As I prepared to receive a new desktop computer, I realized it was a great time for pruning hardware and electric gadgets, as well as software—at least versions that were no longer relevant. This project revealed challenges that could have been avoided if I had simply reviewed my operations periodically. Other issues appeared unexpectedly, as during the review of book manuscripts.
OFFICE CONTENTS AND ARRANGEMENT
While I awaited the arrival of my techie and her latest construction of a desktop computer, I examined the contents and arrangement of my office. Due to the wiring in the room, I was not able to arrange the furniture and equipment as I would have preferred, but everything is now functional and relatively aesthetically pleasing.
How appropriate are your office furnishings to your daily tasks? Would a simple change in your desk chair or adding a recliner enhance your working hours? If adding new pieces, consider using an L-shape to improve your work flow. I have a multi-level rolling table that I place alternately in front of chairs or perpendicular to my desk. I’ve found secondhand residential and office furniture stores, as well as retail stores that are closing, offer useful pieces with lift-up leaves and chair-side tables with electric strips. And don’t forget that shelving, craft, lap-top, and even puzzle tables can greatly expand functionality within a tight space.
Are there greater elements that you should spend the time and money to upgrade? Lighting is especially important to artists. Would louvres or other window covering improve productivity? What about adding a skylight or other lighting enhancement? I removed closet’s clothing bars and added shelving to accommodate office supplies and equipment (a process that can be reversed if needed). Are there other construction, floor covering, or painting projects you should consider undertaking? Depending on whether you take a tax deduction for your office, or you plan to sell your property, such expenditures may be appropriate. A tax professional can help you evaluate such options.
UPDATING HARDWARE AND ELECTRONIC GADGETS
The world of technology is constantly evolving. Some emerging products are truly wonderful. Others, not so much. As with most authors, data storage is a major concern for me. With the arrival of each new product in the marketplace, the public is assured that we will never have to worry about the loss of information again. That’s proven to be about as real as the promise that the modern office does not need paper. But the need for varied forms of backups and even paper printouts continues. You may laugh, but I still have some files stored on floppy diskettes. Why? Because zip discs, CDs, DVDs, and even thumb drives can fail...probably at the worst possible moment. Sadly, I have sometimes failed to backup material, or to print out invaluable data I could not replace fully.
Here are examples of the unfortunate experiences of two colleagues to which you might relate. One of them spent months restructuring two books because when her computer crashed, she did not have printed copies of her manuscripts nor any other form of electronic backup. Another friend (very tech savvy) had a glitch occur when a thumb drive was plugged into his CPU. So, what are you doing to safeguard your precious words and images? I trust that you have multiple forms of data storage, as well as hardcopy backups. I believe the major issue in updating hardware is having the input of a techie who truly knows you, your needs, your technical capability, and the spectrum of features available in the products that you are about to purchase.
Another issue I face is checking the synchronization of various electronic gadgets. Most important to me was ensuring that my tablet was in sync with my desktop computer. First there was the matter of passwords. For me that’s simple, because unless I’m travelling, I minimize the use of passwords. Encryption is another issue, and again, I suggest you confer with a techie who can provide consistent advice.
Next are phones. You may laugh at the idea of hardline phone service, but if there is ever a major power outage, a cell phone will only be serviceable as long as the last charge it received. Therefore, our household has both hardline and cell phones. If you have been following the scandals and crimes regarding phones, you already know that your cellphone data is subject to being hacked.
Some electronic devices do not require much maintenance. This includes e-readers, since e-books can be accessed on your desktop or laptop computer, tablet and smartphone. One thing I urge you to think about is that the number of images you have stored on any device can become unmanageable and you should consider backing them up, just like your text files.
Many software companies are forcing users of their products into subscription programs to maximize their profits…and to force acceptance of changes the company wishes to foist on the public during regular updates. Personally, I’ve been very displeased with such updates that often lessen, rather than enhance, functionality.
While I greatly dislike the cost and complexity of subscription services, there’s little you can do to avoid them. Even if you have an original CD or DVD of a program, you may not be able to install it if it’s not compatible with your new operating system. As I watched this growing trend a few years ago, I rushed to buy the last versions of programs that were still available on CDs or DVDs. I recognize that eventually even these versions of programs will become obsolete as updated operating systems refuse to recognize them. But for the foreseeable future I am able to massage images that I have designed for the projects I am now undertaking.
USING THE CLOUD FOR BACKUP
Many people find the Cloud their preferred method of backup. But how do you feel about your original creations being available to sharp hackers cruising that universe? To avoid this, you can use a cloud service with patented and standardized encryption design. I should note that my designer uses Cloud services, over which I have no control. Also, remember that once you have uploaded your work to any website, it is available to the public.
In closing this article on operational organization for authors and artists, I suggest you ask yourself, “What will happen to my copyrights of material I have saved to my websites and the Cloud when I die?” Consider ensuring that you have legally stipulated beneficiaries who will receive the benefits of your labors once you have departed from this plane…