Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Hotel experiences

For a lot of people staying at a hotel is a pleasure event and normally is part of a vacation away from home. For me I have stayed in a number of hotels both for pleasure and also for work as I have done quite a bit of traveling
for work.

A hotel experience can really have a negative or positive experience and lately I am finding that a number of hotels are resulting in a negative experience which isn’t good. I recently was staying at a hotel for work and had asked for no feather in the room. This is a simple request or so I thought because it means that housekeeping has a note about the room for when they are doing the cleaning the morning of my arrival. Upon arriving at the hotel and checking in the room I discovered that two of the four pillows on the bed where duck feathers which wasn’t suppose to be there. As there were two of us in the room we walked down to the front desk and reported the issue and sure it was resolved quickly but again it shouldn’t have happened.

So the frustrating part of the pillow experience was the answer that we received from one of the staff at the front desk, his comment was “We were fully booked the night before so the staff was busy so it was missed”. A fully booked hotel should have meant that the pillows would have been addressed because some one would have had to clean the room the morning/early afternoon of our arrival. Also there is a minimum 4 hour time between last check out and first check in so if there have the right number of housekeeping people on staff getting everything done would have been no problem.

Now I thought that was going to be the only issue at the hotel but it continued with some lights in the room not working. So one lamp was actually unplugged and couldn’t be plugged in because the plug was all bend. Two other lights one over the desk and one that lite an area of the room were also not working so that meant another report to the front desk of the issues. Maintenance did come and fix all three of theses issues but again another excuse was given “Oh, these two lights probably have a loose connection”. If there are loose connections that need fixing say thanks for letting us know and I will get it fixed.

how can I reach the pots and pans?
Hotels make their money ensuring that the guests are enjoying their stay and not having to deal with all of these issues. The other thing that made me laugh was where the pots and pans are as this room has a small kitchenette included. The fridge is a normal size fridge and the pots and pans are in a cupboard above that. Now is someone suppose to get these things out easier without having to stand on a chair. Thank goodness there is a stool in the room with a hard top on that can be used to get the items out of the cupboard if needed.

The hotel seems nice and clean which is one main thing and the staff in general are friendly so now to see what the rest of the stay is like. I hope it is going to be better than this part otherwise I am not going to be very happy.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

IT Security Conferences

Going to various IT conferences you get to hear a lot of different talks and also get to meet a lot of different people which is nice. Recently we were at an IT Security Conference in Toronto and had a chance to help out at a booth for the two days of the event.

Now working at a booth can be challenging because you can be extremely busy one minute and have no one around the next minute. This year it seemed so different because we were extremely busy on Tuesday which is the first day of the show but we were also busy on the second day which was nice. Sure we had some times where there weren’t a lot of people walking by but I have to admit that it was great to see the number of people that stopped and chatted with us.

The booth was manned by four of us and yes I was the female at the table but that didn’t bother me at all. We were talking about a Security community called TASK (Toronto Area Security Klatch) and it was a great couple of days doing just that. Trying to show people that there is a strong community within the IT Security industry is always a lot of fun.

The four of us also get along extremely well so it means that we work well together and of course there is a schedule so that everyone knows where everyone else is. We also have the ability to text each other so that makes it great so that if you are away from the booth and are needed it is a quick message to find each other. This year what was nice was the number of times that there were three of us at the booth instead of one or two and I have to admit that there were times that we really needed everyone to talk with the various people that came over to the booth.

During our time at the booth, a number of people asked us about the community and actually figured we worked for TASK instead of being community members. I am thinking that we need to figure out a way to show that we are community members that are at the event to explain what the community is all about. I know some people understood we were community members but there were still a lot of people that figured it was a company that offered the community not just a group of companies that sponsored a community.

IT Security conferences can be interesting to attend and who you meet is also a lot of fun. You can be meeting with someone from a big business or someone that is just learning about IT Security and attending to gain an understanding. The IT Security community is a great community as most of the people are extremely friendly.

Monday, September 17, 2018

ARC from right to left

Original right handed version of my ARC
Right-handed version of the tabs


I have two to-do lists and one is rather large and I actually call it the brain dump.  The reason for that is because there are so many little things that I would like to do that I have been trying to keep everything in my head and that just doesn't work.  The other to-do list is smaller and something that I have with me all the time.

My main to-do list is now in a large ARC system and I love it or at least now I really love it.  I have been using the system for over a year now and this large binder was set up earlier this year when I figured it was time to capture everything on paper and actually get it out of my head and it has been working.  I am now able to focus a lot better on tasks and I am getting things done and I don't feel as stressed as I was before.

About a week ago I discovered that I was getting extremely frustrated when trying to write in my ARC system and it was for a very simple reason.  The rings were getting in my way and it was making it difficult to get my thoughts and ideas down quickly.  Now the reason the rings were getting in my way is that I am a lefty and was writing on the right-hand page.  This is a problem that a lot of lefty's deal with but with the ARC system there is an easy solution once you think of it.  I am not taking credit for figuring out my issue because it was my husband that suggested making my ARC a lefty version when I was sitting and complaining that it was difficult to write in the book.

Now the process I had to do did take some time but I am happy with the outcome because now I have a book that works for me and yes confuses a lot of people.  One of the advantages of being a lefty and being proud of it is showing off the end result and getting the odd looks from people when they see that my book opens the opposite way then their book does.

Punching the new holes
So the steps that I had to do were pretty easy but they meant taking the entire book apart and putting it all back together with some changes.

Step 1: Take all the pages and dividers out of the system.

Step 2: Punch new holes in the opposite side of each of the pages so that the pages would work easily for me and then I could write on the left page all the time. In my planner, I only write on one side of a page so that I can see the tasks a little easier.

Cutting off the old holes
Step 3: Cut the original holes off all the pages so they wouldn't get caught on each other and make it difficult to work with the planner.

Step 4: Move all the tabs that I had set up around so that I could see them easily when I opened the book.  I am really glad that I used a version of post-it tabs because it made this task very easy.

Step 5: Start putting all the pages and dividers back into the system making sure that it was going to work and actually be in the correct order like it was before.  This is where all the time was spent because sure you can easily take a book apart and punch holes in the paper but it is getting it back in order that takes the time.

Finished ARC - lefty version
Yes, I have to admit that the version from the right-handed version of the ARC to the left-handed version of the ARC did take some time.  I am extremely happy with the outcome of this project and have to say that it works well. 

After doing this big version of my ARC to-do I then decided it was time to also change the little version of my ARC to-do into a left-handed version.  Now that version went a lot quicker and it is probably because I had figured out most of the issues with the bigger version.

Finished ARC - tabs have been moved
Sure I have discovered a few little issues with the left-handed version and the biggest thing was that my calendar doesn't work well in my lefty version so that is something that I will have to figure out for next year.

Now if you know someone who is a lefty and gets frustrated with planners and even notebooks like I have for years maybe you should let them know about the ARC (M by Staples) as it is something that can be customized to work for a lefty.  The ARC system is also available at Michaels as a Happy Planner but the ARC system is either a half page or a whole page system while the Happy Planner is a size in between so it is a little harder to make your own pages for it. 

I have invested in a number of the rings for my ARC system as well as covers because it means that I can set up a lot of different books for the various projects and they will work for me and if a right-handed person has a problem with my book that's ok because it is for me to work with and not for them.





Thursday, August 30, 2018

ETSY

So many people when I mention ETSY look at me funny and the first question they ask is “What is ETSY?” Well, ETSY is a site where crafters are able to list and sell their craft items to a wide audience. It is something that can be a bit of a challenge sometimes but if you understand and do a bit of homework before even setting up your shop you could have success on this platform. I have an ETSY shop and it has been just under a year now that we have had it and with some work it has started to get sales.

Things that I have learned from having an ETSY shop:
  1. Do not list all your items are once because that doesn’t help you be seen when you are first starting out. Sure, you want to have lots of items in your shop when you start but remember that each day you list an item is another day that you can be seen listed with a new item. Also when you list all your items are once all the renewals will happen at the same time as well. The renewals happen at the same time if you don’t have sales so remember that. A renewal moves each time it is sold so that does help.
  2. When you are listing items and if you have more than one of the specific item add the quantity to the listing so that you don’t have to remember to relist the item after each sale. This will help in the management of the site.
  3. Understand that there are fees when you list an item (not very much at all currently only $.20 per item) If you add the quantity it doesn’t impact the fee for the listing as it will only be charged after one item is sold and the new listing is automatically done for you. There are also transaction fees on the sale of an item so remember that as well. ETSY takes a % of the sales price so also consider that when you are pricing your items.
  4. Shipping to other countries. Here is one thing that you have to think about before you even start to think about shipping costs. When you get up your shop will you be shipping your items to other countries and what could the cost be. For me, I decided to ship to Canada and the United States only and that was a decision that I made even before thinking about shipping costs or any of that.
  5. Shipping costs, now this is something that you can handle two different ways. You can include the shipping cost in the price of the item or you can charge shipping costs separately. I add shipping costs separately to the items and have one price for the first item and then a reduced price when you add items to your order.
  6. Consider if you are willing to do custom orders. Custom orders can vary and it is something that you have to think about. Custom orders can be maybe a different size compared to what you make or even a different colour. For me, I have added custom order to some of the items where I have fabric remaining after I have made the first lot of items.
  7. Shipping items out. The other thing you need to figure out is how you are going to handle the shipping the items out once an item is sold. A lot of people have either 3-5 business days or 1-3 business days depending on how often they want to go to the post office to mail the items. Remember you are going to need to package up each of the items when they are sold and get them ready to be shipped. The packaging does cost so remember to add that into your pricing of either shipping or the cost of the item.
  8. Have fun. For a lot of people, ETSY is a little side business that can be a lot of fun and something that you do when time allows. ETSY can also be a full-time business and it is another decision that you need to think about and figure out. The items that you are selling in your shop can you continue to make them or versions of them or are then one off and once they are gone they are gone. Look at the amount of time you are willing to put into your shop because that will also impact how it goes.

ETSY can be a lot of fun if you handle it correctly. Knowing the answers to a lot of the questions before you start setting up your shop will help a lot. I know that I did some research and asked questions before reopening my ETSY shop and I am now glad I reopened it. The first ETSY shop I had didn’t work and I learned some lessons from it and it helped the newly reopened shop.

Remember there are quite a few people that have ETSY shops that are doing it for the fun of it and if you have questions don’t be afraid to ask someone your questions. I know that I am always willing to assist someone who would like to open an ETSY shop because I have learned from having one and if I can help someone else that would be great as well. My ETSY shop is DLKsCrafts and I am enjoying it and will continue to have the shop as long as I have fun with it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Audio-books, Podcasts and YouTube

Now these are all different ways of listening and watching things and sure they have been around for years some of them but until the last year I really wasn’t into any of them but now I have figured out what works best for me and have started to love all of them in different ways. Each of them meets a different need for me and that is what I am going to try and explain here.

Audio-books

Now until he beginning of this year I had heard people talk about audio-books but I had never really given them a try. I think before this I may have listened to one book but other than that I didn’t think it would be something that I would enjoy. Yes, I like reading books but as I am also a crafter and use my hands for the various crafts I have let the reading of books sort of drop off because my evenings are normally spent crafting. I did read a lot during commutes to and from work but now that I am a co-owner of a business and most of the work is done remotely there isn’t a lot of commutes.

Earlier this year I decided to try audio-books as a means of getting through some of the books that I wanted to read. I went to the library to renew my library card and while there looked at some of the cd audio-books and immediately saw titles that were of interest to me. Seeing that there are a lot of titles that sounded interesting made me want to really give this idea a try and that is when it started. After renewing my library card I came home and decided to see what audio-books were available through the library but online and it opened up something that I have to admit that i have really enjoyed.

For me audio-books are something that I can listen to while crafting or even just when I am getting ready for bed. It has helped me get through some of the books that I have wanted to read and now I have a wish list on the library website as well as another list on a piece of paper of the books that I want to listen to. Sure, I may encounter some wait lists for some of the books but that doesn’t bother me as I have a lot of other things to listen to now.

Pod-casts

Pod-casts aren’t as new to me as audio-books but they were normally something that my husband and I listened to on a long drive as a means of making the trip feel a little shorter. We started with one series of pod-casts and we are still working through that series as they are now recording their 13th season and there are now around 52 episodes a year for them. Most of this series recording are only around 15 – 20 minutes so that isn’t bad but other pod-casts can be a lot longer than that.

This year I decided to find out about some of the other people that I had heard that did pod-casts and now I have a rather long list of pod-casts that I want to listen to as well. My first really good exposure to pod-casts was earlier this year when I needed to do a commute that was going to take me almost 2 hours to complete. I downloaded some of the pod-casts that I wanted to listen to onto my phone and off I went. The actual commute sure didn’t feel as long as it really was and I was able to get through a few of the pod-casts that I had downloaded.

I now have 5 different pod-casts that I follow so that means that I have lots of listening to do but again these are things that I can listen to while crafting or before going to bed in the evenings. I am enjoying the experience and am happy that I now can download them onto my phone and have them with me all the time.

YouTube

YouTube can be a major distraction if you let it but then if you are able to just watch what you subscribe to it doesn’t feel so bad. I have tried to develop a discipline where I go into YouTube and check my subscriptions. Sure it can still mean that I have a lot of videos to watch but I can mange those my putting them into my watch later library and I watch the various videos when I have the time. Sure the watch later library can get rather large sometimes but again these are videos that I can normally watch when I am crafting.

I have been watching YouTube videos for the last year and basically the ones that I have been watching are a group of videos with the title FlossTube. These are videos done by cross-stitchers and individuals that may even have a store but they are ones that I enjoy watching and I have tried to keep my subscription list short so that I don’t feel overwhelmed when all the different people post all at one. The individuals post at different times so I have some that post most days, some weekly, some monthly and then there are some that don’t post very often but at least by subscribing to them I can see when they post a new video.


The different medias have given me a different experience and I am loving all three of them. Audio-books are great when you know you are going to have the time to listen to something that could take between 10 and 25 hours in three weeks as that is how long some books are. Pod-casts can vary in length between 15 minutes and 1.5 hours but at least these are things that I can manage based on the time that I have available. YouTube is something that I watch either on my computer or tablet and which video I watch will depend on the time that I have available as well as the mood I am in.

Knowing what works for you can open up a lot of different things and for me just having these different tools available means that I can’t say that I have nothing to watch or listen to because each of them gives me enough to keep me happy. If you haven’t tried these give at least one of them a shot and see what you think. You may be surprised at how much you enjoy at least one of these methods especially if you do something with your hands that doesn’t require a lot of thinking. A lot of crafters have found all of these work for them and I am one of those crafters who now enjoys listening to things while I craft.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Conventions

It is always interesting when you are getting ready to go to a convention because if it is work related you have one set of progress that you go through and then if it a personal one you go through different things. The conventions can be a one-day event or a week-long event but making sure that you are ready for them is always a good idea.

Professional Conventions

When you go to a profession convention/conference you prepare in a way that will make sure that you have all the profession stuff with you. What I am talking about is making sure that you have the business cards ready to go, your work shirt (if you have one) is ready for the event and all other work related material is available that you may need.

Personal Conventions

Now, these are the conventions/conferences that can be a lot of fun but the preparation can be just about as much work getting ready for these. There are a few conferences that we go to for personal and the main one is a science fiction literary convention. Now before going to this event, there is the time figuring out what to wear each day and then there is figuring out all the other planning.

Both conventions

Besides figuring out what to wear at the events there is the review of the schedule for the event. This happens for both of the conferences because you want to make sure that you get the most out of the conference and you don’t end up wasting time figuring things out once you get there. More and more conferences are releasing the sessions before the actual event so that attendees are able to plan their days a little better. This also means that people aren’t walking into the sessions late as often because now they can prepare a little more.

There are other events that are normally part of any conference/convention and these are the evening's events. Knowing the timing of these events are very important as well to ensure that you can attend the ones you want but also ensure that you can get some sleep. I know that there are times that sleep because something that is a bit lacking at the event so you just need to be prepared for that.

Conventions can be wonderful to attend and something that if you are prepared for you can have a great time. I go to both professional and personal conventions and have to admit that by the time they are over I am happy to see the end of them as being an introvert they can be tiring. I always make sure that I plan little bits of hiding time for myself during the event and that helps me get through everything that I want to do.

The thing to do before going to a convention goes into it prepared to have some fun and learn something new. Also, understand that there might be some issues but any convention can have issues and it is how the attendees and organizers handle them that makes the conference a memorable experience.


Monday, July 9, 2018

Heat Waves

For a lot of us, we think of a heat wave as a couple of days of extreme heat. Extreme heat also will vary depending on your location. In the southern United States, extreme heat is over 100F (38C). In places in Canada, our extreme heat is anything over 86F (30C).

As I write this blog we are on day 7 of extreme heat. We have had days reaching 34C (93F) and we also have a humidex so our temperatures with the humidity have been reaching 42C to 46C. Today the forecast high is 31C (88F) feeling more like 40C (104F). A lot of people have been having issues because not everyone has air conditioning because we normally don’t stay this hot for this long.

In Toronto, we are fortunate as the city extends the hours of some of the outdoor public pools and there are cooling locations around the city. For those of us without air conditioning, it means lots of fans running as well as finding cool places to go during the day. For people in smaller towns, it is harder to find the cool places.

The forecast is finally for us to have two or three cooler days and everyone is happy to hear that. Sure there will always be people that want the heat to stay but when even walking short distances is being advised against it is too hot. There are people that still have to work outside in this heat and I feel sorry for them.

I know in about six or seven months we are going to be complaining about the cold weather. I don’t mind temperatures around 28C feeling like 32C but once it is hotter than that I don’t like it. For me, one of my favourite spots, when it is hot out, is sitting on our balcony. I can sit on the balcony and do some of my work and also stay cool as we face north-east. We don’t get the hot afternoon sun directly on the balcony so it is a nice place to escape.

Heat waves seem to be happening more often and lasting longer. Maybe global warming has something to do with it. I know I am looking forward to getting a bit of a break from this heat. If you are dealing with a heat wave, try and stay cool and know it won’t last forever.