Wednesday, 3 January 2018

3 Reasons you Need your Picture on LinkedIn

The first impression someone makes of you is the most important, and it will be based on seeing you first and what you have to say, second.  Think about meeting someone, you look at their face, their clothes, their demeanor long before you listen to what they have to say.  Online you can't judge by what someone is wearing as you do in the real world, so you can only judge by someone's face.

The same translates into the online world and even more so to LinkedIn, where someone may be interested in your talents, have found you in search, and wants to know more about you. If you're faceless, they'll be unable to 'meet you' online, and they're far more likely to move on fast.

So here are the reasons you need your picture on LinkedIn

1.   You're 'faceless' otherwise.  You could be anyone.  Yours could be a fake profile.  You're missing the most fundamental part of a social media connection - what you look like.  You may think this is unfair, you may not like the way you look, but get someone to take a picture of you on a simple background and show your face.  Many fake LinkedIn profile's have no photograph, make sure that no one can think for a second that your profile could be one of those.

2.   You come over as being lazy.  Not bothering.  No matter how long you've taken to create a carefully crafted profile if you haven't put your photograph on LinkedIn you might just be one of those 'I can't be bothered to finish that' people.  So I'll go elsewhere.

3.   People are far less likely to want to connect to you, let alone contact you.  The fundamental of social media is that you do put your photo on each and every site you interact on, be it Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.  LinkedIn requires a simple, more businesslike photo than these others, but if you want to make the most of your profile, and your chances of coming across like minded people, you need your picture there.  Having your picture on LinkedIn creates trust, not having one there creates doubt.

At the top is the blank photo icon everyone has who doesn't have their photo up.  Don't be one of those.  You'll struggle to maximize your profile.  And I definitely won't connect with you.

Also published on LinkedIn 3rd January 2018

Thursday, 21 September 2017

How to Get Started with iOS 11

Yesterday I downloaded iOS 11 for iPhone and iPad.  As someone who is not a tech nerd but always wants the latest upgrades I thought I’d relay some of my experience and what you need to do first.

iOS 11 Compatible DevicesOne of the things that makes life a little confusing is the different functionality for iOS 11 between iPhone and iPad so I’m going to split the information completely between the two, starting with iPhone.  There’s also so much going on for both that I’ve found it helpful to split it into individual components rather than try and take in the whole thing at once. 

The upgrade is much wider for iPad and less so for iPhone – these are things you need to know for both that will make life easier.

Before you start.

1.  Make sure all your apps are up to date
by clicking on the Appstore and then Updates/Update All

2.  Back up your phone into iCloud by going to Settings/Account/iCloud/iCloud Backup/Backup Now and wait until the backup is confirmed.  If you don’t use iCloud, which I sincerely suggest you do as your backups will be automatic, you can backup your phone into iTunes either wirelessly or using a cable and these Backup Instructions from Apple.

3.  Check to ensure your device is compatible with iOS 11 – see the chart above.
4.  Allow Enough Time – You can’t download iOS 11 in a hurry.  You should preferably be plugged in and with a full WiFi connection.  Then go to General/Software Update and you’ll see the new update.  Start the download. 

Control Panel iOS 11

5.  Customise your New Control Center Whereas in iOS 11 your lock screen and music center were on two separate screens, now they’re on one.  This takes a bit of getting used to but to my mind is a great improvement, and you can add features you want and take out others you don’t.

To customise your control center go to Settings/Control Centre/Customise Controls.  There you’ll find all the options – so you can add Wallet, Low Power Mode, Magnifier and Do Not Disturb While Driving (plus others) and remove anything you don’t want to see extremely easily.

Just swipe up from the bottom of your screen to get to the Control Center. 

iOS 11 Notifications Screen

6.  Get Used to the New Notifications Screen
Swipe down from the top edge of the screen to see all your notifications in one place.  On each on you can swipe up from the middle of the screen straight after unlocking it. 

On each notification swipe right to Open, or left to View, or Clear each one individually.  As before you can hit the X at the top of each day’s Notifications to Clear the lot.

If you want to change your notifications go to Settings/Notifications and set what you want and don’t want to see.

Monday, 6 March 2017

How to Cancel your Times Subscription the Easy Way

Updated March 2017

Many of us now have subscriptions to our favourite newspapers.  It's so easy to pick up your phone or tablet, or sit in front of your laptop and catch up on the news in real time rather than read a physical paper.  I happen to read The Times.  Online.

But if you want to cancel your Times Subscription you would think that you could just go online, as you can with many websites and click on a few links.  Not so The Times.  Obviously they don’t want you to cancel……..funny that. That's not to say that the Times isn't excellent online, I much prefer being able to read it on everything from PC to iPhone, but it's a pain to have to call rather than click if I want to opt out.

I came across a lot of complaints online from people who have tried to cancel their subscription.  Having written this a while back I decided to check for myself and update this post as necessary.

There is an easy way to cancel your Times subscription. 

Just pick up the phone and call 0800 018 5177

Choose the cancellation option you’ll be offered - at time of writing it is option 4 and then option 4 - and within a moment or so you’ll be put through to someone who will then hopefully offer to give you a deal.  Or will help you cancel. You have to give 15 days notice within a billing period, which seems reasonable, but otherwise it seemed simple.

You can also email but frankly it was so quick to call I wouldn’t bother, as then you have to wait for a response.

If you try and use the Live Chat option for this on The Times website they will tell you to call the number above.

It should be much easier to cancel your Times subscription.  But it isn’t difficult.

It also makes you think about all those other subscriptions you might have, where a quick call may benefit in an offer you weren't going to be made unless you decided to leave.  After all, retaining the customer is so much the name of the game.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Phishing emails–8 things to look out for

A couple of weeks ago I had an email purporting to be from Apple telling me my ID needed to be confirmed and wouldn’t work until I responded.  I went straight to the app store, logged in and downloaded an app which required my login and it worked perfectly.

Had I responded to the email which looked totally authentic someone out there would have been able to hijack my Apple account.  This was a phishing email and luckily I was suspicious – I always am.  But it might have caught someone else.

With the Talk-Talk hacking affecting so many current and (probably) former customers this is a good time to brush up on your knowledge of phishing emails – what they are and what to look out for.

Phishing is used by fraudsters to try and get confidential information out of you.  Emails can look entirely authentic from businesses you may expect to hear from regularly.  There are those with grammatical and spelling mistakes and email addresses you don’t recognise that are reasonably easy to spot, but in general they’re becoming more and more sophisticated.

My first rule of emails is to NEVER click on a link or reply unless you’re absolutely certain that it’s genuine.  But how to you tell?

So here’s what to look out for.

1.  Bad grammar and spelling mistakes.  Even the biggest companies paying huge amounts of money to highly qualified copywriters make mistakes occasionally, but sometimes there are obvious errors which should make you stop and think.  They frequently contain capital letters and numbers where they shouldn’t, and spelling and errors which look as if they’ve been written by someone whose first language isn’t English.

2.  The ‘to’ field in the email header is blank.  This could indicate that the email doesn’t come from someone who knows you and deals with you regularly.

3.  Be very suspicious of any email asking for personal information such as your pin number or account password.  No reputable company will ever do this and you should NEVER give this information out online.

4.  Fraudsters are unlikely to know your real name.  Be suspicious if the email from a supposedly reputable business who you do business with already doesn’t contain your proper name. 

5.  Phishing emails frequently have an urgent call to action.  They want you to act without thinking, to click without thinking. ‘Your account has been compromised! You need to take action immediately, click here to verify your account’ is a good one.  Think before clicking, always.

6.  Many emails are read on smartphones, so the ‘hover over the ‘From’ area to see if the email sender looks authentic’ tip for identifying phishing emails a few years ago doesn’t work on smartphones.  But if you’re on your pc or laptop obviously you can see who the sender is immediately, and if it doesn’t look right or there’s something funny about the sender’s email address close your browser and type in the proper URL.

7.  Don’t open email attachments or click on email links unless you’re absolutely certain you know who they are from.  These can contain viruses.

8.  It’s this simple.  If you have any doubts at all, don’t click.

Don’t assume that an email that looks authentic, is.  Check carefully before responding.

Fraudsters sending phishing emails are becoming more and more clever.  The most important thing is to not click on anything you have doubts about.  Go the the website independently, login and make sure that everything is normal.  Then report the email as spam and delete it.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Microsoft Surface Pro 3–How to turn a tablet into a Windows lightweight laptop, and accessorise it for less.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3Having travelled thousands of miles over the past few years with a laptop which, although it worked brilliantly, weighed a ton, I decided to look into other options, and of course there are hundreds, from a MacBook to Lenovo, Asus, Toshiba, Dell etc.

I’m very difficult when it comes to tech.  I want something light with a decent speed and memory.  I want a full size keyboard with Print Screen available and keys that are good for fast typing.  And I want a mouse.  No, not a trackpad, a real movable adaptable mouse.  Trackpads and I don’t get along.

I have Apple with my iPad and iPhone and didn’t really want to move completely, as I like to know what’s going on with Windows, so when I spotted the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 in PC World I shimmied over to it and, after some research back home, decided I would give it a go.  And that’s what I’m writing on today.

This was helped by a 25% off offer from a supplier on Amazon, as I definitely wasn’t going to pay the hefty price at most stores for something which didn’t even include a keyboard (!), and that with the suggested attachable keyboard and my minimum requirement of i5 Intel, 4GB ram would be way over my budget.
Teknet lightweight keyboard and mouse

I initially ordered the Type Cover which is supposed to go with the Surface Pro 3 
but which
I rejected as it doesn’t have the Print Screen function, has a track pad (although you can use a nano mouse) and doesn’t protect the back of the Surface Pro which is also a stand.  As I said, I’m fussy.

After too much time to quantify searching for a lightweight keyboard and mouse combo – UK version – with a nano USB I found this Teknet keyboard and mouse which I’m using now, extremely light, very inexpensive and easy to use. 

Be very careful when looking for keyboards that you get the UK or US version you want.  This has a little front stand and fits perfectly in front of the Surface Pro.  Ok so it doesn’t attach?  So what? And it’s about 20% of the price of the made to measure Type Cover which is a huge saving.
Moko Stand Cover for Microsoft Surface Pro 3
Finally I invested in a MoKo stand cover, which I also have for my iPad and which protects front and back, and to carry everything a superbly lightweight Belkin 14” laptop sleeve which had to be a little bigger to take the keyboard as well.
Belkin 14 inch light laptop sleeve and pocket

Notes about the Surface Pro 3 – it has one 3.0 USB port, however it also has another, which can be used for charging your phone, on the charging block.

It also comes with a pen, which I haven’t worked out fully yet – more about that later probably.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

10 Tips and tricks for iOS 9

Apple iOS 9Having updated my iPhone and iPad to iOS9 here are the tips and tricks I’ve discovered in the last day or so.  Some obvious, some not so, some very annoying because they’re not available yet, or not available on any specific device….

Also some of the widely written about features of iOS 9 don’t appear to have made it yet either out of Beta, or to the UK.  So I have only included those where I have accurate information or have tried them out.

1.  The new News icon.
If you live in the UK you won’t have this yet – hopefully in the future.  It’s been announced on all the ‘New in iOS9 posts’ so it’s frustrating to realise you don’t have it.

You can get this right now if you change your region in Settings to the USA and at least see how it functions.  Or you can wait.  Not having analysed properly the effect changing your region would have on everything else I had a quick look and then switched back.  Come along Apple…… we want this too.

2.  Lower case keyboard
You may have noticed that your keyboard is now all lowercase by default.  Personally I didn’t want this change and so changed back by going to Settings<General<Accessibility<Keyboard and toggling off ‘Show Lower Case Keys’.

3.  Apple Maps
Will now give you public transport information provided you’re in a major city such as London or Chicago and note that for the UK this is only for London.

4.  Spotlight Search
The Spotlight Search field is accessible by swiping down from anywhere on your home screen (or any home screen).  Speak to it or type in it and find everything relevant from music to apps and email messages.

You can change the suggestions you get from Spotlight Search by going to Settings<General<Spotlight Search and toggling on or off what you don’t want to be suggested.  Remember that if you do stop Stoplight Search from accessing everything that goes on on your device you won’t get as many ‘intelligent’ responses. 

Read this from MacWorld – iOS 9 makes Siri more proactive.

5.  View a website’s desktop version easily from the mobile site share icon
If you don’t want to use a website’s mobile version but want to see the full desktop site on your iPhone or iPad just click on the Share icon within the mobile site view and click on ‘Request Desktop Version’.

6.  Notes has had a major overhaul
Now you can add photos to Notes, or use your finger to sketch, tick an item, or write a new note.  You can also choose which type of stylus you use, and there’s a ruler to guide you.  On an iPhone this is a little tricky although being able to tick off shopping lists with your finger is a good add-on.

Another way to manage shopping or to-do lists, that you don’t want to delete as you may use them regularly, is to highlight the whole list – hold down your finger over the note until you see ‘Select All’.  You should see a plus sign in the right hand corner.  Click on this and then on the ‘tick-within-a-circle’ on the line of icons which will appear.  A circle will appear beside each of your items which you can tick and un-tick at will using your finger.

7.  The ability to block adsWith iOS 9 you can now install an ad blocker app and block most (but not all) of the pesky and unwanted ads that appear everywhere.  The most popular paid ad blocker ‘Peace’ has been withdrawn from the app store after just launching and thousands of downloads because of ‘conflict of interest’.

I’ve downloaded ‘Crystal’ and time will tell how successful it is but already on most sites I’m seeing fewer ads and general download is quicker.

8.   Low Power Mode
When you get down to 20% or less of your battery life a message will pop up which will offer you Low Power Mode – to eek out as much life from you phone as possible. 

My advice as always is to carry a mini portable charger and a short charging cable around with you so you don’t reach this stage……

9.  Mail Update - Send attachments and store received attachments in iCloud Drive -  Hold your finger down on the screen when replying to an email and scroll across the bar that will appear to add attachments – you can then include any attachment you have stored in iCloud Drive, Dropbox or any other location.

You can also save any attachment into iCloud Drive by holding your finger on it until the option bar appears, and clicking on ‘Save Attachment’.  You will then have the option to move it into iCloud Drive.

To make iCloud Drive instantly accessible you can install it as an icon in your home screen by going to Settings>iCloud Drive and toggling the Show on Home Screen switch to on.

Mail Update 2 - Send as many photos as you want

You’re no longer limited to five photos attached to Mail – you can send as many as you want……..

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

The Top Ten Rules of Product Page Usability
Getting a visitor or returning customer to click on that 'Buy Now’ button can be very difficult, with a lot of pitfalls along the way.  Conversion is without a doubt the most important factor of e-commerce and getting your product page web usability right is half of the battle.

A visitor will arrive at your website because they’re looking for something but just how simple do you make it for them to find it, and then once they reach the exact page which holds all the information for the product they’re seeking how easy and inviting do you make it for them to buy?

There are so many e-commerce sites out there competing for your slice of the market, give yourself the best chance of success by following these rules.
1.  Image
I’ve written about this here also as its the image that draws the customer in, and is the most important element of your product page, but in essence your images need to be very clear, have a large sized zoom facility so that detailed close-ups are available, and thumbnails for alternative views. 

If you're offering a product that would benefit from a model shot, or a video then include those as well if at all possible, plus various detailed stills shots. 

2.  Product Name

Should be at the top with clear wording, making it easy for people to search for specific products and arrive at the right place quickly

3.   Price
Immediately below the product name or over to the right – must be instantly visible.

4.   Make your descriptions clear and succinct.
Imagine that it’s you who are buying something, what would you want to know?  If you need to include a lot of information consider bullet points or tabs and don’t make visitors scroll a long distance down the page, losing sight of the image.  As much information as is necessary should be immediately available without any scrolling and pictures sell more effectively than words.

5.   Delivery
Information should be obviously accessible on each product page

6.   Size Availability

Be totally transparent about what’s available and when.  Don’t offer all sizes if some are out of stock. Some websites tell you how many they have left of each item.  When the numbers go down they create a 'need' to buy now.

7.  Ratings and Reviews
If you offer customer ratings and reviews put these in a prominent place – many retailers are afraid of showing these without realising the overall benefits of customer ratings in improving both trust and conversion rates.

8.  Social Sharing Buttons

Put these where they are obvious – you want your visitors to share the products they like with their friends.  It won’t happen if they’re hard to find.

9.  Cross-Sells
Include on every page.  Yes it’s extra work for you, but cross-selling will generate further sales.

10.  Add to Bag Button
Your Add to Bag button should stand out, either by choice of colour or by making it slightly oversized.

Don't allow your web designer to get clever, or think 'I want to do something really really different on my website'.  The basics of product page conversion are to make it as simple for the user as possible, they want to browse, arrive at the page offering what they're looking for, look, read, click buy, input details, and leave.  Fast.

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