I love Google Docs, but it's really gotten complex. It used to be a simple word processor and a simple spreadsheet. Now you can make collaborative drawings or use the built-in OCR to scan your text. Here are ten easy tricks you can do with Google Docs right now.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Too late. It already went away. If you didn't notice, I guess the answer is "no." The good news is that even though Google Buzz is gone, your posts aren't gone forever. Here's how you can find them again.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
" And the same day, when the even was come, he (Jesus) saith unto them (his disciples), Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them,
Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?
And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another,
What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him? "
Monday, December 26, 2011
If you don’t quite have plans this break, let us introduce to you some ideas that might enrich your resume, help you improve your existing skills or help you get started on a fantastic project.
Start A Blog On A Topic You Love
Have you always been interested in being a food critic? You could start your city’s very first restaurant review blog (find restaurants with these iPhone apps) and even be featured in local magazines for being a witty foodie and sharing your food knowledge with utmost and serious detail. I know I have a friend in my home country that did just that. Her high-resolution photographs on her blog also remind me that you might need to awkwardly try to get the perfect dish picture in the best angle while the rest of your party waits, but you gotta do what you gotta do if you’re a serious food blogger.
Another topic you could start your blog on would be a blog to improve your cooking skills.
A cooking blog may be the start of something much bigger (Julie & Julia comes to mind.) But seriously, blogging your way through your dishes might be educational as it is fun. You could record your mistakes or tips for the next time you cook something. It doesn’t even have to be elaborate if you’re not trying to impress anybody. A cooking blog entry may simply consist of one (or more) pictures and some words on what you learned from cooking this time (if you doubled the recipe or made a variation).
Once you have a topic, you must ensure your blog gets updated with consistency. Even the most well-known blogs have only become what they are today because they were updated with frequency, and their entries had consistent quality. If you’re not sure you can take on a blog that you need to update after your winter break, read on to see other ideas we’ve narrowed down for you.
Write Short Stories or A Novel/Do Your Own NaNoWriMo
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month (there’s also JulNoWriMo) and is a project that can help you get started on your first novel. The idea is that during the month of November, you try to write as much as you can of your novel. There’s a set goal of some thousands of words (50,000 to be exact) that you can choose to follow or if you’ve got the energy, you can write beyond that goal of course.
Most winter breaks are at least 2 weeks in length so if you have more than that (perhaps even a whole month of vacation), you could do your own version of this project. Set a goal of words you want to reach and just type away. Not only can you improve your writing skills, you can also exercise your critical thinking skills to develop a coherent plot and more. It’s also plenty of fun. You can also check out other creative writing projects, such as Six Word Memoirs, OneSentence.org, etc.
Do a DIY project, e.g. Arduino, old laptop hacks, etc.
James has a great series of articles on Arduino blocks that you can use to basically program a little robot to do anything you want without any programming experience. Think of it as Lego MINDSTORMS for adults. As if that doesn’t sound fun enough, you could also try other hardware projects. If you’ve got an old laptop somewhere, there’s always the digital frame hack, which is without a doubt, a great piece of conversation. You could also try a kitchen PC, complete with touchscreen functionality and the looks to kill.
If you have an old desktop PC, why not make a fun privacy monitor? You don’t need many materials aside from paint thinner, a pair of glasses, superglue, box cutter, screwdriver and an old monitor. There are countless fun projects highlighted on our site, as well as the always-interesting Instructables and Make magazine websites.
Learn A Language
We have beginner programming tutorials for several programming languages on our site, such as this one, this one and this one. If you’re not sure which ones to take on as there are quite a few choices, see this article on what you could learn for what environment (Windows programming, web development, etc.)
The official programming language websites are also very good sources to learn the respective language. One fun one is TryRuby. Codecademy is also a great way to learn basic programming in a certain language by doing and passing exercises. One site I haven’t seen anyone list is one that my Java professor had us frequent: CodingBat. There are many exercises on the latter that you can complete in Java and Python, and you can usually get a hint (or the solution even) if you get stuck, though I would suggest taking a break before re-attempting an exercise you’re stuck on to looking at the solution of course.
Perhaps you’re not so keen on learning to program. A foreign language is, without a doubt, a beautiful way to immerse yourself in another culture and expand your language skills. Want to renew those Spanish skills you worked on high school but gradually lost in college and beyond? You can start here, here and here to absorb other foreign languages as well.
Have you had a chance to start a great project you’ve always dreamed of this winter (or another past) vacation? Let us know how you spent your time in the comments below!
Training goals and company strategy:
Balanced scorecard has become popular in mid 1990s. Back then it became clear that nonmaterial assets of companies can even be even more valuable than material ones. Business is not just production facilities, real estate, investments, transport etc. So many companies tend to forget about company personnel. Ordinary employees make profits for the company. Very often top managers do not understand that as they are engaged in strategic games. When top managers came to understand this fact balanced scorecard gained tremendous popularity because this strategic management tool offered to evaluate also nonfinancial key performance indicators to measure company progress on the way to implementation of strategic goals.
Just imagine such a situation. An employee has been working for the company for 10 years on the same position, having the same knowledge and skills. Rival company always organizes training sessions for its personnel. As a result competitors start to perform better. Consequently, they manage to optimize their internal business processes, cut expenses, offer products and services at competitive prices, attract new customers and retain existing ones and gain new market shares.
Training is imperative in any business. Every commercial organization must expand and develop otherwise it will be wiped out by competitors. Development and improvements should start with personnel skills and knowledge. But training sessions should not become formality for the company. This is where balanced scorecard can help.
Through development of key performance indicators in the four balanced scorecard categories it will be possible both to measure training efficiency and align training goals with the company strategy. Strategy maps will show clear cause and effect ties. For example, improvement of personnel knowledge will result in ability to use this knowledge in relations with customers which in its turn improves customer satisfaction, while customer satisfaction leads to sales growth which means growth of revenue. This hypothetical example shows how training can improve company performance.
As said above, training goals should comply with requirements of the company strategy, its mission and core values. For example, a training session that improves employee computer skills may be absolutely unnecessary for salesmen, while the same training session would be quite beneficial for analysts and all those employees who process information.
Development of correct strategy maps will make it possible to see cause and effect ties and directions for development. If necessary, goals and measures as well a strategy in general can be slightly amended to meet new requirements of external markets.
The Power of Love:
Photo by Shannon
By Rajiv Vij
The last few months have been a difficult time for my family – during which, we lost a close family member who I loved deeply.
The shocking news from her sudden diagnosis of a lethal cancer and subsequently losing her within weeks of diagnosis have left us distraught. Yet, this whole experience has been a humbling source to reflect upon some of life’s important lessons.
As we reconcile to this irreparable loss, we have been reflecting on the entire crisis and searching for the lessons it offered us. While there are many lessons to be learnt, I would like to share what I felt to be the most important one: the power of love.
The Power of Love
As this serious illness engulfed our lives, numerous issues flooded our minds. What disturbed us the most were the questions related to the meaning of life and the predicament around what finally remains of a person and their life’s actions.
After much contemplation, we finally grasped that love is the answer. Love sustains life and is what remains after life.
Despite the challenges of the situation, somehow we were all quite calm, positive and strong. Besides our meditation practice, I believe, it was really the power of love that not only gave us this special strength during this troubled time, but also made those few weeks so precious.
The anchor of love and compassion is now providing the support needed for the grieving family.
I was steadily experiencing the shift from carrying the intellectual understanding about love in my head to experiencing it more fully in my heart over the past few years.
I have come to believe that love indeed has the strength to dissolve all our emotional wounds and differences. Perhaps, it is the only thing that lasts beyond space and time.
Emily Dickinson, the 19th century American poet, wrote,
“Love is anterior to Life, posterior to death;
initial of creation, and the exponent of Earth”.
Love brings us together, leads to our birth, nurtures us, provides us the force for growth, sustains our existence and is the legacy that eventually remains.
Motivated by Love
Despite this essence of love, we ignore paying attention to love in our daily lives. It amazes me how limiting our thoughts and actions are sometimes. We fail to recognize that it doesn’t matter what we do, but it is the motivation behind it that makes the difference.
Even a small task can spread happiness and joy around us when carried out with love and kindness.
Love contributes to furthering the cause of the universe and thereby gives our action greater meaning. Life demands that we make compassion the guiding force behind all our actions and interactions.
Accordingly, at work, these considerations can determine how we treat our colleagues and customers, and in our society, the consideration we have for the underprivileged.
Love is undoubtedly the most significant nurturing force in relationships. Yet, while we intellectually know this, are we mindful of it in our closest relationships?
These emotions make us feel separate and isolated, eventually burying the love that exists inside us. Thus, a parent’s deep-rooted love for their child, when heavily clouded by their own fears, insecurities and moments of unconsciousness, gets expressed as anger.
Love Connects Us
Consciously staying attentive to spreading love and becoming open to receiving it, we feel totally interconnected and whole.
Mother Teresa said,
“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”
Being able to love someone unconditionally and to openly receive their deepest love is an energizing emotion. Marriage, partnerships and parenting offer the greatest opportunity to practice such unconditional love.
The gratitude from experiencing love in our closest relationships inevitably leads us to be kinder in all our other interactions too. The compassion inside us starts to flow outwards—towards our friends, community and the broader humanity. As a result, the virtuous circle of love continues to grow.
Discovering Our True Selves
In the process, we journey into our inner self and connect with our true nature—one that is full of love and happiness. Our ability to love others is generally limited by our love for ourselves. Connecting with our deepest core, we start to notice the reservoir of love inside us that’s been waiting to express itself.
Like the soul is never lost, so is our true nature of love. Recognizing this is liberating—it gives us the courage to wrestle with and overcome the limitations in our life.
Experiencing deep love not only strengthens us in the present, but also makes us feel confident of the future and come to terms with our past. Reminds me of what Alfred Tennyson aptly wrote,
“I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost,
Than never to have loved at all.”
Coming face to face with the death of a loved one, I recognized that the only moment to love is . . . now. The only time to express our love and the only occasion to make someone feel special is in the present.
Mortality is not something we consciously think of while going about our daily business. However, when the relevance of all our other attachments seems to wane, the most haunting question on the deathbed can be “Did I love enough”?
This is a concern that crosses the minds of not only the dying, but also their loved ones. Did they use all the time they had with the people they loved? Did they express their love enough?
We have an entire lifetime to prepare an answer to these questions. How we respond determines the difference between feeling complete with life or otherwise.
They say love the people you fear losing so much now that you don’t miss them when they are gone.
All that is required for this is doing our best to be more aware in the present moment; being conscious of our inner thoughts, beliefs and emotions; paying attention to and choosing to affirm, our loving, kind and compassionate intention in each moment.
The Sufi poet, Rumi, captures the essence well in the following words:
“Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find all the barriers
within yourself that you have built against it.”
How about you? Have you loved enough?
How has the power of love affected you and your life story?
What can you do to express to those you love that they are deeply appreciated and cared for?
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20 Ways to Be Grateful:
Editor’s Note: This is a guest contribution by Daniel Wong
I work as an engineer, and I recently returned to the office after a one-week break.
I checked my e-mail inbox: 100 unread e-mails. A sense of dread washed over me. “There goes the next four hours of my life responding to e-mails,” I thought.
Reading those 100 e-mails made me sad. Not one of them was written with the intention of expressing gratitude or encouragement! All of them were focused on customer complaints that needed to be addressed and problems that needed to be fixed.
Even if the e-mail contained a “thanks,” it was written as “tks.” Am I not worth the one extra second it would have taken to spell out “thanks” in full?
Of course, one possibility is that I don’t produce any good work at all, so there’s no reason for anyone to thank me. But I’d like to think that’s not the case.
After talking to my co-workers, I realized that I’m not the only one who feels like I receive far too few e-mails that are positive and encouraging.
But if negative e-mails are all I get, someone has to be sending them, right? Someone needs to send an e-mail in order for someone else to receive it. So if I wanted to read more positive e-mails, I first needed to ask myself: Do I send e-mails to thank and encourage other people?
I’m embarrassed to admit that the honest answer is “Not nearly often enough.”
This is a clear case of the pot calling the kettle black. But I’m happy to say that I’ve since made a strong commitment to change that.
Being Grateful Isn’t Natural
Going out of our way to show appreciation isn’t something that comes naturally to most of us. It’s much easier to complain about people who upset us, who don’t follow through on their promises, or who behave irresponsibly.
It’s completely natural for us to focus on our frustrations and problems, instead of on what we have to be grateful for.
But hey, if we only did what came naturally to us, we’d spend all of our time watching TV, reading trashy magazines and eating fast food. This, I’m sure, is not how you aspire to live.
If you want to find real and lasting happiness, you’ll have to do many things that aren’t “natural.” One of those things is being grateful. Not just kind of grateful or pretty grateful. I’m talking about being extravagantly grateful.
We need to turn gratitude into a lifestyle.
I’m not merely referring to the e-mails you send. I’m referring to the way you view life. Once you decide that life is full of abundance, you’ll begin to see that there’s a lot for you to be thankful for.
If you’re serious about making gratitude a lifestyle, I have some ideas to help you out. Here’s a list of 20 things you can start doing today to express your gratitude and to become a more appreciative person:
1. Say it in person
It’s usually best to say “thank you” in person. Do it in private often, and do it in public even more often. There’s no better way to make someone feel appreciated than to say “thank you” publicly.
In this day and age when we’re so connected, let’s make use of this connectedness to appreciate someone, especially if you’re miles apart.
3. Write a note
If, for some reason, it’s not appropriate to say “thank you” in person or over the phone, handwritten notes are a good alternative. They might seem old-fashioned, but they’re still an effective way to show your sincerity.
When I was in college, I wrote a thank-you note to a professor who had shown exceptional dedication to teaching. I thought I was making his day by giving him the note, but his e-mail reply two days later made my day:
“Daniel, I wanted to thank you for your note. Although we are all paid to do a job, the reality is that we should be motivated by internal goals, and the positive feedback from you (in particular) means a great deal to me.”
4. Send a text
If you don’t have time to write a note, at least send a text message. It won’t take you more than a couple of minutes.
5. Write an e-mail
Use e-mail to compliment your co-worker on a job well done, to thank your friend for being a blessing to you, or to tell a former teacher how he or she has inspired you.
You’ll probably receive some kind words in return, too.
6. Give the person a hug
A hug is a great way to express your thanks. Almost everyone appreciates a sincere hug!
7. Write a poem
It doesn’t have to be long, and it definitely doesn’t have to be of Shakespearean quality. The other person will be touched by your thoughtfulness.
8. Buy a gift
It doesn’t have to be expensive, just something to show that you’re thinking about them. Even something simple, like a book or a souvenir, says a lot.
9. Buy the person dinner
This is a gesture that communicates a great depth of friendship and genuineness. If you’re a good cook, making dinner is an even better option.
10. Surprise the person
Don’t do anything stalker-ish, but if the person is a close friend, pay a surprise visit to his or her house to express your gratitude. If you want to do something more over-the-top, you can even throw a surprise party.
11. Record a video
Record a video, post it on YouTube, and send the link to the person.
12. Create a music compilation
Put together a compilation of the person’s favorite music.
13. Bake cookies
Or a cake. Everyone loves baked goods because they’re yummy, and because a lot of effort and love goes into making them.
14. Make some kind of art
You can make a picture frame, photo collage, or even some kind of painting or pottery. It’s an inexpensive way to make someone feel important.
15. Give them an imaginary award
Give the person a made-up award like “Mom of the Year,” “Most Cheerful Administrative Assistant in the World” or “The World’s Most Thoughtful Son.” Slightly cheesy but very meaningful!
16. Sing praises to someone close to the person
If you want to appreciate your friend, Marianne, tell Marianne’s mom how thoughtful and caring Marianne is. The word will definitely get around.
People who care about you deeply will be proud to hear about how you’re impacting the lives of others. In the example above, you can be sure that both Marianne and her mom will feel special.
17. Leave an online comment
As someone who reads more than 40 blogs regularly, I know it’s easy to read a good post and then immediately move on to something else that interests you.
Even if you don’t know the blogger personally, leave a comment if you enjoyed the post. Bloggers, myself included, read every comment they receive. They greatly appreciate it even when strangers compliment them.
It’s challenging to consistently produce good content, so bloggers are thankful for all the positive feedback they get.
18. Tweet it
Thank a blogger using Twitter. If you achieved good results after following a blogger’s advice, tweet him or her about it. If your thinking has been challenged through reading a post, let the blogger know.
Also, a retweet is a sure way to make a blogger feel honored.
19. Blog about it
Complimenting or thanking someone in such a public forum is a fantastic way to show your appreciation. Do an interview with the person and publish the transcript, or write a post about how he or she has made a difference in your life.
20. Keep a journal
Keep a journal where you write down at least one thing you’re thankful for every day. Doing this is scientifically proven to make you happier. (Check out this paper: Counting Blessings versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-being in Daily Life by Emmons and McCullough.)
In addition, when you feel more grateful, you’re more likely to express that gratitude freely.
~ ~ ~
Let’s make the world we live in a happier place—one day at a time, one “thank you” at a time.
* What can you do in the next few hours to express gratitude for someone? What are some things you’ve done to show someone that you are grateful and how did they respond? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments section.
About the Author
Daniel Wong is a recent college graduate who currently works as an engineer. He is passionate about helping young adults to maximize their education, career and life. He is the author of The Happy Student: 5 Steps to Academic Fulfillment and Success, which will be published by Morgan James Publishing by early 2012. You can read his blog at Living Large and find him on Twitter.
Related Articles on Being Grateful:
- Attitude of Gratitude: 5 Tools for Appreciation
- How to Be The Luckiest Person
- Living Without Regret
- The Fastest Path to Happiness
Here’s some of my 2012 reading list–what’s on yours?:
Following up from the last post, and since I’m sure we are all making the resolution to read more books next year, here are some books on my reading list for 2012:
- Hamlet’s BlackBerry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age by William Powers
- The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick
- What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly
- The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires by Tim Wu
- The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption by Clay A. Johnson (not yet available)
- Join the Club: How Peer Pressure Can Transform the World by Tina Rosenberg
- Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson
- A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change by Douglas Thomas
- The Internet of Elsewhere: The Emergent Effects of a Wired World by Cyrus Farivar
- Consuming History: Historians and Heritage in Contemporary Popular Culture by Jerome De Groot
- Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath
- Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren’t the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room by David Weinberger (not yet published)
- many many archives-related books
Right now I’m reading Processing the Past: Contesting Authority in History and the Archives, by Francis X. Blouin, Jr. (Bentley Historical Library) and William Rosenberg (Univ. of Michigan). This might make a good virtual book club topic if people are up for it next year.
What about you–what’s on your reading list?
Meet EzineArticles’ Expert Author Carla McNeil in Today’s Author Showcase
Experts have SO much to do! It can be tough balancing all of the items on your to-do list, clearing your head, and focusing on article writing. That’s why Expert Author Carla McNeil’s approach, while simple, is incredibly successful.
A writing session in Carla’s day begins with a morning walk with her dogs to help her “get out of her head” and focus. Afterward, she will sit in her easy chair with her laptop and write for a solid 15 minutes. “I am not allowed to do anything else,” Carla stated. “If I am not writing, I am doing nothing. No email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. – Nothing! There has been an occasion or two where I have sat for a couple of minutes, but usually sooner than later I start writing.”
As a Social Media Expert, whose experience has also provided incredible insight into stress management, motivation, and time management, Carla stated, “I realize what a valuable tool article marketing is in the overall scheme of my business. Not only does it keep me learning, but [it] continues to be a great source for people who are interested in learning about social media or having it managed for them.”
When Carla first started out in article writing, she began writing based on her own experience to solve her own questions and challenges. “I figured other people were probably having the same challenges,” she commented. “[I] thought if my articles could reduce that stress just a little bit, it would be nice.” Currently, Carla’s inspiration for her articles comes from questions submitted by people on social media sites and staying up-to-date with the latest social media trends.
Admitting if she had to do it all over again, Carla remarked she would have strived to get more articles out to her readers more quickly. Why? “Nothing beats getting the feedback that my article helped someone solve a problem,” Carla replied.
5 Tips For Expert Authors
- Stay the Course: It’s easy to get distracted, lay down excuses, and more, but the ultimate key to your article writing success: “Perseverance and commitment… Just keep writing,” Carla said.
- Schedule: Sticking to a schedule of writing for at least 15 minutes each morning may seem like a chore, but cultivating a routine and eliminating distractions can turn even just 15 minutes into a powerful writing session.
- Apply Pressure: Step into success by focusing on the results. Don’t allow yourself to hide behind relationships, responsibilities, and excuses. Apply pressure to learn and grow!
- Brainstorm Titles: Create an on-going list of titles to have on hand. These can grow from ideas you develop from reading blogs, articles, books, and more!
- Repurpose Articles: Extend the life of your articles by repurposing them into ebooks, programs, videos, and more. “My biggest challenge was realizing that all of the articles I have written can be combined together into ebooks or programs,” Carla state. “And voila I have a product!”
Develop a long-lasting relationship with your readers to increase your credibility and exposure to your website or blog by using Carla’s strategies in your next set of articles. Remember: You are not alone! Your challenges and your inspiration may be your reader’s too. All you need to do is stay the course and continue to challenge yourself to persevere.
Do you have a question or comment for Carla? Feel free to leave it in the comments section below.