Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Web Secret #186: Small Demons

One of my favorite websites is the curated collection of TED talks.

TED is a collection of hundreds of short, epic presentations from some of the world's greatest thinkers. You can look up TED talks by category.

My favorite TED category is "jaw-dropping".

All things being equal, I spend most of my working days on the Internet, and my jaw rarely drops.

Then my friend Alex sent me a link to

And my jaw dropped. Since I am a person of extremes, I did more than drop my jaw, I actually freaked out.

I can't even use words to describe small demons. You have to watch the video:

Honestly, small demons is so new, so mind blowing that I don't yet understand how it will impact business and professionals.

Maybe you'll let me know.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Web Secret #185: There's an App for That

It was bound to happen - an employee assistance program (EAP) creating a state of the art mobile app for iPhone, iPad, RIM and Android.

Morneau Shepell, a Canadian EAP, launched My EAP in May 2011 - and has been improving it ever since.

The app delivers interactive tools, support resources and access to EAP services via mobile devices to provide easy and effective access for people on-the-go.

My EAP allows users to connect to:
  • Health and wellness articles
  • e-Counseling
  • Information on a range of personal and work-related topics from acclaimed experts through streaming video.
It takes seconds to download the app (see below.) The landing page of My EAP is beautiful in its simplicity. There are exactly 4 options to click: work, life, health, EAP Services, plus an 800 number for emergencies.
The app is available at no cost via the App Store and BlackBerry App World. You can download the app onto your mobile device via the following links:

App Store
BlackBerry App World

Why did Shepell do this?

According to research, there were about 5.3 billion mobile phone subscriptions at the end of 2010 which equates to 77 per cent of the world population.

The number of people accessing the mobile Internet is growing fast. At the end of 2009, estimates indicated almost 530 million users browsed the mobile Web on their handset. This will increase to over 1 billion by 2015.

That's why.

The ball is in your court.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Web Secret #184: Website Costs

I often get asked "How much should it cost to create a website?"

The answer is “It depends.”

Are you looking for a 5 page website to represent a small practice? Or are you looking for a 20-page site with a shopping cart feature? Will the site include Flash? A listserv? A database? Do you want the web designer to create or edit content?

All of these questions need to be answered, before you even shop for a designer.

That means you have written all your content, know how many web pages you need, and what you want your website to do, before you even pick up the phone. Most people think you hire the designer and then figure out the content of the website. In fact, web design follows web content, and not the other way around.

In their November 2011 issue, Website Magazine published the following estimates:

Student/Offshore designer: $100 - $250+
Freelance/Professional designer: $250 – $1,000+

Basic/Brochure Website:

Student/Offshore designer: $500 - $1,000+
Freelance/Professional designer: $1,500 – $5,000+

e-Commerce Website:

Outsourced designer: $1,000 - $15,000+
Design Firm: $2,000 – $10,000+

Custom Database and/or Interactive Website:
Outsourced designer: $1,500 - $15,000+
Design Firm: $2,500 – $25,000+

A more expensive designer may finish your project faster than a less expensive designer – saving you money and aggravation in the long run.

Sometimes you get what you pay for.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Web Secret #183: Surf the Web Together

My mom rocks technology for someone who is 87. She orders stuff online, e-mails, and watches videos on YouTube.

Then again every now and then, she calls me with questions I can't answer. "I ordered dog food on and it never came."


Did she order it and it never came? Or did she think she ordered it, but never did?

So I end up logging in to Amazon under her name and I launch a search and rescue operation.

Problem is, she isn't sitting next to me, so no learning has occurred. I can try to explain what I did to fix the situation, but I can tell she is not getting it.

WAIT! She can virtually sit next to me thanks to

This is how simple it is:

1. I go to the website

2. I enter the url for in the space provided.

3. I e-mail my mom, and tell her to join me.

4. Tada! My mom and I are now seeing exactly the same web page, including each other's mouse movements.

Now she can watch me, as I demonstrate how to search her account and find out what happened to that 25 lbs bag of Science Diet.

Using, I can also:
  • Join my college aged daughter as she shops for her Halloween costume (must not pay for something too skanky.)
  • Watch a presentation with a colleague in Washington DC.
  • Look at summer rentals with my real estate broker.
The possibilities are endless.

You try it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Web Secret #182: It's About Games

Do you spend time playing games? Solitaire? Words With Friends? Angry Birds?

What about your kids? Do they spend time on their Wiis, XBoxes, or Nintendo game consoles?

Humans love to play games. One of the hottest trends in technology is making everything a game.

Probably no industry sector has jumped faster on this trend than behavioral health care.

Aetna plans to offer Mindbloom's Life Game a "Fun, Simple, and Effective Interactive Game to Improve Quality of Life." PS Mindbloom is amazing - check it out!

The wounds most often suffered by soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan are post-traumatic stress (PTS) and traumatic brain injury (TBI.) The U.S. Army's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC)has created virtual real­ity (VR) programs that allow soldiers with PTS to revisit past wartime experiences, helping them move beyond those events at their own pace.

A cognitive training game developer has begun talks with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market a new game for people with schizophrenia as a therapeutic drug.

Games for Health: Research, Development, and Clinical Applications (G4H) is a new, bimonthly peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the development, use, and applications of game technology for improving physical and mental health and well-being.

So, go ahead, play a game. It's good for you.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Web Secret #181: Generation Disorganization

WARNING: This blog post consists of several paragraphs of whining.

I recently read that the Millennial Generation ends with people born in 1992.

What comes after?

Gen D, the Disorganized Generation.

Have you ever tried to organize, be proactive, or get something done in a timely fashion with today's teenagers?

It won't work.

And there's a reason for that. It's called the text message.

Boomers and Xers, remember when you were a kid? If you wanted to have fun on a week-end night, or get anything done that required other people, you had to MAKE A PLAN. Ahead of time.

There were no smartphones, so if you didn't MAKE A PLAN, you would end up ALONE, with nothing to do.

Also a PLAN was something relatively simple, you called 4 people, and said "How about we meet on 15 Main Street, at 8PM for dinner and a movie?" That was your plan. Figure 10 seconds per call. After the dinner and movie, you might hang out for a while and then you went home.


Have you ever watched today's teens make a PLAN?
Well it doesn't really happen - a PLAN requires FORESIGHT.

Instead what happens is a series of haphazard, random, chaotic, last minute events.

A typical week-end might happen thusly:

Event 1 - Teen wakes up at noon. Texts 5 friends "Wanna have breakfast?" Three say "k". New round of texts: "Where?". Many texts back and forth until consensus is reached "diner on Main St." More texts back and forth re "When?" This takes 20 minutes. Add more time if your teen is a girl - texts back and forth "What are u wearing?"

Event 2
- Breakfast is now over. New texts to new people "Mall?". More texts: "Which mall?", "Where in the mall?". "Who's driving?" "Can you pick me up?" "What r u wearing?" 20 more minutes go by.

Event 3 - New texts to new people "Party?". More texts: "Whose house?", "Will there be girls/boys there?". "Who's driving?" "Can you pick me up?" "What r u wearing?" 20 more minutes go by.

Event 4 - (precipitated when parents of party house came back from their carefully planned night out, and threw everyone out/called cops) New texts to new people "Hungry?". More texts: "Where?", "Who's coming?". "Who's driving?" "Can you pick me up?" "What r u wearing?" 20 more minutes go by.

???? !!!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Web Secret #180: Google NGram Viewer

Recently I discovered Google's NGram Viewer.

If this is the first time you are hearing about this, you probably don't have a clue what an NGram is. I sure didn't.

Let me explain.

Google has digitized nearly 5.2 million books, and made available to the public for FREE, a mammoth database consisting of 500 billion words from books published between 1500 and 2008 in English, French, Spanish, German, Chinese and Russian.

When you enter phrases (aka Ngrams) into the Google Books Ngram Viewer, it displays a graph showing how those phrases have occurred in a corpus of books (e.g., "British English", "English Fiction", "French") over a selected span of years.

That's kind of cool in a geeky and arcane sort of way. But why should you care?

Let me demonstrate.

1. I decide to research Sigmund Freud.

2. I go to the Ngram Viewer and enter "Sigmund Freud" in the search window and select the span of time between 1870 and 2000.

3. I click "search lots of books." One second later I get this graph that shows me that interest in Freud began to increase in the 1910s. And then continues to shoot up until it peaks in the mid 1990s.

4. OK that's kind of interesting - but there's more. Under the graph I can search for writings by or about Sigmund, by year or span of years. So I click on 1870-1947 and I am connected to a list of books, publications, etc. from that era, courtesy of Google Books.

I found books and publications I had never heard of:

"Why war?: the correspondence between Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud" from 1933.

"Sigmund Freud" an early biography from 1942.

"Sigmund Freud: his life and mind" from 1947.

Etc. etc.

Can you imagine how useful a tool this is for students? teachers? researchers? lecturers? authors?

Can you imagine?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Web Secret #179: Get Zapd

I just created a website on my iPhone in 60 seconds.

Check it out.

This is how I did it:

1. I downloaded the Zapd FREE app on my iPhone - that took 2 seconds.

2. I selected a graphic theme for my website. I am very decisive - that took 10 seconds.

3. I uploaded photos, text, and a url to create the pages of my website. That took 40 seconds.

4. I previewed my website and published it. That took 8 seconds. Voila!

Think about creating a video showcasing your office and posting it on your private practice website. Think about creating a video to showcase an event and then e-mailing the url to your contact list. Think about... well the possibilities are endless.

Here is a video to get you inspired:

Zap on.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Web Secret #178 - The End of Social Media 1.0

Today, I was trolling the web for significance, when I came across a thought provoking blog post "The End of Social Media 1.0" by Brian Solis.

Solis is recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in new media.

In the post, Brian states that we are at "an inflection point in social media that requires pause. I am not suggesting that there will be a social media 2.0 or 3.0 for that matter." He argues that many of us are past the social media early adoption phase.

Facebook growth will hit only 13.4% this year
after experiencing 38.6% acceleration in 2010 and a staggering 90.3% ascension the year before.

The rate of Twitter user adoption fell from 293.1% growth in 2009 to 26.3% this year.

There is a lot of competition for people's attention out there and once liberal with their likes, retweets, and follows, consumers are becoming much more guarded and realistic.

Growth in social network usage among 16 - to 24-year-olds in the US is stalling.

Facebook is no longer the one stop shop
for the total internet experience.

Installing apps is on the decline, down 10.4% in the U.S. and 3.1% worldwide.

What can we learn of this?
Well let me speak for myself. I am experiencing some "Social Network and Technology Fatigue."

I only go on Facebook and LinkedIn once a week

I am wondering if I can get away with just taking my iPad
on my next business trip.

I have downloaded all the Apps I need on my iPhone and iPad.

In short, I am being far more discriminating about my social media engagement since those early days in 2008 when I couldn't get enough.

And that is what Brian is saying.

The end of Social Media 1.0 is the beginning of relevance.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Web Secret #177: Steampunk

When you were a child, did you think that once you became a 21st century adult, everything would be high tech and futuristic?

Were you pretty sure that by then, everyone would be flying around in spaceships, using the latest electronic gadget, while giving commands to a personal robot?

That isn’t the way it turned out though, is it?

Co-existing with smart phones, iPads and other technological marvels, there is a world of people living in the past and the future, all at the same time. And I am not just talking about remote tribes in the Amazon.

We all know someone who still lives like it’s 1999 - or even earlier. One of my friends doesn’t have a cell phone. He still uses a hardwired phone built into his car. It will soon be unsupported by Verizon, completely obsolete and unusable.

That’s why I love Steampunk.

It’s a literary, artistic, and philosophical movement that depicts a world that never existed. Steampunk objects are powered by steam and springs instead of electricity and fossil fuels. When you see a Steampunk object, you wonder “Is it from the past or is it from the future?”

It's a way for people to master technology, instead of letting the rapidly changing world sweep them away.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Web Secret #176:

I am a Star Trek fan, a huge one. I once even attended a convention, (don’t tell my kids.)

During my lifetime, I have had the pleasure of watching Star Trek’s technology become reality.

The crew’s communicator? That’s my old Motorola flip phone. The tricorder? That’s a lot like my iPad. Phasers on stun? Don't tase me, bro’. The Holodeck? That's a lot like Second Life.

Do you remember the computer on the Enterprise? All you had to do was ask it a question and it answered verbally. That hasn’t been done yet ... or has it?

Well my fellow trekkers, wait no more. is here.

Qwiki demonstrated.

Qwiki in a nutshell? Type in EMDR. And Qwiki speaks the answer. It explains what EMDR is. It also shows you relevant visuals during the explanation. And it provides you with other relevant topics, eg neuroplasticity, that you can click on as well.

That first moment when Qwiki answers your first question is absolutely thrilling.

The future is now.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Web Secret #175: catchfree

I have a new favorite website.

It's a social platform that allows people to compare and find the best free software and services online for both business and leisure.

Catchfree makes this easy for us by grouping services into various categories. Here are just a few:

Share files over the Internet

Backup files online

Make voice calls over the Internet

Let's visit one of the categories. Say you had no coding skills and you wanted to build your own website. Check out "How to Build a Website for Free."

Webs, Weebly and WebStarts are among a number of free web development sites that are listed and reviewed in that category. The sites are listed in such a way that they can be easily compared.

You get the point.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to explore Organize Your Travel Plans for Free.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Web Secret #174: Disposable Web Page

I created a disposable web page.

It counts down and then deletes itself.

Why, did I do that?

Because it was there. I couldn't help myself.

But I'm a geek and prone to this type of activity.

Why would you want a disposable web page?

Each disposable webpage has a count down clock. You can set this clock to count down anywhere from 90 days to 0 days from the time the page is created. When the remaining time reaches 00:00:00:00, the page is automatically set for disposal and will exist for 2 more weeks before it gets incinerated.

Let's say
  • You are presenting at a conference.
  • You are holding an important event.
  • You have an opening in a psychotherapy group you run.
  • You have a book getting published.
  • You have a journal article coming out.
You want to tell the world. So you create a disposable web page that counts down to D-Day. And you e-mail the link to the world. Or post it on your website, your blog, or even your Twitter.

Sound complicated? It isn't.

You can create a disposable web page with as little effort as a few key strokes. Just click here. You do not need any coding skills. Disposable web page offers you the convenience and freedom of getting information out there on the Internet with as little hassle as possible.

And it really is that easy. Check out the page I created.

It took me about 60 seconds.

Cool, right?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Web Secret #173: Scams

I trust the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

The BBB is an old time consumer protection agency that successfully reinvented itself with the advent of the Internet.

They recently published a list: "Top 10 Online Scams of 2010" including a helpful chart "Anatomy of an Online Scam" which is a must read and pass along.

The list includes:

1. Job Hunter Scams

2. Debt Relief Services

3. Work From Home Schemes

4. Time Share Resellers

5. Not So "Free" Trial Offers

6. Rogue Home Repair/Roofers

7. Lottery and Sweepstakes Scams

8. Advance-Fee Loan Scams

9. Over-payment Scams

10. Identity Theft

What's great is once you've read about these and studied their "anatomy," you can smell other scams a click away. Even when they don't conform exactly to the model they describe.

And that's a good thing.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Web Secret #172: Freedom

Weekends I do not answer e-mails, tweet, friend, blog or follow anyone.

I shop, hang, watch movies, eat out and touch my laptop or my iPad only to look up entertainment or play Words With Friends. I figure that 9 hours per day, 5 days a week is enough social media for anyone.

My children are not so lucky - they are slaves to Facebook, instant messaging, Twitter and more. Their laptops ding and like Pavlov's dogs, they interrupt whatever they are doing and respond.

They need Freedom. And if you don't have the intellectual self-discipline to ignore your computer, you need Freedom too.

Freedom is a simple app that locks you away from the internet on Mac or Windows computers for up to eight hours at a time. Freedom frees you from distractions, allowing you time to, well, be productive. At the end of your offline period, Freedom allows you back on the Internet.

A free trial is available or you can download Freedom immediately for $10 dollars.

If you are really addicted and a Mac user, you might also need Anti-Social. Anti-Social turns off the social parts of the internet, including Facebook, Twitter and other sites you specify. With Anti-Social, you’ll be amazed how much you get done when you turn off your friends. Anti-Social also has a free trial or you can buy it for $15.

Or, you can save your money and "turn off, tune out, drop out."

Surface to Air.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Web Secret #171: Retro Is OK

Every now and then I get a panicked call from a psychotherapist in private practice.

It goes something like this:

"I don't have a website, should I have a website?"


"I'm not on Twitter, should I be on Twitter?"


"I don't have a blog, should I blog?"

You get the idea. So in response, I ask:

1. "Is your practice struggling, just about breaking even, or do you have a waiting list for your services?"

2. "How much longer are you planning to stay in practice?"

Because the bottom line is, if you have a thriving practice and you plan on retiring in a year or so, you don't need a website or any social media. You are probably getting the majority of your referrals from a well established word-of-mouth group of professionals, former patients, friends, and more.

You can stay retro. You don't need to change the way you do business.

I thought about this concept when I read "A Paper Calendar? It's 2011." Seems there is a group of people out there who are hanging on to their Filofaxes and Day Runners instead of using the calendars on their computers or smart phones.

And it all makes perfect sense. We already know that "there is no species of technology that have ever gone globally extinct on this planet." So that means that somewhere, people are playing 8-track tapes, wearing Pulsar LED watches, and watching TVs with rabbit ears.

I myself am a study in contradiction. I surf Google News and I read the New York Times in paper form. I read books downloaded onto my iPad and actual books. I love my laptop, but I also am fanatical about the weird lo-tech Japanese writing instruments I buy from

So to all you people out there who have yet to use social media, or build a website for your business, you may be OK.

Just understand why.

Or why not.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Web Secret #170: 9/11/01 - 9/11/11

Sunday we will be acknowledging the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

If you were over 5 years old on that day, it is very likely that you know exactly where you were, who you were with, and what you were doing when you realized the magnitude of the disaster.

Television coverage of the attacks, and their aftermath was the longest uninterrupted news event in the history of U.S. television. The major broadcast and cable networks were on the air for days with constant coverage, from the moment the first plane hit the World Trade Center in New York City.

The around-the-clock coverage lasted for 93 hours. That equals 24 hours of coverage for nearly four full days. Many Americans watched for a large percentage of that time, huddled around sets with friends and family, colleagues at work, even complete strangers in other public venues.

Most of the technology we use today didn’t exist in 2001 or had so little market penetration as to have an insignificant impact on our daily lives. So in 2001, if you wanted to know what was happening in real time – you had to watch TV.

This is what has happened since then:

2001 – 32% of Americans used cell phones.
2011 – more than 90% use them.

2001 – less than 60% of US households owned a personal computer.
2011 – more than 80% own them.

2001 – 34% of Americans had a wireless connection to the Internet in their homes.
2011 – 93% have a wireless connection.

2001 – Google, what’s that? It was just founded in 1998.
2011 – Google processes over one billion search requests every day.

2001 – Facebook, what's that? It was not founded until 2004.
2011 – Facebook has more than 600 million active users.

2001 – Twitter, what's that? It was not launched until 2006.
2011 – Twitter has over 190 million account holders, generating 65 million tweets a day.

And so on, and so forth. I could have used dozens of additional examples.

I am aware of two other national tragedies that have served as historical markers during my lifetime:

• President John F Kennedy’s assassination: Nov. 22, 1963.
• Space shuttle Challenger blows up: Jan. 28, 1986.

Neither of these events was followed by a technological revolution of the magnitude we have experienced since 9/11. Take a moment, and compare the decades: 1963-1973 and 1986-1996, to 2001-2011. See what I mean?

As I write this, there is a catastrophic
earthquake/war/famine/economic meltdown
somewhere in the world

I can watch it unfold on Google News, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Oh, and I get texted about it, too.

I still watch some TV news – but only for about a dozen minutes, as I get ready in the morning, and just before bedtime.

Have we lost a sense of community, because we are not huddled together around a TV set?

Or have we actually enhanced our world community because there are so many new ways to communicate our thoughts and follow news events live?

All I know is, when it comes to technology, September 11, 2001, is a lifetime ago.

We now live in exponential times.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Web Secret #169: FollowFriday Helper

If you are on Twitter, you know that though it sounds counterintuitive, the more people you follow, the more followers you have.

If you haven't learned how to add #FollowFriday to your arsenal, now is the time. FollowFriday started in 2009 with the following tweet:

I am starting Follow Fridays. Every Friday, suggest a person to follow, and everyone follow him/her. Today its @fancyjeffrey & @w1redone.

The idea was to think of interesting people you already followed and recommend them to others. The concept took off like wildfire. On the first FollowFriday, there were almost two #followfriday tweets per second at its peak. And the movement continues to thrive.

FollowFriday is successful because:

1. It’s easy. It takes little effort to send a tweet.

2. It’s participatory. You can suggest one person or 100 people. You can get endorsements from one person or a hundred people.

3. It’s karmic and it feels good. It’s a great feeling to simply say, “I think this person is great. You should follow them.”

I liked the concept, but was too lazy to implement it, until I found the handy Follow Friday Helper. FF Helper is a free twitter app that makes it dead-easy to recommend tweeps on Twitter. Sign up. FFH shows you a list of your most active users on Twitter. You can then create #FollowFriday tweets with just a few clicks.

This takes seconds. The max time I was willing to dedicate to this effort.

Try it, you'll like it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Web Secret #168: Social Intelligence

Social intelligence is not just the name of a year old company that "scrapes the Internet for everything prospective employees may have said or done online in the past seven years," according to a recent NY Times article.

Social intelligence needs to become your way of life.


More and more companies are performing social media background checks on prospective employees. Some are outsourcing this task to (SI). SI assembles the good and the bad on each candidate.

The bad? Online racist remarks; references to drugs; sexually explicit photos, text messages or videos; flagrant displays of weapons and clearly identifiable violent activity.

SI's reports remove references to a person’s religion, race, marital status, sexual orientation, disability and other information protected under federal employment laws, which companies are not supposed to ask about during interviews. Also, job candidates must first consent to the background check, and they are notified of any adverse information found.

Less than a third of the data surfaced by SI comes from major sites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. Much of the negative information comes from comments on blogs and posts on smaller social networks, Tumblr, Yahoo listservs, e-commerce sites, bulletin boards and even Craigslist.

Then there are the photos and videos that people post — or find themselves tagged in — on Facebook and YouTube and other sharing sites.

Don't say I didn't warn you. In 2010, I told you to "shut up." Still, users often don't realize that much of the comments or content they generate is publicly available.

Remember that 75 percent of recruiters perform online research on candidates. And 70 percent of recruiters in the United States report that they have rejected candidates because of information online.

You have been warned.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Web Secret #167: Smartphones

I am staring at my iPhone.

Hard to believe that less than 5 years ago, I didn't have a smartphone.

It has become essential to me, along with my MacBook Pro, and my iPad.

I will tell you why.

(Hats off to Damon Darling's "How I Learned to Stop Worrying by Loving the Smartphone" which inspired this post.)

1. I am no longer lost.
I have profound and legendary geographical agnosia. Translation: I can't find my way out of a paper bag. l can't find my way around the small town in which I live. I need GPS at all times, every day, the minute I leave my house. Fortunately, there's an app for that, GPS Drive. Now I am oriented at all times, even when I am walking.

2. I no longer waste time.
I can work anytime, anywhere. Answer e-mails, write my next blog post, make business calls. I am so efficient.

3. I no longer waste time.
I am always waiting for something, somewhere. My doctor's waiting room, my dentist's chair, the supermarket checkout line, are boring no more. I can read a book on my Kindle app, play Words With Friends, plan to break into a bank (The Heist), even conjure up a vacation planning to do list (InstaTodo.)

4. I know everything.
Thank you Google. In a matter of seconds, I can look up anything. Thank you TED - I can listen to great minds sharing their wisdom, in under 20 minute sound bites. Thank you Krulwich Wonders, for giving me something smart to talk about at cocktail parties.

5. I can shop for anything.
I sometimes need stuff delivered to me ASAP. A hard to find shade of Burt's Bees lip shimmer, a video editing program like Final Cut Express, my favorite hard to find Itoen Jasmine Green Tea. Ah, the wonders of's Prime program. For $75 a year, I get two day free shipping on all these items and so many more. Have you checked out Amazon lately? They have it all. Even the filter for my 2003 Maytag fridge.

I love my smartphone.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Web Secret #166: Adobe Museum of Digital Art

TED is an online archive of "riveting talks by remarkable people." You can view the talks by category, one of my favorites being "jaw-dropping."

I don't jaw drop easily. In fact, the last time my jaw dropped was in the 1980s, when I stood in the middle of the precarious Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, (the fifth highest bridge in the United States), 650 feet above the Rio Grande river.

Then just a few weeks ago, I had my first jaw drop of the 21st century.

Over a website. I kid you not.

I wish I could take credit for finding this as of yet not completely constructed website, (my 17 year old son showed it to me), but if you want to see what the Internet might look like in 2050, check out the Adobe Museum of Digital Art.

To fully understand the concept, watch the explanatory video, or if you are more adventurous, look for the white building, and click on that - then explore.

And that is all I am going to say.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Web Secret #165: Web 2.0 Suicide Machine

When it comes to protecting your reputation on the web, sometimes the best offense is a great defense.

That's why we may all need the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine. Congressman Wiener needed it...

In a nutshell, the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine is a service that helps users tired of Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter, to "commit suicide in social networks," by automatically "removing their private content and friend relationships," (but without deleting or deactivating their accounts).

Let them explain it - in this somewhat tongue in cheek video:

This is my aside for Gen Y:

Do you remember the inanities you posted on your Facebook during high school? During college?

Before you enter the job market, especially one that sucks as much as this one, sign up for your suicide.

For you, it isn't optional.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Web Secret #164: Don't Be The First

(Article first published as What I Learned From Google TV on Technorati.)

I am an early adopter of new hardware, but I am not insane.

So you won't find me on line at 4 am to be one of the first to buy, say, the new iPhone 5 (whenever that shows up.)

I like to wait while other people buy and use the gadget for a while. Then I like to test their gadget, and during that time, I ask myself over and over, if I owned it, would I use it? If the answer is yes, then I buy it.

If you are not sure if you will use a new device, DON'T BUY IT no matter how cool it is - you will live to regret it.

An example of a colossal fail, (for which I bear zero responsibility,) is the purchase of a Sony Google Internet TV. It sits virtually completely unused, except when my teenage daughter inexplicably listens to Frank Sinatra while making cookies from frozen dough.

This sad tale began when we needed a replacement TV for the kitchen.

My husband and teenage son came home from an exploratory mission to Best Buy, (a den of iniquity if there ever was one,) having ever so briefly demoed a Google TV and claiming "It's so cool - we must get this."

At that time, I did not know a single person who possessed this piece of equipment.

"Why do we need this?", I asked.

"Because you can go on the Internet."

"But I have an iPad, I can go on the Internet any time, anywhere," I answered.

"Because you can go on YouTube."

"But I have an iPad"

"Because it has Netflix."

"I don't think l I am going to enjoy watching "Avatar" on a 13 inch screen, while standing in the kitchen."

Of course they bought it anyway.

When they brought it home, I warned that one of them - not me - needed to become proficient in the use of the Google TV.

As of this date - and 5 months have passed - no one in my house fully understands how to operate the Google TV.

I can't blame them - the Google TV is more complex to operate than the Space Shuttle. (Don't believe me? The remote control is pictured above.)

99% of the time, when I go to the kitchen and want to watch TV, it doesn't work. It's stuck on the Internet (don't need that, I have an iPad.) Inevitably, I miss the end of the Big Game, the photos of Congressman Wiener's wiener, the announcement that the world is coming to an end, and other programs I would be happy to watch on a good old TV.

Even one with rabbit ears and tin foil like we had in the late 60's.

Even one with rabbit ears, tin foil, and no color like we had in the early 60's.

So until, I sell the f***ing Google TV at our next yard sale, or throw it out the window, (I can barely control the impulse as I write this,) if you smell something good in my house, go to the kitchen, have a cookie, and listen to Frank.

That is the ONLY time the Google TV is in use.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Web Secret #163: Twit Cleaner

Every now and then, I come across a lovely little utility that does what it says it does, clearly and simply.

One such animal is Twit Cleaner.

Signing up for Twit Cleaner takes seconds. Wait some additional seconds and Twit Cleaner delivers a report on the state of your Twitter followers.

The first part of the report gives you information on percentage of people "trying to sell you crap," posting "identical tweets" (an indication of spam), "bots" (spam tweets generated by a robot), etc.

Do you want to be followed by these people/bots? Heck NO!

So then comes the 2nd part of your Twit Cleaner report. You are given a visual list of all of your "bad followers".

For example, under "Nothing but links" I saw that I had seven followers of the "Get A Job in Psychology" variety.

I was able to click on their Twitter icons right then and there in the report and delete them.

Now my Twitter is clean.

Thank you Twit Cleaner! Good Job.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Web Secret #162: United Breaks Guitars

Here is a cautionary tale about poor customer service, and how even individuals can use social media to powerful effect against even the largest corporations..

In 2008, David Carroll, then a relatively unknown musician, was flying to a gig via United Airlines.

The airline baggage handlers broke his $3,500 Taylor guitar

Carroll then spent nine months in fruitless negotiations with the airline for compensation. United responded with indifference.

In response, Carroll wrote a song "United Breaks Guitars" and released it in 2009. The song became an immediate YouTube and iTunes hit upon its release in July 2009. Check it out:

The YouTube video was posted on July 6. It amassed 150,000 views within one day, half a million hits by July 9, 5 million by mid-August 2009, and 10 million by February 2011.

Bob Taylor, owner of Taylor Guitars, immediately offered Carroll two guitars.

United's managing director of customer solutions, telephoned Carroll to apologize for the foul-up and asked if the carrier could use the video internally for training. The Times reported that belatedly, United donated $3,000 to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz as a "gesture of goodwill" which failed to undo the damage done to its image.

Who are the winners in this affair?

First and foremost Carroll, who is now in great demand as a speaker on customer service and whose song was number one on iTunes. Bye bye obscurity!

Taylor Guitars also won. They are mentioned numerous times in the video - free advertising that reached millions. And offering free guitars? Well that was extensively reported in the media - that's thousands of dollars of free PR.

Who are the losers?

United Airlines who failed to respond effectively. A company of that size, (quite frankly any size) should have a plan in place to deal with negative social media. Obviously, they were clueless.

The New York Times reported that within 4 days of the video being posted online, United Airline's stock price fell 10%, costing stockholders about $180 million in value.

Some analysts have questioned whether this price drop can be directly linked to the video. Nevertheless, you don't need to be a PR genius to know that the impact was negative, and severe.

So was it worth it United? A simple apology and a check for $3,500 seems like a much better way to go.

And it's not even high tech.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Web Secret #161: Social Media Will Not Help You

"Social media is just another facet of marketing and customer service. Say it with me. Repeat it until you know it by heart. Bind it as a sign upon your hands and upon thy gates. Social media, by itself, will not help you."

Bravo Peter Shankman, who made this bold statement in a brilliant, funny blog post entitled "Why I Will Never, Ever Hire A 'Social Media Expert'".

All of my social media presentations emphasize one concept over all - you must select the social media channel that matches your skill set, and your purpose. As Peter puts it - succinctly: "If you’re tweeting all your discounts, and none of your customers are on Twitter, then you sir, are an idiot."

He adds: "Marketing involves knowing your audience, and tailoring your promotions in specific bursts to the correct segments."

He also rages about the lack of good writing in social media. Friends, and audiences from my presentations - how many times have you heard me say "if you can't write, hire someone who does!"

Finally, he asks, "Do you know your audience? Have you reached out to them? I’m not talking about “tweeting at them.” I’m talking about actually reaching out. Asking them what you can do better, or asking those who haven’t been around in a while what you can do to get them back."

The thoughtless use of social media will not help you.

The thoughtful use of social media can help you knock it out of the ballpark.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Web Secret #160: The Internet Is Making Us Forget

In 1957, author Isaac Asimov wrote a prescient short story "The Feeling of Power."

"The Feeling of Power" tells of a distant future, where humans live in a computer-aided society and have forgotten the fundamentals of mathematics, including even the rudimentary skill of counting.

We are almost there.

In a recent New York Times article "The Twitter Trap," Bill Keller

"Until the 15th century, people were taught to remember vast quantities of information...the ability to recite entire books — [was] not unheard of. Then along came ... Gutenberg. As we became accustomed to relying on the printed page, the work of remembering gradually fell into disuse."

Bill proceeds to give more contemporary examples. The calculator has caused us to forget math skills. Excel has caused us to lose the ability to pick up on patterns in data. GPS has impaired our sense of direction. Typing has caused us to forget penmanship.

He worries, "...what little memory we had not already surrendered to Gutenberg we have relinquished to Google. Why remember what you can look up in seconds?"

He concludes, "Basically, we are outsourcing our brains to the inner worrywart wonders whether the new technologies overtaking us may be eroding characteristics that are essentially human: our ability to reflect, our pursuit of meaning, genuine empathy, a sense of community..."

And no, your 700 friends on Facebook are not a real community. Try calling them at 2 a.m. with an emergency and see how many respond.

Gen Y is being described as “The generation that had information, but no context. Butter, but no bread. Craving, but no longing.”

Should I be concerned?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Web Secret #159: It Gets Better

Every now and then, we need to be reminded that social media can be a force for good.

One shining example: the "It Gets Better Project."

In September 2010, after a rash of gay teen suicides, author Dan Savage created a YouTube video with his partner Terry to give hope to LGBT youth facing harassment.

This is the video that started it all:

It took only two months for the "It Gets Better Project" (TM) to turn into a worldwide movement, inspiring over 10,000 user-created videos viewed over 35 million times.

Some of the submissions came from celebrities, politicians and major companies, including President Barack Obama, Anne Hathaway, Matthew Morrison of "Glee", Tim Gunn, Ellen DeGeneres, Suze Orman, the staffs of Google, Facebook, Pixar, and many more.

Many of the most poignant and powerful entries came from ordinary people.

The site is now a place where LGBT youth can view videos that show how love and happiness can be a reality in their future. It’s a place where straight allies can visit and support their friends and family members. Everyone is invited to make and post an inspirational short video.

It Gets Better has spawned a book, a national TV ad, as well as supporting a number of charities to help prevent suicide and promote tolerance.

This is the Google Chrome national TV ad:

In its essence, "It Gets Better" is a meme. All great memes have one thing in common: a simple idea that turns into something unimaginably powerful.

The web is what you make of it.

One video. Two months. A revolution.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Web Secret #158: USB EcoStrip

Haven't reviewed a gadget in a while. It's time.

If you're smart, all of your computers are connected to power via a power strip of some kind. That's because you know that power surges can destroy your equipment.

Normally though, when you turn off your computer, it is still using power - 70 to 250 watts - nearly as much power as an energy efficient refrigerator.

Want to save yourself $100 per year per computer, and help make the planet a little greener?

Swap out your old power strips for the brand new $44.95 USB EcoStrip 2.0.

What's so special about the USB EcoStrip 2.0?

EcoStrip 2.0 acts as a normal power strip/surge protector for your computer and peripheral devices -- with one important difference: when the computer is turned off, power is shut down to peripherals eliminating the "vampire drain of electricity."

That's great, and saving power makes me feel thrifty and virtuous. But I also like the fact that the EcoStrip plugs into a USB port and doesn't require any more work than that to function.

Simple - I like.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Web Secret #157: Hyper Wired

We are in the midst of a profound cultural shift - we are becoming hyper wired.

60 percent of American families with children own two or more computers, and more than 60 percent of those have either a wired or wireless network to connect to the Internet, according to studies by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project.

A third of all Americans log on from home multiple times a day, nearly twice the number that did so in 2004.

On top of that, iPads have inundated homes, as have fast-downloading smartphones. Media companies are jumping on board to make sure their content is available at any time, on any device.

According to a recent New York Times article, today's hyper wired family still gathers in the living room after dinner. But Mom is looking up ideas for a family vacation on her iPad. Dad is streaming the N.C.A.A. men’s basketball tournament on his laptop. Their son is absorbed by Wii on a widescreen TV. Their daughter is playing a game app on an iPod Touch.

The family is in the same room, but not together.

Is this an ominous domestic version of “The Matrix” — families sharing a common space, but plugged into entirely separate planes of existence through technology?

Certainly, there are many experts who are proponents of that view.

Then again, the appearance of new home media always causes an outcry.

The emergence of television led to decades of hand-wringing over the specter of American families transformed into sitcom-addicted zombies.

Interestingly, a 2009 survey of 4,000 people by a Canadian market research company indicated that people believe technology is bringing the family together, not pulling it apart.

This might be even truer in households nowadays, when the proliferation of devices and media options makes it easier for family members to pursue their interests online while seated in the same room.

Behavior inside a cyber-cocoon can be surprisingly interactive. “There’s a lot of, ‘Hey, look at this!’ ‘Let’s plan our trip to Vegas!’ ” he said. “People get up from their laptops, come together on one screen: ‘Hey, look what I just found, isn’t this weird?’ It isn’t the image of one person huddled in isolation with their screen.”

And it might be safer. “when everyone is doing their digital thing out in the open,...the total death of privacy is a parental advantage.” What are your kids doing? Just check the far corners of your living room. They're doing homework online or poking friends on Facebook. They're iChatting with friends, while Mom and Dad catch up on work e-mail.

The reality is, once you let the genie out of the bottle, you cannot go back. The hyper wired world is expanding and here to stay.

Welcome to the new "quality time" circa 2011.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Web Secret #156: Social Media in a Disaster - part 2

I have written many posts where I am critical of social media.

But I have also showcased the wonders of the Internet. For example, I previously wrote a post showing some of the ways it can be incredibly powerful after a disaster.

Time passes, and as users become more sophisticated, so does their creativity with new media.

Following the devastating tornadoes that ravaged the South this past April, I came upon a wonderful example of this in the New York Times.

Patty Bullion, 37, of Lester, Ala., created a Facebook page directly titled Pictures and Documents found after the April 27, 2011 Tornadoes. She asked her friends to post a link to it on their own pages. People were invited to post photos of any items they found along with their e-mail address so that they could be claimed by storm survivors.

The first of the images that Ms. Bullion posted were identified and claimed a few hours later. They were from Hackleburg, Ala., a town almost 100 miles away.

Perhaps most poignantly:

"The tornado that killed Emily Washburn’s grandfather this week also destroyed his Mississippi home, leaving his family with nothing to remember him by — until a picture of him holding the dog he loved surfaced on Facebook, posted by a woman who found it in her office parking lot, 175 miles away in Tennessee.

Like hundreds of others finding keepsakes that fell from the sky ... the woman included her e-mail address, and Ms. Washburn wrote immediately: “That man is my granddaddy. It would mean a lot to me to have that picture.”

The site is reuniting dozens with their prized — and in some cases, only — possessions.

An added bonus is the page has turned into an unexpected source of support. "Along with the photographs of found items are the comments of well-wishers and homespun detectives speculating as to the identities of their owners. For those spared by the storms that killed hundreds in the South, the page is a bridge to its victims, a way to offer solace and to share in their suffering." One person posted: “Is there anything that I can do for your family or your community?”

Within 48 hours, more than 52,000 people had clicked the “like” button on the page, and more than 600 pictures had been posted.

Bravo Patty!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Web Secret #155: Being Wrong

My college aged daughter called me the other day to ask for my advice. She had been offered two summer internships.

The first consisted of doing research and writing articles for the online edition of a prestigious magazine.

The second involved doing social media for an Internet start up, currently in sketchy "beta" phase of development.

I thought the following:

Prestigious magazines are folding right and left, but if this one doesn't, it would look nice on her resume. The Internet start up could turn into the next and a permanent job, or evaporate in a puff of smoke before the summer is out.

I didn't know what to tell her.

I started thinking about how difficult it is to predict which technologies are going to be successful, and how their success or failure is going to impact our world.

I watched Kathryn Schulz's TED talk "On Being Wrong". The talk's premise is that most of us will do anything to avoid being wrong. But what if we're wrong about that? Kathryn makes a compelling case for not just admitting but embracing our fallibility.

If you surf the net, you will see that there are hundreds of people making predictions about social media, what the next iPhone will look like, and whether our web encased children will be able to function in the "real world" when the time comes. Most of their predictions will be wrong.

Since everything is changing so fast, all of us are going to be wrong more often.

And we are going to have to be OK with that.