Hexagonal Gazebo Plans – Steps To Create A Six Sided Gazebo

A gazebo is usually built in the shape of an octagon, but with the help of proper hexagonal gazebo plans you can build a distinctive gazebos with six sides. It will add an inimitable charm to your yard. Though it may look intimidating, it is really easy to plan and build it. Making this structure is quite similar to making an octagonal one. Following are the instructions you can use for creating one yourself.

Base: A simple base can be created easily with concrete. Select a suitable place for your gazebo. A hexagonal gazebo has a distinctive shape and may or may not suit in every surrounding. A suitable place will enhance its beauty and grace. Clean this place thoroughly. Remove weeds, rocks and stones if any. Dig the mounds of soil and fill in the holes. Flatten the ground with a large heavy roller.

Now to make the floor, mix a basic mixture of concrete by following the instructions on the bag. Spread this mixture evenly and flatten it properly on the pre-cleaned ground. Try to avoid glides and ditches. You can now put tiles, wooden flooring etc on this concrete layer to give it a sophisticated touch. Your plastered area should be around 10 square feet. Let it dry for a day.

Make holes: Next step to follow in these hexagonal gazebo plans is digging holes around the circle which you created earlier. If you haven’t plastered your concrete in a circular shape don’t worry, just draw a rough circle on it with the help of a thread. Mark its center. Now using a thread and a chalk as a compass, divide the circle in to six equal parts. These markings will serve as the points where the holes are to be dug. With a shovel dig 12 inch deep holes on these marks.

Posts: Take 6 lengths of timber of 14 feet each. These should be cured timber and should be of equal length and width. Preferably use round poles. Bury each one of these poles one by one in every hole but instead of using soil for filling the holes use concrete mixture. Let these dry for a day or two.

Head beams: If the concrete has dried, check if all the posts are of the same height. If not, slice away the tops to make them equal. To make a mantle for your structure, use 6 poles of 4×4 lumbers. These should be around 40″ in length. Nail the cured wood posts to the top of the poles of your previously buried posts. For additional support use metal strips. Trim away any rough edges.

With bracing you can enhance the beauty of your gazebo. Buy some pre-made gazebo braces from the market and nail them to the wall posts.

Top: You now need a set of 6 timber poles. These should not exceed 74″ in height. You also need a small beam of wood to serve as the hub. Screw these 74″ posts firmly to the hub one by one. You must keep in mind to maintain a 45 degree angle. A hexagonal cone will be formed. Lift this cone on to the top of your poles with some assistance so that each corner coincides. Nail these posts.

Roof: Measure the triangular window like gaps made by the each face of the hexagonal top. Trace this on plywood. Cut six such pieces accordingly. Nail each of these from the inside of your top and then apply shingles. Thus, according to your hexagonal gazebo plans you are now done.

Foundation Repair – Water’s Effect on Foundations

Water can be a foundation’s worst enemy – no matter if the foundation is a poured type or a block type. When water drainage is flowing in the wrong direction (towards the house), it can destroy a foundation entirely. Foundation repair will be an absolute must once water has taken its toll on a house.

Heaving – The Effects of Water

When water soaks into the soil that surrounds the foundation, and does not drain properly, the soil swells, and the expansion only affects that soil that is soaked. Other areas of the soil that remain untouched will not swell. The expansion causes parts of the house to lift. This lift is, naturally, uneven as it is only in areas where water has impregnated the soil – and it causes the foundation to lift awkwardly. This lift is known as “heaving.” Cracks and holes in the foundation are then seen as evidence of heaving.

Does Waterproofing Help?

Waterproofing a foundation helps a great deal, as prevention measures are key to avoiding costly foundation repair. Downspouts, proper sloping and grading techniques on the landscape, and pumps can all help to keep a foundation drier.

But waterproofing doesn’t always prevent damage – heavy flooding from summer rains, and the winter-to-spring melt can cause more water to surround the foundation than waterproofing techniques can handle. When that happens, the above heaving is often seen, and foundation repair is required in order to prevent the house from sinking, sloping, and severely depreciating in value.

Complications

There are several complications that can occur when water has affected a foundation. Bowing, tipping, cracks, and tilting can cause complications throughout the home. Suddenly, floors are sagging, and doors and windows that once simply slid open with ease are now jammed and stuck. This leads to a severely depreciated home value, and living in the house becomes less inviting.

When to Get Help

Even the handiest homeowner can run into trouble sometimes. When it comes to foundation repair, professional services are often necessary to ensure that the foundation doesn’t fall apart (literally!). Checking the basement and foundation for cracks, visible seams, and holes is an absolute must, particularly after rainfall and during the wetter months, when the soil surrounding the foundation is vulnerable to being soaked (think spring and summer, especially). If there are small cracks, get them repaired immediately. Large cracks in the basement walls or the foundation will require the help of a foundation repair service. No homeowner should try to fix a foundation alone.

Heaving repair can be costly if a homeowner tries to go it alone without the help of a reliable, professional foundation repair service. Should the person attempting the repair make a mistake or error in judgment on how bad the problem is, calling in a professional at a later date will cost much more, as the errors will have to be fixed along with the initial problem.

So don’t bet the house – contact a professional right away for an assessment.

Advantages of Liquid Soap

It’s extremely necessary to wash hands more thoroughly since the spread of germs have increased. Adding additional cleansing products to water is important in order to do this properly.

Liquid soap is a very popular choice among a lot of individuals. Although liquid-soaps are effective in getting rid of dirt and germs, they have been said to damage the skin. Let’s take a look at why.

This happens because certain liquid-soaps remove skin moisture when washing hands with them. Some people who are beauty conscious have done research on various brands which contain additional moisturizing agents that benefits to the skins vibrance but still contain germ elimination.

Regular liquid hands soaps are better than bar soaps since you aren’t touching the soap. They come in different colors and fragrances also. Since the appearance of the new foam liquid soaps they are even better than the ordinary liquid soaps due to the additional moisturizing effect.

Such soaps that have moisturizer have germ fighting capabilities, better fragrances and lower PH levels which makes them a better choice for washing hands.

Another property found in new lines of soap is aloe vera, which naturally repairs chapped skin. Various brands have this component because of the positive effects on the skin.

Other additions to soaps which serve the purpose of health matters as well as the interests of the beauty conscious are shea butter and antibacterial components. She butter keeps the skin naturally beautiful because it has the ability to retain skin elasticity.

Another great thing about liquid soap is that it is more convenient. Small kids are able to use it without much needed help and able to effectively reduce the risk of spreading germs. So you see why liquid soaps are so much better and conventional than bar soaps. But whichever soap you decide to use, the most important thing will be fighting germs.

Baseball Drills to Increase Bat Speed and Hitting Power

Baseball drills that create head-turning power at the plate are something that every baseball player can benefit from. Sure, good hitters are known for making consistent contact with the baseball, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the harder the ball is hit, the more likely it is to find a hole or a gap. This power at the plate is the difference in being a good hitter and a great hitter, and great hitters get noticed. Just one single extra base hit for every ten at-bats can mean the difference in a 0.200 batting average and a 0.300 batting average, and that little extra “pop” on the ball is the easiest way to get those extra hits. Power is everything, and it is well known that hitting power is created with bat speed. Luckily, there are some great hitting drills and techniques that can be used to harness this power in any player. There are two specific baseball drills that are very good at increasing bat speed and hitting power.

Before discussing these specific hitting drills, it is first important to understand how a hitter creates power. A hitter creates power through bat speed, and a hitter’s bat speed is created through the efficient transfer of energy from the batter’s body to the bat. Many people believe that this energy is created with the batter’s arms, but in fact, this energy is created through efficiently transferring a hitter’s body weight from his back foot to his front foot during the swing. The important term to remember is “efficient.” Every batter that swings a baseball bat shifts his weight when swinging, but power hitters have strong cores and excellent balance. This keeps their bodies compact so that almost all of the energy created though the weight-shift is transferred directly to the bat. So the two keys to increasing bat speed and hitting power are balance and having a compact swing.

Hitting Power and Bat Speed Drill #1

This first hitting drill addresses one of the biggest problems that many hitters have when trying to hit for power. They simply do not have a compact swing. What do I mean? Weak hitters do not keep their elbows close to their bodies, and they over-stride when stepping toward the ball. This “flailing” of limbs results in a very weak swing because so much energy is being lost in the additional motion instead of being transferred directly to the bat. To transfer the maximum amount of energy to the bat, a hitter must keep his elbows close to his body and he must take a short, balanced stride. This allows the energy from the weight-shift to be efficiently transferred from the legs, up through the core, and finally to the arms. This creates the greatest amount of bat speed and hitting power.

An excellent drill for keeping a compact swing is to place small objects under the hitter’s arms and between his knees while practicing hitting from a tee or during soft-toss. The objects under the arms can be anything small and soft that the hitter can hold against his body with his elbows while not interrupting his swing. Rags or towels rolled up into tubes and taped work great for this drill. The object between the knees should be a light and soft spherical-shaped object. For older players, a volleyball works great. For younger players, you might need to find some other small ball-shaped object. The idea is for the player to hold these objects under his arms and between his knees during soft-toss or while hitting from a tee to practice keeping his limbs close to his body. This drill forces the batter to have a compact swing and an efficient transfer of energy from his body to the bat.

Hitting Power and Bat Speed Drill #2

The second baseball drill to improve hitting power at the plate addresses a hitter’s balance. Similar to having a compact swing, balance is critical because having bad balance also causes a batter to have poor energy transfer to the bat during the swing. We’ve all seen the young batter that tries to swing too hard and actually loses his balance while stepping back away from the plate. While this is a very common problem for young hitters as they try to hit the ball farther, this poor-balance approach actually prevents the batter from hitting the baseball as far as he could.

A great drill for practicing good balance is to have the hitter stand on a flat 2 x 12 inch board while hitting from a tee or while taking soft toss. This board should be about six feet in length and can be purchased at any lumber yard or most home improvement stores. The idea is for the hitter to stride directly forward toward the ball without falling off the board. Over time, this baseball drill teaches the hitter to have good balance, and it prevents stepping backward. This improved balance will absolutely improve a hitter’s bad speed and hitting power.

To summarize, to improve a hitter’s bat speed and hitting power, one must focus on having a compact swing and good balance. The above two baseball drills focus on these two factors, and over time, they will ultimately help a hitter improve his power. However, this only scratches the surface of improving bat speed and creating power at the plate. If you are interested in further improvements, I encourage you to keep learning about this incredibly important baseball skill!

Coax Your Vintage Hats Back Into Shape – Tips to Renew and Refresh Hats

Have you ever found a dusty, crumpled vintage hat that you just knew had potential? Now you can coax them into wearable shape. Here are some tips and tricks that I have used to take care of my own vintage hats. Try them out on your own vintage toppers to refresh and renew, but please use common sense and take care when working with any piece of vintage clothing.

Dusty hats often pop up as a treasured find at a flea market or sale. Clean them with a hair brush made for babies or an old shaving brush. The bristles are soft and there’s less chance of damage to the hat. Brush in a circular motion, or if the hat has a nap (a fabric with nap is one that has a pile or rough surface) brush in the direction of the nap. You can also use sticky tape or a slightly damp towel to gently lift surface dust or lint. And don’t forget, hat boxes were invented for a reason – packing your hats away in a box with tissue paper will help keep them in good shape to enjoy.

Do you know how to plump up wilted flowers or ribbons? A little steam will perk up sad fabric flowers or ribbons. Use long tongs to hold the hat in the steam from a tea kettle or a boiling pot of water on the stove. Be sure to keep your hands out of the steam as you carefully turn the hat so that the steam rises onto the flower and it will “unwilt” before your eyes. Keep the hat in the steam long enough to do the job but not so that it gets wet.

Once in awhile a vintage hat loses its shape. If it’s a fabric hat you can try steaming it briefly over a pot of boiling water to make it pliable. You can also put the hat on an ironing board and use a steam iron. Don’t iron the hat; just hold the steam iron above the hat so the steam goes on the fabric. Then stuff the hat full of white tissue paper to the shape you want and let it dry or cool down. You can also shape it over an inverted plastic container if you find one that is the right size. A large dinner plate can help to shape a felt tam or beret.

Are you feeling mysterious enough to wear a veiled hat but your veil is not cooperating? Here’s an old trick that my mother taught me that helps to shape or straighten a wrinkled veil. First take a white paper towel and put it on an ironing board. Then place a piece of wax paper over the paper towel. Next, place the veil carefully smoothed out to the desired shape. The last layer is a white cotton towel. Set your iron on a low setting and iron the layers for a few seconds. Work slowly in small sections at a time, moving the veil to a new spot as you finish each section. This helps to smooth out and stiffen the veil. You’ll have to experiment to find the best heat setting and the length of time to safely iron the layers. Err on the side of caution and use very low heat at first.

From simple berets to flowered finery, take care of your vintage hats and you’ll enjoy them for many years to come. Remember, a good hat tops a great outfit.

“If a woman rebels against high heeled shoes, she should take care to do it in a smart hat…” George Bernard Shaw

Electric Wok and Its Benefits

If you love foods that can be fixed in a wok, you should consider purchasing an electric wok. It doesn’t take up much room so it can store easily and fits perfectly on your countertop when in use. One of the biggest benefits is that no stove is required.

Why an Electric Wok

When we think of a wok, most of us probably think of some sort of stir-fry foods that are cooked in the wok. There are actually a number of other cooking processes that a wok can be used for. It is a multi-functional piece of cooking equipment that can create healthy and tasty meals. In addition, a wok cooks fast and at various temperatures.

Benefits of Using an Electric Wok

Self-contained – It’s a standalone cooking tool. The wok has a built-in heating element that heats the entire cooking surface to ensure even cooking of the food within the wok. Most have a longer electric cord to ensure any electrical outlet can be reached. In addition, the temperature control will range from warm/low to high so that you can keep foods warm or cook food very quickly.

Compact – The average sized wok is 14 inches in diameter which can hold about 6 to 7 quarts and is perfect for a family. This is about the size of an average skillet that you might use on the stovetop so it doesn’t take up much counter space. This makes it perfect for smaller kitchens or on the buffet table and guests can cook their own foods.

Multiple cooking options – Just about any food you love to eat can be fixed in a wok. From vegetable fried rice to French fries, the wok can handle the job. You can steam, boil, fry, braise, saute, sear or even tempura. In addition, since most heat to the requested temperature in about 3 minutes, you won’t have long to wait before eating; it’s faster and healthier than eating out.

Easy cleanup – Clean up is a snap. Although there are stainless steel woks available, most have a non-stick coating which makes them a breeze to clean. If the wok has a separate base, the wok and its lid should be dishwasher safe. If it’s an all-in-one unit then typically it shouldn’t be submerged in water.

Portable – Since an electric wok is self-contained, it can be taken anywhere there is electricity. You can take the wok to work or even camping. Remember, its compact (weighs on average 4 – 5 pounds) and heats quickly so the small space it uses and the small window of time to cook makes the wok a must have kitchen tool.

Reduce your electricity bill – Do you like to save money? It has been noted several times of the wok being self-contained and has different temperature levels. The combination of these two features reduces the number of burners and/or microwave you have on which reduces your utility bill. In addition, your traditional stove can take a while to reach the appropriate temperature you need while the wok takes about 3 minutes and actual cooking time is less as well. With less time turned on, the less electricity you will use thus lowering your electric bill.

If you are in need of a cooking tool that offers a lot of benefits like heats fast and doesn’t take up much space, consider getting a wok. You can cook just about anything in a wok that you can on the stove but in a smaller space and in a shorter period of time. There are a number of quality woks on the market today, simply choose the electric wok that best suits your needs.

Top 10 Crown Molding Materials

Decorative crown molding has changed over the centuries. Crown molding has a rich history which dates back to the second millennium B.C. and was often found in palaces. It has evolved from the beauty of the Greek forms to the simple curves of the Roman era; from the flowers and vines of the Gothic rounds to a return to the simple forms of the Romans during the Renaissance. Today, crown molding can be found in just about any type of material. So what’s appropriate? Which one should you use? There are so many, it can be a little daunting. So let’s take a brief look at the different kinds of materials that crown molding is often crafted from.

Traditionally, crown molding has been made from milled hardwood and plaster. Wood crown molding can be found and made from several hardwoods such as hickory, ash, poplar, alder, cherry, maple, mahogany and oak. Wood crown molding enriches the character of any interior as it frames your ceiling and complements your decor. There are many styles available and you can find many of the traditional styles, such as acanthus, grape and oak leaf motifs and shell. Wood crown molding will certainly add classic detail to any room.

On the down side, hardwood moldings can be quite expensive. Forest resources are limited. The softwood moldings require more time and care to install and finish, although it is less expensive than hardwood. Wood moldings shrink and swell with humidity, they can be damaged by water, it is combustible, it can be damaged by rot and insects, it can crack, it requires mitering and coping skills, it may split and splinter when nailed or cut, and wood molding must be sanded and primed prior to finishing. These disadvantages may outweigh wood’s good points for many.

Renewed interest has been growing in decorative ornamental plaster. Decorative plaster molding can be found in all styles. Ornamental plaster crown moldings do not shrink, burn, warp or produce toxic fumes. Ornamental plaster can be formulated in a wide range of compositions to yield finished products which include a range of properties. They are versatile, safe, stable and economic. Ornamental plaster, although an excellent product, can be costly to install. Although it is no longer required to be manufactured in place, skilled craftsmen are in short supply and it has become almost a lost art.

MDF crown molding, a wood-based composite material that uses wood fibers with a synthetic resin, is another example of how a builder or decorator can accent any room or hallway. MDF is environmentally safe and requires less preparation. It is often primed to a smooth surface which can then be painted with any high quality latex or oil paint. MDF won’t split when cutting, is resistant to warping and is consistent in size and shape. However, during installation of MDF, nailing creates blemishes that will require repair, by hand, prior to finishing. Although it is a less costly alternative to other materials in use, most professionals do not recommend its use.

Polyurethanes are found in many items. They are used in resins, adhesives, fibers, foam padding and insulation. They come in several forms, such as rods, sheets and liquids. Polyurethanes are frequently used as an alternative to such materials as wood, plastics, metal and rubber. And for good reason. Polyurethanes are resistant to wear and tear, weather, impact, scratching and erosion. They are also more cost-effective as an alternative as well.

Other uses for polyurethanes include: fibers, seals, gaskets, condoms, hard plastic parts, carpet underlay and sealants. Items such as domed ceilings, moldings and ceiling medallions are easier to construct of polyurethane foam rather than wood. In fact, polyurethane is considered to be the best replacement for plaster. It’s low cost, lightweight and anything you can do to wood, you can do to polyurethane. It is easy to install, can be used either interiorly or on the exterior and is available in the widest range of products.

In its most flexible form, polyurethanes are found in upholstery fabrics, while the more rigid foams are used inside the metal and plastic walls of most refrigerators and freezers. They are commonly utilized to make up paints, varnishes and glue. Your computer mouse-pad bottom is most likely made of polyurethane foam.

Flexible molding, which is one type of polyurethane, makes it a cinch to decorate around curved walls and arched doorways and windows. Flexible molding is made from a compound polymer resin that has been engineered to bend or curve around more challenging shapes. It can be bent or twisted without breaking or splintering. Flexible molding can actually be purchased in a range of grades, from very flexible to totally rigid.

One of the best features of flexible molding is it’s superiority to wood. Flexible molding can be stained, painted, or sealed just as ordinary molding, but without having to prime the surface first. It also resists warping, wearing, splitting, or mildewing, so it’s great for outdoor use as well.

The installation of crown molding cannot be made any easier than with peel and stick. Peel and stick comes in kits of plastic molding pieces which have self-adhesive backs and four outside corners. Peel and stick is available for the really low-tech, low cost way to decorate. No power tools, saws, nails or hammers are required. No mitering of corners is necessary. One person can install it in no time with no trouble.

Peel and stick, though, especially due to its low-tech and low cost, lacks relief. That is, there is no depth or thickness and it will appear flat.

Styrofoam, also called Expanded Polystyrene., has been used for many years by architects on buildings, homes and in museums. Styrofoam crown molding is light weight, durable and versatile, inexpensive, and adhesive to most kinds of paint. Other advantages and reasons for its gain in popularity are that it requires no special tools to install, and in fact can be installed in less than a day by the average homeowner. Styrofoam does not rot, crack, decay or succumb to insect damage. It can however melt or burn when exposed to flame and must be encased, as it will release toxic fumes when burning.

Another material that is finding its way into popularity is vinyl. Vinyl crown molding gives that old plaster look. While traditional plaster and wood crown molding require extensive experience, the advantage to using vinyl is its simplicity. It is low maintenance, does not blister or peel, swell or shrink when used in extreme moisture conditions, and will not rust, rot, pit or corrode and will not be attacked by insects.

Aluminum, stamped metal, crown molding featuring heavy-duty all aluminum construction is also available for use as a decorative accent. It is preformed inside and outside corners eliminate miter cuts, making installation easier. It is easy to cut, and installs like traditional moldings. It is durable and rugged. Aluminum is a tremendous bang for the buck. Use stamped metal for industry, factory, office, retail spaces, workshop, garages, kitchens, and trade shows.

Styrofoam, aluminum and vinyl moldings are primarily used for exterior decorative purposes.

Each material has its advantages and disadvantages and each homeowner must weigh these options based on their own requirements and desires. I hope this article will help to make the job a little easier. Happy decorating!

Scientists Have Found That Seafood Is Key to Longevity

The long sought after key to health and longevity in people’s lives has been discovered. The people who live the longest in the world are those who live on a diet supported mainly by fish. For the last 100 years since people have been connected enough to keep track, the oldest people in the world have typically been from Asian communities whose main sustenance is seafood. This says a lot about the nutritional value of seafood and requires more investigation. What people are beginning to understand today is that fish is an unsuspecting super food.

Scientists have begun to take a real interest in the nutritional value of seafood since connecting this to longevity. They know about the high protein content of these foods and the low fat content. Recently, however, scientists have discovered what they think is the key: Omega-3 fatty acids. These are “good fats” that are found predominantly in fish and other seafood. These fatty acids play a role in immunity from major diseases like heart disease, certain cancers and they help to increase brain function.

With respect to longevity, it seems that Omega-3 fatty acids play a major role in providing a kind of invincibility shield against the most common fatal diseases in modern society. This is an astounding finding. It shows that the positive correlation between longevity and having a seafood based diet isn’t just a coincidence. The reality is that seafood provides a high level of protein, a low amount of saturated fat and a high level of Omega-3 fatty acids that combine to create a powerful cocktail that leads to a strong immunity system and overall health.

So if you are looking for the latest super food to kick start you into a healthy lifestyle, look no further. Switching to a diet that is seafood based is your answer. You should be aware to stay away from seafood that has a high mercury content and look for wild and sustainably fished seafood. Switching your diet will be easy and delicious and well worth it. The people who are healthiest and live the longest have discovered the secret of seafood and now it’s your turn to be a part of it.

Four Simple Steps to a Winning Business Plan

Step 1: Strategic Planning

Let’s say you have a brilliant idea that puts Microsoft’s Bill Gates to shame, you’re convinced you’ve the driving passion to make it work, and market research seems to flag the green light that the idea is indeed viable. Wait, don’t dive head in yet. “Entrepreneurs are often so passionate about their ideas, they can lose objectivity,” says Nancy A. Shenker, president of the ONswitch LLC, a full-service marketing firm in Westchester, New York. How do you determine if your idea is one that will generate millions of revenue with one that crashes and burn; potentially risking your company at halt? The answer: an in-depth study. One of the research approaches startup entrepreneurs use is the SWOT analysis – which assesses the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats involve in a new business venture. The end-analysis should be able to tell if your idea has any holes that will need some patching.

Step 2: Success Stories

Ask any successful entrepreneur and chances are – they’re likely to tell you that the success of a well crafted business plan will not only attract and pique the interest of potential lenders and investors; but also be able to squeeze funding out of their conservative budgets. So before you dash off to conquer your outstanding business plan, start by finding out what has worked for others and what didn’t – from the businesses in your industry. While many plans fall through because they’re too long, poorly structured and packaged, loaded with spelling and grammatical errors, or even missing for a call to action; some business plans simply fail due to quirky ridiculous reasons.

Step 3: Key Factors

Crafting a business plan is one matter, while making yours a lasting impression (over thousands that ultimately landed on the desks of bankers and investors) is another. The truth is – 95% of business plans submitted were usually eliminated by the first run. So, present your business plan with complete and detailed information and top it up with hard and verifiable facts of exactly how you intend to operate the proposed business. Here’re four key factors to look out for:

People

Who’s in the team? What do they know? Whom do they know? How well are they known? William A. Sahlman, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School puts it this way, “A business plan should candidly describe each team member’s knowledge of the new venture’s type of product or service; its production processes; and the market itself, from competitors to customers.”

Industry Market

Is the industry market large or small? Is it growing or slowing? Will it continue to be sustained as a market of opportunity or will it dwindle in the next two years? “Entrepreneurs and investors look for large or rapidly growing markets, says Sahlman, mainly because it is often easier to obtain a share of a growing market than to fight with entrenched competitors for a share of a mature or stagnant market.” Make sure your business plan thoroughly describes the standing of your industry market – one that is large, growing, and marked by opportunities. Explain how your venture idea’s going to fill an unmet need in the market; how it’s going to be built and launched into the marketplace; how it can grow and expand in the range of its products or services as well as its customer and geographical base, and how it can fend off competitors in a long run to come.

Economic Activity

On a macroeconomic level, recessions, inflations or deflations, unemployment rates, stock markets rates, interest rates and exchange rates cover every nitty-gritty aspects of your business plan. Why? The answer is simple – they affect your venture’s success. It’s imperative to evidently describe in your plan how aware you are of the new venture’s economic activity, and as such, how it helps or hinders your proposed business. Although it’s necessary to include the former, it’s also important to demonstrate that you know the venture’s context will inevitably change and thus be able to spell out what management can do in the event the context changes and grows unfavourable.

Risk & Reward

In a highly competitive and rapidly changing market, every business start-up is confronted with certain (or uncertain) risks. The risks may range from product liabilities to a company’s reputation and personnel. Consider also the risks of the soaring costs of raw materials such as oil and iron, the resignation of a key partner (who also happens to pinch all your potential clients along with him) and the rise of new competitors in similar markets – all of which should be posed in your business plan, with solid answers as to how to resolve these risks.

“The business plan should candidly talk about the end of the process. How will the investor eventually get money out of the business, assuming it’s successful, even if only marginally so? Investors feel a lot better about risk if the venture’s endgame is discussed upfront,” explains Shalman.

Step 4: Plan Development

You’ve identified the key factors, now, roll up your sleeves and enter the deal structure. All successful business plans should’ve an outline of the essential elements for the proposed venture – being as specific as possible. So you ask, what should be included in the agenda?

Your business plan should consist of:

1. Executive summary

2. Venture idea and Market analysis

3. Company description

4. Management and Operation team

4. Marketing goals

5. Business strategies

6. Timelines and milestones

7. Risks and competitions

8. Financial data

9. Funds required and their uses

10. Supporting documents

11. Exit strategy

Although it may seem like a myriad of information to be presented, keep the plan short and simple by using bullet points with useful illustrations and charts. According to Growthink, which provides professional advisory services to start-ups, SME enterprises and Fortune 2000 companies in the United States, 15 – 25 pages of text is the optimum length, and while it is true that some companies are too complex to be described in 15 – 25 pages, the business plan is not intended to tell the whole story but to create an interest. In short, aim for quality rather than quantity.

The World’s Most Stable Decking Materials

When most people decide to purchase decking material, the first thing they consider is either the appearance of the wood or its cost. An unfortunately overlooked aspect of decking material is the wood’s structural stability. If you choose an unstable decking material, you run the risk of the deck boards warping or checking. Warping is the tendency of wood deck boards to curl inwards along their lengthwise edges. End checking refers to the ends of deck boards cracking and splitting as they absorb and expel moisture. Both warping and checking are big problems for a deck owner, and can cost a lot of time and money to fix.

Luckily, the stability of a wood species is relatively easy to measure. There are certain standardized measurements that are used to determine the mechanical properties of each wood species, and those properties tell us the stability and durability of the wood in question.

Measures of Stability

The two main properties used to measure stability are tangential and radial shrinkage. Both radial and tangential shrinkage refer to how much a wood species tends to shrink during the drying process. Radial shrinkage occurs in the direction from the center of the tree to the bark, while tangential shrinkage occurs tangentially, or parallel, to the tree’s growth rings. Both radial and tangential shrinkage are measured as a percentage. The lower the percentage, the less the wood will shrink during the drying process and the more dimensionally stable the board will be when installed.

While both radial and tangential shrinkage percentages are important on their own, the best way to measure a wood’s stability is to consider these properties together. The smaller the differential between the two measurements, the more stable the wood. For instance, if a species of wood shrinks twice as much along its width than it does through its thickness, the boards of that wood would warp and bend much more than the boards of a wood with much lower radial/tangential differential.

Stable Wood Species

Now that we’re familiar with how stability is determined, let’s look at the most stable types of domestic and exotic decking woods.

Domestics:

Domestic woods are generally softwood, which means they are less dense, less hard, and can’t stand as much weight. However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t great softwood decking options available. Two of the most stable softwood decking options are Western Red Cedar and California Redwood.

Western Red Cedar

Although cedar is a softwood, it is still very structurally stable. Both the tangential and radial shrinkage are quite low, and the differential between the two is very small as well:

Tangential Shrinkage: 5.0%

Radial Shrinkage: 2.4%

Cedar’s other mechanical properties – strength, stiffness and density – are also relatively high, making this a durable species good for most decking projects.

California Redwood

California Redwood is another very stable decking material. The tangential and radial shrinkage values are even lower than those of Cedar:

Tangential Shrinkage: 4.9%

Radial Shrinkage: 2.2%

Even though these percentages are lower than those of Cedar, the differential is 0.1% larger, meaning it is slightly less stable than the other species – but not by much.

Exotics:

Exotic hardwoods are denser, heavier and tend to have higher tangential and radial shrinkage percentages. Does this make them less stable? Not always. The differentials for some exotics are lower than their domestic counterparts, making them more structurally sound.

Ipe

The tangential and radial shrinkage percentages of Ipe are much higher than both Cedar and Redwood; however, the differential is much smaller, making it the more stable wood.

Tangential Shrinkage: 8.0

Radial Shrinkage: 6.6%

A 1.4% differential is great, and combined with Ipe’s naturally high density, strength and stiffness, makes it naturally suited for decking purposes.

Merbau

Merbau is another hardwood with excellent structural stability. The tangential and radial shrinkage percentages are:

Tangential Shrinkage: 4.6%

Radial Shrinkage: 2.7%

These percentages are quite a bit lower than those of Ipe, and even though Ipe’s differential is only 1.4%, a 1.9% differential is still very good. The low percentages combined with the relatively low differential makes this the most stable exotic decking choice. However, Merbau comes with an unrelated and unfortunate downside – read on to find out what it is.

Comparisons

For domestic woods, the most structurally stable option is Cedar, though Redwood is a close second. For exotics, Merbau is the more stable option, with Ipe decking being a fine second choice.

Between Merbau and Cedar, the obvious choice is Merbau. The shrinkage percentages are about the same as Cedar, but the differential is much smaller. Also, having a higher density makes the wood more naturally resistant to rot and decay.

Considerations

Besides structural stability, there are a number of things to consider when choosing the right decking material. Here are some important facts on the previously mentioned wood species

  1. The shrinkage values for Cedar and Redwood apply only to materials made of pure heartwood. Many manufacturers will include sapwood in their boards, which greatly reduces the stability and the strength of the wood. When choosing a softwood, check to make sure there is little to no sapwood content.
  2. While Merbau is an extremely stable hardwood, it does have one unpleasant quality – it bleeds. When wet, tannins in Merbau boards will bleed out an intense red color from the wood and can stain any light-colored surface. Merbau tannin bleed can ruin driveways, cars, and other living spaces. Merbau decks should be treated with a high-quality wood sealer to minimize tannin bleed. Just to be safe, don’t use Merbau over a living space, driveway, concrete slab, or car port.
  3. While structural stability is certainly important, it shouldn’t be the only factor you consider when choosing a decking material. Merbau may have the lowest tangential and radial shrinkage percentages, but Ipe has an incredibly high density. This density – which naturally protects the wood against boring insects, mold and weather wear – causes many consumers to choose Ipe decking over Merbau. Ipe also has no tannin bleed, making it safe to use over carports and other living spaces.

How to Improve Your iPad’s WiFi Performance

When I bought the WiFi-enabled iPad I knew that I might miss being able to connect over the 3G network. What I didn’t expect was not being able to connect over WiFi! Unfortunately, I’m not alone with my WiFi problems. Many iPad owners are reporting problems with WiFi – either connecting to or staying connected to a wireless network.

If, like me, you’re wondering what to do about WiFi, then read on. I’ve done the research and come up with the top 5 ways to fix the iPad WiFi connection problems.

1. Last things first: the on-off switch. You’d be amazed at how many complex step-by-step instructions end with “if that doesn’t work, turn the iPad off and on again.” Your iPad’s not always “on,” any more than an iPhone is.

  • Hold down the sleep/wake button until the red slider appears, and drag it to the right to power off. To power on, hold down the button again and let the iPad go through its startup routine.

This takes a while, and when you want your iPad to work right a few seconds is an eternity. But always keep this one ready – it’s often the “last resort” right answer.

2. Look Ma, no hands. Users are reporting that if you’re holding an iPad like a book, oriented taller than wide with your hands on its sides, your strong WiFi signal gets weaker, and your weak signal disappears. Don’t.

3. Renew your lease. The iPad has a known issue with DHCP leases. Long story short, it tries to retain an internet address on a DHCP network without renewing its DHCP lease. The network thinks the internet address is fair game, and issues it to somebody else. When working over a DHCP network:

  • Tap Settings/General. Under Auto-Lock, select “Never.”
  • If you’re losing the DHCP connection while working, tap the blue arrow next to the network name and “Renew Lease.”
  • When you finish working on the network, don’t lock your screen without either powering off or turning off your WiFi first. To turn off WiFi, go to Settings/WiFi, and set the switch to “Off.”

4. Turn up the brightness. A lot of power-saving tips advise you to turn down the screen brightness to preserve battery life, but if you’re losing connectivity, it’s a tradeoff. Nobody’s sure, but there’s speculation that the iPad figures that turning down your brightness is an attempt to save battery life, and decides to turn down your WiFi radio too.

Some complaints center on auto-brightness, which is a built-in feature that turns the brightness up and down based on ambient conditions. Turn your brightness up to the max, and you may get a sudden boost to your WiFi signal as well.

5. WEP and QoS.

  • WEP is an encryption protocol. Your iPad is more at home with WPA2, if that protocol is available on the wireless modem you’re connecting to – so dump the WEP setting.
  • QoS selects from a broad range of bands automatically to connect you to the internet – unless, of course, you’re on an Apple product like the iPad. Apple doesn’t support QoS, so disable it.

Finally, if you can’t keep a WiFi connection at least keep current with Apple’s iPad software updates. To Apple, the iPad’s WiFi problems are as real a threat as the competition’s “me too” tablets, and they’ve promised fixes in upcoming software releases.

Chemotherapy and Bloodletting

The goal of chemotherapy is to kill part of a cancer patient’s body without killing the patient. It involves lethal drugs that do serious damage, hence the side effects. The drugs work by damaging the RNA or DNA that controls cell division. If cells are unable to divide, they die. Healthy cells grow back; hopefully the cancer cells won’t.

Pharmaceuticals are risky business. Having them prescribed and monitored by a doctor is a safeguard, but it doesn’t make them safe. In her book, Another Day in the Frontal Lobe, neurosurgeon Katrina Firkin notes that,

Anything strong enough to help you is strong enough to hurt you. No treatment, at least no worthwhile treatment, comes without risk. Even natural supplements, if you take unnaturally large amounts, can have untoward effects… There are plenty of medications that work wonders without us having a clear idea as to how or why they work. To me, that means there are probably other things those drugs are doing that we may not expect. It would be unlikely for a drug to have one and only one effect on the body. That’s not how the body works. One physiological mechanism can mediate numerous different functions. One natural chemical, blocked or enhanced by a certain drug, may have dozens of different targets. Those targets are probably not all figured out yet.

It’s a Faustian bargain, but I’ve adopted Dr. Firkin’s approach, “I’ll take a medication when I need it, when the time comes, if the benefits clearly outweigh the risks. But I won’t expect to get something for nothing.”

Bloodletting

A hundred years from now chemotherapy may be looked back upon with the same aversion we have to bloodletting today as a barbarous rite of pre-enlightened medicine. For almost 2,000 years sincere physicians drained copious amounts of the vital fluid to relieve their patients of “bad blood.”

The practice was supported by the best scientific minds of the time and based on observation of the body itself, specifically menstruation. None other than the father of medicine, Hippocrates-who gave us the word “cancer”-believed menstruation purged women of bad humors. His most famous student, Galen, began physician-initiated bloodletting in the second century.

Bloodletting was once used to treat cancer, along with everything else from cholera to diabetes, herpes to leprosy, plague to pneumonia, and scurvy to smallpox. The earliest recorded cancer treatment comes from the Egyptians, who used a “fire drill” to cauterize tumors. Medical science lurches forward by trial and error.

Even great advances sometimes have unforeseen consequences. A popular theory regarding how AIDS entered the human population posits that it came from chimps whose organs and fluids were used in culturing a strand of oral polio vaccine used in the Congo, the epicenter of the pandemic.

Never mind inadvertent danger, modern chemo causes lots of collateral damage. It is a shotgun that indiscriminately kills both terrorists and hostages. But for many forms of cancer, it’s the best weapon we have right now.

Chemo is one of those things in life for which a stunt double would be absolutely great. Other experiences where a stand-in would be wonderful are:

  • childbirth
  • IRS audits
  • root canals
  • prostate exams
  • (add your least favorite activity here)

Ambition – It’s a Matter of Self-Respect

Don’t look back in regret

There is a well-documented phenomenon in near-death experiences whereupon life is said to flash before one’s eyes. It is properly called a ‘life review’, with the proposed reasons for this happening varying from the spiritual to the scientific. Some people believe it to be a reflexive appraisal or a critique of your life as it comes to a possible conclusion. Another tendered explanation for this occurrence is that it is the brain’s survival response, an attempt to retrieve anything from your past that might be able to aid you in your immediate peril. Whatever the reasons for the life review, it must surely be a moment of absolute self-honesty.

To be or not to be

In this moment, or perhaps on our deathbeds, during our final moments of reflection as we prepare to shuffle off this mortal coil, the concern might be that it is not the things we did that we most regret; rather it is the things we did not do that will haunt us as we pass on.

All this is inherently personal, and modern life can be a lonely and complex place. It affects our expectations on what this world will provide for us. It also places certain social expectations upon us. Naturally, this pressure can lead us to make decisions based on what other people want from us or expect us to do. We all know the rigmarole; there is a customary life-model many of us feel a significant expectancy to fulfil – do well in school, find a steady job, follow a career, start a family to support, eat well, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy social life and be happy. This structure disregards the plain fact that people are individual and that there is not a one-size-fits-all template of the successful happy life that will surely work for everybody.

In this technological age, as our global population continues to grow, we have to tussle to carve out our own space and find fresh ways of occupying ourselves as our attention spans diminish. We crave immediate relief and, as a result, time can seem to pass more rapidly and so life can seem shorter. In this way time becomes more valuable, which can lead to rash decisions that can go on to define us.

Courage as the catalyst

This is where ambition comes in. For some, ambition can seem like a fluffy ideal, a pipe-dream. For others, ambition is a dirty word that holds hands with greed and conjures up a leering Gordon Gekko as its mascot. Either way, it is a worrying symptom of the times when the very word ‘ambition’ now carries a pejorative inference.

Ambition is a natural trait that has progressed people, individually and collectively, throughout our existence. It equips us with the nerve to stand outside the herd and exercise a degree of different-thinking, to not follow the crowd. It fortifies our spirit and leads us up the path in the direction of success in our desires rather than down a path toward safe banality.

So, perhaps an accompanying quality of ambition is courage. It is an absurdity of life that people who dare be different can be frowned upon and judged unfavorably until the precise moment they achieve something, at which point they are revered and celebrated for their endeavor. To that end, it seems prudent to shed ourselves of the burden of the expectations of others. It seems it might take a brave person to listen to and act upon that sincere voice within and step outside of these pressures and norms.

A matter of self-respect

Loyalty and maturity are important characteristics to possess. To do right by your loved ones and your neighbors is absolutely a decent and proper intention. However, it is equally to do right by yourself. This is not as fundamentally selfish as it might seem. Self-actualization is vital to self-possession and, therefore, self-respect. Slow and steady can win the race but there is little self-esteem in winning a race that you do not prize. Stability can be valuable but it does not necessitate happiness. Indeed, choices of security can manifest themselves negatively as midlife crises as fears of a life wasted eventually supplant the earlier fears of self-preservation and our sense of obligation to tend to the life-model of general expectation. The fa├žade of happiness will slip eventually if you are not honest with yourself and being honest with yourself is imperative to respecting yourself.

Some decisions around ambition can be difficult. Sacrifices might have to be made and certain priorities may need to be outlined. No-one can blame you for being scared to take the jump but your response to that fear is something that you may well have to reconcile yourself with at some point in your life. Risk-takers are not always mavericks; most people need to overcome themselves to achieve what they desire. This aspect of our human nature is something to be conquered, the challenge of betterment. We rightly consider dedication to be an admiral quality, and so dedication to genuine self-fulfilment should be of equal value.

A personal journey

There are myriad quotes and self-help mantras, and whilst they may inspire, they cannot guide. Ambition is a personal journey. Even those who know you most intimately can never fully understand what is within you. Some may empathize, some may scoff. Do not be discouraged by their responses. Similarly, do not judge others for their lack of ambition or appreciation of what might compel you from within.

The only honest judgment one should take note of is one’s own. This isn’t to say you should disregard all criticism. It can be constructive but keep things in perspective. For example, at the age of 30, and by checking in the mirror, I might have to admit defeat in my ambition to be professional footballer! The end is not what defines you; it is the journey and how you respond to its tribulations that define the person you are. An earnest endeavor toward something that is true to you will cultivate your self-respect.

Ambition is not a singular aim. Rather, it is a way of living and of being able to look yourself in the eye without shame. Disregard the glib cliches; it is not a case of simply listening to your heart instead of your head. Rather, it is a case of following your heart whilst listening to your head. Be realistic without limiting yourself, and avoid judging yourself by other people’s standards because it will be in your moments of solitude, when you have to face yourself alone, that you will be unable to hide from your own failure to be true to yourself.

What Are the Components of a Server?

Since most businesses use servers in a variety of different roles, it’s a good idea to see just exactly what’s inside. You will notice that server components are very similar to personal computer components. The major differences are the speed and the storage capacity of servers.

Motherboard. The motherboard of a server is similar to a PC’s motherboard. As in a PC, the motherboard is what brings many of the other components together. Think of it as the body of the server. Most of the other components and electronic circuitry attach to the motherboard. Memory, a hard drive controller, input/output ports, and the chipset is all part of the server motherboard. Motherboards can also provide housing for components such graphic adapter and a network interface. Many of today’s modern computers come with this circuitry built-in to the motherboard. When a motherboard fails, the system itself will fail.

Processor. The second major component is the processor or the central processing unit (CPU). This component, oddly enough, processes the data that crosses through its componentry. Think of a processor as the brains of the server. It is the component that largely affects system performance, though there are other components that contribute to its success.

Memory. This is the component that you should always have more than enough of. In fact, it was Bill Gate who famously said that you should only need 720kb of RAM (memory). We’re into gigabytes now. Put a lot of money into memory because it will be money well spent.

Hard Drive. This is where you’ll store everything. Again, you should get one that will suit your needs for years to come. Hard drive memory is cheap.

Video card. This is perhaps the one component that is significantly different from the PC. Servers don’t have much use for sophisticated graphics cards. Go generic on this item.

Network connections. Network adapters are often built into the motherboard. You will still need to understand this component for it is through the connections that the other PC are able to connect. Otherwise, it’s an expensive box with a lot of fancy components and gadgetry inside.

Power Supply This is mentioned (whereas wiring or soldering isn’t) because you will be using significantly more power than you would normally use with a PC. The number of hard drives that are housed inside the box will determine how large your power supply should be.

Why You Should Get an Ultrabook

Need a laptop that’s fast, portable and won’t drill a hole in your pocket? You should get an ultrabook. What exactly is an ultrabook? It is a laptop designed for speed and portability. It also has a better than average battery life. It can also run most tasks fast, due to its powerful internal hardware.

Portability is one of the key goals manufacturers have for ultrabooks. They integrate compact hardware and high-capacity batteries. You can work on the go, without the need to keep the ultrabook plugged into a wall socket.

Due to their compact nature, you will hardly notice an ultrabook when carrying it around. They are great laptop choices for business individuals, engineers and college students. These notebooks work well for busy individuals that are always on the move.

What kind of performance should you expect from an ultrabook? Well, depending on their setup, most of them can run stock and even demanding software. Their hardware recipe provides a high-performance notebook without adding more weight.

Let’s move on to what internal components you should expect to find on these ultrabooks.

CPU

The CPU needs to be powerful. You should aim for a Core i5 or Core i7 processor with your ultrabook choice. Also, they should be from the 4th generation up to the 6th generation. Newer generation CPUs offer even faster performance and decreased power consumption. You’ll have an increased battery life. Also, you’ll enjoy higher system speed than with older generation laptops.

RAM

RAM, or system memory, helps the processor get work done. The more you have, the better your device will perform. The ideal range for an ultrabook is between 6GB and 16GB of system memory. This component helps when dealing with large software or opening up many tabs in your browser. Also, if you decide to opt for minimalistic memory laptop, then you should change the way you work. You have to get used to opening up fewer applications at the same time. This practice will decrease memory requirements. At the same time, it will offer snappier performance.

Storage

You need to store and retrieve information from your notebook. The hard drive plays a significant role. The type of storage you’re using impacts performance. You have two choices here: HDDs or SSDs. Getting an ultrabook with a regular HDD means massive storage capabilities, but decreased speeds. While HDDs used to be the norm, they are getting replaced by SSDs. An SSD uses flash memory to store information. They don’t rely on spinning disks, so they’re faster than traditional HDDs by up to ten times.

GPU

This component relates to the visual side of things. More, to how well your computer can render software interfaces or game worlds. You have two options to go with here: integrated GPU or dedicated GPU. An integrated GPU works fine for most everyday tasks. It can even allow you to play online games without any problems. But if you want to play modern 3D games, you will have to find an ultrabook with a dedicated graphics card. These games eat up a lot of resources, so your laptop has to handle this type of workload.

Now that you have a good idea of what an ultrabook should carry, you can make an informed buying decision.