Thursday, February 14, 2008

Ticket Speeding Ode

Have you noticed more autos on the side
Where mad creation is your friend?
Iron horse is weird back you ride
When all turtles had come to living end!

The True Cost of a Speeding Ticket

Have you noticed more autos on the side of the road with an officer issuing the driver a speeding ticket? Have you seen more trucks surrounded by DOT transport police? I sure have. There are several reasons for this increased activity.

One is that after 9/11 many departments have increased patrols. The additional police presence is to assure the public that efforts are being taken to prevent terrorist attacks like the recent sniper killings. The other reason is that cities and states are faced with budget deficits in these tough economic times. Since traffic tickets are a politically correct form of taxation, many jurisdictions are increasing fines as a means of balancing the books.

A traffic officer will cost his department the average of $75,000 per year while he can be expected to issue between $150,000 to $200,000 in speeding ticket citations. There are few businesses that can equal that rate of return. Some towns like New Rome, Ohio and Waldo, Florida take in over 70% of their entire town budget through speeding tickets.

What does this mean to you, the safe driver who has not received a traffic citation in years? It means that you are now more likely than ever to see those dreaded blue lights flashing in your rear view. If that does happen you need to know that the true cost of a speeding ticket has changed drastically in the last few years.

Consider Mary, a successful sales representative who enjoys the perk of a company car. She travels extensively and has received four speeding tickets in the last three years. She considers herself a safe driver and in each instance was traveling with the flow of traffic on the interstate. She has 9 out of the 12 points on her driver’s license. Imagine her surprise when her company’s insurance carrier refused to allow Mary to drive a company car. The company obtained supplemental insurance but Mary had to pay the extra $1600.

Then there is Jeffrey, a CDL truck driver from Ohio who is an independent operator and owns his own truck. He drives 150,000 miles per year and has five tickets on his record, none a serious violation. He is unable to obtain insurance that he can afford. He is in the process of losing his truck to the finance company and does not know how he will support his family.

Families with teenagers may face an economic disaster if the teen driver receives a citation. One traffic ticket for rolling through a stop sign could cost as much as $3000 in increased premiums over the three years it remains on their record. The insurance industry considers young adults as teenagers until the age of 23.

The purpose of relating Mary and Jeffrey’s stories is not for you to feel sorry for them. It is to impress upon you the severe consequences that may result from a traffic ticket. It is important to obey all traffic laws, not just for your physical protection but also for the health of your pocketbook. I have found that many people are more concerned about their pocketbook than their personal safety.

What should you do if you receive a citation? Never just pay a speeding ticket. Check with the clerk of court to see if you are eligible for traffic school, even if it is an out-of-state citation. Many states now accept online traffic school. Check to see if this is available in your state at

If traffic school is not available then you or your attorney need to appear in court to contest the speeding ticket. Hiring an attorney may be your cheapest option when you consider the additional cost of you insurance. Check with your insurance agent to find out the consequences of the original charge being entered on your driving record. The American Bar Association says: "The best way for the majority of Americans to be able to assure themselves of legal assistance when they need it... is through a prepaid legal plan." For nationwide legal services contact

Drive safe and stay out of the "No Zone." Remember if you got it a truck brought it.

The author is not an attorney and this is not legal advice.

If you need legal assistance consult an attorney.

Author, Wayne Patterson, owns two successful construction companies and has been featured in the national Constructor magazine. Visit http://www.speedingticketcentral.comand receive your copy of his ebook "The Bluelight Special".

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Email Writing Poem


Related Themes: Essay, Essay Writing, Writing Job, Writing Short Story, Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Job, Internet Job, Writing Job Description, Work At Home, Extra Income, Technical Writing Job, Poetry Contest, Short Story Contest, Songwriting, Songwriting Contest, Writing Lesson, Writing Software, Writing Skill, Writing Fiction, Writing Contest, Effective Writing

Sometimes email messages can get quite long,
And you can soar as the sun will rise:
It dressed up like crazy ping-pong
Player that gives us all a big surprise!

Writing Effective Emails

Sometimes email messages can get quite long, especially when you quote much of the material that has been sent in previous emails. Also, emails often get long if you have a lot to say or you need to give a comprehensive overview of a particular business situation.

Most people tend to find that the letters and emails they receive that are short are the ones they responded to most positively and had the best feelings about. Long letters do get a positive response — however, almost invariably, long communications are only given a positive rating if we have a very close and warm relationship with the person who has written to us. We rarely feel positive towards acquaintances and people we do not know, who send us long letters or emails. This has important implications for people using email in business. The vast majority of your emails at work are going to be sent to people you do not know or have only the slimmest of relationships with. Hence anything other than a short email is likely to lead towards a negative feeling in your reader. Play safe; keep it short!

This is all very well in theory, of course, but in practice, particularly at work, you need to include a lot of material. The answer is to treat the email as though it were a covering letter. Then attach the main text as a separate word processor document. All email programs can attach files to them, yet vast numbers of emails are sent without using this facility. The advantage of putting your main material in an attachment is that your recipient immediately views your message in a positive light because it is short and to the point. You should summarise the content of the attachment in a sentence or two — in that way your reader can gain all they need to know, without having to open the attached file. However, if they need more depth you have provided it for them.

One technique you can use for shortening your email is to write the main message in your word processing software, with all the detail you need. Then take a break, do something else and later on, read through your text. Now try to summarise it in a few sentences – that summary should be the main part of your email. Trying to summarise something you have just written is difficult as all the detail will still be in your mind. That’s why taking a break can help you as you leave your mind uncluttered and make summary writing much easier. Your summary email, together with the word processor document as an attachment is much more likely to please your recipient. This means there is considerable value in taking time to construct your email properly, rather than just dashing something off.

Another way in which you can be sure of keeping emails short is to avoid ‘quoting’ vast amounts of previous emails. One of the benefits of the ‘reply’ button on email programs is that you can quote the previous email. In this way the recipient can easily see what you are responding to. However, since many emails go back and forth between various people, the message can quickly become very long indeed — even though most of it is material from previous messages. The answer to solving this is to only quote what you need to send someone in order to make your reply understandable. By all means, press the ‘reply’ button to quote the original email, but then go through the quoted text and delete everything that is irrelevant to what you are going to write about. Doing so is seeing the message from your reader’s viewpoint — they don’t want to wade through the original text (their own!) just to see which point you are commenting on. It is much easier from their viewpoint if your reply is clear. In other words, only use selective quoting — not wholesale quoting of emails as is the most common practice.

An additional reason why some emails are so long is because the author is trying to cover various topics. They are almost ‘brain dumping’ everything they can think of that is important or relevant to the reader. Meanwhile, the poor recipient has to work their way through this mess to try and find out what is important. Good communication, particularly to people we don’t know, is focused communication. That means, in essence, that each email should be about one topic and one topic only. A hint to this is given in the email software itself where you have to type a ‘subject’ for your email.

If your emails are about more than one subject – stop! Each email should only be about one subject. Your recipient will react far more positively if you sent four separate short emails about four subjects than trying to cram all the material into one, inevitably longer message. Also, when these separate messages get replied to, the quoted material is shorter. Hence, think always, one message — one email.

Writting by Graham Jones, author of Effective Email an e-book priced at Ј9.99. For more details or to download a copy now go to

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Web Search Serenade


For the uninitiated, searching for web pages
This is due to possibility of ignorant aim...
Has seen whirlwhind of mirrors and cages
And yet their habbits named same.

Top Things You Must Realize When Searching

For the uninitiated, searching for web pages can seem a slow, obscure process. Unless you have a high-speed Internet connection, web pages may seem to take days to load. And the searching itself – you have to admit it looks weird typing in bunches of plus signs, asterisks, parenthesis, and other funny symbols and operators to find what you want.

To help you in this process and show that you are not, I’ve compiled a top five list of things you must realize when searching the web for information. No pencils will fly, no drums will roll, but you just might learn something.

5. Search Engines Have to Make Money

Before you grumble over the growing number of advertisements and sponsored links that appear in search engine results page, remember that most search engines are free. You’re not paying anything for a very costly service. Thus, these sites have to earn income somehow to stay afloat (computing power and bandwidth isn’t cheap!) So, to put it bluntly… live with it.

(Yes, I know some types of advertising are much more obtrusive than others. Popup ads, dancing animations, and other larger advertisements may make it harder to use some search engines that support these types of ads. If you don’t like it, vote with your mouse clicks and move to another search engine).

4. Sites Go Down

Worse yet, you’ve entered in your perfect search query, looked at the results page, and the first site you see no longer exists!

The Internet changes all the time. Unfortunately, search engines and directories are not able to constantly query every site on the Internet to see if they are still online. Occasionally (in other words, probably frequently) you will find links to web sites that no longer exist. It is just a part of life. Especially with the dot-com bust, many web site owners can no longer afford to host free resources. If they could not convert their traffic to paying customers, they just took their sites down

So when you find a link that is dead, don’t pump your fist in anger … just go back to the results page and move along. Or, better yet, if you’re using a search engine that caches pages, such as Google, just look at the cached version of the now defunct pages and find the information contained therein. It’s like stepping through a time machine!

3. Your Web Browser Will Crash

On a related note, not only do web sites go down – but so may your web browser. Sometimes it will be due to visiting a multimedia-intensive web site. Sometimes it will seem to happen for no reason. But it will happen, and when it does, don’t go blaming yourself saying that you did something wrong.

Web browsers, like just about any other type of computer software program available on the market, are not infallible. They can and usually do contain bugs. These may predictably rear their ugly heads when visiting sites containing a lot of multimedia and advanced interactive elements, or they may appear completely at random.

If your web browser crashes, do what I do. Just restart it. Don’t say you did something wrong. Don’t think that you must be so bad with computers that you crashed the Internet. Just restart your browser, and if you have to restart your computer to do so, then do it as well. Most likely the crash is not your fault.

2. The Internet Can Be Slow

No matter how fast your on-ramp to the Internet may be, there will be times where it seems to take forever to load a web page. This is just the nature of the beast.

As the Internet is a loosely connected network, if certain connections go down, computers may not always be able to route information via other networks. Thus access speed will suffer and your web browser will start to crawl. If this seems to be happening often, step away from the computer, go outside and take a nice, long walk (unless it’s 30 degrees below). You can run your search another time when the speed is back to normal.

And the #1 thing you must realize when searching…

1. The Best Result Just May Be On Page 10

Most people only look through the first page of search engine or directory results, usually the top ten listings. Others may visit the second page, but relatively very few people venture to the higher numbered pages.

This is a shame – sometimes the best results to a search engine query are not in the first ten listings as they may only contain links to commercially driven sites or sites run by web owners who know how to manipulate listings. In some cases web sites containing perfectly good information may not be listed in the top 10, 20, 50, or even top 100 results.

Obviously searching through the many pages and pages of resulting sites will take extra time, especially if you do not have a high-speed connection to the Internet. But, this time spent may well be worth it if you find some gems in the rough! So if you have the time, speed, and patience, browse through the deeper results pages. You never know what you may find!

And that’s it – my top five list of things you must realize when searching. This covers slow access time, results not on page 1, browser bugs, web sites popping up and down and changing management, and the need for sites to make money, causing advertisements to become more obtrusive. Gosh, that just makes you want to go out and search right now, doesn’t it? .

Written by Andrew Malek, Internet Search Guru and author of Find Stuff On the Net, an e-book that can show even beginning computer users how to navigate the Internet without fear. Gain confidence using your web browser. Master search engines. And more! For further information and free snippets of the book, visit

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SEO Opus


These days with millions of websites out there,
Oh god, do they smell!
All of them are almost bare,
Considering all sides of bell...

Top 5 Qualities to Look for in a Search Engine Optimization Program for your Website

These days with millions of websites out there, you need a way to get noticed. When your company website is ranked highly in the major search engines, customers from all over the world can find your front door. suddenly, your virtual storefront becomes prime business property and you are making sales 24/7.

What can a web site owner do to make sure your site appears in the top 2 pages in any given search engine? You could buy some submission software, read some books and try it yourself. But what if you miss something and find your site’s not positioned, or worse, banned. The only other option is to hire a search engine specialist.

There are alot of self-proclaimed, "SEO specialists" and "search engine submission" companies, so you need to know what to look for in the positioning program they offer.

Here are my top five things to look for in a Search Engine position program:

1. SE Optimization (SEO) – The pages on your site are checked for the percentage of keywords you want to target, and the quality of the content on the page. Your SEO consultant should make recommendations regarding your site content to improve it in the eye of the Search Engines.

Key search engines like MSN and AOL Search still rely on metatags or html code that include keywords related to your site. A good SEO optimization of your metatags can mean the difference of a #40 ranking vs. a Top 20 ranking.

2. Pay per click (PPC) – PPC search engines like Overture (formerly and Findwhat can get you targeted, fast traffic while you are patiently watching the other search engines to rank your site. Recently, Overture’s top 3 keywords results show up at the top of searches on Yahoo! above the Yahoo! paid sites. For some keywords, paying for a top 3 position can be very expensive, but with careful research you can find some keywords available for 5 cents per click.

3. Regular monitoring - You should get an initial report in 4-6 weeks and then preferably a monthly report. Your SEO consultant should provide ideas on achieving better rankings for keywords that are not doing as well as you’d like to see. While a Top 10 ranking is the ideal, some Top 20 rankings are realistic.

4. Inclusion in select pay for inclusion SE indexes and directories – Inclusions in fee based can be useful if you want to target specific search engines or directories like Looksmart and Yahoo! Depending on your budget, you may want to purchase inclusion right away or hold off until the other Search Engines pick you up first. Your SEO consultant should provide the option to help you get into fee-based inclusions, and be able to explain the benefits and differences of each one.

5. Submission to key SE directories – To rank well on Google and in turn, Yahoo! web pages, you need to be listed in the Open Directory Project directory. Directories like ODP are human edited and depending on the category, it can take from 3 weeks to 2 months to get accepted.

Yahoo! is another key directory, and you MIGHT be able to get your site in for free still, if it’s non-commercial or a very localized business to a specific city or region. Your SEO consultant should submit your site to ODP and monitor it to make sure it’s accepted, and depending on the extent of your program, offer to submit your site to the Yahoo! free submit, if it’s appropriate.

Written by Jim Lisi, Website Consultant. From 1996 - 1999 Jim Lisi worked in the web-hosting services industry at Concentric Network, which was bought out by XO Communications. In 1999, Jim was offered the position of Director of Sales at TopTenRanking Inc, a top web promotion company in LA, California. Starting in 2000, Jim Lisi formed his own web promotion company,, utilizing some of the best website promotion specialists in the industry today.

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Con-Sis-Tent Navigation Verse

Keep Your Navigation Consistent!

One of the single most important aspects of effective navigation is consistency. Why? There's a simple reason.

Visitors want familiarity.

They are more comfortable and more trusting if they know things are going to remain the same from page to page. They have a certain sense of confidence from knowing what to expect.

If a visitor can quickly become familiar with your navigation, it's much simpler to actually navigate. And of course, that's the whole purpose of navigation, right?

Besides familiarity, there's a second reason to be consistent. It helps your credibility.

Consistency in your navigation helps you present a unified, cohesive image to your visitors. In other words, you look polished, well-thought-out, and on top of things. Your visitors get the impression that you "have it together".

On the other hand, if your navigation is inconsistent, it reflects badly on you and your company. You'll look disorganized and unprofessional.

Here are 3 ways to maintain consistency in your navigation:

1. Use global navigation (which is a set of your main links that appears on every page of your site in the same place).

Global navigation is an absolute necessity. It ensures that visitors can always get to the main sections of your website quickly and easily.

Global navigation options must be the same on every page. Many sites resoundingly fail in this area. Often, the order of the links varies from page to page, or some links are missing on certain pages. This confuses even experienced web users.

2. Keep the appearance and placement of buttons and secondary links the same throughout the site.

I recently ran across a site that used three completely different styles of buttons in as many pages. This variation blew any unified appearance they hoped to have. It also made it hard to recognize which graphics were links and which were not, since there was no consistently-used symbol for "clickability".

On another site, secondary navigation options were on the left on some pages and on the right on other pages. That's a no-no. Visitors will never be sure where to look for additional options, particularly since this site was visually busy. Don't move links around from page to page.

Link colors, button styles, fonts, and placement should be the same throughout the site. The goal should be for visitors to instantly recognize a link when they see it.

3. Stick with conventional design standards.

In addition to being consistent within your site, you also need to be consistent with other sites. Don't get too far out on the fringe in trying new things.

If you use a navigation scheme that's completely different from what you see on most other sites, visitors will likely be confused. Make your navigation look and function like something visitors will be familiar with from other sites.

Written by Jamie Kiley. There are 605.6 million people online. Can they find your business? Jamie Kiley creates powerful and engaging websites that make sure YOUR company gets noticed. Visit http://www.kianta.comfor a free quote. Get a quick, free web design tip every two weeks - sign up for Jamie's newsletter.

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Navigate Through Usability Poem

Keep Your Navigation Simple!

Navigation must be simple. Since it's the backbone of your site, it's imperative that visitors be able to understand it. Here are two tips on how to make simplicity a reality in your site:

1. Your link titles need to be understandable.

Visitors need to know exactly what link to click on for the info they need. Unfortunately, visitors frequently get confused and don't understand what a link means. Consequently, they aren't sure what info they'll find at the other end of the link.

Often, a link name that makes complete sense to you will mean nothing to the visitor. For example, I once used a link called "Resources" in the navigation bar of a site for a client. This section of the site contained various articles and links to outside sites with helpful information.

However, after a little bit of testing, I discovered that most people had no idea what I meant by "Resources". They didn't know what kind of information was in that area. Also, when visitors tried to look for articles, they didn't think to check the Resources section.

In other words, the link wasn't doing anyone any good.

The difference between your understanding of a term and a visitor's understanding of the same term can be rather drastic. This happens because you are so close to your own business and your own site.

It's important to remember that visitors don't know nearly as much about your business as you do. They often have no background knowledge, and they might not know standard terms in your industry. Sometimes, you'll have to work to come up with terms and phrases for your links that are meaningful to the visitor.

Here's one general principle: Don't use clever terms.

Although clever attention-getters often work well in the offline world, it's different online. In character with their generally hurried attitude, web users want to know exactly where they are going and what they will find when they click on a link. They don't like guessing games and are usually not enticed by clever lead-ins. What lies beyond them is simply not clear.

Cleverness doesn't belong in navigation unless you're positive the meaning will be understood by everyone. You should avoid anything that isn't straightforward and clear. Steer away from any terms that obscure what your links are really about.

Also, you should be very careful about using industry-specific terms. You might be suprised to find out how much of your lingo doesn't make sense to people who aren't familiar with your industry. Carefully evaluate each of your links to make sure you're not using a confusing term.

2. Navigation options need to be kept to a minimum

The second way you can simplify your navigation is to make the amount of options manageable. Visitors tend to get overwhelmed if you give them too many choices. They aren't able to focus. Rather than seeing each individual option, they only see a mass of links.

An additional reason not to include too many links is that you ordinarily shouldn't send visitors in a lot of different directions. If you've established a primary goal for your site (you have, haven't you?), your site should revolve around accomplishing that goal. So it's in your best interest to keep the options down. That way, you're able to steer your visitors in the direction you want them to go.

Keep your navigation menus to 5-7 options or less. That's the max amount you can have without losing your visitors' concentration. Any more than that, and they aren't able to discern an individual choice.

If you find yourself having more than 5-7 options in each of your navigation menus, try to pare them down. It's better to simplify the list and make sure visitors can evaluate everything than to cram everything in when visitors will miss most of it.

If you really need more than 7 links, group the links into a few categories. Although this can still get overwhelming, it helps significantly if you categorize links for visitors. They can latch onto one category and narrow it down from there, rather than having to deal with the whole list at once.

Overall, try to objectively evaluate your navigation from the point of view of a visitor. If you can, get input from people who aren't familiar with your site or your business. They'll be a great resource in helping you determine whether or not your links are confusing or overwhelming.

Written by Jamie Kiley. There are 605.6 million people online. Can they find your business? Jamie Kiley creates powerful and engaging websites that make sure YOUR company gets noticed. Visit http://www.kianta.comfor a free quote. Get a quick, free web design tip every two weeks - sign up for Jamie's newsletter.

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Usability Navigation Ode

Custom Web Design

Related Themes: Web Design Company, Learn Web Design, Houston Web Design, Florida Web Design, Web Design Quote, Web Hosting, Web Design Tip, Domain Name Registration, Internet Marketing, Domain Names

Make Your Navigation Highly Visible

Effective navigation stands out. It's clear, obvious, and highly visible.

You'll need to have a clear section of the page designated for navigation--one that a visitor will immediately recognize as the navigation area when he arrives at the site. Navigation should not necessarily be the prime focus, but it must be highly visible.

On many sites, the main navigation is overly subdued. It sort of "lurks" on the page, but it's not the kind of thing that really gets to a visitor's consciousness. It gets drowned out because there is too much color or excitement in the rest of the page.

Occasionally, this is ok. You may have some navigation options, such as a privacy policy, that need to be available, but don't need to be emphasized.

However, aside from those few exceptions, you'll want your navigation to be used. So it will need a voice loud enough to be heard above the excitement of the rest of the site.

Here are 4 tips to make sure your navigation stands out:

1. Put it in a prime spot

It's all about positioning. Give your main navigation good placement at the top or left of the page.

When visitors arrive at a page, they scan in an orderly pattern from left to right, starting in the top left corner and working down the page. So if your navigation is at the top or on the left, it's going to be seen fairly quickly. Also, this is where visitors expect to find navigation, so they'll be primed to notice it there.

2. Use color

Besides size, color is the best way to get something noticed on a page. You can use color very powerfully in drawing out your navigation.

A very common technique is to place navigation options on a colored field, on a horizontal bar or a sidebar. This is effective because it creates a strong contrast with other elements on the page.

Just remember, the brightest, most vivid, most saturated colors will stand out the most. You don't necessarily need to use a strong color for your navigation, but you do need to look at how your navigation color mixes with the rest of the page.

If you have a very bright site, pale colors in your navigation won't cut it. But if the site is fairly subdued, even a hint of color to draw out your navigation will be plenty of contrast.

3. Give it space

If your navigation has a lot of clutter around it, it stands a smaller chance of getting noticed. In a busy situation, people do not notice detail. It's very hard for them to pick out specific items. Think about the difficulty of trying to find somebody in a crowded room.

Visitors will pick out the elements of your page that have the most breathing room. So be sure to leave plenty of space around your navigation. Don't let other elements--especially other text--get so close that the navigation is crowded out.

4. Separate it from ads

If want your navigation to be noticed, keep it away from ads.

People on the web are highly suceptible to "banner blindness". That's a real condition in which people ignore anything that is associated with an ad. Since most people are not fond of ads they try to avoid them. So keep ads and navigation physically separated. Don't let them get mixed together.

Two key pointers: never put navigation above the logo. Since banners are frequently located in the center of the top of the page, that's a prime spot to be ignored.

Also, if you have a blank, empty white space between your logo and something on the right side of the page, be very careful about filling it with navigation. It will be confused with banners simply because of guilt by association.

In addition to physically separating ads and navigation, you should make sure that your navigation doesn't LOOK like an ad. Square or rectangular buttons and images at the top and sides of the page are especially problematic.

For example, take a look at Notice that the member login button is not very obvious as navigation. It has an ad-like appearance and it's in an area of the page where visitors would expect to see an ad.

Critically evaluate all of your buttons and images to make sure they won't be mixed up with ads. Don't leave any confusion in a visitor's mind about where ads stop and navigation begins.

Position, color, space, and separation from ads. There you have it--four tips for making your navigation stand out.

Written by Jamie Kiley. There are 605.6 million people online. Can they find your business? Jamie Kiley creates powerful and engaging websites that make sure YOUR company gets noticed. Visit http://www.kianta.comfor a free quote. Get a quick, free web design tip every two weeks - sign up for Jamie's newsletter.

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Great Diary Dreaming Serenade


Related Themes: Essay, Essay Writing, Writing Job, Writing Short Story, Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Job, Internet Job, Writing Job Description, Work At Home, Extra Income, Technical Writing Job, Poetry Contest, Short Story Contest, Songwriting, Songwriting Contest, Writing Lesson, Writing Software, Writing Skill, Writing Fiction, Writing Contest, Effective Writing

Create A Dream Diary

How many times have you forced yourself to sit in front of a computer and waited for inspiration to strike?Most of us at some point, whether just starting out or even an experienced published writer, have suffered from the proverbial writers block or have struggled to kick-start their creativity.

Sometimes ideas just flow and writing our article or story is easy. Inspiration flows over us like waves and the subsequent finished piece is almost word perfect and requires very little editing. But for those times when inspiration is on holiday or worse, on strike, help yourself to master those off days by creating a dream diary.

If you are one of those unfortunate people who believe that they rarely dream or at least have trouble remembering them, a dream diary is obviously going to be a problem.But you can train yourself to remember your dreams in the mornings, but this may take time and practise.

Try leaving a notepad by your bed or invest in a Dictaphone, at least if you do wake up during or after your dream, you can leave instant notes for yourself. Just in case on falling asleep, you eliminate all memory of this wonderful plot.

Even nightmares can be a useful aid to creating a masterpiece, so next time you experience one, look to the positive, and tell yourself that this is going to help you get work published. For those interested in the meaning of dreams, invest in a good book, and not only can you create a great story but you can also work out what made you dream this particular scenario in the first place. It may well provide answers to questions in your everyday life.

As a child, I had the same recurring dream where I was in my back garden and a dinosaur type large red bird, chased me from one length of the garden right up to my back door, which I managed to slam shut and lock with only seconds to spare. Scary? Of course…but the experience helped me to be able to pace my stories and to link tension into the right places of my plot.

I have often wondered what psychologists would make of my numerous and often odd, dream sequences and it is probably just as well that they have never been analysed by anyone other than myself.Although your dream may be vivid and almost overwhelming in its clarity, in the cold reality of daylight, many flaws can be present with that creative enlightenment. But remember, your dream is there to prompt you with a possible story line, it is not set in stone and you do not have to copy it, stage by stage.

Use it to express yourself in a new and different way. It may also be useful to close your eyes and try to re-live your dream in your minds eye. Remember what you felt, sights, sounds, familiar scents, allow yourself to forget the present and immerse yourself back in your dream.

You will be amazed at how much you find you can remember and new scenarios may well fall into place as you practise this gentle meditation.I once dreamed a whole episode of Star Trek, complete with regular cast, a few new characters thrown in and of course, I took the lead role in the drama. I have never attempted to write an episode for television and one for a program, which relies on much technical input, would probably not be for my first attempt, however, the plot (if I say so myself) was exceptional and it is recorded in my dream diary for future use.

Whilst there would be very few changes to the initial plot, I was very surprised by the amount of technical knowledge sustained which proved to me just how much information our subconscious thought process retains and then subsequently uses in the course of our nightly shenanigans.If you are lucky and your creative tact needs no prompting, you will not need to refer to your dream diary all that often, however, it can be interesting to read back over your entries over a period of time and ascertain just how far your imagination has taken you.

Just remember, in your dreams you are not restricted by earthly ties and you can let your imagination loose in the knowledge that inspiration is guiding you.Using a dream diary allows you to access your creative zone deep in the dark recesses of your mind and to harness that creative power. Do not waste this opportunity to provide original thought provoking ideas, just remember to record them carefully.

Ideas are gold dust and could, one day earn you a great deal of money as well as providing an insight into a side of your personality very rarely seen.

Annette Beveridge-Young is the Editor of the International Writers Competition Website Annette has had a variety of articles and stories published, both in magazines and on the Internet and won various poetry and fiction competitions.

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Small Business Opus

Small Businesses - Big Obstacles

Everyone is talking about small businesses. In 1993, when it was allowed, more than 90,000 new firms were registered by individuals. Now, less than three years later, official figures show that only 40,000 of them still pay their dues and present annual financial statements. These firms are called "active" - but this is a misrepresentation. Only a very small fraction really does business and produces income.

Why this reversal? Why were people so enthusiastic to register companies - and then became too desperate to operate them?

Small businesses is more than a fashion or a buzzword. In the USA, only small businesses create new jobs. The big dinosaur firms (the "blue-chips") create negative employment - they fire people. This trend has a glitzy name: downsizing.

In Israel many small businesses became world class exporters and big companies in world terms. The same goes, to a lesser extent, in Britain and in Germany.

Virtually every Western country has a "Small Business Administration" (SBAs).

These agencies provide many valuable services to small businesses:

They help them organize funding for all their needs: infrastructure, capital goods (machinery and equipment), land, working capital, licence and patent fees and charges, etc.

The SBAs have access to government funds, to local venture capital funds, to international and multilateral investment sources, to the local banking community and to private investors. They act as capital brokers at a fraction of the costs that private brokers and organized markets charge.

They assist the entrepreneur in the preparation of business plans, feasibility studies, application forms, questionnaires - and any other thing which the new start-up venture might need to raise funds to finance its operations.

This saves the new business a lot of money. The costs of preparing such documents in the private sector amount to thousands of DM per document.

They reduce bureaucracy. They mediate between the small business and the various tentacles of this squid called The Government. They become the ONLY address which the new business should approach, a "One Stop Shop".

But why do new (usually small) businesses need special treatment and encouragement at all? And if they do need it - what are the best ways to provide them with this help?

A new businesses goes through phases in business cycle (very similar to the stages in human life).

The first phase - is the formation of an idea. A person - or a limited group of people join forces, centred around one exciting invention, process or service.

These crystallizing ideas have a few hallmarks:

They are oriented to fill the needs of a market niche (a small group of select consumers or customers) , or to provide an innovative solution to a problem which bothers many, or to create a market for a totally new product or service, or to provide a better solution to a problem which is solved in a non-efficient manner.

At this stage what the entrepreneurs need most is expertise. They need a marketing expert to tell them if their idea is marketable and viable. They need a financial expert to tell them if they can get funds in each phase of the business cycle - and wherefrom and also if the product or service can produce enough income to support the business, pay back debts and yield a profit to the investors. They need technical experts to tell them if the idea can or cannot be transformed to reality and what it requires by way of technology transfers, engineering skills, know-how, etc.

Once the idea has been shaped to its final form by the team of entrepreneurs and experts - the proper legal entity should be formed. A bewildering array of possibilities arises:

A partnership? A corporation - and if so a stock or a non-stock company? A research and development (RND) entity? A foreign company or a local entity? And so on.

This decision is of cardinal importance. It has enormous tax implications and in the near future of the firm it greatly influences the firm's ability to raise funds in the foreign capital markets. Thus, a lawyer must be consulted who knows both the local applicable laws and the foreign legislation in markets which could be relevant to the firm.

This costs a lot of money. One thing that entrepreneurs are in short supply of - is money. Free legal advice will be highly appreciated by them.

When the firm is properly legally established, registered with all the necessary authorities and has appointed an accounting firm - it can go on to tackle its main business: developing new products and services. At this stage the firm should adopt Western accounting standards and methodology. The Macedonian accounting system leaves too much room for creative playing with reserves and with amortization. No one in the West will give the firm credits or invest in it based on local financial statements.

A whole host of problems faces the new firm immediately upon its formation.

Good entrepreneurs do not necessarily make good managers. Management techniques are not a genetic heritage. They must be learnt and assimilated. Today's modern management includes many elements: manpower, finances, marketing, investing in the firm's future through the development of new products, services or even whole new business lines. That is quite a lot and very few people are properly trained to do the job successfully.

On top of that, markets do not always react the way entrepreneurs expect them to react. Markets are evolving creatures: they change, they develop, they disappear and re-appear. They are exceedingly hard to predict. The sales projections of the firm could prove to be unfounded. Its contingency funds can evaporate.

Sometimes it is better to create a product mix: manufacture well-recognized products which will sell well for sure - side by side with innovative products.

I gave you a brief - and by no way comprehensive - taste of what awaits the new business and its initiator. You see that a lot of money and effort are needed even in the first phases of creating a business.

How can the Government help?

It could set up an "Entrepreneur's One Stop Shop".

A person wishing to establish a new business will go to a government agency.

In one office, he will find the representatives of all the relevant government offices, authorities, agencies and municipalities. He will present his case and the business that he wishes to develop. In a matter of few weeks he will receive all the necessary permits and licences without having to go to each of the offices separately.

Having finalized the obtaining of licences and permits and the registration with all the appropriate authorities - the entrepreneur will move on to the next room in the same building. Here he will receive a list of all the sources of capital available to him both locally and from foreign sources. The terms and conditions of the financing will be specified near each and every sources. Example: EBRD - loans of up to 10 years - interest between 6.5% to 8% - grace period of up to 3 years - finances mainly industry, financial services, environmental projects, infrastructure and public services.

The entrepreneur will select the sources of funds most suitable for his needs - and proceed to the next room.

The next room will contain all the experts necessary to establish the business, get it going - and, most important, raise funds from both local and international institutions. For a symbolic sum they will prepare all the documents required by the financing institutions as per their instructions.

But entrepreneurs in Macedonia are still fearful and uninformed. They are intimidated by the complexity of the task facing them.

The solution is simple: a tutor or a mentor will be attached to each and every entrepreneur. This tutor will escort the entrepreneur from the first phase to the last.

He will be employed by the "One Stop Shop" and his role will be to ease life for the novice businessman. He will transform the person to a businessman.

And then they will wish the entrepreneur: "Bon Voyage" - and may the best ones win.

Sam Vaknin is the author of "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited" and "After the Rain - How the West Lost the East". He is a columnist in "Central Europe Review", United Press International (UPI) and and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory, Suite101 and Until recently, he served as the Economic Advisor to the Government of Macedonia. His web site:

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Selling Scare Verse

Why Am I Afraid to Sell?

Relationship marketing. It's the backbone of a successful online business. Fail to forge online relationships and your business will suffer. Simple enough concept, right? But what does "relationship marketing" really mean? Simply put, it refers to the principle that, in order to be successful in business, especially online since it's such an anonymous medium, you need to establish a relationship of trust with your site visitors and ezine readers before you can expect them to do business with you. It requires a commitment to customer service and a willingness to help others for no certain reward other than the satisfaction of helping another and building for yourself and your business a reputation of credibility and trustworthiness.

At the end of the day, though, if your business is to be successful, you have to turn a buck. One of the most common anxieties expressed by new (and even not so new) online entrepreneurs, though, is that they don't want to come across as "selling something" to those with whom they have forged the very relationship that is a prerequisite to actually making the sale!

In other words, the focus on "relationship marketing" has been so much on the relationship that the marketing begins to feel crass and a violation of trust. Many new online business owners report that they feel like they're taking advantage of the trust of those with whom they have forged a bond. Of course, there's no reason to feel any such thing so long as you believe in what it is you're selling and that it's something that will benefit your customers. If you don't feel this way, then your bad feelings are well placed. You ARE taking advantage!

The discomfort associated with selling is not restricted to the business owner, either. I have received several indignant emails over the course of the past year or so from readers of my ezine in response to promotions I have run for programs I actively promote. The recurring theme of these sorts of communications is that I have a "responsibility" to my readers because they've come to rely on me as an authoritative source of information and I have somehow breached this responsibility by doing something so crass as to actually market the programs I promote to earn part of my online income. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that, since I accept paid advertising in my ezine, I should be content with that revenue stream and not seek to make money by promoting outside programs.

My response to this line of reasoning is simply that I'm running a BUSINESS. I'm not working nights and weekends on my site and on my ezine out of the goodness of my heart. I'm just not that noble, believe me. I have a profit motive. Despite what some people seem to think, a profit motive is NOT, in and of itself, a Bad Thing. A profit motive is only a Bad Thing when one misleads, deceives and otherwise takes advantage of the trust of another to pursue that profit. There's no reason to apologize or feel guilty for wanting to make an honest profit.

How about you? Do you have just a twinge of uneasiness when it comes to marketing your products and services? Here are some ideas to help you overcome the reticence you may feel in pursuing sales from your prospective customers and how to manage these relationships so that your customer understands that, although you are there to help them, you are also out to help yourself by earning an honest living.


The very first thing you need to do is decide what it is you're really doing when you create your website or publish your ezine. Is it a hobby or is it a business? The difference, respectively, is the absence or presence of a profit motive. If it's a hobby, fine. Don't try and turn a profit, just enjoy yourself and make just enough to cover your expenses if you can. But if it's a business, understand that making a profit is non-negotiable. It's the reason for your business's existence. You will no doubt have several purposes. But the profit motive is key.

Do whatever it takes to crystallize your purposes. For some people, just thinking about it and making a mental decision is sufficient. For others, crystallization requires seeing it in black and white. If that's you, write down your purposes. Again, though, if you're running a business rather than indulging in a hobby, turning a profit must be on your list of purposes (unless, I suppose, you're running a non-profit business but we'll leave that aside for present purposes). Recognize that purpose for what it is. Embrace it. PURSUE it with a vengeance. It's nothing to be ashamed or coy about. So long as you intend to do so, and actually do so, by legitimate, honest and ethical means, give yourself permission to aggressively chase a dollar. Why crystallize your purposes in this way? Because they'll keep you on track when you're confronted by the naysayers who'll inevitably pop up in your porridge.


The concept of "relationship marketing" does NOT mean getting up close and personal with your customers. You'll save yourself a lot of grief and angst if you just keep things businesslike and professional - friendly to be sure, but not *overly* personal. It's possible to be friendly and helpful in a professional, businesslike manner without stepping over the line into the personal. The people you're dealing with are not your friends, they're your customers. Of course, over time, you may become friends with certain people who started out as customers. But don't start from the position that you have to be friends with your customers in order to engage in relationship marketing. You don't. Keep it businesslike and professional and you won't raise any unrealistic expectations.


One way of keeping yourself in check is by constantly testing your decisions against the criteria "is this decision in the best interests of my business?". If so, do it, recognizing that something can be in the best interests of your business even if it doesn't involve cash flowing in your direction. If not, don't. Occasionally, it will be in the best interests of your business to do something that may be perceived by your customer as a personal favor. An example might be giving a refund for a purchase under circumstances where the customer is not strictly entitled to one and where you have an ongoing relationship with the customer. You do so in the interests of customer service and this is certainly an example of something that is in your business's best interests.

Sometimes, however, customers can take advantage of such a policy. To forestall this type of problem, if you decide to do something that benefits your customer/reader/visitor over and above what they have an entitlement to, make it clear, in a subtle way, that you are doing so for business reasons. Be prepared to set limits though. Know how far you are prepared to go before it stops being a business decision and becomes a personal one and to the detriment of your business interests.

Being uncomfortable saying "no" is not a good enough reason to sacrifice your business's best interests if that's the right decision in all the circumstances.


Don't be shy about promoting your products and services and letting your prospective customers know you would like for them to purchase from you. Be direct, open and honest about it. For example, if someone emails me and asks for my advice about how to get started in an online business of their own, I'll recommend products that I think will benefit them. Typically, I recommend Cookie Cutter and Cash Cow if they're new to internet marketing. Why? Firstly, I believe in both products and think they give the newbie an efficient, cost-effective way of learning a lot about how online businesses work in a short period of time.

Secondly, I am an affiliate of both programs and earn $20 a pop each time I sell one. Would I recommend any products that are directly relevant to my business that I don't have a financial interest in? No. Why? I have a profit motive. My time is money. The key is, I believe in the products. If I thought there were better products out there than the ones I was promoting I'd recommend them too. But only after I signed up as an affiliate so I could make a profit from my recommendation.

On the other hand, occasionally I'm asked to recommend a webhost. I'm an inactive affiliate of one of the major webhosting companies but I never recommend them because I think they're too expensive. In this case, I refer the enquirer to the webhost I use for my own site. I'm not an affiliate of theirs and I have no financial interest in making the recommendation. I'm not particularly interested in webhosting as a product to promote so I haven't bothered (yet) to sign up for my webhost's affiliate program. It's just an honest recommendation, just as Cookie Cutter/Cash Cow is an honest recommendation. The only difference is, I make money on the latter and why not? The point is, so long as you're making an honest recommendation, there's no reason why you can't make a profit at the same time. It's a win-win situation. So stop being afraid to sell. It's the reason your business exists and it won't if you don't.

Written by Elena Fawkner, editor of the award-winning A Home-Based Business Online ... practical home business ideas, resources and strategies for the work-from-home entrepreneur:

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