Monday, July 15, 2019
On Sunday, July 6, 2019, I damaged my Canon PowerShot A590, beyond repair. I was so devastated by what happened (rushing to pack up, I dropped it on the hardwood floor), I cried. I seldom cry.
I purchased the camera in 2008 and loved the many features this point and shot offered. I seldom went anywhere without it.
That said, the camera could only produce 8MB photos. Though my web hosts should have loved the small footprint of the images I used with my posts, my social media account offerings- looked a little shabby in comparison to others.
For various reasons, all of the images and photos I use on my business site, are hosted on my domains, and not a cloud or image hosting service, like Flickr. Digital photo size is an important factor in my environment and provides part of the rational for why I held off replacing the camera. The other reason? I could not justify the business expense.
That said, I did have plans to purchase a new camera in December 2019 (Christmas), and researching the Canon EOS M50. Late in the evening on July 6, 2019, I ordered the following bundle.
I have to say, I am very pleased with this new camera. Additional info about my purchase(s):
- Love the TouchScreen Menu.
- Love the Manual Focus and Portrait Features.
- Also purchased BM Premium 2-Pack of LP-E12 Batteries for Canon etc..
- Also purchased the Fotodiox Pro Lens Mount Auto Adapter.
- Also purchased the telephoto Canon EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS STM Lens for Canon SLR Cameras- see more here.
- Love the 4K Video option.
- Love the Digital Slave Flash that came with the bundle.
- Love the 9 different filters that also came in the bundle.
- Love the many YouTube videos about the Canon EOS M50.
The following is an example using the Portrait option on the Canon EOS M50.
I am still playing around with the many features of the camera and other tools that came in the bundle. That said, I have found things pretty easy to understand and have come up-to-speed quickly (yes, I know the above photo, is a little overexposed). This is my first DSLR camera, and though I wanted to wait for Christmas, I am pleased with my selection.
Tuesday, June 18, 2019
Yesterday, the QiSoftware business renewal notification was finally posted to the Maryland egov business website, completing all of the renewals I had for this year. This post discusses in some detail, the renewals scheduled for this year and why they were a concern for me.
I was a little concerned because I sent the check on April 25, 2019. I went by my business mailing address on the same day to pick up the renewal application. According to the Maryland business website, the application was sent 10 days earlier.
If you click on the link associated with the above illustration, use either of the following search criteria to access the QiSoftware business related information provided by the State of Maryland.
- Business Name: QiSoftware
- Department ID: T00212348
Five years ago it seemed the business renewal process took a lot less time, however happy its all done. On May 8th, 2019 I called the Maryland office which handles the renewals to find out if the check I sent had been received, explaining I seldom send checks through the mail and simply wanted to find out if they were in receipt of the payment. That night the check was sent to my bank for processing (note the above illustration). I did not call again.
P.S. This year, I also had to go through the Real ID (Federal Law) process to renew my Driver's Licence, so you may want to see this post for what to expect if you have to do the same.
Monday, May 13, 2019
I am always trying to cut my business expenses. Several years ago (December 15, 2014), I purchased a Konica Minolta Color Laser Printer (see Items I Have) at a great price because I wanted to cut costs on inkjet printing.
Realized savings: I am still using the original toner cartridges that came with the color laser printer. Because I seldom need to use a printer, I no longer worry about dried out ink cartridges when I do need to print. Laser toner cartridges do not dry out.
I purchased the same printer for my Mother a year earlier because she constantly complained she needed to replace the ink for her inkjet printer. Her toner cartridges have never been replaced.
I use Microsoft Publisher for most of my production printing needs. I have been using Microsoft Productivity Suite Software since 1991 or so, therefore I have little or no overhead costs insofar as "howto". You may want to consider this when deciding to do your own printing.
The illustration below, shows the Publisher windows for the check I recently sent to the State of Maryland for my business renewal and this year's Mother's Day card for my Mother.
Illustrated below, photos of some of the paper stock I keep on hand for printing and (on the right) the unfolded and folded printed Mother's Day card and a photocopy of the printed check. If you look closely at the photocopy of the check, you will see the hidden "void" stamps, a feature of the check paper I use.
I use Microsoft Money for all of my financial record keeping, and though I could print checks with that software, prefer to use Microsoft Publisher for that particular task (both personal and business checks). Here again, I can do this because I seldom write checks, preferring instead to use a credit or debit card when making purchases.
Another cost saving? I order inexpensive secure blank check paper which I can use for either account type (business or personal).
Sunday, April 28, 2019
Coming into the new year (2019), I had several business registration and motor vehicle renewals, including:
- QiSoftware's Business Renewal (every 5 years)
- Domain Registration Renewals for hosting-q.com and reginadenisethomas.com (résumé site)
- Driver's License Renewal (every 8 years)
- Automobile Registration Renewal (every 2 years)
For some reason this bothered me. This may have been because the business and driver's license renewals both came due this year.
Happy the last of the renewals (QiSoftware's Business Registration) was mailed off last week (paperwork shown in the illustration below).
My new driver's license arrived in March (birthday in July) and the car registration and stickers earlier this month (April).
Other business related renewals: This year, I actually had four domain renewals however only hosting-q.com and reginadenisethomas.com (résumé site) are active sites. QiSoftware.com expires in June 2020, however will be renewed long before the current expiration date.
Also shown in the above illustration, new plants purchased last week and the apple pie I had for dessert today. I have already started trimming the palm and the little pineapple plant will get more leaf shine.
Other things I have been up to?
- Movie: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
- Movie: "Misconduct"
- Movie: "Crazy Rich Asians"
- Showtime Series: "Billions"
- Looking forward to the Showtime Series: "City on a Hill" premiering Sunday, June 16 at 9 p.m.
- Looking forward to the final season of Showtime's "The Affair"
- and the new season of StarZ's "Power"
It was a nice day here, and I decided to prepare a somewhat large dinner. On the menu: pork chops, steamed cabbage, mac & cheese, candied yams and cornbread. Did I mention apple pie for dessert? Happy, the kitchen is tidy and the dishwasher is ending its drying cycle.
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Little under the weather lately [ear infection], so getting a lot of rest.
Things in the works...
Several tools (9 or so) ready for installation on WiredPages however holding off for various reasons. New tools under development or consideration should be exciting additions for the service.
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Briefly, construction milestones for the hotel:
- Groundbreaking Celebration, September 13th, 2016
- Official Opening, June 6th, 2018
- Grand Opening Celebration, Wednesday, July 11, 2018
In that I live within 2 miles of the new hotel, over the last year I tried to stop by at least once a week (starting in June 2017 and ending in June 2018) to capture construction progress photos.
Hanover Maryland has grown into an attractive place to live and play. The thriving local business community that was in place before the mall, casino, and hotel openings- has only benefited from the extensive growth in the area since 2001.
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Ran several errands this morning, including:
It was a gorgeous morning. Saw one or two of the local news stations shooting footage for Live! Hotel's opening. Saw a flock of geese in the mall's [Arundel Mills] parking lot. Came home and had some of the rotisserie chicken and a croissant.
Though I visit my business bank regularly, I rarely get to the shops, so when I do happen out, as was the case with my visit to Costco today, I tend to note the occasion. I would really like to get out more, however one family member or another stops by weekly, so a lot of our shopping is done in this manner. Today was a nice treat for me.
For more information about my residential hometown and the thriving business community, see here.
Thursday, March 15, 2018
In an earlier post, I discussed integrating elements of the Google Tag Manager resource throughout areas and subdomains of my different sites.
My online sites include:
Sometime ago, I setup Google Analytics defining different properties of my sites for reporting purposes. I use only one Google Analytics account for all of my sites, as shown in the following illustration.
Over the last two weeks or so, I have spent a little time researching and testing basic Analytics Tag implementation concepts across different areas of my sites with emphasis on this blog and my Personal Résumé Site.
For those of you who have not researched and tested Google Analytics Tag implementation, the following video may have little meaning. Those who have, may find the video interesting. Keep in mind, I tend to capture everything and do not spend a lot of time editing nor recapturing videos I create.
Google Analytics and the associated Tag Management resource are powerful reporting tools, and in my case well worth the time and effort to come up to speed with ways to use and integrate these resources.
Friday, March 09, 2018
Every now and then, I publish details about my business related expenses.
March is normally more expensive as related to business than other months because my annual business address fee is due in March.
That said, because I opted to pay the qisoftware.com domain renewal fee early (actually due June 2018), my business related expenses for this March were made more so.
Note my business is registered with the State of Maryland as a Trade Name entity, i.e., Sole Proprietorship, so though I use a personal credit card for some of my business related expenses, I actually separate the expenses as either business or personal and pay the card issuer with either my business or personal bank account depending on the expense.
I track business and personal expenses separately using Microsoft Money for Business & Personal use [Quicken for Business & Personal Use another great choice], however at this time- I do not deduct business expenses.
The type of business I own allows for the use of my social security as the tax identification number associated with the business. Perhaps once a year, I review the request form for a Federal Employer Identification Number [EIN], however to date, can think of no reason I would want to do this.
I simply like the one tax identification number associated with both my personal and business affairs and because I do not outsource nor hire contractors, this works for me.
Products discussed in this post (latest version of Quicken):
Saturday, March 03, 2018
Just over a year ago, I activated an early retirement account and decided to put most of the funds into savings.
Because I am a business owner, I have both a business bank and a personal bank. Both large institutions in the U.S. I have had my business bank since 2004 and up until June 2017, paid a monthly service fee to maintain the account.
In June 2017, I was able to reach and maintain a minimum balance across all of the business related accounts, which allowed me to avoid the service fee. Most of the funds were in the business savings account which comparatively speaking, were not as good as business CD rates my bank was offering. Therefore, in September 2017, I moved most of the business savings account to an associated business CD [Time Account].
Please note, I was able to save a lot of the early retirement account funds to be able to do this.
Late in 2017, I began researching online banking institutions for higher savings interest rates than those offered by my traditional banks.
I use the Bankrate.com site on WiredPages, so have known about this site's offerings for a while, however also used other online resources for research associated with this project.
In early December 2017, I opened a small CD account with a well known "online savings" institution which at the time was offering the best rates on CDs for a 12/13 month period. I am very pleased with how this worked out. The CD monthly interest payments are higher with my "online bank", even though I have less money in the certificate of deposit than that associated with my business account.
So why not move the business CD [time account] funds to an online savings/deposit bank? I need my business bank and the maintenance fee is high for the type of business account I have. In my case, it is worth it to keep the business CD with my business account, avoid the maintenance fee and earn less in interest.
Earlier this year, I opened a Money Market Account (MMA) associated with the same online savings bank. The MMA account allows me to earn interest on money that I can also use with a debit card. I am in save mode, so this is very important to me.
A Money Market Account (MMA), typically does not offer the same high interest rates as a High Yield Savings Account (HYSA). That said the HYSA, in most cases, does not provide an associated debit card. It is meant to be a straight savings account.
In January 2018, I also opened a small HYSA with another online banking/savings account. Last month, I set up a small recurring monthly deposit of $150 as a external funds transfer from my personal bank checking account to the HYSA online savings account. Works great, however there maybe a small wait period depending on your bank's policies.
As I indicated, I am in "save" mode and have limited funds to work with. Taking advantage of online savings banks is a "smart" thing for me to do at this time, however these banks are not the same as my traditional banks.
In September, when I opened my business Time Account [CD], one of the bank representatives walked me through the entire process while sitting at his work station.
With my online savings banks, I must read everything and decide how to set up my accounts. It is relatively easy, however may not be for everyone. Another thing I love about my online savings accounts? No maintenance fees. That said, check the fine print of those banks you decide to bank with.
Tuesday, February 27, 2018
For the past week or so, I have been integrating the Google Tag Manager resource throughout areas/subdomains of the QiSoftware Site.
This process involved updates to several areas, including:
The process was especially tedious for the main site [www.qisoftware.com] area pages and WiredPages [wiredpages.qisoftware.com]. The reason? The 20 and 24 pages associated with qisoftware.com and WiredPages respectively, are not maintained using a traditional content management system, e.g., WordPress or Drupal. In other words, I manually edit each page using the VI Editor in a Terminal Window on my Macbook.
The reason for this self inflicted tedium? Initially, it had a lot to do with the template I configured to use with older browsers. I found the Macbook VI Editor inserted the least amount of ambient control tags when writing the files which tended to help older browsers render the pages correctly.
Today, because of security issues I have with the site, if there are non-linked mirrors, it is harder for someone to pretend the pages of the mirrors are official versions, if changed. In other words, it makes it harder for others to change my pages.
In addition, to the myriad of code tags pasted into the headers of pages and variable fields, minor cosmetic updates were incorporated into the pages of the main site [qisoftware.com] area.
WiredPages updates? Although, I have rewritten some of the applications I maintain on WiredPages, I did not include the new versions on this series of updates. The updates recently integrated only dealt with integrating Google Analytics reporting code tags to the underlying elements of the pages.
I hope to republish the fully working version of WiredPages in the near future, however because of security issues will not attempt this task until I am assured my code is being used in the manner I intended.
Monday, February 12, 2018
In an earlier post, I mentioned I registered several new domains- including reginadenisethomas.com. Because of a glitch with Tomcat [jsp support], a web hosting service feature I use on qisoftware.com, I was unable to correctly access the new domain as the add-on domain I setup and pointed to via the domain registrar.
Recently, I decided to research and fix the error [when requested- reginadenisethomas.com resolved to qisoftware.com], however had to first have the web hosting provider for qisoftware.com- delete a system entry that I was unable to access.
At this time, I am not doing much with the site, however did provide my resume.
Other things I have been working on?
- Social media posts- here and here
- Store updates:
- Integrating and testing this formula: "=IF(ISBLANK(G43)," ",IF(A43='Sheet 1'!A159,'Sheet 1'!G159))" in an Excel Workbook used for finances.
- Checking the status of my tax refunds.
- Monetizing reginadenisethomas.com.
- New batch of the lemon loaves, mentioned in an earlier post. We love this recipe.
Getting something new with my tax refund? No, already moved the funds to a savings account.
Saturday, September 09, 2017
After what seemed like a month of rain, the skies have cleared and it has been a bit cooler. I am keeping busy with a myriad of projects.
- Updated the Celebrity Blogs List I maintain on the NS&J Forums.
- Social media posts for the Hanover Maryland Businesses page on Facebook.
- Shopping... see illustration below.
- Watched the remaining episodes of the latest season of StarZ's "Power" series.
- Movie: "A Bronx Tale"
- US Open Tennis action.
- Updating my Amazon Stores.
- Went by my business bank to set up a new account.
- Creating new spreadsheets to help track my business finances.
- Replaced the battery in my mother's riding mower. I thought this was going to be easier than it was.
Note the number of power adapters and cables in the illustration of my recent purchases. I have found that when I keep my mobile devices powered with an external power adapter, I extend the life of the battery of each device.
For example, I have had my Android since February 2015 and I am still able to get over 5 hours with the battery if I need to. When I use battery power, I also try to discharge the battery so that only one or two percent of the charge is remaining. Recharging from this depleted level, calibrates the battery which also helps to extend battery life.
The downside to the use of constant power adapters? I replace cables and adapters at least every other year [if not more], as indicated by the illustration of my recent purchases.
Saturday, September 02, 2017
Many are aware- I use Thingamablog as the content management platform for both my business and personal blogs. I started using Thingamablog in 2010 when Blogger decided to discontinue FTP support for users who hosted their blogs on private domains.
Thingamablog runs standalone on desktop computers and requires Java installation, if not already installed on the system.
In my opinion, the Thingamablog platform offers more security in that the entire application and post database are maintained off line. What this means? The master copies of my blogs are maintained off line and are tamper proof.
This also allows for easy backup to external storage devices of the off-line applications and databases, as opposed to online site backups.
That said, in my case I also backup my entire website so snap-shots of both the remix.qisoftware.com and personal.qisoftware.com sub-domains where I maintain the blogs, are also backed-up when I perform full-site backups.
In 2010, I also established the Facebook group [referenced above], for Thingamablog users. We are always looking for new members, so if you are interested in this blogging/content management tool, please join us.
Friday, August 25, 2017
So what are your plans for the weekend? Me? With the new school year and holidays right around the corner, I am planning updates to the stores.
I meant to post new photos around the time of my birthday [July], however never did. Below, recent photos.
In recent weeks, I have been out a bit researching local business activities however, have mostly stayed close to home. It has been wet and humid here.
Other things I have been up to?
- Watching professional tennis. BTW: US Open starts Monday, August 28, 2017.
- Paid bills including, qisoftware.com web hosting, phones, etc.
- Monetized another sub-domain on my site [qisoftware.com] and integrated the related Google Analytics code.
- Watched Bei Bei [National Zoo's Panda Cub], celebrate his second birthday.
- Went by my business bank.
- Sharing social media posts.
Hope you have a nice weekend.
Saturday, July 08, 2017
My home office is comprised of several areas on all three levels of my residence. I am lucky in that I have space to spread out.
Why do I need so much space? I am a business owner/software consultant and own a lot of office equipment. I started purchasing items for my home office long before starting my own business, in fact, while still working as a defense contractor for a major corporation.
Note the fax machine shown in the above illustration. This is the second fax machine I have owned. I purchased my first in 1995. I like owning a fax machine for both legal issues and the convenience -even in today's more digital age.
Yes, today one can sign an email digitally and it is a legal and binding communique, however I prefer the fax machine.
So why am I discussing my home office? Well recently, I have been taking inventory for another project. What do I really use? Believe it or not, a lot of the equipment I own.
The updates? I added more of what I own, however did not list in the earlier version including:
- File Cabinets
- Manilla Folders
- Staplers & Dispensers
Things I own, however no longer use and did not list? Rolodexes.
When I first started my home office, I made regular visits to Office Depot and Staples. Though I like walking the aisles of these stores-- I find when I need to replenish or research what others are saying-- online research and purchases are too convenient for me to pass on.
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
For the last week I have been integrating affiliate stores and links that were hosted on affiliate sites, to my business site and blogs. Affiliate program changes the reason for these updates.
Both the Business Blog Remix and this one [personal blog], maintained off-site stores. Now the stores are accessed via the blogs.
In addition to creating the new stores for each of the blogs, I also updated the banner graphic used on the Remix Blog. There were also several minor cosmetic issues associated with the blog, that were also corrected.
When I first received notice one of my affiliate programs would be undergoing significant changes, I was a bit worried. A week and a half later, I am happy most of my work in anticipation of the affiliate program changes has been completed.
Links for the blog stores are located in the upper right sidebar of each blog and listed below for your convenience.
Saturday, June 24, 2017
A death in the family took most of the family out of the area in early June. I did not attend the funeral. I have not been out much, instead working, catching a movie here or there and watching live tennis action.
Recent activities and plans:
- Movie: The Accountant
- Movie: Legend 
- Movie: Inferno
- Movie: The Wizard of Lies
- Upcoming: Starz "Power" Series [new season starts Sunday, June 25th @9:00 pm ET]
- Upcoming: Wimbledon starts July 3rd.
- Grass court [professional tennis] action from Europe.
- Social Media Posts [including]: Hanover Maryland Businesses, Instagram [QiSoftware & HanoverBusinesses], Tumblr.
- Revising Amazon Stores in anticipation of upcoming changes Amazon plans to make to the program. Updates to the new store formats are ongoing and several shopping categories were removed. The new shopping categories:
I have a little more work to do on the stores-- and new additions and deletions are constant. I also have three new domain registrations I plan to start work on.
Tuesday, June 06, 2017
One of my banks offers rewards for using their credit card. I love this concept and pay for most purchases with the card.
This month, charges itemized on the bill included:
- Eye Glasses & Contact Lens Prescriptions
- Contact Lenses [2 boxes]
- Three new domain registrations totaling about $35
- Web Hosting qisoftware.com
- Cell Phone
- Mother's Day Gift for my Mother
Total charges last month; about $397. This added about $4.00 to my rewards account balance bringing it to $44.82. The credit card issuer will send a check when the balance reaches $50.
Noted in the illustration above, this morning I paid the entire card balance. This ensures I do not incur interest charges on any carryover balance, making the cash rewards the card offers even more attractive.
Sunday, May 28, 2017
It is a beautiful quiet holiday weekend here and I do not have much on tap.
Things I have been up to?
Those in the area may have noticed, I have been out a bit more researching and photographing ongoing projects.
Also still thinking about new websites [discussed in the last post] and all that entails.
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Recently, I have been working several projects mostly associated with the HanoverMDBusinesses Page maintained on Facebook.
Preliminary tasks [for one of the projects] included, registering two new domains:
- hanovermaryland.org [future full blown website similar to ococean.com]
- reginadenisethomas.com [software and other support tools for my projects that I do not want hosted on my business sites, i.e., qisoftware.com and hosting-q.com]
I also created a new Instagram account that will be used exclusively with the HanoverMaryland Businesses page and site.
Currently, the Facebook page uses the QiSoftware Instagram account w/hashtag "hanovermdbiz". In the future, the new HanoverBusinesses Instagram account will be integrated on both the page and site.
To provide a more professional appearance to the photos published via Instagram, I have been playing around with the Photo Apps that were pre-installed on my Android and Windows10 platform.
Both apps, quite frankly are pretty sophisticated and allow for incremental angular rotation and image cropping- both of which I find quite useful. I use these apps because I post Instagram photos from my Android to the QiSoftware account and now from the Windows10 platform to the new HanoverBusinesses Instagram account.
The HanoverMDBusinesses page is sort of a hobby that I started in 2010 and work when time permits. I hope the new [future] website and other online resources will engage visitors and promote the business/entertainment/shopping/dining community that exists just outside my back door [figuratively speaking].
Monday, May 08, 2017
Last month I scheduled an eye appointment [for today], with the Arundel Mills location of VisionWorks.
For awhile now, I have been trying to get over to the mall for new photos of all the new stores opening @Arundel Mills.
Most of the photos will be used for posts, Instagram feed photos, or events associated with the HanoverMDBusinesses page, I maintain on Facebook.
As most know, the Maryland Live! Casino is co-located with Arundel Mills Mall and the new seventeen story hotel [Live Hotel], under construction now [due to open late 2017 or early 2018], appears to be bringing in a lot of new stores.
Imagine, the casino, live entertainment @Center Stage, the new hotel, shopping, world class dining, and all of the other entertainment venues the mall has to offer- all in one place. It all looks very exciting.
Today was the perfect opportunity to walk the 3/4 of a mile distance around the mall and shoot a lot of new photos.
Friday, April 28, 2017
I have been working on several enhancements to the Hanover Maryland Businesses Page on Facebook.
Several page tabs have been added, including:
- Hanover Maryland Jobs [now working, also see the "Use App" Button installed sometime ago providing the same type of data...]
- Hanover Maryland Real Estate
- Instagram Feed using a specific #hashtag for the area
- Pinerest [added a board w/pins, specific to Hanover Maryland]
Illustrated below, the updated page and tab flow as provided to the page administrator [in case you are wondering why the page in your browser is slightly different].
I would also like to include a page tab that provides economic and demographic profile data for the area, however have yet to find an up-to-date source for the specific area of Hanover Maryland.
Friday, March 24, 2017
Finally ordered a camcorder. The final decision came down to these two:
- Canon Vixia HF R700
- Canon Vixia HF R800 [see this link]
I opted for the 2016 unit [R700] because it was $41.00 cheaper. The specs on both almost the same, however the R800 has one or two added features.
I am very pleased with my new hardware. Its light, easy to use and has the high definition and external microphone support I was looking for. Two items I will be ordering in the near future, an external microphone and one additional battery pack.
A short demo video to show the type of output you can expect from this camcorder.
Above, I am using the HTML5 Video Player to provide either a MP4, OGV or WEBM version of the video- depending on the browser requesting the playback.
I am using a commercial software app "TheFileConverter" to convert the MTS video file the camcorder created, into the MP4, OGV and WEBM formats for use with web browsers. Shown below- part of the underlying html for the HTML5 Video Player.
I do not need to provide different video formats for my social media accounts and am so pleased I can now upload Full HD Video to my Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and Youtube accounts.