Technology

Microsoft Office Alternative

5 Microsoft Office Alternative Packages You Can Use For Free

 

Microsoft Office alternative software packages are in high demand even though Microsoft Office is the market leader and industry standard suite of applications for business.

Microsoft Office has been the mainstay of businesses around the world for decades and the king of integrated applications has yet to be dethroned for everything from word processing to spreadsheets, presentations, database management, email and desktop publishing.

However, Microsoft Office can be costly but there are several free alternatives to Microsoft Office from the open source community.

“Open source” doesn’t have the stigma of the past which had users worried about the quality of software being produced. Today’s open source software is feature-rich with full community support from product developers and users.

You shouldn’t need to worry about these open source software packages supporting the common document file types. Across the board, file formats are a non-issue.

Microsoft Office Alternative Packages

1. Google Drive

microsoft office alternative

Google Drive, previously known as Google Docs, is one of the better Microsoft Office alternative suites available. With your Google account, you can create, share and collaborate on the same document with multiple users who have been given edit, comment or view access.

Google Drive stores your work in the cloud and can be accessed from any device with a browser and Internet connection. It supports a wide array of file types, including Microsoft Word which can be downloaded for offline use as well. Files can be downloaded as Word, OpenOffice, RTF, PDF, HTML or zip files.

Google Drive includes the Spreadsheets packages which is an alternative to Microsoft Excel that can create and format spreadsheets and charts that can be embedded in your blog or website. You can import and export file types .xls, .csv, .txt and .ods data.

If you’re looking for a Powerpoint alternative, Google Presentations lets you create, share and edit visual presentations that can be saved as .pptx, .pps, pdf, or .txt file. You can also insert images and videos and even give presentations online in real-time.

As alternatives to Outlook go, you can’t get any better than Gmail. Gmail offers POP and IMAP email service which works with Outlook if you want to integrate the two.

Since this is a Google service, Drive works well with Google+, Gmail and Google Calendar for greater integration capabilities and convenience. Google’s storage allowance is consolidated between Drive, Gmail and Google+, offering users 15Gb of free storage shared across all three platforms. If you need more space, you can also upgrade for a few dollars per month.

Google Apps for Business is a separate service that costs $50 per user account per year. It has all the same free services, but more support, more space, more features.

2. Apache OpenOffice

microsoft office alternative

Apache OpenOffice is a freely downloadable Microsoft Office alternative that can be installed on Windows, Linux and Mac computers.

Apache OpenOffice is one of the first challengers to Microsoft’s dominance for installable software and offers many of the same tools for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics and databases.

You can import and export Microsoft Word documents or in the OpenDocument format.

The OpenOffice word processor is called Writer, and features desktop publishing tasks include design wizards, formatting and autocorrect, HTML coding and tables.

The spreadsheet application is called Calc, that can create reports and graphics from databases, natural language formulas, and maths equations.

You can also create multimedia presentations with Impress utilizing multiple monitors as well as tools for drawing and diagrams, together with Draw to produce 3D illustrations.

Base is the database tool that can create and modify tables, forms, queries and reports.

The open source community frequently develop and itterate new features for OpenOffice that will continue to remain free.

3. LibreOffice

microsoft office alternative

LibreOffice is a spin-off of Apache OpenOffice. In 2010, the Document Foundation decided to use the same source code as OpenOffice with all the same features and tools, but took it in their own direction.

The two major differences are in the application’s features, usability and community support. LibreOffice is fairly simple to use and can import .pdf documents and includes a Wiki publisher. Users can enhance functionality by installing extensions and different templates.

The software can even be installed on a portable drive, USB stick or SD card.

4. Zoho Docs

alternative to microsoft office

Zoho Docs is similar to Google Drive in that it is a Web-based alternative to Microsoft Office. The basic package offers 1GB of free online storage to save documents from the word processor, spreadsheets and presentations. Users can edit documents with each other in real-time, although the feature has room for improvement.

After signing up for the software, you can log in using any web browser on any device, which also includes a mobile app for Android and Apple devices.

Zoho Docs offers added flexibility over Google Drive or Microsoft Office by enabling sharing with any email address.

5. Kingsoft Office

office alternative

Kingsoft Office is developed out of Hong Kong, and tends to be a stripped down alternative to Microsoft Office with three counterparts for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Kingsoft Office is quick and lightweight boasting a long list of file format compatibility. Included is a PDF converter and tools for adding watermarks to documents.

Versions for Android and iOS are available and are free to install.

These are just a few of the best alternatives to Microsoft Office. As more people go mobile, tablet and web-based apps will continue to improve and provide just as much flexibility and function as desktop applications. Microsoft are pushing into the web-based world with Office 365

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Google Seductress

Is This An April Fools Joke From Google Analytics?

Is this yet another April Fools Day joke from Google? Someone from the International Space Station may be taking a look at your website right now!

If you log into Google Analytics and watch the Realtime Overview in the Standard Reports section, you may notice something very special.

Click on Image to Enlarge:

Don’t be fooled though. It’s yet another gag from Google.

Oh, but did you hear the sad news that Youtube is shutting down?!

OK, it’s not.

But hang on a cotton-pickin’ minute! Google have just announced powerful new technology about to be unleashed on your olfactory senses. Ever wanted to know what a ghost smells like?

OK, that’s an April Fools Day joke too. But don’t feel disappointed that the technology isn’t real. Perhaps a good old-fashioned treasure hunt will cheer you up?

Happy April Fools Day

The only day of the year where tech giants don’t want to be taken seriously.

Nice one Google.

Most Dangerous Computer Virus

Most Dangerous Computer Virus Threatens Critical Infrastructure

 

Most of us think about the most dangerous computer virus to be one that steals our banking information or wipes our harddrive. While those types of computer viruses and malware (malicious software) are a reality for a huge number of victims, they generally don’t put lives at risk or damage critical government infrastructure. At least, that’s how cyber criminals probably justify it to themselves.

If you don’t have anti-virus software installed on your computer, you’re running the risk of losing all your personal data, banking details being stolen and even being watched without you knowing it. AVG anti-virus offer a free version.

But when it comes to the cyber security of governments, computer viruses and malware allow foreign entities to hack critical infrastructure in targeted cyber warfare.

Critical US Infrastructure Hacked

The most disturbing element of our connected world is the seeming ease of access hackers have to critical infrastructure. In the pre-Internet days, an attack would require physical access to a facility, stake outs, planning, evading detection and a whole lot of weapons and explosions, something akin to a blockbuster Hollywood movie. But not anymore. A cyber soldier in Russia or China can now be sitting comfortably at their desks carrying out the attacks over the Internet on behalf of their governments.

Hackers from Russia have allegedly mounted a successful attack on US water treatment systems by destroying a pump used to pipe water to thousands of homes in Illinois.

The hacker at the center of the attack says “I’ve also seen various people doubt the possibility an attack like this could be done… This required almost no skill and could be reproduced by a two year old with a basic knowledge of Simatic.”

He then goes on to post proof by providing several screenshots:

most dangerous computer virus

Source

He was able to damage and eventually break the pumps by turning them on and off quickly and frequently.

Just this one incident shows how a hacker from a foreign country can login to critical infrastructure thousands of miles across the globe using stolen usernames and passwords (possibly through the use of a computer virus or malware) and actually control the systems… and take screenshots! I’m guessing that means he had TOTAL access just like he was sitting right there in the control room.

These attacks target what’s known as Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems that control equipment used to filter water, mix chemicals, distribute power and route trains and trams.

US investigators Are Very Worried

Similar attacks allegedly coming out of Shanghai, China have also focused on obtaining the ability to manipulate critical US infrastructure. US intelligence officials have admitted to tapping into the activity of the People’s Liberation Army Unit 61398 for years and they have little doubt that an overwhelming percentage of the attacks on US corporations, organizations and government agencies originate in and around Shanghai.

According to Mandiant, a US computer security firm, one cyber target was a company who had remote access to more than 60% of oil and gas pipelines in North America.

“Chinese embassy officials in Washington again insisted their government did not engage in computer hacking, and that such activity was illegal.”

Yet, US government officials have stated that cyber-security, cyber-theft,cyber-intrusions and cyber-threats are brought up in EVERY meeting with Chinese officials. Yes, EVERY meeting. It must be an extremely volatile subject. Watch:

“The United States and China are among the worlds largest cyber actors.”

The US President, Barack Obama, spoke of his concern in the State of the Union address 2013:

The President is sending out a deliberate message warning foreign governments. He calls them “enemies”.

It’s not just a matter of China or Russia attacking the US. The US and other governments engage in cyber warfare too. One of the best known SCADA attacks involved the Stuxnet virus which caused problems for Iran.

Most Dangerous Computer Virus Stuxnet Targets Iran

nuclear bomb

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America and Israel do not want Iran to develop nuclear weapons. In 2006, Gen. James E. Cartwright, who was then head of U.S. Strategic Command, suggested to the George W. Bush administration that cyber warfare could be the best option to damage Iranian centrifuges at its uranium enrichment plant in Natanz. NSA Director, Keith Alexander had the technical know-how to pull it off. The task consisted mainly of gathering intelligence to identify potential targets and create tools to disrupt them.

Without launching a traditional military strike and eager to slow Iran’s efforts toward building an atomic bomb, in 2008 President Obama secretly ordered a cyber-attack against Iran with a cyber-weapon jointly created by US and Israeli experts. The weapon known as Stuxnet could well be the most dangerous computer virus. Stuxnet secretly sabotaged Iranian equipment and was meant to make the Iranians think that their engineers were incapable of running a nuclear enrichment facility. The damage occurred gradually, over months, and Iranian officials initially thought it was the result of incompetence.

The attack caused centrifuges, the fast-spinning machines that enrich uranium, to spin much faster-than-normal until sensitive components began to warp and break. Almost 1,000 out of 6,000 centrifuges were destroyed. Iran replaced the damaged machines and has continued to enrich uranium, saying it’s nuclear program is for peaceful purposes such as generating electricity.

Rafal Rohozinski, a cyber-expert and principal of the SecDev Group, told the Washington Post “This officially signals the beginning of the cyber arms race in practice and not in theory.”

How Stuxnet Worked

Source

 

DuQu Cyber Espionage

The virus known as Duqu was apparently built for espionage but shared characteristics with Stuxnet. Although the codes share similar traits, they differ in significant ways. Stuxnet’s payload was designed specifically to disrupt the machines that controlled the speed of centrifuges in a uranium enrichment plant in Iran. Duqu is designed to capture data such as computer keystrokes (i.e. usernames and passwords) and system information.

The new code was written to capture information that can help “mount a future attack on an industrial control facility”, according to cyber security experts at Symantec. “Duqu is essentially the precursor to a future Stuxnet-like attack”.

Flame Computer Malware Virus

cyber espionage

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The Flame computer virus evaded detection for several years by using a sophisticated program to crack an encryption algorithm and is considered to be among the most sophisticated and subversive pieces of malware ever exposed. Flame was designed to masquerade as a routine Microsoft software update.

Researchers studying the Flame virus suggest that certain characteristics are similar to the most dangerous computer virus Stuxnet and DuQu. Experts described the overlap as “DNA-like evidence that the two sets of malware were parallel projects run by the same entity”.

It uses five encryption methods, three compression techniques and at least five file formats. Its means of gathering intelligence include logging keyboard strokes, activating microphones to record conversations and taking screen shots. It is also the first identified virus that is able to use Bluetooth wireless technology to send and receive commands and data.

Flame only came to public knowledge after Iran detected a series of cyber attacks on its oil industry. The disruption was allegedly directed by Israel in a unilateral operation that apparently caught its American partners off guard.

Future Cyber Security Threats

terminator cyber warfare
While governments play politics and cyber war games, it appears the “enemies” can’t just be categorized broadly into “the Chinese” or “the Russians”, but rather, hackers are often solo anarchists outside of government.

The alleged government-funded creation of viruses and malware could very easily fall into the hands of nefarious organizations and ordinary citizens – very smart people who can reverse engineer and re-purpose the virus for their own uses.

Even less organized than the operations of the al-Qaeda terrorist networks, hacker cells may consist of just a handful of individuals across borders not home to any single country. These hackers have most certainly demonstrated the ability and the knowledge to attack critical infrastructure. The biggest concern is when they develop the willpower to co-ordinate a mass targeted attack as an opposition to governments, corporations or other groups.

Victim governments of such events could pin the blame on the country of origin, even if that government was not involved, setting off a chain of attacks and the start of a truly devastating cyber war that impacts lives in the offline world.

Does any of this worry you? Let us know in the comments.

Disclaimer: Links to 3rd party sites included within this article denoted with /go/ in the URL may result in commission being earned if you decide to make a purchase.

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Social Media Garden

A Social Media Garden Makes Your Website A Happy Home

Setting up and curating your social media profiles is just as important as tending to your own website and blog. If we can use the analogy that our blog is a beautiful house in which we conduct our business and make money, take a quick look around the perimeter of your house. Wouldn’t it be great to have a flourishing garden as well?

When we have an attractive garden, more customers will want to get a closer look at our house. That’s what we want, right? Our house is where we make our money, so our house needs to look attractive to potential customers and so does the garden.

Add Value With A Social Media Garden

social media garden

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In my garden, I like to have a few big trees and a few extra smaller plants dotted around. I call one of my big trees Twitter and the other Facebook. I call my smaller plants Tumblr, StumbleUpon and LinkedIn (amongst others).

Many businesses focus solely on their own house (their website) and neglect the garden (social media). Lift your chin and take a look around. If you’re not participating in social media, it’s like you’ve built a brick wall around your property making it more difficult for customers to take a look inside.

Let’s tie up this analogy by seeding our garden lawn. I don’t know about you, but when I see a beautiful well-manicured lawn, I tend to admire it for a little while longer than I would usually give grass credit for. Likewise, in social media circles, our garden lawn needs to provide similar value to visitors that you find through the network.

Our garden lawn comes in the form of blog posts, with new blades of grass popping up a couple of times a week, give or take.

Curate A Well-Manicured Lawn

social networking garden

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I’m likening our blog to a garden lawn because it takes time to grow and mature. The lawn spreads out between the trees and plants making the garden one coherent entity. We want each blade of grass to be luscious and green with a complete absence of weeds.

It’s a mighty fine picture we’re painting here but let’s put the analogy to bed and wrap this up.

The great thing about blogs is that they fit perfectly with social networks because each post can be shared easily. Adding new posts regularly provides value to the reader and will provide traffic to your website as long as each post contains sharable content that the social networks love.

Our social media garden has a few big areas of focus, such as our Twitter and Facebook profiles. For yourself, it might be a YouTube channel or Pinterest. These “big trees” stand tall as a beacon for our website, which is our primary place of business.

Our social media garden also consists of smaller “plants” that you may not focus too much of your attention, but it’s a good idea to let them grow organically.

Automate Your Blog To Grow Your Social Media Garden

I use a WordPress plugin called Social Networks Auto Poster that automatically submits all new blog posts to a dozen social networks including:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Tumblr
  • StumbleUpon
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Blogger
  • Delicious
  • … and others

We’re generating traffic to Inscribd through these social networks without lifting a finger. That’s because we’ve automated a large part of our social media strategy and I highly recommend bloggers do the same. Having said that, I do lift a finger for my “big trees” and try to participate on those networks to interact with our readers.

Just like a garden needs time to mature, so do your social media profiles. Plant a few seeds and watch your traffic numbers grow.

Which social network refers the most traffic to your website?

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Technorati Shooter

Technorati Puts A Gun To Bloggers’ Heads

Technorati Puts A Gun To Bloggers’ Heads

HOME → Web

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Image Source: Flickr / AMagill

Please don’t shoot, sir! My Technorati claim token is 4TDDV774VBU2. Take it! Just don’t hurt me.

Technorati is a search engine for blogs that can become a great source of traffic for blog owners. Technorati measures your reputation and authority, so getting your website listed is very important for any blogger and comes highly recommended.

I’m going through the process of claiming my listing for inscribd.com on Technorati right now and have been stopped dead in my tracks. I’ve gone pale with fright. My hands are up. I’m backed into a corner. I’m confused. I slowly drop to my knees and sheepishly mutter “Do I have to?”

I didn’t plan to write an article about Technorati, but here we are. They made me. No joke.

technorati-claim-status

In order to verify ownership of your blog, Technorati asks you – no, tells you – to publish a blog post with a unique claim token. For a brand new blog, you may think ‘so what?’ and just publish, verify and then delete the post. But it’s a devilishly clever way of Technorati getting more exposure for itself. Your claim token needs to be published publicly and be available in your RSS feed. For any established blog, you’d already have auto-posting new articles to your social media accounts so you’ll want to give your readers an explanation for the post before you get a chance to delete it.

Or – perhaps as Technorati hopes – you make a full post about the purpose of your claim token and just keep it live on your blog forever. Call me Marlin because I’ve taken the bait!

My main gripe is that this verification process has to be so public. For other services in a website owner’s tool chest such as Google and Bing Webmaster Tools, proving ownership of your website requires adding a simple meta tag to your website code or even uploading a file to your hosting server – things that can be done without broadcasting the activity to the world.

But Technorati is different. I admit it’s a deliciously apt way of verifying your blog – a little bit tongue-in-cheek – a little bit sneaky – a little bit ‘What’s that over there?! LOL. Made you look!’ Sure, I could have created a quick post with the claim token, get verified and then delete said post, but hey.

“Well played Technorati”Inscribd

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Google Seductress

8 Google SEO Mistakes That Choke Your Search Ranking

 

Google SEO is a cunning seductress. As any business with a website knows, she’s at the forefront of our minds every time we consider tweaking our online presence. We want her to pick us as her number one favorite and show us off to as many people as possible. We’re her handbag. We want to be seen strolling along under her arm. We’ll do anything to satisfy her. Some of us will even attempt to trick our little seductress into giving us a higher priority over others. But our Google is a smart little cookie and with any hint of mischievous, manipulation or game playing on our part, it’s off with our heads with shear ruthless indifference!

The practice of Search Engine Optimization (Google SEO) can be one of playing by the rules or one of trying to find loopholes to get an edge over our competitors. Google has been cracking down on these SEO loophole-seekers and it’s well worth saving your butt from a hurtful rogering by avoiding these Google SEO mistakes.

1. Keyword Over-Stuffing

Google is very good with figuring out your webpage topic by scanning the contents of your webpage finding keywords and phrases that will help rank your page within the search results. If you would like searchers to find you by typing “blue widgets california”, it’s recommended to have that specific keyword phrase within the contents of your website. Knowing this, a lot of SEOers will use their keyword phrase over and over on the page with the purpose of tricking Google into believing their page is more relevant compared to a competitor’s because the keyword is used multiple times.

Matt Cutts from Google has stated that their algorithm can detect “unnatural” use of keywords and may actually penalize your page in the search results because your keyword over-stuffing devalues the readability of the page. So while you can still use keywords multiple times in a page, the most important factor is ‘readability’ and the value your page gives to a reader.

Using targeted keywords on each page of your website is very important to ranking in the search engines so it is crucial to use them in the correct places and not over-do it.

2. Bad Title and Description Meta Tags

google-snippet
Your page title (the <title> tag) and the description meta tag (<meta name=”description” … ) are displayed in Google’s search engine results pages. It is good practice for your title to contain your target keyword. Your page title must be related to the page content and should not be stuffed with keywords. It should be clear for the visitor to read and understand what the page will be about before they click through to your website. Keep in mind the title display in search engines is limited to 70 characters.

Likewise, the description should be a clear sentence to describe the page content and limited to 156 characters. Again, it’s good to include your target keyword but don’t repeat it more than once.

3. Speedy Link Building

One core factor in determining your site’s authority is the number of inbound links it has. That is, the number of other websites that are pointing to your website.

Google wants to know how trustworthy your website is so it looks for signals such as inbound links. These links on other websites are like recommendations. If another website links to yours, they are telling their readers ‘i recommend you look at this website’.

Google knows the Internet better than any other company. They know how quickly the average website receives inbound links from other sites. Google knows what looks “natural”, in terms of how many links a website receives over a given period of time. Occasionally a website may get media coverage that spikes the number of inbound links over a few days or weeks and their algorithm will account for this. If however, a website starts receiving inbound links at a rate deemed to be outside of the “natural” range, Google may penalize your website for link spamming.

Some webmasters try to manipulate their PageRank (the score given by Google of a page’s trustworthiness) by increasing the number of inbound links. They may do this manually by commenting in forums and blogs, or use tools like Scrapebox or auto-submit software to add those comments to thousands of sites simultaneously.

This is a big no-no and Google will hit you hard for it. In some extreme cases, your entire domain could get knocked out of Google’s results for good.

4. Unnatural Anchor Link Text

Building links to your website is a very important factor towards your PageRank, but as warned, don’t over do it too quickly. Additionally, when gaining links to your website, make sure to vary the anchor text – that is the phrase used when linking to your website.

Let’s say your target keyword phrase is “blue widgets california” and your website domain is www.bluewidgetscalifornia.com, you don’t want every link to be blue widgets california. You’d want some variety so that inbound links look naturally acquired. If I was to link to you on my own volition, I’d probably link as www.bluewidgetscalifornia.com

In your link building exercise, use your domain as the anchor text 80% of the time and your keyword for the rest.

5. Duplicate Content

If your blog or website is filled with chunks of text that you have copied from another online source, that would be considered duplicate content. Google’s primary objective is to present the most relevant and most valuable results to the searcher. When Google talks about ‘value’, that includes originality and uniqueness of your website content. If there are hundreds of online articles with the same content, how does Google know which one is the most relevant for the search query? If there are many copies of the same article floating around the Internet, Matt Cutts has said that Google will return only the first article that it discovered when scouring the web. Watch Matt explain duplicated content.

You should also make sure that your own website pages are unique against each other. Do not use one single description meta tag across all of your website’s pages. Don’t have large swatches of text that is cut ‘n’ paste from another page on your website. All pages should be unique.

6. No Value Proposition

What value does your website provide to the visitor? Are they searching for a product, information or you specifically? Google reiterates again and again, webmasters should focus on providing value to their website visitors. When creating a new page or giving an existing page a refresh, start with a value proposition and then focus on providing visitors with a quality experience. Your website doesn’t need to be beautiful, but it does need to provide unique, valuable content.

Google knows how long a visitor stays on your website before clicking the ‘back’ button. If you have a high bounce rate and low time-on-page, you most likely did not provide enough value to that visitor and your rankings can suffer for it.

7. You Don’t Use Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools is a great resource to measure your website’s search engine keyword ranks, inbound links and other metrics. If Google encounters problems with your website, you can be notified so that problems can be fixed as soon as possible. These problem might include missing files, your webhost is down or even if your website has been infected with a virus.

This tool is invaluable to get to know your own website and look at it from Google’s perspective, which will help you make adjustments for SEO purposes.

8. Poor URL Structure

If your website runs on the WordPress platform, your URL or directory structure is relatively easy to configure (Settings > Permalinks). Each directory should be considered as a separation of content, eg yourwebsite.com/category1/my-article-name/ and this makes it neater for your visitors to understand and for Google to index your website.

Regarding Google SEO, it’s good to have your target keyword in the URL, so you may have eg yourwebsite.com/category-keyword/my-article-name-including-the-keyword/

Don’t have directory structures like yourwebsite.com/website/html/myholiday/page1.html
In this example, this would be better: yourwebsite.com/rio-de-janeiro-holiday/

Google SEO Tips Straight From The Horse’s Mouth

You’ve take some time to read through this article and learn 8 Google SEO mistakes to avoid inflicting on your own website. If you’re still hungry for more information, go straight over to the GoogleWebmasterHelp’s YouTube channel where you can spend several hours learning exactly what Google suggests webmasters focus their efforts on.

Remember, when writing website content, focus on creating value for the reader – not on ranking in search engines.

If you’ve found this article helpful, please return the favor by linking to us from your blog, tweeting or sharing on facebook That would help with our own SEO efforts :)

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List of Quotes Inspiring You to Be Better and Gain Skills

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