Staying Sane in a
It happens to everyone at the
worst time, but you have the power to fix it.
By Diana Barnum
"Uh, Houston we have
Ever have technical problems with your career? You
have the story ideas and thoughts flowing, you're surfing the Net,
submitting email queries with your right hand while talking on the
telephone with your left, your kids are coloring on the floor around
you--life's just clipping along. Then it hits; your Internet connection
breaks! No more email, no faxes that use your web server, no
surfing--nothing happens. Ouch. What do you do?
As in the show and real-life situation of Apollo 13, stay calm.
Remember all of us go through this--and more than once. Even though this
seems disastrous, your editors and interviewees, etc. all have had similar
events happen to their computers, and will understand delays in
cyberspace. And in the worst case scenario, there are over 8,000 markets
in Writer's Market 2000 alone who are looking for writers. With your
experience behind you, new queries can be sent out in minutes to
jump-start new business to offset any that was lost.
ISP Down? Connect
a Secondary Service.
I keep all of those free disks that float
through my regular mailbox offering free online service. Even Kmart has
one! Then when my regular provider goes down for whatever reason, I
download one of these freebies and get going again. In the event I need to
use email, I add a note telling recipients that this is a temporary
address, and to keep me at the old one, which I list under my
Quick Fix to Email
A major problem using a secondary service provider
is that you cannot access your regular email account. If your regular
account is not a free one, click on MailStart and simply type in your email address and
password. (Some free services are not accessible this way.) This site will
bring up any new mail. You can save, delete and reply as normal under that
old address, too. If you need to manipulate attachments, just click on the
icon of the WebBox on the Homepage and complete the account page to start
your own free account. It only takes a minute or so and doesn't ask for
credit card info or anything like that.
Don't Do It Alone:
In the virtual world, try communicating through message
boards at Geek.com.
Beginners through advanced computer users post here and help each other
with all kinds of problems like software, hardware, etc.
reach out via the telephone. Call local service providers and talk to
technicians. These folks lead me to that MailStart site! They even taught
me how to go to my start menu and get a lot of items out of there that
automatically opened ran all day long, causing my system to run at a lower
rate of efficiency - creating minor crashes and glitches frequently.
In the real world, contact a local computer group for interaction.
A list of groups can be found in a free monthly copy of ComputerUser at
the public library. Check at the reference desk, if no issues are out in
the open. The librarian may be able to direct you to other publications as
well for help. The Columbus Computer Society in my area offers computer
classes, guest speakers, and many activities for networking and making new
friends. Another group that meets is for Technical Writers, and offers
opportunities to upgrade writer and computer skills - and even find work!
Also check your browser monthly for updates. I use Microsoft
Internet Explorer. Click on "Tools" and then "Windows Update." This site
will immediately check your system and tell you what updates, if any, are
recommended. Your browser may need updated to handle upgrades that your
Internet service provider installed the night before (without telling
Educate yourself to keep up with the times. I personally
enrolled in online classes at Moving Ahead Tech. A year-long subscription allows access
to over 365 classes on writing, web page building, interview skills, word
processing, resumes, computer basics and much more. I'm getting Continuing
Education Units and Microsoft Certification--and all look great on the ol'
resume. For no additional money, my family can jump aboard and take
classes, too. My 11-year-old is taking HTML and can now make and download
his own web pages! He's my assistant now, by the way. Kids can take math,
grammar, SAT preparation and more.
Ask A Kid.
One great source of help is your child. I had no idea, but when my
laptop wouldn't work right, my son could fix it. He knew from school and
his buddies how to reboot, manipulate files--even the spell check, how to
change hard drives, and more. It's amazing what kids know today! So don't
be afraid, or too proud to ask your youngsters. Kids even have their own
network; my son calls his friends to help out, too!
Good luck, and
remember: when those astronauts did have a problem, they might have
by-passed their goal, but they did return. And so will you. It might seem
a little scary and a lot confusing, but eventually all systems will be
Diana Barnum, a freelance writer in Ohio. She can be
reached at email@example.com
(unless the mail server is down..!)
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