Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Social Media Rabbit ??? Holiday Gift Idea

Just in time for the holidays -- here's a social media rabbit from the clever Karotz Store...

Add it to your internet connection and it reads your email and social media updates aloud, play online music, and is even a webcam.

Don't laugh Take a look at Karotz Store:  You know you want one!

Visit Laptop Magazine for more holiday gifts for geeks.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Make money from your old tech gear

Getting new gadgets has become as common at the Holidays as the tradition of buying someone a sweater or new gloves.
There's never been a bigger variety of tech equipment, gadgets, and smartphones.

If you want the latest and greatest, you might be glad to know there are resources where you can recycle or get paid cash for trading in your old equipment. works with Gazelle to let you sell your used electronics. Details are here.

Google the phrase 'get cash for used electronics' for lots more resources to see your used equipment; printers, computers, disks, phones, cameras and more.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Want more blog traffic? Think "Keywords"

Keywords are the grabbers that search engines sort and rank. Your blog topics should fit popular keywords, depending on your foucs. whether science, dieting, philosophy, or celebrities, your keywords help your blog rise in the search engine rankings.

Google, long known for their algorithms, has just made a sweeping improvement. The result for you is better exposure. One of the sites I follow,, reports:

"This freshness change will impact 35% of searches. What will happen is when a user types a phrase into the Google search engine the most recent content will be returned first. Google has always attempted to provide searchers with the latest results, but their old algorithm methods had an impact of approximately 17.5% in the past."

So, if you want more blog readers, post more and know the words and phrases people use when find information similar to yours.
You'll have higher search rankings now, so use it to your advantage.

Okay, here's a sample:  If you want to learn more about social media, especially social media for beginners, jump over to Amazon and purchase "Blog Power & Social Media Handbook" the social media how-to, available in softcover for $12.

Monday, October 17, 2011

When good tech goes bad

Read this today in a writer's newsletter, (Wooden Horse)...

Hewlett Packard and Conde Nast, perhaps in some altered state of business consciousness, have partnered in an odd venture, encouraging readers to receive their favorite Conde Nast magazines using a desktop printer widget, then print them out - using their own ink cartridges.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Browser wars continue: Firefox vs. Googzilla's Chrome

This report excerpt from shows user interest in Internet Explorer fading. People favor the versatility and smart web browsing of Firefox, and increasingly, Google's Chrome.  I'm always a champion for the underdog, so my loyalty remains with Firefox because their values are not capitalistic.

Mozilla believes its independence from other agendas will serve it in good stead, though. In a statement, the organization said:
Firefox demonstrated just how important browsers are, but it's important to remember that the reasons for building Web browsers are significantly different from one company to the next. Mozilla is unique in that we build Firefox to provide a truly independent offering, focused solely on individual experience and the overall good of the Web. Firefox is holding its own in the face of increased competition, with 450 million users worldwide choosing a Web browser that answers only to them.
Chrome has an advantage for Google over Mozilla's Firefox: searches from Chrome are performed directly with Google technology. That means that Google doesn't have to split the revenue with partners such as Mozilla or that drive search traffic. With such deals, the search-ad revenue Google pays partners is called traffic acquisition costs, or TAC.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Weren't we already spending too much time online?

Today's SmartBrief from The Business of News reports:

Tablet owners' daily Web usage is 48% higher
  • Tablets appear to increase by nearly half the amount of time their owners spend online and double the amount of time they spend on mobile devices, including phones, according to Knowledge Networks. In all, tablet owners spend 38% of their daily screen time on mobile devices. The data suggest marketers need to pay attention to mobile and the kinds of campaigns that work on these platforms, said Robert DeFelice, vice president for client services at Knowledge Networks. MediaPost Communications/Online Media Daily (10/3)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Amazon ramps up instant video/movie downloads for $79/year

With all the news about NetFlix changing its pricing structure, looks like Amazon is positioned to become #1...

This from home page today, 9/27/11:

"Amazon just signed a deal with FOX to add a broad selection of movies and TV shows to our unlimited instant streaming service later this fall. The new additions from the FOX library include 24, Arrested Development, The X-Files, Ally McBeal, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and - available on digital video for the first time - The Wonder Years. We now have deals with CBS, NBCUniversal, Sony, and Warner Bros, and adding FOX will bring the total to more than 11,000 movies and TV shows available for unlimited instant streaming."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tech time takes a big bite out of the day

Will Forsythe of the CEO Forum shared this analysis of the INC Magazine feature on the 500 fastest growing companies.

You might be surprised at how much of the day is eat up by tech, even at the highest levels in companies.

"Summary:  The average CEO worked an average 13-hour work day.  Since most CEOs I know work some hours on the weekend as well, I am assuming a 70-hour work week.

  • 3 hours selling and talking to customers--23%
  • 3 hours in meetings and talking with employees--23%
  • 2 hours emailing--15%
  • 5 hours other and misc.--39%"
At 2 hours per day, that's a minimum of 10 hours per week, or a full week of time each month.

Something to think about when you're short on time - like maybe let the email wait a while and spend your time in better ways?

Friday, September 09, 2011

That darn keyboard!

How many times do you hit CAPS LOCK without looking and have to retype your work?

Is your computer's Page Up key in an awkward place? This is especially true on laptops where Delete often interferes with your efforts to page up and down.

Well, I have the answer for you. A cool program called KeyTweak. It allows you re-assign or remap the Microsoft keyboard and works with all current versions of Windows. So if there's a key you never use, give it new life as an easy-to-reach key you frequently use. See the site, linked below, for full details. I've used this for years and hope you enjoy it.

Best of all, its a free download you can find with a web search, or here at the company.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Why I Bing...

Sure, Google used to be cool, and has always been a better search tool than what came before. But its market share, and its features, haven't changed much in the past two years. That's why I switched to Bing as soon as Microsoft released it.

Bing is something new, fresh, and a product that delivers better results every time. I'm one of those people who always support a product for innovation over popularity. Google became a household word, and a habit... sometimes a useless habit, when the clutter it produces doesn't yield the best results.

A New York Times article on 7-31-11, in fact, the Page 1 feature in the Sunday Business section explained how Microsoft has worked hard to be better, and to redefine search with Bing, creating a decision tool to deliver the results you want.
Instead of a blank screen, Bing also surprises you by presenting a gorgeous photo each day, usually in the realm of nature or culture. 

Since Google hasn't done anything clever to improve the search experience in the last few years, why not switch to Bing. You'll find true logic when you search for topics in the travel and health area, as well as literature, quotes, computer problems, language translation, calculators, movie reviews, local listings and more.

Search tools are free, and so is our right to use the one we like, not the dominant player.

Since most web browsers offer a choice of search engines, you don't have to use the one that comes up when you search.

For Firefox, here's how to change the default search tool to Bing

If you use a different web browser, search the Help for 'default search tool' and you'll find similar instructions.

Let me know how you like using Bing! -- email

Friday, July 22, 2011

A better way to listen to music: CNET says "five thumbs up"

I've heard three times this week about an exciting innovation for music lovers. Spotify is hitting the U.S. with an outstanding service. YOU can control all your music, and share it freely.

Many are calling this "the new golden age of music,"

The creator is Sean Parker, who was behind Napster, says:

"By making music social, the experience of discovering and listening to new music will be more fun than ever before. While Spotify can be downloaded and used for free on the desktop, users of Spotify will need to purchase content when they want to take music with them "on the go" via their iPod or iPhone.

In this sense, Spotify is the answer to piracy: migrating millions of piracy-based music fans to a legitimate platform where their consumption of music can be monetized, and the artists who dedicate their lives to creating music can finally get paid."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Eye pattern movement in online reading

We formerly thought people scanned the computer screen, when reading web pages, with eye movements following the shape of the letter C or a backward Z.

Now, fast-forward to F patterns of screen viewing.

The above link will take you to more info on these interesting images, and the project's author suggestion of what it means for you. If you want pepole who glance at your web page to find the critical content, put it where they will see it.
  • Users won't read your text thoroughly in a word-by-word manner. Exhaustive reading is rare, especially when prospective customers are conducting their initial research to compile a shortlist of vendors. Yes, some people will read more, but most won't.

  • The first two paragraphs must state the most important information. There's some hope that users will actually read this material, though they'll probably read more of the first paragraph than the second.

  • Start subheads, paragraphs, and bullet points with information-carrying words that users will notice when scanning down the left side of your content in the final stem of their F-behavior. They'll read the third word on a line much less often than the first two words. 
Read full analysis here:

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Blogger change coming soon reports that Google is finally ready to pay attention to the blog hosting service.

Fast and easy and free, it has fallen far behind WordPress, the only other dominant player.

So look for an announcement soon, if you have a blog on The product will be rebranded as Google Blogs soon.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The two worst words in tech: "SIMPLY LOG-IN"

Surely, you, like me, have been frustrated by the inability to log-in at a site, where you know your user name, and of course, you know your password.

My frustrations mount when I have to try various user names and passwords, and check my encrypted password list to be certain I've got it right.

Today, the problem was worse than usual, so I tried creating a new account.
No matter what variation on my name I tried, or which email address, the service responded that name was already in use.

So I was instructed to "simply log-in..."  and it simply failed, over and over again.

Then I tried to re-set my password, and even though my various names were "in use" none of them allowed me to re-set the password.

I think from now on, once I get past this obstacle, I'll change my password to IFIHADAHAMMER...

Hope your day is going better, and the tech gods on on your side,


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Requiem for a Website?

If you're an active blogger and use social media daily, when is the last time you checked your website?

Perhaps the time has come to put your site to sleep. Web sites are no longer the first place we look for up-to-date information or news. Social media is a more active and immediate place to stay connected.

Read this article at and see if you agree. The most stricking evidence in the article is this:
"Shutting down your website to communicate solely through social meda channels might seem like a crazy idea for any large organization. But then again, there is some logic to it. The Wall Street Journal reported that Starbucks receives over ten times as much traffic to its Facebook page (19.4 million unique visitors each month) as to its corporate website (1.8 million). For Coca-Cola, the divergence is even starker: 22.5 million visitors on Facebook vs. just 270,000 to its website—over 80 times as much traffic."

Something to think about before you renew that annual hosting bill ???

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Learn to deny access to your data

Even the simplest web search seems to leave us prey to search engines who monitor our search behavior.

Today, while trying to past a Facebook comment from The New York Time, I noticed the paper has become particularly grabby about letting me do a simple one-click post from their site. these are the choices I was given. If, like me, you don't want to give them all these rights, you can get around it by pasting the article link into your Facebook update.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Special Education Week & Autism Awareness Month

From Kelly James-Enger "Kids with special needs aren't weird or odd. They only want what everyone wants... to be accepted. Can I make a request? Is anyone willing to post this & leave it on your status for at least 1 hour? It is Special Education week & Autism Awareness Month. This is in honor of all children made in a unique way. You never understand a situation until you are faced with them." Share!

Friday, March 18, 2011

What browser do you use? IE, Firefox or Chrome

Please take my one question poll about your web browser. The short poll is right above this post.

Internet Explorer continues to lose market share, I personally think Firefox is superior, and a growing group of clients and colleagues have made the move to Google Chrome.

There are advantages to each, so if you're not happy with your current browser, please explore Firefox or Chrome.
the poll expires April 5, 2011 at noon.   I'll comment on the results here after that date.

Helen Gallagher

Friday, February 25, 2011

Recognizing Tech Overload

David Pogue, the clever and funny New York Times tech columnist has an interesting post here.

A Parent’s Struggle With a Child’s iPad Addiction

If you're lucky, you don't have the same problem he does, with a six-year-old child craving time with an iPad.
Many of us have a similar problem with attention and focus, very likely caused by the growing mutli-tasking trend of the 21st century. But it is clearly affecting children as well as adults. When families are all together, but each person is isolated in their own tech world, the comfort of that electronic stimulation becomes normal.

Whether 6 or 60, we need room in our lives for critical thinking, original thought, face time with family, and ways to develop our character... something a plastic screen can't provide.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

from on LinkedIn

Get more value out of LinkedIn by following the suggestions here on the "Ask The Recuiter" blog. Details include use of Signal - a free LinkedIn feature:

"One of LinkedIn’s cool, free tools is Signal, which helps LinkedIn users extract more value from the growing amount of content on the careers site and Twitter accounts by helping users slice and dice a tsunamic newsfeed down to a stream they actually can use.
It works like this: There is a “Search Updates” window just under the “What should your network know?” window near the top of the screen. Type in the term you are interested in, and LinkedIn will extract all the relevant messages from its general newsfeed. With 70 million users in 150 industries, there is a lot in that general feed.

When you click after the search term, it will open up a three column-page with the  selected posts running down the main central column. Headlines on that subject, passed along by others, are in the right rail. The left rail lets you refine your search further."

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Power up for a Snow Day

In Chicago, we are familiar with the routine of a snow day, especially those of us who were here during the 1967 blizzard.
Walking on top of cars the next day was the only way to have fun.

But now, over 40 years later, you have so many more ways to have fun on a snow day. You and your computer can pass the time and catch up on all the things you feel you never have time for:

1. EMPTY YOUR MAILBOX - Sounds drastic but its a great time of year to backup your old email and purge the Sent and Trash folders. Get through your Inbox and either read the messages, reply, take some action, or copy useful information into your calendar or note files. Shovel that clutter !

2. Organize your files

3. Charge all your electronics

4. Clean up your desk to get ready for tax time.

Then take a nap, make a pot of soup, and enjoy your snow day.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Computer Clarity Now In Its15th Year

The year 2011 marks the beginning of my 15th year as consultant and owner of Computer Clarity. I can still remember the weeks-long struggle to come up with the right name for my business. The two people closest to me helped and once we found 'Computer Clarity' I knew it was a name that would hold up, no matter how technology changed over the years.

And yes, we've seen big changes in consumer technology,
  • from desktops to laptops to mobile devices with more power than big computers.
  • from dial-up internet connections to wi-fi everywhere.
  • from typing letters, and learning to fax from the computer, to ever-present email and social media.
  • from adults teaching children, to children teaching adults.

Thanks to all of you for being with me along the way. It continues to be an interesting field, although my search for better knowledge management, intelligent computing, and low-cost internet access for everyone still seems out of reach for many.