01Oct
0

There really isn’t a more authentic place to spend Halloween than on the east coast. Not only is it steeped in the nation’s history, but it’s also home to some of the nation’s most beautiful fall foliage. While the golden leaves are softly falling in Central Park, the rest of the city is happily gearing up for Halloween with a delightful mish-mash of spooky festivities.

Village Halloween Parade

Every year, Sixth Avenue in Manhattan yields to the magic that is Halloween and fills with masterful puppetry by some of the best professionals in the business. While the stunning works of creative prowess highlight this parade, what makes it unique is anyone can join the parade–so long as you’re in costume. Each year has a different theme, and as the puppets parade down Sixth Avenue, they’re followed by anyone and everyone off the streets who want to join in on the “most wildly creative public participatory event” in the world. Manhattan gets decidedly crowded, so if you’re coming from outside the city, it’s probably a good idea to skip the dicey traffic and check out the bus schedules instead.

Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade

New Yorkers love their dogs, so it’s only natural that they get the canine counterparts involved on the big day. With over $4,000 in prizes up for grabs, these costumes get elaborate pretty quickly. You won’t find Dachshunds in hot dog costumes at this parade–not if you want to win a prize like a new iPad for the “Best in Show”. If you don’t have a dog, various rescues are present to help you find the new member of your family.

Blackout Haunted House

The Blackout Haunted House at the Vortex Theater scares the pants off you in a slightly sadistic twist: you have to go through the haunted house alone. Yep, no partner to grab onto as you creep through darkened rooms and wait for someone to jump out at you. When you enter, you’ll be given a protective mask and a flashlight before you’re shuttled through to have every ounce of bravery scared out of you. Beware as this isn’t for the young; you have to be at least 18 to enter. Simulated situations can get a little…R rated, and there is some pretty terrifying physical contact throughout. If it gets to be a bit much, you’ll be given a safe word, and someone non-scary will appear and escort you to safety.

Get Spooked by Some Real Ghosts

If simulated horror isn’t your thing, go for the real deal at some of NYC’s most haunted locales. Many of these offer tours, and some even capitalize on their paranormal activities with ghost tours. Go to the Billop House, built in the 1680s, where British loyalist Christopher Billop murdered a female servant because he believed she was spying for the Patriots. Spectral sightings of both Billops and the murdered woman have been sighted, as have glimpses of patrolling Redcoats.

As if NYC isn’t magical enough, they pull out all the stops for the month of October. From raucous parties to their haunted houses, you’ll find it all somewhere in the city.

29Sep
0

playground276

Are you thinking about transforming your yard or some other area of your home into a safe play area for your children? Parents can create a fun and imaginative space for kids to get some exercise and stay out of trouble. With childhood obesity on the rise due to increasingly sedentary lifestyles, getting your kids outdoors has become imperative for many families. Here are four things to keep in mind as you build a play area for your children.

Follow Assembly Instructions

When you purchase play equipment for your kids, it’s important to always follow the assembly instructions to ensure safety. Improper installation or usage can result in serious injuries. Make sure that all equipment is safely anchored so that it cannot fall down on a child.

Inspect Periodically

Test out your playground equipment regularly and inspect items for loose nuts and bolts. This equipment should be able to withstand hours of rough play. If a component seems loose or unsteady, don’t allow your children to play on it. Examine outdoor play equipment after long periods of disuse or after major storms, and clear slides of debris. Careful playground maintenance can help ensure that your play areas are safe.

Build Enclosures

Once you set up fun spaces for your children to play, you might want to consider building an enclosure around their play space for safety and privacy. A gated fence can prevent children from leaving your property and wandering away unattended. Fences can also prevent strangers from entering your property or watching your children while they play. Enclosures can also provide you with a certain degree of weather and temperature protection, shielding play areas from excessive wind and heat.

No-Slip Surfaces

Specialized outdoor play surfaces can prevent falls and provide youngsters with safe areas to run on. Play surfaces can often be customized with fun colors and designs, which will get your children excited about going outside and romping around. A grippy, no-slip surface can be the perfect safety addition to your indoor or outdoor play areas.

Are you ready to start building a unique play area for your children? You can decrease the risk of accidents by ensuring that play equipment is assembled and maintained properly. Keep outside threats away from these play areas with the use of a fence, which can also keep children from wandering into unsafe areas. Finally, safe play flooring can prevent children from slipping and falling as they run. These components can be used together for fun and safe recreational experiences.

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25Sep
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Does your garage look suspiciously like an after hours lumber store? Are their stacks and stacks of two by fours against one wall and sheets of plywood against the other? Are you secretly hiding blocks of wood in the shadows beneath the work table attached to the wall next to the door that leads into the house? No one faults you for all that wood lying around, except for maybe your wife who would like the extra room to park her car in the garage. But, despite itching to get your hands dirty on another wood working project, the ideas just seem to allude you at the moment. You even spent some time looking at electric sanders online in hopes that it would inspire your mind to conjure up that perfect wood working project idea.

With all this nice wood around, you would think you could find tons of uses for it. But, try as you might, the ideas just are not coming to mind. Never fear, here are a few do-it-yourself wood working projects to consider tackling.

Upgrading Your Little Boy’s Room

Your son is getting bigger and he has been having some trouble keeping his room organized. This is the perfect opportunity to consider building a shelving unit for his room. It does not have to be anything too extravagant. A couple of metal wall braces, some positioning brackets, and a few long sheets of wood, painted to work with the color scheme of his room. It’s a project you could probably knock out in a couple of hours.

Building Your Daughter A Desk

Your daughter is entering eighth grade this year and she’s starting to outgrow that little school-desk you bought her a few years back. This time around she needs something that can manage her books, her computer, and a lamp for additional lighting. Plus, with her interest in doing art projects, the extra table surface would really come in handy. It would be nice to fill in the bare space at the back corner of her room anyway. This would be a perfect use for some of those thicker slats and those sheets of sturdy pressed wood you’ve been holding on to for some time now. And maybe a new bookshelf is in line for her room as well, if you are feeling really crafty with that power saw.

The Entertainment Stand

With the high cost of a well made entertainment stand these days, you might consider building your own out of the spare wood you have storred away in the garage. A few nicely cut shelf like pieces, with sturdy sides and metal brackets would probably do the trick. This would give you room for the television, the sound bar, the X-box, DVD-player, and even attachments for additional speakers. If you want, you could continue with a shelving system on each side for harboring your DVD and video-game collection as well. One thing is certain, if you make it from scratch, it will be a lot better built than that last flimsy one you had to put together from a box. There are numerous ways to customize the stand for your entertainment center, so do not be afraid to be creative.

Before you know it, you will find many good uses for all that wood out in your garage.

25Sep
0

injuredfitness

Sustaining physical injuries can interrupt your daily life and prevent you from accomplishing some of your goals. During the recovery process, it’s easy to become frustrated or impatient, especially if you are unable to complete tasks the way you did previously. Physical injuries can even lead to depression, which can take a further toll on your overall health. Here are four ways to keep yourself healthy during the recovery process.

Make Smart Food Choices

If a physical injury leads to a major reduction in your activity levels, then it can be easy to start gaining weight. You can prevent unhealthy weight gain by monitoring food intake. You might be tempted to cave in and indulge in unhealthy foods, especially due to the stress of inactivity. Don’t give in! If your recover process requires periods of inactivity, find ways healthy ways to occupy your time and keep your diet healthy.

Don’t Overdo It

As you recover from an injury, your mobility will increase. Some people try to jump back into their previous activities, which may lead to injury. Since your body has sustained downtime during recovery, don’t expect to start at your peak performance when you return to an activity. Speak to your doctor about reasonable fitness timeframes during your recovery, to ensure that you don’t exacerbate an injury.

Set Reasonable Goals

Goals can help you overcome the challenges you face while recovering from an injury. Talk to your doctors and physical therapists about alternative exercises you can do while a specific area heals. For example, a broken arm might prevent you from swimming, but you might be able to comfortably cross train with equipment like a stationary bike. Learn about ways to work around your injury without taking a step back in your recovery process.

Listen to Your Physical Therapist

A physical therapist will challenge you to reach new levels of physical performance. After sustaining injuries, your muscles are at risk of atrophy. You might also experience some loss of mobility. Physical therapists can evaluate your needs and help you reach fitness goals. They can also modify exercises to meet different ability levels.

Recovering from a physical injury can be a struggle marked with moments of doubt, frustration, and inactivity. It’s important to seek out supportive therapy professionals as you heal. You can manage some of the hardships by maintaining a healthy diet, consulting with your doctor, and attending physical therapy.

21Sep
0

Connecting with new customers is great for business, but your company must also learn how to drive repeat purchases. Loyal buyers can help your company weather slow seasons. Happy customers will also become promoters of your brand and products, allowing you to connect with all new customers and begin the cycle of retention again. Here are four ways to build customer loyalty and encourage repeat sales.

Offer Consistent Value

Your products, services, and prices play a significant role in building your brand identity. Customers expect some form of regularity from your business. It’s important to maintain certain levels of quality. Businesses often hurt themselves if they deviate from their normal pricing structures or successful product lines. Just take a look at what happened to Netflix, when they split their offerings into two separate subscriptions with different fees. The public backlash demonstrated that loyal customers had been conditioned to expect certain services and fees.

Keep Communication Channels Open

Make it easy for customers to contact your company and provide feedback. Loyal customers who become invested in your product lines should be able to communicate easily with sales and support representatives. This also gives your business an opportunity to catch detractors early and resolve their issues, before they take to online reviews to vent their frustrations.

Find Ways to Say Yes

Customers will take note when your associates go above and beyond their duties to be of assistance. Create flexible policies so that your employees have an easier time reaching a “yes” solution or at the very least, a compromise. Brands that are able to assist customers, especially during times of need or during high stress situations, will become instantly memorable. Saying “yes” and assisting customers can also be extremely fulfilling for employees who are positively impacting peoples’ lives.

Reward Loyalty

Finally, your company should have some way of tracking customer loyalty and providing incentives to repeat customers. Capture customer information, follow up with loyal buyers on a regular basis, and provide them with incentives. Promotions or special discounts can be excellent ways to acknowledge how much you value a customer’s repeat business. These small tokens of appreciation can go a long way in building a positive, long-term rapport.

Companies should strive to develop customer loyalty by adopting flexible policies, capturing important client data, and paying attention to feedback. Repeat business can help sustain your company in the long run. Loyalty rewards, effective communication channels, and consistent value can turn your customers into life-long promoters.

 

20Sep
0

Living in the Bay Area, you expect to have the best of all worlds when it comes to connectivity and related services. The companies that compete to give you Internet, cable, and phone service do so in a competitive environment that forces them to enhance service offerings in order to gain and keep customers.

Below are some ways that area cable companies seek an edge in the battle to be able to serve you.

Internet

Now that greater speeds and greater bandwidth are possible, cable companies have been working to create the ultimate high-speed experience for your home or business. Some providers offer download speeds of up to 110 Mbps for their clientele, but at the same bundled prices they were used to receiving at slower speeds.

By providing improved services for the same package price, these companies not only retain customers who are generally pleased with the free enhancements, but also compete more effectively for new business.

Television

Although many Internet service providers give you the access you need to enjoy online services such as on-demand movies, they frequently fall short in the category of direct entertainment services: television or movie channels, for example.

Conversely, local cable companies have managed to enhance their offerings by tailoring program options to serve a greater market. There are more international as well as sports programming options today than there were a few years ago.

Another feature that has continued to innovate is DVR service. Some local providers now offer multi-room DVR through the same box connection, which makes it easier for families to integrate their choice of television programming.

Some providers have also taken a page from the satellite television service providers’ playbook and made dozens of music channels available as part of the basic cable package.

Phone

If there are any users of traditional land lines still in the San Francisco area, they are few and far between. Cable phone service has proved to be superior in terms of both quality and convenience.

If you’re the kind of person who checks rates and has had phone service for a number of years, you probably know that local phone carriers that did not offer competitive prices saw them get driven down and out by both cable and VOIP service providers.

With VOIP, however, some users discovered that bandwidth issues could impede the performance of their phone, making its use for business unacceptable at times. Not so with cable: Plenty of bandwidth is on tap for phone users, and enhanced features that require additional bandwidth are also available.

The other service that cable companies helped spark, which was not a reality until recently, was the unlimited North American calling area for one low package price. Long-distance bills used to be something that people would fret over and occasionally placed limits on your ability to keep in touch with distant relatives.

Today, not only can you find low-cost packages that feature unlimited service, there are also even lower-cost packages that allow you to keep your phone line and use it locally while doing the bulk of your calling from a cell phone. In many cases, these packages cost less than what you would pay for just a DID, or dedicated phone number, without any service.

19Sep
0

Many highly trained people are looking at the current economy and not wondering about a dream job, but hoping that they can get any job at all. Only a few years ago, the unemployment rate rose to a staggering 10 percent, and that forced many to rethink what it might take to land the ideal job.

With the following few tips, you can improve your chances of success no matter what direction the economy goes.

Define your needs

While it might seem intuitive that someone who’s on the job hunt should have a good sense of what he or she wants exactly in the coming years, many people do nothing more than narrow their search to a particular industry.

That’s not really enough. Instead of looking at an entire industry or even a job title, future employees should hash out precisely what they want from a job in the coming years. This could mean everything from the financial compensation and opportunities for upward mobility to making sure you have fulfilling daily tasks in a specific field.

There’s no such thing as too much research

When it comes to landing your dream job, you can never do too much research. A dream job should always involve doing what you’re passionate about, and this means you need to do quite a bit of homework on everything from the company itself and the competition to industry trends and current news.

According to Altibase, you should also “prepare an actionable plan (verbally) on how you will help the company.” This line of reasoning can potentially make or break your performance in an interview and enable you to stand out from the pack as a candidate.

Resumes get interviews, but not jobs

A well-designed and eye-catching resume is only the first step in the process. In the same way, no one should ever assume the interview will be sufficient to land the job by itself.

When there’s so much competition for a popular position, resumes are often used for nothing more than to ensure the potential interviewees meet the basic requirements. From there, it will come down to how well the interview goes and how prepared you turn out to be for any turn the interview may take.

Show recruiters your passion

One of the most difficult things for an interviewee to do well is to show passion without upsetting the interview. While every recruiter and company is slightly different, most are looking for some form of passion in the people they interview.

That means they’re not terribly interested in hearing a mountain of information about their own company or the current state of the industry. Interviewees will want to plan a few key speaking points about how and why they applied for the job, but they should allow the interviewer(s) to steer the conversation the vast majority of the time.

If you’ve only recently gotten out of school or are simply looking to make a dramatic shift in career path, the uneasy state of the current economy can raise your anxiety. But with a little bit of patience and passion, a dream job may be only a phone call and interview away.

16Sep
0

Datastore_514x200

Company leaders never want to think about data disasters. However, technology isn’t infallible. Natural disasters, office accidents, or user error can lead to the destruction of data. Does your business have a strong recovery strategy so that you can pick up where you left off? For example, do you have alternate emergency processes if your point of sale server goes down? Being proactive about backups and software maintenance can help you company prepare for worse case scenarios. Here are four things to keep in mind as you take data protection measures.

Hardware Backups

If your company stores business critical data on external hard drives, then strongly consider scattering these backups across multiple locations. Don’t’ keep all of your eggs in one basket. If a fire or burglary at one location makes data inaccessible, then you’ll still have copies stored in other locations. Ideally, your business should invest in a combination of cloud and local storage, so that you’re not overly reliant on any single system.

Behavior Rules

When we think of “user error,” many of us think about employees accidently deleting an important file. However, everyday office behaviors, such as drinking coffee near a server rack, can put your company at high risk for data loss. A trip, bump, or spill next to important hardware can lead to thousands of dollars lost within moments. Data disasters aren’t always accidental – your data is an asset that is susceptible to internal theft too. Create workplace guidelines to prevent internal loss or theft of data.

Data Testing

Backups are useless if the data is riddled with errors. Your IT department should schedule routine data verification to ensure that backups are working properly. If write errors are discovered, it is important to prioritize data redundancy so that your company has reliable copies to fall back on.

Cloud Storage

Cloud services have become so ubiquitous; your company can accomplish an endless amount of tasks using dedicated cloud solutions. However, it can be difficult to identify the right cloud solutions for your company. Consider working with a broker who can help your company uncover cloud solutions for your data protection strategies.

Businesses must take a multifaceted approach to data protection and recovery. If one system fails, then your employees should be able to fall back on other solutions. Preparing for data disasters now can give your team the confidence and ability to operate no matter what the future throws at you.

 

15Sep
0

electronic_recycle

Once upon a time, companies used to hold on to their computers for 10 or more years. They siphoned crucial data off the hard drive until it just wouldn’t boot anymore.

Today, we change modern electronics in a heartbeat — well, every season or year or two — and require fast hardware and software to maintain communication between firms. A major computer system is a huge investment for a business, but owners must budget for upgrades to stay competitive in the marketplace.

No support equals high risk

The operating system’s manufacturer makes it a point to advertise end-of-life support for its product. Once the support ends, there are no other security or driver updates unless you upgrade the operating system.

Your computer system’s hardware may be so old that it can’t support the new software, however. Each system is unique, but it’s usually possible to upgrade a relatively new computer to the latest software. You open up your business to potential hacks so much more if you have old software running the show.

Reduced productivity

You may save a little money each month by putting off a computer purchase, but you’re also likely losing profits to low employee productivity. Your staff may have to sit for several minutes trying to download a file, for example.

A file may not even open, forcing workers to call and use alternative means to obtain the information. New hardware and software typically solves these issues, and allows workers to concentrate on more important business functions.

Average business computer lifespan

These days, a standard business computer system lasts about five years. It may still be operational after five years, but the hardware and software aren’t designed to meet current computing demands.

They could easily break down at this age, and cost you hundreds of dollars just to maintain them. A new system certainly requires a high up-front cost, but its maintenance will be minimal and often covered by a warranty.

You have to take all this into consideration when deciding whether to go for a replacement at the five-year mark.

IT employee importance

No business should be forced to buy a new system after five years. A firm’s IT professionals are essential at this point. They understand the intricacies of high-tech electronics, and can give owners an idea of what’s the right time to purchase new.

A recall could be in force at the moment, which would make it a smart move to wait until all the bugs are worked out of the new hardware or software. IT professionals typically want the best computers in the company to make their job easier, and profits tend to follow.

Discarding properly

Once a company decides to switch to a new computer system, it’s necessary to hire an IT asset management team. According to Synectic Technologies, working with the right asset team makes the conversion to a new system much easier.

With fewer worries about data transfer and configuration, an asset team makes the new computer system easier to integrate than if you attempted it without the professional assistance.

Relying on old computers with no support will usually cost a company significant revenues. If your operating system is no longer current, it’s time to start budgeting for at least one new computer.

Computer communications is crucial in almost any industry, so newer systems are pretty necessary to stay in the game.

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.

 

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