Thursday, December 29, 2016

Where has the year gone

As I sit here and write this, I am wondering where the year has gone. It seems to have passed by very quickly and now to see what next year has in store.

There were 366 days in the year this year but there have been times when I sat back and I wondered what we accomplished this year. There are a lot of things that have happened and things that have been accomplished along the way.

One of my big accomplishments for this year was my writing. I have been able to see a huge change in my writing and the number of words that I have been writing on a daily basis. I am no longer afraid of the blank page and I now actually enjoy starting my day working on a journal entry. At the beginning of the year I was happy with I was able to write 2,000 words a day. In January I had a word average of 1,946 words a day and now I have word averages of around 2,250 words a day. Sure that doesn’t look like much of a big change but it does mean around 8,000 words more written each month.

I still have things that I didn’t accomplish this year and they will be added to the list of things for next year but at least I know I have another 365 days to get them all done. I am looking forward to going back and looking at the goals that I get at the beginning of January for myself and seeing how I did. I will do that review at the very beginning of 2017 and I will also set some more goals for myself for 2017 while I am at it.

Through this year I have also been able to take some courses and am now working on using the knowledge that I have gained this year to change some of my functions with work. Being the co-owner of the business means that having these additional skills means that we have some new offerings that we can provide clients.

Yes, the year seems to have gone by quickly but when you can sit back and see some of the accomplished that were achieved through the year it does feel like there really was quite a bit accomplished throughout the year.

As the year comes to an end it is time to sit back and see what was accomplished and what wasn’t accomplished. Sure there will be some disappointments of not accomplishing everything that was on the original plan for this year but new things were added and new accomplishment achieved. Sit back and look at your year and think about what was accomplished and know that over the last year things have changed and there your goals have also changed.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Living with allergies

Living with allergies, especially food allergies can be a challenge and something that you have to learn to deal with. Of course, there are going to be times when you feel like there is nothing different about you from anyone else and then there are the times that you feel like why did it happen to me.

I have gone through both of these feelings and a lot of other feelings while dealing with being told that I had severe and life threatening food allergies. When I was growing up you really didn’t hear a lot about people with food allergies so being told I had food allergies was a shock. I was an adult when I was first diagnosed with food allergies and of course it was to food that I had been eating all my life. For me I was first diagnosed with one food allergy and have since found out that there have been more foods added to the list and I also worry if something else will be added to the list.

Having severe allergies to food and medicine can make doing things a challenge and something that you have to deal with on a daily basis. The simple going out can be a challenge and something that you learn to face and deal with. Yes, I know that there are still times that I just want to hide at home and not deal with the allergies but I also want to ensure that people understand that I am really no different than anyone else. Sure, there are foods that I cannot eat or be around but I can still live a normal life. I have also learned that I can be someone that isn’t afraid to say that I have food allergies and have done a few presentations about living with allergies.

Being adult onset means that there are a few differences than someone that was diagnosed as a child. I think the biggest challenge that I have faced is learning to not eat something that I was able to eat in the past. I have had to explain to people that I could eat a food before and now I have to avoid it. There have been times that I have wanted to try one of the foods that I have been told I am allergic to in case I have out grown it but I know better.

Living with food allergies is a challenge but understanding how to deal with them can make a big difference. If you have a strong support system as well it can help make facing the challenges a little easier. Being able to educate others about allergies and some of the challenges is something that I would like to do more of because I know that showing people that I am no different than they are would make me very happy.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Holiday Season

So many people see December as a festival month while other people find this time of year a challenge to face and get through.

When you look at what the holiday season means to so many people it is the time of celebration and spend time with friends and family. There are so people that don’t have family at all or if they do they don’t have family close to where they live. In some cases family can be half way around the world and the work schedule means that traveling to visit isn’t going to happen or finances can also mean that traveling can be a challenge.

Another challenge that people can be facing is being alone during this time of year. Being alone can be due to work or friends being busy with large gatherings and not thinking of the single friends they have. It is very important to remember that everyone needs a bit of time to be with friends or family and something just a quick call can make a big difference in someone’s life. Trying to ensure that you can spend a bit of time with single friends can also help let them know you value their friendship. It may mean not going to all the larger gatherings and making the choice to ensure that some of your other friends also get to celebrate with you.

For some people December can be a big challenge and that is when you need to ensure that you check in with all of your friends. Making sure that everyone knows that you value their friendship is very important at this time of year. The other thing that you must remember is not everyone is going to want to celebrate and may just want to sit and have a cup of coffee and a chat so you need to try and make time for some of those events as well.

The worst thing you can do is to try and force someone to spend time with others. I have heard that “We must spend time with those that we love”, and this is coming from a friend. We do spend time with those that we love and we also have to ensure that we take some time to spend the time just together. Knowing how to invite friends to events and understanding when they can’t attend everything is something everyone needs to remember. The holiday season is a crazy and demanding time so having to figure out your own schedule and what is important to you has to be something others understand.

Making sure that you understand what other people think about the holiday season is important as well as ensuring that you do things that you enjoy. Your time is precious and making sure you can meet all demands of your time while also dealing with the other challenges is very important. The holiday season is something that is different for everyone and that is one thing that people need to understand.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Personal information

Next time you are at an ATM watch what people do with the receipt they get from the machine. How many people just kind of put it into the garbage which is at the machine? What people don't think about is the information that is on that piece of paper. The information that is on it are, most of the access card number, the transaction that you did and also the balance in that account. By just leaving that piece of paper around you are giving people access to some information about you.

The other thing people do is simply throw their credit card and/or bank statements in the garbage or into a recycle bin quite often in public locations. Without shredding the personal information that is on them you could end up with identity theft. The information that you are simply throwing out is the information that is required for someone to either attempt or to steal your identity.

It is always interesting to listen to people complain and not understand that they provided the thief with the information they were looking for. Another thing people do is while out, in public, they give out their credit card information over the phone. All it takes is for someone to make note of the credit card information and use it. Some online systems match the address and name of the person with the credit card information and some don't. Image the purchases that could be made with just a credit card and expiry date. I have even heard people give the three digit code off the back of their card while out in public. Purchases that require credit card information should not be done out where others can hear you. Most people don't care and aren't really listen but all it takes is that one person to hear the information and that's it.

Personal information is called that because that is what it is. The information that can identify you or be used to make systems think it is use doing the transaction or activity. The use of personal information should be done in locations that have limited access so that you aren't giving away a lot of private information out in public.

Protecting your personal information is very important and is something that needs to be considered all the time. Always make sure that when you are doing something or discarding something you aren't given someone else access to your information.

If you are one of those that does all your credit card purchases over the phone out in public maybe it’s time to rethink what you are doing. In some cases you have given out a lot of personal information within ear shot of a lot of other people. You may have given out your name, address, phone number, and credit card number with expiry date and csv code. You have now given a lot of people enough information that they could actually steal your identification so at least make some really good purchases on your credit card before you realize what has happened.

Personal information such as bank statements and credit card bills should be destroyed before you put them into the recycle or garbage. We have a shredder at home and anything with personal information on it gets shredded and then that bag is put out for recycling. It would be very hard to find the information that is needed this way and that is why we do it. Credit card purchases are made at home if over the phone and if on the computer again it is at a location that we know the internet that we are using and it wouldn’t be a fast food restaurant’s free wifi.

Keep your personal information personal and that will help you stay safe and not have to try and figure out if you really did make that purchase or not on your credit card.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

License plates

License plates can add some fun to any trip out in the car for even grown ups. Having different things that makes even some of the shorter days go by quicker can be fun. It also means that everyone in the car is involved in the trip and it gives the driver someone else that is paying attention to the road as well. These are the games that we do in the car when we are out and about and we don’t have to go very far at all to work on any of these.

Personalized plates:

The different personalized license plates can be a lot of fun to try and figure out.

Popysgirl is one that we saw and of course my comment was someone else had my license plate. No I don’t have a personalized license plate but that could of been the one I selected. It is always fun to make the figuring out of the license plate into a game.

The personalized plate can sometimes be a challenge to actually figure out. We have seen some and even with the two us trying to figure it out we have no luck. Of course, the plate means something to the owner of the car. There are items that the plate represents a business or occupation or a sport.

The personalized license plates can help pass the time on a long drive. The solving of some plates can be very quick and then others can take a but of time. No matter if you solve them or not it is fun to try.

Newest plate:

Another game that we have been playing with regards to license plates is looking for the newest plate that we can see when we are out each time. This actually means that we need to track the highest one that we had seen before and then see if we can better it each time we are out. There have been times that we have bettered the license twice in one trip which is great and then there are the times that we don’t see a higher plate for a few trips out. We are currently doing this with the combination of CA as the start of the license plates here in Ontario. Now to see when we find the CAZ? because I have a feeling it is going to be before the end of the year as on a recent trip we saw a CAY? As the start of the licence plate. Yes in Ontario we currently have four letters as the start of our license plates followed by three numbers.

States and Provinces:

Now this is something that I have been doing for years but mostly when on a vacation. This is trying to find as many different provinces and states that you can find while on a trip. This year we decided to have a bit more fun with it and printed off a list of all the states and provinces and kept track of all the different ones that we saw through the summer. Having the pre-printed list makes it so much quicker to find out if you have seen a plate or not. This can make any road trip go a little faster for everyone in the car because you are trying to identify the different plates passing you along the road or even in parking lots.

By the time the summer was over, we did from June 21st through September 21st, we had all but three of the provinces and territories for Canada found. The summer is actually the best time to try this because there are so many more people travelling or at least that is what we figured.

After we finished up our summer list we decided that we were going to keep another list through fall through Spring and see which provinces and states that we see through the other three seasons. So here it is the end of November and we are down to needed to see three of the provinces and territories for Canada again. It is fun because all through the summer we never saw a license plate from Newfoundland and Labrador and we have seen multiple ones already through the fall.

We are going to keep this list going until June 21st and will see how many different states and provinces we see and then will compare it to the one over the summer.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Duct Cleaning -- just another scam

Recently we have been getting a lot of phone calls with regards to having the ducts cleaned in our house. Now to explain things we live in an apartment building so this means that instead of just saying that I am not interested I have decided that it is more fun to keep these scammers on the phone for a few minutes and bug them. So here are some of the questions and replies that have been given.

1. Hello mam we have a special on some duct cleaning in your area. Can you please tell me now many bedrooms are on the top floor of your house
Response: There are 20 bedrooms on the top floor.
Scammers: Excuse me mam I asked how many bedrooms on the top floor of your house.
Response: There are 20 bedrooms.
At this point either one of two things normally happens. They re-ask the question for a third time or they just hang up.

2. Hello mam we have a special offer for you as we are currently on your street and would like to offer some duct cleaning for your home.
Response: Oh, so you are cleaning the ducts in the apartments around me.
Scammer: No mam we are on your street and cleaning the ducts in the houses around you.
Response: So you are cleaning the ducks in the apartment buildings around you.
Scammer: No mam, the houses on your street.
Response: That is extremely difficult as there are only apartment buildings on my street.
Scammer: No mam, the houses on your street.
Response: thanks but I am not interesting and I don’t think the apartment owner wants anyone doing work on only one unit.

This is where they hang up but at least I have kept them on the phone for a couple of minutes.

Now here is the latest one and it was a lady that called this time. Normally I have had a man call.

3. Hello mam we have a special on some duct cleaning in your area. Can you please tell me the square footage of your home.
Response : 350,000 square feet.
Scammer: Excuse me mam I asked how many square feet your home is.
Response: 350,000 square feet.
Scammer: Oh, so how many bedrooms are upstairs.
Response: 20 bedrooms (this is where I could have said 200 as there are ten floors above our unit)
Scammer: Oh, excuse me is this a castle?
Response: Well isn’t every home your castle?

This is once again there they hung up but it was a fun conversation this time.

So now I am waiting to receive another one of these calls and I will be ready with some other questions for them.
1. What is the name of the company as I only deal with reputable companies.
  • I am figuring that I will probably get a response like we are reputable.
2. What is the name of the company as I would like to know the name of the company before I do business with it as it only comes up “unknown caller” on my caller id.
  • Will see what response I get for this one.

Yes scammers are trying everything to get information from people so it means that you just have to learn how to play their games. I figured that there are times that I am just going to keep them on the phone for a couple of minutes because then it means that there are a couple less people that they can call. We all receive these types of phone calls even when we are on the do not call lists or have unlisted phone numbers. It doesn’t matter what you do to try and avoid getting them other than not having a phone at all.

A fun result from one of this type of scam was one of those MicroSoft scammers. My husband was actually able to keep the person on the phone for over half an hour asking the scammer a bunch of questions. Yes, my husband was having fun trying to see how far he could go and keep the scammer on the phone. Well the call ended up getting disconnected so we figured the fun was over until the scammer called back and apologized for getting cut off and then told my husband that he was a very smart and knowledgeable person and then said good bye.

Knowing that you are going to get this type of call no matter what helps. No I don’t always keep the person on the phone as it will depend on what I am doing but if I have those couple of minutes I will see how much info I can get without giving any valid info to them. So, no I don’t need my ducts cleaned and sorry “MicroSoft” or “the Internet” but I know better and will not let you get information from me.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Schedules - are they flexible or not?

How many times have you received a phone call and someone has said are you free at a specific time? We all get these calls and especially when you are working that is something that you can get quite often.

What people have to understand is that not everyone has the same schedule. I know that there are times when we will work Monday through Friday and try and keep some normal hours and then there are the times that we may have Wednesday to ourselves but work one or both of the weekend days. For us, our schedule is based on the needs of the clients and when some of the various tasks can be done. There are times when a task can only be done in the evening or on a weekend so we will work around that.

Now schedules do fall into a lot of different categories and you need to understand some of them.
  • Hard schedule – These are things that must be done at a given time on a specific day.
  • Flexible schedule – When something needs to get done but not at a given time or on a specific day but needs to be accomplished.
  • Semi-flexible schedule – This is when things need to get done on a specific day but not at a specific time

Schedules can mean some different to different people and that is what you need to understand. There are times when a specific day will work for a meeting and then another time that same day won’t work. Schedules are sometimes that you need to understand and be willing to be flexible especially when you are trying to plan something involving others. When it comes to schedules you have to remember that you don’t know the other demands on someone else or their schedule. Also don’t demand that others fit into your schedule but try and work together to see how things can work out.

Schedules are always something that can change depending on the other demands on your life. Understanding that others have demands on their time will help in being flexible when someone else may have to reschedule a specific meeting or if they need to be a little more demanding of your time at a specific time.

For me, I have a more semi-flexible to flexible schedule and that is because there are demands that can come up and they need to be done immediately. When there are client issues that mean a business is greatly impacted that will mean that my schedule will change to assist them. There are times when I look at my calendar and laugh because there are a lot of things scheduled for a specific time during a specific day but I know that what I am telling myself is that a specific task needs to be done during that day. Making sure that you identify on your schedule the items that can be moved during a specific day or moved to another day if needed is important.

Schedules will change from time to time and that is something that needs to be realized by others. A schedule in a lot of ways is just an outline of what needs to be done and when. I have learned that being flexible and understanding other individuals and their schedules has made it a lot easier to accept changes to my own schedule.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Gimmy the keys and get out of the way

For me this should be give me some time and get out of the way. I always say that I would love two or three days to myself where I could do what I wanted without all the different distractions that I deal with most of the time. Just being able to lose myself and do the things that I would like to do would be wonderful.

Getting out of my way would be making sure that there was food available but something that I didn't have to prepare. I would love it if the food would just appear at the different times of the day without me having to make any decisions. I would also like to make sure that there were a variety of things to drink as well to make sure that I had something always available.

For me to have this time it would mean that there would have to be some planning because I would need to make sure that I had all the projects that I wanted to work on available and easily accessible to me during this time. I would also want to ensure that I had some of my writing material available so that I could write when I wanted to without having to answer to anyone. The other major requirement would be a comfy spot where I could do all the things that I wanted to do.

I have had a chance to have a day like this but haven't had more than that and it is something that I would love to have soon. I know that it would involve the planning as there is also work that needs to be considered but at least having that chance would be wonderful. I am hoping that this weekend I will have one of these days because I think it would really help me more forward on a lot of the things that I want to accomplish.

Before this weekend what I need to do is figure out what I would work on craftwise and then make sure it is all ready to go before the weekend is upon us. I know that having the project at least figured out helps me know that I can spend some of my time doing the things that I enjoy.

Gimmy the keys and get out of the way would be wonderful because I need to learn that I have to take the time to myself and not let others get in my way. I am sometimes the one that gets in my way so this time I am going to be determined to make sure that I have some time to do the things that I want to do this weekend and I will not be giving it up.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Writing a book would mean...

For me having the chance to write a book would be wonderful. It probably wouldn't be fiction or anything like that but at least it would be something. I have always wanted to have the opportunity to write a book but, of course life if general just gets in the way, so it means that I haven't had that opportunity yet.

Growing up I loved writing stories and wish I had kept them because they would have helped me come up with some ideas for some short stories because they were always a lot of fun. I remember writing stories about myself and two friends from high school and all the things we could have gotten ourselves into. I have been working on a few short stories lately and now to see if I can actually get them moved forward from just the start of them. I need the time where I can hide from the world and work on getting these stories finished and then will see what happens.

Now I would love to have the opportunity of writing a book based on some of my blogs. My blogs would need a lot of work to make them worth a book but that is something that I would love to be able to do. I always think about what it would be like to have a book released based on some of my thoughts and it makes me happy. Also I have been told that I should think about putting some of my ideas into more detail and see what happens.

A book would show a lot of people that put me down while I was growing up that I have made something of myself. Yes, I was a girl that had problems reading when I was younger but now I enjoy the writing and reading that I am now able to do. I also have some interesting challenges when we are at different presentations because I seem to be able to spot spelling errors quickly that people miss.

Writing a book would mean a lot of time working on it but considering I have a lot of ideas already partly written it wouldn't be as hard as having to come up with a bunch of new ideas. Maybe one day I will have a book of my blog entries so that is what I am going to have to work towards. Writing a book is a dream that I have and hopefully one day this dream will really come true.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Black Friday

Yes it seems that the idea of Black Friday has now moved up to Canada as well as in the United States. Through the last few days we have been emailed about pre-Black Friday sales, now it is the emails for Black Friday sales. The malls are also open early so that people can get the deals before everyone else.

Black Friday originally was something that was only in the United States but as a means of keeping people here in Canada the retailers decided it wold be a good idea for us to have some sales at the same time. What they really aren’t telling us is that the sales we are getting really aren’t that great but at least they are on sale, or at least this is my feelings.

One example of the sales that really isn’t a sale is for some yarn that is on sale in the United States but wait it isn’t on sale here in Canada at Michaels. So here is the comparison in the U.S. it is 2 for $10 and the normal price is around $7 be ball of yarn. Now here in Canada the regular price is $12 a ball and yes on Black Friday the price is $12. There have been a lot of other yarn sales that have been talked about through social media and all I can say is that even when something is on sale here it is still a lot more than down the states. Here is what I am thinking the price should be on this yarn for today here in Canada given that we do have an exchange rate to consider. So how about 2 for $13 for even just Black Friday to keep some people here in Canada instead of them running down to the States and going to Michaels, JoAnn’s and Hobby Lobby. There is the other comparison, they have three different craft stores and we have one.

Black Friday also means that a lot of the malls here in Canada open early to try and attract people to come do their shopping and see what the sales are. The malls are normally busy during the Christmas season and I have already seen it for this year as it started last week for us. I am very glad that we have been able to get most of our shopping already done so that we can avoid the malls as much as possible over the next month.

We decided that we wanted to try and go shopping today so went to one of the malls and the results were we drove into the mall parking lot, drove around the parking lot looking for a spot for a bit of time and then left. Yes, the malls around the city were all crazy and the decision to leave the mall without actually going shopping was probably the best thing we could have done. There are still going to be sales happening between now and Christmas and dealing with all the crowds today to save a few dollars wasn’t worth it.

Black Friday can be an interesting experience but fighting all the crowds may not be worth it. I know that we could have driven around and around looking for a spot but considering we weren’t looking for anything particular just walking around the mall wasn’t something we were going to do without a lot of frustration.

Is Black Friday really worth it? I am not sure if you aren’t going to buy something anyway, the sales that you see, may or may not help with the decision. There were things that we saw, at another store, were a good price but they weren’t something that we needed so we left the store without the deals that we saw.

Black Friday can be a good deal if you already wanted the item. The item needs to be something you need not just something that was a good deal.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Showing others who you are

Everyone that I know has a bunch of sides to them and you don’t get to see the various sides of them a lot of the time.

What is interesting is seeing little bits of the various sides of a person and seeing that you really do have a lot more in common than you first thought. As an IT individual we go to quite a few events and meet a lot of people and have some wonderful discussions. It means that we get to know that person from the IT side of the world and that is where they normally belong.

I have had a couple of very interesting experiences because of individuals that I have met through going to various IT event. One of the experiences that I really enjoyed was a few years ago. I have been going to TASK for a while and there was a lady that I got to talk to there a bit and then I also got to talk to her at another IT focused conference. I figured that was going to be the circle that she was going to belong to and there wasn’t going to be any other interaction with this person. Well, that didn’t last too long because I went to my monthly get-together of cross-stitchers and guess who sat down beside me. Yes, the lady that I knew through TASK and the other IT events was also a cross-stitcher so we had a great time and we found that we both had another side to ourselves not just IT related.

IT events is one of the areas that I do get to meet a lot of individuals that that makes me happy. Another situation that was interesting was when we were at an IT event and we ended up talking with one of the regulars that we see. It ends up that his girl friend is also a major crafter like I am and we have a lot of those things in common. The girl friend also has the super sensitive ears like I have and I think even worse so I understand her. It means that this guy that we met at an IT event has become more than someone we see just an IT events. He is someone who understands me and sees that there is more to me than just the female that goes to the various IT events.
one of my drawings

For me one of the fun experiences was when we were among a bunch of our friends and they finally realized that I drew. A lot of people have never seen anything that I have drawn and it was fun when the bunch realized that yes I do that as a hobby. I had my sketch book with me that time and I was asking one of our friends, who is an artist, for some help with my drawing. It made for some wonderful conversations when people started looking through my sketch book and saw a different side of me.

So many people see one side of an individual and they don’t think that person is more than that. Yes, I have various sides to me and you just need to spend a bit of time around me to see that I may not be just the one side you see most of the time. A person normally has a lot of different interests and just sitting down and talking to them you may find out you have more in common than you first thought. Don’t be afraid to show others the different parts of you because that is how you will develop those good friendships and be able to talk about more than the original reason you got to know each other.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Being Creative

When someone asks me what I do in my spare time I say I enjoy being creative.

Being creative can be a lot of different things to people. The end result of being creative can be something tangible or it can be something that isn’t tangible either. There are times that ideas are created and those cannot be seen or felt for quite some time. Yes, being creative normally means you are doing something that can be seen by others.

For me being creative is sitting and relaxing and spending a little bit of time doing something with my hands. Of course, the creativity varies depending on the day or even the minute as I can sometimes start working on a thing and then I end up putting that down and working on something else. Through my creativity I am able to express myself in different ways which is what I really enjoy. Being creative can also be applied to my work as writing is another form of being creative. You are taking a very small point and developing it into something a lot larger.

The method of being creative can vary depending on mood or even available time or energy. There are times that a simple doodle that I have done will inspire me to either create something out of that doodle or it will help me figure out that project that I haven’t been able to figure out for a while. The doodle can also inspire a story or a blog idea and those are things that I love when they pop into my head. One of my most common doodles is a little character that I have been drawing for years. He has finally been given a name of “ME” standing for Mischievous Entity. This little character appears quite often when I am just sitting and drawing and sometimes he is doing something and another time it is just the basic outline of him.

Being creative is a great way to let your mind wander in various ways and can be a break from the normal day to day routines. Being creative can also be a way of solving those issues that you have been dealing with. There are times when I have been sitting relaxing and the solution for something that I have been working on during the day appears. Those are the great times when you can actually figure out a solution for something when you aren’t focused on solving the thing.

Creativity will vary by the individual and most people are creative in their own way. Not everyone fits into the same mold and that needs to be remembered. You may create wonderful drawings and someone else may create beautiful bowls. Each of you is create in your own ways and you should never put down someone else being creativity because everyone is different and finds enjoyment in their method.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Our website

It is amazing how many people have told us that our website is out of date and old.

Yes, I admit that our website doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that some other sites have, but we are happy with our site. The goal of our website is to communicate what we do and not with a lot of flash or things that will distract from the main message. I know that there are going to be people that say we need all the latest and greatest things, but what they aren’t checking is if we are happy with our site.

A couple of the other things that people aren’t understanding that the fancier our website is the more questions we get asking about designing and managing websites. For a lot of people once you say that you are either in IT or you do Technical Writing they figure that you will do websites for everyone. There are a lot of people that design and manage websites and we want to leave that focus to them. Another thing that we are doing is ensuring that our website is safe and is harder to hack and install the latest and most problematic hostage wear on. Some platforms as so easy for hackers to attack and we want to ensure that our website isn’t set up so that is extremely attractive to those individuals.

Every website is designed with a purpose and knowing what the ultimate purpose of the website can make a big difference. I understand that a lot of the marketing people will say our website is old but that is fine with me.

It is always interesting when people look at our site and they mention that they liked how simple it was and easy to find things on. Of course, these are some of people that we like working with because they also don’t want the bells and whistles that are not always needed. We like the KISS principle when it comes to our website as it makes it a lot easier to manage and we can do it ourselves. Yes, we could add more flash to the website but that isn’t what we want our site to look like.

We also recently did a booth at a Small Business Forum and one of the feed backs we got from a marketing person was that our brochures were mostly text and didn’t have a lot pictures in it. Yes, our handouts were a lot of text but that again is what we wanted for our booth. No, it wasn’t the tri-fold pages they were basic pages but they gave you the information about us. Sure brochures have their place and I understand that and maybe we could have had more pictures on our pages but then the number of pages would have increased and the message would have started to disappear.

Our website and even our handouts were designed to work for us, so that we can communicate our message. We are simple and skilled people that enjoy working and are not going to make people use the latest and greatest features or equipment if it isn’t what is needed.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Vendors and First Impression

Email received from a vendor:
Subject: Initial Reach Out
Wanted to quickly reach out because you visited the XXX booth at a recent conference.
Were you just swinging by to grab some goodies, or is there a chance you’re looking for new tools to protect your network?

My reply to vendor email:
As a consultant we are always trying to keep informed as to what is out there for our clients.  We are trusted advisors.

We do not drop by a booth just to pick up some goodies as I do not believe that is what the goodies are there for. Yes a lot of attendees will do that but unless we have had a conversation with someone at the booth we do not pick up stuff.
There are times that I think that vendors really need to think about what they are saying when they write an email to an attendee at a conference. The email that I received was from a vendor/booth that I did not get my name tag scanned at or leave a business card with. The vendor may have received my contact information from the registration for the conference but that was it.
There are a lot of people that go to conferences to just grab the free stuff that is being handed out but a vendor should never start out a first contact asking if the only reason I stopped by the booth was it to get the goodies. What else is interesting about this entire situation is that both my business partner and myself were are these conferences and I was the only one that received the email. Now, maybe it was because I replied as quickly as I did saying I wasn’t happy about the email. Maybe it was his contact information was lost in the pile or maybe it was because I am a female that I received this email. I will never know why I got the email and my business partner didn’t. What I do know is that if you are trying to make a good first contact you never mention the goodies.
There are a number of booths are conferences that we do not stop at because we know that they are not a fit for our business or our clients. If I didn’t stop by our booth don’t tell me that I did. If you received my contact from the registration list then just say “when you attended xxx conference”. Now the issue with using that list and saying you attended the conference is there are a lot of people that are unable to actually attend the event after registering so you are going to look bad again. If you have a scanner and are collecting who you actually talked to them yes you can mention about stopping by the booth but otherwise that is bad practice.
A vendor and the first impression can make a big difference if I will consider recommending them to a client or not. For this vendor, I can honestly say that I will not be recommending them to any of our clients and I can’t wait to go to one of our monthly meetings to see how else got this email. Some people will not have paid attention to it or the wording but I know some of them that if they did receive this email will not be happy.
For me the goodies are the various booths aren’t the reason that I stop at a booth. I am stopping at a booth to find out about a particular product or I can saying hi to someone that I know that is manning the booth. There are only so many pens, flash lights, umbrellas, etc that I can us and I don’t need any more of any of those.
Vendors if you really want to make a good first contact with me, remember, I may not have stopped by your booth, you may have received my name from the registration list and oh, I don’t stop by the booth just for your goodies.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Stating the Obvious

There are times when stating the obvious needs to be done.

We recently were at a conference and saw a few issues that could be addressed and improved for next year. Yes, we want to see the conference improve and also want to ensure that we can add a little bit of value to the conference. I want to show that making comments to the right people can go a long way.

The conference was wonderful and I did enjoy it and had a great experience helping out at a booth for a community group. What problems there were, weren’t large, but fixing them would make the booth better for next year and give the group a little better imagine and that is very important.

The issues that I saw quickly were:
  • The location was not identified in the book so no one knew what it was for.
  • The tables were not in an ideal location because not everyone saw the tables if they weren’t going to specific rooms for sessions.
  • Our community group didn’t have anything to identify it was at the table. Another organization had a table cover which helped.
  • Nothing was visible to show that a lot of the table was for user groups.
  • Ensure people manning the booth understand the user group.

Some quick solutions that were done during the show:
  • Individuals at least from our group had an addition to their name tag to show that they were part of that table.
  • Taped a flyer onto the computer to help it be identified.

Improvements that can be done for next year:
  • Have location identified in the book so that everyone knows where it is.
  • Banners and/or table skirt would help attract attention to the groups that are there.
  • Have something eye catching so that people want to come over and talk.
  • Have some notes for everyone that will be managing the booth so they have the information and can answer questions.

The ideas may be obvious but when I was talking to one individual their response was “those are obvious”, so if they were so obvious why weren’t they done prior to the event. Another individual was very happy to hear the improvements for next year and asked if they could be documented. If I had only listened to the first person with their response I wouldn’t have said anything else. I am glad to know that the person that is more in control of the booth and how it goes, is happy that we talked to them.

There are going to be times when “those are obvious” are really just that, but this time by stating them we give some positive feedback and we know it will be improved for next year. There are always going to be individuals that are not going to accept suggestions openly but when you find the right person you know the type of response you will get from them. I knew as soon as the first person was talking to me that the response was going to be quick and dismissive.

Stating the obvious can help sometimes because things can be missed and they need to be stated to help move things forward. Yes the things might be obvious to people but when you are handling many different things even the most obvious can be missed.

The outcome of me stating the obvious may have given me the job of "booth mom" at one conference which I am happy to do.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Remembrance Day

The first chapter of In Flanders Fields and Other Poems, a 1919 collection of McCrae's works, gives the text of the poem as follows: (wikipedia)
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

November 11th is Remembrance Day in Canada.  Please take a few minutes to remember those people that went to war to protect us.  Many of them never came home and some did.  We need to remember all of those that put on a uniform to support our country and all of those that still put on a uniform for us.  Thank you for what you have done for us.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Giving yourself permission to play

I think everyone needs to give themselves permission to play every now and again. I don't mean this in a bad way. What I am meaning is that everyone needs time to just do some of the silly things that we all want to do from time to time.

Maybe your play is sitting and drawing and not caring about what it is or what others think of it. It could be running around in a backyard and doing silly things. The word play means basically just taking a bit of a break from the day to day routine and do something out of the ordinary.

For me time to play is sitting with my sketch book and drawing different things and seeing how they turn out. I really don't care that they aren't perfect I just care that I have enjoying doing it and no one can say anything because this is my enjoyment. It also means giving my mind a break from the routine and doing other things that I would love to try out. I know that I walk through Michaels sometimes and look at all the different things and say i would like to try that just once to see what it is like. Yes that is some of the play that I would like to do. If I could pick up some modelling clay and just have fun with it and not care that would make me very happy. I think I even have some of it at home so maybe this weekend I will find a bit of time to play and see what happens.
Little clay bear

Well I did pick up some of that modelling clay and had some fun and am very glad that I did. It gave me the time to play and no one could say anything about how things turned out. These projects were for me and I am happy with want I did. The little clay bear isn’t perfect but I don’t care because I had fun making him. The yarn bowl that I made isn’t totally smooth but I am happy with how it turned out because I made it and painted it.
Inside of yarn bowl

Yarn bowl
Your don't need to ask someone else permission to do the playing that you want. It is your own time and your space so why should someone else have to allow you to do it. The permission you need is from yourself so that you can enjoy the time. What you need is just a little bit of time to do something and see where it goes. You may find that something you thought was play becomes something that you enjoy doing and you will do in more often in the future.

Give yourself permission to play, dream or whatever you want but remember you are the only one that can give you this permission so go for it and enjoy the time.

Monday, November 7, 2016

My favourite sport

For me, I think I have two sports that are my favourite and that is because I can watch them at different times of the year. The two sports are baseball and hockey, but I don't play either of them but I do enjoy watching them.

Hockey would be the first sport that I remember watching because my mom was a very big hockey fan. Hockey was on the television on Wednesday and Saturday evenings in our house when I was growing up. Of course, we didn't have all the channels that are now available so you got to watch the broadcasts that were available and that meant hockey basically two nights a week. Growing up, I also got to like some players and what makes a lot of people laugh is when I say that I had a blue and white room when I was a kid with a giant maple leaf painted on one way of my room. I was a Toronto Maple Leaf fan growing up but it was because of Dave Keon and also that was the team that was on most of the time in our house based on the broadcasts. I also got a Leaf jersey when I was 9 so I wasn't complaining about that either. Yes, I was a girl that loved hockey and went to hockey games from a very early age. Now instead of saying I am a Leaf fan, I say I am a hockey fan because there are a lot of players that I like so I don't cheer for one team. Also with the new channels we get, it means that there are a lot more teams that we can watch on a weekly basis.

My other favourite sport is baseball and that is since I was a teenager when Toronto finally got it's own baseball team. I loved being able to go down and watch some of the games and enjoyed going to both Exhibition Stadium to see some of the early games and then the Skydome/Rogers Centre later on to see games. I have to admit that I am still a Blue Jays fan and have never switched to another team which is something for me. I may like a player or two on different times but the Jays are still the team that I will cheer loudly for.

These are the two sports that I will watch all the time because they are the ones that I love and understand. The other things that I will watch are the Summer and Winter Olympics to see how Canada does during each of them. Now, the Winter Olympics are the ones that I watch a little closer and maybe that is because we are stuck inside a lot more when they are happening so they are a lot easier to watch.

Sports are something that I do enjoy watching and if I am watching them on television I am normally doing something else as well. Either one of these sports can be found on our television at home most of the time and you will see that I will probably be crafting while watching them. No, I don't play sports but at least I can enjoy watching them.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Getting tasks done

We all have days that things just don’t seem to get done and then there are the days that everything seems to get accomplished.

Lately I have been dealing with the days that things don’t seem to get done and then I realized why that was. I am working on some bigger projects that a day isn’t going show me the results that I have wanted to see. It has been a big challenge because I was starting to get down on myself for not getting things accomplished but then I realized that instead of just looking at the end result I needed to start looking at all the little bits of things that I have accomplished along the way.

Not every thing will work like this, but what I ended up doing was actually tracking some of the smaller things that I accomplished each day and then I started to feel a little better. Also I started to write down all the little things that needed my attention that I was trying to keep in my head. Being able to un-clutter the mind has also resulted in me feeling a lot better and I am seeing some results again. Of course, the big projects are still there but at least now that I am seeing even the smaller steps accomplished it makes me feel a lot better.

I think we all go through times where things just don’t seem to be moving forward and we forget about the small accomplished that have been reached along the way. For most projects there are the smaller accomplishments and they need to be noted when you start feeling like you are getting no where for a few days. The list that I keep isn’t very detailed but it is starting to show me that even when I feel like nothing is getting done I can see the few little steps that have been accomplished along the way.

There are always going to be things that take you away from the main task that you had on your agenda for the day but you need to realize that the other things also needed to get done. The getting the small things done are also important and knowing that they can get done and out of the way is also good. For us it can be a simple email or a text message that changes our day so knowing that even bits of some tasks are getting accomplished works well.

Getting the tasks done may not be something that is accomplished in a day but at least seeing that some progress has been made can really make a different. The tasks may have feel extremely overwhelming at some point but then you just need to look at them in the small pieces and you will feel better as you get each of the smaller pieces accomplished. Lots of pieces of paper to track some of the accomplishments will let you know that you are getting things done but maybe just not as quickly as you first thought.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

I can't find that email

How many times have you heard someone say “I can’t find that email you sent me” or “Can you resend me the email because I don’t seem to be able to find it”. In business this is something that I think we all deal with at some time.

If someone if looking for an email there are methods that can be used to assist them in locating that specific email. Of course there is the request for it to be resent because they just can’t take the time to check their email themselves and don’t know the other ways to try and find it. I have received a number of phone calls about someone not being able to locate an email and asking me to resent it. I do resent the email but what I normally do is find it in my sent items and forward it showing them the original date and subject line that I used.

Search – this is one of the methods that can be used to locate an email when you have a general idea about the subject of the email. It doesn’t have to be exact but at least a general idea by help. An example would be “staff meeting” if you are looking for minutes from a staff meeting that was sent earlier in the year. The search would then show just the emails that are in your email pertaining to staff meetings. The person would then be able to find the email that they were looking for without having to ask for it being resent.

Sort – here is a method that can also help you locate an email if you know who sent the message in the first place. Email can be sorted by name, date, size, subject and are all different methods of helping you locate that email that you are looking for in your email. By doing the sort in a couple of different ways you will probably locate the message you are looking for as long as you haven’t deleted it.

Folders – using folders within your email system is another way to assist in locating the various emails you are looking for. The only thing with folders is the volume of email in each of these folders can get out of hand very easy.

Saving the attachments – if the email has a file attached the first thing you should do after receiving the email is save the attachment somewhere else which would also make it easier to locate. We all deal with tons and tons of emails and yes they can get a little overwhelming sometimes but knowing how to sort and search your emails can make life so much easier. There will be times when you have to ask a person to resend something because you deleted it but at least it won’t be as often.

All of these methods will assist you in finding that email that you received or sent. It is also very important to remember to not keep everything in your email account because things can be deleted in error or your email system can get corrupted and you can lose everything. The rule that I always try and use is if the document is something that I may need in the future, save it outside of the email system when you receive it. Don’t think just because the message is in your email today it will be there tomorrow.

Email storage isn’t unlimited so in some cases emails can be lost if there are issues with the storage. Figure out how to manage your email account and don’t just leave everything there and not understand how to locate what you are looking for.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Common sense isn't always so common

I have some across a few examples of why I have titled this blog what I did. As being a person that continues to think about my personal security I have noticed that people seem to forget about the basic things.

Credit card information
Credit card information seems to be one of the things that I have heard a lot of stories about and how people don’t think what they are doing is wrong. Here are a couple of examples of what I have heard lately.
  • I had a problem with a hotel business centre so I emailed them and asked for a refund of the fee that they charged for me using the business centre. When I emailed them I provided my credit card information so that they didn’t have to contact me for it. This is a good example of how credit card information can be stolen if it gets into the wrong hands.
  • Yesterday I was in a hurry to get to work so I figured I would place the order over my cell phone while I was traveling to work. I didn’t want to try and waste the time at home and I knew that once I got to work I would forget so I did it while on transit to work. So what this person actually did was provided their credit card number, expiry date, three digit security code, name and address while on transit over their cell phone. Basically this person provided a vehicle full of passengers a lot of information that could be used for identity theft. If you are afraid you will forget to do this task when you are in a better place to do it sent yourself a reminder so that you can do it lately and don’t do it in transit or out in public.

Computer security
These are some situations that I have seen.
  • A computer is left unattended on a table in a food court or in a fast food restaurant while a person goes and gets some food. The person’s back is to the computer so they would never know if someone walked off it it while they were getting their food. People don’t think of how quickly a computer can go missing when your back is turned. If you are going to leave a computer unattended for any reason out in public you should be ensuring it is secured with some sort of security cable to at least slow the person down and draw attention. Invest in a security cable so that you can secure your computer to the table or even a chair so that it looks extremely odd if someone is trying to steal it.
  • Entering passwords on mobile devices in clear view of others and then leave the device and walk away. This is another situation where the person isn’t thinking that someone could send some damaging emails just by getting into this person’s mobile device. This actually did happen when I was at an IT event and an employee of the company doing the presentation did this at the table we were sitting at. Not long after seeing this the presenter mentioned how they ensure security policies within the company. Gee, I am thinking that the person at our table must have missed that presentation for employees.

Wallets and other personal items
A few very common issues I see.
  • A women has a purse on transit and forgets that with the new trend of no zippers to close the top of the purse the wallets and mobile devices are in easy reach of someone else. A purse that is open on transit is one way to lose a lot of your identification and not know it until you actually need to use your wallet or other item that was removed. This also applies when you leave a purse open out in public and have it in a position where others can see it but you can’t. Think about the purse that you purchase and will be safe when you are atually carrying your personal items in it. It might be the lastest fashion but is it going to be something that is actually going to ensure others to steal your personal items.
  • Leaving wallets and other personal items on a food court table and gets and orders food or to grab napkins or the like. A simple thing to be quickly removed from a table by someone. Don’t leave wallets or mobile devices on tables when you walk away if there is no one else to look after them.
  • Individuals carrying their credit card in a holder on the back of their mobile device or even in the case with their mobile device. People seem to forget that when you are holder your device and using it you are showing others what you are carrying with your device. Someone may not actually get a hold of the credit card but even all the devices with cameras on them it would be extremely easy to just take a picture of the information. If you are going to carry this information with your mobile device at least make sure you turn the card around so people can only see the back of the card and ensure the security number isn’t visible.

Recycling information
Everyone has seen this
  • People throwing credit card statements and other statements into the garage without destroying the vital information on them. I have even seen people sit in fast food restaurants and go through their billings and then throw the statements in the fast food restaurant garbage or sort of throw them in the garbage. The paper is left sticking out of the garbage so again easy for someone else to pick up. It is always amazing to see how many people will do this and then wonder why their identity was stolen. If you are going to be throwing out your credit card or bank statements it is best to do it at home and it is best to shred it so that no one can see the information.
  • Recycling the statements and putting them in the recycle bin at home and then put the bin out for pick up. This is just like throwing them out in a public garbage. You are leaving the personal information available for someone else to steal.

So yes, common sense really doesn’t seem to be so common any more. People are doing things so quickly now that they are not thinking of the outcome of their actions. Wallets, computers and mobile devices are stolen almost daily if not daily from food courts and fast food restaurants because they have been left unattended. Personal information is found on public streets because of how they were thrown out.

Protecting your personal property really isn’t so difficult but it does take a couple of minutes to think about what you are doing and what the possible outcomes could be.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Good Bye Inukshuk - you will be missed

Inukshuk has been part of the Toronto Zoo polar bear exhibit for years and of course it is the polar bear that I have fallen in love with.

Inukhuk became part of the Toronto Zoo family in 2003 when his mother was killed by a hunter. He hasn’t spend his entire live here as he was in a couple of different zoos but he turned to be the Father of both Hudson, Humphrey and Juno. He has played a key role in making sure that the Toronto Zoo has been able to have the polar bear cubs.

Hudson - one of Inukshuk's sons
It is now time for Inukshuk to move on and I am going to be missing this guy when we go to the Zoo because he is the one that I always look for. He is also the one that I have enjoyed taking a lot of pictures of. Inukshuk has been spending his winters up in Cochrane Ontario at a polar bear habitat and this time when he goes up he wont’ be returning to the zoo like he has in the past. The original move was scheduled for July of this year but because of the weather we had he got to stay at the zoo a bit longer.

I don’t know when a new male polar bear will be added to the Toronto Zoo exhibit but I really hope that he has the same time of personality as Inukshuk had.

Inukshuk is moving up to Cochrane at the end of September 2016, so by the time you read this blog he will be back at his winter home. I am glad that we heard that he was going to be leaving the zoo before we went because I wouldn’t have been happy to go and discover he wasn’t there.

Next time I go out to the Toronto Zoo I know that I will look for Inukshuk but at least I know that he will be enjoying his winter where it is nice and cold. He will probably be given over to another zoo for an exhibit and I hope they enjoy seeing him as much as I did.

Taking lots of pictures of Inukshuk
Inukshuk – I have loved seeing you from when you first arrived at the zoo and upon your return. I have seen you quite a few times and have lots of great pictures of you. I hope you will enjoy your new home and know that you made a lot of people smile because of your crazy little habits.
Update – Since I wrote this blog there as been an announcement that the Toronto Zoo will be getting two male polar bears in October of 2016. The bears are Hudson and Humphrey, which will be returning to the Toronto Zoo from the Winnipeg Zoo. Both of the polar bears are returning as they were born at the Toronto Zoo and Inuksuk is their father.