Arcade Fun

November 2, 2016

An arcade often refers to an entertainment establishment or an area within an amusement park that houses different coin-operated machines and video games. It is a popular hangout for many teenagers and young adults alike. However, there are still a number of adults who still enjoy a game or two when visiting arcades. The different types of arcade games include video games, pinball machines, shooting galleries, ball toss games, crane machines, dance and music games, and simulated games, among many others. Most, if not all, arcade games are coin, token or magnetic card operated, and you can get a prize immediately or collect tickets or points for redemption of various items depending on the number of tickets or points.Arcade and video games’ origins can be traced back in early 20th century and grew in popularity in the 1970s with machines built mostly by Japanese companies such as Atari. However, coin operated games can actually be traced back as early as 350 BC during the time of Alexander the Great. According to one story, there was a man who presented Alexander the Great a game that once you placed a coin in it, the players would be able to bring balls up and down to disappear in several holes as controlled by the players. The winner could get twice what was given as a bet. Another coin operated machine used as a game of chance and to win some money was a slot machine invented by a jester in 1108. It was described similarly to the slot machines we know today – put in a coin, operate the level and get a chance to double your money.

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Subsequently, other coin operated games were invented and introduced to the public with intention of providing entertainment and multiple chances of winning more than they betted. The rise in producing different kinds and types of coin operated machines for entertainment started around the late 1800s but reached its highest peak, including other arcade and video games, in early 2000. However, from 2004 until pretty much today, there was a decline in arcade games with the rise in popularity of portable video game gadgets such as Play Station and PSP, Xbox, Wii, PCs, and even mobile phones, among many others.Nevertheless, arcades in different parts of the country still have considerable following especially as part of amusement parks and inside shopping malls. Young kids and teenagers can still be seen hanging out in arcades to meet friends and to compete with others who have the same interest on playing arcade and video games. Nowadays, the most popular arcade and video games include Sega’s Extreme Hunting 2 Tournament (video kit), JVL’s Retro (countertop), Raw Thrills-Betson’s Fast & Furious (video dedicated), Raw Thrills-Betson’s Fast & Furious Super Bikes (video simulators), Stern Pinball’s Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean (pinball game), Skee-Ball’s Skee-Ball Too! (alley bowlers), Skee-Ball’s Super Shot (sports games), Rainbow’s Rainbow (cranes & rotaries), Betson’s Sponge Bob Jellyfish (children’s games), ICE’s Deal or No Deal (novelty games), Family Fun Co.’s Football Fortune (coin drop), Benchmark’s Wheel Deal (coin drop), Andamiro’s Hammer (bopping/stomping games), and LAI Games’ Stacker (prize vendors), among many others.

3 Benefits to Using Cloud Yoga Business Software for Your Yoga Studio

August 8, 2016

A Fictional Tale of Two Yoga Teachers:Wendy and John are each starting a yoga studio. They have their space, a website, and recently opened for business.They also chose to administer as much of their business as possible on computers (who doesn’t these days). They each have a laptop so they can be mobile, or so they think. They also have a desktop in their studio.Students are coming to their classes and they’re delighted by this. Yet, they both desire more students. Their business is in a growth stage.When not teaching classes and chatting with students, they’re on their computers taking care of the financial aspects, marketing, curriculum / class planning, and overall administration of their business.When they started, they weren’t sure the direction their business would take so they held off buying any specific business management software. Instead they used Word and Excel to take care of their software needs. So far their software set up is working okay, but they see the writing on the wall how something more sophisticated could save them time.Wendy and John go online to start looking at yoga business software options. They’re pleased that there’s a lot of options. Of course options mean making a decision.Wendy decides to go with a cloud computing software platform while John opts for an installation software option.Wendy’s option requires that she pay a monthly cost to use her software. John likes the fact he only pays one time for the software.Wendy logs into her software account through the Internet and sets up your software for your business. It takes a few days to get familiar with it, but within a week she has her software working for her with a class schedule set up and she’s put her student contact information into the database. She also set up her autoresponder email account and integrated it with your student contacts.John installed his software on both his laptop and desktop computer. He opted for no server and instead figured out how to network the two computers together so when a change is made in one computer it’s reflected in the other computer. He spent about a day getting his software installed and networked.

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Like Wendy, he takes a few days inputting his student contact information and formatting his class schedule in the scheduling software. His email software is separate, but he’s managed to integrate it using an APP with his installation-based yoga business software.Fast forward 2 years. Both their yoga businesses are doing better than ever. Each of them hire 2 teachers to teach designated classes and a receptionist. This growth required more computers for their staff. Wendy, simply upgrades here software to add another user. Her staff simply logs into the software through the Internet.John buys another license and then goes through the installation process. Now he must network another computer. He’s read that using a server is a good idea, but has no idea how to set up a server. Given his business is growing, he decides to hire a networking consultant. After buying a dedicated server and paying networking consultant fees, John spent $1,500. His software also upgraded 6 months ago and so he paid $300 in upgrade fees.As their businesses grew, both Wendy and John started selling some retail items in their studio and on their website. They also discovered how effective email marketing is to student retention and growing their business. Wendy’s online software platform offered e-commerce, credit card processing, and integrated e-mail marketing software. She was able to set up her stores and beef up her e-mail marketing quickly.John leased credit card processing hardware, bought a license for e-commerce software and continues to use his original e-mail marketing software that’s integrated with his student contact database.At this point Wendy’s entire yoga business software is centralized and accessible over the Internet. John uses several software services that are installed and networked among his computers. As John’s business grows, his computing needs become more complex and he now has his networking consultant on speed-dial.He now budgets annually for computer consultant fees – something he never anticipated. He of course has heard about cloud software and is now interested in making the switch, but is reluctant given the amount he’s invested in his desktop installation software. He’s going to wait and see.Wendy pays a monthly fee for her service, but is pleased with how easy it is to add new users and grow her business with hardly an interruption in doing her core activities – which is teaching yoga and marketing her business. In fact, Wendy is considering opening another yoga studio knowing aside from finding and designing space, here business is easily duplicated at another location.John would love to expand to another location, but is concerned about the expense of expanding and managing his business so that all his business information integrates seamlessly between his multiple locations. He puts expansion on hold.About Cloud Computing SoftwareWhat is Cloud Computing Software?It’s software that’s hosted by the software company. When you sign up, you get an account and all your software is handled on the cloud – that is hosted and powered by the company’s servers – not your servers. You simply access it online.The biggest reason business owners are reluctant to use cloud computing is the ongoing cost. Most cloud computing software platforms charge monthly to use the service. This ongoing cost is understandably a concern, especially for new businesses. The last thing you want is to be committed to ongoing costs if at all possible avoided.However, when you look at the long-term of your business, and your software in particular, there’s ease-of-use and expansion to consider. With installation software you must always consider the upgrade costs and potential for paying consultants to maintain and grow your network. These unforeseen costs can be hefty in the long run.
3 Key Benefits to Using Cloud Software for Your Yoga Business Software

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1. Access it AnywhereBecause it’s accessible over the Internet, you can access your entire software set up wherever you have an Internet connection (which is pretty much everywhere these days).2. Integrates it with your WebsitesA quality cloud software service for yoga studios makes it easy to update it simultaneously with your websites. For example, when you make changes to your class schedule, those changes are immediately reflected on your website where you post your class schedule. There’s no need to go into your website(s) and manually make the changes (assuming you remember to do this).Also, if you have e-commerce on your website selling gift certificates, yoga class packages, and perhaps gear and apparel, when you make pricing changes (or any changes) in your software, it’s immediately reflected in your website(s).3. No installation and networking costsThis is a biggie. Many business owners when starting out with buying software tend to undermine this. With cloud computing you don’t have to worry about installation and networking your software. As you can see from the above Tale of 2 Yoga Teachers, John’s software costs escalated beyond what he anticipated because of unforeseen consultant costs. This is common with specialized business installation software. Networking software among computers is not an easy task and usually requires an expert to do it well.Will your yoga business fail by not using cloud computing yoga business software? No, but it could make administration and growth more difficult.

Importance of Branding for E-Commerce Businesses

October 11, 2016

E-commerce businesses are becoming a reliable way to buy products online. Branding plays a direct role in improving chances of e-commerce business success. An increasing number of global customers are switching to e-commerce sites to purchase everything from groceries to apparel, and electronics to lifestyle products. The e-commerce industry has completely transformed the way in which consumers around the world access products and services. It has suddenly brought a world of options to the fingertips of end users. The future seems bright for the e-commerce industry, with major players branching out into newer product categories frequently (thus setting the standards for smaller brands).For e-commerce businesses, things are going well enough, but the competition is also fierce. New e-commerce brands are launching every day and persistently trying to get a foothold online. When it comes to branding, e-commerce companies are leaving no stone unturned. In this scenario, it is vital that you build and implement a high quality branding strategy for your e-commerce business.Branding Strategies For E-Commerce BusinessesBy having a result-oriented, effective branding plan for your e-commerce business, you can stand out amongst your competitors. To achieve that, you must determine what makes your e-commerce business a unique player in the industry. Are you offering high quality products at the best available rates? Do you organize regular discounts and offers for your customers? Are you adding new product categories to meet more customer demands? What are the factors that would convince customers to choose your brand against others? E-commerce business owners must strive to highlight the unique selling points of their brand. Only then can an e-commerce brand be boldly promoted to larger audiences.

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As an e-commerce brand, you have to be at the forefront when it comes to attracting product vendors as well as consumers to your e-store. Vendors would be interested in using your marketplace, if it has a strong brand that keeps providing value to customers. The number of sellers and customers you bring in to your network depends on the strength of your e-commerce brand, and how well it delivers on its promises. If you are intelligent in your branding, and consistent in your service quality, your e-commerce brand can achieve considerable success.E-commerce branding, like all branding, is influencing the perception of your brand and its services, in the eyes of the customer. Effective e-commerce branding will make marketing easier, retain more customers, drive up loyalty, and create better potential value for steady, long-term success.The way you must approach an e-commerce branding strategy is by highlighting some key points. With branding, you must uphold your business’s core mission, the problems you aim to solve for your customers, standards that it adheres to, and proof of the quality of services you provide. What are the factors involved in business branding and their importance?E-Commerce Branding – Methods and Importance1. Your Brand Image – A stellar, uniquely identifiable brand image helps customers attach value to your e-commerce brand’s personality. This includes various things such as logos, banners, taglines, marketing captions, social content etc., which should always represent your brand the best. This is quite important if you want to create value for potential customers and convert them into loyal customers. A good brand image goes a long way in retaining customers, by continually generating interest for your e-commerce brand’s offerings.2. Customer Satisfaction – Customers are everything, when it comes to e-commerce or any other type of business. You can actually enhance customer experiences and drive up satisfaction (and loyalties). This is a big part of establishing your e-commerce brand. Put your best foot forward while marketing, deliver on your promises you make, and provide unmatched service and support to enhance your brand’s potential value. Remember that satisfied existing customers can and will bring in newer customers to your e-commerce business. Maintain your integrity and keep reinventing to bolster your brand’s chances of business success.3. Find Your Unique Selling Proposition – As an e-commerce business owner you must determine the USP of your brand. This will help you brand and promote it better to larger groups of potential customers. Think about what sets you apart from dozens of competitors vying for true e-commerce glory. Is it your service quality or support? Is it the trust of your customers and your track record? Do you provide innovative offers, discounts and promotions on special occasions? Do you house the widest variety of rare products? You must determine why customers would choose your e-commerce site. What extra value can you offer to your potential customers that convince them to use your platform again and again? Find your USP and use it to strengthen your brand.

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4. Utilize All Channels – Technological advances in the past decade demand that your e-commerce business maximizes its presence on all social, web-based and mobile platforms. More and more potential customers buy and sell through handheld devices, and almost all of them are on social websites. All your competitors are doing it, and so should you. It will help you make your brand easily accessible to larger audiences, which in turn will bring more conversions and significantly better revenues. Social and mobile should be the front and center of your branding strategy.E-commerce sites can benefit from the above mentioned branding strategies. By using the concepts provide here, you can establish your e-commerce brand and take your business to the next level.

A to Z Guide to Wedding Planning!

September 29, 2016

A is for Atmosphere
Setting the scene for the perfect wedding can be a daunting task and with wedding trends changing rapidly over time, it can mean decision making is hard. Often the best place to start is by thinking about the formality of the event and how you would like your guests to feel on your wedding day! Whether you choose a relaxed garden wedding with subtle coloring and natural tones or a themed wedding at a wild venue with bold wedding colors and outlandish wedding decorations, whichever way you go it is the wedding atmosphere that you create that will generate the most memories!

B is for Bachelorette Party & Bridal Shower
Second to choosing your bridesmaids, this is often the next stage in the planning of your pre-wedding activities! This is the event, other than the wedding itself, that the girls look forward to most! Renowned as the tamer of the two, a bridal shower is a gift-giving party held for a bride-to-be in anticipation of her wedding, it is a time for the females in your life to get to know each other and to share advice before your big day.The Bachelorette Party also known as a hens night, hens party or hens do on the other hand is deemed “an evening of debauchery,” a girls night out in honor of the bride-to-be in the style that is common to that social circle. This is when the bridesmaids take control, organising silly outfits for the bride, dares and games along with gifts for the girls including name tags, fun drinking straws along with personalised bachelorette koozies for a unique gift idea!

C is for Ceremony
Ultimately your ceremony, the moment where two people are united in marriage, is the reason you are planning this special day. The way that you choose to perform your ceremony and the wedding reception that follows are often linked in formality and theme and the options are endless.For the ceremony you will have to give some thought to the location, a church or temple, beach, garden or formal venue often this is driven by the choice for a civil or religious ceremony. Most ceremonies have a similar structure, with your vows, readings and music making a personal service.

D is for Destination Wedding
More and more couples are escaping the traditional big celebration wedding in favor of a smaller more intimate ceremony in an exotic location. Whether your destination wedding is overseas or interstate it can still take a lot of organization, not only for the couple and the wedding day itself but in making it fabulous for the guests that have gone that extra mile to share in your special day!

E is for Engagement
Congratulations on your Engagement, let the fun begin. Start with your engagement announcements, maybe a notice in the newspaper to inform the community or an item that you can send in the mail to let your friends and family know the good news! If you are moving fast you could even add your wedding save the date to your engagement announcement to help with your planning budget.Some couples will choose to have an engagement party, an opportunity to celebrate with family and friends and for future guests to get to know each other before the big day. Engagement party favors are often handed out to the guests as a thank you for attending, such as candy treats or custom beer koozies to take home as a memento.

F is for Favors
Wedding favors also known as bonbonniere are small gifts given as a gesture of thanks to guests from the bride and groom. Wedding favor ideas have become a major part of wedding planning, with modern gift trends including: CDs with the favorite music of the bride and groom, candy jars, picture frames and wedding koozies. Gifts may also be personalized with the couple’s names, initials or wedding date and even an individual guest name to create a gift and place card.

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If you choose wedding Koozies as your wedding favors then it is a great idea to start browsing the designs a few weeks before you need them to be delivered. There is an extensive range of designs available to help you create the perfect match to your wedding color scheme, theme and more. Please read a previous article to help with your design; Personalized Wedding Favors on a Budget – Inspiration for Wedding Koozies to Wow Your Guests!

G is for Gift
A wedding present is a gift taken by a guest to congratulate the couple on their marriage. There is usually some etiquette when it comes to gift giving, some couples may choose to take the hard work out of this for their guests and have a gift registry with a wish list to choose from. Others may have a wishing well, this is where guests can anonymously drop cards and monetary gifts into a box known as a wishing well to help the couple on their way to starting a new life together.

H is for Honeymoon
A honeymoon is the traditional holiday taken by newlyweds to celebrate their marriage in seclusion. Jetting off to somewhere exotic and romantic is not uncommon although the holiday should be something of choice that suits the couple’s outlook and interests. For couples on a budget a destination wedding can be a great way to spread the cost making the addition of a few days for a honeymoon easy.

I is for Invitations
Wedding invitations are a great way to set the scene for your guests. As a follow on from your wedding announcement or save the dates, your wedding invitations can be fun or formal but should be informative and hold an RSVP date so that you can keep to a deadline in your wedding planning.In modern times the way an invitation arrives is becoming more and more imaginative, you might choose a link to an online wedding website where guests can respond electronically or include a link to a video message. Items sent in the mail can also be creative and unique such as origami style folded gifts, printing a message on a balloon that can only be read once blown up or sending custom wedding koozies for your guests to enjoy at home and on bring on the day!

J is for Jewellery
Wedding jewellery can be simple and sophisticated or bold and colorful. This is a very personal choice that that bride will make when choosing her wedding dress and bridal party attire.Sometimes traditional jewellery will be passed down the generations within a family, bridal accessories can include earrings, bracelets, tiaras and hair combs to name a few.

K is for Kiss
“You may now kiss the bride”… the words that the groom has been waiting for all day! Many couples will have a discussion prior to the wedding about the kiss, some even finding this the moment that makes them most nervous! Questions like, how long should it be? Should it be a full-on smooch? Or just a peck? What is the etiquette in wedding kisses? The answer to which is that there is not really an etiquette, just show each other how happy you are to be making this promise to each other and show this off to your guests, just bear in mind that you might be in front of your parents, grandparents and young children.

L is for Love
LOVE. An intense feeling of deep affection and the reason you have been ploughing all of your time into planning the ultimate wedding celebration. Say no more.

M is for is for Music
One big question for your wedding reception, DJ or Band? Often the answer to which is dependent on budget, formality of your event and location. There is also the decision of which music you should be walking down the aisle to, creating an amazing playlist that will get your guests on their feet and of course the first dance! Here are our choices for a first dance song;Top 5 First Dance Wedding Songs

Make You Feel My Love – Adele

You Are The Best Thing – Ray LaMontagne

Kiss Me – Ed Sheeran

The Way You Look Tonight – Michael Bublé

Better Together – Jack Johnson

N is for New
If you are following tradition in the sense of the rhyme “something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue” then this is your something NEW! You can include your wedding dress as your something new if it is made to order, or perhaps one of your bridal accessories or a fancy new pair of shoes. Let’s face it when it comes to your wedding there will be a whole heap of items that you can consider using to tick this box!

O is for Outdoor Wedding Venue
Weddings are often planned for the perfect weather, the most popular seasons for a wedding are spring and summer so that you can have great light for your wedding photographs and that you have the best chance of enjoying sunny spells outdoors with your guests over welcome drinks.Your outdoor wedding venue might be in a national park, flower garden, winery or a beautiful beach, whichever you choose for your outdoor wedding be sure to have a wet weather plan on hand, just in case!

P is for Photographer
Wedding photography for a lot of couples is a big box to tick. It is lovely to be able to capture your big day and all of that hard work into images that you can cherish for years to come. Choosing a photographer can be a daunting task, be sure to ask around for recommendations, view portfolios of previous work and get to know your photographer so that they learn to capture what is important to you. Looking at your photographs together as a family is a beautiful way to connect after the event, each image will tell its own story and each story will be a memory captured for life!

Q is for Quiz
The Mr & Mrs Quiz, the ultimate quiz that any bachelorette should have to complete on their ‘last night of freedom’..! It is a fun way for the maid of honor to connect with and get to know the groom before the event. She will prepare a series of questions that the groom will answer, things can of course get a little cheeky depending on the formality of the bridal shower or bachelorette party, the bride will then need to see how many answers she can match to the groom’s responses, often followed by a forfeit for every wrong answer.

R is for Reception
Wedding reception, this is the fun part, after you have nervously said your vows in front of your family and friends you can relax with food, drinks and dancing at your wedding reception. Wedding reception ideas include a formal sit-down meal, cocktail reception or a casual beach BBQ. You can usually leave this up to your wedding planner or venue to organise, that way you can enjoy the celebration and spending time with your guests.

S is for Save the Dates & Stationery
Your wedding announcement and first item of wedding stationery is your Save the Date! An ideal gift used for long engagements this is designed to be sent out to your guests well in advance of the formal invitation, once you have your date set you can mail these out so that your guests can save the date in their diary. Some popular methods of sending a save the date include; postcards, calendars, tickets, magnets, custom beer koozies and more.

T is for Table Plan
T is also for troublesome, often considered one of the most controversial parts of the wedding planning process, the dreaded table plan! Great aunt Joan cannot be near second cousin John and really you’d like to sit with your pals rather than follow the traditional top table style with your parents… at the end of the day this is your wedding and as a couple you should be able to choose a seating plan to suit your wedding formality and your guests.

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U is for Ushers
An usher, also known as a groomsman is normally a friend of the groom that has been recruited to direct guests at the ceremony, and generally be available to the bride and groom for assistance throughout the whole wedding event. The ushers would generally be dressed in the same wedding attire as the groom and best man and would feature in the formal wedding photographs alongside the bridesmaids.

V is for Vows
The exchange of wedding vows is an important part of your wedding ceremony. It can be a very romantic moment and often the perfect place to express your feelings for each other. Vows can be modern or traditional, led by a minister or celebrant, written for you or by you and can be tailored to your individual personalities.

W is for Wedding Dress
Almost every girls wedding dream begins with the dress! There are so many gorgeous styles available and all designed to suit different shapes and sizes… you can find the perfect wedding dress style amongst these… Ball gown, mermaid, A-line, Sheath. Strapless, V-neck, halter-neck, one-shoulder, illusion and more!Once you have found the perfect style, you can start to create a unique look through the color and density of the material, heavier fabrics such as brocade and jacquard or lighter materials like silk and chiffon, traditionally a wedding dress would be predominantly white or ivory in color, but these days anything goes!

X is for X -rated (entertainment at bachelor party)
Although it is not necessarily the way every groom will spend their last night of ‘freedom’, the bachelor party, as portrayed in the movie The Hangover, certainly has a reputation for being a night or indeed a weekend of debauchery! Some will go all out with a weekend in Vegas, but generally the party vibe will include trendy bars, nightclubs and, most importantly, strip clubs!Much like the bachelorette party, this is where the best man and other members of the bridal party will shine with ideas, organising embarrassing outfits for the groom, along with drinking games and dares! Gifts for the guys might include matching t-shirts, shot glasses, beer horns or custom beer koozies personalised for each of the guys!

Y is for Years
The number of years spent together, number of years engaged and then number of years married. Once your wedding day becomes a wonderful memory you have the many years of wedding anniversaries to look forward to and to celebrate. Each anniversary that passes will have a symbolic gift that is presented, there is both a traditional and modern gift here is the traditional list;

1st Paper

2nd Cotton

3rd Leather

4th Fruit/Flowers

5th Wood

10th Tin/Aluminium

15th Crystal

20th China

25th Silver

30th Pearl

35th Coral

40th Ruby

45th Sapphire

50th Gold

60th Diamond

Z is for Zero Regrets
In a perfect world, every bride and groom would have the perfect wedding with absolutely no mishaps. However, this is not the perfect world and every turn makes for a new story! Our only advice is to enjoy every minute of your special day, spend as much time with each guest as you possibly, and have zero regrets!

Why Personal Finance Software Is Important

October 4, 2016

Why personal finance software is important These days, technology has really revolutionized people’s way of life, including their financial life. Back in the day, most people used a pen and paper to document their earnings, spending, and finances.What is personal finance software?Home finance software refers to a financial tool that enables you to prepare a budget, track your expenses, and check your overall finances. These days, there is no valid reason why you should be disorganized and mired in debt because there are many good personal finance programs that you can use to keep track of your money, plan your future, and completely control your finances. If you have a PC or laptop, you are lucky because you can easily find good home finance software at little cost. Application programmers have now catered for the high demand for these applications as they now come with all sorts of functions and capabilities that can save your money, time and effort.

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AnalysisYou can now analyze your finances unaided. However, this kind of analysis can be much easier if you have some accounting background. Finance software will analyze your important financial details. Details such as your monthly expenses will stick out. Many personal finance applications also allow personalization. If there is one particular aspect you want to know about your finances, you can simply create a specialized analysis. Many personal finance programs can also give you a monthly analysis-an excellent way to see how you actually spend your money on a monthly basis.Budget creationWe all know the importance of a personal budget. But creating a real budget that you’ll stick to is easier said than done. You can find a personal finance application that creates a realistic budget for you. Simply enter your basic information into the software and quickly create a simple budget.Checkbook balances and bill paymentsSometimes you’ll fail to pay bills on time. When it happens, interest rates are more than likely to shoot up. Fortunately, you can avoid this mistake once and for all. Look for a personal finance application that’ll remind you when to pay your bills. Likewise, you can accomplish balancing your checkbook by just ticking a box. Sum up any amounts withdrawn from your account and check carefully anything that seems suspicious. Once you have everything on record, it becomes much easier to know how your finances are faring.

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Trust yourself and no one elseWhen it comes to finances, it is best to keep track of all you have carefully. You may trust your finances with your financial adviser, but it is still important to know where every cent is at, always. With a personal finance application, your money will never be far away from you. Whether you are paying bills, balancing your checkbook, tracking your paycheck, or creating a personal budget, you should not live without personal finance software.

Outsource Your Online Business Creation And Focus On Marketing

October 4, 2016

When marketing online, you will tend to try to do everything by yourself in order to save money. Good if you are expert in everything that you intend to do but you are just wasting a lot of time and effort if you are new and try to learn everything. What you should do is outsource those skills that you do not possess and concentrate on your online marketing efforts.Imagine putting all your hard work into creating your online business and when you are done, the results are nothing but mediocre. If you are not good at something, admit it and get someone who is good at doing it to do for you.

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Here are 3 types of business creation steps you can outsource.1. Website DesignIf you know zilch about HTML, PHP, FTP, etc; you shouldn’t really look into learning all of them. While they are good knowledge to possess, sometimes it is better to get a website designer to do them for you.There are many web developers online and the prices of website creation are not that expensive unless of course if you are looking to do a huge website.2. Graphics DesignIf you cannot design graphics, then stop pretending to be an artist. Graphic designers online have now become more sophisticated and with the advent of terms such as Web 2.0, the learning curve has been longer than ever if you want to do the same.What you can do is either but graphics which have been pre-designed and insert them on your websites or simply get a custom graphic designed for you. You will certainly appreciate the more stunning designs that can be created by graphics designers.

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3. Writing ServicesWell, not everyone can write well. Thus you can always hire writers to write the content of your website for you. Armed with experience and mastery of the language plus an eye for researching about various topics, writers can make your job easier and you do not even need to reach out for a pen or type away endlessly on your keyboard.While there are many other services which your can outsource like search engine optimization and website submissions, you will do well to pay for such services and focus on your marketing instead.

The Controversy of UK Agricultural Land Conversions to Housing

September 11, 2016

What are seen as the controversies around converting land from agriculture to housing?The value of UK Green Belt and agricultural lands is undisputed. But the environmental costs of modern farming and housing needs are part of the conversation as well.Anybody considering making an alternative investment in strategic land will know that Britain unquestionably needs more homes to accommodate a growing population. According to the Office for National Statistics, more than 4.4 million homes should be built by 2016, largely in response to two factors: A decennial growth rate of 7 percent, as measured in Census 2011, and lagging new home construction that fails to keep up with this population increase, largely attributed to the stringent lending standards of banks following the 2008 economic crisis.At least one group claims the solution is to build on Green Belt land. The Policy Exchange, a centre-right think tank, said in late 2012 that the supply of land near cities that is kept unbuilt is a drag on the housing market. They argue that swaths of English countryside that typically surround towns should be opened up for development. The fourteen Green Belts in England cover about 13 percent of the country, enveloping about 60 percent of Britain’s population (about 30 million people).The Policy Exchange faces plenty of headwind in its positions. Since the “garden city movement” of the early 20th century, the effort to combat urban sprawl led by such groups as the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and the London County Council sought to maintain open spaces dedicated to recreation, forests and agriculture as a social good. But the Town and Country Planning Association has proposed since 2002 the adoption of more flexible policies toward Green Belt lands, suggesting that instead of a growth-stifling “belt,” that “wedges” and “strategic gaps” might allow a natural expansion of urban areas.

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Famously, the head of Natural England, whose charge is entirely to ensure protection and improvement of flora and fauna, said in 2007 “we need a 21st century solution to England’s housing needs which puts in place a network of green wedges, gaps and corridors, linking the natural environment and people.”Agricultural land outside of Green BeltsOf course, land away from the major cities is green as well, much of it in use for agricultural, forestry and recreational purposes. More than 80 percent of the landmass in England and Wales, 12 million hectares, are used for farming and forestry. Local planning authorities can more easily rezone the lands outside Green Belts when market factors, such as the demand for housing development, call for it. Since 2000, about 1500 hectares of agricultural land has been converted to housing development every year.Of course, similar sentiments understandably still exist relative to the bucolic perceptions of farming in the U.K. But environmentalists take exception to how modern agricultural methods, which include excessive application of fertilisers, can actually burden nature with its by-products:• Toxic build-up. 100 million tonnes of sewage sludge, compost and livestock manures applied annually to agricultural lands is leading to a build-up of potentially toxic elements such as zinc and copper, and more than half of sensitive wildlife habitat experiences harmful acid and nitrogen pollution, according to a paper published by Environment Agency UK.• Loss of soil. About 2.2 million tonnes of topsoil is lost each year due to intensive cultivation, some of which is instigated by compaction from heavy machinery and livestock, which precludes plant growth and leads to runoff in rain. (source: Environment Agency UK). To be fair, some runoff is noted as well from building sites before landscaping is completed.• Water quality compromised. About 70 percent of sediments found in water come from agriculture, and those sediments can carry metals, pathogens, pesticides and phosphates.Such problems due to modern agriculture plague the planet, as similar pollution levels are reported throughout Europe, Asia, North America and Australia. Africa, Brazil and Argentina, the newer frontiers for agriculture, are expanding arable croplands to meet global food demands but also exhibit a host of environmental sins.The food-housing tugThere is no denying that the housing needs in the UK must be met – and soon. A whole generation of families are postponing children or living in cramped quarters, awaiting homes they can afford or at least rent to accommodate their members.But Brits need to eat as much as sleep. So how to balance the use of land for each?A number of approaches are being tested. One is to encourage development of so-called brownfield lands, which include properties that may require remediation from previous industrial uses. These lands are often within towns or immediately adjacent to them, some with excellent access to existing urban infrastructure while others are cost-prohibitive for a variety of reasons (no existing infrastructure, undesirable locations for housing or extensive environmental remediation required).

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SustainableBuild.co.uk is a web publisher that considers the balance between development and environmental sustainability from a very pragmatic standpoint. The site offers several points on how land conversions to development can have a negative effect, which include: converted greenfields are quite unlikely to be converted back to nature; there is inevitable loss of habitat for animals and plants; a loss of employment for agricultural workers; and a loss of Green Belt land that provides geographical definitions and separations of cities, towns, villages and hamlets (I.e., American-style urban sprawl).Answering the problem of diminishing agricultural lands is a nascent movement to small-scale, organic agriculture on greenfield lands. SustainableBuild notes, “There are greenfield sites that are not being used for any purpose, for whatever reason. Development must consider all human and environmental factors, not just consume land and space for short-term solutions. A sustainable vision would look at all the options for land use, human population expansion, urban sprawl, economic considerations as well as environmental needs.”Which, in a country with a growing population and a concurrent appreciation for the environment, is perhaps the most realistic and pragmatic approach.

Worksite Wellness Coordinators – 3 Measures of Your Program’s Effectiveness and Success (Critical!)

August 29, 2016

The fact that less than 50% of the worksite wellness programs today conduct any type of program analysis or evaluation is a huge problematic issue. You can better manage and improve what you measure. And you do want to better manage and improve your program as needed, right?Essentially, there are three broad areas within your wellness program that you can evaluate. They are: program structure, how the program is being delivered and the program’s expected outcomes.Program StructureResearch has found that effective, successful worksite wellness programs are well-designed and comprehensive in their approach. Therefore, an assessment of a program’s structure focuses on whether key structural components are in place. To assess your program, you need to ask yourself the following questions:1. How committed is your organization’s leadership to the program?2. Are your programming and interventions based on the needs identified by your comprehensive, organization-wide needs assessment?3. Are your programming and interventions aligned to the demographic and health status characteristics of your target audience?4. Are the topics covered relevant to your target audience?

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5. Are your programming and interventions evidence-based?6. Do coherence, consistency, and integration exist between the various components of your program?7. If you use incentives, does the value equal or exceed the requirements needed to obtain the incentives?8. Are your incentives appropriately designed for their intended purpose?9. Does your program have sufficient resources allocated and is the staffing adequate?10. Are the necessary organizational factors important to success integrated into the program design?11. Is the program seen as being a permanent, integrated feature of employee benefits?12. Is the program aligned with the culture of your organization?13. Is there an evaluation infrastructure in place for tracking program impact and outcomes?Program DeliveryEvaluating your program’s delivery is typically called a process type of evaluation. A process evaluation typically examines how well your program is being implemented, if implementation is going according to plan and how the operation and delivery systems are working out. Program delivery evaluations also examine if feedback is routinely being provided that will allow for any necessary or needed changes to occur.Questions to ask relevant to process evaluation include:1. Are the programs reaching and engaging your desired target audience?2. How many participate?3. Are participants completing the interventions?4. Are participants advancing in their readiness to change behaviors?5. Are participants becoming more engaged in improving their health?6. How satisfied are participants with the program?7. Are the programming and interventions relevant to their needs?8. Is the program being delivered in a similar way across all locations or workplaces?9. Are communications and branding strategies getting the attention of the target audience?10. Do the programming and interventions yield sustained participation over time?OutcomesEssentially, measuring outcomes is determining if your program is achieving its desired purpose, goals and objectives within a given timeframe. Typically, evaluation of outcomes is the primary concern of the employer and program staff or vendors. Are their expectations being met?

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The expected outcomes may differ from organization to organization, but typically fall into one or more of three categories: improvements in the health, safety and well-being of program participants, cost savings (generally viewed as being health related cost savings), enhanced individual and business performance metrics and an overall healthier organization.Speaking of outcomes evaluations, it is important to note that conducting a rigorous and credible ROI analysis is time-consuming, expensive, and requires a high level of expertise in statistical analysis, health services research, econometrics, and benefit plan design. An ideal measure of ROI would be to measure costs and savings associated with each program component separately.Measuring the value a worksite wellness program delivers is a much better and more easily doable strategy for most employers. Monetary value is just one type of value measure. This broader value view allows the worksite wellness program to be seen in light of the full value it can bring to the employer and the improvement of the target audience’s health and wellbeing.

Rep V. Direct: How to Best Organize a Sales Team

September 9, 2016

Sales executives are constantly searching for the ideal structure of the sales team. Should the team be composed only of direct sales people? Should the team be composed only of manufacturers’ representatives? Experience shows that a hybrid sales organization, composed of a blend of direct and indirect sales employees (manufacturers’ representatives), combines optimal performance, cost effectiveness and flexibility.If one observes several sales organizations over an extended period, she’s able to see that relatively often, sales executives make sweeping changes to those organizations, from all direct to all rep, and from all rep to all direct. Invariably, the observer is able to note that sales management ultimately reverses many of those sweeping changes. Sometimes sales executives benefit from observing changes made by others. Unfortunately, too many sales executives develop the understanding of the benefits of a hybrid organization by making one or more poor decisions and then repairing the organization after problems surface. The most durable of sales organizations are those that use a hybrid technique, employing a mix of both direct sales staff and manufacturers’ representatives. Sales teams composed entirely of all direct people or entirely of manufacturers’ representatives are generally not ideal.Why “Direct Only” Teams Are Not IdealMany CEOs and executive teams believe that the best way to build relationships with customers is with a sales team composed only of direct employees. In this example, sales staff cannot be distracted with unrelated business and other product lines. No one can blame the inexperienced CEO and executive team for thinking this way. A salesperson is able to devote 100 percent of this time to the company. A direct sales team suffers from far fewer distractions than a rep sales team. However, experienced CEOs and executive teams understand that they must thoroughly look at a direct sales team before converting to it. Direct sales teams are quite expensive to train and support. The company must support offices in all major markets. Those offices bring along with them assorted costs: rent, administrative support, office equipment, utilities, etc. A competent manager who can work well and represent the company without direct supervision must manage the office. The company must train and occasionally upgrade each office manager.When sales are growing, the office manager must hire and train new sales staff. The company must train the manager in hiring and training techniques. The company must also train the office manager in firing techniques, in hopes of avoiding legal problems.As sales grow, the office must expand to meet growing demands upon the sales office. Cost of sales rises as sales grow. Sales, however, do not grow forever. Ultimately, sales flatten and roll over. Sales usually roll over earlier and more abruptly than hiring plans. Sales may dip at anytime during the year, but hiring plans are usually set at the beginning of each calendar or fiscal year. As a result, hiring is sometimes still underway when industry and office sales are falling. Such dynamics create an environment whereby cost of sales, (as measured by the total cost of running the sales office, divided by the total revenue that the office generates, expressed as a share of sales) rises rapidly.

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When a sales office has healthy sales, the company can manage its cost of sales and support them at a predetermined level. If sales grow for a long period, the company can manage the office to cut cost of sales. The sales office can benefit from economies of scale. A sales office supporting 20 salesmen doesn’t need more copiers, fax machines and conference rooms than an office supporting only 10 salesmen. Unfortunately, sales ultimately roll over. It is difficult to cut costs immediately. The office manager must usually see several months or quarters of declining sales before realizing that he must cut costs, including headcount. During this time, cost of sales rises, sometimes well above tolerated levels. The sales office manager and the company cannot cut costs quickly. Which is a chief reason that totally direct sales teams are undesirable.Why “Rep Only” Teams Don’t Yield Peak PerformanceRep only sales organizations afford a number of benefits to the sales executive. The sales teams are already in place. Hiring and firing of salesmen is not the direct responsibility of the sales executive or his regional sales managers. Manufacturers’ representatives generally hire and fire as sales move up and down. The cost of running a rep only sales organization rise and fall directly with the level of sales. A significant benefit of the rep only sales organization is that cost drops immediately when sales drop. It’s possible to accurately forecast cost of sales as a share of total revenue. Cost can never get out of control by hiring too many salesmen, buying too many computers, or leasing too large an office; not infrequent problems for direct sales organizations.Manufacturers’ representatives are not always the panacea for companies looking to hire or expand a sales organization. Large customers often demand direct sales staff; not indirect staff from a manufacturers’ representative. Large customers view their largest suppliers as strategic partners, and like the ability to communicate directly with those suppliers. Communications is sometimes slower and less clear when a customer must communicate with a manufacturers’ representative, who in turn communicates with the supplier. Customers may set the style with which they deal with suppliers as part of their purchasing strategy. For example, they may decide to deal with no more than two or three suppliers on any commodity and to deal with those suppliers directly. This disallows conducting business through manufacturers’ representatives. A supplier must recognize and honor such a strategy, or be ready to suffer undesirable consequences. A supplier must never turn a tin ear to a request from a customer demanding direct sales representation.Large suppliers view their largest customers as strategic partners, and like the ability to communicate directly with those customers. They view the delay when communicating through a manufacturers’ representative as an unnecessary burden. When large suppliers invest management time with strategic customers, they do not want to dilute that investment by sharing management time with manufacturers’ representatives. The incapacity to offer direct coverage to strategic customers is the primary reason that a sales team composed only of manufacturers’ representatives is unattractive.First and Foremost: Do No HarmRecognizing that something is wrong, many sales executives make bold, sweeping structural changes to their sales teams. Fire all reps and hire a direct sales team. Fire all direct salesmen and hire a network of manufacturers’ representatives. Either approach will certainly repair some problems. More than likely, however, extreme changes are very prone to creating new problems of equal or greater scale.Why do so many companies replace one poor-performing sales organization with another that destined to yield performance that is no better than the original? The two most common reasons are inexperience and weakness of the sales executive compared to the rest of the management team. Perhaps the inexperienced sales executive has risen through a single company with an all-direct or all-rep sales force. Now, managing the global sales organization, he opts for sweeping change from all-direct to all-rep, or from all-rep to all-direct sales without benefit of understanding thoroughly the benefits and problems with either a pure-rep or pure-direct organization. Alternatively, the inexperienced sales executive may have developed his management skill at a company employing an all-direct sales organization. He may not feel comfortable managing if hired into an all-rep company. No one can fault a sales manager if he sees massive problems and concludes that he must make sweeping change to an all-direct sales organization. Only inexperience allows him to make a major, highly disruptive change.Another reason companies make dramatic changes in the structure of a sales organization is that the sales executive is weak. If cost-of-sales, expressed as a share revenue is too high, the CEO, the rest of the executive team, or both can apply pressure on the sales executive to affect change and cut cost. If the sales executive lacks the strength to defend his team or the structure of the sales organization, he merely becomes the messenger, not the manager.

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The message to the sales executive feeling pressure to make sweeping change in a sales organization is to adhere to the Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm. Any sweeping change imposed upon the structure of a sales team will initially be disruptive. Make sure to justify the disruption and be very sure that the change, once implemented, is most likely irreversible. Sweeping change brings disruption, higher cost of sales and lower productivity. All of this might be worthwhile. However, if a sales manager imposes sweeping change and then reverses course within a year or two, disruption from the reversal is much greater and more costly. A reversal of an organization change brings with it disruption, higher cost of sales and lower productivity just like the original change. However, an organizational reversal can erode the sales team’s enthusiasm. A company can handle disruption, higher cost of sales and lower productivity if repaired relatively quickly. Repair of an unmotivated sales team takes much more time.”Hybrid Sales Teams” Work BestA supplier always looks to optimize its sales organization. If a company continuously focuses on cost of the sales organization, use of manufacturers’ representatives is mandatory. The benefits of manufacturers’ representatives are too great to ignore. However, manufacturers’ representatives may not satisfy the requirements for some customers. Strategic customers demand direct interface, excluding the use of reps. The best alternative then, is to merge some of the best features of both a rep and a direct sales organization. Implement a direct sales team to cover the sales to all strategic customers, while simultaneously bringing about a sales team of manufacturers’ representatives to cover all other customers.A hybrid sales team benefits from the cost effectiveness of manufacturers’ representatives. The same team can deal directly with strategic customers. The sales executive may take advantage of the non-disruptive flexibility when adding or deleting customers on strategic customer list. A secondary benefit of a hybrid sales organization is bench strength. Well-seasoned, top-performing direct sales personnel represent a talent pool from which from which to draw regional sales managers.ConclusionExperience shows that a hybrid sales organization, composed of a blend of direct and manufacturers’ representatives combines optimal performance, cost effectiveness and flexibility. The most durable sales organization is one that uses a hybrid technique. Sales teams composed entirely of all direct staff or entirely of manufacturers’ representatives too often underperform.

National Center for the Performance Arts

September 3, 2016

The newly opened National Center for the Performance Arts, formerly named the Chinese National Grand Theatre, is the largest performing art center in the world. It is shaped like a massive, silvery dome in the heart of China’s capital that offers Chinese and international art performances of the highest standards. It hosts opera, ballet, musicals, dance, dramas and traditional Chinese performances.Situated west of Tiananmen Square in Beijing, the National Center for Performance Art occupies an area of over 149,500 square meters. There are three gigantic halls located inside: a 2,416-seat opera house, a 2,017-seat concert hall and a 1,040-seat theater. Its goal is to become the center of Chinese performance art culture. The National Center for the Performing Arts took nearly five years to build at a cost of over 2.69million RMB.Designed by the famous French architect Paul Andreu, this imposing building is a fine example of modern architecture. It has been thought of as resembling an eggshell, a baozi (Chinese steamed bread), or even a giant bubble. The National Center for Performance Arts has been listed among the top ten architectural miracles by the USA, for its energy-saving and environmentally-sound design. The center has three firsts: it is the largest sky dome in the world, the deepest building in Beijing, and is home to the largest pine organ in Asia. As its prompters have said, the National Center for Performance Arts has a lush dazzling interior, sophisticated acoustics and a design that that is superior to most of Europe’s or America’s performing arts centers. This building is so unique that it stands out amongst the nearby government buildings in central Beijing and the imperial grandeur of the centuries-old Forbidden City.

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The interior design of National Center for Performance Arts, it is quite spectacular. The dome’s interior is paneled with long Brazilian mahogany spans, giving the expanse an amazingly warm feeling. While the walls of the theater, the smallest of the performance spaces, are covered in thick padded silk which is divided into red, purple and tangerine strips. The ceiling of the grey-white color-schemed concert hall consists of undulating waves of acoustical panels that resemble abstract art. On the exterior shell of the center, there are over 500 lights that shine like the stars in the sky, making the National Center for Performance Arts looks like a visitor from the outer space.Even though the exterior appearance of National Centre for Performance Arts is futuristic in design, it does not clash with nearby buildings. Surrounded on one side by a large pool of water, the reflections in the water form an impressive sight day or night. For this reason, National Centre for Performance Arts is said to appear like a “bright pearl resting in a lake.Most visitors to the National Center for Performance Arts, come for the performances, but there is much more to this beautiful building than just the three gigantic halls. There are also many smaller places located inside the National Center for Performance Arts such as: an underwater hallway, an exhibition hall, olive hall, library center, Press-release hall, souvenir shop, and a coffee house. In these locations, visitors or audience members can enjoy other aspects of this amazing building other than just performances.The Center’s management has hired the best performers from throughout China to perform. Musicians such as pianist Yundi Li, and Lang Lang are regulars to the National Center for Performance Arts’stage. Many foreign troupes are vying for a chance to perform during the center’s opening season. The first foreign troupe to perform on the stage of the National Center for Performance Art was the Mariinsky Ballet Troup of St. Petersburg(still marketed in the U.S. under its Soviet-era name, the Kirov Opera and Ballet). Although the center’s musical groups,ballets, symphony orchestras, and Chinese opera have received far less attention, they are also performed by some of the best artists in China.

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To allow each audience to fully and comfortably appreciate each performance, the National Center for Performance Arts has makes great effort in its design of the opera house, concert hall and theater. The materials used in the construction of the opera house were chosen for their ability to control sound. The ceiling of the concert hall is designed so that each audience member will enjoy an unforgettable experience. The theatre, the place with the most distinctive Chinese characteristic, has the most advanced stage facilities and the largest auditorium. Each seat in the National Center for Performance Arts is placed over an air vent which will allow each audience member to enjoy perfectly controlled temperatures, and each seat is designed with a muffling devise so that no sound will be made when audience members stand up,or sit down. These many different features of the center has been put in place to insure each audience member will receive the most from each performance they see.Even if visitors to Beijing have no interest in watching a performance at the National Centre for Performance Arts, a visit to the center will leave a deep impression on them. It is one of the most brilliant architectural designs in the world, and worth a visit.