An Inspiring Kiva Story

Kiva is an international nonprofit, founded in 2005 and based in San Francisco, with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. They celebrate and support people looking to create a better future for themselves, their families and their communities. 
Kiva Loan for a Shoe Business

By lending as little as $25 on Kiva, anyone can help a borrower start or grow a business, go to school, access clean energy or realize their potential. For some, it’s a matter of survival, for others it’s the fuel for a life-long ambition.

One woman brewing change in Africa, and beyond – Medium  Story by Jessica P. Hansen, photos by Brandon Smith

Vava Coffee, is taking the coffee industry by storm. Upon learning that coffee farmers in Kenya earn less than 35% of the international market value on their high-quality coffee because of their lack of access to better markets and limited knowledge of the quality of their product, Vava set out to shake things up. Get the full ‘scoop’ on how her Kiva loan has allowed her to grow her business and improve the lives of 30,000 farmers in innovative ways

The Humble Computer Mouse

The choice of computer mouse is a very individual thing and depends on many factors:

  • How many hours a day you work at your computer?
  • Is your primary computer a desktop, a laptop or notebook or even a tablet; but you won’t be needing a mouse if it is a tablet, will you?
  • How big your hands are.
  • Do you want/need to use wired, wireless or bluetooth?
  • Whether you use the scroll function or not.
  • Do you suffer from wrist pain?

In some of these instances, the cheaper type mouse that comes with your computer will serve your needs adequately, but if you, like me work for about eight hours every day, the comfort and functions of your mouse are particularly important.
.

On the left below is a photo of the first mouse I paid in excess of $60 for and never regretted it at all. It was comfortable in my largish hands and I didn’t ever suffer any wrist pain even though I worked at my PC sometimes up to 12 hours in a day. The day I dropped it on the tiled floor and broke it was a very sad day for me.
.

 

Luckily I was able to buy another different model  but with the same profile within a couple of days. That one too has died lately so I’m looking for a new one, the Kensington mouse on the right below might well be the one since I have had a word in Santa’s ear!
.

The logitech 2nd from left has served as my laptop mouse for a couple of years – it does look a bit battered, doesn’t it? Very similar profile and quite comfortable. The third photo shows my big hands – imagine my right hand wrapped around one of these tiny mobile models! However, I do carry a retractable one around in my laptop bag, as a backup and the occasions when an extra mouse is needed to test someone’s computer.

 History of the computer mouse

Tracking Technology

.
Did you know that the name mouse is derived from “Manually Operated User Select Equipment”? This makes the argument about whether more than one computer mouse should be called computer mouses or computer mice (as we do for the rodent variety). It seems there has been no absolute ruling and generally computer companies avoid the issue by calling them mouse devices. Probably mouses is technically correct, but it sounds awkward and people tend to use mice for the plural form.
.
The original design for a mouse was mechanical; the mouse had a ball in a compartment underneath and embedded around the edge were some little rollers. These would clog up from the dust and dirt from the user’s desk and needed cleaning to keep the mouse running smoothly (I did this countless times when clients or friends complained that their mouse wasn’t working properly). There were also four sliding type feet that clogged up as well, but these devices were a boon when the alternative was just keyboard shortcuts.
.

Along came optical technology and made our lives so much easier. A small LED on the bottom of the mouse translates the movement of your hand into movement of the mouse pointer. Laser mouse devices work the same way, but using a laser instead af the LED. Laser mice have a higher dpi (dots per inch) which means they are more sensitive. For general users this extra sensitivity is not really needed, but graphic designers and gamers often appreciate the difference and make a laser mouse their choice.

Wired Connectors

.
The early mice (see above) had a serial connector plug, see picture below. Serial ports were the original standard for interfacing any device with any other device on a computer. Later, a smaller 6 pin Mini Din was introduced by IBM on their PS/2 personal computer and this led to the connector type being called PS/2. For many years PC’s had PS/2 connectors for both keyboard and mouse.
.
Some computers still come with two PS/2 ports, but more commonly they just have one, the USB (Universal Serial Bus) being the most common type of interface on all computers, whether PC or Mac. All USB ports look the same, but there is the original USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 which allows much faster (almost 40x as fast) or increased delivery capabilities. The ports are backwards compatible, so you can plug an old USB 1.1 device into a 2.2 port and it will still go.

Wireless

Originally the mouse device was connected to the computer by a cable using one of the technologies above, but nowadays you have the choice (an increasingly common one), to go with wireless. The early hassles of wireless connections seem to have been ironed out and wireless usually works very easily on any platform. Yay! So much more freedom.

.
wireless.
Radio Frequency – this is the most common type of wireless interface. A generic mouse operates on th 27MHz frequency and the mouse is powered by batteries. More expensive models can come with rechargeable batteries or charging docks for the mouse. They may use higher frequencies and have a longer range.
..aa

bluetooth.
Bluetooth was useful for lower speed devices like a mouse and was common on early laptops. They are also battery powered and use the 2.4GHz radio frequency to communicate with a receiver/charger supplied with the package or some other Bluetooth adapter...
..aa

RFIDRFID (Rapid Frequency Identification) technology uses radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data to automatically identify and track tags, which for a mouse is movement. Developed by a company called A4Tech, the mouse must be used in conjunction with the included mose pad, but the advantage is that it is wireless and no batteries are needed.
.

Wheels and Buttons

Nearly all mouse devices nowadays have three buttons, with the middle button also being a scroll-wheel. This scroll wheel is essential in my opinion to navigate up and down your screen and on web pages. Any other buttons, typically on the left hand side for a right handed mouse or on the RHS for a left handed mouse, can be programmed by the user to carry out different functions.

 

Buying a computer mouse

A quick search on eBay will show just what a variety of choice there for buying a new mouse – some are fun, some are fancy, some for serious gamers and some ergonomic models for users like me. So how do you choose?

Narrow down the options with these requirements:

  • Do you want wired or wireless?
  • Do you need laser or will Optical suit your needs?
  • What size – full-sized, medium or small (also called compact,  mini, mobile, laptop etc)
  • PS/2 or USB? USB is more common but if your computer does not have many USB ports, but does have PS/2 ports, using a PS/2 mouse (or keyboard) will leave an extra USB port available for other peripherals.
  • Scrolling – do you need left and right as well as up and down?
  • Buttons – does your work (or play) require advanced features?

A great place to see what is available is on eBay, even when you want to shop locally. The wide variety of mouse devices listed there will give you a good idea of all the functions and help you narrow down your choice.
a
.
I have a mouse collection on eBay, just for the fun of it – see some of my pics

See my Collection here http://www.ebay.com/cln/plfbus/Fun-Fancy-Mouse-Collection/66866785015

.

 

 

2 Simple Steps to Make Your Retirement Savings Leap

The fall in value of currencies, while costs continues to rise is causing millions of older people around the world to fear what their life will be like in their senior years. There is so much uncertainty that retirement savings carefully put aside for all those years will no longer be sufficient to provide the expected comfort in later life. Such questions as what would happen if they developed health problems, what if one partner dies and the other is left, what if they could no longer afford to live in their family home.

It is not all doom and gloom. According to USNews Money department writer, Richard Satran in an article published 5th March 2103:

Fear has motivated people to start saving more, but here are two positive ways to upgrade savings

Older couple reading a document while sitting together

Given a half-decade of economic uncertainty, fear may still be the biggest motivator for retirement saving. The financial crisis inspired people everywhere to save more and hold off on short-term spending. “It shook people out of their complacency and got them thinking, ‘I should save more,'” says Ken Hevert, Fidelity’s vice president of retirement products. “All age groups—young people, too, are showing a tendency to be more conservative.”

New surveys by two leading financial-services companies show how attitudes toward saving have evolved, and highlight a couple of easy steps that can have a big impact on savings.

 These easy steps can be summarized in the following two tips:

“Tip 1: Planning for retirement boosts savings dramatically” – the planning process gives them positive goals for retirement

“Tip 2: Putting eggs in more than one basket produces far higher returns” …. “opening more channels for collecting funds has a positive effect on the amount people save”

Does planning give people a sense of taking control of their lives which helps to overcome the fear factor?

 Click here to read the full article.

Top 100 Senior Living Sites

Although this site is primarily aiming to help seniors supplement their income, nothing about our lives is in isolation. As we age we often face difficulties with housing, memory and other health issues and for many of us, the reality of living alone. Where can seniors find information to help with these issues?

This morning I received an email from Allison Mathison who has compiled a list of the top 100 senior living sites to help people find the info they are looking for. I have copied her email below as she describes it so well herself:

As you know elderly care and senior living industry is always in
demand and always changing as our country grows. I have been blogging about
these topics for quite awhile now and recently just compiled a list of the
best 100 sites that covers everything related to assisted living, aging
issues, caring for our senior citizens. Baby Boomers are retiring left and
right and the need for these topics will continue to rise. Please feel to
check out this blog post http://nursingassistantguides.com/senior-living/

I spent a lot of time browsing each site and organizing them in
appropriate categories. It was really fun to make and hopefully will be a nice
resource for any senior citizens or even the family of seniors looking to find
the best bit of knowledge on the next stages of their loved ones…..

Each entry has a highlight link to a specific issue that older people face and I had a smile or two at some of the stories.

Here's the link again:

http://nursingassistantguides.com/senior-living/

Your Knowledge Can Pay You Extra Retirement Income

Is there a topic that you have become particularly knowledgeable about? Have you had particular challenges in your life that you had to overcome? Do you have a hobby or a craft that you have a compelling interest in? Perhaps, you perfected a skill in a particularly technical area during your career. Did you ever think that you knew a better way to accomplish something, if only you had the chance?

All of us have some area of our lives that we have focused on enough to develop a particular set of skills in or knowledge about. We have come to take our experience, knowledge and skills for granted as we approach or reach retirement age.

What if there was a way that you could set up an “Information Stand” on your own street and have a stream of people arrive at your information stand each and every day. Heck, they each would even pay you a small fee to have their questions on your topic answered! Do you think that this might provide a little extra cash to supplement your retirement income? You bet it would.

Remember your childhood. Did you ever have a lemonade stand on your street on a hot Summer day? Yeah, it was great. Adults would pay 5 cents per cup (some would even pay more) and when you ran out of lemonade, you would simply make up another batch. You could do this until all of the adults had their thirst quenched and then sales would drop off.

Well, you can easily set up an “Information Stand” on the Internet at which to provide answers on the topic of your passion. There are some interesting characteristics of your “Information Stand” that make it better than a lemonade stand:

1. Unlike lemonade, you never run out of Information. In fact, you even gain more and better information as a result of the dialogue and the research that you do in building your Information Stand.

2. You become known as an expert. That’s right, the more activity that you have at your stand, the better you become known as a reliable source of information on your topic. In fact, when this occurs and the perception of your information becomes more valuable, people will be willing to pay more for your information.

3. Unlike the lemonade stand, you can sell the information without you having to be there. You can even sell information while you are asleep or out playing with the other ‘kids’!

4. As word spreads like a virus about your information stand, the sheer number of people coming to your stand will increase exponentially.

5. Instead of being limited to just your street, you can have your Information Stand on the biggest Information superhighway of them all – the Internet!

6. Unlike the lemonade stand, the line of people coming to your Information Stand never ends. In fact, as the word of your Information Stand gets out like a virus on the Internet, you will have an increasing number of people coming to you for answers to their questions. People from all over the world will be coming to your Information Stand all hours of the day and night! If you build it, they will come!

The very best news is that the technology now exists for you to establish your Information Stand on the Internet for an investment of less than $30 and a bit of your time. The software necessary to do this can be downloaded free of charge and the remaining components can be purchased inexpensively (Domain name – $12,  Autoresponder – $20). You can visit my website to view video tutorials that show you exactly how to set up your Information Stand. It could not be easier!

Claim your place on the Internet today. Leverage your experience and knowledge into a stream of supplemental retirement income. You already have the knowledge needed, just carve out your niche and get going. It does not have to be perfect. In fact, it has been said that “Imperfect action is more productive than perfect inaction!” Take your first step today.

 

 

2-Minute Rule to Success

Life is a series of minutes. When a person looks at life in minutes versus hours, days, weeks, and years it is easier to make progress. As a society, we believe we must have large blocks of time to get anything done, yet, what is true is that finding things that can be done in two minutes actually is a very freeing activity; very empowering. 

So, what is the 2-Minute Rule? The 2-Minute Rule is a highly effective method that anyone can use anytime – anywhere.

The 2-Minute rule, in effect, is looking at things that can be done in two minutes. People have a tendency to let these two minute opportunities pass them by because they believe that two minutes are not enough time to get anything done.

Here's the challenge – look around when you have a two minutes as you are waiting to make a scheduled phone call, go pick the kids up from school, finishing cooking dinner – you get the idea – what do you see that you could do that would take only two minutes?

Tasks such as: sort the mail, unload the dishwasher, put a load of clothes in the washer, sweep the front porch, call the groomer for an appointment for your dogs, file, pay a bill or two, clean out a kitchen drawer, listen to a YouTube video on setting up a Twitter account, etc. You get the picture – right?

Getting in the habit of using this 2-Minute Rule is so empowering, energizing, and quickly and easily helps you become organized and productive. As you go through your day, ask yourself "is there anything I could do with this block of time"? If so, do it.

Sometimes the two minutes can become five minutes – that is okay. You can also set a timer if you only have a few minutes and do not want to forget to get on a scheduled call or pick up the kids from soccer practice.

The more you use this 2-Minute Rule (more or less), the more excited you will become about being more organized, having less clutter, having less distractions, etc. Our minds are always nagging us about things that need to get done, fretting about keys that are lost, worrying, and feeling guilty.

When you incorporate the 2-Minute Rule you will hear less mind chatter. People have a tendency to discount the power of this little 2-Minute Rule – believing that doing something for two minutes cannot possibly make a difference in their lives and how they feel. Word to the wise – "try it, you will like it."

Is your life cluttered?

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about clutter from various sources and the theory seems to be that if our lives are cluttered up in some area, it stops us from moving forward or getting ahead in that area.

Well not everybody will agree with this proposal, but it bears thinking about so I wrote down of a few things that might affect the workflow in my office for a start.

  • Does clutter make the work flow more or less efficient?
  • How easy is it to find things?
  • Does the look of a tidy office make me feel more inclined to work or less?
  • Do I care about the tidiness of the office when clients or visitors call ?

But it’s not just tidiness I’m talking about, it’s also belongings, such as clothes we don’t wear anymore because they are too big or too small, out of fashion or we just don’t like them & never wear them; shoes (how many ladies do you know with more than 10 pair in their wardrobe?), towells & linen, ornament, gadgets, tools, books, music, movies – the list goes on and one.

Could you give some of these things away to someone who would appreciate them and not feel deprived? Would it make you feel lighter to have gained space back and maybe helped someone else?

Not just physical things either, what about the clutter in our minds? Like holding onto grudges or resentments of things that happened years past; dreams of being famous or wealthy but not taking any action to set us on the path – don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking big dreams because every success starts with an idea, but without any action, it just stays an idea and doesn’t become reality.

Let’s declutter our lives, our homes, our workplaces, our cars and our minds. Be open to change and to opportunities that come along. Make way for new things, new friends, new places perhaps, new ideas, new starts.

We’re never too old to learn and it’s never too late to start again!

Best wishes
Trish

 

 

Brain Training Can Improve Your Memory

banner_brainAll of us, in a certain point of our lives, experienced memory loss. It could be forgetting where we put the keys, if we have locked the door, etc. As we grow older, it is natural for some of our brain cells to age and die which would cause some problems with memory. Over the years, research on brain training showed that it could help in decreasing memory loss.

Dementia is one of the biggest health issues that the older generation is facing. Currently, about 24 million people are suffering from dementia. By 2040, the number could reach about 84 million of sufferers, making us one of the possible patients of dementia.

The same goes for Alzheimer’s disease which is affecting about five million Americans. Health experts project that Alzheimer patients could reach about 16 million by 2050. That is until the current generation would do something to avoid such problems with memory loss.

How does brain training help us in enhancing our memory?

Read more

Quick Trip Across Australia

It’s always nice to see family so I’m really looking forward to the weekend as I’m heading for Port Hedland in the north west of Western Australia where my two daughters and three grandchildren live.

Read more

Starting Your Own Blog

What is a blog and why would you want to start your own?

Firstly, a blog is often a mixture of what is happening in a person’s own life and what is happening on the web. It is usually in the form of  a  frequently updated, personal website featuring diary-type commentary and links to articles on other Web sites. Blogs range from the personal to the political, and can focus on one narrow subject or a whole range of subjects,  there are as many unique types of blogs as there are people.

Blogging is part of the general trend of putting everything on the web, regardless of whether we are talking about business, hobbies or personal stuff. It can just be a means of communicating with friends, with others who share your hobbies or interests, or it can be a business tool. Of course it can also be a combination of these things.

So perhaps instead of asking why you would want to have your own blog, ask instead if you want to, or have a need to communicate with others. The great advantage of social media is that you don’t need to know people personally to communicate with them and for this reason it is ideal for bringing interaction with others into the lives of folk who may otherwise feel isolated.

Is this you or somebody you know? Don’t think that it would be too hard to learn how to blog, because it is in fact quite simple and there are dozens of free videos and help pages to show you exactly what to do. There is no need to have fancy looking pages, but if that is what you would like, you could soon learn how to spice them up a bit.

Generally speaking blogs tend to have a few things in common:

  • A main content area with articles listed from the lates backwards.
  • Articles are usually organized into categories.
  • There is an archive of older articles.
  • There is a way for people to leave comments about the articles.
  • A list of links to other related sites, sometimes called a “blogroll” is often included.
  • There can also be one or more “feeds” like RSS, Atom or RDF files. (A Feedreader accesses other sites automatically looking for new content and then posts updates about that new content to another site).

Blogs can be stand-alone (self-hosted) or externally hosted. If you wish to host your own blog, you will be able to choose your own domain name, but you will be up for the cost of that domain name and your hosting at a minimum.

Externally hosted blogs are usually free but will often have limitations on what content and customisation you can have and perhaps also whether you can monetise it so if you want your blog to make some money, it is best to start out hosting your own. It is possible to change platforms later, but you would probably have to change the blog domain and that might lose you some readers. (For a more extensive discussion on the choice of blog platforms, go to  blogger.com

Some of the most popular free hosted blogs are listed below. All are very easy to set up and get you going quickly. Have a look at each one to see if it does what you want your blog to do, for example upload photos, videos, podcasts, run discussion boards etc.

wordpress.com
thoughts.com (as distinct from wordpress.org which supplies the platform for self-hosting)
weebly
yahoo 360
Windows Live

Problogger – Tips for Beginners

If you sign up to my blog this month you will get access to free ebooks about blogging (if you are already subscribed, you’ll be sent the link).

For more information, check outbecomeablogger.comProblogger – Tips for Beginners & becomeablogger.com for free video tutorials on how to create your own blog.

Blogging is an easy and economical way to share with family, friends and busuness associates alike. Make it fun!