The documentary CitzenFour chronicles Edward Snowden’s actions and conversations during the campaign to expose how our government spies on everyone. Do you search on Google? A record exists for your every search through time. Do you shop online? NSA records purchases–weapons; legal drugs (e.g. insulin, Viagra); movies/books/gadgets and underwear from Amazon. Do you have a cell phone on your belt, in a pocket or purse? Your location is public record.  Even Chancellor Merkle’s phone was tapped by the NSA.

Browse through recipes on IFTTT.com.  Any action, transaction, maps your whereabouts.  I offer these few examples from the myriad of recipes available to any user with an Internet connection:


Text my location recipeFollowMe1Week

Technology Treats

Google is busy churning out magic glasses and cars that drive themselves. But I’ve found two ideal gadgets that utterly changed my life.  Background: I am one-handed. My right hand ceased functioning  several years ago. Try to hold a jar and twist the top off with one hand. Try  to hold a traditional can opener and turn the knob  with only your left hand.  Amazon, purveyor of everything  has solutions to both challenges.

Miracle gadget 1- canOpener
Place this darling, colorful can opener on top of any size can. Tap the button and watch this gadget take hold of that can.  It turns (without your assistance) until the top is separated from the can , held firmly by the gadget’s magnet. Gently nudge the can top from the opener. The edge around can and top are so smooth you can rest the top back on the can to store leftovers.

Miracle gadget 2-jarOpenerI cannot twist tops off of bottles or jars.

Instead, I place the gadget shown above on the item to be opened and watch it squeeze and turn until my jar, beverage bottle or even a round plastic prescription bottle is open. Perfect tool to overcome childproof medicine caps, sticky peanut butter jar tops, suction sealed mayonnaise jars, etc.

I purchased both these gadgets from Amazon for around $10 each. (Amazon Prime  members get then in 2 days with no shipping fee), but you can also find then in your local grocery hanging on the wall of the kitchen aid aisle.

The moral of this story: Google’s high falutin cars, 3D specs, etc are neat to read about but they can’t help me in the kitchen.

Thank goodness for search engine power

I lived in Santa Clara, CA at the end of the 20th century (late 1990s).  Yahoo, created by Stanford college students,  provided the default search engine. You searched by category, honing down your query from broad to narrower criteria. Yahoo, of course, was primarily a web site like it is today, with a home page  that you could customize to see the news and features of your choice.

Google, a brand new startup opened its headquarters in Mt. View. I rode my bike by there every day on my way to work and thought it might be a neat place to work. Google has no home page. It was intended to provide a search engine with clever algorithms to focus on exactly what your query wanted. Google has been optimizing that search engine all its 20 years of existence. Today, Google’s engine spans servers throughout the world, absorbing and indexing information internationally.

Google has some competitors (Microsoft’s Bing for example, and of course Yahoo.) I never stray from Google. It always gives me just what I’m looking for quickly, efficiently, happily. Google’s search interface has a sense of humor, evidenced by its graphics. Google provides online tutorials teaching you how to optimize your information so that Google will find and list your stuff as information answering a query or as advertisements. Google publishes lists of recommended Adwords you can use in your posts or your meta (hidden) keywords to help you compete with others vying for the same readership or audience.  Colleges teach classes in Internet marketing that include practice in these techniques. I have taken such classes as part of Web Design training at Sessions College of Professional Design. Check out their program at www.sesssions.edu.

Search engines and SEO (search engine optimization) techniques are evolving.  Keep searching Google for the latest techniques.

SEO Tips

Some things to consider if you want your website, blog or ad to appear on list of Google’s search results:

IFTTT recipes

This month’s IFTTT newsletter consisted of 3 sets of recipes:

In reviewing these recipe collections, I had to drill down to find out what the source and target entities are. For example:

Automatic Icon Automatic -Watch the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_AyXNeRbpRk

Feedly – Collect all the sites that matter to you  in one place http://feedly.com/#welcome


pushover Pushover- sends notifications to your mobile devices

Storify Storify -build social stories, bringing together media scattered across the web into a coherent narrative.

Investigate the links above. They will lead you to many more new services, each with its own icon.


The acronym IFTTT expands to If This Then That, an Internet service that enables you to automate small tasks which occur out in cyberspace.
IFTTT “recipes” connect Triggers (events) to Actions (result). Connectable devices are your computer, tablet, IOS or Android phone.

For example, you can construct a recipe that sends your mobile device a text message (action) whenever someone looks at your LinkedIn page (event). The Ingredients (pieces of data) processed by your recipe in this example would likely be the person or company viewing your LinkedIn page, date and time viewed, the viewer’s LinkedIn address. You can use the data to check the viewer’s web site for job opportunities.

Both the Trigger and Action must be one of the  IFTTT-enabled Channels listed at https://ifttt.com/channels. Watch that page because the list of channels constantly grows. You can use one of the 12804 an existing recipes listed at https://ifttt.com/recipes. As with Channels, the recipe list continually grows.  Use the large Search bar at the top of the page to find recipes you want.

For more information and hands-on practice, go to  https://ifttt.com  and click Join.

My favorite part of this experience is the large type use on the IFTTT site. Very accessible to the sight impaired.  IFTTT has potential to become a valuable accessibility tool.

Watch this blog for the next new thing: Internet of Things

What is DITA?

DITA stands for Darwin Information Typing Architecture.?? It is yet another IBM set of XML tags governed by a Standards Committee that maintains the DITA lexicon and guidelines. DITA data organization enables reuse of information in multiple formats.

DITA imposes structure on information.? You assemble chunks–topics–then paste them together in a hierarchy that shows the relationship between the chunks.? A Procedure, for example, is a container.? Inside there are sub-containers such as description and a list of steps.

Sub-containers envelop items. Each procedure step is an item, which may be subdivided into action, tools needed,??and duration (time needed).
——-Verification Test
———–Problem Resolution
A procedure might have metadata such as author, start date, last modified.

There are tools dedicated to mapping content for building DITA documentation and tools for publishing DITA content in various distribution packages (online help, web pages, complete manuals).

Nothing really new here. Sort of Docbook redux.

How can I detach from technology?

I am powerless over technology and my life is unmanageable.


  • unsolicited, unannounced, unwanted Microsoft updates-
    Last night, while I was sleeping, Microsoft installed Internet Explorer 11 on my Windows 7 machine.
    IE 11 exists in test state and is intended for use with Windows 8.
    Windows 8 is meant for touch-enabled Windows laptops, Windows tablets, etc.
    IE 11 does not play well in Windows 7 environments.
    So, when I sat down to use my laptop, all my Windows 7 desktop gadgets (clock, calendar) were gone and ALL downloads for new desktop clocks were blocked. I lost control of my OWN machine!
  • unsolicited, unannounced, unwanted iOS updates
    Apple installed iOS 7 on my iPhone. I could no longer make notes on the notepad, I could not save appointments on the calendar, I could not upload photos to my PC. An Apple rep spent 2 full days logged into my computer. He fixed most of the problems. The rest I am relegating to my G-d box.
    Now my phone asks for my email password every time I use my contact list. Called AT&T. They said my phone had an iOS bug. They get these calls every day.
    So now I lost control of my phone.

Stuff I learned in Internet Marketing class

The problem with social media sites?is their propensity to multiply like bunnies.
How many icons fit in?a browser and still leave room for content?
Social Media Icons

On how many sites do you need to establish a presence?
Facebook page, Linked In page, Twitter tweets, YouTube channel, Google+ Blogger and/or WordPress, Instagram and Pinterest photos, Tumbler, RSS feeds??
How often do you need to post new content to each site where customers follow you?

Exhausting, isn’t it?
There are a couple of tools you need to maintain your sanity:

  • Cross-pollinate -Use the same content and images on many sites and in your blogs
  • Use a Social Media management system like HootSuite
  • Prepare a group of updates so you are ready with content when HootSuite reminds you to post.
  • Analyze the impact of your presence with tools like Google Analytics
  • Set up a Google Alert to find out what people are writing about you in comments on your blogs, in posts to their own blogs, and on rating sites such as Yelp.

Good luck.

Stuff I learned in Graphics classes

Click the links below to see samples of the interesting techniques taught?in the online Graphics Design Certificate program at Sessions.edu.

Color Theory

Mood Boards using Color Theory

Design & Composition

Soaring eagle drawing adapted from a photograph

Art from Hebrew

Advertisement for Mozart concert

Graphic Design Class

Soft drink ad

Box design for trackball

Adobe Illustrator Class

Music CD cover

Fun drawing with Illustrator vector toolset

Product ad on side of bus


Parts of a letter form

Design using Cheboygan font family

Ad for documentary on? A&E channel

Web Design with Photoshop

Financial company home page

Storyboard design for Arcosanti Home page – in memory of a dear friend and teacher, Paolo Solari


Pencil drawing of my ironing board