Thursday, April 28, 2016

Scheduling of conference calls and webinars

Now that more events are being done through webinars and conference calls more people are able to participate at once.

It is always interesting to see what time a webinar is so that it can cover the largest range of the country at once. There are now times that a lot of the events are scheduled between noon and 3 pm Eastern time. The reason for this is to ensure that people out on the west coast are also able to participate in the same call. There are even some webinars are that are held at 6 pm so that more people can participate. We have been taking an online course and the webinar choices at 6 pm on Tuesday or 9 am on Thursday. The course is actually covering most of the world so the times need to be doable for everyone. We normally do the 6 pm course as it means that we have the day to do client work and then the 6 pm is at the end of the day. I actually tried the 9 am session once and found that I wasn’t able to gain a focus for a couple of hours after the webinar so that meant I lost all of the morning.

Webinars and conference calls are making it so much easier to communicate around the world and the cost is so much less than having to attend the various conferences and meetings physically. It is nice to have the ability to attend sessions this way but there is one disadvantage and that is you don’t get to meet the rest of the people face-to-face that you are dealing with.

Having the opportunity to attend the various webinars and conference calls is wonderful as long as you are aware that you may not get a lot out of some of the things you attend. Some webinars are very informative and other ones seem to miss what the description was that outlined the session. We have attended both types of webinars and conference calls and you just have to be aware that not all of them will be a win.

The another advantage of webinars and conference calls is the impact on work. Most webinars can be done either at your own desk or in a boardroom so that means that there is minimum time away from work. Conferences and sessions that involve travel can be a day to many days away from the office. It can impact more than the person that is attending the event as someone else will be needed to cover their job while they are away. Now with the use of the webinars and conference calls it is basically like someone taking a lunch so there isn’t as much of an impact on others.

The negative side of webinars and conference calls is now there seems to be a lot more of them and that can impact work. There is such a balancing act between attending all of the webinars and conference calls that sound interesting and getting the work done. The balance is something that needs to be looked at and each person is different. Understand what your actual job is and how attending or not attending a specific webinar or conference call will be. The choice is yours so now I am off to attend a webinar that will help me with my job.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Classes with conflicting information

Online courses are something that a lot of us are now dealing with. Some of the courses may be something you take for your own personal interest and then there are the courses that you will be taking for your job.

It can be interesting but also frustrating if the material that you have been given doesn’t actually work as well as you were lead to believe. In some cases it could be the material actually has errors in it and they haven’t been corrected from previous versions. The instructor, if they are aware of the errors should ensure that they let the students know about the corrections so that they don’t get frustrated. What can be extremely frustrating is hearing a comment from an instructor of “Oh yes, there are lots of errors in the material” but they don’t let you know where the errors are. This comment is one that we recently heard and that really frustrating as a bunch of us were trying to do some labs for a computer course and we didn’t know where they errors were until each of us ran into them.

Issues with material can make a course a challenge especially if you are told one thing when you register for a course and then when you start to take the course you are told something different. Making sure that the prerequisites are clearly defined is very important and they shouldn’t be changed after the list has been issued out. In some cases people have invested money and/or time to make sure that they have the original listed items only to be told once the course starts that the prerequisites are different.

As an instructor of an online course it is very important that you are aware of all the prerequisites as well as any videos outlining prep work. If you aren’t the one that recorded the prep video ensure that you have watched it prior to starting the course so that you are comfortable with what was said in the video or if you haven't reviewed your own videos recently. Actually as an instructor it is very important that you know the entire course and the schedule for each week. If you need to have a sheet of paper beside you with some notes that’s fine because no one will know that if you are doing webinar classes.

If a course has conflicting material, it makes for a harder course for everyone, so if you are the instructor let the students know if there are corrections to the material they have received but don’t change the prerequisites just because you don’t like something that was suggested. The instructor’s role is very important for the online courses because each student will be be learning at a different speed. As the instructor you are going to be partly the teacher but also the support system when problems are encountered. If you make promises to the students to provide certain material at a specific time make sure that you follow through with that because you are impacting how the students are learning and how comfortable they are feeling about the material.

Conflicting material needs to be highlighted to the students as soon as it is known and it would be really nice if one page was available online to show all the errors that have been found and the corrections that are needed.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Course material

There seems to be more and more emphasis of having all the course material available on mobile devices. There are some advantages and disadvantages of having material available in that form.

  • Easy to carry around all the material instead of having to lug around textbooks especially if you are taking more than one course.
  • Environmentally friendly so it doesn’t mean all the paper is being used to print the textbooks that are out of date almost immediately after they are printed.
  • Can limit how the material is available through codes to open the pdf’s etc.
  • Copy notes can be added so that if you try to print a hard copy of the material there are restrictions on that.
  • Difficult to make notes on the pages if you want to add your own personal notes to material.
  • Not everyone has a mobile device so it means they are only able to see the material on their computer.
  • If you need your computer to do the exercises it is difficult to see the exercises if you only have the pdf version on your computer and don’t have a second device (tablet or monitor).
In some cases the material is nice to have in paper copy especially if you are one of those that likes making up the material. Recently we got a course and all the material was available as pdf’s and I knew that for me to learn the material and have it available for review that I would need to print out the material. This is when you really hope that you have a laser printer so that you can print everything without having to use up too much ink. The course material ended up to be around 1,500 pages so that was a lot of printing but a business grade laser printer and a bit of patience meant that I have the material that I can make up. The advantage of also having the pdf version of the material is I can read the material anywhere I am as I currently have it on my tablet as well as my computer.

The advantages and disadvantages are really dependent on the course and also the material. There are times that I enjoy having everything electronically and then there are times that I want the paper copy. It is nice when you have the ability to actually print the electronic version. I have heard that there are cases when you are unable to print the electronic version so that would make it harder for someone like me that likes making my own notes on the material as I do through it especially when I need to study for an exam.

Next time you sign up for a course remember that you may only be getting electronic versions of the material. How you handle the material is up to you and there will be times when the electronic version is great and then there may be times when the electronic version may be difficult.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Weekends and running your own business

For a lot of people that run their own businesses weekends are those times when you try and catch up with all the odd tasks that were left from the rest of the week.

A weekend can also be used to work on some client items that can only be done during off hours and that is so true in the IT industry. There are a lot of different items that are part of IT that cannot be done during the normal business day so a lot of those things are planned for the weekend. So many companies don’t want their servers or email being taken off line during the normal business day.

For a lot of IT business owners there are times that the weekend will actually be a day or two during the week to make up for the weekend work that is needed to be performed. There are also times when taking a day during the week to do some of the weekend items means that there are other items that can be done quicker on the weekend due to fewer distractions from vendor emails that seem to come in steadily during the week.

There are a lot of business owners that actually do shift their weekends so that they can be available to their clients on the weekends without impacting their own time. For us there are times when our weekend will be split between one day of the weekend and one day during the week. It really depends on what we are working on and what the demands of our time are. The chance to sit and get some of the writing done without the vendor emails hitting me does help and it also means that it normally takes less time to get the same amount of work done.

Having the flexibility to shift some of your weekend tasks also means that when you are doing some of your own running around there are fewer people out doing the same things. There are times when we will take a Wednesday to do our running around and then work on the weekend and it is so different doing the errands in the middle of the week especially if you can avoid rush hour traffic.

Business owners have to be able to be flexible in their own plans because a weekend is no longer a set two days of the week. A weekend can be two days whenever there is time for it and you have to understand that and enjoy the time that you can find and grab. So, next time your email is going to be down on a weekend or your hear about server work or an upgrade that is being done just think that the person that is doing it isn’t off during the weekend like you are.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Do what you love and love what you do

This seems like such a simple statement but when it comes to real life it can sometimes be a lot harder than you think.

There are probably a lot of people that say when they go to work “it’s just a job” and that is something that can be hard to understand. Yes, a job can sometimes be a challenge when you are not totally loving what you are doing but there are probably parts of the job that you do love. There can even be days when something that you normally love doing seems not so enjoyable. When this happens you need to sit back and think about what you are doing and why.

Is your job something that you really enjoy doing or not? Of course, I think a lot of us would say that there are parts of the job that aren’t so enjoyable but then the other parts are very enjoyable. There are always the things that no one really enjoys doing but they need to get done. I know when it comes to some of the accounting for the business, I would love to be able to give it to someone else to do but it is part of my job. When I have the different projects that involve me writing and doing that part of the job then I am extremely happy. Yes, I am one of those people that enjoys writing and if you give me a manual or something like that to work on I am very happy. See I have been very lucky that I do love what I do in my job.

Making sure that you are doing some of what you love in your job is very important otherwise it is “just a job” and that doesn’t give you the incentive to do your best. Of course the words “it’s just a job” can be a result of just not being happen with the environment and not the actual job. Knowing the difference between being happy with the job and being happy with the environment is something else that needs to be looked at.

Do what you love and love what you do is something more people have to really do. Of course, there are always the jobs that need to be done and we don’t enjoy but think about the other parts of the job. Being able to go to work each day and know that you do love at least a good part of what you do can make a big difference on how you approach things. I love my what I do and hopefully a lot of people are just like me.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Sounds around you

Sit back and listen sometimes to the sounds around you. You may be surprised at what you really hear.

What you hear will really depend on where you are when you take the time to just listen to the sounds.
  • If you are out in a mall or such a location you will probably hear a lot of conversations going on around you.
    • Most of what you hear will be a mixture of voices and music.
  • Sitting by the water, you may not hear a lot other than the sounds of the water.
  • In your own home you may hear a lot of different sounds
    • Depending on the time of day or season what you hear at home can vary. Around us we can normally hear cars and public transit vehicles. There are also times when we can hear children outside playing or emergency vehicles approaching the neighborhood.
  • Sitting in a park. Depending on the location of the part the sounds can really vary.
    • You may hear children playing in a play area close by.
    • There are spots where you will just hear the sounds of nature if the park is away from traffic and such.
    • Other parks will still give you the sounds of the city going on around you.
  • Out in the country. The sounds out in the country are so different than in the city. The animals are different and even the vehicles can be different.

Being able to spend some time to just listen to the sounds around you can be interesting. There are times that the quiet can be so soothing will other times you need to hear the multiple sounds.

There are times that I need the voices around me to help me focus on something that I need to do. Other times the quiet is what I need to accomplish the same type of thing. As someone that spends a lot of time writing I find that being able to vary what I hear around me really helps. When you always hear the same things it can get a little boring so changing up what you hear can be great.

Next time you have something that you need to accomplish and your normal surroundings aren't working change the location. Maybe, the change in the sounds will help you get that task accomplished quickly. Listen to the sounds around you and see what the difference is. You may be surprised at how the sounds around you can either help or hinder you in accomplishing what you need to do.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Tell Daddy I Love Him

There is a figurine that means a lot to me and it is “Tell Daddy I Love Him” -- Demdaco
Tell Daddy I Love Him

I received this figurine from my husband shortly after we were married. The figurine means so much to me as I lost my father when I was child. I have always said that I can tell daddy that I love him whenever I want. The figure sits in our living room and there are times that I can look at it and think of being able to say those words to him and him knowing it.

The figurine is of a little boy saying a prayer with two angels beside him. It makes me smile when I can look at it and remember the look at my face when I opened the box to discover this figurine in it. I had only seen the figurine at a collectible show and didn't think much about it. What I didn't realize is that my husband decided that I should have that figurine for myself.

I am my father's daughter as I look like him and in so many ways I have a lot of his mannerisms as well. I now have a nephew that looks like him as well and that makes me very happy. I now don't feel like I was found in the backyard as I was told quite a few times growing up. Not knowing my father meant that there is a bit of a hole left in my heart but I know he is always there for me no matter what.

Being able to say the simple words “Tell Daddy I Love Him” lets me feel like he is always a part of my life. I know my dad is part of my life because I am a part of him and nothing is going to change that. Looking in a mirror and seeing myself also shows me a part of my father that others see in me.

So “Tell Daddy I Love Him” and I say “Thank you” to my husband for getting me this figurine.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Our crazy winter

This year we have had a very odd winter and in some ways I really didn’t mind a lot of it.

Yes, we didn’t have as much snow as I thought we were going to have. It would have been nice to have the snow when people didn’t need to get around because it is always nice for Christmas. This year we had a green Christmas which seems to be what we have been getting more and more. The lack of snow makes it easier for people to drive distances and that makes me happy but I am one of those that likes a bit of snow on the ground when I wake up on Christmas day.

We did have the freezing temperatures a few times but not the long cold days that we have had in the past couple of years. This year we had a couple of days of -20 plus and then the wind chill made it worse but it didn’t last long like it has. We also had days when we were wondering if winter was really over because the temperatures go into the mid plus teens in early March. That is what we were dealing with this year and then winter decided it had to make one more appearance in the form of freezing rain.

Now the freezing rain started on the Wednesday before the Easter weekend so that meant that traveling on the Thursday was rather difficult. You can always tell when it is rough out when the school buses in our area are cancelled for students. The freezing rain made for some really nice looking trees but that is all that was good about the rain. This freezing rain also means that some of the trees that have already started to bloom may have a lot of damage again this year. The frozen trees also means that there are a lot of power lines coming down when the branches break off the trees.

Our winter seems to be a little crazy and I guess that is something that we are going to be dealing with in the future as well. Hopefully people won’t be without power too long this time due to the storm and then this will be the last that we see of the freezing rain and snow until at least November. Of course, I know that we need the snow for the moisture in the ground and I will never complain about the snow as long as it doesn’t impact businesses in a negative way. Snow in the middle of the night and then be done by the morning and I would be happy. Also I would rather have a lot of small accumulations than 1 major storm.

Maybe winter is over for us this year, but we will have to see as we have had snow into April in the past, so until then, we are just going to have to wait and see.