Going on Vacation? Configure Email and Mobile Options on Blogspot

When it comes to blogging, many say that you should be regular in making posts on your blog. As a matter of fact, this should be followed by all who are into serious blogging. The reason for the existence of this rule is quite easy to understand. The visitors of your blog expect new and fresh content from you. If they do not find this new content, definitely they are going to find other places where they will be able to get content. As a Blogger, you would never want this to happen.

But, we are all living in reality and there can be situations when you will not be able to make posts to your blog on the scheduled dates. So the question is “How Do I Handle such Situations?

In this article, I will be discussing about using the Email section of the Blogspot. If you get into the backend of your blog (the Settings area) you would find a tab - "Email & Mobile" clicking this tab will display you the form where you can set the emails.

On this page, you will find two categories -
A. Email Notifications

This is the area which contains elements to capture the following inputs -

1. BlogSend Address
This is the place where you can place the emails for those whom you want to send the article you have just published on your blog.

As a Blogger, what is more important to you? Getting online visitors to read your content! Great. This is fine for many of us who need incoming traffic to get benefits (Any benefit is welcome!). But there are situations when you want to deliver the Articles that you write, to your community. As an example, let me say, you have a blog for your family. In such a case, you are not bothered about the traffic; instead, you are interested in getting the post/article to reach to your family members. Now, your parents, or someone in your family does not have access to your blog or maybe the person doesn't feel comfortable hooking on to the blog to read. So how do you make the posts reach to them? To sort out these issues, Blogspot provides you with the facility of sending out the post that you have just made as emails to all the addresses that you have put in this box.

How to Setup the BlogSend Address
In the text box provided against this option, type down the email IDs of all those people whom you want to send your posts as emails. Currently Blogspot has ONE restriction - You can use this space to send emails to 10 email IDs only. 

Using BlogSend to send to more people
In case you have a larger list of emails that the posts have to be sent, you will have to create a group on some free site like Google or Yahoo that gets you an email allotted. You can add all those people, whom you want to send the posts via emails, as members and then you can use the email provided for this group to send your post to all members of this group.

B. Posting Options
1. Email Posting Address
This is the place where you are required to place a secret word that will complete the special email on the blogspot. Any email sent to this special email address will get published or otherwise (depends on your settings).
Once you have provided the secret word and completed the special email ID, any emails sent to this email ID will be used for Publishing purposes. Apart from completing the email address, you will also be required to select any one of the following options -

a. Publish Emails Immediately
Select this option if you are sure that any posts made to this email ID will be published without the intervention of any other person. If you select this option, you have to be careful that only those who should publish on the blog should be aware of this special email ID. Otherwise, anyone who comes to know of this email ID can send a post and it will get published automatically. The chance of moderation of such content is ZERO, though you can delete the posts as normal but this might be too late. So the tip is - "Keep this special email ID known only to yourself and other authors on your blog".

b. Save emails as draft posts
Select this option in case you want the posts via emails to be moderated before they are actually published. This is not very fruitful for those times when you are away from Internet or Blogspot as the submitted articles will just pile up and the visitors will not get new content to read.

c. Disabled
Select this option in case you want to remove the feature of publishing via emails. Select this option when you are back from your vacation and will be able to access your blog online.

2. Mobile Devices
This is the place where you setup your mobile handset and blogspot to work together. This is best suitable in situations when you are going out on a vacation and chances are that you will not be able to make posts using blogspot or email.

But, if you have a handset that supports sending MMS, then you can stay connected to your blog.

Configuring the Handset
Click on the Add Mobile Device link on the page. You will be displayed an applet where in you will be shown a code. All you have to do is to send this code to go@blogger.com.

In case your handset doesn't support MMS then you can send posts via SMS also. However, as of now, this facility is available to US residents only. Just click on the SMS link on the Applet to display the requirements for authorization.

A Few Words of Caution
1. Consult the manuals of your handset to determine whether it supports MMS
2. Consult the Service Provider about the amount you will be charged for sending MMS
3. If you want to place pictures on your post via MMS, Photos are currently limited to 250K each. If they exceed that size, you'll receive a bounce message letting you know so you can try again with a smaller picture. Note that your phone (or carrier) might have size limits of its own.


Happy Blogging... And yes... Stay Connected!

Work From Home: Virtual Assistant

For all those who have been working as Assistants at offices, organizations and other business houses, the Virtual Assistant on the Internet has come up as a means to earn more from the privacy of your home. Also, you are not bound by the physical boundary which means staying at remote place in a country like India you can work for an organization at the U.S. or even U.K.

The requirements for starting working as a Virtual Assistant can be broadly categorized into two different skill sets -
A. The Soft Skills

This is the set of Skills that you need to have as a person. This is more related to your qualities, qualifications and prior experience. Following are some of the essential soft skills that you should have if you are interested to make a living out of this profession -

1. Fluency in the language your client/employer operates
In most cases, the employers who go for Virtual Assistants are from U.S. and U.K. which means that they operate in English. So you have to have a better command on not only the spoken part but also be able to write correctly. In case your employer has a different language, you have to have mastery on that language.

2. Communication Skills
As most of the work that you will be doing is as a Virtual Assistant, you have to be the one who has to keep reporting to your Employer instead of him/her chasing you to get stuff done. This means that you should be more open in initiating the discussions and meeting up the requirements of your job.

3. Ability to Analyze:
This becomes an essential factor as you grow with ay organization. You should have the ability to understand what is being said, what is expected and how you should go about meeting the requirements and expectations. You must be internet savvy and willing to do some research for the organization as well.

B. The Technical Skills

This set of skill needs you to be aware of the following

1. Office Productivity Tools
Generally this set of tools includes MS Office or Open Office packages. Some of the organizations are also into using Google Docs. So you have to consult with your employer to find out what tools they use. Once you know, you have to learn or master them. Mastering these tools is not that difficult as, in most cases, you would be required to work with Document Processors and or Spreadsheet Packages and/or Presentation Packages.

2. Chatting Software
You must also be aware of using chat applications like Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger, and also MSN Live. If you have been using the internet, it is quite likely that you already will have these tools on your computer. Just find out what is preferred in the organization for which you plan to start work.

3. Team Activity Software
Knowledge of an application that allows you to work in a group or as a part of a team is also essential. There are several tools available for this - Logmein, GoToMeeting and many others. You have to find out what your employer uses and learn (and maybe even install it at your local computer). In most cases you will be provided with the user id and other details once you join the organization.

4. Anti Virus and Firewall
As you will be logging on to another computer and be online for most of the time, your computer will remain vulnerable to cyber attacks or malware, Virus and Hackers. So, to protect yourself from these, you should have a good anti virus installed on your computer. Along with this, you should also have a firewall to protect you from hackers and malware. For antivirus you can read my earlier posts

C. Educational / Experience Background - Also Your Job Profile
Depending on the requirements of your employer, you should have any or all of the following

1. Writing
Many a times you would be required to write for the Employer. This writing of yours will be used in press releases, blogs, emails, updating text on web sites, etc. This means you should have a strong command on the language that your employer prefers.

2. Talking on the Phone
On a regular basis you will be required to make and attend call to the clients of your employer on his/her behalf. The purpose of this can be to let the clients know of the various up-coming proposals or generating prospects for the employers.

3. Country and Business Specific
You will be required to have knowledge in the areas of Accounting, bookkeeping, taxes, or anything else. For this you have to research for the available rules and regulations that are applicable to the Employers country. Remember that you are working for an employer at a different Country. So you have to familiar with their rules and law not just those prevalent in your country.

4. Technical Computer Work
Depending on the business of the Employer, you might also be required to build or maintain the website of your employers’ organization. This requires you to have knowledge of HTML, CSS, and other web technologies as required by the Employer.

5. Internal Research
You should be ready and willing to do competitor analysis, product comparisons, etc. which will help the Employer.

6. Event Planning
This is essential because most of the organizations have their own schedules and policies for vacations, meetings, seminars, etc. You should be able to manage this information.

In short as you see, most of the requirements involve the Human Resources. So I would suggest you to have some educational background and/or experience in the Human Resource Management if you are willing to take up this as a Profession.

Where to find the jobs?

1. Job Hunting Sites
There are a lot of sites on the internet that allow you to register with them and search for jobs that you can do from your home. Some of the reputed sites are odesk, rentacoder, getafreelancer. You can even do a Google search for finding more such sites.

2. Virtual Staffing Agencies

You can also register yourself with a virtual staffing agency like Team Double-Click. Team Double-Click offers a 30-day money back guarantee and puts their virtual assistants through a rigorous application process.

3. Virtual Assistant Associations

You can also register with Virtual Assistant Associations, like International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) and the Virtual Assistant Networking Association (VANA).

What Else Do I Need To Know
Once you are through the process and have been selected for the job, you should also have the following information

1. Mode of Payment
This refers to the method that the organization will use to pay you. In most cases, it is Paypal or Alertpay. But in some cases, it can be a payment directly to your bank account from the Debit or Credit Card of your employer. You can also ask them to find out if they do livewire transfer or you can use the western union money transfer.

2. The Taxation
You must also be aware of the taxes that you will be paying. In case of a Virtual assistant, when you work for an organization from another country, there are generally two Taxation rules that apply - one from the country where your Employer is based and the other prevalent in your country. I would recommend consulting a competent Tax Consultant who can guide you on what rules apply to you and how much do you pay.

3. When Will I Be Paid
This is the question that you should ask your employer before joining. Some pay on a week to week basis whereas some prefer to pay on a monthly basis. You cannot change the rules and policies of your employer organization but you should know that when you will be paid.

Is There Anything Else That I Need?

In case you are seriously considering working as a Virtual Assistant, I recommend you the following in addition to what you have -

1. A Stand-by Internet Connection
Just in case you have some troubles getting online with the one that you already have, you can use your backup and stay online. This is essential because, your being offline means that you are unable to work and this will never be liked by your employer.

2. Get Certified
There are a few programs that provide you with certifications. Here is a brief list of them
a. AssistU
c. VA Certification

3. Register in a Couple of Web Directories
To get noticed by the Employers, you can also get yourself registerd at the following web directories
a. Elite Office Support
b. Specialist Virtual Assistants Club
c. VA4U

4. Also join a few Support Groups
a. Virtual Assistant Networking Forum (VANF)
b. Virtual Business Group
c. Virtual Professionals.com
d. Real Estate Virtual Assistant (REVA) Network

Hope that you find this post useful and helpful. Contact me or provide your valuable feedback


Home Business: Starting a Placement Cell

A few weeks ago, one of my students seemed quite upset of the fact that his elder brother who was running the family, had been sacked and was now looking for a job. He was upset and needed help. he came to me with his problem and I asked him about the qualifications and experience of his brother and came to know that he was an accounting guy with about 7 years of experience. Having an experience in a related field is quite a plus point. I assured him that I will try helping him out and get him a job, may not be with the last salary that he was getting.

In a nutshell, here is how I was able to help him - Over the years, I have been in the industry, I have met people and maintained relations with them. So I am aware of what who is doing and I used this knowledge of mine to get a suitable job for my students' elder brother. Now he has joined the new firm from 1st Dec. 2009.

The point that I want to draw you attention to here, is that we all have contacts and our own social circle. We should be ready and open to helping out those who are in need and if that comes with some monetary benefits, why not avail them.

Over the period I have been thinking of using this knowledge to help out as many as I can. In today's Article, I will be telling you about a business plan that you can start with ZERO Investment and make money from it - all this from within the comforts of your home.

How Do I Start?

There are two different sets of people whom you have to trace out.

Set I - The first set is the set of people who are in need or looking for a job. These are the people who will actually benefit from your business.

Set II - The Second set is the set of people who is employed or working - In other organizations or have their own business. This set of people will help you in finding jobs for the first set of people.

How To Prepare The Set I

To start with, from the set of people you already know, you will need to identify your potential customers. Prepare a list of people under the following categories -
  • Students
  • Employed People
  • Unemployed People
  • Retired People
  • Kids
Now, try to sub-categorize these different categories as under - 
1. Students
    a. Who are nearing the completion of studies
    b. who will take some more years to complete the education
2. Employed People
    a. Find out people who are satisfied with their current job
    b. Find out people who are not satisfied with the current job
        i. Do they plan to switch jobs?
3. Unemployed People
    a. Looking for a Job
    b. Not Looking for a Job
4. Retired People
    a. Looking for a Job
    b. Not Looking for a Job
5. Kids
    No Subcategories here. Remember Child Labor is against Rules. So they are out of the scope.

Initially, just prepare a list from the people whom you know. Once you feel comfortable, you can use this set of categories to create a list of people in your locality.

Prepare the Second Set
Now that the list is prepared, you will need a second list of people. This second list of people will be primarily a list of Companies, Businesses and other Places where you can think to place the needy.

The Lists Are Prepared. What Next?

1. Once your lists are prepared, try contacting the second set of people first. The reason for this is that first you should be aware of the openings that are coming up or available so that you can fix up appointments for the needy. The primary goal of this information is to prepare your list of Clients who will be requiring the people.

2. Once you are done with this list, it is time to move to the next category (The one containing the details of people who are in need of Jobs). Contact them personally and ask them if they are interested and would like to take your help in finding a suitable job. Fix up their appointments with the first set and let them know. Wait for them to attend the interview and hopefully you will have a flourishing business soon.

The Steps and Process Seems Okay... How Do I Make Money Here?

That’s what is the next thing to be mentioned - How Do You benefit from all this. So here is how -

a. Charge the Candidates
If you want, you can charge on the services of placement that you are providing to those who are unemployed and looking for the job. These charges can include the following heads-

    i. A Registration Fee
     You can charge a registration fee from those who are looking for employment and keep this fee valid for about a year or so. This will help you in making an earning from day one. The negative side of this is that many people will not be interested as they are already jobless and making an investment is not always practical. I would recommend that initially, you do not put this condition. Do Not Charge the registration fee.

    ii. A fee after they  are placed
       Most of the Placement agencies these days charge about 50% of the first month's salary once the candidate is placed. So if you want, you can put this clause in the TOS between you and your candidate. Fix your own rates.

b. Charge the Organizations
A few of the companies take care of paying the Placement Organization. So if you come across a Business house that you can negotiate with, you can also try this out. Negotiate with them about the Payments that you can expect if you get them suitable candidates. Just keep this in mind and do not charge the candidates who get placed in such organizations as the organizations will pay you your fee.

What DO I Need To Start This Business?

Well, it depends on how big your approach is.

  1. To start with it, consult the rules and regulations prevalent at your locality. If needed, you will have to start with registration of the Business. Registration has its advantages as it brings credibility to your business. Candidates and Employers trust you more than they would have if you were not registered.
  2. Initially, you can start off from within your home. All you need is a room that you can use to setup your office - Where people can come and get information.
  3. If you are a computer savvy person, then you can put up a Computer at your office and maintain the lists in Spreadsheets, Documents
  4. A Printer - For issuing receipts and printed material (Like Forms, Letters)
  5. A Telephone Connection
  6. Business Cards
  7. A Set of Newspapers or anything that gives you information on the current job openings in your locality or town. This is an essential asset in your business. This will provide you with all the information that you can use to send candidates for attending interviews.
  8. I would also recommend you to take the help of a conultant - a Legal Advisor - who can frame out the TOS for your business.
How Much Money Can I Make From This?
To be honest, initially, the chances of getting higher profits are less. But if you are strong enough and willing to survive the low phase, then, over a period of about six months, your business should start growing. It depends on finding the right people at the right time at the right place. If these fall in correct places, you will be a success from day One.

You have to be patient in this and true to the people whom you are dealing with. This will help you in getting a Brand Name for your business.

Hope you found the article interesting and useful.

Awaiting your Feedback and comments.

Security: Computer Viruses Part II

This is the second and concluding part of my earlier post - "Security: Computer Viruses Part I", wherein I had discussed about the various types of computer viruses that are moving around just waiting for an opportunity to get into and infect your computer. For those who missed the first part, they can find it here.

In this post, I will be discussing some of the symptoms that will help you identify whether your are actually bugged and also what steps to take after the infection has been done.

Let me start with this - How would you come to know that you have been infected by a virus (biologically, I mean)? Obviously you would say there are always certain symptoms that will surface up and it will be only then that I would need to consult a doctor. The doctor will recommend some tests to perform and these will help the doctor in finding out what Virus I have been affected with and what should be the medicines that will help me get rid of the Virus Infection.

In the world of computers too, this is what the approach is. You have to look out for certain symptoms which will give you a hint that your computer has been bugged. Once you are sure of, you will need the services of a doctor (which again is a computer program)  that will help you out in tracing the exact virus. Once you know what the Virus is you can take an appropriate step to get rid of the virus.

Well, after using computers for about over 16 years, I have realized that finding out whether your system has been bugged or not is not that easy. However, there are some common traits that become eventually visible after infection –
  1. The computer runs slower than usual.
  2. The computer stops responding, or it locks up frequently.
  3. The computer crashes, and then it restarts every few minutes.
  4. The computer restarts on its own. Additionally, the computer does not run as usual.
  5. Applications on the computer do not work correctly.
  6. Disks or disk drives are inaccessible.
  7. You cannot print items correctly.
  8. You see unusual error messages.
  9. You see distorted menus and dialog boxes.
  10. There is a double extension on an attachment that you recently opened, such as a .jpg, .vbs, .gif, or .exe. extension.
  11. An antivirus program is disabled for no reason. Additionally, the antivirus program cannot be restarted.
  12. An antivirus program cannot be installed on the computer, or the antivirus program will not run.
  13. New icons appear on the desktop that you did not put there, or the icons are not associated with any recently installed programs.
  14. Strange sounds or music plays from the speakers unexpectedly.
  15. A program disappears from the computer even though you did not intentionally remove the program.
These are a few of the common symptoms that will indicate that your computer is bugged.

Oh no, My Computer is been Infected…. How Do I Cure my Computer?
Once you are sure that your computer has been bugged, you will need a doctor for finding out and curing the virus. The doctor for a computer virus is a software program called Anti-Virus Software. There a many brands available in the market.
Some of the anti virus programs
  1. Bit-Defender
  2. Kaspersky
  3. Webroot
  4. Norton
  5. AVG
  6. F-Secure
How Do I Select An Anti Virus?
The Anti Virus programs available in the market must be capable of being good doctors. In the sense they must be able to perform the following basic tasks -
  1. Help you in correctly Identifying the Virus
  2. Curing or getting rid of the Virus
  3. Have an online update feature with them so that they are always up-to-date with the latest virus programs that get written and also be able to cure them.
  4. Provide support and protection when you are online and connected to the Internet
  5. Read reviews at technical / review websites
  6. Consult your friends, colleagues and others if you are unsure.
Where do I get the Anti-Virus?
In the current scenario where software Piracy is on the rise, I would recommend you to go for a genuine copy for your anti virus software. This is because of the reason that it is your computer and your precious work is at stake. So do not compromise, even if you can get a copy for free or otherwise. In case your copy is genuine, you will benefit from the regular updates that will be launched by the vendor. You will also feel safe and secure. Keep in mind that the amount of investment that you are going to make is for one year and during this you are entitled to get all the new updates, new definitions and many a times some free upgrades.

Some Preventive Measures
Lastly, as they say, Prevention is better than cure, I would recommend youto do at least the following to keep yourself safe while using your computer -
  1. Enable the Email Scanning setting of your Antivirus. This will help your computer stay clean from getting infected via the emails.
  2. Scan all the external devices, like USB Drives, Floppies (does anyone use them anymore?) that you attach to your computer. Make it a regular habit or better, if your anti-virus program supports this, configure it to auto protect you.
  3. Stay away from porn websites, online gaming sites. These sites are the potential threats of getting infected via the internet. So it is better to stay away from them. I know many of you would be wondering Oh My God I have been playing online games...? Its alright, what I am trying to convey is just keep yourself protected. Have an antivirus that will provide you with protection.
  4. Keep a regular backup of all the work that you do on the computer. This is beneficial in case the worst happens and you lose all your data. I keep a monthly backup.
  5. Run a full computer scan at least once per Week. This is to keep your system clean from infections.
  6. If your Anti-Virus supports - Set the Update feature to at least daily. This keeps your Antivirus up-to-date.
Sources:Microsoft, TopTenReviews, PCAntiVirusReviews

Hope that this post was useful to you. I welcome your feedback and suggestions as always.

The first part of this article is here - Security: Computer Viruses Part I


Create Free Website Using Google Sites: Part III - The Home Page

"When I took office, only high energy physicists had ever heard of what is called the Worldwide Web.... Now even my cat has its own page."

    Bill Clinton, announcement of Next Generation Internet initiative, 1996

After you have made the appropriate selections and clicked on the Create Site Button, the chances are that your website will be created with the settings you have just made. Once the site has been created you will be shown the page (referred to as the Home page) for your website. This is the landing page for any visitor who is opening up your website.

The look and feel depends on the selections you have made. The Name of the Site (that you provided) goes in the header section of the page and below that is the description for your site that you added on the earlier page. If you did not provide any description earlier, do not worry for now. You can provide is when you want. We will see how.

The Home Page

The page that gets displayed to you after you click the “Create Site” button is the landing page for your website. The landing page for a website is generally the home page and it should be created with great caution as this page, in most of the cases, is the first page that a visitor gets to see when she/he arrives at your website.

The content and looks of the page depend on what settings have you specified during creation of the website. Depending on the selections -
1. If a Theme was specified -

2. If only a Template was specified - Depending on the template selected, the page will have a different look.

Note that the Theme has a higher precedence over the Template and during this tutorial series I will be discussing creating website with a theme selected.

The different sections in the current browser window for the Theme based Home Page are as under -
1. At the top Right side are the controls that can be used to manage the website.
2. Below those buttons, is the page for your website. In most cases, you will be displayed the home page for your website that you can customize to suite your requirements.

Now that the Home Page is available, the Next step is to customize this page. In case you have a template that is in effect, you will be taken to the page from where you will have to customize the different gadgets available. I will be discussing with a normal, theme based website. The Theme based website will give you a better idea of the things that are happening.

Customizing the Home Page
1. Click on the Edit Page button, available at the top right.
If you are not happy with the text "Home" on the page, you can change that to anything more meaningful and relevant. Then you can type out the content on the Home Page. For editing Google Sites displays you a full fledged editor using which you can format the text and perform most of the tasks that you intend to during editing of the document/page

The Editor provided with Google sites is a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) Editor and most of the functionality is similar to that of your favorite word processing application.

So what we have to do on this page right now is to type down the content on the main / home page and then apply the formatting to the different sections as needed.

Once you are done with the editing and formatting, click on the Save button at the to right hand corner of the browser window. This will make the changes permanent.

If you are interested to view how your website looks like to its visitors, you can select the “Preview As Viewer” option in the “More Actions” list. You can access the “More Actions” list by clicking the more actions button on the top right of the browser window.

As of now, do not bother about the sidebar and other links. They will be placed as we proceed along with the tutorial.

Try this out. In the next post I will be discussing how to manage your website - Creating additional pages and putting up the Photos, Links and other stuff that you would like to add more glitz to your website.

I welcome your feedback as always.


Create Free Website Using Google Sites: Part II

Today's  discussion is on the initial steps for creating your website with Google Sites. We will be setting up the Look and Feel factors for the website.

This is the second part of the tutorial. In case you have missed the first one, you can read it all here - Create Free Website Using Google Sites: Part I

To start creating the website, open up your browser and then open the URL http://sites.google.com/. In case you are not logged on into Google, you will be asked to login. You can log into Google Sites using your Gmail ID and password.

Once you have logged in, you will be displayed a page which you can use to create a website. In case you already have one or more website(s) with Google Sites, you will be displayed a list of all those sites. Using this page you can either create a new website or open up an existing website for modifications. As we are starting off for the first time, the page that follows the Login Screen looks something like this -

You need to click the Create Site Button to move on to the next page where you can specify the Template/Design for you webpage, the name of your  webpage and other things.

On this page you are supposed to specify the following -
1. Select the template for your website. A template is like a blueprint on which all other pages in your website will be based. You need one just because of the fact that it will bring homogeneity to the pages in your website and visitors will not feel different on each page. The use of a Template will also reduce the coding part to a great extent. Broadly, the templates are responsible for placing placeholders on the pages which will be later used to display content.

If the type of template you are looking for is not available in the list, you can click on the "Browse for More Templates" to display the entire range of templates that are available from Google Sites in a popup applet.

On this applet select the category on the left hand side of the panel to see the list of templates on the right hand side. Once you have decided on the template, double click the template to apply it for the website. This will close the applet and also apply the template for the website.

2.a. After specifying the template to be used, specify the name for your website. The name that you specify is actually the name that Google displays to you.
2.b. As you specify the name for your website, Google updates the URL for the website.

i. The URL of your website cannot contain anything except alphabets and digits. So I would recommend you not to use special characters - like periods, commas, hyphens, underscores etc. while naming the website.
ii. The name that you want for your website might not be available any more with Google Sites. In such a situation, Google will display you a list of its suggestions and alternatives. You can select one from the list provided or re-try with other names.
iii. The Name of your website and the URL may be different. There is no problem with that. Just keep in mind that the name is for your identifying your website whereas the URL name will be for use by the visitors.

3. Once the naming part is successfully completed, you can scroll down and specify a theme for your website. The Template will be concerned with the layout and positioning of the Placeholders whereas the Theme will control the color schemes, font patterns. In broader sense, themes have to do with presentation of the page and its content, that is, the content that you will be placing in the placeholders decided by the templates.

4. More Options
This is important. I do not why they have kept this hidden till you click the link. This section contains the visibility aspect of your website.

4.1. Type a description for your website.
4.2. In the Share with Section Select the Everyone in the world option just because you want your website to be visible to all on the internet. In case you wish to allow only a few people to be able to see your site, then select the Only people I specify can view this site
4.3 In case you are creating a website with Mature Content, DO NOT Forget to select this option. Google is strict in enforcement of principles and may ban your site if you publish mature content without this check box selected.

5. Once all the above have been done, type in the capcha
6. Click the Create Website button

That’s all there is to start with your website using Google Sites.

In the Next Post, I will be discussing the management of the website where in I will be covering up the front page for your website.

My recommendation: After you are done with this, spend sometime in having a look at your website and playing around with the different options available in the Site Manager.

Hope you enjoyed this part of the tutorial. I would welcome your suggestions and feedback as always.


Create Free Website Using Google Sites: Part I

Geocities is closed. About 75 Million web pages that were hosted with Geocities have gone down. The results can be severe just because so many websites are down. It is speculated that the SEO market will be revamped as Google is deciding on newer policies for the Optimization of Websites. It is heard that this time the Page Load factor will also be playing an important role in the page rankings from Google. Whatever it is, the benefit for the consumers or the visitors on the internet will be that the pages will load fast and quick... even for those with lesser speed of connectivity.

Now that geocities is gone, I was wondering where will people look for when they are need of websites for free? The obvious answer that came to my mind was Google Sites. The reasons for me to think this way are quite obvious - Google has been there for quite several years now and owns a major share of the search engines. So in the coming articles, I will be providing you information on how to build your own website with Google sites for free.

Do I Need A Web Space?
But as usual the first question that you should be asking is - "Do You Really Need a Web Space?” With all the social media sites that have been allowing you to showcase yourself on the internet, the availability of free blogs, the availability of online forums, online board rooms..... Do you still need more? If you are undecided then here is why you should go for a website -

1. A Student - If you are a student who is learning Web Development then you should have a web space. Apart from testing out, this will help you in practically understanding how the things work when you are working with real-time servers. You also come to know of the actual problems that you will be facing while working for clients.

2. A Freelancer - If you are a free lancer, you will need space on the web to create pages where you can put up some of your talents, skills, resume and all other things. You can also go for advertising yourself and this is going to help you in the long run. Blogs are okay but having a website that talks just about you and your expertise is something which is always appreciated.

3. An Organization - The organizations and companies always are in need of web space. They use the web space to reach out to their clients and increase their productivity. They also go for web space so that they can build an online community for their employees which can be used to add value to their organization.

4. An Advertiser - I know people who have been members of various social media sites and they use them to publicize their products or try catching referrals to build their down line. It seems okay as you might argue that social sites are to get social and make networks but on personal ground I think that the real sense of networking via social sites gets defeated when someone just sends spam messages asking you to join their network. I recommend them to use the web space for this purpose.

The Plus of Free Web space
1. There are no costs involved to rent the web space.
2. No Costs to pull up and register for a domain.
3. There is minimum of coding that is required. So even if you are unaware of the basics of website development, you can create a website for your own.
4. On the effectiveness aspect - You can showcase whatever you would have just like a normal website.
5. You are not bothered by the page rank, or the SEO factors that you would be concerned with, had your website been hosted on a Service Provider. This means you can opt for the other non-seo methods of bringing traffic to your free website. (Though I do not recommend it, but this can be done).

The Minus of Free Web Space
Yes, there are always two sides of a coin. And free web space does have its negatives too.
1. Your website will always be displayed within another website. This does have a negative with organizations or companies. So they should avoid getting their websites on such free web space providers.
2. The free web space providers do not provide you with support for server side scripting tools like the php or ASP.net. This has severe implications. You cannot create your own forms to store visitor feedback or information.
3. The free web space providers provide you with a fixed amount of space for a website - usually 100mb. This is okay to start with but in the long run, you may feel that this space is not enough.
4. The free web space providers generally do nor allow you to use the same name for the site after a year. This also creates a problem for those who want their websites to stay online for longer duration.

Getting Started with Google Sites
If you are decided to have a free web space for yourself, you can follow up the posts and by the time we are done, you will have you very own personal website with Google.

1. To start using Google sites, all you need is to have a Google account. An account with them can exist for any of their services. The best and most common used service is Google Mail. Create a gmail account if you do not have any.
2. I would recommend that you decide the theme or purpose of having your website. This will help you in doing the groundwork beforehand and you will be happy that you have had all the information with you before starting with the creation of your site. This can be the various Images, Text, Links, Sitemap and other things. Start Collecting.

In these tutorials, I will be explaining you how to create site for showcasing your personal and professional self to the world out there.

Good Luck.

Security: Computer Viruses Part I

“I think computer viruses should count as life.  I think it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive.  We’ve created life in our own image.”
– Stephen Hawking

Virus is a term that was mostly used in a biological sense till 1971. I do not know if the Virus is used as an acronym or not but I have been using it as an acronym for "Very Important Resources Under Siege" where very the important resources are the resources on my Computer and they get affected.

History of Computer Virus

The Creeper virus was first detected on ARPANET, the forerunner of the Internet in the early 1970s. Creeper was an experimental self-replicating program written by Bob Thomas at BBN in 1971.

A program called "Rother J" was the first computer virus to appear "in the wild" — that is, outside the single computer or lab where it was created. Written in 1981 by Richard Skrenta, it attached itself to the Apple DOS 3.3 operating system and spread via floppy disk.

The first PC virus in the wild was a boot sector virus dubbed (c)Brain, created in 1986 by the Farooq Alvi Brothers, operating out of Lahore, Pakistan, reportedly to deter piracy of the software they had written.

What Is a Computer Virus?

A Computer Virus, as is clear from the origins, is a piece of software or code that gets loaded on your computer without your knowledge and permission and runs against your wishes. Computer Virus, like its biological counterpart, has the ability to replicate itself. A computer virus can damage or corrupt data, change data, and even degrade the performance of your system by utilizing resources such as memory or disk space.

Why are the Virus Programs Written?

You might be wondering that if the Computer Virus is a piece of code then why does one writer such a code that will do bad or bring harm to the computer it infects. There are various reasons that people write codes that create computer virus.

At the start, it was more of an experimentation, but now a days, it is become the handiwork of a few people who are perverts and do not feel happy till they have written a program which will cause damage.

The other reason may be the rejection of the coder in some company and he is out there just to tell to the world - "I can do this".

There is another belief that for the good to be proven there must exist the evil. For the Anti-Virus Companies to survive, the computer virus must exist and so a set of the community even believes that these companies intentionally keep creating computer virus so that their products remain in the market.

Whatever be the motivation behind the creating of the code, the fact is that the computer virus is a reality and it is quite lucky of you in case you have never been affected by one.

How Does a Virus Spread?

Early viruses were small pieces of code embedded in larger, legitimate programs like your favorite game or word processing package or any application that was assumed to be popular and widely used. When the user ran the legitimate program (which was bugged), the virus loaded itself along with the original code of the application into the main memory of the computer ­ and looked around to see if it could find any other program to get attached to. If it found one, it had the capacity to modify the program and get itself attached to the code of the clean and legit application. So the next time you started the cleaner application that had got affected gave the virus a chance to spread to other applications.

Once in the memory, the virus launches the "real program", which actually does the major damage.

Types of Computer Virus

There are different types of virus that exist in the computer world. In the initial days, the Internet was not that popular and as such the Virus programs spread only via the usage of storage media like floppy disks. But since internet became popular, people have started creating virus that spread via the internet.

1. Boot Sector viruses:

A boot sector virus infects diskettes and hard drives. Not getting into the technical structure of Disks, the base concept involved here is that the Virus program attaches itself to the Boot sector – The Main part of the Disk that is used to load the operating system.
Modus operandi
Each time you start your computer; this virus gets loaded into the Memory of your computer and then starts its play damaging files and folders including its own replication.

2. Program viruses:

The program viruses affect Application files only and hence are called Program Viruses.
Modus Operandi
A program virus infects only the executable and binary files. They become active when the program files (usually with extensions .BIN, .COM, .EXE, .OVL, .DRV) carrying the virus is opened.

3. Multipartite viruses:

The multipartite generation of Computer Virus is a hybrid of Boot and Program viruses.
Modus Operandi – 
They start by infecting the program files and when the infected program is executed, these viruses infect the boot record.

4. Stealth viruses

Stealth viruses are considered to be the smart viruses. This is because they use techniques to avoid getting detected. Their mode of operation also is varied but in most of the cases, they either redirect the disk head to read another sector instead of the one in which they reside or they alter the reading of the infected file’s size shown in the directory listing. This makes their detection a difficult one. They can stop you from accessing files and also can corrupt your data.

5. Macro viruses:

A macro virus infects the macros within a document or template. Macros are usually written in applications to perform a specific task quickly. The macros are mostly stored in documents or their templates. So when you open the document or the template, the macro virus is activated and it infects the templates.
Modus Operandi – 
A macro virus attaches itself to the Macros for spreading. Then when the file is opened, it attaches itself to the Template. So the next time you open any document or create any document based on this template, the virus automatically gets transferred,

6. Next Generation
6.1 Worms
A worm is a computer program that has the ability to copy itself from machine to machine. Worms use up computer time and network bandwidth when they replicate, and often carry payloads that do considerable damage. A worm usually exploits some sort of security hole in a piece of software or the operating system.
Worms normally move around and infect other machines through computer networks. Using a network, a worm can expand from a single copy incredibly quickly.

6.2 Trojans or Trojan Horses
Another unsavory breed of malicious code are Trojans or Trojan horses, which unlike viruses do not reproduce by infecting other files, nor do they self-replicate like worms. They are programs which claim to do one thing (it may claim to be a game) but instead do damage when you run it (it may erase your hard disk). Trojan horses have no way to replicate automatically.

6.3 Logic Bombs
Logic Bombs are not considered viruses because they do not replicate. They are not even programs in their own right but rather camouflaged segments of other programs.

6.4 MalWare
Malware is just another name for software that has an evil intent. Here are some common types of malware and what they might do to your infected computer:

  • Adware puts ads up on your screen.
  • Spyware collects personal information about you, like your passwords or other information you type into your computer.
  • Hijackers turn your machine into a zombie computer.
  • Dialers force your computer to make phone calls. For example, one might call toll 900-numbers and run up your phone bill, while boosting revenue for the owners of the 900-numbers.
In the next part of the post, you will find information on how to prepare yourself for preventing a virus attack, how to know whether your computer is bugged and also how to remove virus in case your computer has already been bugged.

Hope you found the article of use. 

Online Income: Work as a Freelance Writer

"I have a passion to write. How can I use this passion of mine to earn money over the Internet?"

This is in continuation of my posts where I have been providing you with information on how to earn on the internet. There are many different ways available and in this article I will be discussing about the methods that you can use to earn using your writing skills.

Yes, writing skills also are a great means of making money on the internet. You might be surprised to know that during the beginner phase itself, you can  earn about 10 USD per day just by writing for people on the internet.

What Do I Need?

To start a career as a free lance writer, you must have the following in your arsenal -

a. Thorough knowledge of the language in which you plan to start you writing career. Select any language for writing but whichever language you select, you must be able to write in that language without any grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. Any document or write-up which contains grammatical errors or the spelling mistakes is considered as junk and has the highest chances of getting rejected at the very outset.

b. A Word Processor Software - Any word processor software application that can be used to write and modify documents is also a must have. Commercial Applications like Microsoft Word or the Free / Open source Applications like Open Office are great to start with. You can also avail any other word processor.

Note: Before deciding on the correct application, you must check for the availability and support for the language in which you are planning to write in the application. The application must have special tools like the grammar checker and spelling checker. If it comes pre-bundled with a thesaurus and a dictionary, then it is better.

c. A computer with an internet connection. This is to be used to publish the content that you have written on the internet.

What Do I Write About?
In case you are interested in technical write-ups go for writing technical stuff. In case it is travel that you are comfortable with, write about the travel destinations.... The list is endless. What is important is the fact that you should start writing with what you are comfortable with. Writing about anything that comes naturally to you will help you earn a name in the field and this will help you in getting assignments related to your interest.

Tips While Writing:

1. Internet has a vast collection of information available at figure tips and it is quite easy for anaspiring newbie to copy and collect information from there for publication. Take care and avoid not to copy and paste information that is already published on the internet. Copying information and sending it across is not preferred in the field of creative writing and you will earn no credits for being a copycat.

2. Do not worry if what you are writing about has already been written earlier. What has been written earlier, the chances are that it has been used earlier. You should concentrate on writing with your own personal touch and if all goes well you will build a niche for your own self soon.

I have written Content! How Do I Make Money?

Well, here you have to be your own salesperson. There are several websites that offer you a platform to showcase your writing talents and it is here that you are quite likely to get your first customers. See the list below.

Once you have started with them and have some clients, you would also like to expand your outreach. In this case, you will have to register yourself with free lancing websites that allow you to bid on the proposals of others. I recommend you to join these websites at a later stage just because on these websites, you might have to write as per the requirements of the buyers and you might not feel comfortable doing this at the start. To succeed in these websites, you need to have an experience and you can show your work from the other websites as experience.

For those who want to directly get into the bidding websites and start making money, I would recommend them to have a Blog of their own where they can write about topics that interests them. This blog can then be used to display the experience when required by the buyers on the bidding websites.

List of some Websites -
1. Associated Content: Publish anything and wait to get purchased
2. Shvoong: Publish anything and wait to get purchased
3. Get A Free Lancer: Bid to get writing projects
4. Rent A Coder: Bid to get writing projects
5. O Desk: Bid to get writing projects

Happy earning

Publicize Your Website - Part I: Directory Submissions and PTCs

How to go about publicizing your website without getting into the White Hat and Black Hat SEO? How do you start getting traffic and force the Search Engines to start indexing your website...

Many of us who are into website development need to think about different strategies of getting the website exposed to the clients so that the reach of the website can be maximum. 

There are different ways suggested by the Web Gurus. The most authentic and appreciated one is the Search Engine optimization which basically means making modifications in the web-pages so that the search engines like Google and Others can readily create a database of the information presented in the web page and then deliver the web page url to the prospects who are in need of the page.

The SEO is a very slow process and this takes about a minimum of 6 months to get effective. The reasons of this delay are many but the most essential is the fact that the bots of the search engines do not crawl the internet on a daily basis. This means that it will take some time to get the website indexed and cached by the search engine. So what do you do till then? You must remember that you have already invested an amount in getting the domain space, creation of the website and as such you should start giving the exposure your website needs.

In the world of SEO there are two different sects - The White Hat SEO and the Black Hat SEO. The White Hat one is the group of people who follow the rules by the book and the Black Hat SEO are the set of people who do not hesitate in breaking the rules of the SEO. The search engines especially Google takes a serious note of this and can also ban your website in case it detects that you are doing some Black Hat SEO on your website.

So Here is how you can work out a strategy for publicizing your website without getting into the delays of the White Hat SEO and at the same time keep away from the Black HAT SEO.

1. Register with some Web Directories:
There are a lot of web directories available on the internet that you can use to publicize your website. These directories are like yellow pages where web masters can place ads of their websites in the desired categories. There are two different web-directories that are available for use on the Internet - 

a. The Free Web Directories - These will accept your adverts for free and will keep your advert posted on the website for about 6-12 months. Most of them would visit your website (the url that you have place the ad for) and will take about 2 weeks to 2 months for approval of your website. Once your website is approved, you will be sent an email containing the details of the advert that you had booked with them and their visitors can find you.  Some of them, however, need you to put a Back Link on your website.  

b. The Paid Inclusions: These are the directories that need you to pay an amount to get listed and this amount varies from directory to directory and the package of advertisement that you opt for. In these the inclusion is done as soon as they have received the payment.

2. Use the PTCs: This is the second method of publicizing your website. In these cases, you use the services of Paid to Click websites that will flash your ads to the visitors. These sites have a lot of users who are registered with them just for the sake of the clicking adverts and getting payments. This method helps to get traffic to your website no doubt, but there are chances that you will rarely find a potential customer from them. I do not say that you will not find one, but what I mean is that the chances are remote. The reason is quite simple and obvious - The people who are with them and viewing the ads, are not viewing the ads for the sake of finding useful information. Instead, they are using the services and viewing the ads with an aim of earning and that’s all. So if you have a product that helps them in making more money, you are more likely to get some potential customers.
The PTCs publish your adverts in lieu of some money. Now you can join them and earn and then use the same money to buy adverts or in case you want you can just pay them from your pocket.

3. The Website Traffic Generators - These are the third category of services on the internet that you can use to generate the initial traffic to your website. The people who use such services are mostly webmasters and as such you must keep in mind that the chances of getting potential customers for your products and services are negligible from these websites. The working method here is similar to those of PTC. You can view the ads on these sites and use the clicks earned to buy or book advert spots for your WebPages.

The Result:
Among all the three methods, the submission of a website to a web directory is most fruitful in terms of getting quality traffic to your website. The other two methods are good to get traffic only. You might be wondering now is "What Good the Traffic Will Be if it is not Potential Customers?"

Well, there is a secret involved here - Search Engines are not yet smart enough to find out what happens when the visitor comes to your site. They are interested ion the number of times your website has been visited and this helps them in maintaining when to crawl your website. As for my personal experience, my website was launched in March 2009 and did not have any page rank. Then I started using the methods described above, and in three months, my website traffic had increased to 600 visitors per month. Now my website has a page rank of 0. It is better than having nothing for the long time it has been there. The next thing is that I also had a few queries from the visitors regarding the services that I provide on my website.


Utilizing a Scam PTC Site to get Traffic!

I discuss about a website that was considered as a scam by its registered users as it did not pay. Here is how you can use the website to bring traffic to your website… 

I was referred to join, Romeo-Bux, a Paid-to-Click (PTC) Website by a friend on a social site. I joined Romeo-Bux on his reference as I have a lot of faith on this virtual friend of mine who has been referring me to join PTC sites that are considered as Legit. On some of his referral sites I am nearing the minimum payout limit as well. I will be publishing those sites and their information only after I have been paid from them into my Paypal or AlertPay Accounts.

When I joined this particular website, Romeo-Bux, I had joined purely on the basis of trust and regard for my up-line friend. But as luck would have it, two days later, I got a message from my friend that the website was a scam and there was a particular clause in its Terms of Service (TOS) that the earnings on the site cannot be withdrawn out of the site. Instead, the amount that you earn can be used to purchase their different schemes to advertise or showcase your website. At the start, I was disappointed to read this message from my, as I was eying a quick payment from this site. But as luck would have it, the site was now branded as a scam. My friend was really sorry for the inconvenience caused by all this.

Then I started reading the TOS of Romeo-Bux and was happy to find that the site offers great deals for earning and also using the same in advertising your website.

Earnings on Romeo-Bux -
To summarize their Earning schemes For Free Members are as follows -
1. There are at least 30 ads to view per day - This increases the chances of quick earning
2. The ads are of 20 seconds of duration - This means you do not waste much time on viewing ads
3. The amount paid per click is 0.01 USD
4. Minimum Payout Request is 1.00 USD - This is the trap which makes you register with the website

Following is the text as on Point 11 on the TOS page of Romeo-Bux


This clears it all. No amount can be moved out of the website and as such you have spent all your earnings within the site and that too purchasing the ADs.

Advertising options for free members:

1. 50 clicks for $2.00
2. 100 clicks for $4.00
3. 200 clicks for $8.00
4. 300 clicks for $12.00
5. 1000 clicks for $30.00
6. 5000 clicks for $150.00
7. 10000 clicks for $300.00

What I Did -

So what I did was this - I worked on my earnings on this website on a regular basis and made the $2.00 in my account. Then I used this money, that was with them, to purchase advert spots for my website. I have been getting a couple of visitors on my website from here.

What Do I Gain?

A question you might be eager to ask is "What do I gain at the end of it?"
If you are concerned about the fact that this will increase your page rank, I am sorry that will never help you in attaining a better page rank. Yes, it will help you in exposing your web page to many without much of an investment. All the websites which are new and want to get noticed should use this as a tool to market their website at the start or launch of the website.

In the long run, the SEO - Search Engine Optimization - is the correct and authentic way to promote your website.

Hope you get some traffic using such websites too. I welcomeyou feedback and suggestions or comments on the post.


Intimidating Road Systems - Britain's Birmingham Spaghetti Junction

Birmingham's Spaghetti Junction has been voted Britain's most intimidating road system. The second most hair-raising intersection area, according to a survey of 3,225 drivers, was the M8 and its junctions through central Glasgow while Marshable Arch in central London stood third. Almost one in 10 drivers say they would avoid "Scary" junctions altogether, and as a result drive an average of 238 miles extra per year!!!

Gravelly Hill Interchange, better known as Spaghetti Junction, is junction 6 of the M6 motorway where it meets the A38(M) Aston Expressway in Birmingham, United Kingdom. The junction covers 30 acres (12 hectares), serves 18 routes and includes 4 km (2.5 miles) of slip roads, but only 1 km (0.6 miles) of the M6 itself. Across 5 different levels, it has 559 concrete columns, reaching up to 24.4 metres (80 ft) height. The engineers had to elevate thirteen and a half miles of motorway to accommodate two railway lines, three canals, and two rivers.

Construction started in 1968 and the junction opened in November 1972 by the then environment secretary Peter Walker. In an unusal meeting of old and new transport technology, the pillars supporting the flyovers over the Grand Union Canal had to be carefully placed to enable a horse-drawn canal barge to pass under the interchange without fouling the towing rope. The junction has undergone major repair work several times since, due to the very heavy traffic through the junction, and some alleged cost-saving measures during its construction. In November 2007, a sliproad running from the Tyburn Road onto the Aston Expressway was closed to undergo urgent repair works. Upon inspection, it was found that Spaghetti Junction itself was in need of repair work due to salt and grit weakening the joints in the structure.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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