Techno Tuesdays from Ben Nader

PSE Miami Director of Technology Ben Nader has been sending e-mails out to the chapter with tech tips and tricks for both the savvy techies and the perpetually confused. In case you missed it, here are some highlights:

 


Techno Tuesday June 3
Training Tidbits and Technology

Apple has unveiled their newest operating systems OS X Yosemite (for Mac) and iOS 8 (for iPhone and iPad). Both of these systems will be released for free in the fall and have a lot of cool features including:

For OS X Yosemite:

  • A redesigned interface
  • Streamlined Safari toolbar with increased performance and privacy options
  • Mail will now allow you to send larger files more easily (up to 5GB)
  • iCloud Drive allows you to store any type of file on iCloud (now located in Finder) and access it on any device
  • Messages now work with your iPhone to allow you to send and receive iMessages and SMS messages right on your Mac. You can add people to group conversations, send short video/audio clips and even make phone calls all from Mac
  • They also introduced Handoff which allows you to start a task on one device and finish it on another, so you can start writing your e-mail on your phone and seamlessly pass it off and finish it on your Mac or vice versa.

For iOS 8:

  • All of your photos will now live in the iCloud, allowing you to free up space on your phone.
  • With messages, you can now add voice to any conversation you want, send video of what you’re seeing in the moment you’re seeing it and easily share your location right where you are.
  • New helpful shortcuts allow you to access the people you talk to the most. There is a new time-saving feature in Mail that allows you to swipe to the right to mark an email as unread, swipe to the left for more options including flag, trash or move to a specific folder.
  • The keyboard now has a “smart feature” on it that will suggest contextually appropriate words to complete your sentences. It even has the ability to recognize whom you are talking to and whether you’re in Mail or Messages and adjust your tone accordingly.
  • Additionally, they are leaving the keyboard open for developers to that they can create third-party extensions to improve the keyboard – so you will soon be able to swipe/connect the dots rather than type.
  • Family Sharing makes it possible for up to 6 people in your family to share each other’s iTunes, iBooks and App store purchases. Whenever one person buys a new song, movie or app, everybody gets to share it.
  • Apple has created an application called Health that allows you to utilize your health and fitness information in a new way. You can now merge all the information from various health/fitness apps in one location to track your activity, heart rate, etc.
  • Additionally it allows you to create an ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact card that will be accessible on all iPhones, even if they are locked, so that you can record information (Date of Birth, Allergies, Who to Contact, Medical Conditions, etc.) that may be important to EMS and doctors in case of incapacitation.

Check out Ben’s Technology Tidbit on disabling iPhone tracking and saving battery life here.

 


Techno Tuesday June 17
Google-Fu

Fun Facts about Google:

  • Google’s unofficial slogan is, “Don’t be evil.”
  • It is estimated that the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button has cost approximately $100 million dollars in lost ad revenue. However, Google still keeps the button on the page because trials of removing the button made people feel uncomfortable.
  • 97% of Google’s revenue comes from advertisements.
  • Larry Page is currently worth $23 billion, and Sergey Brin a modest $22.8 billion. As of February 2014, Google itself was valued at over $400 billion dollars!
  • During the creation of the Google logo, designers wanted a way to display a sense of playfulness without bulky objects or symbols in the logo limiting what they could do. This was initially achieved by skewing some of the letters, but this idea was scrapped and instead focus was directed toward color. The current logo features a pattern of primary colors being broken with a single letter shown in the secondary green color. The broken pattern represents playfulness and the idea that Google isn’t a company that plays by the rules.
  • Google rents goats from a company called California Grazing to keep their lawn all nice and tidy. The goats help Google to cut down on the amount of weeds at the Google HQ. They rent 200 goats plus the herder and a border collie to cut the weeds – Google says it is “a lot cuter to watch than lawn mowers.”

Learn how to Google!

 


Techno Tuesday June 24
Snapchat, Slingshot, and Autonomous Vehicles

Snapchat:
To start things out, I’d like to introduce you to “Our Story” Snapchat’s newest feature. Unlike “My Story,” which allows individuals to broadcast a collection of Snapchat experiences over 24 hours before they self-destruct, “Our Story” gets away from the individual experience and embraces the collective. According to Snapchat, “we built Our Story so that Snapchatters who are at the same event location can contribute Snaps to the same Story. If you can’t make it to an event, watching Our Story makes you feel like you’re right there!” This new feature allows users who are at the same location to add their videos, photos, and drawings to a publicly viewable content stream. There is a small catch though, in order to use the feature you must have location services enabled for Snapchat, in order to prove to them that you are actually at the event.
Slingshot:
On the other side of the playing field, our friends at Facebook released their version of Snapchat, called Slingshot. This new application comes not long after Snapchat denied Facebook’s $3 Billion dollar offer to purchase the company. Like Snapchat, this app allows users to send disappearing photo and video messages as a way to share what you are up to at any given moment — a visual status update, if you will. Unlike Snapchat, which allows you to view any photo or video that is sent to you, with Slingshot, the only time you can see a message that is sent to you is if you send a message back to the original sender.
In general, Slingshot isn’t singularly focused on making things disappear. You can enable automatic saving of the photos you take in the app’s settings and there are other small touches that will allow you to save photos — if you happen to take a photo and close the app before sending it, the photo will still be there waiting for you the next time you open the app. Additionally, with Slingshot there is no time limit like with Snapchat – the photos will remain on screen as long as you like, but will disappear forever the moment you navigate from the screen. You can download Slingshot from the app store for free.
Autonomous Vehicles:
In order to close out this message, I’d like to touch briefly on a headline that just popped up last night on Mashable: “Hands-Free Driving Coming to New Cars Starting in 2015.” 
While most people associate self-driving cars with Google’s much-talked-about prototypes and other automakers trying to break into this space, there is a new startup in San Francisco, California called Cruise that is looking to disrupt the entire space with a system that can be attached to any vehicle. The Cruise RP-1 will be released in a limited rollout (50 units) in California sometime in 2015 and is priced at $10,000 (including installation). To learn more about the Cruise RP-1, and join the “driverless revolution” you can watch a commercial by clicking here or visit their website at http://www.getcruise.com.

Techno Tuesday July 1

Facebook Research and Americans Addiction to Smartphones
This week’s update is going to a brief one touching on the recently released Facebook Experiment and survey results from a poll ordered by Bank of America on consumer mobility trends.

For those of you who haven’t seen the news this week, it was announced on Monday that Facebook conducted an online experiment involving 689,000 Facebook users back in January 2012 in order to determine if emotions could spread among people without face-to-face contact. Facebook did not alert the 700,000 users whose psychological responses were monitored that this study was taking place.
For a week in January, Facebook altered our NewsFeeds so that we would either see more positive posts, or negative posts (determined by an algorithm) and then monitored our reactions to them and our subsequent posts to see if our mood was at all affected by what we were reading about. The results of the study found that users who experienced less positive content in their NewsFeeds used more negative words in status updates, and vice versa. Many individuals are feeling violated by the actions of Facebook in failing to alert users of this study taking place, stating that, “People are supposed to be told they are going to be participants in research and then agree to it and have the option not to agree to it without penalty.” However, Facebook stands by the study stating that they were granted permission for conducting experiments like this when we accepted their Terms and Conditions and created a profile on their site.
If you would like to read more about this study, you can find their published results at:

Some interesting statistics on mobile phone usage were released yesterday as part of the inaugural Bank of America Trends in Consumer Mobility Report, a study that explores broad mobile trends and banking behaviors among adult consumers across the country who own a smartphone and have an existing banking relationship. The study found that:

  • 47% of US Consumers admitted they wouldn’t survive a day without their smartphone
  • 91% of respondents said that their phone is just as important as their car and deodorant
  • 76% said their phone is significantly more important than their television
  • 60% said their phone is significantly more important than coffee
  • If their phone was taken away from them, 79% of respondents would be willing to give up alcohol or chocolate to get it back

The report also found that the youngest millennials ages 18-24 are most likely to view their mobile phones as very important (96 percent) — more so than deodorant (90 percent) and even their toothbrush (93 percent).


Techno Tuesday July 15

Boost in TSA Security

How many of you would be surprised if I were to tell you that every time you move a file to the Recycle Bin on your computer and press ‘erase’ or ‘empty’ the file still remains on your computer even though you can no longer see it? Many people aren’t aware that your computer trash bin only removes a file from your desktop, and even when you empty your trash bin you only delete the virtual pathway to that file. The file is still saved in your hard drive which makes it difficult to access… unless you know what to look for. So this week, I will be giving you some tips on how to properly delete a file and fully remove it from your computer.

There are a few easy and effective ways of getting rid of files for good from your computer, all of which involve overwriting the file with other data. Overwriting a file is similar to scribbling over written words on a piece of paper, because even if you erase the pencil marks or use white out, there are always still things that you can do to read the words. Below are some tools that you can purchase or download for free that will properly overwrite your files so that you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that your deleted items are being disposed of properly.

Eraser (Windows)

Eraser is a free tool that allows you to pinpoint specific files on your Windows computer and overwrite them before you delete their directories. Once installed, you can use Eraser just by right-clicking on the condemned file, clicking on the Eraser icon and selecting erase. You can choose how many times you want to overwrite the file, too. While 20 overwrites might give you more peace of mind, you’re probably fine with two or three. Once the file is overwritten, you can junk it with the knowledge that it’s now nearly impossible to read. You can also set Eraser to clear out your trash bin and schedule automatic deletions, if you’re producing a lot of information you need to delete.

CCleaner (Windows)

If you’ve already deleted a few files the conventional way, or if you think there might be a few things floating around in the nether-regions of your computer you want to erase, CCleaner is a free tool to help you. With CCleaner, you can target specific areas and applications on your computer — like your trash bin, your browser or a folder — and clear out the empty space of any deleted files that you didn’t get rid of correctly in the first place. Like Eraser, you can also set CCleaner to perform a specific amount of overwrites, and the space is still free to use when you’re done.

Secure Empty Trash (Mac)

Deleting files securely on an Apple computer is built into your trash bin. Just drag whichever files you want to eviscerate into your trash bin, then go to Finder > Secure Empty Trash — and the deed is done. You can also securely erase your entire hard drive by entering the Disk Utility app and choosing “Erase.” Then click “Security Options.”

If you want to streamline the process and skip the trash bin all together, you can download FileShredder for $3.99. Instead of dragging your files to the trash bin, you can use the app to overwrite and delete the files. Instead of you needing to fuss over how many times to overwrite something, FileShredderuses an algorithm to determine how many times the given file needs to be overwritten to make it unreadable.


Techno Tuesday July 22

Facebook Update
On Monday, Facebook launched a new feature called “Save,” which lets you save links to articles, places to visit, movies and television shows to see, and music to check out later. This is to help solve the problem where individuals find they don’t always have enough time to check out and read everything that comes across their newsfeed. At any one time our newsfeeds contain up to 1,500 new posts from our friends, people we follow, and Pages.
While Facebook’s save feature may draw comparisons to other bookmarking sites such as Pinterest, it’s features are much more basic and lack the customization and offline access seen elsewhere. Facebook will organize your items by category, and then you can chose to share items with your friends, view the post, review it, like it, or archive it. In order to view your list of saved items:
  •  On a Mobile Device – first navigate to the More tab and tap Saved
  •  On a Computer – click on the Saved link located on the left side of your screen (in the navigation panel)
Now Facebook’s Save option is private – meaning only you can see your list.Facebook’s Save feature rolls out to all iOS, Android, and web users over the next few days. You’ll notice the option in your news feed either as a button on the bottom of some posts or in the drop-down menu beside each post.
To learn more, check out the following article found on Information Week. As always if you have any questions, or need help with anything, just let me know!

Techno Tuesday July 29

Taking Advantage of Gmail’s Infinite Email Addresses

Today I’ve got a short little tidbit to help you organize your Gmail inbox, which if it’s anything like mine is overflowing with junk mail and unnecessary emails from Miami.

According to Gizmodo, One trick that you may or may not have picked up about Gmail is that you can add in periods anywhere in the front part of your email address and it will make no difference whatsoever:john.smith@gmail.com works just the same as johnsmith@gmail.com. What’s more you can add a plus sign and any word before the @ sign (e.g.johnsmith+hello@gmail.com) and messages will still reach you. If these tweaks make no difference, then why use them? One major reason: filters.

Here are a few ways that you can make use of the feature to bring order to the chaos of your inbox.

  • Signing Up for Newsletters:
    • The next time you sign up for a newsletter, app or website, use an address like johnsmith+news@gmail.com. That way you can filter out everything sent to this address to a low-priority label or folder
  • Giving Friends VIP Status:
    • In addition to using this to sort unimportant messages, you can of course do the opposite. Try handing out an alternative email address – such as john.smith@gmail.com – to your friends and family to help them stand out from the less important email that usually fills up your inbox. Then all you have to do is set up a filter to mark these messages as important and top priority
  • Dividing Work and Personal Life:
    • It could be as simple as adding “+w” to your Gmail address (e.g. johnsmith+w@gmail.com) for any work-related emails. That then gives you the ability to mark every incoming work email with an appropriate label, with no manual effort required—not only will your inbox look tidier, but it will make searches much more efficient. You can restrict queries to one particular label and leave yourself with fewer results to sift through.
  • Creating a To Do List:
    • If you set up a filter that labels every email coming in tojohnsmith+todo@gmail.com then you can pull up this label as a makeshift to do list. As well as emailing tasks when you’re sat in the office or on your phone, you can forward emails from other accounts or even send photos to the list from wherever you happen to be. Anything that can be emailed can be added to your to do list, and as usual there’s the option within the filter to automatically archive these messages and mark them as read so they don’t clutter up your inbox.
Stay tuned for more Techno Tuesdays from Ben!
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