Why I Made An App That Feeds Poor Children.

No, the title of this article is not misleading to bring in more clicks. I really made an app that feeds poor children.

I launched it few days back. It’s an app that improves your vocabulary and a part of the revenue goes to feeding poor children. Every time someone visits the app, 10 paise is donated ( think Freerice).

But why I did this?

Because I always wanted to , be it my imaginary entrepreneurial venture of a t-shirt company where each different t-shirt would donate to a different organization or be it an app that improves vocabulary, if the margins aren’t too thin, then donating for a cause with every purchase, every session should be there in all the ventures.

But advertisement revenue is very low and most of the times apps do not make any money!!

Yes, I know that, and I also know 10 paise per session isn’t even what I earn right now but I hate banner ads, pop-up ads and am a firm believer in native advertisement and that’s what I plan to do, native advertisement between the words in my app, something that mixes well with the whole app experience.

There are no ads right now, I don’t even make any money (not a surprise) , where are the donations coming from.

From my own pocket, given the modest traffic received, I am not donating a fortune yet. Also, donations are to be made bimonthly, hence the date for first donation is more than a month away.

Does it have any impact on users?

Yes, users love the fact that they get to do some good work while doing good for themselves. Gamification might be a great way to engage users, but if you can make them feel good about themselves, nothing can beat that.

Am I looking for sponsorship?

Yes, Yes, Yes. In less than 10 days of launch, we made it to the front page of hackernews (thank you hackernews community for your compliments and constructive feedback). We have seen users from 90+ countries, 500+ downloads (different app stores like Amazon app store, 1market etc combined and also Firefox OS) and more than 2k+ views.

We are launching our first advertisement at an initial CPM rate of $5 (min campaign budget — $100) and given our humble traffic right now, your ad can be there for at least a month. Interested in sponsoring us? Click here.

Thanks for reading, you can try the app here.

Submit your files.

Brain training games, commercialized and made popular by big companies like Lumosity, Posit Science are quite in trend. Brain training games claim to improve a person’s mental abilities through games. So a game to improve your memory may  revolve around you being able to remember a pattern of shapes, or a game for improving your mental processing will make you answer questions based on text that you read word by word at 300+ plus words per minute speed.
Isn’t it amazing? Play games to improve your memory. You regularly play a game for improving memory averaging a score of 20 today and six months down the lane it moves north of 100. Your memory has improved, right?
This may disappoint you but there are nice chances that the answer to that is no. Brain games are innocuous, so there’s no need to worry,they do make you use your brain, and that’s not harmful at all.
But one question is enough to doubt all the ‘ science’ that is mentioned on science section of all the websites of these popular brain training brands.
‘ Yes, today you might be scoring in 20s and six month later in 100s, but is it improving your memory, or are just getting better at playing the game?’
In our entire school and college time, making files , exam performances are highly emphasised upon. A good student is often supposed to be the one who makes the best files, does the assignment first etc. And the example about brain training games should make us a ponder and reflect upon one question ‘ By making devotional efforts to complete files and assignments, are you becoming a good student, is your acumen regarding a subject increasing or are you just becoming good at making files?’
In fact the whole education system is  so much based on quantitative measures to gauge the quality of students that students are just being trained to raise their quality, follow the system rather than becoming more savant in the subject.
I have no hard feelings against making files, after all who doesn’t enjoy an activity that can be a measure of your productivity, pseudo productivity. After all, listening to music and copying from other files or internet just to fill sheets isn’t a productive activity, is it? This is the way most students does it, I follow this path too more often than not.
It’s hard to count the number of things that we just do, just follow without asking ourselves why we are doing it. It’s not about whether something is good or bad, it’s about why it is the way it is, how it’s beneficial for us, can it help you become a better person than you are today? It’s time you asked a few questions about the activities you do just for the sake of it or for external benefits.
I would have written more but I have an urgent file to submit tomorrow.

3 ways anonymous apps can improve your writing

 

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Online anonymity will be the only anonymity we will have in upcoming days – A popular tech blog

The growth of apps like Secret,  Whisper, Yik Yak etc has shown the growing need for anonymity in our lives. These social networking apps work like Facebook but have one gigantic difference,  anonymity. You can share your experiences, photos,  ideas or  anything without letting the others know who you are. These apps promote open discussions and social interactions among people unmatched by any other platform.

But do you know that these apps can make you a better writer too? Here are three ways anonymous app can help you become a better writer –

1. Know what’s interesting – Reality is stranger than fiction. These apps prove that this saying is nothing but true. People share true instances (hopefully) of their lives that will make you think ” Seriously, people do that?”. You can browse the top most posts in your area or all over app and get some really cool ideas for your stories.

2. Validate your ideas – Do you have some story ideas in yourmind? Do you want to write down some of your life instances as a book? Can you summarise your ideas in a few words? If the answer to these questions is yes, then you must share your ideas on these apps. See what works, observe what people are liking and work on those ideas to churn out interesting content.

3. Open up – One of the biggest advantage these apps provide is the ability to be yourself without any fear of what others will think of you. Make this advantage work for you. Being bold and open about yourself is a great feature to have as a writer. Share more, connect more, be more open and awesome.

 

Do you know of any other ways how these apps can be used for improving your writing? Share your ideas in the comments.

How not be afraid of failure

We often stop ourselves from doing something good or making a change in our lives just because of the fear of failure. The fear of failure has paralysed more people than imaginable from doing wonderful things in their lives including you.

Ask yourself, how many times you stopped yourself from starting something, writing something, approaching an influential person just because of the fear of failure and rejection. But what if failure wasn’t a bad thing?

The one secret to doing and achieving more in life is changing your perspective about failure. Start looking at it as something that helps you become a better person rather than a loser you think you become if you fail.

Here is a good way to look at failure. See it as a learning experience rather than time and efforts wasted.

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Fail

How to innovate daily?

Using the science of motivation to foster creativity.

 

“All of you are free to help the children the way you want to through the medium of workshops, counselling, teaching etc,” announced the head of the N.G.O where me and my fellow classmates of my psychology class were present to help the students of a school ran by the N.G.O. The statement announced our freedom to help the students the way we wanted to, pushing us to innovate and think creatively. As a result , with workshops in the domain of sex education to personal level counselling, we helped the students in more ways than we could have imagined.

Human beings are creative beings. We sit down with a tissue paper and a pen, we scribble doodles, we sit together with friends and create poems with rhyming lines with each friend coming up with a new line ( no matter how nonsense) , we are born creative. Whatever we create and innovate as a result of our creativity is our own natural extension. Hence there is no doubt that a lot of people feel suffocated and that there is no growth occurring in their life where creativity is hindered, e.g — most of 9 to 5 jobs.

In the age of ever growing competition, innovating daily is more of a necessity rather than a choice and creativity is an important part of that.
But in a world where we consume more than we create, where often times our work forces us to be in an environment where creativity is hindered, the big question is how to motivate people (employees, students etc) to create and think in a convergent fashion.

The answer lies in the science of motivation especially in autonomy, intrinsic motivation, progress analysis and persistence

Autonomy is an important factor for motivating people, when people feel that they are free , independent and responsible for their actions, they are more motivated towards the task provided ( here task = think creatively). Google has been known to assign one hour break to its employees where they are free to innovate, to come up with new products in an environment of boundless freedom in creative terms. The result, a lot of popular Google products like AdSense came out of this free hour.

Furthermore an environment of unrestricted creativity allow people to do what they ‘want to’ do, innovate in the way they ‘want to’ do it. When people are doing something out of love for the task, for the inherent satisfaction that activity provides, they are intrinsically motivated. It has been found that people work better when they are intrinsically motivated rather than extrinsically motivated (based on punishments and rewards). In fact if you force people to innovate and think creatively through rewards, you may end up causing more harm than good as extrinsic motivation often kills intrinsic motivation.

While providing freedom and autonomy maybe very important in promoting creativity, an important trick is to analyse one’s progress throughout these creative efforts. Analyzing our progress motivates us to progress furthermore. Example — keeping yourself updated about the progress of your book ( word count, chapters) is highly likely to push you to write further rather than leaving your project in between.

Last but not the least , the most under looked element of creative thinking is persistence and continuous efforts to think creatively and innovate. While we are naturally made to be creative, it’s helpful to keep in mind that it requires ceaseless efforts and disciplined approach to use your creative abilities effectively the same way a skillful dancer requires disciplined and continuous practice to master his/her skills.

Before you continue with your creative pursuits , feel free to share and make my day

A Thought For The Internet Age

You are leaving for your work, ready for the day, brimming with excitement or most likely not, your smartphone fully charged and your mind conditioned almost in a Pavlovian way to scan through the endless stream of emails, tweets, posts, news, stories where you read a lot yet learn nothing. You look at the Calender resting on top of your fridge that displays a new quote for every single day in the year that you forget to notice more often than not. But today is not like the others because it’s not everyday that you find a quote so relevant to your daily life that you cease your movement despite being in a rush and reflect upon the your planned activities and rethink them. Go ahead read it, maybe it will have the same effect on you.

                             

A 2 minute crash course in writing effective ebooks

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The world wide web, since its inception 25 years ago, has been successful in fulfilling its primary aim, that is to empower everyone with the required information. Today information is available in abundance but the quantity acts more of a con rather than a pro. The hardest thing nowadays is to extract meaningful information that is really useful from the endless stream of data.

That’s where ebooks come in, and I am talking about the information providing ebooks that can often be the best way to gain organic growth towards your brand, startup or yourself. An ebook can help you establish trust and authority among your prospective customers, readers.

It is said that people go for a ebook not because of its ‘originality’ but because of the convenience it provides in terms of gaining knowledge about a particular topic.

Here are the four problems that an useful ebook solve vs the abundant data already available online :

It extracts the essential information

Pick any topic and you will find more than enough information available online for free, a plethora of articles. More often than not these articles have little useful information ( information that can be explained in a few lines) and are extended purposefully for the sake of looking like an article. A good ebook contains only the useful information that provides value to the reader.

Good information is scattered. An ebook curates it.

Let’s say you search for tips regarding xyz, although you are bound to find good information but chances are high that all the good content, tips and advises will be available in a single place. A major reason people go for ebooks is that they have the comfort of having all the important information in a single place rather than having the same information scattered of multiple places.

It solves the problem of repeated content

Type in any hot buzzword and you are most likely to get articles such as — “5 ways to……”, “10 things you did not know about….”, “The best advice to……”, “How top people do…….”, “The most effective way to…”, “Doing this can make you more…”.

You open up all those articles to find that most of them are the same, centered around the similar piece of information, the same dish served in a different platter. Hence ebooks solve the problem of repeated content and saves the reader his/her most valuable asset — time.

Ebooks have the ‘Flow’

This probably is the best feature about reading stuff in a book format, books have a flow, the chapters are connected with each other and provide a flow that makes it easier to digest the content. Effective books beautifully transition from discussing about the problem to finally suggesting solutions to the problem.

A better blogging platform?

I recently questioned people on quora “Medium vs Quora, which is a better blogging platform?”. These are relatively new blogging platforms and if you have time, feel free to check them out, they are really good. Unfortunately I was unable to receive a suitable answer and had to research myself. Here are the results :

First of all, both the mediums are way different (and way less developed) than regular blogging platforms like WordPress, Blogger and so on.

To review both the platforms, I posted my most liked post from my blog on both the sites. Here is my experience:

Medium – First of all, Medium is great looking — the UI, readability, everything. There is nice content rolling in already. But still I don’t get it — what’s all the fuss about? I mean Medium is a well-made product but nothing revolutionary or such coming from the guy who brought us Blogger.

The editor is easy to use but lacks a lot of features. I know another startup named Marquee that lets you create beautiful content too just like Medium. When you post something, you have to put it in a collection or you can create one.

I posted my article in a collection hoping to get more visibility. Right now, you may get to see posts in a collection that are not relevant to it but is a great feature.

Plus there are no like, dislike or share buttons. You can recommend something (which is simply sharing the article on Twitter). Plus I noticed that you can select a particular text and add notes to it. That seemed pretty great.

Medium is great for collaborative purposes. It’s going be great for people who create content together but as far as others (the majority) are others are concerned, they would not mind sticking to their current blogging platform. Another thing that I noticed that unlike others blogging platforms, you don’t get ayou.Bloggingplatform.Com sub-domain.

Let’s talk about stats. After posting my article, I got 4 views within 2 days.
I know it’s not a lot. But there is a particular section in stats called Reading Ratio which displayed 100% meaning people who clicked on the headline actually read the full post (that gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling).

Overall Medium is going to appeal to a certain section of users for now but that section is going to love it. In fact, I like it too but it still needs a lots of improvements.

Quora as a blogging platform — well there’s nothing much to say except that it’s unbelievable in terms of views. I know when the Quora team officially introduced the blogging platform they talked about how much traffic users already get on an average. My post received 50+ views within two days, no posting to other sites, nothing. In fact just after refreshing the page after posting my article I received 4 views and after another second, 7 views.

The editor is kind of usual, not so pleasing to the eyes but has all the features one needs to have. Though the final result is nice and highly readable. You can share, comment and so on.

The only thing that makes Quora a better blogging platform is that your post can be discovered by people (most of them actually willing to read your stuff). And just like on everything else, you can see who exactly viewed your post, which is more than amazing.

As of now I guess I will use both the platforms, after all it just takes a moment or so for posting your stuff but my inclinations are largely towards Quora because of the community of readers here.

Here is my blog (not my primary one) on Quora – That Creativity Blog.

You can read the article that I have posted on the both the sites there.

Cheaper Devices, Greater Accessibility, Wider Reach

“You are reading an excerpt from the free e-book Self Publishing in 2013. You can download it here.

Thanks to the recent advancements in technology, devices that cost a lot will become cheaper, who knows, even free.

Yes free, but why would someone give away devices like Smartphones and e-readers for free?

Well, it’s all about the ecosystem. Let’s say you bought a Kindle reader, a one time investment, and just a few dollars of profits for Amazon. But think of all the books you buy from the Kindle e-store and will continue to buy, Amazon takes its charges for all the books you purchase and that’s where the real money is.

That’s how it works in the Android ecosystem, the Ios system. Every time you purchase an app, these companies make a profit. So there is nothing to be surprised about if someone in the future says to you “Hey! Have heard about that free Smartphone.” It’s possible , because they want you to become a part of their ecosystem.

Now for you, as a self publisher it means a greater number of potential readers. After all, a recent study says that most of the tablet users spend the largest portion of their time reading.

A little advice : Different devices mean different sized screens, make sure your book is formatted perfectly for the perfect reading experience on all the devices.

So the world didn’t end, but I found a great movie about it.

Well, the world didn’t end. Good thing. My Facebook feed was populated with the joke about how people will be celebrating fool’s day on 21 December from now onwards.

But hey, writers wrote amazing books about this apocalypse and many great movies were made about it, that helped us in believing that “Hey! Maybe the world could actually end on 21st December.”

But one great movie I found yesterday was this short film called “Forever Not So Long”. It’s an award winning film, in the romance , comedy genre. I believe you guys will enjoy the movie. Here it is:

Forever’s Not So Long from garrettmurray on Vimeo.