Category Archives: Feature

A featured article with a different subject each issue of the Tech Tidbits eNewsletter.

Quit Stealing! Copyright Fair Use and How it Works for Online Images

You’ve heard the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words, but when that picture is protected by copyright, the picture is only worth three words: cease and desist. OK, that’s kind of a lawyer joke. But it illustrates how protective people are about finding their images used online without permission. Copyright laws were established not to give the author the right to deny their work to other people, but instead to encourage its creation. Article I, Section 8, clause 8, of the United States Constitution states the purpose of copyright laws is “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” It’s a delicate balance between the rights of the creator and the public’s interest. When in conflict, the balance tips more heavily toward the public’s interest, which is often contrary to what the creator believes to be fair or just. This article will cover exactly what copyright is and what it covers. And then we’ll look at the concept of fair use as it pertains to using images online. The goal here is to better understand how to use images others create in a way that is both respectful of the author’s ownership rights and allows others to use it. Read the full article »

Shopping Smart on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

4am. 2am. Midnight. Now some shops are even opening up at 9pm on Thanksgiving Day. They’re two of the biggest shopping days of the year; Black Friday and Cyber Monday both offer countless deals, some that seem too good to be true. If you’ll be doing sopping on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, here are some tips to stay safe and avoid scammers and hackers. (Click the image for a full-size view.)Black Friday & Cyber Monday Scams

Tech Tidbits: Special Edition

Drop everything and listen (or look)! The Greater Menomonie Area Chamber of Commerce has this great annual program called The Apprentice: Dunn, and you should be taking advantage it!

In a nutshell, The Apprentice: Dunn matches teams of students from CVTC and UW-Stout with area businesses and organizations (that’s you!) to solve real-world business problems. What does that mean exactly? Well, it’s never too early to start planning for next year’s big fundraiser. So why not participate in The Apprentice: Dunn and work with some super-talented marketing and event-planning students to get a shiny new marketing plan?! It’s a win-win: the students gain the real-world experience they need, and you get a new promotional plan (or a website or market research or a plan for global expansion to Asia). Perfect!

Still skeptical? Check out the Chamber’s Apprentice: Dunn business application for more info and specifics. Have a specific idea in mind, but you’re not quite sure whether it’s a good fit for the Apprentice: Dunn program? Interested in applying but not quite sure where to start? Give Tyler a call at 715-232-1328, and he’ll be more than happy to help you fill out the application, do some brainstorming for project ideas, etc. But hurry, because the deadline for applications is Novemer 18, 2011! So what’re you waiting for?!

Why Your Password Sucks (And How to Make It Better)

It’s something each of us uses every day, and we all probably have one (or a few) that we recycle over and over again. No, I’m not talking about bad jokes; I’m talking about passwords. They’re vital to the security of any system, but are often used incorrectly. Here are some password guidelines to live by:

First of all, forget most everything you know about passwords. As illustrated in this exceptionally hilarious techie nerd comic, for the past 20 years, we’ve been teaching people to create passwords that are difficult for humans to remember but easy for computers to guess. Password Strength Comic by XKCD

What’s important to remember when it comes to password strength, bigger is better. The longer the password, the more time it would take for someone (say a misguided computer nerd with too much time on his hands) to guess your password. As illustrated, a four-word long password (about 20 characters) would take about 550 years to guess—and it’s a TON easier to remember!

Here are the steps to create your new, super-strength password (adapted from Microsoft’s page on password strength):

  1. Take four random words (for example: correct horse battery staple)
  2. Remove the spaces to create your password (for example: correcthorsebatterystaple)
  3. Capitalize the first letter of each word (for example: CorrectHorseBatteryStaple)
  4. Run over to Microsoft’s Password Checker to test your new password’s strength
  5. Voila! You’re finished! If you’re a super security nut, feel free to add some numbers or punctuation for good measure.

Now that you’ve made your super-strength password, keep these general password guidelines in mind:

  • Don’t use the same password for everything. Cybercriminals steal passwords on websites with very little security, and then they try to use that same password and user name in more secure environments, such as banking websites.
  • Change your passwords often. Set an automatic reminder for yourself to change your passwords on your email, banking, and credit card websites about every three months.
  • The greater the variety of characters in your password, the better. However, password hacking software automatically checks for common letter-to-symbol conversions, such as changing “and” to “&” or “to” to “2.”
  • Avoid using sequences or repeated characters (for example: 12345678, 222222, abcdefg, or adjacent letters on your keyboard (qwerty).
  • Avoid using personal information when creating your password (for example: your name, birthday, driver’s license, passport number, or similar information).
  • The easiest way to “remember” passwords is to write them down. It is okay to write passwords down, but keep the written passwords in a secure place.

How well do you know your audience?

Do you know who your audience is? Or what they’re doing right now? I’m not talking about creeping on your donors, I’m talking about knowing the media consumption habits of your audience (possible and existing donors and volunteers, as well as clients).

If you know who your ideal prospect is and you know their age, you should also be aware of the vehicles they use to consume media (tv, music, newspapers, Facebook, YouTube, etc.) and at what times. Imagine that your message has been sent through the wrong channels or at the wrong times; all your hard work and marketing dollars are essentially going to waste.

The following infographic illustrates how different generations consume different types of media content at different times of the day. Take a look and see how your marketing efforts stack up. Are you reaching your target crowd? How can you tweak your efforts to maximize exposure and draw in new donors and volunteers?

Chances are, you’ll be surprised to see just how many folks (old and young alike) are online, and hopefully you’ll begin to understand how important it is to connect with your audience with the help of a stellar online presence and a focused social media presence.

Media Consumption Habits

Is Your Website Under-Performing?

The face of fundraising is changing; with the number of households getting online increasing steadily comes a marked change in people’s giving habits. The average online gift in 2010 was $91.94, up drastically from $67.47 in 2008. And the same goes for volunteer recruitment; non-profit influence and advocacy calls-to-action grew roughly 30% in the past two years. All of this begs the question, “Is your website under-performing?”

Read the rest of this entry

Facebook Changes the Game…Again

The past week or so has been huge in regard to changes in the way Facebook displays information. The feed underwent a major overhaul, as did individual profiles. The changes will be rolled out to everyone in the next few weeks, so get ready! Read the rest of this entry

Featured: Menomonie Area Bread for the World

When Julie and David McNaughton first reached out to me for help with their Facebook Page, I was excited. Really excited. It was my first week here in Menomonie, and I was still using my phone’s GPS to get me to the office every morning. We scheduled a one-on-one training for the following week, and when the time came, Julie and David warmly welcomed me into their home, their eagerness to learn evident. They told me of their deep involvement in the community and how much they were enjoying retirement, while I told of my past experiences with technology and social media. Introductions aside, we got to work. Huddled around their home computer, we laughed and they learned, each question leading to another, and after about an hour of instruction and a page full of notes, we parted ways. I went back to my work, and they to theirs. A few days later, I went to the Menomonie Area Bread for the World’s Facebook page, and what I saw brought me to the brink of tears: a new post from Friday at 8:57am. SUCCESS! In about an hour, this retired couple learned the basics of Facebook and put their new knowledge to use, spreading the word and making a name for their organization. Congratulations to Julie and David McNaughton for all your hard work and continued dedication to your community! Keep up the good work!

P.S. Be sure to “Like” the Menomonie Area Bread for the World Facebook page!