Archive for April, 2010
How to Handle Stress
Stress can be defined as emotional or physical strain or pain produced by the body in response to tough situations. That’s a pretty loose definition — another way of thinking about stress is as a body’s way to respond to any kind of demand, physical or mental.
Stress causes tension, pain, headaches, bad moods, and all kinds of other physical and mental symptoms that are generally bad for the body. Stress exists as a way for our bodies to cope with outside circumstances (“stressors”) and is generally considered a good thing, as long as it doesn’t get out of hand.
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When Stress Gets Out of Hand- How to Manage Stress
If you find yourself feeling “stressed” (tired, achy, wrung out) most of the time, you are dealing with a huge amount of stress. How can you cope with stress in a healthy and positive way?
Psychologists tell us that the best way to deal with copious amounts of stress is with something called the TARP method. TARP stands for: Tune in, Analyze, Respond, Prevent. This is a simple way for people to remember at a moment’s notice how to cope with stress. This simple four-step process has worked for millions of people. Let’s take a closer look at each part of the TARP method.
Tune In to Relieve Stress
Tuning in to stress means recognizing the early signs of stress so you can deal with it before it gets out of hand. Tuning in means making a habit of analyzing your body’s responses to stress and nipping stress in the bud before it gets out of hand. Look for muscle tension, perspiration, a rapid heartbeat or rapid breathing. These are all signs that you’re dealing with the beginnings of stress.
Analysis as a Stress Management Technique
We all know what it means to analyze something — once you’ve noticed the early signs of stress, you need to look into what is causing the stress so you can complete the TARP process. Scientists tell us that stress comes from two sources — external and internal. External stress can be anything from physical sources of stress like noise, heat, or cold down to demands made on you by friends or family. Internal stress is the “noise” you listen to in your head, like anxiety or self-criticism. Analyze the source of your stress and you’ll know how to deal with it.
Respond to Stress
This is the most crucial part of the TARP process. You need to learn how to respond properly to stress. Responding to stress means calming yourself either with breath control or by changing your environment. Escape the stressor, or deal with it in a healthy and direct way.
How to Prevent Stress
Prevention is something you do all the time, not just when stress happens. Prevention of stress means getting your work done on schedule, making a budget, and controlling your breathing. Do this all the time and you will be better equipped to deal with stress when it comes your way.
The TARP method is just one way of dealing with stress — albeit an effective way. You have to decide for yourself what method of stress relief works best for you. Lots of stress management tips are available on the Internet, and these are just some of the tips that we’ve found most effective in managing and handling stress.
For more information related to how to handle stress, visit the following resources:
- Stress Free Productivity
- Stress Free Moving
- How to Treat Anxiety
- How to Stop Thinking Obsessive Thoughts
- How to Simplify Your Life
Where Are They Now? Child Stars
Child stars become TV celebrities overnight after the success of a particular show. They may enjoy a few years of glory before their fandom dies out and we start to wonder — “Where are they now?” Though some child stars continue in the business, many seem to fall off the face of the earth altogether.
Here’s four child stars who led very different celebrity lives and who have all moved on to bigger (if not always better) things.
Danny Bonaduce’s story has more ups and downs than any on our child star’s list. Once the very popular Danny Partridge from TV’s The Partridge Family in which he played the smart mouthed redheaded son. Once The Partridge Family was cancelled, Danny was a washed up kid actor well into his teens who developed plenty of drug and alcohol problems. Bonaduce has started a kind of come back as a radio host, working in major markets like LA and Philadelphia, though his battles with drugs and alcohol are well known.
Most famous for his role in the popular kid’s movie Monster Squad, Gower’s “Where are they now?” story is one of the least interesting. Having turned down the role of “Bud” Bundy on the mega popular Fox television series “Married . . . With Children”, Gower was stuck doing bit parts in little-remembered sitcoms, like Mr. Belvedere, The Hogan Family, and Mr. President. He still works as an actor, performing in what can best be described as “C-list” direct to video movies and making the occasional appearance at Monster Squad showings and fan club meetings. Who knows — Monster Squad 2?
Jeff Cohen (best known as Chunk from The Goonies)
If you were a child of the 80s, you know Jeff Cohen. The Truffle Shuffle — all of it. Well there’s great news about Jeff “Chunk” Cohen — he’s shed his chunky exterior and got himself a good job as an entertainment lawyer. Cohen was voted class president at UC Berkeleyeven doing his famous Truffle Shuffle on the sidelines at their football games. Berkeley plays football? Cohen is an example of a child star who used his early success to catapult him into a successful career near to the field he loves, the entertainment industry. Cohen is a complete success story.
Soleil Moon Frye
Ahh Soleil Moon Frye — my Punky Brewster fantasies were endless and rather embarassing. Famously, Soleil had a condition that made her breasts gigantic, embarassingly so. After her success with the show Punky Brewster, she was able to have surgery to correct her problem and does voice and acting work for kid’s shows and movies, most notably Sabrina The Teenage Witch. She has had continued success, thanks to a much needed surgical procedure.
Child stars come and child stars go — some go on to better careers, some to normal lives, and some have tragic endings. Celebrity is difficult for anyone, much less a young person. The fact that so many child stars go on to have normal lives is something of a miracle.
Where Do Penguins Live?
Contrary to popular belief, these cute little aquatic and flightless birds don’t just live on ice. Popular opinion holds that penguins live only in Arctic waters, but the truth is much stranger than that.
Why Do Penguins Live Near Water?
It is true that penguins need to live near large bodies of water because they spend most of their time there, swimming and hunting. Remember, penguins are flightless birds, so they depend on swimming for most of their long-haul activity. Excellent swimmers, penguins can swim for hundreds of miles without stopping for a rest. This is why penguins prefer to live on islands and in far off places that have few predators. This allows them to swim away from danger and stay close to their food source.
Where Did Penguins Come From?
Originally, all penguin species came from somewhere in the southern hemisphere, but they are not found only where it’s cold. In fact, very few penguins live way south in Antarctica.
At least ten species of penguin live in what is called the “temperate zone”, one species (the Galapagos penguin) lives as far north as the Galapagos Islands right on the equator.
Don’t get confused — these aren’t warm water penguins. Cold water flows up to the Galapagos from the Antarctic current, providing penguins the food and cold water they need to live.
There are also huge populations of penguins in Antarctica, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and even South America. Unfortunately for those of you that live up north and want to see penguins, there are no penguins above the equator.
Here is a list of known penguin species and their habitat:
- King Penguin, Subartic islands, Tierra del fuego, South Georgia Island
- Emperor Penguin, Antartica
- Adelie Penguin, Ross Sea Region in Antartica
- Chinstrap Penguin, South Sandwich Islands, Antartica, South Orkneys, South Shetland, South Georgia Island, Bouvet, Belleny and Peter Islands
- Gentoo Penguin, Falkland, South Georgia, Kerguelen, South Shetland, Heard and Macquarie Islands and the Antartic Peninsula
- Little Blue Penguin, Southern Australia, New Zealand, Chatham Islands and Tasmania. Some reports in Chile
- Northern Little Penguin, Canterbury, New Zealand, nesting only on Banks Peninsula and Motunau Island
- Magellanic Penguin, Southern cone of South America. Coastal south Argentina and south Chile including the Falkland Islands.
- Humboldt Penguin, Coastal Peru and Chile in South America
- Galapagos Penguin, Galapagos Islands
- Jackass Penguin, South western coast of Africa.
- Yellow Eyed Penguin, New Zealand in the South-east coast of South Island, Foveaux Strait and Stewart Island and Auckland and Campbell Islands.
- Fiordland Penguin, Fiorland coast and Stewart Island/Rakiura
- Snares Penguin, New Zealand on the Snares Islands.
- Southern Rockhopper, The American Southern Rockhopper Pneguin lives in the Falkland Islands and islands off Argentina and southern Chile.
- Indopacific Rockhopper, Penguin lives in islands of the Indian and western Pacific oceans
- Northern Rockhopper, Northern Rockhoppers breed on Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island in the south Atlantic Ocean, with the remainder found on St Paul Island and Amsterdam Island in the Indian Ocean
- Royal Penguin, Inhabits waters surrounding Antartica and breed only on Macquarie Island
Where to Buy Pepper Spray
Pepper spray is an effective deterrent against all kinds of threats. This non-lethal weapon can be used to render an attacker or other threat blind, incapacitated, and unable to pursue you. Pistols need loading (and a license to carry) and the ease with which pepper spray is used makes the expense of owning and caring for a gun unnecessary. When you need a way to protect yourself, pepper spray is the most user friendly and inexpensive method.
Whether your carry pepper spray on hunting trips ( to keep away attacking animals) on the job as a security guard, or just as a private weapon for protection, it is important to buy the right kind of pepper spray.
What Kinds of Pepper Spray Exist?
There are many different kinds of pepper spray, from “fog type” sprayers to are used by law enforcement to disperse crowds or riots, to “keychain” spatter style pepper sprays you see mail carriers using against dogs. Depending on your pepper spray needs, you may want to select the keychain style, for personal protection for example. A security guard or a person wanting a larger sphere of protection with pepper spray should look for a larger “fog style” weapon, though in some areas these require a license. To keep safe, look for pepper spray canisters that offer “safety” switches to keep you from accidentally setting off your weapon. Good pepper sprays also have clips for your belt loop and maybe a few other accessories. You can pick up a good pepper spray for about $20 — a great deal for a piece of safety equipment.
Different pepper spray styles affect the victim differently — some pepper sprays shoot a “stream” of pepper spray which must be aimed pretty close to the face but also burn the skin on contact. This is why many law enforcement officials carry the fog style spray. The active ingredient of pepper spray is oleoresin capsicum, a derivative of cayenne peppers. Pepper spray will come in different concentrations of oleoresin capsicum (OC) and the lower doses are less effective than the higher. If you buy a pepper spray with too high an OC concentration, it won’t spread as well, so you should look for OC in the 5 percent range.
Where Do I Find Pepper Spray?
Depending on where you live, it isn’t difficult to buy pepper spray. I’ve seen pepper spray on sale at hardware stores, guns and firearms stores, and sometimes “super center” supermarkets. State laws will affect where you can and cannot buy pepper spray products, so your best bet is probably a gun store. Most states have no restrictions on the concealing and carrying of mace and pepper spray products. Your state may require a permit. Call your local police department and ask them what self-defense items you can carry legally, and what you will need to do to act within the law.
Remember to test your pepper spray in an wide open space every few months to make sure the trigger works, the pressure is full, and you know how to use it.
How Do You Get a Passport?
A passport is an easily recognized travel document authorizing travel and identifying you. You need a passport to enter and return to the US from most countries. Get a US passport through the government, not commercial passport application agencies, even if rushing a US passport application.
Prepare to pay a little bit — the US passport fee is $100 if you are over 18 (good for ten years) and $85 if you are 17 or under. The “youth passport” is only good for five years.
In order to get your passport, you’ll need to gather a few documents. First, print out the forms you need (as provided by the government) for a US passport to start the actual application process. Look for a passport application at any US post office or download the passport application forms from the federal website..
After you follow the instructions on the first two pages, you’ll fill out page three in black print on white paper which is 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches, with no holes or perforations, at least medium (20 lb.) weight, and with a matte surface.” Pretty specific demands for a form, so I suggest you follow them.
Along with your forms, you need to have proof of U.S. citizenship. What’s that? You need to bring one out of the following list, this according to the US Department of State:
- A certified U.S. birth certificate issued by the city, county or state (not a copy)
- Records of birth abroad
- Naturalization certificate
- or Certificate of citizenship
You’ll also need one from the following list to prove your identity–
- Previous US passport (altered or damaged passports won’t work)
- Naturalization certificate
- Certificate of citizenship
- Current, valid Driver’s license
- Current, valid Government ID, city, state or federal
- Current, valid Military ID for military and dependents
Now you’ve got your forms and two pieces of ID. What’s next? It is always a good idea to have your social security card or (at least) have your SSN memorized.
You will also need to have two photos taken. Please do not dress up for this photo — wear your civilian clothes and make sure there’s nothing covering your head. Pictures with any part of the face or head covered are not valid. Basically, you want to look like yourself in these pictures. Wear your glasses, look normal, don’t “dress up”. You can have your US passport photos taken at any post office. They do it all the time and are very aware of the photo requirements, so this is a good place to go if you’re afraid of taking an inappropriate photo.
Once you’ve got two forms of ID, your SSN, and two photos, scrape up some cash. There are application and execution fees that go into the price of a passport. These fees change a lot over time — at the time of this writing, the cost for adults is a total of $100.
To find the passport office location nearest you, check out the US Department of State at travel.state.gov. They have a handy “find a passport office” tool.
Just give the passport office your planned departure date and they’ll tell you when you’ll get your new passport. If you need it faster, you can spend an extra $60 to have your new passport sent via overnight mail.
Renewing passports is a process that follows the same steps and requirements of getting new passports.
Why Do Flowers Shops Deliver?
Flower shops deliver because the easiest way for flower shops to get their product into their customers’ hands is to deliver the flowers themselves. Flower shops do decent foot traffic selling bouquets and single-stem flowers for people on the go, but their biggest business comes from flower delivery.
Why Do People Have Flowers Delivered?
There are any number of occasions for flower delivery — any event you want to punctuate or celebrate in a special way is the right opportunity for a delivery of flowers. Any time a friend or loved one is in the hospital, flowers are a nice choice. They say “I love you, I’m thinking about you, and I want you to get better” and at the same time come with a beautiful gift that a sick person can look at and feel better. Births, illness, surgery, and even deaths are the right time to have flowers delivered.
Not all flower deliveries are so morbid. Happy times call for flowers too. Having flowers delivered immediately before a date is a classy way to make a good impression. Flowers aren’t just for women — men like flowers, too, so ladies you aren’t off the hook here. Flower delivery is also a good way to say “Congratulations!’ on the birth of a baby, a graduation, a new job, or any happy occasion.
Flower delivery works for just about any occasion, as long as you explain to the florist what the situation is — flowers for a funeral are specific and usually very different from flowers you’d send to a new bride.
How Does Flower Shop Delivery Work?
Local flower delivery works about like you think — place an order with a local florist and they’ll get the product you want delivered at the time you want via a delivery truck or van. When you want to send flowers elsewhere in the country (or even elsewhere in the world) things get a bit more complex.
Florists belong to nationwide or even worldwide networks of florists that work together to get flower deliveries out to customers. If I walk into a florist where I live in New Jersey and ask for a flower delivery to my parent’s home in Texas, for instance, my local florist will send the order to my parent’s local florist that’s on the same network as my local florist. The local florist will handle the delivery — my florist deals with me and my money and it all works out nice and neat in the end.
If florists refused to deliver flowers and required their customers to walk in and buy the flowers they want to send and deliver them on their own, it isn’t likely that people would choose that florist for future business.
Flower shops deliver flowers because it is the most convenient way for their customers to send flowers. In some ways it would be easier for florists to deal only with “in-store” business, but that isn’t what customers want. We want to send flowers anonymously, or send them via delivery because it just seems “more special” that way. In short, flower shops deliver because flower delivery is what the customer wants.
What Are Gift Experiences?
A “gift experience” is any gift that allows the receiver to have a completely interactive experience. As opposed to regular gifting, in which you give a person a wad of cash or a new pair of boxers, “gift experiences” are usually one-time-only experiences that last for a few hours.
What Are Some Examples of Gift Experiences?
The term “gift experiences” covers a huge variety of gifts, from skydiving trips to rock-climbing, surfing, and even all-day spa visits. Here’s a short list of some popular gift experiences:
- rock climbing
- white water rafting
- spa days for two
Though this list is by no means complete, you get the idea now what kinds of things make up a good “gift experience”.
How Do I Find a Gift Experience?
Though the gift experience is bigger in countries outside the US (for now) there are still plenty of gift experience packages to be found here in America.
Search online for “American gift experience” or “gift experience USA” and you’ll find hundreds of results. Depending on your specific location, you may need to find a “local” gift experience or you can plan a vacation around a gift experience that takes place elsewhere.
GreatAmericanDays.com offers nine different categories of gift experiences, everything from all-day cookings classes and thrilling pilot and flying lessons to simpler spa and yoga packages. You can find these gift experiences in cities across the country, from Albuquerque to Wichita. This makes it easy for you to find a local experience or travel to one near you.
How Do I Present a Gift Experience?
One of the big hassles in gifting an “experience” as opposed to a physical gift is that your gift experience doesn’t usually come with a physical thing to hand a person you’re gifting. Even if the company you buy your gift experience through hands you a receipt or voucher, handing someone an itemized bill lacks the romance of a gift they can hold in their hand.
Get around this by printing up a nice announcement of the gift experience — include pictures and as many details about the trip as you can. Place this in an envelope along with a detailed description of the gift experience, and hand THIS package to the person you love. This is a guaranteed win in the gifting department, especially if you keep the gift a surprise as long as possible.
What Are Some Problems With Gift Experiences?
The last thing you want to do is buy the wrong gift experience. This is really the only roadblock on your path to the perfect gift experience. If you’re buying a gift for your 60 year old aunt Betty, you may want to skip over the NASCAR experience and go more in the direction of a day-long spa trip or something a bit less adventurous. On the other hand, you don’t want to gift too close to a person’s type. Maybe aunt Betty does want to fly through the air at a million miles an hour in a fighter jet.
Choosing the right gift experience is key, as is presenting the gift appropriately. Nail these two steps, and your loved one’s gift experience will be perfect.
What Are Social Networking Sites?
Social networking refers to the act of building “networks” of people on specific websites. Social networking takes place among people who share something — a political leaning, an interest in a particular movie or musician, or an activity like yoga or gun collecting.
A social networking site is just a means for building these social networks. These sites are made up of some web representation for each network member (a “profile”) a list of their links or interests, and some kind of ‘hook’ or gimmick to set that particular site apart from the crowd.
Social networking sites are web-based, and offer their users the ability to link and build networks freely. Members interact with email or private messaging using that site’s servers.
Why Is Social Networking So Popular?
The past decade has been defined in part by social networking and the proliferation of multiple social networking options. This is probably because social networks are open-ended and easy to use.
Once you’ve set up a social network account and entered some basic profile information, you can basically sit back and let the social networking activity come to you. Social bookmarking is an even more refined version of social networking that lets users share specific links and news articles to their friends and other members of the site.
How Do You Get Started with Social Networking?
Social networking is about making ‘friends’ — some friends you already know may be a member of a social networking site, meaning you’ve got some built in social networks already. Once yuo branch out beyond your close friends who also use whatever social networking site you use, you can find new friends by joining groups (Democrats Together Against Joe Lieberman) or look for other people with similar interests (“the films of John Landis”) in order to build your social network.
Members of social networking share information in their profiles (location, basic interests, political leanings, religion, sexuality, etc) but you can also learn about a person based on the size of their network, the people in their network, their blog posts, links, etc. This has led to some “spying” on the part of people interested in learning about an old friend, old flame, or potential new employee. This is why proper privacy settings are important when you get involved with social networking.
Why Should I Use Social Networking?
There’s a high entertainment factor with social networking. Combine that with the “social” function of networking, and the ability to find news and links relevant to your interests, and social networking can be a way to make the Internet work harder for you. Its a good way to meet people with similar interests, and lots of small business owners, artists, actors, musicians and the like have used social networking to advance their careers.
How Do I Pick a Social Networking Site?
The kind of person you are will determine what social network you use. For example — use the social networking service Flixster to help you find movies and news and links about the film industry. Music lovers join sites like Lala.com, Last.FM, and others to find new and familiar musicians to add to their collection.
Another way to pick a social networking site — by type. If you’re between the ages of 13 and 18, you will most likely use Myspace. If you’re between 18 and 40, Facebook is your domain. People older than 40 have more specialized social networking needs, and join sites more by interest, such as 43Things, a “life improvement” site, or TakePart which is a social network for activists.
What Are the Most Popular Social Networking Sites?
Ranked by number of inbound links and number of monthly visitors, these are the top ten most popular social networking sites.
With 722,000,000 inbound links and an estimated 122,220,000 monthly visitors, Facebook is the King of social networking. Alexa ranks Facebook.com as the fourth most popular website in the world, meaning Facebook is a heavy hitter outside the world of social networking as well. Facebook is big in the younger set — the saying goes that “if it isn’t on Facebook, it didn’t happen”. Facebook is a popular way for employers to spy on employees and potential hires. Facebook is pretty basic as social networking goes, though there are plenty of Facebook-specific “apps” that your friends will annoy you with endlessly. If you don’t know Facebook, you don’t know the Internet.
With only half of Facebook’s inbound links (about 345,000,000) and half of Facebook’s monthly visitors (an estimated 55,599,585) Myspace is the little social networking site that once ruled the world. Now seen as juvenile or “ghetto” by most of the Facebook population (believe me — plenty has been written about the “white flight” from Myspace to Facebook), Myspace is still a good resource when looking up bands. In fact, I only use MySpace now for the purpose of checking out opening acts before a concert, or finding some new music. If you’re into independent music, having a MySpace profile makes sense. Otherwise, you’d better be a nine year old girl.
Twitter should probably be at number two on this list — they average 628,750,806 inbound links and weigh in with 23,000,000 monthly visitors, but their social impact is bigger than their numbers. With fewer monthly visitors than MySpace, they’re relegated to third. Twitter is the “it boy” in social networking now, with some people leaving Facebook (way too gauche) for the more refined Twitter. The cool part about Twitter is the ease with which you can find your favorite celebs and sports figures to follow. Unlike Facebook (just try “friending” one of your favorite musicians on Facebook) you can easily read star’s and smart people’s updates. Twitter could easily take over the number one spot on this list as more and more people join.
Rounding out the list are LinkedIn, Classmates.com, Ning, Bebo, HI5.com, Tagged, and MyYearbook.
Social networking is pretty much the rule of the web now — my dad’s stuffy import/export company has a Facebook page and uses Twitter to update their clients. Everyone’s doing it, and for good reason. With social networking, you can meet up with old friends, make new ones, or keep in touch with business associates and potential collaborators.
See also: What Are Social Bookmarking Sites?
What Are Social Bookmarking Sites?
Social bookmarking is a way of tagging (read: bookmarking) a website or blog and “saving” it for later. Much like hitting “favorite” to mark a website on your personal computer, social bookmarking sites share this saved information with other people on the Internet. This means you can share your bookmarks and favorite places on the Internet and share them with people all over the world.
Why Should I Join A Social Bookmarking Site?
Besides the fun of sharing your website finds with friends, you can look at the websites other people have “tagged” as well. Social bookmarking sites want you to look around at things people have tagged recently on the web, even people you don’t know, and find new cool stuff to share, make new friends, etc. You can search tags by categories, like technology or politics, or you can search using keywords and all kinds of other variables.
Because of this search function, people are now using social bookmarking as a kind of search engine — the theory is that people actively bookmarking and sharing links have created a kind of “spider web” of links on specific topics. These results can be more relevant than generic web searches.
Okay, So What Is Social News?
Social bookmarking applied to news stories is sometimes referred to as “social news” — social bookmarking services like Reddit, Digg, and others tend to focus on news items across all specturms — sports news, technology news, whatever. There’s lots of “headline tagging” and the emphasis with social news bookmarkers is the commenting and debate that these tags always lead to.
The only real difference between social news sites and other social bookmarking sites is their focus on newspaper and periodical articles and “news-centric” blog posts rather than any old website. Social news sites are big with people who like to debate, people looking for an alternative news source, and people who get belly laughs out of reading the over-the-top comments left on social news tags — guess which category I’m in.
What Can Social Bookmarking Websites Do For Me?
Imagine the perfect newspaper — headlines on your favorite topics cut together from the best news sources in the world. Imagine sharing your perfect periodical with all your friends (and plenty of similar-minded strangers as well). Social news can provide that, once you learn how to search and configure your searches for your needs. All social bookmarking works like this — letting web users zoom in on the stuff they want to see. Sometimes generic web searching is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack. Social bookmarking shows the detective work of other users with your interests and lets you build your links on what they’ve already gathered.
Social bookmarking web sites all show some kind of list of recently added and popular tags — this means you can stay current with the “latest news” even while zoomed in on your area of interest.
One way I use social bookmarking to find relevant sources — search for anything in a social bookmarking site and compare the popularity of the articles and websites that bounce back. The more “popular” sites are likely the most relevant — they’ve been pre approved by plenty of Internet personas before you.
Like all the big web trends of the past few years, social bookmarking started out a simple idea and blew up from there — a thing that began as a way to send your computer’s bookmarks to your friends has become something new, a “social” or “intelligent” search engine. Social bookmarking gives the whole world the ability to research and refine results instead of you relying on your own abilities on Google or Bing.
What Are the Most Popular Social Bookmarking Sites?
According to their number of inbound links (or in some cases their number of monthly visitors) these are the top ten social bookmarking sites in the world:
With 760,750,806 inbound links twitter.com is the best-known and one of the most-used social bookmarking site. Twitter.com is also considered a social networking site, and is arguably the most popular in that category as well. Something about typing in 140 characters must be very addictive — Twitter users are normally celebs or people who think they’ve got something unique to say or share. If you use Twitter, you gotta follow Roger Ebert. Man’s a maniac.
With 383,598,000 inbound links (and a ton of monthly visitors), digg.com is a close second to Twitter. Digg.com allows users to “dig” or “bury” links, meaning to give them a thumbs up or thumbs down. Enough negative votes, or “burys”, can sink a story to the bottom of the news pile, while enough thumbs-up can push an otherwise overlooked newspiece on everyone’s front page. Digg.com influences much of what you read on the Internet, including your smart friend’s Facebook status updates that just seem a little too cleverly-worded to be original.
3. Yahoo! Buzz
Boasting a hefty 20,031,000 inbound links and millions of monthy users, the Yahoo! Buzz service is a strange hybrid of social networking, PR, and social bookmarking. Yahoo allows their users to post and link to their own content, adding their own voice into the social bookmarking melee. Only around a couple years, it is kind of a shock that Buzz is here. Let’s be honest, Buzz was a Digg ripoff.
A whopping 18,244,542 monthly visitors hit up tweetmeme.com, the most popular “retweet” website. That’s right — this is social bookmarking based around another social bookmarking site, and it made the top five most popular social bookmarking list. This is why I hate Twitter.
They’re proud of their 234,000,000 inbound links over at StumbleUpon, and they should be. For almost a decade, StumbleUpon has been the go-to “social bookmarking site”, though they were doing bookmarking before it was called that. StumbleUpon is a great “intelligent search engine” that you can personalize to suit your needs.
Rounding out the top ten are reddit.com, Technorati, del.icio.us, kaboodle.com, and mixx.com.
Remember that social bookmarking is a mostly amateur service. There’s no editing and no real oversight going on here — this isn’t strictly journalism. Yes, social bookmarking has the potential change how we find info and news on the Internet. But there are some dangers in trusting info you find via social networking as much as you would trust edited content.
Social bookmarking sites make the distribution of knowledge and “cool stuff” easier, and for that it is a good tool for students, fans of the news, or people looking for a smarter search engine tool.
How to Choose a Modem
The market is flooded with wireless modems — if your ISP didn’t provide a wireless modem when you ordered your wireless service, choosing the right wireless modem can be a serious headache.
A wireless modem is a device necessary to access the Internet via a wireless network on your computer or electronic device (like a PDA). A wireless modem gives you the ability to “unplug” from your modem and use your Internet-enabled device anywhere in your home, with ranges as wide as 300 feet. Yes, you can use eBay or check your email on your back porch.
Because wireless modems differ widely (depending on what they will be used for and what devices you’ll be connecting to) it is more important to choose the right wireless modem than to choose the right wireless provider.
Check for Compatibility
First — know that there are two basic types of wireless modems, internal and external. Figure out which type of wireless modem you need. Internal modems will require installation into your computer, and are normally installed at manufacture, though some people want to “trick out” their older PC by having an internal wireless modem installed. For those of you who are looking to spend a little less for your wireless access, go for the cheaper (and easier) external modem.
Always be sure the modem you’re going to buy is compatible with your computer. You can find this out by talking to the salesperson providing the modem, looking on the modem’s box for compatibility information, or you can break down and ask someone at your ISP for a wireless modem recommendation.
Another aspect of compatibility — you need to know if you’ll be using just a computer, a laptop, or a PDA of some sort with your wireless modem. Different devices have different “ideal” modem setups. In some cases, fancy new cell phones act as a wireless modem but before you go depending on your Samsung for a hotspot, check with the phone company. You may need a wireless modem after all.
What Type of Wireless Network Do You Have?
Figure out the “type” of network you will be connecting to using wireless Internet.
There are three big names in wireless these days — CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access), CDPD (Cellular Digital Packet Data) and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service). There are a handful of others, but most customers will be dealing with one of these three types. You have to buy a wireless modem that fits with your wireless service. My ISP offers GPRS wireless service, and I had to find a wireless modem that is GPRS-compatible.
How Fast Is Your Wireless?
The “speed” of your wireless network is easiest to gauge by understanding the data transfer speed over your home wireless connection. Since different types of wireless connections have different speed limits, this can give you a clue how fast your wireless can go. You’ll need to buy a wireless modem that can handle the top speeds of your wireless network, otherwise you’re wasting money on a fast connection that you can’t catch up with. My GPRS connection can go as fast as 56 kbps, while the lowly CDMA moves at a relative snail’s pace of 14.4kbps. Remember to buy a modem that can handle the speed of your Internet service.
How Big Is Your Wireless Network?
Depending how you’ll be using your wireless modem, you may need a modem that can work internationally (serviced by GPRS-capable modems) or a good modem for domestic coverage, like a CDMA modem. Put simply, you need a wireless modem that is built for your coverage needs.
What ISP Are You Using?
There are three kinds of wireless modem interfaces used in by ISPs — PCMCIA, USB and serial port. The “interface” is basically the way the wired connection hooks up to the wireless modem. Honestly, there’s no reason to buy anything less than a wireless modem with USB interface. This interface is more flexible. If you’re using a PDA or a wireless-Internet capable cellphone, you may need a Bluetooth or 802.11b wireless interface — if this is the case, don’t forget that you can connect to the Internet via your Bluetooth device’s wireless connection.
Check For Advanced Features
When buying a wireless modem, check to see it has all the latest features — at very least, your wireless modem will need USB and Ethernet cable connectivity, backward compatibility equipment, enhanced security features, PC and Mac compatibility, etc. Depending on what your using your wireless network for, your features needs will change — but these features are the basic advanced features that any good wireless modem has these days.
Take a long look at your wireless modem’s security features. Every wireless network is vulnerable to security issues, no matter how secure, but buying a highly secure wireless modem is the first step towards protecting your wireless network. Shop only for wireless modems that contain added security features like “64-/128-bit WEP” (meaning “Wired Equivalent Privacy”) and something called WPA, which means Wi-Fi Protected Access. In truth, the most important security decisions you’ll make about your wireless network come after installation, with added software and security settings, but purchasing a wireless modem that will allow you to secure yourself as much as possible is a must.
Don’t buy any wireless modem on sight — prices are different from vendor to vendor, so shop and compare. Go online to shop for wireless modems, the prices are always lower on the web.
Buying a wireless modem may seem even more complicated now — in truth, if you buy any of the higher-end modems at your favorite online retailer, you’ll pretty much own the right modem. Do some basic research on your own to find out what kind of network you’re on and buy a compatible modem with good security features. The rest of the work is up to your ISP and to your skills in setting up your wireless network. Hopefully, you’ve started out with a good piece of wireless network machinery to build your network on.
See also: The Best Cheap Internet Deals
How to Buy Stuff on eBay
eBay is dangerously easy to use. You don’t need computer skills of any sort to buy stuff on eBay.com, beyond maybe the basic ability to type words and roll your mouse around, clicking on things. Because eBay is an auction site, and an addictive one at that, its ease of use is trouble for those of us hooked on buying and selling.
There are four basic steps to buying stuff on eBay. You’ll start by registering with the site — this is easy, don’t worry, you’ll be searching for electronics or cars to buy in a few minutes. Once you find an item you are interested in, you either buy it instantly according to a price pre-approved by the seller, or you bid on it, auction-style. Once the item is purchased (either instantly or through a bid) you will make payment for the item to the item’s owner, and they will confim shipping.
Here’s a breakdown of each step of the buying stuff on eBay process.
Registering at eBay.com
You have to register to use eBay — this will provide you with an identity to the site and to other users. This is your eBay “persona”, and the way you behave toward buyers and sellers will be reflected in this profile along with other information about you, such as your buying and selling history and a few other details. Don’t treat people like jerks — pay them on time, and ship items on time. Otherwise your profile will reflect your reputation, and people may refuse to deal with you.
Browsing on eBay
Now that you have an eBay account, you can search for items to bid on or start putting your items up for sale immediately. When searching for items, you can browse through generic categories (“books”, “art”, “clothes”, etc) or search for specific items (“1st edition of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest) to find stuff to buy.
You can search only for items with specific details, like photos, or search for items for sale by individual sellers — really, the search options are pretty varied. eBay wants to get the stuff you want to buy in front of your face.
Buying and Selling on eBay
You have two options to consider when buying and selling on eBay. As a seller, you can choose to set a “buy it now” price that, if matched by the amount offered by a member of eBay, will entitle them to claim that item immediately. This is different from a reserve, which is a minimum price accepted for an item. If a reserve is not met, the item will not sell — however, if the “buy it now” price is not met, the item will simply sell for the highest over-the-reserve bid.
Choosing “buy it now” is an option I use when I find that “must have” item. As a sometime collector of first edition contemporary fiction, I find “buy it now” particularly damaging to my checking account balance.
When you see an item that interests you but maybe you’re looking for a bargain, enter a bid. Some basic bidding strategy — if you really want to win an item but just aren’t willing to bid the “buy it now” price, go ahead and lead with your strongest bid. If, on the other hand, getting a deal is your top priority, enter the lowest possible bid that you can stand to offer and work your way up from there.
Payment for eBay
eBay does not require you to use Paypal to shop, meaning you can use a debit card or in some cases a credit card. Check the “payment methods” available before you bid, to be sure you can get your money to the seller.
Using Paypal with eBay really makes things easy, because if you register for Paypal you won’t have to reveal your credit card number during a sale. It is also simply more convenient — click on “Pay with Paypal” and the seller has their money instantly.
All sellers on eBay will have some policy on shipping — some items will be shipped for free while other users have precise figures on shipping. Whatever the policy it will be listed in the information about the item. Again, make sure the shipping policy is something you can live with before you go and place a bid.
After the seller gets paid they will send you the item. If the item is satisfactory, you’ll have the opportunity to give the seller a “positive rating”, in exchange for which they’ll give you a positive rating, if all went well. These positive ratings are important, as they speak your reputation to other buyers and sellers. Prompt payment and item delivery are the name of the game, as well as accurate descriptions of items and shipping policies.
Scams on eBay
The easiest way to avoid getting “scammed” on eBay (or just buying something that isn’t what it says it is) is to do your own homework. Look at photos of an item, request more photos if the ones provided don’t look right, are too far away or fuzzy, or if you just want to see more pictures. If the seller doesn’t want to take time to send you some extra snaps of the item, don’t do business with them. If an item’s description isn’t detailed enough or the seller won’t talk to you about the item, don’t buy it.
Basically, trust your instincts. You wouldn’t buy something in the store if you couldn’t see it first — don’t buy something unseen from the Internet.
eBay is a phenomenon — plenty’s been said about it — and buying stuff on eBay is easy. Some people have managed to turn eBay into a home business, making cash auctioning items to other members. Some eBay users register and participate once just to see what its like — or to find that extra-special gift. The point is you can dive into eBay at the level of commitment you’re comfortable with.
Now if I could just get the seller to accept $50 for a first edition of Sylvia Plath’s Two Poems . . .