Showing posts with label How To. Show all posts
Showing posts with label How To. Show all posts

2 March 2021

How to Reach Your Potential at University

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How to Reach Your Potential at University
How to Reach Your Potential at University (Image by Anastasia Gepp)
No one wants to waste the opportunity to attend university, but how do you achieve your full potential while studying? This article will discuss everything that you need to know to make the most of your higher education.

Find the Right University

Choosing the best university is a crucial part of your journey to success at college. But when deciding which university to apply for, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. While the Ivy League universities are the ones that enjoy a prestigious reputation, if they don't suit your individual needs and interests, you won't get the most from your education.

When choosing which universities to apply for, you will need to consider practicalities such as cost and location. Your choice of subject and the university's facilities for your area of interest are also vital considerations.

Another point to consider is the ethos of the university. During your time at college, you will associate yourself with these values, so it is worth researching universities you are interested in to ensure that your ethos matches the university. For example, Bashar Hanna, president of Bloomsburg University, hopes to "inspire and transform today's students into tomorrow's leaders." Visiting the universities in person is the next step to ensure that the university's culture and values align with your own.

Maximize Your Study Time

When you begin your university course, the amount of work involved can feel a little intimidating. However, try not to allow this to become a barrier to completing your assignments. When there is so much work to be done and many deadlines are approaching, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. For some students, the feeling of being overwhelmed can impact their ability even to get started. Procrastinating and panicking about how much work you have can be a natural response, but try not to let it stand in your way.

You may find that it is helpful to plan and allocate set time slots to work on each task to ensure that it is completed ahead of the deadline. Getting started on the assignments is the most important and hardest step. Once you have started, you should gain momentum and find that completing your work on time becomes so much easier.

Beware of Distractions

Attending university is a life-changing experience, and you may feel like you are entering a whole new world. It is essential to remember that many distractions on and off-campus could entice you away from your studies. Enjoying the student experience is a vital part of attending university, but don't let this stand in the way of your future success and scupper your study plans.

Make the Most of Opportunities

One of the best parts of attending university is all of the opportunities that are available to you. Staying on the look-out for opportunities that will look great on your resum├ę in the future is a perfect way to make the most of your time at university and to gain rich experiences as well as a highly-regarded academic achievement.

23 February 2021

Phone Call Anxiety: Why So Many Of Us Have It, And How To Get Over It

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Phone Call Anxiety: Why So Many Of Us Have It, And How To Get Over It
Many people feel anxious when receiving a phone call. (Photo: Sergey Mironov)

Staying in touch with loved ones without seeing them in person has become even more important during the pandemic. But for some people, making or receiving calls is a stressful experience. Phone anxiety – or telephobia – is the fear and avoidance of phone conversations and it’s common among those with social anxiety disorder.

Having a hatred of your phone doesn’t necessarily mean you have phone anxiety, although the two can be related. There are, of course, many people who dislike making or receiving calls. But if this dislike causes you to experience certain symptoms, you may have phone anxiety.

Some emotional symptoms of phone anxiety include delaying or avoiding making calls because of heightened anxiety, feeling extremely nervous or anxious before, during and after the call and obsessing or worrying about what you’ll say. Physical symptoms include nausea, increase in heart rate, shortness of breath, dizziness and muscular tension.

If you feel like this, you’re not alone. A 2019 survey of UK office workers found 76% of millennials and 40% of baby boomers have anxious thoughts when their phone rings. Because of this, 61% of millennials would completely avoid calls, compared with 42% of baby boomers. If you suffer from these symptoms, there are some things you can do to make it easier.

Avoiding phone calls

Talking on the phone can be daunting because we’re limited to just the sounds of our voices. In the absence of all other social cues – including gestures, body language and eye contact – we can often feel self-conscious of the sound of our own voices and our choice of words.

Thanks to technology, we can often go days, weeks or even months without directly speaking to others on the phone. One study found anxious people prefer texting over phone calls, rating it a superior medium for expressive and intimate contact.

Some people opt for texting because it gives them time to think about the wording of their messages, providing the opportunity to be informal. In some cases, they develop a different personality separate and in contrast to their real-life, more reticent, self.

Phone Call Anxiety: Why So Many Of Us Have It, And How To Get Over It
Many people prefer texting to phone calls. (Photo: Tero Vesalainen)

Research also suggests phone anxiety is related to a preoccupation with what the other person thinks of them. By eliminating the immediate reaction of others in spoken conversations, text messaging may offer those with phone anxiety a way of making social contact without the fear of rejection or disapproval.

Another reason phone calls can sometimes feel overwhelming is the pressure that comes with being someone else’s focus. In face-to-face conversations, we have several distractions in our environment; like gazing out of the window or, ironically, checking the missed call notifications on our phones. This can make the interaction feel more casual and the conversation flow naturally. On a call, there are no external distractions, so it can feel like the spotlight is on us to answer questions straight away.

Pauses can feel extremely uncomfortable too. In person, you can see when someone is distracted or thinking but on the phone brief silences can feel awkward. We’re also becoming accustomed to being able to review emails, texts and social media posts before hitting the send button, so a phone conversation can feel impulsive and risky.

It’s easy to put off or completely avoid calls when you’re feeling anxious, but the more you procrastinate, the worse the anxiety is likely to get. The good news is you don’t need to suffer in silence, or over text messages. There are several useful techniques that may help you break the pattern.

Pick up the phone

One of the most effective ways to overcome phone anxiety is to expose yourself to more phone calls. The more you do it, the less overwhelming it becomes. It’s also likely that your phone anxiety is linked to a lack of experience. The more practice you have, the less anxious and more confident you’ll feel.

You can start this process by making a list of the people you need to speak to on the phone, such as friends or colleagues, and go through each one by reflecting on what it is about the call that makes you anxious. For example, it might be making a mistake or feeling judged. When the call is over, acknowledging your success will help you stay motivated for the next call.

If you’ve tried to combat your phone anxiety or you think you might benefit from seeking professional help, counselling is a great option and there are a number of talking therapies available. Cognitive behavioural therapy is a very effective treatment for social anxiety, and there’s an online option that might be a suitable alternative if you feel a bit nervous about speaking to someone in person.

About Today's Contributor:

Ilham Sebah, Teaching Fellow in Psychology, Royal Holloway

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

22 February 2021

3 Great Ideas for a Children's Party

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3 Great Ideas for a Children's Party
3 Great Ideas for a Children's Party (Image by Adina Voicu)
Children's parties have a long history of being underwhelming and generally the same. Whether you go swing so far into the cliche that you hire a party clown or let the kids run free in laser tag instead of partying, many options have been played out. Instead of leaning into the cliches, here are some of the best party ideas for any kid event that will have even the pickiest parents impressed with you!

Go Retro Fabulous

This plan doesn't mean you have to throw the sixties themed party for kids born in the 2010s! Instead, think about classic party themes and how you can make them fresh and exciting for children. In the 90s, roller-skating parties were all the rage. Because it's fallen in and out of style ever since then, you can rent out a roller skating rink for relatively cheap for an hour or two! Pump up this party by hiring entertainment that can skate or get the most fun themed food ever. If most kids don't yet know how to skate, this can be a fun learning opportunity for them! Keep in mind that you should keep a first aid kit on hand, or check and ensure that the roller rink has reasonable safety procedures. A skating party is only fun if nobody gets seriously hurt. You can also lean into other classic party themes, but it’s good to pick one that your kid will enjoy and want.

Hire Amazing Performers

Children still believe in magic and love to be dazzled and amazed by excellent performances. You can lean into the party clown idea by instead hiring some real circus performers to put on a show! These performers can do anything from acrobatics to magic; you have to consider how large your venue is and what your child would find most exciting.

You can take this another route by hiring Disney princess performers or even Paw Patrol performers to entertain the kids and their guests. If the party has any theme, you should have fun with it. This theme could mean pirate impersonators for a day on the beach or fantasy cosplayers for a fun day faking raiding a castle. Give yourself the chance to have fun and be creative.

Give Them Some Magic

If your child loves mermaids, the beach, or the ocean: lean into it! This is the time to go over the top and show them how much you love them. Add a little whimsy by hiring live mermaids to perform, throw the party at an aquarium or a small boardwalk theme park ride. Some theme parks have a rate where you can rent out rides, or areas of the park, for parties. Ensure that for parties where kids are running around, you have escorts on hand who can make sure everyone stays safe and happy. Although it may feel tempting to let the kids have the run of the park, every single accident or problem will come down on you. Be careful, and be safe.

17 February 2021

The Hero's Journal Team Releases New Journal, Istoria Magic Academy, on Kickstarter [Video Included]

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The Hero's Journal Team Releases New Journal, Istoria Magic Academy, on Kickstarter
The Hero's Journal - A filled out journal
The team behind the popular The Hero's Journal today announced that its newest offering, The Hero's Journal: Istoria Magic Academy, is now live on Kickstarter, where they reached 100% of their funding goal in under 9 minutes.
The Hero's Journal
launched in 2019 via a successful Kickstarter campaign. Over the past two years, a vibrant community of journalers has formed organically on social media to share stories and seek advice.
"Thanks to our first Kickstarter, The Hero's Journal quickly transformed from a simple idea to a community of 25,000 journalers," said Nick Vitellaro, the 27-year-old co-founder.
He added: "During the past year, we learned a lot about what our fans like about the Journal and how it helps them achieve their goals. Today, we're excited to go back to Kickstarter, where it all started, to release a new edition that incorporates feedback and suggestions from our amazing community."
During 2020, the team witnessed firsthand how the Journal is helping people cope during the pandemic. For example, one community member commented: "I've been feeling pretty scatterbrained since quarantine started, but this journal has really helped create more structure in my daily life, in the most fun and thoughtful way."
The Hero's Journal Team Releases New Journal, Istoria Magic Academy, on Kickstarter
Daily Artwork Helps Inspire the Imagination and Make Every Day of Journaling Unique
The Hero's Journal: Istoria Magic Academy is based on a story about magic. The process of learning something new, working through failure, and discovering the ordinary magic of changing the world around you through words and actions.
"We expect that the new edition will resonate with our current community as well as with a new group of journalers who are looking to embark on a new adventure during a uniquely challenging time," said Nick.

The Video:

About The Hero's Journal:

Stories are the oldest form of human communication. From the earliest books ever written to the latest box office hit, humans are hardwired to communicate in the form of narrative. And there is no narrative more important to the core of each of us than the story we tell about ourselves. We set out to create a journal that would combine the power of self-narrative with the psychology of goal setting. The result? The Hero's Journal—now used by thousands of heroes around the world. From brainstorming the journal in 2018 to launching a kickstarter in 2019 to quitting our full-time jobs in the beginning of 2020, we've been blown away by the support of a community that keeps selling out every single one of our production runs. 

SOURCE: The Hero's Journal

12 February 2021

3 Strategies for Confidently and Professionally Expressing Your Feelings at Work

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3 Strategies for Confidently and Professionally Expressing Your Feelings at Work
3 Strategies for Confidently and Professionally Expressing Your Feelings at Work (Photo by Anna Shvets)
Mixing feelings with work? Never! Society usually tells us to keep our work problems and home problems totally separate, which ends up making a lot of people feel like they can’t bring their feelings with them to work situations.

Here’s the reality: Feelings are inevitable at work. Just like any situation in life, you’re going to experience feelings and emotions in your work environment. You can’t always act on these, but you can embrace them and know when and how you can express them. Start with these three strategies!

Go Directly to the Source

If you need to have a difficult or uncomfortable conversation with somebody, your best bet is to cut to the chase. Go directly to the source and ask to have a mature discussion. Office politics tend to confuse and exacerbate the situation, and it’s much better to involve yourself directly with someone rather than engage in gossip beforehand. Because you’re in an office environment, you can always set up a meeting with your coworker or boss to hash things out. Otherwise, if you prefer a more casual setting, ask to get coffee or go for a walk outside of work.

Be Calm and Know Your Stance

Work environments can be stressful, but don’t let that disrupt your calm disposition. Going into a discussion with a sense of calm is really important. You may be taking a bold stance, and that’s perfectly fine. But you should make sure you stay calm about it and don’t get heated. Be confident that you know what you’re doing, and don’t let that change as the conversation begins to take form.

Remember Your “Why”

At the end of the day, you and all of your coworkers are there for the same reason. You’re not trying to disrupt the structure or success of the company, nor are you trying to stir up unnecessary drama. You all have a “why” or a reason to be there. Your job is important to you, so try to remember this throughout your conversation. You’re trying to work through this and talk it out because you want to improve things, not make anything worse. Don’t forget that!

3 Strategies for Confidently and Professionally Expressing Your Feelings at Work
3 Strategies for Confidently and Professionally Expressing Your Feelings at Work (Photo by Sora Shimazaki)

We’ve covered three big strategies for expressing your feelings at work, but you’re not limited to these three. Every situation is different, so take some time to think about yours and create your strategy accordingly. Good luck!

10 February 2021

Turning Your Garden Into Your Own Outdoor Paradise

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Turning Your Garden Into Your Own Outdoor Paradise
Turning Your Garden Into Your Own Outdoor Paradise (Photo by cottonbro)
With many more people spending much more of their time at home, feeling comfortable and content within the confines of your property is becoming increasingly important. One of the biggest aspects of your home that can be of benefit during lockdown orders is your garden, as it offers the perfect opportunity to get outside and make the most of the sun and fresh air without running the risk of breaching the rules. Turning your garden into your own little slice of heaven is sure to encourage you to get outdoors whenever possible, but how might you be able to begin such a project without any ideas or inspiration? Look no further, as here are some of the most brilliant tips and tricks that you can utilise to transform your outdoor space into an amazing natural paradise in no time at all.

Lay The Best Foundations

If your garden is overgrown with pesky weeds and plants or spotted with junk or unwanted items, the first step that you must take to transform the space is to clear a new foundation. Setting the scene for your new relaxation spot is so vital, as you need to create a blank canvas to see what you are actually working with. Dig out your lawn mower and get to strimming the grass and any other bushes or hedgerows that have decided to take over, cutting back intrusive branches whilst making the largest possible open space to really utilise every inch of your garden.

Section & Set Up

The next step that you should follow to start building your dream garden involves sectioning the space into different areas with different purposes. Each area can be used to host its own set activity, such as a patio housing a table and chairs that can be used for al fresco dining, or a set of outdoor bean bags beneath a tree to chill out in the shade on a hot day. You can physically section out your garden by utilising fences and railings, and this can help to protect your trees at the same time. Even the gardens that house England's oldest trees make the most of such protective measures to keep their plants safe, so it’s a great option to explore to protect any old trees in your garden. If you have children or a young family, setting up a play area should be your next port of call. You can source a full play set that includes swings, a slide and a set of monkey bars for such an affordable price tag, and your little ones are bound to spend hours in the garden having great fun as a result.

Turning Your Garden Into Your Own Outdoor Paradise
Turning Your Garden Into Your Own Outdoor Paradise (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio)
Turning your garden into your own outdoor paradise has never been so simple when you can take the time to make the most of the brilliant tips and ideas that have been carefully detailed above. There’s no time like the present to get outdoors and get some vitamin D, so what are you waiting for?

5 February 2021

6 Beneficial Ways to Deal with Critical People

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6 Beneficial Ways to Deal with Critical People
6 Beneficial Ways to Deal with Critical People (Photo by cottonbro)
Constructive criticism is fine, but some people who are so relentlessly negative that they can suck the joy out of life. No matter what happy news you might have, they are guaranteed to find the cloud to fit your silver lining.
Here are 6 strategies you can use to deal with hypercritical people.

1. Don’t Take It Personally

It’s a safe bet that it's not you, it's them. Some people just hug their negativity around them like a security blanket, and it colors their view of the world. They criticize everything because that suits them. Watch how they treat other people. It’s guaranteed they criticize everybody, not just you.

2. Listen to The Message

Is the person obscuring the message? Maybe your critical colleague or friend is tactless, or bad at expressing themselves rather than being mean. Try to see past the messenger to understand what is really being said, otherwise you might miss out on some valuable advice.

3. Accept the Feedback

You can decide to take crucial feedback on its own merits. That is, as a source of honest feedback. At least with hypercritical people what you see is what you get! If you can see past the blunt delivery, you may be able to find a kernel of truth that can improve the way you do things.

4. Deal with Your Discomfort

Criticism never feels good. Try to read your own discomfort as another source of information about what is being said. Does the negative feedback trigger a recognition deep within you? Maybe it subconsciously reminds you of a past event, but maybe there’s a ring of truth in the criticism. Sit with your discomfort and see what it’s telling you.

5. If You Can’t Take the Heat, Stay Out of the Kitchen

If you can’t stand being criticized, then it’s up to you not to get into situations with people who are likely to criticize you. Don’t ask for advice or expose yourself to their negativity. They’re not likely to change, so you need to take control and avoid such conversations. Don’t share good news if you know they’ll throw cold water on it, don’t seek their praise if you know you won’t get it.

6. Stay Out of Their Way

You have a choice about how to deal with negative people. You can decide not to engage with their negativity, you can ignore them, or you can just avoid them altogether. If you must have contact with a negative person at work, for example, be helpful but don’t engage with them. Otherwise, it's up to you whether you want to have any contact with such negativity, or not.

6 Beneficial Ways to Deal with Critical People
6 Beneficial Ways to Deal with Critical People (Photo by Sam Lion)

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1 February 2021

We’re Teaching Robots To Evolve Autonomously – So They Can Adapt To Life Alone On Distant Planets

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We’re Teaching Robots To Evolve Autonomously – So They Can Adapt To Life Alone On Distant Planets
In the future, robots we’ve programmed may evolve and multiply on distant planets.(SquareMotion)

It’s been suggested that an advance party of robots will be needed if humans are ever to settle on other planets. Sent ahead to create conditions favourable for humankind, these robots will need to be tough, adaptable and recyclable if they’re to survive within the inhospitable cosmic climates that await them.

Collaborating with roboticists and computer scientists, my team and I have been working on just such a set of robots. Produced via 3D printer – and assembled autonomously – the robots we’re creating continually evolve in order to rapidly optimise for the conditions they find themselves in.

Our work represents the latest progress towards the kind of autonomous robot ecosystems that could help build humanity’s future homes, far away from Earth and far away from human oversight.

Robots rising

Robots have come a long way since our first clumsy forays into artificial movement many decades ago. Today, companies such as Boston Dynamics produce ultra-efficient robots which load trucks, build pallets, and move boxes around factories, undertaking tasks you might think only humans could perform.

Despite these advances, designing robots to work in unknown or inhospitable environments – like exoplanets or deep ocean trenches – still poses a considerable challenge for scientists and engineers. Out in the cosmos, what shape and size should the ideal robot be? Should it crawl or walk? What tools will it need to manipulate its environment – and how will it survive extremes of pressure, temperature and chemical corrosion?

An impossible brainteaser for humans, nature has already solved this problem. Darwinian evolution has resulted in millions of species that are perfectly adapted to their environment. Although biological evolution takes millions of years, artificial evolution – modelling evolutionary processes inside a computer – can take place in hours, or even minutes. Computer scientists have been harnessing its power for decades, resulting in gas nozzles to satellite antennas that are ideally suited to their function, for instance.

But current artificial evolution of moving, physical objects still requires a great deal of human oversight, requiring a tight feedback loop between robot and human. If artificial evolution is to design a useful robot for exoplanetary exploration, we’ll need to remove the human from the loop. In essence, evolved robot designs must manufacture, assemble and test themselves autonomously – untethered from human oversight.

Unnatural selection

Any evolved robots will need to be capable of sensing their environment and have diverse means of moving – for example using wheels, jointed legs or even mixtures of the two. And to address the inevitable reality gap that occurs when transferring a design from software to hardware, it is also desirable for at least some evolution to take place in hardware – within an ecosystem of robots that evolve in real time and real space.

The Autonomous Robot Evolution (ARE) project addresses exactly this, bringing together scientists and engineers from four universities in an ambitious four-year project to develop this radical new technology.

We’re Teaching Robots To Evolve Autonomously – So They Can Adapt To Life Alone On Distant Planets
Robotic hardware will undergo natural selection in this cradle-to-grave facility. (Emma Hart, Author provided)

As depicted above, robots will be “born” through the use of 3D manufacturing. We use a new kind of hybrid hardware-software evolutionary architecture for design. That means that every physical robot has a digital clone. Physical robots are performance-tested in real-world environments, while their digital clones enter a software programme, where they undergo rapid simulated evolution. This hybrid system introduces a novel type of evolution: new generations can be produced from a union of the most successful traits from a virtual “mother” and a physical “father”.

As well as being rendered in our simulator, “child” robots produced via our hybrid evolution are also 3D-printed and introduced into a real-world, creche-like environment. The most successful individuals within this physical training centre make their “genetic code” available for reproduction and for the improvement of future generations, while less “fit” robots can simply be hoisted away and recycled into new ones as part of an ongoing evolutionary cycle.

Two years into the project, significant advances have been made. From a scientific perspective, we have designed new artificial evolutionary algorithms that have produced a diverse set of robots that drive or crawl, and can learn to navigate through complex mazes. These algorithms evolve both the body-plan and brain of the robot.

The brain contains a controller that determines how the robot moves, interpreting sensory information from the environment and translating this into motor controls. Once the robot is built, a learning algorithm quickly refines the child brain to account for any potential mismatch between its new body and its inherited brain.

From an engineering perspective, we have designed the “RoboFab” to fully automate manufacturing. This robotic arm attaches wires, sensors and other “organs” chosen by evolution to the robot’s 3D-printed chassis. We designed these components to facilitate swift assembly, giving the RoboFab access to a big toolbox of robot limbs and organs.

Waste disposal

The first major use case we plan to address is deploying this technology to design robots to undertake clean-up of legacy waste in a nuclear reactor – like that seen in the TV miniseries Chernobyl. Using humans for this task is both dangerous and expensive, and necessary robotic solutions remain to be developed.

Looking forward, the long-term vision is to develop the technology sufficiently to enable the evolution of entire autonomous robotic ecosystems that live and work for long periods in challenging and dynamic environments without the need for direct human oversight.

In this radical new paradigm, robots are conceived and born, rather than designed and manufactured. Such robots will fundamentally change the concept of machines, showcasing a new breed that can change their form and behaviour over time – just like us.

About Today's Contributor:

Emma Hart, Chair in Natural Computation, Edinburgh Napier University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license

We’re Teaching Robots To Evolve Autonomously – So They Can Adapt To Life Alone On Distant Planets
We’re Teaching Robots To Evolve Autonomously – So They Can Adapt To Life Alone On Distant Planets (Photo via Pixabay)

30 January 2021

5 Steps to Handle Constructive Criticism Like A Pro

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5 Steps to Handle Constructive Criticism Like A Pro
5 Steps to Handle Constructive Criticism Like A Pro (Photo by Andrew Wilus)
Wise people have learned how to handle criticism. They deal with it like any other feedback, calmly and judiciously. They try and see how they can use it to get ahead and meet their goals. Many people, however; find it hard not to react defensively or angrily. Some people even launch a counterattack and shift the blame to the critic. That behavior doesn’t win you any friends or help you get ahead.
Criticism is a fact of life, and the sooner you learn to handle it positively, the better you can use that feedback for your own success.

1. Before you React – Stop!

You will feel the reaction in your body before you can get the words out. And that is where you must stop. Don’t do anything, just breathe and take a moment to calm your defenses. Chances are, the other person won’t notice a thing, but it will give you time to compose yourself.

5 Steps to Handle Constructive Criticism Like A Pro
5 Steps to Handle Constructive Criticism Like A Pro (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio)

2. Remind Yourself that This is Feedback

Your composure time gives you a chance to remember that this criticism is an opportunity to learn something, possibly something valuable. Say to yourself, “This is not personal,” and repeat it as often as you need to until your initial reaction has passed.

3. Practice Your Active Listening

Feedback time is not a time to talk, it’s a time to listen. Try to understand what the other person is saying. Maybe it’s an aspect of your project or goal that you haven’t thought of yet. What initially feels like criticism may offer valuable insight.
Repeat back what you heard and seek clarification if you need to. This is not a time to analyze or push back, it’s a time to understand precisely what is being said.
5 Steps to Handle Constructive Criticism Like A Pro
5 Steps to Handle Constructive Criticism Like A Pro (Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko)

4. Thank Your Critic

Even if it makes you cringe inside, say thank you for the feedback. You don’t have to agree with what they’ve said to be sincerely appreciative of the input. After all, they took the time to say what they thought and give you some advice.

5. Process the Feedback

You may need some time to do this, or you might be able to do it on the spot. If your emotions are running high, it’s probably better to take a break and come back to deal with what has been said. Otherwise, it’s fine to ask questions to clarify the feedback, and maybe seek their suggestions on how to move forward.
Learning to deal constructively with criticism and feedback is an important skill, and one you will be glad you learned sooner rather than later.
5 Steps to Handle Constructive Criticism Like A Pro
5 Steps to Handle Constructive Criticism Like A Pro (Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko)

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29 January 2021

SpaceX Vs Nasa: Who Will Get Us To The Moon First? Here's How Their Latest Rockets Compare

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Nasa’s Space Launch System. (Nasa)
No-one has visited the Moon since 1972. But with the advent of commercial human spaceflight, the urge to return is resurgent and generating a new space race. Nasa has selected the private company SpaceX to be part of its commercial spaceflight operations, but the firm is also pursuing its own space exploration agenda.

To enable flights to the Moon and beyond, both Nasa and SpaceX are developing new heavy lift rockets: SpaceX’s Starship and Nasa’s Space Launch System.

But how do they differ and which one is more powerful?

Starship

Rockets go through multiple stages to get into orbit. By discarding spent fuel tanks while in flight, the rocket becomes lighter and therefore easier to accelerate. Once in operation, SpaceX’s launch system will be comprised of two stages: the launch vehicle known as Super Heavy and the Starship.

Super Heavy is powered by the Raptor rocket engine, burning a combination of liquid methane and liquid oxygen. The basic principle of a liquid fuel rocket engine is that two propellants, – a fuel such as kerosene and an oxidiser such as liquid oxygen – are brought together in a combustion chamber and ignited. The flame produces hot gas under high pressure which is expelled at high speed through the engine nozzle to produce thrust.

The rocket will provide 15 million pounds of thrust at launch, which is approximately twice as much as the rockets of the Apollo era. Atop the launcher sits the Starship, itself powered by another six Raptor engines and equipped with a large mission bay for accommodating satellites, compartments for up to 100 crew and even extra fuel tanks for refuelling in space, which is critical to long duration interplanetary human spaceflight.

SpaceX Vs Nasa: Who Will Get Us To The Moon First? Here's How Their Latest Rockets Compare
Super Heavy separating from Starship. (wikipedia, CC BY-SA)

The Starship is designed to operate both in the vacuum of space and within the atmospheres of Earth and Mars, using small moveable wings to glide to a desired landing zone.

Once over the landing area, the Starship flips into a vertical position and uses its on-board Raptor engines to make a powered descent and landing. It will have sufficient thrust to lift itself off the surface of Mars or the Moon, overcoming the weaker gravity of these worlds, and return to Earth – again making a powered soft landing. The Starship and Super Heavy are both fully reuseable and the entire system is designed to lift more than 100 tons of payload to the surface of the Moon or Mars.

The spacecraft is maturing rapidly. A recent test flight of the Starship prototype, the SN8, successfully demonstrated a number of the manoeuvres required to make this work. Unfortunately, there was a malfunction in one of the Raptor engines and the SN8 crashed on landing. Another test flight is expected in the coming days.

Nasa’s Space Launch System

The Space Launch System (SLS) from Nasa will be taking the crown from the discontinued Saturn V as the most powerful rocket the agency has ever used. The current incarnation (SLS block 1) stands at almost 100 metres tall.

The SLS core stage, containing more than 3.3 million litres of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen (equivalent to one-and-a-half Olympic size swimming pools), is powered by four RS-25 engines, three of which were used on the previous Space Shuttle. Their main difference from the Raptors is that they burn liquid hydrogen instead of methane.

SpaceX Vs Nasa: Who Will Get Us To The Moon First? Here's How Their Latest Rockets Compare
Stages of the SLS. (Nasa)

The core stage of the rocket is augmented by two solid rocket boosters, attached to its sides, providing a total combined thrust of 8.2 million pounds at launch - about 5% more than the Saturn V at launch. This will lift the spacecraft to low Earth orbit. The upper stage is intended to lift the attached payload – the astronaut capsule – out of Earth’s orbit and is a smaller liquid fuel stage powered by a single RL-10 engine (already in use by ATLAS and DELTA rockets) which is smaller and lighter than the RS-25.

The Space Launch System will send the Orion crew capsule, which can support up to six crew for 21 days, to the Moon as part of the Artemis-1 mission – a task that current Nasa rockets are currently not capable of performing.

It is intended to have large acrylic windows so astronauts can watch the journey. It will also have its own engine and fuel supply, as well as secondary propulsion systems for returning to the Earth. Future space stations, such as the Lunar Gateway, will serve as a logistical hub, which may include refuelling.

The core stage and booster rockets are unlikely to be reusable (instead of landing they will drop in the ocean), so there is a higher cost with the SLS system, both in materials and environmentally. It is designed to evolve to larger stages capable of carrying crew or cargo weighing up to 120 tonnes, which is potentially more than Starship.

SpaceX Vs Nasa: Who Will Get Us To The Moon First? Here's How Their Latest Rockets Compare
NASA’s SLS and SpaceX’s Starship, on the right, could both get us to the Moon and beyond. (Ian Whittaker/NASA/SpaceX, Author provided)

A lot of the technology being used in SLS is so-called “legacy equipment” in that it is adapted from previous missions, cutting down the research and development time. However, earlier this month, a test fire of the SLS core stage was stopped a minute into the eight-minute test due to a suspected component failure. No significant damage occurred, and the SLS program manager, John Honeycutt, stated: “I don’t think we’re looking at a significant design change.”

And the winner is…

So which spacecraft likely to reach carry a crew to the Moon first? Artemis 2 is planned as the first crewed mission using SLS to perform a flyby of the Moon and is expected to launch in August 2023. Whereas SpaceX has no specific date planned for crewed launch, they are running #dearMoon – a project involving lunar space tourism planned for 2023. Musk has also stated that a crewed Martian mission could take place as early as 2024, also using Starship.

Ultimately it is a competition between an agency that has had years of testing and experience but is limited by a fluctuating taxpayer budget and administration policy changes, and a company relatively new to the game but which has already launched 109 Falcon 9 rockets with a 98% success rate and has a dedicated long-term cash flow.

Whoever reaches the Moon first will inaugurate a new era of exploration of a world which still has much scientific value.

About Today's Contributors:

Gareth Dorrian, Post Doctoral Research Fellow in Space Science, University of Birmingham and Ian Whittaker, Senior Lecturer in Physics, Nottingham Trent University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

28 January 2021

4 Reasons We Should Embrace Criticism

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4 Reasons We Should Embrace Criticism
4 Reasons We Should Embrace Criticism (Photo by mentatdgt)
Being criticized never feels good. It can make you feel judged, as though you’re not good enough no matter how hard you try. Most people’s reaction to criticism is to get defensive, make excuses, or blame someone else. None of those options are especially constructive. 

It’s up to you how you choose to react to criticism. You can see it as a personal attack, or you can embrace it, get the positives out of it, and move on. 
  • If you feel skeptical about criticism having any benefits, here are some excellent reasons why you should embrace it. 

1. Use Criticism for Personal Growth

Often, criticism has more than a grain of truth in, even if it’s delivered a bit harshly. That’s partly why it makes you uncomfortable—deep down it rings true, even if you don’t want to admit it.

Think of criticism as another element in your personal development toolbox, one that offers insight you might otherwise miss. If nothing else, observing and managing how you react to criticism can shine a spotlight on your triggers, your unconscious reactions, and assumptions.

2. Develop Emotional Resilience

Criticism usually comes laden with emotions. You feel shamed, upset, and attacked. Learning to embrace criticism can help you become more emotionally resilient as you learn how to sit with your uncomfortable emotions instead of blindly reacting.

Practicing detachment takes you to a mental place where you can use your problem-solving skills. You can listen, assess, analyze, and work out what lessons to take away from the experience.

Embracing criticism can also help you step away from needing other people’s approval to feel good about yourself. Once you see criticism as potentially helpful feedback, it stops being a judgment of you as a person.

3. Improve Relationships

Once you stop reacting (or over-reacting) to feedback, you allow more space for openness, honesty, and better communication. People can talk to you about problems without feeling they have to walk on eggshells.

Embracing criticism makes for much better relationships as there are fewer barriers or ‘no go’ areas. You don’t want to be seen as prickly, difficult, or defensive, nor do you want to have your self-worth depend on other people’s good opinion of you.

4. Boost Self-Confidence

Embracing criticism will free you from the curse of perfectionism. You can accept that making mistakes is human, and that being criticized is actually okay, even helpful. Accept that criticism is part of everyday life and you’ll be more confident, happier, and freed up to be your best you.

4 Reasons We Should Embrace Criticism
4 Reasons We Should Embrace Criticism (Photo by Jill Wellington)

22 January 2021

One-Third Of Drivers Don't Know Their Drink-Drive Limit [Infographic]

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One-Third Of Drivers Don't Know Their Drink-Drive Limit [Infographic]
One-Third Of Drivers Don't Know Their Drink-Drive Limit (Please, scroll down to see full infographic)
There are few issues as serious and wide-spread in their risk to both drivers and pedestrians than the enduring problem of drink-driving. A recently announced infographic from Hilton Garage has taken a deeper look into some of the stats behind the reality of drink-driving, today, as well as the fundamental actions that we can all take to help.
In order to prevent the ongoing increase of drink-drive accidents on the road, Hilton Garage is encouraging people to be more aware of the steps that they can take to prevent such incidents from ever occurring. This includes being mindful of the risk, serving non-alcohol alternatives for people who are driving, keeping an eye on friends who may be at risk of drink-driving, and acting as a designated driver.
  • Furthermore, the infographic highlights just how many people don’t understand the laws revolving around drink-driving. Many currently don’t understand the drink-drive limits in terms of how much alcohol needs to be in their blood or breath to get them in danger, meaning that they not only risk the safety of themselves and others on or by the roads, they also run the risk of getting in trouble with the law.
Drink-driving continues to be a consistent and persistent issue across drivers of all ages. Driving under the influence is the number one causing factor of road accidents and injuries throughout the UK and, as a result, not only do drivers have a responsibility to avoid drinking and driving. We all have a responsibility to do what we can to prevent it.

The Infographic:

One-Third Of Drivers Don't Know Their Drink-Drive Limit [Infographic]
Infographic Design By Drink driving facts

19 January 2021

Online Money Making Tricks That Can Work For Anyone

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Online Money Making Tricks That Can Work For Anyone
Online Money Making Tricks That Can Work For Anyone (Photo by Karolina Grabowska)
If there’s one thing that’s abundantly clear these days, it’s that making money online is something that just about anybody can do with patience, persistence, and belief. If you can’t be bothered to put the time or the work in, then you are unlikely to make much money and will probably give up. However, you can use the techniques below to make money if you have the drive! Take a look and see how you could be making money online:

1: Create Content

Could you become a content creator? The good news is that you don’t need to be a super serious content creator to make money. You can make videos, edit them loosely, and still get views and make money. That being said, the more you improve and take this seriously, the more earning potential you have. You can make money from Instagram posts, YouTube videos, blogs, and other types of content. Some people follow content creators purely because they find them interesting. Some people prefer to have a niche. It’s up to you - the most important thing is that you’re consistent and that you attempt to make your content engaging and valuable in some way.

2: Offer Your Skills As a Tutor

Do you have knowledge on a specific subject? Can you speak a language very well, play an instrument, or are you just great at maths? You could offer your skills as an online tutor to kids, adults, or even both. Have a little faith in yourself and you could make money for simply sharing what you know.

Online Money Making Tricks That Can Work For Anyone
Online Money Making Tricks That Can Work For Anyone (Photo by Karolina Grabowska)

3: Sell Your Old Items

You don’t even need to do much to make money online - go through your things and see if you can sell your old items. Maybe you have clothes, CDs, or gadgets laying around. You could even sell larger items, such as a car or motorcycle online. It can be a little harder, but once you know the best way of moving a motorcycle you can set up the transaction pretty easily. Don’t hang on to things if you’re not using them!

4: Sell Your Photos and Videos

If you like to take photos and videos, you could potentially sell these to sites and get paid everytime somebody uses one. The pictures do need to be of a certain quality, but you don’t need to be a pro. You can even use your phone! Give it a go and see if it could work for you.

5: Write Ebooks

Writing ebooks could be fun if you love to write. It can take a while to build up your profile as a writer and get enough books to make money, but again, consistency is key.

6: Sell A Skill

Do you have a skill? Perhaps you could offer voice overs or logo design. There are all kinds of services people will pay for on sites like People Per Hour and Fiverr. You could even build your own website!

21 December 2020

We Are Facing A Difficult Winter – But Philosophy Can Help

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We Are Facing A Difficult Winter – But Philosophy Can Help
We Are Facing A Difficult Winter – But Philosophy Can Help (Photo by Sam Wordley)
All around the world, Christmas dreams are becoming nightmares. As R numbers increase and the epidemic spikes, people are seeing long cherished plans go up in smoke.

In England, plans have been curtailed as the five-day Christmas bubble which would have allowed three households to celebrate together has been reduced to one day for two households. For those in the new Tier 4, no household mixing at all is permitted.

After months of lockdowns and social distancing guidelines, many people will be feeling defeated – and exhausted by the prospect of a long winter to come, with further lockdowns possible before vaccines have been widely rolled out. If even the goal of spending one warm and happy day with friends and family cannot be attained, what is the point of all the hard work?

In times like this, though, we can find solace in a few philosophical ideas. One is the concept of human finitude. Simply put, human finitude means we are imperfect creatures with a limited lifespan. We are far from god-like; we do not have a god’s eye view, nor are we immortal.

In philosophy, finitude refers to the study of our human limitations. Many philosophers have explored finitude, including Kant, Heidegger, Levinas and Nietzsche.

This may seem an odd idea to cling to, but recognising that we are finite, imperfect creatures can bring comfort during trying times. It is understandable to feel bewilderment at changing government advice. It is understandable to resent other people telling us to stay away from our loved ones, and to feel deep sadness at cancelled plans. And it is understandable to begin to lose the resolve to do the right thing. If finitude tells us anything, it is that we are only human.

And as finite humans, we are vulnerable. Among other things, we can die, we can lie and we can be used against our wishes.

COVID-19 has taught us how intensively mutually vulnerable we really are. We depend on each other – but this dependency also puts us at risk. More socialising means an increase in virus transmission. Carrying on socialising during a spike in the epidemic might mean an increase in the number of people suffering severely from COVID-19, and a rise in the number of deaths.

So, while finitude tells us that it is understandable to feel the desire to break lockdowns and travel limits, vulnerability keeps us committed to doing the right thing by others – others who might be more vulnerable than us.

There is another philosophical concept that can keep us going in trying times. It is also more recognisably upbeat: hope.

Philosophically, there is a difference between good hope” and “bad hope. While bad hope is simply unrealistic optimism, good hope has warrant; it is based on the idea that goals and aspirations are possible, no matter how bad things seem.

In our current situation, hope is an attitude we have warrant to adopt: what we hope for is really possible. A vaccine is already being rolled out, and with it come warranted hopes: for summer meet-ups with family, holidays with friends, the continuance of lives and loves.

In fact, hope is also related to human finitude. Were we god-like, we would be immortal and all-knowing, and hope for how the future might turn out would be unnecessary. Uncertainty is an inescapable part of the human condition. Even when we cannot be certain of the end result of a commitment or aspiration, we can still hope.

It is understandable to feel resentment when plans are changed – and to feel the desire to ignore guidelines. Yet, recognising our mutual vulnerability means we cannot ignore the small voice telling us that the right thing to do is stay home. And hope can help us. Even as some hopes this Christmas are dashed, we can begin to formulate others. Spring is coming, and with it the hope of a better future.

About Today's Contributor:

Katy Dineen, Assistant Lecturer in Moral Responsibility and Political Theory, University College Cork

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

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