Being Proactive vs Reactive

When I was in college, I was told an important secret of life. A motivational speaker came to visit one day and told us that the secret to living life is to anticipate problems before they happen. Be proactive instead of reactive. This concept seems obvious to everyone, so why do so few people actually follow it?

A system administrator can often find themselves going from one problem to the next trying to put out fires. People call complaining that the system is running slowly, or they can find out that the disk drive containing database backups filled and all of the backups failed overnight. It is so easy to get caught in the trap of running from one problem to the next.

How many of these problems could have been prevented by just a small amount of time being proactive? Thomas LaRock claims that three hours a week being proactive can save about 150 hours a year of trouble. It seems simple enough. So why don’t people actually spend time to do it?

The main excuse people give is that they don’t have time to be proactive. They are too busy running around trying to solve all of the other problems. Here is what you can do. Take some time today and think about what you would do if you had an hour to work on something proactive. Even while you are working on other problems, think about what could have been done to prevent it from happening.

  • Tired of people complaining about the system running slowly? Could you take an hour and develop and implement a way to track query response times so that everyone can understand what is normal (or not normal)?
  • Remember the example of the database backup filling? Could you take an hour to develop and implement a way to track database backup growth so that you could be alerted before the disaster?

These are countless examples on how you can apply this concept to every aspect of your life. This blog focused on system administrators because that is the field I am more familiar with, but there is no reason you could not apply the same tactic to any other job. Focusing on proactivity over reactivity is what separates the senior and junior level employees.

Website Design: Form Vs Function

Style Vs Function Aesthetics or Practicality Matrix Choose BothWhat makes a good website? The answer to this can change depending on who you ask. A web developer might say that a good website should work flawlessly and is easy to navigate. A designer might answer that a website needs to look appealing and catch the eye. If you ask the same question to an average person on the street and they might say something like: “A good website would look like Apple’s.” All of these opinions are right in some way. When designing a website, the main goal should be to aim for a balance between form and function.

We very recently replaced all our desks in the office with new contemporary glass surface desks. They look great and very modern. Once they were set up I realized that my mouse no longer works because the laser on the bottom shines right through the table. There were not enough mouse pads in the office for everyone to use, so to combat the problem, I taped a piece of paper to the top of the desk. So even though our desks are new and good looking, they don’t work as well as the old desks.

I tell this story as a perfect example of choosing form over function. The form of a website is important for catching the eye of visitors and ensuring that they stay. However, focusing on form at the cost of function can be problematic. A website can look beautiful with crisp images or videos, a trendy parallax design, and catchy slogans; but without good navigation, it won’t encourage people to return.

A good function has to be built with form in mind. For instance, you can’t fix the previous example website by sticking some navigation buttons at the top. That creates the same problem as my desk with its piece of paper taped onto it. The goal is to find an equilibrium between the two. Sure there are examples of successful websites that only one aspect. Craigslist is the most popular classified pages in the world and it has almost entirely focused on function. These examples are few and far between though, and most sites like this were designed years ago before this trend became a standard.

Basic IT Maintenance Tips

IT maintenance

Do you have a computer that feels like it is not running as fast as it used to? One of the biggest reasons that they start to slow down over time is neglect. Computers need a little care and IT maintenance every now and then in order to perform well. It is just like cars. Everyone knows that cars need their oil changed every so often, tires rotated/changed, and brakes checked, so why don’t people treat their PC’s with the same care?

Part of the problem is that people just don’t know what is involved in maintaining a computer. Getting a computer fixed from a professional can be costly and inconvenient. It is much better to do a little maintenance yourself. Here is a list of things you can easily do yourself, even with little computer knowledge, to make sure your computer stays running like new:

 

Keep windows updated with latest patches

Windows provides a program called Microsoft Update that will periodically search for, and install updated to your computer. You can schedule these updates to run while you are sleeping so that they do not interfere with your usage.

Keep your spyware and antivirus programs updated

You should be using some type of program on your computer to regularly scan for spyware and viruses. These programs can also be scheduled to run overnight. Keeping these up to date can drastically help improve the performance of your PC.

 

Remove unused applications and other junk

Your PC likely has a lot of old non-essential files that pile up and slow it down. For example, Windows Internet Explorer stores copies of the pages and media that you visit so that it will load faster on your next visit. Cleaning these up can provide a nice boost to your PC performance. There are many free programs that can clean up your computer. One of the most popular and recommended is CCleaner.

Pay attention to the software you install

The biggest source of viruses and spyware comes from users themselves. Many programs like to install additional software on your computer. Pay attention when you are installing software and programs to ensure that no extras are being installed as well.