What does a DM need to know?

I recently offered a young player of D&D who was interested in becoming a Dungeon Master to give him some pointers on how to be a good DM. But while I have been a DM for nearly 4 decades now, it isn’t actually all that easy to describe what makes a good DM. In some ways it is more an art than a science. And where it is a science, it is a badly documented one.

The basic role of a DM is easily described: He sets the scene, asks the players what they do, and then reacts to their answer by telling them the consequences of their actions, thus setting the next scene. Rinse, lather, repeat. What makes the description of a good DM so complicated is that different people are good DMs in very different ways. You ask a player what he specifically liked with a DM, and realize that whatever that was, it was probably something optional. For example when I ask for feedback from various players in different groups of mine, I frequently get told that they appreciate my preparation of visual playing aids: Battlemaps, 3D printed miniatures, handouts. But you can play with another good DM who doesn’t use any of those! Another DM might be appreciated for his creation of fantastic worlds, but you can play great games without those as well. Some DMs are great play-actors doing accents and voices for NPCs, but you don’t need that either. So what is the stuff that is actually essential?

Dungeons & Dragons, and any other pen & paper role-playing game, inherently always exists on two different levels: Horgar the barbarian swings his battleaxe and with a satisfying crunch decapitates the evil wizard. John the player of Horgar declares that he wants to attack the evil wizard and rolls a 20 on his attack. Horgar and John need each other. Without John, Horgar doesn’t exist. Without Horgar, John isn’t playing D&D. I believe that an awareness of those two levels, and a constant effort to keep the two levels in balance with each other, might well be the most important part of a DM’s job. Concentrate too much on the story, and the players get bored because they don’t get to roll dice any more. Concentrate too much on the dice, and you end up playing a board game.

Corollary to that is the need for balance between DM actions and player actions. D&D is a game of interactive story-telling. Take the interaction away, and it becomes a lot less interesting. No DM’s hour-long monologue beats Netflix in entertainment value. But letting the players role-play alone without feedback on the consequences from the DM only leads to people becoming lost and confused. Players need “agency”, the ability to influence the story and the outcome of situations. But that agency only makes sense in the context of there being a story and a situation to overcome. The DM needs to make sure that he tells the players enough for them to understand what is going on, so they can act, but also to leave enough room for different choices and original ideas from the players.

That gets us to another important point: The “never say no” rule. It isn’t an absolute rule, because it applies only to constructive input from the players. But the idea is that as long as the player proposes something constructive, the DM should accept the proposal and try to work with it. You can still judge that the idea is very unlikely to work, and require the player to succeed in a very difficult roll. But that is still far better than letting the players propose lots of things and always saying no until by chance they come upon the one solution you previously decided was the good one. Saying yes can change the whole campaign to something you hadn’t imagined, but that is the beauty of it. The goal is not to have the story proceed on predetermined rails, but to have everyone at the table contribute to the story and together create something greater than one man’s story. In my Zeitgeist campaign the players were a group of policemen working for the king; but it was up to the players whether they wanted to play those policemen as the Keystone Cops or the Gestapo or something in between.

While these rules certainly don’t cover everything a DM needs to do or needs to be, I do think that they are among the most important for success. What other advice would you give a new DM to help him become a good DM?

Surviving Holiday Heart Attack Season: A Cardiologist’s Advice

More people die from heart disease between December 25 and January 7 than at any other time of the year.

It’s almost that time of year: holiday heart attack season. More people die from heart disease between December 25 and January 7 than at any other time of the year. What’s the answer? Healthier food. As a cardiologist, I’m calling on hospitals to lead by example. Historically, some hospitals have been known for serving their heart attack patients breakfasts of bacon and eggs, conveying a message to patients and families that food does not matter.

That is all about to change. Earlier this year, the American College of Cardiology released Heart-Healthy Food Recommendations for Hospitals, which says that “hospitalization can be a ‘teachable moment’ for patients who are ready to embrace nutrition as part of the healing process.” The ACC recommends having plant-based main dishes available at every meal. It also says that processed meats—bacon, sausage, ham, hot dogs, and deli meats—should be off the menu entirely. The American Medical Association followed suit, calling for similar improvements in hospital food offerings: out with the bacon and sausage, in with the vegan choices.

The plan could save hundreds of thousands of lives a year. A study published this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association linked not eating enough fruits, vegetables and grains to more than 150,000 cardiovascular deaths a year and too much processed meat to 60,000 deaths.

Are you serious? you might be asking. Will hospitals really serve vegan (plant-based) meals, and will patients really eat them (and like them)? The answer is absolutely yes. A generation ago, hospitals banned cigarettes, and the grumbling from smokers ended almost immediately. It was a clear-cut message about what is healthy and what is not. It’s time to do the same with unhealthy foods.   

The ACC and AMA recommendations also have benefits beyond heart health. A recent report from the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research found that eating three servings of whole grains per day reduces colorectal cancer risk by 17 percent, while eating just 50 grams of processed meat per day—about the size of a hot dog or a couple of slices of bacon—increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent. 

Other organizations, like the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, are working in hospitals to make healthful hospital food a reality. This year, the Physicians Committee successfully encouraged the University of Mississippi Medical Center and Arkansas Children’s Hospital to remove hot dogs from patient menus, and convinced others to kick out fast food restaurants. The doctors’ group also produced a Heart-Healthy Foods for Hospitals booklet, which includes delicious plant-based recipes: Apple Sweet Potato Breakfast Bake, Cheezy Potato and Veggie Breakfast Casserole, and Mexican Lasagna. It also makes hospital managers’ lives easier by providing list of contractors that provide heart-healthy foods, tips from professionals for how to successfully implement the plan, handouts for patients and cafeteria signage.

In other words, the change could not be easier. Let’s resolve to eat healthfully, and let’s start with our hospitals. While some hospitals are starting to do this, let’s see if we can get them all to take this on in a whole-hearted approach. Instead of being the riskiest time of year, let’s work together to make the holiday season the healthiest.

 

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Death of a Legislator: Dan Johnson’s Suicide and the GOP’s Far-Right Drift

Before facing abuse allegations and taking his own life, Kentucky Rep. Dan Johnson was becoming a far-right leader.

While the national press is focused on how the #MeToo movement is affecting Congress, state and city governments have also experienced a surge of women accusing politicians of sexual harassment and abuse. Kentucky has been especially shaken by this, with at least four Republican state legislators and a Democratic city councilman being publicly accused of sexual harassment in the past couple of months.

But the story took a particularly gruesome twist after a fifth statehouse Republican, Kentucky state Rep. Dan Johnson, took his own life last Wednesday. That came shortly after the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting published a blockbuster exposé of Johnson’s disturbing history, including allegations that he molested a 17-year-old member of his Heart of Fire congregation, where he was a minister.

This entire sordid affair is already being twisted by conservative pundits to discredit the #MeToo movement. Kathleen Parker asks whether Johnson had “a right to some sort of dispassionate hearing,” ignoring the fact that the alleged victim went to the police, to no avail. A deeper look into Johnson’s career, however, suggests a different moral: It illustrates the growing problem of radical fundamentalists quietly infiltrating local state governments.

Roy Moore may have lost his chance to be the U.S. senator from Alabama — if by an agonizingly narrow margin. But dozens of mini-Moores are flourishing in state legislatures, where they are pushing the Republican Party ever further to the right and quietly working to dismantle women’s access to reproductive health care.

While the molestation allegations against Johnson have been the focus, R.G. Dunlop and Jacob Ryan of the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting also uncovered a dizzying amount of disturbing information about Johnson that should have been disqualifying long before those accusations came to light. The man was a con artist who told lies about his own biography so outrageous they hardly needed fact-checking. He had repeatedly been in trouble with the law for running an illegal bar out of his church, and over several apparent arson incidents. During the 2016 election, he posted racist memes portraying Barack and Michelle Obama as monkeys and won his election over Democrat Linda Belcher anyway.

“I think that led him to believe there were lots of things he could do, yet his folks would still support him,” Marcie Crim, executive director of the Kentucky Health Justice Network, told Salon. 

When his Republicans colleagues came under fire in November for sexual harassment allegations, Johnson took to Facebook to offer a defense, writing, “I’m totally against anything that has to do with abuse, however there are no perfect people.”

Crim was not surprised by this, saying that both sexual abuse and anti-choice beliefs stem from an unwillingness to “believe that women’s bodies belong to the women.” Essentially, she said, right-wing men want to touch women “whenever they want, and they also want to tell them what kind of health care they can and can’t get access to.”

Johnson wasn’t just anti-abortion, which is par for the course in Republican politics. He was a radical anti-choice fanatic. He appears to have been closely working with Operation Save America, an extremist Christian organization that pushes what it calls the “doctrine of the lesser magistrates,” which holds that Christians shouldn’t obey laws that they believe conflict with God’s laws. It’s the same theory used to bolster the case of Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Now it is being used to argue that federal laws protecting abortion rights need not be respected.

In October, Johnson pre-filed a piece of planned legislation called the Abolition of Abortion Act, which would have criminalized abortion in Kentucky both for doctors and patients. The proposed bill explicitly instructed the state to enforce this ban “regardless of any contrary or conflicting state or federal laws, administrative regulations, executive orders, or judicial decisions.” It appears Johnson was trying to put this “lesser magistrate” notion into law.

In an emotional video released before Johnson committed suicide — but after the allegations of sexual misconduct had emerged — Rusty Thomas, the head of Operation Save America, blamed the “sexual revolution” for sexual harassment, saying, “God is lifting the skirt of our national whoredoms.”

Thomas went on to defend both Johnson and Roy Moore, saying that the “establishment will spend millions of dollars to dig up dirt” and that it has “successfully weaponized sex as a political weapon” to publicly shame those “seeking to stand for righteousness and for godliness in our nation.”

Thomas, it’s worth noting, spends his days organizing protests outside abortion clinics that are meant to publicly shame women seeking abortion. Johnson himself showed up at one of these protests and was photographed by clinic escorts.

In the video, Thomas calls Johnson “the congressman we have been working with to introduce a bill of abolitions.” This comports with what Rewire reporter Jenn Stanley discovered while working on her audio documentary “Marching Toward Gilead.” She called Johnson to ask him about his anti-abortion bill, and he had Joseph Spurgeon, a pastor who works with Operation Save America, call her back within seconds. 

“I didn’t tell Dan Johnson that this was a story about Operation Save America,” Stanley told Salon. “So Joseph Spurgeon must be a guy he sends out to talk to reporters.” Spurgeon and Thomas have also said they tried to call and text Johnson to prevent him from committing suicide, to no avail. 

(Full disclosure: My partner was an executive producer on Stanley’s documentary.)

Operation Save America was the group that spent decades harassing Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider in Wichita, Kansas, until a regular clinic protester murdered him in 2009. When another clinic opened in the place of Tiller’s, Thomas declared, “OSA has some unfinished kingdom business in Wichita, Kansas. Tiller’s mill was reopened.”

But the main focus of Operation Save America has been the last remaining abortion clinic in Kentucky, which has been subject to the illegal clinic blockades that the groupused in the ’90s but abandoned for many years — until now. The group has been open about its desire to make Kentucky the home of the radical anti-abortion movement, especially now that it believes Donald Trump’s presidency has eased the path for more militant tactics.

The relationship between Johnson and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin also shines some light onto the political dynamics that are allowing Republicans to chip away at abortion access in red states. As Crim argued, people like Johnson “would have been fringe characters two years ago, five years ago, but now they’re getting elected to office.” 

Once in, legislators like Johnson embrace extreme and blatantly illegal positions, such as an effort to reclassify abortion as murder. This makes politicians like Bevin, whose strategy is to use ginned-up regulations to bury abortion clinics under red tape, look moderate by comparison. But in reality, as Crim put it, “The fringe has become the mainstream.”

There’s only one abortion clinic left in Kentucky, because Planned Parenthood was unable to get hospital transfer agreements required by a recently-passed (and medically unnecessary) law blatantly intended to shut down as many clinics as possible. Planned Parenthood says it has evidence showing that Bevin used defunding threats to prevent hospitals from helping Planned Parenthood follow the law.

There is also reason to believe that Bevin’s true sympathies lie with extremists like Dan Johnson and Operation Save America. In February, Bevin held a meeting with the leaders of Operation Save America, who say they gave him the book “Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates” by Matt Trewhella, a pastor who has argued that murdering abortion doctors is justified. The group’s leaders further claimed Bevin had praised the book, even as he demurred on the question of signing legislation to classify abortion as murder.

(Bevin’s office and Operation Save America both failed to return Salon’s requests for comment.)

Stanley and Crim both told Salon that this entire situation highlights how easy it is for radicalized right-wingers to get power in state legislatures and start pushing a state’s politics to the right.

“Most people just have no idea who their state representatives are. People don’t go up to vote for that,” Stanley said. That makes the state legislature fertile ground for extremists to build a power base. “When you think about the things that really affect people’s personal lives,” she continued, “it’s the laws that are passed by these state legislators.”

Johnson’s death has certainly rattled the far-right fundamentalists who supported him, but it doesn’t seem to be slowing down their efforts to push their absolutist agenda through the Kentucky legislature. Even before Johnson’s death, his supporters were writing off the sexual abuse allegations as a politicized lie created by the “establishment” and largely ignoring the multitude of alarming claims about Johnson’s long history of fabrications. The day after Johnson’s death, his widow, Rebecca Johnson, announced plans to run for his legislative seat. “These high-tech lynchings based on lies and half-truths can’t be allowed to win the day,” she declared.

“People like to say it’s the last, dying gasp of previous generations,” Crim said of the rise of the far right in state legislatures. “And maybe it is the last gasp — but it’s a big gasp. It’s a very powerful breath they’re taking.”

 

 

 

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Understanding Synchronous and Asynchronous JavaScript – paRt_2: JavaScript – its DiFFereNt


In the first part of this post, we saw how the concepts of synchronous and asynchronous are perceived in JavaScript. In this second part, Mr K appears again to help us understand how the setTimeout() and AJAX APIs work.


Let’s go back in past to the story of Mr. K and the date you wanted to go on! but what if you leave a task for Mr. K before outing and tell him that he can only begin to work on this task five hours after he got your message. 
He isn’t happy about it! But why does Mr H leave a message in the queue instead of directly contacting Mr K? Because as I mentioned in the first part, the only way to contact Mr K is by leaving a message to him via phone call — no exceptions., remember, he doesn’t take a new message until he is done with the current one, and if he takes yours, he has to wait for five hours to even start on the task. So, to not be wasteful of time, he brings in a helper, Mr H.
Instead of waiting, he asks Mr H to leave a new message for the task in the queue after the given hours had passed, and moves on to the next message.
Five hours past; Mr H updates the queue with a new message. After he’s done processing all the accrued messages prior to Mr H’s, Mr K carries out your requested task. So, this way, you can leave a request to be complied upon at a later time, and not wait until it’s fulfilled.

1:-> The setTimeout() method

Suppose you have a set of code that you want to execute after a certain time. In order to do that, you just wrap it in a function, and add it to a setTimeout() method along with the delay time. The syntax of setTimeout() is as follows:
  • setTimeout(function, delay-time, arg…)
The arg… parameter stands for any argument the function takes, and delay-time is to be added in milliseconds. Below you can see a simple code example, that outputs “hey” in the console after 3 seconds.
  • setTimeout( function() { console.log(‘hey’) }, 3000 );
Once setTimeout() starts running, instead of blocking the call stack until the indicated delay time is over, a timer is triggered, and the call stack is gradually emptied for the next message (similarly to the correspondence between Mr K and Mr H).
When the timer expires, a new message joins the queue, and the event loop picks it up when the call stack is free after processing all the messages before it — thus the code runs asynchronously.

JavaScript call stack with timer
JavaScript call stack with timer

2:-> AJAX

AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is a concept that uses the XMLHttpRequest (XHR) API to make server requests and handle the responses.
When browsers make server requests without using XMLHttpRequest, the page refreshes and reloads its UI. When the processing of requests and responses are handled by the XHR API, and UI remains unaffected.

XMLHttpRequest we API
XMLHttpRequest we API

XMLHttpRequest Web API

Now, where is the “asynchronous” in this! Just using XHR code doesn’t mean it’s AJAX, because the XHR API can work in both synchronous and asynchronous ways.
XHR by default is set to work asynchronously; when a function makes a request using XHR, it returns without waiting for the response.
If XHR is configured to be synchronous, then the function waits until the response is received and processed before returning.

Code Example 1

This example presents an XMLHttpRequest object creation. The open() method, validates the request URL, and the send() method sends the request.

Asynchronous XHR

var xhr = new XMLHttpRequest();
xhr.open(“GET”, url);
xhr.send();
Any direct access to the response data after send() will be in vain, because send() doesn’t wait until the request is completed. Remember, XMLHTTPRequest is set to work asynchronously by default.

Code Example 2

The hello.txt file in this example is a simple text file containing the text ‘hello’. The response property of XHR is invalid, since it didn’t output the text ‘hello’.

Asynchronous XHR

var xhr = new XMLHttpRequest();
xhr.open(“GET”, “hello.txt”);
xhr.send();
document.write(xhr.response); // empty string
XHR implements a micro-routine that keeps checking for response in every millisecond, and triggers complimentary events for the different states a request goes through. When the response is loaded, a load event is triggered by XHR, which can deliver a valid response.

Asynchronous XHR

var xhr = new XMLHttpRequest();
xhr.open(“GET”, “hello.txt”);
xhr.send();
xhr.onload = function(){ document.write(this.response) } // writes ‘hello’ to the document
The response inside the load event outputs ‘hello’, the correct text.
Going the asynchronous way is preferred, as it doesn’t block other scripts until the request is completed.
If the response has to be processed synchronously, we pass false as the last argument of open, which flags the XHR API saying it has to be synchronous.

Synchronous XHR

var xhr = new XMLHttpRequest();
xhr.open(“GET”, “hello.txt”, false);
xhr.send();
document.write(xhr.response); // writes ‘hello’ to document

Conculsion

If you know how the puzzle fits, you can avoid confusion of stTimeout() and AJAX requests. You know that the delay time in setTimeout() does not indicate the time when the code execution starts, but the time when the timer expires and a new message is queued, which will only be processed when the call stack is free to do so.

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Remote access and control your PC using Android App : Android – LeaVe my baThRoom at-least !


Do you want to remotely control your PC? Android apps help to remotely access and securely control your desktop, laptop through mobile phones. To do this you will need to setup a remote desktop server on your computer. 


In this post we will take a look at 5 android apps which will help to remotely access and securely control your computer from anywhere using Internet.

1. TeamViewer

Team viewer is a remotely control app which provide spontaneous support or to remotely access an unattended computer or servers across different platforms.

teamviewer android application

Some Features of TeamViewer app

  • Support your clients and colleagues spontaneously
  • Access your office desktop with all of its documents installed applications
  • Remotely administer unattended computers
  • Easy file transfer to and from remote computer


2. VNC Viewer

VNC Viewer is a remote control app from RealVNC gives you instant remote access of your computers or servers from anywhere using your mobile.

VNC Viewer

Some Features of VNC Viewer app

  • It supports all popular desktop operating systems
  • Provide different authentication techniques to prevent unauthorized access
  • Provide backup and syn facility
  • Available online support and documentation through chat or E-mail


3. Microsoft Remote Desktop

You can use the Remote Desktop client for Android to work with Windows apps and desktops directly from your Android device.this tool only work on windows PC.

Microsoft Remote Desktop

Some Features of Microsoft Remote Desktop App
  • Support Windows OS desktop or servers 
  • Rich multi-touch experience supporting Windows gestures using RemoteFX.
  • Access to remote resources like printers using Remote Desktop Gateway (the same need to be configured on your network).
  • High quality audio and video support using advanced bandwidth compression.


4. Chrome Remote Desktop

Chrome remote desktop is a chrome browser extension which is fully cross-platform. Provide remote assistance to Windows, Mac and Linux users, or access your Windows (XP and above) and Mac (OS X 10.6 and above) desktops at any time, all from the Chrome browser on virtually any device, including Chromebooks.

Chrome Remote Desktop
Some Features of Chrome Remote Desktop
  • Able to setup screen sharing and remote assistance
  • Encrypted session using chromes SSL features including AES
  • Free to install and use at personal as well as commercial level
  • Streams audio and support copy-paste features

5. Splashtop

Last but not least we have Splashtop.It is the easiest,fastest,secure remote desktop app for accessing your Windows or Mac computer.it is easy to setup.
spalshtop
Some Features of SplashTop
  • Splashtop Business supports the Swiftpoint GT mouse for iPhone to enhance the productivity of your  remote desktop sessions
  • In session FPS settings– Experiment with these settings for the best performance on different networks and computers! 
  • Strong encryption including logging, audit trails and multi-level passwords. 
  • Business features include file transfer, remote print, chat and multi-user access.

Conclusion

TeamViewer is recommended for personal use because it is easy to use and also support screen sharing and support different operating systems. If anyone wants to perform basic remote control on windows then Microsoft Remote Desktop App is a good option.

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PPC – SomeOne SpenDing – SomeOne EarNing

We have the Internet that provides a huge platform for advertising products and services online. Advertisers around the world have shown a keen interest in making good use of the Internet that is omnipresent these days.

Contrary to the traditional advertising model, the recent methods of internet marketing involve innovative techniques to catch more eyeballs and pull online traffic to visit, listen, view, or buy a product or a service that is on offer. It is done through a model that is now being widely regarded as Pay Per Click (PPC). It is a successful model for internet advertising that directs online traffic to particular websites, where the advertisers pay the publishers a certain amount when their ad is clicked.

Pay-per-click (PPC), also known as cost per click (CPC), is an internet advertising model used to direct traffic to websites, in which an advertiser pays a publisher (typically a website owner or a network of websites) when the ad is clicked.

Entities Involved in PPC Advertising:

  • Product or Service Seller
  • PPC Advertiser
  • Landing Page Provider
  • Landing Page
  • Viewer or the Visitor

Take a close look at the illustrations below that depict the general roles of the entities involved in PPC advertising:

A product/service seller contacts advertisers for PPC based Ad programs.

PPC Advertiser creates Ads and provides landing pages for Ads.

Users click the Ads and visit the landing pages.

PPC – Bird’s eye view

Lets take a look at Terminology related to PPC:

Ad group
It is a collection of relevant keywords under one name. Maximum 20,000 keywords can be added into an Ad Group.

Ad Network
An Ad Network is an online business that specializes in matching up of advertisers to the websites looking to host the ad. Ad networks work as brokers for both suppliers (sites with content that can host ads, and buyers (the advertisers).

Ad Position
Ad position is the order in which an ad is displayed on a webpage. For example, ad position “1” means the ad is displayed first on the webpage.

Ad Rank
It is a value used to determine the Ad Proposition.

Call-To-Action (CTA)
This is a marketing term used for the action you want the website visitor to take.

Campaign
It is a series of relevant ad groups.

Click-Through-Rate (CTR)
It is a metric showing how often a visitor clicks your ad after seeing it. It can be defined as the number of clicks per thousand impressions. CTR contributes to Ad Rank.

Conversion
Conversion is the action the user wants when he clicks on an ad. It occurs when a visitor takes action. For example, the user makes purchases, signs ups, submits enquiry forms, views a page, or downloads, depending on the program’s goals.

Conversion Rate
It is the measurement of the success of a paid campaign. It is measured by the number of potential visitors performing any of the desired actions such as buying a product, filling a form, etc.

For example, if there are 100 visitors to a particular webpage via a PPC ad, and six of those 100 visitors buy the product the website sells, then the conversion rate for that particular ad is six percent. The larger the conversion rate, the more successful the website is.

Cost Per Action or Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
It is the amount you pay for every lead, sign-up, or purchases.

Cost Per Click (CPC)
It implies the amount you pay for every single click on your ads.

Cost Per Mille (CPM)
It is the amount paid for every thousand views of the PPC ad.

Destination URL
It is where you want the user to land when he clicks on the ad.

Display URL
It is the name of a page of the website.

Geo-targeting
Delivery of ads to a particular geographic location of the users. It allows the advertisers to choose specific locations where they wish to show their ads.

Keyword
It is a search query made by a user. A word or a phrase of words entered in the search box by the user. The search engine matches your keywords and gives you relevant results on the Search Engine Result Page (SERP).

Landing Page
It is any standalone webpage distinct from the main website on which the visitor lands.

Negative Keywords
They are the ones for which you do not want your ad to appear.

PPC Bid
It is the maximum amount of fees an advertiser is ready to pay for a click.

Prospect
Prospect is a potential user who can buy a product/service being advertised.

Quality Score
It is a dynamic metrics assigned to each of your keywords and ads. It determines the quality of your keyword, ad, and the landing page. High quality score boosts the ad rank.

Creating a Keyword List

Keywords are the primitive entities of PPC ads. Choosing a correct and relevant set of keywords can help design a crisp and persuasive ad to fulfill the sole purpose of increasing the number of clicks on the ad.

You can use the given target model for keyword research and building a keyword list. The basic steps of building a keyword list are

  • Create a basic list (Seed List) of usual business terms
  • Expand the list using keyword research tools
  • Refine the list of keywords

Creating a Seed List

A seed list is nothing but the initial set of keywords of the seller’s business. Write down the six keyword categories in columns. Use a combination of brainstorming and investigation for categorizing the keywords into these six groups by keeping the brand and the product terms at the center of attention.

You need to build this list thoroughly, keeping in mind all the features of the product or service the seller is providing. You need to ponder and create a list of words about what all problems this particular product or service can solve.

Expanding the List

Initially, you need to think of only a few dozens of keywords, then expand, and finally refine. While expanding, you can add new potential keywords in the existing list so that the list is always up-to-date. For this, you need to:

  • Review the seller’s website for new or upcoming products or services.
  • Understand how people talk about the product and its features.
  • Identify unique and well-performing keywords that need to be added in the list.
  • Use keywords research tools for various suggestions.

Refining the List

While expanding, you may have added non-value adding or non-interesting keywords. Now it is time to refine the keywords list by eliminating the less interesting keywords and keeping only the best ones. There is no hard and fast rule to do this. Refining the keywords list is vital, as you need to take care not introduce any negative effect on the present list.

Keyword Research Tools

Keyword research tools help you to expand the list of keywords in most relevance of the seller’s product or service. These tools suggest numerous variations of the words from which we can select the appropriate one.

These tools include:

  • Google AdWords Keyword Planner
  • Word Tracker
  • SEO Book Keyword Suggestion Tools
  • Keyword Discovery
  • SpyFu

Writing a Killer PPC Ad

Refer the diagram shown below. To create an effective and compelling ad, the following methodology is helpful:

Elements of a PPC Ad

Refer the following image to understand the elements of a PPC ad.

Headline – This is the main title of the ad. It must be magnetic, crisp, and compact.

Display URL – This is the link of the relevant web page where the prospects will be taken onto. It is not required to be the exact landing page but it should be relevant. You can, for example, include your website with the top keyword in your Ad Campaign.

Description Line 1 and 2 – This is the body of the ad. It describes the product or the service the seller is offering.

Landing Pages

If you create a beautiful and catchy PPC ad with an effective Call-To-Action and do not link an appropriate landing page to it, then all your efforts go in vain.
Use of landing pages in the PPC ads helps to:

  • Increase conversion
  • Reduce Cost-Per-Click (CPC)
  • Reduce bounce rate

Elements of an Effective Landing Page:

  • Engaging and beautiful appearance.
  • Well-organized contents.
  • Tight coupling between advertise and page contents.
  • Simple, yet descriptive and informative.
  • Clear and discrete Call-To-Action and offers.
  • Capability of building trust about authenticity of a product or service the seller offers.
  • Capability of pursuing the visitors to take action.

PPC Bidding

Bidding is offering a competitive price that a bidder is ready to pay for a service. The term ‘bidding’ is always used in the context of auction. Bidding is very useful to set the value of an object, an art piece, a property, a commodity, etc. The amount itself is called as a bid.

In the context of internet marketing, the amount an online business organization allocates for PPC advertising is known as PPC bid. The bids specify the maximum amount that an organization is ready to pay each time a user clicks your ad. This is called the maximum Cost-Per-Click (max CPC).

Factors That Affect Bidding:

  • Advertising budget of the organization
  • The time the organization plans to use paid advertising.
  • Keyword popularity
  • Competition from other advertisers

What to Bid For?

With the help of bid management tools, you can bid for:

  • Conversion events such as video views, contact forms, store directions, the time of ad display, etc.
  • Keywords such as brand phrases, user phrases, direct response phrases, lead generation phrases, engaging phrases, etc.

Want to learn Digital Marketing?

If Trump Fires Mueller, Is a Watergate Rerun Coming?

Firing special prosecutor Archibald Cox was a massive blunder for Richard Nixon. But yes, it could happen again.

For some reason I had a yearning to curl up on the couch and binge-watch Watergate documentaries this weekend. I can’t imagine why. Just because every TV talking head was breathlessly talking about the right-wing crusade against special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, and rumors were flying that Jared Kushner is shopping around for a crisis management firm, that’s no reason to think that the scandal may be headed for a new phase. But when news broke on Saturday that a Trump transition lawyer had sent a letter to Congress complaining that Mueller had allegedly obtained transition officials’ emails illegally, it sure felt as if something was going to break.

Trump returned from Camp David on Sunday night and told the press that he isn’t considering firing Mueller. Since he cannot tell a lie, that’s obviously the end of that. The Kushner business, on the other hand, may be true, in light of the news about the emails that the Trump team didn’t know were in the hands of prosecutors until after they had all testified, opening up the possibility that someone may have lied. As Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos can attest, that’s a big no-no.

Trump’s transition lawyer, who doesn’t seem to have any experience in these matters, said that the way the prosecutors obtained the emails is illegal — but also said that Congress should make it illegal. So the nature of Team Trump’s specific complaints is a bit confusing. Evidently they had placed their own man in the General Services Administration, who assured them that emails they sent on government devices with the .gov address would be secured and wouldn’t be turned over without their knowledge.

Unfortunately, their man got sick and died, and the people beneath him were not told about this promise, and when the prosecutors came looking for the emails they were handed over, as would happen in any criminal investigation. Since all such emails are government property and everyone is informed before they are issued the email addresses that they have no expectation of privacy, there’s nothing unusual in any of it. But as we’ve seen before, the Trump team doesn’t really listen or pay attention to the normal rules and regulations. They apparently thought they had this all dialed in. As usual, they didn’t.

Mueller’s office made a rare public comment right after midnight on Sunday morning: “When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner’s consent or appropriate criminal process.” Apparently, they had reason to believe something criminal was going on in the Trump transition.

Lawyers from both parties weighed in on Sunday and explained that there’s nothing illegal about a government investigation obtaining emails from a government agency. The Trump attorney referred to “possible” executive privilege and attorney-client privilege, but didn’t really make the claim, mainly because executive privilege doesn’t exist for a president until he takes office, and if there were attorney communications that might be privileged, all it means is that prosecutors couldn’t use those to build their case. Needless to say, if the Trump team wants to argue this, the appropriate venue is a courtroom — which is exactly what the House Oversight Committee chair Trey Gowdy told them.

As I mentioned, Trump says he isn’t considering firing Mueller, but then, he isn’t literally the one who would fire him, is he? That job would fall to Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general overseeing the special counsel investigation since Jeff Sessions recused himself from the case. Trump could direct Rosenstein to fire Mueller; if Rosenstein refuses, the president can fire him and demand that the next person in line do the deed. It’s not as if it hasn’t happened before.

Looking back at the Saturday Night Massacre in the fall of 1973, at the height of the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon was furious that special prosecutor Archibald Cox had gone beyond what Nixon thought should be his mandate. When the president found out that Cox was looking into the financing of his West Coast White House in San Clemente, California, he went ballistic. Nixon probably had a lot less to hide in this regard than Donald Trump does.

But what finally precipitated Cox’s firing was the battle over the tapes of Nixon’s conversations in the White House, which had been described in detail by former White House counsel John Dean when testifying about the cover-up of the Watergate break-in. After the existence of the tapes had been exposed, Nixon refused to turn them over. Cox took him to court, and the court had ruled against the president. Nixon refused. His lawyers came up with a cockamamie plan to have one elderly conservative senator listen to the tapes and attest to the accuracy of White House-prepared transcripts of certain conversations under subpoena. Cox said no — that was in defiance of the court. He planned to take the case back before a judge and would abide by his ruling.

That’s when Nixon called up the Attorney General Elliot Richardson and told him to fire Cox. The president said to Richardson when he refused, “I’m sorry you choose to put your purely personal commitments ahead of the public interest.” To which Richardson replied, “Mr. President, it would appear that you and I have a different perception of the public interest.” Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus also resigned, and then Solicitor General Robert Bork finally did the deed.

What happened next was interesting. Nixon wanted to shut down the office altogether and sent the FBI to lock the place down. But prosecutors wouldn’t leave and were giving press conferences. The public was all up in arms, and the media backlash was furious.

Nixon ended up having to appoint another special prosecutor and picked a conservative Republican, Leon Jaworski, who was predisposed to give the president the benefit of the doubt. But after refusing to appeal the case to the Supreme Court, Nixon finally gave up the tapes. When Jaworski heard him talking to John Dean, he said, “can you believe the president of the United States coaching a witness on how to evade the truth?”

That’s when the prosecutors got their indictments of the presidents’ men and delivered their case to the House committee considering impeachment.

Watching Trump and knowing how often he lies, it seems inevitable that there have been more than a few such moments for Mueller in reading some of those emails and listening to testimony from people around the president. The difference is that Nixon had an understanding of the necessity of maintaining stability in the system, even as he abused it terribly. Trump doesn’t even know what the system is and his lawyers don’t seem to have much of a grasp of it either. So far, Republicans in Congress are completely unwilling to do their duty.

Trump might follow the Nixon playbook and fire Mueller, but after that, the whole thing could go off the rails. As strange as this is to say, Nixon knew there were limits to his power. Trump doesn’t. Who knows what he might do?

 

 

 

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The Chilling Trump Propaganda Airing Across Local News, Courtesy of Sinclair Broadcast Group

Americans are being told there was no collusion, and the president did a bang-up job in Puerto Rico.

As it closes in on a significant expansion into major cities and battleground states across the country, conservative local news behemoth Sinclair Broadcast Group has gone into overdrive with its pro-Trump and anti-media propaganda.

Sinclair is known for its history of injecting right-wing spin into local newscasts, most notably with its nationally produced “must-run” commentary segments. The segments, which all Sinclair-owned and operated news stations are required to air, have included (sometimes embarrassing) pro-Trump propaganda missivesfrom former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn since the spring.

Last week (one day after reportedly partying at Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C.), Epshteyn produced a new must-run segment essentially arguing that media are being too mean to the Trump administration:

Epshteyn’s latest video is yet another effort by Sinclair to adopt the Fox News model: By arguing that media at large is not to be trusted, it’s attempting to isolate local news audiences, suggesting to communities across the country that the only news they can trust is coming from Sinclair. (Not to be outdone, Sinclair’s other must-run personality Mark Hyman released a new segment the same day asserting full-blown anti-Trump “media collusion.”)

This segment is far from Epshteyn’s first defense of Trump from what he views as unfair attacks by the press, nor is it the first to suggest mainstream media are hopelessly biased and untrustworthy. It’s also not alone in looking like straight-up Trump propaganda.

In recent months, Epshteyn segments have also told viewers that:

All Americans should be more like actor Bryan Cranston, who remarked  during an interview that people ought to hope Trump succeeds for the good of the country. (Yes, this warranted an entire must-run segment.)

The FBI just might be targeting Trump because of his political leanings.

Deregulation under the Trump administration has led to a spectacularly growing economy.

The Colin Kaepernick-led NFL protests are really about how Trump gets genuinely upset when the flag is “disrespected,” as Epshteyn can personally attest.

The Trump administration’s response to devastation in Puerto Rico deserved a little criticism, but only polite criticism.

These are just (perhaps) the most egregiously propagandistic of Epshteyn’s must-run segments since Media Matters last documented his worst videos in August, and unfortunately there are plenty more to choose from. Epshteyn’s segments have also defended Trump and the GOP on the following: Jared Kushner’s Middle East diplomacy, ending the DACA program with a grace period, another revised Muslim travel ban, North Korea strategy, repealing the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act, and moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

As it stands, Sinclair is broadcasting segments like these on stations across 34 states and the District of Columbia, particularly in local media markets for suburbs and mid-sized cities from Maine to California — and they could be coming to a station near you.

The local news giant is now awaiting approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Department of Justice of its acquisition of Tribune Media, which would allow Sinclair to further spread its propaganda in the country’s top media markets, reaching nearly three-quarters of U.S. households. If this week’s deeply unpopular move to repeal net neutrality rules is any indication of the five FCC commissioners’ adherence to party lines, the FCC seal of approval for this deal is pretty much a sure thing thanks to its current Republican majority.

Media Matters has mapped out more than 15 communities that will be hit hard by the Sinclair-Tribune merger. You can also find a full list of stations owned or operated by Sinclair on its website, and here is the full list of stations it is set to acquire with its purchase of Tribune Media.

 

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Elemental Evil: Session 12

In the previous session the heroes had finished the second keep of elemental evil and killed its boss, a wereboar. This session began with the realization that the group paladin was now infected with lycanthropy. And being just below level 5 they didn’t have the necessary remove curse spell to get rid of that. So instead of directly heading for the next keep, they returned to Red Larch again, where the local priests were able to heal the paladin from his curse.

On leaving the temple the group witnessed an attack on the town by two ankheg. They were able to defend the town, but the burrowing monsters caused a sinkhole to appear in the middle of the town square. Exploring that the group found a small dungeon (the “Tomb of Moving Stones”) with a temple inhabited by a priest of the earth cultists. They killed the priest and discovered evidence that he tried to convert a group of town elders, the “believers”, from a harmless excuse to spend evenings among men to a far more sinister cult of elemental evil.
The Tomb of Moving Stones is normally a far lower level adventure, designed to get a level 1 group started in Red Larch. In this case I thought it would be a nice opportunity to introduce the earth cult a bit more, before the group heads into their keep. The added advantage was that the xp from that dungeon got the group to level 5, which is what the next dungeon is designed for. As level 5 is a major jump in power, I thought it was wiser to do it that way.

Rage of Demons: Session 3

In the previous session our heroes traveled towards the kuo-toa village of Sloobludop, pursued by the drow. They had learned from their kuo-toa companion Shuushar that there were two factions in Sloobludop: The followers of the goddess Blibdoolpoolp (aka “the Sea Mother”) with her archpriest Plooploopeen (aka “Ploop”) were vying for control with the upstart followers of the god Leemooggoogoon (aka “the Deep Father”) and his archpriestess Bloppblippodd (aka “Blopp”), daughter of Ploop.

Before they reached the village they were accosted by a patrol of kuo-toa, who offered them safe passage to Sloobludop if they would put all their weapons in a sack to prevent a surprise attack. They agreed, but before they could reach Sloobludop another patrol of kuo-toa attacked and killed the first patrol. That second patrol was led by Ploop, who explained that the first patrol was from the other faction, who would have sacrificed the group to the Deep Father. Ploop led them to the village and told them which quarters to stay in to not attract the attention of the other faction. But Surina the sorceress was curious about the other faction, magically disguised herself as kuo-toa, took Nyx the druid in the form of a small animal on her shoulder, and went exploring. She found that in fact the altar of the Deep Father looked rather grim: Two octopi were tied together on top of a manta ray, to give the impression of a two-headed monster. Traces of blood sacrifices were visible. In contrast the altar of the Sea Mother had offerings of knickknacks like sea shells, and looked more welcoming.

Based on that information the group agreed to a proposal of Ploop: They were to hide their weapon and armor under robes and be led by a group of Ploop’s followers to the upcoming festival in honor of the Deep Father. Ploop would pretend to give them to Blopp as a peace offering, as sacrifice for her god. But then Ploop, his followers, and the group would attack Blopp and her followers.

They executed the plan as intended. When striking down Blopp, the archpriestess called out “Leemooggoogoon”, and fell bleeding on the god’s altar. Suddenly the dark surface of the lake behind the altar began to bubble, and a huge monstrosity with tentacles and two baboon heads rose from the water. “Leemooggoogon” turned out to be the demon prince Demogorgon! With a single attack Demogorgon killed Prince Derendil, one of the NPC companions of the group. They also lost another NPC companion, Jimjar, by getting separated from him in the ensuing chaos. While Demogorgon killed Ploop, the group escaped and found a boat. With their remaining NPC companions Buppido, Shuushar, Sarith, and Stool, they got away from Sloobludop. Now they knew that something more dangerous than drow was afoot in the Underdark!

With the help of Arkoy’s curse that gave them a sense of direction, and Shuushar’s knowledge of the lake, they decided to travel towards Gracklstugh, the duergar city where Buppido claimed to know a way towards the surface world. But that was 20 days of travel away. On the evening of the first day they stopped at an island where they found a tunnel leading underground in which fungi grew. Unfortunately those turned out to be Timmask, a poisonous mushroom, whose spores put a confusion on Nyx, so she wandered deeper down in the tunnel. Following Nyx to stop her, the group was caught in a tremor causing a cave-in and were trapped. However a new passage had opened in one of the tunnel walls, leading to a strange temple. At first the group encountered gray ooze twice, who fell from the ceiling and damaged Mog’burz’ weapon with acid.

Then they saw a strange sight before them: A skeleton (not animated) was seemingly floating in the air, along with a dark metal mace and some coins. Trying to take the mace with a mage hand spell led to the hand encountering an invisible wall, and a telepathic message of “Hey! Stop tickling me!”. Thus the group encountered Glabbagool, a gelatinous cube who had become sentient. Glabbagool was friendly and spat out the mace and coins on request, and told them about the rest of the temple. He warned them about traps full of black puddings in corridors leading to a closed door, of which he didn’t know what was behind it. The group went there with Glabbagool escorting them (and dispatching quickly some more gray oozes). They discovered a new cave which Glabbagool said hadn’t been there before, from which water flowed into the temple.

They went to the closed door, which turned out to be easy to open for creatures possessing hands to use the door knob. Behind was an octagonal room with 7 niches, of which 4 contained strange, formless sculptures, and a big fountain in the middle containing dark water. Touching the statues unfroze them, and they turned out to be another 4 gray oozes. After killing those they discovered some treasure under the water of the fountain. Having explored the whole temple, there was no apparent way out. And from the new cave water kept rushing in, the whole complex being below the surface level of the darklake. They explored the cave and saw that the water was coming from fissures in the ceiling. With the help of a Magic Missile (and creative rule interpretation by me as DM) they made the ceiling collapse, at which point they could swim to the surface of the lake and back to their boat.

There a nasty surprise awaited them. Buppido was found unconscious with a big bump on the back of his head, while Shuushar was dead, with his entrails arranged in a bizarre fashion around him, like by some sort of ritual. Woken up, Buppido couldn’t provide an explanation of what had happened, and the group found no traces of the killer. So the next day they said goodbye to Glabbagool (who wouldn’t fit on the boat) and rowed off.

Two days later they were passing by another island, when they heard a soft feminine voice inside their heads pleading for help. Somebody on the island needed rescue! On the island they found a big green door, which turned out to be of heavy marble, covered in corroded bronze, and with an axis in the middle. Pushing with much force on the side opened the door (we were joking that Mog’burz, who failed several door opening rolls in this dungeon, kept pushing in the middle of the door). Behind the door was a Nethril tomb from millennia ago (basically Ancient Egyptian in design), the Lost Tomb of Khaem.

In the tomb the group came upon a room with a stone sarcophagus. That turned out to be a false tomb with a trap cursing them to have disadvantage on all attack rolls and saving throws. As they were all affected by the curse, this turned the dungeon into a far more deadly place. And there was another strange feature to the tomb: Any spell cast resulted in a wild magic surge, giving a random result form the wild magic table of the chaos sorcerer. That turned out to be an insidious feature when in the next room the group was attacked by four specters, who were resistant to non-magical damage. It turned downright deadly in the final (hidden) room, where the group encountered Brysis of Khaem, an evil sorceress who was now a wraith. Mog’burz the eldritch knight countered an attack of Brysis with a shield spell, but that triggered everybody’s favorite wild magic surge result: a fireball.

They barely survived this encounter, but then found the source of the voice: an intelligent sword called Dawnbringer. They also found a bunch of other nice treasures, like a necklace of fireballs, and over 2,000 gold pieces worth of valuables. Danger has its rewards in Dungeons & Dragons. At that point we ended the session, the group having reached level 5.