Using Wireless More But Enjoying It Less?

 

050I was awakened on a Sunday morning to a text message from my cable provider, apologizing for an outage and assuring me it would be remedied as soon as possible.  All was restored about 5 hours later, but alas my wireless router did not survive.

There was about an hour of panic over my lack of Internet access, until I remembered I could connect my laptop directly to the cable modem and forego the wireless router (duh).   At least now I could research routers online and have an idea of what I should buy before shopping that day.  Ordering online and waiting a day or two for delivery was not an option for this wireless household. So I researched and headed out, leaving the evening open for the hours of setup.

Setup of the last wireless router, I am guessing about 8 years ago, was not fun.  So, after arriving home with my new purchase I was planning on a long evening of possible frustration over the promoted  “easy setup”. But it really was easy.  It was just a matter of plugging the router into a power source and connecting it to my cable modem. The wireless devices in the household easily found the new network connection. Tada!  But that was not the only surprise…my wireless life has changed.

Now that I have my new router, I realize that I really needed a new one.  When I watch television on my iPad in the kitchen, it no longer pauses, and the best part is that I don’t lose the program when using the microwave.  I can also move my iPad to a corner counter in my kitchen (where I usually assemble a salad ) without any program disruptions. No pausing anymore when playing YouTube on the iPad either. I had wrongly assumed that any issues I had with streaming resided with my provider.  I never questioned the capability of my wireless router, since my Internet was always fast and trouble free. (The microwave interference and disruptions when re-positioning my iPad should have been a clue that my wireless router was the culprit.)

I was shocked when I  counted 10 devices in my home capable of using our new router:  3 laptops, 2 smart phones, 1 iPod, 1 Kindle, 2 iPads, and a smart TV.  Of course they are not all used at the same time, and we are not big gamers.  Yet my new wireless router has greatly improved the quality of my wireless life.  Streaming TV on my  iPad  is much better, and with dual band I now have the luxury of choosing from 2 bands (either 2.4 or 5 GHz) when connecting a device to my home network which avoids devices competing with one another.

This article will help you understand all the latest wireless router options, and help you decide what router options are a best fit to your needs.  Perhaps you can also benefit from an upgrade as I did.

 

 

 

5 Facebook Privacy Settings You May Have Missed

Missed Facebook Privacy Settings

When I coach people on how to use Facebook I emphasize that although Facebook encourages you to share, you are ultimately in control of how you share your data. Yes there is data Facebook considers public – your name, profile picture, gender, cover photo, networks, and username.

All else on Facebook you control, that is if you can find how to set your privacy options!  Facebook recently added a Privacy Shortcuts link to its top blue menu bar (desktop)  to help you access your Privacy Settings.  You can click on See More Settings from Privacy Shortcuts to see additional Privacy and Account settings.

However some Facebook Privacy Settings are not as obvious or easy to find.  Here are 5 that you may have missed and how to navigate them from your desktop (mobile experience will vary):

1.  Set privacy for your Friends List –  do you want others to be able to view your Friends List?  Click on Friends from your Timeline, then look for the pencil at the top right of the list.  When you click on this pencil you can edit your privacy settings for your Friends List as well as those you Follow. (Note you automatically Follow your Friends.  You can also Follow others without becoming their Friend if they have enabled this feature.)

2.  Opt out of appearing in Facebook Ads-  Do you want your name and/or profile picture to appear in a Facebook or Third party ad? There are two settings to take a look at, which give permission to pair your social actions (a Like of a business for example) with an ad.  One is a Facebook ad, the other is an ad on another website (however this is not a current feature). Click on Privacy Shortcuts, See More Settings, then Ads.  Choose Edit in two places – for Third Party Sites, also Ads and Friends, so you can select the No One option to opt out.  Don’t forget to Save Changes.

3.  Opt out of receiving Facebook Ads based upon  your web browsing activity outside of Facebook.  Do you want to see ads on Facebook based upon your online browsing/shopping?  Perhaps handy, perhaps creepy.  Click on Privacy Shortcuts, See More Settings, then Ads.  There is an Opt Out option within Website and Mobile App Custom Audiences.  If you do choose to Opt Out, note that if you at a later time clear your browser cookies, you will have to opt out again.

4.  Restricted List – add a “friend “ to your Restricted list.  If you do, they will only see items you post publicly.  Handy if you confirm a friend request for someone you are uncomfortable sharing with.  They will not know you have restricted them. Click on Privacy Shortcuts, See More Settings, then Blocking, then Edit next to Restricted List.  Alternatively click on Friends on the Cover Photo of the Timeline of your friend, Add to Another List (if Restricted is not shown), and click on Restricted.

5.  Share Options for Your Personal Data: Do you know whom you are sharing your personal data with?  Click on Update Info from the bottom of your Cover Photo.  Each item of information has an icon which depicts your share option.  If you don’t see one, click on the Edit pop up when you hover over the item.  Click on the icon to see/set your sharing preference.  Again, don’t forget to Save Changes.  You may be surprised at what info you are sharing publicly.

Hope this post helps you take fuller control of your Facebook sharing.  Periodically check the Settings pages, as Facebook does at times change wording and setting options.  Happy sharing (or not)!

 

So Much Social Media, So Little Time

Social Media Logo

If you were asked to name a social media website, Facebook, Twitter, and perhaps LinkedIn immediately come to mind.  Ah, but there are so many other social media sites!  So what if you don’t have the time to use them all?   

With so much social media availability on desktop and mobile it can be confusing, so here is a small glossary of some of the more popular social media websites (ordered by launch date) which also have their mobile app counterparts.  A few here are only mobile.  If you’d like to see a demo of a website or mobile app, check out YouTube, where you can likely find a tutorial.  Note that website and mobile app navigation will be a bit different for a particular company (for instance Facebook), but you can access your data using either.

Also note that these social media platforms share common functions, yet each has it’s niche and plethora of loyal users. Social beings that we are, we seem to love and can’t stop sharing, following, subscribing, commenting, liking, and hashtagging.  

LinkedIn –  launched in 2003, yes it really has been around for over 10 years.  It is used for professional networking.  Your profile contains your work history. You can give and receive recommendations, as well as job hunt and join professional groups.

Facebook – launched in 2004, it is now the world’s most popular social media site, used for sharing posts, pictures, videos, and interests. Both individuals and businesses have Timelines.  Note that you don’t need an account to visit a business page on Facebook which is why you often see facebook.com/username in advertising.

Flickr – launched in 2004, and is now owned by Yahoo.  Flickr (yes the e is absent) is great to use to store, organize, and share your photos and videos. You can share your content with friends, family, make it public or keep it private.  You can tag to categorize and easily retrieve your items.   A free account gives you a whopping 1 terabyte of storage.  Flickr users are quite passionate about their love of this application.

YouTube – launched in 2005 and now owned by Google is where we watch a lot of cute pet videos, but you can also use YouTube to research and find solutions on almost any topic, as well as view movies, tv, music, and even view college courses.

Twitter – launched in 2006, Twitter is the world’s second most popular social media site.  Tweets (posts) are limited to 140 characters.  Twitter now also supports photos and short videos.  You don’t need an account to view content using a web browser. Go to twitter.com/twitter and then use search to view celebrity, company, or anyone’s tweets.

Tumblr – launched in 2007, and yes another site name where the “e’ is not there.  Tumblr is considered a micro-blogging site, currently owned by Yahoo, where users follow one another.  Users primarily post pics or other content and short posts.  If you have something to say or something to show and you want quick and easy, you may want to express yourself on Tumblr.

Foursquare – launched in 2009, Foursquare is location based.  You check in to a location, (restaurant or store for example).  You can find friends who have also checked in.  Venues may offer discounts or specials for checking in.  The website provides suggestions of places to visit and discounts offered.

Pinterest -   launched in 2010, Pinterest allows you to pin (save) web pages on bulletin boards.  It’s great for projects like bathroom makeovers (save web pages with pics of bathroom vanities for instance), or wedding planning (save pages of flowers, dresses, shoes, etc).  You can follow other pinners and be followed.

Instagram – launched in 2010, Instagram is used to share photos and short videos taken with your mobile phone.  Users follow one another.  You can use a filter to change the image. Images are square, similar to the old Kodak Instamatic pics us baby boomers used to have.  Instagram was acquired by Facebook. Content can be shared on other sites.

Google + - launched in 2011, similar to Facebook, Google + allows you to share content with others.  You create circles of people who you share content with. Hangouts is a video chat feature for up to 10 people.

Snapchat – was launched in 2011  for mobile devices.  Snapchat enables you to send a picture or 10 second video which automatically deletes.  New functionality allows you to string photos and videos together to create a story. Stories don’t disappear, but each piece of the story is only available for 24 hours.

Vine – a mobile app, was recently launched in 2013, and is now owned by Twitter.  You can create short 6.5 second videos which can be posted on both Twitter and Facebook.

There are always new social media apps popping up, new ways to use them, and companies buying them out.  If you’ve read this post quickly it may just be up to date!

Untangle Your Charging – More Juice For Your Smartphone

tangled
The more time we spend on our smart phones, the more battery life we need. Do you find yourself  worrying about that dwindling battery percentage or need to charge your phone more than once a day? Or perhaps you didn’t charge your phone overnight and you are running out of the house with a low battery.  We’ve become so dependent upon being connected,  it’s not a bad idea to have a contingency plan for those unexpected times when we need more juice.

There are ways you can extend smart phone phone battery life, and when you’ve exhausted those options,  you can use an on the go charger so you never have to be without power.

First, what can you do to extend your mobile phone’s battery life?

  1. Lower the brightness – the brighter your phone display the more battery you’re consuming.
  2. Close your running apps – apps running in the background will drain your battery.  You can use a search engine or YouTube to find out how to close running apps on your phone.
  3. Update your apps when available, since newer versions should be more energy efficient.
  4. Shut off your phone when possible, to conserve battery life, or at least turn off Bluetooth and WiFi when they are not in use.
  5. If you are not sure why your battery life is short, there are apps you can use which will monitor your battery usage and provide suggestions to improve battery life.  I use Carat which works on both IOS and Android, but I know there are others out there.

Still need more juice?  Here are 2 options for charging on the go (which also make great gifts).  It is always a good idea to read read reviews before you buy!

  1. Power cases hold an extra charge so when your battery is low you can flip a switch on the case and charge your battery without looking for a charger.   The case and the phone charge together when you recharge the phone by plugging into a wall charger.  It could not be easier.
  2. When you’ve exhausted your power case or haven’t charged up, a portable charger will save you.  When shopping, do your homework.  Find out your battery’s capacity and make sure you purchase a charger which will handle it.   

May the charge be with you!  

Hashtag Mania

hashtag mania

I have to admit I am a bit perplexed by the overuse of hashtags.  If you are perplexed by what a hashtag is, it is the use of the symbol “#’ prior to a  word or phrase (no spaces between words) to label it on a social media site. You can then search for that hashtag or click on the hashtag in a post to see other posts using that hashtag.  Most social media sites now support hashtags – first popular on Twitter but now Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Youtube, Google+, and others support the use of hashtags.  So that sounds pretty handy.  For instance on Facebook , you can post a picture of your adorable cat and comment on it by adding “look at my cute #cat”.    Then if someone searches for #cat or clicks on #cat in anyone’s post, your post will be included in the search results (if your post is public, otherwise  Facebook shares according to your share settings). I’ll admit there are some pretty cute kitty photos out there.  But if hundreds or thousands of people are also posting with #cat it makes me wonder who will actually see your post?

People are #ing their hearts out.  For what reason?   Perhaps to be heard and be counted and be a part of the collective conversation of social media, or to help make and be a part of a trending hashtag?  A trending hashtag would be one that is the most popular at the moment, what people are “talking” about.  You will often hear the phrase on news shows,  “what’s trending now”.

Business has capitalized upon this concept to create “buzz” about their products.  There are even companies that track hashtags which you can pay to see how well your hashtag is doing .  You can create a hashtag simply by inventing a clever name and using it.

On a smaller scale I understand hashtags can be helpful for events.  A hashtag can create a space where people can connect on the same topic.  There can also be fun and creativity associated with hashtags.  For example Instagram has a Weekend Hashtag Project where you can submit photos  on a weekly topic with a specific hashtag, with the hopes of your photo being chosen to be featured on Instagram’s blog.  You’ll find extremely clever photos there.  Many companies offer contests where using a specific hashtag becomes your contest entry.

And of course for a major event or crisis a hashtag can be a good way to get immediate feedback from people as long as their posts are intelligible and not every word is a hashtag.

In case you were wondering  yes, you’ll find  #hashtagmania posts on Twitter as well as Facebook – people will make up any word they can think of and tag it!   So much for trying to be original (my original title for this post was Hashtag Smashtag and sure enough #smashtag is out there too).

So, happy hashtagging to all those  hashtaggers out there.  As for me, #notalifechanger but #goodtoknow.

 

Big Data is a Big Deal

big data

Have you heard the term big data yet?  Big data involves the collection of data and the relationships that can be drawn from it.   It’s not a new concept, but discussion of big data and its usage has recently become more mainstream.

Data, data, and even more data is being collected on a gigantic enormous  scale.  Technology created it and is collecting it.  Business decisions and policies which affect our lives are being driven by it.  Retail transactions, social media use, search queries, electronic health records,  and our smart phones are just some of the sources feeding data collection (did you know that your  phone’s wifi signal is tracked by some retailers as you shop?).  Analysis of all this big data is a big business which has fortunately created a demand for IT specialists.

As an example, the CDC uses data collection from flu reporting and  flu samples to determine which flu strains are included in annual flu vaccines. With the aid of Google Flu Trends (data collected by Google searches on flu symptoms) current flu activity around the world can be estimated, even earlier than conventional CDC methods.

Another interesting example is predictive policing (forecasting where crime is likely to occur).  Fueled by big data analytics,  predictive policing is aiding in crime prevention.  A further illustration of big data, one which troubles me a bit is targeted marketing.  After searching for dresses online for an upcoming wedding, my Facebook account was suddenly inundated with dress ads.  Although I admit checking out a few of these ads it was a bit creepy seeing those ads pop up on Facebook after my online shopping spree.

Big data was recently added to The Oxford English Dictionary, defined as “data of a very large size, typically to the extent that its manipulation and management present significant logistical challenges.”  So by definition big data is “messy”.   Google Flu Trends  overestimated US flu outbreaks in 2012, whereas its prediction was fairly accurate in past years.   The decisions made from the analysis of big data are only as good as the analytics behind them, subject of course to human error and changing data.

Don’t be surprised as you start to hear more and more about big data.  Instead of Big Brother we have Big Data collecting us, storing us, sorting us, trending us, suggesting to us, but also hopefully curing us, making us safer, and enriching the quality of our lives without too much risk to whatever privacy we may still retain!

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