Tuesday, January 5, 2016

“Social Media for Seniors” opens up world of possibilities and friendships

Wow, it's been awhile since I've posted in this blog.  I write a LOT about Agile software development, but haven't written much about social media in awhile.  However, I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to review "My Social Media for Seniors" recently. This worked out perfectly as the book arrived the day before I was planning a trip to visit my mother for her 80th birthday and she had been wanting to learn more about Facebook.

I thought the book was excellent - clear and full of examples. I wrote a full review on Amazon.com, but it doesn't look like it's posted yet, so I'll go ahead and repeat my review here on this blog:

I’ve always been a huge fan of social media. What could be better than tools that allow us to communicate immediately with people around the world? To make friends and connections with experts in our field?  To share not only our “Kodak moments” but our thoughts, whether they are profound or trivial, with people who care? To get that happy feeling when we get a kind reply or a virtual laugh, from an old friend or even from a stranger.
And who better to take advantage of such communication than seniors? There’s no reason to ever be lonely when there’s a whole world of virtual friends at our disposal.  Unfortunately, however, many seniors are intimidated by ever-changing technology and often would rather avoid social media than deal with the challenges that can frustrate even the tech-savvy, such as identity theft, viruses, or fraudulent schemes.
“Social Media for Seniors” does a great job of explaining five of the most common social media sites, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, in an easily understandable vernacular, giving tips about the best ways to use these sites, which will help to remove any of the fears that might be hindering people from giving social media a try.  Explanations require no pre-requisite knowledge, yet are not condescending or “dumbed down.” Even though I’ve been working with technology my whole career and have coached people on the use of social media, I learned a thing or two, and found the book interesting and informative. Though there are some references to “seniors,” the audience could easily be anyone who wants to learn more about social media.
My mother, Suzanne Francino, age 80, says, “I like the book because it’s very down to earth in its directions and it touches on several areas that I didn’t know much about before but wanted to learn such as Pinterest and Twitter – I’d heard about these things but hadn’t known why they were beneficial.”

There were plenty of very specific instructions on how to use the sometimes less-than-intuitive User Interfaces for the applications.  I applaud the author for going to the trouble of giving step-by-step instructions with very clear examples.  Without that detail, readers would have difficulty knowing how to maneuver the sites and apply the knowledge they’re learning. Since those specific instructions may become outdated as new versions are released, readers should be aware that if the User Interface doesn’t act exactly as written, it most likely means there has been an update to the application. The book does a good job of not only giving step-by-step instructions, but explaining concepts and terms, so that it will remain relevant, even if the application does change.

I give the book high marks for the readability and feel it would be a useful source for anyone at any age who wants to learn more about social media. I’m happy to have it on my bookshelf and hope it will inspire anyone who hasn’t yet dipped their toes into the world of social media to give it a try.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Start A Blog in 5 Minutes - A great tactic for finding a job

Yesterday I'd been scheduled to give a blogging workshop at a local networking group for unemployed professionals, BoulderNet. This is a wonderful group and the leadership really inspired me when I was unemployed. Unfortunately, there was a communication mixup, so I wasn't able to speak after all, but I have an alternative for those who want to learn to blog:

A full set of video tutorials is available for free at RecognizedExpert.com/blogger. Listen to the first two videos and you will have a blog up and running on Google's blogger in less than 5 minutes.(Blogger's the blogging platform I'm using for this blog.) Then you can sign up for free to get a link to the full set of 118 videos and learn all kinds of cool tricks and tips. I signed up almost a year ago and I haven't received a bit of spam from this site. And I learned so much! I highly recommend it.

Other posts that you may find interesting:

Picking a Blogging Platform
How to get Your Blog Blasted Everywhere
The Ultimate Job Search Using 10 Social Media Tools
How Blogging Got Me the Perfect Job

I highly recommend blogging, particularly for those who are looking for a job. It's a wonderful way to network, establish credibility, and learn so much yourself. The resources that are available for free via the web are absolutely incredible! We have the whole world at our fingertips... tutorials, white papers, blogs, and best of all, experts in every field that will help and support you! Take advantage of it! Learn and then give back, by passing it on!

Monday, June 21, 2010

How to make a podcast for free

I know it's been a long time since I've blogged about Social Media, but this one's long overdue. I've discovered that it's very easy to record a podcast inteview and add it to your blog... all for free.

First, to record a call, use FreeConferencePro.com. Once you sign up, you can schedule conference calls and record them using *9. FreeConferencePro will give you both the .mp3 file and the .wav file of the recordings which you can save to your hard drive. Even though you have both available, I only use the .mp3 files for the next part.

Get an account on DivShare.com and then you're able to upload the .mp3 file that you just saved. Press the "share" button and DivShare will give you the html code for the audio player with your recording.

The final step is to copy the html code and paste it into the html of your blogging editor. If you use blogger, go to the "Edit Html" tab and paste the code where you'd like your audio player to show up.

It's all very simple! In fact, I did this all today on my Lessons of Love podcast interview with LifeBytes editors. (I've disappeared from this blog because I've been too busy promoting The Laptop Dancer Diaries with my other blog.)

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or send me an email and I'd be happy to try and help.

Now get out there and make your own podcasts!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

ALS-Afflicted Friend Inspires Love of God

My friend, Craig Dunham, is afflicted with ALS (more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.) He can only move one finger these days, but he's more alive than anyone I know. I still see that same playful spirit in his eyes, challenging me to live life to the fullest.

I recently had an email conversation with Craig that he's given me permission to share. I'm getting ready to publish The Laptop Dancer Diaries, and I wanted to make sure he'd be OK with what I'd written about him. Craig has a special keyboard that can be strapped to his chair, close to his mobile finger, allowing him to use the computer.

I'd sent him what I'd written, and because I knew it was hard for him to type, I'd given him multiple choice options with option A being "It's OK to publish as is." Craig wrote me back a full poem that touched me. He is such an amazing man. In order to understand the poem, scroll down to the end so you can see the thread of emails.

I wanted to share how inspiring Craig is. There really are no words to describe, so this is the best I can do...

From: Craig Dunham
Date: Sun, Feb 14, 2010 at 9:38 PM
Subject: RE: Need your approval!
To: Yvette Francino

Oh my dearest of all dear friend,
a speechless response I'm tempted to send.
I simply don't know the words to say,
my eloquent prose - reduced to an (A).

Yes it is hard for me to type,
but not my style no sir-eee, to gripe.
No time for that, cryin' in beer is pure crap,
'The Sunny Side of Life' is the name of my roadmap.

For your kind words comes my deepest gratitude,
your book, your words, my gift - wide latitude.
Humor, honesty, humility, I love your style,
Everything about you results in a perpetual smile.

No question you bring out the best in me,
and YOU are perfect in God's eyes, don't you see?
So rest your head and sleep well tonight,
your spirit glows with the most brilliant light.
Love, Craig

From: Yvette Francino [yvette.francino@gmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, February 14, 2010 5:25 PM
To: Craig Dunham; Craig Dunham
Subject: Need your approval!

Hi Craig,

Thank you so much for the Valentine surprise today! Yum! How thoughtful of you to think of me! Hey, I'm sorry that I'm going to have to ask you to answer this quickly, but I have to get this final version of my book in tonight, if possible. I rewrote the sections about you and I want to make sure you're OK with the changes. You have no idea how deeply you fill my heart. I love and admire you more than you'll ever know and I wish somehow I could share these deep feelings with the world. However I want to respect your privacy and feelings as well.

Please read the sections below and let me know what you think. I know it must be hard for you to type so I'll give you some choices and you can just type in the letter response:

A) I'm OK with you using it just this way.

B) You can use it, but change my name to Greg.

C) I prefer you don't use this.

D) It's OK, but what happened to the scene about the Deer Tick inspector?

E) Other

Just so you know the answer to D.... I wanted to write about the Deer Tick inspector, but that was in the PWP forum, so I no longer have the story. Of course, I will always remember it as my introduction to one of my dearest (or is that "deerest"?) friends ever.

(See Below for rewritten sections!)



January 13 8:00 pm

I make a quick call and invite another friend, Craig, to join. Craig’s great. He’s got this intensely spiritual side – one of the only Catholics I know that can quote the Bible. (Most of us are good at memorizing prayers, but don’t really know too many Bible verses.) But Craig is just downright good, right to the core. However, at the oddest moments he’ll come up a risqué remark which is especially hilarious because it seems so out of character. I hadn’t originally asked him to join us – he has a girlfriend and this was supposed to be my big January date, but obviously it appears to be turning into a group event. Craig's in Phoenix on business and had asked me to give him a call when I was here. With him along at least the male/female ratio will be a little better and I'll get some male attention.

As I limp to the concert, feeling about as sexy as a wounded dog, I hear Bitch talking about some "50-year-old dirty old man” that's after her. (I think this is enough to turn off Craig who is close to 50 himself, so I now have an ally in my distaste for Bitch.) She's quite drunk by this time and obviously thoroughly smitten with her own humor and sex appeal. Chet, similarly imbibed, is entertained and enjoying the attention from Bitch and her friend. I'm not entertained in the least. Having sobered up, I realize there will be no seduction moves tonight. At least not from me!

Angel: I'm sorry, Dear, but, you know it was for the best.

Devil: Wuss... You could at least have a nice little cat fight. Another disappointing night.

May 12 8am

This morning, when I opened my front door, I found a beautiful bouquet of flowers in a big green vase on my doorstep. The card simply had my name on it and said “Somebody loves you.” Today would have been my 24th Wedding Anniversary. Could it possibly be from my ex-husband? One of my kids? No one ever mentioned my anniversary before. Could I have a secret admirer?

May 12 5pm

Mystery solved. The flowers were from my friend, Craig. You may remember that Craig came to my rescue by providing male attention at the Kool in the Gang concert on my January date-of-the-month. Boy Toy Chet had invited two young ..ahem.. women, along and I needed to even out the male/female ratio.

Well, I recently sent Craig a care package and the flowers were his way of thanking me. In true “Craig-style” he sent me a funny email telling me that he’d taken on a new flower-delivery job and that he’d delivered a bouquet to my home this morning. “From the looks of that bouquet, someone must love you very much!” he wrote.

The email made me cry. I’ve been crying a lot. I haven’t written about it because… well, this is supposed to be a humor book, and there’s nothing funny about this. Craig was recently diagnosed with ALS – more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

I’ve been thinking a lot about faith. How could someone so devout, so loving – so “Craig” – how could someone that epitomizes goodness be stricken with this disease? He’s 47 with three kids. I can’t bear to imagine this world without him. I question God, unable to understand why this is happening.

But Craig doesn’t question for a minute. His faith remains stronger than ever. He tells me he’s not afraid. He wrote in his email telling of his prognosis:

“I especially appreciate the opportunity to show my children how life can be lived without anger, resentment, bitterness or regrets. I have purged all of that from my life and intend to leave this life with nothing but love, acceptance, forgiveness and compassion in my heart. I am so ready to live life to its fullest. I only wish I would have thought to do it sooner.”

I have so much admiration and respect for this man. I wish I could experience half the devotion and faith that he has. His courage inspires me more than words can say.

Craig doesn’t spend a minute feeling sorry for himself. I cry at the thought of losing him and realize that that is the last thing he’d want me to do. He would want me to follow his example, love God, and “live life to the fullest.”

From this day forward, whenever my faith is shaken; whenever I’m feeling sorry for myself or feeling angry at life’s little injustices, I will think of Craig and remember his amazing attitude.

God, I don’t get it, but I will try to be more like Craig and hold off on the questions. Just please fill the rest of Craig’s life with love and happiness and give him a special place in Heaven when he gets there. I’m sure You know, there’s no one that deserves it more.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Interview with Tracy Earles from Parallel Path

A couple of weeks ago, I met with some of the leaders at Parallel Path, an internet marketing firm to find out more about their business. I've been very interested in what role social media plays with internet marketing and asked Tracy Earles, the VP of Marketing and Business Development, if I could interview him for my blog.

I'd figured out how to do a podcast with Skype, but unfortunately, when it came time to interview Tracy, the technology failed and so Tracy ended up recording our conversation with his iPhone.

I'm not sure if this will work for you all... If it were in .mp3 format I could add an mp3 player gadget... If you have Windows Media Player, you should be able to listen to the interview at the link below.


Tracy's advice for small business owners with a limited budget? Pay Per Click...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

How Blogging Got Me a Perfect Job

Last week I landed the perfect job. How? It wouldn't have happened without blogging!

A few months ago, I decided that as long as I was doing all this networking to get a job in QA Management, I should use my social media skills to specifically network with industry experts via a new QA blog. There was even an article written in the Fort Collins paper about my blogging strategy. Even though these global experts might not know about specific job opportunities, I'd at least be gaining new knowledge that was bound to help me in interviews.

I started reading more and more about Software Quality Assurance. I joined a lot of groups and networks and began to recognize the leaders. It took awhile for me to build the confidence to start engaging with the big names... It was kind of intimidating! Would I be viewed as ignorant if I asked a dumb question? Would those gurus have time for an "unknown" like me? Would my lack of employment label me as a "loser" or a "pest" only looking for a job?

What I soon discovered is that regardless of how much of an expert someone is, they still appreciate recognition and like to help others gain the knowledge that they have. Certainly we want to do some sort of homework before asking questions of experts, but they are people, just like the rest of us! They write books and blogs and articles so that those of us that want to learn, can do so. And when we engage with them, whether to ask for clarification, respectfully debate a point, or tell them that we admire their work, we start to form a relationship.

Much to my delight, not only did I learn a TON, I began forming relationships with some of these Software QA leaders. We connected via LinkedIn, and in some cases became FaceBook friends. We followed each other on Twitter and I soon started feeling like one of the group! I joined a "writing about testing" network where many of these big names gathered, and put in a "position statement" to be accepted at a conference that is taking place in Durango in May. Only 15 people would be accepted. Again, it was intimidating to submit my name amongst these industry greats. Most of them have written books (much more academic than The Laptop Dancer Diaries!) But I did it...and I was accepted!

Then one day, one of those industry leaders, Matt Heusser, sent me an email. He'd read on my blog that I was interested in telecommuting. He wrote:

I know a web-based media outlet looking for someone with a testing background to do writing, editing, possibly management of the assistant editor for the website.

The job was work-from-home, working for TechTarget's SearchSoftwareQuality.com and would include covering conferences, networking with experts, and researching trends and tools. Was I interested? On a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the most interested, I was a 100! This was a job that would allow me to write, continue to explore Social Media, and stay up-to-date with latest, greatest news in the industry. I was already past the point of being timid about networking with the experts... I loved it. And it would actually be part of this job! How cool is that?

Matt took the trouble to learn more about my background and put in a glowing recommendation. Though I didn't have the journalism or editorial experience they had listed in their job description, I've had a 27-year career in Software Dev and QA, so if they were looking for a software quality techie, I was qualified.

But the HR interview went something like this:

HR: How much editorial experience do you have?
Yvette: None
HR: How much Web publishing experience do you have?
Yvette: None
HR: How much do you know about Content Management Systems?
Yvette: Not much

Yvette: What do you usually look for in a candidate?
HR (chuckling): Someone with a background in editing and Web publishing. So you don't fit the typical candidate...but (nicely) we may try something different.

It actually was not quite as bad as that, but I certainly did not think I was going to get the job.

But a few interviews and editor tests later, I had the hiring manager, the publisher, and myself convinced that I could definitely do this job. Not only could I do it, I could do it WELL. Not just well... ROCK STAR WELL! The hiring manager (who I love for her confidence in me) assured me that I could pick up the journalism skills that were needed. I agree. I feel more confident and excited about this job then any other I've ever been offered.

I start on Monday with a trip to Boston. This is going to be fun!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Rebecca Mullen's Altared Spaces

Rebecca Mullen is my daughter's husband's mother's sister... At least that's who she was when I first met her. She has become my friend (which is a much easier way to introduce her.) We discovered we both enjoyed writing and we've been exchanging pieces for critique for the past 6 months or so. In doing this exchange, I feel I've gotten to know Rebecca much more than many of the other people in my life.

There's a poem that's been passed around the internet about friends... how they're in our life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. I think there is a reason for every friendship. Each relationship gives us an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and can touch our lives in ways we don't even realize.

Rebecca's writing, which you can find on her Altared Spaces Website, delves beyond trivial "chit chat" and explores emotions of the heart. Through appreciating simplicity she has the ability to find the extraordinary in objects that others would find ordinary. She sees beyond the surface and finds the hidden treasures in every thing and every person.

Rebecca will open up your mind and heart to possibilities that you may never have explored before. I encourage you to read her writing. Like me, you may find your heart growing and discovering beautiful altared spaces in your life every day.

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