Friday, October 30, 2015

Changing seasons

Looking out my window I am seeing that the seasons are changing. I have had the opportunity to enjoy some nice fall colours from my office window and that has been great. Now the leaves are falling and the trees are starting to look bare and dull.

Seeing all the different fall colours is nice when you can just look at them and dream. I know that there have been times this fall that I have just looked at the colours and remembered growing up. I have always loved the fall colours and walking in the leaves and kicking them around. I think a lot of kids love playing in the fallen leaves and I was one of them. Being able to help rake the leaves was always fun because after you made a pile you could either jump in them or for me it was running through them kicking the leaves all over the place again.

I am not a person that enjoys winter but I do enjoy all the oranges and reds that the leaves turn in the fall. If I could skip winter I would be a lot happier because the other three seasons I enjoy so I guess having one that I don't like isn't so bad.

The clocks changing is another indication of the changing seasons and we are going to be facing that this weekend. It will be getting darker earlier in the evenings starting Sunday but at least it is a little brighter in the mornings for a little while.

Fall is slowing fading here and next it will be winter. At least sitting here right now I can enjoy the last little bits of the colours that I can see. Seasons change and everyone has a season that they enjoy the most and mine would be spring when everything comes alive again. So, yes I love the fall colours and the leaves on the ground but spring is for me.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Asking IT for support

So many people forget that there is one very important role of themselves when they are asking IT for support. The role of the end user is to explain the problem that they are having and in some cases being the hands and eyes for the IT person.

We ran into a situation a while ago with an end user that would run into a problem and as soon as she had notified us about it, would basically run away. The person didn't want to help solve the problem and in a lot of cases the words we got were “it doesn't work so fix it”. Now the problem with that type of explanation is we have no clue what they were doing or even what the problem really is.

If as an end user you are experiencing an issue, be it with some software or something else with regards to your computer, it's important to communicate effectively with the IT person. It doesn't work makes it very hard to figure out if the actual issue is a computer problem or if the end user is doing something incorrectly. If there is an error message that is popping up, make sure that you tell IT what you were doing when the message popped up because that might help figure out what the problem really is.

In our situation the person just wouldn't be the hands and eyes for us as they had access to the computer and we were not in the same location. It was “it didn't work” and that was it which means that as an IT individual you get frustrated because there really isn't a way to figure out what the problem is without having to go on-site and deal with the computer yourself. If you are asking for help from someone in IT make sure that the problem is clearly explained and you are going to be available to answer the questions that are going to arise.

IT does the best that they can do and of course most IT individuals are not mind readers so we can't know what you were doing when the problem occurred. If remote access isn't part of what has been asked of us, remember, we can't see the screen that you are referring to so some communication is going to be very important. Making sure that as an end user that you can help IT when you say “It doesn't work” will mean that it will probably get fixed a lot faster than if you just throw you hands up and run away.

Asking an IT person for help can sometimes be frustrated because yes you are going to lose a bit of work time but you asked for the help so you need to remember that. IT individuals don't know how every piece of software works even if they have installed it. The IT person is responsible for installing the software and the end user is the one that needs to know all the little bits that make the software work for them.

In our case we did go to site and get the problem resolved which was wonderful. Having the hands and eyes might have made it quicker but that we don't know. Also before you scream that something isn't working do a bit of checking yourself as you might solve the problem without ever calling the IT person.

Sunday, October 25, 2015


Yes, this is a topic that I experienced while dealing with a sports injury and it really bothered me. Part of it people not looking at what is around them but the other part is how I was specifically treated while in a store.

I recently sprained my ankle and was told to help it heal quicker that I should use crutches for a few days to help me get around. Now, crutches are something that you see a lot of especially as a result of some sort of sports injury so they aren't something new. Well, we decided that even with me being on crutches it would be good to get out and get some walking in so we headed off to a mall so that I could do the walking without dealing with the weather as well.

It is interesting watching people walking around a mall because so many people don't seem to look ahead to see what is in front of them. There were instances that people were pretty close to walking into me before they even noticed I was there. Of course, the crutches mean that I can't move out of the way as quickly as I normally would so I had to stop a few times to avoid being walked into. This wasn't too bad an issue it was what happened in a store that really got to me.

During the mall walk I said that I wanted to go into one store to look for a top that I have seen in a different location but not my size. I walked into the store and the sales person was there greeting customers as they came in but I didn't get a greeting but the person behind me did. Now that was the start of the visit into the store. I was looking for a specific top and was trying to see where it would be located in the store. A couple of other sales people walked by me without even acknowledging me or asking if I could use any assistance. I finally got into one area of the store to see if I could find the top only to be asked by a sales person to move so that they could hang up something close to where I was standing. The sales person got rather upset when I said that she would have to walk around a display to get to the area because it wasn't so easy for me to move quickly on the crutches (I don't think she even thought about that issue). Again, I wasn't asked if I was looking for something or just browsing. The final issue was when I was trying to head out of the store and I had ended up close to the fitting rooms and as I was making my way through one small area another sales lady headed toward me heading to the fitting room. She didn't say anything because I think she saw on my face that I was extremely frustrated. So, to sum it up I walked the entire store without anyone asking if I needed assistance or even acknowledging me as a customer other than to tell me to get out of a sales person's way.

I cannot believe that in the world today someone can be treated like that in a store. I have been a frequent shopper in this chain but now that I have been treated like this I am going to rethink of where I do my shopping.

Well Cleo, you have shown me a few ways that you don't respect or care out some of your customers. If you greet people are the door make sure you greet everyone not just people you think may shop in your store. Every customer that comes into your store should be treated with respect as you never know if they are going to buy one thing or an entire wardrobe.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Getting organized

There are so many ways that someone can get organized and it will depend on what they mean when they say it. For me getting organized could be organizing my thoughts, to-do-list, craft items, work stuff or even things around home.

Yes, getting organized can take on so many different meanings depending on what the person is really talking about when they say it. I have said it a couple of times and those were the times I am trying to organize all the thoughts that were bouncing around in my head. Yes, I was trying to organize the thoughts and get them down onto paper so that I could actually do something with the ideas.

Getting organized no matter what part of your life you are talking about is a good thing. Sometimes it is simply just sitting back and looking at things a little differently than you have been doing. Of course, getting organized around the house is normally a lot bigger task than some of the others but at least you feel better when you do any of them. For me, organizing my to-do-list helps me remain focused and ensure that I can get the things done that I need to get accomplished on a timely basis. Recently I moved my to-do-list from a long list to smaller project based lists and it is helping me a lot more. It did take some time to get everything into the smaller projects but now it means that when I want to focus on something I can see all the tasks that I need to do for that project.

Being organized no matter what you are talking about can really make you feel better about your surroundings. It will also help you be more productive in general because you will know where things are and be able to find things quickly.

Getting organized may take you a bit of time but at least the end results are rewarding. You may change how you organize things a few times along the way but when you find something that works for you that is great. Your organization might not be good for someone else but you have to have it so it works for you.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Small businesses

So may people are now working either independently or for a small business. What has been happening is more and more of the larger businesses have been down sizing meaning that the workers have had to find new jobs.

What is amazing is some people's attitudes about the small business owner or employee. No, we don't have all the free time in the world to do things that we want to do and not get paid for what we are doing. Our job is how we make a living and in a lot of cases we were aren't working for a client we aren't getting paid. Of course, being a business owner we can sometimes set our hours but in a lot of cases these hours can be extremely long.

When you work for a small business or even own a small business there are a few things that you really need to take into considering and that is your own personal time. As a business owner when things are slow we try and grab a day to ourselves because we don't know what we will get the next one. It can be a challenge to take a vacation or even a weekend away depending on what type of business you work in. For those in IT there are always the challenges of who is going to help the client when you are away and will they be able to handle the situation. We are lucky and have some other independent IT owners that can assist us when we are away.

Small businesses are now making up more and more of the entire work force now a days because of the shift in how things are done. For those that work for big business remember that there are a lot more small businesses than large businesses and one day you may be a small business owner or employee.

When talking to a business owner remember, yes, it can be nice to run your own business or be part of a small business but the hours can be long. When you have work that needs to be done you work until it is done and you normally don't have set hours. We have experience a few people that think because we have a small business we have lots of free time and can do what we want whenever we want. In reality we do have free time but it isn't always when we want it. Sometimes one of us has the time to relax where the other is extremely busy.

Small businesses are something that has happened in the past few years and I think it will continue to be like this. More and more businesses would rather hire someone to do a specific task and then not have them as part of their payroll. Running a small business can be very enjoyable and I have to admit that I am enjoying that role. I am very thankful that I have a good business partner that I can work with.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Managing multiple tasks and/or roles

Now a days so many of us are doing multiple jobs or at least multiple tasks on an almost daily basis.

As a consultant most days I am managing the various tasks for the different clients as well as the tasks that I also have for our own business. There are a few things that I have found that work really well for me and that have been helping me keep everything in some sort of order or at least helping me manage everything.

Here are things that I have found that have helped me keep things organized or at least better organized.
  1. Coloured binders
    Coloured binders – these binders are based on a colour that I have selected for the various clients as well as for the our own company.
  2. Coloured file folders – the file folders for each client matches the binder colour so that when everything is on my desk I can find what I am looking for based on the colour of the folder.
  3. Multiple email address – having different email addresses for the various functions does help ensure that I can keep myself on track when I get busy. On my mobile device,  I have some email accounts that notify me when I get an email while other accounts don't, which are lower urgency that I will look at when I have time.
  4. Calendar – having a calendar where I can put all the different appointments does help. Sometimes some of the appointments are simply just reminders of things that I need to get accomplished.
  5. To do list – a detailed to-do-list is another thing that helps ensure that I can keep on top of all the different deadlines that I need to remember and deal with.
  6. Trusty notebook
    Notebook/journal – one notebook where I can make notes as ideas and thoughts come to me for the various tasks/projects really helps. It means that all the ideas are in one place instead of all over like they were in the past.

These are the things that help me manage all the different things that I am working on. Not everything will work for everyone but this is what I have found works for me.

Managing various projects and tasks sometimes does feel like I am just bouncing between everything but making sure that at the end of the day I can figure out what I did and what still needs to get done is always helpful. My to-do-list and notebook are always with me because that way I can ensure that I know where things stand and what else needs to be accomplished.
Find what works best for you and know that it can even change over time.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Watching videos in public places

How often have you heard someone listening to something in a public place without the use of headphones?

I have noticed lately that more and more people are using their mobile devices to watch videos of some sort. What they aren't considering if the noise that everyone else has to deal with if they aren't using headphones. If you want to watch a video or play a game on your mobile device that requires sound please use some headphones.

One place I have seen a lot of video watching is in fast food areas and people are sharing one device so that at least two of them can see the video at once. Sure it's nice that you want to share the experience with the other person but not everyone around you wants to hear the sounds coming from your device. If you want to share the experience how about both of you using one of the eye pieces from your headphones.

The other place that I have noticed this happening with the videos and games is on public transit. Sure, it is a great way to pass the time during the commute but again not everyone else wants to hear what you are watching. Actually on public transit, at least in Toronto, there is a policy about if you are listening to a device you should be using headphones. Now again if you are using the headphones the volume should be such that only you can hear the sounds coming from the device and not everyone around you.

Videos and chats are get ways of communicating but please remember not everyone around you has the same taste. Chats through mobile devices again should be done using headphones with microphones so that not everyone hears everything that is being said.

If you want to watch your videos in public places please respect others in the same area. We all want some of that space and don't want to hear just want you would like to hear. Also, in a lot of cases the experience we get is a bunch of muffled noises so we get no enjoyment out of it and even if we could hear it, it may not be our taste. So, next time you watch to watch that video or chat with friends through a mobile device using the camera feature please remember that out of respect to others use your headphones.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Gift cards

I think all of us have received gift cards as some point. Now have the cards been to a place you shop at or someplace the other individual likes and figured you would?

Gift cards can be very handy when you know the person and you can get them a card to a store or mall that they shop at. Receiving a gift card for a store that you have never shopped at is a little different. If I don't know the person well enough and am not sure where they shop I would rather give them a general gift card or even the cash.

Gift cards can even come in handy when you are traveling because it means that you don't have to carry as much cash around. The best gift cards are the cards that can be reloaded or topped up and you can use the same card over and over again. I have even seen cards now that are re-loadable as well as a rewards card all in one. This makes it really nice because then it serves two purposes instead of having two different cards.

A gift card can be very good for individuals that are getting older and you aren't sure what they want or need. I know that for my parents we have been giving them gift cards sometimes and they are normally for the stores that they frequent or at least to places we know they will use the card at.

For me, when I receive a gift card I try and use it soon so that I can let the person that gave it to me know what I used it on. The cards that I think are the best are to book stores or the general gift cards that you can now get. I have never received either one of these but I know my husband uses his book store cards as he is a big reader.

Next time when you are thinking about buying someone a gift card remember, when in doubt just get them a general gift card, that way they can use it anywhere or at least a lot of places.