Tech Steps Forward, One Step Back

1111After my grandfather passed away in 2006, my grandmother — who had very little computer knowledge — needed to learn for the first time how to send email, browse the Web and save the photos that friends and relatives regularly sent her way.

As the “tech guy” in the family, she naturally leaned on me for training. But she taught me something important, too, as I helped her find her way. Her experiences in trying to master Windows XP and a DSL modem and a finicky inkjet printer helped me understand that the best coaching comes not just in answering the present question, but in framing it such that it also covers the next, unasked, question. Continue reading

Featured Contributor: Madison Garcia

sandiego School: San Diego State University
Degree: Masters in Accounting
Approved Sections: Business and Finance, Culture and Society

As a San Diego resident, you must on the inside scoop on the best attraction. Our craft beer. There’s over 100 craft breweries in San Diego and they just keep on coming. I particularly love stopping in at the small brewery tasting rooms in the Mira Mesa and Clairemont Mesa area. The brewers are often the ones serving up the samples and they’re always excited to chat about what’s currently in the fermenter. Continue reading

Featured Contributor: Jenny Green

contribSchool: Open University (UK)
Degree: MA Literature
Approved Sections: Gardening, Pets, Science

Because you’re so enamored by Science Fiction, can you tell us what your favorite book from that genre is? Arghhh… that’s a hard question. My most recent favorites have been Anne Leckie’s Ancillary Justice and Connie Willis’ Doomsday Book.bloggerbooks Continue reading

Rolling the Dice on Saving Time

photoshopbloggyBy: Aaron Parson

My entire life, I’ve had a preoccupation with doing things efficiently. Or perhaps more accurately, a preoccupation with making tasks seem more efficient regardless of actual effort. I remember one homework assignment I had back in a middle school math class – we were studying probabilities, and were tasked with rolling a pair of dice 20 times and recording their outcome. Had I chosen to just dig a board game out of the closet and roll the dice, I could have finished within minutes. Instead, I came up with a “more efficient” method for determining dice rolls in the blink of an eye: I spent about two hours programming a dice-rolling simulator in C++. Continue reading

Unleash Your Mental Magpie

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By: James Holloway

When you’re a freelancer, unless you’re a specialist of some kind, you either develop a vast knowledge of seemingly-unconnected knowledge quickly or you don’t last. After all, there are a lot of well-informed people in the world, and there are a reasonable number of people who can write well. But being able to take a topic, hunt down references for it and explain it clearly in writing quickly enough to earn a living is a bit of an unusual combination. Everyone acquires this skill in a different way; personally, I learned it from archaeology. Continue reading

Test Your Boundaries by Crossing Borders

Marseilles,-FranceTravel writing and writing while traveling are two distinct entities. The former — travel writing — entertains us. Writing while traveling trains us. I did it.

I left my beloved U.S. about 10 years ago, with nothing save a backpack, a passport and too many shirts. I have ridden the topside of a donkey in Morocco, making my way up the Rif. I have sat on the roof of terminal three at Tegel airport in Berlin to get a free Wi-Fi connection. I won’t bore you with the discomfort of details, but I know the ropes of the globe. And they do not make a noose — if you write. My ropes tied, and comforted me, with freelancing. Continue reading

Burning Out: The Assassin of Productivity

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By: Shea Laverty

Freelancers operate in a very different environment than most workers: Our income is directly influenced not only by the quality of our work and our passion for the job, but also by the direct amount of work we output. In a lot of ways, this is a pretty good set-up, since the more we work, the more we make. Drive and ambition have direct, tangible rewards that keep us pushing forward. It makes it easier to set clear, attainable goals, especially when you have consistent clients. Continue reading

Featured Contributor: Seth Amery

finalWho was the most entertaining person you’ve interviewed throughout your career? There are two in particular who stand out to me the most, although for one I had only transcribed the interview. I interviewed the guys behind the No More Room in Hell mod for Half-Life 2, which adds a ton of realistic zombie gameplay and a barricade mode, and it really impressed me how much effort they were pouring into this detailed mod that they released for free; it was a glimpse into raw passion. It stuck with me.

I transcribed an interview with Doug Kennedy of Reverb Publishing, and during that they discussed fixing the standard developer-publisher relationship that favored big guys at the literal expense of their development team. It was reassuring to read about at least one other person who wanted to fix a very real problem in the industry and was actually trying to do something about it. Continue reading

Wheels Up, Words Down

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By: Bryn Bellamy

There’s an inherent difference between people who travel and people who don’t travel. It’s cliched to say travelers are restless, but I do think we crave variety in a way that other people crave routine. Not that there’s anything wrong with craving routine, but the traveler lives for the surprises, and perhaps even the dangers that come with stepping into the unknown. (I’m not an adrenaline junkie of the flying-squirrel-suit variety, but I do get a bit twitchy if I haven’t been on an airplane for a couple of months.) Continue reading

Three Ways to Maximize Your Freelance Career

simBy: Stacey Kole

Freelance writing, editing and evaluating definitely has its perks: You can work in your jammies, set your own hours and pick your locale. (I’m a fan of a café patio when it’s 75 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny here in Arizona, which it is nine months of the year.) But for all of its pros, our chosen profession comes with a few drawbacks — nothing insurmountable. As with most areas of life, we just need to employ a little creative problem-solving in order to break through. Continue reading