Volume 34 Number 7
|IWOC: The Premier Resource for Professional Writers
Our president’s column this month is an important one, so be sure to read it. It’s about protecting yourself from hackers, and David approaches it from a viewpoint that, frankly, never occurred to me. Many of us have clients whose data in our possession might be salable (by a hacker) to a rival company. (Previously, I just worried about someone’s cleaning out my bank account, and stuff like that.) Now I’d like to add a couple things to David’s remarks.
We probably all carry a laptop, notebook, etc., on the street or public transportation at least occasionally. If your device were stolen, could the thief just open it up and peruse your files to his/her heart’s content? Put a strong password on all your devices! Yes, it’s a tiny pain to have to type it in every time you use the blasted things, but it’s better than the alternative.
Also, most of us keep lists of our passwords; otherwise we’d never remember them if we’re not using the same ones for everything. You can put a password on your password file too. Do it.
So the July theme of the month is: Make All Your Devices Hack-Proof. Here’s your related quote:
“As a matter of fact, yeah, they were foolproof. The problem is that you don't have to protect yourself against fools. You have to protect yourself against people like me.”
― Jeffery Deaver, author of The Blue Nowhere, a novel about a hacker.
One more thing: Some issues back, I wrote a piece about Dashlane, a highly rated app that generates and manages passwords. I've reworked it and included the info again in this issue, since it seemed relevant. Check it out.
— The Editor
JULY MEETING PREVIEW
BACK TO BASICS: IMPROVE YOUR FREELANCE WRITING INCOME
At the July 14 meeting, IWOC member Diana Schneidman will lead a discussion on marketing dilemmas commonly faced by freelance writers who serve corporate clients.
She will share lessons she has learned over two-plus decades as a freelance writer specializing in the insurance and asset management industries. She will invite participants to share their own success advice and war stories.
Gain new perspectives on how to:
- Get more work fast
- Select and manage your niche
- Negotiate fees
- Structure payments to assure timely revenue
Diana Schneidman wrote Real Skills, Real Income: A Proven Marketing System to Land Well-Paid Freelance and Consulting Work in 30 Days or Less to help the unemployed, the underemployed, and current solo pros who under-earn to land more clients quickly. The book, available on Amazon, explains exactly what to do and say to start building a larger clientele in less than a month.
Diana helps people who want to land well-paid freelance and consulting work quickly. Her publishing and coaching practice is named Stand Up 8 Times after a Japanese proverb: Fall down seven times, stand up eight. She is also a freelance writer and researcher specializing in the insurance and asset management industries; past employers include Nationwide Insurance, Calamos Investments, and Caterpillar Investment Management Ltd.
The IWOC meeting will take place Tuesday, June 9, in Room 4F (4th floor) at the Gratz Center, 126 E. Chestnut St. / 115 E. Delaware, Chicago, just west of Michigan Ave., adjacent to Fourth Presbyterian Church. Discounted parking (after 5 p.m., with validation) is located at the 900 N. Michigan Ave. garage. Networking at 5 p.m. Main program, 6 p.m. IWOC members admitted free and do not need to register. Nonmembers, $15. ($10 if pre-registered at the IWOC website. Click on “June 9 IWOC Meeting.”) Following the meeting, attendees are invited to a nearby restaurant for a buy-your-own dinner to further discuss writing-related topics or to continue networking. For more information, call 800-804-IWOC (800-804-4962) or visit the IWOC website.
— Diana Schneidman
|JUNE MEETING RECAP|
BOB YOVOVICH ON INNOVATION AND
HOW IT INFLUENCES CONTENT WRITING
As a past member of IWOC, Bob Yovovich was delighted to be back at a meeting to talk about what he has been working on for the last few years. He has found that content is what clients want today. He mentioned some materials and references related to content that he uses frequently. He has found that the Content Marketing Institute is the leading source for content on the web. Other resources: Guy Kawasaki is a prolific writer who has a very useful book about writing books. Hinge Marketing also has an eBook about how to write a book. You will also be able to find these links on the IWOC website soon.
Yovovich highlighted the fact there has been a lot of change in technology, especially recently. Though technolgy has always had an impact on content, he thinks that the current technogical evolution in the “life of content” is more dramatic than ever before.
Yovovich explained that content is more than just text and copy. For example, he cited infographics, mixed media, and graphic novels as new additions to the shape of the landscape of communications.
These changes have raised some challenges to the way one gets compensated for content as well. He gave an analogy: In the 1940s and ‘50s, ballplayers could actually make a living playing Minor League baseball, but when TV began to air Major League baseball, that killed interest in the Minor Leagues. Similarly, traditional writing, especially for print, is becoming less popular, so it is losing out to higher-end types of content.
To add more context, Yovovich described how cold type, which came in as a new technology in the 1960s and ‘70s, changed the production of printed matter. Prior to the introduction of cold type, a publication had to have a huge circulation to make money. With cold type, publications like The Reader could be profitable, even to the point of giving things away. Flash forward to the Internet today where free content is widely available.
Yovovich remarked that Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, chose books as his initial online offering. Why books? First, Bezos believed that people who were readers would embrace new technology. Second, there are many, many books in print, but brick-and-mortar stores can only hold so many. Third, If you want a book, you want that book, not a book “like” that book. Finally, readers tend to be more affluent. Traditional bookstores were not meeting the needs of the market. But Amazon could really deliver what the people wanted.
Three or four years later, Google was launched and what Amazon did for books, Google did for content. Google provided people with the ability to find exactly the information they wanted, when they wanted it. Google is evolving as well. Because the Googlemeisters believe the death knell is sounding for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as a means of driving viewers to the most-used websites, Google now inserts links to accomplish the same purpose.
How can you use these technological transformations to benefit your own businesses? You need to use those links and “likes” on social media to increase referrals to your own content. When you write, think about how you can break your writing up into sections of content that are of large interest to a particular group. Then use those sections to link that group to those sections. If you’re writing a book, this technique will be good for the whole book overall.
Whether it’s a book, a blog, or something else, you need to connect with other like-minded people. Visit their sites and blogs and ask them to help you get out your information. So, even if you are writing a book about baseball players, look for ways to add material that might attract others who aren’t baseball fans. Add a section on your subject players’ favorite recipes, for example. Now maybe foodies are interested in reading the book. Use geography, recipes, and other topics to draw in readers.
What makes writing even tougher today is that content requirements and technology continue to evolve. What works today may not work a year from now. However, if you direct your communications and content to highly passionate, motivated individuals you can have them refer you to all your friends, increasing your links and referrals.
In this time of change, it is crucial to be constantly learning and educating. Writers’ can educate through their writing, so think about writing as education; teach people things they did not realize they needed to know.
If you weren’t able to attend, check out the podcast on the IWOC website.
— Cynthia Tomusiak
BEWARE! HACKERS WANT YOUR INFO & NAYBE YOUR CLIENT'S
There is so much news of computer network data breaches that we may be in danger of inaction. We think the problem is too far beyond us or too vast, but that is not true. We can be at risk from smaller data trespasses, and although it is not a hide-under-the-bed risk, it is a risk you should give thought to.
But, you say, we’re just writers, and how can little us be targets? I am not saying hackers will target us in preference to the computer networks of the Federal Office of Personnel Management, Anthem, or Sony. I am not saying our every move is monitored by the vast and shadowy They invoked to explain what we cannot define. But just because we work quietly in corners does not mean the information we possess is of little worth. If you disbelieve that statement, answer this simple question: Have you ever signed a contract with a non-disclosure clause? If you work on corporate reports or grants, you may have internal numbers that a competitor would love to see. If you write advertising copy you may have details about a company’s planned products and strategies. You need this information to do your job, but that information has value to the hacker who sweeps it up at a coffee shop along with Facebook posts and cat videos because you don’t have a secure connection through the coffee shop’s Wi-Fi.
Where do you start? Take simple precautions.
Make sure your e-mail uses a secure connection. The letters to look for in your account settings are SSL or TLS. In a browser address bar, watch for a padlock icon or the letters https at the beginning of an address. Major e-mail services are probably secure, but you never know, and it’s worth checking. I discovered my business website e-mail was probably not secure so I don’t use that system anymore.
Use one password per website. If your password is stolen from one company’s computers, other accounts with other companies (such as e-mail) will not be at risk. And use a password generator, or compose your own difficult passwords. It’s not hard. In an interview Edward Snowden suggested this example: MargaretThatcherIs110%Sexy. It’s an easily remembered phrase, yet the mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numerals, and symbols make this hard to crack.
Turn on two-factor authentication if it’s offered. This means you need two separate devices to access an account. For example, when I log in to Gmail from an unfamiliar location, Google texts a verification code to my phone, and I must enter that code in the browser on my laptop to complete the login. It’s an extra and bothersome step, but to successfully enter my account a thief must possess both my password information and my cell phone, and that’s not likely.
There is much more to learn, and I encourage you to do so, but this will get you started.
The thing is, we are encouraged in technological carelessness when applications do things for us. I am losing my habit of saving work to my hard disk every few minutes because some applications automatically save for me. My main writing tool, Scrivener, is set to save whenever the keyboard is idle for 10 seconds. Security is the same. It is often our human flaws that hackers exploit — such as the laziness or habit that causes people to use the word “password” as their password for everything. And the world is complicated. There is more to keep track of, more to pay attention to, but in the midst of this, please take time to look at basic security. Your clients may never thank you for this, but they also will never blame you if you do.
— David Steinkraus
ANN KEPLER: A REMEMBRANCE
I’ve been thinking lately about qualities that defined Ann. The most prominent that I came up with was her love for learning — anything and everything. She joked that the most important thing she learned in college was how to look things up. And she did it with a vengeance, first with reference books and later with her good friend: Google. She knew a lot, sometimes far more than was needed, about the Kardashians, fractals, hydroponic farming, monarch butterflies, the nutrient value of quinoa compared to chick peas, and the wives of Mickey Rooney. She could recite the lineages of the British, Russian, and German royal families and all their interrelationships. She retained an amazing amount of what she read.
Ann was the author of more than two dozen books, with subjects ranging from diabetes to metallurgy, lean thinking to buying a house. Her editorial projects often spanned years rather than weeks or months: an assessment of every piece of property owned by Cook County (more than twenty writers, engineers, Realtors, architects, designers, statisticians — all of whose work she pulled into a coherent whole and expressed in a single voice); municipal, county, state, national, and international funding sources for libraries throughout the country; a 900-page encyclopedic medical guide that required coordinating the work of multiple physicians, pharmacists; medical writers, and artists — all within a five-month period.
Ann was born in Indianapolis and grew up in Skokie, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati. Before high school graduation, she was advised by a counselor that she should be content with a C average when — if — she decided to go on to college. She graduated with honors and three degrees from The Ohio State University, where she was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. She wrote her Master’s thesis on “The Theme of Endurance in World War II Literature.” She and I met on campus at OSU. Ann started her long career in book publishing as dual series editor both for English and economics college textbooks for Charles Merrill Publishing while we still lived in Columbus.
After we moved to Chicago in 1974, Ann became publications director for Budlong Press, managing editor/medical group for Publications International, Ltd., and editor of Midwest Engineer magazine. Eventually she founded Kepler Associates, a writing and editing consultancy. She won numerous awards both for her writing and editing, chaired the board of trustees for the Evanston Public Library, served on the religious education board of the Unitarian Church of Evanston, was editorial consultant to the American Library Association, secretary of the Independent Writers of Chicago, member of Chicago Women in Publishing, and adjunct writing instructor for the American Management Association.
Tom and Lizzie and I are so grateful to all of you who wrote, visited, called, and offered your support and your love during Ann’s illness. We are very lucky to have you all in our lives. We were especially lucky to have had Ann. Thank you all.
— Jim Kepler
Note from Jim: We will celebrate the life of Ann Overtree Kepler on Sunday, July 19, at two o’clock at the Unitarian Church of Evanston. The church is located at 1330 Ridge Avenue in Evanston, one block north of Dempster Street. Parking is available behind the church to the west; enter from Greenwood Street. We hope you can join us.
— Jim, Tom, Lizzie, and Nora
DID YOU KNOW?
GO AHEAD: REPEAT YOURSELF; YES, REPEAT YOURSELF
If you want to add some oomph to your writing, consider the anaphora. Ana whatchahama? Anaphora (ah-NAF-oh-rah) is a literary device where the first part of a sentence is deliberately repeated to create an effect. One of the most well-known advertising jingles from the 1950s used anaphora quite successfully:
Brylcreem, a little dab'll do ya,
Brylcreem, you'll look so debonair!
Brylcreem, the gals'll all pursue ya!
They'll love to get their fingers in your hair.
Take these other examples:
Scripture: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. — Mark 5: 3-6 (the Beatitudes)
Song: Every breath you take/ Every move you make/ Every bond you break/ Every step you take/ I'll be watching you. — The Police, Every Move You Make
Politics: What we need in the United States is not division. What we need in the United States is not hatred. What we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness. — Robert Kennedy
Poetry: What the hammer?
what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil?
what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp? — William Blake, The Tyger
Fiction: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair... — Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Film: I don't like your sucking around, bothering our citizens, Lebowski. I don't like your jerk-off name. I don't like your jerk-off face. I don't like your jerk-off behavior, and I don't like you, jerk-off — Policeman, The Big Lebowski
— Katherine Mikkelson
HASSLE-FREE SOFTWARE YOU MAY NEED
GET ROBUST PASSWORD PROTECTION EFFORTLESSLY
Yikes! To be safe from hackers, I need a different password for every site I use? And I should change all these passwords monthly? No way, José. Who has time for that? Well, everybody, actually. There are numerous password management programs that will do this for you, and many of them are free. These programs allow you to store all your passwords and user-names in one file (password vault). You create an ultra-secure, shackled-to-the-max password that opens the vault, and presto! The program does the rest. One of the most highly rated password management programs is Dashlane.
With Dashlane, you have to remember only the master password, but you do have to remember that because Dashlane doesn’t know it.
Since I last wrote about Dashlane, they’ve added something wonderful: now Dashlane will automatically change your passwords monthly for the sites you specify. Read it and weep, you hackers.
Another cool feature of Dashlane is the digital wallet that records purchase receipts for all your online purchases, so you don’t have to store your credit card info on sites that might get hacked, say like Target. You can still use Express Checkout, automatic form fill-out, and other time-saving procedures.
Dashlane is free for one computer, but if you want to sync your cell, iPad, or other devices, it costs $39.95 per year. If you enable two-factor authentication, Dashlane will also text a manually entered code to your phone before your master password will unlock Dashlane’s vault. So you’re protected there too.
One caveat for iPhone or iPad users: Apple’s developer rules prevent Dashlane — or any other password manager — from working in the iosSafari browser. Dashlane gets around this with its own mini-browser, which you must open whenever you want to supply a password on an iPhone or iPad.
Overall, less than 40 bucks a year seems pretty cheap to protect all your devices, and if you’ve got only one it’s free. Now, if you’d just lock your garage, you can also keep your car, your power mower, and that extra housekey you've hidden under a flowerpot.
— Joen Kinnan
|Copyright © 2015 Independent Writers of Chicago. All rights reserved.
To submit an article, suggest a topic, make a correction, or just comment, contact the editor, Joen Kinnan, at: Stet.
Stet, the IWOC newsletter, is a member benefit.