No doubt you’ve heard the expression that sharing is caring.
My recent conversation with Alexandria (VA) City Public Schools Public Relations Specialist Delaina McCormack reminded me of how much knowledge and wisdom school communicators possess.
As you might have gathered from my prior profile of Delaina, she is an advocate for sharing ideas that work.
That’s why she aligns the comment section of her blog posts with Disqus (pronounced “discuss”). Disqus is a free comment hosting service that uses a networked platform.
In November 2014 Disqus hosted the comment sections of three million websites.
Delaina likes Disqus because it makes comments more interactive, robust and shareable. Archiving comments makes them searchable by others who are looking for information on a topic.
“Schools face similar problems, so it makes sense to share solutions we find effective,” Delaina said. “We can learn so much from each other. No need to reinvent the wheel. Rarely is that actually necessary.”
(Of course, the down side is that Disqus combs information about commenters from their comments and can use it to target ads to them. People who are wary of “ad creep” should consider this.)
I asked Delaina to share a list of technology applications and programs that she says she would hate to work without.
Her list is too rich to keep to myself.
With wishes for your enhanced productivity and professionalism, here’s Delaina’s A-list:
Delaina McCormack says she “lives” her professional life in TweetDeck, a free dashboard application to manage Twitter traffic. TweetDeck makes a busy Twitter feed manageable by allowing users to stream tweets into separate “timelines” or columns of their own description. This is a huge benefit for those who manage more than one Twitter account. (Many school communicators are expected to keep a pulse on Twitter feeds of their superintendent, principals, the athletic director, etc.)
You can also set up TweetDeck by topic so that tweets from people you follow for their public relations and marketing expertise are funneled separately from tweets from your favorite celebrities or about favorite hobbies.
TweetDeck, like a similar app HootSuite, also allows users to write tweets and schedule them to post at a future time. You can also use it to set alerts to make sure you see tweets on emerging information, like the state’s pending release of standardized test scores or a police standoff in your town.
Delaina also recommends:
- BusyCal 2 ($49), which is a cloud-syncing alternative to standard calendars that come standard on your computer. She likes BusyCal 2’s clean look and unique features: Customizable calendar views, scrolling month and week views, integrated to-do and shopping lists, and display panel for quickly viewing and editing events. The app also has a live local weather feed and a menu bar for quick access to breaking news. Best of all, it syncs reminders entered on other types of electronic calendars to all her devices, so she never misses an appointment (at least not because she forgot about it). There’s more information at busymac.com.
- Carbonite – A cloud-based storage plan that automatically backs up your electronic files. The service costs $60 per year but offers a big advantage over an external hard drive — files can be accessed from anywhere you have an Internet connection. “The worst feeling in the world is when your computer hard drive goes bye-bye and your data vanishes,” Delaina said. “With Carbonite, I’m able to log in from anywhere in the world and have access to all my files, even ones that I haven’t worked on for years.” Read all about it at carbonite.com.
- LastPass is a cloud-based password manager. Unique passwords improve security of your electronic data, but who can remember passwords to the many accounts most people have these days? If you make a password notebook, you’ll have to carry it with you and that means there’s a risk you will leave it somewhere. Better to trust your passwords to a password manager app, Delaina said. LastPass’s free version has lots of features, but if you want more you can subscribe for $12/year. For more info, see lastpass.com.
Password managers are practically a necessity today.
If the thieves in the old Arabic folk tale were using one, Ali Baba never would’ve gotten into the cave stocked with all of their treasures.
This is probably when all of the cautions about relying on a single password (whether “Open Sesame” or some other) got started.