Friday, May 30, 2008

Computers, Equipment, Software, Maintenance, and the Information Age

Last week, I had bad news, and good news.

The bad news was that I might have killed most of my staff - and certainly made it necessary for them to get treatment.

The good news was that, under today's laws, I wouldn't be prosecuted.

My "staff" is the software on the main computer, and on the laptop that I'm using at this moment. The main computer's software is what does the work for graphic design, photo retouching and manipulation, and all the rest of the 'professional' work. What's on the laptop is good enough for research on the Web (providing that the website doesn't use too many bells and whistles), editing HTML, and using spreadsheets - but it's definitely not up to the other tasks.

I don't think that thinking of a computer and its software as a staff is all that fanciful. Much of what I do is more 'managerial' than production, and has been for quite a while. I decide what needs to be done, and in what order. Then, I give instructions to the software, which carries out my instructions.

Sure, I have to be a very 'hands-on' manager, but the actual work is mostly being done down in the innards of a computer. The software-as-staff idea is a metaphor, but I think it's an apt one.

Happily, my main computer is back, and almost set to start being useful again.

I got the good news, that the glitches were fixable, late Wednesday afternoon. It was, objectively, good news, but I'd gotten myself psyched up to accept buying a new computer. Not all that hard to do, considering the device that I could get built for a little over $1,200.

I'd even gotten close to figuring out how to pay for it - although that might be wishful thinking.

The technician had an earnest talk with me, Wednesday afternoon, and again yesterday, on the subject of proper care of a computer. I'd allowed the hard drive to get overly full. Not smart. The solution to that issue involves a new external hard drive, and a new policy and procedure for archiving and backing up files that should be simple enough for me to follow through on.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Computers, Equipment, and Flexibility: The Sequel

The main computer isn't going to be doing much until next week, and that's a best-case scenario. There's something wrong, probably with the hard drive. I've made arrangements to take it in for therapy next Tuesday - that's the earliest opening that the service place has on its workbench.

Frustrating, very. I'd had plans for this weekend, and they involved that computer.

Oh, well. There are other tasks to do.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Computers, Equipment, and Flexibility


This afternoon, something went wrong with the 'main' computer: the one that I do most of the 'heavy lifting' on. I'll be bringing it into the shop Tuesday morning. That's the earliest I could get a spot on their workbench.

That's five days, during which I'll be finding something else to get done. My first-choice plans for the Labor Day weekend included getting some serious 3D artwork done, plus some other graphics. That's not going to happen now.

There's good news: It looks like my data is okay, and I've got lower-priority tasks to work on.

And, I've got a work-around for the two updates to a webpage ("Sauk Centre Journal") that will come due while the 'main' computer is down.

The lesson here is: backup equipment is a good idea.

Too bad I don't have the budget for it, at this point.

Computers: Great for Productivity, Providing ...

Right now, I'd rather be in another room, working at the 'main' computer. I'd also rather have the webcam over there sending updates every sixty seconds.

That's not happening. I rebooted the thing about a half hour ago, and got an error message when it started up again. I've checked with the shop that built it, and this isn't terribly unusual.

In fact, it's a little surprising that I haven't had this issue before.

Just the same, it's been doing disk maintenance on itself for quite a while. Which has given me opportunities to do some pen-and-paper work, and catch up on email here.

But it's frustrating: and a little troubling.

I see that it's time to see if the process is progressing.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Negative Online Review? Here's What to Do

I'm storing up posts for another blog, where visitors expect about a half-dozen new ones a day. Normally, I write them within minutes of posting, but since I'll be distracted for a few days, that won't work.

Here's a post which will be released on Apathetic Lemming of the North" over the weekend.

Consider it a sort of advance showing.

"A Guide to Answering Negative Online Reviews"
Blizzard Internet Marketing Inc. Newsletter (April 30, 2008)

"The negative review - every online business owners heart-thumping, middle-of-the-night, cold-sweat-inducing nightmare. Okay maybe not that bad, but to be honest hearing anything negative about your business tends to set one on edge, I know it does me and that’s usually on my clients’ behalf, not my own!"

What follows is a concise discussion, and a short list of dos and don'ts.

Looks like good advice.

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