Podcasts For You

Blog Post Graphic "Podcasts For You"

The Wonderful World Of Podcasts

I’m excited to tell you about the latest podcasts I’ve found. Ever since I wrote about discovering podcasts in Listen and Learn, I’ve gradually been broadening my net and I’ve got some great ones to share with you today.

Whatever your interest there’s a show for you. And the wonderful thing is that many podcasts turn difficult topics into interesting and understandable episodes. What’s more they enlighten and explain in an entertaining way. After being bogged down in the daily grind of teaching for the last few years these podcasts have opened up my mind again. Here are three of my current passions.

Hidden Brain

Hidden Brain opens up the world of psychology to ordinary people like you and me. The first episode I listened to was an interview with celebrated actor Alan Alda, about good and bad ways to communicate. ” Alan is a tremendous actor, so this was a particularly digestible podcast to introduce me to the world of Hidden Brain. It was funny and full of anecdotes, but certainly got the point across. It made me want to read his book too. “If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look On My Face?” Just the title is enough to get me hooked, now that I know the book exists.

Since that first episode, I’ve listened to podcasts about

  • Envy (Counting Other People’s Blessings)
  • Judgement and memory (Think Fast with Daniel Kahneman)
  • The “double bind” facing women in power (Men: 45, Women: 0)
  • And a fascinating one about how the language you speak can shape how you see the world (Lost In Translation.)

How I Built This

How I Built This tells the stories of entrepreneurs who have built some of the iconic businesses we know and love today. Yesterday I listened to Jimmy Wales describe how Wikipedia came into being. Last week I heard how James Dyson made 5000+ prototypes of his revolutionary vacuum cleaner, one at a time in his back-garden shed, before the first version finally hit the market. Grit, determination, teamwork and the ability to recognise and grab an opportunity when it comes along seem to categorise each of the inspiring people I’ve listened to so far. I need to get more of that, for sure!

Planet Money

I’ve just begun listening to Planet Money, but if all its episodes are as interesting as “The Golden Rules” I know that I’ll love this podcast too. Did you know that a US citizen can still go and literally drive a stake in the ground on public land and stake a gold claim? The law that governs that is still the one that was drafted during the 1800s gold rush. I wonder if we can do that in New Zealand?

As the name suggests, this podcast channel is all about economics, something most of us should probably understand better than we do. I’m all for something that will help me know more about how economies big and small are run.

All three of these channels are part of the NPR (National Public Radio) network in the USA so of course they’re slanted towards American tastes and attitudes. I still found them fascinating, and broad enough so that other cultures could enjoy them too.

There are several other podcasts currently on my radar. If I love them I’ll let you know in my fortnightly newsletter. For a round-up of recent posts, and exclusive newsletter content, please subscribe in the button below or in my pop-up.  It would be wonderful to meet you there.


Quizzing Trivia Online

There’s nothing like a good dose of quizzing trivia to stimulate your mind, exercise your memory and keep your brain active. Pub quizzes, TV shows, quiz games and even the newspaper are all great sources of trivia entertainment. But today I want to introduce you to my favourite: the online world of Sporcle.

What’s Great About Sporcle?

Sporcle is a Quiz Master’s dream: a free website with an enormous number of quizzes available, in a variety of styles. You can go with the flow and click on their popular or suggested links. Categories gives another set of choices, or you can search for a particular quiz or topic. There’s a blog and a quiz lab.  Groups and badges provide extra encouragement and you even have the opportunity to create your own quiz if you’re so inclined.

All these features are great; easy to use and the ads which pay for it all are not intrusive. But there’s another reason why I love Sporcle, and that’s the way it helps me learn.

Quizzing Trivia Teaches New Knowledge

I love trivia but there are many gaps in my knowledge, and Sporcle is an excellent way to fill them in. For years geography has been my downfall at the local quiz competition. To my everlasting chagrin I just couldn’t get my head around where all the countries fitted in around the globe. Not anymore.

Thanks to Sporcle, I can name all 197 countries large and small, and locate them on the map what’s more. I can tell you the 50 states of the US as well (and name all the Presidents for good measure.)

This didn’t come easy. I’ve had to do those particular quizzes countless times to learn all that, so I have to tell you I’m quietly proud of those achievements. It doesn’t stop there. I’ve just mastered the Nato Alphabet, another one of those little lists that I always wanted to know.

To Sum Up

All in all, I find Sporcle an interesting, informative, time-consuming website. It broadens my knowledge, improves my memory and stimulates my brain, all at the same time. It exercises my self-control muscle too: I have to finish this article before I’m “allowed” to do another quiz.

How To Write Great Comments on the Internet

Coffee cup, iPad and notepad

Do’s and Don’ts + One Simple Facebook Tip

We’ve all seen them. Facebook posts, blog posts, articles, instagram, tweets the list goes on and on. And every single one invites you to comment. In fact comments are everywhere on the internet these days. Sometimes it seems like the Web has become one gi-normous chat room. But how do you make great comments? What are the do’s and don’ts? And why should you even comment in the first place? Well, friend, read on. I’m about to reveal all.

What is a comment?

An internet comment is a written expression of your reaction to a piece of content that you’ve read or viewed. It could be a blog post, an article in an online newspaper, a YouTube video, a Facebook post, a forum, a podcast and so on. Most of these types of content will include an invitation for you to comment and a comment box to make it easy to do so.

5 reasons why you should comment.

Comments are a wonderful way to interact with another person. Here are five good reasons why you should take the time to comment on that post you read today.

  1. You can start or contribute to a conversation. If you spend much time online, you are probably spending time alone. By making a comment you are interacting with other people — sometimes in real time, but often over a period of time so that you keep coming back to the conversation to see what other people have said. This gives you a real sense of engagement with that community, whether it be a blog, Facebook group, friend, in a forum etc.
  2. Your feedback can make all the difference to the writer. As a new blogger I can tell you that I treasure each and every comment that someone makes on my blog because it means that person has not only gone to the trouble of reading my post, but also it has stirred them enough to want to express an opinion. I get very excited about the comments my work receives.
  3. You could learn something new. It’s surprising what you can learn from comments. Last week I made a contribution to a discussion about dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome. When I went back to that conversation the next day, a whole host of others from all over the world had chimed in with different treatments that had worked for them. There were also comments about the many causes of CTS, links to websites, videos and a whole host of encouragement for the woman who originally posted. Since I’m planning an article on carpal tunnel at some stage, this was a great conversation for me to be part of, and you can be sure I’ve saved the link in Facebook so that I can return to it when I’m ready to start writing that post.
  4. You will keep in contact with a friend. Even though the world’s a big place, social media makes it so easy to keep in touch. But don’t just read what your friend has written and press like. A comment shows them that you care about them. I have friends from all over the world and I rarely get to see them face to face. A yearly Christmas card was once the best we managed. Sometimes not even that, and it was so easy to lose touch. Then along came Facebook and voila! Keeping in contact has become so simple. Writing a comment doesn’t take long, but it shows that I care and want to maintain that friendship.
  5. You can make a difference. Your input into a conversation could make a real difference. Your answer in a forum might be just what is needed. Your question might be what someone else was too scared to ask. Your viewpoint might give another person food for thought. Your opinion might be just what someone else needed to hear.

Don’t be scared to make a comment — it’s a great way to connect online, to express your opinion and to start a conversation.

Commenting do’s and don’ts.

DO  be thoughtful. Your comments should show you care, and want to give a genuine opinion or reaction.

DO  be helpful. Carry on a conversation. Answer a question. Provide a link that answers the question. Be a friend.

DO  think about an appropriate length for your comment. Sometimes a short sentence or phrase is best. Other times a longer form will suit. Occasionally it might feel like you’re making a whole new post. Comment appropriately for that type of media.

DO  check out the rules of the group. Many groups have rules about the type of comments that can be given and whether links or promotions are allowed. The rules are usually pinned to the top of the group board in Facebook.

DON’T BE A TROLL. People who leave hurtful, unhelpful or downright rude comments are known in the online world as TROLLS. There are some places where I never bother to look at the comments. Online newspapers are one. I cannot understand why people feel the need to be offensive online in these places. Nine times out of ten, I can guarantee they would never make such a comment face to face. On many blogs these days, there are specific rules excluding Trolls. All comments are marked “Pending Approval.” If you make a troll-like comment it will be excluded and you could even be blocked from that site. On Facebook sites, the rules are often explicit:

Facebook group rules are often explicitly against negativity. That’s not to say that you can’t express a valid opinion, just be very careful how you phrase it.

I’ll say it again: DON’T BE A TROLL.

DON’T “over comment.” There’s such a thing as commenting too much. A good rule of thumb is to only comment on things you’re really interested in, or have something relevant to say. Don’t comment just for the sake of commenting because it can begin to look like spam. There’s a line between making helpful, friendly comments and beginning to seem like a stalker. Use your common sense here.

One Simple Facebook Tip As Promised.

I’ve done it. You’ve done it. We’ve all seen it, probably countless times.

You make a comment on Facebook, press post and THEN realise that you’ve made a mistake. That spelling error glares out at you.Or auto-correct has “helpfully” changed a word, unnoticed until after you pressed send. Or you re-read the original post and realise that you’ve misunderstood and your comment is irrelevant, or worse, inappropriate. So do you either hope no-one notices? (They will.) Or post a second comment along the lines of “Oops! Stupid auto correct! I really meant to say…” (Clumsy).


You can edit your comment. Yes folks, you can just change that comment and eliminate the mistake forever.

How to edit your comment on Facebook.

If you notice the mistake immediately after you published…

On an iPad: simply press and hold your finger on the comment and it will immediately offer you the chance to edit.

On a computer: hover the mouse on the comment and three little dots will appear beside it at the bottom of the text. Click those and you get the option to edit or delete.

If you notice the mistake later…

On both devices click on the three horizontal dots on the top right corner of your comment. “Edit” will be among the options that appear.

The three dots at the top right of your comment allow you to edit or delete.

That’s it. Save yourself the embarrassment of inaccurate posts with the simple application of the Edit Button.

BONUS TIPS: Facebook etiquette links



To Sum It All Up.

Comments can be a great way to show you care. They help you interact with friends, colleagues and groups online. Sensible comments help you engage with a wider audience, and can even help you build a positive online presence, if that is your goal. They help to build your sense of engagement and connection with the world on the web.

Be diplomatic with your commenting. Keep them respectful and fair. Comment when you genuinely have something to say, but don’t comment on everything. Don’t risk looking like a spammer and above all else don’t get a reputation as a troll.

The best quote to remember is one I’m sure we’ve all heard our mothers say.

So, have you been passively reading online? “Liking” your friends posts but never engaging or posting your own thoughts? Are you a quiet observer who follows, enjoys, even takes on advice sometimes, but stays very much in the background? Maybe you even get a newsletter, or follow on social media, but you’ve never hit reply.

Well, make a comment today.

You’ll be amazed at how much more connected you feel to that group or that friend when you begin to interact. Strike up a conversation. Write a reply. Do more than just pressing Like. You could brighten someone’s day — and they could positively make your day in return.


The Easiest Tech Tip Ever

Mobile phone charging

How many chargers do you have in your life? How many flash drives/USB sticks/”those stick things”? I’ve got thousands!

Well no, of course that’s a massive exaggeration, but it’s fair to say I’ve got heaps. And I bet you’ve got a few too.

Now, when you come to insert a charger into your phone/tablet/other device, or a flash drive into a USB port this is what happens: you try to put it in one way — it doesn’t work. Then you turn it the other way — it still doesn’t work. SO you turn it back the first way and hey presto! It goes in.

I have wasted hours of my life trying to put those damn things into their slots. (Oops – exaggeration again. Well, minutes, anyway.)

Today I noticed this.

Charging Cable Symbol


That tiny symbol means THIS WAY UP. It’s on (almost) every thingamy I own.

Please tell me I’m not alone in never noticing this before!!!

In my (and possibly your) defense, the size of the symbol ranges from tiny to miniscule, and the colour range is THE most difficult imaginable for my poor old eyes, BUT STILL…

I will never have a problem with this again.

And neither will you.

Bonus Tip 1. I just found out that the “thingamy” is actually called a connector. USB charging cables

Bonus Tip 2. To make life even easier I’ve drawn a bright red dot on the symbol side of each and every connector I own.

Save Your Phone From the Kids.

girl playing on mobile phone

There are plenty of reasons why you should keep kids away from your phone.  

Too much screen time.

Have you seen how much time children spend in front of screens of all shapes and sizes these days?  Television, tablet, iPod, Computer, It’s scary when you add it all up. They don’t need to touch your phone too.

Much better to send them outside to play — or settle down with a game, or a book. Old-fashioned fun it may be to them, but it’s a much-needed break from the realities of modern life. You could join in — after all, you need a break too.

They might muck up your settings.

After all, you spent a LONG time getting your phone just so. Everything is  exactly where you want it. Let the kids loose on it and who knows where every app will end up. And there’s nothing more frustrating than searching in a desperate hurry for the app that used to be on your home page and isn’t any more.

You have important stuff in there.

Emails, texts, contacts, banking apps… there’s plenty of information on your phone that you really don’t want anyone to share. One wrong finger tap and it could all disappear — or be shared with the world. Either way, it’s enough to make you grab your phone back now.

But the REAL reason you should never let kids near your phone is…

They will beat your high scores every single time!


Listen and Learn

A whole new vista has opened before my eyes — or should I say “before my ears”. Inspirational talks, new skills and even controversial opinions are taking my brain by storm. And best of all, it fits perfectly into my day. What is this new love? Welcome to the wonderful world of podcasting.

A podcast? What’s that?

A podcast is an audio file which you can access on the internet. You can listen to it online or download it to hear offline at a later date. Podcasts are often done as a series of installments and the ones that I follow are a bit like audible blogs in the fields that interest me — education, inspiration,  and of course, blogging.

Podcasts are broadcast by all sorts of different people and websites and are available on just about any topic you care to mention. A simple Google search will generate dozens of possibilities.

But I don’t have time to be stuck by the computer all day.

Neither do I. And this was my biggest problem when I first discovered podcasts.

But you can listen to a podcast on any device.

Particularly, you can download them onto your phone. This is a game changer. My favourite listening times are during my morning walk and on long drives. We have lousy radio reception where I live, and a limited CD collection in the car, so I was beyond delighted to discover the podcast alternative.

So how do you do it?

You will need to install a podcast app onto your smartphone from either Play Store (android) or the App Store ( iPhones).

There are lots of different ones out there, and it can be hard to choose.

Think about what features are important to you and what amount you’re prepared to pay. When looking at an app, click on  READ MORE and a full description will appear explaining all the features of the app. Return to the short version and scroll down to see the user ratings and reviews.

Which app did you choose?

I use CastBox. (The latest, version with the orange icon.)

It was simple to download and install. On opening it asked me a few questions about my interests and then recommended some podcasts based on those. However, I knew the podcasters I particularly wanted to follow, and it was easy to type each one into the search box. Up came the link and I hit “subscribe.”

Once subscribed, a series is then in my list. It’s easy to choose a few episodes, download them at home where I have plenty of internet data, then listen offline while I’m walking or driving. Piece of cake!

Make sure you delete them afterwards though — you don’t want too many podcasts taking up space on your phone.

Now I’m not affiliated to CastBox and get no advertising revenue from mentioning them. I actually chose them because they had replied to a comment on the reviews, which mentioned a bug in that app. The reply explained that there was a new version in which that bug had been fixed. I found it and the rest is history.

So now you know. All it takes is a digital device and the right app.

Be inspired, informed or entertained: it’s all at your fingertips.

What are you waiting for? Make a start. Join the wonderful world of podcasting today.