Monday, 1 May 2017

My son, Emile's video to ask for funding for his golf competitions and career.


Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Why Slacking Off Can Speed Up Your Productivity

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Being busy is very often a waste of time. Slacking off can actually get better results. Just ask nature.
A sidewinder snake camouflaged against the desert sand lies idle, doing not a lot at all. But when a mouse passes within striking distance, the effectiveness of the snake’s strategy is clear.
snake2.jpg
He’s all about optimizing his efforts.
Meanwhile, this army ant death spiral is the perfect example of why busyness is bad. Nature’s busiest creatures can literally kill themselves from lack of a clear goal. The death spiral happens when the Queen is absent and each ant follows the scent of the ant in front in her absence. They’re using all their energy to go around in a circle and eventually, they’ll all die from busyness.

Busyness Is Natural

We humans are hardly any better. In our persistent folly we still wear our busyness as a badge of honor. We’re perversely proud of the free time we don’t have.
study of 1,000 office UK workers conducted by business intelligence firm Xoomworks proves this, revealing a trend for ‘competitive busyness’. The study showed that 31% of office workers had sent emails outside of office hours to signal to others how busy they were. Fifty four percent admitted staying late just to impress superiors.
Busyness is a cultural phenomenon. The problem is, when busyness is rewarded, productivity suffers. Germans work on average 256 fewer hours per year than Britons, but remain the most productive country in Europe, according to the UK’s Office for National Statistics. And they are the third largest exporter in the world.

Why Slowing Down May Be Key To Productivity

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Productivity techniques are great for harnessing productive energy and cutting out wasted effort. But sometimes you just can’t harness the concentration needed to be truly productive. Focus eludes you and you feel like you’re running in sand. There’s a reason for that: It’s called flow.
Flow state is defined as that elusive sense of being at one with the task at hand, or being ‘in the zone’. Author and entrepreneur Steven Kotler has explored and written broadly on the neuroscience of flow state, and he posits that optimal mental efficiency isn’t brought on by hyper-activity in the brain (aka ‘firing on all cylinders’), but rather by hypo-activity, where the parts of the brain that can distract us from being productive are slowed down.
Kotler explains that flow state occurs when our brain waves are slowed down from the fast-moving beta waves common in waking consciousness, to the slowed down borderline between alpha and theta waves that are associated with day-dreaming mode.
Combining these two states can actually enhance your creativity. Kotler explains, “Since creativity is always recombinatory—the product of novel information bumping into old thoughts to create something startlingly new—being able to slip between thoughts quickly and combine them wildly enhances creativity at a very fundamental level.”
So there you have it, daydreaming is good for you.

The Importance Of Slacking Off

Kotler recommends immersive non-work related tasks to boost productivity and kick start the flow state. Most employees seem to agree with him. According to research, 74% spend at least 30 minutes per day ‘slacking off’, and most believe the mental breaks actually make them more productive. Almost a quarter of those employees chose social media as their means of productive slacking off.
A separate study from the University of Melbourne bears this out, claiming that workers who engaged in recreational social media use for less than 20 minutes per day were 9% more productive.
So if you find that slacking off for a half hour gets your creative juices flowing again, you should strive to do it.
Tip: Allocate a five-minute slot in your Pomodoro system for reading Tweets from influencers in your industry.

Take-Home Techniques From Prince & Jerry Seinfeld

As with almost all questions in life, Prince, one of the most productive musicians of all time, had the answer before anyone asked. In 1985, on his song Raspberry Beret, Prince sang:
“Seems that I was busy doing something close to nothing / But different than the day before”
In just three bars and 16 words, Prince illuminated the drab futility of busyness better than any LinkedIn Influencer post that sponsored its way into your feed. And Prince was monumentally productive. But crucially, he was also effective. Thirty-nine studio albums, eight of which hit number one, five number one singles and 150 million units shifted are testament to that.
What can Prince teach us about busyness, productivity and effectiveness?
  • Writing songs and playing every instrument? Busy
  • Producing the album Purple Rain? Productive
  • Selling 22 million copies of Purple Rain? Effective
Tip: Productivity is good, but If you’re looking for results, focus your energy on effective productivity.
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5 Productivity Techniques To Try 

So how do you make the transition from being busy to being effective, via being productive? Productivity techniques are designed to convert your effort into progress. But remember, if they don’t lead to effectiveness (or turn you into Prince), ditch them and try something else.

Productivity Technique 1: Pomodoro

The concept is simple. Split your work day into time boxes. Time yourself as you work, breaking your workflow into fixed time boxes. The traditional approach is to work for 25 minutes, with 5-minute breaks, followed by a longer break. Be disciplined with breaks.
Pomodoro is Italian for “tomato.” It’s named for the novelty kitchen timer used by Francesco Cirillo when developing his productivity system.
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Productivity Technique 2: SMART To-Do Lists

Another simple one. Write a list of the actions you want to complete. The key to getting the best out of this approach is make your list items S.M.A.R.T.
They must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-related. For example:
“Call Kelly, Alex and Martha before 10.30am,” is good.
“Speak to some prospects” is bad.

Productivity Technique 3: Getting Things Done

David Allen’s Getting Things Done should resonate with anyone who suffers from idea fatigue. It’s a customizable system designed to help you make good choices about how you spend time and to foster confidence in your decisions.
There are rules to follow though. For example, once you’ve listed the things that have your immediate attention, ask yourself if there is an action you can take. If not, trash it, delegate it or file it.

Productivity Technique 4: Don’t Break The Chain

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Perfect for longer term goals. The system, purportedly used by Jerry Seinfeld, simply requires you to to pick a goal and set a date in the calendar by which that goal must be realized. Mark off the preceding days and use the chain of days as a motivator.
Many popular apps use the “chain” method to increase user participation. The chain is often called a “streak,” or a successive number of days in a row that a user logs into the app. The longer a user goes without breaking the streak, the more awards and badges they are given. Popular apps like Duolingo, Headspace, and even the New York Times Crossword app implement this method.

Productivity Technique 5: The Action Method

This is more of a system than a technique. Originally developed by Behance as a project management system, it requires that you assign an action to every interaction. So if you’re in a meeting, you need to leave with a list of actions. Not goals per se, but specific steps that you need to take.
Overall, there’s no perfect productivity method. Think of the above as frameworks in which to optimize your own output. Try a few, keep the elements that work and ditch the rest.
Click here to view the Original Article

Friday, 26 February 2016

Working for yourself....really, you want to do that?


So, you want to be a freelancer...... working for yourself ?

I have tried this gig twice in the past, once with great success and great luck, once with limited success and much perseverance. It's a tough gig, but really, the essence of this business is the same as any other business - perseverance regardless of result !

Many self employed fail or give up because they did not make enough to make ends meet in the 1st, 2nd or 6th month. What they also did not do is take stock of where they started and where they ended - often with more clients than they started with. Take this gradual growth and project it down the line another 6 months and see where you might be then. You have 4 scenarios:

  1. Started with 0-5 clients, after 6 months had 0-5 clients - gave up
  2. Started with 0-5 clients, after 6 months had 10-15 clients, could not pay the bills - gave up.
  3. Started with 0-5 clients, after 6 months had 30-30 clients, sat back satisfied and stopped marketing, business goes bang after 12-18 months
  4. Started with 0-5 clients, after 6 months had 50-70 clients, could not handle the workload - gave up.

Scenario 1
If client growth is not happening, change your approach, try it all until you get it right. Read other entrepreneur's stories, see what they did and adapt that to your scenario. Above all, don't get stuck in a rut.

Scenario 2
If client growth is slow, but steady - keep at it. Try to add to your arsenal of current methods, but do not give up. You could just be in a slow economic cycle - endure and persevere - cut a few comforts, sacrifice a few things - in the end, you will win.

Scenario 3
He who rests on his laurels will crush them ! Never take success for granted. Keep up the search for clients, keep learning new skills, move with the market, make new contacts. You need a well buffered income to pad the lean times which are always only a phone call away. Once you stop working for it, your business will stop working for you. Consistent effort pays off !


Scenario 4
Beware of fast growth ! You may have hit the perfect marketing plan, product or service and suddenly, everyone wants your service. Do not be afraid to rope in an extra pair of hands - because then you have become an employer ! Make sure you choose help you can TRUST above all else - skills can be learnt, but trust and integrity come built in or not at all.


The key ingredient of success is to let failure be the teacher ! 
Accept the fact that failing is part of the process. Perseverance, endurance, tenacity in the face of adversity are all the traits that can lead to success. Of course you need a good service or product as well, but great businessmen often make a living of a mediocre product or service that they provide better than anyone else ! How to do this is up to you, but the first step is to earn the client's trust. Trust is the glue between you and your clients - without it, no deal will last very long.

Some outside help with this trust issue is always a bonus, and this is where TOPTAL comes to the rescue.
They pre-screen you so that your clients (through TOPTAL) know that they are getting the REAL deal and not some scam or spam artist.

Try them - you won't regret it.


Wednesday, 9 September 2015



Turmeric

99 Reasons Why Turmeric Is the Best Spice Ever

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Turmeric is a herbaceous herb (also known as Curcuma longa) that is a member of the ginger family, which has been used throughout India and the Orient for thousands of years. Historical records note that ancient Polynesians took turmeric with them when they sailed across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii where the spice is still used today and known as ’olena.
In India, this golden spice has long been called “holy powder,” and is used extensively to treat infections, wounds and a myriad of other health problems. Its healing power was once thought of as only a folktale; however, modern research is now confirming what the people of India and many parts of Asia have known for thousands of years — turmeric is a spice you don’t want to pass up.
Scientists are finding an astonishing array of antioxidant, anticancer, antiviral, antibiotic, antifungal and antibacterial properties. As an immune system booster, turmeric is 5 to 8 times stronger than vitamin C and E.
Studies show that curcumin, the principal curcuminoid of turmeric, inserts itself into cell membranes where it does a little house-cleaning and reorganizing, adding vibrancy to the cell itself. Suddenly a disorganized cell becomes organized, allowing information to flow through it so it can function more effectively. The result of this action increases the cell’s resistance to infection and malignancy, which can keep a number of serious conditions at bay, including the following:
    • Gallstones
    • Crohn’s disease
    • Psoriasis
    • Acne
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Cataracts
    • Inflammatory bowel disease
    • Diabetes
Cancer
Cases of the four most common cancers found in America are very low in India where turmeric is a food staple. These cancers include colon, breast, prostate and lung, occurring ten times less frequently in India than in the U.S. Prostate cancer, which is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men in the United States, is hardly ever found in Indian men.
Studies that have examined the medicinal impact of curcumin have found that it keeps cells from changing from normal to cancerous and stops the spread of existing cancerous cells.
Furthermore, it works in conjunction with the body to destroy existing cancer cells so they are unable to spreadto the rest of the body. Liver function is enhanced in those that use curcumin regularly, and it appears to prevent additional blood from reaching cancer cells, which retards their growth.
The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, reports that curcumin blocks the pathway in the body that is required for melanoma and other cancers to develop. In a laboratory setting, curcumin actually causes cancer cells to commit suicide. In addition, it has been found to shut down the protein needed to induce an inflammatory response.
Inflammation (turmeric reduces pain and swelling)
Curcumin is probably best known for its strong anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is a normal and beneficial process that occurs when white blood cells and chemicals in the body join up to protect you from foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. So, some level of inflammation is good and required for health. However, the inflammatory response often gets out of control.
This happens when the immune system triggers an inflammatory response without a real threat. This can easily cause excess inflammation to stay in the body; a condition that is linked to allergies, heart disease, autoimmune disease, cancer (discussed above) and other serious medical conditions. Excess inflammation can also cause irritation to tissues, which translates into the pain, swelling and redness so often seen in people suffering from osteoarthritis.
According to one study, patients who suffered from osteoarthritis who added 200 mg of curcumin daily to their treatment plan, had a significant decrease in pain and much improved mobility. The control group, who received no curcumin, had no improvements.
In another study, turmeric extract blocked the inflammation pathways which prevented the protein responsible for swelling and pain from triggering.
So many people with inflammation-induced pain take non-steroidal medications such as Tylenol for relief, however, chronic use of these medications has been associated with some rather serious side effects, such as cardiovascular problems, kidney and liver damage as well as gastrointestinal problems.
More benefits of turmeric
Besides those I have mentioned above, turmeric has so many other benefits it is often referred to as the most powerful spice on the planet. Here is just a glimpse at what it can do:
    • Powerful antiseptic
    • Natural liver detoxifier
    • Slows the progression of Alzheimer’s
    • Supports eye health
    • Supports female reproductive health
    • Cleanses the skin
    • Helps with sugar digestion
    • Slows the progression of multiple sclerosis
    • Assists in fat metabolism
    • Purifies blood
    • Fights depression
    • Reduces the ill effects of chemotherapy
    • Protects against radiation
    • Eliminates parasites
    • Promotes healthy digestion
    • Thins gut mucus
    • Protects against heavy metal toxicity
    • Aids in wound healing
    • Fights yeast
    • Promotes healthy circulation
    • Restores damaged skin
    • Relieves pain from leech bites
    • Fights infection
    • Protects from free radicals
    • Supports healthy bones, ligaments, joints and skeletal system
    • Boosts the immune system
    • Protection from food poisoning
    • Fights aging
Not just alternative
Even mainstream health circles recognize the power of turmeric. Web MD cites that the herb is useful for the following conditions:
    • Heartburn
    • Stomach pain
    • Kidney problems
    • Sprains
    • Intestinal gas
    • Gum inflammation
    • Bloating
    • Jaundice
    • Bronchitis
    • Burns
    • Upset stomach
    • Worms
    • Colds
    • Diarrhea
    • Loss of appetite
    • Hepatitis
    • Colic
    • Ulcers
    • Hardening of the arteries
    • Fibromyalgia
    • Menstrual problems
    • Indigestion
    • Mastitis
    • Swimmer’s ear
    • Childhood leukemia
    • Bad cholesterol
Other amazing uses
I have personally used turmeric for a number of things, including as a natural dye for Easter eggs, t-shirts and play dough. When combined with aloe vera, it can help to ease the pain and itch caused by poison ivy, bug bites and chicken pox.
I love to make a super delicious dip for veggies using organic yogurt, turmeric, dried onion, and salt and pepper. I have also combined turmeric with raw honey for an amazing facial exfoliator paste. Living out in the west and loving my sandals like I do, my feet take a beating. To relieve dry and cracked heels, I mix coconut oil and turmeric and let it sit on my feet for about 15 minutes before having a shower.
Here are some more ways you might consider using this highly versatile and potent spice:
  • As a tea to ease sleep problems
  • As a facial wash to even out skin tone
  • As a natural skin bronzer
  • As a scalp conditioner
  • As a hangover reliever
  • As a stress reliever
  • As a natural foundation
  • As a weight-loss tonic
  • As a healthy addition to homemade soap
  • As a homemade toothpaste
  • As a dark circle reducer
  • As a hair thinning agent
  • As a healthy addition to any smoothie, soup, stew, vegetable or fruit dish, and even baked goods
Turmeric vs. curcumin

If curcumin is the super power in turmeric, should we take it alone or with the spice in its whole state?
Studies have been performed to determine whether turmeric or curcumin is more effective. The results supported the hypothesis that “a crude extract of turmeric is more effective than the purified compound curcumin in curing human ailments” because it offers the full spectrum of curcuminoids.
Another study also emphasized the role of synergistic effects of other constituents of turmeric extract on the antioxidant activity of curcumin.
As you can see, using the complete turmeric root is better than removing the most active compound and consuming it in an isolated state. The whole root contains co-active molecules, ones that work together for the most benefit.
It’s also worth noting that there are ways to make your complete turmeric even more effective with other foods that help the body absorb it.
Black pepper (with its active chemical piperine) is one, and cayenne pepper (capsaicin) is another. One study showed that turmeric and cayenne pepper were each individually beneficial for the reduction of cholesterol oxidation, liver toxicity and inflammation, but the beneficial effect was greater when they were consumed together.
Another important consideration is that curcuminoids are fat soluble. Any fat soluble nutrient or vitamin should always be consumed with another food containing fat, so that it can be most effectively absorbed.
The best way to absorb curcumin is to combine a tablespoon of curcumin powder with 1–2 egg yolks and two teaspoons of melted coconut oil. This will emulsify the powder and enhance absorption.
Use organic and fresh turmeric liberally in the kitchen. It has an earthy and peppery flavor.
If you would like to do some more research of your own, visit PubMed’s extensive database of research on turmeric… the best spice ever. You will be amazed!
— Susan Patterson
Susan is the Content Director at The Alternative Daily, a Certified Health Coach, Certified Metabolic Typing Advisor and Master Gardener. With an extensive knowledge of whole foods and wellness, Susan enjoys educating others on how to live healthy and sustainable lives. She presently lives off grid in the middle of the New Mexican high desert with her three children and numerous animals.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Password Entropy - reposted from Techtarget

DEFINITION

password entropy

Part of the Personal computing glossary:
Password entropy is a measurement of how unpredictable a password is.
Password entropy is based on the character set used (which is expansible by using lowercase, uppercase, numbers as well as symbols) as well as password length. Password entropy predicts how difficult a given password would be to crack through guessing, brute force cracking, dictionary attacks or other common methods.
Password entropy is usually expressed in terms of bits: A password that is already known has zero bits of entropy; one that would be guessed on the first attempt half the time would have 1 bit of entropy. A password's entropy can be calculated by finding the entropy per character, which is a log base 2 of the number of characters in the character set used, multiplied by the number of characters
in the password itself.
NIST provides the following guidelines for user-selected passwords with 30 bits of entropy:
  • Use a minimum of 8 characters selected from  a 94-character set.
  • Include at least one upper case letter, one lower case letter, one number and one special character.
  • Use a dictionary of common words that users should avoid, like a password blacklist.
  • Don’t use any permutations of your username as your password.
Of course password entropy can't be the only thing considered or passwords would be too long, complex and unmemorable. Best practices involve employing something memorable to the user but not easily guessed by anyone else. Because password length is one of the most important factors affecting password entropy and overall strength, a longer password can be simpler than a shorter one and still be effective.
This was last updated in January 2014
Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Something to ponder



Makes you think......

Home Made HEALTHY Hot Chocolate


Yummy - I have thought out a Hot Chocolate recipe and it works !!!! Very yummy and guess what -- no sugar, no dairy........ very, very guilt free.

Very Easy - combine one medium tin of Cocoa with one packet of Nature's Choice Swiss Dream milk replacement (approx 1:1) .
Image result for cocoa south africa    Image result for plus sign
Sweeten with Xylitol to taste.

Password complexity....are we fooling ourselves ?

Many of the beliefs we have around what constitutes a “good” password are created by what default policies in software such as Microsoft teach us.
We are led to believe that a minimum length of 8 characters, a good mixture of UPPER and lower-case, numbers and uncommon (i.e. $@#&!) characters automatically make a good password.
Many Systems Administrators and Systems Engineers never delve into the analysis behind a password due to the above IT MEME created in large by the software industry. So what constitutes a strong password and why is our MEME a concern. Surely our passwords have stood the test of time.
What we need to keep in mind is that computing power has been increasing at an incredible rate and access to this computing power has become easier and easier. Lately, harnessing the power of multiple GPU’s has become the standard method to crack passwords. A recent password cracking cluster built with easily accessible hardware, managed to show that it could crack every standard Windows password in less than 6 hours. (GPU Cluster cracks passwords)
This is seriously scary tech for anyone connected with security on networks. Gone are the days of setting a password and never touching it again - at Windows complexity levels, that is. Even changing passwords regularly is no guarantee against a machine that only needs 6 hours to crack open ANY Windows password.
What shall we then do ?
First of all, we need to understand what makes a password difficult to crack. The key here is LENGTH. Sure, complexity plays a factor, but complexity becomes self defeating if a user cannot remember their own password. Force them to change this complex password every week or month and they WILL start writing it down. This then defeats the object of the exercise, as written down passwords can be snooped and are a very high risk.
Some facts:
A password of 8 characters (only a-z + A-Z) can be cracked by a Supercomputer in approx 5 millionths of a second (0.0005s) or in about 11 seconds by a PC + GPU. This password has an entropy (password strength) value of 45.6 bits.
A password of 8 characters containing a-z, A-Z, 0-9, special characters (`~!@#$%^&*()-_=;:'",<.>?) will take a Supercomputer 0.05 seconds to crack and a PC + GPU only 17 minutes.
Keeping the password simple (a-z + A-Z), but increasing the length by only 2 characters ( from 8 to 10 ) will make the Supercomputer take 1 second to crack it and the PC + GPU crack time increases to 8 hours !
Adding another 2 characters now makes our 12 character password crackable in 1 hour by Supercomputer, but our PC + GPU will now take 2 YEARS ! Password entropy has now increased to 68.4 bits.
Should we become creative and construct our password as an easy to remember object of some length such as “MydogsnameisButch” (17 characters) with an entropy of 96.9bits, our Supercomputer now needs 47,125 YEARS and our PC + GPU needs 942 MILLION YEARS to crack this !
On top of being very difficult to crack (by a computer), our password has the advantage of being easy to remember.
This does not mean that ALL restrictions must be removed from password complexity. A good requirement would be 12-16 characters, at least 2 Uppercase and no more than 2 consecutive repeated letters. The 16 character limit allows the password to be used in a Windows environment. The above password would have to be changed to “MydogsNameisBob” (Entropy value of 85.5 bits)
In general, an entropy of over 80 is considered to be a very strong password.
References:
  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Password_strength
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Password_policy
  3. http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/06/password-complexity-rules-more-annoying-less-effective-than-length-ones/
  4. https://redmondmag.com/articles/2013/08/14/password-complexity.aspx
  5. https://xkcd.com/936/
  6. https://cams.missouristate.edu/selfservice/complexity.aspx