Ebooks by TCDavis

 

Double Exposure ebook cover
What might a Vietnam combat veteran discover about himself as he revisits the country he fought in forty two years ago? TCDavis, a pastor turned photographer, and former naval adviser to a South Vietnamese junk base, reveals his answer in Double Exposure: A Veteran Returns to Vietnam, an exciting and thought-provoking memoir of 22 photo-illustrated reflections.  See my video, Returning to Vietnam.
A reader wrote in her Amazon.com review:
“The book will be of interest to anyone who wishes to have a better understanding of the effects of war on the individual and the healing journey that comes after. I also found it interesting to read about the Vietnam that has emerged from all those years of war, a vibrant and prosperus place. I highly recommend this book.”

Kindle version here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008Y2FOS4.

Get other digital reader versions: for Nook, Sony, etc. at Smashwords.com.

Three Free Internet Time Saving Tools

If you visit a lot of websites in your daily work you might like to try these three free internet time saving tools:

  • Instapaper
  • Last Pass
  • Now Do This

Instapaper

clockInstapeper is a free service that instantly copies the content of a webpage you are viewing and pastes that content into a running list of saves at your Instapepr account.  After you have opened your Instapaper account, install the Instapaper extension for your internet browser.

For Firefox use these instructions:  https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/instaright-social-bookmarks/.

For the Safari browser, use these:  http://safariextensions.tumblr.com/post/679928743/instafari-06-09-10.

For the Chrome browser go here:  https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/instapaper/ldjkgaaoikpmhmkelcgkgacicjfbofhh.

For Kindle:  A service similar to Instapaper can be set up using these instructions:  http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/browser_extension_week_send_kindle.

Last Pass

Logging into websites can take a lot of time, especially if you can’t remember where you recorded your password or user name.  Last Pass is a free online password vault which keeps a secure record of your user name and password for whatever websites you want it to remember.  Not only that, when you decide to change a password or user name at any site already in your vault, Last Pass asks whether you want to record the change.  Last Pass provides an option of logging you in automatically as soon as you visit a site.  This saves lots of time!  Skeptics may wonder whether keeping passwords in the cloud is safe. To be as safe as I can be I change my Last Pass password every two weeks and sporadically change other passwords and record the changes in LastPass. With Last Pass you need remember only one password:  your Last Pass one which gives you access to all the others.  MAKE SURE TO WRITE THAT MASTER PASSWORD DOWN and keep the paper in a safe place, because Last Pass does not provide master password retrieval.

Some pointers in crafting your LastPass password:

Don’t use any dictionary words.  These can be easily hacked by powerful computers which run through options exceedingly fast.

Don’t use a password or part of a password from another website. 

Don’t use a password containing your name or your user name. 

Use a short phrase or sentence as a memory aid.  I find that an excellent way to craft a secure password that’s easy for me to remember is to make up a sentence or phrase of about eight to ten words which relates to something very personal, something which no one else is likely to know.  I use the first letter of each word in this sentence or phrase for my password.  Then, I throw in a number, a punctuation mark, and capitalize at least one of the letters.  Then, of course, I write down the password on paper, and also write down the sentence or phrase.  Very soon, by remembering that sentence or phrase I commit my master password to memory.  I repeat this procedure every two weeks to insure that I have done as much as I can to make Last Pass very secure.  I might also mention that I do not use Last Pass to log into any site involving money transactions.  If I get hacked, I don’t want my pocket picked!

Now Do This

Nowdothis.com is a website where you enter to-do items in a window.  As you accomplish an item you click “done” and it comes off the list, showing you the next thing to do in the stack.  Very quick, very easy.  Now Do This works well for me when I pin its tab in my browser (accomplished in Firefox by right clicking on its tab and selecting “pin tab”).  This reduces the width of the tab, and prevents my accidentally closing the tab.  I slide my pinned tabs to the left where I can click on them to see their content.  If I want to close a pinned tab, I right click on it and select “unpin tab.” Then I can close that tab in the usual fashion.

 

SEO Tips for Formatting Blog Posts

Google and SEO

This post gives some SEO tips for formatting your blog posts.

What’s SEO?

SEO stands for “search engine optimization,” the quasi-science recommending how your website can achieve a high ranking in Google search reports.  You want your website to appear in the first page of links when a search term is fed to Google.  Why Google?  Because that’s the search engine that most folks use.  If your site doesn’t make the first Google screen it’s unlikely that searchers will scroll down further to find it.

Nobody knows for sure how the Google search algorithms work.  That’s a proprietary secret. However, there is a consensus among experts that the following measures will help make your site more noticeable:

Establish External Links to Your Website

Establish as many external links to your site as possible in an honest way.  (Google sniffs out cheats and demotes them.)  The previous CyberKen blog post talked about some honest ways to get external links:  Comment on other folks’ blogs, send links to your posts in large social networks, ask friends and colleagues to review your posts, noting the urls.  External links to your site is the single most important factor in raising its Google ranking.  At least, so say the experts.

Choose a Keyword or Phrase for Your Post

Devise a key word or short phrase and put that in:
a.  the title of your post (no more than 67 characters)
b.  the first sentence of the first paragraph of your post’s content.
c.  the url of your post (more about this in my video below about the Yoast SEO plugin.)
d.  the meta description of your post (no more than 120 characters).  The meta description provides approximately three short lines immediately following a live link in a search report.  These lines help a viewer decide whether the content is of sufficient interest to click on the link.  The meta description doesn’t appear on a web page, but is contained in the source code of that page.  Using the Yoast plugin you can edit the meta description.  Again, more about this in the video below.

Use <h2> Tags for Subsections of Your Post

It is rumored that Google indexing computers pay most attention to the title of a post and also to the first 90 characters or so of its content.  Also, they pay attention to sub section headings coded with the <h2> tag.  A post title always gets the <h1> tag. The first level of subdivision below the title gets an <h2> tag.  If your post content could use some first-level subdivisions, make sure to mark them with the <h2> tag.  This will not only make your post more readable, but also more attractive to Google indexing computers.  At least, so say the experts.  The video below demonstrates how to apply an <h2> tag to a subsection of your post.

Assign Tags to Your Post

The final SEO tip is to attach internet search terms, called tags, to your posts.  When you have finished writing a post, think what single words or very short phrases people might use to find it.  The WordPress editing window provides a tag section where you can assign tags.  Try to make your tags specific enough that they will  help searchers find your content.  For instance, if you have written about Robins, it is better to use “Robin” as a tag instead of “bird” or “nature”.  These latter terms also apply of course, but they are so general that they will be of little use in guiding searchers to your material.

Click on the right facing arrow below to see the how-to video.

 

Ten Basic Tips for Blogging with WordPress

This post will be of interest to new bloggers in general, but particularly to those who are blogging with WordPress.

wordpress-logo_thumb.jpgThe word “blog” derives from the words, “web” and “log”. If you’re new to blogging you might want to keep the following ten tips in mind:

1. Write a blog post regularly, and as often as you can, because blogging is the very best way to attract new visitors to your website. Frequent posting of fresh material, especially if it is useful and maybe even entertaining, will keep readers returning. Their clicks will raise your site’s ranking in Google search stacks. A higher ranking increases the likelihood that people who have never visited your site will find it via Google.

2. Write with a breezy, personal style. People prefer a personal style to an academic one. Don’t get so relaxed, though, that you get sloppy. Check your spelling and grammar. Errors of that sort will tarnish your appeal.

3. Images are more efficient than words for getting a message across. It’s good to include at least one image in every post, an image that sets the theme and tone for what you’re writing about. Use your own photos or scanned images, or get them from a stock photo company like istockphoto.com, or from the public domain. Google “public domain photos” and you’ll find several sources. Photographers posting at Flickr.com sometimes will grant permission to use their photos. Open a free account there and use Flickr mail to contact them.

4. Include at least one external link in your post, a live link to another url, which when a viewer clicks on it takes him/her to that other page. Search engines reward web pages that are connected to off-site pages. However, don’t put more than two or three external links in your post, for two reasons: First, they may divert your readers’ attention away from your own site, and you want to keep them there as long as possible. Secondly, if a web page has a lot of external links this actually decreases its ranking in search reports. So, a few external links is good, more than few, not.

5. Encourage your blog readers to leave comments. I suggest you install the WordPress plugin, Comment Luv, which will make commenting very easy. Monitor the comments. Weed out ones that aren’t respectful of others’ right to hold differing opinions or are obvious spam (not relevant to the discussion). Keep a comment thread going by thanking your readers and expanding on their contributions.

6. Visit blogs like yours and leave comments there. Commentors are often invited to leave the url of their own websites. That’s where you type in your site’s domain name. This will raise the ranking of your site, because indexing computers use external links to a site as the key measure of its popularity on the internet.

7. Make friends with other bloggers writing on similar topics to yours, and invite them to write a guest post on your blog. This is a win-win. The guest writer gets to advertise his/her own blog at your site, and you likely will gain some new readers from his/her loyal followers.

8. Use social networks to alert your readers to new posts. Do you have an account in large social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or LinkedIn? These are your best distribution points for new blog posts. Every page on the internet has a url, a unique resource locator, (its address on the internet). The url is found in the top window of your web browser (Internet Explorer, or Safari, or Firefox, etc.) When your new post’s page is displayed, highlight its url and copy it to your clipboard. Then check in to your account at Facebook, (for instance), and announce your new post with a brief description of its content, finishing your message with the url from your clipboard. If you use Twitter it’s best to shorten the url. This will leave more characters for your tweet. First visit a url shortening service like www.bit.ly, get the shortened version of your blog post’s url, and use that for your tweet.

9. Email your best friends by individual email notes about a recent post, especially if it contains a subject which you know interests them. People usually read notes addressed to them individually, but sometimes don’t read ones sent to groups.

10. If you’ve been blogging for a while you may be running out of material, so it’s good to keep a folder containing ideas for new posts, perhaps text notes to yourself, or bookmarks of juicy stuff you’ve come across recently. You could subscribe to Google alerts on a particular subject, I write an interfaith blog, so I subscribe to the subject “interfaith,” and every week Google sends me an email with the urls of the most visited web pages during that week containing the key word, “interfaith.” This not only stimulates my imagination, but lets me know what the recent internet trends are, and trends are important, because readers follow trends. Man, do they!

P.S.– In the next CyberKenBlog post I’ll cover some specific formatting tips to make your blog posts more noticeable to Google indexing computers. Such technical tips pertain to a discipline called Search Engine Optimization, SEO. I’ll include a video which will demonstrate how to use the very popular SEO plugin by Yoast. Stay tuned!

— TCDavis