OAKLAND -- "Good Morning America" technology contributor and Yahoo! News "Upgrade Your Life" columnist Becky Worley lives a turned-on, turned-off life in the Oakland hills.

Up at 3:30 a.m. to chitchat via Skype with GMA hosts about rope-less jump ropes or how to "go green and get green" by selling your old cell phone for cash, the East Bay tech guru and mother of 5-year-old twins is devoted to the great outdoors.

"We don't silo ourselves in technology," she says, in an interview from the home she shares with her children and partner, Jane Mitchell. "We live here because we want to walk dogs, play in parks, watch Cal rugby games, paddle-board on water. Life is looking out and being out: not looking down at a computer."

Worley has been neatly packaged by the media in a sound bite as "the Martha Stewart of technology." But she's more like a geeky hardware gal, whose affinity and affection for nuts and bolts -- in her case, Androids and apps -- is unsurpassed.

Her "Upgrade" videos are shot in her Montclair home. Identifying a problem, she cheerily spins her all-American sports gal energy (she grew up in Hawaii; played rugby enough to have had a half-dozen knee surgeries) into practical, easy-to-follow steps toward a solution.

"It's like a cyber cooking show," she says. "I make people feel they'll be able to cook that amazing beef bourguignon."

She avoids the gizmo gargle of engineer-speak and translates trendy marketing lingo into language even a digital dinosaur can comprehend. But it's not just the Internet-challenged who flock to her advice column and public speaking engagements. At a recent Commonwealth Club event at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center, Les Baker, retired president of tech support company Western Data Group, was in the front row.

"It's the simplicity of the things she gives up that I like," the 60-something electrical engineer said. "You can do them, even without a degree."

Worley says that's her purpose. And making it personal is everything. "Technology with people is awesome. Alone, it's isolating."

Worley says the rate of technological change is "outrageous," but she's grateful because jobs like hers didn't even exist just 10 years ago.

"Twenty-five years after computers were modernized, we now think of them as appliances," she says. "We have high expectations for ease of use, but patience for difficulty has gone down. People need someone who can tell them how to use the technology."

Her favorite new "accessible-everywhere" toys are low-energy Bluetooth accessories. She likes a key fob that can run for a year on a button battery and will force a smartphone to emit a signal.

"You'll never lose your keys again," she promises.

Passwords are a huge topic, and Worley has advice about padding. Long passwords using common terms like "dog" and loaded with repeating symbols like ")*)*)" or ":{_:{_" are the toughest for hackers to crack and easiest for consumers to remember, she says.

She's thumbs-down on using Windows 8 without a touch-enabled screen. ("It's like coating yourself with honey and inviting ants over," she warns). Nor is she a fan of 3-D printing for the home user, $20,000 4-K TV's, cell phone carriers with "ridiculously expensive" data plans and parents who use an iPad like it's a surrogate.

"Barriers and boundaries are crucial," she says. "I'm not down for taking on work as my god. I have to remind myself a lot: When I'm playing, just go play. Stop looking at your phone."

But to survive in the digital world, where job interviews, bill payments, family archiving, home security, commercial transactions and education are increasingly online, Worley recommends practicing like an athlete."Mastering social media is critical. Not just being efficient as a lurker, but as a contributor. Start as a utility player. Find a helpful hint that makes your life better and share it," she suggests.

Following her own advice, she says she's keeping her eye on wearable computing devices, like glasses and watches, and eye-tracking technology that allows your eye (instead of a mouse) to move a cursor.

"It made manipulating so much easier and typing on my phone so much faster. Like voice recognition, it's the beginning of bringing mobile gadgets forward."

FYI
To catch Becky Worley's Yahoo! News videos, visit http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/upgrade-your-life