These are the Featured Stories – the articles that are just so awesome they go to the front page of the website.

5 Tactics to Boost Local Traffic

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I recently wrote an article for the company I work for, entitled “5 Tactics to Boost Local Traffic to your Vacation Rental Website” and it’s pretty powerful stuff.

Even if you are not in the Vacation Rental industry, these SEO or Search Engine Optimization methods and logic, that I go into great detail about in the article, are extremely beneficial to most industries.

My boss even gave me accolades in our meetings – it’s gotten the most re-Tweets, the most shares, the most likes and so on, compared to any other one thus far on the site, so please go read it. ๐Ÿ™‚

5 Tactics to Boost Local Traffic to your Vacation Rental Website

21 Hot Online Marketing Articles

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It’s Friday night and I thought I’d drop this little Online Marketing Article Roundup into the mix…

One morning this past week, like most mornings, my Inbox was busting at the seams with Online Marketing newsletters, articles, tips, guides and so on.

It’s rare that I have the time to read them, letting my Outlook Filters, Rules and Alerts do their organizing tricks. Of course, with the intention of visiting them at some point in the near future.

But last night, after I finished teaching my Kung Fu class, I opened a few of them and found some interesting reads.

21 Online Marketing Articles to Read Today

We’ve got 6 SEO Articles, 4 Google Articles, 6 Social Media Articles, 3 User Experience (UX) Articles, and 2 WordPress Articles. There may even a Bonus Article at the bottom!

SEO

Google

Google

Social Media

Social Media

User Experience

User Experience

WordPress

WordPress

Bonus

Bonus

Finding a Source of Inspiration or Motivation

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Finding sources of motivation or inspiration can be tough and we all tend to search for them from time to time. Well, at least I know that I do. And frequently.

I would say I’m not lazy (the first step in fixing the problem isโ€ฆ), yet somehow I find myself searching for inspiration or motivation at times.

Podcasts, books, songs, movies and generally Google. These are the usual suspects.

But really, inspiration can come from the strangest of sources. This morning I encountered just such a strange source motivation.

Source of Inspiration Story

It’s a Saturday morning and today I had planned on a relaxing day, consisting mainly of video games and a short shopping errand. But my "honey-do" list is long, I am behind at my day-job and have tons of side-projects that need some movement.

But it’s a Saturday! Weekend are made for fun. Of course, now, I can look at that thought process and it can go one of two ways: validation or excuse.

I had also planned on sleeping in.

But since I am use to waking early, my body woke me just after 8 AM. I guess this was sort of sleeping in.

I stepped outside to sip on my first cup of coffee, have a smoke, listen to a bit of a podcast and see what the day felt like.

This little regular ritual of mine tends to take somewhere between 5 โ€“ 7 minutes usually. And in just a tiny part of this time on this particular Saturday morning, I saw something I considered not only impressive, but rather amazing and assuredly inspiring.

I watched as one of my neighbors drove past my house and backed into their driveway, exchanging our usual friendly waves. As the car slowed to a stop, I saw his wife and two children come out of the house with bags.

The trunk popped open, and the neighbor opened up the car doors while his family stowed their bags. He shut the trunk while they got into the car and shut their doors. He returned to the driver’s seat, shut his door.

And then they drove away. Waving again.

This all happened in less than one minute.

ONE MINUTE!

Now I don’t know if you’re a family-man like me, but this was impressive as hell.

Getting everyone on the same page, same time line, same feeling of urgency, with no sense of anger nor disagreement – just getting the job done effectively in the shortest amount of time possibleโ€ฆ

A book from my schooldays comes to mind: Cheaper By the Dozen.

Knowing this family somewhat, I am quite sure they were not on the run or any other sort of adventurous thing. But they were impressive.

And so then I decided my Saturday would be different.

I was motivated. I was inspired.

And it was from the strangest source.

Wake up and be present in life โ€“ pay attention.

You’ll never know where your next source of motivation or inspiration will come from!

Do You Like Facebook Reactions?

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Ever come across a tear-jerking video or post on that well-known social media giant, Facebook, and struggle with how to digitally react?

Sure. Everyone has. You don’t necessary Like that a friend’s family-member is in the hospital, but you want to show support and give the post a boost, with the hopes of others will see it – be notified, share emotional support, etc.

Liking something just doesn’t seem to cover many emotional reactions we may have to a story.

Facebook has finally upped their game in this area.

They’ve now introduced more post reactions. If you hover your mouse over the "Like" link, you’re now presented with additional options.

There’s the Thumbs-Up, representing the typical Like. But now you also have Love, Haha, Wow, Sad and Angry, along with their acompanying cute emoticons.

But this has been released for a few weeks now, actually. And although I, personally, have been making use of the new choices, I am only seeing slight traction from others. What say you? Are you using them? Do you Like them?

The Dead Sing August

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Emily Kinney Dead Sing August

Yeah, I know I am late to the party in a lot of this stuff, but hey – I am not much into the Entertainment industry and it’s a nice break when it comes real.

This morning began with a grain of enjoyable August happenstance.

I’m not a fan of the popular show The Walking Dead. I have no mal-interest towards it. We don’t have cable TV and my significant other doesn’t veer towards the scary. Maybe one day I can trick her into watching an episode or two and then we shall come late to the party.

Perhaps more to the point is that I am unfamiliar with the cast, I guess.

However last night we did watch a movie on Netflix. This morning I began listening to an unrelated podcast.

Where am I going with all of this? And where is August? You’ll have to read on and engage the brain.

As the episode of the podcast began, my ears were treated to a very beautiful female voice singing; I was half-smitten in micro-seconds.

So of course, I listened on.

The podcast is the (evidently wildly popular) The Nerdist, hosted by Chris Hardwick.

Dude is very laid-back and easy to listen to and interviews all kinds of famous folks in a we-just-folks kind of way. I’m a gonna stay subscribed.

And this episode featured a clip of this most beautiful song. It’s called "Never Leave LA." I obviously don’t live in LA and don’t really vibe completely with all of the lyrics. But the voice. OMG! That voice!

That wonderful songstress is Emily Kinney and she makes lovely music.

She played "Beth Greene" on The Walking Dead (and evidently her character recently died). She’s also been in tons of other things.

She seems to be a very down to earth and cool gal. And man…That voice… Pure beauty.

As I listened to her tell her tale of her life and whatnot, I learned that she spent some time living in NYC (shocker, I know – but hey, she also lived in Georgia due to Dead filming). During her time in the hustle and bustle city, she did a particular play.

And that play, actually titled after a poem of the same name by Howard Starks, was later adapted into a movie by the same name.

The same movie we watched last night – August: Osage County!

So it’s aligned in the stars – we must be destined to surf the neverwas together.

Okay, maybe not. But twas just a cool little slap-my-thigh-and-call-me-martha kind of moment. ๐Ÿ™‚

Go check out The Nerdist Podcast.

In Chris’ own words:

I am Chris Hardwick. I am on TV a lot and have a blog at nerdist.com. This podcast is basically just me talking about stuff and things with my two nerdy friends Jonah Ray and Matt Mira, and usually someone more famous than all of us. Occasionally we swear because that is fun. I hope you like it, but if you don’t I’m sure you will not hesitate to unfurl your rage in the reviews section because that’s how the Internet works.


Oh, and evidently this song is wildly popular among her fans, but she’s slightly reluctant to sing it all the time, due to its downer thang. But I can sure as hell understand why it’s popular – there she goes with that beauty again. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ™‚

Asteroids!

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No, I’m not talking about the pretty amazing Atari game called Asteroids, which I do have fond memories of playing in my childhood.

Instead, I am talking about those orbiting rocky bodies in Space, that some call minor planets, some call planetoids, but in general, we refer to as Asteroids.

Why this sudden interest in Asteroids? Well, although I’ve already mentioned the game that I enjoyed, and there’s many other fun non-scientific things associated with that name, but real Asteroids?

Earlier, I told you how I’ve rekindled my long-time interest in Space.

The day after I wrote that post, I stumbled across a spacey podcast episode about Asteroids, which lead me to subscribing to the full podcast of course.

And the specific Asteroidy podcast episode in question? That would be "How many Asteroids are out there? With Dr. Mainzer."

The Chuckle

As I began to listen to the beginning of the episode, I was honestly reminded of something rather humorous and completely irrelevant (and slightly irreverent). The absolutely hilarious SNL (Saturday Night Live) skit called "Delicious Dish." Yes, it’s completely irrelevant, aside from the voice qualities of the two girls speaking – somehow soft and reserved, yet saying some fun and interesting things…

By the way – I apologize for the quality of the video. It’s not mine and is only a video pointing at a TV screen of the actual show. Horrible, yes. But in searching for a decent representation of the video on YouTube, I quickly realized that the lack of originals and sheer vast volume of re-makes was suggestive of copyright law. Anyway, moving along here. If you watch the video all the way through, you’ll get why I chuckled.

The Goods

The initial chuckling was a bit out of line, but it was probably a good thing; it kept me listening. And I’m glad I did.

I was able to actually learn quite a bit. Here we have two highly-educated professionals in their industries conversing in detail about not only about Asteroids in general, but also the work that goes into studying them. This sounds like a topic that us wee mortals could in no way fathom, however both the show host and Dr. Mainzer broke it down. A step-by-step approach of explanation in layman’s terms.

Dr. Mainzer and her NEOWISE team calculated how many Asteroids are out in space, waiting to be discovered. Now let that sink in for a minute…

The NEOWISE project is the asteroid-hunting portion of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission. Funded by NASA’s Planetary Science Division, NEOWISE harvests measurements of Asteroids and comets from the WISE images and provides a rich archive for searching WISE data for solar system objects.

In short, if you’ve a slight interest in Space, like I do, you will love subscribing and listening to SpacePod.

In Dr. Nugent’s own words:

SpacePod

Visit SpacePod

Hear stories about the alien moons orbiting our Sun, of cold stars, and the future of space exploration. Every week, scientist Dr. Carrie Nugent chats about an amazing part of our universe with an expert guest. Spacepod is the podcast that gives you an inside look into space exploration.


The Resources

I hope you enjoyed reading about my learning experience and perhaps have found a new interest. To close out, let’s look at some scientific resources and those related to Asteroids but not so sciency. ๐Ÿ˜›

Asteroids – Sciency Stuff

Asteroids – Not Necessarily Science but Cool Nonetheless

For the Researcher in You

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I was doing a bit of research for my Northern Shaolin Kung Fu students recently and had a fairly eye-opening revelation.

To be honest – this little enlightenment is really positive, as it opens up new sources of information and at the same time it’s also quite frustrating.

Why frustrating? Well because it opens up new sources of information and a bit of overwhelm may ensue. ๐Ÿ˜›

As we all know, Wikipedia is user-generated content – a community-built encyclopedia of sorts, with editorial guidelines, restrictions and moderation systems (somewhat) in place.

And just a quck glance of its logo tells us that it is also translated into many different languages.

However, it is NOT merely translated into different languages.

There is different information in different languages for the same entries – sometimes more, sometimes less but usually different.

Translating NASA

For example, go to the English entry for NASA ( National Aeronautics and Space Administration).

Scroll down to the last paragraph just before the big "Contents" link box and look at the last link in that paragraph; the anchor text is "Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite," and it points to a page with a fair amount of information and links about this satellite, also known as "Ibuki." On this page, we also learn that Ibuki was operated and launched by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, known as JAXA.

Next, go to the Spanish entry for NASA and look at the last link before the "Contents" box. You will see "Agencia Japonesa de Exploraciรณn Aeroespacial." And that is a link to the Spanish entry for "JAXA."

A logical argument could be made, initially, for sentence construction; that perhaps the last sentence in both languages in this paragraph contain all of the same links to their respective language entries, but just in a different order, due to their respective language rules.

However, all it takes is a quick scan through the sentences to see that this is not, in fact, the case.

Fun with Lincoln

Let’s look at another example in a different way.

Look at the English entry for Abraham Lincoln. And then the German entry for Abraham Lincoln.

And now all you have to do is look on the right hand side of each page, at the photos and scroll down. You’ll see the difference.

But, But, But…

And before you give me all of the reasons why you think I am wrong… Try it out yourself. Search for any topic, open a window or tab for the English version and do it again. Then just change the "en" at the beginning of the URL (this specifies English, for example) to another language or region – de for Germany, es for Spain, etc. And look at what you find; run your own little experiments.

Conclusion

My point?

Different people are getting different information on topics, based on language or part of the world they are in. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but definitely different.

There are many people who are unaware of the fact that Wikipedia is content created by its users. And many more, like myself, are under the impression that the various language entries are merely translations of English.

I am not attempting to make some sort of social justice comment here. What I am saying is this: If you are researching a topic and want more – consider alternative languages. It has its benefits.

It’s paying of for me already. My topical search that gave birth to this revelation has now given me much more interesting information on the topic from merely looking up the Italian entry. Now after I search through all of this new data, I can’t help but wonder what the Spanish entry will give me. Or the French. Or South African, or…!?!

It’s exciting, if not a bit overwhelming.

3…2…1… Lift Off!

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Pluto in Space

Space has always held me in a bit of fascination.

I can remember even in elementary school, when we would watch the Space Shuttle launches. I remember the devastation of the Challenger and Columbia disasters. I remember one of my classmates who was super into the Space Shuttle program. I remember learning the conste
llations
in Boy Scouts.

Even though I’ve always been interested in Space, I knew that to really get into it, I’d need do some seriously in-depth study in a whole lot of subjects that not only don’t really interest me, but neither do I really have the aptitude for.

So I’ve always just had what I’d call a casual interest.

When I was in school and learning about Space, NASA was the only one I knew of going up into Space. Since then, there is no Space Shuttle program, there are public & private corporations doing Space activities, many other countries are in the game, Pluto has been a planet, not-a-planet and back and forth, we’ve landed things on Mars, we’ve got telescopes in Space and, so many other interesting things have happened.

Like so many other things that we learn in school, the collective activity, technology, progress, media and more regarding Space has changed, evolved, progressed. But when you are no longer in school, you don’t really just "hear" about these things.

At least you might hear a smidgeon of interesting news on the news. But TV is different these days.

For most, if you want to know some details about something, you have to go search for it.

So I have been quite clueless about progress in Space.

That being said, I’ve recently come across a very cool Space podcast that I would recommend for anyone to listen to.

It’s run by a couple of "regular guys" named Stephen Hackett & Jason Snell and, for the reasons stated above, makes it great for me. They are obviously much more educated about the topic than I am, and thus my continued desire to listen.

I learn so much from them on a regular basis and yet I don’t feel like I am being "talked down to."

Instead it’s like listening in on a highly-informative and interesting, yet light and fun conversation about Space and what them science-folks do about it.

Just today I learned about the CST-100 being named "Starliner" and about the Orion program. I learned of these awesome new photos of Pluto thanks to New Horizons and, the knowledge gleaned thus far from them. I learned of some really cool apps, like Did an astronaut enter space? Get a notification! and Luminos.

In short, if you’ve a slight interest in Space like I do, you will love subscribing and listening to Liftoff.

In their own words:

Liftoff

Visit Liftoff

Liftoff is a fortnightly podcast about space, the universe, and everything. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand the latest developments as explained by enthusiastic space fans Stephen Hackett and Jason Snell.

A Dramatic Korean Video Stumble

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Korean Dramas

09/23/2015 UPDATE: I never expected this post to be this popular! But for some reason it is. I’ve been getting emails with people asking me about other shows they could look into, sooo… What I’ll do is this – I’m going to re-order the list (at the bottom of the post) to reverse-chronological order, so that the latest shows I’ve watched are at the top. And then I will continue to update this blog post after each time I watch a Korean show.

I have a fair bit of knowledge of Chinese language and culture, having studied it since childhood and teaching Kung Fu since adulthood.

But I probably have a bit more understanding of Singaporean culture, since I lived and worked there for over five years.

But Korean?

Well, I did date a few Korean girls – one for close to ten years… And I took a couple of quarters of Korean language in college. But you can imagine how well that stuck. And my ex’s, well, they didn’t really expose me to too much of the culture – aside from the food – which I never fell out of love with. ๐Ÿ™‚

Stumbling into Korean Drama

I had seen a snippet here and there of various Korean dramas, but to be honest, they just didn’t look enjoyable at all to me. I watch a good amount of foreign entertainment, mainly Chinese but also others as well. I’ve seen several different Korean movies, which I really enjoyed, but again, the Korean drama TV show thing just didn’t attract me in the least.

And then thanks to a case of what-I-guess-you’d-call mistaken identity, here I am today on the second episode of my fifth series of Korean Drama TV. Just how did that happen?

One weekend my wife and daughter were out of town, visiting her Laotian side of the family (aside from loving the food, knowing a couple of phrases and going to the temple (Wat Lao Buddha Khanti) once a year for the New Year festival, I know little of that culture either).

I was stuck at home alone on a rainy Saturday night. So I popped open a beer and cruised around on Netflix.

As I was browsing the various titles, something REALLY caught my eye.

To put this in to perspective, I will have to explain just a short bit about the style of martial arts I teach. Strange, I know.

I practice and teach a style of Traditional Chinese Martial Arts (TCMA), AKA Kung Fu, called Northern Shaolin. It’s not the stuff you think of at the Shaolin Temple, but rather a particular Northern style that has been through Shaolin.

Anyway, the important take-away here is that in our style, the most well-known dude in history is named Gu Ruzhang.

And although you can find Kung Fu movies galore that showcase different historical figures, styles, events, etc., none of them feature our (Northern Shaolin) people, style, events, etc., and this rather sucks.

Anyway, to bring it full circle, there I was on the couch…

And I came across a Netflix title called Gu Family Book! The box-art was extremely Asian and looked like a Kung Fu flick. And then the master I mentioned earlier is named Gu… So do you think I clicked that thing or what? Hell yes, I did.

And soon realized it had nothing whatsoever to do with what I thought / hoped it did…

But I kept on watching. It was just one of those weekend nights, ya know.

I soon found myself hooked. By the time the girls got home, I only had one or two episodes left to watch. So I did. ๐Ÿ™‚

The following night it was my turn to selct the show we would watch, so I picked out another Korean drama and asked if she minded giving it a try. She was up for it.

Til now, we’re still watching Korean dramas (interspersed with other shows, however).

Korean Dramas I’ve Seen

Without further ado, here’s the Korean Dramas I have seen up til now, in reverse chronological order.

  1. You are Beautiful

  2. Boys Over Flowers
  3. It’s Okay, That’s Love

  4. In Need of Romance (I Need Romance)
  5. A Word from a Warm Heart (One Warm Word)
  6. Good Doctor
  7. Doctor Stranger

  8. Goddess of Marriage
  9. Coffee Prince
  10. God’s Gift – 14 Days

  11. Fated to Love You
  12. Angel Eyes
  13. Gu Family Book

How to Boost Your Computer Speaker Volume

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I know there’s plenty of you out there facing the same problem I’ve been (perhaps for years).

You’ve got a decent computer and some junky old speakers.

Listening through your headphones rock out, but the speakers barely whisper.

Let’s look at what finally worked for me.

Boost Computer Speaker Volume

First check all of the usual bits:

  • Raise the volume sliders on the speaker volume in the taskbar
  • Check all wired connections are correct
  • Check for Audio driver updates
  • Ensure Speaker settings are correct

And if that doesn’t do anything, which it didn’t for me, do this wonderful thing: Raise the Equalizer of the Sound Effects.

There’s two ways to get there, but I’ll just walk you through the most straight forward & easy one.

  1. Press the Start Menu button.
  2. Go to "Control Panel."
    If you don’t see it, type "Control Panel" in the Start Menu search box (at the bottom of the menu) and press Enter.
  3. In the top right of the window, you’ll see "View by:." Change whatever the value is to be "Small icons."
  4. Locate & Click "Sound".
  5. Click the speaker with the green check mark on it and then click the "Properties" button on the bottom right.
  6. Click the tab named "Enhancements".
  7. If "Disable all sound effects" is selected, unselect it.
  8. Select Equalizer below.
  9. Click the button labeled "…" in the Sound Effect Properties box below.
  10. Drag all the sliders to the top.
  11. Press the Save button and select a name for the setting.
  12. Press Okay and Close all the remaining Open windows.
  13. Try out your speakers; if they’re now too loud, go back through the above steps and try adjusting those sliders to a different level.

You’ve boosted your computer speakers volume.

Ta da! Now you can listen to your music, video games, videos or whatever without automatically having to reach for your headphones or spending cash for new fancy speakers.