Online Marketing Tactics to Avoid

If you run a business that uses online marketing, you’re a smart person. Maintaining strong online marketing tactics is key to growing your business and making more money. Online marketing is a science, and if you use it effectively there are incredible rewards. You may end up being as successful as Ken Fisher one day! But online marketing isn’t as simple as running a blog or trying to improve your search engine optimization. Plenty of companies use online marketing the wrong way, and in turn hurt their business. Be sure that you aren’t one of those companies, and make sure that you avoid any marketing tactics that could hurt your business.

Don’t Be Without a Strategy

Simply generating content and throwing it up all over the web isn’t a great idea. Just like any marketing venture, you must have a well thought out plan for success. Simply paying for a banner ad on a random website won’t increase your business, and if you expect it to you’re in for some cold, hard truth. Study effective online marketing strategies so you can develop a strategy that will help you reach your goals. That way, you’ll be able to easily track results and see what’s working and what isn’t. Strategy is the key to success, and without it, you may be wasting money.

Don’t Bombard 

It can be easy to have a “the more, the merrier” mindset when it comes to online marketing. But bombarding potential customers is rarely the way to grow your business. Think of those late night infomercials; all they really are is repetitive and annoying, right? You want to make sure that any potential customer does not think that your company is repetitive and annoying. Customers tend to avoid those cluttered, obnoxious websites that are littered with ads, so make sure you stay off of them. There’s no point to using online marketing if anybody who could potentially see your company simple browses over you, so be careful in the way that you try and reach new customers.

Don’t Become a Social Media Nuisance 

As social media grows more and more popular and becomes increasingly relevant for Internet marketing, many companies have turned to obnoxious ways to try and grow business. It simply doesn’t work, and can even lead to lots of negative PR for your company. Never, ever use an automated bot to communicate with people who are tweeting about something relative to your company, because usually it’s easily identifiable and people become easily turned off. If you use social media, use it effectively and have an actual human being running it. Don’t just follow hashtags and reply with the same generic tweet to every person; mix it up a little bit so you have some character. There are lots of stories about companies with no idea how to use social media, and they usually end up bad.


Avoid Stress: 5 Steps to a Better Outlook

Posititve Attitude - Looking Ahead in LifeThere is much to look forward to in life. However, many people have a dim outlook because they struggle with the overcoming the challenges to help them lead a great life. When things get tough, it is easy to revert into a negative attitude and to close you off from others. The fact is that taking the easy way out isn’t going to bring you the happiness you deserve.

1)    Gain a Positive Attitude

No great life can be achieved without a positive attitude. However, this entails so much more than viewing the glass half full. While optimism about life is a key component to a positive attitude, it is also important to stop personalizing things that go wrong in your life. Bad things happen, and that is a fact—but if you keep blaming yourself for a failure to create a better outcome, then you will simply recoil into an unhappy life. It is important to check your attitude frequently to make the best of every situation that comes your way.

2)    Eat Better

What you eat can be a source of your life’s outlook. Food is meant to be enjoyed and provide nourishment. It’s not to fill any psychological emptiness you may feel inside. By being conscious about what you eat, you will learn to make food choices that will impact the way you feel. It’s no wonder why the typical fat-laden diet makes so many people feel down.

3)    Head Outdoors

Regular exercise naturally increases the endorphins you need to help maintain a positive attitude. However, solely exercising indoors won’t do you much good over the long-term. Eventually you will get bored and depressed if you constantly surround yourself with air conditioning and technology. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to head outdoors on a regular basis. The fresh air and the vitamin D from sunlight does a world of wonders for anyone, even on the bluest days. Take time to pick through your garden or take a walk on a regular basis. Even bringing a bit of the outdoors through white carnations by GlobalRose can make a big difference.

4)    Socialise More

When you’re feeling down, it is easy to keep your distance from others. While you may not feel like being a social butterfly all the time, this kind of isolation will wreak havoc on your life in the long-run. Studies show that people who regularly socialise lead longer and better lives.

5)    Help Others

Nothing puts life into perspective more than helping others who are down on their luck. Material items certainly aren’t the best things in life, which is why depression seems to be prevalent among individuals who seem to “have it all.” If you are looking for some meaning in your life, why not help someone in need? Simply volunteering your time makes a world of a difference and you will in turn feel better that you did something meaningful.


Technology Taking Over Family Time

Family Time cartoonMail & Guardian’s The Teacher has featured me twice to date. The freelance journalist contacted me in July while I was in Durban and emailed me a long list of questions. Initially I was very upset because it felt like doing homework. After some consideration and talking to the Editor, I decided to complete the questions below.

This is the complete interview links to relevant content. The original edited featured appeared in their October 2012 edition. The Teacher is circulated directly to schools across South Africa.

  1. How much time does the average child spend using technology?

A Kaiser Family Foundation reports from 2010 indicate children 8-18 spend 7.5 hours online per day. When you combine television and Smartphone growth increases, especially always-on BlackBerry or iPhone users, I estimate its closer to 10-12 hours per day or close to 50% of their time connected.

Technology increases dramatically when children are alone, either commuting to and from school, at night in their bedrooms. After a lecture at Curro School in Durbanville, Cape Town, a Vodacom employee once told me peak usage for MXit was between 11pm-2am during week days.

  1. What is ‘technology addiction’ in kids?

Addiction is the dependency on an external source of stimulus. Technology addiction is exemplified with he attachment experienced with Smartphones and cellphones in general. Teenagers identify themselves with their phones by decorating them in different covers and colours. Personalised ring tones was introduced about 10 years ago allowing people to further customise their experience with their hand-held “computers”.

  1. How can parents control the amount of time their kids spend on technology?

Parents must lead by example. After 8pm parent must start with switching off television and wifi Internet connections. When situations are already out of control, it becomes increasingly difficult to set boundaries. So confiscating smartphones after 8pm may be something you are forced to do. Children need more than 9 hours sleep according to experts. So for children in high school, a maximum of 8 hours of online access is a guideline and half that for primary school age groups.

  1. Is creating a balance important?

Balance is the key to managing stress. Elma Titus, a Cape Town-based trichologist confided in me a few years ago that more and more of her patients were teenagers loosing their hair. The result of high stress, mixed with information overload from various media constantly sends signals to the brain.  As the most sophisticated biological computer system, in extreme cases, you can experience a burnout or nervous breakdown. Balance is not easy when no boundaries exist, so start with that.

  1. How much is too much time spent on technology?

Some will say that we’re connected 24-7 because of television news channels like CNN or MTV. The simple solution is to learn to switch off your devices and make that a habit. In the same way we don’t leave a tap running because there’s a limit to the water reservoirs,  it’s time to switch off our gadgets to save electricity. Focus and concentration directly tied to natural sleeping patterns. There’s no consensus on the impact of always-on society at current because that only became a reality after broadband was introduced after 2000.

  1. When should parents be concerned that their child is spending too much time on technology?

Parent’s must be concerned when their children begin to exhibit anti social behaviour.  Playing computer games, chatting on Smartphones or aimlessly browsing the Internet for hours on end. After midnight the risks of exposure to online dangers increases dramatically. The reason it increases is the nervous system is stretched and unable to make good decisions because of a lack of rest and ability to concentrate. Simply put, when a child refuses to switch to let go of their technology during an agreed family time e.g. dinner time or Sunday lunch time, there’s a potential addiction or dependency that has developed.

  1. Kids today would rather opt for being entertained by technology, gaming, cellphones, internet, movies as opposed to going outside and having fun. What can be done about this ?

Nothing can be done to reverse this because there are no laws governing personal use of technology unless it’s driving and using cellphones for example. Children are opting for this form of entertainment because there is a complete lack of boundaries from the parents by example and from society at large. Adults are even bigger abusers of technology as they justify their dependency because of work or business.

  1. Virtual exercise is also replacing traditional forms of outdoor activities, is this a good or bad thing and why?

I’m assuming you refer to Nintendo WII or Microsoft Kinnect video game console devices. This is a natural evolution based on three decades of computer games. Please email me a clarification because I’m not sure exactly what you mean by “virtual exercises”

  1. What advice can you give parents who are losing family quality time to technology?

Even though it’ll be difficult, designate one day a week as a family day, and technology-free day. The key is to lead by example and also avoid using technology. The best way to avoid technology is to schedule outdoor or sporting activities.

  1. What does the future of technology look like with regard to its impact on kids?

There is a movement in called Transhumanism, which is the ultimate denial of our humanity. These scientist, and some very, very clever people want humans to merge with technology, so they by extension become immortal. The world of The Matrix movies is closer than we believe because of the coming Singularity. The Singularity is a point in the future estimated between 2030 and 2050 where artificial intelligence machines will be indistinguishable from humans, and more intelligent by an order of magnitude.

  1. Who is to blame for technology addiction in kids?

Parents are to blame for putting no limits on the children’s use of technology. Parent’s limit the access to alcohol and drugs from a young age until their children grow into adults at age 18 or 21 in some cultures. How can they not apply the same rules or ethical behaviour with online technologies and especially Smartphones?

  1. Are parents introducing their kids to technology from too young i.e. from as young as 5 own cellphones and ipads. Or is this necessary taking into consideration we live in a digital era?

Yes, parents are introducing children to technology like iPads at a younger and younger age. This is not necessary because computer technology in the form of microchips are built into almost every deceive from cars to your kitchen fridge. The primary years of a child is best suited for unstructured creative play.


Raising Kids To Be Entrepreneurs

Nisha Varghese blogger East London, South AfricaMy friend Nisha Varghese is a self-employed blogger and philanthropist. She suffers from Cerebral Palsy (CP) – an umbrella term encompassing a group of non-progressive, non-contagious motor conditions that cause physical disability in human development, chiefly in the various areas of body movement. As a result of having cerebral palsy she is unable to walk and her right arm has reduced functionality. She manages my Twitter accounts from time to time with amazing results. I asked her to watch Cameron Herold’s TED Talk: Let’s Raise Kids To Be Entrepreneurs.

She may not realise it, but she operates like an entrepreneur. By adding value to other people, she creates value for herself. In March 2012 she closed her water project fundraising campaign during which she raised over $7,000 for a charity. This was done by blogging and tweeting.

This is what she has to say:

What I learned from Cameron Herold’s video Let’s Raise Kids to be Entrepreneurs was that we should expose today’s youth to different opportunities, play to their strengths and encourage them to be who they truly are even if who that is does not fit the world definition of success. Growing up there were only three careers put in front of my siblings and I, medical doctor, engineer or charted accountant;  and for the longest time I felt like such a disappointment to my parents because I wasn’t any of those three things but watching Cameron’s video has made me realise I could be successful and happy even though I was none of those three things.

It is my hope that every parent who reads this will take Cameron’s advice and encourage their kids to be who they truly are because that’s the only way to change the world – everybody has to make a difference their own way using their God given talents and strengths.


Cheap access to corporate computers

By Mark Ward Technology correspondent, BBC News

Cybercriminals are openly selling illegal access to the computer networks of many of the world’s biggest companies. For only a few pounds or dollars, fraudsters and scammers can get the login in details for a server sitting on the network of a Fortune 500 firm.

Those renting access can use the machine to carry out their own scams, such as sending spam, or use it as a springboard for a wider hacking attempt on a big company. The network access is just one of a wide range of cybercrime services now available on the underground economy.

Called Dedicatexpress, the hacked server service was uncovered by security researcher Brian Krebs who spent two weeks tracking down the site, accessing its forums and getting hold of a list of the corporate networks to which it offered access.

Currently, the site has about 17,000 servers available but he estimates that about 300,000 have been listed since the site started in 2010. Since Mr Krebs wrote about it, the site has changed to become member-only.

Spam funnel

Mr Krebs said the site was acting as a broker on behalf of hackers who had already won access to the networks as a result of separate attacks.

“It seems to they are gathering these from people who are selling them to the service,” he told the BBC.

“They maybe individual hackers that have no use for these but know they have value and are re-selling them.”

The servers listed could prove useful to spammers or other fraudsters who want to use corporate resources, which typically include high speed net links and powerful computers for their own ends.

Dedicatexpress puts some restrictions on what customers can do with some hacked servers, said Mr Krebs. Paypal fraud, online gambling and dating site scams are among activities banned on some.

While openly offering hacked servers for sale may be a surprise or a shock to some, Mr Krebs said it was likely that the computers had been compromised for a long time.

“My sense is that a lot of these systems are probably abused quite a bit before they get to this point,” he said. “They may have been wrung out in other ways before they are sold to a service like this.”

The first cybercriminal or hacker that won access to the server probably used it for their own ends, he said. That might have involved stealing company secrets, using it as a server for a phishing scam or to funnel spam through.

“These could provide someone with full control of a machine which is on the inside of a major corporation’s network,” said Yuval Ben-Itzhak, chief technology officer at security firm AVG. “They can be used to attack machines outside of the network under the disguise of a trusted company.”

Mr Ben-Itzhak said it was easy for firms to stop cyber-thieves winning access if they changed default passwords and made sure those they did pick were hard to guess. Anything else, he suggested, was just being “sloppy”.

Underground express

Rik Ferguson, director of security research and communications at Trend Micro, said the existence of Dedicatexpress showed how sophisticated the underground economy had become.

“That’s the beauty of digital crime as far as the criminal is concerned,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be exclusive, the same ‘stolen goods’ can be sold and resold with no deterioration in quality, whether that is intellectual property, credentials, stolen accounts or network access.”

Dedicatexpress was just one of many, many sites run out of countries in Eastern Europe that made up the underground economy, said Mr Ferguson.

A report by security firm Trend Micro showed that Russia was at the centre of this widespread criminal economy in which any and every cybercrime service is on sale – at a price. The rates being charged for the various services, including everything from hacking corporate mailboxes to sending junk texts, were detailed in the report.

One of the most expensive services on offer on the underground was the purchase of an entire botnet for about £435 ($700). A botnet is a network of hijacked home computers that a hacker has compromised. The computers on this network can be plundered for saleable data or used as proxies for spamming campaigns or phishing attacks.

If buying a botnet is too expensive, renting one for an hour can cost as little as £1.20 ($2), and sending a million emails out via it would cost about £6. The Trend Micro report found that custom hacking jobs were more expensive though unlikely to break the bank. For instance, hacking a Gmail, Facebook or Twitter account would cost about £100.

Cybercrime in Russia had long ceased being a “hobby” for hackers, said Mr Ferguson, and had become a way of life for many criminals who were making a good living from their nefarious deeds. Brian Krebs said he was no longer shocked by the scale and sophistication of the hi-tech crime economy.

“A few years ago I would have been,” he said. “Now? Not so much. There are just so many of these types of services out there and these hacked servers are very widely available.”

source: BBC


France's President promises pupils ‘no more homework’

French President François Hollande pledged to ditch homework on Tuesday as part of wide-ranging reforms aimed at improving standards for over-worked French pupils, especially those in disadvantaged areas.

French President François Hollande potentially won the hearts of millions of future voters on Tuesday when he announced plans to abolish homework and reduce the number of pupils forced to repeat school years.

The comprehensive reforms will also increase the number of teachers across the country, boost aid to disadvantaged areas and target absenteeism. The school week would return to four and a half days rather than four – a change introduced under the former administration as a cost-cutting measure.

“Education is priority,” Hollande said at Paris’s Sorbonne University on Wednesday. “An education programme is, by definition, a societal programme. Work should be done at school, rather than at home,” in order to foster educational equality for those students who do not have support at home., he added.

He also promised incentives for teachers willing to work in “difficult areas”. Children will also be able to attend school at an earlier age in highlighted zones.

Following his election in May, Socialist Hollande vowed to make education a key focus of his five-year term and outlined his proposals in the speech on Tuesday. He has promised to employ some 60,000 teachers over five years, after Nicolas Sarkozy cut tens of thousands of jobs during his own mandate.

French children’s test scores are above the European average, but they suffer some of the longest working days on the continent, leaving school only at 5pm or 6pm.

source: FRANCE 24 with wires


Mxit education takes off

MXit Education Technology Mobile South AfricaMxit has signed up 5-million subscribers to its educational content, and 600 000 to its eight exam revision applications. Mxit believes this provides ample evidence that the average mobile phone can become a transformative education tool for learners.

Andrew Rudge, Chief of Insight and Reach at Mxit says, “mLearning is powerful because it breaks through the traditional barriers of time, location and the cost of delivering educational content. The power of the Internet in an educational context has always been that it simplifies access to content and the experts on that content. With Mxit we are taking that power and making it easily accessible on the average feature phone.”

QuizMax, which gives learners access to Maths, Physical Science and Life Sciences quizzes for grades 10, 11 and 12, is the most popular exam revision application on Mxit, with over 200 000 subscribers.

“The potential for QuizMax to improve learners’ ability to pass exams is undeniable. Last year our top achievers got over 92% in Maths and Physical Science and achieved their goals of securing scholarships and bursaries to study further,” says Ian McDougall, the founder of Learning to the Max Foundation, which developed QuizMax.

“Because our 1500 questions are always available, the learner is able to learn independently. It doesn’t matter where they are, what time it is or what their current ability level is. This flexibility and independence, combined with the emergence of a technology generation, means that mLearning tools like QuizMax have the potential to truly empower learners and possibly transform education,” concludes McDougall.

The revision apps available to all Mxit users include:

  • QuizMax: Maths, Physical Science and Life Sciences quizzes for grade 10,11 and 12 learners
  • Class of 2012 (DOBE): Tips and advice on study methods and additional study materials
  • ExamZone: Chat room for exam discussions
  • Everything Maths: Curriculum aligned textbooks with embedded videos, simulations, PowerPoint presentations and more.
  • Everything Science: Curriculum aligned textbooks with embedded videos, simulations, PowerPoint presentations and more.
  • CellSchool: Free video revision lessons to assist with exam preparation
  • Crunch The Numbers: Put Maths skills to the test, and possibly win a bursary
  • Dr Math: A Maths-tutoring programme developed by the CSIR Meraka Institute.

source: Gadget Technology Magazine

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