Fiction Friday: "Getting it Done," Chapter 3

Monica looked at the screen. She watched it for a moment, expecting something to happen, then realized that the screen had seemed unchanged the whole time she had been there. Since the monitor was the only source of light, if something had changed, she probably would have noticed. The longer it went on, the closer she moved to the screen, as though getting a better look would somehow unravel the mystery. She was about six inches from the screen when she found her voice.

“How long has it been like this?”…



4 out of 5 Doctors agree...

Does the shared digital storage at your office give you headaches, stomachaches, confusion, anxiety, bad dreams, insomnia or other sleep disturbances, poor concentration or lack of focus, or, in extreme cases, symptoms of digital hoarding and paranoia that coworkers might lose your files? This can result in difficult work environments and relationships, and half-files stashed on scattered drives to prevent data loss only worsen the potential for problems.

There is hope.



I won’t waste any more of your time…

I don’t have time to deal with that right now—I’m on a deadline.

I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard that. Guess what? Before you finish this project, you are going to start talking about the next one, so there isn’t going to be a good time if you’re waiting for a significant break, and when the “that” is your network, you are not only rolling the dice on a rather dicey bet, you are seriously shooting yourself in the foot.



Fiction Friday: "Getting it Done," Chapter 2

“Ok, now I’m really confused. Who is we, what are we stuck on, who isn’t listening and what are they supposed to be listening to?” Monica asked.

“We is the company, or at least the video department. Them are the people who decide how we spend money, or at least the ones I have access to who take the message up the food chain so it can be rejected by someone I never get to meet. And what we’re stuck on is everything.”…




Let’s play a quick round of “Would You Rather,” that horrific game where we list two terrible things and you get to decide which one is less-terrible to you.

“Technical crash at work, or…”

If you’re already prepared for me to say things like “having all of your teeth removed without the aid of anesthesia,” I really want to talk to you. And give you a hug, actually.



Avoiding Traffic Jams

Big cities often suffer from traffic for one reason—the streets were designed for fewer cars when the city had fewer people, but there are more people then they originally anticipated and there’s no room for more street. Everything has a capacity, the trick is accurately predicting the future, something we as humans haven’t really figured out yet. Luckily, your system doesn’t have to suffer the same fate.

If you work with a Qualified Engineer, you can design a system that’s good for now with room for later—something scalable so you don’t buy more than you need or find yourself suffering from data-traffic jams.

It’s like being able to scoot the skyscrapers over and just pop in a new lane. Legoland City Planning. And yet it’s still all in the server room.



Fiction Friday: "Getting it Done," Chapter 1

Is lunch the food, or the break?”

Monica had been walking past all the dark offices on the way back to her desk, but one of the dark offices wasn’t as empty as it appeared. She froze, took a step backward and peered into the open door. “Why are your lights off?”

“People work through lunch but still eat at their desk, so if lunch was the food, they didn’t actually work through it. Other people run errands on lunch and don’t eat, so they both skipped lunch and returned late from lunch at the same time. Yet another aspect of the English language that is lacking for the specific circumstances.” He paused. “And it wasn’t dark when I got here. The light left me, not the other way around.”

“Why are you still here?” Monica asked.

“I guess if we were talking about now it would be more of a dinner break, or even ‘4th meal,’ whatever that’s supposed to be. I won’t be stopping for food or break anyway so the question is more of an academic exercise.” 

“Have you noticed those academic exercises tend to come up more often the longer you go without food or a break?” Monica asked, rolling her eyes dramatically. 

“Sorry. My capacity for logic left me approximately four hours ago, so I see no connection.”

“Chris, go home.”

Chris turned towards the door in one swift movement. “I can’t Monica. I can’t. It’s not done, and it’s not going to be done, and I’ve told them that over and over again, and their answer is always, ‘It has to be done, Chris,’ ‘Get it done, Chris,’ ‘That’s why we pay you, Chris.’”

“Hey, hey, Whoa. Calm down. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…trigger you.” Monica noticed she had raised her hands defensively when Chris started to lose it, and she crossed her arms over her chest so she’d have a place to plant them. “It’s going to be ok.”

“Really? You know that, do you. That’s nice for you. Is that a Fortune Teller App you’ve developed, because if that’s what you’re bringing to the table I should just tender my resignation now.”

“Chris, come on. It can’t be that bad. I’ve never known anyone to really lose it over one part of one project. I’m sure we can talk about what’s wrong and troubleshoot together, and maybe they’ll give you help or something. What are you stuck on?”

Chris sagged. “You don’t understand. I’m not stuck, we are. And I’ve talked to them about it until they actually start saying no before I even start—they can see it coming.”

For the first time, Monica could see that something was really wrong.



Vampires Suck

There are real vampires.  There are vampire bats and insects that drink blood, sure, but I mean the things in this world that suck the life out of you.  Some people are just vampires—they take forever, never give, and seem to think you owe them for some reason.  Some jobs are vampires, and you need to quit those jobs and find somewhere to be a team with others who are working together rather than being life-sucked, because that makes life, well, suck.

But even in the best job ever, there are things that you have to do that leave you feeling more tired than the passing time can explain.  These things drain you, and they stop you from feeling creative and from performing at your best.

The biggest vampire is the progress bar.  Sometimes it’s an actual bar, sometimes it’s a wheel that just keeps turning, but whatever it looks like, it’s the complete stoppage of all things that makes time pass as though magically slowed.  It doesn’t help that sometimes the progress bar says that it will take 5 minutes, then 7 minutes, then 3 minutes, then 20 minutes, and it still says 3% uploaded.  Kill.  Me.  Now.  

But these vampires do more than suck away your energy and joy, they steal your time.  If you’ve budgeted for that time because the terrible condition of your data storage is not a surprise, then you are truly stuck, like one of those writhing sub-vampires who don’t really get to do anything other than hiss and stay right next to the Master.  Next time you’re staring at the progress bar wondering if you’re going to get to work again that day, you’re going to picture that, and you’re going to roll your eyes at the thought of the words, “Yes, Master.”  At that point, the Powers That Be have resigned themselves, and you, to your fate and just planned around it rather than fixing it.

Oh, mysterious Progress Bar who controls my very existence, I offer you my life, presented in 5/7/3/20 minute bursts, as I sit and stare at the screen, helpless until You will otherwise.   

I would like to offer you a visit with a (not really) World Renowned (not really) Vampire Hunter, specific to Progress Bars and similar maladies.  With a well-designed work flow and a system that can keep up, there are no Vampires.  

Our Engineers bring their own tools, and we’re pretty high-tech, so don’t expect to see stakes and garlic, but we still got this.





For today’s tech-tip, let us take a moment to appreciate our tech.

  • I woke up because my iPhone alarm chimed, and with it came the notifications for today’s schedule.  

  • I enjoyed the coffee my coffee pot made for me while looking at the news on my tablet.  It was terrible—the news, not the tablet—so I switched to a logic puzzle.  

  • While I was getting ready, I surfed YouTube for a video and played it in the background.  It was the “Babysitting Blues” scene from the movie “Adventures in Babysitting.”  That was 4 minutes of nostalgia heaven, and I don’t have to watch the rest of the movie—I feel like I already did.  That means I felt like I watched a whole movie while getting ready for work.  Total party bonus.

  • Most people need their car to get to work, and that’s technology.  It’s also full of it’s own technology, like the camera that prevents me from running over some kid’s bicycle or the glorious GPS that has saved me from my nonexistent sense of direction since it was invented.

  • I work from home, but that means that I have a home office with a Mac.  I have a printer, but SkyTech is a Green company, so we work digitally most of the time.  So, I have multiple apps and programs running that allow me to work remotely.  I can sign on to the server from here, and I can have a SkyTech Engineer sign into my computer to help me.  Most of the business software we use is web-based.  That means that our team can all access everything we need regardless of where we are.  That’s essential because we travel to see our clients, and we have folks all over the country.  

  • And through it all, I’m on the phone—that amazing, high-speed computer that can connect me to anyone, use the web, get texts, send email, take pictures, watch videos, and play games for hours.  Our phones are more powerful than early NASA projects, and we not only take it for granted that we can also use it as a music player, we complain when there’s a problem with reception, as though it is not a miracle that a message was just transmitted over thousands of miles, in the speaker’s voice, in real time, wirelessly.

  • Tonight when I take food out of my refrigerator and place it into my microwave—it’s too hot outside to use the oven, which is also digital—and toss a load of laundry in the wash at the same time, I will think fondly of those who had to butcher whatever was hunted that day and cook it over a fire while someone else spent their whole day with chafed hands scrubbing their clothing against a ridged board in the river to accomplish what took me about three minutes of active work.

You are reading this, over the internet, at the same time as a bunch of other people, instantaneously, using a device that you probably feel you can’t live without.  This is fabulous.   People used to send messages by pigeon.  The messages only went to one person—don’t ask me how the pigeon got it to the right person, because I have no idea—and it took a long time. 

We design great cities, towering buildings and shining examples of technology.  Pigeons poop on shiny things because they don’t like the light.  They don’t share our priorities.  This is way better.

If you can read this, hug your Engineer.  If you don’t have one, call us.  Not only do we want to help you, we always like hugs.  



Fiction Friday: Craziest Thing...

The server room was on fire.  Literally.  On fire.  Like orange and yellow flames dancing on the equipment and reflecting on the soundproof glass.  Pretty sure it’s too hot in there for the data, although the data was probably compromised when the actual physical thing it was stored on melted.  Utter destruction of the server room tends to have a negative impact on files.

It wasn’t a full minute of standing motionless, staring at it, but it felt like it.  I was probably only standing still for the count of five before snapping out of it and calling for help, and I give myself a total pass on that one.  Five seconds of shock is completely appropriate for something this random.  Had it been caused by a meteorite or alien ray gun, I would have been allotted the full 10 seconds of maximum shock before anyone had the right to complain.  In any case, I found my voice.

Except that it wasn’t my voice, it was my mother’s.  And every time I opened my mouth to tell someone about the fire, her voice said, “A stitch in time saves nine,” or “The hurried-er I go, the behind-er I get,” or “No one will loan you an umbrella in the rain.”  I get it—I forgot to do something with the equipment.  Thanks, Mom.

So I run down the hall, trying to get to the boss’s office, but I’m running in place, like when a video game character is standing in front of a wall and you tell them to run anyway.  The flames were getting hotter and I could feel them through the glass.  I tried running the other direction instead and it worked—I moved—but as soon as I rounded the corner I was back in front of the server room, which was still on fire.

I stepped back into my office opposite the server room, and even though the door was open it was like the sound and heat had to stop at an invisible barrier.  I could still see the flames, and it looked like something inside the room exploded and spread the fire to every last piece of equipment, but it was felt like it was far away.  

I sat down at my desk and booted my computer.  Of course it shouldn’t work at all, but it does, and everything is right where I left it.  An email pops up and says, “Hi Frank.  I saw something on my end that looked a little weird so I checked the settings and it looks like something changed during the last update.  I fixed it.  All is well.”

I turned towards the server room and there was no fire.   It was dark, except for the green and orange lights that were always in there.  Somehow it felt perfectly normal.

And that’s when I woke up.   All I can say is that I’m so glad we have a maintenance contract.  The nightmares were a lot worse before.  It’s nice that Phil jumps in from my subconscious and saves the day, but I’m looking forward to shaking off the stress and finally getting it through my head that it’s not my problem anymore.  Then maybe Phil can pop into my dreams and we can go get a drink or something more fun.  On a cruise. Surrounded by friends, family, and adoring fans.  And unicorns.  Hey, it’s my dream.  



Your Job is a Werewolf

Your job is a werewolf.  Not you or your coworkers, the job itself.

Think about a month in your chair.  Some people have monthly tasks, such as a month-end report, that are scheduled and make a certain time of month more difficult than the rest.  Others have a less lunar calendar and more of a project-based version, but there is still an ebb and flow to the work.  If you have a job that is one way most of the time, but regularly becomes an insane crunch to finish something by a deadline, then your job is a werewolf.  

Much like the monster from the movies, it’s not the werewolf’s fault.  It is what it is.  The story is more about figuring it out than it is about the horrible monster, even though the monster does some terrible things, and in the end we usually feel sad for the poor thing when they shoot it with a silver bullet and it turns back into a person.  They always make the person look peaceful, like they are finally free of the curse.  Poor werewolf.

Except when the story is truly about the werewolf, from the point of view of the werewolf.  Then it’s mostly about how to deal with it.  Do they have a cage in the basement and a friend locks them up for the full moon?  Do they go camping, strip off their clothes before the change so they don’t tear them up, and frolic in the woods?  Do the people who care about them support and help them?

Yours is a story about the werewolf.  It’s your job to keep the werewolf in check so that the rest of the world, mainly the customers you work with, never find out.  Because if they do, they are watching the other kind of story, and as soon as they figure it out, they’re heading for the gun safe and Great Grandma’s locket to smelt a solution, which means they cancel the project and choose not to work with you in the future.

So, what do we do?  Do we have a cage in the basement?  While just letting things run wild may sound fun, that’s not how work gets done, and when it comes to the full moon of crunch time, everyone just has to leash themselves to their desks and get through it.

The most successful way to navigate werewolf jobs is with an effective work flow.  If the step-by-step process leaves no questions and makes the best possible use of the time, you can avoid the whole issue.  Be done well before the deadline and there’s never a crunch, as though you were able to submit the project and hit reset before the full moon.  If that’s not possible, that work flow is your plan to get through it.

And we’ve all seen what happens if there is no plan.  It’s bloody.  First someone loses a pet, and then there’s a mysterious death, and before you know it there’s a full-town hunt for the creature.  Plans are good.  Call SkyTech.  We’re good at that.



Mind the Gap

Did you fall in the gap?  There’s this gap that has existed since the beginning of digital media between the biggest, most robust home-user system and the smallest, most cost-effective commercial system.   Start-ups without a lot of capital had no choice but to cobble together PC parts to make a server, and for those starting a flower shop or a catering service, maybe that’s all they would need anyway.  For those who were jumping into filmmaking, advertising, design, video game and app development, or any other creative field, taking the leap required much more than a sense of adventure and a weekend to convert the garage.  If you are a team of two, but the projects you want to pursue require SSD storage, you were basically out of luck.  Your choices were to purchase the smallest system you can even though you will be paying for a great deal more than you need, or accept that you can’t have an SSD system and need to get used to disappointment.  

No more!  Now, technology exists that has created a hybrid system—a layer of SSD integrated with standard spinning-disk storage so you can have the best of both worlds.  No need to install fiber—it works with standard ethernet, which makes it much more convenient for smaller companies who can’t afford to re-wire their entire office.  In a few minutes and a few clicks, which are very user-friendly, you’re up and running with just enough SSD to get the job done and plenty of storage space for the stuff that doesn’t really need SSD.  This option can save tens of thousands over the previously available systems, particularly when you consider the additional hardware and cabling that would also have been needed to make them work.  With this, you have everything the huge studios have, but just enough for your team, at a cost that actually makes sense.  Plug and Play with the Big Kids.

If you have always wanted a SAN, need SSD, but just know that there’s no way you can afford it, you’re officially wrong.  You were totally right for a long time, but times have changed.  They do that rather quickly around these parts.  

Call us.  We’ll “hook you up.”  



Fiction Friday: Stress-blocked, Part 2

“Dave!  To what to I owe the pleasure, my friend?”  Phil’s voice sounded a little tinny through the speakerphone but that didn’t dampen his obvious good mood.  Jenna couldn’t help but smile a little.

“Phil!  I’m here with Jenna, or rather she’s in the office and I’m trying to work remotely, but we can’t sign on from outside the office.  From what I understand, several people are having the same problem.  Is that something you can look at from there?”

“Sure.  Let me just log in to the backend…”

“You can check the computer from there?”  Jenna hadn’t meant to speak if she could avoid it, but the question felt natural.

“Sure can.  Probably something as simple as a setting change.   How’s everything else?  Anything else acting weird at all?”

“Well, I’m at home, so I can’t see it,” Dave started.  “Jenna?  Have you noticed anything else?  Anything out of the ordinary happen before you noticed the problem?”

Jenna paused.  “I…we all had to log out this afternoon to do an update.  It was one of those required updates that we’d been avoiding all week, but today they told us to go ahead and restart so we could clear them out.  It only took a few minutes and we didn’t do anything—it was just the updates that the computer gets by itself.  Honest.”

“It’s ok—I believe you.”  Phil chuckled.  “You aren’t doing a thing wrong.  You do know that, right?”

“I just feel like I’m doing something wrong most of the time when it comes to this stuff,” Jenna admitted.  “Just like this—things happen that make no sense.”

“Nah, this makes total sense.”

Jenna blinked several times.  “It does?”

“Yeah.  I think I can have it fixed in about 15 minutes.  It sounds like the update messed up the settings.  I’ll put them back.”

Jenna blinked several times.  “Really?  That’s it?”

Phil laughed.  “I think so.  Highly likely.  That was the exact piece of information I needed, so thank you.  Why?  Were you stressing out?”

Dave stifled a chuckle.  Jenna cleared her throat to silence him  “Not terribly.  I just…it’s intimidating to me.”

Phil’s smile could be heard through the phone.  “Ah, Jenna, don’t feel like that.  That’s why you have me.  I’m not intimidating, right?”

“No.  You’ve been very nice.  Thank you.”

“So that’s it,” Phil said.  “From now on you call when you have a question—before you get stressed out.  What are you working on?”

“Nothing,” Jenna scoffed.  “Blinking-cursor-itis.”

“But I’m here to help now,” Dave chimed in.  “Or I will be in about 15 minutes when Phil’s done.”

“Jenna, how much of the blinking-cursor do you think might be because you were too stressed about the tech not working and couldn’t find your flow?”  Phil’s words hung in the air for several seconds and he let the silence speak for him.

“That’s a very good point,” Jenna finally answered.  “I don’t know.  It’s at least a factor.”

“Not anymore,” Phil said.  “You can’t do what you do if you’re trying to do what I do, too.  Let me do what I do so you can do what you do before it’s due.”

Jenna genuinely laughed.   “That’s a lot of Do.  Next time, I will call you right away so I’m not stressed.”

“And that’s why I’m here.”  Phil beamed.  “It’s fixed, by the way.”

“Really?  While you were talking to me?”

“I multitask well.”

“I’m in!” Dave nearly shouted it.

“Well, I’m out,” Jenna said.  “Dave, if we can get in remotely, I’m going home to work from there.  I should be on again in about 20 minutes.”

“Good luck, you two.  I want to hear how you saved the day with a crazy all-nighter next time we talk.”  Phil laughed.

“Thank you, Phil!”  Jenna truly felt more relaxed than she had all day.  “It’s good to have a friend to call.”



Attack of the Clone-Files

How many defunct clones are draining your data storage?  They travel in hoards like zombies and they take up space.  That’s really all they do—zombies have the whole brain-eating thing, but these are just half-formed science experiments that sort of exist and stare at your from the directory, sending you on a quest for the One True File hiding among the damaged and ill-formed clones.  Sounds a lot more exciting than it is.

When working collaboratively on a creative project, if you don’t have a well-designed work  flow, then you have a veritable Island of Dr. Moreau of half-files clogging your system.  We all do it—we use Save As when adding our edits so we don’t mess up what someone else has done, and we save the most recent version of the file with our changes in case someone else makes a mistake and loses it on their end.  We end up with dated versions, or numbered versions, or versions covered in the initials of the people who last worked on them.  Inevitably, someone will invest hours perfecting something in an old version of the file, and then it will have to be determined if what is missing from that file can be re-added—make the previous person re-do their part—or if the last part has to be re-created with the most recent version of the file.  Someone leaves work that day very frustrated no matter what is decided.  Those are partial, half-formed clones of the real project, and they also slow down the system once you get enough of them.  It’s not fun for anyone.  

Why do we do this?  Because this one time we sent the file to Steve, and Steve said he never got the file, but we handed him the physical drive and we don’t have it anymore, and even though Steve eventually found it—in his hot car, no less—we never want to go through that again.  Save everything.  Copy it.  Copy it on something else and take it home in case the building burns down.  And maybe put another copy in the freezer at home so in case our house catches on fire, too, it will still be ok.  But then we edit the file at work, and we have to update all those other files, and since they are on separate drives in separate places, that’s not exactly convenient.  Oh well.  Just rename it.  We’ll keep the file 10 times until the whole project is done, paid for, and archived, just to be safe.

See all the trouble you’ve caused, Steve.  Tisk tisk.

The thing is, we were afraid of the possibility of a problem, and to alleviate that possibility, we’ve created for-sure problems.  Behind door number one, there might be a problem, but behind door number two, there is most definitely massive confusion, frustration, lost time, and even some animosity as the team plans for each other’s failure.  Gee, I’ll take door number two…?

Stop.  Steve doesn’t even work there anymore.  You need to rethink this whole thing.

If your data storage contains file after file of old, partial clones of projects, don’t let them just stare at you with their dead eyes.  Get an Engineer, put together a work flow that allows people to collaborate with shared storage and contains mirrors for redundancy to protect you from loss, and everyone who is supposed to has access all the time. You work on a set of files together, so you don’t need to make a copy for yourself that will only be defunct tomorrow.  

Best of all, once you have a work flow that works, you can eradicate all of those weird clones.  Scorched Earth.  Take no prisoners.   And as you plow through them with a proverbial flame thrower, at least for the three seconds it would take to delete them, spare a thought for Steve.  May he not be messing things up wherever he is today.  Amen.  



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Guess what!

There’s an awesome new thing out.  It solves problems that existed with the previous version, incorporates aspects previously only offered by competitors in a new-and-improved way, and has taken baby-steps into new frontiers, adding one new elegant feature that will become industry-standard and be adopted by all manufacturers in some form eventually.   It’s an investment, but it really is less expensive than you expect it to be when your system is analyzed by a Qualified Engineer to make sure you make only the necessary purchases.  While you can’t put a price on the decreased stress and increased staff morale, you can most certainly put a price on the streamlined timelines that allow for more work to be accomplished without any of the current efficiency gaps that silently eat your profits.  Talking to someone, just to see if it might apply to you, is free, and it’s a no-brainer.  Do you want to invest 5 minutes to see if your life could be a whole lot easier and your work environment could be more comfortable, and likely more creative as a result? 



Fiction Friday: Stress-blocked, Part 1

Jenna hated the blinking cursor.  Whoever thought of that should be shot.  All we need is to see where the cursor is.  It doesn’t have to flash like a strobe light waiting for you to think of something to say.  Some people have seizures, you know—that blinking is annoying at best and life-threatening at worst.  Ok, so maybe not life threatening.  




The Frankenstein Monster was a combination of parts of corpses.  It is Science Fiction because we can’t breathe life into a pile of mismatched things wired together, but it made for a wonderful story.  It’s considered horror, but it never felt that way to me.  The poor monster didn’t ask to be made, he didn’t understand what was going on, and for the most part he wasn’t actively trying to hurt people, he just didn’t know his own strength.  That story was more about being an outsider than it was about digging up dead people.  The underlying message was also a warning not to let our aspirations lead us into places we aught not go, echoing the fear many have of science and what they see as the human race “playing God.”  



Anyone got a challenge for us?

Tech talks to tech, but only if you do it right.  The easiest way is to stick with one brand.  In my personal home, we use Apple products.  I’m not paid to represent them or anything like that, I just learned along the way that if I wanted my phone to talk to my computer and my tablet and my television, they basically all needed to start with a lowercase letter i.  It was easy to make the leap when we finally embraced it, because we had already purchased the iPhones and iPads, the Apple TV was comparable in price to the other tv-box systems out there, and when it came time to replace the main desktop computer, we realized that was the last hold-out and we took the plunge.  Haven’t regretted it for a moment.



Freeform Friday

Freeform Friday

I spin my wheels in colorful circles

and bounce between them

a whirlwind ricochet

of smiles 

and forgotten things 

and I’ll do it next week.

I’m dizzy.


work multiplies and divides,

doubling itself 

as I watch,

bemused and only half paying attention.

Should I be worried?

Because I’m not really taking this in.


The answer beckons from another room

And my dollar and I head 

to the bad-idea machine

where pennies slip through my fingers

and fall soundlessly through my skin

to live on my thighs forever.

But I am a kind penny-keeper—

I continue to feed them chocolate.

Wandering back to my desk

the long way

the work is still not my friend.

It looks foreign today

and my eyes graze across it

without actually reading.

I’ll read it over again

and realize two paragraphs in

that I forgot to pay attention

and have to start over.


Is it lunch time yet.

Freedom Finally

I explode onto my weekend

Desperate to hit Save

To save myself.

But Monday,

I shall crawl in,

tired and rested,

a professional contradiction,

to sit at my station

slowly translating the shapes before me

into words 

and thoughts

and ideas

So many ideas.

Happy Friday. Recharge. You have not yet had your best idea…