Thursday, October 29, 2009

How to Manage A Bad Boss

Bad supervisors come in a variety of models. For example, there’s the Micromanager who nitpicks about the font size in your e-mails, there’s the Royal Pain who treats you like a personal assistant, there’s the Office Politician who takes credit for all your hard work, and there’s the Lead Grunt who was only promoted because of seniority and shoots down any attempt at change. When you manage a bad boss, it pays to know which model stands before you. No matter what the specific flaws are, bad bosses all have one thing in common: they can’t be ignored. Complying with your supervisor’s abusive behavior or working around incompetent decisions is tantamount to saying that these poor management techniques work on you, and it’s only a matter of time before this affects your health and self-esteem. Here are five tips to help you when you manage a bad boss.
Always keep your cool
No matter how frustrated you get when you have to manage a bad boss, it’s important that you remain calm and composed at all times. Getting angry in front of your employer or your colleagues makes you look like the bad guy, and it may affect your professional reputation. Keep in mind that people usually don’t realize that they’re being bad bosses; a simple, non-confrontational observation is often all that’s needed to make them reconsider their approach. If your supervisor is of the Royal Pain variety, try casually repeating his or her unreasonable request as if to confirm it: “You’d like me to find your daughter a camel for her birthday before six o’clock tonight?”
Dress your issues as business concerns
When you manage a bad boss and express your misgivings, treat the conversation like any other business meeting. In other words, keep the tone neutral and be solution-minded. Instead of complaining about what your supervisor is doing wrong, discuss management changes that can improve the department as a whole. Micromanagers are particularly receptive to this strategy because it allows them to feel like they’re still in control of everything. You should also avoid bringing up personal issues. Bad bosses, especially Lead Grunts, often have trouble with the notion that maintaining employee morale is part of their responsibilities. As a result, your complaints may be perceived as petulant.
Communicate in writing
When you manage a bad boss you'll be required you to always follow up any verbal agreement with an e-mail confirmation, and make sure to CC at least one other person in the company. In fact, if you have an important request or proposal to make, it’s best to do it entirely in writing, especially if your boss is an Office Politician. Since written communication is considered official record, your supervisor is more likely to pay attention to your comments. You’re also covering your ass in case anything goes wrong and your boss tries to blame you. Similarly, you should keep a private journal to record the date of every conflict or incident and detail the respective actions you and your supervisor have taken. This will come in handy if you need to make a formal complaint.
Keep the matter private
Discretion is paramount when you manage a bad boss. You absolutely do not want to confront your supervisor in public, as they will (Micromanagers in particular) go out of their way to put you back in your place if they feel that you’re trying to challenge their authority in front of coworkers. You should also avoid venting to your colleagues -- even if they seem to agree with you. The last thing you want is for your boss to find out what you really think of him through office gossip, which will turn a professional conflict into a personal one. By the same token, you should never denounce your boss to his supervisor. Remember that upper management is under no obligation to keep your complaint anonymous.
Don’t compromise your job performance
Don’t botch your work just to get back at your boss; it’s your professional reputation that you’d be throwing away. Ask yourself: If the conflict were to come to a head, would upper management be more likely to believe the person they trusted enough to make supervisor or an employee who has been slacking off these last few months? If you’re dealing with an Office Politician, it’s crucial you maintain a spotless record. Depending on how tense the situation has become, your boss may be looking for an excuse to get rid of you. If you’re having trouble staying motivated, get a more experienced employee to mentor you and expose you to new challenges. This person might even be in a position to shield you from some office politics.
Get up, stand up... for your rights
If all else fails, be prepared to discuss the issue with human resources (HR), though you may have to wait a while before you see results. Also, note that this should only be done as a last resort. Employees who keep coming back to HR are often branded as troublemakers. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should suffer in silence for the rest of your days. What people often forget is that staying in a toxic environment too long can be as damaging to your career as quitting on a whim, and it’s only a matter of time before your stressful office situation starts affecting your personal life. There’s nothing wrong with fighting for a better work environment as long as you do it with tact and forethought.

Monday, October 19, 2009

How To Promote and Advertise Your Web Site

There are literally thousands of things you can do to promote and advertise your Web site, here are just a few I have found to work for me.
Tell your audience what kind of support they'll get after they buy. It could be free consulting, tech support, free servicing, etc. This may also answer some of their buying questions ahead of time. People don't want to buy products without knowing you will be there to help if they have problems.
2. Ask people at the end of your copy why they decided not to buy. This will give you new ideas on how to produce ad copy that's more profitable. Have a web form or e-mail link in place so they can answer you. You may find out they don't like your guarantee or graphics. It could be anything.
3. Think of ways to get your site or business in the the news. You could sponsor a fundraiser, break a world record, hold a major event, etc. Simply write a press release about what you've accomplished, then send it to media outlets that cater to your target audience.
4. Hold a contest on your Web site. Give other web sites the option of offering it to their visitors. This'll multiply your advertising all over the Internet. It would become a viral contest. Of course the contest must either be ongoing or held regularly so you could allow other online publishers to offer it to their visitors or subscribers.
5. Tell your potential customers that your ordering system is highly secure. Also reassure them that you take every effort to protect them. People want to feel they are safe online. They want to know that you care about their well-being. Tell them all about what you currently do for them to make them feel more secure.
6. Carry business cards with you wherever you go. Have your Web address printed on them. You can hand them out to anyone you meet. Just think of all the people you meet on a regular basis: grocery clerks, post office workers, bag boys, family members, friends, salesmen/women, etc.
7. Contact national radio stations to ask them if they are looking for guest speakers. Tell them your area of expertise; maybe they'll book you for a show. Of course you would want to contact targeted stations and shows which would want to know more about you and your area of expertise.
8. Join clubs related to your area of business. You could trade leads with other businesses. Learn new ways to run your business and sell your products. You could also create your own online business club. You could provide private chat rooms, message boards, articles, etc.
9. Think of a domain name for your Web site that's easy to remember. It should be related to what your business does, sells or provides. If there aren't any business names available, use your actual birth name. You could at least brand yourself. Your own name will give you credibility.
10. Position your Web site at the top of pay-per-click search engines. You will only pay your set amount for each click-through you get to your web site. Just make sure your profits will pay for your advertising cost. If they won't, maybe you could share a web site with another related business and split the costs.
11. Allow your visitors or customers to increase your traffic or sales. Ask them how you can improve your business, Web site or product. You can ask them at your Web site, in your e-zine, on your message board, in your chat room, in your guest book, in your product packages, etc.
12. Team up with other e-zines that have the same target audience. Combine subscriber bases and then publish one e-zine together to increase subscribers. You could all include your ads and announcements in the e-zine. You could also take turns for the top advertising space.
13. Swap endorsement advertisements with other Web sites. Endorsement ads usually pull more sales and traffic than regular advertisements. People have taught themselves to ignore advertisements because they see hundreds of them every day. Endorsements usually don't look or sound like normal ads.
14. Outsource part of your workload to save time and money. You can spend more of your time and money promoting your business. You'll save money on employee costs, space costs, training costs, etc. Keep the work you enjoy doing to keep you motivated and ship out the work you don't like.
15. Include a signature file on all the e-mails you send out. Provide your business name, phone number, e-mail and web address, etc. Also include a brief blurb for your business or the product you're selling. For example, you could say, “How To Wash Your Car In Two Minutes or Less!”
16. Use pictures or graphics on your Web site that support the product you're selling. They could give your visitors a clearer vision of your product, the benefits of the product, people's emotion when they own the product, etc. You could also use “before” and “after” pictures.
17. Create a friendly, long-term relationship with all your customers. Practice good customer service and follow-up with them on a regular basis. You could follow-up with gifts, greeting cards, free things, coupons, special offers, reminders, your e-zine, helpful advice, etc.
18. Create strategic alliances with other Web sites. You could exchange banner ads, sell each other's products as back-end products, cross-promote, etc. You could also create a web site together and promote it on your separate web sites. You would both just split the costs and profits.
19. Increase the perceived value of your product to skyrocket your sales. Add on free bonuses, after- sale services or an affiliate program. Other factors that would help are: your own domain name, a professional web design, a good-looking product graphic and persuasive ad copy.
20. Give customers a discount on their total order to increase sales. You could give them a discount for ordering over a set dollar or product amount. For example, you could say, “Buy over $39 worth of products and get a 20% discount on your order!” Another example, “Get a 15% discount if you order 3 or more products!”
21. Allow your visitors to reprint the content on your Web site. Just ask them to include your resource box and a link to your site in exchange. This will turn your content into a traffic machine and the external links will help increase your ranking in some search engines.
22. Provide a free contest or sweepstake at your Web site. It's a fact, people like to win things. If you can fulfill that need, people will visit. You can also attract them to revisit by holding one every week or month. You could also start an opt-in list for people who enter your contest or sweepstake so you can follow-up with them regularly.
23. Save time and money by using ad submitters. You will reach a larger part of your target audience far more quickly than by manually submitting your ad. You should manually submit your ad to the most popular web sites so you have a better chance of being listed or placed in a good position.
24. Create a good first impression. You will not be able to sell very many products if your visitors think your web site looks unprofessional. Use crisp graphics, attractive color combinations, a readable text size, even spacing, even margins, bold headlines, indent benefits, etc.
25. Stop procrastinating and start finishing all your business tasks. Do one at a time. Don't get caught up thinking that you can never get them all done. Make a list. Do the easiest or most crucial one first and move down the list. Cross off each task as you complete it.
26. Develop a relationship with all your visitors and customers. Tell them how much you appreciate them visiting your web site or buying your product. Invite them to online and offline events like free chat room classes, parties, dinner gatherings, business events, etc.
27. Hire a business coach to help improve you and your business. That could help increase your sales, motivate you, balance your workload, etc. It would be like renting an extra brain. You would have double the thinking power.
28. Stay away from being too comfortable with your income or life. You should always be making new goals for yourself and developing new sales ideas. The world keeps changing and if you pause too long, you might miss out. You only live once.
29. Make sure you don't become a workaholic. Your mind needs time away from your business life. This will help your brain think clearly while working. The best time to get profitable ideas is when you're not thinking about them. They just pop into your brain.
30. Create and follow short/long-term goals for your business. The short-term goals can create early success and the long-term goals can create future success. Design each goal so they all add up to your ultimate goal. Don't make your goals too unrealistic otherwise depression and frustration could move you farther away from them.

Good Luck and get busy promoting!

Monday, October 12, 2009

How to Play Guitar In 14 Days

With the proper guidance and focus you can learn to play guitar in only 14 days. Do one step a day for 2 weeks and after 14 days you will know how to play guitar. Some of these steps will require that you do a little search engine research or visit a “free guitar lessons” site like my own. Do one step each day.

Step 1
Learn the names of all your guitar strings. Starting with the lowest or thickest string and moving across your guitar strings are E –A –D –G –B – E . Play each string and say its name while you play it. I find it helpful if you “sing” the name along with the guitar string.
Step 2
Learn how to hold a guitar pick. Either Google “how to hold a guitar pick” or visit my website to learn. Today, practice holding your pick correctly and randomly playing each string on your guitar while “singing” its name.
Step 3
Learn how to fret a guitar string. Your finger needs to be just behind the fret to maybe halfway between the fret you want to play and the next fret towards the tuning pegs. When you pick the guitar string there should be no buzzing of the string anywhere. Practice playing and fretting your strings at random places all over your guitar neck. Work on it until you get a nice clear tone.
Step 4
Learn how to tune a guitar. Using either an electronic tuner or by tuning a guitar to itself, today learn how to tune your guitar properly. Find as many ways as possible to tune it by searching the Internet. Learn which frets on the lower strings are the same notes as the open string above it. For example: the 5th fret on the E string is the same note as the open A string.
Step 5
Learn how to play an open G Chord. The open G chord uses all six strings and is one of the easiest chords to form. There are two acceptable ways of forming this chord: one that use your pinky and one that does not. Find and practice playing this chord both ways. The practicing point here is to fret the strings that need fretted while allowing the open strings to ring out. This requires a nice arch in your fingers.
Step 6
Learn all the notes on your low and high E strings. Starting with the low E string open, play each fret and say the name of the note. Working your way up the guitar neck the fretted notes are these: F – F#(sharp) or Gb( flat)- G – G# or Ab - A –A# or Bb -B – C – C# or Db - D - D# or Eb – E and repeat. Do the same for the high E, the thinnest string, the notes are the same.
Step 7
Learn how to do alternate picking on your guitar. Alternate picking is when you pick a guitar string going down and then the next note or string you pick you pick going up. This is the best way to learn guitar picking as it requires the least amount of effort and is also the fastest way to pick a guitar. Practice alternate picking on open strings starting with just one string then randomly moving from one string to the next picking down one string and then up on the next.
Step 8
Learn how to play the open C Chord. The open C chord usually uses all 6 strings although some guitar players don’t play the lowest string. There are 2 generally accepted methods of playing this chord, find them both and practice strumming this chord today again making sure that your open strings ring clearly.
Step 9
Learn all the notes on your A string and D string. Like you did with your two E strings, start with the open strings and then say each note or sing it, as you work your way up the guitar neck on both your A and D strings. Note that the 6th fret on your E string is the same note as the 1st fret on your A string. Same is true for your A and D strings.
Step 10
Learn how to play an open D chord. The open D chord requires a little more finger dexterity than the open G and C chords. You will only need to strum the top 5 or 4 strings to play this chord. Practice playing this chord without hitting your low E string.
Step 11
Learn how to switch from your open G chord to your open C chord. Today you will practice switching between your open G chord and your open C chord. Since there is more than one way to play each chord, practice the various combinations until you find the one that works best for you. Practice going back and forth between the two chords, randomly selecting how many times you play each chord. Go as slow as you have to.
Step 12
Learn all the notes on your G and B strings. Just like we did before, however notice that even though the 6th fret on your D string matches the first fret on your G string that it’s the 5th fret on the G string that matches the 1st fret on your B string.
Step 13
Learn to switch from your open G chord and your D chord. Today you need to practice switching between your open G chord and your open D chord, like we did with the G and C chords.
Step 14
Play a song. Ok now we’re going to tie it all together by playing a little guitar song. Nothing fancy, but we need to finish the day knowing how to play guitar. Strum the chords we learned previously in the following pattern, starting with simple light strumming. Once you have the pattern down, try and fancy up the strumming a bit. Play the G chord 16 times (tap your foot along to count), then the C chord 8 times, the G chord 8 times, the D chord 8 times, and the G chord 8 times again. This is the entire pattern. When you finish start it over from the beginning. This should sound like a familiar song to you. And guess what? You’re playing the guitar.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How to Make Friends

There's a certain beauty in being a lone wolf. You have more time to do things you want to do, like take introspective walks, read books, write [[Create Instant Romantic Poetry], and other solitary endeavors. If you want to diversify your options, though, there are literally billions of potential friends in the world. What's more, many of these people want to make friends just as much as you do. So consider these suggestions to meet people and form strong, lasting friendships.
Spend more time around people. If you want to make friends, you first need to put yourself out there somehow. Friends seldom come knocking on your door while you sit at home watching TV. Join a club with people who have common interests. You don't necessarily have to have a lot of common interests with people in order to make friends with them. In fact, some of the most rewarding friendships are between two people who don't have much in common at all, but if you have something in common with people, it can make it a lot easier to start a conversation and plan activities together.
Use the web but get out! You can join any group or just start your own. If you don't know of a specific topic, try searching for just a location. It's a great way to meet new local people!
Join a sports team. A common misconception about this is that you have to be really good at playing a particular sport in order to make friends with others on the team, but not all teams are so competitive. As long as you enjoy the sport and support your teammates, joining a local team with a laid-back attitude could be a great way to make new friends.
Volunteer. Volunteering is a great way for people of all ages to meet others. By working together you build bonds with people, and you might meet others who have a passion for changing things the way you do—a common cause.
Talk to people. You can join a club, go to school, or go to church, and you still won't make friends if you don't actually talk to people. By the same token, you don't have to be involved with an organization to talk to people, and any time you talk to someone, you have a chance at making a lasting friend. You can talk to anybody: the clerk at the video store, the person sitting next to you on the bus, or the person in front of you on the lunch line. Don't be too picky. Most conversations will be a dead-end of sorts--when you may never talk to that person again, or you just remain acquaintances--but once in a while you'll actually make a friend.
Make eye contact and smile. If you have an unfriendly countenance, people are less likely to be receptive to your friendship. Look approachable by not squinting (get some glasses), frowning or appearing blankly deadpan, such expressions may look troubled or disinterested.
Start a conversation. There are many ways to do this; a comment about your immediate environment (The weather is a classic: "At least it's not raining like last week!"), a request for help ("Can you help me carry a few boxes, if you have a minute?" or "Can you help me decide which one of these is a better gift for my mom?") or a compliment ("That's a nice car." or "I love your shoes."). Follow up immediately with a related question: Do you like this warm weather? What kinds of gifts do you normally buy for your mom? Where did you get shoes like that?
Make small talk. Keep the conversation light and cheery. Even if you're complaining about something, make sure it's something you're both dissatisfied with, and emphasize the positive—how such a situation can be avoided in the future, or alternatives. Bounce a few words back and forth for a little bit.
Introduce yourself towards the end of the conversation. It can be as simple as saying "Oh, by the way, my name is...". Once you introduce yourself, the other person will typically do the same. Remember his or her name.
Initiate a get-together. You can chat your heart out but it won't get you a friend if you don't open up the opportunity for another conversation or meeting. This is especially important if you meet someone who you aren't otherwise likely to meet again. Seize the day!
If you've discovered that the person you're talking to has a common interest, ask him or her more about it and, if appropriate, whether they get together with others (in a club, for example) to pursue this interest. If so, this is a perfect opportunity to ask about joining them. If you clearly express interest (when? where? can anyone come?) they'll probably invite you. If you have a club, band, church, etc. that you think they might enjoy, take the opportunity to give them your number or email address and invite them to join you.
Ask them out for lunch or coffee. That will give you a better opportunity to talk and get to know each other a little bit better. A good way to extend yourself is to say: "Hey, well, I've got to go, but if you ever want to talk over lunch or coffee or anything like that, let me give you my number/e-mail address." This gives the person the opportunity to contact you; they may or may not give you their information in return, but that's fine. Maybe they don't have time for new friends—don't take it personally! Just offer your contact info to whoever seems to be potentially a good friend, and eventually somebody will get in touch.
Don't do anything to pressure someone into being friends with you. Never chide acquaintances for failing to invite you to a party, for example; don't call someone repeatedly or stop by uninvited (unless you have established that stopping by unannounced is o.k.); and refrain from overstaying your welcome anywhere. In general, take friendship slowly, and don't try to force intimacy to grow quickly; the move from acquaintance to friend can take a long time. It's understandable to want more of a good thing, but try to err on the side of less. If you are not sure about the pace of your new friendship, check in with your friend and ask directly. Too much, too fast can be scary or intimidating, and not everybody is able to say "Slow down..." - instead, they may run the other way!
Be a good friend. Once you've started spending time with potential friends, remember to do your part (i.e. initiating some of the activities, remembering birthdays, asking how the other person is feeling) or else the friendship will become unbalanced and an uneasiness or distance is likely to arise.
Be reliable. If you and your friend agree to meet somewhere, don't be late, and do not stand them up. If you're not going to make it on time or make it at all, call them as soon as you realize it. Apologize and ask to reschedule. Don't make them wait for you unexpectedly; it's rude, and it is certainly not a good way to launch a potential friendship. When you say you'll do something, do it. Be someone that people know that they can count on.
Be a good listener. Many people think that in order to be seen as "friend material" they have to appear very interesting. Far more important than this, however, is the ability to show that you're interested in others. Listen carefully to what people say, remember important details about them (their names, their likes and dislikes), ask questions about their interests, and just take the time to learn more about them. You don't want to be the guy or girl that always has a better story than anyone else or that changes the subject abruptly instead of continuing the flow of conversation. These people appear too wrapped up in themselves to be good friends--"one-ups-man-ship" is a put down.
Be trustworthy. One of the best things about having a friend is that you have someone to whom you can talk about anything, even secrets that you hide from the rest of the world. The key to being a good confidante is the ability to keep secrets, so it's no secret that you shouldn't tell other people things that were told to you in confidence. Before people even feel comfortable opening up to you, however, you need to build trust. Be honest about yourself and your beliefs, and don't gossip about others or spread rumors or they will think you like stories better than friends.
Be there. You've probably heard of fair-weather friends. They're the ones who are happy to be around you when things are going well, but are nowhere to be found when you really need them. Part of being a friend is being prepared to make sacrifices of your time and energy in order to help out your friends. If a friend needs help with an unpleasant chore, or if he or she just needs a shoulder to cry on, be there.
Choose your friends wisely. As you befriend more people, you may find that some are easier to get along with than others. While you always give people the benefit of the doubt, sometimes you realize that certain friendships are unhealthy, such as if a person is obsessively needy or controlling towards you, constantly critical, or introducing dangers or threats into your life. If this is the case, ease your way out of the friendship as gracefully as possible. Preoccupy yourself with other things, such as a new voluteer opportunity, so that you can honestly say that you don't have enough time in your schedule to spend time with them (but don't substitute their time for time with other friends; they may notice and become jealous, and more drama will ensue). Cherish those friends you make who are a positive influence in your life, and do your best to be a positive influence in theirs.

How to Make a Website

Having trouble making your own website and don't know where to start? Read on!

Think of idea for your new website. If you already know what you want to make your website about, skip this step. Search other band sites for layout ideas. Brainstorm and write down all of your ideas, no matter how ridiculous they may seem. There's no better place than the Internet to turn an idea into gold. You can also get help by searching the web with "website ideas".
Identify your market. What kinds of people would each of your website ideas serve? Some websites, like Yahoo or Google, are as general as it gets, while other sites, like Weebles, serve a very specific bunch. Write down the target market next to each of the ideas on your list. Conduct market research--Who is your audience? What do they do? How old are they? What are their other interests? All of this information can help you make your website more useful to you.
Do keyword research to determine if other people are searching for your topics and learn more about your potential clients. There are many free keyword tools to help you get more information about your topic. You will need to find keywords that are in demand (people are looking for it) yet have some chance of finding your site. Like a site on web hosting is too broad of a topic. Forum webhosting is a little better (narrower) topic.
Figure out your commitment. How much time and money are you willing to put into your website? You can start and run a website for free, but the more money you want to make from your site, the more time and money you'll have to invest. If you do not care too much about making money (like if you're just interested in showing off your dried bug collection) you can get away with free web hosting and sporadic maintenance.
Content sites will require less investment, but you will also face more competition, since anyone can start a content site. To make money from this kind of site, you provide information and generate income from the traffic you receive through advertising. The trick also will be to 'spin' your content and use specific keywords to narrow down your topic and write high quality content directed to specific people searching for those specific keywords.
E-commerce sites, which sell products, will need more maintenance and attention. You will also need to think about shipping, sales, order form security, inventory updates, and everything that a person with an offline storefront would have to manage.
You can also sell other people's products which will let you make money without investing in any products or worrying about shipping.
Narrow down your list. Which ideas stand to make the most profits? Which ideas require the most commitment? Which ideas look like they'd be fun to pursue? You will be spending time working on your website, so choose the idea you are most passionate about (that is also profitable and practical for you).
Register a domain name (one that's easy to remember and spell) and choose a web host. The best domain name also includes your main keywords and some variation of what solution you provide. You can use a domain availability tool to find an available domain name. For more complicated websites, be willing to shell out the extra bucks; or, you can opt for a free web hosting, which will probably mean having a URL like and have ads all over your website. Read the fine print.
Research online website building services - you may wish to learn HTML or CSS code, but there are other ways to make a site for people more familiar with desktop publishing software.
Build your website. Here you have a few different options.
Get a website-building program and do it yourself. While this might work for your dried bug page, if you are unsure of your design eye and ability, then it's probably not the best choice if you're trying to make a sharp, professional impression (especially if you're trying to get people to part with their money).
Learn a programming language (or two, or three) and build a website from scratch.
HTML is incredibly easy to learn, and if you are up to it, you will be able to tweak your web design any way you want, and you would not have to pay anybody else to update or change your site.
XHTML is the new web language set by W3C's standards. Almost identical to HTML, it follows a stricter set of rules for marking up information - what this means, for the most part, is minor changes to the way you write code.
CSS, which stands for "Cascading Style Sheets", gives more flexibility for styling the HTML.
A browser sided scripting language, such as JavaScript, allows you to make your page interactive.
A server sided scripting language (PHP, ASP with JavaScript or VB Script or Python) can be used to make things on your site move and edit or create forums.
Wordpress is another great option for building website. Wordpress is a free application that can be installed on your web server and make updating and organizing content very easy.
AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is a technique of using a browser sided language and a server sided language to make the page get new information from the server without refreshing the page, often greatly reducing user wait time and vastly improving the user's experience but increasing bandwidth usage. Think of the possibilities: you could probably make a web based instant messaging service!
Hire a professional. This is the best option for more advanced sites, especially e-commerce sites.
Use keywords that your target audience would search for to get a better search engine ranking. There are several tools available from Google, Overture, and third party software developers that can make the keyword research process easier. Sprinkle the keywords you've chosen throughout your text, but not to the extent that it hurts the quality of your content. Creating pages that are optimized for the search engines will help you get your site found which is really more important than design. What good is a site that no one sees?
Upload your website. Your web host may have an FTP feature, or you can download your own FTP program like FileZilla. If you hired a professional to design the website, he or she may take care of this for you.
Test drive your website. When you finish your website, do usability testing. You can do this by simply asking a few friends or family members to use your website. Give them a specific task like "edit your profile" or "buy an alpaca sweater from the bargains page." Sit behind them and watch them navigate. Do not help them. You will likely find areas where you need to improve navigation or clarify some instructions.
Advertise. Submit your site to major search engines. Tell your friends. Use an e-mail address with your domain. Visit other websites that complement (not compete with) yours, and offer to exchange links. Post constructively on blogs and forums, and put your URL in your signature.
Use article marketing to get back links to your website which will also help your website get found by the search engines.
Provide quality content and service. Take constructive feedback seriously. Other band members, fans, and friends may all have easier navigation ideas. Think about your target market: their needs, their frustrations, their circumstances, and seek to make their lives easier. Strive for a win-win situation for you and your visitors.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

How to Clear Acne Fast - In Under a Week

If you want to clear acne fast and have been wasting money on creams and harmful drugs, you are doing it all wrong! There is an all natural approach to getting rid of acne, and it's easier than you may think.
It doesn't matter if you have blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, cystic acne...
It's all the same in the long run because it's all formed the same way.
So if you're in the same boat as I was, here are some tips that will help you get rid of acne in under a week:
# Stop using topical creams and harmful drugs
Creams will only make your acne worse if you ever stop using them. They only address the symptoms of your pimples and zits and not the root cause. Anti-biotics are even worse because acne eventually becomes immune the drug and comes back full force, if not worse!
And don't even get me started on Accutane. I believe it's one of the most harmful drugs ever invented...
# Start eating acne-fighting foodsThere are certain foods out there that have an amazing capability to halt acne in its tracks. Foods that have omega-3, for instance, are excellent anti-inflammatory choices.
# Stop eating acne-forming foodsOn the flip side, there are certain foods that you may be eating that have a dramatic effect on causing acne. If you don't get rid of these foods, you could have acne well into your adult life (I've even talked to people with severe acne in their 50s!)
Acne is very treatable and very misunderstood.
All you need is the right information to get completely clear, and it takes less than a week if you follow the right program.
My name is Chase Michaels, and I feel your pain. I suffered with acne for almost half of my life.
I couldn't even go swimming with friends or talk to girls because of how bad my body acne was.
If you're sick and tired of feeling like crap because of this disgusting and embarrassing disorder, learn how to clear acne fast today.

Monday, August 17, 2009

How to Learn a New Language

Being multi-lingual is a huge asset these days because of cultural communication barriers. Here are some language-learning tips.
Step 1
Buy a textbook that teaches the language. This is a rather old-fashioned way of learning a new language, but its still effective if you are disciplined enough to learn it.
Step 2
Try a computer program that teaches the language, like Rosetta Stone. This is a great interactive program that will speed up your learning process. Though it can be pricey, its money well spent if you are committed to learning the language.
Step 3
Try to surround yourself with people that are fluent in the language. This will help you pick up on the language and learn some of the common slang used by people who speak the language naturally.
Step 4
Quiz yourself daily. Try to remember certain terms in the other language and test your memory of them. If you are constantly thinking in another language, you will learn it quickly.

How to Clean Up Your Computer

All computers get bogged down with scattered files and cookies at some point. This lowers overall performance and can make a PC sluggish and laggy. Here are some ways to speed up your computer.
Step 1
Run a disk defragmentation. This system tool will rearrange the files on your hard drive and ask if you would like to delete unnecessary files and folders. Performing these actions will free up more hard drive space and help your computer run faster and more efficiently.
Step 2
Perform a disk cleanup. This is similar to a disk defragmentation and will also help in speeding up performance and response rate of your PC.
Step 3
Buy additional RAM. RAM is important when using multiple applications at once. Having more RAM means that your computer can multitask much better and quicker.

How to Buy a Car

Vehicles are a big financial investment. You don't want to go into a car dealership and be suckered into an expensive deal with minimal features. Here's how you can work with a car salesman to get a good deal on a car.
Step 1
Always test drive the vehicle if this is an option. You want to get a feel for the car so you know what you are buying.
Step 2
Don't just take what the salesman is offering. You can negotiate terms like additional vehicle features or more cash back. Its a give and take process, so don't be too rigid.
Step 3
Review your monetary situation and select a reasonable term and rate for financing the vehicle. You don't want too high of a note or too low, because interest will add up at a ridiculous rate.
Step 4
Compare prices at different dealerships. Don't just take the first deal you see, cause something better could be around the corner.
Step 5
Compare similar makes and models of vehicles. Some brands have better reputations than others, such as reliability and cheap vehicles.

How to Check Pulse Rate

Your pulse rate says something about your circulation and blood volume. A bounding pulse is usually good, while a weak pulse normally isn't. Here's how you can find yours easily in your own home.
Step 1
Make sure you are in a somewhat rested state. Taking your pulse right after vigorous exercise will shoot your pulse through the roof and won't be an accurate reading.
Step 2
Palpate, or feel around, for your radial pulse. This is the easiest location to take a pulse and should be easy to feel for. Hold your index and middle fingers together on the pulse site and hold.
Step 3
Get some type of watch or clock nearby. You will need this to count to either 30 seconds or a minute. Count to 30 seconds if your pulse has a regular rhythm, 60 seconds if it has an irregular rhythm.
Step 4
If you counted for 30 seconds, multiply your number by 2. If not, your 60 second measurement is your pulse rate, or heart rate. 60-100 is normal for a healthy adult. If you find that your pulse rate is out of this range, you might want to seek medical attention asap.

How to Build Up Your Credit Score

Unless you are made of money, you will need to have a good credit rating at some point or another to finance a car, house, etc. Here are a few tips on how to raise your credit rating to a good level so you'll have longer finance times and lower interest rates!
Step 1
Starting out, you will have credit score of 0. This means to get a credit card, you will more than likely need a co-signer. A parent or close friend with good credit would be an ideal choice for a co-signer. Don't forget to make payments though, as this will hurt both your credit ratings and defeat your purpose.
Step 2
Try to buy something at least once a month with your credit card and pay it off. This will raise your credit score and avoid the high interest rates most credit cards carry with them.
Step 3
You can always check your current credit rating using a site such as . However, this service will begin to charge you each month, so cancel it promptly if you wish to avoid the fees.
Step 4
Take advantage of sales and promotions, such as Best Buy's no interest for X amount of months, depending on the price of the item you're buying. This means you can draw out your payments on the product over the 0% interest term and raise your credit score while paying a small monthly balance.
Step 5
All credit card companies have incentives, such as points or cash back for buying certain items, such as gas or groceries. Utilize these credit card benefits as much as you can.

How to Pick an Appropriate Computer Monitor Resolution

Find yourself squinting at your computer screen or signing at the massive size of your buttons and menu? Here's a simple way to set your computer monitor resolution to a good size you'll enjoy and one that is fit for your PC.
Step 1
To change your resolution, right click the desktop background and select Properties. A tabbed window will appear, and you should select Settings on the far right side. Here is where you can modify your resolution settings. Under Screen Resolution, there should be a drop-down menu where the available screen resolution sizes are posted. 800x600 is normally the default setting for a desktop computer.
Step 2
If you have vision problems, it would be in your best interest to select a resolution that isn't too high. 1280x1024 is my current resolution, but i have 20/20 vision. A lower resolution might be better for the person with corrective lenses.
Step 3
You must pick a resolution that your computer can handle. The higher the numbers go, the more strain your computer is put under. Your computer's graphics card quality will determine how high the max resolution is.

How to Choose the Right IRA for You

If you are looking into retirement planning, you might have come across Roth IRAs and Traditional IRAs. Here are a few tidbits of information on both and how to choose which one is best suited for you!
Step 1
One of the main differences between the 2 types of IRAs is the way they are taxed. Traditional IRAs are tax-deferred, while Roth IRAs are tax-sheltered; Meaning you pay no tax upon withdrawing at retirement age with a Roth and tax is deferred until withdrawing with a Traditional.
Step 2
There are some income requirements for a Roth IRA. A single tax-filer can't make any more than $95,000 a year, and no more than $150,000 a year for married couples. However, there are no income requirements for a Traditional IRA.
Step 3
When using a Traditional IRA, withdrawals begin at 59 1/2 and become mandatory by age 70 1/2. There is no mandatory distribution age with a Roth IRA. If you withdraw your funds from a Roth IRA early, there will be no tax on the principal contributions. Pulling out money early from a Traditional IRA means a 10% penalty on your total.

P.S. I prefer pre-taxed, that way I don't have to worry what taxes will be in the future.

How to Protect Your PC

Hackers and computer geeks out there are constantly writing and programming viruses that can harm your computer. Here are a few ways you can safeguard your PC from these malicious software threats.
Step 1
Have a firewall on at all times. This is a necessary safety tool that will help filter incoming content to your PC and help block outside invaders from gaining access to your system. All recent Windows operating systems come with a built-in firewall that you can adjust via the Control Panel.
Step 2
Simply having a firewall usually isn't enough. Try downloading a virus scanner and an adware/spyware remover. These programs are programmed to search for malicious software and remove if from your system. AVG is a great virus protection program that can be downloaded for free from . Ad-aware is also a good program for removing ad/spyware from your system. It is also available for download from .
Step 3
Configure your programs to regularly scan your system at a certain time daily or weekly. This will ensure on-going and current protection. Most programs have a readout of programs found and give you the option to quarantine or delete them.
Step 4
If you are connected to a wireless network, get a knowledgeable friend or find a website that explains how to lock/encrypt your network. A hacker within range of your network can connect with no trouble at all and send you a virus that could destroy your system and its files.
Step 5
More and more people are subscribed to broadband internet. This type of internet connection is usually on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you want to help protect your computer even further from threats, you can unplug your Ethernet (internet) cable from the back of your computer when it isn't in use. Without being connected to the internet, your computer is safe from outside attackers.

P.S. Ad-aware is a great program. I have it on all my computers.

How to Diversify Your Investments

Never put all your eggs in one basket. This is a saying that definitely applies to personal finance. I can help show you a few different avenues to invest your money in, which will keep you safe in the long run!
Step 1
Open up a checking and/or savings account. You've probably already done or plan to do this. Checking accounts are better to use in conjunction with debit cards. Savings should be where you stash some of your paychecks each month to build up a base "emergency fund", which should be at least 6 months worth of rent/bills.
Step 2
Try putting a significant chunk into a CD (certificate of deposit). This means that your money will be held and loaned out by the bank. You can't touch that amount for however long you designate, but it will gain a higher rate of interest than a normal savings account. 6 months and up are the terms, with longer terms gaining higher interest rates.
Step 3
Invest some in mutual funds or bonds. Mutual funds are fantastic for good returns over a long period of time. They work their magic by investing your monies into several different stocks and/or money markets, thereby decreasing risk and usually increasing profits. An average mutual fund should have a return of 8-12%. If you are a novice at finance, i would suggest opening up a fund and having it managed by a professional broker organization, such as Fidelity, Prudential, or Edward Jones.
Step 4
Another option is putting a decent amount of money into precious metals, such as gold or silver. This ensures that if by some tragic mishap, the economy crashes, you would have something left, as gold and silver can be traded and have universal value.
Step 5
Lastly, you could keep cash on hand under your mattress like the old folks used to do. This is somewhat old fashioned, but might suit you if you are one that doesn't trust banks. With the economy the way it is, i can't say i'd blame you!

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How to Start Living Off Internet Income

Although hard, it is possible to live off of your internet income if you play your cards right. There are many sites online that pay you to advertise for them, write articles like eHow, etc etc. Here's a few ideas on how to get started living your dream!
Step 1
Find a baseline income that is supplemental at first. For example, if you make 400-500 dollars a month writting articles, then use that to supplement your job income each month.
Step 2
Begin searching for other ways, like blogs, that will reward you for time put in to helping their cause. Affiliate marketing is becoming big nowadays. This is where you agree to promote a product a company is selling, and in return, when a customer buys the product, you get a hefty percentage of the profit.
Step 3
Once you have a couple of online cash cows churning, you can begin looking for bigger fish to fry, such as investing in the stock market, buying timeshares, renting out condos, etc. You must first have money to make money. Being an entrepreneur means taking risks but the rewards can be well worth it!

How to Set Up Direct Deposit

Our society uses computers more and more everyday for simple things. One of these such things is switching from hard checks to direct depositing. Here are a few simple tips on how to set up direct deposit if your job or company offers it.
Step 1
Have a checking or savings account set up first, of course. This is where the money you earn from your job/company will be sent on payday.
Step 2
Check with your boss to see if you are available for direct deposit. Some companies do not offer it, so don't waste your time if this is not even an option.
Step 3
If your company does indeed support direct deposit, call your bank and obtain your account number and routing number. This is the information your company will need to route your paycheck straight into your account.
Step 4
Direct deposit can also be used for drafting money straight into savings accounts, retirement accounts, monthly mutual fund payments, etc. Having money direct deposited out of your check for savings purposes helps you get into the habit since you don't even have the money available to spend. Out of sight, out of mind.

How to Turn a Profit on Foreclosures

The housing market, as well as the U.S. economy, is doing quite badly at this time. Foreclosures are higher than ever before and now is the time to capitalize on them. I can show you a few simple tips to help you turn a profit on a foreclosed house.
Step 1
Find a website or library that shows you a list of foreclosures and upcoming foreclosures in your area. This will let you know where to go to look for the properties.
Step 2
Once you find a couple of properties that interest you, go scope them out. Try to avoid houses that are in really bad shape. If they only need a handful of odd repairs, then they are still a safe bet.
Step 3
Sometimes you can buy the homes through the bank or at auctions. Discover whichever is available to you and try to purchase the home as cheaply as possible.
Step 4
If you succeed in purchasing a property, then begin to work on fixing up the house to sell-able condition. Ask yourself if you would buy the property based on its location, look, and landscape.
Step 5
Once you've fixed the house up, look for a potential buyer. Offer to show the buyer the house and what you've done to fix it up. Normally you can turn a nice profit on a home that you've purchased. Youtube has great instructional videos on playing the foreclosure market.

How to Save Money on Everyday Items

There are simple ways that you can save money on everyday items. Here's how.
Step 1
Clip coupons for groceries. This is a great way to save a nice chunk of change when going to the grocery store. You can get coupons from almost anywhere and they are widely accepted.
Step 2
If you are a student or avid reader, try using to order your books. They usually have low prices and offer new and used books. Amazon also sells many other things besides books. Try looking around and consider purchasing other items through this reliable website.
Step 3
Try using your credit card(s) that have benefits for buying certain things, such as gasoline or groceries. You can make free money just by spending your own on gasoline or groceries that you would buy anyway.
Step 4
Target and Walmart are great places for cheap clothing. They have a decently large selection with great prices. They are also great at offering other items for competitive prices.
Step 5
Try getting friends and family to help whenever possible. This involves routine errands such as getting a haircut if your friends know how, washing your own car at home, cooking food and eating leftovers for a day or 2 later, etc etc. Try to cut corners whenever possible without hurting essential needs.

How to Keep Track of Your Money

It's easy to go on the occasional spending spree and then cringe when you check the balance. I can show you a few tips that will help you avoid that situation and keep track of where your money goes.
Step 1
Do online banking with your checking/savings accounts. Transactions used with your card usually go through instantly and you can see a list of all transactions on the bank website once you have signed up for online banking.
Step 2
Keep a mental note of the cash in your wallet/purse. Each time you buy something in cash, mentally subtract the amount from what you have. This will keep your mental math sharp and let you know how much you have left. Also, always try and add up the change mentally that you should get back before the cashier hands it to you. This will help prevent you from being short-changed.
Step 3
If you use checks, always balance your deposits/withdrawals/spending immediately after one has taken place. This will help ensure that you don't forget to note a transaction. It's easier to not spend as much when you have a hard copy of transactions staring you in the face.
Step 4
Be conscious of your credit balance/debt. Remember the limit that you have on the card and don't EVER go over it. This will hurt your credit rating and drag you down into a sea of debt if you let it.

Let me add this. All your money should have a specific purchase or savings goal! Make sure you know what it is so you can spend as wisely as possible. Good.

How to Keep a Good Credit Score

During this day and time, many purchases that we make will need to be used with credit. If you must purchase something on credit, having a higher score is definitely desirable! Here are some tips to help keep your credit score at a level that will allow you great competitive interest rates!
Step 1
First off, you need to establish credit if you haven't yet. This can be done by having someone close to you, a friend or family member, "co-sign" on a credit card and/or purchase to help you establish credit. You start off with no credit whatsoever and this is built up by buying things with your credit card and paying it off accordingly.
Step 2
Now that you have credit, do your best to keep your credit card balance(s) at or below 25% of your limit. Keeping your balance at this percentage or below lets the credit card companies that you are very likely to continue paying off your debt and are a reliable borrower. This will maintain or increase your credit score!
Step 3
If you are a college student and have taken out school loans, these is "good debt" and will help your credit score as it shows you are trying to better yourself and will probably end up making more money once you get out of school and pay them off.
Step 4
Don't just casually open up new credit cards at very many places or keep too many credit lines open. If you have a credit card that has been inactive for a very long time, occasionally make a small purchase and pay it off or cancel the card altogether. You want to make yourself appear as reliable as possible to the credit agencies and keeping too many credit lines open defeats this purpose!
Step 5
Always at least pay the minimum on your balance! This will prevent any credit reports being filed on you which can drastically lower your score. Paying at least the minimum payment each month shows that you are trying to work on the balance instead of not paying anything at all.

Tips & Warnings
* Learn from people around you with good credit scores
* Don't take on more debt than you can handle
* Only accept credit cards with low interest rates
* Keep low balances!

How to Be Successful in Life

Working at a dead-end job with few friends and a ton of bills? Ever wanted to be that guy in the business suit or the care-free traveler? I can give you a few basic tips to help you be productive and successful in this day and age.
Step 1
Get an education. This is basically mandatory nowadays. Its extremely difficult to find a high wage job with only a high-school degree or GED. A bachelor's degree is the standard and soon a masters degree will be almost necessary to succeed. These degrees and diplomas inform your potential employer that you have discipline and critical thinking ability and will work hard to achieve success and productivity.
Step 2
Be friendly. This will allow you to meet some unique and exciting people along your road of life. Chit-chatting when you get the chance also can possibly get you the hook-up with higher level business people or executives.
Step 3
Be helpful. What goes around, comes around. If you take time out of your days to help others and the community, it will benefit you as a person and enhance your self-esteem and well-being. Selflessness and generosity are great assets in today's world.
Step 4
Work hard. At every job you are employed, bust your butt to get the job done. Go above and beyond and people will notice. When it comes time to be interviewed by the big dogs, you will have references of past bosses who will recommend you and commend you on your worthiness to them. If you have a reputation for diligence and hard work, it will follow you. This also goes both ways. Don't slack off!
Step 5
Go out and mingle with the ladies. This is probably one of the best ways to find a good mate. If you have good social skills, humor, and integrity, women will notice. It isn't always about money. At the end of the day, family matters the most.

How to Survive in a Recession

More obviously now than ever, the U.S. economy is in a down-spiraling recession. Here are some ways you can stay in the green during these difficult financial times.
Step 1
Pay off debt. This is one of the easiest ways to stay out of the red. Debt, if left untended, can very easily have a snowball effect and be very difficult to escape from. Getting rid of your debt is a great step toward putting more money in your pocket and less in the CC company's.
Step 2
Buy with cash when possible. It's harder to spend hard cash than it is to swipe a card, because you physically see the money leaving your wallet/purse. This technique helps you keep a mental note of where you are at financially.
Step 3
Make yourself indispensable at your job. During times of financial turmoil, companies tend to cut back on workforce, eliminating those who aren't necessary for the well-being of the company. If you are constantly working hard and staying busy, your boss will notice and more than likely keep you around through thick and thin.
Step 4
Hold onto your investments. Selling stocks, bonds, or cashing in IRAs and mutual funds is a terrible idea at this point. You've ridden the financial roller-coaster up to this point, so there is no reason you shouldn't see it through until the economy picks up again. Your money will actually go farther because investment options are cheaper.

How to Conserve Gasoline

In this day and age, gasoline prices are higher than ever before. Here's a few tips on how to make the gasoline in your tank work better for you and give you longer stretches between fill-ups!
Step 1
Drive around 55mph, or the speed limit. Excessive speeding will decrease your miles per gallon, increasing fill-ups and gas expense.
Step 2
Try to make all your errands in one trip. If this isn't feasible, try grouping errands by area of town. This will ensure that you don't keep leaving the house to do one thing at a time.
Step 3
Try coasting up to stoplights. If you can continue to coast until the light is green, this will save some gas from stopping and going at each light. It's easier to continue moving than starting from 0mph.
Step 4
Carpool with friends and take turns using cars. This will help to reduce the amount of gas you spend, as well as your friends' gas usage.

How to Save Money on Household Cleaning Supplies

Just because they are cleaning supplies doesn't mean they aren't luxuries! Here's how to stretch your dollar by stretching your cleaning supplies - and replace some with very low cost alternatives.
Step 1
Hand Soap for bathrooms and kitchens: buy hand soap in those dispensers with the soap dispensed in a foamy lather. Also purchase a large refill bottle of hand soap - which will save you money right off the bat. When the dispensers empty, fill them only 1/5-1/3 of the way with the refill soap - and fill the rest with water. Swish gently to mix, and pump a few times to get the foam flowing. Dispensing soap this way also saves water - you don't have it running while you make a lather!
Step 2
Buy cleaning concentrates. I bought both all-purpose cleaner and a germicide concentrates years ago from Shaklee, but janitorial supplies would have similar products. That's right, I said years. I mix just a 1/2 teaspoon with 16 ounces of water for basic cleaner, and use a little less concentrate for glass cleaner. The germicide is a cleaner, but is also anti-bacterial. Buy some good spray bottles and mix up your solutions - label clearly.
Step 3
Buy cloth diapers for cleaning cloths. They are lint free, and very inexpensive, and you'll save a lot on paper towels! Just toss in the laundry when you're done cleaning. I also use a diaper on one of those fancy mops - I tuck it around the mop head and spritz with a little cleaner or plain water to give the floor a quick wipe or dusting. No more reason to buy those boxes of mop cloth refills.
Step 4
A cup of white vinegar in a sink of hot water is great for mopping floors. Vinegar kills bacteria, mold and germs, is cheap and leaves no soap residue. I used to buy floor cleaners, and ended up with cloudy floors - the soap was not drying clear. Vinegar and water cuts grease and leaves my floors sparkling.
Step 5
Don't bother at all with fabric softener. I gave it up years ago when I noticed my towels were getting less absorbent. I find since most of our clothing is cotton, which doesn't usually get static, I don't miss it. Polyester fabrics might get static - but just spritz with a bit of water.
Step 6
Generic shampoo gets your hair as clean as the name brands. Really and truly they do. If you must have your name brand hair product, spend the money on the conditioner - some of which actually remains on your hair.
Step 7
Generic baby wipes in the car make for easy clean up of sticky hands, and I've also used them to wipe down my dusty dashboard. Check the unit price and buy the cheapest you can.
Step 8
Always keep a dish towel next to the kitchen sink, and hide the paper towels under the sink. We save a ton of paper towels this way - if they are on the counter, everyone uses them to dry their hands without thinking twice. Make them think twice!
Tips & Warnings
Make sure to label cleaning products clearly - and keep out of reach of pets and children

How to Stretch Your School Supply Dollar

Sending your kids back to school does not have to be expensive or stressful. With a little planning and shopping at the right time, families may find it can be easy to stretch your school supply dollar.
Step 1
Set a fixed dollar amount to spend on your supply budget and do not exceed the limit. Consider using a preloaded debit card or setting aside a fixed dollar amount for your supply budget in an envelope. Once the cash is depleted, no more can be spent on school expenses.
Step 2
Shop smart. Begin in late July and early August or when you see school supply advertisements on TV or in the newspaper. Stores have the best inventory of school supplies during these times. Browse the seasonal department at most discount stores for 10 cent to one dollar bins.
Step 3
Stock up on only school items required and replenished frequently during the year. For example, staples like notebooks, folders, and writing utensils. Investing more initially will save you time and hassle later on.
Step 4
Search the coupon section in weekly advertisements and make trips to several different stores to stretch your dollar further. Coupons offer substantial discounts over the retail price of these school supplies. Buy the maximum amount the coupon allows, to stretch your school supply dollar more. Do not forget the buy one, get one free offers to save money in creative ways.
Step 5
Shop for school supplies in obscure areas. For example, home improvement stores keep a nice variety of school supplies, and many are under one dollar!
Step 6
Start a school supply pool with other neighbors and mothers in your child's grade or classroom at the beginning of the school year. Each home will stock one full year of just one of the supplies needed on the school supply list (found at most local stores). These will not include specialty or big ticket items. The swap will happen once per year, or as designated by school group participants.
Step 7
Use department store coupons or credit cards for discounts on back to school clothing and backpacks. These eat up a good portion of your school supply dollar. You may find you get quality name brand items for a lot less. And these items last longer than bargain clothing, shoes and backpacks. Remember to pay credit card bills in full when they are due or you will have lost your savings on finance charges.
Step 8
Shop thrift stores and bargain stores for one dollar or less school supplies. These come in handy for the items the child will need. They offer bargains throughout the year, and the supplies are generally new and good quality.

Tips & Warnings:
* If you cannot afford the school supplies all at once, buy a little each week or month. Chances are your child will not need them all right at the beginning of school.
* Keep your supply list with you in case you run into bargains when you are out shopping for other household needs.
* It is not always necessary to buy the brands the teacher recommends. You can get much less expensive supplies with the off brands.
* Do not try to shop

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How to Buy a Desktop PC

The big picture Before you go shopping for a new desktop computer, ask yourself this question: "What am I going to do with it?" We'll guide you through the options.
The specs explained From CPUs and motherboards to LCD monitors and optical storage, we'll clear up the jargon -- and tell you which specs are most important to your purchase.
Desktop PC shopping tips Want some advice before you head to the store or visit a Web site? Our recommendations will help you build a system that fits your needs and your pocketbook.
The big picture
Most people buy a PC to browse the Web, to check and send e-mail, and to juggle the occasional Word document or spreadsheet. Today, even the least-expensive, lowest-of-the-low-end system can perform any of those jobs admirably -- and do it for well under $1,000.

If you have particular needs, many PC vendors allow you to customize and upgrade their base-model PCs with a mind-boggling selection of features. Require extra storage? Pick a larger hard drive. Want extra memory? Load up with 4GB of RAM. Ready to burn Blu-ray Discs or to watch HD DVD movies? Choose an optical drive that supports your preferred format.
We recommend that you take your time and select only what you need today, based on the following guidelines. If your budget allows, buy what you anticipate needing within the next year.
If you're into editing digital video or managing a large database, you'll need to set your sights a little higher. Look beyond the basics for systems starting in the $1,500 to $2,000 range. Feel the need for speed?
The gaming-PC market continues to grow at an exponential rate. Devoted gamers won't balk at spending more than $3,000 on a computer to ensure that they enjoy maximum performance. Such PCs usually feature overclocked CPUs and dual-graphics-card setups. Don't be fooled though: Gaming isn't just a bleeding-edge hobby anymore. Originally the domain of niche companies producing high-end machines, the gaming-PC market is now the battleground for bigger companies craving a piece of the action. That means you'll find a larger number of capable gaming computers at cheaper prices.

The specs explained
The processor
If you plan to use your PC for standard office productivity and basic Internet tasks, almost any processor will do. But if you want more power, an Intel Core 2 Duo chip is probably your best bet over an AMD Athlon 64 X2 processor. Though both are dual-core processors, which will allow for faster multitasking and speedier performance on certain kinds of graphics and video applications, Intel has wrested the edge in performance back from AMD. To save a couple hundred dollars, buy one or two levels down from the top -- you're unlikely to lose more than 5 to 10 percent per tier in performance.
For maximum performance when multitasking or when using demanding, multithreaded applications, you may wish to investigate quad-core CPUs such as the 3-GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme Processor QX6850, or the dual-core 2.93-GHz Core 2 Extreme X6800; both processors are popular in high-performance gaming machines and power PCs.
For anyone playing games or manipulating audio or video on a regular basis, having a four-core processor can potentially deliver benefits. We qualify that statement because, aside from a few games such as "Crysis" and "World in Conflict," the list of optimized applications is short, dominated by expensive offerings such as the latest versions of Adobe's Premiere Pro and Encore DVD, Autodesk's 3ds Max and Steinberg's Cubase 4.
Additional multithreaded software titles are on the way, however, and eventually every activity that can benefit from multiple-core processing will do so, as multiple CPUs work together to get jobs done faster. Intel's current quad-core desktop speed kings work well in any LGA775-socket-based motherboard, so you can upgrade at any time.
Unfortunately, AMD is a little behind in the high-end, high-performance quad-core CPU race. Int our tests, AMD's Phenom 9600 CPUs performed about as well as year-old chips. There's little incentive to buy into AMD's vision of its unified "Spider" platform. At least not yet.
For the time being, though quad-core sounds sexy, dual-core is the sweet spot for most users. Early adopters can elect to buy a quad-core processor now and see better performance with the few optimized applications.

Tip: Intel and AMD have detailed CPU-comparison tables on their respective Web sites.