Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Do Your Volleyball Skills Need a Spring Cleaning?

It happens to me every spring. As winter starts to loosen its grip and my neighbor’s tulips sneak a peek, I start the countdown to the first day of beach volleyball. It should be noted that as this itch begins I’m still playing on various indoor leagues - but it makes no difference, I’ve started to yearn sand. Unfortunately, my delirium isn’t acute enough to ignore the obvious: I am not ready.

When you are one of two players covering a sand court under a July sun, you better be willing to run, dive, pass dead-on, and never give up. But as a libero playing with five other players on the court, I have to admit that before I hit the sand my skills need a little spring cleaning.

Thankfully, there are a few camps available in the New Jersey area that can polish up my game – and yours.

Bob Bertucci Camps (www.bobbertucci.com)

  • Day Camps: offered in 3 9 a.m.-5 p.m. days. 2 Sessions in the area available: June 29-July1, 2009 in Medford, NJ; July 6-8 in Brodheadsville, PA. Bertucci also offer a team camp.
  • Kutztown University Weekender. June 5-7, 2009 @ Kutztown, PA. Accommodation and food provided

Pat Powers Clinics (www.vbclinics.com)

  • June 27-28, 2009 Long Island, NY
  • Nov 21-22, 2009 Cherry Hill, NJ (ok, this date is after beach season, but what the heck.)

Rebels Volleyball Clinics (www.geocities.com/livingstonvb99)

  • A series of five Sunday clinics starting on Sunday, April 5, 2009 to be held at Oak Knoll School in Summit, NJ. Participants do not need to commit to the entire series to attend.

Know of any others? Please share.

(Photo Credit: inottawa on Flickr)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

10 Steps to Sharing and Protecting Yourself on Facebook

Since its inception serving only one university, Facebook has grown to include millions of members by connecting family, friends, and colleagues. According to the Calgary Herald, Facebook boasted 1.2 billion visits during the first month of 2009. And as the tentacles of Facebook expand so should your commitment to protecting your online presence.

Personally, I signed up for Facebook, FB for short, using a pseudonym and had only planned on investigating the service. But lured by the possibility of finding a grade-school friend, I edited my account to include my real name – within hours, and after 20 years, I was ‘talking’ to my friend. And, as I typed through a well of tears, I quickly forgot that I am a very private person. When my friend connected me with the next of my beloved grade-school friends I forgot that I hold very few people in confidence. And when a class picture was posted, the three of us bypassed any modicum of privacy and posted detailed comments to the picture.

And then, we remembered - Facebook is an open form of social networking and the default privacy settings reflect that spirit.

So, if you are new to Facebook, there are 10 things to keep in mind before you accept your first Facebook Friend Request:

  1. Know what you want to expose
    Determine if you will be using Facebook for personal or professional exposure. The default account is a personal account. A personal account, in turn, can manage a personal profile and Facebook Pages. A profile contains the personal information you will share with FB friends and family; a Page represents a business or organization and does not interact with the personal profile. Facebook also offers business-only accounts.

  2. Define your concept of a Facebook friend
    Having a rough idea of your friend list will help you customize your privacy settings. Will your friend list include family, friends, past co-workers, current co-workers, your children’s teachers, and your priest?

  3. Familiarize yourself with the privacy settings
    Facebook’s privacy levels span from wide to granular. You can choose to share your profile, and its individual components, with anyone who has Internet access; or can limit access to FB networks, groups, friends, and friend of those friends; or can specify FB friends with whom to share.

    Personally, I recently viewed the cutest picture of a friend’s son mastering his potty, but wondered if my friend knew of the privacy settings available on his account. For example, Facebook allows users to create photo albums and place different security levels on each album. So, conceivably, a user can have pictures available for everyone to see and pictures only available to grandpa and grandma.

  4. Remember that “Friends of Friends” are not necessarily your friends
    Are you a person who would not tell your friends’ co-workers, whom you do not know, what you did last weekend? Depending on your privacy setting, and those of your FB friends’, that is exactly what you may be doing. So remember to set your privacy settings according to your comfort level.

  5. Manage your friend list
    When you first start using Facebook, you will undoubtedly get a rush as your FB friend list grows. But remember that you don’t have to accept every friend request nor feel guilty about not doing so. If the request comes from someone who doesn’t fit your definition of a FB friend, don’t accept it. Rest easy - the requester will not get notification that you rejected his request. However, since the requester may notice that you are still not FB friends and may re-send the request, consider leaving the unanswered request alone – don’t ignore it or confirm it.

  6. Deleting a FB friend is not impolite
    Ok, I admit it, I have deleted FB friends – but that doesn’t mean that they are not my real-life friends. For example, I deleted a close friend because one of her friends kept posting comments that irritated me. Yes, I could have diminished my friend’s presence on my News Feed. Yes, I would have stopped hunting for her friend’s most current, bone-headed comment. In the end, however, there was only one solution; I politely hit the ‘remove’ key on a friend with whom I still lunch.

  7. Be careful of what you share
    Be aware that companies, or their hiring partners, run online searches on candidates prior to hiring them – as a past hiring partner, I did. If your settings are not tight, hiring authorities may see material that you would not have readily shared with them. Also, be wary of posting anything that reveals your schedule. Are you comfortable revealing that you will be on vacation and that your security system is broken? If not, don’t post it.

  8. Monitor what others share about you
    Unfortunately, the definition of an open, social networking site means that you don’t have control over the material that others post about you. And, while you might have had no qualms about posing for a certain picture, you may not want it shared with your FB friends or their friends’ friends. If you find a posting, whether a picture, comment, note, video, or status, to which you object, politely ask your FB friend to remove it. At the very least, if you are tagged on a picture, you can remove the tag so the picture will not be linked to your profile.

  9. Don’t assume that your data belongs to you
    Once you enter data into your Facebook experience it is debatable to whom that data belongs and deactivating or deleting your account does not necessarily delete that data.

    First, be aware that deactivating your account does not delete your information. Instead, your profile is made inaccessible to Facebook users but the data is maintained should you reactivate your account.

    Second, even if you delete your account, don’t assume that your information isn’t already duplicated, in part on in whole, elsewhere. Notably, the cute applications provided by Facebook are written and managed by third-parties who can access your data and have your permission to do so – remember clicking the ‘allow’ button?

    Even more alarming, Facebook recently changed its Terms of Service back to its original version after users expressed concern over Facebook’s intended and explicit ownership of user-generated content.

    Third, it's safe to say that nothing is hacker-proof – don’t assume that your data hasn’t already been mined by an industrious hacker running a simple shell script against Facebook or its third-party partners.

  10. Monitor your online presence regularly
    Regardless of whether you choose to join Facebook or not, be aware of what a personal Google search would produce. You can automate this endeavor by signing up for Google Alerts, a service which notifies you if noted search parameters appear on a current Google search. For example, you can set an alert to notify you by e-mail or RSS feed if you, your business, or email address shows up on a current website page.
When in doubt as what to share, be prudent. Personally, after four months of actively posting on Facebook, I’ve developed the following rule: if I wouldn’t share a post with my grandma, my boss, a client, and a local criminal, I don’t post it. Does that make me a prude? Perhaps – but my real-life friends love me anyway.

(Photo Credit: jaycameron on Flickr)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Beautiful Blond is Looking for a Home

I was forwarded an email from this little girl's foster home. If she doesn't tug at your heartstrings, nothing will. Do you know anyone looking for a puppy? Spring is the best time to enjoy a puppy.

---- Original Email ----
Our latest foster puppy. She is so sweet. She will be up for adoption this week. I am e-mailing everyone to take a look and ask them to e-mail this around in case anyone is looking for a puppy. She was found tied to a tree with red ants crawling all over her. She is very healthy, bright eyed and loving considering what she has been through. Have anyone interested get in touch with me/ P.S. She is only 15 lbs. right now. The photos are deceiving. She will reach between 30 and 40 lbs. which is a mid sized dog. She is extremely loveable and likes nothing better than to cuddle. She gets along great with my two dogs AND my cat. (Doesn't really care about the cat one way or another - which is good). She is smart (already sitting for treats, her meals and her toys). She is a very pretty blonde baby girl with nice markings. Sleeps through the night in her crate without a peep. I think she will make a wonderful pet for a lucky family.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Jaguar Coats and Silk Curtains

My mom once sewed a coat from a jaguar skin. Born in Ecuador during a time when women’s roles grew only to include mother, wife, teacher, nun, or seamstress my mom chose to begin her adult life as a seamstress. Barely out of her teens, she became adept at translating yardage of indistinctive cloth into defining garments for her patrons. After her life grew to include a husband and two daughters, she sewed while everyone else slept. In the dark, working under the light of only a small bulb, she was diabolical; a dark figure bent over a cast-iron Singer, a foot rhythmically pumping life into the old, black beast, nimble fingers feeding it yard after yard, severed threads dancing about.

Thirty-five years later I decided that I needed curtains for my bare windows. Stocked with ideas, I headed to my usual home improvement shops and was shocked by the prices charged for the simplest of curtain panels. My ideal window treatment would include two silk panels, a sheer curtain underneath, and decorative rods. That treatment for ten windows would have cost me more than I could justify. “I shall make my own,” I declared, “After all, my mom made a jaguar coat once. I, too, should be able to sew.” My little goal was lofty; the last needle I threaded was as a child.

And thus began my newest learning experience. Stay tuned.

(Photo Credit: cesarastudillo on Flickr)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Who Needs Copywriters, Anyway?

I was recently pitching my copywriting services to a client whose website is stagnant and whose product page has had a “Coming Soon” note on it for the last two years. I even pitched my services as a quid pro quo agreement. He dismissed me by saying, “Who can’t write? It’s easy. Anybody can do it.” I was crestfallen.

In the time since I walked away from a full-time IT profession, I’ve had to bolster myself against the inquisition of well-meaning friends. “I’ve always been a writer,” I say. “I was a software developer by trade.” I've reassured them that my writing career is the true reflection of my talents. Yes, I am happy. Yes, I’m good at it.

But on that day, when I was willing to trade my services for a small return, I doubted my resolution. Perhaps one’s talents are something to enjoy privately and only a few lucky people can translate them into a rewarding profession. Maybe my goal of achieving such a balance is too lofty a goal. Maybe it is time to put my writing back in its drawer. Should I place a call to my IT colleagues and determine how I can most quietly slip back into that world?

Then, on a nondescript drive to meet friends for dinner, the universe spoke. “Pick up your quill, lady,” it said, “and honor it.”

If you can’t see the grammar mistake below, give me a call – you need me.