Monday, December 21, 2009

Now Where Did I Put Those Instructions?

Many years ago before our technological revolution the most complicated present any self respecting parents/Santa’s helpers had to deal with was the assembly of that most prized child’s present – the bike! There’s many a story of anxious children being whisked off to bed so that a Mom & Pop Assembly Shop could be opened up in hopes of a quick construction of the project with enough hours of sleep left-over to regain strength to enjoy the next day’s festivities. I’ve also heard of many mom’s who shook their head’s in dismay as Pop would remove a good sized instruction manual from the box and tossed it aside with a cavalier, “Hey, I know what I’m doing. I don’t need instructions.”

Early the next day, the happy child would be greeted with a brand-new gleaming and (barely) assembled bike, and fortunately, was too excited to notice that pop seemed not to get enough sleep last night.

When those children became parents they found that their schedules were too hectic to “help” Santa out and so they just had the bike store assemble them and stash them at a neighbor’s house.

I remember it was in the 80s that, at least in my town, pedaling around the neighborhood with your friends was not nearly as interesting as watching your parents unpack the new Personal Computer! I don’t remember whose mouth fell open the farthest, the children at the fascinating new technology or the father when he unpacked one boxed that housed several thick books (with tiny writing) on how to assemble And run this new “toy”. Most kids were headed back to school before pop could get through what seemed like a college course of reading to get the computer running.

I personally remember years later when individual software packages were created, how each box cam with a disk and an only one instruction manual on how to install and operate the program. Instead of taking a week to get up and running it was possible to do it (with a bit of concentration) in a day.

Fast forward a year or two, and I remember the first software program I bought that seemed to only have a disk with it. I just knew all I had to do is pop the disk in the computer and she would run, and, for the most part, although this was true, this would also be the first time I was introduced to what became a PDF file, or simply, a manual on the disk. In the beginning, I thought PDFs were the greatest thing. It took me a little while to realize that, unless I wished to print out a several hundred page manual, I was pretty much stuck at my computer screen reading to learn. It also didn’t help much that I used to earmark the pages and notate important packages. If there’s a way to do that with a PDF file, I’ve not learned how to do so to this day.

Well, it took several years for me to get used to that after all once you’ve reduced the manuals from many volumes to one, and then from paper to PDF there’s nothing else left to do with it, right? Wrong?

I would love to get my hands on the person or persons who Then Decided, why go to the trouble to even put out a disk we’ll just let people buy the program right offline and let them download it. (If you think it’s hard to find a manual on a disk try finding one without the disk.) Okay, now I download the program, I install it, and I sort through even more files looking for a PDF instruction manual and when I finally find it, then, I can learn how to use the program.

Okay, so we’re done now, there’s nothing else that can be done? Not quite yet.

A couple of year’s ago I noticed that the new software downloads that I received didn’t have PDF instruction manuals with them. Instead (and maybe this was a ploy to get me to look at more of their stuff) you had to go to their website and register the software (they were only suggesting it before) in order to get access to an “online” manual. The manufacturer’s reasoning being that by doing it this way the software and manual could be updated in a timely manner. Okay, whatever you say. Just give me my instruction manual.

That’s it. There’s nothing else left to do with it right? I wish.

I short time ago, I joined Facebook. My first impulse (of course0 was to be directed to the instructions on line. Fat chance! To sign up was simple but instead of leading me to a simple set of instructions they dumped me right smack into the middle of the program. Now don’t get me wrong they did have an instruction page, but when I went to it the page had what seemed like a hundred links and even more FAQ (frequently asked questions) in what seemed like a mish-mash order. When I asked about this, everyone I know seemed to have taken the stand of “learn as you go”. I wanted to scream!

So let’s recap.

I’ve gone from bike instruction manuals that, in the day, no self-respecting man would read (much to their regret), to instruction manuals that came in volumes, reduced to one manual, reduced to a PDF file, reduced to an online file, and now we’re back to a multi-volume file online, and, at least for this guy, I’m right back to my parents’ day then, although I would love to read it, I’m just “virtually” tossed it aside and plunged in with the assembly of my Facebook. The irony of it all is it only took me a little time before I realized that I’m not the only person out there on Facebook stumbling around as well.

A couple of month’s ago I joined Twitter and I found a similar thing happening, but I also had to smile when I found this out as well. If you go into Twitter’s instruction forum some (if not a lot) of their instructions have been contributed by its users! Can you imagine that? A programmer writes a program and then has the users write the manual! Oh, but it doesn’t stop there. You only have to be on Twitter for a short time and you will find that there is a growing lucrative market by other Twitter users who have written PDF “ebooks” on how to use Twitter in various ways and will be glad to sell them to you, or with just a little searching, you can find a slew of people to follow who will give you their ebooks for free!

So, where did I put my instruction manual? Just look on my hard drive in my ebook section. It’ in there with the dozens of other volumes of ebooks I have downloaded, some moderately priced but most of them free. Now if I just could find time to read them all.

If you would excuse me, I need to get a "virtual" cup of coffee … I’ve got some reading to do.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A New Mission . . . Statement.

Hi, Guys -

Over the last couple of months, I have been trying to find a new footing with this blog. As a legally blind business owner I realize that building a business (any business) can be very challenging with a disability. I cannot tell you (nor would I try) how many times I wanted to quit opportunities ready to pull out the explanation"of "poor vision" being the culprit. Right or wrong, the results still didn't pay the rent. And so i realized that I had to stop looking at where I was and start to concentrate more on where I was going. It was through this one thought that I believe led me to a man named Chris Farrell (a new mentor for me) and a new vision for this blog. Hopefully you will believe it to be as good as I do.

In the past, there have been many times that I have needed information for one project or another dealing with disabilities. And while Wikipedia has always helped, I have found myself still having to jump from one web page to another to get all of the information I may need. A fact sometimes compounded by poor vision.

Recently, I came upon a business site created by Chris Farrell and in it he explained how he decided to start an online business in February 2008 to help his family improve their financial situation, but how difficult it was since he either had to go to multiple places to get information all the time, or the information he received was so complicated that it was hard to grasp basic internet concepts as fast a she liked.

Well, it has been said that the "seeds" of difficulties can lead a person to great ideas. Otherwise known as "necessity is the mother of inventions". Well, Chris's invention was his new website where, not only does he teach a multitude of online business concepts on video, but he does it in a wonderful step by step process that is both easy to understand and to follow. I had only to review ONE of his FREE courses to know that I would be a member of his site forever.

Now, why did I tell you this?

Basically, the same reason. In the world of disabilities, there is a lot of information that visually handicapped (as well as many others) need as quick as possible. Well, I decided today that my new "mission statement" if you will was to place on this site through posts, links, and references to other blogs. Things that i know will help anyone with disabilities (and a lot without) to improve their lives. Not just on a financial basis but physically and spiritually as well.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't claim to know any of those things in great debt, but I have always had a knack for organizing things, and so I will not only be posting my ideas on the site, but be referencing (and crediting) any of you out there who come across any good information that can help the community at large, but those of us who are disable in particular.

And so, from this point on. If you come to this blog, I promise I will do my best to post on it items of use and I also will strive, just like Chris, to put it in a way that anyone can understand. The only thing I ask is that whether you like it or not, please comment. I don't promise to change my personal opinions about things (I'll try to keep that to a minimum) but if I have a posting or link that there's a problem with I will do my best to correct it or move it.

Anyway, as we slowly come to the end of a great year I just want to wish all of you the best in 2010, and I am looking forward to working with you as well.

Thanks for being a part of my blog and my life.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Blogger with . . . Attitude!

It's that time of year when I reach into the closet and pull out that box of Holiday movies I love so much. There was a time when I would add a new one to my collection every year but lately I've not seen a lot that I feel has just the right touch. You know, like this scene from one of my favorites:

It's Christmas Eve and a lone police officer munches on a powdered doughnut as a sound catches his ear. He glances over the tall counter next to his desk to see the squad room door open for a few seconds and then close without, apparently, no one coming in.

Curious, he puts down the doughnut, stands, and glances over the counter into the faces of (what appears to be) several small children, all but one dressed in a military-like uniform that he didn't recognize.

"Vising hours are over, kids. Go home"

"We're not kids." One of the ones up front says. "We're Elves with . . . Attitude!"

The next thing the officer knows he's pushed into his swivel chair while it was being spun at a very fast speed, while the surrounding laughing elves wrapped him up in, what appeared to be, miles of colorful ribbons.

At the time, I am sure the officer in question believed that the "attitude" the elves were displaying was very bad, although the elves believed it to be good, after all, they were on a mission to save Santa.

For most, you probably recognized this scene from one of my favorite Christmas classics - The Santa Clause starring Tim Allen.

So, what's my point? Simple, building a business is all about attitude. Building it successfully requires a good one. So, what type of attitude do you have? Are you a "half-full" or "half-empty" kind of person? Do you look at problems as disasters with no end or challenges waiting to be solved? I've been on both sides of that equation and I assure you I understand no matter how you feel right now. The key, however, is to always be working to improve your attitude no matter where it is at present. Why? Because, believe it or not, a great attitude brings great results.

So, how do you go about improving your attitude? Well, there are several ways but here's a few of my favorites:

Get around people with good attitudes - and more important - stay away from those with bad attitudes. There's been times in my life when I believed that once I got a good attitude I could "help" those with bad ones.

Unfortunately, no matter how good my attitude has been, I've found out that when I get around those with bad attitudes they do more to pull me down to their level then I can possible do to lift them up to mine. So stay away from bad attitude people at all cost (dare I say it) like they have the flu! A bad attitude is a lot easier to catch and can last a whole lot longer.

Another great way I've found to improve my attitude is to read good books. Especially books about good self-image or inspirational books. Like Skip Ross's, "Say, YES, to Your Potential" or even "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill. If self-help books don't catch your fancy at first then reread one of your favorite novels. Be careful to pick one that has a positive ending.

The third way I've found to improve my attitude is to listen to fun and uplifting audios. Sometimes just hearing another person's perspectives on your current situation can do worlds of good for your attitude. I suggest that when you come across audios that inspire and/or make you happy that you keep them in a place you can reach quickly when a quick jolt of positive attitude is necessary.

One of the benefits of this time of the year is the wonderful holiday music that swirls around. You have to be a Scrooge not to have it lift your spirits. I have a lot of old "chestnuts" that I keep on standby in my computer for just such an occasion. And for anyone looking to start a collection of holiday favorites may I suggest you start with a wonderful artist that my sister-in-law, LaVerne, suggested to me.

His name is Andrea Bocelli (pronounced An-drey-a Bow-chel-lee). His new album is called, "My Christmas" and he has a wonderful classical Italian voice that can brighten anyone's attitude. For those of you who haven't heard of him (I hadn't either), He's has been on Oprah, and he sings on the album with, Natalie Cole, Mary J. Blige, Reba McEntire, and many more. Now how's that for a resume!

The last way I have found to perk up the old attitude is to watch uplifting and fun things, both out in the world, on your computer, and on television as well. Again, during this time of the year there shouldn't be much problem finding a lot of things to keep a cheerful attitude going. (I sometimes go just go to YouTube and look up old Hallmark Christmas commercials) There are holiday parades and family parties to attend, as well as a boat load of holiday favorites just a remote or mouse click away.

But be warned, unlike the ghosts in Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol", these good attitude-shifters are not going to "haunt" you down. You'll have to go looking for them. But I assure you, if all you want for Christmas is a great attitude, you'll find it.

So get up and get going - before those "Attitude Elves" come looking for you!