A Thanksgiving Poem (That I Came Up With in 5 Minutes)

Posted: November 24th, 2010

Photo by Atmtx (Flickr)

Mmmm... Photo by Atmtx (Flickr)

Answering mails, launch a website
Mr. Turner wants a call back
Just another day at the grind
Before I hit the sack

Except this one is different
Can’t think of why
Maybe I’ll remember
After a Red Bull high

Hmmm, Twitter seems quiet
Possibly a clue
But my calls to support
Still have to go through

Well, 9PM, almost done
Those projects kicked my ass
Then it finally hits me
A day off at last!

Happy Thanksgiving (and your one day off)!

Top Ten Reasons Your PC Is on The Verge Of Calling It A Career

Posted: November 19th, 2010

I’m not ashamed to admit it, I’ve used a Windows PC all my life. Sure, we like to make fun of it but often it is taken for granted for the workhorse that it is. It’s time we acknowledge its longtime use and give you some signs that it may be on its way to keeping that start button off for good.

10. Just can’t keep up anymore with those annoying little iPods.

9. Way exhausted from loading up all them heavy Photoshop files.

8. All those nasty viruses from porn site visits finally catching up with it.

7. Just had it with your grandparents using it whenever they come around.

6. Doesn’t quite share the same connection with your Twitter friends as you do.

5. That goes double for Facebook.

4. Been dying to show off for the past month that nifty blue screen.

3. It wasn’t like it didn’t notice you eagerly browsing around the Apple store.

2. Face it, they don’t make them today like they did those Windows 95 machines.

1. Going on a permanent defrag with Clippy Clippy.

Five Glorious Things That Will Keep You Freelancing Tomorrow, Maybe The Next Day

Posted: November 10th, 2010

Photo by Banlon1964 (Flickr)

Photo by Banlon1964 (Flickr)

Every day is a good day, right? Anyone?

There are many little joys to freelancing. Actually too many to even revel in them.

That fat check you got from Mr. Jones, spent a week later.

That week you finally took off because you were overworked… passed as if it were only a few hours.

A masterpiece of a project that gave you pride but not giving you the same feeling on a sort-of-blah-as-vanilla project being worked on now.

Then, of course, there are the so-called bad days. I’m not talking about Mondays or slaving away with bird flu and a bad back, but those days where the shit hits the fan and you see your career hit a breaking point.

Why? These stay in our memory forever as we look back on them like childhood memories saying to ourselves “boy was I reall that stupid.” Today, you can learn to do almost anything (actually more like learning to do something right) but there is only one way to really learn something.

The wrong way. Don’t tell me these are unfamiliar.

Month-To-Month Living

Many freelancers have jobs to back them up. Fraidy cats, I say. You never forget the experience of jumping in head first and blindfolded. Nor the wait until your head hits the bottom of that empty swimming pool.

Oh, such as the days where I used a decade-old laptop, worked in a dark room and ate hearty meals of beans day in and day out. Then the crumbs of work to earn those daily beans. Even charging clients in beans but, for a good client, an extra loaf of bread.

There is no greater joy, however, moving up to the can of tuna to accompany your meal.

Lesson: It gets better. It can only get better.

Getting Stiffed

It so happened that, years back, the first client I ever had offered me a great rate (better than beans) and all the work I could use at the time. I’ll admit, I did a half-ass job and was probably a quarter-ass skilled freelancer but work got done by golly.

Long story short, a lot of work and no beans make a freelancer hungry. Don’t sweat it. You’ll live to tell about it, albeit while suffering hunger along the way.

Lesson: Know whatever the hell it is you’re trying to do and don’t forget to collect the deposit.

Computer Crash(es)

Hmmm, computer isn’t booting up today. Restart (times 50) and we have… a blue screen. Dammit, you knew those strange choking sounds were the beginning of the end. Oh well, time to take the day off and hit up your friend to borrow that laptop. Problem solved.

Oh wait, there was still that project you were working on in there trapped on a useless hard drive.

Lesson: Backup. If you skip it, you won’t miss those lost photos pulled off the Victoria’s Secret website anyway.

Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

Being needy for projects is nothing new for anyone new to freelancing. Many projects equals a pretty hefty payday, if I’m correct. Taking on a request for a new, improved Twitter wannabe for big-budgeted Mr. Know-it-not isn’t quite the way to go though.

Sure, we all like to think we are the designer, developer and marketer all in one when all that can really be done is installing WordPress with a cheesy logo. Ambition eventaully comes to terms with ability and crashes back to earth.

Lesson: Before starting a project, stop counting your money as if it were in a big pile right in front of you. Count the hours you’ll spend on forums pleading for help instead.

Screwing Up

The granddaddy of all things that pervades freelancers. Right up there with shooting your friend in the face as the U.S. vice president. The bright side is that we’re neither flying airplanes nor have the doomsday button at out side (unless that is you’re fallback job). It’s only our clients’ businesses at stake.

Analyzing the situation brings thoughts of a coverup, escape plan or working like mad all night hoping it won’t be noticed the next day. Then realizing the best damage control is uncontrollable sobbing while offering an explanation.

Lesson: Just keep doing what you’re doing. You won’t mess this up this lesson.

Thank God It’s Friday, But We Shall Not Letteth Forget We Work

Posted: November 5th, 2010

No Wonder I’m Dumber By The Day

Posted: November 3rd, 2010

Image by Jypsygen (Flickr)

Image by Jypsygen (Flickr)

The Joy of Being An Information Broker

There is not a day that goes by where I marvel at the whole Twitter hootenanny. Check the ticker, come across an article or some clever humor, read it, retweet it . Repeat.

Of course, I make my own contributions by choking down my own RSS feedbag and adding on to everyone else’s endless ticker. It’s somewhat comforting knowing that I’m doing my little part to provide something useful to others while simultaneously enhancing their eye strain.

I haven’t given it much thought until recently, though, about the whole process of the read and retweet. Sharing information is done in quite a volume no matter whether good, bad, so-so or funny but how is all this information getting used?

Well, if it has entertainment value, you get your kicks for five seconds and move on. But an article or blog post? Maybe you’ll spend a minute and think “wow, this might be useful” then bookmark it only never to return to it again.

Over time, doesn’t it end up to scanning even good reads and leave it at that? They pretty much pass through one eye, juggle around the brain then fly out the other as fast as you read the post. I’d say this effect is multiplied by the factor of the thousands of tweets racked up under your username.

Unfortunate Unlearning of One of Our Most Basic Skills

What I’ve really noticed, though, is an interesting phenomenon resulting from this cycle. My attention span has dwindled to somewhere between that of an infant and my neighbor’s cat. I end up scanning everything, even the important emails and articles that I want to read and understand.

I’ve always attributed this to simple information overload and lack of attention=brain is full, go for a walk. Oddly, this effect did happen to continue even if  Twitter was skipped for a few days to get that “RT” tattoo removed from my head.

Slightly worried, I naturally visited the usual doctor,  Google, to see what the big brother had to say. Lo and behold, he came up with an answer. Are you ready for this? Attention deficit… trait or its common name ADT.

Here’s a definition of ADT from Dr. Edward Hallowell (from CNET):

It’s sort of like the normal version of attention deficit disorder. But it’s a condition induced by modern life, in which you’ve become so busy attending to so many inputs and outputs that you become increasingly distracted, irritable, impulsive, restless and, over the long term, underachieving. In other words, it costs you efficiency because you’re doing so much or trying to do so much, it’s as if you’re juggling one more ball than you possibly can.

Then there is this lovely tidbit from Time:

WHAT DISTINGUISHES ADT FROM EVERYDAY STRESS?
If it’s not getting in your way, forget about it. But if you find that you’re having an awful lot of conflicts and not liking life very much, and you’re making quick decisions without giving them the thought they need, then you need to do something about it.

Do I Finally Have An Out From Social Media?

Somehow, I find it a little troubling that I might be on the way to a doom of long-term underachievement from a disorder yet-to-be-made-official. Luckily, the hating life symptom hasn’t appeared yet but Dr. Google is on call in case it does.

Now, however, comes the moment of truth. Give up Twitter, checking the RSS feed, reading blogs and go back to whatever I did before (eat, drink and be merry). Maybe take a long (permanent) walk?

Nah, I think I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. I enjoy my Twitter friends and they need me too (I think).

Plus an ADT pill should be out on the market soon anyway.