have two, three, four, cups of coffee, log onto the computer, read my email, go on Facebook and read all kinds of posts, never missing a link to follow, and before I knew it, it was time for lunch and my nap. Not very productive.

Even now, I look around and there are plenty of chores that need doing, and if you don’t discipline yourself to work at your business, you can easily fall into the trap of doing those chores instead of doing the things needing to be done for your business. Fortunately in my case, housework has never been my passion or a strong suit, although I do work time for it in my schedule. Why? That will be another tip down the road: Keep those who live with you happy and avoid misery.

My typical day goes something like this:

  • 8:00 AM – 8:30 AM – Get out of bed, have coffee and breakfast, watch the news and read emails. I look at this time as my commute to the office, it is just really short and uses no gas.
  • 8:30 AM – 10:30 AM – Respond to emails, search for work on various freelancing sites, like Elance, Guru and Odesk. This includes finding suitable jobs and sending out proposals for them.
  • 10:30 AM – ? – As soon as I am done sending out proposals, I jump right into working on any projects I have for paying customers. If I have none, I will work on some ongoing writing projects (like blogging or articles I hope to sell). This is also a good way of marketing myself and building a portfolio.
  • 3:00 PM – I normally stop working for awhile as the better half gets home. We have dinner (and yes, sometimes I even cook, love my Crock-Pot
    ) and spend time together. After she goes to bed, I will either continue working on a project if there is a deadline, or I may read, either books on writing, editing or anything that catches my eye. After all the more reading you do, the better writer you will become, or so I am told.

I follow this schedule on the days the better half works, when she is home, I try not to work as much, unless there is something really pressing. I still check my email and put out proposals, but other than that, I am all hers.

So far I have found this to be rather a good plan, at least for the last three weeks. I had a few unanticipated things thrown in there, but I still have been accomplishing much more than last time. Now, if I could only spend more time on paying jobs and less on the other things…

I hope you enjoyed this post and tip. Please feel free to comment on it and send it to your friends. And as always, if you would like to help me out, you can purchase something from Amazon by using this link:

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Around the Dog Grapevine

Courtesy Unsplash.com

As I mentioned in my last post, I have had plenty of time lately to contemplate the mysteries of life, the universe and other important things. If you recall, last time I was wondering about what dogs think. This led to a somewhat logical next step, that being, what do dogs talk about? Now, I don’t mean with their owners, that is obvious to anyone who has spent any significant time with a dog, but rather, when they talk to each other.

I live on a lake, and this time of year, before the ice is thick enough to be on, it can get pretty quiet and peaceful. After awhile you hardly even hear the gentle roar of the interstate. The other day, I began to notice my dog reacts differently to the other dogs that bark around the lake, making me think that each dog is talking about something in particular. (Note: This also happens the rest of the year, but because of the lack of leaves, sounds tend to be more distinct and can be heard over longer distances.) Hear (pun intended) are some examples:

  • There is a dog somewhere across the lake who barks, not consistently, but every once in awhile. Sometimes Buttons, my dog, will hear it, perk up his ears, and let out a little “woof”, maybe two or three, then go back to whatever he was doing (usually sleeping). Other times, the same dog will bark and Buttons jumps up and has to go outside, run to the shore of the lake and bark, rather fast and loudly in answer to this other dog. What are they talking about? I can only assume that the first time, the other dog is just saying hello, and the second time he is sending some kind of warning.
  • The dog in the house behind us, also has two separate barks to which Buttons reacts differently. Pretty much in the same way as the first one mentioned. Although with this one, Buttons runs to the back of the yard and actually patrols the perimeter. Again, I think this is some kind of warning.
  • There is a third dog we only hear occasionally. I believe this is due to the humans it belongs to only are here occasionally. This dog, with a very loud and deep bark, doesn’t bark much, but when it does, it seems it is only for one of two reasons. The first is to let the other dogs know it is here (since this is out of Buttons’ territory, he just lets out his little “woof”, which I think is kind of like a F you and ignores it. The second bark, I believe is in direct response to the fourth and final dog in the neighborhood.
  • The fourth dog, actually two dogs, one male, one female, live in the next house over from me. I don’t know much about different breeds of dogs, other than these two are way outside of my budget and you are unlikely to find them where we found Buttons, at a rescue shelter. Both dogs have remarkably similar barks, however I can distinguish the two, based upon Buttons’ reaction. One, I assume the male, will bark and Buttons will go outside, to that side of the yard and respond. I assume this is some kind of warning that maybe there is an errant squirrel crossing the line. Both of these dogs are not allowed off their runs so, unlike Buttons, can not continue the chase very far. It is my assumption this dog is asking for some help, and Buttons will usually take off into the woods. The female however, is a different story. When this one barks, which is every time it is outside, while it sounds like the other, I can tell it is the female, again by the way that Buttons reacts. At first bark Buttons will perk up his ears, like with every bark he hears, but with the female, he kind of rolls his eyes, lets out a little snort and goes back to assuming the sleeping position. This tells me, as does the way the other dogs around the lake react, that she is talking nonsense, perhaps spreading gossip, or more likely complaining about the her partner is some way. If only the other dogs could be like Buttons and ignore her instead of arguing.

Admittedly, this is an unscientifical, study, just based on my observations. By the way, the word unscientifical, while not officially recognized by any known dictionary, comes from another interesting cultural phenomenon I have been studying, the day time talk shows like Maury, Jerry Springer, et. al.

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