Category Archives: Tips

5 Tech Must-Haves for Your College Dorm Room

5 Tech Must-Haves for Your College Dorm Room

Soon classes at your local college will start. Before that happens, you’ll be moving into your dorm room. If you’re lucky and live close enough to home, then you won’t have to get a dorm room. Or if you’ve found a way to score off-campus housing.

If not, then there here are fiveCollege tech must-haves for dorm living.

1.      A Good Laptop

You will be writing, period.

What kind of writing you do is up to you…or your professor.

You might write emails to friends and family, writing social media posts, or when you have time, that paper that’s due tomorrow.

A good laptop is essential these days. All room and board charges cover Wi-Fi, so you don’t have to worry about the bill.

Be it an Apple, a Dell, HP, Toshiba, or any of the other brands, make surer you find one with 8 to 16GB of RAM, as well as a good amount of storage. Low RAM means a slow computer.

I speak from experience as my college laptop was slow. This made for some frustrating nights as I tried to write.

2.      Virtual Storage

This never happened to me, but I remember a fellow college student running full on across campus to get to the computer lab. There was a paper due that was 70% of his grade and the class was in ten minutes. So he’d downloaded it onto a flash-drive and sprinted across campus.

Virtual storage wasn’t what it is today, but there were options at the time. Us poor college students couldn’t afford it though.

Get a free Gmail account and you’ll get access to Google Drive. This way you can work on papers, save a copy to Drive, and print them out anywhere you have access to your email.

Just make sure there’s a printer installed, filled with paper and ink.

Bonus

Although a little bit more expensive, get an external hard drive.

My wife, who wrote huge papers for her honors program, kept one and it saved her sanity on more than one occasion. While virtual storage is helpful, a solid backup is added peace-of-mind.

So save yourself the stress.

And that guy who bolted across campus to print out his paper? He dropped the flash-drive on his way and couldn’t find it.

Save yourself the anxiety and get virtual storage.

3.      Bluetooth Speakers

CollegeBack in my day, it was all about the stereos with multiple-disc interchanges.

I graduated before the iPod really took off, or the iPhone came out. Not by much, mind you, but yes, I went to college in a time when Discmans were still the “it” thing.

With smaller, and portable, speakers available, you have music right there with you, no matter where you go.

Create a playlist on your phone, pair with a Bluetooth speaker, and you can take this anywhere you go. Doesn’t matter if you’re studying or at a party, you’ll be your own DJ.

Check out JBL, Canz, Bose, Sony, and other Bluetooth speaker makers to find the one that works for you and your budget.

Another plus- if someone has a Bluetooth speaker in their room and you’re not digging the music, just pair your phone to it and play your own music!

4.      Noise Cancelling Headphones

Dorms will be noisy.

Doesn’t matter the time of day, someone will be making noise.

Invest in noise-canceling headphones, it’ll help save your sanity.

You just never know when two guys next door will decide to pump up their sub-woofer to watch The Punisher. Even with headphones on, I couldn’t hear my own music. Therefore, noise-canceling would have been a good idea at the time.

Bose, Plantronics, AKG, and Beats are just some of the manufacturers who make noise-canceling headphones. And they come highly rated!

You can then shut off all outside noise while you study, or just listen to something other than your loud dormmates.

5.      A Smart TV

With smart TV’s so prevalent, you can find a good deal on one with good resolution and apps like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.

This will help cut down on all the clutter you have to take with you. Your movies and shows will be in one place, allowing you to save shelf space for…other things.

Bonus

Get a Chromecast, Roku Firestick, or Apple TV.

These will make up for any apps or streaming services that don’t come with your smart TV. Or if you can’t get a smart TV at all, then you’ll have this as a backup.

Since most dorms come with Wi-Fi, you’ll be able to stream and download that way and never miss the next episode of your favorite TV show.

Extra Bonus

The greatest thing about college is all the freedom you get to enjoy.College

The worst thing about college…is all the freedom you get to enjoy.

You don’t have to figure it out on your own.

Dorm life has been a constant for millions of people for years. Some of those people have gone on to write books about the experience.

Find these on Amazon, Half-Price Books, BN.com, or download to your favorite eBook reader.

This way you can learn from other’s mistakes so you can avoid making the same ones yourself.

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

Published in 1954, detailing the exploits of a college professor who doesn’t want the job at all. It may help you get an idea of where your professors are coming from.

Free Stuff Guide for Everyone by Peter Sander

Everything is expensive these days. When you’re in college this will be a harsh reality to contend with. Get this helpful guide so you can find the best deals, discounts, or other ways of making your dollar go farther.

Goodnight Dorm Room: All the Advice I Wish I Got Before Going to College by Samuel Kaplan and Keith Riegert

A funny and honest look at college. This book helps you understand the realities of college, as well as the real world, as well as giving you hints on how to adapt to dorm living and get ahead.

Dorm Room Essentials Cookbook by Gina Meyers

Everyone has to eat. But cafeteria food gets old really fast. And eating out for every meal is not feasible. This cookbook clues you in on how to make snacks, meals, and desserts on a budget and in your own dorm room.

The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College by Harlan Cohen

If there’s a lot of people living in a close, confined space, then the numbers dictate that one of them will be weird. Handling roommates and dormmates is a part of college life. Best to get ahead of the game and buy this book.

The College Humor Guide to College by Ethan Trex and Streeter Seidell

Who better to guy you into college than the people who parody college living?

By taking the humorous route, the book is more helpful than actual guidebooks.

 

There are more titles like these available. This list will get you started.

Make sure you get these books and read them before classes start. This way you’ll be even more prepared for college than any high school prep class could have made you.

Download the eBooks, audiobooks, or stream them to your device with reliable internet. To do that, check out the best cable and internet deals. This way you’ll save some money before you jet off to higher education.

5 Ways to Check Facebook Campaigns

5 Ways to Check Facebook Campaigns

On July 31st of this year, Facebook announced they’d found and banned thirty-two pages that coordinated, what they call, inauthentic behavior. These pages were linked to campaigns that were designed to influence the upcoming mid-term elections in November.

Back in March, Facebook had their Cambridge Analytica Scandal in which the political consulting firm had illegally gained private information from about 87 million Facebook users. Cambridge Analytica then used that information to plan ad campaigns.

To prevent something like that happening again, Facebook has begun working with the FBI and hired on more human fact checkers for ad campaigns and to weed out suspicious accounts.

This is reassuring to hear.

At the same time, it’s frustrating.

I read about these things happening and I get paranoid. It doesn’t help that I already get jittery for pointless reasons.

Gas Scare

FacebookI live in San Antonio, TX, and back in the fall of 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast. Houston bore the brunt of it. San Antonio was spared a lot of the flooding and destruction.

A week later, however, rumors spread that there was not enough gas to go around for the entire state of Texas, or at least San Antonio. A run on the pumps ensued. I saw lines of cars about a mile long to get to pumps because everyone thought gas was going to run out.

All these rumors turned out to be false.

There was a hitch in the supply chain, but San Antonio had enough reserves on hand to handle a normal amount of people getting gas for a weekend. When an above average amount of people ran to the pumps to top off their tanks, that’s when there was a problem.

Thanks to some misinformation, I had to put up with long lines at the pumps.

Campaigns like this, be they viral or engineered, make me paranoid. I never know when it’s going to happen.

When it comes to seeing ads or news stories on my Facebook feed, I am skeptical that they’re fabricated, or heavily skewed, to give the wrong impression. Sometimes the stories turn out to be true, other times they’re false. Like San Antonio running out of gas.

So how can I know?

Thanks to websites like factcheck.org, politifact.org, Washington Post’s Factchecker, snopes.com, and Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath, there are ways to combat my paranoia. They’re also helpful for determining if the information contained within is true or not.

It’s not a process or a 100% effective method for ascertaining the validity of an article. These are helpful steps to keep me from reacting and doing something stupid…like all the idiots who drained San Antonio of gas in late August of 2017.Facebook

Check with Other Sources

I remember hearing about the gas scare as I left my house on a Thursday. I didn’t think much of it. In fact, I believed it to be false information.

When I saw other cars pulling into the nearest station, I began to wonder.

After some needless traffic, I arrived home and did a search. Come to find out, more than three news stations were running stories about the misinformation when it came to gas availability.

I was right.

By then, however, the scare had taken hold and gas stations went dry.

Doubt Your Assumptions

Hearing about the gas scare I first doubted it. When I saw the cars lining up, I could help but worry.

Since so many people believed the news that San Antonio was about to run dry, it must have some truth to it, right? I started to second-guess myself and was tempted to get in line for the nearest station and wait to fuel up.

When other people are reacting a certain way, it’s easy to assume they know what they’re doing.

In this case, my grandpa had some wise words to share. Most of what he said wasn’t always wise, but every now and then he hit the mark. If the subject was assumptions, it was one of those rare moments- “When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me.”

Another nugget of wisdom applied to this situation- “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in a large crowd.”

Take a Step Back

By checking other sources and taking a moment not to get caught up in the crowd, we’re giving ourselves a chance to clearly assess the situation. By distancing ourselves we’re able to get a better idea of what’s going on and see if there’s a real reason to worry.

This option isn’t always available. You may have an impending deadline or find yourself without the time to clearly assess your surroundings.

Assess the Source

FacebookOn Facebook, in the news, or when you’re hearing gossip from a friend, always—always—assess the source.

Usually, it’s from one person or outlet and others took it and ran with it. It may take some time to figure out who said what and where the “knowledge” came from. But do yourself a favor and stop yourself from jumping to the conclusion because one person said something.

Accept Your Own Biases

This one is difficult, especially for me.

After years of thinking a certain way, we’re going to look for sources that confirm what we’ve always believed to be true. Sometimes we’re correct in our thinking, something we’re not. But if only look to those sources that confirm what we want to hear, chances are high that we’ll make the situation worse.

For example; I loved rainbow sherbet. It was my favorite ice cream for a long time.

That is until my wife pointed out that it’s not ice cream.

After debating her, heatedly, for two hours, it turns out I was wrong.

I still like rainbow sherbet, but I’ve had to find a new favorite ice cream flavor.

Be Ready for an Answer You Don’t Like

When it came to the gas scare, I was right when I doubted there was a shortage of gas in the San Antonio area.

When it came to rainbow sherbet, I was wrong even though I heatedly defended my position that sherbet is a dairy-based desert, hence, it’s ice cream. Sherbet, as it turns out, is juice based.

It’s not ice cream.

I’m still married though, so that’s good news.

When it comes to something we believe—politically, ethically, religiously—there are those times when we’re proven wrong. It may be because we’re overconfident or doubt the validity of a counter-argument.

It’s not easy to accept there’s a truth out there other than our own.

It’s not the end of the world though.

Much like rainbow sherbet, there are other ice cream flavors out there that we can enjoy.

The Cause

As people work to influence a wider audience, it’s up to us to double-check the validity of their claims.

As for Facebook, we need to be aware of the amount of information that comes across our newsfeed and the fact that it’s not always 100% true. When it came to the gas scare of 2017, it turned out to be a viral post on Facebook that was completely unfounded.

This only illustrates the need to check out the truth of a story before we begin to believe it.

 

And as always, check out the best internet and cable packages so you’re at least saving some money. Feel free to double check our numbers as we’re always hunting for the bundle deals to fit any budget and we’d rather get it right than make a sale.

6 Factors to Picking the Right Headphones

6 Factors to Picking the Right Headphones

Working in the office, going for a run, or tuning into a podcast, you’re probably going to need a pair of headphones.

Without them, listening to your favorite music, audiobook, or podcast will be impossible. Well, maybe not impossible, but more problematic.

Thanks to the internet, there is a wealth of information out there on headphones. It can be overwhelming, however, when it comes to the number of guides out there on how to pick a set and which ones are the best.

Consider this, underneath all the opinions, advertisements, and ratings, the choice is yours. If you pick headphones that aren’t at the top of the bestseller list, that’s fine. You’re the one who’s going to use them, so why not go with something you want?

That said, not every set of headphones will work for you.

Take these six factors into consideration as you search for your next set.Headphones

Type

Headphones used to mean speakers that were attached to a headband and placed over your ears. As technology has advanced, the term is more of a general umbrella. There’s earbuds, on-ear, over-the-ear.

Each one has its benefits and drawbacks.

Over-the-ear

These are headphones in the truest sense of the word, they cover the ear completely. How well they cover your ears will most likely determine their comfortability.

These will usually deliver the best sound quality, but that can also depend on the price. The cheaper the headphones, the poorer the sound quality. The material around the headphone will also affect how they feel on your ears. It may be nice at first until you consider how long you plan on wearing them.

I find that over-the-ear headphones can become uncomfortable if I wear them for too long. That may also have something to do with my big ears.

The downside to this type of headphone is they’re big.

Over-the-ear headphones take up a lot of space. A few brands come with cases to carry them, or hinges to make them more portable. When this happens, however, sound and durability get compromised.

If you’re working in the music business, then buying this style of headphones is a foregone conclusion, and you’ll likely have them on all day to listen to music.

On-ear

These headphones don’t cover the entire ear, hence the name.

These can have the over-the-head band or around the back of the neck. What matters is the coverage of the ear itself.

On-ear headphones are a middle-of-the-road choice. They’re smaller than over-the-ear, making them more portable, at the cost of sound quality. This doesn’t mean all headphones in this category are worthless.

Check out sites with bestseller lists and ratings to get an idea of which on-ear headphones rise to the top of the pack.

In-ear

In-ear, or earbuds as they’re called, fit right in the ear.

Most of them will fit snugly, making this style the top choice for athletics. Headbands tend to slide off or squeeze the head too much, resulting in a headache.

Sound quality for this style is usually pretty good. On the flipside of that, it’s easy to drown out outside noise to the point you can’t hear anything. That’s a problem if you’re out running on the street. So be safe and make sure your music isn’t too loud.

When it comes to portability, earbuds are the best. With a cord-minder, you can easily stash them in a pocket to be pulled out later. Great for trips too.

What Do You Want Most?

To keep pace with the evolving nature of entertainment, headphones have changed too.Headphones

With that change, there’s come some variables to take into account; sound quality, portability, and price.

You can’t have all three.

So which one is most important to you?

Sound Quality

There’s sound quality and then there’s sound quality.

Those who want the best sound quality will go with the latter.

When it comes to finding headphones that deliver top sound quality, you’re likely to go with over-the-ear headphones, and expensive ones too. There’s a litany of things you need to know in order to understand what makes good sound quality.

Once you’ve mastered that, you also need to know how to set up your sound system to deliver the best sound quality your headphones can deliver.

Portability

At their inception, headphones were meant to be carried around with you. But that’s what they’ve evolved into.

Over-the-ear headphones are bulkier, bigger, and can easily get in the way when you’re not wanting to use them. This makes them an easy target when it comes to ruling out a style.

On-ear and earbuds tend to be a better choice. And earbuds being the best option. Earbuds are also great for athletics. They don’t bounce around and keep the extra weight down.

Price

It all boils down to money, doesn’t it?

A set of headphones may be perfect for you, only for you to rule them out because they’re too expensive.

Another frustrating facet when it comes to price is that while the headphones may deliver on sound, they may also break easily.

Just a few things to keep in mind.

Hearing Everything

HeadphonesWhether you’re looking for your next pair or trying to stream Drake, make sure you’re not paying too much for your internet. Look for the best internet bundles so you can save money there first that can then go to a better pair of headphones.

Even if it’s a difficult choice, taking the time to evaluate your options will pay off in the long run. Because once you’ve decided on a pair that’s right for you, you can sit back, turn on the music, and drift away.

1 Cool Technique to Breathe Away Frustration

1 Cool Technique to Breathe Away Frustration

During those moments of extreme frustration, anger, or confusion, the worst thing someone can say to you is “calm down, just breathe okay!”

This isn’t sound advice.

“Never in the history of calming down has anyone ever calmed down by being told to calm down.”

This quote has shown up in various permutations across the internet. Be it Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or some other social media platform, someone has said this. Or put it in a meme.

Commanding someone to calm down isn’t going to work.

It’ll likely have the opposite effect.

Breathe

What to Do?

There is nothing wrong with getting angry, frustrated, or confused.

A weird push has gone out these days to “not let things get to you.” While that would be great, we live in an imperfect world. We’re imperfect people.

You’re going to get angry.

Don’t run from it.

(On the flipside, don’t use it as an excuse to get mad about anything and everything)

Instead, know that people, events, even movies, will make you angry.

When that happens, and it feels as if the whole world is against you…

Or you can’t believe someone can be that stupid…

Or the bottom fell out…

Breathe.

A “Secret” Breathing Technique

This breathing technique, believed to be popularized by the Navy Seals, uses a natural function of your own body to interrupt and reset your most powerful resource.

It’s your mind.

By breathing, adjusting the rhythm and pace of your breathing, your mind will react in a positive way.

At first, this was called a “secret” technique, but given there’s plenty of articles, posts, and even this clip-

-it’s safe to say the technique isn’t all that secret anymore.

What matters is practicing this technique and utilizing it when you read about yet another politician saying something stupid.

 

How to Breathe

Mark Divine, the author of the Time article above, dubbed it “Box Breathing.” (I’m not sure who came up with the technique, but it gained in popularity after that article)

Inhale for four seconds.

Hold your breath for four seconds.

Exhale for four seconds.

Hold for four seconds.

Repeat.

And continue to repeat until you feel your head clear.

(Tom Wolfe, the instructor in the clip, uses a five count. The four-count has worked for me. Try out both to see which one is more effective for you)

I speak from experience when I say that this does help, indeed, clear my head. Once my heart rate slows, I’m able to be more rational. I can recall a few specific times that I wasn’t “calm” after doing the Boxed Breathing. I was more rational though, so that’s a plus!

Make sure you don’t do a long count though. Unless you want to pass out. That would be a little extreme.

More Than Just Calming Down

Boxed Breathing, if you want to keep calling it that, is helpful for more than just clearing your head.

This technique is useful for stressful situations of any kind.

When I’m writing and the words just aren’t coming, I sometimes focus on my breathing to clear my head. Once my head is cleared, the words come easier.

It’s not a “magic bullet” for any sort of anxiety, but a tool to help take the edge off.Breathe

I’ve also used a modified version for running. Don’t do a four count, but a three or a two-count. I’ve tried it on runs before and even did it this morning to confirm this hypothesis. My head does clear a little and I’m able to work past the pain in my legs to keep going. This is how I’ve managed to improve my pace.

I’m no cross-country star, but it’s at least getting me through my half-marathon training. We’ll see if it helps when I run the entire 13.1 miles.

Boxed Breathing is also helpful for tests.

A nice little side-gig I had was proctoring tests. Texas has these standardized tests twice a year. For a good day’s pay, I got to proctor and monitor students testing.

One such student, whom I was informed had anxiety issues, would breathe in a certain rhythm. She started this before the test began and continued until she completed it.

Then she looked very relieved.

I’m not sure if it was Boxed Breathing, but it worked for her.

Prep

There’s no need to prepare for this, it just takes focus to time the breathing.

It can be used in anticipation of those special events where you know you can get aggravated. Start timing your breathing—in for four, hold for four, out for four, hold for four—and keep that up as long as necessary.

If you keep you breathing quiet, no one will notice.

Another situation you can use it in is when that “special” someone starts talking and your blood immediately starts boiling.

In for four.

Hold for four.

Out for four.

Hold for four.

Repeat.

They can keep talking while you work to keep your head clear. When they’re done spouting whatever insanity they take as fact, you’ll be ready. You can then add your opinion, or maybe not say anything at all.

And just walk away.

Boxed Breathing is a helpful tool that requires no extra gizmos or apps to use, just a little practice.

There are other breathing techniques, from the Navy Seals and other fitness professionals, that you can use to keep your head clear in the moment. Just make sure to bundle your internet first. Look for the best cable and internet deals in your area so you can save money, time, and frustration.

And the next time someone stupidly tells you to “calm down,” you’ll already be breathing and clearing your head so you can articulate exactly what you’re feeling.

As well as how ignorant they are.

The 1 Way to Succeed on Twitch and YouTube

The 1 Way to Succeed on Twitch and YouTube

Monetizing a live-stream is seen as a legitimate career these days. Simply set up an account on Twitch, YouTube, or both, and just be yourself.

It’s…not that easy.

For those who assume acting is easy, simply ask any aspiring actor if they think acting can be done by anyone. Hopefully, they’re not offended and will just laugh at you.

The same with comedy. To quote the great Robin Williams’ “Of course you have to know comedy. Because if you tell a joke and they don’t laugh, then you know tragedy.”Live-stream

Streaming content is the newest version of creating entertainment. The upside is that it’s easy to get into. The downside is that this creates a saturated market.

Voices are easily lost in a market that’s brimming with people trying to get attention.

To get those coveted followers it takes a lot of time and effort.

Without a direction, however, even time and effort can be wasted.

Know Your Topic

I’ll admit, I have no skills when it comes to playing online games. The last time I touched a Halo game I barely scored one kill.

When it comes to researching, organizing, and telling a story, that’s where my real abilities lie. Thus, I’ve given up on video games and instead have focused on reading books, reading about writing, writing, talking with other writers, editing, and writing some more. The upside of all this is that I’ve now landed a job where someone pays me to do this all day.

It’s still a challenge.

Putting words on the screen every day requires hard work and discipline.

Working through horrible drafts is just part of the process of getting to the right one.

Now let’s replace writing with live-streaming. The same advice applies; keep working at it.

You’ll also learn some surprising things about yourself.

For example; my boss asked me how long it would take to complete an article consisting of 800 words. I ballparked it at four hours.

He blinked at me and said, “You’re the first person to use a number.”

And I got the job.

You don’t have to be an expert, you just need to know more than the average person.

Create Genuine Connections

This one has always proved difficult for me.

Since I’m good with writing and rewriting, and editing, and rewriting, talking to people face-to-face can be daunting. It may seem obvious, but making friends wasn’t my forte as a child.

When I worked to make people like me, I came across as a fake. And worse, desperate.

No one wants to be friends, or do business with, a desperate person. And those that do are going to take advantage of you.

Instead, working to find a personae or a particular schtick helped make it easier to interact and relate to strangers. It was subtle at first, and at times overblown. With time I honed it. It’s not as difficult as it used to be and I still work on it from time-to-time.

By being genuine you create genuine relationships.

Genuine relationships lead to a solid fan base.

Do Your Research

Once you’ve discovered what works for you, hone it, develop it, work on it.Live-stream

This means, as bad as it sounds, that you much do research.

Yes, research.

Looking for relevant information and data that are relevant to your topic takes time.

If you’re at least interested in the topic, then researching it will seem less arduous. In fact, it may even be fun.

I enjoy reading books not just for the stories, but to see how the author tells them. Soon I plan on taking Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass on writing.

If you neglect research, you run the risk of losing your audience. This links back to the “being a fake” mentioned earlier.

The best comedians still do it. Jerry Seinfeld, when his hit sitcom ended, went back to doing standup. It helped him figure out new material, find what worked for him, and as he says, get back to his roots.

Then You Can Think of Monetizing

Technology, though amazing, does lull us into this false belief that things will happen quickly. We stream movies and music instantly. Every time you tap an icon on your smartphone you get a little dopamine rush from completing a task and completing it quickly.

Getting into writing has taken me years. There were times I considered quitting. Thankfully, I’d started, and quit, a lot of things before then. I’m tired of repeating that process. I’m also a father now and constantly “searching for myself” does not work well with trying to raise a child.

It also helps that I enjoy telling and sharing stories. I’ve also been told I’m good at it. And now someone is paying me to do it. Took about three years to get here, but better late than never, right?

So if you decide that a career as a streaming personality or entertainer is for you, then go for it. Be prepared for a long road filled with tough times.

In the meantime, to ensure your connection is fast so you can stream uninterrupted, check out internet bundle deals.

 

“You can start any ‘Monty Python’ routine and people finish it for you. Everyone knows it like shorthand.” —Robin Williams

Switching to a Hobby

Switching to a Hobby

The United States Marine Corps is known for their tough attitude and warrior ethos. Marines are trained to fight and to endure the toughest of conditions.

Imagine my surprise when a friend of mine, while an active-duty Marine, detailed that it was here, amid the most ardent defenders of our Nation, that he learned to knit.

Knitting?

I was much younger at the time and very ignorant, so I laughed.

He smiled back and told me it was therapeutic.

Even ten years later he’s still knitting as a pastime.

Part of the reason, as it was explained to me, was because the action of knitting put his mind at ease and kept his hands busy, causing his body to relax.

It’s still unclear to me if this was part of his boot camp training or he’d learned it from another Marine. What is clear is the concept of a hobby that provides respite and comfort.

Good for the Body

When the nerves are jangling, or something is keeping your mind occupied, a hobby is a good way to distract yourself. There is the argument that taking yoHobbyur focus off the problem won’t help you find an answer, this isn’t true.

By keeping our mind locked in on a problem that we’re trying to fix, we’re using up all our brain power, and not allowing our mind to process what’s going on. Taking our focus off an issue, even for a short time, allows the creative side of our minds to handle it while the front of our brains can handle something else. Therefore, the advice to “sleep on it” is so helpful. Our minds will bounce the issue around our subconscious while our bodies get some rest.

Upon waking the creative side has had a chance to come up with possible solutions.

The downside is sometimes our problems crop up in our dreams.

For the Marine mentioned above, knitting distracted him from issues he was facing and allowed him to keep a cool head.

Hobbies, by and large, have this effect on us.

This distraction is helpful as we’re able to distance ourselves from problems in our lives, our jobs, and with our families.

But there are more benefits to hobbies, for now, let’s focus on implementing one.

Switching to a Hobby

The Switch Framework (insert link to post) is helpful when it comes to implementing a new hobby into your life.Hobby

First, find a hobby you enjoy. This is how you’ll motivate the elephant. Once you’ve figured out a pastime that you look forward to, head to the internet to find resources.

With its ability to connect people all over the world, the internet is a great place to find fellow enthusiasts. These hobbyists are always eager to lend a helping hand, give advice, or share ideas with their passions.

This is how you’re direct the rider and shape the path.

There’s a hidden benefit to all this.

As the internet of today seems to be a swamp filled with angry people all eager to scream their opinions, as well as blast those of others, hobbyists are the opposite. Instead of trying to scare or berate, hobbyists instead are eager to “talk shop.” It’s not about winning a political debate for them, it’s about helping a fellow enthusiast enjoy the craft.

Which Hobby to Pick?

Much like my marine friend, there are hobbies that occupy the hands; knitting, crochet, basket weaving, etc. There’s also hobbies for history buffs, kids, crafty people, outdoor adventure seekers, sports junkies, music lovers, nature lovers, families, hobbies to sharpen your mind, and also, hobbies that can earn you money.

HobbyThe key here is to find something that you like to do, is relatively easy to get started, and can fit into your schedule. The scheduling part will be hard at first, as you’re going to be figuring out the nuances of the hobby, as well as how it fits into the nuances of your life.

Refer back to the Switch Framework, as well as relying on your fellow enthusiasts to keep you going. Getting started is the most exciting part of a hobby and can also be the hardest.

Once the newness wears off, sticking with it can get difficult. This may also be a sign that this hobby isn’t for you. That’s okay. Just as it’s important to find what you like, it’s also important to find out what you don’t like.

Connect to a Bigger Network

Finding a network of fellow hobbyists can make all the difference between discovering, and sticking, with a new hobby.

New worlds await you as you begin your search for your new hobby. Before you do, check out the best internet bundles. By bundling your internet you can secure a better connection as well as save some cash for that new hobby!

3 Things to Know about the Peak TV Era

3 Things to Know about the Peak TV Era

The Era of Peak TV is still going strong.

First, it was broadcast channels, and it was not enough.

Then came cable television, and it was better, but not still not enough.

Now we have streaming networks, internet TV, and more ways to get new and scripted shows.

In 2015, the head of FX, John Landgraf, dubbed this the Era of “Peak TV.”Peak TV

Not just TV, but the abundance of scripted shows. And Landgraf warned that if there were more than 500 that would be “the peak.” After that, there would be too many scripted TV shows to go around.

Too many options of what to watch.

As a result, the bubble would burst and we’d see a sharp decline in scripted television.

By some counts, there are more than 500 scripted shows on television right now.

We’ve passed Landgraf’s limit.

So…what happens now?

While some networks, like Freeform and MTV, have switched from scripted programs to reality, the trend hasn’t quite caught on. Networks and streaming services, the most obvious being Netflix, are still churning out new shows. And while viewers can take advantage of this with internet bundle deals to make the most of cable and internet, the bubble still appears intact.

With no end in sight, the Era of Peak TV marches on.

But what does that really mean?

The Good

As stated previously, there is an abundance, a plethora, a deluge of scripted television to watch.

Either broadcast, cable, or streaming, there is something that is bound to catch your attention and draw you in. Gone are the days when you had to wait for the show to air on it’s selected channel and night. And worse than that, if you couldn’t watch it, you had to set the timer on your VCR to record it and hope that a power outage wouldn’t screw that up.

Now we are blessed with DVR, on-demand, and best of all, streaming.

Thanks to these services, creators have produced more shows to fill the demand. Or was it the other way around?

Peak TVWhichever came first, the point is that the ability to watch a show when you want necessitates an excess of television.

To meet that need, big names like Judd Apatow and Shonda Rhimes have been wooed to subscriber-based television to produce shows that a dedicated audience will pay for. If they watch everyone single one of them or not at all, it doesn’t matter. These services have provided a better outlet for producers and writers to create the shows they want to create.

The Bad

The downside of this abundance is the quality of the shows being produced.

With any group, no matter how big or small, there will be top performers and bottom performers. When there were few shows, the bad ones were easily weeded out and replaced with ones that might do better. Now, with the 500+ shows available, that means there will be a lot of bad ones out there.

Since those shows are already paid for, you might end up wasting your money on them.

Another facet of this is that the scriptwriters are the ones who are apparently suffering.

Since more shows are being created, they tend to come in smaller packages. The old 22-episode seasons of a sitcom or drama is not the typical format you’d find these days. Instead, we’re seeing eight, ten, thirteen-episode seasons. A writer will usually be paid by the show or for a set number of episodes. If there are fewer episodes, that means a smaller paycheck.

The simple answer would be to just write for more shows, but that will lead to burn out and a decrease in quality. This ties back to the previous item of bad shows being produced.

One last thing- option overload.

With so many shows available it’s hard to decide on which show to watch. Some nights you might find yourself debating which show to watch and end up not watching anything.

When Will It End?

We may have passed Landgraf’s omen of 500 shows, but there’s no telling how long it will last.

500 shows this year could mean little. Next year there might be 550, and the year after that 600. Maybe then we’ll find out if the bubble will pop. Another possibility is that we may hover around 500 for a few years and then see the bubble pop.

There’s no way of telling.Peak TV

Having access to nearly 500 shows isn’t a bad thing. We get to see a wealth of stories and expand our creativity more.

Another downside is the price that all this entails: To get access to this wealth of engaging stories means having to pay for more than one subscription.

This is on top of already paying for cable and internet. So then why not pay less for both? Save yourself some money while you download the latest episode by checking out internet bundle deals.

Switch your provider or plan, and you’ll be in the best spot to enjoy all the Era of Peak TV has to offer.

6 Parts of Comic Book Prestige

6 Parts of Comic Book Prestige

If you’ve heard of comic books, then you were meant to buy one.

Long before Paul Rudd donned the Ant-Man suit, Robert Downy Jr. the Iron Man armor, Brie Larson the Captain Marvel suit, and Chadwick Boseman the Vibranium suit of Black Panther, there were comic books. These simple collections of panels and word bubbles were the precursors to some of the greatest movies ever made.

More importantly, they would have never existed had it not been for some of the greatest storytellers to ever live.

Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and many more got their start in comic books. Their imagination and ideas gave voice and body to what we consider “heroes.”

Thanks to the rise of digital readers, movies, and video games, it’s hard to find a legitimate print comic book. Which is why owning a print comic book carries with it a certain amount of prestige.

You don’t get this type of prestige from playing a game or watching a movie and television. It comes from the experience of reading a comic book itself.Comic Books

Legacy

A comic book is more than a comic book the same way a car is more than just a means of getting from point A to point B.

Cars say something about the person who drives them.

Comic books say something about the person reading them.

Unlike video games and movies, which you play and can only talk about or watch clips of, comic books can be shared with others. The stories on the page can speak to people in different ways and this can open the door for a much wider range of conversation.

And you’ll still have time to catch the latest movie or game.

The Look

You’ve heard of a pair of shoes that make an outfit? The same is true of a comic book. They set the newbies apart from the true enthusiasts.

Be careful here.

Don’t go out and buy one comic book and carry it around thinking this will set you apart. It may work for a little while, but soon everyone will catch on. Not to mention other true enthusiasts will figure it out and you’ll be called out as a fake. So fair warning.

Lifestyle

The average price of a comic book ranges between $4-$6, and graphic novels running about $20 per collection. Thanks to their cost-effective nature they provide more entertainment than movies and video games.

Label

There are Marvel and DC, the two biggest names in comic books right now.

It’s easy to attach yourself to one over the other, as there are those who read only one comic publisher and nothing else. But don’t limit yourself too early. There are other titles out there that are just as entertaining as the latest Captain America.

Try out Image Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Antarctic Press, Top Cow Productions, and Aspen Comics, to name a few.

These provide rich stories and high-quality art that too many in the mainstream ignore.

Livelihood

Just like your smartphone, you need to take care of your comic books.

Unlike your smartphone, they’re easier to take care of. Just don’t get them wet and store them on a shelf when you’re not using them.

No Charge cords needed.

Luxury

Of the many status symbols out there, few match comic books.

By purchasing the latest issue of The X-Men, Superman, even Fathom, you’re signaling to the wider world, without shouting, that you’re part of an elite club. The club that reads the newest stories before they become movies.Comic Book

How Do You Join this Elite Club?

The good news is that joining this club is easy. There may not be a comic book store conveniently located nearby, but you can go online to find honest and friendly comic book resellers.

Mycomicshop.com, Mile High Comics, Midtown Comics, and Things From Another World are online comic shops that will take care of you. Simply visit their home pages to check out the newest issues and any deals they have going on.

Every comic shop will have the newest issues available, but the good ones will have a wide selection of back issues, issues that were published already. Any extra issues that don’t sell end up here and a large amount of them will sell for decent prices.

If you’re looking for that specific issue you missed, then you’re in luck with an online comic shop. You’ll have to do a little research to find which issue you’re looking for, but you’ll most likely find it. If it’s a rare issue, be prepared to pay extra.

Thanks to back issues, if you miss the latest issue, you’ll be able to catch up or get up to speed on the backstory of what’s happening with your favorite titles.

Prestige Awaits You

It takes time to build up knowledge, and by extension, prestige.

Therefore, the sooner you start, the better.

You can even stream newest issues of titles from the major comic book publishers. Before you do, make sure you have the best connections at the best prices by checking out the best internet package deals.

In no time at all, you’ll be reading up on the newest and greatest superheroes from the comfort of your own smartphone. Better yet, have them delivered to your door!

Those around you will be envious of your prestige!

The 8 Biggest Anti-Amazon Prime Day Contenders

The 8 Biggest Anti-Amazon Prime Day Contenders

Today is Amazon Prime Day if you haven’t noticed.

What is Amazon Prime Day? It’s the day that Amazon opens its doors to all its Prime members to get deep discounts on select products, deals, and services. If you’re not a Prime member, you don’t get to enjoy Amazon’s version of “Black Friday in July.”

Check out our previous post, 6 Steps to Finding the Best Deals for Amazon Prime Day to find out how you can get the most out of what’s left of this thirty-six hour day of sales.

And even if you don’t have a Prime Membership, there are plenty of other retailers looking to take the wind out of Amazon’s sales by offering their own special deals on Amazon’s special day.

Who are they?

More importantly, how do you take advantage of these deals?

Massdrop

Massdrop is the online home for hobbyists and enthusiasts. From quilting to cooking to technology, Massdrop is geared towards finding and producing top quality products to help you get the most out of your hobby.

It’s an online store that’s even more exclusive than Amazon. The good news is that you can join for free to get in on their Anti-Prime Day deals.

eBay

Unlike Amazon, an online retailer, eBay is an online marketplace for people to sell their goods and wares. It may be semantics, but everyone on eBay is a reseller. A very large community of indie stores have set up shop on eBay, more so that Amazon. eBay is free to shop, no special membership required to take advantage of their deals.

Right on eBay’s homepage is the Daily Deals button to let you know who’s got sales going on and for how long. Don’t miss it!

GamestopAmazon Prime Day

Either in their physical stores or online, Gamestop has deals running throughout today and tomorrow. Check their weekly ad and the Deal’s section of their website to find out where the deals are and how to get the most out of them.

B&H Photo

Amazon Prime DayThis online retailer focuses on photography and video. This also means they branch out to computers, TVs, camcorders, lighting, and more.

Click on their Specials tab to check out B&H’s deals and sales for today.

Google Store

Google, not wanting to be outdone by one of their biggest competitors in the virtual assistant market, has offers for this day as well.

Check out their personal store to find their deals. They don’t have a centralized listing of them though, meaning you might have to guess which ones are discounted. It’s not very time efficient. Their products are also discounted in stores as well.

To do this you’ll have to search each page individually, on your own internet browser. If you’ve managed to land one of the best internet deals, this shouldn’t be much of a problem.

Razer Game Store

This online game retailer allows you to buy physical copies of your favorite game or download it directly to your platform of choice.

Razer has conveniently compiled all their deals and sales on their homepage for you. There’s more available, but the top ones are put on the homepage. There’s no need for a centralized list here!

Target

Some of the deals you’ll find with Target are at their physical stores, and some are online only. Simply visit Target’s homepage, click on the Weekly Ad tab and type in your zip code to find the deals available at your nearest Target store.

Microsoft

Similar to Google, Microsoft hasn’t put together a centralized list of their sales and deals for Amazon Prime Day. Again, you’ll have to search product by product to find out if there’s a deal going on or not.

Some Help

Thanks to sites like The Verge, CNET, PC Mag, and others, there are ongoing lists of deals both on and off Amazon that will help you find the best deals for this day.

There are also a host of third-party sites that notify you of deals going on. Simply pick the one you feel most comfortable with and set up which products, or sellers, you want to watch for deals and sales.

There’s Tech Bargains, Offers.com, Slickdeals, and much more!

Get a jump on Christmas

Amazon Prime DayIt may seem as though Amazon is trying to set up their own special shopping day in the middle of summer, but there are some positives to this whole thing too.

For one, Amazon is simply clearing out merchandise for the coming holiday season. As more and more stores are trying to milk Christmas, you’ll start to see holiday selling season start earlier and earlier.

Two, you’ll be able to take care of some holiday shopping. It’s a little absurd to be shopping for Christmas now, that’s understandable. Look at it another way, you’re able to take a little stress out of your holidays now by getting a few gifts or items purchased now.

Lastly, with Amazon creating this artificial holiday in the middle of summer vacation, other stores are responding to it. This means they’re going to be offering deep discounts and deals to compete with Amazon.

And with sellers compete on price, be Amazon, Google, or anyone else, you end up winning!

How to Win an Online Debate

How to Win an Online Debate

I have family members who voted for Trump.  In the days after the election, I got into heated political debates with people who were very close to me.  I’m pretty sure a lot of us have.  At some point, we have all probably looked around at the people closest to us as if for the first time.  How could those we thought we knew see the world in such a light?  Has everyone gone nuts?

Full disclaimer: I didn’t vote for Trump, nor do I agree with much of his politics.  I’m what people on the right might call a “liberal snowflake,” though I think I do little to encourage the label.  You won’t find me spouting non-stop anti-Trump rhetoric on social media or engaging in meme wars with Trump supporters.  Sometimes, though, my frustration gets the best of me and I can’t help but post something political.  War always ensues.  Oops.

Divisive times

I detest the direction that social media discourse has taken.  Everything is so damn heated – so divisive.  People who suffer from a you’re-either-with-us-or-against-us mentality tend to be the loudest voices, the ones leading the public discourse.  Casual browsing of the Facebook News Feed has the potential to turn into World War III.

Perhaps that is as it should be.  There is nothing intrinsically wrong with debate and argumentation.  Part of the goal of education, the very cornerstone of civilized society, is to fortify men and women to be able to hold their own within the free market of ideas.  Being able to think for yourself and to hold fast to your convictions is part of life.  After all, what good is a person who can’t stand up for what they believe in?

Social media merely provides a forum for such a marketplace of ideas to exist.  Each of us has a platform and a powerful one at that.  We’ve all heard stories about people who have been fired from jobs or publicly shamed for ideas (or a lack thereof) expressed online.  For instance, consider the fact that 70% of employers utilize social media as a means of screening job candidates.  Over a third of employers have reprimanded or fired an employee for sharing inappropriate content on social media.  That’s part of the power of our individual online platforms.

The role of doubt in civil discourse

Words and ideas have power.  They carry consequences both good and bad.  I try to live by the philosophy that it is best to listen before speaking.  Attempting to fully understand the topic at hand and all opposing viewpoints is vital to having an informed position.  The fundamental tenet behind this philosophy is doubt.

Doubt is the engine behind progress.  When we experience doubt – whether it’s doubt of our own convictions or the notion that there is no better way to live or function – we allow room for input and growth.  The awareness that we don’t know everything is what propels us to learn and expand our consciousness.  What motivation is there to learn more if we remain seduced by our current level of understanding?

In a debate, doubt has the effect of promoting humility and, consequently, civility.  People tend to be a lot less hot-headed when the idea that they don’t know it all is rumbling around in their heads.  There’s always that little hesitation: what if I’m wrong?  Indeed.  Allowing doubt to inform your style of online debate has the effect of calming you down.  It keeps your ego in check and sets the tone of your argumentation.  You’re more apt to listen to an idea before dismissing it outright – and that’s a positive!

Etiquette of online debate

Think about what it takes to convince you of something.  If someone is trying to sell you on an idea, what qualities must they possess in order to make an impression?  What do they have to say and how do they have to say it?  Those are the same qualities that you must embody to make convincing arguments online.

Spelling, grammar, and coherency

That your arguments should generally follow the rules of grammar and not contain blatant spelling errors goes without saying, but you wouldn’t know it from reading many online comments.  For some reason, when posting online, people toss out what they learned in high school English class and resort to slapping together words and phrases that just don’t make any sense.  If you’re going to do something, do it right.  Take time to spellcheck your comment before posting it.  Read it back to yourself a couple of times before hitting “enter.”  People will take what you have to say more seriously if you do this.

Evidence

Lawyers present evidence to make a case.  They don’t make claims or assertions without backing them up with facts.  Think of yourself as a lawyer when debating online.  Unqualified declarations tend to be met with skepticism.  It’s very easy to copy and paste a link or to mention a news source within a comment.  This makes your assertions more credible.  A word of caution: be on the lookout for “fake news” sources.  Stay away from those.

Attitude

When people get fired up, they tend to adopt a tone that is not conducive to civil discourse and intelligent debate.  The tone of the conversation quickly devolves.  Be aware of the tone and attitude you display.  There’s no need to get so emotional.  Keep the scope of the argument in perspective.  Take it easy.  Presumably, you present some real ideas to be contended with.  Don’t sacrifice the merits of your argument by adopting a less than adult-like tone.

Wrapping it up

Know when enough is enough.  Sometimes there’s just no winning.  People can be persuaded, but let’s be real: the odds are not in your favor.  The whole point of online debate is not necessarily to convince the person(s) you are debating with of your position, but rather to challenge ideas and test them out.  The point is to engage in meaningful dialogue.  It’s important to recognize when that dialogue has run its course and there is nothing more to be accomplished by protracting a back-and-forth.  Learn to let it go.

Admissions

It’s okay to admit you’re wrong or that you don’t know something.  This goes back to doubt.  When you give yourself permission to admit that you are wrong or uninformed, you progress the goal of the debate, which is to have civil discourse.  Newsflash: nobody actually believes that you know everything.  So why pretend?  You know that feeling of being tensed up at your computer, hammering out some snarky, know-it-all comment?  That goes away, and life just becomes easier.  You can finally breathe.

The No-Nos

Now that we’ve covered the things you should do, let’s get into the nitty-gritty and discuss the things you shouldn’t do in an online debate.  Think about what qualities turn you off to a person’s message and the way it’s delivered.  What causes you to dismiss a person outright?  Here are the no-nos of online debate.

Profanity

Swearing has its place in the larger context of language and communication.  Who doesn’t appreciate a good curse word here and there?  Well-placed profanity can provide the perfect emphasis to a point you’re trying to make.  Unfortunately, it has little to no place in effective, reasonable debate.  Context is key, of course, but try to think about the last time you read an online comment with swearing that didn’t devolve into name-calling and insults.  Can you think of one?  Me either.  Textual conversations are so easily misinterpreted without the instant visual feedback present in a face-to-face conversation that even if you don’t intend to offend by using profanity, you’re better off just leaving it out altogether.

Memes and GIFs

The Internet is meme-crazy!  There’s a meme or a GIF for just about every topic.  That doesn’t mean they are always effective at facilitating civil discourse or making a point.  Memes and GIFs tend to be punctuated, humorous, and snarky in tone.  They should be avoided.  Of course, there are exceptions, but generally, there are more effective ways of communicating ideas.  Use your words.

Trolling

In the context of online debating, trolling typically takes the form of making incendiary comments to get a rise out of the person you are arguing with.  Don’t do it.  Plain and simple.  Engaging in this behavior is not part of a good debate strategy.  It’s just annoying.

Personal insults

You know you’ve hit a low point in decorum when the words “idiot,” “moron,” “jerk,” or worse come out.  Tempting as it may be to hurl a good insult at someone, it is also extremely childish and does nothing to advance your point or the conversation.  Though you wouldn’t know it from watching our current political leaders on both sides of the aisle in their back-and-forth, insults and name-calling are not good ways to make a point.

Bullying

No.  Just, no.  Bullying is cruel, malicious, and in many cases, illegal.  Cyberbullying laws are put in place to prevent this kind of discourse.  On the hierarchy of effective communication, this type of engagement is the lowest of the low.  If you see someone bullying another person online, speak out.  There is no excuse for this behavior.

Final Thoughts

Staying away from political debate or any other type of argument online is sort of a win in itself.  However, there’s nothing wrong with engaging in stimulating, invigorating, and challenging conversation.  Debate, if done correctly, is a hallmark of critical thinking and public discourse.  If you’re going to do it, do it well.  The tone of our social and political climate is not at a high point right now.  Do your part to rise above it.  Set the example.  You may just convince someone yet.


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