Personal Update 202207 | 1 Jul 2022

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. The photo above is from my morning walk on 26 June 2022.

Daily Walks

I’ve been going on daily walks each morning, and it’s been a really helpful practice to start each day off in nature with a clear head.

Earlier this year, pressured by an excessive workload, I had been starting my days early with desk work. Tech work is mostly sedentary whether sitting at my desk or someone else’s desk. So, the walks are a way to ensure some exercise and activity during the day.

The walks are also an opportunity to take some photos.

Adjusting Service Focus

I continue to provide tech support to people in the Iowa City area, and some from other locations who either moved or have been referred.

As the need for tech services has increased, and the time involved in resolving issues has increased, I’ve had to make adjustments to help as many people as possible.

I’ve been gradually reducing tech support for business customers and shifting my focus to mostly seniors and people serving in public interest work.

Breaking News

It seems like every day there is a major breaking news story. Usually these mark a continuation of an existing crisis or threat like climate change, natural disasters, or the war in Ukraine. Sometimes there is a new development that requires an adjustment in thinking or awareness.

On 24 June 2022, the Supreme Court issued a ruling on the Dobbs case which overturned about 50 years of legal precedents. I’ve written a brief commentary about the ruling. [View]

I spent the past year developing a fiction short story about what might happen if the United States became the Divided States. I decided to stop developing the story because it was too dark and implausible. The ruling one week ago by the Supreme Court has started in motion the unfolding of events that I was concerned about. This is explained in my commentary. [View]

It can sometimes be difficult to stay focused on day to day work when such significant developments and changes are happening around us. A person wants to stay informed and responsibly involved in civic obligations. So, I’m trying to keep a balance between staying focused on my work, but socially informed and involved.

Understanding and Kindness

Among the people I know — family, friends, and those I offer tech help to — there are many social and political views.

Because of my role in serving the community, I feel it is particularly important that I be understanding and kind to everyone regardless of their views.

For this reason, I try to be reserved and thoughtful in presenting any observations and views about social issues.

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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 22 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith/philosophy), 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 202206 | 1 Jun 2022

Greetings!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. After more than two years of staying close to home during the pandemic, in May we decided to make a trip to Saint Louis and spent a couple days there. The photo above is from the Missouri Botanical Garden on 6 May 2022.

Time Tracking

I began developing a time tracking system back in April. It’s a grid system with each square of the grid representing a minute of time. This allows for easy visual tracking and review of time spent on projects. I’ve revised the system slightly since I first developed it.

This paper-based system can track time, exercise, finances, sleep, nutrition, and handle other entries throughout the day.

I use a 3-hole punch for the pages which have a gutter margin for the binding. Staples has inexpensive brass binding fasteners to hold the pack of pages.

Paper is available made from sawmill waste, produced using wind energy and hydropower. [Learn More]

Included as part of this paper-based time tracking system, are half-sized sheets of paper used for notes and daily task goals. The reason for the 1/2 sheet is to save paper, and be able to reuse existing scrap paper.

Spending more time with pen and paper results in less time on my smartphone, and less time spent on social media, YouTube, and other distractions. Less screen time, and more time with pen and paper, seems to result in a more calm and grounded day.

US Postal Service

In pursuing my goal of reducing daily screen time, I’ve started using postal mail as an alternative to email. This is particularly helpful for communicating with people who have trouble with technology. Something as seemingly simple as email actually requires many systems to be functioning properly.

If I have something that I want someone to print out, it’s easier for me to print it and mail it to them. This avoids having them encounter problems like being low on ink, out of paper, having Internet problems, computer issues, etc.

Using postal mail is a low-stress simple solution for communicating. It reinforces low-tech alternatives. I want to be supporting the postal service. It’s really valuable to have a national network that makes it possible to send a letter or package thousands of miles for pennies. Sending a physical letter, card, or gift is a more personal way to connect with people.

Artist Promotion

In the past I would occasionally send out prints of my own photography. Lately with my return to using postal mail more frequently, I’m sending out thank you note cards featuring local Iowa City artists. One artist I am supporting is Mara Cole, who has some nice water color paintings of flowers. [Example]

I’ve created a “self-print program” for supporting artists and promoting their work. I use 5×7-inch photo paper for the prints, and the artist gets paid for each print to help support their work. On the back of the print I put a sticker with the artist name, the name of the work, and contact details for the artist. This is a fun way to print-on-demand and choose art that seems to fit the recipient of a thank you note.

I don’t write on the printed card. That way the recipient can use it as a note card for someone else if they want. I have some 6×9-inch envelopes that work perfectly for sending 5×7-inch prints along with a separate note. [View Envelopes]

Only a single first class stamp is needed for postage to send a 6×9-inch envelope. An extra ounce stamp can be used if needed for sending several prints.

Staples and Best Buy

In recent years, I had become a regular Amazon customer. I like the selection, crowd-sourced product reviews, low cost, and fast shipping options. We now have an Amazon warehouse in our city. Yet, I feel that Amazon is still not quite as ‘local’ as stores like Staples and Best Buy. With these local stores, I can still purchase online and get fast free home delivery.

For items I purchase online, returns are much easier with local stores like Staples and Best Buy. For some products, I like the ability to go into a local store and visually examine and compare items before purchasing. For these reasons, I like the combined convenience of online shopping from local stores.

You Can’t Grow a Computer

The pandemic resulted in millions of people working from home. Those people all wanted printers and laptop computers. This created a global shortage of equipment.

More recently, supply chain issues and limited chip availability have caused further shortages of technology. This year, the war between Russia and Ukraine has abruptly disrupted the supply of neon which is essential for computer manufacturing.

Computers and chip-based devices require mining of rare minerals and other non-renewable resources.

I like relying on a paper-based system because I know it is more renewable and sustainable than a computer-based system. Paper can be made from sugar cane production waste, bamboo, or other materials. Computers can’t be grown. They can only be mined and produced at great expense.

The other benefit of a paper-based system is that it requires no electricity. It’s more reliable. It’s easier to use and improve.

I’ll still use computers and tech devices, but with less reliance and dependence on them.

A system that you can grow from the ground is much more advanced than one made with diminishing scarce non-renewable materials.

MY LONG-TERM AND SHORT-TERM PLAN

Last month I mentioned that I created a page for my long-term and short-term plans. It’s something I’ve been developing and thinking about for many years but want to get it written down and expanded on. [View Page]

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You can subscribe to be notified of these monthly newsletters [Subscribe] or scroll to the bottom of this page and enter your email address where indicated to be notified of every post to this 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 22 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith/philosophy), 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 202205 | 1 May 2022

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. The photos featured above are explained below and are part of the “Lives of Service” message in this month’s update.

Lives of Service

The University of Iowa celebrated its 175th anniversary this year. [Learn More] The photo at the top of this page is of the Old Capitol (15 May 2021) and a quotation from the Iowa Memorial Union (2 Dec 2017). The quotation is one of my favorites about higher education, and reflects the mindset of those who instructed me while I was at Iowa.

“And if this magnificent structure is to fulfill the dreams out of which it has arisen, it can only do so by stirring the impulses of the young men and women of Iowa to lives of service to mankind.” ~ James Weaver, 1926

I manage a curated news feed on Facebook and Twitter that focuses on public interest related news about the University of Iowa. Subscribers include University departments, faculty, and area journalists as well as students and others interested in the University. [View on Facebook]

Resources for Life

About 25 years ago, I established Resource For Life as an outreach initiative focused on self-funded public interest work. Consistent with that theme, an early name for my tech support consulting business was Public Interest Computer Consulting (PICC). The tech consulting and public interest work continues today.

About a year ago, I took the main RFL website offline and replaced it using a simpler HTML version with just a few pages. I took a year to reflect on the direction of the project. This month, I’ve brought back the full dot COM website under a new simple WordPress design. Some of the older outdated content has been removed. [View dot COM Version]

The dot ORG version of the site is designed using pure HTML pages. It is intended to have a singular focus on public interest and reference resources, without the additional superfluous content on the dot COM site. Being developed with pure HTML pages, the content loads extremely quickly, regardless of the device being used, even for people in areas of the world with slow and limited Internet service. [View the dot ORG Version]

Just a few days after the redesign launch, Google was gracious enough to reindex the site and put the content on the first page of search results on many terms — allowing me to retain the position and rank of a website with 20+ years of history. So, site visitors began streaming in from all over the world, including visitors from Moscow and Kyiv. It’s encouraging to see such an interest in the project.

Going forward, I’ll be making a greater effort to have content on the site less likely to become outdated. Also, instead of having monthly newsletters, I’ll be focusing on four announcements per year to coincide with quarterly seasonal news. The purposeful streamlining and simplification of the site will help me spend more time on other projects.

Giving it Your Best

We’re all familiar with the term “giving it your best” which conveys the idea of doing your best or working your hardest on a project.

In my life, I have developed the habit of spending the early morning hours on writing. These are the most focused, efficient, and productive hours of the day. Much of my writing would be technical reference guides or social commentary writings for the Resources For Life website.

Over the past eight months, I’ve been using those best hours of the day to work on a very worthwhile project involving a public interest research website. [View Site]

I’ll plan to share more about the project in the months ahead. It’s very aligned with my own interests, so a good fit.

Time Tracking

My daytime hours can be very chaotic with multiple requests coming in simultaneously by phone, text message, and email. I triage those requests, and refer most people to other service providers, or provide free phone support for those with simple questions.

Sometimes I get to the end of a day, having responded to numerous request, and I feel exhausted from having helped so many people. Yet, it’s hard to charge people for brief text exchanges, email replies, and short phone calls. So, I’ll work 12 to 16 hours with little time for a break and have no income.

These numerous daily disruptions interrupt my income-producing work and make it difficult to track billable time. So, I don’t get paid for the numerous short support requests, and am unable track how much cumulative time I’ve spent on substantive work requests.

A project that might normally take an hour, could take 3 to 4 hours with numerous interruptions.

This past month I’ve been developing a paper-based task management and time tracking system. It’s extremely simple, efficient, customizable, easy to setup, and easy to use. The system facilitates greater focus and documents how every minute of the day is spent.

I’ve used computer software and smartphone apps for time tracking, but those have a big learning curve and require some fumbling to use. They are a distraction and use up time to track time.

The paper-based system I’ve developed works much better for my purposes.

My Long-Term and Short-Term Plan

I’ve created a page for my long-term and short-term plans. It’s something I’ve been developing and thinking about for many years. [View Page]

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THANKS!

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

Personal Update 202204 | 10 Apr 2022 

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. The photo featured above was taken yesterday while on a morning walk.

Workload Increasing

My workload has been steadily increasing. Whether for tech support or web support, outages are more common and security threats are an ongoing concern. As people get taken in by scams, there is an increased need for helping them recover. Delays in response time from support staff, and delays in needed products, are disruptive and result in greater effort to accomplish tasks.

These stresses and disruptions are disorienting and can result in cognitive strain for some people. This means that providing tech support may require that instructions be provided more slowly for it to be learned.

The various strains on our society such as wars, pandemics, supply chain disruptions, hackers, climate disasters, global inflation, and other concerns tend to preoccupy people’s minds. So, I tend to offer less information since people aren’t absorbing and remembering details as well.

Prepping to Help Others

The survivalist movement mostly consists of “preppers” who are people anticipating upheaval and various societal disruptions. Realtors have a category of home listings for underground bunkers and fallout shelters, typically in the rural plains west of the Missouri River.

I’ve given some thought to disaster preparedness after living through the pandemic, seeing empty grocery shelves, and being among the 300,000 people in our area without power following the Derecho storm of August 2020. Economic instability and supply chain problems are other motivations for preparing ahead.

My approach to preparedness involves assembling resources that will help me continue providing tech support to people during difficult times. Examples would be having battery backup systems for power during outages, and having a small inventory of commonly needed tech parts and supplies.

Being prepared for one’s own basic survival is fairly easy. There are food packs that promise to provide months of food with a shelf-life of many years. However, being prepared to help others takes a bit more planning and each person’s vocation or profession will have unique planning and preparation needs. This requires thinking through the current support needs people have, and how needs may change in a crisis.

Last year I began writing installments on the topic of simpler tech solutions that cost less money and use less power. I’m continuing to study what solutions may work well during disasters or other disruptions.

agile Preparedness

Most of us have been through power outages. In Iowa City, we’ve had 500-year floods that resulted in closed bridges. We’ve had tornados go through the city destroying homes and flipping cars upside down. The Derecho storm of August 2020 caused significant damage. These experiences help guide a preparedness plan.

One also follows news stories of disruptions elsewhere such as wars, droughts, and rising ocean waters that can all result in displacing millions of people who need to find a caring and welcoming community where they can live.

So, another kind of preparedness is that which allows us to be welcoming of others and supporting the needs of those who are new in our communities.

Minimizing Profits

We’re all familiar with the practice of maximizing profits. It’s a business strategy of spending as little as possible on products and services, reducing labor costs, cutting corners, and offering as little as possible of value to customers while charging as much as possible.

In business, I have always focused on minimizing profits. This means I’m fair with those who provide products and services to me. I seek out high quality products and services for the work I do, rather than inexpensive cheap ones. I acquire software, tools, equipment, systems, and resources that will benefit my customers. These things increase my regular expenses and cut into my net earnings. What’s rewarding is that I’m able to offer a lot of really great services to people at very economical prices.

There are regular monthly and annual fees and subscriptions I pay for software and services I use to do my tech work and website work. There are also purchases of equipment that build the business. These investments in the business over time help the business grow. I could cut back on these expenses, and provide less to the people I support. That would increase my profits. However, I think the practice of putting profits over people is selfish, short sighted, and ultimately not a very good business strategy.

The ideal balance is to invest in a business so it can grow, serve people well, and provide a good livelihood to the business owner.

Despite widespread inflation and rising costs of tech devices in short supply, I’ve been able to continue charging about the same hourly rate that I did over 20 years ago. This is possible through continuous improvement and efficiencies that allow me to provide more services and better support on less money.

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You can subscribe to be notified of these monthly newsletters [Subscribe] or scroll to the bottom of this page and enter your email address where indicated to be notified of every post to this site.

THANKS!

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

Personal Update 202203 | 12 Mar 2022

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. The photo featured above was taken today and shows my latest desktop computing devices. Note that the screen image used on the Moto X phone (on right) is a stock image for that model of phone, so the date shown on that screen isn’t accurate. I downloaded it to the phone and zoomed in on it, since the home screen on that phone no longer looks like the original.

Simple Tech Devices

Last year I wrote about the importance of embracing simpler tech devices in 2022. [View Advisory] I’ve been promoting this message with everyone who comes to me for tech support. Reducing our dependency on devices, and choosing simpler devices can reduce the time, expense, and stress of technology.

This month’s update is being written using the iPad you see pictured above. It is an iPad mini and the first iPad I’ve had that has a USB-C port. Not shown in the picture is the 42-inch (diagonal) 4K Samsung display with 777-square-inches of display surface area. The iPad mini has 31.5-square inches of display surface area for the 8.3-inch diagonal screen.

Common sizes for big screen TVs would be 52-inches up to about 72-inches. So, the 42-inch display is considered to be on the lower end. I purchased it years ago as a primary desktop display. The reason I chose the smaller less expensive display is because for close-up work, the 4K resolution (2266 x 1488 pixels) looks much sharper when condensed onto a small screen.

The iPad mini functions well on its own without any other accessories, but having a keyboard, external display, mouse, and trackpad help create a desktop computing experience from the small iPad that’s about 5.3-inches by 7.7-inches in size and 1/4-inch thick. With a USB-C hub, the iPad mini can have just about every device imaginable connected. [View Example] For daily portability, I carry the iPad and keyboard which function like a small laptop computer. At home, I switch between portable use and desktop use.

I maintain a resource page for the Raspberry Pi computer. [View] It is the system on a chip (SOC) used for a DIY assembled home computer. A few years ago, the Pi computer could be purchased for about $35, making it one of the least expensive computers in the world. With advances in the features, and now being in high demand globally, the cost is up to about $200 just for the circuit board. A display, keyboard, mouse, and USB-C power adapter would also be needed.

The latest entry-level 10.2-inch iPad is about $330 [Learn More] and only needs a Bluetooth keyboard for about $40. [View All | View My Favorite] If you don’t mind using the iPad’s on-screen touch keyboard, then you can skip the cost of buying an external one. The basic $330 iPad can handle the tasks that most people need to accomplish — word processing, email, watching videos, reading books, reading news, printing, and more.

In addition to being relatively inexpensive to purchase, and inexpensive to maintain (fewer bills for tech support), the iPad is a low power device that works well during power outages from its built-in battery or a large reserve power pack. [View Examples]

I’m exploring these low-tech devices so I can give people the best advice on simple low-cost tech choices.

TECH WORK

My tech support workload continues to be quite busy, but I’m happy to report that today I was able to take a day off. I had some computers dropped off yesterday, which I would normally dive right into working on, but the people weren’t in a hurry for them, so I’ll start on that work tomorrow.

WEB WORK

My web projects for clients continue at a steady pace. I’ve put my own personal web interests on hold for now to make room in my schedule for helping others with their websites.

Because websites take ongoing upkeep, and regular development, I’ve been scheduling time daily in the morning for web work. The quiet focused morning hours are good for the detailed work that requires uninterrupted attention.

Groundhog Day

The movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray depicts what might happen if a person lived the same day over and over. The pandemic that started two years ago has resulted in many people permanently living and working from home. Having the same daily routine for work, meals, exercise, and regular tasks, reduces the variability of life. We have opportunities to see patterns and routines that can be improved.

Everything in life seems more efficient and effective. There’s less time wasted on driving and errands with more time for work, exercise, and sleep. Something I’m trying to do with the additional time is to have deeper connections with fewer people, rather than superficial connections with many people.

SUBSCRIBE

You can subscribe to be notified of these monthly newsletters [Subscribe] or scroll to the bottom of this page and enter your email address where indicated to be notified of every post to this 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 22 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith/philosophy), 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 202202 | 28 Feb 2022

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. The photo featured above was taken on 9 Feb 2022 and shows the circuitboard from a 1991 Apple Macintosh Classic computer that I’ve been working with recently. You can see the individual transistors, capacitors, resistors, and other components. Today’s lowest priced entry-level Apple computers use an M1 chip with 16 billion transistors and the ability to complete 11 trillion operations per second. [More]

Tech Work

Since my last newsletter at the start of January, I’ve worked about 60 days straight of mostly 12 to 14 hour days. That’s why this newsletter is 28 days late. The reason for this extra work is because there has been a flood of tech support requests.

These aren’t the typical requests such as, “Hey, sometime I’d like you to show me how to make my mouse pointer larger and easier to see.” By now, most people find answers to those kinds of questions with a Google search.

The needs are complicated and time consuming. The computer circuitboard pictured above is from a refurbished and restored working Macintosh Classic computer that I purchased on eBay for a project I’m working on. I’m trying to assemble multiple computers that span 30 years for the purpose of getting some data from a very old computer, in approximately 10-year jumps, copying the data to successively newer computers and drives, eventually to a modern computer. Once setup, this process should work for a variety of applications.

Most of the support requests I am getting require a somewhat immediate response, and the solution is very time consuming. I’ve had multiple urgent requests related to critical computers that have crashed, some that multiple people rely on.

Supply chain problems and the aftermath of a depleted workforce from the pandemic makes it harder to solve problems when support staff and resources are limited.

Incidents of fraud and scams are on the rise, so I’m helping people protect the safety and privacy of their digital lives in all the ways I can — before trouble strikes.

I’m hopeful in March I can get a chance to get caught up on some of the basic administrative tasks and paperwork I need to do.

TECH ADVISORY — SIMPLIFY IN 2022

In November, I issued a tech advisory, encouraging people to simplify their use of technology for the coming year. [Read]

I shared some additional tech-related news in December that you’ll want to read if you’ve not done so already. [Read]

It’s clear that the need for simpler tech will increase in the months ahead as systems are failing and support resources are in limited supply.

SUBSCRIBE

You can subscribe to be notified of these monthly newsletters [Subscribe] or scroll to the bottom of this page and enter your email address where indicated to be notified of every post to this 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 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 202201 | 1 Jan 2022 | Saturday

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. The photo featured above is from a December 11 visit to Willow & Stock on Linn Street near Market Street in Iowa City. There are quite a few nice shops and restaurants in that area which makes it a nice place to visit.

New work Practices

In 2021, my tech consulting involved more requests for remote support as pandemic-era practices have not only continued but increased. Every day, I receive tech questions by phone, text message, and email which are replacing longer sit-down tech sessions. Often a quick screen-sharing session can solve problems.

In the past my work would involve sit-down visits for an hour or two, and then I would receive a payment for my work. But now support is more impromptu and projects can be spread over weeks or months.

My billing process has adapted to this new work environment. Invoices now include emails, text messages, phone logs, and typed notes from work done. It can take several hours to assemble the fragments of many micro-support sessions spread over a month or more, but I want to make sure I’m not over-billing anyone, or getting underpaid for my time and work.

I create a unified timeline of events for the billing period, which can help provide a picture of what was accomplished. The timeline shows what might begin as a text message exchange, then continues as an email exchange, then results in a phone call, and possibly an in-person meeting, all represented chronologically. This gives me and those I serve a sense of satisfaction, and also provides some reference.

For more involved tech problems, people continue to drop-off computers for me to work on which fits well with the remote support sessions by giving me more work that can be done from home.

TECH ADVISORY — SIMPLIFY IN 2022

In November, I issued a tech advisory, encouraging people to simplify their use of technology for the coming year. [Read]

I shared some additional tech-related news in December that you’ll want to read if you’ve not done so already. [Read]

Subscribe

You can subscribe to be notified of these monthly newsletters [Subscribe] or scroll to the bottom of this page and enter your email address where indicated to be notified of every post to this 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 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 202112 | 31 Dec 2021 | Friday

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. The photo featured above is from a nature walk on 12 Nov 2021. You can subscribe to be notified of these monthly newsletters, or scroll to the bottom of this page and enter your email address where indicated to be notified of every post to this site.

Tech Work

This year I’ve become more focused on my tech work. To keep up with the increasing number of tech support requests, I’ve had to set aside some of my other interests. This has involved pursuing greater simplicity and minimalism. I feel that the best way I can be of help right now is to be as available as possible in my area of expertise for those who need me. I’ve become the new IT department for the many people who find themselves working from home. Retired people and seniors are spending more time online and feeling more dependent on technology.

Quick Answers are Free

The homepage of my IowaCityTech.com website states “Quick Answers are Free” and “No Charge for Local Advice.” I typically receive several calls a day from people new to Iowa City. Often the tech questions people have can be answered quickly, and simple problems can be solved in a short phone call. Those unfamiliar with what’s available locally can get directed to the proper provider of in-warranty repairs or service. When callers are faculty, staff, or students at the University of Iowa, I am often able to provide them with some suggestions to point them in the right direction for on-campus services.

Tech Writing

On my tech services website, I’ve written many support articles and those articles are organized by topic on the Resources page. These articles are often written in response to common questions and support requests. This saves time, and allows me to offer answers free of charge.

Public Classes

I’ve create a reference directory of local public tech classes offered libraries and others in our area. [View] Many of these public courses are free or low cost. Directing people toward learning opportunities for greater digital literacy allows me to focus on the individualized and personalized support needs.

Tech Advisory — Simplify in 2022

In November, I issued a tech advisory, encouraging people to simplify their use of technology for the coming year. [Read]

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 202111 | 1 Nov 2021 | Monday

Greetings!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. The photo featured above is from a nature walk at Kent Park on 30 Oct 2021. You can subscribe to be notified of these monthly newsletters, or scroll to the bottom of this page and enter your email address where indicated to be notified of every post to this site.

Tech and Web Focus

My work lately has been focused on tech services and website development. The new sites I am using are IowaCityTech.com and IowaCityWeb.com for this work.

Best Apple Rumors

I’m amused by the ongoing industry speculation about Apple products. Some people are making a full-time job out of predicting what new products will be announced and what features will be added to existing products.

This is sometimes the effort of fans trying to influence the company’s product development, or request features they would like to see. Sometimes Apple supporters will point out very glaring and obvious design flaws that the company seems to have overlooked.

Among the existing conspiracy theories is the belief that Apple removes certain desirable features so people will pay to have those features in later models a few years down the road. Another belief is that Apple adds frustrating design flaws, and takes years to fix them, so that people will be motivated to buy new devices when those design flaws are corrected. Or, perhaps the company just doesn’t have a good design team and lacks product testers.

Some ‘influencers’ have asked for new features (or old features to be brought back) and Apple seemingly has listened to them. Each individual YouTuber will announced, “Well, Apple finally took my advice.” Maybe the views of one or more vloggers can influence the direction of a company. It’s hard to know. I think sometimes the influencers like to imagine that they have more influence than they really do.

Yesterday, I launched a website called BestAppleRumors.com which promises to predict what the next Apple rumors will be. It usually takes weeks to begin seeing 1 or 2 visits a day to a new website. This new site in less than 24 hours has already had many visits from Australia, Belgium, China, Germany, Italy, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States. I’m curious to see how interest in the site continues to grow.

What inspired the launch of the site is the Apple Polishing Cloth, which sold out immediately and now has a three month backorder status. New (and used) versions of the $19 retail cloth are selling on eBay for $50 to $60 or more. The absurdity of the cloth, and outrageous pricing, and global demand for the cloth warranted the launch of a site, and my speculation that soon there will be rumors of a Pro version of the cloth as well as Mini and Pro Max versions (similar to the iPhone offerings). We’ll see if my rumor prediction proves to be accurate. [Read Article]

LOCAL FOOD AND POLLINATORS (Part 2)

Last month I shared about how the bulk of my food consumption is a drink made of locally roasted coffee, local milk, and local honey. I’m continuing with that eating plan. In addition to this locally-sourced beverage, I eat salad, fresh cherry tomatoes, nuts, grains, seeds, and berries. Having my energy and diet be mostly from the home-made coffee beverage, continues to eliminate landfill waste, save money, and reduce trips to the grocery store. I like knowing that my food choices are helping the local economy and ecosystem.

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 202110 | 1 Oct 2021 | Friday 

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. The photo featured above is from a nature walk at Kent Park on 25 Sep 2021. You can subscribe to be notified of these monthly newsletters, or scroll to the bottom of this page and enter your email address to be notified of every post to this site.

Local Food and Pollinators

I’ve been recently trying to create better environmental impact outcomes with my food choices. In recent years I started buying local milk from a dairy business in Kalona, Iowa. This past month I decided to get milk from a different source — a dairy that provides milk in glass containers that can get sanitized and reused.

People who go on diets will typically begin thinking more about what motivates their food choices and eating habits. When I’ve reflected on such things, I’ve identified that I generally eat to have energy for my work. Carbs had been my go-to food to keep going.

I’ve recently started drinking coffee and find the energy gained from the coffee is a great substitute for food. Whether I eat a big meal of spaghetti and garlic bread, or have a delicious cup of coffee, the energy I gain is about the same. Although with coffee, there’s less bulk in my stomach so I’m not slowed down by the digestion process. So, afternoon naps are no longer an issue.

I’ve realized that I don’t crave any particular food. What I crave is having the energy and clarify of mind that can help me get my work done.

I still eat salads and get nutrition from some essential foods, but the quantity of food is reduced considerably, and the few foods I do eat are selected specifically for their nutritive value.

What’s really amazing to me is the reduction in trash and recycling. I don’t know the specific numbers, but it seems like I’m eating about 70% less ‘food’ and have 70% less trash and containers to deal with. It’s really a surprising and unexpected outcome.

For my coffee, I use fresh locally roasted beans purchased just days after roasting. These get stored in air-tight containers. I grind just the amount I need for a cup of coffee when making it fresh. So, it’s a potent delicious cup of coffee.

The recipe I use for the coffee includes the local milk mentioned above, and raw honey from local farmers. So, now, the coffee I drink, which provides most of my daily energy, is made from mostly local organic ingredients.

The raw honey from local farmers helps support our pollinators and nourish the local ecosystem and environment.

With this new diet, I’m losing weight and reducing my landfill contribution. Rather than recycling so many materials, and looking for ways to buy in bulk with reusable containers, I’ve made a significant overall reduction in my consumption. It’s very satisfying.

The other unexpected and unanticipated benefit has been the savings of many hundreds of dollars every month on groceries. The energy density of coffee and honey with milk is very high. The ratio of energy per dollar is very high, and the amount of space required is very low. There are fewer trips to the grocery store. Fewer trips to the gas station. Less time spent eating. It’s a super efficient system.

Reducing Energy Consumption

Last year, an inland hurricane resulted in wide-spread damage and over 300,000 people were without power. Many people had no power for many days. This motivated me to explore ways to consume less electricity, to extend the usefulness of battery power systems.

Today I posted an article about the subject sharing some of my findings: “Low Power Computing During Power Outages” [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]