Look Ma – no Gmail Inbox Tabs!

For the most part, I really do like Gmail. True, the interface takes a lot of getting used to, and whether any of it is truly intuitive is up for debate, but it’s fast, readily available across multiple platforms (mac, pc, phone, tablet etc), has lots of space, and is pretty configurable. So, once you learn how to do things in Gmail, it really does do a pretty good job. That said, this Inbox tab thing really had me rankled. I mean, why on earth would I go through all the effort of creating filters that allow me to organize email my own way, for someone else to come along and throw them up on the screen in some arbitrary way?

Gmail has introduced inbox tabs

Well, if you’re like me, and one whole day of those tabs was more than enough, then you probably want them gone. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to make that happen, and I’ll show you how.

Step 1 – Click the Gmail Settings Cog. Gmail Settings Cog
Step 2 – Click “Configure Inbox.” Gmail Configure Inbox
Step 3 – Uncheck social and promotions, and anything else that is checked except primary. Gmail Uncheck Tabs to disable them
Step 4 – With the boxes unchecked, it should look like this. Then just click Save. Gmail tabs deselected then click save
You’ve done it! There are no longer any Gmail Inbox Tabs. You can now resume your normal inbox browsing! Gmail Inbox back to normal - no tabs


Keyboard and Command Line Shortcuts for Windows

Here you can find a list of commands that can be run in Windows via the run line. If you cannot see the run line already, use the windows key keyboard plus the letter r to bring up the run line.

Over time I will be updating this list, so check back often for more handy tips :

CommandWindows 8Windows 7 and VistaWindows XPUsed For
dcomcnfg.exenot yet testedYesYesBrings up the Microsoft Management Console Window for Component Services
msinfo32YesYesYesOpens the System Information Window with details about the computer including Operating System Version, computer name, BIOS info, hardware and installed applications.
msconfigYesYesYesUsed when troubleshooting to enable and disable services and programs that run when the computer first boots.
controlYesYesYesOpens the Control Panel
services.mscYesYesYesOpens the Microsoft Management Console Services Snap-In for enabling, disabling and restarting services.
conf.exeYesYesOpens Microsoft Netmeeting
WindowsKey+LYesLocks the computer. Keeps user logged in, but returns to the login screen.

I love my car – and all of its 200 thousand original miles

1996_Infiniti_I30There shouldn’t be anything emotional about it. It’s a horseless carriage, an automobile, a vehicle, and, finally, a car. It is a bunch of aluminum, steel, plastic and rubber all arranged into a complicated piece of technology whose sole purpose is transport me, and up to 4 other people, safely from place to place. Why, then, should I have an emotional attachment to this tool?

Well, for one thing, it’s mine. I own it. It’s one of a handful of things I do own. I saved up, sold my Harley, and finally paid for it in cash. It has seen me through good times and bad. It saw me through a job, the birth of my son, a layoff, the entire life span of three businesses, and the beginning of a 4th. It has helped me through a whole lot of projects, and helped me advocate for Autism.  When everything else is going wrong, when I had to sell my house in a short sale, and file for bankruptcy, I could, at least, go and sit in my car.

And it has personality. Oh, yes; surprising as that sounds, it does have personality. The ignition doesn’t quite work, so you have to know HOW to turn the key to get it started. The trunk is bent from being hit from behind, and there is a sea-sickening like vibration from a mis-fire on one of the cylinders. The CD Player had already stopped changing CDs by the time I bought it, and now it doesn’t even play CDs. The tape drive, well, it’s a tape drive. And the stereo display only works when the car is about to die; which it has done from time to time. Still, the radio plays, and I can use the bluetooth via the stereo, after an arduous process of manually scanning channels, and suburban life does offer a wide range of stations without needing to replace the antenna, which was broken by low lying bushes at the Zoo’s annex parking lot. I won’t even talk about the transmission, but as soon as I get past first gear, it keeps going in the direction I want it to go.

So, okay, I understand that there are lots of stories in this car, and that it is those stories that make me sentimental about this car. And, sure, it would be really, really, really nice not to stop the car and see smoke whisping out from under the hood. But I do love my car, so  I guess it’s okay to celebrate its recent milestone. It has earned it. After all, I’ve been behind the wheel for more than 104,000 of its now more than 200,000 miles.  I guess you could say, we’ve earned it, together.

Odometer from Infiniti I30 Shows 200K Miles

Humanoid Robot Helps Train Children with Autism | News | Scientific Computing

Read about NAO Robot on Wikipedia

NAO Robots

You may find it surprising that something as complicated as a robot could be an asset for helping children to develop Social Interaction Skills. And yet, as reported in this Scientific Computing article “Humanoid Robot Helps Train Children with Autism | News | Scientific Computing,” that is exactly what is being developed by a team of researchers from Vanderbilt University. Their goal – to test whether intelligent adaptive systems can make an impact on ASD.

 Simple Shapes

As I’ve worked with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs), one of the principle lessons I’ve learned is to seek ever more simple solutions. In practice, this paradigm shift has turned out to be more difficult than I had anticipated, especially when there is such a stark contract between chronological age and developmental stages. Ultimately, my inspiration for simplicity came from the 2008 movie “Wall-E,” which broke down human interactions into physical movements and either eliminated, or dramatically simplified language. As this concept sunk in, perfectly obvious images, like the TeleTubbies came flooding to mind, and I realize I’ve seen this before.

People Complicate Learning

If you really think about it, we’ve long recognized that people complicate learning – all the way back to ancient Greece, in fact. Over the years we’ve come up with sock puppets, hand puppets, string puppets,  and people dressed like puppets. A robot, then, is simply one more technological extension of a trend that started eons ago. NAO even has a simply shaped face and body, much like its puppet counterparts. So, the NAO robots being used in this project seem a perfect fit. After all, if you’re trying to focus on learning something as complex as human social interactions, the fewer complications and distractions the better. In a room, that can mean turning off televisions and radios, and removing clutter. In the case of removing humans, we’ve long used puppets. Think of a robot, then, as simple puppet with no visible strings.


Rules and Predictability

That said, robots do offer one significant advantage over the traditional puppet – simple sets of rules. When a human puppeteer handles a puppet, they may be inclined to move or act quickly, or to introduce concepts or language. A robot, on the other hand, is limited to a particular set of programming. That makes a robot very, very predictable, which eliminates a lot of fear and confusion on behalf of a person interacting with it. A robot won’t suddenly stand up and leave the room, even to use the bathroom. It won’t have bad days, or be inexplicably very happy. Its voice, if used, has a finite amount of modulation, and there are specific word choices available to it. Almost everything about a robot is predictability – a state well known to reduce anxiety in children. Less anxiety, more learning.

Robot Teachers

Robots as puppets, then, are great tools for helping to reduce anxiety in children and helping them to learn. Of course, a robot’s ability to interact and learn a person’s skill, and advance through stages of mastery are minimal at best. Thus, human monitoring and guidance are a must. So, while I don’t expect that you’ll see robots replacing your a 5th grade classroom teacher, they are certainly a great example of how we can continue an age old tradition of using puppets in a contemporary manner to advance education. The possibilities here are endless, but the implications for facilitating the process of learning social skills amongst children with Autism Spectrum Disorders is a concept with considerable potential, and merit.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Leprechaun Girl Wishes You a Happy St Patrick's Day from  ECLAT TechnologicallyTo all the ECLAT Technologically fans and customers, I raise my glass to you and wish you a very Happy St. Patrick’s Day.
May the leprechauns be near you,
To spread luck along your way.
And may all the Irish angels,
Smile upon you St. Patrick’s Day.

A Tribute to Lois Black, Ph.D.

One year ago today, the world lost a treasure of incalculable value. She was a woman ahead of her time, an academic who lead with her heart, an author, a scientist, a friend, a wife, a mother, and an amazing human being.

I’ve spent considerable time pondering this post. Truly nothing I can ever write, will ever accurately portray Dr. Lois Black, and she was taken from us before I could even begin to comprehend the few things she had time to teach me.

And yet, as I think about it now, even in her absence, she teaches me still. Scarcely a day goes by when I don’t think about how short each day really is, and how I mustn’t wait to reach out to people, lest they depart before we have the chance to spend quality time with them. I’ve taken to heart her wish to spend more time in schools, and that strikes me as particularly poignant since I have, by necessity, spent so much time in my son’s classroom this year.

Perhaps most of all, however, I think of how I still wrestle to implement even those few small lessons, as I find myself drawing yet another day to a close, a full year after her passing, with so much left to do, and so many people I should have liked to connect with, to sit down with over a cup of coffee or a meal, or out on a hike. And yet, today, one year has gone by, and today went much as this day went one year ago, busily rushing around, trying to accomplish as much as possible, and yet, having yet to really reach the people most important in my life.

Lois M. Black, Ph.D was a teacher, almost her entire life. She had a zest for life, she survived so much, she contributed so much. She left behind her husband, Jan van Santen, an amazing scientist in his own right, a talented and potent daughter, and a legacy of contribution that can scarcely be measured.

Lois M Black, Ph.D - Remembered ForeverDear Lois,
Thank you for everything you gave us, and for all your lessons continue to do for us. The world is a better place because of you. You are missed, and will be remembered, always.
Your friend and lifelong student,

26000 email address and password combinations found published on French Website

ECLAT Technologically IT Security AlertOnline security is the name of the game, but just how secure are you when you browse the web? There are a multitude of ways to protect yourself, but TOO many people do little if anything to secure their information on the internet. The consequences can be profound. Consider, for a moment, the implications for losing control of your email address and password. Do you get emails from your bank, there? Bingo. Your bank account is now accessible by the bad guys. How about your stock portfolio? Confidential medical or other financial data? Customer data? Loans? Credit Cards? Business advertising accounts. How about really embarrassing personal data? Plus your name, date of birth, list of family members… the list goes on. If you’re not securing your data, there is a world of hurt waiting to come your way, and your life can lay in ruins in its wake.

Now, in case you’re wondering just how accessible your email address and password are, consider this. Earlier today I was trying to decipher a hand written note and typed in an email address from that note into a Google search. I clicked a few links and imagine my surprise when I found was a list of 25,970 email addresses and passwords. How long have they been out there? Who put them there? How did they get the list? It’s really hard to say, though some of the contents of the page make it look like these were from phishing sites, possibly made to look like the user was logging into their own email, or a similar site. But the cleanup from that kind of theft has got to be immense.

Here’s what I did to address the issue when I found their data:

  • I copied the list and the url of the site I found the list on
  • stripped the passwords
  • parsed the domains
    • 1572 Gmail Accounts
    • 16572 Microsoft customer email accounts including Microsoft Live, Windows Live, hotmail.com and MSN.com
    • 3620 yahoo email accounts
    • 400 AOL.com and aim.com accounts
    • thousands of others from private companies and educational institutions alike
  • contacted the security from most of those domains (the full list is impossible)
  • provided them with the list of compromised accounts and the source (as I have it)
  • contacted a few individuals who were not part of big lists (like gmail, hotmail, yahoo etc.)
  • and now I’m telling you.

This is a big list. 25,000 accounts. That’s a lot of people. And it’s just a drop in the bucket of the list of accounts that have been compromised. Are you one of them? Are you doing all that you can to secure your data? Do you even know if you are? These are all points that may keep you up at night if you haven’t consulted someone to ensure that you are properly protected. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Call someone now!

Sprocket Rocket

Don’t hit the Panic button in your Linked-In account just yet

Linked In Offices PhotoNumerous reports are floating around the internet that LinkedIn, a social networking site for professionals, has been hit by hackers and some 6.46 passwords potentially exposed. But don’t go running out and closing down your LinkedIn account just yet. You probably aren’t affected. And, even if you are, you’ll know it the next time you try to login to your LinkedIn Account.

That said, there are basically two things you can do.

Change your password – tomorrow

Changing your password regularly is a good idea anyway. But with the high number of people trying to change their passwords today, your attempt is likely to lead only frustration and a forgotten password. Instead, take a deep breath, and consider that the stolen files are encrypted, and it will take time to decrypt them. That gives you some time to develop a plan to put your new password into play -tomorrow. In the meanwhile, here’s what you should do:

  1. Change your email account password (TODAY)
  2. Make a list of all the sites you use the same password on, with special emphasis on :
    1. Email Accounts
    2. Bank Accounts
      1. Checking/Credit Card/PayPal etc.
    3. Investment Accounts
    4. Vendor Accounts
      1. eBay, Sears, NewEgg, etc.
    5. Membership Accounts (especially those you pay for, or that can identify you)
      1. Facebook, Google Plus, Gym Memberships, Golf Clubs, etc).
  3. Skip the random email link prompting you to change your password (it could just as easily be a hoax or phishing)
  4. Plan your new password with five future changes in mind
    1. Try putting together a random, yet memorable, string of words, numbers, and syllables. Then you can change them later. Like this :
      1. FishGumboIs2Good!
      2. 2GoodIsFishGumbo!
      3. IsFishGumboGood2!
      4. FishIsGumbo!2Good
      5. 2!IsGumboFishGood
    2. As you can see, the content is the same, but the sequence can be changed 5 times and you’re likely to be on the same track. Come up with your own strategy – please don’t use these – make it something you can remember.
  5. Set aside an hour on your calendar tomorrow (and not a day later) to start logging in on those sites and changing your password.
  6. Put a reminder on your calendar to do this every 4 – 6 months.

Change other passwords? Are you crazy?

Any time that your email address and password may be at risk, you should change other passwords, and start with your email. Why?

  • People often use the same password everywhere, and the first place for a hacker to try your newly discovered username and password is your email.
    • The ramifications are huge. Just think about it. Your bank sends you email updates about your account. Now the hacker knows which bank you use.
    • Your contacts can now receive phishing emails from the hacker that appear to be from you.
    • And the list goes on.
  • Change all your passwords, starting with your email. Don’t forget your phone, and any linked accounts.

The History

Let’s take a moment to look at the data so far :

  1. The claim came in from reports of a “user on a Russian forum” who said they had downloaded the encrypted password file.
  2. Various sites reported the claim, including ZDNet, Cert-Fi, USA Today, and so on.
  3. Linked In reported via LinkedIn that it was investigating the reports, but could not confirm an actual breach.
  4. Vicente Silveira posted about Security Best Practices.
  5. Vicente Silveira confirmed the breach and the documented the action being taken.

The Good

There is good in all of this. Specifically, LinkedIn does care about security. How doe we know?

  • Ganesh Krishnan was talking about security and LinkedIn back on May 23rd.
  • The total time from report to public action <= one day

Hopefully this will encourage LinkedIn to look at their various applications and tighten the security on them, too.

In the meanwhile, hopefully it motivates you to tighten your own online security; lest some hacker gain access to your account in a much less public manner.

Certainty and Uncertainty of Autism in Oregon and SB1568

Oregon State Capitol Building 900 Court Street Salem Oregon Today, February 10th, 2012, Senate Bill 1568 will be discussed at the Senate Health Care Committee hearing. It may proceed to a workshop, it may be voted out of committee and on to its next legislative step, or it may be rejected outright; the outcome is uncertain.

Some things, however, are certain. It is certain, that between today, and February 10th, 2013, more than 600 children will be diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum. It is certain, that more than 1200 parents will begin an emotional, and financial roller coaster. It is certain, that those 1200 parents, with their 2400 parents, will begin a discussion of who will sacrifice what for their children, and grandchildren. It is certain that those 3600+ people will have to decide who will quit their job to take on the full time task of running from therapist to therapist, and tending to the enormous task of caring for a newly diagnosed child on the Autism Spectrum. It is certain that the person who doesn’t work will stop paying into the insurance system. And it is certain, that the strain on those families will be enormous.

The good news is that IF SB1568 succeeds in 2013, the strain those 3600 plus people will feel will be greatly reduced, and those families, plus thousands more like them, will feel a great weight lifted; the weight of having to become medical practitioners themselves, or fail their children. Trained professionals will, finally, be able to provide a significant service to a community that desperately needs it, fewer of those professionals will see people default on their medical bills, and insurance companies that provide coverage, will see greater enrollment in their plans by members of the autism community.

Oregon is one of the last states to address autism treatment by insurance companies

(Image by Autism Votes)

Another certainty, however, is that if SB1568 does not succeed in the Oregon Senate this year, then nothing will change for at least another year, and Oregon will definitely continue to be the state with the second highest incidence of Autism, and one of the diminishing numbers of states that still has no requirement for insurance companies to pay for treatment. And, for another year, Oregon families will continue to feel the financial strain of paying for treatment out of pocket, or waiting far past the time medical experts say is most effective, relying on the school system to take on what they can.

After that, the certainty ends. Will that relief help to bring the divorce rate for the community down from some 70%? Will improved access medical treatment, paid for by medical insurance companies, help avoid foreclosures and bankruptcies? Will schools begin to see a decline in the number of children needing services for Autism? Will more young adults then emerge from academia and enter productive lives? It’s hard to say, but that is the hope that this bill carries with it, so I am inclined to say Yes.