Tuesday, September 29, 2009

PDF: The Great Equalizer

pdf.jpgThe other day, I was at a friend's house and I was typing up something on their computer. I used Microsoft Works, and then emailed myself a copy. Unfortunately, my computer doesn't support Works, so all I got was a garbled mess. If I had been able to convert it into an adobe pdf, I might not have been able to edit it again, but I could print it out on any computer, no matter what.

Converting works or word to pdf means that when you create a document, it is also going to look as you intended. It is not going to reformat itself. If a document reformats, it is sometimes time consuming to go back through the document and take out extra spaces and change fonts all over again.

You don't have to have any fancy software. A pdf reader is free for the download, but what do you do if you want to MAKE a pdf? There is software that you can download at Pdfconverted.com. It creates a virtual printer, where you can publish your documents into PDF format very easily. In fact, you can also convert PDF documents to a Word document, so that you may edit forms that someone sends for you to complete. If I had downloaded this on my friend's computer, I not only could have sent a readable copy home to my self, but I could have edited in Microsoft Word at a later date if I wanted to.

Have you tried the PDF Writer/Reader from PDFConverted.com? If you have been using it for awhile, tell us what you think.

No More Blue Screen of Death

The thing I dislike the most about Windows based computers is the mysterious error messages. Of course, they are only second to the "blue screen of death," but they are a very, very close second.

I recently found out that many of the errors occur because you don't have a clean registry. What exactly does that mean? The Windows registry stores all the configuration. When you get certain error messages, the fix for that was usually uninstalling and reinstalling Windows. It helped the computer function again, but it cluttered up the registry. In my case, I found that for awhile everything worked fine but the timetable between necessary reinstalls became shorter and shorter.

To correct the problem, you need to get ahold of a registry cleaner. You can download a free registry cleaner at Regwork.com. In addition, there are a few articles that you can read on the site that talk about making your computer run faster, or the ins and outs of Run Dll errors for the uninitiated (they appear as Rundll32, etcetera), explained in very simple terms.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fail Safe Phones

Years ago, I had a job in an outbound phone center. No, I was not a telemarketer. I was not selling anything. I was using an automated phone system for outbound calling, but people always were interested in hearing from me. No, they weren't interested in hearing from me individually and specifically, but the company I worked for. People would go in to get the warranty repairs done on their vehicles. I would call them and make sure it went well.

The nerve wrecking thing about it was that we had to record everything on paper. There was a form to fill out on the computer as we went through the call, but the meat of everything was what we jotted down on paper. Needless to say, there were no recorded calls. It would have been nice because when we had an abusive customer we could show the supervisors that we ended the call for a reason, not because we were lazy. Also, to the customers' benefit, we could have record of an ongoing warranty problem that they had been having if they ever had to reference it again.

It is not surprise that now phone systems are available that are completely automated. There are PBX systems that are fully integrated to data, and they are easy to manage and have power-fail transfer ports so you are not completely out when there is a power surge or an outage. That's good news for you as a business.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Lock and Load!

locker.gifSpeaking of keggers and "growing up" and growing out of them, one fixture of high school and college has always been the banks and banks of lockers. As you grew older and succeeded to the next grade level, they just got smaller and smaller. In one junior high I attended, they looked like just a bunch of slits. You could stuff a coat in there sideways, but that was about it. You almost had to carry your books to several classes with you just because they wouldn't fit if you had them all in your locker at once.

At a few art shows and antique fairs, I have seen a few school lockers either as singles, or in sets of two or three together. I never knew people were that nostalgic for them. More so, people are choosing to put them in their industial style home design or they sift through the lockers for sale looking for a solution for their garage.

You may have to spray paint some of the old ones to make them usable, but now they sell lockers over the web brand new. There are even wood lockers out there, like the one at left. I think it would look spiffy with all the midcentury danish modern furniture.

Whether you have a hankering for the good old days, or want something streamlined for the home, I am sure you will find something to suit either in a modular unit, assembled, or "put together."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Feeling Down About Your Down Spouts?

rainchain.jpgFrom time to time, we have talked about unique elements to restore a very historical home. Whether it be a bungalow or a Victorian, there are ways to take it back in time. What if you rather not have every accessory lend to a time capsule atmosphere, but wanted something that is unique, creative, yet timeless.

White, square gutters are a big improvement over other solutions over the years. They avoid many problems of strain on the roof. Did you know that many folks are using rain chains instead?

What is a rain chain, you ask? It is a series of connected cups, funnels, and spouts that carry the rain from the rooftop to the ground. Many are made of copper and they create an interesting patina over time. The attach or rest right to the gutter hole, so it doesn't involve any alteration to the home.

Rain chains come in many elegant and whimsical designs. In fact, they are nothing new. They have had them in Japan for hundreds of years. They have not caught on in a widespread way in the United States, but slowly you see unique homes adding them. They are also great for garden vignettes. If you have an arbor, overhang, or gazebo. If you are looking for something that not every one of your neighbors have, this could well be the answer.

Labels: , ,

The Most Expensive Socks In The World: Fight Back!

socks.jpgRecently, a family member was hospitalized for an extended period of time. I was the one who was helping them go over all the bills. I half expected to see some major price gouging on basic supplies like aspirin and gauze, and I was correct. They even charged them for an entire case of footies and medical stockings, even though they only used a couple of pairs. The medical stockings were later recommended for home use for edema.

You can be sure after I found Discountsurgical.com on the web, that we will be ordering from there. It may sound like I am wishing ill on my relatives by even thinking about it, but the next time I have a loved one in the hospital, I am going to bring them socks. This will probably save them $40-150 a day on their medical bill.

Some footwear that they have at the hospital look like something from my sock drawer. I was educated on compression footwear. Special socks and hose actually help with circulation as they provide a bit of compression. In fact the compression is the most intense near the ankle and gradually reduces as you move up the sock. As their is movement in the legs and the calf muscles pump, the compression increases circulation in both the circulatory and lymphatic systems.

sock_puppet.jpgYou can be sure after I found Discountsurgical on the web, that we will be ordering from there. It may sound like I am wishing ill on my relatives by even thinking about it, but the next time I have a loved one in the hospital, I am going to bring them socks. This will probably save them $20-60 a day on their medical bill.

On another note, the ones that are not used would make great sock puppets. You would have more room for your forearm as the knee sock is not compressed at the top, and it would not be baggy around the wrist. That is the biggest complaint when making a sock puppet. Baggy wrists, especially for the hands of younger children.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Gold Standard Is...Gold

gold.jpgThroughout the last year or two, I noticed more and more signs going up all over town, informing people that a particular business is in the market to purchase gold coins and jewelry. It is nothing new to trade in old gold, but for some people, gold is seen as a steadier investment at the moment. Gold is slightly up. You wonder how jewelers want to buy it if they aren't making much of a profit. In fact, they are. They are paying a little more for gold, but are getting a little more for it too, so any loss is negligible compared to the increased press they are getting. Volume wins out.

Similarly, there are many gold funds that are attracting new investors. Some are encouraging you to purchase gold bullion. Where would you keep it? It would be awfully uncomfortable to hide it under your mattress like in the old days. Truth be told, you don't really physically own the bullion. Just like getting a paper print out on the stocks you own, you own it on paper.

If you decide to
purchase gold as a more stable investment, I would hesitate, just like any other decision, before pouring one's life savings into it right off the bat. I would do the research, or start with some rainy day money.

Clip Coupons, But Give Your Scissors a Break

coupons.jpgI remember eating breakfast on Sunday morning. My mother would sift through the sunday paper and clip coupon after coupon. The internet has really expanded the hunt for coupons. Maybe she rubbed off on me. Once, I had a coupon for my favorite candy, and it just so happened that an online retailer had a "buy one get one" offer. With using my code for my $2.00 off coupon, I got two bags for a 1/4 of the price of one.

You not only can get coupon codes online, but people alert others to deals at stores that they can piggyback with coupons. It is hobby for some, and definitely the thrill of the chase for others.

In some cases, you can print out coupons that are the same that you would see in your weekly store flier. Manufacturers also have their own sites with discounts for their products. One other method of saving money is to go to sites that offer discount codes to various online merchants. Many of these codes are for free shipping or percentages or dollar amounts off for a certain purchase amount. The danger in it is when you purchase things that you wouldn't normally purchase just because there is a sale.

The best option is to make a purchase decision first, and then search for coupon codes. There may be an incentive to wait until you find one, or to wait for the store to offer an additional discount for you to stack with the coupon code. Be aware that if you wait, the item may no longer be available, so you need to weigh all your options carefully.

Virus Software Is Like a Vaccine for Your Computer

Periodically, a computer virus makes the evening news. Some of them have caused monumental damage, other times they have not made the complete rounds, but they are something the average person could get. They think that it would be very easy for someone to want to click on a particular link and give them a nice trojan horse.

Thankfully, there are more software programs that have come out that give you increased computer protection. Shouldn't you just have to worry about it once? In other words, can't you just buy or download one program and you are done, like not needing 12 word processing programs? The truth is that spyware, trojans, and computer worms keep evolving. It seems when one is stopped, some sick hearted person writes another one that improves upon the first.

Just like getting a new vaccine for a new type of flu strain, its smart to update your protection software. Either upgrade what you have, or buy a new type. How often you update is up to you. Only you can assess and determine your risk when roaming around the internet or in receiving emails. Look for an interacting software that can notify the software author of new threats. This way, they can constantly change their gameplan to combat the latest threats.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Make Like a Turtle and Move Your Office With You

139.jpgI have driven down some long country roads the last time I went to Florida. Off the beaten path, you find some interesting trees, shops, and wildlife. There were tree farms, and automotive businesses alike that seemed to have a small metal building instead of a concrete, permanent structure. All that was needed for the business was a little area for shelter for employees or volunteers, and perhaps a place to store paperwork and the like. To me, it seemed to be a portable office, as with some doing, you could probably put it anywhere on the property. I would imagine if it was a seasonal business, it could just go on the back of a trailer.

Little did I know that there are actually businesses devoted to portable cabins, such as the Jackson Group in the UK. In fact, poking around the website I found that the insides were more deluxe than I would have imagined. The walls are a melamine on the inside, which is a bit different than the corrugated steel look that I was expecting. I could imagine one at a movie set, not just at a construction site.

Whatever style of portable accommodation you need, it appears that you can get it. There are units that have multiple rooms. While I wouldn't recommend staying the night as there is no bathroom, I think you could easily put a cot in there if you were using it as hunting outpost or an outpost for selling your yearly Christmas trees. I think it would make a great dressing room, too, for trade or clothing expositions.

The possibilities are endless. What would you use a portable office for?

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wine Lovers Only Need a Small Space

winerack.jpgWith the right amount of creativity, living in a tiny place is not a symbol of being down on your luck. On the contrary, a small space can be turned into an enviable jewel box. Some of the most wonderful apartments and homes in the city are less than 1,000 square feet in size. The smallest I have seen that was enviable was 400.

One of the best ways to create the look is to have a place for everything. stemware racks are something that can definitely fit the bill. It serves two purposes. The first is strictly utilitarian. The glasses are up and out of the way instead of taking up precious shelf space. You can't exactly stack them.

The second is purely aesthetic. By evoking the look of bar glass racks, you can create an old Hollywood look. You can put them in a nook or shelf area with vintage ashtrays, or metallic picture frames featuring stars of the silver screen era. The glasses can be a part of a vignette, in other words, until you are ready to use them. You can also create the look of a tiny mini bar.

One other idea is to have a small foldable rack, like the one at left.  You can easily have a wine glass rack, wine, and other accessories easily accessible to guests without having it front and center at all times. It also helps you set the stage for a dinner party by bringing it out and perhaps changing the placemats, and adding candles.

Whatever you decide, you don't have to go for broke to optimize your storage space or to have your wine accessories accessible.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Car Insurance: Let Them Fight Over You

Free Pictures | acobox.comLately, I have been shopping around for car insurance. I have lived in places where I didn't need a car. Public transportation was not only available, but the majority of people used it and only used their car on weekends. Then, there was a period of time I was carless due to some mishaps. Now, I am ready to go look at a car, and I am really excited.

I long for the days when you could tinker with your own car. Because I have a fondness for older vehicles, I have been thinking about just simply getting liability insurance. It would cover any property damage, or any injury to myself or others. It would not replace the car, but that would be okay based on the age and value of the car. It would be more economical to just get another one than fix. States do not require anything more than liability to get your car on the road. Though it would be nice to have a higher level of coverage, I am a safe driver so don't usually use the extras. Of course, they say it is not yourself that you have to look out for, but for others.

What I didn't think about before is if I shopped around, I might be able to find insurance premiums that afford me more coverage by changing my deductible. If I have a higher deductible, my premium would go down. What would be the point where my deductible was so high it didn't make sense? I am not sure. I guess its back to the drawing board. If I go to Americancarquotes.com, I can plug in my info and insurance companies can compete for me. Now, that's a change.


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

File Extensions Are Us

driver_cure.jpgSometimes, friends send me documents. The attachments almost always have an extension that is totally Greek to me. Lately, I have been getting quite a few with file extension mso What is a file extension? Those are the letters after the dots in a file name. For example, let's say you are sending a photo of your dog Sparky, and you named the file "Sparky." The file name might be Spark.jpg. The file extension is .jpg.

Now that you know what a file extension is, you are most likely wondering what file extension mso is. MSO indicates that the file was written in a Microsoft Office program. Unlike a .jpg, the file cannot be read on its own. It is sort of an added ingredient when you email a Microsoft Office file. The best way I can describe the situation is that it helps the email client handle the file properly.

How did I get so smart about file extension mso if I hinted before that I don't know all of these crazy little acronyms? There is a program named DriverCure that is available for a download that helps you out with all of these little mysteries. It corrects and updates all the drivers in your computer so that every little file can be launched and communicates properly with your system.


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Warm Heart, Warm Feet

radiantheat.gifIn home renovations, one thing people don't always consider is the option of Radiant heat coming through the floor. Most people consider it a luxury item only. There are high end homes where the bathroom has a heated floor, but that is considered luxurious and excessive.

Did you know that in years past, that kind of heating was considered practical and it was a little more common. It was seen at just above entry level price points in most cases. A relative of mine bought a small house in Florida. It is about 1400 square feet. It has radiant heat in the ceiling, rather than the floor. You just felt so much warmer with your feet toasty or the heat coming through the walls. It is very efficient. There are no hot and cold parts of the house. There is also no loud rattle that a radiator would give off.

The other nice thing with having it in an older home or retrofitting it is that there is no "blow back" from the furnace. That was an adventure one day at Grandma's house when we all came home to dust everywhere. I am too young to remember how it happened, but it definitely happened.

Would you consider radiant heat knowing how efficient is?

Labels: ,