Thursday, May 24, 2012

What did you do 1 year ago today?

Timehop: What did you do 1 year ago today?

Ever thought about time travel? Moms think about this stuff ALL THE TIME. What did I do one year ago? I can't even remember what I did one hour ago. We also think about cloning ourselves so we can get more done and get more sleep too.

Well, since cloning humans hasn't quite caught on yet, how about we just focus on time travel for a moment? Check out this service. It's a fun way to take a peek back into your recent history and reflect. Timehop makes it as easy as checking your email. If you know how to create an email rule or filter, you can just make yourself a folder called Journal, for example, and have your email service automatically deliver messages from Timehop to that folder. Then, when ever you're feeling like you need to reflect on the previous year, just click on that folder and see an archive of your previous posts. If you micro-journal your life in 140 like I do, this can be a useful way to look back and remind yourself of projects you may  have left slide. Tweets are archived with links which can come in real handy when you want to revisit a project.

They just added support for archiving your texts from your mobile phone and I'm looking forward to trying that out. Many times I get questions about how to save texts and I think this service may just fit that bill.

Just think of all those kinky little love messages you've sent to your special someone over the course of a year. When you look back on those messages, do you think you'll say to yourself, "Yeah, rock on!" or "Ew. Seriously? So gross."

I think it's an especially great service for scatter-brained moms like me who juggle so many things that a lot can happen in the course of a year. I can read a Timehop message and think, wow, seems like just yesterday when I tweeted about my kiddo's first day of school and awww, look at the snapshot I posted! Cool!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Guest on TeacherCast Podcast #19 “Your Friendly Tech Department'


Listen to my guest spot on this podcast with Jeffrey Bradbury of TeacherCast
source link: http://podcast.teachercast.net/teachercast-podcast-19-your-friendly-tech-department/

Topics Covered:
  • What is a school technician and why are they important to our school?
  • What is the function of the school IT department?
  • How many hats does an IT have to wear during the day?
  • How is being an IT in the upper grades different than in the lower grades?
  • What are some of the duties an IT does during the day?
  • Grant Writing for Technology
  • Who does the IT really work for?
  • How can the IT department influence education?
  • How should we support our IT department?
  • Should schools be using Mac or PC?
  • How can we go paperless in our schools?
  • Why is it so difficult for teachers to work with technology when it is always breaking down?
  • What are some general things that teachers can do to help out their local IT guy? (or gal!)

Knightwise.com Podcast S3ep2 : Macs and Mommies

It's been so long since I've recorded but something about the summer time just seems to kick things off! (Perhaps it's that the Hubby is soon done with school for the summer - yay!) Here is a rare video version of me podcasting/vlogging with my BIB (Belgian Internet Boyfriend), Knightwise. You must check out his stuff. He and his wife are crazy geeks like us - minus kids, plus dogs. (These are my people!!)

If you know me, fast forward through all the boring parts where I talk about myself and say stuff you've probably already heard. The meaty discussion is actually entertaining to listen to and I hope it gets you thinking about how you incorporate tech into your family and in your daily lives.

Share your thoughts in the comments! I'd love to hear from you!
You can follow us on Twitter if you want to geek out across the globe.
@Knightwise and me, @TheMacMommy

Also check out my Google Plus. I plan on interacting over there more too!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

5th Annual TUAW Mother's Day Edition

The Unofficial Apple Weblog hosts a TalkCast every Sunday night. For the past five consecutive years, it's been my privilege to be a guest of honor on the Mother's Day Edition of this podcast.


Click this link to listen to the audio in iTunes.
TUAW Talkcast 2012-05-13: Mother's Day Edition

Podcast Description:
Calling all Mac Mommies out there -- it's our annual Mother's Day show, where we celebrate the Mac, Mom and iOS too. Join Kelly and the crew for the fun!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Gift of Peace of Mind



Did you get your Mom a new gadget for Mother's Day? Are you a Mom who got a new gadget or maybe you bought a little somethin-somethin for yourself? I just did! I also got myself a bonus — a SquareTrade Warranty to protect my new arrival.
You get health insurance for your kiddos so why not get accidental insurance for your gadgets?
Peace of mind and sanity savers are wonderful gifts for Moms! Click on the logo image and you'll receive a discount and I get a referral credit! Win-win!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Febrile Seizures - Our Story

My aim in sharing this horror story is to bring about awareness of febrile seizures and the aftermath. If left unattended, they could become far more serious. Please take some time to learn more about febrile seizures so you can act quickly and appropriately.

A friend shared a post with me today and due to the subject, I felt compelled to read it in its entirety and comment at length on it because it hits so close to home. My comment in response to I Heard God Laugh. And It Sounded Like Screaming — Velveteen Mind is as follows (edited by me for this post):

For those of you who may not know, my son, Keagan, has had two febrile seizures during his two and a half years of life. The first happened early last year, and by the grace of God, RIGHT IN FRONT of his Pediatrician during a well checkup. We were just about to leave as it happened and he became unresponsive and then seized. I'll never be able to express how grateful I was that if it was going to happen that it happened in the best place possible! It was terrifying and it has caused a great deal of PTSD for me. I have nightmares and constant paranoia about his health whenever he gets the smallest of common colds.

If there was a silver lining with that experience it was that it helped to prepare me for the next one that happened within two months. I was terrified yet able to keep my cool knowing that I absolutely had to in order to keep him safe while he was seizing.

The doctors have assured me over and over that these seizures are mostly harmless but it's sooooo hard to believe when you watch helplessly as they look like they are dying violently right before your eyes and there is nothing you can do!

The look on his little face still haunts me. His lips turned blue so quickly and the violent seizure was so terrifying. My only saving grace was that I had witnessed it before and knew I just had to try not to fight it and just keep him safe which meant holding him, but not too tightly and laying him down gently if need be so he wouldn't fling himself out of my arms or off a chair. It's overwhelming how mighty a seizure can make a child of that size. (If you know Keagan, he is already mighty!)

The other thing that still breaks my heart to this day is carrying the guilt that I inadvertently caused the second seizure and now how I have to make adjustments like not holding him so much when he is feverish. That is very hard to do since we are both so cuddly with each other.

When your child is sick, your first reaction is to want to hold them and cuddle them and make them feel better. The fact that they too want to be held and cuddled makes it that much harder. Here is where the problem started with the second. We were all sick and tired from being sick. He wasn't feeling well and so he wanted to snuggle. I fell asleep holding him on the recliner. At all but two years old, I felt it was safe to do so since he is a robust climber and very strong.

As we both lay sleeping, his fever rose so quickly and spiked because of my additional body heat while holding him. It wasn't until he started crying and begging for me to hold him more that it jarred me awake and then he started drooling and becoming unresponsive and began convulsing and vomiting on me. I was able to recognize it was a seizure right away. I always, always have my iPhone either in my pocket or under my pillow or somewhere within reach, so I quickly loaded the stopwatch app and timed the seizure while calling 911. I held on to him, but not too tightly and while it was so hard to do, just tried to stay calm, not panic and the 911 operator hung on with me as we rode it out and she sent first responders on their way to the house just to check him out as he came out of it to make sure he was really done. Bless those EMTs and First Responders!

Fevers and common illnesses are an absolute minefield for us when it comes to Keagan. We were all about letting the fevers do their job and prior to the seizures, we never rushed to medicate because whenever we did, it just prolonged the sickness. But, now with Keagan, we watch his fevers like a hawk and medicate as soon as it gets above 100. We track both the boys health issues in a logging app so we can see patterns if needed and just to be able to answer questions doctors ask that you never seem to know when you need to!

I must take a moment to plug (again) one of my all-time favorite apps from ANDESigned called Total Baby. Much like a fine wine, this app just keeps getting better with age. I've been using it since the developer gifted it to me to review when Keagan was born, back in 2009. For the first year, I used this app every day, several times a day. I still use it now when the boys are sick and to log their symptoms, medications, pediatric appointments, growth and milestones. This app is so incredible it makes me want to have another baby just so I can use it even more intensely than I did before! Ok, I know that's crazy geeky talk, but that's how much I love this app and all the hard work and love the developers pour into their product.

While dealing with Keagan's seizures, I reached out to my online community for support and felt that lifeline connection to perfect strangers offering their moral support when I needed it most. Keagan and I were just peacefully napping together and to think that my holding him was what pushed his fever over the edge makes me rest uneasy.

I pray for all our little ones that they outgrow these seizures and that they don't come back or cause any permanent damage. My heart breaks for the parents, like my cousin and her daughter, who have to go through this regularly and with grand mal seizures and/or epilepsy. I thank God these are just febrile seizures yet it doesn't change how terrifying and haunting the image of your child's face and lips turning blue right before your eyes and the helplessness you feel.

I wish the best of luck to Megan and thank her for sharing her story. It's so important for caregivers to look out for the warning signs early and know what to do! Awareness is crucial and could really save a life!

I hope this helps someone in their time of need.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Protecting Your Identity: Some Observations

A client of mine forwarded to me a message she had gotten with tips for how to protect your identity and that is what has inspired this post. Below is an edited version of what I wrote back to her. I hope you find it useful.

I just finished getting all 3 of my free credit reports from www.annualcreditreport.com

I won't lie, obtaining your credit report is TRICKY!! All these sites out there try their very best to get you to purchase a credit report or a credit score report using their service. They say in big, bold letters that this is all FREE but then in teeny, tiny letters elsewhere, it's only free for the first month and then if you don't cancel the membership they rope you in to, they charge your card seventeen bucks each month and for what I really don't know nor care to know!!

Just for fun, I dipped my finger into the ordering process to see where and when they ask for my credit card. I didn't get past the Terms of Service Agreement. I first wanted to know how to cancel the membership. The only instructions I could find is that you have to either go to another site and work with an "interactive" customer service representative online OR you can call a phone number. They have limited hours of operation in both cases.

Bottom line is DO NOT BITE!! You will just end up with a hole in your lip - and - wallet!

The only reason I would ever try to get and then weasel out of this is if I were looking to buy a house and I really needed to know my credit score. It may happen in the near future, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Here are some notes I copied and pasted from the website as I was going through the process. Be prepared to be perplexed by the questions they ask to verify your identity. They use a combination of trick questions and questions that you will probably easily know the answer to. For example, they stated that I may have applied for a mortgage and wanted to know which bank secured the loan. It was a trick question so I answered None of the Above. Then they tried to ask me how much the monthly payments were. Again the answer was None of the Above. So, you need to understand that they are trying to trick a thief, not you, so they can verify your identity. Take a deep breath and try to remember what the answers might be. Try to answer them quickly though before the website session times out! From what I experienced, the questions they ask are relevant to the past few years, not like who was your best friend when you were five years old.

The first on my list was TransUnion. This is their welcome message:

Thank you for selecting TransUnion for your FREE Personal Credit Report.
Your credit report is just moments away.
To protect your privacy, we'll ask you a few questions to verify your identity.
To complete the next section, you may need to refer to information including, but not limited to, your credit cards, loans and mortgages. Please have any statements or documents available.
Please make sure you have the ability to print if you would like to retain your credit report.
To receive your free credit report online, you must complete the identity verification process. If you don't wish to complete the process online or you can't complete it online, you may obtain your free credit report by phone or mail. You can only go through the online identity verification process once per year.
Please Note: Before continuing, you'll need to verify that the information displayed below is accurate. To make changes, please visit www.annualcreditreport.com.

But….but…..it's FREE, FREE, FREE!!!!
(maybe, but you'll have to work for it! Sorry, my anxiety isn't free. It costs a dollar a pill for Zoloft!!)
"Start your 7-day risk-free trial, $16.95/month thereafter!  Cancel anytime during the trial period free of charge, or do nothing to have your membership continue without interruption. "

A member may cancel at any time. To cancel your membership please contact our Customer Service Team. For contact information and hours of service go to https://tui.transunion.com/contact.jsp.

Yeah, uh huh. Suuuuuure. Oh, how convenient it is that the website is currently closed! Gee, I wonder what language the phone operator will speak when I call? What's YOUR guess?
Here is a screen shot of what it looked like as I completed printing to PDF the first of the three reports.
One mistake I made was not changing the Print to PDF settings to make it print in color. I ended up with a greyscale version which isn't as easy on the eyes. Oh bother! At the end of getting the Experian report, they told me this:

To return to your Experian report in the near future, log on to www.experian.com/consumer and select "View your report again" or "Dispute" and enter your Report Number.

So, I tried doing something similar on the TransUnion site, but no luck! Bummer. Oh well, at least I have the report now.

This next section I copied and pasted from one of the websites regarding your rights to this information. I thought it was pretty important.
Remedying the Effects of Identity Theft
  • Identity theft occurs when someone uses your name, Social Security number, date of birth, or other identifying information, without authority, to commit fraud. For example, someone may have committed identity theft by using your personal information to open a credit card account or get a loan in your name. For more information, visit www.consumer.gov/idtheft or write to: FTC, Consumer Response Center, Room 130-B, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C., 20580.
  • The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives you specific rights when you are, or believe that you are, the victim of identity theft. Here is a brief summary of the rights designed to help you recover from identity theft.
  • You have the right to ask that nationwide consumer reporting agencies place "fraud alerts" in your file to let potential creditors and others know that you may be a victim of identity theft. A fraud alert can make it more difficult for someone to get credit in your name because it tells creditors to follow certain procedures to protect you. It also may delay your ability to obtain credit. You may place a fraud alert in your file by calling just one of the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies. As soon as that agency processes your fraud alert, it will notify the other two, which then also must place fraud alerts in your file.
  • An initial fraud alert stays in your file for at least 90 days. An extended alert stays in your file for seven years. To place either of these alerts, a consumer reporting agency will require you to provide appropriate proof of your identity, which may include your Social Security number. If you ask for an extended alert, you will have to provide an identity theft report. An identity theft report includes a copy of a report you have filed with a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency, and additional information a consumer reporting agency may require you to submit. For more detailed information about the identity theft report, visit www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
  • Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com
  • Experian: 1-888-397-3742; www.experian.com
  • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com
  • You have the right to free copies of the information in your file (your "file disclosure"). An initial fraud alert entitles you to a copy of all the information in your file at each of the three nationwide agencies, and an extended alert entitles you to two free file disclosures in a 12-month period following the placing of the alert. These additional disclosures may help you detect signs of fraud, for example, whether fraudulent accounts have been opened in your name or whether someone has reported a change in your address. Once a year, you also have the right to a free copy of the information in your file at any consumer reporting agency, if you believe it has inaccurate information due to fraud, such as identity theft. You also have the ability to obtain additional free file disclosures under other provisions of the FCRA. See www.ftc.gov/credit.
  • You have the right to obtain documents relating to fraudulent transactions made or accounts opened using your personal information. A creditor or other business must give you copies of applications and other business records relating to transactions and accounts that resulted from the theft of your identity, if you ask for them in writing. A business may ask you for proof of your identity, a police report, and an affidavit before giving you the documents. It also may specify an address for you to send your request. Under certain circumstances, a business can refuse to provide you with these documents. See www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
  • You have the right to obtain information from a debt collector. If you ask, a debt collector must provide you with certain information about the debt you believe was incurred in your name by an identity thief - like the name of the creditor and the amount of the debt.
  • If you believe information in your file results from identity theft, you have the right to ask that a consumer reporting agency block that information from your file. An identity thief may run up bills in your name and not pay them. Information about the unpaid bills may appear on your consumer report. Should you decide to ask a consumer reporting agency to block the reporting of this information, you must identify the information to block, and provide the consumer reporting agency with proof of your identity and a copy of your identity theft report. The consumer reporting agency can refuse or cancel your request for a block if, for example, you don't provide the necessary documentation, or where the block results from an error or a material misrepresentation of fact made by you. If the agency declines or rescinds the block, it must notify you. Once a debt resulting from identity theft has been blocked, a person or business with notice of the block may not sell, transfer, or place the debt for collection.
  • You also may prevent businesses from reporting information about you to consumer reporting agencies if you believe the information is a result of identity theft. To do so, you must send your request to the address specified by the business that reports the information to the consumer reporting agency. The business will expect you to identify what information you do not want reported and to provide an identity theft report.
To learn more about identity theft and how to deal with its consequences, visit www.consumer.gov/idtheft, or write to the FTC. You may have additional rights under state law. For more information, contact your local consumer protection agency or your state attorney general.
In addition to the new rights and procedures to help consumers deal with the effects of identity theft, the FCRA has many other important consumer protections. They are described in more detail at www.ftc.gov/credit.
Here is the supposed advice that was doled out by an attorney and emailed around the internet for free: (MY comments and advice are bullet points after the initial claim from the originally circulated email.)

Claim 1. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put 'PHOTO ID REQUIRED.'
Claim 2. When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, DO NOT put the complete account number on the 'For' line. Instead, just put the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, and anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check processing channels won't have access to it.
  • Even safer yet, don't write out paper checks to pay bills, reduce the amount of human eyeballs on your digits. Pay bills online.
Claim 3. Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a PO Box use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a PO Box, use your work address. Never have your SS# printed on your checks. (DUH!) You can add it if it is necessary. But if you have It printed, anyone can get it.
  • Second verse, same as the first! Even safer yet, don't write out paper checks to pay bills, reduce the amount of human eyeballs on your digits. Pay bills online, shop online (you'll save on tax and many times shipping plus it's delivered to your door and then you save on gas in your car. When purchasing goods or services at a store, use your check or debit card. Using the card is just like writing a check but it's quicker, more secure, plus it gives you a digital bread crumb trail that you can track and search when need be to file your taxes or keep an eye on your account
Claim 4. Place the contents of your wallet on photocopy machine. Do both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place. I also carry a photocopy of my passport when I travel either here or abroad. We've all heard horror stories about fraud that's committed on us in stealing a Name, address, Social Security number, credit cards.
  • Forget the copy machine and especially one at a public facility like a Kinkos — not safe — your information could be stolen from the imprints left behind. Use your scanner. The ultimate for this method of securing your identity is to scan all your wallet contents then file the images with corresponding database entries in 1Password. Once you have all of that information entered, you can print out a hard copy to be filed away in a fire-proof safe. Also, make backups of that digital data and keep it encrypted. This way, if the need ever arises, you can actually READ the information because it will be printed out in crisp text, not some blurry photocopy. If your wallet has been stolen, chances are you'll be in such a panic that your eyes might not work as well and you'll be stressed about locating that information quickly. Why not make it easier on yourself and just print out a 1Password report that is easier to read and understand!
Claim 5. We have been told we should cancel our credit cards immediately. But the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them.
  • Using the information above that you gather for contacts, it's essential to report your missing or stolen identity to the proper authorities where usually THEY will issue the cancellation and get you set up with a new card. Follow the proper channels for the least amount of headache. Reclaiming your identity can become a full time job! Sad, but true.
Claim 6. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc., were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).
  • Most definitely! Look for your local police department or identity theft department and include those numbers on the list of those to call in the case of a stolen identity emergency.
Claim 7. Call the 3 national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and also call the Social Security fraud line number. I had never heard of doing that until advised by a bank that called to tell me an application for credit was made over the Internet in my name. The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.
  • You can do this online and it is relatively easy and not too time consuming. You are granted one FREE credit report per year. If you've been a victim of identity theft then you get more than one.
Claim 8. Numbers you always need to contact about your wallet, if it has been stolen:
                   Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
                   Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
                   Trans Union : 1-800-680 7289
                   Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271 
  • I double-checked these numbers against the ones I obtained while completing the process and they are the same with the websites added on for another contact method
I know this is a boatload of information, but I've been the victim of identity theft and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy! (well, except for the people who have stolen my identity!) I hope this helps!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Knightwise.com Podcast Interview

Brought to you by Knightwise.com featuring Yours Truly for your listening pleasure

http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=518705267

Correction, Knightwise is one of **MY** personal Internet Heroes!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Big Girl Steps

Yesterday I bought my very first luggage set, ever! I've never in my life actually owned a suitcase. In the traveling I have done, it's always been with backpacks and duffel bags — diaper bags even.

This is major big girl stuff right here!

I'm so proud of this set of suitcases, especially because they are purple! (to match my laptop, of course) They have spinning wheels on the bottom and two-position locking pull bars. The boys love pulling them across the floor and spinning them around. Right now, Keagan enjoys hiding his toys in them and playing with the zippers.

It wasn't until I got them home that I realized they are made by Oleg Cassini. I personally care very little about brand names and fashion so I had to laugh at myself there. I just care about how durable they look and the set was under $100 so the price was right.

I have a set of purple suitcases! (doing the happy Snoopy dance!)

I also got an "Phone Pod Universal Smart Phone Holder" and I LOVE it! I clip it to Keagan's stroller and he is happy and content to play Angry Birds Space and watch Blues Clues on Netflix!

Ok, so now all I need to do is book our flights and arrange for transportation to and from the airport for us all. sigh. I just want to vomit thinking about the air fare and travel stress but I'm excited to see my family and friends in June and July. I can't believe it's been two years since we've traveled back east. How time flies. Now it's time to fly!

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