Uncategorized Archive

Smartphones

Posted November 2, 2013 By sorris

What’s the craze all about?

If you haven’t heard of smartphones, we’d like to learn where you’ve been hiding all this time. Smartphones have been all over the news and chances are, you do know what they are – only you know them under a different name. Smartphones are mobile phones with computer like capabilities.

What’s that? Aha! Yes, you’ve not only heard of them, you’ve probably seen them as well.  Packed with Internet access, email capabilities, address books, and a whole lot more, cell phones have come a long way since their first debut. But be careful not to confuse these newest toys with sandbox devices.

Sandbox devices are tools that come pre-loaded with things like calendars, calculators, and a notepad. What differentiates them from smartphones is that users can add (download and install) additional programs to smartphones and they seemingly become mini portable computers for the people who use them. That – and the ability to edit the content that sits on them – is what makes these phones “smart.”

Some of the more popular brand names include the Blackberry, PalmSource, Nokia, and Windows CE. Yet the craze is extending to even some off-brand company names. Today, it’s hard to find a cell phone that doesn’t offer some sort of “smart” technology because it’s in such a high demand. The convenience of having information at our immediate access is phenomenal – so much so that thousands of programmers have jumped on the opportunity to build unique applications specific to these small machines.

As a result, you can find tons of games, databases, GPA systems, weather reporting programs, and even small encyclopedias on these things – each accessible not at the click of a mouse – but at a few presses of a free thumb. Of course a mini keyboard is available for the text-messaging fan or for the poor fellow who can’t seem to get away from the office. In the latter case, don’t be surprised if you find the entire Microsoft Office suite displayed within a screen no bigger than a matchbook.

Is this a phase? That’s highly doubtful. The market for these devices extends from the highly technical and professional all the way to the pre-teen socialite. The product crosses all demographics and thanks to decreasing costs – it sees no economic boundaries as well. The Wikipedia encyclopedia claims that “Out of 1 billion camera phones to be shipped in 2008, Smartphones, the higher end of the market with full email support, will represent about 10% of the market or about 100 million units.”

But what is it that makes smartphones so appealing? As mentioned, smartphones give us the ability to not only carry our data around with us where ever we go, it also gives us the ability to edit that data any place – any time. In today’s “reality” based generation, we’re always looking for the opportunity to capture and relive a moment. And we want to share that moment with others. At best, smart phones give us the opportunity to express ourselves impromptu with entertaining results.

Attempting to do the same with a bulky desktop computer or laptop is to cumbersome. Even some of the smallest peripherals (digicams, digital cameras, etc.) don’t give us the same opportunities that smart phones do. Being able to carry around a device for communication, creation, recording, and editing simply compliments the need for today’s generation to do more and then do it, faster!

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Cheap and Fast Software

Posted October 27, 2013 By sorris

An Introduction to Shareware

Visit any computer store today and you’ll find what seems like miles and miles of software on sale. Certainly enticing buys, there are a few problems with buying software off the shelves. On the shelf, software – otherwise known as “commercial software” – can be expensive, and incompatible, and outdated when compared to what’s available online. Fortunately, there’s an alternative to commercial software and although it isn’t new, it’s one of the most under-exploited opportunities in the computer industry.

We’re talking about shareware – software that you can try before buying.

Shareware has a long history and was rather popular in the days where BBS (bulletin board systems) reigned the online industry. It hasn’t gone anywhere, but its competition with commercial software is fierce – so fierce that it tends to fall on the back burner among new computer users. This is unfortunate because shareware has so many advantages over commercial software.

One of those advantages is its cost. On the whole, shareware is generally cheaper than commercial software. But don’t misinterpret the cost. With shareware, cheap does not equal low-quality and there are plenty of examples that prove shareware often outperforms the quality of commercial software time and time again. How much savings are we talking about? You could purchase a quality word processor, spreadsheet, database program, or system utility anywhere from a mere $15 to under a hundred. This is almost unheard of in stores like Best Buy, Circuit City, or Egghead, yet the shareware programs offered within this price range rival even Microsoft’s Office suite.

Another advantage that shareware has over commercial software is its compatibility. We’re not saying that shareware is compatible with all operating systems. What we’re saying is that since we can try shareware before paying for it, we can determine if the software is completely compatible with our systems first. In other words, we can discover whether the software performs the way we want them to and should anyone try to do the same with commercial software, they’ll be in for a big disappointment.

Commercial software policy doesn’t even allow for returns, let alone “borrowing” them to try them.

The last advantage that shareware has over commercial software (but certainly not the least) is its applicability. Plain and simple, shareware is the best bet when you want to keep on top of the latest release of a particular program. Sure, computer stores do their best to keep their inventory up to date, but when you can download version 5.6042 of a shareware program as opposed to buying a commercial 3.0 version from the local computer shop, there’s just no comparison.

Which brings up our next point. Just where does one get shareware? Shareware is all over the Internet and it’s really hard not to bump into it. The most popular places to find shareware is within thousands of download libraries, however the companies (and even independent programmers behind shareware) are increasingly offering shareware from their own websites. A simple Google or Yahoo search for a particular type of program will yield all sorts of results that point you toward items that you can try before you buy.

Be aware however, that because shareware is not commercial software, you may not experience a full program the way you would if you bought the software out of a box. Shareware may or may not be limited – meaning that some functions may not be available to you until the program is paid for. These limitations are often small and don’t interfere with the way its full version operations. They’re really just implemented as a way to prompt payment. Remember that shareware is not freeware. You shouldn’t try to use shareware as commercial software without paying for it.

About the only thing that’s similar between shareware and commercial software is the way in which they may be bought. With a credit card, you can be the new owner of your own software within minutes.

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Computer Security

Posted October 19, 2013 By sorris

In Today’s Society, Protecting Your Computer Is A Requirement

Advances in computer technology is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it affords us quick and easy access to numerous conveniences such as bank statements, favorite shopping centers, school and health records, and more. On the other hand, it can also grant the same access to those who aren’t supposed to get it. Although it’s a rare occurrence, hacking has become the biggest criminal nuisance in computer history.

Make no bones about it. There’s nothing innocent or cute about the hacker. Today’s hackers aren’t the pimply-faced teen rebels that you might be thinking of. Instead, this generation of hackers are grown individuals who are more than likely earning a living by stealing the identities of innocent, law abiding individuals and then selling those identities to others who want to slip by the system. And the only protection against these seedy people is prevention.

Computer security couldn’t be more important than it is today and that’s why we’ve taken the time to introduce it to you.  You can reduce the probability of experiencing identity theft by making your computer as hacker-proof as possible. All that’s needed is a little software and a lot of common sense.

1. Install an anti-virus/anti-spyware program. Anti-virus/anti-spyware software will stop malicious code from downloading and installing onto your computer while you peruse the Internet. Known as viruses, worms, or spyware, this malicious code can destroy important files and render your computer good for only one thing: sending sensitive data back to the server of an identity thief.

2. Don’t store sensitive data on your computer in the first place. Should your computer get infected with a virus, worm, or piece of spyware, you can thwart the individuals responsible by not storing your personal information on your PC so that when and if your computer does send back data – it won’t be anything valuable. Hackers look for things like full names, social security numbers, phone numbers, home addresses, work-related information, and credit card numbers. If these things aren’t saved onto a computer, there’s nothing critical to worry about other than restoring your computer to a non-virus condition.

3. Don’t open files without scanning them with an anti-virus/anti-spyware program. In the past, the warning was to avoid opening files from people that you don’t know. Today it’s really not safe to open files from anyone (without scanning the files) because that’s how viruses get spread – through files – even by mistake. So even though your co-worker may have emailed a funny video, it’s no more safe to open than a video downloaded from a complete stranger. Be safe and scan each and every file you download from the Internet or receive through email regardless of where it came from.

4. Create a barrier between your computer and prying eyes. Anti-virus/anti-spyware programs are only effective after the effect. But you can prevent identity theft from occurring by installing a firewall. A firewall is software that checks all data entering and exiting a computer and it then blocks that which doesn’t meet specified security criteria (user-defined rules).1

5. Don’t click on website links in spam messages. In an effort to obtain personal information, some spammers will send email that asks you to click on a link. The email messages are often disguised as important messages from well-known online establishments, and they often try to scare their readers into clicking links with threats of closing an account of some sort. Sometimes the links are harmless and attempt to con the reader into volunteering personal information (credit card number), but other times the links attempt to download harmful software onto a computer.

Your best protection against computer crimes is your own knowledge. Hopefully the suggestions above will prompt you into taking appropriate action and into protecting your computer with the suggested tools. In doing so, you’ll not only protect yourself, you’ll prevent the spread of these malicious activities and protect others at the same time.

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Computer Viruses

Posted October 11, 2013 By sorris

What They Are And One Reason Why People Make Them

Over recent years, computers have become synonymous with viruses and viruses don’t show any signs of disappearing any time soon. In recent news, LiveScience.com reported that “Before the month is even done, April has set a record for virus e-mails.”1 In the past, we would be comfortable in telling new computer users not to worry about viruses and that catching a computer virus is rare. Today, that would be some of the worst advice we could give anyone. As reported in countless news reports, computer viruses are rampant and they’re extremely worrisome. This article will describe what viruses are and then point you in the direction of some rather unique protection and prevention.

In short, a computer virus is a software program designed to destroy or steal data. It attacks computers via distribution – often unknowingly – through email attachments, software downloads, and even some types of advanced web scripting. Viruses that destroy data are known as Trojan horses, viruses that explode their attacks are called bombs, and viruses that duplicate themselves are called worms. Some viruses are a combination of each, however they can be further identified according to where they’re located on a computer.

A virus originating from the boot sector of a computer is a boot-sector virus and this nasty devil does its dirty work the moment a computer is turned on. A virus that attaches itself to (infects) other programs is a file virus and activates the moment that an infected program starts. File viruses may also be referred to as parasitic viruses, however should a virus work from both the boot-sector and from an infected program, the virus is then known as a multipartite virus.

Why viruses exist remains a mystery, however we had privy access to the mind behind a virus programmer who explained his motivation behind his destructive inclinations. Apparently, this person had a deep grudge against a popular online service which shall remain unnamed. In this hacker’s mind, the online service failed to do a quality job in protecting children from online smut and as retaliation, he created and distributed a virus to as many file libraries of this service as he could. His intentions were to disable the computers of the online service’s users so much that they wouldn’t be able to connect for days. In his mind, the loss of connection meant loss of revenue for the online service.

Although the malicious code that this person generated may have worked for a small percentage of users, sufficed to say, the online service continued on and still exists today. Despite his motivation or intention, his efforts were null.

We wouldn’t be surprised to learn if other motivations behind spreading viruses were similar to this person’s, but that doesn’t justify the damage that viruses do. Innocent people become pawns for the evil plans of others who’ve convinced themselves they’re doing the “right” thing.

To protect a computer from getting a virus, or clean a virus from a computer system once infected requires the use of an antivirus utility. But may be something else we can do. Perhaps we could make an effort to educate the people who want put viruses into the public about ways to display dissatisfaction with a service or product that don’t involve harming innocent parties. In doing so, we just might reduce the number of virus news stories and protect our own investments at the same time.

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Understanding Operating Systems

Posted October 3, 2013 By sorris

Every new computer that’s brought home from the store has an operating system installed onto it. But what most new computer users don’t realize, is that without an operating system, that computer would be a simple shell of possibilities. A powered computer lacking an operating system wouldn’t display anything more than a bunch of confusing text messages that describe the computer’s boot process. At the very end of this process, the computer looks for an operating system and if not found, it will prompt the user to tell it where it is.

Earlier computers didn’t have an operating system and if you have experience with the computers of the early eighties, you’ll remember that most to them didn’t even have a hard drive! These old computers booted an MS-DOS type operating system from drivers stored onto a floppy disk, and in order to use a program, users would remove the boot floppy and then insert a new floppy that contained the program. The floppy not only stored the program (word processor, spreadsheet, etc.), it also stored the drivers that the program needed to communicate with the computer’s hardware. As you can imagine, the cumbersome process of switching from floppy to floppy prompted the birth of the operating system.

An operating system is a software program that controls how the computer’s hardware (and installed software) works. It manages the activity of every component and then displays that activity as a user-friendly interface (GUI). It keeps track of where things exist on a computer’s hard drive as well. But perhaps most importantly for the end-user, the operating system is responsible for translating commands issued with a keyboard and mouse into binary code (010110101 stuff) that can communicate with a set of speakers, a printer, a scanner, and more.

With an operating system installed onto a computer’s hard drive, users no longer need to boot a computer with a floppy disk, nor do they need to run programs from a floppy disk. All the drivers of a program are stored onto the computer and used whenever a program is started.

Apple’s Macintosh computer was among the first of a couple systems to establish a user-to-hardware relationship through a user-friendly interface. Today, we have quite a few operating systems. Some of the more popular ones are Windows Vista, Mac OS X, ZETA, IBM, Unix, and Linux. But even still, operating systems have extended onto to non-computer devices such as game consoles, portable music players, and PDAs. Regardless of the device, the operating system installed onto it serves the same purpose across the board: to enable user-to-hardware communication.

When you think about upgrading your computer to a new operating system, be careful to make sure that you have the necessary hardware components. We tried to upgrade one of our Windows 98 machines to Windows XP, but we were cautioned that the former may not be hardware compatible with XP technology. Apparently, the Windows XP operating system requires components that weren’t developed at the time Windows 98 was distributed and if we were to install Windows XP on this machine anyway, the new operating system would look for hardware that the computer didn’t have. And that would be an instant recipe for failure.

Also be careful about installing operating systems that are incompatible with existing hardware. The hardware of Macintosh computers is extremely different from the hardware of Windows computers and under no circumstances will a Windows operating system work on a Macintosh machine!

Every new computer that’s brought home from the store has an operating system installed onto it. But what most new computer users don’t realize, is that without an operating system, that computer would be a simple shell of possibilities. A powered computer lacking an operating system wouldn’t display anything more than a bunch of confusing text messages that describe the computer’s boot process. At the very end of this process, the computer looks for an operating system and if not found, it will prompt the user to tell it where it is.

 

Earlier computers didn’t have an operating system and if you have experience with the computers of the early eighties, you’ll remember that most to them didn’t even have a hard drive! These old computers booted an MS-DOS type operating system from drivers stored onto a floppy disk, and in order to use a program, users would remove the boot floppy and then insert a new floppy that contained the program. The floppy not only stored the program (word processor, spreadsheet, etc.), it also stored the drivers that the program needed to communicate with the computer’s hardware. As you can imagine, the cumbersome process of switching from floppy to floppy prompted the birth of the operating system.

 

An operating system is a software program that controls how the computer’s hardware (and installed software) works. It manages the activity of every component and then displays that activity as a user-friendly interface (GUI). It keeps track of where things exist on a computer’s hard drive as well. But perhaps most importantly for the end-user, the operating system is responsible for translating commands issued with a keyboard and mouse into binary code (010110101 stuff) that can communicate with a set of speakers, a printer, a scanner, and more.

 

With an operating system installed onto a computer’s hard drive, users no longer need to boot a computer with a floppy disk, nor do they need to run programs from a floppy disk. All the drivers of a program are stored onto the computer and used whenever a program is started.

 

Apple’s Macintosh computer was among the first of a couple systems to establish a user-to-hardware relationship through a user-friendly interface. Today, we have quite a few operating systems. Some of the more popular ones are Windows Vista, Mac OS X, ZETA, IBM, Unix, and Linux. But even still, operating systems have extended onto to non-computer devices such as game consoles, portable music players, and PDAs. Regardless of the device, the operating system installed onto it serves the same purpose across the board: to enable user-to-hardware communication.

 

When you think about upgrading your computer to a new operating system, be careful to make sure that you have the necessary hardware components. We tried to upgrade one of our Windows 98 machines to Windows XP, but we were cautioned that the former may not be hardware compatible with XP technology. Apparently, the Windows XP operating system requires components that weren’t developed at the time Windows 98 was distributed and if we were to install Windows XP on this machine anyway, the new operating system would look for hardware that the computer didn’t have. And that would be an instant recipe for failure.

 

Also be careful about installing operating systems that are incompatible with existing hardware. The hardware of Macintosh computers is extremely different from the hardware of Windows computers and under no circumstances will a Windows operating system work on a Macintosh machine!

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Protecting Children Online

Posted September 22, 2013 By sorris

Steps Toward Making Your Computer “Weirdo-Proof”

It’s an unfortunate fact of reality, but children are the most victimized computer users on the Internet today. The good news is that there are some practical steps you can take to protect your children from sexual predators, hackers, and other seedy individuals who want to cause harm. This article will describe a few of them.

The first step in protecting your children at the computer is to prevent their access to  passwords. This will keep them from sharing passwords with others and inadvertently enabling hacking into your system. If you think about it, there’s no reason why a five, seven, or even twelve year old needs to know the passwords to sensitive areas on the computer unless you’ve given them permission! In fact, children don’t need to know the password used to access the Internet either. It may be a hassle to type it in each time they want to get online, but it’s better to know the times that they connect than to have them sneak online without your permission and knowledge of their activities.

The second step towards protecting your children online is using the computer together. Siting next to your child while he or she peruses the Internet, you can guide him or her to make safe and intelligent decisions. You can approve websites and bookmark them together. You can monitor the conversations your children have with their friends and teach them appropriate online behavior at the same time. You can make recommendations and create a private time for quality time as well.

The third step involves blocking access to inappropriate areas altogether. You and your children may not always agree about what’s appropriate, but as a guardian, you’re in control and you’re ultimately responsible for their safety. Take the time to investigate software tools that put you in control and allow you to block access to certain websites. If you use an online service like AOL (America Online), you can use its internal Parental Control settings to block access to various chatrooms and websites. You could even block instant messaging and email from anyone who isn’t a fellow AOL user.

Other tools available online operate similar to the way that AOL’s Parental Control settings work, however no collection of tools could replace the reinforcement of mom and dad. Never let your children speak with strangers and never leave them alone at the computer unattended. Children just don’t have the experience that adults have and they don’t have the skills required to handle inappropriate conversations, emails, or images found online.

NOTE: Some of these tools include kid-specific web browsers that will visit pre-approved websites. Others include browser plug-ins that won’t allow access to online areas that contain forbidden keywords.

Another step requires teaching your children to never ever volunteer personal information. Under no circumstances, should children give their personal names, home addresses, phone numbers, or school information to anyone over the Internet regardless of the situation.  In the even this information is required to enter a contest of some sort, be sure that you’re the one who makes the decision to supply it and that you’re the one who does it.

Performing all of these steps won’t be easy. However you can help minimize resistance to your monitoring efforts by explaining why you’re taking these precautions. Smaller children will probably enjoy the time you spend together at the computer, but older children and pre-teens may resent it. To help build a case for your concern, you might want to show your older children a few news stories that exemplify the dangers that unsupervised children are exposed to. The newspaper is unfortunately full of examples but with your help, we can reduce them world-wide.

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Understanding Craigslist

Posted September 14, 2013 By sorris

Many people hear the name Craigslist and know it refers to some sort of website but many are still unclear about the different ways in which Craigslist can be used. However, Craigslist receives over four billion page views per month so there are obviously many people who have a better understanding of the services offered by Craigslist. Essentially, Craigslist is similar to the classified section of a newspaper where individual can either post advertisements or respond to existing advertisements. There are a variety of different advertisements offered online and presented in a group of different categories to make it easier for users to find these advertisements. Whether you are new to Craigslist or a veteran of the online community this article may offer useful information about some of the uses of Craigslist. This article will discuss the following ways visitors can use Craigslist:

* Promote your business with Craigslist

* Find a job with Craigslist

* Sell items with Craigslist

* Meet dates with Craigslist

The above are just four of the most popular options for using Craigslist; however, these four options do not cover the vastness of Craigslist. Readers of this article are encouraged to investigate Craigslist on their own to learn more about what this online community has to offer.

Promote Your Business with Craigslist

One of the most popular uses of Craigslist is for business promotion. Both small businesses and large corporations can take advantage of the free advertising offered on Craigslist to promote their business and attract new customers. Business owners are free to place advertisements on Craigslist in the section for services offered. This section is broken down into a number of categories to allow business owners to place their advertisement in the most appropriate location where it is likely to reach the target audience. There is also a section for small business advertisements but it might be more worthwhile to place advertisements in one of the appropriate categories because it is more likely to be found by interested individuals.

Participating in the discussion forums and providing insightful comments and accurate answers to questions while also placing a link to a business website can help to drive traffic to an ecommerce website. However, when doing this, care should be taken to avoid making posts which will be perceived as spam.

Find a Job with Craigslist

Individuals can also use Craigslist to find jobs. They can either browse through the listings available by selecting a location and a general category. Additionally, the search feature can be used to refine the search for a job. This may include using search criteria such as whether or not the position is a telecommute position, a contract position, an internship, a part time position or a position with a non-profit organization.

Conversely business owners and human resources representatives can use Craigslist to solicit resumes for open positions. Those who post job openings in an appropriate category on Craigslist are likely to receive a large number of responses.

Sell Items with Craigslist

Individuals can also sell new or used items through Craigslist. Here individual can post a host of items which they are offering for sale. These items can be posted into different categories and the user supplies a description of the item as well as a desired price. There are also categories for individuals to place items they are seeking as well as items they are offering free of charge. There are some restrictions placed on the type of items which can be sold through Craigslist. For example the sale of firearms is not permitted in the sporting goods section and pornographic items cannot be offered for sale in the CD/DVD/VHS section.

Meet Dates with Craigslist

Craigslist can also be used to find potential dates. There are however a number of strict restrictions enforced in the personals section. Most importantly Craigslist does not allow individuals to impersonate another individual in a personals advertisement. Those who place a personals advertisement on Craigslist have a number of categories from which to choose. They can post an advertisement seeking platonic relationships, seeking romantic relationships, seeking missed connections or other relationship related scenarios.

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Dispelling 8 Misconceptions of Organization

Posted August 2, 2013 By sorris

Some people were born organized and then there are those of us who struggle with organizing every year at this time.  It seems that it’s always at the end of the year when that little annoying bug begins nudging you to clear things up and start the new year organized.

Well, I’ve read just about everybody’s directions, books, and helpful hints about getting organized (in fact, I’m thinking of writing one myself), and I’ve got to tell you there are some misconceptions being fostered by every organizational guru.  It will be my pleasure to give you the “skinny” on that in today’s column.

Here are the 8 misconceptions that we can throw out:

  1. Handle paper once.  This is not only impossible, but in most cases it’s unrealistic.  Instead of handling paper once, get in the habit of doing something with each piece of paper to move it forward.  If you get some information about an upcoming seminar/trade show, for example, decide if you’ll attend or not.  If you’re to attend then note the date on your calendar and sign up.  If not, then toss the information immediately.  If you want to wait to sign up, then make a note in your planner to respond well before the deadline and file the paper in your “to-do” file.
  2. Always keep papers stored out of sight: Some of us work better when their desk is clear, whereas others feel stifled if they aren’t surrounded by stacks of paper.  If you’re an “out of sight – out of mind” type, keep papers you use often nearby in files or stacking bins.  They’ll be accessible, yet not clutter your desk.  When working on a project, spread out the papers related to it, and when you’re done put them away together in one place.
  3. Everyone should be organized to the same degree.   Different people work differently.  Don’t feel that you have to work the same as someone else.  Find a comfortable level of being organized, and make the necessary changes to maintain that level.  I usually draw that line when I’m looking for something and can’t find it; that’s when I know things need to get reorganized.
  4. Soon we’ll be a “paperless” society. Don’t you believe it.  Experts have been saying that for years, and we won’t be paperless for a long time.  It’s not technology that’s the problem, it is human nature that’s the culprit.  We’re creatures of habit and used to seeing things in print rather than on a computer screen.  The younger generation is now being trained on computers at an early age, so when they join the workforce, the “paperless” society will have a better chance of becoming a reality.
  5. One planning system should fit everyone.  When used correctly, daily planners are an ideal way to stay organized.  Keep in mind, however, they are designed by a few for many users.  When buying a planner, whether paper-based or electronic, determine what you want it to do and choose a system accordingly.  If you can’t find one to suit your system, design your own based on your individual needs.
  6. You have to be born organized to be organized. We learn both good and bad habits at an early age.  It’s possible to change any bad habit, including disorganization.  Youngsters raised in an organized environment sometimes rebel as adults by being disorganized.  The opposite is also true, but neither is carved in stone and behavior can be modified.
  7. You MUST use a “to-do” list. Planning day-to-day is not realistic for everyone.  Someone may do the same task every week, but others find their plans changing daily.  Consider your particular need, then plan by the day or the week.
  8. Being organized means being a perfectionist. A perfectionist may spend time on insignificant details while disregarding the big picture.  When others complete a project quickly and on time, the perfectionist continues to work until the project is perfect.  A perfectionist becomes more effective when he/she lowers his/her standards slightly and concentrates on ways to increase productivity.

Misinformation, when taken seriously, can hinder you from doing what you want.  The next time you hear one of those “Organizational Gurus” espousing one of the above misconceptions, consider its value and work to develop your own style of organizing.

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Why is it Important to Improve Your Self?

Posted July 19, 2013 By sorris

Sometimes, when all our doubts, fears and insecurities wrap ourselves up, we always come up with the idea of “I wish I was somebody else.”  More often than not, we think and believe that someone or rather, most people are better than us.- when in reality, the fact is, most people are more scared than us.

You spot a totally eye-catching girl sitting by herself at a party, casually sipping on a glass of Asti Spumanti. You think to yourself, “she looks so perfectly calm and confident.” But if you could read thru her transparent mind, you would see a bunch of clouds of thoughts and you might just be amazed that she’s thinking “are people talking about why I am seated here alone?… Why don’t guys find me attractive? …I don’t like my ankles, they look too skinny… I wish I was as intelligent as my best friend.”

We look at a young business entrepreneur and say “Wooh… what else could he ask for?” He stares at himself at the mirror and murmur to himself, “I hate my big eyes… I wonder why my friends won’t talk to me… I hope mom and dad would still work things out.”

Isn’t it funny? We look at other people, envy them for looking so outrageously perfect and wish we could trade places with them, while they look at us and thinks of the same thing. We are insecure of other people who themselves are insecure of us. We suffer from low self-esteem, lack of self-confidence and lose hope in self improvement because we are enveloped in quiet desperation.

Sometimes, you notice that you have an irritating habit like biting off your finger nails, having a foul mouth, and you – of all people, is the last to know.

I have a friend who never gets tired of talking. And in most conversations, she is the only one who seems to be interested in the things she has to say. So all of our other friends tend to avoid the circles whenever she’s  around, and she doesn’t notices how badly she became socially handicapped – gradually affecting the people in her environment.

One key to self improvement is to LISTEN and TALK to a trusted friend. Find someone who you find comfort in opening up with even the most gentle topics you want to discuss. Ask questions like “do you think I am ill-mannered?”,  “Do I always sound so argumentative?”,  “Do I talk too loud?”,  “Does my breath smell?”,  “Do I ever bore you when were together?”.  In this way, the other person will obviously know that you are interested in the process of self improvement. Lend her your ears for comments and criticisms and don’t give her answers like “Don’t exaggerate! That’s just the way I am!”  Open up your mind and heart as well. And in return, you may want to help your friend with constructive criticism that will also help her improve herself.

One of Whitney Houston’s songs says “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.” True enough. In order to love others, you must love yourself too. Remember, you cannot give what you do not have.

Before telling other people some ways on how to improve themselves, let them see that you yourself is a representation and a product of self improvement. Self improvement makes us better people, we then inspire other people, and then the rest of the world will follow.

Stop thinking of yourselves as second-rate beings. Forget the repetitive thought of “If only I was richer… if only I was thinner” and so on.  Accepting your true self is the first step to self improvement. We need to stop comparing ourselves to others only to find out at the end that we’ve got  10 more reasons to envy them.

We all have our insecurities. Nobody is perfect. We always wish we had better things, better features, better body parts, etc. But life need not to be perfect for people to be happy about themselves. Self improvement and loving yourself is not a matter of shouting to the whole world that you are perfect and you are the best. It’s the virtue of acceptance and contentment. When we begin to improve ourselves, we then begin to feel contented and happy.

 

 

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Common Sense Car Control

Posted January 19, 2013 By sorris

A national conversation about the dangers of America’s car culture is long overdue. Over 32,000 people in the US are killed by motor vehicles every year, including thousands of children. The death toll has reached the point of crisis and it is time to act.

Until now, the powerful car lobby has prevented politicians from discussing common sense car restrictions. Manufacturers, dealers and the extremist American Automobile Association have used their money and clout to squash even the most reasonable restrictions on cars. Apparently money and greed are more important to these organizations than the need to save our children.

The car lobby would have you believe that cars are necessary to get from one place to another. They would have you believe that the majority of car-owners are law-abiding and responsible people. But the facts tell us otherwise.

In California alone, over sixteen million traffic tickets are issued each year. That is among about twenty-two million licensed drivers. On average, a majority of car-owners are not law-abiding citizens. And even those who are following the law are helping to make it possible for criminals to have access to cars. Again, looking only at California, roughly 200,000 motor vehicles are stolen each year.

What the AAA is unable to explain to the public is why any vehicle should be capable of reaching speeds in excess of the legal speed limit in most states of 55 miles per hour. The only purpose of a car with a V6 engine is to speed, break the law, and kill. There are now millions of military and racing-style vehicles on the road. Cars like the Corvette, the Mazda Miata, or the BMW 3 series which have no legitimate transportation purpose. SUVs such as the Humvee, Land Rover and Jeep, which are deliberate efforts to sell military-style off-road access. Many of these vehicles are capable of killing up to a dozen people in a single crash.

Certainly none of us want to completely ban all motor vehicles. Just enhance our regulation and ban the most dangerous cars on the market. The best way to do this is by passing legislation to enact a new assault vehicle ban.

The Assault Vehicle Ban would prevent sales or manufacture of vehicles that include the following deadly features:

  • Automatic transmissions
  • High-capacity gas tanks
  • Engines capable of speeds exceeding 55 mph
  • Spoilers
  • Dual-exhaust systems
  • Hood scoops
  • ‘Mag alloy’ wheels or rims
  • High-tech navigation (targeting) systems
  • Seating capacity capable of killing more than two passengers in a single crash

In addition to the Assault Vehicle Ban, Congress should act on several other common-sense provisions to keep our kids safe.

First, we should close the car show loophole. Currently it is possible for a criminal to attend a car show and purchase a car in a private sale from another car-owner without any background check whatsoever. Cash can be paid and another criminal drives away. We need background checks and waiting periods for all vehicle purchases.

Second, it is time to tighten up on gasoline sales. Age restrictions aren’t enough. Background checks and two-week waiting periods should be mandatory for all gasoline purchases. Its a simple fact: if a criminal or a mentally ill person can’t buy gas then he can’t kill anyone with his car.

Nobody is talking about ‘confiscating’ cars. Simply restricting who can possess them, preventing them from being bought or sold, limiting gasoline purchases, and implementing some common sense prohibitions on possessing them within a mile of schools, banks, churches, government buildings, or restaurants.

The ‘wild west’ days of transportation are long behind us. Nobody ‘needs’ a car. You could ride a bike, walk, or take a train or a subway. Surely that little bit of inconvenience to millions of people will be worthwhile. For the children.

Copyright 2013 by Jackson Landers. All rights reserved. Contact [email protected] for permission to reproduce for commercial use. Non-commercial use is permitted, with attribution.

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