As electricity prices continue to soar, one in three U.S. households is struggling to pay their electricity bills. These rising energy costs hit us where it hurts, often leading to broader budgetary concerns. Using too much energy also harms the economy and the environment.
The following benefits of going green can help convince you to make the necessary changes at home:
Power Bills Vary Widely, Leaving Us Guessing On Budgets
Sometimes, unseasonable weather or an unexpected emergency can leave us in a tight squeeze. And once you fail to pay your power bill, it can have a snowball effect.
Up to 63% of monthly electricity bills account for heating and air conditioning, lighting, water heating, and refrigeration — all basic necessities. Yet one in ten households keeps the thermostat set low – sometimes unsafely and uncomfortably low – just to save money on an upcoming bill.
The stress of trying to regain control of high utility bills is felt by millions of Americans. This tension can lead us to overlook common and simple ways to save.
More than one in five American households make the choice to go without other basic necessities to make room in the budget for energy bills. But after an afternoon of electricity crackdowns, this kind of restriction may no longer be necessary.
Making note of and unplugging unused appliances and devices, turning computers off when not in use, switching out light bulbs to more efficient LED varieties, and sealing leaky windows can reduce annual energy bills by hundreds of dollars.
A Few Simple Steps Can Eliminate Unnecessary Energy Use
Eliminate the guesswork when it comes to your at home power needs with Sense, a smart monitor that attaches directly to your breaker box. This device automatically identifies electricity usage down to the specifics from the TV to the garage door. It identifies where the waste is coming from and sends that data right to your smartphone.
Washing clothes in cold water instead of hot can save $60 per year. Lowering the temperature of a water heater just a few degrees can save $50 per year. Turning the thermostat down by 7 to 10 degrees for only a few hours can save up to 10% on annual costs.
In the US, over 30% of all CO2 emissions are from electric power generation. As energy costs hurt our environment and strain our wallets, opinions on renewables continue to improve.
Today, more than four in five people think that all energy should come from renewables. Just one-gigawatt hour of solar energy can help prevent the creation of 690 metric tons of CO2 being dumped into the atmosphere.
Not every area and certainly not every home are well suited to solar panel installation, but if every suitable rooftop in the US began using panels, 75% of all residential energy could come from solar energy. Nearly half of this potential comes from low to middle-income households with standard systems starting at just under $13,000.
More than one in four people believe that it is individuals that have the responsibility to take the lead on energy issues. Cities like Los Angeles, Boston, Baltimore, and Washington show some of the highest potential for solar energy savings.
Resealing doors and windows can save up to $200 per year on annual electricity costs. It can help make a solar-powered home even more efficient, too.
Though prices for residential solar panel systems are cheaper than ever, they still aren’t exactly cheap. Power strips and surge protectors extend the potential of a single power outlet, but they can wreak havoc for an energy bill.
Smart outlets offer an unassuming upgrade to old fashioned wiring in many homes; they can be programmed with on and off schedule to keep energy usage at a minimum, be plugged in directly to existing outlets or with a little work, they can be installed to replace older outlets altogether.
Taking outlet usage a step further, the Belkin Conserve Strip takes the convenience of power strips and compounds it with power-saving features by automatically cutting power when plugged in devices entering sleep mode. It is perfect for gaming consoles and other entertainment devices that are notorious power wasters even when not in use.
Take the power back where your energy is concerned. Many positive changes that lower our bills also help the environment. Even small adjustments at home can make a difference in our bills and more importantly, on our planet.
See this infographic for more on the current state of energy consumption, how renewables are becoming more realistic for every household, and what it could mean for your bills, the economy, and the environment. Lower My Energy Rates
Choosing between tile vs hardwood is a decision every homeowner must make when considering their next remodel. And frankly, it’s a very hard decision to make.
The good news is that I’ll be providing insight here which I think can help you make the right choice.
I’d like to introduce myself before we get started. My name is Ray Hughey and I’ve been installing floor and tile for just over 10 years now. I run a Flooring & Tile business out of Plainfield, IL. I’ve seen it all when it comes to home remodeling, flooring, and tile!
Everything I’m going to about to tell you about tile vs hardwood comes from 10 years of experience in the business and I’ve said nothing but my honest opinions here.
With that being said, let’s get into it!
Which Is More Durable: Hardwood or Tile?
This is a question I get asked very often.
In most cases, tile is going to be more durable. Hardwood scratches much easier, is more susceptible to weather conditions, and is easily discolored by prolonged sun exposure.
Tile is a much harder surface than hardwood so it will be able to withstand much more wear and tear. That being said, it also has to be set right. If you don’t have enough mortar “coverage” on the back of the tile (a.k.a bare spots), then it can actually be much less durable than hardwood because it will be easier to break.
If you Look At The Bottom of The Tile You’ll See The ‘Contact Patch’ or ‘Mortar Coverage’
What Are Bare Spots And Why Are They Important
When laying tile, we want the mortar to spread evenly across the entire back of the tile. This ensures that a strong bond is formed between the tile and the surface we’re setting it on. Generally, we want 90% mortar coverage on the back of a tile.
So, say you only have 40-50 % coverage on a tile, if you dropped something heavy or set something heavy on the tile, that tile has a strong possibility of breaking because the bond between the tile and the surface is not strong enough.
Now, hardwood doesn’t raise off the floor, so it doesn’t have this problem. However, if we lay something heavy on a Hardwood floor it could leave indents over time if it is a softer wood.
How Does Water Affect Tile and Hardwood?
For tile, if there is a large amount of standing water left for a long time, it can possibly ruin the bond between the subfloor and the tile.
On the other hand, if hardwood is exposed to a large amount of moisture, it will warp and expand eventually. Over time, it will “buckle” if the water is not removed from it.
Longevity Over Time
With tile, the only longevity issue you’ll have to worry about is sealing the grout every few years which, for the most part, is inexpensive. The Flooring Girl created a nice intensive guide about why sealing grout is important and she even details how to do it yourself, be sure to read this resource!
Whereas with hardwood, its surface is easier to scratch. Simple things like having a rock in your shoe or even your dog’s nails can scratch the surface of hardwood really easily. So, hardwood floors will need to be refinished every few years.
When looking at the lifetime durability of these two materials, it’s cheaper to seal grout on tile every few years than it is to refinish hardwood floors. This means that hardwood can be more expensive to maintain in the long run.
So, Is Tile More Durable Than Hardwood?
In general, porcelain and ceramic tiles tend to be more sturdy and durable than hardwood. However, to reiterate, they have to be set right because if they are set wrong, they are much easier to chip and/or break completely.
How Weather Conditions Affect Hardwood and Tile
When it comes to hardwood, all types of weather affect it — moisture, heat, and cold.
For example, if you look at houses in say Arizona (very hot climate), in most cases, you’re not going to find much hardwood flooring installed out there because of the climate.
If you live in an area where you get cold winters and a hot summer, you MUST leave an expansion joint around the perimeter of the hardwood installation. Otherwise, when it gets warm, hardwood floor will expand and buckle because it has nowhere to expand to.
Also, key areas to keep in mind that are not a good idea for hardwood floors would be front windows (depending on which way your house faces the sun), sliding glass doors (where sun penetrates), and/or any other areas where the Hardwood will be exposed to direct sunlight for long periods.
The reason why to not do this is that hardwood will discolor and fade when exposed to direct sunlight for a consistently long period. Direct sunlight ruins hardwood floors!
In short, hardwood is affected by the weather in many ways. It can discolor or warp if it gets too hot or is exposed to too much direct sunlight. Also, hardwood is not a good choice if you live in a very hot or very humid climate.
What About Tile?
Heat and cold do not really affect tile in any major way. For example, comparing it to hardwood, tile doesn’t buckle or warp. It isn’t affected by sunlight and doesn’t expand or contract. Seasonal weather changes will not have any effect on tile flooring installations.
Hands down, tile wins this category by far because it is not affected by weather at all. Tile can tolerate any conditions you throw at it.
Cleaning Tile Flooring Vs Cleaning Hardwood Flooring
One myth that needs debunking is: You should clean your tile with vinegar.
This IS NOT TRUE!
Once a year, you may be able to use a SMALL amount of vinegar. However, do not do this regularly.
Otherwise, you will break down the grout and/or discolor both the tile and the grout. This can become a big problem.
Because yes, you can touch the grout up. However, that can lead to its own set of issues. The grout will not be the same color as the rest of the grout that is already down and may look slightly different.
Also, if the grout breaks down in many spots, you have two choices — touch it up and live with the fact that it may look slightly different or have the entire job redone from scratch.
In my business, most of the time, I hate to see avoidable mistakes like this because re-grouting entire tile installations makes a huge mess!
As a whole, it would have to be grinded out that it would look like a huge dust bomb went off in your house.
Lesson: Don’t regularly use a large amount of vinegar to clean your tile. You’ll thank me later.
What Should I Clean Tile Flooring With?
There are many cleaning products you can use that are safe. Here is a great guide by Better Homes & Gardens that completely breaks down cleaning tile floors. Be sure to check it out for all your floor cleaning questions! One of the simplest products that work well to clean tile is Dawn Dish Soap.
What Should I Clean Hardwood Flooring With?
First off, hardwood is a pain to keep clean!
Hardwood shows everything, especially darker hardwoods! It shows anything from dust to pet hair and footprints. You’ll have to clean it much more often than you have to clean tile.
To keep it in pristine condition, you’ll probably have to clean it at least once a day. You should use a dry mop when cleaning a hardwood floor or even a Swiffer. But it must be wrung out afterward if the Swiffer is damp!
Do not leave stagnant water on your hardwood floor as it will buckle over time.
Here National Floors Shows You Exactly How To Clean Hardwood Floors!
Kids & Pet Friendliness (+Plus Slip Resistance)
I don’t care what anyone tells you. It doesn’t matter what kind of coat you put on hardwood. If you have kids and/or pets, the hardwood is going to scratch! There is nothing you can do about it.
Sure, you can hide it with a lighter wood finish or area rugs and runners. At the end of the day, the floor will still scratch. That is just the truth.
Also keep in mind, that the darker hardwoods will show everything.
When it comes to slippery floors, in general, hardwood is going to be more slippery than tile will — except for glazed finished tile. Glazed finish tile is just as slippery as hardwood is, especially when wet.
How Kid And Pet-Friendly Is Tile Flooring?
Any tile will definitely hold up to wear and tear from kids and pets. It is not going to show scratches.
If there is water at all, the tile will definitely be slippery. There’s not much you can do about that.
However, in most cases, it is less slippery than hardwood. This definitely depends on the tile though.
I’ve alluded to this in previous paragraphs but as far as water, tile tolerates water way better than hardwood. This is why you don’t see bathrooms done in hardwood (for the most part)!
Which Has More Design Variety: Hardwood or Tile?
Short Answer: Tile 100%!
With hardwood, you can’t be as creative with the actual design.
For the most part, there are really only 2 ways to lay hardwood, opposite of the floor or on a 45-degree angle. The color and the shading is really the only difference along with the size of the wood planks.
There are some different thicknesses in hardwood from 1 inch to 3 inches. But overall, it’s pretty much the same concept no matter which way you look at it.
As opposed to tile, you have all sorts of sizes, ranging from 8×8 (inches) to 3’ by 4’ (feet). And that’s only talking about the size.
Multiple Tile Sizes Used In One Flooring Project
You can use all kinds of different materials with tile — from ceramics, porcelain, and marble. Also, the patterns you can have with tile gives much more versatility.
You can have tile installed using straight patterns to 45-degree angle patterns, brick patterns, third patterns, herringbone patterns, and so on. You can also do pinwheel patterns (3-4 different sized tiles in one project).
All in all, hands down you can do a lot more designs with tile than you can with hardwood.
Here is an awesome tile idea inspiration list compiled by Architecture Inspiration (Over 30 Ideas!). Also, feel free to check out my flooring and tile picture gallery as well, compiled from jobs I’ve done throughout my career.
What Is The Best Flooring To Put On Concrete: Hardwood Or Tile?
Hardwood can be done on concrete but as an experienced flooring and tile contractor, I would not recommend that you put hardwood over concrete (just my opinion).
The correct way to put down hardwood is with glue and nails on top of a plywood subfloor. If you eliminate the nails and just go with the glue, there is not as strong of a bond as there should be.
With only glue holding down the hardwood, any water or moisture that gets introduced has a much better chance of destroying the floor. Also, by only using glue, you’re taking away what makes hardwood durable.
Without nails, hardwood loses its sturdiness.
So, to reiterate, hardwood flooring, in most cases, is not a wise choice to install directly on concrete.
Can You Install Tile On Concrete?
For tile, I believe that doing the installation yourself on concrete is a bad idea. First, it MUST be completely dust-free. You also have to use the right set of mortar (thinset) to ensure the strength of the bond.
The biggest problem with installing tile over concrete is the concrete is usually not perfectly straight. So, more than likely, you’re going to fight a lot of high peaks and low plateaus in the floor plane. This is why it’s not a job for someone who is inexperienced.
Can You Install Hardwood On Concrete?
Overall, I would never install hardwood over concrete.
If you want to install something over concrete, I would go with tile or in my opinion, the best choice is a floating floor. This Old House created an awesome guide for beginners, where they break down step by step on how to install a floating floor over concrete. Be sure to take a look as all the answers are in there!
Which Is Cheaper: Tile Or Hardwood?
What kind of material are you using? More expensive hardwood which is more per square foot? Big marble tiles or 12×12 ceramic?
Depending on your material, your prices per square foot can vary a lot for both hardwood and tile. It will also determine your installation cost.
How Much Does It Cost To Install Hardwood?
When it comes to installation, there is no easy way to estimate what it will cost.
Is this a new construction job? Are you remodeling your current home? If remodeling, are you tearing out existing materials? Do you have to replace the existing subfloor? Is it pre-finished hardwood or raw hardwood that will need to refinished or stained?
Those are all factors that will play into how much your job will cost to install.
How Much Does It Cost To Install Tile?
It’s virtually the same with tile.
Do we have to put down the cement board? Are we tearing out old materials? What size tile is it? What kind of tiles are they? What kind of pattern do you want to do?
Those are all top considerations that will affect the price drastically. It’s not straightforward.
The only way to know is to get an in-person estimate. Odds are most homeowners looking to remodel are not going to know what the job entails.
To give an accurate price, I need to see the area, cover all the bases, see what material they want to use, what pattern they want to do and make sure I see everything that needs to be done. I have a very basic tool I put on my website to give you a tile & flooring installation estimate. Give that tool a try, but remember it all depends on your area and the going rate there!
Which Should You Choose: Tile Or Hardwood?
I never would try to influence my opinion on a customer. This is about you and your home.
You’re gonna have to live with it and I most likely will never see it again once the installation is done.
If you have your mind set on something, I’m not going to influence you one way or the other unless I think you’re making a mistake. It all goes into the style of your home.
What look are you trying to go for?
There is not one that is per se “better than the other one”. At the end of the day, it all depends on what you want.
Durability and maintenance wise, I would say tile has the advantage in those categories, hands down.
At the same time, the clean look and beauty of a nice hardwood floor is definitely something that tile can’t replicate (even though tile has a beautiful look of its own, too).
Other than that, in my honest opinion of being a flooring and tile contractor for 10 years, besides the look, hardwood doesn’t have many ‘functional’ advantages over a tile.
I personally believe, in most cases, tile is more durable, cheaper to maintain, and has more design versatility.
Personal opinions aside, I would advise you to go with whatever you like better!
If you’re a fan of hardwood and the weather is not an issue, I’d love to install some hardwood on your floor and transform your interior!
If you like tile better, great! Let’s get you a nice bathroom remodel or a beautiful backsplash in your kitchen.
So, there you have it. Hopefully, I gave you a pretty good overview of how tile and hardwood stack up against each other.
Writing a great resume has always been challenging. It comes as no surprise that people devote their entire careers to properly composing these professional documents.
Knowing how to pen a captivating resume is a sought-after skill. Whole courses, workshops, and books focus on the subject. The takeaway from this is that the world is obsessed with looking good on paper — even though there’s not much paper going around anymore.
With digital platforms and electronic scanning systems dominating the hiring process, finding a job now is very technical. The modern business landscape has changed quite drastically. Your resume might pass through several computers before a person even sees it.
Although that may feel discouraging, it shouldn’t be. In fact, you can use this to your advantage.
By learning how to think like job search engines and scanning systems, you can optimize your resume. When a person finally does read your resume, you will appear to be the perfect candidate. That’s because you will be!
Here are three major life hacks and tips on how to spice up your resume:
Don’t Beat Around the Bush
You may have heard it before; most recruiters don’t look past the first page of resumes.
That’s not necessarily because they’re too busy. It’s because they don’t see what they’re looking for on the first page. Scaling your resume down to size is the first step. One to two pages is ideal.
Now, here is where you can incorporate some social media tactics.
Think of LinkedIn:
It works just like Facebook but for business people. The site utilizes a headline and summary format for each profile. This format gives people viewing profiles to get all the information they need in one glance. Incorporating this style into the beginning of your resume is an easy way to grab a recruiter’s attention.
A killer headline is short and stands out. Once you have hooked your reader, give them an overview of your work in your summary. In both of these areas, the use of keywords is recommendable.
All recruiters have a set of keywords that they look out for. If you sprinkle keywords throughout your headline and summary, you will get their attention from the start.
Generally speaking, you ought to highlight your way with words as much as you can. Avoid overused phrases and dull descriptions. Allow your uniqueness to come to the forefront. Try to describe your skills and capabilities in original ways.
Be precise when providing information about your expertise and even your successes.
Writing a resume isn’t akin to performing in a Broadway show, but there’s something that you can learn from it. Recruiters want to see what makes you so unique and why you are a brilliant candidate.
Make it crystal clear for them. Show what makes you a cut above the rest. Put on your figurative dancing shoes and wow them with your skills.
Focus on situations in which you were the cream of the crop. Elaborate on the most critical thing you achieved in each job position. Mention anything that you have received public recognition for doing.
However, avoid including things that are irrelevant to the job posting. The information you include should always apply to the job you’re trying to secure.
Customizing your resume is another must. You should never send the exact same resume to two completely different jobs. Modifying your resume for each separate job application will mean a higher success rate.
Although it may seem like a lot of work, it doesn’t have to be. You can have templates for different industries or disciplines that you can slightly tweak before applying.
Don’t forget to use a quantitative language. Be explicit when describing just how much you were able to increase sales. If you really need to, don’t shy away from investing in the services of a professional resume writer.
Services like Trust My Paper have writers with a broad spectrum of specializations to assist you in eloquently expressing all the essential aspects of your career, highlighting how you’ve transformed throughout the years, and underlining your qualities, making you an outstanding pick.
Harness Your Inner Marie Kondo
If you haven’t seen the Netflix show about sparking joy and organization, don’t worry. You can still take a page from Kondo’s organizing book.
The moral of her story is to keep what makes you happy and gives you purpose. Say goodbye to everything else. Apply the same idea to your resume.
Cut out all superfluous information. Your resume would benefit from some consolidation. Do your best to avoid repetition. Use a thesaurus if necessary. Stay away from using job description-type language and define your position in another way.
Your content should be concise and your organization of it should be functional. Use bolding and italics to distinguish different areas like job title or dates of employment. Ensure that you are using an appropriate font.
Although you may want to incorporate some visual or design elements, keep your font legible and straightforward. Arrange your sections to be clear and visually pleasing.
The way that your resume looks says a lot about you. Taking the time to design a nice resume will pay off. Including a great headshot at the top corner is a good idea as well.
If you have great content but poor presentation, you may be passed over for a job. Conversely, if you have a beautiful resume but terrible content, the same can happen.
You should have the best of both worlds.
Beautiful resumes will catch a recruiter’s attention and make them want to read. Reading and seeing well-organized content that highlights the skills they are looking for is a recruiter’s dream.
When you can achieve the perfect blend, your resume will benefit from that. Ask a friend or confidant to review your resume and see what they think of your balance.
Recruiters and hiring managers have plenty of experience finding suitable candidates. The easiest way to show your merit is to polish and showcase your skills. Presenting your abilities in a beautiful, brilliant way will help get them noticed.
When you put effort into writing and organizing your resume, it becomes obvious. No one will appreciate a sad, haphazard resume.
Spend some time developing one or more templates for different industries you’ve worked in over the years. With this strategy, you don’t have to start from scratch every time you see a job posting.
Research the business you are applying to see what kind of language they use on their website. Try to incorporate that language into your resume. Only do this if it’s relevant to your experience, of course.
Businesses will welcome your efforts. The fact that you took the time to do research will say a lot about you. Getting straight to the point is a more efficient use of your first page. Not to mention, it will help recruiters decide if you fit the profile they need. If your descriptions hit the nail on the head, you certainly will.
Presenting all of your best attributes isn’t merely boasting; it’s excellent resume writing.
Don’t be shy. Let your accomplishments speak for themselves. You absolutely want recruiters to be impressed by all the recognition you have received along the way.
If you’re lucky, your track record will be the defining factor that helps you snag the job of your dreams. Fingers crossed and good luck to you.
I have notebooks and journals for everything: Work, habits, goals, exercise, personal projects, language learning, New Year’s resolutions…
I have them all sitting here on my desk, just waiting to be used. And so when I came across the practice of keeping a meditation journal, I thought the last thing I needed in my life was yet another one to add to the dusty pile.
The problem was, despite everyone spouting about the incredible, transformative benefits of meditation, my daily year-long practice was getting me nowhere. Worse, for the past few months, it felt like it was taking me backwards.
Half a year into keeping a meditation journal, and I can’t believe I ever did without it. Each time I sit, I take five minutes before to record the details of my practice — date, duration, type, place — and ten minutes after to write about the observations and experiences I had.
Bringing writing into my meditation has allowed me to get to know myself better than ever. Instead of wasting time, going around in circles and beating myself up when things aren’t going as well as expected, instead, I quickly notice when I’m stuck in old patterns and manage to bring my expectations in check before even getting started.
Overall, this means my practice is much deeper, much more fulfilling, and much less demanding on my time.
The ways in which a journal can improve your meditation practice are endless. Here are five that prove one deserves a place in your practice and at the very top of your own pile of notebooks.
1. Make the teachings personal
You can read every Eckhart Tolle, Jack Kornfield, and Thich Nhat Hanh book under the sun, and not be any the wiser if you aren’t able to apply the teachings into your own life.
This is why the Buddha’s greatest teaching was not the four noble truths or the principle of dependent origination, but to “not believe in anything simply because you have heard it or because it is found written in your religious books”. Before anything, the Buddha taught that one must inquire into one’s own experience and then only agree with something if it matches up with what you find.
The Buddha’s reasoning here was that it’s all too easy to get wrapped up in religion, tradition, and words, and start thinking that they are the source of the solutions to our woes. If attaining wisdom and freedom from suffering is like climbing a mountain, spiritual guidance is like the signposts that help guide us to the top. In this way, they are fundamentally different to the path — not least because everyone is at different stages and on different paths, and so everyone’s way to the top will be different from the next person’s.
Rather than relying on signposts, however, the Buddha also taught that there is no one better to give this guidance than ourselves. The problem is we often know what we need to do but do everything we can to avoid it. By keeping a meditation journal, we can keep track of our practice and become better attuned to what we need and when — developing the keys to lasting wisdom: a discerning mind and the ability to ask skillful questions.
2. Avoid spiritual bypassing
So often our approach to meditation is based on a method of problem-solving that only works in the physical world. For example, say we need to fix a car that’s broken down. There are two states, the broken-down car, and the fixed car, and to go from one state to the other, we need to take some sort of physical action and movement — i.e. find a mechanic and take it to the garage.
We spend much of our days in this problem-solving mode, and so naturally, we take the same approach to fixing our internal problems. We have the state we are in now — not feeling right for whatever reason — and the state we want to get to — feeling right, i.e. nirvana — and then go about a process of getting ourselves there.
The problem with this approach is that not only doesn’t it work, by thinking there’s a problem that needs to be fixed, we create the idea of a ‘broken’ me that’s here and we need to get away from, and a ‘fixed’ me that’s out there and we need to become.
This dualistic mode of thinking leads to what’s known as spiritual bypassing. Spiritual bypassing is when we use the highs and tranquil states produced by meditation (taking the car to the garage) as just another way of turning away from reality and temporarily avoiding the difficulties of life. But we are not broken-down cars, and the answer to our problems is not somewhere else to be found — it’s in realizing what’s already here, however broken and damaged it may seem. A meditation journal helps us see this by not offering us another way to escape, but helping us see how we can relate to our experience in a new way.
3. Go past what and get down to the why
We know ourselves and our lives too well — at least we think we do. So when it comes to our bad habits, unwanted tendencies, and are many inadequacies and deficiencies, we so quick to dismiss them that we actually never really get to know them or ourselves at all.
As Socrates pronounced in a speech following his decision to be sentenced to death over exile from Athens, “An unexamined life is not worth living”. Socrates wasn’t saying that everyone needs to become a philosopher and go through every aspect of their experience with a fine-tooth comb. Rather, he was saying that without an open, curious, and critical attitude to life, the chances are that you will end up being ruled by the parts of yourself, or of somebody else, that have been neglected and tried to be kept hidden in the dark.
The Buddha would agree with this. A lot of his teaching was built on not finding better answers to questions, but learning how to ask better questions. When we place our ability to question over our ability to answer and find solutions, we move from a mindset of closing doors to one of opening them. This is the attitude Buddha spoke of as necessary if you are to go beyond logic and understand that, “Things are not what they seem. Nor are they otherwise.”
So, as well as helping to bring the darker sides of ourselves into the light, a meditation journal helps us see our lives, as Gandhi said, as “a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved”.
4. Breakthrough to deeper ground
So often the time we put aside for meditating is spent mentally noting the shopping list and running through conversations we had the day before, with only a few moments of real focus on the breath just before the bell rings.
Although they can seem mundane and anything but spiritual, it’s these everyday tasks we think of as distractions and that supposedly keep us from the ‘real’ practice, that are actually the source of real progress and development.
Let’s say you regularly sit down to meditate after work, but every time you do the next door neighbour’s dog perks up and starts yapping away. Immediately, you get annoyed and start thinking about how this is yet again another wasted session and why can’t they control the damn dog and this is just typical and could your life really get any worse.
Another way to approach this scenario, though, would be to work with the initial aversion and use it as your practice. After all, if something presents itself to you, maybe it’s not there to be pushed away but used. Journaling gives you the power to do this; you can inquire into the feeling of annoyance, the person who feels annoyed, and the story behind why it annoys you so much. Noticing and exploring such feelings with a discerning mind, instead of taking them on face value, can accelerate and enhance the process of sitting and watching the breath by removing obstacles that you may otherwise have not known were there.
In the case of the barking dog, with a little reflection, we may realize we have bundles of assumptions and judgments about why we deserve this moment to relax, what we regard as unpleasant and pleasant experiences, and how much of our discomfort is not in the noise itself, but in the story we’ve weaved about what it means to us and who we believe ourselves to be.
5. Getting off the wheel of samsara
Everyone has heard the famous quote (often attributed to Einstein) that goes, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” If this is true, though, then I’m sure pretty much all of us would qualify as officially insane.
It’s one thing to do the same things over and over again, it’s another thing to notice you’re doing them, and it’s a whole other kettle of fish to actually do something about it and change your behaviour.
But why is it so difficult to change? Is it just that we are extremely forgetful; do we just get a big kick out of self-flagellation? These no doubt have something to do with it, but there’s something much, much bigger going on, and it lays at the heart of the Buddha’s teaching: the wheel of suffering.
The Buddha taught that as long as we crave and desire for fulfillment, we are trapped in samsara, or the wheel of suffering, It’s an easy enough concept to grasp, but the trouble is the mind is constantly evolving and coming up with new and ever subtler ways to deceive us and convince us that we’ve finally found the solution to all our problems.
Asking yourself the right questions is like throwing a huge spanner in the constantly turning wheel of suffering. Contrary to what many people think, getting out of the cycle is not to do away with all dissatisfaction and eliminate all difficult experiences. Rather, it’s to realize the imperfection, uncertainty, and impermanence that is inherent to all life. This is right here, right now, in plain sight for all to see. The problem is we don’t see it, and for that, we need to not bring in more ideas, principles, and beliefs, but cut through all the ones that lay in its way.
Life offers us so many solutions, answers, and teachings about meditation, that when it comes to the actual practice itself, we can often come away feeling worse than better off. Keeping a meditation journal gives us a way to slow all this motion down, do away with unhelpful and hindering ideas, and like the Buddha was so insistent about, actually find out what’s actually going on for ourselves.
Posted by Vikrant Nanda and René Mayrhofer, Android Security & Privacy Team
There is no better time to talk about Android dessert releases than the holidays because who doesn’t love dessert? And what is one of our favorite desserts during the holiday season? Well, pie of course.
In all seriousness, pie is a great analogy because of how the various ingredients turn into multiple layers of goodness: right from the software crust on top to the hardware layer at the bottom. Read on for a summary of security and privacy features introduced in Android Pie this year.
Making Android more secure requires a combination of hardening the platform and advancing anti-exploitation techniques.
With Android Pie, we updated File-Based Encryption to support external storage media (such as, expandable storage cards). We also introduced support for metadata encryption where hardware support is present. With filesystem metadata encryption, a single key present at boot time encrypts whatever content is not encrypted by file-based encryption (such as, directory layouts, file sizes, permissions, and creation/modification times).
Android Pie also introduced a BiometricPrompt API that apps can use to provide biometric authentication dialogs (such as, fingerprint prompt) on a device in a modality-agnostic fashion. This functionality creates a standardized look, feel, and placement for the dialog. This kind of standardization gives users more confidence that they’re authenticating against a trusted biometric credential checker.
New protections and test cases for the Application Sandbox help ensure all non-privileged apps targeting Android Pie (and all future releases of Android) run in stronger SELinux sandboxes. By providing per-app cryptographic authentication to the sandbox, this protection improves app separation, prevents overriding safe defaults, and (most significantly) prevents apps from making their data widely accessible.
Control Flow Integrity (CFI) is a security mechanism that disallows changes to the original control flow graph of compiled code. In Android Pie, it has been enabled by default within the media frameworks and other security-critical components, such as for Near Field Communication (NFC) and Bluetooth protocols. We also implemented support for CFI in the Android common kernel, continuing our efforts to harden the kernel in previous Android releases.
Integer Overflow Sanitization is a security technique used to mitigate memory corruption and information disclosure vulnerabilities caused by integer operations. We’ve expanded our use of Integer Overflow sanitizers by enabling their use in libraries where complex untrusted input is processed or where security vulnerabilities have been reported.
Continued investment in hardware-backed security
One of the highlights of Android Pie is Android Protected Confirmation, the first major mobile OS API that leverages a hardware-protected user interface (Trusted UI) to perform critical transactions completely outside the main mobile operating system. Developers can use this API to display a trusted UI prompt to the user, requesting approval via a physical protected input (such as, a button on the device). The resulting cryptographically signed statement allows the relying party to reaffirm that the user would like to complete a sensitive transaction through their app.
We also introduced support for a new Keystore type that provides stronger protection for private keys by leveraging tamper-resistant hardware with dedicated CPU, RAM, and flash memory. StrongBox Keymaster is an implementation of the Keymaster hardware abstraction layer (HAL) that resides in a hardware security module. This module is designed and required to have its own processor, secure storage, True Random Number Generator (TRNG), side-channel resistance, and tamper-resistant packaging.
Other Keystore features (as part of Keymaster 4) include Keyguard-bound keys, Secure Key Import, 3DES support, and version binding. Keyguard-bound keys enable use restriction so as to protect sensitive information. Secure Key Import facilitates secure key use while protecting key material from the application or operating system. You can read more about these features in our recent blog post as well as the accompanying release notes.
Enhancing user privacy
User privacy has been boosted with several behavior changes, such as limiting the access background apps have to the camera, microphone, and device sensors. New permission rules and permission groups have been created for phone calls, phone state, and Wi-Fi scans, as well as restrictions around information retrieved from Wi-Fi scans. We have also added associated MAC address randomization, so that a device can use a different network address when connecting to a Wi-Fi network.
On top of that, Android Pie added support for encrypting Android backups with the user’s screen lock secret (that is, PIN, pattern, or password). By design, this means that an attacker would not be able to access a user’s backed-up application data without specifically knowing their passcode. Auto backup for apps has been enhanced by providing developers a way to specify conditions under which their app’s data is excluded from auto backup. For example, Android Pie introduces a new flag to determine whether a user’s backup is client-side encrypted.
As part of a larger effort to move all web traffic away from cleartext (unencrypted HTTP) and towards being secured with TLS (HTTPS), we changed the defaults for Network Security Configuration to block all cleartext traffic. We’re protecting users with TLS by default, unless you explicitly opt-in to cleartext for specific domains. Android Pie also adds built-in support for DNS over TLS, automatically upgrading DNS queries to TLS if a network’s DNS server supports it. This protects information about IP addresses visited from being sniffed or intercepted on the network level.
We believe that the features described in this post advance the security and privacy posture of Android, but you don’t have to take our word for it. Year after year our continued efforts are demonstrably resulting in better protection as evidenced by increasing exploit difficulty and independent mobile security ratings. Now go and enjoy some actual pie while we get back to preparing the next Android dessert release!
Acknowledgements: This post leveraged contributions from Chad Brubaker, Janis Danisevskis, Giles Hogben, Troy Kensinger, Ivan Lozano, Vishwath Mohan, Frank Salim, Sami Tolvanen, Lilian Young, and Shawn Willden.
Your packaging choices can make or break your brand. After all, your product’s packaging design influences consumer behavior and brand perception.
If you want to start right with design, check out the following rules to follow.
Be honest with customers
Honesty can go a long way in package design. It must be the true reflection of your product or brand.
Do not attempt to under-deliver or over-promise. Otherwise, you’ll disappoint your customers by tricking them into something that does not exist or that they don’t expect.
Speaking of honesty, strive hard to depict your product in the best way possible.
For example, why would you put a cookie in melted chocolate if you were just selling chocolate-flavored cookie? Or why would you include many strawberries in the design of your fruit yogurt if yours has little strawberry content?
Just be honest. Don’t depict your product five times better than it is. Otherwise, you’ll mislead and disappoint customers who won’t attempt to buy from you ever again. In all cases, don’t use a misleading package design.
Keep it simple
Simplicity and clarity go hand in hand.
For one, customers have nothing against inexpensive products, so you don’t have to put many unnecessary elements in the design. It will just mislead customers.
Simplicity is the key to helping customers easily recognize what your product is for and what the brand behind it is.
For example, avoid listing tons of benefits without a clear brand name or try to make your packaging look great on the outside without clearly explaining what’s inside it.
It’s one of the main rules of package designing – it must be clear about the product and the brand.
Make it useful
Think about the footprint of your product’s packaging and factor in transportation and/or international transit cost.
Make sure your box, can or bottle is moderately small. Before the actual manufacturing of your product’s package, deliberate over it along with your product’s shelf life.
With usefulness of a product’s packaging design also comes practicality. It deals with the actual functionality, shape, and size of the jar, bottle, box or container and not just of the wrap or label.
The more sales your product might be getting if it’s indeed a practical product.
Its sales went up when it turned its bottle upside down because that design simply makes ketchup dispensing much easier
At the end of the day, ask yourself:
Does my package feature conveniences or innovations valued by customers?
Can it solve a problem?
Finally, you must adhere to the law and ensure that your packaging is recyclable.
Another rule for an effective packaging design lies in customer experience.
What kind of impression do you want to leave consumers? How would you make them remember your brand and product while browsing different other products in the grocery shelf with your package design?
That’s why you have to express a unique and clear reason to exist in the first place. If you’re good at this, you’ll create a deeper relationship with your customers because they feel good about your brand.
One way to do that is to appeal to them with your package design. Make equally great packaging choices. Don’t embellish too much or else, you won’t make an accurate representation of your product.
You should also not exaggerate things by making your product seemingly loaded when it is not. As again, you have to be honest with your customers.
Make eco-friendly packaging
Go green with your packaging and show customers you sincerely care for the environment. Make sure that your packaging design has a lower carbon footprint to help you create a positive image for your brand.
And again, ensure it is recyclable and your materials are sourced locally. By using eco-friendly packaging, you can improve your brand’s image, too. This will favor consumers who are environmentally conscious.
Remember that your choices influence how consumers will perceive your brand and product. It’s your last chance to convince them to choose you over competitors.
If you want to make an impact — not only on the shelves but also in the minds of consumers — think about the best packaging design that shows honesty, eco-friendliness, usefulness, and simplicity. Finally, it should create a WOW customer experience.
Posted by Wojtek Kaliciński, Developer Advocate, Android
Last year, we launched Android App Bundles and Google Play’s Dynamic Delivery to introduce modular development, reduce app size and streamline the release process. Since then, we’ve seen developers quickly adopt this new app model in over 60,000 production apps. We’ve been excited to see developers experience significant app size savings and reductions in the time needed to manage each release, and have documented these benefits in case studies with Duolingo and redBus.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to give us feedback on our initial launch. We’re always open to new ideas, and today, we’re happy to announce some new improvements based on your suggestions:
A new additional languages install API, which supports in-app language pickers
A streamlined publishing process for instant-enabled app bundles
A new enrollment option for app signing by Google Play
The ability to permanently uninstall dynamic feature modules that are included in your app’s initial install
Additional languages API
When you adopt the Android App Bundle as the publishing format for your app, Google Play is able to optimize the installation by delivering only the language resources that match the device’s system locales. If a user changes the system locale after the app is installed, Play automatically downloads the required resources.
Some developers choose to decouple the app’s display language from the system locale by adding an in-app language switcher. With the latest release of the Play Core library (version 1.4.0), we’re introducing a new additional languages API that makes it possible to build in-app language pickers while retaining the full benefits of smaller installs provided by using app bundles.
With the additional languages API, apps can now request the Play Store to install resources for a new language configuration on demand and immediately start using it.
We’ve also updated our dynamic features sample on GitHub with the additional languages API, including how to store the user’s language preference and apply it to your activities at startup.
Please note that while the additional languages API is now available to all developers, on demand modules are in a closed beta for the time being. You can experiment with on demand modules in your internal, open, and closed test tracks, while we work with our partners to make sure this feature is ready for production apps.
Instant-enabled App Bundle
In Android Studio 3.3, we introduced a way to build app bundles that contain both the regular, installed version of your app as well as a Google Play Instant experience for modules marked with the dist:instant="true" attribute in their AndroidManifest.xml:
Even though you could use a single project to generate the installed and instant versions of your app, up until now, developers were still required to use product flavors in order to build two separate app bundles and upload both to Play.
We’re happy to announce that we have now removed this restriction. It’s now possible to upload a single, unified app bundle artifact, containing modules enabled for the instant experience. This functionality is now available for everyone.
After you build an instant-enabled app bundle, upload it to any track on the Play Console, and you’ll be able to select it when creating a new instant app release. This also means that the installed and instant versions of your app no longer need different version codes, which will simplify the release workflow.
Opt in to app signing by Google Play
You need to enable app signing by Google Play to publish your app using an Android App Bundle and automatically benefit from Dynamic Delivery optimizations. It is also a more secure way to manage your signing key, which we recommend to everyone, even if you want to keep publishing regular APKs for now.
Based on your feedback, we’ve revamped the sign-up flow for new apps to make it easier to initialize the key you want to use for signing your app.
Now developers can explicitly choose to upload their existing key without needing to upload a self-signed artifact first. You can also choose to start with a key generated by Google Play, so that the key used to locally sign your app bundle can become your upload key.
We have now added the ability to permanently uninstall dynamic feature modules that are included in your app’s initial install.
This is a behavior change, which means you can now call the existing SplitInstallManager#deferredUninstall() API on modules that set onDemand="false". The module will be permanently uninstalled, even when the app is updated.
This opens up new possibilities for developers to further reduce the installed app size. For example, you can now uninstall a heavy sign-up module or any other onboarding content once the user completes it. If the user navigates to a section of your app that has been uninstalled, you can reinstall it using the standard on demand modules install API.
We hope you enjoy these improvements and test them out in your apps. Continue to share your feedback as we work to make these features even more useful for you!
For men in nursing, this rewarding career choice can often be strewn with challenges and obstacles. But, the challenges are starting to recede. Men are beginning to face fewer challenges in this field as time goes on, but there are a few things that still stand in the way.
Lack of Fitting Uniforms
Most websites selling nurse uniforms cater to women being that nursing is a historically female-dominated field. As such, male nurses find it difficult to find scrubs that are large enough and tailored toward the male anatomy. They need to be more narrow in the chest area, have longer torsos, broader shoulders, and a longer inseam to ensure a great fit.
How This is Changing – Fortunately for male nurses, there are more and more companies and websites dedicated to having at least a selection of male nurse scrubs. Murse World, in particular, is an exclusively male-oriented online scrub store. You’ll find different fits, styles, and patterns all in one place tailored specifically for men.
Lack of Male Role Models
While it’s normal to see a male in the doctor’s role, having a male nurse for a role model may be more difficult to achieve. Although there is nothing wrong with a male nurse having a female nurse role model, there may be things that a male nurse can’t comfortably address with a female like they would a male.
How This is Changing – More and more males are beginning to go into nursing as a profession. For example, the number of male nurses who went to school for a Doctorate or Master’s degree in nursing jumped from 1,000 to 4,000 in a few years.
Perceived as Less Compassionate
When people think of compassionate nurses, the female nurse in a white nursing uniform is always one of the top images that come to mind. Male nurses typically get the view of being rough, not as caring, and more irritable. This less compassionate view can come from both the male nurse’s collegues and from the patients that the male nurses care for.
How This is Changing – As more men continue to enter the nursing workforce, both nurses and patients are starting to realize that this stereotype simply isn’t true. Male nurses go into this field because they care about their patients and their outcomes.
Many male nurses find themselves a victim of role expectations in the workplace. For example, many of their female colleagues ask them to lift heavy objects or heavy patients simply because they have the role expectation that their male colleagues are stronger and more muscled because they’re male. On the other side of the coin, outsiders see male nurses as more feminine for their career choice.
How This is Changing – People’s role expectations are slowly starting to evolve as more male nurses take on roles throughout the hospital. People are starting to realize that they shouldn’t try to enforce typical gender stereotypes on their colleagues, and see them as a nurse first and foremost.
Differing Communication Styles
Males and females have a different communication style. This means that male nurses used to have to conform and learn the female communication style because they took a career in a female-dominated industry. This can make professional interactions difficult, especially in stressful environments like in an emergency room or in labor and delivery.
How This is Changing – Hospitals and medical facilities are starting to shift their communication styles to be more professional between colleagues. This removes some of the gender-based communication, and it can make it easier for male and female nurses to interact and understand each other.
Barred from Obstetrics
Most obstetrics patients don’t have a problem with having a male doctor present during their birth. However, they seem to have a big problem with male nurses, and this is why hospitals barred male nurses from obstetrics for many, many years. There was no discussion about it, and male nurses knew that they simply weren’t allowed in labor and delivery.
How This is Changing – While this is still an ongoing issue, male nurses are no longer barred from labor and delivery. Some patients may request a female nurse, but male nurses do also work in this department with great success.
Shortage of Male Nurses
The healthcare industry’s need for nurses and the number of nurses available is quickly becoming wider and wider. Male nurses are less common, and the demand for them is going up as well. This means that there isn’t a shortage of jobs available, and the demand continues to rise.
How This is Changing – The number of males going into the nursing field continues on a steady climb. Numbers are up from years ago, and more males are starting to take interest due to guaranteed jobs and high job security.
Men in nursing do face a variety of unique challenges and hurdles that they have to overcome. However, each day brings more awareness to the fact that male nurses can be a valuable part of any hospital team, and that they’re an excellent way to add diversity into a hospital staff.
Are you tired of unreliable and painfully slow internet when traveling? Do you worry about your security?
It does feel like an endless battle waiting for apps to respond and pages to load. Imagine spending your precious traveling time looking at a blank screen instead of enjoying the beautiful environment.
To ensure you enjoy your internet access without worrying about your security while traveling, we have put together some really helpful tips.
Ensure you stick to secure sites
First, check the website if it’s secure. You can check if a site is secure by going through the security information using a trusted browser like Firefox or Chrome. You’ll know a site’s connection is safe when there’s a green lock on the left side of the URL.
It is important that you try avoiding entering sensitive information on non-secured sites, especially when using a public network. This includes entering credit card numbers, passwords, and other personal details.
App security is less stringent when compared to browser security. In case you are using apps from popular brands like Paypal, you will definitely be okay.
However, it is important that you try avoiding entering sensitive information into apps from not so popular companies. This is crucial, especially when using a similar password for various websites.
Switch off file sharing
Ensure that your files are secure.
In most cases, when you are using your laptop on the home network, you normally share folders with your parents, siblings or friends. This is okay as long as you remember to turn it off when connecting to a public Wi-Fi.
If you forget to turn off file sharing, every person who connects to the same Wi-Fi can view your files.
The most recent computers are smart and capable of automatically turning off file sharing when you connect to public Wi-Fi. However, it is advisable that you always double check.
Update your anti-virus
It is important that you never connect your devices to any free Wi-Fi network without an updated antivirus. Most smartphones and laptops these days come with built-in software like the Windows Defender. However, you are still advised to step up and download software like Avast, which is capable of giving you an extra layer of protection.
You can consider using a VPN, which will act as your private internet bodyguard. VPN will hide your IP address and encrypt your connection to ensure everything you send over the internet is hidden.
VPN is cheap and accessible. You should never have an excuse for failing to use one.
Looking at successful people, we tend to assume that they are cut from a different cloth. But once you factor in incremental progress, the image becomes less fuzzy around the edges. Whoever you think they are, and however you think they got there, what truly defines them is a set of important habits.
If you are in your mid-twenties, let me cut you a lot of suspense – the quality of your life, and perhaps even the length of it, will greatly depend on the routines you’re about to adopt.
Results and consequences, no matter how small, tend to accumulate year after year, so you better set your trajectory straight. I use 30 in my title in order to illustrate the importance of getting a head start. The sooner you begin to pay attention, the better. But let me give you a reassuring tap on the shoulder as well – even if you are pass the age of 30, there is still a chance to turn everything around if you just commit to a set of healthy habits.
I’ll walk you through a list of behaviors, trying to sell you the idea of small but incremental progress. The goal is to put everything on autopilot, making sure that you won’t fall off the wagon.
Develop a morning routine
Routines, according to Professor Jordan Peterson from the University of Toronto, will keep you grounded and therefore sane. There are a lot of people who would vouch for the morning routine, and although most of them share a different idea when it comes to structure, they certainly agree on the importance of it as a habit.
The morning routine is the first labor contraction towards developing a successful life. It is one of the most important habits. But there are several boxes to check – first of all, you have to make your bed. This, according to Admiral William H. McRaven, will give you a sense of accomplishment, pride, and élan to move forward throughout the day and tackle different challenges.
Then have some time for yourself, whether it is with a cup of coffee or a freshly brewed tea, and write in your journal.
Eat a healthy breakfast
Often times, people start to invest in personal development without first tackling the chemistry. But you must know this – failure to eat a proper breakfast will inevitably lead to a slower metabolism, hormonal imbalances, anxiety, and lack of energy. The problems will accumulate over the long run.
I first stumbled across meditation after struggling with chronic OCD that I’ve been dragging along since my early childhood. Not knowing how to start was a big obstacle, and I had all of the usual stereotypes about the practice. But I’ve downloaded a couple of apps, and decided to persist with one of them. This changed my life forever.
Meditation will teach you how to disentangle from your negative thoughts and emotions, and this is one of the most important skills in life.
Exercise within your zone of comfort
I’m the co-founder of a holistic fitness platform, but I’m not here to repeat popular mantras. Forget about pushing hard, and going beyond your limits – steady progress will outrank ambitious routines nine ways to Sunday. The key is to make it enjoyable, bearable, and part of your daily routine.
And you don’t have to work your butt off, trust me – even the benefits of Zumba will make a lot of difference on the long run.
Forget about processed sugar
The occasional cake won’t be a problem. However, habitual consumption of sugar and overly refined carbs, will definitely come at a price. Problems will manifest even before you reach your senior years. Unfortunately, in real life, ominous music rarely plays before things suddenly fall apart. Sugar consumption will bring about a garden variety of problems. Make sure to eliminate it from your diet as soon as you can.
Read at least one book per month
We always schedule reading for sometimes next week. But time goes by, and all of the sudden we cannot remember the last title that we’ve red. If you are generally unsure where to start, here is a long list of books recommended by author Tim Ferriss, as he tries to catalogue the pieces of writing that influenced billionaires and some of the most interesting people in the world.
If however, you are not quite comfortable with reading, you can start with audio books or even podcasts. You need something in the long form that makes you think.
Slavko Desik is the editor in chief at Lifestyle Updated, and the co-creator of a very popular fitness platform. He loves to write about personal development, exercise, and a more holistic approach to physical and mental health.