Wednesday, October 30, 2019

October conferences

People ask when all the conferences seem to be for the IT industry, and I can answer that by saying that October here in Toronto is a busy month for IT shows and conferences.

In October, there were two IT conferences/shows that we attended, and they were SecTor and iTech Downtown.  SecTor is a multiday conference with sessions, and an expo floor, and iTech is a one-day show with some vendors and a few sessions.  Both of these conferences/shows are entirely different, and the cost is just one of the factors.

SecTor is an IT security conference with multiple high-level sessions that are happening over two days.  The sessions are done by experts in the field, and each person must submit a paper before they are even considered to do a session.  Yes, there are vendor sessions, but those are the extra sessions and not the core of the conference.  The expo hall is full of vendors, and it is a great location to find out about what is new and available for companies that are looking for the various IT security software and training.  The cost of this conference for the two days is around $1,800 if you don’t get the early discounts. The cost of the expo hall is $50 if you don’t have the discount code that is normally on the website.

iTech Downtown is a one-day show with a few vendors and some talks.  Most of the talks are offered by the vendors, so you are looking at a more selling presentation than an informational/knowledge talk.  Yes, there are some of these talks, but not as many as at SecTor.  This show is very small, and you will get a large difference in the booths at this show from Backup solutions, telecommunication, and equipment recycling.  The cost of this conference for the day, if you have to pay, is $50.

Both conferences/shows do offer a free expo pass if you are in the industry and look for the discount code or the offers that you get via email.  We do attend both conferences and normally will do more sessions at SecTor than we do an iTech.  Also, with iTech, they offer a spring show in the west end of Toronto, so the sessions in the fall are quite often the same as were in the spring.

These are just two of the conferences that are available for the IT industry, and I know that there are more.  A lot of the conferences are based on a product or core area, so it depends on what you are involved in, which conferences are best for you.  Sure, there are always difference conferences that you can go to and the price of attending various depending on what the conference actually offers.  There are some conferences/shows that are general IT, and then there are conferences/shows that are quite specific, so check to see what you want out of the event you attend.

If you are looking to attend IT conferences in Toronto, there will be events in the spring from March through June, and then there are the various other conferences in September through early November.  The best way to find some of these conferences is to talk to people in the industry as they will know of some of them as well as doing some research yourself. You could spend a lot of your time going to various shows/conferences, but you need to figure out what you want to learn and what is important to you.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Small Business

Definition of small business:
A privately-owned and operated business with relatively small turnover and staff numbers, typically seen as constituting part of a specific commercial or economic sector. Typically, a small business employs fewer than 100 workers and has revenues of less than $25 million. 

Running a small business can have its challenges, and sometimes the biggest challenges are how we are treated by other businesses.

Recently we have been trying to set up a couple of new partnerships, and both of them seem to have their challenges.  I understand that there are some big businesses, but nowadays, most businesses are small businesses, and that needs to be understood. When dealing with the smaller businesses, individuals have to understand that you never know who you are talking to when you call.  The person answering the phone could be one of the business owners or could be a staff member.  Treat whoever answers the phone with respect and never refer to them as “the receptionist.”  One big clue that the person is not a receptionist is the greeting you get.  When we answer our phones, even when we are not sure who it is calling, we will state the company name and then our name.  If you know a little bit about our business, you will clue in that you have reached one of the owners.

Small businesses like dealing with other small businesses because normally we treat each other the way we want to be treated.  In several ways, we understand the challenges that small business deals with and know how we want to be treated by others.  My feeling is, I want to ensure that I treat all our clients the way I want to be treated by others. I also want to treat any vendors and possible clients in the same way because they will help build our business.  I understand that everyone can have a rough day and not always be happy, but everyone is as important as the next person.

Recently we have been dealing with one company and the person calling hasn’t been the nicest to the person answering the phone.  The person answering the phone is one of the owners of the business (me), and during one call, he was rather upset that the other person wasn’t available to immediately take his call.  Emergencies with clients happen, so even a scheduled appointment might have to be changed when you are dealing with a small business.  Now the call got rescheduled and handled, so that was ok.  Now the salesperson called again today and expected to talk to the other owner, and as I handed over the phone, I commented that “at least he was friendlier today.”  Normally I wouldn’t have said this, but after yesterday, I was frustrated with how he had treated me.  Well, it ended up he heard what I said and has now sent an apology to “the receptionist.”  I think he is going to be digging himself out of that comment for a while, as I am also one of the decision-makers for the business.

The other vendor thinks it is easy to get into discussions with clients and provide them with answers in future meetings.  In most cases with small businesses, you have one chance to talk about something, and if you can’t even give them a ballpark cost, they don’t want to talk about it any longer.  I know in several cases if I am in a meeting let me know a cost (even an estimate) before I waste my time, otherwise I am not interested.

Small businesses don’t have a lot of time to spend in meetings. If we are in a meeting where you are trying to sell me something, please let me know a cost (even an estimate) before I waste my time, otherwise I am not interested.  A small business can be a challenge, but understand how they want to be treated and treating each person with respect can go a long way. If you are going to be calling a business to try and do business with them, do a little bit of homework first. Find out the size of the business because that could make a difference in how to approach them. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Common Etiquette in Public Places

Here is something that I have been thinking about for a while and have finally started to write this blog post about things that I have seen and things that are frustrating to me. 

Mobile device
Have you noticed that a lot of people think that using their mobile device in speaker mood in public is correct?  I have noticed that a lot of people think that listening to a phone conversation that they are having with the speaker on makes it easier for them to hear the person.  I have news for them, the person on the other end of the conversation is hearing a lot of additional noise that they don’t need to hear.  When you are using the speaker part of your phone, you are capturing all the other sounds around you as well, and nine times out of 10 the other person is having trouble hearing you until you are talking right into the mic.  When you are in public places, everyone else shouldn’t be able to hear both sides of the conversation that you are having.  If you have a challenge being able to hear the other person when you are taking a call, try to use some headphones as they will help you hear the person a lot better and mobile device headphones are available with a mic included.

Video viewing
The ability to watch videos on mobile devices is a wonderful thing to a point.  Now the reason I say to a point is that people think that watching a video in restaurants, food courts or even in malls is enjoyable for everyone.  Well, I have some news for you, and that is not everyone wants to hear what you are watching and listening to.  If you want to watch videos while you are enjoying your coffee, etc. please put some headphones on so that you can enjoy it and everyone else around you can enjoy their coffee.

I love when people are using headphones to listen to their music or videos when they are in the person’s ears.  I have seen people with headphones just around their neck so that they can hear the music they want.  Now remember when the headphones are around your neck people around you can also hear the music, and they might not want to listen to what you are listening to.  Headphones are to be used over the ears.  I know on public transit there is a policy that if you are listening to music, you should only be able to hear it, but no one seems to enforce this.  I think this is a policy that transit drivers need to start enforcing so that other riders can also enjoy their trip.

Mobile devices can be very handy when you are out and about and have some time to kill.  I know that I have music, books and videos on my device all the time, but I also ensure that I have my headphones on when I decide it is time to enjoy some of those sounds out in public.  My taste in music might not be someone else’s taste, and they don’t want to hear only part of the video or book, so I ensure that I am the only one that can hear what I am listening to.  When I take my phone calls, it is either holding the device up to my ear, or using my hands-free earpiece, which means I hear the conversation, but no one else does.

Mobile devices are a great thing to have, but remember that your taste in music and videos is your taste and not everyone else.  When you are out in public, remember that making sure that only you can hear your stuff is important.  I am not saying don’t watch the videos or listen to your music when you are out, all I am asking is that you use some headphones so that I don’t have to listen to what you are watching or listening to.  Some common sense makes everything a little more enjoyable for everyone.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Getting a new computer

There are so many questions that need to be answered when you start to think about getting a new computer.  There are ones that seem very easy, and then there are the questions that will need to take a bit of time, so here are some of the questions that I had to answer when we got my new computer:
  • What brand or brands are you looking at?
  • What screen size do you want?
  • What size hard drive or SSD would you like to have?
  • How much memory (RAM) should the computer have?
  • What operating system do you want?  Do you want personal or professional?
  • What is your budget?
  • Do you want a number pad on the keyboard?
  • Which style of keyboard do you want?  Do you want the US keyboard or the Canadian Bilingual keyboard (yes, there are different keyboards)?
  • Do you want a computer that becomes a tablet?
  • Do you care about the weight of the machine?
  • Are you willing to purchase a refurbished machine, or do you want a brand new one?
  • How quickly do you want the machine?

Of course, everyone will have different questions that need to be answered, and these are just a few of the questions that I had to answer before we were able to pick the computer that I got. For us, we needed one that would meet the needs that I have for work, as this isn’t just a computer that is only used for personal use.  Like a lot of people, my computer is both for home and work, so it needs to meet several different demands.

By starting to answer some of the questions that are listed, you will start to see the makes and models that you can start to consider.  If there is a specific brand that you want, the best idea is to go to that website and see if you can customize a machine with everything that you want in a machine.  One thing that you will find is which options are available for the various models and also how much your ideal machine could cost you.

Getting a new computer does require a lot of thinking, and prices can vary depending on if you want a brand-new model or are willing to have a model that is a little order.  Prices don’t vary very much from store to store  (unless you can find a sale like Boxing Day or Back to School), but models and availability can, so that is something else you need to consider.  Doing your homework on which machines you are looking at and then going to some of the different stores to look at what is available can assist you in making the decision.  One of the things that are important to me is the feel of the keyboard considering all the writing that I do, so that means that I need to know that the keyboard is comfortable to use.  I need the US keyboard for my typing as I am a touch typist and the enter key and shift key on the right-hand side are used quite a bit.

When all the questions are answered, you will probably have a good idea of the computer or computers that you are comparing.  Another good thing to do is to look online and see if there are reviews done on the models that you are considering.  The reviews can also mean that you might see something that will make or break a decision before you make the purchase.

Answering the questions can take a bit of time, but at least then you will have a machine that you should be happy with.  Sure, you can go and buy the first machine that you see, but it might not be what you wanted or even like once it is home, so spending a bit of time thinking through all the options could help a lot.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Finding what helps you relax

There are so many ways that you can find to relax, and I am going to try and describe some of the ways that I have found work for me. I am only going to explain a few of the ways that I relax, and it will depend on the amount of time that I have what I do.

I am one of those individuals that find sitting and working on a project with my hands makes me happy, and I can also normally relax while doing it. For me, sitting in the evening and find a project that I can work on for a little while makes me happy.  I am not a mono crafter as I normally have several projects on the go so, I can work on something no matter how much time I have and what energy level I have.  The main craft techniques that I do are:
·         Crocheting
·         Knitting
·         Cross stitch

For me, picking up a pencil and some paper and drawing makes me happy.  It isn’t something that I do enough of, and I need to figure out how to get back to doing the things that I enjoy doing. I am not a great artist, but I do enjoy sitting and making some fun drawings when I have some time.

Now, this is something that most people wouldn’t find relaxing, but I find that when I am sitting and working on my journal, I can relax.

Watching sports:
For me, sitting and watching either baseball or hockey on television is great and also relaxing, but I also need to do be doing something with my hands when I am doing that.  I am not a person that can sit and watch television for hours without doing something else.  It is always interesting to see that when I am watching something on television, I need to do something; otherwise, I will fall asleep.

For me, doing something with my hands is a way to help me relax.  I know that being able to get through some projects also makes me feel so much better.  I know that for me, my crafting is a way to refocus my mind and also quieten some of the thoughts and ideas that have been bouncing around in my head throughout the day.  At the end of the day or on the weekend I can normally find a little bit of time to do something with my hands and seeing some progress on something no matter what it makes me happy.  I may not have a lot of time to do anything in the evenings, but even the few minutes of crafting can make such a difference in how I sleep. 

Everyone has their own ways of relaxing and for me just sitting and watching television doesn’t work, where for others it does.  Some people may play video games or read or go for a walk to relax, and those are all good ideas, and it just depends on the person.  I know in the summer we go for walks in the evening, and I find that relaxing, but again I still need that few minutes of just sitting and meditating with my crafting.

Find what makes you happy and what helps you relax because making sure that you find some time to do the relaxing is important. In the world today, we are normally rushing around, so having a bit of time to yourself at the end of a day can make a big difference.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Stitch Maynia, why the stress?

What is Stitch Maynia:
Originally started in May 2015 as a stitch along for fifteen new starts the first fifteen days of May, Stitch Maynia (get it, May? Maynia?) has grown into an open, welcoming, fun cross-stitch community!

Yes, Stitch Maynia is a thing that happens in May each year, and I sit back and watch as people decided that they are going to be working on in May. Here are some of the ideas I have seen this year:
  • Going to start one project each day in May (yes, that is 31 new projects started)
  • Going to start one project a week (this is only five new projects)
  • Going to only work on one project for the entire month.
  • Going to work on each one of my projects for a day this month (yes, they have more than 31 projects on the go)
  • Going to finish a project and then start working on another one of the projects that I have on the go.
  • I am going to stitch 31 stitches a day on a project during the month.
  • Stitch Maynia? It doesn’t matter to me.

In a lot of cases, I have seen people kit up 31 projects so that they can start all of them during the month. Sure, that means that they will have a lot of projects to work on during the rest of the year, but why can’t they start each project at any time during the year. I have been following this idea for a couple of years now, and what makes me laugh is when you hear people at the beginning of Maynia say that they have only finished 2 of the projects that they started last year. They haven’t made a lot of progress, and that means that they may end up with 60 projects on the go with only a day of work done on them.

For me, Stitch Maynia is watching everyone else stress about trying to make progress on things or make new starts. I continue to start projects when I want to start them, and if I happen to start a couple of projects in May (like I did this year) that is fine, but I am not going to stress about what I did or didn’t get done.

If you are going to stress about making new starts or how much stitching, you can achieve each day, or during a specific month, I feel it isn’t worth it. Sure, it is fun being part of a community and sharing what you have accomplished, but there are several other Facebook groups and communities. Other groups, you can be part of, and you can share your new starts and your progress and finishes, and there isn’t the stress of how many starts did you achieve in a month.

Stitching is a hobby, and if it starts to cause you a lot of stress, then it has turned from enjoyment to something else. A hobby is a way to help you relax and find enjoyment so that is what it should be and if you enjoy what you are doing and can do the starts that is great but not everyone is the same, and for me, Stitch Maynia is doing what I enjoy and how I enjoy it.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Writing for fun versus writing for work

There are quite a few people; me included, that write for both fun and work.  The writing styles that we use are different for each of the various pieces of writing we are working on. 

Writing for fun, this is something that I do when I am writing my craft blog because my crafting is what I do to relax, and it is fun, so I want to ensure that when I write the blog, I am showing some fun in my writing style.  I understand that not everyone understands that you can have a different writing style for the different parts of your life, but it is common.

Writing for work, now this is what I do for clients and when I write my other blog.  The writing style that I use then is a lot different from when I am writing my craft blog, and it should be.  The work writing is a lot clearer and to the point where I need to get the details out, and that is it. 

I have the experience of someone reading my two different blogs and not realizing they were both written by me.  Yes, this shows that there can be two different writing styles used by one person and that you can achieve a different imagine just by how you write.  There are days when writing for fun isn’t something that comes too easily, but I can write the work items with no problem and vice versa.  Yes, writing is a challenge, and it is something that we need to work on and get everything done that needs to get done.  One of my tricks is that I normally have both work and fun writing that I need to do and when one isn’t working, I will quickly flip to working on the other and get that one done.  I have found that once I have been able to work on one style of writing for a while, the other method is a lot easier to do because it is a change.

I have heard authors say that they can write a lot of short stories easily, but the novel is a challenge and then other authors can write the 100,000-word novel, but a short story isn’t something they can manage to do.  These are the challenges that they face, and they understand how to handle them, like I know how to manage the problems that I manage.

Writing for work and writing for fun are both things that I enjoy doing.  Sure, people that understand that I write for work may not know that I can have two different styles, but I can.  I have also been able to say to some people that if they don’t like my fun writing, they don’t have to read it because I am not going to change that writing style as that is how I want to write those blogs.  Writing for me is something that I do most of the day every day, so I need to ensure that I am enjoying the writing that I am doing.  My goals with my writing are to ensure that I can keep the clients happy with what I write for work, and that I can keep myself happy with the writing that I do for me.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Wearing many hats in a business

I think a lot of small business individuals know that they are going to be wearing several hats as there just isn’t the staff to do each job separately. The wearing of many hats can be something that you do daily, or then there are the times that you will be wearing many hats in one day. I know that there are times that as a business co-owner, the number of hats that are juggled in a day can be quite a few. Sure, it is something that you realize when you start the business and for some people, I think it is something they only realize after the business is started. I think some small business owners forget that when they first start the business that they are going to be the person doing everything, and sometimes the list of things to be done can be rather long.

For us, the habit of wearing many hats is something that we do, and I don’t think we think about it very often until someone asks who does a certain task. In our business, there are some tasks that only one of us does regularly, but in a lot of cases, the tasks could be done by the other person. Sure, we both have what we are the expert on, but if things start to get extremely busy, we can hand some of our tasks off to the other person.

There are days when you can sit and work on one job and that is all that you do, and it feels great and then there are the other days when it seems like there are so many little tasks that need to be done and of course they are all a little different in nature. As a small business co-owner, there isn’t the staff where you can delegate tasks to and know that they are going to be done by someone else. In our case, we can sometimes ask the other person to help out or do the task, but in a lot of cases, the task is just part of another hat that we wear for the business.

We often laugh when people talk about some of the joys of being a small business owner, and yes, there are a lot of jobs. One comment people make is that as a small business owner you don’t have a boss, but in reality, when you are a co-owner of a business you do have a boss, and it is the other co-owner and even yourself. See, so we do wear many hats when it comes to being a small business owner, and that is part staff and part boss, and sometimes both of those happen at the same time.

As a small business co-owner, I love wearing the many hats in our business as it means that daily there can be a lot of variety in the job. Sure, there can be a lot of fires that need to be put out all at once, but at least at the end of the day, you know that you have done a good job. Being your own boss can be a challenge sometimes because you have to figure out the priority of the various tasks, but in a lot of cases, the priority is figured out pretty quickly.

Wearing many hats in a small business is normal, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I enjoy the job and the variety that we deal with, and at least we know that in our case there are two of us that are accountable to each other, and we love that.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

I am who I am

Have you ever had someone try and change who you are? Well, I am going to tell you it is difficult, and it just isn’t going to happen.

I use the words “I am who I am” to explain that I am happy with who I am and that I am not going to let other people try and change me to be what they expect me to be. Sure, I may listen to the person and if it is something that I also see that could be improved I will work on changing it, but I will not let anyone dictate who I should be and how I should act. It is amazing how many people will try and make you fit what they expect even when it isn’t who you are, and it is never going to be you.

I have heard people say that I should be taller, or I should be thinner. Yes, I know I would like to be a little thinner than I am, but at my age, I won’t be growing any taller, so that is something that just isn’t going to happen. Being a certain shape is something that I manage, and I will not let anyone force me to change my shape if it isn’t something that I would end up happy with. I have been extremely skinny before, and I had to admit, sure it was nice in some ways, but I wasn’t happy so why would I want to go back to being that person again.

What is important is making sure that you are happy with yourself and changing just because you want to make someone else happy isn’t a good idea, but you aren’t going to be happy with the results no matter what. The reason you change is to make yourself happy, and that is the biggest reason to make any changes. Sure, people can make suggestions, but that is all they are and that is how you should hear them. If someone doesn’t like how you act or how you look, remember it is just their personal opinion, and you don’t need to make them happy if it isn’t going to make you happy as well.

Pleasing others instead of pleasing yourself isn’t good for you, and that is something that everyone needs to understand. Knowing that you are happy with who you are and being able to stand with your head up high is what is important. Being you and not letting others try and change you to just meet their expectations is important. We are all a little different and no matter if you change for one person, you aren’t going to make someone else happy, so that is something else you need to remember.

I am who I am is what I say to people that try and change me and I know that as long as I am happy with me, and I please some people especially those that love me unconditionally, I will remain that person that I am happy with.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Social media

It is amazing how many people think that Facebook is a place where someone else will help them with everything, especially if they are in a group.

I belong to a number of groups on Facebook and have seen some very interesting questions that people have asked. Here are some of the questions that I have seen and some of my thoughts about them:

1. I’m in desperate need of a new project, haven’t crocheted in months! What’s everyone working on?
I immediately see this and think you belong to a group that shows projects that people are working on so why do you have to ask to see things, just scroll down the page, and you will see a lot of projects that are just finished or are being worked on currently.

2. Are there any patterns that would be considered beachy? I searched the site and didn’t see any.
What site are you looking at because this is a Facebook group, but you really didn’t give us enough information? This is something that I have seen very often when someone mentions that they have checked the site, but they don’t say the site they have looked at.

3. Where can I find free patterns?
Now this question is from the Crochet Crowd Social Facebook page, and it does make me laugh because it is a group for people that crochet and know about the Crochet Crowd website. There is an entire Crochet Crowd website, which is identified in the group, that has patterns and a lot of other information provided, so why not check there. My other reply might have been have you googled “free crochet patterns” and what you want to make, or are we supposed to guess what you are looking for.

4. Where can I find tutorials on learning how to crochet?
Now this question is from the Crochet Crowd Social Facebook page, and it does make me laugh because it is a group for people that crochet and know about the Crochet Crowd website. There is an entire website (The Crochet Crowd) that has access to tutorials and a lot of other information provided, so why not check there. Again, the website is identified in the group.

5. Where can I find a pattern to make a shawl for myself?
My immediate answer to this question would have you tried googling for ideas, or have you checked out Ravelry, which is quite often found through the various Google searches? Of course, there are times that I just scroll by these questions because I think it is best, otherwise my answer wouldn’t be very friendly. I understand that when you are in a group, you can get help from other members of the group, but the idea is also not to use the group as your personal Google.

As you can see, there can be some very interesting questions asked within social media and especially Facebook. I understand that not everyone knows how to use Google extremely well, but at least trying to find things and then asking for help is better. I have seen some questions in one group, and they are very clear, and it makes you feel good.

Here is one of those questions:
1. I'm looking for a chart, but I can't remember the name of it or who the artist was. The chart had an owl flying a key to a lock in the ground. It was a relatively recent release. I remember it being a very beautiful chart with lots of soft colours. I've put every keyword I can think of into the search bar, and I am coming up with nothing (though my wish list keeps getting bigger every time I try to find this thing). Can anyone help me out in identifying the chart that doesn't want to be found?
This question was on the Heaven and Earth Design Facebook group and of course the person provided enough information that someone was very quickly able to tell them the name of the patter as well as the designer. This is the type of question that I enjoy seeing because at least it gives enough information so that people know you have done some looking and just need a little bit of help.

Social media is something that a lot of us understand and are part of, but knowing when not to reply to a question that is posted is something that I have learned to do. If you are part of a group and have a question, make sure that you are asking the right type of question and also try and show that you have done some of your own research before asking your question. You will probably be surprised at the type of answer you will get, and it will probably help you a lot more than just asking a general question.

The other thing that really bothers me about some groups is when people ask what is on your hook tonight or spam me with ideas for a baby girl afghan. Both aren’t great for the group because it just means that one thread ends up with a lot of pictures but no descriptions, and they really aren’t very useful. Think before you ask this type of questions because remember with all the various groups there are it can get overwhelming to see all of this type of chatter.

If you are working on something or have finished something, and you think the group would like to see it, go ahead and post it and remember you will probably be asked a few questions about it so if you have to answer them in your original post it makes things a lot easier for everyone.

Social media is something that can be very helpful when you are looking for things, but that is after you have done your own searches. Remember Facebook isn’t a replacement for Google so try that first and then when all else fails ask a question in a group but make sure the question is clear.