Show your parents you care – tech style

It’s highly likely that many of you, like me, are responsible for technical support of your families’ computer systems and internet connection.

googfooter.pngEarlier today I found a great little microsite (by Google) that’ll help you support your parents with their online issues.

http://www.teachparentstech.org/ is the site that helps you build a friendly little email and bundles links to appropriate self-help videos.

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Obviously this won’t address every question they’ve got, but it does:

  • Get them using email (they’ll need to in order to view the message)
  • Get them watching online videos through a browser
  • Teach them how to do something to customize their computing experience
  • Give them a sense of accomplishment and independence as they use new tech.

Here’s what your outgoing email could look like:

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It’s not just simple issues either, here’s a video showing how to set up an email autoresponder in Gmail — though similar email apps work in much the same way.

And it’s a great little marketing and branding opportunity to get Google into their computing experience.

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Don’t forget your Tech Rescue Kit

This time of year many of us travel home to visit family. If you’re the least bit of a techie, you’ll likely be called in to help someone diagnose some sort of computer problem — hopefully not very serious. But if Uncle Billy’s computer ‘just stopped working’ and you know you’re going to be spending an evening there, you can bet you’ll be asked to ‘just take a look at it, you’re so good with computers it won’t take you long to figure it out.’ The next thing you know you’re plopped in front of the system, waiting for it to go through a virus laden bootup while wistfully remembering that hot rum toddy you left by the fireplace. …more



This post is an excerpt from one of my weekly posts on the Future Shop Techblog. Check out the full post here.


Friday the 13th: Refuge in the backup

Ok, it’s a lousy title for a movie, but it is a great reminder to review and execute your data backup strategies, both at home and online.

Why Friday the 13th?
Simply, it’s a day-date combination that happens infrequently, almost ad-hoc. When it does occur, you can easily plan to take time out to perform your maintenance chores.

It’s also a very memorable day. In fiction, bad things happen on Friday the 13th — so the best way to prevent those bad things from happening to you, is to take proactive measures…and what better day to remember to do that than Friday the 13th!

Some things to do

  • Backup your home computer systems
  • Backup your blog(s)
  • Backup your other content stored in the cloud (flickr, Google Docs, iTunes video & music)
  • Remove and delete programs you’ve not used for a while
  • Review and backup your password & account information
  • Purge your online email accounts of old mail
  • Defrag your hard drives

More reading
I’ve written a few posts about backups and maintenance before, so if you want to dig into the detail, here’s a handy list, sorted by backup tag.

Lifehacker posted this great overview of a personal backup system worth checking out.

How to synchronize your podcast feeds on many computers

A friend recently asked me if I knew of a way to synchronize his podcasts (using iTunes) on multiple computers.

Initially I had no idea, but then I remembered PodNova.

Aside: I’ve since learned that iTunes supports OPML import / export, but still think PodNova is the better way to go — online centralized repository of all your podcast feeds VS saving and moving OPML files between computers.

I’d written about it a few years ago when I was looking into a text-to-speach solution for my blog: How to convert your blog post into a podcast.

Basically, PodNova is a service that you use to subscribe to all of your podcasts. Or, you can stream your podcasts directly to your computer (or mobile device: iPhone, iPod Touch, etc).

But, if you want to keep all your computers synchronized, you simply point  your iTunes subscription at ‘your personalized’ RSS podcast feed. Done.

The result is that you now have one feed to remember, but that feed now contains ALL your podcast subscriptions. All you have to do is subscribe to your PodNova feed, sit back, and enjoy your podcasts. Once per computer.