Creating insightful Images

The learned people at MIT found that a human brain processes a typical image in 13 milli seconds. On the other hand the brain takes about a few minutes to digest the content of a sentence depending upon the rate of reading for the person. Nature by the process of evolution has baked into our brain – the ability to digest a piece of information from our sight at a rapid pace for our survival. At the time when the Christians were fed to the Lions, your life expectancy will be a few minutes if you don’t take evasive action when you spot a hungry lion in the distance.

Come to think about it, in the scale of our existence in this planet, the language skill – especially the ability to read came pretty late. So it is not a big surprise that our reading skill is no match against our skill to grasp what our eyes sees which we share with all living creatures.

Creating insightful Images

The amygdala, a part of the brain helps to process sensory input which finally builds up evoking emotions like fear and pain amongst others. Studies have confirmed the role played by the amygdaloid complex in the processing of perceived objects with appropriate emotional response.

Nature has taught us to quickly process the image we see through our eyes within a short span of time and we capture images just like a camera in a series of pictures. When our brain sees an image, it triggers a flurry of activities inside the brain – association and connection mapped to our past experience both actual and primordial.

Visual cues combined with the main images help the brain to evaluate appropriate response and the emotion. This is how the brain recognizes a friendly face from a sea of other faces. The processing of visual information is highly evolved in almost all creatures. The tiny brain of the Honey bee weighing the same as a sesame seed is capable of processing visual information a lot faster than your desk top computer and it can recognize thousands of patterns so important for the bee to identify and operate in a 4 mile radius.

Images are complicated as are most things in life. Often the most important thing in the image – our sight – is cluttered with peripheral details or drowned in useless detritus. Brains are configured to figure out what matters and what doesn’t in a short span of time – a trait passed on to us from our ancestors.

Some images evoke positive responses while some result in a negative emotion. Sound also evokes similar results in our brains – but that is a topic we reserve for another day. Deep bass rhythmic drum beat like sound has shown to induce a sense of calm and lower stress levels in our body as it mimics the sound produced by the mother’s heartbeat. A mother’s womb is the safest place for a fetus and her heartbeat is the only sound that reassures the fetus of its safety.

Now that we have established the importance of the role of images in our perception, we will identify the elements in an image that will translate to evoking positive responses.

Various media spend billions of dollars to create Insightful images which sell an idea or a concept.

Most visual media professionals agree on one thing – the best image is the one that evokes a positive emotion.  The image must convey a thought, an idea or a story.  To quote Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus when chances upon Helen of Troy –

“Was this the face that launch’d a thousand ships,

And burnt the topless towers of Ilium

Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss.”

We will quote our own story of creating insightful images.

When we started TargetWoman – this idea of an insightful image was drilled into the minds of the team managing visual creative. Before an article was put through the process of editing, the gist of the page was assigned to the team. The whole exercise was to brainstorm amongst the members of the team to come up with a concept and translate that concept/idea to an appropriate image.

Looking back we can summarize what image worked in terms of popularity and what images sank without a trace out of several thousand images we published.

1. Be Positive:  People react strongly to positive images. If the page is about an ailment –  don’t show the ravaged affected part. Instead show a picture of cure. Your image should offer hope instead of despair. Most of our topic in TargetWoman is about health. So we follow this rule religiously. Here is an example of the topic:

Stop Hair breakage

2. Be creative with your picture – angle, texture, lighting, shadows and props. Your picture is competing for attention amongst a thousand images and it has just about a few hundred milli seconds to create an impression. It just has to be arresting.

Our Example here is

Eskrima Workout

3. Connect with the audience: Research who your target audience are and connect with them. Our target audience are educated women. That is the reason why most of our pages are over 900 words long. The pictures in our pages aim to establish a common theme. Our Example:

Hanging Yoga

2 Reasons why you should use Edge Browser

Naming convention: Microsoft, some times comes up with pithy names pregnant with rich connotation for its products. Take for example, its Word Processor software – ‘Word‘ its biblical connotation is apparent and so it creates an image in your mind – that it is the ultimate. Another example is their Spreadsheet software – Excel – symbolically meaning that it excels in everything. Now their ubiquitous Browser software – Edge, it offers an edge over others. The top 2 reasons why you should use the Edge Browser are lower resource usage and enhanced privacy and safety.

Top 2 reasons why you should use Edge Browser

From the time, they annihilated the first browser – Netscape, their version was Internet Explorer (IE) which despite its shortcomings resolutely stayed on the scene for decades. Many web developers had a love/hate relationship with Internet Explorers in the past. It was quite tolerant of poor coding in HTML and rendered the page without any issue whilst other browsers refused to render the page. Internet explorer took time to adopt industry standards while the rest of the world quietly marched on. The only thing going for it is it was baked into the Windows OS and you needed it to download other popular browsers. If you decide to use its later Internet Explorer 11 version, it consumed the lowest system resources – RAM or CPU – probably because it shared common dynamic link libraries. It was fast as well. It is getting better at safety too.

The Edge:
It is safe to use the new Edge Browser from Microsoft. It uses the lowest system resources when I tested it against Google Chrome and Firefox. The Internet Explorer 11 has the lowest memory footprint as the screenshot here shows. All the browsers except Firefox run a single tab with the same site.

Comparison of System resources for browsers

The original Google Chrome invokes a separate updater as a service. Other browsers in this line up do not invoke any such service when I tested them. If you are paranoiac about some of the software running in your computer surreptitiously calling home ostensibly to check for new updates, you will need to take a call in avoiding such software. Windows anyway checks its servers for any update at regular intervals regardless of the fact that you use Edge or no Edge. I routinely conduct net auditing to keep an eye on any software that wants to call its home from my computers. I block them in the firewall if it is deemed unnecessary.

Set up Privacy in the Edge Browser

User privacy is taken seriously in this new Edge. Check out this page: Microsoft Edge

To set your level of privacy, just type the following into the address bar:

It has 2 panes : Left pane shows where you are while the right pane shows you 3 options:
1.Basic : It is open season where the site will work as usual with only the known harmful trackers are blocked. The ads will continue to function as usual.

  1. Balanced : This mode blocks harmful trackers in addition to trackers in sites you haven’t visited. The ads will work mostly as usual with less personalization. Works for must of us.
  2. Strict: Blocks all trackers. Ads won’t work most of the time. But some functions of the site will not work either.

Control who can track you here

Whilst at it, you can set other privacy options in the same screen. Scroll down and select ‘Microsoft Defender SmartScreen’ under the Services heading (Recommended). Other choices are optional. Personally I have not enabled others.

The old Edge (now called as legacy edge browser) is based on MicroSoft’s own HTML engine whereas the new Edge is based on Chromium from Google’s open source browser engine.

The new Edge is specifically tuned for speed and better privacy than the Google Chrome browser.The Edge offers World class productivity, privacy and additional values. If you use Chrome extensions, you can use them with some exceptions in this Edge. In Short Microsoft new Edge offers an edge over other browsers.
Chrome is a resource hog when compared with Internet Explorer or the subsequent versions.

Microsoft Defender SmartScreen: Guards you against phishing sites and malware sites. The cloud based anti-phishing and anti-malware component is baked into Windows,outlook and Edge software which goes on further to prevent you from downloading obnoxious material from such blacklisted sites.

Control from control Panel of the Windows

It has always been a struggle to fight against the software vulnerabilities. Every time some one wrote a malicious code – a virus, it required some time before the antivirus researchers analyzed the malware and came up with a antivirus solution and eventual distribution of the anti malware. This time was enough for serious computer pandemic and successful monetary gain for the malware producers. Microsoft Research came up with a Reputation score where it created a blacklist populated with reported malware sites and software.

This helped to narrow the time taken to address a malware from several weeks to days. Microsoft could do this effectively as the same company builds the OS – Windows as well as the other software connecting to the Internet – Browsers and Email clients. It is another reason why you don’t hear of serious virus/malware issues associated with Windows as we used to hear about in the past.

Work from Home Computer Tips

Many of us have been forced to work from Home due to the Corona Virus – CoVid-19 Infection.  But WFH – Work From Home is nothing new to us in TargetWoman. Personally I have set up a team to work from home almost from the beginning of TargetWoman. 

Work from Home Tips

The following is an excerpt from our intranet explaining – How to Optimize your Work from Home time:

  1. Set aside a room or create a partition in your home for the work. In other words create a ‘professional’ atmosphere and reasonable privacy for your work.
  2. Rig your computer, router, modem and other peripherals in the table or nearby. Use cable ties to declutter cables. Trust me – you will be in deep trouble if someone trips over the cable. Leave alone the physical damage or the trauma, your computer set up will suffer partial or permanent damage.
  3. Your Laptop positioning, viewing distance, viewing angle and the chair – all have a major bearing on your comfort level and productivity. Wrong positioning of the laptop will make you end up with carpel tunnel syndrome, eye strain, neck pain and back ache. Support your back by providing lumbar support. You will be working for a long time in that position – almost 9 hours a day. Set up the laptop at your eye level or about 30 degree lower. If your laptop keyboard is not convenient for long hours, get a standard wireless keyboard and a wireless mouse.
  4. Inform your family members, partners or other live-in members about your working schedule. They need to respect your work timings and not bug while you are working. Train your pets not to disturb you while you are at work.
  5. Net connectivity is vital for WFH. Get a redundant ISP just in case your main provider has a break in service. Stock up on batteries for mouse, TV remotes and other battery operated devices before you start.
  6. Arrange a supply of coffee and other eatables at regular intervals.
  7. Take a break every couple of hours.

Just because there is no one to supervise you about the actual productive time you put in everyday ( a fallacy as I explain below), you don’t waste your time on unproductive tasks.

People think there is no way their superiors can monitor the actual time spent before the computer (if your job revolves working with computers). We have tools set up in your Laptop. We would have set up the VPN in your computer along with some scripts which will run in the background – to monitor the actual time spent on each application. We know which sites you are visiting.

WFH is a privilege for both you and your company. Remember you are not working for X company or Y company – but you are working for yourself.

Now that we have covered the basics of the best accepted practices for WFH, we will explore ways to optimize your computer so that you can extract the best performance from your computer as well as be more productive than ever before.

We explore the best accepted practices for fine tuning our computers in this page.

There are tons of useful tips for computers. It would take a book to explore all the tips.  For a blog, I will outline only the most important tips to enhance your productivity and ease of working.

Check the health of your Laptop Battery:

A dead laptop battery might prevent your laptop from booting in some cases. Your laptop has a Lithium Ion (Li-ion) Battery if you have purchased your laptop recently. Older laptops will have Nickel Hydride (NiMH) or Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) batteries which are heavier and have ‘memory effect’ . Li-ion batteries are lighter in weight and offer better service life than NiCd/NiMH types. But to extract the maximum life, you need to keep them between 50 – 90 % charge conditions.

All right. How do you check the battery condition?

You don’t need to download any special software for this. Your Windows 10 is quite capable of showing some very useful information about your battery.  Here is how:

Type ‘cmd’ in the search box and when the pop up shows Command Prompt ,right click on it and select  ‘Run as Administrator ‘ . Click Yes to proceed. And type cd  \ in the command line interface. You r current path would be your C: drive now.

Type ‘powercfg /batteryreport’

It will print out a html file containing information about your laptop battery.

Battery Report Windows 10

You can view the Battery report by selecting the file and right click to view with your favorite browser. You will find some interesting information including the battery capacity history and usage history.

Laptop Battery Status

All the tips shown below assume that you have sufficient computer resources – plenty of RAM memory. Windows claims 2 GB RAM is the minimum memory required for Windows 10. The recommended memory is 4 GB for 64 bit version. But 4 GB will make your life go slow. The first thing you do to improve the performance of your computer is to increase the RAM. 8 GB is the minimum at the time of writing. I have been using computers since the time they had 48 KB RAM.

Adding an application to the right click menu :

All right. You have been hammering away at the keyboard for long. You have created many text files. You want to check them periodically. You have a nice text editor that has a low memory foot print as well as use minimal system resources – like Notapad++ or Editplus. Opening heavy weight Word Processor for checking many text files is not very efficient or productive. So how do you quickly open a text editor. When you install such editors, usually, they will set up the  right click menu where you can invoke them. But many fail to do so. I will give you a quick fire technique below that will add additional application to the right click menu:

In the search box next to the Start button, type ‘regedit’ which will open the Registry Editor. If you are not sure about tinkering with your Registry which can stop the normal functioning of your computer if you make a mess, stop here.

Select Computer -> HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT ->  * -> shell

Right click and select New. Name this key as ‘Open With Editplus’ Or whatever your application name is. Select the key and right click. Call this sub key as ‘Command’. Select the key and on the right pane – click modify. Now copy the complete path and the application name and paste it there. In the chosen example, the editplus lives in the directory : C:\admin\editplus\Editplus3\

The application name is editplus.exe and so you fill the path and the application name along with “%1” which will invoke a new instance of the application every time you use.

Add application to right click menu

Create a Virtual Desktop for better organizing your work:

If you are like many of us who have multiple Browser windows open and many applications open at the same time, the next tip – creating virtual desktops will help you to better organize your work. Trust me – once you start using these tips, you will wonder how you have been working without these for all these years.

A desktop is where you see all the open apps. You can navigate to each one of them by the shortcut – ALT and TAB keys. You can cycle through them. Windows will show what each app has in small windows. But if the app has tabs, it will show only the current active tab. Not very useful if your browser has too many open tabs. Personally I use new Window instead of tabs – precisely for this reason.

If you have extra virtual desktop, you can group one set of application in one desktop while having the second desktop for other entirely different set of applications. You can switch between them and copy and paste content between them.

Here is how you create a new desktop:

Take a look at the screen shot here. See the Blue Arrow where it points ? It points to the Timeline View or Task View. Virtual desktop Windows 10 It shows the application you have been working on for the past few days in a linear fashion – hence the time line view. You can swap out the task from there and so it can also be called as Task view.

Click on that Taskview or hit Windows key and TAB key simultaneously. Click New Desktop. You will be presented with a new Desktop. Creating virtual Desktops won’t consume excessive resources. In our case it took up just about 60 MB (Desktop Windows Manager). Now you can start a new instance of your browser to any app.  I noticed that Firefox browser when run in this condition,  does not affect other instances of it.

You can switch between Desktops by the TaskView method or by this keyboard shortcut : Windows key and TAB key and select the appropriate desktop with the mouse. Or CTL + Windows + Right key or Left key to select the desktop you want.

Some of the options we used here can be changed here: Settings -> Sytem

I hope you use any one or all of these tips at this time of the devastating Corona pandemic.

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