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In my Times column Thursday, I mentioned that there’s no core curriculum for technology. Nobody teaches you the basics. You just pick stuff up as you go along.
The Times’s technology columnist, David Pogue, keeps you on top of the industry in his free, weekly e-mail newsletter.
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As a result, everybody, even experts, winds up with knowledge holes—things everybody thinks everybody else knows about the basics of consumer electronics.
When I started writing down the ones I figured everybody should know, my column was twice as long as it’s supposed to be. But hey—on the Web, nobody can hear you exceed your word count. I lopped out half of them and saved them for this e-newsletter.
Think of it as “Today’s Pogue Column (Cont’d).”
*Especially if you’re a beginner (or an expert), it’s frequently useful to capture the image of what’s on the screen — an error message or diagram, for example.
*In Windows, PrintScreen key copies the whole screen image, as a graphic, onto your invisible Clipboard, so you can paste into an e-mail message or any other program (“This is what I’m seeing! What do I do now?!”). If you add the Alt key, you copy only the front window.
*On the Mac, press Command-Shift-3. (Command is the key with the propeller on it, next to the Space bar.) You hear a snapshot sound, and you get a graphics file on your desktop—a picture of the entire screen image.
*If you press Command-Shift-4 instead, you get a crosshair cursor; you can draw across just one portion of the screen. Or, if you now tap the Space bar, you turn the cursor into a little camera icon. You can now click on just one window or toolbar that you want to copy.
*In both cases, you can hold down the Control key to copy the image to the Clipboard instead of leaving a file on the hard drive.
* If you get a message from your bank or eBay about a problem with your account, it’s probably a “phishing” scam. It’s a fake, designed to lure you into typing your name and password so the bad guys can have it. Delete it. If you’re concerned, visit the institution’s Web site in your browser by typing in its address (like Citibank.com) — not by clicking the link in e-mail.
* Before you pass on any amazing item you get by e-mail—Obama’s a Muslim, the bubble boy wants greeting cards, the Nieman-Marcus $400 cookie recipe — first check it out at Snopes.com, the world clearinghouse for Internet scams and rumors.
* If a blue underlined link shows up in an e-mail message, you can mouse over it without clicking to see what Web site it plans to open.
* If you get a message from someone you know that relates a horror story about being mugged in England (and needing you to wire money immediately), delete it. It’s a popular scam — even if it’s the correct e-mail address of someone you know.
* File too big to send by e-mail? Then use yousendit.com or transferbigfiles.com. You can transmit huge files, using the site as a free intermediary parking space.
* On your keyboard, there’s a difference between the Backspace and Del keys. Press Backspace to delete the typed character to the left of the blinking insertion-point cursor, as usual. Pressing Del, however, removes the character to its right.
* In Microsoft Word, when you paste in text from another document—say, a Web site — you may not want all the boldface, colors, fonts and other formatting from the original source. Instead of using the regular Paste command, in that case, open the Edit menu and click Paste Special. Click Unformatted Text. You’ll get just the text, without the fanciness.
* You can magnify the iPhone’s screen, for ease in reading tiny type, by double-tapping with three fingers. Then pan around by dragging with three fingers.
Of course, you first have to turn this feature on. Do that by tapping Settings, then General, then Accessibility. (On the same screen, you’ll find an option to make the text bigger in the built-in iPhone programs, which is handy in its own way.)
* Has your iPhone screen image suddenly become mysteriously enlarged? There’s nothing quite as alarming as seeing jumbo text and graphics, and nothing restores the phone to the way it’s supposed to be.
I can’t tell you how many people trek off to the Apple Store to get their “broken” iPhones fixed. Of course, the real problem is that you’ve accidentally turned on screen zooming (described in the previous tip). Double-tap with three fingers to restore the screen magnification.
* When your phone starts ringing, you can silence it quickly by pressing any key on the sides. (It’s still ringing — you can either answer it or let it go to voicemail — but at least you’ve cut the sound.) That’s good to remember when you’re someplace where phone silence is golden: for example, at a concert, in surgery or in church.
*Don’t reach for the mouse to go back to the previous Web page. Just tap the Backspace key. (Alt+left-arrow key also works for Back, and Alt+right-arrow for Forward. In this article, if you have a Mac, substitute the Option key for Alt.)
* After you type a word or phrase into a Search box, don’t click the Search button. Just press the Enter key.
(The Enter key also works to click “Go” after you’ve typed an address, or the highlighted button, like “O.K.” or “Print,” in most dialog boxes. Yes, there are people who don’t realize that.)
* On brand-name Web sites (eBay, Facebook, Amazon and so on), click the upper-left logo to return to the site’s home page.
* At translate.google.com, you can choose languages you want to translate from and to. Then you paste in some copied text (or the address of a Web site). In a flash, the text is translated — roughly, to be sure, but at no charge.
* Who needs a dictionary? In the Google search box, type “define schadenfreude” (or whatever the word is). Press Enter.
* The Esc key (top left of the keyboard) means, “close this” or “cancel this.” It can close a menu or a dialog box, for example.
* You can duplicate a file icon (instead of moving it) if you press the Alt key as you drag it out of its window.
* You can switch among open programs by pressing Alt+Tab (or Command-Tab on the Mac). On the Mac, the much less known Command-tilde (the ~ key, upper left corner) switches among windows in a single program.
* Anything you can print, you can turn into a PDF document — an amazingly convenient feature. Choose the Print command — but instead of choosing Print, click the PDF pop-up menu and choose Save as PDF.
* It’s often very useful to have a document, Web page or e-mail message read aloud to you — to “proof-listen” to it, for example, or just to listen to an article while you’re getting dressed in the morning. In the Speech pane of System Preferences, turn on “Speak selected text.” Click Set Key to choose a key combination. Pressing it makes the Mac read anything on the screen, at the rate, and in the character voice, that you’ve specified.
Three years ago, I posted a similar batch of tricks and tips on my blog, here. Then, as now, I invite you to expand the collection by posting your best “what every beginner — and expert — ought to know” tips in the Comments below!
I love computers! I love the Internet! I am also a Baby Boomer. Sometimes the 3 don’t dance well together; however, I have yet to blow up my computer as I learn by experience about this ever-changing world of technology. So, this admitted gadget junkie (the nice name is early adopter) and travel advisor now admits I know very little about the “how to’s” and shortcuts that can turn a computer experience from the ridiculous to the sublime.
David Pogue, the tech guru I follow in the New York Times just published these helpful hints. Who knew?
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|Barbara King of Great Getaways Travel never lets anyone forget her agency’s Kansas roots. “We are most definitely Kansans who ‘Can Do!’” she says. “We are ‘The Little Engine that Could!’”|
Few things in Kansas City are more revered than great barbecue. So, when Barbara King, president of Great Getaways Travel, based in the “BBQ Capital of the World,” tells us where to head for the best ribs and beef brisket in town, we listen. “Let me give you a bit of insider information,” King says in a hushed tone, as if to not let just anyone in on it. “Oklahoma Joe’s is the place.”
Armed with that intelligence—not to mention a voracious appetite—we quickly understand why King is known as one of the best luxury travel advisors going. Most luxury travel advisors can tick off the top hotels, restaurants and attractions in any far-flung destination—but it’s the insider local tidbits that really set apart the greats.
Not surprisingly, King’s love of travel was formed at an early age. “My dad was an importer,” she says, and, as such, traveled frequently around the world. Though King wasn’t able to accompany him on these business trips, her father made sure that vacations were aplenty.
“I’d been to places like Florida several times even before first grade,” says King, who grew up in Chicagobut has lived in Kansas City for close to 40 years. She also had a worldly sense at a very young age. King learned to use chopsticks by picking dimes off the kitchen table and counting to 10 in Japanese each time she snagged one. The family dog, a French poodle, too had a Japanese name. “My father had many Asian guests over, so he’d want to make them feel comfortable.”
Before joining the travel advisor ranks, King worked in real estate, a profession that, similar to selling travel, requires a keen sense of understanding and industry insight. Ultimately King realized that selling travel, not homes, was her true calling. A friend of King, in the early 1990s, said to her: “You always talk about travel; why don’t you work in it?” Indeed, whenever King had a moment of free time, she was traveling—whether by herself or with someone else.
Confidence is Key
One thing you have to know about King is she is unabashedly egoistic. “Like the Pope has religion,” she likes to say. In 1992, an opportunity presented itself: an agency was for sale in Kansas City. “I thought: [If] I can sell real estate, I can sell travel,” King says.
She bought what at the time was Fox Hill Travel and promptly rebranded it Great Getaways Travel. She then made one of many wise decisions. “The agency was in the back corner of an office building and on a month-to-month lease,” King says. She moved the agency to an upscale strip mall in the affluent Kansas City suburb of Leawood, KS, then 10 years later moved again, this time to a one-story office building about a mile away. “In 1992, we thrived on walk-ins,” she says. “By 2002, we had an established clientele and no longer sought the walk-in traffic.”
From the get-go, King was only interested in selling high-end FIT travel, eschewing corporate travel, which raised eyebrows, particularly from independent contractors who rented space from her. “I said, ‘Here, you take it,” she says. “Looking back it was a brilliant move, but at the time people thought I was crazy.”
Crazy as a fox. While everyone told her to sell what people want, she went the other way. “I wanted to sell what I wanted to sell and educate the people on the product,” King says. “That kind of flies in the face of good business.”
It’s worked—with revenues reaching $5 million in 2010 and expectations to beat that this year.
Today King has a total staff of 11 (five full-time advisors, two support staff, one marketing person and three independent contractors) and has cultivated a nice mix of affluent clients, particularly in the Plains states (more than half of her business comes from Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska). But she also has international clients from such countries as China and, oddly, Uzbekistan (he wanted to book a trip to Hawaii and found information on Judi Chaitman, Great Getaways’ vice president and general manager, and Hawaii specialist).
One thing King knows is how to sell luxury. “When I think luxury, I don’t think of it in terms of dollars,” she says. “I think of it in terms of the luxury of experience. We do not focus on luxury if you define it as excessive pampering for the often-flamboyant ego-driven consumer.” For the agency’s 15th anniversary, each attendee was given a framed print of a door that had been photographed from somewhere in the world. Underneath the inscription read: “At Great Getaways, we open the door to the luxury of experience.”
More specifically, King didn’t get into the business to just sell the high-ticket items. “Taking over an entire floor of The Ritz Paris or throwing an elaborate multimillion-dollar birthday party in Morocco is not our specialty,” she says. “Our specialty is delivering the most experiential vacation that exceeds our clients’ expectations, while offering consistent value for every dollar invested.”
Toward that, Great Getaways prides itself on customizing their clients’ experiences with dinners, walking tours, sightseeing, theater and interaction with specialists who live and work at the selected destination.
That’s not to say Great Getaways doesn’t put together a plentitude of over-the-top itineraries. One such involved Europe and southern Africa. “The client wanted an unforgettable anniversary journey,” King says. The trip got kick-started in Paris where the couple visited Hermès to buy a scarf (a tradition that began on their honeymoon). From Paris, the couple flew to Johannesburg for two nights at the Saxon. From there, it was off to Botswana and a stay at safari camp Vumbura Plains within the Okavanga Delta. “We asked that all accommodations be at the end of the safari camps in order to provide privacy for the ‘renew-a-moon,’” King says. “We surprised the couple with a romantic, private butler dinner on the night of their anniversary. The camp provided a candlelight setting on the lanai and had the plunge pool outlined in candles with rose petals scattered in the water.”
The three-week trip continued at safari camps throughout Botswana—a stop in Zambia, including a personalized tour of Victoria Falls—and culminated in Mauritius with a stay at the Oberoi Mauritius and a surprise dinner arranged by Great Getaways at the hotel restaurant.
In the Know
King also maintains a stout Rolodex of top-end luxury contacts. David Morgan-Hewitt, managing director of The Goring in London, is at her fingertips, as is Heidi Denecke, senior sales manager at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. King also says that a third of her hotel reservations are Four Seasons properties. “It is the consistency of our business that has forged these relationships,” she says.
“We are confident of our abilities and operate by the theory of ‘plenty’ versus ‘scarcity,’” she says. “We won’t appeal to every person desiring a vacation and we don’t want to. We are comfortable telling clients when to ‘do it themselves’ and when to use our services.”
Her affiliation with Virtuoso (Great Getaways is the only Kansas City-based Virtuoso agency) since 1996 has helped her generate more luxury sales. “It’s been a boon to my business,” she says. To create exceptional experiences for her clients, she is adroit at using Virtuoso’s on-sites and preferred suppliers.
|King Is A Big Supporter Of Americashare. Here, she is pictured with a young man named Salim, in Nairobi, in 2010.|
With a rather small staff, being nimble and creative is key to Great Getaways’ success. “We’re very small but mighty,” King says of her in-house staff of eight and three ICs. You can bet that Great Getaways will not ever become a monolithic travel agency; King doesn’t want to. “I’ve made the decision to stay boutique,” she says. “We will never be huge.” One employee she had to hire, however, was her husband, Michael, who joined Great Getaways in 2004. “His line is, ‘I’ve got the best job in the world; I can go home and sleep with the boss!’”
Social Media Move
One easy way Great Getaways looks to up its profile is through social media and blogging. Like most parents, King’s entry into the realm of social media was more about snooping than business. She admits that “while hacking into my son’s Facebook account may have been my original impetus, I have taken to this mode of communication like a second skin. Social media allows me and encourages me to be real—to share my views and use my quirky sense of humor with the goal of igniting and enhancing someone’s passion to explore the world.”
While monetizing sites such as Facebook is still preliminary, King has chalked up luxury sales to it. “We had a person who was already signed up for a Virgin Galactic flight,” King says. “He noticed that I had posted on Facebook that Neil Armstrong was going to be a featured guest on a Lindblad Expeditions cruise to Antarctica. He said, ‘Wow, I’m going into space, I have to meet Neil Armstrong.’ So, because we love Antarctica and posted about it, we sold a $60,000 trip.”
King cut her teeth on Facebook before moving on to Twitter and blogs. You can read all about her journeys and experiences at Great Getaways’ website, travelingking.net or at spacegoddess.net under the blog name “Space Goddess and Other Worldly Pursuits”(King was chosen in 2006 to be one of the original Virtuoso accredited space agents, hence the blog handle).
|At Victoria Falls, in Livingstone, Zambia, in 2008, with husband Michael.|
King is an employee’s dream: so into social media, she orders her staff to keep their Facebook pages open at work. “They are like, ‘You want us to do what?’” says King, who also uses the site animoto.com to create travel videos and slideshows (her latest project is developing video biographies of the agency’s travel advisors). Many Virtuoso members have also approached her for social media advice and tidbits. “I think there are some people of my generation who are intimidated by social media,” says baby boomer King. “There’s no need to be. There’s nothing you can press on your keyboard that’s going to make Facebook or Twitter blow up.”
As much as Great Getaways does in the luxury sector, it still feels a bit like the late Rodney Dangerfield: “No respect.” King is quick to defend her agency’s location and grouses over those who call Kansas and Missouri mere fly-over states. “People need to know that there is life between the two coasts,” she says.
|Barbara And Michael at the Great Wall of China in 2008.|
To make it clear, at last year’s Virtuoso Travel Mart, King and her husband appeared at the closing dinner, where the theme was to come dressed as a culture you admired, donning Dorothy and the Lion costumes from The Wizard of Oz. “People came dressed in saris and Far Eastern garb,” she says, acknowledging that everyone at the dinner got a kick out of their attire. “We wanted to drive home the point that where we come from counts.”
Great Getaways continues to chug along turning vacation itineraries into life-changing moments. “We want to create memories to tuck into your heart,” King says. “There is nothing like a memory and, unlike a new car, you can’t break it.”