Saturday, December 6, 2014

40 Incorrectly Used Words That Can Make You Look Dumb

While I like to think I know a little about business writing, I still fall into a few word traps. (Not to mention a few cliché traps.)
Take the words "who" and "whom." I rarely use "whom" when I should -- even when spell check suggests "whom" I think it sounds pretentious. So I use "who."
And then I sound dumb.
Just like one misspelled word can get your resume tossed onto the "nope" pile, one incorrectly used word can negatively impact your entire message. Fairly or unfairly, it happens -- so let's make sure it doesn't happen to you.
Adverse and averse
Adverse means harmful or unfavorable: "Adverse market conditions caused the IPO to be poorly subscribed." Averse refers to feelings of dislike or opposition: "I was averse to paying $18 a share for a company that generates no revenue."
But hey, feel free to have an aversion to adverse conditions.
Affect and effect
Verbs first. Affect means to influence: "Impatient investors affected our roll-out date." Effectmeans to accomplish something: "The board effected a sweeping policy change."
How you use effect or affect can be tricky. For example, a board can affect changes by influencing them and can effect changes by directly implementing them. Bottom line, useeffect if you're making it happen, and affect if you're having an impact on something that someone else is trying to make happen.
As for nouns, effect is almost always correct: "Once he was fired he was given 20 minutes to gather his personal effects." Affect refers to an emotional state, so unless you're a psychologist you probably have little reason to use it.
Bring and take
Both have to do with objects you move or carry. The difference is in the point of reference: you bring things here and you take them there. You ask people to bring something to you, and you ask people to take something to someone or somewhere else.
“Can you bring an appetizer to John's party”? Nope.
Compliment and complement
Compliment means to say something nice. Complement means to add to, enhance, improve, complete, or bring close to perfection.
I can compliment your staff and their service, but if you have no current openings you have a full complement of staff. Or your new app may complement your website.
For which I may decide to compliment you.
Criteria and criterion
"We made the decision based on one overriding criteria," sounds fairly impressive but is also wrong.
Remember: one criterion, two or more criteria. Or just use "reason" or "factors" and you won’t have to worry about getting it wrong.
Discreet and discrete
Discreet means careful, cautious, showing good judgment: "We made discreet inquiries to determine whether the founder was interested in selling her company."
Discrete means individual, separate, or distinct: "We analyzed data from a number of discrete market segments to determine overall pricing levels." And if you get confused, remember you don't use “discretion” to work through sensitive issues; you exercise discretion.
Elicit and illicit
Elicit means to draw out or coax. Think of elicit as the mildest form of extract. If one lucky survey respondent will win a trip to the Bahamas, the prize is designed to elicit responses.
Illicit means illegal or unlawful, and while I suppose you could elicit a response at gunpoint ... you probably shouldn't.
Farther and further
Farther involves a physical distance: "Florida is farther from New York than Tennessee."Further involves a figurative distance: "We can take our business plan no further."
So, as we say in the South (and that "we" has included me), "I don't trust you any farther than I can throw you," or, "I ain't gonna trust you no further."
Fewer and less
Use fewer when referring to items you can count, like “fewer hours” or “fewer dollars.”
Use “less” when referring to items you can’t (or haven’t tried to) count, like “less time” or “less money.”
Imply and infer
The speaker or writer implies, which means to suggest. The listener or reader infers, which means to deduce, whether correctly or not.
So I might imply you're going to receive a raise. And you might infer that a pay increase is imminent. (But not eminent, unless the raise will somehow be prominent and distinguished.)
Insure and ensure
This one's easy. Insure refers to insurance. Ensure means to make sure.
So if you promise an order will ship on time, ensure that it actually happens. Unless, of course, you plan to arrange for compensation if the package is damaged or lost -- then feel free to insure away.
(While there are exceptions where insure is used, the safe move is to use ensure when you will do everything possible to make sure something happens.)
Irregardless and regardless
Irregardless appears in some dictionaries because it's widely used to mean “without regard to” or “without respect to”... which is also what regardless means.
In theory the ir-, which typically means "not," joined up with regardless, which means "without regard to," makes irregardless mean "not without regard to," or more simply, "with regard to."
Which probably makes it a word that does not mean what you think it means.
So save yourself a syllable and just say regardless.
Number and amount
I goof these up all the time. Use number when you can count what you refer to: "Thenumber of subscribers who opted out increased last month." Amount refers to a quantity of something that can't be counted: "The amount of alcohol consumed at our last company picnic was staggering."
Of course it can still be confusing: "I can't believe the number of beers I drank," is correct, but so is, "I can't believe the amount of beer I drank." The difference is you can count beers, but beer, especially if you were way too drunk to keep track, is an uncountable total and makes amount the correct usage.
Precede and proceed
Precede means to come before. Proceed means to begin or continue. Where it gets confusing is when an -ing comes into play. "The proceeding announcement was brought to you by..." sounds fine, but preceding is correct since the announcement came before.
If it helps, think precedence: anything that takes precedence is more important and therefore comes first.
Principal and principle
principle is a fundamental: "Our culture is based on a set of shared principles." Principalmeans primary or of first importance: "Our startup's principal is located in NYC." (Sometimes you'll also see the plural, principals, used to refer to executives or relatively co-equals at the top of a particular food chain.)
Principal can also refer to the most important item in a particular set: "Our principal account makes up 60% of our gross revenues."
Principal can also refer to money, normally a sum that was borrowed, but can be extended to refer to the amount you owe -- hence principal and interest.
If you're referring to laws, rules, guidelines, ethics, etc., use principle. If you're referring to the CEO or the president (or an individual in charge of a high school), use principal.
Slander and libel
Don't like what people say about you? Like slanderlibel refers to making a false statement that is harmful to a person's reputation.
The difference lies in how that statement is expressed. Slanderous remarks are spoken while libelous remarks are written and published (which means defamatory tweets could be considered libelous, not slanderous).
Keep in mind what makes a statement libelous or slanderous is its inaccuracy, not its harshness. No matter how nasty a tweet, as long as it's factually correct it cannot be libelous. Truth is an absolute defense to defamation; you might wish a customer hadn't said something derogatory about your business... but if what that customer said is true then you have no legal recourse.
And now for those dreaded apostrophes:
It's and its
It's is the contraction of it is. That means it's doesn't own anything. If your dog is neutered (the way we make a dog, however much against his or her will, gender neutral), you don't say, "It's collar is blue." You say, "Its collar is blue."
Here's an easy test to apply. Whenever you use an apostrophe, un-contract the word to see how it sounds. Turn it's into it is: "It's sunny," becomes, "It is sunny."
Sounds good to me.
They're and their
Same with these: They're is the contraction for they are. Again, the apostrophe doesn't own anything. We're going to their house, and I sure hope they're home.
Who's and whose
"Whose password hasn't been changed in six months?" is correct. Use the non-contracted version of who’s, like, "Who is (the non-contracted version of who's) password hasn't been changed in six months?" and you sound a little silly.
You're and your
One more. You're is the contraction of you areYour means you own it; the apostrophe inyou're doesn't own anything.
For a long time a local nonprofit displayed a huge sign that said, "You're Community Place."
Hmm. "You Are Community Place"? No, probably not.
Now it's your turn: any words you'd like to add to the list?


https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20141203134446-20017018-40-incorrectly-used-words-that-can-make-you-look-dumb

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Finland's Android Modular Puzzlephone Could Beat Google's Ara to the Market

Puzzlephone launched in Sept. 2014, but hopes to have its first devices out by mid-2015

Google Inc. (GOOG) has intrigued many with its Ara modular smartphone concept.  Based on the Phonebloks project by designer Dave Hakkens, an official development path for Ara was confirmed earlier this year.  In July Google announced it would ship Ara prototype hardware to 100 lucky public testers; the first of those units had already arrived by October.  Still, as intriguing as this modular smartphone concept is, Ara -- a device with dozens of swappable pieces -- remains a ways far from market.

A startup from Espoo, Finland could actually beat Google to market with a slightly simpler concept.  The company is gaining attention, in part, because Espoo is the town where Nokia Oyj. (HEL:NOK1V) was founded.   Unsurprisingly Puzzlephone's staff has more than a few former Nokia engineers who left the once dominant phonemaker during its Windows Phone decline.

Unlike Ara which has multiple finer-grained swappable parts like cameras, batteries, processors, memory, etc. packaged into blocks, the Finnish phonemaker Puzzlephone divides its device into three fundamental components:

  • Spine
    • Body frame
    • LCD display
    • Speakers
  • Heart
    • Battery
    • Antenna
    • External modems and wireless chipsets
  • Brain
    • System-on-a-chip (SoC) processor
    • Memory
    • Camera module
Founded in January of last year, the company has made rapid advances, thanks in part to the simplicity of its concept.  It's reportedly already testing a prototype of its refined second-generation modular design, unveiled in September in Berlin.
Puzzlephone front view

Puzzlephone

Its device will initially use a forked version of Google's Android OS, but in the long run Puzzlephone expressed openness to the idea of using other forms of mobile Linux, such as Tizen, Ubuntu Mobile, and Firefox OS).  Puzzlephone hopes to have its first devices ready by mid-2015, perhaps in several form factors.

Puzzlephone
Puzzlephone

Modular phones offer one clear advantage that harkens back to the early days of desktop computing -- upgradability.  However, they trade thinness and weight to achieve that paradigm.  The key question is whether customers will feel it's worth it to get a phone they can freshen, but whose form factor is less impressive than sleek purpose-built designs.



If modular phones prove to be more than just a novelty, than Puzzlephone looks well positioned to dominate this market as among its earliest entrants.

Sources: Puzzlephone [homepage], [YouTube]

- See more at: http://www.dailytech.com/Finlands+Android+Modular+Puzzlephone+Could+Beat+Googles+Ara+to+the+Market/article36938.htm#sthash.ay0UpXAE.dpuf

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm 1:1.8

Finally bought this gem and at a great price too. For the November Olympus promotions, there is a $300 cash back if you purchase both the 25mm and 45mm. I got a friend to snap up the 25mm to share the cash back deal. It was $591 for both, and I paid $280 for mine. This lens is a keeper. Take a look at the specs below.

Principal specifications
Lens typePrime lens
Max Format sizeFourThirds
Focal length45 mm
Image stabilisationNo
Lens mountMicro Four Thirds
Aperture
Maximum apertureF1.8
Minimum apertureF22.0
Aperture ringNo
Number of diaphragm blades7
Aperture notesCircular aperture diaphragm
Optics
Elements9
Groups8
Special elements / coatings2 E-HR glass elements
Focus
Minimum focus0.50 m (19.69)
Maximum magnification0.11×
AutofocusYes
Motor typeMicromotor
Full time manualYes
Focus methodInternal
Distance scaleNo
DoF scaleNo
Physical
Weight116 g (0.26 lb)
Diameter56 mm (2.2)
Length46 mm (1.81)
MaterialsPlastic barrel, metal mount
SealingNo
ColourSilver, Black
Filter thread37 mm
Hood suppliedNo
Hood product codeLH-40B
Tripod collarNo
Optional accessoriesLens Hood LH-40B

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How Successful People Handle Toxic People























Toxic people defy logic. Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact that they have on those around them, and others seem to derive satisfaction from creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. Either way, they create unnecessary complexity, strife, and worst of all stress.
Studies have long shown that stress can have a lasting, negative impact on the brain. Exposure to even a few days of stress compromises the effectiveness of neurons in the hippocampus—an important brain area responsible for reasoning and memory. Weeks of stress cause reversible damage to neuronal dendrites (the small “arms” that brain cells use to communicate with each other), and months of stress can permanently destroy neurons. Stress is a formidable threat to your success—when stress gets out of control, your brain and your performance suffer.
Most sources of stress at work are easy to identify. If your non-profit is working to land a grant that your organization needs to function, you’re bound to feel stress and likely know how to manage it. It's the unexpected sources of stress that take you by surprise and harm you the most.
Recent research from the Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology at Friedrich Schiller University in Germany found that exposure to stimuli that cause strong negative emotions—the same kind of exposure you get when dealing with toxic people—caused subjects’ brains to have a massive stress response. Whether it's negativity, cruelty, the victim syndrome, or just plain craziness, toxic people drive your brain into a stressed-out state that should be avoided at all costs.
The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control. One of their greatest gifts is the ability to neutralize toxic people. Top performers have well-honed coping strategies that they employ to keep toxic people at bay.
While I’ve run across numerous effective strategies that successful people employ when dealing with toxic people, what follows are twelve of the best. To deal with toxic people effectively, you need an approach that enables you, across the board, to control what you can and eliminate what you can’t. The important thing to remember is that you are in control of far more than you realize.
They Set Limits (Especially with Complainers)
Complainers and negative people are bad news because they wallow in their problems and fail to focus on solutions. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. People often feel pressure to listen to complainers because they don’t want to be seen as callous or rude, but there’s a fine line between lending a sympathetic ear and getting sucked into their negative emotional spiral.
You can avoid this only by setting limits and distancing yourself when necessary. Think of it this way: if the complainer were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with complainers. A great way to set limits is to ask complainers how they intend to fix the problem. They will either quiet down or redirect the conversation in a productive direction.
They Don’t Die in the Fight
Successful people know how important it is to live to fight another day, especially when your foe is a toxic individual. In conflict, unchecked emotion makes you dig your heels in and fight the kind of battle that can leave you severely damaged. When you read and respond to your emotions, you’re able to choose your battles wisely and only stand your ground when the time is right.
They Rise Above
Toxic people drive you crazy because their behavior is so irrational. Make no mistake about it; their behavior truly goes against reason. Which begs the question, why do you allow yourself to respond to them emotionally and get sucked into the mix?
The more irrational and off-base someone is, the easier it should be for you to remove yourself from their traps. Quit trying to beat them at their own game. Distance yourself from them emotionally and approach your interactions like they’re a science project (or you’re their shrink, if you prefer the analogy). You don’t need to respond to the emotional chaos—only the facts.
They Stay Aware of Their Emotions
Maintaining an emotional distance requires awareness. You can’t stop someone from pushing your buttons if you don’t recognize when it’s happening. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in situations where you’ll need to regroup and choose the best way forward. This is fine and you shouldn’t be afraid to buy yourself some time to do so.
Think of it this way—if a mentally unstable person approaches you on the street and tells you he’s John F. Kennedy, you’re unlikely to set him straight. When you find yourself with a coworker who is engaged in similarly derailed thinking, sometimes it’s best to just smile and nod. If you’re going to have to straighten them out, it’s better to give yourself some time to plan the best way to go about it.
They Establish Boundaries
This is the area where most people tend to sell themselves short. They feel like because they work or live with someone, they have no way to control the chaos. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Once you’ve found your way to Rise Above a person, you’ll begin to find their behavior more predictable and easier to understand. This will equip you to think rationally about when and where you have to put up with them and when you don’t. For example, even if you work with someone closely on a project team, that doesn’t mean that you need to have the same level of one-on-one interaction with them that you have with other team members.
You can establish a boundary, but you’ll have to do so consciously and proactively. If you let things happen naturally, you are bound to find yourself constantly embroiled in difficult conversations. If you set boundaries and decide when and where you’ll engage a difficult person, you can control much of the chaos. The only trick is to stick to your guns and keep boundaries in place when the person tries to encroach upon them, which they will.
They Won’t Let Anyone Limit Their Joy
When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from the opinions of other people, you are no longer the master of your own happiness. When emotionally intelligent people feel good about something that they’ve done, they won’t let anyone’s opinions or snide remarks take that away from them.
While it’s impossible to turn off your reactions to what others think of you, you don’t have to compare yourself to others, and you can always take people’s opinions with a grain of salt. That way, no matter what toxic people are thinking or doing, your self-worth comes from within. Regardless of what people think of you at any particular moment, one thing is certain—you’re never as good or bad as they say you are.
They Don't Focus on Problems—Only Solutions
Where you focus your attention determines your emotional state. When you fixate on the problems you’re facing, you create and prolong negative emotions and stress. When you focus on actions to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and reduces stress.
When it comes to toxic people, fixating on how crazy and difficult they are gives them power over you. Quit thinking about how troubling your difficult person is, and focus instead on how you're going to go about handling them. This makes you more effective by putting you in control, and it will reduce the amount of stress you experience when interacting with them.
They Don’t Forget
Emotionally intelligent people are quick to forgive, but that doesn’t mean that they forget. Forgiveness requires letting go of what’s happened so that you can move on. It doesn’t mean you’ll give a wrongdoer another chance. Successful people are unwilling to be bogged down unnecessarily by others’ mistakes, so they let them go quickly and are assertive in protecting themselves from future harm.
They Squash Negative Self-Talk
Sometimes you absorb the negativity of other people. There’s nothing wrong with feeling bad about how someone is treating you, but your self-talk (the thoughts you have about your feelings) can either intensify the negativity or help you move past it. Negative self-talk is unrealistic, unnecessary, and self-defeating. It sends you into a downward emotional spiral that is difficult to pull out of. You should avoid negative self-talk at all costs.
They Limit Their Caffeine Intake
Drinking caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline. Adrenaline is the source of the “fight-or-flight” response, a survival mechanism that forces you to stand up and fight or run for the hills when faced with a threat. The fight-or-flight mechanism sidesteps rational thinking in favor of a faster response. This is great when a bear is chasing you, but not so great when you’re surprised in the hallway by an angry coworker.
They Get Some Sleep
I’ve beaten this one to death over the years and can’t say enough about the importance of sleep to increasing your emotional intelligence and managing your stress levels. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, shuffling through the day’s memories and storing or discarding them (which causes dreams), so that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your self-control, attention, and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough—or the right kind—of sleep. Sleep deprivation raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present.
A good night’s sleep makes you more positive, creative, and proactive in your approach to toxic people, giving you the perspective you need to deal effectively with them.
They Use Their Support System
It’s tempting, yet entirely ineffective, to attempt tackling everything by yourself. To deal with toxic people, you need to recognize the weaknesses in your approach to them. This means tapping into your support system to gain perspective on a challenging person. Everyone has someone at work and/or outside work who is on their team, rooting for them, and ready to help them get the best from a difficult situation. Identify these individuals in your life and make an effort to seek their insight and assistance when you need it. Something as simple as explaining the situation can lead to a new perspective. Most of the time, other people can see a solution that you can’t because they are not as emotionally invested in the situation. 
Bringing It All Together
Before you get this system to work brilliantly, you’re going to have to pass some tests. Most of the time, you will find yourself tested by touchy interactions with problem people.Thankfully, the plasticity of the brain allows it to mold and change as you practice new behaviors, even when you fail. Implementing these healthy, stress-relieving techniques for dealing with difficult people will train your brain to handle stress more effectively and decrease the likelihood of ill effects.
I always love to hear new strategies for dealing with toxic people, so please feel free to share yours in the comments section below!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Travis Bradberry, Ph.D.
Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning co-author of the #1 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the cofounder of TalentSmart, the world's leading provider ofemotional intelligence testsemotional intelligence training, and emotional intelligence certification, serving more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies. His bestselling books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries. Dr. Bradberry has written for, or been covered by, Newsweek, BusinessWeek, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Harvard Business Review.