Sunday, October 28, 2012

Money Saving Houston Plumbing Tips

Houston Plumbing troubles at home are inevitable no matter how much we dread such events to occur. Your sink might completely stop during Christmas, Thanksgiving Day or any special day.
Prevention and Maintenance
Out of busy daily schedules, this aspect of your plumbing can easily be overlooked. Little problems if left unattended can turn into a huge nightmare coupled with bloated expenses. If you see a tap dripping, no matter how small it is, take necessary actions to fix the trouble. You can change the washer or cartridge yourself. If however you are not confident doing the job yourself, call for some help.
Plumbers in Houston at home surely eats a little share of your salary. If you have noticed any part of your plumbing that has been asking for regular repairs, then it is high time that you consider replacing it. Invest wisely. It's way better to spend money and have a well functioning fixture than paying recurring fees for repairs.
Get Referrals and Do Your Own Search
Now we go to finding someone who can help you with your plumbing trouble. If you have friends and families around your area, ask for referrals. Most common than not, they too have their share of some plumbing troubles. If however you are not comfortable with this act, ask Google! You will surely end up with a short list of reputable plumbing companies.
Only Go For Expert Plumbers & Compare Prices
Business around plumbing is very competitive and there are numerous entities offering such services. If you get the first plumber you can find, you may pay more than the regular rate. And please don't be tempted to go for a company simply because of lower price quote. Plumbing system is a fundamental and vital part of your home; quality service should come first before anything else.
Make a Checklist
To maximize your plumber's time, it would be best to check all possible troubles in your plumbing. Remembering another Emergency Houston Plumber trouble after the plumber leaves can be very costly. You will ask for another price quote and set for another appointment. With everything laid out properly, not only will you be able to save money but time as well.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

GET sensible TRICKS FROM on-line TUTORS

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tips for Your Printed Clothing

Printing clothing is a great way to create a personalized look for yourself or for your staff if you run a business. This way you can look more unique and professional, and at the same time you will be able to wear something that serves a purpose and that no one else in the world has an exact copy of.
There are many sites that allow you to make your own printed t shirts and other clothing, and the way most of these works is that you simply order as many t shirts as you want once you've created your image - meaning there are no real overheads.
Still, as useful as these services might be, the quality of your final image is really down to you. Here then we will look at some tips to make sure that your printed t shirts look great and that you don't make any serious errors.
Ensure the Definition is High
If you want your printed t shirts to look good then you need to make sure that you use a high definition image. Otherwise you will find that your t shirts look blurry and hard to make out when the image is spread out and this will make them look low quality. To be on the safe side make your images huge and then just scale them down as needed.
Make Sure They're Central
You will also need to place your image where you want it on the clothing. For t shirts and embroidered hats and most other clothing for that matter you will want this to be the centre most likely. Make sure then that you accomplish this by carefully lining up the image on either side and making sure it's straight. This is even more important if you have multiple images. Like a crooked painting this can otherwise be very annoying to look at.
Ensure You Have the Rights
If you don't have the rights to the image you want on your t shirt that's fine - but make sure that you aren't going to be selling it or using it to promote your business. If you want to make an Optimus Prime t shirt for yourself go ahead, but sell them on eBay and you'll be in a lot of trouble.
Make Them Large
A big mistake when people make their own custom t shirts is often to use just a single very small image in the centre of a large space. This can make the image look 'lost' or as though it's floating, so make sure that you have one that is big enough to fill up the space so that it's more eye catching on the t shirt.
Think About Colours
When you order your t shirt you will be able to order it in any colour, but in order for this to look good you need to make sure that the image you want on it matches the colour that you have as the background. Think about colour schemes and make sure that you don't just slap any picture on any colour.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Top Tips to Make Your Banners Really Stand Out

If you are using printed banners for a tradeshow, stand or other marketing endeavour for your business, then it is crucial that you do everything you can to make them really stand out. After all, making your banners stand out really is the point of using banners in the first place, and if you are using them at something like a tradeshow then you are going to need to make sure that yours can stand out even better so that visitors come to find your stall rather than those of your competitors.
There are many ways you can make your banners stand out, here we will have a look at several of them...
First of all, when you use your printed banners you need to make sure that they are printed in colours that are going to stand out. This means not only using colours that are eye catching on their own, but also using a colour scheme that creates more contrast so that your text stands out against your background for instance. To do this, try and use colours that are at the opposite sides of the colour wheel such as white and black. However this won't always work - and for instance blue and red are two colours you should never use together if you want your banners to stand out.
Consider also the colour of the room you are going to be in - if you want your banners to stand out in a hall then they need to be a contrasting colour when compared to the walls they're hanging on.
Size and Resolution
The size of your banners of course will have a big impact on just how much they stand out, and as a rule the larger the banners are, the better you'll be able to catch the eye with them. Of course though there will be limits to how big you can make your banners and this will be dictated by just how much space you have to display them.
When making printed banners you also need to think about the size of the writing specifically, as this is what people will need to read from a distance - so make sure you maximize the space you have by using large writing that's well centred.
Finally, make sure that the resolution of your banners is high and that the colours are vibrant. This will not only make them stand out, but also make your printed banners look professional. This is a matter of choosing the right company, as well as choosing the right image.
There are various types of banners and they come in various materials - make sure you have the right type for you. If you are outdoors for instance then you will need vinyl banners to avoid water damage, while if there is a lot of glare you should make sure they are also matte so they catch less light. Pop up banners meanwhile are printed banners that stand on the ground rather than hanging and this can be useful for catching attention as people walk past your stall at eye level. These can also be folded down for easier transportation. Make sure you use the correct type of banner for the job.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Top Ways to Customize Your Belongings

Customizing your belongings is a great way to make them more unique and more 'you' and this way you can find that you enjoy them even more and that you feel even warmer towards them. At the same time if you want to give someone a customized gift then this is a great way to give someone something that is not only perfectly tailored to them, but also something that you have shown took time, thought and effort.
Many people don't know how to customize their own things, but this is a real shame bearing in mind how easy it is to do. Here we will look at a few different ways to customize your items...
There are many printing companies on the web that will help you to print your own items, and using these you can print your own printed t shirts, custom banners, embroidered hats and more. All you have to do here is to upload your image to the website, select the product you want, and then order the amount you need. This way you can quickly get lots of great items that have your own design on them in your own colours and ensure that they will look professional. You can also sell these to make a profit and the great thing is that you needn't know anything about embroidery yourself.
Sewing and Embroidery
However if you do know a thing or two about embroidery or can sew then this is a great way to personalize your clothes and at least your material belongings. Take a shirt and embroider a nice logo on it and this will be a perfect gift for people or even a small business you could run through eBay.
As a rule, you unfortunately can't embroider jewellery as it's simply too hard. However what you can do is to get these things engraved which basically means that a name or something else is carefully scratched into the surface. Often this is used to make jewellery for our loved ones with messages like 'I will love you forever' in them.
Physical Alterations
How smug do people look who alter their items in clever ways. For instance the person who turns their laptop bag into a rucksack, or the person who connects a Bluetooth keyboard to their phone with a hinge to make a mini laptop. Well you've got to start somewhere and if you're interested in making your own items more personal then this is a great way to do so - even if you start off with only minor tweaks.
One great way to make a physical alteration is to combine two previous items, and this is even better if you make the other part yourself. Simply learn 3D printing and you can make anything you like in a range of materials - then just use a strong adhesive to add these elements to your existing items.
Another way to alter of course is to remove parts, and this is something a lot of budding fashionistas will do - cutting holes and hemming clothes to make them shorter, more revealing or just more unique.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Top Uses for Custom Clothing

The web allows us to create a vast range of things that otherwise would never have been possible. It's thanks to the web for instance that all kinds of people are now using 3D printing in order to create their own inventions and custom phone covers for instance, and it's thanks to the web and 'Print on Demand' publishing that anyone can now see their name in print and think of themselves as an author who's actually selling books.
Another thing that the web enables us to do, which is pretty impressive when you think about it, is to create our own printed stickers, our own printed t shirts and our own embroidered hats to generally make all of our things personalized or to create corporate gifts and merchandise for our business.
Here custom clothing is perhaps one of the more popular uses for this service, but what are people actually using these sites for? Here are a few uses for custom clothing...
Customer Services
If you run a shop and you want to make your staff look more uniform then what do you need? A uniform of course - and that means you need them all to have a consistent and professional look that makes them easily identifiable as working for your business. Using branded t shirts or embroidered hats is a great way to do this and it will mean the strengthening of your brand as well as making it easy for customers to get the help they need.
Dance Troupes and Stunt Teams
If you are putting on some kind of show or dance, or if you're going to appear on X-Factor as a group, then what you need to stand out is a consistent design that tells people who you are and that makes you more visually a team. A great way to do this is by all wearing matching printed t shirts or embroidered hats.
Web Owners
If you run a website and you are proud of it and want people to ask you about it, then wear a t-shirt with your website name on it and you will find it starts to come up in conversation a little more.
Individual Style
Of course another reason to use embroidered hats and custom t shirts is just so that you can look unique. If you have a strong and personal sense of style an you want to make sure that you stand out from the crowd with clothes that no one else is going to have, then there are few better ways to accomplish this than by wearing your own custom clothing that you had made.
And obviously this is also a great gift to give someone that will be entirely unique and that will show you've put time and effort into coming up with their present.

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Meeting Facilitator Should Come From Outside the Organization

Organizations of all sizes have meetings. These gatherings are a way to get different members of the organization on the same page; and they are also a great way to evaluate current strategies or brainstorm new ones. However, unproductive meetings cause the company to hold even more meetings as resources are continually wasted. By some estimates, the average American worker spends 100 hours per month in meetings. Companies can avoid wasting expensive labor by making a commitment to holding more productive meetings. The best way to make this commitment is by bringing in a meeting facilitator.
When a company works with a facilitator, it sends the message that these meetings will be productive. The first thing that a facilitator will do is sit down with organizational leaders to determine why the meeting is necessary. In some cases, this research might show that a meeting is not the best way to address the problem. When the meeting facilitator determines that this type of gathering will benefit the company, the professional will begin planning the gathering.
A well thought-out meeting is a more productive meeting, so every facilitator will prioritize the planning phase. He or she will work with organizational leaders to outline objectives that need to be met during the meeting. These objectives can then be used to structure the rest of the meeting, by deciding: the types of questions that a facilitator asks, or who is asked to take part in the discussion. Once the facilitator has determined who needs to attend the meeting, he or she should make sure that each individual is able to attend. When a key decision maker is busy, many companies opt to hold the meeting without them, but this is a huge mistake. The end result is that employees will waste time in a meeting that will not produce a final decision.
Next, the meeting facilitator will distribute a summary of the information that he or she has learned. This information might include meeting goals and background information that will be used during the meeting to make decisions. By giving each organizational member access to this information, the facilitator ensures that everyone will be on the same page when the meeting starts.
During the meeting, attendees will understand why it is best to outsource the task of facilitation. The meeting facilitator must: lead the group discussion, ensure that each individual has a chance to speak, and direct the group to discuss certain ideas. A facilitator who comes from within the organization is likely to sway the direction that the discussion takes due to his or her own biases. Additionally, some team members will be reluctant to share thoughts or go against the leader's opinion if they think that they are jeopardizing work relationships. An outside facilitator focuses on the problem at hand, and guides the group to a solution by asking for a consensus and ensuring that everyone is given the chance to speak. This ensures that meetings are more productive, which means that less meetings are necessary in the future.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Commercial Printing Service

Investing in a commercial printing service is a serious endeavor. If you end up choosing the wrong firm, then you can expect to face problems in the future. Not only will your marketing campaign flop but a hefty amount of resources will go to waste too. Hence, you'd better find a printer you can trust.
When searching for a printing company, one of the very first things you must ask about is the kind of lithography they offer. Typically, there are two types of presses you can choose from: web presses and sheet-fed presses. Both of them have their pros and cons.
Web presses are printers which use continuous rolls of paper that's why they're also called roll-feds. The images are impressed on the paper as the machine runs at very high speeds. On the other hand, sheet-fed presses are machines which print onto cut-size sheets. They don't run at high speeds like roll-feds do.
As for the color quality, sheet-fed presses offer more flexibility because they can image sheets a second time to make the colors more prominent. Both presses use different numbers of ink towers though. These towers determine the number of colors that can be used in every printing job.
Typically, a commercial printing company would ensure clients that while web presses can't run the sheet a second time, they can see to it that the quality of the images would be in no way inferior. The operators can set and re-set color registration anyway.
When it comes to stock choices, sheet-fed presses can use a wider variety including those which have heavier weights. Continuous papers are not made as thick since they are designed to run through the press speedily. If you're printing on lightweight sheets, then a web press is definitely ideal. If you want more flexibility in the paper thickness, then a sheet-fed is the better choice.
Generally, when you are hiring a commercial printing service for a small project, utilizing a sheet-fed press would do. Think about company stationery or business cards. These are relatively small jobs which may also require more varied choices in paper and colors. But, if you are eyeing to print a huge amount of materials, then you'd better opt for a web press. It can prove to be more cost-effective in the long run even if it wouldn't offer the same flexibility when it comes to the choices of papers and colors. Roughly, sheet-feds can print up to 14,000 impressions in an hour while web presses can reach over 25,000 impressions.
Finally, web presses can be programmed to fold printing projects like newspapers or magazines. Sheet-fed presses on the contrary, would necessitate additional steps offline to do the folding and the finishing.
These are the pros and cons of using sheet-fed and roll-fed printers.
Depending on what your project requires, the commercial printing service can present which option would be perfect for you. Since you already have a clue of the differences between the two, you now have a good idea of what press would work better. Listen to the printer's additional insights and weigh everything from there.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Management Training Courses

If you're pursuing a career in management, the quality of your education can have a great impact on your overall level of success. Although your chosen school is important, it's also crucial to select management training courses that align with your career goals.
Your Field of Focus
Management encompasses a huge number of disciplines, so it's natural if you're still a bit uncertain about which ones are most relevant for you. Start by thinking about your strong points. Generally, the people who have the most rewarding careers are ones who have taken the time to pair up their strengths with corresponding careers.
If you've always been extremely organised, you may wish to become a manager who assists people in principles of time management. Alternatively, a level-headed personality might set you up to excel in a career path where you assist individuals with tackling excessive stress.
Help accelerate your efforts to choose the correct management training courses by checking to see if there are any advisors at your place of study. Beyond helping you understand where you might be a good fit, these professionals can also let you know about any prerequisite requirements that you might need to be aware of before attempting to enrol.
Valuable Principles
In some cases, people who begin management training courses wind up realising that perhaps they would have been better suited to another option in the course catalogue. If you find yourself in that situation, don't fret. Regardless of the specific subject, all management training courses should centre on some defining principles that will help you in any segment of the field.
You might learn about how to teach your staff to set and achieve goals, keep their motivation high, and prioritise responsibilities. Although it is important to instil those values into anyone you work with during your management career, it's also worthwhile to practise developing them in your own life.
Stay Informed
When you understand the objectives of particular management training courses, you'll feel more at ease in the knowledge that you've chosen the ideal course of study. With that in mind, don't be afraid to ask questions if the instructor discusses something that seems unclear.
Now that you know some of the ways to properly select your management training courses, you'll be well on your way to thriving in your management career.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Composition of Effective Marketing Research Apps

Isn't this what every researcher wants to know - The composition of effective marketing apps? Of course, now that the gift of technology provides us with every way possible in making time consuming, traditional methods into timely and unconventional ones, effectivity becomes the deal breaker.
As a researcher, they need to keep track of respondents. Their responses to the inquiries via recordings or sent messages have to be kept and stored as they formulate theories, solutions or come up with new ideas. Not only should they have easy access to it, but it should be easily organized.
As a respondent, in order for you to participate, you need convenience. You need the resource in order to respond instantaneously. On top of that, you need choices, choices of how you can reply to what is asked of you. The most popular way people interact nowadays is through their smart phones.
Companies have created apps available to anyone with a cellphone, of course the app is applicable to smart phones - both Android and iPhones. Researchers just need to post their queries for respondents to answer in through their phones.
To answer, they can record their thoughts, impressions or opinions in an audio diary as they go about their daily activities. To begin recording they simply need to press a button. In the same way they can upload videos, messages, documents or images helpful in the research. Each respondent's recordings or interaction with the app are stored in their profiles according to the dates and times of postings. Each profile allows the researcher to tag keywords, highlight important ideas as they collect more and more data on a day to day basis.
When respondents reply, they can do it at any time of the day, for as many times as they wish without the need for the researcher's participation. This software is so easy to use it is available to anyone with a mobile phone or land line. If the more people need to view the data collected, the researcher can easily invite others to view them online or form their smart phones.
Most of the features in this app is user-friendly and accessible enough for most people. Although that has been said, companies still has their technical support group ready to assist anyone, from anywhere with whatever technical issue they encounter with their mobile app - again with just the dialing of their number. The company has proactively focused on the convenience of both sides, to enhance effectivity and productivity.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Selling Coins To Your Advantage For Many Reasons

You've heard the stories of someone finding their parents old coin collection in the attic and cashing it in for large sums and you say to yourself, "I wish I could have that luck". In reality you may have valuable coins lying around and you don't even know it. Whether it is pennies, nickels or exotic coin sets, the world of coin collecting is pretty extensive and growing.
It is important when selling your coins to know what exactly you have. There are different ways to judge a coins worth. The Coin Grading, the rarity, the interest in the coin(s) and the liquidity value. There are many different coins and collectors out there but if you have coins to sell the first thing you must does it educate yourself on the product.
Arguably the most important part of determining the value of a coin is Coin Grading which is the condition of the coin. There is an extensive grading scale; Basal State or Poor(PO), Fair(Fr), About or Almost Good(AG), Good(G), Very Good(FG), Fine(F), Very Fine(VF), Extra Fine(EF), Almost or About Uncirculated(AU), Uncirculated(Unc) and the highest, Brilliant Uncirculated(BU). Depending on where your coins fall in this grading system will greatly impact the value of your coin.
Of course another important factor in coin value is how rare it is. First find a reliable coin dealer or numismatist and take your coin(s) to get properly inspected to determine the value and rarity of your product. Once you know what you have and how rare it may be, you can figure out what market to invest time in.
Close to the rarity factor is how much interest your coins have in the open market. This is your basic consumer demand principle, the more collectors searching for that coin or set the more you'll be able to sell it for, while the less people are searching for the coin the less you may get. Now this is not always the case as it depends on the collector and their individual interest in what you have.
Lastly, probably the smallest factor when selling coins the collectors is the liquidity factor, how fast or easily you can sell the coin. For most collectors they prefer to have heir complete sets or collection.
However there is much coin enthusiastic who just want to coin(s) to be able to sell somewhere else, auctions, events etc., you may be able to sell your collection to these types of buyers easier you may not get the complete worth of your coin(s). Other than the collectable coin sets there are Gold and Silver Bullion which are strictly meant for their liquidity value. These are used as investment pieces rather than collectables.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Program Business

Any business can create their own referral reward program with just a few minor tweaks to current referral ideas and plans. As with any business plan, creating your own referral reward program should be shared with all of your employees to keep everyone on the same page and working towards similar goals.
What You Will Need
To create your own referral reward program you will need no more than a computer and a spreadsheet program.
How to Create a Referral Reward Program
Gather your employees for a brainstorming session. Determine which types of rewards you want to offer to your referring customers. Types of referral awards can include:
- Cash or Check Rewards
- Discount Rewards
- Store Credit Rewards
- Reward Point Systems
If you are planning to go with a reward points system, create a list of prizes or merchandise you would like to offer at specific point levels.
Tracking and Identification Systems
Make sure you have a plan of action that includes a tracking system for customers who refer others. If your business is a small one a simple spreadsheet may do the trick. Once your business grows you may want to consider a large CMS system that can help you to implement your referral reward program. Add your referrers to the spreadsheet by their last name and then their first. Since you may have referrers who are family and share the last name, be sure to flag or list them as individuals so the program doesn't suffer any setbacks once it comes time for rewards.
Have a whiteboard or poster board created that lists all the rewards of your referral reward program. Make sure you have listed:
- Terms and Conditions
- How Long the Program will Last
- Rewards Offers
- Different Point-Value Systems
- Cash Offerings for Referrals
- Leading Referrers
Not only should you reward your referrers, but it can also be a great idea to show who your top referrers are. Often this can create a competitive atmosphere that will encourage even more referrals.
Share the Program
Make sure any of your employees that have direct customer contact will mention your referral programs as often as possible without overdoing it. If possible, have a punch card for them to share when they successfully refer a new consumer. This will give each referrer a positive reinforcement detail that is hard to ignore. As the card is checked or punched, each referrer receives not only the referral rewards program incentives, but also a hardcopy showing their own progress in your program.
Make sure your referral reward program is generous yet simple enough to easily encourage participation and not overly difficult to understand or expensive enough to result in serious monetary loss for your business. A referral rewards program should increase your business as well as widen your consumer base. If you find your bottom line doing a back peddle, it may be time to review what part of your rewards program seems to be causing the disparity.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Clinical Chemistry Analyzers for Labs

Clinical chemistry analyzers play an important role in modern clinical laboratories. Automated analyzers are indispensable for conducting routine diagnostic blood tests or tests on blood samples taken from patients who need urgent attention. Accurate and quick results from the chemical analysis of body fluids helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions without delay. Blood samples are analyzed to identify chemistry analytes such as magnesium, albumin, bilirubin, creatinine, calcium, uric acid, inorganic phosphorus, urea nitrogen (bun), glucose, and iron. Assays can be provided for analytics such as thyroid, therapeutic drug, lipid, electrolyte, drugs of abuse, and so on.
There are different models of chemistry analyzers available in the market. Here are some tips on how to make the right choice.
How to find the perfect clinical chemistry analyzer
The different types of chemistry analyzers available include automatic, semi-automatic and manual modes. Going by the following guidelines can help with choice:
- Shortlist a few leading online stores selling medical equipment
- Check and compare quality of the analyzer, load capacity, ease of use, durability, and price
- Ensure that the product can provide accurate and consistent results within a short time
- The medical equipment you are going to purchase should have good after sales service, technical support and warranty
- Chemistry laboratory equipment that requires minimum maintenance is ideal.
- The chemistry lab equipment should be designed to comply with standard rules and regulations.
- Check specifications of the analyzer to make sure it meets your lab's requirements.
Also, consider general product features like graphical display, operator control panel, printer, dispense station, space for holding blood sampling tubes, and so on. Advanced models come with features such as automatic self diagnostics monitoring, automatic calibration and automatic zero setting.
Purchase from a Reliable Medical Lab Equipment Supplier
The popular brands in chemical analyzers are Alfa Wasserman, Bayer, Beckman, Dade, Mindray, Olympus, Elan Diagnostics and Roche Diagnostics. Top chemistry laboratory equipment suppliers will have a vast inventory featuring various brands and models. Purchase from an online store is ideal as it is easy to check out the various products. A reliable supplier would provide guidance to help you choose the right device. Moreover, online lab stores typically supply quality equipment with proper warranty at prices below regular. This will ensure that you get the best deal. If you have serious budget constraints, buy your chemistry analyzer from a medical equipment supplier that offers recertified products which work as well as new, but are priced lower.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Qualities of a Strong and Durable Roof

There are no doubts that, a plethora of homeowners have various roofing material choices to select from. As such, it is important for any homeowner to do thorough research in order to come with the best roofing material. One way of doing this is by, looking at the qualities the roofing material has to offer. Remember, looking at the qualities will ensure that you come up with a strong and durable roof that will serve you for a very long period of time. While this is the case, it is important to exercise a lot of caution when doing this so that you make an informed choice in the long run. There are various roof types and as such, take time to check out the qualities each has to offer before making a choice.
- Good Insulation: It is important to check out the good insulation quality in order to come up with a perfect roof. Check out for a roof that will provide you with good insulation. For instance, a roof made from wood will provide you with this quality.
- Resistant to Weather Elements: A strong and durable roof should have the quality of resisting various weather elements. Examples of these weather elements include rain, wind and even snow. As such, choose a roof that you know will not easily be destroyed by such weather elements no matter what. If the roof is attacked by these weather elements, it can end up decaying and warping which is mostly due to sunlight and moisture.
- Energy Efficient: A strong and durable rood should have the quality of retaining more energy. This means that the roof you have should keep heat from passing into your home especially during summer and later on let it out of your home during winter. This in turn will keep your home at room temperature and this will make you live comfortably along with your family.
- Fire Resistant: A strong and durable roof should have the quality of resisting fire. We all know that fire is good but can become a bad master in the long run. As such, it is important to have a roof that will not easily be destroyed by fire so that it can last longer. This in turn will ensure that you take a long period of time before you can think of making any replacements.
- Texture and Color: It is believed that a strong and long lasting roof should have a perfect texture quality. There are some roofs that are very soft and when something falls on them, they get destroyed easily. As such, it is important to ensure that you have a roof that will withstand heavy objects dropped on them without getting destroyed. In addition to this, ensure that the roof has an appealing color that is not applicable to other roofs. Choose a color that will reflect light but not absorbing heat making your home hot even when it is not necessary.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Repairing Your Roof

We have no control over any of nature's fury, especially if it hits us unexpectedly, such as heavy rain, storm and snow. When this happens, a lot of destruction is done and mainly on our roofs requiring us to repair them as soon as possible. Regardless of whether the roof is homemade or professionally made, it is important to ensure that it is made secure in order to provide you with security as well as a peace of mind. Repairing your roof should satisfy all the important needs of providing protection from nature's fury. There are essential repairing qualities that you need to consider before you can start your repair. For instance, durability, wind resistance and water tightness among others. Keep in mind that, even a small leak if left for a long period of time can become dangerous in the long run. In case you cannot do this on your own, it is important to have a professional check your roof structure as soon as possible to make the needed repair. Read on to learn more about repairing your roof and protecting it from nature's fury.
- Firstly, it is important to inspect your roof structure to determine whether it needs any repairing. There are some roofs that do not show any signs of repair as long as you inspect them yourself. As such, this is the main step that you need to do first before anything else. You can use a ladder set up on a ground that is even and then climb up to the roof in order to make the inspection correctly.
- Identify the main areas on the roof that require repair. You can use a marker that is conspicuous to make the specific areas especially if they are leaks. Ensure that you have done the same on the entire roof before you can climb down from the ladder. The main aim of doing this is that, it will help in making your roofing repair easy. Remember, the main aim here is to ensure that the repair you do on your roof will protect you from any nature's fury no matter how destructive it may be.
- Determine the roofing material used for your roof. Remember, there are several roofing types readily available in the market niche today. As such, ensure that you have identified the roof type that you have e.g. shingles, wood, glass and metal among others. This way, you will be able to purchase the roof type material that you will use in repairing your material. If your roof is entirely damaged, you will have to measure the roof type that will cover the entire home.
- Put the roof type on the areas that need repair and then use the adhesive that can hold them strongly together. For instance, if the roofing material is metallic, you will require nails in order to nail it through the metal. At times, you may be required to use cement on the exposed areas underneath the metal to ensure there is durability even when a strong wind blows.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

An Overview of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing - we hear the term almost daily. But really, just what is cloud computing all about? That seems to be a common question. In June of this year, TELUS and IDC Canada released a study on cloud computing which surveyed 200 Canadian business and IT executives and directors at large Canadian companies (500+ employees) across a range of industry sectors. The study found that 63% of Canadian companies surveyed did not have enough or had only a base level of knowledge to make decisions on whether to use a cloud service or their internal IT department.
A recent article from also indicates that there is a great deal of confusion about cloud computing. The article makes reference to a recent study commissioned by Citrix Systems which included more than 1000 adults in the U.S. The study showed that most respondents thought that the cloud is related to weather. 51% of respondents thought that the weather could interfere with cloud computing. Despite the confusion, the study also found that 97% of participants are using cloud services today with examples including on-line banking, shopping, social networks and file sharing. Further, 59% of respondents indicated that they believe that the "workplace of the future" will be in the cloud which is somewhat contradictory to the prevalence of cloud computing today.
This insight above mirrors what we find amongst our own clients. Knowledge of cloud computing is relatively limited and as a result, organizations may be missing out on significant opportunities to make their business stronger by reducing cost and risk. Our hope is that this article provides insight into cloud computing to help you to assess its fit for your business requirements.
What is cloud computing?
First of all, it's useful to understand where the term cloud computing came from. It most likely originated from the use of a cloud image to represent a networked computing environment or the internet.
A quick Google search will reveal a number of definitions for cloud computing. I like a definition I picked up from Wikipedia which defines cloud computing as the delivery of computing as a service whereby shared resources, software and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility, similar to the electricity grid, over a network which is most often the internet.
What are the various cloud computing models?
To sort out some of the confusion around cloud computing, it is helpful to understand the various cloud service models, of which there are three - software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS).
SaaS is the most widely known flavour of cloud service. SaaS is sometimes referred to as on demand software. With SaaS, software and its associated data are centrally hosted and are typically accessed over the internet using a browser. What are some examples of SaaS? MailChimp, the application we use to distribute our newsletters, is an example. Google Apps is another example as is Dropbox, and the list continues to expand.
PaaS provides the delivery of a computing platform and required solutions to facilitate the deployment of applications without having to invest in the cost and complexity of hardware and software. Some examples of PaaS include Microsoft Azure and Google's App Engine.
The IaaS service model allows clients to avoid the procurement of servers, software, data centre space and network equipment. Such resources are provided as a fully outsourced service. Examples of IaaS include Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud and Rackspace.
In addition to the various cloud service models, it's useful to understand the delivery models through which cloud computing is distributed. The main delivery models include public, private, community and hybrid.
A public cloud offers infrastructure and solutions to the general public and is typically owned by a large organization that sells cloud services.
A private cloud is designed solely for one organization. A private cloud may be managed by the organization which uses it, or by a third party, and the infrastructure may be located on the site of the cloud user or elsewhere.
A community cloud is shared by several organizations and supports a community of users, usually with some common interest, such as regulatory concerns.
A hybrid cloud model consists of two or more clouds, for example a public and private cloud, bound together by technology to facilitate data sharing and portability. Egnyte, a file storing and sharing service, is an example of a hybrid cloud computing solution.
What are some benefits of cloud computing?
Earlier this year I participated in a webinar that featured a round table of CFO's commenting on what they believed to be the major benefits of cloud computing. The benefits cited included the following:
  • Cost savings over on-site installations
  • Anywhere anytime access through an Internet connection
  • Reduced dependency on IT support
  • Cloud solutions are most often faster to deploy than on-site solutions
  • Cloud solutions typically enables organizations to buy into a bigger product with much more functionality which would be cost prohibitive if similar functionality was acquired through a non-cloud on-site solution
  • IT can focus more on value-add activities as opposed to managing IT infrastructure because infrastructure management shifts to the cloud provider
  • Cloud solutions typically contribute to the following:
    • More timely financial information
    • Optimizing business processes
    • Connecting with employees and enabling staff to work remotely
What are some of the risks and concerns associated with cloud computing?
Not withstanding the benefits, there are a number of common concerns associated with cloud computing. It is very important to carefully consider risks that could impact your sensitive information, no matter whether you are evaluating cloud or on-site solutions. In doing so, it is also important to evaluate risks associated with cloud solutions in the context of similar risks you could face with your own on-site alternatives.
The most common concern is security. For most small and medium-sized organizations, security with cloud solutions is often better than on-site solutions because reputable cloud solution providers can invest in the skill sets and capabilities to address emerging and evolving threats. Many small and mid-size organizations rely on part-time IT support or have no dedicated IT support at all. This combined with constantly evolving IT risks, would tend to suggest that most small and medium organizations just can't keep up with threats to their information assets. To address security concerns, a reputable cloud provider should be able to provide assurance relevant to the following:
  • Access to data - There should be a rigid authentication process that all users should go through to access their data
  • Transmission - Data should be encrypted as it travels from your local site to the cloud service provider
  • Network - Strong security should be in place to protect the cloud provider's network
  • Physical access - The cloud provider should be able to demonstrate solid controls over physical access to its facilities where your data will reside
  • Data security -The cloud provider should be able to provide assurance that your data is encrypted when it is "at rest" in the cloud
  • Privacy and Compliance - Your cloud provider should be able to provide assurance that it can protect the privacy of your information and comply with relevant standards and legislation that may be relevant to your organization.
Availability of cloud solutions is another concern. It is relevant to assess the impact of a cloud solution becoming unavailable due to circumstances such as an internet outage or a technical failure by the cloud provider. Again such concerns should be analyzed in the appropriate context. Internet outages, especially elongated outages, tend to be uncommon. Reputable cloud providers can most often demonstrate very high levels of uptime performance, and if problems occur, skilled resources are available to address them. How does such a scenario compare with similar risks associated with your on-site alternative? What is your experience with downtime with on-site solutions and can you get timely 24/7 support if you have a critical problem? Availability risks can also be mitigated with the use of a hybrid cloud model. Egnyte was referred to previously as an example of a hybrid cloud model for file sharing and storage. With this option, should the internet go down, you can still have a local copy of your data available.
Access to data is raised as a concern in two contexts. One is how can I get my data back if I leave my cloud supplier. Another is what will happen if my cloud supplier goes out of business. An answer to such questions should be readily available from your cloud supplier and should be specified in your end user agreement. It is most important to consider what format your data will be available in if you seek to get it back from your cloud supplier. Consider for example that if you use a cloud based accounting solution, your data might not be provided back to you in the same format in which you entered it.
One last consideration to think about is data backups. In our experience with smaller organizations, it is not uncommon to find no backup routines or problems with them, such as backups not being stored off site or restoration from back-ups not being tested. Reputable cloud solutions reduce this risk and in fact, many cloud providers have multiple back-up locations in case there is a failure at a particular site.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Right Merchant Services Provider

So you are ready to start accepting credit cards as a form of payment for your business or you are just looking to get a rate evaluation to make sure you are being competitively priced from your current provider. No matter the reason that you are looking for a merchant services provider you will be faced with a number of challenges.
Choosing the right merchant service provider can make all the difference in the world to your business. There are literally hundreds of companies advertising everything from super low rates to "the best" customer service. How do you know which one will be best for you? Here are some important points to consider.
1. Pricing and/or Rates
Pricing makes the top of the list of things to consider when working with a new merchant services provider for obvious reasons. It can be extremely difficult to assess whether or not you are competitively priced because pricing can change dramatically for merchants depending on business type, card present vs card not present, E-Commerce vs Retail, Etc. The only way to be sure that you are getting good pricing is to ask multiple providers and then pick the one that is offering the best rates.
2. Service
Another vital issue is customer service and support. If you have a problem running a credit card and a customer is standing right in front of you will you be able to get somebody on the phone in a timely manner to assist? What if you have an issue late at night? Does the provider offer 24/7 support? Is the support outsourced or in house? Customer service in many cases is the number one reason a customer will choose a provider that is even more expensive than their competition. If customer service is very important to you, make sure you get every detail.
3. Funding Options
Some providers will deposit your funds in 24 hours, some take 48 hours, and American Express takes three days. If you need next day funding make sure you find out if the provider offers it before signing a contract. If you need the funds deposited into one account and the fees taken out from another it is also important to make sure you know if the provider is capable of doing that. Some can and some can't. Be sure to find out everything when it comes to when and where you can expect your money.
4. Equipment
Does the service provider offer free equipment? If so, make sure you ask about the first issue, Pricing! A lot of providers will offer free equipment but give you higher pricing to compensate for it. If they do not offer free equipment keep in mind that the average credit card terminal will cost around $200-$250. Another issue concerning equipment is compatibility. Does the provider offer services that will allow you to accept credit cards on your smart phone? Is the equipment PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant? Is the equipment under warranty? Again, the more information you have the better you will be equipped to make the right decision.
5. Contracts
The industry standard is usually a one year contract. Be sure to find out exactly how long you will be locked in to a contract and what would be the costs associated with breaking the contract. Early cancellation fees can range from $0 to literally staggering numbers. Read your contract thoroughly! Again, some providers will offer no term contracts with no cancellation fees. Keep in mind that they may be jacking up your rates to compensate for all the work that goes in to underwriting and accepting the risk of processing cards for your business.
6. Point of Sale System Support
If you are using a Point of Sale system it is very important to find out if the merchant services provider offers support for it. Some POS systems are only supported by specific processors and some charge huge fees for switching the processor that you have on record (Especially if the POS system is provided by the processor itself). Make sure you know exactly what the cost would be with switching your software and find out who is going to pay for it. You may be able to negotiate the fees with the provider depending on how badly they want your business!
7. Reputation
Make sure that whoever you decide to do business with is a reputable company. More importantly make sure that there are no complaints posted all over the internet about the company. You will find that when a customer has a bad experience they will post about it in multiple places so if there is a complaint about the company you should be able to find it rather easily. Keep in mind that the size of a company is not as important as the service it provides and the cost of the service. Sometimes a smaller company is a better option to do business with because they are more eager to have your business and will offer better pricing because of low overhead.
These are the most important factors to consider when setting up a new merchant account. Whether you are shopping for better rates or setting up for the first time obtain every piece of information that you possibly can. The more information you have about a company and its services the more educated of a decision you will be able to make.