Personal Update 202106 | 1 Jun 2021 | Tuesday

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. The photo featured above is from a walk in Iowa City on 15 May 2021.

Communications

In May I returned to providing an outgoing voicemail greeting that is updated daily. This way, anyone calling will get some information about my availability for the day, and when to expect a response from me. I have a similar automatic reply for text messages when I’m unavailable.

When convenient for others, my preference is usually to receive an email rather than phone call. Emails are easier to find, organize, and prioritize. I’m also able to provide links and attachments.

Text messages are a good way to communicate on matters that require a quick response, but otherwise email makes more sense.

Forward-Looking

Starting in August 2020, I began posting my personal newsletter and Resources For Life newsletter at the beginning of the month rather than the end of the month.

I found with an end-of-month deadline, the newsletter would get completed in haste with other activities having a priority. Setting a goal of getting the newsletter done early in the month helped me not feel pressured. It was on the top of my list of monthly tasks, but need not be rushed.

In recent months I’ve switched to forward-looking tasks, preparing for and completing tasks ahead of the goal. I’ve started this month’s newsletter a day early so that after some revisions and reflection it will be ready to send out on the first of the month.

I have some other monthly tasks that I start preparing for in the final days of the previous month.

Tech Work

As I mentioned in the previous newsletter, April was mostly spent working on annual finances and bookkeeping. As a result, May was very busy catching up on web project commitments and some unplanned tech support needs. This had me working 7-days-per-week to catch up and keep up. I’m still keeping a busy schedule heading into June.

Tech Upgrades

Something else keeping me busy in May was the purchase and setup of a new primary computer used for my daily work. I wrote about the process. [More Here…] This required some planning. The new computer uses a different processor than the previous one (the Apple M1 replacing the Intel Core i7), so I’m trying to limit my work to the software written for the new processor. The old computer is still running, but had some ongoing reliability issues so it needed to be replaced.

Another slight disruption during the month of May was caused by a Microsoft update that caused some Windows computers to have startup trouble. I assisted people who had crashed computers, and had to perform a fresh Windows 10 installation on my own computer.

Fortunately for all of the above work, I have backups and didn’t lose any data.

WRITING

Due to the excessive tech work last month, in May I created only four posts on the Resources For Life website. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New page.

Road to Minimalism

In recent months, in addition to doing less writing, I’m spending less time on dozens of other non-income-producing activities and initiatives I was involved in previously. In my December 2017 newsletter, I referred to this as “Bringing in the Fishing Nets.”

This downsizing and simplifying will take years and involves shutting down numerous websites, closing outdated online accounts, and going through hundreds of boxes of old work-related items in a pursuit of online and offline minimalism.

Going forward, I want to make sure my schedule and life are as lean as possible. Having to work seven days a week through the pandemic, and through the Derecho storm, during power outages, despite multiple system crashes, has taught me the importance of being prepared for the next crisis situations and not being overextended.

I plan to contribute less to the Resources For Life website, and starting with the June 2021 newsletter, I plan to have quarterly seasonal updates for RFL rather than monthly. I’ve discontinued the Heart Songs program which I started 20 years ago, because it was an example of something that had been taking more time. I’ve explained more about that below.

The direction I’m heading in will be an increasing focus on tech services and web services. As I’m looking to the next 20-30 years, I need to anticipate that I won’t be able to continue working 60 hours a week, so I’ll need to plan accordingly.

Heart Songs

I’ve enjoyed sharing music each month through the Resources For Life newsletters. Starting this year, I’m planning to switch to occasionally sharing music through posts on the site, but not as featured items in the newsletter.

In the past, I’d encounter new music while driving and listening to the radio, or at restaurants, or watching movies, or a new TV series, etc. With the pandemic I’m at home more, working more, and not exposed to much new music. These days, much of the music I hear, I already know. It’s not new. 

In the past, one of the primary opportunities for me to enjoy music was during my daily workout. I’ve changed my exercise routine and these days go on nature walks without listening to anything other than nature. My work these days requires more focus, or time on the phone with people, so the role of music in my life has diminished.

Because I’m no longer exposed to music on a regular basis, finding songs to share every month required some additional time in an already busy schedule.

In addition to these factors, the music industry has gone through seismic shifts in recent decades. For many years I used an Apple iTunes playlist sharing feature to share music. That service was eventually discontinued. Other similar services came along, but didn’t last. YouTube has been the most recent service I relied on to share music, but often great music videos are not available months later. Either the artist removes their own videos from YouTube or someone not authorized to share the music is asked to remove it from a personal YouTube channel. Spotify allows for playlists and sharing links to songs, but not all music is available there.

Given licensing and copyright restrictions, I considered using services like Artlist.io as a source for unique royalty-free music that I could share without worrying about it not being available in the future. The music comes with a lifetime unlimited license to use and share through created works. However, the service is expensive, the collection is limited, and it takes time to download and manage the items. I did use the service for a while. Here’s a music video I created from one of the songs I liked. [View]

The Soundcloud music service is a nice way to learn about and follow local musicians and lesser known musicians, but downloading and sharing can be a bit limited, and the premium service is expensive.

For all of these reasons, I’m planning to phase out the Heart Songs tradition.

THANKS!

Many thanks to all of you who keep in touch and provide support for the work I do.

20120224fr-greg-signature

Want More News? To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here. For additional news and updates, you can click here to subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter.

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 20 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and public interest efforts. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 202105 | 1 May 2021 | Sat

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. The photo featured above is from a walk in Iowa City on 28 Apr 2021.

business Accounting

It’s tax season, so I spent most of April working on annual financial bookkeeping for the consulting work I do. Over the years, I’ve been able to automate most of the process. Even so, I still review all transactions to make sure the automated system is working properly, and I manually complete the work that can’t be automated. There are thousands of transactions in a year for income and expenses that all need to be reviewed. Some require only a glance, others require a deeper review. I have multiple redundant ways to document each transaction including paper receipts, email receipts, scanned documents, GPS records, and other methods. If you’re interested in learning more, I’ve written up the complete guide to the small business billing and accounting system I developed. [Read Here]

WRITING

Due to the almost full-time commitment to bookkeeping recently, last month I created only five posts on the Resources For Life website. Some are tech support guides and others are featured documentary videos. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New page.

COVID Thoughts

I’m thankful to have avoided getting COVID during the pandemic. I’ve tried to follow all the recommended guidelines and encourage others to do the same.

This past week I was listening to the news on Iowa Public Radio and learned that 80% of Iowa’s 99 counties have rejected some or all of their COVID vaccine allotment because there is little local interest among Iowans in becoming vaccinated. In many Iowa counties, fewer than 50% of people are vaccinated. Some people don’t wear masks, or if they have masks, they can’t muster the energy required to cover their nose. News reports from elsewhere in the U.S. show maskless people participating in massive street parties. People continue to travel for pleasure. A report today states: “100 Million Americans Are Fully Vaccinated as Concerns Grow About the Rest.” Source: NY Times, 1 May 2021 [View] While some people are willing to sacrifice 20 minutes and endure a poke in the arm for a free vaccine to save lives, others are not. This isn’t surprising. If people aren’t willing to pull a mask up 1/2-inch to cover their nose, they probably won’t expend greater effort to help others.

The carelessness of some people is resulting in contagious mutations and variants of COVID that will be harder to stop.

Against the local context of apathy and complacency, it’s been difficult to hear the news of suffering in India this past week. It’s also a foreboding warning to others.

India has actually been, and continues to be, mostly a success story when it comes to their COVID response. Over 1.8 million lives have been saved in India during the pandemic — If India had the same response and outcomes as the United States in fighting COVID, there would have been about 2 million fatalities in India instead of 212,000.

India is now fighting the more aggressive mutations of COVID. They are struggling. Other countries, like the U.S. may not fare as well.

Let’s all consider how we can stop the further spread and mutation of COVID, and do our part to protect ourselves and others.

THANKS!

Many thanks to all of you who keep in touch and provide support for the work I do.

20120224fr-greg-signature

Want More News? To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here. For additional news and updates, you can click here to subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter.

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 20 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and public interest efforts. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

My Competitor is Winning. My Competitor is Me.

In the late 1990s, I setup the ResourcesForLife.com website as a place for all my interests and business endeavors. The idea was to create a destination with many attractions, similar to a shopping mall or vacation destination. People would arrive at the site for tech support, but also learn about tiny houses, and see some of my photography or listen to my music.

That approach has generally worked over the years, and the site has seen about 4 million visitors. However, those looking for tech support in Iowa City will not be searching Google or Bing on the words “resources for life” but instead they will be searching for something like “Iowa City tech support” or “Iowa City Computer Support.”

About ten years ago, I decided to setup two additional websites. One site is IowaCityTechnologyServices.com and the other is IowaCityComputerSupport.com.

I put most of my effort into developing the Iowa City Technology Services website, given that the term technology services would seem more inclusive of laptop computers, mobile technology, and support for other electronic devices. The idea of Computer Support seemed antiquated to me and unlikely to generate much interest, but I thought it would help to have it out there.

Today, if you search Google for “Iowa City tech support” my two websites are in the top 5 non paid organic listings of 47 million results. Among the Google business listings, Iowa City Computer Support shows up first in the results.

Ultimately, in this competition between me and myself, running two identical businesses, with the same services, and the same tech person, with the same rates, one of them has significantly pulled out into the lead. The only difference is the website name. It is the Computer Support website that has succeeded greatest. This taught me that one can never fully predict or determine the outcome regardless of how much effort we put in.

why You Need Three Websites

When I’m helping someone get started online with a web presence, I always say that a person needs at least three websites:

  1. Your Name. In the word of mouth and ‘word of mouse’ manner that business awareness spreads, people may sometimes search directly for your business by your name and not the business name. They will search for “Iowa City Greg Johnson computer support” or just search for “Greg Johnson Iowa City.” Many people I work with don’t know the name of my business. They tell their friends, “You should call Greg Johnson.” So, there is always a need for people to have a website under their own name to make it easy to be found. That personal website need not be complicated. It can have just a few buttons for destinations of interest. It’s a way to be found.
  2. Your Business Name. It’s nice to have a catchy and fun business name. Many businesses have names that consist of words previously not found in a dictionary. Others have names that make it impossible to know what the business is really about unless you already know what the business does. We all imagine that we will take our ‘baby’ as a business and brand to the level of public awareness that one day everyone will recognized Droxler Industries as a household name synonymous with whatever it is the business does. “Google did it. So can I!” is the thinking. Having a catching business name is just part of the success puzzle, but not all of it.
  3. What You Do. Perhaps more important than having your name or your business name as a dot com website will be to have a brief description of what you do as a dot com website (or two). You want to ensure that when people do a search on your service, that you have a website named as what they searched on dot com. That would hopefully get you higher in the search results.

Three Rules of Success

Having a few websites is just the start. Here are three aspects of fostering success.

  1. Content Matters. Having a genuine website with genuine unique written content and photos makes a big difference.
  2. The Dot Com Difference. The most recognizable website extension is .com and it’s the one people may ‘remember’ when they are typing in a website address. So, if you have a .biz or .info or .us extension on your website, a person looking for the site may by habit type in the .com extension instead. It is similar to toll free numbers beginning in 1-800. That’s the prefix we remember for toll free numbers even though 877 and other prefixes have been used in recent years. So, I always advise people to have a .com version of the website name they want whenever possible.
  3. Connecting. The real-world meaningful connections we make, and the successes we have in helping others, that’s the soil that our business grows in. The websites and online presence is just an ornament or decorative gift wrapping paper to the core of who we are and what we do.

Conclusion

What I offer above are not answers, but questions that will point you to your own answers. My experience of establishing two seemingly identical businesses and seeing one succeed was a reminder to me about the unpredictable nature of business success. The experience reinforced my desire to have diversity in my business, and to have multiple businesses.

# # #

[Photo Credit: The photo at the top of this page is one I took on 28 Mar 2020. I colorized it slightly.]

Personal Update 202104 | 6 Apr 2021 | Tuesday

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. The photo featured above is from an evening walk in Kent Park on 5 Aug 2020.

What Keeps Me Busy These Days

I continue to be busy providing tech services, working on web design projects, and offering other support to people from morning until evening seven days a week. For breaks from my work, I go on walks in nature, and work as a sous-chef in our home kitchen. I also keep busy creating an average of one post per day on the Resources For Life website. More about that below.

Web Design

Something I like about Iowa City is that so many interesting people live here. Recently, I’ve been working on creating a website for a bicyclist who is known for having completed a 20,000 mile self-contained bicycle ride from the northern tip of Alaska to the south-most point of Chile. There are some more pages to create for the website, but if you’d like to learn more about the epic ride you can do so by visiting the completed portion of the site. [Visit Site]

WRITING

Last month I created 28 posts on the Resources For Life website. Some are tech support guides and others are featured documentary videos. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New page.

THANKS!

Many thanks to all of you who keep in touch and provide support for the work I do.

20120224fr-greg-signature

Want More News? To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here. For additional news and updates, you can click here to subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter.

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 20 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and public interest efforts. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 202103 | 1 Mar 2021 | Monday

Greetings!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here. The photo featured above is from my morning walk today. I’m not sure what animal tracks those are.

Winter Days

We had some exceptionally cold winter days in February, and plenty of snow, which combined with the cautiousness of the pandemic, has kept me inside most of February. As usual, I’ve been busy with my tech support work, but at this time of year I am also catching up on annual financial and administrative tasks. So, I’ve not created as much content as I usually would have.

WRITING

Last month I created more posts on the Resources For Life website. Some are tech support guides and others are featured documentary videos. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New page.

THANKS!

Many thanks to all of you who keep in touch and provide support for the work I do.

20120224fr-greg-signature

Want More News? For additional news and updates, you can click here to subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter.

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 20 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and public interest efforts. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 202102 | 10 Feb 2021 | Wednesday

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here. The photo featured above is from a walk on 5 Jan 2021.

Keeping Busy With Various Services

I continue to be busy providing tech, web, audio, photography, and videos services. It’s nice to have a mix of different projects to be working on. Here’s an example of some work in recent weeks:

  • The primary computer for a local business had stopped working. The computer was probably over 10 years old, so finding parts would be difficult. I was able to track down a specialty power supply that worked. Getting it installed was a bit difficult since the computer was not easy to work on.
  • Someone had an old out-of-print LP record they wanted converted to digital audio. I was able to create separate MP3 audio files for each song on the album.
  • A local author needed a website renovation to display information about their books. I was able to modernize and upgrade the website.
  • I’ve been working on a variety of video projects for people. One project involved recording and editing video of people telling their stories of achieving better health. That project is still underway.
  • Tomorrow I’ll be setting up an audio system for someone’s home.

Working During the Pandemic

These days I generally avoid in-person visits. When an in-person visit is necessary (like setting up a stereo system), I limit such visits to one per week and get errands done on the same day. I’m always masked up — usually with two masks.

With weekly outings, I have enough days before any encounters to confirm I don’t have any symptoms of COVID, flu, cold or anything else. Then, I have several days afterwards to make sure I don’t start showing signs of having contracted something.

By self-quarantining after every weekly outing, I’m able to reduce the risk of spreading to others. Also, if I were to come down with something, I could report back to my most recent contact to let them know.

These sensible and simple measures involve very little effort or cost, and only minimal planning. They’ve worked for a year to avoid getting and spreading any illnesses.

WRITING

Last month I created more posts on the Resources For Life website. Some are tech support guides and others are featured documentary videos. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New page.

THANKS!

Many thanks to all of you who keep in touch and provide support for the work I do.

20120224fr-greg-signature

Want More News? For additional news and updates, you can click here to subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter.

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 20 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and public interest efforts. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 202101 | 3 Jan 2021 | Sunday

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here. The photo featured above is from a walk in Kent Park yesterday.

PODCAST

The podcast has allowed me to respond to the increase in demand for tech support during the COVID-19 pandemic, as we’ve seen an increase of people at home using their computers and devices for work and other purposes.

Last year I produced about 30 hours of podcast content in 56 episodes averaging a little over 30 minutes per episode. These are audio recordings of the advice I would give for the most common questions that people regularly ask of me, and usually pay me for answering.

With the podcast audios available, when people would call asking a common question, I could point them to the audio with the answers they needed. This allowed me to help more people, and saved money for those needing help.

If I take the number of plays for each episode, and total those up, there have been about 625 hours of content that people have listened to. This is mostly tech advice that I would typically charge $100 per hour for. So, assuming it was helpful to those who listened, it’s the equivalent of giving away $62,500 in consulting.

You can see recently posted podcast episodes at ResourcesForLife.com/podcast.

WRITING

Last month I created more posts on the Resources For Life website. Some are tech support guides and others are featured documentary videos. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New page.

THANKS!

Many thanks to all of you who keep in touch and provide support for the work I do.

20120224fr-greg-signature

Want More News? For additional news and updates, you can click here to subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter.

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 20 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and public interest efforts. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 202012 | 5 Dec 2020 | Saturday

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here.

The photo featured above is from my morning walk on 28 Nov 2020. We’ve begun seeing some frost on the ground in the morning.

TECH UPDATE

As I mentioned in my November newsletter, I spent October designing an alternate computing environment for my tech work. In this way, if something happened to my Apple computer system, I could easily use the Windows and Linux computers I built. Shortly after my November newsletter, my Apple computer began failing and needed repairs.

I’ve spoken about this experience in my podcast episodes 52 [listen] and 54 [listen]. I’m thankful I had setup a parallel system that was up and running so the disruption was minimized. The computer got repaired and is working great now. It was in the shop for about 12 days. It was a good test.

PODCAST

You can see recently posted podcast episodes at ResourcesForLife.com/podcast.

WRITING

Last month I created more posts on the Resources For Life website. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New page.

THANKS!

Many thanks to all of you who keep in touch and provide support for the work I do.

20120224fr-greg-signature

Want More News? For additional news and updates, you can click here to subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter.

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 20 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and public interest efforts. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 202011 | 1 Nov 2020 | Sunday

Greetings!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here.

TECH UPDATE

This past month I spent some time redesigning my office computing technology including building a Windows desktop computer and a setting up a Raspberry Pi computer. Having a diversified tech work environment, using Apple, Windows, and Linux, keeps me flexible and allows me to choose the best system for each task. Most of the new posts last month on Resources For Life are about these tech projects on the What’s New page.

PODCAST

You can see recently posted podcast episodes at ResourcesForLife.com/podcast.

WRITING

Last month I created more posts on the Resources For Life website. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New page.

THANKS!

Many thanks to all of you who keep in touch and provide support for the work I do.

20120224fr-greg-signature

Want More News? For additional news and updates, you can click here to subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter.

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 20 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and public interest efforts. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 202010 | 3 Oct 2020 | Saturday

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here.

PODCAST

Since last month, I’ve uploaded episodes 39 to 45 on a variety of topics. You can see recently posted episodes on the What’s New page at  ResourcesForLife.com/new or the Podcast page at ResourcesForLife.com/podcast.

WRITING

Last month I created 44 posts for the Resources For Life website with some of those being podcast episodes. Some are featured videos. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New page.

VINTAGE VIDEO

For those of you fascinated by vintage newsreel footage, you will likely enjoy this presentation by Nicholas Johnson at Grinnell College on 1 Apr 1971.

PRODUCTION NOTES: The compilation of this video required combining three different videos, boosting the audio level, and sliding the audio track to make it precisely synchronized the audio with the video. The raw footage was provided by the University of Iowa Library Archives.

THANKS!

Many thanks to all of you who keep in touch and provide support for the work I do.

20120224fr-greg-signature

Want More News? For additional news and updates, you can click here to subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter.

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 20 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and activism. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.