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Personal Update 202109 | 1 Sep 2021 | Wednesday

GREETINGS!

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

The Model 1 Desktop Computer

I’ve been assembling and repairing computers for many years. A topic that has interested me recently is the right to repair. This involves consumers pleading with manufacturers for permission to fix something they purchased. Companies are making products increasingly difficult to repair, and attempts to repair can void a warranty. It’s important for consumers and governments to pressure manufacturers so that products can be more easily upgraded, repaired, and kept out of landfills.

While we wait for that battle to play out, an easy solution is to become the manufacturer. My assembling and building our own devices, we don’t need to ask anyone for permission to repair them. We can design them to be easily repaired.

I’ve designed a desktop computer that I call the Model 1. It runs on 60 watts of power, and in standby mode uses 1/100th of a watt. It’s easy to build, easy to upgrade, and easy to repair. There is no Model 2 with ‘new and improved’ features designed to entice you into being dissatisfied with the Model 1. The system evolves over time as needed, but never needs replacing.

It is available with Windows, or free Linux operating system and software which are designed and supported by the people for the people.

Learn more at IowaCityTech.com/model-1/

The Grid of Stuff

As part of my downsizing and pursuit of minimalism, I’ve been selling off a lot of possessions on eBay, a few items at a time. It’s nice to be contributing to the “grid of stuff” where I know my things will end up with those who need them somewhere, rather than just having them sit in boxes.

Consulting

Over the past 18 months, during the pandemic, I’ve been working 12 to 16 hours per day, seven days a week. Much of that time was spent volunteering tech services to those who can’t afford do pay normal consulting rates, or even afford to pay anything. For those in need, I would donate computers, and offer some vocational and tech training to help them get back on their feet.

As the summer winds down, I’m at a turning point. I need to restore some balance to my life. I’ve been letting go of some recently added business customers, and also cutting back on my writing contributions to the Resources For Life website. However, my business operating costs and living expenses remain the same, so my consulting will need to continue.

From 2001 through 2015 I was working full-time at the University of Iowa, and also had a very busy evening and weekend consulting schedule. As a result, I had some excess income. Other than paying my basic living expenses, the excess mostly went to help others in need and was also donated to local non-profit groups.

Since 2016, I’ve been living on the consulting income only. The excess income of working two jobs is no longer present. So, there’s more pressure to fill my weekday schedule with billable appointments. To stay available for the daily unexpected calls, and administrative work that needs to be done, I’ve only been scheduling 2 or 3 appointments per day. This crunch just means that I’m less available to help individuals in need and non-profit groups.

It’s been a difficult adjustment to no longer have the excess income that I had in the past. I’m also realizing late in life that I probably won’t be able to continue a full-time work schedule into my senior years. So, I need to stay disciplined and consistent about saving for a modest retirement.

Going forward, I’ll continue working with those who have relied on me over the past 30 years, and those who come to me for help by way of a referral. I’ll also be making time for family in need of tech support, or just needing my skill as a jester.

Resources For Life

Last month I wrote about the launch of ResourcesForLife.ORG — a fast, simple, purely HTML hand-coded site focused on serving those working in the public interest. My plan is to continue building that site out in the months ahead. The site is unique in that it could be downloaded and viewed from a USB flash drive or CD drive on a computer not connected to the Internet. The entire site could be put into a ZIP file and emailed.

The ResourcesForLife.COM website needs significant work. After 24 years of development, there is content that needs to be updated or removed. I’m planning to bring the full site online for a few days four times a year to coincide with the quarterly seasonal newsletters.

The site is currently online and available for browsing through this weekend. I thought I would make it available quarterly in its present state for anyone who would like to see the site, or those who have specific reference materials they’d like to lookup and save. After that, the site will go back into the vault until December. While the site is under construction, a minimalist HTML version of the site will be available.

My long-term goal would be to have the .ORG site be focused on public interest work, and the .COM site to continue providing tech tips, life tips, and support to entrepreneurs.

The ResourcesForLife.com Fall 2021 Newsletter is available from Sep 1 – 5. [View]

THANKS!

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

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 21 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. [View]

Personal Update 202108 | 1 Aug 2021 | Sunday

Greetings!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. The photo featured above is from a nature walk in Iowa City on 29 July 2021.

Resources For Life – going forward

The Resources For Life project was brought online in the 1990s as the culmination of work that began in the 1980s. The goal was to establish businesses that would fund public interest work, and have a unified website as the venue for all those activities. Public Interest Computer Consulting was the business name for my tech work early on. Then PC DOC. The names change over the years, but the purpose is the same.

Going forward, the familiar ResourcesForLife.com website will remain as a hub, with links to the businesses and outreach efforts that will continue on separate websites. [View] But it will be a bonsai tree compared to what the site had been in the past. This will make the site easier to maintain.

Going forward, the public interest work of Resources For Life will continue on the new minimalist ResourcesForLife.org website. [View]

My tech consulting will remain on the various websites where it is found, including my personal site.

I’ll continue to provide updates regarding progress through my monthly personal email newsletter.

Initiatives that have been impactful and valued over the years will continue. Those that didn’t gain traction or seem as needed will be phased out.

One of the reasons for dialing down my broader outreach — the writings, videos, podcast, and other efforts — is to free up time to focus on a smaller circle of people.

Let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestions.

RESILIENCE in Difficult Times

I recently finished a three-part series on minimalism, and shared some changes I’m making to create a more adaptable and resilient life. For details, you can read those writings. [ Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 ]

I feel very fortunate to be living in the Midwest:

  • We’re not on the coasts having to respond to rising waters, hurricanes, and tsunamis. 
  • We’re not in the South-Western states dealing with drought, severe water shortages.
  • We don’t have the ravaging fires of California and the Pacific Northwest.
  • We live in an area where people are vaccinated and willing to wear masks, so viruses are less disruptive and lethal than elsewhere in the country.
  • We don’t have the congestion, traffic, pollution, noise, crime, and poverty common in many large cities and heavily populated areas.
  • I’ve watched videos of the 1,200-year floods and other natural disasters happening around the world right now. There have also been some infrastructure disasters globally.

The above conditions cause me to reflect on two things:

  1. I feel a sense of responsibility to do something good with this good fortune. I want to be more focused and impactful with any public outreach work I do. For every 10 people dealing with floods, fires, and illness from a virus, each of us who are well and able need to work hard to support those who are suffering.
  2. We live in a very turbulent world. It’s important going forward to establish a life that is adaptable and resilient. For myself, this means getting rid of things I don’t need — material stuff and digital stuff that’s consuming time and money.

Regarding websites, I wrote about the need for reliability and my reasoning for designing a resilient website.

“Modern websites are developed using many complex layers of interdependent technologies and third-party services. If any of these fail, sites may go down or become infected with harmful malware. Whether from human error, system failure, or malicious intentions, disruptions can occur. The cost in time and moneyise excessive. There is also a great environmental cost in having so many computers running continuously, hosting millions of websites. During times of global instability due to climate extremes and pandemics, outages may happen more frequently and take longer to recover from when there are fewer people available to repair systems.”

[SourceRFL ORG – Design Notes]

This is why ResourcesForLife.org was launched as a fast, simple, purely HTML-coded site.

THANKS!

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

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.

Preparing for what’s next…

In 1997, I established the ResourcesForLife.com website as an online venue for engaging in public interest work and supporting others who work to make the world a better place. 

To fund those efforts, rather than asking for donations, I planned to start businesses that would generate surplus revenue to cover the cost of my outreach efforts. That model worked well for 24 years.

Since there were no big-money donors or advertisers, I was unrestrained in the challenges I could undertake and the commentary I would write.

Through writings, videos, public speaking, and direct outreach, I hoped to positively impact education, the environment, healthcare, consumer rights, worker rights, housing, civic engagement, and other areas. 

One of my favorites areas of public interest work has been consumer advocacy. An example would be a negotiation I had with Apple that reduced the cost of a product by 90%. In 2003, the song American Pie was selling for $9.99 on iTunes (purchase of the entire album was required). I negotiated with Apple’s legal counsel at the time, arguing that their advertising promised songs for 99-cents. After an extended dialog over many days, I won that negotiation. My time was volunteered. I received nothing personally of monetary value, and there was no news coverage of the victory. But the satisfaction of having won against Apple still inspires me to this day. There were similar successes over the years and also some bewildering instances where companies would not back down from engaging in short-sighted, self-destructive practices.

In 2012, I launched the Threat News Radar project with the goal of tracking news of global issues that threatened the environment, human rights, government stability, and the world in general. By 2018, there were so many of these threats in the news that it was no longer possible to write individual articles about them. So, I would share the dozens of weekly stories through social media. It required less time to write a short summary and provide a link. Now, in 2021, there are so many of these reports daily that it’s not possible to keep up. 

In recent days, there have been reports of 1,200-year droughts as well as numerous 1,200-year floods around the world. Now there are websites dedicated to reporting on the massive floods we are witnessing globally. Fires in the west are creating thick haze and air quality issues impacting Chicago and even New York. Southwestern states are running out of water. A lack of interest in curtailing viral threats is resulting in cycles of more contagious variants of greater lethality. The seriousness and frequency of all these threats continue to increase. Last year in Iowa, we had a storm that left 300,000 people without power. 

Four days ago, more than 32,000 websites and apps went down, including those from Amazon, American Express, AT&T, Costco, FedEx, GoDaddy, LastPass, McDonald’s, UPS, US Bank, Vanguard, and about 32,000 others. It’s not yet known if this was the result of human error or malicious hacker activity. But does it really matter what the cause was? These incidents of massive outages and security breaches are increasing in frequency and impact.

The U.S. national debt continues to increase every second, with seemingly no concern that it be paid down. Regional population growth exceeds the availability of water and other resources required to support life. Indeed, the world population continues to grow at a rapid rate, resulting in regional scarcities that produce strife, war, and suffering.

Given the above facts, it’s even more important than ever that we not dwell on what’s wrong in the world. It’s also equally important that we not ignore global threats. Those of us who care should focus on solutions. We should do what we can to raise awareness and take positive action in our own lives.

For these reasons, in preparing for what’s next, I’m focused on pursuing minimalism and simplifying my life. I am getting rid of possessions I’m not using. I also am looking for ways to simplify my digital life. Over the past few days, I’ve reduced the ResourcesForLife.com website to a single simple webpage. It had grown to be too much for one person to manage, and much of the content was outdated. The cost in time and money to maintain the site was excessive, and the website in itself produced no revenue.

The global priorities and urgency have dramatically shifted, and we all need to adjust accordingly. I’m currently evaluating where my time and resources can be better invested to have the greatest positive impact in the world.

I’ll report more in the days to come about my plans for what’s ahead. I’ll continue to provide tech services since that is my personal area of expertise and the best way to help those who depend on me.

MORE

  • This article is part 3 in a series on the need for minimalism. Parts 1 and 2 are in my most recent monthly updates. [Part 1 | Part 2]
  • The photo above is from a visit to the Hoover Dam on 23 Dec 2019.
  • To signup for my short monthly email for news about what’s going on in my life, please click here.

Personal Update 202107 | 1 Jul 2021 | Thursday

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. The photo featured above is from a nature walk in Iowa City on 30 Jun 2021.

Last month’s news update covered a lot of news, so check that out in case you didn’t see it previously. [View]

Windows 11

I’m writing this month’s newsletter using a version of Windows 11 from Microsoft designed for ARM processors, so it is running in a virtual machine on an Apple computer using an ARM-based Apple Silicon M1 processor with 16 billion transistors capable of 11 trillion operations per second. That way, if I ever have 11 trillion things I need to get done, I can complete the work in one second.

Windows 11 is a fast and friendly version of Windows that I prefer over previous versions. I’m also able to access Windows 11 from my iPad and use the touch features through a remote desktop connection to the virtual Windows 11 computer.

I’ve wanted to have some experience using Windows 11 since I’ll need to start supporting it later this year as it is released to the public on new computers. Many older traditional Windows computers will be unable to use Windows 11, and Microsoft has announced that support for Windows 10 will end on 14 Oct 2025. Going forward, new Intel and ARM-based computers should support Windows 11.

Windows 10 was impressive because it could run on older computers that may have shipped with Windows 7 or Windows 8. However, Windows 11 won’t run on most older computers. A major hardware requirement is that the computer have a TPM chip (trusted platform module) with version 2.0 of that standard. It’s something many computers don’t have.

In addition to using the Windows 11 operating system, I’ve also been working recently with DOS 6.22, Windows 98, Windows XP, the latest Apple operating system (Big Sur), and various versions of Linux (Ubuntu and PopOS).

WRITING

Due to excessive tech work last month, and putting in 7-day workweeks, I didn’t post any articles in June, other than the now quarterly Resources For Life News. [View]

ROAD TO MINIMALISM – Part 2

I wrote last month about the road to minimalism. In addition to what I shared previously, I’m finding the need to simplify because of how time consuming every interaction can be.

Here’s one example of why.

Everybody is apparently wanting to get rich quick, but not work to earn money. This isn’t necessarily new, but it’s becoming more of a problem. A 2007 book by Timothy Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek, served as a road map and manifesto to those wanting to work less and earn more. That message has only become amplified and more vigorously pursued in the past 14 years.

Products are poorly designed by people trying to cut corners and cut costs to maximize profits. Product testing is minimal or non-existent. The products are made with poor quality materials and manufactured by the factory with the lowest bid. For these reasons, products break. When they break, consumers seek out customer service, which has been outsourced.

About a year ago the lid on my water bottle broke. I contacted customer service. They assured me a replacement lid would be sent out. For over a year, I’ve repeatedly contacted them asking when they think the lid might be sent out. I was repeatedly told the lid would be sent very soon. Finally, over a year later, I was told they couldn’t replace the lid and that purchasing a new unit was the only way to get a working product.

That’s just a single issue that took a year and it didn’t get resolved. Every week there are a half-dozen things like that happening. Things breaking. Disorganized companies.

There are two other instances this week of products breaking or otherwise not working, requiring communications with customer service. It’s hugely time consuming.

It is because of the above increasingly time consuming complexities that I’m looking for ways to simplify my life. One less defective product in my life can free up many hours.

In addition to the challenges one faces personally, there’s the need to support people in crisis. On multiple occasions recently, Microsoft updates have caused computers to crash. This is well documented. Microsoft is aware of the issue. They have apologized. When this happens, people are in crisis mode and need help from me.

There have been a rise of very effective scams and frauds in recent months. When people get sucked into these, it can take hours to help them cleanup the mess and recover.

So, I think downsizing and simplifying are the keys to moving forward with efficiency.

[Part 1, Part 2, Part 3]

THANKS!

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

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.

There’s no coupon code for freedom.

Freedom is somewhat of an abstract word. Politicians often use it to stir patriotic sentiments and for virtue signaling. Yet, most people would be hard-pressed to describe what freedom actually is.

There’s certainly potential for freedom in America: the freedom to choose a career path, start a business, travel, live where you want, start a family, practice religion (or not), enjoy parks, and pursue numerous diversions.

But the potential for freedom isn’t the same as ensuring that everyone has unobstructed opportunities for their own experience of freedom.

A strong military provides a defense against an armed invasion. Cyber-defense specialists protect against online threats.

However, there are many other obstacles to freedom.

If people don’t have access to quality education and vocational training, how will they grow in a career that can provide them some financial freedom? Without a relatively good-paying job, many people work two or more jobs living paycheck to paycheck. In Tennessee, college education, internships, mentoring, and vocational training are guaranteed to all residents. It’s an initiative that aims at promoting individual freedom. That program is working.

Healthy people are well enough to work, and that employment provides access to quality healthcare. Those who are sick, can’t work, and without a job typically don’t have access to affordable healthcare. So, the people in greatest need of healthcare can’t get it, and those who are healthy enough to have access to it mostly don’t need it. Some states have established programs to make healthcare more accessible to all.

We have the strongest military in the world, but to someone without a job, without a home, and without good health, the sacrifice of our soldiers doesn’t get fully manifested. We can build high walls to keep others out, but if we don’t have a high quality of life guaranteed for all citizens, what are the walls accomplishing?

In addition to the personal building blocks of freedom for an individual’s life, there are social institutions that help keep our nation free.

The freedom we collectively experience requires ongoing maintenance and upkeep. Institutions of education, libraries, a free and independent press, the courts, and people fulfilling their civic duties are all part of what keeps democracy working. According to Nicholas Johnson, these are the Columns of Democracy.

Try running a car without oil. You won’t get far. Democracy without all of its supportive pillars won’t go far either.

It’s all about freedom—that simple word with so much meaning for so many people.

This July 4, when you think about independence and freedom, consider all that is required to promote and defend freedom for individuals and our country. Let’s appreciate all of those who help support the entire ecosystem that freedom and democracy rely on.

Freedom isn’t free. There’s no discount coupon or special offer code. It’s a lot of work for the individual and for a country.

Happy Independence Day.

The fireworks photo at the top of this page is from a trip to Lake Tahoe during the July 4 celebrations in 2018.

Jobs That Promote Freedom

Here’s a PBS NewsHour video from 1 Jul 2021 on the topic of providing education, experience, vocational training, and apprenticeship programs that will give them a career boost and greater financial independence.

Traditional Patriotism

Lee Greenwood is known for his song “God Bless the USA” in which it is proclaimed “The flag still stands for freedom, and they can’t take that away.” Last year, Greenwood, collaborated with The United States Air Force Band, Singing Sergeants, and the music group Home Free, to produce a new version of that song. A video of their recording is below. This is an example of traditional patriotism which is still popular today.

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 – PART 1

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.

[Part 1, Part 2, Part 3]

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.

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[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.