Minggu, 31 Juli 2011

0 How To Maintain Healthy Habits When Traveling

When I learned that Jay White, the founder of Dumb Little Man, frequently travels in his sales career, this immediately brought back memories of my own business travels during my years in pharmaceutical sales. I was traveling 25% to 50% of my time on overnight trips, sometimes for an entire work week.

Although there are great health tips on this awesome blog, I’m sure that for those of you who travel on business and even for everyone else who has gone somewhere on vacations, you will agree that it’s often quite a challenge to maintain healthy habits while away from home. Many people end up either gaining weight or losing weight after their trips and I’m not talking about desired weight changes either.

So here are some tips that I’ve learned to adopt during my travels to help you stay healthy while away from home.

Get Proper Nutrition
While it’s much easier to follow a healthy balanced diet with home cooking, it’s often very challenging if you have to eat out for all of you daily meals during travel. Here are some ideas that may seem obvious, but I'd challenge you to think back to your last business trip. How many of these did you really follow?
  • Avoid hotel breakfasts loaded with fat and salt (sausages, bacon, pastries, fried potatoes)
  • Start your day with fresh fruit, yogurt and cereals
  • Definitely pass on fast food breakfasts but don’t skip a healthy one
  • Stay with lighter fare lunches especially if attending conferences all day
  • Find good salads and lower fat, whole-wheat sandwiches for lunch
  • Don’t overeat at dinner, especially at buffets (or you’ll feel it back in your hotel room)
  • Minimize the amount of fried, fatty foods at restaurants
  • Drink lots of water with your meals and limit alcohol (hangovers during travel are no fun)
  • Don’t overdo the trips to the coffee shops during the day
  • Avoid junk snacks - pick up some fresh fruit at local grocers instead
  • Pack enough multivitamins to last your entire trip as inexpensive diet insurance
Exercise On The Road
As I remember all the big meetings and conferences I’ve attended, it’s incredible just how few travelers stay active on the road. With overeating and inactivity, it’s no wonder why many travelers end up gaining weight. So here are some tips to stay active on the road.
  • Use the hotel/cruise ship gym as even 20 minutes on a cardio machine will help prevent travel weight gain
  • Do laps in the hotel pool if there is one (always pack your swimwear)
  • Use the hotel gym weights even if you have to modify some usual exercises
  • If the neighborhood around the hotel is nice and safe (ask the concierge), take a brisk walk outside
  • If no gym, do basic calisthenics plus low impact cardio inside your hotel room
  • Although tempting to socialize into the wee hours, get adequate sleep
It’s Possible To Keep Healthy During Travel
So it is indeed possible to keep healthy during your travels. Although you may have to take some extra efforts to get the proper nutrition and enough exercise in during your time away from home, much of the challenge comes from the fact that you have to do what most other travelers will not be doing. You will be among a minority who do eat healthy and take time in the gym. But don’t worry about what others are doing as it is your own health that matters.

Happy travels and if you have additional tips on how to stay healthy or are willing to share some of your challenges while away from home, please leave your comments below.

Written on 7/31/2011 by Clint Cora. Clint is a motivational speaker, author and Karate World Champion. See his free 3-part Personal Development Video Series on how to expand your comfort zone to conquer even your most daunting goals in life.Photo Credit: Matt Phillips

Sabtu, 30 Juli 2011

0 Goodbye, Google Friends!

Google Friends is Google's monthly newsletter that included the latest announcements and product releases. 13 years after the first newsletter issue, Google announced that Google Friends will be retired.
It's hard to believe, but this monthly missive is now 13 years old. We hope you've enjoyed reading it over time, and wanted you to know that we are retiring it in its current form.

As you may know, the Google Friends Newsletter was created by Larry Page in April 1998, when Google was still on Stanford servers. In the early days, the Friends notes offered newsy details like "We are gearing up to do another crawl. We should start within a few weeks" and tips on tweaking your search queries.

Obviously a lot has happened since then, including changes in how we communicate updates to all of you. So this will be our last Google Friends Newsletter. We started the Official Google Blog in 2004 and joined Twitter in 2009, and we've seen dramatic growth on those channels. Meanwhile, the number of subscribers to this newsletter has remained flat, so we've concluded that this format is no longer the best way for us to get the word out about new Google products and services.

Google Friends started as an eGroups mailing list, then it became a Yahoo Group and was later moved to Google Groups. "We used the company eGroups to mass-mail our Google Friends newsletter to users, because Larry's brother, Carl, was one of eGroups founders. Larry had done the configuration for the original eGroups server himself, and for a while the company's computational heart has lived under his desk. The same week we announced our deal with Yahoo, Yahoo announced they were buying eGroups for $428 million (Yahoo has been very kind to the Page family)," remembers the former Google marketing director Douglas Edwards.

The early issues of the newsletter include a geek-friendly changelog of Google's search engine. You'll find about the long-gone operator flink: (forward links), the PageRank bar displayed next to each search result and Google's plans to "have a much bigger index than our current 24 million pages".

"After combining our web server and search engine for better performance, we have been experiencing intermittent problems with our system being down for short amounts of time fairly frequently. If you have trouble getting to the system, try back in a minute or two, and it should be back up." (July 1998)

This is a paragraph you'll never find in a Google blog post, Twitter message or a recent Google Friends issue.

{ Thanks, Tomi. }

0 Templates for Google Contacts

Gmail added a new feature that makes it easier to add a new contact: templates. If you click "More actions" when you create a contact or edit an existing one, you can select the business template to quickly add fields for the job title, company name, mobile phone and work phone.

The default template is more generic:

Google Contacts lets you add or delete fields, but you can't delete the fields from a template. Hopefully, Google will allow users to create custom templates and import some of the data from Google Profiles.

{ Thanks, Herin. }

0 Google Related

Google Toolbar 7.1 for Internet Explorer has a new feature that shows Web pages, news articles, places, images and videos related to the current page. The feature is called Google Related and it's a bar displayed at the bottom of the page.

"Google Related is a browsing assistant that offers interesting and useful content while you are browsing the web. For instance, if you're browsing a page about a restaurant in San Francisco, Google Related will assist you by displaying useful information about this restaurant such as the location of the restaurant on a map, user reviews, related restaurants in the area, and other webpages related to San Francisco restaurants - all in one place," explains Google.

If you go to the Wikipedia article about Adele, Google Related shows 5 YouTube videos, 5 articles from Google News and 5 pages from Google Search.

Google Related is another feature that requires sending the list of all the pages you visit to Google's servers. To find related pages, Google needs to know the URL of the page you're visiting. The so-called "enhanced features" (PageRank, SideWiki, Google Related) send Google a lot of useful data. One of the most interesting ways to use the data is a feature that shows if a site is slow. Like all the other Google Toolbar "enhanced features", Google Related can be disabled from the "Options" dialog by clicking the "Privacy" tab.

Apparently, Google Related only works if you've configured the toolbar's search site to be Google.com (United States of America - .com), so you may need to change this setting to enable Google Related.

Jumat, 29 Juli 2011

0 Microsoft's Gmail Man Ad

Mary-Jo Foley found a Microsoft ad that tries to convince businesses to choose Office 365 instead of Google Apps because Gmail shows targeted ads. Microsoft created a character called Gmail Man, a postman that doesn't care about people's privacy and reads their messages to find related ads.

The irony is that the paid version of Google Apps doesn't show ads, even though administrators can choose to enable them. I thought that the whole "Gmail reads my mail" myth was debunked back in 2004 and people realized that online email services already used algorithms to index messages and to find spam.

"It was a fascinating angle in 2005 while Gmail was still new and under all kinds of scrutiny, but today, who cares that your emails are automatically scanned, really? Even before Gmail, ISP's already had the ability to read all your emails, but it has never really stopped anyone from using the email service of their choice," thinks Cédric Beust, a former Googler.

{ via Daring Fireball }

0 New Interface for Google Books

Google Books is the latest Google service with an updated interface that's cleaner and more consistent. Unfortunately, this means there's more white space and less space for books. For example, on a 800x600 resolution almost two thirds of the screen are used for navigation elements. Even if you click the "full screen" button, Google still displays the navigation bar, the search box and the toolbar buttons, while hiding the sidebar and the book's title.

It's clear that the new Google+ interface is not suitable for all Google services and consistency sometimes makes Google's tools less useful. Displaying the navigation bar and the search box takes away valuable space and this is especially noticeable if you use a netbook. The new interface is not flexible or elastic, like Google intended. "The new design will soon allow you to seamlessly transition from one device to another and have a consistent visual experience. We aim to bring you this flexibility without sacrificing style or usefulness," explained Google. It seems that the new design sacrifices usefulness for the sake of consistency.

{ Thanks, Kon Young. }

0 Gmail's Auto-Forwarding Notice

Google decided to show a pink bar which informs Gmail users that their messages are automatically forwarded to another email address. The annoying "you are forwarding your email to ..." is displayed for about 3 minutes every time you open Gmail this week.

The explanation for this temporary annoyance is that some malicious software or other people who gain access to your account can setup auto-forwarding. "For about a week, this notice will appear for a few minutes each time you sign in to your account. Displaying the notification in this way helps ensure that you have a chance to see the notice, rather than someone who might try to gain unauthorized access to your account and use this setting improperly. The notice will disappear immediately if you choose to disable the forwarding setting, but that decision is up to you," mentions Google.

So that's the reason why there's no "dismiss" link and you're forced to see the pink bar again and again. Maybe it would be more useful to show this message for one week after auto-forwarding has been setup.

If you no longer want to see the message, temporarily disable auto-forwarding, switch to the simplified HTML interface or pin the Gmail tab if you use Chrome, Firefox or Opera. Another option is to add this filter in AdBlock Plus: mail.google.com##.fVKDI (the extension is available for Firefox and Chrome).

0 Was Mom Wrong? Maybe You Should Play with your Food

If your mom was anything like mine, there were always lots of rules when it came to meal times. One of the biggest no-nos in our house was ‘playing with your food’.

While I get where my mom was coming from in terms of waste, mess and that we should be respecting our food, now that I’m all grown up, I’ve realized there are times when playing with your food may actually be beneficial.

Food can be one of life’s great pleasure. But there can also be a lot of anxiety around healthy eating, not to mention the guilt that comes from over-indulging in crap. And given that we must eat every day, if we aren’t careful, it can become a chore. Another task that must be checked off.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. Maybe your mom was wrong? Here are 7 good reasons you should play with your food.
  1. Play encourages mindful eating.
    If we play with our food, our attention will be in the moment giving us a chance to appreciate what we’re eating rather than mindlessly munching away. This mean we will be more likely to really enjoy and find pleasure in our food. How many times are do you find yourself with a bag of chips and in front of the TV? Handful after handful you devour these things simply because your attention is elsewhere.

  2. Play makes mealtime fun.
    Taking a more light-hearted approach to food can make a real difference to how much fun you have at dinner. And it doesn’t mean you need to toy with your food on the plate.

    For example, try coming up with more creative names for dishes to bring a little sunshine and fun into meal times. In our house we have ‘mermaid pie’, rather than boring old fish pie. And this brings out the story of my friend’s grandma.

    When she was a child, she told her dad that the fishermen in her village had been filling her head with tales of mermaids. Her dad’s response was ‘Yes, they would see plenty of mermaids through the bottom of a whiskey glass’. This prompted her to head down to the sea shore with a glass in hand in search of illusive creatures. Too cute.

  3. Play helps us connect with our loved ones.
    It can be difficult to reach out and nurture our closest relationships if we are stressed and uptight around the dinner table. Some shared laughter and a bit of silliness with broccoli or broad beans can really bring the family together.

  4. Play encourages creativity and exploration.
    By making the decision to introduce some fun into meal times, we are opening ourselves up to more creativity and an exploration of the wonderful world of food.

    It can be easy to fall into a rut with our food. There’s nothing like eating the same old thing every week to give us food boredom. A little playfulness will encourage us to eat a wider variety of foods, which can only be a good thing both nutritionally and psychologically.

  5. Play helps us relax.
    After a long day at the office, we can all benefit from a bit of play both preparing and enjoying our evening meal. No only does it give us a chance to unwind from the day, it prepares us for a well earned, rejuvenating sleep.

  6. Play reduces over-eating.
    By playing with our food we become completely engaged with what we’re eating. This makes it much easier to recognize when we are full and stop eating when we should, rather than mindlessly gorging and ending up overstuffed again.

  7. Playing with your food gives you an excuse to bake!
    Slurping on noodles can bring hours, OK minutes of joy. Letting the juice from a perfectly ripe watermelon run down your arms is fun even without the wonderful sweet taste. But baking in general, and making cookies in particular, is where playing with your food really comes into its own.

    Creaming butter and sugar, folding in flour, bashing chocolate into submission so you have the perfect chunks, forming your dough into cute cookie shapes. And all that before we even think of getting to the eating part.

    So when I’m finding myself in need of a little more play, I know its time to bake. These salted chocolate chip cookies are my current go-to treat. In fact, here is the recipe so you can get started! Be warned, they’re dangerously good fun.

At the risk of being kicked out of the dark chocolate lovers club, these cookies are actually better with a lower cocoa content chocolate. I used a bittersweet or 58% cocoa chocolate and they were just right.

The mixture will keep in the fridge or freezer, so no need to bake them all in one go.
  • 150g (5oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 250g (9oz) light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 225g (8oz) plain (all-purpose flour)
  • 225-285g (8-10oz) dark chocolate
  1. Whizz butter and sugar in a food processor or stand mixer until light and creamy. Add egg and mix until well combined.
  2. Add 3/4 teaspoon baking powder and 3/4 teaspoon bicarb soda to the flour and mix to combine.
  3. Fold butter mixture into the flour until only just combined.
  4. Chop chocolate into chunks and add to the dough. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes but no longer than 72 hours.
  5. When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 180C (350F). Line 2 baking sheets or trays with baking paper.
  6. Scoop ⅓ cup balls of dough and place on the prepared trays. Allowing room for them to spread. Sprinkle liberally with sea salt flakes.
  7. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until cookies are golden. The bottom tray may need a little longer. Cool on the tray.

Written on 7/29/2011 by Jules Clancy. Jules Clancy is a qualified Food Scientist and the creator of The Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School. She blogs about simple 5 ingredients recipes that can mostly be prepared in 10 minutes over at Stonesoup.Photo Credit: valentin.d

0 Google's Tablet-Optimized Interface

Google's services don't usually have interfaces optimized for tablets. They either use the desktop version (Google Search) or use the mobile version (Google Calendar, Google Docs). An important exception is Gmail, which started to test a tablet UI shortly after iPad's launch.

Google tests a new homepage and a new search interface for tablets. Unlike the standard desktop version, the new UI places the navigation menu and the search options sidebar at the top of the page, so that the search results take up most of the space.

Amit Agarwal, who first spotted the experimental design, says that it's cleaner. "The new Google design uses a single column layout, while the old sidebar options appear between the search box and the search results. There's plenty of whitespace between search results and links to the Cached version of pages have been removed in the new design."

The new layout is more readable and it's also used for specialized search engines like Google Image Search and Google News. Google Image Search for iPad now uses infinite scrolling and shows a lot more results. Unfortunately, the list of missing feature is impressive: no Google Instant or Google Suggest, no links to the cached pages or to the mobile transcoder, no link to the advanced search page.

I've only seen the experimental UI in iPad's mobile Safari, but I'm sure that it should also be available for Android tablets like Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 or Asus Eee Pad Transformer. Clearing browser's cookies might help.

Update: Google Mobile blog informs that the new UI "is rolling out in the coming days to iPad and Android 3.1+ tablets across 36 languages."

{ Thanks, Mushaf. }

0 Google Hotel Finder

Google launched an experimental service that would've been perfect for Google Labs: Hotel Finder. The service lets you find a hotel in US and it has a few clever features that make it stand out.

You can add shapes to the map to restrict the list of results to your favorite areas. Google highlights the most popular areas to help you. By default, Google creates a shape based on the most popular places.

Using shapes to filter results is not an original feature, but it's useful and it's surprising to see that Google Maps didn't add it.

After selecting the location, Google lets you pick the check in and check out dates, choose a price range, a hotel class and restrict the results to hotels that have great user ratings.

Another cool feature is that the results can be expanded inline so you don't have to open a new page to see some photos and read the reviews. Add the hotels you like to a "shortlist" to quickly compare them.

Google Hotel Finder is also useful to find great deals. The "compared to typical" section offers some information that's not easy to find by comparing the current prices with the historical averages.

Unfortunately, you can't book hotels using Google's service, at least not directly. Google Hotel Finder sends you to sites like Booking.com, Priceline, Expedia, Travelocity.

For now, Google Hotel Finder only works for US hotels, but it's a surprisingly strong offering. While there are many features that need to be added to compete with Bing Travel, Google's service is really promising. It's fast, easy to enough and offers helpful information that's not available elsewhere.

Selasa, 26 Juli 2011

0 13 Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes That Transformed My Life

It was well over a decade ago, and a time in my life where I desperately wanted to discover the very purpose I had been planted on planet earth. I knew that I had something of significance to offer others, but yet didn’t know what it was.

I had an inkling that it had something to do with my natural ability to create words. From the age of 14 I had begun to shape lyrics for my original songs that I composed. I loved to read and write poetry, and so day in and day out I found myself sharpening my talent on the grindstone of consistency and practice. Deep within me I knew that I had books in me as well. Little did I know that those skills would one day take me into the world of the blog.

I had written three books and had been rejected by publishers and literary agents all over my country. And yet I pressed on with another creation. Ultimately I have successfully self published a number of books to date and even assisted three other authors get into print with sales in both my own country and the U.K.

My Personal Search For ‘Liquid Gold’
One of the ways that I sustained myself during this ‘desert’ period of my life was by planting myself physically in my local university library in search of ‘liquid gold’. I was voraciously searching for mentors whom I could draw upon as I was creating my own voice and unveiling my personal uniqueness.

And in my search through the tens of thousands of volumes that were presented to me as I walked through the doors of that library, I stumbled across a man whom I had seen quoted time and time again in other books that were in my personal possession, and his name was Ralph Waldo Emerson.

To my joy, I found his original volumes in the depths of the library’s basement, and it is there that I visited day after day and week after week until I had read nearly everything he had ever written. I took notes and created my own personal summary through the eyes of someone seeking inspiration, motivation and a sense of worth. I didn’t like or necessarily understand everything that he wrote because he had written in another century and used the language of his times. But there were moments when his heart penetrated my very own – and his words burnt deep into the very depths of my soul.

So here are just 13 of his quotes with some short commentary from myself as I now return, after many years, to dwell in their company and share him with you.

To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men – that is genius.

It is amazing how what I write resonates with the hearts of men and women from all around the world. Writing in one sense is a selfish endeavor, because we write for ourselves in most cases – but the beauty of writing for yourself, and even at times about yourself, empowers your readers as they face the very same challenges and seek answers to the same issues. And let’s face it – that it is the nature of human beings to love a good story.

Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.

Through the years I have had to learn how to trust myself. I have stepped out in business, published books, created blogs and online courses not knowing whether or not they would succeed – but when you do that there is a strength that is implanted deeply into your heart – an inner vibration that creates music – and that music is aligned to your passion. And what a wonderful place it is to reside.

Do that which is assigned you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much.

Identify your strengths and then make your strengths strong. This is a principle that has stood me in good stead for many years now. When you identify your personal uniqueness and then proceed to operate your life from that center, then the world becomes your oyster. That’s where the magic happens. That’s where the opportunities come. That’s where the finance flows. That’s where the resources rise to the surface.

Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.

To be happy with who you are – therein is peace. To be true to your inner compass and to the principles that build a strong life – filled with integrity. That enables one to be able to sleep at night and to never have to look over one’s shoulder. The ability to say ‘no’ because of your principles is a powerful weapon for good in your life.

Like the wounded oyster, he mends his shell with pearl.

This is where bitterness is transformed into betterness. This is where rejection is changed into a trajectory forward. This is where another ‘no’ is one step closer to the ‘yes’ that we are in search of. This is where forgiveness overcomes harm and love covers a multitude of sins. Longsuffering. Patient. Kind.

Always do what you are afraid to do.

Fear is terrified of action. We cannot escape the tentacles of fear – but we can remove their power by being a man and woman of action. Operate as one whose tribal cry is ‘Do it now!’ and ‘Action cures fear.’

What is the hardest task in the world? To think.

Now what a great thought. But this is where periods of solitude are required to hop off the treadmill of life as it were. Thinking is hard work, and yet so rewarding. Whenever I think I create but one thing – ‘magnificence!’ How about you?

Good thoughts are no better than good dreams, unless they are executed.

The execution is of prime importance. We must be inspired into action or else we remain unmoved and unchanged. Thinking forms the foundations for the construction of great edifices. Once you have thought, then roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Divine persons are victory organised.

I never consider losing. It’s not in my make-up. I have a catch-cry, which I declare in the midst of my day – ‘I will find a way!’ But alas someone comes along and says that it is impossible and that I will never make it. I stuff my fingers in my ears and continue to say but one thing – ‘Nothing is impossible to me because I believe – and I will find a way.’

Humility is the secret of the wise.

The great men that I know personally are those who walk in humility. I have seen rich men who are not humble and yet I witnessed poor men who know no vestige of humility within their bones. And yet I have met others from both ends of the spectrum who reflect a spirit of humility - in all that they do and say – and they light up my life.

Thus the so-called fortunate man is one who…relies on his instincts, and simply does not act where he should not, but waits his time, and without effort acts when the need is. If to this you add a fitness to the society around him, you have the elements of fortune.

Timing is everything. Success comes when there is a collision between preparedness and opportunity. If you can supply what is needed by society – provide an answer to their question, a solution to their problem, food for the hungry, and education for those who wish to learn – therein lies your fortune.

Here are the two capital facts, genius and drill.

Each of us has been born with a genius. There is something that each of us do very well. It has been assigned to us, and yet many of us ever really pause in life to discover it deeply and then apply the other necessary ingredient. And that is drill. That is practice. That is taking that which is good and making it great. That is pursuing your niche. That is unveiling your uniqueness. That is finding your voice and learning how to vocalize - not like everybody else - but your way. That requires you to at times to swim upstream, to go against the flow, to stand out in the crowd declaring – ‘here I am, and here is what I offer to create a much better world – that is now better because I have not hidden my gift – and have risked rejection by bringing it forth in public.

And a final word from Emerson:

The enthusiast always finds the master, the masters, whom he seeks. Always genius seeks genius, desires nothing so much as to be a pupil and to find those who can lend it aid to perfect itself.

I found my master deep in the depths of that university library.


Because in the words of the master himself, ‘the enthusiast always finds the master, the masters, whom he seeks.’ Oh yes and that I did – because Emerson introduced me to all his friends from throughout all the ages, and we have had and will continue to have a wonderful time communing with each other - both now and into eternity.

How has Emerson impacted your life, or have there been others whom you could recommend?

Motivational Memo: To become a master we need to put our feet in the footprints of the whom have gone before us.

Written on 7/27/2011 by Peter G. James Sinclair . Peter is in in the ‘heart to heart’ resuscitation business and inspires, motivates and equips others to be all that they’ve been created to become. Receive your free copy of his latest eBook Personal Success Blueprint at – http://www.motivationalmemo.com and add him on Twitter @PeterGJSinclair – today!Photo Credit: Joe M500

0 Rebooting Massachusetts

[Image: From Redraw, Reboot by Ryan Sullivan].

Designer Ryan Sullivan recently got in touch with Redraw, Reboot, a series of new maps for the U.S. state of Massachusetts.

[Image: From Redraw, Reboot by Ryan Sullivan].

Sullivan's maps "explore new boundaries for municipalities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts," he explained. "They range from a John Wesley Powell-inspired watershed map to a Voronoi-driven Dunkin' Donuts township map."

[Images: From Redraw, Reboot by Ryan Sullivan].

The project began with a series of questions: What if the official internal boundaries of Massachusetts were entirely erased? "How would we redraw them? And how could new municipal boundaries better align government with our needs today?"
Many of Massachusetts’ town lines were based on geographic features; forgotten disputes among parishes; long-dead landowners’ property lines; and, yes, craven political gamesmanship—this is, after all, the state that invented the gerrymander. Now, as the Commonwealth contends with the politics of congressional redistricting, we realize how arbitrary many of these designations are.
Of course, Sullivan's suggested replacements are less serious political proposals than whimsical parameters for a surreal new state to come—its jurisdictions defined, for instance, by doughnut consumption—but if we are to redesign the political units through which contemporary governance functions, I suppose you have to start somewhere.

In any case, the images seen here are just a glimpse; they were all originally published in and commissioned by ArchitectureBoston.

0 Updated Code for Google +1 Buttons

As reported last month, the code for Google +1 buttons could be improved so that the buttons load faster and stop blocking other resources. Google updated the code and recommends publishers to generate a new code.

"We're introducing a new asynchronous snippet, allowing you to make the +1 experience even faster. The async snippet allows your web page to continue loading while your browser downloads the +1 JavaScript. By loading these elements in parallel, we're ensuring the HTTP request to get the +1 button JavaScript doesn't lead to an increase in your page load time," explains Google.

Google also optimized the existing code so that the button renders up to 3 times faster. Even if you don't update the code, you'll still benefit from these changes.

The code generator is easy to use and I've noticed that a lot of sites added a +1 button next to Facebook's "Like" button. It's unfortunate that Google didn't optimize the code when it was released.

0 Design Refresh for Google Web History

Google Web History is a service enabled by default when you create a Google account. It saves all your searches and the search results you click so you can quickly find them later and to help Google personalize results. It's called "Web History" instead of "Search History" because Google Toolbar has a feature that lets you send Google your browsing history.

Google updated the Web History interface to make it more consistent and easier to use. The new interface seems to be optimized for removing searches, not for browsing your history. There's a huge checkbox button at the top of the page and a button for removing "all Web History". While it's nice to see that Google doesn't hide the button for deleting search/browsing history, using a button for such a rare and destructive action feels wrong. It's like placing a button labeled "Delete all your messages" in Gmail's toolbar.

The previous interface included a special mode for removing items. When you clicked "remove items", Google added checkboxes next to the items and a "remove" button. The standard interface included star icons so you can quickly bookmark pages. Now the stars are a lot smaller and more difficult to see. It's likely that most people who visit Google Web History want to remove items or clear the entire history, not to search Web History or to bookmark pages.

{ Thanks, Louis. }

Senin, 25 Juli 2011

0 3 Forms of Radical Relaxation

At the end of a long day, you probably want nothing more than to relax. You’ve spent hours writing emails, attending meetings, and commuting. Now it’s time to unwind and recharge for the next day’s battle.

But here’s the thing. Most of what we call “relaxation” isn’t actually all that relaxing.

Take watching TV. The television gives you an illusion of relaxation. You get to plop down on the couch and lose yourself in other people’s drama. But the relaxation effect is only partial. Your mind still needs to process the rapid-fire images and sounds. Your nervous system still recoils during a tense moment of TV drama.

Surfing the web is the other leisure time trap. The freedom to surf from one site to the next can give you a momentary rush. But the more you get lost in email, Facebook, and Twitter, the more your brain and nervous system must remain “on.”

The big idea here is that it’s not just work that drains us. It’s also the way we “relax.”

What does actual relaxation look like? Consider three key practices of radical relaxation: movement, stillness, and breath.
  1. Movement
    If you’re like me, you spend 98% of the workday sitting. All of this sitting leaves the body tired and tense. The muscles of the hips lock up, the legs get stiff, and the shoulder and neck muscles strain. If you want to dissolve this tension and relax, sitting is about the last thing you should do. You need to move.

    As long as you are moving, it doesn’t matter what you do. You might walk, run, ride your bike, dance, or do yoga. The goal is simply to get a fresh supply of blood and energy to all those areas of the body that tense up during the workday.

  2. Stillness
    Once you move the body, practice experiencing stillness. This isn’t just about finding stillness in the body. It’s the practice of finding stillness in all areas of life. To be still is to experience a pause in the constant stream of thoughts. To be still is to give your nervous system a rare chance to let go.

    There’s no single way to experience stillness. You might find it in a 15-minute meditation practice. You might find it while lying on the ground outside, looking up at the stars. You might find it stopping at the half way point of a run or walk to check out the view. Or literally stopping to smell the flowers.

    The goal is to give yourself the rare experience of nothingness. No stimulation. No deadlines. No effort. No strain. By coming into stillness, you can begin to experience a truly radical form of relaxation.

  3. Breathing
    Move, get still, then breathe.

    Breathing is to relaxation as wind is to the waves on the ocean. The calm breeze creates stillness. Chaotic gusts create storms, swells, and tidal waves. Likewise, calm, deep breaths create relaxation and stillness. Tight, choppy breaths create agitation, anger, and fear.

    So the most powerful way to relax is to bring your attention to the breath. Ask yourself throughout the day: what is the quality of my breath right now? Is it short and constricted? Or is it long, deep, and effortless?

    If you’re like most people, you will find that your post-work breath matches your inner state. If you feel tired or irritated, your breath will feel anything but deep and effortless.

    The good news is that since your breath matches your inner state, all you have to do to relax is change your breath. Simply bring your attention to your breath and consciously shift it. Extend each inhale and exhale, inhale deep into your belly, and allow yourself to relax.
The most difficult part of radical relaxation isn’t the actual practice of movement, stillness, or breathing. It’s breaking out of our habitual attachment to non-relaxing forms of “relaxation.”

So next time you come home from work and grab for the remote or reach for the laptop, catch yourself. If you really want to watch TV or surf the Internet, then make a conscious choice to do it.

But if you want to relax and recharge, consider shifting from digital distraction to radical relaxation. Instead of TV and the Internet, consider movement, stillness, and breathing.

I’m curious to hear what you think. What does your practice of radical relaxation look like?

Written on 7/25/2011 by Nate Klemp. Nate earned his PhD at Princeton and is a professor at Pepperdine University. He founded LifeBeyondLogic.com, a website dedicated to exploring philosophy as an art of living. You can follow him on Twitter @LifeBeyondLogic and on Facebook. Download a free copy of his new ebook, Finding Reality: Thoreau’s Lessons for Life in the Digital Age.Photo Credit: Public

Minggu, 24 Juli 2011

0 Twisty little passages

Churchyards and private farmlands throughout the German state of Bavaria are perforated from below by "more than 700 curious tunnel networks" whose "purpose remains a mystery."

[Image: Photograph by Ben Behnke courtesy of Der Spiegel].

As Der Spiegel reports, "The tunnel entrances are sometimes located in the kitchens of old farmhouses, near churches and cemeteries or in the middle of a forest. The atmosphere inside is dark and oppressive, much as it would be inside an animal den."

Although the subterranean networks are considered an "extremely unusual ancient phenomenon," other "small underground labyrinths have been found across Europe, from Hungary to Spain, but no one knows why they were built."

[Image: Diagram courtesy of Der Spiegel].

Small might actually understate the case: indeed, "the tunnels are often only 20 to 50 meters long. The larger passageways are big enough so that people can walk through them in a hunched position, but some tunnels are so small that explorers have to get down on all fours. The tiniest passageways, known as "Schlupfe" ("slips"), are barely 40 centimeters (16 inches) in diameter."

[Image: Photographs by Ben Behnke courtesy of Der Spiegel].

I'm particularly fascinated by examples of these tunnels being found on what is now private property. For instance, a family named the Greithanners, "from the town of Glonn near Munich, are the owners of a strange subterranean landmark. A labyrinth of vaults known as an Erdstall runs underneath their property. It is at least 25 meters (82 feet) long and likely stems from the Middle Ages." I'm genuinely curious what the legal status of such discoveries might be. If, for instance, you discover someday that your house sits atop hundreds of feet of artificially excavated underground space from the Middle Ages, do your property taxes go up—or down, due to the structural inconvenience of owning land hollowed out from below?

[Image: Reasons to be cheerful; photo by Ben Behnke, courtesy of Der Spiegel].

In any case, Der Spiegel goes on to explain how local archaeologists (who, in order to avoid underground suffocation, once "blew air into a tunnel with a 'reversible vacuum cleaner'") have teamed up with engineers to explore these spaces—including a man named Nikolaus Arndt, who earlier in his career helped to build the Great Man-Made River of Libya. For now, the tunnels' original purpose still remains unclear:
The vaults could not have served a practical purpose, as dwellings or to store food, for example, if only because the tunnels are so inconveniently narrow in places. Besides, some fill up with water in the winter. Also, the lack of evidence of feces indicates that they were not used to house livestock.

There is not a single written record of the construction of an Erdstall dating from the medieval period. "The tunnels were completely hushed up," says [Dieter Ahlborn, leader of the Working Group for Erdstall Research].

Archeologists have also been surprised to find that the tunnels are almost completely empty and appear to be swept clean, as if they were abodes for the spirits. One gallery contained an iron plowshare, while heavy millstones were found in three others. Virtually nothing else has turned up in the vaults.
The rest of the occasionally bizarre article—one of the locals, for instance, says that sitting alone inside an Erdstall makes him "feel like a Hopi Indian"—is worth reading, though any hope that these tunnels might someday be found to rival the discovery of Derinkuyu should, alas, be put aside. Read more at Der Spiegel.

(Thanks to Derek Upham for the tip!)

Sabtu, 23 Juli 2011

0 Customer Service in the Early Days of Google

Many people complain that Google doesn't offer customer support for most of its services and it's really difficult to receive an email from Google that actually answers your questions. Here's a story from the book "I'm Feeling Lucky", written by the former Google employee Douglas Edwards. Back in 2000, Max Erdstein was Google's sole customer service rep and he could only use a laptop and a copy of Microsoft Outlook.
Max never envisioned customer service becoming an omnivorous blob consuming all his time, but soon he found himself responding robotically to more than a thousand emails a day from users around the world. Crushed under the load, he could do little than succinctly reply, "Thanks! Keep on Googling!" Non-English emails presented the biggest problem. We had no idea if people wanted to praise us or harangue us. We tried using off-the-web translation software, but it left us more confused than when we began.

Meanwhile, there were rumblings from sales VP Omid that supporting advertisers and search-services customers should be a higher priority. Could Max help with that, too? After all, unlike users, these people were actually paying us. Max was emptying an ocean with a teaspoon. As the backlog of unanswered emails began to swell, Sergey offered a useful perspective. "Why do you need to answer user email anyway?" he wanted to know.

To Sergey's thinking, responding to user questions was inefficient. If they wrote us about problems with Google, that was useful information to have. We should note the problems and fix them. That would make the users happier than if we wasted time explaining to them that we were working on the bugs. If users sent us compliments, we didn't need to write back because they already liked us. So really, wouldn't it be better not to respond at all? Or at best, maybe write some code to generate random replies that would be fine in most cases?

0 Google Image Search Shows More Information About Photos

Google's image search engine started to show additional information about photos after clicking the results. The landing page's sidebar includes EXIF data: camera, settings, focal length, flash usage and exposure bias.

"Additional details are found from within the image file, often saved there by the digital camera that took the picture or the application that generated the image. This data can also be manually added or changed after the image has been created. Google doesn't create or change this data in images created by others. The data is saved using the Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF) specification and can include details about the type of camera that took the image, the camera settings (like aperture, focal length, exposure length, and flash settings), and the copyright and usage rights associated with the image by the person who created or edited the image," explains Google.

Another change is that you can click "more sizes" for other versions of the image and "similar images" for visually related images. The sidebar also includes the search result's snippet.

The sidebar can also include a list of related searches, which offer a lot of information about the image and help you find similar images:

Google should also add links to the previous and the next search result so that you don't have to go back to the list of results.

0 Google Maps Removes Third-Party Reviews

Google Places pages have been updated to use the new Google+ interface, but the biggest change is that Google dropped the reviews from third-party sites like Yelp, Menupages or Booking.com, while only relying on the reviews from Google users. "Based on careful thought about the future direction of Place pages, and feedback we've heard over the past few months, review snippets from other web sources have now been removed from Place pages. Rating and review counts reflect only those that've been written by fellow Google users, and as part of our continued commitment to helping you find what you want on the web, we're continuing to provide links to other review sites so you can get a comprehensive view of locations across the globe," explains Google.

To encourage users to share their feedback and improve place pages, Google added a button for uploading photos and made the button for writing reviews more prominent. It's clear that Google Maps will become even more social and will integrate with Google+, so the reviews from your social circles will be more relevant and will help you find a nice restaurant or a fancy hotel.

While Google Hotpot added a lot of new reviews from Google users, there are still many local business that don't have reviews. What's more, the reviews from Google users are usually short, superficial and often they only include a rating.

Search Engine Roundtable speculates that Google removed third-party reviews because of Yelp's complaints. "We are unhappy with the way Google uses our users' review on its Places page. However, there is no solution to the problem… Google's position is that we can take ourselves out of its search index if we don't want them to use our reviews on Places," said Yelp's CEO. After an unsuccessful attempt to acquire Yelp, Google launched Places, Hotpot and made Google Maps results more prominent in the list of Web search results. Yelp felt that its reviews improved a competing service and asked Google to remove Yelp reviews from Google Places. Google decided that it's a good idea to blackmail Yelp and tie the Web search index with the Places reviews (Google News has a different policy and the same goes for Product Search). A such a terrible practice made Google look like a huge company that used its power to crush rising startups.

TechCrunch found that "Yelp made a presentation to a roomful of state attorneys general at the Conference of Western Attorneys General about regulatory issues in search. On that panel was Vince Sollitto, VP of Giverment Affairs for Yelp, along with Dana Wagner, a Google lawyer, and well-known antitrust attorney Gary Reback. Yelp's presentation was titled 'Google Places: A Threat To Innovation and Competition.' The basic argument was that Google strong-armed review websites into providing their content for free, and then gave their own Places product preferential treatment in search."

Instead of removing the reviews from Yelp, Google yanked all third-party reviews and made Google Places less useful. There are still links to other review sites and there's still a small excerpt from a review in the list of search results, but Google Maps is no longer a comprehensive source of reviews, while Bing Maps looks more attractive. Google Maps ratings no longer use data from third-party reviews, but I wouldn't be surprised to see that Google still uses these reviews to rank results.

Jumat, 22 Juli 2011

0 Google Makes Money from Chromebooks

While many people think there's a lot of overlap between Android and Chrome OS, the products don't have a lot in common. Chrome OS is a proprietary operating system based on an open-source project and OEMs can't tweak it or add new features. Just like for Nexus One and Nexus S, you get all of the updates from Google. Another difference is that Chrome OS is constantly updated and you can even switch to the beta or the dev channel to try the latest features. Chrome OS has an automatic update feature, so that Chromebooks run the latest version of the operating system.

Google's CFO, Patrick Pichette, mentioned another difference between Android and Chrome OS: "Google is making some money from companies buying computers that run the Chrome operating system." Google came up with an innovative subscription model for businesses and schools. Instead of paying for the hardware, organizations can pay $20-$33/device/month and get a notebook, enterprise support, new devices every 3 years or even more often, a Web-based central management console, integration with Google Apps. While enterprise Chromebooks are a lot more expensive than the regular Chromebooks available at Amazon or Best Buy, Google says that the total cost of ownership of a notebook can be reduced by up to 70%. "Chromebooks and the management console automate or eliminate many common, time-intensive IT tasks like machine image creation, application distribution, patching, and upgrades. Additionally, there is no need to purchase licenses for anti-virus, data encryption or data back-up software."

Like Android, Chrome OS also encourages people to use Google's services more often. "People search more when they use the Chrome browser or Android phones, which increases Google's core business," says Patrick Pichette. Android will also offer additional revenue opportunities. "Nonsearch revenue will eventually arrive for Android as it combines Google Maps, mobile payments with Google Wallet and daily deals with Google Offers."
When we have products that get resounding user and consumer success and that are growing in the hundreds of millions we don't worry. The only question is when and how will we monetize. Everybody's all nervous about the fact it's been 36 months since Android has launched and you only have search (revenue). That's the criticism I hear. The questions that are asked are so short-termish. That's just not the way that Google thinks.

For now, Chromebooks are the perfect Google Apps "thin clients", while Android devices have so many sensors that help you explore the world and make Web services a lot more useful when you are on the go.

Kamis, 21 Juli 2011

0 Mental Mistakes That Make You (And Others) Feel Like Crap

Are you a robot? Most people would say no, but they don’t know what you are about to discover in this article.

In order to function in our society, we have a lot of processes, beliefs and generalizations that keep us efficient. The problem is that sometimes these automatic processes can get out of control, which happens a lot, and it keeps us doing something we don’t want to be doing.

There are many more mental mistakes than the ones below, but these will open your eyes and get you thinking in a new way.
  1. Labeling
    Our minds are so used to labeling people, things, and experiences all around us that we don't even notice that it's happening.

    When you see someone who is a certain way, you have labels for that, and it evokes certain feelings and sometimes behaviors in you that aren't always desirable.

    You may sit in nature enjoying the wind, as you look at all the beautiful things, and feel what it feels like to just be there.

    If you do this and try to label everything, looking at a tree, making an intellectual exercise of the whole thing, you probably won't feel as good as you could being in the now.

  2. Mind-Reading
    This is a big one, and one that often destroys relationships. A great example of mind reading is if you look at a friend or your significant other, and guess how they're feeling and thinking.

    You don't really know how they are feeling and what is going on inside of them. You think you know; but you really do not.

    The reason this isn't a problem at the beginning of a relationship is because you don't know anything about the person, so you don't know enough to make these assumptions.

    Be very aware when you're trying to mind read people, because it usually doesn't end well, unless you are psychic.

  3. Guilt Tripping
    Guilt tripping basically refers to when you try to manipulate someone by making them feel guilty or any other way.

    A lot of people do this, because they don't know any other way to get people to do what they want to do. They don't realize that they can just tell people what they are going to do, and let other people decide for themselves.

    If you find yourself making others feel guilty, stop, and consider what you're doing. Imagine doing what you're doing for the next 10 or even 20 years in the future.

    What kind of impact will it have on your relationships?

    How will it affect how you will be feeling inside?

  4. Predicting Catastrophe
    This is a big one.

    How often have you found yourself imagining the worst possible outcome just because you had something not go your way? If you’re like me, it happens more than you’d care to admit, and it doesn’t make you feel good, does it?

    It's not always easy to get out of the pattern if you've been doing this for a long time. It has been ingrained in you, but just having the awareness of what you're doing can help you let it go. There are a lot of healing modalities out there that are extremely effective in helping you let go patterns that are no longer helping you, such as NLP and EFT.

    The same applies to the people you spend time with. You may know someone who always notices the worst in everything.

    You tell them your grand plans and dreams, but they only tell you why you won't be able to do it, and why you shouldn't even try.

    If you notice yourself doing this to anyone, just let it go, because it's not worth the energy. It just makes you feel bad, and makes other people avoid you.

  5. Turning Processes Into Things
    Turning processes into things happens largely because of how we use language, and it’s effective, but the problems begin when it keeps you stuck. For example, someone might say that they have trouble with their relationship, and it feels like this huge problem.

    Sound familiar?

    What they forget to become aware of is that a relationship is the process of relating to another human being, so the question isn’t how you can fix it. The question becomes how you’re relating to this other person that you don’t like, and how you want to begin changing it.

    Do you notice how it frees up the energy and makes it feel lighter? That is the amazing power of the language we use and your mind. We are dynamic beings, so if you feel stuck, remember that it’s not that you are literally stuck, it’s the way you are keeping yourself in the feeling of stuckness.
Now It’s Your Turn! What kind of mental mistake(s) have you bumped into in your daily life, and how did you solve it (if you did)? I’m curious to know, so share in the comments below!

Written on 7/23/2011 by Henri Junttila. Henri writes at Wake Up Cloud, where he shares his personal tips on how you can live the life you know you deserve. When you feel ready to take action, get his free course: Find Your Passion in 5 Days or Less. And if you liked this article, you will enjoy one of his top articles: 77 Great Quotes That Will Change Your Life.Photo Credit: pasukaru76

0 Updated Interface for Google News

Google News is the latest Google service that gets a new design consistent with Google+. There's a new color scheme, more white space, a new header and two buttons that replace the customization links.

It's strange to see the label-less blue search button next to the "search the Web" button. Gmail's new interface uses two buttons that are easier to differentiate, instead of confusing users. There's a lot of wasted space at the top of the page and the two new buttons are too prominent, especially if you consider that you'll not use them very often.

In a recent Google+ post, Larry Page said that Google has launched a "beautiful, consistent and simpler design". He continued: "Google+ is also a great example of another focus of mine - beautiful products that are simple and intuitive to use and was actually was one of the first products to contain our new visual redesign." A New York Times blog post quotes Patrick Pichette, Google's CFO, who concludes that "there was just too much clutter. Larry in the last 90 days basically said, 'Hey, it's just time to re-shift. Don't lose any insights into the deep engineering that we drive, but let's make sure we don't lose focus on the ease of use."

{ Thanks, Anthony. }

0 Bird's Eye View

The last time we heard from photographer Gerco de Ruijter, he was photographing tree farms from above using fishing poles and kites; now he's back, having explored the biological edges of aerial photography by sending a pigeon aloft with a small video camera to perform a kind of animal surveillance of the urban landscape far below.

As Michel Banabila, who composed the music for de Ruijter's film, explains, "the exhibition Loslaten (Letting Go) is showing two linear video shots made with a small video camera attached to a pigeon. The pigeon is flying over the city of Delft and flies home, following the A13 highway towards Rotterdam." The bird thus reveals its own geography: tracking artificial landmarks of human infrastructure—the A13—and piecing together its own optical environment in the process.

The pigeon's technical repurposing here—an animal turned instrument of surveillance—resembles the increasingly ubiquitous throwable UAVs designed by companies like AeroVironment: small-scale, easily deployed, aerodynamically sophisticated, biomorphic landscape photography. As if the Ansel Adams of the future will not use a tripod at all, but will instead release demilitarized machine-flocks of animalistic throw-drones into the skies of spectacular landscapes around the world.

[Images: The Raven throw-drone by AeroVironment, photos courtesy of the U.S. military via Wikipedia].

But what I've written so far overlooks a more obvious point, which is that de Ruijter's work reveals as much about the pigeon holding the camera as it does about the urban forms passing by in a blur below. The pigeon here offers its own kind of autobiography, documenting its own passage through the landscape as it produces this ersatz documentary.

Several years ago, the Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI) hosted a small exhibition called On the Farm: Live Stock Footage by Livestock. "In this exhibit," CLUI wrote, "farm animals show us their point of view through wireless video cameras installed temporarily on their heads and necks by virtuoso animal and plant videographer Sam Easterson. Easterson’s technology enables a cow, a pig, a goat, a chicken, a sheep, and a horse to guide us around their world; what they look at, what catches their attention, how they move through space, and how they relate to one another, on the farm." More broadly, Easterson's project sought "to create the world’s largest library of video footage that has been captured from the perspective of animals, plants and the environments they inhabit. The company creates its video footage by outfitting wild animal and plants with ‘helmet-mounted’ video cameras. It also installs micro video cameras deep inside animal and plant habitats."

Speaking only for myself, however, the results were unwatchable: the footage—bouncing around constantly and never focusing on one single thing, then blurring left and right before colliding with the ground only to slide off trembling around the pasture some more—was literally nauseating and I found myself having to continually look away, as if blinking. Was there something about seeing the world from the perspective of an animal that can make a human sick? Admittedly, the anamorphic stutter-step of de Ruijter's pigeon film invokes a not dissimilar reaction. (I should add that I believe I was watching Easterman's pig footage).

[Images: An installation shot from On the Farm: Live Stock Footage by Livestock at CLUI].

Taking a different view—looking at animals on film, as opposed to animals filming—the L.A. Times recently looked at the popular phenomenon of "animal webcams," trying to understand their human appeal:
From amateur setups near backyard bird nests to elaborate video systems chronicling the daily activities of sharks and polar bears, live webcams of animals show us birth, romance, skullduggery and death — animals behaving like animals 24/7. Birds of prey such as hawks and eagles are particularly popular, but with a little searching, you can watch the day-to-day goings-on of squirrels, meerkats, bears and even chickens. (For you doubters out there, chickens lead lives of endless drama and amusement. Trust me.).
The article's author, a biologist, warns against too easily interpreting this growing archive of animal footage: "If we convince ourselves that animals reflect our own feelings—nothing more, nothing less—we are cheated of discovering what other species are really like, and we run the risk of homogenizing them into one giant beastly human reflection. What's more, we often impose our biases on animals, assuming that what we see is what humans do. And then we miss things."

What, then, can we learn not only about the anonymous pigeon filmmaker let go into the world by Gerco de Ruijter, but about our own urban environment as seen through the pigeon's surrogate eyes? Perhaps nothing at all, to be honest—but expanding the possibilities for authorship, and giving animals the ability to contribute directly, through film, to a larger project of urban documentation, is a thrilling proposition.

(Earlier on BLDGBLOG: On the Grid. Animal webcam story found via @pruned. See also the now famous "monkey self-portrait"—as well as the old 1980s film Beastmaster—a kind of Krull Lite™—for its own "throwable drone": a telepathic falcon named Sharak).

0 Google Docs Lets You Upload 10GB Files

Scott Johnston, Product Manager at Google, announced that Google Docs increased the maximum file size from 1GB to 10GB. That's a really good news, but it's surprising to see that Google Docs only offers 1GB of free storage.

After all, Chromebook users are supposed to store their files online and there are many services that offer more free storage than Google Docs: from Dropbox (2GB) and Box.net (5GB) to Amazon Cloud Drive (5GB) and Microsoft SkyDrive (25GB). While you can buy 20GB of storage for $5/year, it's obvious that more people would upload their files to Google Docs if the service offered at least 20GB of storage for free. Releasing a sync software like Music Manager would make it easier to upload files and to access them from any computer.

Another idea would be to separate online storage from Google Docs apps, so that you can upload Microsoft Word documents and open them using Google's word processing app, but without irreversibly associating them with the app. This way, you could upload files and open them using multiple applications, for example: Google Docs, Zoho Writer and Microsoft Word's Web App.

Image by Scott (inspired by Hyperbole and a Half).

0 9 Immediate Tips To Stay Focused on Your Goals

Do you remember the new year's resolutions you set at the beginning of this year? What are they? How are you faring in them right now? If you're like most people, chances are you've long abandoned those goals. Some of you may not even recall what goals you have set. Which is unfortunate, because goal setting works; it has never failed anyone. The only reason why goals would stop working is because the person who has set the goals, i.e. you, chose to give up on them mid-way.

During the past few years, I've been working relentlessly on my goals - be it blogging, setting up my new business, improving my diet, losing weight, making like-minded friends, improving my relationship with my parents, and so on. Over the course of the past 2.5 years, I've made significant progress on those goals.

For example, I lost about 7-8kg this year and am at my desired weight today. I've switched from an unhealthy, junk food diet to a healthy, vegan diet which I'm proud of today. I created my personal development blog, and built it from 2 readers a day (me and my good friend) to over 600k page views/month - making it one of the top personal development blogs online. I've created a successful business out of my passion in personal development and am earning a steady, passive income from it. I resolved a deep-seated emotional eating issue which I've been struggling with the past decade. My previously sour relationship with my parents has dramatically improved for the better in the past 2 months.

I'm not sharing the above to distance myself from you, or to put myself on a pedestal. Quite the opposite - I'm sharing the above to let you know that because I've achieved my goals, you can achieve your goals too, no matter what they are. It's all a matter of staying focused.

If you constantly get distracted in your goal pursuits, here are 8 tips I have for you to stay focused:
  1. Concentrate on 1-3 goals
    If you constantly have trouble keeping to your goals, maybe you're spreading yourself too thin. Pick 1-3 goals that are most important to you, and stick to them. Don't bother yourself with any other goals until these goals are achieved (or unless priorities shift and these goals no longer reflect what you want in life).

    For me, my top priority goal is to reach out to more people through my blog, so I ensure all my daily actions ladder up to this one goal. Majority of my time in the week is spent either writing new articles for the blog, maintaining my facebook and twitter account, maintaining the blog and forums, processing my emails or creating upcoming plans. If I'm caught up with something else for a long period of time, it's a cue to me that I'm off-track.

    Such laser focus has allowed me to make much more progress, compared to when I juggle across 4-5 goals and make little progress in them.

  2. Create a vision board
    A vision board is a collage of pictures and images that represent your goals and dreams. Creating a vision board helps you to visualize your end goals more clearly, which inevitably inspires you to take consistent action. Not only that, it also serves to remind you of your goals every day when you see the board. I've a vision board in my bedroom which I see every time I'm in my room. Every time I see my board, it reinforces my goals to me, and reminds me to take action so as to move forward.

    If you've yet to create your vision board, I've created a video tutorial which you may find helpful: How to create your vision board.

  3. Create milestones
    If you just set one huge goal, it can be discouraging - especially when you don't achieve it after a short while. When that happens, some people may procrastinate on the goal altogether - which is quite unfortunate. I find it's helpful to break a big goal into smaller goals, after which you concentrate on achieving the smaller goals in the short-run. Just like when you go on a long road-trip - You set pit-stops to rest/recuperate throughout the trip.

  4. Create a plan
    If you have a plan worked out for your goal, it becomes much easier to stick to it. All you have to do is to follow the actions you have planned for the day. The best time to work out your plan is when you set the goal, because that's when your motivation is the highest. Usually, I create my goal action plans right after I set my goal, after which I take action immediately - which helps create a positive momentum.

  5. Track your results
    It's important for me to track the results of what I do, because otherwise it feels like my actions are not making a difference. Hence, every time I work on a goal, I will identify 1-2 performance metrics, then track those metrics daily/weekly. They are my connection to the end goal, because they let me know whether I'm on track or off track, which in turn lets me know whether to tweak my actions or not.

  6. Have goal buddies
    Goal buddies are people who share similar goals with you. They help to remind you about your goal, spur you on when you feel unmotivated, give you new ideas on how to achieve your goal, keep you on track, among others. Your goal buddies can be your friends, or people whom you meet in interest groups. Since you already share similar interests, it'll be easy to find people with the same goals. Read more: 7 Ways To Instantly Meet Like-Minded People

  7. Start a journal documenting your goal pursuit
    Having a blog or private diary to document your goal pursuit can be a therapeutic experience. A lot of times, we abandon our goal pursuits because we get frustrated mid-way and we are not sure what to do about that. However, when we write out our thoughts, it helps us to get clarity on our issues and renews our interest in the goal. Many readers at my blog created their life journals in the blog forums and have found that to be tremendously helpful in keeping them focused on their goals.

  8. Be clear on why you're pursuing the goals
    If you keep giving up on your goals halfway, perhaps you were never serious in them to begin with. For me, if I'm really serious about a goal, I'd never give up on it - I'd keep hammering away at it, regardless of the obstacles, until they give way and I'm enjoying the fruits of my labor.

    I once had a coaching client who would embark on many new business ventures, only to stop within the first 2-3 months. He never knew why. When I drilled into the issue with him, he found out it was because he just wanted to start a business to earn money, whereas he was already earning good money with his current job - which meant little reason to move out of the comfort zone. After that, I recommended him to identify a business idea which he was truly passionate about - which he did, and today he has been working on this same business for the past 1.5 years, the longest he has ever kept to a business venture.

  9. Learn to say no
    Do you often put your goals aside for other people? It's okay to do that once or twice, but if you keep doing the whole time, something is seriously wrong. You can't forever put your life on hold for others! I used to have trouble saying no to others, until I realized I was just doing myself and my dreams a disfavor when I say yes to something that's not what I want. Learn how to say no and you may find a bigger pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.
Check out my related posts at Dumb Little Man that will help you stay on track in your goals:
Written on 7/21/2011 by Celestine Chua.

Celestine writes at Personal Excellence, where she shares her best advice on how to achieve personal excellence and live your best life. Get her RSS feed directly and add her on Twitter @celestinechua. If you like this article, you will enjoy one of her top articles: 101 Things To Do Before You Die.

Photo Credit: lululemon athletica
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