6 Best Apps for Exploring Your City and Enriching Your Journey

Due to rising gas prices, and a general lack of time off for extended travel, many consumers are looking for ways to get out and see the sights in their own residential areas.  While the term of “staycation” is a bit played out, the idea of getting to know your city – in a unique and exciting way, of course – isn’t just savvy, it’s ideal.  Save some cash on flights and hotel, and get familiar with your community via these six amazing apps!

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Goby

Originally marketed as a way to find “family-friendly” activities in and around town, the Goby website and its accompanying app help you narrow down events and destinations that are suited to just your tastes.  Simply answer three questions (What? Where? When?) to receive up-to-the-minute suggestions for things to keep you occupied.  Choose from adventures in dining, arts, entertainment, or even sports; the only limit to your results is the number of inquiries you choose to make!

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MeetUp

Not typically viewed as an app for city exploration, MeetUp has nuggets of info for ways to socialize and see more of the communities that thrive within an area.  If you’re game for meeting new people or pursuing more time with those you already know, the newest version of the MeetUp iPhone app can help you do just that.  While the most recent update has a few bugs to be worked out, the promise of finding others who enjoy nature photography or dog-walking, for example, is impressive.  Assuming you’re a people-person and don’t mind some company on your next adventure, this app is a must-have travel tool.

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Oh, Ranger! Park Finder

If the active and outdoor lifestyle is your thing, you might find yourself at home in your local park or campsite.  Using the Oh, Ranger! App, (which is free) it’s easy to search by your favorite activity – biking or swimming, for example – and get directions to the park that suits you best.  For those who find themselves a bit directionally-challenged, many of the parks’ maps are also available via the app as a PDF document.  (This is good news for those who like to hike, but are never sure how to get back to the car.)  Thousands of parks and public lands are listed, so there’s bound to be an exciting opportunity near you!

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Active.com

When sweating it out is the only way you can truly unwind, the Active.com app might be the perfect way to see your city — on foot.  This handy mobile app lists all upcoming marathons, fun runs, and charity walks in your area; just search by zip code to see what ways you can get moving in your town.  Found an event you want to sign up for?  Registration can be done directly from your mobile device!

Serendipitor

For the explorer with nothing but time on their hands, there is an app that lets you take a less-than-direct route to your desired destination.  Serendipitor allows you to input a desired end point, then follow any of a number of routes based on how much complexity (or detouring) you want to take.  Priding itself on helping users “find something by looking for something else”, the free app for iPhone encourages users to take actions as they journey.  Snap pictures of clouds, document a unique find, or share your route with others; this interactive and whimsical app encourages a different kind of exploration!

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AroundMe

When you need a basic app that gives it to you straight, you can likely get it done with AroundMe.  This app shows you every business or destination within a specified radius from your current destination – handy for anyone needing to find the nearest eatery, restroom, or hospital.  Have a little time before you need to get there?  Search for just a specific chain store, and let AroundMe tell you how many miles before the next one (or two) will appear. Available for iPhone, iPad, and Android, this app isn’t fancy; it just works.

Great Apps For Staying Connected Without Wi-Fi

Productivity is almost 100% dependent on being able to access information wherever and whenever you need to, and wireless connectivity has allowed us to become spoiled with convenience.  It should come as no surprise, then, to learn that most people panic when they are struck with unexpected downtimes in their home and mobile internet; how can they continue to get work done while offline?

We tackle this sticky situation by offering our favorite solutions designed to keep you feeling “connected” in every situation.

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Feed Readers

Keeping up on your favorite blogs and news sites doesn’t have to be limited to just when you’re online.  Mobile feed reading apps like MobileRSS Free for Apple devices allows you to download the feeds of all of your Google RSS subscriptions when you are online, then enjoy them when you’re not.  In addition to having access to the complete article of full feeds, you can add notes until you get back on the web.  Looking for Android version of savvy readers? Greed (shown above) and gReader have both earned high marks for innovative display and interaction with offline content.

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Evernote

This all-in-one tool is perfect for capturing notes, photos, and voice memos for reference and revision offline.  In addition to being one of the most popular sidekicks for journos and bloggers looking to capture the essence of a live event when away from public wi-fi, students find Evernote to be a lifesaver for syncing up classroom notes when internet is iffy. (Find past notes with the handy search tool, and get out from under that paper clutter, already!) Who said that long bus ride had to be a waste of time?

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Ebook Readers

While we can see the advantages to carrying around a dedicated eReader like the Kindle or Nook, the free versions of readers can prove just as useful for getting more of your reading and research done while waiting for the airplane wi-fi to kick on during your next flight.  Since the Kindle app is free for Apple and Android device users and makes it seamless topurchase on Amazon and have it delivered to your device, we find it to be one of the most effective ways to stock your device with offline reading content in the moments you stumble into a good wireless signal.  (Did we mention that we also like “free” content?  With Amazon offering daily premium ebooks for a limited time price of $0, there is no reason not to keep half a dozen great reads on hand for offline enjoyment.)

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Travel Advice

Waiting until you arrive at a new, unfamiliar destination is not the ideal time to start asking questions; we understand, however, if this is your style.  Ask a Nomad is an iPad app designed for the last-minute query surrounding any travel issue, including transportation glitches, safety recommendations, and dining trends.  In addition to being able to access questions that have been asked while you’re offline, you can create new questions that sync up automatically the next time you hit a hot spot.  Ask a Nomad is available at the Apple store for free.

Translation Services

If your career takes you to anywhere remotely unfamiliar, you will likely find yourself using Google Translator or another online service to figure out what a foreign phrase or sign really means.  When traveling outside of the interweb’s reach, however, an app like World Lens may become a cheap lifesaver.  This app (which requires the purchase of separate $10 “packs” for each language you want to crack), allows you to use your Apple device’s camera function to capture foreign lingo to be loosely translated back.  You don’t have to be online – or remember your 2nd semester of Spanish II – to get the basic idea of what foreign languages are trying to tell you.  While not perfect, it’s a great alternative to a pocket translator and requires absolutely no connectivity.

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Wireless Guide

Finally, the best way to stay uber-productive is to get back online!  Finding the closest and most-reliable wireless hub isn’t always cake, however, especially if you aren’t already connected.  Thankfully, services like JiWire are easily downloaded to your device to keep you up-to-date on the nearest spot to get surfing again, and it is available for both Apple and Android devices – for free!

The best way to ensure that your offline experience is as bold and fruitful as your time spent online is to plan ahead, download your favorite apps, and get everything loaded and ready to go.  Since you never know when your connectivity will drop, it’s best to assume it will happen; “up” time, then, will seem like a dream when you get it.

Start throwing video and audio around your house

Once upon a time, it was considered quite a task just to get videos you’d downloaded to play well on your TV.

Now the goal is to have your media everywhere, all the time. We’re still a long way from one solution fitting all, but here’s a rundown of your options if you want to start throwing video and audio around the house.

AirPlay

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If you own everything Apple, AirPlay makes things rather easy. You can easily stream video or photos from your iPad or iPhone to your Apple TV or MacBook, and AirPlay-compatible receivers and speaker docks will happily play audio wirelessly. You can also send the same tune to every set of compatible speakers in your house simultaneously, and the Remote app for iPhone and iPad can help you tie it all together. There are limitations to what you can play and do, but there are apps that subvert AirPlay’s original intention for more functionality.

Not an all-Apple person? You can still take advantage of AirPlay; XBMC can receive AirPlay streams, for one, as can Windows Media Center with a plug-in.

DLNA

In theory, Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) is a wonderful thing that allows you to fling media around compatible devices and have it play anywhere. Consoles support it, TVs support it, mobile phones, tablets and media players support it; it’s all one big, happy, logo-emblazoned family. The current “thing” for demonstrating DLNA has been “flinging” content from a touchscreen phone to a TV with a single swipe, and it’ll start playing.

In practice, though, everyone implements DLNA differently, and it’s not as easy as it should be. Sometimes it flat out just doesn’t work. There’s no unified interface, which can be a blessing in terms of innovation, but a curse in terms of usability.

One of the big stumbling blocks is codecs. If your receiving device (TV, PS3 or otherwise) doesn’t understand the codec your media is encoded in, then it simply won’t play.

Thankfully, if you’re the type who loves to run a server, there are some decent transcoding options to help get around the problem — that is, applications that will convert a movie on the fly, so the receiving device can understand it. These include Plex Media Server, PS3 Media Server, TVersity and the venerable Twonky. Many NAS actually have Twonky already built in.

Set-top boxes

Aieee! The choices never end! The big front runners would be the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 via the DLNA path, but of course these do cost a choice amount, and don’t necessarily have the best codec support without a transcoding server sitting somewhere. They are, however, plugged in to an increasing amount of catch-up TV and video-rental services, and that will only improve over time.

The sideways step would be dedicated media streamers, like the WD TV Live Hub, D-Link’s Boxee Box or a “media tank” like the Popcorn Hour. These (with the exception of Apple TV) typically have a huge list of codecs they support, and for the price involved are one of the cheapest ways to get in on the streaming game.

Laptop wireless to TV

Intel’s WiDi, or Wireless Display, should allow you to connect to your TV using 5GHz Wi-Fi and stream without hassle. The problem, though, is the requirements; you must have a specific, quite recent wireless adapter in your laptop, and something to receive the WiDi signal, whether it’s a set-top box or compatible TV. To anyone just starting out, it could be an expensive proposition to get all the pieces in place.

In saying that, Netgear makes a WiDi receiver, and LG is including WiDi functionality in its 2012 range of TVs.

Another wireless option is the McTivia, which, unlike Intel’s solution, will work with any Wi-Fi adapter, but definitely has its limitations — especially when it comes to high-definition performance.

The reality of the situation is that right now, it’s much cheaper and more convenient to just plug your laptop in directly via HDMI.

Wireless HDMI

If your whole motivation isn’t just flinging media about the place, but hiding the cables from your existing media set-up, check out Belkin’s Screencast AV4, which can take up to four HDMI inputs, then wirelessly transmit to your TV over a proprietary 5GHz connection. It works incredibly well.

Remote software

There are plenty of universal remote apps out there for smartphones and tablets. If you’re on the Android side, Joseph Hanlon recommends the Universal Remote.

For those who are using their computer to play content, you might be interested in Mobile Mouse Pro, which allows your smartphone to be used as a keyboard, track pad and gyroscopic controller.

Servers and NAS

If you’re really serious about your media, and don’t intend to jump on the digital rental bandwagon, you’ll need some hefty storage for all of your videos and music, paired with suitable software so your collection can be accessed by all of your devices. This means one of two things: your own server; or network-attached storage (NAS).

A custom-built server will give you the most flexibility, but it can be a time-consuming path to follow in terms of configuration. For total device compatibility, you’ll likely have to set it up with some of the software mentioned in the DLNA section, along with the typical SMB shares.

While serious media fans are likely to have rack-mounted gear, a server need not be a big, hulking thing; HP‘s microserver, for example, is a small and rather affordable four-disk solution.

Buying a NAS is a slightly easier path. Many NAS devices have their own DLNA-capable server built into them, and some even support AirPlay. Just be aware that you’re at the mercy of the NAS manufacturer should any of the software break in an update; it can’t just be replaced with an alternative, like on Windows.

Home-theatre PC

While they’ve never taken off as a mainstream device (as evidenced by the slow death of Windows Media Center), if you’re a serious video/audio enthusiast, you’re likely to build your own home-theatre PC, likely kitted out with XBMC or ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre. We’d recommend spending some time in the A/V Science Forum to get your set-up down pat, and reap from the incredible amount of knowledge stored there.

Coffee drinkers had a lower risk of death – new study found

Coffee linked to lower risk of death

Researchers have some reassuring news for the legions of coffee drinkers who can’t get through the day without a latte, cappuccino, iced mocha, double-shot of espresso or a plain old cuppa joe: That coffee habit may help you live longer.

A new study that tracked the health and coffee consumption of more than 400,000 older adults for nearly 14 years found that java drinkers were less likely to die during the study than their counterparts who eschewed the brew. In fact, men and women who averaged four or five cups of coffee per day had the lowest risk of death, according to a report in Thursday’s edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The research doesn’t prove that coffee deserves the credit for helping people live longer. But it is the largest analysis to date to suggest that the beverage’s reputation for being a liquid vice may be undeserved.

“There’s been concerns for a long time that coffee might be a risky behavior,” said study leader Neal Freedman, an epidemiologist with the National Cancer Institute who drinks coffee “here and there.” “The results offer some reassurance that it’s not a risk factor for future disease.”

Coffee originated in Ethiopia more than 500 years ago. As it spread through the Middle East, Europe and the Americas, its popularity was tempered by concerns about its supposed ill effects. A 1674 petition by aggrieved women in London complained that coffee left men impotent, “with nothing moist but their snotty noses, nothing stiff but their joints, nor standing but their ears,” according to the book “Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World.”

In more modern times, the caffeinated beverage has been seen as “a stimulating substance, a commonly consumed drug,” said Rob van Dam, an epidemiologist at the National University of Singapore who has investigated the drink’s health effects but was not involved in the latest study.

“People get somewhat dependent on it,” Van Dam said. “If you try to rapidly reduce coffee consumption, you get headaches or other symptoms.”

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The National Coffee Assn. estimates that 64% of American adults drink coffee on a daily basis, with the average drinker consuming 3.2 cups each day. To get a deeper understanding of the risks and benefits of all that joe, the National Cancer Institute researchers turned to data on 402,260 adults who were between the ages of 50 and 71 when they joined the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study in 1995 and 1996. The volunteers were followed through December 2008 or until they died — whichever came first.

When the team first crunched the numbers, coffee seemed to have a detrimental effect on longevity. But people who drink coffee are more likely to smoke, and when the scientists took that into account (along with other demographic factors), the opposite appeared to be true.

Compared with men who didn’t drink any coffee at all, those who drank just one cup per day had a 6% lower risk of death during the course of the study; those who drank two to three cups per day had a 10% lower risk, and those who had four to five cups had a 12% lower risk. For men who drank six cups or more, the apparent benefit waned slightly, with a 10% lower risk of death during the study compared with men who drank no coffee.

The relationship between coffee and risk of death was even more dramatic in women. Those who drank one cup per day had 5% lower odds of dying during the study compared with women who drank none. Those who consumed two or three cups a day were 13% less likely to die, those who downed four or five cups were 16% less likely to die, and those who drank six or more cups had a 15% lower mortality rate.

The effect held across a number of causes of death — including heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke and diabetes — but not cancer, the researchers found. And the link was stronger in coffee drinkers who had never smoked.

The correlation even held for people who mostly drank decaf brew, the researchers found.

“If these are real biological effects, they seem to [have] to do with the substances in coffee that are not caffeine,” Van Dam said. Other compounds in the coffee could be linked to the lower death rates, he said — or there could be no causal relationship at all.

And, Van Dam added, the researchers didn’t make distinctions between different types of drinks. Unfiltered brews like Turkish coffee or Scandinavian boiled coffee have been shown to raise cholesterol and could present very different results from the current study if examined separately, he said.

To prove that coffee deserves the credit, researchers could study each of the 1,000-odd compounds in the brew and test them on subjects over time to see if they reduced inflammation, improved the body’s sensitivity to insulin or caused any other useful biological effects, he said.

10 Most Influential People on Twitter

Twitter has provided an outlet for the masses to express themselves in 140 characters or less at a time. Celebrities and politicians alike have taken to Twitter, which allows these high profile people to directly connect with their public audience. Everyone has a voice on this platform, but some are just heard louder than others. Today, we bring you ten of the most widely followed, influential people on Twitter who have impacted our present culture and continue to have an effect on society.

1. Barack Obama

As the current President of the United States of America, Barack Obama has the world attentively watching and listening to him. In fact, President Obama has had all eyes and ears on him since his election campaign and win in 2008 and his subsequent inauguration in 2009. Twitter has played a vital role in keeping the President and the people connected to one another and spreading the President’s stance on hot topics–most notably, in recent news, includes his support of marriage equality. While his Twitter account is primarily controlled by his campaign staff, he does occasionally take the time out to tweet to his 15 million followers. With the 2012 presidential election approaching, this Twitter account is one to keep a close watch on for the latest in the President’s campaign trail.

2. Pete Cashmore

Pete Cashmore is the founder and CEO of Mashable, a leading news website “dedicated to covering digital culture, social media and technology.” Cashmore, who is only 26 years old, was recently crowned the most influential person in the world on the 2012 TIME 100 list. Having made quite the name for himself, the social news guru’s professional account, whose 50,000+ tweets consist of the latest news article on Mashable, has gained close to 3 million followers. Cashmore also has a personal Twitter account which is less frequently updated.

3. Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey has many titles including actress, producer, and media mogul with her own television network (OWN) and magazine (O). She is the former television host of her own talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, that was widely received and revered for the distance it took from the typical tabloid talk show in the 90’s. For years, she has managed to grow in popularity and make a name for herself as a strong and likable force in the public eye. Like her talk show, Winfrey expresses empathy and compassion for real people and social issues. She utilizes her Twitter account to share inspiring words and write back to the public, which makes a significant difference in the effectiveness of her words.

4. Stephen Fry

Actor, writer, and comedian Stephen Fry is an active and veritable force on Twitter. With over 4 million followers, the British humorist was an early adopter of the quick status updating platform in 2008. The increased popularity of Twitter in the UK is due in large part to the wordsmith’s activity on the social networking site. Fry has managed to grow his humble following from his early years on Twitter with his clever wit. He has garnered a loyal internet following, leading some fans to profess their love for him in equally creative and humorous ways.

5. Felicia Day

Just shy of 2 million followers, actress, writer, and producer Felicia Day‘s influence through her avid use of Twitter has been known to crash sites, simply by tweeting links to them. She is, arguably, the queen of the geeks and gamers. The media maven has cornered the market on gaming and evolved the future of new media with the introduction of her wildly popular web series The Guild, which premiered on YouTube in 2007. Nearly 5 years later, she has managed to build a career out of creating original web content and even launched a YouTube channel called Geek & Sundry that features original shows geared towards indie geek culture everyday.

6. Conan O’Brien

Comedian, writer, and late night talk show host Conan O’Brien has amassed an army of followers who have branded themselves as members of Team Coco, following his controversial exit in 2010 as host of The Tonight Show. After his last day on the popular late night talk show, the funny man took to Twitter, whose profile comically read “I had a show. Then I had a different show. Now I have a Twitter account.” This self-humility proved useful for the charismatic comic who went on to do a sold out 30-city tour, star in his own documentary called Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop, and finally host a late night talk show, yet again, simply called Conan.

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7. Ryan Seacrest

Radio and television host Ryan Seacrest has his finger on the pulse of pop culture, which is surely appreciated by more than 6 million Twitter followers. Seacrest began his hosting career at the age of 16 as an intern at WSTR FM in Atlanta, Georgia and continued to pursue his dream, following in the footsteps of Dick Clark. He soared to fame 12 years later as the co-host of American Idol. Seacrest continues to host the hit reality TV series and his own national radio show, On Air with Ryan Seacrest. Today, he is also an accomplishedproducer of reality television.

8. Rachel Maddow

Author and television host Rachel Maddow is best known for her nightly political news show on MSNBC, aptly titled The Rachel Maddow Show. She is self-admittedly a liberal and respected by her colleagues for her educated political commentary that is devoid of feverish banter. With over 2 million followers, Maddow consistently tweets her opinions on political news across the globe, focusing on national stories. The political pundit regularly shares articles related to politics and social issues and isn’t afraid of being vocal with her own two cents.

9. Roger Ebert

Renowned film critic Roger Ebert is a frequent Twitter user with over 26,000 tweets and counting. The film aficionado began his career as a critic in 1967, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times. It is over 40 years later and Ebert continues to write reviews for the latest films, critiquing their plots and entertainment value. His sharp observations and endless perspectives keep readers interested specifically in his opinions, relying on his approval or objection to a film’s worthiness of attention. In addition to tweeting his own blog posts and other articles related to his passion for film, Ebert often tackles the subject of politics, sharing articles by political experts and lending his sarcastic responses.

10. Russell Brand

British actor and comedian Russell Brand was first introduced to American audiences in 2008 in the film Forgetting Sarah Marshall. From then on, he proceeded to regale global audiences with his quick wit, crafty wordplay, and interesting wardrobe choices. The eccentric, outspoken comic currently has over 4.6 million Twitter followers who revel in his humor. In recent news, Brand has used his wordy humor in Parliament where he had taken a serious stand in the political issue of British drug policy.

How to Get a Bit More From Life

By Ali Luke

Having just started a blog with the tagline “getting more from life”, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to do this myself! A lot of personal development or change advice focuses on the longer term (especially in areas like finance or career), but here I want to look at squeezing the most from the little moments and how to feel satisfied and fulfilled in the shorter term.

Some of the suggestions below are things I’m already doing, some are ones I plan to do. I’d love to hear some of yours too, so please do add to this list in the comments, if you have any favourites that I’ve missed out!

Getting More From Each Day

1. Have a “quiet time”

Spend just ten minutes of the day in prayer, meditation or silent reflection. (I find that the best time for this is first thing in the morning, before breakfast.) You might want to read a passage from the Bible or another holy book, or you might simply sit quietly and think about the day ahead.

2. Open a book

You probably won’t have the time to read a whole novel or non-fiction book in a day – but you can at least open one. Once you’ve read a page or two, you’ll probably be motivated to keep going.

3. Walk

Most of us don’t get enough exercise. I find that I’m not great at sticking to a gym routine, but I make the effort to walk for at least 45 minutes (usually at least an hour) each day. It’s physically and mentally refreshing, and it keeps me from feeling cooped up at my desk.

4. Laugh

Laughing regularly is believed to reduce stress. Find an excuse to laugh at least once a day: watch an episode of a favourite comedy program, or look for web comics or humour blogs that you love. Don’t see this as a waste of time – see it as a way to give yourself a happiness boost and an inoculation against stress.

E. E. Cummings once said “the most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” How very true. I try to be never be too busy to laugh, or too serious to smile.

5. Say “I love you”

Those three little words mean so much to you and to the person who hears them. Tell your partner “I love you” every day, or call your parents, grandparents or other close relative.

Getting More From Each Week

6. Switch off your computer for a day

Since you’re reading this on a blog, I’d guess that you spend a fair bit of time online each week. Many of us live in a state of hyper-connectedness, which can make life feel frantic and rushed. Like our broadband connections, we feel like we’re “always on”. Each week, find a twenty-four hour period to switch off your computer and unplug completely.

7. Write a letter/card

Sitting down to handwrite a letter or card can be as refreshing as a period of quiet time. When people are inundated with emails and other electronic communications, receiving a real letter in the post is an absolute joy: anticipate how they’ll feel as you enjoy writing.

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8. Try a new recipe

Do you eat pretty much the same menu each week? Dig out some of your recipe books and make it a goal to try one new recipe each week. We did this at the start of the year, and discovered a number of new favourites.

9. Write in a journal

I’ve written before about keeping a journal, and it’s a habit that I find very helpful – when I manage to stay committed to doing it. A daily journal might feel like too much, so try setting aside 30-60 minutes once a week to sit down and write about your thoughts and experiences.

10. Finish a book

If you’re reading a bit each day, you should be able to finish an average length novel or book in a week. Pick something you enjoy rather than something you feel you should read, and ask friends for recommendations if you’re not sure what to try. Make it a paper book, not an ebook: the reading experience is different when you can curl up undisturbed in a chair.

Getting More From Each Month

11. Write a list of achievements

Something I’ve been doing on a monthly basis since the start of 2008 is keeping a list of achievements. This takes me perhaps ten minutes each month, but it’s been a huge help in not only encouraging me to strive for new achievements but also in helping me recognise and celebrate my progress.

12. Do a thirty-day trial

The idea of thirty-day trials has been popularised by Steve Pavlina and other personal development bloggers – and for good reason. Committing to something like a new diet, an exercise regime, or daily meditation is much easier when you’ve got an end or goal in sight. If there’s something that you keep meaning to do but find it hard to face starting on, try a thirty-day trial.

13. Learn something new

Each month, set yourself a specific goal about learning something new. It doesn’t need to be something big: perhaps you want to learn to use a new software package, or learn the absolute basics of a new language. It could be something hobby-related: this month, I’m teaching myself to knit.

14. Have a work-free weekend

Many of us find that work spills over into the weekend. Perhaps you have too much to do in the office, or perhaps you have a side business that takes up a lot of your free time. Maybe you’re studying for a degree or other qualification, and often spend your weekends on that. It’s not always possible to keep every weekend work-free, but having at least one work-free weekend each month can really help to improve your quality of life. You might even want to extend this further and shoot for A Weekend Unplugged, avoiding computers, television and cell phones too.

15. Volunteer

Finally, find some time, even if it’s just an hour or two, to volunteer some of your time each month. Church and community organisations are often great sources of opportunities to really get involved and make a difference.

Volunteering is unique in that it gives you a very pure opportunity to connect with people that you may never have met otherwise. I am always surprised by how much I learn about myself through relationships I never would have forged if I hadn’t volunteered my time.

20个仿Quora的免费问答网站程序

接触网站制作和运营将近9年了,还从没想过搭建问答社区,其实这倒是个还不赖的主意,不过被人抢先了,这是一个免费问答网站搭建平台的程序名单,通过这些程序,你可以搭建像Quora, StackOverflow, Yahoo Answers, 知乎,啊烦题之类的sns问答网站。

西乔是我非常欣赏的一位web设计师,今天很早起来拍片子,回来后看了看他的博客,看到一个巴别塔的问答社区网站设计,我心中想,为什么我就不能为 阿拉伯风做一个这样的设计呢?最近正要改版,打算把功能调整一下,也许系里还会很支持也说不定,于是就找了这么一个单子,希望更多的人能够受益。

OSQA

QSQA是一个免费开源的全功能问答社区平台,用户可以通过回答问题得到积分和勋章什么的,由 DZone 推送,这是世界上最大的程序猿社区之一。

Qanda

Qanda是一个基于PHP 5 和 Kohana MVC framework的开源程序, 现在正处于beta dev阶段,可自定义性非常强,可以自己设计模板。

Shapado

如果你想创建一个有教育性意义的公共问答型网站, Shapado就是你的选择,源程序通过GNU Affero General Public License 发布,这意味着你必须将程序链接放入你的网站。这是我的候选程序之一,看起来很不错。

phpMyFAQ

 

phpMyFAQ的最大特点就是可以使用多种标准数据库,可以进行分类搜索或者分语言搜索,支持的数据库类型有: MySQL (libmysql and mysqlnd), PostgreSQL, SQLite, Sybase, MS SQL Server, IBM DB2, IBM Cloudscape, Apache Derby, Interbase,  Firebird. Most popular FAQs, latest FAQs, and sticky FAQs. PDF, XHTML, and plain XML.

BellaBuzz

BellaBuzz 更像是一个FAQ页面,功能有:自动过滤词语和IP,流量控制,自定义等

ask_rave

这个程序允许用户向网络管理员提交问题,更加适合公司的客服页面使用。

Askbot

功能仿照StackOverflow制作,是我的第二个候选程序,基于python编写,GPL免费开源。

68KB

68KB是个典型的PHP+MySQL的网站程序,68KB 的主要特点有:能够使用插件

Faqtastic

Faqtastic 是个不错的问答社区站选择,你可以通过它搭建一个自定义的问答社区

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Dacios FaQ

这个程序很简单但是功能齐全,不好看,个人觉得像phpmyadmin似的···唉,不过自己设计一下UI估计会好些。

FAQbar

question2answer

功能比较强的一个faq社区。

Stacked

仿照yahooanswer的

PHPancake

这个程序的本意是建立一个讨论性的社区,野心很大,类似中国的phpwind之类的,不过也就问答模块比较实用。

Solace

这是类似Quora的一个网站,没有quora邀请码的都下载看看quora什么样吧。

Cahoots

Community Tracker

比较显著的特点是支持Open ID

ArrayShift

Drupal改装的,能实现问答社区的基本功能,但是我不喜欢这个界面。

SOClone

SOClone据说是一个非常强大的跨浏览器式的平台,不过我没有测试,请哪位测试一下给我个简评?谢谢

Qwench

Qwench 是一个基于PHP和MySQL的 StackOverflow 仿制品。功能包括:用户问答、得分系统、wiki系统、锁定注册用户系统等等。

文章来源:大舌音

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5 “facts” from a freshman

I decided to attend Penn because I would be studying at the Wharton School. I really had no idea what I would be learning, exactly. All I knew was that I would study “business.” However, as my first semester of college is coming to a close, I notice that much of what I have learned so far this year involves the transition from high school so college, from dependence to relative independence: this knowledge is not specifically limited to what is taught in class.

In addition to teaching you about the economy/linguistics/technology/etc., classes teach you about yourself.

In most of my courses, class participation is a component of our grades. In one class, it is worth 40% of our entire grade! The learning environment is meant to be one in which there is an exchange of dialogue between the professor and the students, not a one-way flow of information. It is so interesting to hear unique perspectives and difference opinions. Listening to opinions that conflict with your own can make you question your own values, leading to a better understanding of yourself.

I have also learned about my self-doubt from being in classes where participation is expected. Being an introvert, I often find it very difficult to raise my hand and voice my thoughts. Sometimes I meticulously analyze what I plan to say, and by the time I am ready to speak, the professor has already led the conversation on to the next point! My hesitation really impairs me in classes like these. I am glad I discovered this now, since I still have time to work on it.

Distractions can lead you to failure.

Distractions steal time, precious time which could be used for bigger and better things. I am ashamed to say this, but I am addicted to chatting online with friends. This sounds like a silly habit that should be easy to correct, but, unfortunately, it’s been serious problems for me.

I love instant messaging because it’s so convenient, and it’s a great way to stay in touch with friends. In high school, chatting wasted much of my time, but its negative effects were not as obvious as they are now. Since coming to Penn, I’ve been chatting more and more (and therefore concentrating less and less). This is currently one of my biggest concerns, and I am trying to become more self-disciplined.

Procrastination can also lead you to failure.

A few weeks ago, I suffered through one of the most stressful weeks o my life. It is now a crazy blur in my mind, so I don’t remember many of the details. All I know is that I had a presentation to give, along with a couple of midterms to take. By not planning the presentation or studying for the midterms until a couple of days before they were scheduled, I had sealed my own fate. Nothing turned out as well as it could have, and my lack of sleep made it hard to focus in class, creating a horrible chain of fatigue, bad grades, and pessimism that was hard to break. If only I had managed my time more wisely!

  There is no worse feeling than knowing that you have disappointed those who love you.

Every night, I call my parents to tell them about my day and to hear about theirs. My parents’ genuine care for me is always apparent in theirs voices. They want me to learn, to succeed, and, most importantly, to be happy.

I have always been honest with them, so when I wasted too much time chatting online, they knew. When I did poorly on my midterm, they knew. When, due to my procrastination, I got 2 hours of sleep each night for a few consecutive days, they also knew. Their worry and disappointment remind me that the results of my foolishness don’t just affect me; they also affect those who believe in me.

My mother and father shouldn’t have to spend time being concerned about me. I feel so guilty every time I think about how hard my parents have worked and how much they have sacrificed in order to allow me to be where I am today, in the U.S. and at my dream college. To be honest, I don’t deserve all that they have given me. Studying hard and taking care of myself is the least I can do to show them my appreciation.

  There is always room for improvement.

In Management 100, a mandatory class for all Wharton freshmen, groups(each consisting of about a dozen people) embark on different community service projects, learning firsthand about the significance of leadership and communication skills within a team.

The group I’m in consists of a few people who always take charge, a number of members who come up with great ideas, and others who complete tasks efficiently. Though we each have distinct strengths, we also have weaknesses that make us less powerful than we could be. During our numerous feedback sessions, we discuss our team dynamics. Compliments, as well as constructive criticism, are given to each and every member, and through these sessions, I’ve learned more about what it takes to be an effective leader.

In the group, I am more task-oriented. I do have ideas, but I do not always communicate them. My strength is that I dedicate myself to various assignments, while my weakness is that I am not as aggressive as I should be. I used to think that being nice and always listening to others was one of my best qualities, but I now realize that in order to be a good leader, I must learn how to listen to others without constantly surrendering to them.

From this class, I’ve learned that feedback is always useful when it is given sincerely and willingly received. Our professor himself even asked us for feedback about his teaching style and the content of the course. I guess this means that there is always room for improvement.

In a way, this is rather comforting. We will never be perfect, so there will (and should) always be something to strive for, and ideal to work towards. This is what makes life so interesting, isn’t it?

我们永远不会达到完美, 因而总有些事情值得我们去争取,总有些理想值得我去追求,这让生活如此多姿多彩,不是吗?

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Change Your Life to Get What You Need

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By Maya Ackerman

We have enormous resources at our disposal. We each have 24 hours a day, each packed with 60 fresh minutes. We have a beating heart and lungs full of air in a body capable of incredible things. And there is usually even a little money.

So why is it that despite all of these resources, we often find ourselves stuck, unable to do anything, unable to make desperately needed changes in our life? Let me tell you why. Because it has all been spoken for. All of our recourses have already been allocated.

A Personal Story

This used to be me: selfless and sacrificing. Life was busy and stressful, and there was never quite enough time to do what I like, to pursue my dreams or even just relax.

I thought that this was how life was meant to be, that this was as good as it gets, until, as if out of nowhere, my marriage was falling off a cliff. This was three years into what I thought was the perfect marriage, and we already had a small child.

I found myself sitting at the therapist’s office with tear is my eyes, mumbling “My life is an endless stream of obligations. I can never do anything want.”

That’s when I knew it was time for a change. Pushed to the edge of my limits, having donated all of my time and energy to my family, I was utterly miserable and my life was falling apart. Enough was enough.

I became acutely aware of everything that I have been giving away. Suddenly, it was clear how to make a change. This is my life, my time, and my energy. With this realization, things started to change very quickly. I became a lot more assertive. I learned to say “no.” Virtually everyone started to take me more seriously and treat me better. Even waiters at restaurants became nicer.

For the first time since I was married, I had my own space in my house: A large room with my piano and a glass desk to work and practice music.

I experienced tremendous personal growth. I put aside time to sing every day, something that I’ve always wanted to do, and improved very quickly. I stopped piling work on myself. I rested when I was tired.

It used to be that no matter how much I earned, there was never enough money for what I really wanted. But then, I got a nice hair cut and some new clothes. I found money for additional singing lessons.

My life was better than ever. I woke up every morning excited to start the day. I finally had enough time and resources for what I wanted and I felt more alive than ever before. What’s more, no one was hurt by any of this. Within a few months, my marriage was back on track.

The Apple Pie Analogy

Imagine everything you have – all your time, energy, and money – as a fresh apple pie. Some of this pie belongs to your boss. Another piece goes to your partner. There’s a piece for each of your children, your friends, your parents, and your neighbors. Don’t forget the random guy you helped in the mall yesterday… where is your piece?

We try to be selfless. We try to be generous. But, sometimes, we go too far. We give, and we give, and we give… and then, all of sudden, nothing is left for us. NOTHING.

Of course, it’s good to treat others well. You need to devote time to your job and your partner, and, obviously, your children need you. The problem is that many of us go too far, to the point that there is nothing left for us.

Is it any wonder then that we find ourselves unable to move a muscle, even when we desperately need to change our lives?

To effect change in your life, you need some resources. There is simply no way around it. You need some time. You need some energy. And, yes, for some changes you may even need a little money. But the good news is that most likely you already have all these resources. You just need to reclaim them.

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Reclaim Your Time

You want to change your life, but you just don’t have the time.

You don’t have time for yourself? Where did it all go? You have given a large enough donation already. It’s time to reduce your contribution. Reclaim your time. Start small. 10 minutes, just for you. Then an hour. Then an evening. You desperately need some time for you, time to do what you and only you want to do. Time that you use to feel better, to improve your life, to bring about change.

It is time to stand up for yourself. Don’t be afraid to say “no.” It’s ok to give yourself some time. You are not being selfish. You are being kind – to yourself. We are all here for a limited time. It is our responsibility, indeed our duty, to use some of it for ourselves.

Reclaim Your Energy

You want to change your life, but you just don’t have the energy.

Perhaps the most unfortunate thing about how we treat ourselves, is that we typically give ourselves the lowest quality time there is. It’s 20 minutes before bedtime. Here is my “me time”! This is not going to cut it. Less time, but when you have more energy, would be a lot better.

This is your energy! Should you not get first dibs at it? Reclaim your energy. Use it towards your own means. Give yourself some time when you are at the top of your game, and you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll be able to do for yourself.

Reclaim Your Money

You want to change your life, but you just can’t afford it.

It’s absolutely amazing that most of us don’t have money for ourselves. We can afford huge homes, sometimes with extra rooms that are hardly ever used. Some of us can afford more than one car per household. We somehow find a way to send our kids to college. We work so hard, and find a way to afford everything – except that which we really need and want.

Sometimes the problem is that not a penny of our money is really ours. Before you even have a chance to look at it, it’s already made its way into a shared account. If that’s the problem, give yourself an allowance. Surely you should be allowed to keep a small percentage of your income. But sometimes our partner is not the problem at all, or maybe there isn’t one in the picture. Most often, we are the ones stopping ourselves from using our resources to our benefit – even when we desperately need to. So I say, reclaim your money. Use at least a little bit just for you. You can start small. But it is well worth the effort – sometimes, a little money used well can make a big difference.

***

Now I know that it’s not easy. When you get into the habit of giving, it becomes very difficult to take, even from yourself. We grow to view ourselves as generous, loving, and considerate, and we are afraid to shake this image. But “those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.” You have the right to your own resources. You have the right to affect change in your life.

So go ahead. Take the first step. Reclaim 10 minutes of your best time starting today. Today, give yourself permission to use your own resources to improve your own life. You have everything you need at your disposal. You need only use it.

When you use what you already have, there is nothing that you cannot achieve.

Top 5 Things that Should be on Every Bucket List

By Deborah Fike

Once again, those “100 things to do before you die” lists are making their rounds on Facebook. You know, the “100 foods you should eat before you die” or the “100 places to visit before you die.” I admit that I try to cross as many as I can off the list, but inevitably, I fall short. I’ve only eaten 32 out of 100 foods against the average user at 45, and 15 places, where the average user sits at 21. Even among my friends, I generally am the least well-rounded as far as foods and traveling goes.

Of course, these lists are just for fun, but still, it got me thinking. Everyone’s got his or her own bucket list, and they must vary wildly from person to person. Is there a universal list of things everyone should try before they shuffle off this mortal coil? I would argue for the following:

1. Stand up for something you believe in.

Everyone has strong convictions: political, religious, or social. At some point in your life, pick a conviction and really support it. Volunteer at an non-profit for several years. Help a local candidate with the same views get elected to office. Convince your friends to donate money for a cause. Spread the word to as many people as you can.

Being part of a movement fosters feelings of community, and others will remember your passion for years to come. What better way to be remembered than by what you believe in?

2. Help someone in a big way, knowing you will get nothing in return.

It’s great, of course, to help people out when they need it. I’m just as willing as the next person to chip in $5 if a friend-of-a-friend has a major medical illness. However, we have opportunities to go beyond that, to really help someone out with absolutely no expectation of a return favor.

During a very rough stage in my career when the job market was tight, a man I had met at a conference years before heard about my job search troubles and helped me land a job in my field. Before he reached out to me, I couldn’t even remember what he looked like. That guy did a lot for a virtual stranger – asking his buddies about openings, putting his credentials behind me. Paying a gift like that forward is something that will stick with you for a lifetime.

3. Follow your passion to the end.

At least once in your life, you should take a chance on yourself and follow your passion. Even if it fails, even if it never goes anywhere, you should try it. It might mean quitting your job and trying out a new career. It might mean giving up your weekends for three months to work on an idea that’s been burning in your brain. Whatever it is, you will never regret the time spent to try something you always wanted to do. On the flip side, you will always wonder “what could have been” if you never try.

4. Forgive someone that did something terrible to you.

Forgiveness comes easier to some folks than others. I used to lie strictly in the “hard to forgive” category. I held onto bad feelings and let them simmer. Those kinds of emotions not only affect your relationship with that particular person, it bleeds into other parts of your life as well.

I’m still not as good as forgiving as I’d like to be, but I’ve been able to make peace with a few of the big wrongs that have happened against me in my life. I discovered that forgiveness doesn’t mean the action becomes acceptable, just that I don’t have to dwell on it. I can let go of guilt and anger and focus my energies on better things. I’ve saved a few relationships with certain family members this way. They’re not perfect relationships, but they’re better than what I had before, and I’m a much happier person overall.

5. Take a chance on love after you’ve been burned.

It’s true, love can hurt. Unreturned love is maybe the worse type of human hurt, whether it comes from a parent, a child, a lover, or a friend. I don’t know a single person who hasn’t been burned by love in some form or fashion. It’s a rite of passage of being human. But to never choose love again for fear of being hurt – that’s the worst punishment of all. After you’ve been burned, you cherish it more, you improve how you give it, and like wine, it gets better with age. Find someone worthy and give love a second chance.

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* * *

So my bucket list suggestions may not be as exciting as caviar or Yellowstone National Park, but I’d say they would have more impact on your overall life experience.

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