Protection of the digital variety

Famous last words: no rush, I’ll do it tomorrow or even worse, it’s a new computer, I don’t need to worry about backing up the OS. I’m a smart, sensible person, so why are these jobs so difficult to get started.

This morning I awoke to the ‘ASUS black screen of death’. I didn’t realise such a term existed until I scrolled through message board after message board looking for a solution. Turns out that my problem could be hardware based or it could be some dodgy software. I usually wait before downloading the upgrades that come through; after all it’s not that unusual to hear about patches being published for long-awaited upgrades.

I’m quite certain there was nothing of that sort last night. I published a post over at one of my other blogs (Heather’s Helsinki) and then spent some time checking out themes. I want to update the theme over there, I’m just not sure what I want. As inspiration didn’t strike, I logged off, shut down and every so gently closed the lid (I specifically remember this because I didn’t want the dog to hear the ‘click’ and think that some treat was on its way).

This morning I open up the lid fully expecting that the sign-on screen will appear. Instead I was faced with a black screen and the mouse pointer hovering in the centre. I move  the mouse in slow circles to start with, in the vain hope that this motion will somehow, miraculously kick-start my computer. No such luck. My tea suddenly tastes bad and I remember the message that has hovered in the bottom right hand corner for the last couple of months. The one that baldly reminds me that I haven’t backed up my OS and it would be a very good idea to do it now. I didn’t even check the box that said ‘don’t show this message again’. Good thing, I’m quite sure I would never have found the back-up without it.

However there will be nothing to back-up if I can’t get the computer working again. Files and pictures are all in the cloud, and I’ve done practice recoveries to get them back, so those things I wasn’t so concerned about. Having a pretty silver box with a black screen that does absolutely nothing was something that was concerning me BIG TIME.

I commandeer the tablet and type in what I think is an appropriate search time. The search engine disagrees and gives me results that are close in a vague sort of ‘dogs are close to cats because they’re both pets’ way. I change the order of the words and the results start making more sense and also scare me much more. A third try hits the target and after reading those message board posts I’m feeling decidedly queasy. An appointment allows me to put off making any sudden moves and I head off into the morning determined not to let my ailing computer disturb me any more than it already has.

I return home and find a couple of small jobs to do before opening the computer again. No change. Absolutely no change. Black screen and the mouse pointer hovering ever so calmly. I track down the mornings search results and start reading them word for word. One instruction is repeated a few times. Hold the power button down for 20 seconds, release and restart. It was as good a fix as any. Nothing to lose and everything to gain. I did as instructed and tried not to hold my breath as I heard the start-up sounds.

Success was close at hand THIS TIME. it would seem. Alas there were no DVD’s handy to run the back-up there and then. My food shopping trip on the way home from school turned into a hunt for DVDs. Twice the computer went to sleep over the course of the afternoon and both times I was afraid the black screen would reappear. Thankfully, what ever issue there was, it seems to have passed. There have now been three restarts without issue. Maybe this was an isolated incident. Either way, I’ve no interest in a repeat occurrence and can report that the back-up has been run and I’m now 100% protected.

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Thank goodness that is over…

Firstly, let me say thank you for following my ramblings over this last year. The year 2012  was filled with challenges, and while I’ve coped with most of them, the last two months have been especially difficult. I’m drained mentally and exhausted just thinking about how I navigate the next month.

Simply put, my priorities got all skewed up and I said yes to unasked questions and didn’t put boundaries or limitations on myself. Instead of setting up my own business, I’ve been working for my employer all this time, and my business is ‘dead in the water’. Treading water is a better description. Actually I did a lot of research and back-ground work, I’m just not in the place I thought I was going to be …

I told my replacement that I would stay until December 31st. Then two weeks before that deadline fell due, the managing director threw a rather large spanner in the works. The Engineer is once again the boss and so in a way I’m back where I was two years ago. Without going into too much detail it is obvious that the current situation is untenable for all concerned. K visited my office the week before Christmas and asked if I would consider staying on one more month.

I’d seen this question coming, and while I could have said no, and probably should have said nothe people there are like family and it would feel wrong from an ethical point of view to just walk away. I said yes, with a few conditions! January 31st would be absolutely my last day and there would be no coming back to help out, unless it was absolutely an emergency. Also, my hours would be limited, freeing me up for study and this never-ending setting up the business project. I would merely be a presence in the office until the end of the month, giving K enough time to get all the pieces together. Deadlines all around, I think everyone is happy now!

So school resumes next week, work continues tomorrow and I’m hoping that there will be something positive to report before too long.

Now, without further ado I have some other blog posts to publish tonight, a dog to walk, and sauna to relax some very tense muscles.

Now that I’ve written this, I’m feeling much more confident that January 2013 won’t be such the train-wreck I’d earlier imagined.

Hurdles: real and imagined.

Real hurdle: still working for previous employer. I don’t say no and they don’t set limits. Like a good friend said, a match made in heaven!

Imagined hurdle: my oomph has moved on without me. At least that’s what it feels like. I’m going through the motions in every part of my life.

Real hurdle: my oomph has moved on without me. See above.

Imagined hurdle: not enough time. See number 1.

I’ve set myself a deadline of December 31. Fresh start from January 1. Now I have to jump over these hurdles.

It’s my life!

It’s my life! Although really, is it? It’s also woven into plenty of other people’s lives. Where do I stop being me and start being the part of the bigger picture? Or someone else’s picture?

Warning, this post is going up on three of my blogs, so if you see this more than once, my apologies in advance. It’s quite possible that the comments each blog generate will be quite different. Oh dear, is that some sort of social experiment I’m running.

Anyway, I’ve some to the realization that if I don’t prioritise RIGHT NOW and put some things ahead of others, stop doing some things and start doing more of other stuff, nothing is going to move forward and my unhappiness / disgruntled factor is just going to take over more and more of my life.

Tomorrow morning, we the family, are headed to the German capital, although The Engineer is none too keen about the trip after being away so often during spring. It seemed like a really good idea when we booked the tickets…

I’m frantically making sure all my obligations have been met, although the unanswered emails keep growing, as do the comments that you, my readers have left here.

This weekend will be about family. Hopefully, I can have a few moments of peace to myself to get my head back on straight and life back on track.

It also means that Heather’s Helsinki will become my prime focus. No more Six Word Saturdays for a while! Hopefully we get some more barbeque action though J

I’m new at this, some help please!

If you work from home, how do you do it? Get the balance between home and work I mean?

For the length of my ride this morning this question was foremost in my thoughts. I dress properly in the morning, as if I am heading to the office. Yet somewhere early in the day, especially so if there is no reason to leave the house, my eye gets distracted by the house and so I think, 15 minutes won’t hurt. Or the blog takes longer to write than I’ve allowed on the clock. Then the research material doesn’t fit together or a crucial part is missing. Let’s not even mention email.

Now that the young man of the house is on summer holiday there is an additional distraction.

Presently my set up is:

Shared desk space with my partner (in life, not business!), shared printer, own computer. Paper in boxes, paper in folders, paper in plastics bags, paper in paper bags: by paper I mean printed stuff, including yet not limited to magazines, letters, brochures, trade info, ideas, reminders, application forms etc.

Should I think about renting an office space? There are plenty of office suites around the city, with rents charged according to size and location. Financially, this was a step that I was anticipating 18 months – 2 years down the track. If I’m not getting anything done at home, it could well be better in the long-term.

Space wise we do not have the luxury of a dedicated office. Our current office takes up one corner in our open living / dining room. A desk in the bedroom is out of the question from a space point of view, and also for my own piece of mind. Now if I wake at three in the morning, I’m not disturbing anyone if I sit at the desk for an hour or so.

There is one other alternative: I could buy dedicated ‘Heather only’ filing cabinet. My ‘favourite’ furniture store has quite a nice unit called Alex, 9 drawers and stands a little over one metre high. Times 2 would be 18 different lockers that would more than cater for my needs at the present. Although space is at a premium, and I’m reluctant to bring more furniture into the house, the paper situation is driving me crazy.

Now that I’ve thought out loud for a little while, I’d like to know what you think about my situation and if you work from home, how do you do it? All comments and ideas eagerly anticipated. If you know of someone who works from home and has a good set up, please pass this on and ask them to comment. Even if you enjoy the luxury (IMO!) of a separate room to work from, I still want to hear how you cope with putting on the ‘office’ hat as opposed to the ‘home’ hat.

My next survey

I had such a great response to the last survey that I thought I would do another one! I will get the survey results from survey # one analysed in the next few day. I will say there were some great responses and plenty of good comments.

Without further ado, here is survey # 2: the topic of the day is Public Transport. The good news is that I have learnt from my previous mistakes and the survey has no tricky questions or problems with yes / no answers.

Of course, if you find any problems please point them out. It’s all a learning curve!

Edited to add: feel free to pass on to your friends 🙂

Research, research and still more research (or you never stop learning!)

This week has been most interesting from a research point of view. I found out that the people staffing the office in charge of distributing start-up funding are not nearly as scary as imagined. In fact, quite the opposite. Monday morning saw me sitting in the office of one counsellor who jumped out of her seat three times to confer with her colleague down the hall. Then she swiveled her chair and collected more information from the filing cabinets behind her. She was more than forthcoming about my need to gather papers from my old college (on its way) as well as the taxman (ordered online at 2143, delivery anticipated today or Monday). A nice packet of papers is being built-in preparation for lodgement.

My online endeavours didn’t go so well. That’s not exactly true. I managed to create a short and simple survey. Said survey however suffered from being the free version and thus I wasn’t able to ‘pipe’* the questions accordingly. As I’m not in a financially viable position to upgrade at this point in time, it just means that my next survey needs to be clever. Or I stay away from asking why on yes or no questions!

The best part of this week was hanging out at the Cruise Terminal chatting to the passengers returning to their ships. Earlier I’d been asking my questions early in the morning as people were heading out. Very different responses from the two groups. Those that have had a chance to see Helsinki were much more forthcoming in their opinions than those who were just heading out. I’m going to keep up the research, although the focus will change week on week. Next week I’m going to start asking about public transport (which I must say is VERY good in Helsinki!). Today I’ve ordered some almost free business cards and will be handing them out at the harbour. They will promote the blog, Foursquare © and Twitter ©, so hopefully I can generate traffic from Helsinki visitors and get some dialogue happening, all the while building the brand!

This morning my mentor and I chatted for an hour and have worked out our next step in the plan of attack. He was disappointed to hear that a couple of my contact attempts had gone unanswered. I’m going to try again via the telephone and see if that gets any response. I have twelve days to tie everything together to a final package. This has gone much slower than I anticipated, although these last two weeks of market research have been invaluable. The product is taking shape!

Yesterday I took the number 16 bus from Herttoniemi, through the city to Hernesaari where the Cruise Terminal is located. I arrived at the bus stop and it appeared that one bus had not arrived as there were a great many disgruntled faces to be seen. I overheard one couple were being advised that they could take a taxi and guessed they were heading for the terminal also. Just to be sure I asked where they headed? ‘Back to the boat, love’ in lovely Australian accents came the answer. ‘So am I!, we can catch the bus together – I’m sure it will be here soon’. Sure enough the bus arrived and we all piled on. P and M sat at the front and I moved to the rear of the bus.

Then, as we were driving through Kulosaari (the next island and suburb along) past the Chinese, Indian and Iraqian embassies I thought to myself that I was wasting an ideal opportunity – at the next stop I moved to the front of the bus and asked if I could sit with them and they could ask any question about Helsinki as we went along. So, my plan to describe the trip for my next Heather’s Helsinki post went down the drain, however we go to talk all about their trip and why they had done somethings and not others. Invaluable. Oh, and we did talk a little about the passing scenery …

If you answered my survey this week: A VERY BIG THANKYOU. I’ll get the responses tabulated and post them in the coming weeks.

* Piping refers to yes / no questions and being directed to the appropriate subset of questions.

Testing Survey Monkey

This is what I’ve been playing with this morning. I have some research questions and answers from the field. Now I thought I would take it one step further. However, it seems my programming skills leave a lot to be desired. So instead of a pop up box, or even a pop up invitation, here is a link to follow:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/7YX8NJ9

It will take all of two minutes and is as much about me testing poll tools as it is doing some market research..

Thanks in advance for your time. Note survey will close June 1st, 2012