Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

5/19/2017

Free Creative Business Course

Filed under: Fun Work,Life Goals,Photography,The Day Job — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Seems like everyone is looking for a “side hustle” these days.

Personally, I’ve never felt very comfortable in a real entrepreneurial role, but even I have gone hunting for a side business on occasion, trying to get a leg up. When I was in college, I wrote. I’d always had the idea that I might eventually write a novel or three, which would, of course, sell forever, giving me a slow trickle of income for years and years. Clearly, that never quite happened. I have, on the other hand, done some consulting on the side, to make up for a hit in salary fifteen years ago. And, of course, to occasionally make a little extra when I needed to spend a little more, like when I got my first digital camera. Then, when I first started getting into photography, I thought I might find a way to leverage that into something. Unfortunately, that never quite happened and I decided to just let my photography be a hobby. But, if I had the opportunity to take this free business course for photographers and other creatives, I may have tried to make a go of it.
Well, if you want to give it a try, check out the course, but do it fast, because the course is only free until July 1st.
And, if you do decide to give professional photography a whirl, check out FindMyPhotographer.com, where you can set up an account in a growing directory of photographers. And, yes, that’s my site, too. You can setup a free account, or upload more sample photos and rank higher in local searches by buying an account. Use discount code Startup25 for a 25% discount for new accounts.

And, that’s all the “side hustle” I have time for this week. Come back next week for more free stuff!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

4/8/2014

TurboTax

Filed under: Never trust a Network Admin with a screwdriver — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Another kind of weak Tools for Tuesday post, but, at least it’s better than nothing.

One reason I don’t have something better than this for you all this week is, well, taxes.  One of the many, many things I have to get accomplished with far too little time to get them all done, including the posts on my two blogs.   As I’m sure you all are aware, tax day is just around the corner and, even though I vowed to get it done early this year, I’ll be scrambling to get my tax returns filled out and submitted in time.  If not for [amazon_link id=”B00FFINOWS” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]TurboTax[/amazon_link], I’d never get it done.

Of course, the real benefit comes from using it year after year, because it will pull your information from last year, reducing the amount of data you have to enter.  And, it will show you how you did, tax-wise, this year compared to last year, which is kind of nice to know.
This year, one feature that last minute users like me may find useful is that you can actually download this from Amazon.com and not have to wait for shipping or for the morning when a store might be open.  Again, I’m already busy enough without having to try and get out to a store to buy this at the last minute.  And, speaking of last minute, using the [amazon_link id=”B00FFINOWS” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]TurboTax[/amazon_link] software, I can submit my return digitally, which means having the ability to cut it a little closer than normal with a little less worry.  (And, okay, sure, it helps that my wife made a file for all the important 2013 tax information, so I have all that in one place instead of just shoved under my keyboard all year.)  In theory, though I haven’t actually done this myself, TurboTax can interact with Quicken, which I also use, and help me to maximize my deductions and get me the biggest return.   Since one of my goals for the year is to get into better financial shape, not just for myself but for my lovely wife, too, I’ll probably look into that sometime this year, too.  Financial health is a big deal and taxes are a big part of that.

Also, if you’re an iPhone user, there’s an iPhone app that will let you know how soon you’ll get  your refund.  You can download that and plug in the information from your [amazon_link id=”B00FFINOWS” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]TurboTax[/amazon_link] submission and the app will let you know when your refund arrives.

So, maybe not the sexiest tool, but one that I find pretty useful!

10/12/2011

Inflexible Time at Work

Filed under: Career Archive,Deep Thoughts,Geek Work,Life Goals,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:56 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I recently finished reading [amazon_link id=”0307465357″ target=”_blank” ]4-Hour Work Week[/amazon_link] by Tim Ferriss.

I have to admit, I like the idea of working four hours a week and then pursuing my own interests the rest of the time.  You may not know it from how little I’ve posted here lately, but I do have interests beyond working a lot and high-tech geekery.  Realistically, because of how I do what I do, an actual four hour work week would be pretty difficult.  Of course, the book advocates doing something all-together different than a “regular” job.  Naturally, one of my major concerns as a cancer survivor is health insurance.  The book doesn’t talk too much about dealing with the health insurance issue.  However, it does talk about alternative revenue streams and different ways of generating income.  At least, generating income enough to live in an entirely different way than most of us “9-to-5-ers” do currently.  Or, for people, like me, unwilling to give up their “regular” job and the security it represents, Tim talks about working remotely and having flexible office hours and availability.
Personally, I’d be thrilled with getting out of debt and have some more flexible hours.

In fact, in my industry, things like remote work or flextime are quite the buzzword lately.
Now, keep in mind I mean “data technology and networking” as my industry, not the company I currently work for, who builds cranes.  In the networking world, we’re often asked to provide solutions of varying scales to let people work remotely, whether from home or elsewhere in the world.  For example, even though we’re a “little” company that makes great, big cranes, we still have people in multiple permanent locations on two continents.  Well, at least, several locations here in the States and one in the U.K.  But, I have service people who might be literally anywhere in the world.  Our cranes are pretty much in every off-shore oil-field now, so I may have people who’d like to get to a central server from almost anywhere.
And, besides the people who travel for work, I know that there are certain circumstances where people would like to work from home.  For instance, our Sales department is pretty tiny, so they’re always working.  And, if they have a big project, their day could easily stretch into more than ten hours or bleed over into the weekend.  I’m sure they’d love to be able to work from home sometimes.  Not to mention the engineers or draftsmen who might have a family emergency.
Or, even me, on occasion.  A lot of what I do I could probably do remotely or over the phone.

But, here’s the thing; not everyone feels that way.
I know from at least the anecdotal evidence in Tim’s book that people can be more efficient and productive working away from an office.  Certainly, with fewer distractions, I seem to be able to accomplish more.  And, when I get more done, I’m happier!  But, according to Baseline Magazine on-line, there are “risks” involved in flextime.  Frankly, I question their methodology for data collection.  For instance, they list several of the negative consequences of flextime, and by extension remote working, as “negative comments from supervisors”, “unfavorable job assignments” and “denial of promotions”.  But, those are pretty damn subjective and rely on opinions of workers who are using flextime, not actual facts.  Another “criticism” of flextime is that managers think that the best employees should be available 24/7 to handle whatever comes up and that the fewer personal commitments an employee has the more productive they are!  Well, of course!  The ideal employee is a robot who exists to work without ever taking a break!
Frankly, this sounds like someone pumping up junk research to make an article out of it.

Most people I’ve known who work from home actually put in more hours than they would at the office.  And, clearly, a lazy employee who needs structure to perform well is not going to produce when working remotely without someone to micromanage them.  Clearly, this won’t work for everyone, since lazy people will be just as lazy at home as anywhere else, but I don’t think that’s a valid criticism of the entire concept!

Well, in any case, I know that I’ll be looking into ways for people to work remotely that are low-cost or free.  If anyone knows of a free open source equivalent to Citrix, please, let me know!  I may start to look at the free OpenVPN as a possibility, too.  If anyone has any experience with that, I’d love to hear it!

6/24/2011

FRPG Cologne

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:15 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

Geek smells must be on my mind lately.

So, two weeks ago, I brought you Eau d’BBQ.  This week, it’s fantasy role-playing game cologne.
And, no, I’m not even kidding.
From the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab website:

In most pen and paper fantasy RPGs, three of the primary attributes that you must choose for your character are race, class, and alignment. Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s RPG scent series was designed to emulate the character creation process, and are meant to be layered in order to create a character concept. In short: you layer your class, race, and the two fragrances that compose your alignment to construct your character scent.

Okay, I hate to perpetuate a stereotype, but, well, I’ve hung out with gamers.  Lots of gamers.  And, I’ve got to be honest, for most of them, smelling nice was just not a big priority.  On the other hand, the genre may have changed in the 20+ years I’ve been away from it and now regular showers and healthy eating habits are all the rage.  It could happen, I suppose.  In any case, I applaud these folks for tapping into a virgin market, if you’ll pardon the pun.
Also?  The whole idea of having to buy several scents to “layer” them?  Marketing genius!

12/20/2010

A Truly Honest Privacy Statement

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Fun Work,Geek Work,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:08 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

Websites lie.

There, I said it.
Well, I wrote it.  Anyway, you and I and everyone else with half a brain know that these “free” websites are paid for in some way.  Mostly, that way is advertising.  Sometimes, that advertising involves selling personal data that they’ve collected.  Oh, c’mon, don’t act so shocked.  You know it’s true just like I do.  The big [amazon_link id=”B0001EQIFQ” target=”_blank” ]Internet Bust of 2000[/amazon_link] showed us all that companies without a good revenue model will, ultimately, fail.  And, the best revenue model of all on the Internet is selling your data to advertisers.

The thing is, wouldn’t it be nice if they just admitted that up front?
Well, Dan Tynan over at IT World has a modest proposal; The first truly honest privacy policy.

Watch out, because I may just start using this on my sites!
But, I won’t warn you ahead of time…

5/6/2009

Review: You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Bring Your Laptop To A Coffee Shop

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Art,Review,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:20 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

So, last week I finished You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Bring Your Laptop To A Coffee Shop by John Scalzi.

I’ve been a frustrated writer since I can remember.
I’ve read more books on writing than most people even realize have been published! But, this book was different. Most writing books focus on the techniques of writing, dispensing all sorts of marginally useful advice, but Scalzi has some different advice for hopeful writers. He talks mainly about the nitty gritty that the other books leave out. For one thing, he talks about giving up the idea that one should only write “art” pieces. He talks about approaching writing like any other job. It makes sense, really, when you think about it. I mean, if you want to make a living at writing, then you have to write regularly, just like you’d work at any other job. You work regularly to get paid regularly.

Mostly, the advice is hard-nosed and drawn from his own years as a full-time, professional writer. Also, the sections are drawn from his blog, the Whatever and many are answers to questions from readers of that blog. Granted, he’s edited many of the original blog entries for the book, but I honestly don’t care that it’s mostly duplicated material I could get from the web. I find reading it from a book, an actual, bound book, far easier than trying to chase it all down on his blog. It was well worth the price.

I can’t recommend this book to most of my readers, but if you’re an aspiring writer and are tired of reading the same well-worn advice about how to write, You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Bring Your Laptop To A Coffee Shop may be just the book you’ve been looking for. It won’t tell you much about how to write, but it will give you invaluable advice about the writing life and how to make a living at it.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Pay no attention to the faults of others, things done or left undone by others. Consider only what by oneself is done or left undone."


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