Monthly Archives: January 2012

What a joke, everyone is broke. Our pride doesn’t let us talk about it.

It is no secret, everyone is broke. Simple things in life, paying rent, a mortgage, grocery shopping, or a Friday night at a pub has to be a big deal in our budget these days.  Everyone thinks it is only them that is having hard times.  Just because you don’t talk to your neighbor, doesn’t mean they aren’t feeling the same pinch.

We’re too proud to admit things to the people we smile at every day. There is a real issue going on with EVERYONE.  Yes, we have shelter, and we can eat. But we’re all struggling right now, all of us.  No one likes to be the first one to admit it.

Think about it, you work hard each and every day, and every week to get ahead.  It’s fine to try and just pay the bills, and that seems to be the focus of what everyone around you is doing “let’s just pay the bills and wait for things to get better”.  Well, to be honest, things aren’t getting better – they are getting worse, much worse.

People are getting foreclosed on every single day. Everyone is pinching their pennies. The proud thing to do, is to NOT talk to your neighbor and act like the deep depression (officially called recession) is not affecting you. But it is… It is affecting you, your neighbor, the guy three doors down, and the family two streets over.

Wake up people. Where does pride end, and realism take over?

To give an example. While your finances aren’t going as far these days – while your purchasing power of your earned wage seems to go less – has your bank lowered their service fees? Of course not. Has the government lowered their taxes on what you owe? Of course not.

You, and me both, are getting downgraded financially, and no one is talking about it.

The stuff we buy, whether it be potato chips or coffee, the price increases, and the content volume is decreased. We feel like the dollar is still worth a dollar, but is it?  Pay attention, we’re on a downward spiral to never never land…  Who has money to go on vacation anymore?  Who has money to buy something silly and stupid like we use to? Every single expenditure we do these days has to be a calculated effort.

The world is different now. You won’t hear that from your neighbors, but you will hear it from me. I am not afraid to talk about it.

Grocery shoppers who use to walk away with 4 bags of groceries are walking way with only 3… That is soon to be 2 bags… Don’t think it isn’t happening. It is an incremental amount over time, that you are not suppose to notice.  10 cents here, 25 cents there, its not even noticeable until you walk away from the cashier and realize “gee, my dollars aren’t going as far as they use to”..

So now that I’ve called it out – what is the real solution?

Unfortunately there isn’t one.

What there IS though, is the fact, that everything you’ve noticed is exactly true and happening. While the major news media outlets won’t officially call it, I will. WE ARE IN A DEPRESSION. THE FIRST ONE SINCE THE 1930’S. YOU’RE LIVING THROUGH A DEPRESSION RIGHT NOW.

OMG (oh my god), could it be true? The answer is YES. Just because you don’t hear it on the TV, doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

This is a depression. Hard working individuals with decent jobs are struggling to survive.

THAT IS A DEPRESSION.

So, granted, your TV may be on, your internet connection may be working, maybe even you were able to get a McDonald’s meal this week.

YOU”RE STILL LIVING DURING THE 2011-2012 DEPRESSION.

Where is your savings? Where is that bundle of cash you have worked so hard to get?  Money in, money out, it goes quick doesn’t it?

We’ve become a society this day and age, where it isn’t ideal to share what is happening with the person next door. They don’t talk to you either. We’re all isolated. Is that a good thing, or bad thing?

What I will tell you is this…

I’m posting this on my blog for 72 hours. If I don’t get a few decent comments from people out there, ranting about this problem, then I’m going to be that neighbor next door that pretends the world isn’t actually happening. I’ll delete this blog post and act like everyone else is — it’s all in our minds, it’s a conspiracy theory, and anyone that points out the obvious deserves to wear a tin foil hat.

I’m broke, and so are you.  Admit it.

Who’s making money here? Banks with their service fees, car insurance with mandatory charges, think about it. Key organizations are doing well during this depression. You and I? We’re fighting to get rent, mortgage, utilities and groceries paid.  Yeah, life is just rosey isn’t it, but no one talks about it.

If you are upset, SAY SOMETHING.

This is the first step in getting the real issue recognized and maybe people realizing where we are.. the sooner we admit it, the faster we can all get to a solution.

People always react stupidly to life’s problems.

This happens every single day, and it is time someone points it out.  You’ve probably done this, I’ve done this, and everyone you know usually does this…

 

 

 

 

Have you ever found yourself in these silly predicaments?

1. You hate your job, so you start looking at job ads and sending resumes to them
Wrong approach.

2. Your bank account is low, the bills are mounting, so you cut back on your cellular phone plan or lower your TV channel package.
Wrong approach
.

3. Sales at work are dwindling, to get new customers, you lower your prices, put on a major SALE and advertise.
Wrong approach.

4. You had a major fight with a friend, your boss, your spouse, so you decide to go out drinking on Friday night to calm your nerves.
Wrong approach.

By now you’re probably wondering how all of these solutions to these types of problems are wrong.  See, told you, people always react stupidly to life’s problems. While all of those reactions seem like they help the situation, all they actually do, is contribute to the problem.

How can that be? You might say…

It always helps to take a particular situation, exaggerate the same “rule of thumb”, to see how the point remains the same. Let’s take a look at #5 now:

5. The titanic ship is sinking, so you grab a bucket and start bailing water.
Wrong approach.

AHA! Now you’re beginning to understand.  Our first instinct when life presents problems is to look for a quick, and easy solution.  That only works for a short time, and all it does is set you up to receive similar amount of problems in the future.

Let’s look at what your reactions just caused:

1. You start looking at job ads and sending resumes to them, you land a job, but now your new job has an entire different set of problems. You hate your co-workers, the job description doesn’t match what you had expected. Your boss is a jerk, and the company is about to be bankrupt next year.
This reaction created more problems.

2. You cut back on your cellular phone plan or lower your TV channel package.  However next month, you went over you cell phone minutes and got charged $35 extra which negated the savings you were expecting.  Since you had less channels on TV, you found yourself at the local video store paying to rent movies. You even bought a few DVD’s to tie you over. Nothing was on TV, so you went out with friends instead, it ended up costing you money.
This reaction created more problems.

3. To get new customers, you lower your prices, put on a major SALE and advertise.

While sales volume increases, your cost of goods sold (remember that term from accounting class?) has increased.  The cost of the advertising in addition to the lower sales price has basically caused you to break even.  Once you stop the sale, you find that your sales dwindle off, and you’re back to square one. All you did was waste time, energy, and effort into a short term solution that didn’t fix a darned thing.
This reaction caused more problems.

4. You decide to go out drinking on Friday night to calm your nerves.

This may have calmed your nerves, but next week you have a different fight, with the same person, about a different issue. What you’ve solved is nothing really. All you’ve done is put yourself in a situation where the same peril can happen to you again.
This reaction can cause more problems.

5. You begin bailing buckets of water on the titanic as it sinks, and you soon realize, all you did was exhaust yourself. The ship still sunk, but now your out of energy to survive in the cold water, and you perish.  You can’t save a sinking ship, so stop trying.
This reaction caused more problems.

If you’ve read this far, then you want real answers.

I will provide you some ideas, and I’d love to hear your own comments.  Whenever we come up with solutions, it is important to STOP. THINK. DISCOVER. PLAN. EXECUTE

Abbreviated that is S.T.D.P.E  (which isn’t a catchy word, so you’ll just have to get past it)

 

Here are better solutions to the previous 5 examples:

1. You hate your job.

CORRECT: Start talking to people in your industry. This is best done with strangers. People who don’t even know your name. This way you maintain confidentiality so it won’t get back to your current job. Your friends and family won’t judge you and scoff “oh look, John hates his job”.

Read newspapers, do research, network, get the information you need before making a decision on what to do, where to do it, and how to do it.

What’s that? You found out in an industry journal that some massive company is branching out into a new area that you have expertise in? Great.  Scope out the job. Read their history. Find someone that worked there BEFORE, who can talk about the place.

I can’t think for you, but some of you might be saying “Well, how could I possibly find someone that use to work there?”

Think about it. Resumes are posted online.  Websites like linkedin.com carry histories of where people use to work.  Old forum posts from 5 years back might have someone signing their name with a title of the company and then they are signing their name with their new signature.    If there is a will, there is a way, create your own ways.

People that no longer have any ties to companies they use to work have volumes of helpful information that could tell you whether or not it would be a great place for you to work. Heck, people even post publicly about it. “I use to work at XYZ” – they brag about it like credentials on the “About Us” page of a website.

Ask them how the company was doing before they left. Why did they leave? Are they sorry they left? Would they ever consider returning?

2. Your bank account is low, the bills are mounting.

Really? Is your financial situation going to greatly improve by lowering your cell phone bill or TV channel package to only save yourself $50 a month?  Is that the real issue here, you’re only short $50 and your life would be so much better saving that tiny bit of money?

“But it will help, at least right now” you say.

CORRECT: Come up with a long term plan of action FIRST.  Begin executing that longer plan to get you out of this long term problem.  When time permits, (and time always does permit) you can make small changes SECOND.

Obviously your income isn’t matching the expenses you want.  Most people will say “you want too much, you’re living outside of your means.”  While that is true, a better idea is to INCREASE your means.  Raise your income.  That’s better than just lessening the desires for things you want.

3. Sales at work are dwindling, to get new customers, you lower your prices, put on a major SALE and advertise.

Ask yourself first: Why are sales dwindling?  What is the real issue here?

Some people may say “well XYZ is taking our business”.  Well if you are selling the exact same products as XYZ and you lower your prices, don’t you think XYZ will take notice and lower theirs as well, until someone gives in?

CORRECT: Perhaps the product or service you are selling is the real issue.  Perhaps you need to find some products that are EXCLUSIVE to your store.  Maybe you can create a value added service that XYZ competitor doesn’t have.  This is the longer term solution that will help your business.

Customers don’t always shop on price. Often they will shop based on novelty, by recommendation, or perceived value (not just price).  Look and think outside of the box.  If you come up with some real creative ways to reach these customers that XYZ is unable (or unwilling) to copy, then you’ll have people clamoring for your product or service.

4. You had a major fight with a friend, your boss, your spouse, so you decide to go out drinking on Friday night to calm your nerves.

What happens the following Monday? Perhaps another major fight. What will be your solution? Next Friday go out drinking with friends again?

The question is why did the fight occur in the first place? The “details” of the fight isn’t the answer to this question either.

But why?  Who was tense? Who was intolerant. Look at the bigger picture. The details themselves are trivial. Problems happen all the time, that’s normal, and everyone knows that.. But for a fight to erupt means:

CORRECT: Someone is stressed.  Maybe someone simply has a bad personality defect.  Can something be done to lower that person’s stress load, so they are less likely to be so tense?  In the case of a personality defect, you can’t change the person, so maybe it is time to get away from them.

5. The titanic is sinking

CORRECT: Grab a life jacket, and get off the boat as safe as your best options permit. Did I really need to say this?

People always react stupidly to life’s problems.

You don’t need to react stupidly.

Think before you act. Plan ahead for a longer term solution and get the process rolling FIRST.

When you get time (and you will get time) you can do some short term solutions SECOND.

This is the key to avoiding reoccurring pitfalls and traps in life. It will hinder similar problems plaguing you in the future.

Your comments?  I hope you have some. I’ve given you plenty of food for thought here.

Other people want to hear what YOU have to say too.

Youtube videos can’t go viral when a user chooses the wrong license!

This is an ironic example I came across today on Youtube. If you make videos yourself, don’t let this happen to you.

Quite simply, someone got legitimately upset, when the advertised price of the Baltimore Sun was $2.12 but a particular store was charging $3.12 instead.

Armed with a video camera, the person walked into the store and confronted the staff about it. He said that the video would be put “all over Youtube and that it would go viral”. After the initial shock, the staff proceeded to do something quite surprising (watch the video to see for yourself).

Now, as of the time of this writing, the video only has 58 views. That’s not very viral, is it?

Watch the video and read my explanation below as to why the initial standard Youtube license chosen for this video was incorrect.

There is something that is not understood by people who shoot videos and want them to go viral. There are two different licenses that each Youtuber can choose to release their video under as follows:

Standard License (reuse NOT allowed) :

While fair use laws still exist, this is a much more restrictive license.  It basically means that the video uploaded may be accessed through Youtube and it cannot be incorporated into other mediums (like in someone else’s video, tv program, etc) in its entirety.  For instance in this blog, I can embed the video, but the person still has to go use the Youtube service to watch it. If Youtube decides to remove the video, or the person deletes their channel, or get if they get suspended, the video is lost forever.

In addition, some parts of this particular video, the camera was held “sideways”.  Someone else might want to edit the video and fix that. According to the standard license, the moment you import that video into your movie maker software and start making changes and subsequently re-distribute it, you’ve violated the standard license agreement.

Ever see a television program where they reference a video, but they don’t play the entire thing? Some of the time it is simply because the video on Youtube has a “standard license”, so all they can do is use little pieces under fair use laws to reference the video. Do everyone a favor and use Creative Commons License, it makes a world of difference!

A MUCH BETTER OPTION:

Creative Commons License (reuse allowed):

You retain your copyright and other users get to reuse your work subject to the terms of the license.  Which basically means that the video can be incorporated in part, or in WHOLE, as part of another work (like someone’s own video, TV program, etc).

If you want something to go viral, I highly suggest you release it under the Creative Commons License.  You will have a lot more people interested in using your video and helping it spread.  Not everyone wants to link back to your Youtube channel. Some people want to redistribute the video their own way, by broadcast, by adding it to a DVD compilation for example, etc.

 

To encourage your video to go viral,  select “Creative commons license” when you upload it.

Content creators would love to use your creative commons video to help you spread the word. Give them that opportunity.

Commodore 64 and what we’ve lost along the way.

I read a tweet linking to http://www.retrocomputers.eu/2012/01/04/your-commodore-64-memories/ which basically is asking people about their Commodore 64 memories.

I tried commenting on that blog post, but it didn’t seem to have a save button. So here goes my first trackback. Let’s see if this works.

In response to “It would be great to hear your response to this brilliant 8 bit computer”

My reply:

The best thing about the Commodore 64 is that all the users had the same hardware. It meant software had to be dynamic and unique. No one told you to go out and buy more RAM or get a better video card.

If your software didn’t work in a standard C64, it didn’t get sold. That simple. As a result, software was written tight. Every last byte was carefully chosen due to space limitations.

This is the problem with computers today. It’s too easy for lazy software developers to just tell you to upgrade to a faster machine to make up for their laziness and poor coding skills.

I remember the first time I heard actual digitized music coming from the Commodore 64. It wasn’t a .MID file, it wasn’t the SAM speech synthesizer, it was actually a rendition of “Everyone was Kung-Fu Fighting”…

Actual Song

C64 Version

 

Apparently it really put the synthesizer chip to a real test. The programmers of that little demo had to block out the video screen with random colors and use all of the buffer space just to play the song.  It was said that they had used every last byte, had programmed the entire thing in hexadecimal machine language, and there was barely any bytes left in the machine to spare.

We were pleasantly shocked by the effort involved.  What was incredible about it, wasn’t the 8 second clip of the music playing, it wasn’t the fact that the C64 was able to play it.  It was the fact that these talented programmers were able to get the Commodore 64 to do something that no one had ever seen before.

That’s what the world needs more of, real special programmers who work for software development firms where the market departments aren’t dictating what the IT departments are doing.

People do not understand most of what goes on in large corporations with software development. I think I’ll have to leave that for another blog post at http://lifeisfunny.freethrills.com

But hats off to Andy @ Retrocomputers for bringing up the topic and thanks to him @andytuk for the tweet !

 

Writer’s Block: How to overcome it.

 

 

 

 

I am not a professional writer. It doesn’t matter; writer’s block is something that happens to the best of us.

For instance, have you ever bought a birthday or anniversary card and rather than just sign your name, you attempt to write a little paragraph or two?  Instant writer’s block. How do you possibly put your emotions and personal feelings into a few short sentences?

Writing a business letter? How about a rebuttal letter to a newspaper article? Any of these can stimulate writer’s block.

Let’s discuss what writer’s block actually is, and ways to overcome it.

 

Writers block is publically defined as:

Writer’s block is a condition, primarily associated with writing as a profession in which an author loses the ability to produce new work. The condition varies widely in intensity. It can be trivial, a temporary difficulty in dealing with the task at hand. At the other extreme, some “blocked” writers have been unable to work for years on end, and some have even abandoned their careers. It can manifest as the affected writer viewing their work as inferior or unsuitable, when in fact it could be the opposite. The condition was first described in 1947 by psychoanalyst Edmund Bergler” [excerpt from Wikipedia]

(While we are on the subject of Wikipedia, please consider donating to them they are a fantastic resource).


These are my ways to deal with writer’s block:

AVOIDANCE

Avoiding writer’s block can be done by a variety of ways. Being refreshed and having a good sleep are key. Get a good night’s sleep the night before, and be refreshed when you begin writing. If you are half way through a literary piece and you find yourself struggling, take a break and come back to it in a few minutes. Go grab a coffee, munch on a cookie, whatever it takes to put your mind at rest for a brief period.

 

ENVIRONMENT

Create an environment where writer’s block is less likely to occur. This means, don’t write in a situation that is likely to cause distractions.  TV and radios can’t be blaring. Traffic noise can’t be causing a problem for you either.  People running around the office or the house can be distracting as well.

For instance, it might be wise for you to use time during the office lunch hour when the employees are away to compile your difficult letter.  Or don’t write that blurb in that birthday card inside the post office while people are coming and going while you sit huddled in a corner.

Writing a novel as a full time job? Modify your sleep schedule so you sleep in late in the morning, and you go to bed late at night. You’ll find that when the city seems to quiet down for the night, it is a very peaceful time to write.  Dogs are no longer barking, loud motorcycles aren’t driving down the street. Phones aren’t ringing, and the rest of your family is asleep.  This is a golden time to write as long as you, yourself, isn’t tired.

 

MINDSET

Your mind must be in a creative mood.  We all get moody for various reasons.  This could happen due to nutrition, stress, even simple interruptions.  Each and every day there are periods where you will be in a good, bad, happy, or even a creative mood.  Don’t write while you are in a bad mood unless it is a customer complaint letter. 🙂

When your mindset is right, AND the environment is friendly, you’ll be able to write without having writer’s block. It is that simple.

 

INSPIRATION

Perhaps both your mindset to be creative and the environment is right, but for some reason, you’re not having any inspiration.  That’s an easy fix. Think about what you’re about to write, and find someone, or something, to inspire you.

For instance, if you are planning on writing a fiction novel, go read a fiction novel that you didn’t write. Watch how the words and descriptions you are reading seem to turn your brain on to thinking about these things. Descriptive words from someone’s writings can inspire your brain to start thinking along those lines.

Thinking about writing an excerpt in a birthday card and having trouble? Look in your memory box for previous cards written to you. Read them.  If you put your brain through the exercise of experiencing something, it will become inspired to create like minded things.

 

With the foregoing being said, I’m going to re-define writer’s block MY WAY:

“Writer’s block is a condition that anyone can experience when attempting to write. It is a situation where the brain is not able to create or concentrate due to a wide variety of factors. The mindset must be right. The mind must be inspired.  Finally, the environment must be suitable for the writer to thrive.  When all conditions are favorable, it is impossible to experience writer’s block.” — Jason  http://lifeisfunny.freethrills.com

So the next time you are experiencing writer’s block, look at your environment and take some action.  Small changes can remedy that situation.


😛 Scientists are working a new medication in tablet form that will alleviate writer’s block.
— That’s a intended joke. But who knows, might that even possible some day?


Is there something I’ve missed? I’m experiencing a little writer’s block at this moment and need to hear from you.

Your Comments?

Hope for the New Year — is it realistic?

 

To be honest, I want to believe it too — a New Year — New Hopes, the year to come is going to be totally different than the year that just passed. My question to you is — is it realistic?

Honestly no. This year is just going to be just like last year.  The calendar makes little difference in our lives. So what does that mean?

The only way this new year is going to be different is if we MAKE IT DIFFERENT. Since most of us are locked into a circular routine (go to sleep, wake up, work, come home, sleep, then shop on our day off)…

The calendar itself can’t help change our lives. Yet inevitability every New Years Eve we begin with some weird expectation that things will be different. I am sorry to burst your bubble, but that honestly isn’t the way that things work.

So is the celebration of New Years and the concept of making  New Years Resolutions just a bad idea? No… of course not.. If you have made up your mind to stick by a New Years Resolution, then you should keep to your word.

It is no secret that people come up with a New Years Resolution as a pivot point in their lives when they admit to themselves, “this is the last time I will do THIS, or this is the last time I will do THAT”.

The biggest problem with resolutions are not in the resolutions themselves — they have complete merit. The problem is with the people announcing their resolutions to their family and friends without keeping true to them.

Don’t feel despair reading this article.

Most of us have been exactly where you are right now.  You want your life to be better in the upcoming New Year, so you make resolutions not to repeat bad habits.

The concept is noble. You have probably tried this before as well. Many people give it a shot for a New Years Resolution and then give up a few weeks later, only to say, well next year I’ll do it.

The time is now. It has nothing to do with a holiday or a specific date. If you are serious about dropping a particular part of your life that you are not proud of — then today is just as good as any day.

If you have any comments about this, then please bring them on — I’m very interested in what people have to say…