Featured

What Happens When All Bitcoins Are Mined?

Bitcoin is a highly volatile digital asset, and if you follow its price closely you’ll grow used to dramatic swings. This makes it appear risky, but also provides the opportunity to profit. And you could argue that if you take a long-term view, then it’s not so risky at all.

In fact, quite the opposite: zoom out, and the macro perspective shows an asset that has since its inception moved consistently upwards. That’s why a lot of bitcoin buyers choose to just accumulate and hold, knowing that when all bitcoins are mined, there will be no more than 21 million in existence, that number having been set since launch.

This leads to other questions, though. Currently, bitcoin is still being mined into existence, but how exactly does that process take place and, in the end, what will happen when all 21 million bitcoins are mined and in circulation?

How is Bitcoin Mined?

When people talk about mining bitcoin, what they’re talking about is miners using computer equipment to solve complex mathematical equations. These equations allow transactions to be processed on the bitcoin blockchain, and whichever mining rig (meaning the miner’s computer set up) wins the race to solve the equation receives block rewards for their efforts.

These block rewards provide a powerful incentive to the miners, by releasing new bitcoin which the miner takes possession of as payment for their work. In this way, transactions are verified, the network operates securely, and new coins are created.

Regular Halving

The block rewards go through a process known as halving, which takes places every 210,000 blocks, equating to about four years. As the name suggests, the size of the block reward halves each time this happens, and has gone from an initial size of 50 bitcoin in 2009, to, at the last halving in May 2020, 6.25 bitcoin per block. There are now more than 18.7 million bitcoin in existence, but the total supply is not projected to have been fully mined until the year 2140.

Different Rewards

One effect of the halving process is that it will become less profitable to mine bitcoin if miners are relying only on block rewards as an incentive. What this might mean in practice is that miners will eventually come to take their profit not primarily from block rewards, but from transaction fees.

However, there are a couple of caveats to this. The first is that how much of an incentive block rewards continue to be depends on how much the cost of bitcoin continues to increase. If rewards halve, but the value of bitcoin makes significant gains, then the reduced block size is offset, at least partly, by the increased value of a bitcoin.

The second consideration is that when talking of transaction fees, we have to be aware that it can’t be known how many transactions are going to be taking place in the future. A lot of transactions equals plenty of accompanying transaction fees to be claimed, but if there are few transactions, then there’s less incentive to mine. When projecting forwards then, we have to consider what exactly we expect bitcoin to become.

Medium of Exchange or Store of Value?

Fast forward to 2140, when all bitcoin should be mined. What will we be using bitcoin for, if it’s more than just a historical curiosity? If you believe that bitcoin is here to stay, then there are two clear possibilities: the first is that it becomes an actual currency, in use widely as a medium of exchange.

Bitcoin maximalists (the truest of true believers) speak of something called hyperbitcoinization, an ultimate endgame in which bitcoin takes over as a global currency, central banks are no longer needed, and all goods and services are priced in bitcoin.

The second possibility is that bitcoin becomes not a means of transacting but a store of value, similar to gold. This is easier to imagine, and there are those who say it’s already functioning in such a manner, despite its volatility. Maximalists, though, would point out that bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator (or creators), Satoshi Nakamoto, intended it to be used as money, and that one country—El Salvador—has already authorized it as legal tender.

Institutional Adoption

When looking at bitcoin’s price volatility, we should take into consideration the future impact of institutional investment. It may seem unlikely that an asset that has ups and downs as stomach-churning as bitcoin’s could ever be a widely used store of value, let alone a viable everyday currency, but large amounts of investment from big institutions will have a stabilizing effect on the price.

Bitcoin is such a nascent technology, with so much space to expand and change, that it’s impossible to predict where it will be in five or ten years from now, let alone the end of the century or the year 2140. What looks likely, though, is that as ever more coins are mined and mainstream acceptance increases, it will become more stable and easier to utilize.

Featured

Blockchain‌ ‌and‌ ‌DevOps:‌ ‌A‌ ‌New‌ ‌Power‌ ‌ Couple?‌

Image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/black-farmed-eyeglasses-in-front-of-laptop-computer-577585/

If you work in the digital industry, you must have no doubt heard of blockchain by now. The revolutionary database technology that formed the backbone network of rock star cryptocurrency Bitcoin is now being adopted across various mainstream sectors. As the global business economy becomes ever more dependent on software, applications, and web-based development, the potential impact of blockchain is likewise growing.

Blockchain for Enterprises

Blockchain is a shared, unalterable ledger that supports the recording of transactions and tracking of assets. Each transaction is recorded as a block of data as it occurs and each block is linked to the ones before and after it based on a purely chronological order. These blocks form an irreversible blockchain in which content cannot be altered. Furthermore, blockchain ledges are distributed across wide networks, ensuring that no record can be tampered with from a single source. This immutable ledger of transactions is both exceptionally secure and transparent.

Smart contracts are an application of blockchain technology that has multiple benefits for enterprise platforms. Smart contracts are software protocols stored on a blockchain that run automatically or trigger a subsequent action when certain predetermined conditions are fulfilled. Because transactions through smart contracts are secure, digital, and automated, there is virtually no risk of fraud and human error. The need for intermediaries is removed, saving both time and financial resources.
The distributed database system used in blockchain is also one of its most attractive features. Since the blockchain database is accessible to all authorized users, there is more data monitoring. And while users may view the data or add new blocks, existing data cannot be modified or deleted. The absolute transparency of the decentralized blockchain ledger translates to secure and robust databases that improve the integrity of the entire software platform.

Blockchain technology is growing rapidly and blockchain-based software development is the next sector poised to boom from its support. With the World Economic Forum predicting that 10% of GDP will be stored on blockchains or blockchain-related technology by 2025, global businesses are looking to software developers to help them make sense and good use of this technology.

Introducing DevOps

Aside from blockchain, another buzzword that has been making the rounds in software development circles in recent years is DevOps. DevOps is essentially the unification of software development (Dev) and software operations (Ops). It is a holistic approach that combines the tools and practices across software engineering and IT operations to improve the development phase. This agile relationship between previously segregated departments results in shorter development cycles and better product evolution. Notable companies that have transitioned to DevOps include Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook.

A DevOps-oriented software development company is made up of dedicated cross-functional teams that work based on communication and collaboration. In the old-fashioned IT environment, various skill-centric silos or departments take turns to work on a project, passing it to and fro in a linear fashion with limited communication. DevOps teams, however, are self-sufficient and consist of various specialists such as software developers, business analysts, and IT managers.

Unlike traditional development teams that put out large releases at a time, DevOps teams work with small milestones. This focus on frequent and manageable delivery allows more thorough testing, reduces the margin of error, and allows the prompt rectification of any unforeseen issues. More importantly, by working in small morsels, the end product turns out as close to the client’s needs as possible.

Automation is a huge part of DevOps culture. DevOps tools allow enterprise developers to run fully automated DevOps pipelines from code to production. The use of automation allows DevOps teams to pay attention to creative tasks instead of spending time on trivial, routine functions. Aside from automated testing, the deployment process can be automated too, with builds that pass tests being sent through the CI/CD pipeline to clients.

The CI/CD process is a central concept of the modern DevOps environment. CI stands for continuous integration, where developers add code into their shared database throughout the day. Automatic testing procedures are initiated and all errors resolved. CD stands for continuous deployment where a good build is automatically released to the production environment.

A Happy Union

Given the inherent characteristics of both blockchain and DevOps, it seems that software developers could only benefit from combining the two.
DevOps is geared towards the idea of smooth and speedy implementation across individuals in a team within an agile environment. Blockchain can ensure the security and transparency of the software development process as it is being updated by numerous stakeholders. The data on the blockchain ledger can be viewed instantly by all authorized users, providing greater visibility and perception of progress during the CI/CD process.

DevOps developers can also use blockchain smart contracts to regulate their software testing process. As businesses strive to be more customer-centric, smart contracts can be used to independently verify specific user requirements. These smart contracts can automatically put a hold on releasing software builds until these specific issues are resolved.
From secure transactions to privacy management, shared ledgers, and smart contracts, it is believed that blockchain technology will transform the way business is conducted. At the same time, DevOps can provide a reliable and efficient environment that further builds on the virtues of blockchain.
As blockchain technology and DevOps enterprise software development grow in tandem, they are poised to deliver incredible value to organizations willing to embrace cutting-edge technology.

Featured

How Blockchain is Driving Safer Roads

Unless you have been living under a rock, you would have no doubt heard about Bitcoin and how it revolutionized the financial sector. The database technology behind the Bitcoin network is called blockchain. Despite its rather dull name, believe me when I say that blockchain technology is going to shape far more than the cryptocurrency world.

What is Blockchain?

Blockchain might seem complicated but its core concept is very straightforward. Think of it as an alternative type of database.

Picture the traditional database as a warehouse. As packages of information arrive, they are sorted and stored on various shelves throughout the facility. If there is a new version of the same item, the older item is replaced and archived. A central supervisor keeps a record of when each package arrives and where it is stored.

In the blockchain warehouse, packages are stacked into containers based on arrival time. When a container—or block—is full, it is connected to the previous one, forming a data chain called a blockchain. Once added to the blockchain, all existing items will never be moved again, forming a permanent sequence of data.

What this means is that blockchain is incredibly transparent and secure. As new data blocks are stored chronologically, there is a linear history of events that cannot be altered. The security is increased exponentially if decentralized networks comprising thousands of supervisors are used to store the blockchains. In such a network, any incorrect information will immediately be rectified based on the collective record.

Making Vehicles Smarter

With its robust ability for providing oversight and accountability, blockchain could be the technological push required to solve lingering problems in the automotive industry. Here are some possible applications of blockchain technology that might be coming to a highway near us.
Gone are the dusty old days when a car was just steel and rubber wrapped around a combustion engine. These days, we would be hard-pressed to find a car without a computer onboard. Cars are veritable mobile supercomputers, collecting multiple points of data, and communicating with external sources over the broadband cellular network.

From the very first stages of manufacturing, blockchain ledgers can record every movement in the automotive supply chain. This allows for better control and collaboration between each link, increasing manufacturing efficiency and transparency. One such use has been to ensure that electric vehicles only use child-labor-free cobalt in their batteries.

With sensors in cars measuring just about everything, data on fuel efficiency and emissions can also help manufacturers create cleaner car components. This is necessary as countries enact stricter limits on carbon emissions and pollutants. Blockchain technology acts as an interoperable ledger of statistics to facilitate the use of this data.

Blockchain platforms can also store and verify critical information about vehicle ownership, such as titles, proof of sale, history of transfers, and insurance. Blockchain-based electronic vehicle sale or lease contracts can be automated, cutting out the need for intermediaries and thus providing clearer information and simpler processes.

But perhaps the most attractive application of blockchain technology in terms of the transport sector would be in traffic management. By combining blockchain with ride-sharing and autonomous vehicles, innovators are hoping to alleviate traffic congestion. Continuous developments in vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications can help to create traffic flow that avoids congested locations in our future traffic system.

Enhancing Driver Experience

On the user front, blockchain ledgers can prove handy by improving convenience within the automotive industry. From updating me about component upgrades to sending my vehicle performance data to a remote mechanic for a scheduled service, multiple practical applications can utilize blockchain technology.

In-car wallets are one of the key emerging concepts in the integration of blockchain with the transportation sector. No matter where we live in the United States, tolls are an unavoidable part of life. The idea of an in-car blockchain wallet expands on the existing E-ZPass concept to enable quick and secure transactions for everything from state park entry fees to feeding parking meters.

Aside from paying for stuff, blockchain technology can also help car owners save money. Automotive insurers are considering usage-based auto insurance models as part of the new mobility ecosystem. In addition, auto insurance information can be stored on the interoperable blockchain ledger for easy access by all parties.

For example, in case of an accident, GPS technology would locate a car accident lawyer near me and provide the driving records stored on the blockchain as irrefutable proof of the sequence of events. Blockchain technology also enables the automation of claims handling and provides a convenient pay-out mechanism.

As further support for safe drivers, data about a user’s driving habits can be recorded, stored on the blockchain, and analyzed. Those with safe driving records can be rewarded in the form of fiat currency, cryptocurrency, or vouchers. It has even been suggested that safer drivers should have lowered insurance premiums.

With blockchain boasting such strong security, it has been proposed that vehicles employ identity-specific unlocking mechanisms instead of easily stolen keyless entry remotes. Biometric data of vehicle owners can be stored securely within the blockchain, preventing car theft.

Smart vehicles gather and generate an extraordinary amount of data. It is estimated that a self-driving vehicle can create a whopping 1 gigabyte of data per second. In our digital age, user data is worth its metaphorical weight in gold. Blockchain technology can be used to grant us greater privacy control while providing a secure way to store our personal data.

At this point, it may be too early to say how exactly blockchain will be implemented into our automotive and transport systems. However, I can confidently say that we can look forward to a safer and more hassle-free experience on the roads in the near future.

Featured

Introduction to Decentralization (Part II)

Sequels are often a poor shadow of the original genius. But not in this case! Strap yourself in for the gripping part II of this introduction to decentralization. In part one we covered where the centralized world has come from historically. In this post, we continue the explanation of the seismic shift that has occured in the technology of trust, leading to decentralization.

But first, you need to understand encryption.

Encryption

When talking about encryption and cryptography, two familiar characters enter the scene with habitual certainty: Alice and Bob. And sometimes one other character (evil Eve / malicious Mal).

There are two main things you can do with Asymmetric Key Cryptography (loosely, that’s where you have a public key and a private key).

The first thing that Alice and Bob can do with Asymmetric Key Cryptography is of course: Encrypting. Which means that Alice can write a sensitive message, encrypt it, and send it to Bob, without anyone but Bob being able to read it.

This is achieved by the following steps: First Alice writes her sensitive message e.g. ("Please send the goods to 123 Road Street."), and then encrypts it with Bob's public key, which everyone knows and has access to. Now, only Bob's private key can decrypt the encrypted message. If Eve views the encrypted message in between, she won't be able to decrypt it, because she doesn't have Bob's private key. Only Bob has his private key. When Bob receives the encrypted message, he uses his private key to decrypt the message and is able to read the sensitive contents. Wonderful.

But now, we have a new problem. Since Bob's public key is public (everyone knows it), then, in our example, you may ask: Well, couldn't Eve just throw away Alice's entire encrypted message, and replace it with her own evil message ("Hello this is really definitely Alice. Send the goods to 456 Other Street.") which she encrypts with Bob's public key? When Eve sends the evil replaced message to Bob, Bob would still be able to decrypt it and he would be none the wiser that it had really come from Eve, not Alice. That would be bad!

Introducing the second thing that you can do with Asymmetric Key Cryptography: Signing. Signing is the solution to the problem of authenticity. So, Alice wants to send a message to Bob, and she wants Bob to be certain that it really came only from her. They take the following steps: First, Alice writes her message and sends it to Bob unencrypted, she also encrypts the same message with her private key, and sends that encrypted message too. Note that only Alice's public key can decrypt the message that was encrypted with her private key. Since everyone (including Bob) knows Alice's public key, Bob is able to decrypt the message and if it works and the two messages match perfectly, then Bob knows that it really did come from Alice, and was not tampered with.

Combining these two methods together gives a powerful result. Alice and Bob can communicate with certainty that 1) what they say to each other won't be read by Eve and 2) the messages they receive can only be from each other, and not Eve impersonating them. These are referred to as confidentiality and authenticity respectively.

Blockchain

Back to the problem of trusting the bank with your sheep.

Instead of holding gold to represent value, instead, in a decentralised world we hold bitcoin. I do this by holding onto two encryption keys, one key is secret only to me, and one key is public, that I can hand out to everyone.

Anyone who has my public key can use it to check that I really have the bitcoin. “According to whom?”, you might ask. Is there a central website or vault that they can go to, to check? No, there is not, they do not need to trust any one person. In fact, they don’t even need to trust me. They can check with thousands of blockchain servers around the world, independently run by strangers, none of them centralized in one place, or under the control of one group or government. All of those servers have cryptographically confirmed that "Yes in fact, he does have that bitcoin". Since I could probably convince a few of them to lie and say that I have the bitcoin when I really don't, you need to make sure a large majority of all the decentralized servers agree. This "consensus" problem is one of the core aspects that makes blockchain new and interesting.

I use my private key to send some of that bitcoin to you. Again, do you have to trust me? No sir! You don't have to trust any one person. I use my private key to sign a message out to all the bitcoin servers on the internet, telling everyone that some of my bitcoin is now yours. Since I'm the only one with my private key, all of the servers know that it's really mine, and no trust is needed. Without needing to trust that I’ve sent the funds, now you can just ask all of those servers, and when they all agree, then you know that the bitcoin has really been sent to you. And no bank or government is involved at all!

Be aware that this explanation is a nutshell only, it skips over the details of how bitcoin actually works, but gives you the general idea.

Decentralization

Now that you know roughly how the blockchain works, and that you no longer have to trust any individual bank, company, vault, government, or sheep, you can go ahead and use Bitcoin and other blockchain based technologies with confidence.

Stay tuned for more things you can do with blockchain, including voting, trading, loans, and distributed decentralized computing!

Featured

Introduction to Decentralization (Part I)

To explain what decentralization is, let us of course first explore how things used to be: centralized. Let us explore that topic with a distinctly Settlers of Catan flavor.

Centralization Step One

If you own a lot of sheep, and want to trade it for wood, it's difficult to carry around the sheep. They bleat a lot and leave mess on the floor. So instead, you can carry around a small amount of gold, which is worth as much as a whole lot of sheep. Now everyone can just carry gold around, instead of everyone having to carry sheep and wood and stone around. But now, the problem is that your gold can easily be stolen, you need to protect it. So rather than paying an independent bodyguard to protect your gold (who you might not trust, since at least some of the body guards will be gold thieves masquerading as bodyguards). So you instead take your gold to a vault for safe keeping. That vault is trusted by lots of other people who have confirmed that their gold wasn't stolen. And the vault is a lot more secure than one bodyguard. Everyone pays and trusts the vault, and everyone reaps the benefits. But everyone also risks that the entire lot of gold is stolen by the vault operators, or some sophisticated gold thieves. This is centralization, step one.

Centralisation Step Two

Now that everyone trusts the centralized store of value, the vault owners start getting cocky. They change their name from “vault” to “bank”. They start loaning out a little bit of everyone's gold to other people, and charge a fee for that, and as a result, earn a huge amount of gold in fees. They sort of tell you that they're loaning your money out when you give it to them the first time, but you were probably 15 years old and it's also sort of not that clear. But since everyone else is doing it, you just go along with it. And most of the time, most of the people are fine, since when you go and ask for your gold, they give you the right amount, and there are no problems.

But now, you're truly trusting the bank not only to keep your gold and not steal it, but you're also trusting them to not loan it all out to untrustworthy people who won't pay it back, or at least, you're trusting them not to make too many mistakes whilst doing that. After all, if they loaned it all out, and you wanted your gold back, they might not have enough left! That's a lot of trust placed in one organization, in one central place.

In the case that everyone comes to the bank at the same time, and everyone asks for their gold, the bank would be unable to return all the deposited gold, since a lot of it is still loaned out to others. Just like everyone flushing the toilet at the same time, it's a total disaster, and there’s sh*t everywhere. This happens more often than you think. In the recent global financial downturn, Banks and ATMs in Greece limited the amount of cash that could be withdrawn per day.

And you may say, "Well in some countries, your bank deposit is insured by the Government up to a certain amount, for example, $100,000 USD in the US". Very true, however now you have just swapped one centralized entity that you have to trust, for another. If banks are failing, then the situation is already potentially dire, and it's not too far of a stretch to imagine a government failing.

So there are clearly upsides and downsides to centralization.

Decentralization

The underlying problem is that all the assets are centralised in one place, and that if someone were to, for example, rob an extremely large portion of the bank's cash, or if the bank were to declare bankruptcy, then all of the people who trusted the bank would be affected. So the likelihood is low, but the impact is extremely high, and the cost for each person is low. On the other hand, hiring a bodyguard who loses your gold is high likelihood, high cost, and high impact.

There must be a better solution!

How can we arrange the situation so that we do not all need to trust one centralized entity, with low cost? That's what the blockchain solves.

Part II, coming soon.

Why Is Moissanite the New Trend in Engagement Rings?

If you are planning to propose, a stunning engagement ring could be the difference between a reluctant nod and a resounding yes. Although diamonds are the conventional choice for engagement rings, synthetic diamond alternatives are becoming increasingly popular for a variety of reasons. A lab-grown gem that is making waves in the jewelry industry is moissanite.

The History of Moissanite

The story of moissanite began with a meteorite crashing into the Canyon Diablo region of Coconino County, Arizona. The impact created a massive pit almost 600 feet deep and 4,000 feet in diameter. Although the crater was only discovered by American settlers in the 19th century, it is estimated to have been formed as long as 50,000 years ago.

In 1893, Nobel Prize-winning French chemist Ferdinand Frédéric Henri Moissan began to study fragments that were found in the crater. His objective was to find substances that were suitable for efficient electrical conductivity. During his extensive research, Moissan uncovered a remarkable new mineral—silicon carbide. The mineral was named after him and became known as moissanite.

Due to the extreme rarity of moissanite, there was little development in its study or use. Over a century later, researchers in North Carolina patented a process to create pure synthetic silicon carbide for use in semiconductors. This invention caught the eye of jewelry maker Charles & Colvard, who introduced the first lab-created moissanite gem in 1998.

Moissanite vs. Diamond

Since the launch of moissanites in fine jewelry, the rare mineral has been gaining popularity as an alternative to diamonds. The two stones are so similar that jewelry experts need professional equipment to tell them apart. From one precious gem to another, what is the difference between diamond and moissanite, and how does moissanite compare with other diamond substitutes?

Brilliance and Fire

When you admire a gem, you will notice that it reacts to light in two ways. Brilliance is when the gem reflects white light and fire is when the gem displays a spectrum of colors. Moissanites have a different faceting pattern and a higher refractive index than diamonds. Therefore, they react to light differently and produce an intense brilliance with greater flashes of fire. The larger the moissanite, the more noticeable the distinction.

Color and Clarity

Classic moissanites traditionally come with a yellow hue that works brilliantly with vintage settings and yellow or rose gold. However, many buyers prefer colorless gems to symbolize purity and perfection. With the precision of the creation process, moissanites can match the colorless diamond D-grade that is the gold standard of diamond jewelry.

Quality, natural diamonds are rare. And natural D-grade diamonds are one in a million. Meanwhile, lab-manufactured moissanites can be produced at will. While buyers can expect to pay upwards of ten thousand dollars for a 1.0-carat natural D-grade diamond, a moissanite of the same carat weight and absence of color will cost but a fraction of the price.

Similarly, trying to source a diamond with superior clarity can be difficult without an immense budget. Diamonds naturally come with visible imperfections that affect the beauty of the stone. Moissanites are grown in high-tech laboratories under a strictly controlled process. Therefore, they are always free of imperfections and completely eye-clean.

Durability

Diamonds are used for engagement rings because they are known to last ‘forever’. As the toughest naturally-occurring material, diamonds are resistant to scratches and abrasions. The good news is that moissanite is not far behind. Diamond is rated 10 on the Mohs hardness scale while moissanite is rated 9.25-9.5, making it the second hardest material used as a gemstone. Zirconia, another common alternative, comes in at 8.5.

With such strength, the only thing that can scratch moissanite jewelry is a diamond. Since it is unlikely that you would store your fine jewelry haphazardly, a moissanite ring will probably look perfect for life. That said, certain gem cuts are more vulnerable to chips. For example, princess cuts are known to chip more easily than round cuts. So, choose your cuts wisely.

Another thing to consider is that moissanite does not lose its brilliance or clarity over time. Some synthetic diamond alternatives such as cubic zirconia can develop a cloudy or milky appearance. Many people want to pass their engagement rings down to future generations and you can rest assured that a moissanite gem will shine just as bright in a hundred years.

Sourcing

The natural diamond mining industry has been involved in many controversial human rights and environmental issues. To completely avoid these ethical and ecological concerns, many jewelry buyers are now turning to lab-created gemstones. Moissanites provide a hundred percent of the good looks with none of the conflict and guilt.

If you want to impress the love of your life, your engagement ring must feature at least one gorgeous, sparkling stone. While diamonds are highly-variable, gem-grade moissanites are always clear, colorless, durable, and absolutely brilliant. Best of all, you can impress your future husband or wife and still have a fair sum to spare for your wedding and honeymoon.

Why Parents Should Get Basic Life Support Training

Parents are responsible for many things when it comes to their children’s care. At the top of the list is safety.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading cause of death for children of all ages is an unintentional injury caused by accidents. Incidents of choking, nearly drowning, falls, poisoning, sports injuries, and other traumatic accidents frequently occur with children. All of these can lead to cardiac arrest (loss of heart functioning, breathing, and consciousness), which requires immediate intervention to save the child’s life.

Unfortunately, many parents don't know what to do in the event of an emergency or how to help their child while they wait for emergency medical services (EMS) to arrive on the scene. But when a child is in cardiac arrest, every minute counts. Parents who are certified in Basic Life Support (BLS) know how to intervene immediately to increase their child’s chances of survival and a full recovery.

BLS training can give parents the knowledge and skills necessary to help their children in the event of an emergency. If you have a child, getting your BLS certification may save a child’s life someday, maybe even your own child’s life.

What Is BLS Training?

BLS is a type of emergency care that is typically administered by first responders (e.g., EMTs) and healthcare providers to a person who is experiencing an obstructed airway, trouble breathing, or cardiac arrest. The primary purpose of BLS is to open the airways and keep blood circulating throughout the body to ensure that oxygen reaches the body’s vital organs.

The skills you learn in BLS training as a parent will help you to:

Recognize the signs of cardiac arrest

Respond confidently and quickly to an emergency

Open an obstructed airway

Perform CPR when needed

If you are facing an emergency with a child, having basic life support certification will ensure that you know exactly how to respond in the event of an emergency until healthcare professionals arrive on the scene.

Reasons Why Parents Should Get Basic Life Support Training

While BLS is often associated with healthcare providers, anyone can learn the lifesaving skills taught in a BLS course. Parents, in particular, can benefit from this knowledge to ensure their child’s survival in the event of an emergency.

Reduce Parental Anxiety

Feeling confident in your parenting skills and knowing what to do in an emergency can do wonders for your mental health and assurance that you can help your child in any type of scenario. Parents who are trained in BLS know how to recognize the signs of a medical emergency and have the skills required to take action. In a recent study, parents whose children had experienced an apparent life-threatening event (ALTE) were given BLS training after their child was discharged from the hospital. Every parent described their experience as “helpful" and reported a reduction in anxiety following their BLS certification.

Most Accidents Occur in the Home

Children are generally curious, adventurous, and brave. They’re not always aware of the potential dangers of exploring their world. Statistics show that most children’s accidents occur in the home and are a leading cause of serious injury, long-term disability, and preventable deaths.

While some accidents are preventable, many aren’t. Knowing what to do when an accident occurs can mean the difference between life and death for a child. As a parent, you’ll do anything you can to ensure your child’s safety and wellness. Having your BLS certification is one way you can help keep your child safe and healthy for many years to come, even in the event of an accident or emergency.

Teach Lifesaving Skills to Your Children

Children are eager to learn and receptive to learning new skills, particularly when they know they can use this newfound knowledge to potentially save a person’s life. When your child is old enough (between 5 and 8 years old), you can transfer the knowledge you have about basic life support to your child to help boost their confidence and teach them what to do if they are faced with a medical emergency at school or home, when playing outside with friends, and other settings. By sharing this important knowledge, you can feel assured that your child will know how to recognize and exit a potentially dangerous situation, how to treat wounds, how to call for help, and how to safely approach emergencies. Your child will also learn important fire prevention techniques and water safety skills.

What Is Taught in BLS Training?

Basic life-saving skills are taught in BLS training, including:

  • How to open the airways
  • How to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation
  • How to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • How to use medical equipment in the event of an emergency (e.g., defibrillator)
  • How to administer CPR solo (alone) and as a team
  • How to administer chest compressions to infants, children, and adults

Once you’ve completed your BLS training program, you will know how to assess and act in emergencies both on your own and as part of a team.

The American Academy of CPR and First Aid provides comprehensive, online training to give you the knowledge and skills you need to handle any emergency event your family may face now and in the future. Our online courses are created by board-certified instructors with years of experience in the healthcare field. Take BLS training online and access the course material at your own pace, at your convenience, day or night.

The Science of Insomnia: What Causes It and How to Solve It

Do you have trouble falling asleep at night? Do you wake up frequently throughout the night? If so, you may be suffering from insomnia. Insomnia is a condition that affects millions of people around the world, and can cause a lot of problems for those who suffer from it. Here's a little more about the science of insomnia, what causes it, and how you might be able to solve it to get a good night's sleep.

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep. However, insomnia can also appear in other forms. For example, you might be able to get to sleep ok, but find it difficult to stay asleep for as long as you need to. Insomnia can cause you to wake up early too, or make you unable to get back to sleep whenever you happen to wake up in the night.

Scientists have found there are two types of insomnia: primary and secondary. Primary insomnia is when sleeplessness is not caused by another health condition or problem. It's a standalone condition. Secondary insomnia, on the other hand, is due to another medical problem (like anxiety or depression), medications, or substances (like alcohol or caffeine).

What Causes Primary Insomnia?

The exact cause of primary insomnia isn't known, but there are some factors that may contribute to it. These include stress, changes in your environment or daily routine, jet lag, and other factors.

According to scientific research, primary insomnia is most often caused by stress. When you're stressed, your body goes into "fight or flight" mode. This is an evolutionary response that helped us survive when we were being chased by wild animals. In "fight or flight" mode, your body releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones make it hard to relax and fall asleep.

Although primary insomnia is not caused by a diagnosed medical issue, research shows that it may be possible to develop depression as a result of primary insomnia.

What Causes Secondary Insomnia?

There are many different things that can cause secondary insomnia. It can be caused by another health condition that may or may not have been diagnosed. This can include an overactive thyroid, anxiety disorders and depression. It can also be caused by chronic pain or hormonal changes, such as the menopause. Medication and substances such as alcohol can also have a direct impact on the ability to sleep.

How to Solve Insomnia

There are a number of things you can do to try and solve your insomnia.

Supplements are helpful to many people, and supplements that are known to help with sleep include things such as valerian root and Full Spectrum CBD Oil. It's worth giving a supplement a try if you are consistently struggling with your sleep.

Keeping a regular sleep schedule is important for solving insomnia. This means going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This may be hard to do at first, but it will help your body get into a regular sleep rhythm.

Creating a relaxing bedtime routine can also help you fall asleep and stay asleep. This can include taking a warm bath, reading a book, or doing some gentle stretching. Also avoiding screen time for a couple of hours before bed can really help. This is because the blue light from screens can interfere with your body's natural sleep rhythm, called the circadian rhythm.

Avoiding substances such as caffeine and alcohol before bed is also important. Both of these substances can impact your ability to sleep, so it's best to avoid them in the evening. Some people are more impacted by these substances than others. For example, some individuals find that if they stop drinking caffeine after midday, their sleep improves. Do some experimenting to see what works for you.

Getting regular exercise is another important part of solving insomnia. Exercise can help to reduce stress and improve your overall sleep quality. Scientifically speaking, this is because exercise helps to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. It also helps to ensure you are physically tired enough to enjoy a full night of sleep.

There are also some herbs that can help to induce a feeling of sleepiness. These herbs include chamomile, lemon balm, and lavender. You can drink a cup of herbal tea before bed or use these herbs in an essential oil diffuser. Some people put lavender oil on a cloth next to their bed at nighttime as a gentle aid to help sleep.

If you've tried a lot of different things for insomnia but nothing is working, you could try something like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I). CBT-I is a type of therapy that can help you change the way you think about sleep. It can also help you change your behaviors and habits that are keeping you from sleeping.

There is no one "right" way to solve insomnia. The best way to figure out how to solve your sleeplessness is to talk to your doctor and try different things until you find something that works for you.

How to Create a Collectible NFT

The world of NFTs has allowed many unknown artists to propel themselves into fame and fortune. While NFT success stories are striking, they are one in 69.3 million. With thousands of collections languishing on OpenSea with floor prices that barely touch the hundredth decimal points, how can you create an NFT that people want to collect and trade?

The Eye of the Beholder

While some of the top collections are truly beautiful, it is no secret that a lot of the others could be mistaken for your teenage nephew’s doodles. We have had webcam selfies, pixelated punks, and vaguely-human silhouettes with wavy overlays trading in the thousands, so the good news is that the lack of conventional artistic skill is not a stumbling block when it comes to NFTs.

Art is a hard concept to define. So, how does one create art that speaks to the crypto crowd? The answer is to connect with their personalities. If sold, your NFT will likely become the new avatar on someone’s Discord, so you need items that will appeal to the mass audience. At the same time, details that make each item unique will ensure their collectability.

When we talk about mass appeal, note that digital aesthetics are rather far removed from what we used to consider fine art. Flaws are cool and pixels are classic. Whether you are into photography, pen and paper, or pure digital art, do something different and edgy. One does not simply add a Shiba Inu illustration to your NFT and assume that it will automatically sell.

More Than Just a Pretty Face

The strength of your collection on the whole will determine your NFT sales. Remember that NFTs hinge largely on collectability so the larger the number of owners, the higher the volume traded, and the more valuable the items. Keeping to a lower number of mints will ensure rarity but can affect your trade volume at the same time, so consider wisely.

Collectors are more likely to buy from collections that offer peripheral benefits or utilities. Access to member Discord servers and websites are some of the normal benefits that are often accorded to NFT owners. There can be exclusive merchandise or events as well. In this form, a collectible NFT is essentially a membership card to a sought-after digital community.

That said, many buyers prefer tangible benefits over love and community. This is why many collectible NFTs come with stats and double up as avatars for online games. You can also give your NFT owners perks such as whitelist access to future mints or airdrops of limited edition items. By increasing the implied value of your collection, you can appeal to a greater audience.

Expose Yourself

By now you may have gathered that the design of an NFT collection is sometimes less important than its inherent collectability. If you happen to know Elon Musk or Justin Bieber and can get them to Tweet about your NFT, then you are well on the way to success. Otherwise, you will have to undertake some good old-fashioned marketing for your collection.

Having a website for your NFT collection is a must. It may seem pretty basic but this is where you are going to land most of your leads. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a highly relevant and effective strategy to get more traffic from Google Search. With 8.5 billion searches being made every day, even a tiny percentage of that will increase your sales potential.

The great thing about investing in SEO is that you can pinpoint the keywords that you want to work with. If you are optimizing your site for ‘buy new NFT’, then you know that the people who are directed to your site are already reaching for their crypto wallets. Having other sites with good reputations link back to yours will boost your search engine rankings too.

Working with crypto influencers and legit crypto news sites is one way to get some eyeballs on your project. It is best to connect with these platforms before you start minting, but never too late to start introducing their audience to your collection. Negotiate to pay them by airdrops, this way they may feel more invested in supporting your project.

Marketing in existing Discord NFT chatrooms or on Twitter NFT hashtags is another way to connect directly with crypto enthusiasts. You know that they already own NFTs so they are more likely to be interested in your project. Most Discord chats have special chatrooms for advertising or promotions and you can explain your project in detail to anyone who asks.

NFTs are an exciting new frontier for artists and collectors. Anyone with inspiration and innovation could make it big. However, there is a lot more to collectible success than just fun images. You need a strong concept for your collection and a metaverse that supports it. Increase its visibility and hype by marketing your collection on a variety of channels. Good luck!

How to Make the Most of Your Teaching Placement

As a teacher-in-training, a teaching placement can be exciting and intimidating at the same time. Having a clear idea of what you hope to achieve during your teaching placement can help you to focus on what is important and perform better. Here are some tips to enable you to make the most of your teaching placement.

Get To Know The School

Be sure to visit the school before your placement. This will help you to answer a lot of pertinent questions from the dress code to where you should park. It is best to get a lay of the land before your first day so you know exactly where your classroom and other important places—such as the school nurse's office and the staffroom—are. You never know if you will need to visit them in a hurry.

Visiting the school beforehand will allow you to meet your new colleagues, especially your class teacher and your mentor teacher. These could be one person or two separate people. Talk to them to understand their expectations and the requirements of your class and school. If they are willing, you may want to exchange personal contact details so you can ask any last-minute questions.

Although it is ideal to visit the school early, it may not be practical for all training teachers. If you are unable to visit in person, be sure to communicate with your future mentor teacher and school by email to clear up any questions before the first day. You will appear more passionate and conscientious to your school and mentor and also feel more confident and comfortable during your placement.

Build A Relationship With The Students

Part of the preparation for your placement is to ask for the class timetable and teaching topics of your class. Ask your class teacher about the children in your class. Things that you might want to inquire about include their interests, personalities, attainment levels, and individual learning styles. This shows the class teacher that you are interested in the students and invested in their needs and study outcomes.

During your placement, try to build a relationship with your students. Understanding your students is essential to communicating with them. Effective communication ensures that you will be able to connect with them and teach them successfully. Pay attention to your students as individuals and talk about their interests.

Learning how to walk the fine line between love and respect is a big lesson for trainee teachers. It is easier for you to be the ‘good guy’ but there may be times when you have to be tough with the students. Ask the class teacher about student and classroom management policies in the school and keep them in mind. When in doubt, ask your mentor teacher for suggestions.

Remember You Are There To Learn

It can be tempting to rush into your teaching placement with ideas to reinvent the wheel. Curb your enthusiasm and remember that you are a guest in another person’s domain. Therefore, you should try to remain respectful of their process and take your cues from them. Start by observing how they teach and interact with the students.

At the beginning of your practice, try to keep to the teaching strategies already in use in the classroom. A sudden change in teaching techniques and interaction approaches can be disruptive, particularly for younger students. As you build a rapport with the students, you can incorporate some of your ideas and teaching methods.

Class teachers will appreciate it if you are proactive and helpful. Having a trainee teacher in their class can add to the workload of a teacher so offer your support as a teaching assistant when you can. This will also help you to gain insight into how they plan and get ready for classes. Be prepared to receive feedback, positive or negative, and try not to take it personally.

Cherish The Highlights

The long hours of teaching in a classroom and the hard work of preparation can make the teaching placement experience less dreamy than you imagined. However, there is much reward to be found as well. The relationships that you build with your students and the sense of achievement you get when they succeed are irreplaceable.

Commemorate this special connection and experience with a yearbook. Online high school yearbook companies can help you to create stunning yearbooks that feature the best moments of your teaching placement. Some of them offer bulk discounts so you can give a copy to all the students and teaching staff that made your experience unforgettable.

Your mentor teachers are imparting a lifetime of their experience and knowledge to you. Be sure to say ‘thank you’ for their time and effort. Aside from creating a customized yearbook album, you can consider buying morning tea or bringing some homemade treats for everyone in the staffroom to show your appreciation.

A teaching placement is a priceless classroom experience for aspiring teachers. Through diligent preparation and a learning mindset, you can enjoy the opportunity and better your skills as an educator. Cherish the highlights and you will always find reward in a teaching career.

Marketing for Crypto and NFT Startups [2022 Update]

As a nascent ecosystem in its Precambrian era, the blockchain startup community is challenged by many impediments. The isolated silos created due to a lack of a unified network with singular standards, the relatively high aggregate cost of peer-to-peer transactions, the absence of regulatory bodies and governance, the transformational and disruptive effects of integrating decentralized networks into various sectors, and the security and privacy concerns over the accessibility of data on publicly-shared ledgers are some of the complex issues that are met with legitimate concerns.

Additionally, the most popular blockchain use cases like cryptocurrencies—and NFTs which rely on crypto for trading—have seriously-limited scalability compared to other conventional online payment and money transfer systems like PayPal. The high volatility of crypto as an asset doesn’t exactly help the situation at all. It may provide opportunities for those who are after short-term gains via trading, but it hurts crypto as a medium of exchange.

However, the biggest obstacle that precedes them all in terms of importance is a lack of awareness and understanding of the technology among the general consumer population. Marketing for crypto and NFT startups shares many areas with the traditional startup marketing paradigms as all businesses rely on some type of marketing. But there is nuance in how it should differ in approach. Keep reading to understand what we mean as we lay out different effective strategies.

Top-of-the-Funnel Content Marketing

The blockchain industry is in its early stages of development and is still considered niche. But the development train is rushing forward at full speed, creating an ever-widening chasm in its wake between what is understood—or even known—by the mass consumer market and the most advanced fringes of the technology itself.

Outside the crypto and NFT circles that follow the technology’s development trajectory with a laser-like focus, there is a void of knowledge that greatly hampers the efforts of the blockchain startups at making their products and services more visible in the market.

So, the first and foremost problem is the market size that needs to be expanded which admittedly requires a more collective effort on part of the whole ecosystem. But as a single startup, there is an opportunity to have an impact in increasing the market size for the whole blockchain landscape while simultaneously increasing your market share and establishing your brand in the scene.

To do that, one needs to fill the knowledge void which is most effectively done via content—i.e., a marketing tool native to the Internet for a technology that is native to the Internet.

However, educating consumers about your product or service is not enough. You need to ease the average (and mostly unaware) consumer into the market by casting your content marketing net as wide as possible. And since you are targeting prospects in the awareness stage, there needs to be a lot of “unteaching” involved as buzzword-induced misconceptions are a big part of the problem.

Targeting Intent

If there is one thing that startups are short of, it is time. And as effective as ToFu content is, it is a long-term plan that needs to be mixed with other short to mid-term strategies. Crypto and NFT startups should always have their eyes on the other end of the marketing funnel where customers are in or close to consideration and purchase phases. These are the people who are already in crypto circles, familiar with the technology, and need the least amount of convincing.

Startups can narrow down their targets even further to a group of potential customers who have at least tried their hand in crypto investments or even those who are crypto natives. Since these groups are already sold on the technology, they are much closer to conversion, and targeting them can yield the most return in the shortest period possible. From retargeting ads to search engine optimization, intent-based targeting includes every conventional digital marketing channel that operates based on the customers’ online actions—although some companies offer specialized packages and services for blockchain and NFT startups.

Incentivizing Early Adopters

As the blockchain industry keeps stepping towards maturity and gets embraced by and integrated into more sectors, we witness more and more crypto-native businesses being born. These businesses have one particular advantage compared to traditional e-commerce businesses. The Internet now has a native currency and they have access to it. The ways in which startups can incorporate it into their business models are virtually endless.

One of the hardest phases of getting a new business going is getting the early adopters on board and subsequently crossing the chasm into the mainstream market, not least because you are fighting an uphill battle to drive change. Systems and consumers’ behavior don’t change; unless directional force is applied. By involving early adopters in the upside, startups can devise such a force.

The more traditional startups are very limited in terms of how they can acquire early customers. They either have to resort to growth hacking techniques that have abysmally low expected returns or piggyback on an existing network effect.

Crypto and NFT startups on the other hand have the ability to offer tokens to early adopters and thus incentivizing those who believe in the startup’s vision. By benefitting from the potential success of the company, these customers become much more invigorated early evangelists and help accelerate its network effect.

How to Write a Winning Personal Statement for Graduate School Entry

While a personal statement is only part of the graduate school applications process, having a statement that impresses and engages the applications committee will help you to stand out from the rest of the candidates. Therefore, it is vital to craft a winning personal statement if you want to secure your place in the graduate program of your dreams.

What is a Personal Statement?

Graduate schools often ask for personal statements from student candidates. A personal statement is a narrative essay that explains who you are as a person and your reasons for applying for a particular course. This helps the admissions committee understand you better and gauge if you are a good fit for their program.

While a statement of purpose or letter of intent talks more about your academic or professional credentials, a personal statement is more about you. It is an opportunity to talk about your personality, experiences, interests, passions, hopes and dreams, and life goals. In short, it is a way for you to tell the committee what makes you a worthwhile candidate.

1. Read the Instructions

Some graduate schools are open to applicants writing in any style but other schools have specific requirements on the content, formatting guidelines, and word length of the personal essay. Schools may also have particular submission methods. You must read and understand the instructions and prompts and ensure that you adhere to them.

2. Be Specific

State clearly why you have chosen that particular graduate school and program. Research the institution, the program, and its teaching faculty. Provide reasons on why the program attracts you and what you can offer in return. Avoid using general terms or the prestigious reputation of a school to justify your interest in a program.

Remember that a personal statement is about distinguishing yourself from the other candidates. Hence, it is helpful to share specific examples to support your statements. For example, if you are applying for environmental studies, write about how you volunteer with conservation organizations and talk about the efforts you make in your daily life.

3. Be Relevant

While anecdotes are fun to read and write, try to keep it relevant. You may be tempted to add unnecessary content to fill in the word count but it will only convince the admissions committee that you lack focus. Be sure to only include experiences that are related to your intended program and career path. For instance, a shoreline survey is much more relevant to environmental studies than your beach holiday in Ibiza.

4. Watch Your Tone

Tone can be a tricky thing to get right. Ideally, you should sound authentic yet confident and professional. It is helpful to remember that applying to graduate school is a formal situation. You may be tempted to make jokes or use colloquial speech, but try to remain respectful and maintain the appropriate boundaries. At the same time, avoid using flowery vocabulary or exaggerated narratives.

5. Strong and Compelling

As with any essay, you want to capture the attention of the reader immediately. The first paragraph of your personal statement should set the scene for strong storytelling and highlight the important points. As mentioned, avoid clichés and gimmicky language. Be polished and straight to the point. The final paragraph of your essay should be conclusive. Reiterate your main points and focus on the future.

6. Address Your Shortcomings

Your personal statement is an opportunity to plead your case for entry when your grades are less than ideal. This is your chance to explain and provide context for the weak points in your academic record. Clarify the barriers or extenuating circumstances that may have affected your grades and educational history and write about how you have learned and improved from the challenges.

7. Proofread and Edit

Your personal statement is also a display of your writing prowess. You may have excellent experience but poor writing skills may get your application denied. Give yourself ample time to draft, proofread, and edit your statement several times over. Check it carefully for tone, spelling, grammar, punctuation, readability, and length.

Where possible, ask a friend, family member, or mentor (or all of the above) to proofread your statement. They can provide suggestions on relevance, structure, and content, and catch any errors that were missed by the others. When in doubt, a shorter essay is better than a longer one, as long as you adhere to word count requirements.

8. Call the Professionals

The personal statement is a rare chance to dazzle the admissions committee. To make the most of this priceless opportunity, consider engaging a professional writer to perfect your statement. Expert personal statement service providers can craft your personal statements from scratch or edit your written statement for you.

An exceptional personal statement could be the difference between your graduate school admission or rejection. A personal statement proves to the school why they should accept you. By writing to the best of your ability or hiring a professional to help, you can create a brilliant statement and secure entry to the school that you want.

How to Increase Beneficial Insects in Your Garden Naturally

After you have spent months nurturing your prized garden, the worst thing that could happen is to watch it get devoured by pests. Pests can multiply quickly and destroy a healthy garden overnight. Fortunately, you can restore some balance to your garden ecosystem by attracting predatory insects that feed on these pests and keep their numbers under control.

Use Pesticides Wisely

Chemical pesticides are highly effective and can provide swift results. However, many pesticides and insecticides are broad-spectrum and will kill all insects in their wake. This means that the good insects will be wiped out along with the bad ones and that it can take longer for you to create the environmental balance that you want in your garden.

Try to use natural alternatives for pest control such as neem oil or pepper spray. These will not leave toxic residue on your plants and soil and will not affect the life cycles of your beneficial insects. If the infestation is too serious and you have to reach for chemical pesticides, be sure to choose a product that degrades quickly and targets a specific pest.

Plant for Diversity

Monoculture gardens are like unlimited buffets for garden pests. Simple cropping systems create a concentration of food that invites pests to gorge themselves as well as allows them to reproduce at alarming rates. Designing your garden to feature a diverse mix of plants will make the habitat more resilient and friendly to beneficial insects.

Having a large diversity of plants will also ensure that your common garden pests only feed on one or two types of plants at once instead of decimating your entire garden. Different beneficial insects have different habitat requirements, so you should have plants of varying heights and characteristics.

Low plants can give shelter to ground beetles while big, leafy plants are perfect ambush locations for praying mantises. In addition, certain predator insects such as parasitic wasps require food alternatives in the form of nectar from wildflowers to supplement their hunting.

Plant More Flowers

It may seem strange, but planting flowers—particularly wildflowers—is one of the best ways to attract beneficial insects. Indigenous flowering weeds are adapted to your local climate and are already well-known to the beneficial insects. Indigenous plants are more likely to be able to fend off pest species than cultivated or imported plants as well.

Flowers that provide nectar and pollen such as honeysuckle and lavender will not only look beautiful but bring wasps and hoverflies. Parasitic wasps lay their eggs in the bodies of pest insects and control their population. You can also include flowering plants like nasturtiums that ‘trap’ pests so that predator insects can feed on them easily.

If your garden beds are already full, consider lining your garden beds and margins with flowering plants. These margins can act as corridors for the beneficial insects. They function as important shelter sites while still allowing them access to the plants around the garden. Just ensure that these plants do not go to seed and encroach on your planting beds.

Provide Water

Just like humans, insects need to stay hydrated to survive. You want your beneficial insects to stay in your garden instead of flying off in search of water. Although beneficial insects can theoretically drink from the puddles that form when you water your garden, it is ideal to create a permanent water source for them, especially if you live in a hot and dry climate.

The simplest way to make a watering hole is to place some rocks in a shallow saucer and fill it with water. Make sure that the rocks are peeking out of the water’s surface as they will act as perches for the insects. If you have the space, digging a pond in your garden will invite a host of other beneficial aerial predators such as dragonflies and damselflies.

Provide Shelter

Insects need to have safe and secure homes too. Keeping a compost heap and mulch on your garden beds will provide a sanctuary for earthbound predators such as ground beetles during the hottest hours of the day. These moist places also allow them to lay eggs and prevent their larvae from being eaten by birds or other insect predators.

You can build simple natural shelters for beneficial insects like ladybirds by stacking sticks, stones, or wood. These hiding spots help them to stay out of the wind and bad weather and you can place them right next to your problem plants. If you like, you can even build miniature bug hotels that can double up as cute garden features.

Of all the known insects in the world, only a tiny proportion are harmful garden pests. Because we love our natural environment, we should take care of the other insects that provide essential services for the ecosystem. By encouraging the organic growth of beneficial insects, we can keep pests in check, protect our garden, and do our part for Mother Nature.

What Are Marketing Objectives and How Do They Fit Into Your Digital Marketing Strategy?

Any healthy business that has its sights set on long-term growth employs a high-level digital marketing strategy that leads the general direction toward its long-term goals. These goals typically increased revenue, sales, market share, profits, company value, customer base, and other similar metrics.

To reach these broad long-term goals, businesses must set actionable, precise, and more bite-sized objectives that serve as milestones by which progress toward goals is measured. To this end, we need to talk about the engine of business growth: marketing.

In this article, we are going to specifically talk about marketing objectives; explain what they are, and discuss how they fit in a business’s overall marketing strategy.

What Is a Marketing Objective?

To lay it out as simply as possible, the relationship between marketing objectives and marketing goals is akin to the relationship between business objectives and business goals that we explained above.

When business objectives are set, marketing is leveraged as an instrument to help close the gap between where the company currently is and where it should be in a given time frame. As to how marketers should approach this, marketing goals are set to provide general guidelines in terms of where the resources should be poured into and what channels should be focused on. These marketing goals are in turn broken down into a set of marketing objectives which are measurable, tangible, and specific marketing actions that are assigned to specified marketing teams and members.

Although we spent some time discussing these four concepts—i.e., business goals, business objectives, marketing goals, and marketing objectives—terminology does not matter so long as the distinctions are made and the language defining these concepts is unified within an individual organization and the agencies they work with. The reasoning behind this is to give clarity to everyone involved by setting agreed-upon standards. It is much easier to track, review, and improve performance towards quantitative targets when all participants are in the same boat.

What Are Some Examples of Marketing Objectives?

Here is an example to further clarify how these pieces come together:

Imagine an American manufacturing company whose primary business goal is expanding its operations to the Asian markets. A business objective for this company would be to open two office locations in China within the next two years. With this business objective in mind, the company sets a marketing goal to increase brand awareness and product demand in the Chinese market. And to achieve this marketing goal, the marketing team set three marketing objectives: (1) create official accounts on Chinese social media networks and gain 100,000 followers across all of them within the first year, (2) build a Chinese website with a local domain name extension on a Chinese server in the first 3 months, and (3) conduct an SEO campaign to optimize for Chinese search engines and reach 30,000 annual visitors by the end of the first year.

How to Set Marketing Objectives?

As you can see in the example provided above, every marketing objective should follow the overarching business strategy which is in turn rooted in a company’s goals and needs. Marketing objectives are highly detailed and low-level tasks (in the grand scheme of things) assigned to specific accountable teams and individuals.

Just like their business counterparts, marketing objectives should be bound by SMART criteria. These criteria eliminate any sort of ambiguity from the equation, making your bottom-up marketing efforts more efficient and effective.

Specific

Marketing objectives must be specific and free from any guesswork in a way that there won’t be any major unanswered questions about it. The set objective should specify what you are trying to accomplish, why you want to accomplish it, who should be involved, and what resources should be dedicated to it.

Measurable

An objective that does not have quantitative metrics for progress measurement is not set properly. The KPIs used to track performance are dependent on the objective defined. In the example above, one of the KPIs used for tracking brand awareness is the total number of followers across all social media accounts.

Attainable

It is imperative to ensure from the very beginning that the objective is achievable not only with regard to time and resource constraints but also the nature of the task. Imagine a scenario where the company in the example above spends millions of dollars and makes all the preparations only to find out that the product cannot be sold in the target country due to legal restrictions.

Relevant

This one is pretty self-explanatory. The objective should be relevant to the business and serve its goals. For example, a relevant marketing objective for a high-tech company in Boston could be to dominate the Boston SEO space.

Time-bound

There must always be a deadline that everyone strives to meet. This is the only way that we can ensure steady and consistent progress toward the objective. Time-bound objectives have higher success rates simply because they create a sense of urgency and help set priorities.

What Are Dofollow Links and Why Do They Matter?

Digital marketing has snowballed into a massive, multi-faceted industry, driven by niche specialists and big data companies. When you, the average Gen Z business owner or academic thinks about digital marketing, you might think about having a website and maybe getting into an online magazine. In this era of fast and faster tech, it’s no longer what it used to be even five years ago, so your impression is outdated. There are many aspects to digital marketing and search engine optimization (SEO). One of these is the concept of permanent DoFollow links and NoFollow links. This is an explanation of both, and when each kind of link should be used.

DoFollow Links

These are links in web pages that link up to other pages on other websites. The links are used by search engine crawlers when conducting a search. DoFollow links are a good vote of quality of a site. The more links leading to a particular site or page, the better the ranking of that site. The sites linking to a webpage should be reliable and contain good quality, verifiable content in order to upvote the site they are pointing to. Sites with unreliable content will have the opposite effect. Permanent links are always more reliable, and longer-lasting in their effect on ranking. Of course, these types of links are only one factor which affects the ranking of a website in a search.

In Practice

When you include a number of DoFollow links in your post, you are giving credit or votes to those sites to which you are linking. If you use unreliable links or links to sites which have been flagged by the algorithms as unreliable or poor quality, this affects the other rankings of the other links, as well. This is why it is very important to firstly ensure that you always link to reliable, good quality sources, and secondly, try to build relationships with your own clients, and encourage them to link to your website in their own posts.

Sometimes, you can employ an agency to create posts which include DoFollow links to your website, which will improve the ranking of your website. These agencies are niche specialists in SEO and digital marketing, and most will produce good quality content with reliable, quality links to your site.

NoFollow Links

NoFollow links are the opposite of DoFollow links. They tell the search engine crawlers to ignore the link, and not to use it in their algorithms to determine ranking. Digital marketing specialists use this type of link when it can potentially do damage to the website’s ranking in a search engine.

If you have a website and you sell advertising space or have a public space for users to submit links, then these links, which you cannot verify or vouch for, should be NoFollow links. This is a modified DoFollow link that includes instructions in the code. This is what the piece of code looks like in HTML: rel=”nofollow”

In Practice

Your website content on each page, as well as blog posts and any other content you post, should contain links to reliable sources. These types of sources are usually news sites (although there is a list of unreliable news sites like the Daily Mail, a UK-based site). Other types of sources are recognized academic, legal and medical sites, and non-governmental or non-profit organizations. Sometimes, government websites can also be considered reliable, if the link points to official government policy or legislation. Recognized advocacy groups can also be considered reliable sources.

These are also the types of sites you want pointing to your content. So, it is important to nurture relationships and agreements with legitimate businesses and other entities of the kind listed above. If you have content which can add value to their services or agenda, then send their webmaster a friendly and helpful email, citing the content on your site, why it will add value to their site, and a request for them to link to it. Remember that webmasters receive these requests every day, so do not approach them with an attitude of entitlement. Rather just highlight the way you can add value, instead. If your request is valid, then there should be no reason why the webmaster will not help you out.

Likewise, you must ensure that the links you have on your site which may be dubious are tagged as NoFollow links. There is no reason why you should need to take them down, but they will affect your search engine rankings, in the long and short term, which will indirectly affect your business. So it is worth being aware of this factor, and knowing what to do about it is also a useful and important tool, whether you employ a digital marketing agency, or just stay old school and hire a website developer to keep you online and current.