Nancy Lyons

Podcast #51: Amanda Costello

In podcast #51, Amanda Costello stops by to discuss her role with Minnewebcon and how she got her start as a content strategist.

Amanda Costello is a content strategist in higher education, and an award-winning speaker about working with content specialists and the web, content strategy, building web teams, and sharing ideas to do good work. She’s also the director of MinneWebCon, a grassroots knowledge-sharing web conference in Minnesota.

Amanda will be doing a keynote presentation at the Digital Project Management Summit in Austin, TX on October 7th. (We’ll be there too.)

Podcast #50: Hate On Me

We’ve all clicked on the comment section to a blog, video or news article and immediately regretted it. That, or we’ve read each trolling comment like rubberneckers spying an accident on the freeway. Either way, internet trolls seem to be here to stay. 

In podcast #50, Sally McGraw joins us to discuss her work and share her experiences with trolling and online abuse. Sally is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer, and communications professional who has been blogging for 7 years. She has contributed writing to local newspapers, magazines, and websites throughout her entire professional life, and is an ongoing contributor to the Minneapolis Star Tribune and The Huffington Post. She is also a weekly contributor to the Fox 9 Morning Show. In addition to writing her popular daily style and body image blog Already Pretty, she has published a style guide titled Already Pretty: Learning to Love Your Body by Learning to Dress it Well which is available via Amazon and ships worldwide. She has also contributed to The FriskyTypeF, and Glamour and guest posted everywhere from the revered fashion blog The Coveted to the wildly popular style advice blog You Look Fab

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Spoofing, Clicking, Hacking and You

Recently a friend of mine posted something on my Facebook wall that gave me pause. She said “I think you’ve been hacked. I just got a weird email from you. If it was from you, forget the ‘weird’ part.” While funny, it was also really concerning. Mostly because I try hard to have good passwords in place in most of my email accounts. And, since I work in the technology space, and specifically in internet technologies, it would be particularly concerning for me to have emails being sent from my accounts to my contacts potentially infecting them too. Needless to say, because of my profession, my blood pressure sort of increased. I immediately responded to my friend and asked about the email – but she was offline. So I sent messages to other friends asking if they’d received anything weird from me. No one had. I sent my friend who’d received the email an address to forward it to and I’ve yet to see it. But, it’s been a couple of days and no one else has reported anything weird. Which lead me to believe – my friend received a ‘spoofed’ email. 

Spoofing is becoming a pretty common practice and I think it’s a good thing to know about. Especially since spoofed emails are usually trying to accomplish one of two things – they either want to scam you out of information or money or they want you to click on a link in order to infect your computer with something. Spoofing is simple – it is the sending of an email that appears  to be from someone that it isn’t from. You can pretty much use anyone’s name, or any organization/brand name to send an email. Because the authentication protocols involved in sending and receiving mail do not require any authentication of the name associated with the email. To be clear, there are all kinds of spoofing. But it’s becoming more of a problem because it’s easier to just spoof a name and gain access to people, their money and their information. Think about it – if you are on Facebook you have a publicly available list of ‘friends’ that is viewable by criminals too. So spoofers can get the names of people you would recognize and trust, associate those names with emails that they send to you to gain access to your computer.

Here’s the thing though – more often than not you have to actually *give* them something for them to get to you. And you do that by ‘clicking’ – on links, on forms and filling them out, on images, on something. Most of the time viruses happen because we click on a link, and people gain access to our computers because we click on something to let them.

Just this week my friend and colleague, Matt Gray, clued me into the news about Miss Teen USA having had her webcam hacked. Turns out she was being watched and photographed through her own computer’s camera and she had absolutely no idea it was happening. I happened to channel surf into a morning talk show that was covering this story and they demonstrated how this ‘hack’ could have happened. The example they used showed a ‘computer expert’ sending an innocent family an email that said ‘your secret admirer has a message for you’ and beneath that was a link to click on. Sure enough the daughters clicked the link and voila – the ‘expert’ had visual access – he was watching them through their own cameras. And they had no idea. When the talk show wrapped up that segment their recommendation was – close your laptop or shut it down at night when you are not using it, or put a piece of electrical tape over your cam. I was disappointed that they didn’t recommend anything preventative.

Yes there are hackers in the world who spend their time trying to access computers and networks without anyone knowing. And yes there are scammers that are getting more and more sophisticated in their ability to fool us. They are trying to get into our homes — to break in. But we have to think about our home networks in the same way we think about the security of our homes. I don’t know about you, but I always tell my little boy, don’t let anyone in, or go anywhere with anyone, even if you think you know them. We need to talk about it first. And I think the  same thinking has to apply to how we review emails and Facebook posts.

So here are some simple ways to decrease the chances of someone accessing your stuff, giving you a virus, or using your own webcam against you.

1) Don’t open emails unless you are SURE the email address matches one with which you are familiar. A name is not enough. If you have to – pick up the phone and call the person you received the email from. But if it looks weird – it probably is. Check the email address carefully.

2) Do not click on links unless you are absolutely sure of what you are going to view. A link hidden behind some enticing words should not sucker you into action. Again – if you need to confirm that your friend sent you some earth shattering video – ask before you click.

Podcast #49: Social Fitness

Carol Cantwell is the founder of Fun With Financials, a company that teaches non-profit organizations practices that support informed financial decisions. She’s also a recent convert to exercise, specifically running. Carol popped by the studio (via Skype) this week to discuss some of the social fitness apps that helped her go from a person who could barely run a mile to someone who will be running the Boston Marathon in a few months.

Originally, we had planned on recording this podcast and putting it up around the first of the year. We figured that listeners might have set some New Year’s resolutions to get healthy or exercise more and, in turn, could be extra-inspired to maintain those goals by listening to this podcast. Well, things happen, podcast recordings get rescheduled and now the podcast is going up several weeks after everyone has forgotten that they had even made any New Year’s resolutions.

<sad trombone>

Let’s take this half-empty glass and fill it up a little bit, shall we? It’s time to get re-inspired to get healthy this year. Is a New Month’s resolution a thing? It is now.

Do you have suggestions for some other social fitness apps or sites that we missed in the podcast? Leave a comment, letting us know which ones have helped you the most.

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Podcast #48: Online Event Invitations

Facebook has destroyed online events. What began as a brilliant idea has morphed into the most ignorable feature on the Internet. If you’re in a band, then chances are, hundreds of people have ignored the sweet event invite for your show next Tuesday at 11:00pm at that place they’ve never heard of. 

If you’re active on Facebook at all, you probably have a number of invites in your events section. How many times have you logged into Facebook and been greeted with that brilliant red square notifying you that someone, ANYone has contacted you only to find a message letting you know that the event you’re not planning on going to is happening an hour later than originally stated? 

By clicking ‘no’, you might hurt the feelings of poor Jimmy in the mailroom. I’m sure his band really IS good and they probably DO sound like Spacemen 3 meets Slade. 

You could always do the Minnesota No and click ‘Maybe’, but haven’t we all made that resolution to be less passive aggressive this year? A simpler option to clean out your events section and make it useful again is to just remove it. 

1. In Facebook, click ‘Events’ on the left side of the screen.

2. Hover your mouse over an event you want to remove. A bluish-gray X will pop up on the upper right side of the event.

3. Click that X.

4. Ta da! The event is removed and you don’t have to feel like the introverted hermit that declines every event invitation.

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Podcast #47: Kickstarter (featuring Jeremy Wilker)

It’s been a while since we’ve had a guest on our podcast. This week, we talked with Jeremy Wilker about Kickstarter projects. 

It seems like everyone is setting up Kickstarter accounts to help fund their creative projects with the mindset that everything will go according to plan, and they’ll get their money. According to their website, only 44% of Kickstarters actually reach the desired goal and get funded. Jeremy recently wrapped up his second successful Kickstarter for a feature film titled ‘Death To Prom’. He shared his experiences and advice on how to make sure your Kickstarter is a success.

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Podcast #46: Q&A with the Geek Girls! Girls! Girls!

Take a ride on the wild side with us as we answer questions sent in by our listeners. 

Thanks to everyone who sent in questions. They were great. Also, we’d like to apologize to Phil Beavis. Phil, we got to your question, but we had a bit of a laughing fit about your Twitter handle. Deep down, we’re 12-year-old boys. 

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Podcast #45: The No-Fluff Podcast

We may not always have an agenda filled with bullet points when we sit down to record these podcasts, but we generally will have a few ideas in our heads when we hit the record button. Not this time…

What types of topics do suppose come up when microphones are in our faces and even we don’t know where we’re headed? Broadway musicals? IT folks? Real Housewives of New Jersey? The idea of a Geek Girls Guide bookmobile? Thomas Edison and/or Jefferson? Yes.

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Podcast #44: Q&A

We had planned on talking about Klout and social media influence scores, but that’s gonna have to wait until next time. Don’t cry. We promise we’ll get to it.

44 is the magic number! In our 44th podcast we expand on our interview at SMBMSP, and answer some of the questions we were asked via Twitter. You can watch the whole interview video with Mykl Roventine below!

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SMBMSP #44 Questions

@quick13: you have talked about agency side but what about managing interactive projects in diff culture of big corporations?

@amandaesque: Q: how can interactive PM be recognized in change-averse orgs? (or where change is verrrry slow)

@rasherman: Can’t wait to read book. Wonder if you considered making it interactive w/ video & animate?

@bridgetmonroe: would love to hear about the “process” part of the book title and how digital process is being improved/refined.

@mickivail: So, any way to back-pedal? @smbmsp #question RT @annikahanson: Biggest mistake agencies make is committing to estimate in proposal #smbmsp44

@jimmesick: Question: have some of your projects failed? If yes, why?

@clewisopdahl: Have you worked on a #digital project that never took off?

@kristinlenander: Tips for finding the job, office and coworkers as awesome as #clockwork? I hope you realize how luck you are!

Podcast #43: The De-Hype Machine

Two podcasts in two weeks? That’s right! Our “weekly” podcast is dropping the quotation marks for now, which, according to a new study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, could mean we are “socially disruptive narcissists”. 

Two podcasts in two weeks? That’s right! Our “weekly” podcast is dropping the quotation marks for now, which, according to a new study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, could mean we are “socially disruptive narcissists”. 

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Lifehacker: The More Facebook Friends You Have, The More Unhappy You Probably Are