Maintenance of My Writing Tool

This month, March has five Thursdays in it so I had to come up with another post. Because my blog is more or less centered around writing, I wanted this one to keep in sync with the motif but not require a follow-up.

Maintenance of My Writing Tool

Several years ago I did a post about free software programs that would help keep a PC running smooth. I decided I would do one again to help out my fellow writers and bloggers.

I am, pretty much, paperless in my writing endeavor these days. Even when reading what I have written, I transfer my work over to Kindle. Most of this is due to the fact my printer is on the fritz and I cannot afford a new one or have my current one repaired. So, I make do.

Being paperless means regular maintenance of the devices I use for my projects. Kindle requires little, just remembering to plug it in for recharging. My laptop and PC depend on regular updates of software and security and performance checks.

Jacqui Murray has discussed this subject on her blog as well, including software programs for this support that do have a price tag on them. My budget is way too tight for me to even consider most of those that have a cost attached to them. Would I spend the money on maintenance software if I was published? Probably not. There are programs that are free. More often than not, the only stipulation is they must be run manually–not scheduling. It is a small inconvenience to stay within my budget.

Advanced System Care

IObit offers this software free as well as being able to buy it with bells and whistles.

The free version will speed up, optimize, protect, and clean your machine. However, all but the defragmenter have to be started manually. It has what they call a Toolbox, which lists other software you can get either at a price or for free. Additionally, it has an Action Center that will tell you what programs in your system need to be updated in some way.


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[You can view a larger photo by clicking on the images individually.]

CCleaner

This program has been around since 2004. If I remember correctly, I came across it in 2007 and have used it ever since then. Because I use the free version, I have to remember to bring it up and manually get it working on all the unwanted waste in my system. With the paid version, I could schedule it to start on its own.

It removes files Advanced System Care will not touch but will not optimize or help with problems like Advance System Care does. It will also clean my registry. It has other tools too that come in handy when the PC runs slow.

Malwarebytes

I use the anti-virus program installed in my computer, Windows Defender. I can almost hear the chatter out there with readers telling me I should be using something better. If I start having too many viruses entering my system I will probably buy the paid version of Malwarebytes. For now, I use the free version of this anti-virus software twice per month. So far [knock on wood], I have not had any viruses, just unwanted programs called PUP.

If you like what you are using to keep your PC in good running order, I suggest you keep with it. Sure, these contraptions are made on an assembly line but each one of us uses our babies differently so the maintenance package is going to be slightly difference. However, if you are not satisfied with what you have, you might want to check these three programs out. 🙂

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Tomorrow my newsletter will be delivered to those who have signed up for the monthly article and list of posts. If you are interested in this alternative, the sign-up is at the top of the page in the sidebar.

“there’s no harm in hoping for the best as long as you’re prepared for the worst.” ― Stephen King, Different Seasons

 

Hump Bear and Bleak Days

I wanted to kick about two unrelated topics with you this week. Both are of a personal nature. Neither one has anything to do with the other.

Here goes…

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Hump Bear

Hump Bear

Marble is our one male cat inside. You can read more about his past here. Being fixed, it would stand to reason that some of his desires no longer exist. At least, that’s been my logic. After all, if you don’t have the equipment to do the job, you aren’t going to be spending a whole lot of time think about that activity. Right?

Well, I guess Marble is different. He still spends time contemplating sexual activities despite having the surgery done. No wonder Miya and Nutty run from him all the time.

Back this last fall, the teddy bear husband bought me when we lived in Cookeville [one town west of us] ended up on the floor. Neither husband or I thought much of it at the time. It was dusty and I hadn’t thought about it sentimentally for years. After all, husband and I have a good relationship without the materialistic attachments.

Marble eyed it laying in the middle of the floor and decided to latch on to it. A-okay by me.

That’s how it started out, but I think he might have gotten too fond of it.

He’s been humping the silly thing.

At first, it was a sporadic occurrence. Then it became a daily activity. I would just shake my head as I walked by this spectacle. So I’ve got a strange cat. What else is knew? However, as of late, this cat is humping that poor bear several times each day. Does he need a therapist?

My poor little teddy bear has become Hump Bear.

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Bleak Days
Image provided by Stuart Anthony
https://www.flickr.com/photos/stuant63/

Bleak Days

Most people around the globe peek at the weather, online, on TV, or in the newspaper. I consider it an obsession our society has had for a while. The same can probably be said about how we keep track of time too.

Here in the U.S., we’re having our cold months right now. In Tennessee, this time usually isn’t all that cold, though. Especially if you compare it to the northern states. The highs were reaching up into the fifties [Fahrenheit] until right before New Year’s Day. Yes, jacket weather but not cold enough to bring out the wool.

When the colder weather finally hit these mountains I live in, I felt a little apprehensive, although not about the temperature. I had been going through so melancholy and the thought of it turning into actual depression wasn’t something I wanted to deal with in any shape or form.

I started making plans that would, hopefully, keep the deep dark blues away. All this is, is preparing to do spring housecleaning in January. I’d forgo any intentions of getting serious writing done on my WiP in exchange for a clean house with a fresh clean springtime smell to it to chase away any depressing moods.

Believe it or not, this activity works for depression. At least it does for me. I remove everything from sight that reminds me of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Anything with black, rich orange, roasted brown, rich green, or rich red gets tucked away where I can’t see it.

I take a damp sponge to all of the walls, making sure I get the base boards. I spray Windex all over the windows, wiping them with a paper town. I deep polish wood furniture. I move furniture to vacuum and, with some pieces, rearrange so the rooms look a little different.

I even buy air freshener in one of the tea fragrances and spray the rooms afterward.

I made all these plans two days before New Year’s Day in preparation to ward off that nasty mood of despondency I thought sure would hit me January 2nd.

Although, it didn’t hit. It didn’t touch me. In fact, I don’t think it even put one foot in my yard outside. I woke up, greeted with a mood of smiles and wellbeing even though, looking out the window, it was clear that the days hadn’t changed. It was still gray and dismal out there.

As I waited for the coffee to brew, I gazed out onto the backyard, really not paying attention to anything that was out there because I was trying to figure out why I felt so good.

Did a giant-sized brick wall of gloom crumble for me in the middle of the night while I slumbered? Did I receive some divine wisdom that put all things right for me during one of those dreams I never remember?

Is it that the other shoe hasn’t dropped?

While I wait for the answers to these questions, I’m going to enjoy my days.

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How are your first days of the new year going?

“When you are joyful, when you say yes to life and have fun and project positivity all around you, you become a sun in the center of every constellation, and people want to be near you.” ― Shannon L. Alder

 

Keeping the Banshee at Bay

Keeping the Banshee at Bay
Image provided by Dan
https://www.flickr.com/photos/damfol/

I’m not mechanically inclined. Most of this is due to the fact that I’m just not interested in that sort of thing. Whatever IT is, I just want it to work. I don’t need to know how it works.

I’m sure someone out there is asking, “Well, what if it breaks? Don’t you want to know how to fix it?” My opinion, it wouldn’t do me any good to know because chances are I’d flub up fixing it somehow and that damn thing still won’t work anyway. I’m better off relying on someone who adores taking things apart and putting them back together again.

When things go wrong with my PC or laptop, I feel as though there’s a banshee invading my life, my precious space in the corner of the “computer room”. I yell for husband or quickly push the numbers into the phone for my son-in-law. My husband doesn’t know diddly-squat about software, but he used to work with the hardware all the time when he was still active-duty Air Force. My son-in-law is the software wizard. He’s a programmer by trade, and can be quite accommodating.

Still, despite my idiocy when it comes to fixing things, I have discovered some software programs–free no less–that repair the most common of dilemmas with my Dell PC and laptop. There’s many out there in cyberspace that are professing to keep your computer running like new.

Now, I’m not so foolish as to believe all that hype, but some of them do help so my poor machine doesn’t freeze or act erratic.

CCleaner

I’ve been using CCleaner for several years. It does a marvelous job at keeping my computer running as fast as it possibly can without taking it to a technician. It gets out all the rubbish that slows my poor contraption down.

I can do the following swipes with this little gem:

  • clean the general workings of the computer
  • clean the registry
  • use tools that will show startup programs, browser plugins, duplicate files and folders
  • do a systems restore
  • do an analysis of a disk
  • do a drive wipe

Of course, because I use the free version, I can’t schedule these things to happen. Once a week I set time aside for this duty. Most weeks I just need the general cleaning.

Drive Booster

IObit has several programs that help with PC maintenance. All are good, but for cleaning, I still like CCleaner the best. However, their program for checking on the latest version of drivers is so simple to use, I took it on. It’ll even alert me when one is getting terribly old.

Smart Defrag

OIbit’s defragging program is another good one to have. I can schedule this one so my poor machine doesn’t have shards all over the place just because I get busy doing other things. Not only that, but it works in the background too.

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Now that I’ve had a computer for seventeen years [not the same one, of course :P], I don’t think it would be easy to live without one. Sure, I could do it if need be, but I sure wouldn’t be happy about it. Keeping the contraption running as smooth as possible has become one of my missions in life. After all, it’s my main vehicle to the outside world these days.

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What software programs are you using to take care of the health of your computer?

“I know there’s a proverb which that says ‘To err is human,’ but a human error is nothing to what a computer can do if it tries.” ― Agatha Christie

 

Alleviating Email Issues

Alleviating Email Issues
Image provided by Megan Amaral
https://www.flickr.com/photos/mamsy/

I can remember when I used to wish that advertisers would stop sending mail. You know, those things with envelopes. I’d walk to the mail station down the street to retrieve the bills I needed to pay along with, hopefully, a real letter from someone I care about. Lo and behold, my little compartment would be filled with junk mail.

Sure, some of it I’d scan: catalogs, coupons, and local events. Most of it, though, was tosses into the waste paper basket immediately. Even most of the items I glanced at got dumped as well. I lived frugally. I still do.

Now, I have even more junk mail thanks to the internet. It isn’t just the post person dropping garbage off at my home. It’s even coming in through the wires and air! –Depending on if I’m using my PC or laptop.

I guess I could just close my email account. I’d still have the social media sites to bring me news. Most of the blogs I subscribe to are connected to sites where I can read notification at those host sites: WordPress.Com, LiveJournal.Com, and Dreamwidth.Com.

Still, I do love getting email in the morning. I especially love the ones from friends and family. I read as much of it as I can while I drink my first mug of coffee for the day. My email site, Gmail.Com now, tries their best to keep the junk out of my folders. They do a better job at this than Outlook.Com was doing. At least with Gmail, I can rat on the jerks who are sending me spam and know with some certainty something will be done. Outlook says they do this but they need myriads of improvement. The spam problem with Outlook upsets me a great deal. I had hoped Microsoft would have a better handle on this situation in cyber space. I really did want to stay with Outlook. I was trying to limit my use of Google as much as I could because of their determination to become an internet monopoly. I’m totally against that–obviously.

To say the least, I’m sorely disappointed in Microsoft.

Surfing the blogosphere can get rather time-consuming. Having the notifications come by email helps out a little. More often than not, they come trickling in so I can read a few in the morning, a few a lunch, and more after dinner without my inbox getting overloaded. I know that some people get things so organized within their email account that they have all email of one type going to a specific folder found just below the inbox. It does make the account look cleaner, but those people are still seeing how many emails are waiting for them. It can get quite staggering. They better not take a vacation from this daily chore–or a sick day.

Gmail has made it a little easier to organize the inbox. There’s tabs above where the list of emails show, giving me the option to use the ones they provide or add my own. I never have to look at all of the emails in the list at one time. That is except for at the sidebar. Right after the word, Inbox, there the TOTAL number of emails staring at me.

I couldn’t imagine being the only one who feels the anxiety of the large number. After all, there’s only so much storage in these email accounts. Sure, I don’t have to scan each and every email. In fact, I barely glimpse at the ones in the spam folder before I dump them all. Still, the hankering to read each one that makes it to my inbox can keep me glued to my seat. I’m sure there are others who are like me.

With these thoughts in mind, I created a newsletter for my blog. It’ll be delivered to subscribers’ inboxes once a month, the last Friday of each month. There’s a short article you may or may not want to read. The important element of it is the list of posts from the prior four weeks in the sidebar linked to the posts themselves. The people who subscribe will be able to stop the notifications from WordPress.Com, thus lessening the number of emails in their inboxes by a small but significant three per month from yours truly.

True, probably quite trifling in the big scheme of things, but if more bloggers offered this, the email inbox won’t seem to daunting.

Anyway, the sign up is at the top of the page here on the sidebar if you’re so inclined to subscribe to my newsletter.

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P.S. Jacqui Murray asked about continuing my series of #weekend coffee. Jacqui, one of the posts will be just that. This means one post each month will be a little late so it coincides with Daily Post’s Weekend Coffee Share.

Blogging is great, and I read blogs all day long. However, my goal is really to have a deep, meaningful discussion with people. For some reason, I’m able to accomplish this best via email. —Jason Calacanis

 

What Should My Blog Be Doing?

What Should My Blog Be Doing?
Image provided by Cassiopee2010
https://www.flickr.com/photos/cmoi30/

Back Then

When I began this blog, my aim was to practice my writing and get a feel for what readers wanted. Both of these endeavors gave me more than amply room to explore. I figured I could “discover what my voice was”, dig into what genre I would be most comfortable with, try on different styles of writing, receive feedback from visitors, take advantage of constructive criticism, and get a good following going.

 

What Now?

That was a couple of years ago. I’ve become more focused, at least more often. My “needs” have changed. And the blogosphere has done some shifting as well. Most of the bloggers I follow aren’t posting every day as they once did. Other aspects of life have their attention.

 

Aims Forward

I’ve learned that “my voice” will discover itself. I can tell you that I enjoy writing in the more casual frame where verbs are often found hooked to nouns by apostrophes, and word usage filled with slang. Does this mean I’m a lazy or sloppy writer? Some of you may think so and you’re welcomed to include it in your comments. Just so you know though, I don’t think of myself that way.

Finding the genre I think I should write in has been a bewildering ramble. I know what fires me up to write, but finding the name of that genre has left me thwarted. What would you call a story that deals with inner conflict as the main theme? The story may, at some point, have a death in it, or it may not. It may not have a happy ending, or then again… The main character may be worse off than when s/he started, or may have come upon the solution. Would this be called a psychological suspense, maybe? Whatever it’s called, this is the genre I like to write in. I’ve done a few flash fictions, character sketches, and scene sketches in this blog, although it’s been a while. I’ve pondered on doing more, but I think I’d narrow them just to this genre now because then it would be a practice session for my WiP and hopeful others. As a visitor, would this interest you?

The past few months I’ve been mentioning my WiP often in my posts. Most the time, I’ve been questioning how I’m approaching the process of writing it. Although I’ve seriously considered the organized methods of authors with a few books under their belts, I always go back to setting my butt firmly in my swivel chair and letting my muse do most of the guiding through the story. All of it is trials and tribulations. Are readers, in particular, are you interested in that?

The life of a writer can be intriguing. That is, if the writer is doing something other than writing and is willing to share those times with the audience of his or her blog. I’ve been falling way short in this category. Most of it is due to the fact that I don’t have what I’d consider an exciting life anymore. This is an area I need to work on. I doubt that my life will get fascinating anytime soon, but there must be some things I can tell you so you know me at least. I’m hoping you, as my visitors, will give me some critical feedback on whatever I write in this persuasion.

I’m told that as a writer, my blog should be promoting me and my work. The problem is that there isn’t all that much to me or my work right now. I want to write essays for magazines once in a while, but I haven’t a clue as to which magazines I should submit to other than what my essays would be about. Even at that, until I write the essay, I don’t know what the topic is. What magazines are more likely to accept a writer who’s been unpublished for over twenty years? If you know of any, please click on the Contact link at the top of this page. [By writing essays, maybe I’ll find more content for this blog.]

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During these last two months of 2016, I’ll be working on a newsletter for this blog that will be published once per month starting in January. This is in the effort of raising the number of followers I have. In December, I’ll tell you more about this project.

“Sometimes you need to sit lonely on the floor in a quiet room in order to hear your own voice and not let it drown in the noise of others.” ― Charlotte Eriksson