Illustration by Krieg Barrie

Higher profiles

Lifestyle/Technology | Users of Google Buzz and Facebook may be surprised at how public their information is

Issue: "Fighting poverty," March 13, 2010

Blogs are buzzing about Google Buzz, a social networking app that works inside Gmail. Many bloggers, including those at Lifehacker, worried about a potential privacy flaw. Apparently, unless users change their settings, Buzz posts to a public profile the names of the contacts you most frequently email.

If you plan to use Buzz and don't want your network of frequent contacts visible to everyone, you need to take action. Go to lifehacker.com/5469388/stop-google-buzz-from-showing-the-world-your-contacts? for help. Or you can do what I did: Go to the very bottom of your Gmail page and turn off Buzz. It might not be the most tech-savvy approach, but it is an easy one.

Facebook users, if you haven't gotten around to reviewing your privacy settings since December, you'll want to do it now. Facebook made many changes that affect privacy, including setting the defaults to "everyone" unless you go in and tighten your settings. If you don't want the whole world to see your pictures, updates, profile information, and videos, you should for once take the advice of The New York Times.

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A Times article, "The 3 Facebook Settings Every User Should Check Now," suggests that you go to account settings (found on the far top right on the new homepage). Choose privacy from the scroll-down menu. Go to profile information, which includes the most important settings to correct. They determine who can see stuff about you-and it is those settings that Facebook sets to "everyone" unless you change them.

Remember that "friends of friends" sounds nice, but it means if you have a friend who has a million friends, every one of those strangers will have access to your Facebook stuff.

Brand busters

By Susan Olasky

The recession hasn't hurt all business. According to a Nielsen survey, Americans are saving money by buying more store brand products. Buyers no longer have to be convinced that private label food, drug, and grocery items are as good as the national brands: 80 percent think so. That makes sense because many store brand products are produced by the same companies that make national brands. Sales of private label wine are also increasing, but beer drinkers seem to be loyal to the big national brands and their heavyweight marketing dollars.

Memory aids

By Susan Olasky

Do you need help memorizing Scripture? MemorizeNow.com is a website where you can paste in a passage and then use tools that aid memorization. You can, for instance, see the text with all the words displayed. With a click you can change the setting so only first letters are displayed. Or, from the full text page, you can click and make some words disappear. Scroll over the space where the missing word belongs and the first letter of the missing word appears.

Recommendations: Couple this useful tool with text copied from one of the online Bibles. (See the English Standard Version at gnpcb.org/esv/ or other translations at biblegateway.com.) Get lists of helpful verses to memorize from John Piper's Bethlehem Baptist Church, which has a "Fighter Verse" program that encourages Bible memorization by the whole church. See the 2010 list of verses and sets of verses from previous years at hopeingod.org/resources/scripture-memory/fighter-verse-program.

If memorizing isn't enough, you can make cool artwork based on a passage, a poem, or any text you want. Wordle.net is a free website that makes word clouds from text you paste in. You can choose whether you want the words displayed vertically or horizontally, or in combination. You can choose colors and fonts. Frequently used words display larger than other words. Finished word clouds can be saved and printed out.

Susan Olasky
Susan Olasky

Susan pens book reviews and other articles for WORLD as a senior writer and has authored eight historical novels for children. Susan and her husband Marvin live in Asheville, N.C. Follow Susan on Twitter @susanolasky.


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