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Capturing Data

Analog data are the random slips of paper, or notes you have floating around. To handle all of this information we need systems in place that make it possible for us to be able to take all of this data in, and at the correct time process it into information, and then make use of the information at the correct time. Think of an email in-box, it captures all the emails, which are sent to you prior to reading, or deleting emails. Data can can also be sorted using taxonomies of various types to group related data together.   This is especially useful with digital data, but you can easily create your own system to put analog data together in this way.   They can provide a common spot for capture of most data before it is processed. Try to find ways to capture data in as few places as possible so that it can be processed quickly. Once the data is processed and useful save that information in the correct place for the right time.

The Middle Way Reviews

In the Middle Way Method there are set times to take a look at your values, goals, projects, mission, and vision at different levels. The first is to examine your mission and vision statements in the context of the current review, for example The yearly, weekly, and monthly reviews will focus on your mission statement primarily, while the daily review will focus on your vision statement. In the yearly review you want to examine the path your life is going compared to the path that you had charted. Review your goals from the previous year, and determine if there are any that are no longer important. The best time for a yearly review may be different for everyone, but some good times, are on birthdays, new year, and anniversaries of important events. The monthly review is a good time to look at the weekly review journal entries for the previous month, and look for any patterns. This review can be short, and just added to the weekly review of the first week in the month.

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What is the Middle Way Method? The Middle Way is the result of a struggle to determine what works from the view of top down planning and what works from

Keeping a Journal

Keeping a journal is an essential part of the Middle Way Method.   The line where keeping a diary ends and journaling begins is blurry. A personal development journal is a place to record your attempts to improve yourself. I look at journaling in the Middle Way Method as a cross between the personal development and spiritual journaling. I view the type of journal kept in the Middle Way Method as a spiritual personal development Journal.

All About Goals

There are a few reoccurring times, when we tend to look to the future, and determine we want to change. We may decide that we want to lose weight, get a better job, start a business, or any number of things. With a well defined goal, you should be able to gauge how much effort will be needed in order to achieve the desired result. A point that causes some goals to falter or fail is when we think a goal will take a smaller amount of effort that it actually takes. It is important to understand that the size of the dream, struggle, and victory must match. When goals are aligned to our values, relationships, and roles they gain a solid foundation on which we can build them. Goals based on values, are our internal goals, things we want for ourselves. Goals based on our Roles often fall off after the role which generated them falls away, like goals related to your current employment. Goals need to be specific, you can say I want to loose weight, get a better job, write a book, but unless you define what you mean by these things you are more likely to fail at them. In order to determine the effort needed to accomplish the goal you will need it to be specific, and well outlined, with all of the steps involved.

Capturing Data

skyIn our lives we experiance data overload. To much data comes into our heads for us to keep, let alone process. This means that we all need a system for capturing data.  Think about all the times where you found something you needed for later, and by the time you needed to use it was lost. This is a major problem to-day. How do we capture data, turn it into useful information, and then take action on it. I define data as information, which has not had importance added to it yet. Once it has importance to us it becomes information. Read more

The Middle Way Reviews

bridgeIn the Middle Way Method there times to take a look at your values, goals, projects, mission, and vision at different levels. There are some common steps for each of these reviews. The first is to examine your mission and vision statements in the context of the current review, for example The yearly, weekly, and monthly reviews will focus on your mission statement primarily, while the daily review will focus on your vision statement. Each of the reviews is best done after centering yourself spiritually with prayer, scripture study, or meditation. Looking forward and inward create the best climate for the reviews. Read more

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What is the Middle Way Method?

The Middle Way is the result of a struggle to determine what works from the view of top down planning and what works from the view of bottom up planning, and where they meet in the middle.

The Middle Way Method is comprised of several processes, which can be followed as a whole, or selected individually to help improve your own system.  The processes are:

  1. Create and maintain mission and vision statements
  2. Set well defined and measurable goals
  3. Keep a journal with an emphasis on self reflection
  4. Capture data and information
  5. Yearly, Monthly, Weekly, Daily Reviews
  6. Create and maintain an effective planning system

The Middle Way Method is based on the principles that there is a lot of stuff to get done, and at least some of it is important to us, and some is not.  By keeping an eye on what is important, and making room for accomplishing things important to us.  The Middle Way will teach you how to define what is important, and make room in a busy week to accomplish some of the important items.

The Middle Way Method builds a foundation of knowing who you are and who you want to become.  From that foundation it helps you to define goals, which have specific steps and to manage your day to day activities.

From its inception the Middle Way Method has had its eye on personal development and daily productivity with an emphasis on easy to follow routines, which can be used independently of each-other, or together to make you more productive.

Keeping a Journal

JournalKeeping a journal is an essential part of the Middle Way Method. The purpose of the Journal is to bridge the two halves of the method together and make them cohesive. This is where the day-to-day, meets the values, goals and you can center yourself.

A journal is different from a diary, in that a diary is more a record of what happens to you. A journal is more about how you react to the world, and feel.  The line where keeping a diary ends and journaling begins is blurry.  The two are interrelated and are Read more

All About Goals

dragonfly 2aThere are a few recurring times, when we tend to look to the future, and determine we want to change. We may decide that we want to lose weight, get a better job, start a business, or any number of things. Most of these goals fail; the motivation or enthusiasm wains, and we quietly drop our goals. How then can we create goals with lasting power? What about the goals which are still important, but have since come to a halt, how do we restart them? Read more

Mission and Vision Statements

colorful-autumn-leaves-smallMission and Vision statements give us a road-map to help you envision your future.  The source material for your mission statement is your values and important relationships.  The source for your vision statement is your mission statement.  Mission statements take time to develop, and need adjusting periodically.  Vision statements restate your mission statements in the present tense, and provide a vision of who you want to become. Read more

WordPress Quick Tips

20130115-225128.jpg

Plugin Recommendations

My list of plugins that I recommend. I have divided them into two categories: Highly Recommended, Recommended, and No Longer Recommended. The highly recommended plugins can be used successfully by most WordPress based websites. The recommended plugins provide additional functionality which may be useful in in your site.

Highly Recommended

404 Error Monitor
Captures 404 errors. This is useful if you have changed your permalink structure, so you can redirect your visitors to pages they are looking for.
Akismet
Akismet protects your site from comment, and trackback spam. It is one of the best solutions for spam prevention.

  1. Click the “Activate” link
  2. Sign up for an Akismet API key
  3. Go to your Akismet configuration page, and save your API key.
Jetpack by WordPress.com
Provides functionality found on WordPress.com to your WordPress site. This has several features, and is worth using.
Page Comments Off Please
This plugin is installed on all new WordPress sites.
Quick Cache
WordPress advanced cache plugin; speed without compromise!
Quick Cache comment garbagecollector
Add-on for Quick Cache. Will regenerate single page/post caches if a comment has been placed
Web Ninja Auto Tagging System
This plugin will automatically make tags.
WordPress SEO
This is my favorite SEO plugin.
WP Smush.it
Reduce image file sizes and improve performance.
BulletProof Security
Website Security Protection. This is my current perferred security plugin.

Recommended

Blogroll to Page
Create pages of links using the WordPress blogroll functionality.
MailPoet Newsletters
Create and send newsletters. Import and manage your lists. Add subscription forms in widgets, articles and pages.
Syndicate Out
Syndicates posts made in any specified category to another WP blog using WordPress’ built in XML-RPC functionality.
Easy Digital Downloads
Serve Digital Downloads Through WordPress.
Easy Digital Downloads – Bitcoin Currency
Adds Bitcoin (BTC) currency in Easy Digital Downloads
Easy Digital Downloads – Free Download
Bypass Checkout Mechanism For Free Download
Layered Pop
Create multi-layers animated popup.
Syntax Highlighter ComPress
Syntax Highlighter lets you add different highlights to text.
Ultimate Tag Cloud Widget
This plugin aims to be the most configurable tag cloud widget out there.
MailPoet Newsletters
Manage mailing lists, and send mass emails, like newsletters.
Meteor Slides
Create Slideshows.
Summary: Excerpt Extraction
Creates summaries of your posts.
Ultimate Noindex Nofollow Tool II
Allows you to set noindex and nofollow on specific pages, posts, and archives.
WP Post Series
Adds a new taxonomy of a series of posts.

Theme Recommendations

  • Weaver II
  • Yoko
  • Twentyfourteen
  • zeeBizzCard

 

Helpful Links

General WordPress Links

(Education, Tutorials, Documentation, Support)
learn.wordpress.com – Tutorials
codex.wordpress.com – Documentation
wordpress.tv – WordPress Related Videos
wordpress.com/support – Support Forums

Links to Specific Help Pages

http://codex.wordpress.org/WordPress_Lessons

http://codex.wordpress.org/Combating_Comment_Spam

http://codex.wordpress.org/Hardening_WordPress – How to Secure a WordPress based Website
http://thematosoup.com/tips/wordpress-security-htaccess – Securing WordPress
http://searchenginejournal.com/just-say-no-to-hackers-how-to-harden-your-wordpress-security/63685 -

Securing WordPress

http://www.gtmetrix.com – Test website for optimization of site
http://sitecheck.sucuri.net/scanner/ – Online malware scanner
http://www.ip2location.com/blockvisitorsbycountry.aspx – Tool to Allow you to create .htaccess code to block based on country

https://codex.wordpress.org/Combating_Comment_Spam/FAQ

https://managewp.com/wordpress-categories-tags-seo

Security Advice

Securing a WordPress site can be complicated, but there are two items which can help dramatically each day:

Change the Admin Username away from admin
Change the database table prefix to something other than wp_

This is one of the first things I do when I make a brand new site, but if you have an established WordPress site you can make use of Better WP Security to do this.

WordPress like all database driven websites is vulnerable to attack through vulnerabilities in the code. Since WordPress will always have vulnerabilities it is important to keep WordPress, the plugins you use, and themes updated, and your passwords secure. One part of securing a password is to use a strong password (8-12 characters long with at least 1 uppercase letter, lowercase letter, number, and symbol).
Steps to Secure a Site

Remove files you are not familiar with.
Keep code updated
Remove unused scripts
Monitor file permissions
Hide configuration files
In the php.ini file make the following changes:
Set ‘register_globals’ to Off.
Set ‘display_error’ to 0 or Off.

Remember to confirm all user inputs. Items on Forms, in URLS and so on. Remember to make use of access Control. Keep users away from admin areas, and other places they do not need to be.

Make use of .htaccess to block known bad users, or the IP ranges of countries that you do not want accessing your website. Better WP Security is able to add some black list ips to your .htaccess. You can also make use of some free services create code for the .htaccess file to block access to certain countries. This may be useful if you see attacks coming mostly from certain countries and you do not need traffic from those countries this can be a useful tool to protect your site.

Increase Speed and Efficiency of WordPress

Occasionally when your site gets a large number of simultaneous visitors the site could appear down due to the overwhelming number of php processes running on the server. There are a couple of ways that you can combat this. You can install a caching plugin, like Hyper Cache or Quick Cache. You can also use CloudFlare with or with out a caching plugin to improve the loading speed of your site.
Securing WordPress

Using a pre-existing subdirectory install

If you already have WordPress installed in its own folder (e.g., http://example.com/wordpress), then the steps are as follows:

Go to the General panel.
In the box for Site address (URL): change the address to the root directory’s URL. Example: http://example.com
Click Save Changes. (Do not worry about the error message and do not try to see your blog at this point! You will probably get a message about file not found.)
Copy (NOT MOVE!) the index.php and .htaccess files from the WordPress (wordpress in our example) directory into the root directory of your site—the latter is probably named something like www or public_html. The .htaccess file is invisible, so you may have to set your FTP client to show hidden files. If you are not using pretty permalinks, then you may not have a .htaccess file. If you are running WordPress on a Windows (IIS) server and are using pretty permalinks, you’ll have a web.config rather than a .htaccess file in your WordPress directory.
Move (DON’T COPY) the wp-config.php file to your root directory.
Edit your root directory’s index.php.
Open your root directory’s index.php file in a text editor
Change the line that says:

Countries with Lots of Hackers

  • Hungary
  • Italy
  • India
  • Romania
  • Brazil
  • Taiwan
  • Russia
  • Turkey
  • China
  • USA

Source (http://www.abcnetspace.com/2013/05/top-10-countries-with-most-hackers.html)

WordPress Database Information

The options table will tell you the SiteURL, the template and stylesheet used. You can change the theme by changing the stylesheet and template line.

What are your WordPress tips?

Values and Relationships

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The Middle Way Method consists of several processes, but your underlying values and relationships underpin your whole experience with the Middle Way Method.  Your values will help you discover the kind of person you wish to become, and your relationships will tell you where you find happiness in this life.

Read more

Making Art with Text – ASCII and ANSI Art

Many people who have used Bulletin Board Systems, have seen ANSI, ASCII, and RIP Art.
I recently revamped my website to feel more like an old school BBS.  To set the tone, I needed an image that looked like it could have been made back then.
Here are two examples of what ANSI art in the BBS world looked like.  The first is from Tradewars 2002.  The second, is from Legend of the Red Dragon.
Tradewars 2002
L.O.R.D.

In the days of Dial up modems, the time to send an actual image file would have been a long time.  To circumvent this limitation ASCII graphics were created.

ASCII and ANSI Art
ASCII graphics used keyboard characters to display a picture.  My earliest memories of ASCII art are my father brining Snoopy home for my brother and I when we were littler.  These images are usually monochrome in color.  An example of ASCII Art is the following:
                  XXXX
                 X    XX
                X  ***  X                XXXXX
               X  *****  X            XXX     XX
            XXXX ******* XXX      XXXX          XX
          XX   X ******  XXXXXXXXX                XX XXX
        XX      X ****  X                           X** X
       X        XX    XX     X                      X***X
      X         //XXXX       X                      XXXX
     X         //   X                             XX
    X         //    X          XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX/
    X     XXX//    X          X
    X    X   X     X         X
    X    X    X    X        X
     X   X    X    X        X                    XX
     X    X   X    X        X                 XXX  XX
      X    XXX      X        X               X  X X  X
      X             X         X              XX X  XXXX
       X             X         XXXXXXXX\     XX   XX  X
        XX            XX              X     X    X  XX
          XX            XXXX   XXXXXX/     X     XXXX
            XXX             XX***         X     X
               XXXXXXXXXXXXX *   *       X     X
                            *---* X     X     X
                           *-* *   XXX X     X
                           *- *       XXX   X
                          *- *X          XXX
                          *- *X  X          XXX
                         *- *X    X            XX
                         *- *XX    X             X
                        *  *X* X    X             X
                        *  *X * X    X             X
                       *  * X**  X   XXXX          X
                       *  * X**  XX     X          X
                      *  ** X** X     XX          X
                      *  **  X*  XXX   X         X
                     *  **    XX   XXXX       XXX
                    *  * *      XXXX      X     X
                   *   * *          X     X     X
     =======*******   * *           X     X      XXXXXXXX\
            *         * *      /XXXXX      XXXXXXXX\      )
       =====**********  *     X                     )  \  )
         ====*         *     X               \  \   )XXXXX
    =========**********       XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
1978 by Douglas A. Wright
ANSI Art uses IBM’s extended character set, and escape codes to create colored Works of art.  ANSI art was widely used for BBS interfaces, and logos.  There have been artists who can use the 16 color limitations, and the few different texture types available to create really neat works of art.  My Header image started out as an ANSI image, but because ANSI images today have to be viewed through a special interpreter, I converted it to a graphic.
I found that there are tools, which can convert images to ANSI or ASCII art.  This appears to be one of the most common ways to create both ANSI and ASCII art today.  I found that the results of these generators did not give the same results as art made by hand in an editor.
Creating ANSI Art

To create my Excalibur’s Sheath Header image I went looking for examples of creating Text.  In my searches I came across a person who had taken a font package for an old software for creating ANSI art, and converted the fonts to Figlet. 
 
Creating the Text
 
I used the patorjk.com figlet generator to create the Excalibur’s Sheath text for my image.
  I was able to preview multiple “fonts” before I decided upon ANSI Shadow, as the font to use.
 
The font I selected did not have the apostrophe symbol, so I left a blank between the r and s in Excalibur’s.  I later used a comma to place the apostrophe to create the image.
 
Drawing the Sword
 
I then needed a way to draw a sheathed sword using ANSI art.  I used the sixteen colors ANSI editor to create and color my sword image.  This editor allowed me to save a PNG image of my text art, which was perfect for my uses.
 
Putting it all together
 
Once I had the text for the image, and the sword drawn, it was a matter of grabbing a reference of the 16 colors available to the ANSI artist.  I used GIMP to put it all together.  With GIMP I selected the Monospace font, and pasted in Excalibur s, Sheath, and ‘ as 3 different text blocks.  I renamed the layers so that I could identify what they were.  I colored them #XXXXXX.  I made copies of all three text blocks.  Then I removed the drop shadow from all three original text blocks.  I placed them so that they looked their best.  I colored the second set of text blocks #XXXXXX, and placed them so that they were under the first blocks with only the shadow area showing.
 
The last piece I did was place the sword as a separate layer.  I rotated it, and shrunk the layer to fit.
 
Conclusion
 

I feel that I made use of several techniques I learned from looking at existing ANSI art made during the BBS era, and while I used a modern image manipulation tool, and techniques it was the best tool I had available for this project.  There are not many examples of ANSI art on the web, and the tutorials, and documentation left sometimes presume a skill level, or tools I did not have access to.

Performing a Yearly Review

The Middle Way Method – Bottom-up Meets Top-down

Compass and MapNear the start of a new year many people ponder changes they want to make in their lives.  This time can be expanded into a major review of your motivating principles, mission and vision statements, and your goals.  This expanded process is called a yearly review.  Write in your journal how you think the year went.  Did you carry out your goals?  What were your challenges you faced; also how did you face you handle the issues.

Yearly Review: Stage One

Review your relationships and determine any changes.  Our relationships are important, but they are always in flux; try to determine where your relationships are at.

Review your motivating values, do you understand them differently?  Your values may have shifted slightly over the last year.  That is to be expected.  Because of your experiances in the previous year you are not the same person.

After you have examined your relationships and values, now edit your mission, and vision statements to reflect the changes in your life.

Review your year, write what you intended to do.  Next write what you accomplished.  If you have been doing weekly reviews as the year has progressed now is a good time to review them and look for ongoing struggles, and for areas of strength.

Yearly Review: Stage Two

Examine your projects.  Remove any that are no longer in keeping with your character.  Change priorities on goals as appropriate, and create new projects and goals.

Conclusion

Reviewing in this way can be performed at any time, but certain times, such as a new year, or a birthday tend to move our minds in the direction of pausing for deep contemplation.  Study of scripture & prayer, or meditation may also enhance this process.

The post Performing a Yearly Review appeared first on The Middle Way Method.

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