I prefer to work for myself, because …..

People have asked me when I first decided to become a self-employed freelancer. The seeds were always there, I remember being told that my late father and his brother had set up a company for free-lance journalists, and without having a clue I looked it up to see if I could reactivate it! I was still living in England, and I was working as the personal assistant to the P.R.O. (public relations officer) of a trade association, and the man was a twit. I was continually torn between correcting the terrible letters that he dictated or just sending them on up to the managing director (he had to see everything, company policy). It irked me that I was better at his job than he was and earned less money! I probably would have quit anyway, but I didn’t have to make that decision as my mother was taken into the hospital and I had to quit to be home every day to look after the house and dogs

Fast forward a few years no longer living in the UK I and I was working for a publishing company as regional sales manager. The Boss wouldn’t listen to a thing that I suggested, but he thought the world of his computer consultant, a young man in his mid-late 20s. Anything that he suggested was gold, but if I tried, he just shrugged it off. Then I figured out how to get around it. I would meet with Tony before the meeting, it was usually over lunch, and say “Tony, I’ve got this great idea, what do you think?” He would like it and I would ask him to propose it to The Boss. We would be sitting at the table, and I am sitting there looking innocent. Tony would say “You know, I’ve got this idea that would work very well for your company” and make his presentation.  “That’s fantastic let’s do it!”  Once again, I was torn between being satisfied and annoyed that I had to do that and not get the credit.

The final nail in the employer/employee coffin was when a friend introduced me to a young man who was about to take over the company from his elderly father. They needed his father’s office to be reorganised and put in order. I had many conversations with the factory manager about things like costing systems – which they did not have! I do not remember how the conversation started, but young Warwick leaned back in his large Manager’s office chair and said, “You would not like *my* job – and I replied, “As a matter of fact, I would!”  I was out of that office faster than he could throw something!

I had moved to another city and was working part time when I got lucky with a financial consultant who paid me handsomely to produce marketing plans for his clients. I said to myself, I’m going do this full time. I wrote an article for a regional magazine thanks to the fact that somebody I knew was a friend of the editor. She told her that she knew somebody who was a good writer. I met the editor and dhe interviewed me and said, “Here is your assignment, let me see it!” When I turned it in she loved it. I actually did approach one editor myself, a cold call, and with my background in showing and breeding dogs he immediately took me on to write for a pet magazine.  I wrote an article for him once every month but unfortunately the Internet killed the magazine like so many others that are no longer in print.

I had to take time out after my brother died as I had to take care of his affairs. He had retired to live in Thailand but still had his house in England. I was happily settled in the USA so was working across 3 time zones! When I returned to work, I had already relocated and knew I had to work remotely. There would be no more knocking on the door, meeting people for lunch, it would all be online. I found a huge industry out there with companies and agencies looking for freelancers working from home, but I was accustomed to dealing one on one with the client, editor or business owner, and even private individuals such as the woman who wanted her personal memoire transcribed and edited. I decided that I would go “old school” – I had 3 blogs on Word Press already, but I needed a professional website that I could use as my professional “calling card”, and that is where I am now. You can check me out at www.stephaniehuntcrowley.com.

© Stephanie Hunt-Crowley  23 March 2022

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I had an AHA moment !!!

I had another AHA moment this morning. I was following a thread on Facebook, a group member had posted a question asking if there were any coaches that others could recommend for a specific issue.  There were responses yesterday and somebody volunteered to be one for her.  That started me thinking 20 – 25 years ago I was buying all kinds of self-help books. How to create your business, how to create money, how to write a book, how to create a happier life and more. All of these books I would buy, and read, and mark, and hopefully learn from. One of the things that those books used to tell us to do was make use of brainstorming.  Collect a group of friends or other likeminded individuals, and/or people in similar businesses. Sit down with these people and have a brainstorming session about whatever it was that concerned you. Now we no longer do that, there are no brainstorming sessions with people that you know or even people that you would like to know.  You either hire a coach or figure it out for yourself.

There are well established professionals that can mentor, tutor and coach for most occupations. However, there are many who have learned from somebody who sold them a course, or two or three. It begins with a FREE workshop on starting your business which leads you to the heavy pitch for an expensive course going into greater detail about growing that business. The next course you are invited to take is to create a course on becoming a coach for your type of new business – and finally a course on how to teach others how to become coaches! I took a *free* course out of curiosity, and there was nothing there that I had never read before, and I did not sign up for the multiple starred super course, in spite of daily e-mails exhorting me to do so, but by this time I was on their e-mail list …. That’s how I know.

There are now coaches that may never have succeeded in the occupation in which they are coaching. If they were really making over $100,000 a year in the first place, why did they have to start selling courses? So, going back to my original thought, what happened to in person brainstorming? The trend has been going on for several years. It is not because of remote working it is not new. You were still able to contact people, reach to meet for coffee somewhere. So, what happened? People no longer want to talk on the phone either – they text, in 3 lines or less. Maybe I should create a course on how to meet for coffee, free of course, then sell one on how to do it more often.

© Stephanie Hunt-Crowley 22 February, 2022

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A computer nightmare – part 3 – satisfaction!

Satisfaction! I had been going around in circles with Microsoft support and was about to give up, but followed a few links and arrived at the MS Complaints page. Yes, they have one. I followed the directions and submitted my story to the email address shown. Nothing happened and I resigned myself to waiting until I bought a new laptop.

Them a few days ago I received a phone call from a man saying that he was from Microsoft. I did not take him at his word (most readers will know why 😉!) and I made sure that he could confirm it, which he did. My case had been forwarded to him with the original case numbe. It had been escalated to a higher tier of support.

Eureka! A person who *knows*! His fingers did their magic, and my printer was working flawlessly. How he did it, I do not know. I am not a Tech expert. I just know how to research things and write about them. The same man called me again yesterday to make sure the case had been resolved to my satisfaction. I was happy to tell him that it was. Total satisfaction.

© Stephanie Hunt-Crowley, February 10th 2022

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – a computer nightmare Part 2

In August I was having password problems and again received this message:
“User account ‘shuntcrowley@yahoo.com’ from identity provider ‘live.com’ does not exist in tenant ‘Microsoft Services’ and cannot access the application ‘dae89220-69ba-4957-a77a-47b78695e883′(Universal Print Native Client) in that tenant. The account needs to be added as an external user in the tenant first. Sign out and sign in again with a different Azure Active Directory user account. . “

I contacted MS support, none of the remote technicians knew what this meant and I was left hanging without resolution, so I sent this message by e-mail:

“Aug 12, 2021 at 11:40 AM

I was told to hold on and was still waiting so came to check my e-mail and found this message and there has been no response! Do I keep that window open? Or what? As you can see this IS my valid e-mail address, so why do I get THIS when asked to sign in to add a printer?”

I received a response but there was no explanation as to what the above meant and my password was reset on August 18th 2021. In the meantime I suspected that there was a problem with having two MS accounts creating a conflict, so I cancelled my Office 365 contract with IONOS and subscribed to Microsoft 365 with a monthly subscription.

One of the remote technicians had set up a LOCAL account, I do not know why, and I questioned it but was given no explanation. I realised that I was signed into the local account and was told that was OK. It was not. This was done without creating a separate log in address. I had no idea that it would in time cause problems until I was having printing, scanning and printing issues which appeared. to be related to having the local account. I had been working with HP, but when I tried to download drivers my MS password was rejected – again! I now know the problem – and Microsoft has known what it is since 2018!  I learned about it by searching for it. I am NOT an IT worker, I am just a writer but I know how to SEARCH. Search and ye shall find!

“FROM: What’s the difference between a personal Microsoft account and a work or school account? – Microsoft Tech Community

Published Mar 29 2021 03:00 AM  23.5K Views

Microsoft provides three main Identity services – Active Directory, Azure Active Directory and Microsoft Accounts. In this article, we’ll explore the differences between Azure Active Directory and Microsoft Accounts. ……….

Guest accounts

Even though you can’t synchronize Microsoft accounts into your Azure AD (or vice versa), you can invite someone as a guest user into Azure with their Microsoft Account email address. They’ll appear in your directory with Microsoft Account listed at the source and you won’t be able to perform any user administration on their account such as renaming them or resetting their password. This is useful though for inviting external people to collaborate and is the method behind the scenes if someone’s Microsoft Account is invited to be a guest in Microsoft 365 services like Teams.

“By default, non-admin domain users do not have permission to install the printer drivers on the domain computers. To install a driver, the user should have local admin privileges (must be a member of the local Administrators group). This is great from the point of security because the installation of an incorrect or fake device driver could compromise the PC or degrade the system performance. However, this approach is extremely inconvenient in terms of the IT department, because it requires Support-team intervention when a user tries to install a new printer driver.”

The issue now is that I am unable to download and print essential documents because I am signed in to the local account and cannot download new drivers. However, I dare not sign out of that account and into my MS account because my password is not being accepted. If I change ANY security information on either account, it could trigger another 30 day lockout. I cannot risk doing this until I can buy a new computer and register that to my MS account and back up all my existing files for transfer.

The Good? My experience with MS support up until May 2021, (see Part 1).

The Bad? The fact that NOBODY was able to identify the causes of the MS/Azure overlap, although this has been known since 2018.

The Ugly? Microsoft Support have now refused to help sort out this mess – Yes, I have saved the messages. The case has been closed with NO attempt at resolution. I am just a humble writer with the ability to search and discover the root of the problem, but with no technical training. I now have documentation saved from Microsoft’s own sites – but how do I get it fixed?

©  Stephanie Hunt-Crowley 26 January 2022

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The Turning of the Wheel – The Solstice

From time immemorial humans have based their lives on the changes of the seasons.  They watched the sun, moon and stars and the positions between them. They saw the way that these were reflected upon the seasons below.  They noted the solstices and the equinoxes. The solstices were when the sun appeared to stand still, and the equinoxes when night equalled day.  The solstice in the northern hemisphere and the southern were the turning points of the year. In the north the beginning of winter is the beginning of summer in the south. As the earth spins around the sun, turning on its axis, the angle that the Sun’s rays will hit the earth changes each day, but pauses at the time of the solstice. This has been celebrated for millennia, long before it was ever documented, but we can trace it back for at least 4000 years. The ancient Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone was attributed to the actions of the Gods as did the Zoroastrians, and these are some of the celebrations have been found around the world.  

The Scandinavian festival of Jul has become known worldwide, but in China they still celebrate Dongzli, the arrival of winter. Stonehenge in England, the prehistoric monument that dates back 5,000 years is thought to have been built to align with the winter solstice, and the Romans celebrated Saturnalia before conversion to Christianity.  The Hopi people of Northern Arizona celebrated Soyul, and in Iran there is the festival of Yalda on the last day of the month of Azar. This is thought to trace back to the birthday of the Sun God, Mithra, as Zoroastrianism predated Islam. Barusha is celebrated by the Hunza people of northern Pakistan as the end of the agricultural year, and the Mossi people in Burkina Faso celebrate the end of harvest on Pellagra. The Zulu people have celebrated the first fruits festival and the Peruvians celebrate the same date as the coming of summer with the festival of Inti Rayma which dates back to the celebrations of the Incan Sun God, Inti.

Those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere now look forward to the Spring Equinox with the end of shorter days and longer nights, and the first buds of Spring.

© Stephanie Hunt-Crowley  21 December 2021

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Yesterday I had AHA moment – I was involved in online discussions on two unrelated topics, and I realised that one of the problems was common to both. The average person is not aware of the incredible advances in medicine and technology in the past 50 years unless they have been employed in a specific field or have had a personal need. The latter covers health and medicine, but you may not have had everything explained to you.

In the medical field, genetics is something people rarely learn about unless they have a specific interest, or a family member or friend is diagnosed with an inherited disease. Even then, what they are concerned about is how this needs to be treated. What they don’t know is how far we have come in just 70 years. It was In 1951 that Watson and Crick decided to search for how a “gene” was constructed and in 1953 published a paper on the structure of DNA.

It took another 24 years before the first organism, a virus, was examined to learn its genetic code. In 1980 the Nobel Prize was awarded to the team of Sanger, Filbert and Borg for pioneering DNA sequencing methods. It then took another 10 years for the idea of sequencing the entire genetic code – the genome – of the human race. The Human Genome Project published the map of the human genome in 1995

Since then, there have been exponential increases in technological ability and human knowledge in the scientific community, but which has not been adequately communicated to the person in the street. Thanks to this it has been easy for wildly inaccurate information to spread across borders. It is human nature to ask “Why?” and to try to understand, but the answers people seek are not always easy to find. We have seen this over and over during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

People have been distrustful of a vaccine that had been created in what they thought was too short a period of time, but they did not realise that there had been such amazing advances in recent years that had not even been dreamed of in the days of polio or AIDS. Researchers did not have to study sick people and try to identify a virus in a laboratory – they were able to start with the DNA profile of the virus! This took years off of the necessary timeline. There are now several vaccines available and in use around the world. They are effective, they do work, they save lives – but a segment of society still chooses to believe the first thing they were told, and many of them die because of it.

Yes, words, and understanding what they mean, do matter.

© Stephanie Hunt-Crowley

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That woman may have been gone for a while but hopefully not forgotten!

It all began in March when she was having printer problems and after working with HP to no avail, decided to uninstall and reinstall her printer from scratch – and ran into a problem which necessitated a call to Microsoft support. Some helpful remote techs sorted out a password conflict and noted the fact that her laptop was running an older version of Windows 10 – sooo – the latest version was then installed. This came with that newly necessary, but hitherto avoided, PIN number! So far so good, until the new version was installed. That was at the beginning of April – and the system refused to accept the PIN number – her laptop was locked out, unusable! Many phone calls, messages and even e-mails later using a pesky, but luckily unconnected tablet the case was escalated to a higher level of support and all was restored in early May. but that was not the end of the story.

A couple of weeks later, she was off to the hospital for planned surgery to replace the poorly functioning hip with a new and improved version – which was a success, BUT for the next month she was offline with NO internet, but it gave her time to observe and think. She saw a serious need for information on topics to do with health and medicine which is not readily available to people in general. The lack of which can compromise their health – and provide a breeding ground for the acceptance of incorrect or outdated ideas. he decided to do something about it!

(c) Stephanie Hunt-Crowley

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I don’t care where you live – STOP WHINING!

This morning I came across yet another complaint session about local and regional restrictions due to COVID-19. “We need to get back to normal!” and “why do we have to have these lockdowns?” Then there are the inevitable complaints about mask wearing. You will have heard them all, so I am not going to quote – but That Woman is tired hearing about it.

Just think about it for a minute – yes, I used the word THINK! Use your own intelligence to look at the situation. We have come a long way already in just one year, all around the world, and now have vaccines with which to fight the virus.

For the whole first half of the 20th century polio epidemics raged annually killing and crippling people – UNTIL vaccines were developed. The people today that fret about the inconvenience of a mask or not being able to go to a bar or restaurant should think themselves lucky instead of complaining.

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I need to rant … I am a writer … have been all my life. I have also been a lifelong dog fancier, and started showing dogs in my teens. I also bred dogs and have judged dogs and have written about dogs, and today members of a Facebook group were asked to comment on one of those internet offerings about the ten best and ten worst dog breeds for a named theme. This is what I wrote:

That is what they now call “content”. Content marketing is where they hire writers that can rehash lists of best and worst, richest and poorest and does not require in depth knowledge or research. It is designed for the purpose of attracting clicks to view, and just enough verbage to draw the reader to the next subheading. Along the way they will see ads which, if the passer through clicks on them, it proves traffic which can draw paying advertisers. If the passer through clicks on and buys something they will pay a commission to the source website. That part is called affiliate marketing and I have no problem with that – it is business. What I DO have a problem with is that GOOD writing, well researched and decently paid, has been kicked to the wall and that poor content fills the internet.

Yes, that was my rant for the day.

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