Fast and Dirty – How the Experiments are Going So Far

Quick entry here and sadly without the usual fantastic assortment of photos. (If you miss the pics go here for a top up JJ Mellors Flickr)

Update on the experiments.
Experiment 1 – Digital Free Days (DFD)
Thumbs up as this is working out fairly well.  DFD so far always seem to fall on a Saturday.  I’m only breaking one rule and good news is, it’s not my fault!
I’m not using a computer in any way shape or form on DFDs, and there is absolute minimal use of my (new) mobile phone.  My UK phone isn’t international so for the next few weeks I’m not using it at all.  Hmmmm, part of my cunning plan?  Not really.  Right now I have a different mobile/cell phone which essential for booking meals and drinks with friends!!!
And there is always a but, I am watching TV on my DFDs.  My excuse, and I do have one, is I’m staying with family and friends and I can’t control/dictate their actions and it would be very rude to sit in the other room.  I didn’t come all this way just to ignore them 🙂
Besides, the Daily Show is tons of fun and I haven’t seen it before!!!
Experiment 2 – Cloud Computing
Is working out quite well but there are a few glitches.
I do have access to computers so I can keep in touch with my people and remain in the loop. Huge thanks to family and friends for letting me have practically unlimited access! 
Having the memory stick is essential and Dropbox is a huge bonus.
Problem (which if I’d bought my own laptop I wouldn’t have) I can’t put things back in my Dropbox after I have taken them out and done what ever with them.  I must save my work onto my memory stick and then I must remember to update my Dropbox when I get home.
The same goes for Evernote (how did I live without this!!?).  I have a great selection of notes but can’t add to my collection.  Pen and paper seem to be working quite well and I’m taking notes of what I have to add on later (yeah a bit old fashioned I know but I can adapt).
Big Oops on not bringing the laptop, but honestly with what I was already bringing my suitcase was too heavy.  I blame Christmas and all those presents!

They say every cloud has a silver lining and this one does.  Since I don’t have my usual reliable tools, I have been experimenting with new ones.  Open Office, Google Docs among others. To use another cliche, I’m adding more strings to my bow.

I once was an Information Goddess now watch me become an Information Wizard!



Digital Experiment 2 – Location Independence – Does it Really Work?

Never one to keep life simple, I’m currently running two opposing experiments.

     1.  I’m still trying to wean myself off my intensely digital life and have one digital free day week 
     2.  I’m 4,500 miles away from my usual work place and will continue to manage my business with my clients with my usual efficiency

    Tricky ? Perhaps.  Impossible? Never!

 Radcliffe Camera, Oxford, UK – Nov 2010

Experiment No. 1’s update –   The last two weeks have been a success.  I have had two days off.  Weekends are best and so far no adverse hardships.  The first day off was at home so a bit tough because all my electronic toys beckoned.  I was strong!  I went running, read a book, met up with friends and carved a pumpkin for Hallowe’en.  It wasn’t really a question of strength of character; I think my relationship with all things digital is more habit than anything.

The second day off was also pretty easy.  I went away for the weekend and I went toyless, so no temptation.

Two gold stars then!

Fireworks  – Oxford, UK – Nov 2010
Now for experiment number two.  Geographically I’m generally located in a small, bucolic, English village.  But being a bit of a yoyo (from Britain, raised in Canada, went back to Britain, now back in Canada – are you keeping up here?), I’m a bit farther away from my office than usual.

As I’m self employed it’s essential I stay in contact with my clients so I can manage their projects, respond to their enquires and participate as much as possible in the usual running of things.  Also it’s important that I stay in the loop with local businesses and my other colleagues.  I need to ensure they don’t ever think they can do without me (because they can’t).

Radcliffe Camera, Oxford, UK – Nov 2010
Some of my clients were quite apprehensive about this location independent idea, but as I explained to them (repeatedly), 95% of what I do for them is on a computer and most of our communication is via email – so what’s the difference between 2 miles and a few thousand.

And after 6 days, the answer is – nothing!

Currently my location independent toolkit consists of:

Yahoo Mail
16 GB memory stick
2 X4 GB and 2X1 GB memory cards (for my camera)

For an extra challenge I didn’t bring my laptop as I really, really couldn’t be bothered to carry it.  Idiot, I hear you say.  Nope, in this case it’s not the stupid decision it sounds.  I know where and who I’m staying with on this trip.  There are a lot of computers I can use.  And yes, ones I can trust. Only trick so far is I need to remember to delete my existence once in a while.

If the situation was any different I would have brought the beast.

So now I will have to keep you updated on two experiments.
  1.   To reduce my digital use (dependency?)
  2.   To extend my working environment by increased digital use

I’ll let you know what strategies I come up with!



“The brave die never, though they sleep in dust:
Their courage nerves a thousand living men.”  
Minot J. Savage

Thought for Remembrance Day – November 11, 2010

The Internet and How I’m Going to Wean Myself Off It

I’ve spent a great deal of time in the last few months on the Internet.  Probably (not probably, very actually) too much time.  Strolling, trolling, sifting, sorting and a whole lot of meandering has been taking place.

Rain – Shropshire, UK – 2010

These wanderings haven’t been completely aimless as there is a point.  As a reformed librarian (read that as Information Goddess) I’m extremely interested in: 1. what sort of information other people are interested in and why, and 2. how to use the Internet and its tools (eg social media, the Cloud, online resources etc) more effectively.  So, see it’s work! Indeed my curiosity and, therefore my business, depends on my ability to sift through the “stuff” to find out what people need to know (very different from want, that’s a another chapter).

And there is A LOT of stuff in the ether.  There’s a lot of clever, gorgeous, mind-blowing stuff, quite a bit of mundane yet useful stuff, and vast waste lands of “OMG why did they bother???!!!” stuff.

Mad Eye – Manchester, UK – 2009

Sadly percentage wise, 86.4% (how to lie with statistics – that’s a fictitious stat, but I’m sure the number is high), of the visible Net is “OMG What were they thinking!”.  Like with driving, you feel there should be a test to pass before people are allowed to upload to the Internet.  Really, there are some treasures out there (and some that should be buried!)

I expect we are supposed to be egalitarian about the Internet, so anyone can come to play.  But I, for one, don’t have to pay attention.

Mad Eye 2 – Manchester, UK – 2009

Which comes nicely to the point of this blog (yes I have very long introductions).  The Internet is wonderful and exciting but also not.  I think its a brilliant platform for many people, organisations and assorted humanity but for many more it’s just another empty space to fill up.  Like a loft.

I’ll continue to spend too much time on the Internet, but feel (for me anyway) that I need to get away from the “empty space” sometimes, and even the mind-blowing stuff en masse, can lose their WOW factor due to over indulgence.   

The WOW Factor – Powys, UK – 2009

I’m going to spend more quality time with some of my favourite carbon based life forms (e.g. family, friend, colleagues, friends’ pets).  Or, get this, a book!

I’m going to instigate digital free days.  As I’m self employed this has to be feasible so it’s not a total ban.     

Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland, UK – 2009

My new rules for DF day:

At least one day a week, I pledge;
– not to use the Internet,
– to keep the computers turned off and not to sneaking off to a friend’s to use their’s
– my antique mobile phone will still be checked for messages but not on all day

– no Twitter (not even scheduled messages)
– no blogging here or on Tumblr (but I can make handwritten notes :-))
– radio is OK, CD collection is better, no TV

*Caveat – If someone else has an emergency that I have to deal with, then all rules can be broken.

Wish me luck.



Wild – Long Mynd, Shropshire, UK – 2009