Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Web Secret #260: Spring Cleaning for your Computer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cleanliness is next to godliness.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Web Secret #258: Account Killer

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

Many are very concerned.

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Web Secret #257: Captology

Ever heard of BJ Fogg?

Yeah, I know. Neither had I.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell them I sent you.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

I'll jump in and tell you why:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make sense?