Be lazy

Instead of checking proz.com daily to see whether any new jobs have been posted, which I hate and always forget to do, I subscribed to their RSS feed.
Now the new jobs will be delivered into my Google Reader which I read every morning over coffee.

Besides, I found out (I probably knew that before, from the days I worked as a secretary, but forgot) that you can use Word mail merge to print mailing labels (one for each addressee you have in your database). This will save me a lot of time over Christmas when I usually mail traditional paper postcards.

Being lazy saves you time and, eventually, money.

My resolutions for February (#LifeCampTO)

Following LifeCampTO, I decided to post my resolutions for February. I always found that talking to people about what I am going to achieve actually stimulates me to do it. So, here goes:

1. Spend at least 1 hour a day proactively promoting my business (like sending out emails, calling people on the phone, making presentations).
2. Make steady progress with the Russian translation of Someone comes to town…
3. The first revision of my translation of Iris Murdoch‘s Philosopher pupil has returned from the editor – I have to implement her suggestions and make at least one more iteration before the deadline (March 1st). Hopefully one iteration will be enough.
4. York is back to classes! And my technical writing class is on starting the day after tomorrow. This semester, long overdue, will end on March 1.
5. I start working on another SR&ED claim tomorrow. Tight deadline on this one, too – possibly the end of February.
6. I need to put up my website, finally. I sorted out the domain names, too (registered getyourmessageacross.ca, findyourpast.ca and sred4you.com).
7. I will be helping Reuven Cohen at the CloudCamp.
8. I want to go for a 15-minutes walk daily and drink a lot of water, according to Flylady‘s advice.
9. I need to contact all the people whose business cards I collected over the last month and invite them to my SR&ED presentation.
10. I have to set up the date for the said presentation and find a location (I think it will be CSI on Spadina, if I can get it).

I think that’s all, but if anything else springs to mind, I will put it here. If I don’t achieve these goals by February 28, you can hold me accountable!

LifeCampTO notes

Sacha Chua posted notes from LifeCampTO. They are full of productivity and motivational tips and good advice.
http://sachachua.com/wp/2009/02/01/lessons-from-lifecamp/

The next LifeCamp might be held on February 28, 2008. I’ll keep you posted.

LifeCamp

Sacha Chua is organizing a LifeCamp to share best practices and support for New Year resolutions and goals for the year. There are still some spaces left!
Register here

New Calendar page showing my events

Aha! I outwitted WordPress, in a way. Look at the top of the main page, above the image header – there is a link to the new page called MY CALENDAR. Now you will be able to see the events I share. It is not as convenient as seeing the entire calendar in a frame directly on the page, but it will have to do for a while.

If you want to receive notifications of the new events I post, leave your e-mails in the comments and I will think of something.

Bitter disappointment

I wanted to create a public Google calendar and share it through a frame in my blog, to give people information about what’s going on in Toronto. But I found out I cannot do that because WordPress does not allow iframes. Reason? Because then the people “would have no control over what is displayed through the frames”. So droll! Next time they will not let people look out of their windows because people “would have no control over what is going on there”, or something.

Oh well, I’ll have to wait until I have my own website, then. Hopefully I’ll manage to put something up within the next month.

My social networking (for business and pleasure)

I talked to my SEB program advisor the other day and mentioned that I try to attend one networking event a week, and not more than that (otherwise, I would have no time for the actual work). She was pleasantly surprised that I manage to find so many networking events while some other people just have no idea where to go and how to start. In fact, once you have a social network established and use the proper tools, the information starts coming from all directions.

All the further stuff is trivial for a digiterati, so, if you heard of Twitter or know what a RSS is, don’t bother to read on. However, today I got another reminder of the digital gap: a classmate in YorkU proudly mentioned she was going to a workshop where they will teach her to use comments in Microsoft Word and other advanced stuff. So, I suppose, these notes could be of use to someone. Read the rest of this entry »

30boxes.com sucks

1. Has no integration (except for importing my events from Facebook; for all the other types of calendars it suggests exporting events into a CSV file, and presumably I have to do this every time I add an event).
2. No integration for birthdays, even for importing them from Facebook (there was a box that I was supposed to click but it did nothing).
3. The thing assumed by default that I am in the US and adorned my calendar with Columbus day etc. There is life outside US, you know.
4. The application is full of bugs and usability crevices. The contact importing “wizard”, for example, does not allow you to import more than 100 contacts, but displays a “You can have up to 100 contacts in your account. To add more, you’ll first have to remove one.” about 200 times (my guess is, once for each contact that could not be imported).
5. I don’t really see the point of the whole thing, maybe it is the integration of social networking with a calendar, but right now it looks pretty unusable. Besides, a limit of 100 contacts is really, really funny. On the other hand, do I really need to know what 100 people are doing on any given day? I think I’d rather stick to Facebook for following what my friends are doing and to Google calendar+Toodledo (they actually integrate nicely) for todo lists and calendar functions.

Meetup + Facebook + kittens

Found out there is a Meetup application on Facebook. My heartfelt thanks to whoever wrote it. It is not very integrated (i.e. the meetup meetings will not appear on the FB Events calendar, or maybe I am missing something again, a fake highlighted blonde that I am). This kinda defies the idea of integration. However, I can now see what meetups my FB friends are going to (only if they registered Meetup on Facebook, which isn’t very integrated either.) However, there might be such feature on Meetup as friends search by name but I did not find it. However, Meetup, unlike Facebook, DOES have a “export event into your calendar” button that makes life easier.

So, the things that would be nice to have in Meetup-Facebook integration:

1. To be able to see my meetups in one list together with my Facebook events.
2. To see meetups of all my FB friends, not just those who added Meetup application.
3. To be able to dump my FB friends list into Meetup and friend them on Meetup too (right now, as far as I know, Meetup has no people search whatsoever, or maybe I don’t know where to look).

Alternatively, of course, people who use Meetup can migrate to Facebook and stay there so everybody is happy. AFAIK, aside from “export event into your calendar” button, Facebok has all the same functionality implemented.

On the same note (or an altogether different one), I found out that Jane Zhang fosters kittens for Toronto Humane Society. My deepest respect. I have one cat (taken, incidentally, from the same institution) and that’s pretty much all I can do.

Good customer service: priceless, or How one should NOT treat bitchy customers

As I have complained already, I had trouble exporting Facebook events into Google calendar. When I tried to export, Facebook gave me an .ics file and I for the life of me did not know what to do next. For some reason I supposed that there should be a link or a button or something, and when you press it, the event appears on your Google calendar (like Eventbrite does, and, by the way, that’s how I found Google calendar and started using it: that’s what I call good customer experience). Facebook offered nothing like that, and when I searched it I only found someone’s complaint that there is no application for exporting events. I decided that the logical place to seek help was with Facebook customer service. A message exchange ensued, pretty much along these lines:

I:
– Dear facebook customer service, how can I export FB events into Google calendar?
They:
– You can export your Events while viewing the main Events page, by clicking on the “Export Events” link at the top of this page. I apologize for this confusion. Please let me know if you have any further questions, and I will be glad to assist you.
I:
– All this link does is offering me to open the same .ics file with Firefox instead of Outlook.
They:
– Our records indicate that you are able to use this file successfully to import your events into your calander [SIC! – T.S.]. You will need to contact your Gmail, if you are experiencing difficulties. I apologize for this confusion. Please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns, and I will be glad to assist you.
I:
– Could you please tell me, exactly HOW I must use this file to export events into Gmail calendar? (Also, please note that calendar is spelled with an “a”.) [Now, at this moment I am still unable to export events, and slightly pissed off with the whole situation]
They:
– Unfortunately, you will need to contact Google if you are experiencing difficulties with your file. I apologize for this inconvenience. Please let me know if you have any further questions, and I will be glad to assist you.

I feel that our talk turns into a conversation of a blind man with a deaf one. I start suspecting that one of us is an idiot, or maybe we both are. I enter “importing .ics file into google” into Google and in 3 seconds find a solution. I must explicitly import the darned .ics file using Google calendar’s user interface, and it is a standard operation. 1 more minute, and everything is done. I am happy. (By the way, this is how you do it.)

But then I think, WHY ON EARTH could not the customer service person tell me that outright, saving a few useless messages and her own time (to say nothing about mine)? Could she use Google in the same way that I did and tell me what she found? Of course. But SHE DID NOT BOTHER TO. I imagined my own conversation with a client:

Client:
– Dear Tania, how much will you charge for translating this text?
I:
– (this much) per word.
Client:
– How do I count the words?
I:
– My records indicate that you are able to use Microsoft Word functionality to count the words in your text successfully.
Client:
– Yes, but exactly how do I count the words?
I:
– Unfortunately, you will need to contact Microsoft if you are experiencing difficulties with your word count. I apologize for this inconvenience. Please let me know if you have any further questions, and I will be glad to assist you.

Ridiculous, right? Of course I am not responsible for teaching my clients to use Microsoft Word, but if I talked to them like in this imaginary dialogue, I guess I’d be without clients pretty soon. Hello, Facebook customer service? TAKE NOTES.