Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Freelancing vs. Being an Employee

Let’s look at the benefits of being an employee versus being a freelancer.

As an employee:
On the plus side:
  • You have a fixed income, which gives you financial stability
  • You have colleagues to socialize with
  • You are paid regardless if there is not much to be done (e.g., during the summer)
  • You have a structured working week
  • You might look better on LinkenIn and among your peers as an employee at a company
  • You need to build your image as a reliable employee
  • You are at the whim of other people
On the down side:
  • You have no creative freedom
  • You have to deal with obnoxious colleagues/bosses
  • You are not in charge of your work schedule or working hours
  • You have to commute, which translates to wasting time in traffic
  • You worry about company politics (the company being bought up, lay-off, etc.)
  • You have a fixed income, so any additional effort or overtime is not paid for.
  • You must be careful on your social media; big brother is watching you!
As a freelancer:

On the plus side:
  • You can choose your customers and get easily get rid of “bad” ones
  • You meet a lot of companies (and managers) in various industries
  • Each customer opens a new world of knowledge and opportunities
  • You can hone your skills due to new challenges that you encounter with each new client
  • You can leverage your knowledge and experience to the maximum
  • You do not have to put up with obnoxious colleagues or bosses
  • You manage your own work, working schedule and working hours
  • No need to commute; unless you opt for an in-house project
  • You can use social media to your own advantage and that of your clients
On the down side:
  • Your income varies month to month (unless you are able to get retainers)
  • You need to hunt for project/customers
  • You need to track payments, which involves administration
  • You need to balance your input with what you are paid for: any additional efforts you make are freebies
  • Every hour you don’t work, is “loss of income”

Once thing that is often overlooked: you get a lot more respect as a freelancer than an employee and you also treated better. Clients are aware that as a freelancer, you can walk away from a project at any moment. As an employee, they can treat you anyway they like…they know you are not likely to quit!
Freelancing is great if you are organized and disciplined. If you are the kind of person that likes to be around people, chitchat and have coffee and lunch klatches – freelance is not the way for you to go.
But if you are a creative, organized, disciplined person that likes to juggle multiple projects and be in control of you own work and time – freelancing is the way to go!

(Debra Daumier is currently happily working as a freelance technical and marketing writer. Previously, she worked in various B2B companies. She is also a published fiction writer. She is a member of the Freelancer Union. Please feel free to connect via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Obama and the Death Star

The White House is facing many problems: the fiscal cliff, the Syrian civil war and the Iranian nuclear threat to name just a few.

It is far less known that the Obama Administration created a “We the People” petition system. Any petition initiated by an ordinary citizen that garners 25,000 signatures within 30 days, requires an official White House response. Needless to say, White House staff had to deal with a lot of petitions including those concerning  Piers Morgan and MPAA chief Chris Dodd.

But the most hilarious one is for sure the petition created on Nov. 14, 2012, demanding that the Obama Administration “secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016.” It earned 34,435 signatures, more than enough to force a White House response, which was posted to the White House Petitions website. Paul Shawcross, Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget, responded as follows.  

The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn’t on the horizon.”

Citing a Lehigh University study that calculated that a Death Star would cost a deficit-exploding $852,000,000,000,000,000 ($852 quadrillion), Shawcross notes that "the Obama Administration does not support blowing up planets."
He also points out that it would be foolhardy to build a space station "with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship."

He concludes by encouraging the petitioners to pursue a career in a science, technology, or math-related field, declaring that anyone who does so embraces the power of the Force: "Remember, the Death Star’s power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force." Ita est!


Friday, January 18, 2013

Paperless Library Coming to You Soon!

Let’s face it – in the era of paperless and e-books, it was only a matter of time before a library to go bookless.

San Antonio Bexar County will be the first to open its doors to the first bookless public library. There will be plenty of books – just not the tangible ones, but e-books.

The library will open its doors in Fall 2013. Readers will be able to roam the 4,989 square-foot space. This library is the brainchild of Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, who claims that he got the brainwave after reading Walter  Issacson's Steve Jobs biography.

The library will not feature the traditional aisles of books, but instead will boast aisles of computers and gadgets. At the start, the library will facilitate 100 e-readers for circulation and to take out, According to the library, it will also have 50 e-readers for children, 50 computer stations, 25 laptops and 25 tablets on site.

"We all know the world is changing. I am an avid book reader. I read hardcover books; I have a collection of 1,000 first editions. Books are important to me," stated Wolff . "But the world is changing and this is the best, most effective way to brin g services to our community."

Library visitors will be able to take out books on any of the devices in the library. They will be able to take out any of the 50 e-readers for a period of time. They will also be able to bring their own e-readers to the library for loading books onto their own devices. The library will also be partnering with e-book providers or distributors to provide access to over 10,000 titles.

However, the provider(s) of equipment, including e-readers, has not been decided yet.
Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble are known to offer services on their respective e-readers which work at libraries.

However, the library will not be completely paperless. As Wolff stated: "the only thing I believe we will charge for, is if you want to print out something. We will charge for the copies you would want to print out."

What do you think – is this a great development? Or, like me, would you miss leafing through (hard copy) books? Please let me know!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sales of Pippa Middleton's Party-planning Book Fall Flat

Pippa Middleton penned a party-planning book “Celebrate: AYear of British Festivities For Families And Friends”. The book only ranked #177 on the Amazon best-selling book list.

Publisher Penguin invested heavily in publicity and paid a whopping £400,000 in advance to Ms. Middleton the Younger.

To boost sales, Penguin discounted the book from £25 to £12.50. Up till now, it only sold around 2,000 copies in its first week.

On Amazon's US list, the book ranked #303 in the book charts.

At the launch of her book, PM stated: "I just feel really fortunate to be able to build a career as a writer."

Not everybody agrees that she is a writer. Critics deemed her 416-page book to be “banal”.

One reviewer wrote: "You would think, with the amount of PR and media interest in the author of this book that she might have written her book carefully, or perhaps even taken some expert advice.”

"For reasons best known to Miss Middleton, she has traveled the globe, shamelessly promoting an unbelievable pile of rubbish. The book is uninspiring, verging on insulting."

On the bright side, she is in good company. Many big names have flopped with books before. Alec Baldwin’s book “A Promise to Ourselves:a Journey through Fatherhood” only sold 12 copies, raking in the grand total of £175.01.

Note to all writers: if possible, make sure that you get that book advance in full!

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Doctor's Orders 2013

Q: Doctor, I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life. Is this true?
A: Heart only good for so many beats, and that it... Don't waste on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up heart not makes you live longer; it like saying you extends life of car by driving faster. Want to live longer? Take nap.

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?
A: Oh no. Wine made from fruit. Brandy distilled wine that means they take water out of fruity bit so you get even more of goodness that way. Beer also made of grain. Bottom up!

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?
A: Well, if you have body and you have fat, your ratio one to one. If you have two body, your ratio two to one.

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?
A: Can't think of single one, sorry. My philosophy: No pain...good!

Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?
A: YOU NOT LISTENING! Food fried in vegetable oil. How getting more vegetable be bad?

Q : Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?
A: Oh no! When you exercise muscle, it get bigger. You should only be doing sit-up if you want bigger stomach.

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?
A: You crazy?!? HEL-LO-O!! Cocoa bean! Another vegetable! It best feel-good food around!

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?
A: If swimming good for figure, explain whale to me.

Q: Is getting in shape important for my lifestyle?
A: Hey! 'Round' is shape!

Well... I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.

And remember:
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO-HOO, what a ride!!"


For those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies.

1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans...

5. The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

What’s in a Name? A Lot - including Legal Complications

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as swe

Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)
Well, that may be so, but names are very personal. Parents normally give it a lot of consideration what they want to name their offspring. In the US, that’s quite straightforward. This has its downside – famous children have to go through life which first names such as “Moon Unit”, “Apple” and “Aleph”. Not all countries are as liberal as the US.

In Sweden "Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb111163” (pronounced Albin) was submitted by a child's parents in protest of the naming law and was rejected. The parents later submitted "A" (also pronounced Albin) as the child's name which was also rejected. Other rejected names include Metallica, Superman, Veranda, Ikea and Elvis. Funny enough, accepted names include Google (as a middle name) and Lego.

In Germany, the child’s first name must indicate the child’s gender and must not negatively affect the well being of the child. Many German parents prefer to give their traditional names such as Maximilian, Alexander, Marie and Sophie. “Matti” was rejected for a boy because it didn't indicate gender. However, approved names for boys include "Legolas" and "Nemo".

In China, babies must be named based on the ability of computer scanners to read those names on national identification cards. Numbers and non-Chinese symbols and characters are not allowed. Furthermore, Chinese characters that can not be represented on the computer are not allowed, which limits them to 13,000 out of 70,000 Chinese characters. “Wang @" was therefore rejected, although the parents chose it since the @ symbol in Chinese is pronounced "ai-ta" which is very similar to a phrase that means "love him."

A similar issue emerged in Iceland. A teenager is suing thegovernment since her given name “Blaer” (which means “light breeze” in Icelandic) was rejected since it is not in the list of 1,712 male names and 1,853 female names officially allowed. In Iceland, given names are significant since everyone is listed in the phone book by their first names. Even the president, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, is addressed simply as Olafur. Furthermore, names such as Cara, Carolina, Cesil, and Christa have been rejected since the letter "c'' is not part of Iceland's 32-letter alphabet.

Will Blaer be successful? I hope so!

(Image courtesy of crazyyetwise)