Line It Up

“A working outline,” says the University of Victoria Department of English, can provide you “with a rough map of where the essay will go, making a diagram of your thoughts to sharpen and define your purpose.” The UVic Writer’s Guide explains how to create one in “The Structure of the Essay Outline:”

The beginning is the introduction containing your thesis statement; the end is the conclusion; and the middle or body of the essay contains the argument, supported by evidence or example and designed to prove your thesis. Read more

Overcoming Challenges

Do you have a problem with that?

Some people tackle challenges head-on, and others run the other way. Discover your own problem-solving skills and attitudes by taking the Chatterbean quiz Are You a Creative Problem Solver?

R. Buckminster Fuller reportedly said, “A problem adequately stated is a problem well on its way to being solved.” Stephen Brown and Marion Walter agree. In their book The Art of Problem Posing, they explain that “problem posing” can help put “a standard topic in a sharper light…It can also encourage the creation of new ideas derived from any given topic.” Read more

So Random

Generating Secure Passwords

With PC Tools’ Secure Password Generator, it’s a breeze “to create random passwords that are highly secure and extremely difficult to crack or guess.”

To use this tool, you simply supply various bits of information – choosing from a variety of options to indicate the length of the password needed, whether you want to mix case, whether the password should include numbers and/or punctuation, etc. – and hit “Generate Passwords.” As many as 50 passwords – all provided, PC Tools notes, on an “as is” basis and to be used at your own risk – can be generated at one pass.

Clutter-free Writing

David R. Williams advocates applying the K.I.S.S. principle (“Keep it simple, Stupid.”) to writing. In his book Sin Boldly! Dr. Dave’s Guide to Writing the College Paper (Cambridge, MA: Perseus, 2000), 9, he explains, ” ‘Simple’ does not have to mean simpleminded. Keeping it simple means avoiding the complexity of too many competing, confusing factors. This applies to choosing a paper topic as well as writing a sentence or running a business.” Read more

The Effect of Your Environment, Part II

A Fine Mess

Albert Einstein is widely quoted as saying, “If a cluttered desk signs a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” If you’ve used his words to defend your own messy ways at school, work, or other parts of your life, you might be hard-wired for disorder. And that can be a good thing. Read more

Search Engines You Should (But Probably Don’t) Know

“Ask anyone which search engine they use to find information on the Internet and they will almost certainly reply: ‘Google,’” says Charles S. Knight, Search Engine Optimizer and editor of AllSearchEngines. “Look a little further, and market research shows that people actually use four main search engines for 99.99% of their searches: Google, Yahoo!, MSN, and (in that order). But in my travels as a Search Engine Optimizer (SEO), I have discovered that in that .01% lies a vast multitude of the most innovative and creative search engines you have never seen. So many, in fact, that I have had to limit my list of the very best ones to a mere 100.” Read more

Tools that Build Strong Papers

David R. Williams calls sentences and paragraphs “the tools of the writing trade.” In his book Sin Boldly! Dr Dave’s Guide to Writing the College Paper (Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books, 2000) 31, he says, “The sentence is the hammer you use to drive your points home. Each blow must hit a nail. Each sentence must communicate a thought clearly from your mind to that of your reader. Disorganized jumbles of words and phrases cannot do this. Only when the words are arranged in a logical order with a subject and a verb is a complete thought expressed.” Read more

The Effect of Your Environment

Dazed and Confused

Are your efforts to work at peak effectiveness at school or on the job being derailed by the clutter in your workspace? Try these quick and easy tips to organize your desk.

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Culture Club

Online Search Techniques

“The diversity of cultures represented on the Web is an amazing and wonderful thing,” notes Web expert Barbara G. Friedman, who adds, “But online searches are easily thwarted if the user fails to take into account the myriad spellings and meanings that accompany that diversity. Searching for one will not find sites that use the other spelling, or for that matter sites containing misspellings. In addition, the same word can have alternate meanings even within a single language.” Read more

Blast Through Writer’s Block

“Getting started,” say Sam Deep and Lyle Sussman, “may be the most difficult task when you sit down to write.” Luckily for us, their book Yes, You Can! 1,200 Inspiring Ideas for Work, Home, and Happiness (Reading, MA: Perseus Books, 1996), 101, includes nine ideas to kickstart the process.

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