Wednesday, December 31, 2008

December 31st, 2008 -- A Day of Wonder and Miracles

It could have been a day spent loafing or taking it easy. Or, a day of rest, reading papers and preparing for tonight's celebrations. However, it took a turn that made it a most memorable and engaging day. December 31st was a truly great day to tackle challenges!

The day started slowly with our traditional Wednesday morning breakfast meeting. Four friends gathered at the deli for coffee (or water) and bagels. Nobody seemed in a hurry to get going or back to what they had been doing. Neither did I.

I was procrastinating on tackling a Web challenge that had me stymied for days. I previously spent hours on a project with no success. I could not mentally work out the problems, even earlier that morning.

When I returned to my desk after breakfast instead of attacking the project, I diddled with a different project I could have easily put off for next week. I needed some input from my supervisor after coming up with a novel approach. That needed authorization from the next level. Within an hour or so, I had confirmation! Wow!

I turned to information gathering. I needed technical assistance for work projects for the upcoming week. My first call found a manufacturer's representative at home going through CD's. He was most helpful in teaching me more about his products' features and laying out an equipment list. He also answered a question about a personal need, since it fell within his area of knowledge.

Then came another call, and another, an email, etc. I had a pickup on the first ring at a technical department where I would normally have waited at least 15-20 minutes. I received immediate pricing on some required parts stemming from the first call I had made to the manufacturer's representative.. I left a message that was returned in about an hour at a sales' desk. The only delay was because I placed the call during the assistant's lunch break.

I downloaded some pictures, cropped and reduced them. Off to a sub-contractor for a quote I will have Friday or Monday morning.

What was happening? Everyone was there to be of service!

Back to the Web challenge since I was feeling in a zone. Right into the Web host's technical department! Someone who spoke the English language without a heavy trans ocean accent! Someone who spoke English and not computer jargon! Someone who answered ALL my questions to his best ability and was not anxious to get off the phone! (I'll tell you what Web host it was on a later post.) Wow!

I was feeling so good I turned to the same Web host for a new Website application. Voice mail, ah well. But, ah well the message was returned within minutes... And, I was talking to the head of the sales department. And he spoke my language and at a level I could comprehend. Double wow!

He turned me over to another technical assistance and for a third time I talked with someone I could asked questions to and get responses back where I was not shaking my head. Triple wow!

Next my wife had some of her own challenges that needed MY assistance! That problem solved, this application installed, that broken appliance mended!

Our daughter came home from job #1 for a short time before departing to job #2. We actually all spent some quality time in a discussion while she ate. And we all had a chuckle or two to boot!

What was happening? Was I walking on water? No, but things just seemed to be gelling at the right time. You see, most customer service and technical departments as well as sales representatives are slow on New Year's eve. There are not many calls, they do not plan to be in the office all day, etc.

So next year, instead of loafing New Year's eve day, I'll save up some more problems to address and get a great start for the upcoming year! That is, unless it snows...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Was holiday sales in the dumpster for you?

As I read the paper this morning, I wasn't surprised to learn about the drop off in holiday sales this year. But, wow, a 34+% drop in luxury items such as jewelry! Even the rich are scaling back? Or are we settling for necessities?

The drop in electronics and appliances (over 25%) means there should be some clearance sales and opportunities. Too bad I already bought my new 32" LCD for the bedroom. That I got online on Black Friday.

I have been shopping for electronics and cameras on line for years. I do not understand why others do not follow. You do all the research on line for the best items to buy. Why not purchase on line?

No reason that I see, once you learn to do the same research work on the merchants. I try to protect myself as much as possible. I want someone with a phone number I can call. I would like to pay with PayPal if I can.

I always search for a "promo code" with the name of the merchant before I purchase. Who knows what kind of a further discount I can get? It works with GoDaddy!

Speaking of online sales, they were down also, by over 2%. But, on the opposite side of the paper another story ran about Seems this year was their very best year!

I am optimistic that online sales will grow at a faster pace than normal retail sales. In fact, I am putting my efforts into it.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Why aren't you using Mozilla Firefox?

I have been using Mozilla Firefox as my primary browser for years. Even the guys at the computer store where I shop have been recommending it and loading it onto the computers they sell.

One of the standard features I love is the restore previous settings. When the computer reboots (i.e from a Microsoft automatic update), I am prompted to restore the previous sites. Very cool!

I marvel at the add ons and extensions available. Although some do not work with my ISP, AT&T, since there is a clash with AT&T's shortcut keys. ctr l <+> is the command key for the Firefox extension, while on AT&T this combination enlarges the screen, and ctrl <-> decreases it.