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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Organizing Your Twitter Life/10 Apps for More Efficient Tweeting

PUBLISHED IN FREELANCE SWITCH 
GREAT AND VERY USEFUL BLOG: reelanceswitch.com
COURTESY OF Leo Widrich

Organizing Your Twitter Life

Making use of these Apps has helped me to organize my Twitter life in a less cluttered way. The fact that many of thee apps aim to facilitate your workflow with great design is a big plus on the usability.
How about you? Do you think some of these Apps could be useful for you too? I would love to hear your thoughts about them below

10 Apps for More Efficient Tweeting

As Twitter continues to grow at an incredible pace each day, the importance of the platform grows with it. Developing a strong social media presence and growing your network of followers demands being active on Twitter. Fortunately, there exist many tools out there that assist us in making our life easier and more efficient on Twitter.
Here are ten tools that will increase your efficiency, while allowing you to retain your genuine personality when tweeting.

1. BUFFER – NEVER FLOOD YOUR FOLLOWERS AGAIN


BUFFER
Full Disclosure: I work on Buffer.
Buffer is an App that allows you to tweet more of the great content you come across each day, without overwhelming your followers. Via one of the browser extensions (Chrome, Firefox, Safari) you can “Buffer” any article as a Tweet that you come across. Instead of being posted immediately, all these tweets will be tweeted well spaced out over the day.
Best bit: To understand more about what your followers like, you will receive analytics about clicks, retweets and reach for every Tweet Buffered.

2. STRAWBERRYJ.AM – READ TOP NEWS FROM TWITTER ONLY


STRAWBERRYJ.AM
Another very innovative new appearance is an app called Strawberryj.am. The App takes all Tweets from your stream and provides you with only the most relevant ones to read. It does that based on most mentioned links from your friends. This means all clutter not providing value for your timeline is filtered out. You can see at one glance which news are most discussed and retweet interesting ones right from there.
Best bit: The best part here is the handy daily digest update, which sends top news straight to your inbox.

3. TWENTYFEET – GOOGLE ANALYTICS FOR YOUR TWITTER ACCOUNT


TWENTYFEET
TwentyFeet is a very handy analytics App, allowing you to track all happenings related to your Twitter account. The App shows you easy to understand graphs of your mentions, retweets and follower increases over time. It automatically notifies you with any abnormal changes in these stats, so you can check on whether your Twitter efforts are actually making an impact.
Best bit: It comes in very handy that you can also connect your Facebook and Youtube accounts in order to track analytics from these social networks too.

4. KEEPSTREAM – CREATE BEAUTIFUL COLLECTIONS OF TWEETS


KEEPSTREAM
KeepStream basically does what it says. You can take Tweets from your timeline and create a specific collection with them. This allows you to archive some of your favorite tweets, or simply create a transcript form a Twitterchat or conference you have been following. Conveniently, the App creates a preview of the links in Tweets and also offers you easy ways to order the tweets for your needs.
Best bit: A great feature is that the App offers you to embed a collection as a blog post or publish it as a public page you can share and comment on.

5. PROXLET – MUTE TWITTER NOISE


PROXLET
Proxlet is a fantastic App that allows you to filter out unnecessary Tweets from your native Twitter stream. To me, this means I can get rid of paper.li, Foursquare and other services showing up in my timeline, which I don’t consider adding enough value. You can also mute individual users or hashtags, which is helpful if there is a conference or Twitterchat going on that you don’t want to be part of.
Best bit: On top of being available for Twitter.com, the App also ties in with other Twitter clients, such as TweetDeck, Twitter for iPhone and Twitdroyd.

6. COMMUN.IT – TRACK YOUR NETWORK


COMMUN.IT
This is another very innovative discovery I have started to use recently. The App shows you which people amongst your followers are the most engaged, which are supporters and which are influencers. You can then go and specifically engage more with these members or extend your network beyond your core followers.
Best bit: The impressive part is that the App also suggests you leads, based on the links in your bio, tracking Tweets from people mentioning there, which aren’t following you.

7. TRIBERR – THE REACH MULTIPLIER FOR BLOGGERS


TRIBERR
This is an App that can come in very handy if you are maintaining an active blog. You can group together with other bloggers and if anyone of you publishes a new post, all members will retweet it automatically. In order to prevent Spam, the platform is invite only, but well worth checking out. You can create multiple groups, or tribes as they are called, and also get to know others relevant to your niche.
Best bit: What I like most is the fact that the App provides you with complete stats on the amount of clicks you are getting from each of your fellow group members, so you can refine tribes easily.

8. TWEEPI – EASY UNFOLLOWING OF UNWANTED FOLLOWERS


TWEEPI
In order to get a great discussion going, it can often happen that we start following people without much consideration. If we realize later that there are now a few people that aren’t really suited for following, it can be a pain to get rid of them. With Tweepi, you can easily see which people you are following are inactive, not following you back, or simply tweeting too much. You can unfollow them with just a few clicks.
Best bit: I found it very handy to see that the App also offers you the functionality to reciprocate following people you haven’t been following.

9. TWYLAH – FANPAGES FOR YOUR TWITTER ACCOUNT


TWYLAH
This is a new App that I soon found helpful after using it for a few weeks. If you sign up, Twylah will create a customized fanpage for you, displaying your tweets according to topics you most Tweet about. For a more engaged experience, the App shows previews of links, including videos and slideshares, as well as pictures on your Twylah page. It is a fantastic place to point others towards, if they want to see what you are most tweeting about.
Best bit: There is an amazing functionality called “Power Tweet” that will enable you to post special preview links of your tweets, that are surrounded by lots of highly relevant related content.

10. TWERIOD – START TWEETING WHEN OTHERS LISTEN


TWERIOD
Tweriod is an App that analyses your Tweeting and in return gives you two simple graphs, suggesting the best time to Tweet. While it isn’t the first App providing you with optimized Tweeting times, it is the one with the most thought-out algorithm to get to results for you. The App takes into account both the impact of your past tweets and also the ones from all your followers.
Best bit: What I like best is the convenience of the service, you simple sign in with Twitter and the App then DM’s you the results once the report is finished.

ALL COMMENTS, PLEASE FORWARD TO THE AUTHOR: Leo Widrich




Friday, August 17, 2012

7 Essential Books on Music, Emotion, and the Brain

PLEASE VISIT THIS AMAZING BLOG!

COURTESY OF 
PUBLISHED IN Brain Pickings

7 Essential Books on Music, Emotion, and the Brain

by 

What Freud has to do with auditory cheesecake, European opera and world peace.
Last year, Horizon’s fascinating documentary on how music works was one of our most-liked pickings of 2010. But perhaps even more fascinating than the subject of how music works is the question of why it makes us feel the way it does. Today, we try to answer it with seven essential books that bridge music, emotion and cognition, peeling away at that tender intersection of where your brain ends and your soul begins.
MUSICOPHILIA
We love the work of neuroscientist and prolific author Oliver Sacks, whose latest book, The Mind’s Eye, was one of our favorite brain books last year. But some of his most compelling work has to do with the neuropscyhology of how music can transform our cognition, our behavior, and our very selves. InMusicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, Revised and Expanded Edition, Sacks explores the most extreme of these transformations and how simple harmonies can profoundly change lives. From clinical studies to examples from pop culture — did you know that Ray Charles believed he was “born with the music inside [him]“? — Sacks delivers a fascinating yet remarkably readable tale that tells the story, our story, of humanity as a truly “musical species.”
THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON MUSIC
Why music makes us feel the way it does is on par with questions about the nature of divinity or the origin of love. In This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, Daniel Levitin sets out to answer it — an ambitious task he tackles through a range of lenses, from a digestible explanation of key technical constructs like scale, tone and timbre to compelling cross-disciplinary reflections spanning neurobiology, philosophy, cognitive psychology, memory theory, behavioral science, Gestalt psychology and more. He illuminates diverse subjects like what accounts for the diversity of musical tastes and what makes a music expert, framing music processing as a fundamental cognitive function embedded in human nature. Most impressively, however, Levitin manages to do this while preserving the without subtracting from the intuitive, intangible magic of powerful music, dissecting its elements with the rigor of a researcher while preserving its magnetism with the tenderness of a music lover.
Never ones to pass up a good ol’ fashioned erudite throw-down, we can’t resist pointing out that the book’s final chapter, The Music Instinct, may be the juciest: It’s a direct response to Harvard psycholinguist Steven Pinker, who in a 1997 talk famously called music “auditory cheesecake” and dismissed it as evolutionarily useless, displacing demands from areas of the brain that should be handling more “important” functions like language. (Obviously, as much as we love Pinker, we think he’s dead wrong.) Levitin debunks this contention with a mighty arsenal of research across anthropology, history and cognitive science, alongside chuckle-worthy pop culture examples. (It’s safe to assume that it was musical talent, rather than any other, erm, evolutionary advantage, that helped Mick Jagger propagate his genes.)
MUSIC, LANGUAGE, AND THE BRAIN
As if to drive a stake through the heart of Levitin and Pinker’s debate,Music, Language, and the Brain by Aniruddh Patel — both a musician himself and one of the greatest living neuroscientists — dissects the unique neuropsychological relationship between two of the most unique hallmarks of our species. Rigorously researched and absorbingly narrated, the book traces the origins of humanity’s understanding of this correlation, dating as far back as the philosophical debates of Ancient Greece, and challenges the scientific community’s longstanding assumption that music and language evolved independently of one another. It’s the kind of read that will leave you at once astounded by how much you’ve learned about its subject and keenly aware of how little you — how little we, as a culture — know about it.
Patel also offers this beautiful definition of what music is:
Sound organized in time, intended for, or perceived as, aesthetic experience.
It’s worth noting that Music, Language, and the Brain makes a fine addition to our list of 5 must-read books about language.
LISTEN TO THIS
In 2008, New Yorker music critic Alex Ross published The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century — a remarkable historical and social context for contemporary music, which went on to become one of the most influential music history books ever written. Last fall, Ross released his highly anticipated sequel: Listen to This — an outstanding effort to explain and understand the world through its musical proclivities, from European opera to Chinese classical music to Bjork. Though the book, an anthology of the author’s most acclaimed essays with a deeper focus on classical music, is further removed from neuroscience than the rest on this list, Ross’s astute observations on the emotional and social experience of music make it an indispensable addition nonetheless.
MUSIC, THE BRAIN AND ECSTASY
If the human voice is the greatest instrument, as the widespread music teacher preaching goes, then the brain is the greatest composer. Every time we perform, compose or merely listen to music, the brain plays high-level Tetris with a range of devices, harmonies and patterns, creating emotional meaning out of the elements of sound and often extracting intense pleasure. In Music, The Brain, And Ecstasy: How Music Captures Our Imagination, composer Robert Jourdain examines music’s unusual emotive power through little-known facts and physiological phenomena and historical anecdotes. Perhaps most fascinatingly, he pins down the origin of pleasure in music as a consequence of a series of tonal deviations that create a conflict in the brain, resolved with a return to the tonal center, which gives us a sensation of bliss. This sequence of conflict and resolution, he explains, can come from the four key elements of music: rhythm, melody. phrase, and harmony. “Ecstasy” is the result of a resolution that comes once a conflict has reached the limit of the listener’s comprehension ability in tonal space-time.
THE TAO OF MUSIC
Traditional self-help books are the pesky cold sore swapped between the lips of legitimate literature and serious psychology. And then there are the books that actually help the self in smart, non-pedantic ways involving no worksheets or mirror nodding. That’s exactly what John Ortiz does in The Tao of Music: Sound Psychology, blending the extraordinary power of music with the principles of Taoist philosophy to deliver an unusual yet captivating proposition: You can enlist your music library in improving your performance and state of mind across everyday challenges like keeping anger at bay, breaking the spell of procrastination, learning to be fully present with romantic relationships, and mastering the art of true relaxation. Through cognitive-behavioral exercises, meditative techniques and melodic visualizations, Ortiz offers a powerful music-driven toolkit for navigating life’s obstacles, and even curates specific “musical menus” of songs and melodies that target specific emotional states and psychological dispositions.
MUSIC AND THE MIND
Nearly two decades after its original publication, Anthony Storr’s Music and the Mind remains an essential and timeless prism for looking at one of humanity’s greatest treasures. From the biological basis of cognition to a thoughtful analysis of the views held by history’s greatest philosophers to the evolution of the Western tonal system, Storr addresses some of the most fundamental questions about music, like why a minor scale always sounds sad and a major scale happy, and offers an evidence-backed yet comfortingly human grand theory for the very purpose of music: Peace, resolution and serenity of spirit.




Do not forget to stop by: Brain Pickings
Brain Pickings is the brain child of Maria Popova, an interestingness hunter-gatherer and curious mind at large, who also writes for Wired UK andThe Atlantic, among others, and is an MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow. She gets occasional help from a handful of guest contributors.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Books for starting school

COURTESY OF Lorna Bradbury


Ask Lorna: books for starting school

Lorna Bradbury picks out the best books to deal with your child's pre-school nerves

Emma Chichester Clark's 'Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo' (HarperCollins)
Emma Chichester Clark's 'Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo' (HarperCollins) 

Q My daughter is starting school next month. If I read one book to her over the coming weeks, what should it be?
Lottie, via email
A There are so many picture books aimed at children starting school, ranging from simple descriptions of the school day – books that are designed to generate a conversation between parent and child – to more sophisticated stories, often involving some of our best-loved characters.
Of the first set of books, my favourite by far is the Starting SchoolLadybird book from the Seventies, now sadly out of print. It introduces children to what they should expect – their coat peg and the class pet – using simple text accompanied by illustrations that could almost be taken for photographs.
It stands behind each of the new books: Starting School by Caryn Jenner and Arthur Robins (Franklin Watts), or Going to School by Anna Civardi, illustrated by Stephen Cartwright (Usborne) or, for slightly younger children, Going to Playschool by Sarah Garland (Frances Lincoln). My favourite of these is When an Elephant Comes to Schoolby Jan Ormerod (Frances Lincoln) which casts an elephant as the new boy, leading to some funny moments, particularly when it comes to messy play like paint and glue and bubbles.
If you’d like more of a story, though, three books stand out. I Am Too Absolutely Small for School by Lauren Child (Orchard) is one of the less well known Charlie and Lola stories. It follows the usual pattern: Lola won’t do something, and Charlie persuades her that she should. In this case, she is worried about starting school and says she won’t go, and Charlie comes up with a series of reasons why she should, including that if she doesn’t, she won’t learn to write and won’t be able to send a letter to Father Christmas.
Shirley Hughes’s Bobbo Goes to School (Bodley Head) is about a bad-tempered girl, Lily, who throws her teddy into the air; he lands on the roof of the school bus and is whisked off to school. The children eventually find him in a tree during playtime, and Lily gets a glimpse of the school day when she comes to the classroom to collect him.
But my favourite is without a doubt Emma Chichester Clark’s new book in her series about Blue Kangaroo, which has been a huge favourite of my children. Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo! (HarperCollins) is, like the Hughes story, about a girl called Lily and her special teddy. This time it’s Lily’s anxiety that is the subject – as usual, projected on to her toy. On Lily’s first day, Blue Kangaroo has a tummy ache, but he perseveres into the classroom, and Lily has such fun that she leaves him on the window sill when she goes home. In a magical twist, he spends the night doing all the things he had watched the children do – painting pictures, building towers, doing sums – and when Lily arrives the next morning she is confronted by the amazing results.
Please email your questions about children’s books to asklorna@telegraph.co.uk. You can follow @lornabradbury on Twitter
Previous Ask Lorna columns:


Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it interesting. 


 MRS.D.BOOKS:

Books to turn eight-year-olds into keen readers

COURTESY OF Lorna Bradbury


Ask Lorna: books to turn eight-year-olds into keen readers

Lorna Bradbury recommends Barnaby Grimes, the PK Pinkerton Mysteries and Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder

Lorna Bradbury for her children's column, Ask Lorna
Lorna Bradbury for her children's column, Ask Lorna Photo: Clara Molden
Q My eight-year-old grandson is a competent reader and is always reading. However, I have discovered that he never reads a book chapter by chapter and from beginning to end by himself. When supervised and reading aloud it is not a problem, but left to his own devices it is another story. I have tried everything I can think of to encourage him to read a whole book – short stories, short chapters, picture books and so on, but to no avail. Can you help?
Angela, via email
A My advice would be similar to what you suggest yourself – to leave lots of different kinds of books lying around so your grandson can pick up whatever takes his fancy. Above all, you should try and appeal to his interests. If he loves football, then give something football-related. If he likes watching Horrible Histories, then try the books – or better still straight history aimed at his age group.
The other thing I’d say is that you should pick an author who writes well; someone who crafts proper sentences. It amazes me that so many eight-year-olds are willing to plough through JK Rowling’s prose. Though she is one of the best plotters around, the Harry Potter books are some of the most laborious books to read.
Finally, as long as your grandson is reading, I wouldn’t worry about the way in which he does it. It’s fine for him to dip in and out of books. The fact that he is enthusiastic about it is all that matters, and as long as this continues, I’m sure the pull of the narrative will overtake his slightly faltering reading habits.
With all that in mind, I’m going to suggest a range of newish books for him to dip into.
Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell’s Barnaby Grimes series, billed as Dickensian horror, is pacy, dramatic and well written. Less confident readers might struggle with the descriptive passages, but the dialogue and illustrations should be enough to keep most going. You could start with the first of four, Curse of the Night Wolf (Corgi).
For something funnier, why not try Caroline Lawrence’s new spoof Western series, The PK Pinkerton Mysteries, about a 12-year-old who can’t read other people’s emotions, fending for himself in a lawless town.The Case of the Deadly Desperados (Orion) is the first of two.
The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas by David Almond (Walker, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, published next month) is a more homely though equally zany tale about a young boy who, after his home is turned into a fish-canning factory, runs off to join a circus.
And if you haven’t yet encountered Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powderseries by Jo Nesbø (Simon & Schuster, translated by Tara Chace, illustrated by Mike Lowery, three books), now might be the moment. Starring a dwarf boy, Nilly, and his friend, Lisa, who befriend an eccentric doctor whose creations include a fart powder, these books are a naughtier Scandinavian version of Roald Dahl.
Please email your questions about children’s books to asklorna@telegraph.co.uk. You can follow @lornabradbury on Twitter
Previous Ask Lorna columns:
Books for fussy eaters


I hope these inspiring books could bring you into a reading mood now. Enjoy and share with friends/family.



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