The Digital World

Being a 21st century couch potato

Many of you may recall when, years ago, having Wi-Fi in your home was either a DIY project or an add-on service you paid for each month.

These days, however, the Internet Service Providers (or ISPs) like Spectrum, WOW or AT&T servicing Westlake and Bay Village may already have Wi-Fi capability built into their equipment and even turned on whether you use it or not. As long as it is protected to make it a “private” Wi-Fi, as opposed to an “open” or “public” Wi-Fi, you are ready to become a 21st century couch potato.

As it becomes increasingly common for each family member to own multiple digital world devices such as a computer, smartphone and tablet, and the only televisions you can buy these days are labeled as being “smart” anyways, having Wi-Fi capability provided through ISP equipment has become an expectation rather than an exception.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 21, Posted 9:23 AM, 11.05.2019

Only 13 weeks left from today

That’s 91 days, 2184 hours, 131,040 minutes, or 7,862,400 seconds. The writing on the wall is unmistakable: for most of us, we have to move off of Windows 7 before Jan. 14, 2020!

Sure, there is an annual paid option to extend, up to three years, the ability to continue to receive monthly security updates. Narrow criteria exists to use this option, officially christened as the Extended Security Update program (“ESU” for short), which requires your Windows 7 computer to be part of a volume licensing contract with Microsoft; it also has to be a certain “trim level” of Windows 7 operating system to even qualify. Hence, most residential users and many small businesses too are out of luck.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 20, Posted 9:19 AM, 10.15.2019

'Tis the season for unveiling new top shelf smartphones

Just like we expect the “white things” to start making their appearance by late November/early December each year in Cleveland, we have come to expect the smartphone giants, Apple and Google, to unveil their new smartphones this time of the year. As I type this article, Apple has announced their 2019 iPhone model (iPhone 11) while Google is slated to unveil their 2019 Pixel model (Pixel 4) in mid-October.

As always, the popular media outlets have penned a smorgasbord of information on the titans’ 2019 smartphone refreshes; if you're interested in learning more, they are only a “googling” away! You can also visit Westlake Porter Public Library or Cuyahoga County Public Library’s Bay Village branch for periodicals. The same magazines you find there, like research favorite Consumer Reports, are available in the digital world as “eMagazines” to read on your tablet, smartphone, or computer from the comfort of your home. Not limited to eMagazines, their digital services include available eBooks, movies, TV shows, music, and many other benefits that you can access over the internet.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 18, Posted 9:08 AM, 09.17.2019

A case for resurrecting Clippy

Do you remember “Clippy?” His official name was “Clippit” and his official capacity as an office assistant meant Clippy used his charm to give users helpful advice for the office productivity software suite from Microsoft that they were using to create documents and crunch numbers.

Clippy, and other office assistant characters available for selection, garnered a lot of criticism from computer users. Many deemed Clippy to be “intrusive and annoying” (per Wikipedia) because it interrupted the user's workflow at inopportune times and with rather elementary advice to the task at hand. To its creators’ credit, the ability to silence office assistants like Clippy from interrupting one's workflow was offered but that did not appease users enough. Clippy and his gang of user-selectable office assistants bid farewell in 2001.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 17, Posted 9:48 AM, 09.04.2019

Smartphone buying tips

A portable form factor, combined with the ease of operation using only one finger – which I coined as “Power of One” devices – smartphones have become ubiquitous devices that are always connected to the internet, aka the cloud, and always with you.

While we use a smartphone in the real world, it is a vehicle into the digital world that supports the duality-in-lifestyle of living in both real and digital worlds simultaneously. There are no beginnings nor endings to these worlds; they coexist and are interwoven, blurring the boundaries as technology continues to permeate into every nook-and-cranny of our lives.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 16, Posted 9:17 AM, 08.20.2019

Consider 'appropriateness' when back-to-school shopping

While communicating with my editor over the summer, it dawned on me that I haven’t written about back-to-school for a couple years … about time for a refresher!

Whether you are buying a device for your child's educational needs or yourself, "appropriateness” is still very important.

Many schools continue to become “Google schools,” an unofficial term for the official “Google for Education” program. It includes Google’s free applications (jargon: “G Suite for Education”). Further, your kid's school/district may have instituted the “One-to-One” educational concept, often abbreviated as “1:1,” where the idea is for each pupil to have access to a digital-world device so teachers can use the trove of information available on the internet, aka the cloud, to augment their curricula.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 15, Posted 10:09 AM, 08.06.2019

Don't get phished

You’ve probably heard about “phishing” – how the nefarious use digital world communications tools such as emails and text messages to try to con you into giving up Personally Identifiable Information (PII) or your login credentials to banking or online shopping websites.

If the impersonating nefarious actor is not outright asking you for your PII or website credentials, the message will probably contain a clickable link that leads you to a legitimate-looking but “fake” website that opens up in your browser. Due to increased sophistication, it has often become indiscernible from the real website, thereby increasing the risk of falling prey to the con.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 13, Posted 9:50 AM, 07.02.2019

A 2019 review of internet street smarts

Part one in a series on staying safe in the digital world.

A new piece of legislation, a “do not call” list, an app … these and more are often promoted as silver bullets to protect our privacy. But acknowledging the sheer frequency of debilitating data breach news pushed to my smartphone, I think the efficacy of these solutions are yet to be proven.

We, the real-world denizens, put up many a wall next to the digital world – aka internet or the cloud – to prevent the nefarious from coming through. At the same time, we utilize our 21st-century life skills of “digital literacy” to perform many everyday activities in the digital world.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 12, Posted 9:40 AM, 06.18.2019

Weighing the appropriateness factor for your Windows 7 successor

This is the third and final installment (for now) discussing options for computers running the Windows 7 operating system destined for the pastures on Jan. 14, 2020. This series can also be a guide to choosing your first "digital world," aka internet or the cloud, connected device.

There are numerous idioms, or expressions, in our language that are analogous to my philosophy of “appropriateness” when embracing technology. For example, if your needs are simple then you don’t want a complex technology that is capable of doing “everything but the kitchen sink.”

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 11, Posted 10:22 AM, 06.04.2019

How to replace your 7 depends on your usage

In my March 5 article that highlighted Windows 7’s impending demise, I mentioned Microsoft’s forthcoming annual subscription option that will provide Windows 7 “Pro” edition users the monthly security updates (up to three additional years) beyond the expiration date. However, there is no such offering for Windows 7 “Home” edition users. To check which edition you have, go to “Start” -> “Control Panel” -> “System.”

A couple of weeks after that article went to press, Microsoft announced the pricing for its Extended Security Updates subscription. Whether burning $350 over three years ($50, $100 and $200 respectively) is a good option or a money pit will depend on your price sensitivity and other personal parameters.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 8, Posted 9:43 AM, 04.16.2019

Making it 'smart'

A shot-in-the-arm can turn a regular TV that cannot connect to the internet, what I call a DumbTV, into a SmartTV that can connect to the cloud – aka internet. An available HDMI connection port on the DumbTV, wireless internet, and a streaming device completes the transformation. It's a far cry from buying a new SmartTV as streaming devices can be had for under $100 or even under $50!

Comparatively, the hit on your wallet may be more marginal when you decide to replace your LED light bulb at the front door with a “Smart” LED light bulb so you can turn it on with your phone rather than fumble through your keychain in the dark.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 6, Posted 10:05 AM, 03.19.2019

Sun is setting on Windows 7

I don’t know if something first built in 1987 is old enough to qualify as a “classic” but I would love to own a Ferrari F40, a modern classic in my eyes, as my daily driver; scout’s honor that it won’t become a “garage queen” under my watch – vroom, vroom!

The digital world has its own classics. For example Microsoft’s Windows computer operating system has had classics, and duds, over the decades.

Remember Windows XP? That was a classic, both in terms of how long it lasted in the market and how versatile it was as an operating system. Of the many versions that followed Windows XP, one worthy of one day being called a classic is Windows 7.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 5, Posted 9:50 AM, 03.05.2019

Is this app for me?

How’s your pet lizard doing? You do own a pet chameleon if you have a smartphone or a tablet.

A chameleon, my favorite analogy for a smartphone, can change its body colors for “camouflage, but most commonly in social signaling and in reactions to temperature and other conditions” per Wikipedia. If environmental conditions trigger a chameleon's multiple palette skin tones to adapt to their surroundings, apps enable a smartphone to be more than a phone.

But there are too many apps in the mutually exclusive “App Store” for Apple devices and Google’s “Play Store” for Android-based devices. I quickly searched for a magnifying glass app and at least 200 different magnifying glass apps were in the Play Store; probably similar observations can be made in the App Store. Fortunately, there are tips to narrow down your candidates by looking at the data presented for each app listed.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 4, Posted 9:57 AM, 02.19.2019

Limiting your financial exposure in apps

To wrap up this series on using your new digital-world tool such as a tablet or a smartphone that you may have received over the holidays, I want to tie up loose ends.

Although many things, including “apps” you use on your new device, are promoted as being free, we should recognize that there is no such thing as a free lunch in the digital world either.

You may have heard the phrase “if you are not paying for the product, you are the product” used often in reference to the free products such as apps and services like email in recent years. Frankly, I thought it was such an appropriate phrase born to describe the utility of internet but a student in our program for seniors reminded me that it was first used in the early 1970s to describe the efficacy of television advertisements. To this day, for example, you can imagine why advertisers will pay millions of dollars for a 30-second advertising spot during the Super Bowl game!

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 3, Posted 9:51 AM, 02.05.2019

Set up once but reap benefits repeatedly

Although one may think that an Android-based tablet/smartphone is a totally different animal than an iOS-based device (iPad or iPhone), they are not too different; their utility is the same. It’s more like do you prefer Navel or Valencia oranges?

Like the case of two oranges, comparing a Toyota Camry to a Ford Fusion is another of my analogies. iPad and Galaxy Tab are “models” (think: Camry and Fusion) with their respective “makes” being Apple and Samsung (think: Toyota and Ford), both belonging to the “tablets” category (think: four-door sedans), and variations within a model line such as iPad and iPad Pro are akin to “trims” (think: Camry V6 vs. Camry Hybrid).

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 2, Posted 9:59 AM, 01.22.2019

Did you get a new tablet or smartphone?

Did you receive, or gift yourself, a digital-world device such as a tablet or a smartphone during the holidays? Have you already set it up and are enjoying the benefits like streaming movies and music, playing the kind of games you enjoy (racing games are my favorite!), videochatting with your grandkids, and getting your dose of up-to-the-second news? Or is the gift still sitting in the box and at risk of not even seeing the light of day?

Upon reading that last sentence, some of you may think it to be absurd. Unfortunately I’ve heard, in confidence, similar outcomes repeatedly over the years from seniors I helped. I blame these outcomes on the “intimidation barrier.”

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 1, Posted 9:47 AM, 01.08.2019

What's on our seniors' minds at the end of 2018?

During the Center for Aging in the Digital World’s 2018 holiday party for the graduates of our Discover Digital Literacy! program, now up to 58 alumni after three years, we took a survey of what they would like to learn in a shorter duration program with a singularly focused topic. Since they have successfully discovered digital literacy, we wanted to offer a path for continued lifelong learning while concurrently growing our flagship program of 16 weeks in new venues.

I thought the responses will be all over the place but I couldn’t have been more wrong! Whether their topics of interest list was short or long, the lists included this topic: photography using smartphones and tablets with curation of the Kodak Moments in the cloud (aka internet).

Read Full Story
Volume 10, Issue 24, Posted 10:01 AM, 12.18.2018

Storing wallet pictures

I fondly remember the days when I carried in my wallet family photos that were taken with a 35mm camera. We all know how analog cameras were replaced by digital cameras. Like many other changes involving an analog widget being replaced by its digital counterpart, these analog-to-digital transitions often change how we use the widget.

As an amateur photographer, I do miss the sense of wonder and excitement that accompanied the film development process. Why? The results of the film development process, i.e. negatives produced to print pictures, showed how well the shots were framed or how the lighting was metered at the subject – questions I kept in mind before taking each shot on my 35mm camera.

Read Full Story
Volume 10, Issue 23, Posted 10:18 AM, 12.04.2018

Build good habits to avoid being spoofed

Although both Google and my mobile phone service provider try to identify unwanted incoming calls, the number of such calls has increased exponentially.

Unwanted emails are called “spam emails” and these unwanted calls, including computer-dialed “robocalls” that deliver pre-recorded messages, are also known as “spam calls.”

At least with spam email, your email provider and/or yourself (the latter through creating what are known as rules to categorize email as spam depending on criteria such as message subject) can redirect suspected spam email from ever coming into your inbox.

Read Full Story
Volume 10, Issue 21, Posted 9:53 AM, 11.06.2018

Signal reception, data use and phone brands

This is the third in a series of articles about mobile phones and plans.

When buying your first smartphone, questions such as “which mobile service provider (aka carrier),” “which mobile data plan,” and “which smartphone” are common.

Although you may get the urge to walk into a carrier store without any research, I recommend doing this first: ask your neighbors about their signal quality of their carrier. Signal quality, i.e. reception, at your abode is important so basic functionality such as calling and texting are reliable.

Read Full Story
Volume 10, Issue 20, Posted 10:01 AM, 10.16.2018

'Yap & tap' is cheap

This is the second in a series of articles about mobile phones and plans.

With the propagation of “always connected” (to the internet, aka the cloud) devices such as smartphones, talk and text (“yap & tap”) plans have become cheap. Still, you may notice that your monthly bill is higher. Why?

“Tapping” on your smartphone is more than just texting. Smartphones require mobile data to be always connected. A handful of MVNOs (resellers of mobile service) like Tracfone are still metering talk and text but most have moved to the new business model of selling mobile data plans while offering unmetered talk/text (i.e. unlimited).

Read Full Story
Volume 10, Issue 19, Posted 9:49 AM, 10.02.2018

Demystifying mobile phones and plans: GSM vs. CDMA

This is the first in a series of articles about mobile phones and plans.

Just like there are AM and FM radio waves, aka bands, there are two mobile radio wave standards, or bands, in use in our country: GSM and CDMA. The important thing is that there are two bands and not what the acronyms stand for. Keen readers and geeks alike will point out that the word “band” is used slightly in a different manner when talking about the mobile phone industry but to keep matters simple, we’ll ignore that it is used differently.

If rock 'n' roll is your favorite music genre, you can tune your radio to 100.7 WMMS or 98.5 WNCX stations on the FM band to get your fix. For traffic reports, news and sports news during your daily commute, you may tune to WTAM 1100 on the AM band.

Like WMMS and WNCX in the FM band, or WTAM in the AM band, analogy here is that we have T-Mobile and AT&T using the GSM standard while Verizon and Sprint are using the CDMA standard.

Read Full Story
Volume 10, Issue 18, Posted 10:04 AM, 09.18.2018

Motivation to manage my diabetes

When I was first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I became very regimented. Taking glucose readings twice a day, following dietary restrictions recommended by my primary care physician, asking for a doggy bag at the beginning of a meal when eating out to right-size the portion, and other adjustments became the norm.

I can laugh about this now but I remember saying in a sarcastic tone, “What do you mean by I can only eat a cup and a half of cooked pasta??” and rolling my eyes. You’d be shocked at how little a cup and a half of cooked pasta is! It’s a miracle, too, that I wasn’t in the dog house that night! With my wife's commitment to adjusting our meal plan to diabetic-friendly Asian cuisine, combined with motivation from the since-retired uber internist Dr. Walborn, I controlled my diabetes without medication for over a decade. I even lost more than 40 pounds in the first year.

Read Full Story
Volume 10, Issue 17, Posted 9:09 AM, 09.05.2018

Summer 2018 edition of the cord-cutting scene

It’s been a while since I’ve written about the cord-cutting scene. To the uninitiated, cutting-the-cord replaces traditional cable or satellite TV service in favor of receiving TV programming through the internet (called "streaming").

The advent of “smart TVs” that have computer-like circuitry to connect to your home internet feed makes cord-cutting possible. Even a “dumb TV,” which in my column refers to any modern TV with available “HDMI” connection, can be turned into a smart TV for under $50. Yep, streaming devices such as Roku and Fire TV sticks can provide the same computer-like function to connect the TV to your internet pipe.

Read Full Story
Volume 10, Issue 15, Posted 9:49 AM, 08.07.2018

Smartphones, tablets can accommodate you

I used to make my annual pilgrimage to the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) at the Cobo Center in Detroit every January. A self-proclaimed gearhead, although I confess I can’t turn a wrench, I loved spending the whole day at NAIAS and coming home with a trunkload of catalogs to keep me entertained through the long CLE winter.

However, just like the electronic gadgets we procure stopped coming with manuals, many car manufacturer booths started eliminating hard copy literature, instead pointing visitors to their websites. I haven’t been back to NAIAS since!

Most digital natives will instinctively do a Google search for an electronic – aka “PDF” – manual to find out something; digital immigrants, like yours truly, grew up consulting books, encyclopedias and manuals for knowledge.

Read Full Story
Volume 10, Issue 13, Posted 9:19 AM, 07.03.2018

Technology for rejoining the workforce

There’s nothing anecdotal about the term “silver tsunami.” According to Wikipedia, it is “a metaphor used to describe population aging.” One oft-reported effect is how people are delaying retirement or coming out of retirement to rejoin the workforce.

For the latter rejoiners, what do you do when you were previously in a field/career that didn’t require learning or using digital world tools such as a computer? I bet the ink ribbon of your Smith Corona in the attic is bone dry. And even if you can ask your friend to order a replacement ribbon, that job application process requires an electronic version of your resume.

Read Full Story
Volume 10, Issue 12, Posted 9:24 AM, 06.19.2018

What's a router?

Staying safe in the digital world, what I call “internet street smarts,” continues to be a hot topic in 2018. “Security” and “privacy” will be digital world challenges for some time to come. Why?

As the internet, aka the cloud, is “borderless,” nefarious actors can be located stateside and/or internationally. This makes it hard to track down perpetrators. By now you may have heard about the FBI advisory to reboot your router to avoid being a potential victim. National media, in most cases, is dispersing the information verbatim and in repetition. Although I wonder how many will actually go through with this as this week I have been asked, multiple times, what a “router” is.

Read Full Story
Volume 10, Issue 11, Posted 9:59 AM, 06.05.2018

Data analysis from recent digital literacy expo

There are many reasons I love Cleveland, one of them being that the four seasons are similar to where I grew up. Yet even after living in CLE longer than I grew up in Japan, I still can’t tell how I should dress during our short spring season. I left home in a T-shirt the other day because it was 76 the day before. I should’ve consulted my digital mercury, aka my smartphone, as it was 46 degrees that day.

At least seniors enjoyed warm weather to attend our second annual Living in the Digital World Senior Expo on May 10.

Read Full Story
Volume 10, Issue 10, Posted 9:33 AM, 05.15.2018

Positives outweigh the negatives

I frequently laud in my column the 1992 movie “Sneakers” where the plot is almost an accurate premonition of what the digital world would be 25 years later. That world is where “information” and not greenbacks provide unimaginable value to both businesses and nefarious actors alike.

When researching the current state of information collection activities by data brokers, my research also found that the phrase “you are the product,” in reference to one getting something under the misguided pretension of no strings attached, predated consumerization of the internet.

Another movie, this one from the late 1990s, “Wag the Dog,” is another dead ringer where I can discern many parallels to current events. Although not a case of life imitating art, the rise of fake news and strategic use of tools born in the digital world are too eerie to say the least. It’s as if these two movies were prophecies!

Read Full Story
Volume 10, Issue 9, Posted 9:59 AM, 05.01.2018

Digital world mimics real world

Maybe no one explained how the two worlds complement each other. Perhaps the lines were more lucid 10 years ago but now they are blurred. “Shaken, not stirred,” just like Ian Fleming’s British spy agent likes his martini.

Every morning your cerebral cortex signals the idiom “clear as mud” when you try to understand the two worlds but said signal is not accompanied by a sense of urgency. You face another day without grasping the consequences that your actions in the digital world invites in the real world.

While waiting for your afternoon cuppa joe, you learn about the 141st data security breach of 2018, this time affecting 1 million customers; you quickly swipe to the next news story. As common as your customized morning commute traffic reports you get through the “Waze” app on your smartphone, you came to learn that initial numbers in most data security breach news are under-reported. You cynically blame that as crisis management M.O. (modus operandi)!

Read Full Story
Volume 10, Issue 8, Posted 9:46 AM, 04.17.2018

Be your own 'hotspot'

About a decade ago, I received a T-shirt from Sprint with the words "I am your hotspot" prominently emblazoned across the front. It became my favorite T-shirt because it exuded geekiness!

Our smartphones are always connected to the internet, aka the cloud, because the utility of a smartphone goes beyond just making/receiving phone calls and text messages.

Before the advent of smartphones, you paid for talk time and text messages allotted monthly; in marketing parlance they were “metering” how much you yapped and texted. Although metering exists for non-smartphone users and some providers still use this business model, the industry’s preference seems to require smartphone users to select a “mobile data” plan while talk and text are advertised as unlimited (i.e. unmetered).

Read Full Story
Volume 10, Issue 6, Posted 10:11 AM, 03.20.2018

OMG! What happened to my family memories?

Last week I was invited back to present “OMG! What Happened to My Family Memories!” at the Cuyahoga County Public Library. Preparation entailed reviewing my slide deck from five years ago and it was a trip down memory lane. It feels funny using that phrase since it was “only” five years ago – a testament to how internet years are akin to dog years!

Back in 2012, photos and videos taken with digital cameras were mostly copied to one’s computer. The computer became the primary target to be backed up to an external hard drive for contingency planning. Backing up files is like ordering “double prints” when developing 35mm film rolls (remember those?), tucking away one copy in a safe place.

Read Full Story
Volume 10, Issue 5, Posted 9:23 AM, 03.06.2018

Stream & Cast

With this week’s title, I don’t blame you for thinking that I switched to a fishing enthusiast column. The good news is that I’m not built for sitting in one place, hours on end, waiting for a nibble on my fishing line. With my luck I’d end up with an old boot when I reeled it in!

If you have been assessing the feasibility of cutting the cord, or the recently augmented streaming of cloud-based programming to your digital world devices, you may have come across the jargon “cast.”

Casting is loosely related to streaming – i.e. you can stream content like a YouTube video or Taylor Swift’s latest single without casting – and Google’s Chromecast is a popular choice when used together with your other digital world tools such as your Android smartphone, Android tablet or the Chrome browser on your computer.

Read Full Story
Volume 10, Issue 4, Posted 9:35 AM, 02.20.2018

Streaming 101

Through the cacophony of silverware, loud laughter, and good conversation at a senior center fundraiser luncheon, a lively discussion about Roku can be heard from the group sitting next to my wife. Call that motivation for today’s article!

In the good ol’ days, network TV programming from ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and others were received over-the-air (aka “OTA”) with a roof-top antenna or rabbit ears. But did you know that even after the analog-to-digital transmission transition mandated by the Federal Communications Commission, you could have continued to receive OTA programming?

Read Full Story
Volume 10, Issue 3, Posted 9:54 AM, 02.06.2018

One website for Westshore seniors, families and eldercare professionals

A total of 7,878 and counting ... that is the cumulative number of programs, inclusive of some recurring programs of a series, that are scheduled throughout eight senior centers in these communities: Bay Village, Westlake, Avon, Fairview Park, Lakewood, North Olmsted, North Ridgeville and Rocky River.

For free or at a minimal cost, seniors can stay healthy, learn something new, see movies, play card games and more. Not to mention being part of a community, making friends and being engaged.

Utilizing senior center programming is not a “Like” or “Follow” in the digital world; it is tried-and-true relationship curation in the real world. People-to-people connections, aka “connectedness,” can help combat loneliness and help keep seniors emotionally happy … but only if they know about them in the first place!

Read Full Story
Volume 10, Issue 1, Posted 9:32 AM, 01.09.2018

Chief Elf Officer for piece of mind

By the time you read this final WVBO issue of 2017, Santa’s Chief Elf Officer (CEO) will have inputted the billions of delivery destinations into the sleigh’s onboard GPS. He will also have duplicated them into the Google Map app on Santa’s smartphone as a backup in case the GPS receiver in Rudolph’s red nose malfunctions.

Being an avid reader of this column – available even in North Pole through the WBVO website in the digital world, aka internet – Santa’s CEO knows the importance of backups; Santa having a backup methodology for delivery routing is a must!

Read Full Story
Volume 9, Issue 24, Posted 9:55 AM, 12.19.2017

Pictures are worth a thousand words

Has this happened to you? Your car is constantly making clunking noises but when you take it to the mechanic, the noise goes away and you can’t replicate it.

Having lived in the digital world for decades I have encountered analogous situations, both as the instigator and as the person providing assistance, where tools such as computers, tablets and smartphones act up but, when needed, can’t replicate the issue. Also we often have a hard time explaining the error message on the screen to another person.

With the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets, we can of course take a picture of the error (or record that clunking noise) but what if you don’t have a smartphone or digital camera at your disposal? Or what if the error message is on the smartphone itself?

Read Full Story
Volume 9, Issue 23, Posted 10:33 AM, 12.05.2017

Mom, what happened to our internet?

“Can we go sit in our car so I can go online?”

This was what a friend's daughter asked her when their home internet went down recently. The girl had seen a commercial touting a car’s ability to offer Wi-Fi to the passengers and she thought her family car could give her a quick fix!

To her daughter’s dismay, their family car didn’t have that feature nor did Jodi volunteer to offer Wi-Fi through hotspotting as it will use the precious monthly mobile data. Instead, her family got reacquainted with the joys of playing a board game, courtesy of the internet not coming back up for the night.

Read Full Story
Volume 9, Issue 21, Posted 9:50 AM, 11.07.2017

Icons to the rescue

Over the years of doing my share of household chores, I’ve learned to read the care labels on garments carefully. I’ve learned that wool garments don’t like hot water and they shouldn’t be tumble dried either. The tiny print used on those care labels make it extremely difficult to read. It doesn’t help that words start fading after several times through the wringer. Even with a careful inspection of the label, sometimes I notice that my clothes have become tight. Did I gain weight or did the garments grow feet and sneak back into the hot water pile from the cold water pile?

There is a bright side to many of these care labels: the use of hieroglyphics, more commonly referred to as “icons” (aka symbols). Having an icon resembling a clothes dryer with a big “X” through it can’t be misunderstood: no tumble drying.

Read Full Story
Volume 9, Issue 20, Posted 9:47 AM, 10.17.2017


I’m sure over 143 million Americans would have come up with a similar title for my article today. After a data breach that exposed consumers' personal information, Equifax bungled its crisis management communication. The breach is being blamed on the company's lax response to a known security vulnerability which is analogous to a tiny crack in the foundation for a rat to get in. If history repeats itself like with Anthem, Target, Home Depot, and other breaches that came before it, the number of affected consumers may likely increase.

A long time ago nefarious entities were interested in cleaning out your bank account. Those days are long gone! With the arrival of the internet, “information” and not greenbacks are the currency of the digital world.

Read Full Story
Volume 9, Issue 18, Posted 10:07 AM, 09.19.2017