Tag Archives: computers

A Writer’s Nightmare: Losing Data

Last Saturday, when the weather outside was frightful due to the never-ending winter of 2019, I was overjoyed at the prospect of staying in for the morning and completing a few blog posts.

After two amazing hours where ideas flowed like a river, I stepped away from my desk to take care of a few things around the house.
When I returned to my desk, something strange had happened. The flash drive I was using just an hour prior, wasn’t being read by my computer. I tried inserting the flash drive into a different USB port. “Not recognized.” I tried another port. “Not recognized.” O-o-o-oh darn!

I tried inserting the flash drive into my laptop and still “Not recognized”. I checked my stash of flash drives for another one that was purchased in the same batch. Fortunately, the computer could read that one. I concluded that it was not a problem with that batch of keys, just the one I used for the blog.

I then took to YouTube to find videos on how to try to get the flash drive working again, or at a minimum, to try to recover the data on it and store it elsewhere. After an hour and three different technical recipes, the flash drive was still not recognized by my PC.

Moderately defeated, I said to myself that I should not be surprised. I have been using this particular flash drive every week for almost 6 years. If that’s the life expectancy of a flash drive, it’s a lesson learned for me. Continue reading

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My Love/Hate Relationship with Software Updates

As a blogger and as a writer, a well-functioning computer is absolutely essential to ensure the smooth flow of ideas from the brain to the device.
But to get to that point, do the software updates have to be so long, painful and intrusive?

Whether at home or at the office, it seems that computers have a mind of their own when it comes to updates. Even though I have Windows Update on a strict schedule to seek, download and process updates in the middle of the night (an option for which I am so-o-o-o grateful), it’s the other software applications that need to take a lesson if they don’t want to be deleted from my life.

How many times do I have a glimmer of creative brilliance, only for my keyboard to stop responding in the middle of it, as a dialogue box pops up telling me to save all my work for an urgent update that will download in 5 minutes? Of course, as Murphy’s Law has it, updates like this happen most in the middle of corporate emergencies with tight deadlines. Stupid machine!

On another occasion, I showed up for work knowing I had a meeting 5 minutes after my arrival. I just needed to see where the meeting was being held and I would be on my merry way. But no! My computer wouldn’t allow me to check my calendar as it needed to make an update as soon as I got in. Why couldn’t it do it just before I arrived, when it was on but idle? Stupid machine! Since then, before leaving the office, I review my calendar for the next day in case of early meetings… just in case! Continue reading

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Could Robots Replace Writers?

Not too long ago, I was listening to an interesting report on the evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) and the types of jobs that could be replaced by robots. Of course, the occasionally insecure writer in me wondered, could robots replace writers and screw up my retirement plan?

While I am certainly not an expert in the field, nor should this blog post be interpreted as an expert opinion, the Pollyanna in me says if it could happen, we are probably some time away from that.

To me, a good story really boils down to three things: the reader, the writer and the story itself.

For a story to be successful, it needs to engage the reader and resonate on a human level. It needs to connect with readers on an intellectual and on an emotional level. The story needs to stir up feelings in the reader to keep them coming back for more.

To achieve that, the writer needs to tap into their imagination, their emotions, their experience, or all three. Plus, with each writer’s unique point of view in the way that they craft a story, additional layers of interest are created and the writer’s sense of style is stamped on the story, much like a fingerprint.

A good story could be a testimonial of human experience that discusses the strong emotions felt along the way such as the struggle, the pain and the joy. A good story can take us to a world we could only imagine. Good stories can also scare the crap out of us, play with our minds, or inspire us.

To do all of the above requires heart and passion. Continue reading

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Great Ideas: A Roller Coaster of Emotion

roller-coasterThe joy of coming up with a great idea!
The panic of not having a piece of paper or an electronic device to record it.
The fear of losing the great idea.
The hope you’ll remember it.
The sadness when you don’t remember it.
The elation when it comes back.
The delight of being at a computer this time to record it.
The irritation of having to wait for software updates to finish installing.
The annoyance of not finding a pen to record it until the software update installation has completed.
The terror when other things start distracting you.
The relief when the updates are completed.
The peace of mind of finally writing the idea down somewhere… anywhere.
The indecision of whether the idea is good enough as is.
The determination to work through it to make it the best idea ever. Continue reading

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Technology 3, Andre 0

Window ControlsNot that long ago, I used to be that guy that people went to when they needed help with their computers, printers, cell phones and FAX machines.

Hmm… if FAX machines are in the equation, maybe it was two decades ago, but in the grand scheme of things it feels like it was just yesterday.

Back in those days, it was a delight to be able to play with the faulty object in question, push a few buttons, pretend that I knew that I was doing, and before you could say “control-alt-delete”, I seemed able to fix things without even breaking a sweat, to the delight of family, friends and co-workers.

Even though I never really had any formal training, I seemed to have a knack for fixing small appliances too without setting fire to anything or ending up with a handful of leftover parts after reassembling. I don’t know where it came from, but I am certainly grateful.

Sadly, the only thing I wasn’t able to figure out and explain to my Grandmother was my Granddad’s universal remote after he passed away. That one remains a mystery to this day.

But over time, something happened. As technology evolved and became smarter (with fewer moving and serviceable parts) it seems my superpower in fixing appliances suddenly needed fixing itself.

And then you have weeks like this one, where I waved the white flag in defeat as technology in its infinite simplicity beat me into submission. Continue reading

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Top 10 Reasons Why Blogging Is Easier Today

NotQuiteHieroglyphics

I was recently thinking to myself how fortunate we bloggers are today. At what other point in history did we ever have it this easy when it came to sharing our creative thoughts, feelings and ideas?

Technology has made it so easy to write and to share our works with a huge audience, with just the click of a few keys. Of course, there is a whole technological backbone behind the scenes to make that happen, but the mere fact that writers can access that backbone with just a computer and a connection is a marvel in itself.

So if you take away the computer, the connection and the technological backbone behind it, blogging as we know it today would have been next to impossible.

Here are my top 10 reasons why:

10-Sending blogs in Morse code would have taken way too long

9- Attracting a worldwide audience would have meant sending blog posts out by ship

8- The lengthy translation to Latin would have made it difficult to carpe diem

7- What would a “search engine” have been like before the industrial revolution?

6- Constantly carrying parchment scrolls and inkwells to jot down random ideas would get pretty messy

5- Editing meant rewriting from the very beginning, again and again and again

4- Getting birds to tweet blogs would have required considerable patience and training

III- Top X lists would have been in roman numerals

2- After 134 blog posts, I would have run out of surfaces for hieroglyphics

1- Stone tablets were way too heavy

Did you enjoy this post? If you did, please know that there are plenty more where that came from! If you haven’t already, you can check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.net. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox.
Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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25 Ways to Jinx Things

On a recent drive to work, I marvelled at how traffic seemed unusually better. It was mid-week, there should have been more traffic, there was a light snow falling, the roads were a little greasy, there could have been accidents, but I was making it to work in record time. I was one exit away from my destination when I dared to say out loud “Wow, I made it in good time!”

BIG MISTAKE!… HUGE!

As soon as I turned the corner after that big overpass, there were line-ups galore. There was indeed an accident ahead, backing up traffic in all lanes. You would think I would have known better.

It just seems that I have a talent for making joyful upbeat comments like that and then for something to come along and prove me wrong… within seconds.

I think it’s a talent, my partner thinks otherwise. Funny enough, he knows exactly when I am about to say one of those, as I don’t even have to open my mouth and he will interject with a smile, “Don’t say it!”, pre-empting my overly positive observation. But he is absolutely right.

Similarly, have you ever noticed how a fresh litter box will usually get a cat’s bladder or bowels (or both) moving within minutes? Or how a clean kitchen floor becomes an instant food magnet? These are the types of situations I am referring to.

I am not suggesting that the litter box or kitchen should not be cleaned. Quite the contrary, keep those spotless, but don’t forget to laugh when your bright and sunny achievement is suddenly obscured by big dark clouds. It is just proof that life itself comes with sense of humour too.

I hear I am not alone. Do you recognize any of these sayings which usually lead to less than ideal results?

1-“It’s late February and I still haven’t caught a cold this season”.
2-“That wasn’t so hard” (before the task has been fully completed).
3-“I haven’t had a speeding/parking ticket in x years”.
4-“I haven’t had an accident in x years.
5-“Hey, it’s been weeks since (insert name of pet) has jumped on a counter”.
6-“That has never happened to me!”
7-“We made good time (before arriving).”
8-“Oh good, the line/queue is finally moving.” Continue reading

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