Tag Archives: Tech Savvy

And Then There Were None

Ain’t technology grand?  I had two laptops.  Yes, two.  One, a full size model, many years old with many, many miles.  As Fred Byrd, a Used Car Manager I worked with years ago said about a car I traded in, and it certainly would have applied here, “Well, you certainly have enjoyed your car.”  The other is a much newer, handy little light weight, very portable model.  In a matter of days, I had NO working computers.  And I have been used to always having technology at my finger tips.

So here’s how it went:  The old one had been running slower and slower.  Finally, it just didn’t want to work at all.  Oh, it would “boot up,” but that’s as far as it would go.  Later, a trip to the Geek Squad, who said “patience” was key (and all my patience has never gotten me any further with it) convinced me that it was time for a new computer.

What happened to the other one?  A mistake on my part, and one I want to share with you in hopes that I can prevent any of you from making a similar one, became an expensive lesson.  See, I accidentally deleted a couple of emails I thought were real important at the time, so I started on a mission to try to retrieve them.  It’s a long story involving my Gmail, my iPhone, Apple Tech Support, and what I thought from a Google search, was a bonafide Microsoft help desk that could help me.  The result was a very long lecture showing me, after I trustingly gave him control of my screen, that I had been hacked and someone in like Nebraska somewhere was accessing my computer.  Oh, they could help me get it cleared up alright, with a $400 commitment to use their security program.  Funny, I hadn’t had any trouble with this laptop until I called the number for help.  After what seemed like hours, I finally extricated myself from his clutches.  The next time I started my cute little “extra” laptop, I had an error message telling me an application was open on my computer and to call the number on my screen to resolve the problem.  I couldn’t get rid of it and I couldn’t open any programs.  What was the number you may ask?  Why, it was the number I had called for help of course.  I have now come to learn about “ransomware.”  Thence, the trip to the Geek Squad with two defunct laptops in hand.

The ransomed laptop was an inexpensive one, for sure, and I was able to get it “wiped,” but to the tune of about half what I paid for it when I bought it.  Yeah, I could have just given it up, but I REALLY wanted that bunch out of my world completely.  I did sign up for some security and tech support for this and up to about five more computers, which I will def apply to my new one.

This brings me to the next step…

So many choices!  I looked at so many laptops – I had to take photos to help me remember which I thought I might like (and could afford).  Did I want Intel or AMD, and what was the difference?  Did I really need a 15.6 inch screen again or would 14 inches do?  Oh yeah, and then there’s touch-screen or not.  How about a 2-in-1 versus a “regular” laptop?  You probably already knew this, but this one, I learned, converts to a tablet.  The list goes on.  And the price goes up.  I sure hadn’t planned on or budgeted for a new computer, but like everyone, I depend on it so much.

I’ve opted for the smaller 2-in-1 for now and, so far, I do like the touch-screen.  I have 90 days to decide for sure, one of the joys of being a COSTCO member.  Best Buy only gives you two weeks to change your mind.  Technology really is grand, I suppose, when it works.

About Jan Schim

Jan is a singer, a songwriter, a licensed body worker specializing in CranioSacral Therapy, and a teacher.  She is an advocate for the ethical treatment of ALL animals and a volunteer with several animal advocacy organizations.  She is also a staunch believer in the need to promote environmental responsibility.

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Keeping up with Mileage


Tax deductions, we all need them, right? For many of us, miles driven for business are deductible on our tax returns. According to the IRS, beginning on Jan. 1, 2016, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be 54 cents per mile for business miles driven, down from 57.5 cents for 2015. 19 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, down from 23 cents for 2015.

An easier way to document miles is right here on our smartphone. I recently learned about this helpful app from The Rayna Corporation’s Lori Gonzalez (thank you). Lori seems to have a shortcut for just about any business task. It’s good to know people like her. The application, MILEIQ, downloadable from Google Play or The APP Store, has automatic drive detection; making it easy to capture every mile I drive – yes, automatically. Every drive can have a purpose; “a swipe is all it takes.” I will mark them as business, personal, medical, charity or any custom category I wish to label. I can log any additional details that will be needed for reporting mileage expenses to any specific job or simply mark for two categories: business and pleasure. Deducting mileage for my art business will be easy to prove. Since the IRS requires you keep a log when you are taking the deduction, there will be a lot less effort in documenting from now on.

Anything that makes life easier, and every dollar counts, right?

About Renee Bates

Renee is an artist focused on growing a newfound ability to express herself through oil painting, recently leaving her role as executive director of the non-profit, Greenways for Nashville. Renee is inspired by nature and enjoys hiking, birding, and the garden. She contributes to HerSavvy, a blog featuring writings from a group of well-informed women wishing to share their support and experience with others. Married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, enjoying flora and fauna is a family affair.

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The Other Side of the Couch – Speaking Tech

Locked Computer

Are you a digital native or an immigrant to the land of technology?

If you were born after 1987, you are most likely a digital native. You have grown up with technology and have little resistance to it.  You do it naturally, without a lot of thought.  If you are a digital immigrant, many things about technology can be overwhelming.  As the millennials grow up and move into the job market, more and more experiences require computer savvy.  If you want to apply for a job, you will most likely have to do so online.  If you want to find a phone number, forget about finding a phone book.  Need to apply for Medicare or social security?  Most help is found online.  Many of the day-to-day activities that used to be done through mail or through written application processes are not even available in these forms.

How do all of these changes affect professional counselors and other mental health professionals?

In a word, profoundly!  Technological familiarity is now often required to submit insurance forms, to sign up for conferences, to maintain awareness of changes in the field.  Journals which once were delivered through the mail now are delivered through digital means.   Practitioners have a wide variety of information sources available, but also can be overwhelmed with the sheer volume of information flooding in-boxes.

The most significant changes that are affecting the mental health field are those related to issues of confidentiality and informed consent.  Confidentiality is the bedrock foundation on which the counseling relationship rests.  Anything that threatens confidentiality is a threat to both the client and the counselor.  Confidentiality requires very careful attention to any possibility of breach.  However, many individuals, both counselors and clients, are very used to using emails and texting in order to quickly and efficiently reach others.

How do professional counselors handle these issues?  The most important method is through informed consent – that is, through explaining the issues that relate to the use of emails/texting and social media to clients as soon as a counseling relationship is begun.  Professional counselors are urged through their ethical standards to maintain a social media and technology policy and to explain it to clients.  Counselors are also encouraged to use encrypted programs in sending and receiving emails or texts, if they actually agree to do so (some counselors do not).

Telehealth or telemedicine is another emerging area of concern.  Suppose I am a counselor in Tennessee and a client in another state finds my website (another necessity for current practice) and wants to work with me through a video platform.  First, unless I am licensed in the state where the client is, I cannot work with the client.  Second, if I am licensed in that state, I must use a video platform that is HIPAA-compliant (Skype is not).  Third, I must be knowledgeable concerning the resources in that client’s area in case of emergency.  Fourth, I must have enough ability to work with technology to be able to access the client through another means if for some reason the video bridge fails at a crucial moment.

Technology is both an incredible blessing and a huge burden.  My immigrant ability to speak tech is improving, but I will never be as adept at it as are millennials.  Nonetheless, I will keep trying, because it is where the world is going.

What are your stories about technology?  How do you manage the digital world?  I would love to hear about it.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP:

Susan is a communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, and proud native Nashvillian. She has been in private practice for over 30 years. As she says, “I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts.”  Contact Susan at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com

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Artist Tech

Renee's Tomatoes

Spineless? Never!, 8” x 10” oil, © Renée Bates

As a painter, I use technology for capturing the light, or a moment in time.  I work as a plein air and studio painter.  Plein air is a term defined as pertaining to a manner or style of painting developed chiefly in France in the mid-19th century, characterized by the representation of the luminous effects of natural light and atmosphere as contrasted with the artificial light and absence of the sense of air or atmosphere associated with paintings produced in the studio.  Plein air can also be defined as designating a painting executed out of doors and representing a direct response to the scene or subject in front of the artist.  Lastly, a plein air painting is defined as having the qualities of air and natural light.

The business of “chasing the light,” as the sun moves across a scene, can make an artist crazy or in the least, make for a poor painting.  The “values,” or light and dark bits, are what make the thing read, even more than the color.  If you cannot capture it all quickly, you will lay out a painting, work it for a bit, then take a photograph and finish in the studio.  Technology is most helpful here.  The artist of former centuries had to work fast, or they had photographic memories.

I am probably most grateful for cell phones with quality cameras. A photography instructor recently said, “The best camera is the one you have with you.”  True. I regularly capture wildlife shots and beautiful horticulture with my phone camera. While it doesn’t get great detail at far distances, it does afford me many action shots.

When setting up plein air, I will often look through the lens at a scene for scale or, take a photograph and use the cropping tool to decide how I want to lay it out on canvas.  Back at the studio, with Photoshop and similar software, I will sometimes punch up the color in an image, or blur it for a more impressionistic effect.  I will work from a print or use the computer monitor to view as my source. I like to blow up flowers with the cropping software to achieve an abstract view.

When a painting is nearly there, I will take a photograph to see how well I have communicated with the lights and darks, and I’ll always find areas that need tweaking.

Using photos to electronically market on websites and social media is current practice for most artists.  The technology with these platforms has improved dramatically in the last couple of years.  I created a website in just eight hours.  I look forward to seeing how much better technology will be in five years.

About Renee Bates

Renee is an artist focused on growing a newfound ability to express herself through oil painting, recently leaving her role as executive director of the non-profit Greenways for Nashville to pursue art and product development.  Renee likes being in nature, hiking, birding, and working in the garden. Married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, a 3rd generation business begun in 1932. Renee admires the fact that it was begun by a savvy woman, Bessie Bates.  Renee’s art may be enjoyed from her website or followed on Facebook.

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How Technology Changed My Job


I remember being afraid of the first computer I used because I had to learn DOS with the little green cursor and the backslashes and forward slashes.  The system didn’t automatically save your document or prompt you to save it so I stuck a stickie note reminder to the side of the monitor.

Everything was printed on a flimsy dot-matrix printer and then mailed, couriered or faxed.  Faxes printed on slick paper that left black ink smudges on your clothes before curling up, turning yellow and becoming illegible.

I wasn’t sure I would like the new tech world, but soon the dreadful DOS was replaced with a desktop computer with Word Perfect.  I’ve always preferred Word Perfect over Microsoft Word because it was friendlier to writers.  Alas, Microsoft Word became ubiquitous and Word Perfect went the way of the dinosaurs.

Word Perfect was just an early example of all the changes technology has made to my job.  Many of the jobs I held early in my career, like hand delivering pleadings to the court clerk’s office for filing, have become irrelevant due to technology.  Most courts now require pleadings to be filed electronically.

But for every loss, technology had offered so much more. For example, email and text messaging eliminates the old phone tag game of trying to connect with colleagues or clients.  It also lowered the cost of starting a business.  Early in my career, a business owner needed to rent (or own) office space, furnish it, and hire staff.  The business owner also needed a telephone line obtained at great cost from the local baby Bell monopoly, a clunky desk top computer, a printer, a copier, and a fax machine.  A coffee maker was also a critical piece of office equipment.

Almost none of that is necessary today.  When I started my consulting business about five years ago, technology allowed me to work from a home office and use my cell phone as my business number.  My cell phone also allows me to text and email clients.  I get coffee at coffee shops when meeting prospects or clients.

I run my business with a laptop and a combined printer/copier/scanner.  My clients attach documents to email or we use cloud-based services like Google Docs or Dropbox to share documents on-line.  I save documents electronically and only occasionally print them.  A drawback to electronic databases is trying to remember my clever title for the file folder and document that I so diligently saved.

Of course, it’s not all a paradise.  Technology allows hackers and fraudsters to try to crack our on-line treasure troves of information, so any small business must invest in cyber security to protect its information and reputation.  Still, I wouldn’t want to go back to the days before all our modern technology.  Without all these modern conveniences, I would still find it necessary to be an employee in a big corporation because the investment costs of starting a business would simply be too high.

About Norma Shirk

Norma started her company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, to help employers create human resources policies for their employees and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to have structure without bureaucracy. Visit Norma’s website: www.complianceriskadvisor.com/.

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How Journalism is Evolving in a Tech Savvy World

Tech News

Just before I began journalism school, nearly 20 years ago, I attended an orientation for new students.  I was seated at a table with the Dean, an award-winning print and broadcast journalist, who asked me point blank if I thought newspapers were eventually going to disappear.  “I certainly hope not,” I answered, “I can’t imagine not starting my day with a cup of coffee and a newspaper.”  Indeed, the Internet was in its infancy, cell phones were tiny, laptops were big and bulky and analog video was still the reigning format for TV news.

But the writing was on the wall (no pun intended) and our university had just created a cutting edge, high tech program for incoming students called “Online Journalism.”  The younger undergrads and my young grad school classmates flocked to the program, eager to learn this new technology.  But me, I wanted no part of it.  I had waited a long time to pursue my passion for journalism and I was determined to rely on traditional, time honored, reporting methods.  In fact, I continued to take notes and do my writing in long hand in a spiral notebook.

Those that don’t evolve are soon left behind and after much teasing by my 20-something classmates, I taught myself to compose my assignments on my computer.  When the school built a multi-million dollar state of the art digital newsroom, I registered for classes to learn how to navigate the world of digital news reporting.  I actually enjoyed the process and was pretty good at editing.

Imagine my surprise when my first job after grad school, at a local public radio station, required me to learn how to record on and edit reel-to-reel tape!  The 50-year-old station still hadn’t upgraded to the digital technology I’d worked so hard to learn.  But in time, they also made the switch.

These days, my tools of the trade are all contained in my IPhone.  I can take notes, record, edit and upload stories to the cloud, all from a device that fits in my pocket and weighs a few ounces.  Both audio and video quality is sharp and I can produce stories anywhere at any time.  Rather than wait in a newsroom for an assignment or a call from a source, I can be on the job all the time, anywhere.  The news cycle is now 24 hours and the churn is never ending.

So how has this new digital world affected the profession of journalism itself?  Here the waters are much murkier.  Questions about what is news and who is a journalist are much more complicated now that pretty much anyone with a phone or a laptop can record and report on events.  And the quality and quantity of product also raises questions about what is news and what is entertainment.  There are more podcasts, blogs, vlogs and online programming than can be counted, and the numbers grow exponentially.  The simple question about the survival of newspapers seems quaint in today’s world where even venerable publications have laid off print staff in favor of bloggers, podcasters and online producers.  Is this bad?  I’m not sure.  The world is both expanding and shrinking as new technology connects us all in ways we never dreamed of when I started school.

What’s up ahead?  It’s unclear where this digital revolution is taking us.  My hope is that whether through formal education or trial and error, there will always be those people who are our eyes and ears throughout the world; people with integrity who can report honestly and fairly, shine a light on events and be a watchdog, a voice for those who have no voice.  For whatever form it takes, that is the mission of good journalism and there is no substitute.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Check it out at http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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