Saturday, June 21, 2014

Lionbridge Review - Work From Home Job

Lionbridge is a company that has many work from home opportunities. I was able to work for them for about 6 months as an internet content judge. Basically, it was about reviewing content for search engines before it goes live to the public. So when you do an internet search, the results and information that show up are not automatic; people had to review all that to make sure it was accurate and the best results are shown.

So back to the beginning. I do not remember too much about the application process since it was a while ago, but I do know that I applied a few times for a few different positions and it was not until much later that they contacted me to ask if I was still interested in the position.

There was much training to learn how to use the programs and how to make proper judgments. Everything is done online and correspondence is done by email. After you have studied and practiced, you take the tests. If you do well enough, then you can start working on the real data.

They have set amounts of hours they require you to work each week but the hours are flexible and you can choose when you want to work and for how long. There is also a set pace you must work at and your results are checked for quality.

Overall the work itself was fairly easy but the guidelines were not clear and much of the judgments could really go either way. There just seemed to be a lot of gray area and contradicting guidelines for how to judge the content.

The work itself was a little boring and one thing that was noticeable was how the perception of time moved very slow when working. For example, if you worked 1 hour, it feels like you worked 2 hours. It can be a little stressful because it is timed and there is not any down time when you are working. You can log out whenever you want, but when you are working, it is one item after the next.

The software was also quite buggy. There would be errors and downtime with the program quite often. Also sometimes there would not be much work to do so they would put your account on hold until more work became available.

The pay was pretty good for a work from home type job and the payments were accurate and punctual. You keep track of your own time and it must match the records at the end of the month.

After about 6 months apparently there was no more need for the work in my program so the position was ended. Overall I would work for Lionbridge again if another position opened up. If you are looking for a work from home job and like working on the computer, this is a good option.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I Wanna Marry Harry Review

"I Wanna Marry Harry" is a new reality show similar to the show "Joe Millionaire" that aired years ago. Basically, it is like the show "The Bachelor" but instead of a random guy, it is a guy that looks and sounds very much like Prince Harry.  In this show, his true identity is kept a mystery as the girls try to figure out who he is.

Despite the silly title of the show, so far it has been very entertaining!  The casting was well selected and the contestants are fun to watch.  Of course there is a lot of drama between the ladies as they get jealous when "Harry" goes on the dates with the other girls.

So far, he has not said who he is, but has been making the effort to pretend like he is the real prince Harry.  The production crew has done a good job of adding fake security and photo shopped pictures to enhance the illusion that he is someone important.   

Overall he is a likable guy and there are already a few girls to root for and root against.  As it is a few weeks into the show, already there are some strong feelings developing between "Harry" and the girls.  It will be very interesting to see what happens has the group is narrowed down and ultimately his true identity is revealed. 

In case you are not caught up, full episodes can be seen over at Fox.com.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Annoying Features on Websites

There are a lot of annoying things out there on the internet, specifically when it comes to features on websites.  Now of course there are ads, but we are not even going to count that.  You should have an ad blocker installed to take care of most of the ads out there.  This article is about all the other little things that websites have that bring down quality and just make them less user friendly.  If you have a website with the following characteristics below, please consider changing it.

1. Pop Ups
Have you ever found a link through Google, clicked to read the article but before you could even start reading, a full screen pop up shows up asking you to subscribe to the newsletter or like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter?  This is very annoying.  First off, if I just got to your website for the first time, why would I subscribe to these things?  No one would, so stop annoying everyone with the pop up.  If someone actually wants to sign up for something like this, they will seek it out.

2. Auto Play Video and Audio
Do you ever click to read an article and it automatically starts playing a video?  This is overly intrusive and can be very frustrating for someone who just wants to read about it.  You can have a video, but to not automatically start playing it.  If someone wants to play a video, they will click the play button.  This goes for any audio as well.

3. Too Much Junk/ Unrelated Material
Some websites just try to pump as much extra junk on the webpage as they can when the part you actually want to read takes up less than 25% of the page.  I will go to a simple weather website to check the weather, but for some reason there will be a bunch of videos all over the screen that have nothing to do with the weather.  Maybe they think weather is boring and they need to get people's attention with other videos.  I don't know about others, but if I go to the weather website, I am looking for the weather, not a viral video that may be slightly related to the elements.

4. Multiple Page Articles
You know these kind of articles.  Often they are lists that make you click through 10 pages when they could have easily put everything on that one page.  I know in my case and many others, when you see a website like this, you immediately click back and go to a different website. Stop wasting our time with all these extra clicks. 

5. Disabling the Back Button
Speaking of trying to go back to get to another website, some websites will make it so if you press back, you can't even go back as it just reloads the page or takes you to a home page.  There is no better way to lose the trust of a reader than by trying to force them to stay on your website like that.

6. Slides and Animations
Maybe this does not bother other people, but when I am trying to read an article, I do not want a slide show going on in the side bar.  Anything moving around is very distracting if you are not actually looking at it.  It is the worst when they do not even give the option to stop it from moving or playing.  Sometimes I will leave a website just because of moving slides or graphics like this.

7. Auto Load / Auto Scroll
More and more websites are making it so when you scroll to the bottom of a website, it automatically loads more content.  This is not good because most of the time it jumps and you lose your place and have to scroll back up to figure out where you left off.  This is related to the videos playing by themselves.  If readers want to seem more results, they can click next or show more. Do not keep adding more results just because we are getting near the bottom of a page. 

What other things do you find annoying on the internet?  Leave them in the comments below!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Food Recommendations - Best Foods on a Budget

In this blog I will recommend some of my favorite foods that are not too expensive.  These are foods that are easy to prepare, good tasting, and are relatively healthy. They can be found at a variety of stores including Jewel, Target, and Mariano's as well as other grocery stores.  Here are some of my favorite foods narrowed down by category:

Best Pasta: Racconto - Mezzi Rigatoni

One of my favorite things to cook is pasta and over the past few months I have been trying a different brand every week.  It is surprising how many different pasta brands there are yet the ingredients are usually very similar.  Some pastas were better than others but in the end, my favorite brand was Racconto and favorite pasta shape was the Mezzi Rigatoni.  Racconto pasta is about $1-$2 for a pack that makes about 4 servings.  The pasta has a great taste with a touch of sweetness to it.  The Mezzi Rigatoni is a perfect shape with bite sizes pieces and textured ridges.  This brand can be found at several different grocery store chains. 

Best Juice: Tree Top - Apple Grape

Like pasta, I am also really into juices.  I have been trying just about every brand of 100% juice out there.  While most are pretty good, I have found the best so far to be the Apple Grape juice from Tree Top.  It is very sweet and holds it's flavor well.  I find many other juices tend to lose the quality of flavor over time or are watered down.  This juice is very good at quenching thirst and goes well with meals.  You can find it in stores for about $2-$3 for a large bottle.  A few runners up in the 100% juice category include Langers, Ocean Spray, and Motts juice vegetable blend. 

Best Frozen Pizza - Culinary Circle - Roasted Vegetable and Goat Cheese Pizza

I have been trying many different frozen pizzas in the $5 range.  Most of them are just ok.  Today I tried the Culinary Circle brand for the first time because it was on sale for $4.  They had the vegetable pizza which is the type I like so I decided to give it a whirl.  The nutrition looked pretty good compared to most other frozen pizzas especially with the sodium content which was the lowest I have seen in a product like this.  Also the quantity of pizza is higher than most of the competitors which is a plus.  So how did it taste?  Very good!  I would have to say this is the best brand I have tried to far and I look forward to trying other varieties of their pizza in the near future. 

Best Peanut Butter - Jif Natural Crunchy

I buy a lot of peanut butter and lately I have been going for the natural kinds and the chunky variety.  I know that is very subjective, but for brands right now I recommend Jif.  I also like Skippy but they have been skimping on the amount of peanut butter per jar in the latest packaging so for the best bang for your buck, Jif is the way to go.  The peanut butter tastes good, it is natural, and it does not need to be stirred or refrigerated.  I recommend either the crunchy or smooth depending on your preference.  It can be found for about $3 per jar at most grocery stores.

Best Cereal - Wild Harvest Organic - Cherry Vanilla Granola

Now there are a lot of different kinds of cereals out there so it is hard to pick a best one, but for flavor and nutrition, I highly recommend the Cherry Vanilla Granola by Wild Harvest.  The problem is, it is very hard to find right now and may even be out of production.  They currently sell the Vanilla Almond granola, but the cherry has been gone for some time now.  It is a shame because it was very good!  If you can find it, I recommend picking up a box if you like granola style cereal.  If they do not have the Cherry, the Vanilla is a good second choice for about $3.

Best Soy Milk - Roundys Original Flavor

I have tried several varieties of plain soy milk and some are definitely better than others.  For the best flavor and value, I recommend the Roundys brand soy milk.  It has a great taste, good nutrition, and can be found for about $2.50 for a standard size carton. It also comes in different flavors if you prefer, but I recommend the plain original flavor to go with cereal or to drink on its own.


Best Nutrition Drink - Market Pantry Nutrition Shake Chocolate Plus

The foods on this list are not low in calories as you may have noticed.  These foods are good values for getting a lot of calories for your money while also being healthy.  One of my favorite ways to get easy calories, vitamins, and minerals is with nutrition drinks.  While the best is Ensure brand, they are very expensive so the best alternative is the Target brand Market Pantry.  They have nutrition drinks in regular and plus style which are much more affordable at about $7 for a 6 pack and they also taste pretty good.  If you are looking for a quick and convenient shake, I highly recommend the chocolate flavor by Market Pantry.

 If you have any favorite foods you would like to share, feel free to leave them in the comments below!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Life Hack - How to See Without Glasses

The other day I found a video that claimed you could make your vision clearer without glasses just by looking though a small pin hole. It claimed that if you made a tiny hole using your fingers and look through it, you would be able to see clearly.

As someone who wears glasses for distance, this seemed very far fetched but I decided to give it a try. I took off my glasses, made a tiny hole to look through and then looked at some blurry text in front of me. Sure enough it actually worked! Now it is not perfect and it is certainly not as clear as with glasses, but it made the text clear enough to read compared to without this method when it was completely blurry.

Apparently this method works by limiting the amount of light that get through so there is not as much that is focused on different parts of the eye. Because of this, the light that does get through the small hole is more focused and more clear.

I was so impressed by this trick I decided to make my own little pair of pin hole glasses. Well they are not really glasses, but more a credit card size piece of cardboard with 2 small holes poked it in. I spaced them out about the right width so I could look through with both eyes at the same time. This is a bit difficult especially when trying to see things at different distances so sometimes it is easier to just look through one hole and close the other eye.

I put this card in my wallet to carry with me at all times in case of an emergency. If I were to loose my glasses for whatever reason and needed to see something clearly in the distance, I could take out the card to use as a quick replacement for the glasses. If you wear glasses, I would highly recommend trying this technique so you can use it if you ever need to see something without glasses.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Effects of Hyperhidrosis

Hyperhidrosis is a condition where you sweat a lot more than what would be considered normal. It is a condition that effects a small percentage of the population in varying degrees and on different parts of the body. Some of the most common places people have it is on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and the underarms. It can also effect pretty much any area of the body such as the scalp, face and torso. To someone who does not have this condition, it may not seem like a big deal, but to those who have it, it can be incredibly difficult to deal with and can have a huge negative effect on the quality of life.

I can remember becoming aware that I had sweaty hands around age 12 or 13. I can remember leaving sweat marks on the tables in school. I can remember being stressed out about playing the piano in music class because my hands would sweat on the keys. I can also remember not wanting to hold anyone's hand at dances because of course they were sweaty.

In high school it became more noticeable. My hands would sweat a lot in class which was very uncomfortable. I began to sweat more from other areas such as arm pits and feet. I managed to make it through high school and went on to college. It seemed to get worse in college. I can remember sitting in class trying to continuously dry my hands on my pants so as not to get the papers wet on the desk.

One day it got so bad I actually had a panic attack and had to excuse myself in the middle of class. It was so uncomfortable and embarrassing. I did not even return to class until the class was over that day. This condition of course had a huge negative effect on my education and was one of the biggest reasons I decided to drop out of college.

I started to try out different treatment options to see if I could find a solution to the problem. I tried prescription antiperspirants, a variety of oral medications, and even purchased an iontophoresis machine which helps limit sweat by sending an electrical current to your hands while placed in water. Some of the treatments helped a bit, but nothing was an absolute cure. There are a few other treatment options such as botox and invasive surgery which I do not plan on doing do to the costs and side effects of these treatments which can often turn out to be worse than the original condition.

After college, I started working in food delivery which was pretty good for this condition because I spent a lot of time on the go and by myself so the sweat was not very noticeable. A couple years later I got a job at a school as an assistant teacher. This job was much more difficult to deal with because you are stuck in a classroom all day and you have to work closely with other teachers and students. It was incredibly stressful to do this while I was sweating a lot and trying to hide it and ignore the physical discomfort.

I had a couple other panic attacks while in class working with students. To describe it, my heart would start beating so hard and fast and I would start sweating even more and I could not focus on anything except how uncomfortable and stressed out I felt. Both times I had to excuse myself and go to the bathroom to calm down. I also remember having a panic attack like this at one of the meetings where I was sweating a lot and felt like I was stuck there and could not get out.

After struggling with the school job for about 7 years I managed to start finding jobs working from home. This was better because at least if I was sweating at home it would not be a big deal because there would be no one to notice it. Currently I work from home which is nice, but hyperhidrosis still has a huge effect on my life.

My social life has been influenced the most because of hyperhidrosis. Any kind of social interaction is stressful for me because of this condition. Whenever you are with people or meeting new people it is expected that you shake hands. This is one of the things people with palmar hyperhidrosis dread the most. Even things like going to a restaurant or a movie are very uncomfortable if you are sweating a lot. Because of this I tend to avoid social interactions as much as possible. As a result, the amount of friends and relationships I have had has been very limited.

Physically it makes things more difficult. For example if you are trying to hold something or open something it can be very difficult if your hands are sweating. Many of my shirts get ruined by stains from continuously drying my hands on them over time. I have to clean things like the computer keyboard and mouse daily because with sweaty hands, it leaves a residue on these things just from normal use.

Clothing choices are completely determined by this condition. I always wear an under shirt to absorb sweat. I almost always wear pattern materials on the outside because they hide sweat a lot better than solid colors. I often wear extra layers to help absorb sweat even though it makes it more hot. Footwear has to be breathable and comfortable.

It is hard to really describe how it really feels to have this condition. My example for palmar hyperhidrosis is as follows: Go to a sink and lightly cover the palms of your hands with water. Shake them off so they are not dripping anymore, but still wet. Now imagine going though your entire day like this not being able to ever get them dry. Even if you dry them with a towel or on your clothes, 30 seconds later they will be wet again. Then think about trying to shake people's hands or try to do some kind of work while your hands are wet like this. This will give you an idea of how it feels to have hyperhidrosis. And that is just on the hands. Most people have it in multiple areas and even in more noticeable areas like the face which can be very embarrassing in social situations.

As you can see hyperhidrosis has had a huge effect on my life as well as others who have this same condition. To this day I have not told may people about this but instead have tried to hide it all this time due to embarrassment. I hope this article raises a little awareness about hyperhidrosis. As of right now there is still not a good solution to this problem. Hopefully one day there will be a solid cure for this condition which has been so devastating to the lives of those who have to live with it.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Being nice gets you further

When interacting with people, you always have a choice of how to go about it. You can be nice and friendly, you can be rude and mean, or you can fall somewhere in the middle. Based on experience, I have found that it usually pays to be nice when you are dealing with people, especially in a customer service type of situation, whether you are the customer or the employee. Below are a few real examples to help illustrate this point.

I currently work for a website that provides online customer service to people who either have questions on products or need help with just about anything. I deal with a wide variety of people. Some are friendly and nice while others are well, not so nice. Even though I strive to provide the same service to all customers, it is so much easier to go the extra mile to help out a customer who is courteous and appreciative verses one who is angry or just plain rude. In a situation like this, the nice customer is almost always going to get better service even if they are both asking about the same thing.

Another example is when I used to work in food delivery. Tips are a big part of your income when you work for a job like this so they are very important. When you work for a restaurant for a while and start to get repeat customers, you remember which ones give good tips and which do not. The customers who give good tips are going to get better service whether it be faster delivery or better care when preparing the food. So always remember to give a good tip especially if you are going to be a repeat customer.

An example from the customer side happened recently when I got over charged for a bill on my internet service. I contacted my provider and was sure to be extra courteous and nice to the representative. Usually getting billing issues like this resolved is difficult, but by being patient and kind, the representative was happy to assist me and within no time, the billing issue was fixed! So overall the message is clear, that being nice will get you a lot further than the contrary especially when it comes to customer service situations.