How to Find Your IP Address

July 23, 2008 by  
Filed under Technology

how to find your ip addressThere are many ways to determine your IP address. IP stands for Internet Protocol address, and this address allows your computer to “talk” to other computers online. Programs such as certain scripts require you to know your IP address to ensure only you are using the program. A VPN or a virtual private network can be established using your IP address to link your home and office computer. This allows you to work at home with ease. There are countless other tasks which require your IP address or use it in some way.

Regardless of why you might need your IP address, here’s how to find it.

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Use a Specialized Website

A "What is My IP" site pings your computer and immediately offer up your IP address along with plenty of other details. The site can tell you about proxies, languages, cookies, screen resolution and more. Of course you can also find that information on your own or you might already have it committed to memory.

Find a Local IP Address

This is your internet IP address. You also have a local IP address that is very basic and has little purpose other than to be a placeholder. Your Internet IP address has many functions, your local (or LAN) one does not. But to find your LAN IP address, you can:

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  • Go to the Start Menu.
  • Select Run.
  • Type in CMD and press Enter.
  • Then in the DOS box that appears type in “ipconfig” and press Enter.
  • Your local IP address should appear.

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How To Download And Set Up an FTP Program

July 23, 2008 by  
Filed under Technology

how to ftp to a website There are a number of things about designing and building your own website which cause confusion and uncertainty to those who are new to this activity. FTP, which stands for File Transfer Protocol, is one of those things that always seems to confuse and intimidate people who are new to website design. Part of this confusion is probably because the full name ‘File Transfer Protocol’ seems to shed no light on understanding what it is, what it does, or what it is used for. In this article I shall attempt to shine a light on this mysterious creature and take the reader through the process of downloading and installing a free and popular program to make FTP available to them.

First, to shed some light on the name ‘FTP’, or File Transfer Protocol’: the word ‘Protocol’ is used in it’s usual everyday sense that it is a set of rules or guidelines by which something is done. So, simply put, a File Transfer Protocol is a set of rules or guidelines by which files can be transferred from one computer to another over the internet or a network. This sometimes doesn’t make any sense to people who don’t understand computers because they don’t realize that many different computers use many different codes. If you have a file on one kind of computer and you want to use it on another kind of computer then without a set of guidelines, or a ‘protocol’, to ‘translate’ the file from one computer to another it would not be possible. FTP is a form of code which helps you when you move a file from one computer to another. Think of FTP as a ‘translator’ or ‘interpreter’ working in the United Nations so that all the different countries can talk to each other and settle their differences.

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And that’s it: simple isn’t it? Often people don’t believe it is quite as simple as that but it is. There is nothing else to understand about FTP unless you are about to start programming, which you’re not.

The other thing that helps to make FTP appear confusing and complex is the fact that you often use a program to do it: These are called ‘FTP Clients’. FTP Clients manage the ‘translation’ from one computer to another and will allow you to upload files, which is to send files to the server; or download files, which is to get files from the server. They will also allow you to make changes to files on the server. FTP and the FTP Client are essential ingredients of a web designer, or website owner’s toolkit. There are very many different designs of FTP Clients, many are free and many will cost money to buy. Many operating systems have an FTP client integrated within them and browsers such as Firefox have an FTP client which can be installed and used as part of the browser. You will need to have an account with a web host before using an FTP Client, but so long as you do have a web hosting account then you can use an FTP Client to transfer your site and all your files to the web host, and back again.

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One of the most popular free FTP Clients is ‘FileZilla’; it is easy to download and use and, if you are using Windows XP, then I can take you through the steps – although I doubt they are very different if you are using another operating system. I am using Firefox 2, and so if you are using any other browser there may be some slight differences, but nothing major:

The simplest way to download Filezilla is to go to the Google search page and type ‘download.com filezilla’ into the search field and the very top result will be for Filezilla at the download.com website. Click on the link and you will see the name of Filezilla with a big blue link below it saying ‘download now’. Click that and a small window will appear with a button saying ‘save file’ – click to save the file and you will download the software automatically. It will take a few seconds to download.

Now look for the new icon on your desktop; it will be called ‘Filezilla set up’ or something similar. Double click the icon. The first thing you will see is a small window asking you to select your language, make sure it says English (or whatever your preferred language is) then click the ‘ok’ button. A license agreement window will appear; click ‘next’. The next page will ask you to ‘choose components’ – ion most cases the defaults are perfectly ok for most installations so I suggest you agree with the selection and click ‘next’. You will now be asked where you want to install the software, in most cases the default location is your program folder, which is fine; if you want to install it elsewhere then type the location in here, otherwise just click ‘next’. You will now be asked to choose a start menu folder, again, the default will be fine, click ‘next’. You will now be asked to decide on some general settings, if you are using a shared computer then select ‘use secure mode’ otherwise leave all settings as they are and click ‘Install’. The software will now be installed onto your computer; this will only take a few seconds and then you will be asked to close the window – click ‘close’.

You will now have a new icon on your desktop, coloured maroon and blue with a big ‘FZ’ on it and called ‘Filezilla’. You can put the original download file into your recycle bin and delete. Double click the new icon to start your FTP Client.

To use the FTP Client to transfer files between your computer and your web host you will first have to set it up. After double clicking to start up the FTP Client, click on the ‘File’ menu and select ‘Site Manager’. A new window will appear, find the button which says ‘new site’ and click it. A folder will appear in the main area of the window, type the name of your site into the new folder which appears.

Get your login details for your web host, because you’ll need them now. Under ‘Host’ type in the FTP address of your website; this will be a website address beginning with ‘ftp’ in a format such as: ftp.siteforge.net or else it will be a number series in a format such as: 88.88.888.88 – either will do. If the boxes below are greyed out then your site manager is set to anonymous login. To input your login details deselect ‘anonymous’ and select ‘normal’ for Logon and input your username and password for accessing your web host. You can now click ‘connect’ and your FTP Client will connect to your web host and you can upload or download files for your site.

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How To Build a Website

July 23, 2008 by  
Filed under Technology

how to build a websiteThere are many methods you can choose when you decide to build a website. The method you select will depend on your knowledge of coding and/or programming. If you are a total novice to the web designer industry then there are programs that allow you to drag and drop items, place text via text boxes and change the colors with a click of a button. These are known as WYSIWYG editors (what you see is what you get), they are very helpful in order to get a nice looking website up and running in a short amount of time if you have no html (hyper text markup language, the coding used to build websites) knowledge. The main downside to using a WYSIWYG editor is that the coding will be full of rubbish and useless variables which will give you the disadvantage in the search engines as messy code will confuse the bots and penalize you for it. You could go through each page after it has been made and take out unnecessary bits of code making the page clean and user friendly, but by doing this you will have to have a good knowledge of html so you would be better starting from scratch in the first place.

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If you are fairly comfortable with the way html works, you can make a website by just using notepad and saving the file with the .html extension at the end. This method is not used as often in today’s world as you can get programs such as Microsoft Front Page and Macromedia Dreamweaver. These both allow you to see a WYSIWYG view, a core code view and a split view in which you can make something and then tidy the code up straight after saving you a lot of hassle in the end. My favorite out of these two (and probably the most popular) is Macromedia Dreamweaver as it has inbuilt FTP access so you can manage a whole website from the one interface. By using the remote view, you’re able to see what’s on the server. This allows you to make adjustments and update your revisions directly to your server. Once complete, you can view the changes immediately in through the domain name the site is linked to.

The main benefit of this is being able to see what your website looks like in different browsers as they interpret the code in different ways which can make your site look absolutely fine in Windows Internet Explorer but completely messed up in Mozilla Firefox. While the majority of users use Internet Explorer you still have to make it compatible with Firefox as a small percentage use it and you would be loosing vital traffic if your site is not compatible with it. You are best downloading the main browsers (explorer, firefox, opera and any other you are willing to) and checking your site on a regular basis in each making it look the same in each one. Another way around it is to complete your site and then pick the next browser and adjust the code until it matches and then move onto the next one.

If you are not using a WYSIWYG editor then I always find it best to design each page in a program such as Adobe Photoshop so you can get the feel of the layout and color scheme before you actually start making the site in a code editor. The benefit of this is you may start coding your website and decide you want to change bits around, this is a lot harder once you have integrated the code into your website so by making the final layout in Photoshop and moving bits around with ease, it will make your life easier in the long run. Also it’s always easier to follow a template then thinking from scratch making it up as you go along.

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Once you have mastered the basic html code and getting a website how you want it to look you can then move onto the more advanced coding which will make your website stand out from the rest of the competition in your niche. There are other variations of code such a PHP and JavaScript which you can learn in order to add more advanced features into your website.

Another common method of making websites in today’s world is using a CMS (content management system) which will make it easier to update and maintain your website once you have made a basic template adding ‘PHP includes’ where you want the data to appear. There are many free CMS templates available in which you can download for free and use to give a professional look to your website.

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How to Tell a Guy You Like Him

July 22, 2008 by  
Filed under Relationships

how to tell a guy you like himWomen like to show a guy they care despite the fact that men hear words louder than action. While it can be hard to move away from cooking meals and buying him a new tie to show you care, try to find a way to tell a guy you like him that will actually let him know your feelings in his own language – English.

Say the Words

Saying “I like you” doesn’t have the same power or pressure as the more popular, “I love you.” If you’re not sure it’s love, but you’re pretty sure it’s like, feel free to blurt it out. If you’re too squeamish to say it in the heat of the moment, sneak it in while the two of you are laughing about something else. “Ha, ha – you are so funny! That must be why I like you so much!”

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Write the Words

If you find you can’t just say the words, feel free to write them. Bake him a cake the way you secretly want to, but then use a bag of candy or chocolate chips to write it out, “I like you.” Or if that seems to cheesy, write him a little note and slip it in his pocket. Or better yet, text him during the day sometime to keep it light, “You know? I really like you – let’s meet for lunch.” Men like food, and they like to be liked. It’s a win-win all around.

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Give the Gift

You’re dying to do it, so go ahead. Show the man you care. But if you’re going to pamper him, do it in a way that the message is clear. Washing his socks is nice, but it doesn’t shout romance. Buy him something totally unexpected such as chocolate dipped peppers or a new plant for his office. Since there couldn’t possibly be any other reason to send a present like that over, your guy should get the message loud and clear.

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How to Play with a Baby

July 14, 2008 by  
Filed under Family & Parenting

how to play with a babyBabies go through many developmental stages in the first year. There are different ways to play with these babies at all of these various stages. Baby toys are fun for both parents and babies, but you don’t always need toys to play with your baby. Here is how to play with your baby at almost any age without the assistance of toys or games.

Making Baby Faces

At her earliest stages, your baby needs to learn faces and facial expressions. So prop her on your knees or lie over her on your bed or a blanket. Then just make faces at her. Smile, make a big O with your mouth, stick out your tongue, etc… Not only will she be amused and fascinated, you might also be rewarded with a returned smile.

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Playing Peek-a-Boo

Object permanence is another major developmental milestone for babies. Fortunately, there is a great way to play that helps baby learn it and enjoy it. Peek-a-boo! Hold a blanket, washcloth or burp cloth in front of your face. Then, say something along the lines of, “Where’s Mommy?” Pull the blanket away, smile at your baby and say, “Peek-a-boo!” This is a game that young babies enjoy as well as toddlers.

Baby Tours

Babies of all ages like to look at things and take tours. Very young babies can be fascinated by taking a guided tour of the backyard or looking at all the pictures on the walls. Older babies love to look at nature and interesting objects, and who better to guide them through their discoveries than you! Take your baby new places, hold her up to see, and explain to her what everything is. She might not be able to talk yet, but she is storing up the words and closeness.

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Talking and Singing

Most babies simply love the sound of their parents’ voices. So one of their favorite games is simply talking and singing. Talking to your newborn or infant is stimulating. Older babies enjoy songs with hand motions and funny rhymes or activities. The more you talk and sing to your baby, the better exposure she is getting to language skills. And of course, she is interacting with you in a fun way, which she loves.

Playing Airplane

Older babies love to play airplane. Lay on your back with your knees in the air like a dying bug. Place your baby tummy down on your legs so that her head is by your knees and she is looking at your face. Grab her sides or her arms (depending on age), raise your legs up to a level position and let her “fly.” Move your legs gently to simulate flight, but be sure to hold on tight as your baby can jerk suddenly and fall.

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How To Not Write a Poem

July 14, 2008 by  
Filed under Education & Reading / Writing

how to not write a poemThe following is a list of the mistakes immature poets often make. The truth is, even practiced poets will make these mistakes. Nobody is immune to lazy writing. But if you want your reader to realize that you are not a talented poet, that you have nothing new or interesting to say, then be sure to include one or more of the following things in your poetry.

1. Use archaic language.

Once upon a time when people spoke, they used such words as "thou" and "methinks." A lot of poetry was written at this time and we are still reading these poems today even though we no longer talk that way. Contemporary poetry should be written in contemporary language. When Shakespeare wrote, "Methinks thou doth protest too much," this is actually how people spoke in his day. When you choose to use archaic language for the sake of sounding poetic, you only make yourself sound like an amateur.

2. Use cliches in your writing.

Cliches are useless unless you are writing about cliches. If you fall back onto cliches you reveal yourself as a lazy writer. If you describe someone’s eyes as being deep as the ocean or your love being like a rose or any of the other typical metaphors, your reader will quickly lose interest.

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3. Rhyme for rhyming’s sake.

There are many people who write form poetry which usually means lines of verse that have end rhymes. When done effectively, some of the most brilliant poetry will rhyme and rhyme well. However, too often it is done poorly. If you have to invert sentences to force a line to rhyme, revise the poem until you can do it without compromising your syntax. My son likes to mock certain rappers for making rhymes out of nonsense words or, worse, rhyming the same word with itself. If you can’t rhyme creatively, better to just not rhyme at all.

4. Be vague and abstract.

Henry Miller says that he always set aside his writing for a year. I have done this and been surprised to find a poem I wrote was utterly meaningless to me. It sounded lovely, used typically poetic language with metaphors, allusions to literature. But when I try to get to what the poem means, all I see are pretty phrases with no substance.

5. Stop reading poetry.

If you want to write bad poetry, you either need to expose yourself to only bad poetry. The problem is that if you read any poetry you risk reading good or even great poetry so it is probably best to read no poetry at all. If you simply must read poetry, only read poetry that was written over 500 years ago. You wouldn’t want to read anything contemporary, anything written in your vernacular. Better yet, try to read poetry written by people with whom you have no connection. Most older poetry is written by highly educated, wealthy, white men. If you are none of these, you won’t be able to identify with them as poets and what you write will lack authenticity.

6. Read books about poetry–all of them, all of the time.

Rather than actually write poetry, spend your time reading about writing poetry. Memorize everything you can about meter, be ready to define any and all formal poetry types from haiku to vilanelle, and memorize not only the difference between a Shakespearean sonnet and an Italian sonnet. If you can actually quote from memory examples of all of the above, that is even better. The time you spend learning all of this information could have been spent writing poetry and that is not what we are trying to do here.

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7. Throw out all spelling and grammar rules.

Whitman and Dickinson started it and then came cummings, who wouldn’t even capitalize his own name. With modern poetry came a wave of waving goodbye to the conventional rules of spelling and grammar. These genius poets paved the path. No longer were poets confined to conventions. Not only did lines not have to rhyme but now poets didn’t even have to capitalize a proper name or follow the most common grammatical rules. The problem is that these people who most perfectly ignore the rules first mastered them which is why they break them so beautifully. They don’t break the rules for the sake of breaking them, they break them to say something more meaningful than conforming to the rules would have afforded them the opportunity to do.

8. Avoid yourself as a poet.

If you are writing poetry then you are probably comfortable with a certain style of writing. Perhaps you are comfortable with free verse or you may prefer for your poems to have a tight rhythm with carefully chosen end rhymes. Neither choice is better than the other but if you write other styles of poetry then you risk actually growing as a poet. Stretching creatively beyond your personal comfort zone will likely result in your becoming a better poet. I caution you to find your one style and stick to it no matter how boring your poetry writing may seem.

9. Mistake prose for poetry.

This offense occurs most often in haiku where someone writes a seventeen syllable sentence and breaks it into lines of five/seven/five and declares themselves the writer of a haiku.

- I hate you mostly
- when I talk to your wife on
- the phone as she cries.

Technically, this meets the haiku standard for line breaks but offers nothing else. It lacks the emotional subtlety of a true haiku. Any poet who would dare to proclaim this a haiku only shows their ignorance of what a haiku should be.

10. Be afraid to break the rules.

Although you definitely want to break the grammar and spelling rules (as mentioned in rule seven above), you want to be careful to the point of paranoia when doing so. Consider all rules sacred. If you do this then you are more likely to write in a very formal tone, using those archaic words that are no longer a part of your natural vocabulary, and you will do whatever it takes to make that line rhyme the way it should.

If by some chance you are reading this article because you actually want to write a good poem, maybe even aspire to write some great poetry, and wanted to read some rules of things to avoid, then you would do well to follow number ten closely. Even these ten points are not sacrosanct. You can and should have the courage to do whatever you must to make your poem as powerful and potent as you can. If that means using archaic language or a cliche, manipulating a line so that the rhyme works, etc., by all means do it. But only do it if it is truly effective and there is no other way to make your poem relevant.

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How to Learn Spanish

July 14, 2008 by  
Filed under Education & Reading / Writing

how to read and write spanishIf you’re interested in truly learning Spanish, you must study the language through immersion. Study abroad Argentina programs or study abroad in other Spanish speaking counties offer the opportunity to live surrounded by Spanish speakers for a time. This gives you the best chance of learning Spanish fluently.

Find a Quality Study Abroad Program

Your first step to learning Spanish fluently is to find a quality program. Studying abroad should immerse you in local traditions, customs and the language. If a program is taught in English, you may learn a lot of valuable things, but it’s unlikely you’ll learn as much as possible about the language. Look for other aspects such as where you’ll stay and how much exposure you’ll have to the natives. Staying with a host family can boost your language skills much more than staying in a dorm with all of your English speaking friends.

Apply for the Study Abroad Program

Your next step is to apply for the program. It is wise to apply to more than one program as space is often limited. Complete the applications completely and really give some thought to your essays and interviews. Spanish schools Buenos Aires and other popular destinations have many more applicants than they can admit, so your goal is to stand out from the crowd.

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Give It Your All

Once you are accepted, give it your all. Don’t be timid in a foreign country. You have only a short amount of time to experience the other country and learn a complete language. Try new words and ask for help from native speakers with your pronunciation. Listen to others as they speak and try to join the conversation (politely of course.) As you make a serious effort to learn the language, most native speakers, especially those that work with the program, will respect your efforts and do as much as possible to help.

Never Stop Speaking

It’s likely that a month or semester abroad will teach you far more Spanish than you ever thought possible. Unfortunately, if you don’t use the language on a regular basis, you will begin to lose your vocabulary and technique. Find Spanish speaking friends to practice with and regularly converse in Spanish about anything at all.

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The more Spanish you speak, the better grasp you’ll get of the language. If you can find a friend that knows more Spanish than you or a native speaker in your hometown, ask them for help in further developing your new skills until you can take your next trip abroad.

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How To Learn a Foreign Language

July 14, 2008 by  
Filed under Education & Reading / Writing

how to learn a foreign language
You can enjoy greater personal power in a foreign country when you speak the language. Without leaving your own home town, you can enter into the literature and culture of another country when you can read a foreign language. You will feel greatly empowered asking for directions, inquiring about places to visit, and making new friends and acquaintances in the language of your host country. You will also expand your business and employment opportunities.

Anyone Can Learn a New Language

Like many complex skills, learning a foreign language is much more a matter of daily effort than ability. In fact, scientists that study the human brain have discovered that parts of it are specialized for learning and using language. Except for a few people in special circumstances, virtually every adult human speaks at least one language.

Learning a New Language: Basic Principles

The most important principle to learning a new language is regular use. It is much easier to learn a spoken, living language than a "dead" language. You can study a foreign language in many ways and the more the better, but the best way is by immersion. Practice with native speakers as often as possible. If you can’t find native speakers, then find others who are trying to learn like you. Your local university or college may have a language house, such as a Spanish House, a French House, or a Russian House. If you attend the school, you can ask about living there. If you don’t, you may still be allowed to visit and practice the language with the residents. The internet also provides access to groups for people who want to practice a foreign language. Check newsgroups, Yahoo Groups, or MSN groups. You can practice listening to the language by watching a film or DVD in that language. Foreign films are also a great way to learn more about the culture that speaks your chosen language.

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Foreign Language Study Material

In addition to practice, you need to have a source of study material.  The source can be a textbook or one of many language-learning books sold in bookstores and online.  If you take a course at a school, the textbook will be designated by the instructor.  You may also choose to hire a native speaker who will teach you one on one.  It is also possible to find language courses taught online, although these may not be able to replace hearing a native or proficient speaker live in person.  Your local library has many language learning books that you can use for free.  The great importance of study material is a progressive guide that leads you from most basic concepts to more advanced skills in a language.

Speaking a Foreign Language

A French instructor once said about participation in her class: “It’s okay to lie, as long as you’re grammatically correct.”  This is probably not a good idea in most situations, but it works great as practice in the right setting.  Whenever possible, learn about words and sayings that have to do with your own interests.  If you like sports, learn the words for ‘team,’ ‘ball,’ ‘player,’ ‘score’ and so forth.  If you like cooking, learn the words for cooking.  This is also a good idea for any field of business you would like to undertake in the chosen language.  Practice conversing in the language about the subject that interests you.

Read a Foreign Language

In addition to spoken language, you can practice reading the language.  Beginning books can be found that will allow you to cut your teeth on the new language.  As you become more advanced, you should try more difficult reading materials.  Many bookstores and larger libraries offer newspapers and magazines in foreign languages.  If your chosen language is written with a non-Roman alphabet, like Greek, Russian, Arabic, or Chinese (characters), you will need to devote a good deal of effort to learn the writing system which will include a good deal of writing it.  It is possible, however, to learn to speak a language without learning the writing system.  For example, many people learn to speak Chinese and write it in pinyin which simply adopts the same alphabet as the English language (Roman Alphabet) to spell Chinese words.

FEEDBACK:

Feedback enables you measure your progress and correct any errors in pronunciation or grammar that you make.  Formal instruction in a class or a private tutor will provide you with feedback.  You can also examine your own progress by quizzing yourself with tests in books.  If you wish to improve your pronunciation, you can even record your own voice and play it back to yourself.  Listening to a recording of your voice allows you to focus on what you hear more than when you hear yourself as you speak.

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VERBAL and WRITTEN:

Verbal
Speaking, understanding, and otherwise conversing in the language are all skills that pertain to the verbal area.  Most people find the passive ability to understand a language easier than speaking it, although this is not always so.  Typically, your passive vocabulary is much broader than your active vocabulary in any given language.  In other words, you understand far more words than you actually use to express yourself.

Written
Reading and writing the language are both skills involving the writing system.  Reading is the passive aspect, while writing is the active aspect.  Again, reading is easier than writing the language.  A good way to practice spelling and your ability to hear the language along with writing is to do a ‘dictation.’  For this activity, you write down what you hear in the appropriate language.  High School and college courses often use this technique.

BASIC PARTS OF A LANGUAGE:
This is very simplified and applies to all languages.  Of course, some languages do not have a writing system.

  • Pronunciation (Phonology):
  • Words (Vocabulary)
  • Word Forms (Morphology)
  • Grammar (Syntax)
  • Spelling (Writing System)

Pronunciation is the way you use your mouth to speak the language.  Hearing is an important component with pronunciation.  A foreign language will have some sounds that are familiar to you and quite few that are unfamiliar.  German has rounded vowels made in the front of the mouth that don’t sound anything like English.  Arabic has different forms of ‘s,’ ‘d,’ and ‘th’ that require learning a new pronunciation skill.  Chinese has tones. Remember, the distance between two languages is the same in both directions.  The English ‘th’ sound is a breeze for most Arabic speakers but challenging for speakers of German.  Become familiar with all the sounds of the given language and realize that some will take ongoing practice to say correctly.

Words are the building blocks of a sentence.  Most people find learning lists of words boring.  There are words basic to any language that you need to learn.  For example, it is impossible to speak standard English without words such as ‘I,’ ‘and,’ ‘to,’ ‘the,’ and ‘a.’

Word Forms are the ways in which words are made in the language.   This is how pieces of words are put together. 

Grammar is rules for putting words together to express the language.  Many people find grammar a challenge.  Like arithmetic, grammar builds upon basic skills.  Speaking a language is a particularly good way to help learn proper grammar. 

Spelling or more properly, the writing system, is the way the language is written or printed.  Some languages do not have a writing system at all.  These languages are generally not spoken by a large group of people. 

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How to Buy a Used Car Online

July 4, 2008 by  
Filed under Automotive & Mechanical

buy a used car Whenever large sums of money are involved then risk becomes an issue. Buying a car online is no different to buying one offline in this respect; and if you are cautious about buying a car on the internet then that caution should be applied equally to any deals you do elsewhere. The first thing to consider, before even looking at potential cars, is what your needs are.

The Budget

The second thing to consider is what your budget is. If you establish in your mind exactly why you are looking for a car and what you want from a car, and on top of that you know exactly how much you can afford – including how much you can afford to pay for any tax or insurance, then you will be far less likely to be tempted by things which aren’t exactly what you need, or which are more costly than you had budgeted for. If you merely need a car for transport, or for any purely functional reason, then make a list of the features you need or want and make a corresponding list of the kind of cars and models which would fit this list of features. Only focus on one make of car if it happens to be the only one which satisfies all your criteria.

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Ebay Motors is a great place to buy, and sell, cars; but it is not the only place. You can also check out classified sites like cars.com, carsoup.com and tradersonline.com; or another auction site like the one at Yahoo. Once you have your list and budget on paper, now go online and make a list of the cars which fit your criteria. Don’t pick one or two and focus on them; to begin with you need to look at everything on offer and create a list with the purpose of breaking it down into a smaller one.

Grade each used car

Grade each car you see according to ‘yes’ it’s a possibility, ‘maybe’ it’s a possibility and ‘no chance’. Fro every car you look at decide which category it goes into and make a list of all the ‘yes’ and ‘maybe’ cars – don’t worry, if you have done your list properly this shouldn’t be too big a list but it will certainly be in double figures.

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By making a list to begin with, and setting a budget, then grading cars according to these preset parameters, you keep your mind focused upon your goals. The problem with buying cars, and many other things, is it is very easy to get sidetracked. It is very easy to become emotional about what you are doing and instead of choosing to buy something based upon need, you begin to want something based upon ‘want’.

You begin to fantasize about having the nest class up or the newer model. You reassess your budget in your head and decide you can afford a few hundred more. You forget the functions and begin to fantasize about the appearance or the presentation. If you are buying for other reasons than functionality then maybe you’ll argue that these lists aren’t necessary – but they are. Even if you are looking to buy a sports car you will have a budget and you will have criteria for choosing one car above another.

Most important factors

The three most important factors of a car being sold online are its pictures, its description, and the communication of the seller. I read a remark by someone on another site about buying cars online, and they said – ‘you’re not buying the car, you are buying the seller’. I thought that was a pretty good way of looking at it. The attitude of the seller towards the car, towards the advert, and towards you are all signs of how genuine is the seller, and the car.

When you have your list of advertised cars you either are, or are ‘maybe’ interested in, begin to look more closely at the advertisements. First the photos, unless they are detailed and many then there is area for concern. The pictures should be good and clear and taken in a good light. You need to be able to see the car properly and you cannot assume that the seller is just a bad photographer – taking a picture in the shade might be a ploy to hide something. Make sure you can see the car from all sides, front, side and rear. Ensure there are interior shots, especially of the condition of the seats and dashboard. You will also want to see inside the trunk and there should be some close up pictures of the engine compartment and engine. If there are any special features, such as a soft top, then that should also be displayed – and look for photos of areas prone to rust or damage. A good clear photo of a wheel arch might not make for an attractive image but it will tell you a lot about the way the car has been stored and looked after.

Next, the description. Check the specifications of the car against how it is described and ensure the two match up. Does the car in the photos match the car in the description? It is better to ignore any emotional or descriptive language and rely upon the details only. Look to see if the description tells you essential details such as how long the owner has had the car and whether they know its history prior to ownership. Has the car ever been in an accident of any kind? Is it the original engine and what sort of work, replacements or resprays have been done? What’s the mileage and when was its last service? You should have a list of all the major details you need to know and check it against the description. If the photos and description encourage you then get in touch with the seller to find out how willing they are to communicate with you. Have some additional questions ready to ask, and see if the way they present the car is consistent with the advert.

When buying a car online it is always safer to buy from a dealer or at least buy within an area you are able to visit personally. All the rules of offline buying apply when buying online but when looking for cars online you can save yourself a lot of time and trouble if you check the photos and descriptions thoroughly before making a personal visit to inspect the car yourself. Always open up communications with a seller by email just to test them out and see if they are able to communicate with you. Don’t assume the rules are any different online, they aren’t you must still apply good judgment and be safe, but you will certainly save time in the process and find the choices available to you are far greater.

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