How to work from home (If you really need to work on your work computer rather than a laptop)

Working from home is a good way to help slow down the covid 19 pandemic. The thing is, what do you do when your laptop is not very powerful, or doesn’t have the network or software resources you use at work? What if a document you need now is on your work computer?

If the company you work for is smaller or doesn’t have dedicated IT staff, there may not already be a tool in place to help.

Working on your laptop, while feeling like you are on your work computer

There is a solution that allows you to work on your laptop from home almost exactly as if you were working on your workstation at work. If your work network admins will permit  you to use it, all it takes is installing software on both your workstation and work and your laptop. It doesn’t need a particularly fast connection to the internet and you won’t notice the latency (slow response) that you might experience on other types of remote access. It is also very secure.

Use a mac at home and a pc at work? No problem.

TeamViewer is the same tool tech support staff use to ‘take over’ your computer to help you with a technical problem, but used to let you take over your own computer from your laptop working remotely. You use your mouse and screen and keyboard just as you normally would and can save your documents on your work computer or network the way you normally would. It doesn’t even matter if your laptop is a different operating system than your work computer.

I’ve used it in my own office to allow me to work remotely on my laptop, while still accessing all the software and power of my workstation.

The tool is secure and uses a password to access your workstation. Your work computer has to remain on and connected to the internet for you to be able to use it remotely, but the screen can be turned off.

Need help?

If you or your company would like some help getting set up to work remotely, I can help.  Pricing for the Teamviewer for remote access starts at $20 USD per month on a one year plan. Give me a call at 604-813-7674 and I can help you get set up.

Who do you recommend for…

Who do you recommend for…

I have been working in this field for 20+ years and have some trusted providers I work with, that I can recommend. I’m sharing them with you.

Web hosting and domain registration

Fused Network – David and his staff at Fused are Canadian and competent, two of my favourite things. I host my own websites with Fused and have moved several clients to them when their existing hosting has issues. They’ve agreed to offer any users I refer free migration (they move your site for free),  audit the website for malware on arrival. These guys usually get back to me within the hour when I have questions or issues, so I recommend them without qualification. They are mid-range in terms of price, but the great service alone is worth paying slightly more for business users over low-value budget hosts.

Computer repairs / hardware setup

At the beginning of my career I did computer repairs and setup but I now specialize in different areas. Since then, I have referred several people to Vancouver-based Sarah Millin of Make IT Work Computer Solutions with good results. I also regularly take my own computer hardware to PC Galore (see below) and The Hackery for computer repairs and upgrades.

Affordable, environmentally friendly computer hardware with advice?

I have been buying computers from PC Galore in Vancouver for 20 years. Greg and his staff are competent, ethical and reliable and have a good selection of reusable computer equipment, which fits with my environmental values. I have regularly referred clients there over the years, and have always heard good things.



CanadaHelps online donation forms have come a long way

CanadaHelps is a non-profit online donation processing service for Canadian registered charities.  They are similar to an online ‘United Way’ – a charity themselves, they accept the donation and receipt it (the donor receives a receipt immediately via email), and then direct the money to the specific charity less the credit card processing fee.

When first started many years ago, Charities had to redirect their donors from their own web site to a page on the CanadaHelps website to process their donations of money or securities.  This was okay, but did not allow you to customize the form much for your audience, and was sometimes confusing, as the different, unbranded appearance on CanadaHelps  might dissuade donors.

Now, CanadaHelps allows you to create very attractive donation page that you can embed in your own website, allowing you to keep your donors on your own site, reassure them they are donating in the right place, and pitch the donation in a way that works best for your organization. Here is some more information on this from CanadaHelps.

If you haven’t worked with CanadaHelps before, you will need to set up an account with them for your charity, and verify that you are actually the legal representative of that charity. This process is fairly straightforward, mostly consisting of uploading documents they request. You will also need to connect your bank account so that they can depost the donations to you.  Once you have an account, there is a setup wizard to walk you through creating the embeddable donation page, and at the end you will be provided with code that can be pasted in to your website.

If you need help getting set up for online donations or to improve the process of collecting online donations on your website,  I can assist or look after any of the setup process for you affordably. As long as you are a registered Canadian charity the process is quite simple. If you are an non-profit but not a registered charity, I can help with that too.

Contact Sophia Kelly at Tailored Tech for more information at 604-813-7674.  Free one hour consultation is available for organizations ten or more employees.

WordPress’ New Gutenberg Editing Style – hate it or love it?

I manage a lot of WordPress websites. I design WordPress sites and I customize them to fit the needs of the companies and organizations I work for.  I am an expert user of WordPress, and as needed, I can program in the underlying php code that runs it, and design and alter themes that display information from the WordPress database attractively on web sites in many ways.

When I am hired to improve sites I didn’t originally design, I am often called in to fix something that the non-expert staff member who normally maintains the site can’t figure out, or to add a more sophisticated enhancement or feature to an existing site. I provide advice to improve search engine optimization to attract the right vistors, and design the structure of pages to encourage actions like learning about products and contacting companies to buy them.

I like to be able to get under the hood easily, see what is going on quickly and fix it using familiar and reliable tools.

I’m not a fan of Gutenberg, wordpress’ new editing ‘experience’.

What is Gutenberg?

Starting with WordPress version  5.0, the editor used for changing pages and posts on wordpress sites is completely different. Shockingly different, in the ‘where the heck are all my tools to do a simple thing like bolding a word or making a list?’ way.

Going for a more streamlined experience similar to tools like squarespace, WordPress has created an editor that hides everything it thinks you don’t need at the moment. More importantly, it allows you to add blocks of text, images and other objects, and then move them around at will.

This sounds like a great idea.

Until you try and implement it on a site with a theme you like, but which is not optimized for Gutenberg. Creating a new page or post with Gutenberg and trying out some of the new blocks can result in some spectacularly awful layout. And without the ability to just turn on the html tab and fix anything that isn’t working, it can be frustrating to sort out.

What’s good about Gutenberg?

If you have a Gutenberg friendly theme you can try out a bunch of block features that would be more time consuming to program on your own or using a plugin. 

You can drag and drop blocks of text or images to various places on your page. In a what you see is what you get format, you can create text columns and buttons more easily. It might be easier to make complex layouts for a complete novice (while frustrating the heck out of us old hands) with features allowing you to change size of text and colours of buttons without using css or html.

Lastly there is full-width alignment for images, which will stretch an image to fill the whole width of the page. This will look great if you have a template that allows for full width alignment, but be warned, it will look terrible if you don’t.

How do I check Gutenberg out?

For an easy start when getting familiar with the new interface, try using twenty nineteen, a free theme created by . When starting a new site, you can also search for themes that are Gutenberg ready by using the word Gutenberg when searching the theme directory. You can switch themes on an existing low traffic site to check it out, or start a fresh working site to explore the features.

Do you recommend using Gutenberg?

I do not recommend using Gutenberg on an existing site of any complexity.  You will likely already have design and features that are made cumbersome to use by Gutenberg’s interface. You will have staff who are already trained to update the site in a different way, and people hate to change the way they do things when there is negligible value in exchange.

I do not recommend using Gutenberg if you want to prevent staff in large organizations from riding madly off in all directions design-wise. The interface makes it easier for people to override the site-wide design standards that keep pages looking consistent.

You may wish to use Gutenberg if:

  • you have never used WordPress before
  • you are creating a new website and don’t have anything on it yet
  • you like to drag and drop blocks of text or images and move them around.
  • you don’t use html  or css hand coding in your posts
  • you don’t need to enforce design consistency across your site when multiple people are editing.
  • you are using a Gutenberg friendly theme

Aye, there’s the rub

Gutenberg ready themes are already being created and more and more will become available, but some of the most popular themes, or the one you are already happy with, may not be. In that case, you can either chose from the selection of compatable themes, or simply  install  the classic editor plugin.

How do I make Gutenberg go away?

Luckily, you don’t have to use Gutenberg.

If you don’t want to learn a new way to edit your wordpress site or find it cumbersome to accomplish basic tasks in Gutenberg, you don’t have to use it. WordPress has created a plugin you can install that returns everything to the way it was. This plugin is called the classic editor plugin and is available here. Install, activate, and everything returns to the familiar.

Things I do for my clients (that aren’t obvious)

The things my clients find most valuable aren’t that easy to put in a business description.

  • Investigate options they are considering with an educated, experienced eye, giving them a neutral evaluation of vendors, technologies or solutions.
  • Discover what they know about their best clients and what makes them happy, and apply that go the given situation for them, making educated targeted recommendations.
  • Save money and time for their business and staff by finding efficiencies and easier ways of doing things.
  • Find out from their staff the honest truth about what practices are actually working, actually used and actually found valuable. Similarly finding out who the key staff are to make sure a project is successful and what they need to support them.
  • Help them prioritize their wants and needs based on their most important goals.
  • Enable them to let go of ongoing worry about important projects or sales tools by taking it off their hands, performing it competently and demonstrating success.
  • Enable non-profits to focus on serving their constituencies, by looking after planning and collecting evaluation data and writing to-the-point reports to demonstrate value to funders.

I offer a free initial consultation. Call 604-813-7674 to get started.

Fix Your Website, Database or other IT System

Many of my clients come to me with a website  or other system that meets most of their needs but is missing something they want.  Did you buy a new website, database or software system and then realize it needs some changes to fit your needs? Or find you don’t have the capacity to learn how to use it or set it up?

I love tailoring existing systems and sites to fit you better. Let’s talk about what you want and need and let me save you work and make the most of your investment.

Considering spending a bunch of money on a new website, email system or file storage system? Let me look over the options for you and advise you on what will fit your people and needs best, for the right price. With 20 years of experience, I can help prevent wasted money and effort that comes from the wrong choice or implementation.

Common things people ask me to add to their sites:

  • Search engine optimization
  • Online donations or membership renewals
  • Adding calls to action to  help clients do what you want them to do with the site.
  • Reworking site design to fix issues you’ve discovered when using it
  • Solving that setup issue or change you just couldn’t figure out how to do and couldn’t find in the manual
  • Providing training or documentation for staff on the new system, specific to your business.

Tailored Tech Values

I have been helping non-profit and entrepreneur clients do good things better since the mid 1990s. I am experienced and practical, and enjoy getting useful things done.
These are the values I have worked by in over 20 years of business.

-Sophia Kelly, owner, Tailored Tech

  1. Know your client and their workers – what they need, what their problems are from their perspective. Find out how they think, what their learning style is, how they process and interact with information, so you can communicate most effectively with them.
  2. Be interested in how they do things now and why. Find out what works and what doesn’t, and why the client thinks that is so.
  3. Build trust. Listen. Own your mistakes if you make them and resolve them immediately. Under-promise and over-deliver. Demonstrate that you have done all this.
  4. Be paid fairly for your work. Document and sign off. Be retained and then deliver. Hold the client responsible for their part but take the rest off their hands and make it all better.
  5. Be compassionate. Be honest. Be direct and frank. Own your expertise and give clear advice.
  6. Make technology less complicated and less scary. Help organizations change in compassionate and helpful ways which are worth the effort.
  7. Recommend the least invasive solution that will work, solve the problem and disrupt the clients workflow the least. Right-sized, appropriate technology is often a better fit than a flashy, radical change.
  8. Listen, synergize information you receive from the client and pull in other information to find a solution that fits.
  9. Solve problems. Think about marketing and design impact from the perspective of the clients customers and stakeholders. Shape everything to meet the goal along the way.
  10. Write clearly. Explain things well. Plan for being able to measure results easily and effectively.
  11. Work should not feel like a bureaucracy. Keep your eyes on actually making a difference and helping people in practical ways.
  12. Support strengths. Find the gems and assets that already exist and expand their use and impact. Document existing best practices and expand them.
  13. Help people do good things better.

Case Study: Online Support Group Project

Sophia Kelly of Tailored Tech implemented and managed the Family Member online support group system for the British Columbia Schizophrenia Society and HereToHelp.

The system provides a place for loved ones of persons with a serious mental illness a place to ask questions, get referrals and share their experiences with others.

The technical aspects of the project include a confidentiality-enhanced login system, spam control, friendly reminders to inactive members, and complete French (as well as English) language support at the option of the user. The multi-language interface included separate formatting and content design details specific to each language, including sponsor logos. The project marketing was also handled by Tailored Tech, including opt-in family resource email newsletters and a calendar of in-person support event. The entire project was managed with excellent evaluation and under budget.

Has your organization located funding for a project, but you don’t have the internal capacity to get it up and running? Tailored Tech can help with project implementation,  management and assessment support.

Contact us to discuss your requirements at 604-813-7674.