All posts by Mitch Mitchell

I'm an independent consultant in many fields, so I have a lot to share.

Quick Cliq

If you’re like me, you probably like using the quick launch toolbar. If you’re still like me, you start having way too many things on that toolbar, to the extent that it’s starting to take up a bunch of real estate on your monitor. That part is irksome, but the other part is wonderful. Is there another way?

This program was found by our buddy Mitchell Allen of Morpho Designs and shared with me. The site is called Apathy Networks and program is called Quick Cliq. It’s called a “launcher” program, and what it allows you to do is add “shortcuts” (I’m assuming y’all know what shortcuts are) to a menu that you access by right-clicking your mouse, pulling down slightly, then releasing, and having everything you want in your newly created menu.

I had to try this out so I downloaded the program, which comes in a Zip file, and basically there’s only the program in there as well as a couple of small text files. You open the program and then follow the instructions, which initially might seem hard but actually it’s telling you exactly what to do.

When you get the initial menu it’s pretty much a blank slate. The way you add programs to your list, at least the easy way, is to drag shortcuts off your desktop or any of your program files into the menu and there you go.

You’ll see icons at the top which, if you hover over them, tells you what each one represents. The first icon you shouldn’t have to use. The second icon allows you to create a menu of files you’d like to open that aren’t programs, and I did that by adding certain files I open all the time like my password file, some coding files, and some other files for data I track. It doesn’t care what format they are, and in this case you’re pulling the actual files instead of looking for a shortcut for those files. The third icon adds separators, which can be kind of cool but aren’t necessary.

I’d skip the 4th icon, which brings you to the next two icons. Those allow you to move the programs up and down so you can put them where you want them to be. I put the files I use often at the top, even though when you open the menu you’re normally in the middle, because I tend to look up at first almost all the time.

What it’s allowed me to do is first kill all the rows I had before except for one, then set the entire toolbar to totally disappear until I decide I need it, like when I need to reboot or want to check to see what the time is. Otherwise all my programs open fully, my wallpaper can be shown in its full glory, and I have easy access to all my favorite programs all the time with just a click, drag and release. Very neat little program indeed; oh yeah, it’s free!
 

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An End Of My Own Era – Discover Magazine

I used to subscribe to Omni Magazine, and loved it a lot. I was into alien stories and space stories and some of those scientific conspiracy theories one always heard about back then. It was the days of X-Files and I loved it all, even if I didn’t quite believe it all.

Then one month I got a notice saying they were discontinuing publication of the magazine and I was sad. I had just re-upped my subscription a couple of months earlier and thought that maybe I’d be getting some money back. But these folks never give you back your money. Instead, the letter said they were going to start sending me a replacement magazine, Discovericon. This was December 1995.

I love Discover magazine. I think some of the smartest people in the world must read it because the comments I see every month cover some topics that just leave my mouth wide open. And the commenters aren’t all PH.D’s either, just “regular” people that happen to know a lot about certain things.

I always felt smarter for reading Discover. It’s amazing the things you can learn. I was always drawn to the astronomy stuff, galaxies, string theory, warp speed, that sort of thing. I always read all the medical stuff and have been fascinated with the progress that’s been made over the years in the study of the brain.

Yes, I’m talking about the magazine in the past tense because after almost 16 years I’m letting my subscription lapse. This is a hard decision for me because I still love the magazine a lot. But you see that picture above? Those are magazines that I’ve yet to get to and I have a few more than I discovered after taking that photo. And the funny thing is that I’ve just finished reading two other Discover magazines and still have tons left.

As I’ve mentioned in the past I tend to speed read. Some articles in this magazine I still can do that, but others take time to get through. I also have other magazines that tend to be more pertinent to things I do, such as PC World, HealthLeaders, and a couple others. All of that and the time I spend on my computer and consulting in general doesn’t leave much time for such an indepth magazine any longer.

Why am I writing about this? Two reasons actually. The first is because I love the magazine and I would recommend it to anyone that has a love for science in general.

The second is because there’s a lesson here. Sometimes we have to let go of things we love when they’re counter productive to the rest of our lives. A magazine subscription might seem like a minor thing to some, but 16 years is still 16 years. In the past I’ve talked about the need to declutter one’s life sometimes to push forward. It’s hard to declutter when you’re still bringing new clutter into the house, even if it’s pretty or somewhat functional. It can be harder to give that up for something better, which, in my case, will be time devoted to other things. And if I really need a fix I’ll just see what they’re offering online.

What have you tried to give up lately to push forward? Go ahead, share.
 

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Discount Panda Updates? Not Me!

This is what happens when you don’t keep up on things. I’d almost missed that Google had put through another Panda update in October. The first time they did something like that most of my blogs took a tumble, but overall it wasn’t all that bad. However, this time it’s taken direct aim at my biggest money making site.


by Richard Elzey via Flickr

I’ve talked about my site Medical Billing Answers before. It’s been generating close to $300 a month in Adsense revenue, and with the other money I’ve been earning from other sites, which isn’t much, I’d been feeling pretty good. I want it to be higher but I figured that time would help push it along.

In early October it’s earnings were right on pace and I went on to start dealing with other things. With a week to go in the month I went to look again and noticed that things had dropped off sharply, and that I might not even make $200 for the month. I did, but barely. Not only that, but I ended up not getting paid my September money, which was greatly irksome.

On that front Google did eventually send out a notice to everyone talking about their glitch and saying that most of us would get that money and our October money at the same time in November; I’m still holding my breath on that one. However, almost halfway through the month and I’ve barely passed the halfway point towards $100; what the hey?

This is the part I don’t understand. My site on medical billing issues was doing very well, and suddenly, after what I believe is its third alteration, Panda decides it has no real authority after all? And just like that it affects my income that drastically? Is that fair?

Actually, it has nothing to do with fair I suppose, but reality. I haven’t added much new to that site in about 3 months, and maybe that’s the issue with Panda; no new activity, it stops sending people your way. These days everything seems to be about activity, kind of like the topic I touched upon when I wrote about blogging frequency. I mean, while traffic on my medical billing site has fallen 32% over the last month, traffic on this site has increased 7%, on my business blog it’s up 9%, and my finance blog is also up 8%. These are sites that I’ve kept up consistently new content. The oddity is my SEO blog, which is showing a decrease of 13%, even though I have a new post every 3 days there.

I’m irked that my income stream has been interrupted, yet I also think there’s something that I should have been able to do to keep it coming in. Do I start another blog? Ugh! Nope, that’s not going to happen. I guess I just have to try to make sure to add something new there at least once a month to see if that helps get its steam back. It does prove the overall need to diversify income streams, even online. Still, I’m not happy about it overall.
 

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My Colonoscopy Story

Yesterday I had to have a colonoscopy. For those that don’t live in the United States, it’s recommended that once someone reaches 50 that they have one to verify they don’t have colon cancer and to check for other stuff. I at least got to defer for a couple of years since I rarely go see my doctor for a checkup, but I finally got cornered so it was my turn.

Now, these are fairly common, but there can be issues here and there. They do knock you out, and you do risk a perforated colon, internal bleeding, and a couple of other things. So you can’t just shrug it off and say it’s nothing to worry about, though for the most part it’s relatively safe.

My issue is that I couldn’t get any real information from anyone as to just what could happen being diabetic. You have to fast, and with the medications I take, I’m supposed to have food with them. So, what would happen to me going through the process? That’s the main reason I made the video.

But there’s a few things I didn’t mention in the video while trying to keep it under 15 minutes. For one, By 4PM of the day I was fasting I started getting this massive headache, and that stayed with me almost the rest of the night. I couldn’t take almost anything for it because I wasn’t eating, though my wife did give me an Advil eventually and that took the edge off it.

I was really hungry all day, but wasn’t so hungry the day of the procedure for whatever reason. I still craved pizza, though we had fried rice instead since it was much lighter. That’s their recommendation, eat light and get used to eating again, so I ate small portions pretty much every hour because I was really hungry; today I’m getting my pizza! 🙂

They will ask you over and over what your name is, what your date of birth is, the last 4 digits of your social security number and what you’re having done. Initially I worried they didn’t know what they were doing until I realized that it’s a safety procedure that they’ve put into place to make sure that physicians won’t be doing the wrong procedures anymore, what with all those errors in Florida some years ago. They also kept asking me what I was allergic to.

After the procedure you’ll expel a lot of gas, and that makes them happy. This is one of those “dignity” things I mentioned in the video. There’s stuff we wouldn’t walk around doing in public that they’re expecting you to do. Thing is, there’s no smell because your entire system is cleaned out, and what they’ve done is pushed a bunch of air into your body through your rectum so it has to come out. And be thankful it’s coming out, otherwise you’re going to get cramped and it’s going to hurt. I had that problem during the virtual colonoscopy in the x-ray department, where you’re not under anesthesia and just have to lay there and take it. That’s when you’re on either your side or back; once you roll over onto your stomach, since they take the views from 3 directions, even adding more air wasn’t bad at all.

One last thing. In the video I said that I came out of the anesthesia pretty easily. Most of that is true. I felt clear headed and knew exactly what I was saying and what was going on. I even felt that if I’d had to I could have driven home, which it turns out is illegal once you’ve had anesthesia in New York for at least the day. However, when I had to get up and get into the wheelchair, I found that I wasn’t okay at all, and luckily I didn’t just try to force myself into the chair because I’d have fallen and the nurse wasn’t close to big enough to have held me up if I’d gone down. So, always respect the anesthesia.

I also mentioned that I was given propofol, the same stuff Michael Jackson was given by that doctor. Let me tell you, I understand why he would have wanted this stuff. Although I wasn’t happy with the pressure my head felt when it started to take effect, I feel like I slept well in that short period of time, and I ever dreamed; I’ve never dreamed while under anesthesia before. In its proper dosage it’s wonderful stuff, but I can also tell why one should never, and I mean ever, use it at home.

That’s all I have other than the video below, but if you have any other questions go ahead and ask. This is one of those things that, as younger people we avoid talking about because it kind of scares us, but once you reach the proper age you’re probably going to have to go through. At least I’m telling you what might be coming.


 

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Why You Need To Focus Your Knowledge

Yesterday I went to a medical billing program that I put together. The presenter is someone very knowledgeable on her subject, so I figured this was going to work out great.


by Ariel Cruz via Imagekind

Things started out well enough but quickly fell apart. It wasn’t that her knowledge was all that much in question, however. It’s that her presentation wasn’t really focused and sharp.

The problem was that she knew exactly what it was she wanted to get across, but she kept crossing information that was totally confusing me. And because I’m the type of guy who will ask questions when confused, I kept stopping her and making her clarify what she was saying. I was really confused for the first hour, and I’ve been doing this type of thing for almost 30 years.

At the break I had the opportunity to talk to a few people. I mentioned how confused I was and that maybe I was taking everything she was saying literally. Each person responded that they also had been confused and that maybe she should have broken up what she had to say so that each facet had its own time instead of trying to mix messages on the same slides. I had to agree, and felt it was a shame that others were confused as well.

After her part of the presentation her co-worker came to do his presentation. His was a bit more focused, when suddenly his terminology changed. Well, that’s not quite accurate; what he did was start using a word in a much different way than I’ve always heard it used. Me being me, I called him on it, and he wasn’t able to give me a proper answer. I let it go until the lunch break, when I went up to him and explained myself, and then he agreed and said he saw it in a slightly different way depending on the topic. The problem of course is that everyone else in the room saw it the same way I did, so he’d kind of lost his audience for awhile as well.

One of the reasons I always start with an outline whenever I’m asked to give a presentation is because I want to make sure that I get my points covered in the order I want to do them. This was point one on my post last week about giving live presentations. Sharing knowledge with others doesn’t really work when you’re all over the place. And trust me, the people in that room were pretty smart already, yet most of us ended up in a fog.

That’s why whenever I’m doing a tutorial of some kind on this blog I give the step by step processes of what I did. Or whenever I put together a list post I make sure to address each particular point before moving on to the next one, and if it’s a procedural list I make sure it’s in order.

Sometimes when we know stuff it’s hard to contain ourselves when we want to share it with others. We all need to learn how to direct our information so that we inform rather than confuse. At least I got handouts. 🙂
 

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