Archive for December, 2011

By Emily Sanderson  

The Holland Code theory of determining the right career path for you is a theory that is incorporated into many of the best career tests available online. Originally developed by John Holland in 1957, the theory identifies your personality type and your ideal work environments.

The Holland Code consists of six General Occupational Themes, including Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional (RIASEC). Your Holland Code is usually represented by two or three letters – the themes in which you score the highest. For example, if you score the highest in Artistic but score moderately high in Investigative and Social, your Holland Code will be AIS. The following is a list of characteristics associated with each personality type.

  • Realistic individuals like to work with tools and are mechanically gifted. They are practical and value things that you can see, touch and use.
  • Investigative individuals are gifted in math and science. They are precise and intellectual.
  • Artistic individuals are creative and may have gifts in drama, music, art or creative writing. They are expressive, original and independent.
  • Social individuals like to be around people and are gifted in teaching, counseling, nursing or providing information. They are generally friendly and trustworthy.
  • Enterprising individuals are good leaders and persuaders and they are natural salespeople. They are ambitious and sociable.
  • Conventional individuals like things to be orderly and prefer to do things in a set plan. They are good with numbers and maintaining records.

The relationships between the Holland Code’s six personality types are represented in a hexagonal diagram. Realistic personalities are most closely associated with Investigative and Conventional personalities. On the other side of the diagram is Social, which is most closely associated with Artistic and Enterprising personalities.

Generally, you should avoid careers associated with the personality type that is on the opposite side of the diagram from your dominant personality. “Investigative persons generally avoid leading, selling or persuading people, whereas, Enterprising people are just the opposite,” says Lawrence Jones, professor emeritus at North Carolina State University. He is also the director of The Career Key, which administers a test based on the Holland Code.

It is rare for people to score high in personality types that are on opposing sides of the diagram from each other. Opposite personality types include Realistic and Social, Conventional and Artistic, as well as Investigative and Enterprising. Professor Jones says he has what he calls an inconsistent personality pattern himself. He is very strong in Realistic and also Social.

“Patterns like these are not seen very often. The theory (and common sense) would predict that people with patterns like these have more difficulty making career decisions and, possibly, ‘fitting in’ to a particular work environment,” Jones says.

However, inconsistent personality patterns can provide unique benefits. “At times, I did not feel as if I fit very well in this job. The students rated me as a good teacher, but not outstanding,” he continues. “Fortunately, there is an Investigative side to my personality. This, together with my Realistic side, motivated me to do research directed to practical outcomes: ‘How can I use counseling psychology to help people?’ My personality has led me in direction and has given me opportunities in my work and life that my Social co-workers did not have or were not interested in.”

Some career assessment tests that use the Holland Code theory include Jones’s The Career Key, My Career Profile, the Career Planner and the Strong Interest Inventory. Some of the tests are informal and some are formal. Richard Bolles includes an informal version of a Holland Code test in his book “What Color is Your Parachute?” Called the Party Exercise, the test has only two questions, but it still provides fairly accurate results.

You will do best to work in an environment that is consistent with your Holland Code. Career tests that properly use this theory offer profound information that can direct you in a career path where you will be more likely to achieve success.

At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don’t Have To.™

The writings of Lawrence K. Jones on The Career Key’s website and CPP’s website were used as sources in this article.



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By Emily Sanderson

Pursuing a vocational career path starts with completing a focused educational program after high school, whether it is a two-year associate’s degree or a shorter program. But schooling for a vocational career costs money, which you may not have. After you have researched your eligibility for various private grants and scholarships and have applied for them, you can also apply for government financial aid.

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is a program that verifies your eligibility for financial aid. Your eligibility is based on the following factors:

  • Demonstrated Financial Need
    The government reviews your tax forms, or the tax forms of your parents if you are still listed as a dependent of them, and other income documents you provide. Your financial need is based on the cost attending the school you wish to attend minus the amount that you or your family will be able to contribute to your education, including tuition, books, school supplies, housing and other expenses related to your education.
  • U.S. Citizenship
    Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen, and have a valid Social Security Number.
  • Selective Service Registration
    Registration with the Selective Service is required by law for all males ages 18-25. Although there is no longer a draft in the U.S. military, males must still register in case of a national emergency.
  • High School Diploma
    Must have a high school diploma or GED equivalent, or you must have passed an ability-to-benefit test.
  • Academic Progress
    Get good grades in college. Each grant or loan has different requirements in terms of what grade point average you need to maintain.
  • School Participation
    The school you wish to attend must participate in government financial aid programs. For best results, choose a school that is the most affordable in relation to your circumstances.

The following are the different kinds of financial aid grants and loans that eligible students could receive by the federal government during the 2010-11 school year.

  • Federal Pell Grant
    If you are eligible, you may receive up to two consecutive awards in a year. Typically they are awarded only to undergraduates, although there are some exceptions. Grant amounts range from $600 to $5,550.
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
    These grants are for undergraduates with exceptional financial need. Pell Grant recipients are given the grants first. Grant amounts range from $100 to $4,000.
  • Academic Competitiveness Grant
    This is a newer program for students in their first or second year of college or a certificate program. As of the 2010-11 school year, to be eligible in the first year, a student must have received a high school diploma after Jan. 1, 2006, and students in the second year must have completed their diploma after Jan. 1, 2005. In the first year, students may receive up to $750, and students in the second year may receive up to $1,300.
  • Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant
    For students who are studying to become elementary or secondary education teachers. The grant does not need to be repaid if the student completes the program and fulfills a service obligation in a high-need field. Undergraduate students may receive up to $4,000 a year, not to exceed $16,000. Graduate students may receive up to $8,000.
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
    This is for students who are not eligible for a Pell Grant whose parent or guardian died while in military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after Sept. 1, 2001. Students must have been less than 24 years old at the time of their parent’s or guardian’s death.
  • Federal Work-Study
    Program that encourages the employment of undergraduate and graduate students either on or off campus for at least federal minimum wage.
  • Federal Perkins Loan
    Loan offered to students by the college they attend.
  • Direct PLUS Loan
    For parents of dependent undergraduate students and for graduate and professional students. As the loans are unsubsidized, the borrower is responsible for all interest.
  • Subsidized Direct Stafford Loan
    The U.S. government will pay interest on the loan until six months after the student finishes school. They will also pay for interest through grace periods. Students are given a grace period of one year in which they can hold off on making monthly loan payments but only with permission from the loan administrator.
  • Unsubsidized Direct Stafford Loan
    Borrower must pay all interest for the loan. Payments begin six months after students finish school. Students may take a grace period of one year in which they can hold off from making monthly loan payments but only with permission from the loan administrator.

Stafford loans often carry a mix of both subsidized and unsubsidized portions. Loan administrators often consolidate student loans that are subsidized and unsubsidized an that are from different school years into one chunk which can be paid in one monthly payment and have one interest rate.

Although some career paths do not require the completion of formal education, for a vocational career, you will need enough money to attend college or a certificate program from a combination of money you can earn yourself, receive from family, or get through scholarships or government grants. But even if you are eligible to receive a federal loan, make sure that you will be able to pay the money back with the salary you expect to receive in your vocational career.

Don’t be discouraged if you would like to pursue a vocational career, or even a professional career, but education after high school is not affordable to you. After researching local and national scholarships from businesses, nonprofit organizations, schools and government agencies that you are eligible for, you can still apply for government financial aid that will award you based on need.

At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don’t Have To.™


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By Emily Sanderson  

“I have a spelling checker,
It came with my PC;
It plainly marks four my revue
Mistakes I cannot sea.
I’ve run this poem threw it,
I’m sure your please two no,
It’s letter perfect in its weigh,
My checker tolled me sew.”

As a poem posted on the Open Directory Project (above) indicates, no matter how powerful your writing enhancement software is, a computer just can’t tell exactly what you are trying to say. Only a skilled and experienced human editor can do that, but software can help. We recommend that while using your grammar software, you consult the variety of free online writing resources available that will help you write well. The following are 10 websites that provide grammar guides, style guides, writing tutorials, English usage tools and other resources.

  1. The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)
    Purdue University, located in West Lafayette, Indiana, offers the most comprehensive, free online writing lab we found. It includes tutorials to strengthen your grammar, punctuation, spelling and sentence structure. The Purdue OWL provides tutorials designed for adults learning English as a second language and helps people prepare for taking the GED, the test that adults must pass to receive their high school diploma. In addition, it includes a program called Community Writing and Education Station, which provides writing instruction to working adults.
  2. William Strunk’s “The Elements of Style” Online
    “The Elements of Style” is the most widely recognized English usage, composition and form book on the market today. It is now available for free online on Bartleby’s Great Books Online website, although you can expect to receive a lot of pop-up ads in the process. The small book is only 105 pages and 8-inches by 5-inches in size, which is a testament to its conciseness.
  3. Jack Lynch’s Guide to Grammar and Style
    Jack Lynch provides an online writer’s guide as a companion to his book, “The English Language: A User’s Guide.” The list is designed with an alphabetical list of terms and phrases that he addresses which is organized alphabetically with a link to each letter of the alphabet.
  4. Paul Brians’ Common Errors in English Usage
    Paul Brians is an emeritus professor of English at Washington State University who has put together an online writing index of usage tips to complement his book with the same title.
  5. EnglishPage.com
    This online writing reference provides extensive free tutorials and dictionaries for teens and adults who are learning English as a second language. You’ll find tutorials on a variety of subjects such as verb tenses, prepositions, irregular verbs, conditionals and gerunds. It also provides a “Reading Room” with links to free online newspapers, magazines, books, and reference materials, as well as a “Listening Lounge” of radio recordings of individuals speaking English. The website is produced by Language Dynamics.
  6. Dartmouth Writing Program
    The online writing program at Dartmouth College provides resources for college students, professors and writing tutors.
  7. The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    The Handouts and Links page on the online writing center’s website includes a plethora of tips for writing papers, instructions on using proper citation and descriptions of different kinds of documents such as abstracts, book reviews, application essays and business letters. It also contains guidelines for writing in various disciplines such as anthropology, history and the sciences.
  8. The University of Kansas Writing Center
    The KU Writing Center located in Lawrence, Kansas, includes guidelines for MLA, APA and ASA formats, the format for bibliographies and outlines, as well as guidelines for writing formal essays, constructing thesis statements and prewriting strategies. The online writing center is geared for college students, especially undergraduates who are getting familiar with the formats and styles required for papers they submit to college professors.
  9. St. Cloud State University’s Literacy Education Online (LEO)
    This website is designed for adults who are learning to read and write, whether their native language is English or another language. Although the homepage is quite extensive and somewhat difficult to access the particular info you may be looking for, the online writing center is packed with helpful tips.
  10. Dictionary.com Style Guide
    Dictionary.com, a popular online dictionary and thesaurus, provides a style guide that includes formats for proper punctuation, capitalization, italicization and underlining. It also contains the proper format to use for citing sources. The online writing reference offers a variety of other helpful resources, such as common abbreviations and weights and measures.

It’s nice to know that several free online writing resources are available at our fingertips. Whether you are a high school or college student, you are a working adult or you are learning English as a second language, you can find an online writing resource website that contains helpful writing tips.

At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don’t Have To.™


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How HDMI Cables Work

By Emily Sanderson

HDMI cables were first developed in 2003, and they have evolved over the past decade to provide a universal connection that combines both audio and visual channels into one interface. HDMI, which stands for high-definition multimedia interface, supports the connection between a device such as a Blu-ray player or cable box and a flat-screen HDTV or projector. The cables are also used for audio equipment such as mixers, recording systems and speakers.

The cable was developed by a partnership of some major electronics companies, including Hitachi, Matsushita (the parent company of Panasonic), Philips, Silicon Image, Sony, Thomson (the parent company of RCA) and Toshiba, which sought to establish a standard connection in the industry. HDMI cables use the same technology as DVI cables. DVI, or digital visual interface, is the digital connection standard in the PC environment. HDMI simply takes DVI and adds an audio component, support for a different color space and a few other components – all in a smaller connector. HDMI cables have become so well recognized that PCs and monitors sold today come with both an HDMI port and a DVI port from which to choose.

Prior to HDMI cables, each electronics company used various analog connections such as VGA, radio frequency and coaxial cable. HDMI combines video and audio interfaces into one connection, which simplifies the installation process of a home-entertainment system. The digital cable also substantially improves the quality of the picture and sound for everyone by providing the first standardized compact interface for transmitting this digital data in an uncompressed format.

Inside HDMI cables are conductors for both the audio and visual components. Both audio and visual components also have an audio return channel, which increases the speed and efficiency of their signals. Most conductors and the solder used to meld the conductors and connectors together are composed oxygen-free, high-purity copper, although some use silver as a solder. Silver and copper are the metals with the highest conductivity properties, but they also corrode when exposed to the atmosphere. The green tarnishing in copper and the dark gray tarnish in silver that can happen over time would affect the metals’ conductivity. When the copper and silver that are used inside a cable are the highest grade possible, they have less chance of oxidizing or corroding over time.

On the outside, the standard cable connectors consist of 19 pins. The best HDMI cables coat the pins and external cap with 24-karat gold – a metal that resists corrosion very well and acts as a protector. Various materials are used for the external sheath that extends the length of the cable but these usually consist of various thicknesses of durable PVC plastic. Shorter cables can be more flexible, but longer cables, such as those used for in-wall installation, must be firmer to maintain the connection. HDMI cables were designed for long distances, and the best cables will support a connection up to 10 meters (32.8 feet) without the use of a repeater, a device that works to extend the signal.

HDMI cables have evolved over the past decade. The type A version of a high-speed HDMI 1.4 cable has a minimum bandwidth of 10.2 Gbps (gigabits per second) and supports a 1080p, high-definition screen resolution. However, the best cables support 3D and other advanced color spaces, which require a higher bandwidth and resolution. Mini HDMI cables, the type C version, support portable devices. They were designed under the HDMI 1.3 specification – an earlier version of the cables that support 720p. Mini cables have smaller connectors, but they still contain the 19-pin design of the larger cables.

Many of the cables available today also include Ethernet, which provides an internet connection in addition to the audio and visual components. The Ethernet connection does not affect the audio-visual components of the cable. As many devices that use HDMI cables today have the ability to connect to the internet, the Ethernet component simply eliminates the need for an additional cable or wireless connection. However, HDMI cables with Ethernet only work with devices that support the technology.

The best HDMI cables are future-proofed for technologies just on the horizon. The cables have standardized the uncompressed, audio-visual digital connection. They are used by many electronics devices today and have improved the picture and sound experience for everyone.

At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don’t Have To.™


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By Emily Sanderson  

A Facebook fan page, which is free to create in Facebook, lets you establish a group, publicize a cause or market your business through the largest referral network available. You can link to your website and share photos, video feed, or RSS feed from your blog directly to your Facebook page.

Facebook has survived where many other social-media sites have failed. The social network is appealing because of its security measures that allow you to limit the access of your personal information to friends and family only.

Individuals from teenagers to grandparents maintain Facebook accounts because they are universal and can be used for all kinds of communications and entertainment. Additionally, using Facebook’s relaxed, casual environment is easier and more inviting than sending someone an email. You can use Facebook to find old friends and check out new friends, send private messages or make a comment on someone’s Wall.

“Our motto is not to rebuild your website within Facebook,” says Jim Belosic, a co-founder of ShortStack, a company that provides do-it-yourself Facebook templates and web hosting for fan pages.

Instead, the Facebook application serves as a marketing tool to get the word out about your cause, product or service. It is even possible to link to PayPal or another merchant service through Facebook using these applications, although web developers recommend conducting critical business functions on an independent website.

Facebook Fan Page Tips
As we conducted a review of services like ShortStack, we learned a few tips about building a Facebook fan page that we share here that will really enhance your setup.

It’s easy to start a Facebook fan page. Simply click on the Pages tab on the left side of your Facebook account. Then click the Create a Page button at the top of your screen. Choose from six different general types of pages, including:

  • Local business or place
  • Company, organization or institution
  • Brand or product
  • Artist, band or public figure
  • Entertainment
  • Cause or community

Select a category in the dropdown field. Then, in the next box, enter the name of your page. Click on the “I agree to Facebook Pages Terms” button then click Get Started. It’s that easy.

Along the left side of your fan page, you will see a few tabs including Wall, Info and Photos. A do-it-yourself Facebook fan page creation service can help you build new tabs such as a Welcome tab, map to your store or office, instructional video, Twitter feed or contact form. Consider building a tab to promote a sale of products or services or to advertise an event such as a concert or summer camp.

To assign a tab to appear when people find your Facebook fan page in a search, click on Edit Page in the top right corner of your fan page. Then click the Default Landing Tab’s dropdown field and select which tab you would like to appear when people your page in a search. Note that the field will only appear if the page has at least one Like (follower). Then to return to your page, click on View Page.

You can delete a tab within your Facebook fan page by clicking on Edit, which is listed at the bottom of the initial group of tabs on the left side of the page. An X will appear next to each tab. Simply click on the X to delete the tab, but once you do so, however, it’s gone. You won’t get a prompt saying, “Are you sure you want to do this?”

You can change the name of a tab, which Facebook calls an app, by clicking on Edit Info at the top of the page and then selecting Apps on the left side. Under the tab you have created, select Edit Settings, and from there you can change the name of the tab. Click Save and then Okay.

You can use your list of page followers to send messages through Facebook, or you can post a message on the page’s Wall, which will send your followers an email notification. Use those to link to promotional or informational tabs on your page, and to link to your external website.

These tips should help you become even more familiar with using Facebook applications.

At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don’t Have To.™


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By Emily Sanderson

LeapFrog, the manufacturer of children’s educational toys, was one of the first companies to offer a digital pen. The LeapFrog FLY Pentop Computer used special paper developed by Anoto, just as other LeapFrog toys do. Although it was designed for children, the product was the predecessor to Livescribe’s Echo Smartpen and the Pulse Smartpen.

Entrepreneur and inventor Jim Marggraff, who helped develop LeapFrog’s FLY, also founded Livescribe. The FLY is now a discontinued product, but some vendors still sell FLY apps and refill catridges for FLY owners. It helps young students with their homework. It includes apps such as a Spanish tutor, which verbally translates into Spanish words that students write on the special paper. The product also converts hand-written essays into digital text so students can more easily submit typed papers to their teachers. In addition, the pen doubles as entertainment with both built-in games (such as a piano function). Additional apps that can be purchased include a Harry Potter-themed game. Students can even download their own music to the pen, which also dubs as an MP3 player.

When Jim Marggraff first joined LeapFrog in 1999, he brought with him the Odyssey Globe that, when touched with a special stylus, said the name of the country it was pointed to. The stylus sparked a tiny circuit inside the globe that emitted a radio-frequency signal. Then, acting as an antenna, the stylus “spoke” the name of the respective country, helping children to learn geography.

LeapPad was based on a similar kind of technology except on a flat surface. A child could place special papers on the pad, and the stylus could “read” the words the child was pointing to. Up against toy company giants Mattel and Hasbro, LeapFrog knew that no matter how sophisticated their product, LeapPad had to quickly capture children’s attention and maintain it in order for the product to be a success. And it was. In December 2000, it was named the top-selling toy in the United States. LeapFrog went public in 2002 and was named the best performing IPO of that year—a whopping 93 percent growth. As a result, the company became the third-largest toy company in the United States.

LeapFrog’s FLY enhanced the activities of older children using the same philosophy of the company’s other products: it is a toy in its shape but an educational product in its soul. The company’s products assist parents who want to get an early start on their children’s reading and math comprehension by making learning fun. And despite the FLY’s sophistication, its technology was practically invisible. The FLY used Anoto-brand paper, which consists of a tiny dot pattern. The pattern works as a kind of code that tells a camera inside the pen where it is on the page. It can also include icons that can turn on recorded messages or other functions inside the pen.

The success of LeapFrog’s FLY Pentop Computer among children is likely what enlightened Marggraff to introduce a more powerful version of the technology to business people and college students in the form of Livescribe’s Smartpen, which now includes a microphone and a recording device, among other features. Digital pens such as this are providing professionals and students alike with tools that digitize their hand-written words for easy documentation and dissemination.

At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don’t Have To.™


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By Emily Sanderson  

“In the cloud” is presently a popular phrase within the computer industry. Cloud-based services range from email and movie rentals to financial and other business-related services.

For years, internet security software suites have contained cloud-based elements. Their frequent, automatic updates are based on online databases that keep track of new malware as it’s reported. Small business security software that is centrally managed often permits a network administrator to install software, establish security settings or conduct manual scans of all workstations within a system from one workstation.

However, some security services, such as the McAfee SaaS Endpoint Protection Suites, now offer a centralized, cloud-based administration console. McAfee offers a number of business security suites that are customized to meet the unique technical infrastructures of many small- to medium-sized businesses, such as security for workstations, file servers and email servers. But unique to McAfee and other similar services, the suites’ cloud-based, centralized interface does not require any software installation. Instead, an administrator maintains McAfee’s security suites using a web-based, secure account within the McAfee SecurityCenter.

Cloud-based administration consoles offer a different setup than traditional centralized terminals do, but they offer many of the same features. From the McAfee SecurityCenter, you can push software updates or manual scans of any workstation or server throughout your network without having to work with CDs or an FTP site. McAfee provides an installation link for each account, and you simply send a link via email to each of your employees. You can also push the software or perform a silent installation to a workstation.

McAfee’s cloud-based system allows companies to provide up-to-date security software and software updates that are equipped to detect the latest threats. It also provides administrators with more access to the workstations of employees who work from home.

Like McAfee, security software providers all offer some cloud-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) features. Most of the providers distribute software updates on a daily basis, and some as frequently as each hour. The updates are necessary to combat new threats as they are reported.

Malware threats throughout the world are more prevalent and more sophisticated than ever before. Hackers are no longer lone programmers in a basement somewhere. They are organized cyber-crime units out to make lots of money. Anti-virus protection is only one tool that must be part of any security software package today. Our frequent access to emails and the internet for all our business practices opens the door for threats such as spam, phishing and spyware, Trojans and adware.

Systems everywhere have had to become more secure in order to protect sensitive information and business processes. The systems that manage our security software have also become more secure. McAfee’s ability to offer its cloud-based SaaS administration console is a demonstration of its secure environment.

When selecting an internet security provider, you should realize that you’re not only purchasing software. You are establishing a relationship with a company that will protect your computer network, which is likely your company’s most sensitive and valuable asset.

At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don’t Have To.™


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