Five tips: spring cleaning and rev-ups for your browser

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Last week I got a brand-new computer. I had put it off for several months a couple of years because it would mean that I needed to clean out my old one and decide what to keep and what to trash.

It sat in the box for a couple of days, but finally I took it to Osama, our computer guru guy, to make the transfer. When I picked it up on Monday, I knew that there would be a few things I’d have to amend myself that didn’t make it in the transfer or that he wouldn’t have wanted to make an executive decision about.

The first change announced itself when I launched Outlook and discovered that all of my calendar entries were wiped out in the transfer. All of my appointments – past, present and future – were just …gone. There was a momentary heart-stoppage when my contacts didn’t seem to be there, either. I’m ultimately safe – I did a backup (and so did Osama) – but of course you can’t help the autonomic adrenalin rush that hits when you think that it’s all gone.

All my settings and defaults for programs have to be updated, one by one, as I open them for the first time. For example, I’m typing now in Word’s awful default of Calibri (11 point) because this is the first Word doc of the week. That’ll be the next thing to get changed.

And yes, Mac heads, I know. If I had a Mac all of this transfer business would be seamless and entirely hassle-free blah blah blah. Rick Snyder spoke for all of you in our IM on Monday as I was complaining about the process:

 

IM with Rick 2

Just for the record, I have an iPhone (I’ve got the honking big one. I call it my “FAB-u-let”) as well as an iPad, so I’m aware of the awesomeness that is Apple. And the ease with which I could have (purportedly) ported everything over from iMac to iMac. But I actually like my new Dell. I find PCs easy, but when they’re not, that’s okay too. Usually.

Things that are easy rarely make us think. If everything transferred over in one huge chunk, would I be spending the time to look at how my files are organized? How I actually want to see my calendar and address book? Would I take a step back and say “okay, now that I know what I know about how I use and manage this stuff, what’s the best way to organize, view, and use it?” Would I? No way.

A brief comic aside

In case you haven’t seen them, there’s a company called Despair, Inc. that sells Demotivators, which are posters (and mugs, and calendars, and everything else) that are very cheeky riffs on those awful motivational posters from the 80s and 90s.

One of my favorite ones illustrates how ill-advised it can be to keep doing what we’re doing just because we’ve always been doing it that way. The poster’s got a point.

Now back to our regularly scheduled (computer) program

That being said, you definitely want to keep the stuff that works. I’m always interested in learning about (and stealing!) the short cuts and add-ins that other people use to make life easier, so I thought I’d share the things I did immediately to customize my browser. I use Firefox, but you can do many of these same things in other browsers.

  1. Set things up to dump things out. I’ve got no history, no cookies and no cache at this point and I want to keep it that way (within reason). I went into Tools/Options and went through every menu to set everything up the way I wanted. Like making sure that the tabs I had from today are still there when I boot up tomorrow morning.
  2. Pin tabs. There are 10 websites that I use every single day. Instead of typing in the urls or going to my bookmarks, it’s lots more efficient to have them load and be where they’re not taking up a lot of room. It’s one of my favorite things. Go to the top of the tab, right click and select ‘Pin Tab’. You’re welcome.
  3. Add frequently-used sites to the ribbon. For the sites I don’t use every single day, but frequently enough, I put them in the ribbon. I also put sites here that I use frequently but don’t want to ‘pin’ because they take a while to load or automatically play annoying ad videos. To add a site to the ribbon, highlight the url or grab the name in the tab and just drag the whole thing down to the ribbon and drop it there. If you don’t like the way it’s listed, just right-click it, go to ‘Properties’ and re-name it.
  4. Check out the lovely free Add-ons. Firefox allows for customizing your user experience. They’ve made a (largely free) marketplace available for us to download elegant (or clunky but workable) work-arounds. Two of my favorites are Awesome Screenshot (guess what that does?) and Ghostery, which tells you exactly what a website is tracking (or adding to your computer) when you visit it.
  5. Take a fresh (and very jaded) view of the apps, customizations, filing mechanisms, naming conventions, or whatever that have been bothering you. Or things that fall under the two week rule*. What can be dumped, updated or reconfigured? I rediscovered quite a few things that I’d added during a special project two years ago that I never use now. Buh bye.

I really wasn’t looking forward to doing this computer portage, but now that I’ve started it’s kind of re-energized my thinking about a lot of other things as well.

You don’t have to buy a new computer (or, to take it one step further, do a database conversion) to do something about the computer in your life. Being forced to make changes can be a good thing, but if you’re getting in a rut on Easy Street, maybe you should force yourself to do it. You don’t have to do the whole project at once. Just start small and set aside a certain time every week to chip away at it.

Happy Spring!

*So, the two week rule goes like this: If something is left in a spot in your home or office and it isn’t moved or dealt with within 14 days, you stop seeing it. First it becomes like a rock (heavy, grey, unmovable) and then it becomes an invisible object.

Becoming what they’re interested in

Chances are good that you didn’t watch the Superbowl for the game. Me neither – usually. My team was in it this year, which was cool, but like most people, I was there for the ads.  Budweiser puppy

In fact, seventy percent of us usually watch the Superbowl just to see the commercials – those clever and frequently serialized stories that (they hope) grab us and make us talk about them the next day as we’re standing around in a group waiting for the Keurig to spit out the last little bit of our morning brews. [Read more…]

BRICS are out the window; it’s MINT that’s growing now

Minted CaesarIt’s that rich time of year when you make a large pot of something hot to drink, grab a cookie or three, and settle down to read about the wealthy. The really really wealthy.

Out now are the Forbes Billionaires list (with a record 290 newcomers), and the 2015 Knight Frank Wealth Report, providing a global perspective on ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) and the variety of ways they hold assets.

If the collective wealth of these 172,850 UHNWIs – clocking in at nearly $21 trillion – was the fuel moving a private jet, the sonic boom would be so stratospheric that the astronauts in the international space station would be able to hear it. According to the K F report, an average of 15 people joined the ranks of the ultra-wealthy every day last year. But even that group doesn’t have money like some have money. K F say:

“Moving up the wealth brackets, nearly 1,180 people became centa-millionaires in 2014, taking the world’s total population of those worth over $100m to 38,280.” [Read more…]

Billions of Possibilities

This month, I’m delighted that HBG Senior Researcher Elizabeth Roma shares her insights on Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWI) and their potential to affect transformational change in the world through philanthropy. Elizabeth and Kenny Tavares have been studying the infrastructure and impact of HNW Family Offices, and she will present a session on the topic in June at the Mid-Atlantic Researchers Conference in Baltimore.  I hope you’ll be able to join her there!

Rockefeller

Do you want to hear something that will blow your mind?

In 2010 there were 388 billionaires whose combined wealth was equal to the combined wealth of the poorest 50% of the world’s population.

Amazing, right? But that’s nothing.

In 2014 there were 80 people whose combined wealth equaled that of the poorest 50%. According to a report from Oxfam, the wealth of those 80 people has doubled since 2009. If these trends continue, Oxfam predicts that the richest 1% will have more wealth than the remaining 99% by 2016 (yes, that’s next year).

Things are changing, and not necessarily for the better (at least not for those of us in the 99%). But does this have to be all bad news? [Read more…]

Coming Out (Again)

ResearchPride2

As you may recall, March is Prospect Research Pride Month.

It’s also Development Services Pride, Operations Pride, Relationship Management Pride, and Analytics Pride Month. It’s a time to celebrate each of us who work behind the scenes every day as part of Team Overhead to ensure our nonprofits’ fundraising successes.

Why?

Because there are still misguided folks out there who actually believe that the business of creating a better world can be done with donated chewing gum, dental floss and duct tape. MacGyver may have used that amalgam to fashion an escape from a sticky situation, but you never saw him pulling a million refugees over a border with them. [Read more…]

When I get in control of the world

Airplane cockpit

When faced with mindless bureaucracy, or an inefficient line at a commercial or government establishment, my mom was known to mutter, “When I get in control of the world…” and then she’d voice her solution. As a kid, her answer usually made sense to me. As a teen, I would sidle off pretending I didn’t know her. As an adult, I started hearing the exact same sentence coming out of my own mouth. When I get in control of the world…

Wouldn’t it be nice to be in control of the world sometimes and be able to change the stuff that doesn’t make any sense?
Like long lines at women’s bathrooms at events when the men’s line is empty, for example.

Or more seriously, things like… [Read more…]

Play well with others? Good for your bottom line!

Wordle

How good is your customer service? Here at HBG, we talk a lot about how we partner with our clients. I’ve noticed that our devotion to customer care flows over into the way we work together as a team, too. As HBG Operations Assistant extraordinare Alisa Morgan found out, it works the other way as well. Here’s what Alisa found out:

When someone mentions customer service, we immediately think of ourselves on the phone or in the store receiving some product or service in exchange for payment. “Did that rep greet me, take my order and solve my problem with a smile and a thank you?” [Read more…]

Corporate board perks: a proxy primer

AquariumToday I’d like to talk about executive compensation and the fun perquisites (“perks”) that make looking at a company’s proxy statement really interesting. Perks are those little extra somethings that make the financial lives of company executives and board members just a little bit easier. Like a shiny lure, perks attract the most talented ‘big fish’ and help retain them once they’re hooked.

Think of a proxy statement (aka the DEF 14A) as an aquarium of large and small moving objects that flash silver in the sunlight. Some things are easy to find, like annual compensation. Other things you need to look more carefully for as they glint in the weeds: like the perks. According to many sources (including this one and this one), corporate perks are on the wane. But they’re not extinct yet, and companies are very clever about the creative ways they compensate their executives. [Read more…]

Where in the world to find info about company insiders

foreign biz pressIt’s not only the United States government that requires publicly-held companies to publish information about their key insiders. When you’re trying to get information about corporate insiders around the world, it’s nice to know that many other countries require disclosure as well. Here’s a quick trip around the world with touchdowns in some key markets.

CANADA

Through the Sedar website, there are at least two forms you can use that report biographical and compensation information for officers and directors. Form 51-102F6 (“Named Executive Officers Compensation”) and the company’s proxy report each provide valuable information about company insiders. Do a quick search here, or visit the company’s website for more information.

UNITED KINGDOM

Besides the company website, Companies House and DueDil are the places to go for information about companies, both public and private, in the UK. For publicly-traded companies [Read more…]

Researching company insiders

NYSEWe may think of companies as nameless, faceless conglomerates, but the fact is that each one is run by a group of people known as company insiders. They are individuals whose responsibility it is to provide direction, advice, and the scary responsibility of strong-willed fiduciary duty if the company’s blue chips suddenly turn red.

These leaders may be called directors, trustees, or board members; the terms are used fairly interchangeably. [Read more…]