A scary “Window” to the future

Windows. It’s what all PC users (like me) call home when we work.

(If you are a Mac user, I have nothing against you at all, but I must warn you that this post will not be relevant to you, since I do not know the Mac operating system. However, I would like to learn it someday.)

I first became aware of Windows around 1990. I was on my high school’s newspaper (I was the copy editor) and the editors of each section often used software called PageMaker, which ran in Windows. Of all the computers in our school, the ones in the journalism room were the only ones with Windows. I’m not joking. The others had, among other software, WordPerfect. That’s how old I am, folks.

My husband and I have a couple of computers between us; one is the laptop on which I am typing this post. The other is a desktop that we got at the beginning of (gasp!) 2015. Yes, it is eight years old. It has done a good job for the last eight years, but it is now as slow as molasses. Still, my husband uses it every day and I use it for “fun stuff” like watching YouTube videos or listening to music. My laptop is pretty much reserved for my work.

Both of our computers are currently running Windows 10. Our now-ancient desktop ran Windows 7 when we bought it. It automatically upgraded to Windows 10 a few years later. At the time, I was quite anxious about this. I was on Facebook at the time and I posted, “Our computer automatically upgraded to Windows 10 last night. Should I be concerned?”

My cousin replied, “Go back to 7 right now! Windows 10 will spy on you!” Very reassuring. However, we decided to keep Windows 10. I have no idea whether it is spying on us.

These days, my laptop prompts me about once a week to upgrade to Windows 11. The idea of this scares me. I have seen posts written on the EFA Discussion List about people who have lost their macros and had PerfectIt crash when they upgraded to Windows 11. Therefore, I am skeptical and paranoid. I have a gut feeling that one day my laptop will automatically upgrade, and then I will be thrown to the wolves. I will have to reinstall my macros and write to PerfectIt’s parent company’s tech support. That day has not come yet, however.

Do you use Windows 11? What has been your experience with it so far?

Taxes…are so very…TAXING!

That’s why my husband and I went last weekend to a well-known tax preparation organization. The woman who did our taxes was highly professional and friendly and knew what she was doing. But I digress.

For a (too-long) time, we did our taxes on our own. Doing so would take about a day, lots of groaning, and the last of our patience. Gone were the days when we had only one W-2 for each of our jobs and could use the simple 1040EZ. Suddenly, we also had 1099s for my freelancing and had to fill out Schedule C, Schedule 1, and Schedule SE. And do lots of math. Did I mention that I never liked math?

Let’s talk about these forms for a minute, for those who may not be familiar with them.

Schedule C is for reporting income or loss from a business you operated or a profession you practiced as a sole proprietor. (Source: IRS) This applies to yours truly, since I operate Fiedler Editorial as a sole proprietor. I must report my profit (or loss) for the year on this form. My business expenses are also listed; whether I use a professional or not, I must keep good records of what I spend money on, how much money, and when and where I spent it. (NOTE: Our tax preparer really liked the printout of the expenses spreadsheet that I kept throughout the year. It pays to be neat.)

Schedule 1 is, in a freelance editor’s case, income from self-employment. (Source: IRS) It is also for several kinds of other income not directly reported on the 1040, but I won’t get into all of those here and bore you to death.

Schedule SE, which stands for Self-Employment, is for figuring the tax due on net earnings from self-employment. The Social Security Administration uses the information from Schedule SE to figure your benefits under the Social Security program.(Source: IRS) Everybody (that I know of) wants Social Security benefits once they qualify, and if you don’t have an employer who is taking money out of your paycheck for Social Security (i.e., you are self-employed), then you had better be filling out the Schedule SE.

I wish you the best on your tax preparation this year, whether you use a tax expert or not, and I hope you get a nice refund.

What’s outside my window?

An editor who works from home must deal with many distractions, and from nowhere do most distractions come than outside her window. At least, such is the case with yours truly.

In our condo’s second bedroom, which my husband and I made into an office, there is one window, which happens to be located behind and to the right of my work desk. For the most part, I like that window, because it lets the light into the office and I thrive on sunlight (Give me some Vitamin D!). Also, when the weather is nice, I turn off the heat/AC and open the window, letting it bless me with fresh air.

Alas, not all that comes from the window is good for editing. Despite the fact that I live on a fairly quiet, suburban street, many distractions come from the window and threaten my concentration while I am working. I have to make an effort to keep my brain focused on my editing and not on the following potential interrupters:

Cars. Ninety percent of cars I don’t even notice, but if one with a missing muffler or a blaring stereo goes down the street, it can threaten to break my focus.

Kids playing. This is usually only an issue around three o’clock in the afternoon, when the neighborhood kids get off the school bus. Now, don’t get me wrong—kids need to play outside every day. But I just might have to close the window while they are doing so.

The city street-cleaning vehicle. I’m not sure what else to call this weird-looking, cube-shaped thing. All I know is that on Thursdays, it travels slowly and noisily along the curb with its brushes spinning as it keeps our street clean.

And last, but not least, there is the occasional emergency vehicle going by with its siren screaming. God bless the first responders who rush to the scene of an emergency. But it’s just that…well…the wail of the siren can be quite anxiety-provoking for me.

So what do I do to stay focused? I have to catch myself when I sense my mind starting to wander. This takes discipline and a strong will. After all, I am not in the office to look out the window. I am in the office to work.

What distracts you the most when you are working?