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Bill Clark

3 Best Games for Cultivating Creativity

There has been great debate about possible negative effects of playing video games, just as popular music and TV have sometimes faced condemnation for their influences on the public. However, this has changed in recent years and there is now a more balanced perspective concerning the host of benefits video games offer to players such as enhanced social and cognitive skills and better hand-eye co-ordination.

Studies have revealed that video game players show improved performance in perception, attention, and cognition. There also appears to be a correlation between playing video games and being more creative. Inspired by these revelations we’ve decided to look at the 3 best games for cultivating creativity.


We’ll get the obvious one out of the way first. Minecraft is a basic 8-bit design-building game that has become hugely popular with kids of all ages. Once players pick up the basics of surviving, hunting, growing and building, the game offers a powerful canvas to unleash creativity. There is a large sub-culture of players offering tutorials and tips to create colossal or complex structures and the most creative people have developed large followings. You can build anything from recreations of architectural marvels to rainforests – the only real limitation is your imagination. Not only do players exercise their imagination in Minecraft, but they also hone skills needed to take initial inspirations into finished projects and products. These include creative thinking, critical planning, resource management, priority setting, communication, and teamwork. Minecraft isn’t just a game, it’s a training pitch for tomorrow’s’ creative thinkers.


Tetris is a tile-matching puzzle video game designed and programmed by Russian game designer Alexey Pajitnov. It’s been available on nearly every gaming platform possible and is video game royalty. Although ferociously addictive Tetris is said to have modest health benefits, like helping with cravings control and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder prevention. The game makes our list as it requires quick decisions, on-the-fly planning, and creative thought in order to make progress. Tetris, like Minecraft, is also good for a life lesson or two as this often-retweeted quote states: “If Tetris has taught me anything, it’s that errors pile up and accomplishments disappear.”


Slot machines have always been popular, but not necessarily an experience you would relate with fostering creativity. Yet now all your favorite slots games have moved from the casino floor to bring new and endless variations in online casinos. By combining popular themes from TV shows, movies or popular culture with interactive elements such as video excerpts and mini-games, slots create immersive experiences which boost the imagination. Classic slot machines such as Gladiator even come in 4 different versions at a site like Each game has a different take on what it means to be a gladiator – indeed, one of them refreshes the theme by portraying the 2016 Olympic Champions as modern gladiators. Film-based slots such as Aliens, based on the Riley Scott movie, have developed a traditional slot gameplay in combination with real-time animation and a tense, dark, and brooding atmosphere to create a mesmerizing gaming encounter.

Games purposely created to teach a specific skill like Supercharged have been very successful, precisely because they are motivating, engaging, interactive, and provide rewards and reinforcement to improve. While the three games listed above weren’t specifically designed for these purposes, they are great examples of how a merely entertaining hobby can become a great choice for those in need of a creative uplift.

Secure Web Designs: Finding a Compromise for the Good of the User

Solid web design and security go hand-in-hand. Putting together a flashy looking website that has all the latest features and cross-platform, cross-browser compatibility is great. But if it’s not secure from external attacks then it’s useless. The aim of any website is to attract visitors and offer them some sort of value. However, if a site proves itself to be unfit for purpose and a threat to a user’s personal information, it won’t attract visitors or make any money for its owner. Indeed, the Yahoo! security breach may have put the company’s $4.83 billion buyout by Verizon in jeopardy.

Now, as important as the relationship between web development and security is, it’s not always easy to coordinate the two. On one side of the development equation, designers want the slickest looking site possible with the minimal amount of fuss. On the other, cyber security practitioners want to make sure that nobody can break in.

Trying to Satisfy Polar Opposites

Ensuring every security provision is in place and every piece of code is clean and ready to be reviewed can add weight to a site. Any site that’s bloated by additional features is slower and less ergonomic which is why designers will trim everything as much as possible.
On the other side of the coin, security experts want to ensure every entry point, window and crack is sealed tight and impervious to the malicious elements of the internet. In practice, this often results in a site or application being slightly less streamlined than some would like. But the end goal for any security expert is protecting the user.

These conflicting goals often result in crossed words and crossed wires, but it’s important that everyone is one the same page throughout the design process. One way to ensure this happens is to outline the security risks before the designers start. According to a 2015 survey of 600 custom-built sites, many developers are still failing to eliminate the most commonly exploited vulnerabilities in their code.

Careless Code Can Cost (Virtual) Lives

security-pluginSource code security plugin (CC BY-SA 2.0) by christiaan_008Leaving glaring holes in the foundation raises a number of issues. Indeed, web application security, as defined by Incapsula is the process of protecting a website from “security threat that exploits vulnerabilities in an application’s code.” Common threats such as SQL injections, cross-site scripting, and remote file inclusion can all become a problem if a developer doesn’t take the appropriate web application security measures.

By setting up a dialogue between designers and security experts in the first instance, website owners can work to ensure the code is without fault. However, what if you’re already passed that stage and have found your site is particularly susceptible to SQL injections. As highlighted by the Ponemon Institute, SQL injections were the most common security threat in 2015 thanks to 4 out of 5 application portfolios being vulnerable.

A Way to Stay Secure and Sexy

In situations where the code can’t be easily changed, Web Application Firewalls (WAFs) are advisable. Capable of filtering traffic coming into a web application, WAFs are a viable solution for many website owners because, according to Incapsula, deploying them “doesn’t require making any changes to an application.” By sitting at the edge of a network, a WAF can act as a gateway and filter out (i.e. block) and threats before they get a chance to enter the application and exploit the vulnerable code.

Utilizing this solution is certainly a way to find a compromise between designers and security advisors. Although the best solution would be to ensure a secure design in the first place, retrofitting a WAF would allow designers to make their site look great. Simultaneously, the security team would be happy because any malicious traffic would be stopped on site.

Designers and security experts are always going to clash when it comes to the construction of a site. Fortunately, even if you can’t get them agree, there is a way to ensure a site is protected from security threats out there today.

Why Study for a Liberal Arts Degree?

Anybody considering which major they should pursue will undoubtedly encounter many possibilities and concerns. A lot can influence which particular degree or career path somebody chooses to follow, such as personal interests, a desire for stable employment, personality and areas of expertise. There are millions of people who like to give back, study human nature, communicate effectively and make a difference in the world, whilst some of them became a straight a student. Many of these individuals find themselves pursuing a liberal arts degree. What are some of the reasons you should study for a liberal arts degree? We’ll go over the basics below and help you decide if it’s the right choice for you.

Liberal Arts Broadens Your Horizons

To be successful in the modern world, you will need to have an open mind and understand how to work with other people. Your standard liberal arts college offers degrees in the humanities that require people from different backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs to come together. Likewise, several liberal arts degrees revolve around the study of and interaction with different cultures and customs. These experiences can be fundamentally transformational in how they shape those who experience them. Because of this, many liberal arts majors make for great counselors, writers, communicators and creative thinkers.

Liberal Arts Prepares You for the Workforce

There has been criticism of liberal arts lately – due in large part to the drop in those seeking a liberal arts degree – but the fact is that this area of study prepares you for employment in many ways. Employers consistently state that they expect employees to have a variety of skill-sets. Among those are the ability to use critical thinking to solve problems, the ability to effectively communicate with team members, and an understanding of how to absorb information. These skills are core components of any liberal arts education and can make you more marketable as a prospective employee when coupled with a solid resume and professional demeanor.

Liberal Arts Keeps a Love for Life Alive

There are countless professions in which you could find yourself. Depending on your passions, you may love or hate your job. Many career paths are not “passion jobs”; in other words, they do not inspire faith, hope, optimism or otherwise make people excited to get to work each day. Many jobs you’ll find with a liberal arts degree keep the fire of life raging into old age, as they inspire passion and creativity. Whether you embark on a career in creative writing, journalism, art, communications or something entirely different, liberal arts often puts you in a place where avoiding repetition is not a desire, but an inevitable reality. You’ll find new ways to keep the passion alive in your line of work because you are always being exposed to new ideas and concepts.

Liberal arts provides a window into a different world, where the human condition is often front and center. Many people find this field of study appealing for that reason alone, but liberal arts can also properly prepare you for any future job, inspire a love for life not found in many other professions and makes you a more well-rounded person.

Featured Image: John Towner

Starting a Photography Business: Here’s What You Need

Are you a keen photographer who wants to turn your hobby into a business? If so, you have to approach this type of venture seriously and consider all of the factors that will determine how successful your new photography business becomes. Below are some of the main things you need when you are starting a photography business.

Invest in the Right Equipment and Accessories

You may have all the skills required to become a top photographer. However, in this field the equipment you use is vital. This is why you need to invest in the best possible camera you can afford for the type of photography work you will be doing. You also need to have the appropriate lenses and other accessories such as tripods, green screens and other important items that will make your life easier and allow you to capture much better images.

The Appropriate Computer, Software and Digital Storage

Digital technologies have changed the way most photographers approach their profession. Thanks to today’s advanced computers, software systems and digital storage devices supplied by companies like, it’s much easier to store and retrieve your work. You can capture, store and edit many more photos easily and you have fewer restrictions when you are doing your work.

Advertising Materials

Traditional marketing materials like business cards, brochures and flyers are still extremely effective ways to advertise to local clients. Your profession is a visual one, so it’s vital that all of these materials look the part and portray you and your business in the best possible light.

Website, Blog and Social Media Accounts

You can take your advertising a step further and start promoting your business online. The fact that you are an expert in photography puts you at a distinct advantage because you can provide high quality, unique images for all of your online advertising activities.

To start with, you need a website and blog. This lets you describe your services to an online audience and a blog is a perfect place to show off your latest work and portfolio. To reach an even bigger audience, you should then create accounts on the main social media websites where you can post about your latest work and develop relationships with your potential customers.

Hire an Accountant

When you start a photography business, it’s no longer a hobby and you have to approach your new venture in a more professional way. Taking control of your finances from the start will help you avoid many problems later. Speak to an accountant and ask them for advice on the best ways to maintain a healthy cash flow, ask them how to deal with your taxes and get advice about any other financial obligations you will have to meet when your company is up and running.

When you take the plunge and decide to start a photography business you need to treat it like a business from day one. The best way to do this is to make sure all of the things mentioned above are addressed and in place.

Featured Image: Jay Wennington

Why Accessibility and Usability is Crucial to Online Study Platforms

Online learning is a big deal these days, with many great educational establishments offering all kinds of resources to let people pick up new skills, practice existing ones, or even gain major qualifications by studying online. Whether it’s a full online business degree, a fun way to practice foreign language skills, or a revision tool for students, however, these kinds of resources all share the same significant needs for good accessibility and usability in their design, and good testing to ensure they deliver it.

Why Is Accessibility So Important for Online Learning Sites?

Accessibility has always been important on the web, however for some resources and services it is absolutely essential. While a business may lose out if its site isn’t user-friendly, or people with disabilities are unable to use it, for some sites there are far bigger problems if users are not able to properly understand, see or take in the information, and educational sites fall into this category. As an example, while online video can be a great way to show how to do something, it is limited because it requires the user to both have sound and be able to hear. For a deaf person or someone who simply doesn’t have speakers or headphones, a video is far from useful if all of the info is spoken, so they need a transcript or subtitles. However, for a blind person, the video may also not be useful even with sound, so they may need an alternative that describes what is happening. If you are selling something then you may not mind losing out on this part of the audience, but when you are providing learning resources, it is a different matter.

What About Usability?

Accessibility affects more people than you might think, but usability affects everyone. A site that is hard to navigate or confusing, or which doesn’t work properly on a certain type of device, is a major frustration, and when people are trying to learn new skills or even take something like an online business degree, they shouldn’t have to be concerned with figuring out how to use the site or tools for hours before actually being able to study. Good usability in design, and good usability test strategies, then, are critical.

Making Usability and Accessibility Priorities

When online learning sites want to win over more people, whether as casual users of a learning tool like an app to help develop language skills or as fully fledged students of things like online business programs, they need to put these two highly connected areas at a high priority in their design and QA. Only by having sites that are easy to use and don’t limit people with disabilities or technology limitations can these sites succeed in their missions to make education easier to obtain for everyone.

With that in mind, if you work in online education or are interested in online study design, keep accessibility and usability at the forefront of your mind!

Featured image: Steinar La Engeland

Why Get a College Education After Leaving the Military?

Whether you have spent several years actively serving your country or have simply completed one ‘tour of duty,’ you may have a few problems returning to civilian life. If so, don’t feel alone because it is one of the most common issues facing service men and women and has been so for as long as there has been a military – which is forever! If you didn’t get a degree while active, maybe this is something you could do upon arriving home.

Going to college has a number of benefits, especially when you are trying to readjust to the civilian lifestyle. If you haven’t thought of going to college after the military, you might want to consider a few of these benefits and how that degree can help you prepare for the future.

Do You Have an Employable Skill Set?

The first thing you may want to consider is whether or not you have an employable skill set. Most men and women sign on to active duty fresh out of high school and so the only real skills they have were taught during basic training. Few people leaving the military need to be a munitions expert, for example, and so it becomes necessary to find a vocation you can be good at and will earn a decent wage for you and your family.

What Do You Want to Do with the Rest of Your Life?

Many times service men and women spend their days imagining what they will do when they get out of the military. Some already have their minds made up while others still aren’t quite sure what they’d like to do. Others may not yet be ready to attend on-campus classes because they are suffering from PTSD or are working a full-time job. Attending college online is an option and if you don’t know what you’d like to major in, a military friendly online college has student advisors and counselors on staff to help you discover what it is you’d like to do. This is a great reason to get a college education after leaving the military – doing something you want to do rather than being ‘ordered’ to do it by higher ranking officers. Pursuing higher education will give you the opportunity for a total career change. While a degree in a subject like biology, English or business will open a myriad of opportunities, something like a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education may be preferable as it will set you on a clear path.

Taking Advantage of Government Funding

One of the biggest reasons to get a college education after leaving the military rather than before volunteering is in the fact that military men and women are eligible for financial aid not available to those who haven’t served. Military financial aid is often part of the enlistment ‘package’ and even if not, the government rewards the military by offering student loans at a very, very low-interest rate. This type of aid is not available to those who haven’t served so funding is one of the leading reasons why so many young men and women wait to attend college until after they return home.

As time goes on and the world becomes an increasingly hi-tech, it is almost certain that you will need some type of degree to be competitive in the workforce. You can choose to study online if you have a full-time job or you can attend classes. Either way, that degree is going to give you a skill set that makes you employable. Why get a college education after leaving the military? To get a good job with a future, of course!