Ice Mission Accomplished: Antarctic Survey Wraps Up

After weeks of flying hours-long missions over the barren icescape of Antarctica, NASA's IceBridge campaign has come to a close for the season, and scientists hope it yields a better picture of the changes happening on the southernmost continent.

Operation IceBridge began in 2009 using specialized instruments aboard aircraft to collect data about the thickness of Arctic and Antarctic ice on both sea and land and how fast glaciers are moving, to better understand potential impacts from the poles on global sea-level rise. The Antarctic campaign is conducted in Northern Hemisphere autumn (the Southern Hemisphere's spring), while the Arctic campaign flies in the Northern Hemisphere spring.

The 2011 Antarctic mission began in October with IceBridge's Gulfstream V and DC-8 planes taking off from their base in Punta Arenas, Chile, and flying particular paths over the Antarctic ice. The flights, which typically last 10-to-11 hours, take the same routes year-to-year to better observe the changes happening there.

The early flights focused on sea ice, before too much of it melted with the warming temperatures of the austral spring. IceBridge sea-ice flights are designed to help scientists understand why sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere is not thinning to the same extent seen in the Arctic. [Images: IceBridge in Action Over Antarctica]

On Nov. 9, the team made its longest flight of the mission to date, a 12.5-hour flight on the DC-8 to the Thwaites Glacier and eastern Byrd Land, including overflights of ice-core-sample locations. This flight also reached the most southerly point of any of the IceBridge flights, with a latitude just short of 80 degrees south.

"Upon reaching the Amundsen Sea, the weather was not at all promising, but after a short time, it cleared up and conditions remained favorable for the rest of the day," Pilot-in-Command Troy Asher of NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center said in a statement. "The research area was like Kansas in Antarctica, flat for as far as the eye could see in all directions."

After a delayed takeoff to allow weather over the target area to clear, the team was back in the air Nov. 11 for a low-level return flight over the Thwaites Glacier. As a bonus, it also flew a now-famous crack that recently broke across the Pine Island Glacier to get data with its topographic mapper.

Sunlight glistens across the water and the ragged edge of the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf during a low-level pass by NASA's DC-8 flying laboratory during an IceBridge mission flight Nov. 11.
Sunlight glistens across the water and the ragged edge of the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf during a low-level pass by NASA’s DC-8 flying laboratory during an IceBridge mission flight Nov. 11.

Credit: NASA

"The view was spectacular of both the rift and glacier edge under sunny skies," said NASA Dryden Mission Manager Chris Miller, who noted that the glacier rift should create a calving iceberg anytime between a few weeks from now and a few months.

Earlier in the mission, the team also flew over Pine Island Glacier to take new measurements over areas where a drilling mission will be on the ground in a few weeks to take up-close measurements and drill cores of ice from the glacier to better understand its movements and potential to melt. Pine Island Glacier is the fastest-moving glacier in western Antarctica, gliding at a clip of about 2.5 miles (4 km) per year.

An 11.2-hour flight Nov. 13 took the IceBridge team over the Crosson Ice Shelf, with some of the data-collection flight tracks extending over the Thwaites and Dotson ice shelves and over Mt. Murphy in between.

Jagged rocks and precipitous snow banks were just outside as NASA's DC-8 flying laboratory crested a mountain range during a low-level science flight over the Antarctic Peninsula Nov. 16.
Jagged rocks and precipitous snow banks were just outside as NASA’s DC-8 flying laboratory crested a mountain range during a low-level science flight over the Antarctic Peninsula Nov. 16.

Credit: NASA/Chris Miller

On Monday, Nov. 14, the IceBridge science team had a rare opportunity to collect data over glaciers on the east side of the northern Antarctic Peninsula that normally are enshrouded by clouds.

After a final weekend of data-collection flights, the DC-8 and the IceBridge team are scheduled to return home Nov. 22 to the airborne science laboratory's base at the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif. The Gulfstream returned to the United States earlier this month.

This story was provided by OurAmazingPlanet , a sister site to LiveScience.

7 Raunchy Reads To Get You In The Mood

Looking for a little excitement and a lot of tingle? Try our seven recommended raunchy reads to get you in the mood.

Roberto Bolaño summed it up very nicely when he said, “…books are finite; sex is finite, but the desire to read and to [email protected]*k is infinite!”

We all know that that is completely true, especially when you mix them together—that’s to say a really good book with plenty of hot and maybe erotic romance included!

As the winter nights draw in and the weather gets a little cooler, it seems that there are fewer reasons to go outside and more reasons to stay in and curl up with a good book. So, if you are bored sitting around and you’ve run out of things to entertain you, check out our seven raunchy reads—each one is full of hot romance and excitement that is sure to make you tingle.

1. Release Me by J Kenner (Erotic and Emotional)

Release Me by J Kenner

Release Me is an erotic, emotionally charged romance between a powerful man who’s never heard ‘no’ and a fiery woman who says ‘yes’, but on her own terms, to an unforgettable indecent proposal.

This is a story filled with erotic encounters as the two main characters fall for each other, but each must admit to their troubled past. It’s a good story with lots of red hot raunchy passion. It stands alone as a good read, but there are others in the series if you want more.

2. Seven years to Sin by Silvia Day (Inevitable)

Seven Years to Sin is an historical novel that sets out to prove, without any doubt, that an alpha male and a willing woman confined together on an old sailing ship can discover all sorts of things about each other.

While you always suspect that this swashbuckling male and demure lady will get there in the end, it’s a time of chaperones and very proper behaviour—their relationship develops slowly until we see a full blown romance. Silvia Day is an accomplished author and a marvellous storyteller, with many great books to her name.

3. Possession is Nine-Tenths of Desire by Eve Atkins (Fast Moving Lust and Deception)

Possession is Nine-Tenths of Desire by Eve Atkins

This modern tale of lust and love is spiked with jealousy and evil intentions that serve to keep the reader on the edge of their seat until the last page. Attractive, wealthy people are brought crashing down by their own egos, arrogance and petty jealousy.

An exciting story, with its share of lust and passion but with the suspense of a thriller all wrapped up in a love story—what else is there? Eve Atkins writes the erotic scenes with passion and integrity, but keeps the story moving.

4. This Man by Jodi Ellen Malpas (Take me as I am)

It’s a very steamy read, but has a story line—after all, who knows what is happening up at the manor with Jesse until interior designer Ava discovers the truth.

It’s a tale of take me for what I am because I’m a good guy really or I can be if I try hard. Passion and deceit abound in this good romance, which is the first of a trilogy.

5. Erotic Vibrations by Jessica Lansdown (Far from Vanilla)

An exclusive club, champagne and erotic, mind-blowing sex—these are all kept private. The heroine Gabriella can’t help but play hard to get; she loves to tease, but Michael has other plans as he sets out to tempt her with his sublime and passionate seduction techniques. If you are into flirting and teasing, this short story is sure to get you thinking.

6. First Night by Lauren Blakely (No Escape)

First Night by Lauren Blakely

The heroine is caught in a money trap, which means that she has to do things that she doesn’t want to do. Her world changes when she meets Clay. They have one night, which takes them both by surprise and, although she doesn’t want to get involved, she simply can’t help it. This is a really easy but electric read and is one of a series.

7. Only for You by Beth Kerry (History Repeats)

They are both involved in the film world, but he decided long ago that actresses are trouble, so he says that he will never date an actress. He lets his guard down once and thinks he gets away with it until fate throws them together once more and history repeats itself.

Great love scenes, plenty of emotion and a good story overall, which will keep you turning the pages. Beth Kerry is an accomplished author in this genre and has written many books on a first’s night theme.

These are just some of the steamy books to warm you this winter. We’d love to hear your recommendations though. Which books will be keeping you company on these chilly nights?

Have A Hard Time Tracking Debts With Friends? Use What Do I Owe You

i owe you appLike most people, I enjoy going out to places with my friends. Restaurants, movies, overnight trips, amusement parks, paintballing – you name it and I’ll go. Going out as a group is great but sometimes there are complications, especially when it comes down to money.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll cover someone if they’re short on cash and I’ve been covered on occasion as well. However, if your group of friends (or family, coworkers, colleagues, etc.) is the type that expects everyone to be reimbursed perfectly, the whole act of tracking debts can become a headache. This is also applicable to roommate situations where different people are paying for different bills.

Fortunately, there’s a new website that aims to solve this problem. It’s called What Do I Owe You? and it’s an extremely simple solution that gets the job done – and it’s different from traditional bill splitters and budget managers.

i owe you app

Here’s the basic layout of the website. Don’t be turned away by its simplicity, though. Haven’t you ever heard not to judge a book by its cover?

The gist of What Do I Owe You? is that you can add or remove people from the group that you want to split bills with. Each person has a name (which is by default “Click to Edit“)  and a list of items that they’ve paid for. As far as I know, you can add as many items per person as you want.

When you’re done with all of the items for all of the people, a single “Who Owes What?” click will tell you what each person owes to whomever else.

i owe you app iphone

Editing people in the group is easy, too. To change their names, all you have to do is click on the “Click to Edit” and start typing.

The “Add Bill” button will add more input fields where you can more items that they’ve paid for. The text field is smart because you can start it off with a money value (like $40.00) and the rest of it will be ignored, so you can use that to describe what that bill was for.

i owe you app iphone

Here’s an example setup that I’ve created. As you can see, it’s as straightforward as can be. As far as I know, there are no limits to how many people can be added to the group. (I stopped at 25 because there will never be a situation where I need to track 25 casual debts with my friends.)

i owe you app iphone

And finally, once you click that beautiful “Who Owes What?” button, the site will tell you what each person owes and to whom they owe that amount. Again, it’s not very pretty and there aren’t too many bells or whistles that go along with it, but the information is accurate.

If you want to start over, there’s a Reset option. You can also send an IOU Email to an address, which presumably reminds them in a friendly way that they have a debt to settle. Perfect for people who don’t like face-to-face confrontations!

i owe you app

The last two features are what make What Do I Owe You? something that will be used by many people – mobile support and progress saving.

At the bottom of the site, there’s a link that lets you switch into a mobile version of the site. On some devices, the site may detect that you’re on a mobile phone and change its format accordingly. Either way, I’m sure there are many applications for this website while on the go, so having mobile support is aces.

Progress saving is also quite nice. If you want to do long-term tracking of debts, just update the bills and click “Save” at the top right. This will tie your progress with your browser using a cookie and all of your data will be reloaded whenever you come back. However, in case you delete your cookies mistakenly, the site provides a link that you can use to restore your progress.

Overall, a fantastic website. The graphics could use some polish (okay, a LOT of polish) but the functionality is great. If more people used the site, I’m sure the creator would keep it updated with new features over time. There’s a “Feedback” link in case you want to send in your comments and suggestions.

Image Credits: Wallet Bills Via Shutterstock

The Fascinating History Of Urine Tests

To a doctor, urine can provide much information. One way for doctors to find out what’s going on inside the body is to examine what flows out of it. So don’t be surprised the next time a doctor asks for a urine sample for a seemingly non-urinary complaint.

In fact, be a little proud. When you hand over that little cup, you’re participating in a medical tradition more than 6,000 years in the making.

Ancient Babylonian and Sumerian physicians first inscribed their evaluations of urine into clay tablets as early as 4,000 B.C.

Later, in ancient Greece, Hippocrates, often called the father of Western medicine, expanded on urine’s importance: “No other organ system or organ of the human body provides so much information by its excretion as does the urinary system,” he wrote.

By the late middle ages, the study of urine had solidified into the practice known as uroscopy. Medieval doctors associated nearly every known disease with urinary characteristics , and some would diagnose patients without even meeting them just by examining a bottle of their urine.

Uroscopy was commonplace, and it shows up in Shakespeare’s writings. In Henry IV, when Falstaff asks “What says the doctor to my water?” He’s not just asking about his urinary health; because urine was so central to medicine at that time, he was effectively asking for the results of his entire checkup.

Although many uroscopy tests done in those times have been discredited, certain tests are still done today because they accurately indicate health problems, said Eric Wallen, a professor of urology at the University of North Carolina. “Malodorous urine is accurately classified as infected, red urine still notable for the presence of blood, [and] brown urine for bilirubin or blood products,” Wallen said.

“But it would be a rare physician today who [only] utilized this form of analysis,” Wallen said, and it would be especially rare to find one still “tasting the urine to diagnose diabetes .”

Follow MyHealthNewsDaily on Twitter @MyHealth_MHND. Like us on Facebook.

Change Dns Presets On The Fly With Chrispc Dns Switch

DNS servers are the intermediate agents that resolve human-readable URLs to IP addresses. By using alternate DNS servers that are geographically closer, or that use more efficient caching methods, you can significantly speed up your browsing. DNS Tunnelling, on the other hand, is a great way to access region-blocked content.

If you’re using Windows as your operating system, there’s just one catch. Changing your DNS settings is a needlessly convoluted task. Configuring it once is worse enough, but switching between different DNS profiles frequently is almost out of the question. Luckily, third-party tools like ChrisPC DNS Switch are able to introduce much-needed flexibility.

ChrisPC DNS Switch

ChirsPC DNS Switch is a free Windows utility that greatly facilitates DNS changes. It’s a full-featured package that not only introduces extensive DNS profiles, but makes even the simplest changes to your DNS settings a lot faster and user-friendly.

dns-switcher-main

The application is free, but ad-supported. You’ll find a text advertisement at the bottom of the main application window and a single advertisement when you exit the settings. This is less intrusive than it sounds; you will want to use the [[APPLICATION TRAY]] for most program interactions, so these are only seen sporadically. With the time ChrisPC DNS Switch saves you, and the headaches it protects you from, it’s a great package deal.

DNS Presets

You can change the DNS settings for each separate network adapter on your computer, e.g. your WiFi vs. your LAN connection. With a network adapter selected, pick a DNS preset and press Change DNS to reprogram it. Alternatively, you can use the selected preset to reprogram all your network adapters at once.

dns-switcher-presets

ChrisPC DNS Switcher comes with a sizeable collection of alternative DNS presets available out of the box. These are ordered by categories, like Regular, Secure and Custom. For a better overview, you can filter DNS presets by category when you’re reprogramming a network adapter in the application settings.

DNS Database & Custom Presets

The Custom category of DNS presets is empty when you first launch the application. You can probably guess why: it’s the category reserved for DNS servers entered by the user.

dns-switcher-database

Select DNS Database in the left sidebar of the main application window to view all existing DNS presets and to add your own. You can also play with the default collection of DNS presets. For example, once you’ve set your mind on the set of DNS presets you’re going to use, you can delete the other presets to clean up the list.

Tip: Run Installation File To Restore Default DNS Presets

If you ever want to get back (some of) the deleted default DNS presets, just run the installation file again. This adds the default collection back to the DNS Database and (in the current application version) also keeps your custom DNS presets intact.

Notification Area Controls

If you minimise the settings window or press the Hide Settings button, the application icon remains visible in the notification area. The notification area is by far the easiest way to interact with ChrisPC DNS Switch on the fly.

dns-switcher-tray

Right-clicking on the application icon gives you a context menu through which you can access all DNS presets. Alas, there’s no filtering by category, so you can easily get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options. Again, it’s a good idea to delete DNS presets that you know for sure you won’t be using, to give you a better overview in these menus.

Tip: Keep ISP Default as Preset

Your DNS server, unless changed manually, is automatically assigned by your Internet service provider (ISP). Using custom DNS servers can be useful, but there are times you’ll want to go back to your ISP’s defaults.

dns-switcher-notification

In particular, some ISP-specific services are only accessible if you’re using that ISP’s DNS servers. If that’s the case, it’s a good idea to enter those DNS servers as a custom DNS preset. Instead of restoring your DNS settings in the ChrisPC DNS Switch settings, you can then just switch to your ISP preset.

Have you been tinkering with your DNS configuration? What have you been using it for? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below the article!

Here Are Your Free Ps Plus And Xbox Live Games For February 2017

With January already gone, it’s time for the next batch of free games for PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold subscribers. Here are the titles you can claim for free in February 2017.

PlayStation Plus

First up, on PS4, LittleBigPlanet 3 is available. A platformer fan’s dream, this game lets you create your own levels and worlds and play thousands of user-generated levels online. Also free on PS4 is Not a Hero, a pixel shoot-em-up that tasks you with clearing city crime for a mayoral candidate from the future.

On PS3, you’ll receive Starwhal, a couch multiplayer game that has you battling as narwhals in space. The other PS3 title is Anna: Extended Edition, an overhauled version of a psychological horror game where you must uncover clues about your past.

Finally, Vita owners can play Ninja Senki DX, a retro-syled ninja platformer, and TorqueL, an action puzzler where you must reach the end of stages while inside a box.

Thanks to Cross-Buy functionality, PS4 owners can also play Starwhal, Ninja Senki DX, and TorqueL.

Xbox Live

The first free title for Xbox One is Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, in which you pilot a spaceship through a variety of campaigns alone or with friends. You’ll also receive Project CARS Digital Edition, a realistic racing game.

If you’ve got an Xbox 360, you can download Monkey Island 2: Special Edition, an enhanced remake of the classic point-and-click game. Finally, check out Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, an action-adventure game that bridges the storylines between the two Star Wars trilogies.

Don’t forget that Xbox One owners can play the 360 titles through backwards compatibility.

Are you excited for any of February’s games? Let us know what you’ll be playing this month down in the comments!

Image Credit: Atelier211 via Shutterstock.com

Better Sleep May Help Improve Schizophrenia

Sleep problems and schizophrenia may have common roots, raising hopes that the devastating mental disorder could be improved by helping patients overcome insomnia.

In a new study monitoring the sleep and circadian rhythms of people with schizophrenia, researchers found many more sleep problems in the schizophrenia patients versus mentally healthy controls. Combined with other research linking a schizophrenia-related gene with sleep-wake cycles in mice, the findings suggest that sleep and schizophrenia are more closely intertwined than ever realized, study researcher Russell Foster told LiveScience.

"We've been thinking of sleep disruption as one of the genetic, developmental and environmental contributors to the development of these appalling conditions," said Foster, who is a circadian and visual neuroscientist at the University of Oxford. 

Sleep and schizophrenia

Clinicians have long recognized that schizophrenia and disturbed sleep go hand-in-hand — about 80 percent of schizophrenia patients have sleep problems, Foster said. But these problems have usually been dismissed as a medication side effect or as the result of social isolation and unemployment in people with the disorder. [10 Stigmatized Health Disorders]

"That didn't make too much sense to me," Foster said.

Many mental disorders come with a side of sleep problems, including depression and bipolar disorder, Foster and his colleagues realized. And intriguingly, genes linked to circadian rhythm — the neural and biological system that attunes our sleep-wake cycles to dark and light — may play a role in some of these disorders. A gene called SNAP25, for example, is known to be important in the circadian system. SNAP25 abnormalities have also been linked to schizophrenia.

Studying sleep

In order to take a systematic look at the circadian rhythms of people with schizophrenia, Foster and his colleagues recruited 20 people with the disease and instructed them to wear movement-detecting wristwatches for six weeks. The amount of motion detected can be analyzed to determine whether the person is asleep or awake, given the vastly different movement patterns between the two states.

The patients also filled out questionnaires and kept daily diaries of their sleep and activities. All of the patients were taking medication to control their symptoms, and they had all been stable on that medication for at least three months. Finally, the patients gave 48 hours work of urine samples to be tested for melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep (melatonin makes a person sleepy).

For comparison, the researchers asked another 21 mentally healthy but unemployed adults to wear the same watches and keep the same records as the people with schizophrenia. Unemployed people were chosen because the patients with schizophrenia were all unemployed, and employment can alter sleep patterns by forcing people to get up with an alarm clock.

The insomnia of schizophrenia

A comparison between the two groups revealed that while unemployed people keep fairly regular sleep hours, every person with schizophrenia in the sample had a sleep problem.

"What became very clear is that they are massively and completely disrupted," Foster said.

This disruption did not follow a common pattern. Some people with schizophrenia went to bed late and got up late, with their melatonin release patterns delayed by several hours compared with healthy counterparts. Others would get up later and later every day, their circadian rhythms "drifting" through time. The most severely affected showed no normal 24-hour sleep-wake pattern at all. They'd alternate sleep and activity throughout the day and night. [Are You Getting Enough Sleep? (Infographic)]

The results weren't the result of unemployment, because the unemployed-but-healthy group did not show them. Nor could they be linked to any specific medication or dosage level, Foster said.

These results, published in the April issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, mesh with another recent study by Foster's team, this one published in January in the journal Current Biology. In that study, the researchers examined the sleep-wake behaviors of mice with a SNAP25 gene mutation mimicking schizophrenia.

"Quite amazingly those mice show a [sleep] pattern which is just like the patients with schizophrenia," Foster said.

In mice, the problem arises in broken communication between the cells in the brain that set the body's "clock" and the neurons that then go on to match the body's physiology to that clock. If the same is true of humans with schizophrenia, Foster said, it's possible that by easing sleep troubles, you could also decrease schizophrenia symptoms. This could be done with light therapy, melatonin treatment or even cognitive-behavioral therapy, a kind of talk therapy that helps patients change behaviors such as when and how they fall asleep.

"We want to look at individuals with full-blown conditions, bipolar, psychosis, schizophrenia, to try to develop therapies which will stabilize sleep-wake," Foster said. "And at the same time look precisely at the impact we're having on their physiology."

You can follow LiveScience senior writer Stephanie Pappas on Twitter @sipappas. Follow LiveScience for the latest in science news and discoveries on Twitter @livescience and on Facebook.

An Introduction To Facebook’s Closed And Secret Groups

One of the more interesting aspects of Facebook is the ability to create and join groups. There are groups for everything on the social network, including groups for dating, groups to sell stuff, groups for mothers, and more besides.

The thing is, in addition to the open groups, there are closed and secret Facebook groups too. In this article, you’ll learn more about Facebook groups and the differences between each type, and we’ll show you how to find the closed and secret groups.

What Are Open, Closed, and Secret Facebook Groups?

There are three types of Facebook groups: open, closed, and secret. Facebook groups, regardless of the type, all have some things in common. All are designed to allow members to share locations, plan events, and exchange contact information. But there are some differences.

Open Groups

Open groups are, not surprisingly, accessible to anyone with a Facebook account. This means anyone can see the group’s name, location, member list, and posts. Perhaps most importantly, anything that’s posted in the group is available in Facebook searches and on the news feed.

Want to join an open Facebook group? Go right ahead; membership doesn’t require an invite or approval.

Closed Groups

Closed groups, by contrast, add some restrictions. Like open groups, the name, description, and member list of a closed group are readily available. Closed groups are also found in Facebook searches.

Unlike open groups, however, closed groups require that new members get approved by an administrator or get invited to join by a current member. Additionally, only current members can see what’s being discussed in group posts and on its news feed.

Secret Groups

Secret groups, as you would suspect, are the most private of the three types of Facebook groups. No aspect of a secret group is publicly visible, new members must be added or invited by current members to join, and only members can see group posts with or without a comment. However, former members who have voluntarily left the group can still find the group in search and see its name, description, tags, and location.

How to Find Closed Facebook Groups

Unsurprisingly, there’s no simple way to find a listing for all Facebook groups, at least those which are open or closed. Actually, this is a good thing, given that there are hundreds of thousands of Facebook groups.

However, there are some awesome ways to discover new Facebook groups. To find a closed group on Facebook, you’ll want first to become familiar with Facebook Search. This tool will find almost anything you want, but you should take your time and use it correctly. Using filters and keywords can help you narrow your search.

Because Facebook already knows a lot about you, check out Facebook’s Groups page. Here you can see what groups you have joined, and what groups you have been invited to join. And if you click the “Discover” tab you’ll see groups Facebook recommends for you, groups local to you, and groups your friends have joined.

The Facebook Sale Groups is another excellent URL worth exploring. You can find plenty of communities right here which are looking to buy or sell stuff. There’s also an easy-to-use map that shows you the location of sale groups near you.

facebook sale groups

If you’re looking to find some more bizarre Facebook groups, we recommend you search Reddit for “Facebook groups” and prepare to get a surprise. It seems the world is full of some rather twisted Facebook groups.

Using this method I discovered closed Facebook groups for anime, LuLaRoe sellers, and “extreme triggering,” to name a few of the more benign ones.

How to Find Secret Facebook Groups

Thanks to the internet, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to hide anything anymore, including the fact that these secret Facebook groups exist.

Finding a secret Facebook group is all about finding a member list or the administrator of the group. Once you do that, you can try to get an invite by contacting them on Facebook. You should also take advantage of your own friends by asking around to see if they belong to any secret groups that might interest you.

For example, if you’re a parent, the odds are pretty high that some of your Facebook friends are also parents. Some of those almost certainly belong to secret Facebook groups for parents. Remember, just like real life, social networking requires a certain amount of, well, networking.

As with closed groups, you can also search Reddit for “secret Facebook groups”. Here, you’ll find a running list of secret groups discovered by Reddit members. Not everything discussed here is appropriate for everyone, nor are the listings always verified. Still, if you’re willing to go down a slightly murky rabbit hole, this is a great place to start.

Secret Facebook groups are out there waiting to be discovered if you do some digging.

Making Use of Facebook Groups

If you’re looking for a community of like-minded individuals, joining a Facebook group is a great way to go about doing so. Facebook’s open, closed, and secret groups allow you to increase your circle of friends and learn more about the things you already love.

There’s much more to discover about Facebook too. Perhaps you want to learn about some hidden Facebook tricks, or discover the unwritten rules for Facebook friend requests.

Image Credit: zentilia/Depositphotos

Analyze Your Site Traffic By Day Or Month And Prepare To Be Amazed

If I asked if you wanted an orange to eat, would you say yes? What if I asked you if you wanted a fresh navel orange, hand-picked from the orange fields of California? You’d be more likely to accept the offer, wouldn’t you?  Information is everything, and having all the information to make an educated decision is one thing that lies at the heart of any successful endeavor.

The same is very much true when you are collecting data about your website using Google Analytics. Every day as I try to dig into new areas of Google Analytics, or try to mix and match Google Analytics data in creative new ways, I always discover something new and amazing. This actually happened this month as I was taking a closer look at other dimensions that are available inside of Analytics. Two of the most interesting — and in my view the most valuable — dimensions that are available are “Hour” and “Day of the Week Name”.

In this article, I’m going to explain what those two dimensions tell you, and how you can combine them with other data to reveal a lot of amazing things about your website traffic, reader behavior on your site, and even how to better optimize the website when you publish certain types of articles or other content on your site. Just like on Twitter or Facebook, timing is often everything. The same is true about when you publish new content to your own site, and these Google Analytics dimensions can help you optimize that.

Understanding Hour and Day Dimensions

As people visit your website in greater numbers, there are certain patterns that will emerge if you know where to look. I covered a whole lot of those in our MUO Google Analytics Guide, which I highly recommend. While you can certainly view things like pageviews or bounce rates by the hour or week in the charts, that only tells you overall traffic trends by the hour or by the week.

What the Hour and Day dimensions give you access to is longer term patterns. Those dimensions will take traffic, social data, and any other metrics available on Google Analytics, and then calculate overall patterns over a longer range of time, and in my opinion, the longer the range the better. The more data you use with these dimensions, the more likely you’re going to identify extremely useful patterns that can improve your odds of success.

But first things first. Since you’ll be looking at hourly data, time zone matters a lot. So first check the time zone setting in Google Analytics by going to the Admin area, and clicking “View Settings” under Profile.

traffic-by-day1b

Under “Time zone country or territory”, you’ll see your current time zone setting. This is really only important if you’re looking at a website with a publishing schedule set up in a different time zone. You’ll need to correlate the time zone of the Analytics data with the specific time zone you’re thinking about to publish certain types of content.

Working With the Hour Dimension

The Hour dimension can be accessed by building a custom report. You access those by clicking “customization” in the top menu on Google Analytics, and then clicking the “New Custom Report” button. When editing the new report, you’ll find “Hour” available under “Other” in the dropdown for the Dimension field.

traffic-by-day1
Even just a general Pageviews report based on the Hour dimension can tell you a great deal about your visitor patterns. Again, examining this data over a longer time period is best for finding patterns, so I’ve made my own analysis span over six months. What the data reveals below is that my highest traffic time periods are the afternoon, from 13:00 to 17:00. And then, interestingly, there’s another surge very late at night, around 22:00 (probably after the kids have all gone to bed and parents are getting online to do some research).
traffic-by-day2
This is really only the tip of the iceberg through. Moving beyond pageviews, just think about what other metrics tell you when you look at it in terms of hourly patterns. For example, at what time of day do you seem to have the highest exit rates from your site? Mine appear to be worst just before and after midnight.
traffic-by-day3
What time of day do you get the most new visitors? Using the % New Visits metric by hour, you can see when you have the highest rate of new visitors. In my case I get maximum new traffic before and after midnight, and well into the early morning.  It’s very common for a high rate of new visits from places like Google Search to correlate with higher exit rates, because a portion of those new visitors are “speed-clickers”, just clicking through to see if your article answers the question or interest they had when they conducted the search.

traffic-by-day4
These are just a few examples of hourly trends you can use to learn more about visitor behavior and traffic patterns, but if you’re creative with the metrics or combination of metrics you look at, the possibilities are really unlimited.

Working With Day Dimension

If you want to look at larger patterns, an awesome one to explore is the Day of the Week dimension.  You can find this one under “Other” in the Dimension drill down box when you’re creating your custom report. The name of the dimension is “Day of the week name”.

day-of-week-name
Like the hourly report, the day of the week report by pageview is a quick way to see what day of the week you get the most traffic. Surprisingly, my own blog follows a pretty clear pattern from the start of the week having the most traffic, to the end of the week having the least. However, this definitely isn’t always the case. I’ve seen other sites where the middle of the week is clearly the busiest. It all depends on the niche or subject matter you cover, and when the people interested in your content are most likely to be spending time online.
traffic-by-day6
Again, like with the hourly report, the weekday report sorted by exit rate can tell you what day of the week people tend to leave your site upon initially visiting it. You might think this should directly correspond with traffic levels, but that’s not the case. As you can see here, the entire weekend represents a time period with high exit rates on my blog, while more people tend to hang around at the start and at the end of the 5-day work week.
traffic-by-day7
However, there’s a lot more that you can do with this beyond just standard metrics like pageviews and exit rates. What about learning what days more people share your articles, or what days your site seems to struggle more with page load speed?

Other Patterns You Can See

There are so many things you can analyze about your site using the day or hour metric that it’s a bit mind-blowing to consider it. There are a few more examples I wanted to share just to whet your appetite. When you have your report listed by day of the week, you can drop down the Secondary dimension box and select “Visitor Type” to see the specific days you have more returning or new visitors.
traffic-by-day9
Doing this reveals that I get the highest number of new visitors at the very start of the week, from Sunday through Tuesday. Those also happen to be the days I get the highest return visitors, showing that both numbers correlate to overall traffic patterns. Nothing surprising there.
traffic-by-day10
However, if you do something like sorting the report by other metrics, you can extract some pretty interesting data. For example, if I sort by average time on page, I learn that returning (loyal) visitors spend the maximum time on my pages on Thursdays, Sundays and Tuesdays, while new visitors tend to stay on the site the longest over the weekend, from Friday through Sunday.
traffic-by-day11b
This information can be really helpful for targeting those types of readers during the correct days of the week. Offer your loyal readers content that you know they’ll enjoy most on Thursday, while offering new reader-targeted content that might encourage them to become loyal readers, over the weekend.

Another example might be selecting the “Actions per Social Visit” metric, which could reveal the days of the week you’re getting the most social activity on your articles — i.e. the days when people tend to share them the most.
traffic-by-day13
Running through this custom report, I’ve discovered that I get the best share rate on Thursday. This provides me with an opportunity to not only target readers that are more active on social networks during that particular day (posting social network promotions), but it also shows you what other days you may need to work on for increasing social activity on the site.
traffic-by-day14
One last example might be checking how your web server is performing during the week. You can see this by choosing the Avg. Page Load Time metric on the custom report editor.
traffic-by-day15
Sorting by this metric in the “Day of the Week” report reveals that my server really strains on Fridays and Sundays. When this doesn’t correspond directly with traffic, you may want to explore other causes for it, as there could be solutions that could improve page load on those days. Page load has SEO implications for your site, so it’s an important metric to follow (and improve).
traffic-by-day16b
You might even break down the page load metric by the hour, to see what time of day you seem to be having the most issues. Again, this should correspond with traffic.
traffic-by-day17b
When it doesn’t, it’s a clue that you could have other issues going on with the server during those times — maybe you’re on a shared web server and other sites are bogging it down during those times.

Final Notes

As you can see, hourly and daily dimensions can help you break down your website metrics into much more meaningful data. By mixing and matching that data, you can better understand a whole lot about how and when traffic is arriving on your site, and how readers are behaving at different times. You could explore things like the particular days you get specific referral traffic, the hours of the day certain sections of your site tend to perform the best, and so much more.

Do you use hour or day metrics when you explore Google Analytics? If so, what sorts of things have you analyzed and what did it tell you about your site? Share your own experiences and ideas in the comments section below!

Few Friends Or Many: Which Is Best?

Whether one has a small, cozy group of friends or a larger, more boisterous gaggle may depend on individual personalities and circumstances, but new research suggests when deciding which type is best, socioeconomic conditions are key.

"In the age of Facebook, many Americans seem to opt for a broad, shallow networking strategy," write Shigehiro Oishi of the University of Virginia and Selin Kesebir of the London Business School last week in the journal Psychological Science. "Yet, cross-cultural research has shown that having many friends is not always viewed positively outside the United States." (For instance, in Ghana, they noted, an individual who claimed to have more than 50 friends was considered "naïve" and "foolish.")

The researchers suspected social and financial conditions may be at play. For instance, Americans' preference for large social networks may stem from our high mobility; the researchers cite a 2001 study showing roughly half of Americans move their residence in any five-year period. By spreading the love among many friends, we'd minimize the loss from any single friend moving away. In addition, when times are prosperous, having a large group of friends is less likely to weigh one down, since people are less likely to need as much help in good financial times, the researchers note.

"But when times aren't as flush, having more friends might incur huge costs in terms of both time and resources," the duo writes.

To look at the benefits one might receive from friendship circles under various socioeconomic conditions, the researchers created a computer model that simulated individuals who had different numbers and types of friends and the investment needed for each. Their results suggested a small social network with deep ties between pals was beneficial in less mobile societies with unstable economies. Having a broad, shallower network (weaker ties between friends) appeared advantageous in situations where friends were likely to move away, regardless of economics.

Would this pattern hold up in real life? To find out, Oishi and Kesebir recruited 247 individuals with an average age of 31 in an online survey who were asked to list the initials of one very close friend, one close friend and one distant friend. Then, they were asked to distribute 60 points, which represented their time, energy and money, among these friend types. The researchers also looked at census data to figure out how frequently people moved around and for family income in each ZIP code studied.

In areas with less mobility and relatively low income, participants were happier (as measured by three variables on subjective well-being) when they had fewer, yet closer friends compared with a broad social network with weaker ties. [7 Things That Will Make You Happy]

And those Americans in the study living in other socioeconomic conditions — high mobility and rich, low mobility and rich, and high mobility and poor — were happier if they had a broad, shallow social network than if they stuck to a few close friends.

Oishi and Kesebir argue that these two studies provide clear evidence for the role of socioeconomic factors — such as residential mobility and economic security — in determining the most adaptive networking strategy.

"As residential mobility decreases and economic recession deepens in the United States, the optimal social-networking strategy might shift from the broad but shallow to the narrow but deep, even in a nation known best for the strength of weak ties," the researchers write.

Follow LiveScience on Twitter @livescience. We're also on Facebook & Google+.