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Date: Tuesday, 26 Aug 2014 14:01

You most likely know of or have heard of Jeff Bezos. After all, he’s the man behind Amazon.com, the largest e-retailer in the world. When you get right to it, he is the man who has revolutionized the way we shop today. He basically paved the way for online shopping and created a trend for other entrepreneurs to follow.

With his net worth currently at $28.8 billion, this places him at No. 21 on Forbes’ World’s Billionaires list. But even a wealthy man like Jeff Bezos had to start somewhere right? In this article, we take a quick glimpse at his life so far. From his childhood to the causes he holds dear, here are 20 interesting things that you probably didn’t know about Jeff Bezos.

The man who raised him wasn’t his biological father

Jeffrey Preston Jorgensenlit was born on 12 January, 1964 to Jacklyn Gise Jorgensen and Ted Jorgensen. They got divorced after only being married for a year. His mother later on married another man, Miguel “Mike” Bezos, who adopted Jeff legally at the age of 4.

Source: Biography.com

Image Source: Achievement.org

young-jeff-bezos
Just a boy who adored his grandfather

Jeff Bezos’ maternal grandfather, Lawrence Preston Gise worked as Regional Director at the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. He played a big role in Jeff’s life and was the one who got him interested in computers.

Source: Wired.com

Image Source: Achievement.org

lawrence-preston-gise
Jeff was simply fueled by his curiosity

Jeff has a passion for fixing things and figuring out how things work. He was always one step ahead of others, as evident by his desire to be be a “space entrepreneur” from a young age.

Source: Wired.com

Image Source: Biography.com

jeff-bezos-with-computer
Inventing and creating has always been his passion

He was always inventing something: a solar cooker, hovercraft, a robot, lasers and an electric alarm; the alarm worked as a security system to keep his siblings out of his room.

Source: Biography.com

jeff-bezos-technology
Became his high school valedictorian and proved himself to be intelligent

Jeff Bezos was considered an intelligent student as he was his high school’s valedictorian.

He studied physics at Princeton University but later changed his degree for Computer Science and Electrical Engineering instead.

Source: Achievement.org

Image Source: Snakkle.com

jeff-bezos-2
How he learnt that kindness doesn’t come easily

In his 2010 Princeton University commencement speech, Jeff Bezos talked about how he made his grandmother cry by telling her off about her smoking.

His grandfather then told him, “Jeff, one day you’ll understand that it’s harder to be kind than clever.”

Source: Princeton.edu

Image Source: Npr.org

jeff-bezos-princeton-university-2010
Jeff switched jobs

He was first employed with Fitel, a startup telecom company which lasted for 2 years.

After quitting a stable job at Bankers Trust, he went to work with D.E. Shaw, an investment management firm on Wall Street.

Source: Biography.com


jeff-bezos-black-and-white
Fell in love with a colleague

Mackenzie (Tuttle) Bezos was his colleague at D.E. Shaw. They got married in 1993 and after a year, they moved to Seattle to start Amazon.com.

Source: WSJ.com

Image Source: Edge.org

They adopted a daughter together from China

Jeff and MacKenzie have three sons including one daughter. Their daughter is adopted from China.

Source: CNN.com

Image Source: Dailymail.co.uk

jeff-and-mackenzie-bezos-2
Quit his stable job to start Amazon.com

Jeff Bezos quit his position as a senior vice president at D.E. Shaw to start Amazon.com.

He rented a house and worked from his garage with his first employee, Shel Kaphan.

Source: Wired.com

Image Source: Geekwire.com

amazon-com-garage
Before Amazon.com, the company had several names

Before he settled on Amazon.com, the company was also known as Cadabra or Relentless.com.

Amazon.com was named after the South American river. And the logo bears an arrow from A to Z, indicating that customers can buy anything from A to Z on the site.

Source: TheGuardian.com

Image Source: Amazon Media Room

Jeff is a believer of small teams

Jeff Bezos believes in the “Two Pizza Rule”: if a team cannot be fed with two pizzas, it’s too large. To him, independent thought should prevail over groupthink.

Source: FastCompany.com

Image Source: MT.nl

The man is still frugal to this day

His frugality showed early on when he founded Amazon.com from his garage, as he turned a wooden door into a table.

Up to this day, the tables in the Amazon office use the same door-desk model.

Source: Businessweek.com

Image Source: Artdaily.org

Generous when it comes to a good cause

When one of his employees, Jennifer Cast asked for donation of about $100,000 for a same-sex marriage cause in Washington, Jeff and his wife donated $2.5 million instead.

Source: NYTimes.com

Image Source: FreedomToMarry.org

Jeff will take out the competition if he needs to

He is a highly competitive man who would not give up hounding competitors with cutthroat discounts just to put them out of business.

His competitior, Quidsi, responsible for Diapers.com, was acquired after Bezos made relentless attacks with heavy discounts and offers to match Diapers.com

Source: SeattleTimes.com

Image Source: WashingtonPost.com

Not one to tolerate incompetency

Not a fan of complacency, Jeff Bezos also does not tolerate with incompetency in his company.

Some direct insults he used against his employees were, “Are you lazy or just incompetent?” or “ We need to apply some human intelligence to this problem.

Source: Forbes.com

Image Source: Flickr.com

jeff-bezos
Was almost involved in a fatal accident

In 2003, Jeff Bezos had a helicopter accident that gave him minor head lacerations.

During the accident, instead of the life flashing before his life bit, he thought that it would be a silly way to die. He has now sworn off helicopters.

Source: FastCompany.com

Image Source: TheSmokingGun.com

Bought himself a newspaper company

Jeff Bezos made headlines in 2013 when he bought the Washington Post for $250 million.

He wrote in the Post about his intention to keep things the same there but mentioned that future changes were inevitable.

Source: WashingtonPost.com

Image Source: Dailymail.co.uk

The explorer in him is keen on space travel

Ever since he was a child, he was immensely interested in aerospace. In 2000, he started a space company, Blue Origin, LCC with the vision to bring down the cost of space travel so everyone can go into the space.

Source: Forbes.com

Image Source: Blueorigin.com

The next step? Amazon Prime Air

His latest project, “Amazon Prime Air” uses drones to deliver their products and services to customers. However, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not yet approved the project as the rules and regulations does not allow the use of drones for commercial purposes. Despite that, Jeff Bezos is hopeful to make it a reality within the next few years.

Source: USAToday.com

Image Source: Amazon.com








Author: "Guest Contributor" Tags: "amazon, Web 2.0, entrepreneurs, Jeff Bez..."
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Date: Tuesday, 26 Aug 2014 10:37

So you’ve decided you want to be an entrepreneur. You’ve read all those motivational articles about billionaire entrepreneurs who’ve failed in the past. You feel confident in your resilience. Your thinking goes: "Even if I fail, I will surely keep at it, keep developing new businesses. Success is bound to occur thanks to the law of averages, if nothing else!” You are right, young padawan! Indeed, you are right!

via unsplash.com

You’ve gone ahead and chosen a hot industry (hopefully the mobile one) and you’ve assembled a competent team around you. You’re ready to go!

Well, let me give you one last piece of information before you hit the road. Let me share with you the last piece of the puzzle, the billion-dollar (let’s aim high) paradox nobody talks about. And you’ll never become a billionaire if you don’t understand this paradox! Understand it, use it and big wealth will be one step closer to you!

But first thing’s first: let’s set up a bit of context. We need to analyze how the business game works, understand the hidden shadowy workings of the game and truly comprehend how its players interact with each other. We’ll do this by first listing a few minor paradoxes which all lead to the big one. Ready? Set? Let’s go.

Paradox #1: Entrepreneurs Hate Jobs

Yes, they do. Entrepreneurs are generally not businessmen or managers. Take a typical businessman for a second. He enjoys having a 9-to-5 job. He thrives in that sort of corporate environment. Almost all businessmen love departmentalization. They love to have small plaques on doors with abbreviations such as H.R. or R & D, and they really enjoy working with accountants. That’s business folks for you.

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate businesspeople. And while we all love and need them, I trust that you don’t want to be one. You want to be an entrepreneur, right?

How An Entrepreneur Thinks

In general, entrepreneurs couldn’t care less about that neat, structured corporation paradigm. Real entrepreneurs hate the illusion of security a ‘9 to 5′ job brings.

Entrepreneurs are ‘shouting leaders’. They’re entropic. Messy. Heterogeneous. As a consequence, they all pretty much hate accounting. Entrepreneurs have more enthusiasm (compared to businessmen) for starting new ventures and they’re usually more risk-happy.

They generally put more value on how their business impact real people as opposed to cold numbers, quarterly profits or share prices for their investors. As you might expect, investors have a love-hate relationship with entrepreneurs and obviously prefer corporate businessmen to manage their money.

Paradox #2: Entrepreneurs Can’t Handle Growth

While being an entrepreneur is awesome, a paradox tends to occur. Entrepreneurs are less fit to run their businesses in the long run, precisely because of their intrinsic volatile nature. If you’re an entrepreneur, you always want to start something new, grow a new business or invest in a long-shot idea that will change the planet. This sort of approach is tons of fun, but it can, and usually does backfire.

The "screw it, let’s do it” idiom first preached by billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson sounds great on paper and works superbly for startups, but it’s not that good when you’re running a medium or corporate-size business. That requires full focus. That requires a safe-player at the helm, somebody who plays the game of business more cautiously.

When you run a big company, there’s dozens or even hundreds of employees and millions of dollars worth of venture capital investment at stake. You can’t really afford to gamble that away. All this amounts to yet another paradox. Even though, after understanding all of this, you would think that entrepreneurs are not the most likely candidates to become filthy rich… the opposite is true.

Paradox #3: Most billionaires in the world are entrepreneurs

Yes, most billionaires in the world are entrepreneurs instead of businesspeople. They’re entrepreneurs who’ve figured out how to transform their businesses from full-time jobs to automated systems. They do this by employing a good businessman for a CEO, standing back and letting that guy run with the ball (hence letting the company grow). Once such an automated business is fully set up, the entrepreneur shifts his attention to another business – that’s how the cycle rolls.

Make no mistake, billionaires hate having a ‘job‘, just like you and me! So, why not hire a businessman who loves doing a job?

Most entrepreneurs who are also billionaires have learned how to deal with businessmen. They’ve learned how to recruit them and place them at the top of their growing start up. They’ve learned how to leverage CEOs and operational management for the sake of automating their businesses. And that’s how entrepreneurs turn their ‘startup job’ into an automated business.

That’s exactly how they become billionaires!

Finding The Right Guy

The only remaining problem you’d have (should you chose this strategy as a path towards billions) is to supervise your selected businessman and make sure he does a great job. It’s a win/win situation. You’ll have more free time to try your luck with another venture, and the businessman gets what he wants: a secure 9-to-5 job.

Keep Entrepreneuring!

While supervising the CEO you’ve selected from the pool of corporate suits, make sure to restart the process. Try to grow as many companies as possible. Throw different things at the wall and see what sticks. If one grows fast enough and you feel you’ve reached the point where your "screw it, let’s do it” type of management doesn’t apply anymore, go head-hunting for CEO-like businessmen to employ.

Sadly, those CEOs will never become billionaires. But you will. I truly hope you will. You’ll soon have dozens of automated businesses, and you’ll be racking in the cash! But hey, it’s not all about the money, right? Or… is it?








Author: "Victor Balasa" Tags: "Web 2.0, entrepreneurs, billionaires"
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Date: Monday, 25 Aug 2014 16:47

No more having to bring your thumb drives or portable hard disks along wherever you go because cloud-based storage services are here to stay. From Google Drive to Dropbox, these cloud solutions store your data online and provide you with the ease of accessing them at any place and time where Internet connection is available.

via pixabay

The convenience does seems tempting, but uploading your personal data to a cloud provider undoubtedly raises a couple of security concerns. For one, you can never be sure of who else could be accessing these sensitive information.

That being said, we can always protect our data from unauthorized access if we just make some extra efforts. Here are a couple of practical tips to keep your cloud data as secure as it gets.

1. Back Up Data Locally

Rule No.1 when it comes to managing data is to always have a backup for your data. Generally speaking, it is good practice to create electronic copies for any of your data so that you will still be able to access them even when the original is lost or has been corrupted. There are many cloud storage services available in the market today, which means you can set up some cloud accounts for backup purposes.

If you have data in the cloud, you should also manually backup your data in an external physical storage drive or device, like a hard disk or a thumb drive. This also allows you to access the information when you have poor or no Internet connection.

2. Avoid Storing Sensitive Information

I doubt there’s such a thing as real privacy on the internet, so personally I wouldn’t trust storing my top secret files in the cloud. Call it paranoia, but identity theft is on the rise and I just don’t want to risk any of that. In any case, we probably don’t have to look at our most sensitive data through the cloud on a 24/7 basis.

My advice is to keep only those files which you need to access frequently and avoid putting up documents containing passwords for your various online accounts or personally identifiable information (PII) such as your credit card numbers, national identification number, home address, etc.

If you must include these information in your files, make sure to encrypt them before you upload.

3. Use Cloud Services That Encrypt Your Data

One of the easiest way to safeguard your privacy when using cloud storage services is to look for one that offers local encryption for your data. This provides an additional layer of security since decryption will be required before you can be granted access to the data.

Otherwise known as the zero-knowledge proof in cryptographic, this method will even protect your data against the service providers and administrators themselves. While keeping data encrypted in the cloud may be good enough, it would be even better if the cloud service also ensures encryption during the uploading and downloading phases. This can be done using military-grade Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) (256 bits), which services like DrivePop adopts.

With the additional step of encrypting and decrypting your data, you may realise that syncing your files with your cloud drive takes a little while. That said, this is a necessary pain to go through if you want the documents to be accessible to you and you alone.

4. Encrypt the Data Before Putting it on The Cloud

If you choose not to use a cloud service that will help you encrypt the data, you can use a third-party tool to perform the encryption. All you got to do is download a cloud-protection app which will allow you to apply passwords and generate secret key sequences to your files before you actually upload them to the cloud.

Even if you’re already opting for an encrypted cloud service, it wouldn’t hurt to go through a preliminary round of encryption for your files to get a little extra assurance.

5. Read the Small Print of the Cloud Service Provider

Besides storing your data, some cloud services allow you to share your photos and files with others. This definitely sounds appealing, but sometimes these services come with a catch. There might be some fine print that they don’t advertise but will stuff in their Terms of Service (TOS) to make it legitimate.

For instance, back in 2011, Twitpic wrote in their TOS that sharing your pictures on their service gives them the right to ‘use or distribute‘ the pictures. They later apologised but further clarified that they can distribute the securing-cloud-data on Twitpic and affiliated partners, although the final copyright still belongs to the owner of the photographs.

While not exactly a dedicated cloud storage service, Twitpic puts forward a good case for why you should be cognisant of what to expect from your cloud provider, especially with regard to their security and privacy policies. Try to research online to find out if there are any bad reviews or caveats that you should be wary about. This will put you in a more informed position before you go ahead with their services.

6. Use a Strong Password / Apply Two-Step Verification

As the first line of defence against malicious hackers out there, you had better be sure that your password can stand a hacking or cracking attempt. There are tons of tips on the Internet on what makes for a good password. Aside from going for a strong and unique password, make sure to change it frequently and not repeat it across all other online accounts you have.

Alternatively, you may go for the much more secure two-step verification for your login if your cloud service offers the option. In the case for Google Drive, users have to login to their Google account first in order to use the cloud storage service. Two-step verification can be turned on for Google accounts – a verification code sent to the mobile phone gives the much needed added security on top of just your password to be able to access your cloud data.

7. Be Wary of Your Online Behaviour

Sometimes, the security of your cloud data depends on what you do online, especially on public computers or connections. When using a public computer, do you opt to not save your password, and ensure that you logged out of your account after you are done? Saving your password and leaving it logged in exposes you to the risk of strangers accessing your data.

via http://pixabay.com/en/computer-computers-keyboard-338968/

Do you tend to connect open and unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots in public places to log in to your cloud account? Such connections are typically unencrypted, which means that whatever you do while connected can be ‘sniffed‘ by a hacker on the same network. This can even include your login credentials for your cloud account! Just check out this useful article from NoWiresSecurity depicting what these hackers can actually see from unencrypted wireless networks.

8. Protect Your System with Anti-Virus & Anti-Spy

You may be using a secure cloud service provider which you absolutely trust, but sometimes the weakest link happens to be the computer system you’re logging in from. Without proper protection for your system, you expose yourself to bugs and viruses that provide penetration points for hackers to access your account.

Take for instance the presence of a Keylogger Trojan which attempts to track all your keystrokes. By embedding this malicious software to seemingly legitimate files, hackers will be able to get hold of your user ID and password if your system isn’t well protected enough to detect it, and if the login isn’t secured and encrypted.








Author: "Michael Poh" Tags: "cloud hosting, Web 2.0, cloud data, secu..."
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Date: Monday, 25 Aug 2014 10:55

Designers, put your hands up! Today, we’re busting the widely held myth of the style, that elusive ‘je ne sais quois’ that creative professionals everywhere dream of achieving.

Yes, it’s good to show everyone that you’re an experienced creative who can put your personal mark on everything you touch, but there’s a dark side to style as well. What is it, you ask? Read on and we’ll find out.

Styling The Bull By The Horns

There is a famous etching series by Picasso, in which he drew 12 bulls in 12 different styles. The bulls are arranged side-by-side, and range from ultra-realistic, to ultra-stylized. This classic piece is a very clear example that, in the right hands, any style can be interesting, creative, and fresh.

via teacollection.com

As designers, we need to keep in mind that style is ever-changing. What might be the latest thing one year will be completely boring to clients and viewers the next. Style is a good thing to have, but you don’t want to become so stuck on one style that you fail to see the overall evolution of design as a whole.

This applies to all areas of design, from advertising to fashion, and there are numerous examples of designers who, once their famous style had lost its place in the sun, couldn’t find anyone to hire them.

You don’t want to be one of these designers. But at the same time, you don’t want to be a flaky, ineffective designer either, known for switching up their style far too often. The question, then becomes…

How Loyal Should You Be To Your Style?

There are plenty of good reasons to stick with an overall expression of style in your professional work. It identifies your work as yours to potential clients, for one thing. It also allows you to increase your rates for design work as people begin to request your specific style.

But on the downside, once your style is no longer relevant, or becomes a cliché, your client roster will dry up faster than autumn leaves on the ground. There’s nothing that will turn users away faster than a design that looks like last season’s leftovers. Despite controversial opinions on the subject, this is neither good nor bad: it’s simply how we all react to trends and novelty.

As you gain more experience over the years, it unfortunately becomes harder to adapt your style to the changing times. I’m sure you’ve seen work by a designer you used to admire, but who now seems dated and overexposed. What happened? Did their work suddenly become bad? No – it just got, well, stuck.

Getting (And Staying) Un-Stuck

The more you introduce routine to your brain, the more accustomed your brain becomes to doing that one thing, the the more resistant it will be to trying anything new. This is why it’s so hard to break old habits or take up new ones.

Keeping your brain alert with new experimentation in your free time will prevent you from having to start from scratch once your style starts to fade from popularity. I’ve written before about how important it is to have personal projects – it can’t be overstated enough.

Other than reading, personal work is the most important thing you can do for your design career. And the more you experiment and try new things, the more likely it is that you’ll find yourself at the front of the next trend, rather than bringing up the rear.

Try For Timelessness

No matter what the window dressing may look like, the fundamentals of design will never change. Having a solid understanding of composition, color, layout, and typography will carry you through the whims and whirlwinds of style, allowing you to adapt your design expertise to any visual trick clients may be looking for.

It’s impossible to say, of course, what will become timeless over the years, but if you study the classic examples of design, they will almost always have the basics in common. Strong composition, effective type, eye-catching layout, just the right combination of design elements to get the message across to viewers.

Design is not like art: it’s more objective than subjective. There are certain elements that make a “good” design that we all can see, and if you know what they are, your clients will always trust you to bring them out.

If you remember to keep your brain supple and flexible, and always keep the basics in mind, the idea of having one, unchanging style will start to seem more and more passé.

What Do You Think?

What are your thoughts on style? How important do you think it is to a designer’s career and potential for success?








Author: "Addison Duvall" Tags: "dynamic design, Web Design"
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Date: Saturday, 23 Aug 2014 13:01

A little bit of make up can go a long way when it comes to transforming someone’s appearance. Some girls use it to cover their blemishes while others use it as a form of self expression. Laura Jenkinson, who is from the UK, is a makeup artist that takes it to another level altogether. How so? Well, using her makeup skills, she uses different parts of her body as a canvas to create kooky and impressive works of art.

Armed with various techniques and different sorts of inspiration, she brings to life her own ideas and some pretty recognizable cartoon characters from our childhood. Occasionally, she even uses props to make it more believable. From a grazing cow to Pumbaa from the Lion King, you’ll be amazed at her awesome makeup skills. Take a look below at just some of the work she’s done and if you want more, you can check out her Facebook page here.








Author: "Anastassia Irina" Tags: "artwork, makeup, Inspiration"
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Date: Friday, 22 Aug 2014 15:01

Space is big. Really big. And until recently, space exploration was a domain that only involved world governments, as they are the ones that had the capabilities and resources to undertake such a task. Even then, only a select few can go launch to space, again, due to the time and money it takes to train them.

Today, however, we are seeing several non-governmental agencies and companies that aim to bring space travel down to the civilian level, using the advantages that private industry has to offer, such as less bureaucracy and a profit motive. In this post, we will show you 8 non-governmental spaceflight companies that aim to do just that and get you into space and among the stars.

1. Scaled Composites

Founded by Burt Rutan, an aerospace engineer with a reputation for designing strong, lightweight aircraft with unusual designs, Scaled Composites aim is to create experimental and concept aircrafts and provide fabrication for other vehicles. Its claim to fame is winning the Ansari X Prize, which offers $10,000,00 for the the first non-governmental organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space, with their spaceplane, SpaceShipOne.

The spacecraft was funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and he would later partner with Rutan to start a new spaceflight company. Scaled Composites was acquired in 2007 by Northrop Grumman, an aerospace and defence company, with Rutan leaving in 2011. It is now working with several others to develop new spacecrafts to progress civilian spaceflight.

SpaceFlightOne

2. Virgin Galactic

What pie doesn’t the Virgin Group have their fingers in? Starting of with music and then wildly going to nearly every type of venture imaginable, it’s no surprise that Sir Richard Branson would finally set his sights towards the stars. Virgin Galactic is a spaceflight company with aims to provide spaceflights for tourist, science missions and launching small satellites.

They are currently in their testing phase, with their current space plane called SpaceShipTwo, built in conjunction with Scaled Composites. The space planes are launched from a very large plane, as this will give it a higher initial speed and altitude when compared to launching from the ground. George Whiteside, Virgin Galactic CEO, hopes to have commercial services up and running by 2014.

SpaceShipTwo

3. SpaceX

Founded by Tesla Motors CEO and serial entrepreneur Elon Musk, the goal of SpaceX is to reduce space transportation cost, which will help with their their main objective to help humanity colonize Mars. The idea came about with Musk’s idea to build a cheap, reusable spacecraft, similar to the aeroplane.

SpaceX has already accomplished a lot, such as being the first privately funded company to launch and recover a spacecraft and the first company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station. The company today has contracts with several governmental and private entities, NASA being one of them. Ultimately, the end goal of Musk, and by extension, SpaceX, is to colonize Mars, with him quoted as saying that he "would like to die on Mars, just not on impact".

Falcon 1

4. Blue Origin

Blue Origin is the brainchild of Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com. Similar to SpaceX, its aim is to develop technologies that will enable people to get into space cheaply and reliably. The idea for Blue Origin stems from Bezos dream to colonize space and preserve Earth, a dream he’s had ever since he was a teen.

The company relies on the idea of incremental improvement and builds on prior advances. It’s even the company motto, Gradatim Ferociter, Latin for "Step-by-step, Ferociously". The company is known to be tight lipped, but they have performed test flights with two vehicles, Charon and Goddard. They are currently working on the New Shephard, a reusable vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing manned rocket.

via The Museum Of Flight

5. Stratolaunch Systems

Founded by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen and Scaled Composites founder Burt Rutan, Stratolaunch Systems is a aerospace company that specializes in air launch to orbit, which basically means launching stuff to space from an aircraft.

They have not yet made a test flight as they are currently developing their air launch system, the Stratolaunch carrier aircraft. Once completed, it is projected to have a wingspan of 385ft (117m), which would make it the largest airplane to fly, by wingspan. As a comparison, the current holder of the title is the Hughes H-4 Hercules, a.k.a. the Spruce Goose, with a wingspan of 320ft (97.5m).

Stratolaunch Carrier Aircraft

6. Space Adventures

Cofounded by Eric Anderson and several other entrepreneurs, Space Adventures provides space-based tourism to civilians, offering activities such as orbital spaceflights, atmospheric space flights, cosmonaut training and other related activities.

So far, only 7 clients have participated in the orbital spaceflight, famous among them including, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth, Richard ‘Lord British’ Garriott and Cirque de Soleil cofounder Guy Laliberté. The company hopes to soon offer a lunar spaceflight, which will involve circumnavigating the moon.

Mark Shuttleworth Space Adventure

7. Planetary Resources

Cofounded by Eric Anderson and fellow Space Adventure cofounder Peter Diamandis, the long term goal of Planetary Resources is to "expand Earth’s natural resource base" by developing technologies that will enable asteroid mining.

The company already has a list of big and well know investors including Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, filmmaker James Cameron and Perot Systems chairman Ross Perot Jr. Currently, the company is developing low cost space telescopes which will be a first step as it can be used to survey near-Earth asteroids.

Planetary Resources Satelite

8. Bigelow Aerospace

Bigelow Aerospace was founded by Robert Bigelow, a real estate entrepreneur and owner of Budget Suites of America hotel chain. He actually created his real estate empire specifically to fund his aerospace ambitions, as at the age of 12, he viewed the mushroom clouds from the atomic tests near his home town. He then vowed to create a future for man in space and will choose a career that will help him fund such an endeavour.

Currently, the company is developing inflatable space habitats, already launching and testing two modules, Genesis I and II, as well as a private orbital space complex, the Bigelow Commercial Space Station.

Bigelow Space Station Alpha








Author: "Azwan Jamaluddin" Tags: "Web 2.0, technology, space"
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Date: Friday, 22 Aug 2014 11:38

Did you know that the Internet has approximately 3.3 billion indexed pages at the moment–and counting? That translates to a mind-boggling 33 billion links to web content, assuming each page has 10 entries. Let that sink in.

If you’re a reader, that’s way more information than you can consume in a lifetime. If you’re an online content creator, that’s at least a million times larger than the competition you probably had in mind when you first turned to the Internet to make a living — granted, that figure includes every piece of content on every single niche on Earth, but still…

via Ed Gregory

That’s why, as a content creator, it’s no longer enough to be "unique" on the Internet. If that’s the case, then adding a single bullet point to someone else’s blog post, or adding one more tidbit to someone else’s infographic, is all it takes to stand out on the web (because hey, repurposed content is still technically "unique").

No, you must be inimitable. You must:

1. Create Ultimate Guides

Creating an ultimate guide is an almost(!) foolproof way of keeping readers hooked to your content. That’s because the word "ultimate" indicates that your guide is a one-stop article on everything your target readers need to know about your topic.

That said, you must keep a few caveats in mind when you create this type of content. First, make sure your "ultimate guide" lives up to its promise. That means you can’t afford to leave out even a single crucial detail about your topic, lest you end up short-changing your readers.

Second, it won’t hurt to write more creative headlines once in a while. Third, ultimate guides are great for the most part, but as with anything else, too much of a good thing can be bad.

2. Support Your Points With Expert Opinions

To spice up your ultimate guide, or any other type of content for that matter, add a liberal dash of expertise– whether it’s yours, or someone else’s.

If it’s someone else, find a person who’s truly knowledgeable about the topic you have in mind — rather than someone who only has a casual, passing interest — and interview him/her. You can fish out experts-slash-potential-interviewees through friends, family, acquaintances, and even your social media contacts. It’s better if you try to build a good relationship with your interviewee first, but if you’re pressed for time, you can set up the interview as detailed here.

If you are your own expert, on the other hand, you obviously have it much easier. All you have to do is discuss your topic of interest in a clear, informative, and engaging manner for readers who don’t know any better, and you’re good to go.

3. Write Detailed, First-Hand Research

Aside from expert opinions, you can use scientific research to buff up your content. You don’t need a science degree, or even a private laboratory to conduct scientific investigations. If you’re inquisitive, analytical, resourceful, and persistent enough, you can do it just as well as the people who make a living off it. How else do you think early scientists went about their work without modern tools?

In fact, you may be conducting scientific research right now, without even realizing it! If you like generalizing based on personal observation, or you tend to ask "Why?" questions about everything, you can dig deeper than anyone else into your topic of interest, share the details with the rest of the world, and satisfy your (and everyone else’s) curiosity.

For example, let’s say you want to know how much freelancers earn in general. You can uncover this by asking your freelancer friends to answer a survey or posting questions in forums where freelancers usually hang out. Their answers may not necessarily reflect the views of freelancers all over the world, but it’s a good place to start if you want to make solid points in your blog post / infographic / video / podcast about freelancer earnings.

4. Tell Stories

If there’s one form of content that can hold people’s attention better than any other, it’s a story.

Since ancient times, people have used stories to make sense of the world, to pass down knowledge through the generations, and to entertain. Stories are memorable because, while they all follow the same basic pattern (i.e. beginning > conflict > climax > denouement > end), each of them is unique in their own way. That’s why there aren’t really any "good" or "bad" stories; only stories that you can relate to, and stories that you can’t relate to.

Therefore, if you want to present your content as a story, make it unique and relatable at the same time. You can read this article for more details on how to become a better storyteller.

Why Bother with All This?

As you can see, all of these require much more effort than a quick Google search. It would probably be better for your content production levels to not do any of these at all. But if you truly care about your readers, and about transforming the Internet into something more than a cesspool for recycled content, shortcuts aren’t an option.








Author: "Issa Mirandilla" Tags: "Web 2.0, blogger, writing tips, blogging"
Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Thursday, 21 Aug 2014 15:01

Windows 8.1 might have enhanced its built-in security features compared to its predecessors, but you might still need third-party apps that are optimized to help you secure your sensitive data to get the job done right. To that end, we will be listing 10 Windows 8.1 security apps that are primed to keep your images, messages, email and data in general, safe from prying eyes.

There are apps that help you encrypt data for transfer, password generators, hash generators, deletion software (that really wipe out your deleted data, making them exit no more) and more options to help you secure your data online.

NOTE: Download links provided in this article opens the app’s page on the online Windows Store. If you’re using Windows 8.1, then it also opens the app’s page in the Windows Store application on your system.

1. DirectPass

DirectPass is a password manager from the security company, Trend Micro. It’s not just a password manager though, there are many more tools in the same package – password generator, password rating tool, form filler, secure browser, secure notes tool, anti-keylogger and cloud sync tool. It’s even available for other popular platforms: Mac OS X, iOS and Android.

Aside from storing and managing passwords, the password rating tool informs you about unsafe passwords. The secure browser offers a security-enhanced browser for sensitive financial websites to keep you safe from phishing and other attempts to intercept your financial transaction.

Cloud sync tool backs up and synchronizes all your passwords, notes and form-filling information to the cloud and makes them available on your other devices.

[Get it here]

2. Boxcryptor

Most cloud storage providers have opted to not provide file or disk encryption options for your sensitive files. Boxcryptor is a silent, behind-the-wall file encryptor you can use to overcome that disadvantage for your cloud storage. Boxcryptor provides fast and easy encryption, and its unlimited version is available for all major cloud storage providers, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive, SugarSync, Box.net and many others.

Its free version only supports Dropbox but there’s also a “Boxcryptor Classic” which supports Dropbox and Skydrive. Moreover, it’s also available for other platforms: Mac OS X, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, etc.

[Get it here; Get Classic here]

3. Keeper

Keeper is an innovative password manager software, with a multi-layered security approach and that’s why, you can simply trust this software for protecting your logins and passwords. It can handle all of the login forms because of its user-interactive password capture mechanism. Your login data gets organized in folders and can also store an attached note.

Auto-Logout feature automatically logs you out after a specified time so that no person can access your sensitive information while you’re not around. Self-Destruct feature automatically destructs (deletes) the offline password database after 5 failed login attempts. Keeper offers a free service for one offline device. Its premium version offers more features such as cloud backup and sync, data sharing option, web access and many others.

[Get it here]

4. Private Hub

Private Hub is your private secrets keeper, where you can store all sorts of super-sensitive data. It is an encryption program which encrypts your personal data and protects them from prying eyes. It keeps your data secure and safe from unauthorized access.

It has a simple interface and its opening screen displays the list of things which can help you lock up: photos, videos, passwords, accounts, notes and files on your system. It is opened using a master password. Without it, nobody – not even you – can access the locked data. Even if someone get his hands on the encrypted data, he won’t be able to view or open the data without the correct password.

[Get it here]

5. My Personal Crypto Pad

My Personal Crypto Pad implements the OpenPGP data encryption standard into a metro-styled application. It’s developed to solve the two basic problems of computer security: data integrity and data security. Data integrity means verifying that the data is actually sent by the sender and the received data is the original data; data security means providing only authorized access to the data.

My Personal Crypto Pad enables people to check data integrity using digital signatures and secure their data using encryption. You need to create keys and then use those keys to sign or encrypt data and files. It can be tricky at first but the app can improve your online security once you get the hang of it.

[Get it here]

6. Secret Tidings

Secret Tidings is a data security tool which implements steganography to protect your data. Steganography – which means the art of hiding – is a mechanism to secure data by hiding it inside pictures. The idea behind this mechanism is simple – hide the sensitive data inside not-so-sensitive data and thus prevent it being seen. Secret Tidings can be used to create unassuming pictures which you can lock (and unlock) messages and images in, using a password.

The generated picture can then be easily shared or sent via email to a recipient and the recipient can view or unlock the sensitive information inside it using the correct password. This creates two levels of security – one, obscuring the fact that there is a sensitive data being hidden, and two, password-locking the access to it.

[Get it here]

7. HashMe

HashMe lets you create hashes using more than a dozen hash functions. It’s very hard to check the integrity of a file that is transferred over the Internet. Integrity here refers to whether the received file is exactly the same as the sent file or if it had been altered halfway through the transfer by a cracker. The best method to check for integrity is by use of hashes.

HashMe supports creating hashes for text as well as files. Some of the popular hash functions supported are MD5, SHA1, SHA256, RIPEMD, Whirlpool and Tiger. HashMe can be used to check integrity of files sent over email or shared through online storages. It can also be used to check the integrity of downloaded files where the file’s hash is given.

[Get it here]

8. TXTcrypt

TXTcrypt, as its name implies, is a text encryptor. It serves a simple function: to work as an encryption tool which lets you send secret messages to a recipient. It has a pretty simple and straight-forward interface and you can use it to send secure messages via SMS, email or instant messaging services.

TXTcrypt can be used to encrypt textual data and messages with a password. Then the encrypted message can be sent to anyone and nobody else can see the real message even when using any known snooping method. The person with the password will be the only one capable of deciphering the encrypted message and viewing the original, plain message.

[Get it here]

9. Shredder8

Shredder8 is a secure-delete software, packaged as a metro-styled application. It solves the problem of deleting old yet sensitive data. Any digital data, if simply (or insecurely) deleted, can be restored from the disk using a data restoration/retrieval software.

Shredder8 can be used to shred sensitive files or create free space on your storage disk with a thorough data wipe. It supports many secure-delete algorithms such as U.S. DoD, Russian GOST, British HMG IS5 and German BSI VSITR.

[Get it here]

10. Advanced Password Generator

Advanced Password Generator solves the problem of creating strong passwords. No matter how strong the security measures your system has, if it has a weak password, it is an easy entry for people who intend to breach the system and your data enclosure.

However, creating strong, random passwords that you can remember for a long period of time is also hard and time-consuming. Use Advanced Password Generator to generate strong passwords for you. It’s a quick and easy-to-use program. Otherwise you can opt for these other password generators and managers.

[Get it here]

Have we missed any of your favorite security app for Windows 8.1? Let us know at the comments section.








Author: "Ashutosh KS" Tags: "windows, Tools, security, windows 8.1"
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Date: Thursday, 21 Aug 2014 10:01

You have probably heard of Linux as the free alternative to Windows and OS X. It’s one of the most popular free PC operating systems out there and chances are, you are already using it without realizing. Did you know that your Android phone is powered by Linux? It is an incredibly versatile piece of code that can fit the needs of almost any user.

Linux

If you are looking for something different to try on the desktop besides Mac and Windows, you should really give Linux a try. Not only is it free, it is extremely customizable. Similar to Android on the smartphone, you can customize Linux to your heart’s content. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. In order to get into Linux, there are probably a few things you should know first before diving in. In this guide, we will cover what you should know about a Linux operating system on the desktop.

1. What Is Linux?

When someone mentions Linux, it’s always in conjunction with another name, e.g. Fedora Linux, Ubuntu Linux, Android powered by Linux; the list goes on and on. What exactly is Linux anyway? ‘Linux’ refers to the Linux kernel, which is a program that interfaces between the application software and the hardware of a computer. What they all have in common is that they all use the same kernel as the interface between software and hardware. In cases where the computer is referred to as ‘running Linux’, it is running an OS with Linux as the kernel.

via Wikipedia

Some of you may encounter some people insisting that it be called GNU/Linux. This refers to the fact that most of the operating systems that uses Linux gets a large portion of their code from the GNU Project, without which, the Linux kernel itself cannot function. Calling it GNU/Linux is a way to give credit where credit is due. For the sake of simplicity, we will refer all operating systems using the Linux kernel as Linux.

2. Why Is It Free?

Most people know Linux as the free operating system, free here meaning free of charge. That’s right, free of charge, but it also refers to free speech. What this means is that the source code for Linux is available for everyone to view, study and modify, along with sharing their changes with anyone who would like a copy.

Free And Open Source

Compare this to Windows and OS X which, while still popular, are closed source, cannot be studied and cannot be distributed freely. This open nature is one of the main reasons that Linux derived operating systems have been successful, with many people and companies creating their own derivative versions of Linux.

3. What Is A Distro?

A ‘distro’ refers to a distribution of the Linux Operating System, where a person, group or company builds upon Linux and releases it under their name. Examples of popular Linux distros include Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSUSE, among others. While all of them use the Linux kernel, they are all different with what software they include. From the the default software to even the user interface and experience, no two distros are alike.

via Linux Mint Tumblr Page

Each distro brings something different to the table, offering up specific features for specific user sets. However, for a beginner, it is best to start simple, with a distro that offers a simple user experience for people that are new to Linux. The most recommended Linux distro for beginners would be Ubuntu Linux, as it is relatively easy to set up and use and has a lot of support.

4. Will My Hardware Support It?

It used to be that hardware support for Linux was spotty at best, with many components and peripherals not working properly or not working at all. Fortunately, most of that is in the past with the majority of Linux distros being able to run on modern hardware with little to no problem. So chances are your hardware will be able to run it.

via Tom’s Hardware

I say ‘little to no problem’ because there may be times when you might run into an issue or two. While the Linux community have done an amazing job in making sure that the OS will be able to use your hardware, it may still not run. You will have to shoot down for a troubleshooting guide or hope that the manufacturer has provided a proprietary Linux driver for the hardware.

5. Can I Try Before I Install It?

The great thing about most Linux distros is that you are able to try them before installing what you like on your computer. Linux providers provide you with an easy way to try out the OS by way of a Live CD. Download an ISO, burn it, and from there you can boot from the disc so that you can try out a distro before committing to it.

via NotebookNotes.com

If you decided not to install Linux but the idea of carrying a spare OS around with you sounds useful (and really there are many cases where you might want one), you can create a Live USB. Just like a Live CD, a Live USB is a bootable USB drive that can boot Linux on most computers. This way you can have the Linux experience without installing over your computer’s OS.

6. What Is A Desktop Environment?

As you may have noticed when looking over all the various distros, not all Linux Operating Systems have the same look. This is because they are using different desktops environments such as GNOME, KDE, Unity, etc. This is similar to Aero for Windows 7 or Aqua for OS X; they govern the overall ‘look and feel’ of the operating system and the way you use them, having different features and ways of getting things done.

via Wikipedia

The most popular of the desktop environments and the one’s that most distros ship with are GNOME and KDE. As with everything about Linux, if you don’t like something, you have the freedom to change it. If your chosen distro comes pre-installed with an environment that doesn’t suit your taste, you can install your own preferred one instead.

7. Can I Run My Old Windows/Mac Apps?

There is currently no way of running any of your Mac apps on Linux but there is a way to run some of your Windows apps. This is done through the use of a program called Wine, which will allow you to run some of your Windows programs on Linux at native or near-native speed. Not all of your apps will run though, and even when they do, you may encounter some incompatibilities, such as graphical glitches or features that are not working.

via Invasao

Wine is free to download and install but new users may find it difficult to use. In which case there are third party tools that make using Wine much easier to use and are preconfigured to make running certain Windows software much smoother on Linux, a prime example being CrossOver Linux.

8. How Do I Get Apps?

Now that you have a fresh install of Linux, naturally you will want to look at the apps it has to offer. Installing apps on Linux is a different experience compared to Windows or Mac. Unlike the two, where you have to hunt down an EXE or DMG, on Linux you will have to search through your distro’s repository to find what you are looking for.

via Wikipedia

Most of the distros make it easy by having a GUI for you to navigate; Ubuntu easier still by creating their own app store. Sometimes you may not find what you are looking for in the repository, in which case all you have to do is add another repository that contains the item you seek. Updating is also easier due to the repository system, as the OS can find and update all of your installed apps in one go, instead of one at a time.

9. How Do I Get Support?

Just like when you first started using Windows or OS X, you have a few things to learn when starting to use Linux. The good thing is that nowadays Linux is pretty simple to figure out in terms of how to install and use, as most distros have focused on ease of use for the end user. If the majority of your computing task is relatively simple, i.e. web browsing, word processing, chances are Linux will pose no trouble at all.

via Ubuntu

However, there may be times when you need a little help with your operating system. Never fear as Linux has a large fan base and community ready to help you on any issue that you may encounter. Most of the time, troubleshooting Linux will not be that hard, as many can be resolved by typing in something in a command line, of which the community will help you with step-by-step.

10. Can I Still Run My Old OS?

So you’ve installed Linux and while you feel it’s a great OS, you find that there are some things that are just better on your previous one. Usually this pertains to games and and other apps you cannot run on Linux or Wine. The good news is that you can still have the open goodness of Linux alongside your favorite OS. This is done by either using a virtual machine or dual booting.

via VirtualBox

With virtual machines, you get the best of both worlds, running Linux and your default OS at the same time. You could either run Linux or your OS in a virtual machine, depending on which you use more, as this method can eat up your systems resources. On the other hand, you have dual booting, where you run one OS at a time but can switch between them with a reboot. Either method is great depending on what you need and you can switch to Linux without worrying about getting access to your favorite OS.








Author: "Azwan Jamaluddin" Tags: "Web 2.0, programming language, linux"
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Date: Thursday, 21 Aug 2014 07:01

Lots of people, many designers included, think a “brand” is just a nice looking logo. Wrong. So, so wrong, designers. A brand is about a lot more than simply a logo, or a stationery set, a cool t-shirt, etc. As a branding creative director, I’ve accumulated a bit of knowledge about what, exactly, goes into a successful brand that users truly connect with.

Today, I’m going to take you through the 5 essential things I believe a brand needs other than a nice looking logo, which is also important, but it’s also sort of a given, right?

1. A Mission

The brand you’re designing has to have a reason for existing. If it doesn’t, run far, far away from that project. A mission doesn’t have to be anything especially complicated. It can be as simple as a dream or an ideal that the founder had to reach out to more people through their business, or perhaps they want to continue a family business started by a parent or grandparent.

But, if the business owners have no motivation or guiding principles that inspire them to work hard on their business, how are they going to expect you, the designer, to do the same?

Some entrepreneurs have lost the “spark” they once had, that motivation that made them start the business in the first place, and they are looking for outside help to try and get it back.

That’s all fine and good, but you usually don’t want to be in a situation where you’re the only one who’s passionate about the business. What tends to happen is actually the opposite of what the client hopes: their “meh” attitude will actually infect you too, and you’ll soon be dreading going in to work every morning.

2. A Target Market

You don’t just create a branding strategy because you want some cool looking stationery. Your client’s brand needs to have a target audience, people who get the main message and will respond positively to it. This legwork will likely already be done by the client, but not always. Sometimes, it will be your job to be market researcher as well as designer.

How do you go about researching a target market? First, you have to know something about the industry. If you don’t, now is a great time to familiarize yourself and do some rooting around. Talk to potential users of the product or service and get a feel for the kind of people they are. What are their likes and dislikes, their expectations when using a website, software, product, etc.

3. Something Of Value

Brands provide value. Usually, this value is of an emotional nature – making people feel happy, safe, secure, entertained, etc. The actual product itself may not be worth much, financially speaking, but there is a lot to be said about people’s perception of a brand. If a user believes that something has value, then it does. This is both a good thing for designers – and a bad thing.

On the one hand, it means that you only need to come up with that one, great design that really connects with a large number of people and your reputation is basically set. On the other hand, it means that you need to be discerning about the exact kind of value you choose to provide your users.

4. Trust

More accurately: users have to Know, Like, and Trust your brand’s message if they are going to continue to value it and support your client’s business. These are the basic fundamentals of branding that every designer needs to be aware of. It’s not just your client’s responsibility; if you’re going to build a niche and have only the best clients on your roster, you have to become a mini-brand expert yourself.

First, people need to know the brand exists. That’s where marketing and spreading the word comes in. Next, if people don’t like a particular brand, they aren’t going to use it. This may be a matter of simple perception.

The bread on the bottom shelf may taste the same as the top shelf bread, but people are going to assign a lower value to it regardless. Or, it could be that they genuinely don’t like the product or service. There’s nothing you can do about that – no brand can please everyone, nor should they try.

Finally, if people don’t trust the brand, then all the fancy logos in the world aren’t going to fix the problem. This is more a problem with your client, and how well they convey trust, not only to their audience, but to everyone who works for them – including you. If you don’t trust them, there’s no way users will.

5. Genuine Communication

A brand needs to speak its target market’s language. If it comes across as phony or artificial, people will pick up on it immediately, and the brand will be a source of ridicule. This is related to trust – people have to agree with your message and trust that you know what’s best for them.

Nowhere is this more apparent than the social news site Reddit. The Reddit community is famously selective – not just anything can make it onto its coveted front page. Many marketers have tried to crack the code, failing miserably because they don’t understand how Reddit works and what Redditors value in a brand. Because Redditors have the power to “downvote” posts, it creates a purely democratic experience that proves the sincerity of any marketing attempt and keeps brands honest.

What Do You Think?

What else do brands need to have (other than a logo)? How important do you think it is for designers to have a solid understanding of brand creation?








Author: "Addison Duvall" Tags: "Web 2.0, logo, branding"
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Date: Wednesday, 20 Aug 2014 14:01

Web builders are basically a magic toolbox for non-web designers. What was once out of people’s reach can now be grasped with just little effort. But there are things that web builders can’t do that web designers can. The question now is, should you hire a web designer to make your website for you or just use a web builder and build it yourself?

Web builders like Wix, IMCreator, Weebly, and Jigsy have helped millions of people create websites easily, even without Photoshop or coding experience. For people with small website needs, these tools are of great help. There are many web builders that have popped up in the last couple of years and people can just drag and drop and launch their sites within a day. In the same fashion, there are literally millions of talented web designers out there, and their numbers are growing by the day.

It can be confusing, especially when you are new to owning websites, but both web builders and web designers have their pros and cons, which you should weigh carefully before making a decision.

The Beauty of Web Builders

For those who do not speak the same language as web designers, web builders are a gift to them. There are lots of free web builders out there with hundreds of templates to start from and everything is very simple.

No coding, no FTP handling, no domain name registration and nameservers, and all the other technical stuff. Once satisfied, users can simply publish their websites and voila, it’s up and running.

1. Drag and Drop Features

The web building site’s main attraction is their ability to enable regular users to create websites with just a few mouse clicks. By simply dragging elements to a canvas, users have control over how they want their websites to look like.

2. User-Friendly Systems

Editing a website is easy too. If users want to change fonts, colors, and even images, all they need to do is click and apply the necessary changes. No editing of HTML and CSS files.

Another note-worthy thing about web builders is that they are built in a way that is easily understood by people of all ages. Take Weebly as an example. Once users sign up, they will be greeted by a step-by-step website creation guide. All they have to do is choose from a wide range of options.

This user-friendly guide can be found at most web building sites.

3. In-House Features And Support

Web builder companies understand that many of their users aren’t technical people, so they all have a team of people who are on stand-by just to answer people’s questions and help them with their troubles.

Why You Should Probably Hire a Web Designer

While web building sites appear to be all sunshine and rainbows, they can easily lead to a big mess when not enough preparation is made. Problems like transferring websites to a different host, limited features, and design redundancy are just some of the common problems that you might experience in the long run. Let’s take a closer look at them.

Transferring files Might Be A Problem

Take Wix as an example. Since Wix websites are built using their specialized system, hosting the same websites on a different server is close to impossible. It would mean anyone who wants to migrate will have to recreate everything from scratch.

Other web building sites like Weebly allow transfers from their host to another web server. But features like forums and their own blogging and shopping systems won’t be included with the transfer, including everything that is native to their system.

If you hire a web designer who can provide all of the features mentioned above, you will have your own hosting account and won’t have to think about transferring your website from one server to another. And you won’t be limited by the features and flexibility.

Your immediate needs will definitely increase as your business or audience grows. This is the problem with every web building site, they won’t be able to keep up with your needs as your website’s traffic grows. With a great web designer, you can ask for features that are otherwise hard to come by on web building sites. Features like an image slider, a user poll, fancy navigation, a robust image gallery, and other things that you might need.

Web builders (Potentially) cost more

The average price to use a website building service would cost around $100 per year for premium services. Domain name and hosting included. Most web builders have monthly subscription plans, which helps you to spread the cost. But in the long run, it might cost you even more.

To give you an idea, web builders generally cost around $100 per year. But if you want additional features, you can either purchase add-ons from the web builders themselves or via third-party providers, which usually range from $10 to $50.

Now, suppose you hired a web designer to build your website for $3,000. A one-time fee of $3,000 and a monthly hosting fee of $7 (for a decent hosting). Initially it will cost you $3,084 on your first year, and just $84 on the succeeding years. But the steal here is that you can ask for tons of features and things you want to be included on your site.

Another thing that could potentially rack up the cost for web builders is when it’s time to move on to another hosting service. And trust me when I say that if a website becomes half as successful as intended, a transfer will happen 100%. Especially for e-commerce sites. Aside from paying someone to do the transfers, there will still be several issues to address such as replicating the features that were left on the web builder’s system amd updating everything that needs updating because web builders aren’t exactly known for rolling out quick updates among other things.

Which Should You Go For?

If your needs are simple, and will most likely be so for years to come, spending a few hours building your own website via a web builder is practical. This is because usually catalog websites don’t need a lot of fancy features. Just a gallery, a place to include text, and other simple stuff. The same is also true for restaurant websites.

But if you need to open an online store, a news website, membership sites, forums, and similar heavy-featured websites, I highly recommend looking for professional services. This way you will save time, money, and energy.








Author: "Rean" Tags: "web designers, designers, web builders, ..."
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Date: Wednesday, 20 Aug 2014 10:01

It was the great Coco Chanel who once said, “Fashion changes, but style endures.” Well, regardless of your thoughts on the matter, there’s another thing that changes along with fashion. It is technology. With the amount of innovation happening these days, it kind of makes sense to bring the two together. After all, technology opens up so much more possibilities.

By combining style and functionality, there have been a few people who have taken fashion to the next level. From coats that can turn you into a mappable hotspot to dresses that will make you reconsider that little white lie, we’ve gathered a collection of 15 ongoing projects that could just be turned into reality.

We can’t say for certain if they’ll actually catch on but these futuristic fashion styles do look pretty awesome.

CHBL Jammer Coat

This coat is designed by an Austrian architecture company, Coop Himmelb(L)au and you can use it to disappear. Nope, it is not Harry Potter’s clock of insivibility. What happens is that the metallized fabrics block radio waves and makes the wearer untrackable from modern devices. It works great in a sense that your credit card information will be safe but this also means that you won’t be contactable via phone.

via Coop-himmelb(l)au

Rain Palette

Since acid rain remains a threat to public health nowadays, the Korean-born, London-based designer Dahea Sun had invented a natural cabbage dyed dress that could act as a pH indicator when rain falls onto the fabric. To take it even further, it even comes with a smartphone app that allows people to scan and upload colour changes to a cloud based database. This will update the rest of the world with real-time environmental data about the rain.

via Materiability

BB. Suit

Designed by Borre Akkersdijk, a Dutch textile developer, this prototype is basically the opposite of the Jammer Coat because it is embedded with copper wires that enable WiFi, GPS, NFC and Bluetooth that will turn you into a mappable hotspot with MP3 streaming capabilities. All those wires won’t hurt though as there are two layers of cotton to protect the copper wires inside, thus making it comfortable to wear.

via Adafruit

Karma Chameleon Project

What if your energy could be harnessed and used to change the display of a specific fabric? A group of researchers at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada have managed to weave electronic components into pieces of fabric to do just that. The result is illustrated in the picture below and as you can see, it’s something really cool. They’re even looking at other applications for this fabric as well, such as for charging and medical purposes. As more research is being conducted, this won’t be in retail stores any time soon.

via Bravenewgear

Gaze activated dress

This dress knows when you are looking at it. Embedded with eye-tracking technology, the dress responds to the human gaze. Gazing at the dress activates tiny motors which moves certain parts of it. One of the dresses is covered in tendrils of photo-luminescent threads that dangle from ruched fabrics while the other one is made up of glow-in-the-dark threads which forms a base layer.

via Urdesign

Intimacy 2.0

One look at the details of this dress and you can already tell just how provocative it’s meant to be. Throw some technology into the mix with opaque smart e-foils and the dress is taken to the next level. Oh did we mention that it becomes increasingly transparent when your heartbeat increases? This is one that makes a statement fashion wise and via its message of personal space too.

via Fashioningtech

The Unseen

How about clothing that responds to the weather around you? This jacket is treated with liquid crystal to make it respond to friction. Lauren Bowker does this by combining textiles and ink technology. A gust of wind or a ray of sunshine would have an effect on this beautiful piece of clothing, as indicated by the picture below.

via Wired

Living Pod

Ying Gao, the same Montreal fashion designer responsible for the Gaze Activated dresses, also created these dreses that look like they’re living and breathing. The folds of the dress curl and unfurl when exposed to light and the rate at which it moves changes with the light’s intensity as well. What’s great about this piece is how natural it moves.

via Fashioningtech

Wearable solar fashion

This is a handy one for the minimalists out there. Crystal solar panels are integrated into leather flaps on the jackets shoulders and waist so they can be revealed when there is sunshine and hidden when not in use. When worn in the full sun for an hour, it can store enough energy to charge a typical smartphone for up to 50% in capacity.

via Dezeen

Bubelle emotion sensing dress

This prototype by Philips Design gives us a look into the future of fashion where clothes does not merely to protect, but also reflect our emotions making it a forward form of communication. The first layer of the dress contains biometric sensors which projects emotion which comes in the form of colorful lights onto the second layer, the outer textile. It is both stunning and functional.

via Crunchwear

Holy dress

This garment punishes its wearer whenever a lie is told and is not invented for those who are weak in conscience. It has a speech recognition system, which constantly checks for lies. The dress will light up when you are talking, growing with intensity as the likeliness of a lie increases. If you have the guts to lie, it lights up and flickers while stunning you with an electric jolt as a repercussion.

via Melissa Coleman

Paparazzi lover

The name says it all really. Embedded with 62 LED lights that are sensitive to camera flashes, this dress lights up when it is photographed. This is a great way to remind the paparazzi who the real star is… the dress!

via Onascimento.com

DareDroid 2.0 Cocktailmaking Dress

Compared to the rest of the dresses, this one rewards another person and not the wearer of the outfit. If you’re interested in a refreshing cocktail, all you’d have to is play a touch screen version of ‘Truth or Dare’ and a combination of medical technology, customized hardware and human temperament will ensure that you get that well-deserved drink. However, get too close and the dress shuts down on you.

via V2

Smoke dress

At first glance, this dress will intrigue you merely by the flirty sparks. In essence, it is operated by a micro-controller-based, battery-driven sensory system that can detect when people are near you and releases smoke if they invade your personal space. How’s that for a warning sign for people to stay away?

via Toptenz.com

Robotic Spider Dress

Combining robotics and fashion, this dress has 6 robotic legs perched on the shoulders which responds to nearby movements. This piece of fashion also deals with the theme of ‘personal space’. It attracts the attention of those who are curious whilst protecting the user wearing the garment at the same time.

via Fashioningtech








Author: "Guest Contributor" Tags: "fashion, Inspiration"
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Date: Wednesday, 20 Aug 2014 07:01

Today, we’re going to have a little crash course in creative direction. After you’ve been designing for a while, you may find yourself in charge of another person on your team, whether it’s another designer, or a programmer, a copywriter, or other professional.

There’s just one problem: you’ve never been in charge of a team member before, and you have no idea what to do. Today, I’m going to dispense some vital information on having a direct report that I wish someone had told me my first time in the director’s seat.

Be Consistent With Meetings

You want to communicate to your report that you value his or her contribution to the project. The best way to do this is to make an effort to brief them regularly one-on-one and update them on the status of your project. If you just send your report an email when you need them to do something, this sends the message that you don’t really care about them as a worker.

A lack of communication from you tells them they are simply a means to an end, and this attitude can kill morale faster than the time it takes to press ‘send.’ You also want to establish good habits for communicating in general, whether to your team members or your clients. Everyone appreciates being included in the development of a project, and you want to make sure you don’t lag behind on your updates.

Analyze, Then Create Your Blueprint

The easiest way to have a happy employee is to be genuinely curious about what their needs and desires are. During your one-on-one meetings, ask them questions, not only about what they need to do, the task currently in front of them, but also about what they want out of their career.

This may seem frivolous, but I promise you it isn’t. You can get a lot of mileage as a manager out of knowing what direction your employees wish to go. That way, you can help guide them towards being as fulfilled as possible, which in turn will assure that they do the best work they can while they are working for you.

Let Them Vent

There’s a lot to be said about getting things off your chest, and this applies to a direct report as much as it does to you. Your report will inevitably have concerns and issues with something related to their job, and whether it’s your fault or not, you have a responsibility to listen and attempt to make things as painless as possible for them.

Note that just listening is often enough to placate someone’s complaint. You don’t have to have all the answers, and most reasonable people aren’t expecting you to. Sometimes, just a friendly ear is enough to restore morale and get someone excited again. If your report can see you as a human being who cares about their feelings, it can only improve your work relationship all around.

Give Them Feedback

This one’s a no-brainer, but still something missed by many a supervisor. All employees need to hear how good of a job they’re doing. I’m not just saying this as a platitude – it’s actually been proven to improve morale and decrease turnover. If your report knows how much you value their contribution, and they feel they are being treated fairly, there will be no reason for them to complain or quit.

Also important is constructive criticism. Not mean-spirited jabbing; I mean respectfully pointing out what’s not working so that your report can correct themselves. This kind of criticism will motivate them to improve their skills and impress you, rather than making them bitter and silently wishing for your death each time you walk in the door.

If your report is working with others aside from you, talk to those people as well. The more everyone has a clear understanding of what everyone else is doing, the more harmonious the entire department or business will run.

Set A Clear Direction

Employees are human. And as humans, we all complete our tasks much more efficiently when we have a clear idea of what is expected of us. When a client gives you a project, it’s almost always easier to finish it if you have a clearly outlined brief, complete with guidelines and restrictions as to what you can and cannot include in the final piece.

A direct report needs the same kind of guidelines to be efficient at his or her job as well. What do you want to accomplish this week? What do you expect to see from them by the next one-on-one meeting? Be clear and not vague; you want to lay down a foundation for regular completion of deliverables that your report can stick to.

You can’t expect anyone to be able to read your mind. And yet, this is one of the most common sources of conflict between a manager and employees. Everyone’s going around expecting others to somehow magically divine what’s going on in their heads. If you do that, then stop it. Be clear about what you want, and your direct report will respond in kind.

Keep Them In The Loop

We’ve already discussed the importance of keeping your report informed about the status of the project you’re working on together. However, a continual stream of information that could possibly affect them is just as important, whether it’s directly related to the project or not. For example, news from the higher ups about possible downsizing or direction changes in marketing or the brand’s message. Your report needs to hear these things as much as you do.

You don’t have to inform your report of every minute detail. In fact, it’s good to practice self-editing; people only need to know what’s important, and you droning on about the boring details of your manager’s meeting isn’t going to be of much use to your report. Rather, give a clear and concise snapshot of “the view from 100 feet up,” and make sure they are kept abreast of any vital developments. The last thing you want is for your report to hear some important news from someone other than you.

In Conclusion

Being “the boss” can be an incredibly rewarding experience, if done correctly, allowing you a far greater amount of creative control over a project that you might have otherwise. Also, it can be very fulfilling to have a hand in steering a successful creative team to new heights. Remember that respect and trust flow both ways – you and your report need to have a mutual understanding and high opinion of one another to produce the best work you can.








Author: "Addison Duvall" Tags: "direct report, Web 2.0, career"
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Date: Tuesday, 19 Aug 2014 15:01

Whatever your mood or fancy, somewhere in the online world, there’s probably a GIF out there to showcase how you really feel. But what if you don’t find that exact GIF that you want? Why not create your very own customized animated GIF then? You don’t need to be an expert to do it and no technical skills are required in creating one.

Here we’ve compiled a list of websites that allow you to create an animated GIF online, easily and for free. All you need to do is get your images (or photos) prepared, upload them, do a little bit of customization (if you want), hit the generate button and off you go. Take a look and have fun in creating your own animated GIFs.

1. Loogix

To use this site, you’d need at least 3 images to make a GIF. However, you can always add more as it allows for up to 10 images to be uploaded. It supports 5 different frame speeds as well. In addition to regular GIF creation, Loogix allows for optional effects such as Blur, Guggle or Motley to be applied to the animated GIF.

Other service(s) include:

loogix

2. Picasion

Picasion is quite similar to Loogix in the way it operates, though the look of the site is slightly different. In addition to uploading your images via your desktop, this site allows you to import photos from Flickr or from a Picasa web album, if you like.

Other service(s) include:

picasion

3. Gickr

In the same way as the others, Gickr also lets you upload a minimum of 3 and maximum of 10 images for your GIF creation process. What makes this different is that you can create not only custom GIF sizes but also custom speeds (for up to 10 seconds) for your animated GIFs. Gickr also supports the importing of images from Flickr and Picasa.

gickr

4. MakeaGIF

Sometimes it could take awhile for your images to upload onto one of these GIF making sites, makeagif.com makes this process a lot easier. You can select multiple photos by simply holding the control or command key. This particular service also has a gallery of funny animated GIFs that you should definitely check out too.

Other service(s) include:

makeagif

5. GIFMaker.me

GIFmaker.me is a handy site for creating GIFs as it supports images in GIF, JPG and PNG format. It comes with a scrolling panel that gives you better control over the animated GIF’s canvas size and the animation speed too. Best of all, it comes with a preview panel so you can get an idea of how the animated GIF looks like before you give it the go ahead.

Other service(s) include:

gifmaker

6. ImgFlip

Imgflip is another site that can help you create GIFs and it supports JPG, PNG and GIF formats. It uses a simple scroll panel to allow you to control your GIF’s delay time, width, height and quality as well. You can drag images onto the site and rearrange the sequence before creating your final product making this quite user-friendly. However, the GIFs created come with a subtle imgflip.com watermark, which can only be removed with a pro account.

Other service(s) include:

imgflip

7. GIFPal

GIFPal is a decent site that has a lot of the functionalities of ImgFlip but with a better interface to work with. It comes with a lot of different effects that you can add on to the GIFs. It also lets you take control of the brightness, hue, contrast and saturation of your GIF. It also has a gallery of animated GIFs that you can explore although do take note that some of the images are NSFW (Not-Safe-For-Work).

Other service(s) include:

gifpal

8. BlogGIF

BlogGIF is a fun site that allows you to do more than just put together a regular animated GIF. It is also made up of various other features such as adding effects to your GIF and even creating your own GIF slideshow. In addition, you can also decompose one of your favorite animated GIFs into several frames with a handy online tool. And if that’s not enough, if you want to channel your inner Spielberg, you can even try the Webcam GIF function that lets you capture pictures with your webcam and create your very own mini movie.

bloggif

9. GIFUp

Like the various other sites, GIFUp provides the basic functions that you would need to turn your images into a GIF that’s easy to use and share and can be compared to Loogix and Picasion. The navigation of the site is fairly simple, so you shouldn’t have problems in creating your own GIF’s. You can upload your chosen images from your desktop, Flickr or any regular website that you’d like. This is a decent option for when you need it.

10. MemeCenter’s GIF Maker

If you’re a big fan of memes then you probably know of MemeCenter. The good thing about the site is that it probably has the best UI overall, which makes it a lot more convenient when you want to create a GIF. The MemeCenter’s GIFMaker allows you to insert additional text and even brush strokes into your GIF to give it a more personalized touch.








Author: "Hongkiat Lim" Tags: "gifs, animated gif, Tools"
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Date: Tuesday, 19 Aug 2014 10:01

The regular remedy to uplift moods for higher motivation and productivity is getting enough sleep, exercising and spending time with loved ones. This will help us prevent burnouts and so we can keep track with our life goals. But there are hidden details in our lives that may be playing tricks with our mind at a subconscious level aimed to dampen our mood to be productive.

Even with our best efforts to sustain a balanced life, we may still feel lethargic and unmotivated, for no apparent reason. This is something to be expected since our complex body and mind operate beyond our awareness. If you have always wondered what else could be sapping your mood and motivation, here are 8 subtle things that may be responsible.

1. Clutter

A cluttered room is a cluttered mind. Having all your things lying on the floor or desk doesn’t only mess up your room; it also clogs up your mind. Indeed, research has shown that the more clutter you have, the harder it is for you to concentrate.

Given that your brain is constantly trying to process what you see through your eyes, filling your surroundings with clutter only takes up the resources which would otherwise be used to focus on your task. Always having to look for items you cannot locate is also frustrating and time-consuming. This also applies to non-physical clutter in your life such as an overflowed email inbox, icon-filled desktop and the frequent notifications from your smart device.

via Hans

Removing clutter is a process of removing excesses and simplifying your life for the better so that your surroundings don’t compete for your attention. Contrary to what many people would like to believe, multitasking is a myth. The most productive approach to manage your work is to clear the clutter and focus on one thing at a time as much as possible.

2. Artificial Lighting

Getting enough sleep is not enough if the quality isn’t there. True, there are many factors that’ll affect the quality of your sleep, but the night light is probably one thing you have more control over.

For those of you with the habit of sleeping with your bedside lamp switched on, this could be the reason why you’re having trouble dozing off at night. Research has shown that exposure to light at night disrupts the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating both mood and sleep. And yes, this applies to looking at your smartphone, tablet and computer screens, thanks to their blue wavelength lights.

Some studies have claimed that it is these blue wavelength lights that have the strongest effect on the decrease in melatonin production. You can say that the safest bet for a good night sleep is to minimise your exposure to any light sources when nearing bedtime.

3. The Seasons

Now that you realise how light affects melatonin levels, you can probably understand how some seasons could influence your mood. People living in the colder climates may suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a form of depression that typically arise from the lack of light during winter time.

Commonly referred to as the winter blues, SAD is said to affect 4% – 6% of the US population. While some researchers believe that the impact of seasonal change on depression may have been exaggerated, it is clear that our mood levels drop and productivity decreases to some extent during the darker winter months.

On the other hand, summer blues is a rarer form of SAD that occurs to people living in countries near the equator where the increase in heat and humidity during summer is cause for depression.

Instead of becoming sluggish, people with summer SAD become increasingly agitated by the unbearable heat, preferring to hide out from the summer heat at home. This disruption in their routine gradually takes a toll on their mood and productivity.

4. Weather Changes

When it comes to the daily fluctuations in weather, whether or not you started off with a good or bad mood matters.

A study done in 2008 reported that cold and dull weather is more likely to bring down your mood further when you’re feeling negative, as compared to when you’re feeling upbeat. Specifically, temperature, wind power and sunlight all affect your mood especially when you’re down. The amount of sunlight was also found to influence how tired an individual is, consequently affecting your motivation and productivity.

via hoangsonftu2

Interestingly, some researchers found that people are more productive on days when the weather is actually unpleasant. They argued that people are able to focus better on their work on these days because they are less occupied with more interesting activities. Good weather, on the other hand, creates a conducive environment for the mind to wander from the task at hand, resulting in lower productivity!

5. Social Networking Sites

Needless to say, spending too much time on social networking sites at work reduces your productivity. Research conducted by the University of Michigan on Facebook users revealed that greater usage of the social networking site resulted in a bigger drop in mood at the end of two weeks. Indeed, when your Facebook checking becomes obsessive and starts interfering with your everyday activities, it is a sign of addiction.

via geralt

Resentment and bitterness arise when you start making inaccurate comparisons of your life with your friends’ and feel increasingly disgruntled with yourself. The result is a loss of self-esteem and a worsening of your mood.

If you often find yourself feeling envious over your friends’ posts about their latest vacations or achievements, it might be time for you to cut back on Facebook and other social networks. Otherwise, the negativity will gradually gnaw on your self-image.

6. Your Posture

A downcast person will have a tendency to slouch, while someone bursting with confidence would hold his or her chest high up. What many of us don’t realise is that sometimes it is the way we hold our posture that determines how we feel rather than the other way round.

One study in 2009 has shown that when participants were made to either sit slumped or sit upright while they fill up a mock job application form, those seated slumped evaluated their self-confidence poorer than those seated upright. Similarly, a separate study found that walking in a slouching manner has been linked to a decrease in energy levels as compared to an increase in energy when a person is skipping.

It appears that correcting your bad posture doesn’t just benefit your health and appearance; it can even improve your state of mind.

7. Colors

Our minds and bodies react differently to different colors. We innately associate the color red with danger and threat, so much so that it intensifies our physical reactions. For this reason, ‘stop’ and ‘danger’ signs are often painted red to improve our reaction time in avoiding tragedies.

According to an article from The Huffington Post, research in color psychology has revealed that a combination of blue and green is considered as an ideal choice for the workplace. Green is after all the color of nature which means that it is easier on our eyes and evokes relaxation.

In that sense, working on a green background is a good idea if you have to stare at the computer screen for hours each day. The color blue improves our capability to think creatively. This is definitely a plus for many of us involved in writing, design and other creative work.

8. Who You Hang Out With

Good social relationships are crucial to our mental well-being and we have a natural tendency to unconsciously take on the emotions of others. This phenomenon, otherwise known as emotional contagion, bestowed us with the gift of empathising with others – a necessary recipe for forging deep relationships.

via cherylholt

The great thing about is that we’ll slide towards positivity when we’re always around optimistic and cheerful people. Similarly, your mood will spiral down towards depression if the people you interact with day in day out are filled with negative emotions. It’s wise to be selective about who we spend our time with.








Author: "Michael Poh" Tags: "productivity tips, Web 2.0, productivity"
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Date: Tuesday, 19 Aug 2014 07:01

When I first started out as a professional writer, I read every resource I could grab on the subject. As I read, read, and read some more, I noticed that one piece of advice kept cropping up: “If you want to become a writer, just write.”

At first, I thought, well, that’s not very helpful. Obviously, writing is what writers do. Besides, that doesn’t tell me anything about how to be a better writer. If writing is that simple, then everyone who does it for a living should be bestselling authors by now, right?

But the more I thought about it, and the more I wrote, the more it made sense to “just write”. Over the course of my writing career so far, I realized:

(Writing) Theory is Nothing without Application

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that you completely ditch “How to Write” books, articles, and the like in favor of mindlessly tapping away at your keyboard all day. Trying to write without a solid grasp of the basics is like trying to swim without knowing how to float and hold your breath underwater.

via Ed Gregory

Still, you can’t spend time reading about writing without actually writing. Otherwise, what did you do all that reading for?

Writing Rules Can Be Broken

To me, writing “rules” are more guidelines than dogma. While it’s true that the likes of the passive voice, long sentences, and adverbs can weaken your writing, there are written works that incorporate all of those into their prose, and still turn out great anyway. Case in point: Stephen King once chided J.K. Rowling for her overuse of adverbs, but that never stopped her from becoming one of the world’s most beloved and influential authors.

Of course, in order to pull that off, you need to have a complete mastery over the “rules” first before you even think about breaking them. And, in my opinion, that level of mastery is achievable only if you practice good writing habits on a regular basis.

No Two Creative Processes Are Exactly the Same

I usually write first thing in the morning, after drinking a cup of coffee and taking a nice, warm bath. I consider these habits as part of my creative process, since they help prepare me for a long day of turning my jumbled thoughts into coherent prose.

But I’d never go out and tell any writer who cares to listen that “Hey, this is what I do before I write, so you should do it too!” I recognize that what may work for me may not work for other writers. Sure, there may be writers who also write in the morning after drinking a cup of coffee and taking a nice, warm bath, but I’m also positive there are writers who do none of that, and still churn out great work anyway.

It doesn’t matter whether your creative process resembles another writer’s or not. What matters is that, regardless of how you prepare for the act of writing, you’re still able to write, and able to write well.

“Good” Writing is highly Subjective

Pick a book – any book – from sites like Amazon and Goodreads. Chances are it’s rated 5-star, 4-star, 3-star, 2-star, and 1-star – all at the same time!

It’s ridiculous, right? How can one book be both above-par and sub-par?

The thing is, the concept of “good writing” is subjective. Sure, there are universal criteria for “bad writing”, such as poor grammar and syntax, but for the most part, your readers’ individual preferences will affect how they perceive your work. In other words, it’s pointless to try to please everyone.

Instead, think of a specific person who will benefit the most from your writing, and write only for that person. You’ll be surprised at how your work will turn out.

Starting Is the Hardest Part of Writing

Actually, starting is the hardest part of anything.

According to this article, the human brain does a funny thing when confronted with a Jupiter-sized project: It automatically visualizes all the possible ways your project can go wrong, so it attempts to “simulate” productivity by filling (read: wasting) your time with small tasks. (“Oh, my first draft is due tomorrow? Wait, I need to check my email first…”)

To avoid that, you need to plunge into your project from the get-go. Once you get going, you’ll have this uncontrollable urge to finish no matter what, in accordance with the Zeigarnik effect. As the Nike slogan goes: “Just Do It”.

You Can’t Be “Good” If you’re Not “Bad” First

You might say: “But what if I try to write, and all I come up with is a pile of crud?” To that, I say this: “Well, improving on a pile of crud is easier than improving on a pile of nothing.”

When you’re writing the first draft, you’re at the point where you’re still trying to transform all your research and ideas into words. Naturally, you’ll end up with something that may need some extra polishing, or even a whole rewrite. If you think about it, that’s marginally better than trying to “polish” a blank page.

Bottom line: You can’t learn to do something well, if you don’t try to do it at all.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received? Let us know in the comments section.








Author: "Issa Mirandilla" Tags: "self improvement, Web 2.0, writing tips"
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Date: Monday, 18 Aug 2014 14:01

The use of drones is increasing in popularity these days and they have many uses. The most common use though is for people to be able to capture beautiful aerial shots. After all, they offer a different perspective to the keen individual. Whether you’re thinking about experimenting with your photography or just want to try a different hobby, why not consider a drone?

There are plenty of factors to consider though such as usability and the quality of picture. That’s why we’ve helped you out and listed 8 drones that are capable of capturing images and videos here in this article. From premium to entry level drones, they have a different array of features too. And if you happen to own one, let us know what cool things you’ve done with it in the comments section.

1. Parrot Bebop Drone

Parrot Bebop Drone is the third generation of the Parrot AR.Drone, that was originally designed to take aerial shots using only its built-in camera. However, the lack of a gimbal made it hard to focus camera to get the perfect angle of a subject while shooting.

Realizing this limitation, the Bebop Drone comes instead with a 180-degree 14 megapixels fisheye lens, plus a software that can help to stabilize the image simultaneously to allow you to take your best shot. The Parrot Bebop Drone also boasts compatibility with a VR headset like the Oculus Rift so that you could drive this drone in a first person view. The embedded GPS enables this Bebop Drone to find its way back to its take-off point, and in case of emergency, the drone will land automatically.

[Get one - TBA]

Parrot Bebop Drone

2. Phantom 2 Vision

DJI Technology, a leader in the drone industry, Phantom 2 Vison drone that comes with high quality stills fish lens camera, a GPS, a camera tilt control, and a WiFi connection. Thanks to the WiFi connection the Phantom 2 Vision will be able to provide you with real-time flight data and live camera view in a maximum distance of 300m away from you.

The GPS will allow this drone to position and stable itself midair, and you will also be able to tell it to hover in a place using the altitude lock feature. It even comes with an emergency landing feature that will help position it to its take-off point when the drone is running out of battery. With the camera tilt control, there’s no limit to what shots you can get while it is up in the air.

[Get one - $999]

Phantom 2 Vision

3. phantom fC40

Another DJI Technology product, Phantom FC40 is the low-budget version of the Phantom 2 Vision. The major difference between these two are distance capability, the battery life and the video quality. It’s probably best to consider this the premium version of the entry level drone for aerial photography that’s available.

It is stable, agile and even supports autopilot system as its failsafe feature. The built-in camera is capable of recording 720p/30fps HD video plus you can take off the built-in camera and replace it with other lightweight cameras easily and just like the Phantom 2 Vision, you can also control Phantom FC40 using your smartphone too.

[Get one - $499]

phantom fC40

4. Walkera QR W100S

Walkera QR W100S is a first person view drone that works with WiFi, which means you can use the Android and iOS smartphone app to gain full control of the drone. You can choose between standard mode or gravity mode, where the latter allows you allows you to control the QR W100S by tilting your smartphone in the direction that you want it to fly.

Since it is a FPV drone, you can watch the live feed from within the app too. If you happen to get the DEVO Transmitter you can also use it to fly the QR W100S, and use the WiFi connection at the same time to watch the live stream of the drone camera feed on your smartphone too. It’s a good drone to have if you want one that provides you with a decent first person view while you’re recording video.

[Get one - $159]

Walkera QR W100S

5. Heli-Max 1SQ Vcam

Heli-Max 1SQ Vcam is an easy to fly and durable drone. It comes with a camera, where you can use the buttons on the controller to take pictures and record while flying it. The Heli-Max 1SQ Vcam includes a stabilization system to keep the drone centered and level while it’s in the air, but it might still be a bit of challenge for any first time to keep it hovering.

It can take good pictures and clear 720p recordings as well. The controller has two modes that you can you switch between to fit your preference. One mode restrains the sensitivity, which makes it easier for you to learn how to control it while the other mode is more responsive, for a more aggressive flying experience.

[Get one - $109.98]

Heli-Max 1SQ Vcam

6. WL Toys V959

If you’d like a more unique looking drone, you might be interested in getting this bug-looking-quadcopter. Although small, the V959 also comes with an onboard camera that you can use to take pictures and videos. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with live feed to your controller.

If you’re new to flying a quadcopter, this would be a good first drone as it’s fairly easy to fly, even for newbies. The V959 is fairly stable which gets you some nice video footage too, and the remote controller sensitivity can also be adjusted to your preference which is really useful. It’s one good way to leave your mark in the world of aerial videos.

[Get one - $58.75]

WL Toys V959

7. Hubsan H107D X4

This is one of the cheaper and more affordable drone options around and it’s also one of the smallest first person view drone. It’s known as the Hubsan H107D X4. The built-in camera provides a live stream feed directly to the controller that comes with a 4.3-inch color LCD. From the controller, you can initiate recording using only a single button to start/stop recording.

This small drone does not come with a GPS, which means it can’t position itself while flying and it may be hard for newbies to keep it hovering in one place. Then again, if all you really desire is to be able to fly a first person view drone then it’s worth giving this drone a shot.

[Get One - $139.90]

Hubsan H107D X4

8. Syma x5C Explorers

The Syma X5C Explorers is a reasonably priced quadcopter if you’re looking for a decent quadcopter with a camera. Although it can’t provide you with a live feed, you can still use its camera to take stills and record videos. It is very stable midair even outdoors against the wind.

The battery attaches straight to the drone’s body which makes it easy to replace if you need to. You probably won’t get great Flickr worthy stills or recordings with it but it’s still capable of giving you a decent snapshot, as long as you know how to keep it steady in midair.

[Get One - $64.99]

Syma x5C Explorers








Author: "Nels Dzyre" Tags: "drones, Web 2.0, gadget"
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Date: Monday, 18 Aug 2014 10:01

If I could sum it all up, creativity is really about being able to see associations when others couldn’t. Being innovative, on the other hand, is about coming up with something others have not thought of. Whether is it inventing a new product or coming up with solutions to a problem, innovativeness requires creativity because one has to be capable of connecting abstract ideas and facts with existing scenarios before creating something unique and different.

Granted, we are all wired differently (some of us are blessed with the natural inclination towards innovativeness and creativity), but this doesn’t mean that we cannot do anything to stretch the limits of our creative minds.

As Thomas Edison puts it, there is work to be done day in, day out before we could even get that stroke of genius.

"Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Accordingly, a genius is often merely a talented person who has done all of his or her homework." – Thomas A. Edison

Whether you’re expanding your innovative capabilities for your freelance work or personal development, it’s never too late to begin somewhere.

1. Maintain a Keen Sense of Curiosity

The most innovative people in the world are also the most inquisitive among us. They ask lots of questions (often about what the rest of us often take for granted) and they’re always looking for ways to improve things. Unlike many of us, innovators don’t simply settle for the status quo; they love challenging what is widely accepted as the norm or the standard.

Instead of relying on preconceived notions about things and people, they prefer to look at new things they’ve encountered, from various perspectives.

via Ana Guzzo

While there is certainly no prescribed formula that will help you adopt such child-like curiosity, making a conscious effort to question everything under the Sun is a good first step. With the magic of the Internet and Wikipedia at our disposal, there’s no excuse for not getting the answers you want.

Equally important, strike up conversations with different people you encounter and listen to their unique perspectives about the world and their lives. Sometimes, the greatest insights come from our interactions with people who hold views opposite from ours.

2. Jot Down Ideas and Thoughts

You’ll need something to capture and organize your ideas and thoughts as you go about your day learning new things. Try jotting down everything that comes to your head including random words, phrases and even doodles. Ideally, you can try linking your arbitrary thoughts together to paint a picture of what your subconscious is trying to say.

Remember that innovation comes from creativity, and creativity is about how you associate different ideas and facts. As you jot down your thoughts into your journal or scrapbook, don’t let your inhibitions get the better of you. No matter how absurd an idea may seems to be, see it as a piece of the puzzle to your inner world which could potentially spark off an inspiration.

Not only does the act of penning down your ideas help you keep track of your thoughts, it can even stimulate your thought processes and lead to one new idea after another. Let your imagination run wild!

3. Seek out New Experiences

Sticking to things that you’re used to limits your thinking process and perception. To think outside the box, you must step out of your comfort zone and look at the scenario in a different light.

As a matter of fact, the greatest innovators are often individuals who learn from different fields and merge them together into something extraordinary. After all, Steve Jobs innovated and revolutionized technology with his unprecedented emphasis on aesthetics and user-friendliness.

Some of you may think that seeking out new experiences in life entail something grand, like travelling to Iceland to witness the Northern Lights or even conquering Mount Everest. Well, it doesn’t have to be. All you have to do is to try new things to stimulate your mind and senses.

Perhaps you can start reading books of a different genre or pick up a new hobby for yourself. If you see yourself as an introvert, try challenging your self-perception and open up to meeting new people. You’ll develop new skills for innovation in the process.

4. Practise Mindfulness

In the context of psychology, the term ‘mindfulness’ refers to the moment-by-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and the surrounding environment in a non-judgmental manner. In essence, it is a continuous attempt to pay attention to what’s going around us and being more accepting of whatever it is that we experience through our senses.

With this conscious effort to bring attention back to the present, we train our mind to focus on the present and not let it wander from one thought to another. Besides making you happier, practising mindfulness helps clear our mental clutter and makes us receptive to new ideas for innovations.

For 10-20 minutes a day, you can engage in mindfulness exercise by simply focusing on your breathing. Better yet, incorporate mindfulness into your day-to-day activities by being fully conscious of whatever you’re doing at any given moment, focusing on only one task at a time.

When eating, savour each bite and appreciate the flavours. When listening to someone, maintain your eye contact and truly listen to what he or she has to say. Once you’re able to notice subtle things which you have never before from your surroundings, you’ll become better at discerning ideas for expansion.

5. Take Risks & Make Mistakes

One thing that separates innovators from the herd is that they are not afraid to make mistakes. Thomas Edison succeeded because he didn’t give up despite failing over and over again. He perservered because he saw failure as part of the learning process while he experiment with his ideas. Innovators like him see mistakes as opportunities for perfecting their innovation.

Keep pushing your boundaries. Innovators embrace risk because they love shaking things up to make things more interesting rather than lead mundane, typical lives. If Mark Zuckerberg had not taken that leap of faith and dropped out of Harvard University to finish up his Facebook project, he would never have realized that his innovation has the potential to change the world.

So, venture forth and take some healthy risks.

via PatrickLim1996

Face your fears and do what scares you, because they make for good practice in overcoming your fear of making mistakes.

6. Share Your Ideas

You’ll definitely need feedback about your innovation, so keep sharing and selling your ideas to people you encounter and see what they have to say. Face your fears and do the talking even if your ideas are at their infancy stages.

Sure, there will be people who will not get your ideas and would even laugh at your proposal. But now that you’ve learned that mistakes and rejections are part and parcel of innovation, you will take these criticisms in your stride and even capitalize on them to improve on your ideas.

Even if people don’t have anything constructive to say about them, talking about your ideas alone will stimulate your creative senses and possibly give you new insights.

7. Stay Persistent

Be ready to persist in your mission regardless of how many others may persuade you otherwise. Sure enough, people who are uneasy with change will advise you to settle for the status quo. Plus, mistakes and failures are inescapable as you experiment with different ideas that don’t work the first time round.

via Delphimages

All these roadblocks only makes keeping your faith and staying focus all the more crucial. Some people may call it naive optimism or unrealistic idealism, but prolific innovators like Thomas Edison had to find 10,000 ways that didn’t work before succeeding in creating the light bulb.

Persistence is when you keep going because you’re certain of what you want. Write down what you wish to accomplish and look at the list every day to remind yourself why you’re persisting. Surely, there must also be a deep-seated motivation behind your pursuit for this particular goal.

Identify it and visualize the moment when you achieve what you want. It may seem trivial and cheesy, but repeating such positive affirmations daily will help you manage your morale and keep your spirits high in times of setbacks.

8. Take Solitude Breaks

Persevering with a laser-like focus on your goal is great, but sustaining attention on a task for an extended period of time can deplete your creativity juices. Stepping away from work briefly creates a space for you to re-conceptualize the problem with new perspectives.

It helps to take regular breaks and naps to relax your mind and maintain a conducive environment for creativity and innovativeness to settle in. Take some of your breaks alone by going for long walks, taking showers, exercise or indulge in daydreaming to connect with your subconscious.

It is in such quiet moments with yourself that you will be able to catch those fleeting inspirations.

9. Create Psychological Distances Through Imagination

Besides physically separating yourself from your innovation project occasionally, you can also induce a state of ‘psychological distance’ while working on it. Based on the construal level theory in social psychology, things which we do not experience as happening now, here and to ourselves are classified as ‘psychologically distant’.

Creating such a distance involves shifting the way we think when dealing with the problem, such as by means of adopting another person’s perspective or imagining hypothetical questions that seem unreal and unfamiliar. By making you consider the broader aspects of the problem, it facilitates abstract thinking and helps you come up with unique associations between apparently unrelated ideas.

Just check out how several studies have shown that psychologically distancing yourself from your task can make you come up with more creative solutions to problems.

10. Build on Existing Ideas

Innovators don’t just invent something out of nothing; they build on existing ideas. As a matter-of-fact, many products we see today are the result of merging two or more ideas or concepts together. One good example of such an innovative invention would be your smartphone, which is essentially a mobile phone integrated with advanced computing capabilities and Internet connectivity.

A true innovator must open him or herself to as many potential ideas as possible, identify patterns and connections between them, and finally assimilating them together to come up with an innovation which is better than before.

via Creativa

To build a firm foundation in what you intend to innovate, you must keep yourself up-to-date with the existing tools and technologies applicable to your innovation. Make it a habit to read up on the relevant literature and participate in online communities and discussions to further your knowledge with people who share the same interest.

With a thorough understanding of the field you are interested in innovating in, you would have a sharper eye in recognizing possibilities and be more adept at interlacing different ideas together.








Author: "Michael Poh" Tags: "self-learn, self improvement, Web 2.0"
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Date: Monday, 18 Aug 2014 07:01

If you are like me, you probably love binge-reading Wikipedia, everyone’s favorite web encyclopedia. It contains a huge database of content on almost any topic under the Sun, and in a variety of languages. If you are preparing for a trip, you’d probably save some of these reading materials to read later, offline, but what if you could turn it into an ebook?

There is in fact a way to create an ebook from inside Wikipedia. You can create or arrange the chapters then turn it into an ebook in EPUB form or PDF form, free of charge. Alternatively you can request Wikipedia to send you a printed version, or get it printed out yourself.

You can also do this with Readlists and even compile a book of your tweets with Twournal.

1. Collecting Articles

First, locate the Print/Export link on the left sidebar of the Wikipedia page. Click on the Create a book link.

Wikipedia will redirect you to the Book Creator as shown below. The next step is collecting pages you want to put into your book. Click on the Start book creator green button.

Once you enable the book creator, the Book creator box will show up in every Wikipedia page you visit.

To add the pages of your choice from Wikipedia, on the page with the content you want to save, simply click on Add this page to your book.

After adding the page, you should see under Show book (1 page).

Add all the pages of your choice for your book. Once you are done with adding all the pages then it is time to to arrange the pages as per your requirement.

Click on the Show book option to see your collected pages. You will arrive at the Manage your book section. Here you can:

  • see all the pages you have included in your book
  • assign a title to the book
  • rearrange the order of the pages in chapters
  • order the book as a printed book
  • download it in a format of your choice

2. Managing Your Book Content

You can change the Title and Subtitle of your book, choose the paper size the book should be published in (A4 or Letter size) and rearrange the contents of your book. You can manually drag the pages into order, or choose to list the chapters in alphabetical order. If you like, you can also add Chapters, then assign pages under the chapter for better categorization. If you need a table of contents, just tick the Include a table of contents option.

3. Output Your Book

There are two ways to publish your book: in a printed physical book or an ebook.

3.1 Printed On Paper

To print this as a physical book, Wikipedia gives you the option to print this via PediaPress.

You can still make changes to the Title and Subtitles at this point and you can also preview the contents of the book via the Click to preview! link.

Once you have chosen the final look of your cover, you can choose where to deliver the book to, if you want it in hardcover or if you want it in color. Each preference will carry some extra costs and remember that the final cost you see does not include shipping costs yet.

3.2 Getting The EBook Copy

If you are on a budget, you can always choose to have the pages in ebook form. There are five formats you can generate the ebook in. Choose the format you want and follow the instructions that ensue.

For instance for PDF, the ebook will be generated in PDF and you will have to manually save the book to your desktop to read offline. If your selected format is ePUB, then you will need a reader app or viewer app to open the book or use this tip to read ePUB books on Firefox and Chrome.

Further Reading:

Editor’s note: This post is written by Fahad Khan for Hongkiat.com. Fahad is a lecturer and researcher with the Institute of Business & Technology, Karachi, Pakistan.








Author: "Guest Contributor" Tags: "wikipedia, ebooks, How-To Guides"
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Date: Sunday, 17 Aug 2014 10:01

There’s nothing quite like going to the beach to soak up the sun and the sand. There are plenty of people who use sand as a medium to create stunning works of art but none quite like artist James Harkins. For him, the beach is not only where inspiration lies, it’s where he displays some of his best work.

Using the whole beach as his canvas, Jamie Harkins, who hails from New Zealand, creates 3d art in the sand and basically brings it to life with the use of shading, light and color. The result are artworks that transports you to your own personal playground.

Have a look and some of his stunning pieces below. If you’re keen to see more of his work, check out his Facebook Page here.

More 3D Art – 50 Absolutely Stunning 3D Street Art »








Author: "Anastassia Irina" Tags: "artwork, 3d, Inspiration"
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