Be Prepared For The Next Weather Emergency

Ever since Sandy hit last Monday, I have been thinking about what our home should be equipped with in case of another emergency. I know that it is difficult to think about but we now know we have to take precautions. I combed lots of websites and publications to find the right answers and then I stumbled on exactly what I was looking for in a story in Mashable, a leading tech blog. I wanted to share the products they recommended.

Gas-Powered Space Heater, no electricity,required.

Jump starts your car battery back to life.

Loksak makes an airtight, waterproof bag in a variety of sizes to protect value gadgets.

The Camelbak’s All Clear water bottle uses solar power to purify your drinking water.

This portable solar charger can power your cell phone twice.

Mophie’s iPhone case keeps your phone charged up to 36 hours longer.

This external battery charger from Energizer can charge multiple devices at once and can add approximately six hours of laptop use.

Check out this solar power radio with a backup hand-crank and a flashlight.

Hands free headlamps have become very popular because you can see in the dark and others can now see you.

Presidential Debate Generated 10 Million Tweets

The difference between the senior generation and those in their 20s, 30s and even 40s, is that by the time the Presidential debate was over, the under 50-crowd knew exactly how well each candidate did. I didn’t, because I wasn’t on Twitter. I had to wait for the analysts and news reporters to tell me how the entire debate played out. I had my own ideas but i was clueless what others thought.

Not the Twitter crowd. They were tweeting away within their own Twitter circles making remarks about everything from the color of the candidate’s ties, to their haircuts, body posture, eyeball action, and of course, remarks. President Barack Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney generated 10 million tweets, which made it the most tweeted political event ever.  CNET, a tech blog, reported that the issues and the fact-checking as each candidate made his statement, got the most tweets.  The two biggies were Obamacare and Medicare. Many gave their disapproval of Jim Lehrer. Some tweets where cheering Jim on to close down the debates until the candidates stuck to the rules.

The wonderful thing about Twitter is that it got the younger crowd very involved in the Presidential race, something that was never a draw before. Twitter allowed them to micro blog, so they could actually report the news. They also gave their opinions as the comments were being made. A lot of educators believe that interaction on Twitter  engages and teaches more than sitting idly by in a classroom.

It comes as no surprise that the biggest Twitter star was Big Bird from “Sesame Street.” CNET reports that  there were more than a quarter of a million Tweets calling out the Bird after Governor Romney said that he would cut Federal Funding for PBS.

Mashable, another major online tech newsletter, reported that even teens got in on the act through their mobile devices. Some tweeted, but a lot were texting. Yesteryear, most young folks didn’t even know who was running for office. Now half of young adults, 18 to 24, said they have been involved in Presidential discussions. That is good news considering 16.8 million teens become eligible to vote in this election.

I’m Curious, Martha

No one can ever accuse me of being a Martha Stewart groupie. I don’t cook, clean, bake, garden, or create floral boutiques out of cauliflower.

I do, however, think of Martha often because of a short but impactful conversation I had with her on the way to the Consumer Electronics Show many years ago. I spotted her at JFK airport walking alone down an aisle pulling her wheelie.

I asked her why she was traveling without an entourage. She was surprised by my question. “I am just a ‘working girl’ going to CES to seek out the latest in innovation.” In just the few minutes we spoke, Martha admitted to me she was driven by her “curious” mind.

I instantly became very jealous of her. She was “curious” and was doing something about it. How many of us get “curious” about a topic and never do anything?

Now some 20 years later, Martha is still as “curious” as ever. She is in her late 60s but seems ageless as she keeps reinventing herself over and over. She showed up this weekend to give a keynote speech at Blogher, a 5,000 mom, garden and food blogger conference in New York City.

A friend of mine, Andrea Smith, a lifestyle writer for Mashable, a tech blog, interviewed Martha about her life in social media. I am going to share it with you so click here.

“I love Twitter,” Martha told the crowd. “It just made sense to me.”

In addition to being a whiz on Twitter, Martha Stewart has amassed a huge following on Pinterest, with more than 80,000 followers. Andrea asked her, “So how does the master of all things domestic also master the digital?” Please watch the video to find out.

Cell Phone Madness

I had another topic that I was going to write about today, but I am going to skip that to talk about cell phone etiquette. I just came up in the elevator in my office building and had to listen to a gal in her 20s who was was projecting her voice into her cell phone like she was auditioning for a Broadway show. Not only that, but the topic was so intimate I was shocked she would discuss it in public. The young woman was talking to her mother about some female infection she had.

Quite frankly, I felt she had invaded my privacy. Elevator rides should be a “quiet zone” or at least a “whisper zone.” We are all in close quarters and do not need someone else screaming in our ears. I truly feel I am turning into Andy Rooney, cranky and intolerant. I know it is my age.

So while I was on this rage rant, I called up a few friends in the tech business and did some research on Mashable, the tech blog, to see if anyone else feels the way I do about “cell phone” madness. These are my results. The first few come from Mashable and the balance are from the business friends I contacted.

1. Avoid Sensitive Topics in Public
The person next to you at the airport really doesn’t want to hear about the ups-and-downs of your dating life, and revealing the details of that big business deal in the works could get you fired if it’s overheard by the wrong person. Either walk to a secluded location or let your caller know you’ll call back when it’s possible to talk in private.

2. You Don’t Have to Google Everything
Don’t be the person who whips out his or her phone to settle an argument by looking up a disputed fact on Google. While it’s nice to finally be able to settle barstool debates in real time, avoid the urge to look everything up on your phone.

3. Stop Pulling Out Your Phone at Social Events
Avoid making calls at the gym, or, better yet, leave your phone in your locker. The same goes for social gatherings, including the dinner table. Put your phone on silent and put it away for the duration of the meal. A note to my relatives and friends from Digidame: Even though I place my mobile phone on the table at a restaurant when dining with you, it doesn’t mean that you can accuse me of being rude. My business is all about constant editorial deadlines, so I quickly check my email twice during dinner to see if I have to answer some member of the press. I try to do this discretely. I would say that I rarely get urgent after-hours emails or calls, but it does happen. My job is to monitor urgent matters or deals that have to get done. I wish I could say the same thing for friends of mine who are constantly checking their emails for social reasons on my time.

4. Don’t Leave a Voicemail
This is a Mashable notation. News to me too! These days, no one likes receiving voicemails. The next time you can’t reach someone by phone, try the Gentleman’s Maneuver: Hang up before the beep and send a text instead. Chances are you’ll get a response more quickly.

5. No More Talking on the Toilet
Don’t take your phone into the bathroom. A recent survey of 1,000 iPhone users revealed that nearly 85% have used their phone while in the bathroom. Not only is this unsanitary and risky for your device, but it’s also off-putting to callers to hear a telltale echo or a sudden rush of water.

6. Stop Posting Pictures On Facebook While Power Walking With Friends
A friend of mine said she gets so frustrated when she gets into a power zone only to get interrupted by a friend who just happened to see something he has to take a picture of. Not only does he stop to take the photo, but then he immediately posts it on Facebook. This action ruins the entire purpose of power walking with friends. I can think of friends who do that constantly when in a group just strolling along. Several of us have to stop and wait for the person who is a block behind us.

7. Do Not Talk To Friends While In The Company Of Other Friends
This complaint comes from a Chicago buddy who says that every time one of his pals picks him up in his car so they can ride together, he is usually engaged in a conversation. He has to sit there quietly alone until that person gets off the phone. He said he wanted to take his own car in the first place, but the friend insisted they ride together. What was the point?

8.Do Not Walk Away From Your Cell Phone
This pet peeve was told to me this morning by one of my clients. He hates when people visit his office or country home and they leave their cell phone on his desk or kitchen table when they go to the bathroom, go outside, or go talk to someone else in the vicinity. He finds himself constantly being interrupted by the other person’s phone ringing no less than eight times before voice mail goes into action. He feels like it is such an intrusion on his privacy.

If you have any other pointers be sure to leave them in the comment section. We are all in this together and none of us are innocent.

NBC and IOC Get An “F” In Social Media Skills

I am not sure what NBC and the International Olympics Committee were thinking this weekend, but many high profile, online digital writers kept posting stories about how aggravated they were with the TV broadcast time delay from London. Mashable and Tech Crunch, considered to be the Bibles of the digital world, were among the first to write editorials on what they considered to be a major communications faux paux.

The main complaint being, Twitter and Facebook users from Europe were posting up-to-the-minute news from the ground or from their TV sets — Americans were watching outdated TV information about competitions that already took place. One prime example was Ryan Seacrest’s interview with Michael Phelps about how prepared he was for the first swim competition. He had already lost!

Members of the media felt NBC delayed their broadcast so that their advertisers would get the biggest audiences in the evening. The Internet marketing gurus felt they should have broadcast the Olympics live, then replayed it again in the evening for the prime time crowd.

Another insult to the digital world was the Olympic videos posted to the YouTube site by spectators at the live events for everyone in other time zones to see. Many blog sites and newspapers picked up those videos for their own use (a common and acceptable practice) only to find out minutes later that they were gone and replaced by the following message,“This video contains content from the International Olympic Committee, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.”

Tech Crunch reported “While most of the rest of the world — or at least Europe — was watching the ceremony live, U.S. audiences were held hostage by NBC, which holds the rights to the games here. Rather than broadcasting the biggest event of the Games live as it happened, NBC decided it would air the ceremony on a tape delay, to capture a larger overall audience.”

Tech Crunch also pointed out that there is nothing new about tape delays, however, “they do seem archaic at a time when online video and social media bring an air of immediacy to live events. The existence of the NBC Olympics Twitter account is evidence of this, but the account seems totally misused in this case: NBC live tweeted the whole ceremony, with no apparent sense of irony around the fact that its target audience couldn’t actually watch the events it was describing. Instead of building excitement around the ceremony, and engaging with its viewers, all NBC ended up doing was frustrating its audience —the people who care most about watching the thing.”

A Mashable Op-Ed piece said, “NBC and the IOC’s attempt to control the flow of content and information failed almost immediately as participants and audience members started tweeting and Instagramming and, worse yet, at least one website started streaming pristine video live from the event.” Here’s what really galls me. A major portion of the opening ceremony festivities was devoted to a tribute for the Internet and social networking. It was all about how the Internet connects us and lets us communicate, how social media influences our lives. To illustrate, the IOC used the charming story of a young couple meeting and then using a variety of digital and social media to stay connected. The IOC hammered home the message by featuring — Tim Berners-Lee. The father of the Internet.”

Amazing how all of the big guns, especially the social media department at NBC, couldn’t or wouldn’t predict this snafu. As Tech Crunch says in their headline, “Stupid, stupid, stupid.”

Spider-Like iPhone 5 Design ????

The famous tech blog site, Mashable, gives us a glimpse into “possible” future iPhone (and other smartphones) designs. Instead of a touchscreen slab that’s held in the palm of your hand, imagine the “iPhone 5 with a new curved design that’s actually worn on the back of your hand.

To see more click here




I have to admit this in the first line of my post. I listen to audiobooks. I listen to them on my iPhone, iPad and iPod, whatever device is accessible at the time.  It has changed my life. I never would have experienced James Michener, Mark Twain, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Walter Issacson, Stephen King and lately, Joyce Carol Oates, if I didn’t belong to Audible and other audio book clubs. You can poo poo me all you want. I can hear you now, “There is nothing like sitting down with a book and reading it yourself page after page.”  Let’s not get into a discussion about printed books versus eBooks at this time. We can save that for another discussion.  Yes, reading a book with your own interpretation and visual sense is a very satisfying and rewarding experience. I still read books and I also read several newspapers each day (okay maybe peruse). Also, six online blogs (Huffington Post, Mashable, AllThingsD, The Daily Beast, CNET, Tech Crunch) and countless news, entertainment and specialty magazines. There isn’t enough hours in the day to cover all this, do my job, shower, dress, make phone calls, see friends, exercise, watch TV or a movie, read and post on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

However, there is always time for an audiobook. I listen while I am on the treadmill (yes I know it doesn’t show), in the car, the subway, on a flight to wherever, waiting for my doctor, a business appointment that is always late, in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep, when I knit, on the beach, in the park and during long walks. It is just marvelous. It is a different kind of experience than reading the book yourself. Frankly, I think you capture more. You hear stuff your eyes can’t capture, especially from the authors who read their books themselves. I remember when I listened to Harry Markopolos reading “No One Would Listen, A True Financial Thriller.” That was his book about trying to get the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to take a meeting with him so he could expose Bernie Madoff. I almost fell off the treadmill when I listened to the part about his paranoia that Bernie was going to have him killed. He bought a gun, barricaded his home and was always on the lookout for thugs.  I was laughing a little too much. What was very serious to Harry was somehow humorous to me, since we all know that Harry was not even on Bernie’s radar screen most of the time. I don’t think you could have picked this up through the written word. Maybe, but it was pretty remarkable hearing Harry describe his emotions.

I also don’t feel I would have grabbed the highs and lows of what Joyce Carol Oates describes in her book “A Widow’s Story,” the immediate experiences of widowhood. I felt her 13 months of pain, anguish, terror and depression. Very few authors write like Oates. She describes peeling an onion like an exhilarating experience. You don’t want to miss a word. I tried reading her in the past, but didn’t have the patience to comprehend what she had to offer. I can do it now because I’ve learned to appreciate her every word. I was so involved in her story, that I got very upset when I found out that she had remarried  13 months later, but had left that out of the book. Her publisher defends her in a story in the New York Times, saying that her subsequent life had nothing to do with what she went through after the death of her husband, Raymond Smith. Hmmm!

I can go on and on about the virtues of listening to an audio book, but I have gone way beyond the limits of how long a blog post should be. Tomorrow I will tell you about the intricacies of belonging to an audio book club and other personal experiences I’ve had listening to James Michener and even,  I hate to admit, Steven Tyler.




For some reason, many members of the senior generation are totally oblivious as to what is happening in newspaper reporting. I have heard some say that their favorite reporters are no longer with the publications they religiously read. They think it has something to do with the economy. That is partially true. However, the accurate explanation is that the Internet has changed the dynamics of writing. Many of the old timers just couldn’t or wouldn’t keep up with the structural changes needed for digital reporting. All of a sudden editors wanted shorter stories, less background checks and fewer explanations.

There was fierce competition from something called a blog. Blogs were free flowing essays from a new breed of young writers who wrote whatever they wanted, whenever and wherever. They didn’t have fact checkers, copy editors or bosses breathing down their necks with non-relevant assignments. At first, bloggers were shunned from press events and front row seats. It took a few years, but a good number of them from the world of tech, financial, fashion and beauty, became more important to their industries than the writers who were covering them for 20 or 30 years. They had the freedom to flex their muscles and they took every advantage of it. Unlike their predecessors, they learned the tricks of digital reporting that allowed them new avenues of exposure and networking.

Today stories are no longer about who, what, where, why and how.  They are all about the three C’s: created content, contributed content and collected content. Bloggers no longer have to cover every element of a story to make a point. They just use the three C’s as I am about to do. Instead of posting hundreds of words of copy to underscore what I am talking about,  I am going to share a link with you that will  that will give you further details on this topic. Hopefully someday someone will use my copy (link) to fill out their story.


The minute someone over 55 sees a gray hair, a wrinkle, a dark spot, or even a dimple someplace on their body where they have not seen it before, they want to cover it up immediately.  Why is it not the same way with their tech habits?

Many of the nearly 80 million baby boomers (many of them have turned 65 this year) and older seniors are exposing their tech naivety on almost a daily basis. I am not saying that this pertains to every senior person, but it certainly does to many.  I make my fair share of mistakes too, but I have a group of young techies around me constantly that point out my blunders every chance they get.

I wanted to address these fairly simple errors because if we correct them on a united front, then maybe we can achieve the respect we deserve.  As Mashable, one of the best tech blogs, recently pointed out, “As boomers confront old age,” they will certainly defy what we think it means to “get old.” It will challenge us to rethink how we use the web and how we engage older people with newer technologies.

Here is a list of absolute no no’s:

  1. Do not copy your entire email list in the “To” space.  That is what “Bcc” is for.  If you are sending out an email to multiple people who do not know each other, you must blind copy.  Most people do not want their email exposed to strangers.  I recently received an email with Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer and Arianna Huffington copied on it. Do you really think those gals want me to have their email address?  Ha! Don’t answer that.
  2. Just because you are retired and have nothing else to do, don’t send out jokes several times a day, every day, with the subject, “I usually don’t send out jokes but this one is really funny.”   Chances are someone else sent around those jokes already.  I have to clear out my inbox everyday from a certain someone who used to be the CEO of a major company.  He sends out about 20 to 30 jokes a day, even on high holy days.  I don’t have the heart to tell him to stop because he is such a wonderful guy. I picture him sitting at his computer day and night with his trigger finger ready to go.
  3. The one that makes you look like you died or just faded away is your Facebook page without your picture.  Many seniors want to join the world of social media, but just want to test it.  Either you jump in and engage, or delete your account.  You look like you are missing in action.  Some older people have told me that they only joined so they can follow their grandchildren.  Bad move. If they find out that is your main purpose, they know how to de-friend you and you will not know the difference.
  4. Please don’t tell people you don’t check your emails on a frequent basis even if it is true.  You sound like you are telling them you don’t take a shower every day. The Internet is all about instantaneous access.  You should be checking your email everyday or several times a day. To those that say “but no one emails me so why should I be checking.” I answer no one is sending you a check everyday, yet you wait for the mailman like it is your last meal.
  5. When someone sends you and others an email don’t “reply to all” unless your message is that important that others have to see it.  There is nothing worse than 10 people saying “You’re welcome” to the same person.  I make the same mistake when I get a text from my brother because the multiple names are hidden. My nephew Sam is always looking out for me, letting me know the faux pas I committed.   I am much sharper about my responses now.
  6. This is the worst and I want to scream bloody murder when someone forwards an email to me with pages and pages of lists of email addresses that have received the message already.  Why aren’t you cutting and pasting?  All you have to do is “forward” and delete the names of people who were previously copied. Why is it my responsibility to search through pages and pages of email addresses before I get to the content that you wanted me to read?  Honestly, I just delete these emails.  I can’t be bothered anymore.

I hope I am being helpful.  To quote Mashable, “The Boomer generation isn’t just big—it’s made up of people who think and act differently than previous generations.” This means we are suave, sophisticated and savvy.  We have a reputation to uphold.