Friday, August 29, 2008

Web Secret #15 - eHow


eHow™ is a website that consists of over 250,000 articles providing clear instructions on how to do just about everything. Of those articles, 180,000 are professionally written with clear and concise directions on how to do things. Every month, over 17 million people visit the site.

So how is this relevant to you, a professional with a private practice or small business?

Let me take you through a scenario that can be adapted to ANY business:

Let's say you are a mental health professional with a private practice. You specialize in the substance abuse treatment of adolescents, and you have been asked to speak to a hundred parents - potential clients - about alcohol abuse at a PTA meeting.

You need a spiffy handout for them on the topic "How to Know If Your Child Has An Alcohol Problem". You are freaking out. You don't have the time, (or quite frankly the writing skills), to put this together from scratch.

NO PROBLEMA. eHow has a well written article "How to Know If You Have An Alcohol Problem" adapted from National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and Alcoholics Anonymous publications. With some judicious editing, and some additional material, you can quickly adapt that article to create a parent friendly "How to Know If My Kid Has An Alcohol Problem".

Better yet, you can turn around and submit your newly created "How to Know If My Kid Has An Alcohol Problem" to eHow. Voila! free public relations for your practice.

Even better? Sign up for a free account and join eHow's Writer's Compensation Program. When you publish your article, you will be compensated for pageviews and its content. The more useful the article is, the more money you will earn.

For inspiration, browse eHow's categories and articles.

Bonus Hint: At eHow, you retain all your rights to your work.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Web Secret #14 - keeping secrets


Most of us tend to be incredibly sloppy about backing up our most important digital information. Credit card and bank account numbers, even passwords - many of us have this information on one computer - (or little scraps of paper) and nowhere else. The Tâke Personal Pocket Safe from Blackbox Innovations is like a safety deposit box to hold your critical stuff.

The “safe” is a U.S.B. drive with a numeric keypad and encryption. (Nicely old fashioned, it reminds me of the old lock I had on my high school locker.) After you enter your four-digit code, you have 30 seconds to insert the device into a computer before it locks. It also locks if it sits idle in the computer for more than three minutes.

All the necessary software is on the drive, and it can be used on any PC without leaving a trace. The software has forms that can be filled out with important phone numbers, addresses, account data and so forth. The drive is available for $49 at www.takeanyware.com.

Better yet, you can register and back up your information on the company’s secure Web site - your info is safe - even if you lose the device. The company also protects the hardware from being hacked. If you try to remove the flash memory chip, it will stop working.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Web Secret #13 - getting rid of junk


I call it junk. It’s the software that comes preinstalled on new Windows computers. It is there, usually in a trial version, to entice you to try a particular service or buy the full-featured program. Typically, it might be a trial version of McAfee or Norton, a graphics program like Corel, or offers from Internet service providers like Earthlink. The idea is to send you, the new PC owner, to sites to spend money for products or services, or entice them to use a service free for 30 days, and then buy it.

This unwanted junk can can bog down your operating system and slow its start-up, clog the storage capacity of your hard drive and crowd the desktop with unwanted or unused icons or other irritating graphics.

Who needs it?

Tracking down and eliminating the junk is not hard, but a person unfamiliar with system registries and computer configurations is going to need help. Ironically, the easiest thing might be to use more software.

PC Decrapifier (gotta love that name) is a free download for users of Vista and XP. It locates suspected junk and after a request to confirm, removes it.

Another option is Revo Uninstaller which claims to be a much faster and more powerful alternative to the Windows Add or Remove Programs function. It is easy to understand, and one can review installations either as icons or in a list view. A large “uninstall” button points the way.

Note: Some companies are wising up and giving consumers some power over what free software is installed.

So if you are paying attention when you order your new laptop from Dell, you can reject trial software from AOL and Earthlink, Adobe Photoshop, and the Microsoft Works productivity program.

Of course you can always switch to Apple. The company does not load trial versions of software on its Macs, iMacs and MacBooks.

(Mac users you can stop gloating now.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Web Secret #12 - free conference calls


Have you ever wanted to talk to multiple colleagues at one time?

Run supervisory sessions with 4 students simultaneously?

Coach a team of employees scattered across multiple worksites?

And you didn't - because setting up a conference call was both cost prohibitive and technically overwhelming?

This week's secret is for you. Turns out there is a company called Basement Ventures that offers free conference calling for up to 250 participants.

Sound too good to be true? Nay - this is the 21st century, and web 2.0 offers such goodies.

I will let Basement Ventures speak for themselves:
"Our on-demand, free conference calling is available anytime—no advance notice or conference call details are required. This is truly a free conference calling service you can use from anywhere, anytime, featuring a 250-person capacity and up to six hours of conference time for each call.

With BV FreeConferencing, you can use your free conference calling account repeatedly, whenever and wherever you need it. There are no strings attached—this conference calling service is completely free of charge. We won’t bill you anything for using our free conference calling service. Only domestic long-distance rates apply. (Long-distance rates are determined by each conference caller’s long-distance carrier.) There are no hidden costs or increased rates for free conference calls. If the caller is using a cell phone, most VOIP services or a nationwide long-distance plan, the conference call will likely cost them nothing.

Arranging free conference calls is simple—just provide each caller with the date and time of your call as well as the dial-in number and bridge code. Once your callers enter the appropriate code, they are connected on one conference call."
There you have it. Sign up - and enjoy.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Web Secret #11 - e-mail?!


In a recent article in the New York Times, psychiatrist Richard A. Friedman, M.D. examines, (rather glibly, I thought), the opportunities and perils of e-mail for mental health professionals. He writes:
"The minute I started giving out my address to my patients, I fantasized about how much time I would save on routine phone calls." In the beginning all goes well. "Could I change a Monday appointment for Wednesday? Of course. Would I phone in a renewal of Prozac? With pleasure."
Then things become complicated. “Dear Dr. Friedman,” one patient e-mailed at 3 a.m. “I am having dark thoughts and wonder if I should increase my antidepressant. Can you let me know what you think?”
It was 8:30 that morning when I opened my e-mail and read her message with alarm. What exactly were “dark thoughts”? I wasn’t sure, but I had to assume the worst — suicidal feelings or thoughts — and called her immediately. She came in later that afternoon and explained that she felt bleak and hopeless and thought she and her family might be better off with her dead.
Why didn’t you call me right away?” I asked, as I recall the conversation.
It was the middle of the night and I didn’t want to disturb you,” she replied.
Getting disturbed is what I do for a living, and in this case e-mail seemed like a potential obstacle to her care. Considering the sheer volume of messages, and how many of them are spam, it was lucky I did not miss it.
I was beginning to worry about what I had gotten myself into.

He decides:
"For all the convenience and clarity of e-mail, it can be perilous for a clinician; as part of the written record of patients’ treatment, it can be subpoenaed just like chart notes in the unfortunately common event of legal action. Not just that, but e-mail must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which has complex rules to safeguard patient privacy and confidentiality. Your psychiatrist could not, for example, send you a reassuring message about your recent lithium blood level — unless you e-mailed first and specifically asked for it.
Still, being an impatient person, I love the speed of e-mail. But being a psychiatrist, I am leery about the quality of information it conveys. How can I tell whether my patient is being humorous, sarcastic or ironic? Smiley faces are no substitute for the real thing
."
At the end of the article, he concludes:
"So here is what e-mail with my patients has taught me: if you need to reschedule an appointment or need a routine medication refill, please push “send”; if you have something on your mind you want to talk about, please call me — the old-fashioned way. I’m almost wistful for the sound of a ringing phone."
I know some clinicians who have made the decision not to list an e-mail on their websites for fear that patients will use it for emergency purposes when a phone call would be more appropriate. At one employee assistance program (EAP), the website lists an e-mail address, but then uses an oversized, red font, to warn: "This e-mail address should be used ONLY for general inquiries. Existing clients should contact us at the phone number listed above." Despite this caveat, the EAP reports that a number of clients have e-mailed very personal information, rather than calling.

So what do you think?

e-mail, or no e-mail?

Do you list your e-mail with a warning?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Web Secret #10 - Technorati


Technorati is an Internet search engine for searching blogs. As of June 2008, Technorati indexed 112.8 million blogs. They describe themselves thusly:
"Technorati is the recognized authority on what's happening on the World Live Web, right now. The Live Web is the dynamic and always-updating portion of the Web. We search, surface, and organize blogs and the other forms of independent, user-generated content (photos, videos, voting, etc.) increasingly referred to as “citizen media.”
And your point is?

My point is that Technorati has some very useful features for both blog readers and prospective bloggers. As well as ordinary folks just wanting to know what the cutting edge of the Internet looks like. You could spend a lifetime browsing around Technorati or just focus on the site's two most important features.

Feature number one: Technorati's search engine on their home page. Want to read blogs related to psychotherapy? Typing in "psychotherapy" gets you a list of relevant sites. Here's a cool one - "PsychCentral" - it features psychology and mental health news updated every weekday by the Psych Central News Staff. When I visited them, their most recent entry "Worksite Psychological Stress" cited a new study which finds that nearly five percent of employees have high levels of psychological distress associated with a high likelihood of a mental disorder.

Feature number two: Technorati's "top 100 blogs". An educated blogger is a good blogger. Anyone considering entering the blogosphere should know what the masses are reading. The current number one is "The Huffington Post", Ariana Huffington's political blog. Many of the most popular blogs are either entertainment related or very geeky. But scroll down the list to number 23 and you will find ProBlogger - Blog Tips to Help You Make Money Blogging. Now that's useful! Or how about number 31, DailyBlogTips - a fast paced blog featuring articles on blog design, blog promotion, and more.

There you have it - Technorati in a nutshell.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Web Secret #9 - Viral Marketing

It is said that a satisfied customer tells an average of three people about a product or service he/she likes, and eleven people about a product or service which he/she does not like. Viral marketing is based on this natural human behavior, and refers to a marketing technique that uses pre-existing social networks (eg Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) to produce an increase in brand awareness or achieve other marketing objectives. Viral marketing facilitates and encourages people to pass along a message voluntarily. Viral promotions may take the form of video clips, images, or even text messages.

As a non geek, non MBA, why should you care about viral marketing?

I believe that the potential of viral marketing to promote a private practice or other service oriented, professional practice, has yet to be tapped.

But for some idea of its power, look no further than the aftermath of the tragic Virginia Tech shootings. A hoard of eager first responders descended upon the university to deliver psychological first aid to the student body. By the time they arrived on campus, these professionals were stunned to discover that the students had already organized a self support grief group AND a memorial service, by communicating through posts on Facebook and text messaging!

We owe it to ourselves to ponder this positive use of viral "marketing" and begin to imagine its possible application to our professional lives. "The Six Simple Principles of Viral Marketing" is a brief, simple, and excellent generic article on the subject. Read it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Web Secret #8 - Ten Commandments of website creation







Today, I got religion about website creation, content and design:

  1. Thou shalt update thy website on a regular basis - don’t have one if you can’t maintain it!!!
  2. Thou shalt have a manageable website - less ambitious web sites are more manageable.
  3. Thou shalt do your homework – look at your competition’s websites. Make a list of sites you like – analyze why you like them. Make a list of sites you don’t like – analyze why you don’t. This is critical info to have before you hire a web designer or build your own site.
  4. Thou shalt only put up well written web content - if you are not a good writer have someone who is edit your stuff!
  5. Thou shalt not make your website visitors hunt for your contact information – nothing is more frustrating.
  6. Thou shalt make your text BIG enough - many people cannot read 9 point text.
  7. Thou shalt use gender neutral colors - unless you specialize in serving only one gender.
  8. Thou shalt not use a web design that makes your website difficult to use - sure, you could add background music, animations and more to web pages – but that doesn’t mean you should. Many people do not have the latest technology or fast cable modems, so avoid using flash based pop-ups, animations and splash screens that take a long time to download.
  9. Thou shalt think hard before sharing personal information of the type: “Our cats, Boots and Zoey, are a delightful part of our lives.”
  10. Thou shalt only use professional photographs on thy website.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Web Secret #7 - LinkedIn


LinkedIn is Facebook for grownups. It is an online network of more than 8.5 million experienced professionals from around the world representing 130 industries. Joining LinkedIn is easy and takes under a minute. Most people use LinkedIn to “get to someone” in order to find a job, build a career, or grow their business. But LinkedIn can also be used to:

1. Improve your Google PageRank

LinkedIn allows you to make your profile information available for search engines to index. Since LinkedIn profiles receive a fairly high PageRank in Google, this is a good way to influence what people see when they search for you.

To do this, create a public profile and select “Full View.” Also, instead of using the default URL, customize your public profile’s URL to be your actual name. To strengthen the visibility of this page in search engines, use this link in various places on the web. For example, when you comment in a blog, include a link to your profile in your signature.

2. Enhance your search engine results

In addition to your name, you can also promote your blog or website to search engines like Google and Yahoo! Your LinkedIn profile allows you to publicize websites. There are a few pre-selected categories like “My Website,” “My Company,” etc.

If you select “Other” you can modify the name of the link. If you’re linking to your personal blog, include your name or descriptive terms in the link, and voila! instant search-engine optimization for your site. To make this work, be sure your public profile setting is set to “Full View.”

3. Ask for advice

LinkedIn’s newest product, LinkedIn Answers, aims to enable this online. The product allows you to broadcast your business-related questions to both your network and the greater LinkedIn network. The premise is that you will get more high-value responses from the people in your network than more open forums.

Bonus Hint: Want more hints about LinkedIn? Check out "Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn", a blog entry posted on "How to Change the World - A practical blog for impractical people".

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Web Secret #6 - blogs


What is a blog? BLOG - (an abridgment of the term web log) is a website, usually maintained by an individual, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. If you don’t want to be on the wrong side of the digital divide – learn about blogs

Reading blogs allows you to:
Stay on top of your profession.
Connect to Generation Y and Millenium generation.
Give visibility to your private practice by writing a comment on another person’s blog.
Give visibility to your private practice by linking to a blog from your website.

Need inspiration? Technorati maintains a comprehensive directory of blogs. Visit their Blog Directory and enter any topic that interests you in the search window. I entered Private Practice, and found an excellent blog entry for my physician colleagues considering private practice - Physician salary, nuts and bolts.

Bonus Hint: Consider writing your own blog. Everything you need to set it up quickly and easily is at http://blogger.com.

Warning: Blogging requires COMMITMENT. If you are not dedicated to updating your blog on at least a weekly basis - DON'T DO IT.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Web Secret #5 - Skype


Skype is a FREE program that allows you to make calls on your computer for FREE to anyone, anywhere in the world.

To make this miracle happen:

Purchase a headseat with a microphone. You can get one for as little as $19.00. I opted for a little more quality (and comfort) and sprang for a Logitech ClearChat Comfort USB for $39.99.

Then, go to the Skype website and download the program.

Follow the simple instructions and you are connected!

Bonus Hint: The amazing thing about Skype is that it can be used for group chats. My colleage, Dr. Mike Klaybor, has used Skype to supervise and teach mental health colleagues working in a remote location in Russia!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Web Secret #4 - the Flip Video Camera


If you've ever had a fantasy about inexpensively and easily adding video to your private practice or organizational website - your dream has come true. The Flip camcorder is small (the size of a compact digital camera), operates on AA batteries, and IT'S EASY TO USE.

Here is the entire Flip users manual:

You turn it on, and it's ready to start filming in two seconds. You press the red button once to record and once to stop. You press Play to review the video, and the Trash button to delete a clip. Use the flip-out USB key to download your video to your computer.

That's it.

A Flip Video Ultra Camcorder with 60 minutes of recording capability is under $150.

Bonus Hint: Not sure what type of video would enhance your website? Go to YouTube, type in "psychotherapy videos", "medical procedure videos", or any collection of words that describes the nature of your work and you can view hundreds of videos for inspiration.

Warning: Resist the temptation to make a video that lasts much longer than 5 minutes. On the web brevity works best.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Web Secret #3 - Wikipedia


Wikipedia is a free content, multilingual encyclopedia written collaboratively by contributors around the world. The site is a Wiki - meaning anybody can edit and add to an article.

The good news: You can write an article about yourself on Wikipedia. Google indexes Wikipedia and having an entry will move your website up the Google rankings. Both the article and your amped up Google ranking means greater visibility for your website, your practice, your organization, your blog, YOU!

The bad news: Wikipedia has rules – strictly enforced - as to what you can put up. If you are going to write that you are the greatest thing since sliced bread – be prepared to back it up with a citation.

Bonus Hint: Sample psychotherapist Wikipedia article for Bill O'Hanlon. Sample organizational Wikipedia entry for the Employee Assistance Professionals Association.

Warning: You must learn Wikipedia’s proprietary html like language to put up your article - and it ain't easy. Consider hiring someone to put up your article for you unless you are very patient and have a lot of free time on your hands.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Web Secret #2 - repair your own computer


You just spilled your double soy latte on your laptop – time for a freak out! Well maybe not. According to a recent New York Times article, from adding memory to replacing a motherboard, repair tasks often require little more than patience, organization and a couple of small screwdrivers.

If you have no idea where to start, the Web has many where others are eager to instruct you. For example, had you contacted Laptop Guy, an online repair company, you would have been told that once liquid hits a computer, you should not turn it on.

For Mac users, PowerbookMedic.com offers free, extensive repair guides for a host of problems, with detailed photographs showing how to perform the work.

Bonus Hints:
You Tube has videos that take you through various repairs – just enter your problem in the YouTube search window.
PC users – check out www.laptoprepair101.com
Mac users – check out www.macfixit.com
Printer malfunction? Go to www.fixyourownprinter.com

Warning: If you can’t change a light bulb, do not try this at home - call the Geek Squad.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Web Secret #1 - the best layout for your web site


Whether you are designing a web site for your private practice or business or hiring a professional to do it for you, remember YOU are in charge.

A couple of years ago I bought a terrific British magazine then called “Practical Web Design”. A major study quoted in the magazine “F for Victory”, states:

“People look at web sites in an F-shaped pattern….First they read horizontally from left to right, usually at the top of the screen, then they move down a fraction and perform a second, smaller horizontal movement; and finally they scan the left hand side of the page in a vertical movement.”

The implication? …You need to put the important stuff at the very top of each web page (especially your home page).

They also recommend starting all subheadings, paragraphs, and bulleted lists with information-carrying words.

Bonus Hint:
“Practical Web Design” is defunct and been replaced by the equally terrific .net magazine, the world’s best-selling magazine delivering cutting-edge commentary, insightful tutorials, and expert reviews from the web’s leading figures. Even if you are not technologically inclined – this magazine will inspire you, whether you are about to design your first website or plan on redesigning an existing site. You can subscribe by going to http://www.netmag.co.uk/zine/subscribe or pick up an issue at your local gourmet bookstore e.g. Borders, Barnes and Noble, etc.

Warning: with the plunging dollar, the magazine is very expensive – but worth it. Most of the material stays current for years.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Welcome to iWebU!

Mission

iWebU promises to:

  • empower  non-technically inclined professionals 
  • help you translate your vision into a growing presence on the web
  • teach you how to use technology to make new contacts, influence people and increase your earning potential
  • keep you on top of the latest and most disruptive trends in social media, hardware, software and technology. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

About Me

iWebU was started in 2008 by Marina London. The blog's initial purpose was to help technophobic mental health professionals learn about technology and social media. As time went by, the blog's mission expanded to include commentary about disruptive trends and technologies, as well as hardware and software reviews. Marina is one of a handful of women over 45 to write about tech and still has nightmares about being one of only 5 women (or so it seemed) to attend a Web 2.0 conference

Who is Behind iWebU?

Marina London

Prior to launching her career as a social media/tech fanatic, she worked as an executive for several corporate mental health consulting firms. 


In 2008, she  launched a new career as a web content writer, social media trainer and blogger extraordinaire, geared primarily at brilliant techno peasants.
 

Now known for her easy to understand, entertaining presentations on social media marketing and web design for professionals, she has presented her "Web Secrets" via webinars, and at numerous national and international conferences.

Marina has a Bachelor of Arts cum laude in Psychology from Yale University and a Master of Science from Columbia University.