Developing Mutual Understanding among Teams

The most important aspect of human life is human Behavior or attitude. One who learns to master the art of self control becomes a very polished and successful person. People who learned to control their behaviors can only understand how to control others too. Such people become very good leaders because they exhibit leadership qualities. They have enough potential to drive others.  They got qualities to be the team leads.
We can never eliminate human factor from human beings which are based on their feelings, emotions and reactions. This is very much gifted from God to humans and it is an innate capacity given to them in order to understand each other.  It is better to use this human factor in evaluating humans and bring harmony and understand among them.  This can only be achieved by understand the psychology of humans from various aspects their attitude, behavior, family back ground, relationships, experiences.  To do this it is of significant importance to have people with higher emotional quotient (EQ) in leading roles because they posses’ immense qualities of overcoming emotional upheavals and understands human behavior very well.
All the great leaders of the world Sir Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi, Mohammad Ali Jinnah . Nelson Mandela all were very much liked by people because of the fact that people could relate to them they had high EQ. Such kinds of qualities are required in a manager as well to deal with his subordinates and team members. He must be intelligent enough to give respect to emotional elements and sentiments of the people in his team and that’s the key to develop understanding among team members. The level of friendship and communication will decide how far a team can be successful and able enough to achieve the organizational and individual objectives.
No assignment or project can be done individually so mutual dependence is of utmost value and developing it among team members is difficult since everyone has a different mindset and nature. It is the responsibility of manager to listen to everyone but come up with the right decision the optimal solution to fulfill the organizational objective.  Hence once the teams develop understanding so it can become easy for them to mutually cooperate and come up to the similar conclusion and concur with each other on various organizational issues.
Hence these are the ways a manager needed to observe while managing teams in order to make team members understand each other, cooperate with each other and be successful in the achievement of organizational objectives.

Women Empowerment and Education

A woman plays the most integral part in a child’s life; she remains the most prominent character and an emblem of love and support throughout his life. Whatever a mother can teach a child no teacher can, no book or experience can. She is both a mother and a close friend to a child.  A child feels at ease sharing all the desires, hopes, expectations and experiences with his mother. She is a companion from cradle to grave guiding all the way. Mother’s teachings are worth remembering to every child and they become his reflection. Her wishes sprout the personality of a child in all good. So the importance of a mother is undeniable.
Hence we can draw a point that it is of significant importance to educate and empower our women. Since, she is the one who is participating in the character building of the nation. If we deeply follow it is not the leader but the mother who is building the nation transferring values and virtues to individuals. There is a dire need of providing education to women in large capacities since they occupy the major chunk of population and can contribute enormously in nation building. Not only household women need education and grooming but largely women needs to be educated to take part in developing the country.  There are numerous benefits of giving professional and technical education to women. Firstly they can prove to be very good teachers, financial analysts, entrepreneurs, designers, doctors etc.
Secondly since they are quiet eloquent by nature so they can impart the learned knowledge and experiences very well. God has given them very natural communication capacity they can be excellent communication and customer relationship managers and can mange clients brilliantly. In business world they can show their skills and abilities very well. This is the reason why all the technical giants like IBM, Cisco, Microsoft, Yahoo, Google , You tube, Face book etc all have Women as their CEO,COO,CFO etc
So my message to all my readers is that do encourage your daughters to learn. Give them excellent education as you give to your boys. Who knows your daughter can be the next CEO of any multinational ever thought? Think once……and please Empower and educate your women.

Building Technical Skill set

In this non stagnant business world it is of utmost importance to build technical expertise. There are very many people who are not capable enough to acquire academic qualification by attending schools and professional institutions.  For such people vocational training centers are established worldwide which are largely supported by government in the developed countries and nominal charges in the under developed  nations. People can get immense knowledge and can learn several skills through getting vocational trainings.
Even governments themselves give opportunities to individuals to empower them and develop effective workforce in order to improve productivity and manufacture capital goods to earn foreign exchange and export more. The more you have skilled man power the more you have production and growth opportunities. All the biggest economies have trained their individuals to work hard and contribute in building them up and make the use of internal resources so that imports are less and exports are more and only such economies has grown since last few decades who learned the lessons of being self sufficient . The economies such as China, India, Japan UK and US have grown tremendously in last few decades.
The most significant factor is considering the power of women population as an effective workforce and contributor in the economy. Mostly in illiterate societies women are considered not capable enough to handle the economics but in reality research proved that they are the strongest economists since their management starts very early from home economics and they handles finance better than men. They are best in budgeting and maintaining customer relationships and resolving queries. Since they are gifted with soft skills and polite nature by mother Nature.
So all men and women are equally an asset to the nation and both can contribute equally in their own capacities in nation building and growing economies the need of the hour is to provide them a platform to show their strength and polish their abilities so that they themselves identify their true potentials and not only work for their own good but also for the betterment of the society and country as a whole.
We must encourage our people to work hard and be loyal to the country and help the state in moving ahead because with the passage of time the competition is getting fierce and to stand in the league we have to be inter dependent and self sufficient in order to win the race.

Need Of Professional Qualification in Practical life

With the fast pace of practical world and changing dynamics of life the present day requirements are becoming tougher and tougher day by day. To make the ends meet everyone has to acquire maximum amount of skills sets, knowledge and experience in today’s world because of extensive competition and varied environment.  Since with globalization the world has shrunk into a global village and the interdependence between countries has grown manifold. This has remarked larger trade alliances, promotion of commerce and transportation and communication has become easier, cheaper and accessible.
To lead a prosperous life and sustain in this present day unpredictable economy one has to equip oneself with professional tool kit. Has to work hard over building and enhancing capabilities required to face the difficulties and manifest the potentials to benchmark and prove oneself. Not only technical skills are enough but also communication and interpersonal skills are mandatory to acquire for better growth and progress in corporate world. One who has command over his /her language and is affluent in speech and has the ability to face the audience and carry the show with enthusiasm and interest and can capture the attention of the listeners can be an effective communicator. He/she is very likely to achieve the organizational objective which is the overall aim. The need is to understand that such skills can be learned through attaining professional qualification.
Professional qualification adds value to ones personality makes him/her able enough to channelize ones energies and potentials to the optimum and it polishes and grooms the person. All you need to do is to get enrolled once in any such professional skill development program and be focused and learn by spreading your wings through collecting as much pearls of wisdom as you can. This training would convert you into diamond, a valuable asset for everyone.
So don’t waste your time sitting and thinking how to pass time just embark into any course, certification, diploma or degree which in any way would be fruitful for you in long run if you can’t see short term benefits. So please go ahead don’t miss chances there are plenty of opportunities available out there choose the one that suits your professional requirement and your nature and believe me you will soon outshine. Please go ahead and be SPARKLING…….

Negotiation Skills

Negotiation is something that we do all the time and is not only used for business purposes. For example, we use it in our social lives perhaps for deciding a time to meet, or where to go on a rainy day.
Negotiation is usually considered as a compromise to settle an argument or issue to benefit ourselves as much as possible.
Communication is always the link that will be used to negotiate the issue/argument whether it is face-to-face, on the telephone or in writing. Remember, negotiation is not always between two people: it can involve several members from two parties.
There are many reasons why you may want to negotiate and there are several ways to approach it. The following is a few things that you may want to consider.
Why Negotiate?
If your reason for negotiation is seen as ‘beating’ the opposition, it is known as ‘Distributive negotiation’. This way, you must be prepared to use persuasive tactics and you may not end up with maximum benefit. This is because your agreement is not being directed to a certain compromise and both parties are looking for a different outcome.
Should you feel your negotiation is much more ‘friendly’ with both parties aiming to reach agreement, it is known as ‘Integrative negotiation’. This way usually brings an outcome where you will both benefit highly.
Negotiation, in a business context, can be used for selling, purchasing, staff (e.g. contracts), borrowing (e.g. loans) and transactions, along with anything else that you feel are applicable for your business.
Planning and How to Negotiate
Before you decide to negotiate, it is a good idea to prepare. What is it exactly that you want to negotiate? Set out your objectives (e.g. I want more time to pay off the loan). You have to take into account how it will benefit the other party by offering some sort of reward or incentive (explained later).
What is involved (money, sales, time, conditions, discounts, terms, etc)? Know your extremes: how much extra can you afford to give to settle an agreement? Although you are not aiming to give out the maximum, it is worth knowing so that you will not go out of your limits.
Know what your opposition is trying to achieve by their negotiation. This is useful information that could be used to your benefit and may well be used to reach a final agreement.
Consider what is valuable to your business, not the costs. You may end up losing something in the negotiation that is more valuable to your business than money. It could be a reliable client or your company reputation.
It is important that you approach the other party directly to make an appointment to negotiate should it be in person, writing or by phone (not through a phone operator, receptionist, assistant etc) as this will allow you to set the agenda in advance, and improve the prospects of the other party preparing sufficiently enough to make a decision on the day. Try to be fairly open about your reason for contact or they may lose interest instantly and not follow up on the appointment. Save all your comments for the actual appointment- don’t give away anything that will give them a chance to prepare too thoroughly: it’s not war, but it is business!
So, it’s time to negotiate and you’ve prepared well. What else must you have? Two things: confidence and power. Your power will come from your ability to influence. For example, you may be the buyer (but not always a strong position), or have something that the other party wants, or you may be able to give an intention to penalize if the other party fails to meet the agreement (as is the way with construction). As briefly mentioned above, you may be able to give a reward or an incentive. For example, you may be selling kitchen knives and as part of the package you are giving a knife sharpener and a storage unit away free as an incentive.
It is always important that you keep the negotiation in your control: this can mean within your price range, your delivery time or your profit margin. If you fail to do so, you will end up on the wrong side of the agreement, and with nothing more out of the deal other than maintaining trading relationships.
When negotiating, aim as high as you feel necessary in order to gain the best deal for yourself. The other party may bring this down but it is a good tactic, as it is always easier to play down than to gain.
Make sure that you remain flexible throughout the negotiation in case the opposition decides to change the direction of the agreement (they may want different incentives or even change their objectives). This is where your preparation comes to good use: knowing your limits and the other party’s needs. If you’re a quick thinker then you’ve got an advantage. You’ll need to turn it around quickly if things start to go against you without putting your objectives at risk.
Confidence comes from knowing your business, your product, what its worth, and being able to communicate this well to the other party: these people are almost impossible to get the better of, as some of you will know only too well.
Coming to an Agreement in Negotiation

Coming to an Agreement
Once you have come to a final agreement, it is important that you have it down in writing along with both parties’ signature: this is not always possible or practical. Before it is signed, or formally ordered, it is wise not to say anything about the terms agreed because your next sentence could break the agreement: the best sales-people never over sell – well, not until they have to!
If it is a sale/purchase that you are making, then officially, it isn’t a sale until you/they have actually ordered the product/service. Usually, this will be an Order Form with a purchase order number. In most other negotiations, one party sending a letter and fax to the other in which the agreement is outlined (to a sufficient degree) will form a legal basis.
If the other party then amends the conditions in the agreement in writing to you, those amended terms then become part of the agreement, UNLESS you disagree in writing, and so on…
We use negotiation in everything we do but you have to be sure that it is done in the best way possible to achieve maximum benefit. The most important part is planning: preparing well will give you an advantage when negotiating.
Only use the knowledge and experience you need to achieve your objective: having the business owner negotiating the supply of pencils is over-kill, and leaves you little room to power-bargain with the same supply company when you want them to supply you with, say, colour photo-copiers.
Have confidence and be sure that you can keep control at all times. Aim highly, but don’t underestimate the opposition. They too may have just read the same advice. If you’re selling something, be persuasive and offer some incentive to keep the customer interested.
Don’t close an agreement until you are happy. This could be difficult if you have been put in a ‘corner’ but this would perhaps be an effect of poor preparation.

5 Ways To Negotiate More Effectively

“What’s your best price?”
“That’s too expensive.”
“Your competitor is selling the same thing for….”
Most salespeople and business owners hear statements like this every day. That means it is important to learn how to negotiate more effectively. Here are five strategies that will help you improve your negotiation skills and drive more dollars to your bottom line:
1) Learn to flinch.
The flinch is one of the oldest negotiation tactics but one of the least used. A flinch is a visible reaction to an offer or price. The objective of this negotiation tactic is to make the other people feel uncomfortable about the offer they presented. Here is an example of how it works.
A supplier quotes a price for a specific service. Flinching means you respond by exclaiming, “You want how much?!?!” You must appear shocked and surprised that they could be bold enough to request that figure. Unless the other person is a well seasoned negotiator, they will respond in one of two ways; a) they will become very uncomfortable and begin to try to rationalize their price, b) they will offer an immediate concession.
2) Recognize that people often ask for more than they expect to get.
This means you need to resist the temptation to automatically reduce your price or offer a discount. I once asked for a hefty discount on a pair of shoes hoping to get half of what I asked for. I was pleasantly surprised when the shop owner agreed to my request.
3) The person with the most information usually does better.
You need to learn as much about the other person’s situation. This is a particularly important negotiation tactic for sales people. Ask your prospect more questions about their purchase. Learn what is important to them as well as their needs and wants. Develop the habit of asking questions such as;
•    “What prompted you to consider a purchase of this nature?”
•    “Who else have you been speaking to?”
•    “What was your experience with…?”
•    “What time frames are you working with?”
•    “What is most important to you about this?”
It is also important to learn as much about your competitors as possible. This will help you defeat possible price objections and prevent someone from using your competitor as leverage.
4) Practice at every opportunity.
Most people hesitate to negotiate because they lack the confidence. Develop this confidence by negotiating more frequently. Ask for discounts from your suppliers. As a consumer, develop the habit of asking for a price break when you buy from a retail store. Here are a few questions or statements you can use to practice your negotiation skills:
•    “You’ll have to do better than that.”
•    “What kind of discount are you offering today?”
•    “That’s too expensive.” Wait for their response afterwards.
•    Learn to flinch.
Be pleasant and persistent but not demanding. Condition yourself to negotiate at every opportunity will help you become more comfortable, confident and successful.
5) Maintain your walk away power.
It is better to walk away from a sale rather than make too large a concession or give a deep discount your product or service. After attending my workshops, salespeople often tell that this negotiation strategy gives them the most leverage when dealing with customers. However, it is particularly challenging to do when you are in the midst of a sales slump or slow sales period. But, remember that there will always be someone to sell to.
Negotiating is a way of life in some cultures. And most people negotiate in some way almost every day. Apply these negotiation strategies and you will notice a difference in your negotiation skills almost immediately.

Leadership Qualities

Leadership is nothing but the quality which makes a person stands out different from other ordinary employees. It is associated with such a person who has aggressiveness in speech and action, love for the employees, and who can handle pressure under different circumstances and a person who is always ready to fight for the rights of employee. A leader is useless without followers. It is the followers who make a person as a leader and if required overthrow him.
Leaders play a critical role during change implementation, the period from the announcement of change through the installation of the change. During this middle period the organization is the most unstable, characterized by confusion, fear, loss of direction, reduced productivity, and lack of clarity about direction and mandate. It can be a period of emotionalism, with employees grieving for what is lost, and initially unable to look to the future.

In addition to forecast and amiability, the characteristics that leader must have are ability to recognize employees’ talents, the know-how to make teams work and an open mind.

Leadership does vary to some extent as per the positions i.e. it may be slight different for manager and different for a union leader but the basic qualities of leadership does not change.

1. Good communication skill
Communication is the key to be a great leader. The reason for this is simple: if he possesses the other nine leadership qualities but if he fails to communicate well, he will never be great leader.

What he can do is communicate with others in the organization about what IT can do to move the company forward. In other words, good communication is the key for developing good business relationships. If he can’t establish a good business working relationship, he is not going to be that leader, that team player. He will not be able to communicate how IT can add long-term value to the company. The modern leaders must therefore be equipped with good communication skill and use new ways to do effective communication.

2. Honesty
The most valuable asset of a leader is honesty. He must be honest with both his employees and the management committee. Another part of his features is integrity. Once a leader compromises his or her integrity, it is lost. That is perhaps the reason integrity is considered the most admirable trait. The leaders therefore must keep it “above all else.”

3. Visionary outlook
Leadership qualities are different for different position. For a CIO he must be thinking for stabilizing the current business and always looking for future scope of expansion. He has to be able to look beyond where we are today, know where the business is going, and be able to use that vision to move the company forward. Being able to do this is a rare skill indeed.

4. Selecting a good team
A good CIO although he possesses sound technical skills he assures that the team he selects is efficient enough to back up any skill he lacks. Choosing the best people for such team is a skill. A CIO after all is a human being and does not have answer for everything. But by working together he creates an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect; the team then always find the best solution.

5.Action speaks louder than words
Managers must be able to put aside their concerns to listen to (and appear to listen to) those around them. As a result, they come know what is going on, and know what is both said, and said between the lines. They have the knack of appearing to know what people need even if those needs are not expressed directly. However, knowing what is going on, and identifying the needs of those around them is not sufficient. The responsive manager also acts upon that knowledge, attempting to help fulfill the needs of employees, superiors, etc. Responsive managers wield influence to solve problems for those around them, often before even being asked.

6. Ability to motivate people around
A good leader must always keep motivating his team mates for good work and should maintain healthy environment. He must give first priority to safety of workers and see that they are not exploited by superiors.

7. Consistency
Leadership effectiveness is impossible without consistency. Every leader has an approach that is unique to them. Don’t change your personal style radically after all; it got you in a leadership position. Modify the rough spots but take care not to confound your staff by displaying inconsistency. Your expectations, though subject to modification based on ever-changing business needs, should remain as constant as possible. The business world is confusing enough without you adding unwelcome surprises into the mix. Keep things simple and consistent.

8. Ability to stand against critics
As the success rate increases your critics multiply and become louder. Come to peace with the fact that you will always have a camp of people who critique every decision you make. They are generally the ones who are excellent problem-identifiers rather than problem-solvers. Develop your skills of repelling such critics so that they do not diminish your confidence or enthusiasm.

It takes focus and confidence not to be adversely affected by criticism. Strong leaders learn the art of listening to critics, but ultimately making decisions for the good of the department, not to simply please the critics. The following quote sums it up nicely: “Some of the most talented people are terrible leaders because they have a crippling need to be loved by everyone.” As rightly stated by James Schorr.

6 Ways To Control Your Fear of Public Speaking

You are standing on stage. The floodlights are bright and all focused on you. There’s nothing else on stage with you except a lectern, a glass of water, and a microphone.

Out beyond the lights over 200 pairs of eyes are all looking at you. And they all have their own individual expectations.

On top of those 200 different expectations, there is your own expectation that you need to excel. And the one way you know if you’ve excelled your expectations is if you see some type of approval from those 200 pairs of eyes out there.

What do you feel? Sweaty palms? A squishy feeling in your abdomen? A little light headed? A dry mouth? Some tenseness in your shoulders and neck?

Welcome to the wonderful world of public speaking.

In all of our training programs we use some form of public speaking to help our participants learn how to think under pressure, handle audiences expectations on the fly, and to enhance their ability to communicate with people in a variety of situations. This means everyone in our training programs has to get up in front of a group and deliver a presentation of some type.

In all instances, everyone that we have worked with has felt the symptoms described above at some point during their training experience and speaking career. It doesn’t matter if they’ve never stood in front of a group before or if they are skilled public speakers. Everyone, including the instructor, has those same feelings from time to time.

It lets you know that you are alive and that you are about to embark on a new experience. It says that you are excited and ready to go.

So how do you turn that public speaking fear and anxiety into enthusiasm and excitement? Here are 6 activities you can perform to turn your next public speaking performance into a masterpiece:
Know Your audience.

You are going to have to do a little bit of research here. In many ways, the public speaker is like a sales person. Your ideas have to be what the audience is ready to hear.

If you are speaking to entertain, you don’t want to stand in front of a group that is looking to expand their knowledge. If you are speaking to a group of manufacturing workers, you don’t want to talk about management issues and solutions.

In order to get the attention of the audience and hold it, you have to talk about what is of interest to them. Do your research up front to determine what type of audience you will be speaking to and tailor your presentation accordingly.
Prepare, Prepare and Prepare Some More.

As with any performance you undertake in your career, you must be ready. Doesn’t matter if you are standing in front of a group of managers preparing to deliver a motivational speech or if you are standing at the starting line of the Boston Marathon. Preparation breeds confidence. And when you are confident in your skills, you can perform to the best of your abilities.

Rehearse your speech in front of a mirror. Record your presentation and listen to it. Listen for vocal inflection. Listen for volume and intensity. And listen for places where you can place emphasis to drive your points home.

How much preparation you need depends on your individual circumstances and skill level. However, here is a rule of thumb I learned when I was a member of Cupertino Toastmasters. For every minute you are speaking, have 45 minutes of preparation under your belt.
Know The Purpose Of Your Speech.

In general, there are four purposes for speaking in front of a group. Those reasons are to convince, to inform, to motivate, and to entertain. While your speech may have a mix of those four reasons, one will stand out more than others.

For example, when a sales person stands in front of a group of decision makers presenting a solution, the main purpose of their speech is to convince the decision makers that this is the right solution to address their challenges.

On the other hand, if you’re a manager speaking to your team on getting a particular project finished on time, your main purpose for speaking to them will be to motivate your team into action.

When you are doing your research on your audience, or if an event planner calls you in to speak to their team, identify the purpose of your speech to insure that you are on target.
Don’t Memorize Your Speech. Know It So Sell, You Own It.

One of the coping tactics I’ve seen with beginning speakers at Toastmasters groups is that they try to recite their speech from memory. The challenge here is that when you memorize the speech, you aren’t free to engage the audience. You are stuck in your head reviewing your presentation.

For the majority of speeches you will deliver, the fate of nations won’t hang on the meaning of every word that you say, so you won’t need a teleprompter. Nor will you need to memorize you speech. Your audience will be looking at your authenticity, your ability to engage them, and your passion for your ideas. You can’t do any of that if you are trying to recite your speech from memory.

Instead, structure your speech around your basic ideas. Practice talking about those ideas until you know them so well that someone can wake you up in the middle of the night and you can still have a coherent discussion about them.

Trying to memorize your speech will only increase your level of anxiety and fear. You’ll constantly be worried that you’ll forget something. Know your presentation. Own it. Deliver it. Live it.
Know More About Your Subject Than You Need To.

Another challenge I often see in first time speakers is that they pick a topic that they know absolutely nothing about and try to give a 5 to 7 minute speech on it.

In one week, they cram 6 hours of prep (remember 45 minutes of prep work for every minute you are in front of the group) in addition to their work during the day, time with their family, eating, sleeping, and general life maintenance tasks. And now they have to include research time for the topic of their choice.

In our programs, we encourage participants to speak for 2 minutes on a topic that they know extremely well, usually themselves and their experiences. When you pick a topic to talk about, chose a topic that you know something about and then enhance your knowledge even more. Develop reserve power for your talk.

This extra information gives you added confidence when you stand in front of the audience and will prove invaluable when you see that the audience needs a point further developed.
Prepare And Rehearse Your Opening And Close.

Yes, we have said that preparation and rehearsal are necessary in public speaking. But you want to pay particular attention to your opening and your close.

As with a sales situation, your opening is the most important piece. That is what grabs your audience’s attention and keeps them engaged. As in a sales call, if you can’t get their attention, then it doesn’t matter what else is in your speech. Your audience isn’t with you.

The second most important piece of your presentation is the close or your call to action. This is the point where you tell your audience what you want them to do or the action you want them to take. Again, like in the sales call, if you get through your presentation and you fail to provide a clear call to action, they will leave your event feeling like something was left on the table, that there is unfinished business.

Rehearse your opening until you know you can get your audience’s attention smoothly and easily, and rehearse your close until you can leave your audience with a definite, succinct and clear call to action.

5 Ways to Improve Organizational Communication

1.  Use Multiple Channels for Organizational Communication – One of the most effective ways to ensure that people get your message is to send it across multiple channels.  Some of the more effective channels include meetings, face-to-face talks, e-mail, faxes, telephone conversations, bulletins, postings, and memos.  The key is to make sure you always employ multiple methods to disseminate your message, and never rely on a single channel.

2.  Make Important Messages Repetitive – In addition to using multiple channels, you can improve organizational communication by repeating important messages from time to time.

3.  Focus on Listening – This is vital during individual (i.e., one-on-one) communication.  The biggest reason that most of us are poor listeners is that we don’t take the time to actively listen.  You can do this by utilizing reflective listening skills (paraphrasing what your speaking partner has said to confirm understanding), using good nonverbal behaviors and body posture (e.g., face your communication partner with an open stance), and focusing on your partner by making a conscious effort to listen first instead of trying to get your message across first.  Do this by saying to yourself, “for the next three minutes, I am only going to listen”.

4.  Get Your Message Across – After you listen and fully understand your communication partner, you must make sure you can get your message across in the exact way it is intended.  To do this, speak openly and honestly, and be as straightforward as possible (i.e., no “beating around the bush”); speak inclusively and use terms that will be understood and respected by a diverse array of individuals; and check for understanding to make sure your message has been received accurately.

5.  Handle Communication Problems – Finally, we must become more effective at managing the communication problems that will inevitably arise during human interaction.  Such problems include conflict, difficulty in resolving problems, misunderstandings, dealing with difficult people and managing cultural differences.  I will address these issues in future posts.

How to Motivate Employees

Make sure you’re setting a good example of productivity and cheerfulness. Don’t let your own moods distract other employees from their work.
Develop your listening skills. This means using active listening to its fullest potential, not just pretending interest.
Be clear about the purpose of the job, and the big picture of the company’s mission and goals. Foster pride in working at that company, whether it is designed to make the world’s best sandwich or build the world’s best bridge. Make sure everyone knows the big picture and where their department and individual jobs fit in.
Don’t let your personal likes and dislikes blind you to who is actually productive on the job. Be fair.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. If you have a good worker who is frequently 10 minutes late, let them know that you expect them to be on time, but don’t belabor the point if their work is otherwise above average. Employees are human beings with strengths and weaknesses, not worker robots.
Set goals and reward the staff when the goals are achieved. The reward can be as simple as a star on the calendar and a bigger reward at the end of the month if there are enough stars for each day.

At the end of year, rewards in the form of certificates can be given.
Be open, friendly, and professional with the staff, they’re your hard workers and deserve to be treated with respect.
Make it an atmosphere where doing a good job is recognized and appreciated.
Encourage communication among people who have to work together. People may feel blocked in and unable to relate to coworkers when they’re hidden in a cubicle. Ask the staff how they would like to see the workspace organized and set up opportunities for people to work collaboratively.
If you have a problem employee, do not avoid the problem. Talk to that person and make sure they know what they’re doing wrong, as well as what they’re doing right. Make a plan and a time chart to correct problem behaviors. If the employee will not or cannot improve after several performance meetings, and it is in your power to do so, terminate their employment. It is very demoralizing to the other staff members to have a fellow employee who isn’t pulling their weight.

5 Ways to Get Out of Startup Mode And Grow Your Business

Entrepreneurs stay in startup mode way too long. Keeping a small business in startup mode requires you to stand on the brake. If you keep telling people you’re “just a startup,” you will never take actions for real growth.

It’s time to move from startup to grown up mode and from planning to doing. In two years, you want to look back at your startup phase as an important part of your thriving business’ history. You want to say,”I remember when I was sitting on my floor packing boxes myself. Now I employ over 100 people.” This is the mindset to move towards and here are five ways to do it:

1. Delegate. When you’re in startup phase, you are handling everything. To become a going concern you have to start investing in people to do tasks you can no longer do. Three quarters of all small businesses have zero employees, which underscores the resistance people have to delegating. You have to grow your business. It is a misnomer to think people cost money. A lack of production and failure to grow your business costs far more.

2. Pick your battles. Don’t get wrapped up for a week deciding on a logo when it ultimately doesn’t matter. Your brand will evolve as your business evolves, so your logo is likely to change. There are more important things to obsess over — gaining customers and making money. When you are hunting big game, don’t swat mosquitoes.

3. Get attention. The single biggest problem every startup has is becoming known. Your most important task is to get attention for you and your company. It’s the gateway to every dollar you raise. Muhammed Ali told the world he was the greatest long before anyone knew him. He got attention and infuriated people. But he proved himself, which turned criticism into world admiration. Get attention. Get critics. Then get admiration.

4. Change your pitch. Instead of saying “I own a small web design company,” say “I own a web design company like none other that guarantees your company increased sales.” Notice the difference? The first makes you seem small and insignificant. It makes no claim. The second makes you seem unique, confident and capable of being a money maker. Know how to pitch yourself and your business. Be ready to quickly explain what your company does that is better, faster and of value to the marketplace. Then, make big claims to the world.

5. Create urgency. If you start a business venture without setting specific timelines for action and achievements, you will be stuck forever with excuses. One of the biggest mistakes I have made in business was not operating with enough urgency. Being an entrepreneur is a marathon activity with lots of sprints. Win a lot of little races and you will provide your people and company with momentum. We recently shot a television show at my office and I told the editing staff that I wanted rough cuts in half the time they thought necessary. Then I called everyday for a progress update. This pressure to perform doesn’t lead to inferior products; it get products to be finished. Urgency is key to getting things done.

Remember: Your vision is not improved by staying in startup mode. It’s time to accelerate and become a going concern that is grabbing market share from the other bigger more established players. It used to be the big who ate the small. Today, it is the fast who eat the slow.

Read more:

How to Improve Website Design

To design a website you must watch your customers from the time they first entered into website till they become customers. You should watch out for the needs and satisfaction of the clients. You must keep track of what are your customers preferences like what pages they want to view , the content they liked to read, this information would be highly helpful to you  for the betterment of website design and growing your business and retaining clients. It’s all about answering right questions in right order.  Enhance your understanding about your current customers and how they went from a visitor to a customer from to map out your strategy.

You are going to find that certain elements on your website are going to detract from the value and message you’re trying to convey. You definitely don’t want to be that one site still using flash. Did you get the memo that it’s 2013?

One think you’ll definitely want to remove from your website is complicated animations. You might be wondering, why? There are a few reasons. It could be causing your website to load at a slower rate than your competitors.

With an audience that only has an attention span of 8 seconds, don’t give them an additional reason to visit your competitors website. Also, most browsers don’t display flash.

Any media or animation should be used to support your content.

The other element you want to limit the use of on across your website is jargon. No one likes that gobbledygook. Those terms will either mean nothing to your visitors or you’ll make them roll their eyes.

Avoid using these words: next generation, flexible, robust, scalable, easy to use, cutting edge, ground breaking, best of breed, mission critical … those are all words that have over used by hundreds if not thousands of companies.

Make it easy for your audience and visitors to follow and share your content. The only way is to include on every page of your website. And by every page I mean your homepage, landing pages, blog articles, and marketing emails.

Once your visitors land on your site do they know what to do next? They won’t know what pages to view or actions to take if you don’t provide them with some sort of direction.

Don’t be afraid to ask your visitors to do something. Add a call-to-action.

Tell them to click here for more information, download our sample GamePlan, request an assessment, watch the video, see all inbound marketing services, see pricing are examples of various actions your visitors can take upon visiting your site.

Not every image is going to fit with the type of message you’re trying to show your audience. This has been said over and over but do not use stock photos.

Not only do they look cheesy but also they don’t portray your audience or the people that work for your company.

Use actual images of your employees and your office. Show them working at their desk or talking on the phone.

Your objective should be to create a good user experience. When designing your website, navigation is key. You might want to identify the stickiness factor of your site. Which is how long a visitor is engaged and interested in your brand’s site.

There’s nothing worse than a site where you cannot find anything. It’s important to ensure that your visitors can easily find what they’re looking for. You know it’s bad when your visitors have to look through your site map.

According to a recent HubSpot survey, 76% say that the most important element in web design is ease in finding information. If they cannot find what they’re looking for, they have no reason to stay on your site. They will find a company that has the information they’re looking for.

Above the fold is old. Don’t be weary of designing a longer homepage. Consider including key sections of your website on your home.

Don’t stick to the traditional and old school brochure website, don’t confine your visitors to a 1200 x 800 px screen.

Consider adding the following elements to your homepage:

  • Value proposition
  • Video
  • Overview of services
  • About us
  • Testimonials / proof
  • Case studies
  • Resources

The theory less is more still holds true. You don’t need to to fill every inch of your site with text or images. Whitespace is an essential design element. That space will help you break up the page . Did you know that when whitespace is used correctly, it actually gives your site a polished look.

Don’t forget about optimizing your site for mobile. Consider implementing a responsive design. An impressive 80.5% of website visitors are accessing websites through mobile phones.

It’s all about tailoring your site to fit the needs and wants of your visitors. You might want to ask yourself, why would someone access my site on mobile? What things would they look for?

When accessing a site on mobile, most visitors are looking for an address, blog, hours of operation, and etc.

It’s all about getting found. Your site should be search friendly. With that point you should develop an SEO strategy that takes into consideration the search terms your audience would search for to find your product or service.

Develop a strategy that includes creating content that’s relevant to the needs of your visitors. Videos, blog articles and ebooks are all forms of content that will drive visitors to your site.


Pros and Cons of Technological Advancement in Communication

Since decades with the advancements in technologies the ways and mediums of communication have changed a lot. In olden times the orthodox means of communication only involved exchange of information through messengers and later with modern age telegraph and telephone came into existence. The advent impacted heavily the lives of people throughout the world.  It completely revolutionalized the way people used to communicate.
With the industrial revolution the way transport and commerce took place a new world emerged. This is called the new world order in which people were replaced with machines. Hence new ways of communication developed far easier and far cheaper.  In modern age the Computer was invented and the whole world indulged into this technological revolution.  From there on there has been a constant flow of information with immense ease and comfort. The invention of internet has taken over almost the whole world now people can communicate with each other without any hassle. Its just a matter of seconds to send a message or your loved ones are just a call away from you which takes time in seconds to connect. The development of wireless devices and social media networking has bring forth  everything available to anyone anytime anywhere. The popularity of cheap smart phones  has enabled every one to benefit from this technological advancement every minute of the second. Social media networking has made online marketing . shopping, relationship building very easy.
On the other hand with this advanced technologies and easier ways of communication people are still going far away from each other. Access is available but the mechanical life style has restricted people to spend time with each other. People are just separated finding no time to even call each other or they are not intended to do so.  Families are getting nuclear and distances are increasing with everyone getting into the race of earning more and more money family values are dying and morality has reached to its lowest ebb.
Hence to conclude technology has benefited the humanity to a great extent no doubt but it has impacted the social life of the people in a very passive way.  People should learn again the lessons of morality and ethics and value relations more than materialistic aspects of life. That’s how we would be able to make the world a much happier, peaceful  and better place for the human beings and other creatures.

Responsive Website Design (RWD)

Responsive Web design (RWD) is a Web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors).
A site designed with RWD adapts the layout to the viewing environment by using fluid, proportion-based grids flexible images and CSS3 media queries an extension of the @media rule.
The fluid grid concept calls for page element sizing to be in relative units like percentages, rather than absolute units like pixels or points, Flexible images are also sized in relative units, so as to prevent them from displaying outside their containing element,Media queries allow the page to use different CSS style rules based on characteristics of the device the site is being displayed on, most commonly the width of the browser.
Server-side components (RESS) in conjunction with client-side ones such as media queries can produce faster-loading sites for access over cellular networks and also deliver richer functionality/usability avoiding some of the pitfalls of device-side-only solutions.
“Mobile first”, unobtrusive JavaScript, and progressive enhancement (strategies for when a new site design is being considered) are related concepts that predated RWD: browsers of basic mobile phones do not understand JavaScript or media queries, so the recommended practice is to create a basic web site, and enhance it for smart phones and PCs—rather than try graceful degradation to make a complex, image-heavy site work on the most basic mobile phones.
Where a web site must support basic mobile devices that lack JavaScript, browser (“user agent”) detection (also called “browser sniffing”), and mobile device detection are two ways of deducing if certain HTML and CSS features are supported (as a basis for progressive enhancement)—however, these methods are not completely reliable unless used in conjunction with a device capabilities database.

For more capable mobile phones and PCs, JavaScript frameworks like Modernizr, jQuery, and jQuery Mobile that can directly test browser support for HTML/CSS features (or identify the device or user agent) are popular. Polyfills can be used to add support for features—e.g. to support media queries (required for RWD), and enhance HTML5 support, on Internet Explorer. Feature detection also might not be completely reliable: some may report that a feature is available, when it is either missing or so poorly implemented that it is effectively nonfunctional.
Luke Wroblewski has summarized some of the RWD and mobile design challenges, and created a catalog of multi-device layout patterns. He suggests that, compared with a simple RWD approach, device experience or RESS (responsive web design with server-side components) approaches can provide a user experience that is better optimized for mobile devices. Server-side “dynamic CSS” implementation of stylesheet languages like Sass or Incentivated’s MML can be part of such an approach by accessing a server based API which handles the device (typically mobile handset) differences in conjunction with a device capabilities database in order to improve usability. RESS is more expensive to develop, requiring more than just client-side logic, and so tends to be reserved for organisations with larger budgets.

Although this challenge has become recently a minor issue, with many of the publishers starting to support responsiveness, one still at least partly existing problem for RWD is that some banner advertisements and videos are not fluid. However search advertising and (banner) display advertising support specific device platform targeting and different advertisement size formats for desktop, smartphone, and basic mobile devices. Different landing page URLs can be used for different platforms, or Ajax can be used to display different advertisement variants on a page.

An alternative to RWD is the method of Adaptive Web Delivery or AWD that is adopted by consumer brands worldwide. Although, it is very similar to Responsive Web Design, with adaptive delivery, the most significant difference is that the server hosting the website detects the devices making requests to it, and uses this information to deliver different batches of HTML and CSS code based on the characteristics of the device that have been detected.

There are now many ways of validating and testing RWD designs, ranging from mobile site validators and mobile emulators to simultaneous testing tools like Adobe Edge Inspect. The Firefox browser and the Chrome console offer responsive design viewport resizing tools, as do third parties.

Cascading Style Sheets

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a style sheet language used for describing the look and formatting of a document written in a markup language. While most often used to style web pages and interfaces written in HTML and XHTML, the language can be applied to any kind of XML document, including plain XML, SVG and XUL.

CSS is designed primarily to enable the separation of document content from document presentation, including elements such as the layout, colors, and fonts.[1] This separation can improve content accessibility, provide more flexibility and control in the specification of presentation characteristics, enable multiple pages to share formatting, and reduce complexity and repetition in the structural content (such as by allowing for tableless web design).

CSS can also allow the same markup page to be presented in different styles for different rendering methods, such as on-screen, in print, by voice (when read out by a speech-based browser or screen reader) and on Braille-based, tactile devices. It can also be used to allow the web page to display differently depending on the screen size or device on which it is being viewed. While the author of a document typically links that document to a CSS file, readers can use a different style sheet, perhaps one on their own computer, to override the one the author has specified.

CSS specifies a priority scheme to determine which style rules apply if more than one rule matches against a particular element. In this so-called cascade, priorities or weights are calculated and assigned to rules, so that the results are predictable.

The CSS specifications are maintained by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Internet media type (MIME type) text/css is registered for use with CSS by RFC 2318 (March 1998), and they also operate a free CSS validation service


For structuring and presenting content  for worldwide web, technology and internet HTML 5 Mark up language is used. It is the fifth revision of the HTML standard (created in 1990 and standardized as HTML 4 as of 1997). Its core aims have been to improve the language with support for the latest multimedia while keeping it easily readable by humans and consistently understood by computers and devices (web browsers, parsers, etc.). HTML5 is intended to subsume not only HTML 4, but also XHTML 1 and DOM Level 2 HTML. Following its immediate predecessors HTML 4.01 and XHTML 1.1, HTML5 is a response to the fact that the HTML and XHTML in common use on the World Wide Web are a mixture of features introduced by various specifications, along with those introduced by software products such as web browsers, those established by common practice, and the many syntax errors in existing web documents
It is also an attempt to define a single markup language that can be written in either HTML or XHTML syntax. It includes detailed processing models to encourage more interoperable implementations; it extends, improves and rationalises the markup available for documents, and introduces markup and application programming interfaces (APIs) for complex web applications. HTML5 is also a potential candidate for cross-platform mobile applications. Many features of HTML5 have been built with the consideration of being able to run on low-powered devices such as smartphones and tablets. In December 2011, research firm Strategy Analytics forecast sales of HTML5 compatible phones would top 1 billion in 2013. In particular, HTML5 adds many new syntactic features. These include the new <video>, <audio> and <canvas> elements, as well as the integration of scalable vector graphics (SVG) content (that replaces the uses of generic <object> tags) and MathML for mathematical formulas. These features are designed to make it easy to include and handle multimedia and graphical content on the web without having to resort to proprietary plugins and APIs. Other new elements, such as <section>, <article>, <header> and <nav>, are designed to enrich the semantic content of documents. New attributes have been introduced for the same purpose, while some elements and attributes have been removed. Some elements, such as <a>, <cite> and <menu> have been changed, redefined or standardized. The APIs and Document Object Model (DOM) are no longer afterthoughts, but are fundamental parts of the HTML5 specification. HTML5 also defines in some detail the required processing for invalid documents so that syntax errors will be treated uniformly by all conforming browsers and other user agents. The Mozilla Foundation and Opera Software presented a position paper at a World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) workshop in June 2004. WHATWG published the First Public Working Draft of the specification on 22 January 2008. Parts of HTML5 have been implemented in browsers despite the whole specification not yet having reached final Recommendation status.
n July 2012, WHATWG and W3C decided on a degree of separation. W3C will continue the HTML5 specification work, focusing on a single definitive standard, which is considered as a “snapshot” by WHATWG. The WHATWG organization will continue its work with HTML5 as a “Living Standard”. The concept of a living standard is that it is never complete and is always being updated and improved. New features can be added but functionality will not be removed. n December 2012, W3C designated HTML5 as a Candidate Recommendation.[26] The criterion for advancement to W3C Recommendation is “two 100% complete and fully interoperable implementations. In September 2012, the W3C proposed a plan to release a stable HTML5 Recommendation by the end of 2014 and an HTML 5.1 specification Recommendation by the end of 2016.

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is a graphics editing program developed and published by Adobe Systems.

Adobe’s 2003 “Creative Suite” rebranding led to Adobe Photoshop 8’s renaming to Adobe Photoshop CS. Thus, Adobe Photoshop CS6 is the 13th major release of Adobe Photoshop. The CS rebranding also resulted in Adobe offering numerous software packages containing multiple Adobe programs for a reduced price. Adobe Photoshop is released in two editions: Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Photoshop Extended, with the Extended having extra 3D image creation, motion graphics editing, and advanced image analysis features. Adobe Photoshop Extended is included in all of Adobe’s Creative Suite offerings except Design Standard, which includes the Adobe Photoshop edition.

Alongside Photoshop and Photoshop Extended, Adobe also publishes Photoshop Elements and Photoshop Lightroom, collectively called “The Adobe Photoshop Family”. In 2008, Adobe released Adobe Photoshop Express, a free web-based image editing tool to edit photos directly on blogs and social networking sites. In 2011, a version was released for the Android operating system and the iOS operating system, followed by a release of a version for Windows 8 in 2013
Photoshop files have default file extension as .PSD, which stands for “Photoshop Document.” A PSD file stores an image with support for most imaging options available in Photoshop. These include layers with masks, transparency, text, alpha channels and spot colors, clipping paths, and duotone settings. This is in contrast to many other file formats (e.g. .JPG or .GIF) that restrict content to provide streamlined, predictable functionality. A PSD file has a maximum height and width of 30,000 pixels, and a length limit of 3 Gigabytes.

Photoshop files sometimes have the file extension .PSB, which stands for “Photoshop Big” (also known as “large document format”). A PSB file extends the PSD file format, increasing the maximum height and width to 300,000 pixels and the length limit to around 4 Exabytes. The dimension limit was apparently chosen arbitrarily by Adobe, not based on computer arithmetic constraints (it is not close to a power of two, as is 30,000) but for ease of software testing. PSD and PSB formats are documented.

Because of Photoshop’s popularity, PSD files are widely used and supported to some extent by most competing software. The .PSD file format can be exported to and from Adobe’s other apps like Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Premiere Pro, and After Effects, to make professional standard DVDs and provide non-linear editing and special effects services, such as backgrounds, textures, and so on, for television, film, and the web. Photoshop’s primary strength is as a pixel-based image editor, unlike vector-based image editors. Photoshop also enables vector graphics editing through its Paths, Pen tools, Shape tools, Shape Layers, Type tools, Import command, and Smart Object functions. These tools and commands are convenient to combine pixel-based and vector-based images in one Photoshop document, because it may not be necessary to use more than one program. To create very complex vector graphics with numerous shapes and colors, it may be easier to use software that was created primarily for that purpose, such as Adobe Illustrator or CorelDRAW. Photoshop’s non-destructive Smart Objects can also import complex vector shapes
Photoshop functionality can be extended by add-on programs called Photoshop plugins (or plug-ins). Adobe creates some plugins, such as Adobe Camera Raw, but third-party companies develop most plugins, according to Adobe’s specifications. Some are free and some are commercial software. Most plugins work with only Photoshop or Photoshop-compatible hosts, but a few can also be run as standalone applications.

There are various types of plugins, such as filter, export, import, selection, color correction, and automation. The most popular plugins are the filter plugins (also known as a 8bf plugins), available under the Filter menu in Photoshop. Filter plugins can either modify the current image or create content. Below are some popular types of plugins, and some well-known companies associated with them:

Color correction plugins (Alien Skin Software, Nik Software, OnOne Software, Topaz Labs Software, The Plugin Site, etc.)
Special effects plugins (Alien Skin Software, Auto FX Software, AV Bros., Flaming Pear Software, etc.)
3D effects plugins (Andromeda Software,Strata, etc.)

Adobe Camera Raw (also known as ACR and Camera Raw) is a special plugin, supplied free by Adobe, used primarily to read and process raw image files so that the resultant images can be processed by Photoshop.[28] It can also be used from within Adobe Bridge.


jQuery is a cross-platform JavaScript library designed to simplify the client-side scripting of HTML. It was released in January 2006 at BarCamp NYC by John Resig. It is currently developed by a team of developers led by Dave Methvin. Used by over 80% of the 10,000 most visited websites, jQuery is the most popular JavaScript library in use today. jQuery is free, open source software, licensed under the MIT License. jQuery’s syntax is designed to make it easier to navigate a document, select DOM elements, create animations, handle events, and develop Ajax applications. jQuery also provides capabilities for developers to create plug-ins on top of the JavaScript library. This enables developers to create abstractions for low-level interaction and animation, advanced effects and high-level, theme-able widgets. The modular approach to the jQuery library allows the creation of powerful dynamic web pages and web applications.
The set of jQuery core features — DOM element selections, traversal and manipulation — enabled by its selector engine (named “Sizzle” from v1.3), created a new “programming style”, fusing algorithms and DOM-data-structures; and influenced the architecture of other JavaScript frameworks like YUI v3 and Dojo.
Microsoft and Nokia bundle jQuery on their platforms. Microsoft includes it with Visual Studio[8] for use within Microsoft’s ASP.NET AJAX framework and ASP.NET MVC Framework while Nokia has integrated it into their Web Run-Time widget development platform.[9] jQuery has also been used in MediaWiki since version 1.16.
jQuery includes the following features:
•    DOM element selections using the multi-browser open source selector engine Sizzle, a spin-off of the jQuery project[11]
•    DOM traversal and modification (including support for CSS 1–3)
•    DOM manipulation based on CSS selectors that uses node elements name and node elements attributes (id and class) as criteria to build selectors
•    Events
•    Effects and animations
•    AJAX
•    JSON parsing
•    Extensibility through plug-ins
•    Utilities – such as user agent information, feature detection
•    Compatibility methods that are natively available in modern browsers but need fall backs for older ones – For example the inArray() and each() functions.
•    Multi-browser (not to be confused with cross-browser) support.
Both version 1.x and 2.x of jQuery support “current-1 versions” (meaning the current stable version of the browser and the version that preceded it) of Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, and Opera. The version 1.x also supports Internet Explorer 6 or higher. However, jQuery version 2.x dropped Internet Explorer 6–8 support (which represents less than 28% of all browsers in use) and can run only with IE 9 or higher.

jQuery is a fast, small, and feature-rich JavaScript library. It makes things like HTML document traversal and manipulation, event handling, animation, and Ajax much simpler with an easy-to-use API that works across a multitude of browsers. With a combination of versatility and extensibility, jQuery has changed the way that millions of people write JavaScript.


An open source rapid development web application development, to be used in formulating PHP websites. “Its goal is to enable [developers] to develop projects much faster than writing code from scratch, by providing a rich set of libraries for commonly needed tasks, as well as a simple interface and logical structure to access these libraries.” It is based on Model-View- Controller-development pattern. The first public version of CodeIgniter was released on February 28, 2006, and the latest stable version 2.1.4 was released July 8, 2013. While view and controller classes are a necessary part of development under CodeIgniter, models are optional.
Codelgnitor is faster, lighter and the least like a framework. It is most prominent software for its speed. CodeIgniter’s source code is maintained at GitHub, and as of the preview version 3.0-dev, is certified open source software licensed with the Open Software License (“OSL”) v. 3.0. Versions of CodeIgniter prior to 3.0 are licensed under a proprietary Apache/BSD-style open source license. On July 9th 2013, EllisLab announced that it is seeking a new owner for its CodeIgniter, stating lack of involvement as a reason. It is not clear whether CodeIgniter will remain the backbone of its ExpressionEngine software.
CodeIgniter is an Application Development Framework – a toolkit – for people who build web sites using PHP. Its goal is to enable you to develop projects much faster than you could if you were writing code from scratch, by providing a rich set of libraries for commonly needed tasks, as well as a simple interface and logical structure to access these libraries. CodeIgniter lets you creatively focus on your project by minimizing the amount of code needed for a given task
CodeIgniter is installed in four steps:
1.    Unzip the package.
2.    Upload the CodeIgniter folders and files to your server. Normally the index.php file will be at your root.
3.    Open the application/config/config.php file with a text editor and set your base URL.
4.    If you intend to use a database, open the application/config/database.php file with a text editor and set your database settings.
If you wish to increase security by hiding the location of your CodeIgniter files you can rename the system folder to something more private. If you do rename it, you must open your main index.php file and set the $system_folder variable at the top of the page with the new name you’ve chosen.

Angular JS

A single-page application in open source java script framework called AngularJS Which initiated and maintained by Google. Its goal is to augment browser-based applications with model–view–controller (MVC) capability, in an effort to make both development and testing easier. It basically works in HTML that contains additional custom tag attributes; it then obeys the directives in those custom attributes, and binds input or output parts of the page to a model represented by standard JavaScript variables. The values of those JavaScript variables can be manually set, or retrieved from static or dynamic JSON resources. AngularJS is built around the belief that declarative programming should be used for building UIs and wiring software components, while imperative programming is excellent for expressing business logic.
The framework adapts and extends traditional HTML to better serve dynamic content through two-way data-binding that allows for the automatic synchronization of models and views. As a result, AngularJS deemphasizes DOM manipulation and improves testability.
Design goals:
•    Decouple DOM manipulation from application logic. This improves the testability of the code.
•    Regard application testing as equal in importance to application writing. Testing difficulty is dramatically affected by the way the code is structured.
•    Decouple the client side of an application from the server side. This allows development work to progress in parallel, and allows for reuse of both sides.
•    Guide developers through the entire journey of building an application: from designing the UI, through writing the business logic, to testing.
Angular follows the MVC pattern of software engineering and encourages loose coupling between presentation, data, and logic components. Using dependency injection, Angular brings traditional server-side services, such as view-dependent controllers, to client-side web applications. Consequently, much of the burden on the backend is reduced, leading to much lighter web applications.
The AngularJS Boot Strapper
There are three phases of the AngularJS boot strapper that occur after the DOM completes loading:
1.    Create a new Injector
2.    Compile service – The Compile service is like compiling in C or C++. It walks the DOM and locates all the directives such as “ng-app”.
3.    Link phase – The link phase attaches all the directives to scope.

5 Top Ways For Search Engine Optimization

Economists regularly use leading indicators — the measurable economic factors that change before the economy as a whole changes — in order to analyze and predict future performance. Lagging indicators, on the other hand, are factors that change after the economy as a whole does.

Since SEO is typically a long-term strategy, clients tend to gauge success based on what would be more of a lagging indicator (i.e., profits). Proving the worth of a campaign on this sole lagging indicator can be inadequate, as profits will only come in after the SEO channel as a whole has changed sufficiently.

Clients can get antsy as they wait for their goals to be reached, and though a link building campaign may be going spectacularly well from an SEO professional’s vantage point, the time it takes for links to mature may be something many non-SEO folk have difficulty fully grasping.

By borrowing the economist’s mindset and identifying a core set of SEO leading indicators, we can better showcase how things are progressing to clients or senior management. This allows small wins to be celebrated or problems to be identified and understood by the client throughout the life of the campaign.

More valuably, these quick reports will build the client’s understanding of the different KPIs we SEO professionals monitor, and will be great for assuaging impatient clients and sparking a very productive dialogue each month.

In addition to being uber-useful, the five SEO leading indicators outlined below are quick and easy to pull together and review. While SEO professionals might be very familiar with some of these, and may review them in depth, the trick here is to boil them down into the bare essentials (i.e., the top-level view that clients can quickly read and easily understand).
1. SEO Visibility (with Competitive Intelligence)

Want to be able to monitor progress over time, not just for your site, but for your competitors as well? What if you could see this data in a single graph with just the push of a button?

Co-founded by the noted SEO analyst Marcus Tober, SearchMetrics is a phenomenal SEO analytics tool that tracks a vast amount of actionable data and presents it in concise and easy-to-read formats.

Use their SEO Visibility report to track the current trend and historical development of a domain’s visibility in search engines. Essentially, the index reflects how often a website shows up in the search results. You can even add in up to four competitors to track against as well.

Why use this as a leading indicator?

Looking at this historical, top-level view of the site’s visibility in the search engines allows for both problems as well as improvements to be quickly identified.

Additionally, comparing the SEO visibility of thematically similar websites or competitors will provide the most value as industry-wide developments will be factored in and market trends easily identified.

It’s also a great way to benchmark the client against their competitors and show how the campaign has been growing.
2. Links Acquired

Showing how content-based outreach or link building efforts have grown the link profile of a company validates the effort put in and can succinctly convey the success of these efforts.

3. Domain Authority


Domain Authority represents Moz’s best prediction about how a website will perform in the search engine rankings. It is a good indicator of trust of the site, quality of the link profile, user behavior and likelihood of a domain ranking higher up in the SERPs.

Note that since domain authority can sometimes fluctuate, it’s not a precise historical measure to use, but snapshots of the score over time can be a good indicator, especially if the score changes by several points

4. Search Traffic

A simple snapshot of organic search traffic trends pulled from Google Analytics provides a useful graph to see how SEO efforts have grown traffic over time.

5. Core Rankings

Often we share with clients large lists of keyword rankings. Especially for clients with very large volumes of keywords to monitor, these reports can get cumbersome and thus ignored far too often. On a twice monthly basis, take the top 10 highest value keywords for the client and run manual rank checks to track progress over time.

7 Ecommerce Design Trends for 2014

As more online retailers seek to provide a good mobile shopping experience, expect to see a significant number of site redesigns in 2014. These redesigned sites are likely to follow many popular design trends that are currently impacting entertainment sites, publishing sites, and mobile applications.

Ecommerce platforms like Magento, Shopify, or even WooCommerce (on WordPress) can have a strong influence on how online shops are designed. This can make it more difficult for online merchants to simply redesign a site to keep up with the latest fad. But in 2014, even those sellers that take an “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” approach to website design may be forced to do some remodeling thanks to the continued growth in mobile Internet traffic. In fact, some predict that in 2014 mobile Internet usage will pass desktop Internet usage, and mobile-based ecommerce might account for 30 percent of Internet retail sales.

Given that ecommerce business are likely to be resigning to support mobile, these sites may also follow other important web design trends.
1. Responsive Design

Mobile is going to be the primary driver for ecommerce web design in 2014, but don’t expect Internet retailers to abandon desktop users. Rather, responsive design, which has already been a trend in ecommerce site design, will to continue to grow in popularity, allowing online sellers to provide a good shopping experience regardless of the device a shopper is using.


As a subset, if you will, of responsive design, you may see more site designers using the CSS Flexible Box Layout Module. This is a proposed World Wide Web Consortium standard that is enjoying relatively good support across browsers, including at least partial support in Chrome 31, Firefox 25, Internet Explorer 10, Safari 7, Opera 18, iOS Safari 7, Android Browser 2.1, Blackberry Browser 10, and IE Mobile 10.

Three resources will help those unfamiliar with the Flexible Box Layout Module. These include CSS-Tricks’ “A Complete Guide to Flexbox,” the Mozilla Developer Network’s “Using CSS Flexible Boxes,” and Philip Walton’s “Solved by Flexbox.”
2. Finger Friendly Interfaces

The focus on mobile and what many call mobile-first site design is also likely to lead to more finger-friendly interfaces in 2014, since on tablets and smartphones most users are interacting with the web page using fingertips or, perhaps, a stylus.

In the context of ecommerce website design there are perhaps two impacts of the trend toward finger friendliness.

First, expect to see fewer content sliders. These sliders have long been popular on websites since they allow merchants to show a lot of information in a relatively small amount of screen space, but they tended to have relatively small next buttons that can make them a bit more difficult to manage on a smartphone.

Next, be on the lookout for larger navigation buttons and links, as site designers try to make it easier for shoppers to browse site hierarchies or click links.
3. Flat Design

Flat design can be seen in the Windows 8 interface, in Apple’s iOS 7, and in dozens of popular websites. This aesthetic tends to avoid drop shadows or similar — focusing on strong colors, and interesting fonts.

This design trend has a few advantages at present. It often leads to simple user interfaces that are relatively easy to make responsive. It tends to use graphics in a way that leads to relatively smaller file sizes and, therefore, faster loading pages, and it can be a differentiator for sites.

Sites like Canopy, which allows users to find and share products available on Amazon, offers a good example of how flat design is likely to be applied in ecommerce site design.



4. More Content on One Page

In 2014, expect to see site designers and developers adding more content to individual pages in at least two ways.

Quick views, which allow shoppers to get additional product information without leaving a product category page, are likely to continue to grow in popularity since that makes it particularly easy for mobile shoppers to learn more about products without having to load additional pages.

Also look for pages to become longer, perhaps, even scrolling “infinitely” like Tumblr or Pinterest.
5. Interesting Fonts

Online typography has been exploding, if you will, in the past few years, and this trend is not going to slow down in 2014.

Expect to see sites using distinctive, brand supporting fonts to convey an online store’s feel. To see examples of typography in action on an ecommerce site, visit Free People, Design by Humans, Afends, or the Yellow Bird Project.

6. Great Big Graphics

This particular trend may seem counterintuitive in the context of mobile Internet use and the overall design to provide a better mobile experience. But it turns out that big graphics really is relative to screen size, and with a bit of good site development, designers can deliver big graphics appropriate for a user’s device.

Relatively larger graphics that link to products, also tend to make for finger-friendly user interfaces, which is another reason this trend will grow.

Sites like Born, Hagger, and Tommy Bahama serve as examples.
7. Video and Other Rich Content

Mobile video consumption is on the rise, more than doubling last year, so it is clear that consumers don’t mind watching videos on tablets or even on smartphones.

In this context, video gives online retailers an excellent medium for providing useful content and detailed product information. Look for more retailers to begin including video or other rich media content in content marketing and in product descriptions.

Enterprise Solutions Introduction

This section provides Enterprise Solutions information and documentation. It currently contains several worthwhile weblinks and a brief guide.
What is an enterprise?

An enterprise is a term for a very large business network. Therefore the phrase “enterprise solutions” refers to business solutions for large corporations which have large networks. I would, however, consider these solutions for various sized organizations due to the enhanced scalability and efficiency of the systems. This term “enterprise” is a very broad term and encompases all aspects of computer technology business solutions including hardware, software and the employees required to implement the requirements of specific organizations. I have had a very difficult time finding a specific definition to the phrase “enterprise solutions”. Therefore I am led to conclude that it is a term coined by marketing personnel to enhance interest in business solutions provided by specialists. This does not make it insignificant. Quite the contrary, as with all corporate operations, the corporation who is most efficient will have the greatest competative edge.


This section talks about enterprise solutions with regard to software and servers (operating system platforms and related servers) to be used in the enterprise (corporation).
Enterprise Solutions

Enterprise Solutions provide for a scalable, easy to manage programming solution to providing business management and information accessability for internal and external clients. Enterprise solutions deal with the problem of providing information to clients both externally and internally. It deals with programming and databases. The main problem being how to most efficiently get our data accessable to those we want to access it. The solution have the following characteristics and more:

Security – Should be able to be sure information is not being stolen by those we don’t want to have access to it.
Scalability – Should be able to accomodate an increase in clients.
Cost – Should be easy to program.
Management – Should provide ability to manage the implementation including version control software and software that helps manage team effort with reguard to providing the solution.
Portable – Should be able to accomodate changes in technology.

Therefore, in order for a business to properly choose an enterprise solutions, a proper requirements definition must be completed. All desired features along with priorities for each feature must be assigned in order to make a suitable decision.
Application Servers

Enterprise solutions for implementing distributed systems generally revolve around an application server which provides several but not necessarily all of the following services:

Directory and naming services
Distributed transactions
Fault tolerance management
Load balancing and clustering
Database services
State Tracking

These services are generally called technical infastructure services. There are many types of application servers that may supply some or all of these functions.

The applications that run on these application servers will receive requests from clients such as web browsers and using API program hooks will request or send information to/from other applications or through the interfaces to the specific service such as a database service. When a reply is received, the client request is responded to by the application.
There are also other areas of functionality that are offered by application servers that make their use easier such as:

Managing and writing applications
Integration with other systems.

To justify an application server the distributed system should require transaction processing across multiple databases.


Digital Marketing Strategy

When electronic devices such as computers, Smart phones, Cell phones, tablets, game consoles , websites , emails , social media network and other cross traditional and digital marketing channels are used to market it is called digital marketing. The digital marketing started in 1990’s but took fold in 2000 and since 2010 it is growing many folds. It has now become the most effective medium of communication between marketers and consumers of today throughout the world. Year 2012-2013 showed remarkable improvement in the field of digital marketing.


Two types of digital marketing exist:  The pull and the push digital marketing. In Pull digital marketing the consumers are themselves actively seeking for marketing content either through web search or opening emails, text messages or web feed. Through websites, blogs, audio/video streaming. All the user has to do is to navigate the website and search engine optimization plays a significant role in this.


In push digital marketing the marketer sends a message without the consent of the recipients, such as display advertising on websites and news blogs. Emails, text messaging and web feeds can also be classed as push digital marketing when the recipient has not given permission to receive the marketing message. In a nut shell, Pull digital marketing is characterized by consumers actively seeking marketing content while Push digital marketing occurs when marketers send messages without the consent of the recipients

Services Offered At TheVisionSpark

The Company aims to capture the clients who are new starters and wants to be the leaders and create brands. Our team of experienced professionals is constantly seeking your way to get hired and manifest our potentials to the optimum. We possess excellent website designers and developers. Programmers, Search engine optimization techniques, e- marketing, e-business, Social media marketing and above all the perfect business solutions.  What you need to do is to just place an order.
Our way to work is highly flexible our environment is dynamic and adaptive. At The VisionSpark the core value lies at the point of considering customers as our first and foremost priority.  Our Client and we do share a common trust that enables us to be technical the market leader.  Not only we assist client in terms of technical expertise but also a huge contribution in social media marketing and business solutions.

We work according to your needs, requirements and desires our work is much customized as per your requirements. This is the main point of bench mark between us and our competitors that stand outs us amongst all.  From the initiation of the project till its finishing we constantly keep intact with your consent and do not deviate from this point of coherence to provide desirable outcomes.  We at                     TheVisionSpark develop simple, interactive, effective interfaces; we work from logo management to interface management.
Services that are offered:
•    Print Media
•    Search Engine Optimization
•    Social Media Marketing
•    Digital Strategy
•    Web Designing
•    Web Development
•    Enterprise Solutions
•    Mobile Applications (iphone . Android)
•    Other Application development
•    Programming
•    Word press development
So what are you waiting for we are just the people whom you are looking for so don’t waste your time wondering just place an order by communication with our technical experts . Simply log on to

Streamus Turns Chrome Into A Fast, Free, YouTube-Powered Spotify Alternative

Use Chrome? Listen to a lot music throughout the day? Check out this extension.

Take a music streaming service like Rdio or Spotify, and boil it down to the absolute basics — searching for songs, adding songs to playlists, and playing said songs. Power it with YouTube’s massive (and sometimes questionably legal) music library. Keep it super fast, and super simple.

That’s Streamus. Streamus is a Chrome extension that has been quietly in development for the past few months, but has just recently started climbing up the charts.

Streamus lets you search for a song and start playing it in all of about 3 seconds. There’s no tab to switch to, and no app to open. Here’s what it looks like:


“Streamus” into Chrome’s Omnibar (read: the fancy name for Chrome’s all-in-one address bar/search box), hit tab (or space), then type the name of the song you’re looking for. Streamus almost instantly returns a dropdown with the YouTube results — just click one, and the audio starts playing immediately in the background, all without taking you away from your current page..

Want more than a one off song? Want to build a big ol’ playlist of tunes to get you through the day? Streamus will do that too. It adds a little button to the navigation area of Chrome, and clicking it opens up a dropdown menu that looks like this:


From there, you’re able to add songs to playlists, save playlists for later listening, or enable a “Radio” mode that tries to find tracks you’ll dig based on the artists you’ve picked so far. There are very few frills, and that’s the way it’s meant to be. There’s no cheesy social networking elements, no “Popular Artists” metrics. You pick songs, it plays songs.

Plus, the developer of the extension seems like a pretty cool guy. He’s been documenting each new build on a little sub-reddit for months now, allowing his users to ask questions about each release — and for that matter, allowing for him to ask questions (like ‘Is bug x effecting you?’) of his users.

Of course, being that it’s totally free and still in an early Beta stage, it’s not without its faults. As it’s all pulled from YouTube’s (largely user-uploaded) music collection, there’s a fair amount of cruft. While I find that the top result is usually the song I’m looking for, that’s not always the case. Some songs are mislabeled. Some are just iffy quality. Sometimes you get a wonky live version of a song that someone recorded on their phone while, judging by the quality, said phone was seemingly placed inside of a jar of jam. But it’s fast, it’s free, and it’s a damned nice way to quickly play that song you’ve had stuck in your head all day.

It’ll be interesting to see how YouTube responds to this if it gets even kind of huge. Streamus only plays the audio from a video, and there’s little-to-no sign that this stuff is being fetched from YouTube once you’ve got the extension installed — so it’s easy to imagine that YouTube might get a bit miffed.

For more information log on to

Google Glass User Detained By Feds Talks About Ordeal

The blog is a sequel to my last blog on google glass and its usage after launching.

While some businesses are banning the high-tech wearable device Google Glass, a theatre owner in Columbus, Ohio, saw enough of a threat to call the Department of Homeland Security. The manager called in unnamed Homeland Security agents to remove a Balkan programmer who was wearing Google Glass connected to his prescription lenses. The agents and mall police interrogated the Glass-wearer for hours.

The programmer has asked that we not reveal his name. “I am trying to limit my ‘celebrity,’” he said. He has special prescription lenses inserted into his device and wears them almost all the time. He is a Balkan immigrant and is working towards citizenship. He graduated from Ohio State University and now works as a network engineer.

According to a report in the Columbus Dispatch by reporter Allison Manning, the 35-year-old Glass-wearer was watching Jack Ryan when someone with a badge sat down next to him and asked him to come outside. In the lobby, he was met by additional agents who questioned him for hours. It wasn’t until they brought in a laptop and USB cable to connect the Glass to a PC that they were finally convinced he wasn’t recording the movie.

“About an hour into the movie, a guy comes near my seat, shoves a badge that had some sort of a shield on it, yanks the Google Glass off my face and says “follow me outside immediately,” he told The Gadgeteer. “It was quite embarrassing and outside of the theater there were about 5-10 cops and mall cops.” The agents accused him of illegally taping the movie with his Glass even though it was off.

Khaalid Walls, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in an email to the Dispatch that ICE Homeland Security Investigations “briefly interviewed a man suspected of using an electronic recording device to record a film.” Interestingly, this department is also responsible for “combatting piracy and counterfeit goods.”

I spoke to the programmer today about his ordeal and how he feels about Glass. He was relieved it all came out fine. For his trouble, the AMC Theater at Easton Town Center offered four free passes to a movie of his choice.

TC: Why do you wear Glass?

Programmer: I wear Glass because I like it. It has so many features and so much potential! For example, there is an app for Glass built to watch you while driving and — if it detects you doze off — to try to wake you up and give you directions to the closest rest stop. I also like Glass because it is based on an open-source system (as opposed to closed-source Windows), and I feel it actually gives users a choice (as opposed to Apple products who I feel have the philosophy of “We’re going to tell you what you like and you will buy it at inflated prices”).

TC: Great. Making friends right off the bat. Do you have any other wearables?

P: I don’t have any other wearables.

TC: Why did you wear it in the movie?

P: I wore it during the movie because I was an ignorant idiot. I seldom use the camera of any device for taking pictures (I have a Cannon 6D I use for pictures), so I didn’t even think about its existence. As a matter of fact, the camera of Glass is the least interesting feature Glass has. I got Glass in November (just after Thanksgiving), and it took me a while until I found somebody to make me a prescription lens for it, but after I got the prescription at the beginning of January, I started wearing Glass all the time as my regular glasses (with enhanced reality feature). As I don’t actively think about pirating movies, it didn’t cross my mind that Glass could be seen as a pirating device.

Also, it wasn’t the first time I wore Glass in that theatre, a week before the incident I was wearing Glass when I saw Saving Mr. Banks, and nobody said anything about it. Even before that I’ve seen another movie wearing Glass with no issues. Plus, AMC employees (among many other people) previously asked me “Wow, man! Is that Google Glass? How is it?” and I would always give them a nice review about what it can do.

TC: So now what? Are you angry? What do you want people to understand about your experience?

P: As any new technology, it is expected people don’t understand it quickly. After reading the story on The Gadgeteer or many other sites that reposted it from there, many have advised me to sue AMC and/or DHS. I am not planning to do that. I would love to have the chance to talk to the management of AMC, Regal and other movie theater chains and show them what Glass is and what it isn’t. As people take their camera phones in the theater and turn them off, people should turn off Glass in the theater should they choose to bring it in. And in time, as this product will be known better, people will freak out less. It’s just a matter of a learning curve.

TC: What did you think when they took you out of the movie?

P: As I was taken out of the theater – the DHS agent had my Glass because he snatched it off my face – I started shaking and I was thinking I should call the police. Outside the theater when they asked me for the first time why was I recording the movie I realized it was a misunderstanding and I wanted to clear it as soon as possible. I unsuccessfully tried for a couple of hours to convince them to connect Glass to a computer or put it on their face and check, and when they finally did so they realized I wasn’t doing anything illegal and let me be and left.

TC: Do you think you were profiled?

P: There was no profiling component. Just overzealous agents thinking they were doing their job. Not only [do] I have an accent, one of the first things I told them trying to reason with them was that I am an immigrant, I have a green card and I don’t want to do anything that could potentially jeopardize my chances of citizenship. Funny they were from ICE and they completely discarded this argument (at the time I was convinced they were FBI – I told them I worked with FBI in the past. I told them the first name of the agent I worked with, and they knew his last name, and that convinced me that when they said they were “federal agents” they meant FBI). When we got to the “interview room” the first two documents I showed them were my driver’s license and my green card. So there is no doubt they knew I was an immigrant.

However, I don’t believe they were profiling. They couldn’t have known I am an immigrant prior to them snatching me.

TC: What’s next for you and Glass? Where do you go from here?

P: Next it’s only more efforts to educate people about technology. I will keep wearing Glass all the time (maybe except at the movies), and as always, if anybody asks me about Glass I would let them try it on and give them a little demonstration on some of the capabilities of Glass. I signed up for Glass but I guess I also signed up for being harassed by authorities that are unfamiliar with the technology. Some hiccups are to be expected with any new advancement.

When I first talked about this, I thought I would accomplish two things: First, Glass users won’t be as ignorant as I was when going to the movies and, second, it would inspire people to educate the authorities more in regards to technology.

Glass users cannot record you without your knowledge even if they would want to. The little prism in front of Glass lights up when Glass is active (and by active I mean showing an email to the user, showing a text, weather forecast or stock prices, taking a picture or a video, or whatever Glass does).

TC: Are you angry?

P: Initially, Monday, I wanted to find out who they were (because I didn’t remember their names in the heat of the event) and write an angry letter to their supervisor but with all this press coverage they might be already in trouble. I don’t want them to lose their jobs, I just want them to think more. So I won’t do anything else.

for more information log on to

Why Silicon Valley Can’t Find Europe

Here is an informative abstract from tech crunch about European IT Industry potential by  Sten TamKivi .

Sten Tamkivi has been a software entrepreneur for 16 years and spent the recent half of his career as an early executive at Skype in Tallinn, Estonia. Sten is now an Entrepreneur in Residence at Andreessen Horowitz. Follow him on his blog and on Twitter @seikatsu.

Go to Europe these days – to Berlin, London, Helsinki – drop in on any of the regional tech confabs and you will quickly see that the European startup scene is in the most bustling, vibrant shape it’s ever been. The potential is everywhere, and the energy is undeniable. Then you return Stateside, in my case to Palo Alto, and Europe isn’t just irrelevant among the tech industry power-set. It has virtually ceased to exist.

That is a mistake. Blame for the ruptured relationship lies on both sides of the Atlantic, but it is Europeans that have the power, and should have the motivation, to mend things.

I’m proud to be Estonian and European, but recently realized that very soon I will have been living in California for 10 percent of my life. I had a front-row seat to the first Internet boom as an exchange student at the super-wired Monta Vista High School in Apple’s backyard. I returned to the U.S. with some frequency initially as an executive with Skype, and later to pursue a business degree at Stanford. My latest perch in Silicon Valley today is as an entrepreneur-in-residence with venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

Let me give you a small taste of the way Europe was woven into the discussion at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Over the course of four quarters I heard one professor make one joke about short-term macroeconomic troubles in Greece. We also had a visit from a well-dressed and charming British banker in our private equity class. That’s it. No European startups, no cases of European success stories or failures. A joke and a banker.

A few isolated examples of systematic bridge building, like the fantastic five-years-running European Entrepreneurship seminar at Stanford’s Engineering school can fulfill targeted curiosity, but Europe is not visible as a theme in other classes across the curriculum.

Important Places

I’m not blaming Stanford. In talking to many people about my growing realization that the place of my birth simply didn’t matter to most people in the Valley, I began to understand that there is a mental hierarchy of “important places” for people building, investing in and studying tech companies in Silicon Valley. They exist in the following order:

1. Silicon Valley. Practically considered, the opportunity cost of venturing out of the bustling 30-mile radius of Sand Hill Road, whether you are an entrepreneur, investor or academic, is usually just too high.

2. The U.S. East Coast. Yes, stuff is happening in Boston and New York, but not so much that a once-a-month trip can’t cover most of it.

3. China. Massive tech companies do rise in China and go public in the United States, and Chinese investors have gobs of cash to invest in the Valley. There is a constant back and forth between both Pacific coasts. But it’s not just geography, and the historic manufacturing relationship that is stimulating this cozy dynamic. The Valley is looking more and more towards China for the next tech trends and expansion opportunities.

4. The rest of Asia. India’s diaspora links to the U.S. are strong. Southeast Asia’s growth is hard to miss, and there is interesting mobile stuff happening in Korea and Japan.

5. Latin America/South America. Markets in Mexico and Brazil are increasingly ripe for Silicon Valley tech, but the region is still a distant gleam for most companies.

6. Europe. Here is what I mostly hear about Europe: “I took my wife/husband to Paris last year for our anniversary, and we dropped by Rome. Great food, so much history, Europe is wonderful!” For vacation.

Rather than relying solely on my anecdotal examples of “important places,” I turned to LinkedIn. Mapping my network through the lens of the topic at hand, I can confirm that, while Estonia, the Nordics and Europe in general comprise a tightly knit blue blob, and Skype in Estonia (orange) and internationally (green) is an organism in itself, the Silicon Valley venture capital and serial entrepreneurship circles float as a distant burgundy cloud. And the international graduate student and teacher body of Stanford is even further out on the right.


Those familiar with Granovetter’s theory about the strength of weak ties should feel a wave of joy here. Sure, there are benefits of weak ties, but then again, there are virtues to tight-knit communities talking to each other frequently, sharing the successes and learning from each other’s mistakes.

And that is exactly what is missing between the U.S. and Europe — a real bridge. So how do we build one, and what can both partners in constructing this connection hope to gain?

Let’s start with Europe.

Why the Hell Are You in Silicon Valley? And Don’t Say It’s the Money

Raising money tends to be the No. 1 rationale from founders when asked why they’re in the Valley. It’s also the No. 1 mistake people make. You will be far more successful raising seed and early-stage VC financing close to home, on whichever side of the Atlantic it may be.

Yes, the internationalization of the venture capital industry is well on its way, and one can draw quite pretty graphs of the increasing money flow across the globe. Bollocks. Here’s why you, European entrepreneur, aren’t going to get that money.

Looking at closed early-stage deals listings in Pitchbook, it is very clear that U.S.-based VCs invest in U.S. companies, and European VCs invest in Europe.


Those familiar with Granovetter’s theory about the strength of weak ties In my experience, this mindset applies to institutional investors in a clearly structured way, but is a notable behavior even for private angels in AngelList. Investors believe that there is much more that they bring to the table than just money – but that ineffable “value” is hard to bring across long distances and multiple time zones. No matter how much the video calling has improved, board seats, hiring networks, corporate development efforts and just quick (unscheduled!) calls work much better in proximity. Raise your money at home.

Part of building a solid bridge with the U.S. is having a solid reason for being here, other than money. Selfies at Infinite Loop Drive and group pictures in front of Facebook and Google headquarters don’t count.

One good reason for touching down at SFO might be that it’s because the companies that matter in your space – the ones you want to compete with, learn from, partner with or steal bored employees from – are in Silicon Valley. Ditto for customers.

That said, you need to honestly evaluate decamping from Europe against your own personal strengths and networks. I am in the thick of things on Sand Hill Road. Yet that relative advantage doesn’t change the fact that I have been building software companies for 16 years in Estonia and worked mostly with teams around Scandinavia and in Prague or London. This is where the best engineers I know are. This is the core of my network. This is my actual unfair home-court advantage.

If anything makes me stay Stateside, it must far outweigh the strongholds I’m leaving behind. That applies to every European (indeed everyone wherever they are from) pondering a move to Silicon Valley.

Why Silicon Valley Should Love Europe Back

So if exchanging money for equity isn’t the way to create tighter bonds between Europe and the Valley, the question becomes: how can we build more non-financial ties between our scenes?

When building high-value ties in any network, the question should never be what you get, but rather what can you give to the other party? What can you help with? What can you teach? What can you spare? This tends to be true with your friends, your community, and your country –  and how you ought to think about transatlantic relationships.

If we Europeans can muster the confidence, and the U.S. can tone down its arrogance, Europe actually has a lot to give to Silicon Valley. Here are just a few examples.

Talent. Silicon Valley’s weakest spot today is finding enough good engineers and designers. The European contribution here in the simplest case is talent. The next level of complexity, but more sustainable for both sides, are development outposts across the pond. This could also take the form of M&A targets that Europe could offer – something that Meg Whitman in her eBay CEO days used to call “off-balance-sheet R&D” when buying up another innovative marketplace team in the Netherlands or Sweden.

What about making this a two-way street, and providing interesting-timed job adventures for early-career Valley experts? Why be the 3,481st guy in Facebook, when during a three-year stint in a cool European city you can be No.1 in the entire country in what you do? Yes, moving American hotshots to Europe can be a tough sell, but we did it successfully at Skype, and companies like Soundcloud are doing it again.

Sharing new models. For any European who has spent an extended time here, Silicon Valley can often feel surprisingly backwards. When it comes to online and mobile applications truly embedded in how people go about their daily chores, how they sign and exchange legal documents, how they interact with the government, how they do their consumer banking, how they receive services from their doctors and so forth, many places in Europe are light years ahead of what is widely available in the U.S. We can share those ideas and expertise.

400 million customers. For most successful entrepreneurial ventures, there comes a day when growth needs to be found outside of the home market. And no matter how much the mobile handset makers talk about the next billion people coming online in Africa, and how lucrative the already-online billions of users in Asia are, the most common scenario for the Groupons and Airbnbs and Ubers of the foreseeable future is still to figure out their expansion strategy for the U.K., Germany and France.

Europe is still the rational next market for most U.S. rocket ships who are looking to find customers with above-average incomes and access to credit cards who live on infrastructure you can deliver your products and services to. Who better to help U.S. entrepreneurs crack Europe than Europeans?

Global skills. The value of understanding foreign markets does not stop with Europe, though. Far too much of U.S.-originated innovation is born in the form of English-language, iOS-only apps with hard-coded dollar signs. European entrepreneurs, especially those from the smallest countries, are much better trained at operating globally in multi-currency, multi-cultural markets. As a proof point, look at how the likes of Finnish Rovio (Angry Birds) and Supercell (Clash of Clans) or Skypers in London or Tallinn and Evernoters in Zürich or Moscow have conquered the astonishingly tough Chinese and Japanese markets.

Security and privacy. In the post-Snowden days we’re living in, there is a new set of questions around the physical and legal location of users’ data and the regulations governing its privacy. Although the rules and behaviors driving this have been evolving in a U.S.-centric way thanks to U.S.-based Internet giants, if you look at where the users of the Internet live today, less than 10 percent of them are in the United States. And that share is declining.

It is obvious that nations other than the U.S. will have an increasing say in the governance mechanisms and regulation of the system with Europe at the forefront. And this is not just a government thing. The European tech scene can help its U.S. peers figure things out as private entities first.

If we Europeans can follow through with an approach of giving something unique and valuable, as opposed to just trying to get funding from the other side, I believe the European and Silicon Valley tech scenes have a shot at moving closer together. For U.S. players, this would presume paying a little bit more attention to the world outside. For Europeans, it’s mustering a bit more confidence in ourselves.

I am sure more non-financial bridges can be built. And as it has been shown by some VC investment-related research: Cold hard cash will eventually follow the international corridors where smart people are already on the move.

for more information log on to

Editing Tips For Business Web Content

The Web is awash in content. A recent Moz article reports that 92,000 new articles are posted online every day. Companies are spending billions on content marketing to enhance credibility, build brand awareness and, especially of late, improve SEO.

Here is what Google has to say about content in its quality guidelines:

Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
Don’t deceive your users.
Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.

Google has always tried to reward great content with high rankings, but today, thanks to vast improvements in its algorithm, Google is better able to actually do it. Its content quality guidelines are perfectly aligned with what every writer and marketer should aspire to.
As A Designer, Why Should You Care About Content Quality?

Your brilliant designs will be wasted if they are filled with inferior content.
By developing the ability to evaluate content quality, you are able to provide constructive, difference-making input to other members of the creative team, increasing your value as a designer.
If you are in a project management role, you must know what needs to be fixed, improved and enhanced in the deliverable’s content.
Unless the content meets a high standard of quality, the finished product will undermine rather than enhance credibility, diminish rather than build brand awareness, and damage rather than improve search engine visibility.

Defining “quality content” is difficult. A useful approach is to look at the editing process, because editing is where content theory is translated into cold hard facts. You could argue forever with clients about what constitutes quality content on a theoretical level. But when you break down quality into its specific editorial components, theoretical arguments evaporate.

A sound editing process forces quality into content, no matter how ill-conceived or weakly written the content was in the beginning, assuming it was properly conceived and at least decently written to begin with.


How Can I Get Copy Approved More Quickly?

Too much editing can be just as bad as not enough — some firms review and tweak for so long that the content is outdated by the time they approve it. The substantive editor or project manager is the best defence against perfectionism. They are best equipped to recognize when content should be deemed finished and to explain why to clients and team members.
How Much Editing Should the Writer Do?

I would love to hear from the Smashing Magazine community on this one, because it’s a thorny issue. Even writers with a firm grasp of grammar, style and technique submit substandard drafts due to time constraints or lack of familiarity with the subject matter. Competent writers learn as they go, reducing the editorial burden. For example, if a website project requires 60 pages of new content, have the writer start with 10 pages and then give them a careful copyedit and substantive edit. The edits may be numerous at this point, especially if the writer is new to the subject matter. If the next 10 pages come back vastly improved, then you’ll know the writer is catching on.
What If My Client Doesn’t Care About Editing?

Clients might not care about content editing as such, but they certainly care about public image, leads and orders. High-quality content impresses Google, which leads to more search engine visibility, which leads to more traffic and more business. High-quality content also reassures prospects, customers and stakeholders that the company is reliable and competent.
What’s the Best Way to Manage the Editing Process?

One person, generally the project manager or substantive editor, should coordinate all editorial functions and communication and make final decisions. Creative teams have many editing tools at their disposal, but using good old Track Changes and Comments in Word documents is perhaps the easiest way to start. A big challenge is preventing multiple versions of an in-process document from floating around; implement a clear procedure to avoid this. In my experience, the competence of the manager, rather than the tools, will determine the efficiency of the process.
Common Editing Issues

Let’s look at a few specific real-world issues that crop up in business Web copy for each type of editing. These particulars will give you an idea of what to look for if you are doing the editing or looking for an editor or managing the project.
Substantive Editing Issues

Here is an instructive, real-life example of how substantive editing produces clarity. In a recent article about writing for slide presentations, I wrote, “Slide presentations are great for a ‘peeling the onion’ narrative approach.” My editor commented, “What does that mean?” I pondered the issue and realized that I didn’t really know what I meant! After further reflection, I changed it to, “Slide presentations are ideal for storytelling.” Moral of the story: Substantive editors don’t always need to make sweeping changes. Often, just knowing what to look for helps to get it right.
Keeping content on point prevents content creep. Substantive editors remind clients that a landing page need not be a thousand words long to prompt a conversion, nor a website a thousand pages deep to convey the firm’s value proposition.
Substantive editors police all content to maintain consistency of brand messaging.
The company’s branding and positioning strategy, the value proposition of the product and service being marketed and the nature of the target audience will determine the content’s style and tone. The substantive editor must be crystal clear on all of them.
Building on the last point, a substantive editor — if time, budget and skill allow — injects personality into flat business content by adding storytelling narratives and stylistic flair that speak powerfully to the target audience.

An SEO editor might opt to add links to the client’s other relevant content on a given page of Web content or a blog post. If done correctly, these related links build the authority of the client’s website.

Proofreading Issues

One space after a period is standard.
Capitalization in headlines and headings should consistently follow a predetermined style.
Font size and style should be consistent for text and headers from page to page.

In Conclusion, How Much Editing Is Enough?

Practical considerations such as deadlines and bandwidth, along with a clear understanding of the audience, will influence how thoroughly a piece of online content should be edited.

Generally speaking, readers do not hold blog posts to the same stylistic standard as, say, white papers. However, a blog post directed at an audience of scholars, physicians or attorneys will be held to a higher standard.

Visual content such as infographics and slide presentations, perhaps because of their formality, seem to carry more weight with readers than blog posts and website pages. For this reason, producers of visual content have a greater obligation to be sure of their facts, all else being equal. Firms undermine their credibility when they publish graphical material loaded with unsupported or misleading facts, whether intentionally or not.

If a firm has an organized SEO marketing program, then on-page SEO is crucial. If not, on-page optimization alone would probably not be enough to have any substantive impact on search visibility.
Copyediting and Substantive Editing

As for these, there is never any advantage to publishing vague, incoherent and uninspiring material. Some level of review is really a must. If resources are limited, and often they are, use this editing tactic: When in doubt, leave it out.

for more information log on to

Bill Gates Is Not The Next CEO Of Microsoft, But His VC Investments Are Picking Up

Bill Gates may be one of the world’s most famous philanthropists, entrepreneurs, and guest editors,  but could he be adding venture capitalist to the list? Over the past few years it seems that Gates has, in fact, been increasing his investment in startups.

Though not as active in venture capital as other, less-billionaire-y, technology billionaires, Gates is nonetheless putting together a growing stable of technology companies. And the pace of his investment is steadily increasing, according to the data in CrunchBase.

Last year, Gates was involved in at least six new and follow-on investments in venture-backed companies, including a commitment to the energy storage technology developer Aquion, in a financing which wrapped up earlier this year. That’s up from four new and follow-on commitments in 2012, and three in 2011, the CrunchBase data indicated.

In addition to Aquion, the Gates portfolio also includes other companies tackling the energy problem, like the compressed air energy storage company, LightSail Energy, and the battery technology developer Ambri. And those aren’t Gates’ only sustainable investments.

Varentec, an electricity monitoring and management technology developer, is another cleantech pony in the Gates stable. Even more ambitiously, Gates is backing TerraPower, the nuclear reactor developer spun out from Intellectual Ventures, alongside former Microsoft Chief Technology Officer and Intellectual Ventures founder and chief executive, Nathan Myrhvold.

Intellectual Ventures is behind two other Gates investments. Both Evolv Technologies and Kymeta came from Myrhvold’s IP monetization factory.

Rounding out some of the newest investments in the portfolio of the man from Medina, Wash. are three healthcare investments focused on computational drug design and targeted cancer therapies: Nimbus Discovery and its development partner Schrodinger Inc. are both focused on computational drug design, while Foundation Medicine develops diagnostic tests based on gene sequencing to identify personalized cancer therapies for patients.

All of these investments hew pretty closely with some of Gates’ expressed goals of improving healthcare, or reducing carbon emissions in an effort to combat the effects of global warming, but he’s also an investor in NEOS GeoSolutions, a company which sells technology and services to improve the operations of oil and gas and mining companies.

Needless to say, Bill Gates did not respond to a request for comment for this post.

for more information log on to

After A Troubled 2013, The PC Market Looks For Stability

Today Gartner released a preliminary set of results for the global PC market in the fourth quarter of 2013, indicating that PC sales fell 6.9% to 82.6 million units.

2013 has certainly been a historically tough year for PCs and the industry that builds and sells them. Gartner, with its fourth quarter predictions now mostly in place, estimates that the PC market shrank 10% during the year. Total unit volume was 315.9 million units, a level that The Next Web points out is equivalent to shipments in 2009.

I think that we can cap 2013′s PC market with a few statements. Let’s begin:

The PC market had a very difficult year, shrinking around 10%.
That 10% figure is directly in tune with predictions.
With 315.9 million units shipped in the year, the PC market remains massive.
That fact will keep Microsoft’s Windows operating system relevant, even as it sorts out remaining difficulties — developer interest gap, app deficit, training the world on a new UI, etc — with its new Windows 8.x platform.
The folks that correctly predicted the 2013 PC unit volume decline anticipate that the market will contract less in 2014, and stabilize thereafter.

That last point is not news. The prediction (IDC, not Gartner if you were curious) expects a 3.8% contraction in 2014, and then for the pace of sales to become “slightly positive in the longer term.” All told this means that the PC market should manage to stay above 300 million units per year for the forseeable future.

Oh no, the world is ending.

I’ve been as guilty as most in using hyperbolic language to describe the PC market. Plummeting, decimating, falling, crashing and the like have been the lingua franca of reporting on the year’s results. But historic declines can be accidentally conflated with existential threat if we are not careful.

I think that in retrospect, 2013 will remain a decidedly black eye on the PC market’s history. But provided that the folks counting boxes have it right, the swan dive (I did it again) is all but in the pool.

Why was 2013 such a bad year for PCs? You could point to a weak economy, issues regarding Windows 8 and its market reception, unimaginative new PCs from OEMs, rising tablet demand, a general shift to mobile, and a host of other reasons. There is no single cause. But it’s worth noting that what likely merged to create the turbulent confluence that so retarded PC sales is in decline itself. The economy is better, PC design is better, Windows 8.1 is better, and so forth.

A 3.8% decline this year for PCs would certainly not be a win. But anything less than a 5% decline I think supports the prediction that the decline in PC sales is slowing, and could end altogether.

I don’t quite know how to phrase this, but once the PC market stops shrinking (again, we’re leaning on trends and predictions), the idea of a post-PC world itself ends. In fact, we need a new term. Call it the co-PC world, in which tablets and smartphones are equal in weight and importance to the PC.

As I’ve written before, there is a muddle afoot in all of this. Operating systems are breaking down their own walls and spreading tentacles across device classes. This means that if we compare the traditional PC market to tablets, say, we are pitting one group of Windows devices against another. That won’t do, obviously, for comparison’s sake.

And, as other operating systems — Android, in this case — move up the device size chart (from phone, to tablet, to PC) we are going to have a more diverse PC market in general, further undercutting its performance as indicative of the health of WinTel, as we have for so long deemed it.

So, fuck 2013 is what I’m saying, from the PC market’s perspective. It was awful. But shrinking 10% from massive scale still leaves massive scale.

We need to keep close eyes on continuing declines in PC sales, but inside the next 8 quarters we could see a positive year-over-year period for PC sales. Something to think about

for more information log on to

Yahoo Girds Its Loins For The Battle Over Your Home Screen

The home screen as it stands cannot last. In reality, what we’re looking at is the end times for the traditional grid of icons that we’ve become so familiar with since the iPhone was introduced in 2007.

There is simply too much context available via the sensors, camera, radios and other inputs we carry around in our pockets not to take advantage of it.

The icon grid design was used in many early smartphones running Palm and Symbian and Windows Mobile. But the iPhone really launched that design into the public consciousness and then Google cemented it with the launch of the first touch screen Android device. I’m not here to argue about firsts, but Apple was essentially responsible for making the grid the ‘standard’ in the eyes of a lot of people — both iPhone users and people who picked up other smartphones running on other operating systems.

But, seven years later, the choices made by Apple to honor the grid demand re-examination. The thought process is relatively simple to disassemble. The grid had been used by other smartphone makers and even Apple’s Newton. It was simple, easy to understand and friendly to people who were being introduced to multitouch — which was for most people a brand new way to interact with touch screens. This was the same process which led it to utilize real-world allegories like bookshelves, page curls and ‘buttony’ buttons.

But that home screen belongs to a bygone era. We’re acclimated now and any new users of smartphones have the collective installed user base to help them along.

Now is the time that the home screen begins to take advantage of the thing that we’re going to be hearing an absolute junk ton about in 2014: context.

I have a ton more thoughts about why 2014 will be the ‘year of context’ for mobile software and hardware, but for our purposes it’s enough to point at a few recent trends. Among those are Google Now, Apple’s ‘Today’ section in Notification Center, Facebook Home, Cyanogen Mod and home screen customization companies like and, yes, Aviate.

These various products are all efforts to leverage the contextual signals that our mobile sensor platforms are able to collect and transmit. Where we are, who we are, what our intent is, what our environment looks and sounds like and what we do when we’re there. That context can be used to customize the way that our devices look, feel and work based on our own personal signals.

At this point, a home screen that customizes itself to you, personally, feels as inevitable as a well-worn pair of shoes.

TechCrunch columnist MG Siegler noted a symptom of this recently. The ‘first app you open’ in the morning is becoming more important real-estate than your home screen. In reality the first app you open when you turn on your iPhone is ’springboard’, the home screen. But up to this point it has remained relatively static, with only a couple of minor nods to active icons like the clock and calendar.

Android home screens have always been more malleable, allowing for personalization and customization on a deeper level. Which is why some people really like Android.

But this isn’t just about customization, it’s about reaction and organization on a contextual basis. Which brings us back to Yahoo’s recent acquisition, Aviate.

Aviate is a home screen replacement for Android that interprets signals from you, the user, to present you with the apps, content and alerts you want right when you need them or even before. It groups apps into automated collections. This makes the home screen simple and clean.

It also has elements of app discovery, says Aviate’s Mark Daiss. Aviate will look at the apps that you have and use the most and suggest more like it. The goal for the first run at Aviate was to cover roughly ’80%’ of a user’s day, says Daiss. That includes the major components like getting up, traveling, working and going to bed. From here on out it will be about fleshing out the moments in between.

Daiss credits Facebook Home for creating an awareness of what a launcher was and how a customized home screen could change the experience. Despite the fact that Home didn’t exactly turn out well, Daiss notes that other efforts like GoLauncher have seen success, with that offering currently clocking in at over 100 million installs on Google Play.

One of the reasons I believe Facebook Home’s initial try failed was that it was too insular. Even the most dedicated Facebook user needs more than just one network’s worth of information. That’s why I was curious about Yahoo’s plans for Aviate.
Yahoo SVP of Mobile and Emerging Products Adam Cahan says that the company isn’t interested in turning Aviate into some sort of ‘all Yahoo apps’ portal. For now, it will expand the beta program and get more users checking it out. “Think of this as an extension of [Yahoo] Search,” Cahan says. 6.Location

The extension of search metaphor is an apt one, as contextually aware home screens will be all about using anticipatory ‘searching’ through our apps, habits and use cases to provide us with better experiences. Aviate will now be able to tap deeply into Yahoo data like search, weather, maps and more to inform contextual experiences. But, Daiss is careful to note, Aviate will still choose the best, most definitive data source possible — even if that’s not from Yahoo. With the best data comes the best experiences.

Daiss lays down the core components of what he feels a contextual computing experience are. First, it needs the right input signals, then it needs the information that’s pertinent to the situation and then it has to provide the right user experience.

Part of what they’ve discovered at Aviate is that this experience often involves offering information and context from inside the apps right out on the home screen. But this isn’t a one-shot widget, this is a continuously personalized experience.

One of Aviate’s more popular features is a ‘swipe down’ screen that can offer you context from inside various apps at any given moment. Swipe down at a restaurant and you might get information about what’s good to eat there from Foursquare or Yelp. Swipe down at home and you’ll get alarm settings, a do not disturb toggle and a schedule of meetings.

If you’re an iOS user and this is sounding familiar, yes, this is why Apple acquired Cue. Because its swipe down ‘today’ section has the seeds of this kind of contextual computing, but it needs a lot of water and care to grow. Control Center and Notification Center need to grow up, quickly. (It’s also, I feel, one of the major reasons Apple changed its design so drastically with iOS 7 — it needed a more flexible framework to build within.)

Aviate and other intent-based home screens are champing at the bit to offer people a better experience. And Google Now has an immense amount of head start simply by virtue of the enormous amount of data it has from its users.

Unfortunately, once you start talking about how much these intent-based systems know about us and can anticipate our needs, the spectre of the NSA and government spying programs rears its head. Yahoo, Google and Apple were all targeted for data collection and that’s unlikely to go away. There are some incredibly complex and sticky moral quandaries headed our way with this new contex-heavy world, but that’s probably a discussion best handled in a focused chat about the trend.

For now, we have Yahoo acquiring Aviate in order to make sure that it has a hand in this new world of context-based software. It has the resources to juice the back end with user data, and it’s going to be a big platform for Aviate as a (relatively) agnostic prototype of the custom home screen. And if it’s turning and burning as much as it appears to be on mobile, Yahoo is very interested in how this battle for the home screen turns out.

What’s intriguing about this is that it’s very much a ‘technology company’ move. So much of the confusion about Yahoo and its new direction — I feel — has been rooted in the inability by some to come to grips with the fact that Yahoo’s new CEO Marissa Mayer is comfortable thinking of the company as both, and so are her new lieutenants. Yahoo has an enormous amount to prove still. No amount of hot young talent Botox is going to magically turn the company around.

But I don’t find the company’s investments in technology confusing

for more information log on to

How To Create An Embeddable Content Plugin For WordPress

Share WordPress content via widgets.
Ways Of Sharing Content

There are various ways with which one can share content across websites — RSS and Atom feeds, APIs and embeddable widgets. RSS feeds on WordPress are usually restricted to posts, while APIs are not easy to integrate on other websites without adding some extra code. This leaves us with embeddable widgets — like the ones used by Google AdSense to display advertisements on websites or Facebook “Share” and “Like” buttons — all of these rely on embeddable JavaScript code to display specific content on a website. The idea mentioned in this article is certainly not new, but in the context of WordPress it opens up many possibilities. The advantages of the technique mentioned here compared with others is that it will enable you to share almost any content, even content from other plugins on your blog, with other websites.

Our goal in this article is to create widget code that a user could insert in their website to display a list of recent posts from the parent website. Of course, this can also be easily accomplished using RSS, but this is just an example to show the technique. In reality, you would use it for more interesting purposes, like sharing popular product images if you are running a WordPress e-commerce website.
The Widget Code

The embeddable code will look something like the following. This is the code the user will insert into their webpage, which will allow them to display the content from the parent website. The crucial element of this widget is the wp-widget.js file, which calls the remote WordPress website, gets the content and embeds it as an iframe in the calling page.

<script type=”text/javascript”>
var widget_embed = ‘posts’;
<script src=””
<div id=”embed-widget-container”></div>

Adding this block of code to any website page will display the list of recent posts from The content can be anything besides posts — images, comments, tags, data from other plugins — anything you as a WordPress website owner would like to share with other people. For this example, I’ve limited the content to a simple posts list, as this is a common denominator across all WordPress websites and will be easy to start with. Of course, you will need to add some extra code to share other content, but the base plugin skeleton will remain the same.
Creating The Plugin

The fist step in creating an embeddable widget is to design a small WordPress plugin that will intercept the widget calls from another website and return the required data. You may be thinking that this will be a knotty job, but nothing could be easier. Just a few lines of code and our plugin is ready. The complete code for the plugin is shown below. I’ll explain how this works as we proceed along.

To get the content from the plugin, we will need to pass a query parameter of what content we would like from the remote server in the em_embed variable. This query parameter will then be intercepted by the plugin and the corresponding content returned. We will also pass along implicitly the domain URL of the calling page, so we can later use it for analytics purposes or for restricting the websites which can embed our widget.

For example, to get the list of recent posts, we need to send a GET query to the main WordPress website as shown below. Of course this query will be created by our JavaScript widget, wp-widget.js.

The complete code for the plugin is given below.


* Plugin Name: WordPress Widget Embed
* Description: Allow people to embed WordPress content in an iframe on other websites
* Version: 1.0
* Author: Sameer Borate
* Author URI:

class WPWidgetEmbed
public function __construct()
add_action(‘template_redirect’, array($this, ‘catch_widget_query’));
add_action(‘init’, array($this, ‘widget_add_vars’));

* Adds our widget query variable to WordPress $vars
public function widget_add_vars()
global $wp;

private function export_posts()
$outstring  = ‘<html>’;
$outstring .= ‘<head><style>’;
$outstring .= ‘ul {
li {
$outstring .= ‘</style></head><body>’;

/* Here we get recent posts for the blog */
$args = array(
‘numberposts’ => 6,
‘offset’ => 0,
‘category’ => 0,
‘orderby’ => ‘post_date’,
‘order’ => ‘DESC’,
‘post_type’ => ‘post’,
‘post_status’ => ‘publish’,
‘suppress_filters’ => true

$recent_posts = wp_get_recent_posts($args);

$outstring .= ‘<div><ul>’;
foreach($recent_posts as $recent)
$outstring .= ‘<li><a target=”_blank” href=”‘ . get_permalink($recent[“ID”]) . ‘”>’ . $recent[“post_title”]. ‘</a></li>’;

$outstring .= ‘</ul></div>’;
$outstring .= ‘</body></html>’;

return $outstring;

* Catches our query variable. If it’s there, we’ll stop the
* rest of WordPress from loading and do our thing, whatever
* that may be.
public function catch_widget_query()
/* If no ’embed’ parameter found, return */
if(!get_query_var(’em_embed’)) return;

/* ’embed’ variable is set, export any content you like */

if(get_query_var(’em_embed’) == ‘posts’)
$data_to_embed = $this->export_posts();
echo $data_to_embed;


$widget = new WPWidgetEmbed();


To successfully intercept calls from another website, we need to first add the em_embed and em_domain parameters to our WordPress query_var variable. This will be used later to see what kind of data needs to be sent to the remote website. This is done by the following function.

public function widget_add_vars()
global $wp;

Next, we will need to catch the query variable on the template_redirect hook and process any data if the em_embed variable is set in the global variable.

public function catch_widget_query()
/* If no ’embed’ parameter found, return */
if(!get_query_var(’em_embed’)) return;

/* ’embed’ variable is set, export any content you like */

if(get_query_var(’em_embed’) == ‘posts’)
$data_to_embed = $this->export_posts();
echo $data_to_embed;


In our example, we will be exporting a list of recent post titles, so our export_posts function will look like below.

private function export_posts()
$outstring  = ‘<html>’;
$outstring .= ‘<head><style>’;
$outstring .= ‘ul {

li > a {
text-decoration: none;
font-family: Arial, Helvetica, Sans-serif;


li {
border-bottom: 1px solid #c0c0c0;
padding: 3px 0 3px 0;

.widget-posts {
width: 250px;
border: 1px solid #c0c0c0;
padding: 12px;
margin-left: 3px;
$outstring .= ‘</style></head><body>’;

/* Here we get recent posts for the blog */
$args = array(
‘numberposts’ => 6,
‘offset’ => 0,
‘category’ => 0,
‘orderby’ => ‘post_date’,
‘order’ => ‘DESC’,
‘post_type’ => ‘post’,
‘post_status’ => ‘publish’,
‘suppress_filters’ => true

$recent_posts = wp_get_recent_posts($args);

$outstring .= ‘<div id=”widget-posts”><ul>’;
foreach($recent_posts as $recent)
$outstring .= ‘<li><a target=”_blank” href=”‘ . get_permalink($recent[“ID”]) . ‘”>’ . $recent[“post_title”]. ‘</a></li>’;

$outstring .= ‘</ul></div>’;
$outstring .= ‘</body></html>’;

return $outstring;

This is all there is to the plugin. If you need to export any other data, you will need to replace the code for getting posts with code for getting the data you like.
Writing The Embeddable Widget Code

We have now completed only the part for the WordPress plugin. We still have to write the JavaScript embed code which will remotely access our website and insert the appropriate content into the calling page. The easiest way to display content from another website into your Web page is by using an iframe. The code needed to embed the content on a website is shown below.

<script type=”text/javascript”>
var widget_embed = ‘posts’;
<script src=””
<div id=”embed-widget-container”></div>

If you are going to use the widget for returning only a single type of data,you can do away with the widget_embed variable. So you will have something like the following.

<script src=””
<div id=”embed-widget-container”></div>

wp-widget.js is the JavaScript that does all the work of calling the remote WordPress website and adding the content to the iframe. You need to place the wp-widget.js file in a subdirectory on your WordPress website; the exact name and location does not matter.

The complete code for the wp-widget.js is shown below, and is self-explanatory.

* wp-widget.js
* Inserts an iframe into the DOM and calls the remote embed plugin
* via a get parameter:
* e.g
* This is intercepted by the remote ‘WordPress Widget Embed’ plugin

(function() {

// Localize jQuery variable
var jQuery;

/* Load jQuery if not present */
if (window.jQuery === undefined || window.jQuery.fn.jquery !== ‘1.7.2’)
var script_tag = document.createElement(‘script’);
if (script_tag.readyState)
script_tag.onreadystatechange = function ()
{ // For old versions of IE
if (this.readyState == ‘complete’ || this.readyState == ‘loaded’)
script_tag.onload = scriptLoadHandler;

(document.getElementsByTagName(“head”)[0] || document.documentElement).appendChild(script_tag);
// The jQuery version on the window is the one we want to use
jQuery = window.jQuery;

/* Called once jQuery has loaded */
function scriptLoadHandler()
jQuery = window.jQuery.noConflict(true);

/* Our Start function */
function main()
/* Get ’embed’ parameter from the query */
var widget = window.widget_embed;
var domain = encodeURIComponent(window.document.location);

/* Set ‘height’ and ‘width’ according to the content type */
var iframeContent = ‘<iframe style=”overflow-y: hidden;” \
height=”550″ width=”400″ frameborder=”0″ \
border=”0″ cellspacing=”0″ scrolling=”no” \
src=”’ + widget + ‘&em_domain=’ + domain + ‘”></iframe>’;



The task of inserting the iframe and the WordPress content in the DOM is accomplished by the main() function. The iframe size needs to be changed depending on your requirements or created dynamically by letting the user pass additional parameters along with the widget_embed variable in the main widget code.
Adding Custom CSS To The Content

You can also add custom CSS to the displayed content through the plugin. Sample CSS to go with the above plugin is given below. You can also specify a style sheet URL if needed.

private function export_posts()
$outstring  = ‘<html>’;
$outstring .= ‘<head><style>’;
$outstring .= ‘ul {

li > a {
text-decoration: none;
font-family: Arial, Helvetica, Sans-serif;

li {
border-bottom: 1px solid #c0c0c0;
padding: 3px 0 3px 0;

.widget-posts {
width: 250px;
border: 1px solid #c0c0c0;
padding: 12px;
margin-left: 3px;
$outstring .= ‘</style></head><body>’;

The type of CSS you add to the content will depend on what content you are displaying. With a little creative coding, you can also allow the user to add certain display options to the widget with which they can control the display style of the embedded widget.
Restricting Display To Certain Domains

You may want to allow only certain domains to be able to display your content using the widget. This can easily be made possible, as we already have the calling website’s url in the em_domain variable. All we have to do is check the domain and selectively allow the content to be displayed.

public function catch_widget_query()
/* If no ’embed’ parameter found, return */
if(!get_query_var(’em_embed’)) return;

/* ’embed’ variable is set, export any content you like */

if(get_query_var(’em_embed’) == ‘posts’)
$allowed_domains = array(‘’,

$calling_host = parse_url(get_query_var(’em_domain’));

/* Check if the calling domain is in the allowed domains list */
if(in_array($calling_host[‘host’], $allowed_domains))
$data_to_embed = $this->export_posts();
echo $data_to_embed;
echo “Domain not registered!”;


Performance Concerns

Allowing other websites to access your content via widgets means additional load on your servers. A few hundred websites using your widget could easily slow down your server, so take this factor into consideration when promoting widgets. However, plugins like WP Super Cache can be used to cache widget data and reduce server load. If you are not using WP Super Cache or any other cache plugin, you can try using the WordPress Transients API to save the results into the database.

The WordPress Transients API offers a simple and standardized way of storing cached data in the database temporarily by giving it a custom name and a time frame, after which it will expire and be deleted. The catch_widget_query() function after adding the WP Transient API code is shown below.

public function catch_widget_query()
/* If no ’embed’ parameter found, return */
if(!get_query_var(’em_embed’)) return;

/* ’embed’ variable is set, export any content you like */

if(get_query_var(’em_embed’) == ‘posts’)
/* Here we are now using the ‘WP Transient API’.
See if we have any saved data for the ‘ewidget’ key.
$cached = get_transient(‘ewidget’);

/* Oops!, the cache is empty */
/* Get some fresh data */
$data_to_embed = $this->export_posts();

/* Save it using the ‘WP Transient API’ using the ‘ewidget’ key,
set it to expire after 12 hours.
set_transient(‘ewidget’, $data_to_embed, 60 * 60 * 12);
echo $data_to_embed;
/* Yes we found some, so we return that to the user */
echo $cached;


for more information log on to

WordPress Essentials: The Definitive Guide To WordPress Hooks

In this article, I would like to dispel some of the confusion around hooks, because not only are they the way to code in WordPress, but they also teach us a great design pattern for development in general. Explaining this in depth will take a bit of time, but bear with me: by the end, you’ll be able to jumble hooks around like a pro.
Why Hooks Exist

I think the most important step in grasping hooks is to understand the need for them. Let’s create a version of a WordPress function that already exists, and then evolve it a bit using the “hooks mindset.”

function get_excerpt($text, $length = 150) {
$excerpt = substr($text,$length)
return $excerpt;

This function takes two parameters: a string and the length at which we want to cut it. What happens if the user wants a 200-character excerpt instead of a 150-character one? They just modify the parameter when they use the function. No problem there.

If you use this function a lot, you will notice that the parameter for the text is usually the post’s content, and that you usually use 200 characters instead of the default 150. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could set up new defaults, so that you didn’t have to add the same parameters over and over again? Also, what happens if you want to add some more custom text to the end of the excerpt?

These are the kinds of problems that hooks solve. Let’s take a quick look at how.

function get_excerpt($text, $length = 150) {

$length = apply_filters(“excerpt_length”, $length);

$excerpt = substr($text,$length)
return $excerpt;

As you can see, the default excerpt length is still 150, but we’ve also applied some filters to it. A filter allows you to write a function that modifies the value of something — in this case, the excerpt’s length. The name (or tag) of this filter is excerpt_length, and if no functions are attached to it, then its value will remain 150. Let’s see how we can now use this to modify the default value.

function get_excerpt($text, $length = 150) {

$length = apply_filters(“excerpt_length”);

$excerpt = substr($text,$length)
return $excerpt;

function modify_excerpt_length() {
return 200;

add_filter(“excerpt_length”, “modify_excerpt_length”);

First, we have defined a function that does nothing but return a number. At this point, nothing is using the function, so let’s tell WordPress that we want to hook this into the excerpt_length filter.

We’ve successfully changed the default excerpt length in WordPress, without touching the original function and without even having to write a custom excerpt function. This will be extremely useful, because if you always want excerpts that are 200 characters long, just add this as a filter and then you won’t have to specify it every time.

Suppose you want to tack on some more text, like “Read on,” to the end of the excerpt. We could modify our original function to work with a hook and then tie a function to that hook, like so:

function get_excerpt($text, $length = 150) {

$length = apply_filters(“excerpt_length”);

$excerpt = substr($text,$length)
return apply_filters(“excerpt_content”, $excerpt);

function modify_excerpt_content($excerpt) {
return $excerpt . “Read on…”;
add_filter(“excerpt_content”, “modify_excerpt_content”);

This hook is placed at the end of the function and allows us to modify its end result. This time, we’ve also passed the output that the function would normally produce as a parameter to our hook. The function that we tie to this hook will receive this parameter.

All we are doing in our function is taking the original contents of $excerpt and appending our “Read on” text to the end. But if we choose, we could also return the text “Click the title to read this article,” which would replace the whole excerpt.

While our example is a bit redundant, since WordPress already has a better function, hopefully you’ve gotten to grips with the thinking behind hooks. Let’s look more in depth at what goes on with filters, actions, priorities, arguments and the other yummy options available.
Filters And Actions

Filters and actions are two types of hooks. As you saw in the previous section, a filter modifies the value of something. An action, rather than modifying something, calls another function to run beside it.

A commonly used action hook is wp_head. Let’s see how this works. You may have noticed a function at the bottom of your website’s head section named wp_head(). Diving into the code of this function, you can see that it contains a call to do_action(). This is similar to apply_filters(); it means to run all of the functions that are tied to the wp_head tag.

Let’s put a copyright meta tag on top of each post’s page to test how this works.

add_action(“wp_head”, “my_copyright_meta”);

function my_copyright_meta() {
echo “”;

The Workflow Of Using Hooks

While hooks are better documented nowadays, they have been neglected a bit until recently, understandably so. You can find some good pointers in the Codex, but the best thing to use is Adam Brown’s hook reference, and/or look at the source code.

Say you want to add functionality to your blog that notifies authors when their work is published. To do this, you would need to do something when a post is published. So, let’s try to find a hook related to publishing.

Can we tell whether we need an action or a filter? Sure we can! When a post is published, do we want to modify its data or do a completely separate action? The answer is the latter, so we’ll need an action. Let’s go to the action reference on Adam Brown’s website, and search for “Publish.”

The first thing you’ll find is app_publish_post. Sounds good; let’s click on it. The details page doesn’t give us a lot of info (sometimes it does), so click on the “View hook in source” link next to your version of WordPress (preferably the most recent version) in the table. This website shows only a snippet of the file, and unfortunately the beginning of the documentation is cut off, so it’s difficult to tell if this is what we need. Click on “View complete file in SVN” to go to the complete file so that we can search for our hook.

In the file I am viewing, the hook can be found in the _publish_post_hook() function, which — according to the documentation above it — is a “hook to schedule pings and enclosures when a post is published,” so this is not really what we need.

With some more research in the action list, you’ll find the publish_post hook, and this is what we need. The first thing to do is write the function that sends your email. This function will receive the post’s ID as an argument, so you can use that to pull some information into the email. The second task is to hook this function into the action. Look at the finished code below for the details.

function authorNotification($post_id) {
global $wpdb;
$post = get_post($post_id);
$author = get_userdata($post->post_author);

$message = ”
Hi “.$author->display_name.”,
Your post, “.$post->post_title.” has just been published. Well done!
wp_mail($author->user_email, “Your article is online”, $message);
add_action(‘publish_post’, ‘authorNotification’);

Notice that the function we wrote is usable in its own right. It has a very specific function, but it isn’t only usable together with hooks; you could use it in your code any time. In case you’re wondering, wp_mail() is an awesome mailer function — have a look at the WordPress Codex for more information.

This process might seem a bit complicated at first, and, to be totally honest, it does require browsing a bit of documentation and source code at first, but as you become more comfortable with this system, your time spent researching what to use and when to use it will be reduced to nearly nothing.

The third parameter when adding your actions and filters is the priority. This basically designates the order in which attached hooks should run. We haven’t covered this so far, but attaching multiple functions to a hook is, of course, possible. If you want an email to be sent to an author when their post is published and to also automatically tweet the post, these would be written in two separate functions, each tied to the same tag (publish_post).

Priorities designate which hooked function should run first. The default value is 10, but this can be changed as needed. Priorities usually don’t make a huge difference, though. Whether the email is sent to the author before the article is tweeted or vice versa won’t make a huge difference.

In rarer cases, assigning a priority could be important. You might want to overwrite the actions of other plugins (be careful, in this case), or you might want to enforce a specific order. I recently had to overwrite functionality when I was asked to optimize a website. The website had three to four plugins, with about nine JavaScript files in total. Instead of disabling these plugins, I made my own plugin that overwrote some of the JavaScript-outputting functionality of those plugins. My plugin then added the minified JavaScript code in one file. This way, if my plugin was deactivated, all of the other plugins would work as expected.
Specifying Arguments

The fourth argument when adding filters and actions specifies how many arguments the hooked function takes. This is usually dictated by the hook itself, and you will need to look at the source to find this information.

As you know from before, your functions are run when they are called by apply_filters() or do_action(). These functions will have the tag as their first argument (i.e. the name of the hook you are plugging into) and then passed arguments as subsequent arguments.

For example, the filter default_excerpt receives two parameters, as seen in includes/post.php.

$post->post_excerpt = apply_filters( ‘default_excerpt’, $post_excerpt, $post );

The arguments are well named — $post_excerpt and $post — so it’s easy to guess that the first is the excerpt text and the second is the post’s object. If you are unsure, it is usually easiest either to look further up in the source or to output them using a test function (make sure you aren’t in a production environment).

function my_filter_test($post_excerpt, $post) {
echo “<pre>”;
echo “</pre>”;
add_filter(“default_excerpt”, “my_filter_test”);

Variable Hook Names

Remember when we looked at the publish_post action? In fact, this is not used anymore; it was renamed in version 2.3 to {$new_status}_{$post->post_type}. With the advent of custom post types, it was important to make the system flexible enough for them. This new hook now takes an arbitrary status and post type (they must exist for it to work, obviously).

As a result, publish_post is the correct tag to use, but in reality, you will be using {$new_status}_{$post->post_type}. A few of these are around; the naming usually suggests what you will need to name the action.
Who Is Hooked On Who?

To find out which function hooks into what, you can use the neat script below, courtesy of WP Recipes. Use this function without arguments to get a massive list of everything, or add a tag to get functions that are hooked to that one tag. This is a great one to keep in your debugging tool belt!

function list_hooked_functions($tag=false){
global $wp_filter;
if ($tag) {
if (!is_array($hook[$tag])) {
trigger_error(“Nothing found for ‘$tag’ hook”, E_USER_WARNING);
else {
echo ‘<pre>’;
foreach($hook as $tag => $priority){
echo “<br /><strong>$tag</strong><br />”;
foreach($priority as $priority => $function){
echo $priority;
foreach($function as $name => $properties) echo “\t$name<br />”;
echo ‘</pre>’;

Creating Your Own Hooks

A ton of hooks are built into WordPress, but nothing is stopping you from creating your own using the functions we’ve looked at so far. This may be beneficial if you are building a complex plugin intended for wide release; it will make your and other developers’ jobs a lot easier!

In the example below, I have assumed we are building functionality for users to post short blurbs on your website’s wall. We’ll write a function to check for profanity and hook it to the function that adds the blurbs to the wall.

Look at the full code below. The explanation ensues.

function post_blurb($user_id, $text) {

$text = apply_filters(“blurb_text”, $text);

if(!empty($text)) {
$wpdb->insert(‘my_wall’, array(“user_id” => $user_id, “date” => date(“Y-m-d H:i:s”), “text” => $text), array(“%d”, %s”, “%s”));

function profanity_filter($text) {
$text_elements = explode(” “, $text);
$profanity = array(“badword”, “naughtyword”, “inappropriatelanguage”);

if(array_intersect($profanity, $text_elements)) {
return false;
else {
return $text;

add_filter(“blurb_text”, “profanity_filter”);

The first thing in the code is the designation of the function that adds the blurb. Notice that I included the apply_filters() function, which we will use to add our profanity check.

Next up is our profanity-checking function. This checks the text as its argument against an array of known naughty words. By using array_intersect(), we look for array elements that are in both arrays — these would be the profane words. If there are any, then return false; otherwise, return the original text.

The last part actually hooks this function into our blurb-adding script.

Now other developers can hook their own functions into our script. They could build a spam filter or a better profanity filter. All they would need to do is hook it in.
Mixing And Matching

The beauty of this system is that it uses functions for everything. If you want, you can use the same profanity filter for other purposes, even outside of WordPress, because it is just a simple function. Already have a profanity-filter function? Copy and paste it in; all you’ll need to do is add the one line that actually hooks it in. This makes functions easily reusable in various situations, giving you more flexibility and saving you some time as well.

for more information log on to

Up On The Wall: How Working Walls Unlock Creative Insight

Research wall, design wall, research board, ideation wall, inspiration board, moodboard, pinboard — Working walls are known by countless names. Underlying them all is a single idea: that physically pinning our sources of inspiration and work in progress, and surrounding ourselves with them, can help us to rearrange concepts and unlock breakthrough insights.

In their 2009 paper on creativity in design, human media interaction researcher Dhaval Vyas and his colleagues coined the term “artful surfaces” to refer to “surfaces that designers create by externalizing their work-related activities, to be able to effectively support their everyday way of working.” According to Vyas and his colleagues at the University of Twente (in the Netherlands), designers integrate these surfaces “artfully” and organize information in such a way that it empowers them to visualize and extend their work in progress.
Working Walls And Design Thinking

In this article, you will learn how displaying data and ideas on a large vertical surface can enhance your design thinking process. One of the first things to know is that the practice of using “working walls,” as we will call these surfaces from now on, is scarcely documented in scientific literature — hence, the need for a working definition of a working wall (redundancy intended). For the purpose of this article, we’ll define it as a large vertical surface on which ideas, data and work in progress can be displayed, rearranged and extended.


This design thinking tool being as powerful as it is, it comes as no surprise that a myriad of other fields have adapted and used it for years. But just how do working walls come into play in design thinking? Tim Brown, president and CEO of IDEO, defines design thinking like so:

“A human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”

To further define this approach, The Institute of Design at Stanford (or has outlined five steps in the design thinking process:

5 steps of design thinking

It all starts with empathizing with the people you are designing for. Then, you define a clear perspective of the process by making sense of a large amount of information. You proceed with ideation, exploring a wide array of concepts and generating possible solutions. Prototyping involves building an object (or artifact) that a user can experience and give you feedback on. Testing is about triggering an actual response from your intended user.

Working walls can facilitate every step of the design thinking process, and they offer unique advantages to bolster creative thought. The tool can help us empathize with and gather input from users, define a focused approach based on a large amount of data, capture the ideation process, display a low-fidelity prototype that users can interact with, and keep track of the way we’ve tested our creative assumptions.

Hopefully, the following benefits and working wall templates will inspire you to create your own today.

For more information please log on to

European Trademark Office Says Pinterest Doesn’t Own ‘Pinterest’ – Social News Startup Premium Interest Does

Pinterest raised a $225 million round in October 2013 to help fuel its international expansion, but a recent ruling in Europe could prove to be a hiccup in that strategy. The U.S.-based social networking site has lost a challenge it made to claim the Pinterest trademark in the region, with a European trademark court ruling in favor of the current owner, a London-based social news aggregation startup called Premium Interest and its founder Alex Hearn.

It means that if Pinterest wants to continue to do business in Europe, “Pinterest will have to change their name if they don’t get a licence from him,” according to Adam Morallee, a partner at law firm Mishcon de Reya, which represented Hearn and his company. Hearn also owns similar rights on the Pinterest trademark in other markets such as Australia.

A spokesperson for Pinterest says the company will be fighting the case. “We plan to appeal the recent decision,” he told TechCrunch.

For now, however, the ruling — made by the European Commission’s Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market, Trade Marks and Designs Division — notes that Pinterest’s claim was “rejected in its entirety.”

Part of reason why, it seems, has to do with timing: Pinterest was already active by the time Premium Interest filed for a trademark in January 2012, but it had yet to formally enter the European market, let alone file a trademark. In fact, Premium Interest filed its trademark in Europe some two months before Pinterest had even gotten its act together in the U.S. to file for a trademark there, notes the blog Mark Matters.

The decision, which is dated November but was only made public last month, also notes other issues that must feel like frustrating oversights for Pinterest at this point.

For example, Pinterest provided documents to support substantiation of its earlier, non-registered mark. But it did so several months after the OHIM’s submission deadlines had passed, rendering them invalid.

The OHIM also determined that documents that were submitted within deadline only proved that the media was buzzing about Pinterest — but not that the general public in the UK or elsewhere in Europe were — or simply didn’t provide enough detail to show they supported the relevant timeframes.

The ruling — embedded in full below — will mean that Pinterest needs to pay court costs (€300, or $409) but no trademark infringement damages as yet.

Pinterest could still get an opening in the case on an appeal — when it would presumably not miss the submission deadline and provide documents that more clearly proved that it was already a well-enough-known entity in the UK and elsewhere in Europe before January 2012 (when Premium Interest first filed its mark).

Done correctly, such documents could help Pinterest work around the “first to file” rule that was the decider this time around. But there is a catch here, too.

“Pinterest may well appeal but the rules of OHIM are that no new evidence can be put forward,” Morallee tells us. “To win the case they have to show they had rights before Premium Interest in Europe. OHIM refused that on the basis of the evidence [Pinterest] put forward. The fact they are well known in the U.S. is not relevant. What matters is their rights in Europe. And they didn’t have any at the relevant time.”

Pinterest has been a strong defender of different aspects of its branding, from its Pin-it button through to its curvy P logo that looks a bit like the P that social networking app Path uses. It’s also actively discouraged any partners to use any variation of the words “pin” or “pinterest” as puns in their names. So you can imagine that it will not give up its trademark on “Pinterest” across Europe so lightly.

On Premium Interest’s side, Hearn says filing the Pinterest mark was “standard practice to protect intellectual property once we start to work on it.”

“We do have great respect Pinterest Inc’s worldwide rights, but also we respect our rights too!” he says. “There is no mistake their growth has been rapid over the past 18 months, from unknown to megastars, and this has posed the problem in trademark use we have today in the EU and beyond.”

Hearn would not comment directly on questions of whether he would accept a licensing settlement. “I hope there is a route through, as no-one likes good businesses to be impeded! But also it is difficult when there is a rapidly expanding company to waive your protected rights, especially when its your baby,” he says.

What’s ironic is that while Pinterest really has been rapidly growing and gaining traction with consumers, Premium Interest has yet to launch, or use any variation of the “Pinterest” trademark that it owns.

Premium Interest, according to its site, has been “developed by a team of individuals based in London, UK who are dedicated to providing a new way to view news, ranked and selected by the reader, not the editor… The vision is that only the most imaginative news and debates will be captured, giving a wholly different insight on traditional news sourcing.”

Hearn tells me that he first coined the use of Pinterest in late 2009/2010, when he and colleagues started to work on some of the early experimental algorithms. But it wasn’t until 2011/2012 that the site appeared online. “We have been very busy the past year developing the mobile apps for launch [this year],” he tells me. Premium Interest’s website, Hearn says, is “acting as a test concept site.” For its interface, it happens to use a similar mosaic-style flow to Pinterest’s.
premium interest

for more information log on to

Why Fireworks Is So Awesome (Today)?

Designers, especially ones with little or no experience with Fireworks, often ask, “Why should I use Fireworks for UI design and screen graphics? Why not use Photoshop (as most visual designers do), combined with Illustrator? Or why not some other tool?”

Many features make Fireworks an excellent (and even indispensable) tool for screen design. We’ll quickly list a few below.
Focus on Screen Design
Fireworks is a tool to design for screens; thus, it is focused. It has features that help the UI designer work quickly and accurately, and clutter is kept to a minimum (for example, it has no print or 3-D features). It is also intuitive to use and has wireframing and prototyping capabilities. Fireworks is like a Swiss Army knife for UI design.
Powerful Vector Tools

Fireworks has powerful vector tools, too. In this regard, you could easily compare it to Adobe Illustrator — yet Fireworks’ tools are easier to master. You can go from the simplest of wireframes to the most complex of screen graphics, illustrations, icons, and full-page designs and comps, and then export the entire page or just selections as optimized bitmaps or SVG, without ever needing to switch to another app!
Good Bitmap Editing Tools

Fireworks also has full bitmap editing tools, so you don’t need to jump from Fireworks to another app when you want to modify bitmaps (for example, when you have to make a quick color correction on an imported photo, crop an image, apply a vector mask, etc.).
Create Live Prototypes

Create live (i.e. HTML) without ever leaving Fireworks? Yes, that’s possible. We’ve covered this in the past. Fireworks is also invaluable for other types of live prototypes; for example, you could quickly create a prototype of a music player?
Create Live iOS Prototypes

Fireworks can also create iOS prototypes. From wireframes to an iOS prototype to the final polished design — all of these steps can be done without leaving this one design tool!

The topic of iOS live prototyping with Fireworks and TAP was covered in great detail in the three-part article by Shlomo Goltz, “iOS Prototyping With Adobe Fireworks and TAP” (part 1, part 2, part 3).
The (Smart) Fireworks PNG File Format

Fireworks saves to a special editable PNG format, which offers many advantages: small file size (multi-page Fireworks PNG files are usually less than 10 MB in size, while a single PSD file can easily reach a few hundred MB, even for a one-page design!), the ability to embed custom meta data (such as annotations, notes and comments) within the source file itself, the ability to preview files in Finder and Explorer, the ability to make special libraries of symbols (which can be indexed and searched, as in the example of the Evernote and Fireworks workflow) and, last but not least, the ability to view a live preview of a single-page Fireworks PNG in any browser or device.
Excellent Exporting, Opening, Importing and Saving Options

Fireworks can export to the following formats, with excellent compression and quality: PNG32 (i.e. PNG24 + alpha transparency), PNG24 (with no transparency), PNG8, PNG8 + index or alpha transparency, JPG and JPG progressive, selective JPG, GIF and GIF animated, SVG, and ICO (for favicons).

In addition to all of these “flat” file formats (and, obviously, the editable file-name.fw-opt.png), Fireworks can open most Photoshop (PSD) and Illustrator (AI) files, Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) files and most SVG files.


Fireworks saves to the editable Fw PNG (file-name.fw-opt.png) format by default, but it can also save to PSD (file-name.psd) and AI ( formats.

(Note: Support for PSD and AI files has some limitations, especially as the features of Photoshop and Illustrator continue to change.)
Pages and Master Page, Layers, States (and Objects)


Nearly all websites and mobile apps have more than one page or screen, and many pages and even many states (or variations) of those pages have to be designed. One of the most powerful features of Fireworks is its ability to contain many pages in a single file, as well as contain many states for both pages and individual objects in a design


Using Brainwriting For Rapid Idea Generation

When a group wants to generate ideas for a new product or to solve a problem, you will usually hear the clarion call, “Let’s brainstorm!” You assemble a group, spell out the basic ground rules for brainstorming (no criticism, wild ideas are welcome, focus on quantity, combine ideas to make better ideas) and then have people yell out ideas one at a time.

Brainstorming is often the method of choice for ideation, but it is fraught with problems that range from participants’ fear of evaluation to the serial nature of the process — only one idea at a time. Brainwriting is an easy alternative or a complement to face-to-face brainstorming, and it often yields more ideas in less time than traditional group brainstorming.
What Is Brainwriting?

When I teach my graduate course in “Prototyping and Interaction Design,” I start with a class on ways to generate ideas. Because brainstorming is a well-known and popular technique, I generally begin with a discussion on how to do good brainstorming, something that is very hard, and then introduce brainwriting as a worthy, and sometimes preferred, alternative to brainstorming. The term “brainwriting” often brings forth smiles and quiet laughter because it is a strange word.

Brainwriting is simple. Rather than ask participants to yell out ideas (a serial process), you ask them to write down their ideas about a particular question or problem on sheets of paper for a few minutes; then, you have each participant pass their ideas on to someone else, who reads the ideas and adds new ideas. After a few minutes, you ask the participants to pass their papers to others, and the process repeats. After 10 to 15 minutes, you collect the sheets and post them for immediate discussion.

In my experience, the number of ideas generated from brainwriting often exceeds what you’d expect from face-to-face brainstorming because you’ve reduced anxiety somewhat, followed a parallel process in which a dozen people may add items simultaneously, and reduced the amount of extraneous talk that happens during brainstorming, which takes time away from idea generation.


When To Use Brainwriting

Brainwriting can be used in the following situations:

You have too large a group for effective brainstorming. You could conduct brainwriting at a conference of 500 people simply by leaving a large card on each seat, asking a question, and then having each audience member pass a card to someone else, and then repeat three times for a minute of writing.
You have quiet people in your group who are intimidated by traditional brainstorming.
You are working in a culture in which brainstorming about “wild ideas” or expressing ideas that diverge from those of senior management is not accepted.
Your time is limited. I’ve used brainwriting to brainstorm questions for a website visit when I had only 10 minutes to get feedback from the product team. I ended up with more than 50 different questions, without the fuss of having to set up a formal brainstorming session.
You don’t have an experienced moderator. Brainstorming, contrary to what many blog posts claim, is difficult to do well. Brainwriting, in contrast, requires that you be able to ask a question, read a clock and collect answers.
You are worried about loud or forceful individuals influencing others, as they might in traditional brainstorming.

Brainwriting can be used to understand how different groups view an issue. You might try to conduct separate brainwriting sessions with different internal groups. For example, if you asked groups to brainwrite about “What are the most important problems faced by our customers?” you might find that developers have a different perspective from the UX team, who have a different perspective from product managers. In my experience, the differences emerge more strongly through brainwriting than through face-to-face brainstorming.
For more information log on to

E-Commerce Websites

Online shopping is as easy as well as difficult because there is little certainty. People dont wish to spend their money very quickly and easily online. Since sometimes it can be very time consuming , unpleasent and tedious. turning the entire experience into a diaster surely it can. But there are certain websites who have maintain their qualitiy and product and the whole supply chain process very nicely some of them are discussed as under:

Bonobos’ shopping experience is smooth. Good typography and subtle colors help focus on the products and featurebonobos-opts, with all distractions fading away as you interact with the site. When a new item is added to the cart, it appears in a sliding sidebar on the right, prompting customers to either keep shopping or check out. The design of the checkout form is elegant and clean. The amount of data required is never overwhelming since it’s clearly separated in manageable chunks. And the most important bit: the favicon is a bananas icon! Now that is pretty cool.


Martina Sperl
Martina Sperl’s website is a lovely website. The shop features polished photography of her products, with a simple navigation panel fixed on the right side of the page. The hover effect is simple yet bold, showing the item number and price boldly in a large sans-serif typeface. You can, of course, click an image to view details about the product and get a 3-D view of the furniture (just a series of images). Buying a piece of furniture requires you to order by email. Again, bold full-width product images are used on product pages, and you can click on the “heart” icon to express your love for a product. Powered by WordPress.

Banana Cafe

Banana Cafe is crazy. The 3-D hover effects of the site are consistent across the entire shopping experience. The blocks rotate in different directions, creating interesting movement throughout the website. It isn’t your ordinary online shop, but rather a collection of suggestions for your closet. The hover effects reveal a reference number that you would use in the contact form at the bottom of the page. Well, the audio and video in the background aren’t really necessary, but they do complement the unique experience on the site quite well.

Hence there are wonderful stores available out there it seems hard to spend your hard earned money but online shopping has made it easy there are good stores available out there offering brands and designer wears and products of all ranges.

for more details log on to

Firefox OS

Firefox OS is based on linux open source operating system for smart phone operating system and tablets computers. Mozilla is its developer renowned for Firefox web browser. It’s an alternative system  for mobile devices using open standards, HTML 5 , Java script, privilege model, open web API’s  to make communication simpler through cell phones.


Firefox OS was publicly demonstrated in February 2012, on Android-compatible smartphones and again in 2013 running on Raspberry Pi. In January 2013, at CES 2013, ZTE confirmed they would be shipping a smartphone with Firefox OS  and on July 2, 2013, Telefónica launched the first commercial Firefox OS based phone, ZTE Open, in Spain.

On July 25, 2011, Dr. Andreas Gal, Director of Research at Mozilla Corporation, announced the “Boot to Gecko” Project (B2G) on the Mozilla. The purposal of the project was “pursue the goal of building a complete, standalone operating system for the open web” in order to “find the gaps that keep web developers from being able to build apps that are – in every way – the equals of native apps built for the iPhone [iOS], Android, and WP7 [Windows Phone 7].


Its features are:

  • It provides messaging facility
  • You can find out maps
  • Listen to music
  • Upload photos
  • Do social media networking
  • You can evolve it as a market place
  • It is adaptive and a lot of applications are available on phone
  • It is made to capture the moments of your life
  • It has the capacity to transform the future , build a brighter future for the web world.
  • It’s a community based phone
  • You can have superior browsing experience while using it.

So hurry up go and order one for yourself or gift your loved ones.


The Eye Tribe

The Danish startup business The Eye Tribe formed the company in 2011. It all started seven years ago where the four founders met at the IT University of Copenhagen. Their aim was to make eye tracking available for everyone at an affordable price. Within a couple of years they were renowned as the world leading research group in low cost eye tracking.
After finishing their PhD’s the four founders bought the IP from the University and formed The Eye Tribe company during their participation in the European StartupBootcamp accelerator program in 2011. The team now includes 16 full time employees,developing eye tracking software and applications for mobile devices. The Eye Tribe received seed funding of USD 1 million from private European investors in 2012 and is also leading a USD 4.4 Million government funded project to develop eye control for mobile devices.

The Eye Tribe is only compatible with Microsoft Windows XP SP1 or newer, but the company is in the process of working on support for other major platforms, such as Macintosh and OS. They are selling the device to developers with a simple software development kit using C++, C# and Java programming platforms. The Eye Tribe has broken the records of all small eye tracking systems. The main components of the Eye Tribe tracker are a camera and a high-resolution infrared LED that can be used via mobile or smart phone.

The company aims to target commercial market they want to make the product available for every household. The Eye Tribe makes it clear that they hope their technology will become versatile, used for many things from games to working, from browsing the web to security. The game Fruit Ninja is mostly use in the demonstration of the device because it is vastly available on the most of the smart phones and iPhones. The game usually uses a touch screen to slice fruit, but with eye tribe technology, the gamer would just look at the screen and use their gaze to play. Eye Tribe is working with other application designers to integrate their technology into other games for pleasure.
Its features are:
Sampling rate    30 Hz and 60 Hz mode
Accuracy    0.5° (average)
Spatial resolution    0.1° (RMS)
Latency    < 20 ms at 60 Hz
Calibration    5, 9, 12 points
Operating range    45 cm – 75 cm
Tracking area    40 cm × 30 cm at 65 cm distance
Screen sizes    Up to 24 inches
API/SDK    C++, C# and Java included
Data output    Binocular gaze data
Dimensions    (W/H/D) 20 × 1.9 × 1.9 cm (7.9 × 0.75 × 0.75 inches)
Weight    70 g
Connection    USB 3.0 Superspeed

Leap Motion Controller

An American company Leap Motion Inc manufactures computer hardware sensor device that uses hand and finger motion as inputs without any hand contact or touching. The company was founded as OcuSpec which raised 1.3 million funding in 2011 from venture capitalist firms Andreessen Horowitz, SOS Ventures and Angel Investors. Leap Motion announced in May 2012 sound funding of 12.75 M by High Land Capitals. In 2013 announced funding of $30 million. The first product was announced on May 21, 2012 called The Leap.


The Leap Motion Controller plugs into your PC and MAC with just your hand and figures you can swipe, pinch and wave to perform any task.  The Leap Motion Controller tracks both hands and all 10 fingers with pinpoint precision and incredible speed. That wide-open space between you and your computer is now yours—to play, create and explore. Reach into another world without actually touching anything.

Use your hands to move in any direction, with precision. Dive into realistic, 3D interaction at its best. Steer, slice, grab, push, pull, crush, and shoot with your hands and finger. Try popular games from Airspace like Fruit Ninja, and Cut the Rope, or new experiences like the music-driven game Dropchord and first-person shooter Blue Estate. With the Leap Motion Controller, you’re the instrument. Strum, drum, sketch, draw, and paint with your fingers. Sculpt as easily as you would with clay. Paint with a real brush using Corel Painter Freestyle. Use your own drumsticks to beat a snare drum in Airbeats. Flip through a recipe for lasagna without saucing up your screen. It’s the best way to create just about anything, because you do it by hand.


You can learn about the world through 3D motion-control. Fly through 3D cities in Google Earth. Zoom around the planets in Solar Walk, take apart a skull in Cyber Science or simply catch up on the latest news in The New York Times app. When you reach into your computer, the learning never stops.

Its features are:

  • It’s Sleek, light, tiny 3 inch device it doesn’t occupy any space but you can use the space above it.
  • Browse web, read articles , flip through photos, listen to music only using your figure directions
  • Do designing using your figure tips, play music using it.
  • Play reality games , build 3D objects, you can learn about the galaxies
  • The technology used is just inspired by your own hand movements
  • Minimum system requirement is  windows 7 or 8 or MAC OS X 10.7 Lion, AMD Phenom  or Intel  i3, i5 or i7 processor, 2 GB RAM, USB 2.0 Port and Internet Connection.
  • Height 0.5 inches , width 1.2 inches, depth 3 inches , weight 0.1 pounds

So hurry up go and grab a piece for your pc in just 102.83 pounds

Smart Things

Wireless home automation technologies are the upcoming technologies in the near future. These are the fusion of wireless with digital and non digital aspects of technological advancements. Previously only affluent people could benefit from wired home automation functionalities because they were highly expensive and not easily available. Or the big business giants could afford it.  In spite of it people got indulged into it and invested but not remarkably.  Since these days Smart phones are becoming hugely popular and everyone is having it many apps have been devised to control and automate several functions around the house as well – including switching lights on, switching lights off, increasing and decreasing air conditioning temperatures etc. However the smart phone claims to change the average home into a smart home.

SmartThings image
Smart Things will comprise of one main hub that can control up to 100 household functions. This hub will be connected to your home router with the help of an Ethernet connection. The other core devices will be placed throughout the house so that the primary hub can send signals to them upon receiving instructions from the user. Among the most interesting features are the open/shut sensor that can figure out if windows, doors and cabinets are open or shut, the motion sensor that can detect movements within the room and the presence sensor that can trace the entry and exit of people and animals in the house.
According to the manufacturers this device will connect the dull objects in the physical world to the internet, so that the user can control, monitor and automate them from any place he likes. This first of its kind technology can not only be used within the house but can also be implemented in an office space. Complications are removed and the device is made simpler via its – its reasonable price, its simplified installation process and the wide variety of features. Next year round, the manufacturers intend to add other advanced functions like a door locking mechanism, a thermostat control and a whole range of functions that will help you monitor your home and office from far away and step up home security as well as child security features around these places. The best aspect of Smart Things is that all these high end functions can be performed simply through your smart phone.

The technology used is cellular, Ethernet, Z Wave, Zigbee and Bluetooth. Even though it is not available for free, the cost of this entire setup is unbelievably reasonable with a user having to pay only $5 to $10 per device each month. A development kit that has been designed by Smart Things also allows you to create additional devices
•    Works with digital and non-digital devices, innovative
•    All-in-one solution – Home automation, home & child security
•    Elegant design
•    Affordable price
•    Can save energy
•    Coffee is made, when you get up
•    Check if your new-born baby finallly sleeps
•    The fire brigade will be informed if your house is burning
Smart thing is a very new and innovative idea, unique all-in-one solution for home automation and home and child security. It is highly assessable you can place an order even pre release. Trust me it will be a revolution in your world. It will be accepted massively because of its attractive features and affordable price and commercialism. So hurry up go and place the order the market is all open for you.