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Digital Camera 101

Planning to get your hands on a digital camera but not sure if you can make the transition from your old camera that uses film to one that utilizes a memory card? If you are afraid of things that are complicated, then don’t worry. Although digital cameras may be advanced, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are not user friendly. Here are some tips that can help you in taking pictures with a digital camera.

Enhance the color tones of your picture

There are times when you think that your shots have a cold or clammy aura. This is because digital cameras have default settings for white balance at auto. This is ok for most shots but if you want to increase the reds and the yellows of your shots, adjust the auto setting to cloudy. This makes your pictures appear warmer as well as richer.

Macro Mode

Activating the close up mode on your camera, usually called the macro mode, will make your shots have sharper details. This is very easy to use in digital cameras unlike in the conventional ones. To use your camera’s macro mode, look for the icon that depicts the macro mode or “close up”. Normally, the icon is that of a flower. Go as close to the object as your camera will allow. It is important to remember that you have a rather shallow field depth, thus it is important to focus on the subject’s part that you consider to be the most significant.

Invest on file storage

Digital CamerasHaving a memory card that is capable of storing a large amount of picture files is important. This gives you the freedom to take more pictures. The higher the resolution of your camera which normally ranges from 2 mega pixels to up to 6 or more mega pixels, the higher the memory size of you card should be. With an ample sized memory card, you don’t have to pass the opportunity to take a shot. No more worries of having a full memory card whenever that perfect shot appears.

Always use high resolution

Your digital camera has many resolution settings. Always take pictures using the highest possible setting. Although higher resolution means more memory used up, it isn’t a problem if you have already acquired a good sized memory card. You will never know when the best shot you’ll ever take in your whole life may pop up, why take it in poor resolution?

These tips will help you with your new digital camera. Never hesitate to take as many pictures as you can! Remember you have enough memory, why worry?

Start your digital camera search now!

Effortless Collaboration with Shared Folders

Effortless Collaboration with Shared Folders

Managing a project that requires a lot of back and forth of files is a harrowing experience. Email works for the first round or maybe two, but after that, it quickly gets out of control. You’re working on version “c” while your client is already on version “e” and soon important revisions and notes are lost.

A better way to work from a single document is to simply add files to a shared folder. This way, as you or your client make changes, they’ll appear in real time, leaving no doubt about which version anyone has, or what changes were made when.

There are several players in the folder sharing market, making it easy to find one that will work not only for you but for your clients as well.

Dropbox

A favorite in the shared folder race is Dropbox. The simple setup and generous amount of free storage space (2GB) make this a top choice for many people even if sharing files isn’t on their minds. If you work from multiple computers, need access to files on your mobile phone or iPad, or just want the extra security of knowing your important documents are backed up in “the cloud” then Dropbox is a good option.

The free version includes 2GB of storage space, which is plenty to get you started, but you can earn more space by Tweeting about Dropbox, referring friends, and connecting other applications. You can also upgrade to 100GB for around $10 per month.

Google Drive

Not surprisingly, Google has its own document sharing system. Formerly Google Docs, Drive now operates similar to Dropbox in that you can view your files in a folder on your computer. However, opening a file requires a web browser and the use of Google Apps. If you want to edit a spreadsheet in Excel, you’ll have to download it first.

Google Drive offers more free space than Dropbox does, starting out with 5GB. Upgrades are less expensive as well, with 100GB available for just $5 per month, compared to Dropbox’s $10 fee.

One noteworthy difference between Dropbox and Google Drive is how files are stored. With Dropbox, files exist both on your computer and in the cloud, meaning you can work on them without an internet connection. As soon as Dropbox detects a change to a document, it synchs the new version with that on the Dropbox server. If you and your client are both working on a file at the same time, this can result in a “conflicted copy” showing up in your Dropbox.

Google Drive is different in that only one copy of each file exists. When you’re working on a file, you’re actually editing that file on Google’s server. You can see this in action if you have a file open that your client is working on – you’ll be able to watch as she makes changes.

There are a variety of other file sharing services available as well, and chances are your clients will have their own preferences, so you’ll likely use several in your business. But to start out, Dropbox and Google Drive offer a simple solution for collaborating with others, or just sharing files between computers.

The All-In-One Communication Tool Every VA Needs

The All-In-One Communication Tool Every VA Needs

The phone rings and you dash to grab it before your toddler – newly able to answer with a barely understandable “Hewo?” – can get to it. After all, it might be a client, or worse, a potential client.

Such is the peril of publishing your phone number on your website. Yet many virtual assistants find that offering a phone number increases the inquiries, and consequently, new clients, they receive. Having a separate office line would be a good solution to the toddler-as-receptionist problem, were it not for the cost.

The solution? Skype.

You’re likely used to using Skype day in and day out to chat with friends, IM with colleagues, and perhaps talk to online clients as well. But did you know you can use Skype as a phone replacement?

Skype offers two types of services: Incoming and outgoing phone calls, and you can purchase them together or separately, for maximum flexibility.

Make Phone Calls

If what you really need to do is call out to clients or others, and don’t want to eat up your cell minutes or reveal that number to the public, then Skype credit is just the answer. Purchase a monthly or annual subscription or a pay-as-you-go plan, depending on your needs.

With Skype credit you’ll have the ability to place a call to either cell phones or landlines right from your Skype app. And if you need to call internationally, options are available for a variety of countries starting as low as one cent per minute.

Accept Incoming Calls

Want to publish your number on your website and answer it at your desk? The answer is to get a Skype number. For as little as $30 per year, you get your own phone number that rings right to your Skype desktop or mobile app. You don’t have to reveal your home or cell number, and you don’t have to worry about anyone else answering your calls, taking messages, or tying up the line.

When you sign up, you’ll have your choice of available numbers, so you can choose one that’s easy to remember and that shares your area code.

Combine with Google Voice for ultimate flexibility.

Having an office number is nice, but what if you’re not in the office? A Google Voice number (available only in the United States) will allow you to control your incoming calls. You can forward your calls to your Skype number when you’re at your desk, or to your cell phone when you’re out of town. A Google Voice number also gives you the ability to block certain numbers, send others right to voice mail, or forward some to your home phone and everything else to your Skype number. You can even set a call schedule, so you only receive incoming calls during business hours.

Google Voice is free, and like Skype, you can choose your own number from the available pool. You can also use Google Voice as a stand-alone solution, and make outgoing calls right from your Gmail account.

Having a phone number on your website helps visitors feel more secure, but publishing your home phone isn’t always a good solution. With Skype and Google Voice, though, you can have the convenience of an office phone without the high costs.

Plan Your Time More Effectively With Shared Calendars

Plan Your Time More Effectively With Shared Calendars

We’ve all been there—stretched too thin, with more work than we have time, and suddenly an important deadline is missed. And if you’re a busy VA with lots of clients, that might happen more than you like, unless you have a trusted system for tracking due dates.

Google has the answer for you: Shared calendars.

All Your Important Appointments in One Place

Few things are a bigger time-suck than having to check and reconcile multiple calendars and apps just to see what’s on task for the day. When clients use different project management systems to record their deadlines, it can be challenging to remember to log in and check on your due dates.

But Google calendars synchs with any app that creates an iCal feed, so you can easily “subscribe” to your task lists and have them appear all in one place.

Not only that, but by sharing a calendar with clients, you can see what projects and appointments they have in the works as well, so you can plan accordingly. If your client is presenting at a telesummit, for example, you’ll know ahead of time and can keep that in mind when scheduling her social media or creating blog posts.

Time Blocking Ensures Critical Work is Completed On Time

Aside from knowing what’s on everyone’s schedule for the coming days and weeks, a calendar is a fantastic tool to help ensure all your important work is done. By setting aside time in your day to actually complete projects using a system known as time blocking, you’ll know exactly when you can get to that next project. No more guesswork or late nights trying to catch up when you overbook yourself.

Time blocking works by actually setting appointments with yourself. If you have a project to complete, and you know it will take you two hours to do, you make an appointment. The key though, is that these appointments are sacred. You cannot use time blocking as a suggestion, you have to treat it as an unbreakable appointment, otherwise it becomes just background noise that you’ll ignore.

Set your “appointments” with a reminder (either a pop-up or an email) and you will never have to ask yourself “What’s next?” You will always know, and you’ll find that you’re much more productive and efficient, too.

Access Anywhere for On-the-Go Productivity

Not in your office? No problem. Google calendars are available at any time from any of your devices, so you’ll always know what’s happening. Unlike printed planners, you won’t have to remember to take it with you, you can’t lose it, and you can check appointments and tasks not only for yourself but your clients as well, no matter where you are.

A calendar is a basic tool that every productive virtual assistant should master. Sharing calendars with your clients will make your job easier (and make you a superstar in their eyes), but you have to make use of it. Getting in the habit of using a calendar can be a challenge. If you’re not accustomed to it, then make it a point to check your calendar first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Set reminders for yourself if necessary, until it becomes a habit. You’ll soon find that you truly cannot live (or work) without your calendar.

Modern Medicine Rollercoaster

Modern Medicine Rollercoaster

When you get sick, you go to the doctor. And the doctor will, of course, prescribe medicines. You will go and buy medicines. You take them, and hopefully, you get well.

This is how the health profession goes on nowadays – a rollercoaster of diagnosis and prescription.

If anyone were to give you herbs for medicine, you would probably say that that person was a quack.

Natural medicine is the use of natural methods, herbal medicines, and traditional practices to heal ailments. Every culture has a form of natural medicine. In ancient cultures, village medicine men served as the doctors of the community, passing on medical knowledge to the apprentices that followed them.

Many categories of the healing methods fall under natural medicine. Among these are traditional medicine, complementary medicine, and alternative medicine.

Usually, natural medicine refers to medical practices that were in place before the advent of modern medicine.

This includes herbal medicine, or phytotherapy, which is prevalent in Chinese, Ayurvedic (or Indian), and Greek medicine.

Upon the advent of modern medicine, many professionals discarded the use of herbs in favor of man-made medicine. The fact that these treatments are based on the healing properties of some herbs was forgotten.

For example, opium, digitalis, quinine, and aspirin all have their roots in traditional medicine.

Natural medicine can be considered as a lost art. This does not mean that it has lost efficacy over time. In some cases, natural therapy is actually better than modern medicine. This leads some doctors to seriously consider and study the possible uses of natural medicine

Before we continue, it is important to stress that not all the natural remedies are legitimate. It would help to only try those remedies which have been thoroughly studied and are relatively risk free.

Take herbal medicine for example. There are many well-documented and studied herbal remedies available. However, only those that deal with minor ailments such as cough, colds, fever, skin rashes, and its ilk are likely to be recommended by health professionals. These remedies are sometimes superior to synthetic medicine. This is because herbal medicines are less likely to cause negative side effects.

Currently there are numerous organizations that study the effects and advocacy of natural medicine – among which is herbal medicine. Some governments and health agencies openly advocate the use of natural methods since they are inexpensive and relatively risk-free.

As their studies compile, more herbs and treatments are added to the list of accepted medicines. However, many herbs and treatments have been proven to be bogus medicine. This represents a challenge for both the user and the agencies because they have to ascertain that the treatments they either use or advocate are legitimate.

There exist today many alternative medical treatments that fall under natural medicine. However, not all of them have been proven to be effective. You could mention homeopathy, aromatherapy, acupuncture, and other alternative medical treatments. It would pay to consult the experts as to the legitimacy of these treatments.

Natural medicine should also be thought of as an accompanying medicine. Right now, the current collective medical thought suggests that natural medicine be used only to supplement accepted modern medical practices. In that case of minor ailments your expert we actually advise you to take natural therapies instead.

The practice of modern medicine revolves around diagnosing an illness and prescribing treatments for such. Natural medicine is helpful because it suggests that treatment be not necessarily given only when sick. Natural medicine strives to make each patient practice good health habits. These habits include good diet, healthy living, and the regular natural treatment.

It is this same line of thought that leads our parents to tell us to eat our vegetables. Yes, a healthy lifestyle and will do no harm to our well-being. And this is the foundation of natural medicine – may it be massage, herbal medicine, aromatherapy or others.

It is funny but true that science, in its quest for excellence, is studying the knowledge of sages past. This, surprisingly, leads us back to the remedies nature offers. The possibilities of finding remedies to everyday illnesses in natural medicine are encouraging. So staying tuned to studying these remedies is worthwhile until we can verify that these therapies are truly helpful to our health and our society.

As an herbalist I’m more aware than most of the skepticism many people have for natural remedies, but I’m here to tell you that many of them are extremely beneficial.

Food Photography Tips for Newbies

Taking great pictures of different food dishes isn’t as easy as it appears to be in cook books and food advertisements. Great care should be exercised when taking these shots. Things that need to be considered include the dish’s angle, composition, lighting, as well as problems that may arise. Here are some guides to help you improve the quality of your pictures.

Lighting

Consider the lighting in the kitchen or venue where you will be shooting the dishes. It is a good idea to know this in advance so that you no longer have to make adjustments right there in the venue. Dark venues may be corrected by using a row of fluorescent lighting which possesses diffusers. The drawback of this method is that the image will have a subdued shade of green. Depending on the camera that you have, it may have a setting that neutralizes the effects of fluorescent lighting or a magenta filter may be used to compensate.

Stability of tripods

Since you are taking pictures of food, every shot is done at close range. Unlike shots taken at a distance, shots done in close up are sensitive to movement. Any sudden moves and the picture will be ruined. Focusing on the subject also becomes easier when using a tripod or even just a stack of magazines.

Food presentation

To get that professional look, cut the dish in geometric shapes. Proper arrangement of the food is also important so that you will be able to showcase the dish’s ingredients as well as its strengths. Garnishing the food that you will shoot will enhance its natural colors, making it more appealing to the eyes.

Focusing on the subject

A rather dull photo will become vibrant and dynamic if care is taken when focusing and adjusting the field depth of the camera. If your camera doesn’t have manual focus, depressing the camera’s shutter button halfway to lock the focus at that specific depth. Recomposing the focus can be done by changing the position of the camera while the shutter button is still depressed halfway. Automatic cameras usually lack aperture or depth of field. Some purposely adjust the aperture such that the background becomes a blur to heighten the subject’s features while others prefer that a wider depth of field is used to capture the whole scene.

These are some of the things that you should know regarding food photography. Constant practice will help you produce better shots. Follow your instincts. Sometimes this allows you to take better shots.

Lights! Camera! Action!

Have you ever thought you had what it takes to direct your own movies?  Maybe, you just love taking video of your kids.  And what’s the thrill of making a movie if you can’t share it with the world…or at least your immediate family and friends?

Grouper Networks has just taken photo-sharing to the next level.  With the creation of their free software called Grouper, people are now able to share their videos over the Web.  This unique service continues to grow in popularity. Since the launch of Grouper 2.0 in late 2005, over 50,000 videos and photos have been shared over the Web.

Now, you too can share your video with the world for—here’s the best part – FREE!  Grouper allows you to perform unlimited fast and easy batch uploading.  You can send links to your friends who can watch and download your videos.  Want to chat about your video with family and friends?   Well, you are in luck.  Grouper allows you and up to twenty-nine of your nearest and dearest family members and friends to gab in real time.

Have a MySpace, Friendster, or blog page?  You can even post your video and have it play right to your page, or download it to your iPod or PlaystationPortable.  You don’t have to worry about any size restrictions on your video uploads either because Grouper doesn’t have any.  Streaming previews of your movies are limited to three minutes, however if members have the bandwidth, they can download your full movies.

To ensure that its customers aren’t using the free software to share copyrighted materials or perform other unlawful activities, Grouper’s multimedia application prevents the distribution of protected music or video files and limits the number of people with whom users can share their content.

To use Grouper, you must download a small application from their website. Once you have installed the software, you can import video from your camcorder, create short movies (“Groovies”), and then choose to either share them with the public or keep them private.  Video sharing is easy and fun! Are you ready for your close-up?  Lights!  Camera!  Action!

 

Essential Oil Tips and Myths

Essential oils as a vital part of overall good health have gotten tremendous press lately. Everywhere one reads the benefits of one or another essential oil are being touted. I can’t count how many remedies and DIY solutions I’ve seen on Pintrest. I recently saw an article that debunks many questions and is in its entirety a very good primer on essential oils.

9 Dangerous Essential Oil Myths You Really Need To Stop Believing

Essential Oils and Myths

The dawn of the Internet age opened up a whole new and ever-expanding informational highway that has liberated many and also, unfortunately, misinformed many.

Anyone who wants to have a blog, website etc.. can have one and they can post just about anything they want to these sites. No matter how well intended these bloggers are, many are putting information out there that is incorrect, and sometimes even dangerous.

Although essential oils are natural, don’t ever underestimate their power, to heal and even their power to harm. Essential oils should never be approached without caution and much understanding as to their safe application.

Here are a few essential oil facts that may help you to better see the magnitude of their strength:

  • It takes 150 pounds of lavender flowers to make just one pound of lavender essential oil.
  • It takes 256 pounds of peppermint leaves to make one pound of peppermint essential oil.
  • It takes thousands of pounds of roses to make 1 pound of rose essential oil.

Just one drop of peppermint oil is equal to 28 cups of peppermint tea. The bottom line, essential oils are powerful and need to be handled with respect!

The combination of growing interest in alternative therapies, including essential oils, combined with the Internet, has made it possible for some very misleading information to be published.

This article will explore just some of the many myths around essential oils that people believe but are not true. Hopefully, this will shed some light on what is safe and not safe when it comes to the therapeutic use of oils.

Myth #1: Therapeutic grade oils don’t exist

The truth is that there are numerous therapeutic grade standards. It is just hard to know which one to trust. These standards are simply internal standards created by the companies who develop the oils. It is possible that these standards do not include a quality control by a third party lab.

With that said, it is critical to understand how the company defines “therapeutic grade”  It could mean that the oil is pure or it could also mean something else beyond that purity. Essential oil can also be very pure but also be low quality. The reason for this is that making a judgement call on a quality oil takes years and years for experience – not just a lab and some equipment.

While there is not one independent standard for therapeutic grade and not one set body that controls this standard, it is also not true to say that therapeutic grade oils do not exist. However, where you must use extreme caution is in believing marketing jargon used by oil companies.

Dr. Robert Pappas, a leading expert in essential oils and an essential oil chemist explains:

“There seems to be a misconception that there is some kind of independent body that certifies oils as therapeutic grade, but to this date there is no such body, at least not one that is widely recognized. Does this mean there is no such thing as therapeutic grade? No, but just realize that any therapeutic grade standard out there right now is an internally derived company standard. Now this standard may be an overall great standard and perfectly acceptable to me or any other analyst or aromatherapist out there but it just needs to be noted that it’s not an independent standard.”

Myth #2: If you use a pure essential oil on your skin and it causes a rash or burn then it’s just a detox reaction

The plain and simple truth of this one is that if you put any substance on your skin and it causes a rash or burns, it should not have been put on your skin in the first place. This is an adverse reaction, not a harmless detox reaction. Clearly a burn, rush, or any other type of abnormal issues with your skin indicate an irritation.  In addition, a detox reaction occurs when something is taken away, not added. So, if you find yourself with a rash or a burn after using an essential oil on your skin it is your body saying to stop! This is one of the reasons why a patch test is recommended on a small area before using any substance on a larger area. In addition, it always recommended that you dilute an essential oil in a carrier oil before using on your skin (see below for more information on how to do a patch test).

Myth #3: Pure essential oils without additives should last forever

This is just another very ridiculous claim. Oils may seem to last for a long time but in reality, they will eventually go bad because of oxidation. Citrus oils that contain a high level of limonene – a substance that oxidizes pretty fast, destroying the fresh citrus odor. In addition, wax will form in the citrus oil over time. It is best to use the oil within one year if you can. Blue oils also such as German chamomile, blue tansy, and yarrow breakdown over time. To slow the breakdown, be sure to put blue oils in the refrigerator and keep only a small amount of airspace in the container.

Myth #4: You can ingest any essential oil without a problem

 The internal use of many essential oils is not safe unless under medical supervision. A small amount of essential oil is the equivalent to about 10 – 50 cups of herbal tea. There is a certain lack of guidelines and safety precautions when it comes to ingesting essential oils.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that just because an essential oil has the same name as a familiar herb that it is safe to ingest. The reality of this statement is that some of the most dangerous essential oils bear the name of common herbs. Herbs and their essential oil counterparts are not anywhere near the same. While you can liberally apply basil to your pasta, you can not liberally ingest basil essential oil. Be very careful to jump to the conclusion that just because an oil has a familiar name of an herb you love that it is ever safe to ingest it.

Essential oils are clearly as potent as pharmaceutical drugs and since you probably would not go ingesting a whole bunch of pills without some caution, you should most definitely, give the same respect to essential oils. Again, when it come to ingesting oils, be sure that you are working with a certified and reliable practitioner that can supervise your use.

The Alliance of International Aromatherapists gives this statement on the internal use of essential oils:

“AIA does not endorse internal therapeutic use (oral, vaginal or rectal) of essential oils unless recommended by a health care practitioner trained at an appropriate clinical level. An appropriate level of training must include chemistry, anatomy, diagnostics, physiology, formulation guidelines and safety issues regarding each specific internal route (oral, vaginal or rectal).”

Myth #5: All essential oils in their diluted form are safe for children

The truth is that many oils are very dangerous to use on children five and under. Here is an excellent article on understanding how essential oils impact children. Be sure to consult a professional before using essential oils on children.

Myth #6: It is safe to use essential oils on your skin and go out in the sun immediately after

Citrus oils will always make your skin sensitive to the sun because they contain particular constituents that increase the damage caused by UV light. This increased sensitivity can cause blistering, burning and discoloration. Oils. that increase the risk of UV damage include lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit and bergamot.

Myth #7: If you don’t like the way an oil smells it means that your body needs that oil

The human body has been designed to protect us from things that may harm us such as bad smelling food that may be rotten. This built-in protective mechanism (to smell odors) is critical to our survival. The opposite is also true, that we can be conditioned to like things that are not good for us such as the pleasurable and alluring smell of hot donuts or french fries. The food manufacturers have a great knack for manipulating natural flavor enhancers to make “bad” food seem good. When it comes to essential oils, you may not like the aroma initially because it is new to you and you have no previous experience with it. Give yourself time to become acquainted with oils that may seem offensive at first. However, always listen to your body if it is telling you to stay clear of something.

Myth #8: Real essential oils without additives do not freeze because there is no water in there

Like just about every other liquid, essential oils will freeze if the temperature is cold enough – water has nothing to do with keeping this from happening. In fact, many oils will freeze in your household freezer and some even in your refrigerator. Some oils are even solid at room temperature.

Myth #9: It is safe to put essential oils directly in a hot bath

If you want to use essential oil in a bath, be sure to first emulsify it. The best substance to use is sesame oil or milk. If you don’t emulsify the oil it won’t disperse but will float on the top of the water and enter the skin directly. When the oil combines with the heat and water in this way it can cause dermatoxicity.

Tips for Using Essential Oils

  • Never use undiluted essential oils on your skin.  There are some oils that are generally considered safe to use on unbroken skin including lavender, chamomile, and rose, however, it is still best to dilute them. The exception to this is if you are using oils under the strict supervision of trained professional. Dilute oils with a carrier oil such as almond or jojoba. In addition, always do a patch test with the oil on a small area of skin before using it more widespread. To do a patch test mix a little bit of essential oil/carrier oil at twice the amount of concentration that you plan to use. If you are going to use a 3% mixture of oil, mix it at 6% using six drops in a teaspoon of carrier oil, or 3 drops to ½ teaspoon of carrier oil. Put a couple of drops of the concentrated oil mixture on a bandaid and place on the inside of your arm. Check for irritation after 48 hours. If the skin under the bandage becomes irritated, red, itchy, swollen or develops bumps or blisters, this is a reaction you don’t want.
  • Never store essential oils in plastic containers. Many oils, in their undiluted form, can eat right through plastic. Even when you do dilute them for personal care use or even household cleaning, it is best to store them in a glass bottle. Be very careful with undiluted oils around wood finishes as well.
  • Pregnant and nursing women need to be very careful when using essential oils. These are just a few of the oils that are considered unsafe for pregnant and nursing women, cedarwood, cinnamon, sage, clove, ginger, jasmine, lemon, nutmeg, rosemary, ginger and chamomile. Check with a qualified practitioner before using any oils.

Remember: Essential oils are potent and although highly therapeutic, can be dangerous if used incorrectly.

From Natural Living Ideas,  http://www.naturallivingideas.com/essential-oil-myths/  Take a moment today and sign up for their newsletter! A recommended read!

Working with Chronic Illness: A Virtual Assistant’s Success Story

I am very proud to be featured as a guest blogger at Mind over Meniere’s (mindovermenieres.com) as a virtual assistant working with chronic illnesses. Read below for more:

Working with Chronic Illness

Recently, I was lucky enough to connect with an amazing woman named Kathy McCabe.

Kathy is an internationally recognized virtual assistant who also happens to suffer from Meniere’s disease, as well as several other chronic illnesses. Her story is remarkable. In the face of tremendous adversity, she has found success as a virtual assistant and has been able to continue to work and provide for her family. 

I invited Kathy to share her story with you all today, and to explain a little bit more about what a virtual assistant is, and how you can become one, too.


I’m Kathy and I have Meniere’s Disease.

Actually, I have bi-lateral Meniere’s disease, Migraine with Aura and chronic pain. But up until almost 3 years ago, I was normal. (Or at least I tried to be normal). Then, one day, out of nowhere, I had vertigo for the first time as I was walking across the room.

My Tinnitus, which I’ve had in both ears for many years (and has also caused hearing loss), now roars during attacks, which can happen at any time, with little or no warning.

I went to my walk-in clinic and they sent me to the hospital where doctors weren’t sure what was wrong or if I was having a stroke, so they admitted me for observation. I left thirty hours later still dizzy and on my way to a neurologist.

He was the first doctor to mention Meniere’s disease to me, although he said he was sure I didn’t have it since both my ears were affected, but he was at least open to the possibility. He sent me to other doctors for more tests and opinions. It took nearly a year and a long line of doctors before I finally got a diagnosis from Dr. John Carey at the John Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore, MD. He is an amazing doctor, and really listened!

Read more…

Taking Pictures without permission

Blazing Guitar by Kathy McCabe

Just a few days ago I uploaded a really great picture (the one in this article) to my web stores and to Facebook to show my friends.  Unfortunately, it was ‘altered’ with someone’s words to advertise an event at a local tavern. (It was NOT the tavern or any of their employees that used my image.)  When I offered – very generously – to allow him commercial use for the price of a drink and shout-out to me as the artist he declined and said he wouldn’t use it. When I asked him why he would use it for free (basically stealing off Facebook) and not pay the ridiculously low rate of a drink and a shout out, he told me that he had the right to use anything anyone put up online and on Facebook, for free.  And because although I watermarked the image but not through the center of it then he could do whatever he wanted with it.

Wow, how can anyone in this day and age actually believe that pictures online are free for anyone’s use? Can there be people who don’t understand copyright law?

It’s said, knowledge is power.  Well, let’s get really powerful and absorb some knowledge.  Please note, this article isn’t intended for those of us who understand and abide by the copyright laws, its for those who don’t.

A Copyright  – defined by the US Copyright Office:  A form of protection provided by the laws of the United States for “original works of authorship”, including literary, dramatic, musical, architectural, cartographic, choreographic, pantomimic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, and audiovisual creations. “Copyright” literally means the right to copy but has come to mean that body of exclusive rights granted by law to copyright owners for protection of their work. Copyright protection does not extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, title, principle, or discovery. Similarly, names, titles, short phrases, slogans, familiar symbols, mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, coloring, and listings of contents or ingredients are not subject to copyright. From <http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/definitions.html>

  • NO, YOU MAY NOT USE MY PHOTO WITHOUT MY PERMISSION! Well, not just mine, you can’t use ANY photo without permission.
  • NO, I DON’T HAVE TO PLACE A WATERMARK OR COPYRIGHT ACROSS THE ENTIRE IMAGE FOR IT TO BE PROTECTED.
  • JUST BECAUSE ITS ON THE INTERNET DOES NOT MEAN IT’S YOURS TO DO WITH AS YOU WISH. It is still mine.
  • You are not allowed to alter my work without permission. You aren’t allowed to resell my work, for any reason unless we have an agreement in writing and you have PAID me for use of the image.
  • If you want to use my image to promote your business, that requires a COMMERCIAL license. You must ask permission and purchase first! (At least for my images it does.)

If you don’t believe me, have a look at US Copyright Law at the US Copyright Office. www.copyright.gov. Also, LegalZoom has a good section explaining copyright law. Another good resource is http://pegfitzpatrick.com/oh-snap-can-i-legally-use-that-photo/

If you want to find out if your image is being used anywhere else, you can search using Google, simply enter the url of your image and hit search. After the results are brought up, click on images and then you can click on Search by Image. It will bring up anywhere else your image may be.

To protect your image you can choose to watermark them. Or, you can institute a “No Right Click” script, but that doesn’t work in all browsers. WordPress has several plugins that may be helpful in keeping your images from being lifted.

Bottom line, we as artists – photographers, song writers, literary writers, graphic designers, painters, and so on – should NOT have to deal with an uninformed public stealing our work.  Know the laws, protect yourselves and educate people about copyrights.

This is my ‘lecture’ of the day.  Thanks for listening to my rant.

(Reprinted from Hilltop Secretarial’s Blog)