4 Fun & Informative Websites You May Not Know About

The Internet. Regardless of whether your connection is an old dial-up connection, a satellite Internet setup from a company like www.hughesnetinternet.net, or a high-speed cable connection, the internet is like a bottomless bucket of cool (and a lot of not-so-cool) stuff. If you’re like me, you likely have a handful of sites that you visit on a daily basis.

Ready to dig down deeper into the bottomless bucket and find some more cool sites to add to your daily list? Then check out these 4 sites. They are fun AND informative, so you can be entertained and get smarter at the same time. What could be better?

ArtofManliness.com
This blog features an array of well-researched, informative and well-written articles teaching young men to adopt and embody the classical virtues of manliness – including self-reliance, chivalry, respect for others and intellectual curiosity. Although the material is generally aimed towards men, much of the content can be construed as “how to be a good person.” Thus, the site is friendly to both genders and offers up posts on a range of subjects including history, finance, relationships and health.

Duolingo.com
This site is a free resource for those who are interested in learning another language. The interactive design takes subscribers through a series of progressive course modules. As the user masters new language concepts, they are presented with more difficult ones until completion. The Duolingo project is also aimed at helping translate the web, so users participate in a larger-scale initiative while learning their language of choice in an interactive, intuitive format.

Ninite.com
Ninite is a resource that enables visitors to download and install the most popular software from around the web – all from one home screen. Whether you need new web, security, media or productivity software, Ninite has it. This is the perfect resource for those who work with computers or who like to try new applications as they become available.

MentalFloss.com
This site, as the name would imply, serves up all sorts of informative content that stretches the reader’s imagination and intellectual curiosity. Whether its creative lists and countdowns, articles on randomly obscure yet interesting information, interesting video blogs or challenging quizzes, MentalFloss is a great destination for those who like to learn and be entertained while doing so.

Have you visited these sites before? If not, try them out. If so, what are some other interesting sites that most people don’t know about?

Facebook's Promoted Posts: Good, Bad, Or No Big Deal?

Facebook is rolling out a feature that allows individuals to pay a small fee (currently $7) to have one of their posts display more often in their friends’ feeds. Most of the user feedback I’ve seen has been negative, and can be divided into two (related) categories:

Complaint Category 1: Greedy Facebook
This complaint sounds something like this: “Facebook is already making enough money from ads, they are just greedy/desperate, probably because their IPO didn’t go well.”

Complaint Category 2: You’re Ruining It, Facebook
This complaint was nicely and succinctly stated by Josh Constine: “I worry that Promoted Posts could change the atmosphere of Facebook from one where the most beloved content gets seen most to one where the rich can dominate the news feed.”

Good, Bad, Or No Big Deal?
I think the move is possibly bad, but probably is just not a big deal. Here’s why:

  • I expect very few Facebook users have the desire to pay $7 to promote a post. I’m positive it will be such a small minority of posts that get promoted, not enough to seriously impact my usage of the site.
  • Facebook doesn’t need many promoted posts. According to the TechCrunch article linked above, “Facebook could nearly double its revenue per user if it could get each US user to promote just one post a year”. If I have 300 friends, that means I would see less than 1 promoted post per day.
  • If I have friends who are “spamming” me with unwanted promoted posts, I can always unfriend them or hide them from my news feed.
  • Facebook provides a free service, which they need to monetize. Personally, I’d prefer to see 1 or 2 promoted posts per day (from friends I choose to be connected with), than to see more ads from companies I may or may not be interested in.
  • Facebook does need to be careful that they don’t turn into a site that is dominated by ads and promoted posts. (Remember those search engines that were 100% ads? Nobody likes that…)

What do you think? Are promoted posts good, bad, or no big deal?

Recent Hires Share 16 Online Tools & Tactics They Used To Get Hired

“The conventional approach is not always the best way, especially when the deck is stacked against you and failure is not an option. Sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands and create a new way.”
~Sue Kauffman

Searching for a job can be a slow, discouraging process, especially if you’re limited to traditional strategies such as newspaper job ads, Monster.com, and Craigslist.

However, if you are looking to land your dream job (and land it quickly!), there are a variety of proactive strategies and online tools that you could be using to help boost your chances. Here we have compiled 16 job-landing  strategies, shared with us by recent hires in a series of interviews.

1) Use industry-specific job sites

Peri Berger, who was recently hired as a lawyer in New York City, found that he got more interviews via lawyer-specific job sites than from a headhunter or conventional job boards. Use Google or Bing to search for job sites in your industry.

2) Register directly with companies

Peri also shared the following tip: “A lot of large companies (Pepsi comes to mind, for example) allow you to register on their sites and receive updates when jobs you are interested in become available.” Find out if prominent companies in your industry or companies that you’re interested in working for allow you to signup for email alerts for new job listings.

3) Get more recommendations on LinkedIn

LinkedIn recommendations matter – both when it comes to getting an interview, and for the actual hiring decision. Christina Duren, a Marketing Manager at JDi Data Corporation, noticed that several hiring managers specifically mentioned her LinkedIn recommendations during an interview. LinkedIn makes it easy to invite your connections to write a recommendation for you, so take a few minutes today to ask for recommendations!

4) Make more connections on LinkedIn

Connecting with more people that you know on LinkedIn means you’re more likely to have a common connection when a hiring manager views your profile. Nishadha Silva, an Internet Marketing Specialist at Cinergix, reports that he was hired, in part, because he and the CEO of Cinergix had several contacts in common on LinkedIn. (Adding people you don’t know on LinkedIn isn’t recommended, though – this might backfire on you if the hiring manager contacts your connections.)

5) Use Rapportive to help you cold-email and/or connect socially

Rapportive is a handy Gmail add-on that shows you the social media profiles of the person you’re emailing. Smit Patel discovered another way it can help job seekers, too. If you’re trying to connect with the executives or hiring managers at a company, you can try guessing their email and typing it into Gmail. If you guess correctly, Rapportive will confirm your guess by displaying the name and social profiles of the person you’re trying to reach.

6) Use a job aggregator

Steve Guidry, a freelance Video Engineer from Texas, recommends that job searchers use job posting aggregators such as www.jobrapido.com. Steve says that he uses Job Rapido (and similar sites) regularly to find freelance jobs, but it’s also great for finding full-time employment.

7) Create a list of industry contacts on Facebook

Sue Kauffman was looking for a job as an in-house PR specialist, a position she says employers often fill by promoting from within or hiring friends. Without the necessary connections, she found that job sites, recruiters, LinkedIn, want ads, and Craigslist were fruitless endeavors. So she started pursuing contacts by creating a custom list on Facebook of all the PR people that she could find and network. The result? Sue found a job via her Facebook list in about 2.5 weeks. You don’t have to limit yourself to Facebook, either – try creating a spreadsheet of relevant contacts along with whatever contact information you have for them – Facebook, email, phone, etc.

8) Setup an online portfolio

John Lee found an online portfolio was a critical key to obtaining his current job as Chief of Operations with netcamshop.com. While Online portfolios are used most often by marketers and designers, they are effective for everyone from programmers to carpenters.

9) Get creative

Sometimes you need something more creative than just a resume to stand out from the crowd and demonstrate what you can do. Chris Carroll found a competitive advantage by creating a website with a complete online portfolio and a funny intro video. Chris says that his website and video were very helpful in getting his current job.

10) Setup and post to a blog

A blog is a great way to showcase your knowledge and expertise to employers. (Be sure to include your contact information, and note that you are available for hire.) You never know who might see your blog post. Nishadha Silva made a post on his blog about social media in Sri Lanka, which led to an interview and a job offer from a company in Australia!

11) Use basic SEO techniques

Utilize basic search engine optimization strategies, such as placing relevant keyword phrases (such as your desired job title and location) in the title tag of your online resume. If nobody finds your blog or resume online, you’re unlikely to get interviews or job offers. Check out SEOmoz’s On Page Factors for tips and pointers on optimizing a webpage.

12) Use social media to facilitate in-person meetings

Sometimes the web is just a starting point, and you need to network face-to-face to find a job. Laura Gardner, a Marketing & PR Manager, shared how this strategy worked for her: “I followed industry leaders in my city using Twitter and figured out who I wanted to meet. A friend/mentor (who I also met through Twitter) suggested I comb through his LinkedIn connections, which led to me having coffee with my future boss (who I had followed on Twitter as well).”

13) Add a QR code to your resume

Caitlin Heck, who recently landed a job at a PR, Advertising and Marketing agency in Phoenix, says that she was hired specifically because she used a QR code on her resume. Adding a QR code to your resume is both functional (you can link it to your online portfolio) and strategic (it helps you stand out from the crowd).

14) Be an online networking sleuth

If you want to work at a specific company, use your detective and networking skills to learn more about the company and make connections with people who work there. Oly Rillera shared some of the tactics she used to land a job at Slickdeals, after sending in her resume and cover letter didn’t elicit a response:

  • Connect with company executives on LinkedIn
  • Use Whois lookup if the company’s phone number isn’t listed on their site
  • Call the HR department and ask for an interview
  • Read about and connect with the company in every way you can: Twitter, Facebook, traditional and online media presence

15) Sign up for a LinkedIn PRO account

Christina Duren, a Marketing Manager at JDi Data Corporation, said that a LinkedIn PRO account offers several features that helped her get hired:

  • Job applications from PRO accounts are automatically highlighted.
  • See who has viewed your profile – this helps you learn more about hiring managers that are viewing your profile.
  • InMails to proactively contact hiring managers that aren’t in your network.

16) Use Twitter to learn about job opportunities in real time

Follow lots of leaders in your industry and use Twitter search to find out about job opportunities before others. You can also use TweetDeck to create custom columns to display the most relevant tweets.

More tactics…

What online tools and tactics have you used to help you land a job? Tell us in the comments and we’ll add the best suggestions here.

12 Of My Favorite Google Chrome Extensions

Google Chrome is my browser of choice because of its speed and its integration with Google services. Chrome does a terrific job of syncing your browser information between computers and it feels quick when you’re using it. While using the browser without any extensions is a great experience, it’s worth taking a gander at some of the terrific extensions out there. Here are my favorites.

Adblock is a classic extension, ridding you of those annoying flash advertisements that like to crash your browser and ruin your reading experience. Of course, you should show a little love for the sites that are respectful with their ads by disabling it for those domains. Like our blog.

Boomerang for Gmail is an extension I recently discovered which extends the capability of Gmail. Boomerang sends reminders if you don’t hear back for a specified length of time. You can also use the extension to queue up messages to send later, perhaps at a more reasonable hour if you’re up late.

Cache is a great way to see a site that has been taken down by a burst of traffic from Reddit or HackerNews. The extension simply shows you what Google’s cache has for the webpage you’re on.

Facebook Disconnect is for those who are perturbed by the all-knowing Facebook. This extension prevents the social network from tracking your movements around the web.

Google Voice is an extension for everyone who is using Google Voice (if you’re not, you should be!). The small tool allows you to make calls and send messages easily and simply.

Pocket is a way to read things later. I used Instapaper previously but switched over to Pocket after experiencing some problems and haven’t looked back. The Pocket extension saves things to read (or watch) later on your mobile or desktop devices.

Lazarus is a tool that saves what you write in forms. Any time you write a really great review or fill out a long form only to experience a reload or crash, Lazarus has you covered.

ListMyTabs is a simple extension that I use more and more to easily create a bulleted list of the tabs I have open, hyperlinked and properly formated.

New Tabs Always Last is an easy way to preserve a preference I have with the order of new tabs appearing at the end of the list of tabs open.

RSS Subscription Extension (by Google) places an easy way to subscribe to RSS in the URL bar.

Tweet Button for Chrome (by Shareaholic) replaced my bitly extension as an easy way to tweet neat links.

Youtube MP3 + Video Downloader I use occasionally to quickly grab a specific video or tune.

What browsers extension do you use? Let us know in the comments!

Photo credit: markknol

Google Voice Alternatives

We’ve have covered Google Voice before on Digitizd (here and here) and since then it’s gotten even better. The service gives you a number (or allows you to port your current number over to the system) and then gives you the ability to make free calls and send texts from your computer or phone. While Google Voice is the service of choice for this author, there are quite a few other respectable options available.

Phonebooth Free
While Google Voice was designed primarily for personal use, Phonebooth Free is a worthy alternative for businesses and for people looking for more capability. The distinguishing features this service offers are the auto-attendant and extensions. Of course, if you’re looking to use this for personal use, you can still enjoy using voicemail transcriptions (50 per month), a free local phone number with minutes (200 free, then 3 cents per minute), and call routing. Call routing enables you to have specific phones only ring at certain times (for instance, your mobile phone will only ring on the weekends). Phonebooth also has a paid option ($20 per month per user) with two free phone numbers, unlimited minutes and transcriptions.

OpenVBX & Twilio
For more tech savy users, there’s OpenVBX, which is also primarily designed for business but can be used for personal use. I discovered this while investigating Dreamhost’s one-click install feature. OpenVBX integrates with Twilio, which I like because of its pricing and customizability. In a short time, I was able to set up a phone number that would present callers with an elaborate phone tree ensuring that I’d never actually have to speak with someone on the phone again. Thank goodness. For those who actually want to speak on the phone, OpenVBX paired with Twilio offers an astonishing amount of capability, from text to speech and speech to text options to conference options, all in an easy drag and drop interface.

Line2
Now, for someone who just wants a second line, we have the aptly named Line2. Line2 is an app for Android and iOS. The standard plan costs $9.95 a month, giving you unlimited calling and texting inside North America. There’s also a free plan that allows unlimited calling and texting to other Line2 customers, and a $14.95 business plan.

Sendhub
Sendhub is a service like Line2 that gives you another number with an emphasis on group messaging. However, the service also gives you 1,000 text messages and 60 voice minutes for free each month.

textPlus
If you’re just sending text messages, textPlus makes more sense, giving you unlimited text messages from an app on your phone.

Photo credit: couleurs gm

Google Now Lets You Handwrite Your Search Queries

Google has just announced the release of Handwrite, a feature that allows smartphone and tablet users handwrite their search query (using their finger) instead of typing it.

Handwrite enables you to search by just writing letters with your finger most anywhere on your device’s screen – there’s no keyboard that covers half of the screen and no need for hunt-and-peck typing.

Here’s a video that shows how the feature works:

Useful, or cool-but-useless?

I did try out handwrite on my Android smart phone. It’s pretty cool (it even works with autosuggest), but I question how useful it will be. I find Google’s search by voice feature useful, especially when I need driving directions on my Android. But I’m a bit skeptical about searching via handwriting. I find that typing is faster, easier, and more precise than writing letters with my finger.

What do you think? Will you use Google’s handwrite feature?

7 Easy Google Search Tricks

Not finding what you want by just typing a keyword into Google? Try one of these search tips to help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

1) Find out about a photo with reverse image search

Get an image via email or Facebook and want to know where it came from or what it is? Try Google’s Reverse Image Search – just upload an image and Google will return information and webpages about that image. Here’s how to do it:

Go to Google Image Search and click on the camera icon in the search bar:

You can then search by pasting an image URL or uploading an image, after which you’ll see results like this:

2) Filter results by date

Looking for recent, up-to-date information on a certain topic? Filter search results by date so Google only returns webpages that have been updated recently. Here’s how to do it:

After you do a Google search, click “Show search tools” in the left sidebar, then click on one of these links:

3) Find businesses near you with map search

Not only will Google maps let you find businesses in the city you’re in, you can search for businesses near the specific building or address you are at. Here’s how to do it:

Go to Google Maps and search for “keyword near location” like this:

4) Get a definition

Need a definition for a word? Instead of going to a dictionary, just type define:word into Google, like this:

5) Use Google Shopping to find products for sale at local stores

Not only can Google help you find local businesses, Google can help you find specific products (including pricing and user reviews) at local stores. Here’s how to do it:

Go to Google Shopping and do a search for the product you want. Once the results are displayed, click to enter your zip code:

Once you enter your location, you can click on any product to view nearby stores that sell it:

6) Get info from other people in real time

This isn’t even a Google search tip, but I couldn’t resist including it in this article. If you want to know what’s going on just minutes or seconds ago, use Twitter search.

Just to give an example…a couple weeks ago I couldn’t get Gmail to load, and I wanted to know whether it was a problem with my PC or ISP, or if others were experiencing the same problem. I did a quick search on Twitter and found out that a lot of other people were tweeting about Google being down.

7) Use advanced search for more options

Need more options? Try Google’s advanced search options by clicking on the gear icon in search results:

Then you’ll get an advanced search page with tons of options like this:

Google offers a ton of features and advanced options. I just included a few of the tricks that I think are the easiest, most useful ones. What are your favorite Google search tips and tricks?