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Archive for the tag “Blog”

11 Quick Tips for Writing Compelling Posts On Your Blog[REPOST]

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  1. Be Useful – if your post isn’t informing, inspiring, entertaining or making someone’s life better – don’t publish it until it does.
  2. Share your Opinion – opinions are often what sets bloggers apart from the pack.
  3. Cut out the Fluff – before you hit publish, revise your post and remove anything that doesn’t add value.
  4. Visualise Your Reader – writing with a reader in mind personalises your writing.
  5. Make Your Posts Scannable – only 16% of people read every word online. Format your posts so that your main points stand out.
  6. Work and Rework You Headlines – a good headline can be the difference between a blog post being read, or ignored.
  7. Write with Passion – when you show you care about what you’re writing, your readers are more likely to care too.
  8. Give your Readers something to do Next – ask your readers to DO something once they finish reading. It could be to read something else, comment, apply a lesson, share the post etc.
  9. Tell Stories – stories are powerful ways of connecting with, inspiring and teaching your readers – they also create memories
  10. Give Your Posts Visual Appeal – the inclusion of an eye-catching image or a well designed diagram can take your post to the next level.
  11. Practise – the best way to improve your writing is to write. Practise Makes Perfect.

What I Like To Do When I’m Dead Bored

Dear reader , this isnt a typical Sahilo.wordpress.com post but I thought it would be fun to write this out!

So here are a few things that I like to do when I am dead bored(In No Particular Order)

 

1. Eat Ice Cream – Always works for everyone , I mean who doesn’t like Ice cream!! It’s just impossible not to like this creation of the almighty. Trust me , Jesus invented ice cream for a purpose , and that purpose is , for us to eat it when we are bored!

2. Arrange My Room – Sounds boring? And sounds super boring when you think of doing this when you are super bored? Well , trust me on this one guys , turn on some really cool(the best you got) music and open up your wardrobe and start arranging stuff. Arrange your bookshelf , your desk or anything you want to.  After you’re finished , you’ll know what the reward is.

3. Music Music Music – Now this is simple , just put on some headphones and sit on a couch or lie on you bed and listen to some cool music. It can be anything you like. For eg. I like Rock N Roll , when I’m bored , I listen to Led Zeppelin , Deep Purple , Kiss and stuff.

4. Read a book. – Such an obvious yet an amazing option to consider doing while you’re bored. You can read a mystery novel , a self help book or a poetry book maybe. It enhances your vocabulary and creativity skills.

5. Write! – This can be anything , for eg. I am bored right now(this very freakin’ moment) and I am writing this article. You can write a poem(I write poetry too! gosahil.wordpress.com) or a story or maybe a journal/diary.

6. Do Things You’ve Never Done Before – Now let me give you an example here , when I was bored a few days ago I thought of doing three things that I never did before:- 1. Write a Song.   2. Ride a Roller Coaster 3. Bang my head 10 times on the wall…and it worked!! I wasn’t bored! I was actually enjoying what I was doing.

 

So people I hope this post helped , any suggestion? Or if you wanna tell me what you like to do when you’re bored , just drop a line or two in the comments.

 

– Sahil

Top 10 FREE PC Games

 

 

If you don’t have a smartphone or tablet and you want to enjoy gaming there are hundreds of completely free computer games available online, ready to download to your desktop PC or laptop. So in no particular order, here’s a list of some of the best free computer games you can play without spending a single penny. 

Top 10 free PC games

Tribes Ascend 

The Tribes games have been around for about 11 years now, and the developers have decided to make their newest release, Tribes Ascend, free to play. At first glance, you might mistake it for your average first person space shooter, something similar to the Halo franchise perhaps. Once you see it moving it’s a different story – Tribes moves at breakneck speed, allowing players to ‘ski’ down slopes and use a jetpack to quickly shoot up the other side. The game becomes a much deadlier version of “tiny wings” where speed and accuracy reign supreme.

Check out this introductory video, for a taste of the Tribes Ascend action:

As with any free-to-play game you can add money to it if you want to. Purchasing the in game cash ‘gold’ allows you to unlock more weapons and character classes a lot quicker than you would usually and also gives you a small boost on the XP you earn. If you find yourself playing Tribes Ascend regularly then it might be worth adding a couple of pounds to the game, but it’s so well balanced at this point that anyone can have fun without feeling outgunned by the paid players.

Also try: Global Agenda

Team Fortress 2 

Team Fortress 2 has been around so long now it has no right looking as good as it does. Originally something you would have to pay for, Team Fortress went free-to-play in 2011 and attracted a whole new crowd of players. At its heart is a basic multiplayer first person shooter, but that’s part of what makes it so addictive and playable. It’s easy to get into and learn the basics, plus the game provides tutorials and handy hints along the way. If you want to get deeper into the game you can pay to buy loadouts. These give you different weapons and accessories that can be used in-game. Every loadout has it’s downsides, keeping the game very balanced, even if you’ve never bought a single piece of additional content. 

Check out the Team Fortress 2 intro video  

Also try: Micro VaultsQuake Live

Nitronic Rush 

Nitronic Rush is kind of like what would happen if you managed to bring a Bugatti Veyron into the world of Tron. It’s an arcade time trial game, where the track hates you and wants you dead. Obstacles sprout from the ground, and missing sections of track become more and more common as you travel round it. Fortunately, you have a couple of handy gadgets built into your vehicle. Rockets burst from the rear and a pair of small wings allows you to glide across more open sections. You can’t use these forever, but it’s not long before they recharge and you’re powering down the next straightaway. Just make sure it’s not directly into a wall. The game is completely free and even comes with a couple of gameplay modes, including a stunt course where you can flip and spin your car to your heart’s content. Well worth a try if you’re looking for some arcade fun.

For fast-paced racing thrills, check out the Nitronic Rush intro video:

Also try: Trackmania Nations

Slender 

Collect the pages. That’s all you have to do – wander around and collect the pages. I kept telling myself this over and over, while I was playing Slender. This free, first person horror game from Parsec productions is one of the most terrifying games I have ever played. Slender has a simple concept and short play time, but it’s a masterclass in building tension and something that any horror fan should check out at least once.

Turn the lights out and play through headphones for the full experience and remember, it’s only a game… isn’t it?

Spelunky 

Those who think video games have become too easy these days should check out Spelunky. Spelunky is a ‘rogue-like’ cave explorer, which means that every time you play it the cave has a different layout. You never know what might be behind that next rock or at the bottom of a short fall. It also means you get one life. As soon as your health meter runs out (and believe me it will often) you get put right back at level 1 where you started.  Despite this though it keeps you coming back for more, with the same kind of sadistic charm that players might remember from games like Super Meat Boy or N+. Part of this is due to the amount there is to discover in the caves. From damsels in distress to grumpy shopkeepers that are more than capable of looking after themselves, there is plenty to find.

Spelunky also taps into to that high score mentality. You just need to collect that little bit more gold to get a higher score than last time. Whatever it is that keeps you coming back, be prepared to die over and over again. A version of this game has just been released on XBox 360, but the original PC game is still completely free to download.

Also try: Cave Story

Battle For Wesnoth 

Though it may not be the most graphically intensive game on this list, those that download and play Battle For Wesnoth have found a surprisingly deep and exciting turn based strategy game. . Anyone that’s played games like Civilisation or the Might and Magic series will feel right at home, but here the focus is much more on combat and wiping out the other armies on the map.The fantasy theme means its not just swords that clash, but magic and monsters can be called in to join the fray. The battles can be epic and although there are plenty of single player careers to get through, it’s the 8-way multiplayer that can get really crazy. If you’ve got some time to kill and some like-minded friends, give Battle for Wesnoth a download. 

Before you begin your mission, check out the Battle for Wesnoth intro video:

Also try: Free Civ

Moonbase Alpha 

Few games can claim to be officially NASA endorsed. In Moonbase Alpha it’s your job to repair the life support system that’s been obliterated by a recent asteroid. It can be genuinely stressful watching those precious last minutes of oxygen slip away as you try desperately to fix that last pump. But don’t worry, you are given all the right tools for the job, including repair kits, robots and a rover (read awesome space car). You can also join up with friends and bound around the moon together. This is where the game gets really fun. Whether you are working as a team to get the base fixed as quickly as possible or larking around taking the rover off for some sweet jumps, there are plenty of ways to have a good time. Either way, Moonbase Alpha is worth a download and it’s even available on Steam at the moment, with full Steam leaderboards – so go check it out!

Move over flight simulators, it’s time to take this shuttle into space! Watch the Moonbase Alpha video: 

League of Legends 

League of Legends is one of the most popular online games currently available and like everything else in this list it’s completely free to play. It is just one of the games in a rapidly expanding genre known as MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena). Purely multiplayer focused, this game pits 2 teams of champions against one another in a bid to push deeper into the other team’s territory and eventually destroy the closely-guarded crystal at the other end. It is a game of tactics, quick thinking and an even quicker mouse click. You play as one of the champions on each team and each champion has their own set of attacks and powers. On top of that there are smaller, non-playable characters that constantly spawn and run along three lanes on the field. It’s your job to push the other team back far enough that you can get these smaller characters to flood the opposing base. That is a very simplified explanation of what can quickly become a very tactical game. 

Get ready to hone your battle tactics, with League of Legends:

League of Legends this might be one of the hardest games in this collection to just pick up and play straight away. With words like ‘jungling’ and ‘item builds’ being bandied around, it can take a while to start picking up all of the terms. Fortunately, there are some helpful video tutorials out there to get you started. Even if you watch the help videos I would still suggest playing against a computer controlled team before you start taking on real players. The League of Legends community is one of the most passionate out there and matches can get pretty heated. 

Being a free-to-play game you are going to get a little more out of it by adding some dosh. For free you are given a selection of champions that rotates every month, so you can’t guarantee the character you have been learning with will be there next time you play. You can purchase these characters so that you always have them unlocked, along with extra outfits and cosmetic changes to each one. If it sounds like something you want to try, you can jump right in without having to spend anything at all. 

Also try: Heroes of NewerthSuper MNC

Digital: a love story 

Digital: a love story might be the oddest addition to this list. Less of a game and more of a digital novel, the game is told through the medium of 1980’s bulletin board posts (imagine a very early form of internet). It plays out a lot like an adventure game, with the text in each post guiding you on what to do next. It only takes about an hour to get through, and does involve a lot of reading, but it’s surprisingly engaging. You really feel like you have gone back in time and been given access to an early PC. If you can get past the old clunky interface the story is strong enough to keep you ploughing through and is well worth a look if you fancy a good old love story.

Dungeons + Dragons Online 

I couldn’t really finish a list of free PC games without adding an MMORPG in there somewhere. Dungeons and Dragons Online is one of the many Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games to have gone free-to-play in recent years and become successful.  Not being a big player of these kinds of games, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how easy DDO is to get into. There are a lot less of the ‘fetch quests’ that seem to plague these types of games and this makes it a lot more action oriented than something like World of Warcraft. There is also an ever present dungeon master that narrates your tale for you. Far from getting in the way, this voice keeps the game moving along and feels a lot like the D&D you might have played by rolling dice on a table top. In fact, it feels so much like it that anyone who previously played D&D with the Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 rule set will feel right at home, thanks to the mechanics behind the scenes. 

The controls and gameplay are easy enough that even inexperienced players can get a kick out of this game, but as with any MMO I would advise that you don’t travel alone. These types of games are much more fun when played with a group of mates, so if you’re going to jump in, I would gather a few friends together. You can add money to the game to purchase items from the DDO store, but a lot of the items can be found in the game world anyway, so it’s very easy to enjoy Dungeons and Dragons Online without spending a penny.

Also try: Lord of the rings online

Some Interesting Links

I come across a lot of great articles daily, so I thought I’ll share some here which I stumbled upon in the last 3-4 days.

Mark on Productivity 501 has a pretty detailed article on getting an online masters degree from Harvard. If you are not in a position to get a regular, full-time master’s degree and considering an online course then you should take a look at this.

Marc Andreessen wrote on WSJ on why he thinks software is eating the world. It’s actually kinda obvious considering some or the other kind of software powers almost everything around us these days, but his article still is insightful and makes a nice read.

A neat article I came across today on learning a foreign language without spending a cent. The content is well-written and the resources mentioned are very useful.

Another one from Productivity 501 on creating an electronic signature. I think digital signatures are going to take over pen-and-paper signatures in the near future so it doesn’t harm to know how to create them quickly and easily.

The Economist had this interesting article on the decline of Asian marriage and its far reaching effects. I wonder how the governments will tackle this new phenomenon if they could tackle it at all.

15 Awesome Tutorial Websites You Probably Don’t Know About

If I were forced to choose an aspect of the internet that made it simply indispensable, it would definitely be its availability as a huge learning resource. 20 years ago, who would have thought that one would have easy access to already completed business documents, research papers of world class universities, free encyclopedias and some great books, no matter where he or she is located in the world.

The internet also boasts of accommodating tutorials to absolutely anything. Here are 15 such super-useful sites which aim to provide you with all the tutorials you’d ever need.

How Stuff Works
How Stuff Works is probably the best known How-to tutorials site. It has has a vast and diverse collection with topics ranging from food, health, computers, etc. One of the best things about this site is that it explains even the toughest tutorial in a very simple and easy to understand language.

 

YouTube
Surprised? Well, it shouldn’t be if you use YouTube a lot. Yesterday my younger brother bought a new guitar and the very first thing he needed to do was to tune it. So he just logged on, went to youtube.com and searched for “How to tune a guitar”. And there you go! He had a nice video explaining the process step-by-step.

 

eHow
eHow is another comprehensive tutorials website with detailed instructions on how to do just about anything. Like How Stuff Works, this site also covers a wide range of topics.

 

About.com’s Video Tutorials
About.com’s video tutorial site has a collection of very informative how-to videos and screencasts on topics which include Parenting, Style, Electronics and Gadgets, etc. I found the collection to be very comprehensive and probably better than You Tube’s collection of similar videos.

 

wikiHow
wikiHow, as it says, is an editable How-to site with 40,100 articles contributed by volunteers from different parts of the world. You’re sure to find some nice tutorials here too.

 

Instructables
Instructables is a cool Do-It-Yourself site that has an extensive collection of user submitted how-to articles and easy instructions complete with videos and photographs. It’s a community driven website where you can submit content, vote and comment on existing content.

 

Wired’s How-To Wiki
Wired magazine’s how-to wiki has some very elaborate and detailed tutorials focussed primarily on topics like Gadgets, Technology and Computers. You can also subscribe to its RSS feed to get them the new how-to articles directly in your feed reader.

 

PC World’s How-to Site
PC World, one of the best tech journals available, also has a how to site that publishes technology focused tutorials related to various electronic gadgets, hardware and software applications.

 

VideoJug
When it comes to how-to video tutorial sites, VideoJug is probably the largest and most comprehensive. It has videos on varied subjects like choosing a new hairstyle, playing golf, installing windows or how to kiss someone passionately.

 

W3Schools
W3Schools is a first class web development tutorials website which provides easy reference guides on languages like HTML, XHTML, CSS, PHP and JavaScript. All the tutorials are free and nicely explained through various examples.

 

NETTUTS And PSDTUTS
NETTUTS and PSDTUTS are sister sites, in fact blogs, and definitely one of the best online resources on web development and Photoshop skills. NETTUTS explores web development and designing in detail while PSDTUTS provides some world-class Adobe Photoshop tutorials.

 

5min
5min is a video tutorial site with a difference- the videos are short and no more than 5 mins. Like other video sites, this too covers a wide range of topics, however it’s yet to take on sites like VideoJug in the online video tutorial space.

 

SuTree
Sutree aggregates the best video tutorials from other video sites and covers a variety of topics like softwares, games, pets & animals etc. Like instructables, SuTree is also a community driven website and lets you find videos through tags and subscribe to the RSS feed of the site.

 

VTC
Although VTC is not entirely free to use, it does provide some nice tutorials on software and business applications. Out of around 66,000 tutorials, it provides 12,500 for free.

Good Tutorials
Good Tutorials has a nice collection of graphic design tutorials which it aggregates through various web design sites and blogs. And yes, it’s free to use !

PLEASE COMMENT AND LIKE  THIS POST IF YOU FOUND IT USEFUL AND HELPFUL! THANKS!

How to Write a Short Story

  1. Nothing can help you “learn” how to write a good,short story better than reading good short stories. Notice the style and how they have used the small amount of words to their advantage. Choose authors that you enjoy, choose some of the “classics,” as examples and if you can, find some well known authors. Pay attention to how the authors develop their characters, write dialogue, and structure their plots.
  2. Collect ideas for your story.

    Collect ideas for your story. Inspiration can strike at any time, so carry a notepad with you wherever you go so that you can write down story ideas as they come to you. Most of the time, you’ll just think of small snippets of information (a catastrophic event around which you can build a plot, a character’s name or appearance, etc.), but sometimes you’ll get lucky and a whole story will reveal itself to you in a couple of minutes. If you have trouble finding inspiration, or if you need to write a story in a hurry (for a class, for example), learn how to brainstormor if you can’t come up with any ideas you might have to look to family and friends for inspiration.

  3. Begin with basics of a short story. After you’ve chosen an idea, you need to remember the basics of a short story before writing one. Steps to a good short story are:

    • Introduction (Introduces characters, setting, time,weather, etc.)
    • Initiating Action (The point of a story that starts the rising action)
    • Rising Action (Events leading up to the climax/turning point)
    • Climax (The most intense point of the story/the turning point of the story)
    • Falling Action (your story begins to conclude)
    • Resolution/Conclusion (a satisfying ending to the story in which the central conflict is resolved – or not -) You don’t have to write your short story in order. If you have an idea for a great conclusion, write it down. Move backward or forward from your starting idea (it may or may not be the beginning of the story), and ask “What happens next?” or “What happened before this?”
    • Find inspiration from real people. If you have trouble understanding or finding attributes of a character, turn to your life. You can easily borrow attributes of people you know or even strangers you notice. For example, you might notice someone is always drinking coffee, they talk in a loud, booming voice, they are always typing away at the computer, etc. All of these observations would together make a very interesting character, and they could easily be attributes of real people.
    • Know your characters. For a story to be believable, the characters have to be believable and realistic. It can be a difficult task to create real characters that are interesting and realistic. But here are a few strategies to create characters.
    • Write a list, titled with the character’s name, and write all the attributes you can think of, from their position in the orchestra to their favorite color. You should know as much as possible about your characters, from what their central motivations are to what their favorite foods are. You won’t include all this information in your story, but the more you know, the more your characters will come to life, both for you and for the reader.
    • Make sure your characters personalities are not perfect. In real life, nobody is perfect. Everyone has their flaws. Of course, that extends into the realm of storytelling, too. Every character needs to have some flaws, some problems, some imperfections, some insecurities. You might assume that people wouldn’t like to read about a character with a lot of flaws, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth! People can relate to characters with problems, as that’s realistic. They definitely can’t relate to perfect characters. When trying to come up with flaws, you don’t need to give your character some huge, bizarre issue (although you definitely can). For most characters, try to stick with things you know about. For example, the character could have anger issues, be afraid of water, be lonely, dislike being around other people, be sad, etc. All of these could be taken further in development.
  4. Limit the breadth of your story. A novel can occur over millions of years and include a multitude of subplots, a variety of locations, and an army of supporting characters. The main events of a short story should occur in a relatively short period of time (days or even minutes), and you typically won’t be able to develop effectively more than one plot, two or three main characters, and one setting. If your story has much more breadth, it probably needs to be a novella or novel.

  5. Decide who will tell the story. There are three main points of view from which to tell a story: first-person (“I”), second-person (“you”), and third-person (“he” or “she”). In a first-person story, a character in the story tells the story; in the second-person the reader is made a character in the story; and in the third-person, an outside narrator tells the story. (Second-person narration is rarely used.) Keep in mind that first-person narrators can only tell what they know (which will be limited to what they see firsthand or are told by others), while third-person narrators can either know everything and explore every character’s thoughts, or be limited to only that which can be observed.

  6. Organize your thoughts. After you have prepared the basic elements of your story, it can be helpful to do out a time-line in some way to help you decide what should happen when. Your story should consist at least of an introduction, initiating incident, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. You can draw or write a visual with very simple descriptions of what should happen in each of these stages. Having this done will help you keep focused when writing the story, and you can easily make changes to it, so that you are able to keep a steady flow as you write the full story.

  7. Start writing. Depending on how thoroughly you’ve sketched out your plot and characters, the actual writing process may simply be one of choosing the right words. Generally, however, writing is arduous. You probably won’t know your characters and plot as well as you thought but it doesn’t matter. Outlines are not the same as stories, and actually writing a story is the only way to complete one.

  8. Come out swinging. The first page —some would say the first sentence—of any writing should grab the reader’s attention and leave him/her wanting more. A quick start is especially important in short stories because you don’t have much room to tell your story. Don’t dillydally with long introductions of the characters or uninteresting descriptions of the setting: get right into the plot, and reveal details about the characters and setting piece-by-piece as you go along.

  9. Keep writing.

     Keep writing.

    Keep writing. You’re almost certain to hit some bumps in the road to finishing your story. You’ve got to work through them, though. Set aside a time to write each and every day, and make it a goal to finish, say, a page each day. Even if you end up throwing away what you wrote on that day, you’ve been writing and thinking about the story, and that will keep you going in the long run.

  10. Let the story “write itself”. As you write your story, you may want to turn your plot in a different direction than you had planned, or you may want to substantially change or remove a character. Listen to your characters if they tell you to do something different, and don’t worry about scrapping your plans altogether if you can make a better story as you go.

  11. Revise and edit. When you’ve finished the story, go back through it and correct mechanical mistakes, as well as logical and semantic errors. In general, make sure the story flows and the characters and their problems are introduced and resolved appropriately. If you have time, put the completed story down for a few days or weeks before editing. Distancing yourself from the story in this way will help you see it more clearly when you pick it back up.

  12. Get some second opinions. Send your revised and edited story off to a trusted friend or relative for revisions, edits, and suggestions. Let your reviewers know that you want to hear their real opinions of the story. Give them time to read it and think about it, and give them a copy that they can write on. Make sure you consider everything that your reviewers tell you—not just the parts you would like to hear. Thank your reviewers for reading your story, and don’t argue with them.

  13. Incorporate whatever edits, revisions, and suggestions you feel are valid. Your writing will be better if you can carefully consider constructive criticism, but you don’t have to follow all the advice you get. Some of the suggestions may not be very good. It’s your story, and you need to make the final call.

  14. Don’t give up. It may be frustrating if you’re having trouble writing. You can run out of steam, get angry at characters, or feel like throwing your computer or notebook across the room. Often, you can begin to doubt your own writing skills if you dislike something you’ve written. Your mind can easily tell you that it’s not worth it to continue, and you should give up. When these thoughts arise, they can easily take over and make you quit then and there. One of the hardest tasks as a writer is to learn to squash those feelings and continue writing. When you begin to have these doubtful feelings, or get tired or bored, stop writing. You can get up, take a walk, get a snack, watch TV, or anything to relax. When you return, do so with a fresh mind. You may still not want to write, but tell yourself a few good things about your story – anything about it, from one good passage you wrote, to a well-thought out dialogue, to an interesting character – congratulate yourself. If someone else knows about your story and has read it, they can also be a good source of encouragement. Just tell yourself that you will finish this story because you want to. It doesn’t matter if the story isn’t the best ever written – but you have a goal to finish it, and that’s what you’ll do.

How to Become a hacker!

So now i am going to post about how to become a hacker for a few days as i get many questions regarding this so i am fed up with those questions!! all of you just sub. to my blog and enjoy!! Happy hacking!

There is a community, a shared culture, of expert programmersand networking wizards that traces its history back through decades to the first time-sharing minicomputers and the earliest ARPAnet experiments. The members of this culture originated the term ‘hacker.’

There is another group of people who loudly call themselves hackers, but aren’t. These are people who get a kick out of breaking into computers and phreaking the phone system. Real hackers call these people ‘crackers’ and want nothing to do with them. Real hackers object that being able to break security doesn’t make you a hacker any more than being able to hotwire cars makes you an automotive engineer.

There are people who apply the true hacker attitude to other things, like electronics or music — but in the rest of this article we will focus the skills s of the shared culture that originated the term ‘hacker.’Become a Hacker

THINK LIKE A HACKER

Adopt the mindset of a hacker. Hackers solve problems and build things, and they believe in freedom and voluntary mutual help. To be accepted as a hacker, you have to behave as though you have this kind of attitude yourself. And to behave as though you have the attitude, you have to really believe the attitude. So, if you want to be a hacker, repeat the following things until you believe them:

  • The world is full of fascinating problems waiting to be solved. Successful athletes get their motivation from a kind of physical delight in making their bodies perform, in pushing themselves past their own physical limits. Similarly, you have to get a basic thrill from solving problems, sharpening your skills, and exercising your intelligence.
  • No problem should ever have to be solved twice. The thinking time of other hackers is precious — so much so that it’s almost a moral duty for you to share information, solve problems and then give the solutions away just so other hackers can solve new problems instead of having to perpetually re-address old ones.
  • Boredom and drudgery are evil. When hackers are bored or have to drudge at stupid repetitive work, they aren’t doing what only they can do — solve new problems. To behave like a hacker, you have to want to automate away the boring bits as much as possible.
  • Freedom is good. The authoritarian attitude has to be fought wherever you find it, lest it smother you and other hackers. Not all authority figures are authoritarian, however; authoritarians thrive on censorship and secrecy. And they distrust voluntary cooperation and information-sharing.
  • Attitude is no substitute for competence. Hackers won’t let posers waste their time, but they worship competence — especially competence at hacking, but competence at anything is valued. Competence at demanding skills that few can master is especially good, and competence at demanding skills that involve mental acuteness, craft, and concentration is best.

Learn the Language of Programming

Learn how to program. The best way to learn is to read some stuff written by masters of the form, write some things yourself, read a lot more, write a little more, read a lot more, write some more, and repeat until your writing begins to develop the kind of strength and economy you see in your models. To be a real hacker, however, you need to get to the point where you can learn a new language in days by relating what’s in the manual to what you already know. This means you should learn several very different languages. Besides being the most important hacking languages, the following represent very different approaches to programming, and each will educate you in valuable ways.

  • Python is a good language to start off with because it’s cleanly designed, well documented, and relatively kind to beginners. Despite being a good first language, it is not just a toy; it is very powerful and flexible and well suited for large projects. Javais an alternative, but its value as a first programming language has been questioned.[1]
  • If you get into serious programming, you will have to learn C, the core language of Unix (C++ is very closely related to C; if you know one, learning the other will not be difficult). C is very efficient with your machine’s resources, but will soak up huge amounts of your time on debugging and is often avoided for that reason (unless machine efficiency is essential).
  • Perl is worth learning for practical reasons; it’s very widely used for active web pages and system administration, so that even if you never write Perl you should learn to read it. Many people use Perl to avoid C programming on jobs that don’t require C’s machine efficiency.
  • LISP is worth learning for a different reason — the profound enlightenment experience you will have when you finally get it. That experience will make you a better programmer for the rest of your days, even if you never actually use LISP itself a lot. You can get some beginning experience with LISP fairly easily by writing and modifying editing modes for the Emacs text editor, or Script-Fu plugins for the GIMP.

Familiarize Yourself With Unix

1Get one of the open-source Unixes and learn to use and run it. Unix is the operating system of the Internet. While you can learn to use the Internet without knowing Unix, you can’t be an Internet hacker without understanding Unix. For this reason, the hacker culture today is pretty strongly Unix-centered. So, bring up a Unix (like Linux but there are other ways and yes, you can run both Linux and Microsoft Windows on the same machine). Learn it. Run it. Tinker with it. Talk to the Internet with it. Read the code. Modify the code.

  • There are other operating systems in the world besides Unix. But they’re distributed in binary — you can’t read the code, and you can’t modify it. Trying to learn to hack on a Microsoft Windows machine or under any other closed-source system is like trying to learn to dance while wearing a body cast. Under Mac OS X it’s possible, but only part of the system is open source — you’re likely to hit a lot of walls, and you have to be careful not to develop the bad habit of depending on Apple’s proprietary code.
  • Download Linux online[2] or (better idea) find a local Linux user group to help you with installation.
  • While other distros have their own areas of strength, Ubuntu is far and away the most accessible to Linux newbies.
  • A good way to dip your toes in the water is to boot up what Linux fans call a live CD, a distribution that runs entirely off a CD without having to modify your hard disk. This is a way to get a look at the possibilities without having to do anything drastic.

HTML is Important

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    Learn how to use the World Wide Web and write HTML. Most of the things the hacker culture has built do their work out of sight, helping run factories and offices and universities without any obvious impact on how non-hackers live. The Web is the one big exception, the huge shiny hacker toy that even politicians admit has changed the world. For this reason alone (and a lot of other good ones as well) you need to learn how to work the Web. This doesn’t just mean learning how to drive a browser (anyone can do that), but learning how to write HTML, the Web’s markup language. If you don’t know how to program, writing HTML will teach you some mental habits that will help you learn. So build a home page. Try to stick to XHTML, which is a cleaner language than classic HTML.

 

Learn English

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    If you don’t have functional English, learn it. English is the working language of the hacker culture and the Internet, and you will need to know it to function in the hacker community. Translations of technical books written in English are often unsatisfactory (when they get done at all). Being a native English-speaker does not guarantee that you have language skills good enough to function as a hacker. If your writing is semi-literate, ungrammatical, and riddled with misspellings, many hackers will tend to ignore you. While sloppy writing does not invariably mean sloppy thinking, the correlation is strong. If you can’t yet write competently, learn to.

 

Earn Respect

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    Earn respect as a hacker. Like most cultures without a money economy, hackerdom runs on reputation. You’re trying to solve interesting problems, but how interesting they are, and whether your solutions are really good, is something that only your technical peers or superiors are normally equipped to judge. This is why you aren’t really a hacker until other hackers consistently call you one. Specifically, hackerdom is what anthropologists call a gift culture. You gain status and reputation in it not by dominating other people, nor by being beautiful, nor by having things other people want, but rather by giving things away: your time, your creativity, and the results of your skill.

    • Write open-source software. Write programs that other hackers think are fun or useful, and give the program sources away to the whole hacker culture to use. Hackerdom’s most revered demigods are people who have written large, capable programs that met a widespread need and given them away, so that now everyone uses them.
    • Help test and debug open-source software. Any open-source author who’s thinking will tell you that good beta-testers (who know how to describe symptoms clearly, localize problems well, can tolerate bugs in a quickie release, and are willing to apply a few simple diagnostic routines) are worth their weight in rubies. Try to find a program under development that you’re interested in and be a good beta-tester. There’s a natural progression from helping test programs to helping debug them to helping modify them. You’ll learn a lot this way, and generate good karma with people who will help you later on.
    • Publish useful information. Another good thing is to collect and filter useful and interesting information into web pages or documents like Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) lists, and make those generally available. Maintainers of major technical FAQs get almost as much respect as open-source authors.
    • Help keep the infrastructure working. The hacker culture (and the engineering development of the Internet, for that matter) is run by volunteers. There’s a lot of necessary but unglamorous work that needs done to keep it going — administering mailing lists, moderating newsgroups, maintaining large software archive sites, developing RFCs and other technical standards. People who do this sort of thing well get a lot of respect, because everybody knows these jobs are huge time sinks and not as much fun as playing with code. Doing them shows dedication.
    • Serve the hacker culture itself. This is not something you’ll be positioned to do until you’ve been around for a while and become well-known for one of the four previous items. The hacker culture doesn’t have leaders, exactly, but it does have culture heroes and tribal elders and historians and spokespeople. When you’ve been in the trenches long enough, you may grow into one of these. Beware: hackers distrust blatant ego in their tribal elders, so visibly reaching for this kind of fame is dangerous. Rather than striving for it, you have to sort of position yourself so it drops in your lap, and then be modest and gracious about your status.

5 Real Life Zombies

The thought of our bodies walking around and operating without our personal conscious or as the more spiritual believe without our soul is an idea that has intrigued and captivated the minds of human beings for centuries. Whether it be the living-dead and body snatchers of Hollywood movies or the stories of voodoo priests using potions to turn rivals into mindless drones to do their bidding, myths, movies, and stories about zombies have been a mainstay in human culture. But the idea of our bodies walking around without freewill or after we have passed may be closer to the realm of the natural than we all thought.

We have all been in the situation where we see a hideous bug in our sink or bathtub and instead of squishing it we take a more timid approach and turn the water on and drown the pest. Imagine you try to that and you watch the ugly sucker spin down the drain. You return to the bathroom later to make the horrifying discovery that the bug had returned from the dead. There are two possibilities: either you have a bathroom infested with bugs or you are dealing with a wolf spider, whose appearance is even more terrifying than its name.

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Scientists at the University of Rennes in France collected 120 Wolf Spiders and submerged them underwater and waited for them to die. After all signs of life left their little spider bodies (some stayed submerged for 40 hours) the scientists laid the corpses out to dry so they could later weigh them.

A few hours later the spiders rose from the dead. Even though they were not craving brains, the spiders still appeared to be zombies. When threatened with drowning the spiders enter a comatose state where their metabolism virtually stops and all signs of life cease (the description of this comatose state sounds like death). After things get dry they awake and carry on with their business as if nothing ever happened.

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The weta is s large insect (some species growing as large as 4 inches long) that are native to New Zealand. They have a very painful bite and can inflict painful bacteria laced scratches with their spiny legs. Their physical appearance is cricket-like but with a few distinguishing features. These creatures mere existence is terrifying but combine that with the fact that these insects are undead and you have one formidable zombie bug.

The tree weta have a protein in their blood that prevents water from freezing. Weta can survive being frozen alive for months at time in temperatures as low as -10°C by putting themselves in a suspended animation, like Sly Stallone in Demolition Man.

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This is an impressive feat, but it is also important to note that while in this suspended animation the weta’s heart and brain dies then recovers upon thawing out. This bug is technically a zombie.

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The jewel wasp is a solitary wasp that is known for its bizarre reproductive practice. The wasp stings a roach, herds it like a sheep into its nest, and then proceeds to lay an egg on the roach’s abdomen so its little baby will have plenty to eat upon hatching. So how does this relate to zombies?

The jewel wasp systematically stings the roach in the abdomen. This temporarily paralyzes the roach’s front legs so the wasp can now finish its work. Next, the wasp stings the roach in the brain. The venom of the wasp then disables the roach’s escape reflex getting rid of the cockroach’s will to live.

The wasp has created a zombie roach, but it is not done. Eventually the roach can walk again, but now has no desire to run from the wasp. The wasp then begins walking the roach like dog using the roach’s antenna as a leash. What happens next is perhaps best described by science writer Robert Zimmer: “The zombie roach crawls where its master leads, which turns out to be the wasp’s burrow.” Once there the roach allows the wasp to lay an egg on its abdomen. Then the zombified cockroach quietly sits in the wasps burrow and awaits the egg to hatch. Once the egg hatches, the wasp larva will live inside the roach until it emerges from it as an adult. Good luck getting to sleep tonight…

In the movie Alien, The extraterrestrial species featured lives out a larvae stage inside a host until it reaches another stage and bursts free from the host. What if I told you that Alien is based on a true story and the true story is a bit more horrifying than what was featured in the movie?

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Glyptapanteles is a species of wasp that lays its eggs, sometimes as many as 80 at a time, inside a caterpillar, and to ensure that the caterpillar’s red blood cells does not kill the larvae, the mother wasp also injects a virus that occurs naturally in their bodies into the caterpillar, disabling its immune system. The larvae are then free to grow and they eventually chew their way out of the caterpillar. It gets better.

The caterpillar does not die. Instead it spins a coocoon over the wasp larvae to protect them so they can finish developing. The caterpillar also sticks around and protects the cocoon from danger. It’s as if the larvae are somehow controlling the caterpillar’s actions. Even more eerie is that the caterpillar dies at almost the same exact time the adult wasps emerge.

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I don’t mean metaphorical human zombies like in the sense that we are all zombies because we lumber about our daily routines, go to our nine-five jobs, come home, go to bed, and repete. Even though that is a great subject for a poem, I mean literal human zombies!

Clairvius Narcisse was a Haitian man who was declared dead on May 2, 1962. His two sisters, Marie Claire and Angelina, buried him in a small cemetery near his hometown. 18 years pass and his family has carried on with their lives. Angelina is in the marketplace of her village when her deceased brother approaches her and introduces himself. How is this possible?

Certain kinds of poisons, like the secretion of a Japanese blowfish, can put someone in a comatose state and make them appear dead even to a doctor. Narcisse had ingested some poison like this and when he slipped into his death-like state was buried. Then someone came and dug him up. Upon awakening he was giving doses of a “zombie powder” which contained the drug Datura stramonium. The drug puts the user in an emotionless, trance-like state, but the user can still perform menial tasks. In Narcisse’s case he was used as slave labor on a sugar plantation. He was a zombie-slave for 18 years.

You don’t like zombies of the voodoo variety? Are you disappointed because when you read “Zombie Humans” you were hoping for overly aggressive, mindless killing machine as seen in almost every zombie movie since Night Of The Living Dead (1968)? Well don’t worry because human zombies like that are not out of the realm of possibility.

Seretonin is a chemical in our brain that helps keep us calm, but according to one scientific study done with mice, it also keeps us from being aggressive killing machines. A group of scientists created a group of mutant mice whose brains lacked the receptors to process seratonin and this resulted in the mice acting overly aggressive toward other organisms. Now Imagine a virus with the ability to prevent human brains from processing seratonin.

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You could also imagine a parasite that takes control of our brain and makes us do unimaginable things. Not possible you say? Evolution tells us otherwise. Spinochordodes tellinii is a parasite that gets inside grasshoppers and releases a protein that interferes with their brain and makes them commit suicide by downing. Euhaplorchis californiensis gets inside the brain of killi fish and makes them swim and flop around on the surface of the water so it is more likely for it to get eaten by a bird. There is also a parasite that some scientists believe already changes human behavior.

Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite that is normally found in cats. It gets there by getting into rats through the filth they eat. It affects the rat’s behavior by making them friendlier toward cats so they are more likely to be eaten by said cats. Once inside the cats it begins reproducing (sounds like a morbid Dr. Seuss book). The parasite also gets inside humans and causes no physically harmful effects, but according to one psychological study it does change our personality. The study found that people tend to get more insecure when infected with the parasite (perhaps this explains emo kids). It also changed the personalities of men and women differently. It made men more jealous and suspicious and made women more affectionate.

10 Steps to Master Twitter

I  know that many of people who read AndFarAway are not only very active on Twitter, but use it much more effectively than I do.  The reason I’m writing this post because I am really, really tired of people giving up on Twitter after half a second and then deciding to claim that those who know how to use it are “dumb” and “narcissistic”.

Seriously. It’s easy. Just follow these awesomely easy 10 steps to use Twitter like a rockstar. I mean if all those lame celebrities can do it, I’m sure you can too.

10 Ways to Learn Twitter

1. Download the HootSuite Firefox pluginTweetDeck application, or Echofon Firefox plugin.
Maybe even all three, because the truth is: the twitter.com interface sucks, and you won’t be enjoying Twitter if you’re stuck in your browser window.

2. RT. RT. RT.
RT stands for “retweet”, and you RT a tweet when you want to share something interesting said by someone else with your followers. An RT is like a personal recommendation. It’s very important to RT only interesting stuff, because it defeats the purpose otherwise. Be social. Support tweeps who said something useful or have an event they want to publicize.

3. Reply.
I don’t practice this point as much as I should, but as is the case with blogs, replying to tweets that you were tagged in is really very important.

4. Play Twitter Games.
Twitter games like FollowFriday and MusicMonday can make Twitter more fun and introduce you to interesting tweeps.

5. Share interesting links.
I mean, we all read stuff online all day, and there are so many awesome links that should be shared. Your followers would appreciate a great link, trust me.

6. Keep it simple, stupid.
There’s so much beauty in 140 characters. Mainly that people who shouldn’t blab can’t blab. Anything can be said in such a short format if it’s worth it.

7. Brand yourself consistently.
Choose one Twitter profile image and stick to it, for god’s sake. People who keep changing their Twitter profile pictures are so annoying, because when you’re looking at the stream, you are looking at icons, not names.

8. Schedule tweets.
Use HootSuite or any other similar tool to schedule tweets to assure that your account is constantly updated. Even if it’s a weekend.

9. It’s actually okay to tell your followers what you had for lunch.
As long as that’s not the only thing you say all week.

10. Notice the time pattern.
Depending on where you are in the world, you’ll notice that there are different time patterns. In Jordan, for example, tweeps are most active early in the morning (9:30 AM), around 12:00 PM, and around 4:00 PM. Target your coolest tweets at these times.

I hope this answers the question I am always being asked, “Why the hell do you like Twitter?”

ANY QUESTIONS? OR JUST WANNA TALK OR KNOW INTERESTING STUFF? Then http://bit.ly/ThisIsMyTwitter\

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