Giving Your Home Furniture a Personal Touch

There is really a lot to be said about what kind of furniture a person has in their home: it speaks of their personality more than of their purchasing power. These days, home decor and furniture options have expanded and evolved way beyond the traditional and rigid standards of the mid-50s or earlier; people have much more eclectic arrangements in their homes today than they would have had back then. This is liberating for a lot of people, since the feel of a home is really heavily influenced by the furniture, and therefore they can give their abode the unique vibe they want for it, and not have to live up to other people’s expectations (though that surely happens for some folks still).

Knowing how to properly select furniture is an art of its own, and having a good eye and knowing a bit about the industry are both prerequisites to mastering that art. Among the most notable pieces that the average person has in their home would have to be the dining room table, the book shelf, the chest cabinet, and-perhaps most importantly-a display cabinet. Having a good cabinet to put all your most valued possessions on display (at least the ones that will fit inside), like trophies and fine china, or even paintings or memorabilia, really will give your home that personal touch that shouts out to guests and visitors that your house is unique, unlike any other.

With a display cabinet, the general idea is that “the bigger the better,” yet you also want to make sure you are getting a quality product, and not some second-rate piece. After all, this particular piece of furniture will probably attract more attention than just about any other kind of furniture, so you really want to make sure it is appealing to the eye and solidly built (after all, you may be jam-packing it full of stuff!). Consider the ambiance in your home before choosing your cabinet, and study the colors and lighting wisely. You want to have a cabinet that stands out, but in a good way-not like a sore thumb. If the lighting is poor in the room where you want to put it, then you may want to consider a display cabinet with a lot of glass (to allow in as much light as possible), or otherwise install a lighting unit inside it (some come with this feature tastefully and discreetly built in to the cabinet). Make sure you have enough space in the designated room for a cabinet, and measure everything precisely so that you don’t end up having a colossal piece of furniture that, for less than an inch of difference, can’t be squeezed into the place you want it to be.

Of course, the wood itself should be very strong, as these pieces need to be able to withstand quite a bit of weight (also, the risk of it collapsing isn’t just a bruised tush, but potentially thousands of dollars and/or memories smashed). Go with classics like cherry wood or oak for your display cabinet, which are very reliable as well as having very appealing colors and grain designs.

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5 Criteria to Select Travel Websites For Your Travel Planning

With the world now becomes a global market place, travel is increasingly turning into the number one activity that people do on a regular basis. Equipped with rapid internet penetration at travel destinations around the world, people are making travel arrangement online.

Websites such as priceline.com, travelocity.com and cheaptickets.com all of sudden attract high interest to savvy travelers who are looking to plan their travel at convenience.

Besides the above three travel websites, there are numerous sites that specialize into different market niches.

Like the old saying ‘don’t put all your eggs into the same basket,’ selecting one travel website for all your travel needs is unnecessary. You should find the best site that meets your objective. After all, competition is always good for customers.

What question should you ask yourself before jumping into the one travel website? Here are a few criteria that you should consider when selecting travel websites:

1. Objective

If you take a step aback a little bit and ask yourself your current travel situation, you should be able to find out what the real goal is at that time.

For example, if during holiday you unexpectedly receive news that one of your close relatives just passed away and you need to be there the fastest way possible, how do you make your travel arrangement?

Would you still go to priceline.com and bid for the lowest fare – or hit for ticket at lastminute.com right away? Priceline.com specializes in the lowest fare on bidding situation, so it will take a certain while to get the best deal. However, if you go to lastminute.com, you will be able to get the lowest fare at the last minute.

Under other circumstances, bidding through priceline.com can be more desirable than lastminute.com.

Forget about purchasing directly from the airline company. It costs more for them to serve your purchase – customer support, advertising, maintenance and all the sales overhead are incurred to fulfil your purchase. This translates to higher ticket price for customers.

On the other hand, travel websites acting as ticket middlemen purchased tickets at wholesale price. They are in competition with other travel websites to attract you to their websites. More competition translates to a better pocket for customers.

2. Country

Next tip is about the country you are visiting. Each country has a specialized or national travel websites that cater to foreigners.

For example, if you travel to the Great Britain or Paris, the national travel association offers unlimited entry pass to visit a multitude of attractions at one price. If don’t know about this offer and purchase tickets at a number of independent websites, you are guaranteed to spend more money, time and hassle.

On other occasions, if you travel to unfamiliar developing countries where infrastructure is not as adequate, it is better to make your arrangement via a trusted national agency who has long been in business.

3. Trustworthiness

Purchasing online is essentially the same as purchasing offline. The difference is security and convenience. Now that you are aware of the convenience, I will explain about security.

Online travel websites need to be secure and trustworthy. I am not talking about fraud only. From handling promotion, sales process to customer support, the company needs to be able to demonstrate its strength in doing business online.

I would typically look for Better Business Bureau (BBB) sign, investigate how long they have been in business, what guarantee, terms and conditions that the company holds before landing on one travel website.

Another indication is browsing through customer testimonials. Although they might be orchestrated, reading testimonials is a great way to understand the products and services of the company.

4. Savings

For budget-conscious customers, saving money on flight is definitely a win. The best advice is to plan your travel way in advance. Take advantage of pricing comparison websites or recurring promotions from each travel websites.

However, if you are on a time or budget constraint, knowing what website to baseline from will be beneficial. Again depending on your situation, I would recommend you start with priceline.com and bid for the lowest price. In parallel, you would go to special niches websites such as lastminute.com to shop around for ticket pricing.

For business flyers though, they are prepared to pay a higher fee for their ticket price. Business customers usually fly during weekdays and make last minute arrangements. The airline companies know this – that’s why last minute tickets are costly.

5. Uniqueness

The last important factor to select the best travel websites is how unique they are, compared with other websites.

Some websites are more user-friendly and informative; some others are very clunky yet professional. Finding what makes each website ticks will play well in your decision.

Availability of travel guide or blog is also crucial in my opinion. It shows that the company cares enough not only to sell the best priced tickets, but also the best total value experience.

In conclusion, selecting travel websites that suit your particular travel situation is important. Due to a heightened competition, customers will find the best value to their dream travel experience. Taking the time to understand which website is good at which niche will be beneficial in both short and long run.

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Demystifying The Cloud – How Small Businesses Can Leverage Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is redefining how businesses run, impacting the operations of large enterprises as well as start-ups. For some, the notion of “cloud computing” is a relatively new concept.

Cloud computing provides businesses with access to the valued end result or output of equipment and software, without the ownership or maintenance costs required by purchasing it. Most often, cloud computing is delivered as software as a service (SaaS) where users can access a web based solution via a subscription without the heavy investment in the IT infrastructure to support it. Recent growth in cloud computing is partly driven by the growth in mobile technology platforms that allow users to access information anywhere, anytime.

Although large enterprises with multiple geographically dispersed offices have benefitted from cloud computing, it has been an even greater benefit to small businesses. Small businesses now have access to enterprise solutions via cloud computing that would otherwise be unaffordable for them. Even more importantly, these cloud based solutions allow small business to function more like larger business in the information they can access while simultaneously maintaining the flexibility and agility of a small business, allowing them to react and adapt to situations.

Some of the benefits cloud computing provides for small businesses, include:

No heavy investment or maintenance costs in IT- The software as a service method allows multiple users to subscribe to the solution. The vendor providing the solution- Intaact, NetSuite, etc. absorbs the maintenance costs, and by offering the solution on a subscription basis can pass along cost savings due to economies of scale attributable to user volume.

Ease of implementation- Cloud based solutions eliminate the need for small businesses to invest in infrastructure development, training, and support. Businesses subscribe to the service, and training and support are provided by the vendor on an as needed basis. The business owner can subscribe and unsubscribe to the cloud service as they wish.

Redeployment of IT- For small business with limited manpower, cloud based services free up time for IT resources to be redeployed on more strategic initiatives or reduce the need for full time IT employees.

Security- Business owners should always check this, but reputable cloud based solutions are knowledgeable about the most up-to-date security measures and encryption technology. This becomes one critical task which the business owner does not need to address, as the responsibility is absorbed by the cloud service provider who may have more expertise in this arena.

Scalability- Most cloud providers offer packages with different access levels so that small businesses only need to pay for the services they require and use, resulting in overall cost savings for the small business.

Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery- As a small business, this is a critical task which can often lack the attention it deserves simply due to manpower and bandwidth. Cloud based services assist with this, as they back-up critical data offsite as part of providing the solution, facilitating access to this data in case of an emergency.

Small to mid-sized businesses have the most to gain from leveraging cloud based solutions in their business operations.

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Online Education – The Best Education Option in a Recession

The credit crunch and stock market crash will have an impact on households’ income and their ability to pay for college. The tuition fee, room, books, travel and other college expenses are continuing to soar while the economy has worsened. With today’s economy situation, it will be much more difficult to obtain a student loan. Parents are looking for alternative education options for their children and online education has came out to be the best education option that meets the tight education budget of the parents.

Prior to this economy crisis, students who choose to pursue their degree online are mainly enjoying the benefits of online education that give them flexibility study environment, but with economy downturn that leads to a recession, cost effectiveness of online degrees may become the key factor that divert many of pro campus-based parents and students to opt for online education.

Getting a degree through online education program can be a good option in the recession period. As the online education enable students to logon to the classes from their home or any location at their convenient, it eliminates the hassle of traveling to and from the college, while helping to save in term of traveling cost. Students who study at campus-based college that is far away from their home may need to relocate by renting a room and a house that close by; this additional cost can be saved by pursuing the same degree offered through online education.

Most learning materials used in online degree programs are in digital format that can be downloaded from the online learning system of the school. Although the online colleges may add some charges to the downloadable online learning materials, it still a saving if compare to the cost needed to purchase those printed books and references required by campus-based colleges.

Another key advantage of online education to be the best education option for those who have tight education budget is the online students can choose to work while pursuing their degree. Most online degree programs have some sort of flexibility that allows the students to plan their own pace of study. This advantage enables the students who are working for extra income to plan for their study time that fit into their working schedule. Moreover, the students who are working do not need to rush to college after work; instead, they can go home and take a bath and nice dinner before they logon to the online class from their comfort home.

Summary

In the bad economy situation, education for children still needed to be invested for their better future. But, with online education, parents have a better education option that can meet their children education requirement while fulfilling their tight budget plan.

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