10 Things Fairy Tales Do Not Tell About Life

fairy tale

With the new live action Cinderella set to impress audiences, fairy tales have been on people’s minds. They remind us of our childhoods, and of the hopes that they had inspired in us.

Many fairy tales have a dark and horrific history that have been altered for people to enjoy. In a Huffpost article, it discusses the disturbing truths of some of our favorite tales, including one of the most popular: Snow White. It’s believed that the tale was actually based on the life of Margarete von Waldeck. Her brother used small children for mining, and after they became deformed, a man would serve poisoned fruit to the children who he believed had stolen from him.

Margarete’s step-mother was also evil in her own way: she was jealous of Margarete’s beauty and sent her away, where she had a love affair with Prince Philip II of Spain. She was then poisoned because of the affair. Sound familiar? This awful history was altered to be sold as a more pleasant tale.

However, when these tales were changed, they may have become more pleasing to listen to, but they also left out some important life lessons.

1. There’s Not Always Someone There to Rescue You

In almost all fairy tales, someone is there to save the main character: The hunter saves Red Riding Hood and Fairy Godmother helps to rescue Cinderella. But what these tales don’t teach us is that occasionally, we have to save ourselves. Sometimes in life we will get ourselves into a bind, but it will be up to us use our own strength to pull ourselves out again.

2. We Won’t Always Sing While We Work

When Snow White and her dwarf friends sing songs that include lyrics like, “Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to work we go,” and “Just whistle while you work”—as well as all of the singing Cinderella does while she finishes her house work—we learned that singing helps you get through the work day.

While that true on some days, what fairy tales don’t tell us is that some days, even the cheeriest song can’t make the things go easier. When workers, bosses and customers are stressing us, we can feel more like screaming our way through work than singing.

3. Everyday Will Not Be a Perfect Hair Day

There’s a common trait that almost all fairy tale characters seem to share: They are always looking perfect. Whether it’s in movies or pictures in storybooks, everyone looks good, no matter what is happening in their lives. However, that’s not always true in real life.

There will be many many days when you feel less than beautiful or perfect, when your hair is looking like something a bird flew out of and your makeup is non-existent. It’s ok to be looking less than perfect, we don’t need to look like a Princess 24/7. We just need to let our inner beauty shine.

4. Beauty Comes In Every Shape

Along with perfect hair, the main characters of fairy tales are often depicted as the perfect shape. While there’s nothing wrong with these pictures and movies, since they are for entertainment, we need to know when we get older that there is nothing wrong with not being a size 2.

It’s a lesson that girls especially have to take to heart for as long as we can. We don’t need to feel bad if we don’t have the waist of Belle. Pictures are just pictures. We need to embrace who we are as a person and let our looks not get us down.

5. “Ugly” Doesn’t Mean Evil

The “ugly” people in fairy tales tend to be evil. Of course that’s just to show us the difference in characters. But it can sometimes teach us that ugly is bad. Which of course isn’t true. Your outer appearance has nothing to do with what kind of person you are. Beautiful of not, it’s up to you how you live your life.

6. Life Can Still Be Good With a Step-Family

Did anyone ever notice how many how many step-families are evil in fairy tales? It can almost makes you think you’re doomed to unhappiness if you belong to a this kind of family. But what we need to learn is that, while yes, blending families can be extremely difficult,it won’t be all bad. With hard work and effort, blended families can be pretty great. They can be chaotic and fun and full of love.

7. Sometimes You Need to Be Tough Instead of Sweet

Fairy tales tend to have main characters who are kind, sweet and gentle. And while that works for creating stories with lovable characters, it doesn’t always work for real life. There are times in life where being sweet and kind isn’t going to get you far. Sometimes, you need to bring a little toughness, a little can of whoop-ass to the table to get things done or to get what you need. And those days shouldn’t make you feel bad, but, rather, they should make you feel strong.

8. Balancing Work and Play

In the famous tale of the Ant and the Grasshopper, we learn that hard work gets us ahead in life. But what also needs to be taught is that the grasshopper wasn’t all wrong. Too much work will make life pass you buy. Without any playing or enjoyment, there’s not much point of living. You need to balance work with play. So go ahead and get the work done, but don’t forget to take breaks and enjoy the life around you.

9. The Past Can’t Always be Undone

In tales like Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, life resumes as normal after the curses are lifted. But that’s not always true. There are times in life where we can reverse what’s been done, but there are many times in life where what’s been done can not be undone. Learning that our actions, whether good or bad, can be permanent—that there’s not always a “do over”—is important. It makes us take responsibilities for what we do.

10. Bad Things Do Happen from Time to Time

We all know the famous saying, “And they Lived Happily Ever After.” Every fairy tales ends this way, and it makes us feel very god inside. But life doesn’t always have a happily ever after.

Bad things really can and do happen. Our hearts do break, we lose people we love, and we have to cope with the pain that real life brings. While it’s wonderful to live in these tales to enjoy the “happily ever afters,” it’s important that we learn that real life doesn’t always turn out that way.

Fairy tales are fun, happy and enjoyable. And while there are many things we can learn from fairy tales, there’s also a lot of life lessons that these fairy tales don’t teach us about. But that’s ok—we’ll continue to love these fairy tales for generations to come. And the other life lessons? We’ll figure them out along the way.

Featured photo credit: JANIE via flickr.com

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7 Life-Changing Lessons You Can Learn from Apple

We become fans of companies, first, because of their products. But we remain fans for more than their products – rather because of how they relate to us, how they connect to our hearts, and how they change our lives. More than their iPhones, iPads, iPods, and Macs, Apple has gained a lot of fanboys, fangirls, and evangelists because of how it changed people’s lives not only through its gadgets but also through the lessons it teaches them in life. Here are seven life-changing lessons you can learn from Apple:

1. Keep your life simple but meaningful

Very often in life, we already have what we need, but, unfortunately, we focus more on the things that we want but don’t need. We focus so much on the “features” that we fail to focus on getting the “experience.”

What sets Apple apart from all the other smart phones, tablets, and laptop manufacturers are not the features of its gadgets. It is the overall feel and experience of using its products. In creating its products, Apple has always gone beyond the storage, the screen size, and the megapixels. It has always focused on the usefulness and meaningfulness of every feature to its users. It has always directed its efforts towards giving users the best experience.

You cannot sense any clutter in its designs both in hardware and software. Every function has a use. Every feature has a purpose. Unlike other products, Apple products do not focus on having the most features. Instead, the focus is on making every tiny detail count.

If something is not working in your life, if something is stressing you out, then by all means, don’t include it in your life’s design. You always have a choice not to include it. No matter how great a feature might seem, if you don’t really need it, it will just be clutter in your life’s overall design. What use is there for a big house if you cannot build a happy family in it? What use is there for a sports car if you cannot enjoy the journey riding it?

Don’t worry about how your life looks. Focus on how your life works. Focus on the experience, not the features.

Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.

– Steve Jobs

2. Add a little presentation to your life

Adding a little presentation may seem to contradict the previous point, but it doesn’t. At the core of your life is simplicity, usefulness, and meaning. But it doesn’t hurt to add a couple of unforgettable experiences and moments from time to time.

Apple has also been known for its product launches and events. It is also know for its presentations. How about some Steve Jobs magic?

Similarly, at the core of Apple events and product launches are its simple but useful and meaningful products. The company celebrates the simplicity and beauty of its products with unforgettable events and exciting launches. These build anticipation, create drama, generate suspense, and keep on surprising and so end up adding even more to the customers’ experience! How about U2’s surprise performance during the iPhone 6 launch and the announcement of their new album being free on iTunes at the end of the event? Well, that was unbelievable…and unforgettable.

Apple events and launches don’t happen often, but when they do, they rock the Apple users and the whole world.

Just like Apple, celebrate life! Add a little color into it. Keep surprising yourself! Build anticipation and generate suspense! Go on more adventures, try new things, go new places, learn new languages, meet new people, be silly, and take more chances! Add variety to your life once in a while! Have fun!

Life is meant to be experienced. Don’t just focus on existing. Live an exciting and unforgettable life!

Everything in moderation, of course. If you have too many events, you lose the “magic” and It becomes boring. Imagine Apple having weekly product launches. They would become tedious. They would become routine.

After a while, always go back to the core of your life: simplicity, usefulness, and meaning.

And remember, experiences don’t have to be extravagant. They have to be unforgettable.

3. Keep your life in “sync”

Apple did not become the most valuable brand in the world just because of its iPhones, iPods, iPads, or Macs. Apple became number one also because of how it connects and syncs all its products. Connectivity among all its devices added to the overall experience of using Apple products. Before, there was just iTunes. Now, there is also iCloud. Apple understood that the “sum is greater than all its parts.”

Your life is also greater than the some of its parts. It’s composed of so many areas: spiritual, family, relationships, work, financial, health, and so on. And in order to live a great life, every area has to be connected to the others. You cannot compartmentalize your life.

It’s difficult to have a happy family if you cannot meet your family’s basic needs. It’s difficult to find meaning in whatever you do if your spiritual life is suffering. It’s hard to build relationships with other people if your family life is suffering. It’s difficult to succeed in your career if you’re suffering from poor health. When one area of your life suffers, the rest will inevitably follow suit.

Sync every area of your life. Connect them with each other. Achieve balance in your life. More importantly, connect every area with your life’s core: simplicity, usefulness, and meaning. No wonder iTunes was also designed to be simple and extremely functional.

4. Don’t settle

Having “1,000 songs in your pocket” through the iPod. “Reinventing the phone” through the iPhone. The revolutionary iPad. And now, Apple Pay. Apple has always been known for its innovation.

Just like Apple, you should also keep on improving, developing, and “innovating” your life. Never ever settle. The moment you stop changing, that’s the moment you’ll start being left behind. Keep surprising yourself and other people. Improve what you’re already good at. Improve on doing what you love to do. Innovation doesn’t just mean doing new, different things. It also means doing things better than ever. Read books that can improve your skills, periodicals that can keep you updated on the latest trends in your profession, and plan new and better ways to do what you’re already doing. Don’t settle.

Also, if you still haven’t found the work that you love and the work you’re good at, keep looking. But, don’t take it from me. Take it from Steve Jobs:

You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.

5. Don’t rush, there’s a perfect time for everything

When the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were launched, an image that the 2012 Nexus 4 had the same specs as the 2014 iPhone 6 went viral on the internet:

However, what Apple understands really very well is that there is a perfect time for everything. The Nexus 4 may have been ahead of its time in 2012, but Apple launched the same features when the technology to create and support them were nearly perfect and when the market was finally ready for them. Especially with the Near Field Communication (NFC) Payments, Apple released Apple Pay when the customers and the vendors were ready for it. It also released its Apple Pay only after buffing security and ease of payments with its Touch ID.

Some things in your life may not be happening the way you “scheduled” them to be. Some of your dreams may not be coming into fruition as soon as you hoped. Some areas of your life, like your career promotion, your business’s success, or even finding your Mr. or Ms. Right, may be experiencing some “delays.” Don’t worry. Just like what happened with Apple Pay, believe that there is a perfect time for everything. Maybe you’re not ready yet. Maybe fate, circumstance or God is still preparing you for greater things in life. Maybe you are still being prepared to do more, to deliver more, and to have more responsibilities.

But, don’t worry. When you’re ready for them, they will come into your life. But, keep on preparing yourself. Don’t settle. Maybe you still need to develop your Touch ID before you launch your Apple Pay…whatever those stand for in you life.

Finally, as Sam Colt said on Business Insider:

Apple doesn’t want to be first when it can be best.

You may not be the first to get a promotion, to succeed in business, to find your one true love, or to fulfill your dreams. But when you do finally get them or fulfill them, they will most certainly be the best versions of your dreams for you.

6. There will always be negative people in your life

Let’s face it. No matter how much we all love Apple, it still is far from perfect. Apple also has its own share of problems, mistakes, and criticisms. Remember bendgate or even hairgate? How about the iPhone 4 losing its signal when held in a particular way? Even the iPod which revolutionized music, received a lot of criticisms back in 2001.

But, despite all the criticisms, Apple managed to keep its hardcore fans and evangelists intact. In fact, they are even adding to their number by the second. And despite bendgate, the iPhone 6 Plus still managed to generate more-than-expected demand.

Just like Apple, no matter how well you do or how much you achieve, there will always be negative people in your life. They are the people who, intentionally or unintentionally, discourage you and prevent you from reaching your dreams.

Stop living and doing things for people who will not appreciate you. There are just some negative people whom you cannot please no matter what you do or how hard you try. Instead, focus on giving your all just because you love doing it. Keep on giving your all just because it gives you happiness and excitement. The only person you need to please is yourself.

It does help to have the support of your fanboys and fangirls! They are the exact opposites of your haters, your critics, and the negative people around you. No matter what you, no matter what you come up with, they’re going to love you. They are the people who will laugh with you in your success and cry with you in your failures. They are the people who will support you no matter what. Focus on these people who really care about you.

Focus on doing what you love and focus on the people who give you energy, not drain it.

7. Be yourself, be revolutionary

Apple has never been known to follow the crowd. When computers were mainly used by businesses, Apple introduced the Macintosh, the “computer for the rest of us.” When portable CD players or the Discman was the main thing, Apple introduced the “1,000 songs in your pocket,” the iPod. When almost every computer in the world used the Windows operating system, Apple introduced its OSX.

Apple has always been true to its old “Think Different” slogan since it launched in 1997. Coincidentally, it was also in 1997 when Apple’s turnaround began. Apple has really thrived by being itself and by being different.

Right now, you may be struggling to live someone else’s life. You may be struggling to achieve someone else’s dream. Maybe it’s time for you to live your own life, dream your own dreams, and just be you. Pursue the activities that excite you. Do work that is meaningful to you, not just to other people. Stop trying to please others in order to look accomplished in their eyes and focus on what you want and what you consider to be accomplishing your goals.

Life is more than just being a success by other people’s standards. Life is about individuality and diversity. The world is a wonderful place because of our differences. Stop trying to just fit in. Be yourself. Shine your own light. And in bestselling author Chris Guillebeau’s words:

Live the life you want, not what others expect.

How about you? What other life-changing lessons have you learned from Apple or other revolutionary companies?

Featured photo credit: Steve Jobs Speaks At WWDC07 by Ben Stanfield via flickr.com

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Here’s a Simple Way to Get People to Care About What You Create

There’s a question every person is asking when they pick up your book, glance at your website, or consider buying your product. And it’s something we creators don’t often think about.

Photo Credit: Ian Sane via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Ian Sane via Compfight cc

“What’s in it for me?”

This is what every audience member and every prospective customer is thinking, whether it’s consciously or not. And the best thing you can do to make a difference with your art, to share a message that connects with people, is to answer that question before they ask it.

In other words, make your work so valuable that it’s a no-brainer. Some examples might include:

  • Offering an eBook that you could charge for and instead give it away to anyone who signs up for your email newsletter.
  • Spend an entire year (as I did) being as generous as you possibly can be to whatever readers you have, without asking for a thing.
  • Offer the first 15 minutes of a coaching or counseling session for free so that potential clients can see the clear value you offer.

Instead of making it about you, make it about them.

A funny thing tends to happen when we take this generous approach with our creations: When you make it about them, they’ll make it about you.

You know this already, of course. You just need to apply it. You’ve heard that people won’t care about you until you’ve shown them how much you care. The same is true here. We have to discipline ourselves to not be selfish, to open up our hands and not be stingy with the world.

I think you just might be surprised at the response you get.

To see exactly what I mean, watch this video (and don’t miss the other two in this free series I’m doing): Check it out.

What could you share with your audience? Tell me in the comments.


Goins, Writer

Gratefulness, Mindfulness and Productivity

"Buddhist monk in Mae Klang Waterfall" by ผู้สร้างสรรค์ผลงาน/ส่งข้อมูลเก็บในคลังข้อมูลเสรีวิกิมีเดียคอมมอนส์ - เทวประภาส มากคล้าย - Captured by uploader. Creative Commons 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Buddhist_monk_in_Mae_Klang_Waterfall.jpg

“Buddhist monk in Mae Klang Waterfall” by ผู้สร้างสรรค์ผลงาน/ส่งข้อมูลเก็บในคลังข้อมูลเสรีวิกิมีเดียคอมมอนส์ – เทวประภาส มากคล้าย

The rush, craziness, joy and anticipation of the holiday season has already begun.  As my gift to you, I’d like to remind you (or perhaps introduce to some of you) of tools that we have to help us deal with the challenges, not only of the busy holiday season, but also could help make our day-to-day lives more rewarding and, well, happier.

I was fortunate enough to come across a wonderful MOOC that has just finished on the edX platform called The Science of Happiness.  Led by Dacher Keltner and Emiliana Simon-Thomas, this MOOC was produced by the Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) at the University of California, Berkeley.  I found this course so very interesting and informative. It helped motivate me to make changes in my own life to increase my happiness.  The best news of all is that you all haven’t missed the boat!  The Science of Happiness is being run again beginning December 1 on a self-paced basis.  Instead of the 10 weeks that my course ran, the free self-paced course will be open for a full semester, giving everyone more time to read through all the great resources the instructors provide. (Check out my previous post on Mastering MOOCs with Evernote for some hints on organizing your study.  I have created a great personal notebook from my journey through the course) I also loved all the videos they had of well-known researchers and authors in the field discussing various aspects of the program. I have a long list of new books I’d like to read just from all the speakers.  I highly encourage everyone to consider this course, no strings, work at your own pace.. you have nothing to lose, except maybe a sad face.  Listen to the instructors introduce the course themselves and then check it out on edX here.

My second gush is about the Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) itself.  I never knew this great site existed prior to this course. The instructors have used a number of articles from the center in their readings and I am sold on the free e-newsletter.  It is like getting an uplifting hug in your inbox. The articles are all based on real research, but they are written for a lay audience so they are easy to read and digest.  The site is organized into Family & Couples, Education, Work & Career, Mind & Body and Big Ideas, or you can choose between topics like Gratitude, Happiness, Mindfulness, etc.

OK, enough gushing.  Suffice it to say that this course came to me at a time when I was feeling really crushed by life and listening to the videos and reading the articles on mindfulness, gratitude, compassion (including compassion of yourself!) and trying out some of the happiness exercises helped me refocus on bigger picture.  It helped remind me of some techniques and practices that centered and rejuvenated me — practices that I had let fall to the wayside in the busyness of life.

So what, you might be saying, does all this touchy-feely stuff have to do with productivity? Much more than you might initially think. We have explored some of these concepts before with regards to time management (Time Management or Focus Management?  and May I Have Your Attention?).  In those posts we learned that multitasking was a myth, and that managing our focus can be key when many competing priorities are demanding our attention.  This is where mindfulness can come into play. As our secret weapon, the abilities that we gain through the practice of mindfulness can help us stay grounded and focused in the present moment. By knowing how to take short mini-breaks to empty our minds and release our stress, we can return to our tasks with renewed energy and clarity.  Tara Healey wrote, “Mindfulness interrupts the conditioned responses that prevent us from exploring new avenues of thought, choking our creative potential.”  This kind of positive return sounds like a good reason to spend some time cultivating my own mindfulness skill.  How mindful are you?  Take this quiz from the Greater Good Center to help you target ways to improve.

Finally, I’d like to briefly touch on two other topics from the Science of Happiness MOOC.  Those of gratitude and awe.  To me, those kind of go hand in hand and relate to the picture I chose to start this blog post.  In it, not only do we see a Buddhist monk meditating, but we see the glorious waterfall behind him.  I can almost hear the water rushing down the rocks. Nature is one easy place for me to stop and feel awe of the magnificence around me. When I take the time to focus on pictures, or even better, to actually visit some of these beautiful places where nature is King, I find my breathing and blood pressure slowing; I am reminded of the vastness and wonder of the world, and I feel an unfurling of all the tight negative emotions or troubles that may be weighing me down. And I am grateful.

I am also grateful for each of you, our readers, for taking time to visit our site, come to our talks and provide us feedback. Wishing each of you a holiday season of happiness, gratitude and awe.

 

 

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Personal Knowledge Management for Academia & Librarians »

The First Question You Must Ask Yourself Before Becoming a Professional Writer

Spoiler alert: This post is about how I became a professional writer. At the end I link to a video that shares more about the process. If you want to just skip to that, just click here.

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.
–Proverb 23:7

I waited seven years to do this. I read dozens of books and wasted hours upon hours every week meeting with people, trying to learn this simple secret. It was the answer to the question my heart was asking. Maybe you’re asking it, too.

Professional Writer

Click hereto watch my free video series.

Do I have what it takes?

Every writer struggles with this. In fact, every person grapples with it on some level. It’s not just a creative struggle, but a human one. We all are wondering if what we are made of is enough. Can we really survive this trauma, this struggle, this current trial – whatever it may be?

The answer, though, is not something you can find out there, in the world. It’s something you must grapple with from within. It’s a question only you can answer. And for the longest time, I misunderstood this.

My awakening

When I was starting out a few years ago as a blogger, I had a few conversations that changed my life. Even though this question your heart is asking is one you know the answer to, you will find guides along the way. These were mine.

CONVERSATION #1: In an interview, Steven Pressfield told me that a writer becomes a writer “when he says he is.” It doesn’t matter what other people think. It matters what you think, what you believe about yourself.

CONVERSATION #2: A few months later, I was having a conversation with my friend Paul and he asked me what my dream was. I told him I didn’t have any, and he looked surprised.

“Really? Because I would’ve thought your dream was to be a writer.”

“Well,” I said. “Yeah, I guess I’d like to be a writer… some day.”

“Jeff,” he said. “You don’t have to want to be a writer. You are a writer. You just need to write.”

That was all it took for me to get started. And what happened next was nothing short of extraordinary:

  • I launched a blog which had over 50,000 monthly readers by the end of the first year.
  • The next year, I replaced my wife’s income, and a few months later replaced my own.
  • A few months after that, I quit my job and became a professional writer and never looked back.

It sounds like it happened so fast, but really the process took about nine years – seven years of waiting and two years of finally doing the work. But all of this knowledge is worthless without understanding one simple principle.

BONUS DOWNLOAD: Watch my free video in a three-part series on what it takes to become a professional writer. Click here to get started.

The Activity-Identity Principle

I don’t know why, but when I started calling myself a writer, everything changed.

Maybe it was because now that I was owning my identity, I felt pressured to live into it. Or maybe we are all waiting to become who we really are. Regardless, I now believe in a very simple but powerful principle:

Activity always follows identity. 

This, I think, is the reason behind most people’s struggles. And it’s the secret to breakthrough in your career, your goals, and your life. Before you can do something, you have to become someone.

But where, exactly, do you begin?

Start with your words, with the everyday things you say (or think) about yourself. In the words of Mr. Pressfield, “You are when you say you are.” And that, as simple, as it sounds, just might be the answer.

Here’s your challenge (and a free video series)

If you’ve read my blog for some time, you’re probably not unfamiliar with this story or even this idea of owning your identity. Because of the impact it’s had on my life, I’ve written about it many times.

But just because you’ve heard this doesn’t mean you’ve applied it, right? Often, it’s the most familiar things that we take for granted the most.

So if you’re reading this and feeling a little uncomfortable, maybe that’s a prompting. Maybe it’s time for you to take a significant step towards changing your life. Maybe it’s time to become yourself.

Here’s what I want you to do. Try this out. If you were like me, wondering when you would have permission to start writing, why not do what I did, what my friend made me do?

Call yourself a writer. And watch your confidence grow. Slowly, you will begin to believe more in yourself, and your competence will increase. It’s a mysterious but beautiful process. As you declare these things to be true, you are becoming more that person.

If you’re in, go watch the first video in my three-part series on the questions every writer must ask. Click here to leave a comment, declaring you’re a writer.


Goins, Writer

Getting Sober Was the Easy Part

“Pain in this life is not avoidable, but the pain we create avoiding pain is avoidable.”

- R.D. Laing

On January 3, 2010 at about 11:00 pm eastern time, my husband of over 25 years told me he thought I was drinking too much.  In all the years we’d been together, he’d never once uttered those words to me.  It was like he had slapped me in the face.  It was also when I knew I had to quit drinking.

On January 6, 2010, I stopped by the liquor store on my way home and bought a bottle of Cakebread Chardonnay, a bottle of Babcock Chardonnay and a bottle of Cupcake Chardonnay.  I went home, placed them on the counter, looked my husband in the eye and said, “This is the last time I will ever drink.”  I then settled in for a long night of drinking, thinking, and resolving.

On January 7, 2010 I woke up with a hangover and started my journey to sobriety.  That was the easy part.

My past reads like a text book for classic alcoholic dysfunction.  There were a long line of addicts behind me – alcoholic father and both grandfathers, gambling narcissistic mother, sister who’d been addicted to some substance or another since grade school, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  Name the dysfunction or addiction and I could point you to a relative.  It was my normal.

In spite of it all (or more likely because of it) I grew up an overachieving perfectionist who had a compulsive need to take care of people and solve the world’s problems.  I drank, but was convinced I could control my behavior.   And when I say control I mean control…otherwise, I’d get drunk every single time I drank.  As the years went by, the drinking increased and so to the drunken episodes  and it likely would have progressed further except that I decided to have children.

For ten years after having my kids I maintained some form of control, often going weeks and months without touching a drop.  Slowly but surely however, the disease snuck back in and I found myself drinking more and more but, unlike in the old days,  this time there was no pretense.  It wasn’t “date night” or “girl’s night out” or one of the multitudes of parties I threw so I could drink, although those were great excuses also.  No, this time it was just me, and my bottles of wine (yes…plural), up in my room, spending quality time together.

I knew I was in trouble.  I knew I was hurting my children (who were teenagers by this time – great time in their lives to model dysfunction right?).  I knew my husband was looking at me with concern.  I was struggling at work and my depression was getting worse in spite of the medication I’d been on for 10 years.

In short, I was a mess until the love of my life found the courage to say those six little words.

“I think you’re drinking too much.”

So I quit.  No detox (which I would NEVER recommend).  No rehab.  I didn’t even consider AA because of my ignorance of who they were and how they operated.  I didn’t say the “A” word until I was about 18 months sober!  I couldn’t be an alcoholic!  I had seen and experienced first-hand what alcoholism was and that wasn’t me!  I didn’t have any DUI’s.  I still had my loving family.  My kids were doing great.  My husband was still loving and supportive.  Sure I had recently been laid off but that didn’t have anything to do with my drinking…did it?

Maybe not directly but…

At first I was more afraid than I’d ever been in my life of ANYTHING.  This was uncharted territory and I didn’t have the single most important thing upon which I had ever relied…in fact…I had lost it.  I didn’t have control.  Wherever this journey was going to take me I knew I would have to put my faith in something or someone far greater than me in order to get through the darkness.  The pull was so strong to drink that some days I would just sit in my room and sob because I was sadder than I had ever been.  I was in mourning; mourning the loss of a longtime friend, who, as it turned out, betrayed me and left my soul stripped bare.

How in the hell was I expected to cope with life without wine?  How in God’s name would I ever have fun again without the nectar of the gods?  Who was I if not the party girl, the funny one, the hostess with the mostest?  Who in the hell WAS I?

I began reading what I affectionately refer to as “drunk books”.  Any and every memoir I could get my hands on I devoured.   They helped me not feel so alone.  Ironically I stopped watching “Intervention” because I no longer needed to prove to myself that I wasn’t “as bad as they are” and because I found myself jealous of their ability to drink until the intervention.  I jumped online and read what I could about online recovery groups like AA, SMART Recovery and Moderation Management to see if there was something out there in the world that would “click”.

I joined an AA group online but still resisted in person meetings.  SMART sounded too time consuming and before I even entered the Moderation Management website I knew it would not work for me.  I’d been trying to moderate my drinking for decades unsuccessfully.  Additionally I wanted to think less about drinking not more.  Their tools would require an almost 24/7 thought process that revolved around alcohol, and that simply did not give me the separation from thinking about drinking and the peace of mind I needed to survive.

So I carved my own path which got and kept me sober.  That was the easy part – getting sober – because that’s all I was…sober.

“Resentment is like a drug.  Once you pick it up, it will only get worse and worse until you surrender and do the work to let it go.” -Samantha Leahy

About two years into my sobriety I noticed I wasn’t quite as happy as I once was with being sober.  I began to build resentments in places they never existed.  Sure, I still had plenty of resentments toward my parents, my sister, former employers and friends but these were new.  I started resenting myself and what I’d done to my life.  I began to feed on the insecurities and self-doubt that had always plagued me and build a monument to their cause – namely, to erase all love and self-confidence.  It scared the crap out of me but, since I had been on this journey alone, I had no idea what to do or how to escape.

Since I’d been googling my path to sobriety I just kept right on googling and one day ran across The Act of Returning to Normal by a woman who had been sober about as long as I had.  Tara had been blogging since she got sober and I discovered that we had a lot in common.  I read all of her posts from beginning to end and even found the courage to comment once or twice.  On her blog roll I found others who were experiencing what I was experiencing and a kinship began to bloom in my heart.  For the first time since I’d put down the wine, I felt as if I could finally, blessedly, exhale.

I read and read and read.  Then I wrote and wrote and wrote.  I began my own blog never imaging that anyone would actually read it.  (Except Tara who I asked to read it and she did and she liked it which made me over the moon happy!)  I found that even if not one single soul ever read anything I wrote I would have to write because it had become my outlet.  Writing enabled me to take the junk that was rolling around inside my head, form it into coherent thought, write it down, and then look at it from a different perspective.  It was magic.

Reading other blogs made me realize that perhaps I had the wrong impression about AA.  I decided to go to a meeting, and then another and another.  I attended AA for about eight months, completed my step work and then something amazing happened.

I discovered the difference between just being sober and being in recovery.

That’s when things got real.  That’s when I dug in my heels and got to work.  That’s when it got HARD.

But that’s when I started getting well.

I am now almost five years sober.  I’m happier than I’ve ever been and sometimes sadder than I’ve every been but it’s all real.  I’ve blogged my way into recovery and here I’ll stay for the rest of time because I learn something new about myself and my life every single day.  I’ve learned how to be happy, to be sad, to find a good therapist, to share my experience but not give advice (it’s hard enough being responsible for myself much less anyone else), to process betrayal, anger and resentment, to let go, to open my heart, to trust.

To love.

Getting sober was easy.  Being in recovery is work.  But it’s the kind of work that you jump out of bed to get to every day; the kind of work that fills your soul with passion and makes you grateful to be on the planet; the kind of work that gives you as much as you give to it.

What more can anyone ask out of life?

Photo by Emma Brown

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Links Roundup #26

saddle and ropeCitation Management

Make Research Easier with These Five Tools is an article on Information Today by Brandi Scardilli that discusses five tools that are mainly for managing references.  Tools mentioned are EndNote, Flow, Mendeley, Paperpile, and Readcube.  The discussion of each tool is nicely organized, offering a description, the parent company, tagline, mobile apps, social media, features, customers, what’s new, and what’s next.

Stay up to date with Mendeley with their Twitter account for Tips.

Evernote/OneNote/Note-taking Software

Crystal alerted me about a great post and video by James Dvorak on using Evernote with an article-indexing database.  It uses an Ebsco database as an example, but the technique (sending a bibliographic record to your Evernote email account) could be used with many article databases, including a lot of library catalogs.

Crystal and I posted the slides for our presentation on using Evernote for research and outreach previously.  We did not post, though, the handout we used and to which we have since added.  Now we have. ;-).

Evernote is rolling out a feature called Work Chat.  You can see the faces of those with whom you share notes or notebooks, and are able to open a chat within the program.  It is accessible on all versions of Evernote and does not mention being a Premium or Business-only feature.  More information is available.

Evernote’s iOS-only Penultimate handwriting app has a new version with a number of useful features like infinite pages, a de-cluttered writing area, different themes, and better support for the Jotscript Evernote edition stylus.  I do hope they come out with an Android version!

Google

Google Calendar Now Adds and Updates Events for You Based on Gmail is a post by Alan Henry on Lifehacker about the new features.  Of most interest is the feature mentioned in the title.  The example they use is that if you get concert tickets or plane flight confirmations in your email, it will add the events automatically to your calendar. Post includes a video.

With Inbox, Google Dares to be Different is an article on CNET by Stephen Shankland, discussing the new interface for mail that shakes up the traditional way of viewing email in an attempt to make the flood easier to deal with.  Article covers features and links to other resources.

Add-ons for Forms Brings a Little Something Extra to Your Surveys is a post by Google about new flexibility in their tool for creating surveys.  Add-ons are created by third-party developers and the ones available do things like close the survey after a certain number of responses or on a specified date.

 Instruction Software

Three Nice Online Tools for Building Jeopardy-Style Review Games is an article from Free Technology for Teachers by Richard Byrne.  A lot of librarians as well as other instructors use these as a more interesting teaching tool. The tools are eQuizShow, Jeopardy Rocks, and FlipQuiz.

IFTTT

IFTTT, the task automation software, now has a channel and suggested recipes for Todoist, one of the most commonly-used to-do apps.

IFTTT now also has a channel called Followup.cc, “A simple & powerful email tool. Use timed email to schedule reminders, follow up with leads and ensure emails are not ignored. eg. 1day@followup.cc“.  Lifehacker has an article with a few more details.

Mobile Apps

Nicole Hennig is teaching an online course Apps for Librarians and Educators.  It is a 5 week course with a self-paced option available.  The course runs February 2 through March 6, 2015.  While we generally focus on freely available materials, the course is not free.  However, Hennig is extremely knowledgeable about this topic.  I plan on taking the course and am looking forward to it.  ALA members get a discount.

Hennig also has an interesting post Why You Don’t Need to Stick with One Mobile Platform:  50 Best Apps for Multi-Platform Productivity.  It mentions a number of apps available for both iOS and Android, including a few I’ve wished were available and now are.  One example is iAnnotate.  Being an Android user, I do get frustrated because it seems that almost all of the people I follow who write about apps/programs for academic use are Mac/iOS users, so I rarely see reviews of equivalent Android apps.  So this article is much appreciated!

Office Productivity Software

2014 Top Desktop Office Software Suites Comparison Chart is another excellent article by Cindy Grigg, the About.com office software expert.  The article compares Microsoft Office 2013, Office 365, LibreOffice, Open Office, iWork 2013, and Kingsoft Office 2013 in many categories.  She has also done more detailed reviews of all of these, plus some reviews of associated apps.

Grigg has also done a 2014 Top Online Office Software Suite Apps Comparison Chart.  The article compares Microsoft Office Online, Google Apps, iWork for iCloud, ThinkFree Online, and Zoho Docs Online.  In addition, Grigg has separate articles reviewing 40 features of Thinkfree, Zoho Docs, and iWork.

PDF Management/Highlights

Grabbing Quotes from Journal Articles with Highlights App for Mac is an article from Catherine Pope of The Digital Researcher blog.  She describes the Highlights app which can extract your highlights, add metadata for the article if it has a DOI, save as (editable) HTML or Markdown, and the result can be exported to Evernote, DEVONthink, or another text editor.  Sounds like a great piece of technology for academics.

Manage Research Papers on the Go with Papership is a post from Dr. Alex Hope on the Dr Sustainable blog.  Papership is an iOS app that makes reading and annotating papers with an iPad or iPhone easy.  There is a free version, but the author recommends the $ 9.99 version as having excellent annotation tools.  Found via Nicole Hennig in her email newsletter – and thanks, Ms. Hennig, for the shout out about our blog!

Podcast of Interest

Back to Work is “an award winning talk show with Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin discussing productivity, communication, work, barriers, constraints, tools, and more.” Available on the web, by RSS feed, and from iTunes.  It was recommended in a post in Profhacker.

Presentations

Kensington’s PresentAir Pro A Laser Pointer on Steroids for Mobile Presenters is an article about this product shipping as of November.  It is a Bluetooth device, so doesn’t require a USB port, and besides serving as a laser pointer also controls the volume, playlist, and controlling video clips.

Project Management

Using Scrivener to Project Manage Your Thesis is a post by Catherine Pope of The Digital Researcher blog.  It has some good tips on Scrivener features to keep track of things to do and the status of tasks while writing a thesis in Scrivener.

Research Tools

6 Tools to Make Archival Research More Efficient is a Gradhacker post by Emily VanBuren aimed at graduate students who do a lot of research in archives.  The tools include apps to manage finding aids, a good camera, a wireless SD card, a table grip for mounting the camera so it is stable, a remote control, and scanner apps.  I particularly like the idea of the app she mentions for a scanning app, PDFpenScan+, which runs OCR on the scanned documents and turn them into searchable PDFs (iOS only, PDF Scanner looks like it performs the same functions on Android).

Web Design

Canva introduces their Design School, “a new platform, workshop series and teacher resource hub designed to increase the world’s visual literacy.” It is a 30 part series of interactive tutorials on such topics as branding, fonts, layouts, and images.

Writing

Optimizing Microsoft Word for Academic Writing by Landon Schnabel in Social Work Helper has interesting tips with which I was unfamiliar, such as turning on more proofing options, using field codes, and more.

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Links Roundup #25

saddle and ropeCitation/Reference/Bibliographic Management

We have mentioned ReadCube before, which adds some interesting tools for managing PDFs for research, including things like turning references into live links where possible.  They have a PDF on the features of the software, including its Word-compatible citation tool, and a comparison chart with its features compared with EndNote, Mendeley, Zotero, and Papers.  It is a great chart, though I would always take such with a grain of salt for two reasons (1) any chart produced by one software is likely to have some bias; and (2) the features of this type of software change all the time.

Cloud Storage

Wappwolf has three products that work similarly to IFTTT, but on a more limited basis.  They connect your cloud storage (Dropbox or Google Drive or Box) to other web services such as Facebook, Flickr, or Evernote.  The range of actions for documents, audio, images, etc. is amazing.  Scroll down on each page to see the list of actions.

Content Curation

Nicole Hennig, who is just da bomb on apps for learning, has a Pinterest board Content Curation with Mobile Apps.  She has a website, Best Sites for Academics, and an ebook Apps for Librarians, and you can sign up for her email newsletter.

Content Curation Survey 2014 by Christian Puricelli is a slideshow illustrating the answers to a survey.  He got results from 282 content curators.

Digital Pens

Here is a pen to watch for, the N2 which has a kickstarter campaign in Australia.  It looks like it can do much that the Livescribe pen (the market leader in digital pens) can do, but it doesn’t need special paper.  Caveats include:  when will it be available, will it be available outside of Australia and how soon, price, and a better comparison of features to Livescribe.

Educational Technology

The Dawn of the Digital Classroom is a post by Jared Carrizales, of Mighty Skins (which produces skins for electronic devices).  The post provides an infographic that summarizes the positive views both college students and faculty have towards electronics, with students having almost seven devices each!  More importantly, both faculty and students have positive views of the value of online learning.

Evernote/OneNote/Note-Taking Software

Evernote Lovers: Now You Can Create an Email Newsletter in Evernote is an article by Kira M. Newman in Tech Cocktail (an email newsletter for startups) discussing an email marketing tool created by Mastodon which works within Evernote.  The article has screenshots of how to create and send the newsletter.  The service uses a freemium model, with the paid version costing between $ 10-$ 35 a month.

The New, Beautiful Evernote Web is a blog post from the company’s official blog (by Andrew Sinkov) about the new interface designed to be simpler and less cluttered.

Evernote has also announced a premium feature called Context, which searches for related information from your notes, from selected external sources, and, for Evernote Business users, notes from your team.

Garth Scaysbrook is an author who writes a lot about Evernote (see a short review of his Evernote book).  His blog has a number of useful short tips, amply illustrated with screen shots.  Two useful examples are Evernote: How to Search Within a Note and Evernote Quick Tip: Insert Date and Time.  Another useful quick tip is Navigate Notes Back and Forward Shortcut.

Create Watch Folders to Easily Store Files in Your Evernote Account is a post in Lifehacker by Tori Reid.  It discusses a VERY important new feature in Evernote for Windows – you can create a folder in Windows, then click on “Import Folder” in the tools menu in Evernote.  Now everything you add to that folder will be automatically added to Evernote in whatever notebook you specify.  This can be a huge help, especially for academic researchers.  Article mentions there is a Mac script that can do the same thing.  The Lifehacer article links to the official Evernote blog post with step-by-step instructions.

I have included many posts from Evernote’s Going Paperless Ambassador, Jamie Todd Rubin, in these link roundups.  Sadly he will not be posting these on a regular basis anymore.  He will, however, still post occasionally.  For now, he has a post that serves as a table of contents for his posts on how to organize Evernote.  He also has a post that serves as a TOC for his posts on searching Evernote.  The third in this series is his roundup posts on productivity tips using Evernote.

Using Evernote in the Classroom is a recent Profhacker post that doesn’t itself have much new, but links to a couple of other resources including Raul Pacheco-Vega’s public notebook of using Evernote in academia.

Why Evernote is Amazing: A Collection of Articles, Blog Posts, Tutorials, and Ideas for Making Evernote Your Best Friend Ever is a board in Storify that is just what it says.  ;-).  Good collection, though would like the date to have shown on the list.  Categories are Why You Should Consider Using Evernote; Video Overview of What Evernote Can Do; Basic Beginner’s Guides; Moving Beyond the Basics; Ideas for Using Evernote; Evernote for School and Research; and For Advanced Users.

 Goals/Habit Tracking

Building Habits and Routines is a Profhacker post by Anastasia Salter.  She discusses how easy it is to lose track of these at the beginning of a semester, and mentions the app she is currently using to track them is Way of Life(iOS only).  I looked on the Google Play store, and there are a number of Android apps that do something similar, like Habit Bull.

Learning Tools

Huzzah!  The new Top 100 Tools for Learning is now available!  The annual survey has been around since 2007, compiled by the excellent Jane Hart.

Productivity

The Projecteze System Keeps You Productive With Just a Word Processor by is a Lifehacker post by Mihir Patkar on creating a 4 column table in Word or Google Docs, for example, with columns for project name, due date, priority, and action items.

Scanning

Scanbot is an app for iOS and Android that does crisp scans, multiple page scans, recognizes QR codes and barcodes, allows annotating PDFs including uploading your signature, automatic uploading to a variety of cloud services including Dropbox and Evernote, and more.

Twitter

How to Save Tweets to Evernote is another useful post from Catherine Pope in The Digital Researcher blog.  She describes two different methods for the task.  Many academics use Twitter to create communities discussing research.  Pope, by the way, has ebooks available on using Scrivener for research (see below), both Mac and Windows editions, using Evernote for research (Windows and Mac), and using Zotero to manage references.

Writing

Scholarly Writing Hacks: 5 Lessons I Learned by Writing Every Day in June is a Profhacker article by Jennifer Ahern-Dodson that is described by its title.  Good tips for those who want to get in the habit of writing regularly.

How to Create a Content Brainstorming Dashboard to Keep Ideas Coming is an excellent article by Ann Smarty in Small Business Trends.  First mentions a couple of apps (I just use Evernote and keep a bin list), but then a number of techniques.  One I like is to step away from a project for a time… when I am writing a blog post, I first do the research, then don’t look at it again for a day or so.  When I come back to it, usually the organization of the writing of the post has suggested itself to my mind.

How to Write Your Thesis with Scrivener is an ebook written by Catherine Pope of The Digital Researcher blog.  I have been so impressed with her writing and organization, so I expect this is a really good book.  The first link is for the Windows version, and she also has a Mac version.  Both are available as Kindle versions for $ 4.99.  Scrivener is a popular writing tool for academics.

 

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Discipline-specific Tools: Science: Electronic Lab Notebooks (ELNs)

ScienceScientists have been recording data for millennia (Bird, 2013).  Since science became more formal in the 17th century, more and more data has been produced, and tools grow ever more sophisticated.  There are still some who think that if a paper notebook that records the progress of an experiment was good enough for Sir Isaac Newton, it must be good enough for me!

There are still advantages to paper.  It is cheap, extremely portable, and if a spill destroys it, it isn’t hard to replace.  If it is lost or destroyed, however, then that experiment is (sometimes literally) up in smoke.  So as computers progressed, the idea of keeping experimental data online was born, and took hold first in the 1990s.  Now there are many products, at all levels of sophistication.  They range from free to highly expensive, and are designed for corporate or academic labs or individuals.  There are versions for all operating systems, browsers, and, in this second decade of the 21st century, there are also versions for tablets.  ELNs may be specific to one discipline, such as chemistry or biology, or more general.  The more sophisticated ones may be required to meet regulatory requirements for the FDA, or to be able to meet requirements to protect intellectual property.

Notebook Software

As will be no surprise to readers of this blog, we take particular note of note-taking software.  A number of academic researchers use Evernote or OneNote as their ELN.  Their availability on a wide variety of platforms, features that include robust search capabilities, ability to add many formats including audio and graphics, and more, make them the choice of many.  As a devotee of Evernote, I somewhat reluctantly admit that for this purpose I suspect OneNote, with its infinite levels of hierarchy, might be best.  Resources discussing each are below.  Since note-taking software is tablet-friendly, some researchers pop their iPad in a plastic bag to prevent damage from spills, and type away.  Others use Evernote with the Livescribe digital pen or the Penultimate handwriting app.  Similarly, some use Google Docs or a wiki to keep track of their information and to share between a small group of collaborators.

Other Software

However, while this software may work for some, especially academic labs where resources are short, such software lacks many desirable features of ELNs.  There was a short-lived organization, the Collaborative Electronic Notebook Systems Association (CENSA).  It developed a definition of an ELN:

CENSA define[d] an ELN as, “a system to create, store, retrieve and share fully electronic records in ways that meet all legal, regulatory, technical and scientific requirements.” (Rubacha, 2011)

 

Notebook and docs software don’t meet this definition.  Corporations were early ELN adopters and had to meet strict requirements for their data, some of it imposed by the Food and Drug Administration (pharmaceutical companies were one of the leaders in this field).  Other restrictions came from the process for patenting the results of the experiments.  Many the competitors in the field starting adding features to meet these requirements as well as other desirable features such as the ability to directly upload readings from scientific instruments.

 

Currently the ELN market is thriving, with a product available to meet almost any need.  Academics have not caught up to corporations yet in this area.  Specific labs may have an ELN, and it is increasingly necessary to keep track of the work done by everyone in the lab. This is especially true of work of labs with high personnel turnover, such as academic labs where much of the research is done by graduate students or postdocs who will be moving on to jobs elsewhere.  Labs have to have a mechanism to retain their information.  Standardization across a campus might become the norm if institutional licenses become more common.

 

As a disclaimer, I must mention that I have never done science in a laboratory, so am not qualified to make recommendations about the best ELNs to use.  My purpose in this, as with the other posts in the discipline-specific tools series, is to suggest resources for finding information from the experts in a field.  Below you will find a list of resources that may be of help.  Unfortunately I did not find one source that lists all the software AND reviews it.  If you know of such a resource please mention it in the comments!

 

The Best of the Best:

Bird, C. L., Willoughby, D, and Frey, J. G. (2013).  Laboratory Notebooks in the Digital Era: the Role of ELNs in Record Keeping for Chemistry and Other Sciences.  Chemical Society Reviews, 42, 8157-8175.  DOI: 10.1039/C3CS60122F.  Open access article with excellent explanation of ELNs and an equally good and extensive literature review.

LiMSwiki.org.  Electronic Laboratory Notebook.  Last updated August 2014.  LiMS stands for Laboratory Information Management Systems, of which ELNs are a part.  Article gives good background on ELNs (better than the Wikipedia article).

LiMSwiki.org.  ELN Vendor Page.  Page lists active vendors first (about 60 of them), then inactive vendors.  The name of the vendor, their main product(s), home country, and notes (mostly mergers and acquisitions) are provided.  Last updated October 2014.

Rubacha, M., Rattan, A. K., and Hosselet, S.C. (2011).  A Review of Electronic Laboratory Notebooks Available in the Market Today.  Journal of Laboratory Automation, v. 16 (1), 90-98. Reviews over 20 ELNs according to CENSA definition.  Organization is by categories:  R&D,  Biology/Chemistry,  Quality control/Assessment or Multidisciplinary.  Reviews include awards if any,  most important features,  link to company website.   No pricing information.  The Journal of Laboratory Automation has had numerous articles with ELNs as the main or subsidiary topic, and its articles become open access after two years.

Notebook Software Sources:

Bedford, E. (2013).  Electronic Lab Notebooks.  Gradhacker, August 22, 2013.  Primarily discusses Evernote, with links to LabGuru, iLabber (now Accelrys Notebook Cloud), and the PerkinElmer E-Notebook product.  Also discusses the Livescribe pen and the advantages of tablet computers.

Crockett, C. (2013).  Evernote for Scientists: Mastering the Electronic Lab Notebook.  Astrobetter, June 24, 2013.  Reports on a discussion on the Astronomers Facebook page about using Evernote as an ELN, and the features they most liked for the purpose.

Hayes, Melissa.  Electronic Lab Notebooks.  The Postdoc Experience, Nov., 19th, 2012.  Discusses using OneNote, with print backups.

Polka, J. (2014).  Exotic Electronic Lab Notebooks.  ACSB Post.  The author uses OneNote, but passes on recommendations from others about a variety of products, some specifically ELN and some not.  Products mentioned are Circus Ponies (Mac product similar to OneNote), Curio (Mac, notebook software, includes mind mapping), Hivebench (Mac or browser, ELN, specialized for biologists), LabArchives (browser, iOS and Android apps, lots of ELN features), VoodooPad (Mac OS, wiki with many features including publishing to ePub or PDF, Markdown language, Javascript, and more), and LyX (graphical editor for TeX/LaTex).

Research Guides:

ELNs Electronic Laboratory Notebooks – guide from Daureen Nesbill, University of Utah.  Home page with definition, pages on selecting an ELN, Lists of ELNs, and implementation at other institutions.  Last updated August 2013.

Electronic Lab Notebooks at Yale – this guide is an example of a campus that has chosen one product for the campus as a whole (LibArchives, in this case).  The guide defines an ELN and discusses some features of LibArchives.

Selected Articles on Other ELNs:

Giles, J. (2012).  Going Paperless: The Digital Lab.  Nature, v. 481 (7382), News feature.  General discussion of ELNs, with some specific mention of LabGuru, iLabber, and Syapse.

King, A. (2013).  Notebooks Go Digital.  ChemistryWorld, May 22, 2013.  Discusses ELNs in particular and their expansion from just data capture but also data analysis and visualization.  Companies with ELNs mentioned are Accelrys/Contur, IDBS, CambridgeSoft, and other players.

MacNeil, R. The Electronic Lab Notebook Blog.  No longer active, but had a variety of articles on the topic.  MacNeil is CEO of company that produces the ELN eCAT.

SelectScience.  Electronic Laboratory Notebooks.  SelectScience bills itself as “trusted information for laboratory scientists”.  The ELN page has information on eleven products with a link to request pricing, and a link to the ELN producers website.

 

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Attributes and Procedure of Getting CPD Accreditation Status

The term Common Professional Development (CPD) is a well organized approach to acquiring the pre determined specialized education, knowledge, practical training practice for pursuing a certain profession that is mandatory in many countries including the UK. CPD requisites can pertain to several professions such as medical, judicial, research and fellowship programs, logistics and transport etc. as per the regulations in an institution or governmental laws. For instance, according to the CPD rules in practice in England and Wales, a legal executive or solicitor executing full time legal practice in the country (working 32 hours or more in a week), needs to complete at least 16 hours of CPD every year that will earn them 16 CPD points.

Obtaining CPD Accreditation

There are several authorized organizations that offer CPD accreditation programs. Before you proceed to acquire your accreditation it is mandatory to complete your CPD program with minimum attendance fulfillment, participation in several activities as a registered college/university candidate etc. Completing this formality will bestow the recognition of an accredited CPD provider status. More or less the following procedures are adopted by all major organizations that offer independent CPD accreditation to a professional.

Application: The first step is to register and apply for an independent CPD provider accreditation status. While applying the candidate will have to submit proof of attending the CPD program, details, of participation in activities, hours completed etc.

Review: The institute awarding accreditation will take about a month of time to review the certificates and credential submitted to verify the authenticity of the documents before processing the application to the final stage where the accreditation awarded to the CPD provider.

Accreditation Awarding and Conditions: The final stage is the accreditation awarding when the candidate is assigned a particular date when he will receive the status of accredited independent CPD provider and gain the privilege of promoting himself in the professional domain to set a milestone in his career. He will then have the facility to approach potential clients or join any institute as an accredited member. To ensure that the accreditation remains valid for lifetime, keep updating it as and when there are any changes in the terms and conditions introduced in the regulations of the particular profession.

  • Gain better client prospects as an established accredited professional
  • Beat the competitors in the professional world and get exposure to premium career opportunities
  • Explore the new job opportunities for which you meet the criteria of accreditation requirements
  • Build a network of clientele with whom you can keep pursuing your profession with peak high progress

The CPD obligations are formulated in accordance with requirement of the essential and advanced skills and education to pursue any said profession with complete accuracy. Many organizations have strict codes for CPD fulfillment of the all the recruits. However the independent professionals not yet associated with any organization or enterprise, in their own interest can opt for taking CPD to ease out their way to getting hired and setting firm foot in the professional world.

Apprenticeships are also another route you can go down and with Gordan Franks Birmingham apprenticeships it is easier than ever before.