Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: writers

Don’t believe everything a machine tells you

One of my bookkeeping clients received the following missive from the Canada Revenue Agency:

Re: Source deductions arrears
      Balance:  $0.00

Thank you for your recent payment of $-,—.–. (there were actual numbers on those blanks which I shall not reveal for reasons of client confidentiality.) This has reduced your account, but you still have an outstanding balance of $0.00.

We would appreciate it if you would pay this amount within 14 days.

This was obviously a computer-generated letter. Too bad that whoever developed the software didn’t endow it with the ability to compute that a balance owing of $0.00 means the account is paid in full.

Of course, those of us who are not machines but highly-spilled writers would never make mistakes like that.

Would we?

The Malwarebytes fiasco

I started using the free version of Malwarebytes some years ago when my anti-virus program didn’t seem to be catching everything. I would run a scan with MWB every now and then and often it would pick up a couple of problems and delete them.

They kept telling me how much more the premium version would do for me, so I finally bit a little over a year ago. It quietly worked away in the background, causing me no trouble and hopefully doing me some good. I didn’t really know what it was doing, but I felt just a little more secure knowing it was there.

Until last Saturday, January 27. I started my computer and everything was extremely sluggish. Programs were slow to load and didn’t want to work. I rebooted the computer a half dozen times and the problem only seemed to get worse. Sometimes the monitor stayed black, sometimes the cursor was oncoperative. I finally shut the computer down and made plans to take it to the computer hospital today.

Then I heard from a friend that the problem was a botched Malwarebytes update. I booted the computer up yesterday afternoon and everything returned to normal. Alls well that ends well, right?

Wrong. My confidence in Malwarebytes has dropped to near zero. You see, it is one thing to find and fix a technical error, but the problem is not resolved until you can convince your customers that you know why the problem occurred and have taken steps that will ensure it does not happen again.

Does Malwarebytes even know that they are dealing with people? Students who have reports and projects with a deadline, business people with deadlines to meet, writers with deadlines to meet, other people who were counting on using their computers to communicate with others or complete some project? I am a bookkeeper with month end deadlines for governement reports for my clients. I was counting on Saturday being a big day to get a lot of that done. Instead I had to turn my attention to tasks that didn’t require a computer, and weren’t nearly as urgent.

Meanwhile, all that we have heard from Malwarebytes is an online posting that the problem has been fixed. There is a lack of comprehension here. One technical glitch has been fixed. The real problem has not. Why should I be paying for a program that will put my computer out of service? That question has not been answered.

Can somebody reccommend a dependable alternative?

Robins and skunks on O’Malley Road

robin-941052_1280

The songbirds are back: robins, meadowlarks and others – spring has come to Saskatchewan. Sometimes we can even tell it by the weather. Last Saturday was a beautiful sunny day with a high of 22° Celsius. That would be 72° in Americanese. This morning the ground was white again for several hours and the high for the day was 2°.

This is also tax season. The personal income tax deadline is April 30, but that falls on a Saturday which makes Monday May 2 the actual deadline. I am busy getting last years books in order for my business bookkeeping clients to take to their tax accountants. I only do a few personal tax returns, mostly for seniors. Last week that led to meeting two delightful ladies, both of them 90 years old and still going strong.

Saturday I attended a Christian writers’ “wordshop” in Saskatoon. This is an opportunity to get together with other writers for mutual encouragement and to hear talks that hopefully inform and inspire us to persevere, write and publish. It is also an opportunity to buy books from our fellow writers – I came home with five.

skunk-1239764_1280

For years we have been having problems with creatures resembling the cute little guy above getting under our mobile home. Most of the time they are quiet, inoffensive neighbours. There have been a couple of times when some other creature troubled them and we had to leave home for a few hours to let the resulting aroma dissipate.

I think we are dealing with one persistent pair. We have tried various means to let them know they are not welcome and/or to evict them. We try to limit ourselves to methods that will not cause unpleasant olfactory results for ourselves. Saturday we set up an ultrasonic sound generator that is supposed to drive them bonkers and make them want to escape.

Today one of them ventured out of the hole under the skirting of the trailer and into  the awaiting cage trap. They are not supposed to be able to spray when confined in this small cage, but our son-in-law had to step lively to avoid a direct hit when he came to take our guest away. One down, one more to go. At least I hope that is all there is.

 

Mission statement for writers

I confess that I am quite cynical about the term “mission statement.” In my experience in the business world, a mission statement is an exercise in public relations where management attempts to come down on the right side of every hot button issue of the day. Creating a mission statement has generally been an exercise in creative writing, not a serious attempt to redefine the values that will guide corporate decisions in the future.

Neverthtypewriter-584696_1280eless, when I attended the recent Christian writers workshop and listened to Janice Dick advocate that writers create a mission statement for their work something clicked in my mind. Jan has published four books of historical fiction and I think she might just know something that hadn’t occurred to me before.

Creating a mission statement will help a writer clarify his thinking, decide just what his goal is, and direct his activities towards that goal. If a writer works in different formats and genres the mission statement will probably need to be tweaked and fine-tuned for each project. Here are the five questions that Jan suggested to help us create our mission statement (with my additions in brackets).

1. What do I do? (Am I a historian? a business writer? a story teller? an apologist? a fiction writer? a devotional writer? a doctrinal writer? etc., etc.)

2. How do I do it? (How much research is needed? Where do I get my inspiration?)

3. What is the value of what I do?

4. Who am I doing it for? (Is my target audience children? teens? young adults? seniors? believers? seekers? skeptics? mothers? teachers? etc. etc.)

5. What do I believe and why? (My faith does not need to be on display in every word that I write, but a lack of integrity will make my writing weak and ineffective.)

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