As some of you know I specialize in both technology writing and financial writing. Lately, I’ve been publishing some nice, long, articles over at Tom’s IT Pro. If you’re familiar with Tom’s Hardware, it’s the same family of publications. My author page is here.
These recent articles are about Microsoft’s System Center 2012 R2 release. For those of you not aware of System Center, this is Microsoft’s suite of tools for enterprise-level computer and system management. System Center covers everything from installing and upgrading software across thousands of computers, to monitoring, updating, and automating just about anything and everything a system administrator would ever need to do. Theoretically, if you had the entire suite set up and working correctly, you could run and entire company’s IT department from a single location using nothing but these tools. That isn’t how the real world works, of course, but that’s the idea.
Software distribution and updating is handled by System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager.
I’ve also written an article about System Center Operations Manager 2012 R2 and some other nice articles.
And finally, here is an overall look at whether System Center 2012 R2 is worth the upgrade or not.
It’s always interesting to take these deeper looks into new software. The trick is finding useful information since the products are so new, there usually isn’t a lot of stuff out there. Fortunately, Microsoft does some pretty extensive betas these days, and their own engineers have taken to occasionally making blog posts or writing TechNet articles that have just the right information. Digging them out can take effort because Microsoft puts more effort into linking their main marketing page and materials, but once you get an idea of where to look, then it come pretty rapidly.
Finding the information beyond what is in the press release is the hallmark of a good freelance technology writer. If you have a project and are looking for someone to help, you can find me at ArcticLlama, as always.
I write for the blog of the computer training company, TrainSignal. Frankly, I’m proud of the various content I’ve published there over the years, and I think the vast majority of it is both informative and worthwhile. It was no exception when I published an article about the new features in Windows Server 2012 that have people excited.
The fun part was that the official Windows Server twitter account posted a (unsolicitied) link to the article. It’s always nice to get a little extra validation. I assume, if nothing else, that the article is at least technically accurate since they bothered to link it 🙂
Have a nice day, especially those of you who are not stuck in a blizzard.
As people file their taxes, they look for tax minimization strategies. While there are various actions you can take throughout the year to lower your overall tax burden, once December 31st rolls around, the only option most people have for lowering their taxes is to contribute to an IRA account. Of course, there are limits on IRA contributions, so that only offers so much relief. Otherwise, the best you can do is find every possible tax deduction you can.
When it comes to your credit report, there isn’t much you can do to manage it other than to pay all of your bills on time and keep your credit card balances from getting too close to their limits. (Credit line utilization is one of the big components of a credit score.) However, you do have to constantly watch your credit reports to ensure that negative information is not lowering your credit score without your knowledge. One of the easiest ways to monitor your credit report for free is with Credit Karma. I wrote a nice review of Credit Karma on Finance Gourmet after first determining that Credit Karma is not a scam. You can see my latest update where I delve into Credit Karma’s free credit monitoring service.
Lastly, this week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average mananged to top 13,000 for the first time since 2008 when the housing bubble triggered the financial crisis and the stock market managed to drop all the way down to about 6,500 before bottoming out and recovering as economic indicators started to look better. But, what does Dow 13,000 mean? Is that nice, round number really worth anything, or is it just a lot of media hype?
Either way, it’s been a good time over on FinanceGourmet.com. Check it out.
I write for a few different digital photography and desktop publishing websites and resources. Most of the time they go into the rabbit hole of no byline writing in marketing materials. However, I do write for a website that has a nice digital photography channel and thought I would share some of my photo articles and advice tips here.
First up, is photography settings basics and more that is a nice linking article to a lot of other digital photography information. A while back I wrote some other articles about digital camera settings including this one about shutter priority mode and this one about portrait photography techniques.
There is plenty of other good stuff about photography techniques and picture taking tips. I like to focus on digital photography because I never really got good at taking pictures until after I got a nice Canon digital SLR that finally let me not only use all of the camera settings, but allowed me to take enough pictures to really learn about photography.
Of course, few things taught me more about photography than building a home photography studio and using a simplified portrait lighting setup to take beautiful pictures of people with a digital camera.
On the more technical side and with a slight legal twist, I also researched and wrote about how to copyright a photograph. As it turns out, the answer is pretty straightforward. Your photos are copyrighted the moment you take them. Of course, how you protect that copyright and whether or not you can collect reasonable damages if copyright infringement ever occurs, is a different matter.
I have tons of other photography articles published there with plenty of useful photography tips and advice. Just click on one of the links above and check it out. Then, click my name if you like and see what else I have written up.
And, of course, as always, you can check out my professional freelance writing website which is the home of my own freelance writing business.
Have fun out there taking pictures, or reading new stuff. Either way, your life will be richer and fuller.
I’m pretty much infinity plus one hours behind today, so we’ll have to keep this one kind of short. However, I amused myself while writing today at a couple of little idiosyncrasies in language that tripped me up, not because they are complicated or one of those very confusing English grammar rules, but because that they don’t necessarily come up in the proper writing context.
Before we go too far, we’ll start with a gratuitous reference to one of my article published elsewhere about Citibank ThankYou rewards. Now, moving on…
Unlike most people, I am a professional writer. That means that every day, my writing gets graded, just like when you were back in high school. My grader is not a school teacher trying to ensure that my writing is correct enough to get a passing grade on the state’s standardized writing text, but rather an editor who
a) knows just as much about correct English grammar and punctuation as any writer,
b) may very well have an advanced degree in either English or Writing,
c) probably could teach most high school English teachers a thing or two about grammar
Oh, yeah and:
d) decides whether or not the grammar I use in the writing I turn into him or her is good enough to accept my work and pay me, or that it needs to be edited and corrected before it is good enough to accept and pay me.
In other words, grammar matters to me. A lot.
That means that not only have I learned a lot about writing and grammar over the years, but I keep learning new rules and guidelines because there always seems to be another way to write something that does not fall among the rules and standards that I already know.
Long story, short – I do my best to not correct other people’s grammar no matter how terrible and I struggle each day to hit Cancel or Delete before pointing out that “your” means something that belongs to you, while “you’re” means you are.
That being said, today, I found myself on the, “Hey, wait a minute, is that right?” end of my own writing.
First came spell-check’s red squiggly underline beneath the word “triaging.” Fair enough. I’ve never looked it up. Maybe the ‘e’ is supposed to be left on the end of the word before adding the ‘ing.’ It’s unusual, but not unprecedented.
However, that spelling, “triageing” came up with a red squiggly underline as well.
That sent me to Dictionary.com which has the word triage, but nothing about making it an active verb.
From there I went to Merriam Webster’s website who had nothing for me.
And, finally, to the actual, printed, hardcover dictionary in my bookcase. It too has no record of any such word.
For well over a year now, I have been telling people, often in writing, that I was “triaging my email,” which is my way of saying desperately trying to find, and take action on, all of the important emails while sorting the remaining email into their relative levels of importance ranging from important, but not urgent, all the way down to they’ll-get-over-it, and lastly, spam.
It seems that I have been making up a word.
That’s fine for rappers and high-school girls (“Stop trying to make ‘fetch’ happen.”) but not so great for writers. Although, you can have “jackassery” when you pry it from my cold dead hands. I don’t care what Merriam, Webster, or Mrs. Jones in 4th period English say.
The Bane of My Existence
Next up, was the spell checker overload when I finished a lengthy tirade in which I, somewhat comically, continuously re-used the word, “bane.” Unfortunately, I did not use the word, “bane” at all, but rather, “bain.” Oops.
No harm, no foul, here as it wasn’t something to be professionally submitted, but it brought a smile to may face anyway, particularly because about one-half of my friends couldn’t use the word in a sentence let alone be familiar enough with it to judge the mistaken spelling.
Be that as it may, we march on. Brian Nelson is out…
I had one of those months that almost makes you wish that you still had a day job instead.
It all started with some business infrastructure problems in the form of an email server nightmare. I’ve always just used whoever was hosting my websites as my email provider and never thought any more about it than that. Once I had my email accounts setup in Thunderbird or another desktop email client like Zimbra, I made the terrible assumption that everything that hit my server was dutifully being passed along via IMAP or POP3.
I never bothered to re-check my POP3 settings for Gmail or my IMAP settings for other email accounts so long as email kept showing up in my email client. Unfortunately, just because some email was showing up, didn’t mean that all email was showing up. I probably lost out on some clients and had to do major damage control with some others.
Here are some of my recent published freelance writing articles at BrightHub.
Anyway, the moral of the story is to never take anything in your freelance writing business for granted. Check, double-check, and re-check.
Oh, and for your critical systems like email, you might want to consider paying a little extra for a specialized email provider with fully-skilled tech support waiting to not only help you if you notice something go wrong, but who can also proactively alert you if something might be going wrong.
Hah! How is that title for some S * E * O * action? (I have this new theory that there may be a function within the seek and find company’s programming that detects certain phrases, like the one I put the * in and adjusts them accordingly. It is probably nothing, but for now, I’m testing it out.)
As a freelance financial writer, I get a lot of opportunities to write about money. As you can imagine, a lot of those freelance writing gigs revolve around the same kinds of topics. Writing about personal finance tips and financial information these days means writing a lot about things like the economy, mortgages, credit repair, bankruptcy, and so on. Also, the latest investing fad, FOREX investing, is a hot topic, although I don’t write anything about that. Not only is it extremely risky, but the so-called advice and strategies it is based on are half-baked at best. Think day trading (the last investing fad) or fix-and-flip real estate investing (the most recent fad) and you get the idea.
Ironically, solid, unbiased, financial advice and tips are in much less demand. Understanding how to maximize your online banking, or the outlook for bonds in 2010, or money market accounts is a snooze-fest for most clients. Even more closely related topics like credit card reward programs, which can be part of a savvy personal financial strategy, don’t draw as much interest as the “hot” topics. It seems that with the credit markets drying up, and Congress stepping in with new laws on credit card company’s worst money making (abusive) practices, that not everyone can get any credit card they want with bad credit anymore. I guess there isn’t much money to be made in the “elitist” market segment of people who have good credit and use it responsibly.
Even my latest about legit work at home jobs isn’t a high buzz article.
The demand for high-quality writing on topics like good financial advice, good writing advice, and good parenting skills for dads and moms has always been rather muted. However, when those jobs do come along they are some of the highest-paid freelance writing gigs, because if you are going to stand behind advice about money or parenting with your company’s hard earned reputation, you better make sure it is solid and well-researched, not just “hot.”
To stay ready for when those opportunities come along, and to have clips, one of the universal freelance writer needs, that don’t get lost in a website redesign, I write some of the best financial planner advice I ever gave (or wanted to give) while I was working as a financial advisor. As a Certified Financial Advisor, or CFP, I got a look at what a lot of people think is good financial advice and I would have to say that there is a very big need for quality, impartial, financial advice, even if there isn’t a very big demand for it.