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July 30 2012


4 Websites For Socially Awkward People To Improve Their Skills

websites for socially awkward peopleSometimes there are individuals who simply just don’t do well with social situations that most people face everyday. Do you have trouble going through drive-thru restaurants? Have you ever had problems talking to people while at a party? Then it’s likely you know exactly the type of issues that I am talking about. Honestly, I completely get it. But I have gotten a lot better with it. Occasionally, it’s nice to see what you can do to better yourself while dealing with these situations. It’s not so much that you are changing who you are (which you shouldn’t do, necessarily). However, it’s a matter of unlocking who you are inside, and that’s a beautiful thing. Below are four sites devoted to aiding you in facing common socialsituations, and although I can’t guarantee you that they will turn you into an extreme social butterfly, they should help.

Succeed Socially

websites for socially awkward people I know what you’re thinking, and no this site isn’t one which will make you pay nine easy payments of $30.42 just to be emailed one paragraph on self improvement every day (with a well-hidden option to disable auto-renew). No, Succeed Socially is a legitimate site written by a real person. Furthermore, the content is meaty, thought-out, and thorough. Throughout the site are articles concerning simple questions that may be a little too embarrassing to openly ask. For instance, problems such as “I have a hard time meeting people and making friends” and “I struggle to make conversation”can be found here.

Improve Your Social Skills

socially awkward people Improve Your Social Skills is an online social skillsguide written by Dan, a fellow who, when diagnosed with Asperger’s, didn’t let social situations bring him down. On his site are lessons to aid with varying social problems and situations that the average person may face. However, those reading the content of this site would likely have much more trouble with them. This is a fantastic site for people who are looking for a writer that can relate to them, so I believe the credibility of ImproveYourSocialSkills.com goes without saying.

The Positivity Blog

socially awkward people The Positivity Blog is focused on true happiness, and seeing that being able to function properly in one’s social life is a major building block to happiness, this is a great thing. Each article covers something that is related to social skills. However, it goes beyond social skills and into how those skills are applied. For instance, consider these titles: “It’s Never Too Late To Change Your Life” and ”7 Destructive Thought Habits That Can Hold You Back From Leading A Happier Life”.  Ultimately, The Positivity Blog is about living a positive life.

People Skills Decoded

websites for socially awkward people People Skills Decoded is another site devoted to giving quality social tips. Each article title is presented bluntly – ”How To Stop Being Shy“, “How To Be More Social” – and is written in an easy-to-follow format. The site seems to be full of great articles. However, it does offer a “free presentation” in exchange for your email address. As you may know, it’s typically a good idea to avoid items such as this. Even still the site seems to be worth reading.


These are just a few tips to help you while working on your social skills. However, nothing will beat actually interacting with people. With that said, it might be a good idea to go and do that more often! What social skills tips do you have for other readers? Did these sites help you at all?

March 01 2012


February 16 2012


Star Now Lets Acting & Music Talent Find Great Job Auditions

find auditionsIf you’re an actor or musician of some sort you’ve probably wondered more than a few times how you can easily find out about all the good gigs. I’ll bet you’ve also wished there was an easy way for talent seekers to simply find you and ask you to audition, too. Well, StarNow is doing a great job of connecting these dots and bringing all the best talent and best jobs together.

StarNow is a worldwide talent directory, much like LinkedIn, with plenty of active job offers in the UK, USA, Australia and Europe. Signing up will instantly get you on the mailing list for the best jobs in your area, so you can stay in the loop whether you fill out your profile fully or not.

Your Star Now Profile

A free StarNow profile will cover everything a talented artist will need at a basic level. Upload a small biography, some photos a video clip of you in action and some audio clips. It’s basically your résumé, show-reel and best vocal recordings all in one.

find auditions

If you’re willing to pay for a premium membership, StarNow will give you more room for photos, video and audio files, plus they’ll actively promote your profile in their talent directory. However, even if you don’t pay, your profile is still public and indexed by search engines. It’s all good exposure.

Band Profiles

If you’re part of a band or wanting to form a band, StarNow lets you create a profile for the band too. Even if you only list a quick blurb and link to your website you’re still improving your exposure.

find auditions in your area

Talent-Seekers On StarNow

If you’re an agent, director or promoter of a talent competition you’re probably looking to place an advert in StarNow to get some of the best talent auditioning for you. The good news is that it’s free for you to sign up and advertise in their directory. The great news is that there’s no commission either. StarNow make their money from paid profiles, so there’s always an incentive for new jobs to be posted.

find auditions in your area

Worldwide Jobs

Although mostly you’ll be looking for gigs in your area, there’s also scope to find work anywhere in the world. These days, many people are willing to travel for the right opportunity, so some job offers will go out to everyone.

find auditions in your area

Also, with digital recordings and Internet being so easy to use, it’s possible to do some auditions and even some of the work via the Internet. Smart employers will cast the net wide when considering these things.

StarNow limit free members to certain jobs and make all jobs available to their paid members.

Mailing List & Matching Jobs

When signing up, you choose all the types of work you’re interested in. This determines which jobs you’ll be informed about via the matching jobs list and the mailing list and also ensures you’re not receiving notifications about things for which you have no interest.

find auditions

If you like the look of StarNow, you might also want to check out Talent Trove.

Where do you look to find your gigs? What’s the best advice you have about building a StarNow profile for models, actors and singers? Let us know!

February 03 2012


7 Websites That Help You Learn How To Tie The Perfect Knot

From shoelaces to advanced theories of mathematics, knots are part of our everyday lives. The length (pun intended) and breadth of their usage makes them an indispensable skill to learn. Let’s take the example of the first complicated knot we need to learn – how to tie a neck tie. You will be surprised to find that many of us males don’t know how to recognize one end from the other.

I personally think having a knack for knots is one of the essential skills to have or acquire in your toolset of manliness. After all, one never knows when you might be called upon to rope a steer…or knot a tie.

So, if you weren’t a Boy Scout, here are a few resources that give you a notch to add to the manliness scale.

Animated Knots

This well regarded and frequented site on knots puts it best – Better to know a knot and not need it, than need a knot and not know it. Nearly 170+ knots are listed on this site. Start with The Basics- Find a Knot by Name or head to any of the sections that take you through the know-how required for fishing knots to decorative ones. Animated Knots as the name indicates is a how-to website that uses cool, simple to understand animated slideshows to teach you how to tie different types of knots. Learn which are the essential knots, or download the Android and iPhone app that unfortunately aren’t free.

I Will Knot!

From animated tutorials to those in video, knot instructional couldn’t get any simpler. If you are looking to start of quickly, then this uncomplicated site is just the thing as it doesn’t overwhelm you with the variety of knots that are hanging out there. There are just about 12 of them (knots, hitches, loops, and bends) but with easy-to-follow video walkthroughs.


Netknots relies on animated illustrations too that show you how to tie knots. You can play and pause the inline player to note the steps more closely. The focus is on knots needed for the outdoors. So you have – fishing knots, paddling knots, boating knots, and other outdoor knots. Knots are arranged by usage and also by name.

The Pirate King

Quite frankly, I found the remainder of this website that seems to be all about pirates and all things on the high seas to be more interesting than the page devoted to nautical knots. But don’t get sidetracked by all the babble on rum and buried treasure…head over to the page that teaches you about different types of sailing knots. The site is nicely and simply designed, so understanding how to form a bowline won’t be a problem at all.


This site is very useful to have bookmarked because many of our male brethren suffer from the acute disability of learning how to knot together a necktie. Hendrik’s site shows you how to stylishly bring the ends together with the help of simple instructions and video tutorials. You won’t be sartorially challenged again.

Another similar site to keep close would be 2 Tie a Tie.

Knots Guide

Ok, this isn’t a website but an Android app. It’s all the more useful because you can carry it around as a pocket reference. 92 how-to on knots arranged in 10 categories make this a worthwhile download. (Directory mention)

Knots on the Web

You won’t be impressed by the façade as it resembles a directory listing from the days of yore. In fact that’s what this is, and it hasn’t been updated for quite some time. So, don’t be surprised if you hit a domain parking page now and them. But you might also land on informative resource like Knots and Knitting that makes the scrounging through the large list worthwhile.

Knots are really out there. Well, did you know that there is an International Guild of Knot Tyers that’s dedicated to furthering interest in practical, recreational and theoretical aspects of knotting? Knots are one of those things in life that are needed when you least expect them to be. So, get yourself a rope and start practicing. And do tell us if you are a virtuoso with knots or a knot novice.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

January 27 2012


8 Fascinating Artisan Videos That Everyone Should Watch

Have you ever watched a masterful expert perform their work with such skill and passion that you had no choice but to watch and admire in awe? As I scour the Internet from day to day, I run into videos of these masters every once in a while. And every time, I can’t help but stare in wonder and respect.

An artisan is a craftsman who is a master of their field. Here is a collection of some of the most interesting and mesmerizing videos of artisans who take immense pride in their work and strive to be the best at what they do.

Tea Server

I’ve been to a good number of restaurants in my day and I’ve seen waiters and servers with enough balance and dexterity to put trained acrobats to shame. But I’ve never been as impressed with a waiter as I was when I first saw this video.

As if the balancing act wasn’t enough, he pours hot liquid into the cups without dropping or flinching – twice!

Fish Filet

When a skilled man falls into a rhythm with their work, mechanically repeating their actions with robotic perfection, I become enthralled. Perhaps this is commonplace in the fishing industry, but seeing this man filet his fish in record time without leaving anything leftover has left me impressed.

Shoe Shiner Duo

Shoe shining may or may not have a slight stigma surrounding it, specifically that it is a job relegated to those of lower socioeconomic status. But these two men, in shining a pair of shoes, have injected a new sort of life into their occupation. It’s obvious that they take pride in their work and enjoy what they do, and that just makes it more awesome.

The King’s Dessert

Now, there’s nothing particularly difficult with what this man is doing. He’s essentially just pulling and twisting strands of frozen honey. However, you can definitely feel the enjoyment and pride he has in his work when you take in his charisma and charm. Plus, he’s funny. Funny is always good.

Ironing a Shirt

What if I told you that you could be entranced by something as simple as a man ironing a shirt? Most people, men in particular, would scoff at the idea of ironing a shirt. It’s nothing more than a chore, right? Well, this man seems to disagree. Passion can make the most mundane tasks interesting.

There’s a certain fluidity and confidence that this man possesses, and it absolutely shows in his work. You can tell that he has years of experience under his belt.

Santalum Shoes

(Warning: Silence until 0:25. Don’t foolishly pump up your speakers like I did…)

Santalum makes some pretty darn good quality shoes, but they’re hand-made and only available in Indonesia. That’s too bad because I’m sure there are plenty of fashion-heads all around the world who would love to grab a pair of these for themselves. Just watch the video and you’ll see the amount of skill, energy, and passion that is put into every shoe.

Ink Maker

In this video, Peter Welfare of the Printing Ink Company describes his love for the ink making process and what goes into the creation of said ink. Not only is this video highly informative, and not only does it showcase Welfare’s artisanship, but the video is just well made – high production values and fantastic editing.

Every time I start this video up, I can’t help but watch it to its end.

Perfect Cappuccino

If you love coffee and all things coffee-related, forget about Starbucks and pay attention to this guy from Intelligentsia Coffee. His knowledge precedes his passion, and he speaks in a way that just makes the whole topic so interesting. For most of you, this won’t be more than a simple video of someone making a cup of coffee. I’m hoping that the rest of you will be able to see the beauty of it.

Do you have any artisan videos of your own that you’ve enjoyed? Share them with us in the comments!

Image Credit: Shutterstock

June 22 2011


Put Your Digital, Social & Technical Skills To The Test With Smarterer

skill assessment testSuccess in the modern job market is underlined by one simple fact – the skills you bring to the table. The fresh web service called Smarterer aims to shake our inertia about learning skills and make smarter workers out of us all. Smarterer pits us against the technology, digital, and social tools we use every day and tells us if we are able or inept with them.

Smarterer’s mission is to put a number (or a score) on the skills we write about in our resumes. If you have the smarts, let’s head below and see how Smarterer and its battery of tests validate your digital savvy.

What Is Smarterer?

Smarterer tests your skill level and knowledge in the digital apps you use every day. The web app has developed a proprietary system and algorithm that can benchmark anyone’s skill in just 10 questions and 60 seconds.

The Smarterer blog says – Smarterer’s scoring algorithm validates and quantifies skills using an 800 point scale, similar to the GMAT or SAT, and provides users labels such as “smart”, “smarter,” and “smarterer” to describe their skill level at a glance. Only 5 percent of users score in the top level, which reflects the adaptive nature of the algorithm and their rank against the community of users.

More importantly, the blog also says that Smarterer is designed for professionals within the first 10 years of their careers — college students who have little experience (but a broad set of skills that make them employable) and individuals who are making their first or second career move and need to show skills to get the next great job.

skill assessment test

Bring On The Tests…

Register and log into Smarterer. Smarterer allows us to take as well as create skill assessment tests. Just to get a feel of things, I think I will take a few tests and see how I score. There are nearly 70+ tests with the likes of Facebook, Gmail, LinkedIn interspersed in the midst of tests like Dog Training and Literature for Children.

computer skill test

Some of these tests are of course user-created but it goes to show that as the variety starts piling up, you can really put all facets of your personality under the scanner.

Here’s a screen from the Google Search test I opened with:

computer skill test

You can try out the single test question just to get a feel of things and how the system times you through each question. Correct responses are indicated by green, incorrect ones get emblazoned in red.

computer skill test

The tests are rapid and each question needs to be answered in 20 seconds or less. The screenshot below shows how I fared with Facebook (the results from my Google Search test weren’t red hot!):

skill test

Your ‘smartness’ gets measured on an 800 point scale. As the screen shows, I am merely ‘smart’ so far, not the smartest one around. You can share your score via Twitter or Facebook. But I think I will make an attempt at improving them before I let the whole world in. You can answer a few more questions to improve your score and graduate up the smartness scale. There are some things which influence the final score. This is where the ‘intelligence’ of the site kicks in.

skill assessment test

Smarterer not only allows you to add your own questions to existing tests, but also create a brand new skill assessment test on a topic. You can create the tests, write the questions, and design the answers. If all goes well with the tests and your answers, you can see yourself on the leader board. Moreover, you can ‘show off’ you score with an embedded badge on your blog, website, or email.

There’s lot to like about Smarterer: from its very user-friendly and clean design to the speed of the tests. I liked the scoring system which made picking up the points not just a case of answering correctly. Do you have the smarts? Take a test on Smarterer and let us know your score for this quiz and learning app.

Put Your Digital, Social & Technical Skills To The Test With Smarterer is a post from: MakeUseOf

More articles about: education, job tips, learning, personal development, quiz, skills, test

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March 29 2011


Fiverr: A $5 Marketplace For Anyone Looking For A Service

fiverr marketingImagine you’ve got a photo of yourself or a friend which you really like, but you know it could be made perfect with just a little Photoshop magic. Except you don’t really know much about retouching photos yourself so you’re a little stuck. What you really need is a friend or helper who can just do it for you, maybe in return for a few drinks. How will you find that person? Well, these days we have Fiverr.

Instead of hassling your friends, you can browse Fiverr to find someone offering the right sort of services. You can even check out examples of their work and ratings from previous customers before you ask them to do the job. And when you make the deal, you’re only promising $5. It’s only as risky as asking a friend to do you a favour and promising a few drinks in return. How’s that for a great idea?

What’s Fiverr?

In short, Fiverr is a marketplace, connecting people who have skills they’d like to sell for $5 with people who want small things done for $5. The $5 price point is crucial and leads to some fascinating offers.

fiverr marketing

Sign-up is quick, directly through Fiverr or even quicker with a Facebook login.

What Do People Sell for $5?

On Fiverr, there are people selling Photoshop skills, offering to draw pictures for you, offering to post postcards from a particular country, offering virtual assistant duties, posting special family recipes, singing happy birthday, offering critiques of websites, giving tourist advice of their local area, songwriting, giving industry advice, writing your name in Chinese calligraphy or elvish, taking photos of messages in coffee froth, proofreading and all sorts of other random offers.

fiverr review

Browse by popularity, rating or the type of service and you’ll get a feel for the variety of skills available on Fiverr. The ideas are wild and varied — some of them are so unexpected! Browse away and you’ll find yourself thinking “Hey, that would be cool. Yeah, I’d pay $5 for that!”.

fiverr review

If you do want to buy someone’s services, Fiverr links into PayPal to make payments simple.

What If No-One Offers The Skill I Want?

If no-one’s offering the service you’re after specifically, you can also advertise as a buyer in need of that service. To do this, look for “Request Gigs” in the right-hand column. Say what you’d like done for $5 and see if anyone takes you up on your offer.

five dollar marketing

What Could You Sell For $5?

As you’ve seen, there are many possibilities as to what you can sell through Fiverr. What is clear though, is that people selling their skills must quantify exactly what they will do. For example, “I will proofread one essay under 2,000 words within three days”. If you don’t specify how long the essay, how many essays you will proofread or how long you will take, things will get confusing for the buyer. Also be careful if you’re offering to post things — think of how much it would cost to post worldwide before you offer!

five dollar marketing

It seems as if some sellers are trying to undercut others by offering to do an incredible amount of work for their $5 fee. That sort of thing happens everywhere — just don’t buckle to the pressure if you think you’re worth more (which you are). Browse the site thoroughly as there are some very imaginative offers out there which would be quite useful for the buyer and yet easy for the seller to do. Let them inspire you into profitable ventures.

five dollar marketing

At the top of most pages in Fiverr is a box where you can offer your services for $5. Start there and it will allow you to add more details in the next page, including specifics and an example picture. They also make it easy for you to share your Fiverr service offers with your friends on Facebook, Twitter or elsewhere.

fiverr marketing

What Else Might You Use?

Obviously, Fiverr isn’t the only online marketplace for services in the world. There are many other ways you could solicit services or offer your services for hire online. The Facebook Marketplace is one of the simpler examples, followed by Craigslist. Any freelancing marketplace shows some similarity to Fiverr, eg. PeoplePerHour or MicroWorkers. Also worth considering are the other tools listed in this article on how teens can make money online.

Despite all these similar market options, Fiverr still has a unique selling point – that is, the $5 price tag. This encourages both the buyers and sellers because it’s an appealing amount.

What is the best service you’ve seen on Fiverr? Have you found it easy to use? What do you sell through Fiverr? Let us know in the comments!

Need Assistance? Ask questions to MakeUseOf staff and thousands of other readers on MakeUseOf Answers!



More articles about: buy & sell, job search, marketing, skills

February 21 2011


10 Online Resources Where You Can Learn To Read Music

learning to read musicWe usually have an ear for good music; but what about the eyes? If you want to take your music education further, it’s essential to know how to read music.

If you or your child cannot read a single note off a sheet of paper but can pick up a musical instrument and play it impromptu, that’s great. But the skill to read and write music is just like any other language. If we cannot read or write then we can’t go very far with it.

Learning to read music is absolutely necessary for classical music. It is almost necessary if you want to become a professional. John Lennon and Paul McCartney couldn’t read a single note. But why leave it to accidental genes (and genius) when learning to read music is definitely not as difficult as learning Cantonese.

In fact, you can teach yourself or at least get through the basics of music theory with the help of these websites.


learning to read music

Here, you can find a very basic how-to article that you can quickly skim over if you have a fair idea of playing a musical instrument. You will also find a link to a related wikiHow that shows you how to have fun while learning to read music.

An Introduction to Reading Music

learn to read music

Continue your basic education and learn to read music with the help of these ten pages that take you from the most basic musical symbols to teaching you how to give volume and speed to your notes.

Read Sheet Music

learn to read music

The free online course takes you a bit deeper into the why’s and how’s of reading music. You have two single introductory webpages on the topic plus a downloadable mirror version of them. The learning music course by Jason Silver is unfortunately not complete. After going through the above two links, you can use the topic links on the left side of the page to read up on some more music theory.

Music Arrangers

learn to read music

The music theory tutorial website by the Australian composer, Joe Paparone has a paid side along with a bunch of free lessons that you can exploit to get through the basics. The free lessons are arranged around – Pitch, Chords, and Time. Each of these three facets is then explored with the help of lessons. Titled “Baby Stuff’, the light tutorials are just an introduction to the theory behind musical arrangements and compositions.

Dolmetsch Online

how to read music

This is an important resource that documents the life of Arnold Dolmetsch, a French-born musician and instrument maker, and his family. It’s also a resource for beginner musicians who can tap into the music dictionary and the music theory page. The music theory pages start with naming conventions and ends with lessons on composition. In between, a brief history of music is also touched upon.

Ricci Adam’s Music Theory.net

how to read music

The nicely designed website has three sections – Lessons (animated walkthroughs for beginners), Exercises (for practice), and Tools (with calculators that help to measure notes, intervals, and chords). The interactive lessons help to make your task of learning how to read music easier with step-by-step slideshows. This site is especially useful for those learning how to play the piano as you can summon an online keyboard with a click and play on it or mark notes.


how to read music

eMusicTheory is an educational resource designed for both teachers and students. The site aims to teach music through a series of drills. It requires a paid subscription, but you can use the free resources on the site – the practice drills and interactive theory pages which help to polish your music learning. You will need the Java plug-in to be enabled in your browser as the concepts are explained using an interactive Java applet.


Teoria is not only an excellent reference source for the basics of music that go into learning how to read music, but the interactive exercises help to finetune your music reading skills and ear training. The tutorial section is where you should start if you are a newbie. The tutorial section helps you in reading music by making you understand intervals, scales, chords, harmonic functions, and musical forms. The alphabetical reference section is an online glossary with embedded audio files.


learning to read music

The online guide resource has a comprehensive section on music. Music theory takes up a considerable amount of space with more than 80 articles on the subject. The Beginner’s Music Theory sub-channel will take intensive reading as it is mostly text, but you can be sure that the tutorials have all the bases covered when it comes to reading and learning about music.


YouTube as usual could be a nice stopover is you like learning via videos. The How to Read Music is the first in a series of videos by Walt Ribeiro who teaches you all about sight reading. You can find all his lessons on his website where he covers it all with weekly music lessons. You can also follow the suggestions given on the sidebar for many more videos that teach you how to read music.

This is certainly not where it ends. In fact, this could just be a harmonious beginning that you can follow up with these two resources –

Top 6 Sites to Find and Print Free Sheet Music – by Mahendra
3 Tools To Write Your Own Sheet Music Online – by Simon

You can sing…you can play too…but can you recognize a sheet of music when it’s placed before you? Let these online lessons help you read music and become a well rounded musician. Let us know about the importance you place on learning how to read music.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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