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Quake hits northwest China; 75 dead

(CNN) — Rescue teams are scrambling to reach the site of Monday morning’s strong and shallow earthquake in northwest China that has killed at least 75 people, according to state media.
Another 584 people were injured in the quake which tore through Gansu Province, state media reported.
The quake hit along the border of two counties — Min and Zhang — at around 7:45 a.m. local time, according to state news agency Xinhua.
Emergency services are converging on the area, including the Red Cross Society of China, which is sending 200 tents and other supplies to shelter and sustain those left without homes.
According to state broadcaster CCTV, Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged crews to prioritize the rescue of survivors and minimize casualties.
The original quake and powerful aftershocks caused roofs to collapse, cut telecommunications lines and damaged a major highway linking the provincial capital of Lanzhou to the south, according to the China Daily newspaper.
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More than 300 armed police troops and 64 heavy machines have been dispatched to repair National Highway No. 212, the paper reported. Train services in the area have also been suspended.
Rescue efforts are expected to be hampered by heavy rain that’s soaked the region in recent weeks. More rain is forecast and experts have warned about potential landslides.
According to the Gansu Provincial Seismological Bureau, the quake registered a magnitude of 6.6, however the U.S. Geological Survey said it was a 5.9-magnitude tremor, which struck at the relatively shallow depth of about half a mile (1 kilometer).
The epicenter was eight miles (13 kilometers) east of Chabu and 110 miles (177 kilometers) south-southeast of Lanzhou, the USGS said.
Tremors were still being felt from the quake, Xinhua said, quoting sources within the Min County government. Locals said buildings and trees shook for about a minute.
Residents within the earthquake zone took to Weibo — China’s version of Twitter — soon after to describe how the earth shook.
“This morning at 7:40 I was brushing my teeth, all of a sudden everything shook for a few moments, I thought I didn’t get enough sleep last night and was feeling dizzy,” @wyyy wrote. “Turns out it was an earthquake, sigh, seems that with the huge rain downpour outside, we really don’t know how much longer this planet is going to let us live here.”
Another, @dengdjianjyany, said: “Gansu earthquake. So many natural disasters in so short a time, another flood, another landslide, another earthquake, another something. And it’s not finished, my God ~ is there any safe place left? Wish everybody a life of peace”
@Heidiping: “Another earthquake, life really is fragile, survivors, be at peace!”

 

Annakodi – Review

June 28, 2013 1 comment

It was a rather disappointing term, as it took five years and further delay for director Bharathiraja to deliver his next bout of creativity. As he quotes often, across the length and breadth of Tamil Nadu, many of the small towns and villages have a tale of their own, narrating their part of the world with staunch beliefs, faith and customary practices. Known to boldly highlight that which is often either taken for granted or shied away from, Bharathiraja usually ensures that he has left no stone unturned, in each of his movie. This is what guaranteed him six national awards, for his classic yesteryear entertainers.

A journey that began in ’16 Vayathinile’, awarded him a choice award right in his debut. Proceeding on a journey through ‘Kizhake Pogum Rail’, ‘Sigappu Rojakal’, ‘Nizhalgal’, ‘Oru Kaidhiyin Diary’, ‘Tik Tik Tik’ and many more, Bharathiraja became a brand name. With National Award winning films like ‘Mudhal Mariyadhai’ and ‘Karuthamma’, he brought out the best that Kollywood can deliver. Among most of his movies, there has been a fine thread of similarity, that brings out one of the deadliest plague of the society – caste bias and discrimination. Expressed vividly in ‘Alaigal Oivathillai’ and ‘Karuthamma’, the typical Bharathiraja touch has been about love that blooms and flourishes beyond societal stereotypes like caste, creed and money – which, disappointingly, falls emotionless and flat in ‘Annakodi’.

First there was speculation about the name, then the release date and then the movie itself; all this had only increased the expectations movie, for when there is a controversy, there’s bound to a success story. Unfortunately, none of that marketing worked the trick here. First things first – the film is period set, probably close to independence, which is evident in the police’s half pants. Two small villages that nurture the hero and heroine each, and as predictable as it can get, the two populus are eternally at customary loggerheads. And there begins the saga of love. Starting off at a mutual taunting misunderstanding, as it most often happens, the two fall madly in love with one another. There is a bad yet influential man in the village, who composes the rest of the story, and who gets who in the end, is ultimately all ‘Annakodi’ is about. Well, easier said than done.

Bharathiraja has always defined love in new and out-of-the-box the box explanations. This one is also an off-beat portrayal of how the lead pair influence the life of one another and change their lives forever. Set in the backdrop of draught stricken village that thrives on farmer and shepherd population, forms an easy excuse for the love birds to join hands stealthily every now and then. This delivers a definite earthen feeling, where the director scores high, as always. Add to this, there are a lot more twists in the story, than you can ever imagine. However, despite all this, it is quite monotonous.

The second half is quite a balm, but not sure whether it is because there is a much needed break in between, or because there is actually more stuff per scene than the former. The last hour brings out most of what was intended to be a part of the movie – it ranges between love, separation, angst and anger. Going further, the movie gets highly predictable at every frame, and the story is no suspense. As if caught up in a drama competition, running out of time, climax is quite sudden, but comes as an entertaining relief.

On the other hand, everyone is advancing and becoming up to date, and our dear director is no exception to the rule. The bad side of the advancement is exposure and raw details, a glimpse of which was served in the teasers. Although the government cleared the film with U/A at the Censor Board, no adult may want the a child watching it, even under their supervision. Since it is a big director’s movie, Lakshman Narayan, Karthika and Manoj are to get a big break, but their contribution on this regard seems too little. GV Prakash has done a good job with regard to background score and music, and justifies the movie to the best extent possible, from his side of work. Picture is crystal clear, so make up could have taken care of, a little better. If the teaser made you squirm in your seat, then please be informed that it was after all only the teaser, while the whole movie lies ahead of it.

In all, the movie is a hard core love struggle, the burden of which reaches the audience by all means. After all the painful wait and suspense about the movie, the output is not quite satiating; and it is disappointing that this comes from one of the most sought after directors. To savour your earthen tastes, and for your love for the director, you can try and sit through the two hours odd long story once.

Verdict: You may like it for Bharathiraja

Rating: 1.75/5

Facebook introduces video on Instagram

June 22, 2013 5 comments

BaltNEW YORK: Facebook is adding video to its popular photo-sharing app Instagram, following in the heels of Twitter’s growing video-sharing app, Vine.

Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom said on Thursday that users will be able to record and share 15-second clips by tapping a video icon in the app. They can also apply filters to videos to add contrast, make them black and white or different hues.

“This is the same Instagram we all know and love but it moves,” he said at an event held at Facebook’s Menlo Park, California, headquarters.

Vine, which launched in January, has 13 million users and lets people create and share 6-second video clips. Instagram has 100 million users, up from 20 million when Facebook bought the company more than a year ago. If users like it, Facebook’s move could propel mobile video sharing into the mainstream.

To use the video feature, Instagram users can tap on the same camera icon they use to snap photos. A new video camera icon will appear on the right side. Tap it and a screen with a red video button will let you record clips of sunsets, kids running in parks or co-workers staring at their computer screens.

The app will record as long as your finger is on the red button or for 15 seconds, whichever comes first. Not unlike Vine, taking your finger off the button will stop the recording, allowing you to shoot the scene from a different angle or record something else altogether. Once you have 15 seconds of footage, you can play it from the beginning and post it on Instagram to share with others.

Given Vine’s popularity, “it is perhaps more surprising that Facebook has not introduced video for Instagram sooner. There is no doubt Twitter will move quickly to up the ante on Vine and this could undercut Facebook’s efforts with video on Instagram,” said Eden Zoller, principal consumer analyst at Ovum, a technology research firm.

Step-by-Step guide to Facebook Conversion Tracking

Step 1: Once you log in to your ‘Ads Manager’ tab, click on the Conversion Tracking button on the left side bar.

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Step 2: Then click on the ‘Create Conversion Pixel’ tab to begin the process.

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Step 3: You will be directed to this pop-up, which will ask you for a:

1. Name: An appropriate name will help you remember what you are tracking. (Example: Lead Generation – GATE Ad)

2. Category: This will help you decide the type of action that you want to track on your site. You can choose from the following:

1. Checkouts

2. Registrations

3. Leads

4. Key Page Views

5. Adds to Cart

6. Other Website Conversions

(For the purpose of this example, we have selected ‘Leads’).

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Step 4: You will be able to see a pop-up window with a JavaScript code. This is the code that you will have to add to the page where the conversion will happen. This will let you track the conversions back to ads which you are running on Facebook.

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The code should be placed on the page that a user will finally see when the transaction is complete.

Here is the tricky part. The code should not go on all pages. For that matter, it should not even go to the landing page of your product. The code should be placed on the page that a user will finally see when the transaction is complete.

For Example: If you want to track when students register for your GATE coaching, paste the code on the registration confirmation page/thank you page and not on the form that they need to submit.

How do you confirm that your conversion is working properly?

1. Check that the javascript snippet has been placed on the correct conversion page. Visit the page where the pixel has been embedded, right click and go to ‘View Page Source’ to find the pixel. The code should have the tag of the HTML. See image below.

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2. Check that Facebook is receiving the conversion events from your website. Go to the conversion tracking tab in your Ads Manager account. There you will see a list of the conversion tracking pixels that you have created. If the conversion tracking pixel has been successfully implemented and a conversion event has been recorded, it will be reflected in the Pixel Status column. If the status shows active, it means that the page which contains the pixel has been viewed by users. If it shows inactive, it means that over the last 24 hours, the page with the pixel has not been viewed.

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3.Later, when you  create your Facebook ad , you need to check the track conversions box under the campaign, pricing and schedule tab to enable tracking.

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How to create Facebook Ads in 8 Steps

June 6, 2013 3 comments

Like Facebook says it, “Over 1 billion people. We’ll help you reach the right ones.”

The ultimate goal for any marketer/business owner is to convert his leads into customers. However, for leads to convert, you need to get hold of them first, right? Running ads on social media biggie, Facebook is a time tested approach to grab attention and get more leads for your business.

There are multiple ways to run ads/promoted posts on Facebook. Today, I will discuss how to create Facebook ads in 8 simple steps. Let us take the example of a GATE coaching institute trying to capture student leads through Facebook. For those of you who don’t know, GATE stands for Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering, and is an all India examination for Engineering in MSc, MTech and PhD programmes. (This article is relevant for Facebook beginners).FB-1

Here is how to create Facebook ads

Step 1 – Logging into Facebook

Log into your Facebook account using your personal or business profile and go to the ‘Advertise’ page. You will get this in the drop down menu next to the settings button on your home page.

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Step 2 – Start Creating Your Ad

You will be led to this page as shown below. Click on the “Create an Ad” tab to begin the process of creating an ad for Facebook.
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Step 3 – Select Facebook Page/Landing Page to Promote 

The words, ‘What do you want to advertise?’ in the next section are pretty much comprehensible. This is where you choose the place, page, app or event that you would like to promote. For example: Here we are advertising a page which is dedicated toward GATE coaching.You can also add your own URL or landing page. Check out how you can create a Facebook Landing Page for lead capture.
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Step 4 – Set the Ad Objective

Your next step is named, ‘What would you like to do?’ Here you can choose to:

  1. Get more page likes: Drive more Facebook users to your ad/page.
  2. Promote page posts: Promote a particular post out of all the posts that you have made on your page, ex. a blog post, picture etc. This will not only enhance your reach, but also your chances to be placed in news feeds – the center column of your home page.
  3. See advanced options: Drive traffic to your website. You can configure your advanced creative and pricing options. This is so intricate that you can also bid for the number of clicks on a particular post. (Remember, each category is different and offers different features to help you target your audience better.)

Since our main goal here is to collect leads and get better control over our ads, we will opt for the ‘See Advanced Options’. 

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Step 5 – Create the Ad copy 

You begin designing ‘Your ad’ here. FB ads are simple, comprising 25 character headline and a 90 character description. You can also add a thumbnail photograph measuring 100 pixels x 72 pixels here. Make sure to keep it very relevant for your audience. For instance, if you are a GATE institute, this would be a good ad copy:

Looking for Best Coaching for GATE? Join Now – 1 Week Free Trial Period!

You can then set the landing page of the ad. For instance, you can choose to land the visitors on your Facebook Page’s timeline, or a lead capture page (when you are aiming at lead capture, it is recommended that you set a landing page, instead of directing people to the timeline). Here’s how you can create one and the image on your right shows how your ad will look.

*Do go through these guidelines before you create your ad copy.*

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Step 6 – Choose your Audience

Next, you narrow down your target audience under the ‘Choose your audience’ category. Before we begin, in the image shown below, see the number of people under ‘Audience’ section before the filters have been set.

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This is the most important step, as this is where you choose your perfect target.

  1. Location: You can micro target by location (state/city/zip code). Ex: Students on Facebook giving GATE ‘14 exams will be India specific only. If you are a physical institute based in Bangalore, you might want to choose by city: Bangalore, Nelamangala, Hosur etc.
  2. Age: You can also target by age. Ex: GATE will mostly include students who have completed/ pursuing their B.Tech – 22-24 years.
  3. Gender: You can also choose gender, based on the kind of ad you are advertising. Here, since we are talking about exam specific ads, gender will be categorized as ‘All’.
  4. Precise Interests: Under the ‘Precise Interests’ section, you can choose interests that you are looking for in your target audience. In this case, your interests can be Engineering, IIT, studies etc. Once you have entered precise interest, you don’t have to choose the broader interest.

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If you have opted for the ‘Advanced options’ under the ad category, you can also detail down to relationship status, languages spoken, college attended and workplace.  By the process of trial and error, you can boil down your audience from a whopping 167 million users in the US to as few as 1 lakh people in India or a particular city.

Now, take a look at the image shown below which shows the targeted audience once the filters have been set.

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Step 7 – Campaign Pricing and Schedule Options

This step is ‘Campaign, Pricing and Schedule’ for your Facebook ad.

  1. Choose the currency, country and time zone in which you are placing your ad.
  2. The ‘New Campaign Name’ should be distinct and definite.
  3. Next, choose how much you are willing to spend for your ad campaign. You can choose from a daily budget or a lump sum amount that you will spend for as long as the ad runs. (Payments on Facebook are either pay-per-click – you pay every time someone clicks your ad or per thousand impressions – you pay every time 1000 people see your ad.) We have opted for the Pay-per-click payment service.

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Step 8 – Review your Ad

Once you ‘Review your ad’, you will be able to see the details of your ads that you have fed and how your ad will look. Next, you will be prompted to make payments for your ad. You can use a credit/debit card, PayPal or Facebook ad coupon.

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Facebook will hold your ad for review for a minimum of 24 hours. Your ad will either appear in news feeds or in the right column of any page in search results.Later, you can use the ‘Ads Manager tool’ to keep track of your ads’ progress.

So, this is how to create a Facebook ad: Basic News-feed ad. Be creative, think outside the box and you are good to go. For further queries, please do visit Facebook’s Help Centre or leave us a comment and we will get back to you ASAP.

 

WordPress Tips and Tricks

January 4, 2013 Leave a comment

I have some Wp tips and tricks

  • When you do a return in a post or page, you always get a double space. If you want it single, simply press on your keyboard.
  • Creating a powerful password for your admin login is the first step in making your site more secure. The second is to change that password monthly.
  • To get your readers to click through to your full post, stop it at exactly the spot where they will be most curious to read the next sentence. Every post has such a spot (or it should). To take advantage, stop the post there and insert the “read more” tag.
  • If you have unused plugins or themes installed, and have not activated, delete them. This greatly beefs up site security.
  • If you are looking for a WordPress developer to create your site, your first question should be: “Do you know php?” If they claim to be a developer (not a designer), but their answer is no,  run!
  • Don’t use a widget because it’s cool and shiny. Use it because it is useful to your reader.
  • Whether it’s your WordPress blog or website, make sure that people are able to contact you. Don’t hide your contact info in size two font in the footer of the page. Make a separate, highly visible contact page.
  • Remember, it’s WordPress. Capital W, capital P, no space between. If you land on a site and they call themselves a WordPress expert, but spell the name wrong, beware.
  • When inserting a photo into your post or page, don’t forget the alt (alternate) tag. This is what Google looks for when it’s indexing images on the web and the big G doesn’t like a site with alt tags missing.
  • If you have chosen to block search engines in your privacy setting during the construction of your blog or website, remember to turn it back on when you go live. Because that little sucker blocks them good.
  • Keeping your plugins up-to-date is just as important as keeping your WordPress version up-to-date.
  • Do you want to change your homepage to a static page rather than your blog? Can’t figure out what to do? Create a page for your homepage and one for your blog. Then go to settings >reading and change the settings on the “front page displays.”
  • If you are self-hosted, back up your database and all your files regularly. Hear that? Back up, back up!
  • Think about the theme you choose for your blog or website. Does it meet all your needs? Does it allow your site to grow as your business grows? Because if you decide to switch themes down the road, chances are it’s not a simple one-click process.
  • If you fly off the handle or rant in a blog post, remember, the moment you hit that publish button, it appears on the web and to your RSS subscribers. If you are angry when you write a post, it’s always best to save it as a draft and revisit it later for one last look.
  • Use a photo to provoke emotions in your blog post. Not only will you attract more readers, but they will remember your content longer.
  • If you have only one row of tools when you are creating a page or post, simply click on the far right button, “show kitchen sink,” and you will get a whole second row of tools.
  • If you are still using the default “admin” for your user name, it’s time to get rid of it. Create a new one, then delete the old one, assigning all posts and pages to your new user name. Otherwise you are giving hackers 50% of your login info.
  • If you cannot find an option on your edit post or page window, check the tab “screen options” in the upper right corner. That feature may be hidden.
  • To expand your editor window, grab the lower right, ridged corner and drag it.
  • Be careful when you underline text. Readers still have a habit of thinking any underlined text is a link.
  • Remember to turn off your comments on static pages. No one wants to comment on your about or contact page.
  • Remove or replace the default blog tagline under your general settings. Otherwise, people will see that generic message that says, “Just Another WordPress Site.”
  • And lastly, don’t be taken in by over-promises.  Like most worthwhile things, WordPress has a learning curve.
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