A Free App Bringing Sight to the Blind and Visually Impaired

226541_2066754712732_918981_aMaking a big difference in someone’s life can be as easy as pulling out your smart phone for a few minutes every day. Really! A not-for-profit app makes life easier for those with vision problems by connecting them with sighted helpers through a smartphone app. Be My Eyes allows the blind to handle big and small tasks, while sighted volunteers get the joy of helping someone else in an easy and informal way at their convenience.

Be My Eyes harnesses the power of technology and generosity to connect visually impaired users with sighted volunteers through a live video connection. Volunteers lend their eyes to assist visually impaired users with a wide range of tasks, both large and small. For example:

  • Matching colors and clothing
  • Distinguishing between household or kitchen products; cans, cleaning products, shampoo, etc.
  • Determining departure or arrival of public transportation
  • Navigating in unfamiliar surroundings

The app is available for Android and Apple products. The Be My Eyes community is growing with more than 900,000 users across 150 countries helped by hundreds of thousands of sighted volunteers. Microsoft has also joined the effort offering Be My Eyes users a direct connection to receive technical assistance from the Disability Answer Desk, a free consumer service for Microsoft’s customers with disabilities.

This video demonstrates how Be My Eyes works.

Want to learn more about lending your eyes and stay connected with this awesome app? Be My Eyes is on Twitter and Facebook. Plus you should check out the website at http://www.bemyeyes.org/. Please consider following me on Twitter too.

Check out this great way to help visually impaired people

Check out this great way to help visually impaired people

Blue Light Week Idea to Support Law Enforcement Goes Viral

The Christmas lights may be coming down in some neighborhoods to be replaced with a blue hue as 2015 arrives. David Jessup is leading a social media campaign to support law enforcement with blue colored light bulbs.

The Virginia man says recent events across the nation gave him the idea, “There is a lot of disrespect toward law enforcement, especially now and I think it’s important for our younger generation to understand and respect law.”

The Facebook page for Blue Light Week asks people to replace their porch lights or holiday displays with blue bulbs: “Replace your porch light with a blue light bulb for 1 week to honor all police officers that have fallen in the line of duty. These brave men and women have sacrificed everything for us so let’s show our support.”

The idea has gone viral as many people like the opportunity to show support without marching and protesting. Other social media users on the Facebook page say blue is also a color associated with peace and is a good choice for the times.

A former police officer, Jessup says many officers make the ultimate sacrifice and that’s what this blue light week is about. He hopes the week will become an annual observance. This is a link to one of many videos on the new effort:  http://bcove.me/80040yfh

Blue Light Week idea goes viral across nation

Blue Light Week idea goes viral across nation

A Yellow Ribbon on a Dog’s Leash Sends an Important Message

389711_574482065925784_1337248708_nHave you seen dogs with a yellow ribbon tied to their leash or a yellow leash with “nervous” embroidered on it? These are two ways dog owners are signaling the pet at the end of the leash needs extra room.

These are not necessarily dangerous animals. There are many reasons an owner may need extra space; the pet could be convalescing. The dog could be in training and needs extra space in order to concentrate on the new behaviors. The yellow ribbon or halter could signify a nervous and uncomfortable dog with strange people and animals.

Of course it’s always good to ask permission before petting someone’s dog—yellow ribbon or not. Doing so is just one way to help prevent some of the estimated 4.5 million dog bites that happen every year in the United States.

The Yellow Dog Project is using Facebook and other social media to spread the word that a dog sporting a yellow ribbon, harness or kerchief may not be safe to approach and should be left alone.

This video demonstrates how a yellow ribbon helps one dog recovering from terrible abuse:

A yellow ribbon on a dog leash sends an important message

A yellow ribbon on a dog leash sends an important message

A Day for Those Who Build America and Keep it Strong

There is “Talk Like a Pirate Day”, “Cheeseburger Day” and all sorts of observances that are a lot of fun and without a serious message.  But National Tradesmen Day is an annual national celebration to honor the men and women who work with their hands to build America and keep it running strong.

 It is an observance dear to my heart.  Both my father and his father were craftsmen.  Carpenters who worked out of a union hall at a time when there were not many tradespeople represented by unions in the Deep South.  They spent years in apprentice and training to perfect their skills for the wide variety jobs they completed.  I remember Sunday afternoon family drives after church, where my father would point with pride to a skyscraper or school he helped build.  It could be a bridge or a courthouse he had contributed to.  My father and grandfather knew how to build concrete forms or do intricate finishes.  Designers using exotic and expensive woods used in boardrooms or courtrooms knew my Dad could make the cuts and trim out their projects to their specifications. It was a point of pride for him to show off his work to his children.

I believe America’s tradespeople build our homes, roads, businesses, and schools. They keep our cars running, our lights on, our water flowing, and so much more. They are the backbone of our functioning nation IRWIN® Tools; a manufacturer of hand tools and power tool accessories has been honoring them for years with celebrations, recognition events and activities throughout the country

Friday, September 20, 2013 is National Tradesmen Day.  It also puts a spotlight on a problem in our nation—one caused by a shortage of people willing to work with their hands. Manpower’s recent talent shortage survey reports that for the fourth consecutive year, skilled trades are the most difficult jobs to fill in the United States. The American Society of Civil Engineers says America’s roads and bridges are in disrepair, assigning a D+ grade to America’s overall infrastructure. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate continues to hover at historically high levels while a critical need for skilled tradesmen exists. Some believe not only does our nation have a jobs problem; America has a skills shortage.

At one time, ironworkers and welders were glorified. Photographs of tradesmen eating an open-air lunch on a girder high atop a yet-to-be completed skyscraper take us back to a very different world—one where working with your hands was a dignified way to earn a living. Today, a four-year degree and a desk job are considered the keys to a desirable lifestyle. Most high schools eliminated shop class years ago, and now only six percent of high school seniors consider a career in the trades. The National Association of Manufacturing, The National Center for Career Education and Research and several other business organizations believe more schools should teach students some trades offer challenging careers where they can often out-earn their college educated peers. 

 “It’s time that we once again present the trades as a respectable career option for the next generation. Becoming a trained plumber, electrician, or welder offers a clear and stable career path where working with your hands allows you to contribute meaningfully to our society,” says Rich Mathews, Senior Vice President of Marketing for IRWIN Tools.

There are an estimated 600,000 open jobs in the skilled trades, simply because people don’t have the proper training to fill the positions.  Many business leaders say they believe our nation is not only facing a job shortage, but a skills shortage.

Today is a day to recognize the people who lace up boots each morning before heading to the jobsite. Many of them have spent as much or more time learning their craft than workers who grab a tie and head to a high-rise office.  Recognize the contributions the trades make in your life. If you go onto a job site, or anywhere you see a skilled laborer working such as a drywall or electrician, carpenter and simply shake his or her hand and say “thanks for the work that you do.”

To learn more the annual observance head to http://www.irwin.com/nationaltradesmenday or find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/nationaltradesmenday


Social Media Savvy Seniors and Boomers Busy Online


People are discussing photos they share on Pinterest, the blog on their travels or the app they are using to track their fitness and exercise schedule.  These conversations on technology are not restricted to the local social media clubs; they are hot topics for senior services communities like Laclede Groves near Saint Louis and coffee shops where baby boomers meet.

Social media savvy seniors and boomers are busy online.

Vibrant seniors and boomers are blogging and using Facebook, Twitter and Skype to keep up with families and friends. Social media savvy seniors and boomers may also be boosting brain power new research suggests.

Vibrant seniors and boomers are blogging and using Facebook, Twitter and Skype to keep up with families and friends.  Social media savvy seniors and boomers may not be the first to try the newest app or gadget; but are eager to adopt them once the technology is mainstream.  Older users on social media are active to discuss and share travel, health, hobbies or search for products, values, and discounts.  The social and digital contribution of these connected seniors is impressive! Baby Boomers are 80 million strong and growing.

In just five years, 50% of the US population will be 50+ projects Nielsen Research. (August 2012)

US Boomers’ Internet usage now is impressive:

– 33% of all online users

– 33% of all social media and Twitter

– 33% are heavy internet users.

Currently, there are about 21 million online seniors (those aged over 65 years old) in the United States according to Forrester Research, (June 2012).

Forrester finds 49% of digital seniors in the US are using Facebook.

– 91% of online seniors use email

– 59% have purchased products online in past three months

– 46% send/receive photos by email

– 44% play solo games online

– 24% sign up for coupons/freebies.

Staying connected online and through social media may be a great way for seniors to stay healthy. One recent study shows social media can give older adults a brain boost.  Researchers at the University of Arizona taught some seniors, over 65, how to use Facebook and then put them through cognitive and memory tests.  The new Facebook users fared 25 percent better on the tests than seniors who did not use the social network.

Boomers were raised in front of the TV and have always embraced media and technology. The size of the screens is now shrinking as they continue to grow with a constantly changing tech landscape that could help keep them young and connected for socializing, shopping and entertaining themselves on social media.

To see some of these savvy seniors in action on Facebook, I suggest you visit the Lutheran Senior Services page on Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/LutheranSeniorServices.

Frostbox’s Business Proposition: Your Social Media Biographer

ImageHow much time do you spend on social networks?   Are you backing up all those photos, videos, documents, and links?  Those awesome Facebook snapshots of your childhood friends or the Flickr photos of your kids that always make you smile could be lost.  Your entire online network of colleagues and clients along with the proposal you spent all weekend working on could be lost due to a computer virus, hackers, or fat fingers.  Scary thought, huh?  One start-up business is offering a one-stop back-up for your personal social media data.  A cloud platform, Frostbox, has sights set on becoming the Dropbox of social media.

The business plan also has a significant social media component as Frostbox offers a stake to social media users — but only those with Klout scores of 60 and above.  I first heard about the innovative marketing approach via Todd Wasserman’s post.  It seems standard campaigns are open those with scores of 45 or more, this plan is a social experiment with Klout to document the growth of a single company when people with high influence have a vested interest in its success.  What do you think?  Will you invest some social influence in this start-up?  It could translate into “points” rather than direct equity in Frostbox or perhaps gifts like an iPad Mini for  participating in this social experiment.


Small Business Tip: McAfee to Launch New Online Support Community

Small business owners and entrepreneurs will soon have the opportunity to link online with the world’s largest dedicated security technology company. 
blogpainMcAfee is working to launch an online support community so users can interact with each other to share ideas, discuss emerging trends and help resolve problems.  McAfee technicians, developers and product managers will be able to engage customers in new ways to enhance products and improve processes according to a media release.

Barry McPherson, executive vice president of worldwide support and services at McAfee, said the online community “will enable us to evolve beyond traditional phone and e-mail based services and focus more on collaboration with our customers through discussions, blogs, wikis, user groups and community polling.”

McAfee already monitors Twitter and Facebook. The online community, which will launch in the fourth quarter, will run on Jive’s social business software platform. Please follow me on Twitter to learn more about small business trends and events to give you a competitive edge in business at http://twitter.com/danitablackwood   To learn more about vital technology issues impacting your enterprise; head to http://www.sbtv.com/Technology