Night Time Typing

It’s funny how you can be in the same room with someone, both of you on the Internet, and not speak to each other. I’ve had the same thing happen when I was working as a technical support person. Each time we went for a break the table would be full of people all talking or texting on their cell phones. All but myself, sitting there feeling kind of odd as everyone was talking but no one was talking to me.

Write a scenario where one person feels alone due to technology and yet they are not actually alone at all.

What comes to mind for myself are the evenings after my husband came home from work, after dinner and the clean up. We would both sit at our computers in the same room. He would have his back to me so he could watch TV and not be sitting at the window. I could see his back but I was facing the outside window. We did talk some what. But, I’d be typing away and look up at the dark, night time sky and suddenly feel a bit lonely. Mostly, I would feel how odd it was to be in a small apartment with someone I was close to and yet be kind of alone in the world, separated by technology rather than time or space.

Positive Rituals to Get Your Writing Started

Do you have trouble getting started writing? I do. I sit down in front of the computer, at my desk and then… I check email, I pop open FaceBook to look at FarmTown, I think about making coffee… suddenly it’s an hour later and I still haven’t even opened my writing file. Some would call that self sabotage.

Good Life Zen has a whole list of ideas for establishing your own positive rituals.

For myself I am going to take a look at what I do to begin writing and stop myself at the point where I go off track. If I make coffee first, then bring it to the desk that gets me started in the pattern of beginning to work. If the first thing I do on the computer is pull up my writing files instead of getting sidetracked I am keeping on track too. If I begin reading over what I had already written I am halfway there to writing new content.

Read the whole post from Good Life Zen. There are good ideas there beyond establishing a routine. For me that is the main point but others interlink with it and trying to change your habits is not easy, the more support you can find and build up for yourself, the more likely you are to succeed.

The End of Cable TV?

For years I have heard predictions that newspapers, magazines and books will fade away as they are replaced with digital media. I’ve protested. I can’t take a computer to bed with me, I don’t even want to. It just wouldn’t be as comfortable as taking a paperback which I can fall asleep with and not worry if it falls out of bed during the night.

Today, thinking about television and the cost of it (over $50 a month for me) I started thinking that all the predictions could be right… but they’ve been looking in the wrong direction. It won’t be print publications that fall to the Internet but the digital signal we watch on our TV screens.

How many people already watch TV shows and movies online, in various ways and means? How simple would it be to just watch everything on the Internet instead of owning a television and paying for cable service along with digital boxes and HDTV and other extras they convince people they just have to have? Would it really be any hardship to watch TV on the Internet? I don’t think so. Usually I only have it running in the background while I’m online anyway, I hardly notice what show is on unless I find one I actually want to watch, the odd time.

Can you debate this, for and against? Come up with 3 points for each side, just for fun.

Writing Amidst Chaos

It’s funny how many other things you can be doing while writing a post for your blog. People reading the post will imagine you calmly typing, maybe nothing more challenging than a coffee cup to distract you.

The reality is quite different. The phone rings. There is a kid telling you “The party is ready” when there was no party planned. Another kid is asking if they can rip up bread and throw it for the birds, only they brought the bread into the computer room with them and sesame seeds are now scattered over the carpet. Something crashes, anonymously. The party kid is now asking if you want to see how the character in their computer game looks naked. In between you spare a few brain cells to ponder things like the over due bill, the odd noise your car started making this week and the fact that your Mother will be visting, one of her bi-montly spot checks on your life.

Writing is never easy and the stuff that happens while you try to write doesn’t make it easy to keep writing. Meditation sounds good on paper, someone wrote that no doubt. But, in reality it can be hard to catch and keep your focus to write while life goes on all around you.

Saying “no” helps sometimes. Don’t take on too many things and cram your time into a tight schedule. Tell someone “no” and don’t let them tell you how much spare time they think you have.

Write things down. You never know when you will be interrupted mid-thought and lose your train of thought. Keep a notepad handy to jot things into so you can come back to catch that train when you come back to write.

Plan a writing schedule. Look at your life and your committments. Find a time when you are likely to be able to focus on just writing. Don’t answer the phone, let the messages pile up for your writing time. Unless Johnny fell down the well, all those calls can be returned when you really do have spare time.

Good luck.

When Dust Bunnies Attack Your Computer!

It’s a regular kind of morning, you’ve made your coffee and you sit in front of the computer. You’ll probably check email first or just check email before you get ready for work. But, when you turn it on… you get a massive disk error and the only sounds in the room are your own bated breaths and the ominous clicking coming from inside your computer tower/ case.

Are you prepared? Do you have your important and essential stuff backed up? Or will you now lose family photos, information you saved about everything under the sun and all your bookmarks too?

It can happen to you! It happened to me this weekend. I got lucky and it finally did start up again. After I tipped it over to look for the serial numbers when I gave it another try it worked. I think the little needle which operates my hard drive must have been pushed off it’s setting by one of the dust bunnies hiding in my computer tower. I should open it up and clean it but I’m delaying touching it at all now. I dare not even look at it the wrong way until I have the last of all my photos cleared out of there and burned onto a fresh DVD.

Heed this warning – back up your computer files today! Don’t let the dust bunnies mess you up!

Keep your Computer Happy and Healthy

1. Start with the very things right at your fingertips, the mouse and keyboard. These are the dirtiest parts of your computer. If you share the computer with anyone consider keeping some hand sanitizer by your desk to wipe down the mouse now and then.

If you have a mouse which has the wheel inside of it and is open at the bottom take the mosue apart. Easy to do by just pushing it as the arrows show. Get the crud off the parts of the mouse that turn and spin. Take out the ball itself and give it a wipe off. I’ve read that you should not vacuum your keyboard but I do and it works. I also turn it upside down and give it a gentle shake or two. You will be surprised how much falls out of it, even if you never eat over it and don’t have pets.

2. While you have a cloth out wipe off the rest of the computer, all the outside case. The back too. Use a cloth which won’t leave lint behind, that should just be common sense. You can find some nice ones in the dollar store so don’t think you need anything special or expensive. If you aren’t intimidated, take the outer case off your computer and give it a cleaning inside too. There is a huge build up of dust inside. If your computer is running poorly this could be the culprit. Take it to a repair service if you don’t want to open it yourself. But you can do it, just be sensible and don’t let it get at all wet. Take off your watch and rings, anything which could cause static or catch on something.

3. Back up all your files. You can burn them onto a CD or DVD if possible and then delete all the extra files you don’t use often. Keep your copy of them on the disc but clean them off your had drive. Get a box or a folder for CD’s, something to keep your discs safe and organized. You might even reinstall Windows if you have the back up disc. This will wipe your hard drive clean and give you a real fresh start. But, back up whatever you want to keep first, of course.

3. If you don’t already have a surge protector get one. If you have a surge protector which is second hand or several years old consider a new one. The purpose of a surge protector is to keep out power surges which can come from bad weather or a power surge from the outlet itself. Each of those surge protector bars are only good for one shot. If that shot is gone you just have a regular standard power bar and that won’t help you when you might need it again.

4. I have a debate with my sister and brother about leaving the computer on all the time. I don’t and they do. My brother turns off his monitor, my sister doesn’t do even that. However, she does have her computer set to hibernate after a set amount of time of not being used. Myself, I shut my whole system down each night when I go to bed. Also, if I plan on being away several hours I do not leave it on.

It isn’t good for a computer to be shut down and booted back and shut down in a small space of time. But, it also isn’t good for the use of electricity for it to always be left on. You should decide what you think best but consider shutting down if you know you will not be using it for a long period such as a weekend away or a week off, etc. If you wouldn’t leave the television on why would you leave the computer on?

5. Defrag your hard drive. This is an old word for letting the computer check it’s hard drive for errors and save space by packing everything in tighter and better organized. I’m sure you can find extra software to do this but Windows does come with it’s own defrag program and that should work just fine. Look it up in your Windows Help to find out just where to get started with it. The defrag will take quite awhile so don’t start it when you have something urgent to do online.

6. Get software for anti virus and spyware. Use them. Let them run their updates each time before you use them and run the checks at the very least monthly. Weekly is better. Daily is probably just going to be too annoying for most people. I don’t like to wait here twiddling my thumbs everyday either.

7.  Clean up the registery files. There are free software programs to do this or use the one available with Windows. A clean registery will help your computer run faster.

8. Look for updates on the software you use often. Some, like Firefox, update without being asked. If you find that annoying (a slow down when you are online) then you may have turned it off. You should be able to find an update link in the software. Check for something like an About or Help button in the toolbar of the software. These should have an update link or a link to the program’s home site where updates are available.

9. Give yourself a new background, something seasonal, flowers, animals or somethng to take your breath away. Use a site like Webshots.com, it’s my favourite and it’s free.

10. Write down important information about your computer. You should know the brand (Acer, IBM, etc) and the model and type, also the serial numbers for everything you can find on there, especially your operating system (Windows most likely). If you ever need tech support this information will be important.

Your World Through a Snowglobe

What if you could never go home again? How eerie would it feel to know everything was just as you left it, no great disaster, but you could never get there to sleep in your own bed, check email on your computer or just make a hot drink in your favourite cup. Like seeing your home through the glass of a snowglobe but never being able to get inside to live in that world again. What words would you use to describe that feeling?

Design Your Own Christmas Ornament

We can’t all sew or do woodwork and other creative crafty goodness but if you were to create your perfect Christmas ornament what would it be? Right now on my desk I have new polar bear ballerinas, all in pink with a tiara. I bought them thinking of my nieces who like to think they are princesses. I’ve my boxes of ornaments to be pulled up from the basement, maybe today. In there I have angels and snowmen, snowflakes and icicles, Santa and poinsettias. There are endless ideas you could come up with for something especially meaningful to you, combined with a regular Christmas theme. Think of those pink flamingo ornaments geared to the Snowbirds escaping winter to have Christmas in Florida.

My ornament would be a stack of computer gadgets in a pyramid shape with poinsettias and other Christmas greenery, like a Christmas tree made of computer hardware.

Creamy Lemon Filling

Your day sucks. So many things went wrong that you just lost count sometime before noon. Then the little green alien guy showed up and wanted to take over your work space. He shoved all your stuff off the desk surface and stuck his face inside your computer (literally, I said he was an alien). Somehow, in his alien way, he took over ownership of your computer. It no longer knows you exist and your login is denied.

But, you have one sure fire way to handle the alien invasion. Creamy lemon filling. The little green men are suckers for lemon meringue pie. Once they eat that lemon filling they begin to glow, soon after they turn yellow and swell up. By the end of an hour they are just a gooey mess you can call the janitorial staff to clean up. Seems to be something about the yellow and green just not mixing right. But, whatever it is, the little green men can not resist the lemon filling in a lemon meringue pie.

So, you go out at your lunch hour and bring in a piece of pie. One is enough to take care of 6 little green men. You set the pie out on the top of your desk and in just a half minute, there he is, sniffing it out.

Is it really all that evil to make the little green men explode from creamy lemon filling? Should you find a kinder alternative? Why or why not?