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Education

The films and TV series to help English speakers learn a foreign language

We all know that book-learning can only take you so far when it comes to learning a language. The real challenge (and even fun!) comes when you start applying it to real life scenarios. One way to ease yourself into applying all your hard-earned language skills is by watching foreign films and TV series.

By virtue of being something that you can pause and rewind, both films and series are great for helping both new and experienced language learners alike ‘get their ear in’ to the different tones and speeds of language, as well as helping you learn a little slang and cultural knowledge along the way!

Norwegian

  1. Skam (TV Series) – This is a great watch for those who want easy and everyday conversations. Based on the daily lives of Norwegian teenagers, watching this TV series is a great way to pick up slang and other cultural insights.
  1. Frikjent (TV Series) – If you’ve picked up on the Nordic Noir obsession, then this is the one for you. Centred around a businessman who returns to his Norwegian hometown, this intrigue-fuelled crime drama is great for language learners as the characters often repeat the crime and mystery at hand to different members within their community. If at first you don’t succeed, this TV series lets you try and try again!
  1. Askeladden – I Dovregubbens hall – This film is based on a well-known Norwegian folk tale, so perfect for those who want to learn a little more about the culture. It follows the story of a poor farmer’s boy who goes on a quest to save a princess and defeat a vile troll. With an easy to digest plotline, this film allows the language learner to focus on the language and not need to understand every word to keep up with the story.

Swedish

  1. Millennium Trilogy – From a country famous for its crime dramas, the original Swedish version of this trilogy is one of the most successful franchises to come from Sweden for nationals and non-nationals alike. Beginning with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the entire series of films is great if you want a mix of everyday conversation and the thrill of a gripping plot line.
  1. Anything based on the books of Astrid Lindgren – A popular topic of small-talk in Sweden, this author wrote books for children that have now been turned into films that are great for adults and children alike. Titles such as Pippi Långstrump and Barnen i Bullerbyn are perfect for those who want to pick up Swedish, as they use a lot of language that you might hear every day and include a lot of repetition.
  1. En man som hete Ove – This Oscar nominated feature film is centred around an old man who becomes friends with his neighbours of varying ages, so great for anyone that is keen to learn more about Swedish culture! This feel-good comedy also includes a lot of short conversations, so it’s perfect for helping language learners pick up new vocabulary.

See also: Why, and how, do we swear?

Spanish

  1. El laberinto del fauno – This award-winning film is a fairy tale for adults that mixes the stark reality of a post-civil war Spain, with a romantically grim mythical world of a young girl. As well as being a must-see film, the vocabulary that can be picked up from this film cuts to the core of Spanish history and mythology.
  1. El secreto de sus ojos – Another blockbuster hit is this Argentinian film, which is great to learn more about Spanish speaking countries outside of Spain. Based on a court case, this film is filled with useful vocabulary around crime, justice, and society.
  1. Las chicas del cable (TV series) – If you like watching series and learning in short bursts then this entertaining TV program is great to picking up everyday vocabulary. Though it is set in 1920s Spain, the themes of love, friendship and work provide some great insights into Spanish culture.

See also: Five reasons why you need languages, not muscles if you want to find love

Dutch

  1. Alles is liefde – This romantic comedy was inspired by Love Actually and even won several Dutch film awards. Language learners will be able to immerse themselves in the fun-loving film and pick up vocabulary for everyday conversations, as well as some Dutch culture. The title song was recorded by BLØF – a famous Dutch band!
  1. Ja zuster, nee zuster – Originally a successful series from the 1960s, this film was updated for a 2002 audience, and turned into a great musical film. Great for music lovers, this film uses lots of repetition in the songs and the everyday vocabulary used is easy to understand.
  1. Gooische vroouwen – One of the most successful films of all time, this movie is centred around the lives of four female friends. Set in the Netherlands, language learners will be able to spot some stunning pieces of Dutch architecture, as well as get a feel for the everyday vocabulary used by the characters.

Portuguese

  1. Que horas ela volta? – Sundance Film Festival award-winner, this film is perfect for those who want to learn more about Brazilian society. The plot follows a mother who works as a housekeeper in a wealthy family home, and how tensions rise when her daughter comes to live in the family’s house. The conversations had in the film are a highlight for Portuguese learners, as they are easy to follow but also highlight some key differences in language and grammar between Portuguese from Portugal, and the Brazilian variety.
  1. 3% (Netflix series) – For Portuguese learners who like their content on the go, this TV series is a must-watch. It’s great for picking up the odd word of Brazilian slang (and even the occasional swear word!).
  1. O outro lado da rua – A romantic thriller, this film takes place in Copacabana in Brazil and follows the story of an elderly and lonely woman turned investigator. Portuguese learners are bound to appreciate the slow dialogue in this film, as well as giving them a view into one of the most well-known neighbourhoods in Brazil.

Miriam Plieninger is Director of Didactics and part of the Management Team at Babbel, where, if you’re hooked by international film, and want to learn more, their language courses in 14 different languages are here to help!

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Work

How to drive traffic to your company website

So you’ve got a shiny new website. That’s great. But building your site is just the beginning: you also need traffic – to encourage as many people as possible to come and look at it. If you sell goods or services off that website, then getting people to see your particular part of the internet is likely to be what drives your business.

You’ll need to start with ‘search engine optimisation’ – the techniques that help your website appear high up in the list of results when someone uses Google or another search engine to look for something relevant to your business.

SEO specialists make a good living from advising businesses on the tricks of the trade, but there is plenty that SMEs with no budget for such help can do for themselves. Partly, this is a technical task – you need to set up your website in the right way for search engines to find it. But it’s also a creative exercise – Google’s famous algorithms are top secret but the company says they favour sites with interesting and original content that is regularly updated.

In fact, the best source of advice on SEO are the search engines themselves. They all publish free guides packed full of information on how to improve a website’s search engine ranking. See Google’s Webmasters pages for a start.

See also: Six ways to improve your website’s SEO

Another option is to pay for advertising on the search engines through services such as Google Adwords and Bing Ads. These guarantee your business will appear prominently in search results in certain circumstances and you can target precisely – with adverts placed in response to particular search times, in particular locations and at particular times of the day, for example. You’ll need to spend money, but you can set a daily budget.

Social media, meanwhile, presents another opportunity to drive traffic to your website and to raise your business’s profile. Which social media platform provides the best fit for your business will depend on the nature of your trade, so do your research before deciding where to focus your efforts. Equally, don’t be half-hearted about your social media– aim for engaging content rather than an outright sales pitch and keep working at it, posting as regularly as you can.

Don’t overlook the way traditional marketing methods can be adapted to digital technologies. For example, email marketing campaigns can be a highly effective way to reach out to new customers.

That doesn’t mean bombarding random groups of people with spam emails. Plenty of companies sell bespoke data lists, which should enable your business to purchase the contact details of key groups of potential customers who will be susceptible to your message. Make sure your campaign is as relevant as possible to the target group to give yourself the best chance of good conversion rates.

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Education

What is learning in 'blinks', and why you should do it

For many of us, studying is over the minute we leave school or university. However, as we settle into our adult routines, many find that the craving for new information returns. Sadly, as an adult, it can be a little more difficult to find the time to learn new things, as we are often juggling many tasks and responsibilities. This is where learning in blinks comes into play.

Think of that non-fiction book you wanted to read to improve your career, to become a more mindful person or to simply learn something new. Well, a book-in-blinks is that book, condensed into a fifteen minute text and audio format, that you can dive into on your commute or as you workout, while cooking, or whenever you have a spare minute.

Why should you do it?

Blinks teach you new things
The most obvious benefit of a book-in-blinks is also the most important one – it will teach you something new. You don’t need to carve out time and money to attend an after-work class, or make painstaking notes as you read something new. Learning in blinks gives you information in short bursts, making it easier to commit to your memory and, if you forget something, the information is right there, kept safe on your phone.

Blinks help you maximise your downtime
In a world where every moment is filled with something and every minute is spent rushing from A to B, a tool that can maximise your downtime is invaluable. By learning in blinks, you don’t have to worry about finding the time to read, or fret about freeing up time on your schedule to sit down with a new book. Every spare fifteen minutes can be used to learn something new, instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media or worrying about your to-do list.

Blinks give you choice
If you are someone who is interested in a bit of everything, you might often be faced with the difficult choice of prioritising. Do you want to focus on improving your productivity, or would you rather discover new ways of being healthy? Should you find out about your subconscious or learn about great historic events? Books-in-blinks give you the chance to do all of this, switching from listening to one of the world’s greatest thinkers, to reading about corporate culture, in the blink of an eye.

Blinks allow you to stay up-to-date
Whether you are worried that you don’t have enough to contribute during work meetings, or perhaps you are the one left listening while your friends converse about the issues of the day, learning in blinks will make you feel more interesting. You can woo your friends with your knowledge of psychology, or impress your boss with your insights into sustainable business models, or maybe discuss the main points of Fire and Fury on your next date.

Ben Hughes is head of content at micro-learning app and platform Blinkist.

See also: There is more to learning that Ted Talks

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Work

How to create a content strategy to grow your brand on YouTube

Having a YouTube channel is now considered a basic part of any company’s digital footprint. It’s just normal. But what do you put in it? Having a content strategy specifically designed to both get your messages across and to grow your number of subscribers.

See also: How to create a YouTube channel

You should have a content strategy specifically for YouTube, so, while you’re pulling that together, take these tips onboard:

When you’re scripting a video, it should be a precis of your company’s approach to a product or a topic. It shouldn’t be everything. Making key points, rather than attempting to cover the whole of an issue.

When you’re talking about a topic (rather than a product), try and have a point of view.  ‘Balanced’ content may be easier to deliver within the culture of your industry, but it does not drive understanding or engagement. A stronger voice is helpful to gain audiences.

Don’t be afraid of using a more obviously clickbait approach – titles which ask questions, for example encourage people to click and watch for the answers.

Make it shareable – the sort of tone, approach and product which people will pass on. Easier said than done, and will come from experimentation, A+B split testing and, probably, some videos which will fail, but the ability to experiment is key.

Storytelling is vital. A point about changes in your industry or market is better made through the story of a single consumer than in the data of millions. That data can be used and related, but finding a story which illustrates the broad thrust of the argument will resonate with users much more.

Engagement is a key factor. It’s not wise to encourage your staff to participate in debate below the line (ie react to comments), but small engagements, like encouraging users to vote on videos can boot algorithms in your content’s favour and keep users connected to your brand.

Actively encourage subscription. In newsletter, emails, messaging across your digital estate, encourage users to subscribe more than watch. Watching a video can be singular, subscribing encourage repeat and return visits. Building subscriptions should be key, the views will rise accordingly. For more tips on that, see:
Three ways to get more subscribers to your YouTube channel.

See also: The teacher’s guide to using YouTube in the classroom

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Work

Essential apps to download before you travel solo

The key apps to make your travel so much easier.

Ensure your electronics are easily protected

Trov
Before you travel solo it can be a good idea to get your belongings insured. However, in the rush of planning and packing for your trip, this is often put to the bottom of the list and easily forgotten. An app that allows you to quickly insure common electronic items is Trov, which offers protection for items such as laptops, mobile phones, and cameras, allowing users to turn insurance on and off with a simple swipe within the app. Available on iOS and Android. Available to download for free, with price dependent on cover

Get the lingo

Babbel
Babbel is the perfect app to download if you want to pick up a bit of local lingo before you set off on your travels. Available in 14 languages, from Spanish to Indonesian, the app will get you talking no matter your level – beginner, moderate or advanced. Not only can you practice your language skills and work on your accent from the first lesson, but the content you learn can easily be applied to real life situations, helping you feel confident no matter where you are travelling to. Available on iOS and Android. Free to download, and price to use from $6.95 per month (based on a 12 months subscription)
See also: The 9 easiest languages for English speakers to learn

Remember your trip

LiveTrekker
LiveTrekker is the app every solo traveller needs to help document their travels in a digital travel diary. LiveTrekker maps you wherever you go, creating a map of the routes you take and the places you walk by. As you create the map, you can add audio, video and text, bringing your travels to life and allowing you to look back and share your travels with friends and family whenever you want. It is also great for active travellers, as it monitors your speed and altitude, as well as the route. Available on iOS and Android. Free to download and use.

Eat like a local

Foursquare
Foursquare is an app you need to download whenever you travel to a new city, whether travelling in a group or alone. The fantastic tips from the locals will make sure that you don’t get stuck in the typical tourist traps, instead exploring all the hidden secrets the city has to offer. The app shows you the best of the local food, drinks and attractions, meaning that you will experience the true spirit of each place you travel to. Available on iOS and Android. Free to download and use.

Say hello to your personal organiser

Tripit
One of the most stressful things about travelling alone is keeping track of all the important documents. A great app to help organise essential information, and keep it all in one place, is Tripit. Tripit collects all the small pieces of information from your confirmation emails – flights, hotels, bookings, rentals, and everything else, and puts it together into your own, bespoke itinerary. All you need to do is forward the emails to the app, making it easy to manage the travel admin.  Available on iOS and Android. Free to download and use. A Pro version is available for $49.00 for an annual subscription.

Find an internet connection anywhere

Wifimapper
While you may be trying to put away your smartphone and tablet and embark upon a digital detox while travelling, the chances are that at some point you may require Wi-Fi, whether it’s to look something up, or update your friends and family on where you are. In this situation, a good app to have to hand is Wifimapper. Wifimapper allows you to see all the available Wi-Fi spots in your immediate vicinity, and even gives you a description of the venue, ensuring that you can pick a location that you will be happy to visit. Available on iOS and Android. Free to download and use.

 

See also: Seven apps to learn seven new skills

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Work

Able2Extract Pro 12: A Professional PDF Tool Giveaway

For some, dealing with PDFs in an ongoing, everyday struggle. For others, a tedious task that hampers productivity from time to time. The bottom line is, almost everyone needs a professional PDF tool in their productivity toolbox to get the job done accurately and efficiently.

Nevertheless, obtaining a powerful piece of software means spending money. Free services and tools developed to tackle just a single issue simply won’t cut it when it comes to serious PDF work.

That’s why we’re glad to present you with the opportunity to win 1 of 5 lifetime licenses for Able2Extract Professional 12, an all-in-one PDF suite, already featured in a round-up of DailyGenius’ 5 best productivity tools for your business. (Here’s a tip: the linked article can help you answer the question needed to enter the contest.)

To see all the requirements for entering the giveaway go to the developer’s website and read a short blog post explaining the process step-by step here.

Here’s what you need to do to participate in a nutshell:

  1. Be an Investintech/Able2Extract follower on Facebook, Google+, or Twitter
  2. Properly fill in PDF entry form
  3. Have a little luck in the random draw

If you want to know every little detail about the giveaway, we suggest you read the Official Rules. But, since we know that it’s not the most exciting thing you could be doing in your spare time, we’ve decided to break them down for you:

  • The worldwide giveaway lasts until midnight April 27th (EST)
  • 5 winners will be announced on May 4th
  • Entrants must be the age of majority in their home countries
  • Entry limit is one per person/email address/social media account.

If you are interested in the giveaway and want to know more about the main prize, we got you covered. In the next paragraphs, we’ll explain how Able2Extract can help you kick your PDF productivity up a notch.

Create PDF

Able2Extract can create PDF documents from all printable formats. The program installs a PDF printer on your system which makes it possible to create PDF files by selecting Able2Extract’s PDF print option in any document processing tool. The same can be accomplished just by opening the document you would like to create PDF from in Able2Extract. The process is automatic and fast.

Furthermore, Able2Extract can encrypt your documents during the PDF creation process, and set passwords and file permissions to make sure your PDFs are safe and secure.

Convert PDF

PDF conversion is the feature users will find most useful. With Able2Extract, you can convert PDFs to more than a dozen popular file formats such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, AutoCAD, Image, etc.

If you need to convert multiple files at once, there’s a Batch conversion feature and if you have scanned documents to deal with, Able2Extract’s OCR feature can extract all the data from what is essentially just an image of text and graphics.

 

 

 

Edit PDF

Able2Extract also lets its users edit PDF on the spot without the need for conversion. You can add text, change fonts, insert pictures, and more to otherwise non-editable file formats by default.

The newest version 12 also comes with the ability to edit PDF forms (the feature you’ll be using to enter the giveaway), insert blank PDF pages and add Bates numbering. Also, Able2Extract offers a myriad of annotation options for smooth and efficient PDF collaboration.

 

 

 

 

 

So, if you would you like to have this productivity-boosting tool for free and get the most out of your PDF files, try your luck and enter the giveaway. There’s not much time left until the deadline, so act fast.

And if you’re not interested, but you know someone who could use an all-in-one PDF solution to improve PDF workflows, make sure to share the news. Good luck!

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Work

Three ways to get more subscribers to your YouTube channel

Having a YouTube channel for your business or (ahem) your ‘personal brand’ is quite the thing. People watch more and more videos online and younger audiences especially are much more likely to watch YouTube than TV.

So being on YouTube is key to your to the prominence of your business (and helps with your search profile too).

And good content is key to that, but what can you do to make sure that, when you spend all that time making the best videos you can, you’ve actually made the most of that and you’ve optimised your channel and

Bear these tips in mind:

 

Develop your audience through a more consistent upload schedule

Having a more consistent upload schedule will allow your subscribers to regularly see your content on their homepage and subscription feed, allowing for a more regular presence and an increased watchtime. In return, this increased watchtime would help the ranking of the content in the algorithm as this is a core metric.

Perhaps could think about tailoring different formats or  series that you could upload on a regular basis – regular interviews or scheduled updates on industry issues.

See also: How to create a YouTube channel

Optimize the thumbnails and titles of the videos

Entice viewers to click on your videos through compelling thumbnails (the small pictures that people see which are supposed to entice . Custom thumbnails are one of the best ways to make your videos stand out and get viewers watching – 90% of the best-performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails.

For the titles, remember that YouTube is one of the largest search engines in the world. Creating keyword-rich titles and descriptions can help viewers find your videos through YouTube Search and increase watch time – a video’s title, thumbnail, and description actually work together to tell a story about the content.

Here are some best practices for titles:

  • Include descriptive and relevant terms toward the beginning of a title.
  • Display branding and episode numbers toward the end of a title.
  • Keep titles on the short side so they don’t get cut-off due to high character count.

 

Understand where the audience is coming from to leverage your traffic sources

Knowing where your traffic is coming from is key and making sure you’re using YouTube’s search facility to your advantage. Using a tool like Google Trends, can help you understand what people are searching for on YouTube to be able to tap into these searches and position the your channel as a hub for such content, planning around relevant events and trends to enhance the discoverability of the channel. You can learn search tips here.

 

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Work

How to permanently delete your Facebook account

Recent revelations about the way Facebook data has been used in the past, might make you think again about your happy, innocent use of the social media giant. The increasing understanding that we don’t quite get everything that happens to our personal data means that many are feeling increasingly uneasy about it.

At the very least: Don’t do quizzes on Facebook.

But if you want to get off Facebook, what do you do? Because it’s not exactly intuitive…

How to deactivate your Facebook account:

Doing it this way, means you can return to Facebook when you want, if you can’t cure your addiction to it.

So take the following steps:

  1. Click the downward arrow at the top right of any Facebook page
  2. Select “Settings”
  3. Click “Security” in the left column
  4. Choose “Deactivate your account”, then follow the steps to confirm

If you deactivate your account your profile won’t be visible to other people on Facebook and you’ll be hidden from Facebook search, but some information, such as messages you sent to friends, may still be visible to others.

You can reactivate your account at any time by logging in with your email and password. Your profile will be restored in its entirety.

How to permanently delete your account

If you really want to go, you can request to have your account permanently deleted. But once this has happened, it won’t be possible to reactivate your account or retrieve anything you’ve shared on your profile.

So before you take this step, you may want to download a copy of your information from Facebook:

  1. Click the downward arrow at the top right of any Facebook page
  2. Select “Settings”
  3. Click on the link at the bottom of the main menu that says “Download a copy of your Facebook data”.

Then you need to go to https://www.facebook.com/help/delete_account, click on “Delete my account”, then follow the steps to confirm.

It can take up to 90 days for Facebook to delete all of the things you’ve posted, like your photos, status updates or other data stored in backup systems, but while this is happening, it is inaccessible to other people using the social network.

And remember that some of the things you do on Facebook aren’t stored in your personal account. A message to a friend, for example, will remain even after you delete your account, so you will need to contact the recipients of you want that removed too.

 

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Five ways to get Twitter to work for your brand

If you’re using Twitter to promote yourself or your brand, its very difficult to get yourself noticed in a morass of bots, spam and fake news. But there is still worth in using Twitter.

 It’s a way of building awareness of what you’re about and what you do. But proving your worth and your authenticity is tricky in such a space. Like singing sweetly in a pounding nightclub, you risk being drowned out.

But it’s still worth trying to get in nailed, get yourself noticed, so try these techniques…

Use hashtags
People use hashtags as a way of navigating through the mire. If you add the hashtags that are genuinely relevant to your content, then the people you want can find you. Try adding them into the flow of #content by adding the hashtags within sentences, rather than stuffing them all at the end. Doing it right can, by some estimates, boost your engagement by up to 20%.

Add photos
Adding a photo to a tweet can, according to some estimates, increase engagement by 87%, as users see the message visually as well as in writing – converting attention to engagement much more quickly and effectively. Adding gifs or embedded videos can have the same effect, and users watch the videos inside Twitter so don’t leave you to do so.

Encourage re-tweets
The way to spread the message is for it to travel beyond your followers. So encourage them to re-tweet, by producing interesting content with authority. Easier said than done, of course, and have a decent size Twitter following will improve the scalability of that, and having ‘influential’ and supportive followers will help to. But the core remains – have good things to say which people will want to repeat.

See also: 30 Twitter accounts to make you smarter

Always engage
Twitter accounts which simply broadcast their wisdom and do not respond don’t really have impact. Conversation is a much more human prospect for followers – so thanking people for sharing messages, answering peoples’ question, engaging in debates around the industry you are in or the products you deliver are all ways in which people begin to see the people behind your account and which makes them react, engage and re-tweet.

Take notice
There’s any number of Twitter management and analytics tools which will tell you what’s working and what isn’t. Use whichever you like but there’s no tool which stops the need for you to pay attention. Look at what tweets work, and do more like them. Look at which ones don’t work. Do fewer of those. Simple really…

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Work

Six things to look for to improve your website’s SEO

Search remains key to the success of any website. Get on the front page of Google search results for the key search terms for your business, and things start to fall into place. But there’s a lot of nonsense spoken about it by those selling search engine optimisation services (SEO).

The truth is that when you, or your developers, are building your company website, if you keep an eye on these issues, you won’t go far wrong. And if this seems a bit techy, then use it as a cheat sheet to keep your web builders on their toes.

The things you need to think about to keep your website visible in search are:

 

Content
Content is king. It signals a page’s relevance to crawlers (the term given to the process by which Google investigates your page), allowing them to understand what the site is about and what keywords it should be ranking for in search engine results pages (SERPs). Unique body copy for every page is essential.

 

Site performance
The speed and weight of a site can impact heavily on the quality of experience for users and crawlers. Search engine crawlers won’t have time to crawl an entire site if it’s slow, limiting its performance in SERPs and scoring it badly for user experience.

 

Crawler efficiency
You want crawlers to be able to reach all of your pages and gain as much context from the content as possible, in order to position it well in SERPs. Maximising their efficiency when crawling your site is crucial.

See also: The step-by-step guide to making Google love your school website

User experience
Search engine crawlers increasingly attempt to recreate human user behaviour when assessing websites. In order to rank well, sites need to demonstrate logical and engaging usability.

 

Inbound links
Inbound links are still one of the dominant SEO factors influencing a website’s rankings. The quantity and quality of these links are equally significant and can help provide a good idea of your site’s SEO performance.

 

Visibility footprint
An initial look at where your site is currently ranking for keywords/themes found on your website and in its industry space.

 

Get all those right, and you’re well on the way.

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