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Easy-Poll.com Offers Free Online Polls for Webmasters

January 31st, 2008

easy-poll-surveys.gifOne way for a fledgling website to gain traffic and encourage repeat visitors is for its administrator to add interactive features such as polls or surveys. A new service called Easy-Poll.com is offering webmasters a way to install such features on their sites free of both monetary costs and on-site advertising.

Website owners can register for a free account at Easy-Poll with a minimum of information - only a first name and email address is required for signup and confirmation. After registering and logging in, members can use the simple interface to choose between multiple choice and yes/no polls, and then choose among a few different styles that affect the background and button colors for each poll.

For multiple choice polls, it is possible to include up to 10 different options for answers. After the member provides the necessary data such as the URL of the website, the poll question, and the desired answer choices, the new poll can be displayed on the member’s website for visitors to begin recording their opinions. The polling data is tracked and stored on Easy-Poll’s servers, making it convenient for webmasters because no extra databases or software needs to be installed in order to run the polling widget.

Easy-Poll also works with many popular online services, making it possible to create myspace surveys, xanga surveys, or blog polls with platforms such as Blogger or Typepad. Each member can create up to 99 yes/no questionnaires or multiple choice surveys, enabling you to collect data on a wide variety of topics. This can be useful for bloggers with significant numbers of regular readers because they can use the polling data to assess the particular preferences of their audiences and monetize accordingly.

Meanwhile, the Easy-Poll.com site itself definitely appears to be in the beta stages. The content is rather sparse in places; for example, the “Terms of Use” page is currently empty save for the title, and the Help/FAQ section contains only two questions. It is also unclear exactly how the site is generating revenue. There is no charge to webmasters for running the polls, nor is there any type of advertising or revenue sharing agreement. My best guess is that the site is offering the free polling service as a way to build a large user base and traffic stream, after which additional paid services or on-site advertising can be added later.

At any rate, as long as the service is free and there are no unacceptable terms, it is still useful for certain applications. After I build up a larger readership for this site, I might try it out myself as a way of assessing how many people are actually reading the content.


Healthy Snacks Your Kids Will Love

January 30th, 2008

healthy-snack-foods.jpgIn contrast to the earlier article about party food appetizers, this list of “little eats” compiled by Kristie Leong gives us some suggestions for healthier alternatives to typical “junk food” kinds of snacks. The list is primarily targeted toward school-age children, but adults who need something to serve as a light snack between meals might like some of these ideas as well.


We all know that childhood obesity is becoming more and more of a problem in this country. If your kids come home from school ravenous for an after school snack, you can satisfy their hunger by giving them a variety of healthy snack options that won’t pack on the pounds. Plus, these snacks taste so delicious, your kids will never know that it’s actually good for them.

Here are some quick and healthy snack ideas for your hungry crew:

1. Make a healthy snack mix.

Try mixing some dried fruit with several varieties of nuts to create a healthy and tasty snack mix that’s perfect for the kid on the go. You can even add some low sugar cereal to the snack mix to make it more interesting. Kids love the variety of different tastes in this homemade snack mix.

2. Add a touch of peanut butter to a fresh apple.

We all know kids need to eat more fruits and vegetables. To make a high protein, healthy snack, serve sliced fresh apples with a thin layer of peanut butter. This snack is filling and will earn rave reviews from your kids.

3. Kids love to dip.

Make a low calorie dip using low fat cream cheese or sour cream. Add a bit of sugar free fruit jelly to make it sweet and delicious. Serve with whole grain crackers for a low calorie, heart healthy snack.

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How to Fix Unresponsive Programs in Windows XP

January 29th, 2008

This tutorial article by Adam Losier provides a step-by-step guide for what to do if your computer freezes up because of an unresponsive program. Fortunately, the author was nice enough to include some screenshot images that I was able to resize and compress down to manageable file sizes that should not take too long to load. Meanwhile, if your computer has not completely frozen up but is running much too slowly, see my article on fixing the computer CPU speed.


An unresponsive program is any program on your computer that freezes up and will not respond to your actions. This kind of unresponsive program can occur for a variety of reasons; however, the main reasons include low virtual memory, low RAM (Random Access Memory), and generic windows errors.

Several things can be done to troubleshoot an unresponsive program in windows XP. The easiest way to remedy this situation is to press and hold ctrl, alt, delete on your keyboard. This will open up your windows task manager - once this window opens you can release the ctrl, alt, and delete keys. The image shown below is an example of what the windows task manager looks like.

fix-unresponsive-program-in-windows-xp-1.jpg

Your task manager is a built in windows XP tool created to manage the applications your computer is currently running. This tool also gives you statistics on your computer’s performance and your computers network utilization.

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Who Wants To Be A Double Millionaire?

January 28th, 2008

million-dollar-junk-mail.jpgThis humorous piece by Dave Hughes is a good example of how the psychology of junk mail marketing can keep us hanging on to the idea of striking it rich through the mail even though deep down we know that it’s extremely unlikely. Although the author does not actually specify, I could imagine that the two million dollar piece of mail in question was for one of those Publishers Clearinghouse sweepstakes that we can never seem to win.


As I sit in front of my computer, sitting perched atop the classy cheap particleboard computer desk that simply screams “Spent all your money on the computer, didn’t you?”, I find myself staring down at two million dollars. I’ve come to realize that two million dollars is enough money to change your life forever, to allow you to reclaim past dreams, reorganize your priorities, and possibly get that snazzy Formica computer desk you’ve had your eye on. However, I don’t want you pitiful poor saps to think that this money will change me.

I’ll still be the same, lovable Dave. So much richer than you that you won’t be worth my spit if you spontaneously combust, but basically the same guy.

Let me tell you the story of how I came by this sum of cash. I’ll type slowly, since I know how you poor people read by moving your lips.

I was sitting in the computer chair that I got for Christmas, amazed by the fact that the screen looks so much bigger when your butt is more than two inches from the floor, when the impulse came over me that would lead to enough riches to ensure that I can get a decent interest rate on the loan I’ll have to take out when my kids go to college.

I decided to check the mail.

Unfortunately, my wife had beaten me to it. I walked into the kitchen, where she sat with a look of stunned disbelief on her face. Scanning the mail scattered on the table in front of her, I quickly noticed what had her so shocked.

“Is that money figure right?” I asked.
“Yes. Can you believe it?”
“That can’t be right; this must be some kind of mistake,” I said.
“I know. Kirkland’s never has a half-off sale!”

It’s amazing how quickly a silent count to ten can go by. When I got there, I said “Not the sales flier; the overnight envelope with the money in it.”

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Chromadrome 2 PC Game Review

January 27th, 2008

chromadrome-21.jpgThis article by Carole-Anne Franco provides a good overview of a relatively obscure game developed by Alpha 72 called Chromadrome 2. Although released in August 2007, it is somewhat of a throwback to the older arcade style games but with more modern graphics. Like those familiar games of yore, it is both simple and surprisingly addictive.


Have you ever gone through a GameStop, EB games, Best Buy, or another other store that sells video games? Did you ever gasp at the rising price tags and wish you could find nice good games for a lot less? Well actually on the Internet you can (and I am not talking about illegal downloads and Roms). Many independent developers out there offer great quality games for you to download at a reasonable price. Here’s one you just might like: Chromadrome 2.

Alpha 72’s Chromadrome 2 is the sequel of Chromadrome -a game that was awarded the Avault’s top shareware of 2004. So, what is Chromadrome 2? Released in September of 2007, it hopes to follow and do homage to its predecessor.

Description:

You play this yellow marble with eyes called a “Chromate”. Its goal in life is to go down tracks without falling in holes. Guided by your handy dandy mouse (or touchpad for laptop users), you guide this lovable fellow through these tracks. You make sure he doesn’t fall in holes; you make sure he goes on the jump ramps when needed; you decide if he should go on a speed ramp in order to go faster or if you should hit obstacles in order to slow down; you decide if you go for extra points by attempting to jump through hoops that may or may not aid you in your task not to fall down. There are 6 game modes: Arcade, Academy, Warp, Time Trial, Chromacing, and Two Player. You unlock these modes as you play through the game. As you play, you can even earn bonus features.

Systems:

Every Windows system since Windows 98 will be able to use this (sorry Mac users). DirectX 8 and at least 128MB of ram is also required (so most computers should have no problem).

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How to Write an Argumentative Paper

January 26th, 2008

argumentative-paper.jpgWriting an argumentative paper is one of those things that most of us do not particularly like doing and often resort to procrastinating, but are usually required to complete at least once during our high school or college years. If you happen to find yourself in such a situation, I will try to make the process easier by explaining what an argumentative paper is and provide some steps that you can follow in order to write one effectively.

First of all, an argumentative paper is an essay that advocates a particular position on a topic where there is reasonable disagreement or about which there are at least two alternatives worthy of consideration. While it is common for many such essays to simply argue for or against a given position, note that some topics may have more than two sides. For example, when writing a paper on alternative energy solutions, you could argue in favor of solar power, wind power, nuclear power, hydroelectric power, or even for sticking with fossil fuels. Likewise, your favorite political candidate may have more than one opponent in the upcoming election. Before starting to write your paper, it is important to research your topic as much as practically possible and consider all of the available alternatives.

After you have chosen and researched your topic, argumentative papers are generally completed by performing the following steps:

1. State your topic and thesis. In your introductory paragraph, state what your paper is supposed to be about and write a strong thesis statement that clearly informs the reader of your position on the issue. In order to capture and hold the reader’s interest, you can use techniques such as challenging conventional wisdom or disproving a popularly held myth. Some people like to quote shocking or alarming statistics near the beginning of the essay to pull readers in before going on to provide reasons for their initial assertions.

Remember that an argumentative paper is neither a full-blown sales pitch nor a political attack ad. You should stick to a logical, well-reasoned tone and avoid simple opinions, heavily biased language, or blatant emotional appeals. For example, I might be tempted to start off an essay with something like, “I believe that gun control laws are unnecessary because they are unconstitutional, ineffective, and stupid.” Although this may be true, it is not really a proper argument, but rather a statement of opinion. Your thesis should simply state your position, after which you will provide facts and evidence to back it up throughout the rest of the paper.

2. Provide context or background if appropriate. Depending on the issue, it might be a good idea to inform your readers about why the issue you’re discussing is important in light of recent events or because of something that is expected to occur in the future. The amount of background information that is necessary may vary depending on your particular audience.

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Fix the Computer CPU Speed: How to Change It

January 25th, 2008

fix-computer-cpu-speed.jpgIf you are having problems with your computer running too slowly, you may be tempted to figure out how to change the CPU speed. In most cases, however, it is not the CPU hardware itself that is slowing you down, but rather a combination of factors having to do with various software and registry files that have accumulated in your hard drive. With a few simple maintenance operations, it is possible to speed up your computer and reduce the frequency of errors and crashes without having to resort to expensive hardware purchases or costly repair bills. Here are a few tips to optimize your computer’s performance:

1. Scan for viruses, spyware, adware, and other nasties. A surprising number of people with slow computers wind up forking over their hard-earned dollars to “expert” technicians only to find out later that their problems were caused by viruses or adware that they could have removed themselves with a simple scan. There are a number of free virus scanning and removal programs available; I’m currently using AVG and following it up with occasional scans by Microsoft Defender. In conjunction with using the Firefox browser for surfing, this has worked well for me so far. I have had very few virus or slowdown problems despite my frequent use of the Internet.

2. Go through your hard drive and get rid of programs that you no longer use or need. Although you should be careful not to delete files that are required for your computer to run properly (such as those that make up your main operating system), most people accumulate a lot of junk on their hard drives that simply takes up space and can lead to hard drive fragmentation if regular maintenance is not performed. In order to check what programs you have currently installed, you can go to Start >> Control Panel >> Add/Remove Programs. From here you can uninstall programs that you no longer need. This will not only free up space on your hard drive, but is a recommended step to take before moving on to the next tip.

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Five Things You Should Know About Dentures

January 24th, 2008

dentures.jpgThis article by Sarah Borroum provides some good tips on what you should know about dentures and what to expect if you should ever need to go through the procedure of having them installed.


If your dentist tells you that you need dentures, you naturally have many questions. Having your teeth replaced with these prosthetics is a major change after all, and it’s not something that many denture wearers immediately embrace.

Many dentists will tell you as much as possible about what you can reasonably expect. However, it’s always good to learn as much as you can from any reliable source. If you’re about to get dentures, you should know these five things.

  • Today’s dentures look very much like natural teeth. A good dentist will use your skin tones and heritage to help you select the right shade for your new teeth. This dentist will also take measurements to be sure that your new teeth fit well in your mouth. Some dental labs will even offset a few teeth, just slightly, to make them look more natural. When everything heals up, you should have a natural-looking smile that you can be proud to show off.
  • There will be saliva. This is normal and will go away within a few days or so. Your mouth is full of foreign objects (your new dentures), so it is going to do what nature intended. You should keep towels handy to catch the extra drool for the first few days. Don’t worry, though: this will change soon enough.
  • You won’t be able to eat normally for a while afterward, but this gets better. At first, you’ll probably stick to soups and other similar foods. But as you heal, you’ll work your way back up to solid foods. Soon enough, you’ll be celebrating your new smile with your favorite meal.
  • Talking will be weird and sometimes difficult at first. You’ll have to learn how to form the words with the new dentures in your mouth. Some patients have lisps at first, in fact. But this will go away with practice. Just keep talking and your mouth will figure out what to do.
  • Your dentist can adjust your dentures if they make you uncomfortable or lead to sore spots in your mouth. Many dentists offer six months to a year of free aftercare, which includes these adjustments, so be sure to visit yours if you have any problems.

Overall, getting dentures is usually much more pleasant than the painful alternative. Knowing what you can reasonably expect after you get your new teeth will help you prepare for and deal with the things that will happen in the days and weeks afterward. You should, however, be sure to ask your dentist any other questions you might have – and contact him or her if something unexpected happens. Communicating with your dentist is the best way to take care of your new smile, especially during the healing process.



Search Engine Fun: Bush Still “Miserable Failure” on Yahoo, Ask

January 23rd, 2008

bush-miserable-failure.jpgWhile reading through an ebook on search engine optimization, I ran across a reference to the famous “link bomb” campaign that managed to get George W. Bush’s White House biography page listed at #1 in Google for the keyword “miserable failure”. In January 2007, Google made changes to its algorithm that caused this ranking to be dropped, and since then has generally filtered out or delayed the effect of large numbers of incoming links to a site, particularly in cases where such links are created within a relatively short period of time.

However, as the ebook author pointed out, Bush still ranks #1 for “miserable failure” at Yahoo. After running through some search queries earlier this morning, I confirmed that this is true as of this writing (screenshot images provided below the fold). Other miserable failures of note according to Yahoo:

  1. #4 Jimmy Carter
  2. #9 Michael Moore
  3. #11 Hillary Clinton
  4. #27 Abstinence Education (truthout.org article)
  5. #33 Alcohol Prohibition (cato.org article)
  6. #37 Democratic Party
  7. #46 Democratic Leadership Council
  8. #55 Chuck Schumer (New York Senator)
  9. #59 Al Franken
  10. #62 Republican National Committee (GOP.com)
  11. #82 Matt Blunt, Office of the Missouri Governor
  12. #86 Tom DeLay
  13. #89 John Kerry
  14. #91 John Kerry again (About page)
  15. #92 Al Gore
  16. #126 Sean Hannity
  17. #149 NFL Players
  18. #174 Conservative Party of Canada, Stephen Harper Biography
  19. #216 Chicago Cubs
  20. I searched as far down the 400th result, but did not find anything else that appeared to originate from intentional linking campaigns. Meanwhile, Bush is also #1 for “miserable failure” at Ask.com and #3 at MSN, listed just below the Wikipedia entry regarding political Google bombs. Here are some screenshots of the search results pages (for future comparison purposes, all of these were taken on the same day as this post, January 23, 2008).

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Savebuckets.co.uk Launches Useful Price Comparison Site

January 22nd, 2008

price-comparison.JPGIf you are the kind of person who likes to shop around for the best deal before committing yourself to a potentially expensive purchase, websites such as Savebuckets.co.uk can help you save lots of money during your online shopping adventures. Savebuckets does not actually sell any items directly; rather, they function as a convenient price comparison guide that lets you compare prices of products across a wide range of online retail outlets.

After discovering the site earlier today, I decided to try it out by testing the main search engine for “PC games”, a category from which I actually buy products occasionally. The search returned 167 results. Interestingly, the top result was not an actual PC game but was instead a Logitech joystick, while the fourth result was a full PC system designed for gaming enthusiasts. Most of the other top results displayed some type of PC game software, however, and upon clicking on one of the product images, I noticed a convenient menu on the left side of the screen that listed most of the major categories and genres of games.

This led me to what I was actually looking for - after clicking “Strategy”, I was able to browse through an ample selection of interesting titles, some of which were being offered for surprisingly low prices from UK shops. Unfortunately, many of the lower-priced titles were out of stock, but I still found some good ones that were available through Amazon or other major retailers.

Overall, Savebuckets has a simple but quick-loading and functional design that allows for speedy browsing of products without the hassle of heavy on-site graphics or annoying advertisements. The site is designed primarily for shoppers located in the UK, and all prices are denoted in British pounds. This is perhaps the site’s most significant drawback; if you happen to live outside of the UK, you may need to convert currencies or search for shops that are closer to your local area. Otherwise, Savebuckets is a good, all-around price comparison site that can help you find a good deal on most popular items, and may also allow you to discover lesser-known retailers offering products that you could not find elsewhere.


Robert G. Allen Author Review

January 21st, 2008

robert-g-allen-book.gifToday I managed to procure a well-written article by Melissa Gover that discusses the money-making advice of Robert G. Allen, a notable author who has published some interesting books about real estate and financial investments. Overall, Melissa’s article agrees with what I have read on other websites - the strategies that Robert Allen lays out in his books are theoretically lucrative, but in practice are difficult for someone who is not experienced in the real estate field to implement successfully.


If you’re looking for advice on how to expand your wealth, look no further than Robert G. Allen. His bestselling book Nothing Down helped establish Robert Allen as one of the most important investment advisors of our time. In addition to this financial book, Allen has carved out his own niche by giving the world advice on how to grow and invest their money. A frequent guest on many television and radio shows, Allen has become a staple in the world of financial publicity claiming to grow a million dollar empire from a tiny investment in no time at all.

Although some claim that Allen has helped them achieve financial independence, it is more likely that he suckered them into a bad investment. This is why it’s so important that before you invest any money you do all the research for yourself. Making claims is easy, but any successful businessperson will tell you that making money doesn’t happen overnight. For example, his nothing down techniques encourage investors to purchase distressed properties, which are those near foreclosure or from estate auctions. Ideally these properties will be much cheaper because of the exigent circumstances, but while Allen encourages purchasing these properties he offers no advice on how to find them. A common complaint from many “students” of this technique is that by the time you find these properties you’re paying too much for them.

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