Make Your Wildest Dreams a Reality

According to Bill Gates there are 3 keys to success in any new venture:

1) Being in the right place at the right time. (You could well be already there!)

2) Have a vision of where the industry/business you’re working in is going!

3) Taking Massive and Immediate Action! (It is time to act!)

“The future belongs to those who believe in the quality of their dreams.” Was it Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, the famous German poet and philosopher who said those wise words?

Here are my 15 steps to fulfilling my wildest dreams…

  1. KNOW YOURSELF. Know and accept your weaknesses and faults (we all have them), but even more so your strengths, abilities and gifts. Build on your strengths and try to minimize or improve on your weaknesses. An honest, objective analysis of yourself is the first step in preparing you for success and realizing your dreams. Celebrate you for just being you, a unique creation.

Aim for mental clarity about what you most want out of life. Think about it and write it down. If it’s happiness, what do you mean by happiness: a sense of belonging, recognition, independence, love, money or security? If you don’t know where you are and where you want to go with your life, how will you ever get there? Aim at nothing and you’re sure to hit it.

  1. GET PASSIONATE. Don’t apologize for getting passionate. What excites you the most? If you are not enthusiastic and excited about what you’re doing, your path in life, you’ll never get others to share your dream. Once you find your passion, you will have found your POWER, MEANING and PURPOSE in life.

  2. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH POSITIVE PASSION. Always be aware. Negative people will poison your dream faster than anything else. Motto: “If you can’t be positive, shut up!” Try and stay positive…even in the face of negativity.

  3. ACCEPT FROM THE START THAT YOU WON’T PLEASE EVERYONE. You’re going to be misunderstood, misquoted, hurt some feelings, perhaps even lose some friends (for the time being). Motto: “What other people think of me is none of my business!” Repeat this statement to yourself, especially when you doubt or feel discouraged.

  4. ALWAYS BE YOURSELF. To thine own self be true. (Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, act I.3.) This is supremely important, no matter what the world may think of you. The masses are conditioned to mediocrity and other people’s success can make them not feel inferior for their own insignificant little lives.

Accept yourself. Learn from others–but don’t be intimidated by them, or pretend to be someone you’re not; because… “We are most effective when we’re being ourselves.”

  1. DON’T BE SCARED OF MAKING MISTAKES. The only real mistake is one from which you learn nothing. Motto: “Far better to try something and fail, than try nothing and succeed!”

  2. ACCEPT THAT IT WILL NEVER BE EASY. Realizing your dream may be the hardest, most uphill thing you’ll ever do. A truth … “You can’t coast uphill.”

The key ingredient in success is never giving up. Keep on keeping on with your quest. It has been said that “success is 99% made up of failures”.

  1. STAY HUMBLE. (no matter how successful you may be.) Don’t ever think you’ve made it and arrived–there’s always a lot ahead, more to do, higher mountains to climb. Motto: “The greatest way to do our thing has yet to be discovered!”

  2. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE YOURSELF. There is incredible power in yourself (in the form of the unique human mind), but far more so in the forces of the Universe. Make them work for you by living your life in harmony with these natural forces. Like positive energy attracts like.

Enough “spiritual” thoughts! Back to the “real world” and you. Avoid developing an inferiority complex (Who am I, a ‘nothing’?”). Don’t be filled with feelings of self pity (“nobody likes me”), or think “I can’t do it”. These thoughts will steal your dream.

  1. HAVE FUN. Nothing is ever as bad as it seems–don’t get too solemn, or serious or too downcast when things go wrong (as they surely will from time to time). Take a leaf from Thomas Edison’s book: “I never did a day’s work in my entire life: it was all FUN!”

Laugh at life’s funny moments… and there are plenty of them. “The secret of happiness is not in doing what one likes, but in liking what one does.” -J.M. Barrie

  1. DEVELOP ‘THE WILL TO LIVE’. There will be plenty of times when you’ll face the death of your dream. When failures, disappointments, and criticisms come you need the will and faith to keep going. Remember: We learn far more from our failures than our successes, because failures show us what doesn’t work. So, failure is just one step closer to ultimate success. Often the difference between failure and success is trying just one more time, picking yourself up off the canvas after being knocked down time and again.

  2. DEVELOP ‘THE WILL TO HELP AND SERVE OTHERS’. Success on its own (i.e., for its own sake) will pollute and corrupt you–it’s a dead end street unless you have meaning in your life. The years of struggle breed fortitude and character. The gold may be an inch away from the seam, where your fellow miners have given up. You need to succeed for a reason, a purpose, a cause that’s bigger than you! and IF (a very big if) you’ve fulfilled all the above requirements…

  3. ALWAYS BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR OPPORTUNITIES. They are all around you. There are no permanent problems–only solutions, possibilities and opportunities. The Chinese word for ‘crisis’ means ‘danger’ + ‘opportunity’.

  4. If you truly believe in what you are doing, DEVELOP THE ‘WILL TO SUCCEED’ with absolute commitment. It is not enough to just survive, aim at being the best you can possibly be! Keep your dream big, bold and even outrageous–don’t water it down or settle for mediocrity… even if others think you are crazy! Trust in your judgment, your intuition and your creative mind to overcome any obstacles. “Be bold and mighty, unseen forces come to your aid.”

  5. NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAM! Be patient. Don’t be in too much of a hurry to achieve your goals and dreams. Be persistent and never quit. As the saying goes, ‘Winners never quit and quitters never win.’

Always remember, when you think you’ve exhausted all your possibilities, you really haven’t–there’s always another way, a better way…and even more importantly, there’s always another day!

Life is not a dress rehearsal, it’s the main event. GO FOR THAT DREAM. It is within you and within your reach.

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How To Avoid Gaining Weight

This holiday season don’t be trendy avoid the Seasonal Seven (the average weight most Americans gain between Thanksgiving and New Year’s). That’s one trend you don’t want to participate in!

I know what you are thinking the holidays are a time for fun and indulgence. You don’t want to think about fitness during that time. You want to enjoy yourself. Okay, before you accuse me of being the Grinch, you should know that I completely agree. The festivities don’t have to be eliminated or avoided, because you can have a fabulous time while also maintaining your weight and your fitness regimen.

The secret to achieving a holiday season that is both full of fun and also includes fitness is found in moderation. There are two typical approaches to the seasonal festivities: 1) throw all healthy habits out the window and indulge in every guilty pleasure 2) starve and binge approach (for example, you eat nothing all day long to allow yourself to overindulge in party food). Of course, neither approach is successful at maintaining a healthy, fit lifestyle throughout the holiday season.

As I mentioned above, the key is found in moderation. With a moderate approach both to what you eat (or don’t eat) and how much exercise you do (or don’t do), you can avoid packing on extra weight AND also partake in all the fun of the season. So this season, get a head start on the New Year instead of starting January with extra pounds to lose.

Here are some tips to help you:

  1. Create a plan ahead of time. Before the holidays sneak up on you, create a plan for incorporating fitness and good nutrition into your daily routine. Evaluate your holiday and then determine how much time you will realistically have available to devote to working out and/or eating healthy meals.

  2. Don’t put your fitness goals on hold until the New Year. If you can’t exercise as often during this time period as you normally do, adjust appropriately. Don’t use the excuse that since you don’t have time for your full workout you just won’t workout at all. Instead accept your limited availability and simply reduce the frequency and/or duration of your exercise. It’s much better to cut your fitness time in half than to completely eliminate it.

  3. On the day of a party, be sure to eat regularly all day long. If the party is in the evening, eat breakfast, lunch and a snack # before hand (just as you would on any other day). Once you are at the party, go ahead and indulge in some of the fun, delicious foods. Since you have eaten meals earlier in the day, you probably will find that you aren’t tempted to go overboard and eat everything in sight. However, if you starve all day long attempting to save up all your calories for the party, you will be so famished by the time it begins that it will be difficult not to overeat.

# Schedule your workouts. Mark them on the calendar and set-aside time to complete them. Consider them as important as any other appointment or event you have marked on your calendar.

# When at a party, start by eating some of the healthy offerings. For example, vegetable sticks (without dip), fruit pieces, plain chicken pieces, etc. Then move on to some of the less healthy (but yummy) offerings. You will be less likely to overindulge on these foods if you have already filled-up on some of the healthier items. Yet, you will not feel deprived or unsatisfied.

# On days that you really lack motivation or simply do not have time for your complete exercise routine, commit to do just 10 minutes of exercise. You’ll probably end up doing more than that once you get started. Even if you only end up completing 10 minutes, that is still a lot better than zero minutes.

# When presented with a large variety of food options, it’s tempting to want to eat everything. Rather than eating one large slice of chocolate cake or a huge plate of meatballs, select a sampling of bite size pieces of several of the desert or appetizer offerings. This way you get the enjoyment of trying many different foods without overeating.

# Exercise at home. You’ll be more inclined to follow-through on your exercise commitment if you don’t have to drive somewhere to do your workout. Plus, you won’t waste a# any time on driving, parking, the locker room or waiting to use equipment. Working out at home requires very little equipment (even can be equipment-free) and is quite inexpensive.

# Avoid wasting calories on alcoholic beverages. The average alcoholic drink contains 150-200 calories per glass. Indulge in just 2-3 drinks and you’ve drunk the equivalent calories of an entire meal. If you partake in these beverages, choose wisely. For example, instead of having a full glass of wine, try mixing half a glass of wine with sparkling water or with a diet cola. This will help cut your calories in half.

# When running errands or shopping, be sure to pack some healthy snacks to have on-hand. Then after you work-up a big appetite, you won’t be tempted to grab something at the mall food court or the fast food restaurant on the way home.

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What Life-enhancing Skill do You Learn?

You’re already doing unofficial home study when you research a project online. Study in class has its place, but…

Up to date I’ve done many courses in classrooms but only two were very useful. I’ve learned most of the useful stuff from books or the Internet.

What will help you most in life?

The most valuable thing you learn at school is to write an essay. Essays help you organize your thoughts. An essay helps you convince people. Your

feedback in a home study course will mostly be essays. This will encourage you to write a good essay.

Many years ago I read about Electronics, and took a correspondence course on the subject, and made electronic gadgets for where I worked.

Then I decided to study Electronics at college. Unfortunately the nearest I could get to it was Physics with Electronics as the main subject, so I qualified in Physics.

The lecturers were shockingly out of date. One of my classmates and I spent a lot of time instructing the lecturers. We’d learned modern stuff from books and practical use.

It has been said “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” What this means is that lecturers sat through lectures and passed exams. They go on to teach what they learned in these lectures – which is already out of date. That’s the first benefit of home study.

Three advantages of classroom study

  1. You can get recognized certificates when you

pass exams

  1. You can get a useful plan for what to study

  2. Facilities for practical work

You’ll have noticed that although I learned more from my home study course, I still did a four-year course at college. I couldn’t get recognized exam certificates from correspondence courses. That was the main benefit.

If you want to study genetics and you don’t even know what a gene is, you obviously don’t know enough to plan a syllabus for your home study.

You get a useful skeleton outline from your lectures. Using my book about exams you will learn how to improve on the skeleton, but you need one

to improve on!

At home you don’t have a chemistry laboratory or a machine shop or volunteers to practice dentistry.

Apprenticeships let you learn about real life from an employer. Schools and colleges have labs and workshops for you to do your practical work.

Lecturers don’t know as much about practical work as an employer would. I hated doing chemical titration because they took such a long time.

Then I noticed that one of my classmates took about a quarter of the time, with greater accuracy. He worked during his holidays at a chemistry lab. He showed me the tricks and I was soon flying through my titration too.

Even if you do have a machine shop at home, you’ll be taught safe working procedure in a conventional course. That could save you from being a cripple for the rest of your life.

Instant Feedback

When I was about to hold a chunk of metal with a rag wrapped round my hand to give me extra grip, my lecturer yelled a warning. That probably kept me from losing my hand.

Even if you’re learning something safe like oil painting, you can learn faster with instant feedback from a lecturer strolling around behind the students.

Oh, you could take a digital photograph of your oil painting and shoot it down the line to an instructor, but she could be having a meal, or even be asleep if she is on the other side of the world. So you still won’t have instant feedback.

Writing essays works fine.

Conventional courses for abilities

It seems that conventional courses win out when you want to develop an ability, unless your parents already have that ability to pass on to you.

Knowledge courses

Of course, there are knowledge courses such as English, Philosophy, History, Anthropology where you don’t have a practical syllabus. These are

ideal for home study, and perfect for using an essay as a tool.

More and more Universities offer online courses. You can get recognized certificates with home study. You just need to be good at writing an essay (see my free report) and a few other exam techniques to succeed.

Even technical courses have lots of theory. University extension courses allow you to study the theory online. Then you just go to college for your practical work.

Distractions

A friend of mine refused to be distracted by girls or parties or sport until he completed his degree as a dentist.

I don’t think I could have overcome these distractions. If you do home study you don’t have any distractions.

Conclusion:

I prefer home study any time that it is available. However you can’t learn to sing, or karate, or dentistry without a teacher, so conventional study is often needed to supplement home study. Essay writing is particularly useful in home study.

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Magic Tricks and Kids

Performing magic tricks for people is always fun. I can honestly say I will never get bored or tired of doing magic tricks for people as long as I live. There is something about getting that reaction of disbelief from people. Having that satisfaction just for a moment that what your spectators just witnessed you do, may have indeed been real magic. To be able to put doubt in their head, even know they know it really is just a “trick”, they some how start to question themselves that maybe, just maybe, you truly are magical. Just to watch someone’s eyes, the laughter, and even the odd screams, it is something I will always cherish and continue to appreciate when I perform magic tricks. But there is something a little more special when doing magic tricks for specific people. The people that I am referring to are kids.

The Imagination of Kids

Magic tricks and kids is quite a combination. Kids seem to have a very different perception of the world than adults. What goes on in their little minds, I don’t think we will ever understand or grasp but it is pure entertainment and just plain innocent fun. For instance, when I performed a very famous coin trick for a little boy, the boy was maybe 6 years old, his expression and the words that came out of his mouth were priceless. I made the coin disappear in front of his eyes and did the classic move of pulling the coin out from his ear. Well, this boy’s mouth went as wide as the moon, I mean I could of just put my hand in his mouth and easily removed his tonsils for him, hopefully he won’t need that done down the road, but it’s those type of reactions that I love. Then, the words that end up coming out that mouth are even more priceless. Something that you can never prepare yourself for, and I quote, Wow, can you pull more money out of my ear so I can buy a new bike!. Well, I couldn’t stop laughing for about a minute, I am not sure if he understood what just happened but it’s instances like these where reality just doesn’t matter, just pure innocent fun.

Magic in their Eyes

Kids alone, just being themselves, bring their own type of magic to us. One place that comes to my mind is Disney World. When kids see or hear about Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck, their eyes light up, a smile comes to their face, just a magical glow all around. I get this same look when I pull a rabbit from a hat, or make a worm crawl out of my pocket and onto my arm. It’s really not hard to make kids laugh and be astonished at what you do. You know they are not out there to try and figure out how you did that or try and spoil your magic trick, they are there to be entertained, they are there for the magic.

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Take Folic Acid Before Getting Pregnant

Mississauga mother Susan Walsh gives a bottle of multivitamins containing folic acid to the bride-to-be at every wedding shower she attends. This is her way of ensuring that all women take folic acid before getting pregnant, in order to help reduce their risk of having a baby with a birth defect.

In 1996, Susan’s son Jacob was born with a mild case of spina bifida. He underwent surgery at 10 weeks, but he still has regular neurological appointments at the Hospital for Sick Children to ensure he stays healthy.

While Susan feels fortunate that Jake was mildly affected by this birth defect, as a parent she can’t help but feel responsible for his well-being.

“When I found out that I might have been able to prevent Jacob’s birth defect simply by taking a multivitamin everyday, I was shocked,” says Susan. “My pregnancy was planned. I quit drinking, smoking and even quit drinking diet cola – one of the hardest vices to give up. I would have taken a multivitamin too, if I’d known how important it was.”

It is recommended that all women of childbearing age eat a healthy, well-balanced diet including foods high in folate like asparagus, broccoli, orange juice, lentils and peanut butter. However, even the best food choices will not supply all of the folic acid required. To ensure that a woman is getting enough folic acid to help her reduce the risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect, she should take a daily multivitamin containing a minimum of 0.4mg folic acid.

However, women who are at higher risk of having a pregnancy affected by neural tube defects require a higher dosage of folic acid and should consult with their physicians.

Derryn Gill, Chair of the Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus Association of Ontario, and mother of a child with spina bifida and hydrocephalus knew about folic acid 22 years ago when she first planned on getting pregnant. She was ahead of her time’ probably because her sister was a pharmacist. She diligently took her multivitamin and had a healthy baby boy. She continued to take these pills through her second pregnancy however, her second child was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus.

“I asked myself, ‘Why me? What went wrong?’,” says Derryn. “There weren’t any answers 19 years ago, but the research since then has shown that even though 0.4mg of folic acid is enough to reduce the incidence of spina bifida by as much as 70% for most mothers, women at high risk need to take ten times as much.”

Women who are at higher risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect include: those with a family history of neural tube defects, those taking anti-seizure drugs, those of Celtic, Northern Chinese, Cree or Sikh heritage, and those with insulin-dependent diabetes, to name a few. Women that fall into these categories need to take an increased dose of folic acid.

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Success with Distance Learning

Distance learning has opened doors for many students, especially for those who cannot afford to pay for the high fees of full-time courses. Although online distance learning courses have many advantages over on-campus degree courses, many factors come into play in order to make this a success for students. Due to the differences in the way that education is being delivered and acquired, adjustments and changes in approaches need to be undertaken.

  1. Selecting the right distance learning school

The first element for success is to choose the right distance learning school. There are many unscrupulous ‘degree mills’ around in the market that are only keen to sell their degrees without providing good education and ample student support. As a result, the degrees offered by these institutions may not be recognized, or may sometimes even be regarded as bogus degrees. In order to prevent this, do the proper background check on the institution you are considering with the relevant authorities to verify on their accreditation and authenticity before registering.

  1. Cost-benefit analysis

Some students enroll in an online distance learning course without doing a cost benefit analysis of taking the course in the first place. It is a known fact that obtaining an education requires a hefty sum of investment. However, this should be compared with the potential additional income that can be generated from the degree that is earned. Only then can the full rewards be reaped from gaining an online degree.

  1. Degree positioning to employers

There have been many cases where employers were wary of the validity of online degrees. With so many online institutions selling degrees, it is justified for employers to exercise caution. Although a distance learning degree may be 100% legitimate, it would help if you provide adequate explanation on the accreditation of the degree in order to avoid misunderstanding. By stressing that the accreditation body which accredited your institution or your program is recognized by the US Department of Education, you can then eliminate any doubts that employers about the validity of your degree.

  1. Exercise discipline, determination and time management

In the actual course of study, many students lack discipline and focus and therefore are unable to keep up with online lessons and assignments. It is very important for distance learning students to have great determination to succeed, as it is very easy to get de-motivated and distracted when you are alone with no peers. Good time management along with communication with other students would make excellent measures for success.

  1. Make full use of facilities provided

Many distance learning online courses offer online lectures and email correspondence to facilitate communication with lecturers, tutors and other students. These facilities should be utilized as much as possible as it provides a link back to the education institution. Furthermore, this would be a great source of motivation in order to keep progressing through the course of study.

  1. Utilize credit transfers

Most distance learning institutions allow students to transfer their credits from other courses that they had taken from other universities or colleges. This way, students will not have to repeat what they have already learnt. In order to do this, it is important for distance learning students to obtain transcripts and results from their previous schools and send them to their distance learning online university to obtain credit transfers.

  1. Good utilization of technology for education

The final element for distance learning success it the ability to make full use of the conveniences that technology has to offer. Many online universities provide students with online research resources that are valuable for completing assignments or producing research papers. The cost of facilities such as virtual libraries and online books has probably been factored into the fees paid and therefore it makes good sense to utilize these facilities to the fullest.

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Strategies for Website Success

Whether you’re concerned with business-to-business, or business to consumer, whether your organization is large or small, commercial or nonprofit, these are some fundamental questions around your Website and technology strategy that should be addressed.

Otherwise, you risk missing opportunities, and not maximizing the return on your investment in your online presence.

If you haven’t visited your own Website for a while, look at it again in light of these questions:

  1. Does your Website present an appropriate image of your company?

Marketers talk a lot about branding, and consistency of message. Does your company site reflect how you’d like your customers to feel about your business? Is it sophisticated, and professional looking? Does it speak directly to visitors in language that they’ll understand, and in ways that relate to their issues and needs?

Image is also about public relations. Publicity is a powerful marketing tool, and reporters are increasingly looking for stories and information online. Does your Website offer a media center? Does it offer comment on current events in your industry? Do you face up to the bad news, and spin it to your advantage? Whatever you may think of Microsoft, check out their extensive Press Pass area at: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/default.asp

  1. Does your Website suggest potential for new or currently untapped markets?

In almost all the sites that I’ve consulted for, we’ve identified markets or audiences beyond the “real-world” customer base of the business.

This may be because the site extends the geographic reach of your marketing. If you have good content on your site, it may also be because visitors looking for your subject area find you in search engines, and come to read your articles and white papers.

Either way, if you find many “non-traditional” visitors to your site, you should assess whether they constitute a possible new market area for your business.

  1. Does your Website suggest potential for new products or services?

A clear understanding of your visitor needs may also encourage you to consider new products or services. On the Web, bundling expertise into downloadable, for-sale content provides valuable new revenue streams for many businesses and non-profits.

You can find great clues for development ideas by tracking the keywords entered into your own site search engine. These show what visitors expect to find on your site – and therefore what they expect your company to offer.

  1. Does your Website provide continuing added value for existing customers?

Most site owners focus on acquiring new customers, and fail to maximize the opportunities to support and service existing ones.

These include password-protected areas where your clients can follow the progress of their projects, share documents with you, etc. Personalization and pre-populated forms (i.e. which are automatically filled in with the customer’s details) help to create a feeling of value, and save time for your visitors.

Check the average response time for a contact from your Website. One of the top complaints about major company sites is that e-mails are not answered in a timely (hopefully 24 hours or less) manner.

  1. Does your Website support your internal operations and employee needs?

This question relates to whether you’re making the best use of all available technologies, and integrating them with your online operations.

Example applications to consider include:

  • Instant messaging, fast becoming a serious business tool

  • Knowledge bases – continually updated databases that can provide automated customer support on a 24/7 basis

  • Streaming media, perhaps for just-in-time training or on-the-spot manuals for your operatives

  • Intranets and extranets, which are really just fancy names for password-protected employee and client areas

  1. Does your Website integrate fully with your “real-world” activities and processes?

One of the most frustrating visitor experiences is to complete a form, an application, or to submit a search on your Website, only to receive an error message.

Customers want the security of an e-mailed purchase confirmation. They want to know that they’ll be taken off your mailing list quickly and without the need for multiple requests.

With the complexity of technology and programs today, sometimes a change to a seemingly unrelated system can wreak havoc. Do you regularly check all the input forms and processes on your site to ensure that no unexpected gremlins have crept in?

  1. Does your Website provide you with a justifiable return on investment?

This is probably the most important question of the seven, and possibly also the most difficult.

That’s because the answer depends on a clear understanding of the goals of your site, both in direct financial terms, and in other less tangible benefits, such as name recognition.

The keys to evaluating ROI, to improving your site, and often to further business development ideas can be found in your traffic reports. These show what visitors are looking for, how long they spend on the site, where they go, where they leave, and what rate of response you get to the various calls to action.

These reports can be daunting – a mass of figures, graphs and URL’s. But I’d strongly suggest that someone in your organization should understand them. Otherwise, you’re shooting in the dark with your Web investment.

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Avoiding obvious frauds on the Internet

Some potential sources of fraud – misrepresenting a business as that of someone else – are being slowly dealt with. It is still very far from being fully resolved. ‘You can copy the real thing without too much difficulty, and with a bit of luck and some spelling mistakes a fraudster can still be in business.

But this type of fraud could be avoided by legislating to bring web site name registration into line with company registration rules, where similar names and ‘passing off’ are already dealt with. The methods for obtaining web site names that are primarily for ‘trade’ could also be addressed to ensure that they can only be obtained by registered businesses, and that the link between the domain name and the registered business is a matter of public record.

Some less obvious frauds

The Internet uses a technology called TCP/IP in order to send information between one point on the Internet and another. Unfortunately it was not designed to be secure, it was designed to be resilient. As a result it is possible to read information that travels around the Internet, and also to alter it. Therefore, it is possible both to read information that is not protected and copy information that has been protected using cryptography, (a technique that makes information unreadable to the unauthorized) and to change the unprotected information without being detected.

The effect of this is to create a situation where fraud can be carried out even when a genuine transaction is taking place. Fraud might include putting other recipient’s names on the distribution list to make you believe they are also involved or in agreement with what is going on. (This can happen in the physical world processing a credit card transaction multiple times on paper and forging the signature from the valid bill.)

The fraud is subtle because it is impossible for either party to detect. It is effective because the fraudster may have gathered information that allows them to completely impersonate both parties in the future.

Solutions for technical problems

These frauds require a manipulation of the Internet technologies, and so can be resisted by technology. However, the technology being marketed to solve this problem Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), in the way in which it is usually implemented, has fundamental weaknesses, and has been shown to be capable of being defrauded. Many other schemes, based upon codes of practice and logos shown on web sites, although worthy in themselves, are equally capable of being defrauded. It seems strange that some advertising appears to suggest encryption technology using a 40 bit algorithm is perfectly secure for commerce, whilst also saying that 128 bit algorithms are essential.

Alternative technologies such as those are being delivered now that allow end users to gain immediate validation of web site content itself. They require software to be present in the machines of the end users to act on behalf of the user to carry out checks that the user can be prevented for doing themselves by competent fraudsters.

They also require competent registration procedures for Internet traders to make it more difficult for a fraudster to enter the system and pretend to be genuine. Such registration procedures are claimed to be in place.

One of the most important international developments for defining security behavior has been the adoption of the international standard ISO 17799 Code of Practice for Information Security Management. It is a comprehensive management standard for addressing the full range of issues for protecting information. Sensible adoption and application of the standard could provide significant benefits both to business and consumers. Self regulation schemes would do well to consider adopting it as a means of providing a common frame of reference for security and privacy claims.

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Raising a Self-Sufficient Teen

Teens don’t learn responsibility overnight. If you haven’t been working with your teen on gradually giving them a sense of independence and ownership of their lives, then you’re going to have your work cut out for you. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

By the time your children are in high school, they should be doing for themselves a lot of the things you’ve been doing for them all of their lives. What does your teen do when they have a problem? Run to you? Or try to solve his/her own problem, maybe coming to you for advice when they’ve exhausted their own resources?

I don’t know about you, but I want my daughter to be self-sufficient when she heads off to college. I want her to be able to choose her own friends, manage her own expenses, be up to the challenge of solving everyday problems in an effective and positive manner, and generally get her adult life off to a good start.

Sound difficult? Not if you start out with the small things. My teen told me most of her friends don’t even know where their moms do their grocery shopping. I couldn’t believe it. My daughter is involved with planning our meals (it’s in her interest if she wants a say in what we’re having to eat), and she goes to the grocery store with me every single week and helps me mark each item off the list. She reads labels, compares prices, and tells me when she thinks I’m spending too much money on something. And why does she care how much money I spend you might ask? Because our family’s finances are tight, and she knows that any money we save at the grocery store our family will be able to spend somewhere else. What a great life lesson.

Because our family’s finances are tight, my daughter has also learned how to budget. She is not directly involved in our financial planning, but she sees me making our budget and deciding the way we spend our family’s money. She knows that when more money than expected has to be spent in a certain area, that something else has to give. She knows that money doesn’t grow on trees. She’s started to budget her own money–tithing, spending some, and saving some.

A lot of my daughter’s friends wear expensive designer clothes. She knows we can’t afford to buy clothes like that for her, so we frequent local thrift and clothing consignment stores, shop bargain sales, and do a lot of yard saling. Sure, I wish I could spend more money on her clothes, but she still finds much of the same designer clothing her friends wear. Other friends are jealous of the good buys she finds. When my daughter grows up part of me hopes she can afford nicer things for herself. But deep down, I’m grateful for the life lessons she’s learning. Whether she has money or not, she will never want for anything because she knows how to get by no matter what her circumstances.

You might think your teen would think it a chore to go grocery shopping and shopping for second-hand clothing. My daughter doesn’t look at it that way. Partly she’s bored and wants to get out of the house, but going through these daily routines together is much of the time we spend together, hanging out and talking about other things on her mind. More than half of the time we spend in deep discussion takes place in the car driving from one place to another. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything.

I’m not worried about whether or not my daughter is going to be able to take care of herself when she goes off to college. I’m certain she’ll be up to the challenge.

A freshman in high school this year, she has four more years to practice before she’s on her own. She cooks dinner once a week or so, does some of the laundry, and helps clean up after our pets keep the house clean. At her age, homework is most important to us and that takes priority over other things, so we don’t overload her with chores, but my main concern is that she knows HOW to do these things. Especially with something like cooking it takes time to learn some of these skills. And if you don’t have enough patience to help them learn something like how to cook, then let them learn through trial and error. Let them cook what they want to cook and let them even go buy the groceries to make it.

Let your teens schedule their own appointments and make other phone calls you normally make for them. I think everyone has a little fear of the phone at first, but after the first few times they’ll enjoy the responsibility they’ve earned.

And did you notice what effect these changes will have on your life? Less responsibility and demands on you! It’s a little hard to let go at first and you might have to take baby steps in handing over the reigns a little, but you’ll be so proud of your teen the first time they take initiative on their own. When they leave home you’ll worry less and know it was a job well done.

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Finding Out Your Child Has a Disability

Finding out that a child has been born with a disability, or that a previously healthy child has suffered an injury or disease that causes a disability can be the most traumatic moment in a parent’s life. Shock is usually the first thing people experience. It can temporarily paralyze you, preventing you from taking action, or even making rational decisions. In this difficult first period it is always wise to take the counsel of professionals and family members with experience or others whom you trust, while always maintaining the right to make the final decision yourselves.

After coming to grips with the shock of their situation, many parents come to feel that their expectations have been dashed, that they are failures as parents or that their family has been destroyed. Uncertainty, blame or jealousy may arise. Parents may worry about hundreds of questions that have few immediate answers which can lead to an unbalanced and overly bleak view of the opportunities, potential, and joy that can be found in raising a child with a disability.

These emotions however are normal; part of a ‘mourning’ process that many parents of children with disabilities go through. If you have these feelings, remember that you are not the only ones who feel this way, and that you will get over them. You can adjust more quickly by obtaining accurate information, sharing your feelings openly with others, seeking professional counseling, and, most importantly, having open discussions with all members of your immediate family. With time, love, and support, any negative emotions you feel can be replaced by positive ones leading to productive actions that will benefit your child.

It is not the end of the world, and many families have become stronger, more loving, and more closely knit because of a disability in the family. The disability gave them the opportunity to work together to help out their loved one, and the entire family shares in the gains that are made by the child. Many of the negatives that parents imagine that go along with having a child who has a disability simply do not occur. While you will have to make some sacrifices, you will still have time for your friends, family, and hobbies. After awhile, many of the activities you once viewed as sacrifices will come to be seen as part of every life, rather than an exceptional burden.

Developing a positive attitude is very important, and although children with disabilities will inevitably become aware of their limitations, they should always be encouraged to take on new challenges. This is sometimes difficult as children with physical limitations may be reluctant to participate in physical activities out of fear of failure. Despite these fears, both the child’s and the parent’s perspective should be ‘have fun, and do your best.

Some parents of children with disabilities are unable to have their special child live at home with them, but the vast majority is able to successfully manage within the home. If you are finding you cannot cope, there are alternatives available that will allow you to maintain a loving relationship with your child while maximizing appropriate care.

The most important factor in a family’s success is the motivation to succeed. If a child realizes that his parents always encourage success and will not be satisfied with anything less than his best effort, he will be motivated to succeed. Never settling for failure becomes part of his character, and his self-esteem will be enhanced and maintained.

There is a wide range of disabilities that affect children but the constant emphasis on always trying your best, reinforced in an atmosphere of warmth and support, will help any child with a disability triumph over the challenge that he will face. Instilling this confidence will help him have faith in himself and work on his own behalf throughout the course of his entire life.

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