How to train myself to sleep less?

by Yang Yang on February 19, 2014

Someone asked a question:

I have been trying to reduce how long I sleep so that I have more waking hours available. I have read this question, and this one but it does not really give an answer.

My question is whether I can train my body to sleep less. I currently have about 6.5 to 7 hours sleep per night. If I reduce that to 6 hours every night for the next two months, and then down to 5.5 hours then onward, will my body get adjusted to the new sleep pattern?

When I was 22 and just graduated from college I had the same idea as you do now. As a workaholic who’s passionate about his work (software development) and very determined about his goal, I would keep working until late night and get up very early. The average sleep I got was about 5 hours per day, EVERYDAY, for 5 years, even on weekends. There’s always so much that I could do to make my projects better thus making more money.

For the first few years it was all good and rewarding because I was young and I had the power and energy to keep it going, even on very stressful times. But eventually I started noticing changes with regards to my body:

  1. I started going to doctors more often than my peers.
  2. My vision started to deteriorate, albeit slightly.
  3. I started losing hair.
  4. I started to forget stuff which shouldn’t be an issue before.
  5. Last but the most important, when you sleep less for very long time, eventually you’ll actually sleep less because it takes longer for you to fall asleep and you easily wake up.

So for a short answer, yes you can train your body to sleep less, but do make sure it’s not very long as to years so you can easily recover. It may not be obvious but sleeping less than you body needs DOES undermine your health. However the amount of sleep everybody needs may vary because we are designed differently in genes.

For a long answer, no, sleeping less wouldn’t let you get more things done in the long term. Everything has a price. It’s actually against productivity rather than for it. When I look back how I went through these years in retrospect, I could have not pushed myself that hard but still accomplish the same results. Productivity is about getting the most out of time rather than getting the most time. Lots of people have got plenty of time in their life, even more than they need, still they blow it. In fact, when I was in college, some of the top performing students actually sleep more than the average.

So sleep as much as you want. Time enjoyed is NOT wasted. Sleep is beautiful. Don’t waste it for some stupid things that you need done!

The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
Let others follow it who can!
Let them a journey new begin,
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.

–The Return of the King, Book VI, Chapter 6

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Now that Google Apps closed sign-up for free plans, lots of people are looking for alternatives to Gmail for their own domains. Actually they don’t need to.

You can simply add other domains to your existing Google Apps account as separate domains to set up emails such as user@separate-domain.com. The separate domain emails perform exactly like those of the primary domain, with all the good stuff of Gmail, except you can’t do these things with a separate domain.

To add a separate domain to your existing Google Apps account, just login in the admin console and click “Domains” (click “More controls” if not visible) => click “Add a domain or a domain alias” => select “Add another domain” => enter the domain name => “Continue and verify domain ownership”.

After the routines of verifying ownership and setting up MX records, you can go ahead and add users / emails to the separate domain.

In most cases, you don’t need to find a Google Apps alternative this way, unless you hit the maximum number of users per account.

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The Rise of Web Bots

by Yang Yang on December 23, 2013

Just gave a read to this article: http://www.sitepoint.com/rise-web-bots-fall-human-traffic/

Very intriguing.

The Internet is developing just like how the other industries are. Traditional industries try to make products out of the raw materials provided by nature, while Internet is trying to reach targeted information / answers by organizing raw data everywhere. That’s exactly what Google and their bots are doing. People prefer data / information that’s more consumable (quick and easily understood) than raw ones. In this sense, companies who organize and present data / information better than the others would have the consumers’ favor; on the other hand, companies that provide only raw data will be hit more by bots (middle men in the supply chain) and less and less by humans (end consumers).

  • Raw data => structured data => raw information => targeted information
  • Iron ore => refined steel => vehicle framework => Tesla Model S

The more usable, the higher in the supply chain, the more end consumers they get.

This is probably a good starting point for business endeavors. While we can’t beat Google but there are many specific niches that we can probably do better than them. On the Internet, money is about organizing and refining data / information.

Go ahead and organize data so you get something new and easier to understand, and you will make money.

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How Does Your Brand Measure Up?

by Yang Yang on September 17, 2013

Did you read the recent Yahoo finance news article about 2013’s Top 10 Best Brands and Worst Brands in America? A company called “CoreBrand” conducts an annual survey to determine the most and least respected corporate brands based on the company’s “Familiarity and Favorability data.” This goes beyond the most well known, the most heavily advertised or the highest profit making companies. This measures people’s perceptions of a company’s trustworthiness and respect among consumers. Most of these major brands have an international presence, but the survey results are based on American sentiments.

According to the study results released August 20, these are the 2013 Top 10 Most Respected Brands:

  1. PepsiCo and Coca-Cola (tied)
  2. Hershey’s
  3. Harley-Davidson
  4. Bayer
  5. Johnson & Johnson
  6. Kellogg’s
  7. Campbell’s Soup Company
  8. Colgate-Palmolive
  9. Estee Lauder

And, according to the same study, these are the Top 10 Least Respected Brands in 2013:

  1. Delta
  2. Philip Morris
  3. H&R Block
  4. Denny’s
  5. Big Lots
  6. Best Buy
  7. J.C. Penney
  8. Capital One
  9. Rite Aid
  10. Foot Locker

Some of these results may surprise you, as your own personal experience with an individual company may have been excellent and you consider yourself a loyal customer. In some cases, you might have issues with their competition or there is no convenient alternative, so you must use their products or services regardless of whether you like the company or not.

The point is, if you are a business in today’s world and your customers were to be asked how satisfied they are with your products or services, how would your brand measure up? Most people want to believe that every customer is happy and consider complaints to be a reflection on the disgruntled customer themselves, not something that the company has actually done wrong or needs improvement. A smart manager realizes that a complaint is an opportunity to not only make things right for the customer, but a warning flag that something in your operations is not delivering up to expectations and needs to be fixed.

In my post about Amazon’s affiliate program, I mentioned how easy it is to earn money as an affiliate with Amazon because:

  1. Amazon itself is a globally recognized brand with a good reputation
  2. Amazon carries popular brands already familiar to people and rarely has products returned
  3. Although Amazon started out selling books, they have evolved and grown into a company that sells just about anything

Not only does Amazon do an excellent job of meeting each customer’s needs, they are constantly asking for reviews and have top notch customer service. Even if the product you sold didn’t meet your customer’s expectation, if you handle complaints well, in most cases you can keep that customer’s respect and rebuild their trust.

Safeguard all that hard work building your business and creating a brand. If your customer service is lacking, people no longer hesitate to take their complaints to the internet and warn their friends on sites like Facebook, YELP, TripAdvisor.com and Angie’s List. Bad reviews do scare away new business and cost you customers. Brand.com reviews the best ways to optimize search listings and protect brands for small business as well as large corporations.

The U.S. government’s Small Business Administration also has some excellent advice about managing a company’s online reputation and other business issues. Even companies that do not have a web site must be concerned with their online reputation and monitor the most popular sites regularly to protect their brand from negative reviews in directories and social media.

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PayPal IPN payment_status

by Yang Yang on September 11, 2013

We use the payment_status value in PayPal IPN to determine the outcome of a transaction. There are 6 possible values according to the transaction logs of one of my websites, out of a total of 1132 occurences:

  • Completed – 884
  • Reversed – 100
  • Refunded – 67
  • Canceled_Reversal – 66
  • Pending – 13
  • Denied – 2

For those who are new to PayPal IPN:

  • Completed = You got the money and you can ship the goods.
  • Reversed = The payment was reversed by the other party (NOT you) and you lost the money! e.g. A chargeback.
  • Refunded = The money was refunded to the buyer (probably by you).
  • Canceled_Reversal = The money was again returned to you after it was reversed previously.
  • Pending = You haven’t got the money yet but you probably will after fraud review was done by PayPal or after the eCheck clears.
  • Denied = PayPal denies a payment because god knows why and you don’t get the money.

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I bought 2 extensions from Iceberg Commerce for my dresses and gowns store Princessly over a year ago to enhance the URLs of the tags with regards to SEO:

  1. Magento tags SEO URLs
  2. Admin can add tags to products in editor

They were both very easy to install and use. Only I needed a few modifications to the SEO-friendly tags extension so I reached out to Raman who has created them. This is something Raman didn’t have to do for me because it’s beyond what the product was designed for. I thought he’d ignore my message and he had every right to do so. However, Raman turned out to be an extremely nice person and helped me all the way through to get my custom requirements done.

That was over 1 year ago.

Just yesterday I again asked him for help regarding a minor error the extension is spitting out and he’s doing everything he could to get my problem solved. After exchanging 20 or so email messages, he got it again.

I just thought someone like him, avidly supporting an ordinary customer (I only spent about $70), over 1 year after the sale, deserves a dedicated post here.

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Taobao, Tmall, KavoirIf you have solid products and wants to sell to China audience, let us know. We have a very capable team currently running 2 big brands on Taobao.com (for small merchants) and Tmall.com (for medium to large merchants), the largest online marketplaces in China thus far, with an annual sales volume over 1,000 billion CNY, or 200 billion USD.

With CNY appreciating and a widespread distrust of domestic goods, Chinese consumers are seeking overseas alternatives for a better spend, even more expensive, especially from western countries where products are considered greener and better for human body.

Listed below are some of our successful brands on Taobao.com and Tmall.com we’ve been running. We can do the same to yours and make you successful in China. Contact us.

Pandabobo - http://pandabobo.tmall.com

A merchant that we are fully responsible for the branding and marketing on Tmall.com. It currently tops over 2,000,000 CNY (approx. $350,000 USD per month) sales per month by selling a variety of fruits, nuts and natural snacks.

Pandabobo has also got a full-fledged standalone web store of at Pandabobo.com which is completely localized and catered to China audience. We can also help you build one of your own should you want to extend your local presence in China. However the most online sales in China are always made via top eCommerce marketplaces such as Taobao.com or Tmall.com rather than standalone websites because China consumers tend to have more faith in bigger brands / companies thus more likely to spend money there.

Check out one of their best selling products. This single product has had nearly 3,000 sales in the last 30 days.

pandabobo tmall sales

KanS - http://kans.tmall.com

KanS sales stats on kans.tmall.comThe store of a local cosmetics brand based from Shanghai that is raking in 4,767,423 CNY, or $800,000 USD, per month. We make the major part of their marketing team and are responsible for sales channels development and online marketing.

kans @ tmall

Contact Us

Interested in our expertise and talent to be successful in China? We would love to team with you to bring good products to the Chinese audience. Contact us by the form here: http://www.formkid.com/f/kavoir/contact-kavoir-com/

And make sure to include as much information about your business, brand, and products as possible – stores, website, sales volume, pictures, etc.

Our Team

Li Zhiwei, Chen Shuang, Zhang Xiaofeng, Zhao Yang, Yang Yang, and some more. Pictures are coming! ;)

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To avoid this annoying behavior of Firefox that redirects http://localhost to http://www.localhost.com when you are developing on the localhost, try one or more of the following tips:

  1. Use other browsers such as IE or Chrome.
  2. Use “127.0.0.1” instead of “localhost”.
  3. Make sure http://localhost is correctly configured and responding.
  4. Make sure C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts has and only has “127.0.0.1    localhost“. Comment out “::1    localhost” which is for IPv6.
  5. Disable Firefox web address automatic alternate fixup: 1) about:config, 2) browser.fixup.alternate.enabled = false
  6. You can also disable IPv6 in Firefox or even disable IPv6 entirely at OS level but it’s not recommended. How? Search for yourself!
  7. Should you be debugging PHP, include these at the top of your code to make sure PHP gives the error for you to erase the underlying problem:
    ini_set('display_errors','On');
    ini_set('error_reporting',E_ALL);
    ini_set('max_execution_time', 180);
    ini_set('memory_limit','1024MB' );

I would prefer 2 and 5.

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Sometimes the text files are very large and you don’t want to load it in memory before searching through it because it’s inefficient. You just want to get the last few bytes of the file because the latest additions / updates are there.

This would help you:

$fp = fopen('somefile.txt', 'r');
fseek($fp, -50, SEEK_END); // It needs to be negative
$data = fgets($fp, 51);

Which gets the last 50 bytes of the file somefile.txt in $data. Thanks to niels for the solution.

Make sure the 2nd parameter for fgets() is 1 more than the absolute value of the 2nd parameter for fseek().

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