Tag Archives: tips

Tech Tips: Stuff you didn’t know you could do on Facebook

Did you know you can add a pronunciation guide to your name on Facebook?

Overlay colorful text on the photos you post?

How about mark the end of a relationship without your 500 closest friends getting notified?

Many of these tips and tricks aren’t well known, even to veterans of the 1.5 billion-strong people-connector and time-waster.

Facebook is constantly updating its service, adding new features or tweaking old ones. A lot can slip through the cracks even if you are scrolling through your friends’ updates several times a day.

Here are a few ways to enhance your Facebook experience:

HOW DO YOU SAY THAT?

More than 83 percent of Facebook’s users are outside of the U.S. and Canada, and they use over 80 languages to communicate with friends and family. That’s a lot of people, and a lot of different ways to say your name. To add a pronunciation guide, go to the “about” section of your profile and click on “details about you,” (called “more about you” on mobile) then “name pronunciation.” Here, Facebook will offer suggestions for your first and last name that you can listen to before selecting. If none work, you can also type in your own phonetic pronouncer.

ONE-TIME PASSWORD

Logging in from a public computer? If you don’t feel comfortable typing in your password on a shared machine that might have malicious software, Facebook lets you request a temporary one by texting “otp” to 32665. You’ll get an eight-character passcode that works for the next 20 minutes and cannot be reused.

UNSUBSCRIBE

Anyone who’s commented on a popular Facebook post, or belongs to a particularly chatty group, knows that those notifications telling you that “Jane Doe and 4 others also commented on a post” can get a bit annoying.

You can turn off notifications for individual posts by clicking on the globe icon on the top right corner of your Web browser, then on the “X” next to the individual notification. You can also change your notification settings here to get fewer or more of them for each group that you belong to.

To do this on mobile, click to view the original post, then click the down arrow in the top right corner of the post. You’ll see an option to “turn off notifications.”

KEEP IT ON THE DOWN-LOW

Announcing engagements and marriages on Facebook is fun. Post and watch the likes and congrats roll in. Bask in the love and glory. Fast-forward a few years for some couples, and the glory fades, not to mention the love and marriage. In this case, you might not want to announce the irreversible breakdown to 450 of your closest friends.

Thankfully, you can still mark the end of a relationship without notifying everyone. Go to your profile and click on the “about” section, then “family and relationships on the left.” Under relationship, you’ll see a gray icon that probably says “friends,” or maybe “public.” Change it to “only me.” Then change your relationship status. After a while, you can change it back if you wish. Your hundreds of acquaintances will be none the wiser, unless they are stalking your profile to see if you are single.

PICTURE PERFECT

Thanks to a popular but little-known new feature, Facebook lets you spruce up the photos you post by adding text and quirky stickers, such as drawings of scuba gear, sunglasses or a corn dog. This tool is available on iPhones and is coming soon to Android devices. To use it, choose a photo to upload and click the magic wand icon. Here, you’ll find text overlay options as well as the same stickers you can use in other parts of Facebook.

Many of these tips and tricks aren’t well known, even to veterans of the 1.5 billion-strong people-connector and time-waster.

Facebook is constantly updating its service, adding new features or tweaking old ones. A lot can slip through the cracks even if you are scrolling through your friends’ updates several times a day.

SECURITY

Another recent addition to Facebook’s trove of tools is a “security checkup” that guides users through a checklist aimed at making their account more secure. This includes logging out of Facebook on Web browsers and apps they are not using, and receiving alerts when someone tries to log in to their account from an unfamiliar device or browser. To use it, go to https://www.facebook.com/help/securitycheckup on your computer _ this feature is not yet available on the mobile app.

Got more tips to share? Find WiG on Facebook and share there.

Greening the holidays: Reuse, recycle, repurpose

The arrival of Black Friday brings on the frenzy: Buy, wrap, waste; then buy more, wrap more, waste more.

So WiG invited a dozen leaders of local, state and national environmental groups — from Audubon Society and Sierra Club chapters to the national Keep America Beautiful — to offer tips to brighten the green in the red and green season.

The consensus:

• Those reusable tote bags aren’t just for groceries. Use them when shopping for gifts. And use them instead of wrapping paper when giving gifts. Another wrapping paper alternative — fabrics or newsprint. 

• If using mail-order shipping, ask the seller — or shipping company — to pack items with paper rather than polystyrene packing peanuts.

• There need not be shame in second-hand. WiG came across a certified pre-owned iPad Mini for under $200 at Gazelle.com and big discounts on unused gift cards at GiftCardGranny.com. 

• For holiday hellos, consider sending e-greetings or reduce the amount of paper by sending postcards instead of greeting cards inside envelopes.

• When decorating, look for natural ornaments (pine cones, shells, dried flowers, berries) and recycled curios (glass, wood, metals, fabrics) rather than items made of non-biodegradable plastics or manufactured using petroleum-based products.

• LED holiday lights use less energy than incandescent bulbs. And there are eco-friendly alternatives to burning paraffin candles. 

• Recycle the Christmas tree. If your community doesn’t recycle trees, use the bulk of the tree for firewood and use the branches for mulch under acid-loving bushes and shrubs, such as evergreens and rhododendrons.

• Recycle electronics. Don’t trash broken or unwanted appliances and electronics or old batteries. Hold onto them to take to an e-scrap collection. And trade smaller items at ecoATM kiosks at shopping malls for cash or coupons. 

• Donate rather than discard items. When new gifts replace working but old possessions, donate them to a charitable cause or give them away. Check out the Freecycle Network at freecycle.org.

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Deer ticks, Lyme disease among the hazards of Wisconsin summers

Ah, summer in Wisconsin. Backyard barbecues and music festivals. Sidewalk dining on streets festooned with colorful flower baskets. Camping, hiking, mountain biking and fishing.

Deer ticks and Lyme disease. 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lyme disease, which is spread by deer ticks (also known as black-legged ticks) is the most commonly reported and fastest growing vector-borne disease in the United States. About 300,000 people are affected each year, according to the CDC.

Wisconsin lies within the disease’s primary range. Ninety-five percent of the cases reported in 2012 were in New England, the mid-Atlantic states, Minnesota and Wisconsin, the CDC reported. 

Since 1990, Wisconsin has identified 28,446 confirmed, probable and estimated cases. The state saw steady growth in the number of cases from 1990 to 2011, when 3,609 confirmed and probable cases were reported. There was a drop in 2012, the most recent year for which data are available. 

The increased presence of deer ticks in Wisconsin and the growing number of ticks that are infected with Borrelia (Lyme disease) have made Wisconsin’s great outdoors a more dangerous place than it was a decade ago, according to UW-Madison professor of entomology Susan Paskewitz. The tick’s range also is expanding — both northward and southward, she says. The arachnids are now found in eastern and heavily populated southeastern Wisconsin, where people didn’t have to worry about them in the past.

Not only is the number of ticks carrying Lyme disease on the rise, but also the number of diseases carried by the ticks is greater than previously believed.

One glimmer of encouraging news is that the unusually harsh winter of 2013–14 appears to have diminished — or at least delayed — the onslaught of deer ticks in the state. During a recent field trip to state forests in the northern part of the state, Paskewitz found 60 to 90 percent fewer of the critters at the nymph stage than she found at this time last year. The ticks are most infectious at the nymph, or pre-adult, stage of development, because they are so tiny that they can easily evade detection — not much larger than the tip of a pen. 

Difficult to diagnose

Most tick bites do not result in the transmission of Borrelia, the bacteria that causes Lyme. Those that do tend to leave the defining mark of a bull’s-eye rash, which typically appears 3-30 days after the tick bite. Other symptoms include rash, fever, headache, chills, muscle pain and joint pain.

Some people who are infected never become sick, and others exhibit no signs of the disease until it has progressed to later stages, making diagnosis difficult. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical, because untreated Lyme disease can evolve into a debilitating chronic condition that lasts for years.

Even when treated, Lyme disease can cause fatigue, body aches, migraines and fevers long after the initial course of antibiotics is finished.

Many doctors remain unaware of chronic Lyme, which is named after the Connecticut city where it was first identified. Activists have battled with doctors and insurance companies in recent years to recognize chronic Lyme disease and to prescribe and pay for the prolonged treatment it requires. 

A two-day protest by victims of chronic Lyme disease and people who were misdiagnosed was staged May 22–23 at the Infectious Diseases Society of America headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. 

Victims of the disease include 1980s pop star Debbie Gibson, who headlined FruitFest in Madison this year. She had to cancel her appearance at last year’s FruitFest, and she later revealed via blog and to reporters that she was suffering from Lyme disease.

Gibson’s grim experience mirrors that of many people who are infected.

At first, she had a hard time obtaining an accurate diagnosis — an all-too-common problem among Lyme sufferers. The symptoms are similar to those of many other infections. So unless the patient lives in a heavily affected area, Lyme is not usually one of the first possibilities that doctors consider.

Gibson, who thought she had mononucleosis, said that Lyme was the last thing her doctor suspected. Her condition continued to worsen until she suffered from numbness and tingling in her hands and feet — a problem she described to People magazine as “very disconcerting for a pianist and dancer, to say the least.”

Eventually, she told People, she developed night sweats, fever, nerve tremors, nightmares and migraines. She experienced dramatic weight loss that prompted rude remarks and speculation online that she was anorexic. Before she began treatment, Gibson’s cognitive thinking was so impaired that she lost her sense of direction. 

Gibson finally found what she called a “Lyme-literate doctor,” who put her on an intense round of antibiotics and other medications. It was then that her slow recovery finally began.

Multiple infections

Another complication of diagnosing Lyme disease is that deer ticks can carry a host of other infections that have similar symptoms, and patients can be infected with more than one pathogen from a single bite. At least 14 infections are carried by various species of ticks. The most common ones in Wisconsin are: 

• Human anaplasmosis. There are about 500 new cases of this tick-borne disease in Wisconsin each year, Paskewitz says. Symptoms include a sudden onset of high fever (102 degrees or more), chills, severe headache and muscle aches. The symptoms appear 1-3 weeks after an infectious tick bite. Although people of all ages can get anaplasmosis, it is most severe in the elderly. If left untreated with a suitable antibiotic, it can result in organ failure and death. An infected tick must be attached at least 12-24 hours to transmit the human anaplasmosis bacteria.

• Babesiosis. Symptoms include high fever, muscle aches, fatigue, headache and loss of appetite. Symptoms usually appear 1-6 weeks after a deer tick bite, but may take longer in some individuals. Most people infected with the parasite will have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. However, people who are immune compromised may develop a severe, possibly fatal, illness.

• Ehrlichiosis. Symptoms, ranging from mild body aches to severe fever and vomiting, usually appear within a week or two after the bite of an infected tick. If treated quickly with appropriate antibiotics, ehrlichiosis generally improves within a few days. If not, it can result in life-threatening damage to the central nervous system. The disease did not appear in Wisconsin until 2011.

In addition to worrying about deer ticks, humans need to know that other species of disease-carrying ticks are expanding their range in the direction of Wisconsin. For instance, most of the Lyme disease found in Wisconsin currently is carried by the deer tick, classified by entomologists as Ixodes scapularis. But ticks of the Ixodes affinis genus, which also carry Lyme, have moved from the southeastern United States into states as far away as Wisconsin and New York.

Lone Star ticks, originally confined to the Southeast, have increased their range as far north as northeastern Missouri. The Lone Star tick carries the deadly Heartland virus, which cannot be treated with antibiotics. 

The Wisconsin Department of Health Service strongly urges people to seek medical attention right away if they develop signs or symptoms of any tick-related illnesses after spending time in areas where ticks are found. Early diagnosis and treatment are vital to preventing severe illness. 

“There are over 300,000 cases of Lyme each year and only 10 percent are picked up,” Dr. Robert Bransfield, clinical professor at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical school, told ABC News. “As a result, many people go on to late-stage symptoms that could have otherwise been avoided.”

PROTECT YOURSELF

While there is a vaccine to protect family pets against Lyme disease, there’s no approved vaccination for humans. The only protection for people is to avoid disease-bearing ticks.

Experts recommend that people spending time outdoors check themselves for ticks periodically and remove them immediately. It takes 24 to 48 hours for the tick to transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. The following precautions are advised for people spending time outdoors in the summer:

• Know when you’re in tick habitat — brushy, wooded areas — where you will need to take precautions.   

• Use a good tick repellent, such as a product containing permethrin or DEET, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.   

• Wear clothes that will help to shield you from ticks. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants are best. Tuck your pants into the top of your socks or boots to create a “tick barrier.”   

• Check frequently for ticks and remove them promptly. This is an important step in preventing disease.   

• Remove the tick slowly and gently using a pair of tweezers. Folk remedies like Vaseline, nail polish remover or matches are not safe or effective methods of tick removal.

— Source: Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Ask a Designer: tips for flea-market shoppers

The arrival of spring means that flea markets are reopening for business around the country. Shoppers will hunt for treasures amid acres of used goods. A few will come home with just the right vintage art or quirky piece of furniture to make their home more beautiful.

Jaime Rummerfield, co-founder of Woodson & Rummerfield’s House of Design in Los Angeles, sometimes mixes flea-market finds with high-end new furnishings to decorate the homes of her celebrity clients.

“The beauty of flea markets,” she says, “is you never know what you will find. There’s nothing like being outdoors or in a place off the beaten path rummaging through old treasures.”

Los Angeles-based interior designer Brian Patrick Flynn, creator of the FlynnsideOut design blog, also hunts for vintage pieces: “I shop second-hand regardless of my project’s budget or client’s level of taste,” he says. “Vintage and thrift is the best way to add one-of-a-kind flair to a space without insanely high cost.”

There is luck involved, of course. But skill also plays a role.

As you browse crowded tables of used things this spring, how can you find the treasures that will give your home an infusion of style while avoiding decorating disasters?

Here, Flynn, Rummerfield and another interior designer who shops for vintage decor — Lee Kleinhelter of the Atlanta-based design firm and retail store Pieces — tell how they do it.

WHEN TO GO

Winter and early spring are perfect for flea-market shopping, says Flynn.

“Since ‘thrifting’ and ‘antiquing’ are often associated with gorgeous weather and weekend shenanigans, many people shy away from hunting for their vintage finds when it’s cold or gloomy,” he notes, so go now and go early.

“I usually show up just as the flea market opens to ensure I see every new item as it’s put out on display,” he says. “When you wait until the end of a flea market’s run to check out its stuff, you’re likely to find mostly leftovers, things priced too highly which others passed over, or things that are just way too taste-specific for most people to make offers on.”

TIME TRAVEL

Rummerfield occasionally finds signed artwork and ceramics by noteworthy artists at flea markets and antique malls.

“It is amazing to see what people cast away,” she says. “I personally hunt for Sasha Brastoff ceramics because of his unique California heritage as a set decorator and artist.” She has also found vintage Billy Haines chairs and Gio Ponti lighting at flea markets.

So read up on the designers and artists from your favorite periods, and then hunt for their work or impressive knockoffs.

A single flea market might offer goods from every decade of the 20th century. Can you put a lamp from the 1970s on a table from 1950? Yes, if the shapes and colors work well together, Kleinhelter says.

If your home has contemporary decor, Rummerfield says it can be powerful to add one statement piece _ a side table, say, or a light fixture — from a previous era.

But “a little bit goes a long way. Use vintage in moderation with contemporary spaces,” Rummerfield says. “It will highlight the uniqueness of the vintage item. You don’t necessarily want to live in a time capsule.”

FIXER-UPPERS

You may assume that old upholstered furniture should be avoided, especially if the fabric looks dirty or damaged. But these designers say it’s actually a great thing to hunt for: “Hands down, upholstery is the best deal to walk away with at flea markets. Just make sure you train your eye to pay no attention to the existing fabrics,” Flynn says. “Zero in on the lines of the frames instead.”

Kleinhelter agrees: “I usually gravitate toward the bones and frames of vintage pieces, and I make them my own by adding fun fabric or lacquering the base.”

The same goes for lighting. Buy it if you love it, but get the wiring updated by a professional. Flynn usually estimates an extra $50 to $75 per fixture for updating the wiring, so keep that cost in mind as you bargain.

MIX AND MATCH

Be on the lookout for pieces you can use together. “You don’t need multiples of the same chair or sofa to make a room work,” Flynn says. “Stick with those which have similar scale and proportion, then recover them in the same fabric.”

Once you get home, use flea market finds sparingly, Flynn says, mixing them in with the pieces you already own: “A few big pieces mixed with some smaller ones added to your existing stuff can instantly take an unfinished space and make it feel way more finished and remarkably personal.”

MONEY ADVICE

“The best way to get an amazing deal is to buy a bunch of different items from the same vendor,” says Flynn. “This way, they can actually lower their prices since you’re guaranteeing them more sales, which in turn also makes their packing up and leaving much easier.”

You should bargain, but don’t go so low that you’ll insult the seller. “If something is marked $185, it’s probably not ideal to offer $50,” Flynn says. One option is to negotiate for a 25 percent to 35 percent discount.

And do bring cash. “Mom and pop dealers don’t have the luxury of taking credit cards due to the charges acquired,” Flynn says. “If you bring enough cash with you, you’re more likely to be able to negotiate successfully.”

PERSONAL TASTE

Above all, choose items that delight you.

“I never focus on eras or hunt for specific designers,” Kleinhelter says. “Pick what you like.”

And be open to serendipity.

“When I’m looking for furniture, I always stumble across a good vintage jewelry or clothing vendor and end up with a fun bauble of a bracelet or necklace,” Rummerfield says. “Prices are usually so reasonable, you come away with a good amount of loot. It is always a day well spent.”

Got digital spare change? Starbucks to allow digital tipping with app

Starbucks will soon let customers leave tips with its mobile payment app, which raises the question – how often do people tip their baristas?

The coffee chain says the mobile tipping option, which it announced more than a year ago, will be available on its updated app for iPhones starting March 19. The rollout comes as the company’s app has surged in popularity, with roughly one out of every 10 purchases now made with a mobile device.

After paying with the app, Starbucks says customers will be able to leave a tip of 50 cents, $1 or $2 anytime within two hours of the transaction. The tipping option will only be available at the 7,000 of the roughly 11,000 Starbucks locations in the U.S. that are owned by the company.

The move puts a spotlight on what can be a sensitive topic for customers, workers and even Starbucks, which has faced lawsuits over how it divvies up the contents of tip jars among workers. Some customers are happy to tip for friendly service, knowing that baristas don’t earn that much. Others say that they already fork over enough money and shouldn’t be made to feel like they should throw money into a tip jar as well.

Zee Lemke, who has worked as a Starbucks barista in Wisconsin for more than three years, said most customers nevertheless leave a tip of some sort. She said tips generally add between $1.50 and $2 to her hourly pay of $9.05. But she noted that there’s no rule on how much baristas can expect to earn from tips.

“It varies a lot from store to store, even in the same city,” Lemke said. At the drive-thru location where she works, for instance, she said tips go down when it’s cold out and people are less likely to reach out and put money in the tip box that hangs off a ledge.

Lemke, 30, said mobile tipping has the potential to boost the amount she earns. Still, she doesn’t like the idea of employers relying on tips to compensate workers.

“It’s a way of claiming workers make more than you’re paying them,” she said.

Starbucks, meanwhile, has been pushing to get people to sign up for its mobile app and rewards program, which helps boost the number of times people are likely to visit its stores. The Seattle-based company says the addition of the mobile tipping option is a response to demand from customers, many of who no longer carry around much cash.

“We asked our customers what they thought would be easiest and best,” Adam Brotman, chief digital officer for Starbucks, said in a phone interview. There are no plans to bring the mobile tipping option to stores licensed to other operators, however.

Exactly how Starbucks divides up the tip jars varies. Shannon Liss Riordan, an attorney who represented baristas in lawsuits saying shift supervisors shouldn’t share in tips, said the cash is typically distributed on a weekly basis.

“They keep it in a safe and dole it out to employees … based on the number of hours worked,” she said.

As for the tips earned through mobile payments, Starbucks said they’ll be paid out to workers in cash in line with however they receive their regular tips.