How to: Create A Facebook Page

laelene Posted in how to guides,Tags: , , , , , , , ,
20

[Editor’s Note: This is an updated version of the original blog post that is now nearly three years old! This includes up-to-date instructions after some changes to Facebook’s interface.]

pinnable quote image for how to create a facebook page blog post on maryqin.com

I decided it was time for me to create a Facebook page for my little blog, so I can really try to build it out and maybe get some followers! I’d like to think that what I’m putting out there is educating or entertaining someone, but I’ve never really promoted it so it’s time to take action.

When I went to create the FB page, I (for the life of me) could NOT find where to choose the “Personal Blog” category! And that’s what spurred this entry. Read on to learn the basics for setting up a Facebook page and how to select a category like “Personal Blog,” “Personal Website,” and more!

Creating Your Facebook Page

webpage to create a new facebook page First of all, here’s where you can create a new Facebook page. As you’ll see, right away they want you to choose a category. Your desired page may fit multiple categories, so it’s up to you to decide which one is best for your needs. Of the 6 types they’ve laid out for you (1. Local Business or Place; 2. Company, Organization or Institution; 3. Brand or Product; 4. Artist, Band or Public Figure; 5. Entertainment; 6. Cause or Community), all but the last one have a dropdown menu with category choices. Don’t worry if your desired category isn’t there – just pick what’s closest or tickles your fancy. In my case, I went for “Brand or Product”and chose “Website” from the dropdown.

You will be asked to enter your page name, which should be the title of your blog, the name of your business, or whatever you want the world to know your page by. Note that Facebook has certain rules in place about what is allowed in a name – for example, I tried to enter my blog name, ((little fat notebook)), but it was immediately rejected because I’m not allowed to use symbols. You are allowed one set of parentheses, but there can only be two words in it (like this) and obviously I’d have three if I went for (little fat notebook). Alas, I then tried just plain “little fat notebook” and that’s not allowed because the name must start with an uppercase! I didn’t like how Little fat notebook looked, so I went for the boring old Little Fat Notebook. Luckily, you can change it after the fact!

Setting Up Your Facebook Page

Once you agree to their terms and click Get Started, you’re prompted to fill in a description and add links to your site(s). They now allow you to choose your vanity URL (the pretty one that looks like https://www.facebook.com/littlefatnotebook instead of https://www.facebook.com/pages/little-fat-notebook/457453117668145). Check out my post on claiming vanity URLs to learn more. Choose carefully, you can only ever change it once after that. Next upload an avatar/profile picture to represent your page.

You can then add this new page to your Favorites area for quick access. That’s the part on the left when you go to Facebook.com. Finally, you can indicate your target audience including where they’re located, what age range they’re in, their gender, and their indicated interests. You’ll then be taken to your brand new Facebook page! A quick tour is given and then you’re given free reign. Feel free to add a cover photo, invite friends to like your page, and share your very first post!

area to set up target audience of new facebook page

Changing To A Better Category

settings option for facebook pageNow here’s what you’ve been waiting for: how to make the page exactly as you want it! Under the cover photo area, click About. This takes you to Page Info where you’ll see the category you chose. Alternatively, at the top right, you’ll see Settings, which takes you to a page full of them. Along the left is a menu with “Page Info” – that brings you to the same place. Hover over the Category section to find the Edit button. From there you’ll see that the category and subcategory choices are far more plentiful than they let on earlier in the process! That’s where I found a previously unmentioned category called “Websites & Blogs,” which contains the subcategory option I had been hunting for: Personal Blog. The nice thing is that you can change this at any time, so as your site/brand evolves, you can update the category accordingly.page info section of facebook page

dropdown menu to edit facebook page category

dropdown menu to edit facebook page subcategory

So there you go! I hope that helped. If you found it useful, please like my page to show your support. 🙂

A few other tips:

When you reach 30 fans, Facebook will provide “insights” about your page, which include data about the reach of your page and each post (how many people see it, pretty much), how many people are talking about (sharing) your posts, and how many posts you’re putting up daily. You can also find cool demographic information about your followers. Basically if you’re into data, you’re going to love this part.

Note that I was able to update my page name from Little Fat Notebook to all lowercase. Unfortunately you still can’t add symbols, but as mentioned before, you can use one set of parentheses.

From now on, you can choose to interact with Facebook as yourself (personal profile) or your Page. This option is available for anything public that multiple profiles can access. You won’t see it for posts related to your private friends, for example, since Pages cannot post to personal profiles. But on other pages, you can choose to comment/like as yourself or your Page.

dropdown menu to choose facebook profile or page to interact as

I used to highly recommend putting your website URL in the Short Description so users can easily click to your site from your FB page. Now Facebook has added a Call to Action button instead, so you can set that up to get users to your site. None of the options are particularly blog-friendly though, so I’d like to see a “Read More” or “Read Now” action.

dropdown menu to set facebook page call to action button

Now that you have a Facebook page, check out my tutorials on:
~how to manage your Facebook page
~how to link your social media accounts
~how to claim your vanity URLs (as mentioned earlier in the post), and more!

You can find all my “how to” posts for useful tips like how to make a favicon and random things like how to set your iPhone/iPad to stop playing music at a certain time or even how to win a Facebook contest!

If you have any questions or tips of your own, I’d love to hear them! Please do share. 🙂

Do you know what to do in a power outage?

laelene Posted in how to guides, stories,Tags: , , , , , , , ,
0

The back story…

Yesterday morning I was woken up from a dream by Panda’s voice. It took me some time to figure out he was trying to talk to me. “The power’s out,” he said. Huh? That woke me up a bit He explained it had been out since 1 and asked if I knew how to open the garage door. I explained it to him and settled in for some more sleep before I had to get up. Moments later, his phone started ringing. The neighbor was calling to ask for helping opening her garage door.

Panda went to practice on our door first, and then called me to help make sure it was done right. For some reason, ours was not staying up once you pushed it. It took a lot of maneuvering to get it to a precarious position where it didn’t start sliding down. Luckily, the neighbor’s was working fine and stayed up the way it should. We both backed our cars out of the garages and Panda went off to work. The neighbor then asked me with help closing the garage door.

It was pretty high and took a little jumping to grab the handle and pull it back down. Once in place, I pushed in the manual lock to keep it in place and we went through her home so I could leave from the front door. She decided to show me the lighter she placed by the gas stove, explaining that she had no idea she could still use the stove! Panda had explained that to her. Then she did something that showed me she really hadn’t gone through power outages before – she opened the freezer door wide open.

She wanted to show me the ice packs she was afraid would melt and start leaking. I quickly got her to close the door and explained that if she kept her fridge and freezer sealed, they can retain their cold temperature for hours. I made sure to emphasize to NOT open either door until the power came back on.

This experience was surprising for me. I thought everyone knew the basics of what to do (and what you can/can’t do) in a power outage. While power outages aren’t commonplace in the US, they certainly do happen here and there, whether due to equipment failures or weather conditions. Haven’t we all been through one at some point? Perhaps not. So with Hurricane Joaquin and other impending weather conditions likely to cause a lot of flooding, it’s likely there will be more power outages up and down the eastern seaboard.

Are you prepared for a power outage? Here are my tips and suggestions:

Before the Outage

-Prepare supplies. This includes everything from extra food (canned or dry goods) and water to flashlights and candles. Don’t forget those long reach lighters! Make sure to have some warm clothing and/or blankets available if temperatures have been cooling in your area as they have been here.

-If you have any sort of health concern, have tons of medication or equipment pieces ready to use. If what you need requires power, it might be best to go somewhere that will have a backup generator and professionals who can help you.

-Get a battery/solar/hand crank powered radio. In case your phone signal has issues, this can allow you to get news.

-Try to fill up on gas now so you aren’t in crazy lines later. Just in case you need to evacuate (and assuming you can actually drive out of the area).

-Speaking of evacuating, throw together a “go bag” with power bars, some water, clothing, and other items you’d need if you have to make a quick run for it.

-Charge up devices, battery packs, and anything else that needs or stores power. It’s always better to have plenty of backups.

-Transfer some ice packs to the fridge to help keep the temperature down in there during the outage.

-When anticipating a storm, bring in anything from the outside that might get damaged or blown away.

-Gather up some books, board games, and other activities you can do without any electricity.

During the Outage

-Once there is an outage, be sure to unplug devices hooked up directly to the wall. Turn off any surge protectors just to be extra safe. Larger things like fridges and microwaves should be fine, so no need to go climbing in some dusty area trying to unplug those.

-Do not open the fridge or freezer doors! Feel free to throw down a rag by the freezer door to absorb any leakage from melting ice, but don’t look in there until the power has come back on.

-If it’s light out and not crazy windy or rainy, go outside and enjoy! If it is raining heavily and that’s why the power went out, grab a book and read by the window or spend some time chatting/playing games with your loved ones.

-Use the radio to stay tuned to any emergency news, especially potential evacuations or worsening conditions.

-If it’s dark out, snuggle up in a blanket, light some candles, and enjoy the peaceful flickers of light. Take advantage of the opportunity to get a little extra rest and sleep early!

-To open the garage door, pull firmly down on the red thing dangling down. This releases it and allows you to manually pull the door up. If you push it past your head and as far up as you can, you should be able to get it to stay there. To close, grab the handle (you might need a chair to help) and start pulling the door down. Make sure you support the weight and bring it down in a controlled fashion so it doesn’t slam down to the ground. From the inside, there’s at least one side with a metal bar that you can push to lock the door in place so someone from the outside can’t open it. Secure that in place and you’re done!

-For those with gas burners, when you try to turn on the flame and hear that clicking noise, light up a flame and stick it by the burner. It will catch the natural gas on fire and allow you to heat up food. Be careful not to get too close when lighting.

-Depending on the severity of conditions, carefully ration the food you eat so you don’t rush through it all. Same with the water supply, if your piping is affected and the water gets contaminated.

After the Outage

-Open up the fridge and check for anything that might have spoiled, depending on the length of time the power was out (say, more than 4 hours). If anything is above 40 degrees, it might be spoiled. The freezer can last up to 48 hours by some accounts, so your food should be ok if the outage wasn’t long. If you’re concerned, feel how warm the food is and make your judgement call on what to keep or toss.

-Replug anything that you’d unplugged and turn those surge protectors back on. Do a spot check of lights around the home. They should work, but you never know.

-Those with garage doors, you can pull the metal lock out and press the garage door opener. The piece will move until it clicks back into place and then you can open and close the door electronically like before.

-And then you can start moving everything else back into their original places too!

-Be sure to restock on anything that got low so you’re prepared for the next one.

 

I’ve shared what I’ve learned from personal experience. I’ve never had flooding, so you’ll find that area lacking in my points. Let me know if I missed anything else! I personally like a minor power outage since it forces us to live more simply for a little while.

Traveling by plane with a pet

laelene Posted in how to guides, lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , , , , , ,
1

Ever wonder what it’s like to fly with a cat? Here’s my story… (or skip to the tips if you’re pressed for time)

cat sitting on person meowing and looking out window of back seat of car

Off we go! Missy was a bit worried. What are all those cars?!

My mom finally relented after over a year and a half of debating whether I could and should bring Missy to the east coast with me, so yesterday I boarded a plane, cat carrier in tow. I purchased the in-cabin pet ticket about a week ago – originally there was a place to add the pet from my reservation online, but when I went back when I was ready to commit, it was nowhere to be found. I ended up calling up the airline to purchase it for $125. Luckily, we already had a carrier that my mom used back when she moved one of my previous cats, Jerriey, to Beijing.

The morning of, we packed my bags and then brought Molly down to witness Missy leaving. Molly kept running away and didn’t seem at all interested, but she did notice Missy in the carrier. At first Missy was a little confused, but calm as she wondered what was going on. Once we started to drive, she got scared and meowed all sorts of meows – timid frightened ones, deep guttural ones, and loud complaining ones. Occasionally she panted as if she were hyperventilating.

cat sitting in back window of car driving on freeway

For awhile, she “hid” in the back.

At one point, my mom complained of the smell of feces. My cousin and I were oblivious until much later, when I suddenly smelled it too. I saw one piece, which I was able to pick out with a paper towel. My mom didn’t believe there was only one, so we let the cat out and found a bunch more! We picked them all up in the paper towels and I tried to ignore the smell. Eventually, I found a plastic bag to tie it all up in and Missy seemed better when she was able to move around, sit on my cousin, and look out the window. We continued on and all seemed well until my cousin noticed a strange smell. She looked around and found that somehow Missy had pooped again – this time it was more wet and probably due to the nerves. At this point we were stopping so I could get some See’s Candy to bring back. We used the last of the tissues and paper towels we could find to pick up the new batch and I took the plastic bag with everything to throw it out.

By the time we reached the airport, I felt like the carrier smelled of urine. There was nothing I could do just yet, so I met up with Panda and we checked in our luggage. The cat carrier counted as an item, so I couldn’t bring my suitcase AND the tote bag I usually have, so I checked the suitcase. Since I had to check a bag anyway, I decided to pack an extra suitcase and bring back some of the things I had been meaning to transport, like my Lumnique candle (the whole box it came in) and my set of Crate & Barrel glasses, carafe, and tray that I won.

person carrying cat through security at airportWhen we went through security, I was surprised to discover they had me carry Missy through the screening. I thought I’d bring the whole carrier, but that went through the x-ray like everything else. They also made sure to wipe my hands to check for explosive residue (or whatever else they want to make sure you didn’t touch). Good thing Missy’s an easy-going cat or I don’t know what sort of insanity might have ensued. If it were Molly, she’d be so upset I’m sure I would have gotten injured and she likely would have escaped. If it were Smokey, she’d probably be scared out of her wits and run off to hide. I zipped Missy back into the carrier, gathered our things, and headed to the gate. Once we got there I wanted to do something about the smell coming from her carrier.

cat in carrier by sink with mat being washedI left Panda with our stuff and took Missy to a restroom, where I washed the sherpa mat that sits at the bottom of the carrier. I could see a large stain at the bottom, so the whole thing needed to be rinsed. After washing it with soap and wringing it dry as best I could, I went to all the restrooms I could find to see if there was a hand dryer. Unfortunately, they all relied on paper towels and I didn’t want to waste any more of those (I’d used many sheets trying to pat the lining dry). Back at the gate, I asked Panda to see if the men’s restrooms might have a dryer and he eventually came back with just a slightly dripping wet mat that he’d put through a Dyson Airblade. He got two stacks of paper towels, one to put underneath the sherpa and one to put on top. The nice thing about that material is that even though the bottom was still quite wet, the fluffy top part was practically dry so it was actually pretty comfortable for Missy to use again.

cat face through mesh web of carrier cat sitting in carrier for plane ride united in-cabin pet ticket receipt

cat face peeking out of carrier on plane

Peekaboo!

I’m pretty sure that Missy managed to pee once more at some point after that, but oh well. The smell wasn’t too strong and I really could only tell when I had my nose right up to the carrier. Soon, we boarded the plane and held her carrier on my lap until we were pushing back from the gate. When I went to put her under the seat in front of me, I discovered that there are these annoying plastic boxes that take up a good 2-3 inches, so there was no way the carrier could fit length-wise. I had to put it parallel to my legs, with only the back half under the seat. The seat was also so low it was pushing down the walls of the carrier. I think because we were in Economy Plus, they gave less foot room there because there’s more leg room (most people wouldn’t notice that part so long as their knees aren’t squished).

cat sleeping snugly on lap of person on planeThroughout the ride, I kept leaning over to check in on Missy. I let her head pop out a few times and I pet and scratched her to make sure she got attention. After the beverage service, I left a little water at the bottom of my cup and tried to give it to her, but she wasn’t interested. Later in the trip, she kept trying to break out, so I let her crawl on my lap for a little bit. She was shivering like crazy, whether cold or stressed or both. I then delivered her back to her carrier for the remainder of the trip and checked in on her when we landed. A couple of times she meowed super loud, but the people around me didn’t seem to notice or care. Overall she was great though, and patiently sat in the carrier without a peep.

 

cat exiting carrier after plane ride

Yay, home!

So based on what I’ve learned, here are some tips:

Make sure you buy your pet ticket ahead of time and ask the attendant at the check-in counter to print the receipt for you (keep it handy, they’ll want to see it when you board).

Get a travel-approved pet carrier (soft sides, appropriate size, sturdy – and that sherpa lining on the bottom can be quite useful!).

Book a window seat so you can place the carrier on the ground without bothering other passengers and blocking their way out of their seat.

Either make sure your pet goes to the bathroom the morning of the trip (if possible) or try to use a plastic hard carrier for the first leg of the trip so accidents are easier to clean. Of course if you can’t leave the carrier with whoever’s driving you or you don’t have free checked luggage, you might just have to deal with a dirty carrier.

Try to bring a blanket to help cover the sides of the carrier if it’s going to be cold or you don’t want your pet stressed by everything outside.

Prepare some plastic bags if you need to clean up poop and bring old towels you can swap out in the carrier.

Wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty and smelly. Use a jacket that is a tougher material if your pet has claws and might try to kick you with them (that way it doesn’t hurt and it’s easier to wrangle her back to the carrier after security).

 

Have you traveled with a pet before? What would you recommend for air travel, especially for cats?

How to train a crab

laelene Posted in how to guides, lifestyle glimpses, photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
0

I’ve been playing with a variety of crabs of late and it’s fascinating. They’re rather smart creatures and I can almost swear they understand me. I’ve definitely stared into the eyes of some and felt like they could communicate with me. Maybe that’s just how their eyes look, but if you’ve ever tried to stare down a crab you might know what I mean. Sometimes their cunning is shocking. I’ve had them figure out how to climb up and out of cups, planning their escape. I’ve had them (somewhat) calmly crawl on me and learn that I’ll keep picking them up every time they try to leave. I’ve even had them working in teams to try to reach higher out of their temporary home in my cup.

tower of hermit crabs climbing on top of each other

The leaning tower of crabs. Smaller ones love to hitch a ride on larger ones!

clump of hermit crabs crawling on each other climbing up side of paper cup

Hitching a ride or using teamwork to escape?

line of hermit crabs crawling up side of paper cup

One by one, they learn from each other and crawl out.

It all started with some hermit crabs. It was the first day I got to go to the beach by the hotel (Turtle Bay Resort). I went wandering and eventually found a way to get to the beach I’d seen from the breakfast table. At first it was just tons and tons of snails on the rocks. I picked a bunch and was just enjoying the day playing around in the water with them when I noticed much faster movement. It was a hermit crab scuttling by! Once I knew what to look for, it was game over. I spotted so many that I had caught at least 30-something and there was no room in my cup. So I started to take pictures and release them. After all, what I really want are some close-up images of these cool creatures.

hermit crab staring at person holding it in fingers

If you just hold them, they’ll come out and look at you.

The next day, I went to the other side of the resort to check out what else I could find. It turned out to be a gold mine for other crabs. The land ones move far too fast to ever be caught, but the water ones have a tendency to hide and blend with the rocks. Since these rock formations have plenty of pools, it provided an easy microcosm to focus on. I was determined to get a “normal” crab (the kind that walks side to side). I succeeded with that eventually and got a crab that was almost too big for my cup! Now my goal is to get one of those burrowing crabs, which are a lot harder since they’ve got plenty of open beach to run across and even more sand they can dig below to escape.

crab hiding against rock and blending in

The crabs blend in quite well with the rocks!

crab hiding against rock and person pointing finger near it

I see yoooou.

ghost crab in hawaii sitting at entrance of tunnel in sand

My next challenge awaits.

So, how to train a crab:

1. Figure out where they hang out and go sit/squat nearby.

2. Stay still and watch for a bit. Look for an area they’re hiding where it’s enclosed enough for you to chase it.

3. Choose one that isn’t too large (no bigger than your pinky is probably best) and use a clear cup to get close to it. If we’re talking hermit crabs then just pick them up.

4. It takes a bit of back and forth to trick them into running into the cup area or falling into it as they scurry around. Just be careful and use one hand to guide them towards the cup.

5. Once caught, make sure you provide a decently comfortable environment, whether it’s just having enough sea water and not making it too warm or you need some rocks so the crab can sit out of the water too.

6. Keep it in the cup for awhile. Let it calm down and get used to this strange new environment.

7. After the crab is no longer desperately attempting to crawl out of the cup, you can stick your hand in and see if it’ll let you brush it. Move your finger around to guide it where you want to (that’s how I taught a crab that it actually could climb up the cup – of course then it wouldn’t stop climbing up the wall after that).

8. Before you know it, the crab will be totally fine with you touching it and might even crawl around on you! Beware, it’s definitely trying to escape though. If you’re good you’ll get some moments of peace where you can actually stare into its eyes, make that eye contact, and ponder its thoughts.

baby crab sitting on hand with ocean in background

Spending some quality time with my baby pet.

holding crab on hand smiling at it

Another one of my trainees, just chillin’ on my hand.

How to: set keyboard shortcuts

laelene Posted in how to guides,Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
0

Save time by setting your own personalized keyboard shortcuts on your iDevice! If you type a lot on your Apple device, there are probably certain words and phrases that you input all the time. In my case, I kept meaning to set up a shortcut for my email address so I don’t have to fill it out each time. This also helps prevents any typing errors I might have.

To set your own, go to Settings>General and scroll down to Keyboard. At the bottom are shortcuts and some might have been created for you already (like “omw” becoming “On my way”). Tap “Add New Shortcut…” to create custom ones.
The first line, Phrase, is what you want to be filled in when you use the shortcut.
The second line, Shortcut, is what you want to type to trigger the replacement.

screenshot of area in iphone settings to create keyboard shortcut

In my example, you can see that I’ve set “mq” to automatically expand into my full email address: mary@maryqin.com. Saves me so much effort! If you want the replacement to happen, just add punctuation or a space after you type the shortcut and the phrase will automatically appear. If you don’t want the replacement, keep typing letters to form a different word or press the gray “x” next to the replacement phrase as shown.

using keyboard shortcut in action on iphone

Easy! And now you can prevent excessive time being spent typing the same things over and over. 🙂

How to store your lightning charger

laelene Posted in how to guides,Tags: , , , , , ,
0

For awhile, I’d given up on using the charging cable for my iPhone 5. It started to come apart and I had to tape it at the end near the lightning head. It would only work at certain angles and I had to either hold it in place or very delicately position it with the phone on a surface. So, I bought another charger from a third party, which I loved. Unfortunately, it wore down over time too and stopped working recently. I started using my Apple-made cable again, but it was always a precarious situation and I could never be sure my phone was charging.

Finally, this weekend I was talking to Panda about it and he mentioned the possibility of getting it replaced. I figured I have nothing to lose, might as well try, right? So while his brother was in town, all three of us went out to the mall and found a guy at the Apple store. When I showed him my cable, he started to tell me about how normal wear and tear is not covered on the warranty and since mine was all taped up, he couldn’t replace it. He said he personally goes through them all the time (um, that’s not saying anything good about your product…) and then he shared some tips on how to preserve your lightning charger and minimize wear on it:

1. Always ensure the cable is straight when plugged in, both on the end plugging into your device and on the USB end. The connection to those areas are the weakest, and consistent bending causes them to rip.

2. Make sure you pull the cable from the firm plastic head and not the actual cable. This will reduce strain on the cable.

3. Never loop your cable a few times to store it, since this bends the ends. Instead, fold it over twice, then loosely knot that, as shown in the picture. This keeps the ends from bending, once again protecting the weakest points.

example of recommended way to store lightning charger cable as shown by apple store rep

Did you know this is a better way to store your cable?

Now this is all fine and dandy, but why didn’t they explain it to me when I got my device? It’s kind of too late now. Panda’s brother immediately asked to speak to the manager and as we explained to him how the tips were helpful (but way too late), I suggested that this is the type of thing they as an organization can educate us on when we buy a device. Panda asked whether the fact that my issue is not covered in the warranty was outlined, so the manager pulled up the agreement and looked for where it said that. It was pretty ambiguous with language about normal wear and tear (which means what, exactly?) and he must have been in a helpful mood, because he decided to replace my cable *this one time* (they always say that).

Luckily, some persistence (and getting to the right person who could actually make an executive decision), a peppering of questions, and a polite but disappointed demeanor seemed to do the trick for us. I got my new cable, no other questions asked, and now I am better educated on how to take care of it. Hopefully, you’ve now learned something that will help you from damaging your cables too!

How to Apply for a Chinese Visa

laelene Posted in how to guides,Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
1

What a ride it’s been applying for my visa to go to China! I watched as time after time, people were turned away because they didn’t have everything they needed for the application. It seems that the law changed in the past couple of years, so those who had been getting visas to China for over 20 years suddenly found themselves no longer meeting the requirements for the application (on their first try anyway). I don’t think a single person who was there for the first time had a successful experience. So, to help you avoid a similar fate, here’s what I learned to make your visa application process as painless as possible.

Short on time? Skip right to the tips list.

First and foremost, PREPARE thoroughly.

When I first saw the extensive forms of visas, I had no clue which one I wanted and I didn’t pay much attention to the requirements. After all, I’d done it plenty of times before so how hard could it be? Oh no, how naive I was. First of all, you have to fill out the form ahead of time. There are no longer forms at the embassy – my first big mistake. Luckily, there is a well-situated travel agency upstairs from the visa office in DC (what a smart move on their part), so I went there and paid $10 to fill out my form on a computer and print it out. Avoid those mistakes and download a copy and print it yourself.

sign and entrance to chinese embassy visa office in washington dcAll applicants are going to want to have a photo copy of their passport ID pages (for the office to keep once they return your passport to you), previous visa(s) to China if this is not your first, and a copy of your itinerary (proof that you will leave the country within an appropriate time period). If you’re like me and just got a new passport, you’ll want to bring copies of your old passport and visas that you had in there. If you’re getting a special visa that lasts beyond the typical maximum of 12 months, there are other documents to provide. This usually includes a signed letter from a Chinese native/resident or company, inviting you to the country and explaining the purpose of your visit.

Plan for at least 40-60 minutes at the visa office

Don’t forget to bring all your documentation! When you arrive, you’ll almost always find a dozen or more people in line to submit their application and it’s a painfully slow process. After all, they have to be thorough in reviewing your application. They also often have to explain exactly what is missing from an application so people can get it right the second time. And inevitably, there are those frustrated people who spent hours getting to the office only to find out they have to make another trek, so they vent and sometimes demand managers.

Wait patiently for 3-4 business days, then pick up your visa

chinese embassy visa office windows for payment and pick upWhen you leave after submitting your application, you’ll get a receipt – hang on to it! It lists the date your visa will be ready and if you don’t get a call by that time, it means your visa should be ready with no issues. Picking up the visa is pretty quick, thankfully. Go first to the payment window and they’ll process your payment. All visas cost the same, no matter the length of validity and they’re currently at $140 for US citizens. I paid by credit card and then took my receipts over the to pick up window when the lady returned. She located my passport and showed me the page with the visa on it. I checked to make sure it was accurate – correct personal information, appropriate expiration date (two years from now, woo hoo!), and actually in my passport.

chinese visa payment window with receipt slip and stamp

Payment time.

passports in boxes ready for pick up after getting chinese visa

Boxes of passports.

So here’s a recap of the main points:

Download the application and bring it filled out along with a 2×2 photo attached (no more copies offered at the visa office)

Bring
-photo copy of passport
-copy of old passport (if recently outdated)
-copies of previous visas (if you’ve had any before)
-copy of travel itinerary (if already booked)
-invitation letter with name, ID number, and address of inviter (Chinese citizen or resident) – also include your name and passport number as invitee
-copy of front and back of ID of inviter

Apply at least 5 business days prior to intended travel (but preferably closer to 8-10 days in case there are issues)

When picking up your visa, bring form of payment (credit card is fine) and receipt slip

Did I forget anything? Do you have any lessons learned to share?

How to: Configure Touchpad Edge Swipe Gestures

laelene Posted in how to guides,Tags: , , , , , , , ,
0

If you’re on Windows 8 with a touchpad that has edge swiping gestures, you might be itching to deactivate that annoying left side swipe. I’ve been using my new laptop for a few weeks and I inadvertently switch between apps whenever my finger accidentally swipes from the left side of the touchpad inward. I couldn’t find how to make it stop, so I scoured my settings until I figured it out.

1. Swipe in on the right side to access the charm bar (the menu bar on the right side of the screen). You can also hover the mouse over either corner on the right side of your screen to get it to appear.

2. Click on Settings (last icon).

3. Click “Change PC Settings” text at the very bottom.

4. In the General section, find the App Switching subsection.

pc settings section to enable and disable left edge swipe

5. Turn off “When I swipe in the from the left edge, switch directly to my most recent app” to disable that edge swipe. Now when you swipe from the left, you’ll get the menu of apps on the left.

6. To take it a step further, turn off “Allow switching between recent apps” and there will be nothing when you do a left edge swipe.

That’s it! Simple enough, but they sure make it hard to find. I searched through touchpad and driver settings for ages before stumbling across the PC settings page. Hope that helps you too. Happy swiping. 🙂

How to: win free stuff

laelene Posted in how to guides,Tags: , , , ,
2

how to: win free stuff -maryqin.com

Honestly, when it comes to winning stuff, it pretty much boils down to a numbers game. Enter enough and you’ll start winning. But if you’re interested in a few other tips, here’s what I’ve found help me with winning more:

Find blog giveaways

When I set my mind to winning a Conscious Box, I did a search of giveaways online and found a bunch. I entered every single one I could find and I ended up winning two 3-month subscriptions! Similarly, I really wanted to win an Escape Monthly box and I did the same thing, also winning two different giveaways. Pretty awesome! Generally there are only hundreds of entries to contend with from these giveaways, versus hundreds of thousands for stuff being given away directly by brands. Of course you’re limited to items of more average value – you won’t really find cars and other big ticket items.

Befriend bloggers

If you find that certain bloggers seem to get or give all the things you want, it doesn’t hurt to make a friend. Start commenting on their posts and share your genuine interest. If they happen to know you loved something they reviewed or have access to, they might just think of you when they get a chance to share. Building great relationships can always open doors to opportunities. Just be careful not to cozy up to these people for the sole purpose of getting stuff. That sort of insincerity is not a good foundation for a friendship.

Promote yourself

If you’ve entered a giveaway, sharing it on your social media or even reaching out directly to the giveaway organizer can capture their attention. It could simply be sharing your excitement for the giveaway and thanking them. I’m amazed at how many people would only say something if there’s something to complain about. Giveaways are a nice thing and nobody ever said these people or organizations had to arrange them. Taking the time to thank them can go a long way.

Try consistently

When it comes to larger giveaways especially, the best thing you can do is enter as much as is allowed. Many allow multiple ways of entering or daily entries. Set up reminders so you can enter the max amount to improve your chances. I have a success rate of about 1-3% on things I enter, so if you haven’t entered at least 100 giveaways then I doubt you’ve set yourself up to win. Keep trying!

Think positively

If you approach things from a good perspective, you’re more likely to do things that enhance your chances of winning, like promoting yourself and befriending people who’d give you stuff. It’s also just nice to put out that positive energy into the world. If you want to be a guaranteed winner, try hosting a giveaway of your own – making someone else’s day is a surefire way to feel fabulous. 🙂

Have you won things? What do you find help with your chances of winning?

8 tips for buying a new car

laelene Posted in how to guides,Tags: , , , ,
3

Alright, I started to mention some things soon after I got my Kia, but I wanted to put together a more cohesive list of recommendations if you’re in the market to buy a car. One of these days I’ll discuss the decision to lease versus purchase, but for now if you know you want to buy, here are some things that may help:

8 tips for buying a new car graphic

1. Do your research

This is probably a given, but just in case, I’m including it. Spend time using the various resources online to find out which models you might want and once you have it narrowed down, go for some test drives. Between getting the features you want and having a car that feels good for your driving preferences, you can probably narrow it down. Then you can really hone in on what price you could get it at, using sites like Kelley Blue Book. Your goal is to get at or below the Fair Purchase Price.

2. Take your time

Salespeople will forever be trying to get you to jump on offers pronto, since they want to get that sale in the bag. If they don’t get you now, who knows what might happen – they may never get you as a customer. Don’t let them pressure you into deals you’re not comfortable with. The best way to ensure you’re prepared for this brings me to my next point…

3. Time your purchase

First of all, try to give yourself 2-3 weeks leeway from when you start looking to when you’d actually want/need the car. That way you aren’t in a rush and can go back to dealerships over the course of a few weekends (assuming you can’t make it on weekdays). Secondly, if you know way ahead of time you’ll be getting a car down the road, try to do it as the current year’s models are being phased out and the next year’s are coming in. Dealerships will be much more willing to give you deals on the models that are on their way out. Third, start looking towards the beginning of a month. Many promotions generally end at the end of a month, so this will give you time to browse and still take advantage of offers.

4. Take advantage of promotional offers

There are generally a variety of promotions going on at any given time, so be sure to ask about those and find which ones you qualify for. Even if you don’t, if someone in your family does and is willing to be a co-signer, that’s a great way to save hundreds if not a couple thousand right off the bat. I did this with Panda, who qualified for two promos (recent grad and competitive vehicle). If it was just me… well, I would have had to pay another $1400.

5. Try multiple dealerships

If you live/work within a reasonable distance of multiple dealerships, try visiting them all. I ended up purchasing from the second dealership I went to because it gave me a better vibe and my salesperson seemed to really want to give me a good experience. Plus, you can use it as a way to find a better deal by comparing the different offers you get at each. If you plan on getting all future maintenance with your dealership, you might want to go to the closest one, but if you’re the type to take your car to a smaller local shop, then a further dealer won’t make much difference (and if their service or price is better, it could be worth it).

6. Negotiate the overall rate

Now I’m not sure if all dealers do this, but since all I cared about was the total price I’d pay, including all taxes and fees, the finance guy quoted me a number and he stuck to it. That way, there are no surprises. So if you can, try to get them to commit to the number with everything factored in. After all, what you get for the car may be what you wanted, but then with the freight charge, processing fee, taxes, and who knows what else, you may end up paying thousands more than you anticipated. Watch out for those extra charges and try to negotiate the absolute max that you’d pay all-inclusive.

7. Ask for freebies

A nice way to get some small things you may have wanted buy didn’t want to buy is to use that for bargaining in your negotiation. If they’re at a price you like, try saying you’d sign the paperwork now if they threw in a charging cable, or upgraded floor mats, or what have you. Then you save yourself a few meals’ worth while feeling great about the fun bonuses you got.

8. Get financing with 0% interest

If you can pay for your car over the course of 5 years without incurring a higher price, why not? It frees you up to do other things with your money. Of course, the sales price might be higher if you get this, but it’s most likely you’ll save in the long run compared to if you got a 1.9% or whatever the going rate is now. Make sure to calculate that and know whether it’s worth it. This is assuming you need financing… if you can just pay it upfront then more power to you.

What else would you advise someone on the market for a new car? Have you gotten a great deal before?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...