Archive for the ‘Content’ Category

Write flawlessly with Grammarly

How often have you heard the remark, “I’ve always struggled with my grammar”? Mastering the proper use of written English language is tricky even for native speakers of the language, let alone, people foreign to it. The punctuations, articles, phrases, similes, etc. that make up the language are sometimes too much to handle. And if the use of English is not directly linked to your livelihood, you can still manage. But if you’re a writer, a teacher, or a professor, the wrong choice of words could mean make or break for your career.

At this point if you’re thinking, ‘that’s why Microsoft built Word with spell and grammar check’, well, it’s time to expand your area of thought. ‘Coz we’re going to introduce you to a free online tool that will let you master written English language like never before. Presenting – Grammarly.

grammarly

Grammarly – a writer’s best friend

Literally! If you’re among those who like to run a quick spell and grammar check on your documents before you submit them, you will fall in love with this tool instantly. It is slick, it’s simple, and it’s free! Grammarly not only points out errors in your documents, but also gives you suggestions to fix them. And we agree, MS Word does that too. But here’s what really sets the online tool apart from the document editor. Grammarly lets you fix highlighted errors with just one click. You read it right – one click only! Click on a suggested fix for an error, and it will be done.

The intuitive tool monitors your documents to make sure everything you write is mistake-free, easy to read and effective. And that applies not just to spelling errors, but also to misplaced words / phrases, incorrect grammar, wrong punctuation, verb mistakes and anything “grammar-y” you can think of.
Still thinking of your trusty Word spell check? These features might help in convincing you:

  • Grammarly instantly fixes over 250 different types of errors, most of which MS Word cannot find
  • You can find the perfect word for a sentence each time through context-optimized synonym suggestions
  • It even points out correctly spelled words used in the wrong context so that you can avoid embarrassment
  • The mistakes in your work are highlighted in a very subtle and interesting manner so that you can better learn about them and avoid them in future
  • It lets you correct your grammar on any platform including emailing, social media, document editors and more through specialized add-ins.

With algorithms developed by the world’s leading authorities on linguistic technology, Grammarly goes beyond basic grammar and spell check and helps you become a better writer.

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This is how it rolls

To start using the tool, you’ll need to create a free account with Grammarly. A simple signup later, you’ll be assigned your dashboard. In the dashboard you’ll be able to find various options in the left-hand panel that will help you perform different operations with the tool.

  • My Grammarly – your work page containing all the documents you upload to the tool for correction.
  • Profile – here you can view your account settings (name, email, password, etc), add words to your personal dictionary (so that words particular to your work are no longer flagged as misspellings), and / or select if you want to work with American English or British English.
  • Apps – lists all apps suited to your account type. A free account is entitled to a browser extension, an MS Word add-in, and a native app for your desktop.
  • Premium – page that shows what’s available with the premium edition (paid edition) of Grammarly and how much it will cost you (you can of course stick to the free account and still use the tool for as long as you want).
  • Support – your help guide to the tool.

Once you’ve made the basic settings, you can start using the tool by uploading a document to be checked. If you need a little hands-on practice, Grammarly provides a Demo document with mistakes that you can open to work with yourself. Try it and you’ll get a pretty clear idea of how to use the tool (and how good it can make your work). Additionally, once you open a document inside Grammarly editor, you’re provided with a number of options to enhance it:

  • You can turn specific checks on or off (contextual spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, style)
  • Check for Plagiarism issues (available with Premium account)
  • Enhance the vocabulary used (available with Premium account)
  • Get your document proofread by a professional (available with Premium account)

Additionally, you can paste content directly into the editor or create a new document directly in the editor (so the tool becomes your online writing pad).

Just for fun and for really testing Grammarly’s capabilities, download the Demo document to your computer (there’s an option to do that). Once you have the document, run MS Word’s spell and grammar check on it and then compare the experience with the Grammarly experience. We bet you’ll choose the latter instantly!

Pros VS Cons

There’s no doubt about the pros.

  • It’s way better than the simple grammar and spell check of Word.
  • It includes features like vocabulary enhancement, plagiarism check, professional proofreading.
  • It allows you to create new documents and check them right inside the editor.
  • You may upload and download documents to / from the tool.

There is literally no con to this awesome tool. There is a free basic account that you can use for as many documents and for as long as you want. But, in order to access really helpful features like plagiarism checker, vocabulary enhancer or proofreading, you’ll need to fish out some money (the prices are quite affordable actually).

  • Create brilliant, mistake-free documents easily with @grammarly grammarly.com/ via @supermonitoring

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Final Verdict

A must try tool for writers and bloggers. Give it a try for its sheer usefulness; but it you truly want to realize its potential, sign up for the premium account. You won’t regret it!

Access & freely use hundreds of stock photos with Pexels

Bloggers, article writers, online content writers / editors while good at writing, might not be great at clicking pictures. But that doesn’t mean they don’t use pictures to adorn their writings. After all, if you’re into creating read-worthy material, you know how much weight a photo can add to your writing. Various studies point to the same fact that as compared to a write-up full of paragraphs, a write-up with photos, infographs and charts attracts more traffic. So if you’re ready with your next brilliant article or blog post but just can’t seem to find the perfect picture to go with it, hop-in at Pexels – the amazing free stock photo collection.

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Pexels – Discover and Submit beautiful pictures for free!

Pexels is a huge online photo library that allows anybody to use any of the pictures present therein in any way they want. Also, it allows people to upload awesome shots that they take and garner attention for their work. There’s no money or attribution involved anywhere. A user doesn’t need to pay for any picture, nor is a photographer paid for his submission. It all works in a mutually beneficial way – the submitter dedicates his work to the public domain and the user utilizes the work attributing the photo to the taker (if he wants to); even if the work isn’t attributed, well, it isn’t a loss for the photographer since it is eventually his work that’s circling the Internet.

Pictures in Pexels’ database are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero License that waives off all rights on the work. A user can copy, modify, and/or distribute the work even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission. All the guys running the platform ask for is your support by way of a donation or by submitting your own photos and sharing them with the world. If only all things in the world were just as beautiful!

In addition to offering free stock photos, Pexels also partners with Shutterstock to offer sponsored photos. These are pictures that are available for sale through Shutterstock. Just click on any of the sponsored photos and you’ll be redirected to Shutterstock’s page where you can buy it.

Pexels can be your best launch-pad if you’re ambitious about photography and are looking for a break. Just create an account with the platform and start submitting your master-pieces. Who knows, your inspiration just might stumble upon one of your photos and really like it?

And as a food, travel, history, business, wildlife blogger, if you’ve been waiting for a limit-less photo library where you can get as many beautiful pictures as you want with no strings attached, you need to look no further than Pexels.

All-in-all, it’s a win-win platform for everyone.

How to use Pexels

As a user

To start using Pexels just visit the tool’s website and scroll through their collection. Once you reach a picture you like, click on it to view it along with the following details about it:

  • Name of the submitter
  • Picture size in pixels
  • Size on disk
  • Aspect ratio
  • The license applicable to the photo (CC0 for most)
  • Other photos submitted by the same submitter

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Other than this information, there are several little tricks that you can play with the tool. For example, there is a timeline displaying photos similar to the one you’re viewing; click on any to view its details.

Additionally, there are several tags applied to each photo. Click on any tag to view other photos included under it. For example, if you click on the tag “people”, you’ll be able to see all photos that have been tagged under “people”.

Moreover, another unique feature is color-specific photos. All pictures have a small color menu displayed beneath them which contains prominent colors used in the photo you’re viewing. Click on any of the color from the menu to see all images which use that color as a prominent one. Cool eh?

You can “like” photos by signing up with the tool for free. It’s simple and quick! Once you have an account, you can also directly share photos from Pexels on your Facebook and Twitter profiles.

As a photographer

If you wish to use Pexels to show off your work to the world, create a free account. Once through, you can start uploading photos. Once submitted, the Pexels team scrutinizes the photos and selects the best of the lot that are fit to be published.

Additional Features

If you thought that was all, well, here’s a little more. Pexels also offers free stock videos under the Creative Commons Zero License. Of course, the videos are typically short, but they are high definition beautiful ones that can liven up any blog-post or article. Do check out their collection of free stock video by clicking on the three dots (…) at the upper-right corner of the screen. What’s more, the tool even has an API to offer.

Didn’t they leave anything out?

Pros VS Cons

This section is actually pointless with regard to Pexels since the tool has absolutely no negative points. At least we couldn’t find any. Do let us know if you manage to.

As far as the plus points are concerned, they’re pretty evident from the tool description above.

  • Unlimited free stock photos to copy, modify, or share at pexels.com/ @PexelsPhotos via @supermonitoring

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To sum it up

Sign up with Pexels as soon as you can to keep monitoring their amazing photo library if nothing else. After all, as mentioned earlier, Pexels is a win-win tool for everyone. We need more such tools/services/people out there to create the perfect world!

Create super-shareable images with Pablo

“As an avid blogger, my mind often throws situations at me that I try to put into words and share with the world. But I’m not great at taking or collecting photos. Thus, often, my personal blog posts don’t feature an image. And I’m well aware that reading a blog post without an appropriate picture takes away half the fun from it. So I usually rely on the Internet for copyright free images. However, recently, I’ve been having a little trouble finding the perfect photos for my blog. Can anyone suggest any good tools or websites where I can find great pictures of random shots? I don’t mind buying them at a nominal price too.”

pablo

Sorry, if that went on for a little too much! But what we wanted to share was a problem quite a few bloggers and social media marketers come across. A picture adds weight to any post, thought or expression. You can’t express as much with words as you can with photos. Thus, people are always monitoring different photo-sharing websites in search of the perfect shots to adorn their blogs or social media pages. If you like sharing beautiful shots on your social media timelines or blog posts, Pablo is one tool you should definitely check out.

Pablo – Create the perfect social-media sharable images!

Pablo is an online tool that lets you upload photos or search photos from a huge library and add quotations, statistics or logos to make them sharable on social media and blogs for personal or professional purposes. The makers of the tool quite aptly recognize the fact that a blog post or a Facebook / Twitter share with a picture is read and further shared a lot more than one without a picture. Similarly, consider the case of a lengthy blog post. If it’s just an array of paragraphs with continuous text or statistics, no matter how interested you are in the subject matter, as a reader, you will get bored at one point. But if that same post contains 2 – 3 photos with appropriate quotations, percentage figures etc. the post engagement would be much more.

This is where Pablo steps in. This unique tool lets you transform beautifully captured random shots into pieces of art or information by adding custom text or quotations to it and then share them on popular social networking websites. You may also choose to download the photos to your computer and use them on your personal blogs or professional articles. Neat!

Here’s how you can use Pablo

To start using Pablo, you can click on the big blue button that says “Try Pablo it’s free!” on the homepage or click on the “Menu” button on the upper right corner of the screen and select the option to Try Pablo. If you’re expecting to find a sign-up page, here’s another good news – it’s not required. Could it be any simpler?

As soon as you click on the ‘Try’ button, you’re redirected to the image editor page. Before you start using the tool, in order to help you out with the nitty-gritties, a quick tour of the app is displayed in quite an interactive manner. Once you’re through, you can start playing around.

Towards the upper left side of the tool’s screen, you’ll find a “Search” box. Enter a keyword for the kind of picture you wish to search. For example, type ‘Pasta’ and hit enter. All images of pasta that exist in Pablo’s database will be listed vertically. Select any of the images by clicking on it and it will be enlarged in the space adjacent to the list. Now comes the interesting part – the edits.

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You can:

  • Alter the size of the image as per the social media platform or technique through which you wish to share the image: Pinterest, Email, Facebook / Twitter
  • If you’ve uploaded a photo that doesn’t make a good background, you can apply effects (Contrast, Blur, Black-and-White) to it to fix it
  • Insert Text on the image. The text can be something you type (custom) or a random quote from Pablo’s database. You can also alter the font size, type, alignment, and color of the text.
  • You may share the image to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Buffer directly from Pablo or Download it to your computer.

Additional Features

In addition to the above mentioned way to use it, you may also choose to join the Pablo community in order to receive articles about how to create engaging social images and other interesting things (this is where you need to sign up).

Moreover, you may also install the browser extension for Pablo to make using it easier.

Pros VS Cons

There are several plus points to the tool:

  • A photo library with more than 50K beautiful photos
  • No sign-up required, no hidden costs involved
  • Option to upload self-taken photos and share with the world
  • Facility to apply edits on pictures
  • Facility to share or download pictures without any strict license requirements

As far as the negative are concerned, there was only a single noticeable one:

  • There should be more advanced edits available
  • Prepare perfect images for social media with pablo.buffer.com/ @pablobybuffer via @supermonitoring

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Final Words

Pablo is one tool that won’t disappoint you. So the next time you wish to grab your 10 seconds of fame by sharing something awesome with the world, create the perfect image with this simple, yet brilliant tool.

Depict information easily with Infogr.am

A simple collection of random data can often be confusing and unintelligible. However, if you organize it and attach meaning to it, it can depict useful information for different purposes. When it comes to depicting information the right way, there are quite a few alternatives. More often than not, information about systems and procedures is depicted through various diagrams such as charts, graphs, flow charts, use cases and more. However, unless one has extensive experience in making them, people often commit embarrassing errors while creating simple charts or graphs.

infogram

To avoid giving a wrong impression to clients or customers and to create easy to understand charts / graphs / diagrams that present correct information about your business in a concise way, the best option is to use an automated tool that takes data as input and gives ready diagrams as output. In this discussion we’re focusing on one such online tool that serves as a haven for those hoping to create great charts in a few simple clicks. Presenting – Infogr.am!

Infogr.am – Create & Publish Interactive & Engaging Charts / Graphs

Infogr.am lets you create and publish beautiful visualizations of your data. Highly interactive and responsive charts let users play around with data representations like never before.

Picture this scenario – You see a complex graph in-front of you but don’t understand it. How the data on the x-axis affects the data on the y-axis is something you just cannot comprehend in a single look. You wish there was some explanation with the chart that would make things easier. With Infogr.am, you don’t need any explanation. You can click-and-drag or touch-and-drag around data values in the charts to see their real-time effect on other values and understand all intricacies.

Infogr.am lets you make your charts move at your commands. Its interactive visualizations add a new dimension of engagement and experience for readers across a wide range of devices. What’s more, you can connect live data sources to Infogr.am’s infographics so that charts are updated in real-time to reflect the latest values. Using static data to make charts is so old-school! Additionally, with Infogr.am, you can embed and share infographics and charts anywhere – documents, web-pages etc. You can even download them and share them privately. Above all, this unique tool lets you brand-ize your charts. Whenever you need to add life to a report, insert a custom, attractive, branded infographic from Infogr.am in a few clicks.

With over 30 chart types (bar graphs, line graphs, area graphs, map distributions etc.) to choose from, Infogr.am makes sure it has at least one chart suited to every organization’s need.

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This is how it works

There are 4 legs of the tool’s scope. Depending upon your purpose, you can use Infogr.am for:

  • Media & Blogs
  • Education
  • Brands
  • Organizations

For each, you’ll first need to create a free account with the tool. For this all you need to supply is your full name, email id and the purpose for which you wish to use the tool (choose from one of the options listed above).

Once your account is created, you can start with the design. Choose what you wish to create: Infrographic or Report / Chart or Graph / Map. All these options are displayed within small blue squares and on hovering on each a plus sign appears indicating a prompt to add new. You can create a folder for each project and store the diagrams you create accordingly.

Infographic or Report

Clicking on this option expands the page to display various themes for your project. There are free themes and pro themes. For starters, you may want to stick to the free themes. Each theme has different color and font schemes and to select a theme all you need to do is hover over it and click on the “Use Design” prompt that appears. Once selected, a sample graph is displayed in a pop-up with helpful tips showing how to work with it. Follow the tips to get a basic know-how. Double-clicking on values opens up an Excel like editor on the left hand side of the screen wherein you can edit values. Here you can also change the kind of graph. To directly upload values, you can also upload CSV or Excel files to the tool.

Chart or Graph

Clicking on this option opens a pop-up with graph options on the left hand side and format options on the right. For example, a bar graph in radial format will display a radial formed with colored bars depicting information. The editing and other options can be accessed as described above.

Map

Clicking on this option opens a pop-up with a black-and-white world map. Other available countries are listed in the left hand side and their respective maps open up on the right on clicking on the country names. For the free account, only the world map and the map of U.S.A are available. For maps of specific countries you’ll need to upgrade your membership. Editing options are described above.

In addition to these options, you can choose to import data or source from Google Spreadsheet, Dropbox, OneDrive or JSON feed.

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Additional Features

Infogr.am can also be used for team collaboration. Shared folders, access permissions and a simple per-seat pricing can allow your team to efficiently make your data look its best with Infogr.am. However, this feature is not available on a basic account. You’ll need to sign up for a Business or Enterprise plan to avail this.

Pros Vs Cons

The high points of the tool are evident from its description above.

As far as the low points are concerned, it all comes down to the price. At $25 per per person per month under a Pro plan and $79 for a single / team license under a business plan, the tool is a bit on the pricy side.

  • Who knew creating Infographics could be so much fun? Check out infogr.am/ @infogram via @supermonitoring

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Final Words

This one is actually a great tool. With no learning curve it lets you create attractive and interactive charts and reports to make your work more fun. If you’re not looking for very extensive features, this tool might be all you need. But if you want more, well, you gotta pay for it!

Use Buzzsumo to be the Master of Online Content

Got a blog or website but often struggle to create the perfect content that achieves its intended purpose? Tried without success to grasp the basics of SEO and other techniques needed to make your online content stand among if not apart from the top contenders of the trade? Well, you’ve managed to reach the correct article. In here we’re solving one of the biggest mysteries of online content writing – creating SEO friendly, key content that performs best for any topic and if you’re lucky, to know what content performs best for your competitors.

buzzsumo

Let’s start with the first step – knowing the tool that can actually help; introducing Buzzsumo!

Buzzsumo – Helps find key influencers that promote content

Content is what first attracts a customer to an organization. Today, most people rely on feedback and reviews for products and services on online forums before finalizing their transactions. After studying that aspect they move on to an organization’s webpage to dive deeper. While getting good testimonials and reviews is not that tough a task, especially for those who don’t mind getting a little unethical, building an impressive, hard-hitting website is not a piece of cake. More than the layout, color schemes and graphics, website content is what decides whether a casual visitor will turn into a prospective customer or not.

When the content is so important, do you make sure you spend the amount of time and resources you should on it? If you have doubts or would like to improve, trust Buzzsumo to help you out.

Buzzsumo.com is an online analyzer that lets you know what content works best for an industry and who the major influencers are. It assists you in identifying the topics related to your business that get the most attention. The tool is easy to use and most users claim it gives them immediate value by enabling search for terms/phrases that quickly identify content that’s performing well in a niche or with an audience. In a nutshell, Buzzsumo makes sure you publish exactly what your intended audience wants to see on your website. End result – more business!

Key benefits of the tool

There’s actually a whole lot of cool stuff packed within the tool, so much so that dedicating a section to it would be justified. Here are the 4 key ways in which you can use Buzzsumo:

Content Discovery

Buzzsumo filters out the content most-accessed by people (trending) and the one that’s about to trend across all major social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, Google+ etc. Moreover, it lets you customize the filtering based on criteria such as Time Period, Social Network, Content Type, Author, Domain and more.

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Monitoring

The tools enables you to set alerts for trending content, keywords, authors, domains and competitor sites. You can even create a personalized dashboard to monitor all alerts you’ve set. Plus, you can choose to have alerts delivered to your mailbox or setup an RSS feed.

Influencers & Outreach

Influencers are people who already have an audience that follows them. Discovering and understanding their methodology can give crucial insights as to how to capture people’s interest and also drive some of their traffic to your website. Buzzsumo lets you find, analyze and follow influencers, see what content they share, export all findings to a trackable format (like CSV/Excel) and maintain outreach lists.

Competitive Intelligence

For promoting yourself better, you need to know your competitors well. Buzzsumo enables you to find out your competitors’ most shared content, amplifiers who share your competitors’ content, set alerts every time your competitor publishes content, create competitor content performance reports and more.

Tool Usage

Diving straight in is really simple. Just click on the “Try Buzzsumo for Free Now” button on the main page to be redirected to the search screen. In the search box, type a topic, keyword or domain to search and hit Enter. You can start looking at results immediately – what all related to the keyword you typed has been published, where and how much buzz has it created on social networks. You can play around for 5 keywords after which you’ll be asked to sign-up for free for a 14-day trial on the Pro plan.

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Thereafter you’ll be led through a quick startup tour that you can skip if desired to end up on the search page again with some results related to the information you entered during setup. Now here’s where you can start to play. Filter search results by:

  • Date (24 hours, past week, past month, past 6 months, past year, specific date range)
  • Language
  • Country
  • Domains (inclusive or exclusive)
  • Content Type (Article, Infographics, Guest Posts, Giveaways, Interviews, Videos)

Alter what you want and start exploring. Every result that turns up can be analyzed to find out what kind of stuff readers want and how enthusiastically they share or link to it. If the numbers don’t match up to your expectations, you’ll know where to improve instantly. You can choose to view your content sharers, export result data to CSV/Excel, set alerts and lots more.

Pros VS Cons

The pros of the tool can be deduced from the features section. Highlights include:

  • Uniquely simple to use and understand
  • Achieves its purpose 100%
  • Helps publishers serve better content and get more attention
  • Helps track where the maximum traffic is coming from
  • Offers monitoring capabilities
  • Affordable

As far as cons are concerned, they’re truly aren’t many except where the tool forgets to mention that you won’t find the results much helpful if you’re a newbie at publishing and have only a few social network followers. You need to have at least 20 followers on Twitter to be able to view who is sharing your content too. So don’t bother if you’re yet to get there. For large players though, the tool is a win-win.

  • Analyze the best performing content for any topic or competitor with @BuzzSumo buzzsumo.com/ via @supermonitoring

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Final Words

Great tool with an awesome purpose; every organization looking to expand its online reach should try Buzzsumo out!

Make perfect flowcharts with Lucidchart

Flowcharts are one of the basic building blocks of system design. They depict complex details of a proposed system through simple rectangular, diamond-like and circular shapes. They’re a picture that can explain a layman what a technically advanced, IC powered system would behave like when fully functional. So it is extremely important that designers who make flowcharts make them right. And that’s because when a business approver views a flowchart, that image is how he perceives the system to be. Thus, to avoid later confusions a flowchart needs to be bang-on.

lucidchart

If you’re sure your flowcharts are absolutely correct, good for you. If you think otherwise or would like some reassurance, trust Lucidchart to help you out. This online flowchart maker will make sure you don’t mess up the very first step of system development.

Lucidchart – draw better, depict more!

The online diagram application from Lucidchart makes it extremely easy to sketch as well as share professional flowcharts. It is compatible with a host of other programs including Google Apps and Microsoft Visio and allows users to export their diagrams to standard file formats or publish them through a convenient online viewer. The best part about Lucidchart is its ease-of-use; from a beginner to a pro, anyone can create great flowcharts through it. The tool is very intuitive; the shapes just snap together and glue a designer through the process of setting up a diagram.

There are three different types of flowcharts that can be created through Lucidchart depending upon what end-use you’re going to put them to. Here they are at a glance:

IT / Engineering

For engineering or IT systems, Lucidchart offers competent Network Diagram designing tools. The ERD (Entity-Relationship Diagram) tool of the platform helps you instantly generate database tables and schemas with GraphViz import, smart shape prompts and a multi-featured API. Lucidchart is tailor-made for technical diagrams and this focus is evident from their feature set.

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Business Diagrams

With thousands of shapes and icons, instant organization charts, and bulk Visio imports and exports for business use, Lucidchart helps build business diagrams and improve productivity, build project maps, improve sales processes and customer service flows. Plus, its drag-and-drop editor gets the work done in almost half the time. Compatible with different operating systems (Mac, Windows and Linux), all you need to start using Lucidchart is a web browser.

Product Management & Design

A sophisticated graphics palette, fully customizable editor, keyboard shortcuts and master pages helps put neat product management diagrams in place. With the ability to modify grid settings, hex codes, page layout/size, fonts and even the angles of lines, Lucidchart is probably the most flexible online flowchart maker.

This is how it rolls

To experience Lucidchart, try the demos available on the portal. You can try out engineering, business or product management flowcharts through their dedicated demos. Navigate to any of these pages by clicking on the direct links to them on the homepage. Thereafter, scroll down and click on “Try the demo” button.

In the Engineering & Business demos, at first you’ll see a sample ERD on the canvas with a single entity (user_account) and various attributes. You can play around with attributes adding more or removing some by single-clicking the anywhere on the diagram to open a ‘Settings’ box. This box can also be opened through a ‘Settings’ icon on the upper-right corner of the entity box. On clicking on ‘Manage Fields’ within this box you’ll see a pop-up displaying all field names, their data-types and their Primary Key – Foreign Key status. Add or remove fields as per requirement and click ‘OK’. The attributes can also be modified by double-clicking on them directly and typing, but we suggest the pop-up method to avoid typos.

To add more entities to the diagram, click on any of the connecting points on the edge of one entity and drag it away. Release the mouse pointer at a random point on the canvas; you’ll see a prompt asking which shape you wish to add. Select the desired shape and it will appear there. At any point, you can visit customization options and tutorials from a panel on the right corner of the canvas.

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You can change the diagram from an ERD to UML or Org chart or more by clicking on a ‘More Shapes’ button on the bottom-left corner of the screen. The pop-up window that opens on clicking this button also provides you the option to import Visio Stencil or Custom Shapes into the diagram. To collaborate directly through Hangouts, a convenient chat window is provided next to the ‘More Shapes’ button at the bottom and a Comment box on the upper-right corner.

In the product management demo, your drawing canvas will have a Smartphone template drawn over it with several customizable fields. Editing options, chat window and comments section are placed at the same spots with options differing for each type of diagram.

If you wish to save your diagram, you’ll need to create an account with Lucidchart first. The signup is free and quick and the tool automatically shows a reminder to do so when you haven’t saved your work after every couple of seconds.

Pros VS Cons

The pros of the tool can be easily identified through its features’ description. Add to that the ability to present your diagrams through online presentations and sharing options to boost collaboration.

The cons include:

  • Dragging and dropping stuff to add it to the diagram depends on the speed of the Internet connection. It can be slow to the point of not working at all.
  • Finding things is a bit difficult; nothing is right in front of you. To achieve mastery over the tool you need a lot of hit and trials.
  • The tool though affordable for a basic plan, requires a hefty investment for professional, team and enterprise plans.
  • Make, present and share better diagrams with @lucidchart lucidchart.com/ via @supermonitoring

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Final Words

All-in-all, the concept behind the tool is great but in practice it needs a lot of improvement. It’s not perfect, but then, it’s not pathetic either.

Mockaroo – random data for your application

What lies at the core of all application development, testing and actual deployment? Data; realistic, abundant and quickly generated! Any application developer knows how important it is to test an application with lots and lots of data. Having repetitive tests with different kinds of abundant data validates how robust and reliable an application will prove to be when real data to the tune of terabytes is fed into it. Will it be able to handle the pressure or will it crash?

Though it is a crucial step in the application development process, testing with realistic data is often a tiresome task. Hand-filling data into a test environment one record at a time using the user interface can take days altogether. And if there’s a mistake or an unexpected result, to retest you have to undergo the same process again. Moreover, with one person filling in thousands of records, at one point, the data will start to become repetitive, following a particular pattern rather than being random.
So how does one overcome these issues of random data generation? With Mockaroo of course!

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Mockaroo – The realistic data generator that lets you relax while it works!

Mockaroo is a brilliant online tool that lets you solve your data generation problems in a few clicks. It lets you generate up to 1,000 rows of realistic test data in CSV, JSON, SQL, and Excel formats. And if you need more data, you can buy one of their nominally priced plans. All you need to do then is write a simple script and the data from these formats will be automatically fed into your application for testing. How awesome is that!

If you’re application is tested against realistic data, you’ll have two very distinct advantages. One, you’ll be more engaged as a tester. Realistic data will mean your application will face challenges that it might face in real-time (like special character errors or jumbled jargons) thus helping to make it more robust. Two, when you demonstrate the features of your app to other users making use of realistic data, they’ll understand quicker and easier.

With Mockaroo, you don’t have to worry about the technical aspects of testing like learning about mock data libraries or new platforms just to perform stress testing of the application. You can focus on the application development and leave the rest to this unique tool. It will let you download large amounts of randomly generated test data based on your own specifications which you can then load directly into your test environment using SQL or CSV formats, without any programming required.

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This is how it rolls

On visiting the tool’s website you see columns with data field names, their data types and blank options which you can alter to adjust to data order and specifications. The column named ‘Field Name’ accepts simple text input, ‘Type’ accepts data type and ‘Options’ accepts numerical input (fields with the same blank percentage are left blank at the same time). You can click on a type to open a pop-up showing the available data-types from which you can select the one that suits your application. You can add more fields by clicking on the “Add another field” button and remove them by clicking on a small cross (x) adjacent to them.

At the bottom of the boxes you see a box specifying the number of rows that will be generated (you can alter this to any value below 1000), the format in which the data will be generated (this too can be altered through a drop-down) and a button to “Download” the data. You can even choose to preview what data will be downloaded by clicking on the “Preview” button. There are even options to save the setting to your profile through the “Clone This Schema” button. You can also choose to directly load your application’s fields from a CSV if they are too many.

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In this sense, Mockaroo actually gives you all that you need to generate random data for testing. With no signup required for this basic functionality, anyone who just wants random data to test their application can use this tool for free. In our opinion, it’s a win-win tool in this regard.

Additional Features

If you thought that was all, think again! A super cool feature of Mockaroo is its random data generation at runtime. If you wish to take your application’s testing a step further by runtime testing of your application with realistic random data, you can do that too. For this, Mockaroo offers a REST API which you can configure into your application to make the downloading of data happen automatically. Just feed in your application’s fields as a schema, configure the REST API from Mockaroo into your application and see the magic happen.

This feature is a bit restricted though. First, it requires you to signup, which is still free. It has usage limits – 200 POST requests per day for a free plan. If you however wish to go for one of their plans (Silver or Gold), you get to download up to 1,000,000 records / day for Silver and 10,000,000 records per day for Gold plans with no POST request limit. That’s a lot of data. The other big restriction is that only 2 formats are supported here – JSON and CSV. Other details about the API feature can be found through the API link given in the header menu of the website.

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Pros VS Cons

Do we need to say the pros again? Data – realistic, random and lots of it; those words pretty much sum up the awesomeness of this tool.
There isn’t really a con with this tool, literally. If you regard $50/year for Silver (100,000 rows) and $500/year (10M rows) a con, well, you’re better off spending days filling the data yourself. Plus, up to 1000 rows it’s absolutely free, so test it out first and then go further if you need to. What’s there to lose?

  • Generate realistic random data for your application with @mockaroodev mockaroo.com/ via @supermonitoring

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Final Words

A win-win tool in our opinion that you should try out immediately if you need random data generated quickly and easily.

Automatically generate user data with Random User Generator

There’s no end to a creative mind’s errands. Each new day we come across a unique tool which is so novel in its concept that it makes you wonder, “Man, there’s a tool for even this?” The first time we heard of the tool being discussed here, that’s the exact thought that crossed our minds. For people who make use of random user data for their application development or testing, this article will turn out to be especially interesting.

During the course of an application’s development a lot of dummy data is required primarily to test the functions and reach of the application. Often collecting such dummy data can prove to be a pain. Coming up with a thousand random user names, filling in their hypothetical data and searching for appropriate user images can take a deathly time and effort toll. It would be so much better if there was a quicker and easier way to do this.

By now you would have guessed where we’re headed, so let’s get straight to the point; introducing, RandomUser.me.

randomusergenerator

RandomUser.Me – Random user data with a few clicks!

Most websites and tools that play around with text documents (creation, formatting or simple display), make use of a sample text paragraph that is known by its two initial words “Lorem Ipsum”. It is like the de facto standard dummy paragraph text we come across on quite a few applications. RamdomUser.me works on the same concept. It brings the ideology behind “Lorem Ipsum” to user data. With this one-of-a-kind tool, you can instantly generate random user data consisting of a user image, user name, an email address, a date of birth, an address, a phone number and even a sample password. Neat huh!

So if you have an application for say a contact synchronizer, you don’t have to spend any time in coming up with hundreds of users and their related information. You can concentrate on your core programming while RandomUser.me does the user data generation for you. The tool offers a free API (AJAX code) that you can paste into your JQuery code body to generate random users instantly. If you’re using a different set of languages, you can contact the development team at RandomUser and ask for a randomly generated user. The application will provide you with a JSON, SQL, CSV, or YAML object that you can parse and apply to your application. Simple!

How the tool works

On visiting the tool website you’ll see a randomly generated user photo and name in the center of the screen. Hover over the option icons below the image to see random data associated with the user.

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Once you’re through that, you might feel a little lost for a couple of seconds; that’s because there is no link to sign-up or see examples etc on the homepage. So what you need to do is, click on the “More Options” button on the top right corner of the screen.

On clicking on this button you’ll see a host of things that you can do:

  1. Home: To get to the home page.
  2. User Photos: To browse the gallery of photos (faces) of random users. This page contains three sections of photos: Gentlemen, Ladies and Lego. This dedicated photos page comes in handy when you don’t want any user data and just need a friendly user face, for example for a dummy testimonial on your website. To pick an image just click on it and a larger version of the image will open on your computer screen; right-click and select the usual “Save Image As” option to save the photo.
  3. Documentation: This is the worthiest page of all. It contains various self-explanatory links that offer help and instructions for using the tool.
  4. Change Log: This option is informational and is more suited for experts of the field. It contains revisions and change logs to the tool and APIs.
  5. Stats & Graphs: This links boasts of the tool’s popularity. Graphical statistics show how many people visit the tool on a daily basis. Number of users generated every day, downloads and API uptime etc. are also shown on this page.
  6. Donate: After all, hard work yielding in such awesome results deserves some credit. You can donate to this otherwise free tool through an easy link given on this page. The makers have even gone to lengths justifying why they deserve a donation (even if as low as $1) from you. Sweet!
  7. Copyright: This page claims to show the “fun legal stuff”. It contains copyright notices and lists out what you can and cannot do with the content on RandomUser.me and under what terms.
  8. Photoshop Extension: This one is interesting. A randomly generated user photo and name will greet you in the center of the screen with options to download the installer for Photoshop CS6 and Photoshop CC. Instructions below point out how to easily use the Photoshop extension of the tool after downloading it.

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Pros Vs Cons

RandomUser.me bags some very crucial points in its favor.
Point 1 – the entire look and feel of the tool is quite classy. Its simplicity and the to-the-point approach are very appealing.
Point 2 – the innovative concept behind the tool instantly grabs your imagination and makes you want to try it out.
Point 3 – the database of user photos is very attractive.
Point 4 – The tool taps a territory that’s been limited to boring code generators hitherto and makes it pretty.
Point 5 – Photoshop extension that makes using random user data as easy as drag-and-drop.
Point 6 – Free tool with no sign-up required!

It’s actually pretty hard to find a drawback with this tool. It is simple, easy to use and achieves what it claims to do. For the sake of pointing out one, the only glitch is the slight loading time each consecutive enlarged user photo takes after having visited one before.

  • Don’t waste your time on creating dummy user data, automate it with @randomapi randomuser.me/ via @supermonitoring

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Final Words

Don’t waste any more time in coming up with random user data for your application. Visit RandomUser.me and automate one of the toughest parts of application testing today!

Copyscape – The Plagiarism Police

Stealing and publishing content, ideas, expressions and thoughts authored by some other writer and representing it as one’s own authentic  work  is called as Plagiarism. Plagiarism can be considered as an academic dishonesty, though it is not a crime but a serious ethical offence and Plagiarism can be considered equivalent to copyright infringement. With an increase in the use of internet over the last few decades there has been an increase in the number of cases of violation of right to intellectual property or copyright infringement.

After giving in a huge amount of time and efforts to create fresh, unique and engrossing content for your blog, you won’t like it if someone steals or copies it and publishes the same content on his own website with his name or without giving you the credit for the content which he just copied from your website or blog. Plagiarism is one of the biggest problems faced by people on the internet today. Webmasters along with the popular search engine, Google are trying to figure out ways to combat plagiarism so that the people who use their search engine get the most useful results.

copyscape

Copyscape.com is an online service which allows you to check if your content is unique and if it has been copied on some other website. Through Copyscape you can ensure that the whole of your content or a part if it is not in use on some other website. Copyscape is used widely by many big companies on the internet to keep a check on the theft of content from their websites.

Of all the anti-plagiarism tools available online Copyscape is the simplest, easiest and best available. It not only helps webmasters to keep a check on the copied content but also helps academicians to check if the student has cheated from the internet. All you need to do is enter the URL of your content (available with premium Copyscape service only) or you can copy it whole and then paste it on the website to generate a report containing all the links to the websites which have copied your text on their website.

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Without using Copyscape it would take you a huge amount of time and efforts to figure out the websites which copy your content and perform searches for the same on the internet for your content. And you may still skip some of the websites which may copy your words. While Copyscape comes up with links to the websites which have your content within seconds. Copyscape also offers you to place a banner on your website or blog saying that the content on this website is protected with copyscape and thus this may reduce the number of plagiarizers if you place this banner on your website.

How to use Copyscape:

  • Copy and paste your content into the text box or using the premium service copy and paste the URL and perform a batch search so that you can check all the content that is on your website.
  • The content you copy and paste should be at least 300 words and then copyscape would come up with the links of all the results. Even if there is a single sentence or a part of it copied from your website it would show up in the results and would be highlighted, it would even detect if a few words are used in the same sequence as on your website. If you are using copyscape to detect a few lines you may not get the results with that depth though.
  • Check out your results and figure out the text which has been highlighted and look for more appropriate content which matches the text you already have on your website.
  • Now that you have figured out which websites copy your text you can try contacting them to get the plagiarized content removed but this may take time and you may not get a response as well. In such cases you can report it to Google.

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Individuals having more than one websites find the Batch Searching process very rewarding. It allows you to search many websites at a single click and you may resume your work once Copyscape starts searching. When the whole process ends, copyscape would send you an email with all the details of the search. You can integrate copyscape into your website or blog. It can be easily integrated to your content management system such as WordPress. This would save you the effort of logging on to the copyscape website to check for plagiarism when you are about to post new content on your blog or website. The copyscape website has a forum as well where you can interact with other users as well and get more ideas to prevent your website from content theft and what you should do if you that someone has plagiarized your content.

One of the most beneficial application of copyscape can be getting backlinks to your website. Yes you can get backlinks to your website by using copyscape! Amazing right?! We all want to increase the number of pages which hyperlink to our website so that we get some more traffic on our website, Using copyscape you can trace who has your content on his website and contact him with a message to remove the content or post the link to your webpage where the content originally comes from with proper citation and credits given to you or your website for the content copied. You can use copyscape along with other SEO tools to check out the website rankings of these websites and using this page rank you can decide whether it would be worth contacting the plagiarist and getting a link to your website added. In case you can’t find any way to contact the website admin you can perform a WhoIs look up to get to them.

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The Copyscape Premium version costs 5 cents per search and is an advanced version of the free version of the copyscape available. It allows you to work with a team of editors at a minimum cost. Manage all your cases of plagiarism until they are changed, removed or credited. Premium API ensures all your pages are protected. And with this premium version you’ll be able to find more copies of each page searched comprehensively.

  • Check your content for plagiarism with the most popular plagiarism police – @Copyscape copyscape.com/ via @supermonitoring

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Copyscape is the best tool available online for preventing Plagiarism. I would recommend you to give it a try and you won’t regret using it. That’s all for now. Do share your Copyscape experiences with us in the comments.  Toodles!!

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