Bloated Self Importance on Video

Each time I see someone with a video post I think of all the people who can’t or won’t be watching it.

Video posts are for people with money to burn. In the US the Internet is cheaper. In places like Canada, Europe and the rest of the world, the story is different. I pay almost $100 per month for the Internet, that’s before adding in the cost of my landline phone. I used to have cable TV but paying $180 a month for all three services was too much. Plus, the prices were going up another $5 for Internet and TV the next month.

A very big part of the cost for the Internet is bandwidth. How much you use, not in time but in load. How bloated are the files you are loading onto your computer from the Internet? Have you thought about it?

Uploading is about the files you put from your computer onto the Internet.

Downloading are the files you bring from the Internet onto your computer. Downloading used to be about software you get from the Internet, mostly. Now it is about looking at websites, software, advertising and everything else you view while you are online.

Did you know you pay to watch ads online?

Each ad you see is costing you bandwidth.

A plain text ad costs you almost nothing, not enough that you could even notice it. An ad with an image costs a bit more, especially if the image moves or lights up or does anything other than just be an ordinary image. A larger image costs more, of course. But, ads at this point cost so little bandwidth you would not notice them unless you visit a lot of sites with a lot of ads all the time.

When you get up the food chain to ads which use scripts and then video… you’re paying enough to notice the bandwidth each month.

I use add-ons to turn some of the bandwidth sucking advertising off. It is not 100% but it helps. It helps keep my Internet bill from being even higher each month.

I have to pay for bandwidth each month. I used to have the light Internet account, paying about $50 each month. That was enough to pay. Over 12 months I’d be paying $600, plus tax (which is also higher in most of Canada than the US). What could you do with an extra $600 in your pocket each year?

Anyway, to help make the Internet affordable again I had the cable TV turned off and I began doing what I can to shut down all video posts and ads. Using the web browser add-on will only go so far. The other thing I have done is to not watch video posts.

Seems a simple thing to just choose to not watch video. But, it’s not.

Video posts come up all the time.

When I want to find a tutorial for using a WordPress theme or plugin… it’s in a video post. Annoying when this happens, especially when I have paid for the theme or plugin and now have to pay to use it (or at least to understand how to use it).

Network sites I write for want video added to the posts I write. This means going to YouTube to find second hand content which I have to watch in order to make sure it is relevant and will add some information or resources to my own original post for the site. This annoys me because I have just written original content and now I have to link to someone else, giving them my bandwidth, my time and space in the post I worked on. Aggravating all the way around and this is where most of my extra expense comes from each month on my Internet bill.

Even with protection from browser add-ons I still get caught with video advertisements. There are still more of them out there which have found a way to get around the blocks I have set up.

I think people who post videos (without giving a text alternative) are arrogant or just thoughtless.

It is thoughtless and careless to assume everyone else around the world is just like you. It is arrogant to post videos just to make yourself seem important.

The one time I think a video post is a good and sensible thing is for a tutorial – where it will help people to see what is being done and how it is done. Any other video posts are just people showing the world how important they are. It should be more important to make sure you are communicating with your audience, in a way which suits them best, rather than catering to your own self importance.

Starting with a Burnt Phoenix

This is a bare bones blog theme. You are not having a computer glitch.

I want to enjoy blogging again so I am creating this blog from the start. Not that I want to reinvent the wheel – I’m starting with WordPress and working my way up from there. I have used other blog software, including Blogger, but WordPress has the most support these days so if I hit a snag or want to do something unique, chances are I can find help when/ if I break something.

I’ve been blogging (web publishing) a long time and I have several sites in various stages of activity. This domain is going to be one I keep to myself (mostly) as I get back to basics and make blogging fun (for me) again.

You are welcome here. Leave your own thoughts about blogging. Negative stuff I don’t want to read (or post) will be moderated.

It’s Not a Gift if I Have to Pay for It

As much as I like AVG (have used it for years) this kind of annoyed me this morning. It came as a pop up window when I turned the computer on. I don’t mind the pop up so much, because it is from them. I really don’t like the new marketing idea being pushed – that a coupon is a gift. A coupon is a sales tactic, it’s not a gift. A gift is something freely given.

You may argue the coupon was freely given and yes, it was. However the product is not being offered as a gift. It clearly reads “Get your gift now”. I’ve already got the coupon so what is the gift?

In this case the gift is AVG because they do have a freeware version which I rely on and am very happy with. If I were making more money than I’m paying out for the Internet and my writing and publishing, then I would consider supporting AVG and buying their premium version. However, that isn’t practical right now.

Anyway, what do you think when you see coupons offered as free gifts?

How to Stop Typing the Blue Alt Characters on your Keyboard

Now and then my fingers stray around on the computer keyboard and I end up clicking a few wrong buttons in a row. Most often this just gives me typos – but, now and then I get my keyboard messed up. It types the wrong characters. I can’t type things like @ or ? and other stuff comes up instead. I’m typing the characters which show up in blue on my keyboard, alternate characters, instead.

This is not something which needs to drive you crazy. The fix is simple!

press hold left ctrl+shift and tap right shift key

via How do I turn off the alternate BLUE keys on my HP keyboard – HP Support Forum – 1426059.

This works! I don’t remember how I fixed the blue character keyboard problem the last two times I’ve had it happen. But, it was something simple like this. It did not involve changing the keyboard language – but that is the tech support advice which comes up most when you search for help.

I am adding this here hoping it will help someone else. Maybe even me the next time it happens.

Simple Keyboard Shortcuts Everyone Using a Computer Should Know

I thought I should write about keyboard shortcuts. I’m surprised people don’t know them. Even simple things like using your keyboard for cut and paste functions.

Your computer mouse will work for most things you can do with the keyboard. Maybe the keyboard shortcuts will never be anything but extra knowledge or a backup plan for you… but, maybe knowing a simple keyboard shortcut will turn out to be a great thing.

Browser shortcuts save you time while you are looking at websites. Using the shortcuts on your keyboard can be simpler than right clicking the mouse, you don’t need to be as precise. Also, on sites which disable right clicks you can still use the keyboard shortcut to open new links or copy text.

These are the shortcuts I use most often. (Don’t type in the first ‘+’ it just means ‘and’ in this case).

shortcuts

Browser Shortcuts: Resources

I’m Laura Brown and This Is How I Work

how i workI picked this up from Bianca Woods at e-Geeking.

David Kelly (@LnDDave) recently did his own fascinating version of the Lifehacker feature “How I Work” and challenged the rest of us in the industry to do the same.

I’m Laura Brown and This Is How I Work

Location

Barrie, Ontario, Canada (The bottom of Northern Ontario).

Current Gig

Self Employed/ freelancing.

Current mobile device

An HP mini laptop which seems to have MS Windows exploding out of it’s little computer brain. I’m going to change it to Linux.

Current computer

HP Desktop (I still love the desktop!) h8 1211 with Windows 7. Will not allow Linux or any other change to the OS. I was really annoyed when I found this out after buying the PC and telling the staff at the store that I wanted a computer I could run on Linux. This proves they don’t know anything you can’t read on the computer box. Don’t trust any advice you get from sales staff.

One word that best describes how you work

Cluttered.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

My little HP scanner, even though I have not used it much lately. I love that it sits on my desk and has been reliable for more than ten years now. No problem with changing to new PCs or changing from Windows to Linux and back again.

What’s your workspace like?

Cluttered. Too cluttered to photograph and display for the world to see.

What’s your best time-saving trick?

Procrastination. The things you procrastinate on should be reconsidered. If you can put it off maybe it just isn’t that important after all. I save time and energy by letting things fall off the to-do list in my head. It’s not very proactive, but it does keep me from putting time into things I can do without.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?

I don’t manage to-do lists. I write one out, long hand and keep it until I’ve got most or all it done. Then I don’t have a list until the next time I write a list.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?

I can live without my phone. I don’t have a smart/ super or mobile phone of any kind. I do especially like my camera, I even have two of them. One Canon which fits in my purse and one FujiFilm for urban and rural exploration photography, when the extra zoom is a really good thing.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?

Nothing. There are far too many people in the world to assume something like that.

What do you listen to while you work?

Silence usually. I put the TV on but don’t really watch it and sometimes hours go by and I haven’t noticed that I forgot to turn it on – even for the soap opera I like to take a break to watch in the afternoon.

Are you more of an introvert or extrovert?

Introvert but I can forget myself and become involved enough to seem extroverted. Eventually though I have just had enough of being social.

What’s your sleep routine like?

Poor.

Fill in the blank. I’d love to see ______ answer these same questions.

Can’t think of anyone. Most people I see day to day are not online this much.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Get to bed, Laura.

What Can Writers Offer as a Live Performance?

There are few options for writers, artists and musicians when it comes to protecting your work in the days of the computer and Internet. It seems there is not much to be done once you fire off the initial legal mouth piece paperwork. Then sit back and wish you could hire someone to really do something.

All that work and in the end it can’t pay the bills, created for art, not money.

I was thinking about that this afternoon. I came to the conclusion that musicians have the best chance at still making money from their art. Musicians have live performances which they can sell tickets to and collect a profit. They can use the event to sell music too. Not to mention the gadgets and accessories like T-shirts which they make something on from the work of others.

What can writers and artists do as a live performance? I can’t think of anything really useful or reliable as a way to make money from your art in the modern world. Yes, writers can read their poetry or fiction and hope to sell a few books. Live readings don’t make the money a live music performance can, no T-shirts either.

I’ve seen artists as street painters – temporary work which people watch and may chip in a dollar or other spare change while they stand around and watch the artist at work. No rent money on that plan.

So, what can writers and artists offer as a live performance with the plan of making money from their work without the problem of having their work ripped off and sold by someone else?

How to Turn Your Room into a Home Office

After getting divorced (after having moved to another country and then back home as well) I have a truckload of belongings and one room to my name. Clutter and chaos and a massive lack of storage space meant I had to part with a lot of things. I was able to store some away in the basement of the house I live in. However, that still leaves me living in a house where I only have the bedroom to use as my own space.

It’s not easy finding space for a home office and a home business. Often people aren’t running a business, but they have their computer and like to have a set up where it is easy to use all their electronic gadgets – like a digital camera, a printer, a scanner, possibly a fax and your recharger for the mobile phone too. That’s a lot of stuff to fit onto a computer desk. But, it can be set up in a corner if you don’t have a lot of clutter.

Treat Yourself to a Decent Computer Desk and Chair

I bought myself a computer desk. It has a shelf on top for the monitor and a shelf at foot level for the computer tower. I keep all the cables running down the backside and once in a while I give them a dusting off. The desk level is where I keep the computer mouse and the mousepad. (You should have a mousepad if you don’t already – they keep your mouse cleaner underneath).

I am currently sitting on the second of my computer chairs. The first wasn’t as comfortable as I thought it was going to be. Make sure you sit in any chair before you buy it. I also put felt furniture pads on the bottom of the chair legs to keep them from marking the floor or making noise when I pull the chair in and out. If a chair isn’t working out a week after you buy it, the store should let you exchange it for another.

It is a good idea to have a footstool as well. This lets you elevate your feet and will help your posture if you are going to be sitting in one place for a while.

Busting your Home Office Clutter

I don’t find it so uncluttered to have my home office set up in the same room I sleep in. But, I’m working with it – so can you, if that’s the space you have to work with.

Two things which are really important are to keep the two areas defined from each other and to stop any build up of stuff. This includes, but is not limited to, laundry, coffee cups, assorted paper, notes and notebooks, pens and the odd toothbrush.

I have been working on finding a space for everything and keeping everything in it’s given space. You may think that is easy, it is not. The paper clutter is the hardest to keep controlled. This is my area to work on all those little things and they soon pile up. I found a small filing cabinet and then I found a short plastic drawer tower (that’s what the manufacturer calls it). I have been trying to keep the paper in the file cabinet and the pens and paper (for drawing on or writing notes) in the drawer tower. I have them, one on either side of my computer desk.

I do have a scanner which is currently under a pile of paper clippings which I was sorting out this morning. There isn’t quite enough room for my scanner on the computer desk right now. I’m working on that. I took an old Mac computer from my sister which I wanted to explore and that is taking up space I really didn’t have to give away.

My cables for the digital camera(s) are on top of my desk. I want to get a hook which I can put up on the wall and then have them hang on the hook. This is a great way to keep them from being lost in the day to day clutter. It also helps prevent them being harmed from getting banged around or stepped on if they slide off the desk and onto the floor accidentally. You can even use a twist tie to wrap the cords so you won’t have them trailing down very far when you hang them up.

I do have a bookshelf too, which is for my non-fiction books only. I have them sorted by topic. I keep the fiction books in a mesh bag as I read each book it goes into the bag to be exchanged at the second hand bookstore. Not keeping every book goes a long way to helping keep clutter cleared up when I don’t have a lot of space.

Keep the Kitchen, Bathroom and Laundry Room out of Your Home Office

Last of all, I have two laundry baskets. One for clothes which are freshly cleaned and ready to be put away. Even if I slack off a bit, the clothes are still not being added to the clutter. The other laundry basket is for dirty clothes to be washed. Clothes are a big problem for clutter. Last winter I did my best to part with some of my clothes. I was surprised how hard it was to let go, even things which I have not worn in awhile for assorted reasons.

Also, I keep a container in the linen closet for all my shampoo, toothpaste and related bathroom things. I don’t like to keep my toothbrush in the bathroom itself. I think it would get mildewy. So it’s great having all those things in a small space of their own.

Another big thing which you should do for your home office is to keep all eating in the kitchen. I do have a coffee here while I’m working. However, I almost never eat food while sitting at the computer. It’s much easier not to have dishes and crumbs and crud on my keyboard and around my work area. Even if your keyboard looks not too gross, try picking it up and turning it upside down. Take a look at your computer mouse too. the bottom of it as well as the top. Clean the gross-ness you have wrought.

Rearrange Furniture to Suit Your Space and Your Needs

If you have more space than a bedroom you can do a lot more with your home office. For me, I have the computer desk on one side of the room and the bed and clothes closet and drawers on the other side. I also have two large storage containers with books, computer CDs/ DVDs and some hair clips, etc. One of these fits inside the clothes closet and the other sits at the bottom of the bed, like an old fashioned hope chest.

Don’t Forget Office Supplies

Office supplies stores can be a lot of fun to shop around in. Start out as a window shopper, looking but not buying much – if anything. Decide what will really be useful, what will fit in your space and is there assembly required (or extras to buy for it). For something like extra pens, pencil crayons, etc. You just need a place to put them. However, it’s nice to have a cork board or a whiteboard, some place to leave yourself notes, stick up magnets or fancy thumb tacks. You should also have a calendar.

Avatar-Making for your Online Profile

avatar makingAn avatar gives you a face when you fill out a profile online. There are endless places you can use an avatar on the web: email signatures, blog comments, forum profiles, HubPages or any other site you create an account on.

For this post I am focusing on sites which let you create the avatar online, from start to finish. You may need a screen capture software to save your finished avatar in an image file on your own computer. Go to the home site for your web browser and look up the add-ons. I use Chrome and Firefox (at different times) both of those have simple add-ons which let you use screen capture right from your web browser.

Many online game sites will give you an avatar when you sign up to play their game. This is another way to create an avatar, but it requires you to register for the site and have an account first. If you are not interested in playing the game you can still create an avatar and save it on your own computer, but you will have to take the time to register for the site, first.

Creating an Avatar with Your Own Art

The avatar can be an image of your own choosing. Use a photo you have taken. Your own art/ drawings in an image file (png, jpg or gif files) are great as avatars too.

Modify the image to fit the size you need. Most profiles will have a size limit. Some will have a limit for the pixels/ bandwidth of the image as well. There are web graphic programs which can resize an image. Some have features which let you add text, change colours and change the shape of the image, give it a different background and so on. You can use software such as Gimp, for image editing.

Globally Recognized Avatar

Once you have your avatar go to Gravatar and set up an account. This is a free online service which gives you a globally recognized avatar which will automatically show up when you comment on WordPress blogs or use various comment services and forums online.

Try Making Your Own Web Avatar (last updated on March 18, 2012).

How to Start a Writer Blog: 8 Helpful Tips | WritersDigest.com

5. Ask Commenters to Contribute

This is very, very important. Whenever you make a list of things, end it by asking readers what you left out. This makes the inevitable “You left out xyz awesome thing!” comment a happy collaboration rather than an indictment of the blogger’s intelligence. I can’t tell you how many times people have commented: “I can’t believe you didn’t include [some obscure nerd thing], furthermore [you are an idiot] and [should be fired].” But when I invite people to contribute, they do so gladly.

Such a simple lesson. Worth so much. Do it. Also, you’ll often get people giving you links that lead to new posts down the road.

6. The Past: There’s Always More of It

Credit to John Hodgman for the headline here.

When I started blogging, I sat down and wrote a long list of interesting trivia: topics I knew something about, interesting historical tidbits, lots of computer nerd stuff. Literally a big long bulleted list, in a file on my desktop. I then proceeded to write a blog post for every single one of those items. When I ran out, I panicked. What would happen? How would I keep coming up with a new thing every day forever? I had run out of interesting stuff!

When it’s your job to find and highlight one interesting thing every day, you quickly become a specialist at spotting interesting things. If you have any human interaction, and you keep your eyes and ears open, you will constantly encounter topics. You just need to notice them, then write about them. Go to the post office and listen to people talking in the line, look around the room, look at what’s for sale — something about that experience is almost certainly bloggable. (Forever Stamps, anyone?) So my job as a blog writer changed when I ran out of ideas in my back catalog — I became a finder of interesting things, and worked to become good at briefly describing those things. The finding skill can be harder; you need to develop a clear sense not just of what’s interesting to you, but what’s interesting to your audience, and also what can be briefly described.

via How to Start a Writer Blog: 8 Helpful Tips | WritersDigest.com.