One Week to Social Media Shutdown

Yep, just one week until May 1, when I turn off my social media sites and concentrate on work, home and friends. I am really looking forward to it, as I hope to get caught up on a few things I haven't had time for until now.

This is my typical day:

Wake up - get coffee
Go to Google+ and post daily thread on the writing community. (5 minutes)
Go to Pinterest and YouTube and find interesting things to post to other communities. (1 hour - or more if I get caught up looking at things on those sites)
Check Email (notice social networking comes BEFORE checking emails)
Check the News sites and share interesting finds.
Get second cup of coffee & breakfast
Check new posts in the stream on G+, comment and share. (another hour)
Watch one t.v. show and relax while eating my breakfast (I may cut out t.v. too -- haven't decided yet)
Go to all my writing sites, check in and start to work

During the day, I get notifications from G+ and email, which I have to check.
I usually check into G+ at least a few times a day during break times, instead of doing things I need to be doing here.
At night, I spend a couple of hours on G+  and Pinterest, and check into the few remaining friends I have on FB.

I figure in a normal day, I spend 3-4 hours on social networking sites. That's time I could spend working or decluttering. I'm hoping that by not going to these sites at all, I can get more done and make more money. We'll see.

I WILL be posting to my blogs, but not sharing (DUH!), so if you want to keep up, you need to subscribe to new posts. I will keep you informed on my progress, or lack of, without social media.

I can do this. It's only a month. I keep telling myself that.


The 30-Day Social Media Diet

Actually, I'm going on a social media fast. I've decided that for 30 days, I'm not going on social media at all. I'm going to be online to work only, no socializing. After work, I'm going out into the world and do things. I spend way too much time in front of this screen. It's worse than t.v.! I work online, I watch all my entertainment online, I socialize online, I LIVE online. I go crazy when my computer conks out.

This is not healthy. I need a life. I need some inspiration. So for 30 days, I'm going to sign off and get out of this house. I'm going to garden, and walk and exercise and go places. I'm going to go to the beach -- where I haven't been in I don't know how many years. You really kinda burn out on the beach after living in FL for awhile.

I'll still check emails, but no chats, no Skype, no FB, no G+, no hangouts -- nothing! If people want to talk to me, they are going to have to call me on the phone or come to see me, or invite me to see them. Anyway, it will have to be personal.

If you'd like to join me on this 30-day Social Media Diet, let me know. We can rock our lives together. It's just a month. Why not give it a try? Get out from in front of the computer and get a life!


Should You Give Up Social Networking?

Sometimes I wonder how I would do if I gave up social networking sites completely. They were essential when I was getting much of my money from content sites that paid per view, but now they are basically just a time-suck, except for the occasional posting an article from my blogs.

I never post on Twitter, although I have a lot of followers. I dumped all but a few friends and family on FB. I'm pretty involved with G+, but am getting a little tired of that as well.

I started a lot of communities on G+ with an eye to becoming a social media manager, and using them as something to put on my resume, but now the thought of having to post to social network sites all day makes me want to just shut down the computer and take a nap.

I have been thinking about the report I heard that only 30% of all registered users on FB are active. That's pretty much true for all social sites, I think. People join, then Real Life interferes, and their accounts just go dormant. It's like all those Blogger blogs that no one is ever going to post on again that are just sitting there, because Google refuses to take them down and recycle the names. It's all wasted space on some computer, aside from the personal information they harvest from those accounts.

I may take a social networking vacation. I'm thinking a 30 day experiment to see if I earn more or less without all that to distract me. If I find it is more productive to leave them alone, I wouldn't have any problem doing that. Like I found out when I left FB, those who really wanted to stay in touch did anyway through normal things like the telephone. The rest just went away and never got in touch again. And that's o.k., because you know what?

I DON'T KNOW ANY OF THOSE PEOPLE. They are just names and faces on an internet site, people who I'm not even sure are real, and honestly -- most of them probably aren't.

So 30 days off sounds good. Maybe I'll do that next month.

My First Impressions of Windows 8

My computer died, and it broke my heart, because I loved it. I had to have something to work with, so I bought a new computer with Windows 8. Boy, at first I was flabbergasted! It took me a couple of hours just to figure out how to get around the screens. I missed my quick launch bar, and wanted some way to get something similar to the start menu on my task bar. I found out how to put the desktop on the task bar. Actually, I don't believe the instructions were for the desktop, but it turned out to be that plus some. I think THIS is where I found those directions. Hard to tell, since it was a fluke that worked out really well. This what that looks like:

Then there was that missing Quick Launch bar. I love that thing! Can't live without it. THIS is where I found directions for that. Then I had to figure out how to get what I wanted onto the quick launch bar. That I found in the Ultimate Windows 8 Taskbar Pinning Guide.

I figured out how to create a recovery partition, and will be making a backup copy of Windows as soon as I get a 4 gig flash drive to put it on. Since this system was designed for tablets, you CAN back up to disks, but it takes a lot of them, so best just to put it on the thumb drive. I'll be getting that done in the next couple of days.

So far, I don't HATE Windows 8, but it's not at all what I would have expected. Of course, it was created for tablets primarily, so I expect it to be very different. I'm learning little ways to make it more like Windows 7, at least in look and feel, but I'm not going to make any really huge changes. I hear the file system is awesome, so I can't wait to get into that.

I haven't run into but one program that isn't compatible, and it had a viable replacement. My Firefox and all my favorite add-ons work just fine. I have a lot of my apps downloaded. I'm not getting them until I need them.

Honestly, I doubt I'll ever use the Start Screen much. I'm working out a way to put the shut down controls on the taskbar too, because it's a pain to get to them --- to many clicks.  

More to come in the Adventures of Deb and Windows 8, so stay tuned!

Web Media Companies: What to Look for and What to Be Skeptical Of

I have just found something and thought I should make my fellow writers aware of it. When looking for jobs on job boards, if you find a "company" that does not have its own URL or email under that domain, watch out. I just found this ad on Pro Blogger that sounded good. It was offering $40,000 a year, but they want 100 articles a week for 50 weeks a year, which is $8 an article. They have a minimum of 5 articles a week, which I imagine is what it takes to stay employed, so if you have a better-paying gig that is taking up all your time, you could lose your position. When I looked at the contact email, it was a gmail address, which is strange, since they have a Canadian website, so why aren't they receiving mail through that?

Some Other Obvious Things to Watch For

Watch for sites that have British wording, such as calling articles "stories", asking for "solid writing samples" or, like the one above, try to convince you that seeking better paying jobs is a waste of time. Also watch for companies that ask for too much -- 20 to 30 "quality" articles a day, for example. These are not writers who started a company, because obviously, they have no clue how long it takes to write a "quality" article.

Also, watch for sites that have no Terms of Use or Terms of Service and no Privacy Statement. These two things are pretty much required by Google anymore for a legitimate listing, which many outsourcers may not know.

Legitimate or Outsourcers?

The thing is, these little fly-by-night "media companies" are popping up everywhere, so be careful. Sometimes, they are actually just one person who is picking up jobs on ODesk or Elance and outsourcing them for less money.

If a company wants you to write articles within a couple of hours after they are posted, they are probably outsourcers. I've seen a lot of outsourcers on ODesk obviously doing the work from Triple Curve and CrowdSource, so apply to those two first.

Also, look out for companies that want the work done quickly, but don't pay but once every two weeks or once a month. They are outsourcers waiting to get paid before they pay you. Sometimes, you may run into problems if an article is rejected, because the less scrupulous of the bunch won't pay you at all.

Best Way to Stay Safe

READ THE TERMS AND PRIVACY STATEMENT CAREFULLY! It only takes a few minutes of your time, and may save you a lot of headaches, for example, I once ran across a company that said simply by submitting it to the site, you gave them full rights, so in effect, they could never pay you and still put the article up online LEGALLY.  There are a few companies on Amazon Mechanical Turk who do this on a regular basis, so if you are working there, download and install the TurkOpticon add-on (get it here) and check out every requester. 

Ask your writer friends where they work, what they have found to be the best companies or sites to be paid fairly and reliably.
Be careful of a requester on Odesk or Elance that send you multiple article templates, and who want the title and something called a "callout." Those are outsourcing work for Triple Curve or CrowdSource. Apply directly to one of those two places. They pay more.
Trust your instincts. If something seems wrong, it usually is. If you're not sure, go to one of your favorite writing forums and ask other writers.

Pretty soon, all these scammer and outsourcing "media companies" will be sandboxed by Google, but check them out carefully first. I've found at least 6 in the last two weeks that were from the UK, so there may be someone over there setting up multiple sites. Most of them have very simple headers, such as the one listed above, and many of the sites look exactly alike except for different colors and different names.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad people online who will take advantage of you. Keep your eyes and ears open and ask lots of questions and you will be o.k.

And This is the Downside to Freelancing - Broken Eggs and a Messy Basket

I preach a lot about not putting all your eggs in one basket, but most eggs last a little longer than the CrowdSource one did.

I am very discouraged right now. I fear that there will be no more readily available work on CrowdSource. I have other clients and other places to write, but none that provided so much steady, relatively easy work. I could apply to be an editor there, but I really don't want to be an editor. Right now, I'm taking a day or two off to figure out exactly what to do.

I was all gung-ho on Content Blvd, but none of the articles I wrote last week were accepted, and the worst part is that you don't even know if anyone has seen them. I'm not inclined to leave them up there just in case someone picks them up. I need something more guaranteed. I can't afford to spend my time writing good content with no guarantee of payment. If I could, I'd write for Constant Content, which I may yet be forced to do.

Yes, I could go to ODesk, but I really don't like that system, and it has so many scammers, like the guy who is paying $8 an article for stuff he's selling to Triple Curve for $12. Who's to say he will ever really pay anyone?

Textbroker - $5 an article if you're lucky and if you do one thing wrong, you're downgraded back to level 3 where there is no work. Fiverr is not viable, because I can't write on the topics they want. I know nothing about internet marketing or SEO, and that's all they ask for, except for the one guy who wanted articles on fishing.

Yahoo is still there, but no one is getting over $6 per article there, and PV's are abysmal. I could write more on gardening and that would probably make me some good money over the summer, so I may do that. My PV's always pick up there in the spring and it usually carries through summer, since most of what I write on is gardening. I really need to learn to like writing about celebrities or finance, but I don't, so that's that.

This is the worst time in a long time for me. I have to make a shitload of money before my son's wedding, and it just isn't going to happen, I don't think. I don't know what to do, I really don't. Not only that, but I'm getting to where I don't care.


FIXED: Dell Inspiron 3520 - Can't Turn Off Touchpad

I don't think Dell has ever had a laptop that didn't have touchpad problems. They use an ALPS device, and it seems they just aren't the best touchpads available.

On my new laptop, the touchpad is in a very inconvenient place, and no matter what I did, it would not work. None of the Control Panel settings worked nor did the F3 toggle key, and it would not turn off, even when I uninstalled the driver and rebooted! Now that's weird. It was like the touchpad just had a mind of its own.

It seems that the driver installed in this computer at the factory is not the one you need for Windows 8. Luckily (although they don't tell you this), there is a new driver on the Dell Downloads Website. To get there:

  • Go to your Start Screen
  • Click on the My Dell Support Center icon
  • Click on the Drivers icon
  • At the top of the page, specify Windows 8 (32 or 64 bit)
  • Scroll down to Input
  • Download and install the driver
  • Restart your computer
VOILA! The touchpad works. Well, at least the F3 key works. I haven't tried the other controls.