360 Feedback: A Transformational Approach by Elva R Ainsworth – A Review

I have to say at the outset that 360° Feedback is a book that has surprised me; I was expecting a somewhat dour and tedious tome, but instead I have found a wonderfully informative book with many outstanding features. To name a few of them: the book is thorough, erudite, fluent, insightful, practical, compassionate as well as being passionate – Elva is a true advocate of the 360° Feedback process; not only has she read deeply in and around the topic, but she has also, as her text makes clear, done some serious work with serious organisations in enabling them to gain considerable benefits from the process. On top of all that, Elva has a real talent for one-liners or one sentence that perfectly encapsulates the core of what she wants to say. For example, “Acceptance of things the way they are is the route to happiness and satisfaction”, or “if you are highly commercial, for instance, you are highly unlikely to be very empathic”. This is a very direct and effective style of writing.

So what does the book cover? There are 11 chapters and we start with understanding change and what the conditions are for true, transformational change. Some of this may be familiar, but sometimes it is necessary to go back to basics: be clear on intentions, understand forces of resistance, design the intervention that leads to change that sticks – because it forms new actions, new habits. But from this base we move into 360° Feedback in chapter two and what it provides: data. Citing Craig Mundie, “Data is becoming the new raw material of business”, she goes on to identify the kind of data that works – that works at triggering effective change. For HR this data must be: Reliable, Valid, Credible, and Opinions, which a ‘well-constructed 360° tool’ provides, must comply with these three criteria. Step by step Ainsworth draws out the implications of data: what does it tell us, and what does it mean should be done? Alongside this, there is also plenty of illustrations of the kind of distortions that creep into data analysis, and which must be resisted.

Chapter 3 goes into the deeper philosophy of 360° Feedback and it is great to report that Ainsworth’s reading is not just the usual management suspects; she has read widely across a whole range of fields, so that, for example, Ken Wilbur becomes a frequently quoted guiding light in her deliberations. Then in chapter 4 we learn how to construct a 360° feedback assessment tool. There is some fabulous advice and insight in this chapter and anyone in HR or elsewhere seriously wanting to construct their own assessment must read this chapter. For example, the advice on the number of questions likely to be useful in covering a competency: 12 for leadership being a minimum but still too many, so then how to go back and re-define the competence. This chapter is quite brilliant in enabling the reader to understand how a 360° Feedback tool needs to be constructed.

Now the focus shifts: in Chapter 5-7 we consider how the feedback makes the individual subject feel, for if they are left feeling negative, then the whole process has become counter-productive. This is a huge issue; for it will come as no surprise that it is very easy for human beings to take a dim view of the process that is being done to them. We come to explore Ainsworth’s best techniques for preventing mishap, then. Effectively, the advice is really relevant not just to consultants, but all managers and coaches who have to feedback any aspect of an individual’s performance, but in this case it is specifically feedback from all across the organisation. There are too many good ideas to cover in this short review, but perhaps for me the most striking observation are the ones about the double-sided coin of listening and asking good questions. Doing this kind of work really does require advanced interpersonal skills, including the ability not to be phased under pressure.

Chapters 8-9 explore how the data can be misinterpreted and what to do about it. Finally, in chapters 10-11 we cover getting buy in from a ‘partner in the cause’, preferably someone senior; and a chapter on getting us to realise that unless 360° Feedback is integrated into some higher purpose is will not fulfil its potential for the organisation. It is in other words a feature contributing – hopefully – towards a much bigger benefit. All in all, then, a fabulous book.

That said though, I have to say that I have 3 reservations, not about the book per se, but about 360° Feedback generally; the book does not remove my reservations.

First, 360° Feedback seems to me, despite the claim that it can be done for ‘nothing’ – “It can be delivered at no cost” – an incredibly expensive undertaking. Forget even the cost of consultants and do it yourself, still the time taken to construct a really effective – reliable, valid, credible – instrument would be enormous; time taken to brief and get buy-in would be even more; and then we have all the time taken getting people to report on each other; and then the time taken to analyse the results and ensure correct data interpretation; followed by feedback and implementation itself. Phew! I mean, who can afford all this?

And second, I dislike 360° Feedback for another reason: namely, it seems to me a usurpation of the manager’s central function – to give feedback to his/her team members in order either to improve performance or enhance personal/career development. Why are we paying managers to do that if we need 360° Feedback to cover its tracks? Put another way, why aren’t the managers better? It’s as if we have a problem but rather than tackling the real problem we sort out another one instead.

But third, and this is where the book alas – because it is so good – only reinforces my prejudice: you need a PhD to implement 360° Feedback!!! How the everyday HR professional can find the time to master all the knowledge and skills they are going to need to make this happen flies in the face of reality so far as I am concerned. Sure, there will be those few – as there are for some a-typical psychometric or other esoteric tool or idea – who will love this stuff: indeed, getting their CEO to sign off on it will all be part of their own personal development programme – job done – but I cannot see this ever becoming mainstream as dynamic as it potentially is.

Thus, I conclude that this is a wonderful book, well worth reading, and mining for good ideas, but I am sceptical as to whether this really is a viable solution for any organisation (unless it has very deep pockets) to use to transform itself. There are other, I think, more effective tools, but here’s to Elva Ainsworth: I love her expertise and her enthusiasm, they are very contagious!

The Importance of Gold in Chinese Culture

All of us are well aware of the fact, that different parts of the world possess different kinds of cultures and each one is different from the other. Gold is a metal that has great significance in several cultures of the world. The Chinese are one of the oldest civilisations in the world. This is something that makes the Chinese culture relatively more complex than the rest of the cultures.

Considering that the Chinese civilization is very old, it has seen many rulers and forms of governments. Since ancient times, gold is associated with good luck and is considered to be the colour of emperors. As it was considered a lucky sign, the emperors used to wear gold coloured clothes and also used to wear accessories that had gold on them or were golden coloured.

The significance of gold makes the golden colour a very important part of the Chinese culture. Gold as well as the golden colour has always been considered to be a symbol of lavishness in the Chinese culture. This has an association with the emperors using gold and golden colour.

People with a high status tend to use more gold; and gold items are considered to be a great gift. In the Chinese culture, the golden colour as well as gold are considered to be an earthly element and are a representation of wealth in the Chinese Four Pillars of Destiny.

The fact that Chinese culture is a complex one also reveals that the golden colour has a sort of dual meaning and it is the mourning colour used by the Chinese Buddhists. Besides this fact, the fact still remains that gold is an important part of all the important festivals of the Chinese culture.

The Spring Festival that takes place in China at the beginning of the Chinese New Year is one of the times when the demand of gold in China is very high and gold as well as jewellery sales go up significantly. This is the time when people buy gold for themselves, and also for their loved ones as gifts. The festival is an important part of the Chinese culture and triggers the sales of gold in China every year.

The dragons are an important mythological symbol that is prevalent in the Chinese culture. Gold is also used in the making of these dragons. Gold colour is used in abundance and there are also other small pieces used on these dragons for decoration purposes. Embroidery is also done using special kind of thread that is gold plated for making these dragons as wall hangings.

The cultural significance of gold is evident from the fact that gold has been a very important part of the Chinese currency since very old times. It is also a very important part of the Chinese art. A company was established in China in 1987, which makes commemorative coins that were made of gold. These coins are made in different designs on different occasions with a depiction of a particular event on the coin. This is a very important part of the Chinese art and culture.

The Advantageous Properties of Leather

Leather is a wonderful material with many uses. It’s unique properties and characteristics make it the ideal choice for many different applications. Here we will discuss some of the most useful properties of leather.

It has a high tensile strength and is resistant to tearing, flexing and puncturing. This helps leather items last for a long time while retaining their look and feel.

It is a good heat barrier and provides excellent heat insulation. Leather contains a large amount of air and air is a poor conductor of heat. This makes leather a very comfortable item for the human skin.

It is able to hold large quantities of water vapor such as human perspiration and then dissipate it later. This makes leather a comfortable item to wear or sit on.

Leather’s thermostatic properties make it warm in the winter and cool in the summer. This makes leather comfortable to wear.

It can be made to stiffen or can be made to be flexible. It can be molded into a certain shape and then remolded into another shape later.

Leather is resistant to abrasion in both wet and dry environments. This makes leather an excellent protector of human skin.

It is resistant to heat and fire. It is also resistant to fungal growth such as mildew.

It consists of many fibers that are breathable. This breathability makes it very comfortable to wear in any climate.

Leather can be dyed many different colors that makes it attractive in the production of leather clothing, as a cover for furniture and for many other color sensitive applications.

It is can be soft and supple. Leather clothing becomes a literal second skin. It warms to your body temperature. It is not itchy and does not scratch. It is non-irritating to the skin.

Leather is a fantastic material with excellent physical properties that enables it to be used in many diverse applications from furniture to clothing.

Top 5 FPS Games For Android Of 2016

Modern Combat 5: Blackout

Modern Combat 5: Blackout comes at the top of the list of top FPS games of 2016. Though it was released in 2014, it has maintained its position ever since. In the first mission of the game the beautiful city, Venice, is shown under terrorist attack and, as always, an American Marine, Caydon Phoenix, has come forward to save the world.

The game actually deserves its position in the list for its awesome storyline, the hero has unveiled a conspiracy, in which, Gilman, the world’s biggest private security contactor is involved, and outstanding graphics with all the minor details underwater and camera movement when the hero performs some stunt. The game has variety of missions. Sometimes you find yourself saving someone and sometimes you are destroying terrorists’ destructive plans. The gameplay is pretty addictive and you do not stop until you kill every last terrorist on earth.

Dead Trigger 2

Another game in the list of top FPS games is Dead Trigger 2 which gives plenty of fun to the crazy people for whom killing zombies is the best time pass activity. Super fun gameplay and unparalleled graphics make you fall in love with this game. The storyline is that: more than half of the population of the world is infected by an incurable disease and has made the world a living hell for those who have managed to survive, but the battle of survival is on until all the undead are really dead.

The game gives you plenty of choice in picking the killing tool, from simple wrench to the heavy guns that you can buy at the end of the mission with the money that is collected during the mission or these guns can also be bought with the real money if you cannot wait to tear apart zombies with the big weapons.

Deer Hunter 2016

Another amazing First Person Shooting game whose amazing, realistic graphics make you feel like a real predator is leaping on you. Contrary to the name of the game, you not only get to hunt deer but also world’s most vicious animals in the places, which, seem like have never been visited by any human being before. You are supplied by a double barrel shotgun that makes killing animals more enjoyable.

Fields Of Battle

Fields Of Battle is one the best strategy games I have ever come around. It is actually a paintball shooting game with dozens of guns and locations.

You have to be real sneaky to survive on the battle field. You get eliminated by a single shot which makes you take every step with great care. This game has lean left/right feature around the corners. Field skills can be improved by playing in practice mode. The game becomes more fun when played in multiplayer where you can build your own team with your friends. It plays like a console game.

Zombie Gunship

Another game for those who feel enmity with the zombies and get relived by killing the undead. This game comes up with the crystal clear graphics with detailed reflections, shadows and explosions. Unlike other zombie games you do not run the risk of being bitten by a zombie because you are air borne in the AC-130 which is load out with 25mm Gatling gun, 40mm Bofors auto-cannon, and 105mm Howitzer cannon. All you have to do is aiming and killing the unearthly creatures.

Love by Leo Buscaglia

“To cheat oneself out of love is the most terrible deception; it is an eternal loss for which there is no reparation, either in time or in eternity.” – Kierkegaard

This is a book simply about LOVE. “A learned phenomenon”.

It is not deeply philosophical nor complicated. It is a simple, easy read that is intended to be shared not just in words, but in actions. It is about daring to expose oneself. To be vulnerable and to give without reservation or expectation.

I picked up this book in January 1984 and carried it and read it over and over through the years. It brought me great joy and great hope during a time where I was young and feeling rebellious, invincible and strong. At 22, I felt as though this was the greatest book I had ever read. It was the right time in my life for me to explore, to learn and understand what love meant to me. While, as far as I know, it never won any awards, I loved it then and I still love it now with it’s yellowed and curled pages.

Now about Karma; although he does not use that word in the book, he does discuss the way love gives back when we kindly give to others. How what we do in this world will be mirrored back to us.

Leo was a University professor by profession. He had an idea for a new class to add to the curriculum. He wanted to introduce a university class on “LOVE”. When he pitched his idea to the dean, and with much discussion it was accepted, (after much criticism), but only if he did it on his own time, without load credit and without a salary. The idea seemed ridiculous to the other professors. He ignored the ridiculing and forged ahead with this great idea. The idea was not embraced by many students but slowly and steadily, enrollment increased. It had to be eventually capped at 100 students.

These were students of all ages interested in “Love Class”. They shared ideas, feeling and observations that was relevant to the human condition. Although they were never really able to define love, one student did come up with a wonderful explanation:

“I find love much like a mirror. When I love another, he becomes my mirror and I become his, and reflection in each other’s love we see infinity!”

There are those that dismiss love as a naïve romantic concept while others find love all encompassing and the greatest, deepest feeling that is meant to be given away.

Have a read and you decide.

I loved this book.

Adobe Flash Player: A Risk To Privacy and Security

Adobe Flash Player: a greater risk to privacy and security than you may realize

Do you know that if you have Adobe’s Flash Players plugin installed on your web browser that your internet activity and history is potentially being tracked and used without your knowledge or permission? Just managing your web browser’s tracking cookie through your web browser doesn’t prevent your internet browsing activity, and its history, from being tracked. Additionally, just keeping your computer current and fully patched with all of Microsoft’s critical updates keeps your computer safe from hackers, think again. Even using an antivirus program, with the most current virus definitions current doesn’t always prevent your computer and privacy from being at risk.

Recently I came across a news article that caught my eye. It was a New York Times technology piece with the title “Code that tracks users’ browsing prompts lawsuits” (Vega, 2010). This article reports about the increasing number of consumers taking legal action against companies that track their web activity without the consumer’s knowledge or permission. Adobe’s Flash Player is the main conduit for capturing this tracking data. This isn’t the first time that Adobe’s Flash player has created legal privacy issues. In 2008, Windows Secrets Newsletter published an article on Adobe’s Flash cookie privacy issues. Recently they published another article called “Eliminate Flash-spawned “zombie” cookies” following up on the same issue (Leonhard, 2010). Adobe has done little to resolve this issue. These law suits are directed at Adobe and other companies that collect and sell information about your web browsing activity without your knowledge or permission. Another ominous contention is that some companies are surreptitiously using Flash cookies to glean information from your browser, even though you have your web browser set to reject tracking cookies.

How does this happen

Adobe’s Flash Player browser plugin uses and stores Flash cookies on your computer, separate from your better known browser HTML cookies. Both types of cookies are used to store browsing and site preferences, along with your browsing history and tracking information. Flash cookies, like your web browser cookies, are small bits of data saved by the websites you visit. These websites use these cookies to store website settings and info (like your name, preferences, Flash game scores, etc.), to track website behavior, and to target you for specific advertisements. They can also create what is known as persistent identification element to uniquely identify you and track what websites you have visited.

Flash cookies are not managed through your web browser’s cookie settings. This same Flash cookies storage area can also be used to store a copy of your browser’s cookies, allowing Adobe’s Flash to recreate cookies that have been previously deleted from your browser, i.e. spawned ‘zombie’ cookies.

What to do to protect yourself

Adobe doesn’t make it easy for users to manage Flash cookies. By default, when Flash Player is installed, it automatically allows third parties to store and access your computer. To change these settings you need to access Flash’s Global Setting Manager. The easiest, most straight forward way to get started is to open your web browser and copy the Adobe URL listed in my references (Ezinearticles does not allow me to place the link here). Or do a Google search on: “adobe flash player setting manager.” The macromedia.com link should be the first and second items found.

This will take you to the Global Setting panel for Adobe’s Flash Player (see Adobe Flash Player Global Setting Manager below). The image embedded on the web page is the actual management console, not a picture. The current version of this panel has eight panels or tabs. Each tab covers a different aspect of privacy and security. You may want to add this to your browser’s Favorites for future reference.

Adobe Flash Player Global Setting Manager Global Privacy Settings

The first tab on the Global Setting Manager is for your computer’s camera and microphone settings. You have the option of setting this as “Always deny…” or “Always ask…” The “Always ask…” option forces the Flash Player to ask for your permission before allowing a third-party to access your computer’s camera and microphone. “Always deny…” does just that, it always denies permission to access your camera and microphone. You will not receive any notification that a third-party tried to access either your camera of microphone with this option.

Your current settings are not displayed. Clicking on “Always deny…” or “Always ask…” overrides any previous global setting made for this. This setting is for sites you have not already visited. I recommend that you select the “Always ask” option. This will allow you the option of using an interactive flash site, requiring the use of your camera and microphone. You will be prompted to confirm your selection.

You will always be prompted for your permission at any website requesting access to your camera and microphone.

Global Flash Cookie Storage Settings

The second tab of the Global Setting Manager controls how much disk space you will allow for new web sites (third-parties) to store information, Flash cookies, on your computer. By denying all, you may prevent some websites from functioning correctly.

This panel determines the amount of disk space you will automatically allow third-parties to use for websites you have not already visited. Some websites may not function correctly if you do not allow some disk space storage. This is the total amount for each website. If a website needs or wants more you will receive a prompt to allow or disallow this additional space (see below). Your installed Flash Player must be version 8, or newer, to have the option of allowing or disallowing third-party flash content. If your Flash version is older than version 9, you will not have the option to allow/disallow storage and sharing of common Flash components.

The suggested settings that work for me are shown above. The Allow third-party Flash, and Store common Flash, are needed by a lot of sites to allow them to function correctly.

Global Security Settings

The third tab is the Global Security Settings panel. This panel controls how Shockwave Flash (SWF) and Flash Video (FLV) are handled. The problem with these types of files is that they can contain applets or computer scripts that can be used to collect and share information about you without your knowledge or permission. Both SWF and FLV files can be embedded on web pages. These files can and do exchange audio, video, and data using Macromedia’s Real Time Messaging Protocol. It is possible for SWF or FLV content stored locally on your computer to communicate with the Internet without your knowledge of permission.

I recommend setting this to “Always ask.” If a website needs to store Flash cookies on your computer, you will be prompted for permission. By being prompted, you will be aware of the website’s tracking activity.

Global Flash Update Notification Setting

The fourth tab is the Global Notification Settings panel. This is where you set how often Flash checks for updates. I recommend enabling this feature and having Flash check for updates at least every seven days. I strongly recommended that Flash updates be installed as soon as possible for security reasons. By keeping your Flash Player updated, you make the malicious code writers’ job just a little harder. The security vulnerabilities for Flash Player plugins are very well-known.

After installing any Flash updates you should validate that your privacy and security settings have not changed. With previous Flash updates, the settings within the Flash manager have reverted back to default, i.e. wide-open, settings.

Protected Content/License Settings

The fifth tab is the Protected Content Playback Settings panel. When you purchase or rent Flash “protected” content, license files are downloaded to your computer. Sometimes these files become corrupted. By resetting these files, new licenses can be downloaded. This option should only be used when protected Flash content is not playing correctly, and a technician has advised you to reset the licenses files. This will reset ALL license files stored on your computer; you are not able to select individual files.

If you click on the “Reset License Files” button you will be prompted to confirm or cancel your selection.

Website Privacy Settings

The sixth tab is the Website Privacy Settings panel. This is the list of websites you have granted permission to store data on your computer. This panel is where you can “Always ask,” “Always allow,” or “Always deny” access you your computer’s camera and microphone.

The recommended setting is “Always ask” or “Always deny.” You can edit these by highlighting the website and change the permission or delete the website. You can also remove all the websites from this list by selecting “Delete all sites.” The settings on this panel override the default setting from the Global Privacy Settings panel for these particular websites.

If you choose to delete a website from this list you are prompted for confirmation.

Note: The list of websites displayed in this and the following panels are stored on your computer and displayed to allow you to view and change your local settings. Adobe claims that it has no access to this list, or to any of the information that the websites may have stored on your computer.

Website Storage Settings

The seventh tab is the Website Storage Settings panel. This lists all the websites that you have visited that use Flash content, and how much storage they are using on your computer. You can change the amount of storage you allow, delete individual websites, or all the websites. This panel overrides the Global Storage panel settings.

On a Windows 7 computer, the storage location for these files is: C:Usersuser_nameApplication DataMacromediaFlash Player in a folder called #SharedObjects or a subfolder of: macromedia.comsupportflashplayersys.

Note: Deleting the website using the Flash Global Settings Manager only removes the website’s storage content; it does not remove the folder created for the website. An empty folder will remain on your computer.

By selecting a website and using the “Delete website” button, you can delete that website from the list of visited websites. This also removes all data that the website has stored from this storage area.

Peer-Assisted Networking Settings

The last tab is the Peer-Assisted Networking Settings panel. This is where you allow or disallow users who are playing the same content to share your bandwidth. If you are not on a broadband internet connection, you never want to use this option. When in use, this option increases network traffic on your internet connection and to your computer.

It is recommended that you disable this option. This will not prevent Flash from working.

Other Notes and Considerations

The current versions of Internet Explorer 8 and Firefox version 3.6 share the same Flash settings. Changing or updating Flash through this console makes the changes for both. To verify this, validate the Flash Management console from within each web browser you use.

After installing any Flash updates you should validate that your privacy and security settings have not changed. With previous Flash updates, the settings within the Flash manager have reverted back to default, i.e. wide-open, settings.

On a Windows 7 computer, you can manually manage Flash cookies by navigating to: C:Usersuser_nameApplication DataMacromediaFlash Player in a subfolder located at #SharedObjectsnonsensical-filename and macromedia.comsupportflashplayersys. Deleting the website using the Flash Global Settings Manager only removes the website’s storage content; it does not remove the folder created for the website. An empty folder will remain on your computer in the C:Usersuser_nameApplication DataMacromediaFlash Playermacromedia.comsupportflashplayersys folder. The Application Data folder is a hidden systems folder. You will have to have hidden directories visible using the “Show hidden files, folders, and drives” option under the Fold Folder View option. You may also need systems permission to actually view and navigate these directories on a Windows 7 computer.

Instead of doing this manually, you can also use a free utility like Flash Cookie Cleaner 1.0, produced by ConsumerSoft (www. ConsumerSoft.com). This product will clean up and eliminate unwanted and unneeded Flash cookies in both the #SharedObjects and macromedia.com subfolders. This is a much simpler and more efficient way to clean up Flash cookies. You can download this free program from: http://www.flashcookiecleaner.com/ . This utility is free of spyware, adware, viruses, and other malicious programs. Download and save this file to your desktop and run it from there. This is a stand-along program that does not install itself on your computer.

References

Adobe – Flash Player: Help. (n.d.). Adobe. http://www.macromedia.com/support/documentation/en/flashplayer/help/settings_manager02.html

ConsumerSoft – Freeware Products. (n.d.). ConsumerSoft.

Leonhard, W. (2010, August 5.). Eliminate Flash-spawned “zombie” cookies. Windows Secrets.

Vega, T. (2010, September 20.) Code that tracks users’ browsing prompts lawsuits. The New York Times.

To request a pdf of the article with screen shot please visit the Friend Consulting web site and send an email from there with the Title: Adobe Insecurity.

A List of Foods That Burn Fat Fast: Go Catabolic

It’s a basic principle of weight loss.

Every item of food you put in your mouth contains calories. If you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight.

Some foods, like a piece of chocolate cake slathered with chocolate icing, are high in calories, and take a while to burn off. Other foods, like lettuce, are low in calories, and can be burned off faster.

Your body is always burning calories, even if you’re sitting still and doing nothing. But being physically active helps you burn calories faster.

So, what are the foods that burn fat fast?

Catabolic foods burn more calories than they contain. For example, an apple contains around 80 or 90 calories. But the energy your body uses to metabolize the apple burns about 180 calories. So, when you eat an apple, your body burns off up to 100 calories more than you consumed.

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

Here is a list of high catabolic foods.

Apples

Asparagus

Blackberries

Blueberries

Broccoli

Cantaloupe

Carrots

Celery

Cucumbers

Eggplant

Grapefruit

Lemons

Lettuce

Limes

Oranges

Pears

Peppers

Pineapple

Plums

Radishes

Raspberries

Sweet Potatoes

Strawberries

Tomatoes

Watermelon

Zucchini

Now, this doesn’t mean you can eat a slice of chocolate cake, and then eat five apples to make up for it. What it does mean is, if you are on a diet, eating certain foods will help you burn calories and lose weight faster. These are also foods you can snack on throughout the day, satisfying your hunger without worrying about ruining your diet.

Word Search Puzzle Generator

You are probably already familiar with word search puzzles. They are puzzles that consist of a grid of letters arranged in rows and columns. If you just glance at them, they appear as if the letters are completely randomly chosen. However, a closer look will reveal that there are words hidden within the grid. The goal of the puzzle is to find all the hidden words – they can start at any point in the grid, and can be orientated in any direction whatsoever, not just horizontally and vertically, but including diagonally, and backwards directions such as right-to-left.

Word search puzzles can be enjoyed by people of all ages. They can be themed around any subject whatsoever – simply by choosing the type of words to conceal in the grid. And, the level of difficulty can easily be varied, by giving or not giving the solver a list of words to look for, by varying the size of the grid, and in puzzles intended for younger children, by avoiding hard-to-spot word directions such as backwards or diagonal directions.  This flexibility makes them very well suited for magazine and newsletter publishers, and also means that they can easily be used as an educational tool (children can be introduced to new words, and also help learn the spelling of words they already know).

Creating your own word search puzzle of course involves fitting words together into a grid. If you try it using a pen and paper, you will soon discover this is no easy task and requires a lot of trial and error. However, this is the kind of thing that computers excel at. If you use a PC and some word search generator software, you can make a new original puzzle in just a few minutes.

How to Pack a Bridesmaid Dress For a Flight

So much goes into planning a wedding that often times the smallest issues can be overlooked. One such example is that of bridesmaids who must travel to reach the wedding. What is the best way to pack a formal bridesmaid dress when traveling by plane? And how do you avoid losing your dress in transit? Below are some suggestions for showing up in your bridesmaid dress as if you just stepped out of the showroom.

o Roll your dress and pack it like a sleeping bag in your suitcase. Once you arrive at your destination, unroll your dress and hang it up.

o Use dry cleaning garment bags, a regular garment bag, or the dress bag that the dress maker sent the dress home in to transport your bridesmaid dress with ease. These kinds of bags are designed to keep wrinkles in clothing to a minimum.

o If extra reinforcement is needed, wrap the bridesmaid dress in a large cotton sheet before placing it in the garment bag.

o When traveling during inclement weather, add a large industrial garbage bag on the bottom to prevent the dress from accidentally dragging on a wet or dirty floor. Do not pin the bag to the dress; instead, pin or tape it to the garment, dry cleaning, or dress bag already covering the bridesmaid dress.

o Call the airline ahead of time and ask if there is any way they can offer a cabin closet for you to hang your dress. They are usually happy to hang a wedding or bridesmaid dress in the first class closet if there is room.

o Consider taking your dress as your carry-on item. Again, check with your airline ahead of time to make sure that the bag with your dress in it will fit in the overhead compartment.

o Rolling your dress up in a carry-on bag is another way to make sure it doesn’t get lost en route and remains wrinkle-free. Not only do you get to keep your it with you for the flight, you can make sure that it’s not getting unnecessarily dirty, tossed about, or trampled upon.

Once you arrive at your destination, unpack your dress immediately. Minor wrinkles should come out by hanging it in the bathroom while you shower. The steam in the bathroom will help the material loosen and creases should disappear. If, however, you still further help, most hotels, cruises, and laundry services offer pressing for a reasonable price, usually under $20.