Happy New Year: Top 10 Stories From 2012

Congratulations, another year has come and gone. As we prepare ourselves for 2013, lets take a look at the top 10 most important stories from the year prior.

#10: 2012 Faux-Pocalypse

Worst Apocalypse Ever

I remember many years ago when I heard that the world would be ending sometime in December of 2012. Now that we have passed the threshold of our generational hysteria, I am happy to announce, if you didn’t know, that we are all very much still here.

As we have learned, the Mayan calendar was not some sort of celestial doomsday clock. It turns out that the Mayans were very much reliant on astrology and the movements of celestial bodies to manage the cycle of their planting, growing, and harvesting activities. Most importantly, they knew that there was a center point to this galaxy we call The Milky Way, and that our little section of space is rotating around what scientists have only recently discovered to be a “super-massive” black hole.

So after all of the terrifying movies, exploitative Discovery channel specials, and paranoid internet dilutions, here we are for better or worse, in 2013.

Nostradamus is rolling in his grave…

#9: Whitney Houston Passes On

Whitney Houston's Coffin Carried To Her Grave

Tragically, the world lost one of our most talented and influential musicians this year. Whitney Houston was found dead in February in her hotel room in Beverly Hills. After overcoming a very public battle with drug addiction, Whitney was preparing to make her big comeback with the release of the movie “Sparkle.” Despite a world of personal problems, drug addiction, and chronic health issues, Houston will go down in history as one of the most accomplished and talented musicians of our age.

“As I lay me down, Heaven hear me now, I’m lost without a cause, After giving it my all…”

#8: Gas Prices On The Move

Gas lines starting to form as prices hit the roof.

Gasoline in The USA reached record highs this year. Energy and the economy were center stage in this year’s elections in part because of oppressively high Gas prices. We are flirting with price levels that may cause some of our major institutions and companies to go out of business. Every corner of our economy is directly impacted by the price of gas, and Americans want solutions, now. In 2012 we hit a record national average of $3.60 per gallon.

As the first affordable electric cars begin to make their way on to the road, demand for alternative fuel vehicles has never been higher. I hope that we put our full effort as a nation into finding a sustainable, long term fuel, to ultimately replace gasoline. Otherwise these lines are going to get longer and our wallets will continue to get thinner, no matter who is in The White House.

#7: The London Olympics

London Bridge decked out for the Onlympics in 2012

As always, the Olympics offer a chance for all world nations to peacefully gather and compete with one another in the world of sports. With a world dominated by turmoil and negative news, it was a much needed breath of fresh air to see all of these countries put their differences aside for a short while. The spectacular opening ceremony in London demonstrated England’s rich cultural history and their ability to throw one heck of a party.

Check out the YouTube videos below for some of the highlights.

#6: Violent Crimes On The Rise

We all know that this year saw a disturbing rise in violent crimes against the public. However, I must say that I am disgusted with the media frenzy that was created during each of these tragedies. Thus, I refuse to mention any of the perpetrators by name, nor will I show any pictures of them or their atrocities. I partially blame the media for obsessing over these horrific stories, glorifying the people who did these despicable acts, and in the process possibly inspiring others to do so.

#5: Space Jump 2012

Felix the fearless Sub-astronaught, looks out from his capsul as Stratos prepares for launch.
Felix inside Red Bull Stratos Capsule

O.k. RedBull, you win the competition for “most extreme” in the world of extreme sports… At the end of the Summer of 2012, daredevil Felix Baumgartner willingly jumped from the edge of our upper atmosphere in the highest recorded free-fall in human history. The “Stratos” mission was more than just a stunt to please adrenaline junkies, it put us one step closer to understanding the limitations of traveling in space for human beings.

Want to see him break the record, follow the link below!

http://www.redbullstratos.com/gallery/?mediaId=media1900707044001

#4: Finding The Higgs Boson

An Expriment detector at The Large Hadron Collider.

For years the scientific community has been hunting for evidence of an elusive sub-atomic particle, The Higgs Boson. After decades of searching and trillions of dollars, The Large Hadron Collider at CERN finally found its mark in July of 2012. This marks a new era in particle physics where we can now use The Higgs to explain why particles obtain and retain mass. In simple terms, this answers a question in physics that allows us to revise our way of explaining this reality with much more confidence.

Only the future will tell what these results will yield, but we are one step closer to a true understanding of the nature of The Universe!

#3: Hurricane Sandy Strikes Home:

Hurricane Sandy Seen from space

This summer, Hurricane Sandy struck a huge blow to the The East Coast of The United States. Over 125 people were killed in The US as a result of the devastation of Sandy. More than $62 billion in damage occurred due to the massive storm. At its apex of intensity, tropical force winds were recorded extending over 820 miles.

Climate and environmental scientists are warning that Sandy was just the beginning, predicting worse to come in the future. We hope for the sake of our coastline and our urban populations in those regions that the scientific community comes to some real conclusions about “climate change” and how we can mitigate our impact on global weather patterns.

#2: The Arab Spring

Protests in Cairo Egypt

It seems that many populations of oppressed countries in The Middle East are tired of their autocratic, theologically dogmatic leadership. The Arab Spring sparked the overthrow of multiple theocratic regimes, including Egypt and Libya. It also fueled the flames for several attempted uprisings in other countries that were brutally crushed by the powers that be.

In my opinion, this marks the threshold of a new paradigm in The Middle East. Much of this progress is owed to the influence of information technology in the developing world. For centuries, the Arabic theocracies have used the control of information to hard wire their populations to support extremist activities and anti-western sentiment. With the advent of the internet and social media, those systems of control are breaking down, and as we have seen, people are giving their lives for the hope of liberty.

God bless, and good luck to all of those who are fighting for freedom. This is not just an important event in 2012, its a critical turning point in history. Visit this Wikipedia Article for an extensive timeline of the uprisings.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_Arab_Spring#2012

#1: The USA Presidential Election:

A political cartoon of the 2012 Presidential Elections in The USA.

First of all I must say that this blog maintains a neutral political opinion, so save your hate mail for someone else. That being said the USA’s presidential election in 2012 was a significant and historical event. It is possible that his campaign will go down as the most negative and bitter election in our nation’s history.

I speak to a nation divided, please put the pettiness aside. Our leader’s divisive tactics only reflect our attitudes as citizens, so take that into consideration when you are debating your friends and family. Remember, were all in this together! Stop pointing fingers and start finding solutions otherwise we might not have anything for our grandchildren to argue over.




Transcription Tips – Transcriptionist Best Practices

Hello out there in cyber space! On this wonderful Friday at the end of September, I want to share some tips that will help you be a more professional and trusted transcriber, whether you’re working for a company, or you’re a freelancer. Business, government agencies, private institutions and everyday citizens rely on transcriptionists to get the job done with minimal hassles. By following a few simple guidelines, you can make yourself a more valuable asset to your transcription clients.

Be Realistic

My first word of advice is to never accept more work than you think you can handle comfortably and within the deadline specified by the client. People will usually understand if you can’t take a high volume of work, but they will be very upset if you DO take work, and then you fail to complete it up to snub or on time.

In addition to the needs of the clients, you have to consider the long term implications of how much work you take in over time. Pace yourself! Many transcribers burn about because they start by taking as much work as possible and get in way over their heads. For a while you might manage to get it all done but remember, you’re in it for the long haul.

Be Honest

Honesty is always the best policy. Stick to the truth and the facts and people will begin to trust you. Never inflate your page count or labor metrics in any way. Sure, you might be tempted sneak a few dollars extra here and there, but people notice, and they do NOT like it. Like I said earlier, your in this game for the long haul. The best asset you have is your reputation, and honesty get you a long way to trust, once you can be trusted by a client they will be much more willing to send you their work.

Another point about honesty, if you happen to make a mistake, fess up to it right away! Be honest and genuine and fix the transcript errors without complaint or additional charge. Everyone makes mistakes, were only human after all, but if you make them, own them, and show your merit as an ethical person and learn from your mistakes.

Get the Details and Get It Right

Make sure to ask for every specific detail about the job BEFORE you receive the transcription work. Prepare yourself by reviewing the exact requirements of the project and you will spend more time typing and less time fixing problems at the end. You only get paid for the work performed, not for figuring out how everything should look once its all done. With that in consideration, make sure you and the client are on the same page (pun intended) on all the specifics before the typing starts so that you don’t ever have to go back and fix things that could have been avoided.

Here are a few things to hash out with the client before starting a new transcription project:

  • Transcript template
  • Formatting
  • Font and style of text
  • Margins
  • Time code requirements and formats
  • Headers and file names

There are many more things to consider, once you build a relationship with the client they will appreciate you knowing exactly what they want and how they want it.

Do Your Best Every Time

Always do your best work, its simple. I think were about done for this article, but if your interested in receiving more articles like this via e-mail, please sign up for our mailing list (below or on the right hand side bar.) We provide tips on transcription like this, industry updates, technology spotlights, and much more.

Keep your fingers nimble and you shoulders loose, oh yea and if possible, use an ergonomic keyboard (click to read an article about the benefits of ergonomic keyboards).




Web Design: There’s No I in Team

Web design in its various forms has become big business around the world. From the most basic amateur pages to complex multilevel corporate projects, producing a website always depends on the resources, requirements, and time constraints of the individual. The lower end web design projects are moving increasingly towards automatic content management systems; where users can pick a template, customize and in a very short time create a functional website. At Word Wizards we focus more on custom solutions for our clients, nothing we do here is “cookie cutter” and each project we take on results in a professional quality, fully integrated, web solution.

Sounds cool, right?… But what does it take to design and implement a professional grade website? It takes a team effort, and specifically, it requires a team of unique individuals, each with their own expertise in various aspects of web design. We have noticed that there are usually three “gurus” required to make a web design project effective. These three flavors of design experts each focus on a different critical aspect of the web design process, and work together to ensure that the three top priorities of website development are handled with expert care.

The three main things to manage when creating a new website are, functionality, appearance, and implementation. Functionality is responsible for making sure that the structural design effectively satisfies the intended function of the website and creates an effective, non-confusing user experience. Appearance takes structure and functional organization and translates it into a graphic design that is visually appealing to the users and consistent with the brand and intended purpose of the client. Implementation is the back-end guts of the website; which includes all the coding, hosting, domain support, CMS workflow, and database support.

The Functional Expert

Generally, this is a person who really understands the way individuals use the internet for different purposes. This individual is responsible for creating a structure that provides easy access to all the important information. In addition, this web expert must understand and manage the constraints of SEO and weave them into the fabric of the page from the beginning. Possibly the most important role of the functional web designer is the creation of a user friendly workflow, providing a user experience that works for the intended purpose of the website and doesn’t confuse any less than savvy internet users.

The Appearance Expert

To transform conceptual structure and theoretical workflow into visual form takes the expertise of a master graphic designer. This expert must know how to utilize advanced graphic design software and create visual components from scratch that will be used to create the physical appearance of a web page. It is the responsibility of this person to come up with an exciting and effective visual experience for the users, making sure that everything is in plain sight, and being creative with the way everything will look, while still maintaining functional integrity.

The Implementation Expert

Sometimes known as the “webmaster” or, in our office, “the code warrior!” This individual is gifted with an intimate knowledge of the ever evolving world of programming languages. The functional and visual elements of a website are mute if you can not host it, integrate it, and keep it working smoothly. When designing a new website, this person holds the reigns, because all of the work your team produces will reflect their level of talent and proficiency. It is this person’s responsibility to put your plans into action, keep the web page updated, and hard code any interactive or data driven elements into a functional machine known as a web page.

Thus, we have created a trifecta of experts, but there is still one person missing from the team…

The beloved SUPERVISOR. Yes, its is the supervisor that truly brings it all together. This person doesn’t need to be an expert at any one function, but the they must have a working knowledge of all of components of the website and coordinate between the various members of the design team. This person is responsible for organization, cross coordination, and managing the needs of the client as reflected by the design and capabilities of the team.

So now you know what it takes, and if you don’t think you can squeeze it all by yourself, the Word Wizards Web Design Team is here to give you a helping hand!