Working With Office Documents on the Web Part II.

Well, after a few days of trying out Windows Live Workspace, I have to say it’s very useful way to back-up files, and also as I mentioned in Part I of this post, it helps me with document version control! One issue with Workspace so far: my PC runs on the Windows Vista O/S and when I use the service in Internet Explorer, the Vista “ring of doom” appears on the screen quite often.*  So, I probably won’t use the service too often until all the beta “bugs” are worked out. If you’ve used Workspace, let me know what you thought about it. Let’s share ideas!

*Note, I just updated to Internet Explorer 8, and I didn’t see much difference in the program compared to 7. I was going to attribute my problems with Windows Workspace to the new version of the browser; instead, I will use the problem to start another research project to find ways of speeding up my system. More later on this topic!

Getting Past Protected Office Documents

Have you ever received or downloaded a protected document (i.e., you are locked out of parts of or the entire document) and experienced a huge amount of frustration with using the document?  Well, I’ve experienced that frustration on occasion but thanks to a colleague, I can now share how to override the document protection. So far, I know this works with Microsoft Word.

In brief:

1. Open the document.

2. Save it as a template (1997-2003).

3. Close the document.

4. Create a new document using the template (double-click on the template or if you are using Office 97-2003, File>New (from template) and choose your template).

5. Turn off protection in the new document.

Note: This is useful information for those who intend to protect their documents!

Working with Office Documents on the Web Part I.

I work on multiple computers and I sometimes have trouble with version control. I thought I would solve the problem by only working on one computer for one set of clients, and on the other computer for other clients. However, as  freelancer, I answer email messages all day and I download files on the computer where I happen to be working. Then, I edit, upload…and so on. Hence my dilemma with version control.

I have used Google Docs on occasion and it worked fine as long as I didn’t have to download the spreadsheet or word processing document, which rendered the document useless. Online, the versions worked as well as Excel and Word but with some annoying delays that I could never overcome regardless of the type of web browser I was using.

Well, now Microsoft has come out with Windows Live Workspace (workspace.officelive.com/)

It’s in beta stage but it looks promising.  I’ll be back to revise this post after I use it more to let you know if it helps me!

If you’re already using Windows Live Workspace, let me know how it’s working for you! Let’s share ideas!

Job Search Sites

Well it’s not as hard as it used to be to look for a work from home job. Several companies have sprung up all over the world with the at home work model. So where can you find a job?

Please note, I am writing from my personal experience: I am not being compensated by any job search website company. In addition, I will check out any website that is suggested in the comments prior to approving a posted comment. I am interested in posting information on sites that are credible and useful to jobseekers!

Finding credible posts can take time on any job search site but even filtering through the most legitimate sites like careerbuilder, indeed.com, simplyhired.com and hotjobs.com is sometimes a chore. Some websites cater to at-home job seekers, such as genuinejobs.com. Many of the genuinejobs postings are from other sites. I’ve actually found some good opportunities on this site and landed a contract opportunity that I’ve had since 2008. That particular job is with a legitimate company with a website, email address and telephone number for whom I was able to find company documents on the state commerce department’s website. Hint: take the time research the background of a company!

Recently I found Element Care, a company based in the southeast offering part-time and full-time customer service jobs. Their qualifying process was very relevant and the home office technology requirements were pretty standard. They have a two week full-time training session which is mandatory so make sure there’s time for this if this sounds like an interesting job to you! I’ve had to postpone working with them until I can set aside the required 40 hours.

In the past, I’ve posted on jobs from sologig.com but I haven’t found anything recently. One thing I would like to see on that site is the post date of the jobs, to be able to determine how fresh the content is. Right now there is no way to tell whether a job was posted yesterday, or last month.

For translators, ProZ.com is a good site. Membership is free and the site allows a user to submit a limited number of free bids. After that point, a membership can be purchased–I’ve used the site for three years and it’s definitely worth the yearly fee. I’m sure that I’m not using all of the features of my membership.

There are quite a few other freelance pay sites out there that won’t allow a free trial period and since I’m not willing to subscribe to an unproven search site (it’s rather counter productive to have an unemployed person to pay for access without proving that the site is reliable, don’t you think?), I won’t even mention them.

What sites have you used to find online jobs? Let’s share ideas!

The Work at Home Career – A Journey

When I was in my second year of my first graduate program, I developed the motto: Life is a journey; wear comfortable shoes. My new motto hasn’t quite been developed yet but it could be something along the lines of: Computer technology changes quickly; don’t get too comfortable with what you know!

In part II of my get a “real” job or work from home post, I wrote that I wish I didn’t have to “be the accounts payable, accounts receivable, marketing, scheduler, project manager, customer service, order fulfillment, sales and service departments when all I really get paid for is the order fulfillment (the rest is overhead!).” I understand that there are software programs that will reduce the amount of time that I have to use on management and administrative matters.

Thus, in this journey, I will address various topics and, I hope, obtain feedback from others that will make our work at home experiences better. Future blogs will about using office technology to reduce the effort in performing various management and administrative functions (scheduling, accounting, tax submissions, customer service, marketing, etc.), managing your finances, maintaining computer security, and of course, getting paid (alas, it is mentioned last but not the least of your worries).

Let’s share ideas!

Work Environment: Where do you work?

(polls)

Part II. Get a “real” job, or work at home?

Yesterday I wrote about some of my perceptions about working independently or with a company. Some may view those ideas a little differently than I do. Today the topic turns to disadvantages of working from home and working from the office.

I participated in a conference call this morning to discuss a potential training opportunity. One of the things I miss about working in-office is the face-to-face interaction. It’s great to be able to shake hands with someone to establish rapport.

Working from home Disadvantages

I wish I didn’t have to…

Buy my own software—it gets expensive, pay for software upgrades myself, maintain my computer’s safety, watching for viruses that I normally wouldn’t be exposed to if I hadn’t decided to use the computer for various on-line jobs; work such long hours that I have to put in sometimes to get work done—there’s no quitting time; be the accounts payable, accounts receivable, marketing, scheduler, project manager, customer service, order fulfillment, sales and service departments when all I really get paid for is the order fulfillment (the rest is overhead!); lower rates of pay (* see previous post concerning pay), and finally; work with people I never get to meet in person so much.

Working from Office Disadvantages

Well, it has been a while since I worked full-time in an office environment so my memory is a bit fuzzy. What I liked least was having to…

Get to work at 7:00 a.m. and leave by 4:00 p.m. or after 6:00 p.m. to avoid traffic (this was when I commuted a long distance); less flexibility to choose working at home on some days (like days when it snowed and I didn’t want to slide off the road); catching colds and sharing germs with colleagues and clients; and what I liked least of all was office politics (need I say more?).

So what are your thoughts on advantages and disadvantages? Let’s share ideas!

Part I. Get a “real” job, or work at home?

Getting “real” job is really tough these days so for those of us who have been making a living working from our home computers, bearing the weight of this economy may not be as difficult as for our corporate friends and family. Of course, business has indeed slowed down for the at-home freelancers—no one is truly safe from the downturn. But for many of us, depending on the employment situation where we live, there is simply no choice—work at home is the only option.

I personally have been splitting my time between part-time teaching and training assignments and work I can do at home from my computer, work that I have been doing steadily since 2007. I have a great deal of education, which makes me attractive as an instructor, but employers are often wary of individuals with multiple degrees.

Now, let me get to the purpose of this post: should I try to get a “real” job, meaning a job in a company outside my home, or should I put more effort into building my at-home business? Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of both. Keep in mind, these are my opinions and I invite you to offer your opinions about this topic, whether you are working at home or outside your home!

At Home Advantages

Working at home I get to…

work when I prefer (I am a night owl now but I used to be an early bird), work in pajamas, have a virtual colleague network,  concentrate on what I’m doing without interruptions; set up home office with fax, computer, cell phone, printer, VoIP service, etc.—>i.e., learn more about technology to get things done faster (*the reason for this blog!*), spend mornings and evenings with family, lower my car expenses (gas, tires), provide de facto home security guard service (lol), have healthier lunches and snacks (well, except this week b/c I bought a big bag of Hershey’s miniatures last weekend)

Company Job Advantages

Working for a company I get to…

have a structured schedule, leave the house every day, make more money (depending on the commute distance, car expenses, drycleaning, etc. factors), interact with real people on a daily basis; possibly travel, get a promotion, company car, company computer, cell phone, have power lunches (lol again)

Now that I’ve given some of my ideas regarding advantages, I will finish this topic up tomorrow and discuss disadvantages of each. Please be sure to comment on advantages, pro’s, the positives of your work environment!

All the best,

Mack