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.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

My blog - thoughts and moving forward

I have had this blog for almost 7 years now and I love being able to hide and do some of my writing here because it gives me a way to express things the way I see them.

What I decided to try and do is to go back through the blog entries to see what I can combine and make into either different blog posts or even small e-books as I have a number of articles based on similar topics. I haven’t really started this process yet but as I am sitting and just looking at the number of posts I am realizing that I have done quite a bit of writing over the last 7 years on this blog. I have lots of different ideas and findings written through this blog that I decided to try and see if combining some of the actual entries would either give me some new ideas or help me expand on some of the ideas that I have been writing about. The review of the blog may also show me some of the similar entries that I have done in the past. They are going to remain on the blog because they have been posted but may help me figure out a better tracking method of the topics that I am written about.

I spend some time over the last little while collecting all of the posts into one document and have to admit that it was a big surprise when I finally looked at it as one document. Sure there are going to be some revision of the blogs but when you look at a 1.5” binder full of pages you know that there are lots of pages. As I write this blog the book is currently sitting at 607 pages and line spacing of 1.5 and I am not sure if it will go down during the review or if it will increase but at least I know that I have everything in one document saved in two different spots. No, I don’t want to lose this document after spending the time trying to collect all the blog entries.

The review is going to be a lot of fun as I can see by just quickly looking at some of the titles that I will be looking at things and remembering either where I wrote the blog post or where the idea came from. I will slowly go through the book and maybe I will learn about things as I go and maybe new posts will be written as I start thinking of new ideas.

I love my blog and it has given me the chance to write and express my views. Not everything has been happy with my blog but then it is my blog and if someone doesn’t like reading my views that’s fine because there are lots of other blogs out there to be found.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Planner update

Earlier in March I was talking about my planner and how things where working for me.  Yes I am still working on getting more and more organized and of course that has meant that I have made a few more changes to how I do things.

At the beginning of March I realized that my to do list wasn't working for me and I was keeping too many things in my head.  The keeping everything in my head also meant that I wasn't getting things done when I wanted to and I ended up bouncing around too much. After a bit of thinking and trying to find a time management system that worked for me I ended up with developing my own planner and it seems to be working pretty well.

The planner is once again using the ARC system from Staples which I love and what I do is I work with a new page each day and I list out the things that I want to do during that day. I started with the things that needed to get done on a day and dated the page.  It seemed to work and then I set up a key that makes it easy for me to move things forward or mark as completed.

Through this process I have figured out things that I do everyday and things that I do every week and things that are done only once in a while.  For the things that are done everyday I have a monthly checklist for those items so that I don't have to rewrite them each day.  It means that the little things that are done quickly get a check mark when they are done and then it is onto the next thing on the list.  I have even developed a checklist for a couple of the other things that I work on as some of these are nine different little steps that are done over various times.

What is nice with using the ARC system for this daily to do list is what when the day is over I can move the day to the back of the book and I am ready for the next day.  Sure it means that things are rewritten a few times when I don't get around to working on them but it also means that I am seeing that I am getting things done. The key that I developed also helps me quickly figure out what the item is and what I really need to do.  When I have a bunch of things that need to email it means that I can do them all together instead of messing up and forgetting to do the emails. Thoughts and notes are also put down and then I am able to put them into the correct spot when I go back and review my list at the end of the day. Another great thing about the ARC system is when I am going out to events or meetings I can quickly take the day or two worth of to do's with me so that I know what is ahead of me.

I still have the longer term to do list in my big ARC planner but now I have all the little things that I want and need to do with me and I can see that things are getting done.  I normally have things written even for a couple of days ahead because then the day starts to get too full I know it is time to start to move things to another day and then see how it goes.  

Sure my planner has meant some work at the beginning and end of each day but at least I am now starting to see that I am getting things done and I am not having to try and remember everything.  I hope to be able to continue to improve on my planner method and maybe one day I will be back to only have one big planner and one little ARC book but for now I have the two little ARC books and the big ARC book and it works for me.

Monday, March 19, 2018

You, Me and a Crazy Schedule

You, Me and a Crazy Schedule

As some of you may know I run a small IT consulting business with my husband and that can be a challenge sometimes. For us, it is sometimes a challenge to figure out what we are both working on and how our schedule actually works together. We decided a while ago that one way to try and keep our schedule known to the other was to start using Google Calendar for a lot of the things that we do. One of the key steps that we did for that was to set up a Gmail account for the business and that is where we manage a lot of our schedule.

Yes, managing two schedules for work as well as personal life can be a challenge but we decided that we would be putting all of the different things onto one calendar so that the two of us can see what it going on. Sure the calendar can look a little busy sometimes but at least we both know that is going on and that does help a lot. It also means that if there is a conference coming up or even bills that need to be paid they are entered into the calendar. The important thing to remember is to turn off the reminders on events that are just notes and not something that is time specific.

The calendar has given the two of us a better understanding of the overall schedule that we are dealing with and it helps a lot. I know that there are times when I look at the calendar can start laughing because it just seems like there are weeks when there are so many things on it and then another week it is pretty quite. The quite weeks may look quite but those are normally weeks when bigger things are happening and we are doing other tasks that need to be done.

Our calendar is snyced to both of our phones so that we have it with us when we aren’t home because that also helped let the other one know what is going on. We found that making sure that even the little things are noted means that it is easier to schedule client meetings when we know what else is going on in our lives. The one thing that needed to be on the calendar was all the holidays because without those you could be scheduling a weekend of work when it’s a holiday weekend and people really don’t want to work that weekend. Besides having the calendar on our phones I also have a paper copy of it because it means that if I can on the phone with someone I can quickly see what is going on without having to try and check my calendar which is also on the device I am using for the conversation.

One day I was looking at our calendar and someone asked me how many kids we had because we were so busy. I explained that we didn’t have any kids but when you are managing two work lives, two personal lives and things we do together the calendar can look a little crazy depending on when you see it. Yes, some people may laugh at our calendar but it works for us and that is what is important. We have found a method of keeping track of the different things in our lives and it works for us. It may not work for everyone but that is fine because every is different.