Life Moves Forward

I don’t have too much to write about this evening, but it has been far too long since I’ve blogged.

Valen, our new computer, is doing well, and both Annie and I are enjoying it immensely. Annie has been playing Lord of the Rings Online with her nephew, and I’ve been playing Minecraft with my brothers, cousins and nephew.

Other than playing video games, Annie and I are reaching the end of the fourth season of Babylon 5, and to say that she has become a little invested in the characters would be an understatement. Annie and I continue to host evenings at our place for Merlin night, where two of our family come over and we do dinner and watch two or three episodes of the BBC’s Merlin.

Our kitchen now has counters. Once we have the dishwasher hooked up, then all we will be waiting for is the laundry to be set-up and we will consider the house to be one hundred percent livable.

Married life is going well and things between Annie and I haven’t changed. We continue to be super happy with each other, and look forward to many years together. Annie just recently upgraded her phone to a Samsung Galaxy S5, and now has the most powerful phone in both the household and likely her family. She got a really great deal on it, and it’ll likely be our last large purchase until around Christmas.

Scream A Little Dream has now had over 2,000 views on YouTube, and continues to rise. I’m hopeful that the other episodes will do as well.

I have nearly a dozen projects that I’d like to work on, but I’m a bit deadlocked due to indecision. I’d really like to find the time and focus to work on the second draft of Second Class Supers, but it requires Annie and I to set aside time and right now, neither of us have been good at that.

I want to leave another thank you to those that came to our wedding, and those that gave so generously. Both Annie and I really appreciate it!

Valen: New Desktop Computer

300r_hero_down_1Annie and I recently bought a new desktop computer. Annie’s laptop has been creating dying electronic purple smoke and will die any day now. We need two computers in our household, and we both want to be able to game a bit more, so a decent desktop was a smart choice for us.

Ravenclaw, my MacBook Pro is now primarily Annie’s computer, while Valen, our new desktop is primarily mine. We swap based on need, and it has been going well so far.

Thanks to the gifts that people gave us for our wedding, we were basically able to find a way to afford the system. I took my time picking out different components to try to maximize performance for a minimum cost. I checked with people on Reddit before pulling the trigger, and the only comment I received was that the power supply was more than I needed, so I was super excited to order it.

For those that are interested:

  • Corsair Carbide Series 300R Black Gaming Case
  • AMD FX-6300 6 Core Processor
  • ASUS M5A99X Evo R2.0 ATX AM3+ 990X Motherboard
  • Gigabyte Radeon HD R9 270X OC 1100MHZ 2GB Video Card
  • Corsair Vengeance Heatspreader 8GB 2X4GB DDR3-2133
  • Intel 120GB 530 Series SSD
  • Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB SATA Hard Drive
  • Thermaltake TR2 700w Power Supply

It took a bit to get the computer parts as the SSD for the system wasn’t highly stocked, but I’m glad I waited for it as I hope it will be a durable, long lasting system. NCIX was awesome as always, and for the first time, I live close enough to pick things up from there.

Annie built the computer, with very little help from me. It was really cool to watch her put it all together, though I was a bit sad as I enjoy building them too. We already had a monitor for the computer, as well as a mouse and speakers. The only other thing we had to pick up was a keyboard, and I chose a Logitech K120 as usual, since I don’t like wireless peripherals.

We’ve installed a ton of games onto the computer, and it is super fast. I am really enjoying using it, and so is Annie. She recently started playing Lord of the Rings Online and is both enjoying it, and being frustrated by it. I’ve only really used the computer to play Minecraft so far, and it is already our new media center for watching Netflix and hosting our Merlin nights.

Married Man

So, many of you already know this, but on the weekend, Annie and I got married. It was a beautiful ceremony, and almost everything went off without a hitch. Annie and I both wrote about our experiences on our wedding blog.

The Big Day – Annie’s Perspective
The Big Day – David’s Perspective

We had a great time, and I’m totally looking forward to us getting all of our images from everyone as the day was over so quickly and I don’t want to forget any of it.

I haven’t been writing on here as I’ve been working on organizing the wedding, and I recently started a new project that isn’t totally ready for prime time yet.

I hope everyone reading this is doing well. I feel like I’ve been a bit isolated lately, so I’m looking forward to getting back on here and elsewhere online.

What Do I Do Now?

I’ve had a few people ask me what exactly I do now so I figured I’d write up a quick summary. As Communications Manager at Envirotech Office Systems, I’ll be responsible for the following:

Strategic Planning

Each Tuesday, I’ll be in meetings almost all day as I show the progress I’ve made, and help management determine the best strategies going forward. I’ll be working with a branding company that has been brought on as a growth accelerator as well as the President of Envirotech, to try to make the most out of my days, weeks, months and years.

Website

I’ve started with the fundamentals, making changes to the CSS, content, organization, and really fleshing things out. I’ve also been working on bettering their call to action on various pages. They are ranking well on Google for some terms, but not so great for others, so I’ll be doing some SEO work to try to improve their rankings. They want to see a pretty large increase in overall traffic this year.

Blog

I’ll hopefully be working with a company soon to convert their blog from Joomla to WordPress including both content and design, but I also have to produce content. I will hopefully be sourcing a few freelance writers to help with content generation as I focus on managing the writers, editing their posts, promoting the content, and sourcing imagery for the various blog posts created.

Online Advertising

They are currently spending money on advertising, and I’ll be working with another person in the office to sort things out and make their online advertising more focused and cost effective. They also want to explore banner advertising in the near future.

Online Showroom

I am working on refining their online showroom concept, an area that gives people a better idea of the products available from Envirotech. This is one of the many areas that is expected from used office furniture dealers, and while Envirotech is primarily a re-manufactured office furniture company, the online showroom is where a great deal of traffic currently ends up.

Social Media Accounts

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+ are all places that Envirotech wants to be as they covet the attention and potential draw of social media. They were working with a small marketing agency before to do some of this, and they have started me off on good footing, but there is still lots of work to be done.

Branding on Third Party Websites

Outside of social media, there are a number of sites that mention our address and other contact details, but since the companies move less than two years ago, they haven’t had all of those mentions updated. That’s just one of many things on third party, non-social media, websites that I’ll be responsible for.

Basic Graphic Design

They’ve purchased a subscription to Creative Cloud for me under the photography deal that Adobe had. This has allowed me to do some basic Photoshop and Lightroom work for them already. I will continue to be someone they come to for simple image editing, understanding that it isn’t my expertise, but that I’m in the office and can turn things around quickly, if it is in my wheelhouse.

Photography and Videography

With products for sale, and projects being completed, Envirotech wants more and better photography of the things they have available and the work they have done, and with my limited skills, I’ll be filling that gap as well. I’ve already been walking around the huge showroom to try to learn the ins and outs of large product photography.

Training Sales Staff on Marketing and Social Media

Once I’m settled in, and things are going well, I’ve been asked to train the sales team a few basics relating to social media, and I am hoping that they’ll be able to help me from time to time, once they are trained, with pushing out great content for people to read and share. They are the true experts in their industry, and I hope to be able to help them bridge the divide and reduce the number of potential mistakes.

Conclusion
So for now, I have a huge and varied schedule. I’ve been focusing on the things I’m really good at, in hopes of really improving the overall online marketing situation for Envirotech. There is probably enough work to be done for three of me, but I’m working at keeping my head above water the best I can.

Learning and Honing Skills

At my new job, I’m definitely learning new things as well as honing the skills I’ve already built. There is so much work for me to do here, but I’m happy to say that I’m getting more comfortable fast. There are a number of things I’ve already been able to do. Most of my job this week is to fix the fundamentals. The marketing team they had working here was great for setting some things up, but they were acting a little in a silo, and haven’t got to hear all the things I have from management and key stakeholders.

I have big shoes to fill with this job, and there are high expectations. I am hoping to see progress through my efforts. Most of what I’m trying to do won’t show results for the next few months. I haven’t felt so much stress for a long while, and while I’m not the best at handling stress, I’m excited about what I could do for this company. I have to admit that I was hoping my job was more management, training and facilitating, but I’m definitely also having to execute on everything.

There are opportunities to help train the sales staff, and work with freelancers to help with various actions relating to marketing and social media. Doing everything I’m doing right now makes me want to write about social media marketing, SEO and content management again. I forgot how passionate I can be about these topics.

First Week at Envirotech Office Systems

So, I’ve made it through my first week, and have started into my second one. There are people surprised I’ve made it to this point as the position I’m in is one with a lot of responsibilities and stress, but I’m determined to help Envirotech, and see so much opportunity within this organization.

Last week, I spent most of my time learning. I suffered from three days of solid information overload as I got up to speed on where things were currently sitting, all the ins-and-outs of this business, and what the key stakeholders are looking for from me.

Today, I finally was able to finish my first of many blog posts and publish it live on their site. Entitled, Why Aeron Chairs are Highly Desirable, it is available on their blog. Their site uses Joomla as its content management system, and that’s not something I’ve used before, so to be able to iterate fast, I’ll probably start by converting the blog over to WordPress sometime in the near future.

I’ve also been able to start taking liberties with their website, making the changes I think are important. Lastly, I’ve been working on trying to get a snapshot of where they currently sit in rankings and whatnot so that I can prove that my efforts are creating improvements over time.

There is so much work for me to do that I wish there were two or three of me.

A huge thanks goes out to all those that have been supportive in this transition. I can’t explain how much I’ve missed the team at rocketgenius, but I’m also excited about what I might be able to do for Envirotech.

Catching Up With Jeff Chandler

Last night I spent around four hours catching up with Jeff Chandler on a Google Hangout that he hosted. It was casual, and others dropped in and out pushing the conversation towards different things.

Jeff and I reminisced about the good old days where we used to do WordPress Weekly together, and discussed what it is like to be a remote worker. It was great catching up with him. It made me miss working with him, and he’s definitely matured over the last few years. I really enjoyed the conversation. Apparently, it was the third or fourth such late night Hangout.

If you haven’t heard me talk about Jeff before, I recommend you check out the WP Tavern, the website he helps operate. He’s a great guy, and I hope he continues to have success. I also hope to get back on WordPress Weekly sometime soon to chat with him, just like the good old days.

E-Bike Interest

With the realization that my new job is only twelve kilometers (7.5 miles) from home, I’ve started looking at biking options to get there and back on better weather days. Living in Halton Hills, the name fits the location, and I’d have to deal with some rolling hills no matter which direction I take to get out of town.

Add to that, the knowledge that I’ll mostly have to drive on the gravel surface along the roads to stay safe from the transport trucks that drive like maniacs, and I’m looking at a decent mountain bike or hybrid bike versus a lighter city bike.

If I pick up a mountain bike, and peddle at a reasonable speed, I could make it to work in less than three quarters of an hour (45 mins). This would be great exercise for me, and would make days easier for both Annie and I as we continue to be a one vehicle family. Continue reading

Last Day at rocketgenius

Today was my last full day at rocketgenius. I’ll be doing a few things this weekend to help out before I start my new job on Monday.

The last two weeks weren’t anything too special. I said goodbye to a few folks, but otherwise just did my job the best I could, and focused on finishing up some projects and assigned support tickets.

I can’t even explain how much I’m going to miss the team at rocketgenius. Deciding to leave was super difficult, and I truly feel blessed that I got to work with them all. Everyone was so welcoming, so easy to get along with. Carl, Kevin and Alex run a really great company, and I have no doubt that they’ll continue to be very successful.

I know that I’ll always be the number one fan of Gravity Forms, and that I’ll continue to follow what the team at rocketgenius does. You’ll likely see my retweet things from them as releases happen, and I hope to continue to have a dialog with everyone in the company. A huge thanks goes to everyone at rocketgenius for their friendship and support!

Writing on a Train

Since purchasing a laptop, I’ve only had the opportunity to write while on a train a handful of times and I found the experience very rewarding, so I can’t help but feel excited about what Amtrak is doing. Amtrak has decided, after a social media push and trail run to host a writer’s residency.

What does that mean? Well, twenty-four people will be given a two to five day train ride on one of the Amtrak routes, allowing them the opportunity to be inspired by the trip and focus on writing.

Here are some more details from Amtrak:

Each resident will be given a private sleeper car, equipped with a desk, a bed and a window to watch the American countryside roll by for inspiration. Routes will be determined based on availability.

My first thought was “why didn’t VIA Rail in Canada do this first?” Imagine travelling from Ontario to Quebec and back? Or what about a week long trip on their sleeper cars that head to British Columbia from Ontario?

There are definite opportunities here for VIA Rail to inspire writers with both being on a train, and the beautiful country that we live in. I would definitely sign up for an offer like what Amtrak is offering.

I have no doubt that Amtrak is going to receive thousands of responses before submissions close, and I urge any Canadians reading this blog to contact VIA Rail and point out the program started by Amtrak. This could be the start of a great symbiosis between a company providing a service, and the artistic community.