Technology Hates Me



I’ve been working with technology since I left school. That’s a LONG time ago.

I can turn my hand to pretty much anything.

Over the years I’ve learnt new computer systems, tested new computer systems and helped design computer systems. All in a very small way, but I still did it.

I taught myself to code (just the basics because the real stuff is still on my to-do list).

I’ve used a couple of pretty complicated fractal systems and a Processing system and learnt the theory behind the practice, just so I knew what was happening when I used my intuition to create art. You can see some of my fractal artwork here.

I can use InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator and love playing with new software.

I can pretty much pick up a piece of software and learn it. It may take a little while, but I can set my hand to most anything.

I’m not so good with the hardware, but software is usually ok.

As long as it isn’t bloody email!

rage, anger, frustration

I do swear that the email gods are out to get me.

Lately dear old AOL (I know, I really should change) has been less than satisfactory. Being blocked by other ISPs is a pain when you don’t even know it’s happening.

I first realised something was amiss when the old Tiscali account I use was not getting through to some people on my theatre group list. Some important emails weren’t getting through – I found out by accident at a committee meeting.

Then the AOL account I use for work was sending emails out into the ether. Luckily they weren’t important ones, but hell … work emails are important. I was receiving, but some sent emails were flying free and not hitting their target. Thank goodness for follow up emails from a different account.

So … yesterday I bit the bullet and decided to buy myself a nice, shiny, professional email account to go with my website.

And it didn’t bloody work. Aaaargh!

alien scream

This time the email gods were laughing at me – I could send emails from the account, but couldn’t receive. It was something to do with the fact that my domain has been bought through one company and linked up with WordPress, and I bought the email through that company rather than good old WordPress, whom I adore. OK, my domain provider had a sale on. I’d had wine. It was an impulse purchase.

On screen everything seemed correct … but it just wasn’t working. And I went to the support site TWO MINUTES after it had shut its live chat help thing (I sent an email instead … from my Tiscali account, dear gods it’s getting worse).

I know I now have it sorted, thanks to help from the lovely George, but hours faffing about with DNS, TMP, SMTP and all that jazz really wasn’t how I intended to spend my evening.


I spent a few hours on Tuesday night changing over emails on accounts that use Tiscali, which included some website accounts I’d totally forgotten used that email address.

It made me realise that we spend our lives tied to stupid bits of software that allow us to talk to people, connect, spend money and do all kinds of online things. We get tied in and it becomes increasingly difficult the longer you stay loyal to one company.

caught, handcuffed, tied in

Why is it so damned difficult to manage our online lives?

I know I figured out my business email, but why are things so user unfriendly in these days of UX (that’s User Experience to you and me). One ‘help’ video was actually just telling you to figure out if it was the webmail or your third party email client that was at fault and redirected you to a useless page after that. It took me twenty minutes just to find the relevant help pages. And when I did get help from the lovely George after contacting support, it took me fifteen minutes on WordPress to find the relevant pages that explained what I needed to do.

happy email people

I’ll eventually migrate my ‘normal’ emails from Tiscali and AOL to … something else. But it may well suck the life out of me. In the meantime,  you can use my swanky new email address (which is also on my contact page) if you need to get in touch with me.

Give me a new piece of software over email any day – it’s so much easier to deal with.


Eyecare and the Editor

Eye on Flat Panel Monitor

I’m sitting at my laptop after a hectic day off. Yes, I finally managed a whole day off. I don’t normally work through weekends but as things have been a bit full-on I decided (that’s I decided … my clients didn’t decide for me) to work right through the last few months to get some deadlines comfortably met.

So, today I had a day off, and my new glasses arrived.

Ever since I was 18, and my husband (at the time my boyfriend) and my mum frogmarched me into the opticians, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the men and women in white coats.

I was fine. Who needed to see if you could ask the little old lady next to you at the bus stop what the number of the bus just arriving was?

Red London Bus

But that was 30 years ago.

Since then I’ve had an assortment of really rather crappy specs – from roundish glasses that made me look like a moon, to geeky heavy frames that I liked and no-one else did.

If I’m totally honest I hate having to wear glasses. There are few that suit me as I seem to have quite a small, weird face. My last visit to the opticians resulted in me trying on every single pair of specs in the whole shop and coming away with one pair that I didn’t mind. I actually rather like them now, but it’s not much of a consolation for hours spent looking for the right pair. Oh, how I envy those women who suit all types of glasses and look elegant and intelligent in them.

Sara Donaldson in specs

I didn’t mind these, but they were retired in June

As an editor I know I have to look after my eyes, but it really doesn’t make it any easier when suddenly you can’t see close-up in your contact lenses any more.

At my last appointment in June I heard the dreaded word – varifocals.


I’m old and I have crap eyesight. I don’t know what’s worse.

I resisted.

I bought some distance glasses and persevered.

That didn’t work.

So last week I ordered four pairs of specs from Glasses Direct to try on. Two frivolous ones, and two that are very much like my distance glasses (only slightly larger as they are supposed to fit a normal-sized head). Guess which ones I ordered?

The nice lady optician on the phone mentioned ‘occupational glasses’ (whatever they are) as something I could look out for in future, but I still semi-resisted and ordered a pair of reading glasses and some … *deep breath* … varifocals.

Sara Donaldson's stare

I’m not judging you, I’m pondering my weird small face.

Dear reader, I’m hedging my bets. I now have a pair of reading glasses and am waiting for the Devil’s lenses to arrive next week. I like the idea that if I hate the old lady glasses I can be even more of an old lady and swap between distance and reading glasses.

So what has this got to do with freelancing and editing?

Well, quite frankly I rely on my eyesight. If I can’t see, I can’t work. Simple as that. And working for hours on end on a computer certainly hasn’t helped my eyes one little bit. I’ve noticed a marked deterioration in the last few years since my editing business has steadily grown.

So what do I do? I certainly can’t take on less work (hey, we all have bills to pay and I love my job).

I’ll be:

  • Following the recommendations from the College of Optometrists on eyecare when using screens.
  • Trying to get on with varifocals. They can take some getting used to apparently, and although I hate the thought of them I will keep an open mind and persevere.
  • Looking into getting contact lenses again. Expensive varifocal ones this time.
  • Trying on glasses when I fancy it, not just when my prescription is due. Specs are expensive, but self-care is important. And I will try the Glasses Direct home trial again … I may eventually find those frivolous specs I’ve always longed for.
  • Stopping with the ‘old lady’ thoughts. I may still think I’m 20, but I’m not. As long as I look after my eyes I’m still just me.

Being freelance, there may come a time when I’m wearing second-hand glasses tied together with string so, while I’m able, I’m going to take my eyesight more seriously and actively look after it.

Still pondering.

Still pondering.


If Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters were editors

Eye red and black


Since October I’ve been fully booked up with work, and have been working more hours than usual. In fact, I ended up working over Christmas and New Year, which is something I rarely do (and I won’t be doing again in a hurry).

So enough of being serious … I’ve been binge-watching Buffy with my family to relax and unwind after a long day’s hard editing. And as I sit here on my new snuggle chair (hurrah, good riddance to my old, manky brown suite) I’ve written up a bit of a silly article for the new year.


If you know Buffy you might relate; if you have never watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, well,  shame on you … go and watch it now. Stop what you are doing, seek it out and come back here when you have ‘the knowledge’.

Ladies and gentleman – I give you … what happened to the characters of Buffy when they decided that saving the world from vampires was a bit too much, and set up their own editing firm instead.

Shelf of old books

The Master had been defeated (again) and the world was saved from destruction. But those pesky vampires and demons just wouldn’t quit. So the Scooby gang quit instead, and while Angel swanned off to LA (again), the gang set up shop in the old school library, hung up their sign and formed themselves into a company of editors – Esoteric Editorial (not to be confused with any non-Buffy universe companies of the same name).

Here’s how they got on …

Red pencil not quite a pointy stick

Buffy – She went in for the kill, hit the manuscript hard and took no prisoners. Forget empathy, this lady would tell it like it is and go straight with a stake to the heart of the writer.

Giles – A thoughtful editor, he would use all the books in his arsenal to make the documents as perfect as possible (although he might not exactly go with the times and remain a tad archaic). His subject specialism was demonology and English weaponry of the C15th­–C21st.

Xander – A bit slapdash with his editing, he’d start and get a little bit distracted. But he made great coffee.

Willow – Meticulous in her work, Willow would spend all day looking through the manuscript, then all night worrying that she’d make a mistake.

Cordelia – Not really bothered about the writing, she was more interested in making the document look good. Cordy was the perfect designer: forget the words, it’s all good just as long as they look pretty.

pretty gold book

Angel – All angst and looking off into the middle distance, obviously he did the night shift and got those last minute jobs done … from his office in LA, away from the temptations of the library.

Oz – Would spend all of his time being very laid back and cool, then, a few days a month, would accidentally eat the manuscript and have to explain to his client that the dog ate his homework.

Faith – She’d skim it over, toss the document back and say it’s fine.

Kendra – She’d just sit in a corner with Mr Pointy, avoiding the men.

Spike – Would tear the manuscript up and tell the writer that they were an arse. Or just pour a drink on it and set it on fire.

Drusilla – Would look at the work, find something wrong then get upset and go play with her dolls instead.

burning magic book

Anya – It was all about the money with Anya … get the work done quickly and get the money (how else can you buy pretty things?). She was also the firm’s accountant and made sure the women received the same pay as the men.

Jenny Calendar – Well, she would do it all with computers and tried her hardest to figure out just why computers can’t do everything.

Jonathan – He tried to design a robot to do all the work for him. He’s probably still in the basement

Dawn – Eventually she would pretend that she was just a figment of the writer’s imagination and refuse to do the work.

Joyce – Would deny that anything was wrong.

Principle Snyder – Would occasionally barge into the office, point out all the errors, recite all the rules of grammar and writing and would make sure you knew exactly where you went wrong and how to fix it. Now.

Riley – Who cares. Really? Does anyone even remember him?

book as memories

So there you go … the Scooby Gang as editorial types.

Who says articles have to be serious?



With thanks to team Donaldson for some of the ideas. I’d write more but I’ve got more Buffy to watch.