All posts by Mitch Mitchell

I'm an independent consultant in many fields, so I have a lot to share.

How To Focus Better – A Review

I get free stuff all the time, both through regular mail and email. I received this manual titled “How To Focus Better” by Hulbert Lee and debated where the best place might be to post a review on it. I also debated how to review it. In the end, I’m going to play it straight forward, which usually is what I do anyway.

Hulbert Lee Focus

It’s a very short manual, which is why I’m calling it that instead of a book. At 44 pages, which includes the cover page and table of contents, I wasn’t really sure what I was getting, but it looked good. And when I read the first part of it, which was talking about what focus was and talking about the brain, I started to believe I wasn’t going to like anything about it.

Then it started getting better. The overall truth about the manual is that if you’ve ever spent any time reading books on how to live a better life, then you’ll have seen a lot of this, with some variations on the theme. Within chapter titles like Energy, Clarity and Accuracy, Lee gives short and peppy advice on what you can do to move towards these things. Taking energy as an example, advice like get more sleep and exercise more is something you’ve heard before, and he gives you ideas on how to try to achieve these things.

The last part of the manual has more to do with changing your mind to try to achieve some of the things you want in life, things that might help you focus on your goals. Something that I found interesting is when he talked about identifying your values and the possibility of having to shift your values if you’re concentrating on the wrong thing. For instance, instead of dreaming about buying a new car change your value to something like wanting to achieve success, being more patient, or even focusing on what you need to do to move in a positive direction.

My overall impression is that some of you might have read this stuff before, but it’s a good manual to have because it’s short and punchy. Once you get past the very early part of the book everything else is kind of uplifting and will get you going if you need a boost.

It’s easy to refer back to if you ever need to do such a thing, which you probably will. I say this because I actually read this back in February after he sent it to me and I’m just getting around to writing the review, which might make it seem like my focus wasn’t that good. However, as I think about where I am right now, I can honestly say that I put a few of these things into practice and many things in my life have improved since then. So, maybe in its own way it got through to me without knowing it.

Check out the link above, which will take you to his site where you can get this manual. I think it’s worth your time to check it out.
 

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WordPress, Windows And Linux Servers

Last week I tried loading a new blog onto one of my friend’s accounts. I know how the process goes in trying to set up a new blog. You go in and create a new directory, while waiting for it you create a new MySQL account with all the information you’ll need, you go ahead and configure the WP-Config.PHP to what you need, and then when the folder is ready you upload everything and you’re good to go.

Except I wasn’t good to go. The sucker wouldn’t work, and I was getting this strange error message: Your PHP installation appears to be missing the MySQL extension which is required by WordPress.

Only it wasn’t missing anything as far as I could see. I ran a few things and figured something must be up, and at the same time there was a new WordPress update to 3.3.2, so I figured maybe that was the reason. I went and deleted all the files that I’d uploaded and then uploaded the new WordPress, making sure the correct WP-Config.PHP file was there.

I tried it again; same error message. Time to go and do some research, which y’all know I’m big on. And you know what? There’s a lot of mess out there that’s technical gobbledy-gook, and none of it make sense. Okay, some of it made sense, but little of it was anything I could do anything with. I did try some of the things I read, and of course none of them worked.

When all else fails, it’s time to call tech support. I did just that very thing and told the guy who answered the phone what the error message I got was saying. He told me that it was because my friend bought the Windows server package instead of the Linux server package and that, at least with them, WordPress wouldn’t work with the Windows server.

You know, no one tells most people this, but when offered a choice between Windows servers and Linux servers and it’s not your home system, you should always go with Linux. Windows is more stable across the board but not very flexible. I remember my trying to get something to work on someone else’s website some years ago and eventually found out the problem was that they were on Windows servers.

What to do? With 1&1, who he uses and who I use as well, all you have to do is go in and change it in your software package. What happens is that it can take up to 24 hours, though it probably won’t take longer than an hour most of the time, and the account will convert from Windows based to Linux based with no problems. Well, one thing you need to know. Anything you have on your Windows account will be deleted, so you need to back everything up first. Also, any MySQL accounts you’ve created will need to be recreated.

Truthfully, none of that is a big deal. My friend now has his blog, although he’s yet to put anything on it, and everything loaded smoothly. The main reasons I wrote this post is because I couldn’t find this specific information written anywhere and I figured it was time to simplify this stuff. So, if you’re new to this type of thing and you’re going the self hosting route, make sure you purchase the Linux (also known as Ubuntu to some people). And if you’re trying to load a blog and you get that error message above, check to see if you have a Windows package and switch.
 

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Black Web Friday – 4/20/12

Could it be that time already? Yes, it’s time for another edition of Black Web Friday; yay! I don’t have anything else to add so let’s get right into it.

Black Web Friday

David Richeson is a young guy but his site 360° Success offers motivational posts based on something called “hermetic philosophy”. It’s all very uplifting stuff and personally, I don’t think enough people are checking it out. I found one of his posts titled The Power of Why a very interesting and short read that explains why we all need to probe more, ask those questions we might be afraid to ask because we’re afraid someone will look at us funny; great stuff. It’s a traditional blog commenting system but he moderates comments.

I met Danyelle Little on Twitter first and discovered her blog The Cubicle Chick from there, which is what got her listed on my 29 More Black Social Media Influencers post last year. In a way hers is a non-niche blog that’s more geared towards women than men, even though there are a lot of things there that men would also be interested in. She’ll talk tech and entertainment, then she’ll switch to child rearing and losing weight. Yet it’s all done in an entertaining way; I like her style. Standard blog commenting system.

I’m just going to be truthful here; many of you probably won’t want to visit this blog I’m highlighting, but I think you should. It’s written by Brother Jesse Muhammad and titled Brother Jesse Blog, and it’s about issues concerning black people, plain and simple. He doesn’t hide his loyalties or opinions on what he has to say, and that’s pretty refreshing to me. A post that particularly impressed me was on the topic of black on black violence because often when there’s a crime where a black person is killed by a white person someone else white eventually says “how come you don’t complain when a black person kills another black person?” Yes, it happens every single time and I’m tired of hearing it and Brother Jesse addressed it; good for him. This is a Blogger blog.

Oliver Willis‘ eponymously named blog is about politics, and I love his tagline: “Like Kryptonite to Stupid”. Occasionally he’ll write about his favorite football team (the team I hate most, being a Cowboys fan), but his political point of view is illuminating and he’s got the chops to back it up, whether you agree or disagree with what he has to say. A very intriguing piece he wrote in February concerned the Tea Party; check it out if you dare. lol

There you go, 4 diverse blogs for your review this week. Then again, these posts really are about diversity in more than one form, which is why I’m doing them. Enjoy your weekend folks!
 

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Making Money Is Not Evil

Back in November I tackled the subject of making money in a post titled Are Your Views On Money Holding You Back. I pretty much made it clear that I tend to believe most people hold themselves back because they see rich people, or at least people they view as doing very well, as untrustworthy, and even though they want money themselves they don’t want to be seen in the same light by others.


by 401K via Flickr

Lately there’s been a lot of bashing against people who write these “make money” blogs. Yes, a lot of it is warranted, but not because they’re writing about making money.

The bashing comes because most of the people writing about it aren’t making any money at all. Some of those people might be making some money, but they’re not making a sustainable living wage. If you’re making $20 a month by blogging, you’re certainly not an authority on it. If you’re even making $1,000 a month, that’s actually pretty good but it doesn’t make you an authority on it.

Some years back, one of the topics I used to write about all the time were the affiliate marketing programs I was testing; I tested a lot. With each program I tested, I wrote about it, what I saw, and if I’d made any money off it and how much. Late last summer I started a series on all the programs I’ve tried and talked about the kind of money, or lack thereof, that I made. You can see an example of my talking about these affiliate programs here. In my mind it was the most honest way to talk about these things. I mentioned Commission Junction in that post, saying I love how many things they have and how it offers lots of options for advertising, yet also admitting that I’ve not made a lot of money in, what is now, 4 years.

Making money is NOT evil; how you make it might be. Those that pursue income by lying or being sneaky are evil. Well, that might be a bit strong but go with me here. When I was first learning about selling items online I purchased a book from a site called Rich Jerk. The book was actually pretty good, and its follow up, which was a series of extra chapters, weren’t bad at all either. They have an interesting schtick that I didn’t mind of being rude to customers; I thought it was pretty funny.

Then one day they sent a special link to show us how we could make some easy money online. It took us to a video where this guy showed us a way to make money using Craigslist. What he did was find an image of a cute dog on Google, and used it in an ad on a squeeze page. Then he posted something on Craigslist about the need to give his dog away to someone because he was moving and couldn’t take his dog with him. Within hours he’d had around 25 people send him email asking about the dog. What he did was reply to every person, telling them he’d found someone for his dog, and then talked about the training he did on his dog and sent them a link to his sales site. And he actually ended up making 7 sales from it, since his squeeze page was for a dog training manual.

Some call that effective marketing; I call it smarmy. It’s that kind of thing that keeps the hairs on the back of my neck raised high, wondering if certain things are scams or not. And that’s a horrible way to go around the internet thinking, but it’s also the safest way.

Please, go out and make money. I want everyone to live the life they want to live, which I hope is a happy life. Just do it honestly; trust me, if you don’t, you will eventually get called out on it, and then where will you be?
 

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Creating A Facebook Cover Photo, Mitchell Style

I have to face this fact; I’m not the most creative guy in the world. I know what I like, but I’m bad at figuring out how to create images and the like. Heck, it took me more than 2 years to figure out a title for my first book. I can write almost anything at almost any time, but I do have my limitations.

Thus, I came into this thing about Facebook, timelines and cover photos with a lot of trepidation. Lucky for me, my personal page hasn’t gone the timeline route yet, but my business page had. And when one came to it and looked at it, there was this major gap in the upper middle that just looked horrible.

I knew I had to take care of that at some point so last night I decided it was time to try to do something. I had saved a great number of pages that all said they were going to teach me how to create a cover photo, which you’ve probably seen on a lot of pages already, but every page was lacking. Most didn’t have anything at all for me. A couple mentioned to use Photoshop or Adobe something, which I can’t remember since I don’t have those programs. And one other site said I could download a template to help me, but only if I subscribed to a newsletter; that wasn’t happening.

So I used Microsoft Publisher to help me out with it, and I’m going to tell you what I did. First, let me show you the image I created:

It might look a little strange, but the explanation is coming.

I opened up my Publisher program, and instead of going through all the gesticulations of trying to remember how to landscape the thing I just made it bigger on my screen. I initially set it to a 150% view, which helped me to start putting things together.

I started with a text box and elongated it into a triangular shape. You’re trying to get to an image size of around 851 x 315, which is odd, but that’s Facebook for you. Then I went to the picture box and selected my business logo to start with because I thought that would work well. The problem is that in reality it’s only 639 pixels wide, and if I was looking at a 100% normal view it would look great. However, at 150% it was smeared and looked lousy, so I knew I wasn’t going to be able to use it.

I deleted the picture box and decided to just type in my business name in my business title font, which is Imprint MT Shadow. I added my favorite color, then increased the size. I centered the image as well because I needed to make sure that once I copied and pasted the image into my photo program that I wasn’t going to have to worry about those editing lines that always exist in Publisher.

Once I did that I did a screen print and copied it into Microsoft Photo Editor, the program I like to use for pictures. I cropped around it so I only had my business name showing, then I saved the image. I did that because I figured the first thing to do was see if I could get close to the width required by Facebook. It was way too large, and I had two choices; reduce the size of the font or reduce the size of my view, since I was doing print screen images.

I decided to reduce the size of my view, and I dropped it to 125%. When I tested it again, the images was around 830; I figured that was pretty close as a starting point.

Next, it was time to add images. I knew I was going to frame the bottom with two professional images I have of myself, but wasn’t sure what I’d put in the middle. I tested the two images first though, putting each one on the outside, and then did a series of tests trying to get close to the 315 width. I had to alter the size of the images about 5 times, but I got it to 302 and figured that was close enough for the moment.

Now, which other two images? As you can see, in the end I decided on one with my dad and one which was an actual image that I “cartooned up” to create something different that I liked from years ago. I saved and tested everything, then decided to increase my view size from 125% to 126%, a very minor increase but it brought my image to 852 x 314; almost perfect! Just to let you know in case you don’t already know this, when you save the image you can look at it in Explorer, hover your mouse over it, and it’ll tell you the dimensions. That works for all images on your computer, just so you know.

Now it was time to upload my image to my Facebook business page, which I did, but it didn’t work out. Why not? Here’s the original image:

The problem is that Facebook business pages have this logo box that pops up to the left side. If you don’t have an image in there the box remains with a big question mark, so you have to put an image there. With that box, it completely covered the bottom half of my image; that wouldn’t do. So I had to come back to the drawing board and resize an image, and I decided I didn’t want to shrink my professional image, done by my friend Kelvin by the way, so I reversed the order of the first two images and shortened the cartoon version instead. Here’s what it looks like on the page now:

There you have it. Now, you can obviously go your own route in the type of image you wish to use, but I found for this task that Publisher worked well for me, and doing screen prints also works well for me. Of course, if you have those other fancier programs you can go a much different route. It’s even possible that if you don’t have those programs OR Publisher that you could do the same thing with Word. The problem with Word is that it doesn’t have the image or text boxes to help you out.

There you have it; a true tutorial, even if you can’t use it. Good luck!
 

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