Do you post pictures regularly on blog or social networks?

Disclosure: This is an advertorial. 😊

If you are one of the following, this post may be of great value to you:

1. If you regularly publish pictures on the web...
You might be sharing pictures regularly on your blog, Facebook/ Twitter/ Instagram or other social sharing account or on WhatsApp. This, despite not having a fair understanding of how digital pictures work, how they can be improved upon, and what precautions you must take while posting pictures on the web or using a picture available on the web.

Don't you think you need to have a better understanding on the subject? Mr. Slater recently faced a crippling legal case after taking a money's selfie!


2. If you don't know how to take care of thousands of valuable pictures on your phone/ laptop...
You keep on clicking, thanks to the ubiquitous mobile phone camera, so your phone, laptop and drives are full of pics you don't know what to do and how long they'd last.
In addition, you might have memories from he past - prints that are getting pale, pics from your digital camera, pics sent by friends and relatives.

Do you know how to take care of old pics, and how to name digital pictorial resources for efficient retrieval? What formats and media they must be stored in so that they do not get corrupted/ lost over time?

3. If you have small kids and want to streamline their energy creatively into digital sketching, painting or photography, but do not have the basics clear so as to guide them...
Responsible parents want to make their kids creative, and nothing beats arts and photography when it comes to creativity.

As a parent, do you know what all are the dimensions of pictures, now that everything is digital? Can you hand-hold your kid towards creativity that has no bounds?

4. If you are a photographer but do not have full understanding of digital pictures OR
if you are a digital picture editor without good understanding of digital photography.
Don't you think, you need to learn the other side so as to get the best out of your profession?

In all these situations - and many more - a small investment made in understanding digital images and learning the tricks of the trade will go a long way.

There is this ebook 'Better Digital Images', available at $3.75 at Amazon. It covers all the above and much more, in simple language and with illustrations. To read the ebook, you need not have a Kindle reader. You can read the book on your smartphone, tab or laptop.

Major Chapters:
Image concepts - image editing - digital cameras - digital photography - file conversion - digital art - caring for images - images on the web - special images (selfies, favicons, infographics, panoramas) - selling pictures - printing

Social media: how it is destroying lives of young girls

Beware parents of young girls. You will be mortally shocked if you read the linked article. It is not a hearsay or an unfounded scary piece floating on WhatsApp. It is real, and you must read it. After you have had the shock, you must prepare how to deal with the stark reality of social media playing havoc with innocent girls.

A girl in herearly teens, when her body is showing signs of growing in a sexy way, when she is so innocent about how she could be getting exploited and compromised,  when she is highly influenced by peer pressure... she tend to do things that she should not have done. Not doing such things makes her unwanted in her social group and then one from the same group starts exploiting her.

Moreover, going a 'small' step into nudity, 'sexting' and being seen 'hotter' as compared to the one she is jealous of are considered 'cool', and thus she starts accepting these actions as normal. That is worse, because when that happens, she stops listening to any sane counsel from parents or her more sensible friends.

Parents need to be careful of such trends and take pre-emptive actions. Perhaps being caring and sharing from the very beginning is one of the best antidotes. Even when she has succumed to peer pressure and done something wrong, supporting her and always remaining communicative are very important. Taking psychiatric counseling, involving school, legal action... whatever action is required to bring the girl back to normal must be taken as early as possible.

You can read the article I mentione above, here. It is a slightly old post but as relevant today: New York Post article on how social media is destroying the lives of teen girls.

Blog Compass - Google announces a blogging app!

Google is promoting blogging in a new way: through mobile phone app. And it has aptly named the app Blog Compass.

The app is not only for Google's own blogging platform Blogger, but for rival Wordpress also (both the free platform and Wordpress software for self-hosted blogs).

Still in beta (final testing) stage, the app has the following main features:

  • One-stop blogging solution: track site views, moderate comments, see when a post is visible on Google search.
  • Sends Google trends for giving topic ideas. These are based on the blog's topic and blogger's preferences and blogging history.
  • Gives tips to make the blog successful.
  • In English and Hindi.

Blog Compass app is available in Google Play Store.

Google has currently released Blog Compass as an 'only in India' app.

Update: The app is working fine for Wordpress blogs but has issues in connecting Blogger blogs.

How is Gutenberg going to change blogging in Wordpress?

Wordpress has been working seriously on a development project called Gutenberg that will give new user experience to bloggers and website makers in

  • creating psots with rich content easily, and
  • making the design with 'blocks' that would make it easy to embed conent without having to use shortcodes or custom HTML.

It already has created some plugins to enable these features but Gutenberg would make it mainstream.

Blocks would make it easy and more customizable to put elements other than just text on pages and posts. Blocks based positioning of content is likely to give a new editing and publishing experience to bloggers who use Wordpress CMS.

Even paragraphs would be individual blocks and thus it would be easy to re-position them without messing up underlying code and formatting.

Working with blocks for text editing in Gutenberg:
taken from Wordpress website

Gutenberg is likely to be released in a few months from now, perhaps before December 2018, as part of Wordpress 5.0. Some Wordpress users in some countries have started getting an offer to try Gutenberg option in their blog dashboard.

Learning new things when it is not forced upon you is sheer joy!

Many of us have gone through an education system in which learning things was a burden, and we hated what the system thought was best for making us a learned person. Many of us have also undergone additional 'learning' for beating others in competitive examinations. Then, not all of us have got the job in the field of our passion, and the trainings that the employer thought were good for upgrading our skills were not always fulfilling.

Learning has seldom been a fun, leave aside joy. And one day when we are old, we think we are really too old for learning.

So, those of us whose college life is over, and those who do not need to learn new things beyond  tricks of  their profession or career, and those who are past their 40's, 50's, 60's or 70's - all have stopped learning unless we have kept our learning spirit alive.

Speaking on age, Osho has often said that you start aging when you stop learning, and you get stony when you stop to learn. A long but quotable quote from the great observer of human life and society:
And when I say be like a child I mean always remain learning, never become knowledgeable. Go on learning; learning is totally different. Knowledge is a dead phenomenon, learning is an alive process. And the learner has to remember this: he cannot function from the standpoint of knowledge.

Have you not watched and observed it? Little children learn so fast. If a child lives in a multi-lingual atmosphere he learns all the languages. He learns the language that the mother speaks, the father speaks, the neighbors speak - he may learn three, four, five languages very easily, with no problem. Once you have learned a language then it becomes very difficult to learn another language because now you start functioning from the standpoint of knowledge.

It is said, you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. It is true. But what makes a dog old?  Not physical age, because a Socrates goes on learning to the very end, even while he is dying. A Buddha goes on learning to the very end. What makes a dog old? Knowledge makes a dog old.

Buddha remains young, Krishna remains young. We have not a single statue of Buddha which depicts him as old, or of Krishna which depicts him as old. Not that they never became old: Krishna lived up to the age of eighty, became very old, but something in him remained always young, childlike. He continued to function from the state of not-knowing.

So first, when I say be like a child I mean be total. The second thing is remain a learner, function from the state of not-knowing.
Being a child - well, that is not easy to achieve and I am too small to dilate on that aspect. Learning: on this, I can try to suggest some resources. Again, whether we learn and enjoy this learning or acquire just the knowledge - that too is beyond me to advise about. I will talk about the mundane.

While earning our livelihood, we keep learning about our profession or business, and we can enriching our knowledge beyond what is required. And learning becomes deeply satisfying and fulfilling when we learn things beyond that.

Learning need not be measured, nor does it need to be certified, but it helps when someone else  tells you how much you have learned, isn't it? There are many free and paid resources that teach you and give you certificates too.

Here I list some online institutions that you can use for learning things that have not been part of your life so far.  Modules are available on all conceivable subjects and of all levels. Why not try one of them and learn in our free time, something related (if we love that) or not related with our bread and butter? Why not take a photography course? Or have the fun of learning simple HTML coding, which you dreaded so far? Or learn governance topics that always eluded you? Or learn tricks of investing? Or just learn how things around you work? Or just train your aging brain to work better? Why not try to fathom what eludes the mankind - things spiritual and things at the edge of science?

Project Guttenberg
For those interested in reading free and copyright-free ebooks - from classics to some new ones - this is the place to go. Boasts of over 57000 books, and the stock is likely to go up fast in 2019.

This website and its app have numerous brain training games to keep your brain active and healthy why you have fun!

As the name indicates, this site has great resources on how things work. A minefield of information for a curious mind, including podcasts and videos.

The most popular question-answer website, with community participation that results in different shades of replies to each question.

Nothing beats ted when you want to learn from those who have succeeded in their field and people with great ideas. There are thousands of videos of people delivering lectures on different walks of life.

If you are experimental and creative with crafts and DIY, this is a great place to share and learn. From building a jet to 3D printing to design and repairing stuff and learning how things work.

Though YouTube is full of how-to and tutorials, not all are of good quality, and many have been produced by non-professionals claiming to be experts. Be careful in selecting them.

There also are thousands of ebooks on all subjects, and the ones provided free (e.g. as a gift when you subscribe to their updates) by experts are often of high quality. Again, not all are good.

There are many other resources including some websites that offer online degrees and courses, and have a free section fro lower-end courses. For example, OpenLearn offers over nine hundred free courses on many subjects, and Code Academy has many free basic course on coding.