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Getting Your Home Ready for Renters

Posted By: on July 20, 2014
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With the real estate market still sluggish in many areas, you may have decided to take your home off the market and rent it out instead of wasting more time and money trying to sell. Others may decide to hold on to an inherited house and turn it into a rental property. No matter your motivation for becoming a landlord, there are plenty of steps you can take to ensure your experience goes as smoothly as possible.

Check Everything for Safety

When you rent out a home, you open yourself to liability in case of an accident or emergency. While most renters will overlook a shaky banister or an electrical outlet that doesn’t work, a home without fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and an up-to-code breaker box is not ready to be rented. Take care of safety features to protect yourself and your tenants.

Establish What You Will and Will Not Accept

While it is completely unacceptable to discriminate based on matters of race or religious affiliation, it’s up to you to establish your own policies regarding pets, parking, smoking, whether or not the renter may plant a garden and whether the tenants may paint. Think these issues through and add your decisions into the lease agreement.

Consult a Lawyer for Your Lease

Plenty of landlords print off a random, template form they found on the Internet to have the tenants sign. This can buy you a truckload of trouble. In some jurisdictions, if one section of the lease is illegal, the entire document can become void. If your lease doesn’t address late fees or damage deposits for pets, your tenant may rightly refuse to pay them. It’s worth paying for one hour of a lawyer’s time just to make sure your lease is fair and legal.

Insure Your Property

Your homeowner’s policy might not offer enough coverage if you are renting out a house. Your tenants can insure their belongings through a renter insurance policy, but you will need additional coverage. Read the list of exclusions carefully and make sure you agree with the terms before you sign for the policy.

Consider a Residential Property Management Firm

If your rental is in Houston and you live in Dallas, who is going to drive over there at 3 a.m. when the toilet clogs? A residential property firm can handle everything from finding tenants to performing maintenance to collecting rent. If you’ve never been a landlord before or are nervous about repairs and maintenance, a management firm is an excellent solution.

Polish and Shine the Home

If you don’t have the time or energy to spend a day or two deep-cleaning the house, consider hiring a cleaning firm to give it a good scrub and polish. The house should be immaculate. If it’s dirty or dusty, potential renters may wonder what other maintenance you’ve let slip. Also, make sure the landscaping is tended.

If you’re considering renting out your house, these are just a few of the issues you need to handle before placing an ad. Be sure to do your research on every step of the process before proceeding to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

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Worst Customer Service Responses Ever

Posted By: on July 17, 2014
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The customer is always right? Not according to these numerous (and very real) complaints from customers about how they were treated when they reached out to a company for help. While Comcast is being blasted after a recorded conversation went viral, unfortunately that particular interaction isn’t exactly an anomaly. It just happens to be one of the few that the customer, instead of the CS rep, recorded.

Working in customer service can be tough, which is why proper and regular training should be a requirement. Otherwise, you might end up with one of these nightmarish employees working for you and driving away customers. These responses might be a bit extreme and not everyday fodder, but it’s a reminder of just how flippant people can be about their jobs (and the reputation of their company).

1. “What do you want me to do about it?”

There’s a huge difference between this response and something like, “How can I help you resolve this?” When worded the former way, as was reported by a customer who called in to an IT help desk, it certainly sounds like a snarky teen asking a rhetorical question. “It has to be something you did,” was the attempted “backing up” from this employee who probably needs some serious training.

2. “You’re stupid.”

There’s simply no talking your way out of this one. This response was reported (perhaps unsurprisingly) by a Comcast customer when calling to ask what the difference packages included since there was no description beyond things like “Extended Package.” The CS rep then hung up, effectively losing a customer for good.

3. “That’s our policy and I’m not connecting you with our supervisor.”

This was the response from an Anathema representative as reported by a customer who says he’s doesn’t judge companies that make mistakes, but he does judge them by how they resolve (or not) those mistakes. That kind of stubbornness is actually pretty easy to prove simply by jotting down the time of the call since most big companies record conversations.

4. “Maybe you should see a doctor about these new symptoms.”

This was the response from a pharmacy technician after a customer complained about her prescription not being filled after two weeks of waiting. Of course, these symptoms were “new” because she couldn’t get her medication due to pharmacy errors.

Sometimes there’s no “service” in the customer service at all.

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TopCultured Legends

Amazing Japanese Glass Ball Performer

Posted By: on August 18, 2010

This dudes name is Okotanpe and was seen hanging out in Yoyogi park in Harajuku, Tokyo He has clearly practiced this art of “contact juggling” a lot. It’s super soothing to watch and the music Read On »

Gangnam Baby or Angry Baby

Posted By: on November 9, 2012

If you are look for something that will make you smile today, than you have just hit the jackpot. It is never easy to know how to comfort a crying baby for it’s not always Read On »

The Most Incredible DUI Arrest You’ll Ever See

Posted By: on January 11, 2011

This has to be the funniest, most insane DUI arrest ever. If this doesn’t define redneck, I don’t know what does. “Come and git me….how ’bout that. Maybe I’ll come down…maybe I won’t…come and git Read On »

Enhancing Your Online Product Presentation

Posted By: on July 11, 2014
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Businesses can get so caught up with the presentation of their products and services in retail locations that they wind up neglecting their digital presence. While your product display in brick and mortar stores does play a significant role in sales success, you must also turn a careful eye toward your online branding. Many consumers who are unable to access your wares through traditional shops will conduct research and make purchases online instead. You shouldn’t leave these audiences out, since they play a significant role in your company’s success. Here are a few ways to revamp your online product presentation strategy.

Professional Photography

Your company’s reputation often hinges on the quality of your graphical assets. If your products are poorly represented with low-resolution images, then your brand identity can suffer. Get inspired by looking at the official product catalogs of name-brand companies. Product photos are often clean and crisp, showcasing the product and its features with optimal lighting, angles, and color settings. You also should strive for accuracy. Never post misleading images on your product pages, because this can break your customers’ trust. These images will come to be associated with your brand identity, helping prospective buyers search for and track products down.

Quality Copy

Your content strategy is also extremely important. Customers in traditional retail spaces often look to product demos and sales associates as resources when they have questions. However, online shoppers will often skim through web content to find answers. If they cannot get the information they need right away, they will most likely leave your website to find a product description with more detail. Your product descriptions should be succinct, with comprehensive lists of product features and quirky details. Think about the types of questions your customers have about these products and strive to provide answers on the product description page.

Navigation

Winning images and content can be a lost cause if your website offers a clunky user interface and navigation experience. Customers should be able to move between product descriptions effortlessly and make their purchases quickly. Consult with branding experts to create effective product listings that make it easy for customers to learn about your company’s offerings.

Your brand image online should be prioritized just like your retail product presentation in brick and mortar storefronts. Professional product images, quality descriptions, and easy-to-navigate listings can make all the different for your online shoppers. It’s time to revamp your product catalogues and increase your company’s online sales.

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Greg

Oreo’s Teeny Mini

Posted By: on July 10, 2014
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In the most mini mini-mart ever, there lies the biggest of secrets. Oreo’s miniest of minis has made itself known. Have yourself an Oreo mini with no regrets. Enjoy the taste guilt-free, your mind will be blown.

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4 Ways Cyclists Can Practice Defensive Riding

Posted By: on July 8, 2014
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This summer, you might be tempted to hit the road with your bicycle and soak in some Vitamin D. Or maybe you’re already a seasoned road warrior, who already rides a bike in rain or shine. The main thing to keep in mind when you are sharing the road with cars is defensive riding. The risk of injury or even death is very real, especially when you’re surrounded by vehicles that way upwards of 4,000 pounds, on average. Here are a few defensive riding techniques to keep you safe on the road.

Don’t Wear Headphones

As cyclists move through traffic, they rely on a wide range of sensory input to maneuver safely past cars. Wearing headphones can prevent you from hearing a car screeching out of control in your direction in time. Additionally, audio can lead to cycling distractions, which reduce your reaction times significantly. Remain aware of your surroundings by avoiding earphones during your next ride.

Watch for Open Doors

Most cyclists ride in the far right side of a lane, which causes them to pass parked cars on a regular basis. Keep an eye out for front seat passengers preparing to open their doors. You might be required to slow down or even stop if someone suddenly opens a car door without seeing you. Try to give parked cars enough space so that you aren’t hit by a door that is opened quickly.

Be Visible

A study conducted by Queensland University demonstrates that cyclists tend to overestimate their level of visibility on the road. According to road experiments, wearing reflective knee, ankle, and vest gear provides bikers with the optimal amount of visibility, allowing drivers to see cyclists and avoid hitting them. Reflective clothing can be more effective than wearing bright colors, especially in low light settings.

Follow the Rules of the Road

Read your local DMV driving manual to get a better sense of the road rules and cyclist laws in your area. Following your local road laws can decrease your risk of being hit by a car. If you witness a road accident, take note of the vehicles involved, including the model and license plates of the cars. Assess the damage and contact the authorities and/or emergency services.

Cycling can be an extremely fun and healthy past time, allowing you to get in shape while commuting to a new destination. However, there are risks associated with sharing the road with cars. Remain aware during your commute, follow the rules of the road, and stay safe out there!

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New Data Storage Technologies In Competition

Posted By: on July 6, 2014
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data storage

In the past four years, questions concerning the future of computing have largely focused on what form the future of data processing technology will take. This is because of the predicted “memristor revolution.” While today’s high-storage Flash drives and DRAM drives can store large amounts of data, they do this by taking advantage of software. However, most industry experts expect that the remaining design space for purely software-based designs is limited, and that significant hardware changes will have to take place within the next five years. Leaders in the industry have developed three possible directions in which this wave of innovation could move. As a result, all are betting on different technologies.

1. Stacked Chips–The Hybrid Memory Cube

Without a doubt the simplest solution to the potential memory ceiling, Micron’s Hybrid Memory Cube will be able to process data much faster than modern day storage devices by stacking chips in cubes instead of laying them flat in a motherboard. This allows for far more storage space in a smaller package with innovative material use and clever placement, meaning an overall 70 percent reduction in energy use compared to today’s leading motherboard designs. While HMC memory storage does have a number of downsides, chief among them that HMC chips cannot store data while the CPU is turned off, they are expected to hit the market much sooner than HP and Microsoft’s solutions.

2. Memristors–Hewlett Packard’s “Machine”

When HP began work on their “Machine Project” years ago, information was scarce and company officials tight-lipped on the nature of the project. With the release of a recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek, HP went public with the details. The Machine is a new physical computing infrastructure designed to take advantage of memristor technology. Working with unfathomably tiny nanoscale mini-chips, HP hopes to pack an unprecedented amount of data storage into an ever-shrinking space. This requires a lot of associated support and software including new operating systems capable of managing the increased data flow. As such, we are unlikely to see The Machine put into action until at least 2017.

3. Quantum Computing

Meanwhile, Microsoft is playing an even longer game than Hewlett Packard with extensive research into Quantum Computing. As detailed by a New York Times interview with Craig Mundie, one of the company’s top executives, Quantum computing is the application of quantum physics to data storage. Where traditionally computers store data as a collection of 1′s and 0′s, a hypothetical quantum computer will be able to use qubits to simultaneously represent 0 and 1 values. The details are extremely technical for anyone not working in physics, but the applications will be clear as day to virtually anyone. Where today’s laptops store perhaps 500GB of data on their hard drives on average, a theoretical quantum laptop would be able to store hundreds of times as much data. However, this is far in the future and Microsoft hasn’t put even the most tentative date on when such technology might be available.

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Is Life Insurance Really Essential?

Posted By: on July 5, 2014
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Benefits Life Insurance

 

Life insurance is a contract between the policy holder and the insurer in which the holder of the policy pays a predetermined premium in exchange for a benefit upon death. Some policies trigger payments for terminal illnesses or offer additional coverage for funeral costs. A person can also purchase an insurance policy for someone else, so the insured and the policy holder aren’t necessarily the same person. If you’ve been wondering whether life insurance is essential to your financial health, these guidelines can help you decide which type of life insurance policy is best for your situation and peace of mind.

Types of Life Insurance

According to this article from CNN, there are two main types of life insurance policies. Term life insurance policies are purely insurance and typically expire at a predetermined age. Whole life insurance is a combination investment and insurance package. If you run into dire financial straits, your whole life policy may be able to be cashed out for the premiums you’ve already paid less taxes and fees.

Life Insurance Caveats

If you have a chronic or terminal illness, you may have a difficult time finding a life insurance policy. If you do find an insurer who is able to cover you, the premiums could be a considerable amount of money due to the risk that you pose. According to this article from The Nest, whole life insurance policy premiums may cost up to 10 times as much as term life premiums. However, whole life policies may grow faster and provide your family with a significant sum of money upon your death.

Who Should Consider a Life Insurance Policy?

Few people want to think about death. However, just like taxes, death is an inevitable part of living. Anyone with dependents should consider purchasing life insurance, explains this article from Fox Business. This is especially true while you’re providing the financial support for those dependents. Once your children are grown, they may not need your financial backing as much but you may still desire to leave them with a nest egg or leave your grandchildren an inheritance. If you don’t have dependents, you may wish to purchase insurance to cover the cost of your funeral expenses or leave the funds in the policy to your favorite charity. According to this article on Cigna.com, NZ insurance companies offer income insurance to reduce the economic burden of a job loss, illness or accident.

Making Sure Your Coverage Meets Your Needs

Life changes and so should your life insurance coverage, explains this article courtesy of WATE.com. If you’ve had more children, divorced or experienced another life-changing event, you’ll want to contact your insurer to review your coverage. If you’ve purchased a home, car or valuable piece of jewelry or art, you may want to bundle those insurance packages with the same insurance provider to save on premiums through package discounts.

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Eat less, Move More, Get Fit

Posted By: on July 5, 2014
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If you are not satisfied with your weight or energy level and are not able to get around as well as you used to, maybe you should think about your eating and exercise habits. Many of the problems people face with physical health is related to unhealthy eating and sedentary lifestyles. High blood pressure, diabetes and other chronic conditions can be brought on by eating the wrong types of food and a lack of physical activity. Making lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of developing these chronic conditions and, at the very least, it can be a means of postponing the onset of such illnesses according to the Centers for Disease Control. See to learn more.

Move More Throughout the Day

Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity every day. This will aid in burning calories. Start with something easy such as walking for 10 or 15 minutes a couple of times a day. The more you walk the easier it will become and before long, you will develop a new healthy habit that will help you burn excess calories and feel better. If you are under a doctor’s care or think physical activity such as walking might be a problem, talk with your health care provider before engaging in an exercise program. If you have had a hip replacement surgery, make sure your hip will not cause problems for you.

Change Your Eating Habits

It is easy to fall into poor eating habits. If your schedule is extremely busy, you might find that you grab fast food, high-calorie snacks and calorie laden drinks when you get hungry. A steady diet of these types of food will lead to steady weight gain. It’s easy to make little changes that can yield big results. The following are some suggestions for getting back on the right track with healthy eating.

Drink More Water and Fewer Sugary Drinks

Soft drinks and other drinks containing sugar will pile on the calories and the weight. What you may not realize is that you can easily consume more than 1,000 calories per day in drinks alone, especially if you never drink water. Water is good for the body because it is calorie free, filling and it can also flush out extra fluid. Adding a lemon or lime wedge to a glass of water is a way to create a refreshing drink that your body will crave, and you won’t miss the colas once you become accustomed to water.

Fill Half of Your Plate with Healthy Vegetables and Fruit

Vegetables are low in fat, high in fiber and loaded with vitamins and minerals that keep the body functioning. Healthy vegetables are those that are closest to their whole forms. For example, rather than baking your broccoli with canned soup, cheese and breadcrumbs, steam it and add a spritz of lemon juice. You’ll cut the sodium, fat and calories. Green beans, asparagus and Brussels sprouts can be drizzled with a little olive oil and roasted in the oven. Roasting gives vegetables a rich, earthy flavor without adding calories. Using healthy oil like olive oil when roasting vegetables adds heart-healthy fat to the diet. Fruit, like vegetables should be part of a low-calorie eating plan.

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Information for Managing Nocturnal Enuresis

Posted By: on July 4, 2014
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Nocturnal enuresis is a regular health issue among many children and adolescents. The disorder is commonly referred to as “bed-wetting.” For centuries little was actually known on how to combat the problem, as physicians have normally explained to parents that children will grow out of it by adulthood unless there is a more severe medical condition impacting inability to control the bladder. Luckily, advances in contemporary medical research have resulted in new information and products that can help doctors diagnose and treat the problem, while giving parents and children a reasonably effective regimen for coping. Enuresis alarm is no longer a medical issue that parents are generally advised to let run its course.

What is Nocturnal Enuresis?

Nocturnal enuresis is one of three types of enuresis. Diurnal enuresis is more severe and the inability to control the bladder can occur at any time. In addition, some children suffer from both forms of the disease, which can raise concern that there is an underlying medical issue involved. Nocturnal enuresis occurs when the children are unable to clamp the flow of urine from the bladder specifically during the sleep cycle. Given that there are three basic parts of the sleep cycle, it is unclear which cycle is the most prevalent when the disorder manifests. Sleep cycle research has revealed that the disorder rarely manifests in the initial sleep cycle. The occurrences are more prevalent in the deeper sleep cycles, with neither the second or third cycle having a specific frequency indicator.

What Causes Nocturnal Enuresis?

There are several reasons the condition occurs in certain children. There is significant evidence indicating the disorder can be congenital when family histories show an inability to control the bladder during sleep. General urology research has shown that 43 percent of children experience the problem if one parent had the same problem, and the rate of occurrence increases to 77 percent when both parents suffered the same way. There is significance in those numbers. However, some children may suffer from a weak brain signal during the sleep cycle that does not alert the child to wake up when the bladder is full, which then empties naturally when the bladder reaches a certain level. Even with these statistics to support causes for the disorder, there is still no clear etiology for manifestation outside of genetics.

Treatment and Management

According to the website Medscape, nocturnal enuresis is not a disease that should be treated surgically. Defects in the ureter may be a different medical issue that can be improved with surgery, but this is one of the underlying medical conditions that can impact the severity and frequency of the issue. Sleep apnea can also be an additional problematic health condition, though it is rare in children. Medical professionals do not recommend training as an effective form of treatment for nocturnal enuresis because of practicality. No significant research evidence was found to suggest bladder training will improve the condition. The most effective treatment for typical moderate cases of nocturnal enuresis has proven to be finding the best pharmaceutical medicine available for the particular child.

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4 Ways to Give Back

Posted By: on July 3, 2014
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Maybe it was all those sitcoms highlighting it, but somehow working in a soup kitchen (which is a very honorable voluntary endeavor) has become the be all, end all way to volunteer. However, what if customer service really isn’t your thing, you can’t even boil water, or time restraints make it impossible for you to donate your time? There are many ways to give back, and the secret is finding your niche.

If you don’t enjoy your volunteer opportunity, it’s probably just not the right match. It can be just as tough to find this complement as it is the right job or relationship. Broaden your horizons, be realistic with your time and finances, and find something that excites you. If you settle, everyone suffers (including you).

1. Park/trail/beach cleanup

If you love getting outdoors and want to squeeze in a little workout and social time, volunteering for a cleanup crew might be the perfect match. These opportunities are usually just for a day, so you don’t feel bound by a recurring commitment. Plus, it’s a great way to meet new people or you can gather your own group of friends to volunteer.

2. Sponsor a child

There are many ways to sponsor a child, and a very small amount of money can go a long way if you choose a reputable organization. There are also organizations that collect clothes, toys and other items so you can clear our your space while helping a child in need. Other options include programs like Big Brother Big Sister or SMART.

3. Kickstart a recycling program

If your condo community, workplace or other location doesn’t have a top of the line recycling program in place, you can always offer to manage it. This is ideal for A-Types who are also green-minded. Almost anyone can do better with recycling, and education is key in making it happen.

4. Be a foster pet parent

Usually, the “best” volunteer jobs at Humane Societies and other shelters are already taken. However, you can foster a pet up for adoption, provide a loving home, make a new furry friend and ensure that your temporary pet has a great life before being placed in a forever home. If you love animals but don’t have the capacity to own one for yourself, this is the perfect compromise.

When it comes to giving back, you have money, time and skills to spare. Find the right opportunity, and the rewards are invaluable.

Read On
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