All posts filed under: Tech

6 Apps to Remember Stuff and Get Comfy in the Cloud

In this age of constant alerts, badges, and notifications, it’s increasingly difficult to filter signal from noise. How do you remember what’s really important when the flow of information never ceases? In our busy modern lives, it’s way too easy to let essential material slip through the cracks. The good news is that there are a plethora of tools available to help manage the onslaught. With a little planning, technology can become an extension of your mind, improving your memory and helping you maintain focus. As a digital fanatic, I’ve created a system that allows my entire brain to live in the cloud. A brief introduction: I’ve worked in digital since the late ‘90s, back when people told me that the internet was a passing fad. Today, I run a social media agency – and to say that our work moves fast is putting it mildly. The good news is that by putting our memories into the ether, we become smarter humans, with an enhanced ability to understand and process information that our minds alone …

6 Easy Ways to Tidy Up Your Desktop

Got a jumble of icons cluttering your Mac’s desktop? Are the icons themselves too big—or too small? Wish they would just arrange themselves? Read on for six ways to whip your messy Mac desktop into shape, starting with… 1. Arrange Your icons Automatically Want to see your desktop icons arranged in nice, straight columns, and in some kind of logical order? First, here’s the secret weapon you’ll need to use: the View Options tool in the Mac OS X “Finder.” Here’s your secret weapon for cleaning up your desktop: the “View Options” menu. Just right-click your desktop, then select Show View Options. (If you’re fond of keyboard shortcuts, you can also hit Command-J after clicking the desktop.) Next, click the drop-down menu that’s labeled “Sort by” and pick an option, from Name and Size to Date Created and Date Last Opened. Note that no matter which automatic sorting option you choose, your Mac will group your icons by type—meaning internal hard drives come first, then shared and external drives, and finally your folders and files. …

Kenahora, Dude: Why I Knock On Wood Before Bragging Online

We are all complicit in shouting our truths on social media at full volume and thinking that it’s fine. I’ve played along for years – turning my mommy freelance boredom and procrastination problems toward my need to connect with others and to zone out by going deep down the Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram rabbit holes. I put effort towards my online self for sure, sharing my writing projects and weirdo observations and, of course, pictures of my family and I doing picturesque things. But lately, I’m at an oversaturation point. I’ve been having this confusing existential feeling that if I don’t post a picture or say something cute about what I’m doing, then it’s almost like it didn’t happen. New channels create new customs, but really, WTF? Ten years ago, did you show your vacation pictures to this many people? When did 673 people have to know that you went apple picking in the fall, sledding in the winter, to Disney in the spring and to the beach in the summer? Can you imagine being …

10 Things I’ll Never Post on Facebook

I post frequently on social media, particularly Facebook. I wouldn’t classify myself as an oversharer, but I will post up to five times a day if I think something is worth sharing. Is it funny? Is it interesting? Is it somehow otherwise significant? Like many proud parents, I posted WAY too many photos of my kids at first. But I quickly realized that those posts were only interesting to about one percent of my friends. And I never get too personal about what I really think and feel — it’s really a false intimacy Facebook seems to foster. As a result of plenty of trial and error, I now have very clear guidelines for what I will or will not post. Here’s a short list: 1. Coded Jabs: I will not post anything about personal relationships, either overtly or in code. That violates a trust. “Don’t you just hate it when people [insert friend or family name here — and you know who you are] don’t send thank-you notes? SMH.” 2. Sick Bait: I will not …

Mom, Interrupted: Let Me Finish My Sentence

“Mom, can the new kid in my class come over sometime and…” Click. “The new kid in MY class from Japan brought in this candy today that tasted like…” Click. “Somebody said there was a bug in the noodles today, and my whole class was, like, screaming…” “Tristan’s mom is having a baby…” “Sweetheart, can you please get my watch fixed before… “ Click. Click. Click. Somehow my entire existence has become a live-action website. Each day hurtles at me at warp speed. But it’s not like it was when I was growing up, when life seemed to unfold in a forward motion not unlike the 1970s TV shows I watched after school. Instead, life in my family today seems as if it’s its own social network of bang-bang status updates – an unyielding series of nested hyperlinks, one after another, mouse click after mouse click after mouse click. They carry me, like a cognitive tidal wave, away from whatever it is that I’m trying to say and think. [pullquote]Perhaps we’re afraid our overscheduled 40-something …

Teaching My Son to Be Nice to the Robots

“Siri. Siri, you’re stupid.” My son — the most polite, sweetest, kindest little boy I know — is at it again. “Siri, I think you’re ugly.” I cringe. I yell from my office, “CALVIN! Stop being mean to Siri!” “But Mom, she’s not human!” he yells back from his nest of pillows on the couch. Yeah, I think to myself. That’s exactly what people said about their slaves 150 years ago, isn’t it? It’s what the Nazi’s said about their victims in the ‘40s and what ISIS says about Yazidi women today. Is that where the bar lies in this household? Is this our acceptable level of conduct? Calvin, like many children of his generation, learned the word “acceptable” even before he learned to walk. He used to toddle around and scold his stuffed animals with that big, grown-up word. “No ass-ET-ball,” he’d chastise, wagging his chubby finger at Elephant, who is, unsurprisingly, a stuffed elephant. “NO ASS-ET-BALL!” [pullquote]“But if you can’t learn to be nice to the robots, then you can just…just…FORGET about having a robot. …

I Can’t Unplug (And I Don’t Want To)

I may not be all that social these days, but I used to be. When my first son was born in 1995, I logged on to AOL nearly every day to talk to other moms in the “Online Mom” group. (Yes, I still have the t-shirt.) My real-life friends and family thought it was really odd that I sat on the computer and “talked” to strangers for hours. But I knew then what millions of moms know now: Misery loves company. Moms everywhere have realized that a great way to combat the loneliness and isolation of new motherhood is to go online to share experiences, get tips, ask questions and generally figure it all out. (As if anyone can figure it all out.) Flash forward to 2005. I had a busy life filled with work, friends and family, but I still found time to blog nearly every day. I read and commented on my friends’ blog posts and discovered new sites from their blog rolls. There was so much to learn and so many relationships …

Hiding In Plain Sight: Why Obscurity Matters More Than Privacy

Is it possible for anything to be private in the Social Age? The Information Age brought us 24-hour news sources, online forums, the Information Superhighway, Web 2.0 and more social media sites than we could even begin to remember. We were told we could now access more info than we would ever want or need. It was out there in pixels and bytes, ours for the searching. The start of this age is sort of a moving target, but was sparked by the Digital Revolution of the late 1950s to late 1970s. Now we’ve entered into the Social Age — and since I’m sort of making that up, I’m going to peg the start to 1997-2001, with the rise of Six Degrees and Friendster. Information is still out there, but there’s gobs of it. There’s so much of it that sometimes it’s hard to tell if what we’re reading is even true. We depend heavily on our social networks — both online and off — to help us make sense of all of that information. …

11 Problem-Solving Tech Gifts & Apps

To me, a tech gift is a romantic gift. What is more loving than solving major problems in my life so that I may live more seamlessly? Dreamy. Here I offer problem-solvers for every kind of person you know. They will adore you — and hopefully not be too annoyed that you’re trying to fix their issues.   1. For the Stressed: The Muse Place this stress-reducing contraption around your head and it actually senses the electrical activity of your brain. Pair it with an app called Calm and it walks you through a series of guided, chill-out exercises. You have to fiddle with it to make sure it’s adjusted correctly, but once it is, it’s a pretty effective way to reinforce those five minutes of meditation. $299, gaiam.com   2. For the Person Who Could Be a Little Neater: The Stash Catchall We love the bright colors and sleek design of this simple, smart cord, coin and “stuff” container. Enable your inner Joan Crawford: No more wires! $30, modco.com   3. For the Person Whose Headphones Aren’t …

The Number One Thing That’s Keeping You Up at Night

Does it surprise you that 64% of people complain of not getting enough sleep? What if we told you that using backlit electronic devices (like your phone or TV) dramatically reduces the quality of sleep you do get, and that 95% of people still use electronics the hour before they go to bed? When long-term sleep deprivation is linked to increases in obesity, diabetes, and a host of other health problems, breaking away from your devices to get more zzzz’s is more important than ever. Read the infographic below to find out why our constant use of electronics is preventing us from getting the high-quality sleep we need, and a few things you can do today to break the habit. This post originally appeared on TheMuse.com.  Infographic courtesy of Big Brand Beds. Photo of girl with phone courtesy of Shutterstock. Check out these other articles from TheMuse.com: Sweeter Dreams: 7 Surprising Tips for Better Sleep The 30-Second Stretch That Resets Your Desk Hunch Where Should You Live for Your Best Life Possible?

The Etiquette of Social Media Sharing (i.e. How Not to Be a Content-Stealing Jerk)

These days, we live to share. With the click of a button we’re instantly sharing posts, tweets, photos, videos and screenshots. But often when we share, we’re not following good social media etiquette. For example, some platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) enable us to easily credit the originator of the content we’re sharing; others not so much. As a result — and often unintentionally — proper attribution of the shared content becomes entirely lost or worse, incorrectly ascribed. I’ve seen some cases where people intentionally pass other people’s work off as their own, and other cases where a sharer doesn’t mean to steal, but just doesn’t know how to properly credit the content. So instead, he or she does nothing. There are a few simple things you can do when sharing other people’s content that not only will show you’re practicing good #SMEtiquette, but will endear you to the people whose content you’re sharing. All it takes is a little extra time and attention. And if you give credit where credit’s due, you might just find …

How an Unimaginably Nasty Online Comment Haunted Me for 13 Years

I am very, very easy to Google. On one hand, this is great for the ego; because of my unusual name, I’m the only me on Earth! But there’s a downside, too, which is quite plainly that I’m very, very easy to Google. I often envy the anonymity of the commonplace name. When Apple executive Tim Cook was elevated to CEO, my college pal with the same name receded into the vanishing point of the internet. Lucky bastard. For people like me, a semi-annual check of the results of a Google search of my name is a prudent, if not necessary, task. Some database glitch could attach “Cheryl Botchick” to a story worthy of @_FloridaMan, and there it would be for all my colleagues, clients and potential employers to see. Best to head these things off at the pass. Having spent the ‘90s as a writer for a popular music magazine, there’s generally quite a bit to go through: reposts of features, one-on-one interviews, album reviews, music industry mentions and the like. It’s a housekeeping …

Gadgets and Thingamabobs To Make Life Easier

No, I don’t have a pair of Google Glasses, but I’m a bit of a tech-and-gadget-obsessed gal; mainly for the ways it can make life easier. The gadgets and digital doodads listed here aren’t necessarily new, but they make great gifts and have truly enhanced my life (or family and friends’  lives)  in 2013.   1. Karma Karma — a pay-as-you-go mobile WiFi provider —  has saved my internet-obsessed butt many times when there was no wireless around. (I’m looking at you, high-tech corporation with no wireless for guests.) I recommended it to a friend who has a small apartment in NYC and uses it as her primary service to access the internet — she loves it too. The cool thing is, other people can log in to your Karma signal and when they do, you earn free data — a.k.a. Karma. $99 for 5GB data $50, Karma.com      2. Everpurse I’m certainly not the first one to recommend this product; that’s because it’s simply so problem-solving cool. Designed as a clutch, these purses …

When 750 Words Are Enough: A Q&A with Buster Benson (Part 2)

Here’s part II of my interview with Buster Benson. It is more than 750 words, thank you very much. (Here was Part 1)   How did you get started in the habit mapping concept? Does this track back to something you did as a kid? I would write in my journal every single day as a kid. It wasn’t until I graduated from college and learned how to build websites that I got more interested in [habit tracking] though. The first web-related habit I did was back in 2002 or 2003 called Moblogging — these days that’s just called taking photos with your phone. I’d take these 640×480 tiny little pictures but there was no site to really capture the photo so I built a service that would capture tag and add it to my blog. From there I started tracking my mood.  Along with the photo, I would add a +1 or -1 and that got pulled into my “morale-o-meter” which was supposed to check whether I was interacting with things that were uplifting my mood …