Badge: Bloggers Unite to End Abuse

The BlogCatalog calls on bloggers everywhere to unite their individual voices into a strong collective outcry to highlight an important issue. I will be joining this challenge and welcome you to do the same if you have a blog.

On September 27, thousands of bloggers will join together to blog about stopping abuse. The type of abuse is at the discretion of each blogger. If you plan on participating, your post can be about any type of abuse you feel passionate about, whether it’s abuse of women, the elderly, children, animals, or any other type of abuse you want to bring to light.

Just how do you participate?

  • On Sept. 27th, blog about putting an end to some sort of Abuse
  • Spread the word among all the bloggers you know.

What do you get?

  • You will receive a link to your Blog Post from the Blogcatalog blog.
  • You get to use your blog for an important cause.
  • You get to create blogging history.

Together we can help put a stop to abuse. Join me on September 27.

Stop! - image by zd on stock.xchngI sure was surprised to see Lifehacker’s post on how to get around browser-specific blocks. One webmaster decided that in order to avoid site visitors with the Adblock Plus extension of Firefox installed, it was necessary to block all users of the Firefox browser. In other words, he took the step of blocking an entire segment of web users to make sure those who do see his site also see the ads on his site.

Firefox has been my default browser since the moment I discovered it. Internet Explorer now gets used only for Windows Updates. Adblock Plus is a Firefox add-on which allows users to block internet ads and banners from appearing. A filter subscription such as EasyList automatically includes a wealth of known advertisements so filtering begins right away. Say bye-bye to annoying and intrusive ads! Add-ons such as these are a major reason why I prefer to surf the web with Firefox.

The webmaster above claims that Firefox users are less likely to shop online and feels that this justifies his decision. Quite frankly, I have found the opposite to be true. These users tend to be more tech savvy and less hesitant about performing any sort of financial transaction over the Internet. Of the people I personally know never to have made a purchase online, every single one of them uses Internet Explorer. They are casual computer users, prefer to feel merchandise in their hands before shelling out cash, and don’t notice or care which browser they happen to be using. Likewise, those who have made the switch to Firefox are more comfortable researching purchase decisions on the web. They may read buying guides or customer reviews of a particular product and once they have done this research usually go right ahead and complete the purchase online. I personally have bought nearly all of my Christmas presents for the past decade from web retailers. Holiday crowds are not my cup of tea. I tend to spend more online than in brick and mortar stores.

Web developers and site owners constantly search for ways to attract more site visitors. Search engine optimization techniques attempt to bring in more users. Considerations such as load times and navigation architecture attempt to keep visitors once they do manage to find a site. The mantra for anyone involved with web creation is that the experience must be as easy for the user as possible because it is so easy to leave a web page. With just a click (or mouse gesture) a website is no longer in view. With so much collective effort being expended on enhancing the customer experience, the decision to block an entire population of potential customers is one I truly find inexplicable.

Personally, I plan on dealing with browser-specific blocks using a method much easier than the one described by Lifehacker: I’ll simply leave.

Enticing aromas from that freshly ground kona coffee seduce my nostrils. I eagerly lift this mug of french pressed goodness to my lips and savor the flavor. My laptop has already been resting gently upon my thighs. Time to catch up on those RSS feeds. My desktop computer has been on the fritz lately, and rather than pull my hair out struggling to troubleshoot, I’d decided to take a mini-sabbatical from computers in general, including the still functioning laptop. Yes, quite a few unread posts await my attention. That looks interesting. I’ll star it and read it later. Eh, those news stories are no longer news by now. Mark as read.

Wait! What is that? Those are some familiar words being shown on one of my favorite blogs!

Leo Babauta at Zen Habits recently asked his readers to share their single best organizing tool or tip. And share they did! At the time of this writing there are 106 comments. He then shared some of the best of those tips. Mine appears as number 8:

Use the recycling bin/trash basket. Organizing unnecessary items is wasted energy. It is amazing how much more in control I feel just by ridding myself of now outdated articles I’d like to read “someday,” or countless meeting notes from which relevant action items have already been extracted.

This was the first time I’d ever commented on Zen Habits. Feeling a bit sheepish, I didn’t even link my name to my blog when I offered that tip. Zen Habits is a wonderful blog and one I frequent almost religiously for tips and advice. It’s just a couple of lines, but reading words I wrote on such a reputable site felt great.

27 Great Tips to Keep Your Life Organized

One thing about the Internet, at least from my personal experience and from what I learned back in a college Cyberpolitics course, is that it has made elected officials more reachable. I feel heartened whenever politicians I have written to actually do respond to my questions. Sure, they are obviously template responses. Sure, responses seem to come only if the answer is in agreement with my stance. I wouldn’t be surprised if the responses weren’t written by them personally. Nor would I mind.

This blog is not intended to be a forum for controversial political debate and I won’t get into my own views on any potentially charged topics. This topic (hopefully) is benign enough that arguments and name-calling can be avoided.

I wrote NJ Senator Frank Lautenberg and voiced my support in renewing the Breast Cancer Research Stamp. Here is his reply.

Dear Ms. Galang :

Thank you for contacting me with your support for the Breast Cancer Research Stamp. I am a proud cosponsor of the reauthorization bill (S. 597) and I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.

We have made great strides in the war on cancer, in large part because of scientific advances and the dedicated work of oncology physicians and nurses. Cancer mortality rates have declined each year for the past decade. However, despite these promising developments, breast cancer remains the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women in the United States and is the second leading cause of cancer death for women.

It is clear that further research is still needed and the breast cancer stamp has been extremely successful in raising awareness and money for this important work. Since its inception, the stamp has raised over $53 million for breast cancer research. Please be assured that I strongly support the continuation of this stamp and will continue to advocate for increased cancer research.

Thank you again for writing.

It was with great horror that I learned of the bridge collapse in Minnesota. A rush of thoughts steamrolled through my mind. What a devastating loss! For as long as I can remember, anytime I’d cross a bridge a fleeting fear of just this sort of incident would register in the back of my mind. Why did the structure fail? Were appropriate preventive maintenance measures performed? How many people were hurt…or worse?

That last thought made me pause and come back to the first thought. It then occurred to me. The time to reflect can come later.

Real people, for doing nothing more than getting from one place to another, lost their lives. Countless others who did survive will undoubtedly have this event imprinted in their minds for the rest of their lives.

Before the finger pointing starts, before the lessons are learned, before the political grandstanding gets nauseating, let us take a moment to remember the victims.

My heart goes out to those who were on the bridge at that fateful moment. My thoughts are with their families. The City of Minnesota is in my prayers.

Realizing that daily updates from those I follow on Twitter outnumber my total number of updates, I logged in and glanced over at the public timeline. Someone mentioned how saddened she was to hear about Ingmar Bergman. Saddened? Did Bergman die? Sure enough, a couple of clicks later I found that Ingmar Bergman did indeed die earlier today.

Bergman is considered to be one of the most influential film directors of the 20th century. Before being drawn to computer science, I used to want to make my mark in the world as a film maker. I can still remember first mentioning my film making aspirations to a mentor and being referred to Ingmar Bergman’s movies. The Seventh Seal and Through A Glass Darkly quickly made it to my own list of movie recommendations. Using creative outlets to explore dark themes has always been something I’ve been drawn to, and the works of art I admire most seem to reflect the most tormented of souls as creators.

Now Berman is dead. With all the different methods of news delivery methods, I heard about this event through Twitter. Not newspaper. Not CNN. Not the streaming news ticker at the bottom of my local news channel. Definitely not radio. Not from my RSS reader. Not even one of the Twitter members whose updates I follow. I first heard about this through the Twitter public timeline, which refreshes regularly and shows the updates of all Twitter members who elect to keep their updates public.

This got me to thinking about how often I now first hear of something through a social networking site. Obviously, some of the more personal (i.e., not newsmedia-worthy) events are better suited for sharing via Facebook or MySpace. But other happenings which do get covered by more traditional forms of journalism are slowly gaining my attention more effectively through new channels of communication. A bulletin may ask me to sign a petition in support of a Congressional bill and this is what alerts me to a particular debate. A link to results of a study in a scientific study could be shared. Someone running from a steam pipe explosion in New York can provide me with instant firsthand accounts.

Of course, I don’t consider MySpace or Twitter to be credible news sources. When I saw mention of Bergman’s death on Twitter the first thing I did was check another source. I also still rarely see news for the first time on a social networking site. Major news outlets certainly shouldn’t worry about being supplanted by these sites. News obtained through these new avenues of communication don’t happen often enough to change the news industry, but just a handful of occurrences would be enough to get noticed.

Will the news industry one day have to adapt?

If you are like me, you enjoy the plethora of services offered by Google. From email to calendar appointments, to simple word processing documents, quite a bit of data can be accumulated in these various applications. That is a whole lot of data to entrust to Google’s servers!

Adam Pash from Lifehacker has written a thorough post describing backup strategies on the Google services most often used.

My calendar gets synced with Plaxo and my work email already gets downloaded to Thunderbird, but the Lifehacker strategies would greatly strengthen my comfort level in those backups. Also, thought of resubscribing to all those blogs makes me shudder. It’s time to backup those subscriptions!

There are undoubtedly other ways of backing up Google Apps data. Have you found a way to back up your data? Are there any other Google services not covered in the post for which you have found a backup solution?

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. – Jim Rohn

Wishing everyone a safe and fun Fourth of July. To add a bit of nostalgia, here’s a Schoolhouse Rock video clip:

Things do certainly change but it is amazing how much actually stays the same. I spent the weekend going through some old letters, cards, and personal journals. Among the journals found was the first one I wrote in regularly at the age of 12. Entries proclaimed groundbreaking revelations like discovering that I was no longer the only girl in class who had begun menstruating. Posts on boys at the time seemed to center around disgust at the sheer number of times they passed gas. Most of the letters I read were also from when I was aged 12 until about 14. Even those from when I was a few years older were with the same people I had met during those formative years. Sheer nostalgia at revisiting those times soon gave way to another revelation. Insights into personal life experiences may differ quite a bit now and I may respond to situations differently, but the essence of who I am has never changed.

“Don’t think so hard,” was a recurring mantra to me by various friends. Yes, I will readily admit that I am a thinker. I pride myself on continually learning whenever possible. A struggle growing up was sometimes overanalyzing a problem or idea to the point that action was hindered. Although I can’t say I’ve done a complete turnaround, over time I’ve learned to rely on the constant research and trust my gut to instantly make a choice when the time came.
Just the other day I took a quick survey and found that I am the Enneagram Institute Investigative Type.

Enneagram

Several other Enneagram Types also ranked highly for me. All of us can at times display qualities of any one of those types. But yearning to learn more, perceiving minute details, envisioning a world of possibilities – those are all things I do now and have always done.

How about you? Think back to your adolescent days. What qualities about you have changed since then? What continues to be the same? Are you surprised?