New Big Project

For quite a long time, I have wanted to write a book and try to sell it. For a multitude of reasons, I haven't. As of yesterday, no more! I signed up for 30x500 to get started. I'm hoping to find out ways to determine if my idea will actually help people, thus making it worth doing. Am I sure about this? Absolutely not. Who do I think I am to write a book? I'm not an expert at anything. It will probably be the worst book ever and will sell zero copies. However, I've decided that this is something I want to try. I've decided that being afraid of failure is worse than failure itself. I want to give it a try. And the 30x500 class is a way to help me hedge my bets. It cost me $1900 and my goal is to make that back within the next three years. (Official date: March 8, 2020) Doable? I have no idea. But I'm going to put in the work on it. I've deleted everyone I follow on Twitter, except people that I know personally. So I shouldn't be wasting any time there. I've also deleted all the bookmarks for blogs I like to read and youtube videos I like to watch. Again to not waste time. Lastly, I've created a new account on my laptop to use for studying and writing. So all of the programs and things that I have on my laptop aren't available to this second account and thus I can't have them open while I'm working. I've created a website for it. http://www.pickabout.com Let's get started!

My Ting Test

Last month, I switched cellphone providers from T-Mobile to Ting. In looking at past reports, I had been paying T-Mobile around $63 per month (including taxes). This didn't seem bad to me, but I thought I could do better. A couple of days ago, I got my first bill from Ting. The total is $39.81 (including taxes). I'm happy with this. The image below shows the breakdown of all the fees.

ting

So I'm saving around $23 per month. If I used the cell phone less, I'd save more. And if I used it more, I'd save less. This is actually one of the things I like about Ting. You pay for what you use. So you can conserve to save money. However, I had looked at around six months of bills to find out my usage. And I was pretty consistent. I'm guessing that on most months, I'll still be on the M plan, which will keep my costs pretty consistent.

Note however, the two services are not providing the exact same services. I have an iphone and one big difference is that T-Mobile had visual voicemail, where you could see who the voicemail was from without having to dial in. Ting does not have that. When you click on the voicemail button, it calls the service and you enter your pin to hear the voicemail. Visual voicemail is a nice feature, but I really don't miss it. First of all, I wouldn't have even noticed this except that I got one call that left a voicemail. Since I so rarely get voicemail, it seems silly to pay $20/month extra for that feature. The other thing I noticed and this is just because I happened to go to Canada during the month, is that I get no service in Canada. When I had T-Mobile and went to Canada, it automatically switched over to Rogers service and didn't cost me anything extra to use it. This was really handy and I definitely missed having cell service on this trip. But, how often do I go to Canada? Based on my last two years, it's been about once a year for approximately three days. Again, should I pay for something monthly that I'm going to use so infrequently? A better idea might be to get a T-mobile chip for a month and take that with me when I go to Canada. If I go again next year, perhaps I'll look into that.

Anyway, based on this month, those were the only two things that I noticed were different. Perhaps other things might come up in the future, but so far things are working as expected. I'm considering switching to Ting a complete success. Complete disclosure: I had already had an unlocked iphone that I was using on T-Mobile, so all I had to buy to switch to Ting was a new sim card that cost me $13. If you don't have an unlocked phone, you may have to buy one and that could cost you a few hundred dollars. Though you can buy refurbished ones directly from Ting.

If you'd like to switch to Ting, I'd recommend it. And if you'd sign up using this link, I'd appreciate it even more.

The Magic of Thinking Big

The title of this blog post is the name of a book that I just finished reading. It was recommended by a blog I read, though I no longer remember which one. It's a basic self-help book by David Schwartz about believing in yourself. However, it's clearly written for people in business and especially for salespeople. Note how I said salespeople there. One of the first things I noticed in the book was how it was pretty much geared toward men. In reading the first few chapters, I noticed that women were only talked about as wives for business men. This made me look at the publication date and unsurprisingly, it was 1959. I decided to continue to read and just made a mental note remember that date when I found little things that bugged me.

The good news is that I already do many of the things that the book recommends. I'm a big planner and I do think I look at myself critically and try to improve. I know I only have one life, so I try to make it the best I can. One of the points the author makes though is about luck. He doesn't think luck has anything to do with success and I think it has a lot to do with it. Granted, I have to remind myself he wrote it in 1959. At that time I guess that heads of businesses were more concerned with regular employees and their progression than people are now. And how hard-working employees would be suitably rewarded and promoted. I almost laughed out loud when I read his line about how companies all have 10-year plans. I'm thinking that a lot of business people now are more concerned about the share price in the next quarter, much less the next year.

Would this be a book that I recommend to people now? Probably not. There are definitely better books to read about living a good life, which think is more important than thinking big. I'd probably recommend "A Guide to the Good Life" by William Irvine and "Turn the Ship Around!" by L. David Marquet. These cover the same information as "The Magic of Thinking Big", but in a way more relevant to life today.

New DNS Registrar

I finally had my fill of all the crap of Godaddy. Actually, that's not quite true. That was a push, but the thing that really got me to switch is just the terrible website that one has to use to do anything with Godaddy. I found a new registrar Badger.com and decided on a whim to switch to them. I got one free credit (so I could transfer one domain for free) from Hacker News and I ended up buying two more for $8 each. I then started the process and was amazed to find that I had my three domains transferred in about 10 mintues. And they added an extra year to my domains. Their website is nice and clean. It's easy to find stuff and they don't try to sell me more crap each time I login. I can't believe I waited this long to switch, but right now, I'm glad I did.

Odd Jobs

I am one of those people who considers herself completely replaceable. So, at work, I tend to try to continually make myself useful, so that even if I'm not needed to do what I was originally hired for, I can do something else that is required. I don't think that I'm an expert at anything, but I like to learn enough so that I can solve problems that come up. Basically, I consider myself a generalist.

One drawback of this viewpoint, is that, well, I'm completely replaceable. What will I do, if it turns out that I'm no longer needed? Or, more likely, if the funds just aren't there for me to keep my job? I suppose that I could send out a resume and find another job, but that's not very exciting anymore. I think that I'd like to try to start my own business. So, because of that line of thinking, I sort of have. Not officially, yet, but I have been doing odd computer jobs for people on the side.

So far, I've only done a few, but I've really enjoyed them. I like to see how small businesses work. And, the one thing that I really like about computer work, is that it's usually involved in all aspects of a business. So, I tend to learn all about a business, which is really interesting.

Anyway, I am feeling somewhat comfortable in my real job, which is the one that pays the bills and gives me health insurance. But, I'm not going to turn down any side job. If something does happen with the real job, I'm hoping that these odd jobs will set me up for a business that I could move into.

Here's to the future!

Things that Drive Me Nuts (or Why I’d Rather Build My Own Computers)

I recently purchased two Dell Optiplex 380s. Dual core pentiums with 3gb of ram and windows 7 professional for $434 each. I was quite busy and needed to get them quickly for my Mom's office. Normally, I prefer to build my own systems because I know exactly what I'm getting. But the Dells were the right price and easy to order. After I ordered the Dells, I also ordered four Western Digital enterprise drives (WD5003ABYX) to use for a mirrored raid in each system. I did check that the optiplex systems had space for two more internal drives. I also knew that I'd be buying a separate raid card to put in the systems. I didn't order that ahead of time because I wasn't exactly sure what slots would be present/available in the system.

Yesterday, I finally got to my Mom's house to assemble things. I bought some cheap pcie raid cards the day before when I looked over the systems. And I saw there were two extra power plugs for my raid drives, so I thought I was all set. It was only when I started to install the drives that I saw that I could only install the second drive in the proper place if I used a screwless drive tray. Did Dell provide me with this tray? Did they mention anywhere in the ordering process that I might need it? Do they tell me know where I could get one easily? No, to all. So, now, I'm either going to just let the drive lay in the bottom of the chassis, or have to go on ebay or someplace to try and track down two of these things.

I'm not blaming Dell for this. They sold me an inexpensive system, which is what I wanted. I'm more angry at myself for falling for this again. It seems like every time I buy a prebuilt system, I run into these little issues that drive me nuts. When I build my own system, I always use cases from Antec, which usually come with everything I need. Does building my own system cost more? Yep, usually it does. I have to buy a legit copy of windows, which adds $130 to the cost. For this Dell, if they paid what I have to pay for windows (which I'm sure they don't), it would mean that the cost of all the hardware was only $434 - $130 = $304. There's no way I could build a system (that I'd be happy with) for less than that.

So, now attempting to come up with a hack for sticking this drive in the computer. I could break down and buy the tray on ebay, but that's not fun. What would be fun would be to scan the tray I have and then use a 3d printing system to make myself another one! Unfortunately, I don't have a 3d printer or scanner. So I'll have to come up with something more mundane. Hopefully, it'll be fun.