Building a Kingdom – Case Study of Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited

This article presents a case study of sustained entrepreneurial growth of Kingdom Financial Holdings. It is one of the entrepreneurial banks which survived the financial crisis that started in Zimbabwe in 2003. The bank was established in 1994 by four entrepreneurial young bankers. It has grown substantially over the years. The case examines the origins, growth and expansion of the bank. It concludes by summarizing lessons or principles that can be derived from this case that maybe applicable to entrepreneurs.

Profile of an Entrepreneur: Nigel Chanakira

Nigel Chanakira was raised in the Highfield suburb of Harare in an entrepreneurial family. His father and uncle operated a public transport company Modern Express and later diversified into retail shops. Nigel’s father later exited the family business. He bought out one of the shops and expanded it. During school holidays young Nigel, as the first born, would work in the shops. His parents, particularly his mother, insisted that he acquire an education first.

On completion of high school, Nigel failed to enter dental or medical school, which were his first passions. In fact his grades could only qualify him for the Bachelor of Arts degree programme at the University of Zimbabwe. However, he “sweet-talked his way into a transfer” to the Bachelor in Economics degree programme. Academically he worked hard, exploiting his strong competitive character that was developed during his sporting days. Nigel rigorously applied himself to his academic pursuits and passed his studies with excellent grades, which opened the door to employment as an economist with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

During his stint with the Reserve Bank, his economic mindset indicated to him that wealth creation was happening in the banking sector therefore he determined to understand banking and financial markets. While employed at RBZ, he read for a Master’s degree in Financial Economics and Financial Markets as preparation for his debut into banking. At the Reserve Bank under Dr Moyana, he was part of the research team that put together the policy framework for the liberalization of the financial services within the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme. Being at the right place at the right time, he became aware of the opportunities which were opening up. Nigel exploited his position to identify the most profitable banking institution to work for as preparation for his future. He headed to Bard Discount House and worked for five years under Charles Gurney.

A short while later the two black executives at Bard, Nick Vingirayi and Gibson Muringai, left to form Intermarket Discount House. Their departure inspired the young Nigel. If these two could establish a banking institution of their own so could he, given time. The departure also created an opportunity for him to rise to fill the vacancy. This gave the aspiring banker critical managerial experience. Subsequently he became a director for Bard Investment Services where he gained critical experience in portfolio management, client relationships and dealing within the dealing department. While there he met Franky Kufa, a young dealer who was making waves, who would later become a key co-entrepreneur with him.

Despite his professional business engagement his father enrolled Nigel in the Barclays Bank “Start Your Own Business” Programme. However what really made an impact on the young entrepreneur was the Empretec Entrepreneur Training programme (May 1994), to which he was introduced by Mrs Tsitsi Masiyiwa. The course demonstrated that he had the requisite entrepreneurial competences.

Nigel talked Charles Gurney into an attempted management buy-out of Bard from Anglo -American. This failed and the increasingly frustrated aspiring entrepreneur considered employment opportunities with Nick Vingirai’s Intermarket and Never Mhlanga’s National Discount House which was on the verge of being formed – hoping to join as a shareholder since he was acquainted with the promoters. He was denied this opportunity.

Being frustrated at Bard and having been denied entry into the club by pioneers, he resigned in October 1994 with the encouragement of Mrs Masiyiwa to pursue his entrepreneurial dream.

The Dream

Inspired by the messages of his pastor, Rev. Tom Deuschle, and frustrated at his inability to participate in the church’s massive building project, Nigel sought a way of generating huge financial resources. During a time of prayer he claims that he had a divine encounter where he obtained a mandate from God to start Kingdom Bank. He visited his pastor and told him of this encounter and the subsequent desire to start a bank. The godly pastor was amazed at the 26 year old with “big spectacles and wearing tennis shoes” who wanted to start a bank. The pastor prayed before counselling the young man. Having been convinced of the genuineness of Nigel’s dream, the pastor did something unusual. He asked him to give a testimony to the congregation of how God was leading him to start a bank. Though timid, the young man complied. That experience was a powerful vote of confidence from the godly pastor. It demonstrates the power of mentors to build a protégé.

Nigel teamed up with young Franky Kufa. Nigel Chanakira left Bard at the position of Chief Economist. They would build their own entrepreneurial venture. Their idea was to identify players who had specific competences and would each be able to generate financial resources from his activity. Their vision was to create a one – stop financial institution offering a discount house, an asset management company and a merchant bank. Nigel used his Empretec model to develop a business plan for their venture. They headhunted Solomon Mugavazi, a stockbroker from Edwards and Company and B. R. Purohit, a corporate banker from Stanbic. Kufa would provide money market expertise while Nigel provided income from government bond dealings as well as overall supervision of the team.

Each of the budding partners brought in an equal portion of the Z$120,000 as start-up capital. Nigel talked to his wife and they sold their recently acquired Eastlea home and vehicles to raise the equivalent of US$17,000 as their initial capital. Nigel, his wife and three kids headed back to Highfield to live in with his parents. The partners established Garmony Investments which started trading as an unregistered financial institution. The entrepreneurs agreed not to draw a salary in their first year of operations as a bootstrapping strategy.

Mugavazi introduced and recommended Lysias Sibanda, a chartered accountant, to join the team. Nigel was initially reluctant as each person had to bring in an earning capacity and it was not clear how an accountant would generate revenue at start up in a financial institution. Nigel initially retained a 26% share which assured him a blocking vote as well as giving him the position of controlling shareholder.

Nigel credits the Success Motivation Institute (SMI) course “The Dynamics of Successful Management” as the lethal weapon that enabled him to acquire managerial competences. Initially he insisted that all his key executives undertake this training programme.

Birth of the Kingdom

Kingdom Securities P/L commenced operations in November 1994 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Garmony Investments (Pvt) Ltd. It traded as a broker on both money and stock markets.

On 24th February 1995 Kingdom Securities Holding was born with the following subsidiaries: Kingdom Securities Ltd, Kingdom Stockbrokers (Pvt) Ltd and Kingdom Asset Managers (Pvt) Ltd. The flagship Kingdom Securities Ltd was registered as a Discount House under Banking Act Chapter 188 on 25th July 1995. Kingdom Stockbrokers was registered with the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange under ZSE Chapter 195 on 1st August 1995. The pre-licensing trading had generated good revenue but they still had a 20% deficit of the required capital. Most institutional investors turned them down as they were a greenfield company promoted by people perceived to be “too young”. At this stage National Merchant Bank, Intermarket and others were on the market raising equity and these were run by seasoned and mature promoters. However Rachel Kupara, then MD for Zimnat, believed in the young entrepreneurs and took up the first equity portion for Zimnat at 5%.

Norman Sachikonye, then Financial Director and Investments Manager at First Mutual followed suit, taking up an equity share of 15%. These two institutional investors were inducted as shareholders of Kingdom Securities Holdings on 1st August 1995. Garmony Investments ceased operations and reversed itself into Kingdom Securities on 31st July 1995, thereby becoming an 80% shareholder.

The first year of operations was marked by intense competition as well as discrimination against new financial institutions by public organisations. All the other operating units performed well except for the corporate finance department with Kingdom Securities, led by Purohit. This monetary loss, differing spiritual and ethical values led to the forced departure of Purohit as an executive director and shareholder on 31st December 1995. From then the Kingdom started to grow exponentially.

Structural Growth

Nigel and his team pursued an aggressive growth strategy with the intention of increasing market share, profitability, and geographic spread while developing a strong brand. The growth strategy was built around a business philosophy of simplifying financial services and making them easily accessible to the general public. An IT strategy that created a low cost delivery channel exploiting ATMs and POS while providing a platform that was ready for Internet and web-based applications, was espoused.

On 1st April 1997, Kingdom Financial Services was licensed as an accepting house focusing on trading and distributing foreign currency, treasury activities, corporate finance, investment banking and advisory services. It was formed under the leadership of Victor Chando with the intention of becoming the merchant banking arm of the Group. In 1998, Kingdom Merchant Bank (KMB) was licensed and it took over the assets and liabilities of Kingdom Securities Limited. Its main focus was treasury related products, off-balance sheet finance, foreign currency and trade finance. Kingdom Research Institute was established as a support service to the other units.

The entrepreneurial bankers, cognisant of their limitations, sought to achieve critical mass quickly by actively seeking capital injection from equity investors. The aim was to broaden ownership while lending strategic support in areas of mutual interest. An attempt at equity uptake from Global Emerging Markets from London failed. However in 1997 the efforts of the bankers were rewarded when the following organisations took up some equity, reducing the shareholding of executive directors as shown below: ïEUR Ipcorn 0.7%, ïEUR Zambezi Fund Mauritius P/L 1.1%, ïEUR Zambezi Fund P/L 0.7%. ïEUR Kingdom Employee Share Trust 5%, ïEUR Southern Africa Enterprise Development Fund – 8% redeemable preference shares amounting to US$1,5m as the first investee company in Southern Africa from the US Fund initiated by US President Bill Clinton, ïEUR Weiland Investments, a company belonging to Mr Richard Muirimi, a long standing friend of Nigel and associate in the fund management business took up 1.7%, Garmony Investments 71.7% -executive directors. ïEUR After a rights issue Zimnat fell to 4.8% while FML went down to 14.3%.

In 1998, Kingdom launched four Unit Trusts which proved very popular with the market. Initially these products were focused at individual clients of the discount house as well as private portfolios of Kingdom Stockbroking. Aggressive marketing and awareness campaigns established the Kingdom Unit Trust as the most popular retail brand of the group. The Kingdom brand was thus born.

Acquisition of Discount Company of Zimbabwe (DCZ)

After a spurt of organic growth, the Kingdom entrepreneurs decided to hasten the growth rate synergistically. They set out to acquire the oldest discount house in the country and the world, The Discount Company of Zimbabwe, which was a listed entity. With this acquisition Kingdom would acquire critical competences as well as achieve the much coveted ZSE listing inexpensively through a reverse listing. Initial efforts at a negotiated merger with DCZ were rebuffed by its executives who could not countenance a forty year old institution being swallowed up by a four year old business. The entrepreneurs were not deterred. Nigel approached his friend Greg Brackenridge at Stanbic to finance and effect the acquisition of the sixty percent shares which were in the hands of about ten shareholders, on behalf of Kingdom Financial Holdings but to be placed in the ownership of Stanbic Nominees. This strategy masked the identity of the acquirer. Claud Chonzi, the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) GM and a friend to Lysias Sibanda (a Kingdom executive director), agreed to act as a front in the negotiations with the DCZ shareholders. NSSA is a well known institutional investor and hence these shareholders may have believed that they were dealing with an institutional investor. Once Kingdom controlled 60% of DCZ, it took over the company and reverse listed itself onto the Stock Exchange as Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited (KFHL). Because of the negative real interest rates, Kingdom successfully used debt finance to structure the acquisition. This acquisition and the subsequent listing gave the once despised young entrepreneurs confidence and credibility on the market.

Other Strategic Acquisitions

Within the same year Kingdom Merchant Bank acquired a strategic stake in CFX Bureau de Change owned by Sean Maloney as well as another stake in a greenfield microlending franchise, Pfihwa P/L. CFX was changed into KFX and used in most foreign currency trading activities. KFHL set as a strategic intention the acquisition of an additional 24.9% stake in CFX Holdings to safeguard the initial investment and ensure management control. This did not work out. Instead, Sean Maloney opted out and took over the failed Universal Merchant Bank licence to form CFX Merchant Bank. Although Kingdom executives contend that the alliance failed due to the abolition of bureau de change by government, it appears that Sean Maloney refused to give up control of the extra shareholding sought by Kingdom. It therefore would be reasonable that once Kingdom could not control KFX, a fall out ensued. The liquidation of this investment in 2002 resulted in a loss of Z$403 million on that investment. However this was manageable in light of the strong group profitability.

Pfihwa P/L financed the informal sector as a form of corporate social responsibility. However when the hyperinflationary environment and stringent regulatory environment encroached on the viability of the project, it was wound up in early 2004. Kingdom pursued its financing of the informal sector through MicroKing, which was established with international assistance. By 2002 MicroKing had eight branches located in the midst of, or near, micro-enterprise clusters.

In 2000, due to increased activity on the foreign currency front within the banking sector, Kingdom opened a private banking facility through the discount house to exploit revenue streams from this market. Following market trends, it engaged the insurance company AIG to enter the bancassurance market in 2003.

Meikles Strategic Alliance

In 1999 the entrepreneurial Chanakira on advice from his executives and the legendary corporate finance team from Barclays bank led by the affable Hugh Van Hoffen entered into a strategic alliance with Meikles Africa whereby it injected some Z$322 million into Kingdom for an equity shareholding of 25%. Interestingly, the deal nearly collapsed on pricing as Meikles only wanted to pay $250 million whilst KFHL valued themselves at Z$322 million which in real terms was the largest private sector deal done between an indigenous bank and a listed corporate. Nigel testifies that it was a walk through the incomplete Celebration Church site on the Saturday preceding the signing of the Meikles deal that led him to sign the deal which he saw as a means for him to sow a whopping seed into the church to boost the Building Fund. God was faithful! Kingdom’s share price shot up dramatically from $2,15 at the time he made the commitment to the Pastor all the way to $112,00 by the following October!

In return Kingdom acquired a powerful cash-rich shareholder that allowed it entrance into retail banking through an innovative in-store banking strategy. Meikles Africa opened its retail branches, namely TM Supermarkets, Clicks, Barbours, Medix Pharmacies and Greatermans, as distribution channels for Kingdom commercial bank or as account holders providing deposits and requiring banking services. This was a cheaper way of entering retail banking. It proved useful during the 2003 cash crisis because Meikles with its massive cash resources within its business units assisted Kingdom Bank, thus cushioning it from a liquidity crisis. The alliance also raised the reputation and credibility of Kingdom Bank and created an opportunity for Kingdom to finance Meikles Africa’s customers through the jointly owned Meikles Financial Services. Kingdom provided the funding for all lease and hire purchases from Meikles’ subsidiaries, thus driving sales for Meikles while providing easy lending opportunities for Kingdom. Meikles managed the relationship with the client.

Meikles Africa as a strategic shareholder assured Kingdom of success when recapitalisation was required and has enhanced Kingdom’s brand image. This strategic relationship has created powerful synergies for mutual benefit.

Commercial Banking

Exploiting the opportunities arising from the strategic relationship with Meikles Africa, Kingdom made its debut into retail banking in January 2001 with in-store branches at High Glen and Chitungwiza TM supermarkets. The target was principally the mass market. This rode on the strong brand Kingdom had created through the Unit Trusts. In-store banking offered low cost delivery channels with minimal investment in brick and mortar. By the end of 2001, thirteen branches were operational across the country. This followed a deliberate strategy for aggressive roll-out of the branches with two flagship branches ïEUR­ïEUR one in Bulawayo and the other in Harare. There was a huge emphasis on an IT driven strategy with significant cross-selling between the commercial bank and other SBUs.

However, it was further discovered that there was a market for the upmarket clients and hence Crown banking outlets were established to diversify the target market. In 2004, after closing three in-store branches in a rationalization exercise, there were 16 in-store branches and 9 Crown banking outlets.

The entrance into commercial banking was probably held at the wrong time, considering the imminent changes in the banking industry. Commercial banking does provide cheap deposits, however at the price of huge staff costs and human resource management complications. Nigel concedes that, with hindsight, this could have been delayed or done at a slower pace. However, the need for increased market share in a fiercely competitive industry necessitated this. Another reason for persisting with the commercial banking project was that of prior agreements with Meikles Africa. It is possible that Meikles Africa had been sold on the equity take-up deal on the back of promises to engage in in-store banking, which would increase revenue for its subsidiaries.

Innovative Products and Services

KFHL continued its aggressive pursuit of product innovation. After the failure of the KFX project, CurrencyKing was established to continue the work. However this was abolished in November 2002 by government ministerial intervention when bureau de change were prohibited in an effort to stamp out parallel market foreign currency trading.

Sadly this governmental decision was misguided for not only did it fail to banish foreign currency parallel trading but it drove underground, made it more lucrative and subsequently the government lost all control of the management of the exchange rate.

In October 2002, KFHL established Kingdom Leasing after being granted a finance house licence. Its mandate was to exploit opportunities to trade in financial leases, lease hire and short term financial products.

Regional Expansion

Around 2000 it became evident that the domestic market was highly competitive, with limited prospects of future growth. A decision was made to diversify revenue streams and reduce country risk through penetration into the regional markets. This strategy would exploit the proven competences in securities trading, asset management and corporate advisory services from a small capital base. Therefore the entrance had low risk in terms of capital injection. Considering the foreign exchange control limitations and shortage of foreign currency in Zimbabwe, this was a prudent strategy but not without its downside, as will be seen in the Botswana venture.

In 2001, KFHL acquired a 25.1% stake in a greenfield banking enterprise in Malawi, First Discount House Ltd. To safeguard its investment and ensure managerial control, an executive director and dealer were seconded to the Malawi venture while Nigel Chanakira chaired the Board. This investment has continued to grow and yield positive returns. As of July 2006 Kingdom had finally managed to up its stake from 25,1% to 40% in this investment and may ultimately control it to the point of seeking a conversion of the license to a commercial bank.

KFHL also took up a 25% equity stake in Investrust Merchant Bank Zambia. Franky Kufa was seconded to it as an executive director while Nigel took a seat on the Board.

KFHL had been promised an option to gain a controlling stake. However when the bank stabilized, the Zambian shareholders entered into some questionable transactions and were not prepared to allow KFHL to up it’s stake and so KFHL decided to pull out as relationships turned frosty. The Zambian Central Bank intervened with a promise to grant KFHL its own banking license. This did not materialize as the Zambian Central Bank exploited the banking crisis in Zimbabwe to deny KHFL a licence. A reasonable premium of Z$2.5 billion was obtained at disinvestment.

In Botswana, a subsidiary called Kingdom Bank Africa Ltd (KBAL) was established as an offshore bank in the International Finance Centre. KBAL was intended to spearhead and manage regional initiatives for Kingdom. It was headed by Mrs Irene Chamney, seconded by Lysias Sibanda with the concurrence of Nigel after managerial challenges in Zimbabwe. Two other senior executives were seconded there. She successfully set up the KBAL’s banking infrastructure and had good relations with the Botswana authorities.

However, the business model chosen of an offshore bank ahead of a domestic Botswana merchant bank license turned out to be the Achilles heel of the bank more so when the Zimbabwe banking crisis set in between 2003 and 2005. There were fundamental differences in how Mrs Chamney and Chanakira saw the bank surviving and going forward.

Ultimately, it was deemed prudent for Mrs. Chamney to leave the bank in 2005. In 2001 KFHL acquired the mandate as the sole distributor of the American Express card in the whole of Africa except for RSA. This was handled through KBAL. Kingdom Private Bank was transferred from the discount house to become a subsidiary of KBAL due to the prevailing regulatory environment in Zimbabwe.

In 2004 KBAL was temporarily placed under curatorship due to undercapitalisation. At this stage the parent company had regulatory constraints that prevented foreign currency capital injection.

A solution was found in the sourcing of local partners and the transfer of US$1 million previously realised from the proceeds of the Investrust liquidation to Botswana. Nigel Chanakira took a more active management role in KBAL because of its huge strategic significance to the future of KFHL. Currently efforts are underway to acquire a local commercial bank licence in Botswana as well. Once this is acquired there are two possible scenarios, namely maintaining both licences or giving up the offshore licence.

The interviewees were divided in their opinion on this. However in my view, judging from the stakeholder power involved, KFHL is likely to give up the off shore banking licence and use the local Kingdom Bank Botswana (Pula Bank) licence for regional and domestic expansion.

Human Resources

The staff complement grew from the initial 23 in 1995 to more than 947 by 2003. The growth was consistent with the growing institution. It exploded, especially during the launch and expansion of the commercial bank. Kingdom from inception had a strong human resourcing strategy which entailed significant training both internally and externally. Before the foreign currency crisis, employees were sent for training in such countries as RSA, Sweden, India and the USA. In the person of Faith Ntabeni Bhebhe, Kingdom had an energetic HR driver who created powerful HR systems for the emerging behemoth.

As a sign of its commitment to building the human resource capability, in 1998 Kingdom Financial Services entered a management agreement with Holland based AMSCO for the provision of seasoned bankers. Through this strategic alliance Kingdom strengthened its skills base and increased opportunities for skills transfer to locals. This helped the entrepreneurial bankers create a solid managerial system for the bank while the seasoned bankers from Holland compensated for the youthfulness of the emerging bankers. What a foresight!

In-house self-paced interactive learning, team building exercises and mentoring were all part of the learning menu targeted at developing the human resource capacity of the group. Work and job profiling was introduced to best match employees to suitable posts. Career path and succession planning were embraced. Kingdom was the first entrepreneurial bank to have smooth unforced CEO transitions. The founding CEO passed on the baton to Lysias Sibanda in 1999 as he stepped into the role of Group CEO and board deputy chair. His role was now to pursue and spearhead global and regional niche financial markets. A few years later there was another change of the guard as

Franky Kufa stepped in as Group CEO to replace Sibanda, who resigned on medical grounds. One could argue that these smooth transitions were due to the fact that the baton was passing to founding directors.

With the explosive growth in staff complement due to the commercial bank project, culture issues emerged. Consequently, KFHL engaged in an enculturation programme resulting in a culture revolution dubbed “Team Kingdom”. This culture had to be reinforced due to dilutions through significant mergers and acquisitions, significant staff turnover because of increased competition, emigration to greener pastures and the age profile of the staff increased the risk of high mobility and fraudulent activities in collusion with members of the public. Culture changes are difficult to effect and their effectiveness even harder to assess.

In 2004, with a high staff turnover of around 14%, a compensation strategy that ring fenced critical skills like IT and treasury was implemented. Due to the low margins and the financial stress experienced in 2004, KFHL lost more than 341 staff members due to retrenchment, natural attrition and emigration. This was acceptable as profitability fell while staff costs soared. At this stage, staff costs accounted for 58% of all expenses.

Despite the impressive growth, the financial performance when inflation adjusted was mediocre. Actually a loss position was reported in 2004. This growth was severely compromised by the hyperinflationary conditions and the restrictive regulatory environment.

Conclusion

This article shows the determination of entrepreneurs to push through to the realisation of their dreams despite significant odds. In a subsequent article we will tackle the challenges faced by Nigel Chanakira in solidifying his investments.

How to Install a Manual Boost Controller Without Blowing Up Your Engine

Prior to installing any manual boost controller, it is important to have already added a high flowing exhaust and an aftermarket air intake/ air filter. This will ensure the car is able to breath, and will allow the turbo to spool easier.

It is imperative to have installed an aftermarket boost gauge. Most stock boost gauges are not accurate, even at stock boost levels, and lose further accuracy once stock boost is increased. Without an aftermarket boost gauge you risk damage to the engine from overboosting.

How It Works:

The wastegate actuator determines your stock boost levels. The boost controller interrupts the pressure line that runs into the wastegate actuator, allowing you to increase boost over stock levels.

Step 1:

Find your wastegate actuator which is usually attached to the turbo, unless you are using an external wastegate. The wastegate actuator will have a vacuum line port that runs to a boost source. The boost source is usually either the turbo’s compressor housing, the intercooler pipes, or the intake manifold. This vacuum line is where the manual boost controller will be installed. If there is a T fitting in the vacuum line between the boost source and the wastegate actuator, it will have a separate vacuum line that runs to the boost control solenoid. If you have the T fitting, remove the line that runs to the solenoid, but leave the solenoid plugged in.

The barb on the boost controller that connects to the wastegate actuator will have a small hole drilled into it. It is important to leave this hole open, and never switch the wastegate barb and the boost barb.

Boost controllers typically come with approximately 3 feet of vacuum line that you can cut into 2 pieces of desired lengths. The first piece will connect from the boost barb on the controller to your boost source. The second piece will connect from the wastegate barb on the controller to the wastegate vacuum port. Tip: if you have difficulty sliding the vacuum lines onto the barbs, use a little bit of oil to lube the barbs. Block off any open boost sources with vacuum caps and use cable ties to secure all vacuum line connections. We recommend using Premium Fuel with all turbo cars, especially once you have increased your stock boost.

Step 2:

Now that the boost controller is installed, it’s time to test the car. We recommend leaving the adjustment knob exactly where it was when you received and installed your MBC when you begin testing. Turning the adjustment knob clockwise increases boost, turning the adjustment knob counterclockwise decreases boost. This step is very important to keep an eye on your boost gauge to make sure you do not overboost and cause any damage to your motor.

Drive your car in an isolated area where you will be able to stop and go several times without interfering with traffic. Slowly press the gas and watch your boost gauge climb. If the boost gauge does not hit your target, increase the boost. If the boost begins to exceed your target, decrease the boost. Repeat the steps as necessary. It typically takes between 5 to 10 adjustments to get the boost exactly on your target. We recommend starting by adjusting the boost knob in 1/2 turn increments, and as you get close to your target you may need to make smaller adjustments. Never adjust more than 1/2 a turn at a time.

Each car has a maximum safe boost level, depending on upgrades to the vehicle and the characteristics of the fuel system, specifically how much fuel your pump and injectors can provide. It is important to research and know what the maximum boost level your specific car can safely run.

This guide serves as a basic starting point for manual boost controller installation. If you have an external wastegate or twin turbo vehicle, the installation technique may vary slightly.

Home Theater Room Lighting – Control and Ambiance

Room lighting control is an important aspect for home theaters – especially if you have a front-projector and screen set-up. Video projectors often demand a controlled lighting situation due to the lower brightness of their displays. Room ambiance is another important function of lighting during a viewing as you most likely do not want your guests to sit in darkness (unless it is a really creepy horror flick). Refracted room lighting is a consideration as well as you do not want a glare on the screen – whether it be ambient light from a window or purely reflections of a lamp inside your room. Ambient window lighting is major when determining your living room layout or designing a dedicated viewing room. A dedicated room would of course be best without windows altogether – if you have the luxury of designing a room from scratch.

Glare Control and Picture Enhancement

Room lighting control is reliably easy with a little planning. If you want to incorporate your home theater within your living or family room you will want to position your video display so that any ambient light upon the screen is eliminated or eliminated altogether. Each time we have moved to a new home one of my first considerations (much to the chagrin of my wife) is where we will place the TV in our living room. Since video is my profession I plan our living room layout around the TV and entertainment center (again to the chagrin of my wife). The TV is always placed at an angle away from the main window in the room in order to eliminate window reflections on the screen. Our living room lamps have shades that direct lighting downwards and are not very translucent in order to minimize their reflections. Since I have a front projector and screen display in the living room – in addition to the 32 "Mitsubishi we use for normal viewing – we have vertical blinds which do a nice job of darkening the room. We also have velor drapes which can pull To either side of the screen and do a great job of providing a controlled lighting environment for our projector. You will want to do much the same – have your video display directed away from any windows and use blinds with drapes to control daytime lighting from Windows.

Setting the Mood

Wall sconce lamps located along the sides of your room for ambiance during viewing in a dedicated theater room is a nice touch and lends to the theater-esque atmosphere. Depending upon the overall decor and theme of your dedicated room sconces can be either plain or elaborately gaudy much like the movie houses of yore. Basic sconces can be found at a local Home Depot or lighting store. More elite theater-looking sconces are available at specialty stores. A dedicated room will benefit from remote controlled lighting – or at least it will add a touch of class to your theater. There are many varieties of remote controlled lighting which can be controlled either by their standard controller or be included within a macro-programmed command on one of the many all-in-one macro-type remote controls such as the Harmony H659 which I am quite Pleased to own.

Regardless of whether you are incorporating a system into your living room or planning a dedicated room, the principles of home theater room lighting are the same. No glare or reflection on your video display and sufficient ambient room lighting for your guests during viewing. If you have any questions about home theater room lighting feel free to use the contact form at http://www.Home-Theater-Systems-Advice.com/contact.html and I will be pleased to answer any of your inquiries to The best of my ability. You may also find more resources for home theater lighting and components at http://www.Home-Theater-Systems-Advice.com – from beginner's component selection tips to room design and acoustic considerations.

COLD WARS: Don’t Let The Common Cold Take You Prisoner

Elliot Dick and Jack Gwaltney are old soldiers in the cold wars. For more than 30 years, the pair of American researchers has subjected hundreds of volunteers to colds to find out how the viruses do their dirty work. Indeed, it was Dick who, decades ago, helped invent “killer Kleenex” – tissues impregnated with chemicals that proved impervious to cold viruses but less successful in the marketplace. And Gwaltney once went so far as to record the number of times Sunday school teachers and medical students pick their noses – as part of an experiment looking into how cold viruses are transmitted.

What can they and other researchers tell you about how best to defend yourself against a cold? And if a cold virus does penetrate your defenses, what are the best ways to keep the ensuing sore throat, clogged nose, watering eyes, sneezes, coughs, and general misery milder and shorter than the usual week or so? Here’s the latest report from the cold front.

What’s the best thing I can do to escape a cold?

Keep your nose clean – figuratively speaking, that is. If you can stop a rhinovirus from docking high up inside your nose – in the nasopharynx, where nose meets mouth – there’s no way it can make you sick. “No question,” says Gwaltney. “It’s that specific.” Since a cold virus can get there only by touch or through the air, here’s what to do:

Keep your hand away from your nose and eyes. Scratching your nose or rubbing your eyes won’t put a cold virus directly into the nasopharynx, of course. But a virus deposited at the base of the nose or in the eye can easily be inhaled higher up into the nose or drain into the nasopharynx through the tear ducts. According to Gwaltney’s own study, most people’s hands wander up to their noses or eyes at least once every three hours. Train yourself to do better, and you’ll cut down dramatically on the number of colds you catch.

Wash your hands often. Within reason, of course. You can’t wash them every five minutes, for heaven’s sake. But when you’re around other people with colds, think like Lady Macbeth. Wash at every opportunity, preferably with an anti-bacterial soap.

Move away from people who are coughing and sneezing. And if you’re the one with the cold, carefully cover your own coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues – not cloth hand-kerchiefs, which act like virus motels when they’re moist with mucus. Dick has found that keeping virus-bearing droplets from flying around goes a long way in preventing a cold from spreading. “We’ve tested a lot of couples, and we didn’t get any transmission when they were being careful,” he says.

Should I take vitamin C and other supplements?

Probably. There’s no direct evidence that vitamin C can prevent cold, but several well-controlled studies have demonstrated that it can markedly lessen both the symptoms and duration of a cold. Dick’s studies show that taking one 500-milligram tablet, four times a day, is all you’ll need.

Can my toothbrush reinfect me?

It’s not likely, for a couple of reasons. First, a rhinovirus, the most common cold virus, has to get into your nose, and what won’t happen with a toothbrush unless you have an extremely wild way of using it. Other kinds of viruses, such as enteroviruses, which live in your gut, do cause a few colds, but so few that they’re no reason to soak a toothbrush in rubbing alcohol or disinfectant. Second, once you’re infected with a cold, you produce antibodies to the virus that caused it. That gives you a grace period of at least a few weeks – maybe much longer – of resistance to that particular virus.

How risky is it to be around people with colds?

A lot less risky than you might think. Cold viruses, studies show, have to attack in overwhelming numbers to get past the hairs, mucus layers, and other mechanical barriers built into the human nose. “Twenty minutes in a doctor’s office or on a bus ride to work shouldn’t pose any great threat,” Dick says, “unless you’re near somebody with a really bad cough that puts out a lot of droplets.” Even a couple of hours at the movies is pretty safe, he says, assuming you stay three or four seats away from anyone who’s not covering up and you wash your hands before putting them near your eyes or nose.

Spending all day in an office building filled with sneezers or a couple of hours or more in an airplane is another matter. In an airplane, especially, recirculated air in a pressurized cabin distributes viruses among all the passengers and dries out mucus membranes that normally, when moist, would trap invaders and dispose of them. For that reason, one of the best things you can do is drink a lot of water.

And kissing is off limits – right?

Wrong, all wrong, says Dick. A kiss is hardly more likely to transmit a cold than is sitting in a draft, he says. As chief of the Respiratory Virus Research laboratory at the University of Wisconsin, Dick once blind-folded 13 pairs of volunteers and walked them into a sterile room. One person in each pair had been infected with a particular cold virus; the other person had neither the cold nor antibodies that might be present from an earlier exposure to defend against it. While his team of researchers watched, each pair kissed for a minute to a minute and a half. “Being blind-folded, I think, let them really put their hearts into it,” he says. Just one of the 13 smoochers caught a cold.

Getting any more passionate, however, could put you at risk. Jack Gwaltney, chief of epidemiology and virology at the University of Virginia medical school, points out that some kisses involve touching with the hands. If your hand picks up a virus and then comes in contact with your eyes or nose, he says, you might wake up a few days later with the sniffles and blame the kiss, unfairly, for the cold.

What if I catch a cold anyway? What should I do?

For starters, get as much sleep as you can to keep your immune system humming. And drink plenty of liquids – especially water – to loosen mucus and carry away the debris of infection. Beyond those basics, it’s usually best to attack symptoms individually. Here’s how:

Try decongestant drops or spray for a stuffy nose. Unlike pills, they put medication right where you need it. When you’re aiming at your nose, why run a drug through your stomach? Decongestants are a good bet for the worst night or two, when stuffiness ruins your sleep. But don’t use them more than three nights in a row, because rebound swelling can stop you up all over again.

Give antihistamines a try. Until recently, experts warned that histamines – chemicals released in allergic reactions – have little to do with cold symptoms. That advice was based partly on Gwaltney’s own reports that he detected no histamine in nasal secretions. “However, science marches on,” he says. In a more recent study, not yet published, he finds that for people with rhinovirus colds, antihistamines reduced sneezing by about 50 per cent and runny noses by about 30 per cent.

Stop a cough with codeine or an over-the-counter suppressant containing either dextromethorphan or diphenhydramine chloride. All the drugs work by soothing the brain’s cough centre. Gwaltney has also reported success with naproxen, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. He speculates that it works by interfering with prostaglandins, hormone-like substances that trigger inflammation and coughs. Ibuprofen, another anti-inflammatory found inn pain-killer pills, also reduces coughing. Use these drugs in the minimum over-the-counter doses.

For a sore throat, try gargling with a teaspoon of salt dissolved in a glass of warm water. The salt-water won’t kill viruses or bacteria, but it will reduce inflammation and take the edge off the pain. Gargling also helps wash away irritating secretions left by post-nasal drip.

How can I be sure I have a cold and not an allergy or the flu?

It’s a matter of degree. A cold usually comes on gradually, with a vague out-of-sorts feeling. Then, in a day or so, you’ll typically notice a slight sore throat, followed by a symphony of problems in your nose, throat, and chest. If you feel chills or aches, they’ll be slight, and your fever, if any, probably won’t top 100°.

An allergy can mimic a cold, but it’s much less likely to cause a fever, and it is never accompanied by aches and pains. If your eyes and nose itch like crazy, suspect an allergy.

Influenza strikes fast, with fever, aches – mainly in the back muscles – sore throat, and a dry cough worse than you get with most colds. The fever usually hits the 101° to 102° range, and it sometimes flames as high as 104°, often so quickly that you’ll recall the exact hour it began. Other symptoms may include runny nose, headache, eye pain, and sensitivity to light, as well as diarrhoea and vomiting. Even if you’re the type of person who goes about your business with a cold, you’ll probably find that impossible with the flu.

Will chicken soup help?

It appears so. Irwin Ziment, a pulmonary specialist at the University of California at Los Angeles, points out that chicken, like most protein foods, contains natural amino-acid called cysteine, which is released when you make the soup. “Cystine bears a remarkable chemical similarly to a drug called acetylcysteine, which doctors prescribe for their parents with bronchitis and respiratory infections,” he says. Acetylcysteine, which originally was made from chicken feathers and skin, thins out mucus in the lungs and make it easier to expel, he says. Ziment advises his patients to make their soup as hot, spicy, and garlicky as they can stand. Pepper, hot curry powder, and other spices release a wave of watery fluids in the mouth, throat and lungs, thinning out mucus.

When is cold most infectious?

For the first three days, from the time the first symptom appears. “You start sending a lot of viruses into the outside world when your nose is running and you’re coughing and sneezing,” Gwaltney says. During those three days, your body’s defenses are working to knock down the number of viruses, and by the fourth day, you pose less danger to people around you.

How long should I expect my cold to last?

It depends. Most people are completely over a cold’s symptoms within 10 days. But the illness can last anywhere from three days for a lucky few to several weeks.

If yours hasn’t improved after 10 days or seems worse, call a doctor. Call sooner if you notice facial swelling or super-sensitive molars – signs of bacterial infection in the sinuses or middle ear. You can attack that, unlike, the original viral infection, with antibiotics. You don’t always have to – such infections often clear up by themselves – but you should, for two reasons: to get rid of pain and debilitation and to reduce the risk of the cold’s turning into a sinus infection that might last months or years.

What else should I do?

Stay cheerful. Watch funny video movies. Call a friend you haven’t talked to in years. Visualize viruses keeling over and dying. Remind yourself, aloud if necessary, that this illness is no big deal.

You’re not just whistling in the dark when you do all that. You’re helping your immune system shorten the cold. Sheldon Cohen, a researcher at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, found that the more positive a person’s attitude – measured by responses to questions about stress from volunteers at the Common Cold Research Unit in England – the less his or her chances of catching a cold in the first place, and the less severe the symptoms if a cold did appear.

Look on the bright side, in short, and you’ll improve your chances of avoiding a cold or, if you run out of luck, at least getting over it fast.

Leader Access – Mentor and Protege Bridging

Edgar Allen Poe pondered weak and weary as his famous poem The Raven relates. Facing organizations across the globe is a need to discover the time for executives to knowledge being weak and weary. Yet, this sees counter-culture to Baby Boomer generation executives who put their hearts into work. Further complicating decisions are health statistics for older workers. The bar for becoming weak and weary is moving away from the sixties to the seventies. Who or what determines when an executive is ready to move on. When is it time for executives to take themselves out of the picture allowing the next generation its leadership role?

Consider another example: The election year of 1960 saw a youthful Irish Catholic ascend to the Presidency of the United States. Baby Boom Americans remember his "Ask not …" statement; Most high school and college students have heard the quote repeated in Public Speaking classes. However, an important part of the Kennedy Inaugural Address goes unheeded or unheeded among business executives. Kennedy told us the torch has past to a new generation. The label Kennedy fought against was not only religious but also age.

Generational Labeling

The sociology of labeling generations is arbitrary. Most agree the Baby Boom Generation began about 1946. Boomers are children of the Silent Generation or, as Tom Brokaw puts it, The Greatest Generation. As Boomers reach retirement age, youngest members of the Silent Generation still hold positions of leadership and power across the globe. Two generations, still holding onto leadership, and seem unable or unwilling to pass the torch. They are either weak nor weary, many have disposable wealth, and many are still physically and mentally strong. Why do they not step away to enjoy the fruits of their labor to let the next generation take command? One answer may be the portal of the next generation by media sources nationally and globally. The labeling is very reminiscent of the Kennedy era.

Generation X – Generation Next

Laura Slattery presents a synopsis of media labeling of the generation born to Baby Boomers. In short, the label put on the generation born between 1961 and 1981 was slackers, pigeonholed by the image of disaffected. Slattery shares the words of Douglas Brinkley who called the generation "numb and dumb … white upper-middle class and college educated." This age group is comfortable living at home with their parents, the media reported. Perhaps this capricious depiction stuck in the minds of Boomers and the Silent Generation.

Russell Hawkins addressing leadership in education, specifically succession of principals reports statistics from the US, Canada, and his New South Wales home.

O 40 percent of US principals are about to retire.

O In Canada, depending on Province, 30 to 57 percent of schools leaders can retire in three to five years.

O In NSW, 63 percent of school principals are over 50 years old.

Education is one industry facing a new generation of leaders. Additional research may possibly carry those numbers across industries globally. Time is neigh for Boomer leaders to take on mentoring roles, coaching and training a new batch of leaders.

Mentoring

The purpose of this article is not defending Boomers and Silents in their retention of leadership, rather the purpose is proposing their mentoring and coaching has prepared Generation X to assume the mantel of leadership – building a bridge. Russell Hawkins offers a view of principal access in New South Wales; However, examination of his position provides insight to access in most organizations. In a litany points, Hawkins identifies attributes that make access to leadership effective. His main points include

O A coherent research base or framework.

O Links between theory and practice.

O Content applied in authentic settings addressing common issues.

O Practical skills developed in context.

O Challenging relevant simulations to improve decision-making.

O Supportive groups providing a social structure for skills acquisition.

O Mentoring to guide new leaders.

O Co-ordination of leaderships support.

O Sequential development across the different stages of leadership.

For further discussion of leadership success or access, the focus is on mentoring to guide new leaders for the inevitable role they will play in future leadership. Dan O'Hair et al express the value of mentoring with similar points as Hawkins and expand those points explaining the mentor gives a protégé public recognition, is important on the protégé's behalf, and as the relationship builds the mentor becomes a friend and role model.

Mentoring is an act taken consciously. A senior leader who brings a protégé under tutelage is doing so with a specific goal – to prepare a protégé to lead. In the ideal relationship, both members enter the relationship voluntarily. They initiate the relationship based on the mentor's interest in the protégé and the protégé's loyalty to the mentor. As the initiation phase continues, they cultivate their relationship and bond interpersonally. At times, the relationship drifts apart. Either the mentor or protégé takes on new tasks or job requirements separating them over both time and space. In this separation stage, the protégé is more independent, able to show how well the lessons learned his / her leadership skills.

Redefining the relationship because of promotion is a great complement for a mentor. Over time, the mentor and protégé may become peers. More than sharing knowledge and expertise, they now provide one another mutual aid and support. Reaching this stage seldom occurs if the teacher courses well and protégé learners well. The learning can result in separation through reassignments, promotions, or organizational job change.

Mentoring – Bridging to the Next Generation

According to the research by the Institute for the Future for Intuit, large businesses do not employ masses of people as they once did. Currently, fewer than 40 percent of US workers earn their living in organizations with employment greater than 1000. Before, the future of business depends on new leadership emerging before pre-retirement age workers actually step down.

There is support for this coming from William Rothwell who sees older workers as mentors and coaches for the next generation of leaders. Keeping existing talent in place aids business in overcoming chaos and confusion that would certainly make up for hiring untested workers. Rothwell does not end his discussion with mentoring and coaching. He continues with a challenge to supervisors and managers to identify potential successors. A retail regional vice-president used the phrase, "Hire your replacement." The value of this statement applies to continuity of operations by developing talent from within.

Mentoring allows organizations to develop the skill sets necessary to continue the mission. Further, mentoring aids in projecting a vision of the future by sharing with a protégé history, and long-term business objectives. Conversely, searching for leader successors from outside the organization may result in what Rakesh Khurana calls a hope that an outsider is a corporate savior. In fact, successors from outside may have a narrow set of attributes considered desirable versus skill sets needed to actually lead an organization forward.

Conclusion

Recall Poe and The Raven, weak and weary may no longer suit healthy leaders who want to continue in leadership. Recall also, the example of Kennedy taking the passed torch. The previous generation did not want to relinquish its hold on leadership; They feared the next generation was ill prepared to lead. Hindsight indicates new leaders made mistakes and learned from experience. Foresight can predict the next generation of leaders will make mistakes and learn from them as well. Soon, Boomers will pass the threshold of retirement. There are leaders ready to grasp the torch.

Laura Slattery (No Date). Generation X to Generation Next. Egoist.

Russell Hawkins (2004). GENeration neXt: Generational Change in the Principalship. NSW Department of Education and Training.

Dan O'hair, Gustav W. Friedrich, and Lynda Dixon Shaver (1998). Strategic Communication in Business and the Professions (3rd Ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company

Intuit (2007, January). The Intuit Future of Small Business Report: First Installment: Demographic Trends and Small Business. Institute for the Future for Intuit.

William J. Rothwell (2005). Effective Succession Planning: Ensuring Leadership Continuity and Building Talent From Within (3rd Ed.). New York: AMACOM.

Rakesh Khurana (2002). Searching for a Corporate Savior: The Irrational Quest for Charismatic CEOs. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

How To Choose a Computer Mouse

Computer Mice

Every computer user can hopefully identify their mouse and the importance it plays in the daily operation of their computer. Mice are nothing new and for the most part are nothing overly complex, but the average user may not be familiar with all of the options and technologies that may go into these little devices. This Tech Tip will take a look at some of the features of mice that people may take for granted, or may otherwise be unaware of.

Tracking Technologies

Mechanical mice – Mechanical mice were the first ones used on computers, and can still be found for sale, despite the advances of tracking technologies. These mice feature a hard ball on the underside that rolls as the mouse is moved, and rollers inside the mouse allow the physical motion to be translated to the pointer on the screen. Some "ball mice" are a bit more advanced and replace the internal rollers with optical sensors, but the same principle applies.

Mechanical mice require occasional maintenance to keep the ball and rollers free of lint and other debris, and with numerous moving parts there is always a potential for problems. The use of a mouse pad is recommended for these mice as they not only provide a clean surface to work on, but also provide the needed resistance for the ball to roll smoothly.

The precision of mechanical mice is not particularly good, and although they may be fine for typical desktop work, they were never quite up to the task of detailed graphics work or serious game playing.

Optical mice – Optical mice replace the whole ball / roller assembly of mechanical mice with a beam of a light and an optical sensor. The beam of light shines down on the surface below the mouse and the sensor uses the light to track the movement. The images included with the listing for this optical mouse ( http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=HTM-39GWT&cat=MOU ) provide a glimpse at the bottom of the mouse, where the light and sensor can be Seen.

Optical mice have several advantages over mechanical mice. There are no moving parts to break or other cause problems. The need for maintenance is greatly reduced as the bottoms have no openings or rollers to collect lint. Although mice generally are not heavy, the elimination of the ball and roller mechanism allows an optical mouse to be much lighter than a comparable mechanical mouse. The precision of optical mice is also much greater than mechanical mice, and the resolution can go from the low hundreds to the high hundreds (as measured in dpi, dots per inch).

Another advantage is that the need for a mouse pad may be eliminated with an optical mouse, as they do best while tracking on any smooth, flat surface. A clean desktop is generally good enough, but those looking to take the precision of optical mice to the highest level may opt for a performance "mousing surface". There are several precision mousing surface manufacturers, such as XRay Pads ( http://www.xraypad.com/ ) and FUNC Industries ( http://www.func.net/ ), that design pads to appeal to game players and others Who demand the best performance.

Laser mice – Laser technology is the latest and greatest in computer mice tracking, and takes the advantages of optical to a new level. Most of the attributes of a laser mouse have been described in the optical mouse section, except for one. Instead of a fairly wide beam of light, it uses an extremely narrow beam of laser light.

The Logitech MX1000 laser mouse may be the mouse for you if you are looking for extreme precision. According to Logitech, the laser technology used in the MX1000 provides up to "20x more sensitivity to surface detail – or tracking power – than optical."

Hard Wired Connection Technologies

Serial – Serial mice are fairly difficult to come by these days, as they are the ports that they need in order to operate. This technology is quite old and slow, and the popularity and convenience of USB has all but eliminated the need for this interface on your typical PC. But, there were mice that sported the 9-pin connection needed to connect to a serial port, and many PS2 mice used to include an adapter for Serial ports.

PS2 – PS2 mice were the standard for a long time, as all motherboards provided two PS2 ports for connecting a keyboard and a mouse. USB technology has become so widely used that the slower and less convenient PS2 ports are on the verge of extinction with the Serial port. That said, not many mice are still sold that only support a PS2 connection, but there are still some available.

USB – Most mice can now connect via USB, and include an adapter to be used on a PS2 port, as well. It seems that just about any mouse now uses USB to connect, whether it is a wired mouse, or any variety of wireless mice that we are about to look at.

Wireless Connection Technologies

Radio Frequency – The most common type of wireless mouse uses radio frequencies to communicate motion to a receiver that is connected to the PC. This generic wireless mouse ( http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=RF-M308-RC-USB&cat=MOU ) operates on the 27MHz frequency and the mouse itself is powered by AAA batteries which are not included. As you move up the price scale of RF (Radio Frequency) wireless mice, the packages will generally include an integrated rechargeable battery, as does the Logitech MX1000 discussed previously. Other features of higher end RF wireless mice include extended range, greater precision, and a receiver that doubles as a battery charger.

Bluetooth – The Tech Tip on Bluetooth discussed the basics of this wireless technology, and how it was a good fit for 'lower speed' devices, like a mouse. Logitech and IOGear are two manufacturers offering products for Bluetooth users, in addition to more traditional mice. The Bluetooth mice are also battery powered, and use the 2.4GHz radio frequency to communicate with an included receiver / charger or other Bluetooth adapter.

RFID – A truly unique approach to wireless mice has been developed by a company called A4Tech. The A4Tech ND-30 RFID wireless mouse must be used with the included mouse pad in order to function, but there are no batteries in the mouse, and no cords on the mouse to get in the way. It works by using electro magnetic induction between the pad (which is plugged into a USB port) and the wireless, non-powered mouse. You never have to worry about replacing / charging batteries, and the weight of the mouse is greatly reduced since the power features are no longer necessary.

Features

Buttons – Most mice (except for a Macintoch's) include at least two buttons. The use of these is fairly well understood, but other buttons may be featured on a mouse to further simplify common tasks. The Logitech MX 510 mouse features a total of 8 buttons which can be programmed to execute functions of the user's choosing.

Scroll wheels – Many mice now include a scroll wheel between the two main buttons which serves to allow up / down scrolling of documents and web pages. The scroll wheel may also serve as a third button on some mice, and clicking the scroll wheel will activate commands in many applications. More advanced scroll wheels are found on some mice that allow for left to right scrolling, which may be useful on a wide spread or large image.

Extra features – Many mice provide more than the basic functionality we have come to expect. Some provide a reduced foot print in order to make them more portable for use with a notebook computer. Some are designed for multi-tasking and provide an integrated flash memory card reader. Then, there are others that just look cool with a bit of a light show, or that actually keep you cool by including a small fan in the palm rest area.

Final Words

On the surface, computer mice are fairly simple devices that may not receive the attention they deserve by end users. Selecting a high quality, ergonomically designed mouse can do wonders for productivity and comfort, and the options available should allow anyone to find the right mouse for their personal preferences.

Search Engine History – Web Search Before Google

Did Google always dominate the web search market? In the second of three posts on the history of the Search Engines, I look at the pioneers of the early search market, including the very first web crawler, WWW Wanderer. Did you know that Disney used to be one of the largest players in the business? Or that Altavista was more technically advanced, in many ways, in 1998 than Google is now? Read on!

The pioneering Web Search Engines

Indeed, the point at which modern search engines first began to appear is after the development and popularization of the MOSAIC browser in 1993. In 1994, Internet Magazine was launched, together with a review of the top 100 websites billed as the 'most extensive' List ever to appear in a magazine. A 28.8Kbps modem was priced at $ 399 and bought the internet within the reach of the masses (albeit slowly)!

At this point and for the next 4-5 years, it was just about possible to produce printed and web-based directories of the best sites and for this to be useful information for consumers. However, the rapid growth in the number of www sites (from 130 in 1993 to over 600,000 in 1996) began to make this endeavor seem as futile as producing a printed yellow pages of all the businesses, media and libraries in the world!

Whilst WAIS was not a lasting success, it did highlight the value of being able to search – and click through to the full text of documents on multiple internet hosts. The nascent internet magazines and web directories further highlighted the challenge of being able to keep up with an internet which was growing faster than the ability of any human being to catalog it.

In June 1993, Matthew Gray at MIT developed the PERL-based web crawler, WWW Wanderer. Initially, this was simply devised as a tool to measure the growth of the world wide web by "collecting sites". Later, however, Gray (who now works for Google) used the crawled results to build an index called "Wandex" and added a search front-end. In this way, Gray developed the world's first web search engine and the first automatic web crawler (an essential feature of all modern search engines).

Whilst Wanderer was the first to send a robot to crawl web sites, it did not index the full text of documents (as had WAIS). The first search engine to combine these two essential ingredients was WebCrawler, developed in 1994 by Brian Pinkerton at the University of Washington. WebCrawler was the search engine on which many of us early pioneers first scoured the web and will be remembered with affection for its (at the time) attractive graphical interface and the incredible speed with which it returned results. 1994 also saw the launch of Infoseek and Lycos.

However, the scale of growth of the web was beginning to put indexing beyond the reach of the average University IT department. The next big step required capital investment. Enter, stage right, the (then huge) Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and it's super-fast Alpha 8400 TurboLaser processor. DEC was an early adopter of web technologies and the first Fortune 500 Company to establish a web site. Its search engine, AltaVista, was launched in 1995.

Founded in 1957, DEC had during the 1970s and 1980s led the mini-computer market. In fact, most of the machines on which the earliest ARPANET hosts ran were DEC-PDP-10s and PDP-11s. However, by the early 1990s, DEC was a business in trouble. In 1977, their then CEO, Ken Olsen, famously said that "there is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home". Whilst something taken out of context at the time, this quote was in part symptomatic of DEC's slow response to the emergence of personal computing and the client-server revolution of the 1980s.

By the time Altavista was being developed, the company was besieged on all sides by HP, Compaq, Dell, SUN and IBM and was losing money like it was going out of fashion. Louis Monier and his research team at DEC were "discovered" internally as the ultimate PR coup; The entire web captured – and searchable – on a single computer. What better way to showcase the company as an innovator and demonstrate the lightning fast speed and 64-bit storage of their new baby?

During 1995, Monier unleashed a thousand web crawlers onto the young web (at that time an unpretented achievement). By December (site launch) Altavista had indexed more than 16 million documents totaling several billion words. In essence, Altavista was the first commercial-strength, web-based search engine system. AltaVista enjoyed nearly 300,000 visits on its first day alone and, within nine months, was serving 19 million requests a day.

Altavista was, indeed, well ahead of it's time technically. The search engine pioneered many technologies that Google and others later took years to catch up with. The site carried natural search queries, Boolean operators, automatic translation services (babelfish) and image, video and audio search. It was also lightning fast (at least in the beginning) and (unlike other engines) coped well with indexing legacy internet resources (and particularly the then still popular UseNet newsgroups).

After Altavista, Magellan and Excite (all launched in 1995), a multitude of other search engine companies made their debut, including Inktomi & Ask Jeeves (1996) and Northern Light & Snap (1997). Google itself launched in 1998.

Of these early engines, each enjoyed its own enthusiastic following and a share of the then nascent search market. Each also had its own relative strengths and weaknesses. Northern Light, for example, organized its search results in specific folders labeled by subject (something arguably still to be better informed today) and admitted a small – but enthusiastic following as a result. Snap pioneered search results ranked, in part, by what people clicked on (something Yahoo! and Google are only toying with now!)

In January 1999 (at the beginning of the dotcom boom), the largest sites (in terms of market share) were Yahoo !, Excite, Altavista and Disney, with 88% of all search engine referrals. Market share was not closely related to the number of pages indexed (where Northern Light, Altavista and a then relatively unknown Google led the pack):

Search Engine Share of search referrals (Dec 99)

Yahoo! – 55.81%

Excite Properties (Excite, Magellan & WebCrawler) – 11.81%

Altavista – 11.18%

Disney Search Properties (Infoseek & Go Network) – 8.91%

Lycos – 5.05%

Go To (now Overture) – 2.76%

Snap / NBCi – 1.58%

MSN – 1.25%

Northern Light

Outsourcing Your Inside Paint Needs

Nothing can bring a home or business to life-like new paint! It can be the same color or it may be time to switch things up! Interior painting can be time-consuming though and get in the way of your day-to-day routine. Trying to fit that all into your normal routine can be stressful and you may decide it is best to outsource the interior painting.

Hiring a professional means you free up your own time for other things. You may have too much going on already or small children to care for so it isn’t practical to take on the job on your own. They also have the right equipment to take care of it safely. Buying the extra items you would need add up fast. You do want to carefully hire someone to do the work.

References

Ask for referrals from others and you will quickly get some great feedback about interior painting providers. You can also check online to see what people have to say about certain businesses in the area. Always check for references though before you hire anyone. Ask them about recent jobs they have done and find out if the customers were happy with the outcome.

If you know someone personally who had their interior done, that can be encouraging. After all, they are telling you the great experience with them. You can also see the outcome of the paint job on your own and see how great it has turned out.

Background Check

It is a good idea to find out if the interior painting provider is bonded and has insurance. This will help to protect you should any items be damaged or ruined during the process. It also helps to protect you if they happen to get hurt while inside your home or business. You don’t want that to fall into the responsibility of your homeowner’s insurance.

If such information isn’t available, it is a good idea to get their consent for a background check. You need to be very careful about who you allow in your home. Don’t become a victim because you didn’t evaluate the reputation and the background of the interior painting provider before you allowed them to come into your property.

Pricing

What will the price be for the work? They are going to need to come inside to look around and give you a written estimate. Based on the pricing, the amount of time it will take, and other factors you can hire a great business to take on the challenge. Talk to them about anything you need them to accommodate.

For example, you may ask them to complete certain areas of the home or business first. You may ask them to work certain hours so your family life or the needs of your customers aren’t interrupted with their work. Most interior painting providers understand such requests and they will strive to work out such details.

Protecting your Items

Talk to them about the process of protecting all of your items. Will you need to move things for them to come in and do the painting? Will they take care of moving and covering items so they don’t get paint or overspread on them? Will they make sure the cleanup is successfully done and items are put back where they belong?

The more overall information you have from the start, the better the process is going to flow. Ask questions in advance and verify information. You need someone you can count on to get you results for your home or business. Don’t take risks that can result in scams, poor painting results, or other concerns that you didn’t think of beforehand.

How To Build Speed For Athletes – Triple Threat Speed Training

If you’re an athlete, you already know how much speed kills. Lots of athletes out there train for speed year around but many train wrong.

I want to talk about three different important components of speed training I like to call “Triple Threat Speed Training.”

The three components of Triple Threat Speed Training are:

1. Power Acceleration Training

2. Over Speed Training

3. Speed Strength Training

If you train all of these different components together, the right way, in the right amounts, you’ll get more explosive, athletic, and faster for sure.

I’ll go ahead and explain the different type of training that’s involved with Triple Thread Speed Training. I will warn you now, I HATE science and so I will spare you the boring scientific mumbo-jumbo that goes along with a lot of this stuff. I want to get right to the point so you can use these techniques to start getting fast now! Not sit around and study it all day long.

Instead, I will talk strictly about what each component is and how you can train it. Leave all the geek science talk to your in-depth books.

Power Acceleration Training

Let’s get into the first component which is Power Acceleration Training.

One of the most important aspects of being fast is the ability to go from a stopped position to full speed in the least amount of time possible. When you are able to do this fast and efficiently, you have a lot of power and acceleration.

There are many ways to train for power and acceleration. The best ways to train for these two components are with explosive type movements such as plyometrics and light resisted running. Let me explain the two.

First, you have explosive type plyometric movements such as broad jumps, bounding, lunge jumps, squat jumps, power skips, box jumps, single leg hops, and drop jumps. You can even add in your Olympic lifts as well but with younger and new athletes, I stick to the basic plyos.

All of these movements force the body to use a high rate of force development. All this really means is that you force the body to explosively accelerate through the movements.

Now the important thing about plyometric and explosive type movements like these are that you force the body to move at full speed. It’s essential you move at full speed.

The best way to train and improve plyometric type movements is to perform them when your body is fresh. I prefer to have my athletes do plyos and other explosive type movements at the beginning of a training session with close to complete recovery times.

So for example, we would perform a set of lightly weighted squat jumps x 5 reps. After you are finished, you would rest for 60 secs up to 120 secs. You want to be fresh so you can be as explosive as you can when performing the exercise. It does us no good to perform an explosive exercise as tired as this will only train us to be half as explosive.

As far as reps go, you want to keep the reps low per set and stick around 20-30 reps per workout with explosive type movements. The goal isn’t to get totally fatigued out where a lot of athletes tend to think. It’s to have high quality, all out effort reps.

Now let’s talk about the other type of training within this first component, which is acceleration training.

In acceleration training, you want to work on going from zero to full speed as fast as possible.

Great ways to train for this is with hill sprints and resisted running drills such as sled runs, prowler pushes, and partner harness sprints.

Now, this is where a lot of athletes go completely wrong. Many athletes try to perform resisted sprints with too much resistance. When there’s too much resistance, the running form is altered which does us no good, and our running speed isn’t near the top.

Instead, we want just enough resistance to give us a challenge but not much more. If you really want to break it down, you do not want to have so much resistance that you slow your running speed down over 10%. You still want to be able to run near top speed.

So for hill sprints, the perfect angle or incline of hill to work at would be about a 15-20 degrees. I know I was wrong when I was younger running up hills over 45 degree which forced me to run a ton slower than full speed.

Now for sled sprints and other forms of resisted sprints, the same concept applies. You do not want to go too heavy and make it into a strength exercise. I see kids still running with tons of weight on the sled and they are barely moving. This is great for strength development but bad for acceleration. You want to again be able to go near top speed so go light with the weight used on the sled sprints and when you do partner harness drills, the resistance should be just enough to force the runner to explode full speed.

Over Speed Training

Let’s move onto the next component of Triple Threat Speed Training which is Over Speed Training.

I would have to say this is by far my most favorite type of speed training as there are multiple ways to do it and its fun.

The main purpose of Over Speed training is to force the body to actually run faster than its normally able to run. Doing Over Speed type training will train the body to actually be able to run faster by adaptation over time. It helps to increase your stride frequency to a higher degree.

A few examples of how to do Over Speed Training are by running downhill and partner towing drills with a bungee cord.

First, let’s talk about downhill running. When you run downhill, gravitational pull will force you to run faster than you’re normally able to do. This can be super effective but also dangerous at the same time if you do it wrong.

Just like with uphill running, we want to make sure the hill isn’t too steep. We want just enough slope to force us to run faster. If the slope is too steep, we risk running too fast and actually getting too out of control and possibly causing a potential injury. Running form still needs to be taken into effect.

Partner towing drills work great as well to force us to run faster than normal BUT there needs to be close attention to the ability of the athlete and form. Partner drills can potentially be dangerous if done incorrectly.

What you do is get into a 10ft – 15ft bungee cord with a partner. The partner takes off at about 3 quarters speed as the other person stays put. As tension builds up in the bungee, the person standing there takes off full speed. What happens in the bungee cord acts as a sling shot, pulling the person attached to it fast ahead which then forced that person to run faster than usual. This works great if you do it right!

Speed Strength Training

The final component of Triple Threat Speed Training is Speed Strength.

This is the most important component and serves as the base of all speed and athletics. All athletes need to have a base level of strength. Without it, we will not be able to produce enough force or power to efficiently run fast.

I can guarantee that if I train a young athlete that is extremely weak and slow to get stronger, he will automatically get faster at the same time, even if I don’t do any sort of speed work.

The more advanced you get, the lesser role strength actually plays as those athletes already usually posses a large amount of strength. In these instances, technique and specific running speed drills become way more important.

But for the most part, strength plays such a huge roll! The types of strength I speak about are all full body, functional strength types. Being able to perform all different types of bodyweight movements with ease is a requirement. Performing movements such as your squats, box squats, sumo squats, deadlifts, push presses, rdl’s, cleans, snatches, jerks, and lunges are very important.

The Olympic lifts are not essential but do help with explosive type speed more so than anything.

Now it’s not necessary that you must be able to deadlift a small semi truck or squat a house. What’s important is that you have very high relative strength to your body weight. An example would be for an athlete to weight 150lbs to have a 250-300lb squat. That’s exceptional and very strong. While that may not seem like much, it is for a 150lb athlete! Numbers aren’t important. Relative body strength is!

It’s important to always have a strong base of strength no matter what sport you play. The stronger you are, the better your other attributes will be.

Athletes need not be afraid of heavy weights. Getting stronger will help to build important muscle mass needed to improve explosive and accelerative type qualities as well.

The important thing to remember and keep close watch on is lifting form and technique. If the form is good and technique is sound, things will be great. It’s it the opposite, then lifting can be detrimental to the athletes speed qualities, so pay attention to the basics and stick to good form and technique!

Those that are really fast, are usually also very strong as well.

So, to become as fast as you possibly can be, you need to focus on all three components – power and acceleration, over speed training, and strength!

Get Fast and Strong!

8 Things to Consider Before Choosing a Technical Writer

We are in a time of increasing competition and the ever increasing need for good quality technical documentation both to support your business and market its credentials to other companies. Many more businesses are seeking to outsource their technical writing requirements. How do you find just the right person for the project? Here are eight things to consider first.

1) Experience: This is not the time to trust this very important assignment to someone new to the job. Ideally for technical writing you need both writing experience AND the required technical experience. For very in-depth articles and write papers there is only so far a quick Google search will go to providing you with a quality and insightful article. Technical document writing such as business proposals, tenders, business plans, Statements of Work, Case Studies etc. have a great deal riding on them, including the expansion of your company. They really need a writer who has written many of them before. On this note, always ask for a sample. You will not get a “live sample” from a writer with integrity because most of them write as ghost writers and many documents are confidential, but you should get a good example document from a writer that has been in business for some time.

2) Command of the language: Whilst many people are highly educated and can speak several languages, a native writer is always better. There are always little nuances that show up in the writing that look awkward and cause the reader to stumble if your chosen language is not their first, or has been used by them for many years. This can be a simple matter of grammar and spelling but can also be cultural references and how people are addressed.

3) Does your intended writer ask the appropriate questions? This comes down to experience again. At the very least they should ask you the following:

a) Your company brand.

b) The market for the document.

c) The aim of the document.

d) The tone of voice to use.

e) For an article: keywords and length.

f) For a white paper: the type, keywords and length.

4) Will the writing be outsourced? This is very important, as there are a lot of writing factories around who lure you in with good examples for reasonable prices. They then outsource the work to much cheaper and less able writers who produce poor quality work. Get a confirmation that the writer who wrote the samples is the one that will write for you.

5) Will it be unique? Some writers, particularly those newer at their job, do a quick research on Google and then run off a facsimile of a good article, changing a few words here and there. Some of the less able grab large chunks hoping that you do not notice. The really good ones write your articles and technical documents from scratch. Always use Copyscape to check your document before you pay, and build in the fact that you will into any project specification.

6) Is the writer professional at their job? Unfortunately there are writers around who see this art form as a method of making a quick dollar. A professional and experienced writer will:

a) Provide appropriate samples

b) Understand what you are trying to achieve from the writing

c) Ask the correct questions

d) Pass copyscape and preferably provide you with a unique article

e) Agree to work as a ghost writer and assign copyrights to your company after payment

f) Work efficiently without drama and being chased for work.

7) Is the price acceptable? Remember good quality technical documents take time; skill, experience and effort to both research and write. Information takes time to elicit from yourselves. If you keep a constant stream on needless messages to and fro or demand constant communication this is time consuming for your writer. If you want it very quick, the writer needs to work unsocial hours. This all takes time and costs. So work out the comfortable balance of quality, time and price that you can live with and remember the best writers will get it correct first time, the cheaper ones may not.

8) What does the process involve? For articles and white papers you really need your writer to ask the pertinent questions and then go away and write your document. For more complex technical documents such as a tender, business proposal, business plan, case study, manual etc. you should expect to be much more involved. You might even feel that you need guidance from your writer as to what you need to do and supply. After all you cannot think of everything. An experienced writer will have a written list of the process and/or be able to tell you what is involved. They will be proactive and communicative all along. Providing you with check lists, guidance notes and extra information as the project demands. Please expect to pay for this top-notch service though. If you want a business plan for $100 you are going to get a template, boiler plate document, badly spelled and bearing passing resemblance to your company. If you want a business plan that will win you funding and future business, then your writer will need to spend some time interviewing you to extract the relevant information. This service costs more than $100 but is so worth the price you pay.

If you get a positive response to all of your requirements above, then you have found a great, experienced technical writer that will produce quality and more importantly business winning documents for your company.

Dirt Devil Vacuums: The Name Behind Perfection In Vacuum Cleaning

How do you like it when the corners of the house are dusty; unhygienic and unclean? We know the answer. No one likes to live in a home that’s not cleaned properly or work at an office that doesn’t look clean for carelessness towards cleaning. Cleaning every nook and corner of a house; be it a big house or small house or may be an office space is tiresome. Vacuum cleaning can get the job done flawlessly and in less time. What makes a vacuum cleaner the best is the perfection with which it cleans your home to be dust free. It is more important to have vacuum cleaners for pet hairs.

Let Us Know A Few Of The Vacuum Cleaners For Pets From Dirt Devil

Dirt Devil Corded Hand Vacuum for Pets: There are many pet lovers and having them at home is bliss. While people love to cuddle and having them around, their furs can be seen everywhere in the house. Cleaning them is a painful task. With this vacuum cleaner for pets can make your daunting task easier and convenient. The suction ability it has is powerful for pulling the arrogant furs from your couches and beds.

Dirt Devil Vacuum Cleaner Bagless: This one is another one for the best cleaning of pet’s hair from the living room and your bedroom. The brush is motorized and powerful to pull the embedded dirt off the sofas and furniture. Your hands are not messy as it is bagless and you don’t have to put your hands in it for cleaning the dirt. It is not a joke that it can clean nearly 100% of the dust that is not visible to the naked eyes. It has five tools in it that make cleaning pet hair, car seats and interiors, and debris from every corner that your hands might not reach.

Dirt Devil Corded hand Vac for Pets: This design is especially for homes with pets. The furs or hair of pets can be sticking on the furniture arrogantly making it difficult for you to clean them. This vacuum cleaner by Dirt Devil has been designed to help you with cleaning that other vacuum cleaners can’t. Some of the features of this vacuum cleaner are listed below-

• The dirtcup is bagless for easy cleaning

• Most of the allergens are trapped by the filter it has been built with

• The power it has is magnificent which is 7 amp

• It comes with 2 years warranty along with 2 years for the motor

• Comfortability is its USP

• Pet hair upholstery brush makes it a useful tool for pet hair cleaning

So for every household that has pets and can’t do without them, the vacuum cleaners listed above are must have. The visible pet hair may make anyone visiting the house apprehensive of even sitting for a few minutes. Make your home appear to be the cleanest even when you have pets around you to enjoy.

World War One: The Legend of ‘Musical Box’

The Medium Mark A Whippet Tank was an allied tank of World War One. Its design and purpose was to exploit the armour of the heavier allied tanks and use its speed and mobility to gain a tactical advantage on the battlefield.

The Whippet Tank is considered to be the most successful British tank, and some would say most successful allied tank of the First World War. In particular, the Whippet was that successful, the tank was used in post-war conflicts in Russia and Ireland.

Following extensive trials of the tank, the Whippet was approved in 1917, and the first tanks left the production line in October 1917 and delivered to F Battalion of the Tank Corps

The Whippet, due to its speed and size was intended for fast hard hitting assaults.

The Whippets baptism of fire came in March 1918 as the Germans launched Kaiserschlacht, a last ditch offensive designed to finally break through allied lines. The Whippets’ most notable action was during the Amiens offensive in August 1918.

Although the Whippet’s had proved themselves, the cooperation of tanks and cavalry on the battlefield broke down. While advancing the Whippets could not keep pace with the cavalry and when the Whippets were attacked, the cavalry could not support them. Tanks of the 6th battalion gathered at Marcelcave in the evening of the first day of battle. From the original compliment of 48 tanks, 40 were still in running order. Whilst accounting for the losses, Whippet number 344 named ‘Musical Box’ was missing. The story of this tank and its crew is the greatest single tank action of the entire war.

The crew of Whippet number 344 under the command of Lt. C. B. Arnold performed the greatest mechanical cavalry charge of the war. Moving off at zero hour on the 8th August with the rest of the troops across that sector, they passed the railway at Villiers-Bretonneux and somehow became detached from the main force. Arnold became aware of a force of Mark V tanks and Australian Infantry under fire from German artillery. Arnold attacked without hesitation, first passing in front of the German guns and then to the rear peppering the gun positions with machine gun fire. The timely attack by Arnold allowed the Australian infantry to move forward. For the next 9 hours Arnold and his crew attacked German rear positions, infantry, and wagons. They dispersed a whole battalion of infantry in a camp between Bayonvillers and Harbonnieres, destroyed an observation balloon and a transport column of the German 225.Division.

Following unremitting attack upon the Germans, the conditions inside Arnold’s Whippet became so difficult that the crew used the mouthpieces of their gasmasks for breathing. The destruction of ‘Musical Box’ came when the Germans cornered Arnold’s tank and set it ablaze with artillery fire. Baling out of the burning wreck, the driver was shot and Arnold and the remaining crewman were taken prisoner.

Household Appliances: How to Be Environmentally Friendly

Many different people believe that being environmentally friendly also means spending more money that one could afford. Although this may be true in a few different cases, there is no doubt that many different actions could cause you to save money and help the environment. For example, the following solutions will help you save money while simultaneously helping the environment. For example, a Bosch fridge and a Whirlpool fridge freezer are all appliances that can help you save energy.

Switch the Light Bulbs That You Use

It will help your electricity bill if you change out all of the household light bulbs. Use energy saving lamps instead. This will not hurt your wallet because energy saving lamps is almost the same in price as the regular power consuming bulbs that you normally use. Energy saving lamps is available at hardware stores, supermarkets, and lighting shops. Advantages to using energy saving lamps include the following:

Energy saving lamps use less power, which can bring your energy bill down. Energy saving lamps also last

Turn off Lights When Not In use

It is common knowledge that you should turn off any unused lights. If you are away from an area for twenty minutes or more, you need to turn them off. Almost every home in the world burns too many lights. For example, some people leave on the outside lights if someone is not coming home soon. However, it would be better to purchase sensory lights that turn on every time someone comes up to the house.

Turn Off Appliances When Not In Use

It is extremely important to turn off every appliance in your home before you go to sleep. You should also turn off each appliance when you leave your home. The average LED standby light may cost as much as ten percent of your electricity bill each year. When you add each LED standby light in your home this can add up to a lot of money. In fact, there are small LED standby lights on almost every electrical device or appliance.

Think About What You Purchase

When it is time to replace an appliance such as a microwave, a refrigerator, or a washing machine, dryer and small appliances, you should consider looking for an energy saving item. You can check the energy rating on the box of the device before you purchase it. For example, if you are interested in a Bosch fridge or a Smeg fridge freezer, you may want to make sure that the energy rating can suit your needs.

There are many different energy efficient appliances available to men and women who are interested in purchasing the best item. They can help you save as much money as possible.

Stereotypes of Astrology Signs

Your Sun sign or just plainly “sign” is associated with many stereotypes these are typically the first thing a person hears about before learning Astrology. Here are some of the most popular ones.

Sign? Sun Sign?

In Western Astrology, the Sun goes in and out of the 12 signs of Zodiac about once a month. If you do not know your Sun sign or are right on the edge and aren’t sure, do a quick search.

I don’t mean to offend- they’re all explained below.

Aries: Foolish and Impulsive

Summed Up

Fire sign Aries is adventurous and innovative. They are stereo-typically known for being naive, impulsive, and intrusive.

The Real Story

Aries, the first sign of the Zodiac wheel, is thought to be the youngest on their journey of the universe. They can be intrusive, frank, and sometimes very loud. Unlike most signs, though, they really don’t need to second guess themselves- they often get things right. They are moving fast and always searching. Their fresh and new views of the world keep things exciting and their competitive side keeps it always growing. Wisdom, on the other hand, well, they won’t be dogmatically reciting what they’ve read in old dusty books- they’ll learn more from experience which they’ll gain in time.

Taurus: The Penny Pincher

Summed Up

Earth sign Taurus is solid and practical. They are stereo-typically known for being materialistic, stubborn, and too careful.

The Real Story

Taurian Suns often get stuck with the somewhat selfish role of being stingy with money. In truth, this sign often has a very complicated relationship with money/possessions. They see they must play the game, as others do, to make a living but this doesn’t always match their career goals. They are often very creative and if they can learn to mix this with earning cash, they will be happy and generous to those in need. Otherwise they will continue to have a strange love/hate relationship with it. In focusing so much on Taurus’ stubborn and materialistic ways people often forget to describe this sign’s good taste for the finer things in life and their robust energy.

Gemini: The Fickle Jack-of-All-Trades

Summed Up

Air sign Gemini is curious and responsive. They are stereo-typically know for being changeable, flaky, and having a poor memory.

The Real Story

Though many Gemini Suns are proud to be a “twin” this isn’t entirely the whole story. This changeability is more flexibility rather than a split personality. Gemini Suns can jump between the extremes and stay sane. They prefer to learn a little bit of everything to experience and communicate/connect with others.

Their restless energy has them jumping from one thing to the next, as well. As for their memory, this is common with a chart ruled by air, not necessarily with just having a Gemini Sun. There is no mistake, though, Gemini Sun prefers to keep things light and if they do forget something other’s find important, they were simply thinking of other things- this will be a reoccurring misunderstanding for the Gemini Sun in personal relationships.

Cancer: The Home- Body

Summed Up

Water sign Cancer is intuitive and caring. They are stereo-typically known for being anxious, moody, and passive aggressive.

The Real Story

Cancer Suns have gotten a real bad reputation. It seems like all people have to remark on is their domestic and moody ways but really, you’ve got to give Cancer some credit. This sign is the Cardinal quality of the Water element, therefore, they are the leaders in all that involves channeling, intuition, and clairvoyance. Even if a Cancer Sun isn’t psychic, they have a deep vibrational energy that is underlying and strong to those who can see the sixth sense. To explain their need for home- Cancer Sun is nostalgic and feels deeply for childhood- they know that these roots color patterns in the future, as well as the ability to let love in.

Leo: The Melodramatic Performer

Summed Up

Fire sign Leo is proud and dignified. They are stereo-typically known for their gaudy-attire, attention-seeking, and leadership.

The Real Story

It’s not entirely false that the Leo Sun isn’t a little showy but there’s more to them that meets the eye. Sure they boast and brag but their self-confidence is contagious. Others feel important around them. Leo Sun believes in bravery and heroism. Their message is true and they commend others for their strength. SO yes- they can be dramatic in relevance to the rest of us but they believe in what they preach and in what they create.

Virgo: The Health Nut

Summed Up

Earth sign Virgo is hardworking and self-aware. They are stereo-typically known for their modesty, critical minds, organization, and health consciousness.

The Real Story

In modern times Virgo Suns have prevailed against these crude conceptions. They are now becoming known for their charm, independence, and common sense. The health concerns, however, stem from a sensitive digestive system, (this sign rules the intestines), which occurs mostly only in 1st and 2nd decan Virgos, (about from August 22-23 to September 10-12). This doesn’t always mean they are health nuts but many may decide to remove meat or dairy from their diets in later life if it starts to become a problem.

Libra: Superficial

Summed Up

Air sign Libra is harmonious and they like to weigh things out and compare/contrast. They are stereo-typically known for their love of beauty, justice-seeking, and seeing only what’s on the surface.

The Real Story

I believe Libran Suns to be misunderstood. They are idealists* and in an attempt to rid the world of filth they only cover it with smoke and mirrors. Without Libras there would be far less beauty in the world, justice, and the fairy tale of love and companionship would be all but carnal desires. I don’t think it should be viewed as “superficial” but more of a subtle tenacity in bringing beauty and harmony to the world through their own reflection and gestures.

Scorpio: Possessive & Intense

Summed Up

Water sign Scorpio is dissecting and reflective. They are stereo-typically known for being hypnotic, intense and especially possessive.

The Real Story

Scorpio is a very easy sign to pick out of a crowd- they seem determined and ready to defend themselves. This sign’s neighbors are Libra and Sagittarius- both considerably lighter than Scorpio.

*If you have Mercury in a different sign than Scorpio, your mind will not hold the brilliant dissecting qualities this sign has to offer and you’ll typically be much lighter in spirit.

Scorpio Suns seem synonymous with mystery and what is hidden. Past experiences have conditioned them to be untrustworthy. The possessiveness is simply misunderstood. Scorpio does not wish to own anyone they just wish to have another’s loyalty.

Sagittarius: Overly Frank & Blindly Optimistic

Summed Up

Fire sign Sagittarius is philosophical and freedom-loving. They are stereo-typically known for being sarcastic, blunt, and unrealistically optimistic.

The Real Story

Sagittarius Suns are the philosophers of the Zodiac. They could go for days on end metaphysically opening up all the doors and possibilities. Sagittarius as a character has a trust within the universe that is misunderstood to most. This optimism may get them into strange situations and will probably make them many new friends. I wouldn’t say they are completely blind to negativity and cynicism- they’re just indifferent to it.

Capricorn: The Old Goat

Summed Up

Earth sign Capricorn is ambitious and self-reliant. They are stereo-typically known for being set in their ways, slow-moving, and cynical.

The Real Story

The Sun set dead in the winter, in Capricorn, gets a reputation for being a little boring. Capricorn Suns are focused on career and, in this, they range from being very ambitious to a crazed workaholic. People sometimes think that Capricorn isn’t listening to them- it seems that this person is thinking of better times- the “good ol’ days” and not open to new suggestions. The truth of the matter is, Capricorn has fought for the things that they have earned and feel that others should work just as hard to earn what they get in life- they have a little trouble in seeing any short-cuts to success just for this reason. All earth signs, (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn), are potential geniuses with materials and earthly values, however, so anyone with a little earth in their charts are bound to be misread for “materialistic” or “boring”.

Aquarius: Highly Impersonal

Summed Up

Air sign Aquarius is friendly and a humanitarian. They are stereo-typically known for being people watchers, eccentric, and personally cold.

The Real Story

It may sound a little strange- when people think of Aquarius Sun they think of a person who is kind and generous. Aquarians typically do well with large groups and shy away from one-on-one conversation. Personally, Aquarius Sun can be described as cold and intellectual. Aquarius is perhaps the most misunderstood of all the signs. They observe people and learn mannerisms of them so when they do get up close and personal, their intellectual theories intercept their emotional reactions. So, yes, everyone wants a quirky Aquarius friend but they must remember they are not so easy to catch.

Pisces: Easy to Confuse and Spacey

Summed Up

Water sign Pisces is imaginative and sympathetic. They are stereo-typically known for being impressionable, spacey, and easily amused.

The Real Story

As the last sign of the Zodiac cycle, Pisces is typically thought to be the wisest but many people think them to be a little air-headed. They often have fantastic imaginations and escape the “real” world to retreat to their day-dream world. They’re easily forgiving and this is seen as a weakness- it’s seen as naivety instead of compassion. Why does Pisces get such a bad reputation? Because most feel they don’t need to explain themselves- they are what they are, it is what it is, and this, too, shall pass.

The Truth About Dental Implants

There are three (not serious) main questions, when you understand that you need a dental implant procedure:

1. How much dental implant cost?
2. What are main dental implant prices?
3. Can I get free dental implant? Actually, dentures implant procedure is one of the most expensive things you can do at dentist office.

In the past, dentists would try to keep or replace teeth with treatments such as root canals, bridges, and fixed or removable dentures. Unfortunately, a significant number of root canal treated teeth fail, bridges require that healthy adjunct teeth be cut down and removable dentures can often be unstable and require the use of sticky adhesives. Dental implants are a solution to these problems, and many of the concerns associated with natural teeth are eliminated, including dental decay.

A Single-Tooth Implant

Single-tooth implants can be used in people who are missing one or more teeth. An tooth implant is surgically placed in an opening that is made by your dentist in the jawbone. After the implant integrates (attaches) to your bone, it acts as a new "root" for the crown that will be replacing your missing tooth. A crown, which is made to look like natural tooth, is attached to the implant and fills the space left in the mouth by the missing tooth.

For this procedure to work, there must be enough bone in the jaw, and the bone has to be strong enough to hold and support the tooth implant. If there is not enough bone, be may need to be added with a procedure called bone augmentation. In addition, natural teeth and supporting tissues near where the implant will be placed must be in good health.

There are plenty of reasons to replace a missing tooth. A gap between your teeth, if obvious when you smile or speak, is a cosmetic concern.

Depending on their location, some missing teeth may affect your speech. A missing molar might not be noticeable when you talk or smile, but its absence can affect chewing.

When a tooth is missing, the biting force on the remaining teeth begins to change. As the bite changes to compensate for the lost tooth, there is a risk of extra pressure on and discomfort in the jaw joints. If a missing tooth is not replaced, the surrounding teeth can shift. Harmful plaque and tartar can collect in new hard-to-reach places created by the transformation teeth. Over time, this may lead to tooth decay and periodontal disease.

What is a Dental Implant?

A dental implant is one option for replacing a tooth. Implants are manufactured devices that are placed surgically in the upper or lower jaw, where they function as anchors for replacement teeth. Implants are made of titanium and other materials that are compatible with the human body.

An implant-restored tooth consists of several parts.

  • The implant , which is made of titanium, is placed in the upper or lower jawbone.
  • The abutment can be made of titanium, gold or porcelain. It is attached to the implant with a screw. This part connects the implant to the crown.
  • The restoration (the part that looks like a tooth) is a crown, usually made of porcelain fused to a metal alloy (PFM), but also could be an all-metal or all-porcelain crown. The crown is attached either to the abutment or directly to the implant. It can be screwed or cemented onto the abutment. If the crown is screwed to the abutment, the screw hole will be covered with recycled material such as tooth-colored filling material (composite).

An implant looks and feels like a natural tooth. It fits securely when you chew and speak. A single-tooth implant is a free-standing unit and does not involve treatment to the adjunct teeth. With a dental implant, the surrounding teeth can remain untouched if they are healthy, and their strength and integrity may be maintained. The implant can stabilize your bite and help prevent problems with the jaw.

What Happens During the Tooth Implant Procedure?

Treatment generally is a three-part process that takes several months. Your dentist may provide the treatment, or you may be referred to a specialist – such as a periodontist, a prosthodontistor an oral and maxillofacial surgeon – for all or part of the treatment.

In the first step, the dentist surgically places the implant in the jaw, with the top of the implant slightly above the top of the bone. A screw is inserted into the implant to prevent gum tissue and other debris from entering.

The gum then is secured over the implant, where it will remain covered for approximately three to six months while the implant fuses with the bone, a process called "Osseo integration." There may be some swapping and / or tenderness for a few days after The surgery, so pain medication usually is prescribed to alleviate the discomfort. A diet of soft foods, cold foods and warm soup often is recommended during the healing process.

In the second step, the implant is unaccompanied and the dentist attaches an extension, called a "post," to the implant. The gum tissue is allowed to heal around the post. Once healing is complete, the implant and post will serve as the foundation for the new tooth.

In the final step, the dentist makes a custom artificial tooth, called a "dental crown," of a size, shape, color and fit that will blend with the other teeth. Once completed, the crown is attached to the implant post.

And now, maybe most important part.

We'll try to answer if dental implants are good choice for you.

  • If you are missing a tooth, or teeth you could have an ideal candidate for implants, especially if your smile reveals missing teeth!
  • If you are uncomfortable with the way your dentitions fit. Loose dentures can cause sore gums because of friction or food trapped under the bridgework.
  • Loose teeth from gum disease may need support.
  • Dental implants can give you a new base to support new teeth to function and feel like natural teeth.

In these instances, dental implants can help.

Success and failure rates for dental implant procedure.

Dental implant success is related to operator skill, quality and quantity of the bone available at the site, and also to the patient's oral hygiene. Various studies have found the 5 year success rate of implants to be between 75-95%. Patients who smoke experience significantly poorer success rates.

Failure of a dental implant is usually related to failure to osseointegrate correctly. A dental implant is considered to be a failure if it is lost, mobile or shows peri-implant bone loss of greater than one mm in the first year after implanting and greater than 0.2mm a year after that.

Dental implants are not susceptible to dental caries but they can develop a periodontal condition called peri-implantitis where correct oral hygiene routines have not been followed. Risk of failure is increased in smokers. For this reason implants are regularly placed only after a patient has stopped smoking as the treatment is very expensive. More rarely, an implant may fail because of poor positioning at the time of surgery, or may be overloaded initially causing failure to integrate.

Does it very hurt to have dental implants placed?

The actual procedure to surgically place a dental implant is done under local anesthesia and is generally not at all painful. When the anesthesia wears off about three or four hours later, you might expect some discomfort. The level of discomfort is quite different from patient to patient, but most patients do not have significant problems.

In cases where there is prolonged pain, you should see your dentist right away. Prolonged pain is not a good sign with dental implants and although it does not always mean failure, the cause of the pain should be determined as soon as possible. If an implant is not properly integrating into the abnormal bone or if an infection develops, the implant may have to be removed.

What are the alternatives to implants?

The alternatives to implants are dentures or bridges. On the other hand, you may choose to simply accept the space where a tooth is missing.

A denture usually includes a metal and / or plastic base carrying plastic or porcelain artificial teeth. It is a removable replacement for a few missing teeth (partial denture) or a whole set of teeth (complete dentures). Dentures are very common but they can become loose, making it difficult to eat and speak. One or more implants can be fitted to help support and retain a denture.

A bridge consistants of artificial teeth cemented onto adjacent natural teeth. If a fixed bridge were to be used, your dentist would cut down the adjunct teeth (the second molar and the second bicuspid) and fit a three unit fixed bridge over those two teeth.

The missing tooth would be called a pontic and it would have been effectively replaced by the three unit bridge. If your dentist were to use an implant with a crown on it, he would place an implant in the site of the original first molar. He could do this immediately or at some date after the first molar was removed. There is no time limit here. The implant will take about 3 months to connect with the bone and then at that time, your dentist can construct a single crown on the implant to replace the missing first molar.

The cost of one of these procedures varies from office to office, but a three unit fixed bridge costs about the same as an implant and a crown. The actual decision to do one over the other rests with you and your dentist. One technique is not inherently better than the other and each depends upon how you present and your dentist's skills.

How much dental implant cost?

There are no established fees, of course, dental implant procedures that can start from $ 800 ( dental tourism countries ) to $ 4,000, but it can go beyond.