All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

Formspring.me

This is something different that I bet most of us wouldn’t really have the courage to use; at least I know I don’t.

It’s called Formspring.me. What it allows you to do is set up an account where people can anonymously ask you questions about pretty much anything, and you answer them. You have the opportunity to tell people the types of things you talk about so that maybe people will stay on topic, but they can deviate at any moment and ask you about pretty much anything.

How did I discover it? One of my Twitter friends, a local young lady, created an account that she’d heard of from someone else, and started promoting it there. She answers questions about sex, mainly about her own escapades, and no, I’m not going to link to it. Yeah, she’s pretty open about it on Twitter with people who follow her, and if she decides she wants to post something here about it then that’s on her.

Suffice it to say, she created the account, put it up on Twitter, and I tracked it there to see what it was all about. It’s eye opening stuff, and she’s really open about her thoughts and experiences. I didn’t know someone could experience so much before the age of 25; man, I’ve not lived at all!

Anyway, you’ll find it’s a pretty simple page. There’s no searching; you pretty much have to tell people you have an account once you create one, and you’ll probably have to keep telling them to keep them coming back. Actually, it might be a good thing for business sites; I might have to rethink this one for one of my sites. We’ll see.

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10 Tips To Become A Faster And More Efficient Reader – Guest Post

Some of you know that I can and often speed read. It’s hard for me to tell people how I do it, since I learned it so long ago. Tom reached out and asked if he could write a guest post for this blog, and it’s on a topic I know something about and think it will help some of you who might want some tips. Enjoy.

Becoming a faster reader can significantly improve the pace at which you work and learn. Many individuals find that they have a difficult time with reading at a fast pace. They may spend hours or even weeks reading assignments, work papers, or other important documents.

The following tips will help you learn to read at a faster pace. It will require a lot of practice, but the benefits of becoming a faster reader will improve your quality of life and increase your free time.

  1. Skim: One of the best ways to speed up reading is to learn how to properly skim. Skimming is the ability to read only the essential sentences and paragraphs of a piece of writing. You can effectively skim by skipping sentences or paragraphs that contain unimportant, summarized, or repeated information.
  2. Skip Words: The fastest readers are able to quickly read by skipping words that are not essential. By focusing on only the most important words in a sentence, you will be able to read sentences with significantly increased speed. In order to read faster, you should skip “the”, “a”, “this”, “that”, and other words that are simply placeholders.
  3. Don’t Move Your Lips: Moving your lips while reading can significantly slow down your reading pace. Your mind can comprehend words much faster than your lips can verbalize them. Reading out loud or moving your lips while you’re reading can significantly slow your reading pace.
  4. Improve Vocabulary: Reading takes a lot longer when you don’t understand what you’re reading. If you find that you are stumbling over words, it may help to read with a dictionary and look up troublesome words. This will require a lot of extra work initially, but eventually you will no longer stumble over unknown words.
  5. Read with Purpose: You should always know your intention before you begin to read a piece of writing. If you are looking for a specific fact, you may want to skim for key words or phrases. If you’re reading to understand the facts about a particular subject, you may want to skip filler words and sentences. Knowing your objective before you begin reading will help you determine the manner in which you should read the passage.
  6. Read Faster: Actively attempting to read faster can increase the speed of your reading. It is not advisable to practice speed reading on homework assignments or work documents, but it’s an excellent tool to use during leisure reading. Spend several minutes per day reading at a pace that is two or three times as fast as you normally read. Eventually your brain will learn to speed up important readings too.
  7. Read More: The more you read the better you will become at reading. An excellent way to improve the speed of your reading is to simply take time each day to sit down and read.
  8. Read in Groupings: Sounding out each individual word takes a lot of time. In order to increase the speed of your reading, you should read in groupings of words or even full sentences. Your brain is capable of comprehending words and sentences visually. You do not need to sound out the words to get the gist of what they mean.
  9. Skim Passages: To read faster while improving your reading comprehension, it may help to skim the entire passage either before or after reading it more thoroughly. This will help you pick out key words and concepts, which will seem more familiar to you during the second reading.
  10. Don’t Reread: Fully rereading passages that you have already read will disrupt the pace and flow of your reading. It’s important to move on, even if you’re not sure that you fully understood the passage.

Increasing the speed of your reading can be a lot of work. The most important thing to remember is that every word in a piece of writing is not important. It’s okay to skip unnecessary words, sentences, and even paragraphs. With time and practice you will be able to increase the speed of your reading and the effort is well worth it.

Tom Walker is a writer and avid reader who works with a UK based online store specializing in print supplies such as HP 363 ink. He maintains their blog about design, art and advertising.

Do You Protect Others Better Than You Protect Yourself?

Last night my wife and I were having a conversation about things that had surprised us about each other. One thing that came up was how, when the need arises, we tend to change our demeanor up in protecting each other, as opposed to when we’re protecting or supporting ourselves.


Safety and Protection

I’m not one who raises my voice in anger. When I raise my voice, I’m usually happy in some regard. And I’m generally a very easy going guy. However, I’ve noticed what when someone or something is not treating my wife well, I don’t yell, but I do go on the attack. And I don’t play nice, something that surprised my wife because she’s noticed I usually give people a lot of leeway when it comes to messing with me, although I do try to cerebrally castigate them if I have to.

My wife has done the same for me. We’ve been in restaurants where she’s made demands on stuff that I might not like. Not that I won’t say something many times, but how I address things and how she addresses them is much different.

I noticed earlier today that our friend Sire had a comment on his blog where the guy pretty much called him an idiot. Sire responded in his normally gracious way, and the guy didn’t quite apologize, saying he likes to speak directly with people, but was glad Sire took it in the matter in which he meant it. I didn’t; I thought it was grossly inappropriate, and I decided to take up the spear and thrust it back in my own way. You’ll remember that I wrote an article on web courtesy; you come into my house, I don’t mind that you disagree with me, but you’re going to respect me. And you’re going to respect my friends in their house, unless you want to pay the bills.

Am I sensitive? Sometimes I’ll admit that. I tend to believe you teach people how to treat you, and you also treat people as you wish to be treated. I’m so thankful that everyone who has participated on this blog has shown great deportment over the years, and trust me I appreciate it. I hope I treat everyone with the utmost respect because I hope to get that back. We can disagree; I’m certainly not perfect. But there are ways we can all support our beliefs without being rude.

Kind of like customer service, eh? 🙂

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Facebook Changes And Alter Egos

Facebook has been busy lately. There’s all sorts of changes going on, some controversial, some seemingly unnecessary, and all generating a lot of buzz and noise. Let’s take a look at some of it.

The first thing they’ve done is announced that they’re going to be sharing our personal information with some of their advertising partners so those advertisers can “better serve our needs.” Frankly I don’t like this one bit, and the only thing I’m thankful for is that I have Firefox as my browser, so I have a script running that blocks almost all ads already. Still, the idea that they’re sharing my information, such as it is, with anyone else is irritating.

The difference between this and Beacon, if you remember that, is that you won’t be tracked all across the internet, which is what Beacon was going to do. So, you now have to make more decisions as to what you’re sharing on Facebook with others. I’m fairly secure; I have my business information, some stuff about books, and I occasionally post something either business related or funny; anyone tracking me isn’t going to know what to make of me.

The second thing they’ve announced is that they’ve partnered with thousands of sites to add a “Like” button somewhere on those sites. This means if you’re surfing and you see something that’s interested you or that you were intrigued by, you can click on that button and it will show up on your wall so your friends can see what you like. Once again, this is a choice you get to make, so I don’t have a major problem with that, since I can’t see this being anything I’m going to use that often. I say it that way because I’m known to go to Twitter and post links to things I’ve read that I find intriguing, so you never know. And, once again, if the partners are tracking my wall they’re going to be confused as sin.

Next, you saw my post about creating a Facebook fan page for my business a few days ago. Well, Facebook is now changing “become a fan” to “like” as well, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since I’ve always cringed a little about the fan thing. However, they’re also going into what’s known as “real time search”, which means anything you hook on to or say will be immediately searchable on Google, Bing, etc. Now, your words and actions will be able to be tracked on the search engines whether or not other people are on Facebook or not; ouch! For me, I have no problem with the groups I join, but for some, joining a group with a name such as “Big Breasted Babes In England” showing up on the internet if they’ve applied for a job and HR is researching their information isn’t going to be something they’re going to be able to get away from.

What all of this has prompted is some outrage, and some people having a bit of fun at their expense. Has anyone checked out Lamebook, the Facebook parody site? There’s over 100,000 people who are following it; just amazing. If you look at it, you’ll notice that it has a couple of things that are also on Facebook, such as “comment” and “like”, but it has something else called “dislike”. It turns out that many people are wishing Facebook would add a Dislike button, and indeed this guy has created an application for Firefox called Facebook Dislike Button. What people will think of, right?

What’s my opinion? We can’t be surprised anymore by some of the things Facebook is doing. They deserve to make money, and they’re still not going to a paid model like Ning. If they’re sharing your information with advertisers, well, if you put stupid stuff on there that’s on you. Something I’m surprised about is how many websites you can go to where they’ll allow you to sign into your Facebook account to comment, and even if you haven’t signed in if you’ve signed in on your browser and haven’t signed out, you visit sites and you’ll see people who are your friends on there and what they’re saying in their news stream, as well as other Facebook people who have intentionally signed in to comment on something on the page you’re on. In other words, we’re already being tracked to some degree, and we didn’t even get to see any terms of service on it.

So it goes; how are you liking social media?

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What’s The Problem With Palm?

So, what’s the problem with Palm, the company that brought us all the first real personal digital assistant? I remember back in the early 2000’s when everyone wanted one and needed one; now, you can’t even give away the Palm Pre, their version of a smartphone, and you can’t give away the company either.

This might make me a dinosaur among many of you, but I love having a Palm. Well, I love having one that works anyway. I got my first Palm back in 2001 when my dad first started getting really sick, and I realized I didn’t have any information with me if I were out of town and didn’t have access to my computer, since I didn’t have a laptop back then. Strangely enough, each of my parents had a Palm, way ahead of the game back in the day, but they were traveling a lot and, like me, wanted access to all sorts of information while on the go.

At a certain point in 2005, Palm went in the wrong direction, and that’s probably when things started to fall apart. I actually bought the latest Palm at the time, a heavy monster with a 4GB hard drive that was using technology that no one else was even working on, and that technology was unwieldy and, it seems, unnecessary. Everyone else who was in the PDA game was moving towards cellphone technology instead.

What ended up happening is the fancy Palm, which I actually had to replace twice in one year, just couldn’t support itself, and the entire company started tanking, even though Palm had slightly downsized its expectations and come out with the Palm T/X, which I ended up buying. Palm came into the cellphone game late, and its entry, the Pre, has never caught on.

Now word is that Palm has been trying to find someone to buy the company, but not only are there no takers, but many of the top brass have flown the coop. The guy who oversaw software and services, senior vice president Michael Abbott, is jumping to Twitter, which still hasn’t figured out how to make money off themselves; that says something to me. Palm’s stock price is dropping, 12% on Monday alone. At the beginning of the year Palm estimated it would have $1.7 billion in sales in 2010, but the first quarter only came in around $150 million; ain’t gonna happen.

Meanwhile, I’m wondering what this means for me. I don’t know that any of the smartphones that are out there do what my Palm does, the way I want it done. I don’t know if there are any other PDAs on the market. I purchased a refurbished Palm T/X 10 days ago to replace mine, which lasted 2 good years, and I just sent it back today because suddenly last night the screen decided it didn’t want to play anymore; so much for refurbished stuff, although the guy said he would repair it for me.

Oh yeah, I did try to get the one I have repaired, but they said it was past the time and said I had to buy a new one, around $399, and I balked at that because the original only cost me $130; weasels!

What do I need? Here’s my deal. The main thing is I want something I can sync with my computer and laptop so that I never lose all of my information. I like my calendar feature. I like having my entire address book, with email addresses, birthdays, and any other information I want to add with me. I like setting all sorts of alarms to remind me of stuff (like today, without my Palm, I forgot I had something on the stove for over an hour, and luckily the smoke detector finally went off). The Palm can access wi-fi areas (I don’t have to pay for internet service), can play MP3 files, I can customize its look, I can take my Word or Excel files with me, I can read Adobe files, and it also came with some of the Franklin Covey things I like that let you talk about your values and goals and the like.

So, if you can recommend something that does all of that, I’d be interested. Oh yeah; I don’t want a phone if I don’t have to have one, and I don’t want to have to spend $500 for one either (though I’ll own up to paying almost $700 for the Palm that didn’t end up working out for me; never again). Information please!
 

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