HeartWork Organizing

Helping you find peace and purpose through organization and design

How to Remove a Hard Drive December 29, 2011

Filed under: Business Organizing,Organizing,Tech — HeartWork Organizing @ 2:00 pm

If you are about to recycle or donate a desktop or laptop computer, watch this video first and learn how to remove your hard drive.

Remove Hard Drive

Even if you want to donate your computer to a refurbishing organization, remove and destroy the hard drive, because sensitive personal data CAN be retrieved from a hard drive that has been erased by a magnet or a software program.

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos


Organizing Photos on Your Computer, Part 2 October 20, 2011

Filed under: Organizing,Tech — HeartWork Organizing @ 2:50 pm
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With all the gadgets we have these days, taking pictures is child’s play, but organizing digital photos can be tricky.  Some people never get around to downloading photos off their camera because they don’t quite know where to put them on their PC, or they don’t know what or how to name them. One complaint I hear over and over is that the computer assigns names to individual photos that are ugly, random and completely unhelpful when trying to organize photos, and that makes the whole job just completely frustrating.   What many people don’t know is that you can download batches of photos with an actual English file name, so the computer will assign sequential names to them.

Digital Photo File Structures

What file structure most people have:

My Photos>>>uglynamedfiles.jpg all in one disorganized mess

What some people have:

My Photos>>>Files by Years>>>uglynamedfiles.jpg, still pretty much in a big mess

What you can have:

My Photos>>>Files by Major Categories>>>Sub Categories if Needed>>>pretty files names with your naming structure, like LambChops_Second_Brithday_01.jpg (and more just like it, sequential by number)

The Key To Easy Photo Downloads

I’m about to lapse into PC-talk here, but I’m sure there is a similar Mac operation.  The key is knowing the software that you are using to download the photos.  On a PC, check out Windows Live Photo Gallery, which is a free program that came with my new PC this year, or you can download it.  I don’t think it is the most intuitive program, but it is pretty functional, and it does allow you to download in batches that you have named.  You can read a pretty clear description of how to download batches of photos from your camera into your file structure.  You’ll want to read the second part of that help page, steps 1 and 2, to figure out how to batch them.  Read the instructions carefully if you want to place photos in sub-folders.  You must select the sub-folder under “More Options” where it says to “Review, organize and group items to import” in order to specify where the files should import to.

A note of caution, it’s easy to miss the step about naming the batch of files you are about to download. This is the important step where you substitute an English phrase for the ugly file name that the computer will otherwise assign.  This step in Windows Live Photo Gallery needs improvement, in my humble opinion.  If you have a ton of photos on your camera and you are only downloading a few at a time, you’ll likely scroll down to check off the ones you want to download, and the naming field will scroll right off the top of the page.  Once you’ve checked off the photos you want to import or download, just scroll back up, click on the field that says “Enter a Name”, and don’t get thrown off by the thumbnail picture, which is probably not one of the photos you are actually trying to download.  Wierd, I know.  After you have filled in this file name, proceed with the download.  If you miss this step, you’ll get ugly file names in your download.

Read up on a few more easy ideas on how to organize your photos in digital format, and find a shortcut or two that will work for you.  I’m hoping that I can find the shortcut to doing this same thing in Picasa, which is a photo organizing, editing and sharing program that is gaining in popularity. Should we be surprised?  It’s from Google, after all, and a key part of their world domination plan  I’m pretty sure the same step to naming batches is there, but I haven’t found it yet.  If you know, please share it here.

Photo Credit Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos


Organizing Photos On Your Computer September 30, 2011

Filed under: Organizing,Tech — HeartWork Organizing @ 1:51 pm
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Wouldn’t you like to easily organize your digital photos?

First, know your software and system.  There are plenty of tools to help you pull your photos off of your camera or phone and get them into your archives.  Your camera probably came with a software disk.  Windows comes with photo programs.  Apple is all over photos, for sure.

The most frustrating thing about software might be that downloading your photos can result in your photos having odd, computer assigned names.  Search your download program for an option or field that lets you assign a name to a batch of photos while you are downloading them. You might be able to download a batch of photos that you name “birthday 2011”, and each photo will start with that name and then end with the number in sequence.  If you don’t like your download program, and you can’t do named batch downloads, go and search for another one.

According to Wikihow, Download a free image organizer. Fast small ones include Xnview (open source) and Irfanview (popular). Picasa from Google is an easy-to-use photo management tool. However, read the fine print on the agreement you sign with Picasa/Google. It gives Google the rights to all of the photos you put on the site, for their unrestricted use.  I do use Picasa to organize and edit my photos, but I don’t upload them to the Google web albums. One of the coolest things I can do with Picasa is easily brighten photos that I thought were too dark to save.

This one might seem a little obvious, but take the time to create different folders, and avoid dumping all of your photos into the Microsoft “My Photos” folder.  This is essentially like throwing a handful of photos into a closet and shutting the door.  Sure, you could search for a particular file later, but why would you?  Instead, just name the folders by year, or you might have folders with more meaningful names, such as:

  • birthdays
  • Christmases
  • home
  • weddings
  • vacations

From there, you can subdivide your photos using a naming system.  It is immensely helpful to have a naming convention for your photos so that you’ll be able to find them again later. Your computer file system will want to arrange your files either alphabetically or numerically. I use the following naming convention for my family photo files, which keeps my files neat and allows me to find files quickly:

Format:            Year_Month_Kidname_Event/Holiday

Example:         2010_April_KittyCat_Easter

Figure out this naming system once, tape it to your computer, and use it every time you download your pictures.  Suddenly all of those fun photos will be worth a lot more because you can actually find them again.  Unless you are married to a pro photographer, knowing who took the picture probably won’t be important in 5 or 10 years, so all family members can save photos the same way, with the same file name format, and create a very useful family photo treasure trove.

You might also check out http://shrinkpictures.com/facebook.php to help you size photos for different applications.

One last trick, and this one is great especially for the holidays, turn your paper photos into a digital archive without any fuss.  Contact Maxx or Monica at SaveMyPix.com to get up to 1,000 photos scanned for just $100.  You can rename photos returned to you once they are on disk.  But the best part is that making copies of digital photos is so easy, and you no longer have to be the one person with all the family archives.

Oh, and did I mention to be sure to backup your computer to safeguard all those treasures???

I’m always looking for new tricks, so please share your favorite photo info here.  Happy snapping.


Why I Love / Hate my IPad September 29, 2011

Filed under: Business Organizing,Organizing,Tech — HeartWork Organizing @ 4:21 pm
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I call my iPad my third child because it requires so much of my attention. But like a child, I have moments of frustration and moments of utter adoration. In case you are considering investing in one, I hope my top five reasons to love it or hate it will help you.

As of June 11, there were 25M iPads sold.  I was shocked to learn that about 5% of the US population owns one.  They are still the dominant player in the tablet market.


Why I Hate my iPad

1. I’ve only had the thing for about a year, and I’ve had all of my data and settings deleted by the first software update, had to have the unit replaced twice completely, and have to reload all settings each time. Good Lord!
2. I am really getting tired of cleaning this glass all the time! I found a non-glare film at The Five Below store for, get this, $5, when they typically sell between $20 and $40.
3 The audio isn’t anything to write home about. It is not audible in the car without exterior speakers or a headset, which isn’t ideal for young kiddos.
4. I’ll admit it, I am a PC. I am slowly learning entirely new ways to interact with the software, and all of the Excel look-alike programs that I’ve tried so far just don’t allow me to do what I need to do.
5. No Flash??? C’mon, Apple, get this fixed. Still at least once a day, usually with a client, I end up at a site that says, “you must download flash to view this site,” as if it is just taunting me. C’mon, I can’t view the DISNEY site, for Pete’s sake?????  (That’s been fixed, now, as companies have been forced to redesign their sites to allow mobile and iPad users unfettered access.  Looks like Flash is on its way out.)
Did I say five? Uh, oh.
6. The new iPad2??? The one with the camera, rather two cameras? This would seriously make my life easier, but not for another $800. I’m stuck with the stinky old iPad original.  Now I understand why Apple stock is still considered a buy.
7. This thing is seriously addictive. With a push of a button, it’s awake and working. Unfortunately, humans are not designed as well, and having this thing in the house makes it hard to get a good night’s sleep, hence the 3rd child analogy.
8. I imagine that future generations of humans will evolve to have tiny hands, like the T-Rex, to be able to manipulate our increasingly miniature and sensitive keyboards.  When you get a heavily typo-laden post or email from me, please assume it was written on my iPad.

Why I Love my iPad

1. OOOh, seriously sexy. Light. Portable. Long battery life. Beautiful photo gallery. Wait, is that one point or four? It’s all part of the Apple experience, so I’m not sure. But I did gain a couple of cool points when I started using it for my business.
2. There’s an app for that. I only have a relative few number of apps, and I have to admit that none have been life changing just yet. But it will happen. I’m hoping to learn to play the piano on this baby. But I have used it as a flashlight/nightlight while wandering a dark house looking for snacks while my family sleeps.
3. I only own one movie, but there have been times when The Aristocats have saved my bacon. Even though my kiddos are not allowed to touch, or even breath on, my iPad, I do use the movie and certain podcasts to my advantage.
4. Since I refused to pay the monthly $30 surcharge, I never did get a smart phone. This data plan is much better at only $14/ mo, and I am much more comfortable reading my mail and everything else on a big screen.
5. The main reason I wanted the iPad was to be able to carry my professional photo portfolio with me. At nearly 10,000 photos, it’s definitely the way to go. I do miss the ability to quickly click on the individual file, since you have to scroll through all the albums and their images to arrive at particular shots. But wait, this is the love-it list. I do love it, but I’m looking forward to the iPad3, which I hope will fix the downside of these user problems.

Are you ready to shell out for an iPad?  If you already have one, could you ever learn to live without it?


Saving Your Kid’s Artwork, Digitally and IRL September 28, 2011

Filed under: Organizing,Tech — HeartWork Organizing @ 4:00 pm

Saving your child’s drawings and artwork can be such a time and space sucker, let’s be honest.  Maybe you really and truly adore each and every item produced at daycare, Sunday school and summer camp.  Maybe you just want to have a rough record of your child’s history.  Whatever your parenting style, here are some ways to honor, display and store those masterpieces.

Your Kid’s Artwork in Real Life (IRL)

Even if you eventually want to take up less room than the real life version does at first, the real McCoy will need some space in your world. My absolute favorite, hands down, is Dynamic Frames.   If you really just need a place to park them after you ooh and ah, then check out these cute little portfolios from Lillian Vernon.  I also happen to love the Schoolfolio; be sure to choose HeartWork Organizing from the list when ordering for an additional discount.

Repurposing Your Kid’s Artwork into Useful Stuff

PrintArtKids.com has a great take on kids art.  They will turn your masterpieces into high-quality notepads, holiday cards, and other paper goods.  Yes, we still need paper in our lives, but at least you can make yours cute and unique.  I can’t wait for my little artists to create something that looks even vaguely like a Christmas tree so I can turn it into Christmas cards.

Your Kids Artwork in the Digital Realm

If what you really want to do is store the memories safely while you make more room in your home, then check out these options.

Most home scanners can handle art on regular sized pages , but then the art is trapped in your computer.  Be sure to backup your data, if you go this route. But oversized art is a problem.  You can snap a picture with your phone, but you may not get great quality reproduction, and the pictures are still stuck in your computer or phone.

www.MyDigiFridge.com will scan large quantities of your childs artwork, load them on to computer disk or a digital frame, and even turn them into gifts (puzzles, blankets, and more) if you’d like.

www.artimusart.com allows you to save art as either a hard cover coffee table book or as a web gallery that you can share with family.

I am also a huge fan of www.snapfish.com & www.shutterfly.com.  Both are constantly running promotions, especially before the holidays.  You can visit www.RetailMeNot.com to check for current promotions. If you have not used either service, think of them as digital scrapbooks.  You simply upload your favorite photos or scans of your child’s artwork on to their very cute digital scrapbook pages, insert comments if you’d like, and order your own book.  These are very nice quality and well loved by the grandparents!


Five Ways to Cut Digital Clutter September 27, 2011

Filed under: Business Organizing,Organizing,Tech — HeartWork Organizing @ 11:22 pm
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Professional organizers call it digital hoarding.  Just because we can keep more data doesn’t mean we should.  Here are tips to make your digital life more manageable:

1. Live on one screen

Make it a goal to have a file structure, desktop,
electronic notepad, or whatever  you use fit on just one screen.  Use your preferred device’s own structure to create folders or grouped icons so that you can see your inventory/main headings without having to scroll or tap.  Incredibly complex data may require a second screen, but decide if it is worth it.  The more visual stimuli your brain has to process, the slower you will be. Think of your screens as a container (like a box) for an amount of data that you can comfortably manage, not a blank slate for all available cool apps.  It’s the same principle as keeping only the amount of files in your office that you can fit in your filing cabinet; left unchecked, chaos reduces productivity.

2.  Don’t be an early adopter

Yeah, it’s cool, but what will that really cost you?  Early adopters spend more in money, time and frustration working out the bugs for the rest of us.  The first iPhone in 2007 sold for $599; today the much improved iPhone 4 sells for $199.
Approximately 5% of the mobile handsets are Apple iPhones, which means that 95% of the world saved about $400 plus hours, days or weeks of learning time.

3. Digital Overload  is normal

Be weird.  If you always respond to email, texts, Facebook and Twitter, then people will expect you to respond to them. You train your network.  Inc. Magazine wrote about David Karp, founder of Tumblr, in June 2011 and his method of handling email. Two things are interesting. First, he reverse filters, meaning everything goes into a folder that he doesn’t read, and the folder he looks at only has emails from his
employees and girlfriend. Second, he’s right on that if you condition people to
expect that you don’t read email, they’ll get to you another way.

4. Admit Digital Addiction

If you have an addictive personality, knowing this may save your life.  Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows; What the Internet Is Doing To Our Brains, describes what the research tells us about the immense pleasure and gratification that our limbic brain gets from
electronic activity, including twitter, texting, and blogs.  People today may need to create physical or other barriers to access this stimuli.  Texting while driving is a well-known danger, and yet the problem persists.  Nationwide’s survey showed that 80% of drivers favor a ban on mobile use while driving, despite the fact that up to 60% of people admit to texting behind the wheel.  Or do as I say, not as I do?  Curbing or eliminating addictive behavior such as texting and emailing on the road may literally save a life.

5. Print your pictures

Here’s  a novel idea.   Instead of keeping thousands of poorly labeled digital pics, create a special family photo album once a year using commercial services like Shutterfly, Snapfish, and hundreds of others locally and on the internet who will print and bind your treasures. Then  you can delete all the photos of marginal quality, re-label any that have incomprehensible computer-assigned labels using a single year or topic file name, and set those aside on your hard drive.  These make great  gifts, but you already knew that.

What makes your digital life more simple?  We’d all love to hear.


How to Save Passwords, Please September 23, 2011

Filed under: Business Organizing,Financial Organizing,Organizing,Tech — HeartWork Organizing @ 12:36 am
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Quick, do you know the best way to save passwords?  How to store passwords?  How to remember passwords?  Here are some of my favorites for offline, online, or on your computer.

Where to Save Passwords Offline

If you want to save passwords offline, I like the On Line Organizer. It is about the size of the Hallmark calendars that many people still carry in their purse, and inside it has tabs A-Z.  On each page you can store a company or URL, User name, and Password.  The size and the A-Z indexing make it very easy to use at your desk or carry it with you.  I use and sell these lovely babies for $10.  They come in a two pack, so you can carry one and keep one at your desk, or give one to your honey or best friend.  Click here to order and make saving passwords easier.

How to Save Passwords with the OnLine Password Organizer

The Best Way To Save Passwords

How to Save Passwords with the On Line Password Organizer- Interior

Save Passwords from A to Z

How to Save Passwords Online

Online, there are many programs and apps that allow you to save passwords to an encrypted site.  LastPass is the one I’ve been trying out for the past few weeks, but since it has limitations when using iPad, I’m not able to recommend it for iPad users just yet.  I want something that works as seamlessly as Evernote.  But at my PC, LastPass does a great job of capturing login and passwords from every site I visit, and then auto-populating it when I return. You don’t need to remember passwords, you just need to remember one password.  Because the data is encrypted, it truly is about as secure as anything gets on the internet. Oh, and it’s free.  You can look into other password manager programs here.

I recently learned that some of the newer browsers are able to store passwords, too.  I don’t know about you, but I have no intention of letting Microsoft hold all my passwords, even with encryption.  I’m pretty sure Bill Gates isn’t going to try to hack my PayPal account, but it gives me the shivers nonetheless.

How to Store Passwords on Your Own Computer

The last option to store passwords is on your computer.  Before you go this route, be sure that your system has the latest version of a strong security/antivirus program and that the program is doing auto-updates often.  This would be McAfee, Norton, AVG (which has both free and paid anti-virus software), or similar.  If this works for you, then just type up a simple document or spreadsheet to remember passwords, and then encrypt the file.  You can find encryption programs like EncryptFiles, which is another free program.  My thanks to Jim at HelpDotNow for passing this along.  I do not personally use this approach or software, but it would be pretty simple.

If any of these options helps you, I hope you’ll let me know.  And remember that you can order your own 2-pack password keeper for $10 right now.  Ten bucks is a pretty small price to pay for your sanity.  (They also make great teacher’s gifts.)

**Please remember to always consider your business and personal needs and consult with an advisor before making business decisions.  HeartWork Organizing accepts no responsibility from any actions you may incur from this or other advice.