My Data – MINE. MINE! MINE?

I was surprised by some questions from adults concerning data privacy while I was talking to students about internet safety and digital citizenship. Thus the inspiration for this post.

  • Terms of Service
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Privacy Policy

How often have you read them? I encourage you to read ALL terms of service agreements. Why? Who do you think those terms are meant to protect? (Hint: It isn’t you.)

Key point – If something is free, ask yourself why? How are they making money? Someone spent time and effort creating that app/website or setting up the “free” wi-fi you are about to use. People must eat, live, etc. Even if something is NOT completely free, they may decide to make more money off your data. Last year AT&T (DirecTV) changed their terms:

3.4 You grant AT&T and its designees a worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive and fully sub-licensable and transferable right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display your Profile Information, in whole or part, and/or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed related to AT&T Access ID, Account Management or the services associated with your AT&T Access ID. AT&T is under no obligation to post or use any Profile Information that you may provide, and AT&T may remove your Profile Information at any time in its sole discretion. You represent and warrant that you own or otherwise control all necessary rights, consents and permissions to your Profile Information necessary to submit such material and to grant AT&T all of the license rights granted herein and that such submissions do not violate the privacy, publicity, or contract rights or any intellectual property or other rights of any person.

Keywords that jumped out at us: perpetual, irrevocable, transferable, modify, and publish. Here was the fun part. So I talked with customer service. Trying to explain to DirecTV why this was a problem was challenging. First, “irrevocable”. So if we agree, according to this, we cannot change our minds later.

Second, the section about modifying our profile and publishing it (which they insisted they don’t do).  In theory, DirecTV could modify our profile to make it appear we watch shows we don’t watch. Why is this a problem? Years from now, we, or you, might want to run for public office. Ha ha. 😊 But seriously, they could increase the price of advertising by making it look like more people watch a show than are actually watching. The price of a Super Bowl ad is significantly more than other football games because of viewership numbers.

DirecTV is a service we PAID FOR so why do we have to give up our privacy? We don’t. CANCELLED. While writing this, I noticed they recently changed their privacy policy and my first thought was, ‘They listened!’ Then I read it.  The keywords listed above are gone, but there’s this:

Web browsing and app information includes things like the websites you visit or mobile

apps you use, on or off our networks. It includes internet protocol addresses and URLs,

pixels, cookies and similar technologies, and identifiers such as advertising IDs and device

IDs. It can also include information about the time you spend on websites or apps, the links

or advertisements you see, search terms you enter, items identified in your online shopping

carts and other similar information.

Items in my online shopping cart? You mean DirecTV wants to know about the baby items I ordered as a gift to send me targeted advertising? No, thank you.

Next up, free apps! They need to make money so what are people giving up to use them? The best example I share with students is Snapchat. Do a quick search for some of the words mentioned above and check out section 3:

  • perpetual? ✔
  • irrevocable? ✔(irrevocably)
  • transferable? ✔
  • modify? ✔
  • publish? ✔

Snap.com can delete your pictures or publish them without your permission. It is a jaw dropping moment for many. 

Free games. I used to enjoy mindlessly playing Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery on my iPad until the terms changed:

https www.jamcity.com/privacyandterms/ Data we receive when you use the Services: We also may collect the following Personal Data from our website or your device when you are using the Services or are navigating to the Services from other (third party) websites: certain information about your computer or mobile device including operating system, software version, Internet protocol (IP) address, user settings, MAC address, cookie identifiers, mobile carrier, mobile advertising and other unique identifiers, language, details about your browser, location information (including inferred location based off your IP address), Internet service provider, pages that you visit before, during and after using the Services, information about the links you click, and other information about how you use the Services. Information we collect may be associated with your account and the devices you use.

“…pages you visit before, during, and after using the Services.” !!!!!!!

Another point to consider is how you log into websites. Some allow you to log in with your Google or Microsoft account. I noticed that the Microsoft permissions were less intrusive than the Google permissions. Often, there is a line that the app permissions include being able to “permanently delete” all your files. Recently that seems to have changed, but still something to watch for.

(If you’ve seen similar intrusive permissions, we’d love to know. Comment below.)

Something to consider from Tools and Weapons by Brad Smith and Carol Ann Browne (#RecommendedRead):

but, as I learned from individuals ranging from senior generals to a West Point cadet, one can't graduate from an American military acad- emy without taking a course in ethics.29 The same is not yet true for computer science majors at many American universities.

Ethics should be taught in schools, and not just at the university level. Not everyone creating apps attends university and not all care about your privacy.

Another gem for keeping your information safe: Don’t make it so easy. If a website gives you the password reset question options for mother’s given name, pick your favorite cartoon character. They need to know that you know the answers to your security questions, but we fail to see why they need to know answers to questions that may be on credit card applications. Also from Tools and Weapons, hackers search emails for the word “password” which often contain your password.

And the next time you are prompted to change your password YET AGAIN and add special characters, respond with this link: Best practices for passwords updated after original author regrets his advice. 

Speaking of passwords, after all that doom and gloom, here’s something that might make you smile:

Keeping Your Sanity During the Holidays

Updated November 2019: The holidays are approaching and it can be a hectic time for some. Here are a few free apps/websites/programs that help us keep our sanity.

DECEMBER 2019 UPDATE: Check out this Wakelet collection of Google activities from @EricCurts, adapted by me (@Filibuster3) for Microsoft along with other holiday ed tech ideas.

Purple OneNote logoFirst off, in case you haven’t noticed a trend in our blogs, we LOVE ONENOTE! It is a free program from Microsoft that is app-based, software, and web-based so it is with you wherever you go! If you don’t already have a Microsoft account, here’s a referral link which gives you some extra storage space. Best Twitter account to follow for updates? Definitely @mtholfsen!

schoolhouse at night with star trails in the skyWe posted a YouTube video to our channel that shows how K uses OneNote, Office Lens, and CopyMeThat for organizing recipes, but OneNote can organize so much more! Add a checklist for things to do, gifts to purchase, cards to send, what to pack for that holiday trip, etc. Create a receipt section and use the Insert/Camera feature (or Office Lens, another free app from Microsoft) to keep track of receipts and costs. (Tax season is coming!)

Copy Me That logo with grey and red kitchen utensilsIf you aren’t familiar with CopyMeThat, check out the video. It starts around the 3:55 mark. One click and those online recipes are put into your collection without all the distractions and extra information. It is like Reading View (Edge and Safari browsers) or Read Mode (Wakelet) for recipes!

Microsoft Sway logoWant to collect family pictures? Create a shared OneNote notebook and let everyone add their memories, pictures, audio messages, and more! Another option to keep the kids busy is have them create a Sway including videos, pictures, audio files, etc. You can insert the Sways directly into OneNote. Aren’t familiar with Sway? It’s a free app from Microsoft. Again, here’s a referral code if you don’t already have a FREE Microsoft account. (Using the code gets you and us a little extra OneDrive storage. Everyone wins!)

black pen making white swish on a blue backgroundOnce you have that FREE Microsoft account, you also will have access to Microsoft Whiteboard which is now web-based if you have an Office 365 account, but is also an Apple app and Windows 10 app/feature which work with personal Microsoft accounts and Office 365 accounts (work/school). Collaborate on boards to write messages, reminders, leave notes for yourself, etc. We use OneNote for holiday shopping lists, but you could also use Microsoft Whiteboard. Follow @ianmikutel on Twitter for helpful tips and updates.

green and white Flipgrid logoIf family and friends are not able to be with you, consider using Flipgrid to create video messages. (Also good for entertaining children! Give them a prompt. Suggestions: favorite family memory, what makes you thankful, why is someone thankful for you, funniest memory from this year, etc. Recently, K tweeted an idea to have kids describe how someone in their family makes their favorite dish during the holidays. When she taught preschool, her school did a similar project for Mother’s Day. A favorite? “My mom makes pizza!” “How does she make it?” “She picks up the phone and calls Pizza Hut!”) It can also be used within Wakelet (Learn about Wakelet later in this post or read our full blogpost on Wakelet.)

Seeing AI - Turning the visual world into an audible experience.Have trouble reading the small print on ingredients? Use Seeing AI (iOS) to have it read to you or scan the barcode to identify the object. Do you have a family member who is having difficulty remembering people? Tap the 3 line icon in the top left to open Face Recognition. Take pictures of family members and label them with their relationship: Carl, your youngest son, or Violet, your granddaughter. When they use the Person feature with faces you’ve entered, it will tell them who is there. Here’s a quick overview of Seeing AI.

Wakelet

 

A few months after originally writing this post in 2018, we learned about Wakelet and haven’t looked back since. Similar to OneNote, you can use it for a variety of resources. One feature that makes it unique is the collaboration feature. Share a contributor link to allow others (even if they don’t have Wakelet accounts!) to add to a collection. Use it for YouTube videos, family pictures, important files organized by topic, or read our Wakelet blogpost for more incredible ways to use Wakelet, which is web-based, app-based, and FREE!

Need more activities? Create a family secret code using Microsoft Font Maker. Open Excel and create pixel art family portraits or holiday images.

 

You don't always have to agree with someone, but it should take much effort to be nice.

One thing to remember during the holidays, you don’t always have to agree with someone, but it shouldn’t take much effort to be nice.

 

PAUSE P-Is it positive? A-Is it accurate? U-Is it understandable? S-Is it spam? E-Is it enlightening? Before you post or send, pause and consider if it is Postive, Accurate, Understandable (check for clarity and accessiblity), Spam (fake news), and is it Enlightening (or Educational)? Consider if it will make a Difference (PAUSED) Will it make things better or worse?If someone upsets you, before responding, think about if whatever you say will make a difference or remember that they may be going through things you don’t know about. PAUSE before responding, whether in person or digitally.

 

🎁HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM OUR FAMILY TO YOURS!

banner with 3 dogs: Filibuster (basset hound) in a Santa hat and green coat "The Original Filibuster" and then Dug, a boxer in reindeer antlers and TeddyRoo, a golden dog with a Santa hat, all in front of presents and a Christmas tree - banner along the bottom "Happy Holidays to All!"

Productivity? Meet Accessibility!

The purpose of this article is to share how some of those tools can make you more productive.

As a former classroom teacher and current technology trainer, part of my job is to find tools to assist staff and students. In July 2017, after being asked to present on accessibility tools at my local Microsoft store, I started collecting resources in a OneNote notebook. In it, I have included Microsoft, Apple, Google, Chromebook, and any other resources that are necessary for some, but beneficial to many.

Tired of ads and clutter distracting you while trying to read an article? Microsoft helped solve that problem with Reading View in the Edge Browser. (Before and after screenshots) Check out some of other features in Reading View such as Read Aloud and the Learning Tools. If you have an iPhone or an iPad, you can use Safari Reader to do the same thing. For Macs, see this site for instructions. Chrome user? Try the Mercury Reader extension.

Internet Search Tools handout in Word next to the same handout in Sway with "before" and "after" inked on them.Trying to do an internet search, but getting too many results? Check out this list of easy ways to fine tune your searches in Bing and Google. You can also learn how to quickly turn a boring document or PDF into a beautiful presentation. View an example here of going straight from Microsoft Word Online into Sway (video also includes the new translate tool in Immersive Reader).

Forgot your reading glasses? CTRL + will quickly zoom in (CTRL – to zoom out, CTRL 0 to return to default) or use the Seeing AI app on your iPhone or iPad or Office Lens, which is now available for iPhone, iPad, AND Android. Read more about both here. Office Lens also has Immersive Reader. Take a picture of an article and it will read it to you! Perfect for long commutes. (Also available in Word and OneNote.)

advanced features for Mouse Properties screen in the Pointer Options tab with Hide pointer while typing and Show location of pointer when I press the CTRL key checked.

Presenting on a PC and want to make sure your audience can see your cursor or pointer? Check out these settings to make both more visible  such as showing the location when you press the CTRL key and watch for future Windows 10 updates. @JenMSFT posted about color options on a future build. Cursor & pointer page in Windows 10 settings with option to change pointer size and color with hot pink highlighted

 

Watch for future articles on productivity (AKA accessibility) tools, visit my OneNote for more information, and visit the YouTube channel we started, Greg& Karyn: GKTechies. Simple, no nonsense tutorials with captioning.

You can follow me (Karyn) on Twitter @Filibuster3 and we are starting to use @GKTechies together.

Wedding Planning Made Easy with Microsoft

Usually our posts are education-related. This one strays a bit, but is definitely technology-related AND, though it was originally posted a few months ago, we’re sure at least a few people got engaged over the holidays and might appreciate the tips so this has had a few updates and been reposted! 

So you are engaged? Congratulations! When we got engaged, we had about 3 months to plan our wedding. (I (Karyn) wanted a Christmas time wedding.) There were brochures, quotes, notes, Post-Its, contact information, checklists, receipts, and more all to keep organized. After helping friends plan weddings since college, I was well-prepared.

If you are planning a wedding, let us help with some wedding planning (and other) advice. For any follow-up questions, you can message Karyn on Twitter @Filibuster3. We were not paid by any of the companies and businesses mentioned in this article. These are OUR opinions from OUR experiences from our own wedding in 2009.

WE SHOULD HAVE USED ONENOTE!!!Purple OneNote logo

First, if you can afford a wedding planner, that is great! They can handle the organization for you.

(Side note: IF YOU ARE a wedding planner, get OneNote! Read more to understand why.)

Why OneNote?

  • OneNote is free.
  • OneNote is cross-platform.
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Mac
    • Windows 10
    • Browser-based
  • OneNote is easy to use.
  • OneNote notebooks can be shared with others with viewing or editing rights.
  • You can insert multiple file types in OneNote (PowerPoint, Word, PDF, YouTube, etc.)
  • You can digitally ink in OneNote.
  • Did we mention that it is FREE and will sync across all your devices?

Being teachers, we didn’t have a giant budget for weddings, nor did we want to go broke for a one day event. We love our friends and family who celebrated with us, but we know they wouldn’t want us starting out married life in debt!

STEPS:

  1. If you don’t already have a Microsoft account, create one FOR FREE! Here’s a referral link to get you more free storage space.
  2. Log into your new account and click on the tiles icon. (Some call it the waffle or the Rubik’s cube.)
  3. Go to OneDrive and click New at the top to choose New OneNote notebook.
  4. Name your new notebook.

Now you are ready to get organized! (If you have never used OneNote, we posted a basic tutorial. It is for organizing special education paperwork, but should give you a basic idea.)

Create sections that will make sense to you. Some suggestions might be Flowers, Caterer or Food, Bridal Party, Guest List, Clothing, Venues, DJs or Music. Use the INSERT feature on pages to add images and other files. With the insert from camera feature, you can take pictures of paperwork and the text in the images is searchable! Insert contracts, take pictures of receipts, add random ideas you get while at other weddings, just about anything! Perfect for documenting offers from vendors. GET THINGS IN WRITING!

Excel logo on green backgroundSince you have a Microsoft account (and if not, go back up to the referral link and create one), use Excel to create and organize your guest list which then can turn into your gift list and thank you list. Create a budget in Excel to keep track of expenses. We used shared Excel files to update the lists, added a column to check off as we mailed thank you notes, and had a sheet for the budget.

green and white Flipgrid logoConsider using Flipgrid! @annkozma723  saw it used at a wedding to post messages for the couple. (Saves money and nice for people annoyed by a videographer in their face while they are eating.)

READ ON FOR MORE WEDDING TIPS AND TRICKS! 

SAVE MONEY AND YOUR SANITY!

Learn to negotiate and ask questions! Don’t always take the first quote. Our caterer gave us some alternatives to better fit our budget.  K won a “free bridal bouquet” at an event, which the company tried to say required ALL the flowers come through them. After some online searches proved scary (Thank you, Better Business Bureau), we decided not to use her “prize” and reported them to the bridal fair organizer and the BBB.

white on white wedding cake with random desserts around itNot every one loves wedding cake. Order a smaller cake with side desserts like brownies and tarts. These were a lot cheaper (and we learned later, VERY popular! In retrospect, we should have ordered more desserts and less buffet items.)

Our wedding venue did not allow alcohol. BIG savings! Sparkling apple cider or sparkling white grape juice are pleasant substitutes.

giant green Christmas wreaths hanging on a stone wall next to a carillon - Crystal Cathedral ArboretumWe saved by getting married during the Christmas season. The church was already decorated so we bought only the flowers people were wearing or carrying.

Technology is amazing! On top of the suggestion about using Excel above, we found templates online for name cards and printed them ourselves. Our wedding program was created in Microsoft Word.

Create a free wedding website. (We used Shutterfly.) Friends of ours married a few months before and the day of the wedding, we couldn’t find the invitation with the ceremony location. If web-based, we could have looked it up! (Side note: We found it in time.) Our website had a map for directions, times for events, and even bathroom locations. We also posted links to our photographer, caterer, and hair salon, in case others were interested.

Think of the trees, postage, and waste from extravagant wedding invitations. We made a handful of paper invitations for older friends and family and created digital ones for the rest.

Borrow items! K’s veil was borrowed from the best man’s wife.

IMG_2793_2_2_2Have some fun! G was living in Kansas at the time so K got red ruby slippers for the reception. Comfortable and playful! Though, the sequins snagged K’s crinoline a few times during our first dance. Minor issue.

On that note, know that things may NOT go as planned! As K has told future brides, as long as he is there at the front when you get there, that’s all that matters.

Have multiple announcements about silencing cell phones and have people ready to assist those who don’t know how. (Trust us on this! A cell phone ringing during your vows is distracting.)

Tide to go stain remover pen

TIDE PEN! Pack one or THREE! After pictures, K noticed marks on her dress. Tide pen to the rescue! Other companies make similar pens. Pack a few to share.

Joel Austell Studio logoPhotographer: Get a good one! If you are in California, we used Joel Austell and he was amazing! Joel and his wife make a fantastic team. K saw pictures from the bridal room and commented that she didn’t realize Joel’s wife was there (yes, they are THAT good!). Check Yelp reviews and your photographer’s portfolio before signing a contract. Rather than hire a separate videographer, we paid Joel a little more and he did both.

woman in ivory wedding dress looking out hotel room doors that overlook California Adventure with balloons, wedding Mickey ears, and character photos on the bed to the leftAlterations: K had an amazing seamstress and worked with her to redesign parts of her dress purchased at a local bridal store. Her seamstress recommended a French bustle, which was perfect. It was easy to move around in, and there were bright ribbons to make the ties easier to find under the dress. This image of it was from our hotel room at the Grand Californian, discounted thanks to a family member who works for Disney. Another budget saver!

Newly engaged couple huggingRemember that though the day is all about the two of you, don’t forget the others who are there to celebrate WITH you. We chose a variety of music, each set of parents picked a song that was special to them, and made sure the music wasn’t too loud so people could have conversations. Also, we chose to orchestrate our garter/bouquet toss by agreeing to K’s brother’s request to propose to his girlfriend that night. K let her friends know so they wouldn’t go out on the floor and G’s friends were married so K’s brother was alone. He caught the garter and stood by while his girlfriend caught the bouquet and K handed him the microphone. BEAUTIFUL family moment! (They were married a year later and also used Joel Austell as their photographer!)

To save money, we wouldn’t recommend a sit down dinner. Much of the food is wasted. People are trapped at the tables and it is a big expense. We chose finger foods and our caterer (Country Garden Caterers) had the best idea: garlic mashed potato bar in martini glasses! GORGEOUS and everyone could make their own and be free to walk around and socialize.

garlic mashed potato bar with martini glasses and topics in silver hammered containers with lighted trees in the background

Parents: Both sets of parents lit the unity candles rather than just the mothers. In our minds, we had been influenced by watching both marriages and wanted our dads, as well as our moms, to participate.

Speak up! This wedding is for the two of you so you should have the final say (unless someone is paying for everything and then they should have a small amount of input). K was grateful for her dad speaking up to get china rather than paper plates (which were free). The china was only $1 more a person. We think he thought $165 was worth the smile on his daughter’s face. The church wedding volunteer questioned having both sets of parents lighting the unity candle. “Well, that’s different.” Yes, and we wouldn’t have it any other way! It was OUR wedding, not hers. Our future sister-in-law handled another issue with the same volunteer trying to tell the bridesmaids how to walk, not knowing that one attendant has a physical issue. (Sis-in-law didn’t tell us until later so we wouldn’t be upset. Smart move.)

Chair covers: Sure, you see them in movie weddings, but they are an added cost and a trip hazard. If on a budget, focus on the table, not the chairs (as long as the chairs are decent).

buffet table with silver hammered containers and red and green centerpieces with a wreath in the middleCOMPROMISE! (or Win-Win) When the caterer asked us about centerpieces, we each pointed at a different one. Solution? Every other table had one of our choices. We also had a win-win on the exit music since G preferred traditional and K wanted “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder. We left the altar on the traditional music and halfway down the aisle, it switched. Big smiles from everyone!

More about music: Look around to see who you know. K went to college with the organist of the Crystal Cathedral (our venue) and her college roommate is an amazing singer. Another note to remember others – when K’s parents were married, her mom wanted the Sound of Music wedding processional, but the organist refused. Happily, our organist did not feel the same and it was a nice tribute to K’s mom.  For budget, do you really need a DJ when there are iTunes playlists? Maybe. Check out the sound system at the venue and ask around. Again, negotiate! We saved a lot by getting married on a weeknight during Christmas break.

Finally, RELAX, SMILE, and ENJOY THE DAY!

bride and groom feeding each other wedding cake and smiling

There are multiple pictures of us laughing. Our photographer said we were one of the best cake feeders since we didn’t smash it in each other’s faces, but were playful. This meant less time cleaning up to enjoy the rest of the reception, too.

Best of 2018 #MSFTEduChat TweetMeet

If you use Twitter, you may have wondered why someone you follow randomly has a number of tweets with the same hashtag. Welcome to TweetMeets!

A TweetMeet is when people “meet” by tweeting with a specific hashtag during a designated time. Often questions are posted and you respond by using the letter A (for answer) and the question number. For example, Q1 What do you do? might be answered with A1 I work in technology and then the hashtag.

Coming up on December 18th, there is a MASSIVE TweetMeet that will be the perfect way to dip your toe in water, if you haven’t already. Microsoft Education hosts a TweetMeet once a month using the hashtag #MSFTEduChat with a different topic each time.

combined headshot of former #MSFTEduChat hosts, Tuesday, December 18th, 10am PST, 6pm GMT #MSFTEduChat TweetMeet, Topic: Best of 2018

December, however, is going to be special! Former #MSFTEduChat hosts have been invited back for a #Bestof2018 event. More than 140 former hosts are facilitating, inviting educators around the world. (Can you find K? Hint – check near #MSFTEduChat.)

The event will not only be in English, but 16 other languages! See the hashtags below for specific languages.

Topic: Best of 2018 #MSFTEduChat TweetMeet - Additional language tracks besides English: #TweetMeetES, #TweetMeetSR, #TweetMeetAR, #TweetMeetDE, #TweetMeetPL, #TweetMeetMK, #TweetMeetPT, #TweetMeetSV, #TweetMeetIT, #TweetMeetRO, #TweetMeetVI, #TweetMeetHI, #TweetMeetHE, #TweetMeetCS, #TweetMeetFR, #TweetMeetRU

During (or after) the event, search #MSFTEduChat on Twitter then click Latest for the most recent posts. Some prefer to use TweetDeck. Twitter has directions for using TweetDeck and you might find this YouTube tutorial by Marjolein Hoekstra helpful. She is one of the #MSFTEduChat organizers and an amazing OneNote guru! Find her on Twitter @OneNoteC.

It’s okay to lurk, but participating in the chat is SO MUCH BETTER!

“But what if I cannot log into Twitter at that time?” No problem! When you have time, search by #MSFTEduChat to add your thoughts to the conversations. A few times, I have been busy during the window so I go on later and type #MSFTEduChat and then Q1 or A1 to see the questions and answers. Then Q2 and A2, etc.

You can also learn more on the Microsoft Education blog. Hopefully you will be able to join us!

What’s YOUR $100 Tech Tip?

As I (K) sit here prepping for a conference session on Microsoft accessibility tools, a tweet popped up in my feed by someone excited about another company’s accessibility features. Upon closer examination, there was a COST to 2 out of the 3 mentioned. Why? Accessibility should be, well, accessible!

100 dollar billI commented to G that sometimes I feel like I have $100 bills that no one will accept. The FREE Microsoft accessibility tools are so amazing and have many uses for MANY PEOPLE! (In fact, my session is called “Accessibility for All”.)

advanced features for Mouse Properties screen in the Pointer Options tab with Hide pointer while typing and Show location of pointer when I press the CTRL key checked.For G, some tips that get the “WOW!” factor are how to make your cursor and mouse pointer larger (especially handy for teachers who project their screens for students) OR, my favorite, how to set it so when you press the CTRL key on a Windows machine, a circle appears around your cursor to help guide those watching. Another is zooming with the CTRL key and the roller on a mouse. (Instructions found here.)

Voice settings in Immersive Reader in Word Online: Voice Speed with a range from turtle to rabbit and Voice Selection Female or MaleFor me, using Immersive Reader in Word Online (and many other programs) to help students with proofreading their writing. Another is using Office Lens on iOS or Android to take a picture of text and have it read to you. Students can take a picture of their textbook and have it read as they follow along. Read about more uses here or check out the full OneNote resource collection.

So, our question to all of you:

What’s YOUR $100 tech tip? That tip that YOU find incredible, but feel like no one else will listen or even give it a try?

We shared some of ours, but we would LOVE to hear from you in the comments. 

 

 

URL Shorteners – Why? Which? How?

Today’s post is all about URL shorteners. While there are many out there, my focus is on ones I have used personally. At the end, I’ve created a chart giving you a quick overview of all 4 and their pros and cons.

Why use URL shorteners? They make life easier when sharing a link verbally or when creating a QR code. Below is an example of 2 QR codes. On the left, the original link. On the right, the link using a URL shortener. Which one could be easier for attendees to capture on their phones, especially if far from the screen?

TINYURL.COM

In July 2017, I did a presentation on Microsoft’s accessibility tools for my local Microsoft Store. I created a OneNote resource to share with attendees using a Tinyurl link.  For example, this takes you to our YouTube channel: https://tinyurl.com/gktechiesyt

Tinyurl is VERY easy to use. Simple paste your link and click Make TinyURL! You can also personalize your link by entering a custom alias in the 2nd field before clicking the Make TinyURL! button. Links are NOT case sensitive. https://tinyurl.com/GKTechiesyt works the same as https://tinyurl.com/gktechiesyt.

screenshot of Tinyurl.com homepage "Welcome to TinyURL"

Easy, quick, and free! However, there was no data, nothing to tell me if anyone was using the resource I created. I kept updating the OneNote for me, but had no idea if others were viewing it.

BITLY.COM

Shortly after that presentation, a colleague told me about Bitly. You can personalize the link, change the link title, AND have data. Example: for internet search tips, see http://bit.ly/InternetSearchTips.  Plus, there is a free version! You can see specific clicks in the last 30 days and the top 3 locations.

Now for the cons: What I found frustrating is that I can see the link for my accessibility resource has been clicked 15,368 times in 55 countries (as of 8/26/18), but cannot see the full list of countries. (UPDATE 5/21/19 – more countries are now listed in the free version! UPDATE 7/1/19 – those countries are gone again) Also, Bitly links ARE CASE SENSITIVE. bit.ly/internetsearchtips will not work, but bit.ly/InternetSearchTips will go to the correct resource.

Bitly analytics with a list of countries and a blue circle graph with 15,582 total clicks in the center

 

DELIVR.COM

Then along came Leslie Fisher‘s webinar and I discovered Delivr. WOW! Now I can see a LOT of data so I started sharing my accessibility notebook with this link: https://delivr.com/27zf2. With Delivr, you can pull a report for the last 90 days to view the traffic to your link. As long as I check it within those days, I can keep track of the countries specifically and even states and provinces.

Also, Delivr links are NOT case sensitive. https://delivr.com/27zf2 goes to the same resource as https://delivr.com/27ZF2.

Delivr data as of 8-26-18

So what are the downsides to the free version? Unlike TinyURL and Bitly, you cannot personalize the end of link so it isn’t as easy to share out verbally. You are also limited to only 5 links at a time. HOWEVER, you can change where the link points to at any time.

For example, I created a handout of internet search tips (Boolean tools) in Word (Bitly link). Then, a colleague imported it into Sway (Bitly link), inspiring me to use that medium instead. The Word link had already been tweeted out and I couldn’t change where it pointed so I had to create a new Bitly. With Delivr, I could have changed it, Internet Search Tips (Delivr link), so people who had the original link would get the newer format.

YELLKEY.COM

If you are sharing a link verbally, Leslie Fisher also introduced me to an incredible tool called Yellkey. What is Yellkey? Basically, when you need to share a link easily and quickly, drop it into Yellkey and a URL is created using yellkey.com/ and a common word is added to the end. For example, yellkey.com/star.

Yellkey - enter URL and length of time for key to exist. Next field for selecting time for link to be live. blue button "generate yellkey" made with love by delta lab

Upside/downside? That link only works for up to 24 hours. You set the time, however.

Be aware that links ARE CASE SENSITIVE. The add on word must be lowercase, according to my tests.

Yellkey enter url and length of time for key to exist. 5 minutes, 10, 15, 30, 1 hour, 3 hours, 6, 12, 24 hours

There are numerous other URL shorteners online, some with dubious reviews like AdFly, which sounds great to monetize your resource, but I found posts talking about viruses and scam questions.

Goo.gl has been used by many, but is no longer an option.

 

COMPARISON CHART and SUMMARY

Bitly: free, but can upgrade to enterprise version for $6-7k a year, overall statistics and the last 30 days available, can customize link. Delivr: free for 5 links, subscription plans available - cheapest is $270/yr for 100 links, detailed overall statistics for the last 90 days available, cannot customize link. TinyURL: cost is free, data is none, can customize link. Yellkey: free, no data, cannot customize link.

They are difficult to rank, but I would put Delivr as my favorite due to the INCREDIBLY DETAILED statistics, though you cannot customize the link and you only get 5 links in the free account version. (If sharing a link verbally, you could paste your Delivr link in Yellkey and then have the user bookmark it.)

Bitly also offers free accounts AND you can customize the links and see overall statistics and 30 days worth of data. There doesn’t seem to be a limit to the number of links you can create. The free version doesn’t let you change the site the link is pointing to, but you could create a fresh Bitly.

Tinyurl is free, lets you customize, but does not give you data. No sign in.

Yellkey is free, does not let you customize, does not give you data, and has a time limit. Sometimes, I did not like the word it created. One example was Yellkey.com/fear which sounded negative, but you can just create another one. No sign in.