Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October 2012 Update

Hmm.... so I just realized how long it has been since I posted on this blog. I have truly violated the number one rule of blogging - Do Not Blog About How You Do Not Blog Enough. But, the fact is, it's been a very busy and long year and the time has flown by. Here's what I've been up to:

I started Nursing School in January. Originally, it was going to be 5 very busy semesters. Due to the events at the beginning of this year, I've had to stretch out my plan. I'm now going to school part time instead of full time. So, it will be more like 7 semesters, with some summers off due to scheduling and class progression issues.
Nursing school can be challenging at times, but I have to say that I love it. Like parenting, it's pushed me to my limits and taught me I have strengths I didn't know I had. I've always been somewhat academic, so I am not really overwhelmed by the amount of material or the pace of learning. I expected to be overwhelmed by clinicals and the challenges of working on real patients, but it's not so bad. I am surprisingly overwhelmed by lab. Not sure why, but the first semester's skills checkoffs were difficult because I got nervous. Somehow I've learned how to study for them and it's not a problem anymore.

Web Projects
Not much has been done on the web project front. Surprisingly, earnings still trickle in from Zazzle despite not posting very many new designs or keeping up with the new products they've launched. Earnings also trickle in from Amazon affiliate links, too. My top earning blog is Pug Market and my top selling Zazzle products are the pug items. Kinda funny to me, because they are the simplest items I've designed. I am not complaining. Of course, I have plans to launch more items in my Zazzle store, and update the design, but I don't know when I'll do that.
I have some new projects in the works, and we'll see how that works out. Something about micro niche sites that can be quickly set up. I'll update you later on how that works out.

My love affair with my DroidX dissipated. For whatever reason, I had major problems with the Gallery and camera while I was on vacation at Disney World in December, and things were never right after that. I got an iPod Touch for school, and decided that iOS was a good choice for me. So, when my contract was due for renewal, I got an iPhone 4S. I have to say that I absolutely love it. It's just very seamless. Sure, it doesn't do everything under the sun, but then again, I don't do everything under the sun on a daily basis.
My laptop is still OK. I have no issues with it. I really want an iPad, though. I have figured out that I could do 90% of things with a tablet. I'm a bit intrigued with the Surface, too. Over the past year, I've really been tracking my laptop tasks to see what I do with it. Mostly, I surf the web, play games, do schoolwork, watch videos for school and fiddle with iTunes. It seems I could do most of that on a tablet.

That's it for an update for now. I do have plans to write about my adventures in nursing school, but I am not even sure where to start.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

July 2011 Update - What I am Doing this Summer?

So, I thought I'd post an update about what I've been up to for the last month or so.

Summer semester started at the end of May. I took 3 online classes, and they are relatively easy, compared to last semester. However, it has been an odd semester, because none of the online classes uses the online technology well. All three have positives and negatives. Most of the issues stem from the instructors' lack of organized use of the system. In any case, I've managed to deal with it, and they are not the worst 3 online courses I have ever taken. Classes will be over next week.

I still have not figured out what I want to be when I grow up, but at least I am figuring out what I don't want to do. I am still volunteering at the ER and learning a lot of things. The pendulum swings from Nurse Practitioner to Physician Assistant and back, on a daily basis. Ultimately, I think I figured out that the best fit for me would be to go to Medical School, but I just don't see that happening. So, today's vote goes to PA. I am not thrilled about the prospect of re-taking all of my Chemistry, though.

I am on a writing hiatus. I still do not enjoy writing the way I think I should, so I decided to stop torturing myself. Plus, I still have issues with the feedback from editors. Not all of my issues are due to bad editing. I just don't like the process and I haven't gotten used to dealing with rewrite requests. So, for the time being, and while I am very busy doing other things, I am going to stop writing for Demand Studios.

Graphic Design
Oddly enough, my Zazzle store is flourishing, even though I have not put much into it lately (over the past year). I am steadily getting sales every month on old products. The strangest products (in my opinion) have steady sales. Since I enjoy graphic design and it is a great creative outlet, I'm focusing my efforts in this area. My new goal is to make at least $100 per month. We'll see how long that takes. I have managed to make $100 this year, and I was recently awarded ProSeller status. That's motivating!

Web Projects
I have not posted as much as I want to on any of my sites. But, maybe I can change that. I did sell a domain I was developing, and that was a bonus. I am still entertaining the idea of merging two of the three blogs, just for ease of maintenance.

TechnologyThings are great in the realm of technology. I still love my Droid X! I also love my Roku box. In fact, I could not live without it. It is great for monitoring the TV that my toddler watches. I currently have no computer issues. I still haven't found time to read using my Kindle, but I do like it. I am considering purchasing a pen tablet and a big monitor or TV to aid in my Graphics work.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Amazon Kindle: My First Impressions

For Mother's Day, I received an Amazon Kindle (2nd Generation). This was a great surprise, and I really appreciate it. So, I unexpectedly get to play with a recent piece of technology. It's not the latest version, but it has enough features to give me a good idea of the usefulness of an e-book reader.

A brief history of my reading habits

Until I left for college (20 years ago now! ouch...), I was an avid reader. That is to say, reading was like eating (which I like a lot). I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning reading a good book during high school, hurrying through homework to get a chance to read for even just a half hour. I had to set a cutoff, so I would get enough sleep. At the time, my cutoff was 11:30 pm. On weekends, if I had nothing else to do, it was not uncommon for me to settle down with a good book or two, and spend the whole weekend reading them.
Fast forward to the college years. During college, my heavy reading load at Oberlin College slowed my pleasure reading habits. I still read the occasional novel, but most of my reading was confined to school breaks.
In the next phase of my life, I worked as a clerk in a copy shop, a newspaper production manager and a technical writer. All of those occupations capitalize on my ability to read fast, but also tire me in a way that reading is not my first choice during my free time. So, today, while I read all day, and I choose to read lots of blogs and short material, I do not read novels very often. It was left for traveling only and lately it has been not at all.

The Kindle

A few months ago, I downloaded the Kindle App for my Droid X. I played around with it, and made a mental note to acquire some books to read during my free time (waiting in line, waiting in waiting rooms, trapped in my living room enduring toddler TV programming, etc.). I hadn't really gotten around to downloading more than 3 books, when I got my Kindle.
At first, I was fascinated by the ease of use, ease of reading and the ease of obtaining material to read. Then I had to explore what you can do with a Kindle, other than reading books. I had to test how PDFs displayed, how Amazon converts PDFs to Kindle format, how fast web browsing goes, and other neat things. All of these things are pretty neat and work as advertised. The only exception is that web browsing is slower than my smartphone. So, I won't use it for that. I can't see any situation where I would be somewhere using my Kindle and not have my phone within inches, so it's not a problem.
Then, I decided it was time to use the Kindle for something productive, like using reference books or even reading a book for pleasure (gasp!). So, I downloaded a few items. I also stumbled on some games, and since I do love Casual Gaming, I had to download them, too. I started browsing for books, and found a few, which I added to my Kindle wishlist. Of course, 25% of the books I was looking for weren't available on Kindle. Another 50%, I am debating about. I am fine with the cost of the books, but since I am not a book collector, but a library oriented person, I am hesitant to spend money on books. Right now, the only money I would feel comfortable spending is gift card money (whether true gifts or textbook buyback money) or online earnings money. I do various projects to earn extra money online (writing, graphic design, blogging, eBay and mTurk), and I consider this money free for my shopping pleasure. In fact, lately, this money is the only way I obtain the things that I really want for myself. It motivates me to consistently earn alternative income and it's rewarding. Anyway, so, I have not purchased any books yet, because I can't decide which book on my wishlist is worthy of being the first book.
In the process of shopping for books, I also stumbled on another interesting Amazon dilemma. Ordinarily, when you shop for a book you can buy it new from Amazon, new from another seller or used. You can buy it in hardcover or softcover. These options give you multiple prices to choose from. If you're like me, and don't want to spend any money, you can find an option that fits your budget. Kindle books are not like that. There is one price, and that's it. The other thing is that if you buy a physical book, if you wanted to, you could resell it when you are done with it. I'm not sure yet if you can do that with a Kindle book. Since there are only a handful of books that I have ever re-read, it makes me wonder about the value of buying ebooks. I don't often buy printed books, so why would I buy an ebook?
With that said, there are numerous benefits to reading ebooks. For one thing, you don't have to choose which book to bring with you, because you can bring them all. In the case of reference books, like dictionaries and cookbooks, and ebook is advantageous, because it is always there when you need it, in an easily portable fashion. I read my Kindle books on my smartphone, too, so I am most likely to purchase reference books as ebooks. You can highlight and make notes on the ebooks too.
So, all in all, I'd say my impression of the Kindle is pretty positive, despite some weird quirks about purchasing books. I'm looking forward to using my Kindle as a reference tool for my classes and downloading several dictionaries. I'm also looking forward to having cookbooks on the Kindle. I will try to read a novel, and we'll see about my views on the value of that. I'm a big fan of Amazon, so I expect my experience to continue to be positive