Browsing "Work"
Aug 31, 2012 -

Working Hard

There hasn’t been much to report in the last few days. I’ve been continuing training to work remotely for a new client.

The most challenging part is not learning the job itself, but learning to work with Windows 7. I do have a bit of experience with Windows XP, but the last time I really worked with Windows day in and day out was on version 98. Windows 7 does have a lot of similarities with OS X, but they are mostly cosmetic. I don’t want to start a Windows vs. OS X debate in the comments, so that’s all I have to say about my experience with Windows.

Today, I set up my new printer. The physical setup was a breeze thanks to videos integrated in the control panel of the printer showing everything from how to install the duplexer to how to size the paper trays.

Getting the printer and scanner to actually work was a little more challenging until some research told me that the OS X drivers that come on the CD, and all accompanying software updates, are for Snow Leopard. So once I found, downloaded, and installed the Lion drivers, everything went smoothly. I even set up ePrint to work with my iPad!

I received a massive transcription project for the weekend (30 hours of work due 11PM Monday), the first serious transcription project in almost a month. I am rather relieved! It’ll be a busy weekend, but it’ll be nice to spend so much time on a non-frustrating computer. Okay, so that wasn’t all I had to say about working with Windows! 🙂

The weekend will be broken up tomorrow afternoon with the celebration of my niece’s second birthday. She has been visiting all week and I have really enjoyed getting to spend so much time with her. My eldest nephew spent a few days here, too, happily playing games on my mother’s spare laptop while she and I worked side by side. I’ll be babysitting him and his brother next week for the first time.

Tonight, I’m doing a serious cleanup of my Mac. It has been running a little sluggishly and inefficiently since I upgraded to Lion. I installed more RAM a couple of days ago (going from 4GB to 8GB) and the difference has been phenomenal! I didn’t expect to notice a difference, but it was $90 (including shipping) very well spent.

Now that the computer is running more smoothly, I decided it was time to start cleaning up folders and managing files more efficiently. I am test running Hazel, an app that creates automated processes for OS X. I am fairly certain I will be buying the app as it will save me tons of work. My next project is to master my inbox. I have been working with Apple Mail for nearly 10 years now and I still don’t use it efficiently.

Needless to say, if I have moved on to virtual organizing, my home must be running smoothly. Indeed!!! Tuesday, I did the first really big and proper grocery since the accident (yes, in four months) and I have been cooking nice dinners and experimenting with new recipes. This week, I mastered sushi rice! Will I start making sushi at home now? Hmm…

The battery bank project will hopefully happen next weekend. I really don’t want to delay it much more than that.

As for my leak, it has been raining something fierce the last few days and it looks like my leak repair is holding at last! Miranda is looking really, really good.

I can’t believe that tomorrow is September 1st. This is the last month that I can count on decent weather for exterior projects. I am hoping to be here through October to get in as much work training as possible and delay crossing the border, so the count down to departure isn’t on yet, but I am thinking about it.

As proof, look what came in the mail the other day:

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Cleaning, Communications & Electronics, Computer, Cooking, Finances, Homemaking, iPad, Nice Folks, Organizing, Personal, Printer, Social, Technical, Work    6 Comments
Jul 25, 2012 -

Electrical Reorganization

I’m about to start yet another electrical upgrade to my RV’s 12V system. The main reason for this is that my office setup is using more power than I would have expected (mainly because the work I do keeps evolving) and I will need to start printing a lot while off shore power.

My current setup has:

-two 6V batteries offering me about 120 amp hours
-one 400W inverter
-one 150W solar panel
-one 15W solar panel

When I did the math to get my solar panel, I estimated that I use about 40A per day and that I’d ideally need 60A available to me. Those numbers still hold up; I have average 50A per day if I’m working and need to heat a little.

My unscientific experiment with the solar panel this spring told me that on a sunny day, my batteries are charged by noon regardless of how low they were in the evening. So that tells me that I have some wasted potential capacity and that I don’t need another solar panel right now. What I could use are more amp hours in the form of more batteries.

Because of weight and space considerations, I have decided to go from 2x6V batteries to 2x12V batteries. Assuming that my 12V batteries have a capacity of 180 amp hours and that I have access to 60% of that capacity (108 amp hours), I will have 216 amp hours available to me, for an increase of 96 amp hours.

I am also going to be adding a Xantrex LinkPRO Battery Monitor. There are monitors that are easier to install, but this one is available on Amazon and the entire cost was covered with two months’ worth of affiliate gift certificates. I should be getting it by August. Long time readers will know that I have been talking about a battery monitor for years and it’s finally going to happen! Thank you so much to everyone who buys products on Amazon through my links!

Next, I need a bigger capacity inverter to charge a laptop, run several external hard drives, and print. Oh, heck, and run the crock pot, too! I’ll check for sales and will be getting something in the 600W to 1000W range.

In terms of office equipment, my current Brother laser printer is woefully inadequate for my lifestyle. The power consumption of a laser printer is incompatible with life on an inverter unless you have a massive battery bank, a zillion watts in solar panels, and a generator as a backup. I am eying a multifunction HP inkjet printer with low power requirements and the cheapest operating cost in its class, but I won’t say anything more about the printer selection process until I buy one.

My mother and I are going to start doing some work on the rig this weekend and one of the projects will be to get 120V power on the passenger side of the rig in the front, right above the battery bank. What I am envisioning is a charging station there based on a power strip that I can plug into either my new 120V outlet or my new inverter. I will also be installing the battery monitor in that location. It will be much easier to get it there through the same hole used to run the inverter wiring than to run the monitor cabling to the location of the solar panel monitor.

What I like best about this plan is that it isn’t going to cost me a fortune. The most expensive component will be the batteries since I don’t have to put the monitor in the budget. I haven’t decided yet if I will be getting them here, in Canada, or in the US, but the latter is more likely. So I will probably hit the road with my monitor and new inverter installed, but won’t get to reap the benefits of my upgrades for a bit.

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Batteries, Communications & Electronics, Electricity, Solar Panels, Technical, Work    7 Comments
Jul 11, 2012 -

Bad News and Good News

I picked up Miranda today and made a call to another nearby repair place. He told me that not only are they not equipped to stretch a frame, they are booked for the rest of the summer and that I should expect the same from any other RV repair place at this point. He was not surprised by how I was treated by They Who Shall Not Be Named Again.

He also told me that the major repair to be done is the frame, so I should start by calling Ford and finding a place to get that done; the rest would cascade from there. He told me to introduce myself as having an E450 chassis with a 32′ motorhome on it, not that I have a 32′ motorhome on an E450 chassis.

If I get lucky, I will be able to find a Ford place that will subcontract out the hitch and fiberglass work and give me a total price for the job, or I might end up having to find a hitch place and then a fiberglass place.

My adjuster at Aviva is away, so I called her replacement who was MUCH nicer. She said that she wished she could write out a cheque for all the repairs I want to have done because of what I’ve been through. A gal can dream. *wry grin* Anyway, I was told that, yes, I should wait for approval before going ahead with work, but that I can present the existing estimate and if the shop says they can work with those numbers, then approval is just a formality.

I am understandably feeling overwhelmed and discouraged at this point. I am going to make calls in the morning but I suspect that I might as well move back home because this won’t get resolved until September. 🙁

The good news is that yesterday I started paid training in a field that I dabble in but would never have expected to actually work in (it involves graphic design and programming). I love what I am doing so far; it’s creative and requires brain work. I’m really excited about doing this work, but the learning curve is really steep and I’m pretty sure I had smoke coming out of my ears tonight! 🙂

What’s awesome about this work is that I’m still an independent contractor. So I don’t have guaranteed work with this new client who will supplement, not replace, the transcription. This means that instead of earning, say, 90% of my income from transcription and 10% from writing and related activities, the 90% might become 75%, which will add a bit of much needed variety to my schedule.

Transcription is slow this month, so it’s the perfect time to start on the training since I don’t have to spread my attention span too far. Between Miranda and the training, I have enough on my plate.

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Finances, Maintenance & Repair, Technical, Work    10 Comments