What is Visual Voicemail and How It Works?

visual voicemail

Visual Voicemail is a service that can be used with many types of phones. Visual Voicemail is very similar to what is known as voicemail on a personal computer – but instead of being delivered through your normal telephone lines, it is sent directly to your digital camera. This makes it a convenient way to receive and save all sorts of messages from any location. The technology behind it is very simple, but there are many things that you should know if you are considering switching to visual voicemail with your current phone provider. Here is what you need to know.

What you need to know about visual voicemail

So what is visual voicemail? It is a digital version of a traditional voicemail, but it is sent over the internet instead of through your regular phone line. With a visual voicemail account, you can look at your messages and even listen to them on any computer and in any order that you choose. You’ll receive an email, not a regular text message, when a voicemail message has been saved onto your computer. You can then listen to your messages as many times as you like and choose to forward any of them to another address or store them for future reference.

visual voicemail

When you first set up your visual voicemail application, you may find that it does not work right with certain networks. If this is the case, you should take a few minutes to update the settings so that your messages will work with all types of networks. Most networks have a few specific settings that must be followed to send a text message or picture message over a cell phone network – making visual voicemail settings a bit different from the rest.

Voicemail messages

For a network that does allow Verizon visual voicemail messages to go through, however, there are some simple steps you can take to make sure your messages will always get sent to your phone. First, Verizon charges a daily fee for its services – so the first thing you should do is call their customer service number and inquire about their program. They will provide you with the contact information for their network and explain all of the details involved.

voicemail on iphone

Once you have located the right company, it’s time to start updating your visual voicemail software. This involves downloading the appropriate program onto your computer and then updating the phone settings to match the software. For example, if you were making a call to a Verizon store, your voice messages would go to voicemail and not to your normal telephone. The same goes if you called an individual with the code name “Abraxas,” your voice messages would go to voicemail as well, and any missed calls would appear on your phone as missed calls.

Conclusion

If you’re still not sure how everything works, don’t worry – after updating your software you’ll have your very own visual voicemail account up and running in seconds. It’s completely secure, doesn’t require a credit card, and even uses your regular phone for messages – so you won’t have to worry about being embarrassed when you’re trying to call someone back! Now all you have to do is make sure your messages get delivered to your cell phone regularly.

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Benefits of Learning Piano for Children and Teenager

learning piano

In addition to honing children’s academics, honing children’s abilities in non-academic fields such as music is no less important for the child’s future. Maybe you are still confused about what musical instrument is right to hone children’s talents.

You don’t need to worry because all musical instruments are good, but to hone children’s talents for the first time, children can learn to play piano. Learning a piano instrument may often be considered difficult. So some parents choose to provide learning piano for their children. This is because playing the piano itself has many health benefits for children.

learning piano

This is the benefit of the child plays the piano and practices in earnest

  • Improve children’s concentration and multitasking skills

By playing the piano, children can practice and improve their concentration skills. This happens when the child is playing the piano, moving both hands simultaneously.
Then, the child must also learn to read musical notes according to the beat of the music by feeling and adjusting them appropriately. Not only that, but children also have to estimate when to step on the piano pedals.

The steps above are carried out simultaneously so that you get a melody that is sweet and pleasant to hear. If the child continues to practice the piano, this will practice their multitasking skills.

  • Turn on several areas in the brain that train children’s concentration and patience

Some studies say that playing the piano can also make the brain work differently from other activities. According to a researcher from Australia, Anita Collins, several areas in the brain will “turn on” when a child is playing music. Because some of these areas are “lit”, it can improve the quality of the child’s concentration and patience. Very useful, right?

  • Reducing the risk of stress and making feelings more positive

Apart from increasing concentration and patience, the habit of playing the piano is believed to improve children’s mental health. That way, the chances are very small for children to experience stress or depression when compared to children who do not play the piano.

If children take the time to play the piano during their busy lives, it will help lower blood pressure and feel more positive. The piano can also reflect the feelings and emotions of children. With just a few minutes, playing the piano can bring happiness. Not surprisingly, children who like to play the piano have a more positive personality.

  • Train Aural Awareness, which makes it easier for children to catch the tone

Playing the piano can train children to recognize the notes and sounds produced by the piano. If he is used to playing the piano, don’t be surprised if your child becomes very sensitive to notes. If there was a note that wasn’t quite right, he could notice right away.

This ability is called Aural Awareness, which is the ability of a child’s ear that is sensitive to music. This Aural Awareness also makes children quickly grasp the notes that must be played in a song, without the need to ask even if they only hear it briefly.

  • Unconsciously, playing the piano is also a hand sport

Even though you sit more, when you play the piano, of course, your hands move more often. However, without realizing it, this activity can also be called a sport. Because in playing the piano alone, there are rules about posture when sitting, and playing with the right-hand position, so that it makes the hands stronger.

As well as the resulting music effects also have an impact on heart health, which helps children regulate their heart rate while playing the piano.

  • Children can learn to accept criticism well which affects aspects of their life

When learning to play the piano, children often get positive feedback and criticism from both teachers and listeners. Not many children can take criticism well, but by playing the piano children can learn to accept criticism.

  • Improve cognitive abilities and self-confidence

Another benefit of children who play the piano is that they have improved cognitive and coordination skills compared to children who do not learn piano. So that it affects children’s achievement at school.

When going through challenges in learning piano, children’s self-confidence increases. Coupled with the appreciation and enthusiasm given by you and your family.

Research in 2014 on grade 4 children in Canada showed that students’ self-esteem improved after learning piano. So if the child shows a lack of confidence, you can ask him to play the piano.

So, those are the benefits you get when your child learns to play the piano. Now don’t hesitate, Ma, because playing music children can get various important benefits for their lives and health.

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Why Responsive Design Isn’t Going Anywhere: Examples and Explanations

If you only know one thing about web design, let it be the term “responsive.” Most good web designers and developers will make sure that you have what is called a responsive website, but as a small business owner or Webmaster it’s important that you understand how it works so that you don’t get stuck with a designer who didn’t bother. A responsive design is what’s going to make your website easy to see on all different types of screens—mobile, tablet, desktop, etc.—and in 2014 this will be a necessity if you want to keep up with your competition. If you end up with a design that isn’t responsive not only will your website look out of place, but it will look unprofessional on a mobile device and turn people away.

According to this article published on Convince and Convert, by 2014 mobile is predicted to overtake desktop Internet usage. The moral of the story: Understanding responsive web design truly deserves your undivided attention this upcoming New Year.

How Responsive Web Design Works

Having a responsive web design means that your website will respond to different screen sizes and make adjustments accordingly (with no work on your part). For example, if your design is responsive there are a few things that will likely change if someone looks at your website through a mobile phone:

  • Images will either be moved to the bottom of the screen or they will be resized so they don’t take up the whole screen.
  • Buttons might get larger to compensate for the small screen.
  • Important content should be at the top of the screen, so things like ads or a search bar would be moved to the bottom.

Of course, different things will change if you’re using a tablet for example. The buttons might not get pictured and the images might move in a different way than they did when you looked at your website on a mobile screen. Again, it’s all about the best possible view for users. The best way to understand this concept has always been through screenshots:

As you can see, things are moved around based on the size of the screen. If you have a responsive web design, this will automatically happen for your website. Had you not had a responsive design, someone would visit your mobile website and see nothing but a large ad or a big “L” in the second example. Below is an example that shows the opposite problem:

As you can see, going from a website built for a smaller screen to this larger screen also had its problems. This example comes from some sort of wide screen, and you can see a lot of white space on the sites because a responsive web design was not used.

Of course, some companies don’t have a responsive design and choose to have an entirely different website for mobile; however in general responsive web designs are easier to manage and more preferred.

Moving Forward with Responsive Web Design

As a Webmaster or small business owner just looking to get a feel for how it all works, the above are great basics that will help you know what to ask and what to request of your web designer. If you want to dig a little bit deeper into how it all works (CSS code, Media Queries, Meta tags, etc.) I highly recommend checking out this article from Elated. Of course, a good web designer or developer should also be able to answer your questions.

Do you have experience working with responsive web design, either as a consumer or as a business owner? Let us know your thoughts and your story in the comments below.

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5 Ways to Fail at Blogging

blogging fails

I’ve often compared starting out as a blogger to trying to lose weight, or working out. It takes dedication, desire, perseverance, and willpower. On the surface, blogging seems simple. If it was so simple, then why do so many bloggers fail?

I’ve started blogging for new sites many many times. Before I refined my approach, I failed multiple times. Looking at each experience in a completely analytical sense gives me insight into why I failed. I’ve combined my experiences and consulted other bloggers to come up with a “top 5” list of common reasons bloggers fail.

blogging fails

1. Setting Expectations Too High

Probably the most common mistake new bloggers make is setting their sites too high. If you go into blogging expecting to make enough money that you can quit your day job and move your 5 person family to Panama, you’re going to get in over your head.

Back to my analogy of blogging being like losing weight, if you set your expectations too high, you’re bound to be disappointed. No one loses 100 pounds in a month, it takes time. Healthy weight loss should be done slowly over time. Blogging growth is no different. Normal organic blog growth happens slowly but surely over time.

Instead…

I’ve always found that the best attitude when you start blogging is to have high aspirations with low expectations. That sounds rather pessimistic, but it has really worked for me. By being enthusiastic and having high aspirations for my blog, I’m able to be passionate in my writing. By setting my expectations low, I’m able to devote more effort to the project over a longer period of time, without being disappointed in the results. This has given me the chance to push past the hump (the point at which most bloggers quit) and push on to bigger and better things.

You have to start small. Every mountaineer that has scaled Everest starts at the base of the mountain.

2. Creating Too Much Content

It might not seem like an issue, but creating too much content can doom your blog in more than one way.

By constantly pumping out content, you are more than likely sacrificing quality for quantity. Your posts will be subpar, and you won’t be winning any new readers. You might get luck any rank well for some long tail keywords, which could drive some traffic. Ultimately, your bounce rates will prove that your content is poor quality, and Google will put two and two together. Your rankings will suffer, and who would want to link to a content farm like that anyways?

The second reason you don’t want to produce too much content is that you’ll get burned out quickly, which could end in you quitting. Just like someone who is starting out a running program, if you try to run too much at the beginning, you’re going to get tired and frustrated. It’s better to ease into a routine. Consistently publishing content is a better approach than flooding your blog with content.

Instead…

Pace yourself. Set a blogging schedule that doesn’t interfere with the rest of your daily activities (like eating and sleeping). There is nothing wrong with writing a few blog posts a month.

Blogging can be a great way to drive traffic to your site. It might seem as though the more content you have, the more traffic you get, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Always remember that quality trumps quantity. One excellent blog post per month will always be better than 10 poor posts.

linkbuilding

After you add good content, it’s time to do Linkbuilding. This is intended to make your blog good on SERP and can increase the keywords you want to target. If you are not familiar with this method, there are several services that can do it.

3. Monetizing From the Get Go

No one likes to see a blog with advertisements plastered in the header, footer, and sidebar. It’s a turn off for potential readers, and gives off cheap vibes.

It’s not uncommon for bloggers to monetize their blog. Lots of bloggers make a living form their websites and the services they offer. There is nothing wrong with making money online. What will cause you to fail is building a website or a blog with the soul purpose of putting ads in the footer to make a quick buck. That just won’t work.

Instead…

Make your first priority something other than making money. Start blogging because you want to become an author, or because you want to stake your claim as an authority in your niche. Do not start your blog to make money – it just won’t work.

4. Being Unoriginal

Another reason that bloggers fail is because they are completely void of unoriginal concepts. Being a successful blogger is not easy, and you’ll have to constantly come up with new and unique ideas to keep your blog interesting to readers.

When bloggers run out of ideas, they’ll look to their industry influencers for ideas. Is there any blogger out there who can claim that they haven’t partially or completely copied an idea from another writer? Probably not. It’s inevitable that content will get duplicated and rewritten, but problems arise when a blog is based on this concept. Blogs need unique content to thrive.

Instead…

It’s easier said than done to come up with unique content for every single post. The reality is, that nearly everything you write will be influenced by something that has already been written. The key is to take your own unique spin on the topic, so while the subject matter itself might not be something fresh and new, but your take on it will be.

5. Giving Up

Giving up on blogging is the easy way out. It’s easy to give up on your site because it’s not producing results, or because it’s not gaining the traction that you’d hoped.

I’ve described to other bloggers before the proverbial “hump” that bloggers must get over before they’ll see nice results on their site. The hump I’m referring to is strictly based on site traffic. When a brand new site launches with no little to no fanfare, traffic will be slow going for a long time. Many bloggers get frustrated and give up.

Instead…

Don’t get discouraged by small traffic numbers! Every blog goes through this in the beginning (unless you have an unlimited budget), and the best blogs are the ones that stick it out. Most bloggers quit before they get over the hump.

Once your blog starts to get noticed in your industry, you’ll start to get more and more attention from other bloggers in the form of links and social mentions. Search engines will follow, and your traffic will increase. Most bloggers don’t make it to this point because they give up before their traffic hopes and dreams are realized.

Final Thoughts

Having high aspirations and low expectations will set you up for success, but will be less painful if your project fails. This is blogging we’re talking about here, not launching a new clothes line. We don’t need to “visualize our success” and set our expectations sky high – we need to temper them. If you’re starting out as a blogger, do so as a hobby. If you approach it expecting nothing in return, you’ll get back more than you ever thought possible.

Pace yourself when you publish content. Too much content too quickly will burn you out. Burnt out writers produce poor content, and readers will start to ignore you. Set up a publishing calendar, and make a commitment to publish a handful of high quality posts each month. If you have time for more, go for it!

Never start a blog with the sole purpose of generating income from your website – monetizing your blog should always take a backseat to your mission. What is the real reason you wanted to start a blog in the first place? Tell your story, and teach others. If you happen to get some ad revenue along the way, consider that a bonus.

Don’t copy others content verbatim, instead gain inspiration from other authors, and put your own unique spin on a topic that’s been written about before.

And finally – don’t give up. Your blogs growth will be slow going at first, don’t get discouraged! Keep plugging away until you get over the hump, and you’ll never look back!

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10 New Places to Find Quality, Free Photos

free-quality-images

free-quality-images

Finding quality images for your website or blog is one thing, but finding quality images that are also free is an entirely different conversation, especially if you don’t want to be sued.

The sad truth is that if you are using images that you don’t own, and are not following the license associated with that image, you are walking a fine and dangerous line. I’ve heard horror stories from a few bloggers who were sued because they used an image without paying for it, sometimes on a blog post that was several years old. They pursued several avenues, but ultimately ended up forking over the fine. It’s a hard lesson to learn, and one that I hope you never have to go through.

So, to help you on your journey to find free, high quality images; here is a list of 10 fresh sites that provide just that. Each site is unique and some have different terms. Make sure you always research an images license before using it, and when in doubt, provide credit!

1. Unsplash

Unsplash is perhaps my favorite on this list. The quality of the photos is extremely impressive, and I would have otherwise expected to pay for these images. The images to choose from range from landscapes, architecture, technology, wildlife and much more. Each photo is obviously the product of a talented photographer, and we get to reap the benefits!

Unsplash is 100%. You can literally take the images and do whatever you want with them, no questions asked. This is as good as it gets. Unsplash provides 10 new photos every 10 days. I only wish there was more sites like this!

2. Gratisography

Gratisography is a project by Ryan McGuire that has some really nice photos that are completely free of copyright restrictions. New photos are added each week.

3. Little Visuals

Little Visuals is an ironic name, as this site gives you some massive images. I’m talking 5000 pixels and wider. It looks like they stick with nature and wildlife themed photos, but all the images are very high quality. Little Visuals provides 7 new images every 7 days (although I don’t believe they’ve updated the site in a while). Subscribe with your email address to get the images sent to your inbox.

Little Visuals uses the Creative Commons license, and allows you to use the images in any way you want.

4. PicJumbo

PicJumbo is a newer free photo site, but it’s just as good as the others. Images are free to download and do with as you please, restriction free. New images are added daily, so make sure you check back frequently!

5. MorqueFile

MorgueFile is a larger site, and does offer paid images from iStock and others, but there are lots of quality free photoes. The MorgueFile license allows you to copy, distribute, transmit the work and to adapt the work, without attribution. The only thing you are prohibited from doing is using the image in a stand alone manner.

6. New Old Stock

New Old Stock is an interesting site that features…you guessed it…vintage photos. These vintage photos are from public archives and are free of any known copyright restrictions – so go nuts! This is my go-to site if I’m working on a project that needs an old time appeal.

7. WeFunction

WeFunction is a design blog written by Liam Mckay, who claims he isn’t much of a photographer, but the free images he posts are awesome. Liam posts small packs of free images that are completely and utterly restriction free. I certainly hope this is something that Liam continues!

8. SuperFamous

SuperFamous posts photos under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. You can use them in any way you’d like, you just have to provide credit. It appears to be another site that isn’t updated frequently or has been abandoned, but there is a large amount of really stunning photos. The photographer clearly likes taking pictures from planes!

9. Death to the Stock Photo

Death to the Stock Photo is a site dedicated to providing you unique and high quality photos, or exactly the opposite of what they consider a “stock” photo. Death to the Stock Photo has their own license, but what it comes down to is unlimited and unrestricted use without required attribution.

In order to take advantage of what they have to offer, you need to sign up with your email address. After doing so, you’ll get great photos emailed to you from different artists. It’s like a birthday present in your inbox.

10. Flickr

How could any free photo list be complete without mentioning Flickr? Flickr is a massive community of photographers and designers, and utilizes Creative Commons licenses, which just means you need to credit the image author, and adhere to any other limitations the author requests. Check the license for the photo before using it!

I’ve linked you to a search for “nature” images, but you can literally run any search you want, there is a nearly endless stockpile of high quality images at your disposal.

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of sites out there that offer royalty-free or Creative Commons licenses for images, but so many of these sites have the “stock” feel to them. Stock is boring, so when I look for images for a blog post or for a new project these are the sites I look to first. There are some amazing artists and photographers out there offering the fruits of their labor for free.

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The Truth About TrueTwit Validation

As a software developer, I try not to stigmatize other organizations and products. It takes a lot of effort to develop software or applications, and I can definitely appreciate the process.

All that said, I hate TrueTwit Validation. You know the one. It pollutes your Twitter private message inbox when you follow new individuals or organizations.

We’ve taken on several clients’ social media campaigns in the past, and every once in a while we’ll come across a Twitter account that is utilizing TrueTwit Validation. It’s not uncommon for marketers to feel overwhelmed with managing an organizations social media efforts, and to look for tools to make their life easier and their work more efficient. TrueTwit promises it’s users three things.

Verify people from robots
Avoid Twitter spam
Save time managing your followers

The problem is, TrueTwit doesn’t really do any of those things.

So what does TrueTwit actually do?

TrueTwit Is a Terrible First Impression

Let’s be honest with each other for a second. When you see those TrueTwit messages appear in your inbox, what is your first thought about your new social media friend? Do you have doubts they are a real person?

Seeing those TrueTwit messages in my inbox gives off a used car salesman vibe. It makes the offender look sleazy, lazy, and uninterested.

Another factor to consider is the scam effect. Because there are so many email and social media scams out there today, most people have been convinced that any suspicious link that is sent to them will lead them to a site that will steal their credit card information and first born son. When these same people see your TrueTwit direct message, do you honestly think they’ll feel safe clicking on it?

TrueTwit Alienates Your Audience

The beauty of Twitter is that anyone can find and follow you. It’s not uncommon for someone to see you chatting with one of their connections, and decide to follow you too. These casual followers are initially interested in what you have to say, but that all changes when they get their direct message from TrueTwit.

Because these followers are casual, it’s very unlikely that they will click through your TrueTwit link and fill out the CAPTCHA. They weren’t that interested in you in the first place. They saw you, thought you might be interested, followed you, and now realize that was a mistake.

TrueTwit Doesn’t “Verify People From Robots”

We put men on the moon, we smash particles together at nearly the speed of light, we can talk with someone on the other side of the planet with a device that is smaller than the palm of your hand. I could go on…

Do you really think that a computer or program can’t figure out a CAPTCHA?

TrueTwit Doesn’t Help “Avoid Twitter Spam”

Because Twitter is an open social platform, one-way relationships are possible. If you have a public account (and you do if you are a business), there is nothing stopping a spambot or a bored individual from spamming your Twitter account. You can’t stop it, there is literally nothing you can do – except ignore it.

TrueTwit doesn’t do anything to prevent this. It can’t.

Just because someone fills out your CAPTCHA and their account is “verified” doesn’t mean they aren’t a spam account. There are plenty of real people out there who will spam you. That lonely girl that keeps sending you messages to look at her pictures? She filled out your CAPTCHA, so she must be legit!

TrueTwit Doesn’t “Save Time Managing Your Followers”

With all the negatives that are layed out above, it’s clear that TrueTwit isn’t saving you any time. TrueTwit sets your social media efforts back, and stunts your growth. That is not what we call “saving time.”

The truth about TrueTwit is that it doesn’t do any of those things. If anything, TrueTwit makes you look like spam, disincentives people to follow you, and stunts your social media growth.

TrueTwit has no redeeming qualities, and will do damage to your social media campaigns.

So to recap, don’t use TrueTwit! If and when we come across clients that are currently using it, it’s always #1 on our list of things to change.

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