Mixtape for Netflix

It’s July and I already have the perfect low-cost, tech-savvy gift idea for teens, adults and everyone in between! The gift idea comes courtesy of Netflix.

Flixtape is a short playlist of Netflix titles based around a theme, a mood, or message. It’s like a mixtape, but for Netflix! If you’re a fan of a few shows you think your pal would like, create a Flixtape and share it with your bestie! No shipping is required AND you can gift the SAME Flixtape to multiple people. How cool is that? If you need some inspiration for what to include, use Bri’s Commandments and Google “best netflix series”. Here’s what my search results turned up:

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I can tell you straight away that I’m all over the first two series shown above: Orange is the New Black and House of Cards. In fact, I only spend $20 on Netflix per year. That gets me 2 months of viewing (the subscription costs $9.99 per month). When new seasons of OITB or HOC come out, I simply buy a month, binge watch the episodes and use the remaining time to catch up on anything else that has caught my eye. #dontjudgeme You can also view new Titles on Netflix here.

NOW, BACK TO MY FABULOUS GIFT IDEA. All that is required is a Netflix subscription and a little elbow finger grease to set up the playlist flixtape. If you purchase a $30 subscription your pal will get 3 months free. It’s the gift that keeps on giving long after the holidays! You can also EMAIL the subscription the day of! This is absolutely perfect for me because I’m thinking about taking a Christmas vacation this year. Oh, and while we’re on the subject of gifting via email you can also apply the same concept to music with Spotify (my fav) and Apple Music.

#giftcardsgonewild #everybodygetsgiftcardsthisyear #happyegifting

BONUS: For tips on how to find the best Spotify playlists, click here

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There is no Online Safe Zone

macIn case you haven’t noticed, computer hackers are taking over the world! Surely you’ve heard of Anonymous, the “invisible” group threatening to release all sorts of information. I’ve said this so many times – the next “war era” will not be using bombs or grenades, it will be done online! And in case you haven’t noticed, it’s already started. Before we get into the details, here’s a simple truth: “Everything you do or say online can be used against you.” That disclaimer should be tied to every smart phone, computer or tablet issued in the entire world.  People who are smart enough to know how to program a computer (and exploit it) can make all of our worst nightmares a reality. You remember – there was the Target data breach (40 million cards affected), then came Home Depot and even more recently the US Government and Ashley Madison (online affair site – those hackers made good on their promise and exposed cheater’s names, credit card numbers and home address).  Even Hillary Clinton’s camp is  not smart enough to know that emails CAN ALWAYS be recovered.

SIDE NOTE: I’m no fan of Hillary Clinton by the way. Charles Barkley was on Mike and Mike this morning. When asked who he would vote for at the moment, he said “No Democrat impresses me.” I agree!

Now, back to the subject at hand – I’ve always said, the dumbest criminal is the one who incriminates him or herself. Why photograph illegal activity? Or post it online? Or insinuate it? Or leave a paper / digital trail. Just not smart people!!! Even a PRIVATE Instagram account will not hold up to a WARRANT from a JUDGE. Facebook just LOST a case when it tried to challenge the legality of warrants requesting personal data from it’s members.

I ran across this article by The Verge, I knew it was worth sharing:

PSA: Everything you say and do is public: five rules for living with the internet

  1. Assume everything you do and say will be made public.
  2. Do not be seduced by privacy settings and passwords, which are temporary illusions that distract from the reality of the previous point.
  3. Understand that context and data are often one in the same. When you enter information on the internet, assume that you include the who (you), the what (the data), the when (the time of data input), the where (the site on which the data is being placed), the how (the device on which you input the data), and the why (the purpose of the site).
  4. Believe that all of your credit card transactions are being kept in a colossal, searchable ledger that one day will be made available for all to study.
  5. Believe that data does not disappear when you delete it.

Stay in the KNOW!


IBM goes Email

Mail-Next_new-img_v4IBM is making the leap into the (not-so) wonderful world of email. I’ve told you before about my own email annoyances in the workplace. One thing I didn’t mention is that typically when I get an email with multiple people copied on it, I spend about 3 clicks per person trying to find out who they are, what their role is and who they report to. This is all very important stuff to know before you Reply!


Verse from IBM – is a new email like Gmail from Google and iCloud from Apple. Verse is aiming to solve the problem I describe above and more! Even if you don’t plan to use it right away, go ahead and sign up here to notified when you can reserve your preferred username. Using email services of the past (i.e. AOL, Hotmail) is a sure way to date yourself – sorry mom and hubby 🙂



(Better) Organize You Email

Outlook2010_icon-1Starting a new job (or the first of the year) is a great time to research better ways to Organize your email. People that work in corporate America commonly know that receiving too many and sometimes very long emails goes along with the territory. So this post is about how to better organize your business email. Lifehackerspace has a great blog on how to do this effectively: it’s fast, easy to implement and works with the basic version on Microsoft Outlook. Given those three criteria, the system has 3 components: Categories, Follow-ups and Quick Steps.

CategoriesOutlook supports the use of categories that can be user defined. You can have multiple categories associated to a single email/task/calendar item.

Start by creating 3 categories: one for yourself, one for your boss (i.e. items to discuss in your next 1×1), and one for each of your direct staff (i.e. tasks assigned to people who work for you).

Follow-up: This feature allows you set up a task that can be associated to an email. You can pick Today, Tomorrow, This Week, Next Week, This Month, Next Month or custom dates. Avoid custom dates – too much typing.

Quick StepsThis is the key to everything. Quick Steps are like macros – they’ll run a bunch of simple commands at the press of a button.

For #2 and #3, imagine the following series of steps/actions for one your staff to act on. His name is Fred. In that scenario you’d want to:  1) Flag the message as something linked to Fred, 2) Create a follow up item and set the due date to be this week, 3) Move the original email of your inbox and into the 0 – current month folder, 4) Forward the message to Fred. Using  Quick Step, you can automate these 4 steps: that’s 4 things you can do with one click!

That’s it! You’re done. If you invest a few minutes thinking about the categories and rules that make most sense for your job – you will save yourself a lot of time!

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

It’s been a while since we’ve tackled a heavy technical topic. Two-factor Authentication, a form of security (more important than ever in a Post-Snowden world), has been in the news lately (think celebrity iCloud photo leak), so let’s get right to it!

Close up of an internet log in screenWithout 2FA, you enter in your username and password, and then you’re done. The password is your single factor of authentication and is not the safest route? Why, because if you use your birthday, pet’s name or street address, someone can easily guess your password, pretend to be you and log into your account, accessing all of your personal information (no bueno). This way of authenticating a user is most common today but that is also why websites encourage using STRONG, less-common combinations for your passwords and sometimes even force you to do this, though it can be painful. (While we’re on the topic, check this list of the 25 worst passwords and steer away!)

imgresNow, what if, in addition to asking you your username and password (single factor), a website, app or service asks you an additional question (second factor). That is exactly the topic of this article: Two-Factor authentication or 2FA. We already use this in our daily lives. For example, when you go to an ATM, you swipe the card (factor #1, physical) and enter your pin number (factor #2, knowledge). You’ve also probably experienced 2FA when dealing with your bank. If you try to access your account from a new computer or different browser, the bank requires you to enter your username & password (factor #1, knowledge) AND they will often send a 4-6 digit security code to your cell phone (factor #2, physical), that you then need to enter along with your username and password to authenticate yourself. 2FA, although not bullet-proof is safer and more secure that one-factor authentication.

Two (2) of the following criteria must be met/validated in 2FA:

  1. Something you know, such as a Personal Identification Number (PIN), password, or a pattern

  2. Something you have, such as an ATM card, phone, or fob

  3. Something you are, such as a biometric like a fingerprint or voice print

You can enable 2FA for yourself! Start with email. Both Gmail and iCloud provide this service and they’re super easy to setup. You can also enable 2FA on Facebook, LastPass (password service) and Dropbox (file sharing). For a complete list, check here.