How to Distress Furniture – Step by Step Guide

For a unique look, many homeowners are mixing distressed furniture with current modern styles.

Before you go throwing away your old dining room or bedroom sets, reconsider by refinishing it. Distressed furniture can be very expensive to buy so why not create it yourself with a little imagination and some TLC. This step by step guide will give you some helpful tips that the pros use when distressing furniture.

1. Sand: Sand down the finish on your piece so the primer/paint has something to adhere to. Use medium/fine grit sandpaper for this.

2. Rough up surface: Take a few tools (hammer, screw driver, chain, etc.) and rough up the surface of the piece. This is left up to your discretion of how distressed you want to make the furniture. The more you rough up the surface the more aged the piece appears.

3.Prime: Use a good quality white primer and give the piece of furniture a thin coat. After the piece has dried, follow up with a light sanding.

4. Top coat: Pick a top coat that complements the room. If you want to stay neutral, then go with whites/off whites. Apply two even coats of this top coat. Sometimes, homeowners will request a crackle finish in which the top coat appears as if the paint has dried and is starting to chip away. For a crackle finish read the steps below:

a. Follow steps 1-3.

b. Optional Base coat: Get Creative!! If you do not want the piece to show white crackle from primer coat, then now is the time to be creative. You can apply a different base coat which will show behind the top coat when the crackle takes effect.

c. Apply crackle glaze where you want the top coat to crackle. Allow to dry according to directions on package. This is usually a clear glaze sold at your local home center.

d. Top Coat: Apply top coat evenly (try not to over brush which may cause paint to drag). This top coat should be a different shade then the primer/base coat to make the crackle stand out.

e. Continue the follow steps below.

5. Optional Glaze coat: After the piece has thoroughly dried, apply a glaze over the entire piece. This step is optional but recommended. This glaze (usually dark brown/grey) when applied, highlights all of the roughed up areas (step 2) and really brings out the details in the piece. The best way to apply the glaze, is with a brush and then wipe off the excess with a rag. Wipe with even pressure (in one direction).

6. Apply a seal coat: Water based Poly works good for this. Apply 2-3 thin coats of this product according to the manufacturer’s recommendation and do not forget to sand in between coats. This step will protect all of your hard work.

Now step back and enjoy your newly antiqued furniture. You will be amazed at the results and how quick and easy you have changed the look of your room. Take your time & most importantly be creative with this!!

Preparing For an MMA Fight – The Week Before

When preparing for an MMA fight with just one week to go, the emphasis has to be on readjustment, rehabilitation, and mental readiness.

Readjustment

Depending on the training regime implemented leading up to the fight, the week before the contest is the time to undo any routines that were in place that may affect your performance on the night of the fight. This may involve flying out to the host country if not already there, although I think one week is too short a time to adjust to some of the more extreme time zone differences.

Another adjustment that has to be made, is your own natural body clock. If you have been training during the morning and afternoons but your fight is going to be at night, possibly quite late into the evening depending on the duration of the preceding contests, then you will have to start getting up later each day in preparation for this .

You may need to make some final readjustments to your weight too in the week before. Nowadays that is done through sitting in a steam room on and off for a few hours to shed water from the body.

Rehabilitation

The week before an MMA fight is the time to make amends for all the high intensity training and sparring that would have taken a toll on your muscles and joints. You want to enter into the contest completely fresh and rested.

An interesting reminder from history here is that prior to breaking the sub 4 minute mile record, Roger Bannister rested the complete week without any training whatsoever. For an MMA fighter this could be the time for chiropractic massage, stretching and mobility work and technique honing. It will probably be a good idea to lay off intense weight training and even strenuous conditioning work.

Mental readiness

If you have not already been doing so, the seven days leading up to the contest should allow you the time to concentrate on tactics by watching videos of your opponent and also yourself to highlight any weaknesses and strategies yet to perfect.

It is also time to confront any fears and the reasons why you want to fight in the first place. You need to remember why you fight and what motivates you to win. Several fighters nowadays employ the services of sports psychologists to overcome mental roadblocks to their progress.

When to Switch Car Insurance Companies

Car insurance is expensive. Many drivers spend two thousand dollars or more a year to insure the family vehicles. Drivers should review their auto insurance rates on at least an annual basis. Insurance shopping may not be as enjoyable as other types of shopping, but it can save drivers hundreds of dollars a year.

Insurance rates fluctuate constantly as insurance companies take a variety of factors into account when calculating rates. Some insurance companies, including many national brands, may charge a driver hundreds of dollars a year more than their competitors. Drivers need to make sure they are getting the best possible rates for the insurance they are paying for.

Auto insurance advertising can be confusing. Many major companies state they can save drivers hundreds of dollars a year on an auto policy. This may be true. A variety of factors affect rates including the amount a car is driven, the drivers’ age, sex, and marital status, a driver’s credit history, the location of residence, the amount of claims and claim fraud where the driver lives, the driver’s record, and the vehicle make and model. Some companies may charge less for liability insurance but more for other types of auto coverage such as Uninsured Motorist or Personal Injury Protection coverage.

Despite the confusion, shopping for auto insurance has never been easier. No longer do drivers have to make an appointment or stop by the local insurance agent’s office to shop for insurance. Many auto insurance companies sell auto insurance directly over the phone. For many, the easiest way to purchase insurance is online. In just a few minutes, a person can compare rate quotes from multiple insurance companies and get the best price.

Switching auto insurance companies is easy. Normally all a driver needs to do is send written notice of cancellation with the date the policy is to be cancelled. When considering a new insurer, drivers should review company ratings and talk to friends and family.

Drivers need to ensure there is no gap in coverage and their new insurance takes effect immediately upon cancellation of a prior policy. Driving without insurance is against the law in nearly every state and can put a driver in serious financial jeopardy. Switching insurance companies at the time of your renewal is an easy time to make the transition.

What is Cognitive Dementia?

Cognitive dementia can be confusing and scary. Dementia can cause you to lose your freedom and independence. It can cause you to become a burden to your children or other loved ones.

As you read, you will find out the facts about cognitive dementia. You will discover different types and their causes. You may be amazed to find there are types of cognitive dementia that are reversible. You may well be pleasantly surprised to find that you may be able to delay or avoid dementia altogether!

What is Cognitive Dementia?

Cognitive dementia is the loss of mental ability. The loss of the ability to think, remember and reason. To earn the label of dementia, the mental loss must get in the way of carrying out day-to-day activities. The reduced ability to fulfill day-to-day events must last for more than six months.

Cognitive dementia is not a disease. It is a group of symptoms. These symptoms would go along with certain diseases or conditions. Signs of dementia might also include changes in mood, personality, and behavior.

Cognitive dementia results when a number of factors affect parts of the brain. These factors can include infections, diseases, or aging. The parts of the brain involved with dementia with examples are:

  • Learning. Trouble learning a new kitchen appliance.
  • Memory. Trouble remembering where you lived the past few years.
  • Decision-making. Not able to make what used to be simple decisions.
  • Language. Pausing to find words in the middle of a sentence.

What Are the Types of Cognitive Dementia?

There are two groups of cognitive dementia. The group depends on what part of the brain is affected:

Cortical dementias.

The cerebral cortex is changed. The cerebral cortex is the outer layers of the brain. It has a vital role in cognitive processes like memory and speech. Patients with cortical dementia usually have severe memory damage. These patients also cannot recall words and cannot grasp common speech. This is aphasia. Alzheimer’s and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease are two forms of cortical dementia.

Sub-cortical dementias.

Beneath the cortex is affected. These patients show changes in their personality and attention span. Their thinking slows down. They may not show the memory loss and language hardships as with cortical dementias. Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and AIDS dementia complex are examples of sub-cortical dementias. There are cases where both parts of the brain are affected. One case is with multi-infarct dementia.

What are Some of the Causes of Cognitive Dementia?

The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease causes 50 to 70 percent of all dementia.

The most common causes of cognitive dementia include:

  • Degenerative neurological diseases. These include Alzheimer’s, dementia with Lewy Bodies, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s.
  • Blood-flow (vascular) disorders. Including multiple-infarct dementia, which is caused by multiple strokes in the brain.
  • Infections that affect the central nervous system. These consist of HIV dementia complex and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
  • Chronic drug use.
  • Depression.
  • Certain types of hydrocephalus. This is a buildup of fluid in the brain. The fluid build up can result from irregularities in development, infections, injury, or brain tumors.
  • Normal aging.

How Common is Cognitive Dementia?

Cognitive dementia develops mostly in elderly people. It has always been common. In recent times, it’s even more common in the elderly. One reason is that we are living longer. A recent forecast is that the numbers of dementia cases will double every twenty years.

Age-related cognitive dementia starts around age 35. It develops so slowly that it is not noticed until it affects day-to-day activities. This usually happens around age 65.

About 5 to 8 percent of all people over 65 have some form of dementia. This number doubles every five years above age 65. It’s estimated that as many as half of people 85 or older suffer from dementia.

Some researchers think that half of people over age 80 will get Alzheimer’s disease.

Which Causes of Cognitive Dementia Can be Reversed?

Most thought of cognitive dementia as permanent. Especially when caused by disease or injury. However, within the past few years, ongoing research shows that this may not always be the case. If done right, brain training can create new links and re-establish old ones. There are no guarantees. However, there is hope.

Cognitive dementia may also be reversible if caused by:

  • Aging.
  • Drugs.
  • Alcohol.
  • Depression.
  • Vitamin imbalances.
  • Hormone imbalances.

Treating causes can partly cure dementia. Some treatments may even cure it completely. For example, drug users can treat their habit to undo dementia. You can have tumors removed, etc.

How Can I Prevent Cognitive Dementia?

Researchers believe that non-genetic causes of cognitive dementia are preventable. Lifestyle factors like diet and exercise make a difference.

The biggest factor is how you use your brain. If you do not use it, you lose it. Social interaction is very important for keeping the brain active. Brain training games are another way to keep the brain engaged. Research is showing that if you play the right games or exercises, you may be able to eliminate dementia.

Any brain training will do you good, like crossword puzzles. However, there has not been enough research done. Researchers cannot say for sure what benefit these games will provide.

Nokia 6650 – The Most Elegant Smart Phone Ever Launched by the Company

Design of the keypad

Underneath the display, some black area is there which are called touch sensitive keys. These keys are required to operate the restricted functions that can be done through the exterior of the handset. The three keys are employed for the scrolling purpose and there is also a volume controlling key on the left side of the mobile phone. Just below these keys, there is a speaker which is hardly noticed by the user. Then comes the T- mobile logo carved in the metal sheath of the handset with a Nokia logo. Above the display, two mega pixels camera is located with LED flash which works only when the clamshell is opened. The 6650's pivot opens on about 160 degrees in such a way that back and the brushed metal frontage meeting sophisticatedly on the reverse of the unit. The key feel is good and very good alternative for those with thick fingers. The keys for numbers 2,5,8,0 are designed in a very attractive fashion and are different from others keys.

Memory specifications

The internal memory supported is of 30 MB. The handset supports access to music, profiles, calendar and many more and the file formats supported by it are mp3, AAC, eAAC + and WMA. The music player in the handset along with radio and RealOne Player is also supported for great music experience. The mobile has memory cards up to 8 GB cards which make excellent storage features. The basic colors for the phone include silver and black.

Messaging Options in the Mobile

The handset has an excellent SMS, MMS and Internet surfing feature including E-mail facility. The browser used for this is WAP2.0 / XHTML.

Battery details

This phone employs standard battery named LI-on 1500 mAh (BP-4L); in standby mode the battery lasts for 350 hours and for talk time the battery lasts for six hours.

Now-a-days Nokia is planning to introduce the new multimedia version of Nokia 6650 with AT & T wireless. The operating system supported by it is Symbian 60 and it will include more integrated mobile services like AT & T navigator, FM Radio and AT & T mobile music. The Bluetooth used by this new multimedia version of 6650 is Bluetooth2.0 + EDR support.

Ways to Increase the Value of A Commercial Building And Why It's Important

When you buy a piece of commercial real estate, one of the first things on your mind should be the most effective way to increase its value. The value of a piece of property is used by banks and lenders to decide how much to lend and what terms to offer. Value is also an important factor in refinancing. When buying or selling, it's vital that a building be at its optimal value, for as little cost to the owner as possible.

The value of a commercial building to its owner is not calculated only as its resale price. The difference between the money laid out to purchase or maintain the building and the rent received is also a consideration. When you examine your finances, pay attention to this difference, referred to as the capitalization or CAP rate. Ordinarily, this number ranges between three and ten percent.

The value of your property can be figured via the "Income Valuation" formula: Value = NOI (Net Operating Income) / CAP rate. The NOI = Annual Gross Income – Annual Operating Expenses. If one can increase the annual income of your property, or decrease the annual expenditures it requires, value improves. An astute owner of a commercial property will take advantage of ways to increase income or reduce expenses whenever possible.

One way to increase the income taken in on a property is to raise rents. However, a building must be in a condition to justify that rent increase. Interior and exterior physical improvements, such as painting, drainage repair, and grounds care can greatly improve a building's value. Conversion of the building to a higher and better use can also help to justify a rent increase. For instance, a warehouse, once converted to loft apartments, commands higher rents than it did when used for storage.

Often overlooked is the value of eliminating items on which maintenance has long been deferred. Renovating HVAC systems, plumbing, and roofing are methods that can be used not only to increase value for the purpose of obtaining higher rents, but also to decrease expenses for the owner. Greater energy efficiency and fewer repair bills can quickly pay for the cost of improvements.

Submetering of utilities is another way that commercial building owners can recoup some of their expenditures, thus decreasing their operating expenses. Simply put, submetering is a system that allows the building owner to bill tenants individually for utility usage. One place that this can help owners recover cost is on the water bill. If the building's owner pays that bill, and a faucet is leaking, it could cost over a hundred dollars per year. By submetering, owners are able to return that cost to the tenant. This makes tenants responsible for their own utility usage, making them more conscious of conservation.

A World War I Soldier’s Photo Album – Gas, Guts and Eternal Glory?

Grandpa collected a series of 350 or so photos, reprints and postcards from World War I when he was an American soldier. For some reason he wanted to save all the pictures and they fill almost two albums. Maybe it was knowing that one day someone like me would look at the pictures and reflect on the true nature of war. Who knows. But whatever his reasons I’m glad he saved them. The effect of looking at the albums is sobering.

Not much glory there in Grandpa’s photo. He looked like he could have been any young kid from any state. Or any country for that matter. It was his soldier’s photo album and World War I was the event of his life. It was like that for many that survived.

The war ended in 1918 and grandpa died in 1960. Almost everyone that fought in that great war is now dead. That much I do know. The first album is full of soldier buddy shots and shots from towns and cities in Europe, mostly France. The pictures also include numerous shots of the battlefields at Rheims and Belleau Wood, two of the war’s bloodiest battle sites.

The second album is almost entirely battlefield scenes.

It was a war not fought in the air or sea but on land and in the trenches. Funny how ‘in the trenches’ is still with us today. World War I will be remembered as the last trench warfare or the last war where one could literally see the whites of the enemy’s eyes, though maybe a couple of hundred yards away. One side charged and would capture the other side’s trench. The other side would make a hasty retreat and leave everything behind, including their dead and wounded. After a while they would counterattack.Day after day. Week after week. Month after month.

The casualty rate was off the charts. The battlefields were often littered with the dead as they did not have time to bury them. And it was not safe outside the trenches. There is a photo of a soldier in a trench behind barbed wire. The barbed wire was supposed to help stop the other side from charging right into your trench. He is barely visible behind the tangle of barbed wire.

The constant attacks, the poison gas, the bombardments; it all added up to a trip to hell. Not much to smile about. The face is not real clear behind the barbed wire but it’s apparent he is not smiling.

The Germans looked so much like us. How long does it take a corpse to become a bare skeleton? I imagine somewhere a German is looking at a similar album and remarking how they ‘look so much like us — how long does it take the meat on a head to rot and leave just a skull?’

In between the trenches was ‘no man’s land’ or the area that no one controlled. There are numerous photos of no man’s land and dead soldiers and mostly destroyed countryside. Aerial shots show it wasn’t just no man’s land that was leveled, much of the surrounding countryside in a battle was also destroyed.

It was standard military strategy to bombard a trench for days to loosen it up and demoralize the troops before charging. The intent was to destroy morale but it also destroyed most of the surrounding landscape. Charging was often done by letting out a yell, standing up and running straight for the enemy trenches, just like it had been done for centuries.

Horses were used to pull wagons and artillery. There is a photo of U.S. troops headed to battle pulling their artillery with horses. A lot of horses also died. One photo shows a dead horse that was blown up into a tree.

Supposedly WWI was the last war that poison gas was allowed. Oddly enough the countries that used mega bombs and gargantuan artillery felt gas was too deadly so it was outlawed by treaty. I’m not sure if technically it is more humane to kill by bullet or by gas. As a result only renegades like Saddam Hussein use poison gas.

The real problem was poison gas was heavier than air so it would sink into the trenches. If a gas canister filled your trench the best defense was to get out and of course right into the line of fire from enemy snipers. That was part of the idea; your choice, whiff of gas or a bullet through the head.

Potent gases like chlorine gas and mustard gas would either burn the lungs out or instantly destroy the central nervous system. One whiff and it was over.

After the war the world was mad so it made Germany pay war reparations and the German economy collapsed. In the early 1920’s inflation wiped out any hopes of an economic recovery and the conditions were set for Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party to take their turn. And they did.

I felt a bit queasy after viewing all the photographed carnage especially knowing this wasn’t a Hollywood set. No Charlie Chaplin or Tom Mix in these pictures. Just the boys next door, ma’am. And the boys next door from another country, too. Of course WWI did not end all wars and there have been a number of bad ones since. Or rather it might be more correct to say that there have been no good wars since. Maybe.

It all depends on our perspectives and what we learned from Grandpa’s war.

Fixing Your Plastic Gas Tank

For who own the private vehicle, the gas tank probably becomes the important part of your vehicle. The gas tank has the function to store the additional fuel for your car. When you are traveling, you can have the additional fuel just in case if you do not make the gas station.

The tank can be made from the metal or the plastic material. Many people prefer to choose the plastic gas tank since it lasts longer than metal without any risk. The plastic gas tank is more popular because it has the lightweight and cost less expensive than metal gas tank. Both of the metal and plastic gas tanks can last for long time. However, the metal tank has the possibility to experience rust, corrosion, and breakage problems. On the other hand, the plastic tank will not face those possibilities and it is easy for you to assembly it.

If your tank faces the problems like holes, you do not need to buy the new one. Even though it is not very expensive, but why do you need to spend your money for the new one if you can repair it for free at home.

Before you start to fix it, it is better for you to prepare the tools like soldering iron, tweezers, wire cutters, plastic pieces, and spoon heat gun. After getting the tools, you should empty your gas tank. Clean the tank carefully. You should not leave any fuel in the tank because it has the potential to ignite the fire.

The next step is cutting the damaged area using the wire cutters. You should make sure that you cut enough part to fix the tank. Put the plastic pieces on the metal surface and heat them until they are elastic. After that, use the heat gun to the damaged areas.

After it gets softer, you can stick the transparent plastic on it. Use the tweezers to hold the plastic sheet and stick them to the affected area. Do not forget to smooth the smooth plastic with soldering iron. You should run the flat surface of the soldering iron on the plastic sheet's surface. You can repeat the steps to the damaged area. It is better for you to do the step until the entire tank looks alike. You can also use the spoon or spatula to spread the plastic sheet on the surface area.

Identity & Access Management in the Cloud

Last week I was asked to give a presentation at the IBM Tivoli User Group on Identity & Access Management In The Cloud to IBM employees, IBM Business Partners and customers of IBM Tivoli Security products. I soon realised that my first problem was going to be defining The Cloud. Not everyone I spoke to in advance of the presentation knew what The Cloud was!

So What Is The Cloud?

The Cloud seems to be a term bandied about all too readily these days and for many people it merely represents everything that happens on the Internet. Others, however, are a little more strict with their definition:


“For me, cloud computing is a commercial extension of utility computing that enables scalable, elastic, highly available deployment of software applications while minimizing the level of detailed interaction with the underlying technology stack itself.”

“Computing on tap – you get what you want literally from a socket in the wall.”

“Cloud computing is just a virtual datacenter.”

Wikipedia, naturally, has its own definition.


Cloud computing is Internet based development and use of computer technology. In concept, it is a paradigm shift whereby details are abstracted from the users who no longer need knowledge of, expertise in, or control over the technology infrastructure “in the cloud” that supports them.

Of course, there are different levels of computing that a provider in the Cloud can offer. The usage of a particular software application (eg Google Docs) is just one such offering. Another would be akin to a software development platform (think Google App Engine, Microsoft Azure and Salesforce’s force.com). Then, of course, there are the raw infrastructure services – servers provisioned “on-tap” for end-user usage (eg Amazon Ec2).

We are probably all users of Cloud services if we think about it. A quick look inside my Password Safe vault reveals almost 300 different User ID & Password combinations for services on the net including:

  • Blogger
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Docs
  • Gmail
  • Screenr
  • ChartGo

The Enterprise Model

While it is easy to see how personal usage of Cloud applications has grown over recent years, it may come more of a surprise to learn how the Enterprise is adopting Cloud usage.

According to EDL Consulting, 38% of enterprises will be using a SaaS based eMail service by December 2010. Incisive Media report that 12% of Financial Services firms have already adopted SaaS, mainly in the CRM, ERP & HR fields. And our friends at Gartner reckon that one-third of ALL new software will be delivered via the SaaS model by 2010.

My guess? SaaS is already happening in the enterprise. It is here and it is here to stay.

With any change to the enterprise operating model there will be implications – some real and, just as critical, some perceived.

In the Perceived Risks category, I’d place risks such as loss of control; storing business critical data in the Cloud; reliability of the Cloud provider; longevity of the Cloud provider. Of course, these are only perceived risks. Who is to say that storing business critical data in the Cloud is any less risky that storing in the enterprise’s own data centre? There may be different attack vectors that need to be mitigated against, but that doesn’t mean the data is any less secure, does it? And who says the enterprise has to lose control!

Real risks, however, would include things like the proliferation of employee identities across multiple providers; compliance to company policies; the new attack vectors (already described); privacy management; the legislative impact of data storage locations; and, of course, user management!

Cloud Standards

As with any new IT delivery methodology, a raft of “standards” seem to appear. This is great as long as there is wide-spread adoption of the standards and the big suppliers can settle on a specific standard. Thanks goodness for:

  • The Open Cloud Manifesto (http://www.opencloudmanifesto.org/)
  • The Cloud Security Alliance (http://www.cloudsecurityalliance.org/)

These guys, at least, are attempting to address the standards issue and I am particularly pleased to see CSA’s Domain 13 on Identity & Access Management insisting on the use of SAML, WS-Federation and Liberty ID-FF.

Access Control

And on that point, the various Cloud providers should be congratulated on their adoption of security federation. Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) has been around for over 6 years now and is an excellent way of providing a Single Sign On solution across the enterprise firewall. OpenID, according to Kim Cameron, is now supported by 50,000 sites and 500 million people have an OpenID (even if the majority don’t realise it!)

The problem, historically, has been the problem of identity ownership. All major providers want to be the Identity Provider in the “federation” and Relying Parties were few and far between. Thankfully, there has been a marked shift in this stance over the last 12 months (as Kim Cameron’s figures support).

Then there are the “brokers”. Those companies designed to make the “federation” process a lot less painful. The idea is that a single-authentication to the broker will allow wider access to the SaaS community.

Symplified and Ping Identity seem to be the thought leaders in this space and their marketing blurb comes across as comprehensive and impressive. They certainly tick the boxes marked “Speed To Market” and “Usability” but again those perceived risks may be troublesome for the wary enterprise. The “Keys To The Kingdom” issue rears its ugly head once more!

Identity Management

SPML is to identity management as SAML is to access management. Right? Well, almost. Service Provisioning Markup Language (SPML) was first ratified in October 2003 with v2.0 ratified in April 2006. My guess? We need another round of ratification! Let’s examine the evidence. Who is currently using it? A Google search returns precious little. Google Apps uses proprietary APIs. Salesforce uses proprietary APIs. Zoho uses proprietary APIs. What is the point of a standard if nobody uses it?

Compliance & Audit

Apparently, forty times more information will be generated during 2009 than during 2008 AND the “digital universe” will be ten times bigger in 2011 than it was in 2006! Those are staggering figures, aren’t they? And the bulk of that data will be quite unstructured – like this blog or my tweets!

The need for auditing the information we put out into the digital universe is greater than ever but there is no standards based approach to Compliance & Audit in the Cloud!

Service Providers are the current custodians of the Compliance & Audit process and will likely continue to do so for the time being. Actually, the Service Providers are quite good at this as they already have to comply with many different regulations across many different legislative jurisdictions. Typically, however, they present Compliance & Audit dashboards tailored to vertical markets only.

It’s understandable, I guess, that for a multi-tenancy service there will be complications separating out relevant data for the enterprise compliance check.

Moving To The Cloud

There are providers out there who claim to be capable of providing an Identity Management as a Service (IDaaS) which sounds great, doesn’t it? Take away all that pain of delivering an enterprise robust IdM solution? In practice, however, it works well for enterprises who operate purely in the Cloud. These solutions already understand the provisioning requirements of the big SaaS operators. What they can’t do quite as well, though, is the provisioning back into our enterprise systems! It’s not enough to assume that an enterprise runs everything from their Active Directory instance, after all. Also, we have to remember that using an IDaaS is akin to giving away the “Keys To The Kingdom”. Remember our perceived risks?

An alternative is to move the enterprise IdM solution into the Cloud. Existing installations of IBM Tivoli Identity Manager or Sun Identity Manager or {insert your favourite vendor here} Identity Manager could be moved to the cloud using the IaaS model – Amazon EC2. The investment in existing solutions would be retained with the added benefit of scalability, flexibility and cost-reduction. Is this a model that can be adopted easily? Most certainly, as long as the enterprise in question can get its head around the notion of moving the “Keys To The Kingdom” beyond its firewall.

Conclusion

The next generation of user is already web-aware – SaaS is here to stay – and SSO is finally within our grasp with only a handful of big players dragging their heels when it comes to implementing standards such as SAML v2.0. It was also intriguing to play with Chrome OS last week (albeit an early prototype version). Integrating desktop sign on with the web just tightens things that bit further (in a Google way, of course).

Provisioning (whether it is Just-In-Time or Pre-Populated) is still the pain-point. Nobody seems to be using SPML and proprietary APIs abound. Nailing this is going to be critical for mass adoption of SaaS solutions.

While Provisioning is the current pain-point, however, Governance, Risk & Compliance will be the next big-ticket agenda item. The lack of standards and proliferation of point solutions will surely start to hurt. Here, though, I run out of ideas…. for now. Seems to me that there is an opportunity for a thought leader in this space!

Opening a Small Business – Top 7 Steps to Success

Opening a small business is both challenging and rewarding (if you do it right). It takes a lot of planning, organizing and drive. There is no guarantee for business success but certain things you do will increase your opportunity for success.

To-Do List for Opening a Small Business:

1. How do you want to structure your business? Do you want to set up as a sole proprietorship, or in a partnership or do you want to incorporate your company and limit your liability? These are questions you need to answer before you startup your business. Talk to your local government small business agency; they can help you investigate what option best fits you and your business. Before you make your decision, ask for legal advice and tax advice; talk to a business lawyer and a tax accountant.

2. Once you’ve decided what your business structure will be, you will need to create a business plan. First, develop a business plan outline that includes the areas of a plan that are specific to your business or your industry. For example, if you are planning to go into manufacturing you will need to build an operations plan, a new product development plan, your human resources plan (including a workforce plan) and safety checklist plan; include your capital expenditures budget. The objective is to focus your plan on the manufacturing aspects that are unique to your business. Other businesses with an inventory focus, or retail focus, or services focus will need to adapt the plan to be specific to their needs. All businesses will need to include your long term mission and vision statements, your business goals and objectives, a marketing plan, sales plan, business financials plan, exit plan, business continuity plan and the business strategies necessary to be successful.

3. The next step is to do a financial analysis of your business idea and business plan. Can you make a profit (and once you’ve earned a profit, can you maximize your profit) in your business? How long will it take to make a profit? Can you fund your business growth and survive until you make a profit? What are your cash flow needs and projections? Will cash flow management be a struggle? Can you finance the business and survive?

  • Your objective in conducting a business financial analysis for opening a small business is to be realistic. Do not under-estimate your costs and over-estimate your sales. Develop a list of expected startup costs. For example, startup costs might include your legal and accounting costs to set up your business; a business license fee, furniture, computer hardware and software, property insurance; trade-marking your product (if applicable); inventory and/or materials; and more.
  • Once you’ve identified your startup costs, develop a list of your other expenses (from daily expenses to annual expenses). For example, business space rent, your monthly utilities (such as heat, phone, etc.), membership in trade associations, office supplies, contract employees, wages and benefits (including yours if you expect to take a salary out of the business). For simplicity, put all the data into a spreadsheet and verify that you haven’t forgotten anything (check out online examples income statements – they show expenses and revenue).
  • The next step in your financial analysis is to do a sales forecast for the same period as the expenses (usually banks or other lenders want to see a three year plan in annual increments and a monthly cash flow plan for the three years). Make sure to include the assumptions you are using in your sales plan and in your financial plan (for example, interest rates, dollar exchange rates, gross domestic product rates, political environment, and more).
  • Put together a worst case scenario (expenses high, sales low); a best case scenario (expenses low, sales high) and an average case scenario (expenses and sales on target). Test the sensitivity of your projections. What would happen to your financials if you didn’t ‘win’ a large account? What would happen to your financials if your key supplier increased the cost of materials by 12%? Make sure you have a plan to address those issues.
  • Try to find industry information that will support your financial plans and include them in the financial section. For example, talk to your industry’s association and see if they can provide average data for financial ratios, revenues, costs, salaries, benefits, etc. within your industry. Compare that data to your financial plan and see if you are ‘in range’; if you are not, you will need a good explanation for the variance.
  • Run your financials: total your expenses (outgoing) and your sales revenues (incoming). According to your financials, will you lose money or make it? If you are losing money in your plan, how much are you losing? And how much cash do you need to survive before your plan starts showing a profit? Be realistic.

4. Now consider where you are going to get your startup financing from. Are you independently wealthy? Have you won a lottery? No? Then you need to borrow money or find a way to get some cash to startup. Traditional methods of financing a startup business are bank business loans, government loan programs, borrowing from family and friends, selling a share of the business to a partner who will invest in the business, and re-mortgaging your home. Less traditional methods (also known as bootstrapping), are using personal credit cards, selling assets, such as your car, furniture, your house; continuing on in your day job or taking a second job for additional income. If you believe in the business you want to start, you will find a way. Choose the lowest risk, the best value and the lowest cost financing for your business startup. But be realistic; it can be very difficult to do this. If your business cannot succeed or if you over-inflate sales and under-forecast expenses, you will go out of business and likely owe a lot of money to a lot of people.

5. If the decision is to proceed with your plan for opening a small business, and you obtain the necessary financing, then you must now focus on your product or service plan. Define your service or product. What differentiates it from other services or products? Where is the product or service in its life-cycle; in the introductory, growth, mature or declining phase? How will you position your product or service in the market? Develop your service or product plan and then define your marketing mix for your service or product. Focus on the features and benefits of the product or service. Develop your pricing strategy. Develop a strong promotional program. Define how you will get your product or service to the market (ensure that if your product is inventory-based, that you have enough inventory before starting up).

6. Ensure that you plan your workforce needs and hire the employees needed to open your new business and consider the advantages of outsourcing, particularly in the early days of startup when you might not need full time employees.

7. Finally, open your new business and launch your product or service. Use your promotional program to support the launch. Measure your results continually. Talk to customers and potential customers. What do they like or dislike about doing business with you? Is the product or service meeting their needs? If not, why not? Do this research even if the products are flying off the shelves, you want to know what customers are thinking at all times; the good and the bad.

Key-Hole Layout – How to Build a Campfire For Outdoor Camping Cooking

Knowing how to build a campfire for outdoor cooking is just as much about what camp recipes and cookware you will be using, as it is about getting the right tinder and kindling for a roaring blaze. If you are going to be doing more than backpack camping, then you will need a campfire layout that suits the camping cookware you will be using.

If you have the choice of laying out your own design, and are not restricted to a contained fire ring or other pre-made fire enclosure, the key-hole layout gives you the best of both kinds of campfire cooking. It gives you an open flame campfire for skillet and grill cooking, and a ‘hot-coals’ area for slower cooking items like cast iron Dutch oven recipes.

The key-hole layout is shaped just like the name implies. It has a main circular fire area, usually about 2 – 3 feet across, and a smaller protruding “nub” that will be the hot-coals cooking area, usually about 18 inches wide and deep. Combined, these two areas allow you to have direct flame heat over the main campfire and a more controlled heat over the hot coals. It is also recommended that you have a border around this layout, either rocks, logs, or large pieces of firewood, this will keep stray boot toes from getting too close. You can set-up a camping tripod to suspend your cooking pot over the flames, and use the hot coals area for cast iron Dutch oven or griddle and skillet cooking.

The main campfire in the circular area will be used to feed coals and embers to the hot-coals cooking area, so it is best to start with a good-sized flaming campfire. Unlike a campfire built just to sit around and enjoy, where you typically start with a small tee-pee of tinder and slowly add larger fuel to build the fire to the size you want, you know you want a larger fire to generate your hot coals. So for this campfire layout start with a larger tee-pee of tinder and a lot of firewood to get a good “roaring” flame going, this will make the supply of hot coals as the fire settles down and you are ready to start cooking that secret campfire recipe. When the coals and hot embers are ready, rake them out of the main campfire into the smaller hot-coals area. Spread these coals evenly to avoid having hot-spots under your camp griddle or cast iron skillet. The size of the hot-coals area, and the amount of coals needed from your campfire will depend on what campfire meal you are cooking and what piece of camp cookware you will be cooking with. The bed of hot coals can be continually replenished from the main campfire as you cook.

Not only does the key-hole layout give you both open-flame and hot-coals heat sources for cooking, it has another added benefit: when all the camp cooking is done, just toss some more wood into your main campfire circle and you will have the perfect campfire to sit around while enjoying a good cup of coffee, as your camping buddies tell you how delicious that secret campfire recipe was.

How to Apply Feng Shui to Your Office

If you are wondering how to make your office more conducive so that you have a way of relaxing while you work, you should consider applying Feng Shui to your office. Having a Feng Shui office allows you to focus better and even find the balance and harmony in your life. In fact, this ancient art has been known to be very helpful in generating more income and profits for people involved in business.

Feng Shui is studied by many people nowadays. The primary rule of Feng Shui says that there is energy in everything in and around us and if we are able to harness this positive energy well, we will be able to bring about balance and harmony into the rooms we spend most of our time in.

Feng Shui is based on the five elements. They are fire, water, metal, wood and earth. Basically, to Feng Shui your office, you need to divide your office premises based on an arrangement called the Bagua.

The Bagua refers to an octagonal grid which is divided in nine sections. These nine sections of the grid include blessings area, illumination area, relationship area, elder’s area, unity area, creativity area, contemplation area, journey area and the friend’s area. All these represent your reputation, financial situation, relationships in all areas, your mentors, your sources of inspiration and your path through life.

To use the Bagua, you need to place the Bagua grid on the floor of the office. Next, you need to shift all the Feng Shui elements that are to be placed in your office to the appropriate positions so as to enhance these areas in your life. In laying out your office, examine the Bagua and pay attention to all the areas. This is because there should be a balance between all the areas in your life. This will keep the energy flowing into your work place and bring about almost all the things that you wish for.

Before setting up an office, you should do some research and choose an office area in a good and prosperous surrounding. Make sure the entrance looks approachable. According to Feng Shui, while sitting at your desk, you should be facing the doorway directly. Place mirrors if there are partitions in the room.

You can complement your wealth area with Feng Shui items such as placing pictures of a waterfall or putting up an aquarium or fountain. Have some green plants in the corners as suggested by the Bagua as that can help to circulate the positive energy in your room. For good fortune, put up a rooster or a phoenix or a peacock. You can place red eggs or a red ribbon tied to the three Chinese coins, a wheel or bell which spells power. Basically, you want to add some symbols of fame to your south wall and photos of water in the your area of wealth.

If you keep your office area uncluttered and clean, it will help you think more clearly and keep your mind clear too. This will increase your productivity and help you to grow faster and allow you to earn more profits and money.

Feng Shui will help you in growing to greater heights and will bring balance and harmony in your life. So the next time you want to increase productivity, try to achieve a Feng Shui office.

Contemporary Light Fixtures – Modern Outdoor Lighting

Obviously you already know what a light is and does Ok, so I'm being a bit facetious, but only the minority understand how vital light fixtures are in allowing our houses to look as beautiful as they do (or do not!). Of course, this is not to infer that light appliances are only for residential use. piece and associated pieces are for mainly discussing contemporary light fixtures.

Types of Contemporary Light Fixtures

There is a large amount so one text is for sure insufficient to cover them all. So we'll discuss the usually common light appliances, such as free-standing, which include standard lamps etc. After which there is the down-light, if it's on the ceiling, where the casing is hidden behind a ceiling or wall, however the fixture itself is open. Oh yes, how can you not include sconces from this assortment? Sconces not merely are gorgeous, but plus they also give up or down lights, also are commonly employed in hallways and other large spaces. Of course, there are outside light appliances, which light landscapes etc.

Parts of a light fixture

This is the potentially boring bit, so we'll cover it fast. But it is essential to say that a standard light fixture usually contains an opening, ballast, a reflector, the light (of course), and the power source. I set them out like that only because fundamentally crucial to the appearance that you hope to create plus the benefits you hope to get from your contemporary light fixtures. Of course, we could change the accessories with your wants, but remember to ensure that all of them are in top notch functioning order when you start installation.

Making a statement

Contemporary light fixtures can often make a home. Well ok, perhaps we can bring it down a little here. But the fact is that not only are light appliances useful things but also decorative ones, as they are accessible in so many different styles. A selection of tastefully placed light fixtures can truly change the entire look of a home and its environment. And the wonder of it all is that, due to the great popularity for these gorgeous items in the home appliance market, they are easily available in all types of retailers, as well as online. So one can be sure you'll locate the light appliance of your choice no matter how innovative, will be on sale somewhere, most likely at the closest supermarket! And more, you will very possibly find folk who are ready and waiting to tell you why you must have a sconce instead of a spotlight, or what safety guidelines you should follow with outdoor light appliances. So all you need to do is find them, no problem!

The Great Barrier Reef – A Natural Wonder

The Tropical North Queensland is a region that is filled with natural and historical significance. A place to come and learn about the Aborigines and to experience the wonders of the natural rainforests, but the Tropical North is also a place of water wonder as well as it contains the Great Barrier Reef, which offers another unique look into natural beauty and splendor that is bound to delight.

The Great Barrier Reef is a World Heritage protected area and is the largest reef in the world. It is home to some of the most diverse marine life, including the Black Marlin, with color combinations that will astound your eyes. The coral brings additional color to this incredible region and adds to the natural beauty of the setting.

Along through here there are lots of ribbon reefs off the coast that can be viewed from one of the many cruises available in the area or from a low flying plane. These reefs are a fascinating natural treasure, and maybe the best place to see them is where they come in closer to the beach at Cape Tribulation.

To see some of the wonderful creatures of the sea the Great Barrier Reef is the place to see, there are whales, sea turtles, dolphins, porpoises, dugongs, salt water crocodiles. And the Reef also will show you the animals that are only in this area such as the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin and the loggerhead sea turtle. Come to the Tropical North Queensland region to experience the incredible nature available to everyone.

Traveling from Brisbane to the Gold Coast there is a lot to discover in Queensland Australia, but the area of ​​Tropical North Queensland has to rate as the most fabulous. That may be why the incredible beauty of the Great Barrier Reef is listed as one of the seven natural wonders of the world, as you can not see it anywhere else on earth.

Can You Save Your Marriage Without the Efforts of Your Spouse?

If you have seen the movie Fireproof, then you know it is the story of a man who decides to fight to save his crumbling marriage. Despite the strong religious message in this movie, the most hotly debated topic of the film seems to be centered around its message that just one person's efforts can save a marriage. Proponents of this view believe that if only one person is committed to saving the marriage, then their spouse will follow suit as they come to appreciate the effort that the other person is making to save the marriage. Opponents strongly believe that it takes two people to have a successful marriage, and therefore it takes two people to save a marriage.

After delving into the arguments from proponents of both these positions, there is validity to both of these points of view. As long as the marriage was strong at some point, then just one motivated spouse does seem capable of starting the journey of saving a marriage all by themselves. Here are some of the key reasons why it is worth trying to save a marriage even if your spouse does not want to try.

A Good Marriage is more than just what you have put into it- Like any strong relationship, a marriage consists of all the love and effort that you put into it plus the love and effort that you have received in return. Even in friendships, we fight fiercely to keep our best friends while we are willing to let casual friendships fade away. This is because even in bad times we recognize that relationships that both parties have put effort into, have a special bond that is worth working to save. If your marriage has a history of both of you putting effort into it, then it is worth trying to save even if the other person is not currently putting any effort into it. For those unfortunate marriages that have perhaps always been one sided, then I can see why someone would decide that it is not worth attempting to try to single-handedly save the relationship, and they are probably right.

Marriage is never 50 / 50- Because a marriage consists of 2 people, many people wrongly assume that a successful marriage is one where all the tasks are shared evenly in a 50/50 split. If you look at a marriage at any given point in time, the split is often nowhere near 50/50, and it's not uncommon to have times where the split is more like 80/20. Of course if you look at a marriage over a longer period of time, it should be a fairly even split when it comes to the effort and energy that you each put into it.

In other words, even though the split may hover around 70/30 or 80/20 there are times when you will find that you are the one giving much more than half and there are times when you will be the one giving less. If your marriage falls into crisis when you are at a point where you are giving more than you are receiving, then it may also fall on you to be the one who makes the effort to try to save your marriage. If you take a good look at the history of your relationship you may even realize that there have already been times when your spouse was responsible for turning around your marriage, but you did not realize it at the time because you were at a point where you were giving your 20% when your spouse was giving 80%.

When we improve ourselves we improve our relationships- One of the biggest barriers to people believing that they can start the process of repairing their marriage on their own is that they have a preconceived notion that fixing a marriage involves couples therapy. Some people plan on doing this by seeing a counselor, while some plan on talking about their problems and agreeing on a plan to fix them without involving a therapist. The idea of ​​attempting "couples therapy" alone does seem silly, yet nearly everyone agrees that whenever we improve ourselves we improve our relationships. If you do set about working on your marriage by focusing on how you can be a better person and on treating your spouse better, then like the main character in Fireproof, you stand a good chance of starting to turn around your marriage. Even if your efforts do not turn out to be enough, at least you can know that you tried and your efforts will have made you a better person.

So there are the main reasons why a marriage is worth trying to save even if your spouse is not interested in saving it. It is easy to assume that you can not make a difference in saving your marriage without the efforts of your spouse, but it can be done. There are no guarantees that your marriage will be saved by the efforts of you alone, but it is guaranteed that your marriage will never be saved if neither spouse takes that first step towards getting the marriage back on track.