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08/07/2018

IKEA - not just Furniture, it's a Lifestyle

Living in Germany for almost half a century gave me sufficient exposure to IKEA furniture to be beyond thrilled when I discovered, that the company had expanded their reach into the USA. There’s even an IKEA within less than two hours driving from where I live now. I have yet to visit that store, but while I wait for an occasion to drive there, I can simply have my purchase delivered via FedEx.

My department recently moved into beautiful, newly renovated office space with a striking lack of book shelves. So, after searching local stores and the usual big online retailers, I found myself falling back on my trusted old friend from a previous life. IKEA has a stunning variety of modular office furniture. It was easy to find something in their catalog that matches the color scheme of my new cubicle, and doesn’t break the bank.

IKEA-01.jpg
Big part of the past Saturday was spent crawling around on the living room floor, assembling these boards into book shelves. Following along with the familiar instruction booklets full of drawings, but hardly any words, made me feel young again. Nothing really changed since I built my first “Billy” bookcase, over thirty years ago. That old shelf, by the way, is still standing in my bedroom today.

I hauled the pre-assembled furniture modules to work yesterday. They just needed a few brackets mounted on the backside, to keep them together. Now that my books and binders sit on display in style, this office feels almost like home.

Life is good! IKEA-02.jpg

 

05/29/2018

“No soup for you, EU” the new Business Model?

The recent deadline for serious worldwide enforcement of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation prompted hectic activities with many international companies to cook up new (hopefully compliant) privacy policies. Discussion of the subject matter is full of misconceptions, uncertainties, questions, worries, fear of legal consequences, and outrage on both sides of the fence.

What people don’t seem to realize is that GDPR isn’t really all that new, and it is also not the only regulation designed to protect consumers (the little guys) in the European Union from unethical corporations (the big guys) worldwide. Protection of personal data has been the law in various shapes within the EU since 1995. The EU distance selling directive was implemented in 1997. The main goal of both these regulations is to balance the powers – protecting the “weak” from the “powerful”.

But what about international C2C trade? I live in the USA. If I want to sell my handmade products to people who live in the EU, I have to comply with all those EU regulations, on top of any laws in my own country. I have to not only have a GDPR compliant privacy policy, I also have to disclose my full home address and phone number to EU residents, even before they buy anything from me. I have to make sure their purchase arrives within 30 days, I have to allow 14 days for cancellation of the contract, I may have to pay for the return shipping, I have to give two full years of warranty.

Have you ever filled out a customs form? Do you know exactly how much VAT and customs cost would be for the specific country where your customer lives, so you can tell them exactly what their payment will be? Do you know how many copies of the invoice to attach to your package? Are you sure your invoice is formatted correctly? Did you include a return form in the package? Did you inform the consumer of all their rights? Is your product restricted from import into a specific EU country? Is your material (or ingredients) compliant with relevant EU laws?

For my little “self-funding” hobby, the ExxoPok, the problem is of a theoretical nature. So far only three of my buyers where from the EU, and there were no problems. Some of my fellow micro-business owners, however, are “blessed” with more than just a few isolated European transactions – and those people have already stopped doing business with EU residents, or are now seriously considering it.

15:14 Posted in Opinions | Permalink | Comments (0)

04/28/2018

Senior Dog Safety

Armani, our black labrador chow-chow rescue dog, is twelve years old now. He has slowed down noticeably, sometimes limps a little bit, and lately he seems to have a hard time walking on laminate or hardwood floors in our house. Last Saturday he slipped and fell hard on his right hip. After that he had absolutely no use of his right hind leg for a day or two. He was just dragging that behind himself, hobbling around the back yard on three legs.

We had to do something fast, so we bought eight rugs and plastered the hallway, dining room, and kitchen with them, so Armani could walk around there without making contact with any hard floor. That worked, but I really didn’t like the way it looked. The dining room had three different colors of unmatched rugs laid out. Amazon to the rescue! I ordered one square 9ft. by 9ft. area rug for the dining room, and another one 10ft. by 13ft. for the living room.

SeniorDogSafety.jpg

The square rug arrived Wednesday, and we laid it down today. I love it! Safety and style are not mutually exclusive.

02/23/2018

Philip Oscar Dendron

The first thing that went through my mind when I started my new job at Indiana Tech in 2007 was “this office needs a plant”. Dusty, grey, lifeless cubicle walls don’t exactly inspire creative thinking. Research shows that some plants can actually measurably improve indoor air quality. So I asked Google for recommendations. The plant needs to be very easy to care for, it needs to be able to survive with minimal attention from me, and not much ambient light available.

Given these limitations, my choice was clear: I need a philodendron.

I came home with the perfect specimen from my next trip to Meijer – the plant was on sale for $7.99, because it had obviously been neglected. Three strands of about 4 feet length each, wrapped around a wooden stick in the middle of a plastic pot. The dirt in the pot was dried out, some of the leaves where yellow. Phil didn’t look like he was going to make it.

Look at him now, though! The plant has surely broken several records. At least what I read from this website Plantopedia, about the Philodendron Houseplant Phil is already three times as long as is to be expected. Probably because I string him up high along the ceiling tiles, so he can grow all he wants.

Phil.jpg

15:49 Posted in 06, Having Fun | Permalink | Comments (0)

02/17/2018

32GB just doesn't cut it for Windows 10.

Nuvision99.JPGWhen I saw this deal on Microsoft’s website a few months ago, I thought it was a steal. Just $99 buys me a tablet with Windows 10 on it that I can leave in the office, and use for my personal online activities during lunch break.

Initial set-up wasn’t too bad. I added a 64GB microSD card and installed all extra programs (except my virus protection) on it, to make sure Windows has enough space for itself. For a while that seemed to work, even though the frequent updates, that you can’t do much against, made it hard to find times when I could actually use the tablet for the intended purpose.

But then the “creators update” version 1709 of Windows 10 came along, and that was the end of useful life for my little cheap tablet. While the finished installation might have fitted onto what was left of my 32GB SSD, Windows 10 needs a lot more space during updates – and it will not use the SD-card for that??

I learned my lesson. Went out to eBay and found a refurbished Dell Venue 11 Pro 7140, with 128GB SSD in it. Windows 10 Pro came pre-installed. $209 doesn’t break the bank either, and it has room to grow, even with Windows 10 on it.

DellVenue.JPGSo, in case you’re thinking about getting yourself a Windows tablet, make sure it has at least 64GB (or better 128GB) of harddrive space, and 4GB or more of RAM.

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