Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Happy New Year 2020!

Wishing you and yours a safe, blessed, prosperous, and Happy New Year! Thanks so much for your readership and support. It means a lot to me. I hope you're finding this blog to be of some value to you. Here's to 2020!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

The four-second rule of Web site design

According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, average attention spans in 2015 were just over eight seconds. Though this itself sounds short, the institute also found that attention spans may be even shorter while surfing the Web, as nearly twenty percent of reported page views lasted less than four seconds. So, in knowing that you have such a small window of time to connect with your visitors, what can be done to keep people on your site beyond the initial four seconds?

First, ensure your site is fast loading, and, second, place your most engaging content readily in view of your visitors.

When discussing page load speed, it is widely acknowledged that faster is better. After all, if visitors fail to find attention-grabbing content within the first four seconds of clicking through to your site, they may hit the back button in hopes of finding another site that will cater to their needs in a timelier manner. To avoid losing your visitors before they even reach your content, always choose a hosting provider with consistently high-speed service and uptime guarantees. You should also optimize your Web site's assets and code to further reduce page loading times.

Beyond choosing a fast and reliable hosting provider and optimizing your site's assets and code to improve page load speed, you may also want to familiarize yourself with the concept of heat mapping. Various online heat mapping tools are available that can show you which portions of your pages draw the most visitor interaction. Using this information, rearrange your pages so your most engaging content is higher up on the page. That way, it can be more easily found by your Web site's visitors.

In a world with ever-shortening attention spans, it's becoming more important for Web site designers to consider the four-second rule when creating and optimizing their Web sites. To help retain your visitors beyond the first four seconds of their arrival, always ensure that your hosting provider provides fast and reliable service, that your Web site's assets and code are optimized for reduced loading times, and that your site's most engaging content is readily available to your Web site's visitors.

Comparing WordPress platforms

What are the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

Despite WordPress being one of today's most popular blogging options, many people remain confused about the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Though both Web sites may sound similar at first mention, there are several important differences between the two. So, if you are planning on creating a WordPress site, be sure to compare the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, so you can choose the product that is right for you.

The following lists will help you compare the two sites:

  • On WordPress.com, blogs are hosted by WordPress, so you aren't required to purchase a custom domain name or Web hosting. There is also no need to download or install the WordPress software yourself.
  • When using WordPress.com, basic service is free but ad-supported. Free accounts have limited storage space and use a WordPress.com subdomain for the website address.
  • Upgraded accounts on WordPress.com have access to more features than their free counterparts. Popular upgrades include increased storage space, the ability to install plugins, and monetization options. While upgraded accounts are still hosted by WordPress, they can use a custom domain name if one is purchased separately.
  • When creating a site at WordPress.com, all updates, backups, and maintenance are performed by WordPress.
  • If you wish to self-host a WordPress blog, you must first purchase your own custom domain name and Web hosting, then download and install the free blogging software available at WordPress.org.
  • When self-hosting a blog with files downloaded from WordPress.org, storage space is only limited to the space offered by your hosting provider. Many providers offer unlimited storage space as part of their standard hosting plans.
  • As a self-hosted blog owner, you can monetize your site as you see fit and install any plugins you choose.
  • When self-hosting a WordPress blog, you must perform your own updates, backups, and maintenance.
Despite the similarities between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, there are several differences to consider when deciding which product is right for you. For those looking for a free (albeit limited) option requiring less technical know-how, WordPress.com is the way to go. For prospective bloggers who are looking for a more robust, customizable product, WordPress.org may be the better option of the two.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Mastering Spanish via distance learning

Distance learning: Spanish courses abroad

There are many reasons people go abroad to take Spanish courses. Distance learning, as it is sometimes referred to as, will put you right in the middle of a Spanish-speaking community to help speed you up on your Spanish learning journey. Whether you just want to take a few Spanish courses or earn a full Spanish degree, distance learning could be the answer you are looking for.

As the Spanish language differs greatly from one location to another, you will need to keep this in mind when deciding which distance learning Spanish courses you would like to take. Do you want to learn Spanish as is spoken in Spain? Then look for a distance learning Spanish course in Spain. Want to learn the language as it's spoken in Mexico? Then look into distance learning programs in Mexico.

Regardless of which distance learning location you choose, the key to fully benefiting from the experience will be to engage and interact with the community. Get out there and talk with some native Spanish speakers. Attend some Spanish language entertainment. Doing so will greatly improve your Spanish fluency and will help you increase your overall Spanish comprehension.

Distance learning is one of the best ways to become fluent in another language and will often result in more language comprehension in less time. Because Spanish is spoken in much of Central and South America, as well as in Spain, you will have many options when deciding on which distance learning Spanish courses you want to enroll in. Whichever you choose, rest assured that you will be leaving your distance learning course with a better understanding of the Spanish language.

Learning the English language

Five reasons it's worth learning the English language

There are many reasons why learning English is a worthwhile venture. First, English is a global language that often provides the common ground for speakers who don't speak each other's native languages. Next, a basic understanding of English is often recommended, or even required in some cases, for those seeking admittance to a top university or employment at a multinational company. Finally, English is the language of science and technology. Continue reading for a more detailed explanation of each of these points.

1. English is a global language.

English is worth learning because, unlike most other languages, its core group of speakers isn't focused in a limited number of regions around the world. In fact, English is the official language of 39 countries and a co-official language in 34 more. Furthermore, English is considered to be the de facto official language in another five countries that haven't formally designated an official language.

2. English is often the language of choice between speakers from different regions.

With 942 million speakers, English ranks second among the world's most spoken languages and first among the world's most spoken second languages. Because of this, it often becomes the language of choice between speakers from different regions. It's worth learning English because even the most basic understanding of the language can help individuals from different regions overcome a language barrier.

3. English fluency is required at many top universities.

For those wishing to study at a world-renowned university, it's worth learning English. This is because many top universities only accept students fluent in the English language. In fact, certain universities even require prospective students to pass an English proficiency test prior to admittance if English isn't their native language.

4. Understanding English is essential when working for multinational companies.

For people seeking employment in a multinational company, it's worth learning the English language. As employees of such companies often communicate across borders, they will have a much better chance at finding some common linguistic ground with their foreign contacts if they can understand the English language.

5. English is the language of science and technology.

As most scientific papers and technical manuals are only published in English, learning the English language should be a top priority for anyone pursuing a career in science or technology. People with a casual interest in either of these fields may also find that English is worth learning for the same reason.

As you can see, there are many reasons why it's worth learning the English language. Sure, the spelling and pronunciation systems may seem nonsensical at times, but despite this, English is still one of the easier languages to learn due to its relatively simple alphabet and the overwhelming amount of resources available to those wishing to learn it - two important factors that can be extremely helpful when learning a new language.


Voluntourism: Making the world a better place one trip at a time

Voluntourism is a popular form of international travel that combines the good intentions and the many benefits of volunteering with the excitement of tourism. Aimed at those looking to make a positive change in the world, voluntourism provides a safe and easy way for tourists to help others in developing or devastated communities around the world, without the typical time commitments seen in more traditional forms of international volunteering.

To help keep costs at a minimum, voluntourists often live with host families while staying in their selected region. Such arrangements are mutually beneficial. Not only is the local community rewarded by the efforts of generous volunteers, but the volunteers themselves are rewarded by being directly immersed into the local culture, giving them a perspective and meaningful opportunities to reflect not easily seen from the vantage point of a standard tourist.

Reaching all areas of the globe, voluntourism spans countless interests including archeology, building, care, conservation, farming, sports, and teaching. Various programs focusing on interests such as these are then tailored to each volunteer's age, schedule, and level of commitment. Business voluntourism is also becoming popular and can be great for team building, public relations, and employee morale.

For youths interested in voluntourism, programs are available for high school -aged individuals through several organizations over the summer months. There are also spring break and gap year voluntourism opportunities aimed at college-aged individuals looking to make a difference. Not only does participation in such programs leave many youths with a new perspective on the world, it can also make for an interesting addition to the participants' college applications and resumes.

Before finalizing any voluntourism plans, it's important that you research a number of different voluntourism organizations, as not all offer the same options or experiences. It's also worth noting that in some cases, the organization may help subsidize costs like airfare, insurance, and personal allowances, while in other cases, it's the volunteers who must cover the full cost of the trip.

So, if you want to see the world while doing something meaningful with your life, it's time to give the idea of voluntourism some real consideration. By becoming a voluntourist, you can build lasting friendships, have rewarding experiences, and make a real difference in the lives of those living in developing or devastated communities around the world.

How to eat healthy on a budget

Eating healthy can be a challenge - especially when you're on a tight budget. But being strapped for cash doesn't mean you have to subsist on a diet of only unhealthy foods, however. When money is tight, try these simple tips that can keep you eating healthy for less.

1. Buy in-season fruits and vegetables.

Fresh produce generally costs less while it's in season, so when you're shopping for groceries, be sure to seek out in-season fruits and vegetables. If you need to purchase produce that is out of season, compare the item's fresh and frozen prices to see which is currently more cost-effective.

2. Buy day-old bakery items.

Despite tasting almost as fresh, day-old bakery items are cheaper than their freshly baked counterparts. The only downside - day-olds are often packaged in larger quantities. Fortunately, freezing the extras can help you maintain their freshness. For the healthiest options, stick to wholegrain baked goods.

3. Buy dairy products in larger sizes.

As dairy products like milk and cheese tend to get cheaper per serving as sizes go up, opt to buy the larger sizes whenever possible. Do check, however, that the products' expiration dates are far enough away so the items can be fully consumed before they spoil, or else this tip may actually end up costing you more in the long run.

As you can see, it's possible to spend less while still maintaining a healthy diet. So, to help ensure you're still eating healthy while on a budget, give these tips a try the next time you need groceries, but find yourself strapped for cash.

Japanese greetings

Following are several ways to greet a person in Japanese. The main greetings of good morning, good afternoon, and good evening are chosen based on the time of day. Here’s a brief rundown to get you started:

Good morning

The Japanese word for “good morning” is “ohayou”. The ending “gozaimasu” can be added for politeness, extending the phrase to “ohayou gozaimasu”. Pronounced: Oh-high-yoh go-zeye-ee-moss.

Hello / Good afternoon

For a more generic greeting meaning “hello”, the Japanese say “konnichiwa”. This is used in the late morning hours and through to the late afternoon. Pronounced: Kohn-nee-chee-wah.

Good evening

During the evening hours, the Japanese say, “konbanwa” which translates to “good evening” in English. Pronounced: Kohn-bahn-wah.

As you can see, choosing the proper Japanese greeting is as easy as determining the time of day. So the next time you travel to Japan, you’ll have no trouble greeting the Japanese people in their own language.

Merry Christmas

For those of you who celebrate today, I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Learning over winter break

As we begin winter break (or recently began it) for both high school and college students, I want to challenge you to take advantage of this time to continue learning and expanding that wonderful gift you have - your mind. I don't necessarily mean school work, although high school students may have some actual school work to take home and complete during their break. College students, on the other hand, will usually be between semesters with no school work.

The kind of learning I'm primarily talking about here is learning that will help you in identifying and selecting potential career and college tracks that you may be interested in pursuing.

Use a good portion of your break time to reflect and figure some of these things out. It will certainly be to your advantage. What are your hobbies and interests? What have you done so far for volunteer work, or what would you like to do for volunteer work? Is there anyone you can start networking with? Do you already have a basic resume ready to go, or do you need to work on that still? If you're still in high school, have you started exploring any formal post- high school training and education you may want or need to obtain?

Take advantage of this time. Don't squander it. Check out this page of career readiness resources for more ideas and inspiration.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Thanking teachers, coaches, and professors

Is there a teacher, coach, administrator, professor, or other staff member - past or present - that really made a profound impact in your life? Feel free to use the Comments section below to thank that person and share your story! We'd love to hear all about it!