Sunday, December 19, 2010

How good is your memory?

Today I learned about Superior Autobiographical Memory.

Using your computer well may mean you use it to store all sorts of information, track details, keep everything at your fingertips.
How good would your memory be if you didn't use a computer? Today, on "60 Minutes" there was a fabulous segment on "superior autobiographical memory," and about James McGaugh, who discovered and studies superior autobiographical memory.

One person with this gift is bothered by the volume of all that she recalls,  Imagine if you could remember every single TV show or movie you've seen in your life? If you knew which days had rain in February of 1971? This is apparently a very rare condition, and is a fascinating topic, and there's more information about the research, and video available on the "60 Minutes" website.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Good or bad? Facebook adds email addresses

This from the Facebook Blog today:

Today I'm excited to announce the next evolution of Messages. You decide how you want to talk to your friends: via SMS, chat, email or Messages. They will receive your message through whatever medium or device is convenient for them, and you can both have a conversation in real time.  You shouldn't have to remember who prefers IM over email or worry about which technology to use.  Simply choose their name and type a message.

We are also providing an email address to every person on Facebook who wants one.

Now people can share with friends over email, whether they're on Facebook or not. To be clear, Messages is not email. There are no subject lines, no cc, no bcc, and you can send a message by hitting the Enter key. We modeled it more closely to chat and reduced the number of things you need to do to send a message.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Google Settlement on

Google, grabber of all the world's information, tried to capture too much private data when they launched Buzz.  Buzz was intended to let you share all your social media feed, photos and videos, but Google was keeping that information.
Sued for the privacy grab, the US Courts found Google guilty, and slapped a fine of $8.5 million, (probably one-day's ad revenue!).  Yet google users don't get a penny. The courts found:

There are too many people in this settlement and too few actually suffered any damages for Google to bother paying them directly. Instead the company will give the funds to nice Internet privacy organizations.
Thanks to  Rosa Golijan at Gizmodo for digesting the court case down to this concise summary.

Helen Gallagher
Blog Power and Social Media Handbook (Volume 2)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Email Subject Lines

If your email message aren't getting the response you desire, it may be due to a weak subject line.

Your goal in a business email is to get the recipient to open and act on the message. If it ends up in a junk mail or spam filter, you'll miss your target.

Try these three tips for better results:

1. Be brief and specific, and avoid spam catchwords, such as "Buy now" or "Fantastic link,"  etc.

2. Make it convenient for the person, by inferring a call to action

3. Convey a sense of urgency if the message is important, and live up to the promise of  your subject line.

Read more effective email tips at BizAction

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Windows 7 shortcuts

If you're enjoying Windows 7, here are a few useful shortcuts to make your experience even faster:


* Ctrl+Shift+N: Creates a new folder in Windows Explorer.
* Alt+Up: Goes up a folder level in Windows Explorer.
* Alt+P: Toggles the preview pane in Windows Explorer.
* Shift+Right-Click on a file: Copies the path of a file to the clipboard.
* Shift+Right-Click on a file: Adds extra hidden items to the Send To menu.
* Win+P: Adjust presentation settings for your display.
* Win+(+/-): Zoom in/out.
* Win+G: Cycle between the Windows Gadgets on your screen.

LifeHacker has many more shortcuts for Windows 7 listed here, some with photos.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Blog Power and Social Media Handbook

It's here and available now on Amazon: the update to Social Media Handbook, including the Blog power secrets you've been waiting for.

Don't let social media ruin good communication

Not much new in technology lately, so it looks like I've been neglecting this blog in favor of the Release Your Writing and Pajama Marketing blogs.

But today, I've read a business report on something that has been bothering me. By being more efficient with tech gadgets, some people are actually becoming rude, quite unintentionally. I guess we need a new guide to etiquette: You can't save yourself time by taking tech shortcuts if it makes more work for the other person.

So when you send a message, even view Twitter or your phone, take the time to be lucid, not dash off a phrase and make the recipient guess the context.

Here's an interestng BNET article that explains it fully.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Book Review: Windows 7 Annoyances by David A. Karp

I’ve been using Windows 7 since its October 2009 U.S. launch and don’t have a single complaint. I couldn’t imagine filling a 700-page book with its “annoyances,” until I read author David Karp’s point of view, which is especially true with technology:

“One person’s annoyance is another’s feature.”

So, in Windows 7 Annoyances, Karp shares what’s cool and what isn’t, scoping out all the features/annoyances, and explaining the best way to get Windows 7 to do what you want. An hour with Windows 7 Annoyances and you’ll know how to move the software out of your way when it’s not helping.

Oh, but its so beautiful...

This is a hefty handbook that teaches you to streamline and optimize Windows 7, and find what you lost in the migration. There are plenty of hacks and time-saving tips as well as high-level operating system tech details for geeks. Overall Windows 7 is friendly and accessible to lay-users who upgrade from Windows XP or Vista, and Karp doesn’t talk down to higher level techies.

Karp covers audio/video, performance boosting tips, and provides excellent details on getting out of trouble, security issues, setting up networks and wi-fi, which is easier than in previous versions of Windows. Throughout the book, there are loads of links to third-party power tools.

If you've made the leap to Windows 7, read the full review here: and you'll see there's lots to love in Windows 7 too.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Facebook & Twitter & LinkedIn... Oh My!

If you're reluctant to get on board with social media sites, fearing a complete loss of privacy and having your free time sucked into some magical vortex, relax.

You can sign up for Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin without fear:

1. On each service, control your privacy settings. It takes less than ten minutes to read and understand your options. Start by limiting your 'friends' to only the people you know.

2. Write useful comments at least once a week. No need to write every day, or to respond to other people's comments. It's not expected, so don't make it more work than you want.

3. Use a single interface to view all the traffic/feeds/comments on your collective social media sites:
-- Use to post to all social media sites at once, and update on your schedule

-- Use for a fabulous way to keep up with Facebook and Twitter. It's literally a little dot in your browser. Click daily to view the new stream of tweets, and you're done.

-- Don't get scared by the thought of using RSS (Really Simple Syndication) to amass all the sites and chatter you desire into a single site, such as your Google Reader page.

Find more help understanding the development of the social media craze in my Social Media Handbook.

A teacher purchased 30 copies yesterday for her classroom!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Finding phone numbers without phone books

Well, we've ruined another institution - that of the telephone book - those 5 lb. books we recycle every year. The Yellow Pages may live on, due to advertising support, but it looks like the White Pages are a thing of the past. New York Times story here.

So how will you find phone numbers?
Start with, and click either business or person at the top. Unless you really need to find someone, try to avoid clicking on the pay-to-view links that say something like "We have all the information for ... "

Also try or, and stick with these professional online directories, so you don't get caught by a spammer. You can even use or Google, putting the person's first and last name together in quotes, and type the word phone after the quotes, like this:

"Roger Ampersand" phone

Monday, May 03, 2010

About the power of time off

I saw an interesting video from the TED conference today. (TED hosts 'riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world').

Stefan Sagmeister, a New York designer takes a year off every 7 years. Haven't we all though of a sabbatical at some time? Here's the clever reasoning: Sagmeister figures we spend:

25 years learning
40 years gathering (perhaps: information, family, money, skills, experience) and
15 years in retirement.

He decided to deduct some of those 15 years from the end by retiring every few years, for just a year, to recharge and reflect. As he returns to work, he finds that everything he designs in some way came out of that year of time off. Additionally the result of the year off feeds back into the world, instead of becoming time only spent with a grandchild or two in later years.

If, like me, you can't exactly take a year off, we can at least take a weekend to slow down, unplug and do something creative. Even replacing an afternoon in your desk chair with an hour in a deck chair might be enough to recharge, at least for a while.

That's where you'll find me on this beautiful Spring day.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Keep the Internet free.... Tell the FCC what you think, but hurry

Visit my Facebook page or to learn why you should let the FCC know what you think. The issue of Net Neutrality is in the news. If control of the flow of information is in the hands of AT&T, Comcast and Verizon, they will gain, at YOUR expense.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

iPad makes news

Well, Apple's iPad launched today and many are still waiting for the WOW factor.
The device is not a computer, not a phone, or camera, but you can carry it around to read email on the fly, pay a fee to download books and magazines, listen to music, look at photos, smudge the screen....

A $500 product that is not quite anything will either change the way computing happens, or be on sale for $199 instead of $500 by Christmas.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Highlight and save web page text

Have you ever wanted to grab a useful paragraph from a web site, to save?
If you cut & paste, where will you put it, how will you find it?

The answer is WebNotes, which lets you highlight, save organize, preserve links, and retrieve at your own WebNotes page. Think of it as smart bookmarks...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Standpoint Magazine in the UK has an interesting article by Lionel Shriver and a very interesting turn of phrase about the hidden cost of too much technology creeping into our minds: a “Malfunction Tax.”

"...gizmos have an inbuilt drag that I call the Malfunction Tax. It's what those rave technology reviews won't tell you: just how much of your time an iPad will eat when your shiny new acquisition goes haywire."

Read her full essay if you're exhausted by technology, then calm down and read a book...

In fact, I'm currently reading "Reboot: Refreshing Your Faith in a High Tech World." It's a quiet little book, like my book "Computer Ease," guaranteed not to beep, crash, or call you a dummy.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Windows 7: 90 Million people can't be wrong reports there are over 90 million copies of Windows 7 sold, and happily running on computers worldwide. It is the first product upgrade to be such a success, and as I've written here before, it can improve your productivity in many ways.

Many former add-ons were clumsy to use or available only for purchase from other vendors. But Microsoft has bundled so much cool stuff into Windows 7, you won't need to look anywhere else. If your computer has plenty of disk space and at least 2 GB of memory, you might want to upgrade. Otherwise, you can get a Windows 7 computer for under $500.

Helen Gallagher

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Video Email ???

Oh, you knew this was coming... We know that email is one of the most used computer applications todoay, and we know typing text won't satify the multi-media nerds.

We know the feeling when we don't have time to wade through the Inbox, we keep reading email over and over, not having time to decide where to put it, whether to keep it, how to find it later, and afraid to just press "delete" to get back to an empty Inbox.

So, this innovation from Google is not likely to make things better -- A move toward convergence of all web junk into your Inbox??? Google says this new Buzz is "a new way to start conversations about the things you find interesting and share updates, photos, videos and more. Buzz is built right into Gmail."

Learn more here.
So tell me... Do you love it? or ... Hate it?

Monday, January 18, 2010

When Oprah says "don't text and drive" will people listen?

According to the Harvard Center of Risk Analysis, cell phone use contributes to 6 percent of all crashes, which equates to 636,000 crashes, 330,000 injuries, and 2600 deaths each year.

Oprah Winfrey just announced her “Hang Up and Drive Campaign” to educate consumers on distracted driving (i.e. texting, phone calls etc.) On her show today (Monday, January 18, 2010) she had guests on who have lost loved ones to distracted-driving crashes. Furthermore, a law was passed on January 1, 2010 that banned texting while driving in the state of Illinois (a law that has been in act since October 2008 in Chicago.)

So, texting and cell phone talking and electronic distraction while driving is illegal in Illinois... for good reason.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Something of value on YouTube??? It's possible,

I'm not a big fan of YouTube, even if there is good content out there, or very funny content with laughing babies or juggling hippos. Too much consumer-generated content, too slow to wait for video and too much time wasted.

But, reading Hemispheres on United Airlines last week, I learned there is something out in that vast wasteland. YouTube Edu -- here you can listen to and watch lectures and presentations from the academic world... online & free. Just launched in 2009, it contains lectures and coursework from over 100 universities. An interview in The Wall Street Journal states the content just from the Univ. Minnesota contains 200 lecture-based courses in literature, history, law, engineering and other subjects.

I know what I'm watching tonight...