Friday vibes

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It’s Friday.

It’s sunny.

It’s been a long week.

Friday vibes got me wishing I was anyplace other than working…well, I guess anyplace is maybe a tad of an overstatement. So, how about someplace I’d rather be…

Can I get an amen on that?

Who has the power to give me permission to just bail on work and get the weekend started? Anyone? Anyone?

Time is moving so slowly…and watching that clock doesn’t make it go any faster….

Sprung

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Sorry for being (mostly) MIA this week.

A major project and presentation was sprung on me two days ago and I had/have less than nine days to get ready for it. Oh, and that also means I have to prep for it and plan it while still doing the rest of my job.

Sure, I have a team to help with it some, but in order to have them help I have to have interim meetings along the way…which means planning for those meetings…

Thankful for a job, but hating it these days.

Registered?

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Lots of companies want you to register the product you purchased. Probably so they can track you or something, but hopefully it is because they want to provide you with excellent customer support when the product breaks or malfunctions or something.

Why then, if they want you to do this, does it have to be so difficult?

I went to the Ryobi website to register a product and to make sure the warranty was going to be there if needed. I signed into my account and the very first thing I noticed was that EVERY page I went to the “live chat” box popped up, even after closing it. Annoying…

When I finally got to the product registration page and inputted the model number, the correct product doesn’t come up. WTH? I searched through everything that was suggested and they were the right type of tool, but not even close to the correct model.

So, I had to use the “live chat” after all…only to have to agree to have them send me an email so they could get all the pertinent product details and then they would register the product for me and confirm via email that it was done.

I am still waiting for that email.

Again, this is a large tool company. It’s their website.

Think it should work correctly? Think it is good customer service to have the customer go to your website and then they can’t do the thing they were directed to do on the website in the first place?

Not even remotely.

I hope I get a satisfaction survey…

Sirius-ly annoying

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Does it astound you how companies or corporations or whatever you wanna call them when they assume the customer is stupid? Does it astound you that they don’t realize in today’s world that there are other options that you, as the customer, have when it comes to entertainment? It frustrates me. Gets me all pissy, and stuff. Guess I am in the right place…

So, the subscription to SiriusXM is up in my car. Well, in another month, but basically I have gotten the renewal notice already. Knowing there is a “game” to play with these companies I called and went through the stupid hassle again. The whole point here is that as the customer we shouldn’t have to play the game in order to get the best deal. Sirius-ly.

When I got the car I had and used the free trial. When the trial was up I cancelled the service. I wasn’t going to pay $20+ a month for radio in my car when I can literally get it for free or use whatever streaming service I have on my phone. Sure, there are lots of choices available via the service but they a pretty much the same as the apps I can get on my phone and they are actually better than listening to the regular radio because there are no (or rarely) commercials. So there is some give and take when it comes to features.

After about eight months and multiple offers at different pricing tiers, SiriusXM finally hit one I couldn’t pass up. It was better than some of the streaming services on the phone, Amazon, and Apple. So, for just over $6 a month I felt it was worth it. After a year at that price, and a pandemic going on, they offered another year of the service at the same price. Of course I accepted it have enjoyed it more since used it nearly every day while working from home.

Now, two years later, its that time to renew again.

I did the messaging online and long story short, they didn’t offer me the same deal to start with. They instead offered just six months and then back to their “regular” price.

Uh, I just said if I wasn’t going to get the same price I was going to cancel. Did you not believe me?

So I told them to cancel it.

Oh, wait, suddenly now the same price is available again…weird…

No, not really. They just like to yank people’s chains hoping you’re stupid enough to pay any attention to the deal you’re getting. It’s irritating. Sirius-ly.

Anyway, I renewed at the same price I have gotten for the last two years. Do you supposed since I have had the price for three years that it should now be the “regular” price?

Probably not. And I’ll have to cancel again next year.

Or not.

Sick days

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What are your feelings on Sick Days? Have you or do you currently work in a position that offers you Sick Days? If you had access to Sick Days, did you use them? Maybe a better question is how did you use them?

Kind of loaded questions, probably. Here’s another…does they way you use your Sick Days say anything about you, like as a person?

As most of you understand, a paid Sick Day is for those times when you (or someone in your family) are physically ill and it wouldn’t be a good idea to go to work (or you need to care for someone), or if you (or someone in your family) have medical appointments you need to attend. In general, these are the only acceptable uses of your Sick Day(s).

With that being the general understanding of how a Sick Day is supposed to be used, where do you stand when people use a Sick day for something other than those two reasons?

Examples of other uses:

A co-worker takes a Sick Day because they want to take an extra day on either end of a holiday or vacation.

A co-worker uses a Sick Day to go shopping, or to take a beach/lake/whatever day – basically like a vacation day.

You take a Sick Day as a “mental health” day.

You aren’t sick, but just don’t feel like dealing with your co-workers today so you use a Sick Day.

A co-worker is avoiding doing part of their job so they take a Sick Day.

Obviously, there are lots of scenarios where someone could use a Sick Day for something other than being sick.

So, how do you feel about it? Is anything acceptable now?

I have some 100 days of Sick Leave accrued from the last 19+ years (15 year of teaching and 4+ in my current position).

I very rarely used my Sick Days when I was a teacher because it was just easier to go to school than it was to get a sub (all teachers feel this way), and I almost never use more than half of my allotted Sick Days in my current position. So, I have a large bank of days to draw from should I need them.

I guess this all comes from the fact that some of my co-workers have used all their Sick Days up (because they didn’t use them for their intended use) and then something happens and they need to ask for people to voluntarily gift them Sick Days. I know people who regularly (and often) take Sick Days to just do whatever they want because they can and no one questions them about it.

What do you think?

Do you think poorly of the people who use the benefit in such a way, or do you think it is OK to take an occasional “mental health” day?

Drop your thoughts, or experiences, in the comments. Really curious what you all think!

Virtual over the shoulder

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In my line of work, I do a lot of “virtual over the shoulder” looking at a client’s computer. It’s the best way to help them troubleshoot issues they have in the software and we can help them (sometimes “holding their hand”) as work through processes to get the data they need. This is, of course, with their permission.

The matter is entirely different when you haven’t explicitly authorized a computer/mobile operating system, app, or browser, to look over your shoulder virtually while you use a device. Instead they collect more and more data about what you do and where you go, all in the name of providing information and data to people who want to sell you things (or have other motivations).

I am getting more and more wary of the intrusiveness that we have allowed, mostly without a fight. We just accept it.

So, I have started looking at alternative browsers that provide more of the privacy that we should want, but moreover expect. I have used Chrome for years and years, both personally and at work. However, as more information comes to light about business practices and intrusiveness (even the “incognito” mode tracks you) it becomes harder and harder to accept.

Transitioning to something different is difficult because you inevitably are going to be asked to sacrifice something in the trade-off. Weighing all those factors becomes somewhat of a challenge since there are benefits with the varying products that are out there. The nagging question is always, “What’s the best way to go from here? Am I making the right choice?” It’s a question I haven’t been able to settle as I look at the different options.

So, what say you?

Are you on a similar journey and what are you finding? Have you taken steps to move browsers and what did you consider as you did so?

Tell me what you are considering, or considered if you have already made the move.

When it don’t

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Yesterday. Yesterday was a challenge. Well, not the whole day, but a part of the day that mattered more than the rest, if that makes sense.

Like most people who are working from home these days, Zoom or Teams or whatever video conferencing platform you use is kind of an essential part of your job. Meeting with clients, meeting with your supervisors/teammates/co-workers, or meeting with potential clients is something that typically needs to be done several times throughout the day.

Yesterday, I was co-hosting a meeting (a training) with clients and the challenges of the day started shortly after the meeting began.

First, the video started to freeze and the sound was choppy. Then the internet just dropped altogether.

Gone. Kicked outta the meeting.

I frantically tried to reconnect, and within a minute or two I am back in the meeting. Apologies to my co-worker and clients.

15 minutes later I am dropped again.

This time, after waiting for over 5 minutes to get a signal back, I find there just is no internet at all. Damn. Wait several minutes, still no internet. Wait several more minutes, look to see if there is internet by staring at the router. It says there is WiFi, but of course that just means it is broadcasting not that there is data being transferred.

I tell my phone to stop using WiFi and then log into the Xfinity app. Sure enough, internet is down for maintenance in the area. Affected customers is between 51-500. “Expected restoration of services…” is an hour and a half. Seriously?

How about a little warning? Or, better yet, if this was an unexpected outage, how about a text message with info letting me know this info without me having to become a detective for the internet signal?

Thankfully the outage didn’t last as long as they estimated. The internet came back and I logged back into the meeting after 30 minutes. It appeared that I might get kicked from the meeting again after 20 minutes, but apparently they figured out something and I was able to co-host as expected.

The internet is obviously a necessity these days, especially when it comes to work.

But, when it don’t work, it don’t work. And neither do you.

Good idea?

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Well, I am not sure what to make of it, but the early indications are positive. I decided at the end of December to try something new and dabble in a little something I don’t know much about. I decided to “invest” in digital currency, or cryptocurrency, or virtual currency.

It’s not a large investment because I wanted to see how it works and just kind of dip my toes into it. Because of the high volatility of cryptocurrency, I am a bit leery of the stuff but at the same time kind of intrigued by it. As such, the time and money and opportunity all seemed to come together.

I have money that goes into a PayPal account that just kind of sits there. The long and short of it is that the money is basically “free money” that I get each month from resources that I published online while I was a teacher. I get sales from that each month and the amount varies widely based on the number of items purchased. So, there is a lump of “cash” sitting in the account mostly doing nothing. I could transfer it my regular bank account, but why? I look at it as a blind account for a rainy day.

Anyway, at the end of December I saw that PayPal was going to offer the ability to purchase digital currency. So, I decided to take a small-ish amount of that lump and see what happens. There isn’t a need to have access to that money, really, so it is mostly a long term investment.

I bought some Bitcoin and Ethereum, two of the most popular forms of digital currency. Why these two? Well, from what I can gather they are also the most stable – as far as that goes.

Anyway, I put $90 into Bitcoin and $20 into Ethereum. At that point, I was a very small, fractional, owner of the currency. Exciting right? Not really. When you look at the amount per share it is less than thrilling. One share is worth $55.4k at the moment. So, I own all of 0.00339408 for my $90 investment. Cool, right?

Well, that is the interesting part. For my original investment of $110, I now have a chunk of “cash” that sits at just under $242 (at time of publishing). I have more than doubled that little toe dip in just under two months. Is that a good return? I would say so, but at the same time it could go right back down to where I started in a heartbeat so I am not getting real excited.

BUT, I can certainly see why there are lots of people so enticed by this idea. Buy in, watch it go up, sell at a higher price. If you’re talking in BIG dollar amounts, this would make total sense. In fact, Elon Musk (he’s kinda bright, right?) just sunk $1.5 billion into Bitcoin from his Tesla company at the beginning of the month. He was looking to create more capital by leveraging Bitcoin. Seems it worked since the price has shot up since he invested.

I am not making or giving any financial advice, by any means. However, I am curious if there are any others out there that have ventured into these relatively unknown waters and what their experience has been.

Hit me up in the comments and let me know what you think. Good idea? Bad idea? Had good or bad success yourself?

Ad-versary

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Facebook, you are doing it to yourself. The revolt against you and your policies, oh and your very very underhanded and sneaky use of people’s data, are going to do you in. You still have an audience, but people are growing tired of being suspicious of everything you do in the background and they just want some safety and privacy from your all invasive practices.

No one wants to be bombarded by advertising. No one wants to be tracked everywhere they physically go and no one wants to be tracked where they go digitally either. So, this little deal you got going on here shouldn’t fool too many people…except that it likely will.

Perhaps Apple is actually trying to protect people and their data. Perhaps they are just making room for their own tracking and advertising. I haven’t a clue. But what I do know, is that I like the way Apple has shown that they are trying to protect people’s data. That goes a long way in trust, something Facebook doesn’t have and likely won’t have (for sure from me).

Facebook is scrambling to adjust over new alerts coming from Apple in the near future that will let people adjust how they get advertising from Facebook by opting out of tracking (or in, depending on how you view this approach). In essence, it will block tracking data so you don’t get “personalized” ads. I am all for that!

Actually, I don’t like ads at all. I’d rather not have my feed filled with ads that some company thinks I might be interested in. I could totally do without. I’d even consider paying a small fee to go ad free. But, at the same time, if I am going to pay a fee to not see ads I would also expect that I am not going to be censored for my views, thoughts, beliefs, etc.

Apple and Facebook have taken an adversarial approach to how they are going to work together and I like it. Big tech and other companies should have to fight over customers and the more people make them work for their dollars the better off we are as consumers. But we as consumers need to be smart about how we give our business to these companies in order to make them compete for it, otherwise we get all-encompassing monopolies who then dominate the marketplace and make up new rules and charge ridiculous fees because they have no one to oppose them.

I like what Apple is doing here. I hope they aren’t just trying to make space for their own scheme. But for now, I am glad to see Facebook about to take it in the nose for their privacy and data collection practices.

They actually deserve it.