Thursday, June 30, 2016


 There are now different keyboards available in Canada and you may or may not like them.

Recently we decided that it was time to see if we could get a smaller laptop for when you are on the road instead of always carrying around the 15.6 laptop all the time. The decision we needed to consider was size and weight as well as would it do everything that we needed it to do. We thought through some of the different things we wanted and having a basic computer to do some of the daily things was what we really needed. It also meant that size was something else that we needed to consider.

The result for size was something around the 11.6” screen as that would be easy to carry but also large enough to see when sitting and typing. The keyboard was then something that needed to be considered as we wanted an actual keyboard and not just the touch screen keyboard. After a lot of consideration it came down to three different convertible laptop/tablets. The reason for the laptop/tablet device was there are times that I would like to work on a tablet and other times typing on the keyboard is what I want. Another thing we considered was how much storage was available on the system so that some of the items that are worked on can be carried easily and not needing the usb key always being plugged into the device.

The three devices that were then in consideration were:
  • Dell Inspiron 11.6 Touchscreen Convertible Laptop, 500 GB Hard drive
  • Acer Aspire R 11.6” Convertible Laptop, 500 GB Hard drive
  • HP Pavilion x360 11.6” Touchscreen Convertible Laptop, 500 GB Hard drive

We did a lot of reviewing of these three devices as we wanted to make sure that the one that we decided on met the requirements that we had for the device. Usability was the biggest thing and the keyboard was a huge part of the decision factor as well as battery life. After doing all the reviewing that we could it was time to go and actually look at the three devices at a store and see which one worked best. The reason for going to look at the devices at the store was to make sure that typing was easy on the device so writing is a key part of my life.

Canadian bilingual keyboard
Each computer was tested and I found out a major problem with two out of the three keyboards and that was they had the Canadian bilingual keyboard and not the standard keyboard that was available when you could specify an English or French keyboard when you made your selection here in Canada. Also all the pictures on the website of the Canadian stores showed the standard keyboard and not the Canadian bilingual keyboard. Now what some of the manufacturers have done is make one keyboard that will maybe meet the needs of some customers in Canada. The keyboard has an extra key before the enter key on the right hand side and on the left hand side there is an extra key between the z key and the shift key. As a touch typist I found that the extra key made it very difficult to type because I couldn’t easily select the shift key or the enter key. We left the store so that a bit more investigation could be done of the available keyboards before making our final decision on the device we were going to buy.

A chat with one of the companies let me know that yes here in Canada the choice of keyboard available was the Canadian bilingual keyboard and that was it. I didn’t have a choice between English and French keyboards any longer. The person during the chat said that if I wanted the standard keyboard I could always order the computer through Amazon or some place like that. The challenge with Amazon is so many things if ordered through will not be shipped to Canada so I would still end up with the Canadian bilingual keyboard.

standard keyboard
So the decision was made as to which computer we were going to be getting so off to the store we went to get the one that I could type on. After buying the computer the first thing we did after leaving the store was to open the box to ensure that we did have the standard keyboard and I am happy to say that we did get the standard keyboard and typing is pretty good on the new device.

The device that we did end up getting was the HP Pavilion x360 11.6” Touchscreen Convertible Laptop, 500 GB Hard drive. Typing on the keyboard is pretty good and it is nice to not have to fight with the extra keys that were on the other two devices.

What this showed me was that just knowing what you want isn’t good enough and you cannot rely on the pictures on websites to show that a device will meet your needs. Actually typing on each of the devices showed me some of the issues that I was going to have with the other keyboard. Making sure that you can type on the computer that you are going to be using is very important. I would suggest that if you are going to buy a computer try typing something on the keyboard to ensure you are comfortable using it. A picture of a keyboard is one thing and the actual keyboard layout and feel is something else.

The computer is nice and I have been able to get some writing done on it already. This entire blog was written using the new device and I can say that the device is meeting the needs for me. Thank you HP for providing the standard keyboard as the keyboard that you offered here in Canada. You got our dollars and the other two companies ended up losing out just because they didn’t give me a choice on the keyboard they offered.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Living with depression

For so many people living with depression is part of their life. There are a lot of people that deal with extreme depression and then there are those that deal with what is considered mild depression.

Mild depression can basically be explained as having days when you don't want to deal with anything or anyone around you. Yes, it can be a very difficult time as you don't want to face all the things that are part of life. Wanting to basically tunnel in and hide from everything is the best way to explain what it feels like.

Of course depression varies from person to person but understanding some of what is going on is very important. Anyone can deal with depression at various times of their lives and there are times when it does seem harder than other times.

The signs and symptoms of depression are:
  • Feeling of helplessness and hopelessness.
  • Lose of interest in daily activities.
  • Appetite or weight changes.
  • Sleep changes
  • Anger or irritability
  • Loss of energy
  • Self-loathing
  • Reckless behaviour
  • Concentration problems
  • Unexplained aches and pains

Having someone you can talk to is very important when you are dealing with even the mild stages of depression. Another thing to remember is that being able to be around people even when you are depressed may help you feel a little less depressed. Of course, part of you is saying you just want to hide from the world but knowing that just being around others at some points may actually help you feel better.

It is very important to understand what depression is and what it feels like for each person. Depression isn't a one size fits all type of thing and even the treatment of it varies per person and that needs to be remembered. Being able to figure out what works for you and how you can overcome the feelings depression are very important.

Mild depression can result in a roller coaster of emotions and it can happen during one day or it can be a few days of these feelings. There are times of frustration, feeling of loneliness, and all those other feelings that seem to spin inside of you. Being able to face each of the feelings head on can make a difference in how the depression is handled.

Depression being mild or severe is a part of so many people's lives and just saying “get over it” doesn't help. When you think someone you know is feeling a little down why not ask them out for coffee or even just to talk. You may be just what they need, to let them know they are not alone and just listen to what they are saying. A friend being there to listen to what they have to say can pull them out of that place where they aren't feeling like they are valued.

When depression hits somethings people find listening to music can help me feel better or being able to sit and talk to that friend who understands helps. It is so difficult to say to someone that deals with depression that “you know how they feel” even if you yourself deals with depression. The feeling from one person to the next is so different so just being able to be there to listen to the other person can make a big different. If you are someone that deals with depression and someone else says “me too” that can let you know that are like you and they don't want to say “I know how you feel” because they may or may not.

Living with depression can be a challenge not just for the person that lives with it but their whole family. Being able to face that you do have even mild depression is important because you will be surprised how many other people will say “me too” when you even mention the word depression. Depression isn't such a bad word, as people have realized that it isn't something to be ashamed of and it is something that is very common in society now a days.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Restaurants and service

There are times when I have wondered if the restaurants actually do any training for their staff or do they just throw them into the job.

We have been at a few restaurants and I have noticed that some of the servers don't seem to really understand what is expected from them. The latest situation was a mix up with an order. We ordered a chicken fajita salad and it came out as a beef fajita salad. The server told us that there was only the beef option on the selection menu where she punches in the order even thou the menu only stated chicken was the option. We checked the menu and it did state chicken and her comment when we wanted to send it back was “now I have to pay for this”. We should never had heard that from the server. She then asked if they could just remove the beef and put chicken on the salad and my husband said yes no problem at all. He then said if that couldn't be done he would have bangers, beans and mashed which was his second choice.

Now this is where the situation goes from bad to worse. The server then comes over and states that it was her mistake that the chicken fajita salad option was on the selection board and she didn't notice it. After saying that she says she was order the bangers, beans and mashed for my husband. We then let her know that she had offered the chicken as a replacement on the salad which is what he wanted in the first place. She said “oh, I just order the bangers, beans and mashed, now do you want to be cancel that?” By this time we were both extremely frustrated and he said he would eat what she ordered for him.

Now the situation could have been handled so differently and I don't think either of us would have been frustrated. The server should never of said “now I have to pay for this” almost saying to us, you just have to eat what I ordered even if it is wrong. The order could have been easily corrected if she had of just replaced the beef for chicken on the salad. Instead it meant that we were both extremely frustrated with the order and that meant that our dinner wasn't enjoyable.

There are so many times that servers will actually either say “I didn't hear you request ....” or “oh, the kitchen made the mistake”. It doesn't matter where the mistake happens us as customers shouldn't hear where the finger is being pointed. If there is an error because of an error in an order it should be corrected without the finger pointing that so often happens. A good server will identify that there was an error and try and get it resolved so that the customer has a good experience.

The more finger pointing that happens between the restaurant staff the move it shows that they is a lack of training on how to handle these situations. If a restaurant wants to succeed in business they have to know that the servers who are the ones that are dealing with the customers are ensuring that each customer has a good experience each time there are in the restaurant.

Training servers and all staff in a restaurant is very important. Making sure that customers feel welcome and satisfied is the key to a business succeeding. Without the customers coming into the store there is no business and bad reviews are also a way to destroy the business. If a customer isn't happy when they leave they will let their friends know about their experience and the restaurant may never know how many customers they really lost.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


A schedule can mean so many different things to working individuals. A schedule can mean that at a certain time you always do something. For other people a schedule can mean that at some point during a day you will attempt to get something done.

For people that are self employed a schedule can actually just be a guideline of things that should be done. Knowing that things should be done on a given day is great in a lot of ways as it can ensure that it is at least done when it is needed to be done.

The calendar that I have been using is very helpful as a reminder of when things should be done. Of course, there will always been things that are required to be done at a certain time like client meetings or visits but those are only some of the things that we have been adding to our calendar. The calendar that we have been using makes it easy to see when things are due and when meetings and such are. The calendar is also great as a means of tracking all of those other little things that need to be completed.

For us, a calendar is a great way to remind ourselves of the little things that also need to be done without having to do it at a specific time. The calendar that we have been using is the Google calendar and it means that we can set appointments for ourselves for all the various tasks and meetings that we have. The other nice thing about the calendar is if you set a reminder notification to appear it will appear and until you acknowledge the notification it doesn’t go away. I like this notification because what I do is if something need to be done on a specific day I will not acknowledge the notification until I have completed the item. This means that if I get busy and don’t get to the item until late afternoon or evening it will still be showing as an appointment.

Schedules really do vary based on the person and their job. There are always going to be the items that must be done at a specific time as they involve others. Being able to set up the appointments are reminders of the other tasks is also good because it means then the tasks are not forgotten when you get busy.

Recently we were at an event and we were talking to someone else but a possible demo and I was able to pull out our calendar and see when we would have the time to see the demo. Sure some of the items on the calendar where just the five or 10 minute tasks but at least it helped us focus on the days when we currently didn’t have a bunch of those reminders already scheduled.

Schedules will vary for each person and if it is for work or personal. Knowing what words best for you is important. The method that we use I know works well for us because it is a blend of both personal and business as being self-employed that is our life. Making sure that we have time for ourselves is also important and that is some of the times that are actual scheduled on the calendar that we use. Our schedule works well for us and that is great and it might not work for someone else. Your schedule or calendar has to work for you and don’t like others tell you that your method is wrong.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Food allergies

Food allergies are something that people have to deal with. It may change your life in some ways but it doesn’t take away a lot of the things that you enjoy.

Being someone that grew into my various food allergies I have had to deal with a lot of the emotions that go with this change in my life. I was the girl that didn’t know anyone until I was working that had food allergies so I really didn’t understand what it was like to have to avoid something as it could result in a life-threatening reaction. My first exposure to food allergies was when I head about a girl I worked with having a reaction at a Christmas party after eating some soup that had anchovies in it. She ended up in emergency because of her food allergy.

The next time I encountered food allergies was when I was sitting in an allergists office and I was explaining how my face would swell up when I ate certain foods. Now this is when things changed for me in some ways. The result of this explanation was me being handed an auto-injector and being told that I had food allergies. Yes, food allergies to things that I normally ate but after that day had to change how I handled food.

Food allergies don’t rule my life, they have just changed some of the experiences in my life but it still means that I can enjoy a lot of things in my life. I had gone through the guilt of feeling different than others because I have to mention the allergies when I am in restaurants or visiting friends. I don’t look any different than anyone else I just have to avoid certain foods so that I don’t have a reaction.

So many times I have heard people say to me that I don’t look like I have food allergies but there isn’t an appearance for someone like me. Food allergies are an invisible condition until we have the reaction so it can be a challenge. Having food allergies doesn’t make me any different than anyone else. Sure it means that I have to talk about it to try and educate people but that’s it. I have had to deal with the emotional impact of having food allergies but it will never define who I am. I am not weak or defective because I have food allergies and I have had to realize this.

Food allergies are something that so many people are dealing with now and being able to stand tall and say yes I have food allergies but I am still like everyone else is very important. Sure, I may feel guilty when things have to be modified for me but I have come to realize that no matter what I didn’t ask to have food allergies and I didn’t end up with food allergies because of choices that I made. I have food allergies because that is how my body has decided it will handle things and not because I choice to have them.

Food allergies yes are part of my life and will be for the rest of my life but I am not ruled by my food allergies and will never see myself as weak or defective because of them.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Vendor Calls

It is always interesting when we receive vendor calls because they quite often think they are calling a large business and not a two person consulting company. Vendors need to do just a little bit of research before they start making calls because they they wouldn't be wasting their time or my time.

One thing that vendors really need to realize is that there are good times to call people and times that just aren't so good. For me, the not good time is before 9 am as I am trying to get my day organized. Like a lot of business people the time before 9 am is normally spent trying to get as much done as you can before everything else starts piling up for the day. Vendors that make calls to see if you are aware of their products before 9 am will not get very good answers from me.

When a vendor calls me before 9 am I try my best to give them the quick answers hoping that they will get what they want and then I can get back to doing what I was doing. One vendor when they called, I was giving them the quick answers how we knew about them, our clients use the product and the caller started to snicker. Now maybe something funny was happening near them but it isn't a good business practice to start laughing when someone is telling you the answers to the questions you have asked. The person that started and wouldn't explain their snicker, ended up getting a lecture from me about that wasn't very professional behaviour and then I hung up.

Vendors need to remember that their calls can do one of two things, not just what they intend. One they can make a person (potential customer) not want to deal with you or maybe open a door. Normally a vendor has got a potential customer contact information at a conference which means the person may have already acquired the information they wanted.

The result of vendor calls can have such a different result depending on how you are calling and when. If you understand that first thing in the morning is very important to people you would call a little later in the day. Also if you do a little bit of research about the client or potential client that you are calling, you may find that no matter when you call them, they might be a little friendlier as they can see you have taken a bit of time to do some homework about who they are and what they do.

Thursday, June 9, 2016


This is a question that can get some really interesting answers when you ask it in certain environments.

The question why is something that can help you figure things out and also help make others understand how something is being done. I ask the question why when I am talking to clients as I would like to understand their processes.

Here are some of the answers you get when you ask the question why?
  • It’s just done that way.
  • We have done it like this forever and it just works.
  • I’m not sure why we do it this way but if you can think of another way please let us know.
  • Just because.
  • Honestly I don’t know.

Yes, these are some of the answers to the question of why are you doing “X” a certain way. I ask this question normally when I am trying to document a process and want to understand why it’s being done a certain way. I have found that there are cases that a process must be done in a certain order due to regulations. Most of the reasons that I get for why it is being done a certain way is because that’s how we have done it and we can’t see any other way of doing it.

At some meetings I have been given very interesting looks when I simply ask “Why?”. I am not trying to be mean, I am trying to get a clean understanding about the steps in a progress. I have even got this same look when I ask about a policy to ensure that it is clean and understandable.

When I receive the answer of “just because” that normally means that there isn’t a clean reason why it is being done in a certain way. If this happens I try to sit down with the individuals performing the task to see what steps are involved and maybe see if there is an easier way of getting the task done. There have been a number of times that I have been able to ask for clarification and we have been able to make the task easier after knowing all the steps that are involved. When you are trying to figure out a process the best person to talk to is the person that is performing the task rather than management. Management has one idea of the process and the person doing the task may have a different idea.

Making some recommendations after getting all the answers to the question “why” can also be interesting. In a lot of cases, the changes that are recommended are based on other conversations and observations. If a process isn’t documented at all it can be a challenge to actually find out all the steps because so many steps seem to be automatic for the person doing the task. What works very well when you are tyring to capture all the steps is either have the person try and teach you the steps or try and video tape the person doing the task so that you can catch even the smallest steps that are required to complete the task. The smallest steps are normally the ones that are missed because of them being so small or simple.

Why, can lead to a lot of puzzles being solved and even some simple changes. Next time you are having a problem and can’t figure out the solution sit back and ask yourself “why” am I doing this task a certain way. You may find out that by making a few little changes to the process where possible you are going to make it easier on yourself.

Monday, June 6, 2016


There are quite a few websites now that seem to forget that not everyone has the faster internet connection going.

Some websites feel that having flash and all the most modern things means that it is the best thing for the customers. In some cases it means that a customer may leave the site even before the actual content is loaded because of how long it takes to actually load the home page. The other issue with some of the modern pages is they aren’t even compatible with the mobile devices. Not every device has flash as part of the system. We use a Blackberry for work and we have found that there are a number of sites that we don’t see anything due to flash/java not being part of what we have.

Websites need to ensure that they are compatible to a number of devices both desktops, laptops, tablets and mobile devices. Making sure that it just works on the latest and greatest doesn’t mean that it is going to work for everyone and that is something to consider. When you are designing a website try and get a few people to test it using different devices before it goes public. To ensure that a website is compatible with mobile devices there are tools that can help with that. This is the one that I have used and found that it is pretty simple to use. It gives you a score and also a list of things that you might or should consider fixing to make your site mobile friendly.

Another tool that I have used is which is a page speed test. This will help you see how quickly your page will load on both mobile and desktops. It gives you a score out of 100 and a list of things that you should or might want to consider fixing. Being able to preform these tests will help you see some of the issues that someone using your website might come across.

These are just two of the different tools that are out there for helping ensure that a website is user friendly. As a business you want to ensure a potential customer experience is good on your website as in some cases your website will be the only thing a potential customer sees. If they run into too many issues navigating the site they may avoid you as a business due to the issues that they dealt with.

Remember, your website is how a lot of potential customers will evaluate you as a business. If you don’t have a good experience on your website they may never give you a chance to be a business they use.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Allergy Season

So many people suffer with allergies and everyone handles them differently.

For some people allergy season can be the stuffed up nose and others it can the extreme headaches due to the sinuses being stuffed. The differences can even be based on the day and what the pollen or allergen is like. There are times when allergies don't seem to be bad and then all of a sudden things get worse.

Allergy season runs for various lengths of time and it depends on the individual. Some people are allergic to a specific pollen or item so they only suffer for a short period of time. There are people who are allergic just to a certain animal and only suffer when exposed to that animal. There are individuals who have dust and/or mold allergies so they can suffer throughout the year.

Allergies are different per individual so that is something some people don't understand. Some individuals think because they suffer a certain way that everyone else is the same. The other thing is for people that don't have allergies and they read about the common reactions and then think everyone will have just what is on the list. The list of reactions are the most common but reactions vary based on individual and even locations. A certain allergic reaction can also vary based on the rest of the environment.

It is always interesting when I talk to others about allergies because there are days when no one would think I have both seasonal and environmental allergies (trees, grass, ragweed, dust, mold and pets). For me, my allergy season varies almost on a daily basis. There are times when pollen seem to really bother me and another time I am fine even when others are really suffering.

As I am writing this I am dealing with the tree pollen and have the sinus headache as well as the stuffed nose. Another day even when pollen are the same I don't have any reactions and some days I just want to hide and let the reactions pass.

Allergy season can vary for everyone and that is what is very important to realize. Allergy seasons vary in length as well as severity and understanding that is important. The other thing to remember is that everyone reacts and suffers differently and list of reactions is just a guideline not the total list of reactions.