Author Archives: Javed Arif Khan

About Javed Arif Khan

Hi my name is Javed Khan, I'm currently studying for my Doctorate in Authoring in Adaptive Systems at the University of Warwick.

Tips on Creating a Better Online Shopping Experience

There are smart marketing methods out there like real-time web personalization that will help create a better online experience for your customers through this joyful yet stressful time of year.

Personalize the web experience for a first time visitor:
It may seem difficult to know what a first time visitor is interested as there isn’t any clickstream behavior to track yet, but there are some things you can do here. In real-time, you can identify what site they came from (referring site), what their search terms were, you can start to understand their likely interests.

Tip 1: You can simply serve new visitors a Welcome Message on your website – and this message can be used as an email acquisition tool.

Gardener’s Supply Company saw a 3x increase in revenue and a 6x boost in leads after launching a welcome message on their website, targeted at visitors who came from Pinterest. The message included a discount and email address capture to help increase engagement and drive conversions.

Personalize the web experience for a returning visitor:
This one is easier. Anonymous visitors can be identified as a return visitor. The instant they visit your site, in real time, you can recognize this “Anonymous visitor ABC”.  Last time they were here they clicked on “XYZ”, so let’s present them personalized language, content, and offers focused on “XYZ” right away. You are now dramatically improving your chances of having this visitor make it past the 20-second danger zone, because right off the bat you are showing them what they want.

Tip 2: Serve them a Welcome Back message – this can include a variety of messages based of their past behavior: You left items in your cart, you looked at these specific items, you never left your email address for offers and promotions etc.

Tip 3: You notice that an anonymous visitor is returning to view a specific item. They have never added it the shopping cart, but it is obvious there is high interest. Upon their return visit, you can swap out the content and language to be focused on that specific item, as well as similar and complementary items to assist in increasing the purchase order. You can even offer them a personalized coupon for this specific item, as well as discounts on related items.

Help guide your visitors:
With lengthy shopping lists, last-minute shopping runs, and returns & exchanges – you can help create a better customer experience by making your site a customer service representative. There several ways to do this and it will be impactful if it’s done right.

Tip 4: Target your visitors based off of geolocation. Help guide them with a banner or popover with the nearest store location. You can also promote new store openings, sales and store events.

Tip 5: Tailor messages to visitors based off of the time spent on your website. If they are on your site with no action, you can ask them is they need assistance, ask them for their email, live chat, or offer them an incentive to purchase.

Create Urgency!
Creating a sense of urgency with discounts or free shipping messages can drive sales with already engaged visitors.

Tip 6: Whether a visitor has returned to your website several times to view a product or if they have items in their shopping cart, you can help move them through the sales process quickly by offering a deep discount or free shipping message while they are engaged on your website. This tactic will increase shopping cart conversions and decrease abandonment.

Decrease your bounce rate:
Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to your site that visit one page on your website and then leave. According to Google, the average for most sites is between 40% and 60%. The lower your bounce rate is, the longer your potential customer will be on your site making the decision to buy.

Tip 7: Are they bouncing without a purchase? Offer them a coupon or discount right away – an incentive for them to stick around.

Tip 8: Do they have items in their shopping cart? Show them those items within a message to remind them of these items! These two tips can be used together as a double whammy to get them to convert.

MIT Technology Review reduced their bounce rate by 10x on their website when they added real-time dynamic, personalized content to their site to help engage visitors, keep them on their website, and prevent bounces.

Don’t let your customers have a mediocre shopping experience this holiday season. Help them find what they are looking for, when they are looking for it, and guide them through the buying process. While you have been planning your Q4 since this summer, it’s not too late to add real-time behavior-based web personalization into your holiday marketing mix

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Posted by on December 15, 2014 in Ecommerce


FREE open source DotNetNuke modules

Following is a list of free open source DotNetNuke modules available at CodePlex.

NB_Store – Free DotNetNuke Ecommerce Catalog Module –
NB_Store is a Free DotNetNuke E-Commerce / Catalog Module that supports multiple languages, customization through html templates, Export/Import, Order Admin, client Admin, Stock Control and Products support multiple models and options. It’s developed in VB.Net.

IWeb – DotNetNuke WebServices Module –
IWEB allows you to create Web Services for your DotNetNuke Portal. You simply upload the module and start adding your own methods.
Intergrates with DNN authentication and API.
IWeb is an extensible framework for DotNetNuke allowing developers to use web methods that are integrated with the DotNetNuke security context.

IWebCF – DotNetNuke WCF Services Module –
IWebCF provides a platform for developers to extend DotNetNuke using WCF services. IWebCF brings the power of SOA to DotNetNuke, allowing DNN to be more easily inter grated with enterprise applications and services.

IWebCF is the next generation of the original IWeb module for DotNetNuke. IWeb originally was developed using the classic ASMX web services and allowed extension methods to be added very easily. File management extension methods were added to the module and a file manager client was also included. IWebCF picks up at this point and migrates the underlying technology to WCF and away from ASMX web services.
MSBuild DotNetNuke Tasks –
The MSBuild DotNetNuke Tasks Project is an open source project for MSBuild tasks for automatically updating the DotNetNuke Manifest file (.dnn) based on the actual state of the module. This will help in removing repetitive and easy to forgot tasks when creating DNN manifest files
Whenever you release a new version of a DotNetNuke module you have to carefully review the DotNetNuke manifest file ( .dnn) to reflect the current status of the module.
jQuery UI DotNetNuke integration –
The goal of jQUI-DNN is to provide an easily deployable solution for developers wanting to use jQuery UI in a DotNetNuke context. The core and themes are provided as separate modules for easy deployment in a DotNetNuke host. It is developed in C#.
User Directory Module for DotNetNuke –
With the Effority.Net User Directory Module for DotNetNuke you can search easily for your DotNetNuke users and display information like names, telephone numbers or all other profile data.

So you can easily provide a member directory, dealer directory or phonebook.
DotNetNuke Linq to Sql Model Adapter –
A DataContext adapter allowing DotNetNuke modules using Linq to Sql to automatically apply an end user’s database owner and object qualifier at runtime.
Organization chart with gallery
is a DotNetNuke module, in french: “trombinoscope”. It is used to show the organisation chart with photos and hierarchy. It is alors possible to perform a search to find people in the company.
Workflow HTML / Versioning HTML Module for DotNetNuke –
Based on the “Text/HTML Core Module” the Text/HTML Workflow Module offers simple versioning and approval abilities for your Text/HTML Module content.
Key features:

  • Versioning Text/HTML content
  • Roles: Viewer (Reader), Editor, Approval
  • Workflow Control Center: Manage Texts Versions
  • Viewer always gets the latest approved version of the content
  • Notifies Workflow Member if new content is available
  • Each submitted Text is stored as separated version

DotNetNuke Developers Help File –
MSDN Style help based upon inline code comments in de DotNetNuke Source Modules.

The help files are generated using SandCastle and the SandCastle Help File Builder using the unmodified sources from DotNetNuke, which can be downloaded from
Silverlight Media for DotNetNuke –
SilverlightMedia is a module for DotNetNuke®. Its a container for showing Silverlight applications in a DotNetNuke@ portal.
SilverlightDesktop for DotNetNuke –
DotNetNuke module version of SilverlightDesktop.
WillStrohl.Injection Module for DotNetNuke –
This is a content injection module, written by Will Strohl. Its purpose is to allow you to inject markup into the header or footer of the page. This version is compatible with DNN version 4.06.02 and up.

This module is meant to make it easy for DNN hosts and admins to add HTML markup into a DotNetNuke website, either in the header, or the footer of the page. This module can easily be used on a single page, or across an entire portal. Examples of how this might benefit you are:
jQuery script , Google Analytics script , Quantcast script, HTML comments / snippets, Inline JavaScript snippets, 3rd party widgets (non-DNN), Advertising snippets and whatever else you figure out to do…
DotNetNuke IdentitySwitcher –
The IdentitySwitcher is a simple, but very useful tool when it comes to DNN Module Development. Using this module you can easily switch between users, without knowing their passwords. Even switching to host users is supported (must be allowed by the host user).

Do not use this module in production environment.

SwfObject4DNN – Adobe Flash and Flex Module for DotNetNuke –
Gives you everything you need to use Adobe Flex or Adobe Flash files as modules in DotNetNuke. Along with IWebLite and Web Services, SwfObject4DNN helps you take advantage of user management in DotNetNuke from within your Flex or Flash application. The template is parameterized to make setting up and making changes easy.

Magic Content –
Magic Content
is a multi-lingual content publishing module that can be used as a replacement for the current Text/HTML module. It’s very easy to use and extends content publishing by many useful features.

Image Upload and Editor Control –
ASP.Net 2.0/MS AJAX 1.1 Image Editor custom server control provides client-side cropping, rotation/flip, brightness/contrast/saturation enhancement with dynamically generated image preview. Accompanying Image Editor Control is a full-featured image file selection and upload custom server control for DotNetNuke v 4.6.2 and above which handles all folder (including DNN secure and database folders) and file operations with respect for DNN permissions. A DNN module is also provided to demonstrate the control’s capabilities and properties. It may also be used as a stand-alone image upload and editing module.

WillStrohl.FeedHandler Module for DotNetNuke –
This module is meant to help DNN site admins deal with the core RSS feed issues that modules output. For example, the Announcements module has the module name at the beginning of each <item> element value. The FeedHandler module allows you to perform a little Regular Expression magic to clean up and change your RSS feeds. However, you will need to supply a different feed URL to those who consume your RSS feed.

DNN Content Builder WCMS –
Content management is about to transform raw content into assets, managing every aspect of its life cycle. We are talking about workflow, scheduling, versioning, staging, personalization and much more than simply create HTML or inserting images into a page.

DNN Live Messenger –
DNN Live Messenger makes it easy for users to integrate Windows Live UI Controls into their DotNetNuke Website. Instantly add the Windows Live Messenger webbar and enable users to use Windows Live Messenger from your Website. This module uses Delegated Authentication and requires you to register your site with Windows Live Services to recieve and AppID and to register a shared secret.

DNNFlashImageRotator –
DotNetNuke Flash Image Rotator is based on JW Image Rortator, an open source flash project enables you to show a couple of photos in sequence, with fluid transitions between them. It supports rotation of an RSS, XSPF or ASX playlists with JPG, GIF and PNG images, a wide range of flashvars (variables) for tweaking both behavior and appearance and an extensive javascript API.

SharePointNuke –
Open source module that connects to a SharePoint server and displays the content of a specified list into DotNetNuke.

DnnScanFree –
A DotNetNuke module and associated windows forms client that facilitates the scanning and processing of documents using box codes. Additional information on this project can be found here:

DnnBlogML –
DnnBlogML allows import/export between the core DotNetNuke Blog module and the BlogML format. It’s developed in Visual Basic, targeting .NET 3.5 SP1 framework, DotNetNuke 05.00.01, Blog 03.05.01.

DotNetNuke Event Publisher –
A DotNetNuke module that allows you to sync events based on data retrieved from SQL queries or existing UserDefinedTable modules to your Google Calendars.

DotNetNuke News Module –
This is a DotNetNuke 5.5+ module for news. It allows users to create, manage and preview news on DotNetNuke portals. Module is template based and can work on multilanguage portals. It is free of charge and constantly improving.

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Posted by on December 9, 2014 in .NET Programming, DotNetNuke


Places To Educate Yourself Online For Free

Those people who take the time and initiative to pursue knowledge on their own are the only ones who earn a real education in this world.  Take a look at any widely acclaimed scholar, entrepreneur or historical figure you can think of.  Formal education or not, you’ll find that he or she is a product of continuous self-education.

If you’re interested in learning something new, this article is for you.  Broken down by subject and/or category, here are several top-notch self-education resources I have bookmarked online over the past few years.

Note that some of the sources overlap between various subjects of education.  Therefore, each has been placed under a specific subject based on the majority focus of the source’s content.

Science and Health

  • MIT OpenCourseWare – MIT OpenCourseWare is a free web-based publication of MIT course materials that reflects almost all the undergraduate and graduate subjects taught at MIT.
  • Tufts OpenCourseWare – Tufts OpenCourseWare is part of a new educational movement initiated by MIT that provides free access to course content for everyone online.  Tufts’ course offerings demonstrate the University’s strength in the life sciences in addition to its multidisciplinary approach, international perspective and underlying ethic of service to its local, national and international communities.
  • HowStuffWorks Science – More scientific lessons and explanations than you could sort through in an entire year.
  • Harvard Medical School Open Courseware – The mission of the Harvard Medical School Open Courseware Initiative is to exchange knowledge from the Harvard community of scholars to other academic institutions, prospective students, and the general public.
  • Khan Academy – Over 1200 videos lessons covering everything from basic arithmetic and algebra to differential equations, physics, chemistry, and biology.
  • Open Yale Courses – Open Yale Courses provides lectures and other materials from selected Yale College courses to the public free of charge via the internet.  The courses span the full range of liberal arts disciplines, including humanities, social sciences, and physical and biological sciences.
  • webcast.berkeley – Every semester, UC Berkeley webcasts select courses and events for on-demand viewing via the Internet.  webcast.berkeley course lectures are provided as a study resource for both students and the public.
  • UC San Diego Podcast Lectures – UCSD’s podcasting service was established for instructional use to benefit our students.  Podcasts are taken down at the end of every quarter (10 weeks Fall-Spring and 5 weeks in the summer).  If you’re enjoying a podcast, be sure to subscribe and download the lectures.  Once the podcast has been taken offline, faculty rarely approve their reposting.
  • Johns Hopkins OpenCourseWare – The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s OpenCourseWare project provides access to content of the School’s most popular courses. As challenges to the world’s health escalate daily, the School feels a moral imperative to provide equal and open access to information and knowledge about the obstacles to the public’s health and their potential solutions.
  • Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative – No instructors, no credits, no charge.  Use these self-guiding Carnegie Mellon materials and activities to learn at your own pace.
  • Utah State OpenCourseWare – Utah State OpenCourseWare is a collection of educational material used in our formal campus courses, and seeks to provide people around the world with an opportunity to access high quality learning opportunities.
  • AMSER – AMSER (the Applied Math and Science Education Repository) is a portal of educational resources and services built specifically for use by those in Community and Technical Colleges but free for anyone to use.
  • Wolfram Demonstrations Project – Wolfram brings computational exploration to the widest possible audience, open-code resource that uses dynamic computation to illuminate concepts.  Free player runs all demos and videos.
  • The Science Forum – A very active scientific discussion and debate forum.
  • Free Science and Video Lectures Online! – A nice collection of video lectures and lessons on science and philosophy.
  • – searches over 42 databases and over 2000 selected websites from 14 federal agencies, offering 200 million pages of authoritative U.S. government science information including research and development results.
  • The National Science Digital Library – NSDL is the Nation’s online library for education and research in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics.
  • EnviroLink Network–  A  non-profit organization, grassroots online community uniting organizations and volunteers around the world.  Up-to-date environmental information and news.
  • – Information about geology and earth science to visitors without charge: Articles, News, Maps, Satellite Images, Dictionary, etc.
  • Scitable – A free science library and personal learning tool that currently concentrates on genetics, the study of evolution, variation, and the rich complexity of living organisms.  The site also expects to expand into other topics of learning and education.
  • – A free open learning community for sharing newer and emerging tools to teach science.

Business and Money

  • MIT Sloan School of Management – MIT Sloan is a world-class business school long renowned for thought leadership and the ability to successfully partner theory and practice.  This is a subsection of the larger MIT OpenCourseWare site.
  • Investopedia Financial Investing Tutorials – A plethora of detailed lessons on money management and investing.
  • U.S. Small Business Administration Training Network – The Small Business Administration has one of the best selections of business courses on the web. Topics include everything from starting a business and business management to government contracting and international trade. Most courses take only 30 minutes to complete.
  • VideoLectures.NET (Business) – A free and open access educational video lectures repository. The lectures are given by distinguished scholars and scientists at the most important and prominent events like conferences, summer schools, workshops and science promotional events from many fields of Science.
  • My Own Business, Inc. – Offers a free online business administration course that would be beneficial to new managers and to anyone who is interested in starting a business. This comprehensive course is split up into 16 sessions covering topics like business plans, accounting, marketing, insurance, e-commerce and international trade.
  • UC Irvine OpenCourseWare (Business) – Rapidly with the addition of nearly 10 new courses every month. Many of our OCW offerings are directed at working adults seeking continuing education, with the option to enroll in instructor-led, for-credit courses, related to the OCW content. 
  • Kutztown University of Pennsylvania – The Kutztown University of Pennsylvania’s Small Business Development Center offers more than 80 free business courses online. Kutztown’s courses are individualized and self-paced. Many of the courses feature high-end graphics, interactive case studies and audio streams.
  • Boston College Front Row (Business) – Boston College Front Row is a Web site that offers free access through streaming media to tapes of cultural and scholarly events at Boston College.
  • Financial Management Training Center – The Financial Management Training Center provides several free downloadable business courses for people who need to learn the finer points of financial management. All courses offered can be taken online; courses include full exams as well as evaluation forms for people seeking Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits.
  • The Free Nonprofit Micro-eMBA – Free Management Library’s Free Nonprofit Micro-eMBA Program is an especially great resource for students wishing to learn more about nonprofit management, but most of the lessons also apply to general business management. Completion of this program will not result in an MBA degree, but enrollment is free and the material is well structured.
  • Bookboon Free Business e-books – Hundreds of free business books online in PDF format.
  • TheStreet University – If you’re just starting out as a stock and bond investor or need a refresher’s course, this is the place to learn what you need to know.

History and World Culture

  • University of Washington’s OpenUW – Explore a variety of learning in several free history-centric online courses from the University of Washington.
  • Notre Dame OpenCourseWare – Notre Dame OCW is a free and open educational resource for faculty, students, and self-learners throughout the world.
  • Bio’s Best –’s most popular biographies on notable historical figures.
  • UC Irvine OpenCourseWare (Social Science) – Rapidly with the addition of nearly 10 new courses every month. Many of our OCW offerings are directed at working adults seeking continuing education, with the option to enroll in instructor-led, for-credit courses, related to the OCW content.
  • Boston College Front Row (History) – Boston College Front Row is a Web site that offers free access through streaming media to tapes of cultural and scholarly events at Boston College.
  • MIT OpenCourseWare (History) – The MIT History Faculty offers about 70 subjects in the areas of Ancient, North American, European, East Asian, and Middle Eastern history.
  • Wikiversity School of Social Sciences – Wikiversity is a Wikimedia Foundation project devoted to learning resources, learning projects, and research for use in all levels, types, and styles of education from pre-school to university, including professional training and informal learning.
  • OpenLearn (Arts and Humanities) – The OpenLearn website gives free access to Open University course materials.
  • A Biography of America – A Biography of America presents history not simply as a series of irrefutable facts to be memorized, but as a living narrative of America’s story.
  • Have Fun with History – A resource for students, educators and all lovers of American History.
  • The USGenWeb Project – Free genealogy and family history resources online.
  • MacroHistory and World Report – Tell without illusions or ideological restraints the story of our ancestors, our parents and us.
  • World History HyperHistory – Navigates through 3000 years of World History with links to important persons and events of world historical importance.
  • American Digital History – Online American history textbook. An interactive, multimedia history of the United States from the Revolution to the present.


  •  Duke Law Center for the Public Domain – Duke University is counted amongst the best schools in the South. If you’re interested in law, Duke’s open courseware in that subject area can go a long way towards helping you learn more about the justice system.
  • Intute Law – Provides free access to high quality resources on the Internet. Each resource has been evaluated and categorised by subject specialists based at UK universities.
  • Boston College Front Row (Law) – Boston College Front Row is a Web site that offers free access through streaming media to tapes of cultural and scholarly events at Boston College.
  • American University – Offers a selection of podcasts on a number of different law-related subjects. There is even a very interesting podcast on debt relief and the law.
  • Lewis & Clark Law School – Provides a number of podcast from the law school. Subjects include tax law, business law, environmental law and other areas of law. Interesting and insightful lectures on the law.
  • Case Western Reserve University School of Law – Offers a number of interesting lectures on different law subjects. These lectures are both podcasts and Web casts. You can look ahead to the coming school year, which already has a number of interesting subjects lined up.
  • Harvard Law School – Provides a number of Web casts of law lectures, symposia, panels and conferences. A great collection of relevant information and insights on how the law interacts with current events.
  • Stanford Law – Provides open courseware via iTunes on a variety of law subjects, including the theory of justice, mobile content distribution, gay marriage, judicial review and privacy protection. The tracks are available for free, but you’ll need iTunes. Put the lectures on your iPod or iPhone and listen them anywhere.
  • MoneyInstructor Business Law – From provides a look at a number of basics in business law. Learn how to define crimes under business law. Worksheets and curriculums are available for teachers. Ordinary folks will find them useful as well.
  • Wesleyan College Constitutional Law – From North Carolina Wesleyan College offers an overview of the U.S. Constitution and the laws springing from it. Online lectures and class notes are included, which can help you develop a strong understanding of the Constitution and how it forms the basis of our laws.

Computer Science and Engineering

  • VideoLectures.NET (Computer Science) – A free and open access educational video lectures repository. The lectures are given by distinguished scholars and scientists at the most important and prominent events like conferences, summer schools, workshops and science promotional events from many fields of Science.
  • Wikiversity School of Computer Science and Technology – Wikiversity is a Wikimedia Foundation project devoted to learning resources, learning projects, and research for use in all levels, types, and styles of education from pre-school to university, including professional training and informal learning.
  • New York State University (US), Computer Science – Hundreds of lectures, tutorials and links to educational material.
  • Dream.In.Code Tutorials – Lots of computer programming tutorials.
  • MIT OpenCourseWare (Engineering and Computer Science) – MIT OpenCourseWare is a free web-based publication of MIT course materials that reflects almost all the undergraduate and graduate subjects taught at MIT.
  • Maine University (US), Fogler Guide to Computer Science – An insanely detailed list of computer science resources.
  •  – Free computer, mathematics, technical books and lecture notes.
  • Collection of Computer Science Bibliographies – A massive collection of bibliographies of scientific literature in computer science, updated weekly from original locations, more than 3 millions of references (mostly to journal articles, conference papers and technical reports), clustered in about 2000 bibliographies.
  • W3Schools – Web-building tutorials, from basic HTML and XHTML to advanced XML, SQL, Database, Multimedia and WAP.
  • – This site lists free online computer science, engineering and programming books, textbooks and lecture notes, all of which are legally and freely available over the Internet.
  • Free computer Tutorials – Free computer courses and tutorials site. All the courses are aimed at complete beginners, so you don’t need experience to get started.
  • Programmer 101: Teach Yourself How to Code – Several helpful resources for computer programming beginners.
  • Google Code University – Provides sample course content and tutorials for Computer Science (CS) students and educators on current computing technologies and paradigms.


  • Oxford University Mathematics OpenCourseWare – Various online mathematics classes provided free by Oxford University.
  • UMass Boston Mathematics – Various online mathematics classes provided free by UMass Boston.
  • Whatcom Online Math Center – Various math lessons provided free by Whatcom Community College.
  • VideoLectures.NET (Mathematics) – A free and open access educational video lectures repository. The lectures are given by distinguished scholars and scientists at the most important and prominent events like conferences, summer schools, workshops and science promotional events from many fields of Science.
  • Wikiversity School of Mathematics – Wikiversity is a Wikimedia Foundation project devoted to learning resources, learning projects, and research for use in all levels, types, and styles of education from pre-school to university, including professional training and informal learning.
  • AMSER Mathematics – AMSER (the Applied Math and Science Education Repository) is a portal of educational resources and services built specifically for use by those in Community and Technical Colleges but free for anyone to use.
  • – is dedicated to providing revolutionary ways for students, parents, teachers, and everyone to learn math.
  • Intute Mathematics – Provides free access to high quality resources on the Internet. Each resource has been evaluated and categorized by subject specialists based at UK universities.
  • Free-Ed College Mathematics – Offers a wide range of free online math courses and study programs.

English and Communications

  • Open Yale Courses (English) – Open Yale Courses provides lectures and other materials from selected Yale College courses to the public free of charge via the internet.
  • Writing Guidelines for Engineering and Science Students – These guidelines for engineering writing and scientific writing are designed to help students communicate their technical work.
  • MIT Writing and Humanistic Studies – The MIT Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies gives students the opportunity to learn the techniques, forms, and traditions of several kinds of writing, from basic expository prose to more advanced forms of non-fictional prose, fiction and poetry, science writing, scientific and technical communication and digital media.
  • Merriam-Webster Online – In this digital age, your ability to communicate with written English is paramount skill.  And is the perfect resource to improve your English now.
  • National Novel Writing Month – Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.
  • Lifewriting – A complete text of the 9-week writing class a professor taught for years at UCLA.
  • Guide to Grammar and Writing – Grammar and writing techniques, lessons and quizzes.
  • Purdue Online Writing Lab – Over 200 free resources including lessons on: writing, research, grammar, and style guides.

Foreign and Sign Languages

  • BBC Languages – Teach yourself a new spoken language online.
  • American Sign Language Browser – Teach yourself sign language online.
  • Livemocha – Start learning a new language online for free.
  • Learn10 – Gives you a language learning habit that’s hard to kick. 10 new words; everywhere, every day.
  • One Minute Languages – Learn a new language via podcasts that are updated regularly.
  • Mango Languages – Over 100 lessons, shown to you in PowerPoint style with interstitial quizzes, to move you through any language without cracking a book.

Multiple Subjects and Miscellaneous

  • OpenLearn – The OpenLearn website gives free access to Open University course materials.  Multiple subjects are covered.
  • Capilano University OpenCourseWare – The Capilano University OpenCourseWare site is a free and open educational resource for faculty, students, and self-learners throughout the world.
  • University of Southern Queensland’s OpenCourseWare – Provides access to free and open educational resources for faculty members, students, and self-learners throughout the world.
  • YouTube EDU – Educational videos on YouTube organized by subject matter.
  • LearnHub Test Prep – Raise your test scores with free practice tests & counseling on various subjects.
  • iTunes U – Hundreds of universities — including Stanford, Yale and MIT — distribute lectures, slide shows, PDFs, films, exhibit tours and audio books through iTunes U.  The Science section alone contains content on topics including agriculture, astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics, ecology and geography.
  • United Nations University OpenCourseWare – Showcases the training and educational programs implemented by the University in a wide range of areas relevant to the work of the United Nations.
  • Brigham Young Independent Study – BYU Independent Study now offers free courses in different areas of study.  These areas include Family History, Family Life, and Religious Scripture Study, Personal Dev elopement, etc.  Use these courses as a starting point for your personal studies or just to add insight to an area of interest.
  • University of Utah OpenCourseWare – Provides access to free and open educational resources for faculty members, students, and self-learners throughout the world.
  • United States Nation Archives – The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the nation’s record keeper.  Valuable records are preserved and are available to you, whether you want to see if they contain clues about your family’s history, need to prove a veteran’s military service, or are researching an historical topic that interests you.
  • Wikiversity – Wikiversity is a Wikimedia Foundation project devoted to learning resources, learning projects, and research for use in all levels, types, and styles of education from pre-school to university, including professional training and informal learning.
  • UMass Boston OpenCourseWare – Various online classes provided free by UMass Boston.
  • About U – A collection of free online educational courses from
  • Academic Earth – Online degrees and video courses from leading universities.
  • Free-Ed – Clusters of courses that support your preparation for today’s fastest-growing careers and critical academic disciplines.
  • Connexions – A place to view and share educational material made of small knowledge chunks called modules that can be organized as courses, books, reports, etc. Anyone may view or contribute.
  • TED – Motivational and educational lectures from noteworthy professionals around the world.
  • Intute – Provides free access to high quality resources on the Internet. Each resource has been evaluated and categorised by subject specialists based at UK universities.
  • Boston College Front Row – Boston College Front Row is a Web site that offers free access through streaming media to tapes of cultural and scholarly events at Boston College.

Free Books and Reading Recommendations

  • LibraryThing – LibraryThing connects you to other people who are reading what you’re reading and allows you to see which books are popular in various categories of reading.
  • Textbook Revolution – Links to free online textbooks and other educational materials.
  • Book TV – This is the companion site to Book TV on C-Span2. The site holds some current interviews with authors, many past interviews, opinions, reviews, and featured programs through online video.
  • Bookboon – Bookboon provides online textbooks for students in PDF format. The free ebooks can be downloaded without registration. Our books are legal and written exclusively for Bookboon. They are financed by a few in-book ads.
  • Scribd – Scribd, the online document sharing site which supports Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF and other popular formats. You can download a document or embed it in your blog or web page.
  • BookYards – BookYards is a web portal in which books, education materials, information, and content will be freely to anyone who has an internet connection.
  • Planet eBook – Free classic literature to download and share.
  • E-Books Directory – Thousands of ebooks on various subjects to download and share.
  • Read Print Library – Free online books library for students, teachers, and the classic enthusiast.GoodReads – Get great book recommendations and keep track of what you want to read.
  • The Online Books Page – University of Pennsylvania database with over 30,000 books.
  • Public Literature – Thousands of familiar classics, children’s books, plays and poems, as well as books by new authors.
  • Full Books – Thousands of full-text nonfiction and fiction books.
  • Many Books – Free fiction and nonfiction ebooks for your PDA, iPod or ebook reader.
  • Get Free Books – Thousands of free ebooks to download.
  • Project Gutenberg – More than 20,000 free books from the first producer of free e-books.
  • Bibliomania – Thousands of classic books, poems, short stories and plays.
  • Classic Reader – Large collection of free classic books, plays, and short stories from more than 300 authors.
  • Bartleby Fiction – Classic anthologies and volumes.
  • The Personal MBA Recommended Reading List – MBA programs don’t have a monopoly on advanced business knowledge: you can teach yourself everything you need to know to succeed in life and at work.  The Personal MBA features the very best business books available, based on thousands of hours of research.
  • Books Should Be Free – Free audio books from the public domain.

Educational Mainstream Broadcast Media

  • BBC Learning – Online learning, support, and advice. This site offers internal and offsite links to a vast amount of materials.
  • Biography – The site holds videos to past interviews and biographies on people in topics that range from Black history to women’s history.
  • Book TV – This is the companion site to Book TV on C-Span2. The site holds some current interviews with authors, many past interviews, opinions, reviews, and featured programs through online video.
  • CBC Archives — Relive Canadian history through thousands of available radio and television clips.
  • Discovery — This channel is home to several different networks that focus on the military, animals, travel, etc. The Discovery site offers a “Video of the Day” from its home page, a separate online video section, and a Discover Education center where teachers can accumulate materials for K-12 teaching. It’s impossible to list all their offerings here, so go discover!
  • History Channel – Visit the Video Gallery for a selection on historical topics. Like the Discovery Channel, this network provides many opportunities for you to gain access to information and reference materials.
  • NOVA — Watch current science shows or browse by category. PBS sponsors this channel.
  • Research Channel — Speakers, researchers and professors present revolutionary thoughts and discoveries. Use their Webstreams and an extensive video-on-demand library for research.
  • Weather Channel – You can learn about weather all over the world, but the Weather Channel also offers dynamic content based upon seasons and special conditions and a special multimedia and education section.

Online Archives

  • American Memory – The Library of Congress provides extensive multimedia offerings on various topics through their American Memory Collection, including their outstanding Built in America project that showcases historical buildings through photographs.
  • Fathom – This archive, provided by Columbia University, offers access to the complete range of free content developed for Fathom by its member institutions. The archives include online learning resources including lectures, articles, interviews, exhibits and seminars.
  • Internet Archive Open Educational Resources – A digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form.
  • National Archives – Provides primary source materials from NARA along with lesson plans for teaching with those sources.
  • National Climatic Data Center – The NCDC, a division of NOAA, maintains climatic archives, including lists of storms in given counties, and records about global extremes, etc.
  • The Rosetta Project – A global collaboration of language specialists and native speakers building a publicly accessible online archive of all documented human languages.
  • September 11 Digital Archive – This site uses electronic media to collect, preserve, and present the history of the 9/11 attacks.
  • U.S. Census Bureau – If you think the Census Bureau is all about numbers, you might be surprised to learn about their archived photographs, daily radio features, and more available through their Newsroom.

Directories of Open Education

  • Google Scholar – Provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites.
  • OpenCourseWare Consortium – This site provides a portal to search through hundreds of free courses or to add new courses you know about to the database.
  • iBerry – Check out this site for a huge directory of open courseware organized by school and subject matter that can point you in the right direction for any type of learning.
  • Self Made Scholar Directory – Free online directory of web-based classes and courses.
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Posted by on September 22, 2014 in Important links, Self-Learning


How safe is your wearable tech

Each day, millions of people worldwide are actively recording every aspect of their lives, thoughts, experiences, and achievements in an activity known as self-tracking (aka quantified self or life logging). People who engage in self-tracking do so for various reasons. Given the amount of personal data being generated, transmitted, and stored at various locations, privacy and security are important considerations for users of these devices and applications. Symantec has found security risks in a large number of self-tracking devices and applications. One of the most significant findings was that all of the wearable activity-tracking devices examined, including those from leading brands, are vulnerable to location tracking.

Researchers built a number of scanning devices using Raspberry Pi minicomputers and, by taking them out to athletic events and busy public spaces, found that tracking of individuals was possible.

Symantec also found vulnerabilities in how personal data is stored and managed, such as passwords being transmitted in clear text and poor session management.

Read more:



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Posted by on August 29, 2014 in Privacy


Mobile Phone Emulator



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Posted by on August 26, 2014 in App Design



10 ways to improve your brand image

Before we start it’s very important that you realize one thing: You have to be brutally honest with yourself. Or rather, with your brand.

You will probably read through these 10 points and think: “Yes, I’m actually doing all those things so I should be fine.” In fact, most of our new clients that we speak to think the same. Until we ask them to apply their reasoning honestly and all of a sudden the cracks start to appear.

In order to get the most of these tips we always suggest that you look at your brand or business from an outside perspective. Pretend you are a potential customer and you’re looking for a particular product or service that your company happens to offer. The big question is: Compared to your competitors, would you buy from you or from them?

We’d also suggest that you take on a professional agency to help you with your brand image. You’ll have to spend the money but if the design agency or brand consultancy you choose is only half decent at what they do you’ll have spent your money very wisely. Also keep in mind that if it’s done properly you’ll only have to spend your money once and should be set up for a long time and it will make future rebrands a lot easier and cost-effective.


1. First impressions are paramount

An age-old statement, we know, but it’s so true. Without trying to bore you, scientific evidence can even back this statement up. For example, in a particular experiment people were shown a number of websites for just a split second and based on what they saw in that very limited amount of time were asked to note down which sites they would like to explore further. The number of ‘good looking’ sites that came out on top was overwhelming. Next they were given the opportunity to spend a whole 10 minutes looking at each website again and were asked to make a choice as to which company they would most likely end up working with. Interestingly, most of them went with their initial split second choice, even when the information, services or products being offered were not as good as the other ‘less-good-looking’ websites. This is called the Halo effect. Simply speaking, human nature dictates that people don’t like being wrong and will often substantiate their first decision or impression by focusing on the positives and even overriding or blocking out any negative points Now, this is all a bit technical so the way we tend to explain this point to our clients is that you wouldn’t wear a pair of flowery shorts to an important business meeting would you? So why would you allow your brand to do that? Just because you or your company are extremely good (or even the best) at what you do doesn’t necessarily mean that potential customers can see that by looking at you.


2. What emotions are you selling?

It is however very important to differentiate between a brand that just looks very good or striking and a brand that looks like it can deliver what it promises. And it’s the latter that you should really focus on. In short, your brand image should be based on what your customer expects or wants to see and not necessarily what you would like to see. Just because you personally really like the colour green doesn’t mean it works for your type of business. Your brand should not convey your own personal feelings or likes but should speak to your market in a way that they like to be spoken to. It’s also very important that you think beyond the actual services / products you’re offering and think about the emotion your clients are buying in to. For example, if you’re in the construction business your customers aren’t just buying a building from you, they’re buying reliability, solidity and strength. Similarly, if you’re running a medical centre your clients aren’t just looking for a medical professional but are looking for ease of mind, care, trust and cleanliness. This may sound pretty obvious but we come across a surprisingly large number of clients who have not applied this kind of thinking to their company’s image. Once you have defined your brand’s ‘emotions’ you can look at ways to portray these. Think about fonts (which ones look clean, strong or professional). Or which colours would best correspond with a certain feeling? What kind of logo shape appears to make you feel a certain way? All these little things together will create a highly successful brand image for you.


3. Big yourself up

Always aim to make your company appear bigger than you really are. Customers are generally attracted to companies that look like they’ve been in business for years, have gained extensive knowledge in their particular field and look like they have a solid workforce or infrastructure in place. You may own a company which only employs 5 people. And these 5 people may be the absolute best at what they do and may even provide a much better service than your competitor who employs 25 staff. But when a customer has to make a choice between your 5-man company or your 25 strong competitor, chances are they won’t come knocking on your door. Why? Because compared to them you don’t look big enough to handle a job. The idea here is that you don’t actually have to lie but simply create a smoke and mirrors effect in order to make the customer feel that they’re dealing with a larger company and make them trust you before they’ve even spoken to you. Think about using certain types on your website and brochures or add strategic partners to your website.


4. Brand values

Creating a predefined set of values is extremely important in getting your brand to work across the entire business spectrum. It informs both your clients as well as your staff of the way things are done in the business and creates a uniform platform from which everyone in the business can do their job. Decide which values apply first and foremost to your business. i.e. professionalism, integrity, easy going, friendly, high standards, pride, etc. and then work them into three or four separate sentences. These should instantly be able to convey to your clients how you operate and what they can expect from a working relationship.


5. A strapline

Encapsulating your entire business offering into a single, short line can be quite a difficult process and may take some time but once you’ve cracked it it’ll do absolute wonders for the brand. Cheesy as some of them may are, we could rattle off 10 different strap lines of big brands and guaranteed you’ll know who they are instantly. So not only is it one of the quickest ways to inform customers about what you do or what you stand for but more importantly it will make them remember the brand. When devising a strap line you’ll have to try and think creatively and again try to focus not on the actual service you’re offering but more on the result of this service as that’s what your customer is really buying off you. I.e. If you sell top of the range lawn-mowers, you actual sell beautifully cut lawns. If you’re an accountant you’re providing financial freedom. If you own a gym you’re offering physical wellbeing, if you sell stationery you sell ‘the little things that keep a business running’. Etc etc.


6. The message

What are you actually trying to say to potential customers? This is the first, but probably the most important, of many sales hurdles you have to overcome in order to get a client to buy into your business or services. If you don’t reel them in at this point you’re very unlikely to get any further so you must get this right. Keep your main sales messaging as short and concise as possible and try to avoid any technical terms or specific industry terminology that ordinary people won’t understand. Remember, once they’re interested they can always find out more about the intricate details of your service offering. Also think again about the emotions you’re selling (point 2) and your brand values and try to work these into your message.


7. Benefits

Always aim to highlight the benefits that your products/services can offer clients and put them on the forefront of any marketing materials. Ultimately this is what they’re most interested in. How will spending money with you benefit my business. THIS IS ALL THEY ARE INTERESTED IN. What do you do, who have you done it for before and what was the impact. If you do anything DO THIS. It is vital to attracting new business. If you get it right it will also dis-empower your competition, create the buying criteria and show potential clients why they should use YOU above all others. This will mean that getting involved in a cost war shouldn’t occur as you have set out why they should use you and therefore why they should pay your prices. This part of the process should take time and make you work hard but when you come out the other end you should have more reasons than ‘We are nice people’.


8. Continuity

It’s vital that customers have the same brand experience regardless of at what point they deal with your company, especially in a business to business environment. This ensures a consistent and reliable business experience meaning customers will always know what to expect from your business. You are creating an important trust between you and your clients and will ultimately make them feel comfortable enough to recommend you to other businesses without the potential fear of putting themselves in a bad light by referring them to an unreliable supplier. Lose this trust and you have a problem. Keep in mind though that brand continuity goes far beyond the look of your website or other sales materials. Think about the way your staff dress or answer the phone, the manner in which your business sends out or chases up on invoices, the place in which you receive clients or have your meetings or the way in which you keep your clients updated with new developments in your industry.


9. Grow with the business

The time will (hopefully) come where your business grows to a size where your brand image no longer accurately reflects how much your business has grown or expanded. At this point it’s worth looking at re-branding. Don’t misunderstand us, we don’t mean starting from scratch again (it’s taken you long enough to create a recognisable brand that people can trust) but look for example at updating your logo, website, stationery and sales materials to make them more contemporary and fit in line with your current developments. Sometimes this simply means changing the images on your website or updating your company fonts a touch. Or it could be that your company colours just need to be brightened up a bit.


10. Don’t stray!

One of the most frustrating and biggest problems we come across is when clients have spent a large amount of time, effort and money on branding or rebranding their business and five or six months down the line have started using different fonts here and there, putting their logo in a different place or have introduced new imagery or colours that do not remotely comply with their own brand guidelines. In effect, they’ve wasted a huge amount of effort and more importantly money on creating a specific brand image only to then change it when they see fit. This defeats the whole exercise. It may appear that setting up corporate/brand guidelines is a rigid structure but in all honesty it needs to be if you want to get the most out of it. Having worked in the advertising industry for a number of years we have worked to such specific guidelines for some of the bigger companies. We can’t name any of these companies as such information is kept confidential but one of the larger software companies have a 400 page document in place for this!




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Posted by on July 15, 2014 in Branding



7 Principles to Build a Powerful Brand

The word “brand” is derived from the Old Norse word, “brandr,” which means “to burn.” It refers to the practice of producers burning their mark (or brand) onto their products. When some people think about branding, they harken back to the old Wild West days when ranchers branded their cattle. This process still happens today, because it helps both the owner and the public identify whose cattle belongs to whom. Using a hot brand to sear the ranch’s logo onto the side of a cow leaves a lasting mark that everyone can see and remember. Fortunately, building a brand for your book, business, or non-profit isn’t as painful, but it creates the same helpful benefits. Since everyone has a finite brain, people can’t remember everything that they encounter. The average person’s brain is swirling with so much information that they can’t keep track of all the ideas, products, and services around them. So, a brand acts as your ally by creating a mental shortcut that makes you easier to remember. Use the following seven principles to help create a memorable brand that keeps you in the mind of your readers, customers, or donors:

1. You already have a brand whether you like it or not, and it’s usually negative unless you proactively control it. People are branding you everyday, because we all have finite brains and we need a quick way to recall everything around us. Thus, a brand taps into the mental function of remembering things. If you let other people brand you, the outcome will usually be negative, because people don’t fully know who you are. Therefore, you must actively manage your brand to create a perception among leaders of your uniqueness, value, and expertise. Don’t assume that people’s perception of you is positive. It may not be.

2. A great brand should make you stand-out from the myriad of other options. Otherwise, there’s no point in having a brand. This may sound obvious, but many people still overlook this fact. You need a brand that is catchy, memorable, and easy for people to say to someone else. I recommend that you keep your brand tagline to no more than six words. For instance, the brand tagline that I created for my consulting company, WildFire Marketing, is five words: “Spread Your Message Like Wildfire.”

3. A great brand generates a sense of appealing curiosity. Logic makes people think, but emotion makes them act. Your brand should generate a positive emotional connection. If you can’t make readers and leaders feel a magnetic attraction, then your brand is bland.

4. A great brand communicates the kind of results you produce for others. It’s not enough to simply have a clever catch-phrase or tagline. Your brand must express how you make other people’s lives better. In the corporate world, top brands achieve this goal. For example, Wal-Mart’s brand is “Save Money…Live Better.” This phrase tells me that my life will better, because I’ll be saving money. Home Depot says, “You can do it. We can help.” Do you see the implied result? Consider the value-laden expression in these brand taglines that I’ve created for some of my clients: “The Stress-Buster,” “Love Wise,” “Storm-Proof Your Life,” and “Strength for the Soul.” The taglines are memorable, and they reflect results.

5. A great brand establishes you as the best choice, such as the “Cadillac” or “Nordstroms” of the industry. Besides being unique, your brand should position you as the best option. When your brand becomes synonymous with quality, then you’ve got a powerful marketing force acting on your behalf.

6. A great brand must reflect your own passion. That’s because you will be solely responsible to get it in front of everyone. No one else can market your brand better than you. It’s like trying on a new dress or a suit. You buy the one that best fits you and makes you feel confident. When you create your brand, you must feel comfortable, positive, and excited to share it with the public.

7. Your brand must appeal primarily to people who have the decision-making power and money to work with you. If your brand appeals to leaders, then you’re on the right track. If not, then it will hinder the growth of your business. Remember that your brand does NOT have to please everyone, including your friends – because your friends don’t hire you for major projects, speaking engagements, or business deals. When you create a powerful brand, you position yourself as the go-to option for a specific need, genre, or interest. This recognition helps separate you from the pack, stay in people’s minds, and stand out in a crowded marketplace. Don’t be bland. Use these seven principles to build an unforgettable brand.


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Posted by on July 15, 2014 in Branding

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