On the very last day of 2015, it has been my pleasure to have provided you all with quality news, views and features, and to have consistently remained true to our core objectives of impartiality, information and telling the facts as they are. As we look down into the beginnings of a new year, I have been very proud of this blog and everything it has achieved.
In 2015, I made news and writing a bigger focus of the Half-Eaten Mind than ever before, and our proprietary GIF Moments were spun off into a second blog named Gifville, which in many ways has become a phenomenal success as a project in its own right. I created a website that showcases the best of HEM’s designed (and hurriedly assembled) graphics, and we have made many new friends along the way. We also recently joined forces with SWNS digitalhub, a news and features agency, and look forward to further developing our partnership with them.
Every year, alongside WordPress, the Half-Eaten Mind releases a special annual report, excitedly illustrating the many achievements statistically speaking this blog has made in the past year. I’ve only gone ahead and made the report public for your viewing pleasure. You can now see it at the link below.
2016 is soon to be upon us, and I am so excited to see what it will bring the Half-Eaten Mind. Most importantly I have got to thank all those who help keep the blog extra-special and keep me motivated through your likes, comments and shares, as well as the contributors who have submitted articles and story ideas to HEM.
We’d like to take this moment to wish you all a very happy, prosperous and lucky New Year 2016. Stay great and keep smiling!!
This year’s wallpaper is influenced by the humble Christmas tree, with its merry decoration and celebration of creativity and light. The basis for this year’s graphic is a picture from a photo wallpaper site, the Wallpaper Abyss, depicting a row of trees decked out in blue fairy lights. The text used aligns with the photo’s colour scheme very well and keeps the theme running.
I prepped the image using an old favourite of ours, piZap. It took only around fifteen minutes yesterday morning and is now officially launched today. It will be used here and on the Half-Eaten Mind Facebook page.
I and the Half-Eaten Mind wishes each and every one of you, our friends, supporters, loyal readers, and visitors a very merryChristmas!
“Kindness should become the natural way of life, not the exception.”
Kindness is one of the most beautiful aspects of humanity. Doing good things for each other, helping others and being there as a shoulder to cry or rest on. However there are a lot of dark things happening in this world, and at times, it well seems kindness is in short supply.
Let’s move from hatred, discrimination, warmongering and violence and learn to treat each other more with kindness and understanding. Let’s make it our natural way of life, not just something to be unwrapped only for special occasions.
One of the things that always fascinates me when it comes to the internet are GIFs. Little moving images, often quirky, hilarious and artistic, they always help to brighten up a boring internet search.
Her work, plus the GIF Moments features I write up here for many major festivals in my life are what inspired me for my latest project.
Yesterday, while at my mother’s house in Seven Kings, just east of London city, I began the groundwork for this new project and today, I officially launch!
Introducing my new blog, dedicated to sharing my choice of cool, fun and interesting GIFs. It’s called Gifville (as in Farmville, Cityville etc), but without the unwanted game requests. The blog is still in development stage while I work out a few things but I will be begin posting on it now. I’ll aim to do a post every two days or so, and on Saturdays and Sundays. We’ll be covering all kinds of GIFs – from old-fashioned memes with cats to commentaries on pop culture
If you wish to contribute a GIF to the blog, please let me know, and I’ll be happy to feature it with credit to you. If you didn’t create it, then simply also give me the link to the website you got it from.
GIFVILLE – The New Blog by Vijay
Gifville is a separate project from the Half-Eaten Mind, although there will be some overlapping, especially in the first few articles I’ll be doing. I look forward to seeing you all there!
Last night, we decided to visit the Internet for an end of day jaunt….and came back with an awesome souvenir….a brand new website.
Introducing to you our latest presence on the web, a slick, contemporary and attractive portfolio website, known as ‘HEM Graphics’.
The purpose of the website is to act as a portfolio for the images and graphics I have created for this blog over the past three years, including our famous header images and idents created for individual pages. In addition, HEM Graphics will also serve as a depository for images from contributors and for interesting GIFs that have been featured on the Half-Eaten Mind, such as those in our Diwali specials and the recent forum flag icons I have been blogging about on our Animated ccTLD flags series (the Virtual Vexillology articles).
The website was created using Weebly, a free website-hosting service with a unique drag-and-drop approach to making webpages. Weebly was set-up in 2006 by three university students as part of an internet portfolio project and by 2012 had 20 million users and was receiving 1 million unique visitors per month.
Although I am quite good with computers, I had very little website design or formatting experience, so I found Weebly a relief in that they pretty much make things stupidly easy for you. You begin by choosing a site URL (address), which for the free version always ends in ‘.weebly.com’, then you choose a template, and after that is registered, you can begin customising your site’s appearance with text, titles, images and even Flash/HTML widgets.
The HEM Graphics site has a minimalist vibe in order to make the graphics I will be featuring on it more prominent and noticeable. Unusually for a website the page menu and blog logo are on the left hand side, and just like the blog, the header image is of that famous dawn photo of the tower blocks in Plaistow, London I took years back in 2007.
The website is still in the development stage, but so far I have made some astonishing progress in the hour or so I spent setting everything up. I have organised the home, about and contact pages and also uploaded all my ‘homemade’ graphics to a dedicated page for them. I also made some time to add some fun functionality to the place, installing a revolving globe from RevolverMaps that records visitor locations and a clock widget to make things business-like.
I am also moving the links to the two Paper.li e-newsletters along with this new site to a dedicated page on the blog, provisionally titled ‘HEM Links’.
Life is a journey. It can be a smooth dual carriageway with no traffic, or it can be a decrepid country lane full of potholes. Ultimately it has to move on and you have to be prepared to move on with it. Things can be tough at times, and you may have had a difficult life or have gone through some turbulent events, but there is always the future to look forward to. Sometimes chances and opportunities may present themselves in your life, and it is up to you to exploit them and turn things around. Each of these golden chances is a chance to make things fresh.
I have seen people get divorced, get hurt, lose important things and people in their lives. I have seen people suddenly witness their health go into decline, or fall helplessly into a dark and soulless pit of despair. For them, I can try and say to them with reassurance that life still can have its good moments, its positives, that there is still something to live for, while being extremely sympathetic to their current or past situation, of course.
The past can hurt. Believe me, more than most people out there, I can tell you that. Even the present can drag on and on, leaving you feeling perhaps a bit despondent. But you can never entirely predict the future. Or what is around the corner. Nevertheless you must keep on living life if you want to solve the mystery of what your life plans to bring your way. Don’t give up hope.
The past is another place and of course, another time. Dwelling on it will not get you anywhere. It can, and does, teach you some important lessons, but do not let the past define you. Always look towards the future and always keep the faith.
Life goes on….
Whether you choose to move on and
take a chance in the unknown.
Or stay behind, locked in the past,
thinking of what could’ve been.
This inspirational quote and image was made available by Will Thompson. He is an affiliate marketer living in the Western United States.
They say learning is a lifelong process, and that you never stop being a student of the University of Life. Certainly as the years roll on, you pick up lots of little and large things that you will learn from. Sometimes the learning opportunities present themselves, and sometimes you have to seek them out.
It does not matter if you are highly educated or you were never fond of studying, everyone learns one way or the other. I hold a undergraduate degree plus very good GCSEs and A-Levels, but I still have that urge to better and distinguish myself academically and to improve my skills. As it is, we are in a highly competitive world. I graduated nearly a decade ago and in that time I have been busying myself with work. Now I have come to the stage in my life where I need to look at what is next in both my life generally and in my career.
In November 2014, I decided I needed to do something to help me improve my prospects. Although I have a relatively impressive CV, because I had been in the same job for a long while and had not studied in that time, my skills were getting a bit rusty and times had changed since my graduation in 2006. In August of that year, my sister completed her diploma in child psychology, with a little help from me. This got me thinking. Why don’t I do a short distance-learning course too? Something to add to my CV (resumé) and impress potential employers and help upskill myself at the same time. As long as it didn’t mire me in even more student debt (I already have a outstanding £15,000 loan with the Student Loan Company for my degree in journalism and media), then what was the harm in trying?
I was well aware that many boroughs in London, including my own, Newham, had a long tradition of managing courses for residents to add to their skillset in order to survive in this hectic metropolis. With this in mind, I had a look at the website of the borough where I live, Newham Council, and discovered they were offering free courses in association with a company called Universal Class. Based in Tampa, Florida, U.S.A, Universal Class Inc. is an internationally-oriented provider of educational services that offer courses in everything pretty much really, from basic accounting and life coaching, to healthcare and computing. I even spotted a course on blogging. Their slogan is “Learn Anything. Learn Anytime. Learn Anywhere”, and they claim to have 600,000+ students learning via more than 500 courses, and have delivered five million courses so far. I was very fortunate that I still had my old Newham Libraries Card in my wallet, so was able to use the card number to log into the Universal Class portal direct from the Newham Council site and create my login details. I didn’t have to pay a penny for the course either.
Out of those 500 courses, I decided to do the one on Microsoft Excel 2013. Why did I choose that?, you may ask. Well in my current job, I spend a lot of time with Excel. It’s the previous version from 2010, but I depend on it a lot to process client data in my company’s database, and I also daily add information from the database and external materials to Excel spreadsheets, so knowing your way around those little cells is essential for this job. I thought that by getting myself certified as a competent user of the latest incarnation of this office work essential, it would not only prepare me for when my office decides to upgrade their Microsoft package, but also could go on my CV as an extra achievement to maximise my employability.
I will not bore you to death with the intricate details of the course or how everything works but here is a brief explanation.
In the Excel 2013 course, you have twenty lessons to complete, starting from really basic stuff to more complicated matters involving tables, graphics and formulae. Each lesson has an optional ‘assignment’, an activity that helps you put into practice what you’ve learned in that lesson. There is also a multiple choice exam of ten questions. Once you have done all the lessons, there is a final exam which has 45 questions, again multiple choice and it will test you on the contents of the entire course. Each lesson also comes with handy links and YouTube videos to expand your knowledge in a given area. You are also assigned an instructor (tutor) who can give feedback and emails you in your UC inbox your scores for each end-of-lesson exam. There is no time limit to completing the course, so you can work at your own pace. Walk in the park!!
The lessons covered the following:
1. Introduction to MS Excel 2013 and the course.
2. Navigating Excel 2013.
3. Worksheets and workbooks.
4. Entering information into MS Excel 2013.
5. Introduction to working with cells, rows and columns.
I would work on the course over the weekends, often straight after I had written an article here on the blog. One day would be set aside to copy the notes from the lesson onto a Word document and save for my reference, as well as making additional notes from the provided links. I also used that day to do the assignment for some extra brownie points. The other day would be dedicated to revising and then doing the lesson exam. Overall it was a very comprehensive course. The exams were a little tough at times but that is what you would expect from an exam. It helped though that I was already well-versed with Excel’s earlier versions, so my existing knowledge of spreadsheet software meant some of the lessons were a breeze. I even began using some of the skills I learned from the course in my day job. I was doing well, according to my tutor, who was posting back scores ranging from 80 to 100 per cent. I had this course firmly in the bag.
Finally in April 2014, after five months of weekend studying, I was finally ready to do my finals. I decided to put it off until this Bank Holiday weekend, as I would have two days off work plus the normal weekend. I spent the whole weekend reading through the course notes, memorising everything and then tackled the exam at around 5 pm yesterday evening.
As soon as I completed the exam, I submitted it, expecting to have to wait a day for it to be marked by my tutor, Sean. Surprisingly I clicked on an arrow and immediately was informed that I had passed the course.
I passed it with flying colours.
I achieved a score of 92%.
I was very impressed!!!.
*cue train of smiley face emojis*
🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
This was a very special achievement for me, and I feel ‘well proud’ as we East Londoners say.
I got a downloadable PDF certificate (although they put my name as ‘MR SHAH’ instead of my full name, which I’m trying to get corrected). I’ve also ordered a paper certificate from them. It cost me £9 but at least I can put the hard-copy version into my National Record of Achievement folder along with my school and college certificates and my university degree. I should get that in from America within two weeks.
I’m really happy. Although the course may not be as thorough as an average course at a further education college, it is very good value considering I am not even paying for it (apart from the small £5.99 monthly fee for using the Excel 2013 software on your PC, but you can cancel the subscription after you finish the course). I plan to return to the Universal Classrooms again this June or July as my next target is a course in administration. I have also found out from one of my LinkedIn groups that the City University of New York journalism school is offering some free courses in skills for news writing. Might give that a try too. If you’re interested, you can see them at this link .
It just goes to show that if you are smart enough to keep your eyes open, dig around the web a bit and research your opportunities, you can make a learning dream come true for you.
Everyone gather round…quick…quick…you there!!…stop swinging off that chandelier!.
It’s been a special week for this blog. We’ve been expanding our services into online newspaper making by teaming up with online media curation site paper.li to launch two new e-papers.
But that’s not been the only good news here at HEM HQ (Half-Eaten Mind Headquarters).
On the 12th April 2015, the blog reached a very special milestone. It passed the 100,000 views mark and has in fact surged ahead. With more than 350 articles, of which a handful have gone viral worldwide, we have given people all over a lot of great news and features to read and enjoy. It’s been a hard slog to get there, but it is a proud achievement and one that fills my heart with joy. Even I’m in shock that there’s that many views now, but this just goes to show where hard work, graft, persistence and dedication to your ideals and dreams can take you.
Oh we’re not done yet….
This past Wednesday (or Thursday if you count from when we began operations) marks the third anniversary of the establishment of the blog. Our very first article, way back in April 2012, was a feature piece on the Shard tower here in London, which was still under construction at the time and now looks very glimmering. Since then we’ve gone from strength to strength, changed a lot visually and in terms of our content, branched out into all sorts of things, shook hands with several clients and even self-published a book. But most importantly of all, I have made many new friends and followers.
Hot on the heels of our new online newspaper, The Half-Eaten Times, which was officially launched on the 5th of April, 2015 in association with online media curator site paper.li, we have decided to start a new publication specifically promoting the content of the HEM blogging community.
Called simply “HEM Bloggers’ News“, this new e-newspaper from Half-Eaten Mind and paper.li is exclusively designed to showcase and promote articles, photos, musings and much more from the great friends and compadres we have made in the WordPress community and beyond. As with our news version, HEM Bloggers’ News will come out twice daily, with links disseminated on Twitter.
Why not check it out, see what other bloggers are talking about and make some new friends. The community has given so much to the Half-Eaten Mind. Now this is one small way we are paying back the love.
HEM Bloggers’ News is available for viewing at the below URL and on the side toolbar:
While being the next Rupert Murdoch or Lord Northcliffe is probably a very unlikely event for me any time soon – a lack of a gold-plated triple-password protected Swiss bank account not withstanding – it is however, stupidly possible for me, or indeed anyone, to have their own newspaper with content that interests them and their friends. No messy printing ink, whiny subeditors, or pleading with newsagents required. Just an invisible, hands-free, fuss-free ‘editor-bot’ who will pull off a carefully-ish curated selection of tweets, website links etc. to make that virtual front page.
Thanks to the internet, the Half-Eaten Mind now has an accompanying online rag, the Half-Eaten Times.
This special newspaper was launched on the 4th April 2015, just before its parent blog’s third anniversary. Created with the help and hosting of the Swiss curated newspaper site paper.li, the Half-Eaten Times draws on the sharing activity of lists and followers on the blog’s Twitter social account@halfeatenmind and curates interesting and newsworthy content, presented in a New York Times format for easy accessibility and browsing.
Like any good broadsheet, The Half-Eaten Times has a respectable and diverse selection of categories for our readers. Updated every 12 hours (twice daily), our e-paper features the latest picks of the current headlines in the HEM world, as well as subtopics covering leisure, entertainment, technology, sciences and business matters. Every contributor is a blogging citizen journalist (excusing the ones who are already journalists, of course) and every follower has the potential to make the news. News media at probably its most democratic.
In addition, there will be also plenty of news from all the world, supplied by our media partners.
Although I own the e-paper, I am not responsible for the content, which is picked up automatically by the curation technology that paper.li makes available to its users.
You can subscribe to the newsletter via email or social media, and special tweets and posts will be sent out every time a new edition of the Half-Eaten Times goes on the newsstand.
Have a leaf-through the Half-Eaten Times at the link below.
I’ve also produced a banner advert for this new feature which may be included in the sidebar of this blog for maximum visibility, however my final decision is still pending. Using the now familiar HEM street sign logo, I was lucky enough to find the right visual elements to make this advert tie in with HEM’s header design (the original sunrise one with the silhouetted buildings) in the same way the e-newspaper’s name ties in with the blog’s name. Smart thinking eh?
The Half-Eaten Times….out now at your local PC screen and at all good tablets….for the cover price of £0.00 ($0.00 US/Canada; Rs 0.00 Mauritius, ₹00/= India)…you get my drift…Get your copy today! 🙂
Let me know what you think. I can also help you set one up if you need.