Tag Archives: technology

You’ve Got to be Kitten?

I just love this tshirt!

Diana Beebe's Blog, Diana Beebe, science fiction, middle grade Don’t miss a post! Be sure to follow my blog at

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When Time Traveling Can Predict the Future

Diana Beebe's Blog, Diana Beebe, science fiction, middle grade fantasy, fantasyI have a wacky sense about time and time traveling.

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Don’t wallow in monotony. Create your own fun!

A long, long time loop ago, in a repetitive land far, far away…

I taught college freshman writing and basic English grammar classes.¬† I was wrapping up my¬†master’s degree in¬†literature and found a part-time teaching job from a four-line ad in the newspaper classified section.¬† (Actually, I answered¬†four tiny ads despite my husband’s complete doubt that anyone could find a job that way. I got called back¬†on two of them. Ha!)

The next thing I knew, I had a master’s degree and was moved into a full-time teaching position(that’s what I get for swearing I’d never be a teacher with five to six classes a day) at that business college (it wasn’t a university, but it helped pay bills).

Groundhog_Day_(movie_poster)After about three years, the Groundhog Day effect wore off. I couldn’t grow in that job anymore. Believe me, I tried.

What is the Groundhog Day Effect?

The Groundhog Day Effect has two main parts to it: Monotony and Growth. (The part in the middle called Giving Up, doesn’t apply–ever.)

In the movie, Phil finds himself reliving the same day (February 2) over and over again. The same things happen to him everyday–the same routine, the same conversations, the same meals…the same monotony.

He can’t escape this repeating insanity, so he tries to change it.¬† However, he chooses antagonistic behaviors. He insults his co-workers, punches an old acquaintance just for greeting him on the street, lies to people, and eats donuts until he makes himself sick.¬† When these behaviors don’t change his day, he escalates by trying to commit suicide. He gives up. It’s a good thing that didn’t work, because the movie would have had a sad ending.

Now at rock bottom, he tries a different direction. Sure, he starts this new path just as selfish as before, but something starts to change. He relaxes, learns new skills, reads poetry, makes friends with the townspeople, finds ways to be kind to his coworkers.  He discovers growth.

Harnessing the Groundhog Day Effect

When the daily grind starts to look and feel¬†like it did for Phil in the first part of the movie, then it’s time to change things up.¬† If we sit in the same position for a long time, we get sore.¬† We have to get up and stretch.¬† We have to move around.¬† Eat chocolate.

I had already lived the growth part to make¬†my teaching¬†job enjoyable.¬† That is often how it is with a new job–lots of growth.¬† Even when the job was no longer new,¬†I found every chance to learn new skills, overcome fears, make friends, edit a college English grammar text book…

Monotony set in, despite my best efforts.¬†I had to leave or risk punching a student for misusing compound objective pronouns or getting subject-verb agreement wrong in every sentence in her essays. I couldn’t tweak my lesson plans anymore¬†or edit the near-perfect grammar tests or grade another essay that could be written better by a twelve-year-old or be told that a failing student had to pass–again.

I’d reached my limit. There was no room for promotion, salaries were frozen (yet the director enjoyed plastic surgery and many overseas vacations), vacation time was impossible to take (no summers off either),¬†and rumors of unethical practices were rampant. I’d taken on as much responsibility as I could, sponsored a student organization, and added Microsoft Office classes (MS Word was version 2 back then!) to my already long list of courses. During terms when I had all writing classes (no grammar or tech classes), there was so much grading that I might have thought about¬†giving up,¬†but I wasn’t Phil.

It was time to stretch. I started a new career as a technical writer, where 17 years later I’m still finding things to learn.

But what if we find ourselves in a monotony from which there seems to be no escape?

We have to create our own fun–just like Phil did. Even if we have to work within the limits of our environment, we can set goals that allow us to grow and break the monotony. We have to¬†harness the positive¬†Groundhog Day Effect to keep ourselves fresh and happy, even when the environment is stifling. At some point though, we have to decide when it’s time to stretch somewhere else.

How do you harness the positive Groundhog Day Effect? What do you do when faced with daily monotony? How do you stretch to find growth?

Why Take a Sip When You Can Drink from the Hose

Last weekend, I attended one of the most informative writers’ conferences ever. I’ve attended several writing conferences (including technical writing conferences, which have a ton of craft and business training sessions, too).

This conference was affordable, informative, and fun for traditional, independent, and unpublished authors alike. And I got to attend from the comfort of my own pajamas home.

It was the first-ever WANACon!

Wana-Conference-new2

This was the first-ever virtual and global¬†conference with live, informative sessions in a virtual classroom.¬†The instructors used their web cameras so we could see them, and the attendees could ask questions audibly or in a chat box. There were several literary agents (non-fiction and fiction) who took pitches–some requests were made, too (congratulations to those who got requests!).

I’m still reeling a bit from all the information. Otherwise, I might be able to write coherently about¬†it. You’ll just have to trust me on this. ūüôā

Between sessions, we congregated in the WANACon lobby and chatted about the previous session’s awesomeness and passed around virtual victuals. Check out Kristen Lamb’s post about the technology used for the conference.¬†Her blog has posts about and by the instructors.¬†I could never do justice to them all–go check them out for yourself.

The amount of quality information fed to us was a bit like drinking from a firehose, but it was helpful, informative, and inspiring.  Also, most of the sessions were recorded and will be provided to the attendees, so I can repeat the dousing until I understand it all.

WANA Con was so worth the price for TWO solid days (plus some extras before and after). There were no travel costs either.¬† ūüôā¬† I’m still giddy from the quality of the classes and the fantabulous people and the cool virtual classroom. Did I mention the fantabulous people? Well, it’s all worth repeating.

If you don’t know anything about WANA International and you are a writer or illustrator, you should check it out for informative and helpful courses on social media and publishing and craft. I highly recommend checking out the support that WANA Tribe offers, too. The WANA Way is “We Are Not Alone” and Kristen Lamb is the Social Media Jedi who started all this. No one can be successful in a vaccuum. The WANA Way is supportive, not competitive (and non-spamming). It’s about developing relationships and helping each other succeed. I took Kristen’s Blogging for Brand course (which I totally recommend if you need help getting started like I did or if you want to revamp yourself), and I’ve seen the WANA Way in action.

So get ready for the next WANA Con.¬† We won’t have to wait a year for it either!

Do you go to conferences for work or for fun or for both? If so, share your favorite conferences and locations.

You Had Me at “Lighted Keyboard”

One day my husband asked me if I wanted a MacBook. ¬†I hesitated. ¬†I’m a computer girl. ¬† I use three different versions of Windows at work. ¬†I understand how the operating systems work. ¬†He was asking me if I wanted to learn yet another operating system, and I didn’t like it. ¬†His Mac baffled me even more than his iPhone did.

Honey: “You need to upgrade from that tiny netbook.”

Me: “But I like my netbook. ¬†It fits in my purse¬†bottomless pit.”

My netbook with its custom skin.

Honey: “You’ll like the size of the screen better.”

Me: “I don’t use the netbook for that much stuff. ¬†I don’t need bigger.”

Honey: “You’re blogging now.”

Me: “I’ll think about it.”¬† What I was thinking: “I don’t want to think about it.¬† Mac scares me.”

Later that afternoon, I was typing away at our home computer in the study.  It got dark in the room as the sun went down.  I had to turn the light on so I could continue working.

You can stop laughing.

I’d like to think I’m a fairly decent typist, er, keyboarder. ¬†I took typing in high school on a electric typewriter and was good enough to earn the privilege to type on one of the fancy advanced ones that had correction tape.

I’m not saying I was great and error free. Being able to type came in handy in college when I had to write ten page papers. ¬†(I didn’t feel sorry for my friends when they complained about three pages.)

By the time I graduated from grad school, typing class was called keyboarding.¬† Students learned on computers–disabled backspace key, no correction tape. ¬†I still call it typing.

Here’s the thing. ¬†I can type without looking at the keyboard. ¬†I can type with my eyes closed. ¬†I cannot type in the dark.

Seriously, you can stop laughing now.

What is it that makes my fingers completely misbehave when the sun goes down and darkens my home office? ¬†It’s not as if my fingers can see what they are typing.

My husband walked by and said, “The Mac has a lighted keyboard.”

Sold!

He could have lead with that feature.

Since then, I’ve been learning how to navigate my updated MacBook Pro.¬† Switching desktops, deleting files, finding files–it was enough to overwhelm me at first.¬† I told a friend (an avid Mac user) and he welcomed me to the Dark Side.

The double-finger and triple-finger swiping are getting comfortable.¬† So much so that I tried double-finger scrolling on my work laptop this week.¬† Just so you know, it didn’t work, and I was disappointed.¬† How did that happen so fast, my acclimating to the Dark Side that is Apple?

My little netbook with its custom made skin sits quietly in a corner waiting for me to use it. Sorry, it’s not going to happen. It doesn’t have¬†a lighted keyboard.

Now, I can type in the dark. *happy dance*

Are you still laughing?  What kind of computer do you use?

If you’re checking, here are my ROW80 goals for the week:

  • Finish the minutes for the PTA meeting and send them for approval.
  • The back garden beds are ready, so now I need to plant kale, spinach, and carrot seeds.
  • Write as if I’m not a NaNoWriMo rebel this week.¬† ūüėÄ
  • Make chicken soup and venison stew for the week.
  • Get back to 3 or more blogging posts a week.

Do Not Take This Call: Avoid Cyber Scams

Very recently, a very dear grandmotherly friend of mine got a phone call from someone who claimed to be Windows Tech Support.

They weren’t.

They asked her to give them access to her computer to check for viruses with a remote access tool, Team Viewer, that was very easy to install.

She did.

They explored her computer, while she watched, and told her that she had thousands of viruses on her computer.

She didn’t.

They could clean that up for her for a price.  She told them to get lost and hung up on them and closed the window to the remote session.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (click the link for more helpful tips).  How do you protect yourself (or older people who are not tech savvy) from this kind of scam?

  1. The computer companies, including Microsoft, do not like you enough to call you to check your computer for you.  They may love that you bought their software, but they will not call you.  Period.  Hang up.
  2. The sounds of a foreign-based call center and a caller with a very thick English accent on the other end of the line…. Hang up.
  3. The website they direct you to is not an official Microsoft website.¬† The fact that they use the word “windows” in their URL, does not make them Microsoft.¬† Do not download anything from their website.¬† Hang up.
  4. Do not, under any circumstances, give someone you don’t know or trust access to your computer.
  5. Report the call to the FTC.

While I talked to this dear friend, and got her to do a full system scan on her computer, I looked up this type of fraud on the Microsoft website, where they have some helpful tips, including this page of ways to avoid tech support phone scams.

Even people with common sense can get taken off guard by a phone call like this. Don’t be fooled.

And now for my #ROW80 Update:

  • Need¬†to work on the back garden beds to get ready for more planting.
  • Work out and eat better.¬† Food does not define me.
  • Need to plan and research for a weekend of writing solitude.
  • Blogging class and logline class are in full swing.¬† Homework is progressing. ūüôā