Thursday, June 30, 2016

Sometimes Pizza Hut is the best choice…

A couple years back, I recalled writing, “hooray for boring” in my posting regarding a purchase of 2012 Honda Civic… yup it’s boring and so is Pizza Hut.  My dad is getting old (so am I, but as you may have figured out, he’s older than me) and for this Father’s day, I suggested we just do pizza.  Yes, I know the stereotypical picture of bonding over barbeque, but as a father myself (who is suffering from old fart syndrome) the vision of roasting over a hot grill to cook for the extended family didn’t appeal to me.  Call me Shallow Hal, but we don’t expect mom to whip up a meal on Mother’s day so I want my equal rights.  Nonetheless, I know the limits of my oppression and figured offering to pick up pizza for the gang would have to suffice.  I thought at least this would minimize my stress (yes, family gatherings can be stressful), but as sometimes happens this was not to be the case.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Improving performance by doing less

At first blush, this title may sound contradictory to many while others may speculate that the crux of this post is an emphasis of quality over quantity.  The stress level at my job has elevated as we slowly move through yet another re-org.  Often with re-orgs it is not the amount of work, it is the uncertainty.  I acknowledge that my position is atypical being a full time virtual position (as in “I work from home”).  My responsibilities include much self-driven ongoing housekeeping as well as a heavy stream of email correspondence (100 to 200 messages per day) and occasional online meetings, phone calls and instant messaging.  I have found that to effectively cope with the stress related to another re-org, I have paced myself considerably.  Surprisingly, I have found that doing less has not only reduced my stress level, it has also improved my performance and effectiveness.  Here are some general illustrations.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Important Changes to OneDrive…

…was the ominous subject line of a recent email from Microsoft.  Sure enough, it wasn’t good news and the heart of the message read as follows:
We want to inform you about some upcoming changes to OneDrive that will affect you. The amount of storage that comes with OneDrive will change from 15 GB to 5 GB. We are also discontinuing the 15 GB camera roll bonus. As a result of these changes, you will be over your OneDrive storage limit on July 27, 2016 (visit the Storage page to check your account). You can learn more at our FAQ.
Way back when, I was lulled into moving much of my data to OneDrive while they were offering a generous 15gb plus another 15gb bonus for a total of 30gb free cloud storage.  As became painfully obvious, what sounded too good to be true quickly became a thing of the past.  Even with “high speed” internet connections many are likely aware that the high speed generally reflects the download speed while the upload speed commonly is considerably slower.  In short it took considerable time to move my data to OneDrive… I had a large music collection – about 7gb there; plus last year I finished my project of converting my family VHS-C tapes to digital and stored those files there as well (around 8gb or so).  In short, I wasn’t looking forward to transferring all of these files to a new home but since this change appears inevitable I didn’t want to risk loss of cherished files so I am taking action and will reflect my experiences below.  Tip:  After converting these tapes to digital, I copied these files to memory sticks and give them out for Christmas to my wife and kids...this is a win-win-win, being a very thoughtful, personal gift, reducing the stress of Christmas shopping plus is a great backup strategy as it is very unlikely that all of these copies would be lost or destroyed.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Don’t bring your bottles here

New York has had a bottle return law for at least 30 years.  I know this due to working part time at Stewart's after being discharged from the army in 1985.  It was a pretty unsophisticated system back then; the customer brought their empties and they were often counted on the counter and then placed in the back.  Stewart's was never equipped to handle big bottle returns and we (myself and fellow employees from back in 1985) were never too happy to see a customer arrive with a massive collection of returnable bottles.

Fast forward 30 years to today and we are blessed with automated machines for bottle returns (although as far as I know, Stewart's and other smaller convenience stores typically do not have these machines).  These machines are a great improvement… when they work.  Even with automated machines there is much opportunity for improvement and this posting reflects my quick and dirty experiences returning bottles in my local stores.