Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

That Grim Reaper

Today’s Article Is Not Tech-related

Yesterday was one of my better days.

Well.. it was, up until I checked in on a friend.

And heard the news.

My friend was not having a good day.

Not at all.

My friend had just lost their son. Rather suddenly and unexpectedly. About an hour before I dropped by.

How’s that for a kick in the ‘nads?

Just getting by, and getting along, in this life is plenty tough. Sure, there are some Good Times. But when Death (or.. divorce) comes and permanently removes someone you love, everything changes. In some cases, I imagine it’s a bit like waking up to find yourself on another planet.

Grief.. mourning.. capital “L” loss.. bereavement. These “natural things” are – I believe – truly life’s biggest and most difficult challenges. The “big earthquakes” of Life. They tell me coping with loss is a “process” and they tell me “everyone mourns in their own way”. I have known a few who were not up to the job.

My friend seems reasonably okay. And thankfully they have a terrific ‘support group’ of caring friends, and we will help them however we can.

Not everyone has such a ‘network’, and their “process” is experienced mostly alone. If that describes you (or someone you know), there’s a “coping with loss” Q & A article on WebMD that you may find practical and helpful, here. And I think the info on this page may help out as well. It is a challenging job – probably our most challenging. Some of us may need a little help doing it. No shame in that.

… I don’t think I’m going to be as quick to get frustrated by traffic, or long lines at the checkout, for a while.

… and I’m going to take the time to ‘count my blessings’ and ‘smell the roses’ .. and savor this mug of hot cocoa. I have some thinking to do.

Carpe diem.

Copyright 2007-2013 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

February 27, 2013 Posted by | advice | | 2 Comments

Cheaper than psychotherapy

The news on the tech front is so discouraging that I am going to talk about something else today, (I don’t need to depress you with news of a new virus that sends out death threats from your email account, do I? Or tell you who’s laying off hundreds?) and that ‘something’ is cute and cuddly.

Yesterday I was gab-festing, and the person said to me something I had heard before: “it’s a *heck* of a lot cheaper than therapy.

We were talking about their German Shepard (mix) who is — to phrase it kindly — a hyperactive goofball of less than high IQ.
Basically, a spaz.
But a gen-u-wine sweetheart. A doll.

It has been a while since I have mentioned my regard and esteem for the Humane Society, and animal rescue/adoption centers, and told you about how I have ‘rescued’ all of my furry friends from “the pound” over the years. And asked you to consider a pet..

Here is an excerpt from a great article, Pets and your health: the good and the bad

House pets can affect your psychological and physical health in many ways.

Health: An Australian survey found that dog and cat owners were in better health than people with neither (health was measured either by how often people went to the doctor or by how much medication they took). And a study with people on Medicare found that those who owned pets made fewer doctor visits than those who didn’t.

Hypertension: A number of studies have found that just being around a dog or petting a dog can lower blood pressure. One study found the same with a pet goat. Another found that simply watching a Lassie movie was enough to lower stress.

Longevity: A year after being released from a coronary care unit, a 1980 study found, pet owners were more likely to have survived than people who didn’t have pets.

Bone strength: The sound frequencies ofcats’ purrs are between 25 and 150 Hertz. Some researchers have found that sound frequencies between 20 and 50 Hertz can improve bone density and speed the healing of bones and muscles. So maybe that purr … don’t laugh. Some scientists actually have suggested this.

Allergy prevention: Evidence is mounting that children raised with pets are less likely to develop allergies to the animals than children raised without. In at least one study, the effect was greater with cats than with dogs. And in at least one other, the preventive effect extended to dust mite, ragweed and grass allergies.

Obesity: A study in Australia found that children who had a dog in their household were less likely to be overweight or obese than children who didn’t.

Fitness: In one study, two out of three dog owners took Fido for regular walks. Younger owners were more likely to walk than older owners, and younger dogs were more likely to get taken out than older ones. Bigger dogs got to go on longer walks than smaller ones. Another study found that dog owners were 60% more likely to go for walks in their leisure time than people who owned cats or who didn’t own any pet. Finally, a third study suggests that if you want to shape up, dogs make better walking buddies than humans do — perhaps because dogs don’t make up excuses for why they can’t go that day.

Smoking: Almost 30% of pet owners who smoked said they’d try to quit if they were convinced that secondhand smoke could hurt their pets, a survey found. (Less than 2% said the same thing about their children.)

Schoolwork: Several studies have reported that young children who had had pets (goldfish, hamsters or dogs) were better at making simple biological inferences than children who had never had a pet. Another found that students in a 10-week reading program who practiced reading out loud to dogs improved their skills by 12%. The students in the program who didn’t read to dogs didn’t improve at all.

Math: Pet owners who had lower blood pressure than non-owners to begin with experienced less of a rise in that pressure when they had to do mental arithmetic. Blood pressure rose least of all for those owners whose pets were with them while they made their calculations.

Heroism: A pit bull who saved a baby from a burning house was recently in the news. Many animals, and especially mammals, are hard-wired to save their own babies from danger, says Pluis Davern, a professional dog trainer in Gilroy, Calif. “But the fact that this dog has encompassed a human baby in its sense of family is probably uniquely canine.” Read more..

A pet doesn’t have to be furry: And I don’t believe I have ever mentioned that for a while I was big time ‘into’ tropical fish. I found looking at a fish tank oddly relaxing.. more so than a fire in a fireplace. A great stress reducer.

I have never owned a parrot, though. But I used to know a guy who had a beautiful Macaw he would put on his shoulder and go into the singles bars. (The bird’s name was “C.M.”. I’ll let you guess what the initials stood for.) At the time, he said it was the best investment he ever made..

Me? Some years ago now, I was adopted by a cat. A fact for which I am grateful much more often than not. And I repeat: if there is a void in your life.. you may want to rescue/adopt a furry friend. Doing so will change your life. (And theirs.) Again, read the article, Pets and your health: the good and the bad

Today’s quote:The taxpayers are sending congressmen on expensive trips abroad. It might be worth it except they keep coming back.” ~ Will Rogers

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<

All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

October 30, 2012 Posted by | advice | , , | Leave a comment

5 Tools to Prevent Laptop-Related Injuries and Eye Strain

Folks, a reader sent me an e-mail suggesting an article idea. I found that they had pretty well written out a whole article, so I asked permission to share it with you “as is”. Aplus Computer Aid has me jumping lately, so, here it is… (I particularly like #3..)

5 Tools to Prevent Laptop-Related Injuries and Eye Strain

The increased use of laptops has resulted in greater computer-related injuries. Ergonomics experts warn about laptop related injuries. Laptops are inherently non-ergonomic because keyboard and monitor are fixed together – if the keyboard is in a suitable position for the user, the screen is not and if the screen is optimal the keyboard isn’t. In addition, the portability of laptops makes it worse by allowing the user to use it anywhere in bed and on the floor in all kinds of incorrect postures under a poor lighting condition.

Users are more vulnerable to computer related injuries and health problems such as Repetitive Strain Injury, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, eye strain, blurred vision and back pain when they are using a laptop than a desktop computer. You may want to take additional safety precautions and tools when you’re using a laptop. The five following tools help you prevent injuries and enhance productivity while using a laptop.

1. Text-to-mp3 conversion tool. You can use text-to-mp3 software to convert long documents, emails and blog articles to mp3 files, which you can listen while resting eyes, commuting or doing chores. Here are some free online text to mp3 file converters. (choose Female voice option for better sound quality). SpokenText offers both free online conversion and a Firefox plug-in at (requires a registration). Another alternative is Next2Go (US$25)

2. Speech recognition. You can control the computer and browse the web or have your computer compose email or write a document with your voice instruction while resting your hands and even eyes. Windows Vista and 7 have built-in speech recognition function. (demo), and (demo)

3. Break reminder. Taking breaks are essential in computer-related injury prevention. You can try break reminder software for laptop, which is uniquely optimized for laptop users. (free for personal use)

4. OLED (organic light emitting diode). OLED is an eye-friendly and paper-like display technology. OLED doesn’t have eye-annoying backlight like LCD does. Laptops equipped with OLED are coming soon- finally next year. Meantime, anti-glare filter can be used to reduce glare from the glossy laptop screen.

5. External keyboard and mouse. An external keyboard can fix the laptop inherent ergonomic problem. It would be even better if the keyboard is ergonomically designed.


· “Is your laptop damaging your health?” ~ CNET

· “When Your Laptop Is a Big Pain in the Neck” ~ The Wall Street Journal

· “Computer-related injuries” ~ Victoria State government (Australia)

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November 30, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments