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Silicon-based

My wife always says, "No one on their deathbed ever said, 'I wish I spent more time at work.'" This is something I can attest to first hand.

But how quickly I forgot. The last few months I got so caught up with a new project, that I started to feel like a computer. And I didn't like it. The chip on my shoulder was a Pentium.

A 14-year-old once told me, "If you enjoy it, it's not work." And he was right. Which explains why this new endeavor I was involved with felt so much like work.

I blame computers (it's easier than blaming myself :) While computers let you be more independent—they also lure you into spending more time working. They make it easy to forget about the idea of "office hours" when you're in your home office. The computer doesn't need to sleep, so it called to me, nights, weekends, 3:30 in the morning.

Computers let you telecommute (good), but they can also make your coworkers think of you as "just an e-mail address" (bad). That, and the fact that you can get more done at home, can cause coworkers to treat you as if you were a machine (bad squared).

In this particular "new project," my co-workers never met their deadlines because they'd come to think that everything I did was instant. It didn't matter to them that they were two days late in supplying me with the material I needed to complete the job. Surely I could finish my complex tasks in minutes because I had a fast computer.

I got to the point where I couldn't stand having my buttons pushed 18 hours a day. So I did something I haven't done before. I unplugged myself.

And suddenly, I was happy again. I was human again. I could see the sun shining. I could smell autumn. I was back in the real world. One of the things you learn when you work on your own is that some jobs just aren't worth the money. Somewhere along the way I'd forgotten that. So now I'm poorer, but wiser—and happier.

So are you feeling silicon-based, instead of carbon-based? Take this handy quiz:

  1. Do you spend more time with your computer than with your family, friends or pets?
  2. Have you started to say, "I don't have enough bandwidth" when you really mean "time"?
  3. Do you feel like you could use a few more gigabytes in your brain?
  4. Have you forgotten where your off-switch is?
  5. Are you "always on" and do you do such a good job that your coworkers take you for granted, like the computer on their desk?
  6. Is it hard to remember the last time you took an entire weekend off?
  7. Do you talk to your computer? (come on, admit it, I know you do).
  8. Do you yell at your computer? (of course you do).
  9. When you take a break from work, do end up on eBay?
  10. Do you find yourself looking at chainsaws online for cutting down phone and power polls?

Here's the score:

If you answered "yes" to:

  • All ten: You need to be unplugged.
  • Six to nine: Find your off button, and use it.
  • One to five: You are in denial. Get therapy—offline.
  • None: You are in the Matrix. Try to feel the back of your head.

As things get faster and faster, there's still only so much a person can do. Remember, while computers can run 24/7, people can't. So blame your computer. It won't mind. Say it crashed. Take a day off. Enjoy life (while you still can).

And finally, a quote I just read and liked:

    You can't direct the wind,
    but you can adjust your sails.

Daniel Will-Harris

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WHAT'S NEW, PUSSYCAT?

Desperate for a domain:
Try NameBoy!

OK, so by now you are pretty well convinced that every possible combination of letters that makes any sense at all has been registered, either by people who want to use them, or by people who want to sell them.

You wonder why you didn't register common words a few years ago when you had a chance, and now all you want is something not-too-long that's easy to remember and type and makes sense.

What's a mother to do? Try http://www.nameboy.com - this site features a domain generator that can help you create domain names from two key words of your choice. It will add rhymes, hyphens, and "coolify" the name to find something unique that's available (or at least for sale).

For example, I searched for something with "zipper" and "automatic" (I mean, haven't you been waiting for an automatic zipper that you don't have to go through all the trouble of pulling on? OK, so maybe it needs some kind of optical sensor to avoid tragedies, but still...)

So I entered those two words and of course saw I could get automaticzipper.com (available!) and autozipper.com (available!), but it even suggested names like hotzipper.com (available!), and the brilliant zippology.com (available!) and hip-zip.com (available!)

While this isn't the place to go to see if a specific name is available, it is the place to go to help you figure out a name.

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What, Me worry about viruses?

You know you aren't happy when you catch a virus. Well, you might be even less happy if your computer caught one. If you run a web site, you get a lot of e-mail, and you're a target for viruses. If you've ever had a computer virus, you know it can take days, weeks, or even months to recover.

But if know a few things about viruses, you can avoid them—and the wasted time they bring.

  1. If you're not sure what the attachment is, and who it's from, don't open it. That's pretty simple. (If the attachments are GIF or JPG, they're safe picture files that can't carry viruses, but anything else, including Word ".DOC" files are suspect).
  2. Even when the e-mail is from someone you know, use extreme caution opening any program file. Program files end in .exe under Windows. .EXE files can always be dangerous, no matter who they're from. The reason is that viruses can cause a friend's email program to send you an email virus, even without them knowing. ZIP files can be opened safely, but they can contain files with viruses, so  as wary of what's inside a zip file as any other attachment.
  3. If your computer asks if you want to "run" something, and you aren't totally sure what that is, choose "no." Don't be afraid to say "no," BE AFRAID TO SAY "YES."
  4. Don't open a file if you don't know what the file extension means (under Windows it's the last three letters) ".VBS" files can be extremely dangerous (in fact, most recent viruses have used this format), because they can send commands to your computer to make it do things like delete files, or even send your own sensitive files to strangers.

    But you may not see filename extensions because, by default, Windows hides them. Why? Supposedly it makes things easier, but in fact, it just keeps you ignorant—and in this case, ignorance is not bliss, so turn extensions on. To show file name extensions:
     
  5. Open up My Computer or the Windows Explorer
  6. Choose View/Folder Options.
  7. UNcheck the "Hide file extensions for known file types" check box.
     
  8. Even Word files can have viruses. Word2000 is supposed to be able to lock them out, but I'm sure someone has already or will figure a way around that. I have worked with professional people who sent me infected Word files, so it can happen at any time. I now avoid opening Word files from people I don't know, and I use my virus checker on all word files. If you want to send someone a document file (that they don't have to edit), put it in Acrobat PDF format, or turn it into a web page. It's safer, and more considerate because you're not sending a big attachment.
  9. 6) Consider using an email program other than Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express. These programs have direct links into your computer, and can cause trouble where other email programs won't. For Windows, I highly recommend Calypso, at www.mcsdallas.com - it costs $25, and it's worth it.
  10. 6) Make sure your files don't have viruses before you send them. The last thing you want to do is give a customer or co-worker a virus. Not good for your reputation. This means you'll need virus checking software, which can be a royal pain in the you-know. Many new computer come with this software—just make sure to the software online (since new viruses appear all the time). I personally have never been able to get any kind of tech support from McAfee, so I don't recommend them. Most of the people I know use Norton's anti-virus. http://www.symantec.com/nav/nav_9xnt/

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NEW FOR NETOBJECTS FUSION

Dynamic navigation that follows you...

You've probably seen sites with menus that drop down when you mouse over them. And you've probably wondered, "How on earth can I do that?"

Well, now coolmaps has a really simple way, called DynamicMenu. This component for NetObjects Fusion 4 and 5, lets you easily create drop down menus.

But wait—there's more. The entire menu bar can dynamically "follow" your site visitor. So that when they scroll down the page, the navigation comes with them. You can choose colors, fonts, styles and alignment.

The result is slick, useful navigation that never has to scroll off the screen. To learn more go to: http://club.coolmaps.com/component_detail.cfm?nfx=80

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DO GOOD for FREE WITH JUST A CLICK

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ONE FINAL WORD:
Here she is...

Once I became human again, I was able to stop working and watch the Miss America contest (they stopped calling it a "pageant" and tried to pretend it was a game show). I have a long history of always being able to choose the winner, just from one look at the beginning of the show. This year, my choice, Miss Louisiana, came in second. Clearly they made an error tabulating the votes. Or maybe the accountant just wasn't a computer :)

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The SchoomozeLetter is ©1998-2005, Daniel Will-Harris, all rights reserved. If you'd like to use any article on the web or in print, please ask for permission. If you're an agent or publisher looking to publish these pieces, just drop me a note.