Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Social Media Handbook: New book out in January 2010

If you're wondering what to make of all the cross-traffic on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter... wonder no more. I've put together a small book called Social Media Handbook, and will announce its availability here next month.

While most of the social media sites are temporary blips on the radar, more companies are using them to reach the friends of the friends of their friends, and the impact on society is undeniable.

I myself am a Twitter quitter, but participate in Facebook and LinkedIn, just enough to say I'm out there.

But this kind of stuff... just not worth any energy:

Connect with Twitter?

"Would you like to connect TweetMeme and Twitter together to be able to easily and quickly tweet your links? You will be able to edit your tweets before they are tweeted."

Hmmm. I think I'll just say 'no.'

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Favorite new toy: Windows 7 under the tree

If you're wishing for a new computer, I hope you find a Windows 7 PC or laptop under your tree. If you have a Windows XP computer with enough power, memory and disk space, you can get by with a shiny new Windows 7 DVD and install it over Windows XP.

It's not quite as easy as opening a box with a fully configured Windows 7 set up on a hot new computer, so here's a link to some resources to help you if you choose to upgrade over Windows XP.

The Windows 7 Easy Transfer process will copy all your data files to the new computer (cross-over cable required)

Microsoft installation guide for each version

TechFlash guide to loading Windows 7 over XP

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Holiday Gift Idea #1

If you have a techie on your holiday gift list, perhaps he/she is too smart to need Computer Ease, but here's a great gift idea...

For the techie who has everything and no pockets to carry it all....

Acccording to the Scottevest.com web site, this jacket has:
# Patented Personal Area Network (PAN)
# Interior cell phone pocket (connects to PAN)
# Interior iPhone/iPod/iTouch pocket (connects to PAN)
# Travel documents pocket
# PubPocket - typically large enough to hold a magazine, eBook reader or small netbook
# Camera pocket and ID/business cards pocket
# Eyeglass pocket, including chamois with versatile clip
# Magnetic pocket closures

it even has "Clear Touch fabric, allowing a traveler to see and control their iPod and cell phones through the fabric." Quite possibly the coolest way to stay warm this winter!

Helen Gallagher

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Reverse Ingenuity

Here's a twist: Converting a PDF back to Word. Most people ask me for help increating a PDF but we used to need the full version of Adobe to make a .pdf editable.

This is the answer - and it's a free download from www.pdftoword.com

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Windows 7 features continue to impress

Besides the fresh new look and fast performance of computers running Windows 7, here are a few more impressive reasons to move up or to add a Windows 7 computer to your life.

Easily partition the large hard drive into two. Why? With Windows on C: and your data all on D: if there is a system crash and you need to reload Windows, it won't disturb your data.

Use Windows Easy Transfer software to copy from old to new. (Cable required). TIP: Clean out all your temp files before copying.

Windows has a Backup utility.

If you have more than one Windows 7 computer at home, you can use a wi-fi signal to share files.

What's missing? So far -- Outlook and Outlook Express. Outlook Express is gone forever, in favor of Windows Live, which encompasses mail and calendar programs. Outlook is still available in certain versions of Office 2003 and 2007.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Browser wars are over!

Netscape always reigned supreme in comparison to the dreadful Microsoft browser Internet Explorer.

When Netscape was devoured and killed by AOL, the Netscape development team at Mozilla created SeaMonkey. Then Firefox from the same team, made browsing a dream, but lacked the integrated email that Netscape and SeaMonkey had. So that required using Thunderbird, a separate email program.

NOW - Seamonkey 2.0 is .. get this: A combination of Firefox and Thunderbird.
Are you dizzy yet?

AND the combo now includes the badly needed online, integrated calendar, so Lightning was embedded in Thunderbird.

So my personal experiences with the new Windows 7 operating system will immediately include launching SeaMonkey 2.0 to give me all three in one program:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A New, New Computer

Today is the launch day for Windows 7, the first new PC operating system in about seven years. I was one of the few to buy a new computer today. You know I did it for you -- so I can work with the new system and hep you with yours.

Windows 7 is available as a DVD to upgrade your Vista operating system. Prices for the DVD start at $119. And, I got a 15" laptop with Windows 7 for only $299. So you can see why it was such a good deal.

I'll report back soon on what hardware and software problems crop up, and explore some of the beneficial features. I'm hoping there are at least a few improvements in file management and intuitive interfaces. But for speed and performance... it rocks!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

New Tech Gifts for the Holidays

Just when you think there's nothing new in computers, along comes Quirky. Here are just a few of their clever product innovations on the market or coming soon.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Now this is what I call a useful error message

Okay, I admit I've been working lots of overtime the past few weeks, and not taking much time for the lighter side of life. But then I got this error message today, and finally had a good laugh:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Anti-big-burger Day

World Anti-McDonalds Day is October 16, 2009

World Anti-McDonalds Day is a global day of action against McDonalds, including protests against promotion of junk food, unethical targeting of children, exploitation of workers, animal cruelty, damage to the environment & the global domination of corporations, mass distribution of leaflets by local activists around the world. Coincides with U.N. World Food Day

Visit : www.mcspotlight.org. Contact : info@mwr.org.uk

While this a U.K. based organization, let me know if you're aware of a U.S. counterpart.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Internet is suddenly middle-aged

The Internet, as we know it, turned 40 - the big 4-0 this week.
Boing Boing celebrates the news and has an interesting video link... something the boys in the lab couldn't have imagined in 1969.

"Forty years ago today, in Leonard Kleinrock's UCLA lab, a group of computer scientists managed to pass bits of data from one computer to another over some some gray cable. In doing so, they created the first node of what we now call (long dramatic pause)... the Internet.

Kleinrock and colleagues were working with the government-backed Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), without which I would not be blogging these words today.

Now, some folks believe the actual "birthday" was October 29, 1969 - when Kleinrock sent the first message between two nodes, UCLA to Stanford. The message? "LO." As in "LO AND BEHOLD, THE INTERNET." Well, okay, not really. It was supposed to be "LOGIN" but the system crashed after Kleinrock typed "L" and "O."

See the video here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Move away from AOL to GMail

Free at last - - -
"Extracting your digital life from your old e-mail account has gotten a lot easier. In the spring, Google introduced a feature — made possible by the TrueSwitch e-mail switching service — that lets you import your address book and old messages from several other mail services into a new Gmail account.

First, sign up for a Gmail account (gmail.com) if you haven’t done so. Once you have created an account and have your new mailbox on screen, click the Settings link at the top of the Gmail window."
read the full post at David Pogue's Personal Tech column here.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Long before Email, there was Enigma

The Enigma is one of the world’s best known cipher machine, and today I had the opportunity to type one that’s 64 years old.

Designed to encrypt messages during wartime, the Enigma used a plugboard with cables and involved pressing keys with an incredible number of possible key settings and machine configurations.

It also had three rotors which wired 26 input contact points to 26 output contact points on alternate faces of a disc and 26 serrations around the edge of the rotors to denote the initial rotation of the rotors.

With 26 dual-holed sockets on the front panel of Enigma, and the plugboard cable to make a connection between any pair of letters, cryptographers had the ability to create codes once thought impossible to break. The astonishing number of possible configurations led to the machine’s success in WWII battle strategies.

The unit in these photos was on display at the Joint Statistical Marketing Conference in Washington D.C., on loan from the National Security Agency.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Don't be fooled once...

Most of my clients know not to click on a link in an email, even if it is from a Nigerian princess offering $12 million, if you'll give her your bank account number.

Use this trick to avoid being fooled by scams: Look at where the link points, such as the "Click Here" link in this message. If you rest your mouse on the link, and look in the lower left corner of your screen, you'll see the actual address where the link points. Look what this example shows... (Note: It is safe for you to click on this image, to enlarge and read it full size.)

I don't know the official address of the Canadian tax authorities, but I'm certain it is not igotmyloverback.com !!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

BING: Microsoft's search engine

Okay, so they are still a few years behind their competitors but Microsoft has crawled to the finish line with an attractive search tool. Their intent is to kill Google, no doubt, but mostly it will move use away from Yahoo, Clusty, and the minor search engines some of you have been using for ten years.

Bing is sharp looking, and the search results are intelligent. My favorite feature is the photo background. Maybe I'll get tired of it, but for now, it gets me every time.

Here are a few highlights from David Pogue's full review on the New York Times site. I'll give you just enough to make you start typing www.bing.com (or just 'bing' in Firefox) next time you think of using Google. Then go read David's full article, and become a convert:

"For example, if you search for a celebrity’s name, that space offers an attractive table of common-sense links: News, Movies, Quotes, Biography and Images. When you search for a sports team, you see Schedule, Tickets, Stadium, History and Wallpaper. When you search for a medical condition, that table offers Causes, Remedies, Treatment, Prognosis and News.

Both Bing and Google offer an Image Search page, where you can find photos from the Web of anyone or anything. On Bing, however, the results page scrolls forever — you don’t have to keep clicking Next, Next, Next.

As on Google, you can search for videos. But on Bing, you can preview the results far more efficiently. Just point to a thumbnail (without clicking) in the search results, and the video begins to play back sample segments, seven seconds at a time, right there on the thumbnail."

Read David Pogue's full and balanced review here

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The millionth word in the dictionary is....

CNN reports today:

"English contains more words than any other language on the planet and added its millionth word early Wednesday, according to the Global Language Monitor, a Web site that uses a math formula to estimate how often words are created.

The Global Language Monitor says the millionth word was added to English on Wednesday.

The site estimates the millionth English word, "Web 2.0" was added to the language Wednesday at 5:22 a.m. ET. The term refers to the second, more social generation of the Internet."

If you're stumped, you can download my ebook "The Mysterious World of Web 2.o here"

Friday, June 05, 2009

New Email Tool: PostBox

I am always searching for better email handling. Thunderbird, from Mozilla, the Firefox company has been working well for me since Netscape was shut down by its parent company.

But now I've learned at LifeHacker.com of this new program. All the benefits of Thunderbird, plus similarity to GMail. We can't go wrong using Postbox...

"Postbox - If you're not using your email's web interface, use this. It's basically Thunderbird, the open-source email client we'd previously included in our Lifehacker pack, but remixed with stronger, almost Gmail-like powers. It finds and indexes all the attachments in your email account, groups together conversations with similar subject chains with the "Gather" command (like Gmail's conversations), offers tabbed Inbox and message views, and lets you organize emails under your own chosen "Topics." It's also got built-in easy setup steps for Gmail and other webmail systems—in other words, everything we're waiting to see Thunderbird implement."

Source: Lifehacker.com
Download Postbox: http://postbox-inc.com/

Friday, May 29, 2009

BlogHer Conference in Chicago: July 23-25, 2009

Here are the details on the BlogHer Conference for Chicago this summer.

BlogHer '09 will be at the The Chicago Sheraton and Towers from July 23-25, 2009. We will kick off on Thursday July 23rd with out third annual BlogHer Business Conference, and will continue with the two-day 5th annual BlogHer Annual Conference on Friday and Saturday, July 24-25.

If you're a semi-pro1 blogger, and you are if you've paid attention to my workshops these last few years!) come and see what the online blogging life does to people once they show up in a group of thousands enjoying all Chicago has to offer. It's a chance to "celebrate blogging, whether personal, professional or political, has brought us real work, real friends, real satisfaction and is most definitely a significant part of our real life!" - Read more on their site.

Cross-posted at CClarity.blogspot.com

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Uh Oh... AOL is on the block

If you know me, you know I'm not a fan of America Online (AOL). It handcuffs your internet use and limits your abilities in many ways.

So I'm not sorry to tell you that parent company Time-Warner seeks to unload AOL. Any potential AOL had was exhausted by about 1997, and its not going to catch up now. Even its free service isn't keeping users on board.

So, to provide a moment of clarity, for all you @aol.com users, its time to move on.

1. If you have DSL or Comcast, you already have a better free email account included in your service, so your email address would end in @comcast.com, @att.net, etc.

2. You only need to send an email to everyone in your AOL address book and ask them all the email you at the new address. Then, as you receive replies from them, you add them to your new address book.

It's 2009 - time to move on !!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Effective Email

While the world waits for a better email system, here are four succinct points to use in your email messages to ensure you commmunicate effectively.

On Harvard Business Publishing, David Silverman writes an excellent brief on effective emails. His take is that emails should:

Call to Action. Say what you want the reader to do.

Say it Up Front. Don’t bury the message.

Assume Nothing. Include your behind-the-scenes thinking.

Do the Thinking. Avoid the generic “What are your thoughts?” atop a chain of previous emails.

Link to Source: BNET.com

Helen Gallagher

Monday, April 27, 2009

Recover a crashed USB flash drive

If you can manage to backup your files to USB drive, and keep track of where it lives: on your key chain, in the bottom of a bag, between couch cushions... your data is safe. But occasionally a flash drive just fails or becomes corrupted. You may plug it in and find no response, no data. If so, there is a recovery tool to help you:

Flash drive data recovery software.

Although, if you accidentally plant your flash drive in the garden this spring, you might want to purchase a new one.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Understanding Social Networking: Twitter, and Facebook and Furl, oh my!

If you are curious about Web 2.0 social networking sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, I've updated The Mysterious World of Web 2.0 to version 4, with loads of new helpful information.

You can download it now. This ebook also contains great graphics and statistics on who uses these sites, and the high percentage of teens that are more involved with micri-blogging and following friends all day.

Click to see a preview and download the ebook now - cost is only $6.95

Monday, March 30, 2009

Conficker worm removal tool

You've heard about the Conficker attack, which may spread through the Intenet on April Fool's Day. Here's an informative article by Elinor Mills on CNET.

The article assesses the possible damage, scope, and includes a link to the Microsoft patch to prevent vulnerability and a Conficker removal tool, if the worm does attack your computer.

Conficker.C, which surfaced earlier this month, shuts down security services, blocks computers from connecting to security Web sites, and downloads a Trojan. It also reaches out to other infected computers via peer-to-peer networking and includes a list of 50,000 different domains, of which 500 will be contacted by the infected computer on April 1 to receive updated copies or other malware or instructions.

The question is... If the worm is a result of a Microsoft vulnerability, and Conficker hasn't yet struck, how could Microsoft create a removal tool?

Just a thought...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

We are not immune, nor is the Dalai Lama

The 3/28/09 New York Times has a report out of Toronto about a huge computer spy ring, that ... "in less than two years, has infiltrated at least 1,295 computers in 103 countries, including many belonging to embassies, foreign ministries and other government offices, as well as the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan exile centers in India, Brussels, London and New York."

Yu can read the full article here. It's fascinating in itself, but you'll also identify with the need to have good spyware and malware (as in malicious) software on your computer, and to make sure it is actively protecting your system.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Internet Explorer ver. 8.0 released

Microsoft is launching Internet Explorer's v. 8 shortly. You may recall many IE users were upgraded from v. 6 to v. 7 overnight, without consent. And, many woke up to find their browser didn't work.

So, if you're an IE user, contemplating the switch to Firefox - now's the time. Avoid the aggravation of IE 8. Firefox downloads fast and imports all your favorites/bookmarks, offers tabbed browsing, and a "Morning Coffee" plug-in to load your preferred pages for each dat of the week! (Ask me how.) Overall, its safer than IE and has superior features. Download Firefox here.

If you have a web site, you'll have to test it in IE 8.0 to be sure it still looks good. As you may know, many web sites look better in Firefox and other browsers than they do in IE, but at least make sure your site's functionality isn't harmed.

Get more info in IE 8 here.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tech book review: Thinking on the Web

Is the web as good as it can be? Have we created a monstrous database that is beyond organization? Will search efforts continue to deliver irrelevant results?

I thought so until I read Thinking On The Web, by H. Peter Alesso and Craig F. Smith. Combining a history of web development to the present, and an insightful glimpse into what developers are currently working on to make the web better, Thinking on the Web brings together the technological contributions of Kurt Gödel, Alan Turing and Tim Berners-Lee.

These three men, born in 1906, 1912, and 1955, respectively, shaped the primary technology we use today. Few would argue the heart of the technological revolution is the internet. The development of what we today take for granted, we owe largely to Tim Berners-Lee, and the works of Godel and Turing, 40 years earlier.

Read my full review at BlogCritics Magazine

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Print What You Like

Even if I invented this clever technology, I doubt it would make me a millionaire, since it's free. Instead of trying to print a web page and getting boxes of ads and empty pages, this tool lets you define what to print from any web page.

Visit printwhatyoulike.com for the free download. It's been a while since we've had a new, clever tool. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Getting Things Done: The David Allen way

I'm a fan, but not a practitioner, of David Allen's (GTD) "Getting Things Done." I often feel technology should be doing more to help us get more done in less time, but as Dave points out in this web excerpt, the obstacles are generally bigger than technology. Yet, he does acknowledge using tech to keep organized can help us feel we are mastering the multitude of obligations tearing at us each week:

Critical Behaviors in the Crunch

It's a perfect time to capture, clarify, organize, and reflect; and to decide what's really important, what you now want to have true, and what you need to maintain. What you really need to do, in other words - now, and next.

Here are a few GTDisms that might be particularly useful in a crunch:

Capture. Get the data. Acknowledge what's true. (We have ____ in the bank. Our expenses are ______ . I feel insecure and apprehensive. There are no debtors' prisons.) And clean up. This is when it's super-important to identify and get a handle on all the open loops pulling on your attention.

Clarify. Identify the outcomes and projects you now need to focus toward, and of course, what actions you need to take. (Re-do personal budget; talk to partner re: asset inventory.) Get all your attention-grabbers processed. And leverage the heck out of the two-minute rule. Being an instant executive is the best cure for transcending a funk.

Get your lists and systems current and complete. Your psyche needs the freedom that affords to concentrate and direct your thinking.

Reflect. You may need to do Weekly Reviews daily. You must keep situational awareness vital and present to be able to trust your intuitive responses, which you will be calling on frequently. Regularly engage in forest management (instead of tree-hugging), so you can see smoke from a distance.

Engage. Keep moving. Pick an action and do it. Don't get hung up on priorities. It's much easier to control a boat that's got way (momentum through the water) than one simply at the effect of the currents. It's easier to know your priorities by taking an action that's not so important than by stressing about them.

Allen says: "This is where getting control morphs into gaining perspective, and the Horizons of Focus come into play. Obviously goals and plans and job descriptions may need a recalibration. But, in addition, give yourself permission to acknowledge and take advantage of the deeper conversations with yourself and other key people in your life that will undoubtedly come closer to the surface in rough seas. For at least a year after 9/11, everyone I know and every organization I dealt with operated with an increased infusion of 40-50,000-level content in their consciousness. (Why are we really here? What's really important to me/us? What are we really trying to do, and is it worth it?)."

Addendum-2/01/09: Wonderful writer James Fallows, in Atlantic Monthly, summarizes the reason GTD is such a success:

"In earlier times, Allen says, work was more physically exhausting than it is today. But it produced less anxiety, because people could easily tell what they had to do and whether it had been completed. Either the wood was chopped or it was not. The typical modern day, he says, is a fog of constantly accumulating open-ended obligations, with little barrier between the personal and the professional and few clear signals that you are actually "done." E-mail pours in. Hallway conversations end with "I'll get back to you." The cell phone rings. The newspaper tells you about movies you'd like to see, recipes you'd like to try, places you'd like to go. There are countless things that everyone really "should" do more of—exercise, read, spend time with the family, have lunch with a contact, be "better" at work. The modern condition is to be overwhelmed—and, according to Allen, to feel not just tired but chronically anxious, because so many things you have at some level committed to do never get done."

Read Fallow's full 2004 article "Organize Your Life" here: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200407/fallows2

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Windows 7 - replacement for Vista - is a free download

We are all looking forward to the release of Windows 7, banishing those six Vista computers off to the recycling center. Microsoft has given up on Vista, and David Pogue, of the New York Times, even refers to Windows 7 as "Vista, fixed."

Join in the anticipation by reading Pogue's informative post here,

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Rebooting of America

As America's first tech-savvy President prepares for the big Inauguration Tuesday, we're witnessing a seismic shift in the marriage between technology and politics. There will be books and media studies discussing how Obama's revolutionary campaign brought millions of people to politics, and brought politics to millions in a way the 6 p.m. news and a daily newspaper just can't do.

Obama has his own channel on YouTube, reminiscent of the old days of Roosevelt's Fireside Chats. Obama's FaceBook page has over 3.7 million supporters linked to him.

"The rebooting of our democracy has begun," said Andrew Rasiej, founder of Personal Democracy Forum and the techPresident blog. "[Obama] has the potential to transform the relationship between the American public and their democracy."

I suspect he'll soon tap into all those 'friends' for the grassroots effort to revive the American spirit, in this age of Obama 2.0.

(image: CNN Video snap)