The Art of Buying Safely Online

Why do you want to buy online?

You would like to buy online because:

Convenience

  • You do not have to ride to the mall.
  • You do not have to drive around ten blocks to find a parking place.
  • You do not have to jostle around with the crowds in the mall.
  • You do not want anyone following your every move with a hawk’s eye.
  • You do not want some one to convince you into buying, something that you do not need.

Well, I think they are good enough reasons why you would like to get onto the net and go buy something online.

Standard Features of online malls
Most of them are visitor friendly. Let us look at one such Online eMall I came across.

Let us now see how these Online eMall websites are designed.  This is a generic website.  Of course you understand that this site does not exist and it is only for demonstration purposes I am mentioning it here.  Let us call it simply – Online eMall.

The customer-friendly Online eMall website is cleanly laid out. The website name is very clearly displayed on the home page.

A key feature of this Online eMall is, it  offers franchises.  Normally, the franchise’s name appears to your left, right beneath the Online eMall profile. Then you have the navigation bar that indicates the e-franchise home, orders tracking and a tab to invite friends to the site.

Then you see those small folder icons: The name of the folders indicate the contents and within brackets the number of items too. For example the first folder is Beauty and Personal Care and it is displaying 43. When you click on the folder, the column to it’s right displays all those items that fall under the “Beauty and Personal Care” category. Each item has a small picture of the product / service with pricing, availability and probable shipping time.

So, all the visitor has to do is click on the folder on the left, view items that appear on the right, add her choice to the shopping cart, fill the forms and pay, to have them delivered at her doorstep. But before she confirms the order, it is up to her to make doubly sure that she is ordering exactly what she expects.

When the shopping season approaches, the Online eMall  owners will update the site and announce really amazing products and services to it’s customers, at great prices.

Phishing
OK, so what makes you think it is safe to buy online? Haven’t you heard of those who collect your credit details and siphon off monies without you ever knowing about it?

Yes, I have heard about that and read about it too. But then there are always those elements around. All you have to do is take a few precautions and you are better off.

Now let’s see what those precautions are:

FAQ’s
Every online shopping mall would have a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) and a privacy policy. Read them both carefully and if you are convinced that it is a good site and is taking care of your interests go ahead and do your shopping.

Warranties and Guarantees
Check if the the site is offering warranties and or guarantees on the products and services they are offering before you make your purchase decision.

Postal Address
You must take care to see if the postal address of the site is given on the web site. If it is not there, then their intentions are in doubt and I advise you not to do business with them.

Cash
There may be occasions that the company or any individual you are buying from asks for cash, say no. Tell them that you would prefer to pay with your credit card. That way you are protecting yourself from avoidable fraudulant transactions.

Help and Support
There are genuine sellers and are helpful. They would be more than happy to help you with your doubts and queries that you might have. Some of these sites do have a live chat service where you get instant answers. Some of them have Feedback forms for their customers and they always write you back about your concerns.

Search and Research
Use the search engines to learn about the online shopping mall that you are trying to buy from. This would help you learn more about them and you can make a buying decision based on that.

Reviews
If there are reviews left by customers read them. It would give you a better insight about this online shopping mall and how they go about treating their customers.

Return Policy
You should also make sure what their Return Policy is, so that you know exactly what to expect.

RESOURCES
There is this excellent site that tells you how to protect yourself from online phishing scams. Please click here to visit the site.

Happy Shopping!

Note:
This article was first published elsewhere on August 6, 2009 and the site is no more available.  Hence I am posting it here again.

https://web.archive.org/web/20101123150210/http://rightword.blogsome.com

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Bloodhound, the tracker dog

Origin
Bloodhounds have extraordinary sense of smell and are great trackers.  Extremely efficient at pursuing scents often leading them to their quarry hundreds of miles away.  This breed has its traces from about 600 BC and is believed to be descendent of St Hubert Hound.

Trait
The Bloodhound has an amazing sense of smell.  A purebred can detect, identify and process the scent emitted by just one or two cells. The construction of the nasal chambers of a Bloodhound’s nose is distinctive with unique placement of the olfactory receptor cells.  A typical Bloodhound has close to 4 billion receptor cells that aid in mapping a pattern.   A human being has just a 100 million.  Researchers believe, the folds around its neck and the wrinkled flesh under its lips, help in holding the surrounding air, while the nose is busy  scenting.  They also believe his functional drooping ears help to trap, hold and absorb the surrounding air.  This helps the nose to lock on to the scent, identify chemical odours, and map solitary patterns.

Temperament
Dogs are good friends to human beings.  Bloodhound definitely is one of the best suited to be a pet dog. Many agencies around the world prefer a Bloodhound to track criminals and assist in various investigations. They also realize it takes time to train a bloodhound.  Though an ideal family pet, like with all other pet dogs, someone should watch a Bloodhound, when he is around small kids.

Bloodhound the tracker

Bloodhound the tracker

Lifespan
A dog’s life span varies widely. Dogs of different breed’s median life span are between ten to 13 years. A study of the Bloodhound life span pegged it at about eight years.  With the help of proper diet and good exercise a Bloodhound’s median life span of eight years can be maximized further.  A good trainer who can design proper training routines can help the Bloodhound live longer.

Breed
A genteel breed, the Bloodhound is quite affectionate towards its owner. Bloodhound loves his ‘trainer’. Bloodhound, the best known tracking dog may be difficult to handle on a leash. His lively nature helps in beginning the training at a tender age of three months. Some trainers wait until he is eighteen months. Lavish praise subsequent to a given task usually after a successful tracking makes him extremely happy.

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Image courtesy: http://www.freeimages.com/profile/mkkw

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Aim, Time, Shoot

Basel Accurist‘s wristwatches exemplify the legacy of  centuries old watchmaking and precision time.  Basel Accurist now proudly presents you the synergies of traditional experiences and the best of the cutting-edge technology of the day.  Huntr represents them both. We present you now the best of both worlds of horology and chronometry. Huntr , with its straight lines and intricate design makes the pursuit of your hunt a pleasure. Accuracy and precision are the hallmarks of Huntr .  With its patented ‘movements’  Huntr is the perfect accessory for your gallant personality. Huntr is the original wristwatch, for the sharp, shooting eye.

This limited edition masterpiece will be especially delivered by hand.

Huntr, created by Basel Accurist

Huntr, created by Basel Accurist

Image courtesy: Internet Stock Photography

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Six Tips To Becoming A Better Person

Self-development

Self-development is a process of guiding oneself based on the results obtained from an assessment of one’s thoughts and actions. The first step towards Self-development is identifying key areas that need to be changed for better. These could be one’s mental abilities, emotional strength, technical skills or educational qualifications. The next step is to find and employ the “tricks” that get us to achieve the intended goal. Here are a couple of steps that can help us get started with Self-development:

  1. Put your thoughts on paper. Writing weeds out lots of unwanted energy that goes into creating negative impact.
  2. Perform an honest self-assessment of your skills, abilities, know-how‘s etc.
  3. Evaluate the results and chart out an action plan.
  4. Prioritize the action plan to best match your career / personal goal / growth.
  5. Locate resources that matter most, and might act as an assisting-aid to execute your action plan.
  6. Last, but not the least, get down to it… and work on your action plan.  Make sure that you work out exactly as plan and do not procrastinate the “To Do” list.

For those who need that extra push, it is a good idea to enroll with self-development programs such as Leadership-Programs, Confident-Public-speaking, and Communication-skills etc. Such groups not only provide an all-for-one, one-for-all support with fellow members facing similar challenges, it also paves way to network with like-minded people, looking for help. You gain knowledge from someone else’s experience, while the other person may get a life-lesson by listening to your experience.

Let us not forget that, the biggest lesson any self-development tool-kit would give you is “Criticism is Good, react positively”. Indeed Criticism is Good, because it is this criticism that serves as a reality check and wakes us up from our self-absorbed “I know it all” mindset. True (self) development comes from reacting positively to such a criticism, however harsh it might be, whatever the source it might come from. Many fail at completing their self-development exercise due to the sole reason that they take criticism far too personally and fail to see it in a much broader sense. Ultimately, not making an inch of progress towards their actual goal.

Self-development is a skill and an art. While one needs to have THE inherent urge to improve one-self, this can also be learnt with the help of self-help books, audio-video aids, support groups etc. These help us focus on things that matter to us the most, and in turn makes us a better performer, at work, at relationships, at mentoring, at community activities etc. As easy as it might sound, it takes a lot of patience and rather a heavy dose of perseverance to complete a session of self-development (self-imposed or otherwise). But, those who do, are winners in their own sense for having mastered (or rather being able to deal with) their fear over criticism, face the audience with confidence, articulate their thoughts in a  better manner.

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Just Waiting To Die

Some time ago, I visited a place.  Visited a few old people from some bygone era. I came back with the impression these are people that have seen life.  They are either sitting there..or lying in their bed..surrounded by their great grand children..with eyes that were empty..and their words were soulless and hollow.  And they were “just waiting to die”.

And later during one of my late night talks with a sozzled up soul, an accomplished craftsman of words..he brought up the topic about that trip.  Then I said to him, “Ya, I met them all..they are all just waiting ..waiting to die” and he went into hysteric peals of laughter that later turned into a wailing.  Yea..he is unable to look into the face of death.  Living is never a certainty but death is.  Why do I say it now?

I just opened this book, “Outliers” by that son of a Jamaican mother and a British professor of Maths..Malcolm Gladwell, and there in the introduction, “The Roseto Mystery” the first lines were..”These People were dying of old age. That’s it.”  What a coincidence!

The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, the Newyorker

The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, the author is a staff writer with The  New Yorker

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Electronic Cigarette – Does it stop smoking?

Stop smoking

Hon Lik’s father was a smoker and could not stop smoking tobacco. He died of cancer caused by it. That broke the heart of young Hon Lik, a chain smoker like his dad. He wanted to quit smoking but his life was built around his nicotine oral fix. Somehow he had to get away from it. He made the first Ecig. He called his Ecig – “Ruyan”. In a Chinese dialect it literally means clean smoke.

Dr. Lennox Johnson says, “The best way to stop smoking is to stop smoking”. A reformed Scottish smoker he should know. In hi report published in the British medical journal Lancet, he suggests that to stop smoking you should first understand the psychology of smoking. Smoking tobacco is a way of announcing that you are a grown-up now. A smoker is also informing the world that he is sophisticated. It is an image that is carefully cultivated and very difficult to get away from.

Electronic Cigarrette - pic courtesy WikiMedia

Elsewhere, the Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin wrote in her report: “When individuals inhale cigarette smoke, either directly or secondhand, they are inhaling more than 7,000 chemicals: hundreds of these are hazardous, and at least 69 are known to cause cancer. The chemicals are rapidly absorbed by cells in the body and produce disease-causing cellular changes.”

So every puff hurts, not you but also the others around you. It is best to stop smoking. But then the design and the contents of the products are packaged attractively and promoted aggressively. You need a herculean motivation to stop smoking. Contrary to what people advise and believe in “cold turkey”, a stop smoking technique is quite difficult to practice. The first day is the most deadly and to pass that night would be “nightmarish.” That’s when most of them fall prey to the relapse.

The pill, the patch, the spray, the inhaler, the lozenges, the gum are some of the nicotine products that are regulated by the Federal Drug Law. The Federal Appeals court in Washington unanimously held up a the FDA’s injection against the Ecig. Now the Ecig, a battery powered tube that looks like a cigarette and, delivers a steam like a clean smoke, free from smoke, without combustion moved a step closer to complying with the law.

Electronic Cigarette or Ecig is a device that suits one who wants to quit smoking. Some manufacturers of Ecigs claim it to be harmless, successful alternative to tobacco cigarette and it is an ideal smoking cessation device for people who intend to stop smoking. For those who say that Ecig is addictive there is an answer. Ecig comes with electronic liquid (also called eliquid, vapor, vape etc.) which is without any dose of nicotine at all and its accompanying harmful ingredients. Ecig may not stop you smoking immediately but it may aid you in your motivation to stop smoking.

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Context Search Makes It Easier To Search For Antidisestablishmentarianism

There are many add-ons, plugins and utilities that help in search and research.  But from the point of view of  a freelancing content provider like myself, Context Search is an other addon for Firefox that helps you search when you are on the Internet.   Antidisestablishmentarianism is supposedly the longest English word.  28 English letters make this word and they include 12 syllables.  To research this word, all you have to do is, install Context Search addon for your Firefox, select the word antidisestablishmentarianism and right click to open the context menu.

There, in the context menu you will find a new option ‘Search for “word”‘  (word = is the ‘word’ that you selected) and by default, Context Search gives you four search options. You can search Google, Yahoo, Dictionary, Amazon and eBay.  You can also customize and manage the search engines.   You can choose from the multitude of search plugins that Firefox offers and install them.

Firefox Plug in Context Search

Select text, right click to invoke Context Search and search.

Click on the image to enlarge.

Context Search helps you search without leaving the browser.  You can get it here. Perhaps you would like to test the Context Search addon with this word, Antidisestablishmentarianism!  🙂

The credit to the Context Search addon on goes to Ben Basson and there have been about three hundred eighty-five thousand nine hundred eighty-nine downloads so far.

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Paypal Currency Conversion Tool

Paypal Currency Conversion Tool helps you find out the worth of your American Dollar (USD $)  in Indian Rupee(INR).  Log into your Paypal account.  Click on the My Account tab.

Paypal Currency Conversion Tool

You will find “Withdraw” there. When you click on it, it opens a new screen – Withdraw Funds. Click on the option:  “Withdraw funds to your bank account“. If you have a verified bank account it is displayed as default in the amount transfer “To” box. Right beneath it to you will find the Paypal “Currency Converter“. Click on it.  It opens pops up a new window displaying the currency converter. This is the window that tells you exactly the equivalent amount Paypal is likely to consider at that point of time. Take a look at the screen shot for a detailed view.

The Paypal office in Chennai is a development center and has nothing to help you.  When I reached them while writing this post on 044 – 6634 8001, the receptionist there gave me this US toll free  # 1 402 935 2050.

Do not call them if you do not want to go through their IVR system that could take ages to reach their agent .  You are burning your money.  It is better that you mail them.  I came across this site which seemed to have plenty of resources to learn more about Paypal.  Good luck. Hope this little info about Paypal Currency Converter helps you.

If you liked this post, please pay it forward to others who do not know how Paypal deals with foreign exchange.

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How To: 6 Easy Steps To Convert Word Document to PDF

How do I convert the MS Word word document into PDF format?  That is the question before me.  I been doing a lot of reading on my Dell monitor for a long time and I just wanted to relax and read a PDF. So here is what I did.

  1. I went to Zoho.Com.
  2. Logged in with my GMail account.  (Well, you can also register with Zoho for a free account and use all its services).
  3. Under the drop down list of Productivity Applications, selected Writer.

    ZOHO Work, save and share online

  4. From the File menu, chose Import option. Picked up the document from my desktop.  Zoho Writer imported the document.
  5. Then again under File, I chose Export and from the sub menu selected PDF.
  6. Downloaded the PDF document.

The default Foxit Reader loaded the document for me and it was ready for me to read.  Well there were a few issues with some spacing in couple of places.  But that’s OK.  It did not hamper my work.  The bonus is you can also work online and save your documents online.  Zoho at this point of time is offering unlimited space but it seems it might limit it to 1GB when it gets out of it’s current beta avatar.

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Paste Email Plus, a Mozilla Firefox Add-on Helps Reduce Repeated Stress Injury (RSI)

Paste Email Plus is a Mozilla Firefox add-on and that is one more reason why I like Firefox browser.  You can customize Firefox to your heart’s content. You think of a feature that you are missing in this browser and go and dig in to the add-ons or  extensions or plug-ins and I am sure you will be find one that meets your need.

Let me tell you about Paste Email Plus now.  Paste Email Plus is another beautiful add-on for Firefox, that would help you browse the net with fewer keystrokes and reduce the chances of potential RSI (RSI btw means Repeated Stress Injury).  Chuck Baker, the guy who created this wonderful add-on calls it the Paste Email Plus.

Paste Email Plus

Paste Email Plus store email address,passwords, & any other text to type frequently

Let me tell you where you can use Paste Email Plus and how it would help you reduce those mundane, boring, repetitive tasks of filling in all those forms.

Come to think of it, this cute little add-on can be used anywhere, when you have a lots of copying and pasting to do. Let me give you a few examples.

A typical example is a sign-up form, without which you cannot log into a site. Generally there are a few fields like user name, email id, password. More often than not some of them ask you to enter data at least twice, either your user name or your email id. You are supposed to fill them in. Imagine if someone is visiting on an average five sites a day she has to enter at least all those details 5 times.

For an individual who has more than two accounts, it would be entering the user name twice and then again the password twice. Let us presume that the user name is eight letters – abcdefgh and the password / or as some sites call it the pass phrase is again 9 characters – for e.g.: 123456789 and let us further presume that both these are made up of alphanumeric characters. The user name in this case is a1b2c3d4 and password is e5f6g7h8i, let us calculate the number of key strokes that are involved. That would be eight characters for the user name. If you use the tab button to jump the cursor into the next field that is the password that is one more stroke there. Else you would click the mouse to move the cursor into the password field and leave it there to use the key board to input the 9 characters.

Keystrokes to enter into the user name       =    8
Keystroke to hit the tab                                       =    1

Keystrokes to enter the password                  =   9

Keystroke to highlight or hit the enter key =   1

Total number of Keystrokes                              = 18

When you are using the Paste Email Plus add on, you can accomplish all these in 8 strokes.  Here is the break up:

Paste Email Plus Context Menu helps you copy & paste from a text file

Move to the Login text field   = 1
Right click for Context menu = 1
Select email Paste                       = 1
Tab or Mouse cursor = 1
Password Field                            = 1
Hit enter or Tab to Enter = 1
and hit                                             = 1
Total number of keystrokes  = 7

So how many keystrokes are you saving? Thanks to Paste Email Plus 11 key strokes in all, without taking into count all those innumerable times when you begin at the beginning when you input one wrong character and system asks you to repeat the whole process right from the first character.

No worries about the safety either – because with Paste Email Plus you can encrypt the password when you first key in your user name and the password.  I am yet to try this though.

So there it is folks! Paste Email Plus, one of those cute and nifty add-ons that makes your surfing on the net much easier and smoother. There is one more nifty feature with Paste Email Plus.  You can save all your data in a text file on a local drive on your machine and the best part is you can

Go and try Paste Email Plus. You can read more about it from Chuck himself and download it here.  Chuck is the same guy who gave us the add on FEBE that helps us save our Firefox profile.

You can download your Mozilla Firefox here and look get more add-ons here.

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