Source For Free Images That Will Knock Your Socks Off

Photo of a pavilion on a pier in the Maldives.

Source: Unsplash.com Photographer: May Pamintuan http://www.maypamintuan.com/

I’ve mentioned Unsplash.com before as a site to get copyright-free stock photos.  Indeed, there are several sites that have sprung up over the last couple of years that provide excellent photography with either no copyright restriction or with very generous royalty-free licenses.

But today, I want to talk just about Unsplash.com.  It has become a repository for spectacular landscapes.  That’s not its mission.  It serves up all kinds of subjects.  However, more landscapes appear to be submitted than other kinds of photos.

This is a great opportunity in so many ways.

Think about it this way: look at the photo at the top of this post.  What associations does it bring up for you?

When I first saw it, I thought I could smell the wood of the pier and the salty sea water under it.  I could almost hear a gull cry.  I thought how nice it would be to take a book and a folding chair down to that pavilion at the end of the pier and just sit, read and enjoy the silence, solitude and sea breeze.

Pictures like this are wonderful for inspirational posters.  Or inclusion in inspirational videos (maybe even with the sound of a gull dubbed in.)  They’re great in greeting cards and postcards. They are valuable to use as conceptual art for stimulating ideas for posts and articles of all sorts. They make fine backgrounds for compositing to create illustrations for books and ebooks.

There is no end to their uses.  They are a treasure trove for putting together products quickly.  Or making a point that you can’t fully express with just text.

Their greatest value, however, is in the fact that they make you feel something.  They speak to the emotions of your readers or viewers.

Nature photography — especially landscape– and art actually has been shown in scientific research to quickly and effectively reduce stress and lift spirits.

Because of the emotional connection, folks who read your articles and books may be more engaged and more likely to write comments or reviews.  People who view your nature/landscape themed videos may be more attracted to see more of your channel.  The products you make from photos that are excellent in and of themselves will probably sell better.  Especially if you are good at enhancing them and fitting them to the right products.

As I said, free public domain photos that are so good are a real opportunity.  What are you waiting for?

Take it.  Create something even more wonderful than the photos per se.

Magical Talent For Texting, Note-Taking and Writing– Electronic Shorthand For All Your Devices

ifyoucanreadthis2

Despite the recent hilarity over the FBI’s “exhaustive” — and almost useless — list of Twitter and texter slang and shorthand, there’s a serious, practical use for a real, standardized shorthand.  For all your computerized devices.

(Nevertheless, stay tuned, because there will be a funny video later, despite the actual seriousness and practicality of this article.)

What’s Old Is New Again

Did you know that abc style shorthand is back again?  Sort of.

Are you familiar with abc shorthand?  It uses the English alphabet, a few extra symbols and the dropping of vowels to shorten words and make it faster to write and take notes.  If you don’t know how to write a particular word in shorthand, you can just write it in longhand.  Easy. Easy. Easy. Or should I write e-z?

One of its most outstanding features is that you can do it with a pencil or a keyboard.  Any kind of keyboard.  Including smartphone keyboards.

Many folks who learned abc shorthand are still using it for note-taking.  Especially people like news reporters.  Many old-school reporters still use a form of abbreviations that really could be considered shorthand.

But the new users are texters and tweeters.  Especially teen texters.  There’s a growing standardization of sets of common abbreviations that are fairly intuitive and easy to read.

Now, I don’t mean only the slang abbreviations like LOL or IMHO.  The slang is hardly intuitive or easy.  No, I mean the intuitive abbreviations of many common words, like cn for can.  Or u for you.  They are very like the various abc shorthands.

Most of this new shorthand is still in the formation stages, with the slang still holding sway.  But it’s growing.  And it’s sensible.  Useable. Practical.  For everyone.  If you’re going to write with your thumbs, it’s almost mandatory to learn a system that will let you write more quickly and easily.

So even if you don’t tweet or chat, if you don’t know the “shorthand,” you’re already behind times.  Maybe it’s time to learn the most used modern slang, abbreviations and shorthand of the new communications media.  Because, at the very least, with the growing use of smart phones, you’re going to want it for texting, email and other uses on your mobile phone.

Start With A Standardized Form, Then Add The Twitter/Texter/Chat Slang And Abbreviations

ABC shorthand systems are so easy that most people can figure out what you’re writing, whether they know the system or not.

That was made quite clear many years ago when the ads for courses for those systems read like this: “f u cn rd this u cn mk a gd lvng.”  Most people understood the abbreviations immediately and were encouraged to add the skills to their repertoire.  In the days those systems were being developed, having shorthand or stenographic skills could mean a much higher paycheck.  For both men and women.

The best part of learning abc shorthand was that you could buy a book and learn it on your own.

When I was in college, I had day jobs and went to school at night.  I got most of my work in offices, because I had learned to type in high school.  Although I missed (by a long shot) the heyday of the rush to use abc shorthand, it was still in use and stenographic skills were still highly valued. I got myself a book on abc shorthand and added that to my skills.  I did, indeed, get higher paying jobs.  It was easy and fast. It only took about three weeks of learning and practice, on my own, to be able to take notes or dictation.  In very short order I could write at 80 words per minute.  It made note-taking in class a breeze.

If I wasn’t in the office, most people there could read my notes, since the principles of the system were so obvious that they could figure out what I meant.

So, you could take one of the old systems and just add the most-used slang, abbreviations, acronyms and symbols to it, and you’d have an easy-to-use texting/chatting/tweeting language that is fast, fast, fast way to type.

The standard for abc shorthand is about 80 to 100 words per minute if done by hand.  Compared to the Gregg system of symbolic shorthand, which can yield 225 words per minute, that may seem miniscule.  But if you think about the fact that experienced touch typists can already type at
50-80 words per minute, what will happen to the speed if you add abc shorthand to keyboarding?

Tell Me More About Why This Would Be So Awesome

You’d also be able to write articles, books, emails and other documents quickly in the shorthand — by hand, by keyboard, or by mobile device — and then have them transcribed.  Or, perhaps, dictate them from your notes into one of the Nuance dictation programs. Sure, it’s best to do dictation directly, but what if you were away from your computer when a great idea hit you?  Yay shorthand.

No matter where you are, if you have a fast, easy shorthand typing system, you can open your browser on your mobile device,  go to your web mail, write what you want and send it to yourself or your transcriber, and it’s done.

(In case you’re wondering I don’t simply recommend voice recognition type dictation apps for the smartphones, my objection is that voice, music and sound takes up too much space.  Which is also why I don’t recommend voice recording apps for dictation.  Furthermore, digital shorthand is faster than dictation because of the way voice recognition dictation programs work.  More about that some other time.)

Stuck in a two hour traffic jam and you have a report due?  Write it in web mail and send it off for later transcription.  You’re productive anywhere.

Of course, there’s still the overwhelming advantage you’d have as a texter on your smartphone.

About Learning An ABC Shorthand System

There aren’t any books of instruction in any of the styles of abc shorthand that I can be sure are in the public domain.  So, I don’t have any free ones for you to download.

However, there are plenty of texts, both old and new, that you can use to teach yourself one or more of the systems.  They’re all based on the same principles.  Just be careful, a lot of books that are billed as abc or alphabetical shorthand are actually symbolic shorthand.

Look for “Speedwriting.”  That’s one of the best known and standard styles.

References, Resources And Funny Video

Articles:

How to Write Faster — http://www.wikihow.com/Write-Faster — Includes both shorthand techniques for actually putting words on paper (or digital paper) and suggestions for composing written documents faster.

Speedwriting Technique — http://homeworktips.about.com/od/studymethods/a/speedwriting.htm

Top Twitter Abbreviations You Need to Know — http://socialmediatoday.com/emoderation/512987/top-twitter-abbreviations-you-need-know

Easy Text Shortcuts You Should Be Using — http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/x-text-shortcuts-you-should-be-using-176907 –  As an alternative to sending shorthand, you can use text expansion apps.  These apps allow you to type in the app’s “shorthand” and the app outputs the full word.

Tironian notes — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tironian_notes — For fun, here’s a shorthand system than goes back to Cicero (yeah, that guy from the time of Julius Caesar).  His scribe, Marcus Tullius Tiro, invented it.

Old but good books:

A Shorthand Dictionary, J.B. Dimbleby. — http://superperformance.com/oldbooks/shorthanddictionary.pdf –Just to have a measure of how long abc shorthand has been used, here’s a book from 1868 that lists the vowels-removed-shorthand for English words.

Video

The FBI’s Guide To Twitter Slang Is Hilarious? — This is a “cover your face with your hand and groan” kind of funny.

Can I quote you? Tools for writing articles based on quotations.

Photo Source: iclipart.com

Do you use the technique of starting an article or blog post with a quotation?  It’s a fine way to generate content quickly. With the quotation, you already have the main idea and theme.  And if you use a template with it, you can almost “fill in the blanks” without a lot of effort.  (If you haven’t picked up my free template for writing with quotations, go get it here.) I’m quite fond of using quotations and I came across one today that I wanted to use: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability […] Read more »

A New Productivity Tool: List of over 200 blog post ideas

Photo Source: iclipart.com

I follow Ryan Deiss’s blog at DigitalMarketer.com.  He and his team constantly come up with interesting ideas and share a lot of content for free. A couple of days ago, Digital Marketer published a list article by Russ Henneberry: “The Ultimate List of Blog Post Ideas.” (http://www.digitalmarketer.com/blog-post-ideas/)  It’s a very long article.  In fact, he ought to rewrite it enough to meet Amazon’s standards for avoiding duplicate content and publish it as a Kindle booklet. I know I’d pay for something of this quality — if he hadn’t already made it free. It’s 212 blog post ideas. Explained and categorized. […] Read more »

Cats and Ducks and Performance Improvement

Mommy And Me!
Cat Photo: iclipart.com Duck Photo: Creative Commons

  Mommy And Me! (Cat PhotoSource: iclipart.com — Duck Photo Source: Creative Commons)   What does a cute kitty video have to do with performance improvement? I ran across a sweet, but unusual video from the BBC’s YouTube collection. Apparently a cat that had just given birth discovered some ducklings that had just hatched and adopted them as her own. (Rather than having them for lunch.) In their turn, they imprinted on her. The story is a bit longer and has some suspense to it, so even though I’ve spoiled the ending, I’ve included the video itself below. It’s quite […] Read more »

Electronic Leashes And Employee Unhappiness

How many employers are keeping employees on electronic leashes?

Are you on an “electronic leash at work?”  How does that affect your relationship with your employer? How does that affect your motivation? How does that affect your performance and productivity? There’s a lot written about employee abuse of company-issued cell phones, tablets and laptops.  And with good reason. But this article is about the flip-side of that abuse: all those devices can — and often do — become what’s now called “electronic leashes” or “digital leashes.” What’s an electronic leash? There is considerable dismay growing among employees who have found that they are now expected to be “on call” […] Read more »

Earth Day and Public Domain Photo Resources

earthdayimageNASA2014

Recently I’ve written a couple of posts that involve the use of public domain photos.  And I just published my second newsletter in a row that was focused on delivering resources for children’s books or children’s products from the public domain.  So it seemed that delivering some resources for great public domain photos of the earth — and even the rest of the universe — would be just the right touch for Earth Day.  Following are two amazing sources of PD photos for your creative projects: NASA and the US Geological Survey. NASA Photos: First, I want to recommend NASA […] Read more »

Hope is A Productivity Tool

a kluger quote shareasimage

What makes hope a productivity tool? I found the quotation in the image above on a quotes site.  I liked it, but I wanted to see it in context.  A bit of search located it for me in a Time Magazine article. The article was a review by Jeffery Kluger for a book called Making Hope Happen: Create the Future You Want for Yourself and Others, by Shane J. Lopez,Ph.D.  The book is a look at the psychology of hope and how it affects productivity, performance, achievement and success.  Whether in your business, career, education or relationships. I’m glad I […] Read more »

Performance and Productivity Tool for Website and Social Media Engagement

glorioussky

I found a first-rate performance/productivity tool for you to increase user engagement on your blog, site or social media.  Look at this: Isn’t that a smashing photo?  I created the text/photo combination in a couple of minutes and downloaded it for this blog. You could have it on your own blog.  Or as a visual tweet.  Or on Facebook.  Or whatever.  It’s pretty well-known that visuals create greater engagement than text alone.  Much, much greater.  It’s also well-known that visuals communicate a considerable amount more than text.  That visuals keep your reader’s attention better than text alone.  That visuals get […] Read more »

IntensifyPro, Public Domain Images and Productivity

photosgraphicsetc

We need images, but is public domain worth the trouble? Images are difficult to do well and fast.  And we need lots of images for the best and most engaging articles or posts.  Or for our ebooks.  Or for games and apps.  Or…lots of other info, education or entertainment products. One of the most popular suggestions I’ve heard is to get free images from public domain and use them to at least round out our content, if not as the complete content.  Right. That is neither fast nor easy.  Using the public domain is most often a tedious search process, […] Read more »