Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Web Secret #290: myCharge

Tomorrow, you'll be returning those unwanted gifts.

This is what you will get instead.

A couple of months ago, I was waiting to participate in a panel presentation, sitting at a table with one of my co-presenters, when she took out what looked like a palm sized greyish brick.

"What is that?" I asked.

"That," she said, "is something I cannot live without."

"That" turned out to be the "Hub 3000," one of a number of beautifully designed gadgets by the folks at aimed at helping us when our smartphones die.

The company makes a variety of ultra portable devices that provide emergency power for a variety of smartphones. The devices include the cables needed to connect your dead gadget and the built in plugs necessary to charge the devices in the first place. Confused?

Time to turn on the under 1 minute long explanatory video:

Dead electronic device?

Problem solved.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Web Secret #289: Google Zeitgeist

The end of the year is a time for reflection. Maybe even a time to consider its Zeitgeist - one of those German words, (coined in 1884,) that embodies an entire concept. It means the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era.

Until the 21st century, the Zeitgeist of a specific time frame was something gleaned retrospectively, over many years. For example, if you look back on the 20th century, you could argue that "the Zeitgeist of modernism typified and influenced architecture, art, and fashion during much of the 20th century."

In 2001, Google realized that with, (at that time,) more than 150 million queries per day, they had a unique window into what was happening in the world on any given day, as well as a fascinating retrospective on the peaks and valleys of popular culture during the course of a year.

Pulling that data together, Google began to publish their version of the Year-End Zeitgeist and reveal the collective focus of the online mind, highlighting the main events that drew the attention of a global audience. The Year-End Google Zeitgeist provides a glimpse at what captivated the world over the past 12 months, based on the most popular search terms on the world's most popular search engine. All of this information is featured in an under 5 minute video, and also broken down into charts.

In 2012, Google counted 1.2 trillion searches, in 146 different languages. Here is Google Zeigeist version 2012:

You can also look at search trends by country, by event, by film, by people, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

What is your guess about the soon to be revealed 2013 Zeitgeist?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Web Secret #288: The Grommet

Right in time for the holiday season, I am going to tell you about "The Grommet," a curated shopping website.

I can hear your virtual yawns.

Pay attention, The Grommet makes the online shopping experience fresh and inspiring. And I think their approach can teach all of us something about marketing ourselves, our clinical practices and our EAPs too.

Grommet's unique marketing approach is to tell a story. They feature a daily innovative product, introduced via a very brief video. The video explains why the product is unique, how/why it was invented, and how it is manufactured.)

Here are three of my favorite Grommets:


ila Security


Warning: extremely addictive site.

Enter at your own risk.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Web Secret #287: Today I found out

Danger, Will Robinson!,” there is a website entirely devoted to useless information.

In my family, I am known as the queen of pointless factoids. I revel in this. So imagine how I reacted when I came across "Today I Found Out," founded in 2010, and based on the idea that it is always good to learn something new every day. TIFO aims to publish interesting facts that are highly researched by amazingly well credentialed authors.

Here is a sample TIFO story: "How One of the Most Beautiful Women in 1940s’ Hollywood Helped Make Certain Wireless Technologies Possible." Hedy Lamarr was not only the star of numerous movies, but a brilliant scientist and mathematician whose inventions earned her US patents. Fun fact: my mother once saw Hedy in a Paris hair salon shortly after WWII. She told me that the entire shop was staring, mesmerized by her beauty.

Here are some others:

The origin of the phrase "Close, but no cigar"

What started the "Cops eating donuts" stereotype

How about Fingers don't contain muscles?

Your welcome.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Web Secret #286: The first website

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I have a lot to be thankful for, and that includes the World Wide Web, which allows me to access the Internet.

In April 2013, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the day CERN published a statement making World Wide Web technology available on a royalty-free basis - forever.

Think back, what were you doing in 1993?

To mark the occasion, CERN brought the world's first website back to life. That was the start of a project to preserve as much about that first website, created by Tim Berners-Lee, as possible.

The project is called "The First Website" and its goals are not only to restore and preserve the hardware and software used to serve it up, but to also recreate the experience of visiting that first site twenty years ago.

For the record, the original IP address for the first web server was

Geek out.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Web Secret #285: PivotPlanet

Since 2003, PivotPlanet,  has been pairing people interested in switching careers with mentors who can teach them how to start.

In an article in the New York Times, Brian Kurth explained that he got the idea for PivotPlanet in 2001, when he was 34, freshly downsized, and trying to figure out what to do with his life.  He realized “that there is value in test-driving your dream job before you do it.” Effectively,  he pioneered the concept of  turning “mentorship into a consumer product.”

PivotPlanet lists mentors in about 200 fields, from psychologist to pet therapist to television host. Mentors charge an hourly fee for their mentoring. Much of the mentoring is telephonic or video conferencing based.

Whether you want to give a leg up to a new clinician or you're ready to move on to your next career adventure, go get 'em!

A simple, but powerful idea.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Web Secret #284: We come from the future

I wish I was a futurist, one of those scientists who predict the future. But that is not going to happen. I am too analytical, too much in the box. You come up with the idea - and I will operationalize it - to perfection. Just don't ask me to generate the idea.

But I do understand the implication of new ideas when I see them. And I like to be exposed to new concepts, even if they terrify me. There is one website that does that (terrify me,) on a regular basis. It's called AKA "We come from the future."

Before I tell you more, here is an example of what you can find on io9:

The editor in chief of io9 does a good job of explaining the site.

There is no question that some of io9 is Entertainment Weekly style trash. But if you stick to the science topics, you will be rewarded. Take, for example, "What Will Human Cultures Be Like in 100 Years?"

io9 - it's like when you were a kid and you peeked under the bed at bedtime to see monsters.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Web Secret #283: Google Crisis Response is the most visited website in the world.

The odds are that during the course of this day, you will access a Google product. Just by visiting my blog you are on Blogger, a Google product. Google also owns YouTube. Google is everywhere.

There are some advantages to being the biggest kid on the block.

For starters, you have the money and the infrastructure to build products that are free and helpful to the public. Since Katrina, Google Crisis Response has worked to make critical information more accessible around natural disasters and humanitarian crises. Google's contributions can include: public alerts providing a warning before disasters cause damage, and information on how to stay safe, updated satellite imagery of the disaster area, charitable donations to organizations on-the-ground, and Internet based products designed to organize and coordinate critical response resources and information.

I want to use this post to showcase an especially important tool Google created in the wake of the earthquakes in Haiti: the Google Person Finder. Google Person Finder is a web application that allows individuals to post and search for the status of relatives or friends affected by a disaster. Websites can choose to embed Google Person Finder as a gadget on their own pages. Person Finder is free, and it has been launched in over 40 languages.

What's in it for us?

An Employee Assistance Program (EAP), a health care facility, even an individual practitioner can access the Google Crisis Response toolkit and become a better crisis responder. For example, Person Finder allows any EAP to have an expanded role and increased impact as part of the services provided during the aftermath of a major critical incident.

Check it out.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Web Secret #282: Surprise Industries

I do not like to be surprised. When I turn on my laptop, I want it to turn on, when I go on vacation, I want the 4 star hotel to be a 4 star hotel,  when I code a website, I want it to work.

But when I surf the Internet, I want to be surprised. As much as possible. Because surprise makes me smile.

Amazingly, there is a company that is entirely devoted to creating surprises, the aptly named Surprise Industries. Three young women entrepreneurs founded SI, a New York company that plans surprise events for individuals and businesses. Think trapeze lessons, private beer tastings and a zombie birthday party complete with actors in costume and a terrifying alleyway ambush--the possibilities are endless.

The clients themselves can be the surprisees, or they can hire the company to surprise someone they know. Surprisees have no idea what they're paying for, aside from some hints, a location and an arrival time. They're asked what kind of experience they want (adrenaline-spiked, romantic, mysterious) and what the occasion is. Then, Surprise Industries' team, including 13 part-time "agents of surprise" on call for emergency brainstorming sessions, makes it happen by contacting the right people and putting together the surprise.

The trio has planned surprises for family reunions and vacations, as well as corporate team-building activities and company events. SI Founder Tania Luna has even given a TED talk about the story of her surprising life. The talk has over 400,000 hits:

It turns out that SI has inspired a movement. People want to surprise themselves. In their blog, SI reports the story of Jia Jiang who has been pursuing an unusual goal: his aim is to get rejected 100 times. He’s been rejected by zookeepers who wouldn’t let him feed a lion, by a radio station who wouldn’t agree to feature him in an on-air interview, and by Domino’s Pizza who wouldn’t let him deliver a pizza.

It all started on July 4th of 2012 when he had an epiphany. He realized his fear of rejection was preventing him from achieving his dreams. Jia decided to embark on a “rejection therapy” quest in the hopes that he would become desensitized to rejection, and would be liberated to pursue the life he wanted.

After a year of making difficult asks, Jia has actually had a surprising amount of success. A Krispy Kreme employee created a reproduction of the Olympic Rings symbol out of donuts, just because he asked. He’s also managed to speak over Costco’s intercom, sit in the driver’s seat of a police car, and fly a plane, among many other adventures. Jia says he’s surprised by the amount of success he has had (where "success" means having his request be met, as opposed to the "success" of being rejected). His stories are evidence that people will surprise you, if you only let them.

Thank you, Surprise Industries, your existence surprised me.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Web Secret #281: Humans of New York

How do you create an epic, life-changing, influential blog? One that is avidly followed by well over one million people.

I wish there was a formula that I could share with you. This much I know:

It would have to be passionate.

It would have to be unique.

It would have to be moving.

It would have to be like Humans of New York (HONY.)

HONY, like many of the blogs I have featured on iWebU, features a deceptively simple idea. Brandon Stanton, a 29-year old self-taught photographer, arrived in New York City in August 2010 with the aim of photographing 10,000 New Yorkers and plotting their portraits on a map of the city. Below each photograph, he posted a snippet of the dialogue he had with each of us subjects.

That's it, that's the whole idea.

Wait, I'll let him explain it:

Here are three examples of a HONY post:

A beautiful old woman recites a poem.

A doorman explains why he admired his father.

A girl asks Stanton to photograph a man named Mark.

It's hard to analyze why HONY works so well. I think it's about the quality of each photograph. The humanity inherent in each subject. The thoughtfulness of each caption.

Stanton is now famous, and the blog has been featured on TV, the Wall Street Journal and will soon become a published book.

There are eight million stories in the naked city; this has been one of them.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Web Secret #280: Blogging for EAPs

I maintain a list of blogs created and maintained by employee assistance programs (EAPs).

That's a lie. There is no such list. Even though there is probably no better way to showcase expertise, few and I mean very, very few EAPs have a blog of high quality. In fact very few EAPs have a blog of any kind.

So when I see someone, anyone, do a really nice job of blogging about EAPs - well, I have to blog about it.

I had never heard of a Canadian EAP called Aspiria. And I still wouldn't - except that I use StumbleUpon and up popped a blog post "Top 10 Reasons for an EAP – Insight from an EAP Expert Part 1."

The posts are written by Aspiria CEO Charles Benayon and he has done everything right. First and foremost, he has written an interesting and informative blog post - anyone in the market for an EAP would find it extremely helpful. His layout is graphically pleasing. His color palate is bright and reminiscent of his Aspiria website color scheme, achieving an overall visual branding. Subscribing to the blog is simple and right there at the top of the post.

Canadian EAPs have consistently trumped the rest of the world in their early and effective adoption of social media and technologically cutting edge service delivery. But you don't have to be Canadian, nor at the helm of a large EAP to create an effective blog.

You just have to write well, create compelling content and sign up at or

Then put your blog URL in the comments section of this post. Who knows, maybe I'll write about it.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Web Secret #279:

Many therapists carry two cell phones, one for their patients and one for everybody else. They do this to protect their privacy. Some also do it because they work with volatile, potentially violent clients and it is a matter of safety to maintain a separate phone number.

But carrying two cell phones is a pain in the neck, and expensive. There is another way. It's called - it's a virtual phone number and it takes seconds to set up.

Why use it?

Power and Flexibility
  • Choose your area code
  • Forward the calls to any phone
  • Separate business and personal calls
  • Simple to insert greetings, route calls and manage callers
  • Voice mail and call logs for each number
  • Know which phone line is calling before you answer
Privacy Options
  • Inbound Caller ID options
  • Outbound Caller ID Privacy options
  • Control your availability using Do Not Disturb settings
  • Block specific callers from contacting you
Your iNumbr gives you control over how and when your calls come to you. iNumbr lets you pick any phone where your calls can be forwarded. You can filter your calls as you wish -- by caller, by time of day or even allowing you to decide “on the fly” whether or not to take a call.

An plan can be had for as little as $6.99 a month.

Much cheaper than a second cell phone.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Web Secret #278: Tile

I don't lose important items like my laptop, my table or my smartphone. 

But in my personal life, I am surrounded by people who misplace their stuff, (and other critically important items like house keys and car keys.) When these unnamed people go crazy looking for these lost possessions, they stress me out.

Plus I am tired of paying the deductible to my insurance company to replace lost/stolen iPhones. And get this - some of my teenagers (you know who you are) -  are no longer insurable because there has been one too many incidents...

So imagine my excitement when I read about a small startup called Tile that raised a record-breaking $2.68 million for its small, Bluetooth-connected devices you can affix to anything you don't want to lose, such as your keys, laptop, or luggage. Here, let them show you their amazing product:

Tile will start shipping this coming winter, but you can preorder Tiles via at a cost of $18.95 per individual Tile. Once the company starts to ship, the Tiles will retail for $25.00.

It's the perfect Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanzaa/birthday gift for your errant children.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Web Secret #277: Web 3.0 Redux

Over 4 years ago (yikes - I've been blogging that long!) I wrote a post predicting what web 3.0 would do :
"Many experts believe that the Web 3.0 browser will act like a personal assistant. As you search the Web, the browser learns what you are interested in. The more you use the Web, the more your browser learns about you and the less specific you'll need to be with your questions. Eventually you might be able to ask your browser open questions like "where should I go for lunch?" Your browser would consult its records of what you like and dislike, take into account your current location and then suggest a list of restaurants."
It appears that Web 3.0 may actually take this a step further, as a New York Times article reports:

"A range of start-ups and big companies... are working on what is known as predictive search — new tools that act as robotic personal assistants, anticipating what you need before you ask for it. Glance at your phone in the morning, for instance, and see an alert that you need to leave early for your next meeting because of traffic, even though you never told your phone you had a meeting, or where it was....How does the phone know? Because an application has read your e-mail, scanned your calendar, tracked your location, parsed traffic patterns and figured out you need an extra half-hour to drive to the meeting."

Excuse me while I FREAK OUT!

As Claire Cain Miller, the article's author, explains "The technology is emerging now because people are desperate for ways to deal with the inundation of digital information, and because much of it is stored in the cloud where apps can easily access it."

Claire goes on to quote Amit Singhal, (Google’s senior vice president for search,) as he cheerfully remarks, "You can just imagine several years down the road, if that personal assistant was an expert in every field known to humankind."

That's the problem - I can imagine. I am a student of history and literature.

When I was a kid, 10 years before the first Apple I computer was sold, I read "The Feeling of Power" a science fiction short story by Isaac Asimov, written in 1958. Isaac wasn't your run of the mill sci-fi author, he was also a brilliant scientist. He coined the term "robotics" in 1941.

But I digress. "The Feeling of Power" describes a distant future, in which humans live in a computer-aided society and have forgotten the fundamentals of mathematics, including even the rudimentary skill of counting. Only one guy on the planet, (and he has to rediscover how to do it,) can add and subtract, multiply and divide. I never forgot that story.

So I don't really want my iPhone 9 to predict that I want Chinese food, rent "I, Robot," and set my alarm clock for 7:30 am, because tomorrow is a work day. Maybe I want sushi, maybe I want to call in sick tomorrow. Maybe I don't know what I want.

Maybe I want to be in control.

I may want my iPhone 9 to drive my car. But only after I ask it.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Web Secret #276: the future is here

Don't know if you are aware, but almost every course given at MIT is available on line, for free.

You can learn Spanish, study "Godzilla and the Bullet Train: Technology and Culture in Modern Japan", or take "The Making of a Roman Emperor."

Of course there are endless courses on Mathematics, Computer Science, and Electrical Engineering. Along with offerings like "Einstein, Oppenheimer, Feynman: Physics in the 20th Century," "The Anthropology of Cybercultures", and even a graduate course entitled "Genetics, Neurobiology, and Pathophysiology of Psychiatric Disorders."

Did I say it was FREE?

I don't really understand why MIT is doing this. The explanation on their website is rather vague, "The idea is simple: to publish all of our course materials online and make them widely available to everyone.”

"OK, but why are you doing this?"

Before they change their minds, I am quietly going to take advantage of this.

Now I know I'm in the 21st century.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Web Secret #275: 10 Essential Apps

There are hundreds of thousands of apps. It's overwhelming. It's annoying. Most of them are crap.

Which ones are really useful?

Here is my completely biased opinion:

The DSM-5 App - while the battle rages on about whether to abandon this nomenclature, clinicians in the trenches will have to use it to get insurance reimbursement and other useful purposes. Yes, the App costs $69.99 and you can get the 20 lbs book for slightly less. But seriously - would you rather lug the book around or just prefer to have the handy dandy virtual version on your tablet or smartphone? I thought so.

A free banking app - Do you still go to a bank to make deposits? What a waste of time. Banking apps have been around long enough that most of the kinks have been worked out. They help you take a photo of a check and voila - the depositing process took 20 seconds.

Square - wouldn't it be cool if your clients could pay you with a credit card? They can. Combine the app with the free Square reader and you are in business. And you don't need an accounting degree to use it.

An entertainment app - You stand on line - often. How to escape? I admit to a serious addiction to Words with Friends, but others may use that time to read the NY Times, or the latest bestselling book. Angry Birds anyone?

Hootsuite - this is a free social media dashboard that allows you to post and manage multiple networks at once including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Skype - no it isn't HIPAA compliant, but you shouldn't be chatting with clients while you are out and about anyway. On the other hand, it allows you to make internet and video calls for free.

Dropbox - let's you bring your documents, photos and videos anywhere and share them easily. Let's you back up stuff. You always back up your files right?

Find my iPhone or equivalent - tablets, smartphones, laptops are expensive. When you lose them, or they are stolen it's freak out time. Install a finder app and learn to use it.

iTranslate - in the old days if a client didn't speak English, you scrambled. Now you can use this app to translate words, phrases and even whole sentences into 50 languages. Oh, and it provides voice recognition too.

Yelp - whether you have just moved to a new area or travel for business, you need recommendations of where to eat, shop, find a hair salon and more. Yelp does that.

What are your favorite apps?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Web Secret #274: The Power of One

Here are three important facts about the impact of technology on the world we live in:

1. It's flat - when it comes to just about everything , the world is increasingly becoming a level playing field, where all participants have an equal opportunity.

2. We live in different "time zones" - across our planet some of us are wearing Google Glass while others are plowing their fields with oxen. Even in the US there is a broad spectrum of technology adopters, from people who are just coming around to using a cell phone, to users who program their own websites.  Every time zone can be impacted by technology.

3. There is less than 5 degrees of separation between any two people on the planet - people can share ideas with only a few jumps to a large portion of the world’s population and with even fewer steps to the entire population of a nation.

Experts tell us that even the average tech involved person is more "famous" than the most famous people of the 19th century. Many Facebook and Twitter users have thousands of followers. A lone individual can have a huge impact on others. 

It's both an opportunity and a curse.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Web Secret #273: 1,000 Awesome Things

Sometimes I feel completely uninspired.

I actually start to think that I have no more posts in me. I think about abandoning this blog and starting a new one, on a completely different topic.

But if I just wait, (a challenge since I am epically impatient,) something wondrous comes to my attention, and I am instantly revitalized. This week I discovered two very different blogs that reignited my commitment to iWebU.

The first is the Race Card Project - started by award winning journalist Michele Norris. Michele wanted to start an honest conversation about race in America. So she asked people: "to think about their experiences, questions, hopes, dreams, laments or observations about race and identity. Then, I asked that they take those thoughts and distill them to just one sentence that had only six words."

To her amazement she received hundreds of submissions that are, as she puts it: "thoughtful, funny, heartbreaking, brave, teeming with anger and shimmering with hope." Many people submit their six words and then write an accompanying essay explaining their thoughts. In turn, many readers write responses to these posts. And the conversation evolves. Here is a typical post from the site:

"The Art and Racket of Passing"

The second is "1000 Awesome Things" which is just what it says, "a time-ticking countdown of 1000 awesome things. Launched June, 2008 and updated every weekday." Simple, right? Well Neil Pasricha, the creator of Awesome, has gotten over 51 million hits on his blog. He has multiple best selling books eg "The Book of Awesome," and was invited to give a TED talk called "the 3 A's of Awesome," which has 1,712,091 views. (And that's just for starters.)

Here are some of my favorite awesome posts - do not judge me:

#996 Opening and sniffing a pack of tennis balls

#973 Sleeping in new bed sheets

#908 Peeling an orange in one shot

#83 Flushing a toilet with blue water in it

#57 Taking all the free stuff from hotel rooms


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Web Secret #272: Notes from the job search

I recently had the good fortune to meet Steve Paul, a career coach with an expertise in using social media, especially LinkedIn, to find a job.

Steve is so knowledgeable about personal branding and using technology to define one's career and find employment that I invited him to speak about it during an all day presentation I gave in Seattle, Washington.

I discovered that Steve is anything but your typical job coach. He previously worked as a Lead Program Manager for Microsoft and a Director of IT at a not for profit. He writes a fantastic blog "Notes from the Job Search" which manages to make the topic of job hunting brand new (pun intended.)
Here are some of his best posts:
Whether you are job hunting, thinking of job hunting, or just hoping to make more of your current position or business, you will find "Notes from the job search" to be just what the doctor ordered.

Read one post per day, and continue until finished.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Web Secret #271: You need a social media policy

If you are in private practice, do EAP work, or own a business, you need a social media policy.

You need a social media policy, even if you don't use social media, because your clients/customers use it.

Let me be even blunter unless you are living off the grid, and alone, you need a social media policy.

What would a straight forward, comprehensive social media policy look like?

Meet Dr. Keely Kolmes, a San Francisco based psychologist in private practice. She treats "Internet, technology and social media visibility issues." She gives a course on "Digital and Social Media Ethics for Psychotherapists,." She has co-authored a paper "Summary of Client-Therapist Encounters on the Web: The Client Experience."

And she has put together an excellent social media policy that is not only relevant to clinicians, but can easily be adapted to fit the needs of other businesses as well. Even better, Dr. Kolmes has been generous about sharing her model policy with other professionals.

Thank you, Dr. Kolmes!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Web Secret #270: SEO

Social marketing expert Rick Rochon famously said "Having a website is like having a billboard in the desert."

It was a succinct way of stating that merely having a website does not guarantee visitors. For that, you also need to work on your Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Search Engine Optimization is actually a simple concept, it describes any method that increases the number of visitors, page views, new visitors a website receives during a pre-defined time period.

Nevertheless, many mental health and EAP professionals are intimidated by SEO and believe that it is best left to the experts.

The only way to measure SEO is to explore the performance of key metrics over time. In the recent past, that meant using a program like Google Analytics, a program that tracks the number of visitors, page views and other stats.

With the smartphone/tablet explosion, there are now a number of apps that do the same work as Google Analytics. This means that you can now check your website's performance while you are standing on line for that all important Starbucks latte.

Website Magazine issue recently published a useful listing of the best apps for "analytics on the go," including gAnalytics, Viralheat and Quicklytics, to name a few.

So now that you know how many visitors you have and how long they stay on your site, how do you work on your SEO? Many mental health professionals timidly wait for their web designer to insert key words into their website's source code. Sure key words can help, but even a tech novice can improve their website's visibility. Think about:
  • Listing your website in your e-mail signature and on your business cards
  • Making sure that your Twitter points to your website, your website points to your Facebook and your Facebook points to your Twitter.
  • Listing your website URL in your bio, in the text of an article you just wrote and on your PowerPoint slides.
  • Sending out an e-mail blast to your contact list announcing your website or promoting a recent upgrade.
  • Commenting on a blogpost that impressed you and inviting the blogger to visit your site.
You don't need IT expertise to work on your SEO.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Web Secret #269: Instagram

I need to come clean right away. I have never downloaded or used Instagram.

But let's get real, we all know that my ability to spot trends, is shall we say, spotty. Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for 1 billion dollars.

Didn't see that coming at all.

Let me explain: Instagram is a photo sharing app. I share my photos all the time - without the help of Instagram.

My daughter has informed me that I don't get it. "It's all about the filters," she said.

Let me explain what she means:

1. Download Instagram

2. Take a photo thorugh Instagram

3. Apply a filter. "Instagram is well known for its filters, and there are 20 different looks you can use. Each filter provides a different look, coloring, and feel to the photo, so it can be fun to make your photo look unique simply by applying a different filter." I told my daughter I have never felt the urge to apply a filter to anything.

Let me explain further:

Instagram lets you share your photo, or "select Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, email, Flickr, or Foursquare, and share on those networks as well." I can do that on my iPhone.

Further yet:

Your photos are saved to an album in your Instagram account. As I write, my photos are saved on my iPhone, iPad and MacBook Pro. Without the help of Instagram.

Instagram also allows you to:

Follow people on Instragram.

You can use hashtags, so that all of your photos about #icecreamflavorsIlove are grouped together.

Instagram is now allowing videos. (Already doing this on my iPhone.) Ah, but the app allows you to use 13 video filters.

Facebook bought Instagram for 1 billion dollars.

Clearly there is something about filters I just don't get.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Web Secret #268: Cost of Social Media

Social media for your business costs nothing, (except for your time,) provided you do it yourself. But many professionals would prefer to hire an expert to do it for them. And that brings up the question "How much will it cost me?"

Fees are among the most closely guarded secrets. Fortunately, social media strategist Mack Collier divulges this information in a yearly article aptly titled "How Much Does Social Media Cost Companies." Here is the essence of what he had to say in his most recent annual survey:

Custom design and template creation – $1,000 – $5,000
Writing/Editing Content for the blog plus ongoing training – $500-$4,000 a month (Assume 1-2 posts a week at this rate)
Ghostwriting blog posts – $50-$500 per

Account Setup - $500-$2,000
Ongoing Account Management and Training – $500-$3,000 a month

Initial Page Setup – $500-$2,500
Monthly Content Management and Curation – $500-$3,000 a month

Social Media Training and Consulting
Hourly Training/Consulting – $50-$500 an hour

Social Media Workshops(All fees exclude travel and are for on-site Workshops)
Half-Day (Up to 4 hours): $500-$7,500
Full-Day (6-8 hours): $1,000-$15,000
Note: Keep in mind that workshop rates represent a significant amount of training and content creation time. If you pay a consultant $5,000 for a day-long workshop, that consultant might have spent 20 or 30 hours creating that workshop. So the prep time has to be considered in addition to the actual time delivering the workshop when looking at fees.

In general, a really good compromise is to have the expert set up your blog/Twitter/Facebook and teach you or another one of your staff members how to run your social media channel going forward.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Web Secret #267: Smartphone Year Abroad

How do you take a smartphone abroad?

Very carefully.

If you don't want to get slammed with massive roaming and data fees.

First and foremost, do not take your device out of the country without planning ahead and doing your homework.  You have some options:

1. You can keep your existing cellphone and buy a data package, a voice roaming package or both from most American carriers. What's nice about that:  anyone calling you from the US will pay only for a local call no matter where in the world you find yourself.

For example AT&T has three levels of data, priced by the month: 120 megabytes for $30, 300 megabytes for $60 and 800 megabytes for $120.  For voice, AT&T charges start at $30 for 30 minutes of calls. Text packages start at $10 for 50 texts.

The problem is that it can be very difficult to gauge how much data you're going to need. For this reason, it is always a good idea to call your carrier and discuss your needs and the various plans offered with a human being.

Also, data and voice packages are sold for a minimum of one month. So you need to remember to cut off the package when you are back in the US by calling your carrier's customer service. If you do not, you will be charged each month until you do.

2.  If your phone is unlocked (meaning it will work on any other network) and you are going to a place that uses the GSM phone standard, (eg Europe,) you can buy a local SIM card. This gives you your own phone number based in the country you are visiting.  

Telestial is a company that sells SIM cards and even phones that work in other countries. Depending on the country and your American mobile carrier’s rates, buying a local SIM card or phone may be cheaper than the roaming rates you will pay your carrier. Do the math. Also if go the SIM card route, make sure that your friends and family back in the States have an international calling plan of their own.

3. Use Wi-Fi whenever possible to check e-mail, so you do not use up data plan minutes. Wi-Fi is available in most hotels and many coffeehouses. Make calls in a Wi-Fi hot spot by using Skype, Apple’s FaceTime or similar apps. And turn off the “push” data option on your smartphone so that your device is not continually checking for new e-mails.

This blog post was inspired by a NY Times article by Erica A. Taub.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Web Secret #266: Your Digital Afterlife

Back in 2011, I wrote a blogpost entitled "Death in Cyberspace"which asked the question "as we increasingly scatter ourselves across Facebook, websites, blogs, and more - what should happen to all this digital "stuff" when we die?"

At the time this question was not on most people's radar.
But now it's 2013, and the New York Time's Anne Eisenberg wrote an article explaining why estate planning is important for your online assets.

In her piece, Anne asks "Who gets the photographs and the e-mail stored online, the contents of a Facebook account, or that digital sword won in an online game?"

Since my 2011 post, many new services and programs have sprung up to help people prepare for what happens after their last login.
"Google has a program called Inactive Account Manager, introduced in April, that lets those who use Google services decide exactly how they want to deal with the data they’ve stored online with the company — from Gmail and Picasa photo albums to publicly shared data like YouTube videos and blogs.
The process is straightforward. First go to Then look for “account management” and then “control what happens to your account when you stop using Google.” Click on 'Learn more and go to setup.' Then let Google know the people you want to be notified when the company deactivates the account; you’re allowed up to 10 names. You choose when you want Google to end your account — for example, after three, six or nine months of electronic silence..."

Anne adds, "And if you just want to say goodbye to everything, with no bequests, you can instruct Google to delete all of the information in your account."

Not a Google user? How about SecureSafe  which bills itself as "Swiss online storage." There you can save up to 50 passwords, 10 megabytes of storage and one beneficiary. "Accounts can be accessed from a browser, or from free iPhone, iPad and Android apps."

At minimum, experts urge “Make a private list of all your user names and passwords for all the accounts in which you have a digital presence, and make sure you update the list if you change login information.

Think about it.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Web Secret #265: Swindles and spam

How do you protect yourself from online swindles and spam? An article in the New York Times by Azadeh Ensha tried to answer that question. Here is my abbreviated version:

Though the major search engines discourage such deception, it is easy to fall victim to a Web scam. For example, be deeply suspicious of websites that sell designer bags, electronics and watches at surprisingly low prices. You are either dealing with a fake or, in the case of electronics, with a refurbished used machine.

When it comes to email, look before you click. I live in a warehouse district that is very cool, but has no shopping. So I order everything from toilet paper to medication on line. Recently, I received an email that claimed to be from DHL - a helpful link to track my package was provided. Except I never have anything delivered via DHL. So I googled "DHL scam" and found that indeed the email is fraudulent and aims to infect your computer with malware when you click on the link. Delete these emails immediatly.

In addition, before making any purchase on a lesser-known site, take a look around. Does it look like it was put together by a teenager for a school project or does it seem legit? Remember "On the Internet Nobody Knows You're a Dog." And the converse holds true - you don't necessarily know who's a dog either.

Grammar and spelling errors may signal that the owner is based elsewhere. And if you spot the term “free” scrawled across a Web site, well proceed at your own risk.

Azadeh points out: "It is important to know what separates a potential spam site from a harmless one. The difference may be counterintuitive. For example, pornography domains may be safer to browse than some mainstream advertisements are 182 times more likely to deliver malicious content than pornographic sites.

He adds, "Be wary of Web pages that oversell you on their supposed legitimacy. One Better Business Bureau logo is fine. A series of logos promoting a site’s professionalism or expertise is a red flag."

Remember: "Common Sense Is Neither Common nor Sense."

Caveat Emptor.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Web Secret#264: Vsnap

Imagine that you could easily record a very short (under 60 seconds) message and easily send this message to your individual clients/customers/contacts.

A brand new website/app called Vsnap does just that.

Vsnap is so simple that it only takes a 60 second Vsnap to explain it:

There is no software to download, nothing tech to learn.

Imagine wishing your client happy birthday, welcoming a new patient into your practice, reminding someone of an event.

I wish everything was as simple as Vsnap.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Web Secret #263: Social Media in 2013

Social media expert Jeff Bullas recently posted his 2013 21 Awesome Social Media Facts, Figures and Statistics.

Here is my Cliffs Notes version:


The number of people accessing the Internet via a mobile phone increased by 60.3% to 818.4 million in the last 2 years.

Facebook - first quarter of 2013

Daily active users have reached 665 million
Monthly active users have passed 1.1 billion for the first time

Twitter - is the fastest growing social network in the world by active users

44% growth from June 2012 to March 2013
288 million monthly active users
21% of the world’s internet population are using Twitter every month
Fastest growing age demographic is 55 to 64 year olds


1 billion unique monthly visitors
6 billion hours of videos are watched every month
YouTube reaches more U.S. adults ages 18-34 than any cable network

LinkedIn - the largest professional business network on the planet continues to grow but not at the pace of Twitter.

Over 200 million users
2 new users join it every second
64% of users are outside the USA


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Web Secret #262: Social Media Marketing in Times of Tragedy

In my non iWebU life, I am the web editor for an international professional association.

This means that every day, several PR companies send me e-mails that say, "Please publish my article on "______________." Sample recent submission: "GET FROM THE BEDROOM TO THE BOARDROOM - How to use your skills in sex and dating to score your dream job."

You can't make this stuff up.

So it is rare, and I mean VERY rare, to get an appropriate article from a PR firm. But there are always exceptions and  "Social Media Marketing in Times of Tragedy" (author Marsha Friedman,) is one of them.

Marsha asks:

"If you’re using social media for marketing, what should you say following a tragedy like the deadly blasts at the Boston Marathon on April 15?

The horrific elementary school shootings in Newtown, Conn.?

The October storm that took lives and devastated communities across the Northeast?"

Her answer: "Sometimes, nothing at all."

She goes on to point out: "The age of digital marketing brings with it new challenges, including how to respond during a national tragedy. Remember, as recently as Sept. 11, 2001, we had no MySpace, much less Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. Except for email, no vehicle for delivering instantaneous marketing messages existed. After 9/11, one of the most painful days in American memory, most of us had time to pause, reflect and put on hold print, radio and TV marketing campaigns that might be viewed as inappropriate or offensive."

So then when do you tie – or not  - a marketing message into the news of the day?

Marsha responds: "Usually, simply applying your own sense of decency and good taste can help you avoid a blunder. Consider American Apparel’s notorious “Hurricane Sandy Sale – in case you’re bored during the storm,” advertised as tens of thousands of people endured freezing temperatures without power."

Here are her suggestions for do’s and don’ts:

"Can you be helpful? Hours after the blasts in Boston, with cell phone service out in the city and family and friends desperately trying to connect with loved ones, launched “Person Finder: Boston Marathon Explosions.” There, individuals and organizations could share information about the status of marathon participants and spectators for those trying to find them.

If your community has suffered a tragic event, perhaps you have helpful information to share. Here in Florida, which is affected by hurricanes, people use social media to help evacuees and their pets find shelter, and to alert others to danger, such as downed power lines. Depending on your area of expertise, you may be able to provide more general information or commentary. For instance, an educator can share tips for answering children’s questions about the event.

Of course, social media is also about reactions and, for many, that’s a sincere expression of sympathy for and unity with those affected.

If you want to post something and you’re unsure about what to say, take a look at what businesses and other brands are sharing, and how online users are reacting. You may decide to just say nothing for a day or two, or whatever time seems reasonable given the nature of the event.

Sometimes, saying nothing at all speaks volumes."


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Web Secret #261: Kickstarter

This blog post is guaranteed to make you smile.

Back in 2010, I introduced you to Crowd Accelerated Innovation, the concept of using the global reach and the speed of the Internet to bring about change.

The embodiment of this kind of innovation has to be Kickstarter. And you should know about it.

What is Kickstarter?
"Kickstarter is an American-based private for-profit company founded in 2009 that provides tools to raise funds for creative projects via crowd funding through its website. Kickstarter has funded a diverse array of endeavors, ranging from indie films, music, stage shows and comics to journalism, video games and food-related projects. People cannot invest in Kickstarter projects to make money. They can only back projects in exchange for a tangible reward or one-of-a-kind experience, like a personal note of thanks, custom T-shirts, dinner with an author, or initial production run of a new product."
Thank you, Wikipedia.

Need some concrete examples? Here are some Kickstarter success stories from 2012:

"Incident in New Baghdad," a documentary short film was nominated for an Oscar. (They asked for $7,850 and got $11,960.)

Fubar, a Zombie World War II anthology made the NY Times best seller list. (They asked for $3,000 and got $6,000.)

Athens, Georgia raised money to create a beautiful bus stop. (They asked for $2,500 and raised $3,000.)

Darksky, a weather prediction app, (down-to-the-minute weather prediction for your exact location,) was launched. (They asked for $35,000 and raised $39,000.)

A Kickstarter funded opera premiered at the Kennedy Center. (They asked for $10,000 and got it.)

From art, to urban renewal projects, to scientific innovation - people like you and me, are making them happen.

Are you smiling yet?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Web Secret #260: Spring Cleaning for your Computer

You know how you periodically change your oil and rotate your tires? Well your computer needs maintenance too.

If you have a mac, and are lucky enough to have AppleCare, stop reading this post and dial 800-275-2273. They will patiently walk you through a thorough maintenance of your notebook or desktop.

In fact, look up when your AppleCare expires, (it's only good for three years,) and if you are within 3 months of the end date, call them and perform the above mentioned maintenance check with them whether you think you need it or not.

For the rest of us, just published a very well done article on this very topic, which I herewith summarize:

The first thing you'll want to do is clear out the garbage tat has inevitably accumulated in your computer. Uninstall unused and under-utilized programs on your desktop and laptop systems. Give your registry a scrubbing with CC Cleaner, a free program for both Windows and Mac, that will clear old registry entries (for PCs) as well as empty recycle bins, zero out recent document lists, and erase a variety of browser information — Temporary files, history, cookies, download history, form history — from the major browsers. (PS you don't really need to understand what any of this stuff is to use the program.)

Next, update your firewall and antivirus software (eg Norton.) Once updated, run the fullest, deepest, most complete scan your program offers. For an added layer of protection, especially if your anti-virus suite doesn't already do so, install and run a spyware removal tool such as SpywareBlaster.

Then, if you haven't yet set up a back up system for your files, do that now. You have a choice of Carbonite, or Dropbox.

Finally, now that your devices' insides are squeaky clean, it's time to give them a thorough physical cleaning as well. Wipe down your monitors with a damp cloth, clean the gunk out of your mouse (if you don't yet use a laser mouse) and wipe off your desktop tower and laptop exterior. Shake out and vacuum your keyboard, scrub the keys with a mild soap and water solution to remove oily buildup and remnants from the latte you spilled in there last week. If you use a desktop tower, now would be a good time to open the case and blow out any dust bunnies out of the fans.

Cleanliness is next to godliness.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Web Secret #259: Let's hear it for the girls

If you've been following my blog for a while, then you know that I get very cranky about the lack of girls in technology. However, I am beginning to get a tiny bit more hopeful that women are getting a foothold, well maybe more of a toehold into tech.

Some of that hope comes from my own backyard. My daughter Jamie is a social media and computer hardware/software expert. Jamie never reads manuals, she just picks up that newest model smartphone/laptop/doohickey and knows how to operate it in a matter of seconds. Aggravated with Facebook's latest privacy settings - call Jamie. Ready to give up on Photoshop - call Jamie. For some of her best tips, follow her on Twitter.

Jamie turned me on to Sew Many Ways, a blog by Karen. Karen must never sleep, because in addition to working as a dental hygienist and posting about a hundred different topics from sewing, to crafts to organizing, she writes some of the very best blogger tips I have ever read.

Here's an example: "Add A Favicon For Blogger With No HTML Code." The tiny little picture some websites and blogs have next to their web or URL address is called a Favicon...short for Favorite Icon. Adding one to your blogger blog without Karen's step by step explanation is a veritable pain in the neck, guaranteed to suck up your time and your energy.

Karen has written about 40 how to posts for everyone from beginners to more advanced bloggers. Thank you, Karen. Get some rest.

Through Karen's "How To Add Social Media Icons To Your Blog," I discovered Carrie Loves (Life Love Design) another woman who doesn't get a lot of sleep. Carrie designs blogger templates and websites, and gives away free stuff she has created, like beautiful social media icons. Her website is instructive, fun and beautiful.

So let's give these girls a hand! Now if I can only get Deniece Williams to rerecord this with the correct lyrics:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Web Secret #258: Account Killer

Most of the mental health professionals I meet are concerned about Internet privacy.

Many are very concerned.

For those who are ultimately concerned - there is only one way out - deleting your social media accounts.

Figuring out how to do this for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and all the myriad others you may be involved with can be a major time suck, as they do not want to make it easy for you.

If you have trouble remembering all your accounts, or do not want to devote the better part of an afternoon to this project, visit Account Killer. It has a huge list that includes direct links to deleting your profile from over 500 different sites. I deleted a rogue Google+ account in a matter of seconds.

If you meet clinical criteria for paranoia, are just feeling lazy, or want the most thorough scouring possible, you can pay $129 to DeleteMe. DeleteMe will clean up any trace of:
  • Your public profile from leading data sites
  • Contact, personal, and social information
  • Photos of you, your family, and your home.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Web Secret #257: Captology

Ever heard of BJ Fogg?

Yeah, I know. Neither had I.

Dr. Fogg is a psychologist and the first person to study the impact of computers on human behavior. He did that in the 1990s. As a doctoral student.

In 1996, Fogg derived the term captology from an acronym: Computers As Persuasive Technologies = CAPT. He created a new field of research captology - the study of computers as persuasive technologies. This includes the design, research, and analysis of interactive computing products (computers, mobile phones, websites, wireless technologies, mobile applications, video games, etc.) created for the purpose of changing people’s attitudes or behaviors.

Then he started the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, which focus on captology research. He created a new model of human behavior change, which guides research and design. He is the author of Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do, a book that explains how computers can motivate and influence people.

Fogg's work on the intersection of captology and wellness is of particular interest to behavioral health clinicians and EA professionals. He edited Texting 4 Health: A Simple, Powerful Way to Change Lives.

His work inspired the First International Conference on Persuasive Technology for Human Well-Being, held in 2006. In 2011, the World Economic Forum's Wellness Workplace Alliance selected the Fogg Behavior Model as their framework for health behavior change.

To keep people updated on new developments in captology, the Stanford Persuasive Tech Lab sends out an e-mail newsletter every few months. It's free. They just ask you to tell them how you heard about captology.

Tell them I sent you.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Web Secret #256: Technology Moves Too Fast to Care About

Founded in 1995, during the heyday of the boom, Fast Company is a business magazine that focuses on technology, business, and design.

To be honest, I left Fast Company to subscribe to its arch rival Wired. Wired seemed, well cooler.

But life as a way of coming full circle, and my millenial son reintroduced me to Fast Company via their amazing online "magazines," Co.DESIGN, Co.EXIST and Co.CREATE.

Recently, I was blown away by a Co.DESIGN article, (authored by Chris Butler,) "12 Trends That Will Rule Products in 2013," because so many of the trends were so completely relevant to the practice of mental health and employee assistance.

I'll jump in and tell you why:

Trend #3: ANALOG WILL NEVER GO AWAY. I have previously blogged about this concept - specifically that no technology ever dies and millenials love old technology. To broadly extrapolate, no service delivery methodology will every become obsolete. The psychotherapist of the near future may talk to patients on their video wristwatch, but there will always be a demand and a need for in person treatment. The Butler article notes, 2013 "will be the year when mainstream consumers start to embrace “outdated” technologies along with cutting-edge ones. A brand that can seamlessly straddle the divide makes far more sense to them."

Trend #4: WORTH IS DETERMINED BY PHILOSOPHY, NOT PRICE. The article notes, "How do you determine a product’s intrinsic worth? Increasingly, it’s the idea behind the product and the philosophy of the brand that created it. Your values are a competitive advantage. 2013 is when mainstream brands start asking serious questions about their philosophy and values. Knowing what you stand for and conveying that to the world is no longer an intellectual exercise for the touchy-feely fringes. It’s a necessity." I have watched ultra competent providers bill $90, $175 and $300 for the identical service. Think about it.

Trend #6: REPAIR AND REPURPOSE ARE THE NEW KILLER APPS. See #3. It's not about building a new breadbox. It's about adapting the old breadbox to new clients. How are you going to attract the next generation of clients, who may know nothing of Freud, old style medical models, and more?

Trend #7. TECHNOLOGY MOVES TOO FAST TO CARE ABOUT. Butler notes: People used to invest in products just to get their hands on the newest technologies. But it’s become too much, too fast...only a slim population of early adopters counts pixels or processor speeds anymore. The rest of us just want to know what it’s like to use." Translation - having/using technology, be it an app, a website, an online service - that in and of itself is not enough. Your use of technology must be user friendly, and make sense.

Trend #10. HUMAN INTERACTION HAS NEVER BEEN MORE PRECIOUS. Butler writes: "There’s almost no transaction that can’t be automated today... And customers are starting to resist. With many technological obstacles out of the way, we have the luxury of being picky about automation. Sometimes we embrace it... And sometimes, we long for a living, breathing person...2013 reverses the trend toward automated everything, as humanity becomes the crucial differentiator between a beloved brand and a commodity."

You may be resisting the pull of smartphones, social media, and whatever techno trend is coming down the pike. Or you may have jumped on the app bandwagon. Regardless, it's all about knowing your worth. See trend #12:

Trend #12. EVERYONE IS A SPECIALIST. "You’re a specialist, too. Trying to be everything to everyone is a losing proposition. As [clients] embrace their connoisseurship, they seek out brands that match it. The success stories of 2013 are companies unafraid of putting a stake in the ground, to boldly indicate where their expertise and passion lie--and where they don’t."

Make sense?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Web Secret #255 -

How much do you hate those anonymous robocalls?

Even caller ID doesn't always help, because you don't know if you are getting a legitimate call just by looking at the number.

Thank goodness for

800 notes provides 4 simple services:
  1. Helps you find out who is calling and why: Debt collectors, telemarketers, charities, and survey companies often call without leaving a message. Look up the number to read the reports of other users.
  2. Allows you to report telemarketing calls: Make the Do Not Call list offenders notice the problem by reporting their practices. No business wants bad publicity.
  3. Makes it easy to report phone fraud: Did someone try to scam you? Reporting the number is the fastest way to make public aware, and prevent others from falling victim to the scam.
  4. Enables you to check out a business: Read other users' feedback about the phone number owner.
Take that, robocall.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Web Secret #254: Yes, Virginia There Is an Online Course

In a February editorial, "The Trouble With Online College," the New York Times moved to discredit online higher education. This prompted a flurry of letters to the editor, arguing the pros and cons of online education.

Not one of the letter writers pointed out this very simple fact: We may not have a choice. It may soon be the way many, and ultimately most students get a higher education.

Anyone who currently has a child in college, or faces the prospect of sending one to university, knows that the value proposition for higher education is becoming unsustainable. It now costs in excess of $50,000 or more per year to attend a private institution, and a not too shabby $20,000 a year to go to a public school. Walk around any private college and ask any student. They will confirm that already, the student population is comprised of the very affluent who can pay the ticket, the very poor who qualify for need based grants, and the gifted who qualify for merit or athletic scholarships. The middle class - not there.

Soon, public institutions will also become unaffordable. And as for graduate school, the issues are the same. As an example, many experts believe that unless you are accepted into a top tier institution, don't bother getting a law degree.

Already, demographic studies show that the majority of millenials move back home after college, often for a prolonged span of time. The immense debt they carry precludes living on their own, even with roommates.

So, how are the growing hordes of middle class students who don't have the money or the talent to pay for school, going to get an education?

Online, of course.

And we need not necessarily feel sorry for them. Given the choice, most would opt to watch famed Harvard Professor Michael Sandel deliver his thrilling course on "Justice," rather than listen to a bored junior professor listlessly drone on in a conventional classroom.

Peter Norvig, a prominent professor at Stanford University, teaches a famous online course, available to anyone, on "Artificial Intelligence." Peter didn't just make a video of the course he was used to giving in class. Instead, he completely reinvented it, breaking it down into 2-6 minute segments, followed by a question that allowed participants to check if they actually understood the concept that had just been taught.

The student of the future may have the option to get educated by the best of the best. Sure they will miss out on the college experience we were fortunate to receive, but all is not ivy and camaraderie. There is also hazing, bullying, and drunken parties.

It may not be a bad thing to miss out on that.

And it may be inevitable.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Web Secret #253: Parker 5th Generation Technology

I live and work immersed in technology. I have a smartphone, a laptop, and a tablet. I am on the Internet about 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. I love cutting edge stuff and am an early adopter. I like the newest and the latest.

So it might surprise you that I still use a pen and a notebook throughout the day.

But not just any notebook. Not just any pen.

For the past 10 years, I have written my notes in a Moleskine Squared Red Notebook - size large. I love the acid free paper, the red bookmark, the elastic closure (great for travel) and the expandable inner pocket (which I never use, but it is oddly comforting that it's there.) Moleskine notebooks have existed for centuries, and were used by the like of van Gogh, Picasso, and Ernest Hemingway, to name a few.

And the pen - well that requires serious thought. I usually favor fountain pens, or strange Japanese writing instruments, typically purchased from

Currently, my go to writing instrument is a Parker 5th Generation Technology pen.

My family has a long and auspicious history with Parker. My great uncle was the French rep for the American company. His job enabled him, my grandmother and my mother to escape Nazi occupied France during World War II. His Parker connections were able to get him a visa so they could enter the US.

This same great uncle gifted me with my first fountain pen when I was seven years old. I remember the pen's color (teal) and the fact that it made me feel super grownup.

Anyway, sometime in 2011, the 5th generation technology pens were introduced. So named because it follows 4 previous generations of writing technologies - the fountain pen (1884), the ballpoint pen (1888), the felt tip pen (1962), the roller ball (1980s). The pen sort of looks like a fountain pen - but it isn't.

It's an entirely new kind of writing experience. Sure, nothing beats sitting at a desk and writing with a double broad gold tipped Duofold on a sheet of beautiful paper. But here's the rub - most of my life is spent writing in airplanes, at conferences, and on the go - where writing with a real fountain pen is at best messy, at worst impossible. (I will also add that I am left handed.) And this Parker pen - well it doesn't leak, it doesn't bleed, it doesn't clog. It's completely dependable and provides a pleasant and smooth writing experience, much more pleasant than your average roller ball/ball point/gel pen. In addition, refills come in fine and medium and in a variety of colors, including burgundy, olive green, peacock blue and purple.

The pen comes in many flavors, ranging in price from $80 - $160. All write with the same point, if you buy a more expensive version - you are paying for cosmetics.

Bonus: It is very easy and quick to swap out refills - none of thee many reviews I have read mention that you can change from black, to green, to burgundy ink in a matter of seconds.