Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How to Calculate Your Car's Fuel Efficiency (MPG)

As gas prices rise, fuel efficiency is becoming more and more of a critical factor. Knowing your car's MPG (that is, how many miles it gets per gallon) can help you determine if it's is a gas guzzler that's eating up your wallet as well. Once you figure out the MPG, you can do many useful things, like calculate how much a GH₵.10 rise in gas prices will affect your budget, or how getting a car with better MPG will lower your monthly costs.

1. Go to the gas station and fill up the fuel tank.

Take note of the price you pay

2. Record the mileage, before even pulling away from the pump.

We will call this Mileage A.

3. Drive normally until the tank is less than half full.

4. Fill up the tank again (preferably at the same station using the same pump as pumps may be calibrated differently).

This time, pay attention to how many gallons it takes to fill up the tank. This is usually shown at the pump.

5. Record the mileage again, just like before.

We will call this Mileage B.

6. Subtract Mileage A from Mileage B.

This will give you the number of miles you drove since your last fill-up.

7. Divide your answer by the number of gallons it took to fill up your tank.

This will give you your car's MPG.


  • The vast majority of cars will be equipped with a trip odometer - this is a gauge that counts mileage and can be reset. This gauge is in addition to the regular odometer, which counts the number of miles a car is driven overall. One can use this to count mileage. Divide the total miles run on a full tank of fuel by the capacity of the fuel tank to obtain the mileage of the car.
  • The higher the MPG, the more efficient your car is, and the cheaper it'll be to keep it fueled.
  • To determine how a change in gas prices will affect your budget, take the number of miles you expect to drive in a week (or a month, or a year) and divide it by your MPG. Then multiply that answer by the price of gas per gallon. By plugging in different prices, you'll see how much more - or less - you end up paying per week (or per month, or per year).
  • Try calculating your MPG more than once to get a more accurate measurement. If you did more highway driving than normal, then your MPG will be a little higher. On the flip side, if you did a little extra city (stop and go) driving, your MPG will be lower.
  • You can use the MPG to experiment with ways to increase fuel efficiency. For example, if you normally drive at an average of 70 MPH, then after calculating your MPG, try driving at 55 MPH and measure your MPG again - you'll probably see it go up.


  • Mileage will vary with different driving patterns, the less braking and acceleration will lead to better mileage. You will see higher mileage when taking highway trips than you will after a week of driving back and forth to work on city streets.
  • In other countries, the equivalent is in kilometres per liter (km/l). In the United Kingdom, fuel is sold by the liter but fuel consumption is given in miles per gallon. Thus liters per 100 kilometres is used alongside miles per imperial gallon. However, in the United Kingdom, fuel efficiency is very hard to calculate, because of their 1965 metrication, and is ongoing for 45 years already. Britain is notable for having the 45 year muddle with Imperial (English/US) and metric measurement.

How to Calculate Your Car's Fuel Efficiency (MPG)

As gas prices rise, fuel efficiency is becoming more and more of a critical factor. Knowing your car's MPG (that is, how many miles it gets per gallon) can help you determine if it's is a gas guzzler that's eating up your wallet as well. Once you figure out the MPG, you can do many useful things, like calculate how much a GH₵.10 rise in gas prices will affect your budget, or how getting a car with better MPG will lower your monthly costs.

1. Go to the gas station and fill up the fuel tank.

Take note of the price you pay

2. Record the mileage, before even pulling away from the pump.

We will call this Mileage A.

3. Drive normally until the tank is less than half full.

4. Fill up the tank again (preferably at the same station using the same pump as pumps may be calibrated differently).

This time, pay attention to how many gallons it takes to fill up the tank. This is usually shown at the pump.

5. Record the mileage again, just like before.

We will call this Mileage B.

6. Subtract Mileage A from Mileage B.

This will give you the number of miles you drove since your last fill-up.

7. Divide your answer by the number of gallons it took to fill up your tank.

This will give you your car's MPG.

Monday, June 21, 2010

5 things you may not know you can do with attachments in Gmail

The more I use Google Docs, the less I have to deal with sending attachments back and forth. While attachments' days may be waning, they're still very much a part of most people's email experience. Here are five things you may not know you can do with Gmail to make sending, receiving, viewing, and finding attachments easier:

1. Drag attachments in
Simply drag files from your desktop right into the message you're composing and they'll upload from there. (Make sure you're using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox 3.6 for this to work.)

2. Select multiple attachments
Attaching multiple files one by one is no fun. Instead, just multi-select the files you want to attach by holding down the Ctrl key (or Command on a Mac) and clicking on each file you want to attach. Holding down the Shift key will select a continuous list of files.

3. Never forget an attachment again
Gmail looks for phrases in your email that suggest you meant to attach a file (things like "I've attached" or "see attachment") and warns you if it looks like you forgot to do so. Every day, this saves tons of people the embarrassment of having to send a follow up email with the file actually attached.

4. View attachments online
When you receive an attachment, sometimes you just want to view it and there's no need to download or save to your desktop. The Google Docs viewer allows you to view .pdf, .ppt, and .tiff files in your browser. Just click the "View" link at the bottom of the message.

5. Find that long lost attachment via search
If you're looking for an attachment someone has sent to you, Gmail's advanced search operators can help you find what you're looking for quickly and accurately.
A couple examples:

  • To find all messages that contain attachments: has:attachment
  • To find all messages from your friend David that contain attachments: from:david has:attachment
  • To find all messages that have .pdf attachments: has:attachment pdf
  • To find a specific attachment named physicshomework.txt: filename:physicshomework.txt

Monday, June 14, 2010

Avoid the Top 10 Resume Mistakes

By Peter Vogt, Monster Senior Contributing Writer

It's deceptively easy to make mistakes on your resume and exceptionally difficult to repair the damage once an employer gets it. So prevention is critical, especially if you've never written one before. Here are the most common pitfalls and how you can avoid them.

1. Typos and Grammatical Errors

Your resume needs to be grammatically perfect. If it isn't, employers will read between the lines and draw not-so-flattering conclusions about you, like: "This person can't write," or "This person obviously doesn't care."

2. Lack of Specifics

Employers need to understand what you've done and accomplished. For example:

A. Worked with employees in a restaurant setting.
B. Recruited, hired, trained and supervised more than 20 employees in a restaurant with $2 million in annual sales.

Both of these phrases could describe the same person, but the details and specifics in example B will more likely grab an employer's attention.

3. Attempting One Size Fits All

Whenever you try to develop a one-size-fits-all resume to send to all employers, you almost always end up with something employers will toss in the recycle bin. Employers want you to write a resume specifically for them. They expect you to clearly show how and why you fit the position in a specific organization.

4. Highlighting Duties Instead of Accomplishments

It's easy to slip into a mode where you simply start listing job duties on your resume. For example:

  • Attended group meetings and recorded minutes.
  • Worked with children in a day-care setting.
  • Updated departmental files.

Employers, however, don't care so much about what you've done as what you've accomplished in your various activities. They're looking for statements more like these:

  • Used laptop computer to record weekly meeting minutes and compiled them in a Microsoft Word-based file for future organizational reference.
  • Developed three daily activities for preschool-age children and prepared them for a 10-minute holiday program performance.
  • Reorganized 10 years worth of unwieldy files, making them easily accessible to department members.

5. Going on Too Long or Cutting Things Too Short

Despite what you may read or hear, there are no real rules governing the length of your resume. Why? Because human beings, who have different preferences and expectations where resumes are concerned, will be reading it.

That doesn't mean you should start sending out five-page resumes, of course. Generally speaking, you usually need to limit yourself to a maximum of two pages. But don't feel you have to use two pages if one will do. Conversely, don't cut the meat out of your resume simply to make it conform to an arbitrary one-page standard.

6. A Bad Objective

Employers do read your resume's objective statement, but too often they plow through vague pufferies like, "Seeking a challenging position that offers professional growth." Give employers something specific and, more importantly, something that focuses on their needs as well as your own. Example: "A challenging entry-level marketing position that allows me to contribute my skills and experience in fund-raising for nonprofits."

7. No Action Verbs

Avoid using phrases like "responsible for." Instead, use action verbs: "Resolved user questions as part of an IT help desk serving 4,000 students and staff."

8. Leaving Off Important Information

You may be tempted, for example, to eliminate mention of the jobs you've taken to earn extra money for school. Typically, however, the soft skills you've gained from these experiences (e.g., work ethic, time management) are more important to employers than you might think.

9. Visually Too Busy

If your resume is wall-to-wall text featuring five different fonts, it will most likely give the employer a headache. So show your resume to several other people before sending it out. Do they find it visually attractive? If what you have is hard on the eyes, revise.

10. Incorrect Contact Information

I once worked with a student whose resume seemed incredibly strong, but he wasn't getting any bites from employers. So one day, I jokingly asked him if the phone number he'd listed on his resume was correct. It wasn't. Once he changed it, he started getting the calls he'd been expecting. Moral of the story: Double-check even the most minute, taken-for-granted details -- sooner rather than later.

How Long Should Your Résumé Be?

Is one page too short? Are two pages too long?

By Rachel Farrell, CareerBuilder.com writer

Résumés are a subject of great debate in the career world. What to include, what not to include; serif or sans serif font; what color paper; which jobs to highlight? And, more commonly in today's job market, how long should the résumé be? Does it matter?

We asked résumé experts for their take on whether job seekers should use a one- or two-page résumé and why it matters. Here's what they had to say:

The argument: One page

"Many people feel that a longer résumé makes them look more accomplished or important -- not so. Recent college grads and those who have only had one to two jobs don't need more than one page. Avoid excessive spacing to fill up the page as well and instead flesh out your skill sets, even if you think you have none due to little experience." -- Kristen Fischer, author of "Ramen Noodles, Rent and Résumés: An After-College Guide to Life"

"Someone newer to the work force may have a one-page résumé, with a more seasoned employee having two or more. Most experienced employees cannot fit their work history onto one page, and that's fine. What is critical is that the important information stands out: a very brief summary of who you are, what you're looking for, your key accomplishments and strengths, which tells the employer why they should hire you. This should be captured at the beginning of your résumé in the top quarter of the page -- then the employer could quickly scan where you worked and when, along with more details listed under each position." -- Michelle D. Roccia, senior vice president of corporate organizational development from Winter, Wyman

"I personally believe that a one-page résumé, for the most part, is the way to go -- unless you are a very senior executive with a number of accomplishments through your long career. Otherwise, short and focused is better." -- Jim Joseph, author of "The Experience Effect" and president of Lippe Taylor

"Remember the length Golden Rule: You want your résumé to highlight your best attributes, and hiring authorities shouldn't have to search for them on your résumé. For this reason, stick to the one-page rule and carry over to a second page only if your experience warrants it. This will force you to choose only the most important information for your résumé." -- Alexis Lane, résumé writing specialist at Snelling Staffing - The Wyckoff Group

"While I understand that most candidates want a two-page résumé (or longer), I happen to know that employers put the most focus on a candidate's first page. Their attention starts to wane before they even flip the page. Therefore, appropriate and strategic editing is a smart move. Most job seekers find it difficult to be so objective about their lengthy and accomplishment-based history, so here's a good tip to keep in mind: Job seekers have to think of themselves as a product and their résumé their marketing campaign. Any good marketing director knows to focus on their target consumer while creating a marketing campaign, right? Same thing applies here. You aren't writing your résumé for yourself, but rather, for your potential employers." -- Lauren Milligan, résumé expert and job coach at ResuMayday

"A one-page résumé is needed to get you in the door. At the outset of the process, most companies are using software to scan for keywords and subsequently weeding out those who haven't included them. A two-page résumé is necessary once you've gotten in the door and are sitting in front of a human being. That said, it should not be dense. Bullet points are preferable to paragraphs." -- Frances Cole Jones, author of "The Wow Factor: The 33 Things You Must (and Must Not) Do to Guarantee Your Edge in Today's Business World"

"Less is always more when it comes to résumés today, with one page preferable, as overworked HR departments need to process information faster and are mostly using electronic solutions to identify candidates to start with anyway. On top of this, the more experience you put on there, the more dollar signs begin to flash in hiring managers' heads, and they worry about what it's going to cost to acquire such an experienced candidate." -- Scott Steinberg, CEO, lead analyst, TechSavvy Global

"It does matter, but primarily in relation to the quality of the content. Do not try to create a two-page résumé if you really only have related experiences that fill up one page. Using bigger font and wider space margins do not help your cause. Similarly, if you have a long, impressive career of related professional achievements, there is no need to try to shrink it all down onto one page. Having said all of that, do not go longer than three pages. You should be able to be able to present the best of the best in less than three pages, and if you must, you can add a note 'Additional work history provided upon request.'" -- Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs

The argument: Two pages

"A two-page résumé is important. Given the nature of today's job search, applicants are searching via the Internet and using job boards or a company's website as the first touch. HR professionals and recruiters are either sifting through the résumés or résumés are searched automatically via a computer program. The more information you provide, the better your chances for a call back." -- Allison Rapaport, founder of www.hospitaldreamjobs.com

"It is important to remember that whoever will be looking at your résumé will probably be looking at 50-100 others, so first impressions are critical. Like Goldilocks tasting the porridge, a two-page résumé is 'just about right.' A one-page résumé gives the impression that you do not have a lot of experience. Anything more than two pages gives the impression that you are 'all over the place' and simply don't have the ability to focus. Managers want to be reassured that you can zero in on what you need to do and get it done." -- Mario Almonte, managing partner, Herman and Almonte PR

The argument: It doesn't matter

"I am less concerned about a one-page résumé than assuring that a candidate for employment provides the necessary information in a concise, direct manner. It's the qualifications that need to get noticed. Tell the employer what you can do for them. Be concise but keep it to two pages. Grab their attention first and foremost. Design your résumé to bring out what the employer is seeking and align these requirements to your own personal strengths. Don't sell yourself –short -- quite literally." -- Wendy Powell, author of "Management Experience Acquired"

"It really comes down to relevant content. If you have the experience needed to back up the position you're seeking, then you need to share it. If it's more than two pages, then let it flow. If it's just fluff to fill blank paper, limit that fluff to the pertinent information. Experienced hiring managers are very good at identifying fabricated content"-- Joel Rudy, chief operating officer of Photographic Solutions Inc.

"Job seekers focus on the wrong thing when they obsess about whether hiring managers prefer a one- or two-page résumé. Job seekers with great experience, skills, industry connections and attitudes can stop worrying about the one- versus two-page résumé dilemma and be assured that hiring managers are not going to rule out a terrific candidate for sending a two-page résumé instead of a one-page résumé." -- Janet Civitelli, Ph.D., workplace psychologist and founder of career advice website VocationVillage.com

"Your résumé is your introduction to a new company. It says volumes about you before you ever get a chance to and may decide if you get to say anything yourself. One or two pages don't really matter, but two pages in most cases are all you need. Résumés should incorporate both responsibilities and accomplishments, conveyed in specific and measurable form -- how did you make or save your company money?" -- Ira Bershard, Kaye Bassman

"I've seen stacks and stacks of résumés and have strong opinions on how they should be organized and written. As far as number of pages required for a résumé, the idea that everything should fit on one page is dated. Don't leave key experience out just because you're trying to keep it to one page. But do make sure all of the key important experience is on the first page and highlighted appropriately. A good way to accomplish this is by creating a 'career highlights' section at the beginning of your résumé." -- Jenna (Gruhala) Oltersdorf, principal, Snackbox 

"A two-page résumé full of fluff and padding kills interest. Yet a one-page résumé that
leaves out compelling selling points shortchanges both the applicant and the hiring company. The length of your résumé should be determined by how long you can keep the story you're telling compelling. You need to pique enough interest to generate an interview, not hide your strengths in a pile of unimpressive blather and puffery." -- Barry Maher is the author of "Filling the Glass"

"Although I do prefer to see a one-page résumé, it's a mild preference and I definitely think this issue gets overemphasized.  I have hired applicants that submitted a two-page résumé and would do so again in the future.  My best advice is to keep in mind that hiring managers often scan résumés for only 20-30 seconds each.  Because of this, the wording of your bullet points is crucial; they must be succinct and attention-grabbing. Also, consider placing a bulleted list of work accomplishments (from all jobs) at the top of your résumé. This technique is gaining more and more popularity as it can really help to grab the attention of the manager that is scanning the résumés."  -- Kris Alban, director of strategic partnerships, iGrad

The verdict: The length of your résumé will vary based on your experience. If you're a new graduate or you have less experience, keep your résumé to one page. If you're a seasoned employee in the work force, it's OK to have your résumé a little longer.

No matter how many pages you choose to include, make sure to include all of your pertinent career information on the first page -- and in the top portion -- of the document.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Googling Yourself? Not Liking What Comes Up?

Come on - admit it - you've Googled yourself, right?

If so, you're in the majority. Pew Research says 57 percent of adult Internet users now use search engines to find information about themselves, up from 47 percent in 2006.

And you're not the only one checking you out: Employers, landlords, even possible dates may well be at it, too.

But what can you do if you don't like what comes up?

On "The Early Show on Saturday Morning," CNET Senior Editor Dan Ackerman said there are ways to influence the results. He offered pointers on managing your online image.

If you Google yourself and see information that is either negative or personal, how do you get it removed?

Finding information about yourself online, whether it was uploaded by you or someone else, can be very distressing. There are steps you can take to minimize the impact, especially if you think potential employers, landlords, or the like will be Googling you in the near future.

But let's not sugarcoat this - there's really no way to completely erase something once it's online.

Google provides a set of tools for removing URLs from its index, but these are mainly for the owners of those sites who want to replace outdated pages or information.

You can find Google Removal Tools here.

If you're trying to get rid of some photos or blog posts that are on someone else's site, it's generally their call, and you'd have to contact the site owner and ask them to remove whatever it is (but I wouldn't get too optimistic about that happening).

If you do manage to remove any pictures or Web pages you'd prefer to have hidden, Google will note these changes when it next searches that particular site - meaning the information will eventually vanish from the search results on Google. But it would take weeks or months.

To see Google's Guidelines on such matters, click here.

What happens if the other party doesn't remove it?

Keep Online Info Current and Positive

Chances are you're not going to be able to get those ill-advised party photos or blog post comments removed from someone else's site.

Instead, you should focus on making sure there's new, updated, positive information about yourself out there that will, hopefully, come up on a Google search higher up than any older links you'd prefer people not see.

There are companies that can help you with this - such as Brand Yourself or Reputation Defender - they can perform a more detailed search of Google results related to you, see how you rank when people search for various keywords (like, "best electrician in Denver..."), and even build a personalized Web site for you - but these are all things you could do yourself for free, or close to it, if you take the time.

Your goal is to create and keep current your own list of Web pages that pertain to you and, hopefully, these sites will become the top search results that come back when someone Googles you.

How do you create the online presence you want?

Build Your Online Identity with a Google Profile, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook

Start by filling out a Google profile page. You can include a photo, job history, contact info if you want, and link to other profile pages you may have - these Google profile pages are useful, because they rank highly in search engine results.

You can also start, or update if you already have, other Web sites.

Start a Twitter account - it's a good way to maintain an ongoing stream of content relating to you and your interests.

LinkedIn is a social network for business - people mainly use it to post their job history online and connect to people in the same field, or friends at other companies. Think of it as a permanent online resume.

Facebook can be used the same way - we've heard a lot about Facebook privacy issues lately, and while you do have a lot of control over who can see what on Facebook, I still wouldn't post any photos or links I wouldn't want associated with me in polite company. Someone else on your friends list can always copy pictures or posts and repost them elsewhere - so once it's on Facebook, consider it open season for anyone Googling you.

What happens if your name is very common, like John Smith? How will all these profiles help?

Be Easy To Find

I've always recommended that everyone try to get their name as a domain name, like danackerman.com. If you have a common name, this may not be easy, as it's probably already taken - but you can look for easy to remember variations. Like danackerman.net, or dan-ackerman.com, or DanAckermanElectrician.com.

If you don't have any grand plans for a personal Web site, I'd just make that personal domain name a one-page site with your resume, CV, and contact info. That's easy to set up through either the domain name registrar you buy the domain name from, or through a free blogging service such as TypePad or WordPress.

You can also consider a Google Me button from Vizibility. They will help you create a personalized Google search results. You can put a button on your online profile page or in your e-mail that brings up those results in a Web browser. It will also alert you when your search results change. And it's free!

How important is it to put your personal details online? Can you just use your Google profile?

Keep All Profiles Identical and Linked

Once you have your LinkedIn, Facebook, personal Web site, etc., it's important to make sure these sites are updated with new information - if you change jobs, for example. I'd also make sure the information on them all matches up - you don't want a potential employer to see job histories with different dates or job titles on your different Web pages. You should also link from each of these pages to the others - so someone on Facebook can click through to your LinkedIn profile for more detailed resume info, for example. This will also help each of these pages rank better in Google.

How much privacy can you maintain?

While there are a lot of privacy tools in Facebook, Twitter, etc., it's good to be overly cautious. Just assume that if it's online, someone could find it, perhaps even accidentally. If you don't want it to show up in the New York Times, or during a job interview, don't upload it.

One often overlooked, but very important note: We're all used to speaking in Internet shorthand, with texting and instant messages, but go over all your Web content with a fine-toothed comb for spelling, grammar, and general readability. There's nothing worse than seeing spelling mistakes in an online profile if you're considering someone for a job - you may only have a few seconds to make an initial impression on someone online, so make sure it's a good impression.

Friday, June 4, 2010

5 Workplace Rules That Are Made to Be Bent

There are certain pieces of workplace advice -- show up to work on time and avoid gossiping about your boss or co-workers, for example -- that are never debated. No one will argue against them, and it's necessary to follow them to advance your career. Other rules, however, are more flexible. In fact, you may even benefit from breaking, or at least bending, them. For example, here are five rules that aren't as unbreakable as you might assume:

Workplace rule No. 1: The more hours you put in, the further you'll go
It seems logical that if you spend more time working, you'll enjoy greater career success. But this isn't always the case. Logging more time doesn't necessarily mean you're more productive or turning out better quality work. In fact, spending an excessive amount of time in the office could be a sign you're not working as efficiently as you could be. Are your long hours the result of poor organization or focusing on tasks that are not the highest priority?

Also be aware of the possibility of burnout. Putting in extra hours on occasion is usually not a problem, but making it a habit can lead to significant stress, decreased morale and even health problems. If you find you're constantly treading water, speak to your boss about delegating some of your assignments or bringing in additional help to give you a hand.

Workplace rule No. 2: Take on new assignments whenever you can
Volunteering for additional projects is one of the best ways to build new skills and position yourself for advancement. But biting off more than you can chew can lead to burnout. In addition, volunteering for projects that you are ill-prepared for or unable to handle could set you back. In short, never overpromise and under deliver. Be strategic about the roles you ask to take on. Do you have the knowledge, skills and experience to successfully complete them? Or will you soon find yourself in over your head? Although you want to stretch your abilities when you can, don't volunteer to organize a large sales tour if the full extent of your event planning experience includes arranging a group lunch and birthday celebration.

Workplace rule No. 3: When you're offered a promotion, take it
During your annual performance review, your boss thanks you for your hard work and contributions to the firm, letting you know she'd like to promote you as recognition for your effort. Although a more impressive title and better pay sound appealing, you should consider the other aspects involved in moving up the ranks before accepting the offer. Do the responsibilities interest you? If you assume a management-level role, for instance, you may not be able to do as much of the hands-on work you enjoy, instead spending your time securing resources, making sure projects move forward and resolving workplace conflicts. Also consider your work/life balance. If the new position requires longer hours or frequent travel, for example, are you willing to make the necessary adjustments to your personal life?

Workplace rule No. 4: Focus on impressing those above you
Your manager has the greatest effect on your career success. He or she not only determines the types of assignments you are given but also can go to bat for you when opportunities to advance arise. But your supervisor isn't the only person who has a say in your success. Don't underestimate how important your relationships with peers can be. When faced with a tight deadline on an important project, help from a colleague could mean the difference between successfully completing the work or not. And the executive assistant in another department could grant you hard-to-get access to a high-level manager when you need resources from his team. So make a point to foster relationships with those at all levels of the organization.

Workplace rule No. 5: Don't be the office chatterbox
You certainly don't want a reputation as the office gossip, but spending a little time each day connecting with colleagues is beneficial. Getting to know your co-workers on a personal level can strengthen your relationships with them. Just be sure your interactions are in moderation; if your chats are interfering with your productivity or interrupting those around you, cut back on them.