Just Like You

Do you have a business but no online presence for it? A website can make a huge difference for many small and large companies as with the modern-day era, more and more people have access to information at their fingertips. A simple online search will lead clients, customers and consumers all to various areas that fit their bills. With that in mind, if you don’t appear in these online searches, you have far less of a chance than your competitors do of getting a business going. And hiring a website designer is crucial to getting your webpage up and running.

You can’t throw a ton of furniture in a room and call it decorated. Proportions, measurements, theme and most importantly, their design and placement around the room is what is going to attract you to call it a finished product. The same holds true for websites. If the site isn’t intuitive, easy to navigate and hard on the eyes, chances are your potential customers and clients will think the company behind such a mess of a webpage will be a mess itself and not worth their time or their money and that is the last image you want to paint yourself of when you’re trying to expand and make a profit.

Hiring a website design agency will add a professional touch to your homepage and with an online presence, anyone who wanted to know more about you or your business especially in the odd hours of the day when there probably isn’t a receptionist working at the desk can still know more by navigating your website. Further popular options include tabs with contact details where the clients and customers can get feedback to any queries they have without having to place a phone call and stay on a waiting line.

How to Deal With Negative Equity

When you have negative equity such as what is described in this link: ecreditdaily.com/2013/01/negative-equity-22-residential-properties-underwater-3q, you have on your hands a pretty big problem that you are going to have to deal with. The thing about negative equity is that you don’t really fully know when it’s going to hit you, so you just have to prepare for the worst before it comes so that if you ever have to make a choice about what you are going to do with your life you will be making it with the worst case scenario in mind, something that is incredibly important if you want to be as practical as possible and avoid any moments where you will be suffering from some kind of financial hardship that would be tough overall for you to get out of without taking further loans and sinking deeper into the cycle of debt which often ends up feeling like it’s never going to end.

One thing that you should definitely try to understand about negative equity is that it’s not as bad as you think. Most people don’t buy homes with profit in mind any way, they are buying a home because of the fact that the value of the home comes from them living in it. Hence, if you start experiencing negative equity you will find that this negative equity is going to have little to no impact on you actually living in that home, and would instead just be something that you have to deal with. You can continue to pay off your mortgage without really worrying about anything else. Eventually a point will come where you will be able to pay the mortgage off fully and then focus on raising the value of your property once again.

How You Can Support Students Without Having Internet at Home

There are many children around the country that do not have proper access to the internet. While some have limited access, there is also a large number of students who absolutely have no access to internet whatsoever.

This does not mean that the students who do not have the proper internet access do not have any potential. As a matter of fact, most of them are brimming with potential, and it certainly does happen to be a great thing.

There are a lot of reasons why internet matters a lot for kids in the modern day and age; it is a place full of information available. However, without having the internet, the kids are susceptible to lack of researching and networking skills. Additionally, students might find it difficult to actually pursue higher education, looking for jobs, or having inadequate qualifications for the job.

So, if you are dealing with kids who have limited or no access to the internet, below are some ways you can actually help them become better students.

Increased School Involvement

When you are pairing students to work in groups, the one thing that you can make sure is that you should always pair students who are good with technology to students who are not as good. This will ensure that those who are good with technology and computers can influence and help those students who do not have constant access to these factors.

Talk to The Parents

Create a list of places that offer internet and computer access in the town or the city, hand the list to the parents, and ask them to take the child to those places every weekend or so. This will definitely help the students learn these technical skills more easily.

Teach Technological Studies

Even if your course has absolutely no link to technology with the only exception being that technology is just necessary for the kids, you can start teaching tech studies before or after the regular classes.

Make Assignments That Revolved Around Tech

Another thing that you can do is make sure that you make assignments that revolve around the use of technology. Meaning that it influences the student in one way or another to make use of the technology.

Make It a Norm

Most students, especially the young ones have the tendency to actually start thinking of themselves as lesser beings for not having internet access. Make it clear that it is normal to not have internet. It is statistically normal too, so there is nothing wrong with it.

Integration of Project Based Learning

Unless of course the parents have a reason that they do not want the internet access at their home, help the students address this situation on their own. This can be done through project-based learning in which they can start writing proposals, or even ask local businesses or charities for small donations that will help them gain access to the internet.

Why Screen Breaks Are Important For Students

At this point, it is safe to say that students are more inclined towards online charter schools because they happen to have the right flexibility that helps them choose the programs they offer, as well as the timing.

Online schooling does seem interesting as it looks like it could give the students a chance to chase something else than education since they won’t have to sit in school all day. However, in many cases, students who are taking online schooling end up using the computer more often than those with traditional schooling, which means that they are spending more time on their computers.

Just like anyone else needing a break from all the normal habits that they are working on a daily basis, students, especially online students need to be away from the computer screens as well. Below, we discuss how a screen break can help students be better.

It Helps Improve Attention

This might come as a surprise to many people but the longer a student sits in front of a screen, the shorter their attention span becomes. According to research, the attention span reduces once an adolescent sits in front of a screen for more than 30 minutes. This means that a small break can certainly help the students get their focus and attention back.

Better Productivity

Since students cannot really retain their attention and focus for a long, once the 30-minute mark is crossed, the productivity also starts faltering. This is where the regular breaks play an important role because they allow the students to get rid of the excessive energy.

Increased Memory Retention

If you give time to students that they can use to actually digest the information and stuff they have just learned, they will have a much easier time retaining that information. Taking short breaks, and then getting back to revising the subject makes it easier for them when it comes to learning as well as making their memory better.

Lesser Stress

Needless to say, stress is a part of a student’s overall psyche. They can easily get overwhelmed, as well as stressed in this regard when they are taking a lot of information in without any breaks. When they finally decide to move away from the screen, they can get a chance to relax. Whether they do it through taking a short walk or listening to music, the options are certainly there for them to ponder upon.

Extrinsic Rewarding System

Breaks can be served as rewards, and they can also be motivating to the students to complete the work or assignment at hand as quickly as they possibly can, and have a break as well after that.

The 20-20-20 Rules as a Solution

The best solution is the 20-20-20 rule; it is rather simple. It only revolves around a single principle that states that after every 20 minutes, a student should look at something that is placed at 20 feet away, just for 20 seconds.

This is definitely something that helps a lot in giving the much-needed break to the student.

How Students Are Doing Better Than Teachers

Teachers can start by asking their students about the things that interest them, things that make them curious. However, that is probably not going to be the right answer simply because the students are probably unaware of whether they know this or not.

This means that the crucial part of talking and communicating to children of any age is to make sure that you are doing it in the term as well as the form of communication.

The terms here refer to the reason for your communication, as well as who is the participant in your communicating with, and more importantly, the form of communication you are using.

As far as the form is concerned, it refers to the aesthetics of the communication like the language through which you are communicating, the scheme, and the tone used in the process.

Schema refers to the background knowledge, it means all those symbols that host knowledge for the students in one way. Not many teachers know but the schema, as well as the syntax of any language, happens to be a very important part for the students, just as much as the conversation Itself. Shifting gears and starting to exchange ideas instead of just simple words is a huge step in the right direction, and it does not just take place because there is a conversation going on between the student and the teacher.

There has to be a trust element in the entire process.

Telling your students that you trust them when it comes to listening and understanding you, and telling them that trusting each other with ideas and symbols is the right way to go about it.

What Should Be Done?

The answer is simple, it can be done through terms and form.

Sure, asking the students about what they are interested in may seem like the adult question but it breaks the barriers. This applies to the same questions that are more centered towards the adults.

Questions like “What are you interested in creating?”, “Do you find anything curious?”, and “Do you have an inspiration?”, “What work would you like to do in the future?” These are some of the basic questions that you can always ask. Additionally, if you are finding yourself at a loss of question or if the student is not giving you the type of response that you are looking for, you can simply take the most traditional route and ask, “What do you wish to become when you grow up?”

We can only have a solution if we decided to move the terms and forms of communication. Ask the question in such a way that it does not make us look like adults, and certainly provides the students to have a much better understanding that even if they do not have the appropriate answers to these seemingly adult questions, it is completely fine and without any issues. They will not be held accountable for simply not knowing at this age.

Muito obrigado

I have many people to thank for our wonderful four months here in Lisbon.

Thanks to the Fulbright Portugal Commission in general and in particular to directora Otília Macedo Reis; Paula Lemos, who arranged all my appearances around Lisbon and Portugal; and Carla Silva, who helped me navigate everything from opening a bank account to buying train tickets. I especially appreciate the opportunity they gave me to address the prestigious Fulbright Brainstorms Conference at the Gulbenkian Institute.

Thanks to my students at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa for their interest and enthusiasm, and for their willingness to be taught a strange subject in English by an American who is unable to speak more than a few words of Portuguese. I promise to them that one day I will successfully pronounce “freguesia”.

Thanks to Dean João Sáàgua and the faculty of Nova’s school of communication for inviting me to teach this semester and making me feel welcome. I was honored by their invitation to give the semester opening address to the new journalism students at Nova.

Thanks most especially to Prof. Antonio Granado, who turned his class over to me and who worked closely with me this semester. His enthusiasm for crowd-counting (see this and this was particularly helpful! My only regret is that we never made it to a Benfica game where I could wear my Benfica hat.

Thanks to the professors at other schools around Lisbon and Portugal who invited me to talk to their students and colleagues: Helder Bastos at the University of Porto; Anabela Sousa Lopes at Lisbon Polytechnic; Paula Cordeiro at the Technical University of Lisbon; Rita Figueiras at the Catholic University of Lisbon; Luis Bonixe at the Polytechnic Institute of Portalegre; and Joao Figueira at the University of Coimbra. I appreciated their help and hospitality, and the evident interest of their students.

Thanks to the staff of the United State Embassy of Lisbon. I very much enjoyed the hospitality of Ambassador Allan Katz and Nancy Cohn, his gracious wife. I appreciated the attention and interest I got from press officers Abby Dressell and MaryAnn McKay. And I really enjoyed my visit to the Azores, hosted by Gavin Sundwall, the American consul there. As a journalist and voter, I’m often critical of my government. But as an American citizen, I’m grateful that my tax dollars are being spent very well by members of the diplomatic corps such as these.

Thanks to the staff of Traveling to Lisbon, the apartment agency through which we rented the amazing apartment in which we lived. They handled cheerfully the occasional problems, right down to calling taxis for us when needed.

Thanks in general to the people of Portugal for their hospitality and patience with this language-crippled American. And thanks to the wonderful local residents that we got to know, like Maria down the escandinhas, or Asim and Mohammad and Ali at “Taste of Punjab” farther down the escandinhas.

Thanks to Dean Chris Callahan and my colleagues at the Cronkite School for their support of my selection to the Fulbright program. And thanks to Emeritus Prof. Phil Meyer, the godfather of precision journalism, and Knight Chair Rosental Alves, who first exposed me to Portuguese in Brazil, for their recommendations of my application to be a Fulbright scholar.

Finally, I gratefully thank my wonderful wife, Ellyn, for her willingness to go with me on adventures like this one. Her enthusiasm for everything from making best friends with people of all cultures to her happy eagerness to try whatever strange food is on the menu is what made this trip so special. Thanks to her, we will be back in Lisbon one day soon.

Counting heads

It’s not all porto and pastéis de nata for me here in Portugal. I spent yesterday doing journalism.

I was contacted a couple of days earlier by Curt Westergard, whose Airphotoslive.com company uses cameras on tethered balloons to produce high-resolution aerial photos. He had been hired by CBS News to get images of the crowd that gathered Saturday for the Glenn Beck “Restoring Honor” Tea Party rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. CBS also wanted a credible estimate of the size of the crowd. That’s where I came in.

I started doing crowd estimates back in my Miami Herald days, for local events such as a visit by Pope John Paul II or the annual Calle Ocho street festival. After the 2008 presidential election, I wrote a piece about crowd counting for MSNBC.com, and that led to news media requests for an estimate of the crowd for President Obama’s inauguration. I used a satellite image taken over the National Mall on January 20, 2009, to estimate the crowd there at about 800,000.

Crowd counting, particularly of political events, always is controversial. The organizers of the event inevitably hype their crowd estimate — often grossly — to demonstrate the popularity of their cause, and opponents inevitably underestimate to fit their own agenda. Because of the wild pre-inauguration predictions of how many would attend in person — up to 5 million! — my reality-based estimate was ignored by many left-wing commentators and embraced by those on the right.

Airphotoslive.com shot for CBS News

Naturally, I expected more of the same about my Beck rally estimate. To calculate it, I used Airphotoslive.com’s very striking images (MUCH larger than the thumbnail posted here) to make density estimates across different zones of the crowd; a variety of ground-level images from news photographers and attendees who posted their photos on Flickr; and Google Earth to measure the square footage of the different zones. Yes, I included the crowd areas under the trees; the full-size Airphotolive images were detailed enough to discern the edges of the crowd even there.

My estimate is that about 80,000 people were at the rally. Ryan Shuler, an Airphotoslive image analyst, used the same images and a different grid-density method to produce an estimate of 87,000. Considering the error margins around our separately-calculated estimates, they are statistically identical. CBS went with the 87,000 figure, which I certainly can accept.

Now the fun begins in the blogosphere. NBC News, the New York Times, and other large media outlets that didn’t attempt a scientific estimate uncritically accepted Beck’s claim of “300,000 to 500,000”. (At least Rep. Michelle Bachmann’s laughable claim of 1 million isn’t being treated seriously.)

The CBS News estimate immediately was vilified by conservative bloggers, and often rabidly-virulent comments from readers are being posted on news stories that mention the CBS estimate. I won’t post more links, but you can find plenty by Googling “beck rally attendance” and similar search terms.

The frothing underscores the problem with hyped predictions of crowd size. Organizers and supporters are forced to insist loudly that the actual crowd met or exceeded their expectations, for fear that the realistic estimate will be painted as a disappointment. The time-honored way to dismiss scientific estimates that don’t reflect the pre-event hype is to claim political bias on the part of those doing the estimate. I am amused to see that those who embraced my Obama inauguration estimate as soberly realistic are now attacking the Beck rally estimate, produced using exactly the same methods, as deliberately biased.

I expect that kind of behavior from partisans on both sides. I am disappointed, though, by the many responsible news organizations that failed to produce their own independent estimates and instead reported only ungrounded hype. Their readers and viewers deserve better journalism than that.

[DOIG afternote: I welcome reasoned comment and questions. Don’t bother sending ideological rants from any direction; I trash those. Also, it may take a while for your comment to be read and approved. I’m in Portugal five hours ahead of DC, also the flood of hits on the site has slowed it way down.]