Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Internet of Things Makes Your Home "Smart"

Back in June 2015, I wrote about the Internet of Things for ASQ (American Society of Quality). Two years have passed and devices that manage technology in our homes are becoming more commonplace. The term "smart home" describes the control and automation of lighting, heating, air conditioning, security, and appliances.

Honeywell Device for Detecting Leaks

Leak detection prevents water damage
The device shown above serves as a leak detector. The wire is a sensor for moisture. The box is a WiFi interface. This device can be placed near a water heater or washing machine. In the case of a leak, an email is sent to the owner.

Email Advising of Leak

Controlling temperature from a phone or other mobile device
More and more people are replacing their thermostats with models that connect to the internet via WiFi and can be controlled through an app on a mobile device. In this way, the home temperature can be checked and adjusted remotely.

WiFi Thermostat

One use is to raise the air conditioning setting while out of town. Once you are on your way home, you can remotely lower the setting so the home temperature will be comfortable when you arrive.

Mobile Phone App Screen Controlling Thermostat
Tablet App Screen Controlling Thermostat

Home security
Many internet of things in the home improve security. Lights and televisions can be turned on and off while on vacation so the home looks occupied. Cameras can be installed inside and out, and viewed on a device from another location (see screenshot below).
Tablet App Showing Camera Views of Business

An internet-enabled doorbell with camera allows the homeowner to respond by voice to someone at the front door even when they're in another location. This uses an app on a mobile device.

New home construction offers smart home technology. The addition of internet-enabled devices to older homes is being simplified to do-it-yourself home improvement projects.

This article first appeared in Quality: Improvements in Work and Life.

Advertising on this blog supports my writing. By clicking an ad, you are under no obligation to buy. If you see an advertisement of interest, please click.


Monday, June 26, 2017

Youtube Redirects to the Mobile Version on Desktop and How to Fix It

Mobile Version of YouTube on PC Screen

Two weeks ago I wanted to watch a favorite YouTube video . When I opened YouTube using Chrome browser on my Windows 8.1 Desktop personal computer, I saw a screen similar to the one above. It's recognizable as YouTube, but when clicked nothing happens. A quick workaround was to use another browser, but my favorite videos were bookmarked in Chrome.

A discussion with a family member about youtube.com redirecting to m.youtube.com revealed I was dealing with the mobile version of YouTube. It would not respond to mouse clicks.

A Google search suggested clearing out cookies.
Listed below is the click sequence:
Customize and Control Google Chrome>
Show Advanced Settings>
Clear browsing data (Under Privacy section)>
Cookies and other site and plugin data>
Clear browsing data.
Afterwards the problem persisted.

YouTube.com Was Redirected to m.YouTube.com

I found a 2014 YouTube forum thread with the solution. Type chrome://settings/cookies in your Chrome browser window. A list of cookies will appear. Click Remove all. This got rid of the mobile version of YouTube on my desktop. Here's the 2014 thread.

All credit for this solution and the screenshot at the top of this page go to the thread contributors at that link.

How do you safely clean a laptop screen?

Looking back, I'm not sure what prompted the mobile YouTube to hijack my browser. I have a new laptop with the same Chrome identity. With that laptop being a touch screen perhaps there was some cyber-confusion. I try to limit my use of the touch feature on the new laptop because it makes a smeary mess of the screen. Can anyone relate? Any tips for safely cleaning a laptop screen? I would love to hear them. Also if you have experienced the YouTube mobile redirect or know why this happened, I would be interested to hear from you.

Thanks for reading my post. I've been busy with classes, but it's great to be writing about web technology again. Advertising on this blog supports my writing. By clicking an ad, you are under no obligation to buy. If you see an advertisement of interest, please click.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Small Business Cybersecurity: The People Connection

Data from 2015 shows that 20% of U.S. businesses hacked are small with less than 250 employees. 60% of those fail after the attack. For small and medium-sized businesses, the average cost of a data breach is $21,000.

In 2016 an accountant was hacked and financial information and social security numbers from accounts were stolen. By the time the breach was discovered, a false return had been filed with the IRS in my family's name.

Cyber criminals or hackers use stolen information to obtain money. Sometimes they use the data, but often it is sold to other criminals. With names and social security numbers, criminals can file fraudulent claims for tax refunds.

Hackers also steal bank account information, credit and debit card numbers and authentication details, personal information, medical records, trademark information, trade secrets and others. A list of names, phone numbers, and addresses can be used by IRS scammers. Those criminals make threats and convince people to wire money or mail debit cards.

Preventing business cybercrime requires several levels of defense. Employee internet habits are one layer of cybercrime security that should be addressed. Since downloads of software are one of the primary causes of virus attacks, employee internet policies need to be solid and well communicated.

Steps to prevent cybercrime caused by employee behavior:

Company policies

Robust and clear company policies need to be written, distributed, and updated regularly.
These policies would cover the following areas:
  • email and internet use
  • protecting confidential information
  • policy communication and updates

Security training

Periodic meetings should be held to discuss security issues and concerns. Use recent news reports and videos to highlight different security concerns. Be clear about new threats from cyber crime and security changes to address those threats. Employees should be educated to be alert to phishing emails and suspicious attachments or links. A cybersecurity manager should be named who can respond to employee questions in a timely manner. This person should also insure policies are written, updated, and communicated.

Control Access

Limit administrative and password access. Regularly change passwords and establish limiting access to levels of data where possible. When employees are terminated, immediate changes in network access should be made.

Protecting organizations from cybercrime is a complex issue. Employee internet behavior is one area that should be managed to keep business information secure.

A cybersecurity tip sheet for small businesses by the Department of Homeland Security can be found here.

Advertising on this blog supports my writing. By clicking an ad, you are under no obligation to buy. If you see an advertisement of interest, please click.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Is an App Key to Learning Chinese Culture?

WeChat is a very popular all-purpose app

With 760 millions users, the WeChat app provides services found on other apps in a single platform. 90% of Chinese internet customers access with a mobile device, and a third of their time or more is on WeChat. It is super multi-purpose.

Connections and follows resemble FaceBook or LinkedIn. Payments can be made like PayPal.  Monetary gifts can be sent easily with a gambler's chance of giving a bonus. I won't bore you with a complete list of functions. Assume that if it's done on a mobile device, opening WeChat accesses a screen.

If you are planning a trip to China, review information on this app and consider downloading it. It could be used to display maps to a cab driver who was summoned using the app. Instead of exchanging business cards you may scan a QR code and generate a friend request. Pay for coffee. Set up meetings. WeChat users often prefer to chat using the app rather than answer their phone. Sound familiar?

More information on WeChat is available in the Global Tech issue (June 13, 2016) of Bloomberg Businessweek: The People's Republic of WeChat by D. Lawrence and L. Chen. 

Advertising on this blog supports my writing. By clicking an ad, you are under no obligation to buy. If you see an advertisement of interest, please click.

Friday, January 29, 2016

How to use Twitter as a Research Tool

Research Topics Using Twitter

Twitter provides current information through tweets promoting articles. There are several different ways to use Twitter for research.

Researching a Company, Topic, or Individual

Type the name in the search bar.

Example: Type #healthy eating in the search bar
                 Many tweets about healthy eating are listed; most have links to articles on that subject

Want to get more specific? Double up!
                 Type #healthy eating #diabetes
                  Now you have a list of tweets referring to information on both healthy eating and diabetes
Tweet Search Results
You can also use the drop-down options menu to filter your results:
Filter out tweet source: everyone or people you know
Filter to look at video tweets only

Filter Results with Options Menu

Finding a tweet about a specific article

My policy is to only retweet articles that I have reviewed. I read an article and knew it was from an older tweet.  In order to retweet it, I wanted an easy way to find the original tweet. This is how I found it:

In the search bar, I typed the source of the tweet and the name or topic of the article.

Example: Type @launchandHustle Single best way to create content

Type in Search Bar

Retweet After Finding Tweet

Twitter can be very useful in information searches. How do you use Twitter for research? I would be interested in your answers.
P.S. Comments from anonymous are automatically deleted.

More information on Twitter can be found in my article, Twitter School: 7 Fun Facts.

Advertising on this blog supports my writing. By clicking an ad, you are under no obligation to buy. If you see an advertisement of interest, please click.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What is the Internet of Things?

What is the Internet of Things, and how does it affect you? Devices that communicate and share data on the internet are the Internet of Things (IoT). Our smart phones access all types of data through apps. The amount and type of data we access will increase as more and more devices are connected to the internet.

We can access more traffic information as street cameras network and commuter systems come online.  Sensors can detect heart rate and track our movement. This translates into health data we can access through mobile devices like smart phones or smart watches. As sensors are developed to detect even more health information, other data will be available through our devices. This information could prompt a visit to the doctor or give us the reassurance that a visit isn't necessary. We may exchange this data with our healthcare provider, and let her decide a course of action.

If you have 17 minutes, the following 2012 Tedx video by Dr. John Barrett offers a good explanation of the Internet of Things. Since its taping, more devices have become internet-compatible, and, as he predicts, there are even more things we can do with our smart phones because of the additional data on the internet.

I've written Managing the Quality of Internet-linked Products for ASQ Influential Voices. It can be found by clicking here.

Advertising on this blog supports my writing. By clicking an ad, you are under no obligation to buy. If you see an advertisement of interest, please click.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Help for the Slow Windows 8 Computer

Slow Computer

My Windows 7 laptop died last summer. I was challenged by Windows 8 on a new Dell Desktop. From the beginning, the machine was slow compared to my 3 year-old laptop. This week the processing got even slower. When I typed in the browser window, it would take a few seconds for the words to appear. When the machine was in sleep mode, it would take a couple of minutes to wake up and respond to the mouse. Delays in opening new tabs or moving to the application panel were stressing me out.

I got lucky when I found Rasim Muratovic's YouTube video: How to Speed Up Windows 8 (or 8.1) - Free and Easy. This short (5 minute) video offers 10 things you can do to improve Windows 8 machine speed. Thank you Rasim. After making these changes and restarting my computer, there is a definite improvement in response. Rasim is a genius and so generous for offering these tips for FREE.


I want to emphasize that Rasim is not selling a product in the video. Be prepared to take notes and make changes to speed up a slow computer.

Here's a quick summary of tips in the video. I will be brief so refer to the video for detailed instructions:

  1. Power settings. Choose High Performance over Balanced. My computer didn't offer those choices so I left this alone.
  2. Search > Defrag c: drive  Windows 8 claims to defrag weekly, but there was plenty of defragging going on when I clicked this.
  3. Start > Run> Open: %temp% Delete contents of this file.
  4. Start > Run> Open: temp Delete contents of this file.
  5.  Start > Run> Open: prefetch Delete contents of this file.
  6. Go to Task Manager. Start up Tab > Disable programs you do not need on start up. There were many in my computer.
  7. Start > File Explorer > Right Click on Windows 8 OS(C:) >properties >Disc Clean up (Run this)
  8. Start > Run> Open: msconfig Go to Services Tab IMPORTANT: Click box next to "Hide all Microsoft Services" Then click Delete.
  9. Start > Run> Open: regedit Click HKEY current users >Control Panel > Double Click Mouse > Double Click MOUSEHOVERTIME > Change value from 400 to 20.
  10. Same place as above. Control Panel > Double Click Desktop > Double Click MENUSHOWDELAY > Change value from 400 to 10.

Advertising on this blog supports my writing. By clicking an ad, you are under no obligation to buy. If you see an advertisement of interest, please click.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Inkpad by Taptrix, Inc. for iPad: A Great Free Vector Drawing Tool

Screenshot of Inkpad Canvas

It was exciting to discover the Inkpad app for iPad. I was looking for a drawing program for the iPad so I could "doodle."  As a former student of Adobe Illustrator, I was familiar with those tools and work flow and welcomed a chance to use those skills on the iPad.

Inkpad doesn't have all the tools and options of Illustrator, but it has enough. Included are the select, pen, text, and geometric shape tools. I really like the scissor tool that allows easy cutting of an existing shape. You can create logos or icons on the fly with this amazing app.

John Patton has a great tutorial that brought me up to speed. Using an iPad mini and a stylus, I was able to draw the  logo below by following the video.

Logo made following video tutorial


 John Patton's YouTube Tutorial on Inkpad App

Here are some other Inkpad drawings:

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tuvaro Hijacks Browser - My experience with a Browser Attack

Tuvaro Hijacks Browser

The hijack of my Mozilla Firefox browser started innocuously enough. As I walked by the family computer, I noticed a window was open. The familiar steaming coffee cup logo suggested the Java program be updated.

Thinking I would help out my spouse and speed up the computer, I clicked to proceed. I deselected complimentary programs that are commonly offered with downloads. After some time, it seemed that the choices were more numerous than usual. The graphics and language seemed a bit off.

Use Caution When Updating Software

Too late I decided an update wasn't a good idea. I closed the window. Suddenly, the Firefox Browser was changed by Tuvaro. It was the same color scheme as Mozilla Firefox, but "Tuvaro" was added in the identification and replaced "Google" beside the search box. Desktop icons had been replaced with Tuvaro icons.Worse, the browser window filled up with pornographic images.

I clicked to the uninstall programs window. Tuvaro was not in the list of programs. I deleted all newly added programs that looked suspicious. This included YouTube Accelerator and Key Player Media. Then I uninstalled and reinstalled Mozilla Firefox.

Since the desktop still looked strange, I performed a system restore. This seemed to get rid of Tuvaro. Later, I found Malwaretips.com with steps for removing Tuvaro. One of those steps included running Malwarebytes Anti-Malware to clean up the system. By the way, all programs recommended to clean up your computer on that site are free.

This episode occurred 8 weeks ago. It was traumatic, and I procrastinated in writing this blog post. I have tried to describe the cyber attack as well as I can remember. I think it's human nature to want to forget unpleasant things.

The main take-away from this experience is to be very careful when downloading software or software updates. In the situation above, I should have gone to Java.com and updated directly from that website. Another suspicious Java update window has popped up since that experience, and I wasted no time in closing it.

Below is a 4-minute video that shows the browser changes after a Tuvaro attack. The video does not have vocals, but does a good job of showing the changed browsers at the beginning [of the video]. It also demonstrates another approach of redirecting your altered Firefox and Internet Explorer browsers.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Photon App allows viewing of Adobe Flash Player Video on iPads

Photon Browser is an app for the iPad and iPhone that allows viewing of Flash Player video. Video inserted on blogs or websites is often placed in an Adobe Flash Player platform. IOS based mobile devices do not support Flash. Photon provides a solution.

The app is available at the Apple App store for $4.99. Once installed, type in the web address. To view the Flash-based video, click the lightning bolt icon. This enables viewing.

Video files on iPad using Safari - there are blank spaces where the video and slide show should appear:

Video files on iPad using Photon - the video and slide show are ready to play:

There are settings to optimize viewing, although the default settings have worked fine for me. I can now see my complete blog posts and videos on my web portfolio with an iPad. This allows portable viewing while in meetings.

The 7-minute video below helped me decide to purchase Photon.

Shop Amazon - Off to College

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Add Social Media Icons to your Blogger Blog

I recently had a reader request to connect with me on other social media. Below is a good YouTube video on adding social media icons to Blogger. It is a 7 minute video by Blogaholic Designs. I've written instructions below the video.

1. Get icons and place them in a convenient file. I used icons from UIcon Stock. This set was free with credit by linking back to the set. Here's the link.

2. Go to the blog and start a new post. Title the post something like: Social Icons - Do not Publish- Do not Delete.

3. Important: click HTML mode > click image icon (indicate you want to add image to blog post) > select files from your icon file

4. A window will pop-up and ask to choose a layout. Choose NONE and the size icon you desire (I chose small).

5. Click COMPOSE  to see how social icons look

6. Now you need to turn the icons into links to those social media pages. For each icon, click icon > click LINK. This does not give you the link set-up window. REPEAT it. click icon > click LINK. (Second time is the charm.)

Now you should get the link set-up window. Add the URL for the social media icon. Test it. Check Open in new Tab. Save.

Repeat Step 6 for each social media icon.

7. Return to HTML mode. Copy the code for your icon set. If right-click doesn't work, use CTRL A and CTRL C.

8. Open your blog dashboard in another tab.

9. Go to Layout. Click Add a Gadget > Select HTML/JavaScript

10. You will get a window. Leave Title Blank. Paste code for social icon set. Use CTRL V if right-click doesn't work.

11. Save arrangement. View blog. Social Icons should appear in the right sidebar.

Monday, June 16, 2014

CamStudio: It's Easy to Create a Screenshot Video

Curious about making a screenshot video? Do you have a computer skill to share? I downloaded the free CamStudio, and after only 2 hours had my first instructional video posted on YouTube. That time included a 45-minute tutorial which is well worth watching. I used the onedownloader site which is linked to above.

The CamStudio site is here. When I completed the download, the webpage with the instructional video opened. There is also a FAQ page and forum if help is needed.

Below is my first screenshot video which is under 2 minutes. Thanks to CamStudio for free software, and thanks to everyone for very helpful instructional videos!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Self-publishing with Amazon: KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing)

After publishing to CreateSpace, an option is offered to publish to Kindle. You enter the KDP platform and your CreateSpace book is converted to an e-book. This is a "backdoor" into Kindle publishing. Then you are allowed to preview the Kindle version. 

In my situation, the conversion process from my CreateSpace book was not successful. Most of the photographs were missing.  I had hoped for better separation of chapters as with the print book. That didn't happen.

I downloaded the HTML, and decided it was too complicated for my HTML skills. I took the final book file (the word .doc) and converted it to .pdf. This is easily done with Microsoft word by using the "Save as" command. Click "save as" and scroll down to the .pdf format to select it.

Uploading this .pdf corrected the missing images. The chapter layout was not perfection, but it was usable.

If I had to do it over again, I would upload a .pdf file to CreateSpace for a print and e-book process. For an e-book alone, I would try writing the HTML myself and upload that.

N. J. NotJohn has a good blog about using HTML for Kindle publishing. I would try his suggestions.

Here's Amazon's 2 minute promotional video on Kindle Direct Publishing.

My previous post on the CreateSpace experience is here.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Self-publishing with Amazon: CreateSpace

I published my first book on Amazon two weeks ago. Amazon's self-publishing platform is called CreateSpace. Once you establish an account, the project homepage for the book allows you to methodically complete steps to publish. 

Page Numbers

There are templates available on the CreateSpace website to enter your book content. I struggled with page numbers. Chapter one started with page 3 instead of 1. Later in the book, I had page numbers duplicated. The blank page after acknowledgements had an iv where it should have been blank. After numerous attempts to understand the template and word tutorials, I resorted to transferring the entire book to a blank template where the page numbers, thankfully, remained correct. 

Photograph Quality

My book was a nonfiction gardening book. It had many photographs. Once I submitted the book interior, I received a notice about the dpi being too low on my photographs. I was comfortable with my photograph quality, and did not have access to the subject matter to redo them. I chose to click "ignore" on the warning message. Later, I obtained a printed proof that verified the photographs printed fine.

.doc or .pdf

I submitted the interior in a Microsoft Word .doc format. CreateSpace accepts many book formats. There were slight changes in running heads and page numbers from my submitted doc. In hindsight I think submitting in a pdf format might have avoided that problem.

Black and White

I originally chose a black and white interior for my book. I had read that photographs stand out better against a white background. What I did not understand was that this meant the photos would be black and white. For my book, color photographs were important so I changed to the color option. Obviously, the cost of my book increased. 

Book Cover

CreateSpace has an excellent book cover creator. I was up against a publishing deadline (gardening season was about to start!) so I used the CreateSpace cover creator rather than designing my own art. It seemed that I had to duplicate and step through this part more than once to get it checked as complete. 

After your book submission is complete for a paperback, you are given the option to offer the book on the Kindle or e-book platform. I will write about this experience in my next post.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Get an RSS Feed URL for your blog

I needed a URL for an RSS feed for my author's page. Luckily, there's an excellent video by Dave Saunders describing this process.

As described in the video, simply add /feeds/posts/default?alt=rss
to the end of your blog URL.

So the information I submitted to my author's page was: http://gardenladylovesbirds.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss

and titles are visible that link to my latest Garden Lady posts. If you want more of each blog to show, that can be adjusted in Settings on your blog interface.

The only problem I had was when I tried to test the RSS URL using Chrome browser, I got a page full of code. I could see the actual website fine in Firefox. 

The RSS feed works in Chrome. It's just the test that showed code.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Self-publishing with Amazon

I am finishing my book, How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (And Grow It Too!). It will be offered in paperback and e-book formats at Amazon.com.

The whole process will give me many blog post topics related to self-publishing and e-publishing.

I will add a link to my book's Amazon page soon. Book Linkhttp://amzn.to/1fIftj8

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

ed2go Online Classes: Great Value and Content

Update 1-28-2017:

In October 2016 I reported in an update that Ed2Go fees had increased to $149. This represented a doubling of pricing. Since then, I've discovered some pricing tips while signing up for a class on stock analysis.
  • The day prior to class starting, my class went on sale through Ed2Go for $104.30. I was thrilled with the savings.
  • Some classes are still offered for $70. Apparently, pricing depends on subject matter.
  • Later, I found the stock analysis Ed2Go class listed under my local community college's continuing education portal for $70.
  • The same class was listed under another local community college portal for $149.
I conclude that the more expensive Ed2Go courses can still be found for $70 under some community college programs. Check around!

If you have found low-cost online courses to recommend, please leave a comment below.

ed2go ROCKS - HERE'S WHY::
  1. Inexpensive
  2. Good Course Content
  3. No high pressure assignments

I recently finished my second ed2go class, Introduction to Javascript.  These classes are a bargain at $70. The course content is very organized and thorough. The administrative details are handled through your local community college. For my first class, Six Sigma: Total Quality Applications, I accidentally signed up for a similarly titled course. The staff at my local community college were quick and efficient at correcting my mistake.

Once the course starts, you'll get a new lesson every Wednesday and Friday. The lesson is available in a text format which I saved to my computer and iPad for easy access. A 5-question quiz serves as a self-check at the end of the lesson. This grade does not count. I copied and pasted the corrected quizzes to a word document for later study. 

Each lesson has an assignment which also is not graded, but its completion obviously enhances the lesson.  Hyperlinks are provided to supplementary material. There's a class discussion area for each lesson, and I've found the instructors to be very prompt in responding to posted questions.

Each lesson includes:
  • reading material
  • very short quiz
  • assignment
  • optional discussion board

The classes run 6 weeks with an additional 2 weeks (if needed) to finish and take the final exam. An 80% minimum exam grade earns the right to print a certificate of completion. There is no college credit for the courses, but you do earn continuing education units.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Make a video without a video camera!

Animoto is a very easy-to-use video program. Although an app is available, the desktop version has many more style options.

It is not necessary to take video footage to make a video. With Animoto, a combination of still images and text are transformed into an impressive video presentation. 

The following is a video I created from photos and video taken during the Great Backyard Bird Count. The photography isn't particularly great, but Animoto still makes a super video.


I've also made an "About Me" video for my Linkedin profile. For a recent school event, the photography wasn't good enough for prints, but it made a great video. It was a lot quicker than scrapbooking, too.

To start creating, you choose a style.

The style includes the background that your images or video will be superimposed upon along with music and animation.

If you don't like the music that goes with the style, there are additional music selections. Also, your own music can be uploaded.  Be aware of copyright protection laws when choosing music outside the Animoto selections.

Next, start uploading photos and/or video. Compose text and rearrange components to put together your final creation.

A free account allows you to make a 30 second web quality video with access to 300 tracks of music. For five dollars a month or $30 a year you can make a 10 minute video. A Pro account is $39 a month which allows 20 minute videos with access to 2000 commercially licensed music tracks. Like everything else on the internet, these terms are subject to change. I can see a corporation using a Pro account to quickly produce videos for employee meetings or sales presentations.

Instructors should be aware that there are 6-month Animoto for Education trials where students can produce videos of unlimited length.

The company has a funny video on their website about their history.