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.


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.


How to Create Passwords September 21, 2011

Filed under: Business Organizing,Financial Organizing,Organizing,Uncategorized — HeartWork Organizing @ 1:29 pm
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It seems that absolutely everything, on and off the web, requires a password these days.  When creating passwords, stay away from obvious personal information like your birthdate, kids birth dates, anniversary,address and pets names. Use multiple words and non-words, things that can’t be found in the dictionary.   Jim, my tech expert from HelpDotNow tells me that run on sentences like ILIKETREES are good because a hacking program will have a harder time as this is a “word” not found in the dictionary and hacking programs are not generally stopping to parse the phrase into words.  Changing some elements of the word with capitals, numbers, or special characters, like ILIketr33s, is even better, but still relatively easy for you to remember.  If you can remember passwords, or at least the few that you use most often, that will save you time.

Computer experts would not recommend this, but in real life, consider having three different types or categories of passwords.  The first type would be for high stakes sites like a bank account, PayPal, email account, or an encryption program.  They should be pretty complex but still something that you can memorize.  The second level would be for useful sites, perhaps those like computer support sites and other shopping sites you frequent.  The third type of password could be almost a throw-away, something that you might use for a site you’ll never intend to visit again. Decide how much effort you want to put into each type of password, and design them as secure as you can for each level.

Now that you have your passwords, how do you organize them and where do you store them?  Hint: a sticky note is not the best answer.  Stay tuned for the next rivetting post.


The Future Of Books is Here with EBooks and EReaders September 20, 2011

Filed under: Organizing,Tech — HeartWork Organizing @ 8:24 am
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My kids may never read a book as an adult. Not only is our culture and time moving towards the tyranny of the now in 140 characters or less, the actual form of a physical book is disappearing. A client recently sent me a source for books to use as decorative accents. How sad. Books as information are becoming obsolete. Ebooks and ereaders are taking their place.

How Do eBooks Work?

Ereaders have evolved in just the last few years. Authors and publishers opt-in to making their content digital. In some cases, the manuscript gets converted from the original print. In some cases, a book goes straight to digital, and you can’t even buy a printed copy of a particular book. Some works from recent decades might not ever be available in digital form, but many books from before the 1920s are available for free. You can download e-books to your desktop and then sync your device so you have them on your e-reader, or you may be able to download books directly over the air, without being wired up. Once you own the digital copy, the file is usually yours forever, or until your computer crashes.

One thing you may not know is that you don’t have to buy a new gadget to get digital books. Most of the ereader companies have a free desktop version that allow you to download books to your computer. If you have a laptop, you have a portable ereader. You can download the Kindle for PC for free.

The advantage to those little tablets is that they are lighter than a laptop and have a longer battery life, up to one month says one maker. My friends tell me you can read a Kindle in bed without the light waking your partner. And of course they can store thousands of books in the space of a small notebook.

The downsides are many. The initial cost for the gadget is now around $100 or so. Then you must buy the books. If you are a regular library patron like I am, you may not want to shell out the bucks. However, many libraries are now offering ebook borrowing services. You simply download a copy of popular books to your device for a specified period, and they self-destruct after a couple of weeks, very James Bond-like. Cool, but not yet available everywhere. If you happen to live in Delaware County, PA, check out their Overdrive ePub service . You can’t share digital books with friends the way you can paper books, although Kindle will let you loan a book to another Kindle user, and many e-books are simply PDF or other files that can be moved without being damaged.

Organize eBooks

The biggest downside is that this becomes another place to put clutter. Start early by creating some standards for what you download and how long you keep it on your digital shelf so you don’t create another place to store the books you feel you should be reading. It is possible to end up with ebooks in a few places on your computer, so create a file named BOOKS on your PC to capture most of them in one place. Decide on a naming structure, perhaps Title-Author-Download Year, so that you can clear out older books when you need the space. You don’t want to be accused of digital hoarding.

Free eBooks

There are actually tons of places to go for free ebooks. As the barriers to publishing come down, many more ebooks are coming out from small publishers and indie authors. As one of those who have benefitted from this revolution, I encourage you to go read something new.

So how do you find free books? Go to the free books page on Amazon.com for starters. Many classics and pre-1923 books are yours for free anytime. Current fiction and non-fiction are free at Amazon as well.

You can also go to other ebook sites. Yep, Amazon isn’t the only game in town, believe it or not. This lists over 30 sites to visit for free books, although some are redundant. Obooko lists every book on its site for free. Sure, it’s buyer-beware, but it’s a good place to start. A very content-rich site is Smashwords, which is an awful name that comes from the concept of “blockbuster smash hit”. This happens to be where my first book is digitized, and so it’s my current favorite. I want to reward my loyal followers with a special offer. You can download my book, The Pregnant Entrepreneur, for just $1 using code DK36C just so you can get a sense of how this works. That’s 90% off, but it expires September 30. Feel free to share this offer with friends.

Of course, you’ve heard of the Kindle by Amazon and the Nook by Barnes and Noble. If you own an iPad or iPhone, then you surely know about iBooks. But the field is expanding. There are competitors you might want to check out, including Kobo, which boasts a battery life of up to a month. Their price and style looks great, and I love the pretty quilted back. If you’ve had personal experience with them, I’d love to hear it. My mother might be getting one for Christmas (shhh, don’t tell).

A few years ago, Oprah was one of the few toting a very expensive ereader. Now, you know the secrets to having digital books at your fingertips, too, without going broke building your library.