At Home with Tech

It’s time to maximize the potential of all your gadgets.

Tag: tech tips

Why I Continue to Blog Weekly after 10 Years

Posting fresh content to this blog every week has not been easy. Here’s why I continue to challenge myself to maintain my writing pace.

I started blogging At Home with Tech over 10 years ago as a way to channel some of my creative energies. At the time, home tech was a simpler product category and yet simultaneously confusing for so many people. Many of the basics weren’t well understood. I thought I could help readers by sharing my own experiences as I tried to figure out my own finicky technology.

I was the tech nerd who supposedly knew what he was doing, and even I had my gear challenges. That was the set up. So I invited my readers to join me on my journeys of discovery.

My topics broadened over time to other related areas… my photography, video time lapses, movie reviews, science fiction, goofy poetry, family mishaps with technology and well… just about anything that was on my mind. I know that’s hardly a strategic content strategy to build an audience.

But..

Building my Personal Brand
Beyond my tech-challenge-of-the-week structure, these 500 plus blog posts have provided insight into who I am and what I’ve been up to over these years. There’s often a story that leads off each post. And I’ve been mindful to ensure every post supports my individual brand.

Yes, of course I pay attention to marketing myself to the greater universe. While my posts are usually focused on my personal life as a husband and father, the topics are aligned with my professional brand as a video storyteller and leader of creative teams.

If you should Google my name, my blog shows up under my LinkedIn and other social media profiles. So, if you want to learn more about me, it’s there for you.

That’s not a terrible marketing plan.

My Organic Reach
That said, my organic distribution strategy does have limitations in finding a large audience. I track my metrics. They’re stable though not especially impressive. It’s fair to say my weekly blog maintains something of a niche audience.

Yes, some of my ‘how to’ topics have caught on and maintain a healthy number of clicks over months and sometimes years.

And yes, a number of my social media connections do click on my posts after I share them.

So I do maintain a readership.

But blogging weekly takes a fair amount of effort. And I recognize that blogs in general certainly aren’t as cooI as they once were. I could certainly redirect the time to other creative pursuits. So, what brings me back to the keyboard to push out a new post every Sunday at 8pm?

The Benefits of Blogging
First off, At Home with Tech has made me a better writer. While my style here is a bit loose, I know my weekly exercise serves me well.

Second, I must admit I get something of an endorphin hit each time I’m finished with a blog post and press that final ‘click’ to schedule it. Sharing my weekly thoughts with the world is like that first taste of your favorite birthday cake. I know I’m feeding my creative self.

Third, as I mentioned earlier, I intentionally use the topics in my blog to build my brand.

But perhaps most of all, I thrive on the feedback I receive. It’s so great to hear from strangers who’ve been impacted by my words. And it’s really nice when family and friends pop up in the feed.

Then, there are the ‘lost’ connections from my past who occasionally reach out to ‘like’ or make a comment on one of my posts.

In some ways, it’s this feedback I treasure most. I see that I haven’t entirely lost touch with these individuals. I’ve done a terrible job staying in contact with parts of my past… with people who used to be my friends and close colleagues. I regret that and often think about how to repair these lost connections.

And when I see that my blog is actually an instrument of connection to this group, and that they’ve read something I’ve written and then commented back… I’m absolutely blown away with gratitude.

Who knew that his blog could help me stay connected with people I thought I’ve entirely lost touch with?

I’ve not forgotten them, and my blog shows me that I am not forgotten either.

I am Here!
And then there’s the unknowable. Could my blog also be reaching others from my past who choose not to comment on a post? I’d like to think so.

In a sense, my blog is a beacon. So, of course I’d want to keep it lit.

Sometimes I feel a bit like one of those residents of Who-ville calling out in Dr. Seuss’ “Horton Hears a Who.”

“I am here. I am here. I am here. I am here…!”

Isn’t that exactly what many of us want to yell out from time to time?

Yes, At Home with Tech helps me do that.

Another 10 Years?
My blog is my therapy. My blog is my podium. My blog is my teacher.

It is both a time machine that helps me reach back and a totem that centers me in my present.

All of this is why I continue to write my blog.

Thank you for being a reader of At Home with Tech. I really do appreciate it.

5 Easy Ways to Upgrade your Zoom Video

If you want to look and sound better during your next Zoom meeting, don’t forget these simple best practices to present yourself in the best possible light.

It’s been over two years since Zoom saved us from pandemic isolation. Sort of. Yes, Zoom and other video conferencing platforms have been lifelines to our outside world over these many months. As life is evolving to a new normal, ‘hybrid’ is now clearly a part of that equation. That means the need to Zoom isn’t going away.

As remarkable as Zoom has been, I think everyone is exhausted. We’re cranky. We may know how to do a good Zoom. But we don’t want to. No. We don’t want to make that extra effort. Not anymore.

If you can hear my voice on Zoom, that’s enough. You don’t need to see me. And if for some reason I forget to turn off my camera, don’t expect much. If only half of my head is in the shot, that’s more than enough. If my bright window is dominating the image and obscuring my face, get used to it. It’s still me. Besides what I have to say is all that matters.

Is this perspective resonating right now? If so, I get it. You’re sick of having to show up for your close up. You didn’t sign up for this.

I know.

But let me offer this gentle reminder…

Zoom can Help You Stay Connected
Practicing good Zoom etiquette is worth it. If you want to show up in your life, then you do want to show up for your close up. It matters. If you want a seat at the table, then you’ve got to show up at the virtual table.

Turn on your webcam and follow these five best practices:

1.
Illuminate your Face
You should be facing the window… not the other way around. Please want to actually see you. Not your silhouette.

2.
Turn Off your Ceiling Light
You may think your ceiling light fixture is helping. It probably isn’t. Not if it’s directly over your head. That’s because it’s shining light down on top of you instead of in front of your face. That creates incredibly unflattering shadows. I don’t think you’re trying to audition for the next zombie movie. So turn off that ceiling light and flick on your desk lamp instead.

3.
Elevate your Webcam
Your webcam should never look up at your chin. If your shot features your ceiling, you need to raise your camera to a more perpendicular angle with your face. Simply elevate your laptop with a few books.

4.
Reduce the Headroom in your Shot
Headroom is the amount of space between the top of your head and the top of your Zoom box. I can almost guarantee that you’ve got too much headroom. There should only be a little gap. Please, tilt down your webcam. Your viewers want to see more of you, not more of your wall.

5.
Wear your Headset or Earbuds
Sure, your computer’s onboard microphone will work, but it’s too far away from your mouth to provide crisp audio. Instead, the audio has that far-away feel. That’s because the microphone is far away. Your headset mic sounds so much better. Please wear it. If you’re concerned about how your headset looks on you, then wear your earbuds or AirPods. The audio sounds that much better. Really.

Don’t Forget to Smile
Life presents unexpected twists and turns. It can be really rough. The headlines are getting any easier to consume. I know it’s sometimes hard to pull it together. But your Zooms don’t have to reflect the imbalance you may feel.

If you take a little extra effort to follow these video-conference best practices, you can better present your best self.

And if you’re doing that, I expect you’ll feel better too.

5 Easy Ways to Help your Tech Run Better 

It’s probably time to give some of your tech and digital systems a tune up. And that may mean you need to look under the hood.

The promise of home tech often contains the glow of a ‘set it and forget it’ mentality. The truth is you really shouldn’t leave anything on auto pilot for too long. (Turning on ‘auto updates’ isn’t enough.) You need to check in every so often.

No machine runs flawlessly forever, even the ones without any moving parts. Over time, they need ongoing maintenance. That can also include the digital processes you create for yourself to help organize parts of your life.

Here are five ways that your tech and digital systems can use a little tuning up right now.

#1
Clean the Lint out of your Smartphone’s Charging Port
Have you noticed that your Lightning or USB-C cable isn’t always making a solid connection with your smartphone, and sometimes you wake up to a partially charged device?

That’s because if you usually place your smartphone in your trouser pocket, the lint has slowly been building up into that tiny port. A clue that this micro invasion has occurred is when your cable no longer clicks into the port, and the connection instead feels ‘squishy.’

It’s time to take the end of a paper clip and gently pull out that mini fuzzball that’s hiding at the back end of the port. (I always turn off my iPhone first before beginning the operation.)

#2
Hurry Up and Finish Reviewing your Photos from Last Year
If you’ve got a system set up (like me) where you review and edit your photos before you share them, you’d better set aside some time to finish all that up. Last year’s photos will only retain their value for so long. Beyond archiving and photo book creation, nobody is interested in your old photos. It’s all about what happened today or yesterday (maybe last week).

Sure, having a ‘process’ to select and polish your best photos before sharing them will ensure your audience gets to see your best work, but the downside is you may not have enough time to consistently maintain your perfectionism.

If you marvel at how fast and effortlessly some of your friends share photos, that’s because their process is stripped down to three steps across fifteen seconds.

  • Snap
  • Look
  • Share
  • (Done)

It’s worth considering.

#3
Buy a New Memory Card for your Camera
Do you let all of your photos pile up in your camera’s SD card without taking the time to erase them after transferring the files elsewhere? And then do you decide that’s it’s a good idea to hold onto them as yet another file back-up strategy to protect against some future disaster recovery need?

To be clear, we should simply follow our existing back-up process and then wipe the memory card to free it up for more photo fun.

But, if you have a problem (like me) doing that, the other choice is to simply buy another SD card and start fresh in the New Year. (They’re not that expensive.)

Then, you can pop the old memory card in the drawer, quickly forget about it and then eventually lose it.

When aliens uncover the tiny card in a million years, they’ll transcode its corrupted data, pixel-approximate the missing elements and reconstitute your images. Who knew that humans had three eyes and two noses? What a beautiful family you had! Your legacy is now intact.

#4
Reorganize the Apps on your Smartphone
If you’ve been having difficulty finding certain apps on your smartphone or they’re not where you thought you left them, it’s time to take a few minutes and do a little reorganizing. That can include placing some of your apps into topic folders and perhaps pruning others you haven’t used for a while. (You can always reload them!)

Losing a few long-forgotten apps will also free up memory on your device.

#5
Do those Software Updates
Keeping all of your digital gear current with software updates is an endless process that requires a fair amount of effort and organization. And following an auto-update strategy can sometimes lead to updates that aren’t ready for prime time. I think it’s best to have your tech remind you about the updates, and then you can manually install them. You’ve just got to find the time to do it.

The Doctor is In
Admittedly, all these easy best practices are also chores that are often delayed, sometimes indefinitely.

One way to ensure that you keep up is to set aside an hour a week to handle it all. It may not be enough, but it’ll help you know what needs more attention.

Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to keeping your tech and digital systems healthy.

Otherwise you may find they’ll stop working for you when you least expe

😉

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