Three of the World’s Best Film Schools

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There are many really good film schools around the world. Some of the world’s best film schools are located in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Many of the are located in California, New York, or have places across the world. Examples of the world’s best film schools include Vancouver Film School, New York Film Academy, and UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television. All of these are considered to be some of the best in the world, and a person going to one of them is sure to learn a lot about filming.

Among the world’s best film schools, Vancouver Film School stands out in filming. The school actually gets over 50% of their students from outside of Canada, which makes it a very international filming school. The school also has representatives from top filming and entertainment companies such as Pixar, Electronic Arts, and Dreamworks.

Another of the world’s best film schools is the London Film School, which is another international school. Over 70% of its students are from countries other than Britain. The school teaches its students on the actual film sets, rather than through classrooms. It is one of two schools in the United Kingdom that has been recognized as a Center for Excellence by Skillset.

Located in Los Angeles, The UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television is yet another internationally recognized film school. Students at this school will not only learn about filming, but they also combine theory and practice. This filming school teaches many different aspects of the industry, including acting, playwriting, and screenwriting.

The world’s best film schools are considered the top places to learn about movie making. Places such as Vancouver Filming School, London Filming School, and UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television rank among the world’s best film schools and they all produce some of the best filming eduction available. They all are internationally recognized as the best, and all teach the many aspects of filming. Anybody who goes to one of these schools will be able to learn a lot about filming.

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5 Ways to Make Your Girlfriend Like Star Wars and 1 Way to Make Her Hate It

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While most of us are happy to sit down and watch Star Wars, respective partners are not so willing. I know that I get quizzed all the time on why I like it so much. My girl friend can’t seem to understand why the Star Wars movies are so good. So I decided to sit down with her and show her why she should like Star Wars as much as me.

1. Harrison Ford. Most chicks still think that he is hot. Yeh sure he’s getting older now days but in the original trilogy he is still a good looking. Plus if you tell her he gets his shirt off in The Empire Strike Back then she will sit there and wait for it. Now we all know that he doesn’t really get his shirt off, just ripped a little, but you are allowed to exaggerate sometimes.

2. Ewoks. Girls all like cute and cuddly things, and there is nothing more cute and cuddly than a Ewok. I know that you may not like the half Wookie want-to-be’s but remember this is not about you. Tell the love of your life that if she likes them then you will get her a Ewok doll. I don’t know if you can, but you can tell her you will try.

3. C3PO. Girls like gay guys. They see them as a man friend with female advice, and who better fits that role than C3PO. Once they know that he is gay they will watch the whole movie laughing at his antics and hoping that he will find another gay robot so that they can live happily ever after.

4. Princess Leia. Chicks love a big tough strong female lead. They also love a soft and feminine character that they can relate to. Leia Organa has the lot. She is tough but soft, brave but scared. Tell your partner that she is a role model and someone you respect. That will win you brownie points every time. It shows a intellectual side. Hey lie if you have to, but remember were trying to sit down and watch our favorite movie here.

5. Cry when Darth Vader dies. When Luke Skywalker takes of his helmet, shed a tear. Show your girlfriend that you have a soft side. Girls dig that. They may not feel the same way, but if it gets you emotional than you will be able to watch it more often.

Now that you have her won over to liking Star Wars you don’t want to stuff it all up by doing something stupid. Unfortunately, as men, we are almost pre-programmed to do stupid things, and what is the biggest mistake we can make when watching Star Wars?

“Gee Leia looks hot in that slave girl outfit!”

And in an instant you have blown it.

Mind you in saying all of this I have tried it all and still have no succeeded in winning her over. Mind you, you are better to try than to just fail outright.

Terry Shadwell

P.S. I do know where you can get a Princess Leia Slave Girl Outfit!

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Is Your Dog Showing Signs of Stress? 6 Simple Techniques to De-Stress Your Pooch

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When it comes to our four legged friends, the impact of stress has long been underestimated. Stress in humans can lead to health problems, affect our relationships with others and can make us unbalanced, irritable and aggressive towards our surroundings. So, why wouldn’t we think our dogs are stressed out too?

Here are a few Stress symptoms of Dogs.

  • Restlessness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Very frequent display of calming signals.
  • Aggressive or anxious behavior
  • Compulsive behavior
  • Dog appears “distant”
  • Panting
  • Underweight
  • Excessive self grooming
  • Frequent barking or whining
  • Very frequent urinating.

Many, if not all behavioral problems with dogs are more or less stress induced What can be done?

You must recognize when and why your dog is stressed. We can defuse conflicting situations or prevent them form occurring in the first place. A stressor is something in our dog’s life that causes them stress. Examples of stressors are.

  • Death of a person well knows to the dog
  • Changing residences
  • Death or loss of a fellow four legged friend.
  • Being locked in a cage for too long.
  • Loud noises (ex. construction, thunderstorms)

When the dog is stressed it increases a hormone called Cortisol in the body. Increased levels of Cortisol can do emotional and physical harm to our 4 legged friends. The reaction to stress can be subdivided into 3 subsequent stages.

  1. Stage oneThe Alarm Reaction Stage. The dog has an interaction with nervous impulses and hormone release leads to optimum efficiency.
  2. Stage twoThe Resistance Stage – During the second stage the dog tries to cope with the situation which lowers his resistance towards other stressors in his life.
  3. Stage ThreeThe Exhaustion stage – If the stress persists, the animal can no longer cope. The animal will begin what is called “adaptation disease.”

This means he will revert back to stage one, but the problem will be ongoing. Adaptation disease is caused by a constant increased level of Cortisol in the blood.

Naturally, the dog’s body cannot keep up the sate of alarm forever, and therefore negative behavior will occur. If the strong tension and stressors lasts for a longer period of time the dog will react like the 3 stages above.

A permanently raised level of Cortisol in the blood weakens the immune system of your dog. Further consequences may be diseases of the digestive system such as stomach ulcers, and chronic diarrhea. In the long term it can lead to serious damage to the adrenal gland, high blood pressure, heart attacks and even stroke.

If you feel your dog is stressed out take some time out to make him feel better.

Of course all dogs are different, but this is a great beginning to de-stressing your dog.

  • Show them love and security
  • Healthy calm breathing with you.
  • Bonding time with his/her master
  • Give them enough places to withdraw to, rest and sleep.
  • Give them a life suitable for a dog
  • Let them have contact with other dogs, friendly cats and dog loving people.
  • Walks in fresh air
  • A healthy diet

De-stressing your dog might just make them a little happier. When they are happy you are happy.

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South Indian Actresses – The Hottest Ones

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South Indian cinema comprises of the movies of many languages and many genres. South movies can be in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada or Mallu languages. South Indian actresses are considered some of the hottest ones and in some ways; they compete directly with their Bollywood counterparts both for their oomph and their acting skills. Here is a lowdown on the top 5 actresses who have ruled the cinema.

Shriya – She was one the reigning queen of Tamil and Telugu cinema. She started her career with Ishtam and went on to act in dozens of movies. Her prominent movies include Sivaji The Boss, Nuvve Nuvve and Mazhai. After a successful career she tried her luck in Bollywood but she could not get much successful there. Later she returned to her home turf, south Indian cinema and is currently doing a couple of movies there.

Nayantara – This south Indian actress is credited with starting the trend of bikini-acts in Telugu and Tamil cinema with her movie Billa. In fact she shot to fame after this movie. Her super hit flicks include Boss, Vallavan and Ghajini. She was caught in controversy when some photographs of Nayantara kissing her costar Simbu were made public.

Sneha – She is known as homely beauty of Tamil screen because of her girl-next-door looks and roles in most of the films. This south Indian actress has done in all of the languages and every possible genre. In an upcoming movie she has gone for an image makeover as she is playing a tough cop. Her hits include Inba and Pandi.

Namitha – She is the voluptuous siren who has caught the fantasy of million both in India and other countries. According to Google, Namitha was the most searched term on mobiles in 2008. Namitha Kapoor is known more for her skin show than her acting skills. Despite being endowed with an over-sized figure she has mesmerized her fans in every movie. Her craze can be assessed by the fact that her fans are keen on building a temple in her name and worship as her goddess!

Anushka – She is another buxom actress of Tamil and Telugu movies. Anushka is known for her ethnic sex appeal. She has mostly done glamorous roles but in a recent movie Arundhati she played a very challenging role. Arundhati was super hit and made Anushka one of the most sought after actresses.

Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Mallu actresses are very beautiful.

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The Top Ten Movies You Should See This Holiday Season

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It’s the Christmas season, but that doesn’t mean you can go entertainment hungry. Not with all this good material around. Set down the decorations and celebrate with joy, laughter, humor, lots of family love, and some wonderful movies to help it along. Here’s the top ten Christmas movies for this season:

A Christmas Story

This classic is not only number one because it is probably one of the most widely viewed Christmas movies in America, but because it is something that is definitely something that all ages can enjoy. Safe to watch with the family and very lively indeed, it makes us all believe in a true family who although are just an average everyday 1940s household, create magic and mayhem around the holiday season.

It’s A Wonderful Life

As we all watch this movie we wonder if any movie as painful as this is can be worth the pay off…..then we see the ending and know that it most certainly is. When Jimmy Stewart reviews his life as it would be if he were not around we suddenly know what the spirit of true Christmas is, the joy of family, love, and being grateful for that wonderful life in which we possess. With such loyal town folk around we are more than willing to enjoy and feel Stewart’s pain year after year.

Miracle On 34th Street

For those children who are just discovering the truth about Santa Claus, this is the quickest remedy for true happiness. As we go through the trial of a man claiming to be the real Santa Claus, we try to discover the truth for ourselves. With the help of a little girl that tries to believe that this is the real Saint Nicholas of the North Pole. We cling to hope and happiness with this old time movie.

A Muppet’s Christmas Carol

With the help of Jim Hensen’s marvelous puppets we are taken on a oh so familiar journey with more happiness, Muppet mayhem, joyful music, and family fun then you were bargaining for. All that and you get an incredible performance by Michael Caine as that humbug Mr. Scrooge. Be sure that all the Muppets you love so well will be present along with that good message that this Dicken’s favorite will be sure to deliver on.

Gremlins

A little out of the common mold of the traditional Christmas movie, this classic delivers on a playful and mocking way that although not suitable for a younger audience is well worth a watch. Poor Gizmo and those mean ugly gremlins out to destroy all those town’s people Christmas fun. It will have you still screaming “Don’t feed him after midnight!!!”

Babes In Toyland

This 1960s cult classic definitely has a lot to offer. Set to a very fairy tale setting, your family will be enchanted by all the nursery rhyme characters set to a fascinating and changing story filled with costumes and effects a-plenty. Plus, who doesn’t want one of those incredible toy machines?

Little Women

Don’t look at me like that. I know that this is not primarily a Christmas movie, but it should be. Some of the most charming scenes in this movie are set around the Christmas season. Not to mention that this movie is definitely set in the Christmas spirit. With love above money, and happiness despite hard times you will be feeling the love this Christmas.

Elf

Will Ferrell gives every other elf a run for his money in this movie. With a lot to laugh about, faith of his human father on the line, tons of Christmas jokes, Christmas mayhem, and that poor executive who gets called an elf we discover the joy of laughter, faith beyond compare, and the restoration of true love free of all conditions.

Home Alone

That’s right, “Home Alone,” a movie with enough antics, fun, and for every kid that wished he could be left home alone this is the ticket. With some evil robbers trying to take over all the houses while everyone is on Christmas vacation this kid will definitely have none of it and he has more tricks up his sleeve than this pair of robbers have bargained for.

White Christmas

We’ve got to have a full blown musical on the list. Especially this movie which has enough Christmas music to give us those large smiles on our face. With a lively plot and a fun atmosphere it is guaranteed to be a new family classic in your house.

Enjoy your holiday season and may you and your family have the best that the world has to offer!

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Patio Heaters – What Your Patio Heater Manual Doesn’t Tell You

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A patio heater, just like any other appliance needs periodic maintenance. When checking your manual, you will probably have very good instructions in how to assemble and operate your patio heater. There may even be some useful troubleshooting information, if your patio heater doesn’t operate properly. But there is something the manufacture doesn’t bother to let you to know.

The warmer seasons are ending and you get your patio heater out of storage, ready to warm up those brisk mornings and colder nights. You turn on the natural gas supply or make sure you have a full propane tank. Friends and family are eagerly waiting to stand by the patio heater, so you go to light it up. Using the outdoor heater before, you know to turn the knob to pilot and depress the ignition button… click, and it doesn’t light. Okay, you try it again, click and it doesn’t light again. Your guests continue to wait patiently, but slowly start to move indoors and out of the chill. You check the gas supply again and try the ignition process a few more times, but decide to move the party inside.

The next day you check the instructions and troubleshooting guide, but still can’t get your patio heater to light and think you may need a new outdoor heater to move the gathering outdoors once again. However, if you knew a few maintenance tips, you might be able to save yourself the cost of a new patio heater and once again be the life of the party.

What most patio heater instructions won’t tell you is that a covered or stored heater is a favorite home for spiders and other little creatures. The cool, dark and confined space makes for a perfect nesting location for our eight legged friends. The debris, nest and spider webs created during the period of non-use of your patio heater, blocks the important functioning parts, making it not to work properly or at all. Unfortunately, without dismantling a couple key parts, you would never be able to see the problem created by the web, debris or nest. If your patio heater is more than a year old, more than likely it is out of warranty and the manufacturer won’t offer much help.

So what do you do now to get your outdoor patio heater back in operation. Almost all natural gas or propane patio heaters contain the same components of a control valve, a pilot, a thermocouple and a main burner. Getting to and cleaning these components are essential to having your outdoor heater working again.

Cleaning the internal parts of your Patio Heater:

Note: Always make sure the patio heater is cool, with any gas supply disconnected.

1. Remove the hood or reflector and emitter screen. The parts are usually attached to main burner housing with four screws. Once this is remove, you will have access to the main burner, pilot and thermocouple.

2. Remove the main burner, which is usually attached to a bracket with anywhere from two to four screws. Once the main burner is removed, you will have access to the main burner orifice. The orifice a small brass fitting with a tiny hole, measured in gauges. This tiny hole can become clogged or obstructed by the debris, nest or web, left by the spider. Since very little or no gas can pass through the obstruction, the outdoor heater will not create a flame or will have a very yellow sooty flame.

3. With a wrench or socket set, remove this orifice for cleaning. To clean, use compressed air or a needle to remove any obstruction.

4. Check the pilot for any other obstructions. On occasion, the pilot orifice, like the main burner orifice, will have leftover deposits by the spiders. This brass fitting will have an even smaller hole that the main burner orifice. Removing the pilot orifice can be tricky, as different manufacturers will secure the pilot in different manners. Most pilots, however, will be connected to a bracket holding the pilot and thermocouple. Loosen this bracket so you will have free access to the pilot. The pilot orifice will be directly on top of the small copper tube and just under the pilot. Remove the pilot and then remove the pilot orifice. Clean the pilot orifice in the same manner as the main burner orifice with compressed air or a needle.

5. On the main burner, there should be two openings near the bottom of the burner, these are called the venturi. Make sure the opening are clear of any obstructions, so air can be mixed properly with the gas.

6. With all patio heater parts cleaned, reassemble all the parts in reverse order from above, but DO NOT re-attach the hood (reflector).

7. Reconnect and turn on your gas supply. Following your operation manual, light your patio heater only to the pilot position. While keeping the control knob depressed in the pilot position, check and see that the pilot is lit, with the flame touching the top of the thermocouple. After you have check this, release the control knob (about 30 – 60 seconds) and the pilot should remain lit. If it does not, wait for the heater to cool and follow the pilot orifice cleaning instructions above. Reassemble and light the pilot again.

8. Once the pilot remains lit, turn the control knob to the high position. If the main burner orifice was cleaned properly, you should see a 4 – 6 inch blue flame with orange-yellow tips. If the flame is almost all yellow, then the obstructions in the burner venturi were not cleaned properly. The venturi allow air to mix with gas to burn clean. If no air mixes with the gas, a yellow and dirty flame is produced.

9. With the pilot and main burner now in perfect operation, wait for the patio heater to cool then reassemble the emitter screen and hood back onto the housing bracket, using the same screws provided

10. Light your patio heater and your back in business and ready to have another great party, gathering or outdoor dining experience once again.

Please note that with either a natural gas or propane patio heater, if you are uncomfortable with gas appliances, contact a qualified gas technician.

Want to know more about patio heaters, visit PatioHeatingUSA.com.

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Build Your Social Capital – 28 Tips

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I am seeing a growing trend in interactive media that is bothering me. Unfortunately, user engagement from social media is on the decline. I know many industry folks will challenge me here as the registration numbers to social media services are in hockey stick growth mode (as of this post.) However, the percentage of registered users engaging in the services as measured by clicks, time spent, comments, etc. is on the decline. I understand the argument that this is a natural trend as the early adopter “geeks” have a high penetration of engagement and newer social media adopters are more lurkers and generally have less involvement.

I don’t totally buy that argument. I believe there are several reasons for this user engagement downward trend and one of which is a lack of individual social capital.

Ask yourself a simple question… when you look at your Facebook News Feed or Twitter postings – how many posting do you ignore vs. read/respond/forward?

More now than in the past? Is it one in five, one in ten, or one in twenty?

Wikipedia provides more of an academic definition of social capital. In my layman terms – it is the authority others give individuals based upon their knowledge/experience/interactions with the individual. If your social capital is high then your blog post/comments/articles are likely read and esteemed by many. If you are an unknown to some – your social capital is in heavy evaluation mode by that some. If your social capital is rated low by certain individuals – you are likely ignored by those individuals.

I think the success of your social media experience is heavily dictated by your social capital. It is my belief that significant improvements in individual social capital will improve overall social media engagement metrics. For me, this is an industry-wide issue.

Given my experiences, I’ve compiled a streaming consciousness list of 28 Things to Boost Your Social Capital:

1. Have a Unique Voice – Don’t be afraid to stand out and speak your mind. Be willing to challenge conventional thinking – just use your experiences and become the voice.

2. Be Respectful – Always remember to respect and appreciate different opinions and points of view. It’s a good thing and it challenges smart thinking. As an old boss of mine once told me, “Say what you mean – mean what you say – and don’t say it mean.”

3. Generate New Ideas – I will often say that in technology “nothing is really new, rather a novel approach to the same thing.” It’s the same in media. Novel approaches are great and allow innovation. If you are good at generating novel approaches to business problems – people will listen.

4. Talk About What You Have Experience in – Self explanatory. If you are reading this post it is highly likely you have a decent amount of experience in something. Figure it out and stick to what you know. Authenticity is critical for success in social media.

5. Create a Trusted Relationship – Social Media has done a great job enabling the development and nurturing of faceless relationships. Do the right thing to develop these relationships as there is much responsibility there. This includes distributing accurate information, enabling conversation, responsiveness, etc.

6. Be Positive – There is enough negative going on in the world and your social interactions should avoid the negatives associated with that. This doesn’t mean you should only talk about good things, rather keep the tone positive even when talking about challenges. I am a believer that giving off positive Mojo brings back positive Mojo.

7. Listen – Remember you are a focus group of one (unless of course you are referencing research data.) This is not lip service – make sure you read postings and absorb what others have to say. Everyone is busy and if someone takes the time to post – make sure you hear what they are trying to say. Social is all about different POV coming together in a conversation.

8. Be Socially Sustainable – Make the commitment to social communications right away. Too many folks get-in, get-out, and then back-in, etc. Social media is not going away anytime soon so get used to it and figure a way to sustainably incorporate that into the balance of your life.

9. It’s a Process – Building your Social Capital takes time and lots of resilient effort. Don’t give up. Do what any life coach will tell you… create a plan, set attainable goals, and make it like brushing your teeth – something you incorporate into your life. Trust me – over time you will see the benefits.

10. Be Naked – Be willing to reveal yourself to your audience, even if that means sharing your idiosyncrasies or mistakes with millions of people. Jeff Bezos did.

11. Be Honest – It will feel good.

12. Resist Unimportant Chatter – This is a big one. Many folks post too much unimportant information (Ex. my dog took a pee,) private jokes, or every turn of their life. Resist the urge to share topics or issues that are likely not to have meaning to most of your audience. The reality is that most folks don’t care about your dog going to the bathroom and if you continue to post useless information you will be ignored when you want to be heard when posting something important.

13. Be First – Being first to report industry news, an upcoming product launch, competitive information, etc. is great way to build social capital. Simple rational – if you are on top of what’s going on in an industry, others will rely on you for more of this insight in the future. A more sophisticated and sustainable approach is to provide strategic commentary on the news. If your users like your strategic commentary they will always come back for more, regardless if you are first to report it. A simple strategy here is to setup Google Alerts with industry keywords. You then find out the skinny when it happens.

14. Learn SEO Right Away – It is critical you understand the basics, have a keyword strategy, and know how to quantitatively monitor performance. Your acquisition investment in traffic from social media needs to translate into a retention strategy and growth via search engines (Google, etc.)

15. Learn the Credibility Pyramid – My favorite commentary on the topic comes from Darren Rowse at Problogger.net where the pyramid is explained in more detail. For me, the most interesting part of the pyramid is the 50% at the top attributed to your care and concern for your audience.

16. Update Your Social Profiles – Make sure your profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, MySpace, etc. are current and express what you want your audience to know about you. They will go there first to get an understanding of who you are.

17. Start a Blog – Among other things, starting a blog is a good way to communicate your thoughts and build an advertising-free audience via social media and SEO.

18. Don’t Let Social Media Take Over Your Life – Another big and difficult one for many. Resist the temptation to let social media take you over 24/7. Enjoy screen-free time with family and friends. It will make you a better person and, at minimum, it will provide you with more interesting things to write about. Audiences love anecdotal stories about life experiences.

19. Incorporate Offline – Even with the great Social Media tools that exist today – online relationships are limited and can feel one or two dimensional. It’s OK to start with an online relationship, yet once you’ve developed a Social Media relationship with a respected peer – meet face-to-face. Meet-ups are becoming popular and typically enhance your Social Media capital. Disclaimer: Of course, be safe and careful as there are many weirdos out there.

20. Don’t Be Too Personal – This is self-explanatory. People don’t care about your athletes foot fungus unless it is in the context of an academic health conversation. It is too much information and you will be considered a bit weird, thus lowering your Social Capital.

21. Do Posts Yourself – I know this is a controversial topic as many executives have shadow writers that write blogs/Tweets/etc. under the executives name. The argument is that the executive is too busy to write themselves. If you are not writing under your name, as yourself – my position is that it is not authentic. If you tell your audience that others are writing for you – that is OK. Although, having others write under your name can reduce your Social Capital. By nature folks are not trusting and they smell inauthentic behavior from a mile away. They will call you out and then the hammer drops – it’s a bad situation… I’ve seen it. More importantly for executives, personally writing and engaging in Social Media conversations provide the opportunity to speak directly with customers, prospects, peers, and friends. A very different experience than the Ivory Tower.

22. Include Links – When posting (via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) it is important to include links to the resulting articles, blog posts, video, etc. as users are materially more engaged when links are available. Additionally, if the links are set up correctly they are quantitatively traceable providing key metrics for you.

23. Provide FREE Value – I know this is a hard one for many professionals/consultants that expect to get paid for their grey matter. Get over it. It’s the old cliche – if you give – you will get.

24. Follow Through – If you become an active participant in Social Media you may find that folks are seeking your help and advice aside from quick comments or answers to questions. Take the time and go out of your way to answer them promptly – be helpful. The majority of folks are respectful of people’s time and effort. You will make some friends, boost your Social Capital, and the payoff will come over time.

25. Be a Good Social Media Citizen – Get out there and comment, write, post, re-tweet, and share your views with other Social Media evangelists. Don’t just spend time on your own blog, Facebook page, or Twitter account. Just like you want folks to come to you – they want the same.

26. Remember This is Networking – Be professional. Act as if you are in a face-to-face networking experience.

27. Seek Industry Leaders – Do your homework and find your niche and the associated voices there. You need to understand the conversation and challenges. Read, write, and engage other voices in your niche – it helps to build Social Capital. If you prove yourself they will quote you and want your feedback on issues.

28. Practice a Good Value System in Controversy – It’s the obvious. Expect controversy to happen – it’s just a matter of time. Deal with it with respect and good values. Lots of folks are listening to your every move so don’t let the heat of the moment change who you are. If being right compromises the integrity of others – resist explicit comments or postings and handle the situation privately. The old cliche, “treat others as you want them to treat you.”

What Social Capital tips can you share?

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How to Make Author Events Effective

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When starting out, many authors wonder how they should promote their books, and many are disappointed when they hold a book signing and no one shows up. An author might sign books at a bookstore in his or her hometown and have a dozen or so friends and family come, but then the second book signing in a neighboring town might be a flop with only one or two books sold at the most. For a long time, book marketing experts have said that a bookstore is the worst place to sell a book. I don’t think that’s true-over time, authors sell the majority of their books in bookstores-but a book signing in a bookstore usually is a colossal failure for most authors.

What makes an author event effective? Participation by the author in terms of spreading word about the event is a large factor. You can’t rely on the bookstore or organization to promote your event. You still may not get a crowd of people if you do, but the more effort you put into advertising the event yourself, the more likely you will attract a crowd. Here are just a few ways you can help to promote your event:

  • Send out invitations via Facebook, Twitter, and other Social Media.
  • Send out an email invitation to your email list-remember not everyone is on Facebook, and not all your Facebook friends are on your email list so cover your bases both ways (and don’t discriminate and fail to invite friends in other states or across the country-they may not come, but they may cheer you on from afar and the positive energy helps a lot-it’s also a reminder to them to order your book.)
  • Send out postcards to people on your snail mail list-especially your older readers who may not be on Facebook or even have email.
  • Post the scheduled event on a prominent place on your website.
  • Make up posters and distribute them around the area-grocery stores, libraries, restaurants, anywhere there’s a bulletin board or a door where you can tape something-always ask the manager’s permission before doing so (and invite him or her and the staff to the event while you’re at it). Be sure to give some posters to the event planner, bookstore owner, etc. to distribute.
  • Send out an event listing, or even a press release, to local media-many television stations and newspapers have community events calendars. And you never know when the newspaper might write up the event, or the TV station might come to cover it.

Promoting your event yourself can be a lot of work, but it gives you a better chance of having an audience and selling your book than if you don’t promote it. Making posters might especially seem like a waste of time and money, especially if you can’t place them all, so I recommend making up a generic poster for all your events and then leaving a place where you can list the time, place, and location details for each specific event. Then you can later print up stickers or just handwrite that information on the posters so you always have posters available and don’t end up throwing any away.

Making an event effective also has to do with how you “sell” it to your prospective audience. Saying “John Smith will sign his new book on X day at X place” may not excite too many people, especially if they can always get the book at that place any other day of the week and don’t care if it’s signed. But spicing up the event can help a lot. Here are a few additional ways to give that bonus reason for why people should attend your author event:

  • Invite fellow authors to attend. They are not your competition. They are your greatest resource. If you get other authors to do the event with you, they can help you to promote it, and their fan base will show up and discover your book as well. People are also more likely to show up for six authors than one author. You might have to spend a little more time coordinating the event with everyone, but it also extends your chance of making the event a success, and if no one does show up, at least you’ll have other people to talk with, and network with-slow author events are often where you can get some of your best ideas for marketing your book just by talking to the other participants.
  • Have a contest or giveaway. Have a drawing-sell tickets, or give away a ticket for everyone who buys a book-you can give away free books, or it can even be non-book related items. You might even want to find a sponsor, someone who will donate an attractive or desirable item as a prize for the event-a great way to advertise for the sponsor. Don’t be afraid to get creative. I know of one author who held a contest for the chance to be named as a character in the author’s next book.
  • Entertain your audience. People may not be willing to show up just so they can buy a book, but they may show up if you are going to give a talk on a topic that interests them. If you have five or six authors, make up a schedule and each of you can give a twenty minute talk during the event. If you know anyone musical, it doesn’t hurt to have someone sing during the event or play an instrument. You can also show a short film or your book video. People want to be entertained, and they like free entertainment. Entertain them and they’ll be more likely to buy your book. And even if you don’t sell books, you planted a seed, so they might later buy the book as a Christmas gift for someone else.

No matter how hard you work, some events are going to end up being failures. But even if an event is a flop, if you are invited back to participate in the event the next year, give it a second try, and analyze what you could have done better to promote the event so you have a better chance the second time. If it still flops, then perhaps you might reconsider not participating in the future-especially if you are busy or could spend that time writing or doing something more fruitful-but if you have the time and want to keep going, the worst that can happen is you spend your time, and you never know who might show up the third time around.

Eventually, you might end up deciding not to attend certain events any longer, but also remember that sometimes it just takes the one right person showing up to make the event worthwhile. For example, I know an author who held a book signing and only one person showed up for it, but that person was the right person. She was the head of the library book club, and she liked the author and his book so much that she got the book club to read the book. The author spent two hours at the book signing and only sold one book, but it resulted in the other sixteen members of that book club buying his book a couple of months later. Not only that, but the book club invited him to their book club meeting, which included a free dinner and they paid him to come and talk. I’d say those are pretty good results from a book signing where only one person showed up.

Author events can be a success if authors are willing to make the effort and be a little creative to bring in the crowd. Don’t just show up for an event. Create the event, own the event, be the event. Then your author event can be a success.

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How To Care For Your Mudcloth

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The African mud cloth is an intriguing piece of artwork that has been made for centuries. Originally from the nation of Mali, the cotton-based fabric is a cultural treasure, and the unique designs that adorn it are handmade by African artisans.

Once the cotton strips are sewn together on a loom, they are then stitched together by a professional tailor, so that the cloth becomes large enough to suit various functions, such as for curtains, furniture covers, or clothing.

The delicate process of making and painting a mudcloth involves many coats of using fermented mud which was gathered from local African rivers. The artists use this mud to create the darker portions of their designs, and then use a caustic solution to bleach the areas that are not covered with mud.

Thus, whenever you find yourself with a mudcloth, whether you bought it, are borrowing it, or are just caring for it, you need to keep in mind that it is fundamentally made of cotton– which is a perishable material– and mud, which can be washed off significantly if the cleaning process is too harsh. This is a fabric that needs extra special attention and care to last long. And, if you’re an interior designer, you might be interested in a long-lasting African mud cloth from Acaciawood.

So, the first step in caring for the mud cloth is pre-washing it. This is a simple step used to prepare the cloth for the various crafts or sewing that you might use it for. This pre-washing will remove any excess dirt or dye that still might be in the material. After this stage, the fabric will become softer and smoother to the touch.

Before doing the pre-wash, or any kind of washing of the mudcloth, it is best to test a small piece of any part of the fabric to make sure the cleaning agent and/or detergent works properly. If you have never cleaned a mudcloth before with a certain kind of detergent, it is best to test it. But, once you know that a detergent works well, you can use it on future mudcloths.

Most detergents will work well, but it is best to take the extra precaution. Avoid using the harsher kinds of detergents and soaps as you can never be quite sure of the chemical reaction that might take place with the dyes of the fabric and the cleaning agent.

The precise method of cleaning can be by machine washing, or by hand washing. If you decide that you will clean your mudcloth in a washing machine, the best thing for you to do is place the fabric in a lingerie bag and wash it in cold water. You also want to use a gentle cycle with not too much agitation, and a mild detergent without extra chemicals (as mentioned above). Avoid the warm water and harsher cycles on your machine as this may cause extra wear on the fabric and cause the colors to fade.

Also note that in the washing the water may turn a dark color initially due to the presence of the mud dyes. This is normal, but your washing machine may require an extra rinse before you wash other clothes. To dry, hang it up in the sun, or lay it out flat to dry. The mudcloth can be ironed with a steam-iron if you so desire, although keep in mind that too much steam will wear out the fabric in the long-term. Use the “cotton” setting on the iron or a cooler setting.

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Ancient Philosophy On The Internet Can Change How We Think

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Here I am again sitting at my computer, my job is to write about the positive aspects of the Internet. I’d like to think of myself as a bit of a novice philosopher as well as writer. The other day in poetry class at university my lecturer mentioned a quote from a guy who I had already read and enjoyed, Baruch/Benedictus Spinoza. The quote mentioned was quite a simple one, and in my opinion simplicity is the best form of communication (and everything else for that matter). Spinoza once said, “Reality is perfection.” I feel this idea is quite a powerful one indeed, in relation to all aspects of life, including the Internet.

Where do you go these days when you want to find out about anything? Church? School? Parents? No, you go to the Internet. The Internet is the collective pool of unconscious, sub consciousness, and conscious ideas, beliefs, knowledge and wisdom of humanity from the past to the present. There has never been such a tool available for us. Of course there is a perfectly imperfect amount of crap out there to sift through as well, but that is intrinsic in this perfectly balanced reality that has always existed.

So, if reality has always been perfect, why is the existence of the Internet anything special? The truth is, it is only as special as anything else in life. Now, you have to ask yourself, “Is life special?” I think you know the answer to that one…then again there’s that perfect paradoxical balance. Why the Internet then? Well, my younger brother once said, and I don’t know where he pulled this little tidbit of wisdom, “The only constant in the Universe is that everything is in constant transition.” The Internet exists because of a natural progression in human thinking; it’s an evolution of our collective minds. It is a constructed idea formed through the process of eternal change.

Human beings have a huge history spanning at least half a million years. As well as the magic feeling of love there has always been the balancing emotion of fear. It seems that over time societies go through different stages where one of these feelings dominates and then permeates general actions by the community. At the moment many people would find it hard to disagree with the fact that we are in a period of fear. With war, hatred and segregation prevalent in reality as well as the ‘reality’ presented by the   media  news and  TV /film, fear is reigning supreme in many of our daily interactions.

This relates to the use of the Internet because it looks as though people are afraid to get on the Web. I used to be afraid for Pete’s sake! To tell you the truth I still have some irrational fears when it comes to researching a paper for school. I often think, “Will I find the ‘right’ information?” The answer of course is that there is always a possibility of things going wrong, that’s this perfection of reality. Life would be stale, stagnant and sterile otherwise. The key lies in our belief in this perfection. The Internet has eliminated the need to go to libraries and carry around huge books just to read small sections of each. There is also less need to get to a science library and then sociology, mathematics etc. So much information is now available to people in our own homes.

Whether you are researching seventeenth century philosophers’ ways of thinking for personal or professional reasons, or even just looking up information on how to make your own chai tea, or on how to change the oil on your car; the Internet is a source for so many areas of interest it is simply mind boggling. It is truly the most perfect form of reality’s perfection in modern contemporary society. That’s why they call this the Information age right? The only problem has to deal with the perfectly imperfect amount of pornography that constitutes more than half of all websites on the Web. What does this say about our current moral disposition in our changing perception’s construct of reality? I’ll leave you with that one to ponder…

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