Reporters in China: Get around the Great Firewall

If you are a reporter visiting China, you may find yourself flumoxed by the Great Firewall. It’s a seriously troublesome beast that blocks Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, and YouTube among others, but I was able to get back in business.

I’m hoping these tips will be helpful to someone out there when they need them most:

Twitter: You can get to Twitter from inside China by going to: https://199.59.149.240/  Your browser might complain, but proceed anyway.

Everything Else: I recommend the free HotSpot Shield vpn software. It is not fast and has annoying ads, but it will get you to most places you need to go. It worked for most things, but when I needed to upload big files to YouTube, I shelled out $10 for a month of ExpressVPN. It worked great once I got their tech support involved.

A New Business in Five Easy Steps

In this special guest feature, James Kim from Choosewhat.com gets your new business going with five easy pieces.

Whether you are sick and tired of the office politics, or you just want to do something you love and earn money from it, setting up a business is probably something that you have thought about but always put off because you believe that it costs too much or you would never be able to do it.  Now you can set up your own business and with these five easy steps you will soon be well on your way to living the life of your dreams!  These steps provide you with everything you need from the legal entity to your online fax service.

Step one: Name of the business

What is a business without a name?  You might not be very creative, but that is not problem!  What if at a later date I don’t like the name I choose now? That’s fine; you can change it when you want to!  Remember your name needs to be captivating and alluring yet memorable and simple.  Try think of something that is easy to spell, easy to say and has not been used before.

Step two: Website and email

Now you need to visit websites like GoDaddy.com.  There you can check that your domain is available and then follow the process and select other services you want such as bandwidth, private registration and domain variations.  Complete the process and pay for what you have selected.  Be careful – not all domains are created equal – some domains are very expensive!

Many services are available for creating a website.  You can hire a web designer or many small businesses are creating their own using a “website builder”.  This is a suite of tools that will help you to step through the process by providing you with templates that allow you to drag and drop text, images and videos directly into the web page.   Many of the hosting companies also provide website builders.

You will also need to set up a business email account.  You have a variety of service providers for email accounts to choose from.  Hosting service providers like GoDaddy, 1&1 or Yola offer email accounts which can easily be added to your hosting package.  You could also use web based email providers like Gmail or Yahoo.

Step three: Office Space

Your office is the launching pad for your business.  You can use your home initially, but be aware that when your business expands and your home is no longer a viable as your office – you will need to move and that may be time consuming and expensive (all of your business marketing materials will need to be reprinted).

You can always rent office space – craigslist or a realtor can assist.  Alternatively, you can work from home but use office space that is rented by the hour for client meetings or conferences.  Regus is one company that has these services in many metropolitan areas.

Step four: Business entity

Although this is not a very exciting step, it is necessary for a successful business.  You need to do research on the types of business entities available and decide on which entity will suite you the best.  The most popular for a new business is the Limited Liability Company (LLC) but you can also do research into corporations, limited partnerships, general partnerships and sole proprietorships.  A Limited Liability Company provides you with the same benefits of a corporation in limited liability and a partnership in favorable tax treatment.  Once you have your LLC you will get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) which you need to open a company bank account or purchase insurance or apply for a loan.

Step five: Networking and Marketing

So now you have the business all set up and ready to go, you need clients of course!  The most popular way of letting people know that you are ready to provide them with your specific service is email marketing.  Companies like MailChimp or Benchmark Email will gladly help you with your email marketing.

Business cards are still a must!  They provide legitimacy and allow you to do both marketing and networking all at once!  A business card which is professional and interesting gives you something real to hand out to prospective clients.

Now you can sit back and have a cup of coffee while you wait for your first client to give you a call!  For further information on setting up a business visit www.ChooseWhat.com.  With these easy steps all done you are on the road to having a successful business!

iPad as Word Processor: Stowaway Bluetooth Keyboard

Today I tested out my new iPad as a word processing device.

Think Outside Stowaway Keyboard

Deep in my box of old gizmos, I found a ThinkOutside Stowaway bluetooth keyboard. I was pleasantly surprised when it synced up with my new iPad without much fuss. It looks like ThinkOutside doesn’t exist anymore, so I had a tough time finding a manual for the keyboard on the Net. Here is the PDF manual in case you want to try this device for yourself.

The keyboard unfolds

Connecting to the iPad over Bluetooth is relatively simple. Here are the steps:

  1. Turn the keyboard on by unfolding it. If there is no flashing LED, then press Ctrl and both the Function keys at the same time. A green LED should start blinking above the T key. This means the keyboard is in discovery mode. If the thing doesn’t blink, make sure it has fresh AAA batteries.
  2. Open the Settings utility on your iPad. Select:  General >> Bluetooth >> On >> Devices >> Think Outside Keyboard.
  3. The iPad will prompt you to enter a five-digit code number. On the keyboard hold down the BLUE Function key and then enter the numbers. This is necessary because the keyboard shares numbers with the top row of letters.
  4. The iPad display should now say “Connected.” You can now quit the Settings application and start a word processing application.

Which application is best to use? First I tried Google Docs. No dice. You can only display documents on the iPad, not edit them. Bummer. There is an app called Office2 HD that will make your iPad work with Google docs, but according to the reviews, it is really buggy at the moment. I personally didn’t want to purchase the Pages app either, since I don’t have it on my Mac and because it reportedly strips out the macros from Word docs.

For now, I settled on using Evernote for raw text entry. It does autocorrect common spelling mistakes by default, and it automatically saves to the cloud, which is nice if you want to format and add links to your document later. Not a perfect solution but nice. Note that it doesn’t save your notes locally, so Evernote requires a WiFi connection to work on the iPad.

If you are offline, the Notes app is fine for text entry. I will try to finish this article on Notes to see how that goes.

The Stowaway does have a stand for your iPad, but it wasn’t designed to hold up anything this heavy. As a result your iPad will fall backward easily, which is not good. Making the keyboard into a steady, reliable stand is going to require a small modification.

The display stand fix: a piece of a toothpick glued to the base

While there are probably a lot of ways to do this, I elected to glue a toothpick onto the base of the keyboard stand. This provides a “bump” that prevents the stand from reclining past it’s first position. There are likely many ways to accomplish this objective, but this one does the job and does not interfere at all with the folding of the keyboard when you’re done.

The iPad Word Processor is ready to go

So now that I have determined that it is possible to use the iPad as a decent word processor, the question in your mind has to be: Why not just use a laptop? Well, the answer for me comes down to portability and battery life. With my leather sleeve case, the iPad is as easy to carry as a small book, so I don’t need to haul a backpack around anymore. And with it’s ten hours of battery life, the iPad works all day without needing to plug into the wall. In other words, it’s about freedom, and who can knock that?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 139 other followers