Tag Archives: help

How to Write a How to Guide

If you’ve ever wanted to write your own how to guide, TokenUser shares these excellent tips with the community. If you have any tips or top five lists that you’d like to share (perhaps using these very helpful guidelines), please send them my way!

Before writing a guide on how to do something, there are a couple of questions that you need to ask yourself: do you know the subject well enough to explain it in simple terms, and can you write a concise set of instructions based on that explanation?

If you are good to go on these questions, the best how to guides follow an age-old and simple principle: KISS — Keep It Simple, Stupid, or (in this case) Keep It Stupidly Simple. This will enable someone to more easily follow your instructions. I’m hoping to help you write better how to guides with this guide of my own…

[$5+ patrons can read the rest of How to Write a How to Guide here. Not a patron? Consider the benefits here!]

How to Embed YouTube Video Without Related Videos

There are times when you don’t want related videos playing in a YouTube video embed. I know, because a few minutes ago I had that very need!

It’s actually quite simple to embed a YouTube video by way of their on-site forms these days – and they’re bound to change the options by the time I post this how to article. The good news is: if you’re having problems trying to get your YouTube video to embed without displaying any related links, please leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to respond with updated directions (and update this description, too).

Don’t worry – if you’ve already embedded the video, you can very easily turn off the related videos from showing up. This might be important if you only want a page’s visitor to see that single video. Take a look at the HTML code you copied from YouTube originally.

So, in essence, you’ll want the end of the video to look like this screen shot – giving the viewer no other option other than to replay without seeing related videos (from you or any other YouTube viewers):

You’ll see a couple of “youtube” URLs in there – the links which tell the web page which video needs to be played. To the end of these URLs, we need to add a simple parameter:

&rel=0

So, for example, if you see a URL like this:

http://www.youtube.com/v/X1Wn-iKadvE?version=3&hl=en_US

And turn it into this:

http://www.youtube.com/v/X1Wn-iKadvE?version=3&hl=en_US&rel=0

This way, when someone goes to view the video, no related videos will show up. You can see a living example of this code in action on our current business services site. You could also click on the YouTube links above to see the differences between viewing a video with or without the related video option.

Good luck with your embedding. If you have any questions about YouTube, don’t hesitate to ask!

How to Help Haiti Earthquake Victims

The screams in Haiti are being heard around the World. The 7.0 earthquake that rocked Port Au Prince on Tuesday brought the already impoverished city of more than two million people to its collective knees. Buildings lie in ruin. Bodies are piled in the streets. Hundreds of thousands of people are still missing in the wreckage, their fates unknown. There is no food, no water and no electricity. As emergency crews fight to get to the scene, people are digging through the rubble on their hands and knees, hoping to uncover survivors. What few houses remain are structurally unsafe. People who were lucky enough to escape with their lives are huddling together in open fields, too afraid to enter any buildings that may still be standing.

Earthquake in Haiti

The devastation is unthinkable and unimaginable. The sheer amount of destruction is seemingly insurmountable. One news blog that I read a little while ago ended with the sentiment that “Any thoughts of full recovery during this generation is unrealistic.”. The more news, videos and photos that reach us from Haiti, the more we begin to realize how true that small statement is. One way to keep up with the very latest news is to follow reporter Richard Morse. He is giving updates from Port Au Prince as often as he can.

Those of us who are not in Haiti are scrambling, trying to figure out what we can do to help. Not knowing what we can do often leads us to do nothing at all. In my opinion, this is not an option right now. The devastation caused by this earthquake is being compared to losing an entire war in just a few short moments.

There are many trustworthy organizations who are already on the scene, and many more that are gathering together resources to aid the victims of this awful tragedy. We have come up with a list of some of the ways that you can help. Please remember that every penny – literally – counts. If you are in a situation where you cannot send money or supplies, do not feel as though you are worthless. Your thoughts, prayers and support are needed by the people in Haiti, as much as the physical donations are.

  • American Red Cross – There are three ways you can contribute via the Red Cross: monetary donations, blood donations, and signing up as a volunteer.
  • Text to Donate – If you want to donate money but are a little short right now, the State Dept. has set up a way to donate via text message. Text “Haiti” to 90999 and a donation of ten dollars will be added to your next phone bill and forwarded to the Red Cross.
  • Doctors Without Borders – The Doctors Without Borders program has been stationed in Haiti for a long time already. Their facilities were destroyed by the earthquake, along with much of their supplies. They are rushing to attempt to care for the injured people who need them, but they need your help.
  • National Nurses United – The nation’s largest organization of registered nurses tonight activated its nationwide disaster relief program to recruit nurse volunteers to provide assistance to residents of earthquake devastated Haiti.
  • UNICEF – UNICEF is dedicated to helping children. Before Tuesday, there were already thousands of children who were orphans living below the poverty level. Today, there are many thousands more.
  • Operation USA – Operation USA has been rated as a four-star charity for the past six years. Every penny that goes in to the organization goes right back out to the places that need it.
  • Mercy Corps – Mercy Corps allows you to send a flat donation of your own, or can help you organize your own fundraising team. They also accept donations other than money, such as clothing and building materials.
  • World Food Bank – The WFP has already pledged more than two million dollars to help feed the people of Haiti. It is expected that the amount needed will far exceed this.
  • T-shirts – Emerald City Fashion Week is raising money to support the relief effort with a Fashion4Haiti T-shirts which are available for immediate purchase! Net proceeds will be donated to World Vision to help children and families affected by the 7.0 earthquake.

Our hearts go out to everyone in Haiti, as well as to the people around the World waiting for news of loved ones.

My eBooks

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You wanna learn? Cool. I wanna teach. Each one of my eBooks is available in PDF – no DRM!

By the way, I’m using these guys to host my eBooks shopping cart. I’ll be writing more in the near future, depending largely on demand – and given the amount of questions I get asked on a daily basis, I’d say the demand is pretty darn high. So, why would you wanna buy one of my eBooks?

  • Each one of them will be quick and easy to read
  • You’ll save yourself time, energy, and money
  • The PDF files can be viewed just about anywhere
  • There are no DRM restrictions involved
  • You’re doing your part to support the community
  • You’re looking to gain a little extra knowledge
  • Refunds actually become donations to charity
  • If just one tip helps you, isn’t it worth doing?

Let me know what other knowledge I might be able to impart?

How to Find Your “How To” Topic

Geek!This is Evan Brammer’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

As I was mulling over the possibilities for my entry, while tossing ideas back and forth with my wife, I realized that I just could not think of anything. What should I teach everyone “how to” do? I don’t know. I suppose it would be good if someone were to post something on “how to” come up with a “how to” topic? That would be good. WAIT! That’s what I can do. I’ll do a “how to” on “how to” discover exactly what your “how to” is.

Step One: Just Start Typing (Free Write)

If you are unsure, as I was, of what to write about – just start writing. Put your fingers to the keyboard or pen to the paper, and let the words fly out from beneath your fingertips. It doesn’t matter what you write about. You are free. Just keep writing, no matter what. If you cannot think of anything to write, then write that: “I cannot think of anything to write. I cannot think of anything to write.” Not incredibly useful, but…

As your fingers move, so will your thoughts. You’ll discover that when you write just anything, you can write anything! Next, you have to focus that “anything” into “something”.

Step Two: Focus that Anything into Something (Focused Free Write)

With your fingers blazing, begin to let you thoughts drift away from the aimlessness and onto a specific course. Just like a kayak on a big river, you can go in any direction you want – but if you want to reach your destination, than you have to chart your course. By allowing your mind to start in the river of aimlessness and then traverse into the bay of specificity, you open yourself to the wideness of possibility and are able to settle on what works best.

To focus your mind, ask yourself a few directing questions, such as: “What do I enjoy?” or “What am I good at?” Use these questions, and others, to bring your free-write into a more purpose-built writing exercise. If something doesn’t immediately come to mind, keep free writing until something does. As your ideas become more focused, the possible topic for your “how to” will emerge.

From there, you will need to refocus your focused thought.

Step Three: Refocusing your Focused Thought (From Broad to Exact)

Now that you have a general idea of what your “how to” could be, figure out if your topic needs to be refocused. Sometimes, the topic at which we initially arrive is entirely too general or broad. To continue on that course to actually writing the article on such a topic would be disastrous, as we cannot write about everything successfully in equal terms.

Think about making your “how to” topic more specific. Your original thought might be, “how to take over the world.” Now, can that topic really be covered in appropriate detail in such an article? Most likely not. So determine one aspect of the general topic and use that. Instead of focusing on “how to take over the world,” try just one part, such as: “how to harness the communicative tools currently available on an Internet that is transitioning from a static web of hyperlinks into a more social 2.0 conversation to bring the world under total domination.” Now that is an article that can be written and enjoyed, I am sure. Just… pick a better title.

With that, we have discovered the three basic steps to discovering what needs to be discovered. From here, we can all learn “how to” write a “how to” for anyone that might need to know “how to.”

I’ve Been Accused of Dodging Questions and Answers, So…

From this FriendFeed thread I started a few minutes ago, Mona asked: “How many cups of coffee do you drink?”

I’m down to a quad espresso – Starbucks, because Peet’s is too far and good espresso machines are too freakin’ expensive and take too much to maintain.

Tad asked: “Is God so powerful that he can create a rock that he can’t lift?”

Yes. I usually don’t answer questions if I don’t know the answer to the question, but… some people apparently want some kind of answer, no matter the question.

Mona asked a second question: “Why is the sky blue?”

According to NASA, “As the sunlight has passed through all this air, the air molecules have scattered and rescattered the blue light many times in many directions. Also, the surface of Earth has reflected and scattered the light. All this scattering mixes the colors together again so we see more white and less blue.”

Mona asked a third question: “How many boogers does a person have?”

On average? Five. That’s a total guess.

Mona asked a fourth question: “Why does a Macbook only have two USB plugs?”

I believe you mean “USB ports,” but the answer to your question likely lies in correlation between the production process and the product’s ultimate price. Simply put, they could accommodate two ports – because three wouldn’t fit, and one is the loneliest number.

Rah asked the question: “Where do babies come from?”

Sperm + Egg = Eventual Baby

MiniMage LightBlueRanger asked: “Why are we here?”

To make plastic, according to George Carlin.

Mona asked a fifth question: “How did Luke construct his lightsaber?”

Out of lips and assholes.

Justin Korn asked: “Are you going to answer these questions?”

Was that a trick question, or were you not expecting a socratic response?

Pete Delucchi asked: “Hello… tap, tap, tap, is this thing on?”

Yes, it is on – and stop tapping on my thing.

Matt Musgrave asked a series of questions: “You want a question that goes with the answer for 42? Well, how about what’s six times seven? Or how many Vogons does it take to change a lightbulb? Here’s one! How many roads must a man walk down?”

Sure. 42. 42. 42.

Joe Pierce asked: “What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?”

African or European?

Rah asked a second question: “Why do you look almost exactly like my youngest uncle?”

Pure coincidence, I assure you.

Outsanity asked: “Why do old people like CBS?”

Probably because it’s been around as long as they have?

Joe Pierce asks a second question: “If a unicorn farts in the middle of a magical cotton candy forest, and nobody is around to hear it, does it exist?”

If a blogger blogs a blog post, and nobody reads it, did it really get written? Oh, I’m sorry – I’m not answering the question again. I believe that it would (indeed) exist, if only in thought.

Yuvi asked: “Why is your name spelt like it was spelt by a script kiddie?”

I was tired of people guessing it outright a few years ago and decided to throw zeros in there. Really, for no other reason. Of course, I post it everywhere now, so… bleah. I guess it turned out better for SEO?

Tad asked a second question: “You don’t really answer rhetorical questions, do you?”

Yes. I mean, no.

Rah asked a third question: “WTF is a ‘l0ckergn0me?’ Is it related to the angry monkey in my closet?”

It’s a harmless little whatever.

Faboo Mama asked: “How many times a day does Ponzi call you a dork*? *dweeb, goober, geek, etc are also acceptable.”

On average, one time a day.

Morton Fox asked: “What would have happened in The Matrix if Neo took the blue pill and that turned out to be Viagra?”

Matrix II & III would have been much better.

Rodfather asked: “Do your farts really smell like a fresh pack of 3.5″ floppy disk labels?”

According to Ponzi, I’m not allowed to fart anymore… it’s been so long since I’ve done it. I can hardly remember what scent was attached to them.

Joe Pierce asked another question: “If a man got pregnant where would the baby come out?”

Likely out of his gut via some kind of Caesarean operation.

Carlos Granier-Phelps asked: “Is the answer really blowing in the wind? Why?”

Often you’ll find life’s answers drifting past you, if you’re not looking for them. When you’re looking for answers, be sure you’re asking the right question – or any question the ‘right’ way. Otherwise, the response may not be to your liking – or you’ll find it lacking in directness. Either way, it’s not the fault of the answer nor the answerer, but the asker for not being specific in their knowledge fishing. Why is contingent on weight ratios.

Chet asked: “Why DID the chicken cross the road?”

To get to the other side. It’s as simple as that. Srsly.

How to Learn Computers

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Tom is twelve years old, and has more insight to computers than many people three times his age. This kid blows me away, and he has an amazing future ahead of him. He sent me in his top five tips to learn more about computers.

  • If you don’t know the answer, don’t fight. Try fixing it yourself. If you cannot connect to the network… check the cables! It’s ok to ask your friend, or your teacher/parent.
  • Don’t click randomly when something won’t work. Keep in mind that Google is your friend. If you can’t find any answers on Google, check out the Microsoft Knowledge Base, Apple Support, or even the free forums on Lockergnome.
  • Don’t freak out. Freaking out will get you nowhere in a hurry.
  • Ask a local geek. Pop into a small computer shop and see if they’re willing to answer a few questions, or even check with the experts at the Apple store down the block. No question is stupid, other than the one you didn’t ask. We all have questions every now and then (even Chris!).
  • When your issue is fixed, find out what caused the problem and what the solution was. Then, don’t just educate yourself… share that information, via a blog or whatever communication you use. This will help others learn, as well.

Excellent tips, Tom. Thank you for sharing them!

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Computer Tips and Help for Novices

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At some point, we were all computer novices. I mean, we had to start somewhere, right? I’m lucky to have such a Technically inclined community behind me. But I want to make sure to reach out to those of you who may be beginning users, as well. Bill sent me an Email, with his Top 5 tips he always gives to newer computer owners:

  • #1.When you download and install software, save the download link in a text file right in the folder for the program. Once you have installed the program, burn that program installer and the saved text link to a CD, label it, and keep it. That way if you ever need to re-install, you can pop in the CD, and know exactly what it is and where it came from.
  • #2. Categorize your folders, but keep them simple. Create and label folders for pictures, work-related documents, personal documents, and the like. Keep track of the folders’ sizes. Once a folder reaches CD size, burn it to a CD, label it and store it. Then you can empty the folder on the computer. This can keep your computer much less cluttered.
  • #3. Don’t put off updating your Anti-Virus and protection programs. Remember… your computer protection is only as good as your last update.
  • #4. Be skeptical, be smart, be investigative. If you receive an email from someone saying that Microsoft and Yahoo need to verify information, why would you click on anything or reply to it? If Microsoft or Yahoo wanted to get ahold of you for security reasons, they would do so themselves. They would not have some unknown third party contact you.
  • #5.Ask questions, and learn what to avoid. If someone is telling you how their computer always gets infected with viruses and the like, ask them questions. Find out their surfing habits, and learn what not to do!

This is an excellent starting point, for sure. If you have any tips and tricks for newer computer users, be sure to send them on to me! I’d love to share them with the rest of the world.

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Windows Vista Stories


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http://live.pirillo.com/ – A few friends joined me live to discuss their opinions and thoughts about Windows Vista. We discuss issues, as well as what we each feel should be done to improve.

Four of my friends joined me for this discussion: Kat, SC_Thor, Wirelesspacket, and last but certainly not least… Datalore.

Everyone agrees that Vista was simply not ready for release when Microsoft let loose Vista on the general public. Unfortunately, we all also agree that it would take drastic overhauls to make Vista better.

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