Author Archives: Sarah Watts

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How to improve your confidence by avoiding procrastination

Self-confidence

Being a person with an intact, conventional value system, your level of confidence is directly proportional to your level of productivity. The more productive you are, the more effective you are at your dealings with life, career and interpersonal relationships, the more confident you feel. Inversely, if you are not productive, if you are less productive than your true potential, then your confidence takes a hit. On the path of productivity, there are avoidable and unavoidable hurdles. Procrastination is one of those avoidable hurdles.

Procrastination wasn’t used to be such a great problem when there were fewer distractions. If you work on a computer (who doesn’t these days?) in order to achieve one task, you have to sidestep 20 distractions. In order to get distracted these distractions don’t have to be irresistible. The moment you feel bored, the moment you feel stuck at your work, the moment you come across some difficulty, you immediately want to do something achievable, something easier, something less formidable, and hence, procrastination crops up.

Procrastination means postponing tedious, boring, but unavoidable work. For instance, you’re working on a project but it’s going to be real hard work and you aren’t exactly crazy about the whole thing. But the project is necessary because it will get you good money. Now that you have taken up the work, turning it down will not only cause you financial harm, it will also dent your professional reputation. You’re completely aware of this. Still, you keep on indulging in things that are totally unrelated to this project. Maybe you’re repeatedly checking Facebook updates. Maybe you are suddenly becoming aware of the lopsided political opinion around you and you are voicing your rage on Twitter. Whatever, you are doing everything but your work. Since you know how crucial the work is and still you’re not doing it and you also know that you’re getting distracted, this fact begins to hit your confidence. If you can avoid procrastination, you can complete your project, and if you complete your project, your confidence gets a boost. How can you achieve that? You can do the following:

  • Create a barrier between you and distractions: Procrastination is normally caused by easily available distractions. Can you turn off the Internet and then work on your project? Can you block certain websites until you’re done with your project? Do you have a separate computer or laptop that has the bare minimums just enough to work on your project but not enough to watch YouTube videos and other such stuff? There are various browser plug-ins available that, once activated, stop you from visiting wasteful websites. You keep on getting disturbed by instant messaging apps, turn them off. If your phone distracts you, switch off your phone or keep it in another room. You will have to come up with your own ways of creating strong barriers between you and your distractions.
  • Have a clearly defined roadmap: When we don’t have a direction it is difficult to start work. Instead of focusing on the entire project, divide it into various tasks, and then schedule those tasks. Assign a timeframe to those tasks and then stick to that timeframe. Use a calendar application or a to-do application in order to track different aspects of the project.
  • Communicate about your goals and tasks to everybody around you: When you are constantly distracted even people around you get used to it. They don’t realise that it’s counter-productive to just barge into your room and disturb you. No matter how much they love you, need you, and care for you, there’s a certain part of the day when you have to give your 100% to your work. Also, let it be known to them how many tasks you need to complete in a particular day because when you have shared your schedule with others, it is difficult to go awry. In isolation it is easier to procrastinate, but when there are people who are going to hold you accountable (directly or psychologically), you will take your work more seriously.
  • Reward yourself after completing individual tasks: Even if you love visiting Facebook and Twitter again and again, do them after completing your tasks. Make a commitment to yourself (and if possible also let it be known to others) that you will visit social networking websites only after completing your tasks.

If you can get rid of procrastination and achieve a high level of productivity, your confidence will automatically increase.

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to boost your productivity with single-tasking

Are you trying to accomplish multiple things in one go? Are you constantly multitasking? How much do you actually accomplish when you multitask? New studies are revealing that efficiency accruing to multitasking is a myth as more and more people are achieving less and less because they are unable to focus on a single task. Multitasking hasn’t just crept into our work culture, it is also present even when you’re not doing something work-related. For instance, when you’re watching TV, you might also be fiddling with your phone, checking your Twitter messages, liking Facebook posts or writing a blog post on your laptop or teaching your kid math. We do it without even realising. This is wreaking havoc with our productivity. We have this illusion that we’re doing a lot, but in actuality, we are achieving little.

This FastCompany blog post refers to a Michigan State University research in which 300 students were observed while taking a computer test, while being constantly interrupted. The interruptions came in the form of pop-ups that required students to enter something. These interruptions lasted for as little as 2.8-4 seconds. The number of errors doubled when they were disturbed for 2.8 seconds and quadrupled when they were disturbed for four seconds.

The problem today is that we don’t get enough time to reflect on a particular task. We’re normally running out of time because we are spending our precious time on things that we’re not supposed to be doing. Even if you’re supposed to do those things, it’s no use doing them simultaneously. Instead, you should focus on single-tasking. It is the total opposite of multitasking.

Multitasking came to fashion primarily when it was used for computer processing. You could perform multiple tasks at the same time. You could run multiple programs like a word processor, a browser and an image editing software (for example) at the same time and you could quickly switch into various programs. As processing capabilities of our computers increased did their ability to run more and more programs. Then you also had browsers in which you could open multiple tabs. Then came mobile phones with which you could do things that you could only do with your computers and laptops. With laptops, tablets and mobile phones, you could simply carry around the computing power that was once available at just one spot. At least before the advent of laptops and smartphones when you moved to your TV room or your study room, you didn’t carry along your gadgets.

You can boost your productivity by consciously focusing on just a single task rather than constantly being in a state of distraction by trying to do multiple things at the same time. Embrace minimalism. There is lots of clutter around you, in your mind, around your physical world, everywhere. You have to decide that OK, I’m going to remove distractions from my life, I’m going to focus on the task at hand rather than scores of other things that might be related, or not related to my task at hand. Here is a nice video present in the same FastCompany link mentioned above:

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to improve your life by waking up early

Wake-up early morning

Are you a late riser or an early riser? Do you wake up late or early? Do you really think you can improve your life by waking up early? Since time immemorial wise men and women have extolled upon the benefits of the “early to bed and early to rise” lifestyle in almost every region of the world. Although the rule is not written in stone, it definitely indicates a healthier lifestyle. Late nights and then late mornings throw you out of sync especially when you have to live in a world that begins in the morning and ends around evening. Don’t you feel bad when by the time you wake up most of the world around you have already worked and gone far ahead of you?

How do you improve your life by waking up early?

According to this Business Insider blog post when you wake up early you

  •  Get to have a healthy breakfast: Many people don’t have enough time to have a healthy breakfast despite the fact that it is the most important meal of the day. If you don’t have a nourishing breakfast, it doesn’t really matter what you have for lunch or for dinner. It gives you a boost and a good start. It is also nice way of spending early-morning time with your loved ones.
  • Get more time to relax: Morning time is quite peaceful and the tensions of the world haven’t hit you yet. You are more open to new thoughts. Do some reading. Listen to soothing music or if you don’t want to use some electronic gadget you can simply listen to the chirping of the birds. If you are fortunate enough to have a garden in front of your house, you can perhaps go out, sit there, and just absorb the beauty around you. If you start your day like this there is a great possibility that most of your day will be quite peaceful and packed with more results.
  • Are able to workout in the morning: Having a nice exercise in the morning carries tremendous health benefits. It boosts your metabolism, improves blood circulation, strengthens your muscles and makes you more flexible. If you wake up early in the morning you get enough time to establish an exercise routine that you can follow either everyday  or alternate days.
  • Will be forced to go to bed early: If you want to get up early in the morning, in order to get full sleep, it is but natural that you should get in bed early.

This Forbes article gives you some more benefits of waking up early in the morning so that you can improve your life.

  • Earn better grades: Various university studies have shown that school and college students who get up early in the morning get better grades compared to those who don’t.
  • Become more productive.
  • Anticipate problems: Since you get an early start you’re more likely to anticipate problems and handle them efficiently.
  • You plan better.
  • As mentioned above, when you get up early in the morning you get more time to exercise, which is good for your health.
  • You are more optimistic if you are an early riser.
  • There is easier commute for you because you can get out of your house before the others.
  • You can get a quiet hour at your workplace by reaching early.
  • You get more quality time with your family when you go to bed and get up early. When you start following this routine you automatically stop spending time on wasteful activities such as watching TV or checking out social networking updates.

This Zenhabits blog post lists some ways you can become an early riser.

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to grow your online presence like an expert

Whether you’re promoting a business, yourself or simply trying to propagate an idea or an opinion, you need to have an influential online presence. In order to make sure that more and more people have access to what you are saying, you need to expand your presence. You need to reach more and more people wherever they are, whatever they are doing. There are various ways you can spread your message including

  • Publishing a highly engaging and regular blog
  • Sending out a newsletter (hence, building a mailing list)
  • Getting people to promote your content on social media and social networking websites
  • Having an ability to articulate unique thoughts in an interesting manner
  • Being persistent – this is one of the most important qualities for growing your online presence
  • Content duration and broadcasting using social networking tools
  • Guest blogging
  • Writing articles for different publications
  • Publishing case studies with convincing data
  • Attending niche conferences and workshops
  • Creating helpful videos and uploading them on YouTube
  • Writing and publishing lengthy, authoritative content at least twice a month
  • Interlinking your blog posts and articles
  • Using paid advertising such as Google AdWords if you can afford it
  • Helping people
  • Giving people what they desperately need, free, if possible

43 online marketing experts share on this blog post how you can grow your online presence.

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to get rid of bad breath or halitosis forever

Bad breath

Does your bad breath stop you from approaching people especially strangers? In medical terms bad breath is also called halitosis and contrary to what you may think, it’s quite a common problem and many people suffer from it. It’s just that you rarely approach people in close proximity and hence you don’t get to find out whether they have bad breath or not.

Just like the senses of hearing, sight, touch and taste, the sense of smell is extremely important to us. Different smells can immediately alter our mood. Hence, a bad smell coming from your mouth can immediately put off the person you’re talking to or trying to impress, whether it is for romantic purposes, for social interaction or for a business deal. In fact, bad breath can be considered highly unprofessional. Do you know that bad breath is known to have ruined relationships? What further exacerbates the tragedy is that it is so easily avoidable. Anyway, we are all aware of the fact that it can wreck havoc with our many aspects of life. Let us see how you can get rid of bad breath or halitosis forever.

  • Keep yourself hydrated: A dry mouth normally is a good source of bad breath. Drink water whenever you get an opportunity and definitely before feeling dehydrated. If you are feeling dry in the mouth, it means you need to drink water. Mind you, it has to be water, your dehydration is best countered by drinking water rather than a juice or a cold drink. In fact cold drinks are known to cause further dehydration and worse, tooth decay.
  • Avoid eating too many sweets: You may get bad breath after you have had your fair share of sweets whether they are chocolates or any other sweets. Even if you cannot avoid them, rinse your mouth properly and if possible, quickly brush them.
  • Floss your teeth before going to bed and definitely after having non-vegetarian food: Small chunks of food get trapped between your teeth and they begin to rot if you don’t take them out. The best way to take them out is by flossing. This is especially more important when you have had a non-vegetarian food because when meat rots, it produces a very foul smell. Flossing before going to bed should be done anyway no matter what sort of food you have had because for the whole night you will be sleeping with your mouth shut creating ideal conditions for germs to fester and cause bad breath.
  • Eat raw vegetables as much as possible: Eating raw vegetables not just keeps your teeth cleaned and polished, they are also good for your stomach (you need to find out if you have some bad reaction to particular raw vegetables). Spicy and oily foods upset your stomach and even if your teeth are clean, you will have bad breath due to your stomach problem.
  • Take care of what medicines you are having: If you regularly have medicines even they can give you bad breath. Sometimes you have clean teeth and no problem in stomach and still you have bad breath. If that is the case, find out if your medications are giving you halitosis.
  • Keep your tongue clean: Many brushes these days come with a tongue cleaner – make use of it. Lots of germs get deposited on your tongue and then they give rise to bad breath. Initially when you start cleaning your tongue you may feel that “chokey” feeling, but don’t worry. Gradually you will get used to it.
  • Don’t miss your dentist appointment: Understandably visiting a dentist can be a scary and sometimes even a painful experience, but if you don’t miss your appointments, it shouldn’t have to be that way. It becomes scary and painful when you are too late and the harm is already done. If your teeth are healthy (whether they have bad breath or not) even a simple cleaning and scrubbing would do the job.

Getting rid of bad breath forever primarily involves keeping your mouth clean as well as your stomach healthy because these are the sources from where halitosis originates often.

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to start your business while working on a full-time, 9-5 job

Having a full-time job doesn’t mean that you cannot have your own business. There are many entrepreneurs who started their enterprises on the side of their 9-5 job and achieved great success despite all the constraints. In fact, starting a new business while holding onto your current job is much safer compared to totally burning your ships before entering the uncharted island.

You will definitely need to strike a balance between your job and your business. The first thing you need to do is decide what you want to do. If there is clarity, there is resolve and discipline. If you want to start a new business just for the heck of it, you won’t be able to do much and may end up wasting lots of money and effort. So let us assume you have already spent ample amount of time deciding what to do in order to start a profitable business.

Why do people start their own business despite having a 9-5 job?

Strong desire to unshackle yourself from the chains of slavery? This is sort of extreme, but everybody wants to be his or her own boss. Just imagine, you work so hard on your job and then you make money for your employer. Why not work equally hard on your own business, be independent, decide your own hours and make a lot more money? Besides, whenever you do a job, a sort of uncertainty is always hanging over your neck no matter how important your company makes you feel right now. When you have your own business nobody can throw you out of your job. There is always job guarantee. How much you earn depends on your effort rather than on the HR department.

Why some people don’t want to start their own business once they have a job?

To be frank, running a business is not for the weak-hearted. Despite having overwhelming advantages, it comes with its own set of risks. When you have a job, there is some security although it is more of a psychological security rather than a practical security. You know by the end of the month how much you will be getting paid. You don’t have to worry about what work to do because the work is always assigned to you by your superiors. Your responsibilities are strictly defined.

When you start your own business you have to do practically everything on your own. You are your own boss, you are your own systems administrator, you are your own web designer (sometimes) and you are your own content writer (sometimes). Until your business has grown, you have to take care of procuring raw materials, taking care of production and then shipping the items at the same time. Some people cannot work on their own and this is where they begin to fail. If you want to run your own business, you got to be self driven and responsible for your own actions, for your own successes, and for your own failures.

This blog post explains how to manage your own business while working full-time job.

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to make good friends as a grown-up

Friendship

It’s a misconception that all good friendships are made during childhood. Yes, it is easier to strike up new friendships when you are younger because you are less stressed out, you have fewer commitments and you have more time at your hand, and besides, there are many study-related and sports-related activities that constantly push you closer to prospective friends.

As a grown-up you don’t have much energy. Time is crucial, and hence you don’t want to invest it in developing new friendships.  Whereas, when you’re younger, you have no concept of limited time (and hence you can be quite liberal with how you spend your time), once you are a grown-up, with job and career responsibilities and personal commitments, every hour, every day is crucial. Have you ever seen a kid or a teenager maintaining a to-do list? Grown-ups do. As you get married your spouse and kids demand more of your time, especially the time you’re not spending taking care of your professional commitments.

Once you move to a bigger city commuting also becomes a problem. For a good friendship you need to meet regularly, there needs to be many unplanned interactions and you need to feel a sense of proximity. With so much traffic congestion, travelling to meet a friend can seem like an extremely daunting task when you can easily spend time playing games or watching TV with your family or working on the next project. Even for 30 minutes of meeting you may have to travel up and down for a couple of hours sometimes.

Friendships are important especially in today’s world when a lot of your work may depend on solid networking. Not just that, a good circle of friends is important for healthy mind and body. Various researches show that people who have good five friends are healthier compared to those who don’t.

The first thing you have to do is let go of your old friendships if they have waned. There is no use hanging onto them if nothing remains of them. Although the older friendships no longer matter, sometimes they stop you to strike up new friendships. So in order to make new friends, in order to make that effort, you will have to accept that the older friendships (if that is the case, that is) no longer exist and your older, school or college friends, being at a great distance, are busy in their own lives. Then you start seeking new friendships.

This Business Insider blog post suggests that in order to make new friends, you should go to places where you would find people of common interest. Suppose you enjoy doing social work. If you regularly visit an animal care facility for instance, you will come across people who share your love for animals. If you like visiting the gym, there also you can strike up new friendships. What about a book club? Booklovers form greater friendships because of their intellectual bent of mind (not in all cases but it can be safely assumed). The key is, trying to spend more and more time with a person in order to like him or her enough to strike up a new friendship. Read the rest in the above-mention blog post.

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to be more decisive

Are you going through a decision paralysis? It normally happens when there are too many choices and you’re not sure what direction you should take. From deciding what movie to watch, what channel to stop at, what item of food you should include in the dinner menu to, more serious decisions like what career you should choose or whom you should choose as your life partner among the casual relationships right now you’re having, decision paralysis can really stump you and you may end up with nothing.

As a side note, it’s lucky to have choices. There are many people in the world with very few choices, and a good thing about having few choices is that you don’t have to deal with indecision. For example, if you know that you only have one potato to eat at dinner, you’re not going to prevaricate; you’re straightway going to either cook it, or boil it, or eat it as it is. In the same manner, if you just have one pair of clothes, you don’t have to spend 30 minutes shuffling through your wardrobe.

Anyway, this is about having multiple choices and how to deal with them in order to be more decisive. The best way to deal with decision paralysis is to know yourself. What do you really want? Where do you really stand when it comes to choosing a career? Do you want to select a career for money, for job satisfaction, for some great physical or mental challenge, to serve humanity or just because you have got nothing better to do? So it’s important to know who you really are and what you really intend to achieve in life.

Remember that we constantly change. What you were six months ago has gone through a big change. So learn to travel through time. How would the current decision seem after six months? How would it have seemed six months ago?

Read the complete blog post here.

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How to detoxify your liver in a delicious manner

After your heart, your liver is probably the hardest working organ in your body. It constantly detoxifies your body as well as helps you digest your food. Over a period of time, since it is absorbing all the toxins in your body generates this hard-working organ also needs to be detoxified. If you don’t detoxify your liver, you may have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, constant fatigue, mood swings, depression, sleep apnoea and triglycerides (lots of fatty deposits inside of body giving you ailments like cardiovascular disease). An acidic liver can also give you abdominal bloating, constant pain around the liver area, trouble digesting fatty foods, acid reflux and heartburn, dark spots on the skin normally referred to as liver spots, excessive perspiration and unexplained weight gain.

How can you detoxify your liver on a regular basis? One way is to drink lots of water because water flushes out toxins inside your body. When your liver processes lots of water it itself gets cleaned. If you don’t feel like having too much water all the time you can also have herbal tea. Any liquid that doesn’t require your liver to process a lot can get your liver cleaned up. Some of you may not even like herbal tea because you need to develop your taste.

According to this blog post, you can also detoxify your liver in a delicious manner by making watery concoctions of fruits and vegetables. You can use lime, you can use apple, you can also use cucumber and also watermelon. Just make sure that all these concoctions don’t make your liver work hard.

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to succeed by handling failure well

Do you think successful people are a breed apart and hence success becomes theirs naturally? You might be right about they being a breed apart but not in the sense of having special talents or having superpowers. They’re simply more persistent than the average person who does not succeed. They don’t give up easily. They are optimistic but in a realistic sense. They are flexible about their approach. They know how to call it a day and they know when to persist.

Success is not serendipity. It’s about going on even when things go wrong. In fact this is the big difference between people who succeed and those who don’t: how they react when things go wrong. Most of the people just give up. People who succeed don’t. If one thing doesn’t work, they move onto the next. They don’t move on easily. They keep on trying until all the options are exhausted, and even when all the options are exhausted, they don’t feel discouraged, they just move onto the next thing.

When failure is staring at them they don’t put the blame on others or on circumstances. They analyse their actions and then take corrective measures. It is very empowering to know that nobody is responsible for your success and failure but yourself. It makes you powerful.

Read the rest of the blog post here.

 

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How to add a new program shortcut to the Windows 8.1 start-up

Lots of features have been revamped in Windows 8 and 8.1. For instance, in Windows 7 it was quite easy to add program launching shortcuts in the start-up menu by simply right clicking on taskbar. If that was a problem, you could simply click the Start button and achieve the same task.

Although it’s quite easy to add a program shortcut in the Windows 8.1 start-up, you just need to know the right path. Fire up your Windows Explorer and go to the following path:

C:\Users\Your-user-name\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Start-up

On my computer it is the C drive where Windows 8.1 is installed, but on your computer it might be another drive, so use the drive letter accordingly.

Once you are in this folder right click somewhere in the blank space

Windows 8.1 start-up program

After this you simply have to navigate to the folder where your EXE file resides for which you need to create the shortcut. The next time you start your Windows 8.1, this program will be started automatically.

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to make a new friend in 5 minutes

For some people making a new friend can be one of the biggest challenges of life, and for some, it just happens. Don’t you wonder why some people can so easily make new friends and have such a wide social circle, and some find it hard to make even one friend? Some people are so popular, and some people are loners? Of course, some people can be loners by choice and there is absolutely nothing wrong in that, but what if you do want to make friends and still you find it very hard to approach new people?

Well, this blog post talks about how to make a deep connection with someone within 5 minutes, but using the very same technique, you can also strike up lasting friendships. The author uses a nice example of seeing a cube in a desert. There is also a ladder, a horse, a few flowers, and then a storm. The manner in which you interpret these things shows how you see yourself and how you see others vis-a-vis your own existence. Are you a grounded person, are you unsure or are you so confident that you float in the sky? Are you dependable? Can people lean on you? Do you instil confidence? How do you treat special people in your life? How do you deal with kids?

These may seem very silly questions and totally unrelated, but they are not. If you sit somewhere quietly and think about these questions, they may help you know yourself. They will tell you whether you can be a friend or not. If you can find an answer, you can have peace with yourself. If you know that you are dependable and people can rely on you and you are trustworthy, then you deserve to have friends, and when you believe that you deserve to have friends, you are more confident and you can easily approach people. Everything in this world is interrelated.

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to work smarter and not harder

Although there is nothing wrong in working harder, sometimes people keep on working without tracking how much they are actually achieving. Working smarter means achieving more in less amount of time so that you can achieve much more in the time that you actually spend working, or for that matter doing anything.

For instance, if you are a writer these days it doesn’t make sense to use pen and paper or pencil and paper when you can use a word processor. You may have your own preferences and there is nothing wrong if you still want to use pen and paper but just imagine how much time you can save by simply copying and pasting big chunks of text without having to rewrite them and rearrange them. Besides, eventually you have to type it in. So you first write, make all the corrections and revisions manually and then when you are sure that your work is done, in order to delivery to the publisher, you either have to type it yourself, or get it typed. Again, it might just be a difference of opinion, but just imagine how much time and effort you can save by simply using a computer, laptop or even a tablet of decent size. Then you can focus on writing rather than the process and management.

Anyway, this was just to explain to you what it means to work smarter rather than harder. Working your ass off doesn’t really mean you are achieving a lot. Of course if you’re working in an assembly line production then you may achieve a lot by working harder, but if you are a creative person, if you use your intellectual power rather than physical power to deliver results, you need to change your work habits to enable your mind to work freely.

This blog post suggests 5 ways you can work smartly. It doesn’t give you tricks, it just tells you things like:

  1. Take regular breaks
  2. Take naps in between
  3. Spend some time in nature
  4. Don’t confine yourself just to a single workplace or workstation
  5. Check your email the first thing in the morning

Now, you may not agree with all what is said in the blog post, but some of these suggestions have been scientifically proven, for instance taking regular breaks actually helps. Your brain activity has a threshold level of normally, 60-90 minutes and after that you need a break of 20 minutes at least. Similarly, when you take naps, especially power naps, it rejuvenates your brain.

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to reset your iPhone or iPad when it won’t boot

Has your iPhone or iPad frozen and it won’t boot no matter what? A big problem with an iPhone and iPad is that you cannot take out the battery and put it back in order to check whether the device boots or not. This can be easily achieved with other non-Apple devices but unfortunately, you cannot do this with iPhones and iPad’s. So your only option remains resetting the device.

But what if resetting doesn’t work? Normally you do it within the interface but since you cannot access the interface, it becomes difficult to reset your device. This blog post nicely explains to you how to reset your iPhone and iPad even when you are unable to boot.

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to wake up more energized in the morning

Some people can just jump out of the bed as soon as the alarm goes off, and some people need to hit the “snooze” button again and again in order to wake up. The second type of people are less energized and look less forward to waking up in the morning.

Waking up in the morning cannot be avoided whether you have kids to send to school or you yourself have to go to office, or start your work if you work from home. Whatever is the reason, one needs to wake up along with the world and one also needs to have enough energy to see through the day?

Read this article to know how you can make an energetic start in the morning.

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How to undelete deleted voice messages in iPhone

Did you accidentally delete one of the important voice messages on your iPhone? Maybe you wanted to recover some space on your device, or you simply didn’t like the voice message at that time. Whatever prompted you, you ended up deleting the message and now suddenly you realize that you shouldn’t have deleted it.

Most SMS, email and voice messaging systems these days don’t delete information outright even when you click the “Delete” button. The information is stored somewhere and it is deleted maybe after a month or even more. This is to ensure that you can retrieve the deleted messages in case you think it was a mistake. It may also be because too much space is available these days even on the tiniest of devices. The same facility is available for voice messages in the iPhone.

Just follow these steps

  • Tap “Phone”
  • Tap “Voicemail”
  • Scroll to the bottom of the screen
  • Select “Deleted Messages”
Undelete deleted iPhone messages

In this folder, if it isn’t too late, your deleted voice message must be there. You can select it, and send it back to your inbox.

Image source

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts
Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to stop procrastination in just two minutes

Procrastination is a tendency to keep postponing the important work and spending your time on meaningless activities just that you don’t have to do that important work while feeling that you’re doing something important. It becomes a greater problem if you are self-employed or a freelancer and your entire livelihood depends on your ability to do the needful on time, whether you like it or not.

Overcome procrastination in two minutes

Procrastination does not mean laziness and it is not something that has cropped up due to the onslaught of distractions of the Internet. Some even like to term it as “habitual hesitation” and references to these problems can be found even in the ancient Greek texts (“do not put your work off till tomorrow and the day after” – Hesiod, around 800 BC).

This problem is not just restricted to professional work. People procrastinate when they are studying, when they need to pay their bills, when they need to run important errands and what have you.

Although the general misconception regarding procrastination is that it is not very harmful and people eventually do what they need to do, it is known to cause health problems such as a weaker immune system, depression and low self-esteem and constant financial mismanagement. It even wreaks havoc in interpersonal relationships. Then why do people indulge in it? As mentioned above, it’s a historical problem and most people don’t even realize how serious a problem it is.

This blog post on Buffer.com suggests a “2-Minute Rule”. Isn’t it very easy to do something just for two minutes even if you’re not feeling like doing it? Even if you plan to postpone an important project, just spend two minutes on it.

It’s like, you want to start jogging? /Put on your jogging shoes and just go out and jog for a couple of minutes.

Want to eat healthy? Eat fruits and raw vegetables just for two minutes. Want to start meditating? Just meditate for two minutes. Want to work on that difficult project but somehow you keep postponing it? Just work on it for two minutes.

You must be wondering what sort of difference it is going to make. Keep in mind that in the beginning it’s not about the difference, but developing a schedule. Procrastination is not about not doing something; it is about not starting something. So in the beginning don’t worry about how much pounds you’re going to lose. Worry about going for a jog just for a couple of minutes everyday.

2 minutes is very easy so it doesn’t even seem daunting and you don’t even feel, well, you could have been doing something else, something more enjoyable, something more entertaining. Everybody can take out two minutes out of their busy or entertaining schedule. Even if you’re watching TV, you can pause for a couple of minutes and do the needful.

Then gradually you will start noticing that you’re spending more time than two minutes. Maybe you are eating your fruits for four minutes, or five minutes and you are jogging for 10 minutes. Maybe one day you jog for 30 minutes and the next day you don’t want to jog at all. This happens. There are peaks and there are troughs. The trick is sticking to your two-minute schedule. Even if one day you can jog for 30 minutes and the next day you don’t feel like moving out, just go out for two minutes. Gradually you will realize that your habit of procrastination is waning away and you are in better control of yourself.

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How to delete your Gmail messages permanently

Normally when you delete Gmail messages they are moved to your Trash folder. Then, approximately after 30 days, they are automatically deleted. Once they are deleted from their Trash folder, these messages are permanently deleted.

But what if you want to delete some Gmail messages permanently immediately? Like, right now?

Instead of a single step, you may have to follow a couple of steps.

Go to your Gmail inbox folder, and select the messages that you would like to delete permanently.

Selecting Gmail messages for deletion

You will notice as you select messages, some icons begin to appear in the top portion of your inbox.

Delete icon in Gmail

Click the “Delete” icon highlighted by the arrow in the above image and all the selected messages are moved to the Trash folder. After doing this, on the left-hand sidebar, find the Trash folder and click it.

Sometime you may have to scroll the left-hand side links way down in order to go to the Trash folder and you may even have to click “More” in order to find it.

Delete Gmail messages permanently

Select all the messages that you want to delete permanently and then click “Delete forever”. This way all the Gmail messages that you want to delete permanently, are deleted.

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How to keep your phone safe from unwanted apps

As you go on installing apps on your smartphone whether it is an Android device or an iPhone, you make your phone vulnerable to spyware, secret applications and lots of other stuff we have probably never even heard of. A big problem with installing free apps is on their own they sometimes also install add-ons that you hadn’t bargained for while agreeing to download and install the app. Although in most of the cases they have the decency to let you decide whether you want to install the add-on application or not, sometimes they do it without telling you and by the time you realize it, the app has already started doing something annoying, or worse, something harmful.

Harmful android apps

How do you make your phone safe from such unwanted apps?

According to this The Age article the problem is not rampant with the iPhone because Apple has a very strict policy when it comes to allowing developers to sell their apps or offer them for free from the App Store. Android phones on the other hand, due to their policy of “openness”, have less stringent norms when it comes to offering apps for the Android platform.

As long as you are being shown annoying ads it is fine, but if these developers can use your device remotely through one of these apps and steel and misuse your sensitive data, this can be a problem.

You can take some measures. One of the easiest things to do is be very selective when it comes to installing apps. Don’t install apps just because they are easily available. Don’t let even your kids play around with your phone and install random apps. If they don’t stop, you can activate pin-based or pattern lock so that only you can access your phone. If this is not possible you can activate some security settings that require a password before installing a new app.

It also pays to install a good anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your mobile phone while you still have a chance and while no harm has been done. There are both free and paid versions available on Google Play. Avast! not only protects your phone from unwanted intrusions, it also provides you many added features such as taking regular backups and tracking and locking your phone in case it gets stolen.

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How to find the name of the theme a WordPress blog is using

Interested to know what theme a particular WordPress blog is using? If you are familiar with the most widely used blogging platform on the Internet, there is a great probability that you know that the look and feel of every WordPress blog depends on the theme it is currently using. It is basically the layout – a WordPress theme decides what font type the blog is going to use, where all the different components like the title, the meta descriptions and the sidebars are going to appear. So web designing for a WordPress blog basically means creating the theme.

There are thousands of freely available (it is a free source blogging platform, after all) themes that you can use with a particular WordPress blog. This primarily could be the reason why you want to know the name of the theme: if you like the design of the blog, if it is a free theme, you would like to use it with your blog too. This is why you would like to know the name of the theme.

Finding the name of the theme of a WordPress blog by viewing the source code

This is the easiest way of finding the name of the theme a WordPress blog is currently using. Take for instance HowToPlaza. Right-click anywhere on the blog and in the context menu, click “View page source” (this is assuming you are using Google Chrome – every browser has its own expression for the same function).

View page source

Once you have clicked this, a new tab opens with the source code of the page/post you are currently viewing.

Here you can see that HowToPlaza is currently using the twentytwelve-child theme that is based on the twentytwelve theme framework that comes with WordPress.

Basically whatever is preceded by “/wp-content/themes/” is the name of the theme.

Using an online tool to find out the name of the current WordPress theme

You can go to http://whatwpthemeisthat.com/ , enter the name of the blog and find out the name of the theme. It also tells you what all plug-ins this particular blog is currently using.

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How to block Miley Cyrus-related news from the web on your computer

Fed up of Miley Cyrus and her twerking? Ever since her controversial performance at the MTV Video Music Awards there has been a deluge of news and updates on the former Disney star. It’s hard to imagine that this obnoxious grown-up person is the same one who was once known as “Hannah Montana” – that cheerful face still appears on kids’ schoolbags.

Miley Cyrus showing teeth

So if you are suffering from Miley fatigue, there is a Google Chrome browser plug-in/extension by the name of “No Cyrus”. Once you have installed the extension it blocks out every single online mention including expressions like

  • Miley Cyrus
  • Miley Ray Cyrus
  • Twerk/Twerking
  • MilyCyrus
  • Wrecking Ball

Please keep in mind that this plug-in DOES NOT block links carrying news of Miley Cyrus no matter how disturbing the news is, it just replaces the occurrence of the various forms of her name and other expressions that have become related to her with hashes and random numbers, something like this:

Blocking Miley Cyrus news on the Internet

This in no way is a complete solution, but it does provide certain degree of respite.

As an added bonus the plug-in also blacks out “Kim Kardashian” and “Kardashians”.

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How to avoid the most common website design mistakes

Is your website getting you more leads and sales or is it simply driving people away? Most websites are designed mainly for existence, they hardly solve a purpose. There are very few websites that are actually able to do some business or at least communicate their core ideas to their visitors. Website design mistakes may not matter to businesses that don’t depend much on online revenue, but they can prove to be devastating for those whose business depends on the Internet. What sort of business website have you designed for yourself?

Embedded below is a slideshow from Hubspot that lists 10 deadly reasons why most websites fail.

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How to improve your English writing skills by avoiding common grammar mistakes

“Who are you writing to” or “Whom are you writing to”? “Lay down” or “lie down”?

These and many more grammar mistakes are so common that we don’t even recognize them when we come across them. Why should you be mindful of your grammar in order to improve your English writing skills?

People who are extra careful about their grammar usage are often termed as “Grammar Nazis” by those who don’t take their grammar seriously. I’m not saying you should too, or you should not, since that when you are writing something, whether it is a blog post, an article or even copy for an email marketing campaign, well-written, grammatically correct text sounds more genuine and professional compared to the one that is in mindful of grammar mistakes. Some grammar problems can be overlooked, but some cannot be. For instance the difference between “Its” and “It’s”: do you know people still mix them up?

This Business Insider article reviews common grammar mistakes made by even professional writers sometimes.

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A woman grows old in just 5 minutes, digitally

In a short film called Danielle filmmaker Anthony Cerniello has shown a woman aged decades within 5 minutes, from a very young girl to an older woman. The filmmaker has created the slow morph in Adobe After Effects. He explains the entire procedure in this Mashable article.

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How to sell your old phone while upgrading to a new one

Planning to purchase a new phone? With a plethora of phones available from Samsung and HTC, and for that matter even Apple with its latest iPhone 5 launch you must be pretty excited to get hold of one of these gems. But what of your old phone? What are you going to do with it?

Many people give their old phones to their parents or their kids, but if you plan to sell them here is a nice video that explains exactly how to do it:

The first thing you need to do before selling your phone is, delete all your private data. Especially remove your data that stores your passwords, user IDs, sensitive images and text messages. You may also like to remove your Google, Facebook, Twitter and other accounts from your phone. Additionally, if you have been doing banking from your phone, you should make sure to remove that application. In fact, it is better that you format your SD card (if you are planning on selling it along with the phone) and do a factory reset on the phone.

Other than that, there are usual things you should take care of, such as make sure that your phone is not damaged and you have been using a scratchcard on the screen and it is in stock condition.

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How to improve your local SEO with YouTube videos

By now you must have seen YouTube videos popping up on search engine result pages. They may not directly improve your SEO vis-a-vis your website or your blog, but it can certainly give you advantage in terms of getting lots of indirect traffic. This Search Engine Land article says that YouTube videos can also be used to prop up your local SEO.

YouTube SEO

YouTube is one of the first examples of social media. So the rules applied on other social media websites can also be applied to the content published on the video hosting website. There are some generic rules, and then there are some quality-specific rules.

In order to leverage YouTube it is better to create a channel for yourself that correctly represents your business. Then start uploading videos on various aspects of your business on a regular basis. They can be how-to videos, they can be PowerPoint presentations and slides (these can be converted to videos by any of the easily available tools these days) and they can be simple animations. The basic agenda must be to cover as many topics as possible that are related to your field or your business.

The videos must be to the point, highly informative and if possible, also entertaining. On YouTube the video quality doesn’t matter much as long as people can make out what is going on because most of the videos are supposed to be home-made and hence, not of professional quality. It doesn’t mean you should upload low-quality videos purposely even if you can upload professional quality videos.

Aside from these aspects, the above linked article also suggests you to

  • Geo-tag your video
  • Link to your business website from the description of the video. Also include as many business details as possible in the video description
  • Give your video a descriptive title, preferably with the main keywords
  • Include your name, address, phone number and website URL in the concluding frames of the video as Google’s interpretation algorithms can recognize text within your video, and consequently, can use it for ranking purposes
  • Include your name and address and phone number along with the website URL in the audio of your video because Google can also automatically create text transcripts out of the audio and again, use it for ranking purposes
  • Use the description section of the YouTube video to describe exactly what the video demonstrates, preferably using the main keywords
  • Tag your video with your relevant keywords
  • You will need to associate your video with your Google places listing (remember we’re talking about local SEO)
  • You can also associate the video with your Google+ local pages
  • Embed your video in one of the latest blog posts under your business website
  • Promote your video from your different social media and social networking profiles

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How to turn off Facebook notifications from selected updates

This can be a bit annoying. You “Like” a particular Facebook post or leave a comment on your friend’s update and there you have it – if scores of people are leaving comments on that particular update, you are receiving all the notifications. Suppose you were just interested in leaving your message and you don’t want to receive further notifications from that particular update? How to stop them?

It is quite easy, provided you know how to do. Just go to your Facebook page and click the usual globe icon where your notifications appear:

Facebook notifications

When you are in the notifications drop-down list, when you hover your cursor over a particular notification coming from an update, on the right-hand side you can see a cross sign. This sign allows you to turn off the notifications from that particular update.

Turn off Facebook notifications

When you click the cross sign, it further presents you with two buttons that allow you to either “Turn off” or “Keep on” notifications for that update.

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How to embed Google+ posts into your webpages and blog posts

Every social networking platform allows you these days to embed its content into your webpages and blog posts seamlessly. You may also like to read How to embed Facebook updates in your blog posts and webpages.

Google+ has recently introduced this feature to its own interface. Now if you like something on Google+ you can simply use the embed code and copy/paste it onto the source code of your webpage or blog post. This is how you access the “embed” code:

Go to your timeline or the timeline of the Google+ contact whose post you would like to embed.
Scroll down to the post that you want to embed.

If you hover your cursor over the top-right corner of the post you can see a downward arrow icon.

Down arrow icon

If you click this icon you get a drop down menu and therein you can find the “Embed post” link. Once you have clicked the link, you reach this portion:

Google+ embed code

This is the code that you need to copy/paste and once you have done that, the Google+ post is embedded.

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How to delete files from your Android device with a computer

If you have been using an Android smartphone or a tablet for a while now there must be 100s of images, videos and songs stored over there. Deleting them selectively using just your phone or your tablet might be a difficult task to achieve and since you are more used to handling files and data on your computer, why not first attach your android device to your computer and then delete those files? This way you will be easily able to navigate through various folders and delete those files.

Deleting files from your Android device with a computer

There are multiple ways you can connect your android device to your computer. If you want to use your data cable, you will first need to add the USB device driver that is appropriate for your device. Once you have installed the USB driver, you can connect your smartphone or tablet to your computer. Just make sure that you “Mount” the device after the connection has been made. This mounting you will have to do from your phone. As soon as the cable is plugged in and both your computer and your device are connected to each other, there will pop-up menu of choices (the new smartphones and tablets seem to figure this out on their own). Now open your Windows Explorer and you can see your phone appearing as a new drive. If you have also got an SD card, this will also show up as a separate drive. You can go to individual folders, or move them to your PC.

You can also connect your Android smartphone to your PC in order to delete files wirelessly. For this you will lead to install an app called AirDroid. This creates a small FTP server on your Android device. After everything has been set up (you don’t need to do much) it gives you a web address or URL that you need to go to using your browser window on your PC. Once you have gone to the link, an authorization pop-up window appears on your Android device that you need to tap and once you have done that all your folders appear in your browser window and you can delete files or just move them around.

AirDroid  browser window

Another way of deleting files from your Android device with your PC is by installing the proprietary software that comes with your device. For instance, most of the Samsung devices are shipped with their PC interface called Samsung Kies. It comes with all the necessary device drivers that once installed, let your PC seamlessly connect to your smartphone or tablet. Than everything is interface driven.

Samsung Kies
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How to find the best time to post on Twitter and Facebook and send emails

You weigh the effectiveness of a communication by the sort of response it generates. But the timing also makes a big difference. That is why it really matters when you post updates on Facebook and Twitter, and even when you send off emails to people. Ever heard the phrase, “You have caught me at the wrong time”? Or even, “Only if the timing was correct”. What does this mean? There is always the right time and the wrong time to do particular things.

Take for instance posting a Facebook update. There is no use of publishing updates if most of your followers and fans are not online at that time, or at least those followers and fans who might be interested in the stuff you are posting. The success of your Facebook updates is gauged by the number of people liking and sharing your posts. On Twitter, a particular update is successful if more and more people retweet it, or respond to it.

The problem with social networking websites is most of the timelines move very fast. Although Facebook uses its unique algorithm to highlight content that is not based on the timeline sequence, it can help you only up to a certain level. If you post an update, let us say, at 11 AM and most of your followers and fans are active around 4 PM, by the time they check their updates, they will lose your message unless Facebook decides to show it to them.

On Twitter it is even more difficult because unless your tweet is “promoted”, it appears in a chronological order – the newest updates appearing at the top. Here again, if your followers are not there actively interacting on Twitter, they are going to miss your update.

Finally the email: email communication is not as chaotic as it is the case on social networking websites, nonetheless, if you don’t send your email at the right time, your recipient may miss it or may not reply in the right manner. For instance, if you send an email at a time when it will be midnight for the recipient, there is a great chance that he or she will not check it unless it is morning, and by that time, many more emails or many more distractions may prevent him or her to look at it when needed attention. On the other hand, if you send an email precisely when the person is actively using his or her computer there is a greater chance of a positive feedback.

This Nextweb blog post throws some scientific light on how to find the best time to post on Twitter and Facebook and send your emails in order to elicit maximum response. The data represented in this blog post may be region specific, but it gives you a fair idea of how to use the time factor and how important it is.

According to the blog post, 86% of the posts are published between Monday and Friday, although the response is 18% higher on Thursdays and Fridays (maybe because people are less interested in work and more interested in whiling away their time while they wait for the weekend). Even the engagement is 32% higher on weekends, understandably because then people are not busy as much as they are on weekdays.

Even the time of the day matters while posting on Facebook and Twitter. Interestingly, Facebook updates appearing around 1 PM get more shares compared to those posted around 3 PM that get more clicks.

Check out the original post linked above as it contains lots of visual information that is easier to understand.

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How to take on powerful, corrupt and polluting businesses as common citizens

Big businesses can fetch big money and even all-round community development, but they can also pose big problems because as they grow powerful, they pay scant regard to the pollution and the health hazards they create for people living in the community. Companies like Shell and Haliburton can throw entire countries in a tizzy and they are constantly toppling governments in smaller countries. So under such circumstances, how do you stand up to them and make them fear the law of the land and the norms of the society?

How can money and muscle power be countered? By the numbers people enjoy. Just imagine, if millions of people across the country, across the globe, start standing up against these repressive and corrupt corporations that are constantly influencing multiple government decisions? You just need to mobilize people in your community and carry out massive awareness and information dissemination campaigns.

People in this video show you how to do that:

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How do you know you are publishing quality content on your website

Producing quality content regularly is mandatory not just for your search engine rankings but also for a great conversion rate on your website. But how do you know? What sort of content should you publish? And isn’t quality a very individualistic attribute? What is quality to you may not be quality to xyz?

Although this Hubspot article says that you can create and publish quality content if you strictly follow Google’s guidelines, there is more to that. In order to publish quality content, first of all you need to understand exactly why you are publishing content on your website. Is it because the others are doing it or your SEO guy/girl says that you cannot get good search engine rankings unless you publish lots of keyword-centric content? This is not a bad reason to create and publish content but if you are publishing it solely for this purpose, it ain’t going to work much for you. There has to be something deep. Something that makes sense to your customers and clients. Here are a few things to keep in mind in order to create quality content for your website:

Write for humans, not for machines

This point has been beaten to pulp but still it is one of the most overlooked advises when it comes to creating quality content for blogs and websites. When you are creating and publishing content keep your prospective customers and clients (and also your existing customers and clients) in mind. Does your content help them? Can they easily understand it?

Should you ignore the search engine algorithms completely? Fortunately, search engine ranking algorithms these days are built in such a manner that content that is specifically created for search engines doesn’t enjoy good search engine rankings. This is why social endorsement and backlinking is important. Your content needs to be validated by other human beings before it can enjoy good search engine rankings. Keywords are important, but only up till a particular point.

Quality writing still rules

Bad spellings, careless typos and skewed grammar will put off your customers and clients big time. It shows you don’t care about them. How can you provide a decent product or service if you can’t even write decently or can’t even employ someone who can write decently? What people read on your website might be the first contact they have with you (and what you represent) and if the moment they come to your website and they come across lousy writing, they will abandon your website. So make sure you proofread before publishing on your website. If you are not confident about your writing skills, then hire someone who is.

Organize your website content under various sections

Organize your content in such a manner that it is easily scannable by people. By merely going through your headings, subheadings, highlighted text and bulleted points people should be able to get the main gist of your message. Use explicit words that cause the least confusion. For instance, the above heading “Organize your website content under various sections” tells you exactly what follows. Similarly, you can sum up the main points using bulleted lists. Various HTML elements can be used to highlight particular portions of your content.

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How to carry a great conversation without being awkward

A conversation can make or break your day. Whether you have bumped into a colleague or a superior who can give you a career boost you or you are looking for a prospective romantic date, having an engaging conversation is the most important part of the entire experience.

Carrying a great conversation

Most people think that having a conversation means talking, and what could be easier than talking, right? But remember those moments when you’re sitting or standing in front of someone you hardly know and you are wondering what to say or how to react to what is being said? When you think of it, having an interesting talk doesn’t seem like an uphill task and in your mind, you can have an engaging conversation with Obama and Putin at the same time. But what happens actually?

A productive conversation depends on the following factors:

  • How well you know the person
  • How comfortable you are with the surroundings
  • How well-versed you are with the topic being talked about
  • How attentively you listen and retain what is being said
  • How well you can articulate it yourself

As you can easily make out, there are some attributes you can control, and some you cannot, for instance knowing or not knowing a person. But there are many things you can control and even improve with practice and inclination, according to this Lifehacker article. Some of the actions, activities and tendencies that you can control are:

Listen to what the other person is saying carefully

Whatever your intentions behind having the present conversation are, the entire thing depends on how much you can listen to, how much you can absorb and accordingly, how you react. So listening is very important. Hold your horses of fantasy and just listen. Don’t let your mind wander off here and there. Try to absorb every word without making it too obvious.

Don’t try to dominate the conversation

Speaking more, constantly cutting off the other person and pretending as if you know about everything under the sun isn’t going to make a good impression on the other person. It simply makes you preoccupied, and you may even end up offending the other person. In the process you cannot listen properly. Even if you have something really valuable to add to the ongoing conversation, hold your horses. Let the other person complete his or her sentence and let him or her believe that you are trying to absorb every bit of communication. Then, very politely, present your own argument.

Give genuine compliments

Genuine compliments are always great conversation boosters. They are not the only part of a conversation but they can definitely set the mood in a positive sense and make the other person more receptive. Just make sure that when you praise someone you actually mean it because otherwise even marginally intelligent person can make out that you are lying.

Know when to ask the right question

When you ask the right question it proves two things: one, you know your stuff, and two, you have been listening to what is being said. So even if a question seems uncomfortable or inappropriate, provided you feel that it should be genuinely asked, you must ask that question.

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How to search every Tweet since the beginning of time with Topsy

Topsy is a Twitter search engine that claims to have indexed every single tweet since the beginning of Twitter. As per the beginning of September (2013) there are over 540 billion tweets. According to Jamie De Guerre, SVP Product / Marketing at Topsy:

With more than 450 million tweets being sent every day, indexing Twitter all the way back to 2006 is a huge undertaking. In fact, Topsy now houses more items in our indices than Microsoft Bing.

Co-founder and Topsy CTO Vipul Prakash further adds:

We started Topsy to give our users a tool for capturing actionable segments of public conversation … by adding a full historical index, now we can even look even further back to the very first Tweets 7 years ago. We have all of Twitter indexed, meaning our users have access to the best, most accurate view of the world’s social conversation on the planet.

Just like any advanced search engine, Topsy comes with its own set of operators and search patterns.

Topsy Search parameters

In order to leverage the full potential of Topsy, do read this blog post titled: 11 Power Twitter Searches That Can Be Done With The New Topsy Social Search.

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How to remove people from your photographs with Photoshop

Recently you took some great scenic photographs during your trip but people standing here and there hog the space and somehow you cannot capture the beauty of the nature. But there is no escaping from it. You cannot tell people to move away or leave the scenic site so that you can take some pictures in peace. Although, when you come back, you can remove these people from your photographs with Photoshop.

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How to install incompatible Android apps on your smartphone

You come across a great review of the latest Android app and then you quickly head to Google Play or simply try to install the app from your tablet or smartphone but alas! You get the message that the app is not available for your device – either it is incompatible or it is not available in your region. This can be a bummer.

Ideally you shouldn’t install incompatible Android apps because they may cause some problem with your smartphone or tablet, but nonetheless, if you’re feeling adventurous and you want to install incompatible or unavailable apps, here is a nice tutorial that explains how you can achieve that.

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How to improve your search engine rankings with Google Trends

Google Trends, according to this Search Engine Watch article, is “one of the best and most versatile tools available for SEO”. How do you use this online tool to improve your search engine rankings?

As the name suggests, Google Trends shows you the trends of the various searches happening on the web. It is not the keyword suggestion tool, but you can use a keyword suggestion tool combined with Google Trends to know exactly for what keyword or keyword-phrase you should search engine optimize your content. How is that?

If you look up for a particular search term Google Trends gives you a numeric as well as graphic presentation of how many people are searching for this particular search term, how it fares compared to other similar search terms, during which time periods the search for this particular search term peaks, and so on. This way you can find out what keyword to target for.

The writer gives a very nice example of “car parts” and “auto parts”. Doesn’t “car parts” look like a good keyword to optimize for? Americans, on the other hand, use “auto parts” more, compared to “car parts” so you should focus on “auto parts” if you are selling products under this category (in America, of course). This you would not know easily without Google Trends. The article reviews many more features that you can use in order to improve your search engine rankings.

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How to save your mobile phone if you drop it in water or spill water on it

Mobile phones are ubiquitous these days and so has water been, for ever. Sooner or later you’re either going to spill water on your mobile phone or you are going to drop your mobile phone in water. Whatever happens, it’s not good news. You may lose the use of your phone forever, or you may not, depending upon what you do, and how your phone reacts.

Mobile phone dropped in water

Your mobile phone should turn itself off as soon as water enters it. If it does not, immediately switch it off completely. Don’t try to switch on the phone while it is dripping or even when it is moderately wet. Then remove the cover and take out the battery, the SD card if any, and the SIM card, if any. It may help if you can also remove the skins, covers or faceplates if you have them on your phone.

Try to remove as much water from your mobile phone as possible without causing further trauma to it. Sometimes if the water doesn’t cause short-circuit, people end up destroying their phones by scrubbing them forcefully. Lightly press your towel against the exposed parts of the phone so that it can absorb as much water as physically possible. Place your phone in such a manner that maximum amount of water can flow out of it.

Leave your mobile phone in that position for a day or two. You can also place your phone in front of the air conditioner running in dry mode (this mode takes the moisture out of your room and throws it outside). If you have a dehumidifier, switch it on and place the phone there so that it dries up quickly. If nothing is available, you can at least switch on the fan. But don’t use something like a hairdryer because this may cause further damage. Nonetheless, give your phone a couple of days so that it is completely dry from the inside.

Once you feel that there should be no water inside, put on the batteries and everything else that you had taken out and put the cover back. Then switch on your phone. If there was no permanent damage, it should start working.

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to turn mental toughness into a habit

Becoming physically tough is easier but when it comes to being mentally tough it is altogether a different ballgame. Mental toughness eludes not just athletes and players but also entrepreneurs, scholars and artists. Mental toughness is required whenever you need to persevere against the odds. It is the most important ingredient for being successful in your life.

Mental toughness

What does it take to be mentally tough? And what exactly does it mean? Does it mean being ruthless? Does it mean able to watch the most horrible things without flinching? Does it mean being brave beyond human limits? Not necessarily. Mental toughness means doing what needs to be done and doing it no matter what it takes. It means remaining focused. It means being able to distinguish right from wrong and vice versa. Listed below are a few habits that can help you grow your mental toughness.

Stop finding excuses for your failures

Mentally tough people avoid finding excuses for their failures because when you find excuses you blame other things, events or people for things you cannot do. When you blame the others, you empower them to control your destiny and people with mental toughness avoid this mentality like the plague. By the end of the day what you achieved and what you do not achieve is in your on hand. Fine, there can be external influences but this is how life is. If it throws you on the ground you get up, dust off your clothes and go on doing your stuff rather than lying there crying and pointing an accusing finger at your life. When you hold yourself responsible you know that just as your failure is because of you, so is your success. Everything is in your own hand.

Don’t depend on positive endorsement from others

Pursue your goals irrespective of how the others react to your activities. Keep in mind that you are not striving to make other people happy, you are striving to succeed in your life and while doing so you may end up pissing off many people. But do not worry, every driven person has to go through it. When you let yourself get bothered by what others say about you, rather than focusing on your goals, you start focusing on other people’s behavior. This can set your energy and distract you. Positive endorsement is good, but you will get plenty of them once you have reached your goal.

Accept change and keep an open mind

It may seem clichéd, but the only thing constant is change. The world around you is constantly changing. The people around you, and their outlook, and their behavior, and even their circumstances, are constantly changing. This is something beyond your periphery of influence, so deal with it and change yourself accordingly. Things may not turn up exactly the way you had envisaged but this is how it is.

Recognize importance of both physical and mental health

Your physical and mental health are both an integral part of your body and it’s your body and mind that need to strive in order to succeed. So that they both should be healthy and capable of taking on hardships. For players and athletes physical health is taken care of, usually, by default. It’s the people who need to engage in lots of sedentary activity who end up ignoring their physical health. You can never be too busy to do some exercise or jogging.

Just go on doing

As long as your value system is intact don’t waste lots of time on the pros and cons of what you’re doing. Divide bigger tasks into smaller ones and just get done with them. Don’t procrastinate and don’t run away from completing those tasks. The biggest sign of procrastination is constantly thinking of whether you should do a particular thing or not, and then finding a list of reasons eventually for not doing it.

Mental toughness has got a lot to do with your attitude and outlook. It is about perseverance, an ability to persistently act outside of your comfort zone and doing whatever it takes for you to succeed.

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to show multiple authors in a WordPress blog post

It might happen that multiple authors work on a single blog post, especially when you are collaborating with co-authors on a lengthy, research-based article. On various content management systems this facility is already there, but in WordPress, it is not inbuilt. For instance, you cannot assign multiple authors to a single blog post or a single page. You need a plug-in, and one of such plug-ins is Co-Authors. Once you can assign multiple authors to a single WordPress blog post, it is a matter of inserting a small code in your theme file to show the list of associated authors to the public.

Once you have installed the Co-Authors plug-in the usual “Post Author” section in your dashboard (when you create a new blog post or edit an existing one) is replaced by “Post Author(s)” – to enable you to add multiple authors:

WordPress multiple authors plug-in

The extra authors drop-down menus are prefilled with the existing contributors and authors so you need to simply select them. You can easily remove them by clicking the x button.

Now how to display these multiple authors in your WordPress blog post meta data information?

To achieve this you may have to dig into your theme files and alter the code that displays the author information. The simplest form of doing this is:

if(function_exists(‘coauthors_posts_links’))
coauthors_posts_links();
else
the_author_posts_link();

Once you have made these changes, you are all set to go.

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to automatically delete your tweets after a set interval

Some of your Tweets can be time sensitive; for instance you are holding a contest or survey that expires after 24 hours after three days or something like that. You start the contest or the sweepstake and then post the update immediately on Twitter. But then, after the closing time, you forget to delete the Tweet and people still keep on responding to it, especially those who might be checking their timelines late getting confused because of different time zones.

You can sign up with Spirit that claims to make your Tweets “disappear with a simple hash tag”.

So for instance, you post an update

This promotional code is available for the next 12 hours.

Conventionally, the update stays where even when the said 12 hours have elapsed. On the other hand if you have signed up with Spirit and granted the application read and write permissions and if you post your update in the following manner:

This promotional code is available for the next 12 hours. #12h

It will be automatically deleted after 12 hours. Similarly, if you want something to be deleted in the next 35 minutes, you can do it like this:

This should be deleted in the next 35 minutes #35m

Visit the Spirit website for more information on how you can automatically delete your tweets after a set interval.

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to prepare for a car accident in advance

An accident is a nasty thing so most of us do not want to think about it. There was a time when people didn’t want to buy insurance for the same reason – why talk about or think about bad things like death when they haven’t occurred yet? But these days getting an insurance is as normal as buying a pizza; almost everybody has one. People have a prenuptial agreement even at the time of getting married while they promise a lifetime commitment to each other. So why not have the same approach for a car accident? You encounter cars more than you encounter flies on the road when you are driving so there is less chance of hitting a fly and more chance of hitting a car or being hit by another automobile (I know, it is an exaggeration).

Many things can happen after a car accident. Maybe you are injured. Maybe it is a hit-and-run case and the errant driver has fled the scene before you can take down his or her phone number. Maybe it is a lonely road and there is no help around. There can be thousand variations of situations and problems that you can face after an accident.

This article on Lifehacker throws some light on how to be prepared for a car accident BEFORE it actually happens. Obviously there is no use of preparing for an accident after it has happened.

Preparing for car accident

Immediately after the accident you might be in shock and you may not be able to think logically. This is why you should keep a cheat sheet secured in thr glove box so that you can take it out and quickly go through it in case of emergency. Everybody these days carries a phone. During a car accident you can damage your phone. If possible keep an extra phone in the glove compartment of your car. Store some emergency numbers and assign hotkeys to them so that even if it is difficult to dial a number with an injured hand you can do it with minimum discomfort. It may also help if you can speak the phone number into the phone instead of having to tap it or type it.

The article suggests you take quick snaps of the nameplate of the car that has hit you with your mobile phone but of course you can only do that if you are not injured badly. Taking a snap of the nameplate will make it easier for the law enforcement agencies as well as your insurance company to find out to whom the vehicle belongs and then do the needful accordingly.

Also keep the GPS of your mobile phone on so that you can be tracked in case you are too injured to make a call.

You can read further in the article linked above.

Image source

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to make your house burglar-proof (infographic)

Worried about your house being invaded, or burgled in your absence? It might be more dangerous if the invasion or the burglary happens in your presence because then you can be injured.

Statistics can always help you. For instance, in America, most of the burglaries take place in the afternoon when people are at work. Houses that are covered behind lots of trees and walls are more prone to being burgled. Naturally houses and properties without any kind of security system such as alarms and surveillance cameras are more vulnerable to such invasions.

So how do you make your house burglar-proof? You can install a security system. Cameras and alarm bells that are prominently displayed can act as big deterrents. Have stronger doors and windows that cannot be easily broken into. If you have enough space, have multiple dogs because they start barking the moment an intruder steps into their territory.

What if the intruder comes in and you are inside? Lock yourself in a room. Try to make as much noise as possible – if possible set your music system to full volume with blaring music. Burglars are quite jittery. As a graphic tells you, 85% of burglars are nonprofessionals. Take them by surprise while not endangering yourself. Do not invite confrontation. For instance if the burglar is already inside your room, pretend that you are sleeping. You can find lots of interesting information in the infographic presented below.

Make your house burglar-proof

Image source

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to convert a WordPress.com blog into a WordPress.org blog

If you have been publishing a blog under WordPress.com then you already know that it is not hosted under your own domain name. The link to your blog must be something like http://yourblog.wordpress.com. For running an elementary blog this is a good option but once your blog has evolved and you are interested in more serious blogging including revenue options, you will need to convert your WordPress.com blog into a WordPress.org blog. No, it does not mean that now the link to your blog will be http://yourblog.wordpress.org, it means you will be downloading the WordPress setup files from WordPress.org and then uploading them to your own server in order to setup the blog under your own domain, http://yourblog.com. See the difference?

Convert WordPress.com to WordPress.org

The benefit of publishing a blog under your own domain is you can do whatever you want to do with it. You can have whichever theme and layout you want. You are not obliged to adhere to terms and policies of WordPress.com. You can publish ads on your blog and earn revenue. Your own blog helps you in branding and promotion. If you are running a business blog, something like http://yourbusinesswebsite.com/blog/ it can also help you improve your search engine rankings tremendously. The biggest benefit of running a blog under your own domain is that you are in total control of your content. If tomorrow WordPress.com goes down, you will have your entire content with you. Importing and converting has become so easy these days that even if there is no support for WordPress.org set of files one day, you will still be able to run your blog using another platform but having the same content and layout.

The first thing you need to do in order to be able to use WordPress.org is to have your own domain name. You can register a new domain, or you can upload the setup files under a subdomain of an existing website. The choice is yours. You should also have direct access to your MySQL server because you will need authentication permissions in order to set up and run the blog.

After this, go to WordPress.org and download the setup files in a folder on your local drive. You may need to unzip the setup files. Once you have done that, using your preferred FTP client program, you will need to login to your web hosting FTP account and then upload all the setup files there.

Setting a WordPress is quite easy and it is mostly self-driven. After uploading the files you simply have to visit the URL and the setup begins on its own. Keep your MySQL server login details handy because you will need them as a set of proceeds.

Once the setup is done, you will be given a temporary password that you can use to login to your dashboard and once you are there, first of all change your password.

Then you need to login to your WordPress.com account. You will need to export all your blog posts into an XML backup file using the inbuilt interface of the dashboard. Since WordPress.com also uses the core WordPress setup files, there is not much difference in the dashboard interface. The entire procedure of first exporting your content from WordPress.com and then importing it into your own blog setup is explained in this blog post with all the necessary visuals.

Image Source

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to create great Google+ posts

Doesn’t matter how many social networking platforms you are using right now, there is no denying the fact that Google+ is among the most important. This is not just because of the audience it enjoys and the number of new members it is attracting, but also due to various other reasons. Your posts can have an impact on your search engine rankings. You can reach a wider “geeky” audience by posting regularly on Google+. There is a great wealth of knowledge existing on Google+ posts by other users. Whatever is the reason, it matters how much you post on Google+ and how you formulate your individual posts.

You can use Google+ various ways. People use it for publishing full-fledged blog posts. They also publish summaries of articles and blog posts that either they have published or they have found on other websites and blogs that they would like to share. Sometimes people publish simple links, images and videos. Basically it depends on your target audience.

Here is a good article on how to publish great Google+ posts.

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to build a better insight

Do you often wonder why and how some people can see things that you cannot? How come they have better insight than yours? All those ideas, that should have come to you, come to other people. This is not only frustrating, it can also harm you professionally.

Having better insight

It’s not that they are better qualified or more educated than you. Maybe you are more qualified, more experienced and even better educated? Then why do these people constantly beat you when it comes to having a better insight? Whether it is software development, product design, innovation or writing, your mind simply feels stumped. The problem is not with your mind, the problem is the way you have tuned your thinking. You need to change the way you think. Here are a few things you can do:

Lookout for a different perspective

In order to train your mind to look for a different perspective and have a better insight you need to consciously do it. Creative people who have a different perspective don’t have exceptional brains (except for a few geniuses), it’s just that they are constantly working at it and their minds have gotten used to looking for information and patterns that you normally ignore or don’t care much about. Suppose you’re reading an article. When you’re reading it unconsciously, you’re not using your brain, you are simply absorbing information without questioning and without doubting. In order to develop an insight, you need to start questioning and you need to start doubting, no matter how respected and authoritative the writer is.

Write-down the main points and store them somewhere

In order to build a better insight you need information for comparison. You need past information and you need future projections. Insight is all about an ability to compare the new information with the information you have and then draw your own conclusion. So, processing the information is vital to clarity. You can use the conventional notebook or you can use a digital tool like Evernote. A good thing about using a digital tool is that it is often available on every device you use, so whether you’re using your computer, laptop, iPad or any of the versions of android tablets, you can quickly jot down the information so that later on you can go through it at your own leisure.

Start writing about the information you have

Simply writing down the information doesn’t give you clarity. You need to use that information in your own language so that your mind can retain it. Suppose you have found a very interesting article on the consumption of smart phones in various countries. You may simply read the article and get on with your life, or you can jot down the important points and then create your own article, essay or a blog post using those points. Initially you can also post updates on Facebook and Google Plus. The basic point is using the information you have to communicate your own thoughts.

Be open to different thoughts and accept contradictions

Things are never black-and-white. What you’re reading, or what you are listening to may be totally different from what actually manifests. Having strong opinions and having a rigid mind are two different things. You can have strong opinions but still you can have an open mind about the information that you absorb and the creativity that you want to unleash. Building a better insight also entails being receptive to new thoughts and new ideas even if you don’t agree with them.

Develop a reading habit

For building a better insight regular reading is very important. Not just blogs and online articles, but full-fledged books on specific topics. If you are a web designer, read books on web design; if you are a journalist then read as many books as possible on the topics that you like covering and writing on. Sometimes the amount of information that you get by reading one book may be more than what you can gather on your own after spending years studying the subject.

Interact with like-minded people

If you are interested in economics then interact with people who are constantly reading and writing on this topic. If you like philosophy, then start spending time with people who dabble with philosophy. When you start spending time with like-minded people (like-minded people doesn’t mean people who constantly agree with you) you are exchanging ideas and information and you’re constantly talking about things you know and don’t know. This keeps your mind stimulated and the stimulated mind is an ideal breeding ground for newer insights and concepts.

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to make your day super productive as an entrepreneur

As an entrepreneur, being productive can be highly crucial to the survival of your business. Many people confuse being busy with being productive, but it is not. You can be busy without being productive and you can be productive without being busy. It’s all about how you manage your day’s schedule and how you prioritize the various tasks you have to do.

In order to maximize your productivity you have to clearly define it first of all. What makes it a productive day? Is it tied to the sort of revenue you make? Is it tied to the number of leads that you can generate? Does it depend on the marketing calls? You have to clearly define what a productive day would be and then every bit of energy you expend must be targeted towards that objective. Here are a few things you can do to make your day super productive as an entrepreneur.

Have a clear vision of productivity

I have already introduced the subject in the second paragraph. If you think that you’re busy your entire day but still by the end of the day you don’t feel very productive, you need to define the parameters of productivity. Write them down somewhere. They don’t have to be the same every day. Being productive means achieving what you have wanted to achieve for that particular day, even if it was replenishing your office supplies for the month.

Automate repetitive tasks

There are many repetitive tasks that you can automate, especially if those tasks are carried out on your computer. Even if you have to spend some money getting the program or the batch file developed, get it done ASAP. Suppose you’re spending half an hour everyday doing something routine that you always have to do. It is critical for your business, but it is pretty much the same stuff. What if that task can be automated? If you have to work in Excel you can get some macro developed that can take care of that task as soon as a worksheet is loaded. If you have to send multiple emails every morning containing more or less the same text, you can create canned responses and use them to speed up your work. You can apply similar methods to automate other repetitive tasks.

Don’t spend time doing stuff that others can do

Although money saved is money earned this is not the way you want your business to make money – by saving it. You want your business to make money so that you can spend more money on growing it. Hire people with specialized skills. If you don’t want to employ full-time professionals, you can outsource your work to freelancers who can do the job better than you can do. Even if you know programming, even if you know how to tweak images, if these are not your primary professions, don’t spend your time doing them. Assign these tasks to someone who specifically does them so that you can focus on growing your business, or at least doing what you are being paid for. This way you will be spending more time doing productive work rather than producing work for someone else.

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to succeed in life by focusing on particular tasks

Success is one of the most sought-after attributes of human life and yet, very few people in this world actually experience it. That’s why people who succeed in their respective fields are respected and mistakenly, are even considered lucky. It has different meanings for different people but the fundamental characteristic of success is, accomplishing what you really want to do. On a minute, day-to-day level it might be reaching your office on time on the first day of the week and on a grander level, it might be completing a novel, getting it published and ensuring that your book can reach as many readers as possible.

The real problem is not lack of dedication and effort, as the writer of this article says, it is lack of focus.

How often do you have something you want to achieve (i.e. lose weight, gain muscle, start a business, travel more) … only to end up confused by all of the options in front of you and never make progress?

Success and focus

Life is full of options. In fact there are so many options that it becomes hard for us to decide what to pursue and what to neglect. You like to write, but you’re also into sports. You think that you are an above-average singer, but you also want to become a research scholar. You have always wanted to be a painter but the compulsions of the society want you to be a businessperson, a doctor or an engineer. You want to do social work but you also daydream about driving an Audie. Like a restless bird you hop from one branch to another and eventually this becomes your undoing. In order to succeed in life, you need to focus on one particular thing.

This is the difference between successful people and people who haven’t tasted success yet. Successful people, whenever they do, focus on just a single thing, a single pursuit, a single goal. After they have decided what they want to do, they stop worrying about all the other things they have “always” wanted to do. If you want to be a singer, then stop worrying about being a doctor or being an engineer. If you want to be a doctor then quit spending time on activities that don’t contribute towards that goal. Your full attention should be on that one single thing that you want to do in order to experience success.

Does it have to be a monumental task? It depends on what you want to achieve. Of course the goals need to be realistic. If you want to be a rocket scientist working at MIT when for the past 30 years you have been working in the accounts department of a local firm then of course you will need to work really, really hard. But if you want to be a novelist all you have to do is work one page at a time, or even one sentence at a time. All the time that up till now you have been spending trying to improve other things you will need to put it into your writing effort. To be totally sincere with your time, you should also cut down your time on entertainments and other needless pursuits. The one thing that you shouldn’t neglect though, is your health, because your health directly affects your performance.

So make a list of things that cause confusion in your life. Encircle that one thing you need to focus on and cross out the rest.

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to look good while chatting on a WebCam

Chatting on a WebCam can be a great experience. Whether you’re using Skype, Google Hangout or even iChat, you want to look good, not just for the sake of making a good impression, but also to show respect to the person on the other side. Now, I don’t mean to say that you necessarily have to look like Megan Fox or George Clooney on your WebCam in order to seem respectful; what I mean is, it does you no harm to create a nice environment and this includes making your face appear as clear and clean to the other party as possible. Here are a few things you can do.

Sit in a well-lit area

If you’re sitting in a dark area your image to the other person will appear to be ghostly and grainy. So sit in a well-lit area before initiating a WebCam meeting. Switch on as many lights in your room as possible. If it’s day, you can open your windows because natural light is best. The more light you have the better you will look in the camera.

You should be facing the source of light

Cameras tend to focus more on brighter objects compared to those objects that aren’t getting much light. So if the light is coming from behind the WebCam it will absorb all that light, ending up neglecting your face. So make sure that the light on your face is coming from behind the camera so your face is well-lit when it is being broadcast.

It helps to tidy yourself up

Looking good on WebCam

A dishevelled look, well, looks dishevelled in a WebCam. No matter how brilliant the lighting is and where you are sitting, if you haven’t washed your face, tidy up your hair and clean off those patches of oil and pollution on your forehead, nose and chin, you cannot expect to look great. Wash your face, comb, and as much as possible, try to look your best.

Do not have a cluttered background

The more objects in front of the camera vie for its attention, the less it is going to focus on your face. It doesn’t mean that you should have a plain background, but make something decent. You can have a curtain. You can also have a bookshelf that is neatly arranged. There can be a window if it is not hogging up all the light. The basic point is, your background can be very important.

Use good quality hardware for your WebCam

The quality of your WebCams matters a lot. Have a good-quality WebCam and if possible don’t rely on the inbuilt WebCams. Get an external one, preferably the one that comes with its own light arrangement (they are not very expensive). Your network connection can also make a difference so if possible, use an Ethernet cable to connect to the Internet rather than your Wi-Fi.

Position your WebCam at the level of your eyes if possible

If your WebCam is placed on the side, resting on the table or dangling somewhere high above the monitor, you will appear to be looking at somewhere else while talking and this may not look good. Although it is not possible to place the WebCam in the middle of the monitor (so that you can appear to be directly looking at the person), still, if you can manage to raise the height of the camera to the level of your eyes it can improve the situation considerably.

Got some more suggestions on how you can improve your appearance while talking on your WebCam? You can leave them in the comments section.

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to give a great speech to an audience

Hemingway once stated that giving a speech was one of the greatest fears of his life. In fact he also wrote a small essay on how to overcome this fear and deliver a speech that makes a great impact on your audience.

Whether you want to deliver a speech at a marriage ceremony or at a business convention, you may face difficulty if you have an inherent fear of speaking in front of an audience. What if there is no escape and your career depends on your ability to talk in front of scores of people? Are you going to pass on the opportunity or are you going to brace up for it? The fact that you’re reading this blog post means that you are preparing to brace up for it. That’s really great. Here are a few things you can take care of in order to deliver a great speech to an audience and make a lasting impact.

Delivering great speech

Be comfortable with your subject

You don’t fumble when you know your subject inside out. The moment you start thinking that your audience may know more than you do it is going to be catastrophic, unless you’re able to handle that situation using your sense of humor and creativity. Otherwise, spend ample amount of time researching your topic and strengthen your weaker areas. Cover all the questions and topics you think your audience may ask you or may expect you to talk about them.

Don’t learn the speech “by heart”

Learning a speech by heart basically means reading it from a paper and if you want to do that, why not simply distribute your printed speech to your audience? They are not there to listen to your voice; they are here to listen to you. Once you have become comfortable with your subject (as mentioned above) prepare it to speak without reading verbatim. It is helpful to create small notes you can occasionally refer to in case you cannot recall certain facts, but don’t try to learn every word of your speech. If you do that, in case you forget something, there is a chance that you will forget the entire speech. Further, when you learn a speech by rote, you sound very monotonous and weird.

Focus on delivering a message rather than a speech

Why do you want to deliver a speech? It is certainly not a performance. You have got something useful to offer and you want to share it with your audience. Their lives will be richer after your speech compared to their lives before your speech. So when you are preparing your speech focus on the value you’re going to provide. Your audience is going to be grateful to you. They are the recipients and you are the provider. Constantly remind yourself that.

Most people are too busy to judge you

Do you think that most of the people sitting in the audience are constantly judging you? Contrary to the popular misconception people are not spending their time judging you, they’re trying to understand what you are saying. They are already impressed that you have the courage to stand in front of everybody and deliver a speech. Remember that just as you have fears of talking in front of an audience, most of the people sitting in front of you have somewhat similar fears. The mere fact that you have overcome that fear impresses people and they respect you. After that even if you fumble and even if you forget a few lines, they are not bothered. They want to assimilate as much as you are communicating. If they have paid for the talk, they have all the more reason to spend less time on judging you and more time on retaining what you’re saying.

Don’t try too hard at trying to impress people

Everybody is grown up here. Just as people are not there to judge you, they are also not there to be impressed by you. They are just interested in what they can get out of the speech. If you spend your effort trying to impress them then the focus will shift to that act instead of the real purpose of the speech. Focus on that. Watch a few videos of Steve Job. He would wear the same dress and assume the same way of talking no matter how many speeches he delivered. He did that because for him the speech and its content were important rather than how he looked and how he talked.

So these are a few things you can keep in mind while preparing your speech.

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to improve your SEO by creating relevant content

Webmasters and online publishers have learned it the hard way that merely focusing on keywords while creating content doesn’t help you much in terms of improving your SEO. It used to work until a few years ago, but it no longer does for the simple reason that search engines want to bring out quality, useful content rather than spammy content for their users. In order to enjoy better search engine rankings and consequently, improve your business on the web, you need to become relevant to your users. It also makes sense in the conventional sense. Just imagine, if you constantly indulge in pointless tactics to attract people to your business, are they can to work? Misleading people to your website can get people to it, but they won’t turn them into your paying customers and clients. For that you need to present to them content that is relevant.

Relevant content for SEO

But how do you make your content relevant?

The definition of relevance changes from business to business and theme to theme. Normally there are two reasons people come to your website: to do business with you and to obtain information that can help you decide whether they want to do business with you or not. The first aspect is taken care of by your inventory and your listing of services. The second aspect, the information they are seeking, the advice they want, needs to exist in the form of content. While creating content for your website you need to think from the perspective of your customers and clients. If you are your a customer, and you come to your website, what information would you seek out in order to make up your mind? What are the questions you want answered? What are your doubts and does the content on your website alley those doubts? Is your content confusing or does it use clear language and articulate expressions to convince you?

You may also like to request another person who is not familiar with your product or service and who doesn’t speak the jargon of your business to take a look at your content; find out how easy or difficult it is for that person to get your message.

What about the keywords?

No doubt keywords still rule the roost but it doesn’t mean you use them indiscriminately. Instead of focusing on keywords, focus on the search terms that can help your prospective customers and clients find you on search engines as well as social media. Rather than using your keywords for SEO purposes, use them to make an impact and use them as an integral part of the language that you use to create your content. Don’t force their presence in every paragraph but use them strategically, for instance your primary keyword should appear in the title of your webpage or blog post. It also helps if it appears in your description because then it gets highlighted on the search engine results and this makes people click your link more.

More than generally keywords, use longer keyword combinations that can be better targeted. “Plumbing jobs” won’t get you as much traffic as “24-hour plumbing jobs”, or “Bay Area plumbing jobs” or even “Latin American plumbing jobs in Bay Area”. The more information you can pack in your keywords, the better are going to be your ranking prospects.

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Your Android device can be open to serious threat

According to this news report in The Register more than 99% of Android phones can leak secret account credentials.

The weakness stems from the improper implementation of an authentication protocol known as ClientLogin in Android versions 2.3.3 and earlier, the researchers from Germany’s University of Ulm said. After a user submits valid credentials for Google Calendar, Contacts and possibly other accounts, the programming interface retrieves an authentication token that is sent in cleartext. Because the authToken can be used for up to 14 days in any subsequent requests on the service, attackers can exploit them to gain unauthorized access to accounts.

This vulnerability exists in Android 2.3.3 and earlier versions of the smart phone operating system. The problem is that the authentication token generated by Android is sent in cleartext (without encryption) and on top of that it can be used for up to 14 days after being generated, hackers can easily use it to log into your various online accounts.

Although Google has released a patch to solve this problem it only works for Android 2.3.4 and Android 3.0. Which means 99% of these phones are still vulnerable.

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How to make your social media and other online accounts more secure

As we put more and more information such as our regular updates, details about our studies and qualifications and job profiles, and images and videos of our family members and friends on social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and other online accounts, it is becoming increasingly important to keep our accounts as secure as possible.

According to a startling fact mentioned in this Mashable blog post, the Google and Amazon accounts of the Wired senior tech reporter Mat Honan were hacked and consequently he lost one year’s worth of pictures of his newborn daughter. Well, that is why it is extremely important that you take both off-line and online backups of your important data such as the book or novel you’re working on, the blog posts that you have published over so many years, and of course, photographs and videos of your loved ones.

Although most of the mainstream social media websites and other online services like Google and Dropbox have many inbuilt security features, what can one do if the servers themselves are hacked? If the hackers can directly access your data, no layer of user security is going to help you. Nonetheless, big attacks like reaching the servers themselves are normally rare and it is the small-time actors that normally try to get access to your sensitive information in order to cause mischief. Most of such activities can be deterred by using multiple levels of authentication.

Go to the blog post and check out what steps you can take to make your social media and other online accounts more secure.

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to overcome excessive self-criticism

Excessively self-critical

Excessive self-criticism can really jeopardize not just your career, but also your personal life. They often say that you should be humble and there is nothing wrong in knowing your weak points. But if you do that all the time, it is no longer beneficial and in fact it begins to hold you at every juncture of your life.

According to this article

Excessive self-criticism tends to backfire, because it leads us to focus on our so-called failures instead of the “small ways that we could have improved,” says psychologist Tamar E. Chansky, PhD, author of Freeing Yourself From Anxiety. And over the long term, studies show, self trash-talk is associated with higher stress levels and even depression.

It is a state of mind and an attitudinal posturing that makes you question your own beliefs and doubt every thought and behavior. Whenever you are about to do something, whether physically or intellectually, there is this fog that constantly blurs your vision and creates a scary scenario. You constantly feel demotivated, under-confident an atmosphere of failure engulfs your entire existence and you constantly blame yourself – your acts, your decisions, your experiences – everything related to you becomes blameworthy.

How do you deal with the habit of excessive self-criticism? Here are a few things you can do (assuming it is not a medical condition):

Stop amplifying small errors and mistakes

Although there is nothing wrong in facing the reality in its fullest scale, sometimes we tend to amplify our mistakes simply because we are very critical about ourselves: we judge ourselves quite harshly. Whenever this feeling rises, try to look at it objectively. Is it as bad as it seems? Is it really devastating and is it really going to wreck havoc in your life, or in someone else’s life? Even if some harm has been done, can you easily make amends by some hard work and focused thinking?

You may not develop this tendency immediately but at least you will consciously have to incorporate it into your daily behavior towards yourself. If it helps, also make notes. Right about your feelings. You can create two columns, one with what you are feeling truly (excessively critical about yourself) and the second what the situation really might be.

Realize your true potential realistically and then acknowledge it

Peptalk rarely helps when you are in the grip of excessive self-criticism. People who are highly successful or even highly upbeat don’t have massive potential. Many success stories are situational, circumstantial and very often, lots of persistent, focused hard work. Rarely there are extraordinary people in this world. So realize your true potential and whenever you face failure and you get into these self-critical modes, tell yourself what you can do – realistically – and also that you can do if you put your mind on to it. There is no need to get onto a horse of imagination and fantasy only to feel more depressed and discouraged after a few minutes. The key is, being realistic.

Don’t always imagine the worst case scenario

The article above cites a good example:

Let’s say in a meeting you blurt out that your Spanx are too tight. You think, I’ve just made the biggest fool of myself. Challenge your version of the story: Did everyone really recoil in horror, or were most of them actually tapping on their BlackBerrys under the table?

Sometimes the situation is not as dire as you may think.

Be careful of the choice of words you use while explaining the situation to yourself

Instead of exclaiming, “O my God, what I have done?!” You can tell yourself, “Okay, I have messed up, but there is still some chance to undo the damage, I just need to focus.” When it comes to life, there is never “end of road”. Life is always full of surprises no matter how hopeless the current situation seems.

Read the remaining points in the original link above.

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to stop certain people from accessing your Wi-Fi broadband connection

Once you have a Wi-Fi broadband connection set up inside your home it becomes available to everybody provided they have your username (or SSID) and authentication key. People can hook on to your Wi-Fi connection from a laptop, smartphone or a tablet. If you cannot manually control the connections, even people in your neighborhood can access your Wi-Fi connection and cost you lots of money in case you have an upper limit on the usage of bandwidth.

Sometimes you don’t want people to access your Wi-Fi connection but you don’t want to tell them out of politeness or some other compulsion. For instance if you don’t want your kids to continuously log onto the Internet from their iPads and iPhones and if you stop them from doing that, they will throw a great tantrum. Why not quietly stop the Wi-Fi Internet connection on their devices and then pretend that there is something wrong?

With a little bit of tweaking, you can do that. You can stop certain people from accessing your Wi-Fi broadband connection and they won’t even know that you are doing it manually. Here is how to do that:

Find the MAC address of the device you would like to disconnect or connect. On your computer or laptop running Windows 7 you can easily find the MAC like this:

  • Click the Start menu
  • In the search box type “cmd” (without quotation marks) and press Enter
  • In the DOS prompt type “ipconfig /all” (without quotation marks) and press Enter
  • Whatever information is there opposite “Physical Address” is the MAC address of that computer or laptop. Note it down

On the smartphone or tablet PC you normally have to first go to “Settings” and then tap “About device” or “Device information” and from there you tap “Status”. There you will find your “Wi-Fi MAC address”. Note it down.

Once you have noted down the Wi-Fi MAC address you have to make appropriate changes in your Wi-Fi router setup. This setup you can access via the browser of your computer – preferably the main computer that is connected to your Wi-Fi router via a network cable.

Launch your preferred browser and go to 192.168.1.1. It will ask for the admin and password that you should know. Once you have logged in you have to somehow reach the section that allows you to manipulate your Wireless settings. Each Wi-Fi router may have different interface but normally it is under “Interface Setup”.

Scroll down until you have reached the “Wireless MAC Address Filter” section. By default the setting is deactivated. Click the “Activated” radio button.

Against the “Action” label you see a drop down containing “Allow Association” and “Deny Association”. Accordingly the information (the individual MAC addresses) will be used either to allow Internet connection or deny it.

Suppose you select “Allow Association”.

All the MAC addresses you put herein will be allowed to use the Internet. Whenever you want a particular device denied Internet connection, simply delete the associated MAC address and click “Save”.

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How to insert YouTube videos into your PowerPoint presentations

Do you want to embed YouTube videos into one of your PowerPoint presentations? Inserting a video can always enliven your presentations whether you use videos from your computer or from some online source. And what could be a better online video source than YouTube?

Although the ability to insert videos has been there in the earlier versions of PowerPoint, it’s mostly in Office 2013 that you can use YouTube videos within the presentations. Here is an excellent tutorial that explains how to do it.

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How to install Opera extensions in Google Chrome

Google Chrome and Opera

If you have been using Opera and Google Chrome simultaneously you don’t have to miss the extensions and apps that both these browsers use. Google has come up with a new Webkit-based engine for Google Chrome and the same engine is used in Opera Next. The greatest advantage of having the same rendering engine is that the extensions used by both the browsers can be interchanged; that is, you can install Opera extensions in Google Chrome and vice versa.

Why would you install Opera extensions in Google Chrome

For the similar reason why you seek the same apps when using different operating systems. You get used to certain functionalities and you would like them to be available wherever you work. Browsers these days have become complete environments in themselves and you find yourself doing technically everything from within your browser. It also means running some extensions and apps that you would otherwise use as standalone software applications.

Here is how you can install Opera extensions in Google Chrome (presuming you have both the browsers installed on your machine):

As mentioned above, both Google Chrome (preferably 28) and Opera Next must be installed on your computer.

Launch Opera and go to the add-ons page. It auto detects which version of Opera you are running and displays compatible extensions accordingly. In order to be able to install Opera extensions in Google Chrome you must be running Opera 15 while browsing the store.

Find the extension you want to install in Google Chrome but don’t “Add to Opera”, instead right-click and then from within context menu, click “Save Linked Content As…” It will let you save the extension file with .nex on your computer.

Access the .nex file on your computer and change its extension as .crx.

Now launch Google Chrome and drag-and-drop this .crx file onto it. After granting the permission to install the file, the extension will be added to it.

Do all the extensions work? Not necessarily but most do. The only downside is both Opera Next and Google Chrome must be installed on your computer in order to exchange extensions.

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

How to change or customize the Start Screen in Windows 8.1

A big nag in Windows 8 was that you couldn’t customize the start screen in an easier manner. The way it came, the way it stayed. There has been an improvement in Windows 8.1 in this regard. In order to make its operating system more mobile device-friendly Microsoft is constantly endeavoring to introduce features that have been long available in smart phones and tablets. You may want to read From where can you download the preview version of Windows 8.1.

Once you have installed the operating system, right-click anywhere on the start screen and you encounter an app bar (somewhere at the bottom) and from there you can click the “Customize” button. Once you are in the “Customize” mode you can easily drag and drop the various tiles without running the risk of launching them. You can also click multiple tiles and then drag and drop them together.

Here is a nice video on the new features introduced in Windows 8.1:

Aside from moving them you can also unpin the tiles if you don’t need those apps. From the same section you can also uninstall the apps and even resize the tiles in some cases. The sizes of the tiles are predefined but if you want to enlarge the tiles of your favorite apps and reduce the size of those apps that you don’t use often, you can do that.

Another good feature is that you can group the tiles and the various sections to be able to organize them and access them in a better manner. You can rename existing groups or create a new group.

A welcome change is that the Start button is back. You can right-click on it to toggle between the old conventional view and the new view of the desktop.

You can read more on the customizing features of the Windows 8.1 start screen at this CNET.com link.

Home » Articles posted by Sarah Watts

Create animated GIF file from video using Photoshop

It can be fun to create animated gif files out of videos you have on your computer. If you already have Photoshop installed on your PC or laptop you don’t require any other software in order to achieve this. Whether you want to convert an existing video into a gif file or want to create an animation from scratch, you can easily achieve in Photoshop.

But why create a gif file and not use the original video? Well, first of all, it is difficult to embed a video compared to embedding an image file. Second, what if you want to convert only a certain timeline portion of the video? Again, you can download a video editing software and then extract that second portion.

A fun thing about creating a gif file is that it can run in a loop without much effort. Take for instance this gif file:

spring-board-overshot

Here is a step-by-step tutorial on how to create an animated gif file out of a video using Photoshop.