Monday, July 16, 2018


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.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Living with invisible disabilities

So many people have disabilities that no one else knows about and that is something that can be very frustrating. When you are around other people take a look around and notice what you see and you will probably not notice the disabilities that people have. I know that some disabilities are easy to see and those are the ones that most people understand and they are talked about.

An invisible disability can be something that occurred to an individual or it is something that they have dealt with all of their lives. Some examples of invisible disabilities are:
  • brain injuries,
  • chronic pain
  • arthritis
  • mental illness
  • gastro-intestinal disorders
  • migraines
  • fibromyalgia
  • and there are many more

For a lot of people, these are issues that cannot be seen by others and therefore something that cannot be dealt with easily. I was recently talking to someone about being able to hold a hand railing on some stairs and the comment was “everyone can do that” my reply was “not everyone can do that all the time and I am one of those individuals”. Sure I look like I have normal hand strength but that is something that I no longer have. I have issues with both of my wrists like a lot of other people do and I no longer have the strength some days to do the simple things that a lot of people take for granted. After a very long conversation with this individual, they finally understood that I can’t always do what you say everyone can do.

When I mention some of the simple things that I cannot do all the time it shows that I may look like everyone else but there are times that I cannot function like everyone else and here are some examples:
  • Opening a bottle of water or pop – now this is something that I admit can vary from day to day and that is what makes it hard. Sure there are days when I can get that bottle opened without any issues and then there are the days that trying to twist that top off can be a challenge.
  • Picking up a glass – this sounds simple enough but again there are days when I have to be extremely careful how I pick it up because my hands just don’t work the way that they normally do.
  • Lifting up something – there are days when I can lift up my laptop without any issues and then there are the days that it feels like I am lifting a ton of weight. It is nice that I don’t have to move my computer around very often as it means that the lifting of it is limited and then I do need to carry a laptop with me I normally have a smaller and lighter one that I can use.
  • Typing on the computer – there are days when the simple task of sitting and working on the computer can be a challenge because the fingers just don’t want to work. This can be extremely frustrating when you are trying to get something done especially when there is a deadline and you can’t get the words down you need to get down. Most days I can type without any issues but on the days that I have problems I just simply true on the speech recognition problem on the computer and let it do the typing for me.

Now before anyone says that I must have done something to cause this problem it isn’t true. I am an individual that has very small wrists so therefore the tunnels that the nerves go through are extremely small. I have been told by various doctors that sure maybe some of the problems is due to what I like doing but the biggest issue isn’t the repetitive action it is just how my wrists are. When I am doing things that require some lifting I wear braces to ensure that I don’t cause more damage to the wrists but again it is just an aid for me.

I am writing this as it is something that I have had to deal with for quite a number of years. Yes, I look like there is nothing wrong with me and I can do the jobs like everyone else but there are days when the simple tasks don’t seem to be so simple for me. I am just one person that has this issue but I also know that I am not alone with this issue. Of course, it is invisible so it isn’t something that people see so not something that is easy to talk about. When someone says everyone can do a specific task and I know that there are days that I can’t I make sure that I start the conversation to ensure that they understand that making that statement isn’t true and until you know everyone’s issue or situation you cannot use the blanket statements.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

IT conferences

There are a bunch of things that are great about some of the different IT conferences and then there are the challenges that you have to deal with when you attend them. The networking at the various conferences can be great and it also means that you have to be willing to spend some of your time just talking to people and not going to all the different sessions.

The various sessions can be very educational and some of them may not meet your expectations and that is something that you need to understand when you are attending the various events. At one conference we were recently at the person that was doing the presentation started to talk and then other people started to come in after the session started she stopped and wanted them to get seated. There are times that once a session has started the person should just keep talking and not stop just because someone else walked into the room. This same person got upset when people left the session early and had to make a point of mentioning that people where leaving early. It was a conference with a bunch of IT people and there are times when you have to talk a call or emails need to be answered so leaving a session is something that you have to do.

The networking at the IT conferences can be something that can be very helpful to a career and it is also something that you have to understand and manage. For someone that knows a lot of people that attend these events it means that there are times that we just don’t have the chance to talk with everyone all the time. It can be a challenge to make sure that you have talked to everyone that you want to talk to and also not miss some of the things that you want to see and do.

How this is something that can be very frustrating because there are some people that only attend the events to get the free stuff. There are so many things that the vendors are handing out that I look at and can’t figure out what I would do with them but some people seem to really like them. Some of the items are the little give away such as balls that light up and then the little men that wave their arms after you wind them up. Some of these are get for people that have kids but they can get a little much when you see them at every event and the only difference is the vendor that is handing them out.

There are a lot of benefits from attending the different IT conferences and some of them are being visible and some of them are getting your own company name out there. You will never know that can happen by attending these events. You may get some business out of attending these conferences or you may not but at least making sure that you are seen can help a lot. Participating in the various sessions can also show you are comfortable talking to others so that is something else that you have to think about. Asking questions and getting into the various discussions will help you be remembered not just by the vendors but also by some of the other attendees.

IT conferences can be a lot of fun and they can also be tiring and how you handle them will make a big difference. Remember that going to an IT conference isn’t a day off work because you are still working as you are doing the promoting of your business and of yourself.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Desks out in the open

It can be such a distraction when there are desks out in the open. One of such desks is actually sitting in the customer area of a dealership. The desk I think is where you can talk to a staff member about trading in your vehicle but I am really not sure. I think the desk is really just a spot where the staff come and hangs out and make lots of noise.

I understand that part of the dealership isn’t large enough but then there are the times when you see that maybe if they can put this desk closer to the cars instead of in the waiting area from the service department it might be better. Where it is it seems that the staff thinks it is a great spot to just hang out and laugh and all of that. I understand that they need to have a person to talk to about trade ins but considering all the noise that they made it doesn’t sound like it is a great place to talk about trade-ins. We were in one time and they were talking to a person about doing a trade in and we could hear all the conversation so things that should have been private where not private because we knew everything about the vehicle that was being traded in as well as how much the payments would be and everything else.

If a dealership wants to have an area where they can discuss trade ins it should be able to be enclosed or at least in an area that isn’t right in the middle of where customers sit while waiting for their vehicle to be serviced. I am thinking that just moving this area to a different location would be better for the business. Seeing where the desk makes it a location that I wouldn’t want to discuss any business because right beside a four-foot wall is a table where customers are sitting waiting for their vehicle to be serviced.

The desk also makes it difficult to sit and enjoy the time while waiting for service because the noise is something that is a lot louder than even a bunch of customers sitting and having conversations. Staff need to understand what it looks like when they are back and forth to this desk and it is basically just having personal conversations and not business. The move times someone comes back to this location the more it shows that they aren’t busy enough and that doesn’t help.

A trade-in desk at a dealership should be in a location where business can be discussed and not in the middle of customers. We have actually mentioned the situation to the staff and they understand the frustration but there isn’t anything that can currently be done to deal with the situation. I think the biggest thing that they need to do is make sure that the conversations are kept at a lower volume and that might help.

Monday, April 16, 2018

A couple of scams to be aware of

New scam to me: Received a call this morning from "Visa" asking if I authorized a purchase at 4 am this morning to eBay. Of course, I immediately asked which card and the person on the other end said the one starting with "45" which is the standard visa starting numbers. I then asked what the last four digits were on the card and the person hung up.
In a lot of ways, I was having some fun because the last name they asked for isn't the last name on my credit cards and I would have thought the bank would be calling not VISA. They were probably hoping that I would say no I didn't authorize the transaction and then I would give them my credit card number so that they could "reverse" the transaction. If a company is calling me and telling them there is a problem they already have all the information that they need other than me saying yes or no if I authorized the transaction. Scams are getting very interesting and you have to always be so careful when you get these calls. Never give out any information to callers if they should have the information and in a lot of ways even if you think it might be a real call say you will call back with the information and call the real company, not the number the caller provides.

Revenue Canada scam: You receive a text message showing that your refund is ready and you just need to click on a link to download your refund. Well, Revenue Canada doesn’t send text messages with your refund attached. Revenue Canada doesn’t call you to tell you that the police are on the way to your home to arrest you because you did something wrong. These are just a couple of the Revenue Canada scams that I have seen happening in the last little while.

Service Canada scam: there is another scam where you get a text from Service Canada letting you know that to deposit the funds you need to go to this link. Why would the link have as part of the link if it was really from Service Canada?

There are so many scams going on now that you have to be so careful to protect yourself. I know that there are going to be individuals that give out credit card or personal information over the phone but my biggest caution is only give the information to someone if you have made call yourself and you know that you have checked the number you are calling and not calling a number someone provided you when they called you.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Saturday morning

For a lot of us here in Canada we woke up on Saturday morning to hear some news which was upsetting. There had been an accident between a junior “a” hockey team bus and a transport truck in rural Saskatchewan. The worst news was that 14 people had been killed and all of those were passengers on the bus. Yes, the hockey team on it’s way to a Junior “A” playoff game had been killed and the other 15 people had been taken to the hospital with various injuries. Humboldt, Saskatchewan has lost lots of people and the town, province and even the country has been impacted by this tragic accident.

The number of killed on Saturday changed to 15 people killed and that included 9 players between 16 and 21 years of age and 6 other people on the bus including the team’s head coach. It is something to think about all of these families that have lost someone that was part of their family. What some people didn’t realize that was a number of the players from the team were not from Humboldt but from other towns and cities from Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia along with other towns in Saskatchewan. So yes a number of families lost their sons but there are the billet families that have also lost part of their families as well.

The media has been very respectful given the situation this time and that is good because it is hard to figure out what happened and all of those details. It has been something to listen to some of the NHL players and coaches talk about the different bus trips that they took as junior players and some of these same people knew either the players/coaches or family members of the team. The impact of this accident impacts the country as a whole as hockey is so much part of what kids grow up playing here in Canada.

It is hard to accept that one accident during the day can have such a large impact on a country but I have to admit that this accident did. Hockey is part of Canada and when something like this happens the entire country feels it. I know that I have never played hockey and I am not a parent but I am feeling the hurt knowing that there are lots of families now dealing with a lose. There are also lots of families trying to help their injured family member deal with their own injuries as well as the lost of their team mates who in so many ways are their extended family.

Hockey is so much part of Canada and next time you see a team bus on a highway or anywhere remember there are hundreds of those buses that travel the roads each week and sometimes things happen and the hurt will start all over again.