Bob the Builder Promoting Family Values

Bob the Builder is a character from the children’s television series created by Keith Chapman and originally broadcast on the BBC in 1997. Bob has been watched by millions of children around the world and has been favored by parents for his positive influence on children and family values.

Bob the Builder is a great example for children to follow and the stories not only entertain, but illustrate what real life is all about. Sure, Bob encounters problems working on the construction site, but he always has a positive attitude to complete the task at hand with a solution. With the help of his friend and business partner Wendy and his machine talking team of trucks and equipment, Scoop the yellow backhoe loader, Muck the red bulldozer, Dizzy the orange concrete mixer, Roley the green steamroller, Lofty the blue crane, Zoomer the purple snowmobile, Travis the cyan tractor, Tumbler the yellow and green concrete mixer, Benny the pink excavator, Jackaroo the blue pickup truck, Packer the red pickup truck, Skip the yellow skip loader and Scrambler the blue bike the job is always completed enthusiastically.

The adventures of Bob the Builder and the gang encourage kids to learn about teamwork, leadership, patience, respect, resolving conflicts, friendship and co-operation with others as they work together on the construction site and play together, all important skills and values to teach children.

The lessons that young children learn are the building blocks of character and integrity that will shape them as they grow and will stay with them throughout the rest of their lives. The characteristics of Bob the Builder are a great example to children and prove essential in later working life where building relationships with fellow workers, fostering teamwork in working environments and getting the job done are all important assets in your abilities to succeed in both personal and working life.

How to Restore Factory Settings on Dell Inspiron 545s

A distinct feature on the Dell Inspiron 545s is its Intel Core 2 duo processors. This processor is all about speed and this is enough to impress the user. Another noticeable feature is its capacity to store a huge amount of data within its 1TB memory. Now the user can easily store pictures, videos, music, files, folders and other data without having to worry about storage space availability. Other features that inspire the user to get an Inspiron include its capability to be connected to your TV set while utilizing multiple outputs.

Users of Dell Inspiron 545s often encounter software errors. It is advisable to seek computer support. If you wish to deal with the problem yourself then there is another way to solve this. For this you need to restore the system back to factory settings. It can be done through the disk provided with the system which enables the OS installation process. Then you need to follow the commands to restore back to factory settings.

Some essential points to keep in mind for restoring your system:

• Windows in-built restore function

• Restoring factory settings in Dell Inspiron 545s

• Easy installation of OS

• Things to keep in mind while restoring

Windows in-built restore function

Windows comes with an inbuilt function for the purpose of restoring factory settings. This function is available with Windows Vista and XP operating systems. But one thing to note about system restore is that these are only helpful in restoring registry settings and other essential files with regard to Windows. If you are thinking of repairing the complete system by restoring factory settings then you need to know that this will only help in replacing system files. Your data will still be safe but if you do not take the steps pertaining restoration process then it might damage your files too.

Restoring factory settings in Dell Inspiron 545s

If you wish to restore your Dell Inspiron 545s then you need to know that it contains a hidden recovery partition. This enables in restoring the system to its factory settings. You can do this by pressing the F11 function key. Another thing to keep in mind is that if you are using a recovery disk then it might result in data loss from your hard drive. At this juncture seeking the help of an online tech support provider like computer support is essential to avoid any data loss.

Easy installation of OS

Installation process is not as difficult as it sounds at times. Installation of OS can be easily done for restoring the system to its factory settings. All you need to do is boot the system using the recovery disk. But here you need to remember that this is only possible if there is no other existing partition on your system. If there are existing partitions on your system then you need to delete all of them first and re-create new partitions as per the new installation requirements.

Things to keep in mind while restoring

Before you embark upon the steps of restoring your system you need to ensure a few important things. Ensure that your Dell Inspiron 545s system restoration option is enabled. This is so because if it is disabled then system restoration is not possible even after performing all the steps. Another important thing to keep in mind is that you need to take a back up of the system and the files. This is essential so that in case of data loss which is quite possible, you can recover it from your storage device.

If you have any trouble with data then seeking the advice of a computer support provider will help you get through it. Also their technical experts will guide you through each step and resolve any issues instantly.

Buying a Character Home

Buying a character home is like buying an antique car, it will be more beautiful than all the others on the block, but you will have to spend every Sunday polishing it!

To the converted, however, the charm of the older character home makes all that polishing worthwhile. If you would love a character home, but cannot quite run to the expense or the staying power of renovating and maintenance, think of adding some characteristics that can give your home the appearance of an older style house.

Initially the exterior is where your changes will be the most noticeable.

If your modern home has a stucco finish – one of the easiest ways to add interest to it is to finish it with Tudor wooden beam paneling. In Tudor times, the stucco was traditionally painted cream or white with either dark brown or black wooden beams crisscrossing the stucco.

However, lately the medieval look has been successfully re-created with pale silver gray stucco and a darker gun-metal gray wood trim. Cream or white stucco with gray trim also looks classy.

If Tudor style beams will not complement the design of your home, how about gingerbread trim – another ‘character classic’. This scallop-edged trim is usually attached to the eaves and the porch of the home; many homes have matching shutters too.

Bay windows, which jut out from the exterior wall of the house will ‘age’ both the inside and outside of your home. In Victorian times, a shelf that lined up flush with the wall was built across the indented bay of the window; cushions were built on top to make it a padded ‘window seat’. Usually the seat was boxed in beneath for storage purposes.

Circular windows that ‘bulge’ out from the home like a tower are a key feature that can also be incorporated into the walls of a modern home. The most effective type of tower is added onto the corner of a home, with a circular spiral roof atop. If you plan on this you may need to consult a structural engineer on how to reinforce the corner of your home.

Another feature that can age your home is to replace your windows with oldie English ‘leaded light’ effect windows. These can be imitated by buying the pencil-thin, diamond crisscross patterned sections to attach to the inside of your window panes.

Perhaps easier to build is a porch or a verandah. If you use spindle railings and old fashioned stair railings, this will add to the character look of your home. Alternatively you can use a gingerbread trim and match it to the eaves.

Front yards and driveways can also enhance the character look of a home. For instance if you pour a concrete driveway, it will look modern. For a character effect, try laying down a driveway of the dull, dark red Italian cobblestones. These will have to be laid on a level bed of soft sand that is shuttered with trim on both sides..

For maximum effect make sure you choose medieval or Victorian design house accessories. For instance, black iron exterior house lamps, three-ball lamp posts and wrought iron gates.

Red Dwarf Series 9: What Is It, Where Is It and When Is It?

If you don’t remember ever seeing Red Dwarf Series 9, you could be forgiven for thinking you had started to lose the plot. You remember the series 8 finale ‘Only The Good’, which ended with a cliffhanger involving Red Dwarf being eaten by a corrosive virus and Rimmer kicking Death in the happy sack before fleeing into the disintegrating ship; the others having become trapped in a mirror universe. That was all back in 1999, and we have been waiting patiently ever since wondering if we would ever find out what became of our favourite space bums.

Fast forward to 2012, and an eagerly anticipated tenth series is about to hit our screens. So, what the smeg happened to Red Dwarf Series 9 then? Did the master tapes get sucked into a giant swirly thing in space before it could be aired? Is it simply lost somewhere at the bottom of Lister’s laundry basket? Relax, there is a perfectly normal (well, normal for Red Dwarf) explanation as to what happened to the ninth series.

Since that cliffhanger back in 1999, despite rumours of a film being in the pipeline, it slowly began to seem like the show was history and Red Dwarf series 9 was never to be. Then in 2009 a 3 part special called Back To Earth was broadcast on the UK comedy channel Dave, and subsequently released worldwide as one continuous episode on DVD as a ‘Directors Cut’.

Since the news of Red Dwarf X being in the making came about, it seems there are those who have come to the assumption that Back To Earth was, in fact, series 9. But since Back To Earth didn’t follow on from where series 8 left off, you have to ask yourself how likely this really is. Not only that, but Red Dwarf series 9 is actually mentioned in Back To Earth as being the ‘best season ever’ by the sc-fi memorabilia sop owner. And earlier, when Lister reads the back of the DVD box for Back To Earth, it says, “Back To Earth takes place after series 10″. This means these events occurred sometime after series 9 and 10. Add to that the fact that Red Dwarf co-creator Doug Naylor has already stated that he doesn’t want to make a ninth series of the show, and that a tenth series would “make a lot more sense in the future.” OK, lets recap.

Back To Earth essentially saw the crew get sucked through an entirely different swirly thing in space to the one I mentioned earlier, finding themselves back on Earth in the very near future. They discover that in the dimension in which they now find themselves stranded, they are merely characters in a TV show called ‘Red Dwarf’. They learn this information whilst browsing through the DVD section of the store they ‘jumped’ into, and finding the full back catalogue of Red Dwarf DVD’s. And it is here, amongst this cinematic journal of all their escapades, that they encounter the DVD for the story they are currently playing out: Back To Earth.

The crew soon discover that Red Dwarf series 9 was regarded as the best ever series of the show, although no further information is given as to what may have transpired throughout that series (apart from Kochanski being sucked through an air-lock). The Dwarfers then go off in search of the writer of Red Dwarf, in the hope they can persuade him to write more episodes. A semi parody of Blade Runner fused with a stroll down the cobbles of Coronation Street quickly ensues, and our anti-heroes learn of their intended fate from their creator. Eventually the crew wake up to discover they have been experiencing a group hallucination caused by a female despair squid, whose defence mechanism works the opposite way to a males and creates a feeling of joy for potential enemies.

So, what does all this mean for Red Dwarf series 9? Well, to play devil’s advocate, it can be argued that since most of the events of Back To Earth were actually a hallucination caused by the female despair squid (more like a joy squid), everything that happened during the hallucination can be discounted as not being a Red Dwarf reality. But since Back To Earth did not follow on from series 8, and was not even a full series, I would still argue that it is not series 9. It isn’t part of any series, but simply a 3 part/one off special.

Even though it didn’t really happen happen (unless it will be was an event that could will have been taken place in the future), mentioning series 9 as being the ‘best ever’ series of the show in Back To Earth has effectively mythologized that entire series. I would imagine that attempting to write series 9 now, having put it on such a high pedestal that would garner such huge expectations, would be nigh on impossible. My assumption is that the intention was that series 9 will never be written. Unless, of course, that period eventually gets covered with a Red Dwarf movie. Until then, Red Dwarf series 9 is, and will probably always be, nothing but a myth.

More light may well be shed on how the crew were able get out of the bind they found themselves in at the end of ‘Only The Good’ during the course of Red Dwarf X, and we are told this will actually all be explained in episode 6 of the new series. Although you can never really predict what is going to happen in this show, my guess is that we will be left with even more questions by the time it is over.

Safe Use of Crossties

Standing your horse in crossties in the aisle way of the barn is great for grooming and tacking. It even works for blacksmith time. Most horses stand perfectly fine in crossties. They might fidget now and then, toss their head or paw. They might look around and try and socialize with a horse in a nearby stall. They might even “talk a little trash” of the nickering, whinnying kind if they get some interest. They may take a few steps forward, a few steps back. They might rest a leg, and be totally at ease with themselves and their situation. The ideal setup for crossties would be in a designated grooming area or stall that is open at the front. This would eliminate any distractions for the horse, and you. Whether it be in an aisle way or grooming stall, it is referred to as crossties. Where’s your horse…? He’s in the crossties.

The actual crossties themselves are first on the list for success and safety for you and horse. They must, and I cannot stress this enough, they must have quick-release snaps. Quick-release snaps are designed, appropriately, to release quickly. If your horse gets spooked from a sudden noise or action in or around the barn and reacts to the extreme, he may need to be “released quickly.” My personal horse Malaki is notorious for becoming unglued when someone walks overhead in the hayloft. I can usually calm her, but having quick-release snaps has come in handy on more than one occasion.

The placement of the snaps is paramount. I have seen many configurations over the years and some are mind-boggling to say the least. I wonder why anyone would attach the quick-release snaps to the screw eye where the crossties connect to the wall. As a good rule, the screw eye should be high enough so that a horse rearing could not get its leg up over the crosstie. Thus said, if a horse does start rearing and manages to get a leg hung up, how on earth is the average height person going to reach up high enough to yank on the quick-release snap. This is no time to go searching for a stepstool or ladder.

Worse, I have seen crossties where the quick-release snaps are connected to the horse’s halter. Again, if a horse is acting up and manages to get itself in trouble, what is the likelihood of your being able to get close enough to him or her and the halter, safely, to release the snap? For me, the ideal spot is in between. Have two lengths of crossties on each side, with the quick-release snap connecting them in between, preferably a little higher than midway. When your horse is in trouble, rearing, backing up in a fit, trying to bolt forward or sitting down from pulling back so hard, it’s going to be the easiest route to your unsnapping the quick-release without you getting hurt. It’s the safest route for the horse, too.

A truly fastidious person can have quick-release snaps at the top and midway. I have seen barns where the connection to the screw eyes on the wall is a small double or triple loop made out of baling twine. In the event your horse starts acting up excessively, the baling twine will snap and can easily be replaced once your horse is calmed down. The chances of your needing to pull the quick-release snaps are not as common as one might think. Usually some calm assurance if the horse gets upset is enough to settle him or her down. Sometimes a firm word or two, particularly if they are pulling back on the crossties, will do the trick. A simple, “Get up” in a low voice will work wonders most often.

For horses that have never stood in crossties before, take it slow. Ease them into it. Groom them in the aisle way on a lead shank. Get them used to the area and process. You might want to keep the lead shank on them the first time or two that you hook them up to the crossties. Put the cross ties on one side, and put some tension on the lead shank on the other. Have them step forward and back, to get the feel of being tethered on both sides. The next time you go to hook them up, they will be accustomed to the routine. As a word of caution, me being an old Thoroughbred racehorse trainer, Thoroughbreds acquired off the track know nothing of crossties. They have a single tie in their stalls, usually at the back or on the side, and that’s where they are groomed. They are hand held for the blacksmith. Take it extra slow when introducing them to crossties. Don’t assume anything with any breed of horse. If you purchase a new horse, ask if he or she is used to cross ties. Don’t find out the hard way. Again, safety is the key, for you, and for the horse.

Replace Your RipStik Wheels – The Easy Way!

The RipStik is a popular caster-board created by the “Razor” company (known for their successful Razor Scooter.) Two separate small platforms are conjoined by a bar which rotates using a heavy duty spring. Each platform or “deck” hosts a rotating wheel identical to a roller blade wheel.

The construction of the board allows a person to propel themselves using a twisting motion of the body and legs to move the two decks and wheels. The feeling of riding a caster board has been attributed to being like riding a snowboard or surfboard.

Repairing a standard RipStik wheel is a simple process which is not unlike replacing a roller blade or skateboard wheel.

To begin you will need a few things. You will need a pair of needle drivers (or similar) which will act as a crowbar to remove the bearing from the wheel, a new roller 76mm blade wheel (which are the same as RipStik Wheels), or two, if your going to be replacing the front and back wheel. You will also need two alan wrenches (also know has alan keys) 3/15th in size.

First of all, you will need to remove the wheel out from the RipStik truck. Place one alan key on the right side of the wheel, inside the bolt, the other on the left hand side of the bolt. Now, twist one alan key anti-clockwise to un-screw the bolt while holding the other side to keep it from twisting. Continue rotating the alan key until you have completely un-screwed the bolt.

Once the wheels is out your going to take the needle drivers and pry out the bearing away from the inside of the wheel. Once the two bearings are out you will be able to place the bearings inside the new RipStik wheel. Put the bearings in the middle part of the wheel (taking care it does not fall over while it is inside the wheel) and press in the bearing.

Once you have both bearings in the new wheel, take your wheel and place it in the truck. Now place your bolt in through the truck, the wheel and the bearing. Tighten the bolts until they are very firm to make sure they are secure. Be careful not to over tighten your bolt as this could cause your bearings to seize. Once you have got your RipStik Wheels tightened you’ll be good to go and you will have a new RipStik Wheel to race along with.

The Do’s And Don’ts Of DIY Plastering

The most important thing for all DIY tasks is a set of correct tools for plastering and plaster boarding. The vital and useful tools are a large flexible mixing bucket, a featheredge, a Plasterer’s Darby, a float and a hawk.

The bucket is essential for the mixing of plaster or dry wall adhesive. Take a bucket which is easy to clean, because clean tools are important if you want to do a plastering job. A featheredge can also be used as a Plasterers Darby and with it you can achieve straight plasterboard application.

Keep the plasterers float clean all the time. Go in for a stainless steel float, because the others rust if they are not looked after. The hawk is always used along with the float. The plaster is generally held on the hawk and then it is transferred to the wall or ceiling by using the float.

Mixing is a very important phase in a plastering job. With the help of a mixer drill the mixing plaster can be made easily, especially if the quantity is large. It is possible to do the mixing with a piece of wood as well, but the mixer will make it easier.

There are different types of plaster available, but basically there are two coats for each plastering job. First of all there is a backing coat which is browning or bonding plaster. Plasterboard is a better choice than backing plaster, especially if it is a DIY project. It is followed by the finishing plaster which is applied on top of the plasterboard. This is applied as a final coat.

It is important to remember that plaster is only suitable for internal use, when there is no damp. And the mixing is important, because the water has to be clean and cold and you should remember to add the plaster to the water and not the water to the plaster.

Plasterboard is the most common material used nowadays for finishing off internal walls and ceilings. It comes in various sizes and thicknesses and has many edge finishes. Use smaller sheets, though they are a bit expensive than the larger ones, but the larger ones become difficult to handle.

There are special tools to help you for cutting the plasterboard. If you want to use the direct bond method it is important to know the correct technique how to apply the plasterboard with that method. This method is often called the dot and dab method. Working with plasterboard for the ceiling is different than working for a wall.

Let us look at the final coat or the top coat of plaster. This is the most important coat and this coat of plaster is called a skim. Skimming requires practice, so go about it slowly and follow instructions carefully. Just follow certain basic rules like ensuring the smoothness of the surface, the cleanliness of your buckets and tools. Use two coats of finishing plaster instead of one and start off with a wall, which is a bit hidden in your house and gives you room to experiment.

There are some other jobs which need to be mentioned under DIY plastering. There are various types of plasters, and one of them is Artexing. It is important to practice the Artex patterns before experimenting on your wall. Take the easy patterns and learn also how to remove Artex or the textured patterns. Plaster moldings are often used for plastering jobs, but the fit should be right and it is better if it is done by professionals.

What’s the Correct Thickness for a Concrete Driveway?

If you’re looking to pour your own concrete driveway, or if you are shopping around for quotes from contractors, you may be confused as to how thick your driveway needs to be. This article will discuss driveway thickness.

Weight

How thick the concrete required for a driveway is based on the weight of the vehicles that are going to be using it. Most households with cars, trucks or SUVs can suffice with a concrete slab that is four inches thick. This is based on vehicles weighing 10,000 lbs. or less. To give an example, an average SUV or pickup truck weighs between 4000 and 6000 lbs, and even a boat on a trailer generally isn’t more than 8500.

Where you will see the need for a thicker driveway is if you plan to have heavier vehicles on it. For the average household, that larger vehicle is often an RV. Most RVs start at 10,000 lbs. and go up to 30,000 (which doesn’t necessarily take into account extra weight loaded into it). So if you are looking to find a place for your personal RV, you’ll want to go up to 5 or 6 inches of thickness for your concrete driveway.

Thicker Better for Preventing Cracking?

Concrete will crack. Period. However, thicker doesn’t always mean you are getting a guarantee of less cracking. Generally, cracking is caused by other factors that can relate to thickness, but are not caused by the thickness. For example, as mentioned above, if too much weight is put on a thinner concrete driveway, yes, it can ultimately lead to cracking. Another major cause of cracking is not having a solid base beneath the driveway. Concrete does its best on solid surfaces that have no movement. In areas where the ground is mostly sand or clay, severe cracking is more likely to happen. And, in such cases, a thinner poured driveway would suffer faster than a thicker one. However, a good contractor will know how to lay a proper base to prep the land for the concrete slab, so whether the driveway is four inches or five, precautions have been taken to protect it from excessive cracking. Likewise, the use of wire mesh or rebar (reinforcing bar) in the laying of the concrete will hold the integrity of the concrete longer, regardless of the thickness of the slab.

Price Differences

Although pricing for the job itself has many variables and can fluctuate across the country, it is approximately 20% more concrete cost to go from a four inch thick slab to a five inch thick slab. However, adding that extra inch boosts your driveway’s weight capacity by 50%.

If you do go with the four inch thickness, you’ll save money because that thickness doesn’t require rebar to strengthen it. Most contractors use the above mentioned wire mesh that is considerably cheaper and still very affective.

Arches – Tip #1 to Overcome the Ceiling Height Dilemma in Your Basement Finishing Project

You don’t need much convincing to realize this obvious truth; one challenge common to most basement finishing projects is low ceiling height. Frankly, there is not a national builder around (and very few local builders) who build homes with any regard to future basement finishing.

Aside from your furnace being in the wrong spot, posts littering your rooms, and beams in unfortunate places, this means you’ll need to effectively deal with low ceiling heights.

In a recent article, I suggested 7 top tips for dealing with low ceiling heights (search “The Ceiling Height Dilemma in Your Basement Finishing Project and the 7 Top Tips to Overcome It”).

Today, we’ll discuss the first tip from that article: Arches.

One creative and effective way to overcome ceiling height limitations in your basement finishing project is the creative use of arches. They will be strictly for decoration (no structural importance), so the type of arch used is completely up to you. We seem to use a basic “flat” arch more than anything else today (ask your basement design consultant for details on what a flat arch is).

In my humble opinion, the most functional application of an arch is to hide a beam in your basement. A low beam in the already-low-ceiling of your basement is kind of like adding insult to injury.

Take for example the 8′ basement ceiling (e.g. from the floor of your basement, to the floor joists overhead that support your 1st floor and will be your future basement ceiling). Oftentimes in constructing the home, a beam is used to help support the 1st floor joists. This is typically done by running a steel beam perpendicular and below the floor joists. This means that your 8′ ceiling is now only a little over 7′ for basement finishing purposes.

Major problem right! No one wants a 7′ ceiling! However, there is a solution. Most of the time these beams are placed in areas of the basement with a natural separation between spaces. In other words, the beam is located where a family room could adjoin a hallway, or flex space, etc.

A good basement finishing designer will come up with a plan that uses this natural separation to your advantage. Once you have an effective space design, all that remains is to add a small arch underneath this beam. Now, instead of focusing on the low ceiling height, you and your visitors will “ooh” and “aah” about the arch.

Some basement finishing projects have the addition of a post supporting the beam which supports the 1st floor (adding insult to injury, THEN kicking you while you’re down!). By creating equally sized arches to either side of this post, you can again create an architecturally appealing look that will disguise the problems underneath.

For a video collage of this arch & post solution in action, visit Colorado Basement Finishing T.V.

The key to remember is that you don’t have to be satisfied with what your original builder left you with. By knowing some effective techniques, your basement finishing project can have all the appeal and style that you could dream of.

Building more…

How to Kill Wasps the Easy Way – Eliminate Wasps in No Time and Be Free of Them

There are two kinds of wasps, one that can give you a lot of trouble and one that won’t be bothering you much, and is in fact quite beneficial to your garden. The solitary type don’t make any nests and will take care of annoying pests in your garden. The social wasps, on the other hand, is the one you want to watch out for. If you have those kind of wasps, it can cause you some headache, but don’t worry, we will see some easy ways on how to kill wasps.

As with any pests, precautions and anticipation is a good way to make sure you won’t have a wasp infestation. Wasps all die during cold weather, except for the queen, that goes into hibernation. Once she wakes up, she will look for a nest. This happens at the beginning of spring. If you see a big wasp looking around your house or garage, take no chance and kill it, it is probably a queen looking to make a nest in or around your house. Other useful things you can do is fill up any cracks or holes around your house or in the garden, since it is a favorite nesting place for wasps. Also by sealing garbage, not having any sweet things around your house you decreases the chances of having wasp problems. If you got a wasp nest problem and want to know how to kill wasps, then read on to know how to eliminate wasps.

The best way to eliminate wasps from an underground nest is with kerosene or diesel fuel. The reason is that the toxic fumes will kill them very quickly. The trick is to know of all the holes that the wasps use for their nest. When you know where they are, you have to work during the night or early morning, when most of them are sleeping in the nest. You need to pour the kerosene or diesel fuel and cover the holes as fast as possible, having a partner is ideal. If the holes are all sealed, the toxic vapors will get rid of the entire nest very fast.

For outside nests, such as a paper wasp nest, it’s not difficult either. You will need to work at night also. How to kill wasps without being in danger you might ask. Simple you just need to be well dressed with a few layers to prevent stings. You should also move slowly and get your wasp killing agent ready. Raid is very useful for getting rid of wasps. You should spray the entrance enough that the wasps will get in contact with the chemicals when they go out. If the nest is elevated, use a projectile spray instead, it should reach the nest, since it can spray up to 20 feet. This should take car of your wasp problems.

The 5 Basic Elements of Green Architecture

Sustainable architecture is the practice of designing buildings while taking into consideration sustainable development and environmental growth. It aims to minimize environmental impact of buildings through moderation in the utilization of energy and development space as well as building materials. To be able to strongly promote the practice, there are some basic elements to keep in mind:

Small space

More often than not, large houses consume a tremendous amount of energy. Aside from that, they also need a lot of building materials. To minimize wastefulness, smaller houses are now preferred as these facilitates energy conservation and reduces depletion of natural resources.

Solar energy

A solar-heated house makes it very comfortable to live in. A well-built passive solar energy should be able to provide enough sunlight into the rooms.

Water conservation

In making green buildings or green homes, the use of low water should be highly taken into consideration. Toilets, shower heads, faucet aerators and flow restrictors should be carefully chosen. Others even use drought-tolerant plants in order to minimize water usage.

Renewable energy

A good way to produce electricity while conserving fossil fuel is by making use of the natural powers of the wind, water and the sun.

Natural and local materials

Nature provides us a wide range of materials which we can use to make homes and buildings – mud plasters, lime, glass, bricks, tiles, bamboo, grasses, paper, reeds and natural fibers. Using local materials for construction minimizes transporting costs and hassles. You may also use plants to enhance natural ambiance in your living space. Aside from the ambiance, plants also release oxygen into the air.

These are some of the basic elements of green architecture. Considering green homes and green buildings will not only help you save the environment, it will also help you save on costs, in the long run. Thank you for taking the time to inform yourself about how to build a greener home.

The Many Different Uses of Ring Binders and Lever Arch Files

We all like to try and stay organised so as to make ourselves look professional and conscientious. When others see that we are organised it imposes a positive impression on them and they may look on us in a better light as first impressions are everything. In business or in our professional lives it is important that you keep all paperwork in the one place and with the use of binders and lever arch files you can do exactly that. The benefits of them are numerous and they are not to be underestimated.

Hard wearing

The protective cover used on a ring binder or lever arch file is extremely hard wearing, so whether it gets stored in your bag or left under a pile of other work on a shelf, it is likely to still keep looking good. This also means that you can use it over and over again.

Sizes

Paper comes in all different sizes and so do ring binders as you can usually find an A3 ring binder or A5 ring binder which will allow you to store paper sizes different from the norm.

Personalise

Many binders and files come equipped with a plastic overlay so that you can insert your own artwork inside. You could also state the name of your company and detail the contents inside. The side of the binder or file also usually has a plastic pocket for extra personalisation.

Mobile

The great thing about binders and files is that they are usually pretty lightweight so it means that you can easily carry them about your person. This is especially useful if you use them for business purposes and need to transport them to meetings and conferences as you can keep them safe and secure in your hands when you need them most.

Top Ten Factors in Running a Successful Construction Contractor Business

It is not easy running a construction business. There are many pitfalls and ways to lose money but if you follow some basic steps you can not only make a living but become very wealthy. Many successful construction contractors have learned there are certain things you absolutely must do right all the time and certain skills you must have or acquire in order to make it in this very competitive industry. In this article I will summarize what it takes to be a successful construction contractor in their order of importance.

Most Important Factor: Hands On Experience

Do not even think about starting a construction contractor business unless you have at least five years of broad (meaning general, not specialized) construction experience. The only exception to this is if you intend on specializing in one area and one area only. We call this a niche. Niche’s can be very profitable, but they can also go away, change or be replaced by technology, new products, changes in the industry or societal changes. The best chance for success in the general contractor business is to gain experience doing everything. This general experience has many benefits. It gives you the ability to identify and hire competent individuals, fire incompetent ones, evaluate good work product and identify poor work product. Probably the most important thing it gives you is the ability to transition from being a technician to being a manager. The best experience comes from small to mid-sized construction companies that require you to be a jack of all trades. Larger companies have a tendency to pigeonhole you into niches. That is fine if your business model is a niche, but if you start a general contractor construction business with skills in only a few niche areas, you will fail unless you hire to your weaknesses.

Second Most Important Factor: Outstanding Accounting System

If you do not have a sound accounting system your construction business will eventually fail. This CPA has witnessed this too many times than I care to recount. Sound accounting systems allow you to evaluate whether or not you make a profit on a job by job basis. Going with gut instinct is dangerous and fraught with risk. A sound accounting system helps you identify those things you do right on each job as well as the mistakes you’ve made. Numbers don’t lie. Unfortunately, my experience has shown me that most construction contractors pay little attention to their system of accounting. There is a fear that proper accounting will set the business owner up for higher taxes. Thus, cash received on a job and cash disbursed go unreported in an effort to avoid tax. What a mistake. I don’t care how great your gut feeling is on each job, if you don’t have an accounting of every penny on each job, you can rest assured you are flying blind and losing money on each job. You will go out of business and your family life will suffer. If you decide to start your own business you need to act like a professional business owner and that means creating a sound accounting system. Failed accounting systems lead to litigation, failure and bankruptcy.

Third Most Important Factor: Effective Management

When you have hands on experience in the industry, forged by many years (at least five years) of working in every facet of the construction business, you are better able to make the transition from technician to manager. Effective management requires that you have sound procedures on many aspects of your business. Well-defined work product processes, along with accompanying task-specific checklists, allows you to drill your workers on every aspect of a task within a job. You should have a work product process with accompanying checklists for just about every major task within a job. This eliminates human error and allows you to make corrections before the task is officially completed. It is a construction company owners #1 management tool. You must develop a process for each job and each task. This process must be in writing and stored in a binder for each job, along with the task checklist. The task checklist should be calendarized. Your jobs binder should include the following:

Tab #1 – A copy of the signed contract and any change orders.

Tab #2 – Budget for the job. Budget for each change order.

Tab #3 – Accounting for income and expenses. The income portion would include the contract bid price, monies received either as deposits or as the stages of the project are completed and monies received for change orders.

Tab #4 – Task List Summary.

Tab #5 – Task #1 Process Summary and Checklist.

Tab #6 – Task #2 Process Summary and Checklist.

etc.

Last Tab – Customer sign off letter on completed work along with standard testimonial letter signed by customer, listing customer’s name and contact information along with permission to use the testimonial in marketing and as a reference for prospective customers. You will transfer copies of each testimonial letter to a separate binder that you will take with you to each prospect. This testimonial binder may be the only thing separating you from your competition. It gives assurance to prospects that you take customer satisfaction very seriously and may be the difference maker. It allows prospects an opportunity to reach out to previous customers in order to obtain references. It also shows the prospect your company is very organized and well run. Lastly, have a picture of the before and after on each job in this binder.

Fourth Most Important Factor: Strong Business Partnerships

A stable of competent subcontractors who have many years of experience working together is crucial to the success of a job. Each job is a team effort and having a strong network of competent individuals/businesses available to you for each job, and who understand your businesses processes, will make each job run much more efficiently. Efficiency and competency = profit on each job.

Fifth Most Important Factor: Project Bidding Process

You can be the most skilled, best managed construction company, with a stable of talented subcontractors and still go out of business if you do not have a strong process in place on bidding for each job. You can lose your shirt if you underbid a job. How does this happen? The most common cause of underbidding is not doing your homework and relying on your gut or unverified estimates rather than a fail safe process of checking and double checking each cost within each task. The devil in any construction job is in the details. The bidding process is very much like your business plan for each job. It must identify every task, every cost and each cost must be checked and double checked before bidding on the job. Where many construction contractors go wrong is in estimating the cost of tasks incorrectly. These incorrect estimates are caused by flawed assumptions on the tasks and the associated costs, which is the result of not accurately verifying and then re-verifying every task and every cost. It is a painstaking process but you must get the bid right. Your assumptions on each task must be vetted not once but at least twice. You know the rule: measure twice cut once. This adage is particularly true in the bidding process.

Sixth Most Important Factor: Marketing

Everyone in the construction business understands the importance of referrals. Most of your prospective customers come by way of referral. But referrals are not enough. What should be part of your marketing tool belt?

1. You should have an active web site that includes customer testimonials front and center.

2. You should join a networking group.

3. You should join a civic organization.

4. You should provide valuable assistance to local community non-profit groups (one or two will suffice nicely).

5. You should have a regular process of bidding jobs that are not referral-based

6. You should have a process for direct mailings very week.

7. You should have business cards, stationary, job site signs.

8. You should advertise in the yellow pages or local newspapers.

9. Customer Testimonial Binder (referenced above).

10. You should have brochures.

Seventh Most Important Factor: Stay Current With Technology and Replace Old Equipment/Tools

You must upgrade your equipment and tools to stay current with technological changes. This will not only improve efficiency but also the quality of each job. You must also replace old equipment and tools in order to get each job completed efficiently and on time. You will know when it is time for new equipment and tools when the old equipment and tools begin breaking down at a rate that causes recurring delays. When equipment/tools breakdown it can cause cost overruns and result in late completions. No matter how good the quality of your work is, missing completion dates harms your reputation.

Eighth Most Important Factor: Hire To Your Weaknesses

No matter how much experience you have and how skilled you may be there are certain things each one of us does well and certain things we do badly. More often than not, the things we do well are the things we enjoy doing and the things we do badly are the things we hate doing. A skilled business owner will hire people who do have strengths in areas the business owner has weaknesses. As an example, one of my clients nearly went out of business because he did not like having to make calls to collect receivables. My advise to him? Hire someone who is expert in collections. He took me up on my advise and eventually, his collections expert, became his partner. His business is thriving now. Hire to your weakness and watch your business boom.

Ninth Most Important Factor: Document Mistakes and Failures

This should be incorporated into your Job Process/Task List Binder. You must learn from your mistakes. Mistakes should not be considered anything other than an experience learned. Document those bad experiences and incorporate them into your job process and task list binder so as to never repeat them again.

Tenth Most Important Factor: Change Orders

Most contracts include language regarding change orders. Change orders are caused by many factors, which is beyond the scope of this article, but let me be clear in saying that you must cost out every change order as if you were costing out the job. You must then process the change order (list each task and assign a date of completion for each task) and attach a task checklist for each new task resulting from the change order. Lastly, you must get the customer to understand and sign off on the change order or you will not collect your full price for the job. Many construction contractors unfortunately do a poor job in addressing change orders. They are reluctant to highlight it with the customer and gloss over it in an effort to avoid confrontation. The reason? The reality of change orders are not addressed up front when you are bidding on the job. Customers only see the price you gave them and that is in the contract. You must address the reality of a change order occurring at the outset of the bidding process and before the contract is signed. If a customer understands from the very beginning that change orders do occur often and that a change order will increase the price of the job, you will be less shy about confronting the customer when it does occur.

Good Team Building Techniques Successfully Build a Team’s Spirit

Techniques that successfully build a team spirit are an important key to continued business growth. A good team has a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts with members who have commitment to shared goals and who understand their role within the team. This article asks 5 questions whose answers will provide team building techniques that can help to achieve a successful and coherent team.

1. Is each team member’s role clearly defined and established within the team?

This is part of the basic groundwork. Each member needs to know what role they have within the team so that they can understand what is expected of them. They also need to know what the roles of all the other team members are and how they fit in to the overall picture.

In this way each team member can build up a picture of where they stand and where each other person stands. This is a common distinguishing trait of all successful teams. The members know where they fit in and where the others fit in. This can also help to remove conflict within the team.

2. Is there a way to avoid or resolve possible conflicts arising within the team?

There needs to be team building techniques in place to eradicate conflicts in a team. A team must be coherent in order to be successful. It is usually best when individual team members know that they alone are not responsible for resolving conflicts involving themselves. They need to know that there is an overall policy to deal with such matters as and when they arise.

3. Are there adequate channels of communications open to every team member?

Communication is one of the best team building techniques. It covers just about everything. Far too many problems arise because someone doesn’t know something that they should know. Keep all channels of communication between members open at all times.

Beware of information overload though. Sometimes those who receive too much information simply shut off. This creates a situation that is every bit as bad as having too little information.

4. Are team members allowed to feel good about team successes?

A job should be more than just a job. Each member should feel part of something vital and important. This is where commitment and engagement comes in. When team members feel an important part of a team they should also feel that they have the right to celebrate any major success that a team has.

After all, they are the reason for the success. Each individual is an important cog in the overall wheel and this fact should be recognised. The celebration of a team’s success can be a simple affair, perhaps just an announcement saying “well done” to everyone. It can of course be something much grander.

5. Does the team have a positive attitude in general?

A positive attitude is important to success. Seeing the glass as half-full is better than seeing it as half-empty. A positive attitude, especially coming from team leaders, will spur on all team members and contribute to the over all success of the team. Make sure that all criticism has a positive edge and always find something good about any failure.

7 Reasons Why The CAGED System Sucks

WARNING: The CAGED system is crippling your guitar playing progress. By learning the scales with this system you are likely to develop these problems in your guitar playing:

Problem #1: Your Guitar Speed Is Going To Suffer Tremendously

Being a fast guitar player is difficult for a lot of guitarists because of many reasons. So the CAGED system isn’t necessarily the only reasons why your guitar speed is suffering. However, if you are using the CAGED system and you’re also struggling to play guitar as fast as you’d like, here’s why:

With the CAGED system, you are learning scale patterns that contain both 2 note-per-string and 3 note-per-string fragments. This will cause 3 problems that interconnect to kill your guitar speed:

A. Since you have to learn a brand NEW picking pattern for each CAGED scale, it takes you longer to memorize. Your speed is being limited mentally.

B. The awkward scale shapes in the CAGED system make your picking hand’s job a LOT harder so playing fast is out of the question. Your speed is being limited physically.

C. Since you are limiting yourself because of the other 2 reasons, proper right-hand picking technique will be impossible for you. Now your guitar speed has been limited in yet another way.

Instead you should start using 3 note-per-string scale patterns that use 3 notes on EVERY string. This solves all 3 of the above problems because 1) you now only have to learn one picking pattern to play every major and minor scale and 2) 3 note-per-string patterns allow you implement directional picking technique so you can increase your guitar speed exponentially.

Problem #2: You Will Struggle To Easily Improvise Guitar Solos Using The Whole Fretboard

One of the biggest problems that I see develop in my new guitar students that use the CAGED system is the ability to solo all over the neck of the guitar, fluently. This problem can be very hard to correct in CAGED system users because the CAGED system is far from a complete system of scales. In fact, it’s not even complete for just the major scales. CAGED teaches the major scales based on FIVE different scale patterns that are based on chord shapes. The problem here is that each major scale is actually made up of SEVEN different interconnected shapes. You can see how this would be problematic. By leaving out those 2 shapes, CAGED leaves you with only 71% of the available scale shapes to play in any given major key. Does that sound ‘complete’ to you? Didn’t think so.

What makes it even worse is that the 5 shapes that CAGED actually does use make it impossible for you to easily convert these scales from major to natural minor, harmonic minor, melodic minor or modal keys. If you want to learn these scales you are forced to abandon CAGED completely and memorize completely new patterns that are totally different from the CAGED box patterns.

Contrast these limitation of CAGED with the 3 note-per-string system of playing scales that I mentioned above. This system makes it incredibly easy to see which notes of the major scale are being adjusted or omitted to create the other scales. Using this system, your total mastery of how scales musically work becomes much easier to achieve.

Problem #3: Your Guitar Solos Will Bore People To Death

If you want to play great guitar solos, don’t use the CAGED system. Let me explain. Guitar players who solo using the CAGED system typically play in one box at a time and the result is extremely boring (worse yet, the transitions between the boxes are painfully obvious). The problem here is that, by using the CAGED system, you are limiting your view of the fretboard. Instead of just looking at in different vertical boxes (from the 6th string to the 1st string), you need to also learn to view it as one continuous horizontal from the 1st fret to the last fret.

Viewing the fretboard in the boxes is the reason that guitarists fail to play awesome solos using the CAGED system because:

  1. The CAGED scale shapes are limited to 5 patterns that make it impossible to fully map out the fretboard horizontally from the nut to the highest fret.
  2. Without the 5 shapes of CAGED the user is lost and can’t visualize the scales on the fretboard anymore.

Using the 3 note-per-string system will make playing creative guitar solos much easier. Implementing this system is one of the reasons that so many of the students that take guitar lessons with me have become MUCH better guitar players so fast.

Problem #4: Your Use Of Arpeggios Will Suffer, Regardless Of Your Musical Genre

It doesn’t matter if you play rock, metal, or blues – your ability to play arpeggios is one of the keys to learning to play seamless and creative guitar solos. Why is this? Because arpeggios are simply chords that are played one note at a time. So the speed at which you play them (or the tone you play them with) doesn’t matter. Arpeggios are used in EVERY style of music because CHORDS are used in every style. You need to be able to understand how these arpeggios fit into the scale positions you use for soloing and be able to VISUALIZE this. This will help you find the best notes to play over each chord (more on this below). This applies equally to all styles of music.

The CAGED system will NOT help you achieve either of these goals because it bases itself around the major open chords that move up and down the fretboard. While this may work for playing open chords, non-open chord arpeggios become nearly impossible to play under this system. The resulting major chord arpeggios that happen in the CAGED system are awkward to play at high speeds. You will notice this especially after you learn the standard arpeggio shapes for sweep picking.

Even worse, if you work with a guitar teacher with experience you won’t be able to use the shapes he/she teaches you within the CAGED system. Those shapes won’t work within the CAGED system because the notes in arpeggios follow the logic of how the scales WORK in music. They are not meant to fit into the random 5 chord shapes of CAGED. This creates a disconnect between your ability to visualize the fretboard and will thus limit your ability to creatively use your musical skills.

This causes CAGED users to think that music theory is useless or difficult to understand when actually the problem doesn’t lie with music theory.

Problem #5: You Guitar Solos Will Be Emotionless – And I Can Prove It

If you use the CAGED system, you will not be able to do the most important things that give your guitar solos emotion:

1. Understand your emotional options on the guitar when you are playing guitar solos over chord progressions.

2. Learn to take advantage of all of these options when you are soloing over each chord and apply them to you guitar solos.

Since the CAGED system only focuses on visualizing the major chords and it completely ignores other chord forms (minor, diminished, 7th, etc.), it is very hard to target the notes of those kinds of chords when you’re playing a guitar solo. This results in you haphazardly playing notes in a CAGED scale shape and just hoping your solo is emotional. This obviously makes writing emotional guitar solos almost impossible.

Problem #6: Your Overall Songwriting Ability Will Plummet

Another huge problem with CAGED system users is the inability to use chords in a creative way to write songs. This mainly stems from the fact that the 5 major chords that make up the CAGED system (C major A major G major E major D major) are taught as if they are musically connected in ANY way when in reality none of these chords even belong together in any standard major or minor key. You can use these 5 chords in your own music of course, but not understanding how to use them together to make GOOD songs means that your songwriting ability will greatly decrease.

Problem #7: You Will Not Be Able To Effectively Communicate With Other Musicians

The CAGED system is promoted for guitar players only. Therefore, if you are a CAGED user and you plan on interacting with other musicians to write songs or form a band, I strongly suggest you ditch CAGED altogether because you will not be able to communicate with anyone who doesn’t play guitar and they will have a really hard time communicating with you too.

Even though I have thoroughly explained all of the reasons that the CAGED system sucks to the students that study guitar with me, there are always a few that try to defend the CAGED system:

Pro-CAGED Argument #1: “It can‘t hurt to know the CAGED system because all systems of learning scales are equally valid. The more systems you know for playing scales, the better guitar player you will be.

My response: It’s not worth your time to learn the CAGED system. Just because you can learn something, does NOT mean that you should. If you want to become a great guitar player fast you need to learn to use your practice time in a very effective way and not do any unnecessary work. The limitations of CAGED are obvious. Unless you really don’t have a better way to spend your time, you should be focusing on reaching your musical goals in the most efficient way possible.

Pro-CAGED Argument #2: “I can easily modify the CAGED system so that I adjust for all of its limitations. So it is fine to learn it, if it‘s correctly taught.

My answer: Oh sure, you can do anything you want if you make enough changes, just like with enough time, energy and frustration you could turn a Volkswagen Beetle car into a Mercedes Benz S Class sedan:) Adjusting for the numerous restrictions of CAGED wastes an enormous amount of time you could have spent becoming a better guitar player by learning a far more effective and efficient system for playing scales in the first place.

Pro-CAGED Argument #3: “___________ (fill in the blank with any guitar player‘s name) uses the CAGED system all the time and he/she plays great! So the system can‘t be all that bad if he/she uses it.

My response: First of all, if you can’t prove that he/she actually does use the CAGED system then I would suggest that you stop believing everything you read. Instead, start being more skeptical of advice given by people that haven’t proven themselves to be a skilled guitar teacher. Secondly, even if you could become a great guitar player using the CAGED system, that doesn’t make CAGED the best way to get there. So make a choice: Choose the fastest, easiest and most proven method for learning scales on guitar or struggle to achieve musical greatness against a broken system.

Understanding how the CAGED system holds you back from being a great guitarist is just the first step. Let me show you how easy it CAN be to reach your musical goals and become the guitarist that you have always wanted to be. Make sure you check out these online guitar lessons and tell me more about your guitar playing goals.