The Opening to Romeo and Juliet

Gregory, on my word, we’ll not carry coals.

That’s how Act One, Scene One of Romeo and Juliet begins. In the opening scene, Sampson and Gregory, of the house of Capulet, appear on stage with swords and bucklers.

Gregory then replies to Sampson:

No, for then we should be colliers.

For the longest time, I ignored these two lines. They are just warm-ups to the play, after all. I wonder if Shakespeare was thinking about key principles of design in his introduction to the play. Or maybe he just wanted the audience to shut up, comply, and pay attention to the play once it started.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about what they mean. I did a little research and, “to carry coals,” at the time of Shakespeare, meant, “to submit to insult or humiliation.”

“Colliers” is a reference to people who are notable both for being dirty or grimy, and dishonest.

It’s a little bit of a pun or a play on words on Gregory’s part. Colliers would be both dirty and grimy from the act of literally carrying coals, but also dishonest if they submitted themselves to unnecessary insults or humiliation.

See, Shakespeare was a very clever writer. And these are just the first two lines of the play!




Silly Plot Ideas to Share

Just a collection of silly plot ideas to share. Some of these could work as short stories, poems, or even full-length novels. Or perhaps they can inspire creative off-shoots that are a little less silly and weird.

  • An angry monster accidentally discovers an assortment of fruits and vegetables by creating ordinary household appliances.
  • A funny time traveler must aid the city with a lost treasure.
  • A sinister plant being disguises as an important person and swallows a lost city.
  • An ordinary monkey accidentally saves a monster from under the bed and gets a harlequin suit.
  • A geeky inventor accidentally discovers the ghost army and finds a pair of pointy shoes.
  • An annoying dinosaur loses the king and finds natural abilities.
  • An attractive astronomer and a witty waitperson begin bonding over a common interest.
  • A chance meeting with a charming historian leads to something more.
  • Time travel hi-jinks bring together a witty teacher and a cute florist.
  • A bitter rivalry threatens the romantic bliss of our lovers!
  • The lead character starts to see a cute plumber in a new light.
  • A bitter rivalry threatens the romantic bliss of our lovers!
  • It’s revealed that a major character is pregnant!
  • Unusual circumstances bring together a fun-loving athlete and a charming sailor.
  • The magic in the air turns out to be more than figurative!
  • A skinny man decides to destroy the queen with the help of a parade balloon
  • A cynical robotic teen shrinks a mysterious power with the help of an alien.
  • An ordinary time traveler gains control of martial arts and discovers an alien prince.

Four Key Principles of Design

These are just a few well-known fundamental principles of design that apply to anyone who creates anything. Even if you don’t consider yourself a “designer.”

Pareto’s Law

Also known as the 80/20 rule, it essentially states that a high percentage of effects in any large system is created by a low percentage of variables.

It was first proposed by the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed that eighty percent of the wealth in Italy was held by twenty percent of the population.

Applying the 80/20 rule to design has less to do with the actual percentages and more to do with the core concept: focus on the relatively small percentage of features that are critical, and apply most of the resources towards those features.


The principle of affordance simply states that the physical characteristics of a thing influence its function and use.

For example, if you had a very long pole or stick, it’s size and shape would make it well suited for poking at things at a small distance. Likewise, a large and heavy boulder would be useless for that task, but would be excellent for holding things down or for dropping on your enemies.

Ockham’s Razor

The principle of Ockham’s Razor is that simplicity should always be favored in design. Given the choice of two functionally equivalent designs, the simpler one should always be preferred.

It is named after William of Ockham, a fourteenth century friar who was known for applying this principle to much of his work.

In design, applying Ockham’s Razor implies that you must always strive to eliminate or reduce unnecessary components and features in your work.


Things become more desirable when they are in short supply or occur infrequently.

Not only are scarce items more valued than plentiful items, but scarcity motivates people to act.

The effect is enhanced when the scarce object or opportunity is unique, and not easily obtained or approximated by alternate means.

Scarcity is used commonly in advertising and marketing to encourage people to take action. Think of “exclusive,” “limited time only,” and “sale ends soon.”

We Comply with Folks We Enjoy

It’s simple for some folks to make us enjoy them.

Generally, we are generally more compliant toward folks we enjoy, and wily compliance professionals understand which variables make us enjoy someone.

One factor is physical attractiveness. It generates a so called halo effect, meaning that we often see people that are attractive as clever, kind and fair. Worryingly, we even often vote for more attractive candidates in political elections!

We tend to enjoy individuals who are similar to ourselves in a way and ’re also suckers for flattery. That is why salespeople claim some link to us or our background and frequently compliment us: “That’s a fine tie, blue is my favorite too!”

An especially powerful factor in enjoying someone is working for a few shared aim (“being on the same team”). The ill-famed good cop/bad cop interrogation process applies this factor to a terrific extent: after a defendant is verbally abused by the bad cop, the sort and understanding good policeman stands up for the defendant, seeming in the manner of a buddy and trusted confidante and consequently frequently evoking a confession.

Finally, the things we associate with individuals are extremely important for likeability. Weathermen, for example, have gotten death threats for accurately forecasting poor weather, mainly since they’re correlated with that. On the flip side, while eating tasty food, if we learn about something, we have a tendency to associate the matter in question with the favorable feelings aroused by the food.

To protect ourselves against exploitation that is likeability, we must ask ourselves whether we have come to enjoy someone or something extraordinarily strongly in a brief time. This might be due to some form of exploitation, if so.

We comply with folks we like, and it is not difficult for some people to make us like them.

Making the Choice to Fight for Something

From tribes in Africa to school fraternities in the USA, when a brand new member is being inducted into a bunch, initiation rituals generally involve pain and degradation, sometimes even resulting in death. Attempts to curb the barbarous practices consistently encounter with dogged opposition. Why?

Quite simply, the groups understand that if people go by way of a lot of trouble to achieve something, they often value it more once they attain it. The effort creates more devotion to the group.

But groups like school fraternities also have resisted attempts to transform their initiations into some kind of (slightly disgusting) community service, like changing bed pans at hospitals. This is simply because they want members to make the choice that is internal to participate in the degradation and not make excuses like, “This was for the benefit of the community,” which would allow them to use an external justification for his or her behavior. Studies have shown that such internal picks are somewhat more likely to make lasting internal change when compared with choices made on account of outside pressure.

Compliance professionals attempt to generate such internal change in us, using the lowball trick, as an example: A car dealer might make such an astoundingly cheap offer on a vehicle that we promptly decide to buy it. The vendor knows full-well that, during the test drive, we’ll subsequently alone assemble several other justifications to buy the automobile besides the purchase price like, “good mpg” and “handling that is fine.”

At the very last minute, the first amazing offer is retracted due to a “bank mistake, a more costly option” is given. Typically, we end up buying the car due to internal change.

Making a choice to fight for something generates internal change.

We’re Obsessed with Consistency in Words and Actions

When people on a seashore observed a staged larceny of a radio from a nearby towel, only 20 percent reacted; but if whoever owns the towel first asked individuals to “please view my things,” 95 percent of them became near-vigilantes, chasing down the thief and powerfully grabbing back the radio. Their desire to be consistent in what they’d said trumped their concern for personal safety.

However, what orders consistency? The answer is simple: dedication. Research implies that once we commit to something with words or actions, we wish to not be inconsistent with it; and public dedication is the most powerful driver of all. A juror in a court of law, for example, is extremely unlikely to change her view once she has openly said it.

We even alter our very own self-image to be consistent with our earlier actions.

For example, Chinese interrogators got American prisoners to collaborate after the Korean War by asking them to make very small concessions such as signing and writing statements that were innocuous like “America isn’t perfect.” His compatriots frequently labeled the prisoner a “collaborator” when these statements were read across the prison camp.

The prisoner subsequently started to find himself as a collaborator too, thus becoming more helpful to the Chinese. He efficiently adjusted his self-image to not be inconsistent with what he’d done. In writing, having the commitment was also an important component in this process; there is something inescapably powerful in written words signed by oneself.

This broadly known foot in the door technique takes advantage of how even little obligations affect our self-image and is very favored by salesmen who frequently secure substantial purchases by getting customers to first make little obligations that change their self-image before a more substantial deal is offered.

We are near-obsessed with being and appearing consistent in our words and actions.

Tips for VLC

I know I usually stick to writing about writing, but lately I’ve been watching a lot of video online, and I would like to share some tips and tricks for my favorite video tool — VLC.

Before I begin, you can download VLC and give it a whirl no matter what your platform.

Now let’s get on with the tips.

Convert Media Files

Did you know which you can use VLC to convert your media files into an extensive variety of formats? The program lets you choose just how you’d like to convert them or you can simply use a preset that is specified.

To begin, visit Media > Convert / Save, add a file and click Convert / Save. From here you’ll pick the codec that is desired to convert to.

VLC Media Player on Mac

Play/Download Online Videos

You could use VLC to play and download on-line videos. It is possible to use the full package of tools to control video playback or save them for later play.

To begin an online video, visit Media > Open Network Stream. Press theNetwork tablature, input the URL of the video and click Play. To save it, instead ofPlay, choose Convert.

Record A Currently Playing Video/Sound

If you want to record and capture a snippet of a video that you’re playing, VLC has an option to do that. To enable this attribute, on the menu bar, click View > Advanced Controls. Extra buttons will appear on the program. While playing a media file, click the Record button to begin recording. Press again to quit.

While audio will go to your own Music folder recordings will be saved in the Videos folder for videos,. On the Mac version, visit the menu bar and click Playback > Record or use the shortcut Cmd Alt R.

Record Background

VLC has the capacity to record a video of your desktop, acting as a screen recorder. To enable desktop recording, go to Media > Convert / Save. Head to the Capture Device tab and on the Capture style drop down menu, select Background. Select your frame rate for the capture and click Convert under Desirable frame rate / Save. Finally choose the address and click Begin and your codec. To stop recording, click the Stop button.

Record Webcam

It’s possible for you to record a video in VLC using the webcam. Head to Media > Open Capture Device and pick DirectShow from the Capture style drop menu. From where it’s going to capture from here you’ll choose the audio and video device. Click Play and VLC will stream from your webcam. Use VLC’s ability to record currently playing with video and you have yourself a webcam recorder.


Are you aware it is possible to use your DVD’s to rip into your computer? It’s a straightforward method to create an archive of your DVD’s for a way or back-up purposes to view them when you may not have access to the physical disc.

Head to Media > Convert / Save and click on the Cd tab. Under Cd Selection, click check No disc menu and on the radio button of the media disc you happen to be using. Make sure the chosen Disk device is correct and click Convert / Save. Select the codec you want to save in and save it with the extension that is certainly not incompatible with your codec.

Remote Control VLC From A Browser

There is an alternative available to use a web browser as a simple remote control for VLC. This is incredibly useful when running VLC on a media center PC, as it is possible to control it using your mobile phone or a laptop.

To enable this feature, go to Tools > Setting, and click the radio box Allunder Show settings. Then go to Interface > Main Interface and tick the Webcheck carton. Then, under Interface > Main > Lua, set the Lua HTTP Password. Remote control through the browser should now be enabled.

To examine this, in your browser with VLC installed, go to localhost:8080. It’ll require the password and once given, it should show a remote control interface. You’ll need to find the IP address of your apparatus’s browser to use this on another device. Add the address in your device’s browser with :8080 appended to it, for example Your device has become a straightforward VLC remote.

Video And Audio Effects

VLC gives you a multitude of tools that enables you to manipulate the video and audio of any specified media. To see the tools available, visit Tools > Adjustments and Effects. From here, you’ll see tabs that contain the A/V manipulation tools. On the video side, you are able to correct colors, crop, rotate video, add filters, etc. With audio, you get the typical equalizers to tune your music.

Subscribe To Podcast

In case you are trying to find a podcast subscription program that is very easy, VLC can fill that need. You’re able to use the program to subscribe to your own favorite video and audio podcast and view them all within the program.

There is aPodcast option to subscribe to some podcast, got to the Playlist sidebar, under Internet. Hover your mouse cursor and a will appear. Click on it and add the RSS for the podcast. On the Mac version, visit the Podcast option and press Subscribe to add the RSS URL.

Play Internet Radio

VLC supplies Internet Radio channels on its Playlist sidebar for you yourself to browse and search for radio stations that are on-line. If the supplied stations don’t interest you, you’re able to play your favorite channel by getting the station’s URL and opening it using Media > Open Network Stream.

Video Wallpaper

Ever desired to have a video playing as your desktop wallpaper? That is a straightforward method to toggle this using VLC. Go to Tools > Setting. Click Video and under the Output drop down box, select DirectX (DirectDraw) video output. Save and restart VLC. The next time you play with a video, an option will appear under Video on the right-click menu to play as a Set as Wallpaper. Select it and the video will then begin playing as your desktop background.

Add Watermarks On Video

You are able to add your own watermarks on a video through VLC, bypassing a dependence on a dedicated video editor to accomplish that. Do remember however that you will need to use VLC’s recording feature to save the video .

To begin, go to Tools > Effects and Filters. Click the Video Effects tab and under the Overlay tab, you will receive alternatives to add in your symbol or a simple text.

Play Video As ASCII Characters

For a little bit of enjoyable, VLC allows you to display a video all in ACSII characters. To enable this fun feature, go to Tools > Setting and click on Video. Under theOutput drop down box, choose Color ASCII art video output. Your video will be shown completely in ACSII. Now attempt watching ‘The Matrix.

Play Media Found In Archive Files

If you’ve a ZIP or RAR file which has a media file, it is possible to play them within VLC without extracting them. Just open them with VLC and it is going to play with the files contained within all.

Merely open the first part of the archive making sure all the files are within exactly the same place if the file is broken up into bits. This really is a great suggestion when you don’t want to waste space decompressing the video.

Scrobble To

Should you be a significant user, you can scrobble the music you play through VLC. To enable it, got to Tools > Setting. On the Show settings radio box, click All. Click on Interface > Control interfaces and tick the check box forSubmission of played tunes to Then, under Interface > Control interfaces > Audioscrobbler, input in your credentials.

Take A Photo

Ever need certainly to take a shot of a video you are seeing? VLC has a method to do this. Simply use the shotcut Shift S on Windows and Linux or Cmd Alt S on OS X. The image will be saved in your OS’s various pictures folder.

Bookmark A Video

You can bookmark a component of a video that you could return to it later on, if you feel like replaying a certain part of a video. To bookmark a video, go to Playback > Custom Bookmarks > Manage. The Edit Bookmarks window will pop up. When at a section of a video you’d like to bookmark press the Create button.

Add Subtitles

In case a video you’ve doesn’t come with subtitles, you’ll be able to add your own by finding an SRT subtitle file for the video and adding in it. To add the subtitle, play with your video and visit Subtitle on the menu bar and click Add Subtitle File. It uses the exact same file name as the video file if you want VLC to play it mechanically, set the SRT file in exactly the same folder as the video and make certain.

Double Or Slow Down The Playback Speed

This attribute is very useful when a media file chiefly for the content, such as podcast, audiobooks, recorded lectures, etc. are being watched by you To begin, press ] to fast forward by 0.1x for each press. To slow down it, press [ instead. On the Mac, there is a slider to control playback speed, located in Playback.

Extensions And Plugins

Similar to Firefox, you’ll be able to expand the functionality and look of your VLC player. There are an assortment of extensions and skins to be found on the VideoLAN site. Have a look and see what appeals to you.

Some of the extensions permit you to mechanically get subtitles, lyrics to tunes, also as information on the performers, among other things. Skins, there are many available that are certain to meet your taste and on the other hand, permit you to change the look of your media player.

When Opportunities Become Rare

When opportunities become rare, we want them more.

A strong influence in our decision making is not abundance: if their availability is restricted, chances are noticed as more valuable. This appears to be due to the fact folks loathe losing chances, which will be well known is apparent within their use of “For a small time only!” and by advertisers “Last opportunity!” “Sale finishes in two days!”

A study revealed that when participants were told on meat of a small-time sale, they purchased three times more than if there is no time limit. When folks were told that merely a select few knew about the sale, this effect was compounded. The lack of both the advice as well as the offer itself made shoppers purchase six times more meat than customers oblivious of the time limit!

Lack becomes a strong sway under two states: We often need something more if its availability has decreased lately than if it has not been high all along. For this reason revolutions often occur when living conditions deteriorate dramatically rather than when they have been low. The abrupt fall increases want is ’sed by folks for something better, so actions is taken by them.

Second, our hearts racing is consistently set by opposition. Whether in love stories auctions or real estate deals, thinking of losing something to a competitor frequently turns us from unwilling to overzealous. This is the reason, to buyers, realtors frequently mention for instance that several other bidders will also be enthusiastic about a house that is given, whether accurate or not.

To counter the eagerness that originates from lack, we have to always consider whether we need the thing in question due to the use to us (by way of example, its flavor or function), or simply due to an irrational wish to possess it. The solution will usually function as latter when deficiency is used against us.

Writing Amazing Sentences and Paragraphs

Amazing sentences are clean , sharp, musical and rhythmic.

Why is a sentence wonderful? That’s no simple question to answer. Though there are not any hard and fast rules for phrasing that is excellent, we are able to inquire examples to find some common characteristics. A few of the very beautiful sentences may also be the most straightforward, using just the words they must speak powerfully together with the reader.

Note that despite the level of info it’s not overcrowded. Is he suicidal? And what’s the scenario with this particular devastating quake?

Great sentences have their very own music and tempo at the same time as being clear. This strikingly is illustrated by Joyce’s writing. Where one of his relatives is entombed consider the final sentence in the short story The Dead, in which a character leaves a celebration in Dublin and heads into a snow-covered graveyard:

Paragraphs enable the reader to respire

Let’s picture you’re a detective. Rather than only a detective with any assignment that is old. Where can you try to find hints? Word pick? Phrasing? Punctuation, perhaps?

Well, the most effective hint will be located in none of those! The most revealing aspect of a person’s writing style is the manner that they paragraph. “A smart guy might disguise every component of his style but one – the paragraphing.” as the detective says Paragraphs, it appears, tend to be more significant than you’d first anticipate – they’re a fabulous tool for creating emphasis. But how?

Well, in paragraphs, pressure is put on closing few words and the initial few. Paragraphs are highly individualized because we distinct, with distinct notions of what’s worth emphasizing. There are no hard and fast rules. But we are able to use a couple of guidelines to take advantage of paragraph power.

Nobody loves to pick on their way through long paragraphs that are exhaustingly. By breaking these paragraphs, help your reader focus! A sequence of brief paragraphs can be quite diverting.

Well, it can help to see paragraphing as some sort of respiring that is literary.

Paragraphs can be visualized as shots in a movie, which can be French novelist Stendhal would make use of them, if this analogy doesn’t work for you personally. He starts using a bird’s eye view, and zooms in with each new paragraph as he introduces a tiny French town as the setting because of his novel, The Red and the Black.

The finest narrators

Every story might be told from views that were innumerable. But while narratives from a brick in the wall of a household house or the perspective of an animal might result in fascinating stylistic experiments, first- and third person narration stay the most famous and flexible alternatives.

Both of these narrative styles each has its strengths and challenges. Once you’ve determined on his outlook, your narrator along with a tone that represents it, it’s up to you personally to work through these lenses.

If you’re composing through a first person narrator, you must get the reader intrigued by her character. This doesn’t always imply that the narrator must be – that is likable but she’s undoubtedly got to be intriguing enough on your reader to follow her story on the span of the text.

Take the narrator of his ill-famed work Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov’s character Humbert Humbert. Humbert is obsessed having a young girl, and someone you likely wouldn’t desire to hang around with in actual life.

Lo-lee-ta: the tip. Lo. Lee. Ta.” We trust or mightn’t like Humbert, but we do wish to learn more about the way his unexpected head works.

In the opposite end of the spectrum, we’ve got the third person narrator, a view that understands and sees all. But occasionally, even a third person narrator hints in a character that is interesting.

The unusual mixture of proper and infantile tones employed by the narrator provides the impression of a talented though somewhat kooky kid supporting the narrative: “Christina . . . Took her shoes and stockings off and stayed in a short white chemise. This had not been an incredibly nice sight to behold, her legs were rather fat and because Christina at this time was really heavy.” Unless you’ve of “a disagreeable sight to behold met a kid who whines and wrinkles her nose, this narrative voice that is ” will show rather intriguing really.

Some Great Opening Sentences

Need some inspiration? Here are some wonderful opening sentences to try.

  1. She had heard his excuses before, thousands of times, but this time she was sick of them.
  2. It had been ten minutes since the hospital called, and she didn’t know whether she could live 10 minutes more.
  3. She leaned against the wall sipping at her eggnog wondering how everyone else could enjoy Christmas while all she could do was hope was that there was enough bourbon in the eggnog to knock her out.
  4. Being tied to a chair in a dark room was about as unpleasant as she imagined.

Reject then Retreat

Rejection-then-retreat is a devious strategy because it evokes reciprocation rule of comparison.

So also do we feel obliged to match concessions in discussions as we need to pay back favors. In case a boy scout asks one to obtain a five-dollar raffle ticket, but then escapes to requesting you just purchase a one-dollar sweet, you’re likely to choose the sweet to match his “concession,” not or whether you’re starving.

This is recognized as the rejection-then-retreat strategy, which is astonishingly strong in obtaining compliance. As well as our urge to reciprocate concessions, in addition, it evokes the comparison principle: the difference of the second to the very first is magnified when two things are presented one after the other. Therefore, the example that is sweet in the boy scout appears disproportionately low-cost subsequent to the raffle ticket.

The rejection-then-retreat strategy has even brought down presidents, including in the notorious Watergate scandal: In 1972, the reelection of President Richard Nixon appeared inescapable, yet somehow a guy called G. Gordon Liddy managed to convince the Committee to Re-elect the President (CRP) that they should give him 250,000 dollars to burglarize the offices of the Democratic National Committee.

This is a high-risk endeavor that is preposterously, but Liddy used the rejection-then-retreat strategy. He began by proposing a one-million-dollar scheme including mugging, kidnapping and hookers. Though his later second and third propositions were scandalous and very ill conceived, the CRP believed they’d to give Liddy something” for his concessions. Additionally, in comparison with the original excessive one-million dollar proposition, the 250,000-dollar scheme including “mere” no longer that was burglary seemed that bad. The ensuing scandal, following the burglars were captured, eventually forced Nixon to step down.

Rejection-then-retreat is a devious strategy for the reason that it evokes the rule of comparison as well as reciprocation.