Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Web Secret #33: The Internet is for fun - and learning

What's a happy new year blog post without a top 10 list?

For education and entertainment, I refer you to Lifehacker's "Top 10 How to Videos".

Actually, who has time to watch 10 videos during the holiday season?

Just watch:

9. Seal chips without a clip.

8. Get eight watch batteries from a AA.

and my personal favorite...

7. Fold a T-shirt in two motions perfectly (and fast).

Welcome 2009.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Web Secret #32: Web 2.0

In my very first iWebU blog entry I wrote: "You do not have to be a geek to understand the power of Web 2.0 and expand your business or your private practice".

This should have been followed by a blog entry defining Web 2.0. Oops.

That never happened.

Mea culpa.

So here is that missing entry...

Web 2.0 is a very new concept. Tim O'Reilly, the CEO of O'Reilly Media, a company that publishes books and produces conferences on computer technology topics, first coined term in 2004. What Is Web 2.0 wasn’t published until September 2005. His definition is lengthy and not particularly intelligible to a non-technically oriented person.

Now for a more understandable perspective.

A mental health professional is looking for an article on the use of technology during critical incidents.

Web 1.0 approach – She browses through the online archive of EAPA’s Journal of Employee Assistance, a static collection of web pages, eventually finding an article published in 2008, “Using Technology in Mass Disasters”(Vandepol).

Web 2.0 approach - The professional joins the EAP Manager Listserv. Her e-mail sent to the listserv “Do you know of any articles about the use of technology during critical incidents?” instantly reaches over 600 top notch EAP managers. A half dozen of them respond within a couple of hours with recommendations. She now knows about the JEA article, AND finds out there is an online panel presentation Critical Incident Continuum of EA Services: Technology Makes a Difference delivered at EAPA’s 2008 World EAP Conference which she can access in a matter of minutes.

See the difference?
Web 2.0 describes changing trends in the use of World Wide Web technology and web design that aim at enhancing information sharing and collaboration. Web 2.0 is all about interactions between internet users.

In my opinion, professionals in any field should:
  1. understand the concept of web 2.0
  2. be aware of the numerous web sites and internet platforms that emulate core web 2.0 principles, and their application to their work
  3. potentially use some of these websites and platforms to enhance their businesses.
I repeat: there are dozens upon dozens of internet web sites and platforms that emulate core web 2.0 principles: Skype, blogs, SharedBook.com, ChaCha, etc., etc.

Choose wisely.

Actually, reading this blog will help you do just that...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Web Secret #31: Ergonomics Part 2 - Logitech Mice

Last week, I confessed that I use a $300 Kinesis Contoured Keyboard to manage the finger pain I suffer due to excessive geekiness and computer use.

However, I also took my pain management one step further.

I went on the Logitech website and purchased a collection of three different mice and trackballs.

I bought:

1 cordless Trackman Wheel - list price $49.95
1 Marble Mouse - list price $19.95
1 LX8 Cordless Laser Mouse - list price $39.99

The Trackman Wheel requires me to move the pointer on my screen by using my thumb. I click with my fingers.

The Marble Mouse requires me to move the pointer on my screen by using my fingers. To click I use my thumb.

The LX8 Mouse requires me to move the pointer on my screen by using my wrist. To click I use my thumb.

I prevent overuse of my wrist, fingers and thumbs for various tasks (scrolling, clicking, etc.) by rotating my mice/trackballs on a weekly basis.

Something to consider even if you aren't (YET) experiencing finger/wrist/hand pain from using the computer.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Web Secret #30: Ergonomics part 1 - The Kinesis Keyboard

I use a $300 keyboard.

OK, the list price is $299.

Why you may ask...

Well for the past three years, I have been using my keyboard for about 8 hours a day to:

surf the net
write code
use e-mail
author articles
craft this blog
and after a few months of this regimen, SURPRISE, my fingers started to HURT. Since I plan on working for at least another 15 years, (maybe more given the current economic meltdown), I became alarmed.

I began a crash course in the ergonomics of using computers. And I zeroed in on the life changing (albeit expensive) Kinesis Contoured Keyboard.

When I type, my hands are sunk into two valleys of QWERTY keys. My fingers apply a lot less pressure, my overall hand and arm typing position improves, leading to - bottom line - massive reduction of finger pain.

Some of the keys eg SPACE, ENTER, Ctrl, etc., are not located in the usual place, so there is a learning curve to using the Kinesis. I am the most uncoordinated person on the planet and it only took me two days to get up to speed.

I did something else to reduce my finger pain - but that's another secret...see next week's blog.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Web Secret #29: Wayback Machine

Every now and then I like to look back on my failed dot.com boom website eparttimejobs.com. At the time, my partner and I thought we had a winner, and we were already counting our millions. I still like our cool eyeball logo.

When I am feeling even more masochistic, I visit the 2001 version of the Google home page. Should've bought that stock...

All kidding aside, those of us who are unwilling to study past mistakes are condemned to repeat them.

So when I feel studious, I travel backwards in time via the Wayback Machine.

The Machine enables you to browse through 85 billion web pages archived from 1996 to a few months ago. To start surfing the Wayback, type in the web address of a site or page where you would like to start, and press enter. Then select from the archived dates available.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Web Secret #28: 4Q

Ever wondered if your web site sucks?

Wonder no more.

There is only one way to find out just how good or bad your website is and that's to ask your visitors.

Google expert Avinash Kaushik has created a FREE professional survey tool that asks what he believes are the 4 most important survey questions ever developed:
  • How satisfied are my visitors?
  • What are my visitors at my website to do?
  • Are they completing what they set out to do?
  • If not, why not?
  • If yes, what did they like best about the online experience?

Go to 4qsurvey.com and sign up - it takes only a few minutes.

Want more info?

Watch a nine minute film on YouTube: "An Introduction to 4Q".

Read 4Q's frequently asked questions.

Survey says.....

9 out of 10 visistors to the 4Q website sign up.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Web Secret #27 - Ghost

Call me paranoid, but I am always looking for secure, free places to back up my files.

Call me frugal, but I am always looking for cheap places to stash my pictures and my music files.

Enter G.ho.st.

G.ho.st provides every person in the world with a free Virtual Computer (VC). Like a Windows PC, or Mac, the VC is a personal computing environment which includes your desktop, your personal settings, your files and your choice of software applications.

But unlike a PC, your VC is not installed on one physical computer - instead it is stored in professional data centers across the Internet cloud, and is accessed from any Internet browser in the world. From any computer, open the browser toG.ho.st , enter your username and password, and continue using your VC from exactly the state you last left it in.

G.ho.st has several advantages over a PC (or Mac):

Available from any browser in the world instead of being installed on one physical machine.

The operating system, many apps, and the first 5GB of data storage and 3GB of email storage are absolutely free.

Software (namely Web-based software) can be run without installation.

The computer is always up-to-date, secure and backed up with no action or cost on your part.

Because it is online, the G.ho.st VC provides new possibilities for fun and collaboration, beyond what is available on a PC.

The G.ho.st VC is currently in public "alpha" - the VC is already stable and usable although it does not yet have a complete set of applications, services and widgets associated with it and there are a few bugs.

The bugs will be fixed and application added rapidly over the coming weeks.

Signing up takes 5 seconds. Click START, pick your user name and your password (because G.ho.st is news, you are likely to get one of your first choices), and there you are. Uploading files is a snap (you click UPLOAD files). EASY!

If your nervous about trying new things, you can log in as a visitor.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Web Secret #26: How to become Web Dead

Do you feel overexposed on the web?

Maybe you have posted information that was just a little too personal. Or signed up on one to many forums. Maybe you are getting ready to job hunt and you have heard that employers are checking potential job candidates online before making their hiring decisions.

But what can you do? Isn't the Internet simply an information black hole that sucks up personal data, disseminates it to all comers, and never lets go?

I recently read a useful but somewhat overlong and technical article on how to become "Web Dead" .

Here is my succinct and easy to understand adaptation of that article, renamed "How to erase your online identity in 9 steps":

1. Assess the Damage
Start by performing an Internet search for your name on all known search engines to assess the damage. Use quotes, "John Hancock" and if you have the time, go through ALL of the returned search results. Make a reference file with the results that point to you.

2. Delete What You Can
Visit all your old blogs, online resumes, for sale advertisements, want ads, personal ads, social networks, geneology webs and bartering sites. Follow each site's protocol for deletion.

3. E-mail Webmasters Directly
If a reference to your name occurs on a blog or website that isn’t agreeable to you, a simple e-mail to the site’s webmaster will fix the problem in short order.

4. Employ ReputationDefender
ReputationDefender was founded to protect your good name on the Internet. They provide professional DESTROY assistance, helping to remove inaccurate, inappropriate, hurtful, and slanderous information about you and your family.

5. Always Use Pseudonyms
You would be surprised at the overwhelming number of novice computer users who feel an undeniable compulsion to use their real name when posting something on the Internet. To simplify things, come up with a standard pseudonym, and create an accompanying e-mail address when you post your opinions, rants, or other juicy tidbits you wouldn’t want to fall into the hands of your employer.

6. Contact ChillingEffects.org
Chilling Effects dedicates itself to educating Internet users about their rights. They have also created a form you can use to send a cease and desist notice to a site owner who won’t comply with your request to remove your name from a particular site.

7. RemoveYourName
A somewhat pricier, but guaranteed service is RemoveYourName.com. They will not stop working until your name is off of the major search engines, and their work is backed by a money-back guarantee. Theirs is a one time process. Prices start at $995 for personal use, and go up to $2995 for the full-on business package.

8. Refocus on the Positive
If you don’t want to pay to get your bad name expunged from the public record, you can try an alternative approach. Companies like ComplaintRemover, have the ability to make positive information about you or your business appear on thousands of different websites.

9. Stay Offline
Resist the urge to reveal sensitive information. Deny the impulse that drives you back onto FaceBook to post. Once you feel you’re ready, tip-toe back into cyberspace by limiting yourself only to selected websites that don’t encourage or have the capacity for naughtiness or defamation.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Web Secret #25: RSS

Do you like having chinese food, online shopping orders, and the New York Times delivered to your doorstep? How about the latest entry in your favorite blog iWebU?

RSS is for you.

RSS, stands for “Really Simple Syndication.” It allows you to choose content you like and have it delivered to you instantly.

No more clicking from site to site to site to see what’s new. The goods are brought straight to your doorstep. RSS is offered by most major news sites (eg CNN), as well as the vast majority of blogs.

Ultimately, in order to access RSS feeds, you need a news reader, also known as an aggregator. Many people recommend signing up for a news reader as a first step in the RSS process. Actually, I think it's easier to do it the other way around.

First find a website you’d like to be kept up-to-date on.

Let's take this blog for example. On the left side of the iWebU home page, you will see a link "Subscribe to RSS Posts". A drop down menu will show you a list of possible FREE news readers. I like newsgator.com, which requires a 5 second sign up process.

Once you’ve signed up for a reader, you simply have to figure out what sites you’d like to be kept up-to-date on. To use the newsgator site as an example, you will notice a link "Ad Feeds"at the top in the horizontal navigation bar. Click on this button, enter the url of the website you want to sign up - in this case http://iwebu.blogspot.com and there you go, you are signed up.

How do you know it's worked?

In the left hand navigation of the newsgator.com home page there is a link "My Feeds" and you will see that iWebU and all its existing blog entries are now easily accessible there.

Go ahead and sign up the blogs and news sites that interest you.

Now you only have to log in to one site, newsgator.com, and all your preferred blogs and sources are in one place!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Web Secret #24: Very Bad Websites

Just as you can learn from visiting the very best websites, you can learn a lot from visiting the very worst.

Conveniently for all interested parties, there is a web site that collects and ranks the absolute turkeys of web design, web navigation and web content. I am talking, of course, about the fabulously edifying and entertaining "Web Pages That Suck".

The great thing about this website, is that not only do they rank the worst of the worst on a yearly basis, but they accompany their selections with witty commentary.

You too can explore such atrocities as:
Tally-Ho Uniforms & Accessories - one of the top 10 worst websites of 2007
Yvette's - a rising contender for the worst of 2008
Burlington Ufo and Paranormal Research and Education Center ("This is so godawful that it ruptures the very fabric of space and time")

Remember my August 22, 2008 post, Web Secret: Ten Commandments of Website Design? This is what happens when you simultaneously violate all ten commandments.

Bonus Secret: Wondering if your web site sucks? Then read their "Checklist 1 - 149 Mortal Sins That Will Send Your Site to Web Design Hell", and wonder no more.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Web Secret #23 - TED

Imagine if, whenever you wanted to, you could listen to a relatively brief, (no more than 18 minute), presentation given by one of the greatest and most entertaining minds in the world.

You would be inspired.

You would be enlightened.

You would be clicking on the TED website.

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader.

The annual conference now brings together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).

The TED website makes the best talks and performances from TED available to the public, for FREE. More than 200 talks from their archive are now available, with more added each week. Better yet, these videos can be freely shared and reposted.

Want to experience the power and exhilaration of TED?

Here are three of my favorite presentations to get you started:

Robert Lang folds way-new origami

Jill Bolte Taylor: My stroke of insight

Einstein the Parrot: Talking and squawking.

Economy got you down? Sick of politics? Turn off the telly and click on TED. One of the nicest gifts you can give to yourself.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Web Secret #22 - blogtalkradio

Ever fantasize about having your own radio show? Ever hoped someone would interview you about your amazing Equine Therapy practice? Or wanted to publicly acknowledge the 10th anniverary of your successful EAP business? Or wanted to try your hand at being the host of your own call in psychotherapy program a la Dr. Ruth?

Fantasize no more, check out blogtalkradio.com.

BlogTalkRadio is the social radio network that allows users to connect quickly and directly with their audience. Using an ordinary telephone and computer, hosts can create FREE, live, call-in talk shows with unlimited participants that are automatically archived and made available as podcasts. No software download is required!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Web Secret #21 - yousendit

Most people are really bad about backing up their important computer based documents, photos, music files, etc. This means most people are only one computer crash away from losing all of their STUFF!

Friends, I count myself among you. I get really lazy about backing up my files despite the fact that I can:

  1. back them up on a remote server
  2. back them up on any one of the 15 different pocket USB drives I own
  3. back them up on my really nifty personal paperback book sized portable hard drive.

So in a pinch, what do you do when you're about to leave for a two week vacation and your 18 year old nephew is housesitting and he's a gamer and the odds are good that he is going to crash your computer and destroy the file containing the 300 photos you took at your 25th high school reunion?

You e-mail 'em!

That's right - cyberspace is safer than your home.

Aah - but 300 photos - that's a huge file. How are you going to send something that huge, quickly and safely?

HELLO yousendit.com

yousendit is a digital delivery company serving businesses and individuals on the Web. Their innovative service enables users to send, receive and track HUGE files, on-demand.

Best of all they offer both a FREE TRIAL and a FREE SERVICE option.

What's great is you can:

  1. e-mail your 300 photos to another computer
  2. send the e-mail and once you have properly backed up the photos, delete it - you no longer need the insurance.

email back up - it's a good thing.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Web Secret #20 - SharedBook.com

Many mental health and other professionals have accumulated wonderful articles, lists of resources and other material on their websites or even in a series of word documents.

Bottom line: There's a huge amount of content on the web that users would like to keep in a more permanent form.

Enter SharedBook.com. SharedBook's "reverse publishing" capability allows users to select content and assemble it in book form. With a few clicks, a book is formatted and displayed; it can be purchased as is, or photos and text can be added for further personalization. Better yet, you can sell your book on line and SharedBook handles the entire transaction. You don't put any money up front, but everytime you sell a book, you share in the proceeds with SharedBook.com.

Perhaps even more amazing is their Blog2Print platform - aka "Got a blog? Make a book!".

Next time you feel like selling a printed version of your blog - how about "My Best Blog Entries of 2008", go to Blog2Print, where they you can print your blog and turn it into a professionally-published book.

With just a couple of clicks, you choose a cover, the posts you'd like to include, and you're on your way.

Wanna try? Go to Got a blog? Make a book! Type your blog URL in the space provided, and click "Print my blog". Wow! Talk about instant gratification! You can even SELL copies of your Blog! No cost to you, and you get 20% of each copy sold.

Passive income - that's the Web 2.0 way.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Web Secret #19 - ChaCha

Ever have the fantasy that you could ask any question in the world and a human being would answer?

Your dream is a reality: enter ChaCha http://answers.chacha.com/

ChaCha is like having a smart friend you can call or text for answers on your cell phone anytime for free! ChaCha allows people with any mobile phone device - from basic flip phones to advanced smart phones - to ask any
question in conversational English and receive an accurate answer as a text message in just a few minutes. ChaCha is free for the consumer.

Have a question?

Simply text your question to 242242 (spells ‘ChaCha’) or call 1-800-2ChaCha (800-224-2242) from your mobile phone to ask any question. To respond to user queries, ChaCha enlists about 15,000 independent contractors, or guides, throughout the United States, often segmented by geographic expertise and paid based on accurate answers. An algorithm is also employed, so questions that have previously been asked and accurately answered can be recycled.

ChaCha is much more helpful to mobile phone users than typical computer-driven search engines. Simply ask your question like you are talking to a smart friend and ChaCha’s advanced technology instantly routes it to the most knowledgeable person on that topic in their Guide community. Your answer is then returned to your phone as a text message within a few minutes.

What types of questions can you ask?

Just about anything under the sun. The ChaCha website lists numerous examples http://answers.chacha.com/?page_id=21 across a number of categories including health, technology, travel, lifestyle, and more.

Question: What is the current commute time on Interstate 90 from O’Hare airport to downtown Chicago?
Answer: It is slow (20-30 mph) until the Edens Kennedy junction, then it is a parking lot. Take Rand to Northwest HWY, to Elston Ave.

Question: What is the average salary of a personal assistant?
Answer: It depends on the industry, an assistant for the CEO or top corporate is over 60K on average while a typical salary is under 40K.

In addition to informational requests and queries about the weather and directory assistance, about 15-20 percent of the questions are transactional in nature, such as finding a restaurant or information about purchasing something.

One of ChaCha’s biggest assets is that you don’t need to open a browser on your phone and navigate the Web. Also, because it’s accessible via text or voice, there is nothing to download and it works on virtually every phone, regardless of carrier.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Web Secret #18 - Peek

Non-geeks like simple, easy to use technology that does not require reading a 300 page manual to use. So if the thought of understanding a Blackberry fills you with horror but you've always wanted to access your e-mail 24/7, the Peek is for you.

All the Peek does is send and receive e-mail. You will be able to buy it at Target stores and getpeek.com. Each Peek costs $100. You pay $20 a month for unlimited e-mail service.

The Peek is a very thin plastic slab that weighs only a few ounces, comes in three designer colors (dark gray, aqua or dark red) and has a screen and thumb keyboard on the face. On the right edge is a thumbwheel, which scrolls through lists and menus (you click inward on that wheel to select a menu command). Below the wheel is a Back/Cancel button. On top is the power button.

When it comes to hardware, that, my friends, is it.

The color screen is bright and clear, even in sunlight. The keys are brightly illuminated. Each charge of the removable battery lasts two to five days, depending on how much e-mail you get.

The first time you turn on the Peek, you’re asked for your e-mail address and password. The Peek automatically checks for new messages every 5 to 15 minutes, and notifies you with a little chime, a little vibrating buzz and a blinking blue light in the corner. (You can also check on demand.) The Peek handles up to three e-mail accounts.

Simple. Easy. How refreshing!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Web Secret #17 - Healthy Batteries

You've owned your laptop for a year or two, and you notice that the battery does not hold a charge the way it used to. Now what?

Laptop batteries can hold only a limited number of charge cycles before they begin to wear out. If the laptop is still under warranty, check with the manufacturer to see if the battery is covered. Then order a replacement.

Many companies suggest another possible fix - recalibrating the battery. This involves exhausting it and charging it back up again to reset its internal processor. Apple has its battery care tips online, and so does Hewlett-Packard. Just visit the online technical support section for your brand and you can find similar instructions.

Bonus Tip: However tempting, do not purchase a replacement from a third-party vendor. This is not where you want to save money.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Web Secret #16 - Stumble Around

When I want to find out what the latest and greatest websites are in my area of interest, I Stumble.


StumbleUpon discovers web sites based on your interests. Whether it's a web page, photo or video, the personalized recommendation engine learns what you like, and brings you more.

How does this work? Easy. And it's FREE!

Step One: You download a very simple mini toolbar. This takes seconds. (StumbleUpon lets you demo the tool bar.) The toolbar consiststs of 3 elements: a Stumble! button, a thumbs up button, and a thumbs down button.

Step Two: You specify your interests. Mine, for example, include topics like cyberculture, web development, and computer hardware. Yours might be mental health, psychiatry, and self improvement.

Step Three: Click your Stumble! button. StumbleUpon takes you to a website that relates to your interests.

In my case, doing this takes me to "Top Ten Mistakes in Web Design". Excellent! This might be the inspiration for a future blog entry. I click on the thumbs up button. Not only does this automatically save the website into my favorites, but clicking the thumbs up button tells StumbleUpon that I like this type of website.

I click Stumble again. This time it takes me to a website selling a book "Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs" Whoa! Way too technical for me. I give it the thumbs down.

Over a very brief span of time, the StumbleUpon algorithm will do a better and better job of learning what types of websites I am interested in, and those that I dislike.

There are countless ways to creatively use the power of StumbleUpon, from keeping tabs on your competition, to keeping abreast of the latest developments in your field, to boosting your creativity.

Have fun!

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!


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.

You can contact Marina at marinal@me.com. Serious inquiries only.