Monday, April 27, 2015

Fast food restaurants and free wifi

Have you noticed that a lot of fast food restaurants seem to be busier than they were before? Yes there are more people going to the various restaurants but I don’t think they are buying any more than the few people did. What I have noticed is a lot more of the tables have only one person at the table and they are normally on either a tablet or computer doing something. These people normally have a coffee or something to drink but they spend more time than others taking up a table. Quite often these people are also taking up a table for four instead of a table for two.

I think the restaurants figured it would be a good thing as it would help their customers but what it has resulted in is fewer tables being available for those of us that really want to eat there. I know that I have got my little computer out a few times to write out some quickly but I don’t spend hours sitting in that restaurant nursing that one cup.

For me the only times that I will use the wifi at a fast food restaurant is when we are traveling and I am looking up directions to somewhere. I don’t use the restaurant wifi to check my email or do anything secure because I don’t know who else is on the wifi and what they are doing.

I know that even coffee shops with free wifi are getting busier with people that are spending hours sitting there. I have walked into some of these coffee shops and quickly walked out because there were no seats for people wanting to have food.

If you are planning on sitting for quite a while in a fast food restaurant try and be considerate of others. Please don’t go there just before lunch and take up a large table just for yourself and yours computer. If you really need to use the wifi for something make sure you are willing to accept that others may want to sit with you when the restaurant starts to get busy.

Fast food restaurants and wifi are great for those traveling as it gives them a place to check in or do the research that they need. A fast food restaurant shouldn’t be a place where you sit for hours and do your homework or such.

One word of advice when using the wifi at these restaurants remember you are using a free and public wifi and you don’t know who else is on it. Keep your private things for when you are in an area with a private wifi and internet connection because you don’t want others to learn your passwords or credit card information.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Times have changed

I want to do a bit of a comparison about how times have changed from when I was growing up until now. Of course it has been quite a few years since I was a child and things have really changed in a number of ways. Here a few things that we didn't have when I was growing up:
  • mobile devices
  • tablets
  • computers at home
  • internet wasn't something we knew about
  • computer games

So I guess what I am really saying is we didn't have the technology that children now a days have grown up with. Of course these are the children that can probably teach me how to use that tablet better than I could figure out myself. Children are the quick learners and they also teach us a lot of other things as well.

Here is what we had when I was growing up:
  • We could play outside without our parents worrying
  • Walking to school alone was acceptable
  • Knowing all the neighbours was something normal.
  • When our parents wanted some time without us we would get “go outside and play”

Here is what children have now:
  • Someone has to walk the children to school
  • Playing outside is now done with supervision
  • People don't know the neighbours because of various schedules
  • When parents want some time they say “go play a video game”

Yes times have really changed since I grew up and in some cases for the better and in some cases for the worse. I don't see children outside playing as much anymore because we don't know who is watching them. The means of entertaining a children is to put on a video game or even some youtube channels and you have entertained the child. What about the basic exercise that we had by running around in the neighbour that is something that children don't have now.

Times have really changed since I grew up and maybe just to have a few of those things back would be nice. I would like where children could play outside more and parents didn't have to worry as much. A means of entertaining a children were the basic toys or paper and glue. The simple things that made us happy aren't there any longer and the children now-a-days have missed some of the fun of letting your imagination just go and the monsters we saw were only in our dreams and under our beds or in our closets.

If you have children try to help me know that not everything is bad in the world today and show them some of the fun things that you did growing up. An imagination is something that is important and helping a child develop that skills can really help them in their future.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Designing with software

Over the last year I am been working on using some software to assist me in designing some cross-stitch patterns. I do say assist because I just don't let the software do the work and then I stitch it. For me there are a number of other things that I do with the image and the pattern that the software generates.

  • When it comes to the image I made sure that the colours are bright enough so that the software can see the different colours otherwise everything is going to be one colour when there should be lots of colours.
  • Is the background something that is easy to remove or am I going to be spending hours and hours trying to remove it.
  • Is the image something that could be easily translated into cross-stitch. Yes you can convert any image into a pattern but is it something that is going to be enjoyable to stitch.

Once I have made these decisions and am going to use a selected image I then convert it and then the work with the actual pattern begins.

  • Before even getting the image into the software there are a couple of decisions that need to be made. What size do I want the image to be when it is stitched and on what stitch count for the fabric. The size is going to be the basic size when it is stitched so I don't want the images to be huge otherwise no one will stitch it.
  • Once the pattern has been generated I still spend a lot of time on the actual pattern.
    • First – work on removing the background if I wasn't able to do that before the pattern was generated and sharpen the blending on the edges of the actual design.
    • Second – how many colours of floss are used when the pattern is generated and it is realistic. If the colour number is too large I then start working to reduce the colours and make it a little easier and enjoyable to stitch.
    • Third – how many stitches use each colour of floss. I am one of those that if I don't have to purchase a skein a floss for just a few stitches I am very happy. The first colours I try and change are for colours with less than 10 stitches on a standard size pattern. The only time I will keep a colour with under 10 stitches is if they are key to the design.
    • Fourth – start looking at the colours again and see if they can be reduced a little bit more so that single stitches aren't all over the pattern.
    • Fifth – print out the pattern so that I can sit back and look at it and how much floss it is going to take to do the design.

Items read y for stitching
Once the pattern has been revised to what I think I will actually stitch I then get out the collection of floss and start kitting the design so that it is ready for stitching. For me the kitting involves using index cards and putting some of each colour onto the cards so that I can stitch quickly. The other part of the kitting is putting all the floss colours onto a ring so that I have just those colours I think I will need available. All of this including the fabric go into a zipped bag so that it is ready for when I can actually start the stitching.

  • Work on stitching the piece and check for changes that need to be made on the actual pattern and make them on the working copy.
  • Take pictures after each stitching time to track progress on image as this assists in making sure colours look good.

Piece being stitched and pattern modified
After piece is stitched
  • Go back to the generated pattern and make the changes to the pattern that were noted during the actual stitching.

So yes it may sound like getting some software can be easy for working with an image but there are still a lot of things that need to be considered.

Now before you think you can just stitch and sell patterns of anything you need to remember copyright laws and intellectual property. If the image is something you took great than you own it if it is someone else's work you need to get their permission to use it. Remember, even if you do get permission that permission can be revoked at any time and if that happens just move onto your next project. Places, planes and certain images can still be something you cannot stitch and sell even if you took the picture yourself.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Allergies and dealing with them

I am one of those individuals that deals with allergies, asthma as well as anaphylaxis. So for those that don't know what anaphylaxis is, it is the severe allergic reaction that could cause death if not treated. Anaphylaxis isn't just for food it can be for medication as well. I am anaphylaxis to some foods as well as codeine so it is something I deal with every day of my life now. I wasn't allergic to much growing up but the food and codeine allergies seemed to develop once I was an adult.

With regards to the food allergies I do have problems as sometimes people don't understand what I am saying to them. Here are some of the things that I deal with:
  • When you ask if you can bring me something for lunch and I say no due to my allergies please understand. It's not that I don't appreciate the offer it's just with the life threatening or even allergies to things it makes it difficult for me to enjoy different foods.
  • I know what I can and cannot have and sometimes even a small change in a diet can cause a bigger impact than it is worth. Please don't try and tell me what I am allergic or intolerant to because you will probably be wrong.
  • The food itself may not cause me problems but it could simply be a combination of what I normally have and this new item could result in me having issues.
  • So often people have offered to bring something for me and it is difficult to say no as I don't want to hurt their feelings, but I have to say no and explain why.
  • The nicest thing you could do for me is understand that I have allergies and know that the best thing you can do for me is understand.

Recently a couple of us were discussing going out for a lunch and I had to say no because of all the food allergies and intolerances that I deal with. Of course, if you don't live with these reactions it can be harder to understand why I have to avoid some restaurants or meals. I have learned how to deal with my issue myself and thankfully I have a wonderful husband who assists me in dealing with them when I get too tired of dealing with them.

For me, I think one of the biggest challenges is that I was able to eat most of the stuff that I am now allergic to when I was growing up. Finding out that I was allergic to foods like pineapple and raspberries were very hard as it meant that I had to give up some of my favourite foods. I know that these foods taste like and having to walk away from them has been hard.

Allergies especially to food can be a challenge at the best of times. Of course it means you have to always be checking and double checking ingredients and even then you may miss a change.

Please understand I appreciate the offers of going out for lunch or you bringing me something as a treat but I can't take the chances. If you really want to get me something that I would like maybe an African violet plant as it doesn't cause me issues and I do like them.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Phone call scams about your computer

It seems that recently a lot of us have been receiving that call about our computer and the virus that we have or the spam our computer is sending out.

These calls are in some cases a lot of fun because if I am in the right mood I can make the person work for a while. Of course I don't do anything that they ask me to do but continue to ask them to verify which computer they are referring too. It can be interesting when you ask them that question because they automatically say the one connected to the internet. What makes me laugh was the call that I got this morning and the guy on the phone told me it didn't matter which computer it was as they all have the same id on the internet. Gee, maybe if you are calling from a computer and complaining about my computer doing something wrong you better know a bit about computers.

I know a couple of people that have actually started to let these individuals making the calls get access to their machines. I can only say that when you get calls like this you never give the person calling any remote access to your computer as you don't know what they could be installing on your computer. You could lose a lot of confidential information by just giving the access for even a couple of minutes.

One call that my husband received meant that the person calling was on the phone for over 30 minutes with my husband. The person making the call didn't realize that he was talking to an IT professional even when my husband was asking a great deal of technical questions. The best calls are when you are transferred to the individuals boss and they still don't get it that we are just pulling their legs and wasting time with them.

If your computer is really causing problems on the internet it would be your service provider that would contact you. When your service provider contacts you they would know a great deal about your system and even what service you are getting from them. My best suggestion is when you get a call from someone saying that your computer is causing problems on the internet is to say thanks. If it is your service provider, hang up and call them back so that you know you have called into the service area that you know and not just any number.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Excuses for not writing

I decided to write up some of the excuses I have heard from people about why they don't write.
  • I have too much to do.
  • I don't have time to sit and do it
  • I have nothing to write about
  • No one will want to reach what I write
  • I'm not good enough at it
  • My ideas are silly
  • Something else always gets in the way
  • I have too many ideas and can't focus on one

These are some of the reasons/excuses I have heard about why someone isn't writing and they keep saying that they want to be a writer. Maybe they aren't going to be the best writer or the fastest writer but at least they will get some enjoyment out of the actual process of sitting down and putting words to paper. I think the best reason/excuse I heard was “I can't write anything on a computer file because if I am writing on there it has to be perfect otherwise it isn't good enough and I spend way too much time editing what I wrote. I can only do my writing on paper and it takes forever to get a thought down.” If this person saw some of my writing on my journals they would wonder what I was thinking but at least I get the thoughts down quickly and then work on making them sound better.

I for one did use a lot of those excuses earlier and then I decided that I just had to take the time to sit down and try to write. I have to admit that not everything I write is ever seen by any one other than myself but at least I sit down and write.

One of the biggest things that I did for myself was to set up a spreadsheet to track my word count each day for my journal and blog writing that I do. This spreadsheet has been going on since 2013 and I track each day and if I wrote and how many words actually made it to paper/computer document. Of course I have seen that at the beginning I missed a lot of days because I just couldn't find the time to sit and write. For me making myself accountable for sitting and actually getting a few words down onto paper each day helped me in a number of ways. I am no longer afraid of that blank slate any longer because I know that just being able to get a few words done normally starts the process for the rest of my writing. The practice of writing has made it so much easier to write when I need to write something for work or my blogs. This spreadsheet also shows me how many days in a row I have been able to write and that is also motivating for me. As of this morning I have reached 449 consecutive days of writing. Maybe not always a lot of words but at least I have written something.

I know that I used a lot of excuses when I started writing and the biggest one was I wasn't good enough. Maybe I am not the faster writer or the greatest writer but at least I enjoy what I am going. Yes, when you start writing you are going to come up with a million excuses why you aren't writing but you have to tell yourself that these are just excuses and sit down and try. One of the first exercises is to write out all your different excuses and then see how you can know them off that list.