Did you know that the Internet has approximately 3.3 billion indexed pages at the moment–and counting? That translates to a mind-boggling 33 billion links to web content, assuming each page has 10 entries. Let that sink in.
If you’re a reader, that’s way more information than you can consume in a lifetime. If you’re an online content creator, that’s at least a million times larger than the competition you probably had in mind when you first turned to the Internet to make a living — granted, that figure includes every piece of content on every single niche on Earth, but still…
That’s why, as a content creator, it’s no longer enough to be "unique" on the Internet. If that’s the case, then adding a single bullet point to someone else’s blog post, or adding one more tidbit to someone else’s infographic, is all it takes to stand out on the web (because hey, repurposed content is still technically "unique").
No, you must be inimitable. You must:
1. Create Ultimate Guides
Creating an ultimate guide is an almost(!) foolproof way of keeping readers hooked to your content. That’s because the word "ultimate" indicates that your guide is a one-stop article on everything your target readers need to know about your topic.
That said, you must keep a few caveats in mind when you create this type of content. First, make sure your "ultimate guide" lives up to its promise. That means you can’t afford to leave out even a single crucial detail about your topic, lest you end up short-changing your readers.
Second, it won’t hurt to write more creative headlines once in a while. Third, ultimate guides are great for the most part, but as with anything else, too much of a good thing can be bad.
2. Support Your Points With Expert Opinions
To spice up your ultimate guide, or any other type of content for that matter, add a liberal dash of expertise– whether it’s yours, or someone else’s.
If it’s someone else, find a person who’s truly knowledgeable about the topic you have in mind — rather than someone who only has a casual, passing interest — and interview him/her. You can fish out experts-slash-potential-interviewees through friends, family, acquaintances, and even your social media contacts. It’s better if you try to build a good relationship with your interviewee first, but if you’re pressed for time, you can set up the interview as detailed here.
If you are your own expert, on the other hand, you obviously have it much easier. All you have to do is discuss your topic of interest in a clear, informative, and engaging manner for readers who don’t know any better, and you’re good to go.
3. Write Detailed, First-Hand Research
Aside from expert opinions, you can use scientific research to buff up your content. You don’t need a science degree, or even a private laboratory to conduct scientific investigations. If you’re inquisitive, analytical, resourceful, and persistent enough, you can do it just as well as the people who make a living off it. How else do you think early scientists went about their work without modern tools?
In fact, you may be conducting scientific research right now, without even realizing it! If you like generalizing based on personal observation, or you tend to ask "Why?" questions about everything, you can dig deeper than anyone else into your topic of interest, share the details with the rest of the world, and satisfy your (and everyone else’s) curiosity.
For example, let’s say you want to know how much freelancers earn in general. You can uncover this by asking your freelancer friends to answer a survey or posting questions in forums where freelancers usually hang out. Their answers may not necessarily reflect the views of freelancers all over the world, but it’s a good place to start if you want to make solid points in your blog post / infographic / video / podcast about freelancer earnings.
4. Tell Stories
If there’s one form of content that can hold people’s attention better than any other, it’s a story.
Since ancient times, people have used stories to make sense of the world, to pass down knowledge through the generations, and to entertain. Stories are memorable because, while they all follow the same basic pattern (i.e. beginning > conflict > climax > denouement > end), each of them is unique in their own way. That’s why there aren’t really any "good" or "bad" stories; only stories that you can relate to, and stories that you can’t relate to.
Therefore, if you want to present your content as a story, make it unique and relatable at the same time. You can read this article for more details on how to become a better storyteller.
Why Bother with All This?
As you can see, all of these require much more effort than a quick Google search. It would probably be better for your content production levels to not do any of these at all. But if you truly care about your readers, and about transforming the Internet into something more than a cesspool for recycled content, shortcuts aren’t an option.
Space is big. Really big. And until recently, space exploration was a domain that only involved world governments, as they are the ones that had the capabilities and resources to undertake such a task. Even then, only a select few can go launch to space, again, due to the time and money it takes to train them.
Today, however, we are seeing several non-governmental agencies and companies that aim to bring space travel down to the civilian level, using the advantages that private industry has to offer, such as less bureaucracy and a profit motive. In this post, we will show you 8 non-governmental spaceflight companies that aim to do just that and get you into space and among the stars.
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1. Scaled Composites
Founded by Burt Rutan, an aerospace engineer with a reputation for designing strong, lightweight aircraft with unusual designs, Scaled Composites aim is to create experimental and concept aircrafts and provide fabrication for other vehicles. Its claim to fame is winning the Ansari X Prize, which offers ,000,00 for the the first non-governmental organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space, with their spaceplane, SpaceShipOne.
The spacecraft was funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and he would later partner with Rutan to start a new spaceflight company. Scaled Composites was acquired in 2007 by Northrop Grumman, an aerospace and defence company, with Rutan leaving in 2011. It is now working with several others to develop new spacecrafts to progress civilian spaceflight.
2. Virgin Galactic
What pie doesn’t the Virgin Group have their fingers in? Starting of with music and then wildly going to nearly every type of venture imaginable, it’s no surprise that Sir Richard Branson would finally set his sights towards the stars. Virgin Galactic is a spaceflight company with aims to provide spaceflights for tourist, science missions and launching small satellites.
They are currently in their testing phase, with their current space plane called SpaceShipTwo, built in conjunction with Scaled Composites. The space planes are launched from a very large plane, as this will give it a higher initial speed and altitude when compared to launching from the ground. George Whiteside, Virgin Galactic CEO, hopes to have commercial services up and running by 2014.
Founded by Tesla Motors CEO and serial entrepreneur Elon Musk, the goal of SpaceX is to reduce space transportation cost, which will help with their their main objective to help humanity colonize Mars. The idea came about with Musk’s idea to build a cheap, reusable spacecraft, similar to the aeroplane.
SpaceX has already accomplished a lot, such as being the first privately funded company to launch and recover a spacecraft and the first company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station. The company today has contracts with several governmental and private entities, NASA being one of them. Ultimately, the end goal of Musk, and by extension, SpaceX, is to colonize Mars, with him quoted as saying that he "would like to die on Mars, just not on impact".
4. Blue Origin
Blue Origin is the brainchild of Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com. Similar to SpaceX, its aim is to develop technologies that will enable people to get into space cheaply and reliably. The idea for Blue Origin stems from Bezos dream to colonize space and preserve Earth, a dream he’s had ever since he was a teen.
The company relies on the idea of incremental improvement and builds on prior advances. It’s even the company motto, Gradatim Ferociter, Latin for "Step-by-step, Ferociously". The company is known to be tight lipped, but they have performed test flights with two vehicles, Charon and Goddard. They are currently working on the New Shephard, a reusable vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing manned rocket.
5. Stratolaunch Systems
Founded by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen and Scaled Composites founder Burt Rutan, Stratolaunch Systems is a aerospace company that specializes in air launch to orbit, which basically means launching stuff to space from an aircraft.
They have not yet made a test flight as they are currently developing their air launch system, the Stratolaunch carrier aircraft. Once completed, it is projected to have a wingspan of 385ft (117m), which would make it the largest airplane to fly, by wingspan. As a comparison, the current holder of the title is the Hughes H-4 Hercules, a.k.a. the Spruce Goose, with a wingspan of 320ft (97.5m).
6. Space Adventures
Cofounded by Eric Anderson and several other entrepreneurs, Space Adventures provides space-based tourism to civilians, offering activities such as orbital spaceflights, atmospheric space flights, cosmonaut training and other related activities.
So far, only 7 clients have participated in the orbital spaceflight, famous among them including, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth, Richard ‘Lord British’ Garriott and Cirque de Soleil cofounder Guy Laliberté. The company hopes to soon offer a lunar spaceflight, which will involve circumnavigating the moon.
7. Planetary Resources
Cofounded by Eric Anderson and fellow Space Adventure cofounder Peter Diamandis, the long term goal of Planetary Resources is to "expand Earth’s natural resource base" by developing technologies that will enable asteroid mining.
The company already has a list of big and well know investors including Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, filmmaker James Cameron and Perot Systems chairman Ross Perot Jr. Currently, the company is developing low cost space telescopes which will be a first step as it can be used to survey near-Earth asteroids.
8. Bigelow Aerospace
Bigelow Aerospace was founded by Robert Bigelow, a real estate entrepreneur and owner of Budget Suites of America hotel chain. He actually created his real estate empire specifically to fund his aerospace ambitions, as at the age of 12, he viewed the mushroom clouds from the atomic tests near his home town. He then vowed to create a future for man in space and will choose a career that will help him fund such an endeavour.
Currently, the company is developing inflatable space habitats, already launching and testing two modules, Genesis I and II, as well as a private orbital space complex, the Bigelow Commercial Space Station.
Windows 8.1 might have enhanced its built-in security features compared to its predecessors, but you might still need third-party apps that are optimized to help you secure your sensitive data to get the job done right. To that end, we will be listing 10 Windows 8.1 security apps that are primed to keep your images, messages, email and data in general, safe from prying eyes.
There are apps that help you encrypt data for transfer, password generators, hash generators, deletion software (that really wipe out your deleted data, making them exit no more) and more options to help you secure your data online.
NOTE: Download links provided in this article opens the app’s page on the online Windows Store. If you’re using Windows 8.1, then it also opens the app’s page in the Windows Store application on your system.
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DirectPass is a password manager from the security company, Trend Micro. It’s not just a password manager though, there are many more tools in the same package – password generator, password rating tool, form filler, secure browser, secure notes tool, anti-keylogger and cloud sync tool. It’s even available for other popular platforms: Mac OS X, iOS and Android.
Aside from storing and managing passwords, the password rating tool informs you about unsafe passwords. The secure browser offers a security-enhanced browser for sensitive financial websites to keep you safe from phishing and other attempts to intercept your financial transaction.
Cloud sync tool backs up and synchronizes all your passwords, notes and form-filling information to the cloud and makes them available on your other devices.
Most cloud storage providers have opted to not provide file or disk encryption options for your sensitive files. Boxcryptor is a silent, behind-the-wall file encryptor you can use to overcome that disadvantage for your cloud storage. Boxcryptor provides fast and easy encryption, and its unlimited version is available for all major cloud storage providers, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive, SugarSync, Box.net and many others.
Its free version only supports Dropbox but there’s also a “Boxcryptor Classic” which supports Dropbox and Skydrive. Moreover, it’s also available for other platforms: Mac OS X, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, etc.
Keeper is an innovative password manager software, with a multi-layered security approach and that’s why, you can simply trust this software for protecting your logins and passwords. It can handle all of the login forms because of its user-interactive password capture mechanism. Your login data gets organized in folders and can also store an attached note.
Auto-Logout feature automatically logs you out after a specified time so that no person can access your sensitive information while you’re not around. Self-Destruct feature automatically destructs (deletes) the offline password database after 5 failed login attempts. Keeper offers a free service for one offline device. Its premium version offers more features such as cloud backup and sync, data sharing option, web access and many others.
4. Private Hub
Private Hub is your private secrets keeper, where you can store all sorts of super-sensitive data. It is an encryption program which encrypts your personal data and protects them from prying eyes. It keeps your data secure and safe from unauthorized access.
It has a simple interface and its opening screen displays the list of things which can help you lock up: photos, videos, passwords, accounts, notes and files on your system. It is opened using a master password. Without it, nobody – not even you – can access the locked data. Even if someone get his hands on the encrypted data, he won’t be able to view or open the data without the correct password.
5. My Personal Crypto Pad
My Personal Crypto Pad implements the OpenPGP data encryption standard into a metro-styled application. It’s developed to solve the two basic problems of computer security: data integrity and data security. Data integrity means verifying that the data is actually sent by the sender and the received data is the original data; data security means providing only authorized access to the data.
My Personal Crypto Pad enables people to check data integrity using digital signatures and secure their data using encryption. You need to create keys and then use those keys to sign or encrypt data and files. It can be tricky at first but the app can improve your online security once you get the hang of it.
6. Secret Tidings
Secret Tidings is a data security tool which implements steganography to protect your data. Steganography – which means the art of hiding – is a mechanism to secure data by hiding it inside pictures. The idea behind this mechanism is simple – hide the sensitive data inside not-so-sensitive data and thus prevent it being seen. Secret Tidings can be used to create unassuming pictures which you can lock (and unlock) messages and images in, using a password.
The generated picture can then be easily shared or sent via email to a recipient and the recipient can view or unlock the sensitive information inside it using the correct password. This creates two levels of security – one, obscuring the fact that there is a sensitive data being hidden, and two, password-locking the access to it.
HashMe lets you create hashes using more than a dozen hash functions. It’s very hard to check the integrity of a file that is transferred over the Internet. Integrity here refers to whether the received file is exactly the same as the sent file or if it had been altered halfway through the transfer by a cracker. The best method to check for integrity is by use of hashes.
HashMe supports creating hashes for text as well as files. Some of the popular hash functions supported are MD5, SHA1, SHA256, RIPEMD, Whirlpool and Tiger. HashMe can be used to check integrity of files sent over email or shared through online storages. It can also be used to check the integrity of downloaded files where the file’s hash is given.
TXTcrypt, as its name implies, is a text encryptor. It serves a simple function: to work as an encryption tool which lets you send secret messages to a recipient. It has a pretty simple and straight-forward interface and you can use it to send secure messages via SMS, email or instant messaging services.
TXTcrypt can be used to encrypt textual data and messages with a password. Then the encrypted message can be sent to anyone and nobody else can see the real message even when using any known snooping method. The person with the password will be the only one capable of deciphering the encrypted message and viewing the original, plain message.
Shredder8 is a secure-delete software, packaged as a metro-styled application. It solves the problem of deleting old yet sensitive data. Any digital data, if simply (or insecurely) deleted, can be restored from the disk using a data restoration/retrieval software.
Shredder8 can be used to shred sensitive files or create free space on your storage disk with a thorough data wipe. It supports many secure-delete algorithms such as U.S. DoD, Russian GOST, British HMG IS5 and German BSI VSITR.
10. Advanced Password Generator
Advanced Password Generator solves the problem of creating strong passwords. No matter how strong the security measures your system has, if it has a weak password, it is an easy entry for people who intend to breach the system and your data enclosure.
However, creating strong, random passwords that you can remember for a long period of time is also hard and time-consuming. Use Advanced Password Generator to generate strong passwords for you. It’s a quick and easy-to-use program. Otherwise you can opt for these other password generators and managers.
Have we missed any of your favorite security app for Windows 8.1? Let us know at the comments section.
You have probably heard of Linux as the free alternative to Windows and OS X. It’s one of the most popular free PC operating systems out there and chances are, you are already using it without realizing. Did you know that your Android phone is powered by Linux? It is an incredibly versatile piece of code that can fit the needs of almost any user.
If you are looking for something different to try on the desktop besides Mac and Windows, you should really give Linux a try. Not only is it free, it is extremely customizable. Similar to Android on the smartphone, you can customize Linux to your heart’s content. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. In order to get into Linux, there are probably a few things you should know first before diving in. In this guide, we will cover what you should know about a Linux operating system on the desktop.
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1. What Is Linux?
When someone mentions Linux, it’s always in conjunction with another name, e.g. Fedora Linux, Ubuntu Linux, Android powered by Linux; the list goes on and on. What exactly is Linux anyway? ‘Linux’ refers to the Linux kernel, which is a program that interfaces between the application software and the hardware of a computer. What they all have in common is that they all use the same kernel as the interface between software and hardware. In cases where the computer is referred to as ‘running Linux’, it is running an OS with Linux as the kernel.
Some of you may encounter some people insisting that it be called GNU/Linux. This refers to the fact that most of the operating systems that uses Linux gets a large portion of their code from the GNU Project, without which, the Linux kernel itself cannot function. Calling it GNU/Linux is a way to give credit where credit is due. For the sake of simplicity, we will refer all operating systems using the Linux kernel as Linux.
2. Why Is It Free?
Most people know Linux as the free operating system, free here meaning free of charge. That’s right, free of charge, but it also refers to free speech. What this means is that the source code for Linux is available for everyone to view, study and modify, along with sharing their changes with anyone who would like a copy.
Compare this to Windows and OS X which, while still popular, are closed source, cannot be studied and cannot be distributed freely. This open nature is one of the main reasons that Linux derived operating systems have been successful, with many people and companies creating their own derivative versions of Linux.
3. What Is A Distro?
A ‘distro’ refers to a distribution of the Linux Operating System, where a person, group or company builds upon Linux and releases it under their name. Examples of popular Linux distros include Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSUSE, among others. While all of them use the Linux kernel, they are all different with what software they include. From the the default software to even the user interface and experience, no two distros are alike.
Each distro brings something different to the table, offering up specific features for specific user sets. However, for a beginner, it is best to start simple, with a distro that offers a simple user experience for people that are new to Linux. The most recommended Linux distro for beginners would be Ubuntu Linux, as it is relatively easy to set up and use and has a lot of support.
4. Will My Hardware Support It?
It used to be that hardware support for Linux was spotty at best, with many components and peripherals not working properly or not working at all. Fortunately, most of that is in the past with the majority of Linux distros being able to run on modern hardware with little to no problem. So chances are your hardware will be able to run it.
I say ‘little to no problem’ because there may be times when you might run into an issue or two. While the Linux community have done an amazing job in making sure that the OS will be able to use your hardware, it may still not run. You will have to shoot down for a troubleshooting guide or hope that the manufacturer has provided a proprietary Linux driver for the hardware.
5. Can I Try Before I Install It?
The great thing about most Linux distros is that you are able to try them before installing what you like on your computer. Linux providers provide you with an easy way to try out the OS by way of a Live CD. Download an ISO, burn it, and from there you can boot from the disc so that you can try out a distro before committing to it.
If you decided not to install Linux but the idea of carrying a spare OS around with you sounds useful (and really there are many cases where you might want one), you can create a Live USB. Just like a Live CD, a Live USB is a bootable USB drive that can boot Linux on most computers. This way you can have the Linux experience without installing over your computer’s OS.
6. What Is A Desktop Environment?
As you may have noticed when looking over all the various distros, not all Linux Operating Systems have the same look. This is because they are using different desktops environments such as GNOME, KDE, Unity, etc. This is similar to Aero for Windows 7 or Aqua for OS X; they govern the overall ‘look and feel’ of the operating system and the way you use them, having different features and ways of getting things done.
The most popular of the desktop environments and the one’s that most distros ship with are GNOME and KDE. As with everything about Linux, if you don’t like something, you have the freedom to change it. If your chosen distro comes pre-installed with an environment that doesn’t suit your taste, you can install your own preferred one instead.
7. Can I Run My Old Windows/Mac Apps?
There is currently no way of running any of your Mac apps on Linux but there is a way to run some of your Windows apps. This is done through the use of a program called Wine, which will allow you to run some of your Windows programs on Linux at native or near-native speed. Not all of your apps will run though, and even when they do, you may encounter some incompatibilities, such as graphical glitches or features that are not working.
Wine is free to download and install but new users may find it difficult to use. In which case there are third party tools that make using Wine much easier to use and are preconfigured to make running certain Windows software much smoother on Linux, a prime example being CrossOver Linux.
8. How Do I Get Apps?
Now that you have a fresh install of Linux, naturally you will want to look at the apps it has to offer. Installing apps on Linux is a different experience compared to Windows or Mac. Unlike the two, where you have to hunt down an EXE or DMG, on Linux you will have to search through your distro’s repository to find what you are looking for.
Most of the distros make it easy by having a GUI for you to navigate; Ubuntu easier still by creating their own app store. Sometimes you may not find what you are looking for in the repository, in which case all you have to do is add another repository that contains the item you seek. Updating is also easier due to the repository system, as the OS can find and update all of your installed apps in one go, instead of one at a time.
9. How Do I Get Support?
Just like when you first started using Windows or OS X, you have a few things to learn when starting to use Linux. The good thing is that nowadays Linux is pretty simple to figure out in terms of how to install and use, as most distros have focused on ease of use for the end user. If the majority of your computing task is relatively simple, i.e. web browsing, word processing, chances are Linux will pose no trouble at all.
However, there may be times when you need a little help with your operating system. Never fear as Linux has a large fan base and community ready to help you on any issue that you may encounter. Most of the time, troubleshooting Linux will not be that hard, as many can be resolved by typing in something in a command line, of which the community will help you with step-by-step.
10. Can I Still Run My Old OS?
So you’ve installed Linux and while you feel it’s a great OS, you find that there are some things that are just better on your previous one. Usually this pertains to games and and other apps you cannot run on Linux or Wine. The good news is that you can still have the open goodness of Linux alongside your favorite OS. This is done by either using a virtual machine or dual booting.
With virtual machines, you get the best of both worlds, running Linux and your default OS at the same time. You could either run Linux or your OS in a virtual machine, depending on which you use more, as this method can eat up your systems resources. On the other hand, you have dual booting, where you run one OS at a time but can switch between them with a reboot. Either method is great depending on what you need and you can switch to Linux without worrying about getting access to your favorite OS.