7 words guaranteed to make you a better writer


just published a 175-page book called How to Not Write Bad. It will set you back $15, plus tax. But I am here to tell you that if you master just seven words, you will not only not write bad: you'll write good, er, well. (And in fact, there are only six words; one of them is repeated.)
The catch is that these words — and the three bolded sentences they compose — aren't easy to fully grasp. But if you do, you are good to go — I guarantee it.
Almost without exception, good writers read widely and frequently. By osmosis, they unconsciously learn an incalculable amount about vocabulary, spelling, punctuation, style, rhythm, tone, and other crucial matters. They also pick up all sorts of random information, which turns out to be extremely important if you want to be a good, or even not-bad, writer. 
William Faulkner put it well: "Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it."
But there's a modern-day catch. People today read huge amounts of stuff… online. I'm talking texts, tweets, emails, status updates, blog posts, Tumblrs, product reviews, and so on. There's nothing wrong with this, and a lot of the stuff is actually pretty good. But it doesn't seem to have the beneficial effects of more traditional reading. The material one is exposed to is too off-the-cuff and unilateral; it's too much like talking. The stuff that helps your own writing can be in print or online. It can be any kind of book or article — the more different kinds the better. But it seems to have to go through the old-fashioned pipeline. That is, selected and processed by an editor, and then "published."
The way I'd suggest going about this is to become a fan. Find a half-dozen writers whom you really like, preferably in different genres and subjects. Follow their work, and read up on their early stuff. Figure out what you like about their style, and what you don't like as well. Pretty soon you'll start reaping the benefits in your own writing. 
Read it aloud.
Reading is by definition a long-term project. The most effective short-term way to improve your writing is to read it aloud, sentence by sentence and word by word. There was a spoken language before there was a written language, and good writing has always been intimately connected to the ear, whether the short sentences of Hemingway or the near-endless ones of Samuel Johnson and David Foster Wallace. 
Gustave Flaubert, himself one of the all-time great stylists, used what he called la guellade: that is, "the shouting test." He would go out to the avenue of lime trees near his house and, yes, shout what he had written. It's the same principle as scrutinizing a photograph by blowing up its image on the computer screen; you really can identify the flaws. 
Reading aloud isn't an immediate panacea, even if you shout like Flaubert. At first, you may not catch the bad rhythms, the word repetition, the wordiness, the sentences that end not with a bang, but with a seemingly endless series of whimpers. You need to develop your ear just as a musician does. But eventually, you'll start to really hear your sentences; as you're reading them, fixes and improvements will suggest themselves to you, as if by magic. At some point, you'll be able to shut up, stop bothering your roommates, and read silently to yourself, attending with your mind's ear. 
Show, don't tell.
Yes, it's a cliché. But how do you think it became a cliché? It's true.
For example, a recent New York Times obituary of the porn star Harry Reems, written by the great Margalit Fox (who would be a good writer to follow), described Reems' breakthrough role in the 1972 movie Deep Throat. "For the film," Fox writes, "which was widely reported to have grossed more than $600 million, Mr. Reems was paid about $250." 
That is showing. There's nothing "beautiful" or fancy about Fox's version, but because she used well-chosen specific facts, she gets the point across a million times more effectively and persuasively than if she had "told" it, with a dull sentence like "Mr. Reems was grossly underpaid."
"Grossly" is an adverb and "underpaid" is an adjective. Mark Twain said, "When you catch an adjective, kill it" (a quote I borrowed for the title of my book about the parts of speech). He was exaggerating, but not by much. Other writers, such as Elmore Leonard, have famously lambasted adverbs. Those two parts of speech are essential tools in any writer's repertoire — and some writers use them brilliantly — but they're all about the telling. When you find your prose is studded with adjectives and adverbs, try to see if there's a way you can show instead. 
That's what John McPhee did in his classic New Yorker profile of Bill Bradley, written when the future senator was still a Princeton undergraduate. At one point, he describes Bradley shooting baskets in the gym of the Lawrenceville School. Six of his shots in a row hit the back of the rim and clang out. Then he makes four straight and says to McPhee: "You want to know something? That basket is about an inch and a half low." McPhee writes:
Some weeks later, I went back to Lawrenceville with a steel tape, borrowed a step-ladder, and measured the height of the basket. It was nine feet ten and seven-eight inches above the floor, or one and one-eighth inches too low. [New Yorker]
McPhee could have told, writing that Bradley was "incredibly observant and dedicated to basketball," or something along those lines. If he had, I would have immediately forgotten it. Instead, he showed (in a passage that contains just one adjective, "low"). I have remembered it since the day I first read it, in 1965.

How the U.S. made war with the language of peace

American troops run for a helicopter after a successful attack behind enemy lines during a training session in 1962.
American troops run for a helicopter after a successful attack behind enemy lines during a training session in 1962.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

n the 1950s and 60s, the U.S. Army conducted training exercises using an imaginary enemy named, quite simply, Aggressor. The characteristics of Aggressor were worked out in realistic detail. Soldiers assigned to play the part of Aggressor troops had to learn the organization of its ranks and the types of weapons it used. They wore special uniforms and insignia and even carried fully realized fake identity papers. They also had to speak a different language, and that language, in a twist so ironic it is almost cruel, was Esperanto, the language of peace.


Esperanto was created in the 1880s by Ludwik Zamenhof, a sensitive soul who grew up in Eastern Europe among Yiddish, Russian, Polish, and German speakers who had nothing but hostility toward each other. As a child he felt "the heavy sadness of the diversity of languages," seeing it as "the primary force which divides the human family into enemy parts," and he vowed he would do something to solve this problem.
He created Esperanto, a hybrid of European languages with a simplified, regular grammar, designed to be easily learned. He hoped it would serve as a neutral linguistic common ground where people of different nations could meet without kicking up the dust of tricky history and power imbalance that their national languages couldn't seem to shake.
Surprisingly, after Zamenhof published a description of Esperanto in 1887, it really took off. The first international Esperanto congress was held in 1905, and over the next decade every year saw more Esperanto clubs, journals, magazines, and books. Membership in Esperanto organizations grew steadily.
At the same time, other inventors offered their own, competing versions of easy-to-learn European hybrid languages. They touted the superiority of their designs and advertised the practical advantages to commerce and science that their languages would bring, but none of those other projects lasted very long. People came to Esperanto for various reasons, but the ones who stayed and helped it grow were not in it for commerce or science or the particular qualities of the language. They were in it for the ideal: peace for humanity, brought about by a common language. They sang about it in their anthem, La Espero (The Hope):
En la mondon venis nova sento (Into the world came a new feeling)
tra la mondo iras forta voko (through the world goes a mighty call)
per flugiloj de facila vento (by means of the wings of a gentle wind)
nun de loko flugu ĝi al loko (now let it fly from place to place)


So how did Esperanto come to be, in the words of one Army field manual title, "the Aggressor Language"? Almost everything about it, except for the whole language-of-peace part, made it perfect for the Army's purposes. It had become, as stated in the field manual, "a living and current media of international oral and written communication" with a well-developed vocabulary. It was regular and easy to learn, at least to the level needed for drills, and most importantly, it was "consistent with the neutral or international identification implied by Aggressor." Using Spanish or Russian would have been politically problematic. Making up another language from scratch would have been too much trouble. Esperanto was neutral, easy, and there.
But what a century it had endured in order to be there! Esperanto's whole life was marked by war. Zamenhof's beloved brother killed himself when the Russians ordered him into the army during World War I because he couldn't bear the thought of once again experiencing what he had seen as an army doctor during the Russo-Japanese War. Zamenhof died soon after that, worn out from the news of destruction coming in from all corners of Europe. His children would survive, only to perish in the concentration camps of the next war. Esperantists were persecuted by Hitler, who saw the language as part of a Jewish conspiracy, and sent to the Gulag by Stalin, who saw it as a dangerous badge of cosmopolitanism.
Yet Esperanto survived, weakened, but with its peaceful ideals intact, despite the fact that the savage events of the intervening decades had rendered those ideals hopelessly naïve.
The field manual for the Aggressor language gives a brief description of Esperanto grammar which looks much like what is found in any Esperanto textbook, followed by a dictionary of useful terms which looks like the innocent dream of Zamenhof reflected in a distorted mirror of evil. Unlike most language learning dictionaries it does not include basic words like child (infano) or love (amo), but it does include the following:
armored carrier (kirasportilo), bombing run (bombardaproksimigo), tear gas (larma gaso), insubordination (malobeo), barbed wire (pikildrato), fire power (pafpovo), stab (pikegi), punch (pugnobati), lynch (linĉi), choke (sufoki), strafe (ŝtrafi), slash (tranĉo), poison (veneni), torture (torturi), kill (mortigi)
These are words you need when you're playing the enemy in a war game. It was a testament to the flexibility and productivity of Esperanto that the army was able to coin phrases, likesenresalta pafilo (recoilless rifle) that had probably never been uttered by an Esperanto speaker before. It had also probably never occurred to an Esperantist that, as claimed in the 1960 Army Information Digest, "performing 'Aggressor Stomp' to orders barked out in Esperanto helps to instill in each man a feeling that the enemy he portrays is different from U.S. troops."
For the Esperantists, the language had always been a means to feel kinship in place of difference, and this ideal sometimes showed up in the unlikeliest places, displayed by real aggressors during real wars. After the occupation of the Netherlands in World War II, an Esperantist went to check on the building where the local club used to meet in Arnhem and found a note attached to the locked door. It had been left by a German soldier, and it said, in Esperanto, "the house is deserted. A visitor cannot go in. Will the 'mighty call' no longer 'go through the world'? Take courage, soon another time shall come! Long live Esperanto! –A German Esperantist."
The Army removed Esperanto from its field manual in the 1970s because it took too long to learn to be practical. Esperantists, unconcerned with mere practicality, continued speaking, joking, singing, fighting, and trying to bring people together in Esperanto. And they are still at it today.
In this U.S. Army informational film, you can see the Americans capture Aggressor prisoners and take them to a command post "where a U.S. interrogating officer was ready to go to work on them in their own language."

Everything you need to know about commercial space travel

The SpaceX Dragon successfully docks at the International Space Station on March 3.
It's coming to an orbit near you — and soon
The SpaceX Dragon successfully docks at the International Space Station on March 3.

ooking at NASA's shrinking budget and retired shuttle fleet, it's tempting to think that America no longer has the cash to conquer the last great frontier. But in fact, U.S. companies are aggressively and successfully launching into private space travel — with NASA's blessing. The commercial company SpaceX successfully docked a cargo spacecraft on the International Space Station on March 3, and private passengers could be headed to full orbit as early as 2015.
Here's everything you need to know about the future of commercial space travel, with input from an MIT engineering professor, a NASA scientist, and an award-winning science fiction writer.
First off: Is NASA dead or what?
John Karcz, a space scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in California, certainly doesn't think so. "The private sector has been involved with NASA since the very beginning" he told me. And indeed, NASA has been awarding money to private scientific space missions through itsDiscovery Program since 1992. In 2009, it began soliciting proposals from private companies interested in sending humans into orbit. A year later, President Obama announced that private development was crucial to U.S. advancement in space. As Larry Bell at Forbes puts it, if companies can start providing services to NASA at lower costs, "NASA can turn its full attention to doing things that they are very good at… like planning future robotic and human planetary exploration missions."
When will commercial space travel be a reality?
Soon. Start by watching this SpaceX promotional video (complete with cheesy action movie music) to get pumped:

"Suborbital" space travel is already here: By the end of 2013, Virgin Galactic will start charging tourists around $200,000 to fly straight up into the atmosphere and spend a few minutes in actual space. (Katy Perry, Tom Hanks, and Brangelina have already signed up.) MIT Professor Ed Crawley says this kind of travel takes only about "1/100th of the energy of going all the way into orbit." He predicts that in five years, the "commercial suborbital market will be robust, with hundreds of people traveling to space a year, not much more than the number that try to climb Everest every year, at a similar price and perhaps more safely."
Going into orbit is the real deal; that's where a spacecraft gets high enough to actually circle Earth. SpaceX, Boeing, and the Sierra Nevada Corporation all have contracts with NASA to develop orbital human spaceflight for both commercial and government customers, and Karcz says there are other unfunded companies working on private orbital travel, too. SpaceX is reportedly planning to launch its first human passengers into orbit by 2015, although SpaceX manager and ex-NASA astronaut Garrett Resiman joked at a press conference that they're not taking any tourist applications yet, so "don't call our toll-free number."
Ultimately, commercial companies will take passengers to both the International Space Station and private space stations, like the inflatable ones being developed by Bigelow Aerospace. According to the Mercury News, a month-long trip to a private Bigelow space station would set you back about $25 million. Here's what those space stations could look like (I didn't pick the music for this, seriously):

So is this only for rich people?
Yeah, space tourism is only for rich people. But there are scientific benefits of these missions, too. For instance, NASA is supporting companies that develop cargo spacecraft to bring items like water, food, clean clothes, computers, and spare parts to the International Space Station. This will save taxpayers money.
And there are plenty of other ways that private space advancements could benefit us all: A company called Planetary Resources, formed in 2010, is working to expand technology in asteroid mining (according to the company's website, there are over 1,500 asteroids as easy to get to as the moon.) David Brin, Ph.D., a scientist and science-fiction author who has won Hugo and Nebula Awards, theorizes that this company could harvest water, "which costs a fortune to lift from Earth...[and] later, there is a high likelihood of acquiring many of the rare elements that are today torn out of Earth and refined through toxic processes, but could instead be brought home cleanly from space."
Commercial space companies are also reportedly planning to launch small, low-orbit satellites to map and assist with agricultural development. (The European Space Agency and the UN Fund for Agricultural Development have already partnered to track some of the most rural areas on Earth, and identify things like long-term trends in Vietnamese rice cultivation.) Of course, not everyone sees private surveillance as a good thing: "The flood of cameras filling our streets could empower some Big Brother state or corporate oligarchy," warns Brin. "It is always wise to beware of possible downsides."
What are the downsides?
Commercial space development hasn't gone perfectly: During SpaceX's third unmanned launch, it had a "serious propulsion malfunction that threatened to cripple their capsule," according to The Wall Street Journal. The independent Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel has also expressed concerns about letting commercial space flight get too big without NASA oversight: "Separating the level of safety demanded in the system from the unique and hard-earned knowledge that NASA possesses introduces new risks and unique challenges to the normal precepts of public safety and mission responsibility" the panel wrote in a report. However, Crawley insists that "we should let commercial companies do what they can, provided it is safe," and says that airplanes are already extremely safe because of the efforts of the Federal Aviation Administration. "This is a model that will evolve for space flight too."
Other groups have questioned the environmental impact of commercial space travel. A report funded by NASA and the private Aerospace Corporation predicts that an increase in the number of sub-orbital rockets could lead to higher levels of pollution, exacerbating global warming. (Virgin Galactic flatly denies the report's conclusions.)
But in the end, Brin says, we are "a vibrant, curious people," and we shouldn't "become so obsessed with the downsides that we ignore [what] technology can do for us.
One other downside: Space warfar

9 negative effects divorce reportedly has on children

Divorce can be the first in a string of dominos that knock a kid down — and keep him there
Divorce can create an unstable home life in which the kids' needs are no longer the priority.
Divorce can create an unstable home life in which the kids' needs are no longer the priority.

ivorce is hardly an exception anymore. In fact, with the rate of marriage steadily dipping over the past decade, and the divorce rate holding steady, you are likely to know more previously married couples than those who are legally bound. Accompanying this trend are multiple studies analyzing the effects that divorce has on children. And the results aren't good, even if the stigma of divorce has faded. Here, 9 negative effects divorce reportedly has on children:
1. Smoking habitsIn a study published in the March 2013 edition of Public Health, researchers at the University of Toronto found that both sons and daughters of divorced families are significantly more likely to begin smoking than peers whose parents are married. In an analysis of 19,000 Americans, men whose parents divorced before they turned 18 had 48 percent higher odds of smoking than men with intact families. Women had 39 percent higher odds of picking up the habit. Lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson called the link "very disturbing."
2. Ritalin useDr. Strohschein, a sociologist at the University of Alberta, wanted to know what was behind the increase in children prescriptions for Ritalin over the past two decades. And so, in 2007, she analyzed data from a survey that was conducted between 1994 and 2000. In it, 5,000 children who did not use Ritalin, and were living in two-parent households, were interviewed. Over the six years, 13.2 percent of those kids experienced divorce. Of those children, 6.6 percent used Ritalin. Of the children living in intact households, 3.3 percent used Ritalin. Strohschein suggests that stress from the divorce could have altered the children's mental health, and caused a dependence on Ritalin.
3. Poor math and social skills
A 2011 study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that children of divorced parents often fall behind their classmates in math and social skills, and are more likely to suffer anxiety, stress, and low self-esteem. The reason that math skills are affected is likely because learning math is cumulative. "If I do not understand that one plus one is two," lead researcher Hyun Sik Kim says, "then I cannot understand multiplication." Kim says it is unlikely that children of divorce will be able to catch up with their peers who live in more stable families.
4. Susceptibility to sickness
In 1990, Jane Mauldon of the University of California at Berkeley found that children of divorce run a 35 percent risk of developing health problems, compared with a 26 percent risk among all children. Mauldon suggests their susceptibility to illness is likely due to "very significant stress" as their lives change dramatically. Divorce can also reduce the availability of health insurance, and may lead to a loss of certain factors that contribute to good health, including constant adult supervision and a safe environment. The risk of health problems is higher than average during the first four years after a family separation, but, curiously, can actually increase in the years following. 
5. An increased likelihood of dropping out of school
A 2010 study found that more than 78 percent of children in two-parent households graduated from high school by the age of 20. However, only 60 percent of those who went through a big family change — including divorce, death, or remarriage — graduated in the same amount of time. The younger a child is during the divorce, the more he or she may be affected. Also, the more change children are forced to go through, like a divorce followed by a remarriage, the more difficulty they may have finishing school.
6. A propensity for crime
In 2009, the law firm Mishcon de Reya polled 2,000 people who had experienced divorce as a child in the preceding 20 years. And the results did not paint a positive picture of their experiences. The subjects reported witnessing aggression (42 percent), were forced to comfort an upset parent (49 percent), and had to lie for one or the other (24 percent). The outcome was one in 10 turned to crime, and 8 percent considered suicide.
7. Higher risk of stroke
In 2010, researchers from the University of Toronto found a strong link between divorce and adult risk of stroke. However, the vast majority of adults whose parents divorced did not have strokes. "Let's make sure we don't have mass panic," said lead researcher Esme Fuller-Thompson. "We don't know divorce causes stroke, we just know this association exists." She says the relationship could be due to exposure to stress, which can change a child's physiology. She also noted that the time at which these children experienced divorce was in the 1950s, when it wasn't as socially accepted as it is today.
8. Greater chance of getting divorced
University of Utah research Nicholas H. Wolfinger in 2005 released a study showing that children of divorce are more likely to divorce as adults. Despite aspiring to stable relationships, children of divorce are more likely to marry as teens, as well as marry someone who also comes from a divorced family. Wolfinger's research suggests that couples in which one spouse has divorced parents may be up to twice as likely to divorce. If both partners experienced divorce as children they are three times more likely to divorce themselves. Wolfinger said one of the reasons is that children from unstable families are more likely to marry young.
9. An early death
And rounding out the dreary research is an eight-decade study and book called The Longevity Project by Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin. Starting in 1921, researchers tracked some 1,500 boys and girls throughout their lives. More than one-third of the participants experienced either parental divorce or the death of a parent before the age of 21. But it was only the children of divorced families who died on average almost five years earlier than children whose parents did not divorce. The deaths were from causes both natural and unnatural, but men were more likely to die of accidents or violence. Generally, divorce lowered the standard of living for the children, which made a particular difference in the life longevity of women.

The biggest cyberattack in Internet history is happening right now

Trap streets: The crafty trick mapmakers use to fight plagiarismThe root of your slow Internet may stem from an international cyberwar.
The root of your slow Internet may stem from an international cyberwar.

hings on the web feel a little sluggish today? You aren't imagining things. Security experts claim that the largest cyberattack in Internet history is happening right now, slowing services like Netflix to a crawl and making other global websites completely unreachable. The traffic jam is all due to a very public spat between a Dutch webhosting company and a quiet spam-fighting organization. Here's what you need to know:
What's going on?
Spamhaus is a nonprofit that — you guessed it — helps organizations fight spam and other unwanted stuff by providing them with content filters. The company keeps tabs of malicious servers on exhaustive blacklists. The trouble began when Spamhaus blacklisted a Dutch company called CyberBunker, a service that offers hosting to any kind of website "except child porn and anything related to terrorism." A CyberBunker spokesman said that Spamhaus was abusing its power, and should not be allowed to decide "what goes and does not go on the Internet."
So who's attacking whom?Spamhaus says CyberBunker has been retaliating with powerful distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attacks. The attacks, which Spamhaus claims started on March 19, are reaching "previously unknown magnitudes, growing to a data stream of 300 billion bits per second," says the New York Times. (For comparison, similar DDoS attacks that crippled major banks peaked at 50 billion bits.) "It's a real number," says Patrick Gilmore, chief architect of Akamai Technologies, a digital content provider. "It is the largest publicly announced DDoS attack in the history of the Internet." 
So CyberBunker is attacking Spamhaus directly?Not exactly. CyberBunker doesn't appear to be responding to anyone's request for comment. Spamhaus, on the other hand, asserts that CyberBunker is cooperating with "criminal gangs" from Eastern Europe and Russia to coordinate the DDoS attacks. These attacks are said to be organized by "swarms of computers called botnets," says the Times. The technique "uses a long-known flaw in the Internet's basic plumbing," akin to "using a machine gun to spray an entire crowd when the intent is to kill one person." In other words, it's causing a major data pileup.
Who are these attacks affecting?
Not to get too technical, but the reason these attacks are so crippling is because they are flooding Spamhaus' Domain Name System, or DNS, with massive amounts of its own data. Spamhaus hosts 80 servers around the world, and hackers are "targeting every part of the Internet infrastructure that they feel can be brought down," says Steve Linford, chief executive of Spamhaus. As such, millions of Internet users trying to access the web may be experiencing delays. Security experts are concerned that as the attacks get more powerful, basic Internet services like email and banking may be jeopardized.
Who first discovered the attacks?
The attacks were first mentioned publicly by a Silicon Valley firm called CloudFlare, which was hired by Spamhaus for security. However, in trying to defend against the DDoS attacks, it, too, ended up being attacked. "These things are essentially like nuclear bombs," said CloudFlare chief executive Matthew Prince. "It's so easy to cause so much damage." Now, other companieslike Google are doing their part to make sure the Internet holds together, and are lending Spamhaus resources to "absorb all this traffic."

How to Choose a Camera

Having trouble deciding what camera to buy? Don't know what camera will fit your needs? Not sure what your needs are? Read this and find out.

Edit Steps

Define your needs

  1. 1
    Write down what your primary goal is. Why do you need a camera? If all you need is a camera for vacation snapshots, then a cheaper model might be better for you.
  2. 2
    Write down how many times you expect to be using the camera. The more you use it, the more likely you are to upgrade your camera. Buy nice or buy twice.
  3. 3
    Write down how much you want to spend. This is a good way to gauge what quality of camera you will be buying. Don't be afraid to go a little over so that you can get a camera that you will keep much longer.
  4. 4
    Decide if you want analog or digital. Both types have pluses and minuses:
    • Analog (film camera): Now that a good number of hobbyists and professionals are going digital, film cameras have the advantage of being extremely cheap compared to a digital camera of the same quality. Film cameras do not have the same issues with noise as low-range digital cameras, though of course you get grain from the film. On the other hand, developing film can get expensive if you're taking lots of photos. Bear in mind that you might want to include a good-quality scanner in your budget.
    • Digital: The main advantage of digital cameras is the ability to view the pictures that you have taken right after taking the shot. This results in not wasting money on unwanted prints and you can retake a shot if needed. A beginner should almost invariably buy a digital camera, not necessarily an expensive one though something with available manual control such as a mid-range point and shoot or low-end or old DSLR is good, since the process of improving generally involves taking a great many bad photos and seeing what went wrong. Digital cameras let one get through this process quickly and unconstrained by budget. You can also print and edit any picture you want. These days, you can go to Kodak or cord camera's website and upload your pictures and they'll send you prints for about 15 cents a pop. It's much cheaper to have a picture (or group of pictures) printed by a commercial printer than to print it yourself on an inkjet printer.

Point and Shoot vs SLR

  1. 1
    Familiarize yourself with the difference between SLR and Point and Shoot
    • Point and shoot cameras are just what they sounds like: you point your camera at the subject, zoom in or out, then press the button to take the picture. Such cameras require very little effort on the part of the photographer; they typically focus themselves and adjust themselves to light conditions.
    • An SLR (single-lens reflex) camera, on the other hand, is the sort of thing you see professional photographers use. With a DSLR (and many SLRs), you have total control over the photograph. You can adjust the shutter speed alone, the aperture alone, change the ISO speed to whatever you want, or just use it like a large point and shoot. Unlike point and shoot cameras, you can use interchangeable lenses. This means that you have a wide range of lenses to choose from depending on the manufacturer. The downsides of DSLRs are that they weigh more and don't record videos.
  2. 2
    Look at your needs. Do your needs really match up with what a SLR has to offer? Unless you're either experienced with an SLR or willing to learn the basics of using one, you don't need an SLR. As Bas Scheffers writes, "[i]n general, unless you have been using an SLR for years as advanced amateur or professional, if you need to read this article to learn about digital photography, you are not ready for a digital SLR. You have been warned."[1] SLRs also hit the wallet a little harder too. On the other hand, if you have any desire to capture fast moving kids/pets, the shutter lag of a point and shoot will make it impossible, and the only thing that can capture them is a DSLR.
  3. 3
    SLR cameras comes in digital and analog formats. With a digital SLR, you don't have to pay for film and developing fees, can experiment more freely, and can instantly see the picture after you take it. However, film SLRs can be purchased at a lower price and the cost of taking a picture can be help improve your photography skills because you'll be thinking more about if the picture can be further improved.
  4. 4
    If you are not sure about making photography your hobby, get a point and shoot with advanced options. They are not as expensive as an DSLR, but do give you the ability to experiment with different settings.


  1. 1
    Visit your local photo store and ask to try out some cameras. With digital you can snap a few shots right there in the store and see how you like it (alternatively, Flickr allows you to browse photos by camera type).
    • Is it too complicated? Will you avoid taking pictures because it's a pain?
    • Feel the weight. Is it too heavy to carry around while on vacation?
    • Feel if the camera is comfortable in your hands.
    • Take notes or ask for a brochure so you won't forget what you just had in your hands.

Mourinho hints at possible Chelsea return

The Real Madrid boss admits his future in Spain is uncertain and claims his next destination could be at a club he's already worked at
Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho has hinted he could return to Chelsea this summer.

The 50-year-old, who guided Chelsea to two Premier League titles before leaving the club in September 2007, has been linked with a move back to Stamford Bridge at the end of the season to succeed Rafael Benitez.

Speculation has grown over Mourinho's future in Spain after reports suggested that several senior figures in Real Madrid's squad were unhappy with their manager, while the Portuguese has also endured a mixed relationship with the club's fans this term.

Mourinho, who has also enjoyed successful spells at Porto and Inter, admits his future is uncertain but has not ruled out returning to one of his former clubs.

“I have an adventurous spirit and do not know what will happen next season,” Mourinho said at the opening of an exhibition in Setubal.

“It’s not easy to choose a new destination after working in England, Portugal, Italy and Spain. Maybe I could return to somewhere I’ve already been. Watch out for surprises.”

Kate Middleton Lookalike Shows off Latest 'Pregnant' Look

Heidi Agan quit  her  £6-an-hour job as a waitress in Kettering and now charges around £650 for an appearance as the Duchess of Cambridge. (Susan Scott Lookalikes)
Heidi Agan charges around £650 for an appearance as the Duchess of Cambridge (Susan Scott Lookalikes)
Heidi Agan, a single mother-of-two from Northamptonshire, is sporting an expectant mother look to keep pace with the Duchess of Cambridge, who is five months pregnant.
The royal lookalike now has a "bump made in various sizes".
"As Kate grows I will too - to be authentic I thought it was important," she told BBC News.
Last May, Agan quit her £6-an-hour job as a waitress in Kettering and now charges around £650 for an appearance as the Duchess of Cambridge.
She travels around the UK and the world, capitalising on her uncanny resemblance to the wife of the next in line to the throne.
"To have done 12 years of something you know and then to leap into an industry that gives with one hand and takes with another is difficult, but I'm just really happy and feel blessed that I did," she said.
Agan keeps up with social media sites such as Twitter to keep abreast of Kate Middleton's wardrobe, making sure her own fashion style matches that of the duchess.  

She feels it's important to get the clothes, mannerisms and Kate's body language with Prince William correct. "Things like that are all very important if I want to be the best."
However, Agan refused to say which of the royal brothers she found more attractive. "I don't think either William or Harry are my type, they are too tall... is that diplomatic enough?" she said.
The 32-year-old's latest appearance as Kate Middleton was in Corby, where Agan gave a royal performance at an event in Corporation Street.
It's not just the clothes and demeanour of the Duchess of Cambridge that are seen as highly desirable. The Daily Mail reported that requests to plastic surgeons from women wanting her nose have tripled since 2011.
"The symmetry of Kate's nose, the angle between her lip and the tip of her nose and the minimal amount of nostril on show, are all near-perfect," said plastic surgeon Maurizio Persico. "Her nose is straight with a cute, rounded tip and is perfectly in proportion to her face. This gives Kate an attractive and striking profile."
The real Kate Middleton?
The real Kate Middleton?
Susan Scott, who runs a lookalike agency in London, told the Daily Telegraph: "We haven't seen this sort of thing since Diana and with her it built up over a long time, it didn't start with her wedding like this has.
"We have already reached the same number of Kates as we had Dianas at its peak in the early 1990s."
The company has 50 Kate Middletons on its books and about 20 Prince Williams. Requests for the royal couple now make up 95 percent of bookings.
Royal lookalikes regularly charge an average of £1,000 a day.
Kate Bevan, a 22-year-old Kate Middleton lookalike, recently travelled to Hong Kong for four days of public appearances, receiving £3,500.
"I had people curtsy and ask for my autograph," she said. "I didn't think anyone in Hong Kong would even know who Kate Middleton is. But it was even more crazy there than in England."

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian To Break With Kustom and Kall their Baby 'North'

The couple have opted against continuing the K theme, say friends.

Rapper Kanye West and his girlfriend Kim Kardashian are said by friends to be considering breaking with family tradition by christening the baby they are expecting "North".
West, 35, and his reality star girlfriend are currently sounding out names, and are understood to have come up with a list of alternatives for the baby, due in July.
North is said to be top of the list, according to friends the couple consulted last month while in Paris for the city's fashion week.
Naming the baby North would mark a departure from custom for the Kardashians, with Kim's parents favouring the letter K when naming her siblings, Kourtney and Khloé.
West, meanwhile, is said to be mulling over a choice of title for his next album, with I Am God said to be frontrunner.
A source said: "Kanye's ego is something else, so he's quite serious about the title. He also has a sense of humour though, and knows how his self-indulgence is seen by the general public.

"It's half tongue-in-cheek, half what Kanye probably feels is true."
The couple have not officially confirmed the gender of their expected child, though it is rumoured to be a boy.
The couple have enrolled in prenatal training together, according to Hollywood Life.
"Kanye is going to do everything he needs to do to make sure Kim delivers his baby," said the unnamed source. "If that means he has to go to classes and help her breathe, he's going to be there.
"If he has to hold her hand and she squeezes the hell out of it, he's going to be one hand short. If he has to cut the cord, he's going to cut it."
Actress Gwyneth Paltrow and pop singer husband Chris Martin attracted derision after opting to call their daughter Apple, while David and Victoria Beckham raised eyebrows with their choices of Romeo, Brooklyn, Harper and Cruz.