Getting the web design basics right

In building a website, everyone likes the fancy stuff. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing – a shoddy, uninspiring website will put off your audience or customers, nearly two thirds of the time (according to an arbitrary statistic on this infographic).
In trying to get a site that’s bleeding edge, different to your competitors and distinctive can make you miss the obvious. In pursuing the new, you wholly forget the old, as my friend who runs a custom logo design company always says.
Which is where this little reminder comes in. Now, you could dispute their idea of what constitutes ‘pro tips’ and suggest that all of this is actually basic stuff, but you’ll have seen enough websites where these basic aren’t adhered to to know that a little nudge on details doesn’t do any harm.
Simple things:
– Get the words, and the grammar, right
– Make sure your proposition or your product is clear, with obvious calls to action to take you up on your offer
– Make sure you’re contactable
This, from may be basic, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful

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Education Work

How your Google Images search may someday work

If you’re a fan of search engine optimization (SEO), run a blog, have a website, or use the Internet at all, then listen up. The folks at Google are endeavoring to integrate an incredible new way to help you find and be found online using images.

Basically, a recent competition called the ImageNet Large-Scale Visual Recognition Challenge (ILSVRC) has brought us a whole new way of viewing (literally) images online. Done through a variety of next-generation algorithms and computer programming, there’s a whole new way Google may index your website’s images.

How Your Website Images Currently Work

Here’s how it probably works for you, more or less. You write a blog post or need to update an image on your website. You go to a search engine for images like Google Images or Flickr and then punch in your keywords and do some filtering and scrolling. You find an image, do some adjustments if needed, add it to your site, source it, and publish it. The image you found is certainly good enough and makes sense for your needs. Job well done, right?

See Also: 10 tips for getting started with Google Classroom

But what if you could actually find dozens of high-quality and highly relevant images for your website? What if that unlocked a few more ideas for future blog posts or put you in touch with another website that is right up your alley? Well, that’s the idea behind the future of Google Images search.

How Google Images Search May Someday Work

The goal of the projects at this competition? To push “beyond annotating an image with a bag of labels” and figure out a way to make image search results as relevant as possible. What’s this mean for SEO and how you’re going to be uploading images? Well, it actually means a bit less work for you. That’s because Google is going to potentially do the work for you. The mega-computers at the Googleplex will crawl, analyze, and automatically catalog the contents of your image rather than relying on whatever data you provide. This is great news for people who have been sorta gaming the ‘image search’ system by mislabeling images or adding a pantload of keywords to images in order to get them found easier.

Here’s a few examples of how Google will view your pictures, according to the work done at the ILSVRC:

About The New Technology

This technology is not yet integrated or live on Google just yet (I don’t think) but it’s easy to see why it could be useful for the Images search functionality. Here’s a bit more about the geekier side of things courtesy of the official Google blog:

This work was a concerted effort by Wei Liu, Yangqing Jia, Pierre Sermanet, Scott Reed, Drago Anguelov, Dumitru Erhan, Andrew Rabinovich and myself. Two of the team members — Wei Liu and Scott Reed — are PhD students who are a part of the intern program here at Google, and actively participated in the work leading to the submissions. Without their dedication the team could not have won the detection challenge.

These technological advances will enable even better image understanding on our side and the progress is directly transferable to Google products such as photo search, image search, YouTube, self-driving cars, and any place where it is useful to understand what is in an image as well as where things are.

I look forward to seeing if and when this tech gets used on a global scale. It’ll be very interesting to see how search results change!

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5 time-saving Google Chrome extensions worth trying

Chrome isn’t my one and only browser, but it is definitely my favorite. I know a lot of you probably think that a browser is just a browser, but I prefer Chrome for a couple of reasons. Way back when, I liked that you could just type any search query into the browser bar (not limited to the search bar on the right in options like Firefox), though most (all?) of the other browsers do that now too. The big winner for me comes with the fabulous extensions available for Chrome. There’s a pretty wide range in terms of what they do and how they do it, so I’ll share a few of my favorites that I’ve been relying on lately.
Do you use Chrome? Do you have any favorite extensions that you think I’m missing out on, and should share with the Daily Genius community? Leave us a comment below, mention @DailyGenius on Twitter or head over to the Daily Genius Facebook page and tell us about your favorite Chrome extensions!

Pinterest Tab

Confession: I’m an over-tabber. If you look at my computer, I always have tons of tabs open. I use tabs for things I want to write about, things I need to remember to do, and for your basic multitasking. I always have one open for my email, one for my calendar, one for blogging, and the rest depend on the day and what I’m working on. So the new(ish) Chrome extension from Pinterest is right up my alley. It’s called Pinterest Tab, and once installed, it shows a nice photo (from Pinterest, obviously) along with some cues from your calendar (if any), the sunrise, sunset, time, and weather. Not bad for a free extension! You can choose from different categories of photos (like food, nature, architecture, animals, etc) to customize it a bit.

chrome extensions

How did Pinterest Tab know what car I wanted?


Google Quick Scroll

You can think of Google Quick Scroll as a little gnome that reads faster than you and highlights information most relevant to your search on the page you’re browsing. After you install it, it will show a little icon on the browser address bar when there is information on that page it can act on. When you search in Google and click on a search result, Google Quick Scroll may show you some relevant bits of text in the lower right hand corner of your screen. You can use that to easily discern whether or not that search result is indeed what you’re looking for. If not, you won’t have to have clicked on the link, scoured the page to find what you’re looking for, and then clicked back to your search once you determined it wasn’t. This ends up being especially useful if you’re looking for information that isn’t likely to be found easily in a search.

chrome extensions

I snagged this photo from the Chrome Web Store since it clearly illustrates what the extension can do through the use of handy red circles.


Do Not Disturb

Do Not Disturb is a non-intrusive Chrome extension that blocks all of the annoying popup garbage that can irritate you while you’re browsing around the web. As a bonus, it blocks things running in the background that data mine and track your user data and cause your browser to run slower. Once installed, it runs on all pages by default, but you do have the option of allowing certain things on certain pages if you want to go tinker around with the settings. It blocks out all sorts of things, as seen below. It is free, but they ask you to spread the word via social media if you like it.

chrome extensions

Look at all that annoying garbage I don’t need to see! Or be annoyed by!


Clickable Links

Don’t you hate it when you’re reading something that offers a web address that you’d like to click on and go to, but they haven’t actually linked the web address to where you want to go? Rather than yell at the ‘idiot’ who was too lazy to actually link to what you want to click on, the handy Clickable Link extension turns all of these annoyances into actual links. You’ll never know it is working once you install it, but you will notice there seem to be less idiots offering web addresses sans links. Since it is basically an invisible tool, you can test it out by clicking on this link that I’ve actually linked. 

This is the end of all non-clickable links.

This is the end of all non-clickable links.

Color Pick Eyedropper

For anyone who regularly toys with graphic design or photo tools, the Color Pick Eyedropper extension is a must. Click on it, and you’ll ‘grab’ the hex value for any color on any page you’re looking at. I use it when I need to match or blend a background in a photo or graphic to whatever I’m making. Simply click on the little color wheel on the right of your browser, mouse over the area that contains the color you want, and it shows you the hex code. Copy and paste into your software of choice. Done. Super simple to use and free.

chrome extensions

Just grabbing some #468040 green from Debbie Downer’s background


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Would you eat a black burger? McDonald's and Burger King hope so

Well here’s a disgusting-looking treat that might make you choke up a little. Or perhaps it’ll whet your appetite and you’ll want a fast food burger as soon as humanly possible.
Either way, check out these black burgers from McDonald’s and Burger King. They’re dueling it out in Japan right now where they’ve unveiled these interesting burgers as part of a Halloween marketing blitz.

The McDonald’s Black Burger

As you can see above, the McDonald’s version is a bit less ‘black’ and seems to have a lot more condiments and toppings than you’d typically expect to find on a fast food burger. It appears to have an egg (?!) or two, some fried wontons, and two beef patties as well as the usual cheese and other goodies.
But it’s really the moldy-looking bread that takes the (black) cake for me. Why would anyone want to bite into a hamburger bun that looks like it was around for the first moon landing? And was potentially TAKEN to the moon?!
Anyway, let’s dive into the Burger King version of this horrific nightmarish trend:

The Burger King Black Burger

With what might be the most horrifying contrast ever, Burger King has actually added fresh vegetables to a bun that looks like a cross between poor quality pumpernickel bread and mold. Then they apparently used the elusive black cheese (still looking for that one near me) to smother the beef (?) patty.
You know, to ensure that the black burger is as black as possible.
So is this burger meant to be scary because it’s a different color or scary because it would likely kill you with food poisoning should you eat one? Or is it just scary that this is how much dye marketing effort is being made to stay relevant and talked about? Well, we’re talking about it so I guess it’s working. Sigh.

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What happens when your online persona gets too specific?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about specificity on the internet.

Let me explain: The vastness of the internet means there’s room for everyone. Whether you’re a gamer, a politician, a mom, or a foodie, there’s a community for you. There are food blogs, running blogs, and as many sites dedicated to exercising as there are to bacon*. There’s a piece of web real estate available to you regardless of your gender, skin color, religion, race, language, or anything else. You just need to find it.

Pick one thing, and you can only be that

Which brings me back to specificity. So many of the communities on the internet focus very strongly on one thing. Let me say this first: I don’t think that this is inherently a bad thing. If you’re running a site about DIY home improvements, for example, it should be obvious that the focus of your content is DIY home improvements. If you have a yoga blog, there are obviously going to be a lot of photos and descriptions of yoga poses. But just because you do DIY home improvement projects or yoga doesn’t mean that the writer is *just* into DIY or yoga. But that seems to be what the internet wants us to be: if you’re not just all about one thing, most of the internet doesn’t want to hear or see it.

Not too long ago, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and stumbled across a selfie of a food blogger/instagrammer who I follow because she has great recipes. I’m blanking on exactly who it was (clearly I follow way too many people), but her caption has really stuck with me. It said something to the effect of:

If you want to know how to lose hundreds of followers at a time, just post a selfie! But I’m posting it anyway, because this is me.

It kind of floored me. Who bothers unfollowing for one selfie? I looked through her feed. In 5-6 scrolls on my phone I saw nothing but photos of her food and that one single selfie. I’ve since had a number of discussions with different people who have all told versions of the same story: Post photo/tweet/blog post that doesn’t fit Exactly Right into the perfect small niche of the internet that you’re in, and people turn you off.

Embracing multifaceted

A lot of us out there have a ‘major’ interest, especially if you’re blogging or Tweeting or Instagramming about it as your work. But we seem to have somewhat abandoned the reality that humans are multifaceted beings. That person who has a yoga blog? Maybe they also love dogs. And surfing. And baking cakes. Perhaps they’re also a mom. But the internet seems to say that they can only show one of those things. So why does the internet want us to be so specialized?

There’s a seemingly unquantifiable amount of information on the internet. We sift through it daily, determining what is relevant to us and what is not. Is it really necessary to actively enlarge our virtual horse blinders and block out anything that doesn’t fit into the narrow idea of what we think we want?  This leaves me with a single question I hope you take a moment to ponder:

When we move towards such specificity, what are we missing out on?


*Maybe that’s a lie, I made that up. There might be more sites dedicated to bacon. But you get what I mean.

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3 lesser-known Google tools for the classroom

It seems like most teachers are already using Google tools in their classrooms. Whether you’re connecting your students with other classrooms around the world with hangouts or making your classroom paperless with Google Drive, the free tools that Google offers pack a lot of punch, especially for teachers. But Google is more than just Mail, Drive, and Docs – they offer a ton of other tools that can be useful for teachers and students that aren’t as widely used or as well publicized. We’ve already taken a quick look at some of Google’s tools and how to use them in classrooms (including some of the more well-known ones) as well as exploring a few of the lesser known Google tools.
In an effort to help you further fill (and refine) your Google toolbox, we’ve researched and tried out a few more Google tools for the classroom that we think you’ll find useful.  If we haven’t yet explored your Google tool, then let us know by by leaving a comment below,  mentioning @DailyGenius on Twitter or head over to the Daily Genius Facebook page and add your favorite tool there. We want to hear about what you love to use!

A Google A Day

We all like games, and Google knows this (probably because they follow us around the internet all day…). A Google A Day capitalizes on this knowledge and uses it to turn internet searching into a fun game that will teach you how to optimize your web searching skills. Every day, there are three questions available. Click on the first, and the question appears with a text box below for the answer. There is also a timer just below that begins counting as soon as you come to the question, along with links for a hint, a clue, or to skip the question. You’ll need to open another tab to do your Googling to find the answer. The questions are usually such that there are several degrees of separation, so you’ll generally need to search for a couple of different items in order to get the answer. The faster you answer the question, the more points you’ll get.
This is a fun little game, but can be used to help you hone web searching skills for both students and adults.
google tools

google tools

This is not actually the answer to the above question.


Google Keep

Google Keep is an app that connects to your Google Drive and functions as a simple to use note-taking interface.  There is a web version, an Android version, a Chrome version, and is sync-able across all devices. It is so easy to use that there are basically only a few instructions you’ll need. Add a note, tick the check box to indicate that task is done, and swipe to archive it. There is a search function that allows you to search all your notes to find what you’re looking for (particularly useful if you make a lot of notes or have been using the interface for awhile), and you can drag and drop to rearrange things if you want to move something to the top of your list. It also enables you to add a photo as a note – which is great for screenshots or photos of things you want to remember later. Great for everyday list making, classroom tasks, homework lists, and more. Free and appropriate for any age.

google tools

I’ve added in some very serious items to my to do list and a few notes to demonstrate what Google Keep can do.

Course Builder and Open Online Education

I’m lumping the two of these together because they are inextricably linked. Course Builder is an open source education platform that lets you put your course content online for just about any audience. You can set up online courses for your classes, use it for putting professional development courses online, or better yet – take a course that someone else has built. There is a directory of all courses made using Course Builder. You’ll need a bit of technical know-how to use Course Builder, but it is a pretty robust platform overall. Open Online Education is what I might call the ‘primer’ for building something with Course Builder. It offers some insights, a ‘kit’ that offers best practices and guidelines not only about building your course, but about teaching online more generally.
google tools


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How to remove embarrassing photos from the internet

The internet never forgets. Not only does it not forget, it seems to actively celebrate those parts of your online life you regret the most. Those pictures, for example. You know the ones. THOSE pictures, from that time. When strong drink was taken…
When those snaps make it online and spread amongst your friends on social media, it doesn’t necessarily stay like that. Prospective employers looking to find a little more about you can find them, to say nothing of that Facebook-stalking ex who is smugly monitoring your downfall.
The right to be forgotten isn’t just a legal Google minefield, however, it’s also a process you can undergo yourself. It is possible, though not always easy, to remove those photos from the web, just follow the visual below for step-by-step instructions on how to get content removed on Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Twitter, courtesy of

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How whale poop can help save the climate

Saving the whales is obviously a good thing. And not just because they’re stunningly beautiful, majestic and smart. In an eerie parallel of the plot of Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home, it turns out that the whales may just have the key to saving the planet.
When larger whales evacuate their bowels what emerges is something that looks like pink diarrhoea containing a few hard squid beaks and undigested shells. The colour comes from their diet, mostly small crustaceans such as krill. Whales that feed on larger prey like squid tend to have paler colour poop but what it lacks in colour it makes up for in usefulness. Sperm whale poop, for example, is very rich in iron. This is a good thing because iron stimulates the growth of phytoplankton (plant plankton), which then serves as a carbon trap. Just like plants on land, phytoplankton absorbs CO2 and puts out oxygen. It then holds onto the carbon and uses it for growth. It’s been estimated that phytoplankton alone remove some 400,000 tons of carbon from the atmosphere each year. So whale poop has a significant impact on reducing the greenhouse effect, it seems.
Of course, whales also create CO2 every time they breathe out, just as we do. However, it is around half as much carbon as they help to trap. Sperm Whales in the Southern Ocean release around 220,462 tons of carbon when they exhale but their poo stimulates the drawdown of 440,925 tons of carbon, according to research by Trish Lavery, a marine biologist from Flinders University, South Australia.
‘In the past, whales may have made a substantial contribution to carbon drawdown’, she explains. ‘However, most whales are currently at 1-10% of their historical population sizes. If Southern Ocean Sperm Whales were at their historic levels, meaning their population size before whaling, we would have an extra 2 million tonnes of carbon being removed from our atmosphere each and every year.’ That’s an extraordinarily good reason to save the whales.
And a solution to the global warming problem that is smart, humane and civilised. Better get on with it.
Steve is crowdfunding his book on lateral thinking and problem solving, Why Did the Policeman Cross The Road?, on Unbound.

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How to turn negative thoughts into productive thinking

We’ve all had those days, when we’re hosting a big old pity party at our table for one. You know how it is, when everything overwhelms you and you can’t get out of your own way enough to actually get things done. Everyone has these days every once in awhile, even if you’re not ‘depressed’ or a generally negative person. And while no one likes Debbie Downer, negativity does more than make people roll their eyes and not want to hang out with you  – it squelches your ability to be productive.
Being positive doesn’t have to be all cheesy and touchy-feely-happy-I-love-you-rainbows-and-glitter-and-candy-and-unicorns, it can be as simple as reforming how you look at a situation. We’ve created the handy infographic below that addresses some common self pooh-pooh statements and how to spin them to help you get back your productive mojo and get going with some truly productive thinking.
What do you do to turn your tough days into productive ones? Share them with us on Twitter by following @DailyGenius and share your thoughts!

Turning negativity into productive thinking

  • I’m not good at this –> What am I missing that will enable me to do this? How can I approach this differently? You may not be good at doing something…yet, but things take practice. While the ‘thing’ in question may not be one of your strong suits, there are always different ways to approach difficult tasks to make them work better for you.
  • I don’t have the right tools–> Necessity is the mother of invention. How can I find a different way? If all you’re seeing is an ability to do something because of a lack of the right (or enough) tools, you’ll never be able to see a different way around using that particular thing.
  • My work isn’t good enough–> I can improve if I do these specific things. Looking at how and why something you’ve done isn’t sufficient allows you to set specific, measurable goals for the future.
  • This is all my fault–> I accept that I contributed to this problem, and my team and I can learn to communicate and work better together from this experience. Personalizing any situation is never a good idea. Even if the blame may largely fall in your lap, you can always learn something for next time.
  • I’m not as good as him/her–> What does that person do well that I can learn from? Everyone is good at something, and comparing yourself in a negative light is only going to make you feel lousy. Instead of seeing a hierarchy of you and ‘them’, look at what the person in question does to make them ‘good’ at something you want to be good at. Don’t copy that, necessarily, but learn from it.
  • I can’t do this--> I’ve felt overwhelmed before, and I’ve made it through. I’ll be able to do that again this time. If you tell yourself that you just can’t do something, you probably won’t be able to. Chances are, you’ve done something difficult in the past, and you’ll be able to do difficult things again.
  • This is too hard–> This may take some extra time and effort. If you see something as do-able, but with some extra effort, you’ll apply yourself to the task differently than if you approach it as an impossible task.
  • I made a huge mistake–> Mistakes help me learn where I need to improve. Self-reflection is hard. It generally shows us the things about ourselves that we least want to see. But if you examine your mistakes, they’ll likely shed some light on things you need to improve on. And the first step of improvement is figuring out what you have to work on.
  • I don’t have enough time–> I’m working on prioritizing and time management so that I can fit in the most important things in my life. There will always be too many things to do and not enough hours in the day. Prioritize, and you’ll find time for the stuff that matters the most.
  • This is the most I can do–> This is just one step on my journey, I wonder where I can take myself next. If you see your situation as permanent, you’re less likely to try to work to change the situation. You can always get a different job, do something different, do more, try harder. Approaching say, a lousy job with a negative attitude isn’t going to help you get the most out of that job and use it as a stepping stone to something that is a better fit for you, but strategically evaluating and planning how to move forward will. You just need to envision that you’re able to do that.


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How to find the best Twitter hashtags for your interests

In our never-ending quest to figure out how to get the most out of Twitter, we’ve looked at some great people to follow, how to find the most relevant Twitter chats, and how to make a Twitter profile that entices people to follow you (as well as some more general recommendations, too). If you’ve checked out any of what we’ve already said about Twitter or have read what many others have said, you probably have some idea that using hashtags is a great way to get involved in a conversation about things that are relevant to you. But if you aren’t participating in a specific Twitter chat that you’re sure of the hashtag on, how can you find conversations that are relevant to you?

Finding Relevant Hashtags on Twitter

Search, search, search

Before you share your thoughts on a topic and just throw a random but seemingly relevant hashtag on the end of your tweet, do a quick search for that hashtag using the Twitter search function. Sometimes you’ll find that you were spot-on with your hashtag selection, and other times you’ll find that you’ve inadvertently inserted yourself into a chat about something totally inappropriate. More often than not, you’ll find that your hashtag is not as obvious as you had previously thought. You can do some ‘creative’ searching if this is the case – you may find that a more general search will yield some results in the tweets that include the more popular hashtag for your topic.
Example: If you wanted to add your thoughts to discussions on education, you might be inclined to just include the hashtag #education, but the more robust discussions on education usually happen on #edchat.

Find the right tool

Once you’ve found one relevant hashtag, being able to expand on that can be what turns Twitter from marginally useful and informative to a power tool for your professional development, personal networking, and extracurricular interests. Enter hashtagify. It is a super simple to use interactive online tool (and free!), that lets you plug in one hashtag to find other relevant, related hashtags. Using the example we’ve already discussed, I plugged in #edchat to the search box, and hashtagify populated with the 10 most popular related hashtags.
Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 1.36.47 PM
On the website, each of the blue circles is clickable, and when you mouse over it, gives you some statistics on the popularity and correlation of the hashtag in question to your original query. You can also click on any of the blue circles to expand the search and find more relevant hashtags and correlations (see below).
Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 1.40.45 PM
You can even expand the network of hashtags a bit further, by clicking twice on one of the blue circles, which sends it to the center of the search (see below).
Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 1.44.33 PM
The platform also shows you recent relevant tweets on the right side bar of the site, allowing you to explore not only what the algorithm finds to be relevant, but what actual Twitter users are saying as they participate in discussions with these particular hashtags. You have the additional option of setting up email alerts that will notify you, if you sign up for an account. Paid members can also get more in-depth analytics of hashtag use for a monthly subscription fee.

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