Life Technology

Life Technology

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    Posted on 24/11/2014 by | 0 comments

    Lots of companies have Internet-usage policies, some even say they monitor Internet use. I always assumed that employers claimed they monitored usage as a scare tactic — because who has the resources to watch what employees are doing?

    I was wrong. I recently heard from someone who was warned by their company that they were spending too much time visiting non-work related websites online at work. Yikes.

    So I tried to find some more information about how many companies actually monitor Internet usage. Turns out, it’s a lot. The most comprehensive study on the topic is from 2007 (I haven’t found a more recent one — let me know if you have.) Here are some of the highlights from the study, via The Recruiter’s Lounge:

    Employers are primarily concerned about inappropriate Web surfing, with 66% monitoring Internet connections. Fully 65% of companies use software to block connections to inappropriate Websites—a 27% increase since 2001 when AMA/ePolicy Institute first surveyed electronic monitoring and surveillance policies and procedures. Employers who block access to the Web are concerned about employees visiting adult sites with sexual, romantic, or pornographic content (96%); game sites (61%); social networking sites (50%); entertainment sites (40%); shopping/auction sites (27%); and sports sites (21%). In addition, companies use URL blocks to stop employees from visiting external blogs (18%).

    Computer monitoring takes many forms, with 45% of employers tracking content, keystrokes, and time spent at the keyboard. Another 43% store and review computer files. In addition, 12% monitor the blogosphere to see what is being written about the company, and another 10% monitor social networking sites.

    Of the 43% of companies that monitor e-mail, 73% use technology tools to automatically monitor e-mail and 40% assign an individual to manually read and review e-mail.

    And another article adds:

    45% of employers track content, keystrokes, and time spent at the keyboard; 43% store and review computer files.

    Wow. Sixty-six percent of the companies surveyed actually monitor employees’ Internet activity. Not only that, but 43% of companies monitor e-mail — which consists, in some instances, of people manually reading and reviewing employees’ e-mails. And, employees are getting fired for what the monitoring reveals — the study reports that a quarter of employers have fired people for e-mail misuse, and a third for Internet misuse.

    So what to do? First of all, don’t use your work e-mail as a personal account. Separate them. If you can’t do without checking your personal account throughout the day, consider getting a smartphone for that purpose. Second, limit how much time you spend browsing the Internet. I would bet that a small amount of personal Internet usage wouldn’t be a problem, but reloading Gawker every 15 minutes might raise a red flag. And of course, follow this advice for maintaining a blog without getting fired.

    And by the way — whatever companies created the software that allows employers to automatically monitor usage: Thanks for that. Really.

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    Posted on 07/11/2014 by | 0 comments

    While I’m bouncing around, trying my best to live for a month out of an extremely limited amount of luggage, I thought I’d share my Google Reader contents with you to keep you company.

    One of the best parts of my day is sipping coffee while scrolling through Google Reader. It’s a hefty dose of fashion, style, career news, and art and photography. Yum.

    Art & Design
    Little Green Notebook
    Caitlin McGauley

    Camp Comfort
    Paper Garland
    The Possessionista
    Tomboy Style
    Honestly WTF
    The Cut
    Vogue and Coffee

    Lifestyle Bloggers
    Oh Joy!
    The Fitnessista
    I’m Way Too Busy
    Lonny Blog
    From Me To You
    A Longenecker Short Story

    Career & Inspiration
    all that inspires me
    The Cynical Girl
    WSJ: The Juggle
    Huffington Post Women in Tech
    The New Professional

    Matthew Moore Photography
    The Cinderella Project
    100 Layer Cake

    *Note that most of these blogs don’t easily fit into only one category. But I shoved them in there nonetheless!

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    Posted on 27/10/2014 by | 0 comments

    I got a great new toy in the mail this weekend: an iPad 2. I’ve had it for two days, and I’m already blown away by its versatility. I’m actually creating this blog post on it.

    I decided to get the iPad primarily for the month-long trip abroad I’m taking. I wanted a device that would let me blog, read e-books, watch movies, edit photos, and keep in touch with friends while I’m gone.

    What I’ve found, surprisingly, is that I cannot stop doodling. Seriously, it’s like I’ve re-awakened my 9-year-old self. So… be prepared for doodles making appearances in the blog from time to time.

    So, I thought I’d share the apps and gadgets I’ve already tested, and find out what you guys use. If you have an iPad or other tablet, let us know what apps and tools you find indispensable.

    1. Wacom Bamboo Stylus. £29.99. Rating: 5.

    I bought this stylus after reading reviews of various options and deciding this one looked best. I can’t compare it to other styli (yes, I said styli… uber dork), but I can say that having a stylus makes the iPad incredibly user-friendly. With my iPhone, my fingertips get dry and irritated after long periods of use. I use the stylus for everything — selecting apps, flipping pages, typing short blocks of text, and drawing. I highly recommend getting one.

    2. Flipboard. Free. Rating: 5.

    Flipboard syncs with your Google Reader or other RSS accounts and displays your feed in an attractive magazine-like interface. It makes what you’re reading look professional and serious, when really you’re just trying to figure out what Ashley wore on The Bachelorette.

    3. Blogsy. £4.99. Rating: 4.
    One of the main reasons I got an iPad was for blogging while I travel. After researching available tools, Blogsy seems far and away the best blogging app. It syncs with a variety of blogging platforms as well as image hosts like Picasa and Flickr. I use it with my self-hosted WordPress blog. It has a moderate learning curve, but after figuring out some of the tricks you can upload and insert images, insert links that you copy from the built-in browser, and of course draft posts. Many capabilities are missing though — I haven’t seen an option for image captions and you can’t browse your WordPress media library (which is apparently WordPress’s fault, not Blogsy’s). The screen capture above shows what drafting this post looks like on Blogsy. It’s a very slow-going process, but I’m pleasantly surprised with the capabilities that Blogsy does have.

    4. ArtStudio. £2.99 (on sale). Rating: 5.

    I’m no artist, so I won’t be doing with my iPad some of the amazing things that real artists have done. Being able to just draw for fun, though, is surprisingly one of my favourite things about the iPad. ArtStudio gives you a variety of tools and brushes for drawing or “painting” pictures. (There’s a “wet paint” brush that I need to practice with but has totally cool capabilities.) You can pick the image size and then save to your camera roll for uploading and emailing, or just email your masterpiece directly from the app. It also has photo editing tools, which I haven’t tried out yet.

    5. Note Taker HD. £4.99. Rating: 3.

    People love this handwritten note-taking app, so my low-ish rating is probably uninformed and premature. My rating reflects that it’s somewhat complicated to get the full use of, and I have a short attention span. Also, this is probably no reflection of the app itself but rather on taking handwritten notes on the iPad in general, but I find that you have to press down really hard with the stylus to effectively handwrite. Which makes it kind of slow-going and arduous. The wrist guard is not 100% fool-proof, either — and it would be really tiring to not rest your wrist against the iPad while you write. I had high hopes for using my iPad to take handwritten notes, but I think in this respect the iPad is falling short of expectations.

    6. Calendars. £6.99. Rating: 2.

    Calendars is a Google Calendars app for iPhone and iPad. It does what it claims, but it’s overpriced. It also lacks many of the features of Google Calendars (which is to be expected, of course). Also, this is nitpicky, but I really dislike the app icon. They could have made it prettier!

    * * *

    I’ll be getting my favourite apps for the iPhone on my iPad as well — Yelp,Times Crosswords, and Kindle. I actually already downloaded Kindle (finished reading Bossypants on it by Tina Fey — great read) and love it. I’ll be testing out a portable keyboard soon as well.

    If you have an iPad or were thinking about getting one, I hope you found this helpful. Share apps and tools that you love or hate in the comments!

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  • What’s Your Equipment?

    Posted on 20/10/2014 by | 0 comments

    I’m curious about what computers and gadgets readers have at home, as opposed to at work. I have an HP laptop and an iPhone. I’ve recently been thinking about buying a desktop computer for doing blog-related work at home–they have more processing power for less money than laptops, more “bang for your buck.” I’m also tired of creating graphics on a tiny screen using a trackpad.

    At the same time, though, I’m reluctant to spend more money on technology for home use. It seems strange to have three computers for my own use–one at work, and a laptop and desktop at home. Also, I don’t have a smartphone at work, but I know people who have two smartphones–a Blackberry for work, and an iPhone for home. But they carry both around!

    So, what do you guys do? Do you spend money to make your home high-tech, or do you leave it to your employer to decide how technologically advanced your life will be?

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  • Free Exercise Routines for Your iPod

    Posted on 07/10/2014 by | 0 comments

    I’m so excited about these free workouts-to-go from Women’s Health magazine — simply download them to your iPod or iPhone, and it’s like you have your own personal trainer at the gym with you (minus the £100/hour fee).

    The “Evangeline Lilly Workout” looks enticing. I never watched Lost, but even I know that she has arms to die for.

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    Posted on 05/10/2014 by | 0 comments

    The post title doesn’t lie: There is an app designed to streamline your call-out-sick-for-work experience when you’re not really sick at all. It’s called Skiver and it’s available on Android.

    I’m not going to lie, I’ve falsely called out sick for work before. It seems like a lot of others have too, based on the comments to this post.

    So, what does the app offer? Glad you asked!

    Skiver allows users to select how many days off they fancy, delivers a selection of plausible illnesses and even lists symptoms to ensure the user has a full cover story to spin to their boss. There is even a pre-filled email function that can be sent directly to a user’s boss to inform them of their absence.

    I think it’s rare these days that anyone at work inquires what you’re ill with when you call out sick — I think people generally observe that health issues are personal. But if your boss or coworkers are particularly nosy, this app lends you a helping hand.

    Would you use this app?

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    Posted on 03/10/2014 by | 0 comments

    On the heels of my last post about budgeting for food-related expenses, I thought I’d post about a practice I recently took up that’s also a money-saver. I discovered that you can tap into Amazon’s large selection of free classic books developed for Kindle, without purchasing a Kindle. Just download the free app created for your device, and you have thousands of free books at your fingertips.

    I downloaded the Kindle app on my iPhone, and I started reading Tess of the D’Urbervilles — for free. Other free classics include Pride & Prejudice, Crime and Punishment, Agatha Christie mysteries, and Emily Dickinson poems. Even more modern books by Ayn Rand and F. Scott Fitzgerald are free to download.

    I use Kindle for iPhone to read on the train, waiting in line, or in bed before falling asleep — without spending a penny.

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    Posted on 01/10/2014 by | 0 comments



    One day, a woman decided she wouldn’t take public harassment anymore. This was after a man crossed a crowded subway car to stand near her and rub against her leg. Horrifying.

    Hollaback!, an organization founded in 2005 to combat street harassment. The organization encourages women to speak out about this type of harassment, because “it is rarely reported, and it’s culturally accepted.”

    Hollaback! released an iPhone app, that lets users report harassment in real time. Their experiences are logged and mapped.

    This is fantastic. Even if the reporting doesn’t deter harassers, it will at least shed some publicity on the prevalence of street harassment.

    At least one municipality is taking the hint — New York subway trains now announce via a recording that a crowded subway car is no excuse for illegal touching.

    What’s your take?

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