Monday, June 16, 2008

Tips for new bloggers

To create and retain a loyal readership, give your readers the value they deserve.

Anyone can start a blog. The problem is, with so many people across the globe blogging regularly, why would anyone want to read what you write? Some people write for the pure pleasure of it, or because for them, a blog is the equivalent of a personal diary. And they are content with a small but dedicated readership of fans or followers. But if you are not a celebrity and writing for a global audience, it can be hard to retain your readers’ interest considering the sheer volume of content that is available online. If you do a little research before beginning writing, you are likely to find that someone somewhere has already said what you want to. And at the same time, now that everyone can be published, a lot of poor quality writing is also doing the rounds online.
But there are things you can do to capture and retain the interest of your readers, improve the overall quality of your writing and ensure that your blog does not sink into the vast seas of repetitive, largely unread online content. Here are some basic guidelines to follow.
1. Define your topic
Decide what you want to write about and stick to it. This will give your writing a sense of direction and purpose. Most people will not be interested in the infinitesimally tiny details of your personal life, however interesting your own thoughts may seem to you. If you have multiple interests, create separate blogs to cover each of these, so you can avoid the verbal equivalent of trying to sell a sledgehammer to a watchmaker. Define your bounds from the start and stay strictly within them; also make them unambiguous and easily identifiable to readers.
2. Make sure you have your story straight
To do justice to your readers, you must be up-to-date with all the latest happenings in the field of your interest. When citing figures or quoting someone, don’t just make an empty statement - be sure to credit the source. Your credibility as a consistent blogger can only be built through knowledge and understanding of the subject matter, and not merely through giving the appearance of knowledge and understanding. This can only happen through dedicated study and sustained interest in the subject. When expressing a personal opinion, explain clearly that it is your personal opinion. Other people may go on to quote you, so be fair to them. Make sure your theories really hold water, and that you are not wasting your readers’ time by stating shaky opinions founded on inadequate research.
3. Get to the point
Your readers’ time is precious. Don’t waste it by giving them lengthy, useless introductions. Before you start writing, make sure you have a point, and focus on introducing it as early as you can. Each sentence should be used to focus and drive your central point. Remember, you have a very short span of time before your reader decides that he/she is uninterested in what you are saying and moves on to the next blog. Use that time as well as you can. State your case clearly and quickly and avoid the use of redundant, repetitive words. Steer clear of adjectives and long-winded descriptions - provide facts as far as possible, and let people judge for themselves. Avoid jargon and long words/sentences where simpler ones will suffice. This will let people relate to your writing with greater ease. Make each word count. Also, remember that people across the globe are going to be reading what you write; in terms of content and style, aim for global rather than local.

4. Be original
Give your readers the value they deserve. They don’t need you to reiterate opinions held by masses of people across the world, or rewrite news items faithfully without diverting from the original content of the story. Look for what people will care about and mould your content to build their interest, but don’t forget to add your own voice and personality to the content you publish.
5. Provide visual relief
Avoid large, intimidating, impossible-to-read blocks of text. Use subheads to break up your text, or insert pictures, graphs or quotes. Ensure that every element is informative, relevant and unambiguous in meaning.
6. Encourage dialogue
The concept of blogging revolves around people exchanging ideas. If you don’t allow people to comment, you lose out on the ability to find out about the large variety of alternative opinions out there. Let people come back to you with what they think, and respond to them. Respect your readers’ opinions even if you don’t agree with them.
This will help you to grow and learn as a writer and person.
7. Stick to a schedule
Figure out how much time you can invest in blogging each week/month. Try to post as frequently as you can, but stay realistic when setting expectations. Don’t overcommit and then disappear for weeks at a time. Apologise to your readers each time you come back after an absence.
8. Spellcheck!
Everyone is prone to the occasional embarrassing typo, and unless you are in the habit of reading your text over several times before you publish, it’s nearly unavoidable. Running a spellcheck before you publish can save you a lot of trouble later.

Happy posting!


Friday, June 13, 2008

Understanding IP addresses in computers

Internet Protocol or IP addresses are common in today's world of networked computers. That's because every computer connected to a single network has an IP.

An IP address is a number that uniquely identifies a computer on a network. Every computer that's connected to a network, whether that network is the Internet or a private home or office network, has a unique IP address.

IP addresses consist of four sets of numbers, with each set separated by a period (dot), such as Every domain name, such as www., maps to a particular IP address.

IP addresses are meted out either as static or dynamic. A static IP address never changes. It's the type used by most major websites. A dynamic IP address is automatically assigned to a computer when you log on to a network. Most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) assign dynamic IP addresses to their customers.

There are two types of IP addresses, internal and external.
An internal IP address is also typically referred to as "non routable". That means that it's an IP address which usually is not exposed to the outside world. Each computer in a home or office network has an internal IP address, and it's that address that you would use to make one computer in an office network, for example, talk to talk to another computer within the same network.

To find your internal IP address, open the Windows Start menu, and select Run. On Windows Vista, simply press Windows Key-R. The Run dialog box opens. Type "cmd," without the quotation marks, in the Run dialog box, and press Enter. A DOS command prompt opens.

From the command prompt, type "ipconfig," without the quotation marks, and press Enter. In a second, Windows will return a small report labelled "Windows IP Configuration." Note that one of those lines, labelled "IP Address," provides your internal IP address. Write those numbers down. To exit the command window, type "exit," and press Enter.

Note that if your computer is configured to obtain an IP address automatically, as many are, this number could change periodically, especially if you must unplug the network cable and then plug it in to another outlet somewhere in a corporation or your home. Therefore, remember this procedure for retrieving your IP address.

An external IP address has also assigned by your ISP to the computer or router that's connected to the ISP.

An IP address is normally no secret. Websites, your Internet Service Provider (ISP), and others can track your IP address, allowing or forbidding access to certain resources if they wish.
You can hide your IP address, however, by using one of the many so-called cloaking services available on the Internet. Cloaking services use what's known as a proxy server to conceal your identity online by providing you with a temporary fake IP address.

To use a cloaking service, you typically log on to the cloaking site and use a form field to type in the address of the website you'd like to visit. Once you click "go," you're taken to the website through the cloaking service, and your IP address is hidden. It not only disguises your IP but also allows you to determine the level of security you'd like.


Is your PC crashing? Help is here

Eight simple steps to keep your PC healthy

For most of us now, the PC is our life. It is where we work, conduct financial transactions, listen to music and watch movies and chat with friends online. So what happens when your PC crashes?
The work that you do is now lost. All the information that you stored is gone. Almost everyone who owns a computer has had to face this grim reality at least once in his or her PC-owning life. What can you do to make sure it doesn’t happen again?
Follow these steps to make sure that your computer stays healthy:
1. Scan Your Computer Regularly: Using Scandisk to scan your computer every week is extremely important. Scanning corrects errors on the hard disk of your computer.
2. Install Anti Virus: Viruses can wreak havoc on computers. It is among the main causes of system crashes. Installing an anti-virus goes a long way in keeping your PC safe and secure. It is also important to bear in mind that installing an anti virus is not enough, you need to carry out regular anti virus scanning of your computer, and keep the virus definitions updated.
3. Install a Firewall: If you are in the habit of logging on to the Internet regularly, you need to install a firewall. A firewall acts as a barrier preventing any unauthorised intrusion into your computer. It also alerts you if any program is being downloaded onto your computer without your knowledge. A firewall is essential to make sure that your computer is not compromised by spyware or adware. Windows XP and Vista come with their own built in firewall that you just need to turn on.
4. Defrag Your Computer: Defragmentation basically reorganizes your hard disk in a way to make sure your files are stored contiguously. It saves up disk space, improves the performance of your computer and prevents overloading. If you install many programs and uninstall them, or delete files often, you need to defrag the hard disk.
5. Perform Disk Cleanup: Another important thing to do to make sure your PC is running at an optimum level is to perform Disk Cleanup. This deletes the remnants of the files you have already deleted. It also compresses old files. You will be surprised to know how much disk space is freed up by performing a disk cleanup.
6. Download as little from the Internet as possible to prevent malware: Many people download free software from the Net. Many download music illegally from peer to peer sites. A lot of the so-called free software that you download can contain spyware.
7. Uninstall Programs You Don’t Use: Use the Add/Remove in the Control Panel to remove programs that you don’t use anymore. It cleans up disk space and improves the performance of your hard disk.
8. Clean the Computer Regularly: Make sure dust does not accumulate inside your computer. Clean your computer once a month with a dry cloth. Also make sure that your air vent is not facing a wall, as it is important to keep your computer properly ventilated to keep it cool.


Friday, June 6, 2008

Cellphones greater threat than smoking

This, however, does not mean that smoking is better for health than using cellphones.

A top Australian neurosurgeon of Indian origin says that cell phones use is a greater threat to human health than smoking, which kills 5.4 million people each year. Dr Vini Khurana, a neurosurgeon at the Canberra Hospital, told UK’s Independent newspaper that there is growing evidence that using handsets for 10 years or more can double the risk of brain cancer.

Dr Khurana says that the cellphone threat is greater because far more people use cellphones than smoke worldwide, some of them starting use at the age of 3 years.

Over 3 billion people use cellphones, which is three times higher than the one billion people who use tobacco. In India, 250 million people use cellphones, second only after US’s 256 million users.

"The threat came from cell phone radiation having the potential to heat the side of the head or thermo-electrically interact with the brain, while Bluetooth devices and unshielded headsets could convert the user’s head into potentially self-harming antenna," said Dr Khurana.

He said that there have been increased reports of brain tumours associated with heavy and prolonged mobile phone use, particularly on the same side as the person’s “preferred” ear for making calls.

"Since cell phones were often a necessity," he says, "people should use them as little as possible and called on the phone industry to make them safer."

The World Health Organisation says that cellphones are safe but admits there are “gaps in knowledge” that need further research about health impact in the longterm. Three large international reviews have investigated and found no conclusive link between use of cell phones and brain cancer, tumours of the brain or leukaemia, and other cancers.