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.
And, though I promised myself I wouldn’t, I have neglected this poor blog again.
It’s time to set up a new writing calendar. When I had just four site and a half-dozen clients, just keeping it all in my head worked fine. These days, there is just too much to keep up with.
I’ll be back.
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 do a little bit of writing for Demand Studios as a way to fill in my freelance writing business pipeline. When I really want to just punch something out to make a few bucks in between TV shows or while waiting for friends to show up at a restaurant or coffee shop, I’ll write some of the “Short Answer” freelance writing gigs offered on the website. They only pay $3, but they are literally two minute assignments if you don’t over-reach from what you either know, or know that you can find out very quickly.
Lately, however, there haven’t been any short answer writing assignments on Demand Studios. I’ve checked by selecting the AnswerBag website as the “publisher,” which is where I understand most of the short answer questions and answers end up. I’ve also tried selecting “short answer” as the format, and just for grins, even tried searching for $3 assignments. All three screens of results showed up empty.
Maybe I’m blocked from writing those, maybe they just don’t have any writing opportunities in that category right now, or maybe I’m doing it wrong (not likely, it’s pretty simple).
Then again, maybe Demand Studios is not making any money off of those short answer articles, or maybe Google’s ranking algorithm is finally doing something to find good search results other than just matching the title tag and counting up the number of automated links programed to each article by big websites with lots of pages to point links from.
Either way, I wrote this instead of earning $6 or $9 while waiting for my friends to show up. No big deal, but if you add up the number of times I do that each month, it actually might cost me a hundred bucks or so 🙂
I guess that I’ll live. Maybe I can start using that time to find higher paying writing gigs to send resumes to instead.
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.
Whew! Finally made it through the holidays.
As a freelancer, taking vacations can be pretty tough. You never know when I client is going to need a can’t wait, must be perfect, please, please, please, project done. However, chances are good that at least one of those will pop up during a long-planned vacation for some much-needed family time. The main exception to this semi-Murphy’s Law of professional freelance writers vacations is the time between the Thanksgiving Holiday and New Year’s Day. This stretch of time offers the freelancer a “Get out of work free,” card.
Businesses around the globe become a little bit softer about things like deadlines, contracts, and projects during the holiday season. That is because everyone else is already doing the same thing. After all, even the biggest company isn’t interested in pushing through a new, highly technical contract while their top tech contract reviewer is on a beach in Cabo.
However, this year, I may have gone a little bit too far. Having scheduled trips to visit both sides of the family out-of-state, plus a fun and relaxing vacation for the family, plus some planned “downtime” to just spend at home and both have fun and work on some household projects, there wasn’t really much room for error. Unfortunately, there was plenty of error in the form of colds going around all the family members and a baby whose colic got worse just when we had to move him out of his baby swing to sleep overnight.
Add it all up, and this freelancer is behind, WAY BEHIND for January.
The good news is that I did get some great ideas for new articles for both my own projects and for my clients as well. First up, a series for my website about parenting skills about babies and sleep. After reading through seemingly dozens of parenting books and books about getting a baby to fall asleep, I noticed that there is a BIG gap in some of the information out there. After all, not every time a baby needs to sleep is when they are going to be put down to sleep overnight. There are naps and middle of the night wakings too. Just saying that they will go away is not helpful to stressed out parents, whether they be new first-time parents, or experienced parents with a new baby.
Also, I’m looking at starting up some new websites thanks to some information I learned over the holidays. An all night reading of a certain website over Christmas weekend was particularly enlightening. Having done some further research and experiments to confirm what I read, there could be some great things in store for the professional writers at ArcticLlama, LLC this year.
Hope everyone had a great holiday! Now, get back to work 🙂