14Sep
0

DIYawesome-Domo

Thanks to the Internet, anyone can take on DIY projects that they might not otherwise attempt due to lack of skill or experience. With an abundance of videos, step-by-step articles, and forums, you can get instructions on how to do almost anything. In many cases, you can also order the parts or components you need online. Often, you’ll save money by shopping for your DIY project needs on the Internet. You may also meet others who are project experts that can give you sound advice.

Make Your Own Gifts

You don’t have to be a whiz with a sewing machine or paintbrush to make attractive gifts for others. The Internet is full of Websites that will show you how to make gifts for everyone on your list. They can be as simple as filling a jar with a special mix of goodies or as complex as woodworking projects. By watching videos, looking at pictures, and reading instructions, you can learn to make just about anything for any occasion. Get a jumpstart on gift-giving by searching for the types of projects that interest you.

Perform Minor Repairs or Renovations

Homeowners can save money by performing minor repairs or renovations themselves. Instead of calling a handyman or a contractor for these jobs, consider which ones you might be able to do yourself. Most of the large home improvement stores are staffed with knowledgeable people that can help get you started and show you what you need to buy. Their company Websites also contain videos and information that can help you with a lot of projects. Whether you’re considering painting a room of your home or installing a new commode, you’ll find all the help you need online.

Save Money on Installations

While you can pay someone to install almost anything, there are a variety of things most people can install in their homes. Although there are times when you definitely should let a professional handle the installation, doing it yourself when it is practical can save you a lot of money.

For example, you may be able to install your own home theater system, security system, or flooring. Many people who have never installed floor tile before are able to do a beautiful job after watching a few videos online. The same goes for installing shutters and window treatments. You would do well to stick with a licensed contractor for electrical and plumbing issues, but there are many things around your home you can install yourself.

Become a Gourmet Cook

It is easier than ever to become a gourmet cook these days. With the popularity of television cooking shows and online videos that provide step-by-step instructions, almost anyone can prepare gourmet meals at home. Suppose you just want to learn how to cook on an outdoor grill? You’ll find a wide variety of videos online that will teach you how to cook on almost any kind of grill. If you’re struggling with how to put together an animal or character cake for your child’s birthday, chances are good that you’ll find a video that will show you exactly how to assemble the cake.

 

11Sep
0

suehofman

As wine lovers know, vintage wine matures with time. Some wine varieties reach maturity and “peak flavor” after a couple of years. If given as much as a decade to hibernate, rich, red wines can morph into brilliant tongue-tingling delights.

To help your wine grow to “realize” its top flavor potential, you need to store it. Continue with this article to learn about ways you can store your valuable wines.

Store Your Wine in a Cave

Most caves will do for wine storage. Caves keep out light, which is wine’s mortal enemy. Natural or man-made, wine caves also regulate temperature. Well-built, climate-controlled wine caves give wines the best chance at preservation and flavor-maturity.

Constructed wine caves run large and are typically the domain of wine producers. Private wine collectors are more likely to choose the next option over a cave.

“Cellar” Your Wine

You say you do not have a cave for your wine? As you might imagine, you are not alone! Wine caves are rare, but you can still store your wine below ground and grow its character in a climate-controlled room.

Under the ground, temperatures fluctuate less than above it. This means you can “cellar” your wine in a root cellar or a basement, or you can construct a cellar built specifically for storing wine.

If your comfort zone does not include cellar carpentry, find a company that specializes in wine-cellar design and construction.

Turn A Room in Your Home into a Wine Cellar

You do not need to embark on a major construction project to acquire adequate wine storage. Consider instead, a “wine room” that fits inside an existing room in your home. Most wine rooms cost less than adding a cellar onto a structure. According to Vintage Cellars, consumers can easily assemble a wine room without expert assistance.

Have You Heard of “Wine Furniture”?

Another way to think of a wine room is as a large cabinet that holds wine. In fact, furniture manufacturers make a variety of climate-controlled wine cabinets. This wine storage option has a foothold in the marketplace and comes in a range of sizes. Most private wine collectors can find a cabinet size that fits their collection.

In addition to cabinets, “wine furniture” also includes credenzas with incorporated wine refrigerators.

Dig a Hole

The most low-tech method of wine storage is to dig a hole. Though unrefined, storing wine in a hole can certainly keep it cool, especially when the hole resides in a full-time shaded area.

Only use the “dig a wine hole” method to store wine while you gather the resources and knowledge necessary to build or acquire another wine storage option. Investing in wines, even if just for the flavor experience, also requires an investment in the way you store it.

Now that you have read about storing your wine to help it mature, you can pop a cork, pour, a glass and consider which of the above storage options you will choose for your wine collection.

Cheers!

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28Aug
0

divorce2

Dissolving a marriage is sometimes the best option for a family, but this does not make the process easy. Spouses can greatly disagree on child custody, alimony and dividing property, and settling a divorce in court can be time-consuming, messy and expensive. Partners who can make choices together and want to avoid the court process have other options at the end of a marriage.

Uncontested Divorce

When both parties agree about getting a divorce, the couple can make arrangements outside of a courtroom with an uncontested divorce. Both partners need to agree about issues like parenting time, spousal support and asset division. The couple must provide the state with proper documentation, and couples complete a consent decree that must comply with all statutes in a state and be drafted and filed correctly. Couples usually still need a lawyer when filing for an uncontested divorce because the documentation process can be complicated.

Collaborative Divorce

While this process is similar to an uncontested divorce, a collaborative divorce uses guidelines designed to keep communication open between spouses and help couples come up with solutions that will benefit the entire family. Each person in a couple must share all pertinent information with the other and form joint goals, and either party might work with an expert in fields like finance or child development to ensure a party is prepared for certain tasks after the divorce.

The final part of a collaborative divorce involves both partners using a separate attorney, and both attorneys agree to avoid litigation. Having separate lawyers makes sense to make sure each party has fair representation, but there is some worry that this method puts the focus on creating a settlement without litigating. Trying to force a resolution to wrap up the process could mean that both parties do not have an agreement in their best interests.

Mediation

Mediation shares some traits with the collaborative divorce approach because both parties must exercise full disclosure and focus on creating a plan for ending a marriage. Both parties work with one mediator who listens to each client and helps foster open communication. A mediator can help a couple develop skills for making decisions after the marriage is over, and this is useful when a couple must interact and make decisions together because of children. Both parties have control in this process while the mediator can intervene to facilitate conversation and solve disputes, and the mediator can also prepare the necessary paperwork for a divorce that the couple must approve.

When thinking about how to handle the end of a marriage, spouses must consider their situation and the needs of their family. There are benefits to divorcing without a court process, but a couple must be willing to work together and agree that divorce is the best option. Those who do want to use an alternative to the courts can have control over important decisions about their future and work to come up with a beneficial arrangement for everyone involved.

21Aug
0

If you can do pretty much anything online, why are you still leaving the house? It’s true: The internet is a dream come true for agoraphobics and those who prefer their own company to that of others. Of course it’s healthy to go out and be social, but at the same time why should you leave the house if you don’t have to? Plus, you get good karma points by lightening your carbon footprint, saving money on things like gas or public transportation and you can save the most precious commodity of all online: Time.

Sure, you might have a job that doesn’t offer a virtual environment, but you’re probably still leaving the house for unnecessary reasons. If you want to maximize your time and save money to boot, check out these things many people don’t realize they can do online:

1. See a doctor

There are certainly instance where a virtual check-in (even with video) isn’t going to work for your medical needs. However, for many routine check-ins or even a virtual session with a psychologist, it’s just as effective to do it online. Plus, with lower overhead your bills might even be lower if you’re paying out of pocket. If you have insurance, many reputable online doctors might be in your network.

2. Deal with the drycleaners

Check out your local drycleaners and you’ll likely find one that doesn’t just pick up and deliver, but lets you choose the dates and schedule online. That means no more scrambling for parking, leaving the house just to get your suit cleaned, or otherwise wasting precious time.

3. Taking the kids to school

You already know an online degree is a great option for adults, but did you know virtual schools are becoming more common for kids, too? With overcrowded schools, cyber bullying and classmates who are at different levels, many kids benefit from taking online courses. Just make sure they still get plenty of socialization, too.

4. Getting pampered

Who has time to drive across town to the salon? There are mobile salons gaining in popularity, and you can schedule one to stop by your house by making an online appointment. These are more common in major metros.

From scheduling online package pickups to scouring the internet for the perfect gift, you can do virtually anything online. It’s easy, you can find more affordable options, and you maximize the hours in the day.

01Aug
0

Earth-Security-icon

It is a well-known fact that private information on the internet is not necessarily secure. Data continually travels from one location to another via computers and a series of network links. This vulnerability allows hackers and scammers to intercept, collect, change and reuse information daily. Whether operating a blogging website or an online business, users must keep up with potential hazards and implement safety precautions.

Viral Invasions

Viruses cause a number of disruptions in computers, programs and networks, and hackers can easily create them. Some malicious attacks rewrite codes that make programs unusable. Others are designed to damage or destroy existing data. The attacks are meant to alter or steal information or damage a system to the point that it can no longer function. While most internet users install anti-virus software, experts also recommend backing up and updating websites regularly to prevent damage from possible intrusions.

Database Attacks

Hackers gain access to websites in a variety of ways. One of these is known in computer tech circles as the SQL injection. This type of intrusion occurs when a hacker finds a code vulnerability on a server. Whether you are blogging for fun or running a professional online business, a server intrusion provides access to your site. Once inside, the attacker collects log-in information and other valuable data stored in the server. In this case, you might enter your site and find unfamiliar postings, altered data or missing information. The chances of a website falling to a malicious invasion largely depend on the services used to maintain it.

Website Mistakes

Before choosing a hosting company, ensure that the organization makes continual updates and offers client services in the event that hacking should occur. If you are running your website on a budget, security may not be at the top of your priority list. In addition to host providers, consider using hosted web services. Web service providers have the means to protect the interests of all who make use of their sites. If determined to construct an independent site, avoid cheap hosting providers. These companies notoriously host numerous sites on one server. In the event of an invasion or a server crash, the small businesses using it greatly suffer.

Bot Invasions

Bots and web crawlers may provide site owners and web servers with an abundance of helpful analyses. However, when in the wrong hands, these tools serve no one but the hacker. Once a computer or server becomes infested with a bot code, the attacker has access to information using keylogging or screen-capture programs. Passwords and other private information become available for the taking. Hackers might send spam, initiate denial-of-service attacks or inject other types of malware. Online business owners using pay-per-click advertisement campaigns may become the hapless victims of outlandish expenses as malicious software causes click fraud. Regardless of the type of website you are running, it is important to ensure that it remains safe for you and everyone else. It is a good idea to use proper coding, anti-malware/virus software and other precautionary measures.

23Jul
0

onlinemarketing

With so many companies turning to online marketing to reach new customers, it seems like many businesses forgot about the importance of offline marketing. While many people now shop and search for information while on the go from their smartphones, tablets and laptop computers, there are still offline marketing techniques that can help you gain more business. Before letting yourself focus solely on online marketing, think about how offline marketing can help you.

Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla marketing includes some off the wall, unique and unusual forms of marketing. The rock band Nine Inch Nails skipped online marketing for one of its recent albums in favor of leaving small drives with the album attached in various locations for fans to find. The Duct Tape Marketing blog recommends leaving sticky notes behind, using chalk on sidewalks and placing business cards in random locations. According to this site, you can use banner stands of different sizes and leave those banners placed around your city to get more traffic.

Use Your Car

According to marketing blogger Brian Carey, vehicle wraps can work just as effectively as direct mail campaigns, launching a social networking page or creating an email newsletter. Carey points out that while a vehicle wrap can cost up to $3,000 upfront, once installed on your car, those wraps can last for up to five years. You can add your logo, company name, address or phone number to the wrap, and some companies will even let you completely design the wrap based on a design of your choosing. Everywhere you go, people will see your company name on display. If you run your own business, you can even write off a portion of the cost of your vehicle wrap on your taxes.

Combine Online and Offline Marketing

In today’s modern world, it’s nearly impossible for a business to succeed without some form of online marketing. Blogger Mark Krenn recommends combing online and offline marketing to drive more business to your company. Offering mobile check-in is one of the easiest ways to reach new customers. Those customers can use their smartphones to check in when they stop into your business, write a review on Yelp and even share a status update on Facebook. Krenn also suggests offering digital rewards and using hashtags.

Hashtags are small identifying comments that you place at the end of Facebook updates, tweets on Twitter and other social networking posts. When users search for that same hashtag, your post comes up in the search results. Digital rewards let you thank customers for shopping with you. You can give customers a digital coupon when they check in or treat them to an email discount for registering an email account with your company.

It sometimes seems like online marketing might take over the world. You see email newsletter offers, digital coupons and store apps everywhere you turn, but online marketing alone won’t help your business succeed. Using some simple offline marketing techniques and using some techniques that work with your online marketing will help you reach more customers.

20Jul
0

writing

As a web content writer, it’s not just about how good you are putting words on paper; it’s also about your search engine optimization (SEO) prowess. While not all web content writing jobs will require SEO or LSEO, the high paying ones will. It’s not easy to organically and naturally place keywords within content, especially when it seems like the phrases just aren’t a match for the requested article, which is why SEO writers get paid the big bucks. However, some of those old school writing hacks are actually great fodder for mastering SEO.

Whether you’re a trained writer with an advanced degree in creative writing or you’ve just always had a knack for it, the true test is whether you can succeed in writing content rich in SEO. You might be charged with creating brand new content for a website re-design, but the client is adamant that their SEO ranking stays the same (at worst) or improves (at best). If that seems like a daunting task, or you simply want to up your game, consider these “basic” writing tips that are SEO gold.

1. Read it out loud

Sometimes what seems natural to you (such as putting in a keyword like “endangered panda” into an article about auto manufacturing) just doesn’t read “right.” Always read your end product aloud to make sure the flow in on target. This is one of the easiest ways to spot red flags.

2. Have someone else read it

If you’re lucky, you have a partner or roommate you can bribe into reading your articles for you. Don’t highlight the SEO keywords or phrases, and simply ask them if anything seems out of place. If they can spot it, so will your editor and readers.

3. Put it to bed

When you’re struggling with a piece of writing, it’s always best to put it to bed (assuming there are no looming deadlines) and tackle it fresh in the morning. It’s amazing what a few hours away from a piece can help you see, and you might make your job a lot easier in the process.

4. Less is more

Some writers are really good at writing fluff, and that can be tempting when you’re facing a certain word count. However, this comes down to quality vs. quantity. If you do a bit more research, include a few more quotes or otherwise just try a little harder, it’ll show (and it’ll also appear in terms of your pay rate).

20Jul
0

digitalera

The Internet has turned us all into storytellers. This popular entertainment past time is no longer reserved for traveling bards or for slam poets. There are digital storytelling options for everyone, fitting a range of messages, content, and audiences. You can have incredibly niche interest and still find a platform and audience to fit your needs. Creators have ways of spinning tales through digital text, videos, animations, and sound. Online storytelling gives audiences access to a wide range of voices, multimedia, and audiences. Here’s how modern storytelling is changing the Internet.

Diversity of Voices

Online communications has leveled the playing field, allowing underrepresented groups to share their experiences with enormous audiences. Old school publishing and stage platforms privileged certain groups and excluding others. Digital communications allows minority groups to get a message across to their audiences through affordable and accessible content publishing and sharing options. Readers can thrive greatly when they are exposed to a multitude of perspectives.

New Media

Storytelling doesn’t have to be oratory. Digital content creators are continually finding new ways to tell their stories through a variety of media types. Just take a look at platforms that embrace new media – Vine, YouTube, and Medium showcase ways you can connect with your audience outside of traditional oral storytelling. Individuals and organizations can leverage new multimedia formats to convey complex messages.

Target Audiences

Online storytelling enables us to deliver content directly to those who might benefit the most from your work. Online advertising, demographics information, and social media sharing are just some of the tools modern storytellers use to connect with the right audiences. Your content might have very little impact if they reach thousands of people disinterested by the message and delivery. Your content will go further if you introduce it to audiences that are interested in the types of content you’re providing.

Measuring Impacts

When orators tell a story, they look at their audiences for non-verbal cues in body language and facial expressions. You can’t get this type of feedback while online, because you’re not able to see your readers’ faces. However, you can gauge how they are responding to your social media campaigns by paying attention to engagement metrics.

Online storytelling will change the way we interact and learn about one another. Whether you’re a podcast, video, or article creator, you have valuable tales to tell through digital mediums. Learn how to connect with the right audiences, and your creative content will flourish!

19Jul
0

Challenging yourself as an employee, no matter what your title, is part of career growth. If you don’t step up to the plate, other people will and you’ll be left in the dust. Don’t think of taking on new projects as taking on extra work with no benefit to you. Taking initiative is one of the most important things employers look for when considering promotions.

However, don’t expect to ever feel “fully ready” to tackle those project management roles, either. You’re going to have to get outside your comfort zone if you want to get noticed. Whether it involves putting together a portfolio, leading a group discussion or giving a presentation to the CEO, it might be scary but it’s worth it. Here are a few signs you’re ready for the big leagues.

1. You’ve been in your fair share of projects as a minion

You shouldn’t sign up to lead the first project you’re involved with, but if you’ve worked on plenty you’ve seen the basic structure. You’re able to lean from the mistakes of others and you’ve had a few dry test runs. If this is your 100th project (or it seems that way) you’re ready for a new role.

2. There’s a promotion coming up

This shouldn’t be your sole reason for volunteering to lead a group, but it can certainly play a role. If there’s a promotion coming up you think you’re suited for, there’s no better way to put your hat in the ring than by showing you’re a leader.

3. The project aligns with your skillsets

Bonus points if these skillsets are something your boss doesn’t know about, such as graphic design or creating a PR database. Show off what you’ve got, even if your skills and talents aren’t usually showcased with your job duties.

4. You’re excited about it

Does the project have aspects that excite you, intrigue you or you’re otherwise passionate about? This is a big sign that you should step up to the plate. You’ll naturally work harder when the subject interests you.

5. Your job has been laying people off

Just like number two, this shouldn’t be the only reason why you sign up to lead but it can be a factor. There will be times when you have to “save” your job and prove yourself, and this might be the ticket to make it happen.

18Jul
0

wifi_hotel

Forget the pool and free continental breakfast because all that really matters while staying at a hotel is how good the internet is. No matter what they say, you need to do your own digging because for some hotels, simply having Wi-Fi equates to “good Wi-Fi.” That’s not always the case, and many travelers have been burned before. Whether you actually need Wi-Fi in order to work while traveling or simply want to make sure your Buzzfeed readership is up to date, you deserve Wi-Fi like home.

First, find out exactly what kind of “internet” is available at the hotel. Some reputable hotel sites will clearly state the connections available while others leave it vague. That brings us to our first red flag, but there are many others to follow.

1. Vague “internet language” on the website

If the hotel can’t or won’t tell you what kind of internet access is available, that’s a red flag. Either it’s not fast, it’s not Wi-Fi or (worse yet) they’re not really sure what they have. Call and ask.

2. It’s free

Unfortunately, free internet means absolutely everyone at the hotel will be all over it from kids playing on iPads to vacationers uploading Facebook albums. If you pay for a service, even if it’s a very minor fee, you can guarantee that not as many people will be using it and causing virtual bottlenecks.

3. It’s not highlighted as an amenity

Hotels highlight the features that are most attractive and also the ones where they spend the money. That’s why you’ll see pillowtop mattresses and a sauna at the top of the list. If internet isn’t on display, that’s not where their focus is.

4. There’s no business center

Hotels that cater to business travelers know that solid Wi-Fi is a must. If there’s a business center on site and preferably meeting rooms, you know that this hotel is all about serving those who need to be online.

5. There are negative reviews about the internet access

While even the best hotels won’t have 100 percent positive reviews, if you do your homework and find people complaining about the slow internet speeds, consider yourself warned. If someone takes time out of their day to explicitly post about poor internet service, that means something.

Of course, you can also always get a travel hot spot yourself, but why not choose the right hotel from the beginning?

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