Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Web Secret #216: HP 2610

I am drooling at the prospect of upgrading to an iPhone 5, dying for a Mac Book Pro with Retina Display, and coveting the new iPad.

But I am utterly loyal, and have no intention of upgrading my Hewlett-Packard 2610, an all in one machine that prints, faxes, scans and copies. My HP 2610 has served me without ever missing a beat since 2005. That's like 30 years in electronic time.

As the 7 years have gone by, I have watched my spouse and children go through a veritable arsenal of Canon and HP printers, only one of which is still in our possession. All of these machines have been uniformly crappy, jamming and refusing to work wirelessly on a consistent basis. (I know, I am the Geek Squad at my house.)  Accordingly, they have been thrown out.

What happened after 2005? HP and Canon started making sh--ty machines. Just lift one up, it weighs nothing, being made of the flimsiest plastic possible. My HP is hard to lift and solid. You get the point. Newer is not always better.

By the way, the same goes for Mac versus PC. Pick up my husband's Sony Vaio laptop, and you can tell it's a piece of junk. Pick up a Mac and you know your holding a solid, well built machine. Yes, it's more expensive, but guess what? It lasts a whole lot longer and doesn't break down on a regular basis. In contrast, my teenage daughter put her MacBook through torture tests. She accidentally dropped it off her bed (several times), spilled hot chocolate on the keyboard, left it in the broiling sun, and all around abused it. And it kept on ticking, as the old Timex ads used to say.

What inspired "will it blend"? 

Timex Torture Tests, of course

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Web Secret #215: October The First Is Too Late

One of my favorite works of science fiction, "October The First Is Too Late," was written by British Astronomer Fred Hoyle. The premise of the book is that a transmission of energy plays havoc with time. England is in the 60's but WWI is still raging in western Europe. Greece is in the golden age of Pericles, America some thousands of years in the future; while Russia & Asia are a glass-like plain, its surface fused together by the burnt-out sun of a far distant future. 

I recently presented a social media workshop to tech newbies. These were educated, professional people. Some of them did not know what an app is, or use a smartphone, or even understand that the World Wide Web is made up of coded pages. I live in 2012, and they live in 1990. Maybe even earlier.

At the end of Hoyle's novel, the two main protagonists realize that time is about to re-stabilize. One of them stays in the future and the other elects to go back to his past. My memory of what my life was like pre-Internet is rapidly fading. I couldn't go back even if I wanted to. 

I stay in my crowd sourced world, where a universe of information, data, and people awaits, just one click away. 

I no longer remember a time when I was sheltered and closed off. 

It's both good and bad.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Web Secret #214: Let There Be Light

Bad news sells newspapers, and every other type of media, so feel good stories about the Internet are few and far between. This week, time for some good news.

In 1945, famed director John Huston, then a major in the Signal Corps, was asked by the US Army to film a documentary about their approach to treating "shell-shock," what we call today "post traumatic stress disorder." Huston was given unprecedented access to the soldiers, treating psychiatrists, therapeutic procedures, and grounds of the massive Mason General Hospital on Long Island.

The documentary, "Let There Be Light," pioneered unscripted interview techniques to take an unprecedented look into the psychological wounds of war. Its remarkable innovations in style and subject were at least a decade ahead of their time. Upon its completion, the Army promptly censored the film, and it wasn't publicly shown until 1980, when a poor quality print was premiered at a John Huston retrospective.

Recently, the National Film Preservation Foundation lovingly restored the film, and it can now be viewed in its entirety on the NFPF website.

The film is fascinating on a dozen different levels. Clinicians will be interested by the PTSD symptoms of World War II veterans, and treatment modalities used including group therapy, occupational therapy, and the use of Sodium Pentothal to treat "psychoneurosis."

History buffs will notice that everyone is constantly smoking, and note that the hospital patient population is integrated, while remembering that the armed forces remained racially segregated until 1948.

Anyone who has worked in an inpatient psychiatric facility will be amazed by the fact that no one is precipitously discharged from the hospital because their insurance has run out - the typical course of treatment was 8 weeks long.

As for me, I was mesmerized. My exposure to the 1940s comes from viewing photos, reading books, and seeing old movies. To see real patients and psychiatrists, view actual treatment was simply amazing.

I realized that ultimately, I could never understand them, anymore than they could ever understand me.

I was separated from these young soldiers, these psychiatrists, by over 60 years of history, social change, and scientific progress.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Web Secret #213: 6 Tips for Internet Privacy

"You know that dream where you suddenly realize you’re stark naked?

You’re living it whenever you open your browser." Or so reporter Kate Murphy opines in a New York Times article.

She continues:
"There are no secrets online. That emotional e-mail you sent to your ex, the illness you searched for in a fit of hypochondria, those hours spent watching kitten videos  — can all be gathered to create a defining profile of you...while it’s probably impossible to cloak your online activities fully, you can take steps to do the technological equivalent of throwing on a pair of boxers and a T-shirt."
Here are 6 suggestions:

1. Log off Google and Facebook as soon as practicably possible and try not using the same provider for multiple functions. “If you search on Google, maybe you don’t want to use Gmail for your e-mail.”

2. If you do not want the content of your e-mail messages examined or analyzed at all, consider a free encrypted e-mail service like HushMail. If you are communicating with clients and want to ensure confidentiality, both you and the client need to sign up for HushMail.

3. Register your own domain with Hover, which cost $55 to $85 a year. You get not only the company’s assurance of privacy but also an address unlike anyone else’s, like

4. Use the search engine DuckDuckGo, which does not track or bubble you. Bubbling is the filtering of search results based on your search history.

5. Regardless of which search engine you use, turn on your browser’s “private mode,” usually found under Preferences, Tools or Settings. When this mode is activated, tracking cookies are deleted once you close your browser, which wipes your history clean.

6. Shield your I.P. address by connecting to a virtual private network, or V.P.N., such as YourPrivateVPN. These services, whose prices price from $40 to $90 a year, route your data stream to what is called a proxy server, where it is stripped of your I.P. address before it is sent on to its destination.

How many of these suggestions should you adopt?

It depends on your level paranoia, or whether you have clients or decide to engage in e-counseling of any kind.

If all of this is technical mumbo-jumbo to you, consider taking  a Therapeutic Use of Technology course from the Online Therapy Institute