Now and then I post on Pure Visibility’s internet marketing blog – typically posts about our culture, our process, our clients, and events. Recently, the GetDowntown blog featured profiles of folks who, like me, love walking to work. I’m included in the group. But I’m particularly proud of my “Curb Your Car Month Citizen Blog” I curbed my elevator car in May.
This week is the Internet User Experience conference, a conference spotlighting methods for dramatically improving today’s web site user experience. I attended the conference last year and gained a lot from listening to my colleagues in other usability, web design, and human factors companies locally and globally. I was grateful for the things I learned that were new, the things I learned I wasn’t wrong about, and for the people I met and got to know better.
This year, I’m excited to return for a day and a half of presentations, inspiration, networking, and learning.
So, last week I hit the wall. After standup on Thursday, I paced around the office, feeling my face get red, feeling angry, frustrated, and near tears. I didn’t want anyone to notice this, so I grabbed my coat and stormed around the streets of downtown Ann Arbor until the cold air, the exercise, and the distance braced me enough I could face my colleagues.
While I was stomping around, I wondered what the heck had killed my composure. Sure there was stuff going on, but there’s always stuff going on. I was cranky at standup, and feeling slightly embarrassed for having been snappy, and mostly feeling overwhelmed. The only answer I could come up with was to buckle down and get stuff done. So, I worked hard that day, late in part to make up for my 1/2 hour stomp around town, but also to complete the set of “urgent” tasks. I had lots scheduled for Friday, and I squeezed in a breakfast meeting with a former colleague, knowing I was pushing it, but trying anyway. Friday was more fun than Thursday, but then on Saturday I was a complete dial tone.
After a pretty relaxing weekend, I woke up today (Monday) actually sick, as opposed to wrung out, headachey, and cranky. Now I think I have an idea of why I was so brittle last week, just didn’t have the energy to maintain my equilibrium. Of course, there’s the alternate explanation, that my emotional state invited in the illness. I’m thinking that since I had to work to figure out why I was so mad, that it is the former. But who knows.
So, trying to learn something from this:
- when stressed, prioritize and underschedule! Yes, I could fit in that last minute breakfast meeting, but that doesn’t mean it was a good idea.
- better to take care of myself by listening to my mood and my body, rather than soldiering on, bullying myself through whatever it is.
So my work laptop’s hard drive died last week, on Thursday, my first day back after the holiday. I had dropped it in June and it was predicted the hard drive would go as a result, so I had tried to be mindful about what was on it and what was backed up. Computer gremlins intervened, however, the backup program I was using was timing out and not backing up the computer, so I hadn’t had a full backup of the files and settings in a few months.
This hard drive loss, however, was the best ever. I think it isn’t because of any special precautions I took, but more because the way I use my computer has changed. Essentially, I’m now in the habit of relying on external vendors to do my backups for me (web applications that as part of their service commitment do redundant backups themselves).
- Documents. I don’t store anything in the documents folders that isn’t also stored on Basecamp (our project management software). It’s not perfect version control, but I treat basecamp as the source of current files, and pull down from there when it is time to edit again, ignoring the files I’ve stored, and often tossing the file once it has been uploaded.
- Music. I suppose I’m still old fashioned, I buy my music on CD, so when the digital files get blown away, all I lose is the time invested to rip them.
- Photographs. I shoot digital now, after resisting giving up my film camera for a long time (what am I supposed to do with it now???!). I post the better shots onto my flickr account. Because I have a pro account, I have no bandwidth limits, and I can archive my photos there. This isn’t perfect, flickr wants jpegs and my camera gives me RAW files, so I do lose something in the translation (I’m not storing the original files). But, I’m no photoshop jockey, and huge jpegs are good enough for the quality of my photography.
- Bookmarks. I don’t really use my browsers to store bookmarks anymore. I archive links on del.icio.us and when I need them again, find them there. I do put a few frequently accessed sites into the bookmarks toolbar, but that’s just to save typing. I know those URLs by heart. So, nothing lost there.
- Email. I’m using IMAP settings for my email, so there was essentially no break as I hopped to a surrogate computer for a few hours while the local Genius Bar replaced my hard drive.
- Settings and Software. This was what took the longest to recover, but it wasn’t too bad, a few hours.
All this made me wonder about our home desktop. Although my husband assures me our computer backs itself up to another hard drive rather continuously, I’m following my own best practices and uploading saved photographs to flickr. This has a side benefit of reminding me of some of the great places I’ve been (Yellowstone, Banff) and good people I know (Geoff, Andy to name a few). Hmmm, why don’t I work for a place that sends me to cool mountainous national parks anymore?! Anyway, the hard drive crash has given me a holiday gift – fond memories!
These things and people gave me a good 2007.
- My mom’s health.
- Stephen for teaching me an awful lot about the web and making some cool sites.
- Kraig for making things happen.
- Chris W. for all his help.
- Andy and Brent and Mark for cheery heart.
- Dan for the big picture.
- Chris G. for his insight and clarity.
- Helene for inspiration.
- Daniel and JP at Pure Visibility for making me feel welcome and helping me be useful there.
- Patrick at PV for his thoughtfulness.
- Dave B. and Maria for their easygoing positivity.
- Ed for the opportunity.
- Linda and Catherine at PV for making a great place to work.
- Beverly for cultural events and dinner parties, especially her amazing paella.
- Vici for understanding.
- Sue for caring for Floyd and for everyone.
- Chrissy for long talks and also for Theo and Becca.
- My Dave for keeping a roof over my head during my wanderings, but mostly for taking the edge off by making me laugh.